The 5 Things Mother’s Day Reminded Me About Starting

I love trying something new. But I love watching someone stretching their comfort zone even more. I love seeing someone go from a turtle shelled up to a laughing and glowing version of who they can be. Yesterday, as you may know, was Mother’s Day. My mom booked a hotel in Asbury Park, NJ. My sister and I met her for a day of fun and sun. Except it was raining. Quite hard.

Now my Mom is not always the best with spontaneity. She is much more comfortable doing the everyday and the mundane. Which is why yesterday surprised me. It was like she was in the movie, Yes Man. In this movie, Jim Carrey’s character agrees to say yes to everything. Obviously shenanigans and problems occur and he learns a lesson. And as I watched my mother experience things she never had before I was reminded of 5 things that I have been taking for granted about myself.

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1. Saying Yes Is Not Easy

The first thing she did when we suggested that we go to Stumpy’s Hatchet House to throw little axes at the wall was say no. She puckered her lips and shook her head and refused to make eye contact. The more we mentioned it the more she resisted. Until she didn’t. Eventually, my mother said yes.

She was quiet on the ride to Stumpy’s and just stared at her phone. We pulled up and she was looking for excuses not to go in (conveniently I spilled tea in my sisters new car, so she focused on cleaning that up for a bit). As we walked in I saw her look of regret. I realized that she was terrified. That is when my pride swelled. Because I recognized that look. It is the same look I have every time I try something new. The fear of the yes. When you are asking, why the hell did I do this?

2. Saying Yes Isn’t Enough.

So there she is, staring at the hatchets in the box. She had that dear in headlights looks. We calmly urged her to throw and she did. She followed through with it. She said yes to going and then got throwing. It was definitely not easy for her. She doesn’t like things that can physically harm other people. So when my sister threw one at full strength, my mother’s eyes bulged wider than the Atlantic Ocean she wanted to sit by all day.

Once you say yes you need to do what you said yes to. As my mom stood there just staring I knew she was looking for an excuse to get out of it. To sit at the table and watch us throw instead. We didn’t let her and she started to thrive. She actually was better than both of us. As she began to throw more and more, she settled into it and the smile came out, then the excitement, then the pride that she did it. We bought her a tee shirt to commemorate the pride.

3. Once You Start, It’s Easier To Continue.

After we left the Hatchet House, we still had a lot of time in the day. So off we went to Yestercades. An arcade in Red Bank. Now I am a gamer, I can get my sister to play with me, but my mother is never the one to want to play. She would much rather be on her phone while the rest of us play. But she agreed. And I realized it is because once you stretch your comfort zone, it gets a little easier to do it again.

Just like when you stretch a muscle, the first time through the resistance is going to be strong. It is. There is no way around it. But the second and the third iteration through the same stretches are easier and you get deeper. At the end you have more range of motion than ever before. She enjoyed some pinball and some Galaxian and even a bit of Wii U. And I can not remember the last time I have heard such a pure laughter from her.

4. It’s Better With Friends.

Peer pressure can sometimes be a good thing. I love trying new things. I do them alone most of the time, because I told myself I won’t say no to something just because I can’t get someone to come with me. But honestly, it’s better with friends. I guarantee my mother would not have chosen to do either of the things we did yesterday, but she agreed to join us.

Friends push you to do things you never have before. And because you know and trust them it makes it easier to say yes. This quality form of peer pressure tends to help you strive for better results, either competitively or just to make them proud. And honestly, it is just more fun. Having that small amount of normalcy makes the unknown seem a fraction less daunting than it was before. And you need every advantage you can get when trying something new.

5. Take It Slow.

I have been bothering my mother about trying new things for a while. I realized that I was taking for granted the amount of practice that I have at it. That I have spent years diving into new circumstances. By doing so I have forgotten to trust the process. I have forgotten that when I first started trying new things I was very much a turtle in the shell, always retreating back. Just over time the shell has cracked some and shrunk in size.

So when the sun was not out and we met at the beach we were at a bit of a loss. We sat at the lunch table and started talking about what to do. We saw the perfect situation for everyday adventure. And adventure we did. But we took it one step at a time. And now we have a few great stories to tell, which is part of the goal.

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So Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. Thank you for continuing to teach me lessons. I am proud of the way you approached yesterday. It was nice to see you smile like that. I hope you enjoy the goofy picture of all of us I posted. None of us look good.

So, what did you do with your mothers yesterday? Did you try something new or something tried and true? Let me know! I’d love to hear from you!

More soon.

John Latona Jr., The Boy with the Bear.

 

How the Six Steps in The Miracle Morning Fuel My Everday Adventures

I recommend Hal Elrod’s The Miracle Morning (TMM), flat out. I took a chance on this book, because mornings were always something that I dreaded. My sleep habits were never something that I was particularly proud of. So I pushed aside my feelings about the fluffy title and went on the adventure. The six habits outlined in TMM have changed the way I approach waking up and have become an important part of making my day to day life better.

I have always been surrounded by over sleeping. My mother worked nights. Most of what I saw of her was the steady up and down of her breath in the sheets. My father is a larger man who often spends his time after work on the couch with his head raised to the sky filling the room with an orchestra of snores. For me, it was just natural to view oversleeping as the norm.

When I turned 28 I started to realize that this was not sustainable. My productivity drops significantly after 10pm and my energy level the next day suffers because of it. Then I read TMM.

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Yo Pal Hal, as he is called, researched the most influential people of our time and determined the six most commonly discussed habits they practice. Then he did them all. I have found that each of the six “Life S.A.V.E.R.S.” fuels my everyday adventures in different ways.

The Life S.A.V.E.R.S.

Silence:

The first S stands for silence. I wake up and perform 15 minutes of purposeful silence daily. For me, it comes in the form of meditation. By using various apps (My Affirmations, Headspace, and Black Lotus) I have started to hone the art of meditating. What I love the most about this practice is the removal of weight from my spirit after I have finished. I find that the fears and resistances I feel are least apparent after I have finished a mediation. I feel an openness in my heart that gives me a new perspective on many of the imbalances in my life and more courage to tackle them.

Affirmations:

I wish affirmations were last on this list because it has been the most important for me. If you do not know, affirmations are the idea of reframing your story and telling yourself the new narrative. The theory behind it is that if you tell yourself something is true, the energy you create helps to bring it to truth. I can’t recommend them enough. I have used this habit to effectively alter my eating and workout habits, increase my confidence, improve my positive attitude and all around change my outlook on life. By focusing on creating a positive image of myself, I have rewritten the former narrative where I was an undisciplined person who thought he was fat and lazy. I now, honestly, have the most confidence and joy I ever have. This confidence in myself fuels the courage I need on the daily as an everyday adventurer. Without courage, trying new things is far too daunting.

Visualization:

The idea behind visualization is that you visualize all the sensory imagery involved in completing a certain goals. In these visions you see yourself completing them and enjoying the process that got you there. You start to see all the ways it is possible and the goal is more likely to come to fruition. For me this is the most difficult of the S.A.V.E.R.S.. But I still use it relatively effectively. Part of my struggle is that I do not have the most clear goals. So instead, I use my visualization time to go over my life plan. If you haven’t made a life plan, I suggest you read this post by Michael Hyatt, who is a fantastic leadership coach. By visualizing the steps that I have outlined in my Life Plan my visualization period reminds me of my priorities. And as I said last time, prioritizing is one of the most important steps in making sure you do what you say you want. By visualizing my Life Plan daily I have built in time to remind me what is important in my life right now and where I want to be. This has been invaluable in keeping me on track.

Exercise:

This one is self explanatory in a lot of ways. For me the benefits have included weight loss, more energy, increased confidence, more positivity. In addition to that a lot of my hobbies and preferred travel destinations involve a lot of physical activity. By exercising daily I have noticed a huge increase in physical strength (who would have thought). This strength will directly translate to hiking, kayaking and any other of my less day to day adventures that I have planned. Does exercising suck, sometimes. But when you find an exercise you enjoy, the work becomes more bearable and the benefits outweigh any of the detriments. I promise.

Reading:

I was practicing this one before I read TMM. I love reading, specifically nonfiction because it opens my mind to new ideas. I have tried new things (like TMM) almost exclusively because I read about them. Reading keeps my “Adventures To Try List” ever expanding. By reading daily, not only do I have more ideas of things to do, I gain new insights into ways I can view life. It expands my perspective in ways that only travel or trauma can best. By reading daily (nearly constantly) I have received comments from friends saying I am noticeably more: open, wise, thoughtful, understanding, empathetic, honest, and loving. I credit expanding my reading material for that.

Scribing:

Scribing a.k.a journaling is the concept of introspectively writing in some format for self reflection. Admittedly, I bend the rules on this one a bit. I accept this, because I use my scribing time to write for the blog and for other non-blog related writings. I scribe to foster the writing habit I have created. Writing has been a instrumental habit for reflection and affirming that I can have discipline on the day to day. This discipline bleeds over into my working out, eating habits, and scheduling process. By remaining disciplined in one aspect of my life it has allowed me to be consistent in others. This consistency is how I frequently find myself scheduling new adventures into my life.


So that’s it. These are the six ways The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod influence the way I create everyday adventures. Do you practice any of these habits? What result have you seen? Or do you disagree? 

More soon.

John Latona Jr., The Boy with the Bear.

3 Suggestions to Finding Day to Day Adventure

People do not like to be bored. Yet far too often we spend our free time doing the same things we always do. Recently I spent an entire day by myself. My phone was off, I packed lunch and some snacks and drove out to a reservoir at a nearby park. There I sat by a fountain, constantly getting hit by the spray I just sat there writing. It was great. I felt refreshed and clean by the end of the day.

Finding time like this is difficult. I am a freelancer. Admittedly, I have more flexibility than the average person. However, I am never at a lack for important things to fill my calendar. Work demands, family responsibilities, bills and  errands pepper my calendar always. Despite that, I’m here to suggest three actions you can take today that are highly effective at increasing the time I have available for the things that provide relief from boredom and allow me to fill my life with day-to-day adventures. They are:


1. Ride the Wave of Motivation:

A few weeks back I was discussing with my friend that I wanted to take a topography and map reading course. I am notoriously bad at navigating and I am tired of getting lost on trails. I got home that day and sat on my computer and remembered that conversation. So I found myself on REI.com checking their schedule of courses.I signed up on the spot.

Had I not done that the odds of me signing up would have dropped significantly. If you want to try new things you need to ride the wave of motivation as they come. Because the new does not like to come to fruition. Your lizard brain wants to keep you on the couch or at your computer doing nothing out of the ordinary. It wants your to be comfortable.

Use the motivation when it come and act on it and make sure you:

2. Schedule it:

Put it on your calendar. It is proven that you are more likely to do something that is on your calendar. By keeping things open-ended you give the universe thousands of opportunities to get in the way. By scheduling it you have created a commitment to yourself, to a teachers or class, to your wallet (if the event costs), or perhaps to friends or colleagues. You have incentive to follow through.

Scheduling it creates accountability and allows you to say, “Sorry I have a commitment,” if something tries to take that time slot. Of all of the habits I am proud to have fostered, this one is the most effective for my productivity. By scheduling almost everything I have been able to hold myself accountable in a way that I never have before and those grand workout plans and classes that I have always wanted to take actually find their way into my life.

This is all because I have been able to:

3. Prioritize them:

You get home from work. You make dinner and you eat. Then you sit down at the computer or television and watch hours of YouTube videos and baking shows. I recently asked my father why he does not draw anymore. His answer? I don’t have time. Shenanigans. I told him to find time. He scoffed at me asking, “Where am I supposed to find time?”

What I was too afraid to say was, “How about during the 4 hours of TV you watch every night after work?”

Everyone has the same amount of time in a day. What do you want to spend your time doing? You can spend four hours watching TV. That is fine, but do not complain that you do not have time to write or draw or run or garden. You do, you just chose to do something else instead. What your prioritize is your own choice. I respect whatever priorities you have selected.


I challenge you to take some of that time you spend on TV or searching the internet and read or write or go for a walk. You may discover that you like the way you feel more when you get your mind and body moving. Or sign up for that course you’ve always been interested in and put it in your calendar. It may provide the inspiration you need to get your life moving toward the adventure you crave.

So do you practice any of these three actions already? Or better yet, do you have one I didn’t mention? Let’s compare.

More soon.

John Latona Jr., The Boy with the Bear

Everyday Adventurer, A Mindset

Years back I was constantly struggling to find adventure. I had recently gotten back from a seven week stint in Vermont. During that time I was camping in the back country mostly in Mount Elmore State Park. I would spend a forty hour work week maintaining the various hiking trails in the park.

There, my coworkers and I spent our free time chasing raccoons, making fires, cooking and eating meals together, connecting with one another. At the end of the seven weeks we said goodbye and a fellow camper and I set off on a road trip eager to avoid the boring life waiting for us at home. Niagara Falls, Toronto, Montreal, Massachusetts, Hunter Mountain and then finally back home. When I got home, I could not find myself stimulated in any way.

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Shortly after, I started dating this woman. What is important about her is not that we dated or that we have since broken up. What is important is a gift she gave me once. For Christmas I received something called, “John’s Adventure Book.” The whole idea behind the gift was to remind me that, life is made up of many adventures. Not just the ones that take you to the mountains, the woods, or across the sea. She saw my struggle and gave me permission to see everyday as an adventure.

Everyday can’t be wonderful. Not everyday can strike awe into your heart and change the way you perceive the world. If that was the case, the extraordinary would quickly become ordinary, and more quickly–boring. If there is something that adventure is not, it’s not boring. Boring is the opposite of happiness. Because if you are bored you are not engaged. If you are bored. You are not adventuring enough.

Everyday adventure is simple. Adventure is doing something new. Adventure is trying a new restaurant with friends. Adventure is asking that person out. Adventuring is taking a walk around a new part of the neighborhood. There are an infinite number of adventures waiting within ten minutes of you. My everyday adventure has recently included getting involved in obstacle course races, and performing at an open mic.

What have you done recently that was different and spooky? Maybe you took a dance class. Perhaps you tried a new recipe. Or you read a book by a new author. This is all part of your everyday adventure. Over time these little choices add up to create memories that last, sometimes surprisingly long.

I remember one specific summer night. My friends and I got together to cook s’mores. We do this all the time. Why is this memory special? Because we did something adventurous. Instead of buying Hershey’s Chocolate bar, we bought Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Cadbury Fruit and Nuts, Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate. We had the idea to make gourmet s’mores. We never did it again, but we had a great adventure while we did. Seems silly? I disagree.

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I disagree because we only have so many pages in the Adventure Book called long term memory. My book consists of hiking to a secluded waterfall in Ghana, putting my feet in the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, climbing hills in search of fossils by my grandfather and, of course, making gourmet s’mores. Undoubtedly the first few are adventurous, so why not the last? People explore to make memories and to experience things. If its memory lasted, is it not an adventure?

I try my best to fill my Adventure Book with tales of the everyday adventure. Tales of the day to day with flare. Who knows which of these little extravaganzas will turn into the thing I remember years from now. I guarantee I do not remember every tiny detail about my time in Ghana or every moment at the Grand Canyon. But I remember gourmet s’mores. 

So tell me, what small adventures have you made recently?

More Soon.

John Latona Jr., The Boy with the Bear

An Introduction: The Boy with the Bear

So this is post zero. The Boy with the Bear is a blog about my relationship to adventure. On this blog I will discuss my own personal struggles and successes in living a life of adventure. My primary goal will be to open the conversation with anyone who has ever dealt with the calling to do or see more. Let’s discuss how we can help each other overcome the boredom and mental clutter that comes with the everyday. Maybe we can take the leap together.

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Prior to this I had been using this forum to create my writing habit. Success. Looking back that was and is now part of my day to day adventure. Now, I can start talking more consistently about a single topic. The fear of the calling was the topic of a few posts during my 31 Day writing challenge. It is clearly important to me. I have since refined it to this concept of the everyday adventurer.

It is my hope that throughout the life of this blog I will write about:

  • Things I want to do.
  • Why I haven’t done them.
  • What it takes to do new things.
  • What it felt like after I pushed through the fear and actually did them.

Currently I am fighting through the fear of posting this on a more public forum than I already have. I know I need to put myself out there, but being that vulnerable is spooky. But if you are reading this, that means that I pushed through that problem and am most likely pleased.

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I am excited to go on this journey together, whoever you are! Now tell me, what have you always wanted to do, but have never had the courage?

More soon.

John Latona Jr., The Boy with the Bear