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Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Importance of Celebration 9/24 - 9/29 Days 267 - 272

Tuesday was a big day for me... I finished my first book.

Over the last five years or so I have had three or four ideas that I thought would make for a good book.  Each time I started putting pen to paper on one of those ideas, (actually it was really fingers to keyboard :)  ) I would get frustrated at the writing process and stop.  The excuses for stopping included, but were not limited to: it's to hard, I am not a good enough writer, my grammar skills stink, no one will want to read this, this idea is stupid, I am stupid for thinking up this stupid idea... and the list keeps going and going and going, kind of like the Energizer Bunny. (I am on a roll with clever jokes today)!!!

This particular book I began writing about two years ago and have worked on it whenever I would have a creative burst or would find myself in the right emotional frame of mind.  As with the other books, as well as many other great ideas I have had in the past, I made up countless excuses as to why I should quit, why I should give up on writing the book.  The thing that kept me accountable to finishing it: I made sure to put it on the 1000 Challenge list - "Jesse, finish your book, don't let fear and excuses hold you back."

The last couple weeks I have been working on it for hours each day, so much so that my eyes hurt from staring at the computer and my neck has formed a gigantic "computer knot" as I like to call it.

The last five days have been a mix of emotions as I grew closer and closer to completing it.  First there was Anxiety to the point I felt like I was going to throw up - why?  This book, and the website that it will go with, were created from a part of my life that very few people know about.

The website is one I created nearly four years ago and have always operated it as an alias.  The sites sole purpose has been to help people and I know it has based on the 100's of emails I have received from it over the years.  I know people value it, so why the anxiety?  Fear.  Plain and simply fear.  Fear of putting myself out there, fear of what people will think of me when they know that the alias on the site, Michael, is really me.  Fear that it will lose its impact and ability to help.  Fear that my book is not good enough, is not well written enough, that no one will want to read it, that those who do read it will think it is stupid, that it is not... you can re-read all the "excuses" above.

After I made it through the anxiety, I started to cry randomly as I would type.  I cried as I could remember back to the how I felt at the time I created the website.  I cried as I reflected on how far I had come and how much I have grown since I made the site.  I cried over the fact that I was actually seeing something major to completion.  The fact that I stuck with an undertaking as challenging as a book and saw it to completion - that realization made me cry.

As the tears subsided I started to feel a sense of pride.  A sense of pride that caused a smile to spread from ear to ear.  A feeling of, "wow if I can do this, if I can do something that is so challenging for me to complete, what else am I capable of?"  A sense of pride that I could channel a very painful experience in my life and turn it into something positive and something I really believe, with all my heart, can and will help a lot of people.

Tuesday, September 27th 2011, around 2pm, I typed the final sentence and sent it off to have it put in the digital format that it will be available in as soon as I finish updating the website it will go with.

Then I felt sad.  I had just completed this major lifetime achievement and wanted to celebrate it, but with who?  Since I have kept it secret from virtually all my friends, most of them do not even know about the existence of the site and that I was writing a book.  There are a few who know about it, but are out of town.  The few that are in town I didn't call because I didn't know how to say, "hey, I just finished my book and want to celebrate, would you like to join?"

It's funny, but this was the thought process that was running through my mind and I share it with you because I think it is something we all do to often... we do not share, let alone celebrate our achievements.  As a result, I believe we achieve less and less of what we are capable of because we do not value the internal reward at the end.  That reward of feeling good and letting others share in and celebrate this feeling.

Does any of this make sense?  I think all of us, myself included, are very very quick to dish out high fives and good jobs to friends, to family, to total strangers, but when it comes to a self high five and a pat on our own back's, it's hard... why?

Why is it so hard for us to celebrate our achievements?  Why is it so hard for us to be proud of our successes?  And does this behavior hold us back from succeeding and achieving at our greatest potential?


We do not celebrate and share our achievements because we do not want to be perceived as being arrogant.  We do not share with others what we want to do because we fear what they may think of us.  We keep our successes hidden because we fear like we may sound like we are bragging and none of us want to be "that person."  We hold off on achieving goals and sharing them with people because we are so afraid of failing and having to face people if we fail.  This fear is so great that we would rather keep our hopes and dreams silently locked up inside of us where they can remain unrealized along with all the other hopes and dreams.

It is sad.  And the above is a big part of the reason why I was sad at the completion of my achievement.  I do the above just as much as everyone else.  And as much as I fear all the "reasons/excuses" as to why I do it, I tell you what, the sadness and the honest acknowledgement that my fear keeps me from achieving my best is a much scarier realization.  I would rather share my goals, my dreams, my successes and face the "what do other people think" fear and the possibility of failure, than to live another day allowing the fear to keep me from achieving my best.

So with that in mind, I wanted to take a minute to acknowledge some of you who have written in recently and shared some of your successes with me.  I love reading about what all of you are accomplishing.  Reading about the successes of the members of the 1000 Challenge Community inspires me in more ways than I will ever be able to articulate here.  I am so proud of each and everyone of you.  I wish you all could see the smile on my face when I read an email about a fear you have faced.  I wish you all could feel how proud I feel of you each time I read an email about you achieving a goal.

The accomplishment of a goal, no matter how big or small, is something to be acknowledged, is something to be celebrated.  The following are some of your achievements taken at random from a handful of the emails I have received in the last month... sharing them with you all here is my way of celebrating with you :)

" I'm thinking different about things that use to scare me, like horse back riding. The last few days my neighbors horses have been right outside my house, and the first day I thought, yes they are BIG!! the second day i though, They are very beautiful. The third day I thought -it would be very cool if I conquered my fear and went for a ride."

"Due to a recent financial rut, I had allowed myself to fall into the mindset that all I could "afford" to do was sit around the house doing essentially nothing.  Hiking is something I have always loved doing, yet for some reason I've stopped the past few months. It was a great reminder that there are plenty of things I love to do that don't cost anything.  It's only about a 45 minute drive to Lake Tahoe, I've been there at sunset plenty of times, but I think that was the first time I've ever really paid attention to it. The whole thing has made me realize while it's easy to waste my energy worrying about what I can and can't afford, the only thing I really can't afford is to let life pass me by."

"I have had some pretty dark days in the past several years that I don't ever care to relive. This year that has all turned around... I'm so very thankful, and I am trying to live that gratitude by putting to practice daily the things I've learned from you this year. 

I think JFK said it best, "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." 
"I just moved to Hong Kong from Toronto 2 months ago to pursue my dream of living in Asia (this is something I have wanted to do for years) but have been so burdened and stressed out about finding a job, I have not spent much quality time reflecting on the amazing opportunity that I have at the moment. 
 I have challenged myself to do more 'new' experiences in order to live life to the fullest. This week, I signed up to a Meet Up hiking group where we hiked up Mt. Parker in Hong Kong (and I have never hiked before!).  There were many points on the hike where I just wanted to give up, but knew it would drag the entire team's motivation down if I did so I just plugged on despite I thought it was impossible! I now want to challenge myself to do more"

One final one from me:  
On Saturday a good friend of mine, some of you know her as Granny Gore (that's an entirely different story), will be running the St. George Utah marathon.  When i met her over six years ago, the doctor had told her if she didn't get her health under control she may not be around much longer.  She could not ride a stationary bike on zero resistance for more than 3 minutes without getting winded.  Going up and down stairs were fatiguing to her.  Now, at the age of 70 years old she is in good enough shape to attempt a marathon.  I want to acknowledge her, and her story because I have witnessed her journey and I believe that in her quiet way, she is living proof of what one can achieve when they put their mind and heart to it.
Celebrate your successes!  Share what you have going on with your friends.  Ask your friends and family what they have going on.  Ask them what do they want to accomplish.  Find out what their hopes and fears are.  If you do not ask, many of them will not share.  Ask, help them share.  Encourage them on their journey's.  And when they achieve something, celebrate it with them.
Enjoy the pics,
Carpe Diem,
p.s.  I will share the book and the website with you all once the website is finished, which will be in the next two weeks :)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

What's on your mind? 9/16 - 9/23 Days 259 - 266

What's on your mind...

I don't know about you all, but I easily think no fewer than 164,283 different thoughts a day.  My mind is constantly racing, jumping from "this idea" to "that project" to "what needs to be done" to "what I want to do" to "more of this" and even "more of that."  My little neurons and all the other pieces that allow our brains to produce thoughts must get tired from the marathons they run on a day to day basis in my head.

I have always thought this is problematic... aren't we supposed to be able to quiet our minds?   Isn't that what "they" say?  That to be able to relax, unwind, let go, we need to learn to shut off our minds?

I have gotten frustrated with this from time to time because I struggle with it.  I have tried meditating, but typically to no avail.  Whenever I get settled into my meditative spot and try to sit still, I start thinking about everything I want to do when I am done.  Then I get mad at myself for not being able to focus solely on the meditative process.

This year, more than any other, I have learned how to be more present, to be living more in the moment.  I spent a great deal of time talking about what a wonderful feeling that was during my Mt. Jacinito hike.  As the year has gone on I have found myself being more open to experiencing the challenge's and the day to day parts of life than I was before, but my mind is still constantly running wild.

Yesterday one of my good friends asked me if I had been to the Labyrinth at one of the local churches.  Not only had I not been there, I did not even know what one was.  He explained and I thought it sounded interesting so I choose to have that be one of the challenges for today.

Off I headed to the Labyrinth and what I found was a small square probably about 20 feet wide and 20 feet long.  Within that square was a maze like design.  The description said walk with a question on your mind.  My friend had told me that the point of it was not how fast you finish, or to even finish, the point was to just be with your thoughts, to be engaged in the process of it.

I finally settled on my question and started walking the Labyrinth.  The whole time I was trying and trying to keep my question as my sole thought, but it just was not happening.   All these other thoughts were jumping in and out of my mind.  I started to get frustrated at my seeming inability to focus on one thing, when something cool suddenly happens.

For whatever reason I start talking out loud to myself.  I talked about all the thoughts and questions I listed above.  I asked myself why is it so hard for me to tune my mind out... why do I have difficulty mediating?  A realization washed over me as I began to answer my own questions...

Why would I want to turn my mind off when I enjoy the thoughts I am thinking?  Why would I want to stop creative ideas from popping into my head.  If I am actively learning each and everyday how to be more present, why do I want to try and sit still and meditate to experience what I am already experiencing??? WHY WHY WHY???

The biggest smiled appeared on my face and I began laughing out loud.  Meditation, as I understand it is an exercise of clearing your mind, of being present.  At least that has always been my goal when going into it.  Why would I want to clear my mind of thoughts I am enjoying thinking?

I think a greater exercise for us all is rather than focusing our energy in trying to quiet our minds, lets instead focus on changing what our minds think about.  Instead of focusing on the bills that need to be paid, the weight that needs to be lost, focus on the creative opportunities you can pursue to make money and the great workout session you will have later tonight.  Don't worry so much about clearing your mind, focus on enriching your mind!

This does not mean we are going to eliminate those pesky negative thoughts altogether, they will inevitably sneak up from time to time.  What it does mean is we should focus more on celebrating and enjoying the positive ones that do exist within our head.  This means all the  "this idea," "that project," and the "what I want to do's" are really the thoughts we should spend more time embracing and working on nurturing.

 I feel as if I have just solved an ancient riddle and added one more thought to the 164,283 that are already running around in my head.  "It's ok, in fact, it is great to have lots of thoughts running through your head when you are enjoying them."  Hmmm...  I think I am going to go back to spending some more time in my head :)

Enjoy the pics,

Carpe Diem,


Carpe Diem,

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What's possible? 9/4 - 9/15 ... Days 247 - 258

Again, here I am lagging on the blog the days are just going by WAY WAY TO FAST!!  Does anyone else feel that way??

I have been having some amazing conversations and experiences the past couple weeks and I wanted to share some of them with you all.  Each of the three stories below has served as a great reminder to me: always keep an open mind as to the perspective from which I view life.

You see the last couple weeks have had their mix of triumphs and successes: one client is running her first ever marathon at the end of the month, her age: 70 years old!  Another is competing in a triathlon this weekend. :)  Myself: I have nearly completed a separate project that is very near and dear to my heart that I hope to be able to share with you all in the next month or so.

And amidst the triumphs there have been some challenges:  Post hernia surgery complications have me back on limited activity until several tests are performed to try and figure out what the heck is going on... bums me out.  BUT, on the plus side of that I have now been there before and know what I can accomplish as soon as the opportunity is there.  At least that is the perspective I enjoy looking at things from.

Ok, onto the stories...

What's possible...

One of the biggest objections we all raise as to why we do not go out and explore the world more is money.  "I would go there if I had "x" amount of money."  "I can't go there because it is to expensive."  "I do not have the money to spend on something like that."  Do any of these sound familiar?

Last weekend I made a last minute trip to San Diego.  San Diego is about 200 miles south of where I live in Santa Barbara.  This means the drive will take anywhere from 3-6 hours depending on traffic.  I have never really explored San Diego and I have held back from doing so for quite sometime because of the "money" excuses I listed above... I can't because of....

I had no real plans save for the desire to explore the city, the culture, as in-expensively as possible.

I arrived on the out skirts of the city around 730pm just in time to see the sunset from this famous place that I wanted to see the sunset from... Cost $0.  I spent a couple more hours exploring the local area then jumped in the car and made my way further south stopping to admire this church that literally was glowing in the night sky.  Since I had packed my food at home I still had paid $0 for the trip, save for the cost of gas.  It was getting late and I had been going since 4am and it was time to sleep... where to sleep??

I found a nice safe spot to park the car and settled in for an evening nap.  It may not have been the Hilton, but it was comfy enough and most importantly, it was free.  The only thing the car did not have was a shower or toilet.  I made sure to go to the bathroom before I settled in for the night and as for a shower, I am not going to get THAT stinky in a couple of days that would really justify $150 a night at the Hilton.

The next morning, Saturday I headed for Tijuana Mexico.  I had never driven across the boarder and seen Tijuana so what better time than the present.  A couple of nervous hours later I made it back across the boarder to the USA.  Setting out to explore a few historic landmarks, as well as some state parks I had still paid $0 for my entire trip save for the $7 I spent at Denny's that morning for a cheap, but filling, breakfast.

I repeated the above process for the rest of the trip and so when I arrived home late Sunday night I had explored San Diego and spent only about $20 on food and $15 to get on the USS Midway.  As you will see from the pictures on facebook: 1000 Challenge Page , I was everywhere in San Diego and packed a lot in.

So what's possible: Travel, exploration, and adventure is on just about any budget.  Want to cut costs even more get a few friends to go who will split gas.  Research discounts, clip coupons, get the city guide and find out where they are handing out free smoothies.  Pack your own food!  Sleep in your car!  Would you rather be a little stinky and explore, or let a night at the Hilton hold you back?

On Tuesday night, my last client for the evening came in and we began the session with our usual chit chat.  He was excited having just seen the sunrise/sunset photos and videos, and he was eager to share his input with me.  We had about 15 minutes left in our session together when he stopped me and told me this story:

I am paraphrasing my clients story:

"I had a patient (he is a dentist) come in today who has been a patient of mine for 7 or 8 years.  A nice lady about 75 years old.  She had a few members of her family with her.  Before we began her regular cleaning she told me that the cancer which she had been fighting for so long had finally gotten the best of her and she was expected to die in the next several days."

My client continued with his story as tears started to well up in my eyes:  "I kind of just stood there for a moment and suddenly it dawned on me what a great effort she must have exerted just to come here and see me for her teeth cleaning.  I mean she had her family here, who had come into town to be with her when she dies, and they had to physically help her walk into my office.  She may die tonight for all I know, I guess she just wanted to go out with as much dignity as possible."

What's possible:  Even when facing imminent death we all still have the power to do our very best.  Don't wait until the "Grim Reaper" is knocking on your door to give your best at living... do it NOW!!

I was catching up with a friend the other day when she told me the following story, again, I am paraphrasing her words:

"A college of mine has been married to a man for over 20 years.  They have an amazing relationship.  What is more amazing is their story.  When he was three years old he got bit by a rat and the bacteria from that bite lay dormant in his body for a number of years.  Suddenly, when he was in this teens, the bacteria attacked his right eye and caused him to lose his eyesight in that eye.  A few years later, he lost not only the site, but his entire left eye as a result of a "B-B- Gun" accident, leaving him completely blind."

"When him and his wife met, he was completely blind and working as a sculptor.  He was highly respected for his work, but was never able to physically see it.  He and his wife fell in love and got married, all the while he never had any idea of what she looked like."

"Eventually they had a baby, a baby whom he never was able to physically see.  When the daughter was about Five years old, he was playing with her when all of a sudden he started to get some vision in his left eye... the eye that had been blind for years due to the infection he had when he was a teen!!!!"

"There was no explanation, but his eyesight slowly returned and for the first time in years he was able to see the greenness of the grass, the blue ocean, enjoy the majesty of a sunrise, and watch the stars come out on a clear Fall night.  Not only that, but more importantly for the first time in over 15 years of marriage he was able to see his wife and his daughter.  He was pretty excited to discover that his wife was every bit as beautiful physically as her heart was."

What's Possible: Anything!  Even though life had dealt him a tough hand, he choose to play it to the best of his ability, to not allow his challenge's affect his ability to love, to create, to laugh.  If we have the ability to heal ourselves from within through consistent acts of SELF LOVE, from living our lives the best we can every single day; I am sure we can handle any challenge life throws at us.

Yes, it has been an amazing time of learning for me the past couple weeks.  Amidst the successes and struggles, there is always a lesson to be learned.  One that if we choose to learn it, it can and will change and improve our lives.

And remember: Always keep things in perspective and if you do not like the perspective you are looking at, change it and look at it from a new perspective... one you do like!

Enjoy the pics,

Carpe Diem,


Saturday, September 3, 2011

8/25 - 9/3 Days 237 - 246

I am trying something a little different with this blog.  Words simply cannot express how much joy International Sunrise/Sunset day has brought me.  We, as members of the 1000 Challenge community can create truly memorable experiences together.  I am so excited for what the future has in store.  You all inspire me so much.  And since I lack the words to properly explain just how much the Sunrise/Sunset day has meant to me I give you this video... the fruits of your pictures and my words.  I hope you enjoy.

Enjoy the pics and the video,

Carpe Diem,


1 Year 1000 Challenge International Sunrise/Sunset Day Video