44 things I’ve learned over the past 44 years

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Every year about this time, I have a birthday…

This year, as I turn 45, I felt inspired to reflect on some things I’d learned over the past 44 years…

Here’s the list, one thought for every year…

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1. Keep yourself fit. Use your body. Get outdoors and do stuff. No one gives a rat’s ass whether you have abs, but why not have a strong enough body to explore the adventures of the world?

2. Competition is fine when you’re feeling the need to prove your worth. But when you realize your worth is incalculable, the whole idea of competing for your identity starts to feel a bit silly.

3. There is no right way to live a life. I like my way the best, but it ain’t for everybody. When you’re happy, your way is the right way.

4. The best thing about losing your hair when you’re a young man is that you don’t have to worry about it later. Your vanity gets stripped away and it forces you to develop an inner confidence early on. Or not.

5. The only expert you need to listen to, on anything, is you. But you’ve got to really know yourself, first.

6. Eat what you want to eat. Drink what you want to drink. Smoke what you want to smoke. But whatever you choose, revel in your decision. Enjoy your choice. Bask in it. The problems come when you start second-guessing yourself and listening to the noise.

7. So yeah, alignment is everything. That’s the theory of everything, right there. No need to keep looking for the Holy Grail. It’s always been right at your feet.

8. Death is not the enemy. Death is life. If you can’t deal with death, you’re cut off from some part of life.

9. If a friend loses someone, show up for them. Be present at a wake. No one likes going, (that’s the dumbest excuse ever…) Ask how your friend is doing. At the very least make a call. Talk about it. Of course it’s awkward and there are no magic words. But just do your best. The person who lost someone will remember that you did. And if you didn’t.

10. You cannot convince anyone of anything. You can offer a perspective, but that’s it. Whether someone else can hear you is none of your business. Even then, words do not teach. Only experience teaches.

11. Vehemently siding with one political party doesn’t make you smart. It doesn’t make you right. It just makes you a person who gets angry a lot. It’s a wonderful thing to give up because the people you’re rooting for? They’re not exactly geniuses…

12. Learn to play a song you like on an instrument. It opens something up within you.

13. The more freedom you allow yourself, the more freedom you will want. It never stops and once you start, you cannot go back.

14. Everything and everyone is helping you. Always. Even when they are disguised as problems or assholes.

15. Money comes to me a lot easier when I stop trying to figure out how to make more of it.

16. I’ve learned more practical, life-changing stuff from studying the metaphysics of creation than any other subject. And it’s not even close. Makes all those Dean’s Lists and the Ph.D rather irrelevant to the bigger idea of living well.

18. Few things are as satisfying to complete as a job done with your hands.

19. Grow something from a seed. You will fall in love.

20. Your friends will disappoint you from time to time. They are not you, and their priorities will not always match yours. Accept that. Accept them as they accept you when you disappoint them. But if it happens all the time, let go and move on.

21. If you feel like your parents wronged you in some way, get over it. They were just people like all of us and holding that shit is toxic.

22. People? I really like people. I just don’t want to live around them.

23. If something isn’t working, instead of doubling down of your efforts, the best thing you can do is walk away for a while.

24. You know if you’re with the right person. You can bullshit yourself all you want, trying to convince yourself. But you know whether it’s right or not. And if you’re not, respect yourself enough to get out. It’s never easy, but it’s always worth it.

25. The rules? They were meant to keep you coloring inside the lines. But if you never dare to step out, you’ll never know what you’re really made of…

26. Life’s become much better when you see yourself of the creator of all of it. ALL. OF. IT.  But it’s always easier to blame.

27. When you want something, just say YES. Just allow yourself to say YES. Decide to have it. Give up the hows, the whens, and the whys… Just say Phucket! and see what happens.

28. Life requires minimal planning. (The world pressures you to plan, of course, because it fits with some selfish interest of theirs.) Instead, just pack some rain gear, be flexible on the itinerary and the destination and you’ll have a much better time.

29. We’ve been trained to worship at the altar of complexity. But life can be really simple if you decide that you want it to be.

30. The purpose of your life is to have fun. Period. That’s it. But yeah, that kind of clarity is too simple for some…

31. Busy is the perfect place for people to hide out from their true desires.

32. If you need time for yourself, take it. No one else can give it to you, so stop blaming someone else and just take it. It’s good for everybody.

33. A man wants his woman to bring lightness in to his life. Lightness.

34. Knowing who you are and being that unique person? That’s what’s sexy.

35. If you express your appreciation for your man, he will do most anything for you. Happily.

36. You don’t need to be looking around for a fight, of course. But you shouldn’t be afraid of one, either.

37. It’s perfectly okay to give up. In fact, I think it’s the most underutilized strategy of all time.

38. The most valuable thing my dad ever did for me was to take me into the woods. All he had to do was expose me to the natural world and then I ran with it. And I think, that’s really a parent’s job… to expose your kids to stuff. What they do from there is what they do from there.

39. Most people fear making a wrong decision. But indecision is much more crippling. So decide and stand by your decision.

40. It’s easy to allow the thoughts and creations you like. But the magic resides in allowing the thoughts and creations you don’t like. That’s true allowing. And true allowing is freedom. You’ll need to practice this one…

41. The world will be just fine if you just go and take a nice nap for yourself.

42. If there’s someone you envy because you think they’ve got it better than you, it’s only because you haven’t got a chance to see behind the curtain. As my brother Ned would say, “Everybody’s fucked up in their own special way.” And someone’s looking at you, thinking you have it all, too. Tend your own garden.

43. One of the things I admire most about my son is that he doesn’t listen to me. He does what he wants. And I think my job —  my toughest job —  is to not break that out of him.

44. You can’t wait for your ship to come in. You’ve at least got to get your ass down to the harbor.

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On Hiking and Life’s Greatest Adventure

view from Algonquin

view from Algonquin. previous hike with a sweet view.

Some very cool things happened on yesterday’s hike in the Adirondack High Peaks…

First, to do one of these hikes, well… it takes some doing. It means getting up at 5 AM or so after organizing and packing your gear the night before, and then driving a couple hours north. And then, you gotta hike the dang thing and none of the High Peaks are cakewalks. Sometimes they can be a real slog, challenging your mind, body, and heart, but in the end they all end up being adventures… That’s the allure.

So shortly before reaching our destination for the day, we stopped off at the lone Stewart’s convenience store for a few supplies. On my way in, a man sitting outside in the morning sunlight caught my eye. I thought I knew him.

On my way out I asked his name, and sure enough it was him — one of my favorite authors. I don’t think he gets recognized much and he seemed to light up as I expressed my appreciation for his work. Catching him in his element, deep in the north country, enjoying a quiet cup of coffee and a morning cigarette, well, it was a very cool moment for me on a lot of levels I struggle to put into words.

The best way I can express the feeling it is that I knew this moment was created for ME. And I knew I created the moment. The times when I recognize my life unfolding for me like this? I just feel wave after wave of the goodness of life… Spine-tingling goodness.

So we preceded to our hike which was filled with pumping hearts, sweat, mud, and good conversation. There are 46 High Peaks in New York (mountains over 4000 ft) and to be a “46er” you need to climb them all. Today’s hike was about knocking off a couple unsexy peaks that offer no rewarding views at the top. As the saying goes, you climb it because it’s there. That, and the whole adventure thing…

Near the beginning of this hike there’s a brook that requires crossing, and on a previous attempt in late fall, the water was too fast, deep, and cold for us to cross anywhere, and we had to turn back. So this day, I packed my trusty old pair of Crocs along if I needed to change out of my boots. Turned out that they weren’t necessary as the brook in summer ran brook was low and we crossed easily, but ya gotta be prepared.

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our crew for the day… me, Ted, Brian & Jeanne

As we reached the top of the mountain, we met up with with a father and his three young sons.  Distinctly American, everyone had blonde hair, bright eyes, and wide smiles. I offered to take their photo under the summit sign and we congratulated the boys for their efforts. They just had a very pleasant energy about them and when our party descended at a faster pace and we passed them, we wished them well.

As we neared the end of the 9 miles for the day, I began to think how good it was going to feel to put those ugly, comfy Crocs on my feet. Bringing up the rear of our quartet, I reflexively patted the webbed pockets of my backpack to check on my shoes.

Ugh. One was missing, who knows where on the trail. There was no thought of going back (these are supremely ugly shoes), but I felt reluctant to give up. While I admit having an emotional attachment to these Crocs (we’ve been through a lot over the years), there was something else going on. I hold the intention “I don’t lose things” pretty powerfully in my life and so I never lose things. I misplace things like my wallet all the time, but my stuff always finds its way back to me.

So as we completed the hike, I thought of the father and his sons coming down behind us. I decided they would have my shoe, so I sat by Heart Lake and waited for them to finish their descent. A teenage girl (whom we’d crossed paths with on the trail, hiking with a different party) came by first. I asked her if she’d seen my shoe, but I already knew the answer having caught her vibe from the trail. She likely would not have noticed it and if she did, I doubt she would have thought to pick it up. I’d been waiting for 15 minutes and that was enough. Time to give up and move on.

While changing into dry clothes at my truck, the dad and his boys appeared about a hundred yards away. I walked toward them and the dad pointed to me. Sure enough, one of the boys held the ratty shoe I’m wearing as I type this, just as I knew he would be. I shook the boy’s hand, thanked him on behalf of my feet, and rewarded him with some delicious ginger snaps my friend Jeanne shared with me.

While I am happy to have my shoe, the thrill of retrieving it had little to do with the shoe. The power of the experience was getting to see my intention unfold according to my direction. I know of no greater high in this life better that recognizing your power as a deliberate creator. (So it follows that this is what I’ve spend the last 15 years studying and teaching.)

Finally, when I got home and checked my e-mail, hey, cool! I’d created $1500 during the day. I didn’t work for the money. I didn’t earn it. I didn’t figure out how to get it… I created the money. It was there because I wanted it to be there… just like my encounter with the writer, just like my shoe.

It’s a fun way to live.

And it all keeps getting better and better.

But it’s not luck. It’s not random. And it’s not magic.

Seeing your intentions manifest is the result of having a clear philosophy + focus + practice.

Like climbing a mountain, deliberately living into the Law of Creation is a great adventure. In fact, I think it’s the greatest adventure life has to offer.

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my wife Karin as part of one of my favorite views.

 

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P.S. As always, if you feel like connecting with me would be a cool thing to do, I invite you to do so here (private) or here (my very cool tribe).


When I let go of thinking about how my life was supposed to look…

Alex's first hike.

Alex’s first hike.

 

So here I am.

I am soon-to-be-45 year old.

I am married to the love of my life and I have two children whom I adore.

Of the hundreds of times someone has asked me what I do for living over the past 20 years, I don’t recall an instance when I’ve had an answer that satisfied either party. I should probably just start saying, “I make it up as I go along” because that would be the most accurate answer.

I have a house in the country that I love. Lots of land. Sweet views.

I am healthy and my body is strong.

My hair that still bothers to show up for work grows whiter.

I’ve always had enough money to do and have what I want.

I got it good. Really good.

 

But as good as it is, I notice that I’ve still hung on to some projection I had about my life when I was 20 years old or something.

 

I was supposed to have millions in the bank by now.

I was supposed to be quite famous in my niche by now.

I was supposed to have a handful of New York Times bestsellers by now.

I was supposed to be jet setting across the country and globe, gracing others with my presence, picking up a hefty paycheck, and partying from town to town.

I was supposed to be… well, kind of a big deal like Ron Burgandy or something…

 

Now, I mention this because even though I don’t really think about these things too much anymore — I am too busy with the life I have created for myself — yet somewhere within me, I still cling to these vestiges of who I thought I was supposed to be. And when I do this, when I measure the life I have compared to the one I thought I wanted a couple decades ago, I notice that I feel bad. I don’t feel like a failure, exactly. It’s more subtle than that…

It’s more like feeling that I’m somehow behind in the race. That somehow I still have to figure out how to get “there,” even though I’m really not interested in chasing my dreams of yesterday. (I’m still down with having the millions in the bank, though.)

And that feeling of being behind — even just a little bit? No, it’s not exhausting. But it is annoying. Like that oil leak that stains your driveway. Or that one mosquito buzzing in the ear, trying to drive you from the lovely patio back inside for the night.

 

I noticed all of this this morning. A Monday. A rainy Monday. After being on vacation.

I woke up with the kids around 6AM and we did our thing. Cereal. Fruit. Entertainment.

By the time 8:30 rolled around, that 20 year old version of me wanted me in my office. Working. Doing shit. Getting back on the success train after such delightful, relaxing week of kayaking, swimming, biking, hiking, and drinking beer with my family (the kids stick to wine only).

I had to get back in front of the computer. Shake some things up. Make some things happen. Get myself back into fighting shape.

Instead, before I knew it, I was covering up my feet with a blanket on the couch, falling back asleep. Now I am not a very good napper, and certainly never before 9AM… But listening to the rain (and Sesame Street), I drifted into unconsciousness. And it was wonderful.

 

I loved hearing the voice in my head squawking at me, poking me to get to work, and deciding to just say, “No, I don’t need to listen to figments of the past anymore,” and rolling over.

I loved making the decision to say, “Phucket, I really want my whole life to be a vacation and here’s the perfect opportunity to live into this NOW.”

I loved allowed myself to sleep when I wanted to sleep.

So I conked out for an hour or so.

And I woke up so appreciative for the life I have created… the one that allows me the freedom to fall asleep on the couch pretty much whenever I want to, any day of the week. The one where I spend more time with my kids than working. The one where I am surrounded by nature. The one where I have a true partner in my wife. The one where things are quiet, both literally and figuratively speaking. The one that has me home instead of traveling. The one that’s so simple and mostly drama-free that it’s pleasantly boring. The one where I have what I want and I want what I have.

When I remember this… when I allow myself to see this… I tear my paper number off and drop out of my old race.

There was a time when I was very interested in races. And in winning, whatever the game.

But that was then.

This is now.

My dreams and desires have evolved.

And I have no interest in races to prove something to myself. I have no interest in the grandiose versions of success that I adopted when I was younger (mostly because that’s the only version I knew to be valid). I’m not interested in taking massive action in hopes of creating something down the road, that ironically, looks a helluva lot like what I have right now.

But I am supremely interested in relaxing myself into everything I want. That’s the game I wanna become masterful at playing.

How good and easy will I allow it to be?

When I look around and take stock of what’s around me, taking stock of the life I have instead of reflexively comparing it against the one I used to want, I see how well I am doing. I don’t notice anything missing, because nothing is missing.

And when you focus on how well you’re doing, right where you are, well, that’s the whole damn jam, right there…


What if you did exactly what YOU wanted, ALL THE TIME?

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Yesterday when I checked my voicemail, there was a message from Margaret, a customer in one of my businesses. She calls rather frequently as she struggles with technology, and when something doesn’t work, her first instinct is to call me to walk her through the issue. Typically, I call her right back, we spend 10 minutes to click a checkbox or something, she apologizes profusely for not seeing something so obvious, and I justify this time-suck as a “small cost of doing business.”

So upon hearing her long-winded message, my stomach sank. Ugh. Not again. Reflexively, I hit the re-dial button to connect with her, rationalizing how I should just call her and get this over with as quickly as possible.

Her phone rang once before I realized what I was really doing. I hung up.

The simple truth is that in that moment, I did not want to call her back. I could list all the reasons to justify my feelings (and you would likely be nodding in agreement with me), but it’s the very habit of justifying our feelings that takes us further from having our desires.

Here’s how these dynamics played out in my example…

Even though I could feel myself bristling very clearly when dialing the phone, not calling her back wasn’t an option. Right? Well, that’s how it seemed to me. Allow me to list my perfectly logical reasons why I simply HAD to call her back…

First, I am a good, helpful person. I help people. That’s what good people do. She needed my help. So I needed to call her and help her.

Second, Margaret’s a customer. Gotta keep the customers happy. Timely service is good customer service. And I am good person, remember?

Third, (and likely most important to me) by using my service, her company puts a few dollars in my pocket every month. In other words, she’s paying me. Cash money. And because there’s money involved, well, everyone knows that every so often (or perhaps, always), you just gotta suck it up, bite that bullet, and do some shit you’d really rather not do. That’s just how money works, right? And to the larger point, isn’t that just how life works?

Well, recently I hit my threshold of approaching my life this way. I’m weary of biting the bullet in hopes of feeling some relief later on. The main reason (which I’ll expand on further in a moment) is that in the longview, this strategy never really works out. Biting the bullet just cracks my teeth.

So I’ve decided to give up. To quit. To surrender. In this context, I’ve decided that to the best of my ability, I’m going to enter the practice of doing only what I want to do — what feels better to ME — in every moment.

The most fascinating thing about diving into this decision is noticing how many butterflies the thought launches within me.

 

Whoa… Can I really do this?

Um, should I really do this?

Sounds kinda risky, for sure…

Oh, phucket! Something about this feels so right… like complete letting go and relief. 

Yes. I’m in.

 

Back to my example, after hanging up the phone and not connecting with my customer, I rose from my office chair and walked outside to my garden (I really love seeing things grow). Back in the house, I stepped into gym and did 30 minutes of Pilates exercises to awaken my body. I mixed up a wonderful fruit smoothie and returned to my desk where my phone blinked with another voicemail from Margaret. Picking up, I listened to her laughing, telling me she’d figured it out, all was well, and to disregard her past message.

Now this may not seem like a big deal. But to me… well, this was kinda huge. This was the evidence I’d asked for.

By setting aside my logical programming regarding what “I had to do” in favor of what felt better to me, my desire was fulfilled. And I really like having my desires fulfilled, especially in ways that feel the easiest to me. While deep in my bones, I know how easy my life can be, up until now I’ve still been entertaining the voice that lectures how a life of freedom isn’t really free, especially on “big” subjects like relationships and money.

I think if you decide to start paying attention to all the times you do things you don’t really want to do —  for whatever reason — you’ll notice that you’re doing things that you don’t really want to do A LOT. And it’s perfectly understandable.

Most of us were taught that you had to shovel a some shit today if you were to hope for a flower or two tomorrow. Most of us have interpreted our experiences to conclude that it’s what we DO that determines what we GET (rather than who were are choosing to BE). While these belief systems still dominate, there’s also an emerging subculture that’s awakened to the truth that suffering is optional, that the purpose of life is to be free and have fun, and that you never have to justify your desires in any way, ever. And, of course, these are the folks I am writing this for…

Now the big cultural taboo pushing against the idea of doing exactly what you want is the looming accusation that would indeed make you THE SELFISH ONE. The one with the audacity to be happy all the time. The one who believes that if they take care of their own happiness by prioritizing it, that they have a full tank of happiness to freely share with others. The one who’s not willing to swim around in the suffering, the self-sacrificing, and the continual grumbling like all the rest.

Look closely and you’ll notice that those who would bother to call you selfish for following what makes YOU happy are only irked because you’re not living the way THEY want you to. So who’s really the selfish one in this scenario? If you want to feel the freedom of living in the full faith of your intuition, you’ll just have to get over any concerns about “them.”

Make no mistake, doing exactly what you want to do is not always easy. Paying attention to how you feel and acting in alignment with your preferences takes effort. It’s work. It’s THE work. The truth is because it’s work, because it takes deep courage, most people aren’t interested in the adventure of creating their lives on purpose. And that’s all well and good.

However, if you are interested in the very real possibility of living in total alignment with your preferences, you’ll want to explore the real reason you don’t trust yourself to do exactly what you want. I’ll give you a hint to start…

 

The real reason you don’t trust yourself to do exactly what you want to do is because you fear you would lose something.

 

Here’s the awareness that gave me the confidence to let go in ways I’d never allowed before… When you live in the fear of losing something, you can never feel the freedom of really having it. 

When you don’t allow yourself to let go and stop pushing in your approach to your desires, those desires remain at arm’s length from you, just out of your grasp. Metaphysically speaking, when you resist the idea of NOT having something, it moves away from you. In other words, if you’re pushing to get something because you don’t want to feel its absence in your life, that desire will continue feel elusive to you. (For instance, if you’re working to get more money so you don’t feel poor, you’ll never feel like you have enough money). So as always, the key to allowing yourself to have what you want now, is to drop your resistance by letting go.

If you resonate with the idea of doing only what you want to do all the time, then take a moment to think about a specific aspect of your life where you’d really like to let go… Consider the soldiers of reason that arise, ostensibly to protect you from doing something foolish, if you were really to allow yourself to do exactly what you wanted in any given moment.

 

Would your source of money evaporate and leave you worrying about money?

Would someone not like you, or maybe leave you?

Would you eat yourself into the shape where they’d have to roll you into your grave?

Would your business go down the tubes while you sat on the beach, eating grapes and reading a good book?

Would you wreck your relationship by jumping on top of anyone who would have you?

 

When you identify your chief concern if you really allowed yourself to do what YOU wanted in any given moment, I’ll wager that you’re already dealing with that concern.

In running this revelation past my wife, she told me the story about a woman she’d just connected with who was afraid of letting go of her emotions. She was angry and afraid that if she let go, she’d tell everyone around her exactly how she felt and be perceived as a bitch. It took courage for her to admit this, and yet it was clear to all around her that by trying to stifle her feelings and desires for so long, she was already acting like a bitch for a long time now. The logical straw man she wanted to protect herself from had already taken up residence in her living room.

Likewise, if you fear that you’d eat every cookie in sight, you’re already torturing yourself with negotiations over every cookie you allow yourself. If you’re worried that you would never work in your business, you’re likely always worrying about how your not working enough in your business now. If your concern was that you’d run wild and ruin your relationship, you’re already concerned about your relationship. The point is that despite your fears and your best defenses to protect you from yourself, the fox is already living in the henhouse.

Biting the bullet only continues to break your teeth.

Returning to my example with Margaret, the bottom line as to why I reflexively called her back was because I didn’t want to lose the money she represented as a customer. While this makes some logical sense, I know that the whole reason I want lots of money is to feel the freedom I believe having that money would bring. Yet even though my desire is to feel free, I picked up my phone with a heavy sense of obligation, somehow believing that if I carried the cross of worrying about and working hard for my money long enough, someday I would reach the freedom-filled promised land where I didn’t have to worry about money. And I’ve awakened to see what total bullshit this is.

You don’t suffer or worry your way to freedom. That math just doesn’t add up. Instead, you decide to be free, and then freedom expands all around you. And deciding to be free means choosing to live in alignment with taking actions that feel free to YOU.

Now I know the idea that you can live very, very well by doing exactly what you want pushes people’s buttons. By now you’re likely either dismissing the idea out of hand (“This is not possible.”), or you’re quite attracted it (“Hmmmn. What if…?”). Either is fine, and I’m not trying to win over any skeptics.

In this piece, I’ve tried to lay out how the dynamics of letting go work and made the case as to how the logical excuses we use to keep ourselves “safe” don’t really hold water. If you can hear what I’ m saying here, and you feel the thrilling spark of resonance in the idea of Letting Go, then the next step is to begin experimenting.

You’ll need to begin to honor how YOU feel. And it’s likely that you’ll want to start saying No to lots of people and things you would have said Yes to in the past. It’s likely that you’ll have to start saying Yes to lots of people and things you would have said No to before. There are two key ingredients to entering into this new way of being…

1) Courage

2) Practice

First, we’re talking about living in a very leading-edge way here. That requires courage. That requires living from your heart. That’s the cost of living a very cool life. It’s edgy, and thrilling, and it will also test your courage for sure.

Second, this is not the kind of change you can make with a finger snap. Living according to your preferences takes awareness, focus, time, and practice.

I can write about this, but that will never do anything but introduce you to an idea. To feel the full sense of freedom, relaxation, and ease, I am talking about, you need to experience that for yourself. So if deep down you know like I do, that you can have exactly what you want by only doing that which you want to do (even if you’re not sure quite how it all works), then I’d love to guide you along the path.

That’s the basis of my work and the conversations in my coaching community. It’s easy to join (and easy to leave if it’s not super valuable to you).

Here’s a couple snippets from one my recent Freedom Sessions.

 

In the first you’ll hear me sharing about the basis of this coaching group while I’m channeling…

 

…and in this one, you’ll hear first-hand what it’s like to be a part of these conversations…

 

If you’d like to be personally coached by me in this way (and be part of a super-supportive community of like-minded people), then please join the experience by going here:

<<Freedom Sessions with Drew info and registration >>

(The next calls for this month are July 15th and July 31st)

 

In any case, I hope you’ll make today the day your start living your life in the exact way that pleases you, in every moment.

– d

 

* As an addendum, as I was finishing up this piece, Margaret appeared on my Caller ID once again. Upon seeing her name, I went inward and checked how I felt about answering it, and there was no resistance. I picked up the phone and yes, she needed another rather obvious question answered. But in answering the phone because I wanted to answer it, there was no resistance, no clenching…