Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Celebrate the Wins

Sometimes you have to take a step back and celebrate your wins. It's been several years since I started on a journey to become all I can be and taste the depth of what life can offer. If you rewind 4 years, I was traveling across the country with a friend in a car that never should have left town. No job. No money. No way of going forward, but somehow we did. If you rewind 3 years I had convinced my brother and his family to move to Nashville, and now all of us were broke and living place to place with friends.

Rewind just 2 years and everything was falling apart. I had just gotten fired for the first time. I was politely asked to leave the homeless ministry i was a leader in. My choices and actions had gotten me to the point where just about everyone I had once called a friend, now wanted nothing to do with me. At this point i was waking up at 4:30 am to walk an hour to the bus stop. I would ride the bus for 2 hours to work where I arrived a few minutes late most days due to the bus. And then I would attempt to make cold calls to businesses selling them our product. I doubt my life has ever tasted the depths of darkness like it did in those times.

Now, lets rewind a year. I just got promoted to my current position joining the training team at the company I work for due to my outstanding performance taking calls. I now owned a car for the first time in about 3 or 4 years. The car I owned was the first brand new car I had ever owned. I had an apartment with a friend and no longer needed to couch surf place to place. The relationship with my brother and his family was starting to be repaired. Things were turning around.

Fast forward to today. I've just had, what felt like in the moment, one of the hardest weeks of my life. I haven't been sleeping well. I've been working nights which means I haven't been able to see friends and family like I'm used to doing and I found myself fighting depression on a level that I have not felt since before I started this whole journey.

But let me paint you (and myself) a true picture of where my life is at and headed. I laid out several goals for myself at the beginning of the year and am on track to making most of them. The small things like buying a bed or buying the MacBook I'm currently typing this on, to the big things of doubling my income from last year and being intentional to read and work out. I set a goal to leave town and travel once a month for the year and I am on track to hit that goal as well. I have over $1,000 set aside waiting to find something to invest it in. I've started an online business that I just laid out some goals for myself today. I have a group of friends who see me like family and would do anything for me. My relationship with my brother and his family is basically repaired. I live in an amazing big house where people come over and have great times filled with food and laughter.

And here's the kicker. I'm just getting started. Yes, I had a rough week. That is very real. You're going to have rough weeks. It's just part of life. You have the choice to take that rough week and turn it into a month or 6 months or a year if you choose to stay there. Or you can choose to step back and celebrate yourself and the wins you have. Remember, happiness is really only a perspective away.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Expectation = Reality

I was talking with a friend tonight about the progress he's made in his life over the last year and a phrase he said sent my mind into a flurry of thoughts. The phrase he said was, "All the stuff that controlled me was who I was never created to be." All the stuff that controlled me. Hmm, that really got me thinking. If humans are as powerful as I think they are, do things really control us? Can other external forces actually FORCE us to do anything more than what we give them power or permission to do? I believe the answer to that question is no. And let me explain why.

I've heard people blame their circumstances on "bad luck", "demons", "curses", etc. I don't buy it. I used to haha. Boy did i used to. There was a time I was spending so much effort on trying to stop the bad stuff that I didn't really have time or expectation to create the good. The more I go on, the more I am convinced we live in the reality we create.

You expect bad things because you think you're possessed, cursed, haunted, whatever, those things will happen. I know because I've lived it. There was a time in my life where I was thrown around my bedroom pretty consistently by "demons" I was convinced were after me. As soon as I stopped focusing on defeating the darkness, it stopped. And it hasn't ever come back since. What we believe in, what we perceive, has life. Has power.

Now lets take the overly spiritual aspect out of this for a second. You all know someone who never has things go right for them, who always has crisis after crisis after crisis. Now, flip the coin. You know that person who always has everything go right for them. Promotions, friends, opportunities. It's like they wake up every day and life is just easy for them. C'mon you know who I'm talking about.

Now, I believe both of those people create their reality whether they understand it or not. And those who do understand the power of creating their reality, succeed. And now, before you go all up in arms about me saying that I believe people just think their way into anything, that's not what I'm saying. I'm saying your belief system, how you perceive and view the world and yourself, determines what you will see and experience. And those beliefs determine your thoughts. Your thoughts will determine your actions. And ultimately your actions will determine your results.

Don't believe me? That's ok. I challenge you. Find the thing that doesn't work in your life. Find the wall you can't cross. And I want you to BELIEVE differently about it. Not just hold a thought in your head for 10 seconds once to prove me wrong, but truly BELIEVE a different story and see how things change. It may not happen over night. It may take months. But I'm telling you, things WILL change. As I've believed differently about myself and about the world, things have changed for me quickly and drastically.

I constantly find things about the world and about myself that I believe a "less than" version of. And when I identify it, I change my belief. The more I do it the easier it is. Anyways, I hope this helps you. I hope it challenges you to think differently than you have been thinking and believe differently. Ultimately leaving you with a different result.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Why Do We Hide Our Gifts?

People. Around us every day. In the grocery store. At work. Now a click away from us anywhere in the world through the power of the internet. We are surrounded by and encounter each other every day. But do we truly understand the power that lies in each of us?

I believe now more than ever that each of us is born with a gift. I also believe that most individuals go through the course of their entire life without ever realizing that gift. Why is that? I believe the answer to that question is two-fold.

1. We don't want to know what our gift is. Because if we know what our gift, our true purpose in life is, we are now responsible for it. "Ignorance is bliss" as the old saying goes. The other side of not knowing and having to be responsible is not knowing how much fulfillment you truly would have if you discovered and gave into your gift.

I believe that when an individual discovers and pursues their gift, they are personally more fulfilled in their life than they could be without it. And not only them but the energy their gift creates goes far beyond their individual life, but spills out into the lives of people around them.

2. We don't have the right people in our life to help us uncover and develop our gift. If the majority, or even some of humanity doesn't want to know their gift so they won't be responsible for it, that means those people don't want you to uncover your gift either. Because if you do, it will remind them of the gift inside of them and force them to acknowledge what they have been ignoring.

In my own journey of admitting and acknowledging my gifts, the catalyst to pursuing them has come through other people. People who believe in me and who believe in themselves. As I have changed my circle of close companions, I've recently shared with them my perspective of my gifts and my dreams. Expecting to hear the same defeating rhetoric of dreaming too big and me not being able to accomplish or create what i believe i have a gift to create, I instead heard what I hoped for and least expected. As I shared my gift and my dreams with people who truly believed in themselves and then in turn, believed in me, they not only agreed with my perspective of my gift, they challenged me to see it at a greater level than I could see before.

The picture I am trying to paint here is that the keys to your gift are hidden in people along your journey. You will find some people afraid of their gift along the way. Heck, I'd even venture to say, most of the people you will meet are people afraid of their gift. But when you find the few who are not... they make you forget about all the ones who tried to convince you to be afraid and settle for the least fulfilling form of life you are capable of.

The right people will pull your gift out of you and you out of them. To quote tonight's episode of Game of Thrones, "When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies but the pack survives." When life gets hard, when the cold and bitter winds of doubt and rejection blow with no relent, the one left alone cannot stand. But the one who walks together with those who he believes in and who believe in him, no amount of doubt or rejection could turn him back.

I'll leave you here with a few questions. Do you fear your gift? What is the story those around you are telling you to believe? To fear your gift or to pursue it? What are you going to do now?

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Victim vs. Legend

I recently had a mentor share with me an exercise his mentor shared with him. He told me to write down 20 things that happened in my life that got me to where I was. And then write 10 things I know I need to work on. I spent a few hours writing down many of the major events that have happened in the past few years. Some things misunderstood until they were written out before me. Other things tragic and painful to recall.

I thought about posting some of those ugly details for everyone to read. In the name of transparency. That maybe someone else could identify with them and be encouraged. I wasn't quite sure why I waited to post those stories. But then I realized my focus was all wrong. Today as I was mowing the lawn I had a revelation. "This is not my story. These are not my defining moments. These are the moments that life tried to hold me back from my true story. I will not be defined by these moments any longer. I am not the victim."

Something has shifted within me. It's been less than 24 hours since my new discovery but I know I've changed. I am not less fortunate or disadvantaged because of the things that lie in my past. I am stronger. I am most fortunate that the events behind me did not break me, they forged me. I don't know if you've ever watched a master blacksmith forge a blade that legends are made of. Well, to be honest, I haven't either. But, when a blade is forged it takes countless hours of being heated to the point where the metal is pliable. And then pounded for strength and shape. This process is repeated again and again until the blacksmith decides the steel has been folded enough times and the shape is just right.

Once the pounding is complete, then comes the sharpening. A stone moved across the length of the blade over 1,000 times to remove any excess metal and create a sharp edge that will not dull at the first sign of resistance. Life has a way of putting us into the furnace and pounding us repeatedly. If we let it continue to repeat it's process and become what it molds us into, we can become legends. Few ever come across or choose to see this perspective. But those who do are not victims of their life and circumstances. No, they are weapons of legend in the process of being forged. Who, once the process has finished, will know no impossibility and be held back by no obstacle.

Which will you choose to be? The victim. Or one in the process of being forged into legend?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Couch Lessons

As I'm crawling into bed tonight, I find myself thinking back over the events of the day. Today I helped a couple friends move a couch into their apartment. I found myself riddled with excitement throughout the entire experience. But why? What made an evening moving furniture so amazing that I'm reminiscing and breaking down what happened today?

It wasn't the potion looking bottle of "organic" vodka they got me as a thank you and a bit of a joke. It wasn't the terrible traffic we were stuck in due to the beautiful storm happening while this whole adventure was underway. It wasn't even the storm itself, despite how much I love storms. It wasn't the tasty meal we had of amazing brick oven pizza. It wasn't the dogs jumping on me with excitement when I walked in their door. It wasn't the ride in the uhaul on the floor, even though I love to travel in odd ways.

It was tasting the beauty of something you cannot buy. A great time with authentic friends. You can find people to spend an evening with anywhere. But friendship, real friendship, the kind where it doesn't matter what you're doing or where you are you just enjoy each other, is hard to find. I've found myself these days becoming a connesseuir of finer things. And I can honestly say that one of the finest things I've found in life is honest friendship.

It doesn't take money, opportunity, fame, success, knowledge, connections, or anything other than the willingness to be a friend to someone to taste one of the most incredible things we can experience in life. So don't get too caught up trying to make your house immaculate, or rounding out your collection of whatever it is you collect. Don't get sucked into another episode of another TV show that only plays out friendship in front of you. Enjoy the people in your life NOW. Take the time to build those relationships and before long hopefully you will find yourself like I was today, happy as can be to be driving down the road to pick up a couch.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Courage to Cross the Ocean

I was just doing some thinking tonight. About some of the journey I've been on and how I've literally had to start over more than once in the past couple years in one way or another.

Then I realized that my new foundation is being built with much better people. People who will encourage and support me to keep doing videos like Casie. People like Wes who don't hold back on feedback to help me grow. People like Charlene who've helped remind me that my work and work ethic is seen and valuable. People like Donald who show me that despite being in the shittiest hole, one can climb out and change their stars. People like my friend Chuck who could be so bitter about church and religion but instead uses his experience to help others avoid or shorten the time of pain and move right into enjoy life to the fullest. People like my brother, who despite my endless failures and mistakes that cost him, never stop loving me or showing up in my corner believing the best for me. People like my buddy Chad who is following his dreams despite what others may say and what it may cost him. Everyone in my life is an inspiration to me to be a better and better version of me each day.

On the financial side of things, I make more money now than I ever have in my life and there is only more headed my way.

With this perspective, I'd rewind back to that day I decided to throw it all away a few years ago. I would start over again if I knew it would bring me here.

My sister in law does calligraphy and water color painting. She made a piece of art for me with this quote, " You can never cross the ocean, unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore."

Sometimes, if you want to taste another reality, you have to say goodbye to all you know and go for it. I cannot promise an easy journey or immediate results. But I can promise that at some point in your journey, if you truly commit and stay the course, you will say it is worth it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Making Excuses

Some days I get here. Some days I flounder in this place of mental sludge and mediocrity. Some days all my tricks to get out just seem to fall short of picking the lock to the door of this room I feel trapped in.

The truth is, I'm probably just tired. It's probably way too late for my mind and emotions to function properly, yet here I am. Awake. And functioning. So, I'm typing a rant. Something that will start meh, but by the end of it have some sort of positive twist to it. It always does. That's why you're here. Reading this right now. I guess I won't disappoint. I'll be sure to make sure I'm going somewhere with this by the time I finish.

Everything is good. Great even. Work is great. I'm excelling and growing there. Got my first gym membership this week. I guess I'm growing up. The house is coming together with new dishes, new tables and chairs, and new plans for 2017 to fill this house and build relationships.

I want to see people become the very best versions of themselves just by being in proximity to me. That's not arrogance that's determining purpose. I could care less if I get any credit. Especially public credit. I'd prefer that I don't, actually. I am built for the stage and spotlight, but I find myself more comfortable and pereferimg the backseat.

There are so many projects I have planned and started for this year. It should really be a fantastic year. Opportunities to invest in people and watch their lives change forever... nothing is more valuable to me. Helping people grow. I am more convinced now than ever that the very foundation of our existence is built upon relationship. Love is completely hollow and void without it. I truly believe that.

Ok, so maybe I lied. I still have no idea where I am going with this. But I'm not done yet so there's still time to wrap it up with a nice bow before the end.

I choose to remind myself and each of you tonight that hope is a choice. Faith and love, they are choices. So is hate. Or frustration. Yes things happen that may be frustrating. But it is our choice to stay in a state of frustration. Just as easily as we decide to choose frustration we can choose to laugh instead. Life is short and full of way to many reasons to get down, to be empty or sad. So start making excuses. Make excuses to laugh. Make excuses to forgive yourself. Make excuses to do what's right for you. Make an excuse to be proud of yourself. Go the extra mile to see yourself as you deserve to be seen. Even if no one else knows how to see you that way.

You are loved. You are beautiful. Your existence is inspiring. Your uniquness cannot be copied or rivaled by anyone. There is only one you. And if you hold back, or choose to be someone other than who you truly are, you rob the world of a special gift it can only have through you.

So loosen up. It will work out. If not in the way you expect this time around, then after you learn from this experience and apply what you've learned to your next try. You will succesed if you do not stop moving, if you choose not to stay down.

Regardless of whatever relationship we have, a friend, a family member, a reader who I've never personally met, I love you. Thank you for being who you are and gracing the world with your self.

Until next time...