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?”

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.

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.

 

The Journey Begins

The Journey Begins was the generic title that Word Press creates when they auto generate your first blog post for you… I was going to adjust it out to something else but then i started thinking…What was the purpose for this blog i created… what does “Explore Life Always” really mean to me. When i came up with the idea for this page it was primarily to explore the world, create a virtual diary of trips i want to take and cross them off of the proverbial bucket list, but as i looked at “Explore Life Always” it spoke to me on many different levels. Life isn’t simple and there are so many aspects of life that we don’t realize we can explore for example Food, Religion, Art, Cultures, Nature, History.  Maybe that is all part of suffering from wanderlust… Always wanting to try something different, something new, go somewhere and explore… no matter how terrifying it can be its all part of living life to the fullest. I say suffering because when there are things that hold you in one spot or prevent you from doing what you want to do, you really do feel trapped and tied down, through no ones fault it’s just some parts of life become too hard to control. All of this pushes some generations down to the point that depression and anxiety levels are on the rise… where its more common than not to be seeing a therapist or on some kind of medication. I have been there sitting on the floor hiding in the back room at work looking up and seeing everything else towering around you with your heartbeat pounding in your ears so loud that you feel like you can’t breathe… and then as fast as it came… its gone. You stand up, put on a smile and walk back out into the world like nothing happened… That really was where my journey began… sitting on the floor between two giant racks of clothes breathing deeply trying to stop the world for a second…”just one second please” i remember chanting in my head, now of course nothing stopped, nothing changed, i calmed down dusted myself off and returned to work. But my time sitting on that dusty floor i calmed myself down by thinking about life and everything that is part of life, i decided that i was going to try something new and different.

I started creating a mental list of 8 basic things i could start doing immediately to explore life more so than sitting on a stock room floor hyperventilating:

  1. Start meditating/yoga
  2. Take a day trip somewhere different
  3. Eat something i have never eaten
  4. Plan a trip
  5. Try to cook food from a different culture
  6. Take time to watch the sunset at least once a week
  7. Put my phone down 30 minutes before bed time (with the goal to up this to an hour)
  8. Complain less be thankful more

I am sure this list will grow and change over time but it was just the basics. I have to remind myself every day that life is to be lived and not just to survive.

So last night, i sat down and watched the sunset… it was calming, i was at peace as the day closed…

sunset

After all these years, I am still involved in the process of self-discovery. It’s better to explore life and make mistakes than to play it safe. Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life. — Sophia Loren