Quarter Life

20Jun 2015

Fleas, those annoying little creatures that can make your pet’s life an itchy hell, have one truly remarkable trait. They can jump 100x their own height, to put that it human terms it would mean that Lebron James would be able to jump 680 feet in the air. That’s an INSANE statistic.

Every single flea has that ability at birth. A few years ago scientists conducted an experiment where they took a small cardboard box, placed some microphones in it, put in a number of fleas and then closed the box.

The scientists immediately began listening and all they could hear was Thwack, Thwack, Thwack as the fleas jumped and smacked their heads into the top of the cardboard box. As time went on eventually the noises began to decrease. Once they stopped the scientists opened up the box expecting to find all of the fleas knocked unconscious.

What they found, surprised them. The fleas were still jumping as fast as ever but they had stopped jumping at there full capacity. They had capped themselves in order to conform to the reality of living in the box.

The fleas were capable of jumping 100x their height, they maintained all of that ability, but they consciously chose to NOT live up to their potential because they were put into a box. A decision they had no control over, it was a matter of survival to cease jumping at their full potential.

In life we are born with a beautiful set of abilities and gifts. They may not be as obvious as the fleas ability to jump 100x their height, but there are just as remarkable. As we grow up, even though we 100% retain our ability, we don’t 100% use it. 

Just like the fleas we’ve been put into boxes that cap our potential. Unlike the fleas we can make the choice to leave the box. It may take some hard work and making some really tough decision but you can take the CAP off of your life and LIVE it to the fullest extent of your gifts and talents.

The world needs more of YOU living a life of your own dreams and not subjugating yourself to the whims and desires of others. Don’t willingly accept the box life has placed you in to this point. 

Decide to ESCAPE it. RIP the cap off of YOU and let it shine for the whole world to see!

 

12Jun 2015

For those of you who know me, I proudly wear the mantle and title of being a Geek! When I sit and reflect on what that means to me, how it has defined me? I come to realize that being a geek can teach you some of the best life lessons imaginable… for FREE.  Welllll almost free, it may cost you a movie ticket and popcorn, or the price of an entire Series box set… but for the most part it’s FREE!

Being a geek isn’t just watching Star Wars and playing Dungeons and Dragons… don’t get me wrong those are two amazing aspects of it, but that is not what it is all about.  The reason why we are geeks is because something within our Fandoms, be it Star Wars, Doctor Who, Star Trek, our favorite fantasy novels, or Firefly, resonates with us.

It strikes a chord within our souls.

One day, I hear my Dad call to me from the family room of our home.

“Patrick, come in here and watch this movie. You have to see it”

When you are 7 years old, sitting down to watch a movie just you and your dad, is one of the best moments in the world. So I excitedly bound into the room and hop on the couch. For the next two hours I sat mesmerized by the flying spaceships, colored lightsabers and the allure of Jedi Powers.  The movie Dad called me into watch was none other than…

Geeks love Star Wars

Those two hours spurred an urge within me to ravenously read Star Wars books and spawned conversations with new friends. It drew me out of my comfort zone, teaching me how to read better and how to socialize with new people.

These conversations with my new friends led me to read fantasy books and participate in roleplaying games (RPGs). This sounds innocuous by itself, yet as a child people bullied me. By reading fantasy books or pretending to be a character in an RPG allowed me to escape reality for a few hours. It allowed me to safely express the person deep within me.

The person that society (albeit kid society) tried to stifle and shut down. Playing Dungeons and Dragons taught me about morality and how being lawful good is no fun but chaotic good can allow you to achieve some pretty remarkable things.  It taught me that normal dies are boring and that not much is better than rolling a critical hit!

 

 

 

 

 

Living in those worlds, reading all those books, and watching so many science fiction shows provides great life lessons. Here are a few highlights of what some of my favorite novels, TV shows and movies taught me.

The Sword of Truth

Taught me:

a.)    The Wizard’s First rule which states that “People are stupid. They can be made to believe any lie because they want to believe it’s true or because they are afraid it is true.” When I sat and thought about that I began to realize how many “truths” I believed without ever investigating to see if they were true!  It taught me to stop blindly accept things as presented to me and to instead challenge/investigate everything… to be inquisitive at heart.

Doctor Who             

Taught me:

a.)    That curiosity counts; life is long and if you aren’t curious, it will be BORING!!! So go out, find something, and as the Doctor says “poke it with a stick”

b.)    That people and Life are amazing; the world is full of joyous wonders.  Thru the relationships you make and the things you do.  You just need to be unafraid to go against the status quo (see Wizard’s First Rule and Curiosity counts!)

c.)     To embrace new experiences; when life presents you a new experience GO FOR IT!  It will take you places you would never imagine or at the very least teach you something brand new about yourself.

d.)    That you can always recreate yourself; the future can be re-written and you don’t need to be a Time Lord to do it.  Remember that your future is wide open.  What you have done doesn’t define what you will do.  You don’t need to be on the cusp of death to regenerate your life… if you feel like you’re stagnating. MAKE A CHANGE! Go get curious and embrace some new experiences.

Firefly

Taught me:

a.)    That you Can’t Stop The Signal; you have a purpose beating inside your soul and no matter what society may try to do and force upon you. You can’t… you CAN’T STOP THE SIGNAL!  You are you and you are valuable and wonderful and nothing can stop you

b.)    That just because you were on the losing side, doesn’t mean you were on the wrong one; in life you may fail.  You may go for broke and lose.  It doesn’t mean you were wrong.  It means you had the guts to fight for what you believe in and that makes you mighty.

c.)     That “When you can’t run anymore, you crawl… and when you can’t do that you find someone to carry you”; life is a long journey.  You are going to get banged up, beaten down and a whole slew of generally unpleasant things will happen.  You don’t have to go thru it alone.  Find a crew to help you out and you’ll keep flying.

Star Wars                

Taught me:

a.)    “Do or do not, there is no try”; in life trying won’t get you anywhere.  You either have to do the work to achieve your goals or you do not do the work and stay where you are.

b.)    “Don’t tell me the odds”; when you look at what successful people have accomplished in life… the odds were almost always stacked against them.  Nobody believed they could do it.  So don’t listen to the odds… don’t even look at them.  If you want to do something just DO IT.

c.)     “I can’t believe it”-Luke “That is why you fail”- Yoda; if you are pursuing a goal, a dream or a passion. You need to BELIEVE in it, with all of your heart.  If you’re not 100% committed to the actions you take in life you will fail.  No amount of intelligence or hard work will ever be able to compensate for believing in yourself and that you are doing.

Being a geek taught me to embrace myself for who I am, to learn that ordinary people are capable of EXTRAORDINARY things, that my future is mine and can be written to my exact specifications, and that anything is indeed possible!

May you find inspiration in these words and the courage to be unafraid to let out your…

Geek

 

20May 2015

We are all pushed everyday. We are either pushed by external forces (bosses, spouses, peer groups, etc.) or by internal forces (our beliefs, morals, boundaries, etc.) These forces tend to define our world and decide the world in which we live.

If you are a citizen of the United States that does not sound like living in the land of the free does it? Where in the equation is our freedom exercised?

A lot of people would say that the freedom comes in the choices we make. We choose to accept that specific job, we choose to marry our partner, we choose whom we hang out with. Conversely we choose our beliefs, we choose our morals, and we set our own boundaries.

But is that the real truth? Is that where our freedom lies?

I don’t believe it is. Freedom doesn’t come from making choices that fit within the social paradigm (for external choices) and the majority, if not all, of our morals and beliefs stem from what we were taught as children. That is not much of a choice at all.

So there we stand day in and day out being pushed in different directions by forces we were truly free to choose. That’s why you are at home on Sunday at 7 o’clock and your throat gets tight as you start to think about work the next day. That’s why you get that pit in your stomach when you do something your Father wouldn’t approve of.

When you are not capable of freely expressing yourself and plotting your own course your body will tighten up and it will resist. It will make you worry, get you sick or just in general stress you out. Long story short it breeds a gnawing feeling of frustration that you cannot shake. No matter how many raises you get or how great your life looks on paper.

You’re out of balance and out of control and being pushed down a path you didn’t truly choose.

freedom

So what do you do? How can you counteract these feelings? It’s simple and totally counter-intuitive advice… but the key is you need to stop resisting.

Imagine the external and internal forces I described are the rushing water of a river. Anything that tries to resist a river eventually erodes, that’s why river banks widen and rough rocks slowly become smooth and round. The more you try to fight the current the more you slowly get beaten up.

Instead you need to go with the flow and let the river take you downstream and eventually the river will fork and you can choose a new path. When life is overwhelming you the instant response is to CHANGE EVERYTHING and you just want to make this monumental shift but that is too hard and you can’t accomplish it. Sure you may try for a little while and fight it but eventually you’ll give up because it was just too hard a task.

What you need to do is say to yourself “Ok, this sucks and is totally not what I want but I can’t do it all at once” once you admit that it will take time you can begin to make small course corrections. Making tiny decision after tiny decision to alter your course then when the opportunity presents itself you will be able to change your path completely.

If you adopt this mentality you will start becoming aware of when those moments of resistance appear. Allowing you the opportunity to actively make a choice not to fight it and adjust accordingly. It is the subtle moments in life paired with the right action that will bring you where you truly wish to go.

Life is every changing and it rolls on and on. If you try to fight with life you’ll never be happy and you’ll never be in control of where you are going. If you embrace it and go with the flow you’ll start looking out at the horizon and see all the different paths you can take along the way.

06May 2015

How do you share your story with the world?

An intensely personal question, without doubt, but one I struggle with regularly. 2015 has been a crazy year from unexpected surgeries, a falling out with a close friend, brutal weather and most importantly my search for purpose.

All of the things I mentioned above brought about some intense soul searching and delving into my past. It involved talking to countless friends and sharing snippets of my story with them. The past ten days I’ve shared the full story with a couple of people and the response I received was incredible. Continue reading

29Apr 2015

Like the steady cadence of a row master’s drum would push ancient Phoenician rowers to power their trireme through the waters of the ancient Mediterranean sea, our words will power and push us throughout are lives.

They are a very powerful tool. Words spoken, written, or thought can shape the very core of who we are, what we stand for and how we stand for it.

Without them we would be silent to the world.

Without them we wouldn’t be able to think our thoughts

Without them all expression would dissipate from this world like fog on a mirror.

There is no doubt in my mind that words are one of the most important parts of human existence. They shape everything yet quite frequently we don’t use them properly.

We may so too much, say too little, say what we don’t mean, say what we do mean at the wrong time or in those really grand moments say the perfect thing at the perfect time to the perfect person. But that is just what is said out loud. The spoken word in and of itself can end friendships, spark relationships, incite countries to war or begin a civil rights movement.

Whew… that is a lot of power!!!

For just some itty bitty words? 

If words can transform the world in that way, if they can alter the entire landscape of a country, a relationship… what can they do to you? On the inside?

Because for every word we speak… there are hundreds or thousands of words thought. Our minds are constantly running verbalizing things that only we can hear. The words we think force us into action or inaction. Those words can bring us up or tear us down.

Unlike the spoken word, which can be stopped mid-sentence, or deleted from the internet, or pulled down from YouTube, the words in our heads don’t stop. In fact they typically repeat!

We form mantras and beliefs that will run over and over again whenever we encounter certain situations. Those mantras control our feelings and our emotions. They make us happy or sad, positive or negative, angry or blissful.

Words… mere words…

So what are we to do? We can’t stop thinking, we can’t stop speaking. That would mean we are dead!!!

What we can do is be mindful of them. Correct our inner monologue. Cut out the words that hurt us, the mantras the hold us back and replace them with the opposite.

The wars that a spoken word can cause pale in comparison to the wars that rage within our own bodies. There isn’t a person here who hasn’t felt the vitriol of their own negative self-talk.

It can be crushing but it can be fixed. I was the victim of it, for years. It got to the point where I was so depressed I thought my life was completely valueless. All because of the words I was speaking to myself and the words I was speaking to others.

It had to stop. I had to stop. So I decided to change. I reached a point in my life where I knew I could either go on “living” the way I had (which wasn’t living at all) or I could say “ENOUGH! NO MORE!” and become someone else.

So that’s what I did. One morning at a time and one Tweet at a time. That’s how I changed my words. Everyday for one year I would wake up, clap my hands and proclaim “TODAY IS A GREAT DAY” and then I would tweet a positive message out into the world.

That’s it that is all I did for one year but it built something with in me. It built a foundation of positivity to create a new life upon. With those two small actions every morning I became a positive person. I quieted the negative self-talk and BELIEVED the positive self-talk.

It was as if I was an 8 year old kid and had woken up in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory… the world around me was now delicious and bright. It was a magical place full of wonder.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Words are powerful… they can start wars, they can end wars.

For me… 5 spoken words and 140 written characters every morning saved my life.

What are your words doing to you?

22Apr 2015

Last night my favorite band, Yellowcard, was in town. I’m obsessed with this band and their music, pretty much every song, just speaks to me. They’ve been around for 15 years and there is hardly a week that goes by where I’m not listening to their albums. Suffice it to say I eagerly anticipate whenever they are touring and when I found out months ago they were coming to my city… I was on those tickets faster than Speedy Gonzalez. 

Moments

This was my 6th time seeing them live and every time they melt my face off with just a purely awesome show. Last night they didn’t disappoint. I got lost in the music and the noise and the atmosphere. One of my closest friends on the planet came in from California this week and went to the show with me. So everything was aligned for a good night, a good memory, a kick ass concert… all of that makes for one of life’s great “moments”.

What I have found from attending Yellowcard is this presence of self. Everything in my life focuses down to just that moment, with the band on stage, a friend by your side and your emotions being evoked by some of the greatest lyrics ever written (in my biased opinion!) When I attend these shows all my problems fade away, I don’t worry about waking up for work tomorrow, I don’t worry about my medical bills, my student loans, my family or any other issues going on in my life. 

All there was is me listening to the concert, fully present in what was happening in THAT moment. The feelings that make me feel alive RIGHT THEN. Its perfection, nothing else that has happened or will happen to you matters. You just have that very moment. THAT is what life needs to be about.

Living YOUR moments. Taking every single day and making sure you are doing or feeling something that makes everything else fade away. 

Now it’s easy to pinpoint concerts or the first kiss with your boyfriend or girlfriend, your child’s first steps, etc. as moments where everything else fades away. I use my concert as an easy example to show the feelings and emotions behind moments. 

The truth is that every single day, if you start to pay attention to it, you can find moments that make you come alive. If you can’t find them… you can start to make them! Take your passions, take your loved ones, take anything that really matters to you and incorporate it into your daily life. 

It doesn’t have to be a big grand gesture either. There is a great story Randy Pausch tells in his book, the Last Lecture. If you don’t know who Randy Pausch is he was a college professor who was dying from terminal cancer. He knew he only had a certain amount of time left to live and he dedicated it to spending it with his family, not worrying about trivial things (such as receiving the correct change), and spreading his message before he passed away.

In the book he told about a time when he was driving in his convertible, late stages in his cancer, and a song he loved came on so he just started belting it as loud as he could and rocking out, fully losing himself for those few minutes. He was by himself, not a single other soul around. As he was singing a friend of his happened to pass him and see him with this giant smile on his face, head bobbing to the music, wind blowing in his hair and enjoying his life to the fullest.

This friend knew that Randy was dying and when she saw got home she emailed him to tell him how amazing it was to see him so happy when he was facing so much adversity. Randy was really moved by this and yes his battle with cancer was a struggle and sometimes you have to put on a brave front. But this friend had caught him in what he called “an unguarded moment”  where she saw him as he is, a fun loving happy man, even in the face of terminal cancer. 

That’s the message I want you to take out of this post…

LIVE YOUR MOMENTS

You never know what may come down the road, and what has happened in the past is gone. Focus on the moment and enjoy it. LIVE IT to the fullest.

Be Happy!

Be Love!

Be YOU!

Life is too short for anything else!

15Apr 2015

When you set upon the path less traveled you are bound to face criticism, people are going to make comments and people who don’t understand very well may attack you. 

the-road-less-travelled

It’s probably one of the hardest parts about going after your dreams . . . of pursuing your purpose. That criticism is what can send you back to the median… send you back to being average and following the script the world wants you to follow.

Is that script you?

In your heart is doing what you’ve been trained to do really what you should be doing? The answer is HELL NO!

In no way, shape or form should you conform to what is expected of you.

Instead go out and EXCEED expectations. Set your dreams so high and lofty that you don’t have time to be afraid, you don’t have time to listen to other’s criticism. If someone doesn’t understand you, if someone criticizes you it is because you are doing what they are afraid to do.

This world is full of average. Have you ever heard of the term ‘Keeping up with the Joneses”? The Joneses are the average. When you keep up with them, you are agreeing to be no different than anyone else.

If there is one thing I’ve found when talking with twenty-somethings is that you are all different. In each and every person who has opened up to me on a deep level, I see this unbelievable spark of pure awesome. This spark that is unique to JUST them. Yet too many of you keep your spark dampered, shuttered or hidden from view.

Why?

Because that spark doesn’t fit with how the world “works” . . .

How the world “works”. . .

how the world “works”. . .

The world works alright, it works at keeping us where we don’t belong. It works at keeping us away from our life purpose. It works to keep us from being truly alive.

When you were a kid, now that was you! The real you, before you were trained by the education system, your friends, television, etc. to agree to this other paradigm. The paradigm that says the only way to get ahead is to work for 40 hours a week (who are we kidding it’s closer to 60), to get an education no matter what loans you have to take out, that you can retire with just a 401k, the only way to own a home is with a mortgage, etc. etc. This paradigm is built to strip away your individuality, to push you away from the true version of you.

criticism

Credit: flickr/12326606@N03

 

When you decide to show your spark and to go live your purpose, criticism will come. Don’t be afraid of it, ignore it! People who are living within the paradigm that you are escaping… they just don’t understand and it is human nature to reject and criticize what cannot be understood.

Instead maintain a deep faith in who you are and that what you are going for is right. Set your dreams higher than the moon. Dreams so large that no criticism can keep you from them.

I see your spark and I want to help you fan it until it is burning so bright and so hot the entire world has to take notice. So that it burns hot enough to fry to a crisp any fears, doubts or criticism that may come your way.

Credit: flickr/droidicus

Credit: flickr/droidicus

12Apr 2015

Today’s quote of the week comes from Elmer Letterman, a well-known life insurance salesman in the 1930’s who said…

A man may fall many times but he won’t be a failure until he says someone pushed him.

After listening to Tim Sanders tell the story of Elmer Letterman, which you can watch here, it’s a three and a half minute video. I googled Elmer Letterman and happened upon the quote.

The reason why this quote struck me is because I have been thinking a lot about failure lately. Reflecting on both my past failures and my fear of future ones. I’m at a turning point in my life where I’m starting to recognize the effect fear has on me and how I respond to it.

In my life, and I’m sure in yours too, we’ve made mistakes, fallen on our ass and in general just royally failed. Sometimes it’s intentional sometimes it is unintentional. The response we have to it is always intentional. 

Which gets me to the trigger of this quote for me… “…someone pushed him” that line just hit me in the gut. Thinking about my past I realized that whenever I failed or faltered and blamed somebody else, I made Zero further progress on that goal. Every single time… it was amazing.

When you give up control of your actions and attach the blame of them on someone or something else, you lose. There is nothing else you can do about it. You’ve thrown up your hands and said this happened because someone else did it. Which instantly means that you can’t fix it only that other person can.

This puts you into an uncontrolled state where your fate is not decided by you. Life cannot be lived that way. No matter what happens, good or bad, it is your responsibility. 

If you stand up and own your failure… you’ve done the number one hardest thing when failing, stand back up! That’s the power of owning your decisions; it allows you to always get back up.

For when you are on your feet you can move forward once again. 

 

08Apr 2015
monopoly

Credit: flickr/wwarby

What if your life was a giant game of monopoly? What if you went around day by day going from Mediterranean Avenue to St. Charles Place to Illinois Avenue wheeling and dealing and plain ole’ busting your ass to own that little slice of heaven known as Park Place. How would that make you feel? 

I don’t know about you but I’d be pretty pissed… my whole life, everything I’ve worked for or am working on is just a game?!?! What the hell are you talking about?

That’s how I feel though as I look back on my twenties. My life was being lived according to an intangible set of rules that if I played it right I would end up owning the board. So I put down my thimble, I rolled my dice and started down Mediterranean Avenue. 

One thing that always frustrated me about Monopoly was that it was LONG. Games seemed to never end and somehow, someway I’d always get screwed out of either the final Train spot OR being able to get a monopoly on any of the properties. It was frustrating as all hell and so were my twenties.

The life I was living, the life you are living is just a giant game of Monopoly. We work to pass go and collect our $200… try to avoid paying taxes… every once and awhile take a chance and never bemoan some Free Parking. The rules were laid out for us before we even began. Our parents and our schools taught us how to play. Graduation meant it was time to pick our piece, put it on the board and begint he game.

Is any of this resonating with you? Frustrating you? How does it feel? For me it makes me want to stand up, let out a scream of frustration and reclaim my life back. It’s MY LIFE DAMN IT, why am I playing it by these inane rules?!?

The truth is that was my life, frustrated, annoyed, not even knowing WHO I was anymore. I was just playing the game, consumed with attaining the mirage of “success” that was given to me all my life. Just trying to check off all those stereotypical boxes for success

[] Do well in school
[] Go to a good college
[] Get a good job
[] Buy a house
[] Work for 40 to 50 years
[] Then retire so I can finally enjoy my life.

When you lose yourself, you lose everything; your happiness, your contentment, your joy. The pieces of life that truly make you come alive. So many people I know have been obsessed with the real life version of Monopoly that we play that they have lost their girlfriends or husbands, they’ve lost their friends, they’ve lost their hobbies.

How do you lose your hobbies? It happens when you follow the rules of “the Game”. It is when you buy into the concept that “Chance” happens by drawing a card. I lost my hobbies when I was around 16 years old and I decided I was becoming an accountant and things went downhill from there.

Now if you’re still reading this you’re probably wondering where the point is. What is he getting at? Well here it is… the point of this entire blog is to highlight the fact that life shouldn’t be a game. There shouldn’t be rules on defining WHO you are and WHAT makes you successful.

It’s time to TAKE BACK YOURSELF.

The beauty of games is you can stop playing them. You don’t have to keep spending your time going around trying to achieve the goals and objectives that somebody else decided were the “best”. 

That’s why I am doing this grand mission of Beyond Quarter Life. So you can stop playing games with your life and instead LIVE your life. To go out and make up your own “rules” where the goals and objectives are actually your passions and your purpose. 

So that you can have an abundance of joy and happiness. So that you can be YOU!

Reflect upon your life as it stands right now. Look at what you are doing everyday and ask yourself…

REALLY and TRULY ask yourself, why am I doing what I am doing? What am I getting out of living life this way? 

When you have your answer, leave a comment or send me an e-mail at Patrick@BeyondQuarterLife.com or post on the Beyond Quarter Life Facebook page. I’d love to hear from you and talk more about it!

19Mar 2015

I’m a people pleaser, at the end of the day it’s that simple. I enjoy helping people and making people happy. Since I was a little blonde haired boy of 4 pretending to be a Ghostbuster so I could save people from ghosts to the bearded 31 year old man I am today it’s always been part of my DNA.

I care too damn much sometimes and it gets me in trouble. Sometime I put too much of my heart into someone or something and I get burned. Now don’t get me wrong of all the problems I could have helping people is not one I am complaining about. I’d much rather get hurt trying to help someone than anything else in this world.

Yet there is a lesson I am beginning to learn that there is a line between helping people with who you are or helping people by being who they want you to be. This is where today’s blog starts… owning who YOU are. Continue reading