Author: Cara

I'm just trying to find my own way in the world.

Moments of Doubt

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I feel like this robot gets down on the self doubt feels. 

There are thoughts that plague me with every step of my direction. Thoughts and real life problems and small statements people make that completely skewer my perspective. Often enough I find myself bogged with doubt. I doubt my path, I doubt whether I’m doing it the right way, I doubt if this is worth the problems I’ve made doing it. So many reasons to give up, the one reason I started to change pales next to them. To live fully, to chase after my dreams while I can. What is that in comparison to money? In comparison to comfort, approval, pride?

I feel as if I’m three months after a break up from an unhappy relationship. I ended it in a state of clarity and euphoria, breaking the chains that were holding me down, certain there was better things out there. Now here I am, alone, with not too much to show for it, thinking about how nice that security was before.

That’s life, though, isn’t it? Uncertainty, doubts, moments where you’re shaken up so hard you can’t focus on the goal ahead. I know that to live the life I want I have to actually do it. There is no “here’s your dream life” card that someone can give me and I can pass all this other nonsense. I know that I have to come back to it, again and again. Still, it is a struggle. I’m not even sure if it gets easier.

I’m writing this because motivation doesn’t always come to you in beautiful, blatant displays of fireworks. Right now I am digging out the trenches and preparing for a long battle. To survive I will have to acknowledge every step of ground I gain, I will have to maintain focus on the greater goal, I will have to carry myself through even when I’ve lost all my weapons and reinforcements aren’t coming. It sounds awful right now, when I’m feeling a little hopeless and just want someone to fix it.

Still, I have the grit to do this. I’m holding on desperately. Even when I lose it, even when I think about running back to that unhappy relationship, I come back to my senses before that “drunk call”. I come here, I write. I make my to do lists. I accomplish one small goal. I let go of the negative. I cultivate positive thoughts.

If you are feeling down trodden, exhausted, or doubtful, I understand. I’m there. You can do this though. You already have everything you need to attain your goals. Whatever you are going after it, it’s already yours. That capability already exists within you, whether you believe it or not. It has to, because if it wasn’t already existing in you, then you wouldn’t be where you are today. You wouldn’t be taking the small or large steps towards a better future. You wouldn’t be questioning the life you have.

My boyfriend and I like to go mountain biking and since he’s quite a bit faster than me, there have been moments where I’ve lost him in the woods. I come to an intersection and become panicked and worried I’m going to get completely lost. Obviously, once I find him I burst out with all this anger and frustration and the ride is ruined. Until one time as I was riding, I’d passed an intersection and I still hadn’t seen him, I started to feel the fear bubbling up inside of me. The doubt started to creep in, the anxiety and anger following close on it’s tail. When suddenly that thought became obviously ridiculous to me. I was afraid that I would be lost, but where was I even going? I was just looking to ride my bike and have a good time. It didn’t matter if I knew where I was on a map, I was riding right in that moment. It was already happening. Isn’t that how it is with everything else?

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I wish I took this beautiful picture, but it’s just an example of a trepidatious path. 

 

And if it’s all already there, if it’s all already happening, then I guess there isn’t any need for all of this doubt, is there? I’m already exactly where I need to be.

 

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Meeting my Idol & Unexpected Revelations

I stood in a vast venue, with a tiny stage and not your average yoga vibe. Still, I was the picture of zen. After an hour and a half class instructed in person by my favorite Youtube human I felt like I was made out of pure bliss, and nothing else. Every word she said had driven home, every unique series of poses and movement lifted my heart and dropped me in to the perfect present moment. With my yoga mat leaning heavily in my hand, I stared around the room waiting for her to come out and the long line of fans to begin meeting the woman we had all come to love in our very own living rooms.

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My mom and I at the Yoga with Adriene New Jersey class.

She came out with a hop, skip, and a jump. A vibrant model of energy she began hugging, talking to, and taking a picture with each person in line. Her energy never dimmed, her genuine smiles never faltered. Every interaction looked warm, loving, and true. Without a doubt it was. I came up to the end of the line scrambling my brain for the perfect words to utter quickly to this woman, explaining what she had given me. She greeted me with a “come into the light!” ushering me forward into the better lighting for the picture. I had seen her do this with many others. With a sincere interest she asked me and my mom for our names, we posed with her for a picture, and then with a last hug we were off and I realized I had no way. There was no way to say all the gratitude that was excitedly humming in me. I quickly stuttered a last sentence, she smiled and said keep in touch, sister! Of course, there isn’t really any way for me to keep in touch. She has two million followers.

Before I go any further, let me explain that this woman in no way is carrying around a giant ego. With so many people avidly following her she doesn’t say things like she’s grateful for us, she says she is grateful for the community. Because with so many people following she took that and encouraged these people to connect to one another. She never shows any insane amount of arrogance, in fact she flippantly maintains a very humble attitude. She has literally two million people following her and in the multiple years I have been watching her videos and reading her community emails and seeing her replies, she has consistently been down to earth, real, and putting others before herself.

 

Now here I am, walking away from finally seeing her in person, blazing with bliss from the class and feeling..empty. Yes, in my wild imagination I thought that she would somehow recognize me from the years of following her. Or maybe we would just have had a more unique connection. I know, it was ridiculous, but it was there. I sat in my moms truck in juxtapose. After an hour and a half of building appreciation for the present moment I was being eddied with disappointment for a magical moment missed.

That was when the truly exciting thing happened. I watched my mind unfold, and as it opened it held a clear, perfect realization. For years I have followed this woman, been built up by her kind words, seen her more than I have my own friends, felt an absolute connection to her. As real as she had kept herself though, nothing is more real than being with someone face to face. I realized I didn’t know her, had never had lunch with her, had never had a complete conversation. I know that is obvious, but when someone says the kindest things you’ve heard all the time, those simple facts fade. Suddenly it was hitting me that while Adriene had helped me through some serious shiza in my life, not one ounce of it was actually real. Her love for the community, for all of the people who follow her is one hundred percent real. Her kindness, generosity, and words were real. I know she means it when she says we are all worthy. But that connection I had imagined was not.

Other connections are. My connection to yoga, to my friends, to the present moment. These are real. Like a brick it hit me, I already have all of these things that I had stored into the idea of one woman. I have my own self love, my own gratitude, my own practice. I have friends who are absolutely as real and unique and exceptional as Adriene is to her friends. I am an Adriene to my friends. Not to say that I have two million followers and can teach the whole world yoga, but I can bring love and joy to my friends lives, to the exact same extent that she did to mine. All of these things exist, right here, in this moment and they are intensely real.

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Only genuine warmth and kindness from this amazing lady. 

A screen can show us something, the speakers can tell us things, and we can convince ourselves that it is enough, that it is real. It isn’t. Real is the person standing in front of you. Real is your actions in this moment. Real is music live and art that you can press your nose up against. Real is a cat you can pet and a friend you can hug. Real is right there.

Yes, I’m writing this to you on a screen and sharing it on a screen. Yes, music on our computers is great and finding new art online amazing. I absolutely appreciate every Youtube video of hers I watched, and every kind thought she had shared on there. Everything in moderation, even eye opening realizations. Except, how much time are we wasting here? On Facebook, Youtube, Instagram. How much time are we living in imaginary worlds?

Life is waiting for you, if you haven’t already (and I hope you have) close this screen. Walk away. Don’t leave me a comment or like. Find me, talk to me, scream to me how you feel. I, personally, am opting for more real.

Motivation in the Strangest Places

The last few weeks have not been easy. I’ve been trying to carry myself further than before, but kept finding myself distracted or down right depressed. Things are at last coming to an upswing, but even while I wasn’t doing my absolute best, I did get to find some fresh motivation.

Netflix, the bane of so many of our existences, the bringer of binge watching, the commercial free Satan to my weekends. Oh, Netflix, how I hate to love you. Obviously during my off weeks I visit that dark screen more often than I should. Usually this results in hours of Gilmore Girls, New Girl, or any other show with a female lead that makes me smile. Lately it hasn’t quite been the case. Something about summer nights makes me crave movies. Which leaves me with half hearted attempts at whatever else Netflix thinks I should put on and I don’t know about you guys lately, but my screen has been filled with two topics – food and climate change.

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The Tools we Work with: Conaghan Style

The tools we use to motivate ourselves are not always individual. After sharing my own, I wanted to share others. I set out to talk to some of my motivated friends and see what carried them where they are. That’s how I found myself talking to Dan Conaghan, a personal trainer managing his own business.

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Dan Conaghan on his instagram, in action.

 

Our conversation took place in Dan’s domain, the gym. In a space where I often freeze like a deer in headlights, overwhelmed by my own insecurities, Dan’s confidence is able to make me feel comfortable. It is almost like having a chat over coffee, except it’s weights, and he will make you pick them up. In between the ringing of weights hitting the floor, guiding me through a set of dead lifts, and working on his own, Dan tells me how he came to be where he is.

The tattooed gentleman, who is usually in gym shorts, started off as an elementary teacher. Life has a strange way of putting you on an unexpected path, and Dan found himself laid off  due to brutal budget cuts. From unemployment he ended up tree cutting. As his life had settled with a routine at work he had also been building his routine in the gym. And as he stood in the gym one day, a light bulb began to flicker above his head. He was watching trainers at their job, people who were able to spend all day in a place he loved, the gym. It flickered a little brighter. He was watching trainers helping people learn how to work out. They worked in a gym, and they taught people. And the switch clicked. Trainers were people who worked at a place he loved, doing something he absolutely loved, teaching. With that realization he knew exactly what he wanted.

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I feel like it is a little obvious that this man enjoys the gym. 

As always there were people who doubted, and Dan often heard the question “but when are you going to get a real job?” With their doubt he pushed farther, determined to prove them wrong. He passed his test. He became a personal trainer, and he didn’t stop there. In life there are moments when you have to take a leap of faith. Conaghan was training people at four in the morning, working for nine hours, training clients in the evening, and then passing out. He was pouring every ounce of himself into living a financially acceptable life while chasing after his goals. Except there is always a point when you have to let go of everything and dive right into what you want. Dan quit his job at the tree cutting business. Life did not catch him. Not right away at least. Dan struggled financially. He knew that he needed to work for himself and not a company. There he met one of the hardest years of his life. Discovering that renting a space was astronomically priced, he couldn’t move forward. Still, he persevered. A year after hitting his wall, he came back to it again and climbed over it. This time Dan found the opportunity he had been waiting for. Someone desperate to get a gym off of her hands, and Dan more than willing to take it.

It’s two years later, and Dan is the proud manager of his personal training business. He is able to price people at rates that are more comfortable for his clients, while still being able to live. With his personal momentum he continues to move forward, working to make fitness and healthier life styles more accessible to everyone. All the while still pushing himself mentally and physically to greater lengths.

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Dan’s also lucky enough to have a motivating and badass girlfriend. She is insanely strong and I highly suggest you check her out here! It is inspiring as hell.

 

One of Dan’s beliefs in life is related to my last post Making Excellence Routine, and it was great to see that simple but powerful idea in someone successful. His way of saying it, a gym man through and through, if you want something you have to put in the reps. Reps, for those of you who are not gym savvy are repetitions of a set of exercises. “You want to write a book? Put in your reps. Do it consistently. It’s not about getting it done in one fell swoop.” He said the words and I couldn’t agree more. Dan has been a personal trainer for six years and his own boss for two. It took him years before he was able to achieve his goals. Years of consistently working towards more. From becoming certified, to learning how to sell himself, to taking the leap to make it on his own he had to put in the reps to build the life he wanted.

Our conversation inspired me with the idea that life really is not just taking a leap of faith. It isn’t a movie or a book. Life is more like carefully managing crevasses, climbing rock walls, jumping off a cliff, and then hiking to the next. Seeing someone who like myself had to struggle to find their own way, then work for what he has now with temerity, and who continues to find new ways to grow reminded me that there are no epic accomplishments ended with a curtain closing. There is only taking on as much of the journey as we can and pushing ourselves to be greater because it’s what we’re made for.

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Not only is it motivating to see how much someone else can crush it physically, it’s great to see that mental perseverance as well. 

What is his secret to keep moving forward? Along with other brilliant habits, Dan introduced me to what I think will be my new favorite.

For maintaining daily motivation, Dan has a strong belief that lead to a great daily ritual. He believes that to achieve greatness, you should surround yourself with greatness. An adage many of us have heard, but Dan has his own interpretation. You do not necessarily need to surround yourself with great people, but great conversation. For Dan this means listening to his favorite podcast, allowing him to become inspired. Just getting a chance to discuss motivation and listening to someone talk about finding their passion was motivating. I have to agree with Dan, surround yourself with greatness.

 

I hope you enjoyed this excerpt from Dan Conaghans life. If you did please feel free to check him out at his Instagram thefitferret_azoth! He is incredibly motivating and knowledgeable in fitness. Thank you Dan, for taking the time to have this conversation! It was a blast to write about.

 

 

 

Making Excellence Routine

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Often credited to Aristotle this quote was written by Will Durant in The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the World’s Greatest Philosophers when he analyzed an excerpt from Aristotle. Check it out here!

 

I read this for the first time in the exploration of a friends house. Simple words, hanging on the wall. I didn’t understand them then. They seemed silly, when I thought of all the feats I wanted to accomplish. Those words still hang there and it surprised me that they came to me while writing this blog. Except, it makes so much sense. I wish I could go back to fourteen year old me, sit her down, and have a long talk about that quote. I may have been a lot further along in my life than I am now.

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The Tools we Work with; Part I

Waking up and finding the motivation to keep going, to clean the house, to go to the gym, to smile, to paint, to write, to confront your boss, to make a healthy meal, to run, to interact, to grow – is not easy. So we’re here, trying to figure out how to work ourselves up to it. How do we pull ourselves forward when everything screams to just survive?

Well, survival itself is pretty impressive, and don’t doubt yourself that. If you want more though and you find that you can’t seem to do it alone, then search out the tools to bring you further.

Each person is entirely different and so we all need different tools, what I am about to say is what has worked for me (most of the time). If this doesn’t sit well with you, then move on to something else. There is something out there waiting for you to grab onto and use to your advantage, you just have to keep looking.

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When life hands you lemons, throw them away and buy what you want.

 

Motivation is elusive. It is something we have to search out again and again, until we learn to carry it with ease, and even then the simplest things in life can make us misplace it.

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            Recently I’ve found my motivation to make some serious life changes, and it’s carrying me back here and to other paths I’m exhilarated for. For the first time in a while I feel as if I am actually taking control of my life. I wondered to myself, how? What changed that brought me here, from the desperately lost human I was only a year ago.

Initially I wanted to take credit for these changes, to say I came to my senses all on my own and just decided to make the Big Moves. Except when I really thought about it I knew exactly what it was that made me decide to take control of my life, and it wasn’t me at all. Someone very dear to me, whose ideals on life make me a little crazy at times, asked me what I wanted to accomplish in the next year. The question immediately resulted in an argument, obviously. My response after realizing I had no idea was to shout “well! what did you want to accomplish!” Upon which he calmly listed off all of his goals in the last few years and how he had accomplished them. I was infuriated. I made up a million excuses about how I don’t like manifesting things, because what if I’m supposed to be somewhere else in my life? I proclaimed I like to go with the flow. I said I had focused on one thing but something had messed it up (but really it just wasn’t happening). A thousand reasons poured out of me, but at the heart of it I knew that I was just upset with myself. What did I want to do? How could I seriously have no idea? Why did I let myself float around for this long? It wasn’t fun to realize I had completely lost track of my goals.

Quietly I chewed on it. What did I want to do? I thought about it every time I didn’t want to go to work, every Sunday I wished the weekends were longer. I stared at it in the quiet moments, at red lights and lunch breaks, in the shower and the mirror as I got dressed. It haunted me in my anger, my disappointment, my sulking. What did I want to do?

Eventually I found the answers to what I want. I gave myself two goals for the next year, and I know that I am completely capable of achieving them. So why didn’t I do this two years ago? How did I forget to chase after my own dreams.

Life moves fast.

And when you are trying to do something you love, it is easy to lose that inner voice that keeps you on track. It’s easy to be washed up in what other people think you should do. Especially when you don’t think you can accomplish your own goals. The only thing that brought me out of my survivalist haze was the sharp questioning of my life.

Most people don’t want to have their life choices questioned, they don’t want people to remind them that the blame is at their own feet, that they really are in control of their lives. I know I hate it. I want someone to pat me on the back for everything I do and say good job kid, you’re killing it. When really what I need is for someone to ask me, is this the right thing? It isn’t fun to have to genuinely comb through your life. I don’t want to decide whether I’ve been making the right choices for myself (especially since I haven’t). It is necessary. Nothing is more motivating than your own passions, intrinsic motivation will always move you farther than a carrot on a stick. So you have to do it, we all have to. Check yourself before you wreck yourself. Look around and see if you’re just chasing after carrots. Cut fast and deep into the core of it. Are you happy? No? What are you doing to change it? Nothing? Then do the things. Make the Big Moves. Change directions.

It sucks having to realize what you’re doing isn’t really helping you thrive. It sucks having to sit down and figure out what will. It really sucks figuring it out when you just want someone to tell you what to do. Still, you have to do it.

 

If you wake up feeling like you’re wasting away, if you can’t get a hold of that new task, if you’re forcing yourself into work every morning, you need to question everything.  I couldn’t do it on my own, I needed someone else to come into my life to make me pay attention. It made everything so much better. I like waking up and being excited. I like talking about my dreams and feeling like I’m going to throw up I’m so vulnerable. I like hearing that voice in my head that says “do it!” and listening to it. I like feeling alive.

Living life to your own strange, beautiful, frightening, potential is glorious. I’m so grateful to be at it again, and I want everyone to have the same. So I’m asking you, what do you want to accomplish in the next year?