MAKING FRIENDS & EXPERIENCING LIFE THROUGH NOODLES

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I am back living in San Diego for the summer and, despite having a regular group of friends here, want to break out and meet more cool people. My best buddy Roger has had positive experiences with Meetup Groups (www.meetup.com) so I decided to find one that shared my interest. I quickly found an SD group that met the next night at a Ramen joint. I was very nervous because I was meeting an entirely new group of potential friends at a new restaurant I’ve never visited. All that on top of the worry about having enough oxygen or running out 20 minutes from home.

Being on oxygen means preparing for the worst but hoping for the best. What seems to be a laid back, easy outing is for me actually a meticulously timed, oxygen coordinated series of algebra equations. Each event is X hours. If each oxygen tank = 2 hours, how many tanks are needed for Event X? Ugh….if only I had done better in math.

I was amazed at the size of the crowd when I arrived. Roughly 25 people; we had to wait 20 minutes for tables to open up to accommodate our size. It was actually a blessing because it allowed me to socialize out front and introduce myself to everyone. Being the new guy and on oxygen I was concerned with how people might perceive me but right off the bat everyone was cool. I’ve noticed that is what I like about San Diego people in general: No hangups.

Once seated we ordered appetizers and let the real convo’s begin. Real informal-like. Lots of laughing. I could tell some had attended SD Group events before and knew each other but that didn’t keep them from being inclusive and welcoming to the New Guy.

After much debate (as everything on the menu looked amazing!) I ordered the Vegetarian Ramen but cheated by adding the Seafood Mix of squid, mussels and shrimp. Our ramen orders arrived and I, being a ramen connoisseur, expected something good but uncomparable to my delicious homemade ramen.

I was pleasantly surprised when my giant bowl arrived, piled high with veggies, seafood, noodles and steaming of mouth watering goodness! Everyone seemed to have fun and thoroughly devoured their food!

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Afterward some folks decided to walk next door for frozen yogurt. Like the exploding fat guy in Monte Python I could not refuse another treat. Oh My Goodness…..fantastic decision! Sweet vanilla with gram cracker crumbs and chocolate jimmies mixed into it. I’d post a picture but I was scarfing it down so fast that I didn’t think to take a picture till it was half gone. And  it wouldn’t be too appealing to regurgitate the desert and take a photo so maybe just take my word that it was good stuff.

As I said before, everyone was friendly and welcoming and a guy, Daniel (who happens to share the same name as my brother….so he MUST be awesome) even offered to give me ride home. Talk about going out of your way to help a person you just met.

Stepping out of your comfort zone can sometimes yield big rewards such as new experiences and lasting friendships. The risk is the fear of putting yourself out there and not receiving the positive feed back you seek. In my case, the added fear of running out of oxygen causes tension as I balance my focus between picking up social cues and calculating oxygen usage.

The truth is, if you desire to experience life and take the necessary steps to accommodate your challenges, boundless opportunities will be opened up for you.

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~~ Breathe This Life ~~

 

 

The Keys To Being A Master Of Me

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A while ago, I experienced a profound bit of wisdom. It dealt with how I can unknowingly have an impact on other people.

I was watching an episode of Oprah’s Master Class with Alicia Keys in which Keys tells an inspiration story. As Keys tells it, a woman came up to her before a concert and requested the singer perform “Unbreakable.” Alicia Keys, not wanting to spoil the improvisational feel of the concert, playfully responded, “I don’t know….I guess we’ll find out.” After a whimsical back and forth the woman persisted, finally coming clean with her motive. The woman had recently fought a battle with cancer and to cope, played “Unbreakable” everyday during Chemo, WILLING her way through the pain. Thanks to modern medicine and the power of music, the woman was cancer free.

In that moment, Alicia Keys had an epiphany about the strength of words and her responsibility to use them for good. In my opinion, harnessing the power of your voice begins with believing in your ideas. However, it is not just a matter of believing that you are a good person but making conscious decisions to bring joy to other people.

HOW???

The first “Key” is to implement positive language. Speak words that uplift and empower! “Yes,” “I can,” “I will,” “When.” Words have power and power effects change. As the Bible says, “We will eat the fruit of our words.” Alternatively, stop using words that create a negative mindset: “If,” “Probably,” “Maybe,” “No.” “I can’t.” Joel Olsteen succinctly puts it, “With our words we can either bless our futures or curse our futures.” That is why It is important to never doubt the power of your voice; there is no telling how it will affect the life of someone else.

The second “Key” is to Aspire Higher! While I am a fervent supporter of our armed forces, the Army has it wrong. You mustn’t “Be All You Can Be” because a belief that your abilities have a ceiling breeds apathy. I am insanely guilty of this! “I’m as strong as I’ll be so no need to push it on the weights.” “I’ve done all I can with this blog/band/project, I guess I’m just destined for this level.”

Instead, “Always Strive To Be Better!” You are never your best. As Matthew McConaughey illustrated in his Oscar speech, if you strive to be your own hero, your mindset will become sharper and more determined as you continuously chase your goal. (posted below is the Academy Award acceptance speech for reference and inspiration. Pardon the poor quality.)

The gift of knowing yourself is the double-edged sword. It is obviously important to understand your gifts and potential but you must also put in the work to THINK outside your perspective and REACH outside your comfort zone.

What holds us back isn’t the inability to accomplish a goal, it is the belief that we are unable to succeed. It is like driving down an empty, open road but coming to a “Limited Access” sign. Only when we tear down the meaningless signs are we free to explore new directions and opportunities.

~ Breathe This Life ~