The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Monday, December 31, 2012

New Years' Goals

As the year comes to an end, I find myself realizing that the last month, I've concentrated more on family things than work of any kind...but that, while work piles up I'm having so much fun it doesn't feel like work...just more entertainment to dive into in January.

Should you make New Years Resolutions? I do, and look at the gap between what I plan and what I achieve as just feedback from the universe. It's a game, not a potential disappointment.

Two things about goals I'd like to share in this, the last message of 2012:

1) Write your goals out. Re-write them every day. Don't think that just "knowing" them is enough.
2) The "SMART" goal acronym is excellent. Goals should be a) Specific ("I finish and market my new novel" not "I get more work done"), b) Meaningful (it has to matter to you, personally, and not be a goal your parents programmed you with. c) phrased As-if now ("I increase my income by 50% over 2012" not "I make more money."), d)Realistic (if anyone else has ever accomplished your goal it is possible. If they started from a position at all analogous to yours, it is realistic. Also--give yourself enough time. The expression "there are no unrealistic goals, just unrealistic time frames" applies as well. e) Time-bound. This, again, relates to the fact that a goal without a deadline is just a dream.
3) Choose goals that inspire you. Choose them so that even if you don't reach them, the very effort of striving has made you a better human being.
4) Goals, beliefs, values, and positive/negative emotional anchors should ALL be aligned for optimal performance. Guess what: they'll never be. But that's the direction to work, and gather your resources to support this "laser-like" focus.

Have the very best and most satisfying New Year ever...and see you in 2013!

Steve Barnes

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Los Angeles, Your Dreams for 2013, and the Mastermind

I was in Los Angeles for five days, and had great fun (saw DJANGO UNCHAINED. My one-word review: Wow.) Saw my darling daughter Nicki perform in the amazing "Avenue Q" (so wonderful watching her live her dream!), visited with my sister, and got to hug my niece Shar, nephew Stephen (yep, nephew shares my name, and niece was born on my birthday. Close family!) and their terrific Dad Mits.

I also met with my producer on the project I've been working on for the last year. Man oh man, I can't wait to tell you more about it, but I can tell you that the producer's film is getting some of the best reviews of the year, the blogosphere is buzzing about it, it has the cover of numerous national magazines, and I'm thrilled beyond belief to have a dog in this fight.

And that's what I wanted to clarify today: the importance of allies. Mentors. MASTERMIND partners. You simply can't get where you want to go by yourself. No one does. We not only stand on the shoulders of those who came before, but are linked with others at this very moment, and our ability to accomplish our goals and fulfill our aims will depend upon our ability to create the correct teams:

1) Employers. Who needs your skills? Don't go looking for "a job." Rather, look to see whose stress you can reduce, profits you can increase, products you can improve.

2) Employees. Look for partners in building your dream, not worker drones. Whose dreams and values align with yours, at least for a time?

3) Customers. Whose life will be improved by your goods and services?

4) Allies. Mentors, friends, lovers, coaches. People who have knowledge, experience, resources and perspective you don't have. They may be on your own "level," below or above you IN A SPECIFIC ARENA. But so long as you grasp their essential humanity, and extend your own to them, it is possible to create genuine bonds of friendship and alliance.

This process of creating "teams" of people who can accomplish what cannot be done by a single person.

My producer has been in the business for decades, directed and produced successful films, managed people and organizations, written and directed writers, and most importantly, survived with integrity and grace. I've worked with him on another occasion, and our mutual trust paid off nicely. So I have decided to trust him now. To listen to what he says about ratings, casting, budget, studio versus independent financing, representation, and more.

If things don't work out, no harm no foul--it's still been a gas. But if it DOES...then he and I take our relationship to another level. We grasp that we've found allies capable of taking each others' dreams to a new dimension. That possibility is worth taking a risk for, don't you think?

So that's where things are right now.

1) What is your greatest dream for 2013?
2) What skills or resources do you currently lack? What support could you use?
3) Who has the skills you need? What can you offer them with honesty and integrity that will help them achieve THEIR goals, and thereby gain their assistance, perspective, or patronage?
4) What would YOU aspire to accomplish if you KNEW you had the perfect team to assist you?

Merry Christmas!

p.s.--please remember the 2 for 1 sale good until midnight PST December 24th: purchase ANY course at, then send me your request for ANY other course of equal or lesser value, and I'll send it to you FREE!!)

Thursday, December 20, 2012



This, the ninth film directed by Quentin Tarantino, and a doozy. In order to discuss this, I have to look at it from two different positions: as a movie separate from cultural context, and then, as a cultural artifact.

In a pure sense, Tarantino is a mash-up artist of humongous scholarship and skill. He doesn't make movies about reality, he makes movies about the movies we love, making meta-commentary on the myths we devour and the images that shape our perceptions, especially of the shadow worlds of crime and violence. In PULP FICTION he demonstrated an ability to twist time lines to create moments of tension (remember Butch and his girlfriend on the motorcycle? I thought for sure Jules would jump out and "pop" them...but no, he'd already left the business, if you look at the sequence. Wow.) as well as pull all kinds of bizarre subtexts up to the text level, and give us maps of the inner worlds of these low-lifes that we'd never seen before. A stunning movie, tht somehow created a context in which things I'd never imagine could be enjoyable became hysterically funny (Ving Rhames and the hillbilly. I'm just sayin'...)

While DEATH PROOF was nothing other than a C-movie romp, KILL BILL 1 and 2 had an emotional line and impact that I'd never seen coming, and made me start to think about him differently. But it was still about movies, not human reality. INGLORIOUS BASTARDS was fascinatingly misunderstood by many. It wasn't a movie about WW2, but rather a movie about movies about WW2. A hybrid of an art-house film about a Jew seeking vengeance, and a bad WW2 "men on a mission" romp with terrible acting as part of the image system. And the two worlds slowly wound together, getting closer and closer until in one memorable scene, you actually watch Christopher Waltz and Brad Pitt engage in a Bad Acting Contest across a table, and I was in geek heaven. But over under and around the fun, there was something else going on, a righteous indignation that there were cinematic sins that had never been addressed in the Tarantino fashion--bloody vengeance for payback of extraordinary evil.

I think he basically asked himself "If I was a Jew, what would I want to see in a movie?" And being the kinda guy he is, that meant watching Jews wrecking havok on the Nazi High Command. And if it didn't happen in the real world, why by God it was going to happen in his. Whatever one thinks of I.B. as a movie, it was audacious as hell, and not quite like anything else I'd seen.

 We'll get back to that. DJANGO UNCHAINED is a mash-up of several different genres or films, chief among them the Spaghetti "revenge" wester, Blaxploitation, and the "slave plantation" film. Basically, Django is a slave who is trained as a bounty hunter by a German dentist (you have to see it) who seeks to rescue his wife, who has been sold onto a Mississippi plantation. Pretty straight through-line, in some ways a story we've seen a thousand times before. It is played out with verve, beautiful cinematography, some hysterical comedy, and wonderful performances up and down the line (especially when you realize that these people are pieces of movies, not real people.) If I were an alien from another planet, watching film, and Django was slotted into the festival I'd consider it fun, bloody, and better by far than most of the movies it copies. I might put it in the top five Spaghetti westers I've ever seen, just on that count.

But there's a bigger issue here. And that is that if you compare films about slavery from the slaves' POV with films about, say, the civil war, or about slavery treating slaves as humans rather than animals, you'll see the extraordinary level of avoidance of this most deeply poisonous aspects of American history. Human history, really, but contrasted with our national myth, it is extraordinary. For an institution that lasted 250 years, followed by another 100 years of Jim Crow and Segregation (which was still alive and well in my youth) to have been documented in dramatic form so infrequently (compare the 5 years of the Civil War. Compare films made about the Holocaust. Hell, compare films about Jewish oppression in Biblical times) suggests a level of avoidance, aversion, guilt and fear that distort the national discourse to this day. You don't depict the rape, torture, and murder necessary to keep a people in bondage. You just don't.

And dear God, you don't even imply that there is an unpaid debt in blood. At the end of "Roots" you had the absurd sight of Chicken George refusing to whip the overseer who had tormented his family for decades, a "that would make us no better than him" absurdity on the level of Batman refusing to kill the Joker, even though everyone knows Joker will simply escape Arkham Asylum and kill again. Period. We all know that's an artifact of the Comics Code, and the need to preserve a neat-o villain, but has nothing to do with the real world.

And we all understood that Chicken George's action was pure Hollywood Don't Scare The White Folks stuff. Black people aren't like us, the image said. They wouldn't want the kind of revenge we ourselves would seek out.

The problem is that we're not different. And therein lies a real, real problem. No payback. No vengeance against the perpetrators. Oh, that's great for the spiritually minded, but a quick glance at world cinema suggests that vengeance is understood just fine by a large enough percentage of the human race to make the omission glaring. That is what happens when one group can control the images used to depict another group. There is no humanity. You don't get the "full spectrum" of human response. You have very low level thugs and sacrificial "buddies" (any Dirty Harry film), and extraordinarily high level (Morgan Freeman can play God), but not the simple arc of growing up, becoming an adult, finding and satisfying sexual needs with honor, falling in love, raising AND PROTECTING family, growing old. The precise arc of human life which is most common, most often presented in film all over the world...the "what will my life be, Daddy?" question, the "how do I become an adult?" question that all world literature answers for its people...

Simply doesn't exist in mainstream cinema. I've often commented about the lack of simple human sexuality in successful films with black protagonists (zero percent compared to about 22% for white protagonists in films that earn over 100 million domestic--the basic standard of "success), but there are other gaps, and among them the lack of payback, something so deeply held as a part of American mythology that in such movies as "The Gunfight At O.K. Corral" (which I was just watching last night) it was totally understood that clean-cut Burt Lancaster would throw his lifetime of legal service out the window to avenge a family slight. "He killed my brother." And that motivation--you mess with my family, I'll mess with yours--is understood as more than the Code of the West. It is part of every world culture you can find, anywhere.

And blacks in America...well, they kinda got messed with. And I think Tarantino, watching Westerns, realized that black cowboys weren't represented at 1% of their actual statistical existence. They were barely represented in Civil War movies--except in a film like "Glory" where they got vengeance, but had to die at the end for the "sin" of daring to demand to be treated like men. And the cinema audiences bought it, and the Academy rewarded the was as close to a moment of pure humanity as we could get, in that sense. Other films about slavery and its after-effects tip-toed around the horror, from "Amistad" (which was about people on their WAY to slavery), "Beloved" (about people already freed from slavery), "Lincoln" (slaves off stage), "Gone With The Wind" (the most powerful image creator in the entire sub-genre, in which slaves apparently just loved being slaves), "Mandingo" (in which slaves were exotic animals) and so forth.

Oddly, one of the very best major films on the subject was the comedy "Skin Game" with James Garner and Lou Gossett (about two con artists, one white and one black)...and it is no mistake that almost half of "Django" deals with a deadly con game. But the basic question at the core of "Django" is a geek cinophile's question: what would have happened if John Shaft, or Superfly, or Dolomite, or John Slaughter had been born a slave? And what if he had awakened to his true nature? In other worlds, what if the Avenging Hero as we understand him: the Rambos, James Bonds, Dirty Harry's, Martin Riggs--the human being who, armed with righteous rage and purpose can (in Shane Black's phrase) "Touch the myth" and become that irresistable force of nature necessary to bring balance to the universe?

And who would be crazy enough to make such a film? Gee, I wonder.

Tarantino has done something here that just makes me shake my head. I can barely believe it exists, and man oh man, is it in your face. Django starts as a slave, and ends as a mythic hero, the kind we've seen countless thousands of times on the screen. Except...we haven't. We've barely seen anything like this on screen, ever. At least for a generation. Remember: when "Shaft" was remade, they neutered him. We get angelic too-perfect Denzel and Will and Morgan, but no simple testosterone-driven male "thinking animals." You can say all you want about whether these images are important, but I can promise you the audience does. In fact, I don't think you can point to a single week in the history of cinema where where wasn't at least one such image playing in theaters. I submit to you that there is a hunger for them that is incalculably large, and consistent throughout all eras and most cultures--in fact ANY culture that has successfully survived contact with other, aggressive cultures. Don't have that energy? You get wiped the @#$$ out.

"Django" intends to correct that. As I said before, it is a big, messy, sprawling, indulgent, violent revenge fantasy that DARES you to disapprove of the target of its violence: slavers. Watch the reactions people have, and you'll very clearly see who empathizes with slaves and abolitionists...and who empathizes with the owners and abusers. Oh my Gawd, the blogosphere has been buzzing with hate, fear, and hysterical joy. This movie plays with cultural images and forbidden archetypes in a way only the most successful filmmakers in the world could manage, or possibly get away with.

It is FAR from perfect. I could make a considerable list of things I wish he'd done differently, or better, and yeah, it could have been trimmed by at least ten minutes. But that it exists at all is astounding. A simple story of a man seeking to rescue his wife from monsters. We've seen it countless times. Except this man is black, and the monstrocity underpins the single most persistent and attractive mythology in American history, as measured by GWTW's adjusted box office.

Viewed through this lens, it is hard to feel anything other than a kind of awe that this thing exists. There are maybe five filmmakers in the world who could have done it, and the other four didn't want to. A black director would have been too close--he actually would have to have been BETTER than Tarantino to pull this off--all the technical skills, and the writing skills, but sufficiently disconnected to maintain emotional distance...but simultaneously channel a volcano of emotions.

Hard to find.

I don't know how "good" DJANGO is. I think it is totally of a piece with the rest of Tarantino's oeuvre, but in an odd way more personal than most of his output. The man obviously grew up around black people, and simultaneously has a slight...remove...from the typical flow of human emotions. Is a bit of an "outsider" enough that he sees the human experience through a lens, and therefore doesn't fully associate with either side of this madness. That's apparently what it took to wrap his head around four hundred years of bullshit and come up with something like this.

Flawed? You bet. Unique? You bet. Was I hypnotized? You bet. Will I see it again? Ya think?

One of the best films of 2012, easily. But boy oh boy, is it not for every taste. Violent as hell, but not a fraction as violent as the institution it deconstructs. As a simple revenge fable, a romance, western, a Tarantino mash-up or a revisionist history that will...ummm...appeal to certain quadrants of the population and utterly appall others, DJANGO UNCHAIN is simply smashing entertainment. Excessive, overlong, self-indulgent...and masterful. A B+ at dead minimum. And in the right mood, virtually singular.

Friday, December 14, 2012

I Blew My Christmas Sale, but...


I blew it!

I had intended to have a big Christmas sale, taking 20% off this course, and 40% off that one, just like everyone else. life just blew up! I'm taking off for California today to see Tananarive, who has been teaching screenwriting at Antioch College, and just found out that a film project has become very very real. This is something OTHER than the project I've been hinting about (and the other film project THAT producer has been working on is the hottest ticket of the year, currently at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes! I'll be meeting with him in Hollywood on Tuesday).

But something else happened. A financial group wants to put not seven, but EIGHT figures into a film project of ours (do the math!) and we have to put together a treatment FAST. Yow!

So...without time to do something fancy, I'm going to make you guys the best offer I've ever made:

From now until Christmas, purchase ANY course on (with the exception of the work I do with Scott Sonnon--different system), and I'll give you a course of equal or lesser value for FREE.

Yep. Purchase ANY course, then send me an email at, tell me what you bought and what you want. And within 48 hours (I'm on the road, you have to cut me a little teeny bit of slack!) I'll send you a FREE copy of the desired course. I've never offered anything like this before, and it's a Christmas present from my family to yours. I am hugely excited about what is happening in my life, and just want to share the joy! want the best sleep of your life? Warrior Sleep. The best writing course on the Internet? The Lifewriting Year Long. The 101-Day Life makeover program? Align your life with the Hero's Journey? Improve Focus and Flow? Discover Tananarive Due's "Secrets of a Writer's Life"?

It's all there. No limit. For every course you purchase, you get one of equal or lesser value. Just...please give me 48 hours, wouldja? Maybe's gonna be busy as @#$$ around Casa Barnes!

Merry Christmas!

Begin With The End "In Heart"

Morning Ritual

There is nothing more important than the first few minutes of the day. I wanted to share with you the "morning ritual" that I undergo every day to get "things moving."

1) As soon as I realize I'm awake, I feel my body against the sheets, luxuriate in just being alive. I am in the "hypnogogic state", half-way between being asleep and awake. A perfect time for lucid dreaming. This is a great time to fantasize, to create images and impressions that If you know what I mean. Yummy, and it gets the juices going. The idea is to start the day with the feelings you want ot have at the end of it: satisfaction, pleasure, passion.

This time is precious. In it, you can flow with your dreams and goals, create a tempting future that is so bright, and warm, and wonderful that you cannot wait to get out of bed and into your day.

Similarly, at the END of the day, as you go to sleep, you can do the same thing. Remember the formula: GOALS X FAITH X CONSTANT ACTION X GRATITUDE X MUTUAL BENEFIT = RESULTS.

By using this "natural" hypnotic state, the borderline between dream and waking, you can reap benefits available to most people only after deliberate, conscious education of their minds, or years of meditation technique. Visualize your goals, and use your sensuality (those morning fantasies can be wonderful. In fact, if you're sleeping with your honey, it's great time to roll over and...well, you get the idea!) to produce the feelings of connection, pleasure and satisfaction most people only get at the END of a goal process.

BEGIN WITH THE FEELING YOU WANT TO END WITH. Start with an attitude of gratitude. It changes the entire complexion of the day!


Saturday, December 08, 2012

The Science of Erotic Intelligence

Diamond Hour December show. -
 Saturday, December 8, 2012,
1:00 PM Pacific Standard time (4:00 PM Eastern)
Connect via phone or VoIP (Skype, etc.)
(724) 444-7444

Wanted to invite you to join me and my guest Amara for a conversation about Erotic Intelligence.    I had the very great honor to visit  in Amara's world, years ago.  What I discovered was that the esoteric techniques and perspectives of spiritual sexuality involved the same experiences I had had in high states of meditation, intense yoga or martial arts, or the highest creative spaces I'd entered in writing.  Fascinating, but I now had an internal road map to describe and chart what had previously been non-verbal "knowings."  In the intervening years, I'd clustered information from several arenas regarding sexual energy (including the "Sex Transmutation" material from TAGR into a personal practice, using what I found to direct and cultivate my physical and mental "energies" (the chakra model suggests it is all the same energy, just "vibrating at different frequencies"), motivate and reward myself, and of course to have greater pleasure and intimacy on the actual sexual level.   It's all the same stuff, but sexuality is (by the chakra model) secondary only to survival as a means to experience primal reality.  And a LOT more fun, less painful, and less risky.  It was, in other words, "using my erotic energy intelligently" ("intelligence" here measured in capacity to solve problems, like "how shall I negotiate my life?").   When I reconnected with Amara (and her lovely partner Shyena Venice--what a dynamic pair!) last year, we started talking about where our various studies had taken us in the intervening years.   And realized there was overlap, even if we used different definitions, and had immersed ourselves in different traditions.    And of all the things we talked about, the concept of "Erotic Intelligence" kept cropping up as a theme.  It resonated with both of us, even if we couldn't quite agree upon the definition.   And finally, I realized there was no need to agree.   The differences in perspective were representative of the male-female differences in life experience and mentation (both men and women having both aspects, of course) and that it might be useful to actually allow this "messiness" of definitions to be part of what we were presenting, allow an audience to judge and learn for themselves, simply present the ways we had nurtured and utilized our sensual and sexual natures to create and reinforce other areas of our lives.   I knew I could honestly say that my sexual energy connected to EVERYTHING else I did, but most specifically my physical fitness, emotional relationships (boy, did it tie into the "Soulmate Process" I used to find Tananarive!), and creativity.    I swam in those waters, but Amara is a flippin' fish. She LIVES there, so I knew that if we could hold the space together, something valuable could happen.  And according to our feedback from the Tantric Meetup group in Phoenix early in November, it did indeed.     I invite you to join us for a recap, as well as a set of specific suggestions to increase, nurture, and refine your awareness of these energies, as well as the energies themselves (yeah, I know.  The term "energy" has a very specific scientific definition that I'm bending here, but I beg your understanding--there is no word I know of in the English language that comes as close to what I'm talking about).  

Friday, December 07, 2012

What was your best "good deed"?

As the holiday season approaches, I find it pleasant to consider ways that I've "earned my air"--in other words, tried to make the world a better place. Good deeds done for those who cannot benefit us, casting our bread upon the karmic waters, is an example of this.

I recently recalled one of my very favorite ones. It happened about 30 years ago.

I was living with my girlfriend Toni in a duplex near LACC, and was alone in the apartment. The doorbell rang, and there stood a small, frightened white lady who began to babble at me in a language I couldn't understand and didn't recognize. Clearly, she was lost, and terrified, and begging me to help her. Not knowing what in the world to do, I asked her in and brought her a glass of water. She seemed so frail and terrified, it was easy to imagine that she had been seeking a relative and/or traveling the strange city and gotten off a bus at the wrong stop...or something. Good lord. It was 4:30 in the after noon, winter as I recall, and in a couple of hours the sun would be down, the temperature drop, and this was going to get ugly.

I got her to talk, mentioning the name of the city "Los Angeles" and using hand signs to encourage her to tell me where she came from and who she was. From what seemed to be her name, and the name of a city or state or province she came from, I guessed she was from some Slavic country, and got an inspiration. I looked up the phone number for the Yugoslavian trade counselate, which shared offices with several other central European countries. Perfect.

Got them on the phone, and asked if there was a multilingual translator there, and explained the situation. My poor little house guest's eyes bugged out when I handed her the phone, and she began pouring out her heart to the lady on the other end. After a couple of minutes, I spoke to the translator, and she said that my guest had been trying to find her daughter's house and gotten lost. I got the daughter's address, bundled the lady into my car and drove her there, about two miles from my house.

The expression on the daughter's face, and the hug and grateful tears from my guest as she said good-bye have remained with me for decades. A small kindness, to a lost stranger.

That day, I earned my air.


Thursday, December 06, 2012

Increase your "Erotic Intelligence"?

Five weeks ago, I conducted a workshop in Phoenix on Erotic Intelligence. Luckily for me, I co-taught it with Amara Charles, one of my dearest friends, a lovely, brilliant and creative instructor in numerous sensual disciplines. The fascinating thing was that we simply couldn't come to a solid agreement on what we would teach and what our precise definitions were...which we interpreted as representative of the core difficulty men and women can have communicating about sex...and life itself.

So we did something unique: we simply never used the exact same definitions, allowing those differences to play out in "real time" in front of the audience. They loved it. They raved. That conversation is recorded and transcribed and will be the cornerstone of a new course, but I've convinced Amara to come on Saturday's "Diamond Hour" show to discuss five ways to increase, integrate, share and utilize Erotic Intelligence in your own life.

Just for fun, a little hint: Think And Grow Rich speaks of Sexual Transmutation as a core element in life success. Basically, that the most successful men and women Napoleon Hill studied had VERY high sex drives. They used that to motivate themselves, reward themselves, clarify their minds and values, protect their health...and much more.

But Hill, of course, had limited practical knowledge in the techniques of actually doing these things, so while he was WAAAY ahead of his time in observing and defining a phenomenon, there was a limited amount he could do in terms of direct suggestions.

Well...Amara has no such problems. For over twenty years, she's specifically taught these secret arts to students all over the world. More to the point, I trust the human being she is, and feel comfortable sharing her with my students, who trust me to take the very best care of them.

Amara is one of the best. Join us?
Diamond Hour December show. -
 Saturday, December 8, 2012,
1:00 PM Pacific Standard time (4:00 PM Eastern)
Connect via phone or VoIP (Skype, etc.)
(724) 444-7444

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

"Cradle To The Grave" application

A reader reached out to me with genuine issues, and it occurred to me that this is a perfect opportunity to both help her and illustrate an instance of the "Cradle To Grave" (yeah, probably a terrible name, but it's what I'm working with right now) meditation technique.   I'd recommended five "Sixty Second Breathing Breaks" during the day in a previous note, and she replied:

  • Dear Steven,
    Thank you so much for your advice. I think I should clarify things a bit:
    - I am currently working with a therapy program in XXX, but increasingly anxious to finish my time with them so I can move back home to New York. I miss my home terribly.
    - I am holding down a part-time job, which I've had for a year, but of late I have become very worried about finding new employment when I leave XXX. I've been making a tentative effort to find a new interim job while here, but I find the effort very stressful, and perhaps ill-conceived; I'm working with a career counselor back home in New York (phone sessions) to better plan my next move, and I understand that a lot of this sudden need comes less from necessity and more from a feeling of panic and self-doubt.
    - I am a recovering anorexic and suffering from a bad bout of ulcerative colitis. I'm due for an examination on Thursday, and I'm seeing a dietitian about diet, exercise, and daily caloric needs, but dealing with the health issues is also difficult. I hope they can get sorted out very soon.
    Does all this make sense?
    I'm very sorry if you feel like I'm trying to solicit your services. It just seems like you're a really good person to ask for advice about some things, and at this stage I am very grateful to have a range of perspectives available. Your 'breathing breaks' idea sounds very good - I perform 20-minute meditation sessions daily, but this seems like an excellent way to supplement that.
  • #####

  •  Sweetie, there is nothing wrong with asking for help and perspective. Don't apologize, just be honest and understanding if the askee hasn't the time.

  • 8:54am
    Steven Barnes

    The breathing breaks idea can be life changing. You're in a stress spiral: emotional affecting physical which then affects the emotional...and if you don't break it, you'll go down the drain. My understanding of anorexia is that it is a distorted body image syndrome, and those are often the result of powerful emotional storms and abuse issues. The perfect approach for you would be to take those five breaks a day, minimum of 60 seconds each. One can be your current 20 minute stretch. Visualize three "energy balls" of light: one at the "Belly brain", one at the heart center, one at the head. See how clear and bright you can make the light, but if it is foggy or muddy, that's fine. Begin to visualize your youngest self, as if pregnant with a child, in your belly brain. You can visualize this as the oldest "you" that existed prior to damage: might be eight years old, or two, or an unborn fetus. Or fertilized egg. Doesn't matter. What DOES matter is the establishment of connection.

The Last Novel That Changed Your Life

I remember reading books that changed my life when I was younger.   And while I've read MANY books that expanded my thinking, in terms of fiction none have really altered my perspective since my early 20's.  Nonfiction, sure.  But the last book that popped me open was a pulp SF novel called "The God Machine" by Martin Caiden ("The Six Million Dollar Man.")   In this book, a supercomputer takes over the world, and figures it can't be beaten, because the only route in to its innards is protected by a lethal radiation belt.    The book's hero is defeated and stymied until an old poker player beats his pants off, saying that the kid is an excellent technical player, but hasn't learned an important axiom: in order to win everything, you have to be willing to lose everything.  That, more specifically, a man totally willing to die can accomplish anything.  I wrestled with that one for some time, and came to the conclusion that I shouldn't aspire to anything that I wasn't willing to die for.   Changed my life, and it was the last fiction book to do so.  I was wondering...what was the last FICTION book that taught you about the world, or yourself, in a powerful way...and how old were you when you read it?