Today is the Perfect Day to Regain Control of Your Future

Photo by Michael Competielle

“Broken vows are like broken mirrors. They leave those who held to them bleeding and staring at fractured images of themselves.”

― Richard Paul Evans, Promise Me

We all make promises we don’t keep. Sometimes those promises have the best intentions that never pan out but many promises are little white lies we never plan to keep. 

If we look at vows like really big and well-articulated promises such as never smoking cigarettes again or refusing to buy certain products, we can see the importance of our statements. When we are honest with ourselves and take a vow we really should enforce our promises. 

Learn From Wrestling 

My son as he was growing up loved to try out playing new sports. He played baseball, football, basketball, and lacrosse. When he was younger and just learning a sport he would over analyze the game. More like a referee or a commentator than a player he always knew what everyone else was doing wrong. He lacked the ability of introspection and therefore was advancing in his sports at a slower pace. 

After a tough football session where he spent a lot of time on the bench, we talked about him trying a new winter sport. I suggested wrestling as a friend of mine who happened to be one of his football coaches was the head coach of the wrestling team was familiar to my son. 

I explained to my son that we play football and play soccer and play lacrosse but we never play wrestling. We just wrestle. One on one, mono e mono. 

As my son began to learn the sport and began to develop he recognized it was him against his opponent. No one else to blame. His success and failures were something he would have to take full responsibility and action for. 

What we learned

The life lessons he learned from wrestling was the power of introspection and self-assessment. As he learned how to read an opponent and size up a situation he knew how he had to tackle the situation. His confidence improved as he experienced successes in winning and knowledge from his losses. 

He ended his wrestling season not only with metals and accolades but with new knowledge of how to perform self-reflection. He was becoming a brilliant athlete as he understood his abilities, his strengths, and his weaknesses. Hitting the lacrosse field that flowing spring was an entirely new kid. His confidence and lack of fear were clear and evident. 

One afternoon I was talking to his coach who was extremely impressed with his development. He asked had we sent him to a lacrosse trainer in which I responded “Nope. He just learned to wrestle.”

Shocked the coach and I discussed how my son was the second-fastest kid on the team and had become the teams go to when the needed someone to climb into the pack and just simply get the ball. My son could, not once but every time. 

After the game, I told my son about the conversation with his coach and how proud I was at him. The second fastest on the team is a decent statistic. My son’s reply has changed my life forever when he stated “I may be the second fastest in a one-off race but I’m the fastest when you look at how I’m consistent the entire game. I can maintain my speed the entire game. When I feel like I’m slowing down I know it’s only me that can push myself harder”.

Brilliance. He had learned his strong point and was harnessing the power. When he recognized he was losing speed he knew when to push himself into overdrive. 

Mirror mirror on the wall

So our mirrors are our gateway into minds. Standing in front of your mirror who do you see? Is this the best version of yourself? Have you made promises to yourself that you failed to keep? What happened to that diet? How about that run you were going to take? 

Don’t worry they were just empty promises you made just like you promised you’d call the old classmate from high school and would get together again. 

Forget promises. Stand tall in front of a mirror and take a vow. A promise to yourself that under any circumstance you will keep. Don’t shatter that mirror standing in the shards of broken promises. Take a vow to regain control of your future. Small vows that we continue to keep our big accomplishments. The more trophies we win for ourselves the further we will develop. 

We must design our futures. Taking steps by vowing to make our dreams a reality is the first step. Small steps will yield large rewards. Take a vow and stick with it. 

This weekend will be 15 months of being on a plant-based diet. It was a vow I took that is a daily decision and become a part of my lifestyle. April 1st will be 11 years since I quit smoking cigarettes. Every day I look in the mirror and I see that new me I created, one morning by just taking a vow. 

Developing Our Relationships by Decoding Emotions

Photo by Michael Competielle

If I asked you “How do you feel?” how would you answer. Understanding that if your immediate answer is “fine” you aren’t trying hard enough. Take another stab at it. “How do you feel?”

It takes a bit of soul searching and being honest with yourself. Do you feel complete? Are you happy with your life decisions and are you working on self-development?

Looking in the mirror and recognizing the truths behind how we feel and why is a key step in self-improvement. I’ve practiced the concept for years and recognize I rarely blame others for my unhappiness or displeasure. Actively I work on understanding cause and effect and what triggers emotions I find unsettling.

Understanding Our Emotions

  • Anger- a strong feeling of annoyance
  • Sadness-a feeling of loss or disparity
  • Anxiety-a feeling of nervousness
  • Hurt-a feeling of physical or mental pain
  • Embarrassment-a feeling of shame or awkwardness
  • Happiness-the feeling of happiness

Relationships amongst people are the way in which we connect and behave towards each other. Our relationships can be with family, friends, acquaintances and romantic. If we work on our relationships with others by paying attention to how the other person feels we can improve our connections.

The Emotional Spectrum

If we look from one emotion to another we can understand why we should try to regulate ourselves by balancing on one emotion while we try to minimize others.

More importantly than just having a positive mood, happiness is a state of well-being that comprises living a good life, with a sense of meaning and purpose. For most of us, it’s happiness that we are trying to obtain and maintain.

For most of us, we try to go about our daily lives in a positive mood while feeling happiness. We will attempt to surround ourselves with happy positive people as we maintain our happiness.

Our homes will be decorated with items that make us happy. We dress and entertain ourselves in an attempt to keep ourselves on the path to happiness. When we make connections with positive and happy people the feeling can be contagious.

Chemistry Class

Dopamine, Serotonin, Endorphins, and Oxytocin are the quartet known as the happiness chemicals. As we find ourselves in many situations these neurotransmitters are triggered that create our happiness. When we learn to recognize what makes ourselves as well as others happy we can regulate happiness.

Dopamine will help motivate us to reach our goals while we realize the feeling of pleasure. Completing small achievable goals releases small yet frequent releases of dopamine that will maintain our happiness. By continuing to establish new goals and working towards accomplishing them we can live in a state of euphoria.

Serotonin will be released when we feel important and noteworthy. Our feeling of connection with others will release serotonin. We can help the release of serotonin by reflecting on past achievements and pleasurable experiences.

Endorphins are released to elevate pain and as a response to stress. They can be released during a time when an athlete needs a second wind or while laughing.

Oxytocin is the glue that holds together happy and healthy relationships. It creates intimacy and trust and is also released during orgasm. The simplest way to help release oxytocin is a simple as giving someone a hug.

When we recognize what conditions help ourselves and others release these happiness chemicals we can focus our efforts on maintaining heightened levels.

Relationship Nirvana

Nirvana is the perfect place of peace and happiness. When we find nirvana in our lives, relationships and experiences, we continue to release the four happiness chemicals. When we get into a perfect rhythm of flow, our connections to people, places, and situations keeps us naturally happy.

Emotional intelligence is to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle relationships with empathy.

By spending time learning what triggers our partner’s happiness and our connection to them we can help keep our relationships in nirvana. When we lack emotional intelligence we may miss the subtle cues that will help us recognize how others feel.

Honesty and trust are established in meaningful relationships. When we share with others whom we trust, we make an unwritten bond that helps build the foundation for a lasting relationship. Letting those we trust know when we feel angry, anxious or sadness they can help lift us out of our slump by helping them focus on the joys and happiness they have known in their lives.

Listen to the people with whom you have a relationship and find their sources of happiness. Be warm, kind and nurturing as you listen and learn how they feel and how you can help them maintain their level of nirvana. And most important all, ask people “how do you feel”?

The Time To Start Anything Is Right Now

Photo by Michael Competielle

Time is a created thing. To say “I don’t have time” is to say “I don’t want to”.

Lao Tzu

One of the most powerful tools we have is our ability to learn through reflection. By learning to reflect we can check in with ourselves from time to time and perform a self-assessment. Are we still on track for our goals? What have we learned over the passage of time and how will we use this knowledge to continue on. 

Life is the journey without a definitive destination. If we feel we have reached the end what makes us continue on? For me, it’s the one variable in which I can not control. The passage of time.

It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time. Steve Jobs

At what point did Steve Jobs recognize our most precious resource? At the beginning of his quest or and the end? Had he relieved he was at the end of the journey and out of time? Was he reflecting back on his life and wishing he hadn’t wasted those precious moments that he will never get back?

Everyday, I perform a self-reflection. Most days I don’t have the time for a full reassessment of my entire life and so, therefore, I perform an abridged daily assessment. Am I still on target to reach my goals? Have I maximized my day and lived it to the fullest? Did I learn anything new and most importantly was I present in the moment? 

Being present in the moment is the practice of mindfulness. The meditative qualities of being present and fully immersed in the moment maximizes the experience. If we are mindful we are focused on this exacting moment in time. Time stands still and it’s only then when we have total control. With complete focus, we can overcome the passage of time. 

By taking a mental photograph of this finite moment and recognizing every detail we can overcome the obstacle of time by forcing it to stand still. Checking in with our feeling and emotions and recognizing what experiences make us feel good we begin to learn how to get ourselves back to this euphoric state. 

The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once. Albert Einstein 

Image if everything happened in our lives at once. Every amazing moment was overshadowed by our darkest of days. We would be standing in the eye of the storm watching life’s events whirl around us in a cyclonic fury. 

Which moment do we capture? What photograph do we take to remember this moment? It’s that blurry picture that we have to delete. 

Time is Linear

As the blocks of time pass us by we have the opportunity to learn for the past to design the future. We can’t go back and so therefore as time continues on the separation of events allows us to ride the waves of emotion and experiences. If we don’t use the power of a linear timeline everything will happen in our lives at once as we worry about the future by living in the past while missing the present. 

Stopping time in this exacting moment and reflecting we look to see where we have been and right to see where we are going. Okay, so what happens right now? This is that moment where we have complete control. What are we doing right now?

Right now I’m writing an article about time. Time hasn’t stood still as I just looked over st my clock however I feel as though it has. The past 30 minutes has generated hundreds of words of text that will be about maximizing my time. The past a faded memory and the future is how long can I write before I’m going to be late for work. This moment is the only moment that matters as I furiously type to articulate my thoughts.

This moment in time is mine. The outside world remains outside and that cyclonic fury is a distant blur. For I’m sitting in the eye of the storm like a lotus. Present in my moment and ignoring the distractions. When this moment in time passes so will the storm. The wreckage it has left behind I can not prevent. It’s within that moment I can only focus on how to repair from the damage and continue on my path.

Leaving the Wreckage Behind

When all we have is this moment and we see that the wreckage of the past has poisoned our present and will modify our futures we have to overcome the wreckage by leaving it all behind. Standing up we dust ourselves off and continue on our journey. Destination unknown as we travel on. 

That storm is in the past in which we can reflect on. Learn from the experience as we concentrate on this moment. Time is ticking yet each moment in time matters. Our power of being present and in a mindful state will maximize our life’s experiences. 

Who controls the past, controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.

George Orwell

Mindfulness is the total control of the Now. The present moment in time. Our past is behind us and her lessons we have learned and extracted the fabric of our future. We have planted the seeds of our destiny in which we plan to live. The future is in our control when we take control of this present moment. Focused and understanding the meaning of the passage of time and how we can slow it down and accomplish our goals and live our lives to their potential. 

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.

Andy Warhol

How Practicing Empathy Is Saving Our Planet

Photo by Michael Competielle

“If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” — Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird

Of all the lessons I’ve learned in life, nothing has been more rewarding and life-changing then practicing empathy. Seeing the world through another person’s eyes and understanding their perspective. Recognizing their feelings and emotions while we share in the experience. The development of likemindedness and mindful closeness.

Empathy can be practiced on anything or anyone. From people to animals and from objects to our planet. If we place ourselves into the minds and emotions of others and learn from their perspective. 

Photo by Michael Competielle

Looking at our planet and the impact we have on her future has been the largest and most impactful way I’ve been able to practice empathy. That is not to say I don’t listen to other’s feelings and experience their emotions. What it means is though I can make an impact in that specific situation or relationship the larger contributions are from my daily decisions made on foods I eat, items I purchase, trash I produce and environment I hurt. 

As consumers, we have the power to become informed about the products we purchase and consume. Concepts such as Meatless Mondays or skipping the bag at the checkout have helped pave the way to us making environmentally conscience decisions. Imagine the impact of using one less bag or one less cheeseburger or one less gallon of gas.

Photo by Michael Competielle

My practicing of empathy starts with my morning latte made with plant-based oat milk. It’s been many years since I’ve had animal milk in my diet. Partially for my health, partially for the environment and most importantly for the empathy of the milk-producing animals that live treacherous lives in often horrifying conditions forced to lactate for human consumption. 

Living Life As A Pig

No longer do I eat breakfast meats like sausages or bacon after looking into the eyes of a pig and seeing his soul. Content with his life, happily living. His intelligence and personality were his pride. 

As I visited farms where the animals I consumed almost daily were being raised I began to have a connection to them. Looking at them as a living, breathing being that had feelings and emotions just like I did. Their hearts were beating pushing blood through their veins and each breath made their chests heave. No longer were the animal’s burgers on a plate or slabs of flesh in shrink wrap, they were life. A body, mind, and soul. Who was I to take that life or eat its meat?

Photo by Michael Competielle

Practicing Empathy

As I’ve extended my practice of empathy on animals and our planet there doesn’t seem to be anywhere that we can’t be mindful of others. From the waste in packaging, purchasing of single-use plastic products and misunderstandings of the environmental impacts of our actions, empathy can be used in every scenario. 

Yesterday as I helped destroy the environment all in the name of curb appeal, I thought of the fuel I was wasting in my leaf blower, collecting the leaves to be removed by our town for compositing, only to bring the compost back them in spring in the form of mulch. What a moron I am for caving into this infinite loop of destruction. The leaves are a part of a natural cycle providing warmth to plants and trees in the winter and nourishment in the spring and summer.

Making Decisions

As I would love to tell you that I know the secrets to save the planet I do not. Avoidance of single-use plastics and paper goods is currently almost impossible. I’m still driving a car, mowing a lawn and drinking water from gallon jugs. I’ve recognized my shortcomings and work daily to have empathy for our environment and how to minimize the damage.

Having empathy for living beings has changed my philosophy on my priorities and modified my lifestyle. I research companies in which I buy from as I try to support companies that prioritize their employees as well as the environment. Companies that care for the people who work for them and take an aggressive stance on the impact their products have on our planet are exercising empathy.

Each time I touch a new product I think of the people that created it. Not only the packaging but the message that they are trying to convey. If they are thinking through the supply chain with a mindful consideration of what message they are putting out to the world. It makes sense to listen.

Words are only words until we take action. Action is only valid if we truly can understand the impact those actions have. I’ve vowed to no longer eat animal-based products or their byproducts. My diet is solely plant-based and shall remain as such.

Plants Have Feelings Too

A friend of mine recently reminded me that plants have feelings too. This has absolutely been proven and something I believe. So how do I eat plant-based products while still practicing mindfulness?

The answer is simple. Plants give themselves away without dying in the process. Remove the fruits from any tree. Does it die? Nope. Removed the leaves from any plant. Will it die? Nope. Will these plants drop their leaves and fruits to give to other living things as they continue in the balance of the circle of life. Absolutely. Does the plant feel sadness or anxieties in the exchange? Doubtful.

I’m asking everyone to stop eating meat? No, I asked everyone to practice mindfulness and empathy. You will make your own decisions from there. The planet will only be saved by people understanding the impacts of our decisions and being mindful of our actions.

Write Your Own Eulogy And Live That Life

Photo by Michael Competielle

We only have one chance at life. Our time is often wasted with unfulfilling mundane tasks and toxic people. Freeing yourself to live your life to the fullest should be your single most concern.

Over the years I have written a few eulogies. One was incredibly detailed and vibrant as I was able to emphasize the amazing life my friend had lived, however, another eulogy that I wrote was sad and incomplete as I struggled to find where this person’s life goals had been fulfilled.

“He was a great father, son and a harder worker.”

Utter horseshit and if anyway says anything like that at my funeral you have my permission to stab them in the eyeball with your car keys (assuming they still have car keys when I croak, or even cars, or even people for that matter).

My Eulogy

Every day I awaken with the thought “If today is my last, will I have regrets?” The answer is “hell yes” as I’m certain most people would agree. However, it isn’t because I regret the past. The past already happened so I give it the great “bon voyage and fuck off.” We can’t change that shit. What we do control are our present and our future.

I’ve been a son, grandson, father, brother, teacher, student and blah blah fucking blah. Just to be clear nobody cares not even me. What we do care about is the quality of those situations and how we interacted with each person.

An amazing friend once told me of an old proverb “the best day to plant a tree is 20 years ago, or today.” And therefore I daily plant the trees which will grow and nurture my future for as many years as I have left.

My eulogy will list my accomplishments as I work daily to reach them. Writer, philosopher, artist, filmmaker, craftsman, yogi, guru, photographer, pornstar. (I always squeeze that one in as a guy can dream). None of which I’m not working on in some capacity to enrich my life and enlighten everyone I come into contact with.

So my mental eulogy mentions all of these qualities and my backlog of works will be the proof. I will have written books, made more films, written more poetry and become a yogi. How did I get there? I started 20 years ago…or today.

You are reading article number 78 of 100. You are looking at one of over 50k pictures I have guesstimated I’ve taken. Is it my best article or best photo? If I die today it most certainly will be. Is there room for improvement? 100 percent and that’s what I work on daily.

You Are Writing Your Eulogy Everyday

I make it an important part of my day to randomly stop and ask colleagues, friends, coworkers, and family the most important question of them all. The only thing that actually matters. “How do you feel?” It floors most people and the first time or two you often get lame answers. “Fine”. How about fine isn’t fucking good enough. Ask me how I’m doing. Anyone that knows me knows that “I’m living the dream”. Am I? You bet your ass I am. Why you ask.

Because I work daily on my own personal development and goals. I’m going to get to where I need to be because I’ve designed my destiny. Do I have specific plans? Nope. I don’t generally do the same things twice. If I do I modify the sequence and mix it up. I don’t make concrete plans, I don’t follow rules and I read directions backward. Why? Because I like to see what direction the path takes me.

My eye is on the prize as I’m working diligently to learn, develop, create and just breathe. Life is what we make it. Shit is going to happen however if you are on a specific course, you can modify and adjust as your goals have already been set.

If it all ends today, so be it. It’s out of my control, however, when you hear my eulogy there won’t be a question that I was everything I had hoped to be. Possibly just a little sapling in the shadows of the future me that never will have the chance to materialize, but I’ll be damned if I don’t daily fertilizer myself with the beliefs I’ll get there. Some how..some day.

If it all ends today I’ll see the rest of you rebels in hell. Man will I have some stories to tell you. And if we live on realize we are still headed to the same place but my backlog of stories will continue to be mounting.

Today is the best day of my life and today I’m Living the Dream.

Michael Competielle

Stop Asking The Wrong Questions Trying To Get The Right Answers

Photo by Michael Competielle

We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them 

Albert Einstein

The quest for knowledge and finding solutions to problems is a lifelong endeavor. We start off young and ignorant to the outside world as we begin to experience life and its many obstacles. As a child, we often would ask the question “why?” With anticipation the answers to the question are simple. 

As we become older it is assumed that we become wiser. We believe it is through education and experiences however some people we recognize truly excel. They have all of the answers and have risen to the top, riding that wave of life. 

Why is it these certain people always have the answers and seem to be fulfilled while you feel hollow and empty? What makes a brilliant mind? I’d say a great thinker.

On determining the proper question If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes. 

Albert Einstein

Questioning The Question

We all have those people in our lives, you know the people with a hundred questions that never listen to your answer. They just barrel on with more questions not only ignoring your response but answering their own questions with premeditated answers. You’ll see a smile on their face as they walk away feeling contentment. 

As they feel complete and resolved you feel confounded in how little time people spend thinking and more importantly articulating well thought out questions. 

“You can increase your problem-solving skills by honing your question-asking ability.” — Michael J. Gelb

Confucius, Plato, Einstein, Aristotle, Lao Tzu, and Pythagoras were all known to be great thinkers. And all great thinkers ask brilliant questions. 

So why do so many people struggle with asking the right questions? Because they want to hear the answer they already believe

Great Minds Think Like 

Insecure people spend most of their lives attempting to find security. They will surround themselves around the safety net of like-minded people while having conversations that corroborate their insecurities. They’ll feel better asking baited questions which are reciprocated with shallow reassuring answers. 

The questions aren’t really questions as they are just statements of misdirection. As we stand in front of our peers and repeat to questions while awaiting comforting encouragement, we never really receive valid answers. 

Asking questions we already know the answer to does not help in our self-development. Asking for answers to questions we can’t answer ourselves is the first step to enlightenment. 

Answering Our Own Questions

If you have to ask superfluous questions you’ve already lost. Honest assessment and communication within yourself are a perfect opportunity for obtaining truthful answers. Asking someone else “Am I fat?” When you damn well know you are while awaiting the kind emotionally intelligent answer “You? No way, you look amazing” has manipulated the answer you want to hear even though you actually know the answer is false. 

Why bother asking the question? Does the artificial dopamine rush from a manipulative lie actually make you feel better? Nope. You know you are overweight and out of shape. So how to get to the right answers? Ask the right questions. Simple right?

What Are The Right Questions

Okay, you recognize you’re out of shape. Diets and exercise cause you anxiety. As you make a mental list of options you know won’t work you triangulate onto a possible solution you believe could work. Now reask your question. 

“I’m overweight and out of shape. I was thinking of taking a yoga class and try a new juicing diet. What do you think?”

Honest questions yield honest answers and you are well on your way there. Every day I ask myself questions and attempt to give myself honest answers. When I hit a question I can’t answer or I need to expand on a theory I’ll formulate a well-articulated question that can easily be answered with little objectivity. 

Asking Why

When we are in touch with our thoughts and processed the information to a point where we feel we fully understand things the most valuable question is that of the child. Why?

Why do I have to go to work? Why am I maintaining this toxic relationship? Why am I wasting my time making others happy? Why do I not get satisfaction from (insert statement here.)

As I’m designing my future my time is spent accessing current situations and asking “Why?” When the answer is clear and concise I continue to follow the existing path. However, when the answer is met with murky waters and frustration, I move far away from those scenarios. My life has aligned with a clearer path to fulfillment as my questions are easily answered with two words.

Why?…. For Me….

Understand By Supporting Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, And Free Expression

Photo By Michael Competielle

Some days I just need to check in with myself. I pride myself on ignoring the evening news and hardly ever reading my daily New York Times subscription of curated articles. The news depresses me as I feel helpless within this modern society. However, there are areas where I feel I can learn to understand and make a positive impact.

For all of my life, I’ve been friendly with various types of people and love to lend a non-judgemental ear in an attempt to understand perspectives. Gender, sexual preference, race are not distinguishing factors to characterize who we are because what we are is human.

Humans are an imperfect species as we have tortured and killed each other, and isolated those we chose to spare. Our success as a species and lack of empathy has isolated nations and ravaged neighborhoods.

Our breeding of hate and separation has been passed down through the generations until it has become the poison of our thoughts and toxins to our tongues. Closing our eyes and ears to the ignorant is not an excuse as not speaking up only condones the hate.

Photo by Michael Competielle of Fierce Pussy Artwork

The Hate That We Breed

Generations have stood silent as horrible atrocities have been bestowed on people for being different. But why? What do we fear and why do we hate?

Over the years I’ve learned as I’ve questioned and I’ve accepted as I become enlightened. Who am I too chose what is right or wrong is based on another religion, skin or non-binary gender identity.

Many of my best friends and biggest inspirations have crossed gender barriers as they have attempted to obtain knowledge and acceptance. If we as people decided to love and accept with an open mind and let people be whomever they want to be this world would be an amazing place.

The Choice Is Yours

Photo by Michael Competielle

Understanding and being in touch with our own emotions and feelings is a unique power we possess as humans. As we raise our families and teach each other to love and respect others as we expect ourselves to be loved. How lucky are the ones that are born and die knowing our identities and living every day in our own unique ways?

Some people aren’t so lucky as many are born just not feeling quite right. They question their identity and seek answers to questions many refuse to speak of. We owe ourselves the right to decide where we feel comfortable and complete. We owe each other this right to choose without judgment.

Photo by Michael Competielle

I’m a middle-class white American straight male. It’s doubtful anyone has it better than me. I’ve got the world by the balls and can essentially do as I please. It’s with the power that I was born with that I’ve made the decision to educate myself and share my knowledge. To question the status quo and be supportive of our brothers, sisters, gender-neutral, non-binary and gender-fluid friends.

Hate is a learned response and through education that teaches truth and understanding, we can stop the hate. With compassion by listening, we can learn to understand the perspective that will change the fabric of our future. Collectively we will remain as one and ensure that future generations have the ability to modify their lifestyles as they see fit.

By taking away gender distinctions we can move forth in a positive and proactive uniformity. Open your mind and be mindful of the complexities of others and be supportive of their decision to find themselves. Our identities are best defined based on how we perceive ourselves in this world without judgment and impunity.

How I Regain Control From My Anxiety In 5 Minutes

Photo by Michael Competielle

Monday mornings, the bane of my existence. Where I awaken from the comfort and calmness of my weekend to the racing thoughts of my responsibilities. My breathing is short like a staccato violin and life’s complexities race towards me as I stand still at the intersection of my mind. 

Scheduling conflicts, upcoming holidays, year-end deadlines and changing weather conditions awaken me as I feel the rush of cortisol pollute my body. The pressures of being in charge and responsible I need to maintain control even though I feel a cloud of thick dense fog over my concentration. 

Regaining Control

As I recognize these are my last few minutes of rest before a long hard day I know I must regain control of my mind. As I’m quietly still lying in bed it’s the perfect scenario for mindful meditation. 

The room is dark and nearly silent. The sounds of my dogs breathing in the forefront, soothing and rhythmic while in the distance, I hear the sounds of the highway traffic beginning to build up.

As I lay flat on my back and stretched out like a mummy with my hands to my side I begin to regain control of my breath. With every ounce of concentration and focus, I take in my first calculated intake of breath. As I feel the air come in I imagine it flowing down into my lungs and begin to fill them like the expansion of a hot air balloon.

I hold the air in my lungs for a few seconds as I begin to feel the effects in my extremities. I begin to exhale with complete control like opening a bottle of champagne without explosive popping.

My next breath is again focused and purposeful as I’m feeling the flow expand my chest. Slowly my mind begins to again take charge of my thoughts as each anxious thought fades away like the ripples in calming waters.

Photo by Michael Competielle

The focus on my breathing becomes consistent and autonomous as each trouble vaporizes and my body is calmly rested. Deeper in I breathe with the same timing but increased intensity as my anxieties seem ever so small and distant.

My body begins to feel rested and energized as I keep breathing and open my eyes slowly. I’m still physically in the same place however my mind and my spirit are in control as I begin to float through my day. Calmed, mindful and in control.

How I Increased Productivity By Multitasking With Mindless Activities While I’m Mindfully Focusing

Photo by Michael Competielle

Every morning I do essentially the same mindless routine while I’m reading and catching up on my life. The routine is pretty simple and regimented so I can maximize my personal time. If I plan ahead properly I have an entire 1/2 hour of focused mindful reading and thinking.

Many people feel that we can all multitask however studies show our productivity and concentration struggle as we attempt to do too many things at the same time. With the notable reduction in productivity and focus, what we believe is multitasking, in reality, are rapid shiftings of our tasks while we lose concentration and focus.

By creating a daily mindless routine regiment, my muscle memory has taken over many of my morning tasks. My mind can focus fully on reading or focused thinking while I’m making breakfast or washing dishes because I’ve fallen into a groove.

Mindless Focus

Having crafted a pattern of simple tasks, my processes seem to function absent of thought. I’ve visualized myself as a kitchen virtuoso since my routine is similar to a master musician that can perform perfectly while engaged in a detailed conversation.

As I distance myself mentally from my morning routine, my mind shifts to my planned mindful focus. I can read a short article or listen to a podcast with full and complete immersion. Each word I read or hear is processed into long term memory as I lose myself in the exercise.

How I Know It’s Working

The proof is in the pudding they say. Well in my case the proof is in the cleaned kitchen, breakfast made, vitamins taken, lattes frothed as I’ll evaluate all I have done within that short period of time.

If I made any mistakes in my process such as forgetting to turn on the toaster or making the espresso incorrectly, I’d agree that my multitasking technique doesn’t work and therefore I could possibly be focusing on my mindful activities. However, what actually is happening is completely the opposite. My productivity has increased while my focus and retention have become more present and purposeful.

Having my mornings to easily accomplish my chores and desires early has begun to set the tone for the day. I’ve become more focused, fulfilled and present. My completed task list grows while life’s mundane daily routine has become a mindless passive routine.

Mindful Excercise

You can multitask simply if you focusing your mind away from what can become mindless. Dishes, folding wash, raking leaves are all activities that you can remove focus from while you redirect your mind into meditative mindful exercises.

As I’ve retrained my mind to stay focused on mindful activities my productivity has increased and my presence is in the now.

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Finding Peace And Connections Within The Sounds of Our World’s Typography

Photo by Michael Competielle

Letters and symbols of nine various languages meticulously connected together to form 19 floating cloud-like stainless steel orbs. The creation of the world’s most well-known sculptors Jaume Plensa in an installation he calls Talking Continents.

Each unique individual letter is fused together to form words without any true meaning and function as an example of the breakdown of communication.

However, as we look at each unique form as they represent humans sitting on top of these floating orbs we begin to understand Plensa’s title of Talking Continents.

The Sounds of Continents

As I’m preparing for my next large scale project of 100 days of unique sound recordings I find inspiration and connection to Plensa’s works. What would be the unique sounds of these nine different and unique letters or words as they were formulated into a connection of sentences or statements? Are we all saying the same things albeit in a different tongue?

In our study of text and more elegantly typography, we see how the combinations of only a few letters can create words of beauty. The beauty of our every language articulates our feelings and emotions that resonate from island to island, continent to continent.

Photo by Michael Competielle

The Beauty In Plensa’s Silence

As I quietly walked amongst each orb I recognized letters that highlighted the diversity in distance Plensa was recognizing. It was here in the silence circling each island that I began to question our differences as we were all connected and unified, fused together as one.

Is each unique letter chosen by Plensa to make connections to our similarities while appearing to be different? What was the connection that made each sculpture unified? Are we as humans actually unified and we are saying the same thing maybe just a bit differently?

Photo by Micahel Competielle

Upon closer inspection, I noticed all of the orbs seemed to be facing the same direction. Was this intentional? Are we collectively moving along together while seemingly drifting apart?

On this day I don’t have any insightful answers however I’m certain my explorations of typography, sound, and languages will have a new and enrichening perspective.