Colorado River Grand Canyon

Colorado River Grand Canyon
Majesty, Grand Canyon- Bright Angel Trail


Sunday, May 7, 2017

When You Are Missing Home

I never thought I would miss home this much. I am completely homesick and I cannot seem to get it out of my mind. I constantly imagine how things are going back home, I wonder how my friends are doing in their careers, I wonder what's new within my city, I miss the food, and I haven't hugged my mom in over 5 months- and most likely will not get to for at least another 10 months. I am completely out of my element and it is difficult to focus on things I love to do- like traveling and writing.

The homesickness is causing a slight depression and I have been in a little down funk for a few weeks now. I am trying to stay as focused as possible, but often times, I revert back to thinking about things I cannot control. I have been doing so well with meditation, working out, journaling, positive affirmations, doing things I love to do, but I would just really like to chow down on an OG 24 wrap from Longboards, or go grill out before a Royal's game, or ride the street car around and hit up a First Friday's.

I know some people back home will just say I am not missing very much, but it's easier to feel like I am when I am 4000+ miles away. People are getting married, doing well in their careers, moving along in life. Don't get me wrong, I love the traveling bit and seeing parts of the world I probably never would have if I didn't take this opportunity, but I have come to realize the type of person I am in these past 5 months. I have grown a lot already, and have a lot of room for more improvement, but I also want to be able to grow relationships I have with friends and family- the art of accomplishing both is in the balancing act.

I seem to always focus on things I don't have, instead of things I do, which is something I have been attempting to change. I write down things I am grateful for, I remind myself how lucky I am, I try to smile when I really don't want to because I have way more to smile for than I have to frown about.

While writing this, I have had an epiphany. All of these negative and sad emotions I have been having are for a reason. I clearly miss where I am from and everything it provides. I have left my heart in KC and I will be back one day, but that day is not today, nor tomorrow. I can either sulk in the fact I am missing home, or I can use this time as opportunity for growth. I can remain down and bitter and let my homesickness spiral me down to the point of making very poor decisions, or I can continue to learn and progress and smash some life goals of mine. Without self awareness, the former would be the easier path in the short term, but long term it would destroy my psyche, and ain't nobody got time for dat.

Here are some things you can focus on if you are ever feeling homesick:

1. Yourself: We all have goals and plans for our lives, never forget them. Focus on them and why you are away from home. It is for a reason. You might not always feel like working on your goals due to feeling down, but building the momentum and continuing to focus on your goals will allow you to work your way out of the funk you are in.

2. Writing and meditation: You all know I am a big fan of these two and I will push them to the day I die. They help your mind relax by clearing itself, and then you can relax and have less anxiety about any given situation. For example, I already feel slightly better just because I am putting built up thoughts on paper and sharing it with you. You don't write? Try painting, drawing, playing an instrument, or anything that will allow you put some emotional expression on paper.

3. Let your emotions out when they happen: This one is mainly for my fella's out there. Don't hold back your emotions for some macho reason. That is plain dumb. If you are feeling sad, cry. Let it out. Don't feel like crying but you are sad? Watch a sad really sad movie alone and let the water works flow. It really can help you overcome anything you are uneasy about. Oh, and here's more on why you should cry instead of repressing emotions:

4. Break a sweat: Get in the gym and workout. Or just walk somewhere for a while. Release some endorphins and your body will help relax your mind for you.

5. Talk. To. People: Even introverts are social beings. You have someone who cares about you. Talk to them. If you think no one cares about you, talk to a stranger and share some common interests and if you get into a deeper conversation then share how you miss home, they could potentially have some insight into your situation. Just don't do it in a weird uncontrollable way. Talk to family back home- mainly so when you tell them you are homesick, they can tell you that you aren't missing anything and you can be reassured of your decision.

6. Cut out the stimulants for a bit: The alcohol, caffeine, drugs, social media, etc., it is all changing the way your brain functions and how your mind views things. You may feel great while doing it and you are no longer homesick at the time, but it is a roller coaster for your emotions and will only perpetuate the period of feeling down. Or you know, just stay perpetually drunk and you will be just fine as well!

All of these are things I am attempting to do while feeling this period of homesickness. I understand it is a phase and it will pass, but I also need to understand it is happening for a reason. I miss you and love you KC and I will be home soon, but I have some things to accomplish first.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Ireland in a Wee Nutshell

My love for Ireland:

Imagine you are a wee lad, or lass, waking up on Christmas Day. You are greeted with your ultimate favorite breakfast that contains eggs, hash browns, french toast (on texas toast) with fruit, homemade waffles, pancakes, and maple bacon. Then you look under the tree and you notice 5x the amount of gifts than you asked for. You start opening them and realize they're everything you asked for and more! We are talking the original game that was requested and every expansion pack you could imagine. Every video game system. Every movie you've ever liked. All the candy you love. Also, there are things you can use for hobbies you will develop into the near and distant future. You have enough stuff to play with and keep you entertained for several lifetimes. When you finish unwrapping, you realize you have so many toys and you don't know where to start. You also realize you probably don't have enough time as a kid to play with all of your toys, and that is the only frustrating thing you notice about the day, then you spend the rest of the week playing with one awesome new toy and it's the best week ever.

Sheep and Hiking
You could say, that me in Ireland is the equivalent to Charlie in the chocolate factory, only the chocolate factory is filled with great scenes, beautiful women with wonderful banter and great accents, delicious beer, and sweet castles.

That is how I feel about Ireland.

Ireland is something else. Something beyond words. It is a mystical feeling of eternal bliss. Happiness is a not a wave to be ridden, but instead a tsunami that floods the entire land. I always longed to go back after my first appearance in 2015, after returning in 2017, I have solidified my visceral love for the Emerald Isle. One need not ask why, instead just go see for yourself.

A few things to note about Ireland:

1. The people are beyond amazing:

Go to a pub, sit down, wait. Eventually you will run into an Irishman or they will bump into you. You will begin talking about anything. They don't mind small talk, or jumping into a deep political discussion about the current state. You may get into a conversation about how funny each other's accents are, or why Ireland uses counties and not States like the USA. Although, anywhere you go, you will get some assholes who just don't want you to be there. I have heard a few of my friends say that while they were there, an Irish local (clearly intoxicated) said something rude do to the fact that they were American. I have yet to run into an experience like this yet and I have talked to countless Irish locals. My experience is that they want to be your friend, and they truly have the "gift of gab"*. Most of them want to help you find your way if you look the least bit lost. They will ask where you're from and will most likely know one small fact about it (I met a pair of Irish lads who asked where I was from and then they laughed at me and said they couldn't point out "Missooouuri" on a map, this made me laugh as well). They have a banter about their conversations that is hard to keep up with if you get offended easily because they are witty, but they go about it in a suave way that will have you laughing when they make fun of you. It is quite a gift.

(*The Gift of Gab is a folktale. It is believed you will be blessed with the "gift of gab" if you kiss the Blarney Stone... Or it was made up to attract unknowing tourists to come and spend their money. This is one of the most visited attractions in Ireland, they have done a good job on marketing!)

2. Only 10% of Irish locals live in Dublin:

Dawn in Cork, Ireland
Dublin is essentially a tourist destination for partying. I was talking to a middle aged guy named Steven from Limerick and he said that very few local Irish people live in Dublin. If they are Irish, they are most likely just students, but most Irish people have moved, or live in other major cities. Steven also said that if he sees Irish people drinking Guinness, then he assumes they're from Dublin (take this for what you will lol). I definitely recommend exploring Dublin because it is an awesome little city. There is lots of history, the Guinness experience, the Jameson distillery, and plenty of pubs for you to get lost in, but if you want to be engulfed in some true Irish culture, then venture on!

Hiking Through the Gap of Dunloe
3. And venture on you must!:

There is so much to explore in Ireland, it is hard to say any one thing is better than the other because it is all extremely beautiful. In no particular order:

The Ring of Kerry in Killarney: This is a scenic drive around the Southwest coast of Ireland that has many stops along the way which provide amazing views and local culture to see. This is a must.

Killarney National Park: Holds their tallest mountain: Carrauntoohil, the Ross Castle, and Muckross Lake, and you can begin or end the Ring of Kerry here.
Kylemore Abbey

Connemara National Park: A beautiful hilly park in western Ireland which has a stunning view at the top of Diamond Hill that overlooks Letterfrack and the Atlantic ocean. The Kylemore Abbey is on the outside of Connemara.

Just a small piece of awesome in Connemara National Park
The Cliffs of Moher: If there was a geologic location that metaphorically embodies the country of Ireland, it is the Cliffs. This place is another must see. Try to go on a day with limited fog, otherwise you will get unlucky and only be able to see 20 feet in front of you.

Errigal Mountain, Aasleagh Falls, Giant's Causeway, Aran Islands, Bog Lake, Poulnabourne Dolmen, Beara Peninsula, the list goes on!

Ireland is an outdoors lover's dream. If you like to explore, you will never be disappointed with the plethora of adventure options in Ireland. You may get tired of the rain, which usually moves in and out several times throughout the day. But, you will remember this rain gives the Emerald Isle it's name and is most likely the reason people are in phenomenal moods when the sun is shining! Ireland is a great destination for anyone to visit at least once in their lives, but if you're anything like me, there isn't enough time left to fully enjoy the entire country. Adventure on!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Key to (MY) Happiness

I'm going to let you in on a little secret I have discovered in the past few years. (Let's say I came to this realization on October 8th, 2014.. Yeah, that sounds good). It's been working for me. It may not work for you, but I'll tell you it definitely will not hurt you to try it. And try you will have to! This practice takes some effort on your part, so if you aren't serious about it, then you can continue on your path and hope one day you don't look back and wonder if you should have tried this. It's an age old practice: The key to happiness you are searching for is within you. Hear me out.

Your subconscious mind is a very malleable and delicate sponge that absorbs everything you've ever consumed. Every article of information, every song, every good or bad word, every movie scene, every act of violence or benevolence witnessed, every advertisement. Everything! You conscious mind isn't aware of this happening and simply writes things off most of the time. Now over time, your mind has been formed by external factors you have had no control over. This can create loads of problems: Anxiety, depression, self-doubt, lack of confidence, apathy, hate, disgust, masochism, bad habits, etc. Majority of people will display and project happiness on the surface but their minds are going haywire or they develop these masochistic tendencies to cope with these external factors that bring them down (I have been here). The habits cover up the underlying problem for the time being but it is merely like adding fuel to the perpetual flame.

Enough with fear mongering, what about the good news? There is plenty! This is exactly where you start. At first this will be uncomfortable and you will want to relapse on the negativity your mind has allowed to curate through external factors but remember your mind is completely malleable and it takes persistence and repetition to change it for the better. Like any great thing, this will take effort and work and this is why majority of people simply let the negativity happen to them. Imagine that, because a few years ago I really could not imagine that, I thought happiness would just happen. But as time went on, it didn't. Things just get worse until you tell your mind you have had enough and you want change (and mean it). I will lay out a few tips that have worked and continue to work for me. You will need to start slow, and as you gain momentum, you can increase how often you do these things.

1. Sit down and think of your life goals and how you want to get there:

 This is tip 1 for a reason, without a plan, how can you expect to get to your destination? Through going with the flow and wandering aimlessly? Get real. If I had been mature and honest with myself to implement this at the age of 20, I'd be further ahead than I am now, but you can start today! Focus on goals for the roles in your life: Family member, employee, friend, spouse, business owner, parent, community organizer, etc. Determine where you see yourself going with those (and why), and how you will get there.

2. Be Proactive:

Your mind wants to be productive (in good ways and bad). By staying active and forcing yourself to start doing any good habit, you will develop new synapses that induce learning capabilities. You will feel discomfort at first but refer back to your goals as often as possible and remind yourself WHY you're making a change. It's easy to go back on a good habit when you don't have an important 'why' clearly stated.

3. Meditate:

I used to think people who practiced meditation were cuckoo. I never understood it or why they did it. Even though I've always over analyzed every situation in my life. Then one day I tried it, thought it was dumb. After reading more about it, I decided to do it more and stick with it. It has had a phenomenal effect. My mind is more clear for when I need to focus on anything important. I am less anxious. I am present. I am more calm in tense situations. It is relaxing! Frankly, I am happier too. Start with this: Download an app (free); (Headspace is where I started), follow the simple instructions, but remember the only goal is to not focus on thoughts, but focus on the moment (your breath, the sounds around you, your body, physical feelings) instead. It will get easier with practice. By doing this, you get your wandering mind a break from over thinking and over analyzing and it will love you for it.

4. Write, read, feed:

Start a journal, get your thoughts out on paper so they don't build inside your mind. How else do you expect to know what you did yesterday so you can improve upon it today? If you are like me at all, you don't share as much personal info about yourself to others (even though you know you should), so the next best thing is writing your thoughts down to let them out. Read as much as possible. By feeding your mind you gain knowledge and put your thoughts to work on things other than negativity or being unproductive. Feed; basically you need to eat better. It is so easy to eat poorly and consume the addictive sugar and caffeine. Your mind believes it needs the poor nutrition items thanks to negative advertisement telling it to consume them since you were a child. Of course, it is okay to indulge periodically, but moderation is key.

5. Be conscious of your habits:

It is very easy to simply let your habits rule you instead of the other way around. Simply by being aware of what you are doing will help you make some changes for the better.

6. Indulge in healthy things you love:

Exercise, hike, outdoors, nature, take pictures (not too many selfies), sports, socializing, eat healthy, seeing family and friends, traveling, learning, reading, writing, meditating, creating, talking, fishing. All good things!

7. Perform positive affirmations:

Last but not least. This is key. Your mind has been bombarded by negativity and it will perpetuate what it is told if not stopped by you. Write down and say out loud positive affirmations daily/weekly. Things like "I am a strong individual who will succeed in my goals", "I am mentally and physically healthy and happy", or what you envision yourself to be. Within reason, you are only as strong as your worst thoughts. Whether you believe you can or can't, you are right! Saying positive affirmations will help instill a positive mindset and change your subconscious mind to help you curate a life you want to live. This step is incredibly important for internal harmony. If nothing else, at least try this one every day that you remember to do so.


I am still developing new good habits and I've realized how easy it is to not try and become a better person. Lethargy is easy, but is it worth it in the long run? I know I don't want to look back and have more "I wish I had" regrets than "I'm glad I did" statements. Now I don't guarantee happiness for anyone. But by taking a few consistent steps in a positive direction and balancing out the negative, you can certainly guarantee yourself you will feel better. It will not happen overnight and it will take time. Just start slow and consistent and you will see major strides. You might even have more fun focusing on developing than you ever thought you could.

One last thing. When you start this, you will immediately notice people telling you that you've changed or something is wrong with you. They will notice you are being more positive and trying to line your life up in a way that best suits your goals and they may distance themselves from you or project their problems onto you. Ignore this, or inform them on what you are actually doing if you really care about them. You need to find like-minded people who think like you and by simply thinking more positively, you will attract those people into your life and you flush out those who are not. Once you think more positively, you will truly wish the best for everyone, even if they do not wish the same for you. Good luck! I believe in you.