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.

 

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.

What will they think?

This is a question that is always on our minds… no matter who you are…. I know you say “I don’t care what people will think” but on some level you do… it’s natural to seek approval from others, it makes us not feel so alone.

This starts at a young age where we pick our pretend jobs with our friends and they judge us and tell us to do something different… it’s just playground banter that’s all, it doesn’t affect us long term…..right? Or does it? Do we become so preoccupied with pleasing others/competing with others that we forget that the only person we have to answer to is ourself? YOU are the only person who can make YOU feel invalid, you shouldn’t let what other people think or say make any difference on what you choice to do in your life… that’s the key phase there “this is YOUR life…” it’s not your best friends life, it’s not your co workers life or your bosses, your girl friend or fiancée. YOU. Answer to yourself when you look in the mirror, are you doing what’s right for you?

If you have a Dream, you need to figure out if you can do it and follow that dream. Let other people’s negativity push you towards your goal. Don’t sit back and say “oh well John says I can’t do it so I guess I give up” how about you say “I’m gunna do it no matter what John says because this is my passion and this is my life” feel the strength that comes with those words “THIS IS MY LIFE” own it and control it. Whether it is taking classes to get towards the career you want, taking that trip you dream of or eating that piece of cake (again if it’s something that is feasible for you).

Too many times we put things off or hide talents away because we are scared of what people think. I have kept this blog hidden from 95% of my friends because I am terrified of what they will think. That’s absolutely insane… but it’s a barrier I am trying to break down. When you truly stop caring about what every other joe and Karen will think, you will get to live your life freely. I remember hearing growing up that the kids on the playground who hide and made fun of others were just jealous of the kid they are picking on… it’s the same way no matter your age. People find “flaws” in their opinion of you and try and knock you down. Don’t let them.

Be you, the great, wonderful, strong and powerful YOU.

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.

 

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