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.

Adventure awaits?

I have spent years day dreaming about the different adventures that are out in the world. The cultures, the religions, the architecture and life styles that every country has to offer… How much this could open someones mind and change their life.

I dream of walking dirt roads, climbing mountains, sleeping under the stars, trying flavors that dance on your tongue and explode your tastebuds. Seeing the aurora borealis and riding a boat through the floating markets in Thailand.

“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time spend working in the office or mowing the lawn. Climb that goddam mountain”-Jack Kerouac.

This April i turned 30. I am not sad about this but i have found myself reflecting on that last 10 years of my life. Have I really used those years the best way? They say that your “20’s” are your years to be care-free and travel the world, try new things and make mistakes… but i am starting to wonder whether that is true any more.

Living in the USA has taught me that there are many people who don’t travel… mostly because of financial reasons. You finish high school, you go to off to university to earn a degree in a subject that you pick at 18 years old… that will lead you into a career that you (At that age) think will be the dream job. A few years later you step out of university with an absurd amount of debt,(The average USA student loan debt is around $40,000). So now you are 24-25 years old with $40,000 dollars in debt and you are expecting to get a job in the field you have just spent the last 7 years studying for. Well you have to pay the debt back somehow, so you take a job doing what ever you can so you can start paying back the loans… which could take at least 10 years depending on living expenses (Rent, Car loans, Credit Cards-LIFE). So now you are 35 years old….with no student debt woohoo! But you met your person, and now you want to finally buy that house that you have been trying to save for, you sign on for a 30 year mortgage, putting you at 65 years old by the time your house is paid for… Where did your 20’s, 30’s,40’s, 50’s and even your 60’s go…

I know i am being dramatic, of course there are people who take gap years and travel, or make enough money to vacation when ever they want…but is this really the adventure we all dreamt of when we were kids?

Growing up in the UK until i was 18, it was common for my friends to plan to travel, go to Rome, Paris, back packing through asia, I mean it makes sense… once you get into Europe you an get pretty much anywhere. I don’t blame my lack of passport stamps on moving to the US, not at all.  life just happens…

There are 195 countries in the world, and each one of those breaks down into bustling cities of hundreds of thousands of people to tiny villages of barely 100 residents. Every where you will find people who are experiencing the same feelings of wanderlust, the urge to be anywhere but where you “are”. Some people say that its just the urge to run away… i disagree… Wanderlust is the urge to explore, run free and roam! experience new things and jump head first into the world around you. There is so much more to life than waiting for the next milestone, your 40th birthday, 50th birthday, 60th birthday and so on. What if the next milestone you were heading towards was a physical milestone, a physical sign telling you “Welcome to India”. But alas for now, this is all a dream. Something i keep in my back pocket, that i can mentally unfold and look at and say “One day”

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.

 

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