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.

When Your Best Isn’t Enough

If you have done the very best you can do, no one can ask any more of you- not even yourself.

Sometimes you try the best you can, you give your absolute all, and it’s just not enough. It’s crushing. Devastating. It’s the setback in life that hurts the most. How do you pick up and try to do better next time when you gave everything you had to give?

First of all, recognize that you did your best. You gave your all, and that is enough. Be proud of the work you did, because even if it was unsuccessful, or no one else saw it, or they did and it didn’t matter to them, you gave it everything you had. That is crucial. Reflect on everything you did right, not with resentment, but with a love for the work you did and a love for yourself. If you have done the very best you can do, no one can ask any more of you, not even yourself.

Next, get upset. After the initial shock of failure, then processing it through the lens of recognizing your work, grieve the loss of the effort you put in. It’s okay to be upset. It’s okay to get angry. It’s okay to question why this happened, and to feel hurt by rejection, or dismissal, or ignorance. Process that pain, and feel it in its entirety. You put your whole heart out into your work, and you put your time, and energy, and your intellect out on display only to have it be turned away. It’s okay to get upset.

After you’ve processed that pain, it’s time to analyze. You’ve reflected on everything that you’ve done right, you’ve felt through the wrongness of the situation, and now your head and heart have a clear space to freely analyze the what happened. If you plan on trying again, what went wrong? Where can you make changes? Can you tweak the project? Does it need fundamental changes? Was it just a fluke? If the next step is to move forward to something new, analyze the specific reason for the downfall, and brainstorm a list of ideas as to how to prevent it from happening again.

Sometimes in life we encounter roadblocks. But when we put out best foot forward and it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t feel like a road block. It’s more like a bridge on our life path crumbled while we were crossing it. And sometimes it’s your fault for choosing an old, rickety bridge to cross, sometimes it’s the bridge builder’s fault for building it with cheap materials, and sometimes it’s no one’s fault at all. Sometimes things just happen. What matters is how we respond to them. Will you lie in the river and let the current take you away? Will you swim out, and climb back up to the top? Or will you find a new path at the edge of the river? It’s up to you how to proceed.

Always try your best, because when you do, no one can ask anymore of you- not even yourself. When you do your best and it doesn’t work out how you hoped it would, do not let it deter you from doing your best in the future. People will respect you for trying your hardest and failing, much more than they will for only doing half the work and sort of succeeding. You will respect yourself more for trying your best, than if you only put in the minimal effort. If things don’t work out, you will know in heart you gave everything you had, and will be able to move onto other endeavors without regrets about how you handled yourself. You can not control the actions of anyone else but yourself. When you put your best foot forward it will pay off. Consistency, hard work, passion. Let them flourish in you. Take the time you need to heal from a set back, and then forge your new path that will take you to heights you may have never imagined you’d see. No matter where your path has taken you, split off, diverged, or turned around, you will find your way. You can accomplish so much with the vision that is in your heart. You can do anything, right where you’re at.

The Things You Are Doing Now Matter

The things you are doing now matter.

A few weeks ago, I came across a concept that was put in a different context, but the way it was phrased resonated with me. I knew I needed to share it. It was a screen shot of a Tumblr post I saw on Pinterest, and the essence of the piece was this: Stop saying, “If you put your mind to it, you can do anything.” Instead, change your view point to something like “the things you are doing now matter.” This type of language is equally, if not more important and validating. Please remember that.

Don’t get me wrong, having the courage to pursue your dreams, to live your passions is beautiful. I do believe that we can reach the stars with hard work, determination, and love. It’s also important to set goals and look to the future. The problem lies in only setting goals, only looking to the future, only working for tomorrow.

Sometimes, we need to take a step back and validate the work we are doing at the moment. The things you are doing right now matter.

We live in a time of final products. We consume a constant stream of media, from all different outlets. We idolize finished products, and we never see the work that went into creating those ads, stars, songs, films, photos, books. We never see that all successes began with a seed of an idea, and likely took months to years of labor to bloom.

We don’t realize that the things we do everyday are what matter. Your smile at the stranger in the grocery store. Going the extra mile at the job you might resent. Writing one page of a book a day. Completing one piece of art for a portfolio a week. Cleaning off the table after putting it off for a month. Doing what you can, when you can. The things you are doing now matter.

Living with this mind set, alleviates some of the pressure to eventually reach some most likely unattainable standard set in your mind. The small steps you take each day are what will get you to a place you want to be anyway. Recognizing your own power and importance allows you to act with intent and love. To make choices that will actually help you feel good about yourself. To keep yourself healthy. To keep yourself sane.

We are always growing. From the time we enter this beautiful world, we grow. We will continue to change and develop until we leave this world, and when we do, what will have mattered most is how we felt and made others felt while we were here. Our actions everyday make a difference. The way you drive- aggressively or compassionately, the way you talk- kindly or spitefully, the way you worked- honestly or hastily; these are what change the world. If you put your mind to it, you really can do anything. But always remember, that every moment of your life matters. That doing your best even when you feel you can do better is still something to be proud of. You don’t always have to be working to some greater purpose. You change the world. Exactly as you are. Exactly where you are at.

Make Your Big City Dreams Come True When You Live In NoWhereVille

When I talk to people in my area about career goals, the first response I always get is, “There’s nothing here, get out as soon as you can”. Living in a small town- especially one outside of a declining city like Scranton can feel uninspiring and limiting. The opportunities in a small town are not as vast as those available to the urban communities. Even further than career opportunities, finding things to fill free time seems impossible too. We’ve all seen the meme floating around “You know you’ve grown up in a small town when Friday nights meant driving around the same streets for hours.” It’s true. While I firmly believe smaller areas offer unique benefits that cannot be matched in the city, big dreams die fast in small towns. Below I’ve compiled a very short list of the many tools you can use to begin turning your dreams into reality exactly where you are at.

Education is power, and no one can ever take away the knowledge you have gathered. The first step to growing your future and working on seriously pursuing your passions is to learn as much as you can about the field you want to enter. Even if you cannot afford advanced education, there are so many resources you can utilize for free or at a low cost. Here are some of my favorites:

  1. https://www.coursera.org/ This website offers a variety of courses in anything you can imagine, from business to photography, government to nutrition, astrophysics to foreign language. Some of the courses have a fee, but many are free and they are all taught by university professors. They also offer certifications, which are great resume builders. I took a free marketing course on here a few years ago after my dad told me about the site and had a wonderful experience. It can be a great tool to learn about finance if you want to start a business. It can also allow you to test the waters in a topic if you were thinking about going to school for a specific degree, and wanted to get a feel for what it might be like to study that area.
  2. https://www.khanacademy.org/ Khan Academy is a wonderful tool for students and also another resource to learn about an area that you want to grow your knowledge in. Their resources are free of charge, simple to understand, and engaging. While geared towards younger students, they have entrepreneurship classes, mindset growth classes, and personal finance as well. They also offer a variety of courses in computer skills that would be extremely helpful if you were looking to grow an online presence, or do some creative computer work- a field in high demand that you can find work for anywhere.
  3. https://publicdomainreview.org/ Another great resource for learning on a budget or with limited access to resources! This site monitors when resources, literature, and art become part of the public domain (aka the copy rights expire and it becomes free!). It’s a cool tool to find both work and leisure materials for free.

Beyond learning about achieving your aspirations, you also need tools to put your plans into action. Here are some fun sources that might come in handy for anyone who has an interest in starting a business, building a brand, and growing your passions into a career.

  1. https://buffer.com/ This site allows members to manage all social media accounts from one central platform. You can review traffic stats to your pages, and even schedule the sight to post your content at prime times for you if you won’t be available to do it yourself. You can begin with 3 social accounts for free or upgrade to 8 for 15 dollars a month. It’s a great tool to help out businesses get organized and analyze social media to maximize their potential with an online presence.
  2. Fhttps://fontstruct.com/ Font Struct is a free site where you can create custom fonts to spice up your business’ website, your business cards, or create a signature style of writing to help you with the branding process.
  3. https://99designs.com/ Essentially, if you need a logo designed for your business, self brand, etc., 99 Designs is a life saver for the artistically limited. You submit a request describing what you have in mind for your logo, book cover, site header, whatever you need, and artists will fill the order and compete for your business. You look at the designs and only pay for the one you pick to use.
  4. https://wordpress.com/ If you want to start a blog or build a website but are unsure how, I would highly recommend beginning your journey with wordpress. I am far from tech savvy, far far far from tech savvy. My mom had to connect my laptop to my wireless printer because I could not figure out how to set it up, and was on the verge of tears in frustration. WordPress is so user friendly that even I am able to manage a blog. It also has a massive community of users which connects you to limitless resources when building your site, and comes with the assurance of reliability.

I also found a few sites to help you focus and work on productivity. Simplifying your life and getting organized can clear away room in your mind to begin working on more important, bigger goals.

  1. https://ifttt.com/ IFTTT stands for “if this then that.” The site allows you to link your technologies and apps together to keep you organized and up to date on anything that interests you. It’s a cool and free way to connect your apps to work together and eliminate some of the extra steps from your day.
  2. https://www.any.do/ Any.do is the ultimate calendar app. You can create a to do list in a central space so nothing gets forgotten. You can also link other apps like email to immediately add meetings or requests directly to your list so you won’t forget to go back later, or have to leave the screen you’re currently on to grow your list. Anything from planning your day to groceries, Any.do is a perfect way to start getting organized with out paying 35 dollars for a fancy planner you’ll probably lose next week anyway.

Finally, I found some great resources for when your environment isn’t providing the inspiration you need to keep creating and working towards your goals.

  1. https://www.pinterest.com/ Pinterest is old news, but I utilize it everyday as a source of inspiration. It’s a personalized experience to the max, full of incredible ideas for personal and professional growth.
  2. http://www.languageisavirus.com/index.php#.XD4itlxKjIU Language is a Virus is a unique tool I recently found to inspire and motivate writers. Whether you enjoy writing for personal expression, or want to pursue the craft as a profession, or need help with ideas for an essay in school, this site is full of prompts and resources to light your creative spark into a full flame.
  3. https://wepresent.wetransfer.com/ We Present is a site that provides back stories to works of art, music, writing, etc. They tell how some of the most incredible creations on this world came to exist. Reading about the creative process of others might help you build or refine your own.
  4. https://www.artistsnetwork.com/ Artists’ Network is a site that posts inspiration, articles covering all things art, and posts dates for art competitions. It’s a great resource for anyone looking to get creatively inspired, grow their artistic abilities, and learn about the art community.

The physical opportunities available to you might be limited due to your location, finances, or situation. The internet has a variety of useful tools that you can take advantage of for free or at an extremely low cost to start taking over the world, even if you live in NoWhereVille right now. You can do anything if you put your mind to it. Reach out to people in your community who have found success, and learn from them. Reach out online to the people you admire and learn from them. The internet has opened an unlimited resource of knowledge and connection for people to be whatever they want to be. You might not be able to move to LA and become the next Food Network Star, but you can amass a huge following on YouTube with your own online cooking show, that might even bring in more viewers than the T.V. chefs. You can create an album and release it on Sound Cloud. You can open an e-commerce store if you can’t afford to rent out a building, or don’t live in an area where you would get enough traffic to sustain a brick and mortar store. You can do anything you want, right where you’re at.

If you have any favorite online resources for personal, creative, or career growth, leave them in the comments! We would love to see what else is out there to explore!

Forget the Big Picture: Magic in the Mundane

IMG_4268[1]

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.

IMG_4238[1]

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.

IMG_4168[1]

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.

IMG_4292[1]     IMG_4372[1]

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.

IMG_4177[1]

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.

IMG_4373[1]

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.

IMG_1884[1]

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.

IMG_4143[1]