structured vs. rigid

if you've been following my blog for awhile now, you've probably noticed that i usually post every saturday. well, yesterday came and went - it's sunday now and a blog post didn't go up yesterday. i could have crammed it in, made it work, and gotten it out there. but there was no reason for that, and that's actually what i want to talk about on this sleepy, drizzly vermont sunday.

in much of today's culture, the 'hustle' is glorified and productivity is widely talked about on the internet, in articles, and even in courses you can purchase to make your daily schedule more so. i do want to start this off by saying that i fully believe that's it's vitally important to find a purpose(s) work hard, and find fulfillment in what we do - however, like anything else, we can overdo, and actually misinterpret what this actually means.

yesterday, instead of checking off tasks at my desk, i spent the day out with my mom and sister. we went to the mall, ate sushi, and had loads of good conversation and lots of fun. it was a great reminder that, though my creative work is a massive part of my universe, and something that has helped to shape me, it's not the defining factor of who i am as a being and it's not the source from which i derive all my happiness.

i talked about this once in a video, but it can be so easy to fall into the trap of 'when i can do this, then i'll be happy.' even now, i sometimes catch myself relying on my own efforts to produce happiness.

"If I write what I want to write today, then I'll be happy..." 

but science shows that happiness really needs to come first - and i've experienced this first hand in my own life.

“When we are happy—when our mindset and mood are positive—we are smarter, more motivated, and thus more successful. Happiness is the center, and success revolves around it.” – Shawn Achor

we create well from a happy heart. we don't create well from a burned out point of departure where we are desperately clinging to our work, hoping it will bring us happiness. then if/when it doesn't, we find ourselves even deeper in despair - and somewhat angry at our art for not fixing everything. (haha)

see to me, my art and everything else i do is structure. structure is great. like the literal meaning of the word, structure helps give us a foundation to build, to create, and to give ourselves a healthy, beautiful space where we can live and work and play every day. It means that we're pursuing goals and dreams, and actively working on our things whenever we can. and yes, we are finding fulfillment from doing this, but we're not relying upon it alone to provide us with happiness.

things like rising early, meditating, scheduling or planning, doing yoga or some other form of relaxing exercise, creating a morning or daily routine, are all great indicators that you've created a structure of some kind to help you live and work more creatively.

but...i think in today's world of 'hustle' it can be easy to mistake structure for rigidity.

being rigid means you lack the ability to move and bend with the ebb and flow of life. it means you have a structure and you've worked hard to build it, but if a high wind hits? look out below. if you find yourself saying 'no' to all else but things strictly related to work, it might be a sign that you've surpassed having a healthy structure, and you've become rigid.

life isn't just about work, even creative work. if you have work that you love - awesome. me too. but it's so, so important not to get so tied up in what we do that we more closely associate with what we put out than with what already dwells inside of us.

sometimes we need to skip a blog post and go eat sushi with people we love.

if you find yourself saying 'no' too often to things that actually fill your heart and bring your happiness? that's going to hurt your creativity in the long run. happiness must come first...and from there we can create what our heart desires. it's just like carb-loading before a run, or filling your car with gas before a road trip: you need fuel. you can't run on empty.

create structure, but build it so that it can bend with the wind, move with the ebb and flow of life. if you enjoy planning and scheduling and working on your projects every day? power to you! keep doing what you're doing. but as you continue to build and grow, make sure your schedule is flexible enough to include happiness, hope, joy, and the things and people who make your heart hum - who actually inspire you to create.

i'll keep this one shorter today, sweet friend. ♥ i hope you have a beautiful rest of your week, and a lovely 4th of July if you're in the usa. keep creating, keep dreaming...

and stay stoked!

dear mind

dear mind,

it's been awhile. it's hard to get a message through to you; you're so busy all the time, and you speak so freely and boldly. but there are a few things we need to talk about - some things we often seem to disagree on.

i know you like to constantly be going, going, going, but sometimes i feel like you think of me as a machine. i'm not. not at all. no, i'm arms and legs and a torso - a face with lips, eyes, a nose, freckles. i can see and hear and touch and feel. i can taste. i can embrace someone. i can tell them that i love them - that i'm there for them. yes, i'm okay with getting things done, in fact i love the sense of accomplishment i feel when we're working together...but i don't always need to be doing. going. hustling.

yes, i am the voice that facilitates those beautiful words: i can, but it doesn't mean i always need to be doing something. sometimes it's okay to just be.

i've also noticed that you like to push the goalpost out even farther as soon as we reach it. that bothers me. i worked hard to get there. why can't we just stop...and enjoy it? see, you do a lot of thinking, but i'm the one who is actually down here turning your ideas and goals and dreams into tangible realities, and to be honest, i'm proud of all the work i've done.

we've been through a lot, you and i. we've seen and done so much, we make a great team. but sometimes it seems like you're constantly rearing to be off - off to the next thing, and the next. you miss how beautiful it is right here, how good it feels to have accomplished all that we have. please slow down...keep dreaming, but be here too. let's soak in the sunshine and laugh and run barefoot on the beach. let's be proud of the work we've done - that we passed that test, or that we've learned this much of a new language, or that we've been promoted. it doesn't always have to be something else or something more.

oh, and mind? this is a serious one...

please stop talking down to me.

i really don't appreciate it; in fact it hurts.

whenever you call me clumsy or awkward or stupid - it hurts. i thought i was your best friend. i thought i was the one who carried you and held you up and worked as hard as i could to make your dreams come true. i give you taste and touch and sound and sight. i've given you hands that can reach and grasp and hold on to someone you love.

please stop saying mean things. stop picking me apart piece by piece when you look in the mirror - i am a work of art, and i am your best friend.

stop comparing me to other bodies, other faces, thighs, arms, hair. i love the way i look - i love what i can do: grasping, holding, lifting, walking, running, hugging, kissing - and a million more. i am designed for greatness. and you are too, but only when we're working together. only when we're dancing in harmony.

mind, we're going to do wonderful things together. just take a deep breath and calm down. i've got your back. we're gonna make it. we're going to push through. but along the way...let's just be. let's enjoy. lets celebrate how far we've come, how much we've accomplished, and this beautiful life we're living!

mind, i love you. maybe you should start thinking that more too, when you look in the mirror. when we mess up, or misspeak, or don't do all the things...maybe instead of taking it out on me, maybe we just take a deep breath and accept that we've worked hard, given it our best, and that is enough. you are enough. i am enough.

we are enough.

when you look at me in the mirror, tell me i am enough. and that you love me.
even when we're not making anything. even if we don't feel our best. even if we made a mistake.

you are enough.
i love you.

sincerely and affectionately,
your body

let's all try to be nice to ourselves today. <3 
stay stoked,

location > destination

i'm currently preparing for a hiking trip that i've been dreaming about since i was a very young kid. my dad and i both have, and he's actually most of the reason why it's been a dream of ours for this long.

i grew up looking at this photograph of him stuck in the corner of my mom's dresser mirror. my dad and i are extremely similar, and this snapshot reflects the fact perfectly: his messy hair tied back in a bandana and another is looped around his waist. his face is tan and swathed in stubble, and his sparkling blue eyes squint into the scorching rays of arizona sunlight. he stands with his hands on the hips of his ripped jeans; the vast expanse of the rusty red grand canyon sprawling behind him like a panoramic work of art.

i grew up listening to dinnertime stories of dad's hike down into the canyon and out again with a group of friends. rim to rim. 

my dad's hiking stories are extensive and badass, and they quickly became benchmarks of things i not only wanted to do, but needed to do; experiences I longed for - ones I knew would would help me to grow, challenge myself, learn, and greater relish the natural beauty of the world we live in. my dad and i share this innate love for getting way out into the wild, exploring earth, climbing mountains, and doing big hikes. my thirst for adventure and willingness to try new, "crazy" things can more often than not, be traced back to my father, who raised me on long treks in the woods, walks in the rain, and hikes up the local cliffs to toss styrofoam planes into the sunset. 

it was ages ago we decided that we were going to hike grand canyon together. it was going to happen. it was a dream, a goal, something we talked about for a long time but also something that we just never seemed to get around to. until now.

we've made the decision that this will be the summer that we do it: we're hiking down into the grand canyon, spending the night at the bottom, getting up before dawn the next day, having breakfast, and hiking out. we both applied for a highly sought-after backcountry permit to do this, and i received mine only a few weeks ago - granting my dad and i full access to hike down the south kaibab trail, camp at the bottom, and hike back up bright angel the following morning. 

yes, i freaked out a little when i saw that email pop into my inbox: congratulations - you've got your backcountry permit! 

in light of all this, my mom was kind enough to track down and gift me a one best hike book breaking down every aspect of journeying through grand canyon: how to plan your descent and ascent, what to bring, what to wear, and everything in between, which includes a very zen-infused section of chapter one, that really, really made me stop and think.

the author, elizabeth wenk, takes the opportunity early on to break down the difference between a "destination hike" and a "location hike." what she had to say really impacted my thinking - and not just on the topic of hiking:

"...on a destination hike the sights along the way are overshadowed by those at the end point...on a location hike, there is something new and spectacular to see every few steps down the trail, yet no single location that is universally judged: "most beautiful."

prefacing this, she adds that she's often "disappointed" when she passes hikers who are clearly so fixated on getting to the end of the trail that they rarely look beyond the length of their hiking poles, and thus miss the best part of the hike: the actual hike itself

as i read this, i couldn't help but sit back for a moment, amazed at how much this applies to every aspect of life - but perhaps most especially to creatives and entrepreneurs.

i asked myself this question: as a i on a destination hike? racing to get another book published, then another, or hustling to have a more established readership, always looking forward, forward, forward to the illusive animal known as our often-muddled idea of "success"? i on a location hike? writing, and living fully while i do that, waking up each morning excited to write the next chapter of my story, both metaphorically and literally - enjoying each, little, wonderous step of the journey? 

am i looking only to the end game, or am i living in the present? am i "hustling" to get "somewhere"? or am i fully here, enjoying the astounding beauty of getting to be alive today, writing a book and doing what i love? 

your dream, your project, career, book, album, collection, show - what does it feel like to you: a destination hike, or a location hike?

i think in today's world it can be easy to get caught up in the frantic rush of trying to get "somewhere"...but i think more often than not, we discover in the end that we actually already were where we wanted to be in the beginning and just didn't realize what we had, or that we lost something precious along the way, in this frenzy to get ahead.

there's absolutely nothing wrong with having a dream and a goal. it's healthy and good to have one, and i know i certainly have a lot of them. but to have a focus only for the end goal can tunnel our vision and blind us to the astounding beauty all around us, right here in the present moment.

with every step we take, every page we write, song we sing, photograph we capture, artwork we create, there is something new and beautiful waiting for us to just stop...look up...and open our eyes. we are location hiking...success isn't waiting for us at the end of the trail, it's right here in front of us.

success isn't something that's always jumping just out of reach, waiting for us beyond some unseen finish line in the distance. true success is waking up every morning and living the life you were meant to live...and making the world a more bright, beautiful place because of it.

i'll wrap this up now, this blog post is already getting too long, but if i could encourage you in one thing, it would be to...stop. 

take a deep breath. and just literally look around you.

seriously, lean back in your chair and just...look.

look at the room around you.
look down at yourself, your sacred, precious body, so capable and full of potential to do anything you can dream of.
take another deep, deep breath...feel your lungs fill with air. that's life.
that's a gift. 

true success lies in that you are here, now. and you have a purpose. and you can be aware of that purpose, and live that purpose, and enjoy that purpose, every single day in a million ways.

we are location hikers. 
stop and soak in the view.

stay stoked, my friend.