Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Secret To My Happiness: Taste Buds

People ask me all the time why I'm so happy.  They want to know the secrets to my joy.  People want to sit with me chat about how to find a better life.  To be honest, I have no idea how I ended up this way, but today, I found one clue to my contentment.

This morning I watched a video I had heard many times before.  It was Brene Brown's Ted talk on vulnerability. (  Every time I listen to her talk I know that I need to be vulnerable, I need to be comfortable with being open to others, but today something struck me that I never noticed before.

In the talk, Brene Brown suggests that because we don't want to be vulnerable with others we find ourselves not living a wholehearted life.  And because we don't live wholehearted lives, we start to numb ourselves with food, and alcohol, and drugs.  But the problem is that we can't selectively numb.  When we numb the things we don't like, we also numb our joy and our capacity to be happy.

It suddenly occurred to me, could my 8th grade taste buds, the taste buds that keep me from drinking coffee and wine, that keep me from going wine tasting, do those taste buds actually keep me happy?  There have been MULTIPLE times when life is hard, when things feel overwhelming, when people say to me "If only you like wine..."  or "You need to learn to drink."  But instead of drinking, I just sit in the problem, I face it head on.  I don't escape it, I soak in it because there's no escape for me.  On the flip side when things are good, I toast with a Coca-cola.  I get to feel it all.  The horrible and wonderful.

Maybe the secret to happiness is not numbing yourself from being unhappy, but rather allowing yourself to feel unhappy in order to also allow yourself joy.  And maybe, just maybe, I totally did that on accident, by have taste buds that hate the things that numb.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Gentle Slope

There is one thing that is true about anything that holds you down, haunts you, ruins what is good; it never happens obviously.

Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one--the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts...      -C S Lewis

What if you replaced the word "Hell" with "the loss of a dream" or "the distance between you and your spouse" or "a debt so great you can't get out"?  Indeed the safest road to the loss of a dream is the gradual one--the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts..."

Evil doesn't come crashing in on you because you would notice it.  Instead, it is usually just tiny baby steps and then you turn around you are 100 miles off course.

Things that are harmful sneak their way in.  It's that decision to confide in your attractive coworker rather than you spouse.  Then it's just a casual lunch.  Then it's just a quick drink after work.

Maybe you took that job that was a little deceitful, but it payed more.  And sure you had to lie to one client, but it didn't really hurt anyone.  And yah, you are now having to work extra hours to cover up the lies you told, but the extra money is good for your family.

You're going to think about the reality of heaven and hell... tomorrow.

Everyday you are making tiny little decisions.  Changes are happening so slight that you don't even notice, but what if you made a time-lapse of your choices?  What will these small choices look like in 30 years?

Don't go down the gentle slope.  Instead choose to walk uphill, even if it's hard, even if you are tired. You won't regret it.


If you are interested in getting updates on my book:  50 Things I Personally Learned from Famous People, click here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The hare got a bad rap...

Alright, I'm just gonna say it.... and you might hate it, but the truth is sometimes the hare wins.  We don't like to admit it.  We don't want to talk about it.  We want to believe that if we work really hard and keep going, in the end we will win.

But the truth is.  If you put a hare and a tortoise in a sprint.  The hare will win.

(I never could really figure out why the hare was so evil anyway, we all procrastinate....)

Anyway, I think the point really should be that we should do what we are made for.  If the tortoise tries to sprint, he will lose.  If the hare races marathons, he will lose.

If they both stuck to what they would good at, they could both win.

And isn't that what makes the world is a better place?  What race should you be in?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Mountains or Waterfalls?

Here we are in Scotland, my dad and I.  The creative and the engineer traveling together...  I like to sleep in, he likes to get up and get going.  I like to enjoy the journey, he likes getting to the destination.  It can be interesting at times trying to get the two of us to agree on how to travel.

We were on our way to Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles.  We're swerving along on the windy highway, windshield wipers intermittently swiping, and my dad surprises me by saying he would prefer to not hike up there.  I told him I was going.  

He took me to a tourist office where they made it VERY clear that it was a bad idea to go up there.  A storm was moving in and not only was there 100% chance of rain, but there would also be horrible fog up there and most likely, snow.  I didn't bring the right clothes for any of that.  So, alas, with arms folded, I agreed.  There would be no hike to the hop of Ben Nevis.  It was heart breaking for me.  I love to travel because I love the beauty of nature.  I love the adventure of hiking to unknown places.  I love when my eyes see new sights.

We were staying in Fort William and we agreed to leave a day early because if we weren't hiking to Ben Nevis, there was no reason to be there.  On the way out of town, my disappointment grew.  Then the strangest thing happened.  I started noticing waterfalls... everywhere.  And I mean everywhere.

The rain was coming down so aggressively, waterfalls were spontaneous forming on the mountain-sides, by creek sides, in fields and even right by the road.  It. was. gorgeous.

I loved it.  I was the paparazzi of waterfalls.  My dad laughed at me as I repeatedly tried to get pictures of them.  

Here's one of my more successful shots just off to the side of the highway:

I know that I should be disappointed that I didn't get climb Ben Nevis, but honestly, I have never seen anything like this.  I know that mountain will be there the next time I go,  but I have no idea if I will ever see waterfalls like that again.  I imagine that in life you can be disappointed at the mountain you didn't climb or you can be in awe at the waterfalls around you.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Find Your Carrot

So here I am walking up The Ladder.  That part of the Runyon Canyon Trail that makes people cry  (and where I yelled at Channing Tatum.)  I just made it to the top and I'm pretty sure I'm gonna pass out, but then, this cute guy passes me.  He's jogging just little bit faster than I'm walking...  With a slight smile, I think "I can keep up with him."

So there I am, the rabbit with the carrot on the string right in front of me.

I was already pretty much done at the top of The Ladder and now I had jogged to keep up with this guy.  Slowly, the distance between he and I was getting larger.  And then we got to the stairs.

I only take stairs two at a time.  Well, he takes them one at a time.  At the top of the first set of stairs I'm not far from him.  By the time we get to the top of the second set of stairs,  I'm just behind him and then he starts up the third set of stairs.  I'm breathing like a beached whale, I'm sweating like a crazy person and I'm pretty sure I wasn't going to make it up this third set of stairs.  So, I stop and look up at the stair case that I just can't conquer.

And then.

He turns and with a little nod of his head, he smiles and says, "Come on."

Well, ok.

And without thinking twice, I start taking the stairs two at a time.

About two steps from the top I know something is wrong.  And as my foot hits the final stair, chills go up my spine and all the hair on the back of my neck stand up.  Yep, I'm gonna puke.

I know that no matter how many steps I take two by two, throwing up will definitely not impress him.  So, I just stop and breath deeply.  Don't throw up, don't throw up.

By the time I've collected myself, I look up and the carrot is gone.  And then I laugh because I just did something I didn't think I could ever do. All it took was a cute guy.

But why did I think I couldn't do it in the first place?

Because we don't give ourselves enough credit.  I didn't need that guy to tempt me to keep going.  I could have done it on my own.  I had it inside of me.  I had the ability to keep going without any outside motivation, but if it had been up to me, I would have stopped at the top of The Ladder.  Look how much more I did.

Do you give yourself enough credit?  I bet you can go further than you think.  I bet you can accomplish that thing that you think is impossible.

And maybe you just need to find your carrot.  What motivates you to succeed?  Find it, put it in front of you and keep going.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dreaded Hill

Today I hiked to the top of Dreaded Hill.  It's a really tough hike as you can imagine by the name…

When I got to the top, I was inundated by a bunch of bad news texts.  Nothing earth shattering, but just disheartening.

I sat back and looked at the beautiful view.  It was such a strong contradiction to the ugly news on the screen of my phone.

As I walked down the hill, my eyes were fixed on the ground.   One wrong step can be a pretty rough injury on the way back down.

Suddenly, one footprint grabbed my attention.  It was dramatically smaller than the rest.  It must have been a little boy or little girl tagging along with their dad on his hike.  I realized, that little one had more courage than everyone else.  It takes a strong person to be that little and take on a hill that big.

And it became a perfect analogy for my life at that moment.  In the face of bad news, in the face of changes around the corner, I would be okay I could be as strong and as courageous as this little one.  (And to remember where my strength comes from…)

I pulled out my phone inspired by whoever wore this shoe.  I decided to take a picture of the footprint and put it over my desk reminding myself that I can conquer things that are too hard, too big.

If I could only find the person wearing that shoe and find out their secret.

As I stepped back from taking the picture, I saw something I never expected.

It was my footprint.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Keep going.

My friend, Matt, and I were hiking up in the Hollywood Hills the other day and decided to take a trip to the Hollywood Sign.  It used to be illegal to hike to the Hollywood sign, but I heard a rumor that it's now allowed.  Thus, we headed up that way.  (I figured we could just turn back if we saw no trespassing signs).

Now, I didn't see any signs, but people obviously don't do this very often as Matt and I seemed to (at times) be making our own path.  There were quite a few times when I thought "I'm pretty sure if I lost my footing I would slide right down the side of this hill."

When Matt and I finally got to the end of our hike, we sat back and took in the most amazing view of Los Angeles I had ever seen… and I'm not exaggerating.  To our right, the ocean went on as far as the eye could see, the valley spread out in front of us and downtown stood strong to our left.

Absolutely gorgeous.

And there we were, exhausted, sweaty, covered head to toe in dirt and absolutely intoxicated by the view.

There were plenty of times when we thought about stopping, wondering if it was safe, wondering if we should turn back, but it wasn't until we took in that view that I realized one amazing thing.  You only get to the truly great places when you keep going at the point where everyone else stops.  Keep going.