Figuring it out

Candy and water. A pause. Then coffee and cigarettes. My breakfast routine doesn’t change much when I’m out of town to country. It does not, in fact, change very much going through anything from a crisis in action to a crisis and consciousness.

Glucose, a form of sugar, is the primary source of energy for every cell in the body. The brain uses one half of all this sugar. Evidence supporting my Smarties addiction or methodology for supporting my creative genius?

It’s about 39°F in Saint Joe’s, Michigan but I don’t feel it sitting here looking out the glass doors. I’m busy putting all the structures I’ve built in my life into my mind-vice and crushing them. Sugars in candy break down instantly to give glucose, which Natalee Brain chomps through heartily this morning during demolition.

Building new structures is one of the ways I get my jollies and I’m excited for the architected forms that lie ahead.

When I accept the invitation to see two forces in conflict, such as now, I immediately focus on imagining the products of change this tension can provide.

Something wants to move, something else resists. Tension seeks release in a changing. Transformations, evolution, and progress require struggle as well as assertive, reflective, and decisive action. Something worth remembering when you feel you are falling out of rhythm with the turning world.

While we like the idea of growth, nerves falter at the reality of change. The tempo shifts, with your relationships at work, your relations to family and friends, your income levels, or your connection with your beloved. Stumbling to the new beat, you either try to adjust quickly or plod along to the obsolete beat in stubborn resistance.

Powerful forces do not always work as well together such as coffee and cigarettes. One blocks or thwarts the other. The other must reorient it’s direction to get what it wants. Stress brings with it a potent thrust of energy that makes necessary changes possible.

So what will you build? What will I? From where do your stresses originate?

If a crisis in action can be defined as a motivation to externally build, achieve, or manifest the new structure, we can define a crisis and consciousness as an internal requirement of a mental adjustment. A shift in our thinking, our intentions, or beliefs. For me, it requires modifying or completely eliminating an idea. I call these “crises'” for a reason.

Those of you who had a couple conversations with me are sure to know by that point that I am absolutely obstinate about my ideas. They’re more than fantasies, ideologies, and thought forms. They’re my children, my hearts deepest love, my intellects most passionate convictions. Asking me to consider a new idea is respectable and I will take your points thoughtfully and fairly consider them. Asking me to change my ideas off the bat, however, is an insult to the complexity of my mind and the mature deliberation I’ve given to form them.

I hope you are sure by now, dear reader, if I THINK of you, it can be regarded as one of the highest compliments you can receive from this (described by previous lovers, friends, and myriad acquaintances) “icy”, “aloof”, “unreachable” actress.

But sparring with people is easy game, right? You can slam doors and walk away. You can punish them with your verbal abuses or with the coldness of your absence.

But what if the opposing force is not so clearly inside a person in your life? What if you come into an existential crisis? Or loss of your sense of self? Or a fierce and dark realization about your supposed life purpose? How do you react when the conflict is internal? Or worse: when there is internal conflict agitated by conflict with the one you love?

The word “crisis” is alarmist and scary. What I imply is the maximum energy that comes through crises. Energy is not discriminate. It doesn’t care how it’s used, only that it is. The tension a crisis produces can feel unpleasant when the energy backs up or goes unexpressed. However, Dearie, the tension here can also feel exhilarating if it flows in action (expelling the energy resource). It will feel frustrating when either you have no outlet to apply the tension or if you misuse the energy into self-destructive action or hurtful action upon others.

The fuck-and-fight couple that separates could have been a powerful force in creating and multiplying business. The couple that drinks and drugs and separates could have channeled their mutual dependence on an altered state to achieve meditative transcendence or have been creative leaders in their community. The couple that sees one another 46 days a year and separates could have been constantly broadening each other’s horizon and nurturing each other’s growth and expansion, heightening the effects of the overloading endorphins that are released those 46 days in each other’s embrace.

Changing my environment through travel is one of the most internally productive and beneficial experiences I create in my life. This allows most fertile soil for the clearing of perception. Our field becomes clogged with the residue of our growth cycle. You must step out of the paradigm in order to see the paradigm. You must exit the matrix in order to understand what the matrix is (Point of Information: a matrix is essentially an environment or structure).

While in the matrix of your life and relationships clarity can lack. It can lead to weak immoderate desires, faulty judgments, or misguided ambitions. We find ourselves in the eye of the storm: unhappy, upside down, confused, with little clear reason why.

But we know something inside wants to redirect, to change our course or situation for the better. That’s the tension. We either move willingly into the new direction or resist and pull back.

Nearing the end of my 2nd cup of black coffee, visions of my past crises rise to the surface of my attention. Why did I pull that trigger? How could I have possibly come to such a conclusion? Me! An admirably intellectual force!

During a spin out most people instinctively slam on the brakes and steer against the spin. But experts advise the opposite: don’t break. Turn into the spin. So it is with the momentum of a crisis, internal or external. Things are changing. Go with it.

There are brave new worlds that lie just around the corner. If one job ends, another with a new set of characters awaits. If one identity dies, a new you readies itself to take its proper place. If one form of a relationship ends, an exciting new road opens up that allows for more freedom and happiness and love that could not of been possible in the previous structure.

This all requires trust. Trust in yourself. Trust in the process of maturation. Trust, perhaps, in another human. Life models for us how these cycles work. She gives us light and form and relinquishes it. She builds and destroys and builds again. She shows us how fluid cycles are, ever-changing and natural. Surrendering to this flow harmonizes us with the nature of time, of our own timing.

Inflexibility is my blessing and my curse. It creates in me the most steadfast and loyal resource in my professional and personal relationships. It also direct me to persist despite the situation having grown past benefit.

When I pledge my allegiance to an idea, a cause, a role, and a person, it becomes part of who I am. So when a crisis requiring letting go of any of these presents itself: I freak the fuck out. I don’t want to plant the seeds of the future order. Not without assurance the fundamental idea or person is still there. My steely determination is driven to revolution and reformation – NOT abandonment and “letting go”.

The thing about cycles is that they keep returning us to familiar ground so that we might be newly creative there. These are the turnstiles to change we claim we want to make.

But changes are almost never what you think they’ll be. I’m sure we’ve both had to, at times, forget whatever bright changes we planned on making. There’s likely been a thinly disguised veil of what you think you’ve been doing. And if you think these crises are about the other person changing, discard that expectation too!

Lean into the pain, the fear, and the discomfort. Dramatic events should not go unused. Whether they arrive like exploding dynamite or by subtle means slip into your life as softly as moonlight, you feel the change in tempo. It could help to look for a new rhythm in uncooperative, critical people, busted ambitions, or whatever makes you feel lonely or sad. Moments easily missed while in the paradigm.

Michigan is still Michigan out the window but I’m on my 3rd cup of Joe and uncountable camel blues.

My stimulated mind brings us to two choices: act or refrain. Do something you’ve never done or quit doing something you’ve always done, internally, externally, or both. Can you feel the new rhythm? Can you dance to this new beat? Can you accept the agents of change? Do you have the courage to act as the agent of change? Can you allow yourself to love without expectation? Do you have the bravery required to let yourself be loved? Are you possessed of the heroism it takes to love yourself?

I spent the morning thinking and writing and must now prepare to entertain guests. Shower. Makeup. Table settings. I’ll be ruminating on my inflexibility the rest of the weekend in regard to these concepts of crises, unconditional love, and my identity and life purpose.

I’m figuring it out, just like you.

If I added any value to your thought process or life with this post, feel free to add some to mine with your own personal opinions and insights. I love to hear from readers and I look forward to getting to know you. Maybe we can figure it out, together.

Voters

It’s an historical fact that abuse of power has already occurred multiple times within American history. While even libertarian and classical liberal ideals were voted for and elected into power, the lights of liberty have still failed. It is the very “founding fathers” who have served as the progenitors of all the abuses of the executive branch today. The mechanism that perpetuates this widespread abuse, is voting.

Voting is consent. Consent to be governed by the State. Not voting is individual secession. 46.6% of Americans did not vote in the recent presidential election of 2016, thereby formally withdrawing membership of this ridiculous process.

Voting is playing the game. You do not withdraw your consent if your candidate loses. People who engage in the political process are people playing the game, and you thereby must accept the outcome. So if you play the game and lose, you must accept the fact that your opponent won the game. Wouldn’t you look a fool if you were to say your opponent’s win is not legitimate because you didn’t win? Now, if you refuse to play the game, and someone declares they have beat you… it would be clear to understand that as false because you had never played the game to begin with.


This is why voting is losing. It means you have consented to the results of the game no matter what those results are. You’ve already approved the outcome. Even if you cannot condone the actions taken by another candidate and have voted for your chosen candidate, you have still elected a trigger man. And the guns are big.


The game is democracy. The game is rigged. Who wants to play a rigged game? Apparently, 46.6% of Americans do not.

We can understand the perspective of wanting to vote often in order to gain incremental victories through the political process. I will not insult your intelligence by assuming you haven’t done at least the most superficial of learning to insinuate you do not know that the game has been rigged in their favor since the beginning. The statist system is designed to expand government powers, not limit them. This plays into the agenda of both “sides”. So while you may feel (whichever side you’re on) that you win some and lose some, the game is in the long run going to go to your real opponent. The left and right succeed because their agenda is the same on a fundamental level: coercion and state expansion, both profit from the political process which is how the left have been able to make incremental victories at all.

We all know the electoral college distorts the system, so I’ll save space in my essay for other considerations. The skinny is that: your vote doesn’t really matter much, and if your state does manage to get to the point where it might, it still doesn’t.

If voting implies that you consent to the outcome of the game, it means that voting is aggression even if it’s indirect. It’s the insidious political system of democracy that removes the initiation of violence back a few steps and conceals it behind the system of voting. Consenting legitimizes this system. Even while many who have voted have done so out of guilt and a sense of obligation because they know deep down, they are supplying ammo to the trigger man.

So if you feel it’s “in your power” to vote against violence, shouldn’t one do so? Consider the funds used to finance the horrors of government: they are taken from us against our will. If a thief robs you, what he does with that money after that is not your responsibility. There is an illusion here that it is with our tax dollars. They want you to play their game. So even if you do vote in opposition to violence, and lose, you’re still consenting to it. Only the sovereign that withdrew consent from the statist system is the one who can walk with a clear conscience that they did not condone the violence of the state.

Let’s bring the curtain back: Voting is the appearance of consent. All the state is based on is the appearance of consent. It’s where the “legitimacy” and “authority” of the state is derived. If anything, voting is an action taken to solidify the perception of the legitimacy of the state and only strengthens their oppression. Not voting, you are profoundly proclaiming for the state to leave you the fuck alone. You are demanding that no one be elected and legislate nothing.

Free men and women do not beg with ballot boxes. Freedom is taken.

Voting is a manifested action taken that legitimizes a political process known to be used by the state to violate the rights of others. If you vote, you sanction this and more horrors. You have facilitated the imposition of unjust power upon unconsenting others, especially non-voters.

The state aggresses everyone. Whether you voted for it, against it, or not at all. All are assumed to have consented to the states authority. The 46.6% of Americans who did not vote: are they relieved from taxation? No. Are they pardoned from the governments schemes, impositions, and courts of law? No. Are they free to live sovereign and independent of the statist system? Not quite. Does this not prove how profoundly this electoral game is rigged against any possibility of escape? That non-voters are still “bound” by electoral results?! (That’s a little dramatic, but you understand my meaning.)

In “The Right to Ignore the State”(1851), the classical liberal Herbert Spencer commented, “So, curiously enough, it seems that he [a voter] gave his consent in whatever way he acted – whether he said yes, whether he said no, or whether he remained neuter! A rather awkward doctrine, this. Here stands an unfortunate citizen who is asked if he will pay money for a certain proffered advantage; and whether he employs the only means of expressing his refusal or does not employ it, we are told that he practically agrees, if only the number of others who agree is greater than the number of those who dissent. And thus we are introduced to the novel principle that A’s consent to a thing is not determined by what A says, but by what B may happen to say!”

THE FUCK?

Impossible to say “no”. This political farce serves the state, not the voters. The entire process is the state legitimatizing itself by being “established” by “the will of the people”. As voting “for” or “against” does not diminish your role in sanctioning the result, it’s non-voting that can actually weaken the state.

My personal objections to voting:

– Moral. I cannot vote one way or another while the risk of sanctioning someone’s unjust quest for power and use of force against innocent third parties remains. It’s not that the wrong hand is at the helm, but that the helm is there at all. To me, as a prolific individualist, it is morally wrong to assist anyone into an unjust position of power over the rights and wealth of others. I have that much respect for you, dear reader.

– Psychological. To me, not voting is an act of self-respect. In the words of Henry David Thoreau in “On Civil Disobedience”: “How does it become a man to behave toward this American government to-day? I answer that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it. … What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.”

– Political. Fixing things through the government is a fools errand. Laws repealed today are reinstated tomorrow. What is banned by the FDA today was once approved by the FDA in the past. The states power doesn’t reside in laws, agencies, geographic area, or even it’s size. Power rests in social conditions, it resides in how many people respect the State’s authority. The State can lose it’s legitimacy, and we would then resist taxes and forfeit blind obedience. I cannot legitimize the farce of the political process by voting for it.

– Logical. I don’t know what one will do once one enters office. They get there with false promises, banking on the hopes of the masses. If there’s two things I hate in the world, it’s dirty liars and double-crossers. I don’t believe in campaign promises. The only logical and sure way to achieve political freedom is to eliminate and delegitimatize the positions of power being sought.

– Practical. I refuse to vote out of self-protection. Voting violates privacy with unpredictable and unfortunate consequences. Being called in for jury duty is normalized and seen as an inconvenience. I see it as being trapped in a state database and my free will being taken from me, where my time is now being demanded and corralled against my will… like a slave. I own myself. I resist.

– Financial. Taxation is made compulsory on all, whether they vote or not, putting into government hands a sword which will be used against him/her, to extort more money, further robbery, enslavement, and keep them in subjection to its arbitrary will, not even mentioning all the other usurpations and tyrannies and violences of the government. I fucking hate that.

Here’s an idea:

In his essay “If We Quit Voting” (1945), Frank Chodorov put his finger on one of the main problems with casting a ballot: “when we oust the rascals, do we not, as a matter of course, invite a new crowd?” Non-voting reversed that problem. “All this would change if we quit voting. Such abstinence would be tantamount to this notice to politicians: since we as individuals have decided to look after our affairs, your services are no longer needed…. Would chaos result? No, there would be order, without law to disturb it.”

Chodorov concluded,

“To effectuate the suggested revolution all that is necessary is to stay away from the polls. Unlike other revolutions, it calls for no organization, no violence, no war fund, no leader to sell it out. In the quiet of his conscience each citizen pledges himself, to himself, not to give moral support to an unmoral institution, and on election day he remains at home. That’s all.”

I vote with my lifestyle engaging in direct democracy (DOING things instead of electing representatives to do them), fiscal activism, honoring the edicts of my will and ambitions, loving fiercely, creating new art every single day, and pledging with great respect to always protect and defend free will and breath-taking life on Earth.

I specifically waited until after the election to post this. Why? Because I wanted you to have a fresh reaction. The way you feel after having voted, or not, and reading this essay is important. It’s going to help shape what you do in the future. Perhaps this essay reaffirms your belief in the system, or drives you further from it, or gives a clear language to a feeling in the pit of your stomach you have about voting but could not define. Or maybe this is pure entertainment. Whatever the effect, you should pat yourself on the back for thoroughly exploring a different perspective and considering an independent idea. You’re creating a better quality of life by having done so.

Turning Enemies into Slaves

I hate the words “victim” and “survivor”.

“Victim” because it admits injury. “Survivor” because it implies temporal vulnerability and weakness.

All other terms and adjectives to describe the same things sound inaccurate, and completely artificial when speaking of those who have experienced human cruelty and who have been familiar with danger, violence, predators, and life-threatening circumstances. So, I’ll be referring to you as the hero, or heroine. Your enemies are: Negative self image, low self-esteem, PTSD, and saboteurs.

Weaponize your trauma.

Identity, is a great place to start in zombifying your enemies into slaves. Define yourself, on your terms, and “fake it till you make it” if you need to, Hero. Now that you’ve been through some shit, the world, both the public and those in your circle, are going to view you differently; it’s natural. They label you “victim” and make you feel damaged. They label you “survivor” and you are patronized.

Define your image as powerful. If you’re of a gentler breed and lean on the forgiving end, adopt an image that is benevolent, empathetic, and all peace-absorbing (the other powerful).

Take what the world expects you to be post-trauma and turn it on it’s head. You define how you move forward and that begins with curating a new you. Remember, this is only important because of how you view your self. It does not MATTER what they think of you.

The enemy breeding self-harm through negative self-image becomes the slave that builds you stronger and dutifully serves your healthily operating ego.

A seat of power. If you’re wondering why you should feel powerful post-assault (or bombing, massacre, hijack, etc.) it’s because you have occurrences added to your experiential database that are completely filtered through the subjective of who you were at the time. Why is this valuable? Because it’s information!

The human intuition is an actual mechanism for survival. Your intuition is fed and updated daily with a constant barrage of experiences. Each experience, sensory bit, thought, feeling, reaction, and sight is processed at an unconscious level and the pertinent information needed at hand is then delivered to your conscious mind via the subconscious. When you can’t explain why you shouldn’t take the car to work logically, it’s your intuition delivering information it received the other day in passing on the radio about a storm, and you know “deep down” the roads will be slick and your break pads need changing. The intuition goes from A to Z without stopping at any other letter along the way. When you need to make a decision in the moment and don’t have time to logically ask yourself the qualifying questions and analyze the answers to arrive at the best choice, intuition is your mechanism to deliver infos at lightning speed.

Having been through trauma, these experiences add valuable information to your database that you should utilize for the future safety of your self. (Yes, it does happen that intuition is fed with dis-information, or manipulative misinformation and that will in turn cause our internal mechanism to operate based on inaccuracies. This is dangerous! A talk for another time, I’m afraid.)

The enemy generating low self-esteem becomes the communicative slave that empowers you through self-counsel that builds confidence.

PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. (If you’ve never experienced this, this article may not be for you). You hate fireworks, the dark, sudden noises, guns, doors, running water, a name, a song, a place, a scent, a person. Triggers set you off. You’ve developed OCD, or some other quirk.

Embrace this. This is an important part of who you are now. Remember this is a process and the quicker you integrate and customize this PTSD the faster you’ll be better to your best. To be honest, I’ve never seen anyone completely “get over” their PTSD. I’ve just seen people trying so desperately to eradicate it “completely” from their lives, crumbling under the pressure to do so and feeling miserable each time it rears it’s head. I ask of you: pet it. Keep the monster as a friend, at first a pet on a leash to train, whom over time you will trust enough to walk independently at your side obediently and faithfully.

I’ve taken a severe paranoia of my personal safety to the level of creating a militarized lifestyle for myself that makes me feel secure enough to walk out my front door. Yes, the details appear quite bizarre to the public, friends, and some family. That doesn’t matter, though. If you’re a woman, you needn’t have experienced a direct attack to feel fear walking to your car in a parking garage late at night, or a little uneasy when your date overreacts and you see a flash of temper. By the way, the worst that can happen for a guy on a date and the worst he fears is that he is embarrassed and/or rejected. For a woman, the worst that can happen and the worst we fear is rape, kidnap, assault, and death.

The world is still a very dangerous place for every woman whether she be a rebel in a conflict-laden country or a six-figure earning member of a prestigious household in a western society. 

Something fucked up happened to you. Give yourself some slack and don’t judge yourself for how your unconscious mind is processing it. Lean into it. Exploring your PTSD will aid you in internalizing the process. Observe it from the widest lens possible. You are not your explosive anger. You are a human briefly experiencing explosive anger. You are not anxious. You are temporarily experiencing anxiety. Get it?

Resolve to healthily incorporate your new little quirks. Take control over the scary and damaging side effects, and greatly reduce the stress and pressures associated with “dealing with” PTSD. This does require creativity, so feel free to reach out to me with your problems and I’m more than happy to offer some creative and healthy solutions.

I sometimes teach Body Language Reading & Intuition Study to classes and individuals; One client came to me suffering from night terrors where he’d jolt awake in a deep sweat. I privately counseled him through his nightmares (his subconscious attempting to process the trauma) and assigned a specialized routine he’d have to perform each time he’d wake. He now sleeps through the night without a problem.

When you accept these shiny new parts to you they will strengthen as time goes on. Imagine yourself one year from now, proud to have something interesting and unique to potentially share with others.

To each depressing and life-beating obstacle that comes your way post-event you should then ask yourself, “How can this slave serve me?” “How can I use it to be strong?” Your PTSD is no source of shame, it’s you internalizing some process. You decide what use it can serve as a slave or just how much this enemy can devastate you.

The enemies that the remnants of your trauma create become the slaves to your current lifestyle, dutifully serving some practical purpose to assist your new heightened awareness.

Saboteurs. Dealing with saboteurs will take every exhaustible and inexhaustible resource you have to defeat them. You must call on every slave, tool, and weapon in your arsenal. Mitigating risk to zero when dealing with the uncontrollable factor of another person is an extremely volatile exercise, especially since you’ve seen war (in your own form as some sort of assault was made against your safety and well-being) and will respond differently to human aggression now. Whether there is someone at work trying to sabotage your advancement to a lucrative position or an un-cooperating family member that cannot accept the new you, you will need to discipline the mind and steel yourself from their slanderous and verbal assaults to the best of your developed ability. Without launching in to an entirely new piece of writing, what I will say is this: do NOT let them turn your slaves back into enemies!

You control your slaves: THEY work for YOU.

Do not surrender control of the slave that dutifully re-affirms your identity. What people think is their business, refuse their projections and maintain control of your self-image.

Do not let petty people devolve you into one that reacts from a position of insecurity, low self-esteem, and weakness by hijacking the voice of the slave that is there to maintain your confidence.

Do not allow any persons shaming, guilt, criticism, or manipulation to mutate your little lifestyle slaves back into PTSD enemies! Judgements and aggravations are a means of control, which you must maintain over yourself and your private inner kingdom.

Perhaps you were a happy extrovert, and are now reticent. Perhaps you were already an introvert, and are now a deeper introvert or close to complete recluse status.

Develop, grow, and populate your inner kingdom purposefully. Be comfortable with yourself.

NN E5: Age Doesn’t Matter Because Time Isn’t Real

“Time” is an agreed upon construct that we have measured as one of Earth’s rotations equalling one orbit of the sun, divided it into segments, then given those segments labels, power, and a reductive judgmental quality.

You don’t need to contribute to ageism and judge yourself by “age”. 

“Beauty”, is an agreed upon ideal that changes with cultures and various periods in the culture’s maturity and emotional trends.

You don’t need to feel shitty about not being considered attractive. You shouldn’t be a dick to people if you think you’re better than them because you’re something todays society considers “attractive.”

The “aging” process is 50% determined by your DNA, and 50% determined by your FREE WILL CHOICES, that will either prolong or accelerate the process of decay.

Take responsibility for your choices, your inner & outer beauty, your image. Use your free will wisely, and stand behind of and take pride in how you’ve designed yourself. 

Reject standard forms of beauty and value! Create your own and revel in your own individuality!

 

I’m hoping after you watch the video you’ll be able to chuckle to yourself at the silly notions of being self-conscious about how “old” you are. I hope you use this thought-provoking episode to give momentum to any positive changes you’re thinking about or already implementing in your life. I hope you buy the color lipstick you previously thought wasn’t “your age”; I hope you go vegan and shuck the previous self-consciousness at the immense shit you’ll get for doing it; I hope you fall in love with someone that lasts because they were instantly attracted to the uniquely and defiantly “you” package you present to the world; I hope you can feel happy for others without feeling shitty about yourself; I hope you design some cool shit when you think of who you really are and decide to represent that in how you look; I hope you improve the quality of your life; I hope you understand why you’re the most important person in your life; I hope you do whatever it is that you want to, and I support you completely. 

Design who you are, take responsibility for it, and derive confidence from your individuality.

Lots of love,

Natalee

The Benefits of the Pause: Break Optimization

It isn’t easy in our fast-paced culture and faster-paced work culture to “take breaks”, or interrupt the flow of progressing work –even when it’s “well earned”.

Culture and society aside, it’s the reaffirming inner voice that’s egging us on to do more, keep going, do better, work faster, and grind harder.

Taking breaks, resting, pausing, and especially any declaration of “needs” regarding an individual practicing self-care is heavily stigmatized as not being able to keep up, or being wussy, high-maintenance, or not taking work “seriously”. (These are just a few reasons, a host of others include maintaining a sense of job security and keeping a competitive edge on the serious level of actually keeping your job, a stress pressed upon far too many by employers who want to use that psychology to exploit their employees.)

Thankfully, there are labor laws that help justify the importance of taking a break. But what about those of us who have non-traditional/unorthodox work practices? Or who exchange the 9-5 for the 24/7 self-employed route?

Well, it’s much less structured, and that’s the point.

However, loving what you do and experiencing the reward-based system of fulfillment it brings with each accomplishment, milestone, and gain, opens the back door to exhaustion and a very real tendency to work yourself into the ground. Whether it’s fueled by creative ambition, monetary goals, the sheer competitive spirit, exalted ideals, or by a dutiful sense of service to humanity, you’ll find a reason to push yourself farther than is healthy for your body and your mind.

But pause, you must. I think of it this way, “I must rest now, because what I’m prioritizing my focus on deserves the very best of me.” It’s the same idea that you must help yourself so that you are able to help others, so as to not tax yourself helping others that you cause detriment to your being.

As a creative entrepreneur who loves work so much that I exploit my own insomnia to get more done, I’m ardently suggesting to you: Give yourself a break.

 

I hope you’ll feel a little less guilty for breaking. In fact, I hope you’re reading this in a relaxed state that allows time to get through the whole article. But, you’re probably in the middle of something, are in transit, or are mindful of the time because… you’ve got shit to do! That’s cool. If you’d appreciate some break-spiration, I’d like to share a few personal tiers of remedies for different levels of over-work.

Mental Breaks

(for fast stress management)

First, try an easy remedy to help regulate workflow productivity by taking short “mental” breaks from the task at hand when having difficulty focusing and instead put your attention on a separate activity that is still engaging and creative but different enough to provide stress relief.

I plan trips.

It opens up my imagination and creativity to dream up the most ideal adventures and engages the part of my personality that is passionate about structure and organizing.

Neuschwanstein

This is the Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany, commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria out of his personal fortune (and not paid for by any public funds) to serve as a refuge for the reclusive king.

I’m currently planning a nature/exploration/step-retracing/castle-tour trip for my next German Adventure, along with: an American Legend Road Trip, a Romanian Mystery Mission, the Trans-Siberian Train Junket, several film and director-themed expeditions and a host of others. Since I’m under no actual pressure to plan/book on anyone else’s timeline, I can really enjoy the pre-planning process and let my imagination fly.

So not only do I give myself a “break” from the tasks at hand but I’m also being productive. When the time is ripe for one of these adventures, I actually just pluck it off a shelf, purchase my requisite tickets/reservations and I’m off!  Poof!

Mental breaks are incredibly important, they refresh the mind and spirit, and will make you much more efficient when you come back to your main work and produce better work with less errors than you would have if you tried working straight through.

So, what do you like to daydream about? Try planning it!

I Snapchat.

It’s very silly, very fun, and breaks up the pressure on my attention resources.

So unless you have fears that Snapchat is building a facial recognition database, snap on!

I watch a music video.

This is another way I love to give myself some mental relief. It also gives me something small to look forward to, a reward system favorite that can temporarily transport me to another place. Current repeats are:

Rammstein – Stripped
Beyonce – Formation
Muse – Madness
alt-J – Every Other Freckle

These will usually rotate or expire after their initial appeal (usually that it’s new to me) wears. However, some gems (Like Rammstein’s “Stripped”) I never get tired of as I take in nostalgic value and new inspiration and insight with every view. I’ve been watching that video for years!!

 

Physical Breaks

(these are truly restorative)

There’s just no way to perform at your highest level without allowing time for rest, physiologically. When you work very long periods the brain is using up oxygen and glucose as they’re the primary forms of the brains energy.

Naturally, maintaining unbroken focus or engaging in demanding intellectual activity for several hours really does burn enough energy to leave you feeling drained.

Anti-Screen

Both trip-planning and Snapchatting require looking at a screen, and extended time engaging in these activities will burn me out especially if I’m going from a work screen to another screen. This is where it’s great to get to know yourself better; By the way I feel, I can tell if I need a short snap-break or a break where I need to disconnect my vision, attention, and body from all screens/electronics and move.

Breaking from the screens is what will provide a true respite and effectively reboot your brain. Personally, I’m very fond of walking. I just pocket a few essentials (knife, keys,  lip balm, pen & paper) and walk out the door. If I’m feeling public-evasive, I’ll pace indoors and will usually pause to stare out a window.

Blood-Flow

I’ll piggy-back this onto the pacing: love movement if you don’t already. In whatever form suits you best, just get the heart rate up even (or take a deep breath to reset if it’s already up from stress) like putting some oomph in your step, doing squats, stretching, 10 push-ups every couple hours, jumping jacks, dancing, walking to the second nearest coffee shop, etc. Personally, I really like to shadow-box. It’s a quickness on my feet and practicing my favorite moves that gets my heart going, with the added benefit of fun because I pretend I’m ALI.

Besides, increasing blood flow to the brain helps sharpen your awareness. A study by Jim McKenna from the University of Bristol showed that after exercising, work performance was consistently higher as shown by better time management and improved mental sharpness. As your brain is your single greatest asset that we cannot afford to let it dull!

Exercise improves your brain in the short term by raising your focus for two to three hours afterwards. Now that you know this, try planning any pitches, presentations, or situations accordingly so as to be at your mental “peak”. Test the results yourself! Long-term, you can fight brain deterioration and Alzheimer’s on a cellular level (neuroplasticity), as the brain is able to improve itself with blood flow (yay, exercise!) and levels of brain-derived protein.

How do you like to move your body? Don’t do something you’ll grow to resent, because you’ll just stop doing it. Pick something physical that you enjoy.

We all know exercise releases endorphins, those feel good chemicals. Did you also know that endorphins improve the prioritizing functions of the brain?! How cool is that! A natural remedy for impulse control! So when you come back from exercise, your ability to sort out priorities will be greatly improved, allowing you better concentrate on the task at hand, and what’s truly important.

If you want something done, give it to a busy person.

It’s a proven fact that productivity begets more productivity. So give yourself a damn pat on the back for the work you’ve done and reward yourself with a few minutes to up to half an hour most days of increased heart rate. Because when you come back from your blood-flow break, you’ll be a little high off the endorphins, glistening from a dewy glow, a prioritizing maestro, and sharp as a tack. 

All this amounts to a more productive day as well as a being a real aide in finding/keeping an optimal work/life balance. A regular blood flow/movement/exercise routine is essentially a structured activity that helps us become better at time management and more confident in our ability to pull off the demands of life.

This is why I stress the importance of moving in a way you like to. Without the joy, it could be the first thing you eliminate when looking for more slices of precious time. I know it’s tempting to nix, but it could be just the thing that helps keep your life, mind, and body functioning smoothly and in balance.

Scooby Snacks!

I’m a HUGE snacker. I like to keep munchies or “scooby snacks” nearby just incase I need an energy boost or nibble.  I love seeds and nutmeat, here are a few personal favorites:

  1.  SUNFLOWER SEEDS (from their shells salted, baked into sea-salted nuggets,  in sonnenblumenkernbrot –I’m actually not that picky so long as they’re salted!)
  2. Trail mix
  3. Pistachios
  4. Salted Cashews

They keep very well and aren’t prone to spoil or deform under the sun.
Now, we all know food is fuel. So when picking snacks that serve you, try to pick the ones that’ll keep your engine running longer, as opposed to the ones that you’ll burn through fast only to crash now and suffer (as will your work!) later.

I look at it this way: Fire needs fuel just like I do. You ever burn some paper? Fire eats it up in a pinch before it’s out. What sustains fire? Dense logs. Nutrient-poor and sugary snacks will run you hot and flame out fast, so steer clear and opt for healthy snacks as your slow-burning fuel to keep you going all day.

Protein People! Lest we forget, protein-rich foods contain an amino acid that increases the production of neurotransmitters that regulate concentration and alertness: tofu & cheese for the yay!

 

Meditation. Obviously.

I left Chicago for ten days to learn the Vipassana meditation technique. It remains one of the most valuable and privately cherishing experiences of my life. Incase you’d like to learn more, this is the place I went to. I promise, they don’t try to sell you anything, guilt you in any way for any reason, or try to steal you from your family and friends to devote your life to the will of a charismatic but dangerous leader.

While there, I submitted to the strict eating schedule of two meals a day plus fruit and tea at dinnertime. Everything was organic, fresh, and there were enough options for a picky eater like myself. The day began at 4:00am and I, along with the other students, meditated for 10 hours with a few rest/meal periods, and concluded with a short instructional lecture ending the day at 9:00pm every night, for ten full days straight.

I loved it, and returned soon after to volunteer as a server, an experience which served it’s own purpose.

When I first got back I was able to meditate two to three hours a day. Over the course of a year it dwindled to 15 minutes in the morning and at night until I fell asleep. As of this writing, it’s now just at night in my bed, whatever time it is I crawl into it, until I fall asleep. It’s my one-year anniversary and I consider it a great opportunity to reinstate such a healthy habit!

The skinny is this: I wasn’t “sold” at the idea of shipping myself away for ten days in the care of potential weirdos, taking a vow of silence, in the middle of BUFU-nowhere, where upon I surrender my cell phone, all technological devices, paper, pens, writing instruments and all other forms and ways of committing information to remembrance. Only when I did research, and came upon an article called, “Transcendental Billionaire” did I take the leap of faith and apply for the course (It’s FREE, no-strings-attached free, so there’s always a waiting list).

I’m so happy I did.

If you have something similar you practice to quiet your mind, re-center, calm the nerves, and restore perspective, try incorporating that into your day and see what happens. If you’re open to trying Vipassana on for size, or any other meditation technique, give it a go and see where it takes you. I can only speak from anecdotal experience, so I’d rather you try it yourself and have your own experience.

If none of that looks appetizing, try sitting quietly for ten minutes and focus your attention on the sensations of your body, the exhaling through your nose and how the air moves over your upper lip, the temperature, breezes over your skin, the dull ache from last Tuesday, your heartbeat, etc.

Break Optimization –Natalee Style

  1. Work in bursts, then take a break. I’ve read that 90-minute spurts could be more effective, this is according to a theory of rest that borrows from other observations made during sleep research. They get this from the ultradian rhythm which we progress through all five cycles of sleep and sort of apply that to the cycles of waking life signifying the movements between higher and lower states of alertness in a perceived rest-activity cycle. Now, I don’t time my activity-rest cycles according to the ultradian rhythm, but feel free to try it! You can also “feel it out”: Pay attention to when you’re about to burn out, then check for water, a snack, fresh air, blood circulation, sleep, etc. and supply whatever you need accordingly.
  2. Napping. Napping improves learning and memory, it boosts mental alertness as well as increases creativity and productivity. For me, naps can be tricky, and I definitely plan them carefully. The 25-30 minute recommended nap along with the more beneficent 60 minute nap will sometimes do it’s job as a short and effective energy booster. But sometimes it can work against me and I wake up feeling weird and disoriented, especially if I’ve fallen hard (overtired) and wasn’t ready to be pulled from a dream, if I had an intense nightmare, or if I had a surrealism dream and I wake up feeling like I’m in a different day/place/version of reality (ah!). My life constantly teeters relative normalcy and Rod Serling-normalcy. But you probably don’t have any Rod Serling issues and will be able to nap just fine, so go for it!
  3. Mindfulness. Basically applying some meditation techniques and/or other extremely effective perspective-adjusting exercises that are very calming. For me, it’s meditation, for you, maybe it’s a yoga or deep breathing. Admittedly, I sometimes forget I have this invaluable tool in my life-toolbox -especially if I’m overtired, hungry, or my judgements are compromised somehow. If you forget too, try leaving little clues for yourself when it is on your mind, like a post-it with your snacks “checking in” or setting an alert on your phone. The benefits are instant! (But if you’re not into meditation, don’t sweat. I also love re-reading my favorite quotes and book-passages. It’s a different kind of stabilizing and provides a very secure feeling, like a deep reassurance from a trusted friend. So keep a favorite book nearby, it helps!).
  4. Anticipating the Need. Do your best to think of yourself first and anticipate when and what kind of break you’ll be needing. While working long and hard is invigorating for me, I know that if I don’t stop myself, I’ll try to force myself through fatigue and try to scratch the absolute bottom of my mental barrel. If this sounds familiar (and if you’re an entrepreneur or have the creative impulse, it absolutely will!), try setting a time limit to your break, take it, return to work, and you’ll be happy knowing you’re working smarter.

My ultimate recommendation is: Take what you can use from this post and discard the rest. Fit it to your life and your needs.

Resisting the urge to copy and paste this entire beautifully written post from The Scientific American, I’ll just relay a few choice quotes that stuck with me:

“Downtime replenishes the brain’s stores of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and creativity, and is essential to both achieve our highest levels of performance and simply form stable memories in everyday life. A wandering mind unsticks us in time so that we can learn from the past and plan for the future. Moments of respite may even be necessary to keep one’s moral compass in working order and maintain a sense of self.”

The article also goes into detail relaying new research that supports the idea that our brain is working no less when we are in a state of rest, or downtime. That support greatly adds to the favor of intuition as an information bank which is exciting for me as I’m regularly explaining to people the scientific function and overall importance of the real human mechanism called the intuition!

“…that the human brain is in fact a glutton, constantly demanding 20 percent of all the energy the body produces and requiring only 5 to 10 percent more energy than usual when someone solves calculus problems or reads a book.”

So, give yourself permission to care for your brain, and Give your Self a break!

Earth Day 2016 | Earth Day Every Day

It’s a capitalists’ mistake not having fully incorporated nature as part of capital.

Until now, and in the worst way.

From 1970 to 2008, the earth system has lost 30 percent of its biodiversity. In tropical areas, the loss has even been as high as 60 percent. This is the result of an economic system that monetizes nature as a “thing”, objectified as this forever-flowing resource to be exploited, sold, transformed, and profited from.

So let’s take a closer look at “green economy”, which looks a little bit (I mean, a lot) like transnational corporations promoting more capitalism under the ambiguous moniker.

Back to biodiversity; We’re in a great struggle to preserve biodiversity, but how do we put a price on the free services that plants, animals, and ecosystems offer humanity? Back up a sec, what do you mean, “put a price on”?

Specific functions of ecosystems and biodiversity that can be priced and then put out into a global market are being identified as “Natural Capital”.

The following is an excerpt from a report by Ecosystem Marketplace of what motivates Green Economy advocates:

Given their enormous impact on our daily lives, it’s astounding that we don’t pay more atten¬tion, or dollars, to ecosystem services. Ecosystems provide trillions of dollars in clean water, flood protection, fertile lands, clean air, pollination, disease control – to mention just a few. These services are essential to maintaining livable conditions and are delivered by the world’s largest utilities. Far larger in value and scale than any electric, gas, or water utility could pos¬sibly dream of. And the infrastructure, or hard assets, that generate these services are simply: healthy ecosystems.

So how do we secure this enormously valuable infrastructure and its services? The same way we would electricity, potable water, or natural gas. We pay for it.

Next steps are privatizing functions and processes of nature and then labeling them “environmental services”, setting a price and putting it out on the market. The report also includes estimates of annual values of these “environmental services”.

REDD(Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation)’s purpose is to isolate one of the functions of the forest, like it’s ability to capture and store carbon, and then measure how much CO2 it can capture. Once the value of the potential carbon storage of the forest has been estimated, carbon credits are issued and sold to wealthy countries and behemoth corporations who buy/sell these credits as polluting permits in the carbon markets.

If Indonesia has a deforestation rate of 1,700,000 hectares per year  and only deforests 1,500,000 next year, it’ll be able to sell in the REDD market the carbon credits for teh amount of CO2 that’s stored by the remaining 200,000!

Corporations purchasing the credits still release CO2 into the atmosphere, as they’ve essentially bought polluting permits for the rich. (Kind of like how some religious organizations will sell “free passes” to commit wrongs under many guises and names, methinks)

Big deal: Only countries that REDUCE their deforestation will be able to put carbon credits in the REDD market. So if a place has always preserved its forest, they won’t be able to sell any carbon credits from reduction of deforestation. Results include countries that are cutting down trees with the purpose of increasing deforestation later, so that in the future the “reduction of deforestation” will be higher and they’ll be able to put more carbon credits onto the market.

That’s just the “green economy” for forests: the entire system is about monetizing nature and cheating everyone.

You can see where this will lead.

Lots of market-based solutions require monetizing nature and that just plalys into the paradigm of commercialization.

Dr. Vandana Shiva says in her book ‘Making Peace with the Earth’,

“Green economics needs to be an authentic green, it cannot be the brown of desertification and deforestation. It cannot be the red of violence against nature and people, or the unnecessary conflicts over natural resources”.

We need a new vision. We need a new economic paradigm. We need to make changes on the structural and foundational level.

The Veni Vidi Amavi Foundation considers these and more environmental concerns, and let me tell you, we are poised to make a massive difference for the planet and all geocentric life. Please join us in our commitment to planet Earth, and consider doing something in your life, big or small, that returns benefit to the nature around you.

I posted this exact post on the linked website, and guys, it sounds gloomy, I know. I know, but I’m really excited to roll up my sleeves and get in there to do my best to offset some of this damage. So, stay tuned for the great programs, initiatives, and all other sorts of kooky-creative ideas I’m cooking up to make a difference.

I hope you’ll consider joining me.

EarthDay2016

Natalee’s Notions E2: Indecision!

 

 

E2! Or should I write “Episode” 2?! Or Spell out the number “2”?! Gah!

This episode goes into the beast: Indecision. By removing judgements from your options, smartly prioritizing, and giving yourself a break, you can knock down some of your most stressful and anxiety-causing worries. Fast (relatively).

Remember, Natalee’s Notions are for your consideration; Take what you can use and leave the rest!

tschüß!!!!