Learning To Be Authentically Vulnerable

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It was the summer of 2000. I was driving to the continuation school that I had to attend in order to earn my general education diploma. You see I had failed my senior English class. Not because I did the work and failed, but because I stopped showing up for class.

As I was driving I was reflecting up my life. I was trying to define who I am as a person. Trying to figure out how I see myself. The question that we all try to answer, “Who am I?” Continue reading “Learning To Be Authentically Vulnerable”

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Recognizing Fear and Transforming It Into Strength

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Written by: Jeffrey Craig

As a kid, I was a lot more fearless than I gave myself credit for. I remember riding my bike off a 10-foot dirt ramp because it looked fun. I recall standing on a lunch table in front of my whole school and professing my love for my second grade crush. I remember going up to bat in little league with certainty that I would hit the ball out of the park. There were very few things I was afraid of growing up, but I also didn’t see fear the same way I do now.

Growing up, I only saw fear in one dimension. Fear only existed when there was some physical thing that threatened my existence. Monsters, roller coasters, the dark. These were the things that frightened me as a child. Oh how times have changed.

Now as an adult, I have come to realize that fear takes many forms, most of which are of the nonphysical variety. It is not so much about fear of ghosts as it is fear of self. I have also come to realize that adults often experience more fear than their younger counterparts. This fear is more powerful and affects us on a far more serious scale.

So what happened that turned us all into a bunch of scaredy cats? Well from what I can gather, WE happened. We grew up. We learned to think in a more complex manner. We stopped focusing inward and took a look around us. Our ability to contemplate on a deeper level has deceived us. Our media has only fueled this fear by encouraging our irrational thoughts. Continue reading “Recognizing Fear and Transforming It Into Strength”

Allowing Masculine Emotional Expression

“That is your problem.”; “Stop complaining!”; “What are you going to do to fix it?”; “Figure it out yourself.”; “Stop bitching and fix it.”; “I don’t want to hear your problems.”; “Just do it.”; “What do you want me to do about it?”; “I didn’t make you feel anything, you’re the one being emotional.”; “Sounds like you just need to “man up”.”

All of these phrases I have heard throughout my life. Starting as a young child on the playground. Many of them I have heard in my relationships with others. Whether it was friendships, family, or romantic relationships. I heard many of these during my 8 year marriage.

In our culture there is this message that is being sent to little boys, who become grown men, about their feelings, emotions, their heart. The message is “real men don’t need feelings, emotions, or their heart.” Continue reading “Allowing Masculine Emotional Expression”

Star Wars Showed Me Great Life Lessons

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Written By: Jeff Craig

Anyone who knows me, knows I am a HUGE fan of Star Wars. Ever since childhood, I have embraced the story that took place in a galaxy far far away.

As a kid, I loved the story made of heroes with swords made of light, who flew around the galaxy fighting for good. I remember having light saber duels in my back yard with friends. In the background played music from the movies. I imagined I was a powerful Jedi who would save the galaxy from the evil Sith Darth Vader. I would have Star Wars marathons with my friends where we would watch all the movies in succession. I collected toys, trading cards, and played all the video games. Needless to say, Star Wars was a huge part of my life. Continue reading “Star Wars Showed Me Great Life Lessons”

3 Life Lessons From Young Adulthood

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I was 17 when my mother came to me and told me that she had been talking with my brother for a few months now. She informed me that he had been going to the doctor and getting tests performed on him due to symptoms that he was exhibiting. The results had come back and he had a cancerous tumor growing off of his liver. The doctors were discussing what would be the best possible course of action, but the outcome looked grim.

I was a senior in high school during this time. I worked an average of about 35 hours a week at my job and was barely passing the 4 classes I had. Most of my money went towards food, clothes, gas, and car insurance.

The job was interfering with my school work. I never did any of the homework and I even stopped showing up for my English class, which was my morning class and who wants to get up that early for English. As the end of school was upon me I came to the realization that I was not going to be passing senior English, I mean if I wasn’t showing up it makes sense, right.

I was going to have to go to summer school to complete my high school education. On top of that my mom was laid off from her job so money was going to become tight.

After school ended I went to summer school, I started working more hours at my job, and I decided to get a weekend job to help with the finances.

This new job sent me for a drug screening. While waiting for my turn I had this overwhelming feeling of all this pressure on my shoulders and it was just pushing down on me.

Like, oh man what are we going to do. I am going to have to work 7 days a week till my mom gets another job. She is talking about leaving to go be with my brother back east. I still need to get my high school diploma. Money is going to be tight. One thought that keep going through my mind was, “I need to step up and take care of this.”

All this pressure made it very hard for me to take my drug screening. I pushed and pushed and nothing happened. Well something happened I ended up with a hernia from baring down too hard, ha. Just one more thing to add to the pile.

I went and had the surgery. As I recovered from the surgery my mom left to go back east to be with my brother. She had made the decision to move back there and I had made the decision to stay where I was. She had been traveling back and forth from west coast to east coast for some time now.

Things were tough. I existed by working, paying bills, and partying more than I needed to. I had to survive. I had to figure out things that I had never been taught. I had to do this with very little guidance on how to live on my own.

I learned through trial and error about paying bills, buying food, learning how to cook more than just basics (cause eating out all the time was expensive), and taking on new responsibilities that I had never had before. I did it, not without some failure but I did it.

As I was going through this process, which was one of my many rites of passage. Which can be described as periods in my life that forced me to face great challenges and overcome them. The spirit of my family motto “luctor” was strong in me. It is Gaelic for “I struggle, but am not overwhelmed”.

It was not the first time I had to venture into new territory alone, but it was the largest undertaken up to that moment.

As I do with everything in my life I pulled all the life lessons that I could out of those moments of struggle. I learned as I failed and I pushed forward every day with new knowledge to apply to my life.

I want to share some of those nuggets of knowledge with you now.

  • Just because people want to hang out at your place does not make them your friends.

With my new found freedom I also acquired some new “friends”.

I would hang out with them and we would do things together, but they were never really friends. I say this because ultimately I saw that I was being used by them so they had a place to hang out at and crash for the night. Also because I had a functioning car and they did not.

I would be invited places so that I could drive them. If they had another ride I was not invited, go figure that one.

It is my belief now that friends are very important and the quality of that friendship is also very important at any age. It is beneficial that you have some solid close friends that can encourage you and support you to better yourself.

If you think that your friends that you have now are taking advantage of you or using you to benefit themselves, it is time to reevaluate those friendships.

“You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with” -Jim Rohn

  • Understanding what a budget is and how to make one is a great gift to yourself. 

This was before high speed internet and google. This was a time of AOL and dial up, so there was no “just google it.”

No one showed or instructed me on how to budget my money. Or what a budget was. No one explained about the process of income, expenses, and savings.

I understood the basics like do not write checks when you have no money in your account, money comes in and money goes out. The biggest thing I did not know enough about though was savings.

In my head after bills were paid the remaining money was for me to spend how I saw fit. It was not much, but I spent it.

Then I was introduced to credit cards, also something that I did not understand. I understood credit cards as a way to pay and then I can make monthly payments later.

Well, as you can imagine things got tough financially and I had some serious hardships.

Things changed after a friend gave me the book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Robert Kiyosaki. I read that thing cover to cover learning all kinds of new knowledge about finances I had never known.

I needed more so I went to the thrift store and bought someone’s old finance textbook. With that book I learned about budgeting for expenses and income. I also learned about different bank accounts, retirement accounts, and mutual funds.

I began to gain a better understanding of saving and spending.

I sat down formed my first ever budget and did everything I could to stick to it. I still stumbled a lot along the way. Even had a car repossessed after I lost a job.

With every one of my stumbles a learned a life lesson.

    • Key points:
      • Make sure you lay out a monthly budget of your income, expenses, and savings. I have found that averaging the last 3 months is a great way to get an idea of what you are spending and making and then adjust to maintain spending under a certain set amount while setting aside a percentage of savings. My recommendation is an 80/20; 80 spending 20 savings.
      • Use a cash allowance each month for your personal spending of eating out, entertainment, and such. Once that cash is done you are done going out for the month. This will help cut down on overspending through credit cards.
      • Savings is a must. Setting aside 20 percent of your monthly income to prepare for your future (car breaks down, operation needs to be done, retirement), needs to be a priority. So, make it a priority.
      • If you cannot afford something at that moment and are thinking of using a credit card, don’t. Instead tell yourself it will be a goal and save up for it. Then when you have the cash go buy it, if you still want it that is.
      • Ultimately, live within the amount of money you make (minus your savings of 20%). Try your hardest to not spend over your income.
  • Do things that aid in making you a better person.

What do I mean by this? I mean learn, experience, explore, encounter, read, and write.

Being as young as I was and surviving my childhood (which was not walk in the park), I had two main thoughts at this age they were, “There has to be more to life than to work, pay bills, and just exist.” and “I do not believe what people tell me “we are who we are and that will not change”.

I did not understand how there was this idea that the only thing in life is death and taxes. Being in the work force and living on my own at my age I still wanted to get out there and do things in life. I wanted to change the world somehow. I was not sure at that time how. I did jump into a start-up for a clothing line of my own hoping that through this business I could express my thoughts on life through my shirts.

I still firmly believe that there is more to life than just working, pay bills, and existing. I challenge you to take up a discipline (learn a skill and own it till you master it), to start that business you have always wanted to, to travel to new foreign places, read a book that expands your mind making you want to be a better you, take that course at school or return to school for a degree, and immerse yourself into a culture different from your own.

I refuse to believe that people are who they are and there is no changing them.

As I see it, with each new challenge I face, I have a choice. I can either face this challenge head on or I can avoid at all costs and go on my merry way. Both choices will create something new that becomes part of who I am.

Avoiding the challenge creates within me a pattern of behavior where I avoid hard times in my life, so that I can continue to have a what I think is a problem free life.

Heading straight on into those challenges and then gaining all the knowledge and skills I can from the challenge will change me and my mindset. I will become smarter, faster in my processing, and be more aware of things situations I face.

This is how I have lived the majority of my life. I learn from my challenges by facing them head on. I take what I learn and I apply it to my life. Thus, bringing about changes within myself.

Now, what I am talking about is not the idea that I need to change until I am perfect. Screw perfection! That is a concept that is difficult to define. No one has ever seen perfection, so how do we even know what it is when we see it.

Some would say that Michelangelo’s statue of David is perfect. Now, I have seen this statute and it is something to marvel at, but perfection “No” it has flaws just like we all have flaws.

The idea I am talking about here is working at becoming the best version of yourself you have ever been.

Ultimately never stop learning because to learn is to live, to not is to die. Figuratively of course, but you get the idea. Keep striving to level-up.

Those are 3 things that I learned during early young adult years. They have been valuable lessons that I carry with me everywhere I go.

To recap: make and maintain quality friends that build you up as you do them, gain a greater understanding of your finances so that you can have better discipline with your income, with the hope that one day you will retire at a great age to enjoy more of life, and lastly strive to be a better you through experiencing, taking risks, and learn all you can.

There are more things I learned, but honestly that is for another post.

As always thank you reading. We appreciate any shares, reblogs, comments, and likes.

 

The 3 Step Process To Learning

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Written by: John Glass

Every time we read something new, try something new, listen to something new, and do something new we are learning. As we learn our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors begin to change. Our brains physically change.

Interesting thing about learning is that it is not something that just happens spontaneously. The most basic formula for learning is a three step formula of becoming aware, gathering information, and applying to real life. Continue reading “The 3 Step Process To Learning”

Turn Off Your Autopilot and Navigate Your Life

Written by: Jeffrey Craig

The older I get, the more I see it. Friends, family, and even strangers are living on autopilot. What do I mean by that?

By living on autopilot, I mean that they spend each day doing the same mundane tasks, living the same routine over and over without any change or purpose behind what they do. They are not putting a conscious effort into the way they live their lives and have no goals for themselves.

People who live on autopilot can be seen everywhere. They are the ones you see at a job they’ve hated working at for 15 years, eating at the same restaurant every week, or even getting the same exact haircut that they’ve had since high school. They are the people that wake up each day just to see it end again. You may know someone like this. You may even be one of them yourself.

A few days ago, I met a friend of mine I haven’t seen in a while. While we were catching up, I was so amazed by what she has accomplished in such little time. She had switched companies to a higher position and higher paying job, she had started her own travel blog, and had even begun taking steps into starting her own business. The most fascinating part however, was the fact that her identical twin sister had accomplished nothing since the last time I saw her. She was working the same job, frequenting the same bars, and had no sign of enthusiasm for life or her own personal success.

I was dumbfounded. How could this be? How could two people who are genetically identical in every way and raised by the exact same parents have lives that contrast so significantly from one another? My friend explained it loud and clear. Her sister was living on autopilot while she had made the conscious decision to take control of her own life.

Once a person is on autopilot, it is very challenging to turn it off. Here are 4 steps on how to flip the autopilot to the off position, grab ahold of the steering wheel, and begin navigating to the life you want.

Recognize It

The first and most important step is recognizing that you’re actually running on autopilot. Because there is no actual intent in what the person does in their day to day, it would be near impossible to recognize whether or not you are this person.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

Have you experienced anything new or exciting recently?

Are you currently working on any goals for yourself?

Is your life different now than it was year ago?

Have you struggled with any challenges recently?

Would you say that you would like more out of life than what you have now?

If you answered “no” to any or all of these questions, then there is a good chance you are running on autopilot. Once you have recognized that you are running off autopilot, the next challenge is turning it off.

Turn It Off

The most challenging component of this step is the hard truth that turning off autopilot is not nearly as simple as just flipping a switch. This requires an immense amount of self-awareness. You must be mindful of each action you take in your daily life and ask yourself if what you are doing has an intention behind it or if it is simply an automatic behavior that has no contribution to your life.

Once you begin catching these autopilot behaviors, you can then begin terminating them over time. I am sure you’ve heard the saying “Old habits die hard.” Turning off autopilot falls right in line with that. Some automatic behaviors will be easier to cease than others, but don’t let that discourage you. Progress is the goal, not perfection.

Redirect Yourself

Once you have begun shutting down the behaviors that had you on autopilot, the next step is redirecting yourself to a place of purpose. This is probably the most enjoyable step because it opens you up to a world of abundance and possibilities. In this step, you get to create a map of where you want to go and who you want to be. This is the goal setting phase where you ask yourself questions that elicit inspiration and motivation:

What are some new experiences I can have right now?

What goals would I like to achieve in life?

What are some activities I have always wanted to do but haven’t done yet?

The answers to these questions and more lay the groundwork for what will become the direction of your life. This change of course will create new behaviors that will eventually lead to living the life you want.

Navigate Your Life

Now that you have recognized that you’ve been running on autopilot, turned it off, and redirected yourself, it is time to actually start navigating your life. This step is probably the most difficult because it requires ACTION.

The reason most people are living their lives on autopilot is because it’s easy. Their behaviors are automatic, which requires little to no effort on their part. To live a life of intent and purpose, however, would require struggle, change, and failure. Although unpleasant, these are necessary to achieve what we want out of life.

Ask any successful person who is living their dream and I can assure you they did not get where they were without hard work and determination. Continue navigating your life in the direction you want and I assure you that one day you will reach your destination.