Book Review: “The Sex Diaries Project” by Arianne Cohen

Hello and welcome to the Living Revolution!

Today’s post will be short and sweet because it is only an introduction. If you haven’t yet heard of Arianne Cohen, I suggest you check out her website www.ariannecohen.com. She writes on a wide array of topics, from being the tallest girl in the room to how to create a more organized cubicle. She brings a catchy sense of humor to her journalistic endeavors, and her perspective is both interesting and entertaining. I’m telling you all to check her out because I just finished reading her excellent book, “The Sex Diaries Project”.

That’s it, right there ^^^. Essentially, the book is a peek inside the collected (private) sex lives of modern Americans. A plethora of different relationship types are represented, and Cohen adeptly uses this large sample group to elucidate a few important common themes and practices that can be found in almost every relationship. Throughout the book, Cohen shows how people’s sex lives are driven by the shared needs, wants, and desires of individuals in a relationship and how dysfunction in a relationship (sexual or otherwise) is usually a result of unfulfilled needs and miscommunication. She also shows how sex can be used for a variety of different purposes, depending  on the context of a given relationship. The personal, private nature of the diaries add a sense of share-humanity to this collection, and I found myself relating to more than a few of these candid stories.

Okay, I’m going to stop there. This book as a great read, and I am sure you will find something valuable in this book that you can apply to your own life. If this topic sounds a bit too risque for you, then I encourage you to check out some other works by Arianne Cohen, including “Help, It’s Broken:  A Fix-It Bible for the Repair-Impaired” and  “The Tall Book: A Celebration of Life on High”. If you do check out this book, drop a comment here or send me an email and tell me what you think about Sex Diaries.  As always, thank you for reading my words and participating in the Living Revolution :).

Until next time…Peace.Tobias.

Proficiency, Efficiency, and Excellence

proficiencya high degree of competence or skill; expertise.

efficiencythe ratio of the work done or energy developed by a machine, engine,etc., to the energy supplied to it, usually expressed as a percentage.

excellencethe fact or state of excelling; superiority; eminence.
Hello, and welcome to the Living Revolution 🙂
  The definitions above have been simplified, but I think it is hard to miss the meaning of these powerful words. How grandiose!! How magnificent!! The synonyms go on and on, but I want to talk more about the ideas represented by these three words. These terms were brought to mind after I attended a local weightlifting seminar, but as I ruminated on what these words mean, I was inspired by how they can be applied to any and all aspects of life.
When applied to the sport of weightlifting, or more broadly, the concepts of human movement, these terms follow a simple progression: develop proficiency first, maximize efficiency, then achieve excellence. Again, in terms of sport, every championship team and Greatest Of All Time athlete possesses these attributes. They dedicated their lives to developing a high level of proficiency, they supplied the passion to refine their chosen craft to leave behind only what brought success, they endured the gauntlet of challengers to establish their superiority.
  I started thinking about these words, and I started to get a little bit pumped up. I mean, what would happen in your family, your community, or the world, if we all started pursuing our lives with these ideas in mind? What if, even in the simplest tasks, we sought to develop expertise? What if we did even common tasks uncommonly well?
  Some of the worst parts of humanity stem from apathy and indifference. Our darkest moments are when we choose not to participate because of laziness or disinterest. Instead, let’s continue to evolve, and pursue excellence in all aspects of our lives. From the most mediocre task to the magnificent adventure, let’s begin to cut away the unnecessary bullshit, and strive for optimal efficiency. For every little action, for every little movement, for every posture and position you encounter throughout your daily life, I challenge you to develop unrivaled proficiency. Go out in the world today and BE AWESOME!
  Do you have some amazing ideas about how to apply the ideas of proficiency, efficiency and excellence? I would love to hear from you!! Drop me a line at tobias.shea.livingrevolution@gmail.com, or leave a comment below. Also, you can find me on Instagram now!! @livingrevolution (duh.).
  Thank you so much for reading my words, and as always, thank you so much for participating in the Living Revolution! Until next time…Peace.Tobias.

On Redefining Masculinity

Welcome to the Living Revolution 🙂

Well, friends, I survived October.  The last couple weeks have been an incredible trip, fraught with emotional perils like I’ve never encountered. Much of my internal universe has shifted significantly and continues to bend, flex, contract and expand as I process these new feelings and all the excellent information I received from the friends and family with whom I sought counsel. I am looking at the world through a very different lens as I write this now, and I want to share with you some of what is going on in my head :).

Two stories in the popular media grabbed my attention this month. First, a communal act of bravery and unselfishness demonstrated by a team of middle school football players. The second, a bullying scandal from another football team, the Miami Dolphins. The actors in this story are, by most conventional definitions, considered adults. The actors in the first story are boys, just delving into puberty, young men, at best. Both stories are emotionally charged, but they inspire feelings on opposite ends of the spectrum of human behavior. The Dolphins story pisses me off and makes we wonder how some human beings are infected with so much negative energy and darkness they forget how to treat the people around them with dignity and respect. The first story inspires me and reminds me there are good things happening all around us, and changing the world in a positive way still takes place on a person-to-person level. It makes me ecstatically happy to see compassion, camaraderie, courage, and love acted out by children who probably don’t yet understand the gravity and influence of their actions.

In light of challenges I’ve been working through recently in my personal life, I am looking at these stories and asking questions about what it means to be a “man” in both these situations. What impact does gender have on stories like these? What are the cultural implications for men when we recognize these kind of stories on a national level? What kind of precedent is the current generation setting for acceptable male behavior in modern society? What changes must be made now for men who wish to live healthier, happier, more fulfilled lives? What lessons must we teach our sons to ensure they won’t suffer or create suffering as a result of their emotional immaturity and ignorance?

Here is the link to the blog article that got me thinking about all this:

http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/9939308/richie-incognito-jonathan-martin-miami-dolphins-bullying-scandal

Here is a link to the story about the middle school football team:

http://elitedaily.com/news/world/can-learn-lot-middle-school-football-team-video/

I believe we are all familiar with how our culture and American society views and expresses masculinity, and how this culture defines being a “Man”. Boys are taught to be tough, to go for the kill, to compete, engage and destroy. Men are reminded to never show weakness, to suppress emotion, to grow beards and build muscles,  to overcome, pillage and conquer. These notions and ideas are antiquated leftovers, the dregs of a mentality that has little practical applicability to modern culture. However, these ideals persist, and we find the negative consequences from this kind of thinking in aspects of culture ranging from professional sports to politics to business. Problems arise when our men and boys don’t see these attributes and behaviors as metaphors, but rather as tangible characteristics they should develop and express. Problems arise when we forget to teach our boys and men how to temper aggression with empathy, sympathy and compassion, and how to turn off the “killer instinct” when it is inappropriate.  In the sport-specific examples above, we forget these men and boys are playing a game, not fighting a war, and we forget the “ripple effect” these stories have as they reverberate through our collective consciousness.

For  my part, I will tell you where my focus has shifted. While I value my “masculinity’ and what it feels like to “be a man”,  I am also learning how to subvert this way of thinking and open myself up to expressing my manliness in ways that have nothing to do with aggression or violence. For example, I am learning new ways to express  humility toward my partner and my children through the domestic endeavors of daily housework. I am learning compassion and patience from my kids, as I attempt to understand life from their perspective, and frame our interactions knowing they are still figuring out how this crazy world works.  I am learning more about trust and love as I work to make myself emotionally vulnerable to my partner and my intimate friends. I am stretching my boundaries and learning about courage by pursuing my desires without attachment to an outcome, but rather enjoying the process and the journey of what my life is right now.

None of this is easy work, and I am confronted by challenges on a daily basis that make me sit down and think hard. But, I’ve recognized the value of this work, and I continue to see positive changes in my own behavior, and I continue to recognize how my positive energy impacts the people with whom I interact. So, I am writing this post for a few reasons. If you are male-gendered and reading this, I encourage you to check the links I posted and feel how you react to these stories. I want you to turn a critical eye inward to determine where you find yourself on the spectrum of human behavior. Do you embody and express empathy, compassion, and sympathy in your everyday life? Why or why not? What example are you setting for other men, OR if you are a father, what example are you setting for your children? If you are female-gendered and reading this, I want you to check the links, and think about how you interact with men in your life. Do you continue to accept and allow aggressive, offensive, hurtful behavior in your daily life? To what standard do you hold the men in your life? How can you take action to teach men this nastiness is unacceptable and it is time for a BIG CHANGE?

Ultimately, this isn’t a gender issue, but a HUMAN issue, and I understand that we all need to be working to prevent behaviors like bullying, racism, aggression and interpersonal violence. We all need to be working harder to proliferate behaviors of kindness, compassion, empathy and sympathy, because life is already hard enough, without any added interpersonal bullshit. This post is part of my commitment to change, both in my personal life, and in the world around me. Won’t you join me? Thanks so much for reading this, and for participating in the Living Revolution :). 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.