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.

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.

 

 

The beauty of nothing

“Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where others see nothing”- Camille Pissaro

What does that quote mean to you?

To me, it means seeing and appreciating the beauty that can be found everywhere in everything… there is beauty in nothing, there is beauty in everything.

Sometimes climbing to the top of a mountain leads you to some mind blowing beautiful sunrise, other times sitting by a fire pit surrounded by close friends is beautiful and it costs nothing.

Life moves too fast, time runs too quick and emotions can be a whirlwind but we have to appreciate the moments of nothing, the moments where we can be still… the days where I sat on the sofa reading a book listening to the sound of my beautiful dog snoring. Those moments are what makes life worth it.

Sure you can judge a life by what you see on social media, how many “likes” it gets… but the true beauty of life is the moments that might not get liked on instagram, shared on Facebook or blasted on twitter.

The amount of work that goes into finding the perfect light, the perfect outfit, the perfect spot for the beautiful photo is mind blowing and I am guilty of spending that effort too… but I am choosing to remember the beauty in those moments that cost nothing, with no preplanning. Those moments where I get to be me, no judgment, no fear, where I can let myself rest.

Every moment can only be relived in our memories, we can’t change it, we can’t take it back… hindsight is 20:20 they say, and it’s true. You can’t change what happened you just have to live with it and learn. But remember in every day there is beauty and in every dark moment there is light. I encourage you to keep your eye open and find a beautiful thing in every day.

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.

 

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.