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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

6/20 - 6/27 Days ... 171 - 178

The first ever International Trash Pick Up Day has come and gone and all I can say is WOW!

I have spent hours looking at your pictures and reading and re-reading all your comments about Trash Day.  You all have left me amazed beyond words.

I really am not sure what to say, or rather type right now, which is odd for me as I usually do not find myself at a loss for words, but I truly am right now.  So I am going to just type for a little while and see what comes up :)

You all have heard me talk about Trash Day a lot the past month or so.  This was one of the Challenges I was the most excited about.  In my head I have all these ideas about cool charities, non profits, and ways to give back; the only thing I was missing was people to help me realize those dreams.

Here in Santa Barbara, I had planned on going down with H.E.E.A.L and a few other friends to clean up a local park which hosts the Summer Solstice festival here every year.  What I did not realize in the initial planning was that the festival was continuing on through Sunday this year which meant the park would be still set up for vendors.  Oh know, would we even be able to get to the park?  I decided I would get up early and do a drive by to scout it out.

When I finally went to sleep on Saturday night, I went to sleep thinking about Trash Day.  I was so excited for it.  I was excited for the opportunity to make a difference, I was excited to do something positive for the local community, I was excited to hang out with friends, and I was really excited to see what we could accomplish as a global effort.  I feel asleep visualizing the day, I had images of people from all over the world: Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, South America, Australia, joining together and pledging a little of their time to make a big difference.  I was so excited when I went to sleep wondering what our global effort would look like.

When my alarm went off Sunday morning, I literally jumped out of bed, grabbed my car keys and went racing out the front door. I had to go scout out the planned meeting spot.  I drove down to the park and was relieved to find it was still easily accessible to the public. I ran home to take a shower, grab some food and do a little work before heading to the gym.  I logged onto Facebook expecting to see a couple pictures up Trash Pick-er-uper's from around the world.  There were none!!!  That's when my mind started wandering...

With 664 RSVP's on Facebook and many of those 664 pledging the help of friends and family, it was beginning to look like realistically we could have a global participation of over 1000.  "Over 1000 people pledging one hour of their day to help clean up our global community, how cool, how amazing that would be, how scary would it be if no one else did it?  Yikes!  I didn't even think of that!  Oh man, maybe I should not have set this up.  What if no one sends in pictures?  What if, what if, what if, what if..."  I carried on inside my head like this for several hours.  Even during my mini workout prior to 8am I was unable to quiet the voice of doubt, or maybe it was the voice of fear inside of my head.

It is funny because I talk a lot about belief in self, have faith, etc..., and don't get me wrong, I believe with all my heart in the 1000 Challenge and what I hope it represents, I believed wholeheartedly in this event, in all the people who had pledged their time.  I just find it amazing how despite that belief that little voice of fear can still find a way to creep inside someone's head and cause them to question them self, even if it is just for a moment.  It is amazing how much influence that voice can hold over us if we allow it.  I am not going to lie, at one point I was so scared that I contemplated hiding inside of a trash can, rather than trying to lead a global trash clean up.  WHAT WAS I THINKING?!?!?!

Luckily life has taught me that the voice in my head is nothing but a voice and that the only power it has over me is the power I choose to give it.  Finally I got to the point where I was so fed up with it that I told it to "Shut the F*** Up and leave me alone!"  I immediately turned my "Power Song" on and got myself back into my excited, motivated, eager childlike state of mind - ready to go play with my friends and ready to make a difference in the world.

As the day went on the pictures and reports started to come in, first from California, then from the East Coast of the United States, then France, Canada, Germany, Kenya, North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, people from all over the world were sharing stories of their trash day participation.  And guess what, as many of you already know, people were not only reporting that they felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment doing it, they reported that they had a ton of fun too.  What a difference we all made.

As I worked into the late hours of Sunday night, I could not help but to pause from time to time and reflect on what an amazing day in my life, and hopefully yours, that Sunday June 26th, 2011 was.  Collectively we picked up 100's of bags of trash!!!  Imagine how many 1000's less cigarette butts, bottles, cans, pieces of paper, bottle caps etc... less that is on the ground because of what WE did on Sunday?!  AMAZING!!!  As I continued on my reflection of the day, I was reminded of a few very important lessons:
1.) A tremendous difference can be made by a few determined people. 
2.) Each and every one of us has the power to change the world.
3.) It doesn't take money, power, celebrity status to make a difference.  All it takes is a little time and an unwavering resolve to do good, to contribute to the betterment of society.
4.) Ordinary people can do extraordinary things when they put their hearts and minds to it.
5.) You are the captain of your ship, the master of your destiny, you have the ability to do anything you want in your life, you just have to believe in it.

One of my dreams has always been to start an international beach clean up.  Seeing the success of Trash Day, I believe that next year will be the time to launch this endeavor.  This is an early invite: January 17th, 2012, you are all invited to a trash littered beach, somewhere in the world (to be determined) to join me on my 30th birthday.  The goal is to have the beach clean enough where we can all celebrate in lounge chairs and sipping on umbrella drinks. :)  More details to come.

On that note, I will leave you with this - my deepest thanks goes out to each and every one of you who participated.  I am amazed to see how strong the 1000 Challenge community is growing to be.  At nearly the halfway point of the year, I am eager to see what more we can accomplish together when we combine our powers.  As individuals we are strong, as a global team we are unbreakable, we truly have zero limits :)  What's next?  And what do you think... Trash Day #2, same time next year?

Enjoy the pics,

Carpe Diem,


Monday, June 20, 2011

6/15 - 6/19 ... Days 166 - 170 ... Dad

This past week I have spent a great deal of time reflecting.  It amazes me how our mind works.  There are   times where I can view memories from the past like a slide show, flashing one after the other, crystal clear.  Sometimes there is a great deal of emotion attached to those memories; sometimes i cry, and sometimes I can watch the slide show of memories totally un-emotionless.  I find it so fascinating how we can have such drastic sways in the way we think, feel and act.

I think reflection is important.  Our past makes up who we are in the present and influences who we CAN become in the future.  It is important to revisit our histories to see where we have come from, what we have learned... to laugh, to cry, to remember.

I have shared with you all much of my thoughts and feelings over this last week.  As I have said before I do it because I think it is important for me to share my struggles as well as my scuccesses with you all.  The 1000 Challenge is about living life to the fullest. 

Living life to the fullest... an expression that has been so badly mis-understood.  I think we have a false definition of what "living life to the fullest" means.  I would wager that most people would say that "kiving life to the fullest" is living a life full of smiles, giggles, living in the moment, doing things your way and on your terms.  I agree 100 percent.  However, there is an important part of the definition that is missing here.

Human beings, we are experiential creatures; meaning that we use the experiences we have in life to build up the fabric of our lives.  A part of the human experience is our ability to feel: Pain, Joy, Anger, Lust, Happiness etc... all of these emotions are a part of who and what we are. 

In life there is going to be saddness, struggles, anger, frustration etc... and because of this I think "living life to the fullest," really means living a life full of human experience.  Yes, we want more giggles, smiles, and the majority of our time devoted to doing things on your terms, but it is just as important to allow yourself to experience the other side of life.  Not to become it, but to experience it. 

The above reasons are why I have wanted to share as much as I have with you.  This last week has been a challenge for me, I have spent a great deal of time reflecting, remembering, morning, and celebrating people who have come and gone from my life.  I feel good about it to.  It has been a very cathartic, very healing experience for me.  By acknowledging my pain, by embracing my sorrow, I have been able to finally process certain thoughts and feelings that I have been resisting for quite sometime.

I have already shared thoughts and feelings on my friend Gabe.  If you have not got a chance to watch the video I put together, please check it out here: Remembering Gabe

To bring this personal week of rememberance and reflection to a close, I wanted to share with you my Dad.

Yesterday was Father's Day here in the USA, my second one spent without the physical presence of my Dad in my life.  I say "physical presence" because while he is gone, he, like Gabe, is certainly not forgotten.

Like Gabe, my Dad's death was unexpected and it came as a shock.  When I spoke to him the last time, I didn't think twice when I hung up the phone that that would be the final time I heard my Dad's voice.  Losing him was devestating.  Not just because of the obvious loss of my Father, but also because I allowed it to push me right back into a black hole that I had been working so hard to crawl out of. 

What follows is my Eulogy I read at my Dad's service, February 6th, 2010.  I ask that when you finish reading it, you first close your eyes and allow yourself to feel whatever emotions may or may not come up, and then take a moment to write down your thoughts and feelings on a piece of paper.  Allow yourself to experience being a human, allow yourself to live life to the fullest.

Carpe Diem


            I am usually not one to be at a loss for words, I specialize in finding the light on the darkest of days.  Moments like these are the ones I am supposed to shine, these are my bottom of the ninth two outs, winning run is at the plate moments.  When tragedy has happened this is my fourth quarter where I lead everyone to a come from behind victory and we win the superbowl.  I am the one that steps up and finds the right words to say that can see the good in the bad.  This is what I live for - the opportunity to teach people and hopefully impart some inspirational words of wisdom that you will take away and use to live a richer life.
            Now though, I am struggling.  I find myself in that same fourth quarter situation standing at the free throw line, terrified to shoot the ball.  In fact I don't even know if I can even remember how to shoot it.  It's easy to talk and find the words, but this is my Dad I speaking about.  My Dad was supposed to be here forever.  In my picture perfect creation of my life this doesn't happen for a long long time, in fact it never even gets thought of.  Dad just got a clean bill of health, declaring him a 100 percent cancer free, he was supposed to be here forever. 
            My Dad got to witness me doing a lot of cool stuff and see me grow.  He watched me play sports over the years, often from the sidelines as a coach.  As a kid he saw me dress up in my combat gear get my toy guns out and go out and hunt for bears with our family friend Tyler.  He saw that evolve to hunting for people when I started playing paint ball in high school.  He saw me start a bowling career with a blue ball with a little dinosaur on it and a score of 55 and then watched as I evolved into the bowling stud I am today – that's supposed to be funny.  We watched professional wrestling together and played Jeopardy together, even though I usually won, we always played when it was on.  When I moved away in late 2000 to pursue a college education and life outside of Humboldt   County, physical experiences gave way to pictures stories.  He saw me graduate college, heard tales of me traveling the world.  He saw videos of me skydiving and saw pictures of me running and working out.  He counseled me when life got the best of me and I thought I couldn't go on any more.  But there is so much more he was supposed to be hear for.  I am just getting started in my adult life.  I want to get married one day and have kids of my own.  I plan on having conversations with multiple presidents and heads of state.  I'll have books published that he will never read and DVD's that he will never watch.  I have charities I want to start, businesses I want to grow that he will now only get to be a part of in spirit.  Who am I supposed to talk to now about buying a home?  I plan on living to at least 102, so now I'll have so much life I have to go on living without him.  I won't be able to tell him about when I go scuba diving with sharks, or bungee jump off a bridge. I am going to New York for the first time at the end of this month and I won't be able to share with him what running up every single stair in the Empire State building was like.  And when life gets the best of me, I no longer have his counsel.
            The last conversation I had with Dad was on January 31st 2010, at around 8:30 am.  I had just returned from Haiti where myself and a few of my friends had gone to try and help with the earthquake recovery.  Dad wanted to hear all about it you could hear the excitement in his voice.  We talked for 18 minutes and 34 seconds.  We talked about politics and how the news sensationalizes things to make money.  During that time I told him about the trip going there, I told him about how the news doesn't even begin to do justice to illustrate just how bad the destruction is.  We talked about the dead, the dying, the maimed, the mutilated, the broken and battered, yea we talked about all that, but we also talked about hope.
            I realized on my trip there that the Haitian people have a deeper understanding of what it means to be alive than many of us in the civilized world do.  Haiti was one of the poorest countries in the world.  A 3rd world country pre-earthquake, now many refer to it as a 5th world country – that is how bad it is there.  So amidst all the death and destruction everyday I saw people out sweeping the streets in front of their broken homes and businesses, trying to clean up trying to restore order to their lives.  I saw people doing the best they could with what they had to engage in commerce, it is not just a nation of chaos, it is a nation of resilience.  And what blew me away and brought tears to my eyes, was every night around 10pm when the day would settle down you would hear singing and laughter rising up from all the wounded.  Keep in mind that most of these people have shattered bones, amputated limbs, burned flesh, and IF they were able to salvage any possessions they all fit into a half full hefty trash bag.  If anyone had any room to cry or give up it was these guys, and yet they sung and laughed. 
            I realized in that moment that the Haitian people know what it means to truly be alive – to be grateful for each and every moment we are given because we really never know when it will be our last.  They weren't wasting precious moments stressing out over which bill to pay and you certainly did not see them refusing to talk to their spouse because they forgot to take out the trash.  And you definitely didn't hear them complain about “Having to go to work.”  In those moments they were just grateful for being alive and they wanted to celebrate it.  I understood the concept of this, but I never really got it until then and it really hits home now.
            I share this story with you because it is one of the last things I got to share with Dad.  And you know what, I could feel that he understood what I was saying to him.  I could tell he was taking my story to heart and that he wanted to make that story part of him so he to did not waste any more precious life on trivial things – he wanted to celebrate life, he wanted to be grateful, and he wanted to live. Less than 24 hours after having this conversation about life, he's gone.  How, why?  He didn't tell me he was leaving on the phone.  If he would have I would have told him so much more, I would have kept him on the phone and drove up here on Sunday and talked with him the whole time and told him I loved him 1000 times and how grateful I was to him for bringing me into this world.  I left things unsaid with Dad because I didn't know.  Everyone tries to tell me that I had no way of knowing and blah blah blah.  It doesn't matter if I had a any way of knowing or not, what I knew already was how important it was to never leave anything unsaid and that we really never do know when our last minutes on earth will come.  I understood how important it was to never squander an opportunity and to not waste those precious sands of time.  I knew, I understood, but I didn't apply.  Dad and I talked for 18 minutes and 34 seconds.  For me to say just those few extra words beyond “I love and miss you,” would have extended the conversation to probably 19 minutes and 26 seconds, it would have taken me just a few seconds more to express my gratitude for a lifetime.  A few seconds, think about this.  Think about how much of the time we don't say or do what we intend because we always think there will be a tomorrow.  We don't forgive because we want to be right.  We don't forget because we want someone else to be wrong.  Look around this room and look inside yourselves and think about how many unspoken thank you's, Im sorry's, and I love you's reside in this room and inside each and every one of us.  Think about this, it just takes a few seconds to say those words that matter the most.
            I'll leave you all with this. I had been working with Dad on what his goals were for the year he said he had some very solid ones and new he was going to have to work hard on keeping after them – and he was excited to do so.  Dad started 2010 with a clean bill of health.  The health issues of the past were behind him and in front of him lay opportunity, and he was excited about it and he was excited about life.  We are all here to honor Mike, Michael, Dad, Oak, Jack, Appa, Bris and all the other names we all affectionately called him.  Based on my final 18 minutes and 34 second conversation I had with Dad, I know the best way we can honor him is to live and I mean really live.  Forgive those whom you haven't forgiven, tell those you love just how much you love them, don't just say the words, feel them.  Don't leave anything unspoken, express your deepest gratitude to friends, family, colleges, to the stranger that lets you go before them at the grocery store – don't hold back and don't waste a minute of your lives.  Dad was resolved to do this this year and for the years to come.  I know he would have wanted the same for all of you.  Thank you all for listening, for being here, and for enriching Dad's life.  He was a better person because of each and everyone of you.  You all brought so much joy and so many memories to his life.  It warms my heart to see how loved he was.  Thank you.

This pictue is one of the hardest ones for me to look at.  This was my graduation from college.  You can't see my face, but I was annoyed that I was still "having" to take pictures.  My Dad, as you can see from his embrace, was so proud of me.  What's that saying "there are two sides to every coin?"  I never fully appreciated this picture until after my Dad's death.  My Dad and I did not always get along and we often greatly misunderstood each other.  Despite our differences, I know he loved me and the above picture is how I chose to remember him.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

6/9 - 6/14 ... Days 160 - 165 In Memory of Maverick

I have made it to the one week post surgery milestone!  The hobble in my step is almost completely gone.  I am able to get up and down with minimal to no pain.  I feel like I am healing fairly quickly.  The only days that were fairly challenging, pain wise, were Wednesday and Thursday, but even then it really hurt when i would move a certain way or when I had to get up.  As I said before I was choosing not to take pain meds and I am grateful I made this choice.  I became more attuned to my body and learned a lot about myself, and my ability to heal.

An issue about conduct on the 1000 Challenge page was addressed the other day... about people getting off topic of what the point of the page was.

First, I would like to thank the person who did address the issue.

Second, this is something I am extremely passionate about.  I believe in the 1000 Challenge with all my heart and not only that I believe that every single one of us can learn something from the 1000 Challenge and use that which we learn to make our lives greater.  Having said that, the only way this works is if the integrity of the page is maintained.  The page is not for flirting, celebrity discussions, or to make travel plans etc... please, please, please be respectful of me and others and keep those discussions off the 1000 Challenge page.

Before reading any further, I strongly encourage you, if you haven't already, to read a blog post from early April about why I have chosen to do the 1000 Challenge.  I have included a link to the 1000 Challenge Page that has that blog achieved.  It contains the background information of today:   Why The 1000 Challenge

This week is a tough week for me.  Fathers day is on Sunday, it will be my second one with out my Dad.  I will talk more about that later this week, but for now I want to focus on today.

Today is the two year anniversary of one of my best friends, Gabe, aka, Maverick's, suicide.  As you will see in the message below I refer to it as his "death," but it is important for me to acknowledge here that Gabe made a choice.  He had reached a point in his life where he was struggling and didn't think things were going to get any better so he chose to end his life.

Myself, everyone who was close to me, everyone who was close to Gabe, we all struggled after he made this choice.  I can remember in the weeks that followed, there would be times where myself and my girlfriend at the time would not speak any words we would just sit there and sob.  She barely knew Gabe, but she loved me.  While I mourned the loss of Gabe, she mourned losing me. It was a heartbreaking time period for both of us.

I was lost.  I had seen things, experienced things that few people will ever be able to relate to.  I certainly could not at the time. My friends struggled with being around me - they didn't know how to be.  They had always seen me as this strong person, I was the person that had all the answers, but suddenly I didn't.  I was the one that always had the light in my eye, but now that was gone.  I was always the one that organized the "play" days, but I didn't feel like playing any more.  No one faulted me either.  I had images, smells, sounds, burned into my head of finding Gabe in the bathroom.  Even now I can still watch the entire experience like it was yesterday, I can still hear every gasp and gurgle coming from Gabe, I can still smell the dried blood on my arms and hands.

I talk a lot about the ripple effect: the idea that when we cast a pebble into water the ripples travel far beyond where the pebble initially lands.  In the metaphor, us and our actions are the pebble, the ripples are the results of our actions, they often reach far beyond us.  When Gabe made the choice to end his life, it was like he threw a boulder into the water and it caused waves, not ripples, but waves.  Waves that even still, two years later, are impacting people and effecting their lives.  Case in point... if you are reading this and this is moving you, making you stop and think... that's the ripple effect in action.

I came up with this notion, this idea: "World Worth."  The idea was if someone like Gabe, truly new their worth to the world, would he have made the choice?  I do not think so.  You see the notion of world worth is that we all have a worth to the world, far greater than what we give ourselves credit for.  When we make choices in life they do  not just affect us, they affect the entire world (ripple effect).  The problem with world worth I have struggled with is how do I teach it to people so someone who finds themselves in Gabe's situation does not make the same choice he did.

It dawned on my on Monday - World Worth is not something that can be taught, it must be shown.  People must be shown their worth to the world.  So how do you do that? 

The blog you will read today, the video I will post later today, as well as a few other pieces of writing I will share with you over this week are my best attempt to show you all your world worth.  I am going to share with you my struggles, my thoughts, my ideas, and my lessons learned through all of this.  It is my hope that through my sharing of this very personal side of myself that you all will come away with a better understanding of not only what your worth to the world is, but also how to better acknowledge someone else's world worth.

Below you will find an email I sent out to my friends and family on June 15th 2010 - The one year anniversary of Gabe's suicide.

Carpe Diem,


June 15th, 2010 Email:

Hi all,

As some of you know and many of you may not, today marks the one year anniversary of my friend Gabe's death.  It is human nature to read that line and immediately take a deep breath and say something like, "oh no," or "poor Jesse" and then to to start thinking about how you need to email, call, text me to see if I am ok and that your thinking of me.  While those are always appreciated :) it is not neccessary.  What you could do instead for me is to please read the following carefully.  And if it resonates with you, please forward it on to those whom you love and care about.  With today and the upcomming first fathers day without my Dad I have been spending a great deal of time reflecting these last couple of weeks and what follows is a summary of some of the life lessons I have learned this past year.  Thank you all in advance for being a part ot it.

  1. Never Give Up:  A friend of mine has a puppy who was hit by a car several weeks ago.  The prognosis for her did not look good.  She has since had at least two different surgeries to try and repair fractures in her body so she will be able to someday walk again.  She still can not walk as of writing this, but every day she tries and every day she comes a little closer.  What is more amazing is that everytime you see her she still runs (it's more of a scoot) up to you with the same smile and energy she had before.  She still tries to eat your shoe laces and she still wants to lick you to death.  While fate has dealt her a tough hand, she seems determined to not let it get the best of her.  She still tries, she still moves forward and she refuses to give up.  We all get tough hands dealt to us from time to time in life, but if we do our best to move forward each day with a smile on our face, we can and will get through.
  2. Don't hold back:  With both Gabe and my Dad I left many things unsaid - just as I know I have left many things unsaid with those of you reading this.  Life is so short and so precious.  When I was in Haiti I met many people who had their entire world altered in just a few seconds.  You never know when your last opportunity will be to say what you have always wanted to say.  Don't leave things unspoken.  Tell the people in your life today what they mean to you.  Tell those you have lost touch with how they impacted your life.  And the ones you are afraid to tell them everything you want to say... they are the most important, so start with them first.
  3. Don't be afraid:  As I said before, life is short.  I spent much of my earlier life living by bull shit constraints I had self imposed on myself due to fears I had.  Fear of not being accepted, fear of not being funny enough, fear of heights, fear of death, fear of not being loveable, fear of not being good looking enough, fear of failure... the list could go on forever.  It is natural to be afriad, but was is not natural is for us to let fear dictate the course of our life.  Fear comes in different forms.  There are physical fears - fear of heights.  There are emotional fears - fear of being vulnerable.  Fear can and will restrict your life.  Challenge yourself to face your fears.  It is hard, but the rewards that come from it will be worth the challenge and will pay dividends for the rest of your life.
  4. It's water under the bridge:  A good friend of mine told me a story about how he ran into a person who had wronged him pretty badly in a business deal a few years ago.  He went up to that person and told the guy, "I just wanted you to know there are no hard feelings, it is water under the bridge."  Forgiveness or water under the bridge, is such a freeing mentality.  It does not mean you have to be friends with these people, it does not mean that in my friends case, he will ever even talk to that person again, but what it does mean is that he gets to live his life free of the negativity of the past relationship.  Forgive those whom  you haven't.  You don't have to like them, you don't have to ever speak to them again, but Life is to short (sound familiar?) to spend it pissed off.  So do your best to let go of what your holding onto.
  5. Love: We all want it, we fight for it, we die for it... when we have it we take it for granted.  Love is the most simply complex thing ever.  I still have not even scratched the surface of understanding it, but what I do know is this.  It is a gift and embrace it. Romantic, friendship, family, whatever kind of love it is, it is special and a privilege to have it.  Do your best to love your best.  It is a precious commoditty - one the world is in entirely to short of a supply of.  Tell someone you love today just how much you love them, but don't just say the words feel them.
  6. You are privileged: I used to joke with a V.I.P to me about how they were privileged.  What I didn't understand in the time of making those jokes is how we all really are privileged.  We are privileged to be alive, to have what we have in our life, to have met the people we have, to have the friendships we have, to breathe the air we breathe.  The list could go on forever.  There are a lot of people who have gone from this world that I am sure wish they could still be here.  Life is really stinking hard and unfair at times, but it really is a privilege to be alive and have the opportunity to be here on the earth at this time with the people you know and the life you have in front of you.  So do your best make the most of it and embrace what you have because you are privileged to have it.

Ok, that's enough for now.  If you have made it all the way to this point, thanks for your time and reading the above.  I hope it resonates with you, if not, it's just me being sappy ;0)   I hope you all have a great day today.  Thank you all for being a part of my life to this point and I look forward to what the future holds.  I am who I am today because of all of you - Thank You.

With love,


Thursday, June 9, 2011

6/1 - 6/8 ... Days 152 - 159

Whew, the first radio interview is done and done!  I am not going to lie, I was pretty nervous driving over to the studio.  My heart was racing and I started to have the "what if" conversation with myself ... "What if, I freeze up?  What if I talk to fast and people can't understand me?  What IF I have to BURP?!?!"  Yikes, that would have been pretty bad! :)

Speaking of "Yikes," surgery is tomorrow.  I feel like I have a really good attitude going into it.  I am more excited than anything... excited about the opportunity to heal, excited about the opportunity to continue on in life injury free.  The hospital called yesterday to tell me how much it was going to cost, how much my insurance would not cover etc...  I switched over to my "Charlie Brown" filter and just heard a lot of wa waaa wa waa waa coming from the voice on the other end.  I already know it is going to expensive, why let myself focus on that which I already know.  It is not going to help the situation.  I would rather instead focus on the positive outcome - injury free, pain free, opportunity to live my life the way I want to.

In our society, we have a very strange relationship with money.  We let money and the cost of things dictate so much in our day to day lives.  No matter how much we have, we tend to focus more on how much we don't have... why?  Stuff costs money, in some cases a lot of money.  This surgery is going to be expensive, but not as expensive as other procedures I may have to have down the road if I chose not to deal with this now.  Do I have the 1000's of dollars it is going to cost me out of pocket right now, nope.  So why focus on that?  I already know that, but if I focus solely on that it prevents me from focusing on the opportunity out there to earn the money and pay it back over time.  And I miss the opportunity to be great full that there are such things as payment plans available.  It's not like they are going to come and reverse my hernia if I do not pay all in cash tomorrow, right?  Not only that, it is just added stress that I do not need or want in my life.  No thank you!

Someone asked me the other day if I really believed in everything I say, and how in the world can focusing on little things bring about big changes... great question, let me explain.

We live in a world where the number is something like 80% of the people have jobs they are not happy with.  Which means that when the alarm goes off to signal "time to go to work," those people are getting up to go do something they do not necessarily want to be doing.  Instantly they fall into the same "everyday" routine.  Take a shower the same way, eat breakfast the same way at the same time.  Make the commute to the job they do not want to be at.  Sit in traffic, work at said job, return home in traffic, and now, when the day is finally done, they want to just "forget it all," want to just "zone out," and watch TV.  The above is a generalization as I want to use it as an illustrative point.

If we want to change our lives, if we want to improve them, we have to break our normal patterns of behavior, we have to change the above routine.  We have to give ourselves something to look forward to... something to live for.

This is where the little things come into play.  As you all have seen by now, the 1000 Challenge is made up of mostly little things.  Yes, there are some big ones in there, but overall the bulk of what has been done so far are little, everyday things.  Why?  Because it is all about the deliberate intention of going out and making my life better.  It's about focusing on doing something every single day to change my normal routine, my normal pattern of behavior, and guess what... If you replace the above routine with the new routine of trying to do something new every single day, well now your old pattern has been broken and replaced with a new more empowering pattern.

You now have something to look forward to.  That lunch break from that job you do not like that you used to spend commiserating with co-workers, becomes your opportunity to explore the world.  That country road detour you swore you were going to try one day, now becomes your salvation from traffic and your gateway to adventure.  Life takes on a new meaning because you now have new things to look forward to each and everyday

Little things... give yourself something new to look forward to everyday.  I promise you your perspective will start to change, your old pasterns of behavior will begin to fade away.

I wrote the above half on Tuesday, anticipating getting the blog up the same day before Surgery.  Life happened, things didn't work out exactly as I planned, but they ended up for the better... I spent an hour on the phone Tuesday catching up with a good friend who I hadn't talked to in awhile.  The conversation was very meaningful and I am really happy I spent the time on the phone as opposed to finishing the blog.  I think  this will actually work better now because I wanted you guys to have an insight into what my mindset was pre/post surgery. 

Wednesday morning I had to be at the surgery center by 630am ... I got up at 4 to go and work out when the gym opens at 430am.  Why?  This is a very important why.

Exercise, physical activity, physcial fitness is a HUGE part of who I am.  Much of my confidence, my energy, my motivation, my inspiration is drawn from that hour I dedicate to myself everyday.  For me when the doctor says I have to have surgery - the only thing I got bummed about was the exercise restrictions.  I had choices to make... listen to doctor's orders stop exercising for two weeks leading up to surgery then go another two weeks after, or trust myself, trust my knowledge about the human body, and trust what my own mind, heart, and body say.  I chose myself.  And I created modified routines that allowed me to do some exercise while still protecting the hernia as best as I could.  My goal was to not make hernia any worse, but more importantly, my goal was to show myself what I was capable of even with an injury like that.  And you know what?  I was capable of a lot.

Sure I wasn't breaking any power lifting records, but basic stuff was not a problem.  I called all my workouts back to basic workouts.  Running was out, but I could still do a modified elliptical, I just had to slow WAY down and rather than support my body just on my legs I shifted my body weight around so it would be distributed through my arms and hips as well.  The great thing was, is I COULD still do stuff and not make the injury worse.  This was so empowering for me!  It gave me a great deal of confidence, it re-enstilled into my mind that just because someone says "can't" doesn't mean it is true.  One of my favorite quotes goes something like this: "people always say it is impossible, until someone does it."

I planned my Wednesday morning to put myself in a confident, strong, determined mindset.  I made sure on Tuesday that my "power" song was set to come on, LOUD, as soon as I got into the car on Wednesday morning.  So when I got into the car at 423am yesterday morning, I turned on the car and "Encore" by Linkin Park and Jay-Z immediately began blaring.  I refer to this song as my "Power" song because it is a song that whenever I listen to it I get energized, I get in a confident state of mind, it makes me feel strong.

I kept this song on repeat through my entire workout which was about 40 minutes.  I sang it out loud in between my sets (there wasn't really anyone in the gym at 430 am to enjoy the sweet sounds of my voice).  Why did I do all this?  Because if my mind is constantly being filled with the words from my power song, if i am constantly feeling strong and confident, guess what... there is NO room for words of doubt, words of fear, to creep into my head.  What if scenarios have zero chance of entering into my mind because I am bombarding my mind with only thoughts of I can, I will, I am strong.  I encourage you all to try it out next time you are gearing up to face a major challenge in life, it works!

I listened to it on the way to the surgery center.  After I checked in, filled out the paper work, and joked with the nurse about how they said they would need my first born child as well as my right arm for collateral payment, I sat down and put my head phones on and went right back to my power song. 

When I finally had to take them out and get wheeled into the operating room, I just kept singing it over and over in my head, save for the times I paused to joke with the operating team.  Negative thoughts, fear, self doubt, all of those nasty thoughts and words that we so often let take control of our lives; they had zero chance to invade me, because I did not give them a chance to.  If I would have stopped working out two weeks ago when the doctor told me not to, I would have been in a far more weakend state mentally, emotionally, and physically, I can't do that to myself.  And here's the icing on the cake... when I told the nurse, and the doctor, both separately, that I had gone and worked out at 430am both responded the same way: they stopped, blinked a couple of times, looked at me and said "you got up and worked out at 430 am before surgery, that's inspiring."  I didn't get scolded or told I was stupid for doing that... there was a respect that passed between us as both saw that I was dedicated to my way of existing. 

I am sitting on my couch as I type all of this to you, almost 24 hours post surgery.  As long as I sit still I am not in to much pain, when I have to stand up, that's when it hurts the most, but it only takes me about three minutes to stand up then the pain passes.  I try to laugh at the pain every time, it doesn't help me to complain about it, complaints will only make it worse, laughter eases it.  I am not taking any pain medication.  I have read countless books and heard countless stories on our bodies power to heal with a good mindset and good attitude.  I believe 100% in this and so now I have been given the opportunity to test it out and prove it to myself.  So far, so good - I already feel better than I did yesterday, and I can almost stand up straight.  That's my goal, by the end of the day, stand up straight! :)

Thank you everyone for the countless well wishes, emails, texts, phone calls, tweets - your love and support gives me a tremendous amount of strength.  Someone asked me the other day where I draw my inspiration from - it is from all of you.  Thank you.  I will recover fast, I will be stronger than ever.

Enjoy the pics (you can tell I am hungry),

Carpe Diem,


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

5/25 - 5/31... Days 146 - 151

Can you believe it is already June!!  Where is the year going??!!

Last year on June 1st we hit our "June Gloom."  The fog rolled in and stayed for what seemed like the entire summer.  I am holding my breath we do not have a repeat of last year.  I love being outside, especially when it is warm and sunny out - something that living in Santa Barbara has spoiled me to, happily spoiled me might I add.

I can't tell you how excited I am for June!  Starting with my first ever radio interview tomorrow with Pamala Oslie.  Be sure to listen in here:

On the subject of things I am excited for:

I think you all know me well enough now, and have seen enough of my pictures to get a sense for how much I love the outdoors.  Above all else, I love the natural beauty in the world and I do my best to capture it everywhere I go.

I have always been troubled by trash lying on the ground.  Why does it have to be there??  Why can't it be placed in the trash can with all the other trash? WHY WHY WHY???!!!  I have always wanted to do something about it, something bigger than just me going out and picking up a piece or two.  On June 26th I will need all of you to help me with my Challenge for that day.  I have chosen that day to host an international trash clean up day.  To help me in the local Santa Barbara area, I have partnered up with H.E.E.A.L, a local non-profit, that has agreed to help me with people power and to spread awareness.  You can see all the details at the link below.  This will be the first in what will become a lifetime series of trash clean ups that I want to hold around the world - including how I want to spend my 30th birthday (details of that will follow in the next month or so).  So please check out the link below.  If you can't make it that day, get some friends to go in your place.  If you need more info, let me know.  Thanks everyone in advance.  This is something very near and dear to my heart.

The last couple weeks have been great in terms of my social life.  Not traveling and better time management skills have lead to a rise in my social life!  The last few weeks I have been able to catch up with some great friends that I have not seen enough of.  One of my friends and I got on the subject of surgeries, he just recently having a minor one to remove a suspicious growth on his stomach, me on my upcoming hernia surgery June 8th.  Both of us are active people and we spend a great deal of time talking about what that temporary stoppage of activity meant to us and the way we live our lives.  It was a wonderfully cathartic conversation for both of us.  He had been down and was feeling down about feeling down, I was able to cheer him up and reassure him that I had been going through the same emotions - PRE SURGERY, and I was terrified what I may feel post.  That re-assured him that it was ok to be a little bummed about his temporary situation.  It is a real feeling and it is better to process and deal with it, then ignore and bury it.

On the other hand he was able to offer me all sorts of wonderful tips and words of wisdom on what I could do to come out of the surgery with a great attitude.  He reminded me that while it was a bummer I could not do the Tough Mudder event this year, to focus on much better prepared I will be for it next year!  He also reassured me that while he has felt limited, it has not been the end of the world, which I think is a very important frame of mind to have.  It was a really great time catching up.

The other day I was having a conversation with a good friend of mine about the term, "Social Capital."  What is social capital?  I asked.

"Social Capital," as my friend stated it, "is what your word is worth to other people."

Hmmmm, interesting concept, I like it!

So as I understand it our "Social Capital" is essentially what our word is worth to our friends, family, business associates, to strangers, to friends of friends, to everyone.  And social capital is something we all have some form of.

The reason I am sharing this with all of you because it is a very important concept, perhaps one of the most important ones I will share with you.  

I have learned so much doing this 1000 Challenge.  What I have shared with you throughout these blogs is a fraction of what I have learned.  I could probably type all day every day on experiences and lessons learned, and still would not be able to keep up with all the thoughts that go racing through my head.  

We all have social capital, we have all the power to use our words for the greater good.  We all have the ability to make someone's day brighter, to make a difference, to be the change we wish to see in the world.

Some people have enormous social captial: Political Leaders, Celebrities, Professional Athletes, to name a few.  Companies pay millions of dollars to have them be the spokes person's for their products simply because they have so much social capital.  If Michael Jordan tells me that I can be more "Like Mike" by wearing Nike's, guess what shoes I will be buying on the next shoe buying excursion. Or if the "Energizer Bunny," tells me to buy his batteries, I'll do it, why?  Because he promises that they will "keep going and going."  

Our words have power!

Social Capital is also something that can be lost almost as quickly as it is gained.  Tiger Woods is a perfect example.  How many commercials, billboards, and magazine adds have you seen of Tiger Woods lately?  Not many, especially when you compare it to just a few years ago when you could not open up a magazine without seeing him telling us to buy this or that.  Companies are no longer willing to shell out the big bucks to him like they once were because his social capital, his word, has been tarnished by his "extra-curricular" activities.  

Our words have power!

Gandhi, Martin Luther King jr., Adolf Hitler, all are people who had tremendous social capital.  They all used it in different ways to achieve different outcomes, but none the less they demonstrated first hand what our words, when wielded a certain way, can do to create change in the world.

Our words have power!

Now not all of us are going to be the leaders of the masses on the scale that Martin Luther King jr. was, but we still have all the power to be just as great of a leader in our day to day life.  We just get in funks where we doubt ourselves and forget about the power we have.

When you tell someone they look pretty today - that is power.  Try it out today, compliment someone, watch how their body changes.  Watch them stand up a little straighter, watch them smile, feel their energy swell with a sense of pride.  You just used your words to change someone's world - who knows what kind of day they could have been having up to that point.  For all we know they could have been at their breaking point, the point where they are ready to give up on people, give up on the world, and you taking the time to say one kind thing... it could change that person's life, it could renew their faith in humanity.  Talk about power!

Our words have power!

And so while taking the time to tell someone they look pretty today may not seem like it equates to the same level of power as Martin Luther King jr. using his words to lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott, or Adolf Hitler using his to lead an entire nation and nearly conquering the world, but in fact it is.  

Your words are no different than Martin Luther King's, than Hitler's, than Gandhi's, the only difference between them and the rest of us is that they used their words on a much larger scale to wield a much larger influence.  Their conviction, their belief's, their resolve was a little deeper than yours or mine, and thus they were able to convey their message on a much larger level.

At the basic level though you are still able to change lives in just the same way as the above leaders are.  Your words have a ton of power in them.  You can use them for good and you can use them for evil.  Genuinely giving someone a compliment today has the power to change their life.  Lashing out and insulting someone today also has the power to change their life.

I am spending the time talking about the above today because I have been receiving more and more emails, daily, talking about how the 1000 Challenge has made a positive difference in their life.  First, I cannot tell you how much I appreciate each and every one of those emails.  In addition to being inspired by every one I read, I am also amazed to learn each time of what my words mean to the writers of each email.  

I am just a normal, every day guy, but I am doing something I believe deeply in and doing my best to "be the change I wish to see in the world."  If I can do, it, I promise all of you can too.  Lets say 100 people read this blog today.  Lets say those same 100 people go out and give two genuine compliments out to two different people.  Now lets say the new group of 200 does the same... pretty soon 200 turns to 600, then 600 turns to 1000's and then the 1000's turn to the 10,000's ... you see my point?

All of us, you, me, the person sitting across your office from you, all of us have the power to change the world just by the way we use our words.  Give it a try, I promise you will be amazed by what you discover.

Enjoy the pics,

Carpe Diem,