Your Life Is Art

No one signs their name anymore. Not really. We make a half-assed squiggle with our finger on a digital screen. We scribble our name on documents, the letter collapsing and falling over.

I’m the worst at this. Except when I went to vote by mail. Then my signature was pristine, perfect, and crisp. I wrote it with care because it mattered. Because I knew someone was watching.

You might think that how you sign your name doesn’t matter. After all, the card company isn’t going to check it. The barista or waiter isn’t either. Even when I write “check ID” on the back of my cards almost no one asks.

And as a stand-alone occurrence, it probably doesn’t matter. After all I’m not singing the declaration of independence or the constitution.

Recently I started to notice this trend in myself, towards convenience, speed, and efficiency. It started to bother me. Because my life, your life is not a thing to be dispensed with, to be scribbled off.

Your life is art. Or it can be.

Last month I had a virtual date. At first, I thought I’d order us dinner. Maybe get some flowers delivered to her house. But then I realized that I could make art with it. So I made a website. Nothing too complex, it only took me an hour or so.

The website guided us through the date. I gave us a structure. The date itself became a form of art. I shared it with a couple of other people who were helping me out and they were both moved by it.

Over New Year’s weekend I went hiking. And the conversation I shared on that hike was art. It was about couples who go hiking. We spent a few moments together laughing and taking in the scenery. We weren’t concerned with the mileage or exactly how fast we wanted to go. The hike itself became art.

When I cook, I feel into the food. I cut the onions, making sure the carrots look uniform. I try to add different colors of sweet potatoes. I think about a garnish. So that when the dish is done, there’s texture, shades, and so much more. The food itself is art.

This is what it means to make art with life. Sometimes it’s dramatic, a bold gesture, a full on production. And sometimes it’s incredibly subtle, like how you sign your name on a digital pad.

Making art with your life is possible, here’s how.

1) Notice what you don’t notice:

There are places where all of us take things for granted. The way our love kisses us in the morning. The way you make your coffee. The way you brush your teeth. These places are rich repositories and opportunities to create art with your life.

Your relationships are filled with small moments of unconsciousness and routine. So simply start noticing what you don’t notice, what you step over, and what you take for granted.

2) Look at it from a new perspective:

There are things we get through and there are things we create through. We get through waiting for the plane to board. We create through writing a birthday card for someone we love. We get through washing the dishes. We create through cooking a special meal as a treat for ourselves.

Everything that is a ‘get through’ moment can become a ‘create through’ moment.

I learned this really well when I worked in the kitchen at the Zen Monastery I lived at for two years. In kitchen practice everything we did was infused with mindfulness and compassion. We cut carrots with love. We stirred pots with deep presence.

I swear you could taste it in the food. And you could certainly feel it as you cooked.

What we were doing was no different than what is done in commercial kitchens all over the world, but it felt different.

We took a perspective of wonder, curiosity, and attention to what we did.

After you notice what you didn’t notice, try to look at it differently. See if you can see it as an invitation into creation. Ask yourself how could I create through this?

3) Answer the question “How could I create through this?”

The next step is simple. You answer the question, with an I could.

I could write poems at the bus stop.
I could connect with my Uber driver.
I could draw a small masterpiece on the coffee shop Ipad.
I add a garnish to my dinner.
I could really connect with my beloved as we say goodbye.
I could be fascinated by my child’s day even if it’s so simple.

You don’t have to do all of these things. You don’t have to do any of them. This isn’t about finding what you ‘should’ do or the ‘right thing’ to do. That’s not the nature of art.

This isn’t painting by numbers.

You’re just looking at what you COULD do. If making art with your life is new, you can spend some time here. Just dreaming. Thinking of things to try. You can’t stay here, but it’s a good start because you’re opening up new possibilities for yourself.

Slowly carefully lovingly let yourself be open to what’s possible.

4) Try something . . . anything

Once you’ve gotten a few ideas one will call to you. For me, the one that scares me or lights me up and turns me on the most will speak to me. So now it’s time to try it out.

I’ll be honest at first you’re going to be a bit awkward and clunky. You may get some weird looks, but you should try it anyway. You’ll realize you can survive being a bit silly and absurd. And often it will go way better than you can imagine.

Not all art is a success, but that’s not the point of art. The point of art is to create something new, to express something, and to allow that something to blossom and wither in a moment.

So try something. It’s ok if it’s not the boldest thing, it’s ok if it is super bold, but just try.

5) Learn and refine

Now that you’ve created something and put it into the world, refine it. Draw a different kind of sun on the coffee shop Ipad. Add a smile to your present goodbye kiss. Ask your kiddo about their day at dinner instead of when they get home. Try rosemary instead of thyme as the garnish.

Artists don’t just paint one painting and stop. They create and recreate. They try again, they add something else, they take something away.

The reason why learning and refining are so important is that they help you move from a moment of expression to a practice of it. Instead of making art an event—like an anniversary dinner—it becomes part of the ritual of your life.

This is the final step and it is the one you have to keep making again and again.

I realized that you might be wondering why you’d want to do this?

Why not just have a nice dinner with your partner once a year?
Why not just squiggle my name on an Ipad?

For me, the reason is simple. Life is the most rare and precious commodity you have. Especially your life. You’ve only got so many days, so many moments, so many chances.

It’s like you’ve got a box of crayons and they’re wearing down all the time and you never really know when you’ll get to the bottom of them.

So what do you want to do with them? You can squiggle your signature. Die of boredom waiting for the bus. Resent and cling to routine out of a need for control.

Or you can make art with them. Over and over again I’ve chosen art and I’ve seen the people around me who I most admire do the same.

So please choose to make art. It can be simple even mundane art. But even then, it will still be art.

And at the end of your life you’ll be so grateful that you chose to create through it.


Stop Moving Backwards - An Interview with Life Coach Jaclyn Costello

Have you ever waned to stop moving backwards, let go of the past, and really live your life?

This week I had the chance to speak with Jaclyn Costello from
I discovered Jaclyn when  I read her article “Now is the Time to Heal” on

We talked about what life coaching is and why it’s hard to change your life. At the end she shares a great exercise to help us let go of the past and start moving forward today.

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Interview Questions:

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1. Your website says you do Progressive Life Coaching, What is that and how is it different from regular life coaching or other types of self improvement work?

2. How did you get interested in working with people in this way?

3. Are their elements of mindfulness and fitness you use with clients? and if so how do you use them?

4. How can people transform their lives is a lasting way?

Jaclyn Costello Interview Mindful Fitness Movement

Jaclyn Costello Bio
I am a writer, professor, & life coach, living in Las Vegas, Nevada where I currently teach at UNLV and run my coaching business. I recently finished my first book of fiction (Artifact), as well as my first book of poetry (How to Be a Human)– both of which I’m sending out at this moment to potential publishers and agents.

After years of trial and error, I’ve chiseled down my life purpose to three things:

1) exploring the world, spirituality, love, and the far reaches of the human condition
2) expressing what I know through stories, novels, and poetry
3) helping others become empowered in their own lives, ease their suffering and fears, reach their greatest potential, create loving relationships, and achieve peace of mind

To read more about what I offer, come on over to Or to learn more about me as an artist/writer, visit All the best!

Finally I want to thank Jaclyn for talking with me. She was a pleasure to talk to and I really appreciated her wisdom and insight.

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What is Mindfulness? 5 Tips For A Mindful Birthday

5 Tips For A Mindful Birthday.


I shall now predict the weather

Today is my birthday. No, I didn’t see my shadow, but thanks for asking.

Birthdays are a great opportunity to reflect on a year of life.

They’re a time to celebrate your struggles, accomplishments, and dreams. They’re also a great opportunity to ease some restrictions you have in life.

In that sprit, here are my 5 steps to a Mindful, Joyful Birthday.

1. Remember It’s Not About You – When I was living at Great Vow Zen Monastery we didn’t celebrate birthdays. It’s a long-standing tradition there for good reasons. No one makes a lot of money so gifts are a bit odd, and with so many people, you’d have birthday parties all the time.

Birthdays can put a lot of pressure on us. Like any big holiday our expectations are high and thus your chance of disappointment is high.

So every birthday, I remember the best way to celebrate is to make it about the joy being alive. But I don’t need to make it all about me.

2. Reflect On a Year of Living.

Instead of focusing on regrets, take this time to just reflect on what a whole year of life has held. Think about all the unexpected things that happened. Think about all the little accomplishments, the small acts of kindness, courage, and determination.

If we look for these moments, we will find them scattered throughout our lives. This is a great time to appreciate the vast content in a year of life.

3. Set goals

After taking in the past it’s a great time to look into the future. Write a personal mission statement, make some new vows, and set some new goals.

Set a goal for the day after your birthday, for the week after you birthday, for the month after your birthday, and for the next year of your life.

Make them small, achievable goals. But put them down in writing and post them somewhere you can see them. Write them daily.

The actions we do today is a gift to our future self. So start next year’s birthday gift to yourself today.

If you need help, these posts explain some processes I’ve gone through to set goals for my life.

Vows goal and intentions

The Eulogy project

4. Ease up on restrictions

Don’t go crazy, but give yourself a break from some of your restrictions today. Eat some cake. Goof around. Have some fun. You can always spend a little more time next week working it off.

If we are too strict for too long it wears us out. It’s important to make easing restrictions and breaking a few small rules a healthy part of our routine.

Your birthday is a great time to do this.

5. Spend Time Alone

I’m very good about making time for other people, but not making time for myself.

This birthday I’m going to spend 30 – 60 minutes alone in silence. I’ll probably go on a run or walk.

You can spend this time doing some of these other reflections, but I would encourage you to leave some of this time open.

Birthdays are a natural touchstone of our lives. They are a chance to connect with a deeper part of ourselves.  Silence and space give those parts of us a chance to arise.

Thanks for reading my blog on my birthday.

If you want to get me a birthday gift, here are 3 things you can do.

  1. Subscribe to my mailing list: You actually get a free e-book as a birthday gift from me.

  2. Share this blog post on your, twitter-book-press account.

  3. Comment below and tell me: What special thing do you like to do on your birthday?


The Most Important Factor – The Archer

I took a yoga class today and the teacher talked about how we are each: an archer, aiming for what we want to become; an arrow, the thing that is moving towards the target; and the target, that which we are aiming at becoming. I’ve always found this idea beautiful. The tension between the three subjects and the unity of them feels true to my experience of transformation. In honor of this metaphor, I’m going to write three posts that will focus on how to embody each aspect of this classic spiritual triptych.

What does it mean to be the archer?
We are the archer when we set goals, but it’s important to remember that a good archer does more than just aim. An archer takes into account all the factors that will get the arrow to the target.
For shooting an arrow (a topic I am woefully ignorant about) the archer might consider: distance, elevation, tension of the bow, type of arrow, type of target, or many other factors.
In addition, she also needs to be aware and calm. If she is unaware she won’t notice small changes in the wind, the way humidity affects her bow, etc. If she is not present she is not likely to be focused and will not execute well.
The archer must also be calm enough to act. If she is very nervous, her hands may shake, and her shot will be off. If she is not calm and present, she will not be able to release the bow at the right moment. The act of shooting is as much an act of intuition, as it is an act of the thinking mind.
She must also be confident enough to let the arrow go when she feel like it is right. Is she lacks the confidence to act, the arrow goes nowhere.
When we set forth a plan to transform our lives, whether engaging in a fitness practice or any other type of practice, it is essential that we act as the archer acts.
First, we need to consider all the variables that are apparent. What information do we know about our bodies, lives, and karmic tendencies that will affect our effort to transform our lives.
I know that I am very disciplined when I have a clear plan. When I decide to take on a practice, I need to make a clear plan and check myself against that plan often. If I don’t do this I tend to wander away from the path without realizing it.
Second, we must start to execute our plan, but to be aware with what arises. If fear arises, we see it, acknowledge it, and meet it with courage. If dullness arises, we see it, we acknowledge it, and we add more energy.
No matter what arises we acknowledge it and work with it. Unseen factors always arise and aren’t a problem, unless we are unwilling to see them, acknowledge them, and respond.
Finally, we must learn to be calm and confident in pursuit of our goal. To be calm, the best thing we can do is mediate, pray, take a bath, or engage in self care. It also helps to talk to friends, get support from trainers or coaches, and realize that true change takes time.
Too often transformation work is fueled by impatient, disorderly, critical thoughts. This fuel will get you so far down the path, but ultimately it’s dirty fuel. We must learn to be patient and forgiving of ourselves.
To build confidence, we need to affirm our goals and celebrate even our smallest victories. I write down my goals daily starting with, ‘I will’ or ‘I vow.’ Through this practice, I am able to see the arrow reach the target before I even pull back on the bow.
I also try to celebrate each step of the process. I reflect on the virtue of getting myself where I am, the virtue of setting goals, and the virtue of making a plan. In this way, I already feel the momentum of transformation before I let my arrow fly.
When we embody the Archer in this metaphor, we embody all that is potential in our lives. We look closely at the mechanics of change, and set forth the path we hope to travel. But being an archer alone is not enough.
We must do more then plan, reflect, and be confident. In the next post in this series I will discuss embodying the arrow; the self that is dynamically moving towards our goal.

Why is it a good rule to not have rules?

A Blog Without Rules

Rules Don’t Rule the Heart

Sure sure I’ve heard it before RULES! RULES! RULES! THEY TOTALLY RULE! Except  sometimes they sort of don’t. Rules are not a panacea ( panacea – n. A solution or remedy for all difficulties or diseases).

They can be helpful in some situations, but very often they can actually impede the very thing that can create change in your life, AWARENESS!!! (oooo ahhh).

I love rules and who doesn’t, they make life so simple. I just listen to this set of parameters my mind determines and everything will be fine. I mean that’s what makes human beings so great, it’s our ability to blindly follow a set of instructions without question.

Ok ok so you have you have probably picked up on my sarcasm at this point, but maybe not. I don’t really think that following rules are what makes us unique animals.

Bee’s and Ants are great because they follow set rules well and in some ways humans ability to follow rules has helped us, but what really make us unique is our ability to adapt and reflect.

Humans are unique in our ability to problem solve, but even more so we are unique in our ability to be aware of our awareness. We can reflect on whether or not we are being present in a situation and what our motivations are.

The key to adapting successfully is awareness, but all to often we rely on rules instead of awareness to guide us.  So let take the same situation and see what happens when we use rules instead of awareness to guide us.

Sally has lost alot of weight in the past, but has put some of it back on. She works out regularly, but feels like she has lost her way out of fitness. She notices she has some cheese in her fridge. She knows that if she has cheese, she will eat it, so she throws it out. She decides no more cheese, but then another voice arises in her, perhaps one of not wasting food or maybe a voice that is comforted by cheese when she feels anxiety.

She reconsiders takes the cheese out of the garbage, but then the rule voice reemerges, “NO CHEESE!” it says. So back in the trash with cheese. She feels better, but is not quite sure what happened. She wishes she could be stronger, that she was just a normal person.

In this example, we can see all the forces at play for Sally, but she doesn’t necessarily notice them. She is aware of only one kind of hunger: “Mind Hunger.”

Mind hunger is hunger based on rules and regulations set up by our mind. All the facts and figures that you have in your head about how you eat, all the ideas you have about nutrition, and all the articles you have ever read about food are what make up mind hunger.

The problem with mind hunger and the rules that it makes up, is that they can either be followed or broken. It’s a very black and white world, but this world only works we are feeling good and strong.

In the example above, there are all these other hungers and voices that Sally may not see. There is heart hunger, her need to be comforted. There is mouth hunger, her love of the taste of  things like cheese. There is also likely some inner critic, Sally’s internal voice that tells her she will fail. There is an inner coach that is telling her how to get in shape. All of these factors are hidden behind a wall of rules and morality.

Now let’s imagine what might happen if Sally was aware of all of her hungers and the voices that created this internal struggle over weight and cheese.

The situation is the same Sally has lost a lot of weight, but put some back on. She works out, but feels like she has let herself down in the fitness department. She notices a block of cheese in her fridge, she knows if she has cheese she will likely eat it, but she wants to get into shape. The urge to throw it out arises.

This time Sally notices the urge to throw it out and gets curious. Why does she want the throw out a perfectly good block of cheese? She notices that some voices are arising in her.

One voice (the inner critic) is telling her she doesn’t have the will power to have cheese and not eat it. Another voice (the inner coach) tells her she better get with the program, which means throwing out the cheese, getting on a stricter work out schedule, etc. etc.

She notices these voices and first acknowledges that some of the things they are saying really hurt. She is feeling sad and scared that she won’t get her weight down to what she wants. Next she wonders if the voices are telling her the truth.

Does she have no will power? No that’s not true, she works out, she writes a blog, she has run long races before; so she must have will power.

She may be more likely to eat cheese if she has it in her house, but overall she doesn’t have a problem with will power. She can observe that she has a need for competency when it come to healthy eating habits, but she doesn’t judge herself for not always making the best choices.

Sally wonders, Is the inner coach voice helpful? Well it does seem to be motivating her to make healthier choices, but it’s technique is ignoring all of the complex needs that are coming up for her. It only see’s a world where there are rules and she better follow them or else. She sees this voice can be helpful, but if she listens to it, without considering her needs, she will likely burn out and not be able to sustain a life-long transformation.

Next she notices that when she is feeling stressed out or anxious about herself and her body she starts to feel empty inside. When she eats the cheese she is comforted by the flavor and how good it tastes. It feeds her heart hunger.

She realizes that though she may throw the cheese out, she won’t feel any better if she doesn’t also find a way to feed that empty part of herself that is comforted by eating yummy cheese.

She also notices she eats cheese as a reward. She needs to do something to celebrate her successes. Again she notes that she can throw the cheese out, but that she needs to find some other way to reward herself for a job good done. She brainstorms other healthier ways to reward herself.

Finally she notices that she loves the crap out of cheese. She can throw the cheese out, but she can’t throw her love of cheese out. Cheese satisfies her mouth hunger so much.

She realizes that she doesn’t want to stop eating cheese, but maybe she can just eat it less often. When she does buy it, maybe she just buys a bit less.

After all this reflection, Sally feels better, she may not understand everything that’s going on with her, but she has a much better idea. Sally acknowledges that these parts of her need to be honored, but that she does want to make healthier choices.

She decides to throw the cheese out to support her desire to be fit, but does so with the awareness that it’s just cheese she is throwing out, not all the things the get fed by eating cheese.

We can see in the second example how much more Sally was able to observe, by looking into all the motivations that lead to her inner conflict over the cheese. In the first example she wants cheese, but she is weak, so she must throw it out.

In the second example she sees she is strong, but that she needs to find some more awareness to meet the needs she has arising. She wants to be in shape, but she wants to honor all the parts of her that need to be fed.

The key to transformation is awareness.  Until we see a bit of the internal show of our mind we are doomed to repeat our karmic patterns again and again. The world of fitness talks A LOT about will power, will power, will power, but that only takes you so far. The truth is will power is just one part of your mind and you have to honor all the parts of your being if you want to become a new person.

It’s like the difference between repainting a house versus rebuilding it’s foundations. Will power can change how you look on the outside, but awareness changes how you think and feel on the inside in a deep and fundamental way.

Take some time this week to notice a unhealthy pattern you want to change. Reflect on the voices, feelings, needs, and motivations that arise in you. Write down what you notice and try to find a way to honor all the parts of yourself while making healthy choices.

You don’t have to notice as much as Sally in our example. Even just a little small bit of awareness can make a big difference in your ability to transform your life.

Thanks for Reading and Be Well


What’s so great about impermanence anyway?


If you have practiced Buddhism or a few other eastern traditions at all you’ve heard about it, read about it, been admonished about it, and more. Even if you haven’t you have experienced it. The ever changing now, the subtle shift of the winds, the endless march of time, whatever your preferred referent it’s quite clear, all things are in a state of flux.

Often impermanence gets a bad wrap as the thing that takes whatever we love away from us, but from the right perspective impermanence is also what gives life’s it’s special significance.

The moments we cherish very often signify change.  A great example of this is the sunset. People all over the world admire and relish the colors, the shifting light, the change in noises, that the sunset brings. The sunset embodies a moment of change.

The sun moves all day long and maybe we notice the changing angles of light, the shift in temperature, but maybe we don’t. In the Northwest United States, for example, the shift of the sun often occurs behind a curtain of impenetrable grey.

The sun set (or sun rise) is a time when the movement demands our attention, often with a dramatic effect. It signals that this day is ending, that even the huge forces that seem so stable to us are shifting in front of our very eyes.

If you’ve ever sat and watched a sunset you know this to be true. The sun a massive ball of plasma, falls beneath the horizon faster than you realized it could. It’s our attentiveness to this change that helps us see the beauty.

There are many other examples of beauty found this way in change, migrating birds, the opening of flowers, the first snow, the first spring shower, the first warm day of summer, and many more. These moments bring us into the present moment and show us that this flow of life is filled with an amazing vitality.

When I stand in the middle of one of these moments, I can feel my life sliding underneath me. Like that moment when the waves cross over one another at the beach. They seem like they are both coming out and going in all at once. This feeling is raw and scary, but it something I live to feel. It’s this feeling that makes me realize how precious each grain of my life truly is.

Take some time this week and reflect on something that you enjoy watching change. Think about how changes in the day, the seasons, even the people around you create beauty in your life.

Change is what enables us to become new people to learn new things. It keeps everyday fresh and unexpected. It only becomes a problem when we fear it.

Thanks for reading and Be Well,


Whats the difference between a missed workout?

Some days you are going to miss your workout. I know a personal trainer shouldn’t say things like that, right? Your workout schedule should always be maintained, ALWAYS!!! NO EXCUSES!!! The truth is there are going to be days when you just can’t make it happen.

Perhaps your schedule got screwed up or perhaps something came up at work. You might come down with the flu or maybe your cat sat on your lap and you just can’t bear to move the sweet feline. No matter what the reason it’s not a reason to PANIC!!!

Everyone misses a workout now and again. I used to get really bothered during triathlon training season about missing workouts. Partly because workouts are what kept me sane, but also because I was afraid. I was afraid that if I took a misstep, I would fall off the path completely.

When you are first transforming your life this is very natural. It’s likely you have some little internal critic warning you against the numerous failures and violations of trust you have committed against yourself in life. It’s not something to be ashamed about we all do it. We start with good intention and we stumble off the path. In a way this voice’s diligence is important for you to pay attention to. Missing workouts can become a pattern and a habit that develops into a longer trend.

The trick is how to tell the difference between an occasional exception and a growing rule. Here are a few tools you can use assure you are sticking to your workout plan.

1. Make weekly instead of daily goals – When you are setting your goals try to make weekly goals that you sometimes exceed. This way if you miss a day you can always make it up another day. By setting weekly goals you can shift your work out schedule to meet whatever needs arise.

In addition by setting weekly limits you’ll be less likely to try to get a bunch of workouts in one week, to make up for the last week. Fitness doesn’t really work like that, by breaking your schedule down into weekly chucks you can manage your progress. If last week didn’t go great that’s ok you can start up again this week. These short manageable commitments makes long term progress possible.

2. Commit to a max number of days between work outs- I’ve heard many people decide not to go more than two days without doing some sort of physical activity. This tool is simple you just set this standard and keep to it. This way if you workout daily and you miss a workout for some reason, it’s alright you’re within your limit, but after three days it’s likely your slacking or making up excuses.

 The important part of regular exercise is the regular part. Even if it’s just getting out for a short walk, if you make exercise part of your week you will be more likely to keep it up. Even if your max number of days is three or four, your rule can be your workout snooze button. If you decide you need an extra day to rest, your snooze button rule will make sure you don’t slip into a prolonged no-exercise slumber.

3. Commit to a workout group or workout partner – Social pressure is a powerful thing, you might as well use it to your advantage when you can. If you know that you will have to meet with someone or a group of someones, you are more likely to make it to your workouts. In addition  knowing you will see others who are working out regularly will encourage you to stick to your fitness plan.

When I was training for Reach the Beach, a one hundred mile charity ride, I knew each week I was going to be meeting up with other riders to train. These were serious cyclists and if I was going to keep up with them each week, I needed to stick to my training schedule. Every time I got sick or took a day or two off, I would feel it on the weekend rides. These rides became something that I looked forward to, but were also a tool to keep me focused on my long term goals.

There are many way to find people to support you, getting a personal trainer is one of the best ways to do this, but so is meeting regularly with a workout group or just having a workout buddy. Having someone hold you accountable keeps you honest about your effort and helps you make sure you stick to your long term goals. A personal trainer, exercise group, workout buddy, or even just an active friend can inspire you with their dedication, commitment, or resilience, and often you can inspire them as well.

These are just a few of the tools you could use to make sure a missed workout doesn’t become a pattern, but there are many others. Take some time this week and ask yourself, what can I use to keep myself on track? Are there any groups that will support my goals, or are there any friends who might have goals similar to my own? What will motivate me to keep going when life gets in the way? What are some other tools I can use to make sure I don’t quit when my life gets complicated?

No matter what your commitment to fitness is and what your goals are, using these tools to help keep you on track can make the difference between a short term change and a life long transformation. A missed workout is no big deal, but every  Often we put too much emphasis on personal will power in fitness. Sure having will power is great, but having support is even better. It’s not about doing it all on our own, instead its about just getting it done.

Thanks for reading and Be Well,


The Illusion of Choice – Be Happy

I had a conversation with a good friend recently about the nature of choice. I realized that many of us have this idea that choice is a good thing, that helps us find happiness and peace.

After all, if I can choose what I want, then I will choose that which will make me happy. We fear being limited in our choices or from having our choices taken away from us. We are jealous of people who have more talents, more money, more friends, and more opportunities, because we think they have more choices than we do.

We believe if we were like them we would be happy, because then we could choose the things that would make us happy. But is this really true? If we had the ability to choose whatever life we wanted, would we choose one that actually made us happy?

Or maybe even more importantly, why do we think the choice to be happy is the same as the choice to choose whatever lifestyle we want?

Lack of choice is a human rights issue for many people, especially people who suffer under poverty or oppression. I’m not suggesting that promoting oppression would help people be happy, but I think it’s important we dispel the illusion that, more choices make us more happy.

I have had a lot of jobs in my life, probably just shy of 100 or so. I was able to have all those jobs, because I pick up skills quickly, I was raised in a stable healthy family, and I received a good education. I had lots of resources and I could have chosen almost any kind of path I wanted, but for years I made a choice to avoid life in subtle ways and to choose dissatisfaction.

So many people do this in all walks of life. Instead of choosing to be happy with whatever they have they choose to be unhappy with it. We live in a country with untold comfort and luxury.

Most of us don’t have to fear violence, starvation, rampant illness, or societal instability. Yet we choose to be dissatisfied with our lives. We are told that we should be smarter, wealthier, have more friends, drink more kinds of coffee, buy more organic food, be more beautiful, be more fit, and more, more, more.

Yet this more rarely makes us happy. We are hiding the fundamental choice. The choice to be happy.

This is the simplest and hardest choice in a way. It is really a choice of faith. It’s a choice of choosing our own flawed, complicated, imperfect, silly, awkward lives. It’s the choice to smile, simply because smiling both manifests happiness and is the manifestation of happiness.

It’s a choice to appreciate what we have even if others have ‘more.’ It’s a choice to let others have ‘more’ and be happy for them. It’s a choice to love ourselves and our lives just as they are. Sounds simple right? Yet it is a very hard thing to do, because there are so many forces inside and out that point out what’s wrong.

Our civilization is built on the ability to solve problems, but that means sometimes we try to find problems when their aren’t any. We have the brains of people who have tamed nature and crossed the globe, but most of our problems now aren’t at that scale.

At least the problems we focus all of this BIG MIND energy on aren’t aren’t to that scale. Instead of using this sledgehammer to pound at our little anxieties, what if instead we chose to work on a more fundamental problem: the problem of being able to choose to be happy.

Take time this week to look at places in your life where you are choosing dissatisfaction. What if you chose to be satisfied instead? Try smiling during the day even if you don’t feel like it. When you are walking around ask, “What look do I have on my face?” It can feel fake and forced at first, but remember smiling does create happiness. They’ve done studies. It’s like totally science and stuff. Try it out for yourself and see what the effects are.

If choice is something you value, try everyday to make the choice that is always available  Make the choice to be happy, at first is small ways and eventually in bigger ways. You will be surprised how this simple intention manifests itself in everything you do.

Thanks for reading and Be Well.


The Eulogy Project: 7 Habits

If you’ve been reading my blog you know I’ve been writing posts related to what I’ve been reading in the book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Steven Covey.

One of the exercises that Covey encourages the reader to do, is to write in detail about your own funeral and eulogy.

It is in the part of the book that discusses habit two, “Start with the end in mind.” Writing about your own funeral may seem morbid to some people, but it can be a very powerful experience.

Covey encourages the reader to ‘access the right side of the brain, by using imagery and details.’ He talks about how this enables you to access a more holistic part of yourself.

In our world the left, or more logical side of the brain, is often favored. I know that I rely heavily on my logical mind, so I welcomed this exercise as way to peer deeper into my more intuitive ‘right brain.’

I wrote out a description of my funeral in great detail. I tried to include scents, sounds, and what people were doing as they talked.

As I wrote I found myself getting caught up in the story and it often felt like the words were writing themselves. I described the different people who were there, from friends and sangha members, to my family and professional colleagues.

Then I listened as one person from each group talked about my life. I tried my best to listen as I spoke through them in my narrative.

One of the first things that surprised me was that I wrote about a business partner and a professional mentor being at my funeral. These are two people I don’t have in my life right now, but as I wrote I realized that I want to have people like this in my life.

One aspect of visualization is that often hidden desires have a chance to surface. Our logical mind might think, ‘it’s silly to imagine you have a business partner, you don’t even have a business yet,’ but our imagination can reveal what we desire.

Moving forward with that clarity, we can be more aware of opportunities to fulfill that desire. I know that I will now be looking at other people I meet as potential mentors and business partners.

By being open to that desire I am much more likely to see that opportunity for a great partnership.

Next I wrote from the perspective of a member of my spiritual community (sangha in Buddhist terms). They talked about how I blended spiritual teaching into my everyday life. I was already aware that I valued this blend, but visualizing someone from my community saying it helped me see how important it really is.

Often we hold things we value at a distance from our selves. We do this out of fear that maybe we can’t make it happen. Perhaps you really want to run a half marathon, but because you think you can’t do it, you try not to think about it.

When we visualize, the logical part of our brain can’t come in and say ‘you can’t,’ instead we are free to dream what we want. In truth your dreams are not as far out of your reach as you think. Visualizing helps us see what is possible and what our hearts long for.

Another person who spoke at my funeral was a close friend. They spoke about loyalty and how I was there when they needed me, but they also spoke about how I pushed them.

Often I have felt that my tendency to push and challenge people might annoy my friends. When I visualized my friend saying they appreciated being pushed, I realized that my perception of that as a weakness wasn’t accurate. When we visualize, our judging mind is less active.

The logical side of the brain that keeps score isn’t tracking and so the underlying value of something has a chance to surface. I realized that I enjoy people that support me, but also push me to become better.

It makes perfect sense that my close friends would value the same things. The intuitive side of ourselves can often see more contours of truth. Outside of keeping score and judging many of the traits we label ‘weaknesses’ are the contours that make us unique and special to others.

Finally I heard from a member of my family. For this I visualized a son. The things he said are kernels of wisdom I hope to pass on and many of them were given to me by my father.

My visualized son talked about integrity and love. He talked about how I saw and heard the people in my life; how I inspired and challenged them.

The last thing he said touched me the most. He said that everything I did in my life was an expression of the deep love I had for other people.

This reveals a belief that I have long held, but rarely admit.  I realized that I want very much to embody that love in my life. In big gestures, but also in all the little things that I do. I want to live a life guided and embedded with love.

Visualization can often bring to light a fundamental vow that we don’t want to admit. We might think that vow is idealistic or childish. We might be ashamed, because we aren’t living up to that aspiration.

This kind of visualization can cut through that guilt or doubt and reveal the truth of our hearts. I write daily vows, but none of them contained the vow to embed love into everything I do.

My logical mind, who makes the lists, can’t really understand that vow. It’s a BIG VOW.

Visualization gives us a chance to see our big vow, our big heart, and our big dream.

By starting with the end in mind, we can see if the path we are on is pointing us to that BIG VOW or not.

I don’t think that I will always be able to live up to these highest of principles, but I know I will live a better life if I try. If I point my life in the direction of my BIG VOW, in big and little ways, I’ll be moving in the right direction.

It’s important to remember that our BIG VOW is not fulfilled by achieving at what we aim. Just walking the path to our BIG VOW, IS the the fulfilling of the vow. The two are not separate.

Take some time to write your own funeral and eulogy, or if that is too involved maybe just your obituary. Start with list of things you’d want said about you. One list for family, work etc. You may be surprised by what is on the list and what isn’t.

I noticed that there were several things that weren’t in my eulogy that I worry about. No one talked about me dating allot of attractive women, or finishing high in my triathlon age group, or having stylish clothes. Part of keeping the end in mind is learning what to leave out.

Thanks for reading and Be well.


A gift to your future self – 7 habits

    So I’ve recently been reading the 7 Habits by the wonderful Dr. Covey. One of the things he suggests in the book is that you read the book with an eye towards teaching the concepts to others.

So I thought one way to make that really hit home for me is to write a few blog posts about my reflections on the concepts he presents in relation to finding balance in both body and mind. 

    One of the concepts he introduces early on is the idea of finding a balance between P, which stands for production and PC, which stand for production capability. It’s kind of like making coffee:  Coffee is the product, while the Coffee Maker is the production capacity. The goal is to find a balance between these two, so that we produce the best product, while keeping our capacity at a sustainable level. 

    Often when we exercise we have a hard time striking the balance between the two, because they are both very intimate to us.

When we seek balance through fitness, our bodies are both the P and the PC in this equation. We use our body, to improve our body. Of course there is something very poetic about that as well.

In one way, it’s very easy to maintain this balance, because the more effort we put into our body, the P, the more we build our fitness, the PC, which lets us put more effort into P. 

The problem comes when we separate ourselves from our bodies. When we make our bodies the problem. 

No matter what your fitness level, your body is a product of 2 things:
1.Your karmic patterns.
2. Your mind. 

    Let’s take a quick look at the first.

Your body is a very clear example of karma. Karma can be very complicated, but fundamentally it’s just cause and effect. You body is the result of a combination of causes.

Things like heart disease are caused by family history (genetic cause), how active you were growing up (past cause), and what your diet is life (nutrition cause). This isn’t supposed to make you critical of your actions.

Instead thinking this way encourages us to notice,  ‘oh my body is a combination of factors some of which I can control, some of which I can’t. This also means that your future body will be a result of current causes and conditions.

I’m never going to be 6ft tall no matter how fit I get, but depending on what I do today I can change how fit I am in the future. What I do today is a gift to my future self. What gift do I want to give? 

    The second factor is your mind. Not only is our body image largely determined by our mind, but also our actual body represents the way in which our mind turns.

Karma starts with a single thought, which then turns into repeated thoughts or actions or both. Those thoughts and actions turn into patterns, but it is all dependent on that original thought.

When we bring more awareness to our minds we make it possible to see our thoughts and step in between them and the things that come afterwards. 

    Awareness it the key to transforming our way of thinking. By acknowledging that our current body is the result of past factors and past states of mind, it becomes clear how important it is to have a compassionate attitude and approach to our fitness journey.

If we make our body the enemy to achieve fitness, we are focusing on the P but not the PC. We are focusing on the effects, but not the causes of our future self.

Fitness must start with a gratitude for the body we have now. Your body is the vehicle that will take you where you want to go. If you treat it with honor and respect you will be giving your future self a body that has been honored and respected.

If you treat it with disdain and criticism, you give your future self a body that has been criticized. Which body do you want to give yourself? 

    Take sometime at the end of the day or before you workout to reflect on all the good things your body has done for you. Reflect on how it’s carried you along, digested your food, helped you do work, and all the other things you can do because you have a body.

Then take some time to think about and write down the gifts you want to give your future self. More ease, more confidence, a half marathon finish, appreciation, whatever it is remember that your future self is relying on this very body, this very mind, to help it manifest.

Your body and your mind are your companions, your teammates on the path to a balanced life.