Castle in the sky

intuitionGoose bumps. Chills. Tears. Unbridled smiles and laughter. These are the external manifestations of past experiences that have inspired my fingertips to dance over a keyboard and share my story. Without any physical evidence or immediate cognition, a different force is at play in the creation of the thoughts that follow. Intuition. It is a sacred gift that often remains sealed in our own personal rendition of Pandora’s box. A seemingly innocent decision to dismiss the voice from within, its guidance remains untapped and its power is relinquished to the influence of the rational mind.

My childhood was played out in a house sitting on a half acre of land. My imagination overflowed with the most creative uses of this space. On one day, it was a medieval village requiring protection from the attack of invaders to the north. And on other days, it was the stadium where the seventh game of the World Series hung in the balance. There was one use of this space, however, that was never in my deck of cards. A tree house. We didn’t have a tree on our property that could entertain the grand plans set forth by the likes of Alfalfa and The Little Rascals. I don’t ever distinctly remember desiring a tree house. Looking back, however, I wonder if this wish was buried deep in the recesses of my mind. For, what I do remember is gathering up all the blankets, sheets, clothespins, and sufficiently tall chairs to conjure up my own secret fort.

Confined to the indoors on rainy days, bar stools were placed in just the right location. Bed linens were carefully measured and spread clear across the room forming the impenetrable roof to my fortress. The clothespins, holding adjacent blankets together, served as the basis of my unassailable security system. Within those walls, magic was present. Secret meetings were held (subjects which I am not at the liberty to discuss). There were no adults. There was no rain outside. There was only opportunity. I was in my own world of imagination where anything was possible.

creative-mindSomewhere along my path to adulthood, the desire to build these private hideaways waned along with my sense of imagination and creativity. It was replaced by a sense of responsibility, a firm resolve to find my place in the world, to become a well-functioning and useful member of society. It is paradoxical that I abandoned the very elements that would allow me to do just that. Sometimes, however, the universe is gracious enough to send us suggestive whispers that rekindle the flame of imagination and infinite possibility from our childhood. In the quiet flap of a butterfly’s wings, in the colorful hues of the setting sun, in the recollection of special childhood memories that have been suppressed by the adult mind.

That breath of inspiration spoke to me most recently through the work of Pete Nelson, host of the television show Treehouse Masters on Animal Planet. As stated in his bio, Pete strives to create private escapes for those with a passion to reconnect with nature and awaken their inner child, one tree at a time. The enthusiasm and dedication to his mission is clearly evident in his personality and creative energy. The show captivated me. It grabbed hold of my attention for several consecutive hours. As I watched, my childhood passions began to emerge from the depths. Each episode served to fan that flame of imagination and creativity with a bit more intensity, revealing what was truly important at my core.

Along our journey, we spend too much time looking in the rear view mirror or far out into the distance. Too often, we neglect to appreciate the here and now. Like, right now. As I write these words, I welcome the pleasure, the bliss, the inner peace, the quiet exhilaration that comes with sharing my thoughts through the written word. Like a carefully choreographed ballet in a ballroom, my thoughts dance between the words chosen on this page. This is me. This is who I am.

I have repressed this yearning in the name of conformity and societal obedience. However, it is in this form of self-expression that I come alive. And what the world needs more than anything is more people who have come alive.

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them. ~Henry David Thoreau

tree-house-retreatNestled in the supportive limbs of a towering hardwood, this humble castle reminds me of a breeding place for ideas and daydreams from long ago. Suspended between the solid ground of the earth below and the limitless possibility of the sky above, it is symbolic of the transition between superficial glimpses of reality and our vision of what could be.

Find your personal sanctuary, your own secret fort. Whether you find it in a canopy of trees, on a lagoon in a kayak, or burrowed beneath a carefully arranged set of sheets and blankets, visit it often. Give yourself permission to rest and listen. Deeply. In the moments of silence between your thoughts, intuition speaks. Welcome the voice that whispers to you. Whether it presents itself through a tangible experience or a deeply entrenched gut feeling, embrace it. Allow your dream to take flight and build a foundation beneath it.

Advertisement

Pay it forward

be-the-changeThe words ‘pay it forward’ are tossed around rather casually these days. As cliché as these words are, the consequences behind them are genuine and powerful.

Our family has at long last entered the 21st century. Toll roads are prevalent here in Central Florida. At traditional toll booths, real people ask for your dollar in exchange for the privilege of driving on some of Florida’s most traveled corridors.

Recently succumbing to the allure of SunPass, we are now able to avoid those long toll lines and cruise by a sensor at 70 mph. The necessary funds for the toll are automatically withdrawn from our account. Funny thing is, I sometimes miss those toll booths.

Every so often, our family would pull up to one of those booths with two dollars in our hand, one dollar for our own toll as well as one dollar for the car behind us. It felt good to perform a random act of kindness, to watch an occasional smile spread across the attendant’s face. It’s enlightening to notice that your kind acts not only affect the lives you touch directly. They also impact others who are peripherally witnessing your goodwill.

On one day, we learned that this pay it forward toll movement that was started by a single individual carried on for more than 50 cars that followed! Each person could have simply said ‘thank you’ and carried on their way. Instead, each car decided to pay it forward (or backwards, as it may be in this case) to cover the toll of the car behind them. Just the thought of this benevolence inspires me to bestow future acts of random kindness upon others.

There are people all over the world who pay it forward each and every day. Think about what our lives would be like if everyone cared only about themselves. If no acts of generosity were freely shared with others, we would occupy one bitter society. It is those who pay it forward that add a spring to our step and restore our faith in humanity.

Through this blog, I have been fortunate to attract like-minded people into my virtual online sphere. These individuals have shared unique perspectives on the views expressed in my writing. They have provided inspiration of their own to make me think, laugh, act, and express myself more deeply through my words. I undertook writing as a solitary process. But, it became so much more when I was able to share it with others. When I am able to express my authentic self and have it make a difference to even one other person, the gratification of the entire writing process grows exponentially. We all want to make a difference and we all can.

versatilebloggerToday, I was nominated by a fellow writer for the versatile blogger award. This is an award given by fellow bloggers as a sign of appreciation, respect, and support for their offerings to the blogosphere. I am very touched and honored to be included as a part of this wonderful community. I have had the opportunity to meet, albeit virtually, many people over the last several months. Through their own writing, I have been inspired to express myself and live life with more energy, clarity, and conviction.

A sincere thank you to Sara at BeTheLoveOfLife who has nominated me for this award. Her blog about life, love, and the love of life is an inspiration to all those who want to cultivate fullness in mind, body, heart, and soul. If you haven’t already done so, you owe it to yourself to check out her blog at BeTheLoveOfLife.

There are an agreed upon set of rules that accompany this award. In the true spirit of paying it forward, you are asked to nominate up to 15 other bloggers to receive this award. I have chosen those blogs that have provided me with what I like to call my daily caffeine for the soul. When I sit down first thing in the morning with my cup of coffee, these bloggers have provided virtual caffeine through their words to help kick-start my day.

RandomOlio, PrincessOfTheLight, LifestyleDiva, ApartmentWife, BourbonTea, UntamedSlave, TheKneeDeepLife, ProjectLightToLife, MindfulStew, CreatriceMondial

In addition to passing this torch on to others, you are asked to share seven things that people might not know about you. Reader beware 😉

  1. After a big meal, I have a bowl of salad and a slice of bread. I don’t know why.
  2. I like the smell of new books.
  3. I love Mexican food, but I severely dislike cilantro (and beets, but that has no relevance).
  4. I have an uncanny ability to pronounce words backwards and confuse the heck out of people. Just because I can. Useless, but interesting and fun. Try it some time.
  5. I am fascinated by numbers, codes, and patterns.
  6. I didn’t own a smartphone until 9 months ago. I was afraid it would be smarter than me. As it turns out, it probably is.
  7. I was married at Disney World where dreams really do come true. I love you sunshine 😉

As one of my recent posts indicates, the four words that best define my view on life are “inspire and be inspired”. I have been inspired by the actions, thoughts, words, and feelings of my wife, my son, and my friends (both live and virtual). My wish is to reciprocate those inspiring moments, in some small way, with the intention of paying it forward.

You may be only one person in this world, but to one person at one time, you are the world. ~Anonymous

Be the world to that person. A smile given to another is a smile received in your soul.

On the write track

moment_to_memoryMemories are amazing communicators. The scent of a candle may awaken feelings of your first dance with the love of your life. A song echoing from the car next to you in traffic brings back images of cruising through the mountains, t-tops off, mooing at the cows as you pass them. Yes, these are my memories. They are not made up. Memories can teach you an astonishing amount about yourself. If you let them.

My earliest vacation memory occurred at Disney World when I was ten years old. The moments I remember about that vacation are quite peculiar. We stayed at the Polynesian Resort and we had cherry danishes every morning for breakfast. Don’t ask, I have no idea. This is what I remember. I also remember the souvenir I received on that trip. A Mickey Mouse diary. You know, the one with a cool clasp and a key the size of a safety pin. I felt supremely confident that all my thoughts and recordings were safely guarded by that imitation leather strap when in reality a single piece of duct tape would have been much more secure. It is somewhat ironic those feelings kept so closely guarded back then are now being freely shared with the world through this blog. Alas, I digress.

It was around this same time that I remember a particular homework assignment in my English class. We were each asked to craft a short story about any subject, real or fictional. When I was a youngster, I played a lot of golf. When I say a lot, I mean every day of the summer. My dad would drop me off in the morning on his way to work. He would pick me up on the way home after work. In between, I would play as much as I could and drink a countless number of iced teas to stay hydrated. On one occasion, I was fortunate to score a hole-in-one. Or so I thought. That became the subject of my writing assignment.

You see, I was led to believe that my golf ball had found the bottom of the cup in one stroke. This was based upon the wild cheers coming from the green that I could not see. When I got to the green, I found my ball six inches from the hole. No hole-in-one. But, I did hold the feeling of that elusive moment in a golfer’s life for about ten minutes. My short story was all about sharing that feeling with the most intricate detail. The smell of the grass, the rustling of the wind through the trees, my heartbeat going from monotonous to out of control in an instant. It was an amazing feeling that I wanted to share with everyone.

As incredible as that feeling was, what felt even better was going back and re-reading what I had crafted. There was something about creating a vivid picture from a blank piece of paper and my choice of words that left me inexplicably blissful.

Fast forward several years to my sophomore year in college. As an engineering major, I was required to take a certain number of non-major electives. I chose Philosophy 101. For those of you that know me personally (or can tell from my blog content), I enjoy pondering the universe. This course really resonated with me. I remember having a writing assignment that required some deep introspection. Upon completing this paper, that same blissful state washed over me again. I had taken thoughts and feelings inside me and composed a work of art on paper using only words. Unfortunately, my professor failed to agree with that assessment. After receiving a C on the assignment, the course was promptly dropped and the memories of that feeling were pushed to the back burner.

Three months ago, I created this blog out of a desire to wake up my creative side. I was in a funk. I was looking for a forum to express myself, to make some sense out of my feelings (or lack thereof), to probe different areas of my life in an effort to determine what brought meaning and purpose. Little did I know the “thing” that would bring inner peace would be writing itself. Serendipity at its best.

loudest-minds

If there was ever a quote that was custom made for me, this one by Stephen Hawking would be it. I am not forthcoming with my verbal communication. But, if you were able to peek inside my mind, there is a jumble of information moving well beyond the accepted speed limit in a somewhat reckless manner. Chaos would not be an inappropriate choice of words.

The universe has attempted to help me organize this chaos on at least two other occasions. In grade school, it sent me that euphoric feeling after completing my English assignment. In college, it tried again though its attempts were dashed by the subjective judgment of my philosophy professor. With the inception of my blog, the 3rd time was truly a charm.

I liken it to frozen water pipes in the middle of winter. Even though you turn the faucet on, you get barely a drip. However, once you light a flame under the thing that matters, those pipes thaw out and the water just flows. It’s a beautiful thing.

come-aliveI have realized that writing is my way of communicating with the world. It’s how the reckless traffic patterns in my mind have evolved into a highly efficient version of the German Autobahn. The written word is my way of making sense of my thoughts, my feelings, my experiences, my life. It’s as if there is a direct connection from my “true self” through my body, down my arm, and out of my fingertips as they press the keys and transform my thoughts into a concrete entity.

Words for me are like a magic elixir that soothe the most enraging moments, capture the most engaging ones, and allow me to share my true self in the most authentic manner possible. Just as I need to breathe, eat, and sleep to survive, I must also write. It makes me come alive.

I certainly feel like I’m on the write track.

Wake up your creative mind

playing-guitar_1600Technology seems to rule our world. If you don’t believe me, I challenge you to visit any public gathering spot and look around. I suspect that a majority of the people you observe will have their heads buried in a handheld device. Perhaps you are reading this from a tablet or smart-phone and need to lift your own head to observe the others in your shoes.

Heck, I am able to provide for my family because of the technology that exists. However, as with everything, balance is key. Too much of one thing and too little of another can often create anxiety, tension, and the propensity to sink into a proverbial rut.

It is with this observation that I start my blogging life.

I am so “left-brained” that I wonder how I don’t walk around with my head sagging to the left. Everything I seem to do focuses on the technical, logical, and analytical. It’s like there’s a big empty void on the right side of my brain yelling ‘Feed me! Feed me!’ and I have ignored its pleas until now. I am working towards balancing the equilibrium of my mind by kicking my creative side and “right-brain” into first gear (with other gears to hopefully follow).

I was reading a blog post about an American actress named Maria Bello. She was slated to become an influential human rights lawyer until she took an acting class in her junior year. Her law professor (and mentor) encouraged her to listen to her heart by stating “You serve best by doing the thing that you love most. Follow your bliss.”

Instead of trying to figure out how to monetize an activity or analyze how it may make your life different for better or worse, just live. Do more of what you love and less of what you don’t. You may be surprised at how much influence and impact you have on the people around you not to mention the influence you have on your own inner peace.

writingI’m starting this blog as a part of my “right-brained” creative self-expression. It feels therapeutic to me. I like to share my thoughts with people with the hope of providing some perspective that is useful in their own daily lives. I am picking up my guitar and playing it more because it just feels right and helps me handle the more difficult moments of the day. Simple formula, do what you love, but common sense is not always common practice. Sometimes we all need a little wake-up call to get us out of the woods and back on the path towards passionate living even if that wake-up call is from our own self.

What can you do to create more balance and positive energy in your life? Share it with us. Then, go out and do it … live your life to the fullest!