Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Method to Madness: Let go of the hand brake

Blocks happen and you have to somehow break through that wall. Taking into account that your mind is connected to your body and one possible solution could be as simple as letting your hand go…. literally.

I will forever recommend people to write in pen/pencil and paper than computer for various reasons, and one is because writing is either kinetic or mechanical depending on where you are writing. Using a typewriter or computer is not the same as writing with your hand; it can’t be because in one you use different parts of your brain to communicate than the other. In one you execute a series of commands that when put into sequence punch letters in an order whereas when you write with your hand, there are less commands and it can even be one fluid motion. 

If you happen to hit a block, here’s something you can try: 

First off, get yourself some scratch paper or notebooks for taking notes. Then take a pencil or pen and start swirling it on the paper, around and around and around. Don’t think of anything, just focus on getting your hand to move, make it a kinetic relationship between you and what your pen is doing. Start swirling, doing spirals, lift the pen or leave it on the paper, whatever works for you. Just focus on the wonder and dexterity of your wrist. Then while swirling, even if it’s not legible, start writing words, single words, phrases, anything that comes to your mind. Transcribe lyrics of your favorite songs, passages from books, dialogue from a movie, anything. Add to that flowing motion and see how easy you are able to flow and create words. Never mind what they say, just keep writing. Use new paper, fresh paper. See how you start filling it up with lines and occasional words. While thinking of your story, don’t write about your story… hold out. Tease yourself by writing names of your characters in the spirals and swirls. Become a mad painter with your brush and do that for ten minutes straight. Use as much paper as you want and just realize how easy it is to fill a paper with lines.

Then, take a five minute break and close your eyes

Visualize the paper. 

Visualize words materializing and landing on the paper. 

Think of it like rain… first one drop – one word… then another… then another… then a drizzle… then heavier rain and when you feel like the storm is going to really rip… open your eyes, look at the blank paper in front of you… and let it rain.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Method to Madness: Reading to write

I know some people who have a lot of trouble getting inspired to write, they hit blocks, aren’t happy with their progress and overall just have a hard time keeping their mojo up. One recommendation for people seems like a no brainer, still, people don’t do it. 

If you want to write more, you might want to try reading more. 

In case you’re wondering, I’m not recommending this so people can lift lines from different works and write something new from rehashed ideas. You just need to see Hollywood blockbusters to realize who plagiarizes and who breaks new ground with every new work and that it's really not worth it. 

That little digression aside, I recommend reading because it engages your brain in ways that stimulate your creative side. I also recommend this over a movie for various reasons. Firstly, I said it above, reading engages the mind, it stimulates it, it begs action from the reader to get the story unlike TV or film that asks you to just sit there and watch. Btw, I’m not saying movies don’t inspire… that would be silly to say. What I’m saying is that if you’re having trouble getting inspired, mixing it up with some classic works or different types of literature can be just what your writing ordered. 

By coming into contact with words, by swimming through stories, different information, different twists and just engaging the parts of your brain that read, you’re also stimulating your creativity. For me, it can be that I read something that I love and maybe the style rubs off a bit, though more often than not, it’s just that what I read can actually start a spark that quickly turns into a lovely fire. 

So here’s to burning the midnight oil be it reading or writing. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

A Lilly gets back to the water

It seems 2014 has been a heavy year for many people. People close to me and people whom I know through the media. One of these people I know from being a fan is Lilly Pollard; a wonderful, beautiful, fun loving, big wave charging Australian pro bodyboarder that charges way harder than me. On a smallish day at a spot called Mystics, Lilly took a very bad wipeout that ended up fracturing several vertebrae in the process. To help her out I donated $40 to her cause. Although it might not be much, it was a small piece that helped her get the care she needed. I actually wrote a post and donated anything I earned that week.

I wrote that piece for many reasons though two come to mind most of all: 1.) if you feel the urge to help, then I think you should help, so I did and 2.) Lilly is a true ambassador to bodyboarding and even the smallest bit of assistance was more than a worthy cause. The interesting thing is that during her recovery, I have been able to learn many more things that truly show why Lilly is someone I can look up to.

There are three key things that you need if you have a serious condition or suffer a really bad accident:

1. Discipline: Lilly’s discipline is second to none. Exercises, nutrition, therapy, you name it and she’s doing it because her will is to get back in the water as fast as possible and show people she is a woman of steel (especially when it comes to her resolve). She is not waiting for things to get better, she is active in making things better and not settling for her best. 

2. Patience: Sustaining an injury or having an illness that immobilizes you is one of the most frustrating things that can happen. My experience is limited to a back sprain I had three years ago that had me bedridden a week. Lilly was basically immobilized for weeks until they were able to take the brace off and let her start on the road to recovery. Throughout every aspect, she’s shown patience of biblical proportions and truly is an example to look at every time your computer freezes to have more patience with the things that matter.

3. A positive outlook: In traction, Lilly gave a thumbs up with a huge smile on her face for a picture. Throughout her process, she has maintained an amazing attitude and again, a true example to follow. Regardless of how she’s felt, she’s maintained that positive outlook, that beaming smile and a happy go lucky attitude that is a wonderful lesson for all.

A few days ago she had her first surf in months in gentle waves and her thrill was infectious (see picture below). I remembered those times I’ve surfed just for the hell of it, and oftentimes, those are some of the best sessions, because you surf just to have fun. You’re not out to land a huge air, or score a barrel, you’re just out there, looking to get on a wave, any ride and you are thankful for that. 

So here’s to being thankful for the ride we’re on. The wave can be pretty long, it might get bumpy, though in the end, it’s all about enjoying the ride. 


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Just be-cause

Although it’s good to support a large cause, it’s also good to support smaller, more individual causes, because face it, sometimes we need a hand.

Earlier in the year, I wrote a post about professional bodyboarder Lilly Pollard and her cause. I said whatever I made off my book, I’d donate and I was able to donate a small amount ($40 US), which was a grain of sand that helped her achieve the goal she needed to get to. I wrote on that occasion because I realized that if I could use words to help someone out, it wouldn’t be the only time. (Btw, update on her progress will be forthcoming, probably tomorrow).

Recently, a friend I actually met through writing was in a very bad car crash. If you’ve ever been in the US, you can imagine that any type of help you can get for treatment, it’s a godsend. Kym Davis is a lovely graphic artist who works in advertising and in her heyday actually had a super fun blog I followed regularly when I worked at places where the term firewall would probably refer to someone lighting something on fire, probably a wall, though that's just me mincing words. Following the trend earlier this year, I wanted to give another shoutout and put any proceeds of my book up to her treatment. I already posted $40 and again, it’s a little grain of sand that can help her on her road to recovery. 

So here it is, for one week starting on Monday July 28 to Sunday August 3, all proceeds from Between the Tides and Only Human go to help Kym to pave the road to recovery.

Cheers, thanks for reading and thanks for caring. 

Monday, July 21, 2014


Your simile smile,
Almost there,
Though not quite.

Searching for the metaphor of a moment,
Saying it’s one thing,
When really, tis another.

Placebo words fulfill intentions.
Loaded with promises,
Fooling the patient to do all the work.

The simile smile smiles a while.
It kind of is but really isn’t.
Seems sincere,
But ask yourself,
What is?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Faith in Science

Science fascinates me. From the different classic theories to the advances of the modern age that go from quantum physics to sub-sub-sub atomic particles, the human mind has been able to decipher potential solutions to many questions we’ve asked ourselves from the beginning of time from the “why are we here?” to the “what exactly is out there?”

Recently I saw a few episodes of the new incarnation of Cosmos, a television series that explores science. Like it’s original version (A Personal Voyage), the new Cosmos (A Spacetime Odyssey), allowed me to revisit various concepts I hadn’t covered since grade school. There’s just one thing, I couldn’t help feel as if the show took whatever anti-Catholic sentiments may have existed in the original version up about twenty notches.

A lot of emphasis was given on how the Catholic Church hunted, censored and condemned some of the bravest scientists to roam the Earth. By the way, I’m not denying that this happened or that it was a man-made tragedy. Both are quite true, however I can’t help going back and focussing on the tone of the show, which is courtesy of its writers and the new host, Neil deGrasse Tyson. I watched some episodes from the original series and couldn’t help but smile at the optimism Carl Sagan possessed. That’s because he was not only brilliant in his own right, he was overall such a nice guy, and himself, a gifted teacher who even inspired deGrasse Tyson. There was a childish fascination and curiosity to Sagan’s version of Cosmos and in the end, his enthusiasm for science was quite contagious, and in my case actually turned me to look more into science.

DeGrasse Tyson is brilliant in his own right and I’m sure he’s single handedly inspired thousands of kids... yet I couldn’t empathize as much with this version of the show because in the first three episodes (and particularly the first one), there was always some sort of attack on the church and the “ignorant people who fail to see the infallible truth in science.” This isn't to say I don't like deGrasse Tyson, you just need to see his take on Isaac Newton to see how likable he is. 

Still, if could sum up the feeling I got from the show I would say it was that we should question everything except science as the only way to understand the cosmos.

Seeing the news, I can understand why vouching against organized religion is such a popular stance lately. Religion has been the greatest excuse given by any nation to justify their cause: the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and even the Holocaust come to mind, (the last due to its aspect of cleansing, that although not God-given, did hold that people with a specific religion should be wiped out). In recent memory, I can also think of the language used when referring to conflicts between the US, Al Qaeda, different nations from the Middle East and beyond. To boot, when you look at history, there is evidence that shows what happened to people who questioned the church; they were basically butchered for voicing an opinion, and specifically any opinion that threatened the current accepted versions of truth.

So yeah, I get it and in large part, I agree that religion is flawed and has brought many atrocities to humanity... but so has science.

In the name of the greater good, scientists have performed experiments on people in the pursuit of knowledge and for that very same greater good. The Atomic Bomb might have been brilliant science misused, but still, science did play its role. Going back to the Holocaust, many studies performed by German scientists during that era definitely advanced our evolutionary path... but at what cost?

Another point  is  the way deGrasse Tyson phrases things, you’d think religion was the only roadblock to progress. The reality is much more crass and self centered. Face it, dedicating your life to work that turns out to be incorrect is frightening enough for people and more so when there is a consensus of people... so it’s more than understandable when “groupthink” of the scientific kind decides to beat down on any voice of dissent in the name of preserving their “truth”. 

Yes, religious leaders have held back progress, but then again so have Scientists, because science and many of its practitioners have a healthy dose of ego and arrogance.

I bring this forth because being agnostic, I acknowledge I have no clue as to what is really going on or how it’s happening.

I love science and reading on it because it gives me more tools to understand better. Still, when I do so, I read it fully knowing that I am interpreting a human created explanation for something.

That’s because both religion and science have the same roots... us. So in my worldview, bashing one explanation versus another is equally irresponsible.

“But what about all the scientific evidence and the advances we’ve achieved? All that information that proves that religions are completely bogus? Look at all the contradictions in the Bible, actually in all bibles.”

I get that.

Yet when it comes down to it, I think that faith is something a person cannot be deprived of and I wouldn’t mind a little more of it in science.

Faith to me is the belief in something, even if you don’t get it, even if you question it, even if it turns out to be wrong. Life has shown me that the more open I am to the possibilities of the universe, the happier I can be. Plus, I may not agree with everything my atheist, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Taoist, Buddhist or Christian friends say, but I will be able to break bread and share a beer with them. That’s because I recognize that we’re all just trying to make sense of it all and enjoy the ride in the process.

To me, it’s all about enjoying the ride, because in the end, that’s more important to me than being right.