Thinking about life
Something feels missing, she says
Fill that void, I will
Did you ever notice…
How much influence you have over your environment?
And how much your environment influences you?
I just read a chapter from The Buddha in Your Mirror: Practical Buddhism and the Search for Self
by Woody Hochswender, Greg Martin and Ted Morino and suddenly I realised what had happened to me last weekend.
I went to a party Saturday night and although there were a lot of people, I felt very alone. Now, I’m wondering why…
The atmosphere of the party was very inviting. The place was decorated with brightly coloured ‘spider webs’ everywhere I looked. Easy going music was playing, people were dancing and everybody was having a good time. For a time, I was having a good time.
I remember feeling out of place and thinking about being the fifth wheel. Although the atmosphere and music influenced me in a good way, I was so set in my ways that the spell of negativity could not be broken.
“Generally, if an individual finds other people unfriendly, it is often because he or she is provoking that reaction, one way or the other.”
Now I realise that I must have (subconsciously) behaved a certain way towards people, who then in return (subconsciously) behaved a certain way towards me?
Our behaviour can seem very subtle to you and me, but they have major influence on our interactions. Every action results in an equal, but opposite reaction. Think about what this means and imagine how much control we have over our own environments.
“Similarly, if that person becomes friendlier, the people around that person will begin to react differently […] as though gazing into our own image reflected in a mirror.”
Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation? And how did you handle it?
Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear your story.
*Quotes from The Buddha in Your Mirror: Practical Buddhism and the Search for Self
**Original image by yitux
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.”
- Albert Einstein
I got up really early today. It was still dark out - just slightly before sunrise. And it was still quiet out - just a few birds chirping to ring in the new day.
I promised to bring a friend some tea before she got on the train this morning, so I wanted to keep that promise. Good excuse to get up early and go for a run. The new ‘habit’ I’m working on to get in better shape and live a healthier life.
So I put on my hoody, slip on my running shoes and grab my iPhone on my way out. I step outside at the break of dawn. The sun is about to rise. A cloud hangs low - just slightly above the grass. Dew on all the spiderwebs. The smell of a brand new day. The city still fast asleep.
I run in a park nearby. I’ve known that it was there for years, but never took the time to check it out… until now. I run in the forest, I run through the fields. I cross a few bridges over the water and leave the city behind me.
As I look up to the sky, I see a huge bird of prey soaring above me. Effortlessly gliding from tree to tree over a clearing in the forest. She calmly settles on a branch on the edge of the clearing and just sits there staring away in the distance.
I wonder what she thinks of me when she sees me… is she as amazed to see me as I am to see her?
“Instead of wishing you were someone else, be proud of who you are. You never know who was looking at you wishing they were you.” - Unknown
Why do you do the things you do? Do you want to fit in? Conscious decisions or social conditioning? Are you told what to do or do you make up your own mind?
I’m just thinking out loud… my mind is racing and recalling events from the past after reading Leo’s article living for everyone else on :mnmlist. I’m trying to find out why I did some of the things I did in the past - why I reacted the way I did in specific situations - why I said yes or no to someone or something - and why I live my life the way I do. Quite a lot to process, I know… and I probably won’t find all the answers right now, but I’m ok with that.
People sometimes react surprised when they find out I don’t own a tv, don’t own a car; I don’t eat any sugar, grains, starch or drink any soda; I make all my own food - mostly using biological ingredients - I practice yoga; I’m a buddhist and I gave up my financial security by quiting my job without finding a new one first. Ok, that last one might turn out to be a mistake… but it’s my decision (I really felt the need to step up and find a job closer to my heart) and I stand by it. I’m stubborn and like to do things my way.
On the other hand I’ve also made some choices in the past based on what others thought I should do; on what society thinks is acceptable behaviour; Breaking up with someone, because everybody around me told me I should (the result of a very personal and painful situation). Ready to give up some of my beliefs and hobbies, because I didn’t want her to think I’m weird or wouldn’t like me for it - thus trying to be someone I’m not… nerd and proud! Feeling ashamed about being a sensitive guy. Society dictates that guys need to be tough, shouldn’t cry or shouldn’t show their weaknesses and be vulnerable… well, I ‘fail’ on all those accounts.
However… as life progresses, I’m coming to terms with my quirks, although I’m still learning to fully accept some parts of me that make me the person I am.
In the end, we all make choices… some good, some bad. We all make mistakes… sometimes feel miserable about them, but we learn and we grow. The important thing is that we make our choices based on our own beliefs and values, and not on someone else’s or because society dictates it. I believe that, in the end, we - you and me both - will feel all the better for it.
Be proud of who you are and make your own choices!
I know I’m going to.
*Photo by ronjathiefdottir
“Life is but a sigh.” - Sweet elderly lady on the train
I sit comfortably on the train. It’s raining outside. The sky is grey. It’s one of those typically Dutch days. Raindrops trickle down the window as the train rushes on through the dreary landscape surrounding me.
I’m on my way to meet a friend. I pass the time reading. At one of the stops an elderly lady enters the compartment and sits right across from me. I look up and politely smile at her. She politely smiles back. I go back to reading my book.
Out of the corner of my eye I notice that she keeps trying to read the title on the cover of my book. After a while she finally speaks up and comments that she finds the topic of my book fascinating.
I’m reading ‘What would John do? Flour Power - Baking Your Way To Happiness’. Great book by the way, but that’s a whole other story. I find the topic fascinating as well and we start talking.
After a while she tells me a story about an elderly lady she met once while she was younger. The story begins with “When I was about your age…”, as it always does when older people tell a story. “… I met an elderly lady on the train. She smiled at me. I smiled back. We started talking.”
“Dear, life is but a sigh. It’ll be over before you know it. Make the best of it and enjoy every minute of it.” - the elderly lady tells her. She chuckles a little and replies: “I still have a whole lifetime ahead of me.”
Now, a lifetime later, she tells me the story. Time has gone by so fast. We’ve come full circle.
The train arrives at our stop and as we’re about to get off the train, her final words to me are:
“Life is but a sigh, dear. Enjoy it.”
*Photo by allnightavenue
“Not all who wander, are lost.” - J.R.R. Tolkien
I wander… I wander a lot, but I do feel lost… always searching… searching for something… what I don’t know. Sometimes that bothers me like crazy and sometimes it just makes me feel alive.
I don’t know what I want - from life, from work, from love. It’s all one big blur to me. I feel I’m walking through a dense foggy forest. I have a vague idea of the direction I want to go in, but I can’t seem to find the way. I walk around in circles. Hmm… I think I’ve seen this tree before. This crossing looks vaguely familiar. So caught up in my need to get clear of this fog - my need to clear the forest. I keep looking behind me to find the answer - I keep looking far ahead for someone or some landmark that can guide me.
I struggle with events from the past - What did I do wrong? How could I’ve done that differently? Why did she leave me? I’m scared of possible events in the future. Will I end up being alone? Am I good enough? How can I find happiness?
The fog that is called the past and the future.
What about the present?
I desperately try to hold on to anything within my grasp as I fall into the dark abyss below… or is just the other way around… am I trying to do all I can to hold on to anything familiar as I’m about to soar up to the blue skies above. Maybe it’s both… maybe I’m so caught up in the past and the future, that I forget to stand still and appreciate the present.
“I hope you’d stop your search for a moment and realise what’s right in front of you.” - Charly
Life is good just as it is.
“If you keep letting go and entrusting, and experiencing the results of this, then the path that seemed narrow in the beginning will gradually widen, and in the end will become a great avenue and gateway to the truth.” - Daehaeng Kun Sunim
I’m going to take one step, one step at the time - put one foot in front of the other. I’ll let go and enjoy the steps I take, and I will find my way. A clearing might just be a few steps ahead. Maybe I’ll realise that I even like being in the forest - the forest of life.
Life is good just as it is.
Just be :)
*Photo by Ruud Visser
I sit on the train. It’s just after dawn and the sun is still rising. The carriage is filled with people still grasping the fact that it’s morning and that they have to go to work or school. This is my life from Monday to Thursday.
I’m reading a book on my iPad as I always do when I’m on my way to work in the morning. Suddenly I realise something as I look up from my book. I stare out of the window as the train strides on through fields filled with morning dew. A beam of sunlight caresses my face.
I feel good.
I go back to reading my book on a train filled with people with a sense of gratitude. Mornings… sunrise… morning dew… landscape rushing by…
I feel happy.
The moment passes as the train pulls into the station. I have to get off here. The rest of my day awaits.
Yesterday I got a very confrontational text message from a good friend of mine saying:
‘99 percent of chicken meat in supermarket infected’
(Translated from Dutch)
It was a headline from a Dutch news website. She also added a link to the article: ‘99 procent kippenvlees in supermarkt besmet’
The article read that almost all chicken is infected with the ESBL-bacteria, which is immune to antibiotics. And could potentially harm the people who eat the chicken. A spokesman replied when the information leaked into the news:
We acknowledge the problem imposed by the ESBL-bacteria, but we cannot fix this right away. In the coming years we’ll reduce the use of antibiotics even further. (Translated from Dutch)
What pissed me off most about this, after I recovered from the shock, was that the spokesman knew all about the ESBL-bacteria in the chicken meat. We’ve been eating infected chicken for who knows how long and the factory farming industry knew all about it. They just neglected to mention it. Only when the information leaked, they came up with an excuse story.
Watch the trailer of Food Inc. from 2009 to get “an unflattering look inside America’s corporate controlled food industry.”
Then I realised that we’re probably the ones that put the factory farming industry in this position in the first place. We demand huge amounts of meat at an incredibly low price. The only way the industry can meet our demands is to cramp animals in extremely close quarters and feed them insanely high amounts of antibiotics.
I do feel like a hypocrite, because I eat meat everyday and thus in a way approve of their ways. In the spirit of living a healthy life, this just doesn’t match. I’ve been eating unprocessed foods for about 3 years now and apparently I still get all this nasty stuff in my body. All because of the meat I eat. Furthermore, I’m a firm believer of live and let live. So IMHO animals should be able to have an animal-friendly life.
Therefore I’m going to eat less meat from now on. I’ll start with one meatless day at first and then work my way up to meat twice a week. I’ll also limit myself to eating healthy organic meat from animals that had an animal-friendly life.
By eating less meat (and only organic meat), we can send the factory farming industry a message. We’ll be able to improve the living standards of the farming animals. We can banish the need for antibiotics and at the same time live a healthier life ourselves!
I’m going for it.
Who’s with me?!
But of course, without the top you can’t have any sides. It’s the top that defines the sides.” —From: Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance
“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.”
- Ernest Hemingway
Recently I watched this TED talk about listening. Julian Treasure talks about 5 ways to listen better and he is so right! We don’t listen anymore. Not to each other and not to the world around us. When at home we watch tv, surf the web or connect virtually with each other through social media for hours and hours on end. When we go out we all put on headphones and turn to our smart phones. We shut ourselves off from the physical world around us.
I’m no different. The first thing I do when I come home is turn on my laptop and when I go out I put on my headphones and turn on my music. This is before I even leave the house!
Do you remember the last time when you really listened?
- To your friend in need,
- To your daughter telling you about one of her latest adventures,
- To your spouse after a long day,
- To your surroundings - the birds, the wind, the rain on your window.
I bet it has been a while!
We live in our own private worlds. We shut ourselves off from the physical world around us. Sometimes we do make the effort to listen, but get interrupted. We check email, read new text messages and answer the phone when someone calls.
How’s that for being present and really listening?
Last week I decided to take the headphones off for a few days and listen to what happens all around me. At first it was a bit awkward and my mind kept filling the void with music. Have you ever noticed this? Your mind is so used to having music in the background, that it automatically fills that void when you leave your music at home. Weird huh?
It was nice to hear the birds singing in the morning on my walk to the train station when I go to work. A morning symphony that brings homage to a new day full of potential. I could distinguish the song of all kinds of different birds. Imagine that you miss out on all of this because you have your headphones on.
I also tried to connect with my friends and family. A friend of mine really needed someone who’d listen to him, so I tried to help him out. I must admit that it was quite difficult for me to stay present and just listen. I remember that at times my mind wandered and I kept having this nagging urge to check my phone. Welcome to social rehab.
Here’s the TED talk I mentioned before for you to watch and enjoy:
“Listen consciously in order to live fully.”
- Julian Treasure
How will you consciously engage the world around you?
I’d love to know. Just comment below or drop me a line on Twitter.
Now turn off your smart phones, take off your headphones and really listen. To your friends and family, the world around you and be present! I’m going for it :)
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” - Jim Rohn
While I sit here with a fresh cup of green jasmin tea, I’m suddenly getting a bit sentimental. I was just thinking of my friends. It’s early in the afternoon on Sunday and I still have a slight hangover from yesterday. I went out with some friends to a club to have some drinks, dance and enjoy the music together. I had a great time, guys… thanks!
The other day I was feeling a bit down, which happens from time to time. I then read a really nice tale written by a friend of mine that totally cheered me up: 5 Reasons You’re Just As Amazing As the Perito Moreno Glacier. Thanks for cheering me up and making me believe in myself!
I’m an architect by profession and I believe architecture is about serving the people who dwell in it. User-centred architecture. A view not yet shared by many architects, unfortunately. I did find a few like-minded idealists and together we try to make architecture focussed on the needs and wishes of the user. Thanks for standing by me on the long road to a better living environment!
“Somebody loves you if they call you out on your bullshit. They’re not passive, they don’t just let you get away with murder. They know you well enough and care about you enough to ask you to chill out, to bust your balls, to tell you to stop. They aren’t passive observers in your life, they are in the trenches. They have an opinion about your decisions and the things you say and do. They want to be a part of it; they want to be a part of you.” - Ryan O’Connell (from How To Tell If Somebody Loves You)
Do you have someone who calls you out on your bullshit?
While being a real pain in the ass at times, my personal ‘critic’ taught me a lot since I met her a year and a half ago. Thank you for being my mirror, for your brutal honesty and for making me realise that I can’t please everybody all the time!
I remember a time when I was a very passive person. Watching movies and tv shows was basically all I did when I wasn’t at the university. I hardly read any books or blogs and I didn’t really have any goals. Now I’m always reading. I think I’m reading three books simultaneously at the moment, I learned how to set goals and bring a little more order to the chaos that’s called life. I have a lot of dreams now and even more ideas, all because I have a great role model now. Thanks for being my intellectual punching bag and my inspiration to go for what I want, like you do!
I probably don’t say this enough, but I’m really grateful for having such great friends. And you bring so much to my life: joy, comfort, understanding, insight and inspiration
“Friendship depends on you, not on the other person. What matters is what you put into a friendship, not what you get out of it.” - Daisaku Ikeda
I try to be the best friend I can be. I want to return the favour. If you guys ever need anything, just let me know. I’ll be there for you as you’ve all been there for me and I won’t let you down.
Thanks for being in my life. I love you guys!
Do you ever thank your friends for being in your life?
Do you ever think about how you can return the favour?
I’d love to know. Just let me know by posting a comment below or drop me a line on Twitter :)
*Image source: Four hands by Eastop
Can you remember a moment in your life when you had life in yourself and it was wholly strange and new? Can you remember the moment when you stopped walking a path of someone else, and started cutting your own?
Write about that moment. And if you haven’t experienced it yet, let the miracle play out in your mind’s eye and write about that moment in your future. - Bridget Pilloud
I remember feeling lost after finishing my Bachelor in Architecture. The plan had always been to continue with my Masters Degree after this, but I was no longer certain of this anymore. In the end I decided to start my Masters Degree abroad for 7 months. This turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made.
In September 2005 I travelled to Finland to enroll in the Modern Nordic Architecture programme (MoNArch). I met so many great people there, while simultaneously learning so much about myself. Being all by yourself in a completely unfamiliar country for 7 months really puts your comfort zone to the test.
But I digress… today I just want to tell you about how I found my fascination for user-centred architecture. My other adventures in Finland and the many life lessons I’ve learned while staying there will be the subject of another post.
One of the assignments during the MoNArch programme was to write a seminar paper about a subject related to architecture that had your fascination. I’ve always been interested in church architecture and especially in the atmospheres of these churches. My choice to write the seminar paper about this subject turned out to be a personal revelation.
During a literature study I stumbled upon a really interesting book by Finnish architect Juhani Pallasmaa: The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses
(affiliate link). This book changed my perception of architecture in a very profound way:
“Our bodies and movements are in constant interaction with the environment; the world and the self inform and redefine each other constantly. The percept of the body and the image of the world turn into one single continuous existential experience – there is no body separate from its domicile in space, and there is no space unrelated to the unconscious image of the perceiving self.” - from The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses
by Juhani Pallasmaa
The writings of Juhani Pallasmaa have been the catalyst for many things that followed after reading them early 2006. They basically kindled my fascination with user-centred architecture:
1. Two and a half years later I graduated from the Faculty of Architecture at TU Delft in October 2008 after writing my Master thesis (in collaboration with Paul de Vries) on Emotion in Architecture - The experience of the user (article we wrote for Volume magazine about our thesis)
3. Followed by enrolling in the Environmental Psychology course at the University of Amsterdam in March 2010.
4. After successfully completing the Environmental Psychology course I founded [S!MPL] with my partners Paul de Vries, Linda van de Sande and Merel Koomen in August 2010. Two architects and two psychologists working together as a team, providing research, advice and design solutions for the built environment.
The combination of psychology and architecture is almost unheard of in the field of architecture. But I believe that the joint efforts of these two incredibly interesting fields have so much potential to bring to the table - user-centred architecture is the future. And I just love it!
In the end my amazing adventures in Finland have eventually led me to my fascination for user-centred architecture. This has been the moment for me when I stopped walking a path of someone else, and started cutting my own. This is where it all began.
“I understood that we must avoid to follow the common path, the one taken by most people, the one that, during our years of study, part of the uncertainty of not knowing what we are doing, and that leads us to focusing too much on what others do, what the great and famous do.
It is not about (re)inventing the wheel, and this is why it is important to analyze what others have done in similar situations, but it is very important to discover who we are to achieve success. We should always leave our mark, our label, a little detail that sets us apart and makes us special. I know it takes time, but when we finally get the confidence to know what we can do, we really begin to enjoy our career.” - from Trust and Start Dreaming by fellow architect Ana Manzo
Are you cutting your own path?
I love to learn about your adventures that led you to the moment that you stopped walking the path of someone else. Please tell me your amazing story by commenting below or drop me a line on Twitter :)
Take a moment, step back from your concerns, and focus on one thing: You have one life to achieve everything you’ve ever wanted. Sounds simple, but when you really focus on it, let it seep into your consciousness, you realize you only have about 100 years to get every single thing you’ve ever wanted to do. No second chances. This is your only shot. Suddenly, this means you should have started yesterday. No more waiting for permission or resources to start. Today is the day you make the rest of your life happen. Write down one thing you’ve always wanted to do and how you will achieve that goal. Don’t be afraid to be very specific in how you’ll achieve it: once you start achieving, your goals will get bigger and your capability to meet them will grow. - Colin Wright
I’ve always wanted to go on an incredible adventure with sled dogs through the snow ever since I was 8 years old. I remember writing a letter to a Dutch television show called ‘Geef nooit op’ [ed. Never give up] about going on this amazing trip through the snow. ‘Geef nooit op’ was a show about granting wishes to children and giving them the time of their lives. Unfortunately I wasn’t picked. I’ve never forgotten about this dream though.
Last year I was almost there. I had planned my trip for January 2010, but due to some unforseen circumstances the trip was cancelled in the end… *sigh*… I had already booked my train ticket to the Alpes, the tour in St.Ulrich was all planned out and I was just a few weeks away from living my dream. Then some farmer in the area had objections about us crossing his land all of a sudden and there was no alternative. My dream had to be put on hold for at least a year till next winter.
Lately I’ve been thinking about this dream a lot again. It has been about six months since the trip was cancelled and I think it’s time to start planning for next winter. Now with the Trust30 challenge I’ll grab this thing by the horns and and really make it happen this time!
How will I achieve this goal for real this time?
I remember attending a Personal Mind Power seminar by Carl van der Velde in November 2009 [ed. in Dutch]. Carl, a Belgian motivation guru who worked with Tony Robbins, tought me a how you can plan to reach any of your goals by following a specific strategy.
I hope to tell you more about the whole seminar in the near future. But here’s a short summary of his strategy to start with:
The 4 E’s
The strategy is based a 4 step system, I’ll just call them the 4 E’s for now:
- Envision your goal
- Elaborate planning
- Emerge yourself completely
I’ll walk you through all the steps by using my own dream as an example.
1. Envision your goal
Describe goal in great detail. What does ‘done’ mean? What is my trip going to be like?
I’m planning to take a trip dogsledding in the Alpes with Lowlandpack’s former European and Dutch champion Andre Veenstra for about a week. This is how I envision my first day:
Last night I arrived at my hotel in St. Ulrich in the Alpes. The ride over here was really long, but the views from the road were breathtaking. Driving through huge mountain ranges, long tunnels that seem to last forever and amazing views of valleys filled with the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever seen. This trip is already a major success!
I go to bed early as I have to get up early to meet up with Andre and all his dogs. I’m dying to meet all of them again.
After a rather restless night, I get up early in the morning to help Andre feed the dogs. They’ve been outside in the freezing snow all night, but I’ve learned that they actually like it that way. They must be hungry.
This trip is not only going to be touring through the snow with the dogs. I also have to take care of my team personally. That’s the way Andre works and I love his methods. So, I have to feed them, get them ready for some dogsledding and make sure they are ok during and after the trip. This is great! My own dog sled team for a week!
After feeding them, Andre shows me some of the basic commands for operating the sled. The dogs are trained to follow special commands. I already know some of them, like Gee! for right and Haw! for left and Hike! to get moving. He also teaches me what to do in case of an emergency. You just never know.
I think I’m ready for my first short tour. I’m soo excited!
I run with a team of six dogs. They’re really excited as well, and so ready to go. Hike! It’s quite challenging at first. I’m feel a bit uncertain, but that feeling dissipates really fast. We run through the amazing landscape of the Alpes. Andre has set out a short route through the snowy forest where I can practice to get the hang of the commands and driving the sled. This is incredible. I don’t have time to enjoy the scenery at all, as I need all my attention for mushing the dogs. I have never felt more alive!
The wind is rushing by my face. They run and they keep running. We’re picking up speed. Gee! (right) Haw! (left)… I really have to hang on and tighten my grip on the sled to be able to stay put. Time and space fly by like it doesn’t even exist and before I know it we’re already back where we started.
Once I get of the sled I realise how intense this was for me. All the excitement and hard work, mushing a sled is quite challenging physically you know, and it has left me totally exhausted. I think I could sleep for a week!
But the most important rule of mushing is to first take care of your dogs and then of yourself. So, before I can call it a day and get some well earned diner and sleep, I have to take care of my team. I have to get them out of their harnesses, feed them and make sure they have a place to sleep for the night.
After all of that I can finally relax and reflect on this amazing trip. And this was just day 1! I relive my adventure as I dose off into a deep sleep. I bet you all know what I’ll be dreaming about tonight…
2. Elaborate planning
I have to plan for my dog sled tour step-by-step. This enables me to take on my goal one step at the time. I’ll show you so you can get a feel of the kind of steps and detail involved:
Contact Andre by sending him an email about my plans
I’ve already send Andre an email last week asking him about my plans. He called me back later that week to say that we’re going to make it happen in January 2012. He suggests I’d come to help him for a weekend with the dogs and discuss our plans. First step accomplished. It turned out even more amazing than I had imagined! A trip in the snow in January and a whole weekend helping with the dogs. I’m thrilled!
- Ask Andre about an estimate for the costs
This is going to be a trip that probably won’t be cheap. I really need to know what I’m up against so I can make sure I’ll be able to afford it. Can you imagine being really close to living your dream and not being able to due to lack of funds?
- Setting up a savings plan
That brings me to setting some sort of plan to get the money before January 2012. I’ll have to set aside a big portion of vacation money and in addition I probably have to save a certain amount every month to pay for it all.
- Plan a weekend to help with the dogs and discuss our plans
In September 2011 I’ll have to contact Andre again to set a date for the weekend I’m going to help him. He suggested a weekend in September, October or November. I’d have to put a reminder on my calendar for this.
- Plan how to get to the snow
Maybe I’ll have to book a train ticket to the Alpes or drive up there with someone else. Reminder number 2 on my calendar
- Book my hotel in St. Ulrich
Andre already mentioned a nice little hotel in St. Ulrich where I could stay that is really near where Andre is staying and isn’t too expensive. After we’ve set the final date, I’ll have to contact the hotel to make a reservation. Another reminder on my calendar I think.
- Get the week off from work
I also need to ask for a week off from work to be able to go on the trip. This won’t be a problem, but needs to be done nonetheless.
Do I need training? Dog commands? What to do if something goes wrong? Etc. I’d like to prepare myself for the trip in advance as much as possible.
- Ask what kind of gear I need to purchase by myself
Andre provides the sled and the dogs of course. I probably need to buy my own clothing, shoes, gloves and everything. This could possibly cost me quite some money as well, so I’d have to account for this in my savings plan too.
- Purchase gear
I’d have to purchase all my gear somewhere. I’ll look online where to find all this at a reasonable price. Andre might have some tips for me as well, so it wouldn’t hurt to ask him about this when I ask for the kind of gear I need.
- Pack for the trip
Finally I have to pack for the trip in January.
I’ll probably think of some more steps later on, but I think I’m off to a great start here!
3. Emerge yourself completely
…and make your goal visible, at home, at work, everywhere. Here’s what I’ve done so far:
I’ve been reading a lot about sled dogs in books and online. I’ve also watched quite some movies and documentaries already. I especially loved watching Iron Will (youtube link) and the Iditarod reports from a few years ago.
Additionally I’ve placed reminders all around me. There’s a picture on the desktop of my computer and one near my bed. Even my iPhone has a wallpaper with sled dogs on it.
I’d like to encourage you to experiment with your goal. Maybe plan a few try-outs first. This way you can get a feel of what it would be like to achieve your goal and it could provide some good insights on how to proceed with it.
For example, I visited Andre in the Fall of 2009 for a small tour through the woods of Limburg in the Netherlands. A dry run as it were. He also told many stories about what it’s like to mush a sled dog team for real during one of his championship runs. These two things combined really help me to keep momentum and make it happen!
Here’s a short video of my first try-outs:
I hope this elaborate post gives you some insight into how this 4 step system works. I suggest you go ahead and start working on your plan to make your dreams come true as well!
What dream would you like to realise? And how are you going to make it happen?
I’d love to hear about your plans and if you need any help with some of the details, don’t hesitate to ask me. You’re welcome to comment below or drop me a line on Twitter :)
The world buzzes about goals and visions. Focus. Create a vivid picture of exactly where you want to go. Dream big, then don’t let anything or anyone stop you. The problem, as Daniel Gilbert wrote in Stumbling Upon Happiness, is that we’re horrible at forecasting how we’ll really feel 10 or 20 years from now – once we’ve gotten what we dreamed of. Often, we get there only to say, “That’s not what I thought it would be,” and ask, “What now?” Ambition is good. Blind ambition is not. It blocks out not only distraction, but the many opportunities that might take you off course but that may also lead you in a new direction. Consistent daily action is only a virtue when bundled with a willingness to remain open to the unknown. In this exercise, look at your current quest and ask, “What alternative opportunities, interpretations and paths am I not seeing?” They’re always there, but you’ve got to choose to see them. - Jonathan Fields
I’ve wanted to become an architect since I was ten years old. My whole education has been carefully selected to accomplish my dream of becoming an architect. High school courses were specifically chosen to get accepted in architecture school at my university. I even got in. After this I studied hard for 8 years to get my bachelor and master degree in architecture. After graduating from university I was finally able to call myself an architect. I had done it!
This was two and a half years ago. I managed to get a good job at an excellent yacht interior builder (see DKB website if you’re interested) as a design engineer. Architecture jobs are hard to come by these days, so I was really happy to have the opportunity to work here. On a daily basis I’m being exposed to beautiful exclusive interior designs by some of the best interior architect of the world. I still feel that something is missing though. I’m not designing these stunning interiors myself as a design engineer. I only help them to get made. I communicate a lot with architects and shipyards about the interiors, but I feel that it’s just not enough. I can’t seem shake this feeling of being trapped here.
Honestly, I’m not sure yet. I did decide to leave my job as a design engineer at DKB and find a new job. A job that would be more fulfilling. A job that allows me to design, to express myself and be creative. However, I have no idea what this job looks like and where to find this. I’m not even sure anymore whether my dream of becoming an architect is still my dream. You could call it my own personal quarter-life crisis.
I’ve recently read this post on the five phases of quarter-life crisis and the first 2 feel very familiar to me:
Phase 1 – A feeling of being trapped by your life choices. Feeling as though you are living your life on autopilot.
Phase 2 – A rising sense of “I’ve got to get out” and the feeling that you can change your life.
Phase 3 – Quitting the job or relationship or whatever else is making you feel trapped and embarking on a “time out” period where you try out new experiences to find out who you want to be.
Phase 4 – Rebuilding your life.
Phase 5 – Developing new commitments more attuned to your interests and aspirations.
Right now I’m approaching phase 3, I think. My ‘time out’ period is just around the corner. I’d like to take my time, keep my options open and try to find out what my new dream job will look like. That’s also one of my reasons for joining the Trust 30 challenge in the first place.
I’m looking forward to embarking on my quest - my ‘time out’ period - to try out new experiences and find out who I really want to be. I do know it’ll be something that involves creating new things from scratch as I still love doing that. Other than that, the sky is the limit!
How do you design your life?
How do you deal with your quarter-life crisis? What alternative opportunities, interpretations and paths are you considering? I’d love to know. Just leave a comment or drop me a line on Twitter :)
Think of a time when you didn’t think you were capable of doing something, but then surprised yourself. How will you surprise yourself this week? - Ashley Ambirge
Do you have your own set of rules to life? I do. And they are usually pretty strict. I have many rituals for doing things and I’m usually ok with that. However, they shouldn’t hold me back from having fun or experiencing new things.
Do you feel that you let your own set of rules dictate your life a little too much? I sometimes feel that I’m taking life way too seriously. We’re not having enough fun… we need to lighten up! Do silly for a change… go out and do something you’ve always wanted to do but felt scared to. Something that defies your own set of rules for once.
Some of the best things happen when you step outside your comfort zone. This is where you’ll find new opportunities. Just have some fun with it. I’ve read some great ideas on how to step out of your comfort zone on Niall Doherty’s blog Disrupting the Rabblement. Maybe they’ll help you solve a problem you’ve been struggling with for a long time. You can view it all from a fresh new perspective and things might look a lot clearer all of a sudden.
I remember having a blast when I surprised myself and did something spontaneous. Going out with friends without planning it. Parties suddenly turn out to be the best. Do you remember some spontaneous spur of the moment thing you did that turned out to be awesome?
There were times when my expectations where so high that when things didn’t turn out the way I expected them to, I was totally bumped out and I’d have no fun at all. But sometimes when things just seem to happen… it was awesome! Think about that.
No expectations, just go with the flow. I don’t do this kind of things often enough. But I think I’ll try to slip them in more regularly. When you suddenly have lower expectations, you’ll be surprised how many great things could happen.
The world’s a playground. You know that when you are a kid, but somewhere along the way everyone forgets it. - Allison in Yes Man (2008)
Life is one big playground, and I’m re-learning how to play. Will you? Be more like your kid self for a change, be open to unexpected possibilities and just say YES once in a while and see how things will turn out.
I’m off to some unexpected adventure… see ya!
How will you surprise yourself this week?
I’d love to know. Tell me all about your unexpected adventures here or just drop me a line on Twitter :)
Is fear holding you back from living your fullest life and being truly self expressed? Put yourself in the shoes of the you who’s already lived your dream and write out the answers to the following:
Is the insecurity you’re defending worth the dream you’ll never realize? or the love you’ll never venture? or the joy you’ll never feel?
Will the blunder matter in 10 years? Or 10 weeks? Or 10 days? Or 10 minutes?
Can you be happy being anything less than who you really are?
Now Do. The Thing. You Fear. - Lachlan Cotter
I know a thing or two about defending my insecurities. For a major part of my life I’ve let these insecurities control my life (see Take the wheel and steer). This was especially true for meeting girls. I’ve always been insecure about this and it has been bothering me for a long time. I remember creating these unrealistic scenarios in my head that kept me so paralysed that I never even took a chance.
But in 2009 I decided that I wanted to do something about it and to not let my insecurities stand in my way anymore. Let me tell you a short story about one of my successes:
About a year and a half ago I went out to a club all by myself to meet new people (read girls). While standing at the bar I saw this beautiful girl and I remember thinking - I just have to meet her. She had this amazing vibe that really drew me in. So I mustered up all my courage and went over to talk to her. I bumped fists with her (I just love the fist bump) and I asked her if she’d already seen Alice in Wonderland - the movie that had just been released back then. We ended up talking for a while and I had a great night. A few weeks later she was my girlfriend.
I took a chance and ended up being with this amazing girl for over a year. Now we’ve recently split up and it’s hard, but I wouldn’t have missed this for the world! Never did I ever have regrets about taking a chance here.
How did I overcome my fear and go for it?
4 steps really helped me accomplish this:
- What’s the worst that could happen?
We tend to make things a lot worse in our heads than they really are. It often helps to write down in detail what your world would look like when the worst would actually happen. You’ll realise that it probably isn’t so bad afterall.
» Eliminate unrealistic fear by making it real.
- What’s the best thing that could happen?
Imagine what your life would be like when you’re living your dream. Imagine what would happen if she doesn’t reject you. Imagine how much joy you’d feel when you accomplish your goals. Try to make your picture as detailed as possible. You’ll become so excited that you’ll just have to get up and make it happen.
» Create momentum by becoming excited.
- What did happen in the end?
Most of the times when you take a chance, it hardly ever turns out to be a disaster. You took a leap and the world didn’t fall apart. You’re still breathing. In addition, second guessing yourself all the time is only a waste of your precious time and energy.
» Reflect afterwards and realise that your fear was unfounded.
- Live and learn!
Of course I also approached girls without success, but practice makes perfect. If I hadn’t been talking to more girls, I probably wouldn’t have succeeded in the first place.
» Allow yourself to make mistakes first to be able to succeed in the end.
If I had to live my life again I’d make all the same mistakes—only sooner. - Tallulah Bankhead, quoted in Evelyn Steinberg’s The Little Book of Wrinkles
Now I just have to get out there, overcome my fears, put these 4 step to good use and I’ll definately find the perfect job I’ve been dreaming of.
How do you overcome your fears?
I’d love to know. If you’d like to share your stories, just drop me a line on Twitter :)
*Image source: One + Infinity
Write down in which areas of your life you have to overcome these suicidal tendencies of imitation, and how you can transform them into a newborn you – one that doesn’t hide its uniqueness, but thrives on it. There is a “divine idea which each of us represents” – which is yours? - Fabian Kruse
I’ve been reading minimalism blogs for about a year now. I started with reading Zen Habits by Leo Babauta, soon followed by Ev Bogue and many more after that. There’s this huge source of amazing information available out there. I wanted to read more and more… everything was interesting. To me these incredible people had somehow found a way of life that made all of their dreams come true. How appealing is that?!
I want that too! Let’s read some more. He is doing it this way, she found a way that works as well. Minimalism is great! Their way of life must be the key to happiness. They all seem so happy. This must be it! Of course they’ve all had their ups and downs along the way, but somehow the’ve managed to get it right. I have to be realistic about that, but still… I want that! Let’s read some more.
Although I love reading all these blogs, I’ve recently realised (with a little help from a friend) that they also make me very passive. It’s as if I’m almost living their amazing lives vicariously through reading their vivid stories. Reading about their successful lives is very addictive to me. How about you?
Imagine that the life you’ve always dreamt of is possible. And it is, I truly believe that. It does, however, take hard work and passively reading online is not going to get you any closer to realising your dream life.
What if you used most of your time spend reading online on finding your true self? Less reading means more time for taking action - more time for creating and expressing yourself.
I can’t wait to take off on my epic journey to find my true self, my uniqueness, my passion and to make it happen. There probably is a bumpy road ahead of me and I have no idea where I’ll end up or who I’ll end up becoming. But I’m looking forward to finding out.
So, read less and start doing!
What are you going to change to make it happen?
I’d love to know. Maybe we could help each other out. All you have to do is to drop me a line on Twitter :)
*Image source: California Ink in Motion
What is burning deep inside of you? If you could spread your personal message RIGHT NOW to 1 million people, what would you say? - Eric Handler
I’m going through a bit of a rough patch at the moment. I bet you know the feeling. I recently broke up with my girlfriend and I’m having a difficult time letting her go. In addition I’m also struggling with a difficult jobhunt (read my post Take the wheel and steer to find out). This nice cocktail of issues sometimes result in waking up in the morning and not knowing what I want from life anymore. Filled with grief and loneliness I end up questioning my whole existence and I tend to fall prey to feelings of uncertainty about my future. Wow, drama much?? Haha… Listen to the amazing song Someone like you by Adele and I think you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
See what’s going on here?
Focus on all the negativity in my life, that’s what’s going on… It’s can be so easy to surrender to this flow of negative feelings, but you’d end up regretting it afterwards. I know I would.
That’s why I’m so grateful for having so many great people in my life. My mom in particular. She understands what I’m going through, so she send me this awesome book - 365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life
by John Kralik (affiliate link) - to help me deal with all this. And I must say, it’s working. I read it from cover to cover in only a few days. I just couldn’t put it away.
John is going through a rough time in his life as well. But after receiving a simple thank-you note from his ex-girlfriend for his Christmas gift, he comes up with the idea to be grateful by writing thank-you notes. He sets himself the amazing goal to send 365 thank-you notes in a year.
He writes handwritten thank-yous to all sorts of people - family, friends, colleagues, former business associates, current competitors, neighbors and anyone else that has done something to help him out, however small or insignificant. By writing all these thank-you notes, all sorts of positive things start to happen to John, ranging from financial gain to new friendships, from weight loss to finding inner peace. In short, his life is completely turned around. All by focussing on what he’s grateful for!
Of course there’s also time for grieving. You shouldn’t ignore pain, but the point I’m trying to make is that you shouldn’t let it control your whole being. Focus on the things that you’re grateful for instead. And if you give it a try, you’ll realise that there’s a lot in your life to be grateful for… I’m positive. It’s just a matter of focussing on the right things.
So be grateful for the many good things in your life! And don’t forget to express that gratefulness to the people you love. That’s what I’m going to do from now on. I hope you will too.
What are you grateful for?
I’d love to know. If you’re feeling inspired by my words and feel like sharing, just drop me a line on Twitter :)
Emerson says: “Always do what you are afraid to do.” What is ‘too scary’ to write about? Try doing it now. - Mary Jaksch
Being scared. Hmm, what does being scared do to me? I think I’m scared a lot. Probably too much for my own good. At least, I let it control my life a bit too much. Being scared is of course not wrong by itself. But when it starts to control your life, it will prevent you from achieving the life you’ve always dreamed of.
One of the things that really scare me is changing my career. For a long time I’ve been paralysed by the prospect of finding my true destiny. It reminds me of something Steve Jobs mentioned in one of his speeches:
If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today? - Steve Jobs
In his inspirational speech at Stanford University Steve talkes about looking in the mirror every morning and asking himself this question. If he answered no too many times in a row, it meant that a change was desperately needed.
I’ve been asking myself this very question in the mirror a lot lately and I’ve noticed that my answer has been no for quite some time now. It really scares me to think that radical change might be necessary to be able to answer yes again.
The reason I answer no too many days in a row has mostly to do with my daytime job. I’ve been working for the same office for over 2 years now and I don’t find it fulfilling anymore. I realised that I’ve been lying to myself for over a year an a half now that I would eventually find my buzz here. Last week, however, I was finally ready to admit to myself and to the office I work for that I won’t find what I’m looking for here. Hurrah!
At first I was scared to be open about this at the office, but eventually I went for it and my fear ended up being totally unfounded. My openess has been rewarded with kindness and willingness to help me find my passion. I’m very grateful for the way they’re handling the situation and for their support.
So now I’m trying to figure out what to do next - what do I want instead? - and I’m still scared to let go of my present job and step up. Am I good enough? Will I be able to make it out there? I’m an architect by profession and I love to design things - making something new from scratch, but the market is really not reasuring right now. However staying where I am now is not an option either. So the only thing I can and will do is to step up and make the life I dream of happen!
Sometimes, I feel the fear of uncertainty stinging clear
And I can’t help but ask myself how much I let the fear
Take the wheel and steer
It’s driven me before
And it seems to have a vague, haunting mass appeal
But lately I’m beginning to find that I
Should be the one behind the wheel
What are you scared of?
I’d love to know. You’ll probably feel really releaved after talking about it with someone, as I did. When you feel up for it, just drop me a line on Twitter :)