Escaping the ordinary-a post about change

When we think of an ordinary life… it goes according to the routine and plans we set in place, never pushing our selves outside of our comfort zone. The ordinary life to some is a perfect routine of days coming and going with mile markers you pass, checking each item off of the list. Keeping track of your accomplishments and then one day you lay down peacefully and pass on to the next life. Well.. that’s the hope anyway.

The thing with an ordinary life… it might not be filled with extraordinary things all the time, it might not be an exciting novel of twists and turns and the adventures that are beyond your wildest dreams. There is nothing wrong with an ordinary life with extraordinary moments in every chapter. Those extraordinary moments remind us that life is worth living for every second… and every mundane ordinary day doesn’t have to repeat itself into the next, turning into a monotonous cycle.

As long as you are aware of the control you have over your life, the paths you take sometimes are not the easiest, but if you tread purposefully on your way down your chosen path, it will lead you to who you are and where you want to go.

Sometimes the path you have ignored in the past, because of how difficult it appears to be, can lead you way out of your comfort zone. Hanging from the edge of a cliff inching your way to the destination… when we have those moments where we are so scared of living and we are looking down, we forget that there is a sunrise coming up in front of us, all we need to do is look up.. hold on tight and keep inching but we need to stop looking down and stop looking back. Your comfort zone is a wonderful place in an ordinary life… but make sure you push yourself out of your comfort zone every now and then. Find those extraordinary moments to look back on and say “wow did I really do that”.

Living an extraordinary life all the time would be exhausting… but finding a balance between those safe ordinary moments and those breath taking extraordinary moments, that’s really the purpose of your life. If you find the adventure in your life the ordinary moments won’t feel mundane but safe and comforting, then you hold onto the ordinary and the extraordinary.

I recently changed work locations, far outside of my comfort zone, it has been 3 days and every day I have learnt more about myself, I have learnt more about what I look for in a work environment and I have realized that change is scary for a lot of people… not just the person finding themselves in a new location but the existing people in the area.

Change is an inevitable part of life, you can either fight it and refuse to accept it or you can learn and compromise, work as a team and develop.

Sometimes we don’t realize the ordinary life and routine we have put ourselves in until we escape 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.

 

 

Where have you been?

This is a question we always ask someone when we haven’t seen them in awhile, or when we haven’t seen any social media activity from them. The answer to the question sometimes is exciting filled with adventure and laughter, other times its filled with illness and sadness. But we still ask.

Recently someone asked me, “Where have you been? i haven’t seen any blog posts in awhile”, honestly i didn’t know how to answer. I responded with the “oh you know i have just been busy with work”… Was that the truth? to a certain degree yes, but internally no.

The last month i haven’t had much energy to write, not because i didn’t want to but i didn’t feel inspired to do so. I didn’t really feel much of anything, i have had some great adventures but i didn’t write about them. Why? because my brain wouldn’t shut off about the things i can’t change, because i was worrying and over working my mind until i felt overwhelmed just waking up in the morning… Did i talk to anyone about this? of course not…  The words depression and anxiety have been swirling inside my head now for a few months, when i don’t have the energy to do anything, i don’t have the motivation to clean up, just feeling worn out and hopeless. I found myself focusing on what i was missing in my life, my family, friends that i don’t seem to have time to see, fulfillment at my jobs. It was like a deep abyss that i found myself diving headfirst into its center.

But today is a new day, a friend posted a quote today from a travel book i am sure we have all read “Eat, Pray, Love”… (if you have not read it, i highly recommend it).

“There’s a wonderful old Italian joke about a poor man who goes to church every day and prays before the statue of a great saint, begging, “Dear saint-please, please, please…give me the grace to win the lottery.” This lament goes on for months. Finally the exasperated staue comes to life, looks down at the begging man and says in weary disgust, “My son-please, please, please…buy a ticket.”

This sparked the fire inside me that over the last few months had been burning down to embers, I got out of bed, looked in the mirror and thought “Buy a ticket….” now of course i am wishing it was an actual ticket to go on some miraculous adventure globe hopping and seeing every single wonder of the world… and then finding the ones that may not be so wonderful. But in todays case… i mean buying a ticket to participate in my life again, writing again. Why do we pray and pray for something to be handed to us, is that really what we believe life is? The easy street handed to some but not to others? i think about it like baking a pie, the dough should be made the day before and left to rest, then rolled out, you can’t just throw everything together and expect the perfect pie. you have to take time and  put effort into it.

The last month my eating habits have been terrible (i blame the pies), i have not been taking care of myself, i haven’t been giving my all at work, i haven’t really given my all in building/maintaining friendships. I really settled for just existing but still dreaming. Maybe thats one of the keys to life, dreaming gets you through the dark, but to create your own path out… you have to participate in its creation.

Now September did hold some amazing memories. We finally made it out to Clearwater Marine Aquarium, we managed to see their celebrity dolphin’s, Hope and Winter from Dolphin-tale and Dolphin-tale 2. They were incredible and watching them up close really made my day.

We also assisted someone in need when they had an accident and no one else was willing to take any quick action to help them. Word to the wise, when a car is in a pond, don’t just take photos and don’t try and open the car door, the water pressure will hold it closed. Open the trunk or the windows if you can. Luckily the driver was just in shock.

My advice to all of you, no matter what you are going through… buy the ticket, you have no idea where it could take you.

 

Are you failing yourself?

I understand the title of this post is somewhat… intense, but it is something i feel we all need to reflect on.

The other day at work i was talking to a recently retired women who was planning a trip to Norway. I gushed over her trip and explained how extremely jealous i was. Her words of wisdom were “Well if you save your money now, when you retired, you will get to live the life you want and go explore… if your health allows”

Myself and one of my coworkers (both desperate for some world travel) dove into her plans for the trip. After spending about 15 minutes talking to her she talked about how she wishes her kids would go and live life now, as they were so focused on career success, buying houses, working and starting a family. she said they were probably in my age group (30’s). I said to her that i really think thats the mentality of my generation overall, we feel at this point we should be settling down, having kids and a house.

She opened up about when she was 30 they purchased an old victorian house, poured their savings into it, spent every weekend fixing it up… she then said “what for? looking back I wish I had taken these trips when I was younger, purchased a smaller house and experienced life, as it all goes by way too quickly”.

We talked about how I had plans to travel but moving to the US changed the direction I was wanting to take my life and now its just somewhat of a routine. Her advice changed from the start of our conversation “Live your life while you have the ability to do it, the rest  can wait”. That was the end of the interaction, I wished her luck on her trip and told her to come back if she need anything else.

But this started me thinking. Are we failing ourselves by sticking to the routines? to the expectations of life that is set by the check list of what you should have by what age? What if we wait to retire? as terrifying a thought as it is, that should only be 35 years away, but with the economy the way its going, i might not get to retire until i am 70-75 or even at all.

But even then, you can only control so many aspects of your health, a lot of things come down to your genes, some things you have no control over. I have met the most athletic person who only ate healthy food, who ended up in hospital unable to walk because of a neuron disease. I met a guy who worked out 7 days a week, then got in a car accident at 22 years old and now after a year of physical therapy he is able to walk again. All he talked to me about was how happy he was to be alive, but how badly he wanted to get back at the gym as he piled on 150 pound.

Hindsight is 20:20 as cliche as that is, but you also can’t go back, every moment that passes is gone, every hour, every minute, every second only happens once, you only have     one change to live every day.  I love people watching and learning about differences between us… from my conversations with MANY people from all over the world of many different ages… the worst thing you can do is regret not living… when you reach 100 years old do you want to look at your 100 years on this planet and go “Meh that was alright…” or do you want to say “Hey you know what, it wasn’t always perfect… but it was an adventure and i loved it.”

I know which one I would rather say.

 

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.