Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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April is Poetry month, with many activities and projects running around the country. I have taken the challenge to write a poem every day in April for the last two years. I push my way through the writing, with a fully punched card in participation, but have not really put my full attention into the whole process. We are lucky in Tucson to have a world-famous Poetry Center at the U of A, open to the public. Each time I visit the place I tell myself I will make a regular habit of spending time there. It is an inspiring place to read, write, meditate, or take part in one of the workshops or readings. The only resolution I need to make for 2015 is to honor the poet within me all year. There is a haunting feeling in my memory and in my dreams of a productive and expressive poet I believe is within my spirit. This artist/alchemist/poet has not been nurtured as well as it needs to be. I work with words daily but am not arching to new heights or even developing a larger vocabulary. When I do push myself to write poetry daily I can feel a response in my dream world toward more color and rich dramatic story lines. It is as if there are stories, poems, maybe even novels, deeply stored in my writing practice, but I do very little to develop my ability in these realms. The poetry is essentially trapped within my lazy writing practice. I plan to liberate this struggling poetic artist next year and allow her to explore and create in new ways.
As 2015 approaches I contemplate the 3 words I will use to ground my meditation, my health, and my creativity next year. This is a practice started and promoted by Chris Brogan. I have done it before and always find the quest for the right words to be very helpful. This year I want to make some kind of significant progress as a poet and creative writer. By using these key words all year I believe I can be a better poet in April and beyond. Moreover, I think these words fit perfectly with my goals to clear out excess clutter in my home and my life. I am working on this now, cleaning out my closet before the end of the year. I can honestly say that the results I see and feel in my closet after patiently and persistently ridding myself of extraneous clothing and accessories are nothing short of poetic. Poetry has more to do with what is edited than with what remains. The fewer words used to convey an idea, the more powerful each word becomes. Now my closet is more like a haiku than an epic drama. I am feeling much better when I walk into it now.
These words fit perfectly with my health and fitness goals. Movement and variety of enjoyable physical activities create strong healthy bodies. It does not matter if time is spent playing an active sport, hiking, swimming, or yoga, the key to success is always persistence. I like to cross train, in other words, do different physical activities, to keep things interesting. This is good for the body as well as the mind. I like doing some activities outdoors, but the gym makes me very happy too. In 2015 I plan to create a fitness regime that offers me a chance to improve my levels of grace, balance, and coordination. I plan to end 2015 as poetry in motion, retaining all my flexibility and enthusiasm for fitness and health. Too much of any one thing can cause burn out or injury, so there is no need to fixate on any one aspect of health or fitness. Balance is an important element of health.
My words have meaning for me in many aspects of living. They are good universal guiding principals that are easy to remember:
Do you do the 3 word challenge, Gentle Reader? Have you found it to be helpful?
My strong love of reading has compelled me to do many things, including restricting my book consumption on a 3 book diet last year. My consumer weakness it is for art and books. I never seem to have enough of either one, even though I have more than I can store in my present circumstances. The Kindle has helped me to reduce the space I dedicate to books, but the passion to read everything all the time was not diminished by the diet. If anything I am rebounding since November when I allowed myself to buy books once more. I have loaded up on both print and Kindle books, plus I had a big backlog from the book diet year that I had acquired and not opened. I am back in full force as crazy reading woman, proving once and for all that diets just do not work.
Attending the Tucson Festival of books for the first time was amazing to me. The super well-organized event takes place on the U of A campus in buildings and in various tents set up for the weekend. Windy weather did not deter the visitors or participants from having wonderful time. Presentations for readers as well as writers are given all day both Saturday and Sunday. A giant food court assures that spending the day there will require no sacrifice. I did not eat or attend a session, but I thoroughly enjoyed all the tents I visited. Volunteers make sure the crowd is informed. Families with kids can participate in several ongoing demonstrations, book give aways, and photo ops with favorite characters from children’s literature . I bought some great cookbooks, two of historical significance, from the Assistance League tent and a book of memoirs from an Albuquerque lawyer, Laws and Loves Part I, Real Stories of the Rattlesnake Lawyer. I am a sucker for books that contain the word rattlesnake in the title. I am also planning to attend a free introductory class by the Writer’s Studio in Tucson. I have some desire to write poetry, and this group offers workshops that are convenient and well priced. Who knows, gentle readers, where this may go. Maybe all this reading will help me learn to write. Stay tuned; the plot may thicken.
In November I decided to go big and stay home with Amazon Prime. To make the most of the services one needs to own a Kindle for the lending library. I purchased the Kindle Fire and later the paperwhite. The Fire has an audio component with good sound. I enjoy the readers much more than I thought I might and new reasons are added all the time. Today as gift from Guy Kawasaki I received a free copy of APE, Author Publisher, Entrepreneur in my Kindle. Since the book was a gracious gift I added narration for an extra $1.99. I have not tried it yet, but it now gives me the option of reading or listening to the book. Since the paperwhite has no audio I will obviously use the Fire which so far I have used for cookbooks, instructional books, and poetry. This is such a cool transformer feature. I have always enjoyed audio books and frequently bought them after reading some book I liked. Now they are combined for one low price if you decide at the outset to purchase it. It bookmarks your place audio or reading. This is an upgrade. I am excited to try it.
The paperwhite reading experience is easy on the eye and fits perfectly into the hand. When I read A Religion of One’s Own on it recently I particularly enjoyed the vocabulary feature. When you touch a word you access a dictionary and the word is automatically added to your Kindle’s vocabulary builder list. The word remains on the list until you remove it manually. This feature thrills me because I am a word and language lover, but not always a stop and get the dictionary person. Reading should expand the vocabulary and glossing over meanings that are vague can lead to misunderstanding the author. I thought maybe I had been silly in buying the Fire model, but now am pleased I have one that can use the added narration feature. I love both of my Kindles and the fun eternal lending library which is included in Amazon Prime membership. I still love all the paper and print books in my home, but I see myself carrying all my books on Kindle as I buy them in the future. The advantages of Kindle ownership are numerous:
If you don’t have Amazon Prime you can do a free trial for a month, but to take full advantage of all it offers you need to own a Kindle. I am extremely pleased with my decision to join and to buy my Kindles. Now I am going to enjoy reading/listening to my new book to learn how to publish a book on Amazon. It is all very fitting.
I have restricted my reading of books for the last year to three, Sacred Contracts by Carolyn Myss, How to Think Like Leonardo DaVinci by Michael Gelb, and Impact Equation by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith. This experiment was proposed by Brother Brogan about the time that he published Impact Equation. I went for the idea because I have always read voraciously but applied the information with much less vigor. I also have enrolled in a course to study the Sacred Contracts material which I find fascinating and endlessly useful. I read constantly this year, and did not really read the three books much at all after the first three or four months. By then all the other participants including Brother Brogan had all quit the program. I stuck it out because it served me. I found out there is such a thing as reading too many books. There is more to life than reading.
I have put more practical application and reflection into what I have read this year. I do not hurry or skip through anything that I read now, which is new. I have been a speed reader for 40 years, having studied at the public library where I went for lessons by Dick Cavett on video. Life is change. If I have spent all this untold time reading it seems I should be able to write. I should also be able to read contemplatively, a skill I have yet to acquire. As I allow myself to buy and read books once more I have a new perspective. I have discovered the U of A Poetry Center and my ancestor poet in it. I have been to a few poetry readings during this diet, which I liken to being driven by a chauffeur. The experience of a poetry reading includes everything about the ambiance and company. I plan to return to the Poetry Center for both the readings and to read in that amazing ambiance. I also plan to write poetry as a meditative practice. Most of all I plan to be strategic and particular about all my reading from now on. I think if there is a librarian at the pearly gates we will be asked to do book reports to show comprehension, not prove that we have been on a life long book binge.
Rather than yo-yo dieting, allowing myself to totally pig out at the library right out of the gate, I have purchased three practical and useful books beyond the poetry books I will read will super mindfulness. My recent purchase, The American Bar by Charles Shumann, is a huge hit, although I have not finished reading it. It was center stage last night when I created a signature cocktail for one of my guests. Now that I have a fresh start I do not plan to read every book in the library before I mix my first cocktail. Reading how-to books without doing any of the things about which one reads is probably pointless. I think the remedy was well timed and perfect for me. My name is Pamela Morse and I am a book-a holic. As a recovering reading addict I will allow myself to go to libraries, but no used book stores for now. I need to know that I can stay in control. So far, so good.
I went along with a fad diet started by one of my social media teachers, Chris Brogan. Last November he proposed that limiting the number of books one read would change the way one learns and absorbs the art and information in the books. As a proud and profuse library addict I looked at my own reading habits and wondered if I might benefit from reading less and studying more. The Three Book Diet commenced with a bang and ended with a whimper very shortly after it was begun. I, however, had chosen three very deep books that deserve a lifetime of reflection and contemplation, as well as physical homework, so I stayed in.
The Sacred Contracts book is the text used in an on line course I have enrolled in to do deeper study in archetypal psychiatry. I have an extensive and comprehensive set of video lectures and appropriate homework assignments in the course. The student is required to look very deeply into the past and identify archetypal patterns and write about them in detail. The self analysis is heavy, and the written work required to make progress is lengthy and serious. I have started the work, but see that it could require a lifetime.
The Leonardo book has been on my shelf for years, as has the workbook with active homework assignments to help the reader become more like Leo. It ranks as one of my favorites, so I knew I could stay busy in these books easily for a year without scratching the surface. I was right about that; 10 months into this diet and I do not seem to be the least bit more brilliant or innovative. It is for the same reason it always is….because I do not do my homework to rebel. At least the Sacred Contract study has taught me that this rebel is a teacher and my teacher is a rebel, so maybe I will soon break out of my will to avoid my own assigned homework. That would be such a fabulous breakthrough!!
Impact Equation is a great book that I read once and looked at a couple of times during the diet. Chris is the new kind of guru. Perhaps I think this because he is my guru of social media and disruptive positive change. I subscribe to his newsletter and correspond with him all the time, so his voice and his attitude are very well known to me. I am actually happy he gave up the diet; I told him he was too young for it. Now he has launched a new magazine/biz school, Owner, which is very exciting, so obviously this was not his year to diet. I have learned from Sacred Contracts that Chris is my teacher and visionary. He doesn’t need a contract with me, but I am signed up to learn and emulate. It will end when I have done my homework. This brings me to the brilliance of the diet for me. I needed to blog and develop my own skills, but while consuming hundreds of books a year I had no time dedicated to my own writing. Now I have a small but growing group of Gentle Readers that I love very much. I would never have found them, or my discipline to write, had I not gone on the book diet.
When I break the fast I will decide what is prudent. I have a pile of books I bought and had signed by my favorite author of all time, Thomas Moore. I have preordered his new book, which will be released into my Kindle in January. I will read A Religion of One’s Own with great gusto. Chris Brogan is my guru of worldly wisdom, but Thomas Moore is my idol. He is teaching the world to be monastic….in a good way…in a meditative way….in a kind way. Contemplative reading is one way to meditate. The book diet has taught me the great value of learning more by consuming less. I may go on a One Book Diet next year..it could be fabulous.
The world is full of mythical beings. Some of them are art rendered by comic book or animation experts. Some are created simply by stereotyping everyone and everything. That guy is both mythical and all too real. I notice that some are not attracted to the concept of personal branding, while others embrace the on line chance to portray themselves as much better than they actually are. There are many who use our new digital instant PR machine to broadcast how miserable they are. It all boils down to attracting the kind of attention that you want to attract. The digital world of communication mimics the physical world by the giving and receiving of attention. Attention takes time and shows the quality of the identification that has been made. When an artist creates a new superhero it is imperative to know what kind of attention the character will solicit. For some reason this kind of scrutiny is not given to the image people project of themselves.
Through the clutter and the noise of endless status updates and offers, very few personal brands ring true. I like the joke that says Facebook is where you lie to your friends, and twitter is where you tell the truth to strangers but nobody cares in either case. The imperative to build an image requires that one question be asked. That question is, “What kind of attention do I want?’ The most common attempts are to solicit envy and or pity in an alternating way. These both work very well if one wants to find like-minded personal brands. If you want to stand out and be noticed for a positive attribute, you need to know what that is and honestly live in the reality you claim to be yours. The job requires self examination as well as craft, editing, and artistry.
I entered the wold of social media by listening to the book Trust Agents, a clear mandate to listen more than you propose. I am now reading the sequel, Impact Equation, which amplifies and expands on the original message. The overview and function of the entire communications system is what enlightens us in this latest book. Brother Brogan is my own bodhisattva of digital darshan. Maybe I bonded with him so much as my first teacher who instructed me on how to enter this strange new world. Maybe he is my superhero because I have never played a video game or felt the need to understand why and how people game. He loves tech and gaming in ways will never interest me, but he does not hang his hero hat on the gaming hook. He finds common ground by keeping a very tight relationship with the truth. He models Satya for the cosmic and decidedly digital age in which we live and express ourselves. His avi wears an outfit not unlike Superman’s own, but the S in his case stands for Satya. I know as a teacher myself that all students do not match all instruction. Style is a strong link that can hold attention for a short time. The teaching must contain truth, however, to hold the student’s deep attention. I am completely into the idea of Chris flying through my dreams in his truth suit, fighting sketchy versions of reality. Satyameister has my attention. There is much to learn.
When I recently visited a friend in New York who uses the internet, but not social media, I explained to her why I am a fan of both. I told her that I always liked physically hanging out in libraries, and now there is no need to go anywhere to do so. During the 3 years that I have done research on my family tree ancestry.com has constantly improved, providing a never-ending adventure into history with more data than anyone can handle. I am in tribes with many fun food bloggers who replace my cookbook habit with exciting new ideas. It is easier to find a zillion recipes by Google than it is to hunt in a physical library. The first of November I began a library fast that will last for a year. At first I freaked out and felt very attached to the liberal use of my public library as a primary need in my life. After a while I heard my own words come back to me as I encouraged my friend to experiment …”Now the library is all around us.”
The three book diet is the most ingenious of diets proposed by Chris Brogan to all within the sound of his voice ( digital power sphere). Such a clever little minx, he released a book and at the same time started a group dedicated to reading no more that three books all year. The idea is to saturate oneself and reflect on the content of the books rather than speed read and move to the next conquest. I already own all the books I have chosen, Chris’ Impact Equation having been zapped into the Kindle on the iPad the day it was released. I also have How to think Like Leonardo da Vinci on the ibooks in the iPad. The Sacred Contracts book came in the form of an audio CD, but I have since bought the hardback because it is useful for reference all the time. On my long drive next week I will listen to the Sacred Contract book again, just to be immersed. I think I shall also buy the Impact and Leonardo books on audio. I believe that hearing things is a different form of learning than reading, and hits the mind in a different way each time. I used to listen to the same Deepak Chopra book every time I worked out on the Pilates reformer. I have portions memorized to the point that they will never leave my brain. The audio version of Impact Equation will be out in a few weeks, and I will buy it to back up the written one.
I have met a few other participants on the twitter feed #3bd, the most interesting of whom is actually a librarian. I picture her in the middle of it all, and sticking to her diet. I may plan to go to the library in St Gallen, or some other fabulous old library at the end of my restriction year. I once went to see the one in St Gall, but found it closed for restoration when I visited. Who knows what kind of rebound this may cause. It looks like I am collecting my own little library by owning every format of my three books to start. This will be an interesting voyage. I can see the merits.
The discipline to finish, to study and to sweat out the details is the path of tapas. Yoga’s mandates for a balanced life, yamas and niyamas regulate the ease with which we find enlightenment. Tapas is right effort, or dedication. All our efforts are subject to the energy we exert and the commitment we create within our minds. Belief alone will not bring the rewards that confidence combined with focused work can yield. Self discipline often involves forsaking some addictive or wasteful pursuit for another more admirable one.
As a library freak one can proudly wave the flag of how many books one reads. I have been enchanted with libraries all my life, and consume content (as it is now known) like there is no tomorrow. Although I say health is my real wealth, the truth is that the Pima County Library is the only thing that ever actually makes me feel super rich. I free range browse, check out certain books many times for recipes and pictures, and mindlessly and greedily reserve every single book on my current obsession. I have exhausted the cookbook section in several of the local branches. I am attached like crazy fire to the idea of never ending books. The price is right, so what could possibly be wrong with this picture?
Suddenly, a pop quiz about books from my author/ally:
Chris Brogan, who is a favorite author as well as a sometime correspondent/ally issued a challenge to join him in a year of restricting oneself to reading only three books. It is called the Three Book Diet or #3BD for those who speak hashtag. When the idea was mentioned I quickly found ways to cheat and not really do it, but do it as an experiment. I was planning to make my third book a revolving cookbook from the library. After all, I could never be away from the library for an entire year. This mental rebellion itself was a strong clue to the real motives active here. When confronted with the idea that we may flit through book after book while never digesting or using any of the valuable methods or ideas acquired I did not need to ask for whom this challenge tolls. It tolls for me. My picture is in the cosmic dictionary under dilettante who has read almost every book in the world……not to mention all the various training ad infinitum….(please, not to mention). I have done my best to choose the three books with integrity, and as little cheating as possible.
The first one already has a notebook with it so I get a two for one..How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci by Michael Gelb is a great book I have read once and then some. Sacred Contracts is a book I am studying thoroughly with the tutelage of the author, Caroline Myss. The ever brilliant Mr Brogan has taken the third with his new book, The Impact Equation. The challenge involves journaling and making use of the books chosen in an interactive way. Since Leonardo and Carolyn are already in the workbook homework format, and Brother Brogan is tweeting about it, it seems like a cohesive package. Yesterday I drove a route that ALWAYS includes a visit to the library. I thought very carefully about what a year would do to my feelings of abundance. It is not an easy decision, but I believe that tapas will become my new source of abundance.