The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Monday, February 28, 2011

I bought some eco-friendly fireplace logs Oscar night. And took them back immediately. I've seen baby underwear that was more flammable.

The only reason to Union-bust is if CEOs are innately more moral and honest than common workers. Why the heck would I believe that?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

"The Bodyguard" is being remade. And Eastwood is directing "A Star Is Born" with Beyonce and maybe Gerard Butler. Anyone see a pattern?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

When wondering whether you should pursue your dreams, answer the following question: "How long am I going to be dead?"

The End Is A Beginning

A friend and comrade, animation's gentle giant Dwayne McDuffie (Static Shock, Ben 10) , has passed away. We all deal with grief in our own way. I do it by committing to giving as much, loving as much, fulfilling as many of my dreams as possible. Making the world a better place than I found it. ads today. No talking about anything trivial. The core of this stuff is to live your life so that both the youngest/most passionate and optimistic and the oldest/wisest most practical parts of your personality agree with your actions and associations.

To have the little child you once were look at you and smile. And have the eldest you, watching from your deathbed, also smile. To live every day as if it is your last, but study and learn as if you will live forever.

To live your life in alignment with your deepest values, your truest Self. This requires constant digging, constant cleaning of the perceptual lens. To strive to be adult and awake. To balance fear and love within your heart. To work with joy, and daily refine your energy. To be intellectually alive, emotionally whole, and animalistically alive...our goals, values, actions and beliefs all working in alignment. To strive to be 1% more aligned and coherent every week. Just 1%. To live in awareness that life ends, and let that knowledge sweeten every day, every association, every action.

To waste no slightest drop of this precious life we've been given.

Dwayne was one of the good guys. Period. I thought I was going to be seeing him today, at a comic store signing. I was going to introduce him to my wife. Tell him again how much I admired and appreciated him. It is too late, dammit. It is too late.

Thank God I'd already said those things. But when your loved ones and friends and associates pass on, it never feels like enough.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

To change your life have:
1) Goals
2) Motivation transceding ego
3) New Tools
4) Allies
5) A commitment to getting back up when you fail

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Diamond Hour
Saturday, February 19, 2011 1:00 PM Pacific
(724) 444-7444
NLP and Changing Beliefs

Friday, February 18, 2011

All athletes surf the edge of overtraining. My personal test is the quality of sleep. I can usually drop out within 20 deep breaths.

The Diamond Hour Saturday, Feb19, 2011 1:00 PM PST
Hypnosis, NLP, Changing beliefs (724) 444-7444

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Diamond Hour
Saturday, Feb19, 2011 1:00 PM PST
Hypnosis, consciousness, NLP
(724) 444-7444

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

If you listen to your fears, you will die never knowing what a great person you might have been.
~ Robert H. Schuller

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Humans are endlessly amusing, especially when they are asleep, dreaming that they are awake.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Musashi's First Principle: Do Not Think Dishonestly. Lying to others is bad enough. But lying to yourself destroys your life.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Egypt's army was forced to choose between their boss and their families. A prime example of why you do NOT want a mercenary military.

Mubarak has stepped down. Whoa!

Practice the small, important skills until they become automatic. At that point, your skills seem to practice you.

Stress, Strain, and Goals

"Chronically high levels of cortisol can induce neuron death in the hippocampus, important in so many of the neural pathways important for human life..." a lovely bit of info from the "Understanding the Brain" course I'm studying right now. Cortisol is related to stress-strain. Preventing stress from becoming strain, therefore, is a critical skill necessary to achieve potential. For those of us who believe (or experience) that "becoming" is a powerful pathway to happiness and meaning in life, this MUST be mastered.

In other words, if you have a dream, first determine if it can be transformed into a goal. A goal has a clearly defined end point (what will it look like?), can be approached incrementally (how much will you do every week?), is something you can actually believe to be possible, (who else has accomplished something comparable?) and can be placed on a time line (when will it be accomplished?)

Tad Stones' "Time Line" approach to goals suggests that you must have your value hierarchies, beliefs, and positive/negative emotional anchors all aligned in order to move toward your goals. While this gives you fuller access to your abilities, the list of other things is finite but intimidating: role models, clear images of end point, internal permission, positive associations with success and negative associations with failure, team building, error checking, resistance to "failure", emotional endurance and perceptual flexibility are among the skills that must be garnered along the way.

From the number of things that have to be mastered (really not much more than are needed to bake from scratch) it is easy to see why frustration will be an inevitable component of the process. High levels of energy are needed in order to feel that we can begin again, and again, and again if necessary (and it WILL be necessary!)

The stress-strain equation says that stress is NOT the problem. Stress is in fact the trigger for action and change that begins the evolutionary process. It is "strain" the system must avoid. have to define your goal, admit that it would hurt to fail, and commit yourself. But you have to have systems in place to prevent the stress from kicking your butt.

However you organize this in your life, you need to have it, and you need to have it operating at the level of unconscious competence. I've found breathing to be the fastest, most powerful way of coping with this, programming in a re-integrative response by associating the fear-stress of cardio respiratory distress with that of life stress, fear, threat, etc.

In other words, your daily meditation or mindful breathing exercise, whether formal prayer, meditation, yoga, running or CST, becomes a rapid-feedback microcosm of your long-term attempts to build career, relationships, or prepare yourself to have a good death.

Who we are as human beings is expressed more clearly in our actions, our consistent, daily behaviors (and aberrations) than anything else: rumors, self-concept, hallucinations, social roles, or whatever. In order to reach any worthwhile goal, we have to dig down to the bedrock of our emotions, to the primal fear and love, and align them so that the fear, which never completely vanishes, drives us forward, and our love pulls us. So that the inevitable "failures" give us feedback without crippling negative emotion. That our inner voices are a cheering section and a circle of mentors rather than a chorus of nay-sayers playing "crabs in a basket". That our ego, which dies repeatedly as we change our actions and beliefs, can be eased into its grave rather than dragging our dreams with it.

It's a fascinating game. As complex and complicated as we choose to make it, or as simple: put your fear behind you, your love in front of you, and run like hell.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

No one can insult you without your permission.

Be a dreamer. A friend once told me I had the unnerving habit of building dream castles...and then moving into them.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Creativity is allowing oneself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. ~ Scott Adams

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

I'm thinking about climbing Kilimanjaro next year. Had planned to do it seven years ago, but substituted a nature trip to the veldt instead.

Evil begins when we assume ourselves to have greater humanity, or a richer internal experience, than others.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Brain's consumption of oxygen during REM sleep is greater than during intense physical exercise! Protect your sleep...and live your dream.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

"Music heard so deeply that it is not heard at all, but you are the music while the music lasts." T.S. Eliot

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Inner Synergy

Understanding the amydalic response to fear is helping us deal with phobias, guilt, emotional pain, prejudice, and other disorders. Due to early imprinting, people have powerful aversive response to inappropriate stimulus. The usual treatments include drugs to suppress the programming, and then therapy to allow the frontal lobes to reprogram the response.

These stress responses were designed to help us escape a tiger...not to deal with the daily hammering of bills or social stress. The Limbic system is our friend, evolutionarily. And can rip us apart in modern life.

Exercise combined with powerful emotion can have a magical effect, tapping into that circuitry. Instead of long-term grinding stress, you are faced with the momentary, immediate need to perform. You brain understands this!

Instead of a cascade of corrosive hormones, you tap into fuel and burn it in the fire of your commitment. Your brain understands this!

Instead of a chorus of disparate voices, pulling you in all directions, as you work steadily and relentlessly toward a simple attainable goal, fatigue burns away everything but the need to breath, move, take one more step. Your brain understands this!

Instead of locking your pain, disappointment, anxiety, resentment and anger into a tangle of poisonous emotions, you can deal with your body's need for oxygen, a fear that dwarfs all others. Deal with this one, and you learn the secret of dealing with all of them.

Face every day as an empty canvas, presented to your mind and heart for your deepest expression. Empty your dreams onto the blank slate. Focus on the aspects you can handle today. Do what you can, and trust that as you take steps through the fog it disperses just enough to reveal what the NEXT step must be. And the next. And the next.

Mind, body, and heart were intended to be used together. Each is dependent upon the other two. Synergy is the law of the inner world.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

We rarely move far from the values and morality they learned in childhood. Raise your children well--childhood is the root for all of life.

Emotion and Personal Growth

The Orbital Frontal Cortex of the brain is centrally involved in making moral, personal decisions. This is part of our evidence that the limbic system, and the emotions, are centrally connect to our sense of morality. What is "right" or "wrong" for us, for society, for our families. As anyone who has listened to highly politicized conversation knows, our moral and emotional filters not only color our world, but actually seem to control the flow of information to our logic centers. People will delete information contrary to their moral, emotional...(and possibly political) views of the world.

In order to not merely survive but thrive in the world, it is important that our emotions, our intellect, and our physical beings all move "in the same direction" much as the light-waves in a laser beam must coordinate in order to punch through a diamond.

"Self defeating" behavior is legendary. Trying to lose weight when you have a deep belief that being sexual is sinful or dangerous is futile. Trying to advance your financial career when you believe money is evil or corrupting or destructive is incredibly frustrating. Trying to maintain a personal relationship while dealing with deep feelings of inadequacy or unworthiness is a study in sabotage.

You can learn to control your emotions by controlling the images and sensations your mind uses to create them. This is one of the valuable things about meditation: when you get quiet enough, the images and sensations that make up the pre-verbal thought matrix will present themselves. By noting the sequence with which your old memories arise, you can begin to sense the way that your mind organizes reality to create your emotional states. Your emotions control your mental correlation and absorption of data. And these two in combination control your physical actions.

Emotion is most primary, but few people have direct access to them. The physical doorway is brilliantly effective, because you are already taking action--"stacking" emotional images and psychological attitudes while in exercise-induced high energy states has been used to program human beings for uncounted centuries. You can use it yourself, remembering that most (if not all--I personally have never run across one that does not) religions will modify the breathing at some point in their training, often playing around with the edge of oxygen debt so that you learn how to suppress panic. Learn to enter physical flow and you learn how to tip-toe past fears and internal voices.

But it is also possible to learn to increase this body-mind-emotion alignment by setting goals that challenge and stretch you. Scare you a little. Start with little ones, incremental goals that you can accomplish in a day or a week--rapid feedback is vital.

When you keep a goal, it is a promise to yourself. Celebrate. If you don't keep it, then chalk the result up to research. You have just experienced your sabotage mechanism. How did it work? How did it use your emotions against you? How did it use your environment to confuse you?

It is critical to judge without being attached to what you see here. To take a surgeon's detachment. There was something your mind wanted, your body had to do, and your emotions had to support.

If you can learn a little something new about your mind, emotions and physicality every day of your life, before long you'll be operating at a level of integration that baffles most people. There is nothing really extraordinary about it. It is the natural, healthy way of functioning. Our old programming, flawed self concepts and emotional baggage make it seem otherwise.