To live a selfless life…

I have been thinking about this post since a tragedy happened yesterday at Orlando International Airport and my shift following in. I interacted with many families who were stranded or held up by the repercussions of that incident. Most of whom felt the need to complain about their own loss of time and the inconvenience it caused.

For those of you who don’t know, a TSA agent jumped from a balcony high above the atrium at MCO. A terrible loss of life in a horrendous way. So many people witnessed it… of every age and background. Including some of the agents coworkers. Obviously this is traumatizing for anyone who witnessed it and that’s not OK.

There was one family I spoke with that was impacted with a delayed flight going home. The husband and I spoke briefly but he mentioned how sad he felt for the family of that agent. One person.

Suicide is considered a selfish act by many people… but what those people forget is what could be going through that Individuals mind, what put them in the position they are in where they feel that they have no way out and no one to turn to.

Suicide is a mental illness… but it gets ignored… it’s the elephant in the room that people suffer with and they are afraid to talk about. Afraid of what others will think and afraid of the judgment that follows… when you admit “I have had suicidal thoughts” people automatically think you are being over dramatic of that you are looking for attention.

So here I am today admitting that through my teenage years the thought of suicide crossed my mind. Trying to figure out who I was as a young gay man, on top of the society norms of being a teenager…was terrifying, the fear of not knowing if I would be accepted or loved… what would society think, what would my grandparents think? Would I be disowned? At one point in my life I slightly ashamed to admit, but self harm was the route I took… I am lucky to have a wonderful accepting family, but when you are 13 years old… you don’t know what to think.

I am in no way justifying self harm or suicide… I am telling you that even the people who smile the most have their secrets in their closet. I am 30 years old and am trying to adult the best way I possibly can, I am proud of myself for pushing back the thoughts of “maybe the world is better off with me not in it” and making it to the point in my life I am at. I figured out that I had people who needed me, I had a life I wanted to lead and all the bullshit I was overthinking through my teenage years was not going to be the end of my story.

The world today is so self centered, some people only think about themselves and they don’t think about the things that could have pushed someone over the edge… 13 years in hospitality has taught me that most people are about the I, We, Me… living a selfish life in their bubble…

There is something about selfless acts, when you think of others, when you open your heart and care… that makes you a better human, it makes the world a better place…. and that could bring someone down from a ledge.

If you are someone struggling with the thought of suicide… talk to someone, a loved one or a support line. Please… the world needs you here.

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Live a great story

I recently stumbled upon a brand on Instagram called Live a Great story and the title alone hit me…. so much that i went straight to their website www.liveagreatstory.com, made a purchase and became a little bit more inspired..Their purpose is simple “Share a positive message, spread the flame of inspiration and inspire others #liveagreatstory”. 

How awesome of a message is that??!?!? Remind yourself that every day is another page in your story and that every single moment of your life helps you move onto the next. It really made me think about how often we rush through our days wishing for the weekend, wishing for vacation, wishing for the holidays… when we are really just wishing our life away. We will get to the point where we have been rushing towards the finish line and we will realize that the finish line… isn’t something we should have been running for. Those experiences that we brushed off because we were in such a hurry or those things we were too scared to try…We are all going to reach the same end, why do we feel the need to compete with each other about who can get their first. Life is not a competition, you don’t get a medal for winning.

The best thing you can do with your life is live a great story. Every person you meet is a character in the novel that is your life. Every mile stone is a new chapter and every hurdle you have to jump, whether you fall flat on your face or successfully maneuver it adds something to the person you are. Remember that everything changes constantly but all you can do is keep pushing through.

At the end of the day, when you are old and grey, what you will look back on is those stories, those memories and the people you met. The food you have eaten and the ones you loved. Don’t you want to have some great stories to share? Don’t you want to look back and smile, cry tears of happiness and be able to relive those moments. Maybe everyday won’t be great but if you can find something great in every week, it will make you feel so much happier.

My purchase from their website was for their sticker pack… not because I am going to go around stickering this message across the world. But I want to be able to remind myself every day to live a great story. I plan on sharing the stickers with those who ask about them, or ask what it means.

If I am 100% honest, I feel like Exploring life always and living a great story really go hand in hand. If you can explore everything in life, your story will be truly inspired.

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.

Home.

That four letter word has so many meanings tied to it. Is it a physical house? A town? A country? Or just that feeling of knowing you are where you are supposed to be… knowing that you are loved and supported for being you.

People often wish to go back home… but what does that really mean? Can you ever really go back? Or are you trying to go back to that feeling of “home”, the memories of “home”.

For me personally home is where I feel loved, safe and valued. My family is spread across the world but home is the word I use to describe where I live but also where my parents live…. I have never actually spent a night in the house with them but because that is where they live that is my home.

I know for some, Home is just a memory… something they can’t touch anymore but those memories still count, that smell of fresh baked bread, your mums perfume or that smell of engine dirt that your dad’s jacket smelt like, no matter how often it was washed. I have had many houses that we lived in that I considered home, but really home shouldn’t be attached to a physical building, it should be something you can carry with you, because what ever your age is, what ever you have been through… you still need that feeling of coming home.

If you can close your eyes and imagine a family dinner, cooking in the kitchen with loved ones or just movie nights with friends on the sofa… that feeling is home.

Home is where you matter, where your voice matters and where you are welcome with a hug. Home doesn’t have to be something tied to blood relatives, home is what you make it. Never forget that.

“You’re too focused on where you’ve been to pay attention on where you’re going”

Personally I struggle during the holidays, missing my family and the way things were when i was a kid, spending time together gorging on all the christmas food… spending time with my parents watching the Christmas TV specials and films. My life has changed a lot since we moved to the US 13 years ago. Back in England pretty much everything closes early Christmas Eve and is closed Christmas day. But now i work in the tourist capital of the USA…well the east coast (Orlando, FL). My work location is open 365 days out of the year… its hard to feel the Christmas spirit when everyone else in the world seems to have travelled your city with their family… and they want to complain how busy it is. Something else that makes me sadder this time of year is being so far away from my parents (who left back to England 2 years ago). I am lucky to have wonderful friends who I do consider an extension of my family who i was able to spend time with. That really helped take my mind off the 4000 miles between my parents and I.

My minimal christmas spirit was not from a lack of trying, i attended two Mickeys Very Merry Christmas Parties at The Magic Kingdom… loading up on about 50 cookies and countless hot chocolates, I was gifted 2 tickets to go and see White Christmas at the Dr Phillips Center for the Performing Arts the weekend before Christmas, which by the way was a wonderful show. I baked christmas cookies, decorated a christmas tree, blasted Christmas music and watched every single cheesy Netflix christmas movie i could. But still my spirit level was fluctuating up and down… then before i knew it, it was December 26th and Christmas was gone. Now we focus on New Years Eve… which is where i come to the title of this post, after watching “Mary Popping returns” this quote really stood out:

“You’re too focused on where you’ve been to pay attention on where you’re going”

-Mary Poppins

A statement that is too true for most of us. It is the end of the year… 2018 is coming to a close, and there have been some wonderful moments… and some tough times. The end of a year is supposed to be a celebration, Christmas leading through to New years eve, the count down for a brand new chapter. But how often do we spend this time of year looking back at the things we wish we could have changed from the last year. When really we should be looking forward to what the new year can bring! New adventures, new friends, new experiences and new places to explore.

I am so lucky for the family i have spread out across the world. Their constant support and love is more than i could ever wish for. For 2019 i choose not to focus on where i have come from and focus on moving forward, counting the blessings i do have and make sure to continue to grow.

My goal for 2019 is to do something epic every month, give myself something positive to focus on and keep pushing through. Sad emotions control too much of our lives, we let them bring us down and sometimes bring down the others around us. Remember in 2019, no matter who you are, where you are or what you are going through someone loves you.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

I love you…No Matter what

Recently I stumbled upon a song “No Matter what” By Calum Scott, I recognized his name from somewhere and after a google search I found that he was a contestant on “Britain’s got Talent” a few years ago, his audition went vial with his rendition of “Dancing on my own”.

To break down the song, its about a young boy who struggles with his sexuality growing up and being accepted by his family and friends. I highly recommend listening to it! On so many levels the song is relatable to me, except that I was lucky enough to have both of my parents accept me and tell me that they love me no matter what.

Now I have started, deleted and edited this post so many times, I kept hitting a mental block. The main verse is really what I focus on in the song and where I found the title of this post.

“I love you no matter what
I just want you to be happy and always be who you are”
She wrapped her arms around me
Said, “Don’t try to be what you’re not
‘Cause I love you no matter what”
She loves me no matter what

There are some people that no matter what happens we love them and most of the time it is beautiful and supportive… but how many of us look in the mirror every day and say “I love you, no matter what”? I know that I never do this… But how much of our time do we spend doubting ourselves and invalidating our feelings/thoughts and emotions? when we really should be kinder to ourselves and supportive of ourselves.

Too many times in life we are the ones holding ourselves back, thinking that we are not good enough, when we spend so much energy telling others that they are worth it, that they need to follow their dream, that they can do anything… but when it comes to applying that same message to yourself… you shut it down. Why do we do that?

I am sure most of it comes down to self esteem and comparing our lives to others therefore highlighting our own insecurities. I recently started a course that talked about how self esteem and self confidence are related to holding yourself back and the need for constant approval is part of having low self esteem. If you look at the people who are just oozing confidence everywhere, they don’t ask for validation, they don’t ask for reassurance and they don’t doubt themselves.

There have been so many projects I have started in my life that I have stopped because “someone else does it better” or because someone told me I wasn’t doing it well enough…or just because I didn’t believe in myself enough to follow through, I was forgetting that practice makes perfect, that perfect is really a continuation of growth and how you never stop learning and growing.

This blog is one of the projects that for awhile… I gave up on. Not because someone else was doing it better, but just that I lost focus in why I started it. I didn’t start this blog to make money or change the world, I started it for me, to tell my stories, to log my life and hopefully get to a point where others can read it and find comfort within the words. To a certain degree I started it with the hopes of holding myself accountable and forcing myself to take a few minutes out of my week where I can just sit and reflect and write down whats going through my mind.

Maybe that is why recently I have felt a bit overwhelmed with everything, its the holidays and finding time for anything seems near impossible. But even now, just sitting in silence listening to my dog snoring on the sofa next to me, this moment is perfect. I feel a weight lifted off my chest, just rambling away here.

I think we all need to remember that the love we give to others needs to be the same love we give ourselves, hold yourself up and if you fail at something, it was just a practice shot, every step in the right direction is an improvement from where you came from. When you feel yourself, or anyone else for that matter, telling you that you can’t do something… ignore them! Think about the great things, remind yourself “What would i tell a friend who was doubting themselves”. Love yourself and support yourself, grow and develop your skills and spread that love to everyone.

I am always reminded of the incredibly cheesy quote “In a world where you can be anything, be kind”… this is true to how you treat yourself, because if you can’t be kind to yourself how will you know how to treat others.