It is simple….Smile

Each day we wake up with the opportunity of a fresh start… The worries of yesterday are gone and the stresses of tomorrow have not yet arrived…

I struggle at times with letting go of the past and getting anxious about the future… But by training myself to recognize those situations, I have allowed myself to reestablish that I am living right now, in the present with all of you…and that makes me happy, it makes me smile!!!  We all are capable of sharing our love and light!  A simple smile helps me let go of my unneeded worries!  A simple smile influences others to be happy and also smile!  Your smile could change someones day and you may not even know it!  Life is amazing!  Be happy!  Love people and let yourself be loved!  You are an amazing human being!  Smiles attract smiles!  Love attracts love!  Positivity attracts positivity!

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via Daily Prompt: Simple

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Exposure – A Better YOU!

Exposure is often something that many of us overlook or take for granted.  Have you ever wondered why you like the foods you do?  Or why you are afraid of spiders?  Why you are the way you are?  Why is it easy for this person to accept others, but I can’t?  It is because at some point you were exposed to a stimulus and had a good/or bad experience.  Something and/or someone in your past has most likely played an influential role on every little thing you do, the food you eat, the people you gravitate towards and even the way you view yourself!

Being a new parent I feel it is my duty to expose our son to as much “stuff” as possible, and that also means I need to do it with an open mind.  I personally HATE pickles.  So if I were to let my son a pickle while I had an obvious negative/and or attitude about them, he would most likely pick up on that vibe and possibly not like them because of my attitude.  Same scenario with spiders, snakes, bugs etc… Do you think a child is more likely to enjoy those little critters if one of his parents were Steve Irwin (may he RIP), you bet your little butt they would!  So why can we not recognize this and apply this concept to everyday life?  Why can we not exude positivity into everything and everyone?

Our attitude impacts everyone and everything around you!  In order for our species to evolve and move toward a better future for EVERYONE, we need to recognize this.  We need to put this task on ourselves, its starts with each and every one of us.  We need to be conscious about our actions and the message we are sending to our youth.  If we are able to expose children to love, not just love from ourselves but love from all around, everything and everyone.  Then they will grow up and love, love themselves and others, they will be love.

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via Daily Prompt: Exposure

Baby steps!

Finally at thirty years old I have established enough motivation to begin my journey to inner peace!  I identified areas that I wanted to initially focus my attention (diet, meditation).  I chose diet because food is not something I have not struggled with (short term) in the past, mean if I wanted to accomplish some sort of goal or”diet” I could without issues.  The struggle would be continuing to engage in my newly established eating habits (long term).  I also believe that mental health is vital to overall health in everyone, if your mental health is compromised then most likely you will have impaired physical and emotional health.  By taking steps to improve my mental health first I could hopefully establish a more clear vision and ensure I had the proper energy and strength for my upcoming journey.

Diet!  For my diet I actually chose to do something called intermittent fasting (IF), its not “a diet” but more a way of eating or “eating pattern”.  I have done bits of research over the past few years and read a lot of very interesting articles both supporting and disputing its claims.  In the end though I decided to give it a shot and see how it actually affected me.  I have been engaging in IF for a couple months now and personally I feel like a different person, which I will explain shortly.  Prior to IF I was a firm believer in the small frequent meals throughout the day to speed up my metabolism theory, but I found myself always feeling somewhat “foggy” as I mentioned in a previous post.  This “fog” was not only from diet (haha), I had many other unhealthy habits, however once I switched to IF I found myself feeling much more clear headed, I was able to focus on other things than food and more importantly when I did eat I made more conscious decisions about WHAT I was eating.  I also found myself having more energy throughout the day and my sleeping quality also improved.  My intermittent fasting routine consists of eating between 1200-2000 give or take an hour, and then fasting a minimum of sixteen hours, so in this case I would fast from 2000-1200.  One of the things I really like about IF is that you don’t restrict calories, you maintain the same amount of calories consumed however you alter the times you consume them…  I believe I have lost close to twenty pounds, which brought me back down to my recommended weight for my height (aprox. 160-165lbs).  At times it is poses challenges because my wife does not IF, but she does support and understand what I’m doing which is a huge help.  I also definitely have days where I make exceptions and will eat breakfast and what not, but for the most part I stick to this routine and it has had a very positive effect on my daily life.

My mental health has always been some what interesting to say the least!  If you ask my wife she will definitely tell you I am moody, and I’ll admit I probably am but I think it is more related to the big jumbled mess I have going on inside my head!  At any given moment during the day I probably have thirty to forty ideas of stuff I want to do, build, see, make etc… The list goes on and on.  So I could be in the middle of trying to process all these wild ideas when I’m interrupted (her simply asking how am I?) and that leads to an impulsive and rude tone in my response (if you have mind clutter you know what i’m talking about).  Previously I compared myself to a Bisy Backson from “The Tao of Poo” (great book if you haven’t read it) and now that I was aware of this, how would I correct it and learn to slow down and appreciate life for what it is?  How could I slow my mind down and try and live in the moment, live right now, and appreciate everything around me?  Well that answer is meditation.  Meditation is a practice I had previously tried and failed, but this time I was prepared!  I discovered something called “binaural beats” you can go check them out if interested, but basically they are specific sound waves that can induce different moods or mind states so to speak.  Anyways moving on, these binaural beats were my saving grace with meditation because I am able to put in my headphones and sit down and focus on the sounds which draws my mind away from all my wandering thoughts.  So I have established a time to practice daily meditation from 0500-0530, and with each day I find myself slipping into that void in my mind more easily…  If mediation interests you and you struggle with it check out the recognitions program through synchronicity, I highly recommend this program.  They provide you with a facilitator to guide you through your spiritual growth, also a program plan, readings to help and also just support your journey! !!

Next time I will tell you about how my meditation journey is going and what I have experienced and learned thus far!!!!

 

Diversified

I remember being captivated by the diversity in Lincoln, so many people with different ideologies interacting and treating each other with kindness.  Wait, let me back track a bit here.  When I moved from Reno, Nevada to Sioux City, Iowa I was completely shocked at how different the two places were.  Reno was a very exciting, culturally diverse town with a lot of interesting history surrounding it.  Sioux City was completely opposite, people generally stuck to what they knew and did not embrace outsiders who were “different”.  There was not a whole lot do in Sioux City, and there really wasn’t anything special that would bring in people.  Quite a few times I’ve said this to friends, “the only people in Sioux City are people who were born there, from a smaller farm town outside there, or ended up getting stuck there (like me)”.  Luckily for me though I met my wife who introduced me to large group of people who were not shut off to new things or ideas.  Many of these people we still keep in touch with today and also visit when possible!

Our move to Lincoln, NE opened about a lot of doors, mostly good but there were also some not so good ones.    Lincoln brought a renewed feeling of excitement to my life, I was finally back in a place that accepted and embraced outsiders.  Our first few months in Lincoln happened to correspond with the beginning of our marriage, and we were about to hit a big bump in the road.  Long story short a job fell through for my wife so she spent about a month looking for a new job, and as it turns out she was better suited for the one she ended up getting.  But, during the month off my wife was able to explore Lincoln and get to know people, she made friends during this time and also really started to transition into more of a free spirit.  Honestly, I think I was caught of guard by all of it and even jealous because I had not met many people, well not ones I would consider friends I’d hangout with.  So during this period there was a build up of animosity by me towards the “holistic” lifestyle that is very prevalent in Lincoln.  I basically shut myself off and went back to what I felt comfortable with (being selfish) while my wife was exploring new foods, experiences, events…etc.  This ended up causing a gap in our marriage where we no longer had such similar interests because she had grown into a diverse vibrant human, while I had stayed stagnant.  Once again I had found a way to avoid making changes in my life because I was bitter about something so insignificant.  This pattern continued for a while, we basically lived parallel lives until…

After residing in Lincoln for four years an amazing event occurred, well series of events actually.  The first event was the birth of our amazing son, words cannot describe the joy he has brought into our lives.  His birth really awakened both of our hearts to love and it also brought perspective back into my life.  I could once again see how I was being selfish, similarly to when I left Reno.  We were now faced with choosing how to raise him, what beliefs do we want to instill in his heart?  Are we good role models?  How will we raise an amazing, compassionate, loving human?  All of these questions helped to deepen my need to explore and find out who I really am.

The other main event that really sealed the deal was being introduced to a family my wife had met through work at the hospital.  We both now worked at the same facility and she had come home multiple days talking about how awesome this “family” was.  She spoke one hundred miles an hour about how they were spiritual and you could feel their energy, she went on and on for hours about them.  Eventually at work I came down and was introduced and I can say whole heartedly that I was just as ecstatic as she was following her first encounter with them.  Over a couple days we spoke about meditation, lifestyle choices, career goals, family, basically anything and everything.  After seeing what a holistic lifestyle really is and how it can create a family that has so much love and compassion to not just themselves but everyone… I was hooked.

I now began re-exploring and researching how to go about my journey.  I received advice from various locations, a coworker gave me “the Tao of Pooh” which is an amazing read, it helped me identify that I was a “Bisy Backson” and I literally laughed out loud after reading that chapter.  The previous family had also recommended a guided spiritual program called The Recognitions Program, which has had a tremendous impact on my journey.  It  has helped me to establish a firm foundation of what a holistic lifestyle entails, and also how to succeed and reach my goal inner peace!

Recently I began thinking about all the random events that led to my wife meeting this family.  Then I began to be even more amazed when I contemplated my thousands of previous experiences/choices both good and bad that had pushed me to right here, right now.  What if I wouldn’t have got arrested in high school?  What if none of my friends died?  What if I was a better son? Or a better brother?  Every single one of these events led me to where I am right now, should I thank my old self?  Absolutely, if I wouldn’t have made those choices then I might not be here starting this amazing journey. But I also want to thank all the people I hurt along the way who have patiently waited for me to wake up!  Thank you and I’m sorry for hurting you!

Now that I have basically caught you up on my life and the events that led to this journey, its time to talk about where we go!  I have only just began my spiritual journey, I continue to meditate daily and I try to make small changes that are conducive to a holistic life, but its challenging.  My goal is to communicate my struggles and triumphs along this journey, hopefully you are on a similar journey and we can share this experience together!

Immersed…

The process of starting fresh and getting a second shot at college and a career is an opportunity I can never repay my parents for.  Well… Financially I probably could, but they would never accept it.  The mere process of me becoming 100% involved in my academic studies and also starting to take care of myself both physically and emotionally held more value than a monetary payment.  During this chapter of my journey I began to see how various aspects of my life could contribute to an overall healthier me.  I began to build self-confidence as my grades went from C’s to A’s, and my physical condition improved all around.  The overall improvement of all these different areas gave me the mental health boost I needed to move forward in other areas of my life, one of which was relationships.

As my second college degree was coming to a conclusion I was informed I would be graduating with honors, this was an amazing accomplishment I never thought I could achieve.  However, an even more amazing gift came into my life around that same time, that gift came in the form of a human being that I now call my wife.  Had my wife not come into my life I most likely would have moved back home and started my career in Reno.  However, I do believe with my new set of personal skills and outlook on life I would have been successful in Reno, because not only had I changed but the vast majority of my friends had also grown and embarked on their own journeys.

If any of you have ever visited the midwest or spent an extended amount of time here then you know how they feel about organized religion.  As my future wife and I had begun our relationship it became apparent that religion was a huge part of her life, so naturally I agreed to give it another shot and for a while I think things went well.  We attended church on a regular basis, became members of a church and eventually got married in that church.  As time passed I would spend my time in church wondering why so many people were sitting around listening to someone tell them how they should live.  I began realizing I had many doubts and that overall I viewed organized religion as a was of time.  Yes, I think its great for people to have fundamentals they base their life around and also that it helps kids develop proper values, but at the same time these teachings make people closed-minded and afraid of exploring themselves and others.  Organized religion in my eyes had made people afraid of something different or “taboo”.  So many times I caught myself saying, “wouldn’t God want people to be happy and enjoy their life, why was the beautiful world given to use if we can’t explore it and explore ourselves”.  With all these thoughts bouncing around I made a radical change, one that led to failure because I had not built a foundation or long term goal for myself, I compare it to someone going on a fad diet.

My first attempt at the whole holistic lifestyle failed big time, I came out the gate swinging and ended up about where I started.  I had bought multiple books on meditation and also researched crystals and conspiracies and all sorts of stuff that ended up freaking me out.  The problem was not in what I was researching, but how I went about the whole process.  Looking back I can say at best I skimmed one of the meditation books I bought, I also read a few pages of the other books and thought “I got this”.  I tried mediation for about a week and lasted maybe five minutes each time, I ate organic and quit drinking for probably a week as well.  So I basically stopped going to church (hurting my wife) and also stopped exploring the other realms of spirituality that I used as an excuse.  Luckily after getting married a great career opportunity came into my life as an advanced practice respiratory therapist in Lincoln, NE.  Moving to Lincoln introduced us to an entirely new community of people who were spiritual, emotional, loving, open-minded, and basically the complete opposite of organized religion in my eyes….  Little did I know our lives in Lincoln would change drastically and we would experience many ups and downs…

New Beginnings

Where were we?? Oh ya..

When I left home I was forced to start making my own decisions, I no longer was able to call my parents and ask them what is for dinner? or Can I bring my laundry over? (I know… I know… pathetic)  I now had to make sure I allocated money to the right places to ensure my bills and daily needs were covered.  Now, don’t let me fool you, I still had a tremendous amount of support from my family back home, but also from family that lived where I had moved.  I was provided a place to live by family which was amazing, this allowed me some wiggle room to establish a good study pattern, exercise routine, and also healthy eating habits.  These three basic things are what helped to set me on a path of self enlightenment.

When I lived in Reno I was was in a constant state of “fog” we will call it.  I spent more time drinking and partying than I did with my family.  I was so concerned about “living” that I neglected the people who gave me life and provided me with everything I had.  I think a large part of this revolved around my friends I had lost, I had the “live in the moment because you never know when it may be your last” mindset, don’t get me wrong I still believe in this saying, but at the time I had been applying it all wrong.  Drinking, drugs, partying were my idea of “living”, but in actuality I was making myself numb to this amazing world and all the beautiful people I had in my life.  As a result of my lifestyle my relationships with my family were constantly being stretched in ways you can’t even begin to imagine.  The following event will paint a picture of my former self.  My family has a tradition of going out to dinner for our birthdays.  Like most families the “birthday boy” always gets to decide where we dine.  One year on my brothers birthday I decided to wake up and start partying, no reason really, just wanted to get drunk and have a good time with some friends (BTW, I don’t even remember who is was with).  My parents had contacted me the day before and also the day of my brother’s birthday to inform me of dinner plans, they said that they would pick me up so I had no excuse not to go.  Well the time came for my parents to pick me up and I avoided the call, I chose to blow off my brothers birthday dinner because I was busy.  That specific event has caused me tremendous remorse, but at the same time its has supplied me with an endless amount of motivation, motivation to be a better brother, son, husband, father, friend and last but not least a better human.

(Flash forward to now…)

I don’t want you to think I regret my previous decisions because I do not, I have experienced a lot of amazing things and people from my wild and reckless days.  I also don’t want you to think that I hung around bad people (friends), because I did not.  I have an amazing group of friends in Reno, most of them I’ve known for over two decades.  We all endured the pain from friends passing and we all coped with it in our own way.  Every person in my life both past and present has had an impact and helped shape me into who I am now, but also who I want to be.  Reflecting on previous experiences gives me insights to the world, and who I want to be because everyday we are faced with decisions that have real life impacts on not only our own life but everyone around us, both in the present and the future.  As I have started my journey of truth I have began to evaluate various interactions with patients and families in the hospital (I work in healthcare), I have begun to see this net that encompasses everything.  A decision today may not affect me now, or ever, but that same decision may cause happiness or pain to someone or something else in the future… So, how do we put ourselves in a situation where we can have a positive impact on the world and everyone in it?  How do we make ourselves the best version of us so that we bring light into everyones life?  How do we make the world a better place, not for us, but for our children and their children?  We start inside each and everyone one of us.

“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change.  As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Early years.

I have had an amazing life in the terms of our physical realm and what you see.  My parents afforded me opportunities that they could only dream of when they were children.  I was baptized and raised Catholic, I grew up in a affluent mostly white suburb, my parents always put my brother and I above them, and they did everything they could to keep us comfortable (which I was more than comfortable) and to ensure we had a bright future.  Although my standard of living was above the vast majority of the human populations, I was ungrateful.  When I use the word ungrateful I use it in the context that I simply did not understand what I was given, how could I?  I was never put in a situation where struggle was an every day occurrence.  My parents went out of their way to ensure I never had to struggle, looking back, not having to struggle had a dramatic impact on my core values that shaped me and my view of “reality”.

During my high school and college years I lost close to a dozen friends due to various reasons, overdose, suicide, car crashes etc.  The tremendous weight of these losses on top of my lack of understanding of the world led me down a misguided and dark path of even less self accountability, as well as taking a heavy toll on my parents physically, emotionally and financially.  It was not until my mid twenties near the completion of my college degree that my parents had finally had enough and asked me to attend school out of state.  I am not going to get into what my degree’s are in because that is not important, but what is important is that I was asked to leave my comfort zone and go out into the world.  Yes, I still would have the safety net of my amazing parents, but I would be forced to experience things that were foreign to me and I would have to take on responsibility that I was not accustomed too.  This my friends was the start of my journey, my inner journey to truth.