I crave inspiration in the morning as much as a good cup of coffee. This a mix of that.
There’s this bucket.
It has been filled with your life experiences, decisions, opportunities taken and missed. It defines you.
Some say you’re half-full; others, half-empty.
But this isn’t about how much you have. It’s about how much you want, how much you dream of, how much you strive for.
Sometimes, life has a way of surprising us. It throws everything we know overboard, like tipping the bucket over, spilling our ideas and thoughts and beliefs all over the place. We can’t put the water back in our bucket and the change has happened. Sometimes, we lose.
So, who are you?
Do you complain about the spill and blame the nearest passerby?
Do you try helplessly to return the water to the bucket?
Or do you see an empty bucket, ready to be refilled with all the lovely things this world has to offer?
Open your mind. Love change.
Fill yourself with love.
Isn’t it awful how we forget that it’s okay to slow down sometimes?
I’ve been caught up in speed, in doing this and that and trying to save the world. But today, I burned through the hours walking along the beach and drowned several forgetful gallons driving along the beach strip by sunset. A waste? Not one bit.
I couldn’t help but reflect on the earlier get-together with several friends I hadn’t seen in two years. The best part about it? The hugs, actions that show how people care. Which is why I’d say the best thing in life is a tight hug. Think about it: both people stop to embrace, their world’s only axis. The tighter you hug the more you show how you care (those weak side-hugs don’t make anyone’s day) … You have to stop to care about someone, this shows. Put down the work, put away the phone, and wrap all of your attention in the person you care about the most. If we’re all too caught up, hectic as ever, how can we ever slow down to say what matters most, to catch the people that matter most?
What if we lived in a world where people cared about how many hugs they gave than the dollars they spent? What if we stopped to offer the hug that could change a day, that could save a life? Hugs may not cure the global-scale wars, but they could sure do something about the day-to-day wars we each fight inside.
Careen into someone and give them an unforgettable hug. You’ll be glad you did.
Carpe Diem Coffee has gone weeks without proper care. I’m sorry. I am still crossing off things in my one hundred little things in 2012, though. My happiness project is somewhat bumbling along, too.
There’s my seven classes, job at the library (and soon umpiring softball), the honors program, Toastmasters, Sigma Tau Gamma, Habitat for Humanity, Circle K international, Ballroom Dance, and residency with the Leadership Journey Learning Community. Not only that, but I would love to see what Haitians&Friends, Niner Media, and TOMS are all about, too.
But I’m human. I am not perfect nor will I ever achieve perfection. I’m not even trying to sound boastful or snobbish by presenting that list. I just can’t seem to pick between things. I love what the organizations stand for and the people invested in them. I love this campus and community and all the various things that just sprout up out of nowhere during the day. I want to invest my all into them too, yet I only have twenty-four hours. I love Charlotte, but I’m not superman.
First, what I’ve realized (some are universal; others, personal):
I overextend to find out what matters. One tough week is better than sixteen. I’d rather be enjoying the day than drowning my time. If you don’t have twenty minutes for coffee with a friend, then you’re too busy. Be busy for the things that matter most to you. Throw your heart and soul into them. Investing deeply into something rather than spreading out over several will have a far greater impact on your life.
"Try everything. Repeat what you love." … Notice it says "love," not "like." If it was the only thing on your plate, would you be doing it? Compare. Contrast. Be ruthless about your schedule. "Slash and burn," as Orwell would say, "slash and burn."
So what am I doing? Cutting back until I can have time to read again. The weather’s been too gorgeous lately to be busy.
I have a thing for parallel lines. I love it when speakers or authors share a story that parallels life. The best ones cut us to our core… they break us; they leave us shattered with a new light.
Something similar happened at the Toastmasters Leadership Institute for Western Carolina, District 37. The youngest toastmaster in attendance, I knew this was an event I could learn more than just club interactivity and success. The first morning session, “Moments of Truth,” hit me in waves. Mathew Andrews talked about all the ways we, as officers of our clubs, could improve in so many ways that, no matter who sees us and when, we exemplified our mission statement. As the day’s young gun, I got picked on a lot, which included the PowerPoint reading and volunteer activities… I read the mission statement aloud:
The mission of a Toastmasters club is to provide a mutually supportive and positive learning environment in which every individual member has the opportunity to develop oral communication and leadership skills, which in turn foster self-confidence and personal growth.
Toastmasters aside, shouldn’t this be the mission statement for any organization, or group of people? There is no wrong in a supportive atmosphere that generates leaders, speakers, and most importantly, confidence. This is why Toastmasters is my sole club commitment. It stands for so much other than yourself, while building you up nonetheless.
As Mathew continued, his examples and stories began to say more about life than toastmasters. He loved to interject everything with questions. Every thirty seconds brought about a question that challenged me. At one point I couldn’t handle all the questioning; I was scared to answer some of questions. I wanted him to say something. He wasted no time:
If you’re looking for someone, it’s you.
This made me numb. I’ve been thinking about this all weekend. Lately, in my life, I’ve been so concerned with the outside that I forgot this realization. One of my favorite books, Heart of Darkness, in far rougher fashion, said it similarly: ‘we live as we dream, alone.' Although Life is indeed more joyful with others, it's even greater when you take care of yourself first.
Sometimes the hardest thing to do is be yourself. You crave the outside or you hide from it. But sometimes the hardest things in life are the greatest… and the greatest thing you can do for others is to be your most authentic self. Imagine that, a world where everyone realized their own potential. Terence Turner, my leadership instructor, said it best, “People will benefit from you being the best leader you can be."
Stop comparing yourself to others. Quit dreading loneliness. Don’t hide your quirks. Embrace the things you don’t know and march to your own drum. The world benefits from you being you. Don’t be afraid to look silly or make mistakes. Be you in everything you do. If you don’t want to go, don’t go. If someone is bringing you down, avoid them. Life is a lot simpler than we make it seem. Everyone would win if everyone fought their own battles. Work on your self-betterment and it will rub off on those around you. Your greatest makes other great. As someone once wrote in my birthday card,
Your light shines further than you think.
At the end of the day, it’s you. Do your daily activities reflect you and everything you stand for? If not, you better get started. The world’s waiting for you.
It’s a few days into the new year, but not much has changed. I still wake up with einstein-like hair, I still can’t find my headphones, I still wake up on empty. I teeter into the kitchen one morning, energy flickering like a broken street light. The reserves help me maintain one primal focus: make. coffee.
As the morning routine goes along, my dad’s words for the New Year revist:
Take a deep breath, here we go
This is exactly how it should be, I thought. At rest.
In the past, right before an upcoming semester, big project — any hopeful storm of sorts — we’d like to think of me as the hanging wheel. As the pavement drew closer, our wheels would spin faster. They’d spin and spin ever faster, ever closer… abouttohitthepavement-closer. But with such an extended break, I’ve learned that the spinning’s all wrong. It’s unnecessary anxiety. This time, my wheels aren’t spinning. These wheels hold a quiet confidence, at rest.
The pavement of the semester draws near. Emails start chirping. The little, carnivorous things-to-do begin to pile up. The lists get lengthier. Past experience wants to create a frenzy before it’s even time to go. But what do I do? Open the blinds, read There But For The, pour another cup of coffee. I’ll be able to tackle everything in front of me when I start. The wheels will start soon enough.
But that’s the hang-up: to even start. Momentum comes from movement. When you have to get going, when the pavement’s arrived: don’t mind everything you have to do, just mind one thing at a time and start. It seems as if there’s this tremendous roadblock to all these resolutions, goals, ideas, tasks, and opportunities, but there really isn’t. The people you see living their lives to the fullest just started. It’s that simple: relax, then start.
Whichever your speed you prefer, get moving.
I’m not worried about the future; the semester will come and I’ll go. I’ve taken my rest and the key’s at the ready. Embrace the uncertainty of where this roadtrip will take you. No one knows where you’re headed, how it’s going to be at the end, or what you’ll encounter along the way — and that’s okay, just go.
Nothing’s stopping you. Take one deep breath and turn the key. Start something
photo credit goes to mitchkramez of flickr
Funny how the end of something sparks the beginning of something else.
Borders was closing. I visited on its last breath of days eager to pile on 60%-off-plus books and return home with a four-course meal of literature. Although the bookworm inside of me hated losing Borders, it prized this opportunity.
The sharks beat me there, though. A lot of the books I was looking for at the time were long gone. The shelves were bones picked clean. I slowly walked around for signs of life when a book caught my eye, lying alone near the psychology section. It was out of its place, but Chris Guillebeau’s The Art of Non-Conformity was heavily discounted, six bucks. Incredibly rich on the power of the passionate individual, the book kept me glued the whole evening until the clerk told me that they had closed. I bought the book and haven’t been the same since.
I wanted to start up a grand project, and my passion was ignited to do some of the things Chris recommended, “in order to change the world,” like a blog. But after that summer, I dismissed the endeavor to learn how things operated my first semester at UNC Charlotte. You know the common excuse: “to focus on school.” Well, the semester progressed and I had done a lot: volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity; public speaking with Toastmasters; volunteer work at Life is good’s Festival in Boston; Mercy Ministries 5k; several road trips and adventures… plenty more. But the longer the semester rolled on, the more I felt like I was missing something.
What was I missing? I visited Chapel Hill for a transfer session to see if it was school-related, but that didn’t feel right. I then applied to the University Honors Program based on the thought, “maybe I just need more of a challenge," and we’ll see how that turns out. I aced all my courses and wound up on the Chancellor’s List, and that was nice, but as one advisor told me, "a 4.0 won’t fill you up; learning will." What had I learned? Architecture, leadership, group interaction, calculus, and some more English. A lot, but was the answer just to throw myself into my coursework? Something doesn’t feel right.
While I’ve been on break, I’ve looked over the archives of my year-old tumblr, runpineapplerun, a fun place where I vented and expressed myself through reblogged pictures. A lot of my followers liked it for its inspiring qualities, and so I figured I would channel that specifically, here.
Carpe Diem Coffee is exactly what it is: a dose of inspiration in the morning. I write by sunrise, so you’ll usually enjoy my posts bright ‘n early. You’ll have your cup of inspiration weekly, at the very least. This is what I like to do: shares stories and perspectives and writing to help.
Feel to get to know me. Look at some of the projects I’ll be working on. Be sure to visit, too.
Enjoy your coffee, and seize the day.