The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

New Blog post: healing emotions #5:
resources and allies

Healing Wounded Emotions #5: Allies and Resources

First, a recap of the first four steps:

1) Acknowledging that there is healing to be done.

2) Dealing with the fear and pain of that acknowledgement

3) Accepting responsibility for change

4) Creating a daily ritual of action

One important thing to do in accomplishing any goal is to grasp that, if you aren’t doing something, you may not currently have the resources to do it. We resist this, believing that we can accomplish anything if we just try harder. Or conversely, we fear that if we admit that we aren’t currently accomplishing something, it means that it is beyond our ability completely. There is a middle path—which is simply to take the position that we have the innate capacity to do something, but must gather new skills or allies to fulfill our potential.

Take a hard look at the skills and resources you currently possess. Then, by modeling the behaviors and lives of people who have accomplished what you are trying to do, determine what is necessary to reach your dreams. Subtract what you currently have from what you require, and what remains are the skills, attitudes, resources and allies you must gain in order to hit the mark.

In terms of healing your emotions, this might include (but is not limited to:

1) Support groups

2) Meditation techniques

3) Journaling or dream-journaling

4) Therapy

5) Joyful activities

6) New attitudes

7) New beliefs and means of implanting them (hypnosis, NLP, etc.)

8) Spiritual community.

9) New friends and associates

10) New mentors and teachers

It can be especially painful to admit that current associates and relationships can be negative or damaging. We sometimes feel that if we walk away from what we have, or demand respect and support from our intimates, that we will be alone. But if we are not willing to stand up for ourselves…no one else will.

Remember Step #3? Accepting responsibility for our healing? Well, I’m deadly serious about that. You have to DEMAND support and respect, or have the self-love necessary to go and find the resources you need.

If you don’t have resources outside yourself, then you have to find them within. Journaling and Heartbeat Meditation require no outside help, and can, over time, accomplish miracles. Start with deep, unquestioning love for self…and if you can’t manage that, start with the COMMITMENT to develop a deep and unquestioning love for yourself. It is critical to your survival as a spirit, and as a human being.

Settle for nothing less.


If you have no healthy community, and lack resources, PLEASE feel free to join the free 101 DISCUSSION BOARD:

Steven Barnes


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Blog Post: healing emotions #4
Video: healing emotion #1
no fear!

Healing Emotions #4: The Daily Ritual

Healing Emotions #4

Take Constant Action: the Daily Ritual

Damaged emotions, especially lost love, guilt and shame, can lead one into a spiral of depression, ending in literally curling into a foetal ball under the covers and wanting the world to go away.

Once this pattern has begun to assert itself, it can be absolute hell trying to break it. You don't have the energy, will, self-love, or resources. The answer is to

1) Have a technique that will break the spiral once it has begun.

2) Have a ritual you perform EVERY SINGLE DAY, rain or shine. This should be such a small investment of time and energy that if you don't do it, you KNOW that you are letting yourself down.

The "Five Minute Miracle" fits this bill perfectly. Learn it at:

It is

1) Quick

2) Effective

3) "Load"-able (in other words, you can deepen the practice by learning breathing techniques from other disciplines, or increasing intensity by extracting lessons from running, weight training, yoga, martial arts, etc. You can practice Heartbeat Meditation as you breathe. Visualize your goals and intentions. Visualize white light. The possibilities are endless)

4) Customizable. In the case of damaged emotions, I suggest that FIVE times during every day, during your "5MM" sets, you look in the mirror (or imagine yourself speaking to your "inner child") and say "I love myself." If you have any issues with self-love, you will hear voices saying crap like: "this is stupid" "it is wrong to love yourself" "who are you kidding" and so forth. Ask yourself this critical question: WHOSE VOICES ARE THOSE? Write the answers in your journal.

5) Requires no outside assistance or cooperation.


Remember that by the time you NOTICE you are depressed, you are in the "Abyss" and it can be too late to voluntarily stop the cascade of emotional, psychological and physiological just have to ride it out. But if you re-train your breathing, it is possible to create a Pavlovian stimulus-response loop between negative input and positive, generative response.


This five minutes can be the most important time in your entire day. You can spend more time, of course: add meditation, exercise, joint mobility, Five Tibetans, journaling, hugs, whatever else you want, until you have expanded upwards to a "Diamond Hour" of daily work.

The trick is that you do at least five minutes DAILY. No one lacks five minutes to save their own lives. If you can't carve out that time, you have effectively defined a major problem in your life. Make a commitment: after you spiral back up out of the depression (you probably will), find the resources and allies necessary to help you through the NEXT time you are depressed. You'll be there again.

But if you follow these suggestions, and treat yourself gently...the next time, you'll rise as fast as you fell.


Monday, November 28, 2011

"The questions we ask determine the quality of the answers we get."--Charles Johnson

New video: the "Mind Reading" process. Never buy b.s. again. Bullet-proof yourself from con artists and liars.

Winning all the marbles.
New Blog Post

All The Marbles

The following was posted on the 101 Board this morning, by LaVeda, who is an angel. I wish I'd had this to send to you for just consider this my way of thanking all of you for being a part of my life. (And join the 101 Board to ask any questions about body, career, or relationships!


I was at the corner grocery store buying some early potatoes... I noticed a small boy, delicate of bone and feature, ragged but clean, hungrily apprising a basket of freshly picked green peas.

I paid for my potatoes but was also drawn to the display of fresh green peas. I am a pushover for creamed peas and new potatoes.

Pondering the peas, I couldn't help overhearing the conversation between Mr. Miller (the store owner) and the ragged boy next to me.

'Hello Barry, how are you today?'

'H'lo, Mr. Miller. Fine, thank ya. Jus' admirin' them peas. They sure look good'

'They are good, Barry. How's your Ma?'
'Fine. Gittin' stronger alla' time.'
'Good. Anything I can help you with?'
'No, Sir. Jus' admirin' them peas.'
'Would you like to take some home?' asked Mr. Miller.

'No, Sir. Got nuthin' to pay for 'em with.'

'Well, what have you to trade me for some of those peas?'

'All I got's my prize marble here.'

'Is that right? Let me see it', said Miller.

'Here 'tis. She's a dandy.'

'I can see that. Hmm mmm, only thing is this one is blue and I sort of go for red. Do you have a red one like this at home?' the store owner asked.

'Not zackley but almost.'

'Tell you what. Take this sack of peas home with you and next trip this way let me look at that red marble'. Mr. Miller told the boy.

'Sure will. Thanks Mr. Miller.'

Mrs. Miller, who had been standing nearby, came over to help me.

With a smile she said, 'There are two other boys like him in our community, all three are in very poor circumstances. Jim just loves to bargain with them for peas, apples, tomatoes, or whatever.

When they come back with their red marbles, and they always do, he decides he doesn't like red after all and he sends them home with a bag of produce for a green marble or an orange one, when they come on their next trip to the store.'

I left the store smiling to myself, impressed with this man. A short time later I moved to Colorado , but I never forgot the story of this man, the boys, and their bartering for marbles.

Several years went by, each more rapid than the previous one. Just recently I had occasion to visit some old friends in that Idaho community and while I was there learned that Mr. Miller had died. They were having his visitation that evening and knowing my friends wanted to go, I agreed to accompany them. Upon arrival at the mortuary we fell into line to meet the relatives of the deceased and to offer whatever words of comfort we could.

Ahead of us in line were three young men. One was in an army uniform and the other two wore nice haircuts, dark suits and white shirts...all very professional looking. They approached Mrs. Miller, standing composed and smiling by her husband's casket.

Each of the young men hugged her, kissed her on the cheek, spoke briefly with her and moved on to the casket. Her misty light blue eyes followed them as, one by one; each young man stopped briefly and placed his own warm hand over the cold pale hand in the casket. Each left the mortuary awkwardly, wiping his eyes.

Our turn came to meet Mrs. Miller. I told her who I was and reminded her of the story from those many years ago and what she had told me about her husband's bartering for marbles. With her eyes glistening, she took my hand and led me to the casket.

'Those three young men who just left were the boys I told you about.

They just told me how they appreciated the things Jim 'traded' them. Now, at last, when Jim could not change his mind about color or size....they came to pay their debt.'

'We've never had a great deal of the wealth of this world,' she confided, 'but right now, Jim would consider himself the richest man in Idaho ...'

With loving gentleness she lifted the lifeless fingers of her deceased husband. Resting underneath were three exquisitely shined red marbles.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

You and The Walking Dead
New Blog Post! This one's a no-brainer...

This morning, the dead rose...

As they do every morning

As I sat in meditation, all of the corpses of past dreams, beloveds, concepts and shattered goals rose up, shuffling toward me with their rotted fingers reaching for my flesh...

I concentrated, finding the light within, blasting them as they twitched and moaned and begged me to join them in their death-march, but again, I chose life.

Always, life. Every morning they seek my flesh, and the flesh of my loved ones, my current dreams. They have no pity, no soul, no mercy. They never stop, ever. They whisper lullabyes from their rotted lips, soothing me to sleep. Shhh...don't worry. Don't strive. Don't seek the light. Don't re-commit to your deepest values.

Stop seeking the dreams you held in childhood. Give up. Death is inevitable. Why try...?

Because I live another day. Because I have sworn to make this a better world for my children, and my children's generation. Because it is my nature to be a warrior, and I do not know how to lay down and die.

They come at me in endless waves, but so long as I remember that this day, this moment in time, is all I have to live and love and remember the gifts I have been given...I see the light. And in the full force of that light, all those fears and shadows and fallen yesterdays are revealed as the mouldering ghosts they are.


Yeah, this, if you know what I mean.

It was a damned good morning. Heck...every day above ground is a good day.


I tried to keep those old prices down. I really did. Shot them in the head and heart, but all I could do is put them down for about 72 hours. Tomorrow morning I'll wake up at 6:30 est, stumble to my computer and I'll have to let them loose once again. So go to my store NOW and claim your prize...this one is a (cough) No-Brainer!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

New Blog Post: the door to Awakened Adulthood

The Thanksgiving "Black and White" sale on writing and self-help courses (including "Mastering FEAR" ends tomorrow

Black And White Sale

Just through Sunday Night, 50% off almost everything in my store:

The 101 Program...formerly

49.95, now only 29.00!

The Ultimate Lifewriting Bundle

(Lifewriting Year Long plus "Focus and Flow"

...formerly 169.95, now only 99.00!)

Tananarive Due's "Secrets of a

Writer's Life"...formerly 29.95

only 19.00!

The bestselling "Warrior Sleep"

program...formerly 19.95...

now only 9.00!

The bestselling Lifewriting

Year Long program...formerly only 89.95!

Hero's Journey program...

formerly only 69.95!

Mastering F.E.A.R....formerly only 29.95!

Right now! Either click the

link below, or cut and paste

it into your browser. Do

yourself a HUGE favor, or

stock up for Xmas presents.

Don't miss it!

Door to your future

I spent an hour this morning meditating, trying to dig down to some older "circuits" of my personality. My family needs me to expand my definition of myself, and it is hella hard to change patterns that have been generative, and healthy, and productive for decades.

The kid inside me wants martial arts, family, and writing. And when I look back over my life, despite a sometimes bumpy road, those three things have been constant, and I've exceeded my original specifications for success many times. Good going, kid.

But now I have to change that, to provide not just physical security, but to be certain that I am remaining true to my dreams, my ultimate values, AND the demands of the current situation. And this is where it gets funky.

Tried to lose weight when you attach your core identity or survival needs to the flesh cushion? Ever wonder why you can't stay on a "diet" or exercise program? Hah.

Tried to improve a relationship, or find one, when everything in your heart says it will lead to pain, it is too late, there are no good men/women, or that you have nothing to offer? Watch yourself sabotaging efforts and rejecting "nice" people while being attracted to bastards and bitches? Hah.

Tried to master your finances when everything in your heart tells you money is evil, that you mustn't exceed your father's success, that money makes you a target, or that it "takes money to make money"? Watch yourself neglecting to balance your checkbook, knock on doors, make calls, find yourself hallucinating that buying a lottery ticket is an "investment"? Hah.

We're such silly creatures. But these are not "flaws." They are evidence of survival wiring, and as such you need to go deep. DEEP inside, find the fears, and de-inhibit them slowly and carefully, like defusing a bomb or charming a nest of snakes.

I compare it to overhauling your car while driving on the freeway. Without stopping.

There is nothing easy about this. There has never been an owner's manual. I believe the secrets related to how to be healthy in mind, body, and spirit were specific to our original tribal lives, but recreating them for a more dynamic world is driving us crazy.

I also believe that the answers are there--but you must be careful in winding together the disparate strands, which can be found in pieces from cultures around the world. The secret is that you must center your learning EITHER around healing your heart OR strengthing your body. Either is generative, and will lead to growth in other levels. If you try to sort through this stuff head-first you risk falling into a pit of ego-vipers.

Heart: heal your emotions, strengthen your spirit, form a healthy romantic/sexual relationship with a mature human being and build a life together.

Body: Master your body (any discipline will do), then learn to take that energy into expressing healthy sexuality, building a career, and finding a healthy relationship.

Either approach will do. Find the rules in the culture, religion, philosophies that appeal to you. Seek the answers that "cluster" around these two points, and make them yours. Discard anything that doesn't speak to these--trust me, if they are valid, you will re-discover them as you grow.

Trust your own experience. When it is in alignment with modern theory and ancient wisdom, you've found your way. When your way is in alignment with your childhood dreams and your deathbed values...

You have found the door to Awakened Adulthood.

Open the door. The friends you'll make on the other side are remarkable spirits indeed.

Friday, November 25, 2011

New video: finding your soulmate
#love, passion, and friendship...all start with
honesty and self-discovery

Catch a "Brick" on Black Friday!

Catch a "Brick" on Black Friday!

"A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him." -- David Brinkley

Everything that I teach arises from one basic concept:

What happens if you write, or live, as if the interaction of the Hero's Journey and the Yogic Chakras define what it is to be a human being?

Everything else is either a tool placed in proper sequence, a map of the territory discovered, or a comment or observation by a fellow-traveler on the road. Everything. And its getting more exciting as you dialog with me, and let me know what you want, and need, and how you've used the technologies and perspectives we're sharing at Diamond Hour (and yes, the entire Diamond Hour concept is "merely" a way to cut away excuses--you can actually create a new, better life in all three arenas in only an hour a day! And yes, I routinely coach writers to that critical "2-4 stories a month" threshold even if they only have 60 minutes a day!)

Immediately, this means

1) The Chakras suggest examining your life on seven different levels (survival, sex, power, emotion, communication, intellect, and spirit). A minimum configuration would be body, career, and relationships.

2) The "Hero's Journey" suggests a syntax of action and resource organization. An issue presents itself at one "energetic level", and the resolution thereof frees you to move to the next level.

Combining these two should give you a hint, just a glimpse, of an entire life-time of work, clearing, growing, learning, loving, changing, evolving from the bottom to the top of Maslow's Hierarchy. In truth, we jump around and also play these levels simultaneously. But this model can help un-tangle the threads.

I absolutely love the makes sense of everything I've ever learned or observed.

But's only a model. Life itself is far more complex and wonderful than any words could ever be.



(p.s.--everything in my Diamond Hour store is on sale for the next day or so. Enjoy!

writers, stress-busters and self-improvement folks--everything at the Diamond Hour store is 50% off on Black Friday!

"A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him." -- David Brinkley

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Don't be the Turkey at your own Thanksgiving!

Hey! Thanksgiving is almost here

with Christmas and New Years right around

the corner. The most wonderful time

of the year, but also, for many of us, killer

stress. Let me be painfully honest: about

27 years ago, my mother died, right exactly

between these holidays. Every year is a

struggle between joy and pain. It is critical

for me to support my family in experiencing

the greatest happiness it is possible to

provide--those childhood memories must last

a lifetime.

So I have to deal with the negative

emotions in the healthiest way I can,

and never let them intrude on the

celebration. I wanted to offer to all of

you one of the most powerful tools I

know, and created the following video

to teach the basics:

This technique, taking only five minutes

a day, can help you wrestle that

stress to the ground.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!


Master stress, anger, grief, guilt in only five minutes a day!
new "Five Minute Miracle" video:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Video review of Eastwood's "J. Edgar."

New Youtube video: Attention slobs! Clean your house in five minutes!

Clean your entire house in five minutes?

Clean your whole house in five minutes?

Well, no. But...and this is important...if you choose ONE major area of your house, say, your dining room table, and keep THAT totally, spotlessly clean, neat, and cleared...

You'll be amazed. You'll begin to keep the area AROUND the table clear as well. You'll start putting things away automatically, to keep that table clear, and it will propagate. You'll consider having just ONE clean area in every room of your house.

And before you know it, your whole house will be cleaner, almost automatically. Because you cleaned one area.

That's called a "generative" change, a "difference that makes the difference." What we try to do in the Diamond Hour is seek "trigger points", small changes that can make big differences. Say...balancing your life between body, mind, relationships, and finances. That single change, admitting that you want abundant health and energy, loving passionate relationships, a sharp focused mind and the ability to consider money a tool rather than an obstacle. Just admitting you want them, then progressing toward them, will teach you everything you need to know...but you have to tell the truth.

Telling the truth in one area of your life begins to change everything. Just like cleaning one surface in your house can make a stupendous difference in overall neatness.


Monday, November 21, 2011

New movie review: "J. Edgar" on Dar Kush blog:

J. Edgar (2011)

The new Clint Eastwood-directed, Leonardo DiCaprio-starring biopic of the late creator and director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is a "close but no cigar" proposition. It wants to be great, it flirts with greatness, but ultimately Eastwood's respect for his subject subvert growing thematic thread, and steals critical emotional juice from the film.

On the one level, "J. Edgar" is the respectful story of a man obsessed with protecting his country and his legacy, building a modern crime-fighting instrument at a time when the Tommy gun was the ultimate tool of both law-breaking and law-enforcement. He served through eight administrations and was clearly a brilliant and brittle man, canny at self-promotion, who shaped our country's attitudes about Communism, crime, civil rights, and more. Perfectly capable of bending or breaking laws to fulfill his chosen purpose, whether he was a "good" or "bad" man depends partially on one's own political persuasion, and view of human nature.

(slight spoilers ahead)

On the other hand, the film is virtually a gay love story between Hoover and Clyde Tolson, employee and companion for decades, and, so suggests the filmmakers, a relationship never quite consummated: Tolson would have been all for it, Hoover was too inhibited to quite set himself free to follow his heart.

There are two directions this could have gone in: either fully allowing Hoover his sexual expression, or specifically investigating the conflict of a man supporting a social value structure that denied him his own humanity. Either would have been fascinating, but probably still too dangerous, thirty years after his death. Says something about the man's power.

The fabled Hoover Files, filled with blackmail material on the high and mighty, could easily be seen as preemptive protection against being outed, and ousted, for his sexual proclivities. There's a thread that could have been strengthened. And his obsession with Martin Luther King's sex life would have been more deeply investigated, as jealousy for a man who would not be blackmailed (Hoover is presented as threatening MLK with exposure if he accepts the Nobel Peace Prize) away from his chosen path. There's a thread. Could have been powerful as hell, and they flirt with it but don't really pull it.

But no matter which way they went, clearly this aspect of the man was of critical importance to understanding him. Whether gay, straight or asexual, there is no way this aspect was of "null" impact on his world view and behavior. Personally, I think there is no reason not to assume he was gay, and that all protests against the idea are simply relics of a time such behavior was considered derogatory. But if it has no more "good" or "evil", "right" or "wrong" connotation than whether you like tacos or hot dogs (so to speak) then it becomes torturous to construct a personality void of sexual expression. In my opinion.

But in that case, there is a major omission. At one point, they imply strongly that Hoover had been dating, and having an affair with, actress Dorothy Lamour (the "Road" movies). And all they do is TALK about that. Excuse me? No matter how you slice that one, that's something we should have seen, not heard about. It's flat absurd not to show us his interaction, even if they left certain details artfully or discreetly vague.

Strange. This creation of a thematic thread (denial of identity leading to psychological or social dysfunction and obsessive-compulsive behavior) could be viewed as a "Hero's Journey" model:

1) Hero Confronted With Challenge: to be a great man, protect his country, and restore his family name.

2) Rejection of challenge. He knows that his sexual leanings would destroy him, if known.

3) Acceptance of challenge. To serve his country and forever repress his sexual proclivities.

4) Road of Trials. Establishing his agency, fighting crime, integrating new scientific methods, trying to navigate a social life that allows him to maintain a public face while simultaneously satisfying his emotional needs.

5) Allies and powers. Fierce intelligence, drive, and commitment to his country. Tolson, his secretary Helen Gandy (Naomi Watts), partner/assistant Clyde Tolson, agents, scientists, politicians, etc.

6) Confront Evil-defeated. The suggestion is that he was challenged to fully integrate his public and private lives, and this eluded him.

7) Dark Night of the Soul. The sense that he would never be a great man, because he could not accept him self, and demand that others accept him for his actual truth.

8) Leap of Faith. He was unable to take it.

9) Confront Evil--defeated. Unable to help his nation to a higher level of "integration" and acceptance of 'the other'--heaping civil rights (including sexual rights) in the same heap as crime and Communism.

10) Student Becomes The Teacher--true greatness eludes him. Whereas, MLK is considered "great" despite what (Hoover saw as) gigantic character flaws--but a personality far better integrated, and therefore capable of generative social change.


Despite my sense that greatness eludes this film, as perhaps it did its subject, this is more than an honest effort. It is a great filmmaker attempting to grapple with a great subject. It might have been better to wait another decade before attempting it: we are not yet free enough of our sexual provencialism to really look at this Gordian knot with clarity, or it would have taken a man younger or less Conservative than Eastwood to view the world without roots in a specific way of thinking and being--Eastwood was far too comfortable with snarky gay jokes in his early movies, and despite his admirable current philosophical stance on the subject, there is no way I can believe there isn't emotional "heat" there. Human beings have limited flexibility.

But he is a master, worthy of deep respect, and if "J. Edgar" fails it is partially our failure. There is simply no way to present this story without offending someone. Di Caprio delivers an Oscar-level performance, while Eastwood walks a tightrope between perceptions, social conventions and artistic obligation.

A high-wire act, indeed. Give it a "B." But it could have been so much more.

Or less.

Friday, November 18, 2011

"Star Wars" and the Hero's Journey. New video, teaching Lifewriting core principles.

New videos: "Ten steps to healing emotions"

Healing Emotions part B

Healing the Wounded Heart part A

Healing the Wounded Heart

I've received so much positive feedback

for this series that I've decided to speed

up the pace at which I can relate it to

my students:

So here you have TWO VIDEOS I've created

for you. Watch them today, and begin your

healing tomorrow.

Writers: this is your cue to damage your characters,

and then begin the process of healing them!

(Part One)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sat, Nov 19 1 PM Pac (4:00 PM East)
Diamond Hour--Spiritual Intelligence
Cindy Wigglesworth
(724) 444-7444

New Diamondhour Youtube video

Healing Emotions #3: Taking Responsibility for your own happiness

Healing Emotions #3: Taking Responsibility for your own happiness

One of the easiest ways for someone to control you is to hold you responsible for their happiness. Conversely, believing that other people, or for that matter any things outside your own mind, are "causing" your happiness is missing the relationship between mind and emotion.

Grasping that you have responsibility in any past negative relationships can be a healing, empowering thing--so long as you aren't paralyzed by guilt. And grasping that you, more than any other person, are responsible for making yourself happy, is liberating.

Yes, there are people who will attempt to tell you you are selfish if you seek to reference your actions to your own values and pleasure. It might be useful to ask yourself how often they neglect their own. In general, people who insist you put their wishes first have gotten in line before you to worship at their own image. It is a con game: "I take care of me, and you take care

"Run" for your life: a master speaks...

This last weekend I was in Oregon for the 2011 Orycon SF convention, one of my favorites of the year. And while there, it was my pleasure and honor to share a panel with the great William F. Nolan, co-author of "Logan's Run" and more books and television scripts than I can count. It was the second time I'd met him--the first was when he was a guest on "Hour 25," my radio show in Los Angeles.

As before, he was filled with valuable insights as to the craft and business of writing. One of the best had to do with the craft of adaptation, that is, converting a novel to a movie. He told the story of shepherding Peter Straub's novel "Floating Dragon" to the screen after multiple other writers had given up, considering the story (involving supernatural entities, vast clouds of poison gas, and more) beyond simplification.

Nolan's approach is to read the novel, and then extract the essential scenes, setting all others aside. In the case of "Floating Dragon" that meant actually setting aside the titular cloud of vapor, and adjusting a secondary supernatural phenomenon so that the title of the piece still applied.

This is clearly more "art" than "science," and it is difficult to guess whether fans of the original book might have taken offense. But this is the business. Few books make it to the screen unchanged, and all you can do is try to tease out the very best story...make the very best film...imaginable.


The key to success in any arena is to have a simple, replicable pattern of action from day to day, one you can slowly and surely modify as you learn more about yourself, your craft, and your business. The LIFEWRITING YEAR LONG course is the only writing method that connects the inner world of the writing with your life and career. YOUR next career leap is in your hands. Order your copy today!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Healing Your Heart: Step #2--Acknowledging fear

Healing the Wounded Heart #2--acknowledge your fear

I've been in the NW for the last week, seeing friends, doing business and recharging. Back home now, and back at work. A reader sent me the following note:

Hello Steven,

I’ve been receiving your diamondhour emails for some years now.

I read them and meditate on them, but never took any action, hence I never felt the desire to take action all these years until today, (fear, laziness, lack of motivation are my excuses) I would always dream about taking action, but never made a move.

I purchased (F.E.A.R) and I must say at first I wasn’t sure if I had learned anything, until a year ago I had to make a decision to stand up for myself at work, or continue to be harassed.

I was able to use what I learned from (F.E.A.R) and get through a very trying time, and at the end I had the courage to stand up and speak out make wrong right and at the end I had the courage to also leave a job that did not bring me any satisfaction.


I started a new job back in March of this year, a job that I thought I would like and maybe grow to love. I now realize I was playing it safe, by taking this job, not ready to put in the work to become a writer, what I have always desired to be since my pre-teens. I’m turning 33 in 7 days and my gift to myself is to start taking my baby steps.

I have a question for you:

Why do you send these wonderful motivating emails out, why do you give these life lessons to the public (complete strangers) Is it your way of giving back?

I appreciate all that you do, because somehow your words in your weekly emails and online information are seeds that have been planted inside of me, and I feel the growth taking place now.

I pray that you continue to be a Divine vessel and many blessings to you and your family.

With Love, Light, and Peace

(Name Withheld)

Thank you so much, J. I share because I must. It is simply a part of the deal--the universe gives to me, I have to pass it on. I see so much pain in the world connected to fear and lack of clarity. It would be like seeing a burning building, with people trapped within, thrashing about unable to find the exits. It would be almost impossible not to say: "here's the door."


One of the things I've noticed over the last years is that until people are prepared to actually deal with their issues, they will complain about them, but never actually look at the underpinnings, tell the truth about what is happening to them, or admit fear. The standard tactic is to blame others (or genetics, or environment), seek to distract questioners with borderline illogic, create arguments to distract questioners with guilt ("how can you say that! That's offensive") instead of looking at WHY a string of words triggered an anger response. And so forth. And the sad thing is that, hours, days, or years later, these people admit that they were using those techniques to distract, protect, deflect, or slow down the process of change.

In dealing with wounded people, it is very common for them to use the following tactics:

1) saying they don't want a relationship.

2)only being attracted to people who are unavailable (due to other commitments, geography, emotional problems)

3) setting impossible preconditions to relationships

4) drain off all their "relationship" energy into caretaking and "fixing" others, rather than dealing with their own "stuff."

The most honest approach would be to say "I'm not ready to have a relationship yet. I have work to do." But this is as rare as someone saying "I'm not ready to lose the weight yet" or "I'm not ready to heal my finances yet." The far more common reaction is to try to convince allies, friends and families that they are fine, doing all they can, are in control.

Eventually, the consequent string of failures will either cause enough pain to wake them up, or drive them into bitterness and denial: happiness, health, or success are impossible. Or: they believe they are simply broken.

Both are terribly sad, and a waste of life.

What stops them from clarity is usually fear. Fear of admitting they are the problem. Or that they don't know what they really want. Or that if they admitted what they really want, they would have to deal with the disappointment of never having it. Or fear that their allies would desert them if they didn't "think" that every effort was being made. This is very common among people who are "trying" to lose weight, while actually needing to keep it on. They will EITHER exercise, or "diet"...but never control input AND output at the same time, because that would actually cause weight loss and dissolve the armor.

Fear. If the first step is to acknowledge that the heart needs healing, the second step is to be honest about the fear that causes distortion and deflection. You don't need to have the ANSWER, but you must clearly state the situation, and also the question. Leading to the formulation:

1) I am dealing with massive fear in this arena.

2) I don't know how to deal with that fear.

Just the clarity, and the commitment to tell the truth and not take side-trips through delusion, are necessary steps to actually defining the problem clearly and determining the appropriate resources necessary to accomplish the goal. Remember that your ego thinks it is you--it will not help you in this process.

Remember the "Cradle to the Grave" time-line: connect with your childhood goals. Connect with your deathbed values. Conduct yourself on a daily basis so that both your "child" and "elder" personalities are happy with what you are doing on a daily basis.

Accept no substitutes.


Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Ten Steps To Healing Your Heart: Step #1

We had a fabulous "Diamond Hour" show on Saturday. Lots of great energy and synergy. According to comments, the highlight was my listing of "Ten Steps to healing your heart."

Now, understand--I'm not just talking about "heartbreak" in the romantic sense, although everything I said certainly applies. I'm talking about any arena where too much fear, or too little love, has crippled your ability to express yourself fully. Where have you let either stop you? Your career? Social connections? Fitness and health? Creative output?

Doesn't matter. These ten steps, culled from a lifetime of study and organized along the steps of the Hero's Journey (of course) will work either with a specific issue, or a generative need. In other words, if you follow the steps, you will receive benefits far beyond the issues you may be consciously aware of. good stuff.

1) STEP ONE: Acknowledge that you NEED healing. No human being makes it through life unscathed. We all carry war-wounds, scars, disappointments, pain, fear, grief, resentment, and anger. Life kicks the living #$%% out of you, if you can't keep your balance and protect your open heart. Tell the truth.

If Musashi's first step is "Do Not Think Dishonestly," that means the ability to admit that there IS an issue is the single most important, critical step. Without it, you will not take action. Let yourself feel the pain of betrayal, disappointment, failure, breaking your word to yourself, losing love...all of these things can be used to motivate. How? Gain clarity on what your perfect life would be, had you not carried these wounds. What would your perfect career be? Financial picture? Relationship? Body? Self-image? If you weren't carrying those wounds, what would be true about you that is not true today?

The greater your clarity, the easier it will be to do the following: put your fear behind you, your love in front of you, and run like hell.

But the first step is to acknowledge there is work to do.

Get busy!

Monday, November 07, 2011

Tower Heist (2011)

What if disgruntled Bernie Madoff victims decided to rip him off? That's the basic set-up of this low-rent "Ocean's Eleven" caper film starring Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy. The employees at an ultra-swank NY condo building invest their retirement and life savings with a sleazy stock manipulator (Alan Alda) and when he is revealed as a thief, are totally devastated. When the general manager (Stiller) learns that Alda may have salted away twenty million in cash in his apartment, the idea of ripping him off is pretty automatic.

He recruits a rag-tag group of former employees and residents (including Matthew Broderick and Gabourey Sidibe), but needs the help of an old friend (Eddie Murphy as a career criminal. Very good, but underused) to pull it all together. The climax, taking place during the Macy's Thanksgiving parade, involves various (very) hi-jinks and is pretty tense and funny, if not classic.

And here's the problem. It could have been. They actually had a set-up that could have gone all the way to classic, but despite six featured writers, is undercooked. The relationship between Stiller and Murphy wasn't really explored or arced, the relationship of race and class in America could have been a deeper subtext (as, for instance, it was in "Trading Places") and Murphy's arc is curiously flat, to the point that we aren't even certain what happened to him at the end.

That said, it is clever, and fun, a perfectly good way to spend a couple of hours. The performers are strong across the board, and the revenge scenario is lip-smacking good. With nods to classic capers like "The Thomas Crown Affair" and "Goldfinger," "Tower Heist" is good enough...but should have been much, much better. A "B-"


CONFRONTED WITH CHALLENGE: Building manager Ben Stiller must deal with the reality that his hero is a crook.

REJECT CHALLENGE: If it is true, he has flushed his friends' savings down the toilet. Massive guilt.

ACCEPT CHALLENGE: Let's rob the thief.

ROAD OF TRIALS: Every action taken to plan and execute the robbery (can't be more specific without ruining the movie!)

ALLIES AND POWERS: Employees, resident, and old friends who have various needed skills and motivations. Courage, intelligence, knowledge of the building and residents all come to bear.

CONFRONT EVIL-DEFEATED: A major reversal toward the end of the film makes all seem lost.

DARK NIGHT: Betrayal, confusion, and failing plans seem to doom them.

LEAP OF FAITH: The ability to switch plans at a moment's notice leads to a hair-raising climax

CONFRONT EVIL-VICTORIOUS: A final conversation with Alda is delicious.

STUDENT BECOMES THE TEACHER: No real lessons...but a perfectly reasonable measure of audience satisfaction.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Joint mobility is the single best health practice. Learn in an hour, practice for five minutes, extend life by years:

Diamond Hour Show!
Healing your Heart
Sat. Nov 5 1:00 PM Pacific (4:00 PM Eastern)
(724) 444-7444

New blog post: review of "Oliver" (1968)

"Oliver" (1968)

One of the finest musicals ever created, "Oliver" is a slightly lighter version of Dickens' classic "Oliver Twist" with some of the more abusive and horrific aspects toned down, the anti-Semitism considerably curtailed, and a sprinkling of drop-dead brilliant performances (Ron Moody and Fagin, Shani Wallace as Nancy, Jack Wild as Artful Dodger) and one heart-breaking and soleful (and unfortunately once-in-a-lifetime) performance from Mark Lester as the titular orphan, Oliver.

The original novel was subtitled "The Orphan's Progress" and that title is accurate. It is the tale of Oliver, born to an unmarried mother in a poor house in London in the 1800's. He is shuttled from one terrible situation to another until running away to "make his fortune" in London. There, he meets the marvelously amoral young pickpocket Artful Dodger, who introduces him to Fagin, the elderly mentor to a bunch of thieving street urchins, also meeting the monstrous Bill Sykes (Oliver Reed) and his wounded, pathologically optimistic, doomed girlfriend Nancy.

We all know the story that follows, but by making Fagin more empathetic (he has genuine avuncular affection for Artful Dodger, and is no longer the "loathesome Jew" of the novel. Brrrr. Interestingly, several musical cues are reminiscent of "Fiddler on the Roof" such that his ethnicity is clear, but Moody imbues Fagin with a humanity wholly missing from the novel, and his story arc is just marvelous). The art design is magnificent, evoking London from the high to the low, letting us smell the stinking streets while still somehow able to agree with Nancy that it's "A Fine, Fine Life." A small miracle.

Hero's Journey time:

HERO CONFRONTED WITH CHALLENGE: Orphan Oliver must find some way to a decent, moral life.

REJECTS CHALLENGE: There seems no hope for such a happy outcome. There is no clear route to anything but degradation, crime, and eventually prison and decay.

ACCEPTS CHALLENGE: His basic decency and optimism shines forth no matter what the circumstances. His is a pure soul in a warped world.

ROAD OF TRIALS: from Workhouse to London alleys (literally walking a long and painful "road" along the way), learning to be a thief, being caught, tried, adopted into a good home, being kidnapped, forced to steal...oh, I could just go on and on.

ALLIES AND POWERS: Artful Dodger (regardless of introducing Oliver to crime, it is arguable that Oliver might have died or worse had they not met), Nancy, and then various Magistrates, beadles, relatives and charitable souls who lift him slowly from the gutter)

CONFRONTATION WITH EVIL--FAIL: Bill Sykes (and to a lesser degree, the wiley Fagin) are unwilling for Oliver to be rescued from his situation, and when it seems he has "escaped,"drag him even further down. Sykes is a beast with no redeeming qualities other than having all his teeth. Sykes kidnaps Oliver with the help of Nancy.

DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL--It seems that Oliver will never escape the "trap" of poverty and crime.

LEAP OF FAITH--Again, his pure spirit shines forth from the very beginning, and inspires Nancy to take steps to save him, even though they ultimately cost her own life.

CONFRONT EVIL--SUCCEED Sykes is undone as the entire community rises up to prevent his escape. Oliver is rescued and restored to his rightful station in life.

STUDENT BECOMES THE TEACHER. Well...Oliver has touched the hearts of all around him. Arguably, Artful Dodger and Fagin are still the same rascals they were at the beginning (an utterly charming scene) so we can just take this step to represent Oliver's rise in station, and confidence that he will become a fine man and pillar of his community.

It is instructive to read "Oliver Twist" and then to watch the musical, to see the choices made, and theorize about why they were or were not appropriate. Get to work!


Learn to apply Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey model to your writing...or your life! Totally Free Lifewriting Tips!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Diamond Hour show!
Sat Nov 5, 1:00 PM Pacific (4:00 PM Eastern)
(724) 444-7444
Subject: healing the heart

New Blog Post: Double your confidence (just close your eyes!)

Double Your Confidence...(just close your eyes!)

"The confidence of amateurs is the envy of professionals" G.J. Nathan.

My seven year old son thinks he is a professional soccer player. My non-writer friends think that I should just be able to write whenever and whatever and from wherever I want, and that they can call me in the middle of my work-day and it won't matter.

People mocked Jack LaLane for growing old. People who have never had a healthy relationship offer unsolicited advice on how to find love or "score."

And people who have never run a business are filled with opinions about how Apple or Microsoft should operated. People on both sides of the abortion debate "know" when life begins, while scientists can't even agree on the line between "living" and "non-living" objects.

From the outside of any discipline, it is easy to have opinions about what is true, how it works, what we should do. Without a means to TEST those opinions, it is just hot air. The reason I love the Scientific Method so much is that if you can actually observe a phenomenon, formulate a hypothesis, create an experiment to test your hypothesis and then publish your results...the feedback you get from people who attempt to duplicate your experiment is awesomely valuable to help you make your way through life's amazingly subjective minefield.

The deeper you go into any field, the more your former certainty dissolves away. I used to love listening to armchair boxing fans criticize Ali's performance: "dammit, man doesn't even know how to keep his hands up!" I notice that these people never place themselves in an arena where their ideas can be disproven.

This is why I say that you need to have goals in multiple, measurable arenas of your life: relationship, physical health and fitness, mental clarity (career skill), and finances. Set up standards that allow you to actually succeed or fail. Objective measures, not "feelings". How many pages did you write? How much did you sell? How many times did you meditate this week? How much time did you spend with your children? Do you have a healthy romantic/sexual relationship? Did you eat consciously?

By actually measuring, actually stepping into the arena in which your theories about life can be proven or disproven, you stop being an "amateur" human being and start being a "professional"--your job is to be the best, healthiest, happiest, most honest, loving, and successful version of "you" you can be. It will be a process of testing your assumptions one at a time, examining your beliefs, clearing away the fog. It can be frightening to realize that there is a cliff RIGHT OVER THERE! But knowing it is there, and dealing with the fear, is hellaciously better than blindly going right over the edge with eyes closed and a confident, cocky smile on your face.

Especially if your kids are in the back seat.


Wednesday, November 02, 2011

New Blog Post: The Power of Sleep

The Power of Sleep

The Power of Sleep

One of the most powerful resources for improving all areas of your life is as simple as a good night's sleep. Yes, you have much to do, and miles to go before you...well, you get the joke.

But in order to raise your level of accomplishment in any arena, you must increase your energy. And there are four things necessary to raise energy: stress, nutrition, focus, and rest. Too much or too little of any of these factors, and you will fall apart.

If you are in the midst of a critical problem, your every urge might be to work 24/7, surviving on 3-5 hours of sleep a night, but this is a terrible mistake, and will lead to an inevitable erosion of your mental and emotional capacities.

The cycle of creative breakthrough is well understood: define the problem, saturate yourself in the available information about the topic, push as hard as you can...and then back off. Do something else altogether. Take a nap, or get a good night's sleep, asking your unconscious to have the answer in the morning. Chances are you'll wake up not only refreshed, but with a conceptual breakthrough that will "nibble away" at, or totally break through your problem.

This idea applies to problems in every arena: personal, physical, financial...whatever you can think of. To be specific, that cycle again:

1) Define the problem.

2) Overload with every possible bit of information you can absorb

3) Do all the work you are capable of before "brain fry" sets in.

4) Take a COMPLETE break. For some this means activities such as going to the zoo. Going dancing. Seeing a movie. The choices are infinite, but at minimum you MUST must engage with some other activity deeply enough to totally forget about the problem.

For many people, a good shower is their "breakthrough" time. Or a jog. In "Think And Grow Rich" Napoleon Hill suggests making love with your spouse (there are a variety of reasons for this, some serious, some almost metaphysical, and some just...well, it's fun!).

But sleep probably tops them all. In sleep, the conscious mind is forced to shut down. Dreams boil up nightly, whether you remember them or not. While theories vary as to their meaning, whether you believe they are messages form another plane, communication between the conscious and unconscious mind, or the memory "organizing" scraps of information and impression, it is clear that deep Delta dream sleep is necessary for health and mental efficiency. It is also during this REM sleep that the body produces HGH, a necessary healing and growth factor.

It is tragic that so many people deny themselves the 7-9 hours of sleep a night that their minds and bodies need to function at peak efficiency. Health, energy, healing, problem solving, muscular growth, integration of physical skills, creativity, emotional balance, and life itself all depend upon this critical nightly resource.

If you suffer from aches and pains, lack of energy or sex drive, difficulty losing weight, mental confusion, slowed reflexes (traffic accidents SOAR among the sleep deprived) and are getting less than seven hours of sleep a night, resolve this issue before looking for more subtle and complex solutions.

It might be as simple as a good night's sleep.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Mastery: a 1% weekly increase in quality and/or quantity of output, concurrent with a 1% decrease in perceived effort.

New blog post: Winning the Blame Game

Winning the blame game

I recently came across a thread in which a lady of much intelligence and perception observed that many women are "simply trying to deal with the pain that has been directly inflicted upon them time and time again."

This is very true, but must NOT be mistaken for the statement "and therefore, men are worse than women." That is a separate statement, which would have to be defended quite separately from the simple, painful statement that many women are in pain.

My position is very simple: people are people, and men and women rip the hell out of each other. It is easy to find groups that will point the finger at "the other" whether you are talking about male/female, black/white, Christian/Muslim or whatever. The default position for human beings is to say that other people are responsible for your pain, rather than looking at the person in the mirror.

Or to put it another way: lots of people blame others for their issues. If you think you can have a healthy relationship with someone who does that, go right ahead and try: but if you want to have a relationship with someone who takes responsibility for their choices, actions and emotions that is exactly what YOU have to do.

I remember very clearly a woman who was actually a therapist (!) who told me that she knew men were shit, and had the experience to prove it--she had been married many times. I laughed in her face, and said that there was only one thing in common between all her relationships--she was there. I bore down and it turned out she was attracted to "bad boys" and asked her what happened when she met a "nice guy." After a lot of deflection and hawing, she confessed that she wasn't attracted to them. Her choices. Her results.

Imagine two rooms. In one are men who blame women for their failed relationships, and women who blame men for the same. In the other are men and women who take responsibility for their choices. PERIOD. You get to decide which room you enter. I suspect that everyone reading this would like to go to the second party. The cover charge is awakened adulthood, and refusal to blame others for your decisions. There is no cheating.

In life, we don't get what we want. We get what we are.

This painful truth emerges in the realm of the physical body, our finances, and in our relationships.

Of course, you may take the opposite position, that we DON'T have responsibility. That "the other" is worse, more immoral uncaring and evolved than Wonderful Us.

Let me know how that works for you, would ya?