“All of us invent ourselves. Some of us just have more imagination than others.”

Last week I got to see one of the most AMAZING people in the world perform on stage-Cher. She was amazing, sassy and everything you could ever expect… at 72 years old… 72! She was dancing, singing, skipping… I don’t care how much money you have or how many surgeries you have had, none of that would help a 72 year old Keep their energy level so high for the entire show!

I stumbled upon the quote for this post… and it reminded me that we really do forget how much of our lives we can control, how often we get down and beat ourselves up.

Hate and fear are two powerful forces of darkness, Hate for situations that you find yourself in, hate for your body, hate for others,fear of persecution, fear of letting others down… fear of standing out and being disliked. Fear for standing up for what you believe in. Hating someone else doesn’t make you a better person, hating someone for what they believe in doesn’t make you right or make them wrong, vocalizing your hate doesn’t make you any stronger or a bigger person.

Hate and fear are not only external factors that play with your emotions but also internal factors that we do to ourselves…i for one know that fear of letting people down makes me worry and stress so much, I hate things about my appearance… and I let these negative feelings control my day. But really… by doing this I am just creating a negative opinion of myself that I am turning into… negative breeding negative, I find myself thinking more negative thoughts on the days that I feel down… but am I just “inventing” myself.

Every day when you get up, remember you are lucky to be alive, you have air in your lungs and blood in your veins. For every cliche saying, they have some truth behind them. You never know what day could be your last, you never know when you could lose someone you love. Love is a wonderful feeling to share, Love makes the world turn… If we all loved a bit more, we would all probably be in a better place.

I love the fact I laugh a lot, I love my family and friends… I love that I noticed my first few wrinkles at thirty years old and they are from smiling and laughing so much. I love that so far 2019 is proving to be filled with adventures and I love that I started this blog.

If we spend more time thinking positive things that we love about ourselves maybe that’s who we will create, maybe we will push the hate in this messed up world to one side… and show that Love really can win. But it takes all of us doing that. Stopping the negative… stopping beating ourselves up and start loving yourself. No matter your age, have the imagination you had when you were a child and be the adult you wanted to grow into.

Cher is 72 years old… at 72 I hope that I can look back at my life and say “wow, that was one hell of a ride, let’s see where the next mountain leads”

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.

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.

Have courage and be kind.

Courage and kindness. We hear those words all the time when we are kids. We are raised to be nice, kind, compassionate and treat others how we would like to be treated… at least that’s how I was raised.

Even now at 30 years old kindness is something i strive to keep in my life. As simple as opening the door for someone. Compassion doesn’t cost, relating to someone on the most basic level doesn’t cost you anything. We are only on this earth for a short time, wouldn’t life be better if we had compassion for others, we have the courage to pursue our dreams and we treat everyone with kindness. The downside is in most companies having those personality traits is seen as somewhat of a weakness, we are seen as those people who are not strong enough to stand up and speak because we “are too nice”.

We are all humans, when it comes down to it, we are all going to die (morbid I know). Would you like people to say about you? “He was a kind hearted person, he treated others so well and he cared”… or “he was a great business man, he always seemed stressed but he had the money”.

Words can hurt or heal, so why use them to hurt people… be kind… be sincere and believe in yourself. If you are speaking the truth with kindness you can do anything.

Remember we are all human, remember being a kid and being told to be kind, remember how kindness feels to receive it. That feeling is what you are gifting to someone else.

I’ll get off my soap box now.

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.

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

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