Back to the Present

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

Heraclitus

“The value of experience is not in seeing much, but in seeing wisely.”

William Osler

I live in the present. I’m often looping and replaying events from the past (and from my imagination) in my head and thinking about how I can reverse engineer a better future for myself (and others). But the road to a better future lies in the actions we take today.

Every beginning is an ending. Yesterday’s ending was today’s beginning. We naturally feel called to rise when the sun wakes and rest when the sun sleeps. One blank page leads to another blank page. One life-changing event or stage in life leads to another.

It’s easy to forget this in the busyness of life. It’s easy to get stuck on yesterday’s failure than focus our efforts on today’s open opportunity. Every so often I’ve let one day ruin a week, by holding onto something that bothered me, something that made me feel sorry for myself — but what did that give me? Don’t get me wrong, sometimes you have to just feel things out. It’s no good to keep emotions bottled inside like food in a pressure cooker. But we don’t get another day like this one. Today is our chance to follow our hearts and create what we feel called to make and change what we want to change.

Step forward into the light. Seek challenge and new experiences while you can today.

It’s okay to be both nostalgic (or even sad) for the past experiences AND optimistic for the new experience.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #777 😇


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Unconforming

“Anybody with artistic ambitions is always trying to reconnect with the way they saw things as a child.”

Tim Burton

“When I was a little kid we had a sandbox. It was a quicksand box. I was an only child… eventually.”

Steven Wright

As we grow older and experience the world, it’s easy to build walls around you to protect yourself from harsh realities life throws at you.

A broken heart before knowing what love is. A naive blunder you were tricked into. A mistake of genuine thoughtlessness. A moment of angry that backfires. Broken bones or injuries that show you how un-invincible you are. Shopping sprees on things you don’t even own anymore. Detours from your calling.

Been there, done that.

Layer by layer — without actually learning how to live well (in school for example) — we fortify ourselves from our mistakes and challenges we face in life. Sometimes this is good and keeps others from taking siege to our castle (the little bit of land of control we are holding onto). But it also puts a barrier between us and the world. And often it puts a barrier between us and ourselves. We separate who we are (what we like, what we dislike, who we aspire to be, what we enjoy doing for fun) with who the world wants us to be (or who we think we should be).

You could sum this long-winded sentence with the word ‘conformist’. We conform to what society wants for us, what our parents want for us, what our friends want for us and even what our moments of pain and setbacks want for us.

You break your arm skateboarding and you never pick up a board again. Or you do but you lose interest and eventually stop.

You feel betrayed in a relationship and the next time someone comes into your life you guard yourself against their potential betrayal. (Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!)

Instead of going to college for dance — the thing you’ve done since you were 3 years old — you play it safe because your parents tell you to do and you become a lawyer instead.

I’ve spent a lot of time working the last decade, and not always on the right things (for me).

We build up these walls to protect us, but ultimately they mostly just keep us locked up. But we don’t have to cage ourselves up to experience life. Hard moments are part of what life gives us. They are the lessons and detours that show us what is meaningful to us. Difficulty shows us how rad the good times are.

This past year, I’ve been slowing adding more and more childlike curiosity, wonder, imagination and play into my daily living. Creativity is a large part of my job. But this goes beyond increasing my creative abilities for work (although I do want that too).

By adding more and more of who we were and what we enjoyed growing up, we’ll begin to peel our ‘protective’ barriers, like layers of an onion, and find pieces of joy to keep.

Life is too short to take everything too seriously and conform to everyone around us instead of creating our unique path.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #774


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Untangling the Spider’s Web

“Behind every beautiful thing, there’s some kind of pain.”

Bob Dylan

“Face your life, its pain, its pleasure, leave no path untaken.”

Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book

Pain has a strong tendency to inflict more pain. The more pain you experience, the more pain you want to release from yourself. Sometimes that means lashing out to your co-workers and sometimes that means picking a meaningless fight with your significant other.

You can see this in families, each passing on unique generational pain to the next. “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”. You can see this in relationships. We can easily cast blame, criticism, and frustrations on others around us, usually because we are tired and scared and disappointed in ourselves. Likely the worst victim is pain and self-loathing we inflict on ourselves. We can internalize painful moments we experience and hold it in, ricocheting like bullet fragments within our psyche.

The problem is, even if there is clearly someone we can point the finger too, blame and dwelling on mistakes and what’s wrong don’t heal the pain. Rather, dwelling on past mistakes or unfortunate circumstances only roots us in deeper into loss and regret.

But if we take our lives into our own hands through responsibility and ownership over what’s in our control, we can find a way forward that breaks the cycle and untangles the web of pain we (and others) weave.

Pain can sometimes make us better. Not all pain, but some. The hardest experience in my life has defined who I am more than anything else. I am who I am because of the pain I’ve experienced and the path’s pain has lead me on. It didn’t always start positive — I didn’t enjoy the pain when it happened. But with the right open perspective and surrounding myself with knowledgeable people and books, I found the good in the difficult. There’s beauty in that, in a somewhat sideways half-glance sort of way.

We all feel moments of disappointment, anxious, sad, regretful, bitter, fearful, uncertain, broken-hearted, lonely, hopeless, melancholy and meek at some point. The key to living well is to not let those tiny moments become you.

We all feel moments of disappointment, anxious, sad, regretful, bitter, fearful, uncertain, broken hearted, lonely, hopeless, melancholy and meek at some point. The key to living well is to not let those tiny moments become you.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #773


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Wind in the Sail

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

December always puts me in a reflective mood. Blame it on the cozy weather, nostalgic music or the New Year’s hustle and bustle, I’ve been thinking quite a bit recently about the ups and downs of this past year.

Honestly, this year been one of the hardest I’ve been through. I’ve worked a ton this year, but don’t have much to show for it. I spent a lot of time co-running at a start-up, working long hours, underpaid, undervalued and thinking I was an owner but in reality, was anything but. The founder said I had equity, but unfortunately, He was omitting the truth and never actually (intended to) give me ownership. Amor Fati. His loss.

I’ve had good opportunities, but I’ve also been coming into December with financial flubs (mostly from short term problems and emergencies I wasn’t able to resolve immediately) and feelings of bitterness I’m trying to shake off like a bad taste.

There are some great things happening in my life right now, but (why is there a but) honestly I feel a little like the wind has been let out of my sails. Meaning, I don’t feel as confident in myself and my dreams lately. Perhaps I just need to rest more and recover.

Perhaps we all need to rest a little more than we do.

I’m stressed, but I don’t feel stuck. Change meets us right away and adds up each day that passes. Life is to short to get stuck feeling stuck.

New work opportunities. New friends and deep connections with old friends. New confidence.

Here are a few ways we can add more wind to our sails:

Get out of your element:

  • Go to different spaces
  • Try new activities and hobbies
  • Grab a friend and go dancing

Play like a kid:

  • Do something you loved to do as a kid
  • Go outside and make up an imaginary game to play
  • Go do something nourishing for the hell of it.

Sleep and Move MF:

I don’t think we were made to sit and look at a screen all day.

  • Make time for making things with your hands
  • Make time for nature
  • Make time for conversations with friends

Eat as well as you can:

  • Eat something more than just pizza and pasta for Josh’s sakes.
  • Cook a healthy meal, salmon or lots of veggies
  • Try fasting in between all the feasting

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #766


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Technicolor Life

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

Søren Kierkegaard

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”

Mother Teresa

When I hear stories of near-death moments or sudden health scares, I try to stop and absorb the incredibly difficult lessons learned from their experiences. But it’s hard to not let the day-to-day busyness of life steamroll over what’s most important

Near-death, injury, loss, betrayal… bad outcomes can give us technicolor vision and drive (but can also make us bitter and resentful too if we are taking in the wrong lessons).

For me, that’s my chronic neck pain, which shows me what matters (health, rest, nutrition, proper exercise and mental and emotional wellbeing).

It’s also showed me not to let what doesn’t matter (the busyness of life) control my time and energy.

At any moment, this could be it. Knock on keyboard, but what if this was the last post I was capable of writing? What if that last goodbye was it? What if today was all we had?

Would you be satisfied with the life you’ve had up until this moment? Would you be happy with how you ended things?

I wouldn’t.

Will X decision matter in 12 months? Will Y still be important in 5 years from now?

That’s why it’s vital for us to live our truth and do the things we wish we would do or be better at. If we can learn to live in the moment, while also pursuing a better future, we’ll be in a good place.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #762


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Thinking thoughts about thinking

“If you run into an *sshole in the morning, you ran into an *sshole. If you run into *ssholes all day, you’re the *sshole.”

Raylan Givens, Justified

‘Bad things happen for a reason’

Says the hopeful person going through a rough time.

‘Good things happen to those who work for it’ —

Says the fortunate person who got a lucky break.

‘Says the fortunate person who got a lucky break’

Says the guy envious of the other person’s lucky break.


These people are like us, experiencing life and attaching ourselves to the picture, fortune and misfortune, negative and optimism. ‘It’s neither good nor bad, but thinking makes it so.’

Our mindset is ultimately the only thing we have true control over. (And there are some who unfortunately don’t even have that.)

It’s the first move. The second being our action and decision we make around our thoughts and what we let into our minds.

If I were Dr. Seuss, I’d say something like:

You are what you’re thinking thunk.

Sometimes, our current reality can get in the way of our minds, and our minds can limit our reality. Of course, our opinions matter. Our ideas matter. Our beliefs matter. Our values matter. But if you feel stuck, or less than who you want to be, then perhaps it’s time to rewrite your thoughts and ideas about things, so you can create a slightly better version of yourself and find joy when you experience the ups and downs in life.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #759


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Because Reasons

“Never underestimate the power of anyone’s story… anyone’s life.”

Abby Johnson

“If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.”

Orson Welles

Two opposing thoughts to events in our lives:

“How could I be so unlucky? Why is this happening to me?”

“How could I be so lucky? I have so many opportunities coming my way it’s crazy. Why is this happening to me?”

Whether you are going through good times, bad, or a little of both, there’s one thing to consider:

Perhaps it is all happening for a reason.

Maybe this is exactly where you need to be, so that you can learn to become a better version of yourself that you are capable of being. Maybe this is what needed to happen so that you can use your story and your hard (or expectational) life lessons to create an impact in the lives of others who needed help.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #753


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Creativity is the Medicine for the Soul

“Odd how the creative power at once brings the whole universe to order.”

Virginia Woolf

“Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.”

Rumi

Why do we create? To express ourselves, sure. To be somebody. To highlight something important to the world. And yet, creativity goes much deeper than that.

The act of creating doesn’t just work outwardly, it’s also an act that works within us.

Creativity is an outlet of inner work and outer work. By expressing ourselves through our art, we learn and nurture our own selves.

There are moments in our lives where everything feels like a struggle. Moment where we feel stuck in the same old same old we find ourselves in again. Broken bones, childhood trauma’s, disappointment, broken hearts, loneliness, pain, injury, fear, uncertainty, apathy, burnout, brokenness, bitterness, anger… Sometimes life can be overwhelming. Creating is a great way to work through our thoughts and emotions. Because

Creativity is the Medicine for the Soul.

Why else would some of the greatest songs, books, films, poems, dances, and works of art come from sadness and pain. It’s a form of self-therapy* that releases pent-up energy. Creating something — whatever it is for you — is like a pressure valve release on our minds, bodies and souls. The more we create, the more capable we become. Creativity comes from happy places too. Happy moments need creative expressions just as much as the difficult moments do.

Whatever you are feeling, whatever you are going though. Creating something is an excellent tool in the toolkit.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #740

*that being said, always talk to a professional first if you need it.


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A Lifelong Journey

“Making the work you want to make means finding nourishment within the work itself.”

David Bayles and Ted Orland, Art & Fear

Great things take time. That’s why if we’ve got to love the process of our work. When you love what you do, then all you have to do is keep challenging yourself and keep pursuing it no matter what. Failure sucks. But stopping because you failed (or stopping because of some random thing in life got in the way) sucks even worse. Because you’re left with feelings of ‘what if’. What if I kept going? What if I never quit? What if we decided to be ‘crazy’ and never stop?

As long as we’re still breathing, we have a chance to start again. Doing something because you loving do is all the validation you need to keep doing it. Everything will try to get in the way of your creativity — most of all yourself. Ever the more reason to resist and do it anyway.

We may not be where we want to be, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy where we are. As long as we keep going strong, we’ll get there when we are ready. Enjoying where we are is tricky, because by its very nature, growing and improving yourself highlights that you’re not at the level you want to be yet. Of course, there’s not really a there there. ‘There’ is just another moment on the continuous path of a lifelong journey.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #732


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The High-road of Pain

“Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.”

Rumi

Pain is a two-sided story. Pain can close you off and make you focus only on yourself and your struggles. Or, pain can open you up to the pain we all experience and connect you through that shared experience.

Pain is a curse and a gift. It shows you that something is wrong and yet also motivates you to work towards something better.

It’s a sharp blade that allows us to cut to the essence of life. An injury for example. You don’t realize how important your back is until you can’t use it anymore. You don’t realize how much you need an arm or collar bone or knee until you break it.

Pain can either drive us to cope (with food, drinking, risk, etc) or drive us to live fully and deeply. (And unfortunately sometime we end up destroying ourselves to ultimately find ourselves.)

Suffering is an easy choice, but it’s not the only choice.

All this to say, you are not alone in your struggles. Everyone is going through something, we just don’t often see it or know how to handle it.

But if we first learn to look to helping others instead of only helping ourselves, and if we seek out connections of experience, we will inevitably also learn how to help ourselves as well.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #731


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