Confidence

A bunch of us shuffled into a 1920's themed bar that faced the Pacific Ocean. Ornamental crown molding and dark brown wainscoting framed the gold leaf walls. Red velvet booths and seats lined the bar and the long sidewall, all filled with patrons that ranged from casual to dressed to the nines. A live band was playing next to the entrance.

We headed all the way to the back of the bar where there was still room for us to stand and sit. Shots were ordered. I had a beer and avoided the shots, and enjoyed our conversation about nothing. Well, we were talking about what to do for New Year's Eve. So we were spending our free time talking about what to do with the coming of more free time. I'm not belittling my friends, but I was a bit bored. Then a dude strolled out of the men's room, dressed in a bright red suit. His head was up, posture straight, and he strode like bullets shot from a Tommy Gun would miss him.

"He's wearing that suit with confidence," my friend said. "Very sexy."

"Who?" her friend asked.

She pointed. "Him."

"Maybe he feels confident wearing that suit," he said. This peaked my attention. "Otherwise, why would he wear that?"

"Why wouldn't he?"

"I choose clothes that I feel confident in."

I leaned in and said, "But that's not confidence."

His brow furrowed. "Why?"

"Confidence comes from the inside, not from what you wear."

He scoffed and went silent. Sometimes I can be an imposing personality, but at this moment I wasn't.

Confidence seems like a very misunderstood concept. Clothes can say things about your wealth, whether you're conservative or loud, what you do for work, but, more importantly, they can make you look good. And if you feel good because you look good, then people may read that as confidence. The issue comes when you're not wearing those clothes. Will you still be confident?

Have you seen me nekked?

Cars can have a similar function. Why buy a very expensive European automobile when a cheaper and often more reliable Asian version is available? Because if I drive an Italian supercar, I'm assuming it says something about me. Like maybe I have a small penis and I need to compensate for that. That's what I think when I see a dude driving a Ferrari, but that could be my jealousy speaking...nah...OK...jealousy. But still...

If someone did derive confidence from driving an extremely expensive sports car, what happens when he's not in it?

"Ladies. How you doin'? You wanna ride in my red Ferrari?"

Women would see right through that.

Real confidence comes from within no matter what you have. That's not something that can be taken away like clothes or a car. Using those things to gain confidence is like using a crutch to walk around when nothing is wrong. You'll limp your way through life with a false sense of confidence and you won't know it.

In saying that no one is 100% confident all the time.

I have no filter when I talk to people. Even at work. Actually, I do have a filter. It just has really big holes. And I do read the group that I'm in. A lot of times I don't care because I wanna say what I wanna say. I've lost friends because of that, and that's fine. I'm also aware that I hadn't said anything outlandish like, "Dayem yous gots a nice bum. Can I slap it?" I don't need to be punched more than once.

A lot of people perceive me as confident because I have little shame. But if they've lived with me as much as I have, they'd know that there are many moments where I want to crawl into a dark hole because of insecurity.

There's nothing wrong with being insecure at times. Unless it stops you from pursuing your dreams, for example. I'd recommend just letting the feeling pass, and then go on with your life because the natural state of human beings is confidence.

When kids express themselves, even when that expression seems impolite, we need to encourage that because they're being their true selves. And I'm not talking about bullying. Those are kids being assholes. I'm talking about allowing kids to say what they mean without taking their power away.

My little niece was told to give me a hug when I had visited, but she didn't want to. More prodding only made her scowl. So I said, "It's OK. Don't force her to do something she doesn't want to like hug me, essentially a stranger." Because when she's older and goes on her first date, she may question her instincts to defend herself if a boy forces himself on her. Parents should guide their children on things like schoolwork, cleaning of rooms, eating healthy foods. Keyword being guide.

But when we force them to hug a stranger, we're taking their power away and instilling a level of insecurity because at this point kids will begin to question their intuition. That's why the saying "Do you" has so much truth. Within our true honest selves we find real confidence. And no one can take that away but us.

Do Ya Hear Me?

Propaganda.  We've all seen it.  Heard it. "Elect me and I will save the world."

"Read my lips:  no new taxes."

I've worked in many corporations.  The one thing they all do is shell out propaganda.  They hail how innocent and awesome they are.

When I turn on my computer at work, the homepage is locked to our intranet webpage.  Every day we're bombarded by propaganda.  Sometimes I feel chained.

So it was a bit entertaining for me to read an article my company posted about why teens are angry.  They even had a doctor share some advise.  I mean, he's got a PhD.

"I think zombies are defined by behavior and can be "explained" by many handy shortcuts: the supernatural, radiation, a virus, space visitors, secret weapons, a Harvard education..."  -Roger Ebert in reviewing The Crazies.

The doctor's article was a magnificently crafted and well written piece of crap.  I found one crucial thing missing.  And upon teaching and mentoring kids for most of my adult life, there has become no one-size-fits-all advice, save one.

Listening.

I had a student once whose parents put him under so much pressure to do well in high school that he was on the verge of suicide.  At first I thought, "What did I do?"  But it had been a year since the end of our sessions.  So I thought back to them to see what was the root cause of such destructive behavior.

My student and I had taken a walk one day and just talked.  My approach in teaching, despite coming from a very tier-structured martial arts background, was to view any student as an equal.  I'm not a teacher.  They are not students.  We are human beings.

The subject of ivy league education came up, something his parents expected of him.  I asked him if he wanted to go.  He answered yes.  There was a lot of trepidation in his voice.  So I asked him if he was sure.  He slumped his shoulder and said he really didn't care about going to an ivy league school.  That he was happy to just receive a normal (whatever that means) education.

I presented what I'd learned to his parents and, of course, they were upset.  Like I had opened Pandora's Box.

A couple years later, he was on the verge of suicide.

Being loving parents, they got the best help they could afford.  Interestingly enough, the parents were instructed to relieve all pressures of any kind, which included the pressure of school, and to allow him to express himself in anyway he wanted to.

Today, I'm very glad to say he's thriving.

We talk so much about listening when in intimate relationships.  But we rarely talk about it when it comes to raising children.

I tell parents that their children are like people (wink wink).  Treat them like people.  Ask them how they feel.  What they want? Why do they want or feel that way?  Is there anything they need?  If not, let them know you'll be there with no judgement.  For judgement is the lock that will shut the door to their children.

Be open with them, and they'll be open with you.

In my lessons, I let my students, no matter the age, say what they want.  Swearing included.  I do give advice, if they want, but I tell them it's up to them to follow it.  My mentoring process changes as they change, which is why I believe there is no one-size-fits-all guide to children.

Just listen.

Does Age Matter?

I was watching TV and saw a commercial for a Nerf sword. "Ooh," I said. My friend who saw my reaction said,"How old are you?"

What does that matter?

The lead character of my book has defied age and experience.  Part of moving up the military echelon requires the dueling of more experienced, higher ranking warriors.  Being a tenderwing, a term used for a child or inexperience, the hero never let that get in his way.  Not that he wasn't intimidated or ever scared.  But his father taught him that whatever you think you are.  Therefore, he never thought about his inexperience.  He only focused on his skills.

In Eastern philosophy any change must start from the inside, in particular the mind.  It's the mind that leads and the body must follow.  Think about this.  You're thirsty.  Your mind commands your hand to pick up that beer.  Then it commands your arm to bring that frosty drink to your mouth, etc.

So why is it when both men and women want to look younger do they start from the outside?  Worse yet, they don't even go to the inside.  Women tend to use more make up, wear their daughter's clothes.  Men date younger women, drive expensive sport cars.  None communicates youth but communicates, "I'M STILL YOUNG DAMMIT!"

My excitement of the Nerf sword was truly my excitement for a kid's toy.  Inside I feel young as if I was still twelve.  I love to play.  I love fun.  I wonder about our world and ask questions every day.  Isn't that what kids do?

"Why is the sky blue?"

"Why does that fat man eat so much?"

"Where do babies come from?"

"Why were you praying to dad last night?"

At first I thought my immaturity was my rebelling against growing up.  But the things I've accomplished in my life have required the maturity of an adult.  I just go back to playing whenever I can.  Most of nature is this way.  Lions lounge around all day, except when it's time to hunt and eat.  Dog's love to play ball, have their ears scratched, their bellies rubbed.  Dolphins leap into the air cause it's fun.  Why else would they do it?  It doesn't serve any other purpose.

Every day take a moment to have a little fun, or a lot.  It may serve a purpose, but definitely doesn't have to.

Have fun.  Have the wonderment of children.

Is Rebelling a Bad Thing?

The hero of the 7th Province has a choice.  He either rebels against his close friend and former mentor, or join him in taking over the world.  Each choice ends in war.  That's a tough place to be.  Is there a correct choice?  For the hero I'm not sure.  As a writer, the choices that each character makes, ultimately mine, is a crap shoot. I love that.

Even though I've plotted my whole novel, each day I wrote brought new discoveries and challenges that made me giddy.  I'm never sure how things were to happen.  I just know they had to happen.  As a result, writing my fantasy was a huge adventure.

Is rebelling bad?

I have a secret.  It's one of my favorite things about myself.  I don't get along well with authority figures.  That doesn't bode well since my day job is encrusted in a corporate empire.  The funny thing is they have a lot of propaganda that emphasizes their business values.  I won't get into the hypocrisy of it.

Is rebelling not a good thing?

A parent tells a child to kiss Uncle Louie.  Child scrunches her little face and shakes her head.  Parents eggs the child on, saying Uncle Louie loves the child.  Child pouts her lips, turns, runs toward her parent's leg, and grasps with all her might.  Parent gets upset, unhinges the child, pushes her to Uncle Louie, and forces her to kiss him on the cheek.  (I credit this example to my best friend.)

Is this wrong?

Hell yeah.

The parent just took the child's power away, forced her to kiss a strange man, despite her not wanting to.  If Uncle Louie were a child molester, the parent just punched a large hole in the child's ability to resist the attack.  In the child's mind love is associated with force.  And we wonder why some women stay with men who batter them.

What if the child was just being a brat?

Firm discipline should take place.  You decide what firm is.  That's different in each culture, society, family and individual.  But in the example above, the child is not being a brat.

Teaching a lot of adolescent kids made me realize one thing.  Almost every single one exerts their own independence.  Every parent exerts their control in an attempt to guide them.  It's the nature of the ocean, the ebb and flow.  Parents think their kids are being a pain in the ass.  Offsprings think their parents are being assholes.  What more could you ask for in a relationship?

Think of a pendulum searching for their own center.

Parents often ask me to infect a behavioral change.  But that's an impossible task.  All I can do is mentor them without limitation.  Tom Cruise taught me that.

He was on Inside the Actor's Studio.  A great show by the way.  He said that his mother never limited him in what he did.  She was watchful, but allowed him to explore the world.  Now he's some actor making at least twenty million dollars per movie, chump change.

As you sit in your day job, and if it's not the place you want to be, then what are you doing about it?

See part 1 to this article.

Mother Is God In the Eyes of a Child

In my book children are a huge part of the story. They serve to move the plot forward, present obstacles to both the hero and supporting characters. Children represent innocence in many societies, and I’ve definitely made it that way in the world I’ve created. They are precious because they represent infinite potential and advancement in evolution, as a result, they’re the best of mothers and fathers.  And my hero believes this and loves his children to death.

I was taking a break from my mundane day job, walking down Market St. and enjoying the sun. Suddenly, a streetwalker accosted me—get your mind outtah the guttah. She asked me if I wanted a child.

“Whoa lady," I said.

“What I’m talkin’ about is sponsoring a child,” she said.

She proceeded to tell me about www.children.org, how it’s a non-profit organization, most of the money goes to the children, and I can pick where my money goes. After an hour wrenching my arm, she was quite strong, I agreed.

Check out the child I’m sponsoring below, the letter she wrote me, go to my personal link, and if you feel like giving, then give. If not, then no plobrem

There’s a saying: It’s better to give than to receive.

Crap.

It is better to give, you may say.

Crap.

Let’s take a simple concept of giving money. To give money you must have money. To have money you must receive it. If I wanted to give twenty bucks, I have to have twenty bucks. However, if I only had ten bucks, then I can only give ten bucks.

The idea of giving is that you’ll receive.  We live in a world of dualities.  The Ying and Yang illustrates this perfectly.  You can't have a front without a back, an up without a down, the good without the bad, giving without receiving, etc.  But beware. Don’t give because you want to receive. Give because you want to.  It will return to you in ways you've never imagined.

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Are We Born for the Sole Purpose of Purpose?

Many have asked why we are here, why were are born. My personal philosophy is that the meaning of life is to be happy.  As children were happy.  We spit up, drool, pick our noses, crap, and we laugh about it.  Babies cry because they need something - changing, food, injury - but that's not sadness.

A lot of people who teach personal growth/spirituality state that we all are born with a purpose.   And they also say we know our paths since childhood, and it isn't until well intentioned adults impose their own view of what reality/practicality is that we veer off it.  Let's assume that's true.

So if you're in a job and you aren't doing well in it, despite how much and hard you try to do well, is it a sign that you need to change?

Or if you're with someone and everything is going well, the connection is there, the core values are there, is this the person you're meant to be with?

Your parents divorce, leaving you to play on your own because you don't feel like making friends.  You spend your time pretending, fantasizing, making characters, and gain the skill of story telling.  Should you story tell?  (Robin Williams)

What about you go to Hollywood and you audition like crazy.  You love acting, love the arts, love the the city of angels.  People say you're a great actress, but every single audition yields nothing.  When is enough enough?  Or is there a limit?

I do know signs are given to us.  I mean, if you're at a job and don't like it, ask yourself why?  If the reason is because you want something better, or the job holds no meaning, move on.  Right?

Or if you're with someone and everything seems to be working, then you would continue to see them.  Yeah?

And what about reality/practicality versus dreams.  Failure happens, but isn't it meant to help guide us like driving a car?  Veer too close to the curb, turn the wheel.  Hear your tire hit the middle road markers, adjust your wheel.  These things have lead me to become a writer.  Since I've made that decision and committed to completing a book, I've felt content.  I've even found myself not really wanting to buy things.  Not the way I used to anyways.

Tell me what you think?

Talking to Your Children

If you've read my bio, you'll know that I've taught martial arts/sexual assault prevention for 16 years.  More than half of the people I taught were kids of all ages.  Eventually, I came to disagree with the one size fits all treatment way of teaching.  The problem comes from looking at a group class and not see the individuals.  Soon I'd started my business of teaching privately, focusing on the individual. Kids represent an interesting puzzle.  They're very much like adults.  They think about adult things, they try and act on adult decisions, but many times they don't have the wisdom or knowledge on how to go about it.  This is where the parent is essential.  Here's what I've learned from teaching hundreds upon hundreds of kids:

  1. Always listen.
    • Specifically listen for words that'll indicate whether they need your help or not.  Sometimes kids, just like adults, need to let go of the thousands of thoughts that go through their minds.
    • If you can't read whether they need help or not, then ask them.
  2. Listen without judgment.
    • Parents always complain to me about their kids losing their trust.  I think it's even worse to lose the trust of your child.  Lose the trust of your child, you lose the ability to truly help.
    • If your child has done drugs, had sex, drank alcohol, it may come down to a couple of things.
      • They're dealing with issues of emptiness, loneliness, nonacceptance, isolation, etc.  Some form of connection has been lost.  It's the reason why kids of divorced parents tend to succumb to things like drugs, or kids join gangs, or kids seeking sex to feel that lost connection.
      • They're being forced to do something they don't want to do.  The source of this could be a parent forcing them to do well in school, molestation of some kind, nagging  adults - parents, coach, teacher, bullying.  One thing that most parents or adults realize is that kids know what they want and don't.  That doesn't mean you don't guide them to do well in school, or go to sleep at a reasonable hour, or talk to them about sex, drugs, alcohol.  But decisions on social activities, academic activities, family activities should be a dialogue between parent and child.
  3. Ask questions.
    • Whether they've threw up all their problems, or keep quiet, ask questions.  Even if they don't say anything, it will open up lines of communication.  But please ask questions on what they've talked about first.  Once and if they've answered those, then a door may be opened for you to ask other questions that may concern you.
    • If they ask you what you think or what to do, turn the question around and ask them.  This is a really great way of finding out how mature your child is.  Many times I've found that my client knew what to do, but didn't know if it was correct.  If they're solution to their issue made sense, I'd congratulate them for coming up with it, then I'd agree.
    • Follow up with them to see if they've followed through.  Again, listen, don't judge, ask questions, and guide them.
  4. If your kids don't have any serious issues like having sex too early, use of drugs, etc, then you've got a great kid.  Again, most of the parents I work with don't count their blessings.  They focus on what their kids don't have.  "They got a B instead of an A."  So what?  They're healthy, happy, and in your life.  Remember, you wanted to have kids.
  5. Last tip, view your kids as adults.  They may not be 18, but their core characteristics will remain for the rest of their lives.  There was a study that stated once a child is three years old, their personality had been developed and ingrained.
    • This brings up an important point.  Start discipline early.  Too many times I've seen spoiled children run over their parents.