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INSPIRATION

INSPIRATION

Are You Paying Attention?

I can think of a handful of people I have met in my life who I just knew were important. I met them and I felt something– like static shock from the carpet, like a pink sky in the early morning– an unmistakeable pang of feeling. Of something out of the ordinary. It wasn’t love at first sight, but it was a kind of knowing at first sight.

It isn’t just people, but places, stretches of time.

I can think of moments that struck me down to my knees. That shook me to my core. The first time I felt small– standing under a full moon in snowy mountains, just me and my long shadow. The first time I knew, without a doubt, what my next move was. The moments I simply trusted, and surrendered to a feeling of guidance.

And maybe this is science or God, or both, or that they are the same thing in the first place, but it’d be hard to believe that our brains are wired this way without reason.

I am sure you have experienced this– knowing that these places and people in time were important; knowing that they were a part of your path for a reason. That your meeting was not a coincidence or a mistake, or something to brush off or call accidental.

You won’t always be right. We are really good at misplacing reason, or giving fate a name it didn’t ask for. Sometimes we just need to learn a lesson, and that’s it. It is always just fine to be wrong, especially in the name of vulnerability and risk.

The main point is this. When you feel a spark of importance– the curious pull of significance and meaning as it relates to relationships or milestones– listen hard. Follow it. There is never any promise that you’ll be right when you assume anything, and indeed logic might get a say, but magic does not happen on accident.

This is about guidance. It’s about putting your ear to the ground and paying attention. It’s about trust in your path.

It’s in the excitement you feel when someone you admire says hello. It’s the tornado of glitter that starts up in your soul when you hear of a new job opportunity. It’s trying to justify an idea when all you really want to say is, it just feels right. Simple things, maybe, but these are signs even a cynic can admit to seeing.

We have to train our ears to hear the right music. We have to get on a level of humility where we can pay the most attention to what is working, and what is not. There isn’t a guide built by logic or reason, it’s just about working off of a hunch– off something we can’t see– and trusting that it’s there.

Ultimately, it is on us to listen. Are you paying attention?

INSPIRATION JOURNAL

Love is Like That

I know so many people who are heartbroken right now. What’s the deal?! It’s my friends texting me about the ache. It’s the emails from readers I’ve never met. It’s the echo from a post I wrote about love on Instagram.

We are all hungry for feeling. For meaning.

Love is so damn complicated. Trust that I’m screaming this from my soul to my fingertips.

It’s messy. It’s clear and muddy at the same time. It’s the biggest paradox we’ll ever know. And it’s almost a guarantee that at some point in our lives, we’ll have a crazy run-in with love. A head-on collision. We’ll feel like we’ve had 4 strong margaritas and ran around in circles for an hour blindfolded.

Love is like that.

I am addicted to love, and to loving the moments that didn’t even feel good– because we don’t get to choose the ones that stick. I first realized this in a scene I’ve mentioned before– I was 21 and had moved to Porto, Portugal without knowing anyone. I would lay lonely on the roof of my apartment and stare at the sky, knowing that I would eventually miss that moment.

That feeling comes and goes in waves that take me over.

It was the feeling I had dancing to bad pop music with a tall freckled Australian guy in Budapest. It was a comical scene, but I knew I’d miss it as soon as it was over. Because you can love a moment, even a moment like that one. Especially a moment like that one. And maybe it doesn’t entirely make sense which ones our hearts choose, but those are the moments we remember.

It feels like we don’t choose the people we love either. But magic doesn’t happen on accident.

It’s loud, right? So loud sometimes it’s all we can hear. It brings us to our highest highs and our lowest lows, and it doesn’t really care what it does to us. It’ll teach us about the depths of our hearts if we allow it to. If instead of turning up the volume even more, we just got quiet, and listened.

You will read this and connect it to whatever your experience is with love, and whatever it means right now. It can be the way we love wild places, the way we love the way our coffee smells, the wonder of this whole life in general. It can be absolute heartbreak, heartache. It can just be heart, and that’s enough. It shifts and changes and it always will.

We know this: when it shows up, it refuses to be ignored. Love is like that.

INSPIRATION JOURNAL TRAVEL

The Places You Meet Yourself

As a result of seeking an adventurous life through travel, I have met many people.

Amazing people. People who have changed me and the maze of my life forever.

But the really interesting thing– perhaps a simple idea– is that I also met myself.

Being alone in the unknown is never comfortable, and discomfort does things to us that ease and routine cannot. It pushes our buttons, forces us to confront ugly things we’d rather ignore, and teaches us about beauty and truth.

When I replay the montage of all the random and hard and gorgeous fleeting moments of my life, I see all the ways in which I got to know myself. All the scenes where I looked into my heart, and proclaimed that I’d see it for what it was.

I see the loneliness standing on the roof of my apartment in Portugal, my anxiety loud as sirens. And I remember doubting very much, at 21, that I had any idea of who I was.

I see meeting one of the loves of my life at a campsite in Belgium, and knowing he was important. And I see us two years later in Christchurch, crying in our hotel room, not knowing if we would ever hold each other that way again.

I see myself in the eyes of every ex-lover, the ones I knew for a night in cities I did not know well. The ones I never even touched physically, but who shared a conversation through broken English or Spanish, and in doing that, shared a part of themselves.

I see myself under a beat up old red barn, covered in hay, shoveling bags of sheep shit.

I see myself walking through caves of glow worms and thinking they looked like the whole universe.

I see dusty motorcycle rides and boats that made me seasick. I see the faces of all the people who were and are all on their own grand adventure, and it’s beautiful to me to know that I shared a brief moment in time with them. Just knowing that is so powerful. And it’s naïve. But it’s enough.

I have never been able to afford nice hotels or nice restaurants, and sometimes I think it might be nice to travel that way, but for me it’s never been about the comfort, and it might never be.

It’s about the deep brown in the eyes of the woman you met on the streets of Budapest; the way her hair smelled like jasmine and dust.

It’s about the whiskey you did not need to drink, the moon bright on the jagged peaks and pine trees, the wobble in your steps on the walk back to your cabin on icy roads.

It’s about the loneliness, the beauty, the glow worms– all the places you meet yourself over and over again, deeply, profoundly.

The depth and variety within the flip book of your life is easy to forget about. We get sucked in to our daily mundane. We forget about all of these moments we have lived.

When you remember all the places you met yourself– the places you can put on a map and the places you could never even name– you remember that it is all so, so worth watching. And worth experiencing in the first place.

INSPIRATION

You Are Not for Everyone

You are great.

I mean it. I don’t care what your thing is, I believe that you are great at something. And you can be great at a lot of different things.

But no matter how great you are at however many amazing, impressive or important things, no amount of expertise, experience, or passion will mean that everyone will like you.

Let yourself off the hook. Great news: you don’t have to be for everyone, because no matter how hard you could possibly try, you never will be.

It’s easy to feel like the ultimate goal is to be well-liked.

I remember in middle school wanting desperately to be one of the popular kids– to wear certain clothes and act a certain way. But I could never contort myself enough to fit into that mold.

In a way, we never actually graduated from middle school. Society and culture teach us how we should be or what we should do in order to please people, and never ourselves. The mold still exists, the shape changes, and still, we try to stretch into things that we just weren’t made for.

To start writing on the internet, I had to embrace my own shape and get over being well-liked. I am not a passive person. I don’t really “do” subtle, and I’ve never tried to be objective here. But disagreement still hurts. I had to get over the friction that comes with it, and I had to take things much less personally.

What was the other option? Staying quiet? Nah. I’ll pass.

The real goal is not, and was never, to be well liked. The real goal is to live so deeply in our truths that we simply know that the people around us love us for who we are, and never for what we do. What you do becomes simplistic when you compare it to the much bigger picture of who you are.

Doing anything at all that you believe in– doing anything with conviction– means that someone will disagree. Your work and your words won’t resonate with everyone.

But it’s not our job or our responsibility to be for everyone. It’s not possible to be for everyone. When everyone agrees with us, we may be neutral. We may be lukewarm. Neutral for the sake of an unrealistic mold is just not a place to live.

When we dilute ourselves in the name of being well-liked, it may satiate our ego temporarily, but it does so at the expense of the impact that could have been made if we had lived in the strongest sense of ourselves.

So rest easy. You don’t have to be for everyone. When you find the people who really get you, they will be in it for the right reasons. They will be in it for you– who you really are, unfiltered.


 

Feature photo by BC Serna.

BLOGGING INSPIRATION MENTORSHIP

There Is Room For You

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One day a couple of years ago, I decided I wanted to share my experiences in photos and writing.

I had recently bought my first (cheap smartphone. I downloaded social media platforms I didn’t know how to use. I picked a name. I bought this website. I didn’t know what it was going to become. I didn’t even do anything with it for six months.

In December 2014, I posted my first article here.

What was I thinking when I started this blog?

I was 24. I was dealing with a recent breakup, questioning my career path and working with a lot of the things I felt I “should” have been doing. Grad school. Finding a “real” job. Figuring out the next step.

The blog was just an experiment. A hobby. I spent a lot of time looking at travel, adventure and lifestyle bloggers. I took note of the big influencers within each space and I tried to learn from what they were doing. I paid attention to the parts of their work that really spoke to me. I was interested in how people shared their passions and what went into a story worth telling.

But I firmly believed that there was no room for another adventure blogger– and even if there was, I never thought I’d get to the level of “success” that I saw in those folks I used to stalk the s$!t out of. I thought the market was already saturated. I thought someone out there was saying what I wanted to say, but better. And I didn’t think anyone would read my blog– how were they even going to find out about it in the first place?

Reality, two years later:

  • I wasn’t trying to make this my job, but now it is.
  • I never thought I would call myself a blogger, but that is now how I describe my profession.
  • I didn’t think it was possible to reach people from all over the world with my work, but I now do (where are you reading this from?)
  • I never thought that the very people who inspired me online would be my real life friends, but they now are.

And it wasn’t like I didn’t want that stuff to happen, I just didn’t believe that it could.

Two years later, this means something much more than I ever expected. What this journey has showed me is that there was always room for new ideas, new people, new relationships, and new experiences. It was on me that I didn’t believe in that.

There is room for you in whatever you decide to pursue, because nobody can do it exactly like you will. Nobody can tell your story like you can, because they haven’t lived it. Nobody can share your heart because they don’t know the whole of it.

There is always room for your vision because it’s yours, and if you follow the trail of your own passion, you will make room for yourself in whatever area you are seeking.

In no way does this happen overnight. But when you do something you are passionate about consistently and for a long time, room is not only made for you, but the path often feels as if it’s laid out in front of your feet.

For there to be room for you, you first have to believe that there is. Then you work to make that room. And when you get there, it won’t be a coincidence.

 

Feature photo by BC Serna.

INSPIRATION

In Defense of Saying No to Anything

You know, writing this blog over the past almost-2-years has been really interesting. I tackle a lot of topics. Many of them have this huge potential to be cliché. It’s never been difficult for me to write from my heart, but I try to put a real and raw spin on it because I think these things I write about really do matter.

So I want to talk about saying yes, because I see so much of the suggestion to “just say yes”– the notion that we should take opportunities when they come to us. That we should say yes to things, because getting out of our comfort zones teaches us immeasurable lessons and gives us experiences that we couldn’t fathom. I believe this to be true. But I also think there is huge power in saying no.

Saying yes is important. But so is saying no. I’m not talking about choosing to stay comfortable, or choosing to not push yourself. I’m talking about self-care, about self-awareness, about tuning into your needs in a world where it is so easy to tune into a million other things.

I am so guilty of wanting to do it all. And not just doing it all, but wanting to do it all 100%. I often hit my capacity and still I say yes to things.

I have learned that I have to have boundaries if I want to do anything effectively at all. I need alone time. I need rest. I need to make space for new things that can’t come my way if I am overbooked. I would love to say yes to all the coffee dates, but I simply can’t. I would love to do all the free collaborations, but I don’t have the time (or closet space).

I believe that I have a limited capacity for most things. I also believe that energy and time are the most valuable currencies we will ever know. We must be deliberate with how we spend them. Life is short and it’s OK to turn things down.

You are allowed to say no when you are prioritizing something else. You are allowed to say no when you need some sleep. You are allowed to say no because you aren’t feeling 100% on something. In fact, you don’t need a reason– you are allowed to say no for any reason at all.

So I defend saying no. Often, saying no is what allows us to say yes.

INSPIRATION JOURNAL

You Don’t Know What Will Stick

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I have never really known exactly what I wanted. It has always been a combination of best guesses, trial and error, and face-down-in-the-mud failure followed by a shower beer and picking myself up off the metaphorical floor.

As you may know,* a little over a year ago I got fired, went on a big solo road trip, came back to Colorado and figured my shit out. Not nearly all of it, just enough.

I’ve been riding that wave of having figured out just enough for a while now.

This past summer for me was an absolute whirlwind– one that didn’t stop or slow down. But when it did, it came to a screeching halt. My life asked me what I was going to do next, and I really didn’t know. I have been struggling to know what to write about, what new projects to initiate. There have been times that I felt like a fraud.

But I think that the worst thing you can do is nothing. So slowly, I started playing with my ideas. And I’m reminded, very clearly and loudly, that I am making all of this up as I go along. The projects I take on, this blog, the video channel, the stuff I write here or anywhere else.

NOW MORE THAN EVER, I FEEL LIKE I AM THROWING SPAGHETTI AT THE WALL AND SEEING WHAT STICKS.

I am throwing a fuck ton of spaghetti. Buckets of it. Some of it is honestly, way overcooked, and some of it isn’t even cooked at all, but even some of the uncooked stuff is sticking. Weird.

I’ve been throwing jello. Bread. Frying pans. Bouncy balls, just ‘cuz. Tennis shoes. Shampoo. Beer.

As it turns out, the ideas that you think are the best… won’t always be the ones that stick. Sometimes, the ideas that you think aren’t that great or innovative or special will be like superglue to someone else.

A lot of my ideas aren’t fully cooked. Some of them, I think, are straight-up bad. But I have made an agreement with my bad ideas, that if they stick, I will give them a chance. So that’s what I am doing.

Try everything, knowing that not everything you do will be the best thing you do. Not everything you write will be the best thing you write. Not everything you make will be the best thing you make. But you are doing and making, and that’s what matters.

Put pen to paper. Pick up the camera. Send the email. Write that thing that has been in your head, or that thing that hasn’t been in your head at all– just write something.

Engage with your own growth. You don’t know what will stick until you throw it.

Start throwing.

 


 

*and if you didn’t know, now you do. Did we just become best friends?