The Climax is Embedded in the Inciting Incident

For those of you who would prefer to listen to this article, you can do so here...

"How can you tell when you've got a good Inciting Incident? When the movie's climax is embedded within it. 

Apollo Creed picks Rocky Balboa out of a book of fighters and says, 'I'm gonna give this chump a shot at the title.' That's the Inciting Incident of Rocky 1. As soon as we hear it, we know that the climax will be Apollo and Rocky slugging it out for the heavyweight championship of the world."  
-Steven Pressfield "Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t

Okay, this is the last time I will write on themes inspired by applying Steven Pressfield's book "Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t" (a book about writing) to the idea of authoring your own "LIFE's STORY." 

Today's final theme is this: "Embedded in the inciting incident is the climax." -SP

Why is this significant? Well, when someone is consciously writing a storyline into their life, they are looking for significance and meaning. If you write the story from what you would LIKE your story to be about, your climax will likely have you overcome adversity and come out triumphant. 

I am going to reverse engineer this part so that we can create what we WANT to have happen in our lives by identifying a theme and climax and then use them to look into our past and locate our inciting incident."

Let's begin. 

When you choose what your climax will be about, it will clarify  the theme to your story; what you learn through in the climax is the theme. To put it another way, when you place yourself in the role of the hero, the theme will be embodied in the deeper lessons of your entire story, but specifically, the climax. Also, when you choose the climax you're choosing the nature of the villain because the villain embodies the 'counter-theme' (a belief opposite to the one expressed in the theme). 

The "inciting incident" is likely to be somewhere in the past; it's the thing that put you on this path in the first place. 

Once you have chosen your theme you may have an idea of what specifically will be the climax. Just to ground this in an example, let's say your theme is that "it's never to late to start your life over." You might decide that the villain is fear of failure and at the culmination of the climax you will be celebrating your 6th year of sobriety and obtaining your PhD at 47. The climax might be your PhD confirmation and the events leading up to it. 

If you know your theme and climax you can begin to scan your history for the incident that put you on the path, the moment you realized you could never go back to the "way it was."

Let's take the example of getting sober and getting your Phd and look at it more deeply. 

Scanning through your memories it might be hard at first to know what your point of no return actually was. 

Maybe there was a night out drinking where you woke up with a head injury and no memory of what occurred the night before. You lay in a hospital terrified with no idea how you got there. As your friends and family began to fill in the blanks, you started to realize that your mind wasn't bouncing back like it always had, you also had a surprising new stutter and some of your memories were missing. 

That might be how the story begins, but the inciting incident is what followed...

Once you had basically recovered, you returned to your dirty studio apartment and saw the beer bottles and pizza boxes strewn around the place, you experienced a flood of memories of sitting around and drinking but not really having any fun, just wasting time and energy avoiding what you now can see was your potential, being held hostage by your fear of failure. 

At that moment you realized that if that head injury had killed you you would have regretted not seeing what was possible, not tapping your potential, and not using your mind to explore the meaning of life. (You can't go back to the "way it was.")

After a few weeks you did some research and discovered that it wasn't impossible for you to go back to school, so you began to take the necessary steps to make that happen. 

In real life it usually isn't such an obvious series of events. You have to filter out things that are not on the theme and you have to choose the moment when you knew you weren't going back. This step is actually a bit like being a good editor on top of being the author of your life's story. You need to know what changed you and synthesize it down to a specific incident. 

The cool thing is that once you do that your journey makes sense; you can see the climax, and ultimately your triumph, and your commitment and momentum make your success nearly inevitable. 


NOW ABOUT YOUR STORY...
If you have been following these posts, you may have a lot of ideas about the story you are writing. Hit reply or come over to the blog to share your "Inciting Incident" and the "Climax" to your life's story. And remember when one story or journey ends, another begins.

 

Every Story Has a Theme

“The concept of the Sopranos is “Let’s take a gangster and send him to a shrink. When he whacks somebody, he feels guilty about it. We’ll show a crime boss suffering internally.” - “That’s the concept of The Sopranos.” - “The theme is ““All of us are crazy in the same way. A gangster’s inner turmoil is exactly the same as that of every other affluent suburbanite with a family and a job. The only different is our protagonist regularly kills people.”” 
-Steven Pressfield
“Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t”

 

I wanted to try something new for those of you who peter to listen to new ideas, rather than read them. Today's post is also recorded for you so you can listen to it!!!! Check it out...

 

Another key idea from Steven Pressfield’s “Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t”: Every story must be about something or, put another way, “every story has a theme.”

I'm applying these ideas from Steven Pressfield's book to the idea of writing your “LIFE STORY.”

Giving your life a theme is really giving your life a meaning by way of a specific idea that runs throughout. Now of course our life’s theme can change as we grow and change, but having a theme can anchor you to what your are doing NOW so that you don’t feel ungrounded, overwhelmed, or purposeless. 

I’ve noticed that when I hear other people tell their life’s story they often tell of a moment when someone said something important to them. It’s often the moment when the protagonist (the person whose life story is being told) is introduced to their “theme.” 

For instance, the story of Madonna Buder (a.k.a. The Iron Nun) has kind of gone viral on social media. In the video below (click the image to watch) she tells of a priest who encouraged her, at age 48, to take up running as a way to “harmonize the mind, body, and soul.” The theme here is something like, “when someone harmonizes their mind body and soul they can do things that would otherwise seem impossible and that the only failure is not to try.”

 

So, the theme for my life that I am using to tell this phase of MY STORY came from two teachers and two moments. 


The first moment was when I heard an idea expressed by Steve Chandler (author of many books including his newest on addiction “Death Wish.” He said “The universe is abundant. We create limitation.” I was reading a lot of stuff online about “the law of attraction” and what Steve Chandler said had me approaching the idea of abundance totally differently.

The next moment was when I heard Brian Johnson -Author of “A Philosopher’s Note” explain the root of the word “decide.” The Latin root of the word “decide” is “decir” which means “to cut” or “to cut away.” When we decide we cut away options so we can move forward with what remains. 

The theme is this: “the universe is abundant so in order to create what we want in our lives we create limitation by deciding, by cutting away. 

What I have learned is that by spending our time not deciding, because we don’t want to lose out on something, we remain in a life of abundant possibilities and nothing to show for it. 

Using this theme I decide to be someone who takes action. To make decisions that create a certain level of risk because they cut away various back up plans, but what I get is the ability to focus on the things that remain, my highest priorities. 

Those things that remain are the things that are too important to let go of. I choose them and they become the world I commit to creating. 

Today, I have two questions for you. 

1. Does your life’s story have a theme? And, if not, what would you be willing to explore as a theme FOR NOW? 

2. What decisions can you make so that you are left with a clear path to the life you want? What will you cut away from the abundant possibilities so that what remains is the life you wish for?

Leave your answers in the comments below:

For instance, the story of Madonna Buder (a.k.a. The Iron Nun) has kind of gone viral on social media. In the video below (click the image to watch) she tells of a priest who encouraged her, at age 48, to take up running as a way to “harmonize the mind, body, and soul.” The theme here is something like, “when someone harmonizes their mind body and soul they can do things that would otherwise seem impossible and that the only failure is not to try.”

The Hero's Journey

“Be groundbreaking, be experimental if you want. But remember, the human psyche is deeply conservative and rigid as a rock.” 
-Steven Pressfield
“Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t”

Last time I wrote I talked about applying Steven Pressfield’s newest book on writing, “Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t,” to the idea of writing one’s own life story as it happens. 

The idea is that we filter the stimuli we perceive in order to be able to survive and remain sane, but that this filtering is shaping our perception of the world around us. The details that we allow in become our perceived “reality” and give a sense of validity to our beliefs. 

So how do we know what to believe? What is true? Can I relax knowing that while I am only able to grasp “some” of what is happening in the world around me, there is still a “truth” that I am experiencing?

Honestly, I don’t know, but there are clues in the following idea from Steven Pressfield’s book...

“Every genre is a version of the hero’s journey” -Steven Pressfield

Pressfield says that Carl Jung was right and that there is a collective unconscious and that myths and legends constitute the fabric of the self. He goes on to say that “The soul judges a story’s truth by how closely it comports to the narrative templates that are part of our psyche from birth.”

The “narrative templates” that he is referring to are described by Joseph Campbell as “The Hero’s Journey,” which Pressfield also describes as the “primal myth of the human race.” When you read a story, there appears to be literary conventions that are, more broadly, storytelling conventions. AND, the reason they are storytelling conventions is because they match those “narrative templates” that are a part of everyone’s psyche. 

When a story fits these conventions we find it “believable.” When a story breaks from these conventions we don’t buy it. Does the fact that we all identify with the hero’s journey make the stories that successfully contain it more true? Not when you're talking about things like fiction versus nonfiction, but on some level the stories speak to a truth that we feel and that our “soul confirms,” though often we don’t know why. 

Applying the hero’s journey to the story of your life makes it possible to see struggles as stages. It gives narrative to our lives when they might otherwise seem like a chaotic string of meaningless events. It allows you to better author your life’s story so that you can connect to a “deeper truth.”

Telling a story about why something happened is risky, particularly because sometimes the story can be about why you can’t do something. But the hero’s journey is about development, progress, growth. Frame your story in the structure of the hero’s journey and your life gains momentum and always the awareness of “the next stage.”

If you want to geek out on this like I did, or if you want to write your life story in such a way that it feels like your soul can judge it as “true” because it conforms to the primal myth of the hero’s journey, then visit this link: 
http://www.thewritersjourney.com/hero's_journey.htm and apply the template to any of the stories you’ve ever heard. Then explore how YOUR STORY might fit into the template. 

Leave a note in the comments and tell me what you learned. And if you write a story, please share. What could be more thrilling!  

3 Reasons to Avoid The Status Quo Reason 2: Greatness isn't in your comfort zone

I am back today with the second reason to avoid the status quo. If you didn't get reason #1 you will find it here. 

 

So, I talked a little last week about why I personally try to avoid the status quo and how confusing it can be to want to BELONG and want to BE A REBEL at the same time. 

One part that I left out of the story is how I came to know that you can't do much of anything if you are unwilling to take risks

 

You see, when I was young I desperately wanted attention. I was a pretty outgoing child and outgoing children can get a lot of attention.  What I learned was that when you are under the age of three and you do something that makes people smile or laugh you are told you are "naturally gifted." As you get older, people expect a little more; it's no longer enough that you are trying to dance, they want to see how well you actually dance. 

 

As I grew I began to realize that I may not be as "naturally gifted" as everyone initially thought, ...ahhh, the stinging slap of realism.

 

If I wanted to get the attention I had so hoped for, I realized, I would have to "try out" for roles and positions where I would be appreciated. "Trying out," meant that I might not be picked and these were my first experiences of rejection and failure. 

 

Looking back I can appreciate that I had some very useful beliefs for a kid that age. One useful belief I had that let me experience multiple failures before giving up was that I was meant to be a performer. This let me believe that not "getting the part" was just a set back on a longer journey. 

 

Things get a little different though when you're a teenager. Am I right?

 

At about 15, "trying out" meant singing, as badly as I believed I sang, in front of a room full of more than 40 other kids my age or older to get into the level 2 choir. TERRIFYING!!!!    

"TERRIFYING," we use this word far too loosely; I was very very scared, but what I wanted was to dazzle an audience.

 

I could have said forget it and stayed home and watched another 200 episodes of "Three's Company"  but that desire, to have that effect on people, was just a little bit stronger than my fear. 

I walked out in front of those kids, and the choir teacher, sweating, shaking, my voice trembling so hard I sounded like a laser beam in a 1960's sci-fi movie, and I sang "I Don't Know How to Love Him" from the musical "Jesus Christ Superstar." In case you don't know, this song is about Mary Magdelene not knowing how to take care of Jesus during his trials. The emotional content added an entirely more awkward layer of teenage humiliation to the whole thing. Afterwards, Derek, a 17year old boy who looked like a 27 year old man, approached me, hugged me and told me it was a "beautiful song for a beautiful girl" (this was a bit creepy though his motivation may have been pity and nothing more).

 

I didn't get the part. 

 

And for a while, I gave up. I licked my wounds and did the technical parts of stage production. But eventually that desire to perform came creeping back, and slowly I found my way onstage. 

 

"Nothing great, noble, profound, or ecstatic has ever been achieved by someone primarily concerned with staying safely within their comfort zone." -Barbara Carellas

This is the truth, and when I first read the sentence it must've been what Newton felt when he explained gravity. Barbara Carellas showed me there was an explanation and a science for something I had observed and taken for granted my whole life. 

 

PEOPLE ARE MEANT TO GROW. If you are not growing, you are in your comfort zone-your personal STATUS QUO. When you grow, you achieve your desires AND you achieve profound greatness, nobility  and ecstasy and, at first, it's uncomfortable.

 

Do you feel the truth in this statement as much as I do? Let me know below. 

Have YOU ever gone out on a limb, taken a risk and been burned? Did you try again? What aren't you doing because it would be uncomfortable?

 

3 Reasons to Avoid The Status Quo Reason 3: Trying to stay safe by staying the same doesn’t work and it keeps you stuck

Many of us get stuck thinking we’ve got it pretty good and if we can somehow manage to continue without changing a thing, we will continue to roll blissfully along. 

Fortunately and unfortunately, the universe doesn’t work like that. We are here learning and growing and we change, whether we like it or not. 

 

People are often afraid of change because of the “what if I fail syndrome” There is no such thing as failure, only the feedback that allows you to course correct what’s not working. 

 

What if instead of being afraid of “what if I fail” you asked yourself, “what if I don’t try it?” (whatever IT is for you.)  I bet many of you feel a tightness in your throat and for a split second are overcome with a passion to make a change. 


 

It’s not easy to invite the unknown into your life and say, “hey, let’s kick it stranger,” but it’s gonna come knocking whether you welcome it or not. In the meantime, I suggest you tell the overly familiar status quo to get up off it’s big fat rusty dusty so you can make some changes around the place. 


 

Tell me below, where do you need to grow? What are the changes you’ve been avoiding? And where do you love to be different or unpredictable?

 

Pretzel-Asana

If the yoga “asana” (a.k.a. poses) exist to facilitate one’s ability to sit in meditation, why are they so extreme? Right? Will I have my foot behind my head while I am meditating? Good question. I bet that if you ever took the time to ask yourself that your answer was something like, “Of course NOT!!!" or maybe it was "Already nailed IT!” and you might have even thought after that, “I don’t need yoga.” 

 

First of all, I want to confirm for you that you don’t need yoga (in the popular understanding of the word). It’s like coaching, you don’t need coaching. Coaching and yoga both give you things that can be really fantastic, change your life completely, give your life a new sense of meaning, and deepen your connection to your soul and things greater than yourself, but you don’t need them. 

 

And if you DO meditate and you have your little meditation pillow and you feel fine sitting on it for the duration of your meditation, then you might feel that the extent of your yoga needs is to release your hips, hamstrings and maybe your shoulders (just cuz everyone could probably benefit from releasing their shoulders). 

 

So why “Pretzel-asana”- as I like to call it. 

 

In the picture, you see B.K.S. Iyengar doing a classic pretzel-asana. If you have studied with him or in one of his schools you may hear a different explanation for these kinds of poses. 

 

I studied in San Francisco at a school that brought teachers from many different backgrounds to provide a “balanced” foundation for the aspiring teacher, so they could explore what was most compelling to them once they had a sense of what was out there. 

 

 

But I was in San Francisco and this was over the past few years, and you might have heard about what is happening in San Francisco these days. San Francisco Bay Area is home to two of the three most dense built-up urban areas in the US- SF has 6,266 residents per square mile. Only LA is denser. NY, with its urban trails and parks ends up at 5,319 per square foot. Also, industry is exploding in the greater bay area and, to put it simply, people are everywhere. It is incredibly stimulating in ways that can be exciting and challenging and ways that can be stressful. 

 

So what do you do when you sit down to meditate and your head is doing a spin like the Tasmanian Devil, and you feel like you practically had to mow down 15 people just to get to your front door? Focus- Breathe- let your thoughts float by like clouds-easy for you to say!

 

“My mind is completely tied in knots. I CAN’T FOCUS!”

 

When it comes to meditation complexity is not necessarily a good thing. 

 

One way to untie so many knots in the mind is to practice pretzel asana. These poses require patience, attention, focus, and compassion for oneself. 

 

The lesson is there in your flesh and bones. 

 

When you ask your body, “How will we get the foot behind the head?” The answer is, “breathe, allow, trust that you are where you need to be, be okay without the goal.” 

 

Practice pretzel asana, whether you create a picture where you look like Mr. Iyengar or not, and the knots in your mind get looser; sometimes they come completely untied. A complex pose for a complex experience will bring you back to simplicity.

 

Do you do yoga? Do you meditate? If so, why do you do it? What does it help with? Let me know in the comments section below. 

 

Pretzel Logic

I just got back from the Health Coach Institute/HMBA 3 Day Conference in Nevada. The conference was an incredible success! I mean it. Words can hardly describe the profoundly moving and powerful transformations that were happening almost faster than anyone could keep up. 

 

Truthfully though, it began as a bit trial for me. Sadly, the day before we left my husband Wolf found out that his best friend from years back had passed away. They hadn’t seen each other in many years which added to the heartbreak. Wolf was grieving the entire trip and still is. 

 

Also, the day before we left, our daughter Delilah seemed to be coming down with a stomach flu, diarrhea, feverish, low energy, no appetite, and the new environment and experiences made it hard for her get rest.  

 

I ran into my mentor on belief change/mindset work, Terry Hickey, and at first it was difficult for me to find the opportunity to connect. 

 

The reason I had decided to go in the first place was to look for the people I would love to coach; people who have a big vision, who feel called to live an extraordinary life and make a big impact but aren’t doing it for some reason. I wanted to meet those people and see how we could get together to make their vision a reality. 

 

With the heartbroken husband and the sick baby I began to feel really selfish. The second night we went out to dinner with Terry and he helped me remember why I was really there...

 

Why was I REALLY there? 

Terry has taught me so much about how I create my beliefs and how to shift them to get more of what I want. I told him I thought I was having an identity problem. 

 

You see, I used to be a big-time skeptic. I had accepted the idea that we needed scientific proof before we could consider ourselves wise in believing something.

 

Actually at first, in high school, I was really into toodling around the metaphysical bookstore reading about chakras, auras, magic and all that, but later, I started to think I would seem like an airy-fairy nut-job. I began dating someone who was really pessimistic and hated people who talked about astrology or anything he couldn't understand within his accepted paradigm. So, I forgot that I had learned about that stuff and became rather skeptical myself. 

 

Over the years when I saw science that explained these previously unexplainable (or under-explained) experiences and ideas I felt validated but still didn’t come out of the closet about my woo-woo inclinations. Truthfully I manage to maintain a fair amount of skepticism but I realize i am capable of changing how I believe and letting my beliefs work on my behalf rather than getting me stuck.

 

Since I have been coaching, I have had a number of clients come to me with experiences that the old skeptical me would have had to doubt. Since I have been coaching I have worked with highly sensitive people who are picking up on more than most, clients who have experienced Kundalini awakenings, intense chakra activation, and women who see or hear messages that others do not. 

 

Thank god I am more interested in helping people than I am in trying to satisfy that part of me that is scared of being judged for being airy-fairy, or that needs proof before I am willing to trust someone's experience.  

 

The identity problem I told Terry about was that I felt like I was getting twisted up about who I help and how I communicate that, particularly these somewhat "mystically inclined" people, AND, why I back down sometimes when it is time for me contribute and make a difference. 

 

Terry’s asked me about my values and my mission because your mission will control what you value and your values will control your identity. He asked why it mattered that I help people who feel called to live an extraordinary life and to have a big impact. 

 

I told him, as my emotions grew and tears began to well up in my eyes, that I believe that the world is experiencing rapid change and that I want to help people who are ready to get in and work at the pace needed to create a powerful shift for love and positivity, “to save the planet.” What I really meant was that I wanted to help people who wanted to help save the planet, to save the life that this planet supports. 

 

Why?

 

Because the life on this planet, me and everyone and everything else, is how I feel love. I don’t want love to die. 

 

Okay. So what happens if I don’t help to “save the planet?”

 

I am not living my purpose. Failure. Misery. 

 

Does it matter that some of the people I help have mystical powers or whether people believe it or not-no. It only matters if they believe it and if I can help them. 

 

What really matters to me is that I have work I feel I am meant to do and that my clients have work they feel they are meant to do. It’s so simple I must’ve thought I needed to complicate it.  

 

This is what I call pretzel-logic and sometimes it takes a bit of laser coaching from a master to get you thinking about your problem on the level that will impact your experience. Sometimes you need to look at things from a “higher level,”  from your values or your mission. 

 

Maybe the real reason I was at this conference was to remember what really matters about what I am doing. I think so. Things got much easier after that night. I didn't feel selfish or guilty anymore. I was grateful to Wolf and Delilah for supporting me and I was ready to connect with the people I would love to coach. 

 

So, let me know in the comments below if you feel like you are stuck and not moving forward on something that matters to you and what happens when you consider it from a higher level such as from the level of your values or your mission? And let me know if this consideration reveals a bigger reason why it is important that you make your impact. 

3 Reasons to Avoid The Status Quo Reason 1: To Make A Difference You Must Be Different

Growing up I loved the idea of rebels. I felt like I didn’t “fit the mold” a lot of the time and in order not to feel really shitty about that, I decided it was wayyy better and wayyy cooler to be a rebel.

 

The funny thing is that it didn’t change how desperately I wanted approval, not from my family, my peers, my teachers and eventually not even my potential employers. I wanted to BELONG so badly that, not ironically, I became obsessed with cooperative work environments, intentional communities and other “alternative” ways that people can COME TOGETHER to accomplish things. 

 

The interesting secret about many coops is that they are often the kinds of places where a bunch of people who identify as risk-takers or rebels can come together and feel like they BELONG. 

 

After working in coops for over 20 years I reached my limit. My desire to connect and belong was overridden by my desire to “go it alone,” and to see what I am truly capable of when I am not constrained within a specific culture. 

 

This has been one of the most challenging changes I have ever attempted. 

 

I admit, I still want approval. I still want to belong. But yet, I’ve identified as a rebel this whole time. 

 

Am I full of shit? What does it mean to want to be different and still want to belong; to say “F-you” to the status quo and still hope I can make something of myself as I leap into the unknown?

 

At the end of the day, the success or failure of this endeavor falls on me. I even have to be the one who defines what I mean by the very word “success.”

 

So before I share the three reasons I believe it is important to resist the status quo, I will give you my definition of success:  

 

Success is 

  • feeling challenged and coming out victorious
  • leaving the world a better place through your efforts, 
  • creating measurable markers/goals for your achievements (money, lives changed, selling your start up) and hitting them
  • living out your dreams and acting from your highest sense of who you are. 

 

“Successful” may not be a word you use when you think about what you want in life, but if you think about what you want, chances are almost 100% in favor of you wishing you were successful at achieving THAT.

 

How Can You Create Your Own Definition Of Success? 

The answer is simple. You begin by resisting the status quo

 

Today we will look at reason #1: To “make a difference” you have to BE DIFFERENT/DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT. 

Seriously, to make a “sameness” you can be and do the SAME things but if you want to have IMPACT, to leave things better than before, to influence outcomes, you will have to try something new that hasn’t been tried, at least not in the context you are trying it in now. 

 

One of the principles I teach clients, like you, is that “in order to grow you have to let go of the thing you are attached to that is stopping you.”  

So I want you to do me a favor, in the "comments" section below, tell me where you need to grow or what to let go of. Then, answer doesn't have to be "yes," but can you see how this stops you from having what you want?

 

Yes, for things to change, YOU have to change. 

 

Sometimes we know exactly what’s stopping us but we are unwilling to let go of it. That’s the status quo gripping you even tighter. 

 

What if your dreams and desires are absolutely possible and are waiting for you just on the other side of your decision to fully commit to having them?

 

You can also share with me in the comments section below, what have you always wanted to do and what has stopped you from doing it in the past?

 

LSD and NLP

I thought of myself as a "bad kid." I hated homework. I didn't automatically respect my teachers; they had to earn my respect as much as I had to earn theirs. I respected musicians, poets, artists, and other entertainers. The way I saw it, these people shared their gifts without judging or asking for anything in return. It seemed to me that they couldn't help but give because the art poured out of them whether they liked it or not.  

This is how I felt I was and also how I wanted to be. I felt like nothing could be greater than lighting people up with something I had created. 

Thankfully, my family was supportive. My mother saw that I was a little different and enrolled me in a school for creative and performing arts. There I tended to scrape by in the traditional classes but do pretty good in the arts classes. This kept my grade point average pretty low overall.

One day, when I was 15, while visiting my grandmother, she brought out a book she had bought at a yardsale (my family has a sizzling yardsale tradition). As she handed me a copy of the Jim  Morrison biography "No One Here Gets Out Alive," she said, "you like music, I thought you might like to read this." I honestly think she was looking for anything that would inspire me to read more. Think what you want about Jim Morrison and The Doors, the book changed my life forever. 

Reading about Jim Morrison, I learned that it was possible to be educated without fitting in, that studying what you wanted could expand your creative expression, and that you could take risks to expand your consciousness and your experience of life, not just to get away with shit you were told was "off limits."

This helped grow my self-esteem. I kinda sensed that I wasn't an idiot, but I wasn't getting a lot of proof by the standard systems of evaluation.

As I got older I explored "mind-altering substances," as I call(ed) them. I felt I was expanding my consciousness and my experience of life. For years, when I took risks, whether it be with mind-altering substances or adventures on the road or meeting people, I approached it as though it was all fodder for my art, or my life, and really they don't feel separate to me.

After high school, I did a bit of college, learned to make music on my terms, worked some fantastic jobs (including jobs that taught the value of pleasure and sex positivity) and struggled when my consciousness expanding substances became crutches that I relied on when I wanted to take risks. Fast forward 20 years, I eventually hit a big ol' fork in the road. I had been in a relationship for 10 years with someone, a musician, who supported me as a musician, but who also helped me to avoid failure by avoiding risks. He helped me to pass judgment on anything that threatened the very limited identity I had created around him. Individually we weren't getting anywhere and I started to feel a little dead inside. What if this was it? What if that was the end of the story for me? Would I just work and be in moderately successful bands till I died?

This possibility freaked me out big time. 

It was my comfort zone and I was really eff-ing comfy! On one hand, changing looked almost impossible, on the other hand, staying the same felt like a death sentence.

I knew I had to change. I saw the edge and I stepped off. I felt completely alone. I had no idea who I was. Anything was possible and while that sounds exciting it was mostly terrifying. 

...

Step by step I did things that didn't fit the mold, I learned to teach Pilates, I learned to teach yoga, I became a certified massage therapist and then I got into coaching. 

That's when I started to learn about NLP. NLP stands for Neuro-linguistic Programming and like coaching in general, it's aimed at achieving excellence rather than healing disease or trauma. It originally came from studying how top people in their fields obtain outstanding results. Many of the techniques in NLP look at how beliefs are coded in our subconscious through language and images, smells, and other sensations. This is our programming. Sometimes our programming is useful, like the programming that allows one to achieve excellence, and sometimes the programming gets in the way. It's the programming that isn't working for us that NLP is designed to help shift.

As I learned about NLP I realized that I had some really useful programming that helped me to challenge the status quo, but I also had some that let me feel like I wasn't worthy of achieving greatness, even when it came to me easily. It was time to shift the regularly scheduled programming.

I have evolved my coaching so that my methods are not exclusive to NLP but the essence of it is still there. I work with clients who want to explore their edge, to expand their consciousness (no substances required), to enrich their art, i.e. their life, and achieve excellence. I love these people because, like me, they know it is an act of rebellion to take their life to the limit and beyond. I love these people because they will change the world.

What does it mean to change the world if not to disrupt the status quo?