Where to Find the Courage to Challenge Your Beliefs by Asking what Serves You – On a Road to Self Acceptance with Tara Massan

By Seth Singleton

Rough Starts can still make for a great conversation.

I don’t feel good. Stomach trouble.

Tara hurt her back when she tried a new workout routine called HIIT. 
I forget to ask her to explain what this is and means. 
My best understanding is that it is High-Intensity Interval Training

My stomach, her back, means we are off to a rough start.

But, we both know the remedy. 
Rest enough and we will regain our health.
The body heals itself.

Oh, and I still have a lingering cough, so you hear me opening a cough drop and crinkling a wrapper. 

Maybe more than once.

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Today we are focusing on change

Tara came up with this topic and I thought it was important that we did it right, which is why I asked her to take the lead. 

If I was going to contribute to this idea, I needed to get out of the way enough to see what we were talking about. 

When I did, Tara’s purpose and direction led to an amazing discussion. Here are a few of my favorite gems

  • As we get older our life experience compounds and beliefs will be challenged.
  • It takes courage to change your beliefs. We all have permission to change our minds anytime we want.
  • We are often afraid to admit our mind has changed. 
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Start Simple

Let’s start with an example like nutrition. It’s a challenge to get the right nutrients from the things we crave. Making a choice to do something for our health can be uncomfortable, and it can even make our personal relationships awkward. 

Tara reads a great passage from White Hot Truth by Danielle LaPorte that really lends a fresh voice to the discussion.

Many people including ourselves are afraid to change their minds and behaviors because we identify with them. 

This is when an inner conflict will arise.

There are other examples:

  • Career change, quitting a habit
  • finding a new significant other
  • trying something new
  • or giving up something harmful like drinking diet soda and alcohol or smoking.

Permission Slips

One thing that can help is something Tara uses called Permission Slips. I love this idea because it is a way to remember that we deserve forgiveness. Tara’s examples describe a series of specific and general notes that allow each of us to be imperfect.

My favorite permission slip is when I need a day to rest. Taking stock of the work I’ve done that week, whether it is physical or emotional and giving myself a day off.

This is a great way to think rationally about what my mind and body need. It can even be a motivation for taking better care of myself. If I want to keep a successful streak going, I need to recharge for the next set of tasks that I want to tackle. 

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‘Tehuantepec’ Photo by Graciela Iturbide, 1980 Courtesy of San Francisco Museum of Modern Arts (SFMOMA)

We are allowed to be a walking contradiction

What does that mean?

It means to challenge your beliefs and ask questions all the time.

Where do we start?

Ask the question, Does this Serve Me?

We can also remember that it is okay to disagree. 

We don’t have to surrender to our beliefs. 

joseph Campbell 

I go on a rant about Joseph Campbell and his book The Hero With A Thousand Faces. It’s a great read that I return to often. At the end of his story, once he has taken the reader on a tour of the worlds belief systems, Campbell returns to the hero of the story, us. 

We are the star of the story. We are the son, the daughter, brother, sister, father, mother, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, novice and sage. 

About Tara Massan

Bio: 

Tara Massan is a Yoga Teacher, Personal Trainer, and Lifestyle Coach. She helps chronically stressed out adults create healthier lifestyles by addressing their obstacles through her 4 Pillars of Health: Mindset-Movement-Nutrition-Rest. 

She is also the creator of Be Moved and has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, US Weekly and the Huffington Post. She has also contributed to over 20 publications with one purpose: To help others live a healthier life.

You can connect with Tara by visiting her website www.taramassan.com or emailing her attara@taramassan.com

About the voice behind Storytelling with Seth

Seth Singleton is a storyteller.

He is the writing team editor at Blue Alchemy Studios and its upcoming release, Planet Rise and a free-agent writer who works by project and contract.

Seth believes that stories are a common thread that connects us all and that everyone has a story to tell.

You can visit his website at sethsingletonstoryteller.com.

To contact him about a writing or podcast project email him at sethsingleton@gmail.com

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A DISCUSSION ABOUT SPIRITUAL FREEDOM AND THE SCOPE OF TIME with FAR I SHIELDS & GREEN TEAM COMICS

By Seth Singleton

The story of your company, your brand, your vision is the story of you. The story of how you turned a dream into something real and tangible. Anyone can have a dream. Bringing your dream to life is the story of changing the world.

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Namaste by Far I Shields

Meet Far I shields

I met Far I Shields at AfroComiCon. That’s when I first heard about Green Team Comics 

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Self Portrait by Far I Shields

I was lucky enough to sit down for a conversation with Far I to talk about how this all began, where his characters come from, and how an idea became his life’s mission.

The saxophone and Spiritual Freedom 

We started with his introduction to music through piano lessons and moved into the spiritual freedom that came with playing the saxophone while listening to the radio. Instead of trying to play the exact notes of each song, Far I focused on playing along with the rhythm and melody of the songs “of his generation.” It was a moment that ignited a passion for music.

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The Birth of Sun Ray by Green Team Comics

Understanding the spiritual freedom that came from playing his music made it easier for Far I to recognize the transformation he experienced in 2009. A chance conversation, two introductions, and a movie with a message later, and he was ready to put aside real estate renovation and perform songs with a message of change.  

Next STeps

The next step was a challenge for Far I to put his energy into a movement of change with a direct impact. After witnessing the impression his mentor could create during one visit, Far I was convinced this was part of his mission. He started a green cleaning company and shared the example of cleaning without chemicals. 

Comics with a message

One night, in the late hours when the streetlights have come on and the sky, is dark, Far I’s cleaning equipment came to life. Their qualities and attributes became living breathing characters. Green Team Comics was born in the ether of creation. 

The first book The Scope of Time was more of an introduction that was more a story with pictures than a graphic novel. But, The Birth of Sun Ray is a full-scale comic book. It’s the next chapter in Far I’s story of rebirth and transformation. The goal? To leave a legacy of change. 

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To learn more about Green Team Comics visit www.bgreen4life.com/greenteamcomics.html

Read this excerpt from Far I’s website for more information about the man behind the mission.

Biography –

Far I Shields is a musician, artist, and author for global transformation.

His latest Book Release is the Birth of Sun Ray Comic Book available now for purchase@greenteamcomics.com

Far I Shields is a singer who has been providing musical performances since the age of 7. Now it is time for the creative works of Far I to be shared with the world. The journey begins. Raising the consciousness of human beings on the planet is the number one goal of Far I. Each song, painting, and book can be used as a vehicle for the viewer and listener to enter and transport to their higher selves or a higher state of consciousness.

We will change the world by changing ourselves. The key to each individual having a life-changing moment is to activate our dreams. Messages can be received moment by moment when we tune into the divine broadcast. This is the discovery of the beautiful world within. All aboard!

Visit www.farishields.com to learn more.

About the writer and interviewer:

Seth Singleton is a storyteller.

He is a free-agent writer who works by project and contract.

Seth believes that stories are a common thread that connects us all and that everyone has a story to tell.

You can hear more of his podcasts at Storytelling with Seth on streaming platforms everywhere.

To contact him about a writing or podcast project email him at sethsingleton@gmail.com

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Jack Katz: On Creativity, Synchronicity, Fear, and Romantic Beauty and Human Tragedy

By Seth Singleton

Discovery is an original experience.

I first experienced Jack Katz through his art.

I saw a drawing that was hanging in the restroom at Sam’s Log Cabin in Albany, Ca.

My wife and I had stopped in for breakfast. After we ordered our meal I used the restroom and saw the drawing of a mythic figure on the wall.

The title The First Kingdom was written at the top. He stood holding a longsword in his right hand, long hair trailing behind him to the cape billowing to his knees. The name Tundran was written at his feet.

Tundra-The-First-Kingdom

At the bottom was the inscription “To the Log Cabin, the best place to eat in California. All the best, Jack Katz.”

When we finished our meals I used the restroom again and took a photo of the drawing.

Back at our table, I asked one of the servers named Eric how the restaurant came by the drawing.

Eric told me Jack lived nearby and came in for breakfast. I gave him my card and asked him to let Jack know that I was interested in a conversation.

Eric later emailed me with the contact information for Jack and his associate Brian Miller. We arranged the date for breakfast and sat down in the back of the Log Cabin for a conversation about Creativity, Synchronicity, Fear, and Romantic Beauty and Human Tragedy.

Jack’s Biography – Excerpted from Jack’s website

Jack has dedicated his whole life to drawing and writing.  All part of a mission to get his thoughts out to the universe. His work spans numerous waves of comic book development. His paintings are rooted in the early years of 20th century American illustration and art and reach down into the present,

His most enduring accomplishment is the production of the 24-issue graphic novel known as The First Kingdom. Many have said it was the very first independently published graphic novel. It was re-issued in a four-volume set in the spring of 2005.

Jack-Katz-Artist

Today Jack teaches anatomy for figurative art students and continues to work on his comic book projects. He is currently creating a number of publications and videos that present his distinctive ideas of teaching figure drawing.

Anatomy by Jack Katz, Vol. 1 is the first volume of sketches. It is a collection drawn from the decades and illustrated for the advanced figurative art student. It presents the many ways that the dynamic human form can be expressed.

Contact & Support

Also, if you would like to support my podcast look for the support button on the podcast platform you are using to stream our content.

If your service doesn’t offer a support button you can always visit me on anchor.fm.

If you would like to contact me about support, recording a podcast or just to say hi, you can always reach me at sethsingleton@gmail.com.

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That One Night a Poetry Reading was Drowned out by the Background noise of an Excited dog and other Distractions

By Seth Singleton

I went to a poetry reading on August 30th.

I went to the reading to see two good friends Joseph Lease and Donna de la Perrière and to hear from a new poet named Natasha Saje from Utah.

I think it’s great to hear a different voice and hear her perspective. She called it a “dream come true and a marvelous experience.”

Vivarium-Book-Cover

Moe’s Books

It was held at Moe’s Books in Berkeley. Moe’s has a storied history among writers and poets.

Natasha is an English professor at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, and she made a point of stating that for her this was a powerful experience. It was a lot of fun to hear her description. Which, is understandable if you are just visiting or haven’t lived in the Bay Area for very long. Even if you have, Berkeley is similar to many bustling places, and the pace of our lives makes it easy to walk past gems like Moe’s and Pegasus bookstores on the way to work, the grocery store or coming home from anywhere.

Moe’s has a frenetic energy, in part, because of its location. It’s right at the corner of Telegraph and Dwight. Its location is prime not only because it is three blocks south of University Ave and the Berkely campus.

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The prime location invites street vendors, wanderers, and this can feel chaotic.  Unless you are familiar with this environment when you are driving or walking, and people who do not know where they are going, it can feel very confusing. When those people become restless, searching for a place where they can park or sit, and stop and think, it can be difficult to adapt to their erratic behavior and the response it evokes from others. The fact that unless you are familiar with the streets, being surrounded by people who are in a hurry is unsettling. They want to get somewhere that they can park and that makes it uncomfortable for anyone around them. They’re not going to drive with any comfort. It makes their actions seem sketchy, undecided, and inconsistent.

You’ve begun with this frantic energy that is so clear and prevalent and this great little bookstore that feeds on that momentum that people carry with them. Inviting anyone from outside to come in and experience the books and readings by Local and nonlocal poets. But it also creates the opportunity lack of understanding when it is clear to the people attending the reading that the people who are coming in and out are not paying attention to the reading or the impact that their coming and leaving are having.

I have some audio that I believe will illustrate or encapsulate one of these moments. We’ll see how well that works out. But I wanted to start out with this idea, in a bookstore on telegraph ave in Berkeley and a poetry reading. Because a few different ideas came out during this reading, and I think anyone who enjoys reading or writing or listening or even a public art performance like a poetry reading and experiencing this, what I am about to describe is probably going to feel not only familiar or disquieting in its familiarity whether you dislike people being interrupted, whether you dislike being interrupted yourself, when you are somewhere that you can’t control what’s happening around you when you are trying to enjoy something you want, again I think it goes back to that frenetic energy that I described.

Being aware of the reading

If you enjoy writing, reading, listening, or experience a public art performance or installation like a poetry reading and experiencing, what I am about to describe is going to feel not only familiar but also disquieting in its familiarity. Whether you dislike other people being interrupted or dislike being interrupted yourself, when you are somewhere that you can’t control what’s happening around you while you are trying to enjoy something that you want, I think it harkens back to that frenetic energy that I mentioned earlier.

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Sonorous Poetry – The Lyrical Joy

So, Joseph started off the reading with selections from his new book The Body Ghost. I first heard Joseph’s voice during the reading of excerpts from his early collections like Testify and Broken World. He has had poems featured in Best American Poetry and Norton’s anthology. They contain a lyrical quality that is something that has always drawn me to poetry.

I had the chance to talk with him after the reading. One of the first things that I focused on was that I enjoyed poetry because it is sonorous. It goes to my childhood and the musicality of the message. When I was a child, it was easy to receive my indoctrination into Christianity and Pentecostal through the engaging songs and the messages they relayed. They were inspirational and engaging. Over time they became familiar and comforting. Poetry has always offered that musicality that invites me to enjoy, and engage and participate.

So, there I was listening to Joseph read from The Body Ghost. It was funny that I ran into someone who was at another reading held at City Lights about 5 months ago, that I also attended. During a Q&A I pointed out a line that I really enjoyed about a skeleton in a suit stuffed in a mailbox. “Just a body in a mailbox.”

It was a very haunting image to me and presented so many different ideas. I mean questions of course. But, also interpretations of that image can ingrain itself on the brain, on the memory, and on the ear. The person I ran into was named Colin. When he talked about the reading he mentioned that someone had made a comment, and then he said repeated my comment about the mailbox. It was funny to share an affinity, that for me, had my own reasons for enjoying, and I am sure Colin also had his own, but that we could both have a connection for different reasons over the same line. We could both relate to Joseph’s work, not only through that one line but now through the shared experience of hearing it read aloud and engaging with it at a previous reading.

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After Joseph read, his wife Donna de la Pierre read from her upcoming chapbook. I don’t have any information on it at this time, and I don’t want to take the risk of bothering Joseph or Donna at this hour. However, if you would like to see some of Donna’s published poems you can start with True Crime.

Recording and Timing

Perhaps it is a good time to point out that when I am recording these podcasts before I transcribe them here, it is usually four or five in the morning. There is often less outside noise to create distractions. There are moments when I might be inspired to reach out and contact them. But, since they are in my timezone, and it is not two or three hours later in the day, they would probably prefer to just sleep and talk to me later.

Donna read from her new chapbook. She offers similar musical phrasing when she reads. And, yet, her voice is a different melody, that is a compliment to Joseph, but is also singular and that is a supplement to her style and voice.

And then there was Natasha, who I have never heard. She read selected poems from Vivarium. Someone who is writing from a different geography is writing from a different mindset that is based there. I like hearing that thinking because that it is often parallel and then perpendicular to my current internalization or rationalization of my ideas.

But, hearing the images and the sounds and the ideas that capture her desire for writing is a chance to see inside someone else’s process. And I like that, simply because it shows me something that I have not considered before. It encourages me to find ways to make my work stronger and better, and I think overall my work becomes more reflective. This allows me to engage more with the outside world and the subject I am trying to capture.

Without doing so I might have gotten as close as I could, but I know that I would not be able to get as close as I might consider. Simply because without knowing more, how can I consider more.

To contact Seth Singleton about storytelling, click here.

How Eating Breakfast and Watching the World Cup at the Athletic Club in Oakland Turned into a Discussion about Community and Responsibility on Hawaii and North America

By Seth Singleton

The story of a community is revealed when it responds to change. Communities claim many things, and the people within them proclaim even more. The decisions that are made when times are bad are a reflection of the possibilities that might be realized when they improve.

The Athletic Club

I ate breakfast with my friend DJ on Monday. We met at my place around 6:45 a.m. and walked down to the Athletic Club. The club opened its doors right before the NBA Playoffs began and even before the Golden State Warriors secured the championship, it had promoted itself as the home for World Cup action. The club was open every game day at 5 a.m. for the earliest matches.

Today the first game did not start until 7 a.m. Our challenge was that there were two games that were playing simultaneously. We had chosen the Uruguay vs. Russia matchup to see just how well Russia stacked up against established competition. Their first two wins were essentially blowouts against teams that struggled to compete. Uruguay has been a major player in the World Cup for decades. Their games had been close challenges and each time the players displayed their mettle. Russia would need more than momentum to defeat Uruguay.

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Old Teammates

DJ and I both played defense on our college soccer team back when we were old enough to dream about a career in professional sports. We ordered coffee and covered the hot topics in soccer. DJ brought up the newest documentary ESPN 30 for 30 called Nossa Chape about the rebuilding of an underdog soccer program from Brazil after most of the team perished in a plane crash in 2016.

DJ was heartfelt in his descriptions while summarizing the film. I really appreciated that he focused on the value of the community that the team had created before the crash. The players and staff cared about each other and all the families on the team, as much as their own. It made his explanation of the challenges that the club faced when it tried to rebuild the program that much more tragic.

The intention was honorable. The desire to rebuild in the memory of those who were lost is commendable. Honor and intention were not enough. Survivors felt forgotten, the pressure to succeed became an unbearable weight that hampered the players, and a secret that would change the scope of the tragedy was slowly uncovered.

Professional Dreamer

It also brought up an interesting point about the United States Men’s National Soccer Team and its failure to qualify for the cup this time around. When we were younger becoming a member of the USMNT was a dream, and because of our age, we believed that it was still a possibility. If nothing else it was an aspiration that drove us to want more, to try more, and to be more.

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Everyone young athlete dreams of playing on the biggest little screen

I can only imagine what the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball, or the National Football League represent to the players who dream of attaining professional status. When I was in high school and even after, Major League Soccer was a fledgling program. It was so small that it appeared that only players from international teams and European leagues and maybe the odd USMNT all-star or college standout made the cut.

And there were rumors. So many confusing stories about how to get in or what route to take. We wanted answers and we watched the games on television and we dreamed without any path to reach them.

Islands of Responsibility

The more we talked the more we were reminded of the community that DJ left when he moved from Oahu to California. He told me that the recognition that Hawaii was the nexus for cultures from every part of the world had led to a conscientious decision to recognize each of them equally. It was a shared responsibility that valued the need to work together.

Responsibility is a necessity on an island when the size of the land and the number of people using it guarantees that it will fail without responsibility. This is not an option, but a life and death understanding. Each person’s actions directly impact every other person on the island. It makes them dependent and accountable.

 

Wrapping Our Arms Around a Community

It also strengthens the bonds of community. By relying on each other, caring for each other as much if not more than we do for ourselves is the backbone of great communities. I do not know that a lack of community was a factor in the U.S. missing a shot at the World Cup in Russia. I do know that its best chances will come when the community values described by my friend, values exemplified by a soccer team from Brazil and the chain of islands that create the state of Hawaii.

The game ended and DJ and I went on to face our separate afternoons and evenings. Later I watched Portugal and Iran battle to a draw, much like Spain and Morocco were doing at the same time. I could not let go of the idea of community that DJ had planted in my head. It invaded the podcast I was recording and it became a theme that was more than I was capable of addressing because I was still wrapping my arms around it.

Hawaii and North America are very similar. Both are masses of land surrounded by water. The amount of land is finite. We can choose to wait for the space to run out and then treat each other like a community that must depend on each other, or we can act now and strengthen a bond that will make us stronger when our growing population requires us to live closer together.

Sometimes you meet a friend for breakfast and enjoy a polite conversation. I was lucky enough to watch the World Cup with my friend and teammate. When it was over I walked away with a reminder of the value that our teamwork created when we were younger, and what it now meant for our friendship.