Life is not a competition

Life is not a competition, there is no comparison between two people at the same age. Because at 25 years you own a mansion, new car, are married with 5 children and a dog… that doesn’t mean that every person should have those by that age… and who am I kidding in this economy, at 65 that’s not gunna be likely either. But that’s not the point.

I created this blog as a free space where there is no judgement based on age, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender… I don’t care about how much you make per hour, how big your House is, if you drive a new car or if your available balance is longer than your phone number. I care about what’s inside you, your heart, what gets you excited, what lights your spark.

If life is a race then what is the finish line…? I don’t want to run through my life trying to compete against those around me in regards to what counts as a success. Success is different for everyone, happiness is different for everyone and life, believe it or not, is different for everyone. The struggles and climbs we have at any age can be relatable but they are not a comparison by any means. We all have dreams of what we want to accomplish in life and that is great but those dreams and aspirations should be your own and not to keep up with those around you. Surround yourself with people who support you for being you and love you for being you… not how much you make or what you own.

The successes can be something like you paid all your bills on time this month… depending on the person, that might be a HUGE deal. Please don’t ever live your life comparing it to others around you… I beg you… if you find yourself looking at your life and saying “it’s not good enough”, remember that you are the one in control and you don’t have to answer to anyone about what classes as a successful day in your world. Even the people at the top of the financial pyramid have their worries and bad days.

When you have those days that you feel down because of someone else’s opinions of you, put your hand on your heart and feel it beating, that means you are still here, your life is still going and the chapters ahead are still being written…(did that sound too cliché?)

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.

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.

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