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

Hello, and welcome to the Living Revolution ūüôā

  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.

 

A Good Place to (Re)Start

Hello, and welcome to the Living Revolution ūüôā

This week represents a shift in the seasons, as summer ends, ¬†and fall begins. For me, this week also represents a time to “start over” or refresh. My family lives a hectic and busy life, and we try hard to establish and maintain routines that are effective and efficient. We try hard to prioritize our time together, and still leave room for leisure activities and spontaneity. Often, when we are focused on constructing our schedules, we overlook the blank spaces on the calendar. We forget about those time when nothing is going on, and we have the opportunity to relax at home, without an agenda. The quiet moments spent reading together on the couch, the teamwork of preparing and sharing dinner as a family, the relaxation of lying in the yard, soaking in the sunshine, all represent a sense of freedom to me. In my mind, this downtime is much more important than all the activities and hobbies we chase after to fill up our lives, but it is often neglected, and that sense of freedom is replaced with a sense of obligation to what comes next on our weekly checklist. Is this any way to live life?

Today, I want to share a short video with you that asks a very important question: What does freedom mean to you? The speaker in this video offers some interesting insight to possible answers to this question, but I would very much like to hear what you have to say on the matter. Post a comment below or shoot me an email and let me know how you manifest a sense of freedom in your life on a daily basis. 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 ūüôā

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 Trying Too Hard

Welcome to the Living Revolution ūüôā

Many of you know I spent the last two weeks in the depths of a¬†personal hell I’ve never experienced before. There was a darkness inside me that I couldn’t explain, and it broke me down in a powerful way.¬† In an effort to determine the cause of this madness, and to find a way to heal myself, I reached out to family and friends, in hopes of finding a sustainable solution.

My mom said it was probably a lack of healthy bacteria in my gut.

My dad said I play on the internet too much and I need to spend more time with Nature.

My coach said I should have my hormone levels checked, and immediately start supplement use.

My circle of friends suggested I should quit smoking pot. Or smoke more pot. Or meditate. Or exercise more. Or exercise less. Or see a therapist. Or start writing again. Or eat less gluten. Or breathe more deeply. Or bang my head against a wall. Or just ignore what I was feeling and it would go away. Gaaaaaaah!! I researched depression and anxiety. I researched mid-life crisis and hormone imbalance. I researched gluten intolerance and THC overdose. None of these seemed to adequately address what I was feeling or the thoughts that were keeping me up at night. The struggle continued…

While I am grateful for all the advice, assistance and encouragement, most of this info just made me think harder about what was swirling around in my head, and my confusion increased. Most everyone told me it was time for me¬†to “CFO”(chill-the-fuck-out), and quit trying so hard. But “trying hard” is what I do. Confronting problems head-on is my MO. My first solution to most problems is more effort, more energy, more work. If this wasn’t the solution, then what was my next option?

Because I so highly value logic and reason, I began to think about what it would feel like to take everyone’s advice and not take life so seriously. Is it really a big deal if laundry doesn’t get done today? Is it really a big deal if I only train 4 days a week, instead of 6? Is it a big deal if it takes my kids 30 minutes to get ready in the morning instead of 15 minutes? Surprisingly, the answer to all these questions is a resounding “NO”.¬† It really isn’t a big deal. Huh. What a novel concept.

I started small. I made a list of all the things I wanted to accomplish in one day, then I cut that list in half. I engaged single tasks, putting energy and effort in to the enjoyment of completing that specific task, without considering the next item on my list. I began to practice mindfulness and conscious concentration. I began to prioritize what made me feel good, and I decided to avoid letting my checklist determine my happiness. I reduced my social schedule, and spent more time writing, reading, and sitting in silence. I stopped counting calories. I stopped tracking my workouts. I stopped texting while driving. I took a break from self-medicating to remind me what sobriety feels like.  And you know what? Things began to change, immediately.

The terrible ache in my stomach dissipated. The cloud over my heart and my mind began to lift. Most importantly, the world did not end. I used my words and kept checking in with the important people in my life, and they assured me it really was okay if I wasn’t Superman all the time. It was okay if little things slipped through the cracks. It was okay if I allowed them to help me. It was okay that I asked for that help. It was okay that I needed to step back and take stock, reevaluate, and take some time for myself. It was okay for me to prioritize what I really wanted, and to cut away some of the silly bullshit I was using as an excuse to stay busy ALL THE TIME. I started to feel passionate again about the parts of my¬†life I truly love: my family and my tribe, my writing, my jiu jitsu practice, my work and the people who trust me with their health and fitness. I took my “busy” energy and refocused that effort on the things that truly matter to me. At first,¬†I¬†was worried this kind of mindset would seem selfish and egocentric, but that isn’t true. By taking more time for myself, and making sure all my silly business is organized, and making sure I am on point, and making sure I have my ducks in a row, I am a more fulfilled human being, which, in turn, makes me a better PARTNER, FATHER, LOVER, BROTHER, COACH, FRIEND, SON, ATHLETE, WRITER.

I am only one week in to this new practice, but it feels right and it feels like it is working.¬† It is all about awareness of addressing little pieces at a time, and allowing the bigger picture to come in to view in small increments, rather than as a shotgun blast to the face. Clarity is easy to maintain when I don’t have a whole bunch of silly bullshit clouding my view.¬† I am sure this will be a practice I will continue to develop, and I look forward to learning more about myself and the world around me through this new adventure. I know it would be helpful if I left a detailed description of this practice here for others to follow, but I feel like this is an experience that is different for each person.¬† Have you experienced a shift like this in your own life? What brought you to a positive resolution? Are you currently dealing with the heaviness and darkness¬†I mentioned? Maybe something of what I’ve written here will be helpful to you. Won’t you please leave a comment here, or on the Facebook post and let me know that you are okay? I’d love to hear your stories and experiences and how you come out the other side. Thanks for reading this, and for participating in the Living Revolution! Until next time…

Peace.Tobias.

Follow Your Bliss, (Think for Yourself (for Grownups!))

Hello Friends,

I’ve been talking about my blog this week. At the gym during class; with my lovely partner as we chat before bed; with friends during a night out on the town. In each situation, I’ve been asked to clarify what I am trying to do with my writing, and specifically how I am going to use this blog to bring about the changes I want to experience. I’ve been asked to define WHY I am putting my energy in to this project. My response has been the same in each situation; I intend to use this blog and my creative energy to subvert the dominant paradigm in as many ways as possible.

Each of the people I spoke with had a hard time understanding what I meant. I am going to try to be more clear here.

“Subvert the dominant paradigm” sounds like something you might read on a¬†clever bumper sticker, right? Defining each word individually gives you an inclination of the ideas, ideals and philosophy we are working toward, but it doesn’t really tell you what I mean. ¬†It might be helpful to inform you this phrase has been used as a battle cry by the Anarchist movement for years, and remains a strong tenet of the belief system used by those who label themselves “Anarchist”. ¬†I think the Hippies said it best a long time ago: Go Against the Flow. Think for yourself. Be the Change. Catchphrases are a dime a dozen, but WHAT DOES IT MEAN!?!

As a headstrong teenager, fresh out of my parent’s nurturing embrace, I thought subverting the dominant paradigm meant getting a facial piercing and wearing clothes that didn’t really fit me. I raged against conformity and compromise, grew my hair long, and got a tattoo. I wanted so badly to be different. Or at least, I wanted to present myself as being different. Then, all the cool kids I hung out with ended up looking just like me. We all wanted so badly to be unique; to be novel; to be the “other”. We rode skateboards, tagged dumpsters, worked shitty jobs and slept on couches. We knew exactly what we DIDN’T want to be, but we had no idea what we wanted to be instead.

Now, we all have kids, and car payments. We went back to school and earned degrees, and accrued debt. We bathe regularly, eat grass-fed beef, and go to bed at a “reasonable” hour. Some of us still dye our hair crazy colors, lots of us are still saving for our next tattoo, and after living through a whole host of life experience, most of us finally have a good idea of what it REALLY means to subvert the dominant paradigm.¬†We chase our dreams!

We consciously make choices in our lives that constitute a paradigm shift. We spend time and effort creating the lives and relationships we want, and our successes and failures are determined by the effort we are willing to put forth. Though our lives are constrained by many parameters of “mainstream” culture, we use creativity and curiosity to find ways to bend the rules of the dominant culture, or bypass them altogether and create our own set of rules. We are¬†entrepreneurs¬†and independent artists. We are blended families of all variations, and our tribal network extends beyond any tangible boundaries. We are constantly researching, exchanging information, learning new tricks, and working hard to make sure we are better people today than we were yesterday. This last part is what really separates us from the teeming masses:¬†our desire to achieve our needs, wants, and desires through deliberate effort. ¬†We follow our bliss. We determine our own path. We refuse to take ANYTHING at face value. We refuse to do anything simply because we are told to, or because that is the way everyone else does it. We have the tools, the resources, and the intention to live the lives that we want to live.

All we have to do is practice what we preach. Follow your Bliss. Do the extra work to fulfill your needs, wants and desires. Set the example for people who are stuck in apathy and indifference. Go Against the Flow. Change the Rules. Forge your own path. Do your best to resist the urge to buy clever bumper stickers, and instead live a life that authentically displays your core values and ethics to the world, leaving no question whether or not you think for yourself. I think it really is that simple :).

Tell me what “Follow Your Bliss” means to you. What dreams are you chasing right now? What excuses are holding you back? If we are going to change the world, we need to do it RIGHT NOW.

Until next time…

Peace.Tobias.

The Importance of a Natural Connection

Hello Friends,

The rain has returned to Portland again, and the seasons have changed, officially. Our relationship with the elements shifts. Where once we welcomed sunlight with open arms, we now greet the cold and damp from beneath layers of raincoat, windbreaker, sweater, turtleneck. ¬†Multitude shades of grey lay like a heavy blanket on top of everyday life in the Great Northwest. It feels like the bright and hopeful days of spring are SO FAR AWAY! And, perhaps I have a penchant for hyperbole and the over-dramatic, don’t I?

At times like these, I work hard to remind myself ¬†how important it is to maintain a healthy relationship with our natural surroundings. We attribute values of “good” or “bad” to weather and other natural occurrences, often without considering 0ur current position in the natural cycle that makes this planet a hospitable place for human beings, (and many other lifeforms), to exist. The truth is, we need the rain. We need down-time. We need the quiet, and the cold. We need to feel the natural pattern that helps keep life ebbing and flowing along, year after year. But, if we don’t have an intimate connection with the natural world around us, what does that mean for how we interact with each other, and the world around us? Let me unpack some of that, and see what we come up with…

Modern humans spend most of their time in a fabricated ¬†un-reality. We surround ourselves with concrete and pavement and glass and steel. We literally put ourselves in boxes, ‚Äúprotecting‚ÄĚ ourselves from the harsh elements and violence of the ‚Äúuncivilized‚ÄĚ world around us. We learn to believe that our water comes from a faucet, our milk comes from a cardboard carton, our meat comes wrapped neatly in styrofoam and cellophane. There is no reason for us to get our hands dirty, but if by chance we do, we have our handy bottle of sanitizer to keep the germs at bay. This way of living has produced documented physical and ¬†psychological pathologies including morbid obesity, depression, and bipolar disorder. Living in this kind of environment is actually causing a devolution, rapidly working against natural selection to produce humans who cannot functionally survive outside an urban area. If we don‚Äôt stop this, we are doomed.

There are so many reasons why a relationship with your natural surroundings is important. For example:

1.Witnessing firsthand the natural processes of creation and destruction that shape the world around us, we learn to respect the natural processes of life and death.

2. Learning where our food comes from inspires us to think creatively about the meaning of the word ‚Äúsustainable‚ÄĚ, and gives us a personal perspective on realistic sustainability.

3. Engaging the opportunity to climb a mountain, or run through a forest, or swim in a river; to feel dirt and rocks with bare feet, or watch a sunset on a horizon unencumbered by power lines and high-rise office buildings; to be enveloped by the thrill of exploring a place you have never been, and trying something new just because you can; all these helps us learn self-confidence. They teach us how to test our boundaries, as well as the value of exploring outside our comfort zone.

4.Each time we step onto a secluded beach, each time we enter a forest under the boughs of 1000 year old trees; each time we feel the icy sting of snow melt and feel smooth river rocks beneath our feet, we are presented with the opportunity to let go of our desire to control and for a moment, simply get in where we fit in.

5.If we are lucky, our experiences allow us to feel the rhythm and fathom the power we are surrounded by, and perhaps, for a moment we recognize how insignificant we are in the grand scheme of life on Earth. Hopefully, we are grateful for the opportunity to see and hear and feel things that are REAL.

6. Being in nature helps ground us in reality. We are reminded of the natural order of being, and we are reminded that life on this planet is made up of an intricate web of relationships. We remember how simple life can be, and how fulfilling simplicity can be.

I encourage you to take some time this weekend, and re-establish your own connection with the natural world around you. Take time to get away from the madness of civilized life and get your mind right. Drop me a note and let me know what your natural connection feels like. Until next time…

Peace.Tobias