Don't call me lucky.

People tell me I'm lucky. I hear it all to often when I talk to others about my music career. Lately I  have heard the word lucky a lot regarding to my decision to travel in Asia for nine months. Even my mom told me I was lucky when I regaled her with tales of island life in Thailand.  

Am I really lucky? I didn't really think about luck the first few times people said it to me. Then, like any other word people use to describe their perception of you, I thought about it. Now when people tell me I'm lucky I say no, I'm not lucky, I choose this. Lucky was when I caught that 20th anniversary baseball at Oriole Park. Lucky was when I wasn't paralyzed after I broke my neck and then my back years later.   
  
Please don't call me lucky. Saying that makes it seem like some golden opportunity fell into my lap. Saying that I’m lucky makes it sound like I won the lotto or found buried treasure somewhere. I have often heard, that luck is when preparation meets timing. Call me determined, tenacious, conscientious, or a maverick. But don't just call me lucky. 
  
I believe that my "successes" in life have come because of my own choices rather than some conspiracy of the universe. I believe that we all make choices and those choices create the life we live. For better or worse. Each decision we make has an effect on the world around us and sends out ripples like a stone dropped into a calm lake. 

Many of us use the word stress as a way to describe our lives. All too often I've heard people say they are stressed out. I'd be lying if I said I've never uttered those words myself. But it's really a choice we make, or rather a series of choices, that lead to whatever stress or peace we experience in our lives. 

Many times I've heard people say they had to work somewhere or live somewhere. I've heard people say they couldn't travel because they had a great job they didn't want to loose. My reply was always the same: “You choose to do those things,” or “They are the sum of your choices.” Either way, the fact remains that there is no mythical force of destiny holding you in place in your life. Every morning you wake up and from the moment you open you eyes, you make choices. Many people choose to hit the snooze button. Others choose to meditate or drink coffee while others immediately turn on the TV. 
  
Some time ago I figured out that my choices created my life. While this concept is certainly no secret, it is an empowering way to live. I've always been one to follow my dreams and encourage others to do the same.  
  
By following my dreams I learned how to create my own life, but all the while I had one foot in what some people call the rat race. Whatever job I had was simply a way to make it easier to continue following my dreams. Working for the man became nothing more than a way to make money and to observe the "normal" American life. As I went along following my passions I saw how others around me filled their lives with, stuff.   

What's the point of life and stuff and work and time? Why are we here and what is the purpose of life? The answers to those questions can't be found on TV or in a bar or a shopping mall. What we find in those places is only a brief distraction from the parts of life that we find hard to bear. The real answers are found outside of our comfort zone where we must be still and connect to something deeper. The real answers to our questions are found when we make choices that are aligned with our higher self, our soul. 

If you want your life to be different make different choices. If you want to do something, if you want to go somewhere, if you want to change your life it's all possible. It all starts with the choices you make. It sounds simple because it is, but it does require work everyday.  
  
I've lived in places with people from other countries. I've talked to them about how different their lives are from American life. I've seen how happy people can be even though by American standards they would be considered poor. I've seen the happiness of contentment overcome the lack of resources. I've lived in Nepal -a country desperate to heal from a devastating tragedy, racked by corruption, and crippled by failing infrastructure. Despite all that, Nepali people keep such peace and joy in their hearts that you can't help but notice. 
  
My decision to leave the United States and travel for awhile began as a dream. It began as all of my dreams have. It all started with a thought, a goal, and a fire inside of me. The reason that I made my dream a reality has a lot to do with courage and perseverance. It was only by facing my fears and continually reaching for my goal that I made my dreams a reality. 
  
I've always been a dreamer and it's never been the easy way to go, but it's invariably been worth it. If you add dreams together with hard work anything is possible. Quite simply, we live in a world where we are taught that we need to conform. We are conditioned with an idea of what a successful and happy life is, starting at a very young age. The reality is that paradigm was created to make a society of consumers in debt, not a society of people living up to their highest potential.  

It is entirely possible to change your life and make it whatever you want it to be. It won't always be easy, and it certainly won't always be fun, but it will be worth it. Every day you spend working to follow your dreams brings them one step closer. Next time you think of something you want to do remember what I always say "step one, believe". The first thing you must do is believe your dream is possible and believe in yourself. 
  
What the world needs today is not more people wearing a certain kind of shoe, or buying a flat screen TV, or driving a new car. What the world needs today is people who do amazing things, help others, and break free of the corrupt, materialistic, ego driven society we live in. I have a lot of the world left to see, but I can tell you from what I have seen, that it's not just a problem in America.  
  
So go, throw caution to the wind, take a risk, take a chance, dare to dream. Even if you fail 100 times before you succeed the taste of true freedom will be worth it. True freedom is the freedom from the thought that you can control what other people think about you by how you look or what you drive or where you live. True freedom is when you give up the things that you don't really need. True freedom is when you live comfortably below your means so that there is always enough money instead of always needing more. True freedom is like true happiness, it comes from within not from anything outside of yourself. 
  
I challenge you to take back the part of your life you normally spend in front of the television for one week. First, unplug your television and cover it with a blanket. Wherever you keep the remote control put a notebook and pen instead. 
  
Use that time to write down all your goals and dreams in life. If you have a family get them involved as well. After you write the first 30-40 ideas you'll have to push even harder to expand the list but keep going. Try for 100 ideas or more of both personal and family dreams. Be sure to include even the wildest possibilities. 
  
These ideas will become your list, your intentional focus. Next, pick one simple thing from that list and make it a reality that day. Buy a ticket, go somewhere, call someone and tell them you love them. Whatever dreams you have they are all possible and you can choose to make them a reality. Start with something small and work on the ones that take time each day for the rest of the week. Become the kind of person who lives an inspired life and makes the world a better place for others and yourself. 
  
Never let fear stop you because as soon as you face your fear it looses all its power. Don't live to make others happy, live to be happy and make the lives of others better. The world needs people who are alive and awake. We can all change the world, it all starts when we change ourselves. Now go, and follow your dreams. 
  
 

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