Real fiction

rosa-alchymistThe swath of overgrown grass that used to occupy this space has been reborn. Gone are the sprawling and insidious weeds, replaced by native offerings as beautiful as their names. Bottlebrush, frangipani, jasmine, heavenly bamboo, and the rose with the aptly supplied moniker Alchymist transform this corner of the world into a personal sanctuary, a safe haven for birds, squirrels, raccoons, and the occasional human dream.

Swaying to and fro on the rope hammock, he lays the book, binding creased, across his chest. Gently caressed by the late afternoon breeze, the clouds drifting by overhead tell a mesmerizing story, a tale filled with the same magic and enchantment as would be found in those mythical and ethereal kingdoms in the sky. The trancelike procession of puffiness from one horizon to the other induces a similar state of hypnosis on the observer. As eyelids succumb to the persuasions from above, a fairy tale materializes on the blank canvas of his psyche.

The scent of jasmine is replaced by freshly popped popcorn. The melodic sounds of singing birds are supplanted by the ringing of a trolley bell. As if led towards a land of promise and opportunity, the couple strolls, fingers interlocked, between the two rails that appear to converge at a point in the distance. The castle, like a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, beckons them to approach, each step bringing them closer to the magical destiny reserved for them alone.

Guided by fate, entrusting the invisible hands that lead them on the next step of their journey together, the palatial castle becomes a peripheral vision. Instead of continuing on the path traveled by so many others, the twisting stone walkway to the side invites them to enter the garden. Crossing the threshold, they are embraced by the fragrant blossoms reaching out to them from every direction. Proposals from every available suitor, the petals of each rose are welcomed with a deep inhalation. Like a kiss, eyes are closed to fully absorb the intoxicating delight of each offering.

One after the other, each bloom beseeches acceptance. As she bows to the next in line, partaking in the subtle yet pleasing aromatic offering, efflorescence emerges. The smile on her face, the twinkle in her eyes, the sensation in his heart, these winks of inspiration from somewhere far away, from somewhere deep within, makes known that this is the one. This woman, this rose, Sweetest Inspiration, will forever be married to this man’s life. Something special has just begun.

As the brilliant sunlight illuminates the back of his eyelids, he is summoned back to the world of singing birds and the scent of jasmine once again. With a relaxed and rejuvenated spirit, he ponders. We gaze to the sky and we dream. We sink ourselves into the pages of a fictional storyline to temporarily escape the bounds of reality.

hammock

Real fiction, it’s almost a recursive paradox, a contradiction within itself. But maybe, just maybe, those temporary forays into fictional lands allow us to bring those deeply felt emotions back to reality, where they belong, helping us to remember the magic that is a part of our everyday lives. Perhaps it’s a delicate infusion of fiction with reality that nurtures our own cerebral garden of thoughts and dreams. Taking pleasure in the beautiful garden surrounding him, he picks up the book from his chest, and dives into its pages for just a little bit longer.

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Puzzle pieces

who-in-the-world-am-iMy journey through the words penned on these pages has allowed me to revisit many memories from the past. Some are as recent as last week, others are decades old. The recollections come unfiltered. You can’t choose which ones arrive in your consciousness. When you search the depths of your mind, it does not discriminate. It gives you all it knows. It is a courageous journey to embark upon, uncertain of your final destination. But, it is in allowing ourselves to drift from the safety of the shoreline that we ultimately learn to sail.

There are comforts from my childhood days that conjure up feelings of warmth. The pan of lasagna my mom would faithfully prepare for my birthday each year. The games of eight ball played with my dad and grandfather on the billiards table in our family room. The cozy hearth of our fireplace, flames dancing, logs crackling on a winter afternoon. And the card table situated in the corner of the room, puzzle pieces splayed out across the surface in disarray. The different shades of water in the harbor scene, subtly different from one another, presented a challenge of epic proportions for my twelve year old self. Thirty years later, the challenge remains epic.

pinocchio-puzzleAs I break the box’s seal, my next adventure is set in motion. I deposit the nearly one thousand pieces of various sizes on the work table. The familiar scent of cardboard as I sift through the mound ushers memories from the same process carried out with much smaller and younger hands many years ago. I am seated at the desk with a view of our backyard, dividing my attention between the butterflies alighting on our plants and those of the printed variety on the puzzle pieces in front of me.

The process is so predictable, so methodical. Find all the straight-edged pieces, locate the four corners, and build the border. Work your way from the outside in, slowly assembling the pieces until the final one finds its proper place to complete the picture. It’s somewhat ironic how we construct our own lives in a similar manner. We look to build a frame that encompasses the life we wish to lead. And we slowly fill in the gaps by way of our decisions and life experiences, eventually getting to what’s inside, those elements that ultimately furnish the most important pieces of our own puzzle.

I pick up a piece that I know should fit, but it doesn’t. I randomly select another piece and place it down in a location determined by my subconscious mind. There’s no way it will fit here, says my mind. And yet, it fits perfectly. The satisfaction of grasping a piece and fitting it into its rightful place, it is surprisingly gratifying. The way the subtle curves and sharp corners nestle with the adjacent piece, fitting perfectly together to tell a little more of the story, transforming into a beautiful tapestry. Just like life.

not-in-controlAs I stare at the transition of sky from yellow to violet, I fixate on finding the piece that fits in this one particular location. It is among the several hundred pieces in front of me, I am sure of it. The more determinedly I focus, however, the more fervently the piece eludes me. Mounting frustration and imminent exasperation turn my attention to another part of the puzzle, as far away from this section as possible, as if to chastise these inanimate pieces for being so uncooperative. And in that moment of release, the piece that has been evading me is staring at me, right in front of my face. And I just have to chuckle. Life is like a puzzle without a picture on the box. And maybe it’s the uncertainty of it all that makes the adventure so incredibly endearing, piquing our curious and inquisitive minds. It’s only when we let go of control that we actually gain any semblance of it. It’s another piece of my puzzle that fits perfectly.

The gift

sweet-inspirationThe plaza rose garden in the Magic Kingdom holds a very special place in my heart. On our first visit as a couple, we strolled together as boyfriend and girlfriend through this quiet walkway in the land of magic and pixie dust. Pausing to smell the roses, I captured an image that would provide significance to my life that was incomprehensible at the time.

A little over six months later, I am now standing beside that same rose. The placard next to it reads Sweet Inspiration. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. But this rose is different. Its name has embodied the deepest feelings for the woman whose hand I now hold inside my own.

rose-gardenBuried deep inside my pocket, the five fingers on my right hand navigate every fold in search of the one item that has the power to forever change my life. As they come upon the circular band of platinum adorned with a touch of diamond, anticipation runs rampant, nerves falter, and hope abounds.

I carefully withdraw the ring while simultaneously dropping to one knee and looking up into the eyes of my belle. And in that moment, my soul is at ease. I can see my future in the twinkle of her eyes.

At a time of the year characterized by the exchange of gifts, my sweetest inspiration and her promise to stand beside me forever is the most precious gift I have ever received. On that day, something special was born. A love that transcends words and actions. A love like a rose.

weddingOver the years, our roots have been planted. Our love has grown in many directions. We have weathered many storms, some rather violent. And although every rose has its thorn, it never permits that thorn to define itself or its potential. It continues a journey to new heights in search of the sunlight that nourishes its growth.

On the birthday of Walt Disney, fourteen years ago today, I stand in the Disney Wedding Pavilion next to my best man, eyes locked on the back doors of the chapel in anticipation. With Cinderella’s castle in the background, the landscape for the story about to unfold is ethereal.

As the harp strings resonate to the tune of Beauty and the Beast, the double doors swing open. As my beautiful bride begins her walk towards me over a blanket of freshly laid roses, a wave of emotion washes over me. I am consumed with a love so intense that words fail me. The tears streaming down my cheeks capture the authentic and uninhibited feelings of that very moment.

I have found myself wandering aimlessly in the darkness on many occasions since that day. And despite the fact that I often retreat to my cave in solitude, she is always there, my sweetest inspiration, my sunshine on a cloudy day. Her unconditional and selfless love is an inspiration. To the students she has taught, to the friends as close as family, to the son who adores her, to the husband who seldom expresses his deepest and truest feelings for her.

As we walk from the Wedding Pavilion towards the Grand Floridian, a young girl sees my beautiful bride beside me and exclaims, “Look mommy, it’s Cinderella!” Even today, I smile every time I recall this moment. It reminds me that fairy tales do come true. Happy anniversary sunshine. Thank you for being my fairy tale dream come true. I love you forever and always, plus infinity, plus one.

 

Mahna mahna

mahna-mahnaThe most sophisticated people I know – inside they are all children. ~Jim Henson

We all get consumed by our responsibilities as adults. We commute to work each day like obedient herds of cattle. We put forth our best efforts to improve our lives and the lives of those around us. We dress in our best clothes. We outfit ourselves with the best attitude we can muster. Coffee sometimes helps. It’s easy to get lost in this world of regulations, procedures, and unwritten rules of modern society. Sometimes, we need to break free. With wild abandon.

Beneath all these imposed expectations, buried deep inside is your true self, your inner child, just waiting to bust out. Wild orange hair, furry green tunic and all.

I recently volunteered to serve as coach for a Lego robotics team in our community. The team consists of five boys between the ages of ten and twelve. The program is sponsored by the FIRST organization (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). Among other things, the team is responsible for designing and programming a robot to achieve certain mission objectives. It fosters creative thinking, teamwork, and problem solving within the realm of science and technology.

My role as coach is to administer guidance. The team does all the research, brainstorming, and design. I am simply there to provide course correction if I see them going off on a tangent. I help to educate them on the thought processes involved so they are better able to achieve the goals set forth as a team. The funny thing is, last night they taught me something instead of the other way around. That seems to be occurring much more often the longer I hang around with kids 😉 I like that.

As our team was nearing the completion of another mission objective, various anomalies with their robot design and programming were preventing them from claiming victory. Frustration was beginning to set in and it was showing. And then something happened. One of the boys grabbed the wireless mouse and covertly snuck it into his pocket. As the other boys were attempting to revise the code in their program, the mouse pointer mysteriously and unexpectedly began to take on a life of its own as it danced across the screen.

The devilish grin on the mouse-wielding thief gave it away shortly thereafter. However, in that moment of pure youthfulness, the entire atmosphere morphed from one of frustration to one of carefree exploration and discovery. They allowed themselves to loosen up, become authentic, and in the process become much more productive. The scream of jubilation from these five boys once their mission was successfully completed was more authentic than anything I witnessed that day.

My hope still is to leave the world a bit better than when I got here. ~Jim Henson

Most of us would not think to engage in such “ludicrous” behavior at our place of business. We need to fit in. We need to conform. We do what is expected and required in order to be successful. Or, at least, that’s what we are led to believe. Personally, I noticed the opposite occur last night.

When we take the initiative to break out of our mold and do what is in our heart, we achieve so much more. And we have fun in the process. As you go through your day, be courageous and creative. Dance your own dance. Just like the lovable, furry creature in the video below, find a way to be yourself regardless of the pressures around you. Especially if it means dressing in a furry pink coat, horns, and yellow round lips. You will certainly leave the world in a much better place.

And good luck not singing this for the rest of the day. Mahna Mahna! 🙂

Goose bumps

hedgieThe grunting and snuffling of a foraging hedgehog should be offensive and repugnant. Instead, it is strangely endearing. If you have never held a hedgehog or watched one run around on its stubby little legs, find an opportunity to do so. It is almost sure to sprinkle pure joy into an otherwise ordinary day.

As disappointing as this next fact may be to all the hedgehog lovers across the globe, this story does not focus on the cuteness factor associated with these nocturnal rodents and their pig-like snouts. It’s about their quills and what they can teach us about our innermost desires and life purpose.

That’s right, I just made a connection between the body part of an exotic rodent and the meaning of life. Stick with me. And yes, that pun was intended 😉

Like other mammals, hedgehogs get goose bumps. Whenever they feel threatened, quills are brought to full attention. In an effort to make themselves look larger and scare away predators, this self-defense mechanism serves as a reflexive survival instinct.

As humans, we also experience the wonder of goose bumps. When we are captivated by intense feelings of awe, admiration, or pleasure, goose bumps wash across our skin like an ocean wave tickles the shore with its foamy fingers.

At some point in our lives, we have each been touched by these moments of intensity. As quickly as they materialize, they withdraw back to the depths from whence they came and depart from our awareness. But, in that split second when they occupy our presence, they leave us with the most intense feeling of euphoria. I have a fanciful notion that goose bumps are the physical manifestation of a soul’s smile.

There are a few scenarios, without fail, that stir the emotional cauldron in the depths of my being and allow my soul to reveal itself through these virtual smiles. The stage is set around the World Showcase at Epcot. The time is 9:00 pm. As the frequency of a beating drum rises in a crescendo, my heart follows suit in anticipation of the magic that follows. I have been here numerous times before, both physically and emotionally. Although I know every little nuance of tonight’s performance, I welcome its energy with gratitude as the pyrotechnics soar across the sky, reflecting off the water in the lagoon. My soul is at home.

As the story continues and the final pages of this evening’s rendition are spoken through lasers, fireworks, and music, the globe at the center of the lagoon peels open to reveal a flame at its core. The words to this enchanting song echo from the pavilion of each country represented around the World Showcase.

With the stillness of the night
there comes a time to understand
to reach out and touch tomorrow
take the future in our hand

 We can see a new horizon
built on all that we have done
and our dreams begin another
thousand circles ’round the sun 

We go on
to the joy and through the tears
We go on
to discover new frontiers
Moving on
with the current of the years
We go on
moving forward, now as one
Moving on
with a spirit born to run
Ever on
with each rising sun 

To a new day
We go on 

We go on

We go on. With those three words, goose bumps radiate across every inch of my physical, mental, and spiritual being. As the physical remnants of this sensation recede, I step back from a surreal world and into the present. In that brief moment, however, I became aware of everything around me. I am reminded that we all share a common bond, a common story that we continue to write with each passing moment of our existence. We are all interconnected and have the power to transform this world. Together.

Next time the universe bestows this mystical feeling upon you through whatever makes you come alive, stop and notice it. Become aware of everything around you. It is your soul’s way of smiling from within you and making itself visible through your physical being.

The era we are living in today is a dream of coming true. ~Walt Disney

Allow your soul to speak. Follow it with fervor. It is in those fleeting moments that you uncover the true meaning of your life.

The rainbow connection

G81-182213After a day crammed with taxing situations funneling through my queue, the most effective therapy involves picking up my guitar, strumming a few chords, and letting the lyrics flow from deep inside. I am magically transported to a different world where all tension and stress melt away. In these moments, a feeling of quiet serenity washes over me and life is good.

Sitting on the floor in our bedroom, back against the bed, guitar perched on my thigh, I look up to see my wife walking into the room. With a smile on her face she asks, “Do you take requests?” After issuing my standard disclaimer that any played song may not resemble the said requested song, she asks me to play The Rainbow Connection. The whosit whatsit?

I sheepishly admit that up until this very moment in my life, I had never really heard the song made famous by Jim Henson and the Muppets. After listening to a rendition by Kermit the Frog and watching a smile spread across my wife’s face, I appreciated the extraordinary lyrics from this classic song.

Why are there so many songs about rainbows
and what’s on the other side?
Rainbows are visions, but only illusions,
and rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we’ve been told and some choose to believe it.
I know they’re wrong, wait and see.
Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

I have veered off course on several occasions in an attempt to see one of these fleeting views out the car window. What is it about rainbows that make us stop whatever we are doing and gaze in complete awe and wonder at this natural phenomena?

Is it because every color that we can perceive in the world is wrapped into this one vision? Is it because we dream about the mythical pot of gold at its end? Or, is it because there is some magical rainbow connection that we know is there, but simply can’t put our finger on right now?

As I replay these lyrics in my mind, I am reminded that there is something bigger than us as individuals. There are things that we can’t see that are stronger and more real than those things we can see and touch. We need to believe in hope and wishes coming true. We need to daydream and ponder all the most seemingly absurd possibilities in our lives. For it is only in these daydreams that a seed is sown and allowed to flourish into a beautiful garden.

kermit-the-frogThere are two important elements necessary to spawn a rainbow, rain and sunshine. Maybe the rain symbolizes the difficult times in our lives. Perhaps the sunshine represents the happy and joyous moments. In a rather fascinating combination of these symbolic elements, we only witness the beauty of a rainbow when both are present, the rain and the sunshine, the difficult and joyous times. Sometimes our lives seem to get turned upside down and thrown off-kilter. Could it be that we need to view a rainbow in the same way? For, if you look at a rainbow while upside down, it assuredly resembles a smile. A smile of hope, a wish for brighter days brimming with fulfilled dreams.

Life’s like a movie. Write your own ending, keep believing, keep pretending. ~Kermit the Frog

Maybe a rainbow is nothing more than Mother Nature smiling down to let us know that sunshine is waiting on the far side of every storm in our lives. So, the next time you see a rainbow, may it be a reminder to keep the magic of your inner child alive in your heart. Smile back and you may just make your own rainbow connection.

 

Food for thought

Disney and Pixar?s RATATOUILLE movie image

Originating from the Disney movie Ratatouille, this image has captivated my entire being lately. Maybe it’s the use of the soft and inviting pastel colors. Maybe it’s the wonder of the Paris skyline. Maybe it’s because we all sometimes feel like a mouse in a human world, misconstrued, struggling to keep from being stomped upon. The smile on Remy’s face, however, exudes hope and promise as he gazes upon the Eiffel Tower and Gasteau’s restaurant in the foreground. In the end, this is what ultimately captures my attention. Hope. Hope for inspiration, happiness, passion, and love.

As human beings, we are motivated by our unmet needs. If someone were to extract all the oxygen from your surroundings, what motivates you? Air, only air. Forget about any other circumstance that may have previously occupied your attention. Without oxygen pouring into your lungs, all these concerns become moot.

Each of us has most likely felt this motivation at some point in our lives. Remember a time when breakfast and lunch slipped by the wayside. Long before dinner, all that consumed your every thought was food. Sustenance. It becomes difficult to focus on anything else until that need is met. If only we had just one unmet need to manage. Life would be so much simpler. When we are juggling multiple unmet needs in mid-air, how do we keep them all from crashing down around us? The answer is balance.

Good food is like music you can taste, color you can smell. There is excellence all around you. You need only to be aware to stop and savor it. ~ Gasteau

I thoroughly enjoy cooking. It is one of the most intriguing creative endeavors. Take raw materials provided by nature and transform them into an edible work of art. I don’t necessarily understand the proper way to mince, dice, or julienne. I still manage to prepare palatable creations. Cooking is a completely immersive experience for me. Able to use all five of your senses at the same time, it can sometimes foster an almost zen-like state of mind.

Soon after graduating from college, I decided that I was going to challenge my cooking skills with a new recipe. With the directions calling for three cloves of garlic, I confidently navigated my way through the local grocery store to gather all the necessary ingredients, along with a bottle of chardonnay.

Most people enjoy a glass of wine with their meal. I enjoy that same glass of wine while preparing the meal. There is something curiously pleasing about sautéing garlic and onions while sipping a glass of wine. The sizzle of the skillet, the smell emanating from the ingredients, the long buttery finish of a fine chardonnay. It’s a small piece of heaven.

Upon completion of this new recipe, I knew that something was askew. There was certainly no doubt about the presence of garlic in my apartment. In my naïve youth, I assumed that a clove of garlic was the whole head. The recipe that called for three cloves of garlic received about eighteen cloves instead. The pizza that I ended up ordering out that night was quite tasty 😉

The key message in this story is balance. All recipes call for prescribed amounts of each ingredient. Too much or too little can create, ahem, undesired results. The same is true in the many facets of our life.

I am very good at pouring myself into a new venture with an over the top, nothing else matters, 110% of my energy mentality. At the expense of everything else in my life. Let me tell you, it catches up with you. Every single time. For a short period of time, you ride the adrenaline high of pursuing something with laser focus. You achieve numerous milestones that have been set forth for yourself. In the meantime, you deplete the emotional bank account in all the other areas of your life. Eventually, that “thing” that started out as alluring and exciting becomes drab and stale like a piece of crusty bread. And all the other roles in your life have been compromised in the process. Balance is key.

soup-ratatouilleFirst-class chefs use recipes. However, instead of following them to a tee, they use them as guidelines. Constantly tweaking the amount of each ingredient, they combine the knowledge of suggested amounts with instinctive feel to hone in on a balance that creates the ultimate culinary delight.

You must be imaginative, strong-hearted. You must try things that may not work, and you must not let anyone define your limits because of where you come from. Your only limit is your soul. ~Gasteau

So it is with our own lives. We need to go shopping and selectively choose the ingredients that personify our recipe for life. More importantly, we need to balance those ingredients so that our creation is not only palatable, but delicious beyond compare. Something we are proud to serve for all who request a reservation in our restaurant of life. Bon appétit.

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.

Illuminate

InspirationalQuotes8

Sunday morning began as usual. A freshly brewed pot of coffee with two cups consumed in my favorite 101 Dalmatians coffee mug. I previously had no idea why this was my favorite mug. I am not a dog fanatic or anything. Then I realized, it’s Disney and it all made sense.

As I sat at the computer checking my e-mail, an impromptu thought (aren’t those always the best) came to mind. I should take my son over to Disney today. We didn’t have anything planned and I knew my wife was itching to get out alone for some quiet time. It took less than 2 nanoseconds for approval of my idea. It’s amazing how quickly one said boy can get dressed when there is some external motivation 😉

In looking at the weather radar, we decided to independently ignore it. Imagine a state map of Florida. Now, imagine dipping your hand in red, green, yellow, and pink paint. Go ahead, splatter it all over that map. Yep, that was about what it looked like. But, we were going to Disney. It doesn’t rain at Disney. It’s under the dome of happiness where it’s always sunny and bright.

Apparently, that dome had recently been compromised. There was enough dihydrogen monoxide (think about it, you’ll get it) falling from the sky to fill Bay Lake in the Seven Seas Lagoon. After riding on Thunder Mountain Railroad three times in a row, the Splash Mountain powers that be must have figured that we had not yet reached our daily quota of water absorption in our clothes. We got soaked. The crazy thing is that given the right attitude, it didn’t make a bit of difference. Choose to laugh and enjoy the moment and amazing things will happen.

Everybody’s got a laughin’ place – trouble is most folks won’t take the time to go look for it. ~Splash Mountain

So, as unstated plans would have it, we ended the evening at Epcot. I always find my way to Epcot when given the opportunity. I think there is some unseen force that draws me toward the mystery and charm inside its entrance.

Illuminations was spectacular. Again. My son summed it up completely at the end of the show when he stated “That will just never get old.” I am not embarrassed to say that I literally get a chill down my spine and tear in my eye every single time I watch it. I allow myself to become immersed in the presentation.

For whatever reason, as we were walking out of the park after the show, I took notice of others who had just seen that same show. I saw reactions of all flavors. There were those ho-hum another fireworks show now where’s the exit types. There were the distracted parents trying to reign in the natural excitement of their children at Disney while focusing on the next item of the family agenda.

Then, there were the people who were traveling in the same boat as my son and I. Couples embraced. Indefinitely. Families were holding hands. Not the holding of hands for the sake of not getting lost. Rather, holding hands to signify that a special moment had just been shared together as a family. It made me think.

We all do things every day. Someone helped design that entire show. Someone helped coordinate and wire up all the fireworks earlier in the day. Someone prepared the music. Sometimes the things that we do don’t seem like much. They become habitual. They are things that we have gotten used to doing on a daily basis. But, they may be of utmost importance without even knowing it.

Epcot - IlluminationsYou have an opportunity to touch a person’s life on a daily basis in ways that you may not even realize. When you do something, do it with pride. Do it completely. Do it with everything that you have inside you. You may just create a lasting moment for an individual, a couple, or a family that will never be forgotten.

Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared. ~Buddha

Be a flame and illuminate the world around you.

Be predictably spontaneous

plan spontaneityHave you ever heard the phrase “Paralysis by analysis”? That’s me. Sometimes I spend so much time trying to figure out what I should do that I completely miss the opportunity to do the thing I was thinking about in the first place. It is so easy to get pulled into a neverending cycle of internally debating pros and cons of a particular choice.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times when careful planning and research are important or even essential. However, incorporating that mentality into every moment of every day is not only exhausting, it’s boring. Routine can be good, but blindly following it day in and day out can lead to working yourself right into a rut that’s difficult to escape.

What to do, you say? Plan to be spontaneous. Sounds like an oxymoron, I know, but stick with me for a few minutes. I have mentioned self-awareness in many of my previous posts. When you remain self-aware and present in the moment, you are able to recognize when a spontaneous opportunity is presented to you.

Our family was predictably spontaneous this past weekend. We certainly did something outside of the norm. Disney World hosted a special 24 hour event where the Magic Kingdom was open from 6am to 6am for a 24 hour period. My last all-nighter was 20+ years ago in college. I can now notch another one in my life logbook after this past weekend. However, it wasn’t the all-nighter that was memorable. It was the quality time spent with family that is something I will cherish. I can’t even explain how amusing it was to see the dichotomy between the energy levels of a 10 year old boy and a 40+ year old man at 5:30 in the morning. My son was giddy jumping off Thunder Mountain Railroad so that he could sprint back around to the empty line and ride it again … over and over … seven times in a row 🙂

I admire him for doing something spontaneous in his own way. He’s never been on Space Mountain and was somewhat anxious about the dark ride experience. But, he really had it in his mind to complete the triple mountain whammy by riding Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, and Space Mountain in one evening. Although it wasn’t necessarily his favorite ride in the world, he decided in the moment to take the plunge and he was rightfully proud of himself when he completed his own personal goal. Being spontaneous not only allows us to achieve more. It tends to push us outside of our comfort zone. As a result, we experience life more fully.

castle sunriseSo, back to my comment about self-awareness. We are stumbling (literally) towards the exit of the park after 6am when my wife stops me and says “Will you look at that?” I wasn’t sure what she was talking about because I was staring at the cracks on the pavement to make sure I didn’t trip over them. Then I looked up and noticed what she had seen.

With the sun coming up from the east, Cinderella’s castle was lit in the most beautiful hue of pink and purple. There was just enough light from the sunrise to reflect that beautiful image on the lake adjacent to the castle. Without my wife remaining in the moment, we would have walked right by the opportunity to stop, appreciate the beauty, and catch a special moment together.

How many times have you heard the conversation starter “So, what do you do for a living?” Next time someone asks you that question, throw them off by answering “I live for a living!” But, you need to back up your claim by going out and doing it.

It took me a few days to recuperate from our little expedition, a small price to pay for the memories it provided. What are you going to do next? Don’t plan it, just do it. Keep your eyes and ears open to your surroundings and jump on the next opportunity that looks interesting.

Stay spontaneous and live your life like the adventure that it was meant to be.