Our democracy is like the steel of a sword. The more you temper it, the stronger it becomes…

from the desk of johnny renaissance

This is a beautiful message from Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Personal. Heartfelt. A powerful example of how eloquent and personal story-telling can produce a truly moving message.


The first 3 rules for exercise. Do Something. Do Something you LIKE. Do it for your own reasons…


written by john c ashworth

I was originally going to put this post up with just the first two reasons.

“Do Something.”

“Do Something you LIKE.”

That was until my wife showed me this video this afternoon. She thought it would be great for the ash flash and I agree. It’s brilliant. It brought me to tears and I believe this is just the kind of inspiration that puts many things, including your pursuit of regular exercise in the right perspective.

“Do it for a reason.”

…and find your own reasons that matter most to YOU.

There are lots of reasons to exercise, especially for health reasons, but ultimately, you gotta find the ones that will continue to drive you day in and day out!


Don’t only practice your art. But force your way into its secrets. For it, and knowledge can raise men to the divine. -Beethoven

impatients 1 2020

photograph by john c ashworth

Don’t only practice your art. But force your way into its secrets. For it, and knowledge can raise men to the divine. -Beethoven

My father passed away three weeks ago. The shock of it is over. The work of finding my way back to my art has been elusive. Sometimes, though, it’s just a matter of opening an old notebook and combining some old treasure with a recent photograph like this one. In other words, you just have to keep going. Keep trusting. Keep creating. No matter how dodgy the process might feel.


13 Life governing principles to help keep you on track

13 Life governing principles to help keep you on track

curated by john c ashworth

I came across a story recently about General Colin Powell and discovered he used to put his 13 most significant, governing principles on a bookmark that he would include with his book giveaway. They’re very good so I thought I would share them with you today.

General Colin Powell’s 13 most significant governing principles:

  1. It ain’t as bad as you think. It will look better in the morning.
  2. Get mad, then get over it. (I really like this one. –John)
  3. Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position fails, your ego goes with it.
  4. It CAN be done!
  5. Be careful what you choose. You may get it.
  6. Don’t let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision.
  7. You can’t make someone else’s choices. And you shouldn’t let someone else make yours.
  8. Check small things.
  9. Share credit.
  10. Remain calm. Be kind.
  11. Have a vision. Be demanding.
  12. Don’t take counsel of your fears or naysayers.
  13. Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.

It’s a pretty good list, right?

I encourage you to make your own.

I go started on mine after reading this one. I’ll share it when I’m finished.

In the mean time, I will share the three words I chose to guide me over the last year and a half and I’m still focused on these.




For many years now, I’ve chosen three words to guide me each year. I have goals too, but choosing these three words simplifies my focus on a daily basis. Any time I feel myself slipping, I repeat these three words to myself and then focus on how my writing can get me back on track.


PS Here are a few notes on my simple 3-word system mentioned above.

The 3-word System by john c ashworth

The main idea is to choose three words that are designed to guide you all year.  Three words that encompass the brunt of your focus on being a better human being.  Three words that simplify your life in an important way within the context of your own life, which is not that simple all the time.

One of the biggest reasons I like this process is the fact that it both frees and focuses your thinking at the same time.  If you try this, you’ll fine that it’s actually quite hard to come up with only three words that you are going to stick with for an entire year.  It forces you to really do some thinking about what is truly realistic and important to you right now.

Also important to remember is that each word will likely have many guiding principles for you. For example, my third word, ‘writing’ keeps me focused not just on my work here on the ash flash, but also the free-writing I do to help maintain clarity in my personal life and career, the book I’m working on, and the fictional story about an unruly band of characters that has been in the making for quite some time and that my wife Laura has encouraged me to pursue with more urgency. Not to mention the writing I do for the printed version of the ash flash and the personal letters I send to friends, colleagues and others in my network.