The 3 F words

Now I know what some people will think when they hear the “F word”… but thats not what I want to talk about. I am talking about “Food, Faith and Forgiveness”

This last weekend I had the great honor of accompanying a friend to a Thai Buddhist Temple where on Sundays they host a Market. The Wat Mongkolratanaram Buddhist Temple is located in Tampa, about an hour away from me, this was my first trip to a Thai Buddhist temple.

The Sunday market is an amazing experience filled with tastes and smells that can only be described as mind blowing. From khao tom mat (a delicious sticky rice and wanna dessert wrapped in a banana leaf) to the aroma of the curries and pad Thai station. The flavors were enough to transport my taste buds the nine thousand odd miles to Thailand. Every. Single. Thing. I ate was incredible. I was happy dancing my way through all the food. Sadly some things I ate before I could take a photo…oops.

Between the multiple trips to buy food, we visited the temple, that brings me to the second “F word”… Faith.

The feeling of being in such a sacred location is truly humbling, I am very open minded with faith, I will never judge someone based on what they believe and who or what they worship. There are 4200 religions across the globe… THAT IS CRAZY. But true faith is so powerful, it helps people deal with their lives, gives them hope and leads them to bettering themselves. How is that a bad thing?… now of course there are extremists, but that is not what I am here to talk about. In my eyes everyone deserves respect and everyone, no matter your background can learn so much from one anothers faiths and beliefs.

Love and kindness is pretty universal. Sadly we missed hearing the monks chanting (thats on the list for the next trip), but I witnessed multiple people entering the temple to pray. There was a grandmother who was teaching her grandson (who was maybe 3 years old) how to pray. He was absorbing every word she was saying and copying her every move, it was clear he idolized her.

During our time in the temple there was a guest speaker who was giving a general overview of the Thai Buddhist religion, he was very focused on Forgiveness, and how practicing forgiveness is better for your mental health, it prevents you from holding onto negative energy and any ill will you could feel towards someone else.

Which if you really think about it, we all do this, when someone upsets us or wrongs us… we hold onto it, we don’t forgive and forget we focus on it and that can really bring us down. It was something I had never thought about. How many times did I find myself in a bad mood because of someone else actions and behavior? how often did I let this have a knock on effect this have for the rest of my day?

Forgivness shouldn’t only be something we do for others… but it should be something we practice on ourselves, we should forgive ourselves for our past…forgive ourselves for the negative things that have happened and move on. We are not the same person we were back then, every moment teaches us something… any mistakes we make should be forgiven.

Let go of the negative and treat yourself with the Love, kindness and respect… find joy in every day and spread that to everyone you interact with.

Control what you can control.

Somedays really suck…like the days when you freezer water line has been leaking under your hardwood floor.

Two days ago I woke up to a squelching kitchen floor… and immediately my mind went into over drive… and it’s been that way since. I am exhausted, I am drained I am beaten down. Sometimes in life it seems that there is one giant turd after another being piled on top of us and you know what… it’s exhausting.

That is how I have felt recently… no matter how many little good things seem to happen then some poop comes flying. Today I woke up at 8am… and laid in bed covering my head in my pillows pretending the outside world doesn’t exist… all that mattered was in that bed with me. Everything outside of it was irrelevant.

I know this is no way to live, because it’s not living it’s just surviving and surviving isn’t what I want to do, I want to explore and be excited for what the day brings. But today… was not that day. I wasted too many hours just laying there wallowing away in self pity when I really do have great things going on in my life.

Why do we let one bad thing bring us down? Why does one giant (stinky) turd have to mess up how we feel? For some of us it is a struggle to get moving some days…. most days you just want to sit in a blanket fort and never leave. But there are great things out side of the fort… that’s what I am trying to focus on.

A wise soul reminds me daily to control what you can control. I can’t change the past, I can’t change what happened but I can control how I handle what happens next. I can try and choose how I handle my emotions and I can try and force myself out from my fort. You have to take each day one day at a time. But the good things in life should always see you trough. The clique find the light in the dark and walk towards it.

Today that light is minimal… but come hell or high water I am crawling my way towards it.

What makes you the most happy?

Hows that for a title… now I can’t claim I thought of that one on my own, the inspiration for this post comes from my favorite book of 2018 “Not afraid of the fall” by Kyle James. 

If you are looking for a book to feed the wanderlust, I highly recommend it. Ash and Kyle take a life changing trip together through 38 cities in 15 countries. READ IT.

Anyway, Kyle mentions that wouldn’t asking “What makes you the most happy?” it be a better ice breaker instead of “What do you do?”. It really made me think… what in life makes me the most happy? its most definitely a thought provoking question and if you really want to catch someone off guard I highly recommend asking it.

When I think about what makes me the most happy of course the list includes my partner, family, friends and my adorable pup. Diving deeper into it I realized that food takes a major part in what makes me happy… not just any food but exciting, tasty, adventurous food. Food from different cultures all over the world…the kind of flavors that hit our tongue and you can’t help but let out a small “mmmm”. There is so much passion in that moment, that first bite of something new, its truly electric.

Another thing that makes me happy would be taking photos, of everything…everywhere. I have over 30 thousand photos on my phone at the current moment. most of which are not of anything special but when I look at them to thin them out… I remember the exact moment I took the image and can’t bring myself to delete it. Photos really capture a moment that will never happen again, that exact millisecond of time where every element is perfect (or not even perfect). Every photo tells a story, I know its cliche to say every photo is worth a thousand words but sometimes there is that photo that leaves you speechless with out a word to describe it…both are mind blowing in their own ways. If the photo makes you smile or brings you to tears, there is so much emotion you can convey with a single photo.

In an ideal world I would travel the world with my parter and pup taking photos and eating EVERY kind of food that is out there. Visiting every corner of the globe and seeing the world through my own eyes…Thats the dream right there.

Wouldn’t the world be a wonderful place if we all could do what made us happy… So thats my question for the day “What makes you the most happy?”

I always get to where I’m going by walking away from where I’ve been

After watching Christopher Robin on Tuesday I have done nothing but think about the movie.

There are so many different and wonderful ways that Pooh describes life… my favorite being the title of this post.

When you think about your life, how often do you feel that you are living the same day over and over again, no matter how much you are trying to change something. Sometimes you really have to examine the monotonous routines we generate for ourselves… wake up every morning, with barley enough time to get ready, run out the door, drive to work, run in, clock in. Check emails, work the sales floor, coffee (because at this point it’s the only way to get through the day), clock out, drive home, dinner, tv, bed… to get up and do the same thing the next day.

Isn’t that the reason I started this blog? I wanted to feel alive… explore different things. Thankfully I have. I started a 30 day yoga challenge… I did really well for a few days then fell off the bandwagon… but from those few days I learnt a lot… I have little balance, lack of control over my thoughts and a generally terrible level of fitness. But I learnt some wonderful things… patience, just living in the breathe, sitting quietly and exploring every sensation.

Also since starting this blog I have gone and explored outside of the “normal” area of my existence (Work and Home). Exploring saint Augustine, watching the sunrise from the beach. Yesterday was a somewhat relaxing day driving out to the gulf coast with my significant other and spending the day just being us…. there’s so much good in those moments… when you manage to get away together, leaving technology behind, you get to just be yourselves and laugh and joke.

We were lucky enough to spend 5 hours at the beach with my adorable dog… and for the last 2 hours we were basically alone. I sat quietly on the wet sand letting the waves wash over my legs… and I just let the tide drag away all my frustrations, all my worries and sadness…. for that moment nothing else existed. I have always had major self esteem issues and refused to swim with out a shirt on… yesterday I changed that, I took my shirt off and jumped in to the warm waters… and it felt AMAZING. The waves washed away my insecurities and I was able to just enjoy.

We had a romantic dinner watching the sunset at a local restaurant before driving the two hours back home…. back to the routine and back to the worries and concerns of life. But even now I am trying to focus on the sound of the waves breaking gently on the sand, when I feel my heart starting to race or like I want to think negatively about myself… and I count 5,4,3,2,1 then focus on something positive and I remember that i am not perfect but the way to move forward is to move away from where you have been, move away from the negative thoughts and move towards the happiness you can find within yourself.

Adventure awaits?

I have spent years day dreaming about the different adventures that are out in the world. The cultures, the religions, the architecture and life styles that every country has to offer… How much this could open someones mind and change their life.

I dream of walking dirt roads, climbing mountains, sleeping under the stars, trying flavors that dance on your tongue and explode your tastebuds. Seeing the aurora borealis and riding a boat through the floating markets in Thailand.

“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time spend working in the office or mowing the lawn. Climb that goddam mountain”-Jack Kerouac.

This April i turned 30. I am not sad about this but i have found myself reflecting on that last 10 years of my life. Have I really used those years the best way? They say that your “20’s” are your years to be care-free and travel the world, try new things and make mistakes… but i am starting to wonder whether that is true any more.

Living in the USA has taught me that there are many people who don’t travel… mostly because of financial reasons. You finish high school, you go to off to university to earn a degree in a subject that you pick at 18 years old… that will lead you into a career that you (At that age) think will be the dream job. A few years later you step out of university with an absurd amount of debt,(The average USA student loan debt is around $40,000). So now you are 24-25 years old with $40,000 dollars in debt and you are expecting to get a job in the field you have just spent the last 7 years studying for. Well you have to pay the debt back somehow, so you take a job doing what ever you can so you can start paying back the loans… which could take at least 10 years depending on living expenses (Rent, Car loans, Credit Cards-LIFE). So now you are 35 years old….with no student debt woohoo! But you met your person, and now you want to finally buy that house that you have been trying to save for, you sign on for a 30 year mortgage, putting you at 65 years old by the time your house is paid for… Where did your 20’s, 30’s,40’s, 50’s and even your 60’s go…

I know i am being dramatic, of course there are people who take gap years and travel, or make enough money to vacation when ever they want…but is this really the adventure we all dreamt of when we were kids?

Growing up in the UK until i was 18, it was common for my friends to plan to travel, go to Rome, Paris, back packing through asia, I mean it makes sense… once you get into Europe you an get pretty much anywhere. I don’t blame my lack of passport stamps on moving to the US, not at all.  life just happens…

There are 195 countries in the world, and each one of those breaks down into bustling cities of hundreds of thousands of people to tiny villages of barely 100 residents. Every where you will find people who are experiencing the same feelings of wanderlust, the urge to be anywhere but where you “are”. Some people say that its just the urge to run away… i disagree… Wanderlust is the urge to explore, run free and roam! experience new things and jump head first into the world around you. There is so much more to life than waiting for the next milestone, your 40th birthday, 50th birthday, 60th birthday and so on. What if the next milestone you were heading towards was a physical milestone, a physical sign telling you “Welcome to India”. But alas for now, this is all a dream. Something i keep in my back pocket, that i can mentally unfold and look at and say “One day”

With each sunrise, a new chapter awaits…

In a spur of a moment decision last night I decided to cross an item off of my bucket list. I have witnessed MANY Florida sunsets and they are beautiful and mind blowing but something that always hits me about a sunset is the darkness afterwards, after witnessing the day closing to something so beautiful it leaves me wanting to make the night the best evening ever, but after sunset you are on limited time.

Today i discovered, sitting on the beach, watching the sky change from a deep navy blue to cotton candy pink before erupting into yellows and oranges as the sun breaks the horizon, it filled my spiritual fuel tank to the brim and I was ready to start the day running head first in any challenge, it made everything after feel so small and easy to handle.

Watching the day break over the ocean, complete with the soothing sounds of the waves gently crashing on the sand…. well it lifted me up after what has been a few frustrating days filled with a lot of  self doubt.

I tried to go and explore some ruins shortly after the sun had fully risen, come to find that the park was closed today, but the drive to the entrance, through the deep florida wilderness on a sand/gravel road that weaved in and out of the trees, the canopy broke every few 100 yards letting in the suns gorgeous rays… it was beyond breathtaking, I pulled over to take a photo to try and capture the beauty.

After this attempt i ended up strolling around Saint Augustine for the afternoon, exploring one of my favorite towns in this state. The town is oozing history, every building on every street has a story, and that, to me is exciting. For the first time i was able to visit the St Photios Shrine Greek Orthodox National Shrine and the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine. Two heavily spiritual locations in the town, both of them were beautiful, the stained glass windows in the Cathedral managed to capture the sunlight and make the colors dance across the inside of the building. The smaller St Photios Shrine was a hidden gem with Rhythmic chanting and the fragrant incense that could transport you to back in time. Its funny how our senses are able to transport us back in time with sights and smells.

St Photios Shrine Greek Orthodox National Shrine:

Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine:

Both of these locations were free admission but accepted charitable contributions if you were so inclined… I was, in both places i stopped and silently prayed while lighting a candle. I am not someone who prays but i am open and willing to learn about every religion, with the peace i found this morning with the sun rise, praying just felt right.

I think there was something enlightening about today that relaxed me to my core. I can’t promise that will remain tomorrow when I am back to work. But I will be positive going into the week. There were some new stores that I visited that focused on spirituality not specific to religions… that’s what works for me. There is so much to see and learn out there but hey every day the sun will rise starting a new chapter…. and at the end of the day when the sun sets, that day is closed and we cannot change what happened. It’s all about moving forward.