Build A Fort-1

Build A Fort And Dream

Mom’s favorite 400 thread count bed sheet kept falling down from my bedroom wall so I used thumbtacks instead of duct tape to pin it in place. The bedding draped from the wall then over my desk where it stretched to meet my chair. I had taped the corner of the sheet to the chair, but it wasn’t really a chair . . . it was the doorway leading into my secret hideout . . . the dungeon of light and sound.

I’m writing about childhood, creative outlets and how valuable they are to us as adults. We are so distracted in our day-to-day lives that we lose or forget the things that we’re passionate about. I believe that we’re all creative people. From the making of the wheel in the Stone Age to landing on the moon, to teleporting to Paris instead of flying . . . okay maybe we haven’t created teleportation yet but we’ll get there!

But why does this matter? In what way will childhood reflection change my life or make me happier or make me more productive?

If we can reconnect with our positive childhood moments then we can rediscover our creative voice. The discovery is healing because it allows for pause and reflection and it shakes us out of the monotony of life. We’re creative beings and when we’re moving in our creative voice then we’re living within our purpose.

When’s the last time you built a fort and dreamed? Or built a fort and rediscovered, the best times, of your inner 5-year-old?

It’s a beautiful moment when you can get lost in your imagination. You remember how to fly, how to create and how to believe. Your shoelaces become snakes, lassoes and 100 foot ropes used to climb down treacherous mountain cliffs. You belong and feel safe in your childhood fort. In this safety you find strength to overcome.

You will accomplish many things when you begin living in that safe, creative place. From bedroom forts to boardrooms, from tree houses to traveling overseas . . . allow your imaginative, creative moment to give you flight into real, current and future moments.

Cannon Beach, OregonIt’s not the act of your creative outlet that frees you, it’s the space that’s created that offers you breath. It’s that pause that removes the barrier of stagnation and offers you motion.

What did your fort look like? Did you make use of the entire room or did you shine creatively in the smaller places of your home?

We should dream big! Though your living space may be small your imagination is endless. You may have created a small fort because you felt small; your self-worth was represented by your fort size. Maybe you only allowed yourself to dream small because other’s stifled you. Change that outlook today and dream big! You’re imagination is endless so go for it. The more creative space you dwell in the more you can achieve.

Let me explain. We can’t move if we’re in deep, thick mud. We create dense, unimaginative mud in our life. The mud is the built up residue that coagulates around your life as you resist creative change. You can fling the mud to rid it from your life or you can reach towards the sky and soar out of it.

In contrast to a muddy habitat, if we transition from each of life’s circumstances while living in a creative environment then we create space. If you’re in a unstable situation then maybe some creative outlet will offer space for you to problem solve or to find an exit door. I’m not saying that bad circumstances are going away if you build a fort and dream; I’m saying that you may find creative solutions within positive, creative spaces that you make for yourself.

I know, for me, when I’ve experienced challenging times, I would write songs or poems. This creative outlet didn’t directly solve my problems but I was able to find peace. And within peace I was able to make better decisions. Maybe that makes more sense?

Building forts and dreaming was a refreshing time because we were living in the moment and that moment was as real as the pink, Bazooka bubblegum on the bottom of our shoe and as alerting as the aroma of mom’s cooking floating throughout the house. What does your fort look like today and how do you live in your creative moment?

Write, draw, plant vegetables, take dance lessons, whittle a toothpick, or bake a cupcake and get out of the mud.

Go build a fort and dream so that you can continue enjoying Life’s Moments ~

Kim Yoga-3

A Bat To The Face

If I woke up in the night and someone struck me in the face with a bat as hard as they could, then I would feel tremendous pain and see the effects of the bat that hit my face. I would seek medical attention and recover. In contrast, if I went to bed one night, woke up in the morning in tremendous pain, walked over to my bathroom mirror and surprisingly discovered that my face was broken in to pieces, I would ask questions. How did this happen?

If I didn’t ask questions and I simply continued in agony then I would be an idiot. If I woke up each morning in the same scenario without taking action to discover the source of my bludgeoning then I would continue to be an idiot. But I’m not an idiot. I would take measures to find the root of my pain.

The root is not the bat.

If I found and then eliminated the bat then the “person” thrusting the bat into my face would still exist. This is the difference between the elimination of pain vs. hiding the pain.

What triggers the pain mechanism? What is the source?

I enjoy my CorePower Yoga classes. It’s a training tool for my OCR and it centers me after a few days of planet existence. I always discover something about myself during each class. It may come during a savasana or a down-dog but the enlightenment is usually freeing.

During one practice I discovered a internal process of managing my emotions. This was somewhat of a new discovery for me; similar to the saying, “If you love something set it free; if it comes back then it was meant to be.” But not really. It was more like, “How would you react if someone took a bat to your face?”

I entered the Yoga class with anger, found peace during the class, then left with anger.

James Olmos_purple flowersSo this is my conclusion . . . the anger had a root. The gardener of peace came during class and mowed down my anger but since anger has deep roots it grew back. This was a good revelation! I released the pain during yoga then realized the pain AGAIN when my practice ended . . . revolving pain . . . you can dismiss it but it will keep circling back to you.

But listen . . . what’s interesting is that peace did not eliminate anger. I was hiding my anger in my soul’s irrigation well. This well is deep in the ground. Anything can cover the well, even a cloud of peace. The toxic water seeped into my soul and irrigated many aspects of what animates me. You could hear this toxic water through my speech, see the annoying drip in my actions and feel it through my touch.

We all know that emotions and feelings are deeply rooted in us but my discovery was simply this: forgetting the anger did not remove the anger. Even the element of peace did not bring healing. Distractions, alcohol, sex and candy won’t remove the anger. We need to find the root source, yank it, chop it, dry it then burn it.

This “bat to my face” realization came to me during yoga. It could have came during my training at the gym, while trail running in the Saddleback Mountains or driving on the 405 freeway; but it’s not the location of the revelation it’s how you move forward in the revelation.

How do you move through your emotional discoveries? What is camouflaging your pain: peace, false hope, a substance, a lie, a religion, a larger pain source?

We all have a well in us; it may be filled with anything connected to your mind, body or soul. If you were to dip a bucket deep into your inner well, what would you see after pulling the bucket up? Are you more concerned with the reflection in the bucket over the content in the bucket? Would you simply recognize or acknowledge the content then dump it back into the well. If what you found was toxic, would you try to discover how it found its way in you, then eliminate the waste? If what you found was pure and good would you share your discovery?

Draw what you will from this analogy. You can keep asking more questions, just make sure you move forward with your answers. A revelation or discovery of self does not stand well on it’s own; create intention with your findings and become someone beautiful.

May your well be filled with good as you enjoy Life’s Moments ~

2014 Spartan Race-11

Recovery Makes You Stronger

My toes jetted forward, curled and twisted as my calves bit both my legs with vicious cramps.

I was still healing from my last obstacle course race (OCR) on Sunday but training for the Spartan Super began that next day on Monday. There is no downtime before entering the battlefield. Really?

I knew that I was out of shape; the 5K Spartan Sprint screamed those words at me for 2.5 hours during my battle against myself. I don’t know about you but I’m constantly competing against myself. I compete at work, with my OCR training, dieting, songwriting, photography, blogging and in the poetry of my daily existence. I’m always striving to excel and “do better”. This can be a blessing and a curse because finding a place of calm in one’s life is a necessity.

I even compete against myself in Yoga! Practicing Yoga should be a time of centering and calm; 1.5 hours of releasing the negative and breathing in love. Not for me . . . most of the time I’m competing.

You know, I’ve discovered something: I found that my constant desire for achieving, without pause, hinders my success rate.

Why do we need pause in our life?

When we work our muscles, using resistance training, we need to give those muscles time to rest and recover. It’s during this recovery time that our muscles, heal, grow and gain strength. In comparison, our mind, body and soul need rest and recovery too. This is where I fail . . . it’s go-go-go for me, when it should be go-rest-go (rest-go! Sounds like Scooby-Do). There’s a root cause in me for this type of behavior but that’s for another blog post.

Why do I write about this newly found, competitive insight?

This insight is what I’ve learned during my 2 months of OCR training and at the end of my second Spartan race. Recovery makes you stronger and there is rest before the battle.  When we keep pushing and overachieving then we miss the moments.  We miss so many moments . . . We’re deceived by our own success because we haven’t paused long enough to allow our presence to speak.  What I mean is that there is strength in life’s pause and your success rate will increase as you recognize where you really are within your existence.  Because when your eyes are open to this fact then you’ll understand that the faster you run the more moments you’ll miss to recover.

Recovery can be found in holding your child; giving a glass of water to someone who’s thirsty; listening instead of talking; encouraging instead of demanding.  Choose your recovery.

In what ways do you take time to heal?

Recovery can be slow or it can come quickly. It depends on the severity of your injury. Additionally, we need to find the cause of our injury so that we can prevent it in the future.  What is your “injury” and how were you injured? Is your injury emotional, physical, or spiritual? Pain runs deep. Sometimes it’s too deep to be realized and other times the pain is blatant and crippling.

Recovery could mean downtime, downtime means stillness, stillness means reflection, reflection leads to discovery. If you choose this journey then you have a better chance at recovering and increasing your success rate.

At the beginning of this blog I shared that, “I knew I was out of shape.”  I knew I was out of shape after I began the race . . . AFTER.  We need to take inventory of our life’s mental, physical and spiritual health before the race.  As we begin to pause and find silence . . . the voice speaks.  The closer we draw to what’s pure and good, the more we understand what healthy and in-shape truly looks like, the more we realize we are detrimentally out of shape.  This realization can be frightening.  It’s like turning on the light of a hoarder’s bedroom and discovering the filth that derives from pain.

Again, what is your injury or your pain and how are you managing the pain?

Please listen to a song that I wrote titled, “We Run”, that shares a little about the essence of this blog post.  Or you may want to watch the video.

Pause, choose to recover and enjoy Life’s Moments ~

2014 Super Spartan Vegas-Barb

Life’s Obstacles – Enduring The Daily Race

A sharp pain pierced my lower-back and I fell to the dirt on my knees. I paused, reached my right hand around to comfort my back, then slowly raised to my feet.

I committed to training for the Spartan Super (OCR) with passion and intention; then I was afflicted with this back spasm. This was the first life obstacle I encountered prior to running the Spartan Super.

This back spasm hit me while I was traveling in Sedona, Arizona taking photographs. I followed a dirt road off the highway that led to a scenic landscape. On that road was a set of old mailboxes that looked more intriguing than the view. In order to capture a unique angle, I bent down into one of those awkward, photographer Yoga positions; that’s when my lower back spasmed.

This is the picture that jacked my back for 5 days.
Sedona Mailbox-1

I had a choice. I could use this pain as an excuse to postpone my OCR training or I could work though the pain. I chose to endure. I chose exercises that could heal my back while getting me in shape.

What choice would you have made?

Weeks passed and my lower back healed. Then came the second obstacle. I was running 50 yard sprints and incorporating various exercises after each sprint: burpees, plyo-pushups, high knee jumps. As I came down from performing a beloved burpee, I immediately went into a sprint towards the 50 yard line. I instantly felt a pull in my left quadricep. Crap!

I drove to my local sporting goods store and purchased a soft brace to wrap around my leg. I drove home then iced and wrapped my quad. This injury was not going to stop me from training. Again, I trained a little lighter and cautiously but I still continued training.

Side note: Please understand that I did take caution with these injuries. If the injuries had been severe then I would have seen my physician and approached my training differently or ceased training.

Three weeks before traveling to Las Vegas for the Spartan Super, my third obstacle struck harder than the first two . . . the flu.

I rarely get sick.  I don’t get many headaches or colds . . . nothing.  In March of 2012 I caught the flu.  It was horrible and kept me down for about 5 full days.  My body ached; I had a fever; I was miserable.  The interesting thing about THIS flu was the length between my previous flu . . 10 years!  I had not contracted the flu virus in over 10 years prior to March 2012!  And, I don’t get flu shots.

Well, you guessed it . . . this March 2013, less than a month before my Spartan Super I caught the flu.  It was just as long and just as miserable.  I obviously could not workout.  I laid in bed thinking about how bad this was going to set me back in training.  But it didn’t!  I recovered, got back into my routine of protein shakes, 7 mile trail runs, and weight resistance just like I had never been sick.

In what ways do you persevere and overcome obstacles?

Are you someone who needs to see your goal or target? Maybe you’re more comfortable tightening your laces, looking at the horizon and just running.

What ever your drive or motivation is, we all need to endure and persevere; whether you’re running a race, running a family or running to find peace. If you desire and find passion in what you love then with intention and a mechanism, you’ll succeed.

Stay motivated and keep enjoying Life’s Moments ~

2014 Super Spartan Vegas-2-2

Spartan Race – Overcoming is a two step process

In January 2014 I ran my first Spartan Race. They offer three races that differ in length and number of obstacles: Sprint, Super and Beast. The distances range from over 3, 9 and 12 miles, with 15, 20 and 25 obstacles, respectively.  Visit their website to learn more since this post is more about my journey leading up to the races, my participation and how I overcame both mental and physical obstacles – www.spartanrace.com

My first mud-run was in November 2013. I ran the Rugged Maniac at Vail Lake in Temecula, CA. It was a 5K obstacle course and it was more fun than challenging. The race had all the ingredients of an OCR but lacked the intensity that I needed to push my limits. Don’t get me wrong; this can be a very challenging race for some participants, depending on your fitness level and endurance level. I had a blast while meeting some amazing people of every degree – shape, size and fitness. I recommend the Rugged Maniac for varying fitness levels and for great fun and camaraderie. Check it out – www.ruggedmaniac.com

And then came the Spartan Race. I approached this race with the same course expectations as the Rugged Maniac . . . a horrible misconception. My workouts leading up to the race were amateur – 3 days a week at the gym (maybe), 3 mile runs along the sidewalks once or twice a week, and maybe a CorePower Yoga class on Sunday.

This type of training clearly did not cut it. As a result, my body crashed during the 5K Spartan Sprint. The race ended up being a little over 4 miles long but took me an embarrassing 2.5 hours to finish. I surprisingly completed 13 out of the 15 obstacles while failing the javelin throw and the 20 foot rope climb. Spartan rule says there is a 30 burpee penalty for failing any obstacle. My calves caved and responded with wicked cramps at about mile 3. The medics rolled up to shuttle me off to the first aid station but I waved them off. I was determined to finish! But could I?

My friends helped massage and stretch out my calves as I attempted to complete the next 5 obstacles. Their support helped as I used the last bit of determination to leap over the flames of the finish line. Flames are not an analogy; you literally must jump over logs that are on fire in order to cross the finish line.

Where does this journey bring me today? As a result from my Spartan Sprint experience, I discovered a few things about myself.  Some attributes I knew dwelled in me and others surfaced. I don’t back down or cave under physically challenging circumstances. I’m determined to complete what I’m passionately enduring. I’m weak.

Everything IS in me to cross the finish line . . . any finish line. The Spartan Race mantra is, “You’ll know when you cross the finish line.” This rings as true and victoriously as the bell at he top of that 20 foot rope climb (which I ended up ringing by-the-way during my Spartan Super race).Spartan Race_073_-Edit

You have strength and determination. You only need to take that first step to discover it . . . actually, that’s BS. You need to take two steps, one to enter and one to cross the finish line. Every step in-between will scream at you to stop. This is were I learned two things: One, I understood that failure is not eternal. I get up, dust off and try it again. I keep trying until I take that second step to cross the finish line. Two, the battlefield is in the mind. Don’t listen to it.

But let’s not forget, though I’m determined, I’m also weak. I’m not weak in every area but I do have weaknesses. This is the TRUTH I discovered . . . That which made me weak made me stronger! My weakness fueled my determination. It was not fear, jealousy, anger or overcoming some deeply rooted weed of rejection that lifted my legs over the fire. It was the understanding that weakness and failure is not eternal and there is nothing outside my skin that can push me harder to succeed than the essence in me.

Let me back up a little . . . after I had my ass handed to me during the Spartan Sprint, I vowed to overcome. Within a week after the Sprint race I signed up for both the 9 mile Super AND the 12 mile Beast runs. I had exactly 2 months to train and get in shape for the 9 mile Spartan Super, which I completed this past weekend in Las Vegas, NV. Now I have less than 6 months to equip myself for the 12+ mile Spartan Beast, back in Temecula, CA where I ran my first Spartan Sprint!

You see, my calves were still very sore, my legs were still bruised, my cuts from the barbed wire crawl had not even scabbed over . . . and I signed up for TWO MORE RACES. It’s in me! A determination to set goals and succeed IS deep inside of me. I took the first step. On September 13, 2014 I’ll take the second step over the Spartan Beast finish line. It’s then that I’ll achieve my goal of completing all 3 Spartan Races in a calendar year to gain my Spartan Trifecta.

I want to get this posted. But I’m already typing up some of the pre race “obstacles” that I had to overcome during my 2 month preparation for the 9 mile Spartan Super. I’ll post it in the next couple of days! I intend to blog more, leading up to the Spartan Beast and other OCR’s that I’ll be participating in this year, like Tough Mudder. Please let me know if you’ve read this and found it useful or inspiring . . . that will inspire me to write more.

Stay determined and enjoy Life’s Moments ~

James Olmos

Serious

Week Thirteen – SeriousThe 13th photo entry for my weekly Self Portrait Journal.  A 52 week glimpse into the attributes of James Olmos.

The journey is life.  I’ve embraced my life’s journey and I’ve found that it’s truly about the walk. The end result “is what it is” but the brilliance of lessons learned is what shapes the heart.  I can write a song or paint acrylic on canvass; I can write one-hundred poems, photograph light in the darkness and bake a million cupcakes.  The fruit of my labor is not what defines me.  It’s the journey.

This self portrait is serious.  I take life and my journey seriously.  My passions consume the essence of surrender.  I’m defined by love.  And in love I find no boundaries . . . in contrast, I find a complete surrendering to now . . . to the journey.

www.jamesolmosphotography.com

Self Portrait

Athletic: Stretch

Stretching his hand up to reach the stars, too often man forgets the flowers at his feet. ~ Jeremy Bentham


Week Twelve – Athletic:  Stretch
The 12th photo entry for my weekly Self Portrait Journal.  A 52 week glimpse into the attributes of James Olmos.

There’s a few sub attributes in my Athletic category.  I thought it would be appropriate to begin with “Stretch”.

To lay our bodies close to the ground – upon the earth, cement, dirt, carpet or gym floor creates a connection to basics.  We find ourselves humbled as we bow, bend and find belief in the basics of presence.

As for me, I find myself, eyes closed, breath calmed and concentration focused on the moment . . . the stretch.

Rant and Side Note:
This photo should post under my “humor” category” since it looks like I have midget legs!  This is the result of my creative process as I learn how to enjoy the different pixel abusing techniques.  Don’t judge – I’ll get there soon enough:)

Life isn’t about reaching goals it’s about finding peace during the journey.  I put my shit out there whether it’s good or bad because I’m at peace with my creative moments.  Let it all go and love yourself today.

James Olmos_Portland_street piano 02

The Dissonant Key

At times we can feel dissonant like a single, out-of-tune piano key.  We struggle to resonate in brilliance and to bring a presence of value back into our lives.

Maybe we’ve been played too hard or have been abused by a hand that once moved gently but has since turned harsh.  Or maybe the maestro has passed, leaving only the coldness of ivory as we long for his passionate touch to dance over us again.

Regardless, even being slightly out-of-focus or mildly out-of-tune is enough to make us mute our melody,  because we hear the false perfection of the other piano keys dancing and bouncing rhythmically.  We judge ourselves in the light of their song.

While our song sounds sad . . . always.

What if we embraced our dissonant sound?  What if we turned up the volume of what we perceive as imperfect?

Our song is valuable and the dissonant key resonates regardless of judgment.  Be differently beautiful . . . be your own song.

This is a photo I took of an old piano that was bound by a chain in a park in Washington State.  You can view more of my photography on Flickr.

Sound Engineer

i love you i hate you

A love–hate relationship is an interpersonal relationship involving simultaneous or alternating emotions of love and hate – something particularly common when emotions are intense.

The term is used frequently in psychology, popular writing and journalism. It can be applied to relationships with inanimate objects, or even concepts, as well as those of a romantic nature or between siblings and parents/children.

Wikipedia ~

The 11th photo entry for my weekly Self Portrait Journal.  A 52 week glimpse into the attributes of James Olmos.

Week Eleven – Sound Engineer

I love writing songs.  I hate recording.  The sound engineer hat fits uncomfortably on my head and so I don’t enjoy wearing it.  It means that I have to sit for long periods of time, listening to my voice, guitar and recording mistakes over and over and over and over . . .  I have to learn about mixing, mastering and monitoring sound.  I hate it.

I just want to write songs . . . I’m a songwriter.

Listen to my “Take One Project” @ www.jamesolmos.com where I simply hit record and sing, then with minimal editing, post to Soundcloud.