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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Lessons from My Dreams Part 2

The reason this post is titled "Lessons from My Dreams Part 2," is because two years ago I wrote a blog with the same name about a dream I had about my Dad.  If you would like to read that blog, click here.

A couple days ago I had another dream that I wanted to share with you all.  I have told myself on numerous occasions that I want to start being more mindful about writing my dreams down.  When I woke up from this dream I quickly typed up notes on it and boy am I glad I did as I feel the meaning of the dream sinks in more now than it did when I was experiencing it.

Have you ever seen the movie "The Never Ending Story?"  If you haven't, I highly encourage you to watch it, it is a fantastic movie.  The reason I ask is because some of the characters and themes that appeared in my dream were from the Never Ending story.

The last few months I have been spending a great deal of time reassessing my values and what my highest values are in life (more to come on this in future blogs/videos).  What I have discovered is that love has always been my highest value, I just never identified it directly (again more to come at a later date). 

I share the above because it sets the backdrop and provides the inspiration, I think, for the dream.

In the dream "The Nothing," (the same Nothing from The Never Ending Story) was coming to consume the world. The Nothing is essentially a void of darkness that consumes everything, especially all light and love.

In my dream I took on Atreyu's role as the hero.  I realized the only way I could save the world and stop The Nothing was by poring as much love as possible into The Nothing.

Even though I was up against The Nothing, a gigantic void of darkness, in my dream The Nothing, like most bad guys and evil things, had an evil layer that it liked to linger and lurk at.  I conveniently knew where this was and was able to drive over to it... again, very convenient. :)

On the drive over, someone who had been consumed by the nothing got in the car.  The person was dark and soulless. he looked like a cross between an evil zombie and an evil ghost.  He tried to get me, but I was able to grab onto the side of his head and focus on pouring my love into him.  This was the first real test of my strength and I was able to free the person, but doing so left me in a weakened state after.  This process repeated as I continued moving towards The Nothing; every time I gave my love to fight The Nothing, I was drained of love available to give.

I had reached a point where I was so drained that I felt like I was not going to be able to continue on when suddenly Falkor ( a half dragon half dog from The Never Ending Story) appears.  (Side note: as a kid Falkor was one of my favorite movie characters.  I used to pretend that one day he would appear and I would jump on his back and together we would fight bad guys and help those who needed help.) Falkor had somehow managed to escape The Nothing.  When he flew up to me I began to cry tears of joy because I realized I no longer had to face The Nothing on my own.  (As I slept I could feel the tears running down my face, the dream was that powerful.)  I jumped onto Falkor's back and off we went to fight The Nothing.

Falkor got me to where I needed to be and I began to make progress in my fight against The Nothing, but as I continued to fight on, I had begun to die.  I was dying because I was rapidly running out of the love I had to pour into the fight and was not getting refueled.  Much more was going out than what was coming in.

At some point during this fight, I am transported to a briefing room, the type of room you see in the movies where all the military people are sitting around making decisions (the best part about dreams is the ability to time travel and be in multiple places at once.)  While in this briefing room I am shown a map of the world and how fast The Nothing is consuming the entire planet (think any Zombie movie where they show the map and how fast the virus is spreading).

Everyone looks to me to decide what to do, but they can all tell I am dying.  That is when a few people stand up and offer to help me fight The Nothing.  When they do this I regain some of my strength, it is like their act of kindness/love refilled me enough so that I had more love to use to fight The Nothing.

I resume my fight with The Nothing and again am making progress.  I can see the top of the hill where The Nothing resides, but the hill is getting steeper and steeper and I again am running low on energy.  The Nothing is to powerful and has to many minions and evil allies. At this point in the dream I am fighting an army of The Nothing's prisoners.  I am running low on energy and slowly begin to die.  I see something in one of the prisoners, I don't know what, but I go to her and pour what little love I have left into her.  As I do this and she changes, she changes back to a human and then into a warrior who begins to fight along side of me.  I free more prisoners and they continue to turn into warriors who help me push on up the hill.

The warriors are able to hold off The Nothing's evil minions long enough for me to make my way to the final battle at the center of The Nothing.  I am in the car driving up the hill (don't ask me how I got back into the car, it is a dream remember) right before I get to the top of the hill, which has now turned into a mountain, I stop the car because I don't have the strength to drive anymore.  I begin to cry, again, feeling defeated, feeling like I am letting the world down.

Suddenly people show up and offer to help.  I recognize some of their faces as people who I freed earlier in the dream.  One picks me up and helps me back in the car, another takes over driving, the 3rd begins to hug me, and then hugs me tighter and tighter.  This person hugs me as tight as they can and tells me, "thank you, I am so grateful that you are fighting this fight to save all of us and give us all a chance at life."

This act of love, their embrace and words, from the unidentified person give  me a new level of strength.  I felt like Link from The Legend of Zelda must have felt every time he got all of his hearts fully recharged.  I actually think that image popped into my head during the dream.  ( See this video for an example ).

Before I go into the final battle I am able to record a speech that eventually gets played around the world.  In this speech I talk about how love is the ultimate power and that if we all, from this day forward, live our lives focusing on loving others and putting our love out into the world, then The Nothing and all other evils have zero chance of ever existing again. (In the dream the speech is very heartfelt and dramatic).

I charge into the battle and then the dream ends with The Nothing being defeated and white light fills up my mind.  I do not know if I survived the battle or not, but I was aware that The Nothing's presence had been eliminated.

I have reread the above a few times now and each time I find a new metaphor or a new interpretation of different elements in the dream and the dream as a whole.

What do you think of my dream?  Are there any particular elements to it that stick out?  What metaphors did you find?

I would love to hear your thoughts.  Please share them in the comments below.  If you found value in this blog, please pass it onto your friends and encourage them to "subscribe" to it.

I am looking forward to hearing what you all think of my dream.

Carpe Diem,

Jesse

Monday, July 21, 2014

Transformers vs Critics, a Metaphor for Life

Have you seen the new Transformers movie?  If you haven't, it is a must must see, so much fun!

I will do my best to keep this post free of spoilers for those of you who have not seen the movie yet.

A couple quick updates before I begin:

International Trash Clean up Day is this Saturday, the 26th.  Are you ready?  Click here for more info.

Signups for Six Weeks to Your Greatest You begin this Friday for the RSVP list.  Remember I will only be taking 20 people in this program.  If you would like to have your name added to the RSVP list please email me by clicking here.

Let me first start off by saying that I am a BIG kid at heart.  There is nothing more my inner big kid likes to see than to see his childhood hero's come to life.

I rarely go and see movies in the theater unless they are ones that involve childhood hero's like Optimus Prime, Wolverine, and Spider Man coming to life to kick some bad guy butt.

Easily my favorite film franchise of the last several years has been the Transformers.  So you can imagine my excitement when Transformers, Age of Extinction debuted in theaters. 

Before going to see Transformers, I did my best to tune out the "critics," who seem to like to ban together to do what their name implies and criticize these movies.  I don't want to have my viewing experience influenced by people whose title implies negativity and criticism.  Similarly, I do not want my life experience influenced by those who insist on criticizing.

I have seen the movie twice now and loved it both times.  The first time I saw it my little eyes welled up with tears of excitement when the Dinobots made their debut.  It was an amazing moment.  I went to see it a second time to see if I enjoyed it as much as the first, I did.  My eyes started welling up even earlier in anticipation for the Dinobots.  Hahaha, yes, GEEK moment, I know! :)

After watching the movie I read some of the critics reviews.  Most of the reviews were littered with lines like "the plot has holes," "the movie is loud and long," etc...  Lots of criticism, and very little praise.

A couple days after my second viewing I got into a discussion with a guy at the gym.  He told me he did not like the movie, I asked him why?  He responded, "Optimus Prime flying at the end, c'mon."  I retorted, "You do realize you were watching a movie about aliens from outer space who can shape shift into cars, right?"

He then said, "Well there were like three slow motion sequences where the people go flying and the robots catch them and the people don't even have a scratch on them."  I calmly replied with, "and in this same movie there are robots who can shape shift into dinosaurs that breathe fire, and that is ok/normal?"

My point in all this, is this:  I know Transformers is not the most well acted movie or anything like that, but it sure as heck is fun, if you are willing to go in there, suspend beliefs, and watch with the wide eyed excitement we all used to have as kids.

If we could all learn to take life a little less seriously and focus a little more on having fun and being kids, I think we would all enjoy life a little more.  If we could all learn to focus a little less on the "critics" of life and a little more on the needs of our inner children, I think we would enjoy life a little more. 

In life there will always be critics, there will always be people that focus first on what is "wrong" with something instead of what is "right."  Life comes down to perception.  How we choose to perceive, ideas, events, actions, and people will change the way we view and live our lives.

Make it your mission to look at the world with the wide eyed excitement of a little kid.  Do this and you will be in store for some amazing fun.

Carpe Diem,

Jesse

P.S.  I would love to hear what you do to bring out your inner big kid.  Please share your thoughts/ideas.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Swimming with Sharks a very Special Trip

Hi All,

I hope this blog finds you smiling and happy.  If that is not the case, I hope that by the end of this blog you will have smiled at least once, and experienced a few happy thoughts and feelings. 

When I was 5 or 6 years old (or around this age) I saw the movie "Jaws" for the first time.  It literally scared the shit out of me.

No joke, by the time the movie got to the point where Jaws eats the guy in the little jetty area in front of Chief Brody's kids, I was in the bathroom crapping uncontrollable with freight.  

Also around this time, the first season of "Baywatch"had made it to TV.  Towards the end of the season one of the lifeguards, Jill, was killed in a shark attack.  I vividly remember sitting on the toilet, crying, saying "Jill why did you have to die?"

After these two experiences I was terrified to get near the ocean, go into the river, or even get into a swimming pool.  I would still go into pools and the river, but not before nearly hyperventilating and psyching myself up telling myself "it is ok."  It took me moving to Santa Barbara to be able to finally get up the nerve to get into the Pacific Ocean.

At an early age I wanted to get past this fear.  My best friend growing up owned "Jaws," so every time I would have a sleepover at his house, I would watch the movie.  I can't begin to count how many times I stayed up late, while he slept, making myself sit through the movie, trying to get over my fear.  To date, by my best estimate, I have probably watched this movie well over 30 times. Haha

Several years ago I set out to start facing my physical fears.  I went skydiving, rode on some roller coasters... I faced all of them except for the sharks.

I actually had bought a ticket to go and do the shark dive in early 2010, but the earthquake in Haiti happened, and I decided going over there to help was a better and more important way to spend my time than going to the Bahamas to swim with the sharks.  The sharks would still be there.

Over the next four years I talked often about doing this trip, but the trip didn't happen because I didn't make it happen.  Instead life went on, time passed, and the trip remained in the back of my mind.

Beginning with the end of last year, the last several months of my personal life have been very challenging.  I lost the two people I was closest to: one killed in a tragic accident, the other to changing life needs. They were (and still very much are) the most prominent, important, and loved figures in my day to day life. 

A couple months ago I began talking with my good friend Steve about how I needed to change things up and do something to help me get back on track.

(Before I go any further let me be clear.  I am a happy person, and I have worked very hard to condition myself to experience daily happiness in my life.  With that being said when you experience losses in life that person's departure brings with it certain emotions, thoughts, etc... I am a firm believer in experiencing these thoughts and feelings as they are important in the grieving and healing process.  What is essential is that when we are experiencing them, we do not become them.  I think the worse thing a person can do for their own healing process it to lie to themselves and pretend like they are fine, etc... when at times they are not fine.)

Steve and I decided that the timing was right to plan on doing the scuba driving trip to Nassau, Bahamas, to dive with the sharks.  Steve's brother joined us.

The trip was an amazing experience for multiple reasons.  

The flight out there was one of the best.  I had two different flight attendants come up to me and tell me that Steve and I were the nicest people they had ever had on their flight.  I took this as quite a compliment considering how many people they must meet on a daily basis.  It just goes to show you, even when you may not be aware that it is being appreciated, kindness is always appreciated. :)

The diving was incredible.  The first dive I saw three or four sharks that were just hanging out following us around.  It was during this dive that I was able to fully appreciate the beauty of these creatures.  They did not care about me or any of the other divers down there.  They were just doing their thing, hanging out.  I had psyched myself up so much for this moment, the first encounter with the sharks and how scared I was going to be, that I surprised myself about how calm I was and appreciative of their beauty.

When it came time for the final dive of the trip I found myself humming the theme song to Jaws before jumping into the water... I try to keep things real hahaha. 

On the decent I could see several sharks nearby.  When the party got started there were no fewer then 20 -25 sharks swarming around us.  Never once was I scared, only once, (when a 6 + foot shark came within 8 inches of being nose to nose with me) was I nervous.  Instead I again found myself marveling at how amazingly majestic the sharks were and how they just could care less that myself, or anyone else, was down there.

The fear that had consumed most of my childhood and teenage years was non existent.  What was there instead were feelings of peace, tranquility, excitement, joy... HUH?  How do these emotions exist in a place where Fear is supposed to exist?  It doesn't make sense, or does it? ;)

Isn't it interesting that in life we spend so much time fearing something unknown, or something we think we are supposed to be afraid of.  Yet when the time comes to face it we find that what we once feared is really not that scary after all.  I had this same realization when skydiving. 

This trip was one filled with amazing experiences, heart to heart talks, lots of reflection, lots of remembering, lots of questions, lots of love, and a lot of self realizations, insights, and understandings.

When life challenges you, I encourage you to take some time to get away and clear your head and heart.  Treat yourself to an experience so unique and so new as it will help you to become more present to your own thoughts and feelings.  Presence leads to clarity, clarity leads to the emotions you need to feel, processing and feeling these emotions leads to them being freed, freeing these emotions leads to healing.

Thank you for experiencing my journey with me.  I am curious, how do you deal with loss both loss as the result of death and loss as the result of someone choosing a different path in life? If you feel comfortable, please share your thoughts in the comments below.  I would love to read your insights and ideas.

I hope you enjoy the pics

I promise I will get some video put together soon so you can see the sharks up close and personal. :)

Carpe Diem,

Jesse 


















Something that made this trip extra special.  The place we dove at is called Stuarts Cove located in Nassau, Bahamas.  I knew about this place because Paul had told me about it.  He said he spent a lot of time here filming a movie and that the people at Stuarts Cove were some of the ones they worked with for the underwater shots.

Before I did the shark dive, I recognized Stuart and introduced myself, telling him we shared a mutual friend.  We chatted for five minutes or so and he shared with me some memories he had.

I had hoped in coming here that I would feel an added closeness to my friend at a time in my life where I wish more than anything I had him to talk to and get advice from about changes in my personal life.  Being down under the water, swimming with the sharks, I definitely felt that closeness.  It made the trip that much more special. :)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Why I Love World Cup

I am not much of a sports fan.  I enjoy going to the occasional live sporting event, and of course some WWE here and there, but aside from that I am not the guy you will find counting down the minutes until "the game" comes on.

Once every four years, when the World Cup is held, this changes, and I become a fan.

I become a fan not because I love soccer so much, (I do enjoy soccer, but not enough to get me to sit still and watch it regularly,) I become a fan because I love the atmosphere that is created by the World Cup.

I love seeing people from all around the world come together to cheer for their respective countries.

I especially love seeing this in my home country, the United States of America.  I love seeing people proudly wearing their red, white, and blue colors.  I love seeing people enthusiastically waving the American flag and painting their faces.

I have seen a lot of posts on Facebook over the last couple weeks saying, sarcastically, something to effect of: "All of a sudden everyone is a soccer fan now."

I don't think it is so much that everyone is suddenly a soccer fan, I think deep down, people want to feel like they are a part of and belong to something bigger than themselves.  World Cup provides this opportunity.

I wish this level of Patriotism would be displayed in day to day life.  Not just in the USA, but around the world.  Would it make a difference in people's day to day lives if they all felt they belonged to something larger than themselves?  I certainly think so.

The below video sums up my feelings much better than I could ever articulate in writing.  It is one of my favorite videos I have ever watched on Youtube.  It is from the 2010 World Cup when USA player Landon Donovan scored a last minute goal against Algeria.  It is one I will turn on from time to time, when I need a little extra inspiration, and when I need to remind myself that I am a part of something much bigger and much greater than just my self. I still get goosebumps every time I watch it. 

I hope you enjoy the video and I hope you all are enjoying the World Cup.

Carpe Diem,

Jesse









Sunday, June 8, 2014

Life on the Road

Hi all,

As I type this I am coming up on the end of another road trip.  This one has taken me from Minnesota, to Western North Dakota, back up through the center of North Dakota, into Manitoba Canada, over to Kenora Canada, and finally back into Minnesota where I will catch a flight home.  When the rental car is turned in, I anticipate close to 2,000 miles will have been driven in about five days! 

I really fell in love with road trips during 2011 when I was doing the 1 Year 1000 Challenge.  Doing a 1000 things in a year required a lot of changes in scenery.  During my 1000 Challenge adventures I really discovered a love for the open road and an appreciation for all the beauty I could see as part of it.  Rather than flying from one city to another and then staying in said city, a road trip allows you to experience all of the "in between" stuff; the stuff that is typically just flown over.

The cool thing about the "in between" stuff is that is usually the natural (nature) stuff, the stuff I really enjoy! 

I have been blessed to see some amazing buildings, architecture, skyscrapers, and statues.  I can appreciate them, I enjoy taking photos of them, but few leave me with that "WOW!" feeling that our natural world does.  Herein comes the road trip appeal.

I cannot begin to tell you how many mountains, lakes, rivers, bodies of water, beaches, skies, sunrises, sunsets, trees, plants, and animals I have seen.  No matter how many I see, I still find my breath being taken away and I still find myself saying, "WOW!"

There is such an amazing world out there filled with so much beauty waiting to be explored.

Not only that I love getting to meet new people and seeing how different people live and having the opportunity to experience local customs and culture that are different from my day to day life.

Driving through North Dakota, a place I had been told was not the most exciting, I found myself marveling at the lushness of the green grass and the cleanliness.  I would drive for miles and not see a piece of trash on the road.  I'd watch as the clouds changed shapes and sizes over the open plains.  It was nothing less than ... beautiful. 

After North Dakota I crossed the boarder at the International Peace Garden (very cool spot to visit) to head up into Manitoba Canada.  This was my third trip into Canada.  I love visiting Canada for the obvious reasons: the natural beauty and the friendly people.  What I also love about Canada is the sense of national pride that is evident all throughout it (at least the places I have been).

Everywhere I go, I saw Canadian flags proudly displayed  When I crossed back over into the USA passing through the town of Fort Francis on the Canadian side I saw countless houses, buildings, public structures, etc... all flying the Canadian flag.  This experience left me feeling happy and inspired.  On the USA side I did not have the same experience and it left me feeling a little sad.  As I drove by countless houses, buildings, and public structures, I kept looking for an equal symbolic show of patriotism and pride, but never found it at the level I saw in Canada.

I wonder where our pride has gone?  Where has the sense of National pride that I saw on September 12th, 2001 and the days after, where has that disappeared to?  Have we, as Americans, allowed our view of what America is, to be represented by politicians vs our own personal belief and our own personal ideas of what America is?  This discussion is for another blog, so I will leave it here.

Road trips are amazing adventures.  They do not have to cover 1000's of miles, they can be as long or as short as you want.  Road trips do not have to be expensive.  Some of my favorite road trips have been the ones where I jump in my car, bring a cooler full of food, drive to wherever I am going, spend the day there, eat my food I brought and sleep in my car ( to save money), and then drive to the next spot.  If I need to shower I will go and workout at the local gym and then shower after.  $10 for a day pass at a gym (many you can get a free one for if you look online) vs $100+ for a hotel. 

Where ever you are in the world, there is an opportunity for adventure and discovery waiting for you in your backyard!

Do you have a favorite memory/experience of a road trip you would like to share?  If so please leave it in the comments below. I would love to read about it! :)


Summertime is approaching for many of us.  I encourage you to make a plan, (or don't plan at all just go on the spur of the moment), to spend a few days with your camera, your car, maybe a few friends, and the open road.  The experience will be unforgettable.

Enjoy the pics,

Carpe Diem,

Jesse