Walking and Not Sleepwalking

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I am really grateful that I have had a relatively easygoing two weeks. Of course, I have experienced some anxiety attacks while getting back behind the wheel and dealing with other life experiences, but it can always be worse. Lucky for me that I have a wonderful support system and frames of reference to rely on.

There has been some progress on thesis work, I’ve begun reworking it. It now more theory-oriented. My justification has been that instead of having to deal directly with IRB and other bureaucratic governing bodies, I can at least have more freedom and less constriction by simply working around that. Less stress-inducing experiences the better. So I’m pretty confident in what I’m writing.

I spoke with a pal of mine and we hit it off in conversation, discussing the gaping holes in the abstract. It has helped make my foundation a bit stronger and for that I will always be thankful. Next steps are outlining Table of Contents with detailed names and completing my bibliography/literature review. I can do this, pushing my thesis to Summer II may very well end up the best decision.

To ease up on my driving anxiety, I am also taking a Defensive Driving Course online. I really believe that my anxieties build up and play a sort of domino effect, crippling good decision-making. I’m remedying that by re-educating myself on the driving aspect, to eliminate that stress. Let the record reflect that I really fucking hate driving and that I feel much safer with walking. That being said, it may be that it is a necessary evil and that I have to redirect my paradigm. So this is that. I am a careful and aware driver that obeys the law. As long as I am observant and astute to the conditions and drivers on the road, I will have safe passage from destination-to-destination. So say we all.

A lot of shifts are happening right now, I may or may not have to cancel plans. There are limitations that we all face, but it’d be nice if all I had to worry about was myself. That said, I’ve got to eliminate the selfish bullshit that floats in my cranium and move forward. Family comes first. Gotta have that mindset in the meantime.

On the physical activity side of life, I’ve been able to consistently eat well and exercise by running/jogging. It’s been a very enjoyable practice and discipline forming venture. Granted, I did deviate from both for two days or so this week. I am absolving myself of guilt because I know that this is not a repeat performance. I’m back on track today and it is something that shouldn’t phase my long-term plans.

Cinema I recommend: The Aviator (2004), The VVItch (2016), Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and Jane The Virgin.

Currently listening to: A Love Supreme: The Complete Masters, Michael Chabon interview, and WTF with Marc Maron (William Friedkin interview).

Facebook pages I dig: C. Rodriguez Art, The Domestic Geek, and SciBabe.

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Shedding Skin

shaun

I felt like deleting my older Facebook today, so I could fully transition to a new one. It’s like when a snake molts, one needs to rid of excess to grow. It’s time to commit to growth.

A lot has happened in January and February. I fell into infatuation and connected to someone I felt on the same wavelength with. Unfortunately it didn’t work out. There were some deal-breakers and I decided to move forward, why deny both of us long-term happiness? So that experience ended and I learned so much.

Then a few weeks ago I almost died and for some reason I didn’t. It’s the second time in my life that I’ve nearly died and I don’t believe in coincidences. For awhile I needed to take inventory in my life. It’s a scary thing, living. I threw up and felt violently ill the next day. I really felt like my mind, body, and spirit was committing to a system reset. It felt awful.

And then I felt better. And I promised myself that I would commit to living. So I’m shedding pieces of myself. Pieces of my identity.

I am rebuilding. I am responding. I am re-living.

Films I recommend: Crimson Peak, Steve Jobs, and Bridge of Spies.

More Films I recommend: Wild, Chef, and Speed Racer (I LOVE SPEED RACER).

Currently listening to: Steve Jobs (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Facebook pages I dig: OUTER HÆVEN, Pride Home, and Chef Stef

 

 

vision without execution is merely hallucination

…but let’s talk about dreams. There is also another saying, “A dream without a plan is just a wish.” Does that make dream and hallucination one in the same and if so, are visions the only useful thing to realize? The short answer: I reject that notion.

Dreams are glimpses into a future.

Visions are glimpses into your future.

The difference lies between the layers of ownership. Let’s shift to a jumping metaphor. When we dream, we momentarily jump onto an opportunity to grow mentally, physically, or spiritually. A vision is a step above dreaming. Maintaining a vision is taking many jumps along a path. Although there are a series of barriers, visionaries continue to overcome them. We’ve taken ownership of our dream and taken action with a designed path leading toward accomplishing an end goal.

If I dream of writing a novel and becoming an author, I’ll pick at it every once in a while as I go through my daily work routine. I ponder occasionally with a flash of inspiration but allow my thoughts to dissipate. Life gets in the way and list excuses. But maybe I take a step to write a thousand words but I stay in a rut when I don’t find my muse or a spark of genius does not strike me. Visions remain dreams when they are stopped by obstacles or a lack of effort.

Visionaries face the same obstacles as dreamers. The difference is in approach. Occasionally Visionaries stumble into pitfalls or bumps along the path but they recover. Failure doesn’t impede their drive and determination. Visionaries have failed many times over. Failure is part of the process.

But there are worse things than failure. Worse than lacking a cohesive vision. Every dream has the potential to degenerate into hallucination. Hallucination is a vicious cycle of non-productivity. It can take the form of whining, complaining, gossip, or criticism. We jump once but stay in the same place. What begins as an optimistic opportunity becomes a negative routine or habit. No action is taken again. No endeavor accomplished. We become disillusioned and squander any opportunities we have. Larger systematic forces close in and crush our spirit. What if replaces I did. Hallucinations are dreams that go nowhere.

Here is a way to defeating the beast of hallucination. After dreaming, but prior to writing my novel I take inventory and establish my long-term goals and milestones. An audience is anticipated. Publishers or contacts within a network are established. I follow through with research, outlining, and a specific goal of 1,000 words a day. I cultivate a system I have defined or designed for myself based on principles that enable maximum productivity and efficiency. On the way toward a self-designated path, I become a visionary.

Yet, to feed a vision, we need to be conscientious in our planning, action, and flexibility. By taking action and being actively reflective throughout the process about our situatedness we can work out a path that allows the vision to be achieved. That is not enough. We must not fall in love with our planning and maps. Plans may have to be scrapped. Maps may stagnate new possibilities. In lean and changing times, visionaries must be flexible, it is a necessity.

It is dangerous to dream and it is dangerous to hallucinate. Both vary in their respective fatality. You can break a system or a system will break you.

Dreaming ultimately serves a vision. Dreaming is the first step, a platform to jump from. Visionaries cannot let fear of failure prevent them from achieving something greater. Something new.

advice is free, talk is cheap, listening is expensive

A lot of people give advice, most of which is unsolicited and unhelpful. Suppose then that when one does seek it, very few folks listen. Truly listen. It takes someone special to do more than merely hear. When we sit down and focus intently and astutely on someone—without judging them, without projecting onto them—something meaningful can be created in the space of a conversation.

I tend to forget that. Sometimes I ramble or tune out. Sometimes I don’t respect their story or time. But there is a difference between talk and dialogue.

We should perhaps gravitate towards the latter rather than the former. Time is a form of currency. Something infinitely more valuable than money. Making time for dialogue is important. Instead of haphazardly spending our time, we consider investing it in more listening, more dialogue. It takes more energy and nuance to make discernment when choosing between having a talk or having a dialogue. That means selecting or rejecting conversation. That means being actively engaged. That means being more mindful.

The dividends are worth it.

2014 retrospective

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.”
Confucius

2014 was a banner year for my growth and self-development, here is a brief list:

1. Overcoming Adversity

Mom suffered a stroke and heart attack that left her partially paralyzed but still faintly talking. Another stroke two weeks later stripped her of her ability to talk and move. It has been the hardest year of my life as responsibilities have increased tenfold. Luckily, with dad earning a better job, Pete and Tori being strong, and my friends providing a pillar of support, things are steadily improving. My goal is to bring mom home and help her recover as best as we can.

2. Returning to School

After a hiatus from my graduate program, I restarted and have thankfully had the opportunity to continue my studies. In the time I have spent back, I have worked toward aligning my own interests in community engagement with my thesis project. I couldn’t be more fulfilled than when I discovered what I wanted to contribute to my academic and non-academic communities. I plan to graduate December 2015.

3. Publication

Although my main writing focus have been assignments in my coursework, I have continued to publish numerous advertorials in my local newspaper. I’m glad that it has also afforded me enough experience to begin freelancing outside of the area.

4. Directing a short film

After many years of excitement and talk since childhood, I took the necessary steps to realize a short film project with trusted collaborator Johnny. Ultimately, I’m very proud of engaging with talented actors and realizing a script that I co-wrote. It has provided me with a boost of confidence to continue forward and pursue various other projects that have been simmering for the past year. I have already written another short that will serve as my next project.

5. Beginning The Steps Toward A Healthier Me

I obsess over a lot of little details and various aspects of social interactions that become wasted moments of life. Over the course of the year I have become better at letting go and breathing, allowing those pointlessly stressful thoughts to leave my mind. Disengagement has allowed me to take action instead of merely contemplating situations.

6. A Return of the Reader

Although I have consumed a fair bit of literature in terms of magazines, online articles, academic journals, and digital media I had really fallen out of engagement with traditional print books. I’ve successfully completed the following works (excluding e-texts): “Steal Like An Artist”, “Show Your Work!”, “The Four-Hour Work Week”, “Serial Killers”, “Hyperbole and a Half”, “The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Screenwriters”, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, “The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything”, “Writing Movies For Fun and Profit”, “What They Don’t Teach You At Film School”, “The 33 Strategies of War”, “The Art of Seduction”, “The 50th Law”, “Mastery”, “The Power of Habit”, “The Obstacle is the Way”, and “Deschooling Society”. While I am happy that I have read more printed books, I feel the urge to begin curating a more unified collection for next year.

7. A Sense of Purpose

The biggest accomplishment in 2014 was simultaneously finding and creating my own purpose in the world. After taking a hiatus from teaching due to my mother’s stroke I reflected and came to terms that I was disappointed in the current United States educational system. Not only disappointed but frustrated with its limitations. This prompted me to reexamine my thesis project on community literacy and actively begin the blueprints of a literacy center for my region in the Rio Grande Valley.

8. Other Things

I’ve been blessed to live another year and although it has been rough, these experiences have continued to mold me into a better human being. Each day I learn something new about myself and I will continue to gain new insights both personally and professionally throughout 2015.

making art

Every overnight success begins with at least a hundred failures. These may be major. These maybe minor. At the end of the day, one chalks it up to experience and begins again.

Biographies of successful people never share the failures. And yet they happen all the time:

A.) Stephen King’s first novel was rejected 30 times.
B.) Oprah Winfrey gave birth at age 14 and lost her child.
C.) Franklin Roosevelt became partially paralyzed at 39.
D.) Steven Spielberg was rejected from USC, twice.

Despite the setbacks, did these people give up? Some days may be worse than others because of negativity. Some people are going to try to put you down. Some situations are going to beg you to give up.

It all comes down to a simple choice. Will you stop or will you continue on? There is no magic formula for success. There are no one-size-fits-all recipes. There are no easy answers. It takes hard work to make your success. It takes as Edward James Olmos once said: “ganas.”

Ganas!

When you fail. When you feel down in the dumps. When the world is crashing around you. Keep working on that success. Do the research. Manage your time. Keep creating.

I fail every single day. And I am going to keep failing until I get it right. One of the films that inspires me to this day is Batman Begins.

Alfred asks Bruce, “Why do we fall?”

“So we can learn to pick ourselves up again.”

That is the key. Despite what your friends and family may tell you. Despite what your co-workers or boss may tell you. Despite what the universe may tell you. Pick yourself up from Perdition. Surround yourself with people that make you happy or contribute to bettering yourself in every way. Listen to your mind, body, and soul!

I needed to release some positivity out into the world because it has been one of those rough patch periods. I hope this gives you some inspiration to be the best version of yourself earning your best life; you deserve it! Have a wonderful week. #CarryTheFire

The Mutation of a Film Logline!

I am currently working on the breakdown of a short film that a friend and I briefly toyed with at this past Sunday’s REFRESH shoot. I had a couple of ideas before hitting the hay but did not have a clear idea of what I wanted it to be. The wacky B-movie science fiction romp is still being experimented on in terms of plot but it made sense to start with a LOGLINE to provide a clear, concise synopsis to guide me as I beat out and eventually write/rewrite the short. This is in order to better hone my skills as a screenwriter and can potentially help those of you working on your own screenplays. Continue reading