Follow by Email

Monday, March 28, 2011

Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun, & Mon... Days 84, 85, 86, 87, and 88

I am lying in bed in my hotel room here in Munich Germany as I type this.  I made a huge boo boo when setting myself up to switch over to the local time... something I have not done for over two years.  I over slept on the plane so when I got here, at nearly 6pm local time which would be 9am back home I was really well rested.  I went to bed a little after 11pm local time and slept for... 2 hours, now I am wide awake at nearly 3am so what better way to pass the time than to blog.

It's ok though, I really do not mind, I will get another hour of sleep in before the day starts tomorrow.  Plus it has been fun getting caught up with emails. :)  Now the big question before I get into the meat and potatoes of the blog... do i eat one of those tasty little chocolate treats I found waiting for me when I got to my hotel?  Hmmmm, decisions, decisions.  I'll resist it until I have to get up to go pee, but when that happens... all bets are off!!

I am lucky enough to be traveling with one of my best friends and client's right now.  His work has brought him out to Germany and I have come with.  I have only about 3 hours to explore this beautiful city tomorrow, so when the opportunity is there I will be hitting the ground running; trying to see, taste, experience as much of Munich as I can in just a couple of hours.

It is amazing how airline travel opens up the world.  Just two days ago I was under water with one of my best friends in the Pacific Ocean in the town of Monterey... approximately four hours north of Santa Barbara.  Now I am in Germany.

I went to Monterey to go scuba diving with my good friend Steve as part of what we promised would be an annual scuba diving trip.  We made a pact that every year we would go somewhere new for a weekend of diving and fun.  This trip was our second trip.  The diving was really cool, highlighted by a female sea lion swimming with us for the last 15 minutes on our 2nd dive.  It was so amazing, and it made braving the freezing cold water completely worth it.

After we finished diving Steve and I set out to explore Monterey and talk about the going's on in our lives and what's to come in the future.  We also started discussing future dive spots, getting excited about all the cool places we could go to see just because we share a common affinity for this under water hobby called Scuba Diving.

Leaving Monterey, I could not stop thinking about how great it is to have annual traditions like mine and Steve's scuba trip.  It not only gives you the adventure to look forward to, but it gives you the anticipation of times with friends.  It gives you the opportunity to revisit old memories and to create new ones.  And, it gives you the opportunity to grow with your friends.  So cool!  I need to make it a point to make more annual traditions like the scuba trip with Steve.

On Sunday morning before we left we set out for breakfast, but first, we had to do a couple of things for the 1000 Challenge.  My only time I was going to have for the 1000 Challenge was the time before breakfast as I still had a four hour drive home, then packing, drive to the airport in Los Angeles (about 1.5 hours from my house), then fly to Germany.  So, all that meant that the time for exploring and Challenges had to come before cereal and toast.  (Side Note:  I just got up to go pee and yes I did grab one of the tasty chocolate treats.  So delicious!  I will have no Ab muscles when I get home if I keep eating all these treats!!).

So Steve and I set off and as we drove, Steve started scanning around, pointing out places of interest.  He had not been to Monterey for years, but what had happened was he had now become a part of the 1000 Challenge and it was so cool to see.  The following is the best way I can explain it:

Think about it, when you decide to go out to breakfast, for example, you are focused on the place you are going, how hungry you are, what you are going to eat when you get there, etc...  These are all normal things and I for one know it is how my mind usually works when I am going out to eat; I am focused on going to destination "X."  However, when doing that you are focused solely on the destination and end up missing out on the journey to get there.  It is like moving through life with tunnel vision.  (Put your hands up to the sides of your face and cup them around so you take away your peripheral vision.)  With tunnel vision you miss out on everything going on around you, you don't see the peripheral vision, only what is right in front of you.

What I have found as I go further and further along with the 1000 Challenge is that I am having less and less tunnel vision.  I feel like I am seeing more and more of the world around me.  Steve and I noticed places, sights, sounds, things that we would have never before, simply because we went looking for them.  We could not believe how much we would have missed out on if we had not been looking for it.

Try it out for yourself, I challenge you to! :)  As you go through your normal day today, make it a point to scan the world around you.  Do not just assume that you have seen it all, really look hard, I bet you will be amazed at what you discover.  Spend the day noticing the smell's in the air, the sounds; take a walk in the park, drive a different route to work.. create your own mini adventure.  I guarantee you, you will not be disappointed.

It's time for me to try to go back to bed. :)

Enjoy the pics,

Carpe Diem,


Well...  I have been trying to upload pictures for the last hour.  It seems the internet I am using will not let me add pictures :(  I am really sorry.  Once I am able to I will try and get some up on here or on Facebook Asap

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sun, Mon, Tues, Wed... Day's 80, 81, 82, & 83

It is 5am and as I sit here typing this, and for the first time since last Saturday, I do not hear the rain outside... does that mean the sunshine may return today??  I hope so!  I have become so spoiled living in Santa Barbara that anytime I go more than a few days with out seeing the sun and blue sky I start to feel like I have been dropped into the twilight zone.  It is a stark contrast from where I grew up and spent the first 18 years of my life, a small town called Fortuna in northern California.  It rained a lot and was cloudy and overcast a lot as well.  The nice days were nice, but few and far between compared to what I have grown accustomed too.  I probably sound spoiled, like I am whining about having to "go more than a few days without seeing the sun," but I really am not.  Rather I am trying, in a round about way, to tell you all how excited I am about the prospect of sunshine today!!! HURRAY!!!

Since I am telling you about my sun-less, rain-soaked days "problems," I might as well tell you one other problem that I have been having.  The 1000 Challenge has me on the computer a decent amount, definitely more than I am used to.  As a result I have been getting a lot of tightness/stiffness in my neck (yes, personal trainers... Nazi's of posture, do in fact slouch, scrunch, and slump over the computer screen just like everyone else).  So to try and rectify this "problem," I have taken my desk chair and set it up over my legs and have my laptop up on the chair so I am sitting almost at eye level with my screen.  Note:  I am sitting on the floor as I type this.  So far it seems to be helping... I'll keep you posted :)

When I start typing a blog out, I really have no expectations of what I am going to write about.  I have ideas, but no real clear line of thought.  Ideas I had going into this blog were: about how excited I was to break over 2000 "Likes" on Facebook this last week!!  Thank you everyone who is posting a link to the Facebook page on their wall and passing it along to their friends.  I can't tell you enough how much it means to me... it means a lot! I thought about talking about how excited I was to see that there is now 110+ of you all following my blog.  I feel humbled that you find my blog, my journey, interesting enough to follow; thank you and welcome new friends.

So as I'm sitting here pondering what to write about, going over the last 4 days of experiences, one of my best friends just sent me a text message.  The guy she has been dating has done something to really hurt her and it has left her feeling not special.  Those of us who have had those "not feeling special moments," know exactly what it feels like.  In fact, I bet many of you just physically felt it reading the last two sentences.  That "not feeling special feeling," is that feeling where your heart starts to beat faster and you feel sick to your stomach.  Not only do you start to feel physically ill, but mentally you begin to think something is very wrong with you, like your broken, not good enough, not ______ you can fill in the blank.

I have realized over the years we humans give ourselves to much credit, we really are much simpler creatures than we think.  For all our complexities, technology; at the core of who we are we all desire really a few basic "things", universally across the human race.  Amongst those "things," we have a deep desire to feel special AKA to feel loved.

Love/specialness comes in many many different forms as you all know.  Romantic, friendship, kinship, respect, etc... they all present different forms and different opportunities to love.  The great thing about love is it is the most abundant natural resource we have on this planet, and arguably the most precious.  The problem is that for all the love that is available we are not taking full opportunity to harvest/share it.

Last night, the 1000 Challenge took me to a Baptist Church service.  The service began at 7pm and I was torn about going.  The rain had finally stopped and the sun had come out, I could tell it was going to be a beautiful sunset, but I "HAD" to go to this service to keep the 1000 Challenge going.  Yes, I "HAD" to go, that was the attitude I had when faced with sunset vs. church.  The excitement I had earlier about the experience of the service had been replaced by morning the loss of the pink and orange colors I would miss the clouds turn.  Poor me!

So the church I had chosen to attend is in one of the poorer parts of town.  I have attended two other church services prior to yesterday.  One a Catholic at the immaculately well kept, well preserved Santa Barbara mission, and a Christian one at a seemingly well funded church.  The Baptist church from last night was not in the same category as the other two in terms of it's immaculateness and wealth.  It was very simply and very un-assuming, blending in with the houses in the neighborhood that it is located in.

I make peace about the loss of my sunset and go inside.  There are only nine other people inside, two of them are kids and one is the person who is leading the service (I do not know if the Baptist refers to him as a reverend, father, priest etc... and I do not want to offend anyone by my ignorance so I have chosen to use the phrase "person who is leading the service").  So the person who is leading the service sees me walk in and immediately comes over to me to tell me that the English service is around the corner - I am in a Spanish only service!

What an experience this will be.  In my broken Spanish I tell him I would like to stay and that I am trying to learn more Spanish.  I sit down in the very back thinking my 6 foot 3 inch 220 pound frame will be well hidden there.  Suddenly everyone gets up and comes back to me to introduce themselves, in Spanish.  I can understand this much, until everyone starts talking to fast.  They insist that I come and sit at the front with them.  So I do.

The service begins and I am surprisingly following along well.  It helps when trying to learn a language to be in a learning environment where you have an idea of what they will be talking about.  The street "slang" is removed and more formal speech, like the type you learn in school, is utilized.  About 45 minutes into the service I am asked if I would like to read from my Spanish Bible.  "Ummm, hmm ok."  I apologized first for my poor Spanish and then read, I finish and get... applause.  Two minutes is then devoted to complimenting me on: one, my willingness to try, and two that I read the passage very well, in Spanish.  I felt special.

After the service everyone came up and introduced themselves to me again, smiling warmly, and telling me how much they appreciated me coming and doing the Spanish service.  They all encouraged me to come back on Sunday, Wednesday, for this event and that event... it was really cool, I felt special.

One of the people I met talked with me for a few minutes in English and told me he was trying to learn English and gave me his phone number, proposing for us to be conversation partners.  YES!  I have wanted someone to be a conversation partner, to practice with forever!  It was so cool he didn't even hesitate and offered that to me, I felt special.

The service leader took me upstairs to the small education office after the service and was showing me the selection of elementary level books they had.  He started showing me children's books, educational books, biblical books (at this point I have been listening intently in Spanish for over an hour so my brain is starting to get a little tired translating); then he started handing them to me. I asked him in "Spanglish" (a combination of English and Spanish) when I needed to return the books back to the church, "No, no take them, they are a gift," was his reply.  I have bought enough books to know that each of these books I was holding was probably at least $25-30 dollars.  And now, this seemingly very poor church was giving me, someone whom they had just met, who speaks at about a third grade level of Spanish, now they were giving me all these books so that I could better learn Spanish.  They do not know me, they do not know if they will ever see me again, and yet they were so eager to help me in my desire to learn.  I felt special.

The church, as a physical structure, seemed very poor in terms of money.  What I found on the inside was it was very wealthy with that precious natural resource I talked about earlier, it was wealthy with love.

Humans, for all our technology, complexities, for all our hopes, fears, wants, desires, we really are very simple creatures.  We all want to be loved and to be made to feel special.

Want to make today memorable, make someone feel special.  Want to make a difference in someone's life today, do something to make them feel special.  The smallest of acts like congratulating someone on their reading, agreeing to be a conversation partner, offering up books to study with... the smallest of acts, the tiniest of gestures can move mountains and make someone feel special. 

Enjoy the pics,

Carpe Diem,


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat... Days 76, 77, 78, & 79

As I lay here in bed warm and safe from the howling wind and poring rain outside (Yes, it does storm occasionally in sunny Southern California), I am mapping out the day ahead of me... something that has become a must to accomplish work, life, and the 1000 Challenge.  I have been reflecting on the last week and it feels like it has been one of my best weeks so far.  Not because I did anything spectacular, but because I think finally, after 12 weeks I have figured out how to balance the 1000 Challenge with work and life.

This week I spent a lot of time with friends, something that time has not allowed so far this year.  Monday was a dinner date with one friend, Tuesday made Super Hero Capes with two others.  Wednesday afternoon was a boys afternoon, hanging out with my friend and housemate for the first time in forever.  Thursday was St. Patrick's Day and I "lightly" celebrated with two different friends.  Friday brought a little happy hour amongst five friends, and later that night a delicious Italian dinner out with two other friends who I had not seen in months!  Saturday I joined a group of new and old friends for a few beers and a night of the UFC fights.

Saturday I ran into a good friend at the bar who I haven't seen in a few months.  I had confided in her a few weeks back over the phone that I was struggling with a few friends and the 1000 Challenge - I felt like they were not being supportive and instead were being jealous of the time the 1000 Challenge required.  They felt the more time I put into it, the less I had for them. 

So my friend tells me last night that she had been thinking of me earlier in the day and she said she started to get a little jealous too because her and I had not hung out.  We talked for a little bit and told her that I have finally figured out the balance of it.  I have a sense of the time commitment, the multi-tasking that is required, and I have accepted that the daily regulars of showering and shaving were going to probably remain irregular for the rest of the year. I am ok with that as long as it means I have more time to spend with the people in my life who are important to me.

I knew I would have to make a lot of cahnges this year if I was going to successfully complete the 1000 Challenge, but I did not want to do it at the expense of one of the underlining messages of The Challenge - balance, and the importance of it.

What is the point of life if it is forever in a state of turmoil.  We work so hard non stop for 40 years swearing that when we get to retirement we will stop to smell the roses; only to have retirement come so quickly and then suddenly we realize the body doesn't work like it used to.  The kids have grown and gone on to have lives of their own, we would do anything to get back a few of those years with them when they were younger, but instead we worked them away chasing the "freedom" retirement brings.

Or in my case, putting off friendships because I am "to busy."  Sure some of that is justifiable, but not all of it.  I am not always "to busy," but I have spent a great deal of the first few months of this year out of balance.  As I have slowly learned to adjust to the 1000 Challenge's presence in my life, I have slowly learned to re-balance myself... setting aside adequate time for work, for play, for friends, for 1000 Challenges.  It is not perfect yet, but it is a definite improvement. 

Try standing on one foot, you can only balance here for so long before your muscles fatigue and you lose, or fall out of balance.  It is the same in life.  We are constantly changing, constantly evolving which means we need to constantly be adjusting ourselves to maintain our life balance.  Where problems arise is when do not make the little, subtle adjustments as they come along and as a result slowly over time we fall more and more out of balance.  We spend a lot of time trying to chase after some sort of modicum of perfection, and within that pursuit we lose our balance more and more... falling into the frustration that comes with it.

I would never want to be perfectly balanced either.  Think about it, if everything is absolutely perfect in your life where is the opportunity to learn, to grow?  If I did not have the out of balance experiences I have had the last couple months, where would the opportunity be to appreciate the better balanced experiences of this week and hopefully the weeks to come? 

Don't get me wrong the last 3 months has been nothing short of amazing - I would not trade it for anything.  What I am saying is that now, feeling better balanced, I am even more excited about the days, weeks, and months to come as I know I have an even greater grasp on how I would like to live my life... balanced.

Enjoy the pics,

Carpe Diem,


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wed - Tuesday... Days 69 - 75

I knew that the 1000 Challenge would be a tremendous additional time commitment on my part.  I knew sacrifices would have to be made, sleep would be lost, social life altered, and those long sought after time management skills I have been searching for my whole life - they needed to be learned. My personal hygiene has taken a blow... I have a goal to shower once a day and to shave, well... to shave whenever I think of it (I keep my razor in plain site to help remind me).  I knew I would have to stretch my already long days to being a little bit longer to find the time to average nearly 3 new/unique experiences a day for an entire year.  What I didn't factor into the above equation was how much additional time the extras would take up.  After being home for one week... I am FINALLY caught up... with work and the 1000 challenge.  I still have to try and clean my bed off, a side goal of the week, to make my bed sleep-able... as of right now it serves as a storage space and I have taken up residence on the couch.

In the midst of trying to catch up with work and 1000 Challenge updates, I have been trying to develop strategies going into the future so as to help me continue to be successful in accomplishing the 1000 List.  This last week was a lot of quick goals, ones that I needed so I had more time for work.  Also, spa day could not have come at a better time as I needed to slow down, relax, and sleep.

I had dinner with one of my best friends last night we were talking about the frantic pace at which we both seem to be living our lives right now.  She asked me how I was feeling in the midst of mine.  "You know, I really am enjoying it, and I really am feeling good."  And that is the honest truth.  For all the long days and extra "unexpected time" that the challenge now takes up, I really have been enjoying it. I  have done and seen some cool stuff that I would have never otherwise.  I have met some really interesting people and most importantly people are becoming inspired by it.  The more emails I get, the more comments I get from all of you, from my friends on facebook and twitter - telling me how the 1000 Challenge is making a difference in their life, how it is motivating them, their friends and family... the more energized I feel.  It really has been an incredible first three months and I have all of you to thank for it... Thank You.

It is funny how the universe, how life has a funny little way of working out... I literally just finished typing the above line 10 minutes ago and then took a quick break due to writers block (and because I was starving).  I came back and saw I had a new email and I wanted to share it with all of you.  It was a heartfelt thank you to me, but I think the underlying message the author mentions is what makes it something we should all take note of:

"A few months ago got notice from my doctor that I have Major depressive disorder. And I have to eat pills for this moment to somewhere future. Not so nice to hear something like that and made me want just sleep and sleep.
Every little thing since then feels like a hard thing to do. But following you on twitter and reading your blog, I have realized that little things also can be a goal. You don’t have to set up your goal high and you can still have a wonderful day. My goals are little; making my bed, cycling to the train station or just be @ work whole eight hours. And I made them." 

I have talked about this before... the goal of the 1000 Challenge is not to mark off item after item on a bucket list.  Rather it is to do something new everyday, to make absolute each and every day meaningful - to make it, all of it, count.  Little everyday things make all the difference.  Big moments are here then gone.  I saw Machu Picchu, that was a life time dream, but I saw it two weeks ago.  Sure I have pictures and memories of it, but if I just lived my life for the opportunity to have another "Machu Picchu moment," I am missing out on the opportunity that lies within the 1000's of little moments that are given to each and every one of us every single day.  Little things ladies and gentlemen little goals, little moments, little things they are what make up the fabric of our existence, they are what make life really worth living.

Enjoy the pics,

Carpe Diem,


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fri 2/25/2011 - Tues 3/8/2011 Days 56 - 68


I don't even know where to start or what to write about.  It is funny because up until now I have kept the blogs pretty consistent and dealing with small chunks of time and events, fairly easy to manage.  Now I have a 12 day gap of time, 10,000 miles of travel, oceans, rivers, mountains, deserts, ancient ruins, bartering, the worst hotel experience ever, friendly people, diarrhea, trains, planes, buses, Guinea pigs, alpaca's, hikes, rain, and so much more to tell you about I don't even know where to begin.

I guess I'll start at the beginning and go from there.  I promise I'll try to keep this to a manageable length.

And... now i have writers block... shoot!

It is funny coming back from this trip and writing this first blog back.  In the past I reported on my travels to friends and family; clients at work... whoever I ran into and asked.  Now, this time, coming back and having all my new friends on here, on Facebook and Twitter to report back to, I am not going to lie there is a little added pressure to write something spectacular.

How do I condense an entire trip full of memories, experiences, and adventure into something spectacular?  There is so much I want to share with all of you.  I want to tell you about how the trip started off... arriving to our hotel in Lima about 1am, a hotel which we were at for only about 8 hours and in that time we saw only 4 other people... two business men and two prostitutes accompanying them (this in addition to the hotel staff).

Something spectacular????  How about the 22 hour bus ride we took from Lima to Cusco?  I wanted to see the countryside and have the "travel through country by bus experience."  A bus ride that was highlighted by some spectacular views of the countryside, me being car sick for about 15 of those hours.  Someone doing a "number 2" in a toilet designed for only a "number 1," so you can imagine the smells (we had about 10 hours of this and no it was not me that did not follow directions.  I kept it a strictly liquid bus trip.)  A bus that was on roads so windy (I just tried spelling that word 3 times I still don't know if I got it right) and one that was driven by two different drivers; one who played chicken with every on coming, bus, semi, and civilian on a bicycle.  Another who was far to timid and let every grandma and grandpa going 20 kilometers below the speed limit pass him.

Spectacular... hmmmm????  What about the ancient city of Cusco (Cuzco), a city that is built high in the Andes Mountains and serves as the main portal to access Machu Picchu.  Cusco, a city full of ancient cobble stone streets and buildings made of mud and clay.  A city full of churches and buildings that are hundreds of years old, and a city of people still practicing traditions from 100's of years ago.  Cusco, a city full of delicious food and some stuff I have never had anywhere else in the world... can you say guinea pig and alpaca? A city where we spent hours and hours walking through visiting old buildings, bartering in the large out door markets, and haggling with shop owners who were to eager to pull a fast one on some American tourists.

I guess the above was pretty cool, but Spectacular?  What about the Inca Trail hike?  Four days and three nights that took us through the Andes Mountains.  We saw lows of about 7800 feet ( 2400 meters) to highs of about 13,800 feet (4200 meters). We hiked in sun, in rain, in fog, in clouds... clouds that moved left, right, up and down, clouds that took on a personality of their own and set the backdrop for some amazingly spectacular pictures.  We hiked through rain, lots and lots of rain... so much so in fact that on day 3 it rained so much my sleeping bag got completely soaking wet and I had to sleep in my water resistant clothes just to get inside of it and be "almost" warm.  A hike where we earned the respect of the Porters by caring our own backpacks for the entire trek, back packs that weighed upwards of 45lbs at their heaviest.  The Inca Trail hike... a hike that provided lots of laughs, blood, sweat and tears.  An adventure where people separated by language, race, religion, culture, social class, bonded over the desire to hike the Inca trail and see Machu Picchu,

Machu Picchu = SPECTACULAR

Often times you see pictures of places and here stories about them that builds them up to so much that when you get there it is almost a let down.  Sometimes what we see with our eye can't capture a scene in the way that many great pictures do.  I feel I have been priviliged to see and experience some really cool places and things, I have felt that sometimes the place/experience never measured up to the actual hype behind it.  No first person interaction I had, could measure up the greatest of pictures I had already seen in book.  That is until Machu Picchu.  Machu Picchu is every bit as impressive, as mystical and magical... as spectacular as any photo I have ever seen of it.  What impressed me most was not how advanced this civilization was for their time, or how intricate the architecture is, our their attention to detail and sophistication of molding stones into the buildings and structures they became.  No.  What impressed me most was how well molded into nature it was.  The landscape it covered was breathtaking, the clouds, the river, the green... it was Spectacular and sadly no picture I took will ever be able to do the experience of it justice.  I loved the quiet there, the serenity it offered by being restricted to a limited number of viewers each day only enhanced the overall experience.

When I got to Machu Picchu, I was tired, I smelled - BAD!  I wanted to use a toilet instead of aim at a hole in the ground.  I was hungry and tired of diarrhea.  I was... and then suddenly the moaning and groaning in my head stopped.  I sprinted the last part of the Inca Trail, ignoring a pain in my leg from an injury on the second day, with the goal of being the first one to the sun gate.  And when I got there I was just in awe of what I saw and where I was... suddenly all the ups and downs, aches and pains, diarrhea, the smelling, the being wet and cold, suddenly it was all worth it - simply amazing. 

Machu Picchu = Spectacular! 

After that we headed back to Lima, by plane!  Despite being tired went out and explored the city for a few hours by car then spent another 6 walking along the coast and exploring the outlying area by foot.  I had the worst hotel experience of my life, which I will mention on facebook with an accompanying picture.  A long day of flying landed us in Panama (pun intended hahaha) where we took advantage of a long layover and took off to see the Panama Canal and a quick two hour tour of the country. 

When I finally made it home to Santa Barbara I was tired.  The lack of sleep from the last week had caught up and I had a full day of work that started in two hours, and yet I could not sleep.  Instead I took a one hour nap and woke up excited and motivated for the day ahead.  I kept trying to come up with the words to describe my trip to all of you who are reading this now. 

Sitting in Machu Picchu I reflected a lot.  I thought about people with whom I wished I could be sharing the experience with and how privileged I was to know them.  I thought of the lessons learned from the previous days, about the reward I was given for the work put in on the previous three days.  I thought about the difference between the Porters of Machu Picchu and the Sherpas who I will one day encounter on Mount Everest - what it is about them that makes them push so hard on these treks.  I thought a lot about myself and the year I have had so far and the year that I hope is to come and the experiences that have come and will come with it.  Machu Picchu ... truly spectacular indeed.  I see why it is one of the wonders of the world.

Enjoy the pics,

Carpe Diem,