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Learning to Live: The BRUcrew Manifesto

Posted by on Dec 30, 2012 | 6 Comments

Think about your life right now.

Specifically, think about the positives.

Now think of the negatives.

If you were to die in 15 minutes, would you be satisfied with the life you’ve lived?

If you can honestly say “yes”, this post isn’t for you. If you have any hesitation, read on.

The Problem

Most of us wander through life without really experiencing life. We’re crippled by painful events of the past. We’re immobilized by anxiety about the future. We put up a facade of happiness but are really filled with a growing sense of quiet desperation.

We ask ourselves “Is this it? Is this what life’s all about?”

We try to fill the void by buying more stuff, having children, or escaping with copious amounts of alcohol. We distract ourselves with meaningless activities; we fill our lives with business that drowns out that inner voice that represents our hopes, dreams, and desires.

If you’re silently nodding along, you understand. Keep reading. If this sounds like a completely foreign concept, you’re doing one of two things:

  1. You’re living life to the fullest right now. In that case, you have a valuable gift to share with the world. We need you. Or…
  2. You’ve managed to stamp out all elements of true humanity from the deepest recesses of your consciousness. You’ve come a sheep mindlessly following the crowds. You’ve become a cog in a giant machine that wants you to sit down, shut up, and behave. The machine wants you to be grateful for what you have; to use shapeless undefinable fear to keep you exactly where you are. Unfortunately the rest of us cannot help you. The fire cannot be stoked if there is no ember.

The Solution

The solution is simple- start living.

How?

There are a tons of paths you can take, but I’m going to selfishly recommend the BRUcrew idea. It’s my own collection of activities that will begin to answer those deepest questions; fill those deepest desires; fulfill those long-lost dreams. We all have our inner demons; or own personal struggles we hide from the world. BRUcrew is a plan, a road map of sorts. It’s a road map to confront and overcome those demons and answer those deep questions. Like all plans, it’s not necessarily a plan that will work for everyone, but it’s working for me. And it working for Shelly.

BRUcrew is a plan that takes the form of a community of like-minded people that are interested in filling that void. It’s a living, breathing entity where members learn and share ideas to help each other grow. None of us have the answers, but we get closer when we begin asking the right questions. In order to ask the right questions, we need to surround ourselves with the right people. BRUcrew is my attempt to bring that community together.

My Really Brief Story

The seeds for the BRUcrew idea were planted about a decade ago. I was in an unfulfilling relationship but at the start of a potentially awesome career. My head was filled with grand dreams of making a real difference, but life circumstances were slowly crushing those dreams. Many of the people around my own age seemed to be in the same position. My older colleagues seemed to have solved that problem by giving up their dreams. They seemed to accept the idea that one person can’t change the world. One person didn’t have the power to do great things.

And it scared the Hell out of me.

My solution was to attempt to change. I ended the relationship. I started a new relationship with Shelly. At the time, it was empowering. I was allowed to be myself for the first time in my life. I started to make a difference.

Over time, however, I started to fall back into the same old thought patterns. Outwardly, I was going through the pattern of buying stuff, accumulating debt, and shackling myself to a lifestyle I didn’t enjoy. I was on a slow, steady march toward retirement, then death.

After some serious relationship strife and with the help of a talented therapist, I came to realize I was the problem. I was allowing my past to handcuff my potential. I was a slave to my own inner demons.

Shelly was in the same situation. Our past pains was seriously sabotaging our lives. We had created a life we hated. We put up a good front; most people would probably say we appeared to be happy. That facade hid a very dark, depressing reality.

When we made the decision to fix ourselves, it put us in a position to rebuild our relationship. We started focusing on the things that really mattered. That led us to the decision to quit our jobs and really embrace an exciting life… the life we really wanted. It was as much an inward journey as it was an outward adventure.

Along the way, we developed a skill set that allows us to maintain better relationships with between us, our children, and everyone we encounter. We decided to put our honest selves out there.

Since then, magical things have happened.

Our life isn’t perfect and we’re not always filled with overwhelming joy and happiness, but we’re living life on our own terms. We have a freedom I never would have imagined as being possible. We’ve created a canvas that allows us to paint what we want to paint. We’ve created a life where our innermost dreams are not only possible, they’re inevitable.

BRUcrew

Shortly after Shelly and I started traveling the country, we realized surrounding ourselves with others that were on a similar journey provided incredible learning opportunities. Having close like-minded friends was invaluable to our journey. We helped our friends. They helped us. We had created a tiny community that learned from each other.

BRUcrew is my attempt to intentionally make that community better by adding more voices. Shelly and I learned invaluable lessons we love to share. We want to surround ourselves with others that want the same. We want to surround ourselves with people that want to make a difference. We want to surround ourselves with people that want something better.

The idea for the group started as a boot camp-style fitness group geared toward trail runners, but the format offers so much more possibility. It has the potential for us to share some of our ideas and learn from others. It has the potential to allow group members to learn from each other. It’s about growing. It’s about connectedness. It’s about living.

BRUcrew focuses on exploring a few basic principles:

  1. Open, flexible, thought-provoking information exchange.
  2. Embrace simplicity.
  3. Embrace curiosity.
  4. Seek excitement.
  5. Build life skills.

The goal is to allow our true selves to emerge and ultimately make the world a better place. We’re going to break that pattern of quiet desperation you’re experiencing. When we ask ourselves the question:

If you were to die in 15 minutes, would you be satisfied with the life you’ve lived?

We’re going to make sure each of us can answer a resounding “YES!”

What Activities Does BRUcrew Do?

Since BRUcrew is a living entity, the exact content will always be determined by the members. The basics, however, will always be the same: The activities will be challenging in some realm, be it physical, social, or emotional. We will intentionally seek out discomfort. We will confront fear.

To do this, we will borrow from anywhere and everywhere. Members are encouraged to not only participate, but to seek out new ideas for the group to share. In the beginning stages, many of the activities will be my own, which would include:

  • Physical exercise routines based on the principles of Kemme Fitness and Crossfit to build strength and functional fitness.
  • Challenging mountain runs to build endurance.
  • Combative skills to feel more secure and self-confident.
  • Intentionally seeking out uncomfortable social situations.
  • Develop mindfulness skills to help us live in the moment.
  • Build altruism and increase giving behaviors.
  • Increasing self-acceptance and overcoming self-doubt.

How to Get Involved

There are two opportunities to get involved. First, if you live in Southern California, you can join us for our meetups. Initially these events will not follow a regular schedule. We will meet intermittently do do a variety of activities. The meetups will be announced on the group’s Facebook page.

Second, you can participate on the BRUcrew Facebook page. This is for both the people that attend the physical meetups and those that do not live in Southern California. I will post our most recent activity, which you can do on your own then report back to the Facebook group. Participation in discussions isn’t absolutely necessary, but it is strongly recommended. Open communication is the only way all of us can learn from each other.

When the group started as a fitness group, I was going to charge a per-session fee. I have since decided to take a different approach based on the open source software movement- the work I do as the BRUcrew facilitator will be based entirely on anonymous “donations.” This will represent the “fee” for participating, thus it’s not tax-deductible. In other words, you can give in proportion to what you feel you’re getting out of the group. Furthermore, it removes socioeconomic status as a requirement. If you can’t afford to give, you’re still more than welcome to participate. I’ll have that system set up shortly.

If You’re Interested, Take These Steps

  1. Join the Facebook group.
  2. Do the first challenge I posted (look for Challenge #1 post.)
  3. Post about your experiences with the first challenge.
  4. If interested in participating in the meetup group, check back periodically.

That’s it! If you answered “no” to that initial question, join us to help turn it into a “yes.” We need your input; we need your experiences. We need you. ;-)

Frequently Asked Questions

I’m not very fit, can I still participate?

  • Yes! All of our physical activities are scalable. All you need is a willingness to challenge yourself. It helps if you’re not a complainer.

I’m an introvert crippled by social anxiety and/or have absolutely no social skills. I don’t think I can join a group.

  • I was a huge introvert, too, but learned to fake it until I wasn’t an introvert anymore. Many of the activities I’ll suggest are geared especially toward you. All it takes is a tiny bit of courage to make the decision to stop allowing the fear of social judgment to handcuff your life.

This idea scares me. What if I can’t do a challenge?

  • The point of the group is to explore yourself, which requires you to confront fears. We’ll learn how to embrace fear. We’ll learn how to rationalize fear. We’ll learn how to use fear to our advantage.

I can’t do this because [insert excuse here.]

  • I’ll go back to the original thought- you’re going to die one of these days. Time is the only resource that truly limits us. Are you willing to waste more than you already have? If you are willing to continue doing what you’ve done in the past and hoping for different results, this group is not for you. Otherwise, your excuse isn’t valid. Join the community.

Any other questions? Leave them in the comments section!

If you know of someone that might be interested in participating in this community, please forward them this post.

I’m insanely excited about building this community! I’m looking for the dreamers. I’m looking for the curious. I’m looking for those that want something better. I’m looking for the thinkers. There are just too many of us out there to not organize so we can learn and share from each other. If you made it this far and are feeling excited by the possibility, if you’re feeling that inner ember beginning to burn a little brighter, I’m looking for YOU.

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6 Comments

  1. Matt Lee
    January 11, 2013

    …”we will borrow from anywhere and everywhere.”

    My mind instantly jumped to Bruce Lee and Jeet Kune Do.

    Take whatever is useful from wherever you may find it and discard the rest.

  2. Episode 70 Lara Rosenberger » Run Barefoot Girl
    January 5, 2013

    [...] Katy Bowman Dave Congalton, talk show host and Caity’s coach on 920 KVEC Sexpressionists The BRUCrew Manifesto on Barefoot Running University Ken Skier’s Tips For Barefoot Runners in The New Year Facebook [...]

  3. Barefoot Running University » BRUcrew Update: A Journey to Become More Social, Courageous, and Empathic. Or Awesome.
    January 5, 2013

    [...] week I wrote a post the BRUcrew idea, then a follow-up post explaining how to overcome the fears associated with the challenges. So far, [...]

  4. Barefoot Running University » Overcoming Fear: An Essential Tool for the BRUcrew Toolbox
    December 31, 2012

    [...] Yesterday I formally kicked off the virtual version of BRUcrew. In short, it’s my attempt to create a tribe of people that are interested in improving their lives in multiple realms, including physical, mental, social, and emotional. I want to create a community of like-minded people that can learn from each other so all of us can grow. I want people to really live, not just bumble through life (here’s yesterday’s post.) [...]

  5. bryan
    December 30, 2012

    Another FAQ, though probably not that frequent since I’m in the minority; what if I’m not on F*cebook?

  6. Juha Myllylä
    December 30, 2012

    Crossfit, martial arts, mountain running.. That’s lots of different physical things to train. I have never succeeded in training multiple things, always something just drops out and something gets to be one thing to specialize into, sooner or later. Also philosophically, I don’t use my free time to train things I need, I train things I like. It’s kind of “enjoying your life now” thing, not setting goals that you need to achieve and then it (perhaps) gets better.

    And there’s no mountains nearby.. Sorry, I tend to be kind of negative person sometimes. :(