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.

excess doesn’t = success, success doesn’t mean excess

Hello, and welcome to the Living Revolution 🙂

  I taught two Crossfit classes this morning, starting at the unholy hour of 515am. There is a very short list of activities I enjoy participating in at 515am, and teaching Crossfit classes is actually on that list.  I do this a few mornings a week, because I love it. I love that there are people who are crazy enough (and dedicated enough) to show up every morning and brace themselves against the rest of the day with a bout of intense exercise. I love being the first person in the gym. I love how quiet it is early in the morning, and how still it feels in the gym. I love writing the workout on the board, and then mentally rehearsing drills, points of performance and cues for the movements we are programming that day. I love coaching because it is something I am learning to be good at, and I am learning to be good at coaching because I love the work I do.

Strangely enough, I sat down to write today with the intent of complaining and whining about why I don’t get paid enough for what I do. This led to me complaining and whining about how I don’t get paid enough at my “job”. This led to a short(but frantic) Google search for part-time jobs, and being faced with the stark reality of the current job market. Which led to me complaining and whining about…you get the idea. But, when I sat down here to get all that out of my head, the above paragraph is what came out. The irony is not lost on me.

It is hard for me to describe why I struggle so hard with the idea of financial “success”. I get ideas twisted in my head, and somehow marry the ideas of happiness and success to financial gain, and that union has always left a weird taste in my mouth. I think I have a skewed view of what is “not enough”. I definitely have a different perspective on what is “too much”.  I’m not afraid of hard work. I’m not afraid to make sacrifices. Thankfully, so little in that regard is being asked of me. Instead, I feel a bit under-utilized. I feel like I’m holding myself back, or more accurately, I don’t know how to push myself forward. My ego is wondering what my real motives are, and where my loyalties lie. Can I simply continue to do what I love, share my vision with other people, AND use these connections to help achieve my financial goals as well?

I keep coming back to words like cooperation and collaboration. I keep thinking in terms of combinations, adendums, and aggregate. What part can I play? What idea can I spread? How do our goals and passions intertwine? Am I making myself clear? But, I digress…

These words are a small step forward. The conversations that will resonate through each of you, will be other small steps forward. I encourage you to reach out to someone today and share an idea. Take some time and listen to someone else tell their story, or share their idea with you. How can you use me to benefit, and how can our partnership benefit us both? What can I help you do? What can we share? What can we create that manifests success beyond what we can imagine? Leave a comment, or send me a note and let’s get this train rolling. I can’t wait to see what kind of amazing stuff comes next! As always, thank you for reading my words, and for participating in the Living Revolution :). Until next time…Peace.Tobias.

 

Learning Gratitude

Welcome to the Living Revolution 🙂

First, I want to say “Thank You”. Many of you have been reading my words and interacting with me for a few years now, and our on-again off-again relationship continues to give me reason to think hard about how I live my life. You hold me accountable, you provide a sounding board for my thoughts and rants, you give me feedback about how you live life, and through all that, we establish and maintain community. Many of you I see in real life, and we further strengthen our bonds with face-to-face interaction. For all of this, I am exceedingly grateful. So, again, “Thank You” :).

Which brings me to my point today. I don’t see enough gratitude in the world, and I am here to say we need more. I am here to say we need to think more grateful thoughts, we need to speak more grateful words,  we need to start living more grateful lives and acting out gratitude on a person-to-person level. This is not rocket science, and everyone reading these words has the ability to change the world in a positive way by fostering gratitude, and living more grateful lives. Here’s why I think this is important…

In a quick search on the interwebs for definitions of “gratitude”, I also found an extensive list of antonyms of gratitude. For those who may not remember from middle school English class, antonym means “opposite”. A brief list of antonyms of gratitude include the following words: boorishness, callousness, censure, condemnation, disloyalty, ingratitude, rudeness, thanklessness, thoughtlessness. Each of these words, in turn, has a list of synonyms (words with similar meaning), but I am sure you get the point. If  you don’t know what these words mean, I encourage you to look them up, read the definition, and then feel how you react to those definitions.

A common theme between all these words is the idea of separation or dis-integration. When you condemn someone you pass judgment on them, and place yourself above them in a hierarchy, separating yourself from them. When you are disloyal to someone, you betray their trust, you break the bond of faith, and separate yourself from them. When your behavior is callous, rude, or thankless you show people you are insensitive, unsympathetic, lack manners, and you separate yourself from them.

I know I have experienced something like these negative feelings in my life, and I assume, many of you have as well. I know that I treated people unpleasantly as a result of my own selfishness and narcissism. I know I missed opportunities for genuine connection with other people because, I made the choice to react callously or thoughtlessly. I know I experienced a less-fulfilling life in those moments when I am not paying attention to how truly blessed I am.

This is unacceptable.  In those moments, I haven’t set a good example for others to follow. In those moments, I’ve missed an opportunity to make another human being feel good. In those moments, I allowed my ego to cloud my thoughts, to disrupt my flow, to set me at odds against the rest of humanity. When I selfishly put myself in my little box that is all my own, when I choose to withhold gratitude, I separate myself from potential connection, from relationship, from community.  I FAIL.

Human beings are social creatures, by nature. Even the most introverted soul requires some measure of positive, real-life, face-to-face interaction with other human beings to live a healthy, happy, fulfilled life. When we consciously choose not to express gratitude, we suppress that urge for connection. When we choose to not be thankful, we numb ourselves against the vulnerability and openness that giving thanks requires. When we choose to be grateful for this thing over here, but not that thing over there, we allow those minuscule fissures of separation to take hold, and it only gets worse from there. So, let’s not do that, okay?

I need to be clear here, and be very specific about how we are all going to start practicing gratitude. I need to be specific because some people may take my words and put them in tiny, separate boxes, and may decide they only want to express gratitude “when it seems appropriate”, or “when it makes sense”. But, that simply won’t work. We need to start being grateful for EVERYTHING.

Start with the easy parts. Be grateful for your home, food, income, family and friends. If you don’t have these, or if you have reasons you aren’t grateful for these things, you may have a larger issue that needs to be addressed!! Next, extend your circle of gratitude beyond “survival-mode”. Be grateful for your smartphone, the internet, the beautiful sunrise, and your favorite pants. These things are all helpful and useful, and it doesn’t take too much effort to be grateful for them. From here on, things start to get difficult…

Extend your gratitude outward to the annoying acquaintance who won’t stop talking to you while you are in line at the coffee shop. Extend your gratitude toward the telemarketer who calls to sell you life insurance, just as you sit down to dinner. Be grateful to the cyclist who brazenly chooses to ride in the middle of the lane instead of merging to the side so you can pass. Now, you are on the right track, but there is more still…

 Choose two or three small challenges or problems in your life, and consciously express gratitude for lessons the Universe is teaching about yourself  as you navigate these challenges.This part may take some practice and a little time to get used to. You will need to be more mindful of how you interact with other people. You will need to practice holding your tongue, and filtering your thoughts, and formulating conscious response to situations and people, instead of simply reacting to situations and people. You know, THINK. Use the fore-brain that supposedly put us at the top of the evolutionary ladder, and take charge of how you perceive the world around you, and how you interact with the other agents of the Universe who exist here with you.

Finally, you need to bring your awareness to the people and situations that are actively bringing “negativity” to your life. I use quotation marks, because defining something as negative is simply a matter of perspective, and you can always change your perspective. Did someone you love just die? Be grateful. Did the ceiling of your bedroom fill with rainwater, then burst and disintegrate above you in the middle of the night? Be grateful. Did a fake African prince hack your bank account and steal thousands of your hard-earned dollars? Be grateful.

This will not be easy. This will expose nerves you never knew you had. But this work is necessary. This work is worth it.

However, most of us will never get to that last part. Because it’s hard. It requires effort. It requires practice. It is a pattern of thought that goes against the “me, me, me” selfishness and insecurity so common in modern society. I can’t say much to convince you of this truth. But I can say this: if you never make the decision to express gratitude to the negative stimuli in your life, you never open yourself up to potential gifts, graciousness and healing that result from coming out the other side of those challenges. Missing out on all that potential awesomeness is truly a tragedy.

Wow. Okay. That rant turned in to a novel. I hope you all get my point. I’d love to hear your tales of gratitude, and maybe even some lessons you learned from choosing to make yourself vulnerable, and choosing to invest the time and effort  to say “Thank You”.  As always, thank you for reading my words, and for actively choosing to participate in The Living Revolution. Until next time…

Peace.Tobias.

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.

Love and Scarcity Economics (Or Why Monogamy and the Nuclear Family may not be our best Option)

Hello Friends,

Today’s post touches on a subject that holds strong significance in my personal life. I encourage you to read this week’s post with an open heart, and if you have an intelligent opinion that differs from what I write here, I encourage you to share it, and open a conversation that we can both learn from :).

The inspiration for this post came out of a book I am currently reading called “Expect Resistance”, which contains a variety of fictional anecdotes based on the demise of industrial society. As you might imagine, much of the content of this book deals with subverting the dominant paradigm and breaking away from the status quo. This post will draw heavily from an excerpt of the book that questions the logic behind the modern practices of monogamy and the nuclear family.

The last few generations of Americans have been raised in an environment dominated by a capitalist economy, which has taught us certain psychological lessons that are difficult to unlearn:

Anything of value is only available in limited supplies. Stake your claim now before you are left with nothing. 

Unable to imagine that love and pleasure could be multiplied when shared, we now find ourselves measuring commitment and affection by how much others sacrifice for us. This idea of mutual sacrifice convinces us that the relationship we are joining in is more valuable than the desires and freedoms we are forgoing. But this isn’t always true, and in my opinion, should not be the case in the first place.


We all know that positive relationships take work. Think about that. Wage labor, relationship labor–is there ever a time when we aren’t on the clock? When you have to work at monogamy, you are back in the exchange system: just like the capitalist economy, your intimacy is governed by scarcity, implicit threats, and prohibitions, and it is all protected by the belief that there are no viable alternatives. When relationships are based solely on workwhen desire is organized contractually around balanced accounts (tit for tat), when marriage functions as a domestic factory designed to keep wives and husbands chained to the machinery of responsible reproduction, then it should come as no surprise that people find themselves unhappy and listless, looking for a way out.

The fact is, at this point, people get desperate. They take rash action, which often leads to the emotional destruction of their relationship. That is why anything less than complete prostration to the “normal order” is often considered bad ethics. Recognizing and engaging your own desires is often too dangerous for everyone else. But wait just one second: what kind of life do you really want to live? How much freedom and fulfillment do you deserve to feel? How is it that others are hurt by your desire to express and fulfill your own needs?

What would it look like to have relationships in which there was no need for monogamy?

First, it would necessitate that communication be prized above obedience to social norms. The conditions that foster honesty–trust, openness/transperancy, self-awareness–would be safeguarded by extensive support structures. Communities would be interlinked by networks of close relationships in which everyone could count on assistance from and intimacy with others, even if the context of one specific relationship changed. There would be no social or legal rewards for any particular relationship format, and no punishments for any format either. We would have to grapple with our own insecurities and overcome them, rather than attempting to limit another’s autonomy in an attempt to help us feel “safe”. In short, it would demand a strong sense of maturity, and an unbiased sense of responsibility to those people in our inner circle.

It serves the interests of those in power to have everyone separated into couples and nuclear families, with all unions suitably licensed and policed. A divided people is a conquerable people; the fewer ties connecting individuals, and the narrower the range of permissible associations, the better. When you are attached to and responsible for only a handful of people, serving your own self-interest might make sense. On the other hand, when you feel passionately connected with and accountable to an entire community, you are more likely to conceive your interests in collective terms, and better situated to fight for them too.

Like it or not friends, we all have to live on this planet together, and bear the consequences of each other’s actions: isn’t it high time we start thinking and acting accordingly? Imagine being close and comfortable with everyone around you, engaging emotionally, sexually, and intellectually, working hard to fulfill your own desires, and working just as hard to fulfill the desires of the people you love and care for. I think it sounds like a great way to go about changing the world :).  What do you think…? Until next time…

Peace.Tobias.