How to live with your eyes wide open

Nine years ago I was on the verge of an awakening.  Metaphorically one might compare my existence prior to a deep catatonic state of consciousness. I’ve mentioned before that there are chunks of my life I honestly cannot remember as an all too active participant in the rat race of work hard play hard. I don’t know the exact moment when I ‘snapped out of it,’ I do remember that the jolt was so forceful it inspired a quest to reclaim the only holy grail that mattered: Me.

There is a special kind of adrenaline rush that comes from engaging in activities that are hella beyond your comfort zone. And I’m not talking about the Mayhem that is online dating, I am talking about stepping off the beaten path into the world that’s right in front of you. Consider that most people live in a perpetual time loop. They go from home to the gym to work, then home to do it all over again.  It’s only recently that people are starting to take note of how to live a better life.

It’s a work in progress but I am trying to live the best life I know. I’ve learned how to surf on water and volcanic ash. Well actually I chickened out on the volcano surfing, as it involved thunder, lightning and a metal toboggan. I tried my hand at samurai sword fighting, discovered a love for boas, cheerleading and the shimmy while performing burlesque, and fulfilled a life long dream of visiting India and experienced an ‘as good as it gets’ Bollywood-like wedding. Sadly, no livestock was in attendance. I’ve travelled through Southeast Asia, taken mermaid lessons (video available upon request), started my own business, uncovered killer street art, learned how to meditate in a monastery, and hiked the elusive Tiger’s Nest.

This summer I spent two weeks in Paris immersing myself in everyday life. One of my favorite moments was a picnic by the Seine watching the late night (10PM!) sunset over Ile de St Louis. I dashed away for the weekend to hike in the Swiss Alps. That experience alone was so freeing, the natural vista was absolutely stunning and confirmed that the Japanese phenomenon of Shinrin-yoku, or ‘forest bathing’ is real.

When I embarked on this journey to find myself—yes, I know its so cliché but it’s true!—I had no idea the benefits it would reap. I’ve learned how to extend my limits as if a multiverse lived inside of me, engaging and interacting with the world’s citizens, strangers now friends.

There is real joy in creating distance from the norm that is your life. If it sounds daunting, start with a few hours a day in your own neighborhood. Once you get into the rhythm, expand beyond the familiar into a new borough or city. Make your weekends count and go somewhere you’ve never been before. Soon enough you will realize how each and every experience can positively affect and influence your life. The more you engage in a practice of self-discovery, the more natural it will be to finally take those weeks of vacation you’ve been accumulating.

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