My Life As a Gamer

I’ve never had an addictive personality; I can’t stand cigarettes and grew bored of alcohol sometime after college.  For a very long time, however, I was addicted to the pixelated joy of gaming.  The original Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES for short, turns 30 years old this week. I personally haven’t touched a game controller … Read more

The Magic of Wildwood, NJ

  Wildwood has always held a special place in my heart.  As a child it was our annual summer vacation destination where I would explore Dracula’s Castle, eat my weight in ice cream at Duffer’s (BTW if you or someone you know works at Duffers they need to bring back the Volcano Sundae pronto), and … Read more

Return Refocus Renew

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Before I start this post, the first in many months, allow me to explain my hiatus from posting to The Masterpiece Mindset.  As you may know, the aim of my blog is to help elevate the human experience with discussions on a variety of topics, ranging from entertainment to more serious personal happenings.  While away from this site, I have been working on a new vehicle to spread positive energy and help improve your experience, as a reader.  This new vehicle is www.successphil.com – a way to inspire you to be Philtastic !  Make no mistake, the Masterpiece Mindset isn’t going anywhere, it just has a new and improved way to connect to you.

Speaking of returns, I returned to something this past weekend I had also been neglecting- my yoga practice.  While healing from a re-aggravated injury, I have been focusing on my internet business and connecting with other hungry entrepreneurs.  Although this time has yielded a great deal of growth, I had felt the old clouds of past failures and disappointments wander into my mind on a few occasions. I felt disconnected and at times, doubtful about my future.  While examining how to let these negative feelings go for good I realized when these issues were bothering me in the past, my yoga practice had been a ray of focus and positive energy to dissipate the clouds of doubt I was lost in.  I resolved to return to my practice but had apprehensions and was afraid.

The day of class I was so nervous I found every reason I could not to go to class.  I knew, however, I needed yoga and the positive effects of a regular practice in my life.  I hadn’t realized how long I hadn’t been to class when I strolled in.  I was expecting to find everyone warming up but was surprised to see the class was in mid-pose.  I jumped right into a pose without stretching, which is ill advised of course, and began attempting to match the positions as best as I could.  I realized about five minutes into my visit the class had started 30 minutes earlier, I basically barged into a class mid-way.  After the initial wave of embarrassment crested and washed over me, I started to slow down and focus on relaxation.   I found myself connecting with a well of positive energy and self awareness I had not tapped into in weeks.  My mind relaxed and allowed me to slow down to listen to myself so I could allow myself to focus.  If you’ve never practiced yoga, the best example I can think of is getting a good stretch from a tired overworked muscle.  The feeling of relief and freedom is a small degree of satisfaction I felt from my short Vinyasa flow yoga session.

What can one learn from my experience? The person who said you can’t go home had never really tried or perhaps had a compelling reason not to.  Returning to a practice or activity you not only enjoy but is healthy for you is something we should all aspire to do.  When in doubt, do what I did and remember the words of Virgin CEO Richard Branson from his book “The Virgin Way” – “Screw it, just do it!”

Philip A. Maenza aka “Philtastic Phil” is an internet entrepreneur and consumer behavior professional whose interests include art, film, music, stand up comedy, fitness, and comic books. Phil is also a dedicated community volunteer and always open to connecting with like minded optimists.  

What the film “Kill Bill” teaches us about goal setting and change

To say life can be unpredictable is an understatement. The unexpected can happen and often does, hopefully not in the same fashion as the opening scene of the film Kill Bill, as shown above nevertheless we can learn how to readjust and re-purpose ourselves after being thrown off course.

What I learned in 2014

Like everyone, I use New Years as a point to start my goals for the upcoming calendar year.  Notice I said goals and not resolutions, I make a clear distinction between the two as goals have dates and smaller steps attached to them whereas resolutions have often struck me as dreams or wishes.  I find … Read more

There is No Morocco: What the Film Almost Famous Can Teach Us About Goal Setting

As many regular readers to my blog know, I am a film fanatic and believe motion pictures, as with any art form, have the ability to educate the viewer about the human condition and about them self in a way no scientific material  or textbook can.  The Cameron Crowe film Almost Famous is my favorite picture and one I hold close to my heart for this very reason. For those who haven’t seen it, be warned I will most definitely spoil the story of the film in this post.  If you were planning on Netflixing the film tonight, its OK to close this screen for now (I forgive you) as long as you promise to come back here later when you’re done.  The movie has several layers; it’s a coming of age drama, a love story, and a love letter to classic rock based loosely on Crowe’s youth.   I’m not writing about a nearly fifth-teen year old film to give you a review, rather I had a thought recently regarding the characters in the film I feel we can all use to reach our own goals.

“All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.”
― T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph

The characters in the film are dreamers, to one extent or another. William’s mother dreams of her son growing up as a respectful grounded and intelligent gentleman.  His sister dreams of freedom away from her mother’s over bearing behavior. The fictional band, Still Water, dreams of the fame, and Penny Lane dreams of visiting exotic locations.  The film’s main character, William, however, is a different kind of dreamer.  While everyone else in the film treats their dreams like a fantasy world they can close their eyes and think about with no real aim in to make it a reality William is actively working towards his goal of becoming a professional music journalist.  So what makes William different than all the others in the film?

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First and foremost, he’s tenacious. We learn early on the film he has been submitting articles he’s written in his spare time for years to his idol, Lester Bangs.  This connection prepares William for his big break, writing an article for Rolling Stone on his new favorite band Still Water.  William is intent on getting the article completed, so much in fact he misses his high school graduation while attempting to get interviews with all the members of the band.

Second, he’s not afraid to ask for help.  William wrote the aforementioned articles not only to get his work published in Bangs’ periodical, Cream Magazine, but to recruit the journalist as a mentor. This not only led William to start this life changing journey on tour with an up and coming rock band but also served as a support system when he ran into trouble with the piece, later in the film.  He also recruits Penny Lane, played by Kate Hudson who received an Oscar nomination for her performance, to assist him in getting an interview with the elusive guitar player, Russell Hammond.

He’s willing to endure criticism.  William is very much an outsider and always has been in his life.  He’s too young, too smart, and at times too naive to embrace the world around him and its limitations.  Does he have tough mental armor made of steel and Kevlar?   Not at all, he is driven by his goal, amazement with creativity, and passion for music.

He’s not afraid to tell it like it is.  Throughout the film William gets distracted by the trappings of touring with rock stars, as I’m sure we all would.  The biggest and most charming scene in the film, typifies this perfectly.

At this exact moment, William realizes he is trapped.  He’s having a great time, feels like he’s one of the band, and even has the object of his affection, Penny Lane, leaning on his shoulder.  It’s a great, feel good scene, one that would probably trap any of us but William is focused on his goal. Several times during the film, when discussions with Penny Lane get a little too serious for her liking, she talks about her dream, going to Morocco.  What will she wear ? How will she speak? Until she meets William, however, she has no intention of actually going to Morocco, she just likes to daydream about it.  Towards the end of the film, William confront her about her diversionary tactics by loudly proclaiming, “There is no Morocco!”

It’s ironic in a film with characters who seem to be daydreaming about a life better than the one they have, the most grounded person is the kid who has the most impractical sounding goal.  The one major point of contention I have about William’s attitude toward his goals is hes too serious.  It’s been my experience if one takes their passion too seriously and doesn’t have any fun, they wind up hating it.  This seems to be something Penny Lane understood when she said, ” I always tell the girls, never take it seriously, if ya never take it seriously, ya never get hurt, ya never get hurt, ya always have fun, and if you ever get lonely, just go to the record store and visit your friends.” Lucking, it seem like Crowe picked up this lesson sometime after the events depicted in this film.  To recap, here’s what we can learn from Almost Famous and reaching our goals:

  1. Be tenacious, don’t give up. If it’s important you’ll find a way to do it.
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from a mentor or a college.  Everyone needs a leg up sometimes.
  3. You’re going to have critics.  They’re not living your life or paying your bills, you are.
  4. Tell it like it is- in my experience people often appreciate it when you’re blunt and find your honesty refreshing.

Remember these simple guidelines and work hard towards them every day.  Make each interaction and action prove to be one step closer in reaching the finish line.  Most importantly, never stop dreaming .  This can be easier said than done at times but dreams and ambition are the fuel that drives us towards our future.  These ideals will dramatically increase your chances of reaching your goals, whether they be visiting Morocco, losing weight, finding (or forgetting) love, or just being a better overall person.

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What are your tips for staying focused on you goals? Let me know in the comments and I’ll gladly respond and reply.

Philip A. Maenza aka “Philtastic Phil” is an internet entrepreneur and consumer behavior professional whose interests include art, film, music, stand up comedy, fitness, and comic books. Phil is also a dedicated community volunteer and always open to connecting with like minded optimists.  Oh, and like Russell Hammond, I am a Golden God. 

The Story of Two Monks – What Does it Mean to You ?

monkAssome of you may know, I regularly practice vinyasa flow yoga tohelp keep my back flexible as well as promote overall wellness.  At the end of one of my recent classes, my instructor read us a short story to meditate on during shavasana.

A senior monk and a junior monk were traveling together. At one point, they came to a river with a strong current. As the monks were preparing to cross the river, they saw a very young and beautiful woman also attempting to cross. The young woman asked if they could help her.

The senior monk carried this woman on his shoulder, forded the river and let her down on the other bank. The junior monk was very upset, but said nothing.

They both were walking and senior monk noticed that his junior was suddenly silent and inquired “Is something the matter, you seem very upset?”

The junior monk replied, “As monks, we are not permitted a woman, how could you then carry that woman on your shoulders?”

The senior monk replied, “I left the woman a long time ago at the bank, however, you seem to be carrying her still.”

Although I later learned this is a classic story from the Tao, it was new to me and I found it deeply interesting on a few different levels  After class a small group of us spoke about how it meant letting go of the past and either accepting situations for what they are or coming to a peaceful resolution.

Although I agreed with this translation of the story, I found as the week continued to march on, the story took on new meaning for me.  In terms of goals and decision making the story of the monks reminded me to focus on the bigger picture.  While the younger monk thinking all the reasons why he shouldn’t help the woman in distress, the elder monk realized this was an opportunity to work towards the purpose he has devoted his life to, the betterment of man.  Although I’m not a monk and have never aspired to be one, I assume the main objective of a monk is to reach enlightenment and commune with nature on a high level of consciousness. I’ve been reading, or more accurately listening, to Grant Cardon’s “10x Rule” lately and found his overall message is not unlike this interpretation of the monks’ story.  Although his unapologetic style meant to rile up the listener with a dose of equal parts inspiration and moxie is a far cry from the peaceful monks tone, both teachings remind us to focus on whats important in life.  Don’t waste your time and energy on coming up with reasons why something won’t work and focus on how you can make it work.

This past week also started and ran a fundraiser to benefit a friend who lost her home to a fire.  I’ve always had an altruistic nature and have been a member of several different charitable and community organizations in the past.  I set a goal of raising $1,000 and proudly touted my goal and my plan online.  I was initially surprised and almost dismayed when some people I had counted on helping out flat out declined to participate. I had to pause and tell myself I’m doing this not for my own benefit but to help out someone in need.  Perhaps these people who didn’t want to help were assisting in other ways and if not, it wasn’t a reflection on me or my friend it was a reflection on that person.  Needles to say, I re-focused on the task at hand and continued to plow ahead.  I didn’t hit my $1,000 goal but at the end I had raised money from sales and donations, which I originally hadn’t considered I would receive at all.  When I collect the donations and deliver them to my friend later this week, her happiness will have made the journey worth it.

Let’s look at this from the other monk’s perspective, one can always learn something new by looking at the other perspective.  In this case, the younger monk was confined by the regulations of his order.  I’m sure we’ve all felt confined by regulations and guidelines at one time or another. That being said, the monk in this situation should have focused more on what he could do rather than what he couldn’t do.  Perhaps he could have procured a boat or canoe to help the woman sail across the water.  Maybe he could have found a way around it by wrapping her in cloth so there was’t any skin to skin contact.  Either way this is a case of ambition, if the younger monk really wanted to help the woman he would have found a way.  The fact he didn’t help the woman doesn’t make him a terrible person; sometimes good people fail to act in good ways, but in his mind he knows he did wrong.  If not he wouldn’t be preoccupied with “would have” or “should have.”  He expected the other monk to ignore the woman as he chose to, the fact the elder monk acted differently bothered the younger monk, not because he failed to act but because he felt the actions of his associate made him appear like less of a person.

In summary, here’s what I took from the story of two monks:

  1. If you have a goal that is important to you, you’ll find a way to reach it or to stay true to your path to reaching it.
  2. Over-thinking, under-thinking,and not taking action doesn’t help anyone. and finally…
  3. When faced with adversity, don’t focus on why not, instead ask yourself how.

What are your thought about the story of the two monks?  What is your interpretation and how does it apply to a challenge you’ve faced or something you want to accomplish? I want to know – comment below and let’s chat.

Philip A. Maenza aka “Philtastic Phil” is an internet entrepreneur and consumer behavior professional whose interests include art, film, music, stand up comedy, fitness, and comic books. Phil is also a dedicated community volunteer and always open to connecting with like minded optimists. Phil is also all about that bass.