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.

Are we wandering to escape life or are we wandering to find life? 

This question has been on my mind a lot the last few weeks… too many times people assume someone who has the urge to travel is running away from their problems… looking for an escape. While I understand that point of view I disagree whole heartedly, the need to wander is about finding life… finding a purpose to exist beyond the mundane daily rituals we deal with every day of every year.
It’s about finding yourself outside of the prerequisites that have been installed and developing a new understanding of life. It’s not easy… it’s scary, it’s outside of your routine and it’s beyond the safety net. 

But they always say life begins at the end of your comfort zone, it’s true! How many times have you been faced with a challenge or a problem that has pushed you to think outside of the box, think with your heart instead of your head (or visa-versa). Those are the moments that you expand your understanding and the more you do it the further out you have to reach to find the end of your boundaries.  

One of the quotes I see at Work daily is “only dead fish go with the flow”… are you just floating along in your life or are you actively participating? Are you at the point that when ever something happens you go “oh so this is what we are doing now? Ok!”. That’s not living… there is so much out there to see, do, explore and taste. But more importantly there is so much to learn… about yourself, about each other, about kindness, about respect and about understanding. Even if someone has an opinion you don’t agree with you need to respect that. 
Traveling teaches you to expand your horizons, it teaches you that there are wonderful kind people all over the world, it teaches you that you are you and that’s perfect. 

I encourage everyone to go out and choice to find life and not just exist… because when the time comes and you stop existing you will realize what you were missing out on. 

Find your happy

Today I decided to take a free online course through Coursera after putting it off for awhile… so I should probably mention that I have not attended any classes outside of graduating high school. I didn’t learn well within a class room, so this is new to me… the world of online classes.

Coursera by the way offers a lot of free courses (unless you would like a certificate then there is a fee), their classes vary from business, personal development to creative writing. I figured I could find something that would hold my attention. After half an hour of clicking through different options I stumbled upon a course called “a lifetime of happiness and fulfillment”… well with a title like that and my new found excitement to explore every aspect of life…how could I not enroll. I know it sounds like a course for those not looking to actually learn but this is a legitimate educational class discussing the different layers of happiness and fulfillment and comparing the differences between career fulfillment, educational smarts and happiness smarts. So far it has been fascinating…

The easiest way to to find out if someone is happy is to ask… imagine that. Are you happy? Such a simple question with so many different levels, then asking the persons family and friends “are they happy?”…. now this is where the variables come in… where to a certain degree the facade you put on during the day comes into play and we find out how good an actor you are…. or how well your family and friends know you. Another thing to consider is personal happiness vs career happiness… just because someone is happy with their career doesn’t mean they are happy personally. But professor raj explains that someone who is just happy…. has a better quality of life and progresses better in other aspects of their life.

It lead me to thinking “what makes you happy?” Not just happy in the moment, but genuinely happy to the core… what warms your heart to the point that you can’t help but grin… because that’s the feeling that we should all be able to appreciate and grip onto tight. That intense sensation is what can get you through the darkest of times because it’s so overwhelmingly positive just to “be happy”.

This is a judgement free zone, you can say what ever makes you happy and I won’t judge or laugh. There are so many things that make me truly happy, some things that i don’t get to experience enough to hold on. My family mean the world to me, i would do anything for them, and I mean every kind of family from blood relations to my significant other to my absolutely wonderful fur baby. Spending time with them makes me feel warm and gooey like a fresh chocolate chip cookie…. which brings me to something else that makes me happy… food… food makes me very happy, I will try almost any kind of food and i love learning where it comes from…sure sweet things are my weakness. Travel is my long lost love, something I haven’t experienced much but there is an insane feeling inside me when I plan a trip somewhere or the idea of taking a trip… it can only be wanderlust.

That’s where I will leave tonight, find your happiness and grab it with both hands… never let it go.

Money,Money,Money?!

Ok so i have been listening to the Mamma Mia soundtrack a lot, (Can’t wait for the second movie to be released later this week!).

But the truth is, how often do we use Money as an excuse for not doing something? Yes i realize that it is a legitimate excuse for lots of things (Buying a mansion, new sports car, luxes trips around the world)… but to a certain degree it is an easy excuse… if you want to do anything and your passion is behind it, it’s all you can focus on then you will be able to accomplish it. But you have to make sacrifices. Don’t buy a $7 a day drink at an expensive coffee shop (Maybe do to a gas station and get a coffee for $1… or make it at home). I for one have a bad habit of going and getting a Venti cup of coffee pretty much daily. When i was a kid i was fantastic about saving money because i looked at every penny and said “How long did it take me to earn this?” I wish i had kept this mentality up but i was brainwashed by society into spending money i shouldn’t have… I don’t regret it but hind sight is always 20:20.

I always tell people there will never be enough money, because as you earn more, you for some reason seem to spend more and you are in the same spot consistently. The thing is money doesn’t bring you happiness (I know that is a cliche) but think about it, there are plenty of places where people live with next to nothing but they are happy, they have what they need… maybe not everything they want… but really thats where a lot of our issues come from in western society… its the wanting. We spend our entire life wanting more money, wanting more status symbols, wanting someone to want us… but what if we were just happy with what we have? The adventures in life come from us having a happy place to start. Yes i want to travel and yes i want to explore everything everywhere… but for me its about needing to understand “Happiness”. If you ask the people in your life if they are happy most of them will reply something along the lines of “I am happy enough”… some will be blunt and say “No but what can i do?”.

I am in the happy enough position where i know i have a fantastic life with people who care about me and a decent job. But there are things out there that i do want to explore but when i look at them most of the time i make excuses… “Oh i don have the time, I don’t have the money”. But really… i do… everyone has the same amount of hours in the day whether you are a rocket scientist, surgeon or a fast food worker… but its how we spend them that really leads to us having “enough”. there was a video i stumbled across recently on line, the summery on it is if we look at time in a day like money… break every hour to $100 with 24 hours being $2400, the average person is spending $800-$1000 sleeping… $200 getting ready for work and commuting, $800 at work. that leaves you $400 a day to “Spend”. On your days off you have a lot more but you spend your time watching TV shows, laying on the sofa… Maybe this is the time that would be better used exploring life and figuring out little ways to add to your happiness tank. Wouldn’t it be great to go back to work on Monday and be Happy… because you did something that filled you up with excitement for being alive. Sure Mondays are terrible but they are the count down to the next weekend… they are days to plan out the next adventure… maybe remember that when you are going to spend that $10 at the coffee house, that $10 could cover the entry fee to that state park, or be spent on the food to take on a road trip to watch the sunset.

Yes we would all love to make more money… but remember the money you have is more than some and yet those people are happy. Are you truly happy?

What is stopping you?

What is holding you back from trying something new? Doing something different or making up your own mind about something?

This past week I have started trying many new things, not sharing them with anyone from fear of judgement for the most part. Why do we let what others think control our thoughts and actions? If you think back to being a child… nothing held you back (other than your parents telling you not to do something dangerous). But outside of their supervision, on the play ground you could be anyone you wanted, run as fast as a race car, pretend you were swimming under the sea… the innocence of being a child is talked about a lot from many different aspects… but in my eyes the true glory of my childhood was being fearless, believing that anything was possible the feeling of nothing holding you back.

To some setting up a meditation regime, starting a blog, becoming more self-aware of your body/emotions and time isn’t a terrifying thing. Being able to be open and honest with everyone about your feelings and life isn’t something to hide. But to me… just the idea of writing this blog is scary, the idea of admitting to people I know that i want to explore more of life than what the boundaries i currently have just sounds… unappreciative especially when i look at the great things i have going on… so for now i write sharing with a few that i don’t fear will judge (and of course the wide open internet where people will always judge anonymously).

I always read travel blogs, food blogs and photography blogs and think… well there’s no way that I can possibly do that/go there/create that/capture that… but why not? What is stopping me? Yes i am aware of the (actual) excuses I use (money, time, pets, responsibilities which to a certain degree are justified)… but beyond that there are more layers to those excuses and when I examine them it’s like opening Pandora’s box… all my insecurities come pouring out, because of that.. my pandoras box remains sealed and tucked away behind a thick wall of excuses and a moat filled with responsibilities… and ultimately that is what prevents me from following through with those ideas and dreams I am on some level too scared to pursue.

Scared of the potential failure?

Scared of being disappointed that things won’t be as awesome as they seem?

Scared of letting others down?

Scared of not being good enough?

I don’t need to answer yes or no to any of those questions because to some degree we all share these insecurities… but what truly matters is whats inside…

Will it make you happy?

Is it something you would love to try?

What are the amazing things you could learn?

There will always be that voice telling you “why waste your time?” “you are not good enough”, “There is no point doing that”. But don’t listen to it, what would your 5-year-old self say???? maybe that’s the voice we should listen to, the younger, care free, experimental super hero thats completely fearless.

 

Just Breathe

Simple right? Its something we do every moment of every day…until we don’t.

But have you ever really stopped to think about breathing, not the science behind it providing oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide… but the action. Well today I did,using an app I downloaded about 8 months ago and never used called “Calm“, at the time it was one of the “apps of the day”. I figured this would be a step in the right direction towards meditation and then moving onto yoga.

I started day 1 of their 7 days of Calm, “Learning the basics of Mindful Meditation”. It was 11 minutes of focusing on your breathing, NOTHING else, needless to say it was difficult because I was trying to focus SO hard on ignoring every little noise and itch… that I had to restart the class. The point is to focus on your breathing, inhale, exhale… I finally grasped it at the start of the second try.

I know what you are thinking, “What does this have to do with exploring life??”… see thats the thing breathing is part of living that we forget because its natural and automatic, focusing on your breathing is exploring the control you have over your body and exploring the different levels of calm you can reach by just breathing.

How many times have you been worked up so much that you can feel your heart beating in your ear drums? How many times have you felt completely overwhelmed by bills and money problems that you feel suffocated?How many times have you been so upset that you find yourself gasping for air through the sobbing? Could a simple solution be focusing on one phase “Just Breathe”

Thats what i challenge you to do today, find somewhere quiet, away from crowds, away from stress and just sit still, with your back straight, eyes closed, focus on the air entering your body on the inhale and feel the stress float away on the exhale. Honestly i can’t wait to start day 2 and see what’s next.

 

“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.”-Amit Ray