Fewer Posts, but More Experiences

What’s Going On Here, Where Am I At?

When I started this blog, I said that a long absence from posting could mean one of two things:

…it probably means I am failing. Or it could mean I am accomplishing my goal so well that something crazy and unexpected has hampered my posting, like a spontaneous visit to the Yanomamö tribe of Brazil to participate in their ash eating ritual of cremated relatives. But hopefully my experiences will be somewhere in between and I’ll post regularly.

The truth is I have been doing tons of fun stuff, and truly enjoying my life, which made this blog take a back seat. Why stop in the middle of an excellent adventure to tell the internet, who is probably not even listening, about it? I’ve found myself thinking less about trying to make money or promote blogs, and more about enjoying the moment.

In that sense, this blog fulfilled its purpose. It started as a catalyst to get me to have more fun, move out of my shell, promote happiness and positivity, and live a life that is not mundane! As my posts have taken a steep nose dive in number, I have also noticed that the energy I felt when I first started this blog did not go away, it was just transferred into my daily life.

Pretty much, I faked it until I maked it. Well I was never really faking it. But sometimes it is hard to be positive, accomplish things, and keep things interesting. When I couldn’t do it in the outside world, I would turn to this blog for help. And help it did! This blog served as a foundation, which I am now building a structure on top of that I call my life. Surely there will still be updates and the spreading of that positivity that I have been able to capture. But I also want to make sure this project doesn’t become a stressor.

Partially motivated by this blog, I will be moving south this winter. I think not having a bitter-cold environment where I am essentially cooped up indoors for six months will greatly contribute to my happiness. Also, this is my first real opportunity to see how much I can produce on my own, working the land, and being as self sufficient as possible. I’m sure the move and the new project of homesteading will give me plenty of fodder for Explaining It All moving forward.

Year in Review

I started this blog almost 14 months ago. It has been with me as I published my first book, which was a huge accomplishment for me, helped along, undoubtedly, by this blog. I posted about pursuing those sorts of dreams, turning off the flow of negativity from certain people around us, and taking steps, large or small towards your goals. I wasn’t writing from a high horse, for the readers’ benefit, so much as I was writing while in the pursuit, planning my future, and encouraging myself to keep going.

I am still very much in the pursuit of many things. Publishing a book is cool, by it is not synonymous with selling a book. That remains on the forefront of my goals.

Buy “Anarchy in New England” now! LOL

But life is always a balance between properly planning to make the future great, and ensuring the present is great as well. In addition to career/ self sufficiency progress, I did a lot of having fun/ enjoying life, including a trip to Florida, a cruise, PorcFest (where I met some AMAZING new friends), camping, the Cape, and finally, Iceland!

So enjoy these pictures of Iceland! I will be making a better effort to post more regularly!

iceland blue lagoon

Blue Lagoon, the required stop for tourists. How did I get the whole pool to myself? Went straight from the airport at 8am when they open!

iceland falls

A waterfall of which I don’t know how to say the name. It was big though. See the tiny dots in the background over my left shoulder? People.

iceland hillside

Stopped on the side of the road when I saw this awesome hill and rock. Jumped the barbed wire fence, and gave it a good climb.

iceland lagoon

A glacial lagoon! Saw some seals swimming around.

iceland reykjavic

I was trying to pose like Leif Eriksson, but I didn’t have my longsword and giant ax with me.

iceland silhoette

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Do It For The Perspective: Money Isn’t the Only Valuable

I’m back! As in, vacation me which is my natural state of happy existence. Even my cousin could tell the change in tone from when I started this blog in July, and as of late. But there is something about getting out there, seeing new things, and talking to new people that breaks down this mundane and lethargic shell. The shell that says it is not that important to enjoy every minute of life, the shell that convinces us money is more important than living life to the fullest.

[By the way I’m going to mix in pictures of Barrow throughout this post for no apparent reason other than it makes me happy.]

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Being a relatively responsible person, I was a bit stressed about money before this trip. And it helped that I spent about $70 fewer dollars on gas on the way down. But really at the end of the day, I know I am not going to go into crippling debt. So why would I let a few hundred dollars make or break a vacation?

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So of course my advice to you all is go do it. Whatever it may be for you. Catch up with college friends, family members; this week will hopefully be full of that (as long as you don’t get snowed in). The more often I change my scenery, the easier it is for me to understand that it is far more important to live than exist. But it is a good thing I planned this trip far off, because when I am out of real-me-mode, it does seem a lot easier and cheaper to just stay home. If I had waited until last week to make a decision on this trip, I probably wouldn’t have taken it. Kind of like my New York City trip, where I was on the edge until the night before: “It is going to be such a hassle!”

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Yea, you know what, it is a hassle. And everything in the world is a cost benefit balance. The benefits of enjoying myself and growing as a person far outweigh the monetary, time, and energy costs of taking these trips. I don’t see the family that is down here super often, so having the chance to connect over the last few days (and the next) has been amazing. What if I had forgone this trip, and not spent time with my relatives, reconnecting, and getting to know each other more? Well maybe it wouldn’t have been so noticeable on the outside, but really it would be another crack in the pillar of happiness. Instead, I threw down some mortar, and popped another block on top of that pillar.

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Perspective is valuable.

In a material society it is hard to place value on things that you can’t hold in your hand, or buy for $300. But maybe we should stop thinking of our lives as separated: the family self, the friend self, the work self. Maybe it is time to think of skills and knowledge as something that will make us whole. Life experiences should grow you as a person, not separate you into different people. It could help to think less of, “How will this increase my earning potential?” or “Is this the most I could gain during my only 6 hours off this week?”

I used to only read non-fiction political books. I wanted to go into politics (what was wrong with me?!) so I didn’t want to waste my time reading non-fiction. This is especially ironic since I am now writing fiction books; turns out all that fiction wasn’t a waste of time! But even if I didn’t want to write, it would not have been a waste of my time. That is because A, it was enjoyable, and enjoying your time is not a waste, and B, perspective!

How can you think you know what is up with the world if you have only viewed it from one angle? How can you think you know yourself if you have only viewed you from one angle. I’m finding I like vacation me best. I’m more positive and I have more fun. It is a struggle to keep that attitude while not on vacation, but at least I have a marker, a goal. When do you like yourself the most? That is the real you. You do you.

Perspective makes you less judgmental.

Yesterday I stopped by an outdoor bar on the Gulf of Mexico. I ordered a Yuengling which just so happened to help strike up a conversation with the grey goateed man with a Harley hat named Eric sitting next to me. He was from Philadelphia, where one of the breweries is based, and my bartender was asking me if I noticed a difference between southern and northern Yuengling because of the different brewing locations (I didn’t).

So anyway we get to talking and he is telling me about all the redneck guys in the area. Sure, there was some poking fun at them, but the crux of the story was that they were some of the nicest guys he has met. One big burly man walked up to Eric while Eric was with his friends. “Is that Eric?” The friends tensed up, was trouble brewing? “JOE!!” Yells Eric and jumps to his feet to give Joe a big bear hug, because that is how they greet each other whenever they cross paths.

At a local bar Eric once walked in, and some ZZ Top looking fellas said (or maybe it was their beer that said it), “Who’s this f**ing guy?” Eric just laughed, “How you doing boys”, and bought them each a round of beer ($2.50 for a PBR, not bad). The rest of the night, they were like old friends. Now THAT is how to diffuse a situation. Eric had perspective, and was not going to be brought down. Turns out he was a Sociology major, just like me.

Perspective makes you less stressed out.

It could be so much worse. I could have been left alone from 15 up raising a younger sibling while Dad just dropped off groceries once a week. Maybe that is why he can’t read so well. I could be called weekly by a parent’s neighbors to come round them up. Maybe that is where his stress comes from. Those are real people I met: awesome people who are productive, nice, and don’t complain.

I’m not immune, I still complain. But the more perspective you get, the more pathetic you feel for complaining that you had to wait 30 minutes to get picked up from CCD (you like the plug Mom and Dad?). Oh right, and I have a Mom and Dad who care enough to encourage me with what I want to do (even though it doesn’t make me money yet), and read my work. Thanks 🙂

I could break down on the drive home halfway back. But you know what? I wouldn’t be alone. Yea, physically I would. But it would not rest solely on my shoulders to get me out of there, and that is priceless. How can I be stressed out when I think of the worst that could happen, and it really isn’t that bad.

I’m happy, I’m grateful, I’m energetic, and I want you all to be too! I love positive people. Be positive. It is not always a competition, you can encourage others without feeling less about yourself. Do what you love, when possible don’t stress. Set goals, big and small. But most important, don’t just exist, live.

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Some Adventures Don’t Feel Adventurous

So it has been almost three weeks of this new blog, and I have got to say I am glad I started it.

But I was almost disappointed that I didn’t get into any crazy adventures so far. With my carpe diem attitude I figured I’d have made my way around the world by now having wrestled bears, sailed through a hurricane, and become honorary chief of an obscure tribe. Okay maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit, but I have been all gung-ho to go out and do things.

I made sure to get to the beach (twice), I played 18 holes of golf (haven’t golfed in 10 years, and even then only a few times), went to cookouts, went to a party, sang along to country music, and tomorrow I’m going jetski-ing for the first time. I’ve had fun cooking and foraging, especially since I have a place to share it now. I really enjoy doing all of that, but maybe I had this naive belief that—well I don’t even know what. That my life would turn into a movie?

But now I am realizing that there have been some great improvements over the last 3 weeks. I’ve barely watched any TV, I haven’t been able to stand sitting still! If a friend comes over, I will search for other things to do instead of just sit, and the interaction increases energy, sparks conversation, and just makes for a better time. So instead of killing my brain with the tube and being a boring friend, we’d go places, play kan jam, foosball, cards, Settlers of Katan, and just had more overall conversation and interaction. Not a crazy adventure, but a positive change none the less. Well to be fair throwback N64 Mario-Kart is always a pretty crazy adventure.

And I suppose two weekends only gives you so much opportunity. It’s good to be adventurous, but not stupid… And if I were hellbent on “having fun” without much exciting new opportunity, that could lead more to stupidity than adventure. So I am going to keep doing what I’m doing, since I’m enjoying myself anyway, and whatever comes will come!

I think cumulative small changes are harder to notice, but can easily add up to more positive benefit than one big change or event—even though it was sort of one big event I attended that set in motion tiny little changes. And like I have mentioned before, to me its been more about rediscovering mundane things than finding a trap door into Narnia. And actually this is a good reminder, because as much as I hate to admit it, my “vacation attitude” has mostly left me, but I didn’t completely return to the real world that sucks the life out of you.

And this blog in and of itself is a fun new adventure to see who likes it, who follows, who responds, who comments, and it has kept me thinking about the right things. I enjoy writing, so it gives me another outlet, sparks my imagination, and gives me a standard to go back to. Otherwise my vacation attitude would have gone away, faded without much notice, and everything would have gone back to normal. But since I created this blog in the height of my high-on-life, that has been preserved, and to go back on it would mean not only losing my positive attitude, but abandoning a project I started with such inspiration and vigor. And I’m not going to let that happen.

I feel more resilient to negative things, even though I may not be excited about everything. Its been easier to enjoy moments here and there, without letting other looming stressors take away from squeezing in bits of fun. And I’ve actually been able to avoid stress by not caring about things I shouldn’t care about.

Its not as simple as “not caring what others think”, because I still don’t want to act like a jerk, or burn bridges, or show no work ethic. Its not caring about being judged for stupid things that don’t negatively effect other people. Some people will always try to exert their will over you, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be bad if their will is, say, not drunk driving. But when it is the way your hair is, or how happy you are, or how energetic, or what you write on your blog; who cares, just do you and forget the detractors.

So overall I’m going to go ahead and give myself a B for holding up to my blog’s standards over the first 2-3 weeks. Thank you to everyone who joined in the discussion with me early on, I look forward to keeping this energy going!

Song Therapy to Get Out of a Rut

I developed a strategy yesterday for mentally returning to a good place. I didn’t know I was doing it, but in the morning before work (I didn’t work until 3pm) I was very high on life, having a recent reference point from an amazing festival all last week, and found myself enjoying the moment, when 2 weeks ago work would have loomed over me negatively. And I have a pretty upbeat job selling running shoes; retail though it is, I would categorize it as generally enjoyable.

So anyway I went for a run in the high noon heat and danced to the music, sang along a few lines because thats what I wanted to do, when I would normally be like, “but what if someone sees me and thinks I’m weird?” (Though I’ve probably been holding myself back for no reason; I’m sure some people already think I’m a bit odd).

When I felt a pulse of energy or excitement, I raised my arms to the sky, breathed in deep and took it all in. I passed an older gentleman running and would have kept my head straight forward two weeks ago, but yesterday I turned, smiled, and waved. He took out his earbuds and joked, “I was young once too”, and I laughed and told him if he keeps it up he’ll stay young. I ungracefully hurdled over a lawn sign.

Afterwards I’m happy, feeling accomplished (from the run), excited about my new blog! I just so happen to love this song “Rewind” by the Rascal Flatts right now, and I inadvertently bumped it at my highest moment (keep in mind I am not talking about drugs when I say high). Here’s the song:

And I was still quite happy well into work, and it was not so much negativity as it was tiredness that hit me around 5 or 6pm. I was like, damn being happy takes a lot of energy… or running 5 miles during the hottest part of the day. One of the two.

At points throughout the day pangs of fear would rise in me, as if its scary to be excited about life. The higher you fly, the further you can fall, so what—just stay neutral? I don’t think that is the answer, I think perpetual happiness is a better goal. So I tried to ignore the negatively.

What if my blog fails: who cares, what have I lost? And worrying about it doesn’t help anyway. What if at my happiest moment, it all comes crashing down? Well, at least I was happy before. What if I am judged for what I post? I am sure I am! And the best feeling is not caring at all and doing it for me.

But sometimes just rationalizing things is not enough, because then I engage in a conversation with myself, and in doing so, allow a platform for the negativity. Okay long setup, but back to the strategy I stumbled upon. Every time I started to whistle the tune to “Rewind” I would return mentally to my happy state of mind, from the best part of my day. Singing the lyrics had an even better effect (though not wanting to scare away repressed Massachusetts customers, I limited that to the back room amidst the shoe box audience).

I don’t know, maybe there’s a psychological basis for my observation, if I have any Psychologists reading (or maybe a freshman year pschology major who knows it all, and just needs to complete the other 6 years of study as a formality). But anyway, try it out and let me know if it works for you.

It does, however, take energy to be happy, and at points yesterday I had to let myself relax, perhaps slipping into neutral. I’m expecting as I train myself it will become default to be excited about life instead of having to coax myself back into position.

I’ve never really been an unhappy person, I’ve just found that I tend to fall into a routine, and not enjoy life as much as I could. It is cool to look for opportunities to have fun in a normally mundane situation. And really there is infinite amounts of things to be excited about.

So maybe no day should be normal. If we expect our days to be the same old drudgery, they will be. But two seemingly uniform days where I write, run, then work do not have to be identical; in fact it is impossible for them to be identical. Yet it is easy to feel like you are Bill Murray stuck in Punxsutawney indefinitely. But if you look for opportunities to be excited about “the same old stuff”, I am pretty sure you’ll find them.

Joe Jarvis’ Excellent Adventure

I try not to be too serious a person, yet the first blog and website I created is all about politics… which doesn’t tend to be the most lighthearted subject. It gets heavy man, and I need to expand my focus to express the fun, adventuring, laughing, ridiculous, kind of silly philosophical side of me. I am going to write about strange and interesting things that I think, see, and experience. I am going to muse about life, and rant about what annoys me.

Maybe I’ll show you where I go, or tell you what I foraged. I’ll share some theories on the afterlife and religion that are almost certainly false. I am going to demonstrate some delish food I make (like the banana I took today and cut up, mixed with melted dark chocolate, topped with granola, and would have topped with whipped cream if I had any in the house). Hey I might even tell you how to live your life, and you can tell me in the comments section how much of a pretentious asshole I am. That’s what the internet’s all about!

Hopefully I don’t get sued for the references to old movies and TV shows in my titles. Can the phrase “excellent adventure” even be considered intellectual property? Probably not. But that’s what I am doing, going on an excellent adventure, and taking you along for the ride.

Today I decided to attempt to enjoy every second of life because like, that’s the point of life, right? Not just hedonism, there are plenty of ways to enjoy life without the baser and carnal distractions… but those are pretty fun too, eh? eh? Okay I’ll stop.

But seriously, it doesn’t make sense that we only feel good while we are on vacations, or just for the weekend, or just an hour a day. I’ve got to assume we only do this life thing once, and should do everything we can to get it right. Or maybe we go around a million times and the previous life decides where we start the next one, in which case you still want to make the most of life. I’m being broad and cliche right now but its an introduction, cut me some slack. We’ll have plenty of time to go into detail, at which point I’ll drop the cliches, and whisper sweet nothings in your ear.

And this blog is my tool for making sure I don’t forget the goal I set today, which is to feel this good everyday, find the fun in everything, don’t be afraid to go out on a limb, talk to people, seek out experiences, and take chances. If I go a week without posting, it probably means I am failing. Or it could mean I am accomplishing my goal so well that something crazy and unexpected has hampered my posting, like a spontaneous visit to the Yanomamö tribe of Brazil to participate in their ash eating ritual of cremated relatives. But hopefully my experiences will be somewhere in between and I’ll post regularly.

Excellent!