Go Within

“In onself lies the whole world and if you don’t know how to look and learn, the door is there and the key is in your hand, nobody on Earth can give you either the key or the door to open except yourself.” – Juddu Krishnamurti

After being pulled to go to the coast and lie on my back in the sand, listening to the music of the ocean for a few months now, I finally got to go this weekend. It was spectacular and just what I needed. Water is my greatest healer. I crave being around flowing water all the time. My dream place in somewhere in between a cottage next to a wild, roaring river, or next to the breaking waves of the expansive ocean. In all actuality, I have realized that we actually have the ability to cultivate the feelings that being in our favorite places creates within us whenever we want. Home and life are entirely what we make them.

I’ve seen a beautiful pattern unfold in my life this year. As I began to connect more deeply with myself, I began to see my tribe start to form around me. In a place where I used to feel out of place, I now feel at home. In a place where I felt like I’d never find my people, I find more of my tribe every day. While many people have moved back to this area as of late, overall, it is not the people or place that have changed. I am the one who has changed. Instead of believing that I would never find people to connect with deeply here, I began to put myself out there more, out of my comfort zone, and into public places more often. Instead of looking around and seeing only the heat waves and poor air quality, I began to seek rivers and lakes to cool me. I began to be grateful that I am a day trip’s drive away from the ocean AND the mountains! How many people have never gotten to see a fraction of the scenery that is readily available to me at any time? I basically started to see and be grateful for what was here vs what I had decided wasn’t here. Life got really beautiful when I shifted my way of viewing this place. It is our perception that shapes our view of the world, so when we adjust how we choose to see things, we change what we see.

The peace and happiness we say we seek is within our grasp, because these are things that are cultivated from within, never from without. It comes when we find deeper ways to connect with ourselves and those around us. Authenticity and vulnerability are keys to unlocking these deeper kinds of connections. Throw out the small talk, delete the filters, and shed the insecurities (or at least don’t allow them to hold you back). We are all human and we are all working to overcome the things we have been through. We are looking for ways to lessen the pain and increase the joy in our lives. Sometimes we are viscerally aware of what we’re seeking, and sometimes we get so caught up on what is being sold to us that we lose sight of the things that matter most. In order to get to the peace and happiness, we have to get real with ourselves. We have to be true to ourselves at all times. If there is something we’re feeling called to do, we need to do it. For me, that meant taking a life-long dream trip to Australia this year (I still need to put that experience into words). Some days it means saying no to spending time with someone when I’m just not feeling it. Sometimes it means going to the river and lying on a boulder while I meditate, journal, and/or read a book. Sometimes it means following my joy and going on dates with someone who loves to dance as much as I do and dancing our faces off. Sometimes it means going to the coast, lying on my back in the sand while I listen to the waves crash, and wading in the cold Pacific Ocean while I lovingly take in my surroundings and express my gratitude out loud for everything I have to be grateful for. Sometimes it means crying and allowing myself to feel whatever emotions are showing up for me, which is still a constant practice for me since I had nearly a lifetime of stuffing my feelings down as far as they would go. Sometimes it means staying home and hanging out with my cat, or taking a nap. Sometimes it means speaking my truth even if the people around me don’t really know what I am talking about, because it makes me feel more real and heck, anymore, I find more people to add to my tribe this way. After all, how can we find our tribe if we hold back and don’t speak our minds (our real, true minds)? I have seen deep connections come from speaking my truth, and I have also seen someone get curious about what I have to say, even if I’m saying things that are completely new to them. Gone are the days of me trying to conform to fit in. Gone are the days of trying to please other people or make them more comfortable at my expense. If there is anything I have learned from the challenges that I have faced so far in this life, it’s that it’s time for this life, this story, this movie, to star me as the main character! Life is short. It’s time to become the main character in your own story. Who do you want to be? What do you want to do? How much longer are you going to let others dictate your life? Begin to see your life as a work of art. What kind of art do you want to create in 2019?

We get bored in life when we hide behind our masks of conformity, keep our truths hidden, our dreams abandoned, and our joy unfollowed, or worse, uncovered. It’s time to cut through the bs (belief systems) that we’ve been fed. It doesn’t have to mean that you change absolutely everything you’re doing, but it does mean releasing what you’ve always done if what you want to experience is something different from what you’ve always known. If you’re wanting more happiness or if you’re tired of living the status quo, make a list of things that bring you joy, and start doing them! Seriously, contrary to popular belief, creating more happiness and peace in our lives can be EASY. A lot of the time, it involves changing things up and getting out of our comfort zones. As I have stated many times before, the juicy parts of life live outside of our comfort zones. What is one thing you can do today that will empower you in your new role as the starring character in your own story? No step taken towards living a life true to yourself is too small. Everything you think matters. Everything you do matters.

Thank you for reading along! If you enjoyed this post, please like and share it. Happy Holidays to all of my readers! Much love to you.

Spread Your Wings and Fly!

 

On Friday, I finally listened to my soul’s urging, and went on a nice, long hike. There are two things that light me up most in this life: connecting with people and being out in nature, the further into the wilderness, the better! The other day, I got to do both and it made me so happy!  Life is all about perspective as I have stated many times before in my posts. The other day, I would have liked to leave much earlier for my hike so that I’d have more time to hike to the farthest lake and to stop and enjoy the other beautiful spots along the way. But, I ended up being up late the night before doing some work and deciding where I wanted to hike, so I when my alarm went off at 4:30 am, I snoozed it and shut it off and got a few more hours of sleep. It worked out perfectly, because this meant that businesses were open as I drove into the park and I stopped and got a delicious green smoothie and hung posters in three businesses for Glennon Doyle’s appearance here on October 27th. I also hung my business card in the coffee shop, so it was a win-win kind of “late”. Since taking my leap of faith in May, I am really able to see how even the most simple of things happen just as they are supposed to and it’s awesome! We’re never really “late”, because we are always right where we’re supposed to be. All the time.

 

So, I continued to make my way up into the mountains, but got stopped by some road work. Likely, I sat there for a half hour or more. Many of us shut off our cars and got out to take in the view. I ended up talking with a woman visiting from London for most of the time. We talked about so many things including travel, how the mountains here were reminding her of some mountains in Italy, how friendly people in Australia are, how fearful people in the US tend to be and the fact that I see that it’s by design to keep us living small, prevent us from traveling, and to keep an “us-them” mentality, we talked about hiking solo and why I am so comfortable with it, my wildlife/fisheries career, guns in the US, people in the US thinking they need to take guns hiking with them to be “safe”, the video game Fortnite and the ridiculousness of having instances of kids going to school and shooting other kids while we have one of the most popular games teaching them about every gun in existence and that their goal should be to be the last man standing, but with no blood. Desensitized much?! We touched on a few other things too, but you get it. We connected about real things. I cherish times when I get to connect with people in a real way on so many levels.

 

When I hike, I get so thrilled to be out on the trail that I experience an overwhelming sense of mental, physical, and spiritual wellness. Do you know what I’m talking about? When you’re out doing something that makes you feel so alive that you gain a new level of clarity and perspective on life? So, as I was hiking, I was also thinking about life. As I walked and thought about how free hiking makes me feel, I kept seeing little things on the trail that looked like wings to me. A blot painting class the night before had my mind focused on the messages that can reach us through a multitude of ways. I connected the freedom I was feeling with these wings. Then I started digging deeper. The wings weren’t wings of course, but instead were the little scales from pine cones. As I dug deeper, I started thinking about the journey a pine cone takes to complete the life cycle of the trees, and how it relates to the journey we’ve all been asked to take this year.

 

Pine cones started their lives high up in the trees, safe and secure and nourished. But in order to disperse their seeds, they have to fall to ground, break open, and be uncomfortable on the ground so that they can achieve freedom from the tree. Animals like squirrels break them apart into what looks like little wings dotting the trail. Some of the seeds inside are eaten, but many are spread so that they can take root to create new life in the form of a tree.  I started thinking about this year and how similar our lives have been to that of the pine cone. We’ve been asked to leap or forced to leap into the unknown as we’ve set intentions that we want more from this life than the daily grind that we had grown accustomed to. We’ve asked for more peace and joy. We’ve asked for deeper connections and situations that leave us feeling most alive. Getting to those things requires that the things no longer serving us be removed to make room for the new life we’re dreaming of to enter. We can’t keep all of the old furniture and expect more to come in when there’s no room for it. So we’ve been asked to clear our lives of the toxic relationships, the job that was bringing us down and/or making us sick, things that we’ve developed an addiction to, and the living environment that’s not conducive to our growth and expansion. 2018 has been a difficult one for many, yet exciting at the same time. We are being asked to live more in the present moment and stop trying to predict the future or control the outcome of every area of our lives. We have been asked to dig deep and find what it is that makes us tick, what makes us feel most alive, and we’re being asked to do that more!

 

Sequoia trees need fire for their seed dispersal.  This year has been like a fire to come and burn away everything that has been holding us back, making us feel separate and making us live small lives.  The fire is taking away all that doesn’t serve us and it is giving us wings with which we can fly through the rest of this year and into next year with more power, more courage, and a bigger footprint than we have ever allowed ourselves to have before.  It’s quite beautiful really.  Realize that the fire is not meant to destroy YOU it’s meant to break you out of your shell, to get you to put down your mask so that you can do all that you came to this world to do.  It’s been an uncomfortable process and it’s going to continue to be uncomfortable until we realize that we are the light that we see in others.  We are meant to break down all of our limiting beliefs and barriers so that we can live our best, limitless lives like we were always intended to.  We’ve broken open, we’ve planted our seeds, and now it’s time to grow into the person we are being asked to be so that we can fulfill our life’s purpose and impact this world like only each of us can. We’ve got to become the people needed for the next level of our lives. It’s a requirement for all of us, so the less you fight the process and go with the flow and do what is being asked of you, the easier time you will have with it.

 

It’s time to spread our wings and fly while we trust that the seeds we have planted with our intentions and our inspired actions are going to sprout into the life that we’ve been dreaming about! Trust, my friends. Trust. The seeds are growing in my life and I am blown away at what the work I have done to align with my higher self has created in my life! We’ve all planted our seeds at different times, so we’re all going to see them start to grow at different times. It does NOT mean that some people’s seeds will grow while other people’s won’t. Seeds don’t work that way and neither do our lives. Rather than getting caught up in comparisons with your journey and other people’s journeys, choose to get inspired by the sprouts appearing in their lives. See that as proof that it’s just a matter of time before your own seeds sprout! As you are grateful for the beauty appearing in the lives of those you love, you will raise your frequency to help speed up the manifestations in your own life. If you want something, rather than getting caught up on your intense desire for it, be extra grateful to all that you have now, in this moment, and all that others have that match what you want and before you know it, all that you desire will be yours. Life is not a competition like we’ve been made to believe, and the more love and happiness we show others, the faster we will all proceed to living our best lives.

 

The energy from this fire is going to give us all that we need to propel us through the rest of this year and into the start of next year.

 

I made a video about this when I was out hiking that I’ve posted to my YouTube Channel.

 

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this post, please like and share it. Sending you all so much love!

 

Following my Joy All the Way to Australia!

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Ever since I was a teenager, I have been drawn to Australia!  I have been dreaming of traveling there for my entire adult life.  For many years, I dreamt of traveling to Cairns to see the Great Barrier Reef.  In college, I remember watching documentaries about Australia and the Aboriginal People there in the library some evenings.  I even tried to scheme ways to study abroad and take marine biology classes at James Cook University.  Unfortunately, the college that I attended was not open to creating a study abroad program with James Cook, so I graduated college having never studied abroad.  Life happened, I graduated college and jumped into a really cool internship with the US Fish and Wildlife Service where I lived in a remote spot in the Alaskan backcountry for a summer studying seabirds amongst the brown bears.  After that, I jumped into piecing together my life and work along the way.  You know how that goes.  I had an amazing time traveling the United States as a nomad living from my car and camping, hiking, and backpacking for my various Wildlife and Fisheries field biologist jobs, so I am definitely not complaining in the slightest with how I have chosen to live my life.  But, there has always been a part of me longing to see Australia.  And this June, I am making my dream come true and will be traveling to Western Australia (from Perth to Broome) to experience the wild places there for myself!

Maybe you have read along during this blogging journey of mine and have come to know a bit about my health journey.  But in case you’re new to my blog (Welcome!), I’ll sum it up by saying that shortly after having my son, my life was completely disrupted when I abruptly lost my health (read Lost: Part 1 HERE and Looking for the Map: Part 2 HERE) to an unknown cause.  For a number of years, my life was turned upside down as I sought answers and healing from many different practitioners and specialists with no success.  I could still taste the freedom of the very active lifestyle that I had been so graciously blessed to live, yet I had a hard time doing the basic tasks of living in my day-to-day life.  It seemed surreal, and I felt beaten and broken many times as I was going through it.

What I have learned along my journey is that our health is our number one asset.  And we need to be grateful when we have good health, and appreciate all that our bodies afford us to do.  Because not having our health usually means that we don’t have the ability to use our bodies to do the things that we enjoy the most, or we don’t have the energy we need to do the things we love.  We need to do our best to treat our bodies well, so that they’re better able to function and serve us on our journeys.  But, our souls know that sometimes the best things in life come to us, and from us, when we have experienced a complete loss of health and/or a near death experience.  It is from this place that I have gained a sense of gratitude for all that I have and experience in this life.  I see the world through a completely different lens now.  And for this perspective, I will be forever grateful.

I have also come to realize that the whole purpose of life is to experience JOY!  It’s not about all of the material things. It’s not about achieving some status or ranking.  We are meant to follow our bliss.  In THIS moment.  We are not supposed to wait to live our joy.  We are not supposed to put it off for another day, or save it for retirement.  We have to fill our lives with joy now while we’re able, because tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us.  If you are doing what you love, you are living your purpose.

But, going to Australia isn’t the only way we can experience joy.  Each one of us has different things that bring us joy.  For me, I have learned that my joy comes from simple pleasures like spending quality time with my son, hot baths with coconut oil and bath salts, a morning routine of yoga, affirmations, and positive videos, hiking in beautiful places, and reading on a boulder next to the river.  My joy also comes from getting to know new people, sleeping under the stars, jumping off rocks into lakes and rivers, traveling to new places, and boogie boarding in the ocean to name a few.  It is important that if you want to live life with more joy, that you start consistently doing things that bring you joy.  What can you do today to live more joyfully?

It could seem sad that it’s taken me 20 years to make my way to Australia and fulfill a long-time dream.  But, just like everything else in my life, I see how this experience is showing up for me in divine timing.  I am going to appreciate every minute of the experience in a way that I would not have when I was 18.  I am choosing to leave my nursing job that has been causing so much stress that it has led to health problems, and I am taking a leap into the unknown while I put my health and my joy FIRST.  It is empowering and liberating!!  It feels amazing to put my health first, especially since I have usually been one to put everyone else’s needs before my own.  Can you relate?  I feel like I am finally making the most important stand for myself in this life.  Not to mention how exhilarating it is to know that I will be in Australia in less than 20 days where I will be on an adventure tour hiking, sleeping under the stars every night, getting to know new people, jumping into swimming holes, snorkeling with whale sharks, abseiling into red rock canyons, seeing and exploring new places, and seeing all kinds of new plants and animals!!!!  Excitement doesn’t even touch what I am feeling!  What brings you joy?  How often do you do things that bring you joy?

If you’d like guidance on how to follow your intuition to more joy in your own life, contact me at peacefuljellyfish@gmail.com!

If you enjoyed this post, please like and share it!  Thank you!

Watch Xavier Rudd’s video for “Follow the Sun” HERE.  Xavier Rudd is an AMAZING musician!  If you ever have the chance to see him live, take it!  Xavier is aptly from Australia and doesn’t make it to the US very often.

Seize the Day!

I had this weekend off, and my son was with his Dad.  On Friday, I had a busy and stressful day at work, and I was exhausted that night.  I had wanted to figure out something fun to do for the weekend, but when I went to bed Friday night, I was thinking that I would maybe stay home, take a yoga and massage class, and clean my house.  I had mentioned to a few people that I was trying to plan a hike or something fun for my weekend, so when I woke up, I had a text from my sister saying “I hope you get to do something fun today!”  And that was all it took.  I snapped myself out of the tired haze, and was reminded of my choice to use my days off to the fullest.  So, I started looking at weather in various places in California. At home, where I was possibly going to hike, there was a chance of rain.  But on the coast, the weather was expected to be sunny with high temps ranging from 70-75 degrees F, depending on location.  I held the thought of going to the coast in my head, and began to get excited.  Then, I started to think of the various places.  Then it dawned on me that I had seen that there was going to be a band playing at a place I’ve been to and liked in Santa Cruz, so I looked it up.  A funk band!  Perfect!  I decided I might as well go to Santa Cruz, my favorite, if I was going to the coast!  I got even more excited!  So, I looked up an airbnb in the area and booked it.  Then I thought about how I have been saying that I wanted to take a surfing lesson for at least a few years, but that I hadn’t done it.  I had even researched places that offer lessons in Santa Cruz before, so I looked them up and called a place.  When I asked if this was a good time of year for a lesson, the guy said “we give lessons all year-long here, after all, the water is always wet,” which made sense.  With Saturday and Sunday off and my son having a game Sunday (today), I ended up deciding that it might be better to take an afternoon surf lesson on Saturday once I arrived in Santa Cruz, so that I didn’t have to feel rushed today.  I gave the guy a call again when I was getting close to see if they’d have a lesson at the time soon after I arrived, and he said they were!  So it was set.  Just like that, I went from having NO plans, to having a super amazing plan!

I got to Santa Cruz around 2:30 pm, and had my lesson from 3:30 to 5:30 pm.  I showed up and paid at the little covered table on the beach, got sized for a wet suit and then waited for our instructor to come out of the water from the previous class.  There were three of us in the lesson, me and a father-teenage son pair.  We were given surf boards that were HUGE (10 feet long, so almost double my height!), because the instructor said that big boards were easier for beginners.  The instructor was really great with Club Ed Surf School (website HERE)!  In true Jammie fashion, I was led to the instructor whose wife has spent a lot of time as a patient in various hospitals.  We connected through it, and held a really great conversation about our experience with hospitals and various medications that his wife and I both had in common at one time.  I should mention that when I go on one of these solo trips, I always set my intentions for the trip out loud on my way to wherever I am going.  For this trip, I asked to be guided to live in joy and to have so much fun.  I also asked to have connections with people along the way.  I see this conversation with the instructor as that connection.  It was about 70 degrees and sunny.  The instruction for how to get to a standing position on the surf board while we were still on the beach reminded me a lot of various yoga poses!  Then we headed into the water, and we started paddling.  And paddling.  And paddling.  And I wished that I had been doing more yoga in recent times to strengthen my arms and shoulders!  Paddling at first felt easy of course, but towards the end of the two hours, my arms were toast, and my instructor so kindly towed me behind him to give me a rest, but help get me a few more waves.  I was able to stand up and ride multiple waves!  Being out in the water was so awesome on its own, but riding the waves in felt so exhilarating!  Other than when my arms entered noodle status in the water, I don’t think I stopped smiling for most of the two-hour lesson!  I didn’t mind falling off my board or bailing so I didn’t run into other surfers in the slightest!  I had zero fear in the water.  Even with tired arms, I kept paddling, still intent on catching the last waves of the lesson.  As we exited the water at the end of the lesson, I was laughing and just feeling so alive!  Surfing was one of the most fun things that I have EVER done!  It’s up there with white water rafting!  I am so happy that I finally made it happen!  It makes me want to build my upper body strength, so that I can surf more easily and more often.  I think it’s good when the things we love push us to want to better ourselves in some way.  Do you have something that you’ve been wanting to try that you keep putting off?  Could you make a plan to do it soon?  What is stopping you?  For me, I kept waiting for the right time.  A day to myself at the beach when I had the spare money to spend on a lesson.  One or both of those things seemed to always be missing, so I just kept putting it off.  But I am so happy that I finally did it!  And I now have another thing to add to my list of fun things to do that make me feel most alive!

Speaking of yoga, I was just saying that I want to start making three things in my life priorities because of how good they make me feel, and of how good they are for me.  I know that I should be treating the three things as NEEDS vs. wants.  For me, when I call something a “need”, it places that thing ahead of other things that require my money or my time and effort.  It puts them up there with food and water.  One of them is yoga.  Yoga makes me stronger and more flexible, and it also calms and relaxes me and leaves me with an overall sense of peace.  I was going every week for a while, but my practice dropped off when the studio I go to changed hands and my favorite instructor stopped teaching there.  I have yet to go consistently since then.  I thought I’d practice at home, but you know how that goes.  For me, it doesn’t happen.  I know that a more consistent yoga practice would give me the upper body strength that I need for surfing.  My surfing would also benefit from becoming stronger in the yoga poses that are similar to the way I need to move and balance my body to be able to stand on the surf board.

Another need I listed is drumming.  I’ve been taking an African drumming class in the town where I live off and on since early 2016.  In class, we learn to play the djembe, and also the sangban, dundun, and kinkinee drums.  The latter three drums require you to play two different rhythms at the same time, which felt impossible when I was first learning.  I likened it to the exercise where you pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time.  But with time, I learned, and now it feels like riding a bike, even if I don’t play the drums for a few months, I can go back and am still able to play.  You can see a video of my instructor, Wadaba, HERE.  In this video, he’s playing two djembes at the same time.  More commonly, one djembe is played at a time.  He is from Guinea in West Africa.  He grew up playing drums, and is a world-renowned master drummer.  I am very lucky to have him teaching in my town.  If you’re local and interested in playing the drums, reach out to me, and I can give you the details for our weekly class.  First class is free and you can rent a drum from Wadaba if you plan in advance.  I especially like playing the larger of the latter three drums, the dundun.  It has such a big, deep, powerful sound.  There is an annual workshop held in the mountains here in California every August called Camp Fareta.  I have been so happy to get to go for part of it the last two summers.  The best African drummers and dancers from all over the world come here to teach!  And students also travel from all over the world to learn! It’s really incredible to gather with such a welcoming community of people for the common goal of experiencing the singing, dancing, and drumming of Africa.  One of my favorite classes that I took this past August was a sangban dance class.  I found this fun video HERE of a flash mob group in Australia doing a dundun dance with moves similar to those I learned in class with the sangban.  I recognize the lead woman on this video from Camp Fareta.  As a kid, I was always tapping and drumming on things, which annoyed my parents.  In college, I was always fascinated by the African drum group on campus that would perform locally.  We also had several drummers from various places visit campus to perform.  I always loved seeing the performances, but never got involved.  When I learned of the drumming class here, I immediately wanted to try it, but at first, I tried to get friends to go with me.  That wasn’t happening, so eventually my urge to go got stronger, and my need to have someone go with me got weaker, so I went.  I figured that with the level of urging that I was feeling, I was either going to go and meet someone significant to my life in the class, or I was going to already know how to play drums.  In part, both were true.  The group of people in that class has added so much value to my life, and has ultimately connected me to the much larger community of drummers throughout the world.  I also picked up drumming rather easily.  In my first class, I remember Wadaba and his wife, Keio, being surprised that I had never played a musical instrument before.  Wadaba noticed that mine and his hands are very similar in size and shape.  I think that I must have played the drum in a past life.  At any rate, drumming feels good.  And when you have a group of 10 or 12 people drumming together, it creates a  powerful energy unlike anything else.

The last thing that I want to promote to a need in my life is meditation.  I started meditating back in the summer of 2015.  It was the thing that I committed to during a Simple Shift course that I took which was based on the premise that making small, simple changes to our lives could lead to big results.  During a rough patch in the summer of 2015, I used meditation as my main coping mechanism.  When I felt anxious or overwhelmed, I would meditate.  During one week, I was meditating for various lengths of time several times a day.  The effects of meditation are easier experienced than explained, but I will try.  Now mind you, for me, meditation did not offer me an immediate change, but over time, I noticed a few things shift in my life.  First, my anxiety and stress decreased.  And when I did get stressed, I found that meditating, even if only for 5 minutes, would be enough to quiet the hamsters in my head and bring me back to a place of peace.  It gave me a sense of inner peace.  After consistently meditating for a few months, I noticed that I was able to see how things were connected and the lessons that could be gleaned from my trials.  I could see the benefit to the challenges in my life, and could sense that they were leading me to something bigger and better.  I also come out of meditation sometimes clearly knowing what my next step should be, or what I should do that day.  I notice that doing a long solo hike gives way to a kind of meditative state for me.  When I am hiking for 10 or 12 miles, at first, I may be thinking about things in my life and singing songs to myself, but then there comes a point when I am just in the moment, focused on my steps, and feeling my breath.  I get in a groove and just flow.  The cares of other areas of my life vanish, and I am left alone, with my own body, and my own breath.  But, like drumming and yoga, I haven’t always made meditation a priority.  If you feel so inclined, meditation can be a great way to tune into your own intuition and calm your mind’s chatter.  It can be as simple as getting comfortable and closing your eyes for a few minutes, even 5 minutes helps, and focusing on your breath.  If thoughts move in, acknowledge them and then let them go and return to focusing on your breath.  Meditation can be that simple.  Don’t get discouraged if you try it and then don’t notice anything different.  Keep it up.  It takes time and changes may be small at first.  We have gotten to be so accustomed to instant gratification that we sometimes lose sight that most things worthwhile in this world cannot be gained in an instant.  What are some things that fill you with a lot of joy or make you feel really good that you could move to your “needs” list?

As far as doing the things that have been on your to-do list or bucket list for a while now, in general, I think we usually put our dreams on the back-burner while we work to pay our bills, or while we do what other people tell us we should be doing instead.  But do we really want other people, or society to dictate the course of our one, short life?  For me, it took almost dying to realize the preciousness of today, of each moment.  We all get to decide when we will take the step to live our life the way that we want to.  You can wait until your life is almost taken from you to realize how amazing it is that you woke up and got to live another day today, or you can realize it right now.  It’s up to you.  I, too, still put things off, like surfing.  I, too, get sucked into a daily routine that doesn’t always feel satisfying.  Change takes time, especially if you’re used to going along with status quo and ignoring your inner urges and passions in lieu of those that the world around you tells you are important.  When I get overwhelmed with anything new, I like to remind myself that I don’t need to have everything figured out, I just need to take a step in the direction that I want to go.  You don’t need to be able to see the whole staircase in order to take the next step.  Join me in working to trust that the next steps, after that first one, will appear in due time.

It is also helpful when I remind myself that I will never get different results in life by doing the things that I have always done.  If I do the things I have always done, I can expect more of the same.  That’s fine as long as I am happy with where I am.  But, it’s  when I go out on a limb and try new things that I can discover new passions that can then lead me to new people, places, and things.  I have heard insanity defined as doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.  This weekend, by finally getting out and trying surfing, and by lining up a night with live music that I could dance to, I created one of the best days I have EVER had!!  I actually screamed in excitement as I was driving from my surf lesson to the airbnb so that I could get ready to go out and see the band!  Yes, I loved surfing THAT much!!  After 2 hours in the water paddling and surfing, and another almost 4 hours of dancing to the music of an awesome funk band called Katdelic, I went to bed last night with a happily tired body, a very grateful heart, and a soul that was beaming with pure, absolute joy!  (check out Katdelic if you ever have the chance!  They put on one of the best shows I have ever seen!)  What are you waiting for?  What activities could you plan for your next day off that would leave you feeling like you just had the best day of your life?  What is it that you enjoy so much that you smile the whole time you’re doing it?  What makes you feel like a kid again?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

If you’re waiting for a time when you’ll have an extended amount of days off to do things, you may never get anything done.  Let me assure you that you can do a lot in one or two days.  With two days off, I drove to the coast (just over 3 hours) for the night, surfed, and saw live music all in one day.  With three days off, I drove 8 hours to Zion National Park and did a hike on each of the three days before driving back on the third day.  I have friends who consistently go on epic hikes on their two weekend days off.  Sometimes living life to the fullest will require that you treat your day off and your fun activities like a job.  Get up before the sun rises and get moving!  Get out there and seize the day!

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Listen to Brett Dennen’s song “Blessed” HERE