If It Just Feels Right, It Is

The mind will talk endlessly, if you let it. Self-talk and thoughts come naturally, it’s effortless. The work is in quieting the mind to hear what you really need to. In a world full of distractions and easily accessible diversions, it takes a concerted effort to be alone in silence.

But, once you make it and spend time in the world where you let thoughts float on by, without judgment, you start to recognize patterns. You can categorize all the strings of words in your mind as “planning, judging, wanting, etc.” and you can watch them as they pass through, like a train carrying cargo. There’s a myth that one can fail at meditation if thoughts arise, but, that’s far from true because thoughts naturally occur. It’s the ability to notice them, let them pass, and make the effort to come back to the breath that makes all the difference.

With practice, you’ll start to feel more at ease during the day, when thoughts are at their peaks and difficult situations arise. And, after some time, your own personal north star will shine brighter, and you’ll have the confidence to follow its light, regardless of outside voices, and even the voice in your own head that can, at times, be discouraging. Because, at this point, the voice of your heart is taking over that of your mind, and it will just feel right, and that means, it is.

You’ll be aligned and able to be courageous in the steps you take to move forward. Once you start stepping on that path, things will fall into place, and it will seem like it’s been there all along waiting for you, but in actuality, the work was forged when you listened and took the chance on yourself for it all to come together. Wherever you’re at, keep going.

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Take Time 

Take time to make your bed
Pull the sheets
Straighten up
Grind the coffee
Stir it gently

Take time to smile at a stranger
Count your change
Make a change

Take a moment of something that feels seemingly small
And let it be
g
r
a
n
d
Just let it be

Smile at another stranger

Listen after you ask someone how they are
And tell them you really want to know
the ins, the outs, the good, the bad, the ugly
Nothing but the
Truth

Take time, let the seconds tick
Turning into minutes
Because they pass like hours and days and years

Take time to love fully, to feel it all
To grow, to play, to laugh, to embrace
To thank those who help you
To hold out your hand and pull someone up
today and tomorrow and the next day

Time will never wait
But it’s yours to take

Finding the Light 

I want to pour the milk in your coffee

And watch it dance in circles 

Round and round it goes

Turning darkness into light 

Drink up the love 

And soak up the sun

Are you still by my side? 

Or have I left you behind? 

We traversed the corners of the nation 

But took a backseat at home 

Like wax dropping down a candle

The moth never survives the flame 

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.

Finally (Un)Settled

After taking trains, planes, buses, subways, cars and boats every couple of days and moving around between cities and countries, I’ve finally been somewhat settled in the London area for over a week (….it’s still hard to keep track of days). But, here I am, halfway across the world, calling this apartment my “home” because it’s where I can cook my food, simply hang out and rest my head at night.

That’s the funny thing about life – you’re born in a location you don’t choose, and for many, it’s home forever. I think our generation is really shifting this fact. From workplaces to living situations, offices and bedrooms are becoming global, and the world is both our play and work ground.

People always say “do what makes you happy” and then society places this box around what’s accepted and expected. If you were to truly design your life, start with just one day. How would you wake up and spend your time? What routines would you like to implement? What would you avoid wasting your time on?

Every day, here, while traveling, I’m trying to wake up and do the things that I actually want to do. For example, yesterday, I went for a 3 mile run near the Thames and then went to a coffee shop nearby to read. This morning, I’m listening to music and writing, then I’ll spend the day with my friend, because that’s exactly what I want to be doing.*  I’m very aware that there’s privilege in this set-up because I don’t have to be at work at a certain time or take care of kids, etc., but if there’s something that you want, there’s ways to make time work on your side, regardless of responsibilities. With a surrounding fortunate set of circumstances, I’ve worked to make this my reality.

Some people have asked when I’m coming home. I don’t have the answer. For as long as this is what I want to be doing, I’ll do it and make it work, however I have to. I once made the mistake of flying home from Australia instead of continuing on with a friend to New Zealand because I felt like I had to (or should) go home and jump back into a job. I’m not going to prematurely end what I want to be doing because of external influences that make me think I should be doing something else. Now, after having a taste of actually doing what I want, when I want (this has become my definition of freedom), I am willing to do whatever it takes to continue.

Life is a series of choices. We are faced with big and small ones everyday. Choose whatever it is that sets your soul on fire and practice day in and day out.

“I am the master of my fate,

      I am the captain of my soul. ” – William Ernest Henley
* Side note: other skills I want to learn – if you have advice on the best ways to do it, please share – graphic design, another language, basic coding, an instrument

 

7 Days Later on an Island in Croatia – Lessons Learned

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And, when you’re in the midst of it all, it’s hard to fully collect your thoughts, feelings, and desires. You’re moving at a fast pace, with roughly 40 pounds of baggage strapped to your back, arms, and innately, your insides. You’re meeting people from all over the world, with hundreds of life stories that they are open to sharing because you’re in a foreign country with people who you may or may not ever see again. And, then, there’s the select few that you know you connect with so strongly that you will make the effort to meet at a another time, in another place.

Sometimes, you’re sitting lazily under a palm tree doing nothing and drifting off to the sound of local kids and a family having a picnic on the waterfront as the wind blows and the sun beats down on your legs. Other times, you’re watching the tourists completely flood the city, gulping down one too many drinks, leaving a trail of their trash as they head into the next pub. You ask the locals how they feel about this, and you know while it’s good for their economy, they’re sick of it, even if it only happens six months out of the 12.

You accept your ignorance of having not known the history of a region so rife with struggle and conflict, and truly understand the impact on personal lives when you become close friends with a girl who was displaced by war and separated from her family for two years. You hear the pain and growth from experiences you’ve been so privileged to have avoided merely by the fortune of being raised elsewhere.

It becomes clear that travel is sometimes glorified and beautified, and not always simple. But, you also realize that all you need to survive is food and water. You can change beds nightly and focus on the beauty of having the opportunity to meet more people because you’re in a constant state of flux. You see that there is a sense of stability in always being open to changing surroundings because you rely on so much less and can be ready for anything, at any time. Things really stop mattering so much. You can be alone and content. You can be surrounded and content.

At times, you’re disconnected technologically, so then, you’re totally connected in real time. As if real time even exists and has meaning. I’ve been consumed by people watching. By endlessly seeing that when people are in big groups and have nothing to say, they bring their phones into the conversation, avoiding eye contact and using their thumb to tap accolades to the edited photos on their screens. Or, they are taking snapchats of what’s live in front of them to broadcast to those back home, showing that they are here and you are there, not experiencing the same thing that they are experiencing behind a screen. I’ve been there. I’m happy I haven’t had the means to be for quite some time. It’s made days longer and connections stronger.

Mental pictures are my oldest and newest currency. They are the ones to cherish because they are becoming a part of my future.

I’ve pulled a splinter out of the toe of a stranger, a bee sting out of the hand of an older man, helped friends to their bed after wild nights that became mornings out, checked in on an acquaintance with low blood pressure, and jumped at any opportunity to help strangers when I have the means. I’ve had multiple nights in a row with no sleep and days of exploration, with days of simply passing the time and avoiding the heat.

I’ve talked about the meaning of life, God, love, desire, goals, fears and challenges with multiple people, mostly men, but also with some women, too. I’ve spent hours inside the busiest club on an island to talk philosophies with a friend. I’ve heard wild stories from wild nights of people who are finding themselves and learning what they seek romantically.

I’ve held onto the fact that many people derive the meaning of life from the relationships they make and the amount of people they can help.

Days roll by and time moves slower because you’re taking it all in. You’re connecting on very deep levels, having serious conversations over drinks and cheap eats while you realize the amount of talent and creativity people possess is broad, extensive and unique. You learn that people discover what they are good at over time, and sometimes later than expected in life, as well as having it come to them by chance. It gives you hope. It makes you realize that life doesn’t happen at ages, it happens in stages. And at various points in time because of the choices you make to take the chances and do the things that have always scared you most.

You see that, while yes, people do the same things to survive all over the world, cultures and norms are vastly different. Ways of talking, value systems, expectations, and actions take different forms. You understand that trusting your intuition is one of the smartest and most necessary tools you can bring to the table. You pick up on ways to know who means well and those that are just floating on by. You can spot the people still finding their way, and you can relate to having been there and then seeing those ahead of you, knowing you’ll get there, too.

You appreciate the inherent goodness in people and learn more about yourself through what people tell you they think of you. And, many times, it’s repetitive, which makes it the “truth”?

It’s not what you do, where you live and what you have. It’s who you are and what you do with the limited time you have here, there, and everywhere.

 

 

Late Night Rambles 

What the fuck am I so afraid of? Every person has a story, a history, a future and the power to act. Every day brings with it millions of opportunities for life to go one way or the other. It’s all about choices we make and the convuluted act of just going for it. 

We (maybe I should say I, but a collective make it easier to swallow) want to do something. Then, we spend so many days, months and years talking about it instead of acting. What is with human nature that makes us this way? We all know that life is finite, yet we procrastinate carelessly until it’s too late. Only then do some of us wake up and wish we could’ve done it all differently. 
Not me. Not anymore. 

I am going for it. I only have small inklings of what it is, but I will know when I’ve done it. I can feel that is the truth. I’m trusting intuition, finally. 

I am going to explore and do things I’ve never done and see what I come back with, or without. Mind games and tricks can put illusionary limits on capabilities. I am learning to quiet those unneeded thoughts. There’s a whole lot of brain power that I won’t allow to be left unused and potential lingering that needs to be ignited. 
T-3 days until takeoff.