A Dream to Build a Life On

What if. Those are two words that embody a dream, a vision, or a wish. They are a scary combination when not used properly, but have changed lives and improved mankind when used in a positive manner. “What if” has crafted human evolution for thousands of years, raised by our constant desire to peek around the corner and see if we can glimpse the edge of infinity.


And now I ask myself, “what if?”


What does a perfect day look like? Close your eyes and try to focus. Mull that question over and over: if you had unlimited resources, money in the bank, and frequent flier miles that would make any Fortune 500 CEO jealous, what would your perfect day look like from start to finish?


As a public service (and, because I want to brag a little), here’s my perfect day:

Its amazing how I don’t need an alarm anymore; I love to get up in the morning. Stretching and warming up, I set the coffee pot to a timer and jog out the door. I need to make it to the beach in 10 minutes for my morning routine, but I needn’t worry; my house is 5 minutes from the beach here in Hawaii.


I get there in plenty of time to say hi to the other attendees; we’ve been going as a group to the same beach for a while now. Then it begins; a 10-minute meditation session, followed by a exercise regimen that leaves me invigorated and ready for anything. Once we finish, its off to the breakfast wagon parked by the beach, and a healthy meal for all.


Now I’m back at my place, just in time for hot coffee. Taking a quick shower and changing clothes, I check my calendar to see which “office” I should use today: the spare room I’ve converted into an office/studio, or the back deck. As it turns out, its “studio” day. Firing up the Mac and blazing through my emails and notifications, I prep my show notes for the podcast recording I need to do today. However, “need” may be too strong a word; interviewing Sir Richard Branson for my podcast is hardly a “need”, and more of a “holy s*** I can’t believe I’m talking to Sir Richard Branson” moment…


The recording is done; the interview was amazing, Sir Richard was an awesome guest, and the podcast is sure to delight the listeners. I finish my other little jobs for the day (an article here, a blog post there, some guest posts) in a few hours, then its off to the trails. Today it’s a new trail through the mountains, and I’m pushing myself harder than I ever have. However, its not too hard; my constant stream (addiction?) of audiobooks keep me company until I reach the top.


As the day winds to a close and I prepare to meet friends for dinner in town, my phone chirps to remind me of something. I look at it and smile: its a reminder that my flight leaving for my home state and my monthly visit with family and friends leaves Honolulu tomorrow evening.


After all, even perfect days have red-eye flights.


This post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 3


The Cemetery Monologues

I was meditating in a cemetery.


Before you start getting on my case about finding other quiet places to ply my practice, hear me out. I was meditating in the Valley of the Temples, a cemetery and group of different houses of worship. The valley is known for the Byodo-In Temple; the largest Buddhist temple in the state of Hawaii and a popular attraction for pilgrims and tourists alike. And that’s where I found myself with my roommate: walking around the serene surroundings and taking in the sights.


Behind the temple is a small alcove with an awning and offering area, where worshippers come to offer prayer flags and flowers. Its a quiet spot, and I found myself drawn to the area. No one was around and the stillness so peaceful, I decided to silence my phone, put the DLSR away, and start a small meditation session. And it couldn’t have been at a better time. The chatter in my head was so deafening, I was unable to really focus on the beauty of the moment and the peacefulness of the surroundings. My mind was asking “why did I move here” and “why did I give up so much”, and I didn’t have the answer. What was my “why”?


I had just moved to the islands a mere two days before in a mood of what I like to call “daring stupidity” (daring,yes; stupid… time will tell). I had left my comfortable job and life in Wisconsin to start something different and build my life as a writer and freelancer (shameless self-promotion here: I’m open for clients!); selling or giving away most of my possessions, leaving a good-paying supervisory position to be demoted within the same company so I can at least keep a paycheck coming in, and giving up a nice apartment (no high-rise Taj Mahal, but it was peaceful) to live on an air mattress in Hawaii’s notoriously high-priced apartments. Why was I doing all this? Why was I there? And why were my legs falling asleep on the bench?


Note to self: sit more comfortably during a session. As for the answers to all the other questions, a little introspection was in order.


I crave freedom. Its not the “cool thing” to be a freelancer and digital nomad in the world I grew up in; in fact, far from it. My upbringing was centered around the classic 1950s vision of suburban Americana: graduate from high school (or, if you want to be all high-falutin’, college), marry the sweetheart, buy the suburban home, get the 9-5, and come home to the evening paper and your dinner jacket.


The 9-5 wasn’t just a way of life, it was the only life.


And I wasn’t having any of it. I wanted the freedom to choose my work: from when I worked, to how I worked, to who I worked for, and how much I got paid. I wanted the freedom to be me, whatever that may be. As humans, we are always evolving; constantly vying for the higher plane of ourselves.And while some people find their evolution inside a retail store, factory line, or office cubicle, I find my evolution in front of my laptop.


Maybe the meditation at the temple helped the post-move jitters, maybe it provided some important introspection into my “why” and my purpose, and maybe, just maybe, it gave me a path. I got up from the pavilion, and started walking back to our rental car. And the constant chatter of “why?” in my head was replaced with one word.





This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 1 (and 2)

Freedom in the Time of Retail

I almost didn’t want to do this blog post, for two reasons. First, I was tired from a day in my retail job; I don’t work 40+ hours every week, but working a job that you know isn’t what you want to do with your life saps energy out of anyone. Second, and more selfishly…


…I didn’t want to face facts.


Sure: I can just keep on plugging away at my business and continue to let my habits derail me time after time. Then, when I look back at all the wasted time, I’ll just shrug my shoulders and say “Oh well, better luck next week”. But this becomes what comedian Fred Allen termed “a Treadmill to Oblivion”; the endless cycle that uses your energy but doesn’t take you anywhere.


So what are my biggest challenges to finding freedom? The first challenge would be finding the energy.


Nothing is more morale-draining than retail (can I get an amen, retail homies!!!). Sure, there is the satisfaction of a job well done and the uplift you can get out of a nice compliment from a customer, but the tedium and sameness can reduce those of us with ideas bigger than a big-box store to tired plastic bags, floating in the wind.

The second challenge? Focus. Last night was a “eureka!” moment for me; I was rifling through a suitcase (currently, I am living out of two) looking for a notebook, when I found a paper with ideas scratched on it. Then, with the notes at my side, I logged into my email account for a little housecleaning and to really take a hard look at what I’ve been spending my time and energy on. The results shocked me. I had at least 7 active business ideas on the note paper, with more ideas (and several job application emails) in my inbox. I had taken the focus I should have had on my main freedom business idea, and instead freaked out and started peppering the internet with applications and other research.


Which leads me to the third challenge. Fear. This is the one thing I did NOT want to admit. The fear to step out into the unknown and do something different always makes my knees knock, but I knew I had the ability to overcome it. After all, I’m writing this post from a rented apartment in Hawaii, after spending the previous 26 years in my home state of Wisconsin, and making the decision to become uncomfortable and do something different.


Perhaps that will be the first challenge to crumble.


BLOG NOTE: This post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge