• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • CTH

Sunday, November 9, 2014

I'll let you in on a little secret I have figured out over the years:
The happiest people I know are also the people who continually evolve.

I'll let you in on another secret:
The most boring people I have ever met are those who are continually trying to be "comfortable".

One thing that isn't a secret is how I personally feel about growth and see it as something we're meant to be in pursuit of over pretty much everything else.  I know it isn't a secret because any time I post a blog with a negative viewpoint of corporate America and being a stagnant person, I get a nasty email or two from people who have less grammatical comprehension skills than the crushed Skittle I just scraped off the bottom of my shoe.  Too much?

Coming back to reality, it took me until the age of twenty-eight to realize that I should have spent more time investing in myself when I was younger and less time trying to become comfortable in life.  I mean, that's what you're supposed to do according to...well, the details aren't important because it's just what you're supposed to do.  That whole mindset of go to school, work for a few decades and then retire and just be comfortable the whole time.  Maybe get married somewhere in the middle of that process and have a few kids running around just like someone else planned for you to do.  Hey, you kept it interesting because you made a sizable income and went on two vacations every year so you could come back and show your friends and family a bunch of pictures of the resort you stayed at which they don't care about.  Again, too much?
Don't get me wrong, I love traveling, but I like it flavored with a little more risk and adventure than tourism.

The thing is, I wanted that for so many years - the "comfortable" situation of knowing that I could go out and put on a (figurative) costume every once in a while and play the role of the interesting person who lived inside my head.  Sort of like how your dentist has a Harley he puts five hundred miles on every year and a small stockpile of leather in his closet for that one weekend when he's a biker and rides up to the mountains instead of, you know, being that person on a daily basis?  The more I think about it, the more I'm disgusted with the idea of me wanting exactly that a few years ago.  If comfort means keeping up appearances for 90% of your life, going to parties of people you don't like, putting on a tie you hate, getting into a weekly routine, and spending the other 10% trying to be something else entirely, I'm happy my perspectives have changed.

I guess I'm just getting sick of watching people crash and burn in the pursuit of comfort instead of passion.  The people who will work for companies and within industries they hate because they are promised a hefty retirement.  It breaks my heart to see the same people rush into a blinded marriage situation because they're somehow not doing society any favors by being single at nearly thirty years old - you know, not getting married because they want to, but doing so because they were told you're not a complete person without being married.  Marriage is awesome though, it's just that loads of people really, really suck at it.

You're not really supposed to take this as inspiration or anything, but if you're not happy with where you are in life, aspire to be something else, or are curious about what it means to take a different direction, do it.  I'm not saying to be irresponsible in your life choices, but if you're doing the same thing that everyone else is doing and falling into the same routines as everyone else in your office, take a second to evaluate that and see if you're actually happy.

I was talking to friend of mine earlier who escaped the corporate system like I did and he said the most enriching event in his life involved getting rid of the things he really didn't need, minimizing the impact of his financial situation, and then going all out in pursuit of his passions.  It doesn't always work and I am in the dead center of that very process right now, but it's always worth the risk.

Otherwise, you may just end up old and "comfortable" while contemplating what it would have been like if you had taken the jump to find your own definition of success.

Chasing down your passions, being in continual growth, and taking life for the adventure it is and as a product of your own identity is where you find happiness.  It's where I have found mine.

Don't let anyone tell you what you "should" be doing.
Hold the hands of those who motivate you while supporting your efforts and don't let go.
The only person who is in control of your own happiness is you.

Grace and Peace,

Sunday, November 2, 2014

What Two Years Of Being Sober Is Like...

A few months before I hit the one year mark of sobriety last year, I wrote a blog about the reality of my experience up to that point.  That post (which you can find here) was my most read and circulated piece for the next few months until the infamous "Explorer" article went viral and changed my world in an entirely different way back in January of this year.  This past October, I reached the two year mark of putting down the bottle for good, so I thought giving a little update about what has been going on would make sense.

As I said in my first blog about sobriety, people have a tendency to look at you a little differently or alienate you from certain situations socially when they hear about your choice to stop drinking.  I assumed that this would be just like anything else and level off with time, but what ended up happening wasn't really in line with my expectation.  The people I drank with and went out with in that over-and-over weekend routine during those years of fog mostly went away and have stayed away.  The question I was often emailed as a result of making the same statement over a year ago was always worded something like this:
"Well, did you make it awkward?  Were you sitting at parties, staring at the walls and judging everyone for drinking?"
Answer:  Nope.
Not in the least bit.

Trust me when I say I haven't done anything (stupid) while drinking that I wouldn't do sober.  Actually, most of the stupid things I have done in my life have not involved alcohol.  Alcohol was an addiction for me - not a character change or an excuse to do dumb things. 
Most people who drink don't really understand that and assume I would have a problem with being around drunk people, when in reality, I wouldn't care if you bumped three lines of cocaine while sitting next to me and chased with a "Chilly Willy" of Grey Goose straight up the same nostril.  
If there is anything that I learned from my experience as a Theology major after they kicked me out of their program for reasons unrelated to alcohol, is that you:
1.)  Can't control people
2.)  Can't make their decisions for them
3.)  Can't change them

The thing is, I told myself over and over that I was going to stop my daily fifth/12-pack habit about a dozen times for other people.  When I did this, I made it known to people and failed every single time.  It wasn't until I decided to quit for myself and keep my damn mouth shut about what I was doing that I crossed the plateau and didn't want to relapse.  Results may vary, but that's how it worked for me.  Nothing dramatic.  I woke up one day and said I didn't want to die from liver damage.  I. Me. Hangovers too - I was over it.

Part of the alienation from other people reaches into the dating world too and even though I'm not much of a serial dater by any stretch, women are quick to write off a guy who doesn't drink (it's probably the same story regardless of gender).  The flirt factor tends to be strong and the interest level high until "I don't drink."  which leads to a nosedive of interest more often than not.  I won't try to dissect why that is because I really don't care and haven't spent much time thinking about it.  Sobriety makes people think you're lame sometimes and I understand that because it's not something you hear very often.  At the same time, if something so small is what someone banks their level of interest from, a time investment from the sober party probably isn't worth pursuit anyway.
Move on.

Alcohol is a fairly universal cultural experience, which would probably explain why so many pictures of adults on social media have everyone holding a drink or show one in the background.  Seriously though, pay attention to that if you've never noticed because it's pretty fascinating.  That's not a judgment at all, it's just an observation I never noticed until I sobered up.  Actually, one caveat to non-judgment is that douche who takes a picture of his $3000 watch with visible shirt cuff while holding a $1.50 bottle of domestic beer - the "try-hard" aroma is too prominent for me to ignore.  Again, something I've paid more attention to over the years.

People still think I'm on the teetering edge of a relapse though, and I find it pretty funny.  Sometimes I do have a momentary and random brain spasm of wanting to remember what beer tastes like, but it dissipates as quickly as it arrives and happens about once a month when I'm sitting in traffic or doing something else mundane.  I can hold it, pour it, smell it, and it doesn't bother me at all.  Some people in recovery can't do that, but I'm fortunate enough that when I quit, it was for good and I left it without any triggers lingering around.

I did develop a pretty awful caffeine addiction as a result of quitting.  I wouldn't say I "traded" one for the other because I don't drink as much caffeine as alcohol, but it's after midnight, I just drank this and feel no more awake than I did prior:
If caffeine and Splenda are my hangups at this point, I'm doing well enough. Dealing with the consequences is fine because if this crap gives me cancer, it will probably happen later in life than it would have if I had drank myself to death by subsequently killing my liver.

When all is said and done, though, the important and supporting people haven't ever left.  I did a massive Facebook purge a while back and dropped from 1,500+ to around 200 "friends".  Having 50 Likes on a post with so few people to see it is incredibly encouraging and humbling:

Oh, and I stopped cutting my hair when I stopped drinking as well:
That's a thing.

Yeah, still sober, still happy, and never want to be in a fog outside of my own control ever again.
If you think you have an issue and want to talk to someone, my email address is in the link at the bottom.  I get piles of emails from people who read my blog everyday and I respond to every single one.  You won't be bothering me.
I promise.

Grace and Peace,

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Truth About Buying Locally...

I'll be honest with you and say that a few years ago my first thought whenever I would hear the term "buy local" wasn't ever a positive one.  I envisioned that guy who fueled his Whole Foods trips via a trust fund at nearly thirty years old and wouldn't know a struggle if it were to manifest itself as his white washed linen shirt and began dancing to the songs he had written about world peace and bunnies.  The other people that came to mind were the overprotective parents who take their kids to the Emergency Room over a scraped knee and shove forty-five vitamins down their ten year old's throat on the daily, finishing with none other than a wheat grass chaser.  I thought this way for a very long time because I couldn't be bothered to see what craftsmanship, tangible talent and creativity actually meant.

Food is what I always assimilated with something being considered "local" concerning things you could actually buy.  The city I live in even has a Farmer's Market every Saturday morning to help support the whole organic and free-range movement that has been happening now.  The side of locally sourced goods which tends to go overlooked fairly often is that of the craftsman type in most communities.  Chances are, if you live in a fairly populated area, there are more skilled craftspeople than you probably realize.

When I was in college, someone I had known since childhood actually said this:
"Why would I spend three dollars on a chicken sandwich at Chick-fil-a when I can get one at McDonalds for a dollar?"
Something about rib meat and recycled chicken genitals probably...
I won't say you always get what you pay for, but sometimes certain scenarios lend themselves to being a little more obvious than others on that spectrum.  

I build furniture now.  That's not something I ever thought I would be doing, but in trying to figure all of this out and gain some business growth, the biggest obstacle is always exposure for me.  In the same way that people will walk right by a local Italian restaurant that makes all of their pastas and sauces fresh in the morning and spend the same amount of money at Olive Garden, my business often suffers the same fate.  People like the bland familiarity of buying consistently mass produced things for some reason.  

When our grandparents were buying furniture, it was an investment for a lifetime in most cases.  That's probably why so many of us still have generational furniture in our families.  Timeless designs that were sometimes commissioned, sometimes a product of original design, but always built by someone who was a professional at their craft.  Some time over the past few decades, automation (as expected) took over, most pieces were reproduced, and outsourcing to countries that allow sweatshops became the standard in pretty much every industry.  I'm not going to give you some sort of lesson about how sweatshop labor is immoral and horrible (though it is) because every westerner is guilty of buying those products.  All I am going to say is that furniture, jewelry, glass, and a slew of other things we consume these days through overseas labor were once expensive and seen as an investment instead of a consumable.  The lower pricing we have today is thanks to the menial amount of money the laborer is paid to produce that article.  That Ikea bookcase or sterling silver ring you bought probably changed hands at least three times and traveled across an ocean or two, but was still available at a lower price than the man or woman a few blocks away would have charged you to build something of the same design, but most likely better quality.

This opens the door to "feeding the corporate machine", politics, and all sorts of things that do nothing but break us all down a little bit more everyday, but I'm not into that stuff.  
I'm an offender.  
Not all I buy and consume is certified organic, locally sourced, or is guaranteed to have been made in hospitable work environments.  We're all guilty of that, but there are things we can learn from the past which I think would benefit us all by reverting back to them, including finding more local people to stimulate business through.  I know there are locals who gouge prices, but more than not aren't trying to get rich.  They only want to be happy in their career.  I've looked through Ikea catalogs (without bursting into flames, imagine that) and some of those prices are pretty mind blowingly high compared to similar things I build and sell, not even considering the quality aspect comparisons.

Like I said before, the biggest issues to overcome by the local career craftsman/woman/business owner has to do with exposure.  

There was a store around here that opened in October of 2013 to specifically sell locally-made products.  In July of this year, it folded and closed forever.  When the owners made the official announcement of closure on their Facebook page, a solid seventy-five percent (I counted) of the comments were something to the effect of:
"I am SO sorry!  I was planning on coming in soon to check it out!"
Just think if those seventy-five percent within the community had actually showed up sometime over those ten months, maybe bought something, or at least helped spread the word that the store actually existed?
The place may have had more of a chance to sustain itself.  

All I am saying is that the term "hidden gem" usually doesn't help a business owner grow.
If you believe in what your locals are creating, support them by giving them a shout on social media, take some business cards without leaving them to scatter around the floorboard of your car, and check on the costs and quality of having something built down the block as opposed to having it done across the globe.

This applies to every business: craftsman/woman, barber shop, a band, anything that flourishes with support.

It doesn't just take a community to raise a child.
It takes the whole community to sustain itself.

Grace and Peace,

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

In the summer of 2004, my friend shoved me into the basement of an abandoned elementary school in the north Atlanta suburbs after yanking the flashlight out of my hands and proceeding to hold the door shut.  We were in there because that's the sort of thing stupid teenagers do - try to place themselves in the best possible scenario to have a potential horror film written about them.  I was scared, but I knew if I freaked out, he would hold the door shut for a longer period of time (that's what guys do to each other).  When I was finally freed, I did issue him a well-deserved Mag-Lite smack across his kneecap for that one.  Scared?  Yeah, because I didn't know what was down in the basement.  

Shortly after New Years Day in 2005, I jumped on a plane and went to Jamaica to play music and stood before the biggest crowds I had ever played for at the time.  Traveling around half a foreign country with only one person you know is even more frightening than having over a thousand pairs of eyes on you, watching your every move.  Scared?  Yep, because I had never done anything like that before, but it completely killed any fear of public speaking and performance from that point forward.

In the summer of 2009, I did a lot of weird crap... Between building a race car in my garage with my friends and racing it, getting expelled from Seminary, riding my motorcycle through the downtown Atlanta connector at about 90mph in rush hour traffic too many times, and being one of four grown men who squeezed into my old car:
all at once and went for a little late night jaunt (I was sitting on, yes on, the trunk) you would think I had a death wish or something.  Honestly though, riding four deep in my car didn't seem like a bad idea in the moment until someone pulled up beside us at a traffic light, rolled his window down and said:  
"I'm an ER nurse at Emory.  I'll probably be seeing you guys later."
Scared in all of those moments?  Sure.  That's how you live and know you're alive - or at least that's what I tell myself, but I make weird decisions sometimes.

The thing is, I think we all have stories that aren't so far off from the few I told you.  I have quite a few more to tell than those, but my mom reads my blog and I don't want her to have a heart attack, so I'll stop short.  A sense of fear and seeking it out is a pretty normal thing for most people unless you're really reserved (which is just fine and dandy if you are).  But, what I have noticed is that even the most fearless, crazy, or outgoing individuals I know tend to share one fear in common:
Most of them are afraid of other people.

It boils down to honesty and the culture that has been created over the span of generations which gives so many of us the need to please or be pleasing to others.  Walking that fine line between being appropriate and not disappointing to anyone.  What we have actually done, I am afraid, is lost our sense of honesty and individuality with others.

You see, I listen.  I listen to lots of people vent, share their frustrations, break down crying, or even question life.  Why?  I have no idea, but people confide in me either because I have a trusting personality or am just so damn cute that you can't stand it...  Let's go with the first option.  Getting back on point, what I have realized through the past dozen years or so worth of listening that I have done is how people create their own social issues fairly often and don't even notice it is happening.
Because they'll take twenty steps around something instead of facing it head-on.
It's a fear of people, a fear of rejection, and a fear of hurting people.

The thing about honesty is that it provokes fear in people who aren't confrontational, and it makes people think those who tell you the truth without flinching are complete jerks.  Since nobody wants to be in either camp, we settle for treading lightly around insignificant issues and start lying or avoiding instead.  Trust me, I lived there, so I know all about that.  The thing about lies and avoidance is how much more crap it compounds on the issue and also how much more complicated it usually makes life.

Some people have that "friend" they don't actually like.  When you're at a party and instead of everyone saying:
"Oh! Is William coming??"
it ends up being more like:
"Ugh, is William coming?"
while everyone else there has the same exact thought in their head.  That guy who is a complete jackass because nobody has ever been honest enough to tell him how much of a scrub he is?  Yeah, a situation like that, which is harsh wording, but you know exactly what I am talking about.  No, you don't have to invite him to your wedding, I promise.  But someone should probably sit down with him and have a nice talk at some point or introduce him to a new herd of like-minded donkeys to run with.  Otherwise it's sort of like having an abusive boss you hate, but with the title of "friend" put into the mix for some reason, isn't it?  You try to escape the boss, yet you try to maintain the friendship.  Makes sense.

It's the same idea when we make up excuses for not wanting to go places or do things with certain people instead of just saying the truth.  I had a friend a while back who would send me a text asking to call him when he was trying to get out of certain social situations (honestly, I've done it too).  I had a tendency to think up anything I could to make him laugh when he picked up the phone so it didn't seem like an emergency to the people he was trying to get away from.  
"Hey, man, I got my little toe stuck in a Tobasco bottle and I can't get it out.  It's not the original flavor either, it's habanero, so I need some help." 
because I'm fun like that - or a little facetious.  It's one of the two.  

Then I started thinking about how much all of that hoop-jumping and goose chasing it took to put up with all of that socially acceptable "normal" stuff.  You know, as compared to being honest about how we feel about things as we were taught to do when we were kids.  All of that seems to go out the window at some point between being about ten years old and halfway through high school.  If that's the world you like being in and constantly having to cover your tracks, by all means, continue to do so.

I would rather be transparent in life, answer truthfully, and be answered to with honesty from other people.  Sometimes the truth hurts, but the sting goes away much more quickly when we're upfront about things.  
Then you can concentrate on scaring the shit out of yourself and being afraid in the moment instead of just being afraid of other people.

Make sense?

Grace and Peace,

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Dream Chasing and Fleabag Dogs...

My friend made a smiley face with a straw wrapper and my keychain.  She does things like that.

"So, what do you do?"
Outside of the most common question in America of "How are you?" (which most people really don't care about) this is probably the most prevalent icebreaker for people who have just met.  Over the years, I have sort of tried to stay away from asking that question right off the bat, because I don't want someone's career choice or predicament to cast a shadow on them before I figure out their personality.  I try really hard to not let someone's business be a factor of how I perceive them, but I am human and the type who doesn't like corporate environments. It's one of those things where if you know a dog has fleas, dandruff, and pisses on everything, you probably won't want it in your house.  On the other side, if you don't know about those things right off the bat, you might end up loving the dog, despite those small things, even if your house temporarily smells like urine and flea powder while Fido gets his personal drama situation under control...
That was a bad example, but stick with me here.

Life is pretty weird and random.  Over the course of my own life, I have seen so many people from every age demographic be very successful in whatever it was they were doing as a career and then have it all ripped out from under them in an instant.  This was a process I saw over and over again, sometimes for reasons which could have been prevented by those same people, sometimes as a result of mismanagement by others, and sometimes for reasons beyond the control of anyone at all.  I watched all of this happen time and time again and in each of those instances told myself 
"Why weren't they more prepared?"
"They should have done that way differently.  I wouldn't have let that happen."
Then, one day, out of absolutely nowhere, it happened to me, my world fell completely apart, and it felt like I was standing in the middle of a desolate highway with absolutely nothing.

The funny thing about life is how it has a tendency to jump up and slap you in the face sometimes, just as a quirky little reminder that you are never in complete control of anything.  It always seems to happen when you least expect as well.  Being prepared doesn't hold much ground in some situations, but when all is said and done, it really comes down to what happens after that point - in other words, it all leverages from your actions after the initial shock subsides.  Some people manage to triumph over their severed ties and some settle into the next thing they happen to find.  I'd say to focus on the former.

When people use the term "recovery", they're usually talking about addiction or some football player ripping out a groin muscle.  Have you ever thought that sometimes you just need to make a recovery from life itself (with groin muscles intact, preferably)?  Both of the examples I gave creep up on you without notice and then hit you like a ton of bricks. The key is to not settle for the second best or easiest following scenario but to keep pushing right along instead.  I see too many people settling for less than they deserve and less than their intelligence could be used for.  

It's no secret that I am pretty big on self-education and that I think you can learn more practical knowledge through the experiences of life than you ever could in a classroom.  But you have to pay attention and be willing to work through whatever situation you are in while keeping your goals intact.  Unfortunately, it took me two whole years to figure out that the only way I was going to find fulfillment in life would be through self investment.  Trudging through the murky crap that you really don't want to for a while until you can get the ball rolling with your goals and set those plans in motion is not the most fun thing to do, but it beats getting stuck, certainly.  With that said, I'm still figuring everything out and still don't consider myself successful in what I'm doing just yet, whether it be with the 20,000 or so of you who read this blog, my design and fabrication business, my Kinja articles, or whatever else.  I still consider myself "in recovery" because once you think you have beaten the demons, and think you have recovered is when you tend to go stagnant.
When you go stagnant, your world begins to fall apart a little.
When you stay in recovery, you're always trying to make improvements.

I'm not a motivator by any stretch of the word, but I do believe if you have no struggle in life, you should find one and always seek out a new challenge.
Stay out of the routines and do something crazy while chasing down the things you love.
Nobody is ever remembered for a routine life.
We remember the risk-takers, not those who talked about taking risks.
When someone asks:
"What do you do?"
I hope you can say:
"I'm in pursuit of what I love."

Leave a legacy.
Be you.

Grace and Peace

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Don't Let Your Heart Grow Cold In The Winter...

I've been thinking quite a bit lately about what happiness really means and how you go about finding it.  That's a pretty loaded question and carries all sorts of weird dynamics into all sorts of depth.  I believe we're all in a constant pursuit of either happiness or misery and seeking out whatever side you thrive from is an essential battle of life.

The more I grow, the more I love, and the more I think about things.  Unfortunately this also opens the door for things I don't like seeping into my life - the things I ignore, and the wrong things I have had the misfortune of embracing.  Anyone can put forth the illusion of being anything they want and carry that silly mask wherever they go.  Likewise, we can all have friends and acquaintances which serve specific, masked purposes that we keep around for our own benefit, but I don't believe in that anymore.  I've said it before in a similar context lacking as much depth, but if we would all focus more on growing with people instead of complying with or using them, we would all be better off and entirely fulfilled.

I'm not talking about some floaty, off the wall, transcendental movement that makes the world think you're the type who would be best suited for running around in a field, naked, covered in dirt, and basking in the beauty of nature before being eaten by a bear though.  The truth is... I look at most things from a realistic perspective and embrace the moment I'm in rather than chasing hard in life to find or create a moment because I'm looking for one.  Sure, we all have these fits of clarity from time to time when it seems like the sky has opened and we can take a solid and pure breath of life into our lungs, but there is a difference between chasing that down and paying attention to your surroundings enough to notice the incredible things you would otherwise miss entirely.  You know, when you're having a good conversation with someone and their smile gives you that fractional second of goosebumps?  You can't fake that, nor can you force it.  It's just there.

Going back to the two very distinct types of people I mentioned before is a large part of that demographic.   We don't have any real obligation to be around people who only convey negativity or usability towards us, but so many of us have a tendency to put up with just that.  It has an effect on us that causes more damage than we take into account.  I'm not talking about the highs and lows of life and the sporadic reactions which sometimes come out pretty brash.  I'm talking about the frequency in which it happens and the ratio of your life it manages to consume.  Nobody can be happy all of the time, and some people flip through the pages of their life and personal situations that cause them to fall off for select periods of time, but if it seems like more than a seasonal occurrence, that's a problem.   On the other side - if you pay attention to how much you complain, how much issue you take with the imperfections of the world, how you view people in a certain light without giving a benefit of the doubt on initially meeting them, or if people joke about your irrational demeanor, you may actually be that person.

We can't be happy all the time, but we can pay a little more attention to what actually makes us naturally happy as opposed to synthetically.  Some things are fun for a little while, but go into those situations knowing the final outcome of some of those actions won't be fun.  It's a weird cycle that so many people follow and allow to rip them apart.  Because we try to create those impacting and lasting moment of life to look back on and reflect upon but miss the smaller things that trickle by.  Crazy.

Just pay attention to your surroundings and embrace your happiness.  That doesn't mean living on cloud nine at all because I know plenty of people who only find happiness and fulfillment in life by helping others achieve their own greatness.  Don't write people off because of one thing they say or make assumptions about their character without hearing them out properly, because that could also cause you to miss out on one of those incredible moments after closing a door too quickly.

Happiness takes exploring and leaving your comfort zone sometimes.  Those who live in a synthetic personal comfort like to stir up things to make other people uncomfortable.  Don't be that.  Just be you.  If you don't know who you are, work on finding out until you do.
Find your own definition of happiness and enjoy the embrace while not being afraid to also embrace other people in the process.

Grace and Peace,

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A few weeks ago, I was talking to a friend about how people who boast about confidence tend to have the least amount of it because they have confused confidence with acting like a brat.  You know these people - those who always have to talk about what they're spending their (or someone else's) money on by throwing it all over social media.  Who am I kidding though?  Just today I put up a Facebook post about paying a $201 speeding ticket that I received in Texas a few weeks ago.
Yeah, who needs to show off a $200 steak entree when you have a moving violation?  I broke the law!
It's all a little silly if I'm honest, but whatever makes you feel better about yourself, right?
But that's just the problem... 
Too many of us still walk away feeling empty inside.

I think the quality of our relationships has sort of fallen off and made many of us so insecure that the only way to feel important or relevant is with the most disconnected encouragement possible.  That's why some of us post crap like:
"Well, that didn't go like I wanted it to."
"I don't even want to talk about it."
Fishing for contact and sympathy of things unknown to our "audience" makes us feel like we're accomplishing something instead of actually asking someone we trust to listen to us vent or talk through whatever the issue is.  We want to feel loved and encouraged by the masses of our following instead of having a core of people who invest equally in our lives as we do into their's.
"Oh my god, that sounds SOOOO boring."
But it works and you don't look like a dramatic pre-teen trapped in a twenty-five year old body.  Well, maybe you do.  In which case I would suggest warm cookies and a nap.

Maybe it's because I don't take social media seriously anymore.  Sure, if I think of something off the wall and potentially encouraging, I'll throw it on up there, or if I buy a squirrel mug...
But, for the most part, my social media life is a reflection of me and the weird things I do.  A stark contrast to reaching out for digital comfort because it took the guy thirty minutes instead of fifteen for an oil change, followed by Starbucks running out of pumpkin flavored corn juice to go into my latte.
"Ugh.  Bad day, don't ask.  Don't eveeeeen!"
Don't worry, I never will.

Sometimes Gawker picks up the stuff I write, so I end up reading Jezebel from time to time (yeah, I know).  A few days ago, they had an interesting article about how people who make regular posts online about their happiness in relationships are usually the most unsure of their stability. 
 Sometimes I think men and women temporarily change their names to "My Fiancee" a few months before their wedding because I rarely see their future spouse calling them by their birth name.  
I'm not against marriage, I actually love the idea, but I think people get caught up in the game of throwing titles around so much that they lose scope of their relationship.  It's that growth thing I talk about so often.
I can't say for certain, but I would like to think the whole "social media reach-out" idea with relationships also applies to whatever else we talk or complain most about in that outlet as well, right?

We land right back at our relationships though, and living in the digital age makes faux-friends more accessible than tangible friends.  I'm not saying you can't have friends you don't see physically who won't back you up and aren't important, but I'm saying having a solid group of tangible friends is equally as important.  It comes back to confidence and not feeling it necessary to be needy online.  Because when you act like a spoiled, entitled brat on the internet, more people talk about you than if you acted that way in front of a friend who would then tell you that you're acting like a complete idiot...
At the very least, they would act like they don't know you when you are kicking and screaming on the floor, saying something about Chick-fil-a not having a gluten free menu...

That's the real world translation.
You're welcome.

Grace and Peace,

The title of this blog came from the lyrics in this song:

Monday, September 29, 2014

You face those hard moments of reality sometimes when something you've tried so hard to maintain just doesn't work out anymore.
My grandfather had this old Ford truck that he sort of pieced together from a junk yard because that was all he could afford at the time.  Someone had used that truck,  appreciated it for a relevant and meaningful amount of years, and moved on.  Then my grandfather found it ideal for himself and also used it for some time before he was unable to maintain it anymore due to his age.  Now it belongs to someone else even though he has been gone nearly two decades, but it still exists, and last I heard, it looks brand new.

Taking the concept to a personal level, there are different reasons as to why we become distant to the people who were formerly so important to us.  Sometimes we just grow so differently and rapidly but still try to hold on to what once was flourishing, even though the act of maintaining it holds us back.   I think we all continually grow as long as we allow ourselves to do so. With this personal growth we also  have a tendency to outgrow some people whom we held as incredibly important in the past.  Sometimes it is clinging onto that one little piece of the past that keeps us from thriving or moving forward in other things we are seeking.  In our desperation to not lose what was once so valuable, so perfect, and so beautiful, we make life more complicated because letting go seems harder.  We would rather have our emotions and heart shatter into a million pieces over time than go through one hard and devastating break.  "I'll just hang on for a little while longer." is the common excuse and the most logical way to avoid the issue in our own minds. Only because ignoring reality is often easier than accepting it.

The thing is, sometimes people just grow apart and there is nothing we can do about that without hindering our own progress in life - without taking a step back and dwelling there.
But it's hard.
It's really hard.
When you go through so much only to figure out that one day it would have to start fading away into that horrible moment where maintaining the clash is just too damaging to continue.

I guess the hardest part is knowing that it wasn't either person's fault.  That's just how life goes and how perspectives change.  Romance is actually easier because you can get hurt and walk away, but invested friendships which have fallen apart can make you feel like you're being eaten alive from the inside out in a way you can't really prevent.
You assumed it would always be the same for the rest of your life.

None of this hard reality means you love someone any less and it doesn't mean you wouldn't move mountains for them in a time of dire need.  What it means is that sometimes the attempt at maintaining each other for the sake of each other will never be mutual anymore.
We're told to bend and not break and that it's better to compromise instead.
Sometimes you have to break...
Sometimes you have to leave the past where it was to preserve the memories.
It doesn't mean you don't care.
It just means you're growing up...

No drama, no baggage, just growth.
We all go through it, some more gracefully than others.

Grace and Peace,

Thursday, September 18, 2014

About a dozen years ago, someone told me that if you spend most of your time talking, you won't ever know anything, but if you spend most of your time listening, you will notice things that most others never will.  Hearing that made more of an impact on me than it probably should have and for the longest time, people seemed to think the shyness I had as a child had followed me into adulthood.  The reality was that I had trained myself to pay attention to everything around me and only spoke or interjected when I actually needed to instead of when I just wanted to hear myself talk.  I guess you could say I observe people, but not in a weird way (chew on this blog if you think that's weird).
To sum up that little tidbit, I pay attention to practically everything around me and can identify character traits or mannerisms better than most people I know.

Everyone goes through issues in life where they feel as if they are being eaten alive, not making any progress, or have fallen into an incessant whirlwind of no escape from their own, earthly hell.  The common reaction from our friends and family is to "focus on the positives" in our lives as a means of escaping it.  When we were in high school, the school stress meant we went out with our friends on weekends.  When we were in college, it meant we (most) partied, did drugs, or drank ourselves stupid on the weekends - pretty much every weekend.  
So, we get stressed in high school, escape on the weekends.
Graduate, go to college, escape on the weekends.
Graduate from college, get into the workforce...

Do you see where I am headed with this?
Escaping high school was fine because we were looking forward to college and escaping from college was fine because we were looking forward to our career.  Then our career starts going, we make a few career transitions (the migratory nature of our job market is insane, by the way) and we use the weekends and holidays to escape from that. The difference between doing that now and doing that when we were teenagers and college students is that most of us aren't escaping to anything other than a routine.  We'll complain about the job we have or the path we are taking, use those two days off each week to do anything but what we had just been doing over the past five days, wake up on Monday and do it all over again.  We're not looking forward to anything other than the work week ending again.

But hey, that's fine, your weekends aren't always the same, right?  I mean, last week you went to a different bar and instead of having mimosas on Sunday morning, you stayed at home and cooked breakfast with some friends.  Maybe you were nursing a hangover or maybe you weren't.  Maybe you were looking for a new love interest or maybe you weren't.  There is a good chance, however, that you were trying to escape from your situation because those two days or holiday weekend are "all you have".  Actually, what you have is a majority time consumption situation you aren't happy with that also isn't your ideal.

I'm not saying everyone in our generation is unhappy, but something I really have noticed over the years is the increasing amount of people my age who aren't happy in what they are doing with life.  I see loads of young people who would rather opt for a temporary solution to their unhappiness than to spend that free time investing in the future of their own happiness.  You know, so they aren't miserable those other five days of the week?

Hey, she was cute, so you had to take her out because you can just focus on bettering your life next weekend or after work one day next week.
They have every football game playing at once down the street...
The mimosas are only three dollars today...
That sale is only once a year...
I just want to watch movies today...
I don't really know him, but he's having a birthday party, so...

Filling up our free time with anything, and I mean anything to distract us from our own reality is incredibly easy.  Finding the time to spend with ourselves and better our situations is where things become difficult, because we make it that way.

I lived that life of following the herd because that's what everyone does on the weekends and that is how everyone escapes.  Being one who pays attention, I see the majority of people I know doing the same thing, the difference now being that I escaped the boring routine.  When I started spending time with myself and thinking for myself, I started feeling more fulfilled and more motivated.  The ideas and the drive came to me like I hadn't experienced since the days I spent performing my music in front of crowds.  I'm not making myself an example to you, but I'm saying if I can lay all of the other routine elements of life to the side and figure out who I really am and what I am capable of, finding your own method to discover yourself and pursue can't be that far fetched.

Sometimes life isn't about balance.
Juggling is only entertaining when you're watching a street performer.
Life is meant to be lived.
Passions are meant to be explored.
Push it hard enough, focus long enough, and you may find a way to make a living while truly living for what you love.
If not, your quality of life will surely increase at the very least.
Instead of focusing on the good or easiest things in life, focus on trying to fix the places that keep you from happiness.

Grace and Peace,

Sunday, September 14, 2014

What is it that you're trying to get out of life exactly and what steps should you take to get there?

Everything seems to follow a process with us as a generation, even if that same system has failed to work and carries a much proven track record.  Certain aspects of our lives and the way we live them evolved, but so many of those other attributes have only managed to follow in the steps of those who walked before us.  Laying the groundwork for our future is a great thing, but following the example of the previous generation has a tendency to result in the same failures as happened the first time around.

Our parents looked for their soul mates and married that person.
Then half of them divorced.
"They were caught up in the moment, that person wasn't their soul mate."
Considering nearly half of the people I knew growing up who have married their soul mates are also divorced tells me that nearly everyone is still getting it wrong.

We were told to work for someone, get a good retirement plan, house, kids, white picket fence.
Then the bubble burst and many of our parents forfeited that life they had built.
"Go to school!  You'll have a guaranteed opportunity when you get out."
The lucky ones found those jobs, but most aren't even using their degrees and the idea of a "career" is all but non existent.  Some of the hardest working and most motivated people I know are creeping up on thirty years old and still haven't found where they would like to be in their careers.  Others have given up and settled in or have become the corporate monsters that make people from other countries think Americans are terrible, gluttonous, excessive beings.

We were told to be ourselves and find out who we really are, but they took away our art programs or filled them with teachers who weren't passionate about what they were doing.  
They encouraged us to sit in a classroom and take tests.
They taught us that using your hands and thinking for yourself was for the meek and uneducated.
I believed this until I was in my mid-twenties, unfortunately.
I believed that I was nothing without a corner office, a formal client base, and a BMW.
I missed too many good years of not having a clue who I really am.

The media showed me that I needed to pay attention to what everyone else was doing and that reality television was real.  When you're in your twenties, you are supposed to get drunk on the weekends and party all the time.  You're supposed to make mistakes and allow yourself to be used by other people (and use them in return).  
That mindset and expectation made me realize I am an alcoholic.
When you can drink a fifth of whiskey in one sitting, wake up, function, and do it over again day-in, day-out, you are owned by that poison.  
Yeah, it almost killed me.
But that's what I was supposed to be doing, so it was okay.
Brushes with death at the mercy of a bottle is considered normal because some people still don't believe me.  They did it on TV, they did it in the movies, everyone around me did it, but I wasn't built for it.
I see many others just like me who are still stuck in the fog and have no idea.

What does this have to do with anything?
I think our beliefs need some restoration.
We were told what to do and shown the example to live by in many ways by everyone before us who had managed to either succeed or screw it all up.  A generation of creators and those who pave the way for those who come after us is what we were supposed to be, but most of us decided to live in a false sense of happiness and fall in line instead of being innovative, original, or creative.  
We would rather be influenced than be influential.
We would rather be told what to do than go in blindly and take a chance on life.  

Everything we do is defined for some reason and I don't understand it because the more you define something, the more complicated life tends to become.  
"I'll be happy when I'm married and have kids."
"I'll be happy when I find my significant other."
"I'll be happy when I make more money and don't have to work as much."
"I'll be happy when I can buy a new car every year."
Pay close attention though, and think about how this applies in your own circle:
The people I know who define their own happiness are the most unhappy people I have ever met.
You don't put your ultimate happiness on one set of terms, bank it off one situation, one person, nor a group of people.  Happiness comes with fulfillment and should be a continual process of growth, not a definition tied to a set moment in time.

Someone once told me that everything I see related to life is one or the other - black or white.
I've heard that's a character flaw, but I don't see it that way.
I would rather make a decision or come to a conclusion on one side of the fence or the other.  The middle ground, the politically correct, and the murky mess in between any discussion or opinion is where life gets complicated and stressful without justification.  It's how I write people out of my life and also how I welcome them in.  I don't consider it a flaw, I consider it a strength and an honesty to myself.

The confidence I have now came when I realized that angels aren't people.
(Stick with me, the following isn't religious, but it's making a point.)
I spent most of my life thinking that when you died, you became an angel.  Christians I knew told me this, posts on social media in times of tragedy did the same, but it wasn't until I actually looked into the idea for myself that I realized the truth.  Nowhere does it say in any ancient, religious text that people become angels when they die, but all of these scriptures are very clear in stating that angels and humans are entirely separate beings.  This is a phenomena and fabricated idea which emerged over the past thirty years or so through fictional books, movies, and television.  The thing is, this belief has been repeated so many times that people started believing it as the truth, even though it isn't written down in any of the books which found these religions.  It makes a convincing, yet fictional story though.
When I realized all of this, I realized how easy it is to make people believe anything.

It's because we're influenced instead of being influential.  
Anyone can make money, anyone can have a false sense of fulfillment, and anyone can fall in line.
We can change the machine, the method, the stereotype, and stop being typical.
We can leave the expectations behind and live life for what it is while bringing down the antiquated system of big business and a cookie cutter life.

We can do it.
We're running out of time.
We can keep bragging about what we can't take with us when we die, or we can leave behind more than some suits, debt, and empty bottles.

I went on a trip to see a friend recently and he told me something that his wife had said about her grandfather:
"She told me that after her grandfather died, she never heard about anything he was going to do, but what she did hear about was all of the incredible things he had accomplished."

Make life meaningful.
Live for you.

Grace and Peace,

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Your Version Of Reality Is Probably Wrong...

So, what are you looking for exactly?
I really hope you have an answer and I really hope that answer doesn't involve emulating the lifestyle of some privileged idiot on Instagram or Twitter.  I'm sure some of those people are as humble as someone who spends every other weekend on vacation can be, but I don't want to be like them and I don't think anyone else should either.  This falls into the same category as a full-time leader of a non-profit organization who wears $300 jeans and drives a brand new BMW - I can't take them seriously.  Hey, I'm probably jaded because I don't watch TV anymore or care about what any slew of famous socialites have going on, but does that make me any less of a Millennial?
Dear god, I hope so...

What I really want to talk about is following your heart, as it seems so many of these famous or famously successful people have done to get where they are in life.  With so many available media outlets in our faces at all times, we are pretty much shown that following our hearts and ambitions will eventually lead to financial stability, lifetime comfort, and weekends spent abroad.  The truth is that most of us will not achieve this status or have over a million Instagram followers because of our TV show which we star in about nothing...

A few different adults lied to me in high school and said if I followed my heart, I would have success and live an easy life at some point as long as I always tried.  This, of course, came from people who weren't passionate about their career choices and complained about everything that inconvenienced them.  Being an impressionable teenager, you don't really think about that much detail, but adults are supposed to be trusted.  These are also the same people who taught me that life gets better and all of the shit you go through becomes irrelevant when you meet the right person and get into a committed relationship.  After seeing those same people who gave the "insight" as well as most of my friends who listened to them get into some horribly unrealistic relationships and divorces...um... what the hell?

 Millennials, and even Generation X stopped thinking for themselves at some point.  I'm pointing a finger at a blanket statement because I see it all the time and it either makes me sad or terrified for the next generation.  We have all of these resources which allow us to think for ourselves and be driven enough to follow our hearts and ambitions with a huge arsenal of self-education to back all of that up, but we don't do any of it.  We're too obsessed with fan-girling over people we will never meet and idolizing people we only know through fabricated TV shows or what positive glimpses they allow us to see on social media.  Nobody is actually trying to carve their own path anymore because we all seem to think that:
"If you try hard enough, you will eventually make it."
Most don't make it, but the strong ones fight to the death to give it all they have for the rest of their lives.

If you read my blogs, you know I hate social agendas and expectations anyway, but I think this is a big issue because I had a social agenda at the beginning of my adult life which kept me out of focus.  Now, after realizing what I was missing out on and discovering the value in knowing who I am, I wonder where I would be right now if I hadn't spent so many weekends being braindead and celebrating nothing worth being celebrated.
"The work week is over! Let's celebrate it!"
That shit is happening again in five more days, cupcake.  You can either keep that cycle going forever or try to take steps to change it while you're young.

People have these ideas.  Everyone has these ideas.  Barely anyone acts on them because they are waiting for something.
"I can't do it without money."
Ok, then spend every waking spare moment you have trying to get that money.
"I want to but, I don't know how."
Shut up and learn something.
We always want to do something "one day" and then we take it to the grave because intentions do nothing without action.

Don't do anything because you're "supposed to" or because "it has been long enough" but do things because you want to and keep the distractions away.  I didn't learn this until two years ago and it's always a fight.  Also, it won't be easy - nothing should be easy.

These people who are worshiped for their pseudo-identities through social media and their lavish lifestyles make me wonder how many of their following have brilliant ideas but would rather watch someone else live out their success than trying to find success of their own.  I really don't have much in life as far as material possessions go and I am very proud of that, but I do show things off on social media...

The things I show off are the efforts I make to try to better and grow myself.  I have a car that cost me less than most people's yearly property taxes, and a few nicer guitars, but other than that, not much.  I would rather people see the things I create and draw motivation from them to struggle their ass off just attempting to get somewhere in life.  I have been struggling for years and I don't see that changing anytime soon - as a matter of fact, I try to make it very well known as well.  Working practically everyday and not needing to take a break "because it is the weekend" or "because it's date night" is my normal, my happy place, and my proud struggle.  

You don't hate life when you love what you do.
If you don't love what you do, get your ass out there, work that same ass off, and find happiness within it.

It's not easy because it isn't supposed to be, but if you don't put your time and full commitment into whatever you love, you will never know where you could have gone.

Or be an entitled brat stuck in a routine like every other moron out there.
You're not as different as you would like to believe.
Change that.
Think it over.

Grace and Peace,

Friday, August 15, 2014

I try to be humble because I believe with every bit of myself that having a strong sense of humility and personal reserve is a very important character trait.  This is why the blogs I have written in the past are careful not to mention that anyone should ever take anything I do as a "lead by example" situation and that nobody should strive to be like me.  The only thing I ask of anyone is to be who they really are and instead strive to grow in their own time without passing up important opportunities.

The "Ice Bucket Challenge" went somewhat viral a few months ago and for some reason has made a massive resurgence with people calling out their friends and family members to do the same thing.  By doing the challenge, they are "raising awareness" to their social media following about Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).  When this challenge first crept up, I thought it was a neat idea, and I did end up researching it a bit. I, like most others, did not make a donation. 

Currently, the challenge has become a trend, which is dangerous to the message and purpose.  I have an extremely close friend who's dad suffered with ALS and has since passed away.  ALS was a very real part of her life for many years and she actually experienced it firsthand.  
This is a status update that she posted on her personal Facebook:

Her words show me the dangers of our "trend culture".  Sure, nobody is getting hurt by any of this, but once an activity becomes trendy, the relevance falls away and the slacktivism runs rampant instead.  At this point and with the exposure through the mass media, we have transitioned from raising awareness about a debilitating illness to causing a social media and televised media circus.  Personally, I feel that the next step is to break the trend and get the focus on research and funding to figure out who actually cares and who is just following the flock.  

"You're being insensitive.  Some people took the challenge AND donated."
I know, and that's great, but it's time to carry the creative mission and think of something to further the cause which doesn't involved dumping water on yourself. It has been done and will die off quickly like every other trend (Kony 2012, anyone? Anyone?). Every successful marketing plan has a method of continuing to reach the target demographic after the trend dies off.  With the millions of people in this world who are doing this, some creative mind could come up with a way to keep people interested in the cause, but they don't want to put forth the effort.
They wanted to dump a bucket of ice water on their head and make a video about it.

"Why don't you get out and do something then? Huh?"
I'm not passionate about ALS and there is nothing wrong with that. 

The reason I brought up humility first in this blog post is because I hate talking about things which could be misconstrued as arrogance and don't like my charitable actions to be known - that isn't who I am, so I never talk about them.

The first picture in this post is something I wrote down in 2007 and my friend (unknowingly to me) has kept it in her wallet since that day. 
"I want to do what I love, make a lot of money, and give most of it away..."
I told myself back then that if I could ever donate anything to anyone with a purpose that I felt strongly about, I would not hesitate to do so as a personal sacrifice.  If I ever make loads of money in something, I honestly plan to donate most of it to causes I care about.

If I ever have the income to do so:
-I will NOT claim any donations as a tax write-off.
-I will NOT tell the organization where the money came from.
-I will NOT accept any recognition for it.
This is how I personally believe charity should work and is something I hold very dear.

This is where I tell you something I didn't want to tell anyone, and that nobody knew about until I called my friend about an hour ago to ask her if I would sound like an arrogant asshole by bringing it up.  Kristi doesn't think it will, so I'll blame her if I come off as such. ;)

I don't have a lot of money, but I hope to one day for the very reasons I stated above.
If you follow me on social media, this blog, Kinja, or know me personally, I am always tired and always working and writing.  Some people probably think I am not being truthful because I don't seem to promote the things I write online in relation to how much I am supposedly writing.

The thing is, I can't afford to donate enough money to make a difference to any cause, so I am writing for non-profit organizations and charities - lots of them. 
Web articles, physical brochures, blog posts, editing and proofreading, and even checking over one-on-one emails smaller NPOs are sending to those people and organizations from whom they are seeking assistance.
I don't get paid for this and I wouldn't want to.
Someone once told me that I have a gift for writing and an engaging way with words, so I want to give that away as much as I can to help people and organizations I believe in.  I do this with the understanding that nobody will ever know I had a part in it (which is why I am not naming any of these organizations).  But when I see a brochure or read a website with something I edited, tweaked, or wrote within it, I smile and don't mention to anyone.

The last time I talked about hiding something, it was concerning my diagnosis of clinical depression a few years ago.  Today, I said none of this to brag or tell you that what you're doing is wrong and what I am doing is right.  What I am telling you is to make sure you are putting your efforts in the right place and for the right reasons and not just following social trends.

 I will not be dumping a bucket of ice water on my head.

Be you.
Honesty is confidence.
Do what you are passionate about and never let anyone else make those decisions for you.

Grace and Peace,

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

There is a difference between being insensitive and being a realist.  The fun thing is that so many people can't seem to draw a line between the two and end up being disappointed with, well, everything.

Nothing seems to happen as a result of itself or an action of any sort.
What I mean is that we are always looking for a sign or purpose behind everything that goes on in our lives.  This was me for the majority of my life and I sort of expected everything to just fall into order the way it was "supposed to" and as long as I tried hard, I would succeed.  A few years later, I figured out that life didn't really work as I had envisioned and heard so many other people make so much of a fuss about.

I liked looking for signs which were beyond me and my control to somehow pave the way for whatever was in front of me.  You know, let God, the world, or my peers completely steer my life into whatever direction I should have been headed at that time.  
You have probably heard the term "Written in the sand." which asserts that the bigger decisions and choices in your life will be laid out in front of you in a very obvious fashion at some point in time, (we Christians call it the "ah-ha moment") which is neither realistic nor practical if you ever intend to get anywhere or be anything of substance. 

Until a few years ago, I was waiting for a big moment and for something huge to happen in my life as so many other people talk about, until I started paying attention to a distant family member and what she was going through with her (second) marriage.  Facebook posts about how great her husband was and how happy their marriage was flooded my newsfeed to the point that I removed her from my friend list because the squishy factor was so thick that it had to be a lie.

My favorite rapper, Common, once said:
"I hope the stars and the gods align me and you."

Many, many people, including my family member, tend to take that sort of wordplay seriously and the aforementioned Facebook example proves my point.  Actually, what I saw well over a year in advance in that case was a person who needed the reassurance of how great her life was which she achieved by fabricating public posts as a means of covering up her own misery.  She and her husband divorced less than a month after she had put up a post about how happy she was that God had put them together forever.  They just weren't compatible at the end of the day and it was a mutual separation.
The universe did not explode as a result.

Things like that set us up for disappointment and it isn't only in relationships, but everything else as well.  We tend to get pretty romanticized ideas about everything working out in a certain way and for some greater purpose - not by a supernatural design or a deeply rooted prophesy, but because that is what WE want.  Everyone wants that cool story of saying 
"And then he ran over my foot in the Wal-Mart parking lot, drove me to the hospital, and I knew it was destined to be."
"Then I cut four of my toes off while wearing flip-flops and mowing the lawn, but the big one was spared because the blade caught the leather strap at just the right angle. My toe was meant to be saved!"

Yeah, those are ridiculous, but do you understand what I am saying now?
I spent most of my life looking for a reason or purpose behind what was or wasn't happening in my life instead of taking the time to actually live my life and allow it to stay in motin.

Then I stopped having expectations and started letting life happen. 

At that point, I started living my life in a way that allowed me to have at least one adventure every single day.  These don't involve crazy happenings which create memorable stories very often, but I at least try to do something outside of my comfort zone everyday.  The only requirement for having your own adventure everyday is that you allow it to be personal, to YOU.  Not a single day has gone by in the past year when I haven't taken an opportunity to either learn a new skill, tweak one already existing, or put myself out on a limb in an attempt to better myself in some way or another.  

I learned that life is not about looking for signs in the sky or waiting for patterns to align in a certain way for happiness to be relevant. 

Life is all about how you react to circumstance, whether positive or negative and whether or not you fail or succeed - it doesn't matter.  You're growing.

The more signs you look for to tell you what to do, the more you miss the big picture that you could be creating of your own life and capturing the smaller moments as a bigger part of it.

Never let the wordplay, the "normal" things, the "typical" behavior, or any expectations have any sort of control over the direction of your future.

You can choose one path to walk, or another.
No matter which direction you choose, you will always have the ability to return as an even more incredible person.
Some things - most things- happen by chance and chance alone.

You determine your own future.
Grab it... 

Grace and Peace,