We Are Called to Rise

So, I’ve been working on this blog post for a while now and it never quite felt right. Originally, I was simple going to write this as a book review, tell you about a cool book I read with a quick life lesson and that would be that. But it’s the life lesson that I really want to focus on.

I read We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride. It’s a good story. She dives into the first-person perspective of different characters and allows the reader to feel their emotions. I’ve read many books where authors try this tactic and in my opinion don’t really hit the mark. McBride on the other hand, does this very well. Each character has a different voice and personality that you can hear in the writing. You can tell when you are reading from the perspective of the 8 year-old immigrant boy, middle-age divorcee, or the injured military vet – as you should.

We Are Called to Rise is one of the stories where they all end up connected in the end. One tragic moment in time changes their lives. While reading this particular scene, I almost wanted to shout at each of character, “Hang on, you don’t understand. This person went through that, and that person is feeling this so that’s why they are acting like that.”

I started explaining this in my previous draft of this blog post, and it made me stop and think. I just recently wanted to shout the same thing while reading comments on my social media feeds. The other day I was scrolling through Facebook reading snarky, rude, nasty comments. Some of these comments were in response to a friend or a family member who I knew was going through something; there was a larger story behind their original posts. Then there were others that were just generally rude. I just wanted to stand up with my arms outstretched protecting all of my loved ones from more anguish like a protective mama bear.

Between politics and an overwhelming intake of media, our emotions are high. We are all filled with so much negative energy. Yes, social media platforms seem to increase this frustrated mob mentality, but we can’t blame it solely as the reason why we communicate so horribly with each other. It’s our choice to respond the way we respond. It’s our choice to publish that post with a sarcastic tone, or respond with ridicule. That’s on us. Yes, I include myself in this. I am not perfect either.

We need to take a second to really consider the other people we are talking to. We all work, go to school, deal with traffic, pay bills, … and have all of these other stressors in life. Life is hard completely on its own. Why must we add to that stress and anguish even more by trashing other people?

No, I am not asking for a “safe space.” Let’s talk differences of opinions and learn about new perspectives, but let’s do so with respect.

Yes, sometimes we ourselves are already frustrated for whatever reason and sometimes we can’t stop that frustration from coming out in our tone even if the person we are talking to has nothing to do with the thing that frustrated us to begin with. That’s human nature. But let’s take responsibility for this and make a conscious effort to take a breath before responding, not responding at all or apologize when we realize we said it the wrong way.  

I truly believe there are billions of us in this world, not so that we act as hurdles ready to tear each other down, but so we can act as support beams to lift each other up. Think about what this world would look like if we did that. Like the title of the book, we ARE called to rise. 

Just my thoughts for the day. Okay rant over.  Enjoy the rest of your week!

 

If you do get some time check out We Are Called to Rise. It is a great read.

 

American Drifter

American Drifter. I found this book after looking up Chad Michael Murray one day. I’ve been re-watching a few episodes of One Tree Hill to reminisce and I wondered whatever happened to the beloved actor that played Lucas Scott. Of course I went to the web and discovered he had a book out.

Chad Michael Murray is the co-author of American Drifter with Heather Graham. I had to read this!!

American Drifter is about a veteran who served in the Middle East. He’s a bit war torn struggling with nightmares and emotional stressors. River finds solace in Rio de Janiero and travels around with only a backpack.

One Tree Hill fans will remember the way Lucas Scott was so eloquent with his words and book quotes. Reading American Drifter you can almost hear that same tone of colorful descriptions and romantic imagery. Best yet, the audio version is narrated by Chad Michael Murray himself. Fans can enjoy the same rustic voice they fawned over during the show as they listen to the story.

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The writing draws you in capturing the beauty that is Brazil. The traveler in me swoons. It’s majestic and romantic. It’s harsh with dangerous edges. Rio is home to wonderful natives and travelers alike. With this book, Rio de Janiero and the Christ the Redeemer statue becomes an absolute MUST on the travel bucket list.

The story takes off a bit slow as it creates the scene allowing the reader to become attached to River’s character, and develop a picture of his surroundings. For me, it worked. I loved hearing more about Brazil. For others, it may take a minute to get hooked but this is one of those you want to stick with to the end. Don’t put it down just yet.

American Drifter will take you for a ride. There are memories of bombs, romance and love, carefree adventures, drug dealers, and high speed chases. It’s fresh and different from anything I’ve read recently.

I read a lot so generally I can guess endings to most stories. They always follow the same themes. This time, I thought I had the ending pinged. But then American Drifter took quite a plot twist. It was intriguing and jaw dropping. It’s one of those where you finally put the book down in shock. I loved it! However, after reading I read a few other reviews for this and discovered quite a few people didn’t like the ending. It was too much of a curve-ball for them. I can understand that. I liked it because it was so different and unexpected. It’s all a matter of opinion and what you are expecting to read.

All in all I really enjoyed this book. With that said, I had a biases from the get go.

First, knowing it was Chad Michael Murray I knew I was going to at least somewhat like it. I’ve never read any of Heather Graham’s other books, but I may need to do so in order to see how Murray’s involvement impacted the writing. It was obviously a smart marketing move for whoever decided to put the authors together – to get those like me to pick it up for Murray’s name.

Also, Rio de Janiero has been on my dream travel list for a long time now. So of course I swooned. The book tells a lot about the history of Brazil describes the culture and mentions a few tourist attractions. It all sounds gorgeous. However, I haven’t taken the trip yet, so I can’t acclaim to how truthful the writing is. If you’ve traveled to Rio or are from Brazil, read the book and let me know.

Either way read it and let me know what you think. American Drifter is currently only available in hard copy or audio book. I found mine at my local library, but it’s one I’ll most likely purchase a copy to keep.

Birthday Month Reflection

It’s September, and my birthday month is over. I’ll be honest I didn’t do something to celebrate every single 31 days of August, but I did do quite a lot and had a ton of fun.

Looking back one major takeaway I had from this month – realizing how many amazing people I have in my life. Last month, I joined amazing women from Women on Adventures for a couple of dares. I celebrated with life-long friends, and relatively new friends. I re-connected with a couple of friends I hadn’t seen in awhile. And of course there’s always the strong army of my family. It’s pretty cool to really see how many people have your back in life. Thank you to all of you for your love and support!

A quick recap of the month:

  • Surfing
  • Bought my favorite childhood movie
  • Chocolate treats
  • Indoor Skydiving
  • Breakfast with an old friend
  • Vulnerable conversation
  • Booked a flight to San Francisco for surfing part 2
  • Face & hair masks

There’s probably a few others that I’m forgetting.

As I said in my last post, my dares and adventures have only just begun. It’s interesting, when I created my vision board I wrote a post saying I didn’t know how to become the type of person that would just go out and do whatever crazy thing comes up. I think the true trick is to be that person you have to just start. You have to wake up the next day and just do the first crazy dare you’ve always wanted to do. Take a deep breath and then do the next crazy dare, and so on. Before you know it you are that person, up and ready for the next adventure.

I told my friend yesterday, I’m waiting for that lazy crawl into a cave side of me to kick back in. It might. But I think when it does it’ll be temporary and simply to allow myself to rest. I don’t see myself stopping these adventures completely.

In fact, I’ve actually started a 30 Things to Do Before 30 list. I only have 10 things right now, but I’m working on it. There’s travel for sure, real skydiving, motorcycle ride (not to drive it just to be a passenger and see what it feels like), blind date (because it sounds nerve-wracking but a funny story to tell later), and a few other personal ones.

Happy Birthday month to my September birthday friends!

My Point Break Adventure Part 2

Defying gravity once again …

For the second part in my “Point Break Adventure”, I went Indoor Skydiving at iFly. It was my baby steps to preparing to actually jump out of an airplane.

I was a bit nervous when I arrived. The instructor called me to remind me to braid my hair first. I guess the small hairs can get pulled in the tunnel. Yikes! I braid my hair and make my way over to iFly. Technically, I’m supposed to be the host for today’s Women on Adventures event. There were a couple of others RSVPd, but I hadn’t met them yet so I wore my WoA tank top to help them identify me. I told my nerves to buck it up, I had to lead the group in this after all.

Our flight instructor brought us into a room to teach us the correct body positioning and the hand signals while in the tunnel. You can’t hear much so the instructors signal you when to straighten or legs, lift your chin or just relax. She then reminded us that it is a high intensity sport. When you see the videos it looks so easy, like everyone is just floating in the their air tunnel.

Nope! During my first flight I was quite surprised at how difficult it actually is. The air pressure pushes down on your body making it difficult to hold yourself still in the right position. And you have to hold it just right, any variance will make you twist around in weird ways. Once you get it you kind of glide around the air tunnel.

The second turn to fly comes quickly. At the beginning of check-in, they asked if we want to do the “high fly.” This is when the instructor takes you higher up the tunnel to really get the feeling of flying. Originally this was explained to me as a fast full 360 spin. I don’t like spinning sensations, so I said no. However, the instructors essentially force you to do it anyway. On one side it’s a bit annoying because it’s an extra cost, but at the other side THAT was an awesome experience. 

At first one of the instructors helped me get into position again back in the tunnel. Then before I knew it I was floating up and around. It was so cool! No stomach drop roller coaster sensation or dizziness. You barely even feel like you are spinning. It was quite a rush. I don’t really know how to describe, but I walked away with a ton of exhilarated energy.

I definitely have to say, NOW I am actually ready for the real deal. If it was that much of an adrenaline rush just flying in the tunnel for a minute I’m excited to experience the real thing.

The month is almost over, but I’m not done yet! My daring self won’t stop after August 31. I intend to keep this up for many more adventures to come.

My Point Break Adventure Part 1

I did it!! I went surfing. That’s one check on the bucket list and the first part of my Point Break adventure.

I’ve mentioned the Point Break movie a few times here. Yes, I’m referring to the older 1991 Point Break with Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze. It was one of my favorites as a kid. In short, Reeves plays an FBI agent who searches for bank robbers / surfers. Swayze’s character is known as the Buddha surfer who describes riding the big breaks akin to being close to the gods. Yes, I know it sounds hokey, but it was the 90s. As a kid I watched this movie mesmerized by the exhilarating surf and skydiving scenes. I wanted to go surfing and skydiving, later my fear of heights grew, but surfing remained forever a wondrous dream.

The Johnny Tsunami Disney movies were my favorites growing up too. And when I would travel to San Diego I would just watch the surfers thinking one of these days I will go try it out. It was always “one of these days.” Really I was scared. It seemed like such a crazy obscure thing to do, left only for the truly wild at hard.

Surfing ended up on my Vision Board that I created a couple of months ago. Each time I look that surfing image pulls at me. But I still needed some sort of a push.

So when I heard Women on Adventures was planning a surf trip I jumped! That was all I needed. This opportunity knocked right at my door at the perfect time when I was ready to unlock my adventurous side. I was the first one to sign up. I didn’t care about the rest of the details. I was in, no question.

The weeks leading up to it, I was nervous. I was worried about my neck issues stirring up. I was silly worried about sharks. I scared of drowning. You name it. All sorts of fears came up to try to talk me out of it. But nope my heart wasn’t having it. Instead, I practiced swimming so I wouldn’t drown. I physically conditioned myself a bit more and brought pain medication and ice packs on the trip for my neck. And I googled shark swim patterns to know for sure how slim the chances were of seeing a shark in August on La Jolla Beach.

Then finally came the day to surf with Surf Diva instructors.

It wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. The instructors were great taking us through all the steps. The showed us how to pop up on the board and taught us a bit about how to read the ocean. Then we got into the water.

Boy were those boards heavy. The hardest part truly is walking those big 9 foot boards through the waves, and repeating every time you get knocked off.

Otherwise, it’s just a blast!

Once you’re going, paddling with the waves at your back you pop up (or try your best at standing up in my case) and it’s seconds of mindless bliss. And I mean a second because, if you’re me, then you fall.

I never got completely up on the board. I was able to pop up in a low crouch, but not completely up. After the first couple of times I kept overthinking things about where to put my feet “ok next time make sure your front foot is forward more and don’t lean so much to the right.” The more I thought about it the worse I did. Then my body got tired. For my last wave, I just got up to my knees and rode the wave in that way (see photo above). That’s all I had for this time and that’s totally okay. At least now I know what to expect for next time, how it feels, how to prepare or rather how not to prepare and just do.

As I write out my thoughts for the day I’m sitting on the beach watching surfers. Some of them get up every time, some get up on one wave then fall the next. Other are falling every time. And there are others just floating on their boards and hanging out. I was never trying to be Patrick Swayze’s stunt double anyway. And by the way, that movie – NO WAY Keanu Reeves learns how to surf those big waves that quickly. Yes, I knew it was only a movie, but still.

I definitely intend to try it again. I’m already looking up surf camps in California, Costa Rica or wherever.

It’s funny. I was so worked up about this, but really it’s like testing out my sister’s skate board or learning how to ice skate. You won’t be amazing the very first time. But once you’ve tried it, it’s no longer this foreign scary obscure concept. It’s just a cool activity I can do from now on if I want.

Moving past the fear just opened me up to more of life. Surfing is now another thing I can say I do. 

And my neck – it was a bit sore that day. I was proactive though with medication, stretching and ice wraps. I’ve already seen my doctor and he says I wasn’t really banged up at all. He was expecting a lot worse. So I can keep going and surf more?! He said “Absolutely!” Well doctor’s order! 🙂

Now on to my next adventure! I won’t exactly be jumping out of a plane quite yet, I still have this whole terrifying fear of heights, but I am going to try Indoor Skydiving at iFly for the 2nd part in my Point Break adventure.

Daring to Be Confident

It’s day 10 of my birthday month! Even though I haven’t blogged everyday, I’ve still been celebrating.

This week had a theme for me: confidence!

I’ve taken the time to remember all of my accomplishments. See, I love mementos. I savor ticket stubs, thank you notes and other things to remind me of some of my favorite experiences in a keepsake box. The other day I opened this box and pulled everything out.

I’ll be honest, the emotions ran rampant as I spread everything out in my front room. I relived lessons from South Africa with Ubuntu (I am because we are) paintings. I re-felt the feelings of triumph as I stared at my medals from half marathons and 5ks. I remembered the confidence I had as I traveled alone through Washington DC and joined a group of then “strangers” exploring Italy. And, I cherished all the love and support I have in my life as I looked at a family photo collage I created a few years back.

I stood over my keepsakes in my living room looking down. This is me! All of this, this is who I am and the person I have become. I love it!

This confidence has carried on. I’ve dared to be bold and sure of myself through a few vulnerable conversations.

Today, I’m grasping on to this confidence with two full fists as I prepare to cross off a huge life goal: SURFING! It’s exciting and a bit frightening, but I’m jumping in ready to conquer with style.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Day 3: Relaxing Bliss

It’s day 3 of my birthday month!! It’s funny, while this is again something I can do any old day, the idea of a birthday month just makes me smile. Yes, I’ve had a few people roll their eyes at me. “You don’t get a month you get a day” I don’t care. I say month so month it is.

The first day I enjoyed a face mask. I won’t post a photo here because it was charcoal black and a tad scary without the context. I also did a hair mask. This is moisturizing ointment to keep your hair soft. I had received this bottle from a Singles Swag box a while back, but never used it. Unfortunately it only covered the ends of my hair, but it smelled pretty.

Yesterday I didn’t plan anything. I actually sat up at 8ish at night thinking I need to do something what do I do. Then I sort of got anxiety to plan something. I was anxious to plan something to celebrate myself. That didn’t make sense. So instead I gave myself permission to do nothing. Then again I did officially book my indoor skydiving adventure for later this month – so we can say actually making that commitment could be it too! 

Today, for day 3 I had to celebrate with some TimTams – chocolate biscuits from Australia. I’ve tried them before, but have recently been saying I was going to grab some from World Market. Today I finally did.

 

 

A birthday month: It’s relaxing bliss. The little frustrations don’t make as much of an impact for me. Let’s hope I can keep this up.