Let Your Day Dreams Be Your Compass

I started this blog as a way for myself and others to embrace the places we are at in life. Be it where you live, where you are in your career, education, mental state, physical health, this is a platform to examine the potential that comes from embracing the present circumstances under which you currently reside.

It can be difficult to face the facts of your current situation. When you live for the present and you aren’t particularly pleased with the place you are at, sometimes the bigger picture of what’s happening around you starts to blur. I know that I can get so caught up in the moment, thinking about how if only I could leave where I am then I could start fresh and solve all my problems. If I lived somewhere else then maybe I would like my house better, so I would keep it cleaner. If I lived somewhere warmer maybe I would be happier and accomplish more during days that I spend wrapped in blankets. If I was done with school I could be working at a job I enjoy, earning tons of money, and living my best life. But none of these day dreams are likely to be true. If in some parallel universe I was a wealthy entrepreneur that lived on an island, I don’t know if I’d be happy.

We can’t know how we will feel in a world of what ifs. All we can do is embrace where we are now. Ignoring your problems, pushing them off, or dreaming about starting over without any action won’t take you to where you want to be, and it won’t make your current situation better. Work to remove what makes you unhappy by focusing your energy on what does make you happy. If you fill your time with more things that bring you genuine joy, you will have less time to overthink the darkness. Fill your life as it is right now with more of what you see in your day dreams, and eventually they will look the same. Instead of getting lost in your day dreams, use them as your compass to lead the way to where you want to be.

Every Season Has A Purpose: Do Not Waste Your Winter

A morning snow fall was a pleasant surprise yesterday morning. I was surprised that I found it to be a pleasant surprise. Winter is my least favorite season by far, and I do not do well in the cold. Most winters I tend to bundle up, muttering through the wind whipping my face, under grey skies, and shivering as I struggle to find the car keys in my purse, that I should have pulled out when I was still inside. Anyone else been there? A few weeks ago we talked about drawing inspiration from (and the actual physical benefits of) house plants during the winter months. Beyond setting up a comfortable and personally inspiring indoor space, it’s also important step outside during these cold months and embrace the winter weather. Take a even a few moments to appreciate the unique happenings that occur at this time of year.

Don’t waste your winter waiting for the warmth of summer to return. Go out and enjoy what you can. The perfect day, the perfect time, the perfect opportunity to start whatever it is you’ve been putting off will never come. Go and start that project you’ve been planning, talk to the person you’ve been thinking about, plan that vacation you’ve been wanting to take. Stop allowing reasons and seasons to hold you back. Those roadblocks don’t matter. What matters is your attitude towards those roadblocks. It’s okay to get discouraged sometimes, and you may have to change your course because of those roadblocks, but do not let them put your entire life on hold. I only spent half an hour outside in the snow, when on a summer day I might have spent 3 hours if I had the time. Do what you can, when you can, where you are at. Then when your summer comes, imagine how much more you will be able to do, because of the ground work you laid out while it was cold.

Every season has a purpose, and even if you are not in bloom, it does make you any any less stunning in the snow.

Jump on moments of inspiration. If you suddenly feel an urge to work on a project you’ve been waiting on, to get back into a hobby you’ve stopped, to try something new, to go outside because it’s snowing unexpectedly one morning, do it. Explore. Follow those urges. Live in the moment and embrace life to its absolute fullest, because you don’t know how long the winter will last, or even if you will make until next summer. Every day is a gift, and everyday you are able to pursue the things that fill your heart with warmth is a greater gift. Do not take them for granted. Do not let this winter keep you feeling stuck inside. Do not let your road blocks turn into walls that keep you in an inescapable prison. Face them. Find out what you can learn from them. Find what is beautiful in them. Grow from them. Step outside into winter and see what you can build with your snow. You can create magnificent things, during any season, from where ever you are at.

Begin The Climb, Even If You Don’t Have The Gear

Ever put off a project or idea because, “I could never do that”? Maybe you thought you didn’t have the talent to accomplish that dream, or there weren’t resources at your disposal to execute your vision exactly how you would like. Maybe it’s just not the “right” time. When you maintain this fixed mindset, you limit your potential for the progress and growth that comes from learning as you go.

It’s crucial to think of life in terms of what you will learn from an experience rather than how you will perform while executing a task- particularly for the first time. If your project turns out different than you imagined, it is not evidence of failure, but a reflection of progress.

Don’t put off doing something because you don’t have the resources you need to do it or don’t know exactly how to do it. If you want to get into photography but can’t afford a high tech camera, start with your phone while you save up to buy one. Although it might not have the fancy features more advanced equipment can offer, it will teach you how to be resourceful, play with lighting and focus to create interesting shots. This might even lead to you becoming a better photographer once you get your hands on a camera since you will have had to learn how to take advantage of your space and environment to get those jaw dropping shots.

Similarly if you want to become an artist but don’t know how, or don’t have the means to obtain premium art supplies, start with any pencil you have around your house and draw on any piece of paper you can find. Use a pen and your grocery receipt, just keep working and trying and practicing your skills. Sculpt out of empty containers and candle wax. Then once you save for the supplies you need you’ll have the skills and ideas prepared to execute a vision that’s been mulling to perfection.

Maybe you just want to get out more, but don’t know where to go. Start by going for walks at the park closest to your house. Check out the fliers they have pinned on board, see if anything interests you. Look around while you’re there and see what you can see. Do you see any buildings? Any other trails or parks? any people? What are they doing? Just by gong somewhere, anywhere, it can lead to to your next step, even when your not sure where you want that next step to be.

More importantly, start talking to other people about what you want to do. You never know people’s stories, just like they don’t know all of yours, and they might also be interested in your passions, or have a friend of a friend who is and can help you. They might know a lot about grant writing, or showcase events, or where to get cheap courses in a particular subject. Or they might just be a place to come to for support. Talking to people is probably the scariest piece of advice from this article, but always remember that when you are doing your best to build the life you want, if someone has a problem with that it is a reflection on them and not you. Connecting with your community will open so many opportunities that you didn’t know existed. They may start small, but the more time and love that grows from you persistence, the more you will see your relationships, and dreams expand to places you didn’t dare dream possible.

If you start doing what you want with what you have, you will begin to develop the skills to become a master at your craft when you get to where you want to be faster. You are also training your brain to act resourcefully and always stay on alert for opportunities that are around you. As you immerse yourself in the world you want your life to become you’ll find a new perspective on what it is you wanted to do that will help you to evolve. The key is beginning. No apologizing for not being prepared, no procrastinating because you are not ready, no waiting because maybe there is something you might want more later. Begin today. With exactly what you have. Right where you are at.

You never know what can grow from those first steps

You’re Town isn’t Holding You Back- You Are

 

Feeling limited by the area you live in can be frustrating. When you focus on all the things you can’t do, you close off opportunities for things that you can. I find we tend to limit ourselves in this same way not only with physical location but where we are psychologically and emotionally. We get in our own heads with thoughts like “I could never do that,” or, “I’m not as talented as so and so,” or, “I’m not going to try because I don’t think I will be good.” We cling to the familiar while aching for change. We can’t have it both ways.

I am not particularly good at drawing and painting. I’ve always loved it though. My mom tells me stories how in preschool my friends would have to drag me away from the coloring table to play outside. Now I draw for a distraction, or as a form of self expression, or just to pass the time. I don’t practice frequently or try to actively improve my skills. It’s just something I do.

IMG_4426[1]Most of my pictures like the one above don’t have any type of deeper meaning, they just came out of my brain and onto the page. I think there is a toxic misconception out there that to engage in the arts, or gardening, or math, or cooking, or science, or writing, you need to try your best to be the best. You don’t. If you like to do something or want to try it out, do it. It’s okay to just do something because you like. Overtime you will probably get better at it because that’s what practice does, but if you don’t that’s okay too. If you love to bake but your kitchen concoctions never taste to delight, keep doing it. If you want to become a bird watcher, but don’t want to memorize encyclopedias of every genus, phylum, and species, don’t. Just watch your birds and soak up their songs.

IMG_4427[1]I could fill a sketch book with unfinished drawings like the faint outline of this would be elephant. Sometimes I have an idea but I don’t think I can do it the way I want, so I just don’t do it at all. This picture could have turned out beautiful. We’ll never know.

IMG_4431[1]Almost three years ago I made my first and only New Years Resolution ever. I decided to “Stop telling yourself you can’t”. I wrote it down on the first page of a new sketch book and told myself whatever went on those pages would not end up in a garbage bin, no matter how awful. I also needed to change my mindset about my life. I have so many ideas for what I want to do in my life, but I don’t think I could ever check off half my list. Then again, why couldn’t I? I have kept myself contained in a box built by what I perceived my limitations to be. If I want to publish a book I can. I can be a hair dresser. I can be a motivational speaker. I can be an actor. I can be an artist. I can be an explorer. I can do whatever I want. Other people do, so why not me too?

IMG_4428[1]There was a stretch of time that I stopped drawing. I stopped writing. I stopped exploring. I stopped acting. I stopped dancing. I stopped smiling. I stopped everything. I was so afraid of making the wrong choice, that I didn’t make any choices at all. We can not allow ourselves to shy away from what calls to us because of our perceived skill level. We miss opportunities we didn’t even know were available because we never try anything new.

IMG_4436[1]Most of the things I gave up weren’t even career aspirations. Hobbies are supposed to be fun. They help bring joy and purpose and love to your life. I think because in many hobbies there are particularly talented people who make money off their passions, we think we all do too. If we aren’t good enough at it to do so then we just don’t do it all. I wrote a poem a few months ago that expresses what I’m trying to say much better than what I’ve written so far.

IMG_4440[1]Don’t stay stuck up in your head. Try out what you want, and leave behind what doesn’t resonate with you. You can do more than you think, what matters most is that you are happy doing it. Go build a robot, write a novel, direct a play, take photos of clouds, draw the flower. It doesn’t matter where you are at, it matters what you do while you are there.

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Forget the Big Picture: Magic in the Mundane

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One of the major inspirations for this blog came from walking a trail near my home. It’s not a particularly noteworthy hiking spot- more of a walking path really, but I always seem to find something incredible there. There are no mountain top views, no waterfalls, no caves, just some gravel through the woods. Yet whenever I feel angry, or upset, or frustrated, or uninspired, I find myself seeking inspiration from the trees in my backyard.

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Once I pass the baseball fields at the entrance I am submerged in a place brought to life by detail. Every visit I find something that reignites the dulling flame in spirit. I am in awe of the creatures that peak out to watch as people pass over their home without a second glance. The sporadic flowers that fill the fields on either side of the pathway change every year. The forest floor is covered in moss and leaves and rocks and stumps and it’s all blended together harmoniously.

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My forest has brought so much clarity. The details of my forest make it beautiful. Details are what make life special. At first glance I wouldn’t think of this trail as anything more than a place to get some fresh air. Picturesque views from mountain tops and sandy beach sunsets, couldn’t provide the same sense of amazement about the delicate intricacies this world has to offer. The uniqueness this town has to offer.

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When we discredit the everyday, we miss out on the details of life that make it worth living. The beauty of saying good morning, unexpected afternoon naps, cooking dinner, planting flowers, cleaning out the basement, slipping on socks fresh from the dryer, gets lost in the idea that most of life is unremarkable.  Your life doesn’t need to be flashy or attractive for you to create something beautiful.

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I tend to romanticize the way other people live their lives in my mind. When I think about how they grocery shop, or study, or write, or eat, or play with their pets, it always seems so different and magical compared to the way I do it. Of course in their minds, they are going through the routine of their day, but to me it’s fascinating. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. From handwriting, to style, to home décor, to pet names, the most personal and telling information about ourselves is reflected in the details of our life. In movies with the perfect background music, we watch characters get ready for the day and it all seems so much cooler the way they brush their teeth than how you do. What they eat for breakfast is the same old Mini-Wheats they have everyday, but it seems so much more appetizing when we see their life played out in quality lighting with a carefully selected playlist. That’s how I see the details of everyone else’s life.

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The details of your life are unique to you. Make them count. Examine how you spend your day and take time to appreciate the incredible way you operate. Your thoughts, your preferences, your choices no matter how small are so powerful. To get to where you want to go, you need to know where you are at right now. You may feel ordinary, but you are filled with the most intricate details that make your presence remarkable. Go out and seek the spots of your home that are packed with inspiration. Go and admire the details of those around you. Go and take note of the fantastical ways you live. Stare at the floor, look under, look over, look beyond what’s right in front of you.

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The Secret to Surviving a Small Town

I have wanted nothing more than to escape the mundane life of a small town just outside a not so major city. The problem with small towns is most people feel the same way. We all want to run away to places where “there’s always something happening.” We don’t even know what that “something else” is most of the time- at least not specifically. We want better jobs, better homes, better parks, better art, better night life, better food, better anything. What job, what food, what to do, we don’t really know. We just want better. Life in a small town seems so insignificant when everyone doing anything of importance seems to be somewhere else. Small town America while seemingly unexciting can offer unique experiences with their own kind of magic. You just have to look for them.

I live just outside the Scranton area, and everyone seems to hate living here. Our own local news reported on a Gallup pole ranking the city as the 13th most miserable city to live in the country (placing first within the Commonwealth). Some people want to leave but don’t have the option, others stay and just complain. I can’t help but think if everyone spent their energy on building up the good in the area instead of bringing it down, what it might look like. The area has so much to offer. You just have to look for it. I have a feeling other towns in a similar position as us are the same way. We have incredible hiking trails, a vibrant artistic community, a rich classically American history, and several universities throughout the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area. The pieces are here, so why aren’t they coming together? I think it’s a lack of appreciation for the resources at our finger tips.

Place has a lot to do with our mindsets as well. We get so stuck in putting off our dreams for the right time and place. People don’t think they can manifest their ideas where they are. Physically, they might think they have to move to LA, NYC, DC, Chicago, Seattle, or Portland to begin their journey to success. They put off starting a project until they can save to move away. Or they put it off until Summer starts, or until they get a new computer, or until they start school, or until they end school, or until the time just “feels right.” The time wont ever feel right. You won’t ever get past your initial  idea if you place constraints on yourself from the beginning.  To get where you want to be, look around at where you’re at and see what you can do today. Film that video on your phone. Write a few chapters for that book. Teach yourself the piano. Do what you can with what you have. There are resources in your neighborhood you probably don’t know exist. Go to your community centers, talk to the small business owners in your area. Pick their brain. The only way to realize your dreams is to begin working on them. Right now. Don’t wait for tomorrow, because you won’t start it then either.

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