Uncomfortably Numb

Have you ever experienced emotional pain?
Have you ever wanted to take the edge off?
Have you ever numbed yourself to the physical and emotional discomfort of life?

I have. And I am surprised it didn’t kill me.

I’ve drank heavily.
I’ve smoked too much.
I’ve shopped. I’ve fed. I’ve starved. I’ve drugged. I’ve sexed. I’ve lied.
I’ve gambled with my life.

I attempted, in seemingly infinite ways, to not feel the load of my life.
I externally sought every source imaginable to
lessen my awareness to my responsibilities, my requirements, to what’s mine to do.

I could feel myself dying.

I was uncomfortably numb,
and that was the problem.

People are convinced that numbing works,
and that feeling nothing is feeling better.
But you’re not without feeling when you’re numbing.
You just feel less sensitively. You feel with less specificity.
But that doesn’t mean you feel less in general.
You feel more.

Your feelings linger louder, longer, and seem to lack any root of provocation.

When your feeling dulls, you lose your responsiveness.
Your environment fully exerts its force and will upon you.
You are no longer an active participant in your life.
You are dying one numbing moment at a time.

Isn’t that what it means to be dead?
When you’re dead, aren’t you no longer responsive?
If you want to die, stop responding.
And the fastest way to stop responding is to stop feeling.

Do you want to die? Or do you want to live?

Do you want to live like never before?
Do you want to live beyond your imagination?
The first step is to Feel.

Let yourself feel. Be sensitive. Be specific, without judgment.

I can promise you this,
NO ONE will ever judge you as harshly as you judge yourself.
And anyone whose judgment concerns you
comes from those that care for and love you the most.

When you begin to feel with more sensitivity and specificity,
that’s when you better feel.
And when you better feel you can better respond.
A better feel is a better response, and that’s a better life!

Feeling the physical and emotional weight of our lives
isn’t always good,
but it’s not always bad either.

Responding to life will have its challenges.
You won’t do it perfectly,
and it most certainly is not always going to be easy.

No,
It’s going to be worth it!

You’re worth it!
Can you feel it?

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Fishing Coach

I am a personal trainer and am proud to be one.
I am also probably not what you’re current conception of a personal trainer is.

If you are a personal trainer, if you know a personal trainer,
if you are receiving personal training or interested in personal training
if you move your body, eat food, or generally live
I need you to keep reading…

PERSONAL – particular to a given individual ; intimately concerning a person’s body or physical being

TRAIN – undergo instruction in preparation for a particular role ; educate, teach or refine to be discriminative in taste or judgment

according to the above definitions

PERSONAL TRAINER – one who educates, teaches, and/or refines, particular to a given individual and intimately concerning a person’s body and/or physical being, in preparation for a particular role

OK, sounds good so far
even though this doesn’t sound like most in my industry

so let’s clean this up a bit

i will highlight some arbitrary or seemingly irrelevant terms
and explore them according to the current status of my profession

one who educates, teaches, and/or refines,
particular to a given individual, and intimately concerning
a person’s body
in preparation for a particular role”

yes, i highlighted everything but the three words A PERSON”S BODY
because those three words seem to be the only thing people correctly associate with personal training
which is that, yes, your body will be involved in the process

now that i can agree with you on one conception of personal training,
that your body will be involved in the process,
let me help you with the rest

one who educates, teaches, and/or refines
to be educated or taught means that you leave with more applicable knowledge,
i.e. leave with more actionable items, than when you arrived
if you are not progressively more in control of your program
you are NOT being trained
you are being controlled

particular to a given individual
if you are doing the same exercises, stretches, poses, reps, weights,
as your “trainer”, clients, or everyone in your age group, workout group, class, or “gym”
if you are eating the same diet, same caloric, fat, carb, or protein intake
as your “trainer”, clients, or everyone in your age group, workout group, class, or “gym
if you are keeping the same sleep hours and supplement protocols, etc, etc, etc…
as your “trainer”, clients, or everyone else in your age group, workout group, class, or “gym”
it has NOTHING to do with individual particularity
and everything to do with the personal trainers 3 defining characteristics
Indolence, Ignorance, and Incompetence

intimately concerning a person’s body
intimate means being marked by a close acquaintance and familiarity
now please think about this short and easy
(yes this is such a stupid rhetorical question that i didn’t say long and hard)
is there ANYTHING or ANYONE
that you are more intimately acquainted and familiar with than yourself?..
I didn’t think so!
So regardless if your “trainer’s” initial assessment is 3 minutes or 3 days
that is in NO WAY approaching the breadth and depth that you know yourself
if you are learning to follow what your “trainer” says and not what your body says
then your program is decreasingly empowering to you and your health
and increasingly ineffective and dangerous

physical being
said another way, your Physical Existence
try these out for descriptors of your physical existence
unhappy, unsatisfied, hungry, tired, sore, hurt, injured, and in pain
and if your program ever elicits the aforementioned adjectives
you are not a client in pursuit of better health and a better body with a personal trainer
you are a masochist and your “trainer”, a sadist
(i guess that would make the gym a dungeon?)

in preparation for a particular role
The role?
A continually evolving, and progressively Better version of yourself, EVERYDAY.
What qualifies you to play that role?
Competence and Autonomy in exercise, eating and life!
How do you acquire them?
Personal Training not Personal Draining from a cookie-cutter, carbon-copy of a 1 size fits all approach

Personal Training – The Final Distillation

if you are not constantly learning and refining how you eat, exercise and live,
if you do not leave better equipped than when you arrived, EVERYTIME,
you are not personal training

if your exercise form and dietary intake looks remarkably like everyone around you,
if you are NOT eating and exercising specifically to the uniqueness of you
you are not personal training

if you are learning to rely on someone besides yourself about what is and is not good for you,
if you are NOT becoming Decreasingly dependent on your “trainer”
and increasingly dependent on yourself,
you are not personal training

if you are not in constant pursuit of bettering your physical existence each and every moment,
if you are purposefully doing ANYTHING that makes you unhappy, hungry, tired, sore and hurt
you are not personal training

so if you want to call yourself my peer
prove to me that these are not your clients primary descriptions of your “work”

and if you are interested in personal training or currently receiving “personal training”
wouldn’t  you agree that these would be necessary components
of a competent professional and a successful program?

“Give a man a fish, feed him for a day.
Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.”

Food on Trial

Do you have food “guilt”?

Do you feel guilty? or do you think guilty?

you know what it means to be guilty?
to be responsible for wrongdoing

what exactly is wrongdoing?
illegal or dishonest behavior

so then what exactly is dishonest behavior
when it comes to your food choices?

well what does it mean to be honest?
free of deceit and untruthfulness;
sincere

how can you be sincere
as it relates to your food choices?

to be sincere
means to be free from pretense or deceit
to proceed from genuine feelings

to proceed from genuine feelings
as it relates to your food choices
means to better choose foods according to
what You feel
what Your Body is asking for

to proceed from genuine feelings about Your Food
is not following some preconception of your mind
or worse following someone else’s perception of your body and its needs

to proceed from genuine feelings
when you are making food choices
is acting according to what your body wants, what your body craves

Feelings is your body’s language system
it’s specifically how your body communicates
to better meet its needs

thoughts are what arise
based on actions and feelings

Do Your current thoughts
come from Your current feelings and actions???
or from the thoughts and feelings from some other time, from someone else?

for most people “food guilt” isn’t a feeling, it’s a thought
it’s not a present thought
it’s a predetermined thought

are you guilty of food wrongdoing?
or are you guilty of You wrongdoing?

The Spotlight

All I wanted was the spotlight
It didn’t feel like enough to just be on stage

I said I wanted to help people
But I needed the spotlight to do that

The problem was I didn’t have a better act
I didn’t have anything better to say

Why would I be given center stage and spotlight
if I had nothing better for the audience?

So I’d say the same things, repeat the same act that had the light
The spotlight came and the audience listened

But it didn’t stay
I found that I had to do it louder, more arrogantly, more forcefully

But that just made me worse
and everyone watching

Eventually my spotlight was turned off
and I was asked to leave the stage

And it wasn’t until then
that I got it

You see it’s not that i didn’t want to help people
I just didn’t realize that I was one of those people

I needed help
just as much as everyone watching

I didn’t need to be important
I needed to be better

In fact important is a by-product of better
what’s better belongs in the light

I wasn’t better for others
I just acted better Than others

That’s why I was ushered off stage and lost the light
Because the better players on that stage knew something I didn’t

Shakespeare said “All the world’s a stage”
and I believe that a stage needs a spotlight

But the best act doesn’t steal the spotlight
No, I think it reflects and shines back on each person watching

A Question of Sustainability

Have you heard or do you use the word SUSTAINABLE or SUSTAINABILITY?
What does it mean? What does it refer to?
Is it misleading to the uninitiated? is it the most accurate term? or is it just wrong?

According to Wikipedia
In ecological circles the term “sustainability” is used to refer to the concept
whereby systems and organisms are “able to endure”
and “remain diverse and productive over time”
and “for humans is the long term maintenance of well-being”

That definition leads me to more questions…

Do all things”endure”?
Do all things “remain productive over time”?
How much of the natural world is marked by extinction? 99.9999999% of all organisms and groups of organisms have gone extinct.
What’s an organism? any contiguous living system, animal, plant, fungus or other micro-organisms
Then do the highest majority of natural things “endure”?

Are humans an organism? an organism of nature? a part of nature?
Do most of the parts of nature “endure”?
Then what to make of the idea of “long-term maintenance of well-being”?

What does “maintain” mean?
keep same, identical, not different, unchanged
are the parts of nature same, identical, not different, unchanging?
does “maintenance” appear to be biologically appropriate?

what about “sustainability”? what is “sustainability”?
by definition it is the ability to be maintained
is nature “maintained”?

then is “sustainability” accurate?
and worse isn’t “sustainability” the wrong direction?

If  “sustainability” is not the majority way of nature
What is?

almost every old system is replaced
it’s replaced by a newer system
but it’s not only a newer system or the next system
it’s a better system

Following this states that the way of Nature
is more than What comes next
but What’s better!

The way of nature is Better

So what’s the better question?
Is that “Sustainable”?
or
Is that Better?

The “B” Word

Guest Post By Frankie Faires

Bully

I want to thank Craig for agreeing to let me write to his audience: parents who are highly invested in their kids.  If you’re like me, you enjoy reading about Craig’s adventures in parenting.  Craig and I parent in a very similar way, as we strive to adhere to the same principles.  It’s from those principles that I wish to speak now.

I want to talk to you today about something that is very ugly, but very real.  I will be using four letter words from time to time simply because I do not want to use euphemisms for such a serious subject.  I want to talk to you about Bullying.

I recently watched the documentary BULLY.  I was very moved…moved in much the same way as the victims, the friends, and parents of the victims.  I can relate.  I was bullied in school, as well.

When viewing BULLY, I was also moved in ways that I think many were not.  I was angry.  But not just at the bullies.  Not just at the parents of bullies.  Not just at the teachers, or bus drivers, or principals, or assistant principals, or superintendents or any administrators…I was mad at the parents of the children getting bullied.  Yes, I was mad at the PARENTS OF THE VICTIMS.

I believe (as does the legal system) that a parent is responsible for the physical and psychological health of their child until that child is an adult.  Many parents will cry helpless when it comes to bullying.  “We didn’t know.”  Parents, knowing is your job.  Find a way to know.  You cannot fathom the costs of failure.

Many parents will cry helpless when it comes to schooling.  The U.S. government does not require your child to attend public school.  Yes, I know times are tough and you and your partner both have to work to make ends meet.  If your child is not safe at public school and you cannot change the environment at school, you must get them out of that school.  That is your job and it is more important than any other job.  Find a way.

That deals with the short-term priorities related to bullying, but your responsibilities extend further.  As the great American Dr. Phil says, “We’re not raising children.  We’re raising adults.”  Your job is to make sure that your child not only reaches adulthood, but reaches adulthood as a functional member of society.

Included in that description is the job of preparing that soon-to-be-adult for all foreseeable occurrences.  Those occurrences include bullies.  You will not be around, a teacher may not be around, or a police officer may not be around when your child is faced with the threat of physical violence….and God forbid your child does not survive that violent encounter.

But if your child doesn’t survive, will you be content with blaming the bully, blaming the bully’s parents, blaming the school, blaming video games, blaming the TV, blaming the culture…will you be content with blaming everything and everyone else?  Are you certain you are not culpable in your failure to prepare your child for violence?

Many say we have a “violence” problem in this country.  Bullshit.  We don’t have a violence problem.  Our problems start well before that.  There are precursors to violence.  Precursors that parents and other adults ignore.

What happens before violence?  Aggression:  The act of infringing on others’ rights…their right to psychological and physical health.

Name calling?  Aggression.  Coming into one’s bubble or peri-personal space?  Aggression.  If left unchecked, aggression can easily evolve into violence.

And so, how is aggression best addressed?  With assertiveness.  Assertiveness stems from the belief that no one is allowed to mentally or physically abuse you.  It is a psychological stance of: “How dare you talk to me that way!  How dare you come into my space!  How dare you threaten me!”  Assertiveness includes indignation over abuse.

Parents, how can your child reject verbal and physical abuse away from home if he or she receives it at home?  Good parenting is not enacted through threats and punishment. “Don’t do this or I’ll hit you” may sometimes be a necessary strategy for adults toward other adults or children toward other children, but never from an adult to a child.  There is no excuse for abuse.  Find another way.

Parents, you must teach your child assertiveness because other parents allow aggression. They minimize the harm in aggression.  “That’s just boys being boys.”  “That’s just what kids do.”  Wrong.

Not all boys, not all kids, abuse other kids.  Some do.  Kids do what they’re allowed to do.  The fragile social order can all too easily devolve into “Lord of the Flies.”  This happens when parents abdicate their role in stopping bullying…but most don’t.

Most parents on a whole do a good job of teaching our children to, “Give no shit…”  They don’t allow bullying in their household.  But far fewer do such a good job when teaching their children what to do when other parents allow bullying.  We need to teach the second half of that equation, “…Take no shit.”

The assertive “Take no shit” stance must be internalized.  Your child must believe it is NOT OK for someone to mistreat them.  If they don’t believe this, then no amount of self-defense or martial arts training will significantly help. If they do believe this, many possibly violent encounters can be defused.

But before violent encounters can be defused, acts of aggression must be addressed…immediately (Addressing things immediately is far more easily learned by your child if you address your child’s misbehavior immediately).  

If your child is called a name or otherwise verbally abused, your child must confront the bully.

Teach them to:

  • Stand up.
  • Look the bully in the eye.
  • Step towards them.
  • Project their voice and say,
  • “Don’t say that to me.”

Predictably, the bully will respond with,

  • “Make me.” or
  • “What are you gonna do about it?” or
  • “What are you gonna do about it if I don’t?”

Teach your child to say,

  • “I’m going to tell the teacher.
  • I’m going to tell my parents.
  • And someone is going to make you stop.”

Unfortunately, aggression sometimes turns to violence even when combatted with verbal assertiveness.  And sometimes that violence calls for a violent response.  And that’s not going to be easy.

Most, if not all, of the children who need to learn violence are those who are least emotionally attuned to it.  It is not going to come easily to them.  They are naturally and likely “nurture-ally” more prosocial than bullies.

They will be worried about the Bully.  They will be worried about getting in trouble at school.  They will be worried about upsetting you.  They will be worried about getting hurt.  They will be worried about hurting the Bully.  They will be worried about getting embarrassed.  They will be worried.

It is your job to address each of these worries.  It is up to you to teach them that none of those worries are more important than their physical health.  It is your job to make sure they can stand up for themselves independent of how they feel about it.  They have to believe that violence is a viable option for them.

Tim Larkin says, “Violence is rarely the answer but when it it is, it is the only answer.” 

Understand, I’m not advocating your child use anything other than the minimal effective amount of physical intervention to make the bully stop.  I am advocating for a proportionate response.  But understand what proportionate is.

One of my violence instructors, Adam Glass, and I like to describe the winner as, “…the one who is willing to go further faster.”

And even if your your child doesn’t win a fight, he signals to the bully his willingness to fight.  All things in nature, including humans, follow the path of least resistance.  To dissuade bullies, teach your child to not be the path of least resistance for that bully.

There is a child in the documentary BULLY who does just that.  He finally gets fed up with his bullies and fights…and in his words, now they just treat him “…like a normal kid.”  Will that work in all cases?  Nope.  But will it most likely work for your child?  Yes.

Here is the first thing I teach:

If your child’s personal space is invaded in any way,

instruct your child to immediately communicate,

  • “Back off.”

If the bully doesn’t comply 100%, teach them to physically remove that person from their space by doing two things:

  • Step on one of the bully’s feet
  • Push the bully in the chest as hard as they can.

Once the bully has fallen down, teach your child to move forward and say,

  • “I said, back off!” (or “don’t touch me” or whatever phrase works for your child)

NOTE:
This level of violence will often, but not always, be sufficient to end the violent encounter.  If it isn’t, ask yourself, “Do you want your child in an environment where any more violence than this is a necessity?”  

Proficiency in violence is beyond the scope of this article.  Two of my favorite sources for violence education are Tony Blauer and Tim Larkin.  I believe being competent psychologically and physically in violence is an absolute necessity.  Please educate yourself and your child to the level of competency.

After the bully no longer aggresses, teach your child to find the closest authority figure and report the incident.  And teach them to tell you about it.  And that is where you come in again.

Parents, it is so important that you emotionally regulate yourself in these situations.  Your child needs to return to a state of calm and will be unable to do so if you are not in that state yourself.  Stay calm, calm them down and take immediate action.

Let the teacher know that you are going to contact and inform the parents of the bully, the school counselor, the vice principal and principal of the occurrence….and do so, immediately.

(NOTE: Some schools have a zero tolerance policy.  But it failed to protect your child from being bullied…so your child had to take action.  Inform them of this if they decide to enforce any policies on your child.)

When you contact the bully’s parents, state what happened and ask that it not occur again.  Keep it polite, direct, and simple.

If aggression or violence occurs again, communicate to the counselor, vice principal and/or principal to inform them that if it happens again, you will be contacting the police.

Contact the bully’s parents again and inform them if it happens again, you will be contacting the police and Child Protective Services, as their child has learned violence from somewhere and this violence must be stopped.

If the aggression or violence happens again, and especially if it escalates, pull your child out of school, contact the police, CPS, and the media.

In all things, act as if only YOUR actions can make the bully stop…and don’t quit until he or she does.  I know it’s hard.  I know it’s not fair.  But it’s your job.  Make it happen.  Find a way.

If you and your child can deal with the short term physiological and psychological results of a fight, they will likely be unburdened from the psychological albatross that fear of aggression, that fear of bullies, creates.

What’s the worst that can happen if your child doesn’t learn to “take no shit?”  Your child will likely find himself or herself under the tread of that bully and other bullies their entire life.  That is a psychological burden one does not want to live with. I think it is why too many of the bullied individuals enact the ultimate act of escape: suicide.  To be honest, I don’t know if living with the fear of being bullied or killing one’s self from that fear is worse.

What’s the worst that could happen if your child does learn to “take no shit”?  Your child fights…and dies in the process.  That event is so unlikely.  So unlikely.  But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that possibility.

However, I believe that you would rather your child die by someone else’s hand…die because your child stood up, than your child die from their own hand because you didn’t teach them to stand up.  I know it’s hard…but it’s your job.  Find a way.

Your child’s psychological and physical health is no one’s responsibility but yours, as long as your child is a child.  The only way to protect your child from the world is to prepare your child for the world.  The world is filled with shit.  Shitty parents.  Shitty kids and some of those shitty kids are bullies.  Don’t be shitty yourself and leave your child unprepared.

Teach them to “Take no shit.”  Teach them to be assertive.  Teach them to be violent.  And in teaching them violence, teach them to be selective in its application.  Teach them to “Give no shit.”  It’s your job.  It’s no one else’s.  Find a way.

NOTE:

Reader, I cannot tell you what to do with your own child.  If you decide to implement any of this information, you, and only you, are responsible for what follows.  If you choose to not implement the strategies, tactics and techniques I mention, find some others that will work.  It’s your job.  Make it happen,  Find a way.

To learn more from or about Frankie Faires you can find him at
http://movementmartialarts.com/
http://areyouthemovement.com/

Fear

My 4 year old daughter loves to be physical
beyond wanting to learn skills to every sport she sees
she dances constantly,
she runs everywhere… always,
she wrestles with me and her brother whenever she can,
she climbs everything in sight
But she has never wanted to climb a tree
Except once

I wasn’t there but still she attempted the climb without me
she managed to maneuver a few feet off of the ground
but then she couldn’t go any further
she couldn’t see any way up or down
she was stuck
and she was frightened

She didn’t seek to climb another tree for quite some time
Until yesterday

As we were leaving our favorite hiking trails
she stopped just shy of the parking lot
staring at a neatly bent, low tree
and said
“Daddy I want to climb this tree!!!
BUT I’m scared”

“That’s ok” I told her
“What are you scared of?” I asked

“I don’t know. Maybe I just don’t know how to do it?” she said

“That’s ok! Can I show you how to do it?” I asked
“Oh Yes! That would be GREAT!”

So I began to teach the first few steps to getting in the tree
and before I could tell her about getting down
she was already several feet into her ascent
and yet once again stuck

She SCREAMED for help
Once again she was scared

So I helped her down
and she immediately told me what scared her
“I didn’t know how to get down!
I thought I was going to get hurt!!!”

So I instructed her on where to look and how to move
when she feels like she needs to come back down towards the ground

So she asked if she could go up again
“OF COURSE!” I said

and she went up a few feet
and then climbed back down
before she felt she was too high

although it wasn’t to the branch that she wanted to sit on
she had successfully made it up and down on a tree
and that seemed to vanquish any fear about climbing that tree

And before I could get my camera out for a pic
of what I knew came next
there she was
up the tree
sitting on the branch she so desperately wanted the competence and confidence to reach

Did I tell her to get over it? “Don’t be scared! Just do it! No Fear!”
OF COURSE NOT! ! ! ! !

She had a rational fear, an emotion, a feeling of
being stuck on a tree, feet off the ground, and hurting herself

She had a feeling, and she went with it… Good!
if she felt hungry I wouldn’t tell her to forget it, to get over it
I would ask her what she wanted to eat

She had an emotion, she listened to it and expressed it… Good!
If she was sad I wouldn’t tell her to abolish sadness
I would ask her to tell me about it
and ask what we could do to help her feel better

Fear is an emotion
an emotion is a feeling
a feeling is a way of communication

your body
thru feelings
communicates wants, needs and desires

my daughter had Fear… Great!
That doesn’t communicate weakness to her
Rather her desire, her want, her need
to do more, to do better

My daughter didn’t hide her fear
she used it

it told her what she was and was not capable of
and that she wanted and needed to learn to do something, to do more

Specifically in this case
My daughter’s fear communicated to her
that her desire to not hurt herself
was barely greater than her want to climb the tree
and her need to be more and more physically competent

it made her more aware of and attentive to
herself, her surroundings, and others

and her actions were better oriented
in the direction of what she could do
to feel better and to be better

Fear is not right or wrong
It’s not weak or strong
Afraid is not attribute of who you are
or something to seek to be without

I think it’s just an indicator of something you want

And yesterday
She got it!

CJ-Tree