“‘Cause There’s A Million Things To Be, You Know That There Are….”

Cat Stevens said it best. There are a million things to be. This inspiration came to me the other day. It is amazing how little hints of wisdom come to us in our day to day lives, oftentimes without us even realizing it. Only until we are receptive to it will we be able to notice them, because they are all around us, all the time, waiting to be noticed. As I was driving in my car thinking about the shocking reality that in a few short months I will be twenty years old. Yes, I know that to some this sounds ancient and to most it sounds inexplicably young. Anyhow, to me it sounds new, different, exciting, and anticipatory all at the same time. So as I drove, I thought about what I envision my life to look like over the next ten years (afterall, they do say that your 20’s are a pretty defining decade!), and Cat Stevens “If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out” came on through the car radio. I don’t know who was listening to me think, but it was as if the Universe knew I needed to hear that song at that very moment. 

Current times that we are all facing right now are enough to teach all of us this important realization: life is incredibly short and fragile. Truly, our opportunity to live our best, most exciting life is right here in the now. And sometimes, life can feel long and daunting and overwhelming too. But what I have come to notice is that the moments when life is feeling long are the ones in which we are waiting for something. Waiting for something to come to us, for something to change, for something to come knocking on our door. And while luck may have it that opportunity will come to us at some point, more often than not, we are responsible for going out and getting it ourselves. 

This week (and for the rest of your life), I challenge you to be intentional about how you use your time. There are literally a million things you can be in this world. Whatever it is, let it be something good. Good for you and for the people around you. In trying times we are especially reminded that we have this golden opportunity and chance in life to do what we were meant to do and become who we were meant to become. As Cat Stevens so eloquently put it:

Well, if you want to sing out, sing out

And if you want to be free, be free

‘Cause there’s a million things to be

You know that there are

And if you want to live high, live high

And if you want to live low, live low

‘Cause there’s a million ways to go

You know that there are

You can do what you want

The opportunity’s on

And if you find a new way

You can do it today

You can make it all true

And you can make it undo

You see, ah ah ah

It’s easy, ah ah ah

You only need to know

Well, if you want to say yes, say yes

And if you want to say no, say no

‘Cause there’s a million ways to go

You know that there are

And if you want to be me, be me

And if you want to be you, be you

‘Cause there’s a million things to do

You know that there are

You can do what you want

The opportunity’s on

And if you find a new way

You can do it today

You can make it all true

And you can make it undo

You see, ah ah ah

It’s easy, ah ah ah

You only need to know

Well, if you want to sing out, sing out

And if you want to be free, be free

‘Cause there’s a million things to be

You know that there are

You know that there are

You know that there are

You know that there are

You know that there are

What will you be today? And who will you be for the rest of your life? Write it down, envision it, dream it. And most importantly, once you have done all that, do it. Don’t wait on the world to deliver to you. It is waiting on you. 

“Get Out Of Your Own Way….Hey, Hey, Hey”

U2 to the rescue once again. I have recently been loving this band and I am realizing how much I appreciate their music and even more so, the power and transcendence behind their lyrics. “Get Out Of Your Own Way” came on in the car the other day. My mom and I jammed to the music as this song serves as one of those great ones to blast on the highway. And as I was enjoying the carefree moment, I was intently listening to the words when the following line struck me:

“Nothing’s stopping you except what’s inside

I can help you but it’s your fight, your fight….

Get of our your own way, hey, hey, hey”

This made me really think and so I listened to the song again later that day. Have you ever had one of those moments when you listen to something so perfectly worded that it stops you right then and there? When an idea you hold true is spoken in a way you have never heard it before? That is how this song made me feel. And I know it to be true.

Oftentimes the biggest obstacle that is standing in our way is our own self. This can come in many forms: overthinking, self-doubt, imposter syndrome, self-pity, and the list goes on and on…. Our own minds hold the power that either unleashes self-actualization, courage, and belief, or procrastination, doubt, and fear. Sometimes we become so consumed in our own head, in our own way, that we completely lose sight of what is right in front of us and what we could achieve if we just stepped out of it for a moment.

When we learn to be conscious of this and make the decision to regularly get out of our own way, life becomes easier, more productive, and exciting. If your heart is saying yes to a decision and your mind is attempting to derail you with what-ifs and doubts, step back. Get out of your own way. Make the decision that is coming from the best version of you. If you seem stuck in a pattern that you want to change- maybe it is that you are always finding a reason not to exercise, eat healthy, get up on time, find that job, etc., it is most likely coming from this simple truth: you are in your own way. 

Motivational Speaker and Entrepreneur Mel Robbins talks about the “knowledge action gap”. It is when we know what to do but we just can’t seem to get ourselves to do it. To do the little things that would change and improve our lives. Why is this? Well, according to Mel’s science-backed philosophy, our brains have 5 seconds to make a decision before we talk ourselves out of it. If you are laying in bed in the morning, knowing that you made a commitment to yourself to get up and exercise before work and your mind talks you out of doing so, you have fallen into the “knowledge action gap”. We all have from time to time. But it is our responsibility, and we owe it to ourselves to honor the commitments we make to ourselves. To do the things that ultimately become rather significant in our life, work, health, family, and dreams. We must get out of our own way.

Your Train Will Come

The above line is from the beautiful story, Under The Tuscan Sun, a novel written by Frances Hayes, which was later turned into the movie featuring Diane Lane. Not only does the movie capture the wonders of Italy, but it captures the journey one woman takes in her pursuit of meaning, happiness, and zest for life. I believe that her journey is symbolic of all of our journeys. Each different, each unique. This quote made me think about my own journey and the trajectory I dream it goes in. I began to think about how many of us wait for things to come to us rather than going out and getting them for ourselves. Don’t get me wrong- some things we must be patient for and letting them work their way to us is wiser than going on the chase for them first. But many things; many of the big things that we want for our lives, we have to go and get them. Everyone wants a life where all of their dreams play out into fruition- it is distinctly human to desire that. Why then, do only some people attain this kind of life? The people who are brave and willing to take a risk. The people who know that their life is so precious and time sensitive and possible. The people who lay down the train tracks of their life before they even hear the train. Those people are the ones.

Looking at the train and its tracks as symbols for our life’s journey- I like to think of it like this: the tracks are the plans, progress, dreams, perseverance, and most importantly belief (because nothing extraordinary can happen if you do not at least believe in it first), and the train is the dream being lived out. Full steam ahead. Taking itself and others on a magnificent and scenic journey. 

The trick is to start building the train tracks now. Even if it is one inch at a time. And this process can be incredibly exciting and fulfilling. Dreaming about what you want your life to look like- where you want to live, what you want to be, what you want to change- this is the first crucial step in building your track. And the thing about the track is, it is not one straight line. There are curves and sharp turns and maybe some stops along the way. But these changes in direction are what ultimately lead us to where we belong. The small parts of our story add to the whole of who we are. They lead us to places, experiences, and most profoundly, people who become a part of us and our journey.

It does not take much to begin. All it takes is a present mind and an open heart to allow us to get in touch with ourselves, and figure out what it is that we want for ourselves in our lives. And then, go out and get them. 

And as Marcello from the movie says, “When you smash into something good, hold onto it”. Hold onto all that is good. Be wise enough to let go of what is not. And lay the tracks for your own life. The train will come when it’s ready. 

Make It Happen

Last night, I finished the Micheal Jordan 10 part series documentary, The Last Dance. Growing up with a brother who is a huge MJ fan, I was always very taken by his magnetism and larger than life persona. While I did not live during his playing era and therefore was unable to watch his games, I felt that the documentary provided very deep insight into the life of Michael Jordan and his journey in the game of basketball. In the final episode, Jordan stated the following line, the very inspiration for this blog post: “Why would I worry about missing a shot I haven’t even taken yet?” The quote was followed by former Chicago Bulls coach Phil Jackson explaining that the single most important thing that set Michael apart from anyone else in the NBA is that he was always present to the moment. Not thinking about the game before, or the one to come. He was always in the now. 

If you are wanting something to happen for you in your life- a dream, a job, a new body, a new mindset, and the list goes on…..you must be willing to make it happen. You are the only person who truly knows what you want. And you are the only person who can truly make it happen. My favorite motivational speaker Mel Robbins talks about how nobody is on their way to come and make things happen for you. Only you can do that. And, it turns out, making things happen for ourselves is a heck of a lot more rewarding than having someone else do it anyhow.

The secret lies in consistency. Be intentional about your decisions. Mel Robbins’ “5 Second Rule” philosophy is that our life comes down to 5 second intervals at a time. Our brain only needs 5 seconds to go from action mode to overthinking. We all know what we should do. The funny thing is, is that we know essentially everything that we need to do to make most of our dreams happen. The trick? Actually doing them. Day in and day out. Whether it is that you need to get up early to work on your business, your fitness, your expertise in a certain field, time with your children, etc. you know what to do. Many people quit once they have encountered the taste of failure. But failure is often needed to some degree before we can succeed. Take it from Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest athlete of all time. He says that the REASON he was so successful, was because he encountered failure on his way to glory. 

When we become excited by the fact that we have the knowledge of what we need to do to make our dreams happen, it makes the doing of those things much easier and likely to happen. We have been given this one life. The time is now. Don’t spend your days merely wishing and hoping. Spend them making your life happen. Greatness, dreams, and success are not easy. But they are certainly worth it. 

“And I Want To Feel It Too….On An Island In The Sun….”

The popular Weezer song entitled Island In The Sun has to be one of my favorite songs of all time. Not only is it featured in my favorite movie Aquamarine, but it brings the nostalgia of summer and the carefree, sunny days spent by the shore. I listen to this song often. And whether it is one of those summer days or a rainy winter afternoon at home, I will turn the song on, and it always, without fail brings the same familiar feeling. Yesterday as the song came on my playlist, I began to notice something. So often when I listen to it I imagine myself by the ocean on a sunny day surrounded by people I love; because for me, that is my idea of bliss. Now for you, that may be walking by the Eiffel Tower in Paris or skiing the Swiss Alps. You see, we all have our own version of “an island in the sun”, and we all think about it from time to time. A grounding imagine, a thought that brings us joy and peace.

But, what if we could become our own “island in the sun”? Since we can’t always arrive at the physical destination that we long for, it is our responsibility to create the island we want no matter where we are. After reading best-selling author Glennon Doyle’s memoir Untamed, I was inspired to make a connection between the book and the song. She talks about how throughout our lives, the only person we spend 100% of our time with, is ourselves. It is as if we are all individual islands traversing our way through the sea of life. WE have the choice about who and what steps onto our island. We can determine the weather, the music, and the goodness that it brings to other islands. 

There is a distinct difference between happiness and joy. You see, happiness is an emotion that occurs as a result of a positive event occurring. It can be momentary or long-lasting, but regardless, it is cause-and-effect based. Joy on the other hand, is a chosen constant state. Wait a minute- constant joy? No, that’s impossible. But rather a constant state of choosing joy- that is possible. And many of the most successful, happy people are the way that they are because they have learned the art of joy. Holding joy in your heart is a choice always there for you to embrace. It means knowing that negative and challenging things will happen, but trusting in your own joy for life to get you through those moments of struggle.

Why, then, do many people choose not to embrace the joy within them and around them? It is because they have lost sight of their own island and the fact that they are the only ones who can steer their own ship. We have a choice about how we want to show up to our own life. The joy and the sun are always there. It is in the little moments and the big. Build your island to be one that basks in the sun. And share it with each island around you.

Inhala Exhala….

Last week, I finished the finale of Jane The Virgin, the TV Drama telenovela series. The show seemed to be all the rage a few years ago, and so I was late to the party watching it. But all I can say is: wow. Art in its many forms is designed to do one thing: to move its audience. The show centers on family, love, and the notion to never give up on yourself or the ones you love. The above quote, “inhala, exhala”, a phrase used in the show throughout its entirety, has become a phrase that I notice myself repeating in my head whenever there is a moment that warrants me to take a few deep breaths. The above picture is Yael Grobglas, who played Petra Solano on the show. It was taken on the last day of filming, and she stated that she was taking a moment to “inhala, exhala”; to take in the last precious moments and reflect on the 5 previous years of Jane The Virgin. This caused me to really think. “Inhala, exhala” can serve two major purposes in our lives. To either 1: let something go or 2: take something in.

Let’s start with the number one. To let something go. We all know that deep breathing is one of the most effective tools to calm stress and anxiety. And everyone experiences times of both. That is just a fact of life. But the funny thing is, is that much of what humans worry and stress about is wasted energy. Is worrying and stress valid and to be expected? Of course. But, in the end, people seem to notice that the small things that brought great stress were not worth the sweat. This mantra: inhala, exhala serves as a powerful reminder that we are always in control. As Nelson Mandela stated, “I am the captain of my fate, the master of my soul”. We have the power to let go of what does not serve us. And sometimes that comes in sitting down to inhale and exhale deeply. One powerful method that seems to do the trick for me, is the “four, seven, eight” method. Inhale for 4, hold for 7, exhale for 8. Repeat for about a minute and you will notice a physical shift. Visualize yourself exhaling out the thing that is taking your calm. Sometimes you just need to let it go; that conversation, moment, outcome, or feeling. Feel. Release. Repeat. But most importantly, inhala, exhala. 

Now, for my favorite of the two purposes. To take something in. In moments of heightened emotion, whether it is fear, stress, anger, excitement, or gratitude, in order for our minds and bodies to process them fully, it is required of us to slow the moment down. Just as we discussed letting things go with an “inhala, exhala”, the same is sometimes needed when we want to take something in fully. In moments of extreme love, gratitude, and wonder (the very best of emotions!) take a moment to inhala, exhala. This can be before an event, during, or after. In Yael’s case, she took a moment before filming the final episode to breathe in all of her feelings. To sit down in them. To honor them and embrace them fully. It has a camera-like effect. It takes a mental snapshot of the moment. If you do not take the time to LOOK AROUND at all that life has to offer, you will be missing the point.

For anyone who has seen the show, you will recall that the phrase always went like this: “inhala, exhala, Jane” (the main character). Whether it was when she was feeling incredibly stressed or incredibly blessed, she reminded herself to do this. You can catch me saying this to myself, sometimes out loud. In which case you will know why and not wonder why I am speaking out loud to myself in Spanish ;).

And so, I will leave you with this. In the words of John Lennon, “When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” 

Inhala….exhala…let it go. Take it in. All of it.

What Were The Chances?

Let me say it one more time: the privilege of a lifetime is being who you are. Joseph Campbell, a way with words you certainly did have! So often we are trying to change things about ourselves. Do you notice that? Well, I think that any driven or inspired human does. And while it is not only normal, but necessary to challenge and change parts of ourselves in order to grow into our best selves, we need to remember who we are in the process. The minute we get away from who we are to our core, is the minute we begin to forget the privilege we have all been given.

I am a firm believer that each of us has been born with our own unique purpose. There is a reason why each of us are here. Perhaps the “journey” of life is the path we need to take in order to realize why we are here- why any of us are here. To find the meaning of it all. Did you know that the chances of you being born just as you are, at the point in time you were born, to the parents you were born to, is 1 in 400 trillion. 1 in 400 trillion. When the moments arise where you do not feel good enough, less than, or lacking purpose, remember this wildly fascinating fact. It is true for all of us. It is a fact rooted in our shared humanity.

So then, if each of us are here for our own unique reason, it only makes sense that our reasons for being are intertwined with one another. A greater, bigger purpose that we all share. I think that sharing who we are with other people is one of the greatest gifts we can give them, and ourselves. Because once we do that, it gives other people permission to be themselves. When we open ourselves up to this idea that our life has been given to us for great reason, we open ourselves up to each other. The act of sharing a part of us with the world has a ripple effect; it touches the life of someone else, and results in them, in turn, touching someone else’s. Never underestimate that.

And as Steve Jobs says, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life”. That would just defeat the purpose 🙂 Live your life, be who you are, and never stop becoming the best version of you. The world needs it. 

“I’m Gonna Make It By Any Means; I’ve Got A Pocket Full of Dreams….”

We all have that pocket- the pocket full of dreams that Alicia Keys talks about in her song Empire State of Mind. Being an avid New York City visitor growing up, I have always felt the magic in this song. And so, I have been thinking recently about what this meant: to have a pocket full of dreams. To me, it means that no matter where we go, no matter what we have, or what we do, we are always carrying around these dreams inside of us (or in our pocket anyways). 

We ALL have dreams, and while some can’t wait to share them and others deny they are even there, they are inside each of us. Many have forgotten them, while others are just forming them. I don’t know about you, but I think that living a life without having dreams is quite simply, boring. And this is not to say that everyone will fulfill all of their wildest dreams, or that any of it will be easy. But what I am saying is that having vision for yourself and your future is so incredibly important. And by dreaming big and expanding the vision for what you thought you could achieve- well, that is an achievement in and of itself. And by thinking big for your future does not mean you are neglecting the present moment; in fact, by carrying around your pocket of dreams, the present moment will most likely become even more exciting. 

And as with most extraordinary things, comes an extraordinary amount of effort, work, and possibly even set-back. But, that is why it is called being extraordinary, as you must put in the “extra”. But that is more than okay, because in the end, the result will feel even more rewarding knowing you broke a sweat to get there. 

Dreams come in all shapes and sizes. Maybe your dream is to play for the NFL, launch your own business, or move to Florence. Or maybe it is to start a family, to land your dream job, or get into college. It may even be to start exercising or being brave enough to start writing a book. There is no limit and there is nothing too small. But, what I do know, is that I have dreams. And you have dreams. And they make life worth living. 

When we have something, a vision to look towards- we become motivated to push ourselves to the next level. And as many of the most remarkable people in the world will say- the real growth occurs during the process of getting to where you want to be. 

And, if you need a little pump-up, take 3 minutes and 36 seconds to listen to Alicia Keys. This song will make you dream big. 🙂

“So I just let go of what I know I don’t know…..”

Jason Mraz has always had a way with words, as all great artists do. Music has a way of saying things that spoken words often cannot. Today I want to talk about something that we all face. It is something we are facing especially now, at this point in our history. But, as with all challenges, you are given a crucial offer: to grow.

Uncertainty. What-if. The land of unknowns. Nobody likes it. It is not in our human nature to handle uncertainty with ease. In fact, it is in our survival instinct to react to it with fear. Since our beginning, we have been trained to always look around the next corner, to know exactly what is coming next, and encounter whatever that is with control and success. Well, that plan can’t always work, as I am sure everyone who is reading this knows. We just can’t always have it all lined up. However, we can trick our mind into reacting differently. Rather than reacting to uncertainty with fear, we can actually react to it with knowledge. With composure. With confidence. 

It is about adopting a sense of internal calm. The kind that sets you free. It is possible to set yourself free from the spiral of overthinking or the “art of creating problems that weren’t even there”. When you allow yourself to be calm on the inside no matter what the events are that are occuring externally, then you have gained true power. You no longer let things, other people, fears, and uncertainty control you and weigh you down. Is it natural to be afraid, scared, lonely, and frustrated when the world is out of control around you? Of course! But is it also possible to maintain a calm mind, body, and soul during even the most uncertain of conditions? Yes. 

We are living in arguably some of the most uncertain times in our lifetime. And it is okay to feel all of the feelings. You should, in fact, feel them all and see them all for what they are: real. But when you allow yourself to find your inner strength, peace, and calm, any situation starts to become a whole lot easier to digest. 

  • Recognize what you do know, and use it as knowledge.
  • Recognize what you do not know, and if you can learn it, learn it. And if you cannot, because it is uncertain or unknown, let it go.

Life is often placing roadblocks, throwing curveballs, and veering us off of our desired course; but you will learn that that is okay. When we remember that we are living a human experience, we realize that we are not alone. And when we remember our inner peace of mind, we can weather the storm around us with a bit more ease and confidence than before.

And when you start applying this to our life, you might even see a certain sense of spontaneity enter your days. And that is never a bad thing. Remember that often in the most uncertain of times, the brightest rays of hope and togetherness shine through. Embrace what you do know and use it. And what you don’t know- Let go of it. I bet you nobody else knows it either 😉

The Little Moment

Exhaust the little moment. It is one of the best, and most beautiful things that we can do. As my favorite Latin phrase implies, “carpe diem” means to get all of the life offered in each day. It is to literally seize it for all of it’s worth and beauty, struggle, and being. And so, what if we also learned to exhaust the little moments too? And by exhaust, I mean to absorb it fully. Living the life out of each moment. Because, as Gwendolyn Brooks did say- soon that moment will pass, never in it’s exact form again. It will pass right before your eyes, so quickly that if you do not catch it, it may go unseen. Knowing this should be enough for us to exhaust the little moment, right? This seems like such a transcendent, profound thing to do. While yes, it is profound, it is also there, right there with you all day long. You do not need much to do this. All you need is the moment, and the willingness to open yourself to it.

I think what gets in many people’s way is that they think that in order to fully “carpe” their “diem”, their day has to be flawless. Well, while yes, there are certainly those days that go so perfectly, they seem almost unreal. But if you wait to live with your “living in the moment” attitude for only these days, you may be waiting for a while in between. At the end of the day, it is in fact the little moments that make life worth living. Grand moments are amazing, and wildly important too, but it is what happens in between those larger-than-life moments that teach us why we are here. Maybe the secret to living an extraordinary life is knowing this and in turn making these moments meaningful. While none of us really know the secret, maybe that is part of why we are all here- to figure it out. It is finding the life, the beauty, the meaning, and the connection in all of it. And since we cannot get back moments that have already passed, we must be present to them before they do, so that we can experience them for all that they are.

The moments we are given in our life are meant to be LIVED. Find the life in all of them. And find the humor in as many as you can. Be it beauty, love, or hardship, know that it is all put there for reasons greater than we can or should know. But it is all meant to add to the story that is our life. Lighten up the moment, but deepen it when it needs to be.

You will start to see that moments are constantly alive, all around us, all day long. When we open ourselves up to them, we realize that there are lots to go around. You will see that even in these days, as the world is living in unusual, unprecedented, and uncertain times- the moments are still there. They may seem even smaller, but they are there. 

Live them.