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Monday, April 25, 2011

Mon 4/18 - Mon 4/25... Day's 109 - 116

I miss blogging!!!!

It's funny because I feel like so much of my life has been lived on the road these last two months.  It seems like every other day I am waking up in a different country, immersed in a different culture, exploring a new world.  I am still in shock and sometimes giddy with delight when I look back at the last two months... I have seen some amazing places (Machu Picchu, The Harbor at Rio), I have ate some amazing, and not so amazing (anyone remember the Guinea pig) food.  I have learned new sayings and expressions.  The word amazing does not even begin to describe it.  Amidst the whirlwind of travel I have experienced the last two months it is funny the little things that I am really starting to miss, amongst those being blogging, who would have thought?!

I think blogging for me is a way to stay grounded, to stay connected to people in this rapidly flying by year I am living.  There are times where I am so busy with work, the 1000 Challenge and just plain all out living my life to the best of my ability, that I feel I get disconnected from the world.  It is funny because ultimately one of my goals of the 1000 Challenge is to hopefully gain a greater understanding of and a greater connection to humanity so I can better teach/help people to live fuller, richer lives.  I guess sometimes you got to disconnect a little and get out and explore life in order to better reconnect in the future.  It's like those movies whenever someone is trying to hot-wire a car.  They usually have to hit the wires to together a few times... disconnect, reconnect, disconnect, reconnect, before the car finally turns over and works.

I love teaching and I love helping people that is why I am in the field(s) that I am.  I feel like blogging is a way that I can teach and pass on the wisdom I am learning via the 1000 Challenge to all of you.  Which by the way, those of you who share your stories with me via email or comments on here; I really appreciate all of them and I do my best to read every single one of them - thanks for sharing and contributing and please continue to do so.  My hope is that through this blog we create a little mini community and we all grow together over this year.  I know many of you are already taking part in your own self created challenges; keep them up and keep me posted on your successes! 

Being on the road has given me a lot of time to reflect and think about what I want to blog about more so than when I am at home.  As I told you a while back I typically do not plan my blogs out, I just start typing and see what happens.  For the most part that is how this one has been written, but the central theme I want to share has definitely been thought about over the last week.

Life is what you create of it.  I have read 100's of books written by everyone from self help guru's to successful business leaders that focus on this topic.  I have believed in the concept of it for a long time, but never was successful at living it.  And as much as I wanted to believe in it whole heartedly... every time life would throw me a curve, no matter how big or small, I would use that curve to disprove it.


This year I wanted to change that.  I wanted to remove the word concept from the sentence "I believe in the concept: Life is what you create of it." And instead of believing in it as a concept, I wanted it to become just a way of living, a way of existing.  Not only that instead of just "wanting" to believe in it, I decided I would just set out to believe in it to embrace it.  Hence one of the underlying themes of the 1000 Challenge, "Little Fact about life... it is Meant to be Lived."

One of my goals this year was to spend at least 100 days on the road away from Santa Barbara.  I want to do this to practice for how I envision my career evolving.  As I make more of a transition in my career, I envision more traveling with clients, more speaking roles, and A LOT more teaching to large groups.  This is what I want.  So the 100 days came up as a great way to practice life on the road.  Only problem how am I going to successfully pull this off?

Peru was the only planned trip prior to the start of 2011.  Then all of a sudden opportunity presents itself to go work in Europe, South America, friends suggest ideas like a boys weekend in Monterey... suddenly the goal is seemingly like a strong reality, why?  Because life is what you create of it.

I lived so much of the last year and half of my life haunted from the all the pain and loss that I discussed several blogs back (for those of you who are newer here it is the blog entitled "Why the 1000 Challenge.").  This year I wanted things to be different, I wanted to live, experience life free from the pain, the hurt, the loss... I wanted to live like I have never lived before, and guess what, I am.  Not just this year, but for probably the first time in my life I move through the day free from hurt, free from pain, free from stress, anxiety etc... Sure there are some hiccups here and there, I have plenty of times when I feel down, sad, stress etc..., but as a whole, I feel free! Why? Because life is what you create of it.

I wanted to laugh more, play more, achieve more, work with more people, broaden my client base, be able to communicate my thoughts, ideas, feelings to people all around the world.  I wanted to help, inspire, work with, motivate, teach more people than I ever have at any other time in my life!  And guess what, I have! Why? Drum roll please.... Because Life is what you create of it!

I am not telling you any of the above to brag, on the contrary I want to share with you what I have learned.  Life is what you create of it is not just a concept or a fanciful ideology.  No, it is real and it works, I am living proof of it.

Yesterday one of my friends asked me, "how do you do it?  How do you function so well and get so much done on so little sleep?"  My reply, "I am more excited about being alive right now than I have ever been at any time in my life.  I wake up and for the most part I am not tired, but rather I am excited, excited to get up and see what the world has in store for me." I told him about how I used to wake up tired all the time... I used to stress out about "having" to get eight hours of sleep and I would be so stressed about it that I would go to bed frantic; if I was setting myself up to only getting maybe seven hours and 33 minutes.  And as a result I would wake up tired, all the time!  Now, for the most part, I wake up refreshed, motivated, and excited, (note: there are still definitely some times where I am sleepy.  At the end of the days especially when I am tired, I am TIRED!!  Right now it is almost 11pm here in Amsterdam and I am typing to you through half opened eyes... I will be going to sleep as soon as I finish here).

I talked a little about travel and creating opportunities to explore.  Last night I visited the famous "Red Light District."  I returned back to my room about 2:20am, I answered a few emails and finally went to sleep just before 3am.  I awoke when my alarm went of at 6:37am.  At first I was groggy, but jumped out of bed reminding myself that the reason I was getting up was because how often do I have the chance to explore Amsterdam!  So I got up, got out and explored, why?! Because Life is what YOU Make of it, and I wanted to make the most of it.

I can't say it enough... Life is what you make of it, LIFE is what YOU make of it, LIFE IS WHAT YOU MAKE OF IT.  None of this just happens over night, it takes time, hard work, dedication, desire and resolve, but the above is not just a concept, it is real and it can be your reality if you want it.  Over the course of the 1000 Challenge there will most likely be 100's of life lessons I learn in addition to the ones I have already shared with all of you.  If you forget everything that we talk about over the rest of this year, save for one thing, make sure that one thing you remember is this: Life is what YOU make of it.

Enjoy the pics,

Carpe Diem,

Jesse







Monday, April 18, 2011

Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat & Sun... Days 104-108

Wow, it feels so good to be home.  I am sitting in my own bed as I type this out during the wee hours of a California morning.  As much as I love traveling, love seeing the world, love experiencing new things, and love my job... I am really craving some consistent at home time.  As I have gotten older I have fallen in love with where I live for different reasons than my younger days.  I crave the serenity the beach and mountains provide... it keeps me grounded, focused, and provides a great retreat from my full speed ahead, sun up to sun down lifestyle that I live.

The last few days in Brazil were really great.  In the midst of the long days and nights of work I was able to sneak away and see some beautiful sites.  I made it to the top of the Sugar Loaf, up to the Christ Redeemer statue, walked through a couple beautiful parks, and capped it all off with hang gliding before I jumped on a plane for 16 hours of travel home.  I look back at the pictures from my trip and I have to admit, I am really proud of myself for all I was able to see/do while in Brazil.

Past work trips I didn't accomplish as much.  I would toss my "ME" time aside and instead make myself 110% available for work.  While my focus, anyone's focus when having the opportunity to travel for business should be on their job, their clients, their main purpose for the travel, it does not mean they have to give every single second of their time for that.  We all are still entitled to a few hours each day to call our own.  And it is in those hours we have the opportunity to go out and explore the world around you.

I have received several emails talking about "how lucky" I am to be able to have the opportunity to go to all these places and do all that I am doing.  I am not a big fan of the word "luck" when used in this context because to me it is implying that I won something, like I won the lottery for work.  I instead prefer the term "fortunate" and I will tell you why.

The opportunities I have created for myself to travel have come because that is what I wanted.  When I travel for pleasure it is a result of consistently setting aside enough money in cash so I can pay for the trip out right.  I budget the trip out in advance, estimate my costs: food, transportation, housing, what I want to see etc... and start saving according based around that estimate.  I am not going to lie, on some trips in order to save a few bucks, I'll spend the night in my rental car and then take a shower at the gym the next morning.  It may not be glorious, but many times it saves me enough money and is the difference maker between me being able to go somewhere and me having to wait longer to go.

When I travel for work it is much different.  First, I am in the position where I can travel for work because I spent years and 1000's upon 1000's of hours over the last several years building myself and my business up to the point where my clients valued myself and my service's highly enough that they would want to take me with them on some of their work trips.  I have been fortunate enough to find my passion for work right away.  It has made it easier to dedicate as much time and energy to that which I do because I am so passionate about it.  My clients have seen this consistently for many years; and it is that passion, that determination, and that desire to help people live richer, fuller lives that has put me in the position I am today.

When I am given the opportunity to travel for work, I get to go to places that I financially may not otherwise be able to at this time in my life.  Once I am there though, what I do with that time is on me.  I can tell you from talking with other people who were in Brazil due to similar circumstances as myself, no one did or saw as much as I did - we were all there for the same amount of time.

I say the above not to brag, but rather to illustrate the difference in how people choose to use their opportunities.  Lots of people were stoked to have the opportunity to go lay by the beach, or out by the pool in their down time.  Others, wanted to sleep and re-cover from the long travel there and prepare for the long travel back.  Myself... I do things a little different.

One of the greatest compliments I have been paid this year came from one of my very close friends and clients who lived in Hawaii for a number of years.  Upon returning back from Hawaii she told me, "I lived there for all that time and I feel like you did/saw more than I ever did.  It makes me want to go back and explore."  Take advantage of opportunities as they are presented to you.  Many of you live in places I would love to go and see and explore... I would love to experience and learn about the culture.  You have opportunity in your back yard, take advantage of it! 

When traveling somewhere for work depending on the schedule for the day to come I will usually knock about 1-2 hours of sleep off of my normal sleep, meaning I go to bed an hour later and get up an hour earlier.  By doing this it frees up two extra hours for exploring.  Another trick I do is that I combine exercise with exploration; a lot of those beach pictures I shared with you it was because when I went for a run I would run with my camera so I could add in some exploring time with my dedicated exercise time.  I plan!  I can't stress how important that is when you are traveling on a time budget with work.  Typically you have an idea of what your work required duties are the days to come, where it will be at (hotel conference room or other location), and with that knowledge you can anticipate what you may be able to do/see.  There were 100's of more things I would have liked to experience/do in Brazil, but I got to do what I did because of utilizing the above strategy.

And staying true to the 1000 Challenge by trying to do as much free stuff as possible you will note from the nearly 40+ things I accomplished on my list, almost every single one of them were free.  Of the three or so that cost anything, only hang gliding was expensive.

I am sharing the above with all of you because it has nothing to do with luck... I am fortunate enough to be presented with the opportunity, but from then on it is up to me to go out and make the most of it.  It is my choice to sleep or explore, it is my choice to research and plan or to not to, it is my choice to seize the opportunity put in front of me to go out and see and experience as much as possible in what little time I have.

The above luck vs. being fortunate is a very important distinction.  How many times in our lives do we give up on pursuing an opportunity someone else may have and justify it as the other person being "lucky."  Luck gives us an excuse, it gives us a way out, it gives us a way to let ourselves off the hook for maybe not working quite as hard as we could have, for not maximizing every minute that we could have.

I can say Richard Branson, one of my hero's, is very lucky because he has these big companies and gets to go to all these places and has all this money and does all this fun stuff.  That's not the reality though.  He is one of my hero's because he had a learning disability, grew up very poor, but despite those disadvantages he didn't let himself be deterred.  He instead maximized what he did have... his tenacity, his ambition, his desire to succeed and built the Virgin empire up from a small newspaper/magazine ( I can't remember which at the moment) company that he ran out of a tiny loft, into what it is today.  In those early days he never dreamed of music or airplanes, but they came about because what he did dream of was achieving goals and doing business in his own unique way.

It is not about luck ladies and gentlemen.  Are their people that get lucky in life and win the lottery, sure, yes.  The odds of winning the jackpot are something astronomical like 1 in 42 MILLION!!! Those aren't very good odds, I prefer to go with the following strategy.  Hard work + passion + desire - self doubt - excuses + Carpe Diem (I had to throw that in there!) = the opportunity to create the life of your dreams... the life you choose to live.  Life is not about getting lucky.  If we spend our life waiting to win the lottery that means every day more than 42 million of us are going to wake up and be disappointed.  The United Sates has a population of approximately 400 Million people if we all live for the lottery then only 10 people each day are to be happy and the rest are left waiting for when it is their turn to get lucky??? Why?

Not every single one of us is going to have the opportunity tomorrow to go to Brazil, to go to China, to scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef, to go on an African Safari, or travel to the Moon.  However, just because we may not be able to go tomorrow doesn't mean we can't start planning for the future.  And just because we are planning for something big in the future doesn't mean we can't do something small today to make our tomorrow better.  And just because not all of us can do complex math, (algebra, calculus etc...), doesn't mean we all still can't practice the daily math skills of a very simple formula that goes something like this: Hard Work + Passion + Desire - self doubt - excuses + Carpe Diem = ________________ the opportunity for you to fill in the blank with whatever you want.


Enjoy the pics,

Carpe Diem,

Jesse









Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tues 4/5 - Tues 4/12... Days 96 - 103

I am not going to lie after writing the last blog, "Why the 1000 Challenge," it took a lot out of me.  I've been told of the cathartic power of writing, and while writing that blog drained me on an emotional level that I did not think possible, there was also a very healing element to it.  It was like coming clean to everyone.  Thank you for all the love and support on that one particular post, it meant, and still means, a lot.

I am in my hotel room here in Brazil.  I finally got caught up enough with work that I was able to reward myself with a good night's sleep.  If the gym was not calling my name this morning, I would have stayed in bed longer, it is so comfy and my eyes were extra happy staying closed this morning. 

Working from the road is tough.  I am beyond fortunate that my work has brought me to a beautiful place like Brazil, but that beauty creates even more of a challenge.  I can easily entertain myself for hours staring at a beautiful view taking pictures.  It is funny how much I am falling in love with photography.  A few years ago you couldn't pay me to take a picture, now you have to pay me to stop.  There are so many beautiful views abound here in Rio De Janiero that I could spend all day everyday walking around, taking pictures and exploring.  However, being here for work the majority of my time is dedicated to clients.  Thus  I have to be really on top of my game and maximize every extra second possible to ensure I can see as much of this beautiful place as possible.

I have talked before about the 1000 Challenge and how much it has gotten me to open my eyes to see more of the world around me.  Learning that discipline has been even more imperative here.  I was showing some friends some of the pictures I have taken so far while being here and they kept saying, "where's that at, where's that at."  They were so impressed with everywhere I had been... wondering how I was finding the time to go out and see so much.  I explained to them it all comes down to the desire to explore the world around you.  I am getting a reputation as the "activities" organizer :)

This learned desire to explore has been such an amazing help amidst all the traveling.  Last week I left my house in Santa Barbara at 430am for the airport.  When I landed in Brazil it was 530 am California time, the next day... 25 hours of traveling later.  In the midst of long days like that there is a limit on the opportunity to explore, unique experiences etc... However, it is possible and I have the 1000 Challenge to thank for it.  While my friends went to sit by the gate in New York's JFK airport I used some of hour remaining layover to seek out the "History of American Airlines logo" display.  Sure, it is not the most exciting thing on my list, but what was exciting about this particular challenge on my list is that it is one of the most challenging ones to complete. 

I have been in a lot of airports the behavior in them is almost fully automatic.  Check in, go through security, go to bathroom, go get food, or go to gate, board plane, fly, exit plane, go to bathroom, exit airport, or go to connecting gate; repeat as necessary.  Airports, more than just about any place I can think of sets us in an "autopilot" mode we are focused solely on the task at hand the world around us is none existent.  I wanted to change that, to have that world exist in the same way I have discovered so much in the rest of the world. 

I found the display, spent a few minutes there, took some pictures and then found my friends who were waiting by the gate.  I explained to them that in researching JFK airport this was the one thing in this terminal that was of noted significance.  What was cool is this then lead into a 20 minute discussion on how amazing it is how far aviation has come over the years.  That then lead to a discussion about some of the coolest memories we have had during travel which then lead to a discussion of the places we wanted to go and why.  Success!  From the 1000 Challenge came a great time with my friends in the airport, in the midst of 25 hours straight of traveling. 

Pretty cool when you stop to think about it... we live in a world where something new, adventure, excitement, opportunity is available around every corner we just have to go look for it.  Sure, my JFK adventure is by far and away not the most exciting of the 1000 Challenge, but is a great illustration at the opportunity that I am finding to make my life better and more rewarding as a result of the 1000 Challenge.  I got the sense of satisfaction of staying on point and doing something new every day, but more than that, I got the great conversation and the good times with my friends that came as a direct result of the 1000 Challenge.  If more laughs, more fun, more adventure and excitement with friends and family isn't worth opening your eyes just a little bit more to the world around you... I don' t know what is???

Ok, I have to run now.  It's time to start the bulk of the work day.  Also up on the agenda for the day... a quick visit to Ipanema Beach!  I am sure there will be 100's of pictures!

Enjoy the pics,

Carpe Diem,

Jesse








Monday, April 4, 2011

Sat, Sun, & Mon... days 93, 94, & 95

Why the 1000 Challenge...

As a result of the 1000 Challenge, I have received 100's of emails from people all around the world asking questions, offering up advice and words of encouragement; the out pouring has been nothing short of flattering.  One of the questions I am most consistently asked is why 1000?  Or, what made you decide to do the 1000 Challenge?  I give reasons that are all true, but for the most part, I have left the substance, the real deeper reason's out behind the 1000 Challenge.

The last several weeks I have been feeling the need to get all this off of my chest.  Knowing that it will come up sooner or later, I have been feeling this week that now is the time to share.  I have been thinking about it, how to write it, what people will think etc... non stop.  So, what follows is the best attempt I have at being emotionally genuine, emotionally vulnerable, raw, authentic, and a number of other adjectives I can't seem to come up with right now.  Please note:  I am not sharing this to seek out sympathy, but rather the exact opposite.  My hope is that people will see what I have experienced and how I am attempting to take those experiences and use them as a positive force.

Please note: some of what follows is extremely graphic, I am going to attempt to write as "real" as possible as it is the only way I know to take you to the places I was.  Also, I may at times express opinions or trains of thought when writing what follows.  It is not my intention to be offensive to anyone.  One last thing, I just wrote the proceeding because when I blog I write off of a train of thought.  For this particular blog, I know what I want to talk about, but am not sure how it will come out yet.  I do not go back and change the blogs, but merely make grammatical corrections for this blog I will not do even that.  It is to emotionally draining and I do not want to ruin the authenticity of the emotion by spell checking.  Apologies for excessive spelling and grammar errors.

Ok, here we go...

June 15th 2009, I was on top of the world.  I was strong, I was confident, I knew what I wanted out of life, where I was going and I was surrounded by the people I wanted to travel through life with.  My business and the opportunity within it was growing rapidly.  I was surrounded by an amazing group of fun loving friends.  I was dating a girl who I loved and was very close to.  I had recently gotten a taste for travel for the first time in my life, venturing off to Europe and Australia.  Life was good... no, life was amazing!!

Sure, I had my day to day stresses; I had my bills that needed to be paid, I had my ups, downs, and bumps in the road just like anyone else, but those were nothing more than just that, bumps in the road.

I have to take a deep breath before typing anymore... phew...

At about (I say about because with the passing of time, I can't remember the exact minutes anymore, but I know I am within 5-8 minutes) 1:50 pm Monday June 15th, I get a text message from my friend Mav (Mav aka Maverick is the nickname I called my friend by.  He in turned called me Ice aka Ice Man after the characters in Top Gun) and it says "I love you all."  Mav had recently broken up with is girlfriend of over three years and was struggling with the loss of the relationship.  I immediately tried to call him back, no answer.  I sent him a text saying, " I love you too buddy, what's going on?"  No answer.

At the time I was in the library, working, and I shut my lap top and tried to shake out what I felt, deep inside of me, was going on.  I called my friend Tomas and asked if he had received the same text, he hadn't, but he asked me "Are you worried?" I said, "Yes, worst case scenario worried."  Without hesitation he said, "I'll come get you."

While waiting for him to pick me up I tried calling Mav's work, his ex-girlfriend, mutual friends, anyone who might know where he was.  Tomas grabbed me and we headed for his Mom's house.

We scoured his Mom's house, looked through every window trying to find Mav.  We were about to break through a window to get inside when, at 2:38 I got a call back from his ex girlfriend.  "Jesse you are scaring me."  "M, I need to find him right away, I'm scared he's going to hurt himself."  She gave us the address where she had last seen him that morning.

Tomas and I pull up to the house at 2:45pm.  Mav's uncle is there and I tell him I need to find Mav.  I explain to him my concern and insist on him letting us into the house.  We are in the house by 2:50pm.  As this was going on and what I later found out from M is that she had sent Mav a text telling him "What's going on?  Jesse is looking for you and on his way over, he's really worried.  Please do not do anything, I love you.  I am on my way over."  At 2:46 pm, 1 minute after Tomas and I had parked the car... Mav wrote back to M, "I'm sorry, I love you."

Mav's uncle goes up stairs and opens the bathroom door.  I already have my phone in hand, finger on the #9, ready to dial... I don't want what's about to happen, happen, but in my heart, in my gut... I know what is to come.

Mav's uncle: "There you are... what are you doing in here, everyone is downstairs looking for... what the fuck!" He comes out of the bathroom: "Call 911."

Tomas goes for his phone, his hands are shaking.  "I got it I tell him."

I dial 911 as we both run upstairs.  It is amazing how much time slows down in situations like this.  As I write this, I can feel everything from that day again, I can hear it all, I can smell it all.  At the time as it was going on, I went into this heightend state.  I had at any given time four streams of conscious thought going.  One that could clearly communicate with the 911 operator, another that could focus on cpr and trying to keep Mav alive, a third that was crying out, wanting him to be ok, and a fourth questioning myself wondering if it is right for me to be here right now, trying to interfere with his choice?

Tomas and I get inside the bathroom and find Mav, one of my best, closest friends of the last four years of my life; someone who I had partied with, chased girls with, shared stories with, shared hopes and dreams with, my "wingman,"... we find him lying in the bath tub filled with water that was so blood stained you could not even see the bottom of the tub.  He was alive and gasping for air.

Wow, I really thought I was going to be ok writing all this, but I am amazed at how much I am crying right now.  Apologies if this gets confusing.  I am struggling to keep a straight train of thought.

Tomas and I get him out of the tub and begin CPR.  The 911 operator is on the phone telling us to locate the wound.  The problem is there is so much blood we can't tell where it is coming from.  We get Mav's uncle out of the bathroom, he went into shock.  We see a knife on the tub, then I spot a small pistol, no bigger than the size of the palm of your hand, lying at the bottom of the bath tub.

Almost instantly upon discovering that we start to examine Mav's head and discover that the parts of his head that were supposed to be kept inside his skull, were on the outside.  Mav had shot himself in the head.  As he lay there, gasping for air, Tomas and I alternated back and fourth from keeping his head wound closed and performing chest compressions on him.  Mav, one of my best friends in the world was now dying in my hands.

The paramedics got there in less than 5 minutes and took over.  I walked out of the bathroom only to see Tomas standing in the hallway is arm, his legs, stained red, the innocence in his eyes, completely gone.  That image of Tomas standing there, that image haunts me more than any other from that day.

Mav's girlfriend had arrived, I went over and hugged her and told her, "No matter what happens, this was hi choice.  I know how much you two loved one another."  She said when she went upstairs that my body blocked her view from what was going on.  Thank God she didn't see anything.

Three hours later, Mav was pronounced brain dead.  The next day he was taken off of life support.  That following weekend, we held his memorial service.  I spoke, requesting my friends to not make eye contact with me as it was the only way I would be able to hold it together.

In the months that followed, life changed drastically for me.  I struggled with my friendships.  It became very hard for me to relate to my closest friends. Tomas and I rarely spent a day without hanging out, I saw him maybe four times that entire summer.  My relationship ended, we had gone from being so close to distant.  As I struggled to find my way again, she struggled to find her own happiness independently of me.  I was a mess.  I relocated my business and with that relocation severed a friendship/business partnership.  I struggled at work, I attempted to give what little bit I had to my work to try and keep myself afloat because all those bills that needed to be paid kept mounting up and I was running out of space on the credit cards.

December came quickly and with it the promise of 2010, a new year, a new start... an opportunity to put the pain of the past six months behind me.  Instead of going home for Christmas, I chose to travel solo for the first time in my life.  I discovered a deal for the Dominican Republic and off I went.  This trip was to be the celebration trip, my "get back to living" trip.  I'd see my family sometime in 2010.

I came back from the trip feeling better.  My life was still out of sorts, my friendships still weren't where they once were, I still was morning the loss of my girlfriend, and I still was not 100 percent at peace with Mav.

January a major earthquake strikes Haiti.  My friend and I had been talking for months about bringing to light a dream of his he had had for a long time.  To have a group of first responders that when disaster strikes that are there to do whatever they can to help.  I left for Reach Out World Wide's ( http://www.roww.org ) inaugural deployment on my birthday, January 17th, 2010.  (as a side note, if you haven't checked out Reach Out World Wide's website, please do so at the above link.  Also, check out our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reach-Out-Worldwide/139139139467280 we are a completely 100 percent non profit.  So any donations, love, words of support that you throw our way is deeply appreciated.)

Haiti was an amazing experience.  I was repeatedly humbled.  I wasn't in the country for more than 45 minutes and I was carrying a guy off a bus who had just had his arm completely severed from the shoulder down.  His leg was in a full cast and his face was covered in bandages except for one eye to see with. Time and time again I caught myself dwelling on my problems while I was surrounded by 100's of people who had lost everything: possessions, family, friends, body parts.  IF these people had salvaged anything from their live's before, it fit in a half full hefty trash bag.  This was a country where the majority of the population had nothing to begin with, and now...

Yet every night they celebrated.  They laughed, they sang, they prayed... they celebrated the gift of life.  They understood the gift of life in such a unique way.  They realized have precious life is and that it is something that is to be celebrated.  No matter what they had, no matter what condition they were in, they were just grateful to be alive.

I left Haiti feeling refreshed, renewed, and committed to getting back to living life.  For the last 6 months I had been surviving, I wanted to get back to thriving.

I returned home from Haiti on Monday, January 25th feeling the best I had felt since before Mav.

On Sunday, January 31st I called my Dad.  Him and I talked on the phone for 18 minutes and 32 seconds that day.  We talked about Haiti, all that I had learned.  My Dad had recently been given a clean bill of health two weeks earlier, a cancer survivor that was told he cancer was in full remission.  As a result, my Dad was excited to share in the life lessons I had learned in Haiti.  It was one of the best conversations I had ever had with him.  I hung up the phone, my chest swelling with confidence.  I felt like myself.  There had been moments over the last 6 months where I had felt like me, but in this moment, I was back to being me.

The next day, Monday February 1st, 2010, just after 9am, my Mom calls me: "Jess... your father is dead."

All the what's the how's went running through my mind.  I didn't cry, I calmly drove down to the airport to see how much a plane ticket home would cost.  $550, way more than I could afford.  I drove home and began packing.  Tomas came home and held me, I broke down.  He took my car to get my oil changed while I packed.  I drove the 600 miles to the tiny town of Fortuna in complete silence.  No radio, no music, nothing except for my sobs and the phone calls.

On Tuesday, February 2nd, I saw my Dad in a mortuary.  It was the first time I had seen him in over a year.  I could have seen him at Christmas time, but I choose to go to Dominican Republic.

What he died from is unknown.  He had been complaining of sharp pains in his spine the day before and  repeated bouts of violent dizziness.  He did not want to go to a hospital as he had such a rough time when going through chemo.  My family does not have a lot of money and the cost of an autopsy was to much, heart attack, brain annurism, who knows.  He died, leaving a large amount of debt that has put a great deal of stress on the relationship between myself, my mom, and my brother.

My Dad was an extremely kind person.  He struggled with money his entire life and yet while living with constant financial pressure, he did everything he could to remain optimistic and positive.  He knew how sensitive I was to all of it and so he never discussed it with me when we talked opting to focus on the good and the opportunities that lay ahead in life.  I never got to know my Dad, as an adult the way I wanted to.

The next several months were a struggle again.  How could this be?  I finally had moved past the pain of 2009 and now, my Dad?  How? Why me? What did I do? etc...

It took me the majority of 2010 to get back to feeling like myself again.  In August I climbed Mt. Whitney.  A few weeks prior to that the idea of the 1000 Challenge had been born.  In a discussion with two friends/clients one suggested I should try to do something new everyday for a certain period of time.  Finally I said, I want to try to do 1000 things I have never done before next year.

Within a couple of days I sent out emails to friends, family, associations, asking them for suggestions... I began to build the list.

As 2010 slowly wound to a close I reflected back on the last year and a half of my life.  I pledged that in 2011 I would survive no more... that this year I would focus on thriving.  That this year, I would take every tool, every belief I hold and put it into practice... that this year I would live the life of my creating.  I promised myself that I was going to embody everything I teach people about when I work with them as a trainer and life coach.

And so, three months into 2011, here we are.  And that is in essence the story of the 1000 Challenge.  My hope is that in sharing the preceding with you, you see that I am just like you.  I am a flesh and blood human full of hopes and dreams.  I hurt, I cry, I feel pain just like all of you.  Do I convey a lot of positivism to you all, yes, but it is a choice I have made to try to live the majority of my life that way.  Does not mean there still isn't some hurt, some struggle in there.  I get sick just like all of you, I make more money than some, and I make less than others.  I make mistakes, I piss people off, I do all of it.  What separates all of us from one another is the choices we make on how to set out and live our lives.  Easier said than done right?  We all will go through bad spells, rough spots, we may not have a choice in that, but we do have a choice in what we do after.

No matter what happens with the 1000 Challenge, no matter what I do, no matter what Challenges are completed... it doesn't matter how big or small they are.  It doesn't matter if it is traveling to some country around the world, or taking a picture in front of a local tourist place.  It really doesn't matter, but what does matter is that I do it.  That I wake up each and every day and go out and pursue the gift of life.  That each and every day I remember the lesson the Haitians taught me and wake up and be greatful for the opportunity I have to live this day.  What matters is that each and every day I wake up, I go out, and I Carpe Diem ... I seize the day and make the absolute most of it.

And that my friends is the story of how the 1000 Challenge came to being.  And that is what the 1000 Challenge is all about.  Thanks for sticking with me to end on this blog it really means a lot if you are still reading.  I am drained, this took a lot out of me to write.

I have included a link to a speech I gave for suicide prevention.  Please check it out.

 Suicide Prevention Speech


Carpe Diem,

Jesse

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Tues, Wed, Thurs, and Fri... Day's 89, 90, 91, & 92

Well I made it back home for a few days and have been greeted with some amazing weather!  I made it back just in time for the sunset on Thursday.  As I was standing out on the side of the road, down at the beach, luggage in hand, still wearing my pajamas from the airplane, a lady comes over to me asking if I had seen the sunset the night before.  "No, but I heard it was amazing," I replied.  I had heard it was amazing and if amazing sunsets are to be seen I do not want to miss them.  That 15 word exchange between the two of us lead to a 30 minute conversation as we stood and watched the sunset, cameras in hand - it was pretty cool.

So when I was in London, I tried out a duvet for the first time.  At least that's what i thought those separate looking toilet things were called.  You know the things that you can use after you "GO" in place of or in addition to toilet paper.  I was later corrected by my friend after I explained my ordeal with it that it is not called a duvet, a duvet is some sort of additional blanket you put on your bed?, but rather it is called a bidet.  In case you are not sure what I am talking about, I have included a picture at the end, and, just because it is so funny as it is so literal and straight to the point... here is the definition of what a Bidet is: "A bidet is a low-mounted plumbing fixture or type of sink intended for washing the genitalia, inner buttocks, and anus."

Hopefully we are now on the same page.  Part of the 1000 Challenge is to try new things and experiences out, to get as authentic as possible feel of the culture, to put myself in awkward and uncomfortable positions in hopes of learning and growing from it.

Before I set out to explore London, there is a rumble in the jungle, aka I have to "drop the kids off," aka I have to go "#2," aka I have to poop, crap, Sh**, you get the idea.  The opportunity presents itself, time to Carpe Diem, time to seize the day and finally try out the Duvet, I mean the Bidet.  I mean if it is there it must be good for something right?

As I am doing my "business" on the toilet I am analyzing this bidet thing trying to figure out how the hell it works.  The faucet of it does not seem to angle up, and if I sit on it, I assume that my big butt will block out any sort of chance of it cleaning where it is supposed to be cleaning, which leads me to the conclusion that I must fill it up with water first and then place my rear in the water for a soak?  Hmmm, ok, seems kind of peculiar and time consuming that it would take that long to use this device, but seems logical so I'll give it a go.

As I am finishing up on the toilet, the bidet is filling up with hot water (I don't want to be cold), I try to sit down on it, the water line is still to low, which leaves me standing there, pants down around my ankles, waiting for this thing to fill up so i can "clean" myself.

Finally, the proper water level, my butt was long past being "ready" for a good cleaning.

I line myself up over the bidet and begin to sit down, suddenly realizing that my ass is to wide to fit on this thing... "shit," I exclaim (pun intended).  I have to adjust.  I decide a new approach of (and I apologize for the graphic-ness of this, it is necessary for the story... you all are REALLY getting to know me now), spreading my butt cheeks to allow the appropriate areas access to the water.  Success!

I am finally nestled in the bidet, hot water surrounds my nether regions, I am feeling a sense of accomplishment when suddenly, I lean to far forward causing part of my "man parts," the parts that dangle to make contact with the hot water.... YEEOWWWW!!  Oh man does that hurt, but not nearly as bad as what's to come.

Reflexively from the shock of having my "downstairs" area being burnt, I forcefully sit upright and back, butt cheeks still spread, and then it happens.  I push my exposed "targeted area for cleaning" right up against the bidet faucet, a metal faucet that has been pouring out hot water for several minutes... an extremely hot metal faucet that burns the heck out of my you know what.  I must of yelled out every single swear word in the book.  Not only that, but the shock of this one sends me off the bidet up to a standing postion - my "cleaning" water goes everywhere.  Not thinking, on impulse I pull my pants up, wanting to protect my violated and burned butt.  Guess, what... it was soaking wet sooo when I did that all the water that was on my butt is now in my pants.  So here I am, standing, in pain, water all over the floor, soaking wet pants, burned, but cleaned, butt.  What a site to see.

I immediately run over to tell my friend/client the odyssey I just went though.  This leads to a 10 minute discussion on the physics of the bidet, the "ideal" angle for proper cleaning, and both of us being doubled over laughing.  To funny!

Well, now that you guys all know, in great detail, what I do in my spare time, you are probably wondering why I just told you all about my trip to the bathroom.  Where's the life lesson in all of this.

My hope was in sharing this, that it got you to laugh.  We sometimes keep some of our best stories private because they are deemed socially "inappropriate." Think back to when you were a kid how many giggles you got out of a good fart.  Now, most of us are repulsed at the mere mention of the word.  When the reality is if we were all to just relax and do a little more re-connecting with our inner child's, the world would be such a happier place.

Laughter is so under utilized in our world today.  It is so sad to see more people walking down the street, stern, straight faces, as opposed to smiling happy faces.  I have told the above story to 5 different people since being home, and each time I tell it, we both are doubled over laughing.  If you find yourself feeling down today or you have low energy and you want to change it, make yourself laugh.  Burp, fart, watch a funny movie, call up a friend and ask them to tell you a funny story.  You want to make a new friend, or make a new memory with an old one, make them laugh.  Let go of the things we "think" we are supposed to talk about and let the good times roll.  Share an embarrassing story, let others have a giggle at your expense.  I certainly hope you all did at mine.  Laugh, Laugh, and then laugh some more, it is the best medicine and is so good for the soul.  Every time you laugh, that is one less time that you can frown.  Never underestimate the power of a good laugh, it can change the world.

Enjoy the pics,

Carpe Diem,

Jesse