Fall Forward

It’s the first day of fall. It’s my favorite season, and I’m back in Los Angeles. From the months abroad, if I had to pick one word to define how I’ve returned, I’d choose “liberated.” Liberated from material things, liberated from the desire to have anything new, liberated from the suffocation of self-inflicting anxiety, liberated from wanting to be somewhere I’m not, in terms of a job/career or any general “to do” from life.

I can’t count the physical miles I’ve traveled, nor can I guess the hours of podcasts I’ve listened to, conversations I’ve had, people I’ve met, and pages of books I’ve read. But, what I can count on is the positive change I immensely feel. While it too cannot be quantified, it’s of incomparable quality, and I’m continuing with the conviction to make sure that it multiplies. My hope is that everyone gets to experience what this kind of growth feels like, whether they accomplish it through travel or writing, singing, dancing, painting, or whatever else brings them the joy, flow and time for self-recognition and reflection. It’s a never-ending process and with each day, there is new opportunity for self-discovery. Any obstacle can be an opportunity. I’m aware of my thoughts and stop the negative train in motion when I notice it blowing through my mind at full speed. I come back to the breath and realize it’s all we have. What we do here and now will affect what comes next, but as long as we listen and stay true to the moment, we can handle what’s to come.

As the seasons change, the trees will inevitably shed their green shells from the summer’s sun. Like nature, we as humans go through cycles. Unlike nature, we have distractions that can keep us from embracing the change and processes we are supposed to take for our cycles of growth and rebirth. Let the trees and flowers around you be a reminder to care for yourself and take the time to shed the dead leaves that can no longer serve you. And then, grow again.

 

Advertisements

Love Does.

“I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered to me, but now I’m more afraid of succeeding at things that don’t matter.” – Bob Goff

If you haven’t heard of the book “Love Does,” here you go. Yesterday, I was sitting in a friend’s loft hanging out under her stairs, and I noticed a pile of three books. All looked intriguing, but this one stood as I was drawn to the title. When it comes to books, if I’m not captivated within the first few pages, I likely won’t finish it, so I don’t begin (tough critic, I know – especially for someone with ambitions to write a novel one day).

But, my intuition was right. I read the first line of this book and was immediately hooked. I actually could not put it down and finished it in 1.5 sittings (given I had to sleep). It’s one of those books that you cannot wait to read, but you also never want it to end. Each chapter represents a story from Bob Goff’s life, from the seemingly mundane to the extraordinary, like becoming the counsel for Uganda even though he thought the whole ordeal was his friend playing a practical joke on him. Each story has a message and lesson that resonate universally. Throughout the pages that I couldn’t turn fast enough, I laughed out loud and teared up, ending on the last page with wet eyes. Like people, I think books come into our lives for reasons and if we are lucky, at just the right time.

Despite some of the religious undertones throughout the book, the gist will mean something different to everyone, regardless of your belief system. For me, at this stage of life, it really illuminated the fact that when you do what you love and shed light unto the world, the possibilities and opportunities continue to open and multiply. Here’s the thing, this past week of doing seemingly “nothing” in Costa Rica have probably been the most life-changing and eye-opening as the time has been introspective. And, it’s been introspective with a purpose – the purpose to find what really calls to my heart and soul so that I can create actions that bring this love to my life and others. Small things become the big things when you have the time and energy to notice them.

I could go on and on about all the moments that have become strung together, like a fragments of glass creating a new lens to see, feel and understand the world.

Suffice it to say that the quote above really hit me hard. Growing up, with both school and jobs, I’ve been the hardest on myself. For example, in both high school and university, if I were to get an A-, I wanted to add an extra line to turn that into an A+. When it came to work, I never knew how to leave it at the desk when I went home (or shut down when I worked from home, because I never did shut down). That’s something that seems oddly unique to America. We talk about “work/life” balance, when it shouldn’t be balanced. There’s the cliche “if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life” But, sometimes we work jobs that actually don’t matter to us personally because we use them as a means to make ends meet [or to buy things we don’t need], yet they consume us. If you’re lucky enough to love what you do because you do what you love, then that is and should be your life – there’s nothing to balance.

It’s all a case by case basis, definitely not a one size fits all mentality that every person with a job should feel forced to subscribe to. That’s why I’ve decided that whatever I do next will be something I love and care about deeply, so that no matter if I’m “taking it home,” it’s because I want to, not because I feel like I have to be available around the clock to build someone else’s dream.

Read this slowly:

The small things (that we should notice and that do really matter) can become the big things (that do really matter) or  the small things (that don’t matter) can become the big things (that don’t matter) – just depends on what we give focus to and our perspective.

Measures of success growing up were written in stone by outside factors, but as you grow up and away from the constraints and definitions that institutions create, you realize how much they really do not matter. You begin defining what matters for yourself and if you follow that path that brings you joy and, in turn, lights the way for others to learn, grow and prosper, then, success is everywhere. Failure is something most people fear, but like failure, fear is not real.

When I return home, I’m going to have a day job that aligns with causes I care about and that way, there will be no way to succeed at things that don’t matter because everything I do will be set with an intention that really does matter. And, it’s not just about my job – it’ll be everything from the mundane to the extraordinary, because that’s what allows us to live fully, and that’s what love does.

Tiempo Libre y Pura

A coconut falls from a tree. Does anyone hear it? Does it matter?

Like life here in Costa Rica, things happen when they want to and no one cares too much about any one single element of life. Rain or shine, lightening storm or calm skies, surfers fill the ocean tides, people casually stroll the streets, and the town comes alive at night to the sounds of musicians singing and playing the guitar as couples salsa without a worry.

Amidst lush treetops, I sit on the rooftop as the sun beats down and inevitably paints my shoulders bright red. The gentle sound of the ocean waves crashing surrounds me as the tide’s song is disrupted by the sound of construction up ahead. It all comes back to focus. What do you choose to focus your time and energy on?

Yesterday, we bought a plank of wood, a half kilo of nails, and headed to an empty building where friends are starting a school. I grabbed a ruler and hammer and began assembling geoboards for the kids to use to learn fine motor skills and geometry. We spent the day inside, helping to build the school. So many days in my life have been spent working for someone else, valuing my time with a dollar amount that is tied to the hour I put in work, with results measured by superfluous markers of success. Spending time knowing that what I was producing would contribute to the well-being and education of children shows how when you choose to spend time doing things that matter to you and others, it becomes invaluable. When we left at 4PM, we were all shocked at how quickly time had passed.

It’s a much simpler life around these parts. It seems like people prioritize making time for the things they enjoy doing. This makes time move slower. It opens your eyes to realize how many different ways there are to live, and that everything you value and want is simply a choice. Each day grants the opportunity to design the life you want, spending the minutes of each hour filled with purpose, whatever that might mean to you in that very moment.

Before You Go

And when you reach the top of the mountain

What do you think you might find? 

You pushed and pushed and pushed 

The uphill battle weathered the soles of your feet 

Cut the insides of your veins

And stripped tears from your eyes 

But you did not stop 

There were visions and dreams and infinite thoughts lingering in the distance 

Capturing them was key 

Nothing else mattered but fancy accomplishments 

and sultry accolades 

And now you ask, was it all worth it? 

Had you ever have stopped in your path to question its purpose? 

Did you ever look inside and listen to your own mind’s eye without the disillusioned sounds crowding your voice? 

But yet, you made it 

And in the end, you realized there is no end 

So you will go and take each step back down

continuing along the cascading mountain range 

But before you go 

Stop and breathe

Take in the sights 

Admire the beauty 

of falling to rise 

And go on slowly 

with every next step

As to be sure you want 

to take it 

before you make a move 

HUMPDAY motivation

And so what if we pushed our dreams into reality
And let them fly freely and let them just be
Ambitions and hopes abound
As we sit idly by, thinking that time will wait around
It’s a sad fact, but true
there’s no one that will push you… but you
And when you think you’ve had just enough
You take a step back and realize you haven’t even begun
So stop letting the hands of the clock
Tie yours down
Take a step with you feet
Rise up-
Don’t remain on the ground

Things to Realize, Sooner than Later

  1.  It doesn’t matter your title or the company you work for, what matters is the work you do, day in and day out. Love it. If you don’t, leave it and find what you want to do. Then, do it. (*obviously, you have to have finances in order for this to work)
  2. There’s no such thing as “free time.” All time is the same. We get 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, and so on. Only you can choose what you do with it.
  3. Possessions don’t make you happy. Relationships and experience are what really matter in life. You can buy things and realize that after a few hours or days, the momentary excitement is gone. You can go on a trip and realize that years later, the memory will still make you smile.
  4. Living too much in the future makes today more stressful than it has to be. Find a balance between short/long-term goals and your current situation. Do what you can today to reach those goals, but don’t live in the stress of what’s unknown.
  5. Back to number 4, you can’t really plan things out. Life is variable moment by moment. Be open to it.
  6. You need to love and accept yourself in order to love another fully, unapologetically, and healthily. If you don’t, all the flaws and holes you have will be projected onto them. You can’t expect someone to fill you up and do that work for you.
  7. Expectations breed a lot of disappointment and unnecessary arguments. Have standards, yes. But, expectations, no. No one deserves anything, except to be treated respectfully.
  8. Communicate. Over-communicate if you have to. People don’t read minds, and you shouldn’t expect them to. If there’s something you want, speak up. If there’s something that bothers you, talk it out before it turns into anger.
  9. Holding on to anger only hurts yourself. The other person is going to live their life whether you’re filled with fire or not. Go on and do the same. Let go.
  10. Competition is important, but you should be most competitive with yourself. Be better than you were yesterday. Build other people up while you make yourself better. Don’t tear someone else down to protect your ego- that’s just going to hurt yourself and keep you from leveling up.