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The Mastermind Beyond ADHD: Interview with Author Jeff Emmerson

(First of a 2-Part Series)

I’ve been involved with many fascinating book projects over the years. However, none are as potentially impactful socially as Beyond ADHD: Overcoming the Label and Thriving, the book I wrote with Canadian ADHD expert Jeff Emmerson to be released globally by Rowman-Littlefield on August 16. You can pre-order it on Amazon.com.

Beyond ADHD is a critical book for our times. In the last 30 years, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder has gone from a rarely diagnosed disorder to an industry hundreds of billions of dollars in size, fed by all sectors of society. It involves:

  • Ten percent of the North American population;
  • Concerned educators, employers and parents who send fidgety or inattentive workers or kids to the doctor or school nurse’s office;
  • Overworked doctors that prescribe quickly from nine-point checklists;
  • Pharmaceutical companies (“Big Pharma”) eager to sell powerful prescription drugs that impact the patient’s biochemistry (often negatively);
  • A compliant (until recently) media slanted heavily toward “diagnose-and-prescribe”, writing articles that spread the idea you can only treat ADHD with drugs;
  • An equally compliant educational system, employees on the lookout for disruptive or hyperactive kids — and, in some cases, using approved course materials provided by Big Pharma, which promotes ADHD as a lifetime disorder, versus something we can get beyond;
  • A U.S. Congress so heavily lobbied by Big Pharma (532 of the current 535 members received campaign contributions) that they won’t move to quash Big Pharma’s grip on pricing; and
  • A public so gripped by busyness, technological and social stimulation that their neurological systems are overloaded. Many assume it to be ADHD or another mental health disorder diagnosed as fast as, well, a prescription can be written. If this dynamic sounds like a part of America’s woeful prescription drug story, well, it is.

Beyond ADHD Author Jeff Emmerson

Those are the departure points for Beyond ADHD. The book revolves around Emmerson’s life and experiences, instructive and harrowing at times, but also a cautionary tale into why you don’t diagnose someone with ADHD and give them powerful prescriptions in 15 minutes (the average time one spends in a doctor’s office before getting this diagnosis and prescription!).

I first met Emmerson via Twitter in late 2012, his chosen platform for discussing ADHD and mental health issues. What a platform it is, with more than 700.000 highly engaged followers, including medical, mental health and social health experts who worked with us on Beyond ADHD. He also has a large video blog audience, and more than 15,000 LinkedIn followers. After a difficult first 35 years of life, Emmerson was diagnosed with ADHD in 2011. In 2015, he met with Michigan-based neuroscientist Dr. Timothy Royer, who shattered the diagnosis after considerable testing — which led to this book.

With four weeks until Beyond ADHD releases, I decided to interview Emmerson, to give you a taste of his forward-thinking perspective, one that brought me right to the table to co-author this book. In this first part of our interview (part two will be posted Friday, July 21), you can see in Emmerson’s answers numerous options, causes and ways of working with this that, frankly, are woefully underused.

WordJourneys: What inspired and motivated you to create Beyond ADHD?

Jeff Emmerson: My own journey through the mental health system. Or, to be more specific, how I was diagnosed with ADHD after a suicide attempt in 2011 and what I discovered when my intuition told me to dig deeper into other possible reasons for the symptoms and battles I’ve faced for many years. I saw a desperately failing diagnostic system that made rushing to diagnosis way too common. I knew I had to speak out so that others might be able to avoid the “murky waters” of misdiagnosis through deeper understanding of just how faulty ADHD diagnosing is for millions.

WordJourneys: What are the three biggest issues with the way we currently diagnose and prescribe ADHD?

Emmerson: Number One: Not ruling nearly enough out first through a collaborative, inter-disciplinary team approach that treats ADHD/ADD as a diagnosis of exclusion (not the other way around);

Number Two: Not making other interventions (instead of simply medication) just as high of a priority (such as behavior therapy, brain training, nutritional counseling, looking at alternate learning/schooling options, physical activity, creative outlets, trauma at home being assessed, etc.);

Number Three: Not digging deeper after a diagnosis is made, and/or assuming that medication use needs to be permanent. Self-resilience and accountability must be held to very high standards as part of treatment. In other words, treat the whole person, not simply diagnose, medicate and leave them to their own devices without on-going support and education into self-reliance and growth.

WordJourneys: Why is ADHD diagnosed at such a high rate now? Do we really have that many afflicted adults and children, or is it something else?

Emmerson: My deepest fear (and gut feeling) is that so-called ADHD (in millions of cases) is a band-aid diagnosis made because we simply don’t have the knowledge, research or resources to dig deeper and actually address some key contributing issues no one talks about: chemicals in tap water, air quality, societal “norms” industry-wise, increasing tech addiction, poorer sleep quality, and many other root causes for symptoms. Instead, we use stimulant medication to see if it “works” and leave it at that (assuming ADHD and making it a potentially permanent diagnosis on someone’s medical records, a whole other issue for several reasons).

WordJourneys: The education system has played an increasing role in getting kids to ADHD diagnoses. Is this a good or bad thing — and why?

Emmerson: This infuriates me, and here’s why: Some kids may benefit from diagnosis and treatment, but factors such as date of birth (what time of the year a child is born), learning differences, root-cause factors for ADHD-like symptoms (many of them) and other issues are way too easily turned into a rushed ADHD diagnosis. Frankly, much of our education system is antiquated and obsolete in relation to the technological age we’re living in, so we need to hold education policy makers to task, just as much as we weed out children who seem to be acting out in any number of ways. After all, some of the world’s most innovative and creative people disliked conventional school very passionately. We need to do something about this desperate need for wholesome, 360-degree learning to become the norm (to start with, anyway).

WordJourneys: What are the challenges facing doctors and mental health professionals in treating the whole person, rather than just the ADHD?

Emmerson: Resources. Funding for thorough, holistic care is scarce in the United States, especially in the mental health realm, and there is heavy pressure to reduce that even further. What’s even bigger is that investments in education toward self-awareness, resilience, and extra-curricular activities, and incentives for families to stay healthy both physically and emotionally, are dwindling away. The unfortunate reality for many healthcare professionals is that insurance companies and profits for medical practices push more and more patients to be seen in shorter and shorter time-spans, resulting in rushed, insufficient care. Profits can still be made while taking the proper time to treat patients holistically and fully. We just need to help the system evolve and incentivize providers in new ways that benefit all.

(Part 2 will appear Friday, July 21, on The Word Journeys Blog.)

To pre-order Beyond ADHD

 

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On Clay Marzo, Stevie Salas & Our Coming New Look

JUST ADD WATER by Clay Marzo and Robert Yehling copyIt’s been a busy and frenetic last two months in my personal writing world. This includes promoting When We Were The Boys, the memoir on which I collaborated with musician Stevie Salas; doing final caption touch-ups and proofs for Just Add Water, my biography of autistic international surfing star Clay Marzo available for pre-order on Amazon.com now and coming in Summer from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; pumping out proposals for books on which I am collaborating and/or writing (details forthcoming); and editing Innovation & Tech Todayone of the hippest and most diverse new magazines on newsstands and most digital magazine services.

Music. Surfing. Innovation. Three of my favorite things. Now for those books on running and fitness, a memoir, and the book for business, book, journalistic and personal writers that’s made it through some brainstorm sessions…salas cover low res

My webmaster and former Ananda College student, Chitra Sudhakaran, and I have also been overhauling the WordJourneys.com website — and our mission. Part of that will be our new-look WordJourneys.com blog, which will be unveiled Monday (3-2) featuring a fantastic conversation with author and international speaker Kevin Hines. His book, Cracked, Not Broken: Surviving A Suicide Attempt, offers one of the most painful, difficult, and ultimately inspiring and redemptive memoirs I have ever had the pleasure to edit. When a man jumps off the Golden Gate Bridge and is served up his greater life and soul purpose during the four-second plunge into frigid San Francisco Bay… well, you do the math. It’s an incredible book,  in its 20th printing just two years after its release. You are not going to want to miss this interview.

You’ll also see excerpts from Just Add Water and my long-awaited novel, Voices, which will release later in 2015.ITTodayWinter2014 cover

On our new-look blog, we will be incorporating a few new things, a stylistic reflection of my 2009 book, The Write Time: 366 Exercises to Expand and Fulfill Your Writing Life:

1) Inspiring quotes from writers, entertainers, artists, musicians, and other creatives

2) Resources for further exploration

3) Spot interviews with authors, thinkers, educators, and leaders

4) Book reviews

5) Perspectives on technology, fitness, health, the arts, education, STEM, and other subjects of interest to writers and creative artists

6) Excerpts from my books, as well as clients

7) Links to pieces and special service offers on WordJourneys.com, and client websites

8) Social Media services of the month (not only the Big Five — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube —  but many other sites)

9) An expanded blogroll

10) More opportunities for you to comment and/or guest post

11) Prompts, exercises, and tips from well-published authors, and creative and leadership

achievers

We’ve always had an eye out for our clients and other writers and creatives on this blog. Now, we will expand that, as part of our mission to showcase the lifestyle of writing and insight of the authors, as well as the final product.

Back to you on New-Look Monday!

MGH_4477

 

 

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A Circle of Prayers … Through Facebook

A little Halloween blogging cheer on a PERFECT Halloween day in Southern California, that time of year when summer splashes us for a few final days.

I’m going well off the “writing about writing” grid today with a blog that woke up inside me this morning, and I feel compelled to share.

To start, I’m not a big fan of Facebook, mainly because of how increasingly intrusive on our lives it has become (not to mention the free shipping of data to the NSA and government). I use it because it’s required for work, and sometimes, for photos and personal messages. However, in the past 24 hours, I’ve been privileged to watch Facebook work at its finest.

A long-time friend of mine, Len O’Bryant, is fighting for his life with cancer. He’s carried on this fight for a couple of years with incredible courage and determination. Now he faces his most daunting challenge, as treatments thus far have not stopped the spread.

I met Len in the mid-1980s, when I was going through very tough times – basically learning the hard way how to make good life choices. A music minister with a wonderful tenor voice, he and his beautiful wife, Vickie, befriended me, counseled me, had me over for dinner quite a few times, and did a great deal to make me spiritually and emotionally strong again. You know how the ideal people show up right when we need them, and no matter what else happens later, they remain entrenched in our hearts forever? That’s how I feel about Len.

The five years that followed were among the very best in my life. And it’s been a nice ride through my writing career since. I’ve told Len before how directly impactful his friendship and mentoring were, but he’s so humble he simply thanked God and did what he does best – pay the compliment forward by lending a helping word or hand to many, many others. With his trademark combo of a wall-to-wall smile and well-chosen words. That’s what great ministers do.

A little more than ten years ago, Vickie died of cancer. Now Len faces the battle that she and so many have endured, many surviving, many not – including both of my parents. Fortunately, he found love again, and his wife Brenda is right there to fight the fight with him. Len loves life so much that he would never consider otherwise.

Back to Facebook. Yesterday, Len posted his status – that the cancer has spread and treatment options are running low. He asked for prayers, which I know was hard for him to do: he’s a giver. Not a requester. Boom! His site flooded with more than 150 messages. I reposted his message on my site, and many of my friends turned out, too.

Then I thought about it … all the personal life stories, backgrounds, locations, spiritual journeys and affiliations, posted on the two walls (and I’m sure others copied his status to their walls, too). With everyone praying for this man. So were people in many churches. Tara Clements, whose son Noah I coached for three years in cross-country, was thrilled to see my post because Len’s name popped up on a prayer list at her church in Morganfield, Kentucky – Len’s old church. The church where I met him. Tara wrote how great of a minister Len was to she and her friends.

This mighty prayer chain mushroomed into all corners because of a single post on Facebook by a man who has the gift of touching and inspiring people’s lives, and helping them see joy and hope no matter what they’re facing. So no matter what else I feel about Facebook, or how much I growl about it from time to time, for these last 24 hours, I have watched the site make it possible for my friend to get his due – the tribute of love, prayers, support and admiration of those whose lives he has made better by his presence in it.

If anyone’s going to beat this, Len, you are. With a global flotilla of prayers carrying you over these rough waters.

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Innovation & Technology Today: A New Adventure in Digital Media

During this barnburner of a writing year, I took on the editor’s position at a publication that brings my loves of innovation (all entrepreneurs should bne innovators!) and technology together with digital publishing  — Information & Technology Today Magazine, published by my friend Charles Warner’s company, Innovation Properties Worldwide, out of Denver, CO.

it today cover lo-resOur premiere digital issue came out last week, and is available on Zinio and Apple newsstands. To get the ball of subscribers and readers rolling, it’s on sale for just 99 cents on Zinio. You can read it on your desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone. Its digital enhancements really come to life on tablets.

Innovation & Technology Today grew from The Legacy Series Magazine, which I edited last fall and which made a big splash at MacWorld/iWorld 2013. The areas of innovation and technology not only continue to grow rapidly, but they serve as the undercurrent of both business development and the way of ingenuity and independence that has come to define doing business in the U.S. Consequently, our magazine is fun, colorful, full of great links – and highly informative.

The magazine features a rich mix of editorial. This includes regular features and updates on green technology, digital publishing, social networking, communications, security, education, women in technology and new products. We also sprinkled the magazine with metrics, statistics and infographics, again keeping the emphasis on enjoyable reading. For this issue’s women in technology piece, written by Lisa Lunney, we focused on two of the world’s most powerful women, Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, author of the runaway bestseller Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. 

The core of each issue is the theme-based feature section. We are taking about one-third of the editorial well to deeply address business areas that are either booming or of major consequence to lives and our economic futures. For the Spring-Summer issue currently on sale, we focused on Smart Home Technology. For the upcoming Summer-Fall issue, we will switch to Sports & Medical Technology. Our Fall-Winter issue will showcase Green Technology & Energy.

In Innovation & Technology, we continued a series of conversations with leaders and innovators that we started with The Legacy Series Magazine.  This time around, we interviewed Al Choperena of the smart home technology provider Smartenit, John Clements of Mitsubishi Electric, Michael Sykes of Enertia Homes, and a pair of authors with major street cred, Twitter Revolution co-author Warren Whitlock and App Nation author Brad Adams of Sunstone Publishing Group, who helps small businesses customize their apps – a major growth area for the next several years. Our guest contributor this issue was Chris Voss, one of Forbes Magazine’s Top 50 Social Media Influencers in the U.S.

I had more fun with this project than with any magazine work in years. I dove headlong into the world of digital publishing, and more specifically, of how to enhance content to animate it for the reader. What we need to remember about working with online content or digital publications (books, magazines, etc.) is that readers want an experience. They don’t merely want the same word-reading exercise they would get from print books or magazines. They want to be taken further.

That’s where links came in. I made it a point to choose our links selectively in Innovation & Technology Today, because, let’s face it – when you choose this title for a publication, you’d better be forward-thinking with your application of digital publishing technology! So we embedded videos, infographics that move, articles  from unusual or under-utilized sources that took readers deeper and broader from the central piece, photo galleries that further tell the story, and also pathways to chat rooms, social networking groups or resources where they can interact with the newsmakers, movers and shakers mentioned in the pieces.

Our goal is simple: if you read the magazine, we want you to receive a thoroughly enjoyable, entertaining, educational and enligtening experience. Enjoyable-Entertaining-Educational-Enlightening. Those should be the 4E’s of any digital publishing endeavor that moves beyond Smashwords-produced e-books, which are text-only.

So I hope you will zip over to Zinio newsstand and pick up a copy of Innovation & Technology Today, and let me know what you think about it. While you’re thinking about, also stop by the magazine’s Facebook page and Like it!

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On Dharma Bums, Eternity, Legacies & Champions: Publishing Highlights of 2012

Happy New Year!

Time to clean off the desk after a busy, eventful 2012…

Headshot- for proposalFirst of all, a big congratulations to my sweetheart, Martha Halda, whose memoir, A Taste of Eternity, is now at book proposal and agent stage.

Martha first thought of writing this book while recovering from a horrendous 1999 car accident in which she was pronounced clinically dead three times — and had a profound Near Death Experience that has defined her physical and spiritual life since.  To give you an idea of how far she has come from that accident? After her family was initially told she would be an invalid for the rest of her life, she went on to complete the 2002 Dublin Marathon, and lives a healthy, robust life today.

Now, she’s written the first three chapters of A Taste of Eternity, and looking forward to a 2013 publish date. Martha has also started a blog, in which she’ll share a few stories from the book and how her daily life continues to be touched by those precious minutes she spent directly in God’s hands.

• • •

Between Christmas and New Year’s, I picked up a very interesting project: to write a Cliff Notes-type “specimen” for Barnes & Noble.  The book in question? One of my all-time favorite novels, The Dharma Bums. Once again, interest in the Beat generation and author Jack Kerouac is flying through the roof, this time because of the December 21 film release of On The Road, Kerouac’s breakthrough novel. When Kristen Stewart is one of the three lead actors (she plays Marylou), the movie figures to draw attention for younger moviegoers. Many will likely turn to the rich soil of Beat literature, which continues to speak to the young, disenfranchised, soul and purpose seekers.

However, The Dharma Bums project excites me for another reason. In the decade since the last time I read the 1958 autobiographical novel about Kerouac’s the dharma bumsawakening to nature and Buddhism, I’ve gotten to know the real-life Japhy Ryder, the novel’s protagonist. With this book, Kerouac turned mountain man-Buddhist-poet-conversationalist extraordinaire Gary Snyder into a cultural hero and the leader of the “rucksack revolution”, a good 15 years before Gary won the Pulitzer Prize for Turtle Island.  What amazes me is how little Kerouac deviated from Gary’s voice and character in what was supposed to be a fictional character. Every time I read Japhy Ryder’s dialogue, I could hear Gary expounding on something or another during the many times we would get together in Northern California. The actions, the convictions, the interests, the profound knowledge and wisdom … all Gary. And to think: he was only 25 when he and Kerouac had the experiences that formed the backbone of The Dharma Bums.

Ever read a novel where you personally know the protagonist? I hadn’t, either. It certainly creates a different experience, one that I hope will add reading insight for the Barnes & Noble customers who pick up this treatment later in 2013.

• • •

photoAlso on the shelves at Barnes & Noble, and newsstands throughout the country, is The Legacy Series Magazine. I was privileged to help conceptualize this magazine, as well as edit it. We began with a tribute to the late Steve Jobs and his enormous legacy to businesses and consumers (besides masterminding Apple products, he facilitated change or the creation of eight industries). Then we talked to some of the most visionary people and leading innovators in technology today, including Dallas Mavericks owner and Shark Tank co-star Mark Cuban, GE Senior VP Beth Comstock, bestselling author Ken Segall, Zinio Executive VP Jeanniey Mullen, Chris Voss of The Chris Voss Show, Ask.com co-founder (and my old high school friend) David Warthen, and iPhone Film Fest winner Craig Perkins.

We also wrote compelling features on the present and future courses of social media, filmmaking, technology, publishing, crowdfunding, music, green technology and cloud computing. All of these pieces brought out what I love most about fine magazine journalism: Great interviews, great insights, explanation of new concepts, and the writers’ distinct abilities to inject their personal experience and the stories of others into the material they were covering. You want to know what’s coming next in these areas? Get the mag.

The Legacy Series Magazine will be featured at MacWorld/iWorld in San Francisco in three weeks. We have a major announcement pending on possible multiple issues, but we will always produce the large annual publication in the fall.

• • •

TCW_r2_ecover-loresI also had the privilege of serving as co-author to Dr. Steve Victorson in The Champion’s Way. Steve and I spent three years gathering materials and writing this book, which revolves entirely around groundbreaking research Steve did in the late 1990s for his doctoral dissertation at Boston University. In that research, he interviewed more than 40 national, world and Olympic ski champions and top performers, and found 11 distinct characteristics in common between champions. These 11 characteristics are not found in any other books on the subject.

We put Steve’s findings to the test with champions in all sports — and they rang true, in every case. Thus, The Champion’s Way’s 200 pages explore the inner and outer qualities of champions, look at nearly 100 repeat winners in 15 different sports, and point out specific ways in which all of us can develop, sharpen and refine our own latent championship qualities. Besides plenty of great sports anecdotes, the lasting value of The Champion’s Way is how the 11 common characteristics can create top performance in our lives, no matter our vocation, sport or interest.

The Champion’s Way is available through bookstores nationwide, and in both print and Kindle form on Amazon.com.

 

 

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A Writing Month to Remember — And 7 Tips for Continuous Productivity

When I was working on One Giant Leap for Mankind, NASA’s 25th anniversary salute to the Apollo 11 moon landing, Apollo 10 commander Thomas Stafford introduced me to the “forcing function”. He said that many great achievements and accomplishments in our lives, and our society, come from a motivating factor that “forces” us beyond our limits. Or, it propels us to reach a target due date that might seem impossible at first glance.

Stafford was talking specifically about the race to the Moon in the 1960s, to fulfill President John F. Kennedy’s proclamation that we would land a man on the lunar surface and return him safely before the end of the decade. However, he added, “it (the forcing function) works for everything you really want to accomplish.”

That’s how November has felt to me: one big forcing function. I’ve been working with four deadlines all month. Last week, we finished producing The Legacy Series: Celebrating Innovation & Technology, a year-long project that will be released next week in print, online, mobile and tablet form. What a blast! Besides editing the publication, I wrote articles on the Future of Filmmaking, the late Steve Jobs’ long-term legacy, our “Innovation Nation”, and the Crowdfunding phenomenon. I also conducted wonderful interviews with some truly innovative, creative business and technology leaders: Jeanniey Mullen, a trailblazer and key international figure in digital publishing and email marketing; Chris Voss, one of Forbes magazine’s Top 50 social media experts; Craig Perkins, winner of the iPhone Film Fest; Dr. Gustavo Rabin, author of Becoming A Leader and a man with whom I worked last year; and two giants of industry, GE senior VP Beth Comstock, the woman who masterminded the online TV and movie viewing site hulu.com when she was at NBC Universal; and the one and only Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, a co-star of Shark Tank — and co-owner of Magnolia Pictures and the Landmark Theaters, two components of a 21st century version of the old movie studio system.

More on The Legacy Series in a release celebration blog next week.

On Tuesday, I reached the 50,000-word goal for National Novel Writer’s Month (NaNoWriMo), an international online event where you, well, write 50,000 or more words in a month. I used the occasion to write part of a rough manuscript for my memoir, Do I Have A Story for You!, which friends, associates and two literary agents have suggested I write for 10 years. Now, I am finishing book proposals for a biography I am writing, as well as my sweetheart Martha Halda’s memoir, A Taste of Eternity, concerning her near death experience and increased purpose of her life since.

And people say we slow down in our 50s, that it’s impossible to crank it out in this busy world. This month reminded me of something filmmaker George Lucas told me years ago about his least favorite word in the English language. “I made a career out of people telling me it was impossible,” he said. “It’s not a good word to use around me.”

It’s been a very creative and productive month, during which I have been reminded of six tried-and-true rules about writing, creativity and productivity:

1)   Write every day. If we commit ourselves to writing for even 1 to 2 hours per day, pages get written and books and articles get finished.

2)   Write or create something new. Try a new form of writing, or a new type of art or craft. Bring play into your work. The key to a great story is to make the ordinary seem extraordinary. So it is with our lives.

3)   Set daily goals. What do you want to accomplish today? Set a specific, measurable goal that is attainable, realistic and timely. They’re known in business as SMART goals.

4)   Connect. Spend time each day connecting by e-mail and social media. Blog, Tweet, post on Facebook, build Google + and LinkedIn accounts, and follow people with large follower networks. The phone works great, too.

5)   Focus. Practice focusing on one thing for long periods of time. Use visualization or meditation to build greater concentration. The more we focus, the more organized we become, and the deeper we can move into our subject.

6)   Eat Well and Work Out. Working out is the perfect accompaniment to creativity. It burns stressful energy, clears our minds, and rejuvenates us. That goes for food as well. Eat high-protein, low-carb diets — especially when powering through major projects.

7)   Enjoy. Enjoy. Enjoy. As ultramarathoner Pam Reed told me once about the pain that comes with long races, “You know it’s gonna hurt. But enjoy the experience.” Same holds for writing books or dealing with tough projects. Enjoy the experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Summer—Summer—Summer!

The prospects of having fun on the first weekend of summer didn’t look too good. With a number of social media projects, a major business writing project underway, four deals to discuss and two books to edit, it looked like surfacing for air would be a big challenge. Going outside? Maybe for a few minutes. I’m not complaining: an active business in this economy is a VERY good development.

Given the long odds of experiencing the weekend first-hand, I decided to revert to what I keep telling writing students: look for the faces and voices of magic, innocence and wonder in everything we see or do — and find the simple pleasures one minute at a time. When an opportunity presents itself, experience it. Later, write about it.

Presto! This weekend transformed from a work-a-thon into a classic Southern California entrée into summer. First, the weather cooperated: after three weeks of June gloom, the clouds parted to sunny, warm skies. Next, the seas delivered a glorious present — a South Swell, large waves from Mexico that brought warmer water, slightly more humid air and the feeling of summer … where body cells dance to the music of a season that celebrates what it means to be fully human. At least for this sun-and-sand worshipper.

It all began with an epic Facebook message, which I re-posted:

“My curfew was the street lights. My mom called my name, not my mobile. I played outside with friends, not online. If I didn’t eat what was cooked, then I didn’t eat. Sanitizer didn’t exist, but you COULD get your mouth washed out with soap. I rode a bike without a helmet, getting dirty was OK, and neighbors CARED as much as your parents did. Re-post if you drank water from a garden hose & survived!!”

That’s capturing a baby boomer’s childhood in less than 100 words! Many school friends and I pounced on the post and recalled some riveting childhood memories, all built around the carefree energy of summer. That alone was magical.

Time for action. On Friday afternoon, I hit “send” and peeled my tired eyes away from the computer to end a day that began at 4 a.m.  We headed to opening night of Jazz in the Park, the City of Carlsbad’s weekly series of free shows. Several thousand people reveled in blues music, dancing, hanging out with friends old and new, and soaking up the golden glow of evening sunshine in the La Costa Hills.

Then came Saturday morning. Take it away, journal:

“The first weekend of summer, and how awesome: sunny, 90 degrees, brown skin, smell of castor beans and gummy sycamores during 5 a.m. energization, dawn peeling away the night over the mountains, reading another T.C. Boyle gem set in California, the ocean calling with a South Swell, 67-degree water and clear skies – Summer! Summer! Summer! This is why people pay the huge bucks to live out here. Work interspersed with plopping in pool, watching U.S. Track & Field Championships on TV, coyote in broad daylight scouring the riverbed overgrowth for rabbits. Self-made dinner of seared ahi, artichoke, corn on the cob, shredded beet-carrot-lettuce slaw, walk to the corner grocery for ice cream, watermelons in a bin outside, baseball game crackling on a car radio…”

Sunday dawned like no other in this cloudy, misty June — sunny. Back to work I went for six or seven hours, broken up by a 6-mile run through orange and grapefruit groves, knowing full well what lay on the other side of this session: a drive to the beach. At 6 a.m., I turned on my favorite nostalgic Internet radio station, Technicolor Web of Sound, and in the magic that seemed to surround this weekend, here were the first six songs I heard: “Hot Summer Days” – The Moody Blues; “Om” – The Royal Guardsmen; “Summer of ‘67” – Family; “Strawberry Fields Forever” – The Beatles; “Fire” – Jimi Hendrix; “Lawdy Mama Version 2” – Cream.

Oh yeah. Gonna be a bright, bright sun-shiny day. We arrived at the beach at 3:30 p.m. to a constant inflow of waves. For the next two hours, we dismissed spreadsheets, articles, research, conference calls, files and social media platforms, playing in a warm ocean (to me, 67-degree water in June in California is warm), catching waves, getting pummeled a few times, emerging from the sea with swimsuits askew and water dripping from our bodies and nostrils.

Afterwards, we indulged in a wonderful Mexican food dinner with ceviche appetizer (heaven is eating ceviche and Mexican food after bodysurfing for two hours). Then it was back to work — shopping at Barnes & Noble for business titles for our major summer writing project. I found a nice surprise on the shelves — The Pilot: Learning Leadership, by Colleen and Bill Hennessy, on which I’d done some ghostwriting a couple of years ago.

Yes, summer came to visit, and She made sure this would be a memorable weekend. It was so magical that I almost forgot working right through it … the whole point of this season.

Now, onto a very full day of writing and serving clients, with the vibration of sun, surf and deep communion with spirit buzzing through body and mind. Summer—Summer—Summer!

 

 

 

 

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