The Writer’s 7 Powerful Ways to Beat Procrastination and Writer’s Block

You see, I too, deal with the dragons of procrastination and writer’s block. “The Writer’s 7 Powerful Ways to Beat Procrastination and Writer’s Block” is an article I began working on, when I couldn’t think of what to write.  It was inspired by that very deep-seated fear which freezes us in our tracks whenever we try to move forward and accomplish something. – ‘What if I’m not good enough?  What if I fail?  What if I look foolish and everyone laughs at me?’  I assure you, after you read this article and implement some changes in your life according to what you read, you will see a transformation in how you view and conquer the often-feared writer’s block, and even procrastination in general…

Below in italics, is a sample of what I typed out in order to get myself writing again:

I don’t know what to write.  Whenever I do, I feel that it is not enough.  Not clear enough.  Not concise enough.  Not illustrative enough.  I just want to write something that is long enough to get people engrossed, but short enough that they won’t feel that they are staying away from something they need to do.  I want to get good at being able to discern the length of things and what to say in a compact way.

The hardest thing to do is to keep going when you aren’t seeing any results.  You want to give up.  I pace around the room and grumble a bit.  I imagine myself as being somehow inferior to all those other great authors out there.  I beat myself up mercilessly.

[Notice how my mind began following another train of thought which led to a partial solution of my problem.  Writing this way (stream of consciousness) often does this for us – making clear what was foggy in our minds just moments ago.]

The trick, though, seems to lie in tiny actions, altered over time.  And in order to do this, we need to promise ourselves that we will stick with it through the good times and the bad.  [From here, I smoothly seemed to transition into my article.]

This reminds me of the time when I was first hired at Hollywood Video.  The boss liked me because he would give me a simple assignment and I would finish it and then come over to him and ask him what was next.  Those assignments got longer and harder, there, the longer I stayed around.  At one point, he put me on the computers, dealing with the customers who wanted to rent or buy some movies.

Man, was I slow!  My line would inevitably be the longest one; and it wasn’t uncommon for someone to complain, “This is taking too long.  Can’t you go any faster?”  As anyone who has ever attempted to learn something new can attest, though, there is this concept called, ‘the learning curve’.  The learning curve is a very basic thing that we seem to forget, especially when dinner might be cooking at home, or we have a date; and this video clerk seems to be wasting our time.  I was all too painfully aware of this and wished that I could be anywhere but right there on the other side of the checkout line at that very moment.  This became a pattern.  I would hear grumbles and complaints, and some of the customers were downright rude.  I began to hate coming to work.

But I made a promise to myself:  I began talking to myself as if I was my own parent. “Ok, things are pretty bad right now, but they won’t always be.  I know that you wanna quit.  You’d have every right to, but let’s see if anything changes in six months.  In six months if nothing improves to the point where you like coming to work; THEN you can quit.  Until then, just stick it out and try to learn something new everyday and work on a system to make things faster.”

And guess what? – I did improve.  Not only did I improve; but I became the fastest check out guy in that store.  In fact, I normally had the longest line when I signed on to the computer; but by the time 10 minutes had gone by, I had whittled it down to the shortest line, WHILE taking care of guests.  Perhaps a woman would come up and ask, “Can you suggest a comedy for us, tonight?”  I would ask her a few questions, finish the transaction, get an employee to cover my line for a second, and run off to the exact spot in the store where I knew a perfect movie for this particular lady would be.  I would place the movie in her hand, dash back to the computer, signaling the employee covering for me, to check the returns box, and I’d continue processing transactions.
This kind of resolve got me promoted….twice.  On top of that, the Regional Manager came into the store one day, and had a few words with my manager before coming to look for me, while I was putting movies back on the shelves.

“Do you know who I am?”
“Yes sir…You’re the Regional Manager – what can I do for you?”
“I want you to know that I’ve spoken with your manager and I asked him if there was anyone in this store who he thought might be Shift-Lead material.  He gave me your name.  Do you think that you could handle being a Shift-Lead with the right kind of training?”

Ok, fast-forward ten or so years, and here I am at my lap top, not wanting to write; but knowing that I need to.  If I don’t, I’ll never get into the habit of writing every day and one day becoming that great writer that I’ve always imagined myself to be.  Writers have a saying:  “The key to writing is to write.”Meaning, the key to becoming a great writer is to write often and write for a long time, possibly years, before you ever get to the point where you might consider yourself to be really good.

So how would YOU suggest that I accomplish this goal, if I don’t FEEL like writing at the time?  I’ll give you a few seconds………………………………..

Did you figure it out?  Here are the 7 tips for overcoming writer’s block and procrastination, in general:

1) In order to write every single day, the first thing I need to do is to make myself a promise:  I need to commit myself to writing every day.  This appears to go without saying……….

But, (and this is the most important part), I must have some way of honoring that promise.  I must figure out a way to motivate – drag out the muse and get her to inspire me – if I am to keep that promise.  Often, that is not an easy thing to do.  Just ask most any writer and they will tell you about that feared condition known as, “Writer’s Block”.

2) Clear all distractions.  Clear a space to work in.  Put away papers and pens and anything else that may be resting in disorder on your desk.  Unplug the phone or put your cell on vibrate.  Lock the door.  Put up a sign that declares, “Creator at Work…come back later, please…Thank you”  Let people know when they CAN reach you and when it is best to leave you alone.  Giving them a time when they can be expected to get a hold of you, gets rid of their fear that you’re going to disappear off the face of the planet.  Even for a writer, staying in touch with those around you is important to a well-balanced life.

3) Get your materials ready before you start.  Ever read those children’s science books which teach you how to set up an experiment?  What is the very first thing that they say, before going into how to do it?  That’s right – they ask you to go get all of your materials.  They type out a list of all the things that you’ll need – a materials list.  You need to do the same thing, and then you need to set up your workspace, following that list.  One thing that might be on that list is for you to load your favorite word processing document.  One might be for you to have created folders, ahead of time, for your writing to go into.  Another one could be for you to make sure that you have your jump/flash drive or a disk ready, to save your stuff to.  One of mine is to have set up a signature stamp – (a pre-determined name, date, and time with, maybe, a quote that I like).  All this goes a long way to getting you to write as quickly as possible, without having to get up in the middle of it all, because you just remembered something and need to get it before you continue.  Do that (getting up) four or five times, and you’ll probably throw up your hands, thinking that writing is more trouble than it’s worth.  So, make it easy for yourself, and do the setting up, all at once, before hand.

4) Save and Save often!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in the library, maybe, emailing someone, and the computer suddenly shuts down.  If you are like me, you probably just typed up the longest and best email of your life — and now….it’s all gone.  Don’t let that happen to you ever again.  Save your stuff.  I go even a step further and have thought about where I’m going to save the file to, and what I’m going to call it.  Another reason to save often, is that you can be a few paragraphs into what you are doing and may have just altered a few sentences or trimmed a few words, here and there, and then you get up, go to the bathroom and while there…oooops! –  the lights go off!  Ever had a power outage?  I have.  I have to go around resetting my alarm clocks and even the kitchen stove and microwave.  You might have gotten everything just right, after you re-read it and did some adjusting; and all that (your fine work) is completely undone, because you didn’t take one second to flip your mouse up to the little save icon at the top, and click “save”.  This is where the saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, truly makes a difference.

5) Write about how and why you don’t want to write.  It seems silly.  It’s probably not even your topic, but writing about how you don’t want to write does several things:  First, it has you writing about something that has a lot of emotion for you.  You’ve avoided beginning your writing for a reason; and writing about THAT will come a lot easier than trying to be creative, or to narrow your focus to what you are SUPPOSED to be writing about.  Secondly, writing about why you absolutely, positively, do not want to write at this moment, gets you moving.  It’s well documented that the hardest part of working on a project is starting it.  It becomes much easier, once you are in the middle of the process, to keep going. You have momentum on your side.

Try this:  Set a timer for 10-15 minutes and promise yourself that you will work on something (anything), like the dishes, for instance, for those full 10 or 15 minutes. You will be surprised at how you feel AFTER you have gotten into the motion of doing that simple thing.  This is a quick and easy way to beat procrastination.  Don’t worry about doing it well.  Don’t even be concerned about finishing it.  The whole point is simply to get you to take action for a limited time.  Do this over and over again and you will be able to start on anything, no matter how big or ugly, or messy it may seem.  I promise you this!

6) Take frequent breaks.  The brain can only take so much concentration at a time; and only for so long.  Get up, stretch your legs, pop a few grapes into your mouth and wash it down with some water.  By the way – water is really good for the brain.  I know that the body is supposed to be like, what, 75-80% water? – but your brain needs it, as well.  In order for your brain to be flexible enough to move the neurons around and grow connections between them, you need to have water.  Ever see jello before you add water? –  it’s a bunch of powder.  You add water and it becomes this bouncy, soft stuff.  – Super pliable.  That’s how your brain needs to be.  Enough said.

Rest your eyes.

Get some oxygen into your lungs and into your brain.  Get your body moving so that you get energy sloshing around inside of you and making things happen. – I’ve found that if I’m thinking about a problem, and I get up and move around, the thoughts seem to flow that much easier.  I don’t think I’m the only one.  Try it and see.  Try remembering a name or some particular fact that you’ve forgotten while sitting down; and then get up and walk around a bit.  I bet that you’ll come up with the answer, or at the very least, come exceptionally close to it.

7) Have your Muse prepared.  What do I mean by this?  Simply, in your spare time, when you keep coming up with thoughts about what to write…type it up in a document, labeled, “My Muse”, or “My Writing Ideas.”  You can refer to this later, when you are having a hard time coming up with a good story or poem, or direction for your article.

I’ll go into more detail about how you can do this in one of my later blogs.

Well, that’s about it for this article on “The Writer’s 7 Powerful Ways to Beat Procrastination and Writer’s Block”

Do those 7 things and your writing will become more like a joy, than a chore!

See you next time on Synergy!
Post a comment, a story, or share some insight….we’d love to hear from you!

David Lee Madison, Jr.
~Nate – street name
~KnavetheMage on Twitter
~ZenNinja
~Nate Love
~Dreamweaver
WordPress – Synergy, KnavetheMage, suprememasterjedi
Copied from my WORD documents in Boulder, CO
Wednesday, December 25, 2013 – 18:06

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“A Letter to Dad”

(The names have been changed to protect my friends’ rights to privacy.  Additionally, I have avoided giving too much detail, which might identify my friends, in case someone they know reads this blog.)

This was an email I sent my dad tonight, who has Multiple Sclerosis.  He’s been bed-ridden for a year or more; and his last email says that the disease has progressed to the point where he is now waiting for a nursing home to open up and take him.  When I was just a boy, he was my best friend.  As I grew older, our relationship grew more and more strained, until we stopped communicating all together for a very long time.  Just recently, after speaking with my close friend about his extremely caustic relationship with his mother – I began giving him advice.  Of course, if you are willing to give advice, you should be willing to take it…if it applies.  It did.  I needed to attempt to heal the relationship between my father and I, somehow.

He is going to pass away at some point, and I didn’t want that to happen before I had a chance to say how I really felt about him and what impact he had on my life.  In the past I had focused so much on my own pain and misery, that I could not really see what was going on.  I spewed hatred and bitterness everywhere I went.  I hated myself.  I hated my father.  I hated my mother.  I hated the world; and I didn’t trust anyone.  The miracle is – how did I ever manage to become removed from all of that and begin my healing?

Something greater than me has stepped in.  I am sure of it.  And so, in the spirit of generosity and appreciation, I say with a very warm heart, Thank you, whoever or whatever has watched over me all of these years.  I know that you were there; even if I couldn’t feel you at times.  You have guided me, protected me and brought me to this place and time of forgiveness for myself and for those who I felt did me harm when I was younger.  If there is a God; then this bit of song which I love to sing applies, here, I think:
~Our God is an Awesome God- He Reins… from the Heavens Above, with Wisdom, Power and Love – Our God is an Awesome God!~

To Dad:
Remember when I was at one of the foster homes; and you recorded two cassette tapes of songs on my birthday?  You would spend a few seconds to introduce the next song coming up.
I really appreciated that.

I think I wore those tapes out, playing them over and over and over again.  Each time I did, I thought about coming home again.  It got me through some really tough times.  Thank you.

My friend Sam went through some very traumatic stuff with his mom when he was just a kid.  She nearly killed him several times, driving drunk.  He literally, had to, as a kid, grab the steering wheel out of her hand, so they wouldn’t drive into a concrete divider on the highway; and shake her awake.

When he tells me this stuff, I let him talk for a bit, because he needs to speak about it.  He needs to acknowledge it.  But after a time, I begin to steer him toward what he wants to get out of his relationship with his mom, now.  Now is all we really have.  And I hate to see him waste his, now, on bitterness, so I have repeatedly asked him to focus on the things that were good between him and his mother.  Over the course of a few weeks, he has increasingly been able to do so; and what started out as hate, and anger and all the why’s of why she did this to him as a little kid; and why can’t she just admit some of it…..he’s starting to feel the love he felt and has wanted to feel for so long, for her.

As a man, I have had to make really tough choices:

One of those choices led me to walk away from a girlfriend/friend who kept drinking and drugging, because it was keeping me from being able to stop, myself.  I still like her and think about her.  I care about her; but I had to do that in order to get my own life straight.

It’s these kinds of choices, I feel, which make the difference between a boy, and a man; or a girl and a woman.  When you told me, that I had the makings of being a leader, I couldn’t see it, all those years ago.  All I could see was that I was unpopular, felt confused and no girl seemed to want to be with me.  I tried to change all the outward stuff, hoping that that would somehow change me and that people would want to be close to me.  In time, I saw that changing my outward appearance, was a very SMALL part of changing the conditions in my life; but where I would need to focus most of my attention, would have to be on my character.

I came to this conclusion very slowly and very painfully, when I started looking for a way to avoid being poor; and instead, studied the ways of the wealthy.  I gave up, for the most part, reading fantasy and science fiction; and began a steady diet of self-help books.  It was a painful process, because the last thing I wanted to really do, was to change myself – that takes courage, conviction, commitment, consistency and discipline – all of which, I was sorely lacking, at the time.

Some of these books would have exercises to do.  I wouldn’t do them.  The most I would do, was imagine doing the exercise.  Yet, I kept coming across these books that told me that if I really wanted to change, then reading the book would not be enough.  I would have to take action.  Because I had created a habit of reading these kinds of books; I kept coming across this message, until one day, I picked up a pen and piece of paper and tentatively began an exercise in the book I was reading.  But as my courage grew and my yearning to change grew stronger, I did more and more of these exercises. – And the course that this has set me upon has been so powerful that it literally changed my life.

So, yes, I am becoming a leader; but I am certain that I could never have done so, had I not been in pain.  It was the pain that forced me to take a look at myself, that caused me to have such a burning desire for change and transformation, that I would become intimately acquainted with fear, and what it takes to overcome it – or pain, and what it takes to push through it.  How could I ever have hoped to lead people, if I had not gone through my own hell?  How could I ever have related?  Even if I tried, what advice or real-life problem-solving action could I have taken?  If I had tried to rely on some text-book knowledge that I had read out of a field guide for leaders – the most I would have accomplished, was regurgitating what someone else wrote – with no thoughts of my own that had been congealed over time and experience.

Facing failure after failure and learning that that is not the end; has given me the ability to not see myself as a FAILURE, but more as a scientist, who will eventually find what he seeks.  I may have gotten people to follow, but as soon as REAL problems arose, my lack of character would have shown through and people would have lost faith in me; and maybe, even, themselves.  If I am in a crisis situation in the future…I cannot afford for this to happen.  Lives might be at stake; or something greater.

So, looking back on my life, even though the lessons have, at times, been very difficult – I am extremely grateful for having had the opportunity to have gone through them.  Most people would never say that – And that is precisely why I will be a leader among leaders.

Most of that has to do with how you brought me up:  Your advice.  Your quotes like, “If man thinks he can; or a man thinks he can’t – he is generally right”; and “A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still”.  Your love of knowledge and being more than just average.  Your love of the mind and logic.  Your multiple interests.  Your curiosity and playing with science.  Your anger and passion for life.  Your jokes and lighter side.  Your wanting to teach other people what you had discovered…Your need to think for yourself —- I watched that, and began to incorporate it into my being at an early age.  I didn’t know what was happening, but I was being transformed.  My little body and mind and heart were going through an alchemical transformation; yet, I was unaware.

So, I want to thank you.  I want to thank you for the time when we were watching a football game; and you smelled something burning and grabbed a hot frying pan with your bare hand; had to go to the sliding glass door, slam it open and dump it outside on the deck.  You acted without worrying about your fears; got a second or third degree burn for your bravery and selflessness.

Later, while I was in the Marines.  My corporal had dove into the water and the other corporal froze when she realized that he was in trouble.  I acted without thinking, endangering my own life, getting my glasses knocked off; and having the water pull me down in between the big stones of coral…ripping my my back to shreds and my hands and my feet, after bracing with all my might, so I wouldn’t be sucked under.  Even after all that – after having failed to help him and nearly dying, myself, I still went and crawled back over to him and pulled him out of the water.  I calmed my mind and noticed that if I used the tide, it would buoy up his body weight and would be able to pull him up onto the rocks, safely.

These are things I did not share with you; or if I did – not the whole story.

I just want you to know, that I am the kind of man I am, mostly, because of you.  Words cannot express all that I feel for you, though in this email, I have tried.

Dave

David Lee Madison, Jr.
~Nate – street name
~KnavetheMage on Twitter
~ZenNinja
~Nate Love
~Dreamweaver
Wordpress – Synergy, KnavetheMage, suprememasterjedi
Copied from my WORD documents in Boulder, CO
Monday, December 16, 2013 – 01:27

An Essay I wrote for a possible massage school grant. I was homeless at the time and was turned down because of that.

An Essay I wrote for a possible massage school grant.  I was homeless at the time and was turned down because of that.

 

Good morning, Jill! – I know that we spoke on the telephone twice, now, and I just want to say how much I appreciate this opportunity, and even though you’re a busy girl…you’re gonna transform this world by doing what you do.  Way to go!

Ok…on to the essay –

This essay is designed to answer the four requirements which I was instructed to follow over the phone. – It’s bare bones for those who need to get the information quickly.  Actually, it’s fairly long – so I’ve broken it down into the four elements, outline style, first.

1)  Why I need the Full Scholarship to the Berkana Institute of Massage Therapy

I’m homeless, living on the streets, in the cold, being chased by police for trying to sleep and my health was severely affected right after my mother passed about one year ago.
I don’t have the funds to pay for this scholarship and the money that I was going to use to pay back the loan that I took out for my previous massage school is in default.  I car broke down, and then started getting ticketed mercilessly no matter where I tried to move it to, in the city of Norristown, Pennsylvania.  In the process of trying to protect my car and get it fixed, I called a tow truck and had it put on a lot.  Living on the streets, I somehow lost the information for that tow-truck company and therefore, also lost the massage table and books which were locked away in the trunk of that car.  That car had been bought with a thousand dollar gift from my dad and his girlfriend.  I have still not been able to pay him back and I intend to, as well as all the other monetary gifts they have given me throughout my time on the streets.

I intend to pay back people who I borrowed money from, a few years back when I was asking for money on Pearl street.  I have their names, numbers, email addresses and the amounts that they donated, written down in the back of the journal which I’m currently typing into my lap-top – another gift from my father (the lap-top).

I want to be self-sufficient.  I have a lot of people counting on me to get my act together, and when I do, and ONLY when I do, will I be able to pursue all those other dreams of mine, which involve life-coaching, writing a few books, opening a balance-training center, learning Aikido and teaching it to people in the prisons and the jails.  And opening some kind of training center for kids – to combat the dumbing down of our ‘education’ system – of our children.  This is only the tip of the iceberg.  I have many more plans!

2) Why do I desire to do this?  What would motivate me to take the road of physical touch to achieve what I need?
Several reasons.  But at the top of that list is a visceral need to be in tune with other people.  A very close second is extreme compassion for those around me.  I don’t tend to see color.  I still see gender a bit as a separation, sometimes, but I strive to work on that.  I believe that I was born with the gift of being able to not judge people.  This allows people to be real with me and open up in ways that they simply can’t with most.  I have experienced so much pain and emotional trauma from numerous causes, over my life-time, thus far, that I can relate far better than most TO most.  This puts me in a great position to hold a space of healing for those whose time has come to do that.
I am super-sensitive to sounds; in fact, vibrations of any kind, I tend to pick up on – and I need a way to ground all that out…otherwise I would be a nervous wreck.  It’s even in my astrology; if you believe all that.  I do.  As the MONKEYs say….”I’m a believer!”.  I am highly aware of things in my body, and colors, and the way that people walk and what they say and what they really mean, and how much of that they want people to know that they mean.  I meditate like a person possessed, because I love it so much.  And nature brings back to the divine side of life, yet anchors it in deep respect for the mathematical precision of our precarious position.

3) Where will I do my 100 hours of free massage?
The homeless population.  I know it well, because I am a member of it – have been for about 10 years, now.  I know a lot more of the psychology behind being homeless, than – I dare say – some college professors would.  I live it.  I have thought endlessly on changing it.  I have tried to and been unsuccessful – both, for myself, and others.  This will be just one more way that I can do something to motivate, to inspire change.  Even if all I do is relax some muscles – having carried a back pack for years and having experienced all the strain, pain, and cramping that comes with that, myself – I’m happy to alleviate that for a short time in others.  But what I hope to do is find a way to sustain this healing process, so that it goes farther than just a feel-good massage, and has long-ranging benefits which span the physical, emotional, and mental balance of my clients and friends.

4) Commitment to the program and being an exemplary student.
I’ve done this before, while homeless, holding down a job, and battling with issues of low self-esteem.  I’ve come through the Marines, and on my own took correspondence courses in both leadership and finance.  I took three hundred dollars of my own, hard-earned money and went to a community college for psychology.  At the end of the semester, myself and one other student, out of a class of about 28 or so, were the only ones to be excused from taking the exam, because we were deemed to know the material so well.

When I was going through massage school, we took a class I liked very much called, “Psychology of the Body”.  At the end, the instructor came up to me, when I asked for feedback on how he thought I was doing, and he said, “You could have taught the class”

I’ve struggled through foster homes, being placed in Special Education classes for my unusual behavior as a child.  I’ve taken the Armed Services Battery Test and scored one point below the best possible score, when going into the Marines – a 98 out of a possible 99.  If you were to change that out for an SAT score, back then, anyway – people have said that I would have been within like 20-40 points of a perfect 1600.  I don’t say this, as much to brag, but as to point out that I AM intelligent, and I HAVE overcome many obstacles that even more intelligent or well-connected people than myself would have been hard-pressed to overcome.

I have a mentor.  I have a life-coach.  How many people do you know, even if they make those New-Year’s resolutions, actually keep them?  How many people do you know who have taken reading for improvement to the next level and have APPLIED what they have read.  And much more than all that…how much do you think someone desires something, when they take the time to search out a mentor and keep a relationship growing with them?

And last, but not least – I am a life-long learner.  What I mean by this, is that I undertake the responsibility of my own education, even when I can’t afford ‘proper’ education.  I have read extensively in the field of Self-Improvement, Leadership, Chakras, Spirituality, Body Language, Wealth, Success, Body-Mind, Yoga, Martial Arts, Writing, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Biographies of Successful people, the Bible, maintenance, construction, massage, Chi, History……..the list goes on and on.
I am no stranger to doing what it takes on a consistent basis, to move forward.

And that concludes my brief essay.  If you are feeling ‘froggy’, then you can read on to get a much more in-depth look at the answers to the questions you gave me.

Next I’ll go more into detail on my life story – how I got to where I am today, and where I plan to go from here on out.  Thanks so much for taking the time out of your schedule to review the application and this essay.

Why do I need this?

Who could need it more?  That’s the question I ask.  I’m currently sleeping outside in Boulder, on Church property, trying to avoid the cops who like to go out at night at disturb homeless people from their much needed sleep, and then give them a $100 ticket for “camping”.  I would go to a “warming center” – a place which is dry and warm, where you lay on the floor for the night – but it seems that it’s not cold enough to warrant a “warming center”.  Maybe their funds are low, but, wait, that’s strange because I distinctly remember them receiving even more funds this year – much more than last.  I would go to the Boulder Homeless Shelter, but I’ve been “consequenced” for an extreme 90 days (the rest of the season), because I asked to go to the bathroom (number two) after seven o’clock while standing outside their gates.  Two people told me no, and when I got upset – I had to go bad – they threatened to call the cops and told me that I was going to be “consequenced” for three to five days.  I raised my voice; didn’t swear; but I did mention that what they were doing was inhumane and I could understand that they had policies, but there was no written policy that said I couldn’t go to the bathroom after seven.  There was another place to go nearby – the local stripper business next door.  I didn’t want to pay exorbitant fees for drinks I couldn’t drink anyway, just so that I could go to the bathroom.  I wasn’t in the mood to see a show – I just needed to perform a human function – and since the people who were running the place are human beings, I just assumed that they would understand, having had a similar problem, probably a thousand times themselves.

I also need to get off the street for medical reasons.  Last year, I begged off work for an indeterminate amount of time when I discovered that my mother, in Illinois, had cancer and was in stage 4.  I was the only one willing to go help her.  I did.  In the process, Colorado got me one more time for failing to yield to an emergency standing vehicle – simply put – I didn’t move over from the far right lane to the left lane when passing a state cop who pulled over another guy for something else on I-70.  The cop wrote me a $100 or so ticket in pencil and when I got to my mother’s apartment; it was smudged.  I did my very best to pay that ticket, getting hung up with the whole phone tag red-tape, and finally decided that I needed to direct my attention to getting my mother her VA benefits.  This never happened because of more red-tape.  By the time I turned my attention back to the ticket – it was too late, I received a letter in the mail, informing me that my Colorado License had been suspended.  It has taken me ONE FULL YEAR to take care of this – all without any resources other than myself and a friend.  I did so, even when I had a job, by borrowing five dollars from a number of people for the $95 re-instatement fee, by promising to not only pay each back, but to pay them two dollars more.  I have since done so.  Shortly after I came back to Boulder, my mother passed on the night of my birthday.  I held all that in after a good cry in the parking lot, sinking to my knees.  It was all I could do to keep it together enough to call my father and let him know.  But because I continued to sleep in conditions that were harsh; where some diseases were easily spread by crowded conditions; sometimes back out in the cold; carrying around all this guilt and anger and remorse, over-layed by the thickest depression — Because of all this, the stress eventually won out over my immune system and dragged it down far enough to where I contracted MRSA Staph Infection.  Within about seven days, I was dropping my keys, walking very slowly and stumbling with a throbbing headache.  There was a sore on my left shin that was getting progressively worse.  At first, everyone thought that it was a spider bite.  Eventually, we found out different.  When I finally drummed up the courage to go to the hospital, I was dizzy and a red streak had threaded it’s way from the super-infected and inflated spot on my lower leg, all the way up to just near my groin.  This is very bad news.  This is mere hours from the infection getting to the heart – then it’s all over.  When I went to the hospital – I was told that I had about 24 hours to live.  Had I not come to the hospital, I would have died the next day about that same time.

My need is to get off the streets.  Once you are there, it is extremely difficult to get off.  There aren’t a lot of places to wash your body, especially your feet.  If you don’t do this within just two days, the skin on your feet begins to peel away and infections creep in.  If you have to carry several packs all day, for, both, the fear of having it stolen because you don’t have the money to afford storage, and because during your day you need access to some things; then your body begins to break down.

It protects itself by clenching up.  But over time, the muscles never have a chance to relax and extreme exhaustion results very easily from not having any energy reserves – they’re all tied up in holding your body armor in place so that you don’t get hurt.  The sad irony is that you get injured far worse despite the good intentions of this bodily safety mechanism.  Over an extended period of time, other problems arise:  Here are just a few…tingling in the feet or fingers or arms or legs from blood restrictions and nerve crimping on a daily basis.  If you’re not careful, then you’ll carry your heavy load, the same way all the time, and if it’s off balance just slightly along your spine, then your body tries to compensate by over-using some muscles and not fully using others.  Your whole musculature begins to weaken and break down.  You never have a chance to change your pace.  That slow-plodding pace keeps your heart from getting a chance to exercise the way it’s supposed to.  I don’t know about you, but if I had a bunch of packs on and I could never set them down, I wouldn’t be able to run, or skate, or bicycle, or dance, or do martial arts.  I could go on and on about the dietary restrictions due to not having the money to choose what is healthy; but I’ve beat a dead horse here.

My need is great.  I need stable housing.  I need a place to lock away for my own privacy and silence.  I need a place where I have no fear of being woken up and charged with a crime for trying to get my required amount of REM sleep.  I want to be disease free.  I want a place to shower, meditate, cook my food, clean my clothes, blend my healthy mix of vegetables so I can remain in good working condition so that I CAN work to support myself.

Next is my Desire…WHY do I want to do massage?  What motivates a guy like me?

Again, the answers are many-fold.  But let’s start with important times in my life:

About age 7, I’m trying to look into the eyes of my father’s mother – she’s sitting in a wheelchair, and she’s staring through me.  She was here moments ago.  “Why’s her hand all cramped and claw-looking like that”, I’m wondering to myself.  I’m scared of her for some reason.  We’re at a funeral, and she’s maybe in her forties or fifties.

My dad divorces my mom and leaves me with Nadine for the summer – his girlfriend.  He comes to pick me up and now he’s got a new wife.  He met her in a car accident.  Just a few years down the road, and we’re all yelling.  JoAnn – my step-mom is yelling at me to be quiet; I’m yelling at her that she’s not my REAL mom and she can’t tell me what to do.  Dad’s yelling at us both to please, just get along for once!  She’s had brain damage.  She’s had the front part of her brain removed.  I’m about nine, and she’s trying to mother me.  She’s doing a terrible job and it’s only going to get worse, because what happens next, is that she will begin to revert back to the emotional and logical state of a child.  Figure about five years old.

I’m in my twenties; just got out of the Marines.  My very over-weight step mom is trying to position herself to flop into our easy chair.  She misses and hits the floor of our apartment…hard.  She’s just had a stroke, and will have 3 more in the same region of her brain.  This will eventually kill her.
Within a few months, my dad is working on his Nursing degree, and he discovers that he has Multiple Sclerosis.  Only this time – it’s progressing much more rapidly than it ever did with my grandmother.  I’m about 27.

My dad moves in with his girlfriend.  He’s now bedridden, and this woman with diabetes and seasonal disseffective disorder is trying to take care of him.

I’ve been working for Aspen Media Market Research – calling people at their homes and businesses to get them to re-up on their magazine subscriptions.  I’ve saved up for a beater car.  I’m lying on the floor of a friend’s who’s letting me stay at her place.  She’s an addict, and this situation is rocky at best, but I need a place to stay so that I can keep this job.  I’m in the process of figuring out what my next step is when my Aunt Sherry calls me up.  Sherry – “You’re mom’s got cancer.  Just wanted to tell you.  You’re the only one who can really do anything for her, or will. – what are you gonna do? – Are you gonna go see her?  I remember when I took care of both your grandmother and your grandfather.  I’m glad I was there for them.  I’m not going to lie to you – it was one of the toughest times in my life, but I’m glad all the same.  We were able to talk about things we hadn’t discussed for so long, and I found out so much that has helped me.” -(My aunt is over-weight, and has degenerative neck disease, where the cartilage in between her vertebrae are dissolving).

I’ve driven up to go see my mom.  I find her in her apartment.  This white-haired, 4-foot, nine-inch lady answering the door suspiciously is MY mom?!  That night, she goes from bad to worse.  I can’t stop her from coughing.  I put her in all kinds of positions – trying to relieve her pain.  She’s moaning and every few minutes she pulls this pink, rectangular, bucket thing off the carpet and tries to spit into it.  She manages to just kind of get some drool to come out.  She’s freezing and there aren’t enough blankets.  I tell her I’ll turn up the thermostat.  “NO! – I can’t AFFORD that! – the bills, the bills….they’re raping me!  They don’t care.”  I tried to sleep, but in the morning, I awoke to my mother, naked and clawing at the carpet in our guest bedroom.  I looked into her eye, horrified to find that my mother was no longer there…no – there she was…and THERE.  But her eyes; they were like an animal’s – an animal in pain and scared.  She was scared of me.  She didn’t trust me.  I did my best to give her a bath.  I struggled to put on her jeans and a sweater.  I told her, “Mom – you’re sick.  I need to take you to a hospital.  It’ll be alright…they’ll know what to do.”
“NO!  No, no, nononononoooo!”, she pleaded.  I picked her up, opened the front door and walked down the hall, carrying her and knocked on her neighbor’s door.  I didn’t know what to do.  He jumped into action and called an ambulance.  I picked her up once more and began walking down about twenty or so steps.  She blacked-out in my arms before I got to the bottom.  The ambulance came and took her away.

What would motivate me to practice massage or energy medicine or any of the healing arts?  Compassion, and seeing a need.  Knowing that I was called to do this, and that I have gifts.  I’ve had gifts to soothe people even before I ever went to massage school back in Pennsylvania.  I took $300 out-of-pocket psychology course at the Pottstown Community College, and come time for the exam, my professor told me, “You don’t need to take the exam.  You’re exempt.”  When I took, “Psychology of the Body”, during my Swedish Massage Schooling, my African instructor approached me and said, “You have a real gift.  You could have taught that class.”

I feel called to something much bigger than myself.  I feel called to serve and to implement changes for the betterment of society.  I feel called to starting several businesses and utilizing that money to help the homeless get housing, and struggling students get grants and scholarships to those studies that so sing in their hearts.  I feel an overwhelming need to impact this world on a visceral level. 

And I can best do this by bringing myself through my challenges and into alignment and resourcefulness.  I have the will to succeed against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, and have done so numerous times before.  Each time I learn something, but now is no longer the time to be the sword which is being smelted and hammered and folded thousands of times over.  Now is the time for me to take all I’ve learned and apply it to become self-sufficient, so that I can release all of the gifts I’ve been given and share them with the world.  I ache to do this.

You ask me to tell you where I would commit 100 hours of selfless service, and at first I was torn between Cancer patients and those who have Multiple Sclerosis.  Last night as I lay huddled on the patio of the local church here in Boulder – as I lay there, curled almost in a fetal position, shivering from the cold – I dreamed.  I dreamed that I was a massage therapist once again, and that someone was lying on my table, wracked in pain.  I put my arms under them and cradled them, so that they could just lie against my chest; so they could give up all they had been holding in.  In moments I felt their rigidity give way and their body release.  It was as if every muscle in their body had given up the fight and every nerve had quieted it’s storm of communication.  As I looked down, I saw their eyes drift closed.  They were asleep in my arms.

I woke up, and soon the dream left my mind.  I was worried that someone had spotted me and ratted me out to the police and they would be by to either give me a ticket or take me to jail for illegally sleeping.  As these worries entered my mind, another part of my mind was trying to focus on who I would donate those 100 hours of service to.  Then it hit me – the answer had been staring me in the face the whole time:  I live in a community which badly needs not only physical touch and muscular manipulation, but love and understanding and compassion, as well.  These people are treated like second-class citizens and their spirits have been trampled and that flickering flame hope has been dangerously suppressed, near to the point of being snuffed out.  Why should they go day-to-day when the same old conditions conspire to keep them down, hungry, tired, lonely.  Who are they to even WANT a better life?  I say, that they are the very ones who need love the most.  Churches nowadays have become little businesses.  I went to church a while back to get closer to God, and all I got closer to was a longer record.  I never had a record before coming to Boulder; least not the criminal kind.  My dad had a bunch of 45’s, but even though I was a curious, ‘problem child’, I never found myself looking the wrong way through a bunch of bars.  I still haven’t – jails no longer look anything like the old days…and since being in Boulder, homeless, struggling to maintain a job with all the challenges that go along with this kind of a life, I’ve been in jail several times.  It all seems to be related to wanting to stick up for my and other citizen’s rights to sleep and not be harassed.  I’ve since learned to become quieter and wait for my time make a change.  But that time – in the judicial system – has not yet come for me.  I will have to be patient.  And while we are being patient, more people are dying from drinking and drugging their sorrows away and freezing to death and getting beat up by people who are hateful and enjoy the sport of it.  They are dying from malnutrition.  They are dying from not being able to support themselves through hard times.

But most of all – ALL THESE PEOPLE ARE DYING FROM A LACK OF LOVE.  Lack of love is the source of all our world’s problems.  I am convinced of this.  And so the solution seems simple enough – MORE LOVE.

I will devote my 100 hours to these people.  I may do chair massage or it may be some kind of full-blown table massage, but whatever it is…it will be for the benefit of those who are homeless – in need of the most love.

I think that that’s what JESUS would do.

In conclusion; and I know this has been a long essay – I cannot guarantee that I will be an excellent student.  Excellent by whose standards?  But I will do my best.  Apparently my best was good enough years ago when I made it through Marine Corps Boot Camp, and later while I was homeless, but holding down a serving job at the mall next to where I daily went to for massage training.  At the end, I was told that I had only gotten a B, but they were sure that had I not had all the challenges I had and could focus more, I would have gotten an A or A+.  One of those challenges was running from another town, where I was safer, with a backpack and a black, plastic garbage bag filled with my massage, school uniform.  In the pack were a bunch of books.  It was most of the way through summer but still incredibly hot, and I was running up the stairwell, well I blacked out and fell backwards, hitting my head against the wall on the second platform.  That’s how hard I worked.  That’s how much determination I had.  And I can recall one of our teachers commending me, because she had seen me riding my bike through a rain storm, while she was driving her car down the road.  I came in soaked to the skin.  If those things couldn’t stop me from getting my massage certification……

Then, why would anyone believe that anything less than that could stop me?

Thanks again for taking the time out of your busy schedule to read this.  I might not win – for sheer length of time it would take to read this email – and if that is the case, then I will take the news in stride and find some other way to live my dreams, give back to those who have helped me along the way, and serve those less fortunate – helping to inspire and lift them to heights they never knew were possible.

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David Lee Madison, Jr.

Nate – my street name , KnavetheMage on Twitter

~ZenNinja to others who saw me do my little ‘cat-walk’

Nate Love – my future pen name

and WordPressing it up on Synergy and Suprememasterjedi

Copied from my WORD documents in Boulder, CO

Monday, December 2, 201322:40