adventure awaits.

Unfortunately for us, the most common question a stranger will inquire about us is “What do you do for a living?/What are you studying?” (if you’re a student). Why is this unfortunate? Because it indirectly means they’re judging you. Even with the most kind and naive intentions, this question is forming the basis of other’s opinion about you. Other than your name, it is what people associate you by. However, I could care less about what someone does for a living, I want to know their passions, which might be what they do for a living, but it might not be. I’m curious about what makes their heart beat fast and what they could talk for hours about without taking a breath. Anyway, what’s more important to me is where you’ve been and what you’ve seen. Your adventures. Your experiences are far more valuable than money. So, if you want to have adventures, let me explain some basic rules.

  1. Having adventures does not mean you have to travel somewhere far away.                         …Or actually travel at all. Although at some point in your life you should travel far, not all your adventures have to be somewhere on the other side of the world. To me, adventures can be discovering something that has be right in front of your eyes, just looking at it in a new way.
  2.  Don’t go to see something specific, go and discover and look beyond what you’re expecting.                                                                                                                                                   Don’t go to see, go AND see. Often when we have plans to travel, we also have expectations. Expectations and planning can give us a basis for what our adventure will entail, but don’t make an itinerary. Adventuring involves exploring, trying new things, and looking beyond what you’re expecting to see to find the extraordinary.
  3.  Don’t limit yourself.                                                                                                                       The point of adventuring is going beyond what you would experience in a normal day. So don’t apply any limitations. Try things that scare you. Try things that put you out of your comfort zone. More often than not, you’ll probably surprise yourself with your ability to learn a new skill or do something you’ve never done before.
  4. Don’t go with predetermined expectations.                                                                        There is no possible way to expect or predict what you will see and discover, the magnitude is unfathomable until you experience it in real life. So don’t even bother coming with prepared itineraries or images of where you’re going. The fact is that your plans will change. It is inevitable. They an change for a multitude of reasons, most of which are out of your control. So instead of setting your minute-to-minute plans up for failure, don’t make any, especially if your one of those people that gets upset when things don’t go according to plan.
  5. You can’t plan fun.                                                                                                                               It is true. Enter each new opportunity with an open mind, even if it seems like something you normally wouldn’t do, it might be really fun. It might also suck but you will never know unless you embrace every opportunity that comes your way. Some of the most fun you’ll have might be not really doing anything at all but simply having a mini adventure with awesome people that make you laugh.
  6. Do something you’ve never done before.                                                                                 The key to a fulfilled life, at least in my opinion, is having a balance between change and routine. When you’re adventuring, embrace change. Throw your routine out the window for  at least a few hours. Try living like someone else. Or try a new flavor of ice cream (because, let’s be honest, there’s not a bad one). Learn a new language, or at least a few words. Try painting. And if you’re already a painter, try a new medium. Listen to a band you’ve never heard before, preferably one that isn’t widely known. Adventure can be anything, but once it becomes a new norm for you, find something else new to try.
  7. See old things in a new way.                                                                                                             So maybe you’re in desperate need of an adventure but don’t have the opportunity to even leave your house. Fear not! One of the most important aspects of adventuring is clearing your mind of the preconceived and opening doors to new ways of thought. If you’re stuck at home, look out your window. I bet there are things you’ve looked at a million times but have never seen. Take some time to notice what is around you. The sad part about life is that beautiful things happen all around us, natural phenomena so perfect and extraordinary that it takes your breath away. These things will continue to happen whether your  notice them or not. They are always happening at a constant pace and they don’t stop if you’re too busy to notice them. Maybe wake up a little earlier to watch the sun rise. Or take a moment and just watch as it’s raining. Listen to the birds chirp (you’ll miss them when they’re gone for the winter).

The recipe for adventure can be as simple or as complex as you can make it. And I urge you to have adventures, both big and small. Never let a busy and monotonous schedule keep you trapped inside a cage from which you feel you cannot escape. The hope is that we have the power to choose our own adventures. So, go!

“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time your spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” – Jack Kerouac

Advertisements

what to do when you’re not saving the world.

I believe in moments. I’m a person who fears monotony and I believe that it is in those little, unexpected moments that we can avoid monotony. I believe in constantly discovering and trying new things. I’m undeniably scared of falling into a routine that remains the same every day. I am afraid of being in one place for too long. Here’s the thing though, the nature of life allows for only a select few of those redefining moments. Maybe your breath will be taken away today, but maybe it wont.  Then what?

I’m having trouble dealing with the reality which is that everyday can’t be life-changing. I understand this idea, but it is hard when it seems like you haven’t had a moment in a long time. So when you’re not climbing a mountain or making a difference or changing the world, what do you do?

Choose optimism. I know this sounds anything but original but there is power in making something great about everyday. There will be days when your faith will be restored in humanity and I hope you have a lot of those days but there will also be days when you will be reminded that this world sucks. But I hope that chose to see the parts that don’t suck. I hope you forgive the people who do you wrong, whether they cut you off, didn’t use their turn signal or stole from you, I hope you don’t lose your hope in humanity. Complaining, especially about other people or really anything at all removes moments in time where you could be thanking God for surrounding us with an amazing world. Complaining sells the world short. Find the ways that make it great and believe in those ways despite the others.

Have little adventures. And I mean little. Your adventure might be reading a book for a few minutes or it might be talking a longer walk to class while listening to some good music. Some adventures are really BIG! And you might have your expectations set high but that doesn’t mean that normal days don’t have something special to offer.

Accept it. Even though your Instagram profile shows nothing but you taking hikes or helping feed the hungry or dressing up for fancy parties there might be days where you’re sitting in sweat pants surrounded by piles of homework, and its okay if that’s all you do that day. Just don’t make that everyday.

I hope you have an adventure today. Thanks for supporting my blog today and always.

The useless days will add up to something. The shitty waitressing jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading poetry and story collections and novels…These things are your becoming. -Cheryl Strayed

 

Feel. Struggle. Be. (without the whole world watching)

In an image-obsessed world we tend to try to capture who we are with pictures or words. Our posts aren’t going to accurately reflect who we actually are. How naive of us to think that we can define ourselves with such concrete and subjective measures? A word has a meaning that remains the same forever, it might have slightly different connotations to different people but its overall definition remains the same. Pictures are just a screenshot of a moment from a single viewpoint in time. There is so much you can’t see in pictures. A picture can’t compare to reality because it’s missing so much. I think pictures have their purpose and I love pictures because they allow us to remember important moments in our lives. They act as a trigger to meaningful memories. They wont have this effect on others though. They can’t convey the feelings you have felt from those moments or the atmosphere of where the picture was taken.

Its those things that define us. Experiences, emotions, thoughts, and human relationships are what make us who we are. The most important moments in your life are going to be little and they aren’t going to mean anything to others. We need to stop sacrificing experiences by trying to capture the moment. If you’re at a concert. listen to the music. Let it surround you and fill your whole body. Pictures and videos cannot recreate the the atmosphere of the crowd or the booming bass in your chest.

If you’re outside, enjoy what’s around you. Notice details you’ve overlooked previously. Think of everything you don’t even know exists because you’ve disregarded it previously. You may have seen something many times or walked past it, but have you really seen it? Notice the way the veins of every leaf branch out from the center and how beautiful nature is. Notice the pattern and texture of the bark on the trees. Notice how when you look into the sky, nothing lies between your eyes and outer space, try to fathom ho much space that is. Notice how the wind feels against your face when you’re riding your bike. See things without preconceived definitions, see them like you’re seeing them for the first time. Question and explore.

Tell the people that mean the most to you how much you appreciate who they are, but don’t tell the whole world. Why would the whole world need to know? Proving to the rest of the world how you feel about people takes away from their importance. Have meaningful conversation. There isn’t a point in being something you’re not.

Our world is fast-paced and busy. We often don’t have time for ourselves, so when we do get that rare opportunity, don’t waste it by taking pictures, especially if those pictures are going to be used to make people have a certain image of yourself. You know who you are and the people that mean the most to you know too. Everyone else doesn’t deserve to see how special you are. You’re a combination of every feeling you’ve ever had. There is a part of you that comes from those nights when you sit alone and think. There is a part of you that comes from little moments you’ve experienced when no on is around. Humans are complex and intricate, even though most of the time we like to push that part out of ourselves in attempts to provide an image people will desire. We like to pretend we don’t feel, because that makes us look vulnerable. We like to pretend we don’t have struggles because that makes us look weak. We like to pretend that we’re not different. Feel. Struggle. Be. And the whole world doesn’t need to see you do it.

IMG_5134

Regardless of what happens today, make it great. Happy Monday, friends.

Idealism vs. Practicality

This is a war I face everyday. It’s a tight war, it isn’t a battle where one side clearly has the upper hand. And I’m really stuck. Do I do what love? Or do I do what is practical? If only I was involved, the choice would be easy. But I am not the only one involved. There is money to worry about and time and the job market and a lot of other shit that makes my decision seem like either way I chose, it will be wrong.

One of the things I do when I don’t know something is I listen to other people, I see what they have experienced. I’ve listened to people say to follow the idealism route, the route that won’t make you rich but will make you happy. They tell you to live in the moment and love what you do. Then I hear the people that say, “You’re never going to love what you do, at least not all of the time.”

I know that I in no way have enough life experience to give anyone advice on this matter but I think the decision isn’t as two sided as I like to think it is. Practicality? Who is to tell me whether or not I’m living a practical life. To me, practicality is subjective. Maybe some people think it’s practical to go to college and earn a four-year degree and then immediately get married and have kids, all while having a stable and financially secure job. Although this seems pretty practical to me, it might not be everyone’s definition of practicality. Some people thrive on financial security and need that in their life while others accept the fact that they’re going to have to live on less while they pay for things like traveling and higher education. Idealism on the other hand, although subjective, can also be practical. I still think that’s possible! I’m not trying to be naive, I know everyday can’t be amazing because that would actually take away from your really good days but I do think that there is a way to made your version of ideal, practical. It might take some thinking, it’s not going to be a direct route or the same one that everyone takes.

I’m inspired by the people living a idealistic life and when I hear about them I begin to think it would be possible for me. When I hear about people who took on the world head on and found a purpose doing what they love , I realize it is possible. Find those people and listen to them. Find a role model let them help you.

Right now, I don’t have a plan anymore. I can’t tell you where I’ll be in ten years but that’s exciting. I’m learning so much and actually enjoying it. I actually have time to explore and learn and I am extremely grateful for this opportunity. Before I reached this conclusion though, I was scared. The unknown used to scare me but now I realize it is more scary to stay on a path I knew wasn’t for me.

So I think our new goal shouldn’t be deciding which one we should choose. We should have a goal to find a way to make our version of ideal practical and to do so we might even need to adjust our definition of practicality.

The Power of Prayer

While I was in Harlem one of the things we did was go on a prayer walk throughout the community, we made some stops and prayed for the places we stopped at, that they would be accepting of everyone, that they would only be used for good, that somehow people could connect with God when they visited each place, and that the city would continue to grow and thrive in positive ways. The stops included a church, a park, and 125th St, which was the main area of Harlem with stores and businesses. Prayer is not a new idea to me. I’ve prayed countless times in my life. What I didn’t realize is that I was often distracted from my faith. Not even in bad ways, I was distracted by things like school, work, and family. All of these aspects of my life are necessary but as I look back, even just a year ago, I found my prayers were often cries for help, a last resort when my earthly attempts to solve my problems had failed. The prayer walk allowed me to realize the power of prayer. The problems in Harlem were big. A lot of challenges that our team encountered were the feelings of not being able to do enough. Although we did our best, the community was still struggling with large populations of homelessness and poverty. We never expected to be able to go for a week and miraculously solve every problem but a feeling of sadness came over us as we realized the people we helped feed each day were still going to be hungry when we left and returned to Ohio. I learned that praying should happen when times are really good, as well as when we are in need of the most help. This seems obvious but I think it is more difficult to find the time/need to pray when we feel very happy/blessed. God deserves thanks! He is the creator of every good thing. Every good thing. I can’t even begin to think of every good thing God has placed in my life but I know it is much more than I could ever thank Him for. My goal is to try harder though.

Not only did I realize the power in giving God thanks but also in asking for help. As humans, we are hesitant to ask for help, from anyone. Society and maybe even people in our own lives lead us to believe that we are weak if we can’t do something on our own. For me, it wasn’t so much that I thought I didn’t need help, but that I didn’t ask for it enough. Praying should be the first thing I do in attempting to solve a problem/struggle, not the last. I am trying harder to pray before things I know will be challenging. Overall, I am trying harder to pray MORE. The truth is that the world has really big problems and although we can make a difference, we can’t solve them by ourselves.

The scope of things we can pray for is infinite. God wants to hear our voice, He knows we live in a fallen creation and He knows that we can’t do it alone. That was another thing Harlem taught me, I never thought to pray over building for the future that lies ahead. I never though to pray in a park that it would not be known as a dangerous place but that people would see God in the beautiful nature. Sometimes we need reminded of that, that we can pray about everything, there is no aspect of life that God doesn’t want to be a part of.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4 : 6-7

Harlem Post #1

I could write for days about my experiences in Harlem, NY, but one of the most unexpected events was something so simple. It isn’t bound to the streets of Harlem, it can happen anywhere. I take it for granted everyday. It’s listening. Listening and actually hearing. Hearing the stories from the people of Harlem. Stories in their rawest form, unaltered from actuality. Stories that have been silenced from others who don’t have time to hear them or hushed by people in disbelief of their truth.

We hear all the time that speaking is what makes a good leader. No one is ever reminded that the ability to listen is what makes a good human being. Listening is difficult because we spend our focus on what we say. We think that what we say will make a difference in someone’s life. We have the focus always on ourselves. Listening allows us to focus completely on someone else, trying to understand their experiences. What I’ve found is that the troubles in some people’s lives arise from not being heard. I didn’t realize is how hopeless it makes someone feel when they have no one to listen to them.. It makes people feel like no one has time to hear about their problems, much less want to help them. I am not above this. I too need people in my life to listen to me, even if they can’t do anything to help me, it feels better when I talk about whatever it is that’s bothering me.

On my last day in Harlem,  I was handing out water for people who were eating lunch at a soup kitchen. I started talking to a man sitting at one of the tables who told me people called him King George. He was very thankful and appreciative with what our group was doing for him and his community. He asked me where I was from and what my interests were. He told me he was very interested in music and he even sang to me a song he had written himself. He told me about how God was always present in his life, even if he didn’t see it at first. He then told me his addiction to alcohol and his battle with cancer. He made sure to tell me that he always maintained his sense of joy and trust in God, even when situations weren’t good. He told me that having money and fame creates more problems than the problems caused by not having any money and that life’s real treasures were joy and helping others. He talked about so much, I wish I could remember each word. We talked for close to an hour even after the chairs were being put away and the tables were being cleaned. At that moment, I wasn’t thinking about what time it was or what else I could be doing that would be more productive. God needed me right where I was. Maybe George needed someone to listen to him, but I needed to hear everything he said. He was a man of admirable faith even in situations where I know I would’ve been uncomfortable, worried, and hopeless. He reminded me that even though we were completely different, he was close to 70 and I am 20, he was from the nation’s largest city and I am from a small rural town, we were able to relate and learn from each other. It wasn’t the typical feeling you get on a mission trip when you know you’ve helped someone in need or you give money to the poor, this connection was two-sided. It wasn’t just a free handout, it was something more. Even though most of my responses were just a simple nod or a few words, his face lit up with the joy of being heard.

I think a lot of times we want to come in and give people exactly what we think they need whether it be food, money, or shelter. In those instances, I find myself focused on the materials we’re supplying instead of the people we’re giving the supplies to. Listening to others and finding out more about who they are removes the barrier between those giving and those receiving. It turns it into a connection between two human beings instead of a free handout.

A Little Unrealistic

Have you ever watched your favorite movie or TV show and after it left you awestruck, you came to the realization that it’s not real. We don’t want to believe that the characters are only actors because we get emotionally attached. As pathetic as that sounds, and I’m really not that much of TV watcher, it sometimes makes me sad to remember that the surgeons on Grey’s Anatomy aren’t actually saving lives and they aren’t even real doctors. The lives they play are so much more interesting than the truth, which is that series of theatrical illusions create the atmosphere of a surgery and talented actors perform convincing roles of actual medical practices. The believable young child inside of me holds on to the idea that the medical miracles and the relationships are reality. This is just one example.

This is not the only aspect of life in which we want to believe fantasy. Even if it’s not as evident as television. The reality of life is that is isn’t going to be interesting, at least not all of the time. When we have a goal, we often think of only the end result, because that is the best part! We never think about the sometimes millions of steps that it takes to get there. We only look at the top of the mountain, even if we are still at the base of the mountain, 12,000 feet below the peak. Even if we have no idea when or how we will get there I think everyone has a “dream house” or a “dream job”. I am nineteen and a college student, I don’t have any money and any money I do have is going to pay for education, yet I know what kind of counter tops and cabinets I want in my “dream kitchen” (Thanks to my sister for marathon watching HGTV ). I have no idea how I will ever get to the position where I will be able to create my dream kitchen, it might be never, but again, I am only thinking of the end result.

I am a firm believer in dreaming without limits and I think we all need to have fantasies in our head, even if we know they will never become reality because it instills imagination in the adult thought process which is so often ripped from our minds. The science behind things, the realities of how life works takes our imaginations and rips them to shreds. Sometimes I wish I still had the child-like ideas that scientific processes are magic and just happen, because that is so much more interesting and fun than learning the theories and formulas behind everyday phenomenon.

Because the thing that we might often forget is that the bigger we dream, the harder is to get there. And there will be those nights or days or even brief moments where we will feel lost or forget why or what it is we’re working for. So, continue to dream, even at all the wrong times, just do it. I find it instills inspiration in me and also takes your mind away from reality for a moment, because sometimes it’s really hard and reality can be brutal and unfair.

I guess what I’m saying is that in a brutally realistic world, it is okay, rewarding even, to be a little unrealistic once in awhile. Even if it’s just for a few moments.

This is one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite movies and I think it fits with this post, at least a little.

So dare to dream. Dream your wildest dreams. You can climb the highest mountain. You can drown in a teacup, if you find a big enough teacup. And if someone tells you that you can’t do something, you say, ‘Yes I can. ‘Cause I’m doing it right now!’ -Barry, Dinner for Schmucks