Monday, July 7, 2014

The 30-Day No Judgment, No Criticism, No Complaining Challenge

Today is my DAY 1 of the 30-Day No Judgment, Criticism or Complaints Challenge that was talked about yesterday at the Center for Spiritual Living in West Orange, NJ. Not many folks made it the full 30 days and I can see how difficult this can be, depending on your lifestyle, commute, relationship situation and whether you plan to spend the next 30 days on vacation on a remote island with a caterer.

The idea is that we give away so much of our time and energy to being critical, either toward others or ourselves and then complaining about others behavior that it’s not surprising we have little energy for our own dreams and passions. In other words, we are shackled by our own intolerance of life. We are prisoners of our criticism of this imperfect life, refusing to accept life on life’s terms, refusing to be tolerant of other’s behaviors. But it is a choice. I choose to be critical. I choose to be quick to anger at traffic and highway injustice (Been cut off recently? Watched someone texting while driving?).

For me, the next 30 days is not about being harsh with myself because I may be judgmental and critical. It’s about being observant to my behavior and acknowledging when I am less than tolerant of myself or others and then seeing where I can let go and accept life as it is.

Easy? Maybe not. I believe I am wired to criticize and judge. Aren’t we all? No. Actually, we’re not. Children don’t judge or criticize until they learn to from their parents, which means we are taught to be intolerant and complain if we don’t like what’s happening to us. In that case, I can stop the way I think and change my thinking so that I’m not giving my energy away.

Traffic is. People will behave out of their beliefs. Rain happens. People are not us; they are themselves and sometimes we don’t understand why they do what they do. They are living as they believe it’s best for them, whether that means they’re selfish, loving, short to anger or at peace with life. Why give our energy to these people and events, when truth is, they don’t care and may not be aware of how their actions are affecting us?

I’m going to make this a great experiment and in the days that follow, I will see how well I do to be less judgmental, less critical and less complaining. If I find myself more at peace with more energy for what I dream, then it’s been a success. If I don’t last more than a few days, then it’s a few days less of giving my energy away and I can start over the next day. I expect more than one “Day 1” to occur!

Wanna give it a try? Be kind to yourself and have fun.

No judgment. No criticism. No complaints. Only love.

Thank you Spirit for the peace and tolerance to accept people as they are and life as it is.

Gary . . .

Monday, November 4, 2013

Horror and the Overlords Connection

Hi, my name is Mike Squatrito and I’m the author of The Overlords fantasy series. I currently have self-published the first three novels in my Overlords collection and I’m working on the fourth as we speak. The stories are epic fantasy, on the lines of The Lord of the Rings, written at a Harry Potter level, with the character set influenced by the original Star Wars cast. I know, a can’t miss, right?!?! The books are suitable for middle school on up and highly recommended for all.

OK, enough about me and my books. I want to thank Gary for letting me guest post on his blog and being the fourth stop on my Overlords Blog Tour. Gary and I are Necon buddies and I’m very excited to be guest blogging on his site today! Knowing that Gary’s works are firmly entrenched in the horror genre I figured that I would talk about how horror and the Necon experience has weaved its way into my Overlords story line.

My novels, as I stated above, are pure fantasy but I have several dark corners within the series that border on horror. Before I delve into them, I wanted to describe what horror means to me. There are all types of scenes – blood and guts, gore, terrifying situations, intense anxiety – just to name a few. I’m not one for the blood and guts, hack’em up, cut them up with a chain saw … but wait … maybe I am!

One thing about horror that gets me is the shock of being terrified and the anxiety of knowing something awful is going to happen but just not knowing how. It’s the anxiety and fright that I like to convey and I can do this within my fantasy guidelines without crossing the line. The Scynthians, an evil humanoid race that I created in The Overlords, are six and a half-feet tall, fur covered, ruthless, albeit not too intelligent, creatures that have embarked on their “Extinction Process”. Basically their mantra is to slay every human they encounter by hacking off their arms, allowing them to bleed to the point of unconsciousness before tossing them, while still alive, into a raging inferno. Pretty horrific. Gory. Scary. And I thought this up before I ever attended Necon. You should be proud of me, Gary!

Another scenario has to do with anxiety, building the scene, knowing something is lurking just beyond the fringes. While journeying through the wilderness, an innocent night camping around the fire turns into a devastating situation. The dogs sense an evil presence and teleport out of the camp rather than to stay and help protect their masters. When man’s best friend decides to hightail it out of a cozy campsite while cooking food is present, you really should take notice. (Dogs never leave food. Never!) I feel I built up the anxiety level quite well and our heroes barely make it out alive.

Lastly, shock is always littered throughout the horror genre. When our adventurers ambush a bumbling band of Scynthians, they discover with horror that they were carting a wagon full of severed human body parts. To add to the intense scene, while trying to determine just what they’ve stumbled upon, they find that a teenage girl is still alive, pale white, one arm severed, the other badly broken and clinging to life. As you can see, I really wanted to drive home the point that the Scynthians are bad ass!

There are other circumstances where my group of warriors encounter horror-filled situation, but you’ll have to pick up your own copy of The Overlords to find out! I would like to thank Gary and all of my other horror author friends for opening my eyes to this exciting genre. I’ll be sure to tread lightly in this arena, since it’s not my area of expertise. I can only hope I did them proud!

My time here is up, but I wanted to pass along a few shameless plugs. You can learn more about me and my project at and you can contact me directly at As you can see, I’m looking for other authors to guest blog on my site and if you’re interested please contact me.

You can purchase my books and eBooks on my website or if you have Amazon (Kindle) and Barnes & Noble (Nook) accounts, at the following:


Barnes and Noble:

Like The Overlords Book Series on Facebook

Follow me on Twitter, @Overlords

Check out my blog,

Check out my Self-Publishing consultancy as well, Self Publishing Insight

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Who Am I ... Part V

A lesson from a metaphysician goes like this: We come from the Unmanifested Godhead, something like a vast ocean of souls, and manifest on this plane, being born into this world to experience life. We are a spiritual being having human experiences. When we die, we return to the Unmanifested Godhead and share our experiences with God, who cannot manifest on this plane. I don't recall why God can't manifest here, only that he cannot, so God lives vicariously (if you will) through us.

This makes me think of the elderly parent who waits by the window of their room in a nursing home for their children to come and tell them about their lives. Is God waiting in some cosmic senior home for us to come and visit to tell him what life is like outside his four sterile white walls?

I digress ...

We come from this Unmanifested Godhead where all the souls go between lives, between incarnations. Here, we review our lives to see if the lessons we were to learn were learned. What lessons does a soul need to learn? No. It's the lessons as humans that we need to learn. Humility, gratitude, love, tolerance, inner peace, kindness. Or is it the incomplete soul that needs to learn compassion, empathy? Aren't we complete? Don't we already know all  we need to know to be perfect spirits?

As part of the vast divine ocean, we all have slivers of God within us; the flickering flame we hardly recognize is God within us. But is God really within us? The gurus tell us to imagine a flame and we do and they tell us that it is God within us and we say "Yes!" Or do we question the gurus? It's just an image. Someone could tell us to imagine a worm wriggling through our bodies and that's God within. Same idea, just not as "pretty" and nice and the connotations of a worm aren't as spiritual as a flickering flame.

So do I believe I've come from a vast ocean of souls to manifest here to learn to be a better "soul or "person"? I believe I was born into this life to learn lessons on how to be true to my "higher self", on how to be as authentic as possible. Boy, for the most part, I haven't done such a great job. I've let all those roles and expectations and beliefs take control and guide me. I've got much thinking to undo.

What do you believe? Who are you?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Who Am I ... part IV (The Voraciousness of Ego)

I cannot have any distractions for this trick. I cannot contemplate anything but uncovering my true self from the blizzard of beliefs I AM under. Yesterday I thought about writing for an anthology or a novella for a publisher and spent the rest of the day reminding myself that I'm not a good writer and I would only be embarrassing myself if I submitted something. This is not the space to argue whether I am or not, suffice to say this is what I believe. This is why the notion of jettisoning all my beliefs sounds pretty darn good.

When I say that I live as if there is another person standing right behind me judging me, that is exactly what the voice in my head (of my Ego?) is like. It is a pitbull of a watchdog that reminds me I am not enough. Okay, we've heard all that already, right? So what's new? (Say something witty before they all get up and leave!)

"Don't believe everything you think."

Good advice. What I  realized is that my Ego (for lack of a better word and to name the voice in my head without calling it Bob) is devious and cunning. While my Ego (Edging God Out, get it?) kept on about my writing abilities, I was completely off-focused from digging deeper toward the answer to Who Am I. Ah, very clever, right?

Some Spiritual Gurus will say that the Ego is something we created a a means of surviving a toxic childhood and it accepted all the beliefs we were taught and now we fight the Ego to come out from underneath and be our own person. Other Gurus will say that every thought you have is your own and to take responsibility for your thoughts. Let me tell you, it was much easier when I had an Ego to blame instead of accepting I was thinking those thoughts. On the other hand, all of my crucifying thoughts are as if someone is speaking to me. I never say "I'm a failure", It's always "You are a failure." Go figure.

So I ask you, how do you shut your thoughts off? What do you believe about yourself?

I was told I'm very introspective. Quite the curse, in a way. I don't think most people dwell on the same thinkings as I do.

Ah well. Enough for today. Back to I AM and clearing my head and not getting distracted. It's too easy for me to fall backward into the pit if I'm not vigilant.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Who I Am ... part III

If you had asked me a week ago, I would've told you that I was doing better, that the inner executioner had settled back when confronted with I AM because I AM says everything and nothing. It accepts no roles, identities or expectations and that was what the executioner feasted on.

All those expectations sloughed away when I became no one but I AM. I wasn't a father, son, writer, brother, musician, DJ, poet, brother-in-law, staff accountant II, husband or anything other than the organic and pure I AM. At first I thought that was a cop out. What do you mean, I AM? Bill S said that had helped him when he asked Who am I. The answer was I AM. What BS, right? I mean it's a non-answer. But that's the point. It's a non-identity and yet it means everything.


But as the week crept on, something happened. Maybe it was life. Maybe it was the overflow of negative energy that I'm immersed in. Early October I'll know if I have a job come 2014. The house that was supposed to be sold isn't and we're back to square one trying to sell it. No one around me is particularly optimistic. In trying to get rid of all distractions, I'm not writing.  Minus the distractions all I've left is me and you know how I feel about that. When there's no one else around, the executioner comes back again nice and loud. Throwing I AM at him doesn't seem to mean anything. I still don't know who I am. Repeating I AM is ambiguous with no concrete reality.

Add to this my friend, Bob Booth passed away early Saturday morning, so I'm quite sad about that.

I hate self-hate but liking myself isn't easy. If I'm not vigilant, I fall backward quickly. How's that go: One step up, two steps back. Lately, the executioner has begun degrading me as a writer: my writing will never amount to anything and there's no point in submitting it because I'll only embarrass myself. Lovely, huh?

And no, for me, it's not as simple as just stop thinking those negative thoughts. It's like living with someone always right behind me verbally beating me.

So back to I AM because there's no other choice, though I would like some other supporting concepts to keep the executioner at bay. That's about all the news that's print to fit.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Who Am I ... part 2

So then this funny thing happens. I've kicked myself to the curb and then spend a week in the curb, kicking myself some more because its familiar and easy. When I look at my track record of "accomplishments as a responsible, middle age male American", I fall way short (or so I believe): no college degree, no career track, no high powered anything, no zest to make fistfuls of money, no . . . interest in living up to expectations. Yeah. That's it.

I stop kicking myself. I'm doing time in the gutter and I'm looking at the cars, dreaming. Beliefs. Here I go again. It's this antiquated belief system. I know that. I KNOW that. Always have. But what does that really mean? Easy to say my belief system's broken and faulty, but then what? Bill S says beliefs are stories we tell ourselves, made up fictions of who we think we are. They're not real. Kathleen R says surely I have some healthy and beautiful beliefs about myself. Bill, I know. Kathleen, not so much.

But it gets me thinking, you know? In a world where I feel so small, I can't stop thinking big right now.What if I just jettison all my beliefs. Right here and right now. No more. Bye bye. Who-hoo, see ya. From this moment I have no beliefs about myself.

Then the notion of roles comes front and center. See how that happens? I am a father, husband, writer, son, brother, musician, friend, coworker, staff accountant II (really???) and I can add a dozen more from all the years of my life. Those roles define me, define all of us and tell us who we are based on our understanding of those roles. As a father I am this. as a son, I am that. As a writer, I'm this and that and the other thing over there. In other words, all these roles come with expectations of who I should be as a father, as a writer, as a husband.

But wait! There's been a slaughter here! That's right, kids, if the beliefs go, so do the expectations of my roles. Slaughter them all! I'm still all those things, but once I remove the expectations of each role, I'm left with ...

Hear that? It's an explosion of a supernova's worth of expectations in the vacuum of space. Don't hear it? Of course you don't. There is no sound in space!

But I digress.

Take away all the beliefs and all the expectations and all the defined roles (though still being those roles) and who am I?

If you took away all your beliefs about yourself and let go of what's expected of you because of each of your roles, who would you be? You'd still be a parent, spouse, worker and whatever else, but if you were sitting on a mountain by yourself with no responsibilities to anyone but yourself, who would you be?

Who Am I ... part I

Welcome to my self-discovery. First, a bit of history and then we'll see what happens next.

I have hated myself the greater part of my life. I have used the phrase self-loathing often. I am not enough. I have failed and disappointed everyone around me. I must be perfect or I’m worthless. Or so says my demon. Actually, it's a broken down, decrepit belief system as corrupt as former NY/NJ governor Edward Hyde (though no women's clothing is involved) that's been in use since before I was conscious of its existence.

In the years since, I have experienced therapies, lectures, seminars, The Omega Institute, books, cassettes, CDs, weekend retreats, The Open Center. I have experienced John Bradshaw, Wayne Dyer, Marianne Williamson, don Miguel Ruiz, Debbie Ford, Sheri Huber, Julia Cameron, Rick Jarow, Mia Farrow, Thich Nhat Hanh,Tara Brach, Pema Chodron and other spiritual gurus. And in the now of those experiences I am whole and clearly see my higher self, my calling and my perfect-ness as a spiritual being having a human experience. The demon is silenced.

But after the experience ends – the CD is over, the book is finished, the lecture is done – something happens (a moment of imperfection (being human)) and I fall back into the familiar embrace of the demon. The judgment and criticism come roaring back louder and more intense: “You’re a worthless piece of shit.” “You’re a failure.” “You’re a useless piece of garbage.” “Nobody cares about you.” “Why don’t you do everyone a favor and die.” “Can’t you do anything right?”

See, it's like this: Where most people write off mistakes, stumbles and gaffes as being human, that’s not acceptable to me. I must be perfect or people will see what a failure I am. This is shame: I don’t make mistakes, I am a fundamentally flawed mistake.

Some days/weeks are better than others and some are particularly brutal, with the demon screaming self-loathing epithets at me. All of this comes from thoughts borne out of a belief system that says life is difficult, that says I’m not enough to succeed, that says I should accept mediocrity, that says if enough people say I can't do a thing, then I can't do that thing, that bows down and worships the phrase "I Can't."

But for all the self-condemnation, I’ve kept going. I have a list of accomplishments that include two traditionally published novels, a cassette of originals, a lot of gigs, a cycled century and a couple of metric centuries and many other things. You’d think I would’ve gotten over myself and my hate. But no matter what, it’s not enough. People have published more novels, have ridden more centuries and are better musicians. Yes, I know that in this world there will always be people who’ve done more and many who’ve done less. I know that I shouldn’t stop writing or playing because there are people better than me. Yet because I believe I am not enough, I’m constantly thinking to give up. But I have not. I kept going and I’m still going, even with the self-condemnation I experience almost daily.

But wait ... in the darkness of my self there's a pinprick of light, the tiniest of flames and I focus on it and look to it as a means of letting go and "getting over it." But will I or will I allow the same demons to crawl out of the black and pull me under once again?