See Ya Later Old Friend…

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I just realized tonight that since I started my new blog, I never posted the new site address here.  So I thought I would once and for all bid farewell to Thoughts From the Couch and invite everyone to enjoy my new site Peterisms as well as my lifestyle magazine raannt! This blog was a good friend but I have moved on to other things.  Please check out my new sites below! I love you all!

Peterisms is HERE!

raannt is HERE!

Much love and I’ll see you on my new sites!

Peter

The Best Year of My Life: Week One!!! Divafied!

SummerAre you ready to have The Best Year of Your Life???? I am and I’m really excited to start this journey! In fact…I’m so excited I’ve already started doing my assignments even though I just finished uploading the video companion to Week 1.  If you haven’t read the previous post or watched the previous video, take 30 minutes and do both.  The whole series of assignments won’t really make sense if you don’t follow it in order.

I’m waiting…

Now that you’ve caught up, let’s get started on this journey!!!! I don’t want to repeat what I said in the video so I’m just going to list the assignments.  The videos are kind of like “coaching” sessions to go along with the assignments.  If you want extra help or have other things you want to talk about, please contact me at peter@raannt.com and I’ll explain how I do Skyping sessions or set up appointments.  Ready for the assignments??? Here you go:

1. Make a Diva CD or playlist that will help you get invigorated and feel empowered.  Your music choices will be different than everyone else but make sure that the music you pick is not music that will make you sad or think too much.  The music choices should be fun and inspiring.  Maybe a gospel song? Maybe a dance song? Maybe your favorite song from a musical?  Maybe something by AC/DC??? Who knows…it’s your CD/playlist so make it as personal as possible.  Any time you need to feel invigorated slip it in, listen to it and take on it’s power!

2. Write a mission statement for you year long journey! It doesn’t matter what you say or how crazy it sounds, just make it personal! This is your journey and your mission.  Make sure you sign it so you’re signing a contract with yourself!

3. Write 5 year long goals that you want to have achieved when your journey is complete.  Make sure these are realistic goals and goals that don’t require other people to change.  We don’t have power or control over other people.

4. Make a list of 50 movies you want to see.  They can be picked from a list, movies that won Oscars or just movies you’ve always wanted to see.  Movies expand our world view and understanding.  They allow us to see the world through other people’s eyes.  Plus…it’s fun to a more cultured film buff! You will be watching one movie a week. If you need suggestions here’s Roger Ebert’s list of movies!

5. Make a list of 50 books you want to read.  You will be reading one book a week.  These do not need to be long books, but they could be.  Or you could decide to read one longer book a month and four shorter books each week(Dr. Seuss for example).  Books broaden our minds, serve as continuing education and help us to be more cultured and intellectual.  If you need a suggestion of books to read, the internet is filled with book lists of popular books or books you should read before you go to college.  I pulled from all to make my list.

6. Make a list of 100 things you want to do/try in the next year.  These could be anything from eat blueberry pancakes to running up an escalator the wrong way.  Be creative but also include things that you’ve always wanted to try.  For the list of 101 Things To Do Before You’re Old and Boring click HERE! The list is amazing!

7. Make a list of 100 things that make me happy.  This will be a really personal list because it’s about you! They are your things and won’t be things that make other people happy.  Every time you start feeling down or are having a bad day, open your list and do one of your things.  The list will serve as a magic drug to pull us from our porch stoop of sadness.  If you don’t think you can come up with 100, check out this list of over 140,000 things to be happy about…

Finally…your daily assignment! At the end of each day, you will make a list of 10 things you are grateful for and why you are grateful for each thing.  Why wish for more things in our life if we’re not grateful for what we already have in our life? Focusing on a life of gratitude will help us look back on our days, and our lives, with more gratitude for what we’ve been given or experienced!

And that will be the foundation for our year long journey!!! Do you have a title??? My title will either be Divafied or Blueberry Pancakes Fly Me To The Moon! Titles make things more fun and personal so make sure it’s the perfect title for you.  Draw a cover for your book.  Doodle inside.  Make it your own.  Sleep with it.  Set your cup of coffee on it.  Get to know it.  Make it your own!

Get your foundation built and I’ll see you next Tuesday! Oh…and watch the damn video! Cuz we’re on borrowed time as it is!

 

 

The Best Year of My Life: Introduction

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Last night, I was driving around listening to Coast to Coast radio, something I normally do when I can’t sleep.  As George, the host, interviewed “experts” about remove viewing spies and backyard alien abductions, I found myself intrigued as I often am and wondering just how many of these things could be true. When we’re younger, we often believe in all kinds of things, only to go through the Santa Sydrome(realizing the belief in Santa Claus is ridiculous), and become staunch realists.  I have always resisted these lines of thinking and have held true to my most innocent and childish thoughts.  My mother’s proudest moment, if she were still alive, would be that I still believe in fairy tale endings, love at first sight, alien encounters, a higher power…and yes, Santa Claus.  Call me crazy, but I’ve always believed that having a colorful and magically creative world around us makes it entirely too difficult to be miserable and unhappy. 

For some reason, listening to this one “expert” discuss how to turn negative energy into positive energy I realized that I had somehow drifted away from my old way of thinking; laughing til I thought I’d collapse, singing at the top of my lungs in the car, dancing in the kitchen and ultimately dashing care to the wind.  Yes…I had grown up and started caring about things like, “I wonder what Mrs. Smith would think?” or “I wonder what my old co-workers think when they see my pictures?” etc, etc…But why do I care?  Because maybe I’ve never found true acceptance.  Or…because maybe I can preach total self-acceptance but am unable to do the same myself.  What hypocricy! And that’s when it hit me hard…not so much like a punch in the stomach…more undeniable…more like a hard, swift kick in the balls. 

For the past five years since my mother’s death, I’ve lectured about living every day as if it’s your last, enjoying every aspect of your life, allowing every day to be a learning experience, living juicy and free and basically making the most of your life.  This is not a dress rehearsal.  Yet most days I find myself, hands in pocket, strolling through life.  What happened to the little kid who wanted to put on puppet shows for hours or dreamed of being a movie star or bestselling author? What happened to having a house filled with colorful candles, fresh flowers, crazy art work and books, books and more books? What happened to living the juiciest and craziest, yet fulfilling life possible.  Hell…I had even made a video claiming to stick to a 30 day plan and fell off the goal wagon after day 2!

Enough already! Enough, I thought.  I need to bring all areas of my life together. Years before  client had told me that she felt I could help her the most because I had the counseling background and had made many significant changes in my life but I also lived a crazy, extravagant life through our website raannt, and I could teach her how to have a fun and crazy and carefree live too! Yet I had somehow forgotten how to do this myself. 

And then, driving through the countryside with the window down, I thought, maybe I need to really act like this is the last year of my life, make it the best year of my life and document the journey, while guiding others with the knowledge I already use every day.   And instantly the song on the radio changed to Bob Dylan’s Blowin in the Wind, my mom’s favorite song.  Call it chance or synchronicity, but to me, it was a sign.  I was on the right track. 

So here it is…For the next 52 weeks I’m committed to living the best year of my life! While I’m doing this, I will giving myself assignments, which I encourage you to follow along with me.  At the end of the year, I will be turning this journey into a written example, and hopefully I’ll find that it worked…I did live the best year of my life…so far.  And then I’ll start over!

Starting tomorrow, I will post the assignments for the Introduction week and what assignments you will do on a daily basis.  I give almost all of my clients creative assignments regularly.  The ones who do the work receive the most change.  The ones who don’t only cheat themselves!

Several years ago a new client told me she only had enough money for 10 sessions and could I “fix her” in that amount of time.  Of course, forever the internal optimist and consummate businessman, I told her yes, definitely.  She told me she wasn’t afraid of assignments, readings, movies, whatever as long as I continued to give her more.  After the third week I found myself struggling for new ideas for assignments because she completed every single assignment I gave her.  Sometimes we discussed and processed them and sometimes we didn’t.  But she knew they were her assignments and she was proud of them.  During our 9th session, she asked me if I felt she had completed her work and was ready to move on without seeing me.  I could not find a single reason why she needed to continue.  To this day, she remains my most positively changed client…and she did all of the work.  It was her journey which she allowed me to join.  When I started working with her, I had no idea if she would be successful or not.  But I really, truly believed she would be successful.  There is a huge amount of power in hope and belief.  If you don’t believe you’ll be successful, you won’t.  I know this next year I’ll be successful…do you?

If you’re willing to take the journey with me go out and get a notebook.  Any notebook will do, but it must be empty of any work; a completely blank slate.  Tomorrow I will give an overview of the program and your daily goals. 

And you better do it…cuz as my mom used to say, we’re on borrowed time as it is! Please follow along with my Best Year of My Life videos at my YouTube channel HERE! And make sure you subscribe and comment! Love ya!

Decision Tree

This is a pretty simple concept. When I was in fifth grade all of the kids in the neighborhood decided we were going to steal alcohol and cigarettes from our parents and throw a little party. Needless to say, my best friend and I were the youngest, 9 and 10, while the other kids were almost in high school. Because they were much older, the told us we should bring the beer and cigarettes. If I remember correctly, I volunteered to bring the cigarettes and my friend stated that he would bring the beer.

Later that night, we met in the middle of the cul de sac, our loot in tow. We ventured out to the woods and began to have our party. I think we might have lit one cigarette and shared a fourth of one beer before a parent found us and the party was busted.

Being the my parents had recently divorced, but continued to always parent on the same page, my mother called my father. Later that night he showed up. I don’t remember much about what happened that night but I do remember sitting on the steps in our entry way talking to my parents. Although I cried the entire time, my parents were not harsh or bitter, only asking me to be as honest as possible about the activities of the evening and who decided what was to be brought to the party.

I didn’t know it at the time, but every other kid involved lied and placed the blame of the evening on me. Apparently I was the one who came up with the idea. I was the one who volunteered to bring the beer and the cigarettes and I was the only one who drank or smoked. Funny…I didn’t remember it that way?

My parents asked me only once, “Are you sure that’s the truth?”, and I answered yes. “If you say it’s the truth, then I believe it’s the truth.” My father said. “We raised you to be honest and I believe we did our job.” There was some discussion about what I thought my punishment should be and then I was dismissed while my parents sat on the front porch and talked about the incident…while drinking a beer.

For the rest of that summer, all of the kids in the neighborhood were unable to play with me because their parents had termed me a “bad influence”. They would ride up and down the street and shout “smoker, smoker” and “drinker, drinker” at me, knowing they had been part of the party as well.

I was 10. During that same summer, my friend and I had been caught by his father dressed in drag in the front yard of my house. My mother took a picture of us, every bit the Kennedy clan in wide brimmed hats, smoking tree twigs as cigarettes. His father had been furious. My mother laughed as our neighbor hauled my friend away while tripping on his long gown.

When I was in high school I got in trouble for another drinking party. While talking to my father over dinner he brought up the incident from the summer of my tenth year. “You know, I was always very proud of you for that night.” He said. “The other kids were rewarded by their parents for lying because those parents couldn’t deal with the fact that their children could possibly engage in such behaviors. They received new hockey equipment and shoes while you were punished for your involvement. Their lies will haunt them.” He told me.

“In life, there is a decision tree. The tree grows into a trunk which supports the rest of the tree. This is the foundation of your morals and values given to you when you are young as well as any of your genetic makeup. Next, we have the branches. Each branch splits in two eventually. Each branch represents choices you make in your life. Each choice leads to two or more choices and so forth. As you grow, your decision tree grows and all of your choices compound on top of one another. I wish I could show you my decision tree, and explain all of the good and poor choices I made in my life so that you could live your life to the fullest based on my experience. Unfortunately, you have to grow your own branches. Your mother and I always understood that which is why that evening, whether you had been telling the truth or not, we knew your choice would ultimately affect mostly your life. One lie would lead to another lie and to another lie. As life moves forwards, those kids who lied that not will display similar behaviors but you will be a finer human being for telling the truth and moving through difficult choices.”

And then he patted my back and the lesson was over.

I won’t bore you by telling you I became one of the most prolific liars this century has ever seen or that I had countless arrests and addiction treatments. I won’t bore you with how I treated people horribly, felt that I was owed something from my family and blamed other people for all of my mistakes. I won’t bore you with the countless drugs I did or how much alcohol and cigarettes I used over the years. I definitely won’t bore you with details about how I didn’t care about others’ feelings for years and only, selfishly, thought about my wants and needs.

But I will tell you that because of those years, I do not behavior in any way like that today. In fact, I attempt to live such a right life by the standards I set for myself that I am completely offended when others challenge these values. About a year ago, a business associate accused Alex and I of lying about how we had witnessed an event and reported it. I won’t dredge up the past because, as I stated, I’ve learned from those behaviors and don’t react the same way today, therefore we are friends again and both apologized for hurting each others’ feelings.

Needless to say, in being called a liar I explained that I was completely offended because that challenged the foundation of my sobriety and my values. If I am a liar, then the rest of it is a scam true; my recovery, my relationships…all of it. I might be a lot of things. But I am not a liar. Those behaviors of yesteryear were my picking the wrong branches to climb. Today, I choose different branches because I’ve learned…and my dad was right. In looking at his choices and the choices of others, and learning from one another, I’ve been allowed to live a better life.

While dissecting your life, ask yourself, Am I happy? Are there things I want to change? Are there things I believe are out of my control? What would I change today that would make me happier?

Now look at your choices!

You have many choices. The fact is not that you don’t have choices. The fact is that you don’t like where your choices lead. Many of us don’t like our choices, but sometimes choices we didn’t want to take led us in the right direction. I had no intention of staying in treatment on December 17, 1994 but by going I’ve been allowed to have the most amazing life possible. While working in treatment, I was adamant I was not going to participate in a new family group therapy program that had been designed, but after making the choice to participate rather than be fired, I learned I loved working with families. I was also forced to do an internship in an inner city elementary school. I begged and pleaded with my dean to let me do another internship, but due to my lack of planning, it was all that was left. During that internship, I met my mentor and had some of the best life change experiences ever!

It is easier to let go than to resist.

That branch was my most important.

My parents were very wise. They knew how to raise me with enough liberty to become the person I was meant to become while guided enough to have the values and morals they had learned would further me the most in this life. They were wise because they never allowed me to see them argue, with the exception of a few occasions, and they never spoke poorly of each other. They never made parenting decision without consulting one another. They did this because they loved me. They were the best parents any kid could wish for in life.

My mother was very, very wise. She never threw anything away in fear of possibly needing it again someday. Downstairs in our basement, right on top of her old Smith-Corona typewriter, sits a gorgeous photograph of the Kennedy sisters, both draped in beautiful dresses, wide-brimmed floppy hats shading their faces as they drink lemonade and smoke cigarette tree branch twigs.

I might post that picture someday…hell, we’re on borrowed time as it is!

Dreams…

I nap every day. I love to listen to people talk about taking a 30 minute nap or a disco nap. A nap to me is at least 2-3 hours. I recently heard a statement that hundreds of years ago, people slept two times a day for 3-4 hours at a time. That would totally work for me. I love to sleep, but I like to be up really late at night. They say the freaks come out at night and that’s probably true. I think I achieve more between the hours of midnight and 6am then any other time during the day.

Today, I kept waking up from my nap and falling back to sleep and waking up and falling back to sleep. It was…amazing. I love sleep where I fall back into a dream. Do you ever wonder where dreams originate? I’m not talking about neuroscience and sleep studies. No…I’m talking about where are our dreams born? Recently, I’ve even wondered if my dreamstate is reality and my waking life is my dreamstate. Sometimes, I confuse myself or think I’m going crazy, but I know I’m not.

When I was a little kid, my mom gave me a journal to write down my dreams. She said if when I woke up I immediately wrote down my dreams then I would remember them more clearly. I now remember my dreams very clearly. Sometimes…too clearly. Today, my dreams were very, very strange. I’m thinking about beginning to write down everything I dream about and turning it into a weird little book. I need a title though…that’s what keeps me from writing most of my books. Oh well…

What do you dream about? Do you write down your dreams? Do you remember your dreams? I believe dreams are a woven tapestry of our subconscious mind with souvenirs of our daily life. What do you think? I’d probably have more to say about it if I didn’t need to go to sleep and go back to dreamland…because we’re on borrowed time as it is.

The Reinvention…

Sometimes I like to imagine I’m a badass bank robber hiding out in some small town, sleeping in a small, hot room in a boarding house while some old grandma type makes me coffee in the kitchen below. Other times, I like to imagine I’m laying on a bed on the Titanic in it’s last minutes. What would I think? What would be my last thoughts. Sometimes I like to imagine I just won the $100 million dollar lottery. What would be the first thing I would buy? Would I really give any to charity? Maybe I’d just disappear.

I’ve been thinking a lot the last few days about my reinvention. I think its important to reinvent yourself often. Change things up. Dye your hair a new color or get a new haircut. Buy clothes you wouldn’t normally wear and force yourself to become accustomed to wearing them. I already have my physical transformation planned for this fall, I just need some preparation getting there. What would your physical transformation be if you could change anything. Why aren’t you working on it now? Life could be over soon.

I used to see this client who had this amazing imagination technique. She would stand in her living room and imagine she was a famous singer on stage singing to thousands of fans. She would plug in her ear phones and become that person. Sometimes she would imagine she was running a marathon and would talk to her friends she was running alongside. Often, in her imagination, Alex and I would be on the sidelines, rooting her on. She thought she was crazy. She wasn’t. She was creative. She had one of the most creative minds I had ever encountered she just needed a way to channel those imaginative skills into creative productivity. I hope she’s learned to love that part of herself. If she hasn’t, at least I’ve learned how to apply it to my life.

Today, I drive around town, singing at the top of my lungs. I imagine I’m Kenny Chesney or Tim McGraw and fans are throwing stuff on stage at my feet. I try to really stand inside and imagine what they must feel like in that moment, because it is so appealing to me. Often, while walking into a crowded restaurant or shopping mall, I’ll imagine myself walking through the very same place, but everyone is staring at me because I’m super famous. I had a client tell me one time they thought I was obsessed with fame. At first it pissed me off, but the more I thought about it I realized he was right. Fame means you have acquired ultimate acceptance. But who am I really looking for acceptance? Myself.

I’m the fan standing in the audience looking at myself. I’m the person standing in the mall wondering “who is that guy?”. This is where the real reinvention begins. Understanding why it is important for you to feel different than you already feel, accepting that you’re ok if you never achieve that change and plunging full force ahead into becoming the person you want to become.

Let’s be honest. It’s great to be all philosophical and humble, but if we want to be movie stars or famous writers, why can’t we? Why is it so bad to want the best in life. Why would we want the worst in life? Just because we aim higher doesn’t mean we’re self centered…it means we’re goal oriented. It means we’re dreamers and dream makers. Some people will never understand and those have been the people we’ve been trying to please for way too long!

Who cares anyway. Life is too short to worry about what other people think. I’ve worried too damn long and it hasn’t gotten me anywhere. Most people don’t respect my moral choices anyway so thank God I didn’t do it for them. But maybe now it’s time to aim a little higher.

Maybe now…it’s time to be the Most Interesting Man in the World…because we’re on borrowed time as it is!

Lessons in Reverse

I’m extremely tired but I made the commitment, to myself more than anything else, to write on this blog every day for the entire year I am 40 and if I don’t write the very first day it doesn’t give me much of a head start. So here I am…3:34 am, having just finished the movie Red State while munching on an enormous bag of Swedish Fish and tolerated the 100 degree heat seeping in through the walls of our house. I’m 40…and a day.

Turning 40 wasn’t nearly as strange as yesterday. Yesterday was the last day of my 30’s and I realized this about half way through my work day. I was sitting at my desk, talking to a prospective client on the phone and I thought, “holy shit…this is the last day you’ll ever be in your 30’s!”. Blindsided.

But I’m over that now. Funny how things we find so profound or important quickly pass. Now my only real concern is finding my way up the stairs to the cool of the sheets and the wind from the fan. Today has been a mundane day. I was supposed to be in Vegas for my birthday but we decided to cancel the trip and take it later in the year when we had more spending money. If you’ve kept up with my reading you already know that I was pretty undecided about what to do for my birthday, so let me fill you in on what happened.

I woke up at about 11 and rolled around in bed reading all of my Facebook birthday wishes from friends and strangers. Then, while Alex went shopping for my birthday presents, I went to get coffee. I came home, made my daily YouTube video that will accompany these posts and waited for Alex. Minutes later he came home and we opened my presents. After a brief fight, which had nothing to do with the presents, we went to the pool, only to be met by several small children and an unbelievable, summer storm. I thought I might like to do a little shopping but instead we napped…for several hours. This was no ordinary nap, but instead the kind of sleep you wake from several times and try to fall asleep quickly to return to your dream because it is so good. When we woke up it was almost 8:30. We dressed quickly and went to Cheesecake Factory. After devouring a cheeseburger we walked outside to be met another couple who are quite good friends. We sat in front of Starbucks for hours shooting the shit and by the time it was midnight, I was exhausted and ready to go home…only to get my second wind. Alex was more than willing to watch a movie since it was my birthday. I chose Red State over Play Misty for Me and enjoyed every minute of it. I took the dogs out and they are now asleep next to Alex which is exactly where I’ll be the moment after I post this post, which by now probably seems to have absolutely no point.

It has a very, very important point…and lesson.

I was bored today. Like I was really, really bored. I was really happy to be able to spend an entire day with my husband, something we rarely get to do anymore, but still…I was bored. Not sad bored…happy bored. But bored nonetheless. And do you know who’s fault that is? Mine. That’s right. I didn’t plan a damn thing for my birthday because I wanted to play it simple and not plan anything…and that’s exactly what I got…simple and unplanned. I imagine if I had gone to Vegas or planned a big party or dinner, then that is exactly what I would have done.

The point I learned, as I was constantly reminded by Alex that this was how I wanted to spend my birthday, was that we dictate the outcome of our own lives…most of the time. If we want to sit around and be lonely and bored, we can make that happen. If we want to be happy and entertained, we can make that happen too! Its all up to us. If we want to be actors, we can audition for a play, or even direct and star in our own plan and show it in a public park or our own living rooms. If we want to write a book we just need to sit down at the computer or open a pad and start writing. I really don’t care what anyone has to say because the naysayers will challenge this but it really is that easy.

Period.

And you better get this quick before you spend the rest of your life bored, lonely and bitter. Trust me…it sucks…and we’re on borrowed time as it is.

Watch my video blogging series every day that coincides with these posts! Join my journey with me over the next 364 days!
HERE is my YouTube Channel Pemovision!