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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Drive Past "How."


Why do we sometimes become numb in the wake of our greatest opportunities?  When our desires start manifesting often it can be scary or overwhelming.  Suddenly our minds start racing with endless scenarios, routes, and roadblocks that don’t even exist.  We immediately start panicking and exhausting our peace over the very thing that should be bringing us bliss.  But why?  Well, if you’re like me maybe you’re caught up in the “how” of it all. 
So often when we have some giant venture approaching we become paralyzed by the daunting question, “how?”  How am I ever going to get this done? How am I ever going to find the time?  HOW!!  Well, first off, by not asking “how” is how you’ll get it done.  When we ask “how” constantly we’re not trusting in what we’ve set out for ourselves, or more importantly what our desires are revealing to us.  No one ever knows how anything is going to get done because the how is unimportant.  The “do” is… the action of making it happen.  Sounds so simple but it’s hard to put into practice. 
Think of driving in the dark.  When you’re driving home from work late at night you know that home is the final destination.  Now, before you get in the car you don’t stop and think, “how the hell am I going to get home!? It’s so dark!”  You just start driving.  Your headlights can only reveal so much road before you… your headlights can’t see 20 miles ahead of your car, but you continue to journey home taking the road one mile at a time.  You know where you’re headed and yes you can’t see the path in front of you, but your headlights reveal more and more of the road as you go.  You are driving!   
We have to be drivers!  Once you start driving you find that it’s not nearly as bad as you thought.  But we have to be willing to start the car and go.  Throw the car in reverse, put your foot on the pedal… easy!  See, we don’t even think about it, we just do.  We venture out into the darkness knowing we will reach our destination.  Our headlights will reveal the way home one-mile at a time.  Why can’t our work of manifesting our desires be the same way?  You know what you want… that’s what matters.  If you know what you want in your life, that’s where you start.  The drive to that destination will be revealed one mile at a time.  Don’t get overwhelmed by the big picture or the “how,” just focus on the first thing in front of you.  Inevitably that will lead somewhere else which will lead somewhere else, and so on. 
Know what you want and start building it one task at a time.  There is no “how” or “when” because everything will be revealed in good time if you are in line with your desires.  Just like Rihanna said, “Baby, you got the keys.  Now shut up and drive!”  Oh yeah, I went there!  Maybe it won’t be as scary as you thought, or maybe it’s more terrifying than you ever imagined!  Either way you’ll have learned something and will forever be changed.  How can you take action today towards your greatest opportunity?  I’d love to hear in the comments.
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“The best way out is always through” - Robert Frost
“Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking.” -William B. Sprague


Monday, November 26, 2012

“Feel the Fear and Do It Anyways.”


My journey in Columbus has ended.  THE LITTLE DOG LAUGHED to see such sport, and everyone from cast, crew, to audiences alike shared in the poignant hilarity.  When I left New York to do this show, an inkling to re-focus my energy into something different kept nudging me.  Obviously I’m still an actor and writer but something was calling while I was in Columbus and visiting Ann Arbor.  People were thrown in my path offering new routes to where I’m ultimately headed... as if the Universe was whispering, “Listen...” So, I did.    

And sooooo… drum roll please haha… I’m going to be back in Ann Arbor for the next 6 months or so to produce my show MY OTHER VOICE.  While I was visiting Ann Arbor during my weeks off I kept having these chance encounters with different key individuals in the artistic and health industry in and around Michigan.  Specifically, a big health movement that’s going on called, “Get Healthy Michigan” (http://gethealthymichigan.com).  This movement is one that I’m very passionate about: holistic approaches, energy healing practices, nutritional advisement, and learning how to shy away from pharmaceuticals. People are sick, suffering, and confused… yet, there are healing practices out there that many are unaware of and it’s time to reveal them.  I became immersed with the build up of energy around this topic but was stuck as to how I could help.  Then chance meetings with key professors at Michigan also started to nudge me in a different direction.  Well, two days later I get a call from the man running all of this asking if I wanted to help by producing my play in Ann Arbor.  He had seen MY OTHER VOICE in Columbus and thought it was a great way to inspire a movement.  But wait!?  I’m supposed to go back to New York!  I can’t just go to Ann Arbor!  My play has to be done in New York!  New York, New York, New York…   

My fears started protesting immediately: fear of embarking on something new, fear of making the “right” choice, and fear of failing.  So for about two days my mind went to war, weighing all the pros and cons, the logistics, and all around feasibility.  But my heart was telling me to go… my soul was crying out, go Alex… face the fear!  And when my pre-determined notions of New York started to dissipate I realized it was not only the perfect timing but also made perfect sense. 

I have an amazing community in Ann Arbor full of artistic people who are willing to help, the story is set here, the local Hospital is a great springboard, and ultimately I’m doing everything I’ve always wanted… writing, acting, performing… just not in New York, or not yet.  I haven’t really written about this but as most of you know my voice is what used to define me.  Everyday my thoughts were consumed with singing, and honestly they still are.  But a giant shift happened when I lost it all and I went from a narcissistic performer to one who now realizes that everyone in this world is blessed with certain gifts, and those gifts should be used to better humanity.   Somewhere along the way I lost that clarity, then when I lost my voice, I started to believe all the Doctors who were saying, “you may never sing again.”  Again, fear.  But then I reminded myself of the power of the mind, shifted my focus, and started telling myself, I can singI will sing for other people.  Once my mind committed to the affirmation, my body began to respond.  Of course it’s a process, but I am singing again! 

So not only will I be here producing the world premiere of MY OTHER VOICE but I’ll also be joining the class of 2013 for the Senior Showcase this year.  I’ll finally have the chance to showcase in New York and will also have a wonderful show that’s been produced as well.  Now, I’m not expecting the Showcase to dramatically change my life, it’s not about that… it’s about accomplishing something that was taken away from me.  It’s about moving past Doctors telling me I’d never sing again and proving once and for all that you can do anything you put your mind to.  The expectations are unimportant, but the clarity, focus and peace of mind are.  

So Ann Arbor, here I come… Again!  But this time not as a selfish student only concerned with himself: instead, as a vehicle of hope, inspiration, and knowledge.    

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From Susan Jeffers, “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyways:” 

“Truth 1. The fear will never go away as long as I continue to grow.
Truth 2. The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and do it.
Truth 3. The only way to feel better about myself is to go out… and do it.
Truth 4. Not only am I going to experience fear whenever I’m on unfamiliar territory, but so is everyone else.
Truth 5. Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the underlying fear that comes from a feeling of helplessness.”

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Give the Gift of Presence


“Tweet, tweet, ring, ding, buzzzzzzzz… buzzzzz…”  The symphony of Smartphones begins.  Today is another day where we’re constantly barraged with information, constant connection, and opportunity.  If you don’t have a smartphone you’re behind the times.  I remember when I first got my sleek iPhone I kept saying, “How did I ever live without this?”   They have everything you could ever want: your camera, music library, gps, phone, alarm clock, calendar, reminders, email… anything you can think of.  Amazing, right?!  Of course it is!  We are living in an age where tasks get done at lighting speed.  An age where communication is best received over email, phone calls are vanishing, and face to face interactions are rare.  There’s too much to do!  Thankfully our smartphones help us get it all done. 

And I’m absolutely thankful for my smartphone.  But I also find myself missing out on life sometimes.  By being connected to everything I’m actually not connecting to anything.  Just the other day I was having lunch with a teacher I hadn’t seen in a couple months and halfway through I realized we were both checking our phone with every little buzz and jungle. 

“Tell me about your students!?” I ask.  Buzz….  My eyes quickly dart to the screen without hesitation. 

“They’re great…. Project… learning a lot,” I hear her reply. 

“Uh huh, that’s great!”  I respond.  Send! “What’s the project about?”  …Then comes the realization that I wasn’t listening at all.  How could I?  How can anyone be in two places at once?  It’s impossible.  But wait, that person who texted needs a response!  If I don’t send that email right away the opportunity may pass!  Well, yeah, but I have to take this call!  I get it, I really do.  And that’s what’s so difficult, balancing responsibilities while staying present in the moment.  So how do we do it?

First, by being aware.  The greatest gift you can give anyone is your presence… period.  And don’t they deserve it?  Well, you do too.  You see when we’re constantly worried about the future, or answering so and so immediately, we’re never truly living in the present moment.  Sure, we’re “focused” on the person before us, but our mind is somewhere else.  Our mind is focused on the million things we have to accomplish, the people who are waiting to hear from us, the pins on pinterest; meanwhile, life is passing before our eyes, or before our smartphones. 

This summer when I was in Cape Cod my friends and I decided to have ONE day where we hid our phones and all the clocks.  We made a vow that we would disconnect from the world… a smartphone fast.  What’s so hard about that?!   The day started and we had no idea what time is was… the day ended and still we had no idea what time it was.  The only thing we did know is that we had been absolutely present in every given moment.  Our thoughts seemed to live in peace.  We connected to each other in ways we hadn’t before.  We were forced to have real human interactions.  In the end, we were more than grateful that we buried our smartphones. 

Now, that was on a Sunday, and when Monday rolled around we started the rat race again.  You can’t bury your smartphone and become invisible to the world around you.  But can we have a better sense of awareness?  Can we give the gift of our presence to someone?  By thinking, “The little buzz, phone call, and tweet can wait,” you’re actually saying, “You are important to me!”  Nothing is more important than the person before you or the life around you.  Take it in and you’ll find yourself more alive than ever… present to receive life’s presents. 

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Whenever you meet anyone, no matter how briefly, do you acknowledge their being by giving them your full attention? Or do you reduce them to a means to an end, a mere function or role? A moment of attention is enough. You are no longer acting out a script, you become real."

-Eckhart Tolle


Thursday, November 22, 2012

Grace...



Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  On days like this we are constantly reminded to be grateful.  This got me thinking… what if everyday was a reminder?  Is that such a hard concept to imagine?  I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching lately and have found, truth be told, living in a state of grace can be difficult.  I’m the first to admit that I can be pretty damn selfish.  Often caught up in my own ambition, desires, and motivations: practically unaware of life around me.  Ultimately, this leads to frustration, overwhelming thoughts, and lack of purpose.  

That’s why on days like Thanksgiving we have a unique opportunity to come back to what really matters… fabulous friends, flattering family, fatty foods (go ahead, cheat), fortified faith, faulty falsettos (insert as many f’ word as you see fit)… The list is endless and everyones remains unique.  No matter what our circumstance or our “perceived” lack we always have the opportunity to be grateful.  And when we remind ourselves of this grace we begin to realize that there are more important things than ourselves.  

Here’s a little practice I’ve been trying every day that may or may not work for you.  A while ago my girlfriend gave me a small wooden carving from Jamaica as a gift.  Obviously the gesture was enough to make me grateful but I decided to take it a step further.  I attached the wooden token to my keys and now every time I touch the token I say one thing that I’m grateful for.   Every time my fingers run across the etching I immediately think, “I’m grateful for (      ),” no matter where I am or what I’m doing.   Surprisingly, every time I do this energy is restored, worries begin to vanish, and the perspective of my environment changes.  A grateful token can be anything: a penny, a poster, a pan, a picture, a paperclip (oof… a little alliteration happy today)… ANYTHING.  Try coming up with one of your own and see what happens when you have to interact with it every day. 

What are you grateful for today?  Can we try and be grateful everyday?  Take the challenge with me! 
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"Gratitude is heaven itself." - William Blake