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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Follow Through

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

Not everything we do, or want to do, is on an equal level of priority. Time, by its very nature, is most finite resource. When we prioritize on thing, we un-prioritize another.

I tend to get lost in what I call ‘shiny object syndrome’ and sidetrack myself with other interests and ideas I have in the middle of what I’m doing. However, at the end of the day I’ve done a bunch of different things without actually accomplishing what I wanted to do.

Does the immediate take priority over the important?

Does the shiny take priority over the meaningful?

No. We need to put our meaningful tasks / desires first and follow through with what matters to us.

Follow Through with what’s important to you.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #771


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Make Your Art

“True art is characterized by an irresistible urge in the creative artist.”

Albert Einstein

Everyone has their own way of creating their art. The key is to find what works for you best and stick to it.

Perhaps you’ve only got a couple of minute’s in the day between classes to jot down a few sentences for your book, or maybe you’ve only have a hour or two after your job to work on your business, or maybe your lucky and you get paid to do what you love. Whatever the life circumstances, making time for what you love is essential for happiness and meaning.

Take what you’ve got and work around it to make time for your art.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #768


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Creative Reps

“There are really three parts to the creative process. First there is inspiration, then there is the execution, and finally there is the release.”

Eddie Van Halen

A creative life is all about repetition. First, repetition gives you a routine, then makes you better faster, and finally, it builds you into the creative person you wish to be.

Repetition creates routine (habit / ritual / space)

In order to build a life around a creative pursuit, we must make it apart of your normal routine. To be an X, we must do X. To be a painter, you must paint. Writer’s write. Designer’s design. Musician’s play. Being someone who wishes they could draw doesn’t cut it either. A creative life requires work.

But what about the things we used to enjoy? It’s perfectly natural to retire/archive what you once were, and quit what you don’t enjoy. But if your desire is purse a craft and create, then you must create on a consistent basis.

Repetition makes you better faster.

Being a creative — aka being an X who does an X thing — doesn’t make you great at your creative pursuit. We all start at a different level of playing field with the talent and resources we bring to our craft, but talent and resources quickly lose out when it comes to practicing consistently and deliberately. The more we practice, the more talent doesn’t matter. Gene’s matter to an extent. Does inconvenient Gene’s stop you from doing what you love? No! If you want to play for the NBA but are too short to ride any rides at Disneyland, then you’ve got your work cut out for you. In fact, being short and having to find clever and unique ways to stand out might be to your advantage.

Repetition builds creative muscle.

The more you create and explore your art, the more ideas will flow out of you (…eew ). We could have a string of bad creative ideas for seven days but on the eighth day have an amazing idea. Would we have had the great idea if we haven’t gone through the crappy ones? Who’s to say. I think ideas sometimes hit us at the right moment, and other times need some time to stew. I find myself writing about similar ideas, but approaching them at different angles with fresh eyes.

Have you gotten your reps in today?

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #767


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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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Daily Habit Ideas

“Yet habit – strange thing! what cannot habit accomplish?”

Herman Melville

It’s simple to say, but the best daily habit you could do is the one thing in your life you would love to improve in. If you could master any skill or character trait instantly, what would it be? Starting a daily habit is one method of achieving it.

Here are some ideas to get you started.

Continue reading “Daily Habit Ideas”

Total Effort

“Always make a total effort, even when the odds are against you.”

Arnold Palmer

I’m not one for half-*ssing things, but being lazy isn’t the only way to do it.

When you’re interested in a lot of things, you naturally end up spreading your time out into a lot of different area. In some ways this is beneficial. Every area you pursue doesn’t live in a bubble. Each pursuit mixes and passes energy with each other. But if you’re not careful, it’s easy to spread yourself too thin and inevitably do poorly in a bunch of things. (Not to mention leave nothing but a trail of unfinished projects in your wake.)

Whatever you pursue direct yourself towards it completely. Find a handful of things you want to excel at and focus all your efforts towards mastering them.

Remember, most don’t even become masters of one thing, let alone two or three things.

That’s why it’s vital for us to direct our time and energy towards what and who is important to us, rather than trying to do it all.

Few is better than many. One is better than none. If you’ve got a lot of responsibilities and only have time for one pursuit, go after it with all you’ve got.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #756


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