Creativity

ALN4: How Do You Unblock Yourself?

Greetings my fellow Life Alchemists!

Here are 9 things I thought were worthy* to share:
*worthy defined as having the potential to alchemize/transform your life in some positive way if you take action on it.

1. Three Simple & Powerful Tools To Create Breakthroughs In Your Life

  • Morning Pages: This is 3-pages of unfiltered stream-of-consciousness hand-written (with pen or pencil) within 30-minutes of waking.
  • Artist's Date: This is a date by yourself (alone) for yourself (aka your inner child). Anything goes. The guiding rule is "fun!"
  • Walking or Moving Meditation: Take your problem, challenge, life-blocker on a walk (or bike-ride, swim, run, etc). Any repetitive movement will work.

For a more in-depth explanation of these powerful tools watch my video-blog:
 


2. YOUR ALCHEMICAL OPPORTUNITY ⚡️
Try out the tools above. I use them daily/weekly to move through blockers in my own life & to continuously improve upon my commitment to living a life worth living for!

Creative work is play. It is free speculation using the materials of one’s chosen form.
— Stephen Nachmanovitch

3. TOOLS & TECH ⚒
Apple Airpods. I would not quite call myself an audiophile but I am pretty adamant about listening to super high quality sound. I've been a longtime Bose user so I wasn't expecting the Apple Airpods to beat out both my wireless & wired Bose headphones on sound quality. In fact, I was kind of shocked.

Another amazing feature of the Airpods is they actually cancel out much of the wind-noise for the person you are talking to when you use them as a phone-headset. This is a game-changer for me because I have a rule that anytime I can take a phone call while walking I do. I was constantly apologizing for wind. No longer the case thanks to the genius of the Airpods!

4. WOD (Workout Of The Day) 💪🏼
A lot of people have been asking for my daily workouts so I decided to start sharing them on my Instagram Stories. This is version one of me attempting to share my workouts. Let me know what you think! And if you have ideas for ways that I can better share, shoot me a note via emailInstagram or twitter with suggestions!

5. BOOK 📕
The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. This book unleashed me in so many ways. The tools that open this newsletter are from Julia. I dreamed of being a blogger for over 10-years even though I had never written for myself. In other words if it wasn't for class or work I had never actually written creatively on my own. I read this book and started a blog within a month or so. It's that powerful.

6. RUN FREE: The Paradox Of Cultivating True Freedom
A recent blog article about freedom & cultivating it in our daily life.

Run Free:

The Paradox of Cultivating True Freedom

7. HOMAGE 🙌🏼
If it isn't obvious by now this ALN's homage goes to Julia Cameron. She transformed my life. And she has transformed the lives of creators across all major life categories (not just artists) including business professionals, entrepreneurs, athletes, spiritual leaders & more.

She's published 40+ books in addition to her other creative work--plays, music, scripts, & more. Start with The Artist's Way. It's a powerful reminder that we are all Artists and it will create major movement in many areas of your life.

I recently had the privilege to learn from her in-person at her workshop at 1440 Multiversity. It truly was a transcendental experience. If you ever get a chance to take a workshop with her or visit 1440 do not miss it! Both are goldmines of life empowerment!

8. LEARNING 🤓
The only person or thing that is blocking us is our self. The ego wants us to blame some "other" person or thing for holding us back or holding us down, but really that is just an illusion designed to keep us stuck. The truth is that the only person that can un-block us is the one who looks back at us in the mirror.

9. READER REQUEST 🙏🏼
I am always looking for new ways to unblock myself. Got some good tools? Please send them my way! One of my greatest joys from my work with Alchemize Life is how much I personally learn & grow from interaction with my brilliant audience. 

Thanks for reading! If you liked this newsletter and want to support it please forward it to a friend!

If you're seeing the newsletter for the first time, you can signup here.

In alchemy & service,

Justin David Carl 🌒

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SPECIAL NOTE: Readers often comment that ALN (Alchemize Life Newsletter) is "dense." To graciously clarify: it is designed that way so that you can come back to it again & again whenever you need some empowering energy for your life (until the next issue arrives). I do NOT recommend trying to read & do everything in one day. Take what grabs your attention first and bookmark the html version and pop it open whenever you need some more creative fuel!

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Books That Radically Transformed My Life

Reading is one of the things that brings me the most joy in life.

Reading also happens to be one of the most transformational growth-inducing activities I do daily.

I've been thinking about putting together a list of books that have radically transformed my life for the better for a long time.

I finally realized that I may as well start because I will never be done. And I can always come back & update this as I see fit.

Special note: This is a living-resource that I will continuously curate so don't feel the need to go through all of these as fast as possible. Just pick one book that catches your mind's-eye, take your time with it and come back here for the next one when you're ready!

So, without further ado, here are...

Books That Have Radically Alchemized (Transformed) My Life:

Creativity

The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path To Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron

Julia Cameron is one of my biggest mentors. This book was groundbreaking & truly life-changing. It unleashed me as an artist, creative & writer. It taught me to fall in love with journaling--one of the most empowering transformational tools I have in my repertoire. It also linked creativity as a pathway for spiritual communion. This paradigm radically alchemized my life in infinite ways.

The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly? by Seth Goden

Seth Goden is a brilliant writer & thinker. This book unbound me from own creative suppression. It gave me permission to create & share and naturally allow an audience to form around my creative work.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing & Life by Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott is one of my favorite writers. This book makes me laugh, cry, reel with delight, soar in intellectual & emotional brilliance & so much more. Her writing makes me desperately want to write. Inspiring and great life advice even if one has no interest in writing.

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey

Mason Currey showed me that art & creativity and the work that goes into producing it comes in all shapes, forms, sizes, colors, shades & walks-of-life. There is no one right way. There is a way that works for you. Our job is to find & harness our unique ways that empower our personal creative process.

Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things No One Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon

This book gave me permission to "steal" the work of others, combine it with other works in all fields & topics, and alchemize it all together to make it my own. Short. Fun. Powerful. Read this.

Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon

Austin Kleon taught me that it is not only okay but actually an integral part of the creative process to show your work even as your are developing it (aka before it's "done"). He empowered me to stop hiding my vulnerability & instead use it as a strength & pathway forward.


Human Potential, Personal Development & Money

Awaken The Giant Within by Anthony Robbins

First read this as a teenager. Radically transformed my life for the better. Went from loaner & playground bully to powerful social force for achievement as well as leader in all areas of life (school, sports, family, etc). It truly unlocked my potential. Aided me getting to Stanford University & beyond. Re-reading again in my 30s and diligently studying & applying. Having same effect it did when I was teenager.

Unlimited Power by Tony Robbins

Same case as above with Awaken The Giant Within.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons In Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey

Foundational. We are our habits. Everyone should read. Also recommend the teenager version written by the author's son.

Willpower by Roy F. Baumeister & John Tierney

This book gave me an obsession with habits. Game-changer. Amazing parenting advice as well. 

Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

One of my favorite books on habits & optimal conscious habit-design for your unique temperament. 

Think & Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Probably one of the most timeless & popular success books ever written. There is a reason it's on so many incredibly successful people's must-read book-lists.

The Master-Key To Riches by Napoleon Hill

This is a lesser known gem by Napoleon Hill. Short & straightforward, yet you could study it daily for the rest of your life.

The Peaceful Warrior: A Book That Changes Lives by Dan Millman

Dan Millman and this book made me realize & finally "see" the woman of my dreams. For this I will be forever deeply grateful. It also happens to be a life-changing book in many other ways.

The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere & Join The New Rich by Tim Ferriss

I read this when it first came out in 2007. I instantly thought to myself "Finally! I understand who I want to become!" My vision was similar to Tim Ferriss with the human potential & positive transformation leadership, but with my own alchemical fashion-forward spiritual-hipster twist! Ten years later I am finally living that vision. Forever my deepest gratitude to you, Tim Ferriss for helping me understand, see & live my own personal vision.

Psycho-Cybernetics Maxwell Waltz

Read this at a super young age (thanks Dad!). Awesome book about harnessing your subconscious & building self-esteem.

The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

Incredibly dense book. I don't agree with everything in it (in the sense of actually using the power to my advantage), but I can see how some people operate from some of these more questionable power-paradigms. That said, I strongly believe that having knowledge & awareness around power-dynamics is paramount to creating & protecting the life you do want to live.

Creating Money: Attracting Abundance by Sanaya Roman & Duane Packer

This book finally gave me the spiritual-connection to money that I had been seeking for so long.

How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Classic. Another book that is on many super-performers must-read lists. No matter what field of business you are in this will be of the utmost service to your life-journey.

Mindset: The New Psychology Of Success by Carol S. Dweck

For a "recovering-perfectionist" like myself this book was life-transforming. I recommend this book to all students (those in formal schooling like high-school & college as well a life-students) and anyone who has kids or ever wants to have kids. This book teaches you how to learn & grow. It teaches you how to cultivate a learning/growth-mindset in your children. Powerful stuff.

Grit: The Power of Passion & Perseverance by Angela Duckworth

This book gifted me with one of my core-values: grit (defined as passion & perseverance). A great companion to Mindset (above).

The Obstacle Is The Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials Into Triumph by Ryan Holiday

Ryan Holiday taught me to "follow the process, not the prize." This led me to fall in love with the journey of writing, blogging, business-building, etc. It is also an essential book to pick-up & re-read whenever one is feeling blocked by an obstacle.

A Guide To The Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine

A practical guide to the life philosophy of Stoicism and how to apply it in our modern world. The amount of joy I've experienced on a regular basis after reading this book & incorporating the lessons within it has been nothing short of AMAZING! If you read nothing else, just read the part about Negative Visualization. It will change your life for the better!

The Fire Starter Sessions: A Soulful + Practical Guide To Creating Success On Your Own Terms by Danielle LaPorte

This book really helped me get clear on what success really deeply means to me personally (versus being lost to yourself by defining success on other people’s/society’s terms). Great book that leads one to greater Self-Knowledge which is crucial to living a life worth living for!


Healing, Intuition & Spiritual

You Can Heal Your Life by Louise L. Hay

If I could only give others one book for the rest of my life this would probably be it. It taught me to truly love myself. Get the gift addition (I swear the artistic & colorful pictures empower the healing process).

Prayers to the great creator by Julia cameron

This is a book of prayers & declarations for a meaningful life. My Spirit is stirred just about every time I pick up this book & read from it aloud or in my head.

The Four-Fold Way: Walking The Paths Of The Warrior, Teacher, Healer & Visionary by Angeles Arrien

Life-changing tools & easy-to-read guidebook on harnessing & building within these four archetypes (warrior, teacher, healer & visionary). I grew up with this book thanks to my Mom. It holds a special place in my heart.

The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga's Ethical Practice by Deborah Adele

Incredibly applicable way to live the philosophy of Yoga in modern-life. Super easy & fun read too.

Voyager Tarot: Way of The Great Oracle by James Wanless (plus Voyager Tarot Deck)

I've been practicing Tarot since 2009 to cultivate my own intuition & build deep self-knowledge. This is my favorite Tarot Deck & its in-depth companion guide.

The Tarot Handbook: Practical Applications of Ancient Visual Symbols by Angeles Arrien (plus Thoth Tarot Deck)

This is my favorite book on Tarot which is based on Aleister Crowley's Thoth Deck, my other favorite Tarot deck.

Animal Spirit Guides: An Easy-to-Use Handbook For Identifying & Understanding Your Power Animals & Animal Spirit Helpers by Steven D. Farmer Ph.D.

Spiritual Hipster incarnate. Yes I am! I traverse this magical world with my pack of Power Animals by my side. My family & friends call me "Dragon" and there is very deep meaning behind this. Want to discover your own power animal and/or develop your own totem animal pack? Read this book.

The Book Of Stones: Who They Are & What They Teach by Robert Simmons & Naisha Ashian

A key part of being a Spiritual Hipster is working with gemstones. I've studied this book in-depth for years and know I will constantly go back to it for the rest of my life. Check it out if you've ever felt the energetic call of the enigmatic crystal-allies.

Women Food & God: An Unexpected Path To Almost Anything by Geneen Roth

For much of my life I abused food like a drug. As a result I had an incredibly damaging relationship with both food & my body. This book was an integral part of the healing process. It was written for women, but if you have any food-issues this book will hit-home.

Awakening Spirits: A Native American Path To Inner Peace, Healing & Spiritual Growth by Tom Brown, Jr.

This book inspired me to go on a Vision Quest -- one of the most powerful transformational experiences I've ever undergone. The experience of the quest still continues to unfold its awesome power in my life every day. It also includes the teaching of a very powerful & easy-to-do meditation.


Fiction, Fantasy & Sci-Fi

The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan

My favorite Fantasy series of all time. Bar none.

The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini

My favorite Dragon-themed fantasy series. Dragon is my main power animal so this series holds a special place in my heart. There are also Elves. Another magical soft-spot of mine.

The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss

Probably my second favorite fantasy series. It's not finished yet (only two books so far).

Redwall by Brian Jacques

This was the fantasy book that started my lifelong love-affair with fantasy (my favorite form of pleasure reading). I still vividly remember reading this during a childhood multi-day river-rafting/camping trip.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

This book taught me to trust the journey and process even when what I am currently doing in life doesn't seem to be leading me where I am supposed to go. It is, it's just in disguise patiently waiting for me to understand, become aware & embrace the journey.

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

My favorite Sci-Fi book and the book that caused me to fall in love with Sci-Fi. Ender's Shadow is just as good. I like most whichever I've most recently read.

Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

I made fun of my mom & younger brother for about a year for reading "children's books" (how I ignorantly categorized the Harry Potter books). Then I finally began one and I was hooked. Read the first 3-4 books in about a week. That's how good it was. It also happens to be one of the few fiction series I've read in entirety more than once.


And that's it!  For now... 🤓 📚 🙌🏼

Do you have any books that radically changed your life that are not on this list? If so, please share! Leave me a comment (scroll all the way down), email me, or send me a tweet with your suggestion! 🙏🏼

I am always on the lookout for Life-Alchemizing books and I would love to add your favorite to this list after falling in love with it myself!

In alchemy & service,

Justin David Carl 🌒

Nature-Play: Our Key To Connection & Re-Connection

 "If we surrendered to earth's intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees." -Rilke

Spending time in nature always re-roots me in my own innate happiness & it creatively re-charges me like nothing else.

Carl Jung, renowned psychologist, realized that he was happiest and his most creative ideas came to him while he was building sand castles.

Later he would have his clients return to doing what they did between the ages of 4-10 as part of his therapy process.

During those childhood ages I spent all my time outside. Hours upon hours roaming forests, playing along rivers & streams, walking along the ocean, and climbing anything & everything (hills, mountains, trees, buildings, etc.).

Sometimes I just sat in the grass or in a tree looking upon the skylight.

Connecting with nature.  😇

Connecting with nature. 😇

I also spent a ton of time outside riding my bike, jumping on our giant trampoline doing all sorts of flying acrobatic tricks & rollerblading through the urban jungles like a true badass.

But always I was . . .

Exploring. Myself. Mother Earth. Father Sky.

Communing & connecting. With myself. With the Divine.

And despite the chaos that so many of us experience with our family growing up . . .

I was happy.

Even despite my parents divorce and physical abuse from an older brother who was going through much more hardship than me I still regularly found my way back to inner joy through play in nature.

I have returned to this practice in my adulthood. Whenever I feel stressed or unhappy getting outdoors and connecting with nature is an incredibly simple way to reconnect with myself and this beautiful world we live in.

Though I prefer long jaunts through nature hikes and days spent at the beach I more often just take a walk wherever I happen to be.

Neighborhood walks where I breathe in the trees and plants light my mind & heart on fire. Joy & creativity re-ignited.

At times during the hyper-speed of working in Silicon Valley building a Stanford startup I forget this important connection to Gaia.

And when I do forget it isn't long before I am feeling frazzled & fried.

Yet, all it takes to renew & reconnect is a little play outdoors. A brisk walk taking in the plants & trees. An exhilarating bike ride or a blade session. Hiking, the beach, lawn games & acroyoga/yoga in the park. Or even bouncing on my mini fitness trampoline in the sunshine right outside my house. 

Mother Nature. Father Sky. I love you!

Alchemical Learnings:

  1. Nature is a part of our inner child and our inherent joy & creativity.
  2. We can easily reconnect to ourselves and the infinite energy of this world by simply getting outside & letting our child-Self play.
  3. A simple daily morning walk sets the tone for a magical day.  I fall out of this habit despite knowing how great it is for me. Especially when the weather is cold/wet. Nonetheless, I bike to the gym weekly (even in the rain) so I proactively get my outdoor charge no matter what. [So stop being so hard on yourself, Justin.]
  4. Don't make it hard to reconnect if limited on time. Even 5 minutes walking outside wherever one is at the moment (even the office) can work wonders.
  5. Having live plants (flowers, bamboo, succulents, etc) in the work-space & home is a simple life-hack that can keep me connected even when I am unable to get outdoors. Like when I am feeling like too much of a baby to go out in the rain or claiming to be "too busy."
  6. Play outside is like reconnecting with childhood bliss. It's not gone. We just have to remember. Remembering that "actually counts" happens through action. Time to go rollerblade & do outdoor acroyoga & frisbee with my fiancé! Often it’s even more magical when shared with others.

Alchemical Opportunity for the reader:

  1. What did you do between the ages of 4-10? Can you re-instill your childhood practice of play in your life now?
  2. Can you make it a daily habit (aka daily ritual) to just go outside and consciously connect with nature for a few minutes? If a walk sounds like too much, how about a 5-minute sit? Still too much? Smell a flower or stare at a plant.
  3. Go buy yourself some plants and arm your physical space with the power of Gaia. Any that catch your fancy will do. Plenty of studies out there showing how amazing this is for your health & happiness (Google it).
  4. Play outside. Pick whatever comes to mind. Don't make it hard. The key is to take action. Today.

We were conceived in connection & joy. And all we have to do to reconnect to our true Self is reconnect with Mother Earth & Father Sky and play with their healing touch & gaze upon us.

We are all children of this Universe.

Let us remember.

And before I go... How do you play outside? 

In alchemy & service,

Justin David Carl 🌒

P.S. If you enjoyed this #SpiritualHipster reflection and want to continue to empower your life in all ways sign up for my NEWSLETTER! We can foster continuous positive growth & transformation by consciously proactively programming our environment to keep feeding it to us (like via email). 😉