Things to do when you wake up and before you go to bed so you don’t freak out about life every day

This article is here for you. Because when you wake up in the morning you are a raging disaster of indecision and self-doubt. I feel you. I am too. But because of the right combination of psychosis and observation I have learned how to trick myself into being productive. Not just somewhat productive but I’m a scary freak productive.

As a result of my many different ‘careers’ and the way my brain processes information I’ve become a sort of expert on managing my time in accordance with my energy levels.

My credentials are this – I am extremely ambitious but ultimately a depressed, fat kid inside that wants the whole world but without having to actually do anything.

Because my legs work and your legs presumably work it’s important to note that there are very few physical obstacles in the way of getting the things we want.

People might talk about their lack or resources but that is silly as well because resources are everywhere, they are just a couple inches behind all the excuses we’ve been grabbing our whole lives.

But the one thing that is trickier than all is our mind. The most corruptible, back-stabbing pile of grey slop on the market. If you’re anything like me, and I am assuming you are, you are your own worst enemy, by the longest shot.

So life has been difficult, even though there are no apparent reasons for it to have been. But all the struggle and all the analysis has led me to understand my motivations and my energy cycles in such a fine and specific manner that I can and do and have outworked every single person I’ve ever met in half the time. I get things done at a rate so impressive you would undoubtedly hate me if you yourself weren’t struggling with your own motivations.

Of course here comes the line where I tell you the good news – I’ve simplified my mastery in 7 easy steps and now you will be a master too after reading this post…

I do hate this business. The business of making promises.

Anyone worth a shit will tell you that it just takes time. Pick something and do it for A WHILE until you have learned A LOT and then make an adjustment and do something else. Only when we are moving forward and getting momentum behind us will a single other person in the world give a shit what we are up to. But once you are up to a lot and you are motivated and people see you as the type that gets things done then you become quite literally the most captivating and desirable human they’ve ever laid eyes on.

So, if you want to do actual work and learn actual things instead of halfheartedly listening to a dozen podcasts a day while you brainstorm your next big dream then I do believe the following bits of information will be helpful because I can tell you that life is so much better on this side of the fence.

 

WHAT TO DO BEFORE BED, EVERY NIGHT

 

  •       THE ROLLING 9

 

Every night before bed I make a list of things I need to do the next day. This has evolved from the very elaborate “Intuitive Schedule” I created for clients in my online course, Organizing Inspiration, which mapped out entire weeks at a time from morning til night.

The Rolling 9 is a list that may NEVER exceed 9 items I need to complete the next day to move closer to the things I want to accomplish. This list includes to-do’s from professional, personal, social, health, and creative categories.

It might look like this:

  1. Stretch 20 minutes with music
  2. Write 500 words
  3. Boxing class
  4. Edit video curriculum (2-3 hours)
  5. Email accountant
  6. Call United
  7. FaceTime nephew
  8. Family dinner (adopted family)
  9. Write client proposal

And that’s it. I will never, ever exceed 9 things. It is the perfect number of things to do to make progress but not overwhelm.

And maybe you’re thinking there’s no way I could get everything done with just 9 things a day.

You’re completely and utterly wrong.

The people that do a little bit every day always outwork those who operate in infrequent and manic bursts. I do this 5-6 days out of the week, taking 1 or 2 days off completely.

The main reason why it’s important – I never have to wake up paralyzed thinking there is too much to do and not knowing where to start. I just wake up, open my 3×5 Moleskin journal that I use specifically for my Rolling 9 and get started. When I’m done, I make a check mark. And when I’m done with the whole list, I smile. Sometimes it only takes me 2 hours to do all of my work for the day. And then I’m done. And I go play basketball or take pictures. And I don’t feel guilty about not ‘working’ 8 hours because I do more in 2 because I’m motivated.

 

  •       TRANSITION SPACE BEFORE GOING TO BED

 

Since I was a baby I’ve never been able to sleep. I used to pretend to fall asleep while my Grandma was babysitting so she would fall asleep herself. Then I’d slip out of her arms and destroy my entire house. Getting in bed and having to sleep makes me panic.

If I don’t take some time to let all the anxiety work itself out, I lie there for hours.

There’s a transition that needs to happen from life to sleep. Just taking off your clothes and crossing the line into the sheets brings with you too much unnecessary and incongruent energy.

I’ve set up a space between my living room and my bed that is my “transition space.” It has a yoga mat, bolsters, blocks, foam roller, incredible sound system, and a candle. Before bed, I make a stop here. Can be as short as one minute or as long as forty-five.

I used to have a rigid meditation practice – 25 minutes a day, every day for one full year. But I’ve found that lying on my back, with a rolled blanket under my neck and a bolster under my knees is the closest thing to comfortable and safe that I can get to. I’ll stretch (restoratively) for a few minutes while I listen to piano symphonies or something soft and burn a candle. I might put a few drops of lavender on my feet and make my way into a shoulder stand, then restorative bridge, and then just lying there.

I get so tired.

If none of that is working, or you get horrible anxiety like I do, then lay on your side in a fetus position and imagine you are a child. If it sounds weird, try it anyway.

 

  •       CONTROL THE NARRATIVE

 

Once you’re finally in bed, the last obstacle to peace of mind is analysis. Wandering thoughts bury us, exhaust us, and prevent us from getting good sleep. As a serious over-thinker I know the pain of needing sleep, and knowing I need sleep, and knowing that I know that I need sleep, and knowing the exact amount of minutes I need to sleep to meet the specific tasks ahead of me tomorrow, and then not being able to relax enough to sleep at all. It makes me feel psychotic but I know it’s actually quite common.

The thing I’ve found that works the best, as a result of many discussions with a woman that is both a therapist and an intuitive, is what we call “controlling the narrative.” It’s a proactive vs reactive strategy for lying in bed. The wandering thoughts create anxiety because they come at us from so many directions and scatter our emotions in a way that makes it difficult to feel calm. But when we decide to tell the stories ourselves, it’s a whole different experience.

Take a few of the things you want in life, for example, maybe it’s love, travel, freedom, or something much more specific. Imagine that instead of desires those are real things and a real part of your life. Then picture what that looks like. Walk yourself through a situation in which things look exactly how you want them to. Don’t think of it as this big visualization/manifestation thing, just think of it as a film you are making in your head. Concentrate on the details and, more importantly, the feelings you get when you live in this world.

I often get lost in these narratives and feel like I’m living a second life. And then it’s morning.

 

WHAT TO DO IN THE MORNINGS, EVERY MORNING

 

  •       THE FIRST 5

 

When we wake up it takes a few seconds to realize we are back in our bodies, back on Earth, and tasked with many horrible and unimaginative things. But we can prolong that sense of freedom and soulfulness if we take care in deciding the first few things we do each morning.

The First 5 things you do in the morning are to benefit your heart and soul. Everything else after that is a jelly donut. What I have found, even working for myself, that the second I open up correspondence with the outside world – whether it be checking email, opening social media, going on my phone, etc. – I lose complete and full control of my own day. My mind moves through other people’s narratives and agendas and causes me to jump ship on myself.

But if I control The First 5, if I choose things that benefit the creative and free version of myself then I can move through the rest of the day with a sense of confidence that I haven’t reached any other way.

Maybe you’ve experienced a time when you did something that was emotional or inspirational for yourself. And then you carried that sense of ease into your next “normal” activity or conversation and all the words and all the thoughts came to you so smoothly, like you were a different person. A better, more confident version of yourself. And you’ve sense wondered how to get back there. It’s through The First 5.

Por exemple:

  1. Stretch 20 minutes
  2. Make tea
  3. Write 500 words
  4. Go for a walk/Take deep breaths
  5. Draw 20 minutes

And I have successfully coated myself with a shield that protects me from all of the world’s meaningless shit that depresses me on a daily basis.

I try to give myself 1-2 hours each morning like this before I interact with anyone. On the days that I don’t take the time to do this, I pay.

Whatever you pick, make sure it addresses the things you are curious about in life, the things that are meaningful to you. Depending on how busy you are, The First 5 could be 1 item on your Rolling 9 or it could be 5.

 

  •        STAY THE FUCK OFF YOUR CELLPHONE

 

This casual reminder piggy-backs of The First 5. And it is not a joke. Not even the littlest joke. And you might think a little Insta in the morning never hurt anyone. Well you’re wrong. It makes you dumber and less original. It takes you away from yourself and makes you less useful to the world filled with people that are suffering.

The second you turn on that phone your entire morning belongs to someone else. We don’t even realize it but it puts us in a reactionary state from the first moments, meaning not a single thought or breath comes without significant influence. And if the purpose of this quest we’re on is to be comfortable, fulfilled, heartfelt, poetic, and even powerful then we outta start out the day tuning our own internal instrument instead of playing in someone else’s game.

Charge your phone in another room, FAR AWAY from your bed. And learn to forget about it in the mornings. Use music instead and be an interesting human. People will notice, I promise.

 

  •        SEND A MEANINGFUL NOTE TO SOMEONE

 

I’m not big on gratitude because I need my edge to keep from falling off the face of the Earth into a puddle of fat laziness. But I do appreciate the people and things in my life. It took me a while to have any solid friendships. When my closest 8 friends started hosting a monthly “family dinner’ I rolled my eyes. But after a few months and some good conversations these nights are the highlight of my life. And I notice that when I sit back and ask more questions or compliment people on things they said or did the night becomes more meaningful and rich than most human existence.

Before taking on anything too serious in the day, in any capacity – actual letter, email, text, fb message, whatsapp, snap, not Periscope – say something meaningful to one person. If you’re like me, it’ll be awkward as hell at first and maybe even your friends will give you a hard time because they are uncomfortable but give it a week or two and you will see the superficiality of your relationships dissolve into ones that you will grow old with. Here’s one last tip – make sure you fucking mean it.

The other night I shared a rather emotional blog that I wrote with my two adopted sisters and they took the time to read it and gave very thorough responses to it. They always go out of their way to support me in my work and, even though I brush it off sometimes, it means a lot to me.

So I said this, “Seriously thank you guys for always supporting me. It makes me feel good.”

Not Edgar Allen Poe or anything but I meant it, and it felt good. And they appreciated it too. And that matters.

 

LAST LITTLE NUGGET BEFORE WE GO

 

You’ll have your list and you’ll be ready to go and then when it comes time to execute you’ll start to hear little voices in your head that are not good voices. They will say you’re too tired or you need to be doing something else and they will actually help you rationalize not completing your tasks. This is no different than death. It’s just slower and slightly more invisible.

Only when we take an idea and do the work to turn it into a real thing can we feel truly proud of ourselves.

The voices just need to be silenced, or what I like to do is talk back. “Oh really? Fuck you, ya little bitch.” And then I do it. Maybe I’ll grind my teeth or stare at myself in the mirror with a twitching eyeball when I do it, but I do it whenever I hear them.

Also, pay attention to your natural level of energy at different points in the day. For example, I like to do some stretching and body weight exercises every day. However, I’ve noticed over time that if I wait until night time I am about 100% less likely to complete them. I become very physically tired and it’s too much to overcome in my head.

The solution???

Do the exercises earlier.

Seem too simple? Great, then it will probably work.

Pay attention to your voices and make adjustments and keep moving forward and accumulating feedback and trusting your instincts and none of this evil complacency can affect you anymore.

Best of luck.

Kirk Hensler is the creator of ‘Organizing Inspiration – How to bring your brilliant ideas to the world,’ a course for entrepreneurs and creatives to identify their brand, create a work process, and implement an intuitive working schedule. Check out his course HERE.

Photographs of Spain: Street Art and Landscape Travel Photography

On a solo journey through some of Europe’s major cities. I am a wandering soul but not so much that I packed all my belongings into one backpack and am staying at hostels. I have a backpack and a 20″ roller bag, a nice jacket, and a European hat. I’m staying in nice apartments in the most desirable neighborhoods through airbnb.com. Sometimes I rent the entire place and sometimes I stay with roommates to help show me around. I don’t expect to find god on this trip as much as I expect to track down some really nice street art and landscapes. My major motivation to spend all of this money is to know what it feels like to live in different European cities and take photographs of Europe. It’s also rounding out the last month of my 6-month no dating spree, so I expect there to be a least one or two coming-of-age moments – cue Julia Roberts.

I hope you enjoy the photographs of Europe from these cities – Madrid, Barcelona, Prague, Berlin, Paris, and London. This European photo journal focuses on Spain – specifically – Madrid y Barcelona.

BARCELONA TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY

BarTHelona! My love. Within 10 minutes of arriving to my apartment in the very hip and trendy El Born neighborhood, my roommate Israel asked if I wanted to jump on the scooter and ride across town to play ping-pong with his friends. Fuck it, I thought. And so it went.

My trip here wouldn’t have been what it was without my choice in accommodations. Israel and Urbez were so warm and friendly, I felt like they were brothers. We had dinner together a few nights, cruised around the city, played in a soccer game where I used my own testicles to block a kick to make up for my inability to score any goals despite 7 chances, hopped along rooftops, and said the word, “PACHANGA!” to each other all the time.

When I wasn’t with them I found it very easy to get around and stay entertained. Between the urban scene, the parks, and the beach, Barcelona is about as diverse as a city can get.

I can’t stop thinking about how ‘warm’ it felt there. My neighbor invited me to a roller derby match, then made me dinner (3 courses of pasta and dessert) with her other friend at 1am.

So many experiences here that were just that, experiences. I was overly social from the beginning and it never slowed down. I honestly think I spent the rest of the trip recovering from this.

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MADRID TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY

Madrid was mostly meeting a friend that I had known very well for a very long time but never actually met. If you got a hold of the story from start to finish you would probably find it pretty fascinating. Advice to those meeting and talking online – cut to the chase and meet in person, it is much more telling and accurate.

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If You Want to Take Unique Pictures, Get This Lens Immediately

Let me start by saying that by the time I finish writing this post there will be at least 7 new photo editing apps for the iPhone that will have everyone and their Chinese grandmother believing they are a professional photographer. This is great news for those that don’t have the budget to purchase cameras, lenses, and other equipment but it’s important to remember that no matter how many apps come out with new VSCO filters they will never allow your phone’s camera to have unique and memorable compositions.

If you’ve ever had the feeling after taking a picture with your phone or camera that it just doesn’t look like what you’re seeing with your eyes then this Tokina 11-16 mm lens will completely blow you mind.

In order to stand out as a photographer or as a brand it’s important to have a style that sets you apart. I’ve shot on many cameras with many lenses and found that the ONLY piece of equipment that has been getting me pictures that no one else has is the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens for my Nikon D7100.

Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 Camera Lens

How To Become A Professional Photographer On A Budget

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This Tokina 11-16mm lens takes the most ridiculously cool pictures that make any setting look like it’s being captured on a HUGE budget for a Hollywood movie.

When I am on the road doing travel photography this is the only lens I take out of my bag. Structures, cathedrals, bridges, fall trees, city streets, and everything else you’re seeing on the road is captured by this lens in a way that you and your audience will never forget.

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All I did was look through the viewfinder, find a composition I liked, and snapped the picture. Then a quick run through some light editing in Lightroom 5 and these pictures are ready for print.

Have a look on Amazon and read the reviews from all different kinds of people with different skill levels.

For Nikon users >

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For Canon users >

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For Sony users >

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If you have any questions about this lens or photography in general, drop me a comment below.

For a full list of equipment you need to get started as a professional photographer read my popular blog post at this link HERE.

How to Create Massive Content on a Minimal Budget

It costs about a million dollars to have professional photos and videos taken, especially if you want good ones. And yoga and fitness studios aren’t historically ‘rollin in the dough.’ But as the industry continues to grow it’s important that studios find creative ways to stand out.

One thing that I would like to define me throughout my career is offering the absolute best quality of everything I do at a FAIR price. I’m not cheap, but I’m also not an ass. And I’m always looking for ways to bring great work to people that normally can’t afford it.

Lately, studios have been coming to me with a very limited budget and wanting a lot of output. So I crafted a process that allowed me to capture pose shots, headshots, and 15 second Instagram interview shorts for a group of teachers all in 2 hours.

It requires 1) picking a location (studio or outdoor), 2) coordinating schedules, and 3) giving each participant a little information for prep work (poses, questions, etc.).

I come in with shots in mind that I know I want and combine those with the 2 signatures poses I asked them to prep in advance.

Then I lined em up.

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For the studios that like the shots to be more lifestyle-ish, I have them bring active hobby props to integrate into the photographs.

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I’ll grab headshots whenever I catch them in a comfortable or natural disposition.

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From there I’ll grab a couple of group shots to bring them together.

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And finish with the videos.

Each of the teachers were loosely prepped on some basic questions for short interviews. The idea here isn’t to get into a 45 minute long life story that is going to bore everyone to death but to give the viewer a quick and immediate reaction to each teacher’s personality based on how they respond to questions not necessarily typical to the industry. You know, just getting them to be themselves for a second (15.).

Teacher Interview Shorts for Instagram – Sarah N from kale & cigarettes on Vimeo.

Teacher Interview Shorts for Instagram – Kate B from kale & cigarettes on Vimeo.

Teacher Interview Shorts for Instagram – Joel from kale & cigarettes on Vimeo.

And in just a few hours the studio has months of content for website, newsletters, and social media.

Not to mention the ability to add text to images to create graphic images for promotions.

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This concept can be applied to effectively any business looking to get a strong chunk of content for marketing purposes. The total value of all the material created in these shoots is between $2500 – $5000 depending on the size of the firm creating the content. But since I believe them to be slow and lazy I do it for a fraction of the cost and turn the work around within 3 days.

Get in touch with more questions or to talk booking – kaleandcigarettes@gmail.com  🙂

Also, link to my photography page HERE.

Step by Step Flowchart for How to Price the Things You Make

In talking with a lot of artists lately about business I’ve realized that there is a staggering disconnect between the two. It makes sense – creative people don’t want their creative game cramped by details, logistics, and plans. It’s beyond not cool. And a lot of artists will tell you that too much prep ruins the entire creative process. And nothing is scarier than having your source of inspiration stifled by over-analysis.

I used to be one of those people. I’d say things like, “I’m not good at the business side of things.” Or, “I’m just doing this because I really enjoy it, I don’t care about making money.” Until I needed my art to pay my rent. At which point it was not longer cool to just charge whatever felt right. I realized that the real reason behind not charging enough for my work was the fear that people wouldn’t think it was worth it > I didn’t actually know what I was doing > I didn’t actually believe I was an artist.

Sure I read some books and had a coming of age moment where I realized my work was good but it took more than just believing in myself to be successful. A simple attitude adjustment was just the beginning. I needed to know what steps to take to get where I wanted to be.

The single most important thing was figuring out what to actually charge. What do artists charge for their work?

I’m going to highlight my friend Ashley’s Etsy business, Rainbow Witch Crafts, where she makes some of the most creative dreamcatchers and bohemian jewelry I’ve ever seen. Like me, Ashley is a self-taught artist with no formal education in the arts. When she first started making catchers it was just a hobby. But when she started getting good, everybody wanted one.

When people want what you’re making that means it’s good enough to charge money.

So, how to price the things you make…

1) Make a list of all the raw materials required to make a particular product.

For Ashley that would include things like a hoop, fabric, feathers, crystals, hemp rope, beads, and driftwood.

*If you’re in a business like I am (photography, consultancy, or anything else that doesn’t necessarily have materials) then I’ll address your ‘raw materials’ at the end of this article.

2) Total up your cost on all the materials.

Don’t short change yourself and go off of what it could cost you, figure out what it actually costs you.

For Ashley:

Hoop – $4.40

Fabric – $1.50. Each dreamcatcher uses 1/2 yard and the cost per yard is $3.

Crystals – $4. Pack of 10 crystals for $40. 1 crystal per catcher.

Hemp twine – $.10. $5.49 for 143 yards and it takes approximately 3 yards to weave 1 dreamcatcher.

Feathers & Driftwood – $10. These are a little more complicated but a good example for needing to price your time. Because Ashley spends an afternoon every couple of weeks foraging for feathers and wood in nature it doesn’t technically cost her bank account anything. This is a place where many artists would place the cost at $0. But whenever you are working on your craft you have to consider the value of your time. Let’s say Ashley charges $25/hour for her labor (which we’ll break down next) and she spends 4 hours foraging for materials that will make her a total of 10 dreamcatchers you have $25/hr x 4 hours = $100 in labor divided over the 10 catchers it will produce gives you $10 of labor/dreamcatcher. Still with me?

Total cost of materials for 1 dreamcatcher = $20.

You might think doubling your material cost would be a good basis for a price point. But after you start producing more than 1 of 2 of your perspective products in a week you’ll realize that you’re setting yourself up to be over-worked and under-satisfied.

3) Pricing your time.

There’s a simple formula for this (an even more simple flowchart linked at the end).

A) Determine the total amount of money you need to make in a month to take care of all your financial obligations and then maybe a little extra to take a trip to Portland and eat at all the food trucks. Consider rent/mortgage, credit card bills, car payment, groceries, entertainment, Hulu, and all the other exciting things you spend money on. This is the most logical figure to set as a goal for income because essentially you have to make it or you’re on the street (motivation). You can also just pick a monthly income goal if your financial situation is more stable or separate.

We’ll say this total is $2500 for Ashley. Could be more or less depending on your situation. Doesn’t matter, just know what it is.

B) Realistically assess how many hours you can work on your craft in a month before you start to burn out. For Ashley it is 5 hours/day x 20 days/month = 100 hours/month.

C) Set your price per hour: $2500 divided by 100 hours = $25/hour. This is your baseline price.

Stay with me.

D) Determine how many hours it takes you to make 1 product. You’re going to have to literally time yourself making something here which might sound tedious but once you’re done you won’t be the amateur anymore. *Side note* These are the kinds of practices that make a professional out of an artist and allow them the mentality to charge meaningful money for their meaningful work.

It takes Ashley 2.5 hours to complete 1 dreamcatcher, meaning she can make 2/day or 40/month.

4) Setting your price.

Cost of time per product: 2.5 hours x $25/hour = $62.50 in labor for 1 product

Cost of materials per product: $20 for 1 dreamcatcher

Price of product: time + materials: $62.50 + $20 = $82.50 for 1 dreamcatcher.

Now it would be my very strong advice to factor in a 10% charge for incidentals (returns, slow days, etc.) which would bring the total price to around $90.

That is where you start. If you feel overwhelmed just call your nerdy friend for help and follow this simple flow chart.

pricing the things you make flowchart

The next step is evaluating your number of sales after a few months and re-adjusting the formula. For example, Ashley might find that she is only selling half the number of dreamcatchers that she is making so she would need to double her hourly rate to compensate for the lost revenue. Give yourself at least 6 months to reach your income goal and factor in all the other aspects of a business like marketing, networking, branding, and customer care.

*For creatives that don’t have typical material costs you just have to understand the value of your time. Two things I do to make money are photography and entrepreneurial consulting. For both, it’s important to determine how much total time I am actually spending on a project.

For a photoshoot I will usually spend 1 hour researching and prepping. Then 3 hours on the shoot itself. And another 3 hours offloading, editing, and uploading the pictures, totally 7 hours for the average shoot. Based on my income requirements, how many shoots I do in a month, and the amount of money it now takes to motivate me, I like to make around $150/hour, which prices my shoots at around $1000. Granted when I’m slow or trying to build my clientele I will offer sales in order to build hustle and momentum but that is my baseline price. In the sake of full disclosure, I get that about half the time.

The same goes with consulting. It’s important to consider the time you spend prepping for clients in addition to the time you’re actually spending with them.

*Tip for someone who is afraid to charge a lot for their time:
Create an outline and agreement for your client. Write out exactly how the process of working with you is going to go and outline how much time you’ll spend on each particular task. Outline the creative process and outline the specific deliverables. Tell them what you’ll give them and by when and how much it is going to cost. Make them sign it. For that alone you’ll get double what you are currently charging.

Example of a content creation agreement I use HERE.

Content Creation Agreement for BlogI really hope this helps more creative entrepreneurs get organized and focused and start making money for the invaluable work that they do.

If you’d like to be productive every day and not sit around and wait for the next wave of inspiration to find you then have a look at my course, Organizing Inspiration. I can promise that you’ll never feel like an amateur again.

Let me know if you have any questions.

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How I Sweat

A while back, probably over a year actually, lululemon asked me to film something for their #antistink campaign. Basically how some of their ambassadors, athletes, and guests (particularly men) were sweating those days.

My approach to exercise includes physical exertion as well as emotional. It would be very difficult to do the same thing every day and still feel like I was growing. Over the last few years my go-tos have been martial arts, yoga, dance, and circuit training. I feel good about the balance of the mix.

I asked Kerry Constantino if she would film for me and she said yes. She had never filmed on a dSLR before but she had a good eye so I was confident.

I like how the video turned out, especially after I edited it in B & W.

Let me know what you think and possibly even your favorites ways to sweat.

Kirk Hensler: How I Sweat from kale & cigarettes on Vimeo.

Fitness Photoshoot with SexyFit in Downtown San Diego

Fitness Photoshoot with Zlata Sushchik of Sexyfit.

Zlata runs a really successful online fitness training company (Sexyfit) and needed some shots for her new website and social media channels.

Zlata was a competitive fitness model, racking up 21 competition titles, before she realized that health and wellness needed to take on a different meaning. Now she has created a coaching and support community online where women can learn exercise routines, meal plans, and be held accountable to reach their goals, all while taking time to appreciate their body and their journey.

We shot in 3 locations:

1) Fit Athletic – East Village, San Diego

2) Downtown San Diego Loft

3) San Diego Embarcadero

Total shots – 1786.

Edited down to 94 after 2 hours of scrolling through and deleting.

Below are my favorite 20 or so.

Model: Zlata Sushchik of Sexyfit | Photographer: Kirk Hensler of Kale & Cigarettes

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The Art of Quitting at Everything

*photo from wired.com

Perhaps past generations will read this and find me nothing but spoiled and asshole-ish.

The conversation I have been having most often with my friends focuses on another doozy – why do we get sick of everything?

It’s become an art form – The Art of Quitting at Everything.

I’ve wondered forever how it’s possible to get tired of every thing, including the things I love the most (blowjobs). No matter how stimulating, moving, or life-changing, it all grows old and mundane. I don’t expect simple-minded people to understand or relate to this. It’s not something you experience when you’re used to being mediocre, living primarily through the reptilian and mammalian brains that only care about food, shelter, sex, and a sense of belonging to a community. Those are the old requirements for living a fulfilling life, as a Neanderthal.

These days we have to worry about a third layer of the brain, the neo-cortex. And maybe even a 4th layer that is spoken about among fringe scientists. In these outer layers the questions revolve around the meaning of life, true love, greater purpose, and all the other things your annoying yoga friends speaks endlessly about, but we feel them too, in this pesky soul of ours.

Let’s tie this to a child’s mind and why things get boring. A child is like a sponge; we’ve all heard it. But why?

I was hanging out with Ryan and little Jasper yesterday and if you’re my friend on Insta you’ve seen this ridiculously cute and clairvoyant kid at an increasing rate. A while back we told him about my nickname, Meat Toosh, which is essentially a verbal tribute to my thunder thighs. Yesterday, I pulled up to the house and Ryan said, “Hey, who’s that guy?” Jasper tilted his head to look in the window and said, “That’s Meat Toosh.” We all erupted in goofy laughter.

It had been months since he heard that name. And it was only mentioned once in passing. So how did he remember? It defies what we know now about retaining information. Our short-term memory loops in 2-4 second cycles and if we don’t repeat the information hours, days, AND weeks later we lose it. But little baby Jasper had no problem drawing this name from the well months later.

Why?

Tell me now

For a long time scientists thought the brain was a fixed map. Each function in the body corresponding with a particular location in the brain. Later on, scientists proved that it was plastic, meaning that it was capable of changing just like a muscle.

Imagine that the ability to bend your index finger is controlled by a portion of the brain in the frontal lobe, in the primary motor cortex. And then by some unfortunate accident in a Burning Man tent you lose your index finger. In the past, people would believe that the part of the brain that controlled that function would shut down and become grey matter. But what really happens is that section of the brain is overtaken by neighboring sections, making their specific functionality in the body stronger and more efficient. The brain is constantly rewiring itself to become as efficient as possible at the tasks you regularly perform. It is literally built on the motto of use it or lose it.

Cool right?

Not necessarily. After a while, we develop such intense muscle memory that plasticity (change) in the brain is reduced. It doesn’t grow and neither do you. <Enter lack of purpose feeling>.

Now to why babies are living the life.

A part of the brain is always active during the critical growth period of children, until they are around 7 years old. It’s called the nucleus basalis. It activates when new or important information travels through the visual cortex. When you’re a child, everything is new and important, leaving the nucleus basalis permanently on.

Think of the nucleus basalis as the drug that Bradley Cooper takes in Limitless. And this is how and why small children can learn multiple languages easily, how they can find so much joy in playing with a simple block, and how they can remember nicknames like Meat Toosh months later. They are always paying attention. They are literally creating their brain maps.

And then, inevitably, they develop enough of a map to cruise through life on autopilot and grow into unsatisfied adults like many of us.

But there’s a way to reactivate this part of the brain as an adult – change your life. Do things differently.

Use your opposite hand to brush your teeth

Practice a new language

Draw upside down

Take dance classes

Ride your bike to work

Talk to strangers

Have your spouse thumb cap you

And put yourself in any position possible that scares the living shite out of you

Do SOMETHING. Your brain is crying and so is your soul.

The nucleus basalis is automatically activated when we’re challenged, trying new things, afraid, and most importantly, when we are simply paying attention to what is happening around us.

While it’s not as dreamy as yoga-speak, at least you’ll have a basic explanation for how to stimulate the little match lit fire waiting to be stoked.

 

*for more information contact Seeds Training or read the book The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge, M.D.

From the Top

How many times?

I really just want to know one thing: If I know what it takes to make myself happy and feel accomplished, why do I try to talk myself out of it every day?

I talked to my brother this morning. We are different in so many ways but at the core we share similar patterns. He was wondering why he was feeling bored in his relationship. I thought it was because he finally found a good girl that didn’t bring drama. Because let’s be honest, who the fuck doesn’t love drama?

Apparently a lot of people. They are called adults. There are many that are happy doing the same thing every day as long as they know they will have what they need and not have to be pushed too hard. They are actually content in that scenario. That same scenario sounds like the precursor to my own death.

I’m on the upswing today. I was in the shitter for a few days and each time I go there I think it is so bad. But then, like everything else in the whole fazookin world, I bounce back.

I was sitting there yesterday talking to my friend from Chicago on the phone. She said I didn’t sound too good. My voice was flat. There was no life. My other friend texted and said I could call if I needed to talk, that my texts were pretty emo. It was both heartwarming and a reality check. I cannot stand being the moody one. I want to sock myself in the testies when I spend a few days straight sulking around. I knew I needed exercise, spontaneity, and something to get the old juices flowin. I had options. A lot of them.

So why in the hell did I sit there and not want to do a single one of the things that was going to turn this funk around? That is the question of a lifetime. Figure that out and all the coaches of the world will become your slaves.

I ended up slapping myself in the face (for reals, it’s something I like to do from time to time) and went to the pier to watch the surf. Then I went to my friend’s dance show and watched them perform some really beautiful shit in very close proximity. Fucking brave performers. The ultimate. I left with the gentle buzz of life. They invited me to an after party dinner and while I was tempted to be pulled I knew I needed to finish the evening running by the water. I said goodbye and I walked to my car like a happy person that was capable of making them good choices.

I’ve had a good day so far today. Boxed the shit out of some people, crushing their hopes and dreams with my fists of fury. And did my computer work for the day. Now I get to cruise and chat and speak Espanol to my headphones and hold onto this until it leaves me again, because it will. And we’ll run this phrase again from the top.

And this only matters because it serves as a reminder that this is the best there is – a cycle of shit and gold that never stops.

Too Many Things: Do Something

I have a thing for efficiency. I trained myself to sleep without moving so it takes less time to make the bed in the morning. I warm the tea while I pull the oil. I do my Spanish lesson while I stretch. I have 2 computers going at once; one for work and one for research. I look really impressive to someone that lacks motivation. I sound really impressive when I speak to other entrepreneurs. But it doesn’t always work for me.

If there was only one funnel, one stream of productivity at a time, then my attempt to jam all things in at once would lead to a bottleneck. And it does. I THINK and THINK and THINK about all the things I have to do and actually do little to nothing. This happens on my “off days.” I can push through it, by picking one thing and doing it and letting the stream open by way of necessity. The cool thing – it always does. I know this.

I know that there is no such thing as a waste of time. I wrote this course once, called Organizing Inspiration, designed to help artists and entrepreneurs get out of their head and into a workable plan that would constantly produce output and create structure and mental freedom. It was probably the most impressive piece of work I’ve ever published. The reason for its birth was the fact that I want to do everything and nothing and I have to have it done at a certain time but I don’t want anyone to tell me how or why. I need structure but I hate structure. I need to follow orders but I refuse to take them from anyone else. I essentially used a process to allow myself to be my own boss without really realizing it. If you’ve worked for yourself, or had creative ambitions, you know how important this is.

This morning is a blue block. Blue = creative. Every day has one. I’m going to dance class. Later I’ve got a green block. Green = productive work that I enjoy. I’m going to film some video overviews for these individual worksheets.

It’s scary to realize that I only like things if I think they were my idea or came from someone so legit that other people don’t really know about yet. As soon as it’s popular, even if it’s my world-favorite thing, I start to turn against it. It’s innate. And I know a lot of people are like this. The key to creating something that I would actually follow was to design it in a way that could change on a daily basis. I never have to work the same schedule twice. I can cycle through a hundred different creative activities. I can take entire days off. It works for me because it caters to the entire human.

The happiest times of my life are when I’m getting work done; things that I enjoy and things that most people wouldn’t finish. That’s me. A sense of accomplishment never gets old.

I wasn’t intending to write in this direction. I keep thinking that I’m writing a sales page right now. The point was to talk about how I have too many things going on right now. I can’t focus on one. I look around, I want to play the guitar, no I should draw, I need to finish this book, have to edit the trailer, need to shoot my own trailers, I haven’t stretched today, did I meditate yet? Am I hungry? Need some sulfur, should I pay bills? And on and on until I’m curled up in the fetal position wishing I was on sabbatical in a third-world country.

I’m in a funk. What I call “The Float.” When nothing sounds good, nothing feels good, I essentially don’t want to do anything. These used to last weeks at a time. And now I remember I just need to make myself a schedule for the next 3 days and take care of all the things that make me human – work work, work I love, creative projects, exercise, socializing, resting, and accountability. I’ll get through the 3 days and stick to my mini schedule and I’ll feel like a million fucking dollars. It works every time and it doesn’t matter how bad the funk.

Still, makes you wonder – why does it take a pep talk every time I need to do what I know will make me happy?