Using Writing as Therapy: Weight Loss

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A study by Kaiser Permanente’s Center for Health Research which was funded by The National Institutes of Health shows that those who kept daily food records lost twice as much weight as those who kept no records.  “The more food records people kept, the more weight they lost,” said lead author Jack Hollis, Ph.D.  “It seems that the simple act of writing down what you eat encourages people to consume fewer calories.”

“Keeping a food diary doesn’t have to be a formal thing.  Just the act of scribbling down what you eat on a Post-It-note, sending yourself e-mails tallying each meal, or sending yourself a text message will suffice.  It’s the process of reflecting on what you eat that helps us become aware of our habits, and hopefully change our behavior,” says Keith Bachman, MD, a Weight Management Initiative member.  “Every day I hear patients say they can’t lose weight.  This study shows that most people can lose weight  if they have the right tools and support.  And food journaling in conjunction with a weight management program or class is the ideal combination of tools and support.”

Imagine the possibilities if you incorporated a food journal within the Thinking Anew process.  The act of writing down what you are doing combined with what you desire, will fuel the excitement and enthusiasm that creates awareness within us of how we get what we get.  We are creatures of habit.  When the habit of writing, expecting and achieving what we want becomes fixed, an exaggerated knowing becomes constantly present in each moment.  If we have the discipline to augment this process by carrying a small tune-up pad in which we restate and reinforce our desires by writing them down again in moments of doubt or negative thinking, you will find yourself doing what you at first thought was impossible.

Death Valley Retirement

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An author never knows where his book will show up.  Last week it was Paraguay, this week Thinking Anew is in Death Valley.  Hearing from readers is the best part of writing.  I was approached recently by a guy I swim laps with each morning wanting to know how I am handling retirement.  He knew I was familiar with his story – he ran a successful remodeling business for thirty years but the business died during the Great Recession.   He calls it forced retirement and uses the term semi-retired when someone asks what he does for a living.

The transition into retirement is difficult even under the best circumstances.  The urge to get back into the business world, as retirees used to know it, dies slowly.  It takes years for retirees to adjust and many never seem to make the transition.  In my case I went from being a left brain CPA and investment banker and found a way to awaken my creative right brain.   I learned to draw and paint and helped a psychotherapist friend write a book.  I also crew for a friend who is now on a two year repositioning cruise from Los Angeles to Miami with his Stevens 47 sailboat.

Retirement is the time for change . . .  profound change.  You must first find out what you don’t want so you can discover what you do want.  I found the best way to do that is to write my aspirations everyday for twenty or thirty minutes and record the raw creative thoughts that bubble-up during this process.  I avoid the stress builders like TV news and Talk radio.  While I spend way too much time with doctors, I do work out and I’m attentive to my creative desires.

Despite the social label, retired or semi-retired, you still need to grow as a person.  You will have urges for adventures.  You will still want to experience newness.   But how do you do this with limited resources, energy and beaten down desires?

The secret is the same for most successful ventures; you must be willing to help someone else get what they want.   You must be daring and willing to seek inspiration.  You must learn to play so you can find a way to reveal yourself.  And the odds of success increase dramatically if this is aligned with what you were meant to be.

My swimmer friend found a rustic spot to renew himself.  He goes to Saline Valley Hot Springs every year in late winter with his best friend who flies in from Minnesota.  Saline Valley is a desert oasis 65 miles up a dirt road just left of the entrance to Death Valley.  They soak in the hot springs, watch bats dive bomb for sips of water, stargaze, enjoy the desert breeze that breaks the solitude,  laugh at the wild donkeys who wander through camp, explore mountain trails  and marvel at how a coyote can open an ice cooler.  This year they decided to add writing to things they do at their desert oasis.

They told me they found old mines and themselves.   They laughed at how resourceful they had become and marveled at the desires they were developing.  They warned me this location may be too hard to reach for most people and they were sure there are many more places in this world you can go to find yourself.  The important thing is to have an evidence based methodology, a pen and paper.   Your imagination and your Higher Power will do the rest.  If travel isn’t in your plans, you may want to paste a photo in your composition book of where you would like to be.   Try using the power of writing for 90 days.  You will be amazed at your ability to creatively transform yourself and will love the changes taking place in your life.

No, I Can Do It

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No, I Can Do It.

A child is a master at learning new things.  If you need to reconnect with the skill of learning, watch what a child does and says when they tackle something for the first time.  When adults need to change, they need to become childlike . . . not childish . . .  childlike.   They need to give themselves permission to be a beginner.  They must be willing to stumble, to fail until they get it right.  Everyone has the ability to transform themselves, they just don’t use it.  They are hesitant to commit to the change process because of fear, doubt and embarrassment at looking silly.

My article, Where do passions come from, drew a lively response from around the world.  Some people agree with the premise that passion comes from childhood impressions, others believe passion comes from childhood trauma, while others argue passion comes from repetitive actions.

Children are passionate about learning.   As they grow older the learning process gets corrupted.  Their egos develop, social conformity takes hold, and they begin to automatically sensor their attempts at change.  Being cool is more important than being smart.  That’s one of the reasons mental health professionals tell us to get back to our roots . . . our golden years . . . and practice, practice, practice and try, try again.

Watch the video of Gavin Stevens, a blind four year old, take his first step off a curb by himself.  He tells his mother “No, I can do it.” Then he tells himself repeatedly “I can do it” . . . and then the joy of “I did it!”  It’s a powerful piece.  The courage to say “No I can do it” is a skill we all have, we just need to re-activate it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsXa-mAKDVs

Manhattan Dieting in L.A. – Size Matters

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I am bi-coastal.  I lived in New York for 34 years and have lived in Southern California for the last 34 years.  When my wife and I return to the city, we walk, walk, walk, climb flights of subway stairs and complain there are no places to sit.  But after the first three days we find we stop hurting and start feeling good.  We would call it our Manhattan Diet Vacation if it wasn’t for the pizza and the memory foods our relatives bestow on us.

So when my wife suggested I read the Manhattan Diet by Eileen Daspin, at least for her city living insights, I jumped at the chance.  While the book made me homesick, Daspin’s insight into Manhattan food habits changed how I think about food.

My wife and I loved the book so much we discussed Daspin’s insights with a serial dieting couple at the Claim Jumper Restaurant in Los Angeles during happy hour.  We had a lively discussion about the book’s take aways:  the need for constant food editing, going to a restaurant for the energy in the room, not the food on the table, various creative responses to get you through the rough spots . . . like having a few walnuts in your pocket at cocktail parties, the influences of fashion, friends and co-workers on your choices and how we must learn to recognize the sweet spot between not being full and not being hungry.

We felt so sophisticated and knowledgeable discussing these insights until we looked at the eight appetizers in front of us and realized we could feed 60 New Yorkers for under $50 in Los Angeles.  We also realized we need to create a food strategy, adapt it to our surroundings and find a way to internalize these valuable insights.

Imagine the impact you would have on your subconscious if while reading the Manhattan Diet you took notes and then turned those notes into your personal aspirations.  I can assure you if you write this powerful Eileen Daspin quote everyday for ninety days you will astonish yourself at how much better you handle your food intake.  Try starting with this – I shall learn to recognize the sweet spot between not being full and not being hungry.

Dreaming With Painting – Growth

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I had the pleasure of corresponding with Isabel de Anda, a fine art teacher and rancher in Paraquay.  She introduced me to one of her students, Juan de Dios Valdes,  “as a calm and modest painter with tremendous conviction and pristine approach, no influences in him yet, just the world as he had “eaten it” with his hungry eyes.”  The young Juan de Dios knows about aspirations, the need to grow constantly and quotes Eduardo Hughes Galeano, an Uruguayan journalist, writer and novelist whose books have been translated into twenty languages.   Juan de Dios is truly a master painter in the making.

As we grow older and need to cast off our smugness, we should honor our youth so we can re-activate the gifts and creative skills we have ignored for so long.  A childlike reality will help us become what we are meant to be.

Utopia lies at the horizon.
When I draw nearer by two steps,
it retreats two steps.
If I proceed ten steps forward, it
swiftly slips ten steps ahead.
No matter how far I go, I can never reach it.
What, then, is the purpose of utopia?
It is to cause us to advance.”

Eduardo Hughes Galeano

After the Bath by Joaquin Sorolla

Where Do Passions Come from?

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Sleepy, Needy, Poppy and Grandma were driving along the Newport Beach section of Pacific Coast Highway debating about where to have lunch.   Grandma rejected each of Poppy’s restaurant suggestions with female perspective.  “That place is too quiet to bring kids.   Sleepy won’t sit still there.  What would Needy eat? That place has nothing that’s on my diet,” when all of a sudden our 26 month old grandson, who rarely speaks in sentences, blurted out “I like that car.”  We all turned at once to see the object of his desire – a brand new yellow, red and gold McLaren sports car with butterfly style doors was there on display in a car dealer’s show room window.  The car’s designers had obviously mastered the art of seduction.

Grandma laughed and said “Wait until that impression bubbles up years from now when Sleepy’s father goes to buy him his first car.”  I can hear my son’s astonishment . . . Where did that come from?  at Sleepy wanting a $1.1 million sports car.

We spend our life accumulating and then trying to make sense of impressions.  We often want things but also need to determine if the effort or risk is worth the object of our desires.  Pacific Coast Highway has a long history of monied characters and trust fund babies killing themselves in high performance sports cars.

Though I suspect Sleepy wouldn’t understand but Needy might, I told Sleepy he should either marry well or he better get started soon harnessing his emotions so he could withstand years and years of arduous practice to master his chosen profession.    Making wealth or hanging onto wealth is a difficult process.  These are learned skills and the distractions are subtle and endless.   Membership in the lucky sperm club might have its privileges but third generation wealth rarely lasts.  Business models are changing so fast it’s getting harder and harder to live off past successes.

Diligence is the source of most wealth.  If you are so lucky to receive the gift of passion for a cause or task, you will still need to develop your ability to harness your strengths and weaknesses.  The movie Arthur is a great story about unbridled passions; the havoc wealth can cause for someone unprepared to handle abundance and the downside of attractions to toys and bling.   Even if you marry into money, the challenges are still there.  Look at the sad story of Maureen O’Connor, the widow of the co-founder of Jack-in-the Box restaurant chain and former mayor of San Diego, who recently acknowledged in court she misappropriated more than $2 million from her late husband’s foundation,  to fund a casino gambling habit where she won and lost over $1 billion.

How can you harness your emotions so you can obtain the objects of your desires?  It takes practice, practice, practice.  A strong work ethic combined with a passion for discovery and exploration can translate into higher motivation and persistence.  You learn by doing: hours and hours of study, miles and miles of running and if you are going to be an artist, acres and acres of painting.   There are no short cuts.  Self awareness and the ability to motivate yourself will allow you to find contentment …a runner’s high . . .  where others find the work hard or impossible.  The mild euphoria that accompanies passion will allow you to handle the waves of emotions that try to distract you from your mission.

Passion allows you to work later at night and get up earlier in the morning.  You can’t stop feelings from bubbling up from within but you can learn to harness them.  You need to learn to self-motivate, control your impulses, manage your ego, handle frustration, and delay gratification while you grind it out.  Passion will take you beyond proficiency –  to not only be the best of the best but the only one who can do it effortlessly, over and over again.

Upon arrival at Woody’s diner, Sleepy was fast asleep in his car seat.  Grandma said she would stay with him while Needy and I ate.   I have learned when plans fall part, some people dream about fast cars while others get to enjoy a banana split with their granddaughter.

Where You Can Find Me

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Solving the riddle of what you are meant to be is a lifelong challenge.  We are always changing and who I was yesterday is not who I am today.  So where do you go to find yourself?   The trick is get past your conscious sensors . . . where you usually hang out  . . . so you access your subconscious . . . your soul.  Expressive timed writing can get you there.  Find a journal.  Spend ten minutes writing about what you are meant to be and don’t stop no matter what the distraction.  I guarantee you within two minutes your mind will be screaming “this is a waste of time. What a dumb idea this is.”   Ignore these distractions.  Don’t stop writing.  It’s your ego feeling threatened.   What you are trying to capture and make visible are the raw creative thoughts that will well up from within your subconscious.

 

Father Tim Bushy recently introduced me to a lovely celebration and re-commitment journal that contained this great advice.  “During periods of transitions, I’ve thought and prayed “What would God have me do?” – as if I expected to become aware of something that was outside of me and/or separate from me.  Reflection leads me to know that it is my innermost desire which will lead me to the answer.  My deepest longings/cravings are rooted in God; they evolve from God within me.  The unfolding occurs in a variety of ways but being attuned to/holding to the world of life.”   Linda Faulhaber, CSJ, Proclaiming the Great Love of God:  Living With a Jubilee Heart – (A Journal)

 

The journal is available at each of the 7 advanced care hospitals operated by the Sisters of St. Joseph  Orange in Orange County, California and the High Desert.

I Did It

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I did it . . . the words every parent loves to hear from their child.  There’s so much pride and joy  contained in those ancient but simple words.

My art friend recently sent me a video from Christian Broadcasting Network where artist Ron Di Cianni explains how he painted the Resurrection Mural that now hangs in the Museum of Biblical Art in Dallas, Texas.  Di Cianni did his research and painted the emotions he felt when reading the story of each of the characters he painted on the mural.  This is what painting and writing is all about . . . sharing and communicating your raw emotions.

Di Cianni tells about painting those basic words on to Christ’s face as He exited His tomb beaming to His father “I did it.”

Whenever you overcome your fears and accomplish what you thought was impossible, make sure you wear the joy and pride on your face and tell someone “ I did it.”

Radio interview – NetCast Studios’ Conversation Corner

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You can listen to the podcast of Dick Quis’ March 7, 2013 radio interview on NetCast Studios’ Conversation Corner with radio hosts Rick Limpert and Steve Lee where they talk about Moynihan and Quis’ new self-help book Thinking Anew: Harnessing the Power of Belief and self-publishing.  Listen in as they delve into the business side of marketing and promoting a book and explore why Quis believes so strongly that writing a book is a creative act, but selling and marketing a book is a business venture.

Link: http://netcaststudio.com/richard-quis-self-publishing-books/

The Gift that Keeps on Giving – Our Ability to Create

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I heard a story on the radio about how someone’s grandma was the gift that keeps giving.  She was buried in a plot in Signal Hill, California years before oil was discovered under the cemetery.  Since the family owned the plot and the mineral rights under the coffin, they were entitled to receive royalty payments from whomever they let extract the oil.  Sometimes it’s better to be lucky then smart. 

While most people don’t inherit fortunes, each of us are born with the ability to create.  Our Thinking Anew composition books are where we make our creative thoughts visible.  This is where we document the imaginative possibilities that bubble up from our subconscious.   When faced with the need to solve an intractable problem, you need to get out of your left brain and into your creative right brain and play with the issues.  Yes, play with them.  Rearrange them.  Dress them up or make them naked.  You will know you have a solution once your emotions create goose bumps on your arms or a calm settles within you.  Once you have found the solution or at least a strategy you would like to try, you then need to get into your left brain so you can execute your new strategy.

Never underestimate your imagining ability to solve problems.  Genius is the ability to access your experiences.  Showing up each morning for your daily free range writing is what is most important.  Don’t ever feel guilty for the gifts that keep on giving.  They’re your birthright.