Foundation & Vision: The Keys to Forward Progress (And some Cara Updates)

Happy June!

The year has been burning away fast, but that’s to be expected when you’re running a business, independently producing an entire online show, and trying to have a life, which, I am. Well, at the least the first two things. Before I start doling out my innermost ramblings, a bit of business.

I’ve got some exciting new developments in the pipeline (So. Much. Filming!), and then I’ll hit you a blog I’ve been sitting on for a while; I found it in my drafts and realized I’d never actually posted it; and thank goodness, otherwise I would have had to write something new (just kidding, I’ve been doing a decent amount of new writing, including a long and interesting interview with PlagueofStrength.com, which will be forth-coming soon).

Still from Asher, Season 2: Episode VI. Caption this in the comments plz.

So, a few updates:

  • I am growing my online business. I offer customized strength and fitness programming. This includes unlimited text, email and video support, and is perfect for both total fitness newbies to aspiring strongman athletes who want to compete. You can email me at carapatriciabrennan at gmail dot com, to learn more or set up a video consult. If you have ever wanted me to help steer your gain-train, now is the time.
  • Season 2 of Asher is coming along. Episode VI is almost finished, and OHHHHH, BOY. It’s gonna be a ride. We have more badass sequences in this new episode than maybe all of last season combined. It’s also going to be at least a full thirty minutes minimum, like a real-ass, globally streaming, cult-hit series . If you are interested in investing in production, shoot me an email. If you want to help out a little with smaller production costs, you can send us a few bones on PayPal.me/Ashertheseries.com. Speaking of money…
  • We are launching a Patreon! This is very exciting and I am eager to put up some cool Behind the Scenes content as we keep filming this month. The first tier is ONLY $1 , so you literally have no reason to not sign up (unless like, you hate me, which, okay, but then why are you reading this?). We also have $5, and $25 tiers. That is it, for lots of cool content and the satisfaction of knowing you’re helping one of the coolest new shows on the planet grow its legs. Boom. And we will be launching on online store this month with unique, badass Asher t-shirts and merch. How. About. THAT. It’s pretty exciting.
  • We (Lonely Cow Productions) will also be releasing some other fun video content (some of which will only be available to our Patrons), so be sure to subscribe to us on YouTube.

And now, new blog!

FOUNDATION & VISION: THE KEYS TO FORWARD PROGRESS

Each of us will be called to do things that will change us; each of us will have ambitions and goals that we don’t know the process and path to. You don’t know what it’s going to take to change your life, and you won’t be able to anticipate the biggest challenges until you are in them. You need a foundation under your feet and a vision in front of you to weather the shitstorms and bear the beatings you will inevitably take.

You have no idea what your goal will demand or ask of you. Maybe the goal is the start of a fitter-healthier lifestyle, starting a business, going to grad school, or starting a family or any number of normal human things you might want to do. I hope you have SOME goals, and if you don’t, well, that’s it’s own problem.

You might have some ideas about what challenges you will face in pursuit of your goal(s), but when you do meet them, they will be different than you imagined. They will test parts of you you didn’t know existed. You will question everything you thought you knew about yourself. There is almost no point in trying to anticipate these challenges, because they will surprise you, no matter what. So what to do about them?

Are we doomed to be totally rattled when the inevitable happens? Not if you approach things with an antifragile attitude, and a growth-oriented perspective, which essentially means embodying our species’ adaptation abilities in your life. That is a bit vague though, and I like semi-concrete tools, which leads me to what I think are the most essential components of successful endeavors: Have a foundation under you, and a vision in front of you.

Hal Elrod, who should definitely be dead but somehow isn’t, says that anyone who has created something remarkable or made incredible, extraordinary results in their lives and the lives of others, has had two major things in common:

-They somehow established faith that they could do it; without anything prior in their past indicating that was the case

-And they put forth extraordinary effort until it was done

His point is that those are the two ingredients one needs for getting anything “big” done, anything at all, and that we are so used to living in the past and basing our abilities off the past that we limit ourselves dramatically with that linear thinking. We think, “well, I’ve only ever been able to accomplish A and B, so there’s probably no way I can do X.”

This is one of the things I love about strength training and building lots of muscle. If you want to keep progressing, you grow the habit of DOING MORE THAN YOU HAVE EVER DONE, and continuously have to reinvent that effort as you grow.  You practice working beyond your known skillset, which can help you change your attitude toward doing more than you’ve ever done in other things.

So if one accepts Hal’s premise that unwavering faith + effort gets the job done, then the question becomes, well, “I want to do X, but how do I create the unwavering faith? I don’t really believe in myself.”  That’s a good question, and even the most confident of us will have many times where we doubt our abilities. Acknowledge that this is pretty human and universally true of everyone. The aforementioned practice of training is also a great way to practice belief in one’s ability to do more and grow.

Another way to think of cultivating the faith that will power your efforts, is not trying to cultivate faith, per se, but to cultivate vision. In order to cultivate vision, you need a home base, a stable foundation. Ultimately every one of us has to carve out and practice our ability to listen to our inner voice, AND critically observe the world around us for feedback about what does and does not work.

What will it take to achieve your goals? You likely will not know the biggest challenges until you are IN THEM. And where do you want to be when an Earthquake hits? Somewhere fucking stable, like a cave. And how do you find the coast in a storm? A lighthouse. Build your cave, and build your lighthouse, and you will give yourself a gorgeous fighting chance at accomplishing whatever it was you set out to do. Something under you and something above you, both guiding and supporting you.

CREATE YOUR CAVE: THE FOUNDATION

Let’s go with the cave analogy; I find caves very cozy sounding; like a Hobbit hole.

“Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”

Who wouldn’t want to live there?!

Your cave can be both somewhere literal and physical, somewhere comfortable and rejuvenating where you can rest, retreat, plan, and strategize from. Somewhere you can eat and play and fuck and enjoy yourself, and brainstorm and write and create, but it’s also what contexts you surround yourself with: your environment. Your environment includes but is not limited to:

-The five (or however many) people you spend the most time with

-Your physical home environment and geographical location

-Your work environment (people, physical place, culture)

-The literal thoughts in your head/your psyche

-The sounds/sights/smells you experience, activities and subcultures you engage in in your free time


For example, it’s my anecdotal observation that New York City dwellers are incredibly sensory down-regulated; meaning we shut off a lot of our sensitivities to physical internal experiences, because our systems are so freaked out by our insane geographical and sensory environment: there is constant noise (sirens, people, car-horns, people), a rapidly shifting visual plane, constant different smells, even constant movement (subway cars rattling underneath our feet). There’s a reason we drink so much; it’s probably in part our way of coping with the incredibly high stimuli we experience every day.

All New Yorkers by the end of their work week

If something in your environment is really off, it can affect you dramatically. Toxic friends, shitty work cultures, a dirty house – all of these things are things you should be taking stock of in the light of trying to change something massive in your own life. Everything is interconnected, and everything you are experiencing RIGHT NOW is shaping YOU, whether you like it or not.

Ultimately this comes back to one thing: this is your life, right now. Forget your goals, forget your ideas of what you “could be” in some nebulous future.  Be right here, right now. What do you want to be doing? What do you want to experience? We spend a lot of time being dissatisfied and envious of other people without actually putting our focus into really experiencing our present and seeing if it’s as good or bad as we think it is. Once you have made a determination of actually being present and observing what your life IS, then you can start to align yourself with the things you know will steer you in the right direction.


Basically, take really careful stock of your own what, who, and where, before you start trying to change everything. As I’m sure I will repeat often, maybe you don’t need to change that much and just need to work on being more connected and present; that connectedness, hokey though it may sound, is one of the only real determining factors in life satisfaction. Take some time appreciating and if necessary, building your “cave.” This by itself can be a game changer.

CULTIVATING VISION: THE LIGHTHOUSE

You are going to doubt. You are going to think, “I’m not ready to be a parent. I’m not strong enough. I’m not smart enough for this job, I’m not creative or talented enough to make this project happen.” You’re going to think some versions of those things, it WILL HAPPEN. Dealing with that doubt takes practice and demands a willingness to be uncertain in the face of new challenges.


Assuming you have done due diligence in sorting yourself out; figuring out your big underlying childhood baggage and  resulting motivations and behaviors, you can be ready to dismiss some thoughts rather than waste time analyzing them. Sometimes it won’t be clear if something is a reflexive doubt that can be dismissed, from something you should actually pay attention to;  so I’m not saying you will always be able to just immediately ignore these doubts, but that ideally you will have gotten to a point where you trust yourself enough and have done enough work on yourself to be able to recognize a potentially helpful doubt/question from a derailing one. To some degree we are always in this process; so I don’t mean to make it sound like this deep, personal growth is a one and done task, just that there are sometimes essential components (reconciling your childhood or a formative trauma(s) or experience) that we are well served by tackling by themselves rather than in the midst of also starting to open a business or something. There’s ambitious and there’s self-destruction in the form of taking on too many things. Know the difference.

A painting depicting a lighthouse on a small precarious rocky outcrop surrounded by a vicious sea and stormy sky
If this is analogous to your life right now…sorry.

A derailing doubt in my experience is often going to come from a very fearful place – something about feeling like you’ll be found a fraud or no one will like you if you continue to do what you’ve committed to. A derailing fear ultimately is about protecting your ego in some ways, and that’s fine, your ego works some heavy jobs for you and needs a little coddling sometimes, but you can’t let it take over.

So here’s where the lighthouse comes in.  

Everything is in movement and everything is an experience; your vision will be a living, changing thing on its own; a thing you empower and feed into.

Your vision can be cultivated such that it is much stronger than the doubt before you, such that the doubt doesn’t discourage you, doesn’t make you stop, or back down. Your vision is the light at the end of the tunnel of dark uncertainty. You can’t quite see how you’re going to get through it, but you know what direction to head in.

Vision to means a literal, clear series of thoughts that imagine what you want your life to be like, or explore what it is you want to be experiencing. It doesn’t have to be super specific, but when it can, that is helpful.  Visions act as beacons, and the stronger the beacon, the stronger your ability to cut through the choppy and shitfilled waters of every-day life to become the person you want to be and do the things you want to do.

Something that has always helped me is, when I imagine myself doing the thing I want to be doing or being in the place I want to be in, I try to imagine in the present moment, what qualities it will take to get me there. If I’m on a podium at a big meet or competition, what am I feeling? Am I reflecting on all the hard work and striving it’s taken to get me there? When I am on set filming, am I totally engaged in the work because I prepared for that day properly?

I don’t invest too much “belief” in these scenarios, because they are imagination exercises, and they are not necessarily predictors of the future, nor do I intend them to be. They are a tool to give me insight on how to work clearly toward my goals without getting bogged down in the anxiety that comes from vague pressure to succeed. Just asking the question “who did I hire to light the shoot,” or “how confident in my training prep will I be on game day,” may immediately trigger my powerful imagination to start thinking of options and solutions.

Finally, I think that there is a magical (and by magical I mean potentially non-material and/or mysterious mechanism at work) power in meditating on what you want your life to be like, and what you want for yourself long term. There will be many wonderful and tragic things you won’t expect, of course, but that doesn’t dismiss the concept that by actively asking your imagination of what could be, you allow yourself to start creating avenues to get there, that you might not have had you not asked the questions/imagined the possibilities. Our minds are powerful things.

Question, imagine, then cultivate visions from your cave (and beyond).

Thanks for reading, let me know what you thought in the comments or on IG @Captainstarbuck.

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