It’s gotta be about how the main character changes for the better.
~ John Lasseter
summing up the plots for all Pixar movies
It’s gotta be about how the main character changes for the better.
~ John Lasseter
summing up the plots for all Pixar movies
Your teachers are all around you.
It’s true. You know that. When we’re alert we find droppings worth absorbing from those who surround us. It’s a matter of having your sensors up.
In our case, one of our greatest teachers of late has been Kelly Luchini.
First the back story, fifteen-plus months ago
We had a family get together and afterward my wife broke down sobbing – not because my family is so awful, though she’ll have to speak on her own about that, but because we’d been forced into the unthinkable. We had hit the point where our business no longer had funds. We could no longer afford our partner in business.
We’d worked with Kelly for ten years and had been so committed to her that we’d also committed to giving her a percentage of the business for one reason only: her extraordinariness.
In the midst of the worst news about the Mideast revolutions, soaring gas prices, Japanese earthquake-tsunami-nuclear plant disasters, it was evident our business had paused – at the height of our season.
The impossible had occurred. We were being forced to part ways with our partner. We no longer had the money. In fact, we no longer had any money. None. What once felt like healthy savings . . . gone.
I wonder if this is true of all disasters, not simply economic ones – that you keep hitting new bottoms. I knew we would turn around . . . but from which bottom?!! I thought we’d already endured the bottom. I’d thought this several times.
This one left my wife Ann racked with sobs one night, just after in-laws and nieces and nephew had left, though my Mom was still there. To lose someone you expected to turn your business over to when you retired – someone special – someone who’d built the business with you for the last ten years – because you simply couldn’t pay her! – because the business had collapsed – was agony.
This kind of awfulness is God-awful. We can endure our own misfortunes better than we can endure a bitter turn of events for those whom we adore . . . Ann never burst out in a flood of tears when I had to hit the road for a year and a half. But to not be able to keep the business afloat enough to support Kelly felt like the worst kind of nightmare.
Fate isn’t cruel, it only seems so in the short term. We had begun to wend our way back from the abyss, when everything froze – our clients hit a pause button on their purchasing – right at the height of our season. It was upheaval in the Middle East, it was catastrophe upon calamity in Japan.
Our troubles were minor compared to what people in those areas were going through, though that didn’t help us face the setbacks in our own lives.
One day Kelly and I were talking about our ability to live through anything and she said something so breezy and hip and potent it lifted my spirits permanently:
“We’re going to do it Mandela-style.”
A Nelson Mandela not only inspires those who seek freedom for their people or country. By his example of endurance, he became an icon for all going through troubles. For if Mandela can go through years of hard labor, decades of imprisonment – and come out magnificent, ready to forgive, eager to unify a country – then who are we to bitch about losing our income, about being slapped silly by economic woes.
“I’m staying in the excited opportunity vessel.” Kelly formed a vessel shape with her hands. “If I veer from it I get freaked out. Staying in this zone keeps me focused and happy, where I need to be, where it makes the good things come.”
I thought: You’re right Kelly! We are so close to the ground that we must be at the inflection point. We are going to do it Mandela-style – no matter what we will emerge triumphant.
Now the interesting news. I initially wrote this over fifteen months ago. I’ve re-worded it only slightly so that it is not set in the present but the year-plus ago past.
Well here we are now, Ann and I are bounding up the comeback trail. Kelly has a baby boy and is growing her own freelance art appraisal business. Nothing is certain, of course, but you know who I bet on? Kelly! (Oh, and us, for sure, because we know Kelly and she’s rubbed off on us.)
You are the artist in your life. Your life is your creation.
Is there an aspect of your creation you are not protecting? Is there an ideal you are not projecting outward? Is there something you wish to create in your day that you are not creating?
Stand up for your artist.
The creator in you is your deepest self.
The only way to unleash your inner creator is by projecting that energy into your outer life.
Carve out time.
What is it?
Connecting with your child? Free of the obligations of homework, housework and activities? Then make it happen, daily.
Connecting with soul friends? Then do it. Schedule it. Daily. Even if for only fifteen minutes a day. Check in. Inspire one another. Connect.
A project? Start with the five-minute rule. Every day.
A business? Same thing. Start. Momentum will accrue.
Is it creativity, service, communion with the divine? There’s always a way to inject it into your daily life, however small, and then to fan the flames from there.
Because once you embark on your soul work, the flicker in your heart will fire up. The only fuel it needs is attention.
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When I was working at Lehman Brothers on Wall Street, working often 80 to 100-hour weeks
— never less than 60-hour weeks — I was also writing a book. While pursuing a robust romantic life.
I finished that book, in the most time-scarce period of my life.
How? With my five-minute rule.
The rule is simple. I had to write five minutes a day, no matter what. If I arrived home well after midnight, sloppy and beyond exhaustion, I had to fire up the computer and sit there for at least five minutes before I could call it quits.
Sometimes I fell asleep on the keyboard, waking up to this:
Sometimes I sat there in a brain-numb fog, synapses misfiring, for five minutes of nothing, logged off, and then fell from my chair onto the couch because I couldn’t muster the energy to get to bed. Thank God the chair rolled that far.
Sometimes I idly edited what I’d written before.
Sometimes ideas came to me and I pursued them, like a weary mongrel roused by sighting a squirrel.
Sometimes I wrote for half an hour, an hour.
Sometimes I wrote for hours!
That’s how it happened. All because I created this idea that I couldn’t call myself a writer unless I’d written the day before . . . for at least five minutes.
I lived in Manhattan at the time, an island brimming with individuals who called themselves something creative
— be it actor or artist or writer or dancer or singer or musician or puppet maker or doctoral dissertationist
— yet many (most) didn’t actually routinely do the thing they claimed was the passion of their life.
By goading myself with the five-minute rule, so that a day could not pass in which I wasn’t involved in my soul work somehow, I inadvertently created a system for starting and continuing any creative endeavor.
Since then I’ve used it to launch other projects and to embark on new life commitments. I keep to that same simple rule today for writing. And for meditation. And a couple of other private things.
I’ve learned that if you skip a day of what you say is important, it’s easy to skip two. Then you wake up months, years later still a proofreader or a waitress. Or you wake up an executive in the side job you put more energy into than your soul work.
Or you’re still not a meditator, or still not healthy, or still not more accomplished in that area you wished to be . . . .
Once you commit to the five-minute rule you show the Universe you want it and you mean it.
When did the ego become the Devil?
Something not even invented till modernity is the new Devil.
In some contemporary spiritual circles, every evil springs from it.
That can only mean something new will arise, will be invented — to become the new Devil once the ego is de-deviled by a new spiritual paradigm.
Or maybe, just maybe, the new paradigm will be utterly and completely de-deviled.
It may take a thousand years, a hundred years, next week.
It did for Ann recently.
She had a bad, bad hammer of a headache. It was so shattering she thought of stopping off at a walk-in clinic on the way to the gallery. The idea of juicing leapt to mind, and she thought, why not . . . and then I’ll go.
After juicing she went through all of the normal prep for work, brushing teeth, showering, dressing, gathering the items she’d take with her. It was when she sat down to look up the clinic information that she was awestruck by the fact she no longer had the migraine. She no longer had a head-ache at all. She hadn’t noticed it whisper away.
Everyone is different, so I throw this out there with that note of caution
— as I throw out everything I write. You must test for yourself what works and doesn’t work, what is true for you and what isn’t.
Though, just in case you’re curious enough to demand the details, here are the items she juiced up.
Ann’s inadvertent migraine-curing juice ingredients
What is it now, 11:14?! I’m writing this three-minutes later . . . *
Let’s go back a number of hours first. 4:44. That was the time when I looked up at the gallery earlier today.
The last time I looked it was approximately 5:30-ish, running out the gallery door. Flash forward these many hours, all manner of activity in between, ending with Ann and I watching TV for the first time in possibly two or three months.
We arose from the couch, wondering how late it was
— 11:11. Yes. Yes! After today’s earlier post . . . I find . . . I don’t know . . . doesn’t that smack of impishness? Playfulness? Come on, that is a wink with dimples thrown in.
I had to run and tell you.
* Though I will publish this tomorrow — today for you — at a certain time — out of respect.
For awhile time has lined up for me in ways that demand to be noted.
Everything seems to flow magnificently.
I do a lot and yet time feels spacious. Cavernous. It’s rare that I feel harried anymore. I run an art gallery with my wife. Besides the physical time at the gallery space, we are on the move, visiting clients’ homes with artwork, doing side trips for supplies, occasionally taking week-plus van trips to visit artist studios and exchange artwork.
With this same remarkable woman, I raise a son. There’s a lot of tag-teaming going on because of the demands of retail hours, school times and projects, activities, play dates, house maintenance.
I write for this site simultaneously while writing a bookito*. And a book. I communicate back and forth with readers, and with fine minds doing their own groove work out there on the Internet.
Most weeks I get three hours or more of physical activity in. Plus, I have real friends I stay in touch with (as opposed to speaking with only a few times a year), a dog, sometimes two since we get a lot of visiting dogs.
Did I mention I like the occasional nap too?
So to have time flow so well is a transcendant feeling. I feel I have all the time I need or want. I have a friend who’s constantly saying there’s not enough time to do all he wants to do. For him that’s true, because what you state emphatically has a powerful way of solidifying into your experience.
I attribute the beginnings of this to my meditation practice. Before my daily practice, I worked against time. I crammed too many things into time so that time learned from me to deliver that back to me always.
In meditation, time becomes spacious then amorphous then a tool then immaterial then inconsequential then meaningless.
In meditation I gained a different appreciation for time. And in doing so began to relate differently to time outside of meditation.
It’s one of the wonders of the world, that taking time for a break — when you think have no time
— re-aligns time so that you do.
There are days when I glance at a clock and it is 11:11 and then again it’s 12:12 and then 2:22 and then 4:44 and then 5:55. I take these as winks from the universe, a little wink that all is well, all is lining up nicely, don’t worry, be happy.
I started posting recently at 11:11 am because it felt congruent with my experience. Not always, but mostly. At least for now.
Last night I was reading a blog post and saw that one of the related links at the bottom was titled 11:11.
I mean, !!:!!, wow.
* Bookito: my term for a short-form book. In novel form they’re called novellas. Amazon calls them Singles.
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