It’s Time to Play with Your Inner Child

What did you really love to do when you were little_ (1)

My Uncle’s voice cascades up the stairwell, I can make out the lyrics to Puff the Magic Dragon followed by renditions of Hallelujah. The music with its heart and unabashedness leaves me smiling uncontrollably.

My sister, cousin and I sit around the table post-breakfast writing in our journals, sketching in our sketchbooks, laughing about adulting. We’re in our 20s and we’ve been doing these same activities since we were kids.

Dancing with abandon, limbs flailing, leaping across the basement floor, us cousins stop the cleaning lady in her tracks, she won’t come down the stairs, and we can’t stop dancing to Nena’s 99 Luftballons. The music keeps us moving.

Over the course of a single weekend, these are just three moments that left me feeling complete. Moments lived without restriction, moments tapping into the truest pieces of ourselves, moments drawing from the spirit of childhood.

I am a huge fan of the inner child- the childlike spirit that lives within each of us calling us back to our sense of wonder, play, creativity. So much can happen when we enter into this place. It feels lighter, time expands, it breathes in new possibilities that we may not have previously imagined.

Each of us was a child once. That’s obvious. You already knew that. But I want you to think about how you can bring this spirit into your day to day.

I’ll be honest, I have a lot of questions and activities that can guide you to connecting more deeply with your inner child and I’ll definitely be sharing those periodically, but right now, I want you to contemplate the following:

What did you really love to do when you were little?

I’m talking you could do this for hours, lose complete track of time, and allow it to completely consume you. What was that activity?

Shout it out. Grab a journal and write it all down. Just get it all out one way or another

For me some of the things on my list are: exploring, drawing, crafting, reading, rolling down hills, spinning, playing imagination games, planning parties, climbing trees, dancing, singing, writing, climbing thing other than trees…

When you have your list, look at how often you’re still doing those things or if you’re doing those things at all.

If you are, how do they make you feel?

If you aren’t, there are a couple of questions to ask yourself: Why aren’t you doing them? AND What would happen if you did?

I encourage you to start doing more of the activities you enjoyed when you were little. This is just one simple step to start connecting more deeply with your inner child and bring more play and wonder into your world.

Try it out and let me know how you feel after engaging in one of the activities from your list! I’m excited to hear how it goes.

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Changing the Conversation Around “Hard Work”

What are you creating and who are you doing it for-

I used to have “hard work” as one of the bricks of my very foundation. I was attached to these two words like my name. They defined me, they fueled me. When anyone described me as a “hard worker,” my spirit beamed, this was a gold star to my identity. I took AP courses in high school staying up all night to read books, write papers, and solve problems. My own mother told me I should “slack off” and have more fun. In college I did the same, working myself into sickness and sheer exhaustion. Afterwards I did the same with jobs, working beyond the times most people would go home to prove this identity.

Perhaps it is precisely because I used a brick in my foundation that it crumbled, it wasn’t malleable enough to change alongside me, just like the very word itself.

Just take each of those words… separately, together. The definitions alone carry a certain energy.

Hard:

  1. So as to cause oppression, pain, difficulty or hardship; cruelly, harshly (Oxford English Dictionary).
  2. With a great deal of effort, energy, or force; strenuously, vigorously; assiduously; fiercely; intensely, profoundly (Oxford English Dictionary).

Work:

  1. Be engaged in physical or mental activity in order to achieve a purpose or result, especially in one’s job; do work (Oxford English Dictionary).

Hard Work:

  1. A great deal of effort or endurance (Oxford English Dictionary).
  2. Something that uses a lot of time and energy (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).
  3. Industrious, diligent (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).

How do you feel when you read those words? Do you feel excited? Energized? Expansive? Contractive? Discouraged?

For me, those words just don’t sound really fun, they no longer serve me. And I’m curious love how those words feel for you?

Are you also someone who has used these words as an identifier, sometimes in ways that have fueled you towards your dreams and at other times in ways that have held you down?

I’ll be honest, there have absolutely been times when I have focused my energy so intently on something and I have loved the results.

I have worked 24/7 for weeks on end to plan conferences attended by Nobel Laureates and hundreds of youth who are changing the world.

I have stayed up until 4 in the morning, losing all track of time as I’ve written poetry and created artwork allowing the muse to guide my word choices and colored pencil combinations.

But none of these things have ever felt arduous, oppressive, or cruel. Rather I’ve been excited to stay up into the darkness, being fueled by starlight because the project I am working on eradicates all sense of time.

I think it’s time to change our conversation around “hard work” because when you are focusing your energy so completely on something it should inspire you, not hold you down.

So I invite you to reflect on the following:

Who are you doing it for?

When have you felt all your energy focused on something?

What new term can you use for “hard work” that leave you feeling inspired?

When you are putting all of your energy and focus into something, who are you doing it for?

Are you doing it for your boss? For school? For someone else?

Are you doing it to make your parents or partner proud?

Are you doing it for you?

This is the first step in the process. Are you using your focus and energy for the highest good? Is it fueling your soul? If not, then stop. Yes, sometimes we might have to work to pay the bills so we can really focus on what matters. Sometimes what we are doing feels like an uphill battle but we know the end result will be well worth it. For instances… building pyramids, writing a novel, investing in your education, creating your dream business, raising a family. This does not mean you should stop doing this “work”, but in this, I invite you to consciously see what your efforts are creating.

When have you felt all your energy focused on something?

When has it felt really delectable leaving you feeling energized and inspired?

Yes there might be times where it’s a little more challenging, but does it leave you feeling more inspired and joyful than drained?

When has it felt draining and heavy? As you look at these instances, are their commonalities? Is it going against your values, are you feeling taken advantage of, are you feeling uninspired? What’s true for you here?

What other words can you use for when you are inspired rather than feeling weighted down?

In this way, I ask you to question if you are engaged in “hard work”- slinging that weighty definition around, involved in rigor that does not serve you or anyone else or if you are doing work that allows you to feel lighter and inspires you to move towards your ultimate vision.

Is there a new term that you can use for this?

Creative Flow.  Vision Expansion. Service. Innovation.

Use something that feels really good to you whether that still is hard work, one of these terms I just mentioned, or something else entirely. All I ask is that you know what you are putting your energy towards, why, and how it makes you feel. If it shackles you more than it frees you… stop…. ask yourself why you’re still doing it and if it no longer makes sense. Stop.

Honor Your Imperfections, Honor the Divine

Honor your imperfectinos, Honor the Divine.

One of my breasts is bigger than the other. So is one of my eyes. It took me 18 years and a statue at the Louvre with my profile to appreciate the curve in my nose.

I didn’t learn how to “correctly” say the words “museum” and “wolf” until I entered adulthood. I still struggle to understand sarcasm but love dry humor. I don’t really think I’m that funny, but other people do when I’m not trying to be.

I still wait until the last minute to do things but I think about them a lot beforehand. My ideas just take a lot of time to gestate before they’re ready to be birthed.

Some people say I’m too quiet- an award I was given in the 6th grade. I’m just absorbing the words, the way the light falls, the interaction between people, what remains unsaid.

Ever since I was in my single digits I’ve come out of the library with armloads of books. I tend to look like the mouse Gus in Cinderella after he gathers corn. I still never read all of them, I just like having options.

I’m not always who people think I’m supposed to be. I’m not always doing what people think I’m supposed to do. But I am exactly who I need to be.

I am imperfect perfection.

You are your own unique being. You say things that not everyone says. You think things that not everyone thinks. You have corporeal asymmetries that may be noticeable only to you.

You have your own unique ways of signing your name, planning your day, and living your life. You have your own collections of passions. You have your own way of defying the status quo.

You have a name with its own story. You have lived your own life of stories that not everyone has lived. You are the only you there will ever be.

You are imperfect perfection.

Throughout the world, imperfection has become a signature, an honoring of the divine. Spirit beads are incorporated into beadwork, mistakes woven into Persian and Navajo rugs.  The entire Japanese concept of Wabi-Sabi gives tribute to the beauty of imperfection, impermanence, and incompletion.

In honoring our imperfections, we honor the divine.

In honoring our imperfections, we honor the beauty within us that is uniquely ours.

In what ways are you imperfectly perfect?

Hello Love!

This revamped website has been a long time coming and it’s finally here! I’ll be starting to blog weekly on Mondays starting May 2! If you want to be updated on when new blogs come  out and the secret projects I’m working on (and there are a couple of juicy ones this summer), you can sign up for my newsletter here!

Best Year Yet!

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Last summer sitting on my aunt and uncle’s front porch, my Uncle Tim asked my siblings and me what we thought about 2015. Up until that point, the year had been quite challenging, my heart was in a state of deep aching, and I had no idea what would happen next in my life. He waited for us to answer with our “it’s okay” responses before being asked what he thought. He replied matter-of-factly, “I think it’s the best year yet.”

That stuck with me. From that point on, I returned to that phrase… “best year yet.” Indeed, that’s exactly what it became. If I look at my 2015, I probably had more growth in a single year than I have had in years.

  • I applied and got accepted to all of the graduate schools I applied to.
  • I joined an incredible program called Mentor Masterclass which allowed me to connect deeply with phenomenal women and learn how to be a life coach.
  • I celebrated my sister’s graduation from college.
  • I travelled with family to Tulum and got to leave the country for the first time since 2010.
  • I made the difficult decision to get divorced.
  • I journeyed across the US with my sister moving from Santa Fe, NM to Somerville, MA.
  • I started graduate school at Tufts.
  • I developed some inner-child life coaching techniques that I really enjoy working with.
  • I grew a deeper connection with myself and my inner knowledge.
  • I learned that sometimes you need to let go.

That list is just a glimpse of what 2015 year gifted me. Even with the challenges, I allowed myself to learn and grow.

What happens then if we live with a “Best Year Yet!” mentality? What happens if we shift into creating exactly what we desire now?

2016 shouldn’t be the best year ever, it should be the best year yet. We should be continuously growing, viewing life in wonder, basking in the beauty of each day. If we view it with that perspective taking actions to create exactly what we want in our lives each day, we’re moving in the direction of having the “Best Year Yet!” every year.

So, in 2016, what will you create? How will you make this your best year yet?

 

 

Rewriting Your Story When Life Breaks You Open

RewritingYourStoryWhenLifeBreaksYouOpen

Over the past few months I have been stretched by nearly every possible emotion. I have felt immense gratitude for all the people who have held me during this time offering me their homes, their help, their listening ears; radiant joy in sitting as the sun fades having conversations with the people I love; love… just pure expansive love for all the beauty in my life and those who are part of it in such an authentic way; betrayal that has made me question everything about who I trust and myself – my beauty, my values, my decisions; anger at life going “wrong,” at being stuck for so long, at the way I’ve been treated; guilt for what I could have done differently, for not being good enough, for “failing” others and myself; disgust in other people’s actions; exhaustion for going through so many emotions all at once while still taking the time to live my life; pride in myself for getting into graduate school, getting out of a marriage that wasn’t serving either of us, and choosing to rewrite my story.

That’s just a sliver of what I’ve been feeling, but I’m allowing it. It’s my time of molting and I’m shedding, removing my skin, and sitting raw and vulnerable making space for the new growth.

I have a tendency to choke down what I’m feeling, put on my armor, and leap out to defeat the world. I’ll be the first to say I’m resilient as fuck. We can even go with a desert metaphor here. I’m resilient as a spiky little cactus. I just won’t die, I survive. I’ll keep on going even though circumstances might say otherwise. I’ve moved an entire apartment by foot by myself; I’ve packed up a home in two days to get to my grandfather’s funeral driving 1,138 miles without sleep to be at the wake on time; I’ve stared depression and OCD in the face and survived their attacks… and they didn’t make it easy; I graduated from an Ivy League with many sleepless nights under my belt; I kept going to work and travelled to Boston even with immense physical pain that didn’t subside for weeks; I lived for two years without a bed and only $18 a month for “fun” as an AmeriCorps living on poverty wage.

I’m done with it though.

I had to live those stories to survive. But I don’t need to anymore.

Here’s the thing. If you keep on pushing down the emotions without realizing what’s really going on, you keep reliving the same frustrating story. You never recognize the patterns. You never see the sources of your pain. You never take the time to see how you can rewrite what has been written over and over again.

This time is sacred.

Basking in this rawness, sitting in the grit, taking off my armor and stepping into my naked newness… it’s sacred. It means I choose what’s next. It means I no longer choose the story of “life has to be difficult” or “when life is going smoothly something bad always happens.”

No.

I’m moving from surviving to thriving.

Simply surviving no longer serves me. That just keeps me right where I was before, stagnated, unhappy, exhausted, and unable to move forward.

I choose to ask for help, I choose to receive all the blessings God sends my way, I choose to create more ease, I choose to be my real self and shine, I choose to step into my very being again.

It doesn’t have to be so damn difficult. It’s all how I respond to it. And I choose to respond to every challenge, every fear, every blockade with breath, surrender, observation, and finding the ease and joy with the solutions that come.

These are pieces of my new story and they come in vignettes as it is being written.

What story are you re-writing?

Respond in the comments below, or if this is on your mind and you’re figuring it out, send me an e-mail at camilafmarquez@gmail.com and schedule a free 50-minute consultation session with me to explore your story and how it can shift to be exactly what you desire.

5 Ways to Deal with Feelings of Inadequacy

5WaystoDealwithFeelingsofInadequacy

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the world’s problems, to feel obligated to family, friends, your spouse, your children, your job, your place of worship, your volunteer work…  everything… except for yourself.

It’s easy, especially if you’re  a sensitive people pleaser to want to be everything to everyone- to be perfect, to get straight A’s and perfect scores, to win awards, to yearn for people to be proud of you, to love you, to think you’re amazing.

Eventually, though, it defeats you.

You begin feeling inadequate, ugly, broken, and like the biggest failure in existence. How are you supposed to do anything in such a state? How can you possibly succeed? The answer is, you can’t.

Earlier this week I went through a meltdown. Someone sent me an e-mail expressing some of their emotions and past life struggles (which I get, life can be incredibly painful) and in the midst of it expressed their extreme disatisfaction with the way I handled a particular situation 10 months ago. Keep in mind that right now I also have work 40 hours a week (with this being the busiest time of year), I’m working on graduate school applications, I’m studying for the GREs, I have a blog to maintain, and I’m taking an Arabic course after work two times a week. This e-mail was just the last drop to send my emotional bucket spilling over and sending the following thoughts through my head:

I hate my life. I hate myself. I’m a horrible person. I can’t do anything right. I hate everyone. I want to disappear. I want to die. I want to leave. I wish I stayed in the East. Maybe I should just pack up, hit the road, and see where I end up. Maybe I should cut off all communications from everyone. I feel stuck. I feel lost. I feel trapped. I can’t deal with this right now. I can’t deal with anything right now. Etc.

And, if you’re feeling this way, or have ever felt this way, you would know that you shouldn’t have to be in this place. You need to take your needs into consideration.

1. Make yourself your top priority.

My mom used to tell me all the time that “you can’t love anyone without loving yourself.” It’s true, you can’t. Likewise, you can’t truly care for anyone else until you care for yourself. Life coaches often use the analogy of oxygen masks on an airplane. The air attendents tell you that if those masks come down, you need to secure one over your own nose and mouth before helping anyone else with theirs. Why? Because if you pass out from oxygen depirvation, you’re not going to be able to help anyone else. It’s as simple as that.

If you neglect yourself and don’t make your overall health and well-being a priority you’re not going to be effective in being present for others. You’re not going to have the energy or the resources you need to thrive.

2. Acknowledge that you are amazing.

It’s part of life to face criticism. It may come to you in the form of people disagreeing with you, supervisors wanting you to change the way you do something, family and friends who don’t like what you’ve become or how you’ve handled a situation, or from your inner skeptic. It might happen face-to-face, in e-mails, in online comments, in phone conversations, or in backhanded ways. Criticism is everywhere, and yes, it can be painful and suck the life out of you.

The thing you need to remember though is that you are amazing.

When you feel inadequate, uncertain, or hurt, take some time to relax, breathe, and think of everything that makes you awesome. Write it down, draw it out, feel it. Better yet, right now, take out a pen and list all of the things that make you 110% you. The things that make you incredible. It can be character traits, ways you have handled particular situations, past accompishments, positive things that others have said about you. Think of everything you possibly can and write it all down. Place this list someplace safe and return to it whenever you need a boost in self-love.

3. Know your triggers.

Just as you have things that make you feel comforted and contribute to you thriving, you also have triggers. What are the things that you know set you off, make you feel unhappy and inadequate, or at a more intense level can send you plummeting into a wretched emotional abyss? Know what these are. When you do, you are able to avoid these triggers if you need to or deal with them head on when you’re in a space you feel comfortable doing so. Two of my triggers are the following:

  • My parents’ divorce.
  • My time of depression/OCD.

Honestly, these are my biggest triggers. They aren’t things that I like to talk about unless I’m the one to bring them up. Why? Because I know that I weave in and out of depression and these topics can make it a whole hell of a lot worse.

4. Know your needs.

What things do you need in life in order for you to thrive? To be happy? To be fulfilled? To be able to function at your highest capacity? Think with your brain and your heart on this one. Think about your mental health, your emotional health, your physical health.

My list starts something like this:

  • tea
  • warm baths
  • lots of fruits and veggies
  • iron
  • breath
  • acknowledgement
  • a strong support system
  • hugs
  • space and time to be alone
  • movement
  • travel
  • exploration
  • inspiration
  • books
  • education

What does your list look like? How can you incorporate these things into your day-to-day? Regardless, you need to make sure that you’re getting what you need. Be aware of these needs and if you’re neglecting yourself by not paying attention to them, take a moment and incorporate one of them into your life immediately.

5. Practice constant self-care.

Even when you’re busy, make an effort to practice constant self-care. Even if it’s as simple as taking ten minutes every morning to drink a cup of tea and relax, make sure that self-care is something that you’re paying attention to. You are worth it. You are amazing. You deserve happiness and security. You are your biggest priority. When you acknowledge that and take time to make that statement true you are doing yourself (and the world) a great service. When you take time to take care of yourself, everything else become’s a little easier, you’re able to greet each day head on, and you have a greater ability to reach your highest potential.

How do you like to practice self-care?

 

READ: The Happiness of Pursuit

READTheHappinessofPursuit

Glimpse inward. Use your inner eyes to delve into your very soul. What’s there? What do you find yourself yearning to do? What stands out so strongly that you can taste it, nearly grasp it, that automatically makes your endorphins rise because it’s the one thing that you have to do?

What is your quest?

From the beginning of time, people have gone on quests. They’ve set out to find the Golden Fleece, discover new lands, create remedies. It’s in our mythos. It’s in our history. It’s in our blood. Earlier last week on September 9th, Chris Guillebeau’s new book, The Happiness of Pursuit made it’s debut. If you’re a Chris fan, like myself, this is a must read. Once again, Guillebeau explores an enticing issue through his own journey and the stories of others. From exploration to self-improvement, athletic triumphs to obscure accomplishments this book looks at what individuals around the world have done to pursue their own self-devised quests and what it means to live your dream out loud. (Chris, for instance, set out to travel to every country in the world… and he finished that pursuit).

Learn about how one young woman set out to have 50 first dates spanning across the United States, why one man set out to fulfill his late wife’s bucket list, the spark behind why one gentleman stopped speaking and walked everywhere for 17 years. Be inspired to take action with that one thing (or grocery list of things) that fuels you. Or if you’re like me and don’t quite know yet what that one thing is, to start thinking about it.

When I was in high school, my family and my aunt’s family set out to see which family could get to all 50 states first. It was riveting. I remember waking up in the middle of the night on cross-country train journeys to hop out and take a picture to prove that we’d been to Missouri… or renting a car for a brief layover so we could swoop up to Michigan and say we’d been there. Let’s just say we never made it to all 50 states. I ended up going to college and my parents got divorced so it just kind of fizzled out. However, the buzz that arose from checking states off the list as we came closer and closer to our goal has remained with me. It gave me… the zest for a quest. Look, a rhyme!

So what are the takeaways I got out of The Happiness of Pursuit?

  1. A quest has a clear ending point
  2. Sometimes it takes dissatisfaction to get you going.
  3. You’re never too young or too old to begin your quest.
  4. You will have setbacks.
  5. It’s okay to readjust  your pursuit as necessary.
  6. You are your biggest supporter.

If you need a kick in the ass to get started on determining what your quest is, figuring out how to get going, how to finance it, or you just need some inspiration, read this book! It’s absolutely worth it. And, if you want to meet Chris Guillebeau, he will be travelling across the country on a book tour so go say hello if he’s stopping in your town.

What’s Your Quest?

Alleviating Wanderlust When You Can’t Take off to Turkmenistan Tomorrow

chalk

 

Those of us with wanderlust are born with the insatiable desire to move, engage in new ventures and experience unfamiliar territory coursing through our veins. Some of us are born vagabonds always waiting for the next big adventure while the yearning to leave one’s current locale ebbs so fervently it causes the spirit to ache. I know this to be true. I too am a wanderlusting nomad. And I don’t necessarily want to leave because I don’t like where I am but because there is a vast and fucking beautiful world out there and it consistently beckons me forward. Shouting adieu to the hometown when the the wanderlust kicks in (as it does at least every few months) isn’t always an option and I have to seek other ways to soothe the  wanderlust when it emerges. So here I am offering my tips to ease the symptoms of wanderlust when it creeps into your soul and you’re too broke or otherwise too tied down by life to get up and go.

friends

 

IF YOU ENJOY MEETING NEW PEOPLE…

Talk to strangers.

Yes, I know we were all taught to not talk to strangers, but now that we’re adults and not on an episode of the X-Files (best 90’s show ever!)… sometimes it’s okay to engage in conversations with people you don’t know. Just go to a place where there are a lot of people, approach someone, and start talking. Coffeeshops, downtown spaces, bars, and fancy hotel lobbies are all great places to meet new folks. I know, it seems like a difficult thing to do, but if it really makes you nervous, pretend to be a tourist and ask for recommendations.  You can also check out a blog post I wrote for Kind Over Matter on the awesomeness of talking to strangers here.

Try a meetup.

If you want to practice a language, go hiking, or hang out with other food-aficianados check out Meetup.com to see if there are any groups in your area that focus on your interests. Check it out and you might meet some interesting people, make a new friend, or if not, at least you tried something new.

Host a traveler.

If you have a little more time on your hands and love meeting people from different places you can sign up to be a host on Airbnb or CoachSurfing. This will allow you to meet an array of people from all over the globe. Depending on who you host you can also serve as a tourguide to your town which allows you to see it from an entirely different angle. Also, if you use Airbnb you can also make a little money… you know, to fund your own travels.

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IF YOU ENJOY TRYING NEW CUISINES…

Try a new restaurant.

Where would you go if you could go absolutely anywhere? Greece? All right! Find a Greek restaurant where you live and get your ass over there. Have some moussaka or some spanakopita. Try a restaurant that has different cuisine… or if you’re familiar with a particular type of cuisine, for example if you’re like me and really into pad thai, go to every restaurant that has that food dish, sample it, and see which you like the most.

Get cooking.

Being a foodie, I find it easy to connect with others over food and I love going to restaurants in another place and trying the “local cuisine.”. It tells so much about the regional agriculture, the culture, and I’ve also found it’s often a great point of conversation (or maybe that’s because I grew up in New Mexico were food is like the weather… people are always talking about it). When I was a wee young ‘un, one of my favorite cookbooks was The Kid’s Multicultural Cookbook. Not only did it have easy and delicious recipes from around the world, but it also told stories about other kids who lived in different countries. It was amazing! Not only was I able to cook, but I was also able to learn about what life was like in other places and what kids my age liked to eat. So pull out a cookbook, search online, or look for a cooking class to get started on making recipes from around the world.

Take a food tour.

Just go to your favorite search engine and type in “food tour” + “name of your town.” Search for companies in your town that give food tours, sign up for a tour, and eat up.

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IF YOU WANT TO FEEL LIKE YOU’RE SOMEWHERE ELSE…

Read a book that takes place in a different city/state/country.

If you’re a reader, like me, this is quick escape. Just grab a book from the library, your bookshelf, or download a digital one to your e-reader and enter into a new land. One of my favorite places to find books that take place in other countries is the International IMPAC Dublin Literacy Award website. They select readers from around the globe each year and many of the books take place outside the US.

Watch a movie that takes place in different city/state/country.

Similar to reading a book, this is another easy escape (though probably a little less time consuming). Look on Netflix or Hulu Plus, visit the library or a video rental store and check out a movie that takes place somewhere else. Be immersed in the language, see new scenery, listen to different music, it’s all right there waiting for you. A couple of my favorites (and yes, I have a lot more) are Pane e Tulipani (Bread and Tulips) which is set in Venice, Italy and Veer Zaara which is set in India/Pakistan.

Pretend to be a tourist.

If you have a good imagination or you like acting, pretend to be a tourist. Visit the local attractions in your town- check out the museums, the landmarks, the restaurants, the neighborhoods that everyone says you should see. If you get stuck, stop into a local store and ask someone what he/she recommends doing. I’ve tried this once with one of my friends and it worked splendidly. We had a delightful afternoon.

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IF YOU WANT TO EXPLORE…

Wander aimlessly.

Step outside your door and just keep walking. Don’t bother having a destination. See where your feet carry you. Often you end up where you need to anyway.

Have a photo adventure.

This goes along with wandering aimlessly. Sometimes you find the best photo opportunities (or sketch opportunities if you prefer that) when you’re not trying to go anywhere specific. Just take your camera or your i-phone and take photos of what catches your attention.

Go somewhere you haven’t been before.

I have never been to the Loretto Chapel. Gasp! It’s a very famous church in my town that has a miraculous winding staircase made without any nails… and the carpenter who built the staircase disappeared mysteriously. I grew up in Santa Fe and even though I’m 27, I have never been inside. I’m sure that you have your own places like that in your town that you’ve been meaning to go for some time but just haven’t yet thinking you’ll get around to it. If you’re feeling the wanderlust, now’s the time to do it.

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IF THE WANDERLUST IS JUST TOO DAMN STRONG…

Learn a new language.

Maybe you already know where you want to go next. Maybe you have absolutely no idea. Either way language breaks down barriers and is always a useful skill to have. Once you figure out what language you want to learn, start learning it. You can take a course on the language at a community college, get language discs at a library (or buy them), join a language Meetup, find a language buddy (either online or in the real world), and immerse  yourself. Fluentin3months also has some helpful hints for language hacking. Benny Lewis, the man in charge of Fluentin3months also just came out with a book of the same title and is currently going on a book tour.

Plan your next journey.

You know that’s all you really want to do anyway. Start looking at airline/train/ship prices, look at travel guides and mark down where you’d want to go, learn the local language/s, explore the hotels/hostels/airbnbs you could stay in, create your plan, make a budget, figure out how to get there, and go.

What tips do you have for alleviating the symptoms of wanderlust?

I am a Story Person… and Other Lessons Learned at The World Domination Summit

WorldDominationSummit

Every human being on earth is blood-related by fifty degrees or less. Isn’t that incredible? We’re all cousins whether we like it or not. I learned this fun factoid from AJ Jacobs at this year’s World Domination Summit.

Earlier this year I begin following lots of blogs, and in the midst of mindlessly entering data at work, I’d listen to TED talks and random speeches by Danielle LaPorte, Gretchen Rubin, and other phenomenal folks. Time and time again, these individuals would reference Chris Guillibeau, a man who set out to travel to every country in the world, and the World Domination Summit.

I figured that if all these incredible people kept talking about this man and this conference that he was apparently behind, I had to find out more. When I did, I was astounded. There’s actually a conference for people who are into adventure, community, and service?!  Shit, these three elements have been part of my life since sperm and egg joined forces and became me (yes I know that’s a weird analogy, but I’m just going to go with it). I love connecting with people, travelling & exploring, and making every effort to shift this world into being a better place. Upon my discovery, I knew I had to go. Not necessarily in 2014, but some day in the distant future. It would be an addition to my life list.  Fortunately, circumstance jumped on my side and I was able to say yes to the direction the universe was pointing me in, and I bought a ticket at the end of February.

Luckily, the universe (i.e. ticket prices) also enticed me to leave earlier than I was intending, allowing me to arrive in Portland Wednesday afternoon, just in time for the first official Meetup of the weekend. The Meetup was held at The Oregon Public House, one of the coolest pubs I have ever been in. This place gives 100% of their proceeds to rotating charities. Being someone who has worked in the non-profit sector for most of my career and being someone who enjoys awesome beer, how could I not like this place? I mean really, why doesn’t every town have one of these, especially college towns (cough cough Ithaca)? The other phenomenal thing about this bar is that it’s family friendly. While the Meetup was going on there was a children’s concert inside and toddlers were dancing around with fairy wings. HOW COOL IS THAT?!

That was just the start to an incredible weekend. I met multitudes of people doing incredible things with their lives, listened to the stories of phenomenal speakers, shared late-night pizza outside a food truck with people I just met, and was sparked with fragments of inspiration that have been percolating ever since. These are some of those sparks:

We are all cousins. (AJ Jacobs)

I absolutely adore my cousins. They’re seriously some of my favorite human beings and I would do almost anything for them. When AJ Jacobs got to talking about how connected we all are as a human species and how we’re each blood-related to everyone else on this planet by 50 degrees or less, I was astounded. Jacobs mentioned that before he started delving into the world of genealogy he used to detest Judge Judy. Now that he knows she’s his cousin, he has a little more sympathy for the woman. And it’s true, when you begin to actually think of the people you interact with as family, do you treat them better? Do you have more compassion? What happens? Upon returning to Santa Fe from WDS, I began working intimately with a group of teen girls from Palestine and Israel who are in the States engaging in dialogue and working towards peace. Each of the young women I have met have been affected by the recent devastation in their communities. War consistently happens and it literally is cousins fighting against cousins. If we each took a step back and considered how close we really are, if we took the time to listen to one another, cry & laugh with one another, and relate like we do with our favorite relatives despite our differences, what could actually happen?

On a less serious note, AJ Jacobs mentioned that this knowledge is great for networking. He was able to get a meeting with George Bush Sr. because he told his secretary that they were cousins.

Take imperfect action. (Jadah Sellner)

This is where I flounder. I double check everything, think things over, sleep on it, procrastinate… and in the process I never get anything done. This is why I like deadlines, so I can throw something out into the universe even if it’s not perfected to the degree I expect of myself. I’m an idea person, and sometimes it sucks. Jadah Sellner said it perfectly when she said “how do vision boards and spreadsheets live together?” How do I move my visions for writing a novel, starting a business, going to grad school, etc. into reality.  This is absolutely something I need to do more of- taking my ideas and taking the itty bitty baby steps that will move them to reality.  I need to do less thinking about whether something is right or wrong and instead be taking that next step forward regardless of it’s state of perfection. One woman I met at the conference goes to the beach every morning and takes pictures and writes about what she sees and hits the “submit” button. That’s imperfection action right there and it’s the only thing that’s going to move me forward.

Be an architect of the memories people will have of you. (Michael Hyatt)

Michael Hyatt spoke about the three ways of living life: living the drifting life, living the driven life, and living the designed life. In the first two styles of living, sometimes a person can end  up in a destination he/she never would have chosen. Rather, it is through living a designed life, one that is carefully planned out and congruent with one’s values and visions, that leads to the sought after destination. Trust me, I have found myself in undesirable life destinations on more than one occasion and even now I’m trying to get back on track. A designed life is exactly what I need.  I need to consciously create a beautiful life that I believe in whole-heartedly. Just like with a gorgeous home, it may take time, planning, and finding the right people who can help me construct my dream, but it is possible.

I_________. (Elise Blaha Cripe)

I love when people ask questions that get you thinking about your absolute perfect answer. My favorite of these  questions is “What Are You?” to which I respond in a variety of ways just to frustrate people. I love that Elise Blaha Cripe, the creative maven of enJOY it, started responding to the question of “What do you do?” by saying “I make stuff.” It’s vague, but it encompasses so much. For the past couple of weeks I’ve been thinking about an exercise that she gave us at the beginning of her talk: to take the sticker that she had given each of us saying “I _______________” and to fill in the blank with something that we were going to do/actually were doing or were going to be/were presently. Here’s mine, I am a story person. I love stories. I love hearing stories, I love telling stories, I love living the kind of life that births stories. In listening to one another, engaging in the act of storytelling, we are consistently learning about our differences, our similarities, folk cultures, beliefs, histories… There is so much contained in stories. That’s what I enjoyed most about WDS, hearing stories. Hearing about the frickin’ amazing projects that attendees and speakers are working on and realizing that there are like minded people in the world doing remarkable things.

PeaceJammers would love this!

Seriously, World Domination Summit is the closest thing I’ve found to a PeaceJam conference for adults. You meet awesome people, soak up inspiration, get energized to transform dream into action, laugh, cry, and feel safe sharing yourself with others. If you are a PeaceJammer or a former PeaceJammer, I highly recommend attending this conference.

So will I be going back? I’ve thought about it and trust me, it took me a good week to be able to detangle what I’ve learned (only a fraction of which I’ve been able to share in this post… I’m sure more slivers of it will trickle out here and there) and determine how I feel about WDS, what I loved, how I would have done things differently, and whether or not I want to go again. Here’s my answer: yes, I will absolutely go again. Not necessarily next year, but perhaps the year following… unless the universe hunts me down and sends me again in 2015.