Live Your Life And Love Those Around You

We have all lost someone close to us at some point in our lives. A loss is a sad thing and generally it’s only when we have experienced loss that we appreciate life. But how can we fully appreciate life, when we don’t take full advantage of the time we have? Four years ago today a friend of mine passed away at the age of 18 which is way too young. Also, at the end of January three years ago, I lost my grandfather who was one of the greatest men I have known. From their deaths, I have learned quite a few things about the precious gift called life.

Many times we are too late to tell someone just how much we love and appreciate them. It’s as if we are too shy to tell them just how we feel but then we feel so much guilt when we didn’t pluck up the courage to tell them how much they meant in our lives. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why is it so hard to say, “Hey, I love you and you have impacted my life so much, thank you.” When it’s true, why is it so difficult to say? It’s bizarre to think that we rarely tell the people around us how much they have changed our lives and how we just assume that they know.

My advice is a simple line from a song by The Script, “We gotta tell em that we love em while we have the chance to say it gotta live like we’re dying.” Simple but true. We have been given only so much time in the physical world and it’s important to make the most of it. When you look back on your life, would you be proud of the person that you became? Would you be proud of the things you’ve accomplished? Could you honestly tell yourself that you had impacted lives in a good way? Did you enjoy your life to the fullest and experience everything that you wanted to? Did you say everything you wanted to say?

Learn to say what you feel. I can’t stress how important this is. No one can truly tell how you are feeling if you keep it bottled up inside. Tell someone if they make you happy or if they make you upset just let them know that you still care about them and love them all the same. Never go to bed angry and never wake up with hatred. Go to bed with love and forgiveness and wake up with compassion and understanding. Say what is important to you because if it is important to you then it is important. Share your opinion with others and let your voice be heard. Words leave a huge imprint on the hearts and minds of others. Be mindful however, that words stick permanently and be certain they are not hurtful to others.

Also, be sure you spend as much time with these people as possible. You never know when you’re going to lose someone or when your time will run out. It could be years from now or it could be tomorrow for all you know. Because these people are so close to you, you can learn a lot from them. A different perspective, a new approach or even a new found admiration for something you didn’t take a second glance at before. Time is precious and we should take advantage of the time we have with loved ones.

As hard as it may seem, just push your boundaries and tell the people you love how much they mean to you. If I could go back in time, I would tell my friend just how much it meant to me that he accepted me even when I wasn’t the most popular kid in school. I would love to have told him that his warm acceptance, kindness and humor touched many people in our community. Finding a good heart like that is difficult to come by. If I could talk to my grandfather just once more, I would apologize for not making that phone call when I came back from Greece. I would tell him what a great role model he was and how rare it is to find a man like him who doesn’t badmouth a single soul. Could’ve, would’ve, should’ve, it’s too late now to tell them how much they meant now but it isn’t too late to tell those still around you. Just because you’ve lost some doesn’t mean you’ve lost all and I would bet there are still people in your life who love you very much, even if they haven’t had the courage to come out and say it.

Tell those around you just how important they are, or simply tell them you love them. It only takes three words, I love you, I appreciate you, I admire you, I accept you. Tell them what they mean to you and it will stay with them for a lifetime. It means the world to me when someone lets me know how much they appreciate me and how glad they are to have me in their life, so why not spread that good feeling around. Make someone feel good about the kindness they have shared and that kindness will most certainly continue. Pass along a kind word and maybe, just maybe, we can make this world a better place. Now, go tell someone you love them.

“When I look back on my life, I want to know that I lived, loved and inspired” -Katelyn Caruso-Sharpe

*This post is dedicated to my grandfather, Louis C. who showed me unconditional love and taught be how to be a kind and respectable person and my friend Sean D. who showed me extreme kindness when others did not. May you both find eternal happiness in heaven. Fly high <3

Life Is An Adventure, Explore Everything

It has been a few months since I last wrote on here, please forgive me for that. There have been a lot of changes going on lately and I have been out and about adventuring in my spare time. These adventures are what created the inspiration for todays post (in case you couldn’t tell from the title.)

My best friend and I are notorious for being history fanatics and we’ll generally stop for anything that looks remotely interesting, old or bizarre. We like to jump at any opportunity we find to learn about the past. What happened years ago had some kind of effect on how things are today and that I find absolutely fascinating.

Recently we were on our way home from visiting a friend when we came across an old fort that we had passed many times on that same road trip. Although it was cold and we were very tired from the journey, we decided it was time to stop and see the fort. We stopped, walked around the outside for a bit but we weren’t too impressed and decided we should go home and explore another day when it was warmer. We stopped on our way out and noticed part of the fort we couldn’t see before because it was hidden by the large grassy walls that now looked like giant hills. What we found was incredible! These large barracks stood before us in an open area inside of the fort. Had we not stopped we would have never even have guessed there would be something so magnificent inside of those walls.

We had passed that site at least three times previously and never knew what was hidden behind the grassy mounds. How is it possible to miss such a huge, beautiful and historic landmark? This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. My friend and I like to go to the beach in the summer and right behind that beach is a historic battle field from around the 1700′s I believe. It doesn’t look like much now but there are some statues and plaques that have information on them. This past summer we actually walked around and what we found shocked us! There was the remnants of another old fort, a grave with four bodies that were found while creating a new road and the most shocking was a mass grave with a statue that you could clearly see from the beach! Again I ask, how do we miss such things that are clearly all around us?

The answer is simple, we don’t tend to stray off of the beaten path. But why is this? How is it that we know there are so many things around us but we don’t bother taking steps in a different direction than the one we are traveling? It’s all about straying outside of the comfort zone which is tough since we are built to enjoy comfort. We like to know where we’re going, what we’re doing and why we’re doing that. Without reason we feel lost and that is one of the problems we face.

“Not all who wander are lost,” A famous quote by J.R.R. Tolkien taken from The Lord of the Rings. This holds so much truth to it. We fear being lost when in reality, getting lost may just be wandering in a different direction. We learn set ways to do things. Lets use the most common example I can think of, a math problem. We have an outcome that we are trying to get to, in this case it will be the number 4. The first equation you think of is 2+2=4. This is a classic way to reach your end result but how many people say 1+3 or 47-43? There is more than one way to reach the same outcome and few of us are comfortable trying it.

We are given the chance to learn a much as we can retain in our brains. We have the entire world to explore and many opportunities to learn something new. Sometimes the best places to explore are hidden in plain sight and we are so set on wearing these blinders that we do not see the opportunity around us. It doesn’t have to be some epiphany creating, mind-blowing fact that we learn. It can be something simple, interesting or even boring but it is something learned and gaining knowledge is an opportunity that we should jump at.

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*Pictures taken from our trip to Fort Crown Point, NY 2013

Permanent Roles vs. Appearances on Life’s Stage

It seems like I’m on another rant about an inspirational quote from a T.V. show. For some reason my nostalgia is bringing me back to when this quote first gave me the drive to take the next step in my life. Enough dilly dallying, time to let you in on what I’m talking about. In the show, the main character was trying to figure out where her life was going, with school, with her love life and with her future in general. She then received this advice,

“The older you get the more you realize some people should be around for your entire life and others should just make an appearance.”

It is actually pretty harsh when you really think about it. I mean, we don’t want to accept the fact that some people who may be our friends now may not be there forever.But how can that be when you are so close to them or they are such a good friend to you?

When you’re a kid, things are much more simple although maybe they didn’t seem that way at the time. Maybe you got in a fight with your best friend from kindergarten because they ate the giraffe animal cracker that you already called but you knew the next day when you came in that you would be best friends again. In reality, we see it in elementary school and then again when we leave for college or enter the work force and join the real world. When you first get to school, you make a bunch of new friends because they are in your class. Being in the same class is the first common bond that kids generate. The best example is the playground during recess. Most kids are spending time with someone else from their class even if they want to do different things like one wants to go on the swings and the other wants to play on the see saw.

The same thing happens in the real world. When you work with someone or share a major or a class with them you share a common bond. You have something to talk about no matter what your other similarities or differences may be. We like comfort and knowing you always have something to talk about with someone is comforting. But sometimes we end up in totally new situations outside of our comfort zones where we are transitioning from one point in our life to the next. This is when we generally meet those who are new and have something important to teach us.

What happens is that we don’t always meet the people we want to find, instead we come across the people who help us find what we really want. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, we should learn from what comes our way and each person that come across our path has a lesson to share that we either learn from and use it on our journey or we don’t listen and we miss out. Just because a person isn’t in your life forever doesn’t mean they don’t have something valuable to teach you. It means that their lessons, help and guidance was only needed for that amount of time and from that point on it is your own responsibility to take what you learned from them and figure out how to progress.

Now the people who just make an appearance can be either good or bad, they can’t all be clumped into one category. Sometimes it may be an ex or a former friend who teaches you that trusting people is an important and necessary part to any relationship or friendship but that you shouldn’t place your trust in just anyone. Just the opposite can happen as well. You may meet someone who is a truly great friend  and an amazing person with the “perfect” life. Then you  learn that in reality, despite how good a person can be or how incredible they are, they aren’t always immune to some of the darker things in life and you may watch as they crack and slip into a place where they can’t recover from.

It is hard to tell who is a permanent member of the cast of your life and who is just making an appearance. There is no way you can tell that someone will be in your life forever or that someone may stay out of your life forever. Just recently some of my friends who I haven’t kept in touch with over the years as much as I would have liked to, ended up surprising me. When I needed someone they were there, even though they may not realize it, it surprised and pleased me to know that they gave to me more than I expected from them and that’s their attention, concern and understanding.  This is why it is important to cherish each relationship you have and understand that while it may not last forever, it is important to the here and now which does end up shaping the future.

What I hope you take from this is that just because someone is a lead character in the reality series that is your life doesn’t mean that they’ll be  featured in every season. Also, sometimes the most memorable or educational episode is the one with the guest star who made that random appearance.  Both have their roles in your life and don’t exclude one or the other based on what category you believe they are in. Every character plays an important part and when we learn to  appreciate those parts that won’t be around forever and accept when it is time they make their exit, we begin to understand the grand scheme of things just a little bit more.

The Grand Essentials of Happiness

Recently I heard this quote. “The grand essentials of happiness are these three things, something to do, something to love and something to hope for” Alright, it’s totally cheesy and cliche but before you judge it lets break it down. We spend our entire life searching for happiness, after all it is that “light at the end of the tunnel” so to speak. But what really makes us happy? My whole life has been spent pushing forward wanting more and knowing what I want and that’s success. Maybe, just maybe some of you feel the same way about that. For some people finding their true love would be finding their true happiness. Happiness is different for everyone, or so we think. When you look more into it happiness seems to fall into at least one of these three categories. So lets break it down shall we?

“Something to Do”

This can be summed up in one word, “Purpose.” Most everyone wants to feel like they have some kind of purpose or reason why they are here. Being human comes with the automatic assumption that we are placed here to do something, whether its big or small, but in the end we need to leave our mark in order to leave our legacy and be remembered. Purpose gives us the drive to strive for more and the push to keep moving forward in life.

“Something to Love”

This can mean a lot of different things, it’s all up to interpretation. Whether it’s a person that we are in love with or something we do that we love. Let’s look at the first interpretation. When you have someone there to love, it may be that someone to help you grow into the person you are meant to become. Love can be a journey of growth and self awareness which allows us to reach a level of inner peace and acceptance. Through a significant other accepting you, it can become easier to accept yourself. The second interpretation is finding some kind of activity, hobby or object that brings you happiness. When we truly enjoy something, it can help us learn about ourselves and grow in a different way, a way that can be learned only through solidarity. It can also help bring us back to earth, calm us down and help us re-balance our lives.

“Something to Hope For”

What is our life without hope. Having something to hope for allows us to believe that there is something better out there and something more for us to push for than just the hum drum of routine life. If we didn’t have hope, we would probably go through our entire existence in a dulled continuance where things remain unchanged due to a severe lack of motivation. Hope is our motivation to do great things, to expect great things and to believe that  good will come despite the hard times that will naturally ensue any grand conquest. Hope is what keeps us moving towards something better in life.

So what does it come down to, “The grand essentials of happiness are these three things, something to do, something to love and something to hope for.”  It is the simple things in life that give us the strength to get through our every day lives and reach incredible achievements.

(P.S. This rant was provoked by one of my favorite t.v. shows. Inspiration comes from anywhere)

Breakups and Makeups

We’ve all heard about this topic before, we’ve probably looked to friends family and of course the internet for advice to deal with the ever awful breakup. They’re never easy and although we try to handle it as best as possible, occasionally we may all go a little kooky when pushed over the edge. This is what I’ve found to work best.

1.) Spoiler Alert: It’s okay to spoil yourself every now and then and this is the time to do it. Don’t go crazy and buy a new Ferrari but maybe snatch up those shoes you’ve had your eye on.

2.) Ahh Day Spa Day: Use those wonderful pinterest/youtube ideas and create an at home spa. Relax, unwind and feel like you’re worth the royal treatment because you are!

3.) Indiana Jones Status: Although many of us would rather sit at home watching romance movies, it’s better to get up and go do something. Go out with the intention to learn and see something new before you get home. You never know what you will find.

4.) Fabulous Foods: Why do we always go back to ice cream when we’re upset. Why not have the whole feast! Make your favorite foods and have a dinner party with good friends and good food.

5.) Just a Night on the Town: Nothing makes us feel better than attention and compliments. Sometimes you just have to dress to the nines and go out looking glamorous and soon you will feel pretty glamorous too.

6.) Crafty Fun: Even if you can’t craft to save your life, try to create something. From painting a dresser to building a popsicle stick house, it will take your mind off of things and you may get something awesome out of it.

7.) Next Scene: Change the scenery up a bit. Re arrange your room/apartment. Make things look different since now you are starting a different chapter in your life.

8.) Musical Melody: Listen to positive upbeat music that will make you feel optimistic and ambitious. Music is a powerful thing and it can drive you to accomplish some incredible things if you get the right playlist.

9.) Go for Gold: Set some goals for yourself. Whether you want to explore a new place, learn a new skill or meet new people, figure out what you want to do and when you want to accomplish it by. Remember to be reasonable though.

10.) True Love: Take a moment and remember the people who really do love you and care about you. After breakups we feel unloved most times so fix that and spend time around people who you know already love you.

Overcoming Obstacles

Life throws us many challenges on the daily. Let’s be honest, the real world isn’t anything like we thought it would be when we were children. We always wanted to have a glamorous job, live outstanding lives and be that person that we always admired. While that is possible, it can only be attained through hard work, dedication and drive. But how do we keep the drive going? Sometimes it’s hard to keep going when you feel like the outcome you want isn’t going to happen. I mean, what’s the point of pushing forward when you’re going absolutely nowhere? But maybe, just maybe we’ve been pushing ourselves in the wrong direction. When you hit a road block you aren’t supposed to sit there and hope someone will move it so you can continue on your journey. Sometimes you have to stop the car, turn around and reroute the GPS to get to the original destination. Who knows, the trip could end up being much more interesting when you head in a different direction or you could find yourself wanting to go to a different destination altogether. It definitely feels awful being stuck in a rut but all you can do it re-evaluate your life and figure out what you have to do to get where you want to be in life.