Prioritize

Hello Friends ,

I’ve been trying to write this post for the past two weeks. Another epiphany struck me, just as summer set in here in Portland. I need to get my sh@# together. Seriously. It is time for me to start taking responsiblity for my life, for my goals, for my wants/needs/desires, for everything that I convince myself I can control in my little universe. What a sweet notion this is :).

With the kids being home from school, and my partner starting night classes at the community college, life got a bit hectic. I think we all handled ourselves pretty well, and there weren’t nearly as many catastrophic freak outs as I thought there would be. However, these changes did help me recognize that I put up with a lot of bullsh#% from myself that is really unnecessary. I make life harder than it needs to be, and this stresses me out, stresses my kids out, and generally makes life unpleasant and chaotic. So, I decided to stop doing all that and PRIORITIZE. Here is a short list of what I am going to put my time and energy into in the coming days/weeks/months. I’d love to hear what you are spending you energy on, so after you read my list, shoot me a list of your own!

I’ve always been adamant about putting family first. It always seems like the hardest to pull off, and it always feels the worst when something prevents me from fulfilling my responsibilities to the people I care most about. I work hardest on this one, because I know if I don’t have the foundation of love, support and accountability I need to continue to grow as a human being, I would be utterly lost in the world. My kids and Alix deserve the most from me, so I am committing myself to being the best partner/parent I can be.

Work only comes second because of how closely it is tied to the my first priority. I need to support my family by doing well at my chosen profession, and diligently endeavor to achieve excellence in whatever undertaking I choose to pursue. My work also gives me purpose and drive to grow academically, and develop my personality to thrive in a variety of different situations. As a coach, I spend much of my time working hard to ensure people clearly understand specific concepts, and teaching them how to articulate those concepts in a physical reality using their own bodies and other implements. Really, it is just excercise, but I will work to make it something special.

Training is a close third because it is also tied so closely to the first two. To be able demonstrate a Muscle-Up, it really helps if you can DO  a Muscle-Up, so I practice ALOT.  Also, physical activity helps me keep an even keel. I won’t ever claim that I have ADHD, but sometimes when I think about it real hard, the shoe fits pretty well, if you know what I mean. I NEED to move. Thrashing around with a barbell, or testing how long I can hold a handstand, or trying to beat my previous burpee record all serve to keep me active, fit, healthy and sane. Training helps me do my job well, which in turn, helps me take care of my family here. I bet you are beginning to see how these are all intertwined…

Friends don’t get nearly enough time, in my opinion. My social schedule obviously revolves around the first three priorities, and those often take up all the hours in the day. When I do socialize, it is often with the same people I train/work with. This isn’t necessarily a good or bad scenario, but it can get a bit awkward sometimes when people don’t act like adults, and they allow the lines of those respective circles to blur, and then shit can get messy. Recently, I have been working on expanding my social circle, but it hasn’t worked very well so far. I’ve also tried contacting a few long, lost friends from my past, but quality time and positive interaction with those people have been fleeting at best. Internet dating sites are a bit awkward, but I am trying it out, just to see who is out there in the big, wide world. You never know, until you look, right?

Writing comes last, and for this, I punch myself in the face on a regular basis. Words are my passion, and often, the best way to find common ground with other people.  I assume that is why you all continue to read what I write, and find some value in this blog. Right now, I am trying my best to bang out the last few paragraphs of this essay, so I can grab the kids, and jet off to the river for a bit before the sun tucks itself back behind the clouds. I don’t spend nearly enough time editing, or rewriting, or spellchecking, or idea-finding. I don’t spend nearly enough time using my words to alter the world around me in a positive way. I don’t spend nearly enough time using my worlds to affect social change, or to challenge the dominant paradigm of Amerikan culture, or rage against the injustice and insanity I see around me every day. I don’t spend nearly enough time using my words to tell people I love them, or to spread good cheer, or to make new friends, or send encoragement to someone I know needs it most. I NEED to write more!

This is a pretty short list, but I think it is necessary to pare down and focus. Even with only five items, I know there will always be something that isn’t getting my full attention, and there will always be something that I need to spend more time on. But, at least now I have a starting point, and I have plan of action. What are your priorities today? Who or what do you want to spend more time with? What goals and dreams are you chasing this summer? Drop me a line and let me know what is on your mind :). Until next time…

Peace.Tobias.

How Awesome Are You?

Sometimes I forget how awesome I am.

Repeat that to yourself and see how it changes your day. It has taken me thirty-one years to figure out that it is okay for me to remind myself how awesome I am.  See, every year, leading up to my birthday, I spend a week over-analyzing the last twelve months of my life and working to find some significance in my existence. I think I lead a pretty awesome life, so I always come up with some good stuff, but this year was especially poignant and revealing. I’d like to share my epiphany with you now :).

Now, before you label me a narcissistic, egotistical a##hole, please let me be clear. My “awesomeness”, (and your awesomeness as well), does not come from the cornucpoia of gifts we are blessed with, but rather from the plethora of faults, quirks, fu%$ ups, scars, misses and failures that constitute the majority of our lives. I believe these experiences are what teach us all the important lessons in life. I also believe it is an unrealistic expectation to tell oursevles to ignore our broken side, in favor of some impossible search for perfection. Which brough me to my lightbulb moment; I realized this year that it is okay to be who I am, with all the good, bad and ugly stuff that makes me “me”.  I realized that I wanted live the life I want to live. With this realization,  I made the choice to live authentically.

For some of you, my  realization might be a simple reminder for how you already live your life. To you, I say, “well done”.  Accepting yourself, with all the craziness and quirkiness that makes you “you”, is no easy task. The trial and error proccess of finding out who you really are, and then coming to terms with who you are, and then taking responsiblity and ownership of everything that makes you an individual, is not something easily acheived. You deserve all the confidence, self-respect, pride and happiness you’ve earned.

For others, this may be an entirely foreign concept. Like me, you probably grew up comparing yourself to some arbitrary standard, and attempting, with every fiber of your being, to be the person you imaginged other people thought you should be. You made concessions to other people’s opinions and advice, wanting so badly to be part of something bigger than yourself, but never really developing a personality or opinion of your own. As an adult, you continue this pattern by avoiding conflict, staying safe, coloring inside the lines. You are grateful for everything you have, but you have stopped dreaming and reaching for MORE. You are content with your life, but you have stopped pushing limits or taking risks, or tempting fate, because you worry you might ruin the “good thing” you have now. This mentality is killing our souls.

Growing another year older made me think back on the last twelve months of my life and evaluate what significance my life had. What impact did I have on world around me? What impact do I have on the people I spend time with? What challenges have I overcome? What lessons have I learned? What fears have I conquered? After thinking long and hard, I realized that I wasn’t living up to the standard I had set for myself. I was letting myself slip into comfort and safety. I was keeping up a facade in many aspects of my life, and working hard to convince myself that “settling” has it’s advantages. But that is not really who I want to be. That is not who I am.

Now, I am working to make every day an opportunity to life authentically and uapologetically as myself. It is okay for me to be good at what I do, and it is okay to be proud of my work. It is okay for me to be a less-than-perfect parent to my two beautiful children, and it is okay for me to be the best dad ever (when I can pull it off). It is okay for me love my amazing partner, and it is okay for me to show her how I feel in as many ways as I can possibly think of.  Sometimes it is okay for me to be an asshole and a hermit. Sometimes it is okay for me to be vulnerable and broken. Sometimes I will throw a fit, and sometimes I won’t have the right answer and sometimes I will push too hard. But I will do all that knowing I have responsibility for my gifts and my curses, for my faults and talents, and I am living my life as the person I want to be. I encourage you to all try to do the same :).

Until next time..

Peace.Tobias.

A Fool-Proof Method For Making Your Relationship Work

Hello Friends 🙂

Today, I am reposting something Alix found on Facebook a few days ago. I’m not sure who wrote it, but I respectfully give all credit where it is due. I’m sure some of you have already read this; that’s okay, read it again and memorize it and pass it on. There is some incredible info here, and it fits right in with the message of the Living Revolution. I’d love to hear your thoughts, so drop a comment, shoot me an email or message me on Facebook. Read the whole thing, I am sure you will find something valuable to use in your life. Until next time…

Peace.Tobias.

A Fool-Proof Method For Making Your Relationship Work

Love. Sex. Boys and Girls. The same problems and frustrations again and again. We’ve all been there a million times, and still might be wondering when we’ll find that ONE, that perfect person we want to stay with forever and ever. Even if we’re in a relationship, we reach that point where the person we’re with doesn’t feel as special as they used to. Maybe we start picking at their flaws or noticing other people, wondering if we’d be happier with them. And once again, the relationship begins its slow decline.

What if you could guarantee a spark that lasted – no matter who you were with – and a happier life to go along with it?

The ancient teachings of Buddhism suggest that we can do just that if we transform our relationships into Spiritual Partnerships. If we use our relationships to make us wiser, kinder and more compassionate, we can actually change how they function. We can have the relationships and lives we’ve always dreamed of.

So what exactly is a Spiritual Partner? He or she is an ally for personal growth. You both decide that you want to work together to become your best selves as quickly as possible. You commit to helping and loving each other – and, here’s the key – everyone around you. Because, it is only when you are living love and kindness that your relationship will truly flourish. Try it and see. When put into practice you can make all your dreams come true.

How do you do it?

Whether you’re in a relationship or seeking a new one, here are 10 methods for building a Spiritual Partnership.

1. Commit to something higher

The element that elevates a “Spiritual Partnership” beyond an ordinary relationship is the revolutionary idea that your role is to support each other on your path to reach ultimate evolution, to become your best self. Get clear that what you are looking for is not just physical security or emotional support but spiritual evolution. This means you are supporting each other in your mutual quest to become a more “enlightened” being. Whatever goals you set for your relationship will dictate how it functions day to day. If your goal is company, or financial security, don’t expect long-term satisfaction. If your goal is radical evolution of your body, mind and spirit, expect fulfillment beyond your dreams.

2. Be what you want them to be.

Make a list of the qualities you most want in a partner. Instead of looking for amazing features in someone else, develop them in yourself. For example: If you want a partner with financial stability, get stable yourself! You want someone fun? BE fun! The beauty of perception is that you will see all your own qualities, both good and bad, reflected back to you in your partner. Be complete in yourself, and you will see completion in your partner.

3. Cleanse past relationships

Think of your exes. What comes to mind? If it’s anything other than love, you have some work to do. The images and feelings that arise in your memory color how you experience your current relationships. Learn to forgive. No matter how bad your past relationship was, it taught you exactly what you needed to learn. There is no reason not to love, ever.

4. Recognize change and use it to grow

Part of healing past relationships is embracing change. In Buddhist philosophy, this understanding is the foundation of wisdom. There’s no start without a finish, no beginning without an end, no life without death. Your relationship will transform as you each evolve. As Spiritual Partners, your job is to love and support each other through this process. Use change for growth—don’t fight it.

5. Cultivate a meditation practice, every day

If you want to see a wise, loving, spiritual partner, you must be that yourself. Create a daily practice that includes meditation or deep contemplation. There are a multitude of studies that prove the mental and physical health benefits of meditation. Learning to get still and meditate well is just like anything else: it takes training. Find and practice a method that speaks to you and connects you to something higher. The time and attention you give your meditation practice determines the results you will get. And don’t let it scare you – you can start with just a few minutes a day.
For guidance, check out : The Tibetan Book of Meditation or

http://www.dhamma.org/

6. Get Physical, every day

An important aspect of the relationship dynamic is how our body feels when we’re together. Touch, intimacy and connection are essential ingredients of Spiritual Partnerships. In order to have a satisfying intimate relationship, you must have a body that you feel good in. Yogic teachings explore the subtle energetic connections we have with each other. In order to access these deeper dimensions, your physical form must be healthy. Commit to a healthy diet that works with your needs. Commit to an exercise regimen that enlivens you. Do something fun! Turn yourself on, and watch what happens in your intimate partnership…

7. Face your demons

We all have baggage, right? We all have shadows that we don’t want to see. Being in a Spiritual Partnership requires that we grow up into the person we were meant to be. An essential step is bringing what we most deny in ourselves into the open. Partnerships are challenging. Your relationship is going to bring all your darkness to the surface. This is usually when the relationship ends, or when the “blame game” starts. Resolve instead to help each other work through the psychological issues that arise. And don’t think they won’t arise! Find a good coach or therapist, as necessary. Do this work and watch your hearts flower and your minds expand. Otherwise your own shadows will inevitably undo your relationship.

8. Date with an Angel, twice a month (at least!)

How you treat your relationship will create the results you experience. Is this the most special person on the planet to you? If so, how should you treat them? If you relate to them as a sacred being, they will be. If you treat them as ordinary, they will be. Make a commitment that you will have a “ Date with an Angel” twice a month. Remember the blissful feelings when you first met, and recreate those times. Dress up, go out to the best restaurant, or make their favorite meal at home. Take time to make everything special. Think about what they would like: flowers, gifts, the works! Plant the seeds to experience a sacred partner, and watch those seeds ripen into enchanted experiences.

9. Align Your visions

A Spiritual Partnership is all about supporting each other’s deepest desires. In order to stay together, your two visions must align. Ask each other: What do you most wish for? What is calling you? Explore these questions with courage and honesty. Your visions do not need to agree, but they need to align. Find the common aspects of both of your visions for the future. Maybe one of you wants to live abroad, while the other wants to live near family. Instead of getting caught in dualism, look for “third ways.” We can move mom with us! Or live each place 6 months a year. Be creative, open and positive. When you work from a place of love, solutions can always be found.

10. Go for your dreams

We are all meant to be the heroes of our own lives. No one can do it for you, even your spiritual partner. The best thing you can do for your relationship is to become the being you dream of, the being you were born to be.

Take 10 quite minutes alone, and do the following contemplation:
Imagine the end of your life. You are happy, healthy 100 years old.
You have accomplished everything you most dream of. No regrets, nothing left undone.
The 3 people you are closest to get up to speak of everything you have done and what they admire about you.

Spend some time writing down what they said.

Now is the time to step into that dream. A Spiritual Partnership is a beautiful and powerful method to help you achieve a perfect relationship and anything else your heart desires. Because in the end, it all comes down to love.

It’s ancient wisdom for modern times.

On Diversity

Hello Friends,

After finishing this post, I realized I have a bit more to say on the importance of standing out, and the importance of creating and maintaing diversity in our daily lives. I believe I have made my position clear on the value of accentuating your individuality, but I am not sure if I made clear how important diversity is to an effective Living Revolution.

Using the natural world as an example, we see that diversity provides animals, plants, and other organisms the most possible options for success. We also see that because of diversity, a variety of different species can coexist  symbiotically in a fairly small area as each fills a specific niche within a given ecosystem. Healthy, vibrant ecosystems function most effectively when diversity is maintained through the processes of natural selection, evolution, and adaptation.

Look at all the pretty colors! Sweet Diversity!

On the other end of the spectrum, we have monoculture. Here, the environment has been simplified and reduced to the lowest common denominator. Often, agribusinesses are based on the monoculture model which require massive amounts of fertilizers, insecticides, pesticides, and herbicides to maintain uniformity of the crop. This is not a natural environment and cannot exist without constant human intervention.

These images  symbolize only a fraction of the destructive reality of monoculture, and  it is easy to recognize that the process of creating a monoculture is not the most effective may to interact with the world around us. While a monoculture may yield an amazing amount of wheat or soybeans in the short term, the process is not sustainable in any sense of the word, and eventually the land base will be reduced to a desert wasteland.

Agribusiness offers a terrible example of what a monoculture can produce, but this is not the most important example. This process is often applied to societies by governments, in an effort to make people easier to control. Fear of, and hate for, “the other” are often used to establish a foundation in favor of reducing diversity, and once differences (however arbitrary), are established, the majority is easily led to believe a false reality. It has happened many times, all over the world, with disastrous results.

Does this idea look familiar to anyone else? It reminds me of something…
Ahhh, yes. Now I remember where I saw that kind of conformity.

It must be so confusing to be a racist and bigot. All around us are examples of how diversity, individuality, and heterogeneity make the world a healthier,  more vibrant, more interesting place to live. Especially in America, the mixing pot of the world’s races, ethnicities, and nationalities, it seems almost impossible to be convinced that one kind of person is better than another, or that one small, special group of people would fare better if everyone else were not around. Racism, and prejudice in general, are belief systems that exist despite millions of years worth of evidence to the contrary.  These beliefs go against logic, they go against reason, they go against science. As a species, we thrive on difference. As individuals, we need difference to define ourselves and recognize what makes us unique.

You might be wondering what all this has to do with the Living Revolution. So, I will tell you.

If we are going to achieve any lasting change, if the Living Revolution is going to be effective, we need to recognize the barriers that have been erected in our hearts and minds, as well as the physical barriers we have built in so many different places, and we need to begin working to dismantle those barriers. In the activist community, and in the world at large, we waste so much time evaluating our differences and determining how these differences prevent us from forming symbiotic relationships. We focus on the negative aspects of our differences and convince ourselves there are distinct groups with labels like “us” and “them”. From this mindset, there is a bigger picture that we are missing. If we all want change, and we are all willing to work toward positive change, then why does it matter if you want to get rid of car culture and I want lower taxes for the middle class? If we both aren’t satisfied with how things are now, and we want to create a different world, what does it matter if you want universal health care and I want to get rid of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations? The reality is all these things are connected, so why wouldn’t we all work together to achieve change? An united community all striving for change together is the only scenario that makes sense. For that to happen, we need to recognize our similarities and begin to focus on what brings us all together. Sweet Diversity!!

Until next time…

Peace.Tobias.

The Odd One Out

Hello Friends,

In an effort to keep these ramblings of mine focused on our reality, I recognize the need to be pragmatic about what we are doing here. The Living Revolution won’t always be about reading a blog, sharing a potluck, or having an longwinded, intellectual sparring match on Friday Nights. Eventually, we are going to start living and practicing what we believe. Eventually, we will transpose our thoughts into action, and we will create change in the world around us by behaving differently. Eventually, our diversity, desire and dedication will undermine the dominant paradigm, and we will recognize the part we play in making the world a better place to live. But first, something else must happen.

Before we reap the rewards of creative, forward thinking, we will be ridiculed. Before we reap the rewards of positive, life-altering change, we must endure the struggle to define ourselves. Before we shout our proclamations and revelations in the streets, we must share them quietly with confidants. Before we can re-invent who we are as individuals, we will endure the shame that will be heaped on us by people who cannot fathom living outside the constraints of the safety bubble of modern society. Because we consciously choose to think, talk, and behave differently, we will be ostracized. There are always consequences when challenging the dominant paradigm.

Some of us aren’t ready for that, for whatever reason. And some of us will never be ready for that commitment. Some of us will never be able to manifest a cognitive process in physical reality.  And some of us don’t believe any kind of real change will ever take place, because our opposition just seems so big and nasty and powerful, and how could we really ever alter that? This kind of thinking is the crack in our collective armor, and I don’t know how to address it.

On the other hand, some of us are already living parts of our beliefs. Some of us are pursuing our dreams, taking risks to do what we love, pushing boundaries and reaping the benefits. Some of us thrive on being the “odd one out”, because we understand and appreciate the process of thinking for ourselves, and we recognize how this separates us, in so many ways, from the larger mass of humanity. We constantly test what we believe, we constantly test our relationships, we constantly push ourselves to think critically and creatively about the world around us, because we know these actions and processes keep a fire burning inside us. Our desire is to live life because we know it is all we really have.

So, which one are you? Where is your head at right now? Step back and check out your life today, and see if there are places where your thoughts and beliefs might not be matching up with your actions. Where is the disconnect taking place? What gives you life today? What is sucking your soul away? What can you do to change these situations so they benefit you and the people around you? How willing are you to be the “odd one out”?

Drop a line and let me know what you think. Until next time…

Peace.Tobias

The Right Questions

Hello Friends,

In an effort to spur some intelligent response, I think I am going to start asking more questions. Generally, yes, but also specifically here on this blog. I can type a whole bunch of words telling you what I think about the world, but until we engage in a meaningful conversation and exchange points of view, this is really just a whole bunch of mental masturbation. We need more than that.

To begin, I would like to share three important questions from Derrick Jensen. He has written a few great books and I had the opportunity to see him speak a few months back in Portland, Oregon. He has a great sense of humor, considering he writes books explicitly stating that human civilization is killing Earth, and that civilization should be dismantled and destroyed immediately. He actively encourages other people to fight for the destruction of civilization in whatever way they can, and to those who aren’t yet acting, he poses a few questions. I think if we all sit down and think real hard, answering these questions just might end up being the catalyst that sets us off.

The first question is, “which side are you on?”. We need to be able to identify our allies and our enemies. We need to be able to trust the people beside us on the picket lines and in the marches, (or at the gym, or the coffeeshop, or the library).  We need to know that we share a common vision and common purpose. We need to instill our community with a sense of loyalty and peoplehood that removes any doubt about where we stand. So, which side are you on?

Another question Jensen asks is, “why do we continue to lose?”.  Why do we keep getting beat? Is it our small numbers or our mediocre tactics? Is it because we don’t care enough, because we are unwilling to sacrifice enough to achieve success? Is it because our success would mean  we might be forced to live out our beliefs and we can’t really imagine what that would be like? Is it because our opposition is stronger, or more prepared, or better funded, or they cheat? Maybe we should begin moving away from the stockpile of excuses we have accumulated over the years and just starting winning. Maybe we could look hard at all those old excuses, analyze those scenarios, and then develop new, creative ways of avoiding previous mistakes. Maybe we could take a sincere interest in the health and wellbeing of ourselves and our communities and begin acting like we really wanted to see change in our lifetime. What is it that keep us from attaining our goals?

For those who have not yet found a way to positively contribute to saving the world, the most powerful questions is, “what is your threshold?”. What is it going to take for you to act? Put this in whatever context turns your stomach the most. How many more species of plants and animals must go extinct before you will act? How many more tons of plastic will clog our rivers and oceans before you will act? How many more indigenous people will be killed or displaced by corporations seeking to extract and exploit natural resources before you will do something? How many more children will die of obesity or be killed by toxins in their mothers breastmilk before you will make a decision to change your life? How sick will you allow yourself to get before you act against those who are destroying our planet and absolutely do not have your best interest in mind? What will it take to make you act?

Derrick Jensen asks other questions in his books and presentations. Many of his questions are poignant and insightful, and the answers to many of his questions are both disturbing and inspiring. He is asking the “right” questions. Let’s start asking ourselves questions that inspire and disturb. Let’s start asking each other questions that put us outside our comfort zone. Let’s start listening to each other, and then let’s start answering some of these questions, honestly and openly. I can’t wait to see what happens. Until next time…

Peace.Tobias.