originally posted on my first blog 2/1/16....condensing my stuff!
When I moved to Rhode Island one of the weirdest moments of my introduction to the state was when I was passed on the highway by the notorious CANDY CANE CAR.
As the years have passed I have always been overjoyed by encounters with of the car on the highway- always trying to catch a glimpse of the driver (who wears a full helmet to hide their identity). From the humorous "not for sale" (but has a phone number) to the hubcaps, and a seat on the roof - I always leave our drivebys in wonder, amazement, and usually a better mood.
Recently I relocated and have been overjoyed to learn that this candy-cane car owner LIVES NEAR ME!!!! Driving by the house, I am always smile filled. The lawn frequents signs such as "free snow" after 2 foot-snow falls and "free christmas trees", two months after christmas. The smiles that this person's creativity bring to not only myself but to anyone who sees their endeavors is even more beautiful because there is no way to thank them. It is a pure offering of joy to strangers with no form of repayment neccessary or possible.
This awesomeness got me thinking- how can you creatively share joy with strangers? What skills do you have that can be shown off to bring happiness to others? Many partake in putting up Christmas lights/shows at the holidays to bring smiles to others - but how can this idea be shared year round?
Sometimes a strangers bad day can be totally cured by seeing a candy cane car.
What is your candy cane car? How will you be conjuring strangers smiles????
Returning to work after a nice break can be a horrible adjustment. The only thing that makes it worse is having an extremely heavy work load to return to.
At the end of the work day yesterday, I headed home knowing that my counterpart had a huge assignment dropped on his team that needed accomplished by this am. I knew that group would be working late or busting their humps all this morning on the last minute project. On the way into work this morning I contemplated grabbing some munchkins from Dunkin' Donuts and bringing them in for the team. My thought being everyone loves munchkins and these guys are going to be miserable today, so maybe a few tiny doughnuts will brighten their day and make them feel a little appreciated.
Everyone gets stressed at work.
Everyone has irritating last minute assignments or times when they need to work late.
Unfortunately it is not often that these efforts get rewarded or even acknowledged.
Why is that???
Is it because we assume that acknowledgement/thanks should be coming from a boss? Is it because we don't take the time to notice our counterparts efforts? Is it because we don't appreciate the efforts that others put in because we are too focused on our own tasks?
I am not sure the real answer. Maybe its a mix of all of the above.
I guess here is my take away. The next time you see a co-worker going above and beyond, showing signs of overwork stress, or doing something incredible - consider bringing in some munchkins. Or baking brownies/cookies/cake. Whatever floats your boat. Don't wait for someone else to show appreciation. You are capable of doing it.
You are capable of making others work day more thank-filled and less horrible.
originally posted on previous site www.lovesomemore.com on 1.7.15 prior to combining sites...
It seemed only suiting to awaken to a gray and dreary morning as emptiness and discouragement filled my soul this am. Donald Trump has won the presidency. My heart yearns for a leader who inspires the best out of people and unfortunately our next president does not uphold that trait. My heart saddened for our future generations who during this time of economic and climatic turmoil, we need leaders who encourage our love and support for one another, the environment, and our future.
Many will disagree. This was proven via the polls last night. And congrats to them. But for me personally my disillusionment for this entire election cycle has been brought about due to the lack of any candidate that I truly and completely look up to. Neither filled that definition for me, but with Trump winning the hatred and disparity that he represents seems to be what is glaringly painful to accept.
After hours of quiet, heartbreaking solitude I was finally led to something positive.
I am done waiting for these leaders to break the cycle. To improve the broken systemic flaws that are impacting everyone daily. I have been feeling this way for sometime but this morning something that was holding me back, broke. I finally gained courage and felt empowered to do something.
I emailed a list of people who run groups that I believe are impacting the world in a good way- I thanked them. I asked how I could help.
I looked into some volunteer opportunities with non-profits that are at the ground floor making an impact. I took a serious look at the list of places I am applying for full time work and narrowed the list to things that my heart knows is for good.
The Bernie Sanders movement showcased the strength and empowerment that can come from individuals taking a stand for things they believe in. Why should that stop during election cycles? Why do that only apply to getting someone in office? What if everyone took a few hours from their week and donated time, energy, their work, their resources, their signatures, or their voice to a cause that they felt would actually better the world from a grassroots perspective? What might happen if everyone who complains about the state of issues made baby steps towards remedying the issues we say we are so concerned about?
For me personally this boils down to how can I aid the environment? How can I positively impact climate change? How can I do this on a community level, not just a personal household level? How can I support the education system nearby? How can I aid with the impoverished and homeless in my area? What can I do to support issues like Standing Rock? Where can I best impact NAACP and racial disparity issues? How can I help get healthy food in the hands of the poor? How can I aid with the lack of nutritional education that is so painstakingly missing and is leading to so much pain and disease in so many? Who can I correct when they say something hateful or bigoted - in hopes of improving our division as humans?
I am done feeling like a lost sheep looking for a shepard. It is time to truly embrace what grassroots mean and start building the world I want to live in. Waiting for someone else to do it will continue to drain my naive and hopeful heart.
So on this gloomy, leaderless, hope crushing day...I am trying to find a leader in myself.
Maybe I can become what I so desperately want to see leading others.
Maybe I can even inspire a few others to join in.
Reality crashes down hard on you when you know that you are returning home from an around the world adventure- jobless and have become a thirty-something that will be living in your parents basement. The planner in me basks at the idea of another high paying corporate Project Management gig, so that I can max out my savings and can feel comfortable about future investments and expenditures. But the person that I grew to love during my six month excursion, REALLY hates that idea.
So what's next?
One of the best things about seeing the world is meeting people with a vast variety of backgrounds, expertise, experiences, and passions. I stayed with a poet, soldier, translator, pianist, restaurant owner, roofer, teacher, waiter, farmer, coach, journalist,....hippies, black guys, white guys, asians, middle easterners, brazilians, spanish, italians, norwegians, finnish, japanese....and there was ONE COMMON THREAD that stuck with me.
Many people who rent out their homes via Air BnB are not the richest in the world. But many are truly and deeply happy because they are following their passions in life.
The best example of this was the couple in Japan who live a shoestring lifestyle. The husband paints to live music on weekends and the wife starts each morning with yoga. Every day they spend 12-14 hours out of the house pouring their heart and soul into the art school that they opened, where they do awesome things with kids (like put on native drumming music, cover the furniture in tarps and have the kids climb underneath creating 'cave drawings'). They were some of the happiest people I have ever met. Each day their eyes were filled with excitement to inspire and share their love of movement, music, art, and self expression with a younger generation.
On the other end of the spectrum was a work-a-holic so focused on saving up that he put his passion for stand up comedy on hold. The more we got to know him, the easier it was to spot his deep sadness day in and out as he trudged from job to job, doing things he hated, working with people he loathed. But at night as he told us jokes or showed us video of his old stand-up comedy gigs, he lit up. That is when his beautiful soul emerged.
So here is whats next for me... things that light me up. Things that fill my heart with happiness. Experiences, jobs, and endeavors that allow my passions to shine.
I may not be as well off as I once could have been, but I will be happy, and that is how life should be lived. Happily.
So that's my new goal for me. Not to let this passion driven adventure end today.
Call me a hippie. Call me a dreamer. I am calling it LIVING.
So whether it be telling jokes, doing a martial art, slaying motherhood, performing artist shows, writing plays, traveling the world, reading, gardening,....ensure you are making room for that which you are passionate about. Maybe you can't afford to do this full time- but YOU CAN'T AFFORD TO NOT MAKE TIME FOR BEING TRUE TO YOU. Make sure you are filling your heart with the things that make you shine and make sure you are sharing that love and glow with others. Because if you aren't, then you are missing out on really living. You are missing out on truly connecting with others. You are missing out on whats so magical about us as humans. Our ability to light up. To inspire one another. Our ability to fill our souls with things that ignite greatness in us.
I return tomorrow, excited for all the wonderful places that my passions are leading me.
I urge you to wake up tomorrow, with the exact same goal.
In pursuit of greatness it is easy to give up on yourself. To think you are undeserving. To quit when things get hard. To take the easy path. To feel sorry for yourself. To give up when you are faced with discomfort.
These past six months I quit my corporate world job and got to live the life of an elite athlete. Here is a recap of the harshest lessons that I learned while pursuing my goals....perhaps my struggles will aid in an easier path for your trek to greatness!
The Importance of being TURNED DOWN. Rejection is painful. It makes you feel worthless, unwanted, crappy, unneeded, worthless, valueless. At international training camps you have to go up to other judo players and request for them to go with you. You set "dates" with partners to battle with for each round. If you don't do this, you will have NO partners. You will sit in a room, filled with 6 mats and hundreds of dedicated athletes- alone, cold, and not improving.
My first international training camp was in Spain... I would go up to person after person, and of course no one knew me so I got rejection after rejection. I was mentally exhausted. I wanted to just go back to my room and cry. I wanted to sit alone and feel sorry for myself for the constant rejection.
Instead, I kept asking.
"Oh we can't go round 3? How about 4? or 5? what about 6? How about this afternoon? How about tomorrow?"
"Hey World Medalist- yeah I am a no one, when are you free?"
"Oh new girl, I am a new girl - when are YOU free?"
Instead of letting the pain of rejection stop me, it empowered me. I kept at the girls that I wanted and eventually was able to train with all of them. Persistence was key. I was not going to let rejections keep me from my goals and my optimal training. I refused to sit cold and avoided on the side of the mat. I refused to feel sorry for myself.
I refused to let others keep me from getting my goals achieved.
Others would not stop my work or keep me from my goals.
The people in the world that have the best luck are the ones that are turned down a million times.
The men who get the most dates, ask out the most women. The people with the best jobs - had been rejected over and over again for similar positions until they landed that role. And the best athletes at camps, were at one time, the new person at camp that got rejected.
I left camp braver, more self assured, and with a body covered in bruised proof that I found partners every round. (And encouragingly by my third camp I was entering practices with partners already lined up...and Olympians asking to go with me!)
The Importance of RED belt rounds (going after it). In Japan many of the practices I attended consisted of a handful of players being given red belts. They were deemed the fighters for the next 20 minutes. If you were not given a red belt you had to go up to a player with a red belt and request to go with them. Simple. Right?
The issue was this - 4 people have red belts. 20 people do not. If you want to get in ANY practice that day, if you want to better yourself, you have to be the FIRST person out there (beating the other 19)- requesting a turn.
This was a huge challenge for me. It was unnatural for me. I felt rude pushing in front of others, I was worried I'd run out and the red belt would say no thanks, and I was overwhelmed with introverted paralyzing fear.
As I stood on the side of the mat, missing opportunities to train, I realized that I needed to be bold. I needed to put my needs first. I needed to not fear being turned down, pushing someone out of the way, or being seen as too aggressive. If I wanted to have a partner-if I wanted to get better, I had to go out after them. I had to see who I wanted and run for them before anyone else. I had to be ok with being turned down by one red belt and immediately run to the next.
Eventually I wasn't happy with settling for a red belt whenever I could get one. I wanted these players during their first round. When they were fresh, not tired, and at their strongest. I would plan out the best place to stand to ensure I got to them first. I would bolt towards them or try to pre-plan with them to ensure I was their partner first.
I went from hesitant & nervous, to one of the most aggressive non-red-belts at the training sessions. I refused to let my anxiety and personality characteristics keep me from better myself and getting the most out of my practices.
If your goals are out there - and others are lined up for the same thing - get selfish. Get aggressive. Put together an action plan to be the first out there. Be ruthless.
Training internationally in red belt rounds and at Olympic Camps taught me the importance of ignoring my timid introversion in order to reach my goals and improve myself. If you have goals you have to GO AFTER THEM.
It is scary. It may be uncomfortable. You will have rejections. You will face obstacles. People will avoid you. But to be successful, this is what I learned:
Whether its a mentor, job, or even a date - if there is something you want, go out after it.
But go for it anyway.
Two weeks without a computer and limited access to paper. My brain was literally breaking down in terms of needing to write. I didn't realize how inherent writing was to my being, processing, and sense of self until I was fully locked away from it!
I can recall being in grade school and even then loving to journal. However I never saw myself as a writer. TJ was the writer in class. He had a journal with him at all times - during down time he would create these fantastical worlds on paper. I remember thinking to myself- THAT IS A REAL WRITER. THAT IS WHAT THEY DO. HE HAS SOMETHING SPECIAL. A REAL WRITER has a magic senses of other worlds and a constant influx of ideas to shape. I wasn't creative like that. I didn't have that gift. Because I couldn't associate myself with the definition that I had correlated with "writer", I wrote myself off! I ignored my love for it & sense of calm from it, because I didn't fit the definition of what I had idealized a writer to be.
This is a harsh lesson that I have learned in many capacities of my life.
LESSON 1: There is NO pure definition for ANYthing!
Do not let your preconception of what something is (or should be) discount yourself from doing it! Do not let your ideas, definition, or projection of what should be, stop you.
⦁ With the Olympics just ending there are tons of "underdog" tales on all of our minds- the boy who beat his idol Phelps, the 42 year old gymnast, Sakshi Malik- the Indian female wrestler who won a medal, the non-placement of unstoppable Jordan Burroughs, Simone Manuel- the first black american women to swim away with a gold, .... All of these underdog stories remind me that someone believed in themselves despite the critics and pre-concieved ideas about who belonged and what an athlete in their sport is.
Be Inspired by this!
Do not be defined by the cookie cutter molds. REDEFINE THE MOLD. BE YOUR OWN. Be better than the mold. Be special. Stand out. Break the barriers.
LESSON 2: Just because you aren't naturally gifted or talented in the craft that you love, does NOT mean that you are not destined to excel in it.
Yes, some people are naturally bestowed with talents but the best in the world are the people who contain passion and accept a "growth" mentality. This means acknowledging what you lack in skill but truly believing that with effort, dedication and hard work you will obtain those skills. Do NOT quit on yourself. Put in the work and the talent will come.
LESSON 3: Be True To YOU
You can try to silence a skill, a love, a passion- but your heart will break and your livelihood will suffer. If your day lights up by filling it with something that sings to your soul- give into it! Allow yourself to be expressed fully and embrace the things in you that light up your heart!
So here I am, 20 years out of grade school, finally accepting that I am a writer. It is in my soul. TJ was gifted in so many fantastical was that I wasn't. But I have a voice also! I own that mine may not be a natural talent, as his was. Mine is a truly different voice with an unimaginative, un-enchanted, but full valid, semi-inspiring voice. It has taken me living with hippies for 2 weeks, filled with lots of downtime (and no internet) to contemplate life and realize what sparks my days. It has taken this reprieve for me to embrace how huge writing has been in my entire life. From childhood journaling, to epic note writing in high school, as an outlet for abusive relationships- it has always been an outlet and sanctuary for me. I have lots of growth ahead of me to improve my writing, however I am really happy that my brain is finally listening to my heart about what makes it sing.
What activities perk you up?
What does your soul crave when it is void from your day-to-day?
What is holding you back from believing in your abilities?
Who are you at your core?
Take a listen....and give into it!
I distinctly remember at recess racing to be the first of the kids at the swings so that I had maximum air time. There was magic in the swing set that no other playground equipment had. As you hurdle yourself off the ground and propel yourself upwards, the air blowing in your face you are immediately desiring to fly higher. To see more of the sky. To feel weightless and carefree.
Soaring upwards you feel light.
Like a bird floating through life.
Disconnected from all the madness, people, problems, and insanity that lies below you at ground floor. You soar towards the heavens, the blue skies opening up with beauty and peace.
But much like life anytime you soar upwards you immediately are catapulted back down. You are only gifted the reward of that serene flotation if you work for it. If you pump your legs and thrust your hips hard enough to catapult yourself back up into the wide open.
As a child the swings were my absolute favorite. And then middle school happened and recess wasn't a thing. Then high school, college, and 'real life' happened and I forgot about swings. My love for them never died - just remembering them- and making time for them did.
Yesterday I walked by a park (as one often does) and for whatever reason I made a mad dash for the swings. It was my first time on them in years. It was still as magical as when I was a child! Except I feel like I appreciated the fresh air, shining sun, trees above, laughing children below, and rush of lightness more yesterday than ever.
Maybe I found some symbolism in swinging that I never saw as a child. That the best things in life, you have to work for...and the more work you put in, the higher your soar.
Maybe I appreciated the moment with nature more. I am recently finding a sense of love for laying at the beach at night to stare at the overwhelming intensity of the stars and my role in the universe. I am making efforts to look up at the trees instead of down at my phone as I wander the streets. I am loving breathing in freshly cut grass as I partake in runs. Being in the air gives you a connection with nature unlike others- a birds eye view if you will. Like most interactions with nature you leave with a sense of your smallness in the world and a deep sense of connection with what really matters.
Today I walked by another park...and went on the swings again.
I urge you, next time you see a swing set - embrace the inner child that never stopped loving the rush of floating, the connection with nature, the lesson that your hard work will make you soar, the feeling of escape from all the everyday-ness below, a sense of freedom, and most importantly a reason to smile and laugh.
Run like its recess and you need to be one of the first kids there so you have a spot.
Get on a swing.
Bring yourself a reminder of what matters.
It is hard to believe that two months ago I was having panic attacks. I was dreading having to quit my career of 9 years and leave behind all that my adult life had known. It was the hardest thing I have ever had to do and the fear nearly broke me.
Two days later I was on a plane heading to France with 2 bags, a bookbag, my husband, and a stomach full of worry.
The second I landed in Paris all of my fears vanished and I can say that this has honestly been the best two months of my life. It is true what they say- the hardest part is facing your fears. That following your heart will never be regretted. It is true that things are always hardest before the best things come.
Since embarking out of the work world my adventure has led me to the most beautiful town in France where I got a plethora of physical training and incredible partners who were willing to work 1-on-1 for my improvement. I had the pleasure of experiencing Ramadan in an Islamic country during a time where the west is so fearful of Muslims- I got to see and feel the love everywhere, all the while training with the best that Africa had to offer. Then I flew to Spain where I embarked on the most physically challenging two weeks of my life- banging heads with past and future Olympians, the best in the world - leaving camp performing better than when I arrived and with a new level of motivation and appreciation for judo.
So here I sit, two months into my adventure, in the birthplace of Judo in the lovely Tokyo. I am surrounded by a culturally rich environment, clean city, and more judokas than imaginable. It is literally a dream come true.
Some things that I didn't expect was the challenge of learning how to fill my days. A few weeks in, I felt guilty for not "doing more" - so I was fervently looking online for "work from home work" and signing up for tons of classes. But I woke up feeling stressed and then was losing sleep, and suddenly I realized there was no need.
I have since stepped back and instead am filling my time with whatever I find fulfilling.
To my surprise this has meant morning yoga practice, reading ALOT, exploring the top rated places to see in each city we visit (never thought I'd enjoy a soccer stadium...but it was surreal), day dreaming about potential future jobs/paths, writing, contacting loved ones at home, learning a language (slowly), watching movies before bed, playing MAGIC (thanks hasbro), joking with the hubby, learning to cook quick/easy/cheap, taking an online class, and of course lots of training! Not having the demand of working on my plate it's been incredible remembering what it is I actually enjoy doing. Many are the same things I loved as a kid...but just forgot about as 'life' took over.
When is the last time you acted like a kid- and just spent the day filled with activities that made you smile? No "must-do" lists...'Obligations" ignored...but just spending the day doing what makes you happy in life?
If you have not done so recently - DO IT.
You only live once. Fill your days with things that make YOU happiest.
Spend time learning what those things are.
Spend time remembering what they are.
Two months in and here are my big takeaways:
I can't wait to see what these next 4 months have in store for us!
What do they have in store for you? Hopefully some scary and happiness filled days....
Being 6 weeks into this job-free, world-tour, judo-training venture I have had a ton of time to reflect. Here are a few realizations that I have made thus far:
The key take-away: Take some time for YOU. Make some time for YOU.
Believer that everyone is special.