This time last year I wrote the blog post How I completely changed my life in 1 year. Here I am a year later and I'm shocked to look back and see how much has changed again.
I've loved and lost
I found a love so great that I was scared to death of losing it, and because of that fear I lost it. This summer I found the woman of my dreams, she was truly everything I ever wanted, and I knew I would spend the rest of my life with her. I made a huge mistake though, I put her up on a pedestal and treated her like divinity. I gave her so much of myself that there was no possible way for her to love me back. I gave everything and asked for nothing in return, I was pitifully in love. I've learned that relationships must be equal, each partner must give the same amount, and that means allowing the other person to give of themselves. I don't have an ounce of resentment towards her for this decision. If it wasn't for her being in my life I wouldn't have made all the changes I'm writing about today, I owe her the world for that.
I found happiness within myself
Through this experience I'm thankful that I no longer rely upon someone else to give me joy. I was seeking someone to complete me, someone else to make me happy. The truth is I wasn't happy with myself, and nobody can change that except me and my feelings. Your partner can't complete you, you need to be complete before having a meaningful relationship.
I found God
Before this year I had no connection to God, it wasn't that I didn't believe in God, I just had no experience to show me that he did exist. This year he finally came to me though, in so many different ways. I've given up my control and am following his will. For those of you that have not found God, I know, I know, you're rolling your eyes right now. That's okay. I was the same not long ago, any God talk would make me run the other direction. All I can ask of you is to keep your heart open to the possibility, once you let go of your ego and open up, everything changes. It's not going to be easy, but it's an incredible experience.
I found my calling
Lately I've been inspired by Pope Francis. His words and actions are incredible, he is truly following in the footsteps of Jesus. Hearing stories of him sneaking out of the church at night in traditional priests attire to meet with the homeless is more than inspirational. I don't consider myself Catholic or Christian at this point, only seeking to become a better steward of this earth by following the teachings of Jesus, it's more than following though, it's acting.
Through a series of events I found my way to a homeless shelter on Christmas day in Hoboken, NJ. Being completely out of my comfort zone, I found the true importance of serving others. I'm not telling this for praise, please don't praise me. Instead be inspired to do the same, find a way to help the less fortunate. Change someones life through the act of giving of yourself.
The book that really implanted the idea of giving of myself was Into The Wind. This is a must read if you're searching for meaning in your life, and who isn't?
I had an amazing year teaching others
I found great joy in teaching others everything I know about night photography in my workshops. I was very scared to teach others initially, it seemed crazy that anyone would want to learn from me. I'm still humbled by it, but I now have the confidence that I can do it very well, and others are truly benefiting from it. I've made many great friends along the way and am so grateful for everyone that could join me. Thank you all for taking a chance on me.
I threw caution to the wind and moved to Montana
I dug up my Colorado roots and started a new adventure in 'Big Sky Country'. I was ready for a change so I sucked up my fears and found a new home near Yellowstone. This was only possible because of my minimilazation efforts last year. I was able to pack up everything I owned into a small U-hual trailer, which could have been even smaller if it wasn't for the California King size bed...someday this will have to go too. I moved into a tiny one room studio out in the country. I can view the milky way and Aurora from my backyard, which is fantastic. I don't know if this is home, I may let the wind blow me in another direction this year, I'm just happy to find the courage to start a new journey and explore more of the world.
I started meditating
I know, I'm a crazy hippy now wtf? Meditation is incredibly simple, sit down, lay down, whatever. Close your eyes, focus on your breath, and clear your mind of thoughts. That's it, did you try it? Not so easy huh? You realize that your mind is constantly racing, thinking about what to make for dinner, what your next task is, how to prepare for a project, etc., etc., etc. You never have a chance to be calm. Mediation has changed my life surprisingly, I put it off for a long time because it seemed like such a waste of time. Now whenever I feel overwhelming emotions of stress, anxiety, etc. coming on I sit down and clear my mind. It's not easy and it takes practice, but the clarity it brings changes everything.
I quit CrossFit
I screwed up and burnt myself out. Now, before the CrossFit haters come along and say I told you so, let me say that I will likely go back to it one day. There is nothing wrong with CrossFit other than the way I approached it. Consider this fair warning for anyone starting CrossFit or any other physical activity. When I started CrossFit I became a junkie, working out 6 days a week at high intensity. After my workouts I would literally be high from it, this was the first warning sign. Over time this high feeling started to go away, and eventually after a workout I felt like I had been hit by a truck. I had officially burnt out my adrenal glands. I am now on Cortisol temporarily to help my adrenals rest and recover. If I go back to CrossFit I will seek out a box that focuses on weight training, not METCON's every day, my box was going this direction and I have nothing but good things to say about them. My coach advised less days and I didn't listen, I was an addict seeking the next fix.
I started yoga
As a nice gentle replacement I have started doing yoga. Similar to meditation, it's a great way to clear your mind and be present in the moment. It's a gentle exercise that really helps with balance, flexibility and overall strength. If you have an iPad or iPhone a great way to start is with Yoga Studio.
I followed my artistic passion and stopped following the crowd
I had the realization that I had turned into an epic shot hunter in my photography. I was seeking out the dramatic sunrises, sunsets, wildflowers, fall colors, etc. that every other landscape photographer chases after. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with this necessarily, but I was not spending the time to improve my vision and follow what my heart really wanted to shoot. I was seeking better light, better color, to improve my photography. Through the hunt my photos became 'better', but not because they spoke to anyone at a deeper level, they were just prettier. Pretty does not fuel the artist's soul, it simply feeds the ego, makes you feel good about a thousand 'likes' on facebook. Will pretty leave behind a legacy that will be remembered? Not a chance.
This summer I began shooting everything in black and white (except my night photos) and I couldn't be happier. I can now shoot under nearly any conditions, overcast, mid day light if there are some clouds. My preferred conditions are in the afternoon with some unique clouds. I can now slow down and think. Think about my compositions, think about what it is I'm shooting, and why. I have time to get absorbed by the environment, to engage with it, and find meaning within it. Chasing the light left me supremely unsatisfied and longing for more.
I refined my diet even further
I have been wheat free for 3 years now, 'paleo' for 2 years, and within the past few months I have been on the autoimmune protocol of the paleo diet. I have finally cleared up my digestion issues by never stopping the search for what was causing problems. I eventually figured out certain foods like onions, leeks and any type of sugar except raw honey gave me major problems. Does that mean you should avoid these foods? No. Everyone is unique and will have there own specific problem foods, the only way to find out is to experiment. If you suspect something is causing you issues, cut it out for at least 2 weeks and see how you feel.
I now largely follow the recommendations put forward by Weston A. Price, which is very similar to Paleo, with more emphasis put on fermented foods, and high quality meat sources. A big distinction is the allowance of dairy, but don't run to the store and buy a gallon of milk yet. There is a huge difference between pasteurized milk from factory farms and raw milk from small local farms. Raw milk is illegal in most states sadly, but usually you can find a farm that will do a cow share. You buy a portion of the cow so you are technically drinking milk from 'your' cow, and the farm isn't selling you raw milk. It's absurd and slowly change is coming state by state. To find a farm near you search on Real Milk or look on Farm to consumer legal defense fund, your best bet will be going to a local Weston A. Price meeting and do some networking to find a source.
I found a Naturopathic doctor
At one point I believed all ills could be cured by diet, and I still strongly believe that most can. I have felt exceptionally better since I have cleaned up my diet, but some lingering issues remained. Over time listening to some great podcasts like Dr. Lauren Noel, SCD Lifestyle, Fat Burning Man, etc. who interview the best in the world on alternative medicine, I educated myself and found answers to the problems I was having.
Naturopathic doctors take a different approach to medicine than your typical doctor. They look at the whole picture and get to the root cause of your problems rather than treating the symptoms only. Likely one of the first things they will ask you is what you're eating, because they know this is the basis of all health. The initial consultation will likely be very long (mine was 3 hours) to talk about everything you're having problems with, when is the last time you spent more than 10 minutes talking to your doctor? From there they will look at your lab results to find the underlying issues if diet does not heal you fully. The most common culprits are Thyroid, Adrenals, Hormones or pathogens.
Adrenal fatigue is very common and under treated, read the questions below. If you answer yes to 2 or more you may have a problem, read more aboutadrenal fatigue here
1) Do you have a hard time falling asleep at night?
2) Do you wake up frequently during the night?
3) Do you have a hard time waking up in the morning early, or feeling refreshed?
4) Do bright lights bother you more than they should?
5) Do you startle easily due to noise?
6) When standing from sitting or from lying down, do you feel lightheaded or dizzy?
7) Do you take things too seriously, and are easily defensive?
8 ) Do you feel you don’t cope well with certain people or events in your life?
Take a look at these symptoms for Hypothyroid. If these are familiar to you, or you're already being treated for hypothyroid, please read this book Stop The Thyroid Madness. It will change your life once you get it treated. My life will never be the same, I now have energy and the brain fog has been lifted, amongst many other symptoms, even digestion has improved. It's not an easy process to get healthy, but it's worth it. There is nothing more important than your health.
Unfortunately it can be a challenge to find a naturopathic doctor in some states. It is an emerging field and not all states have licensing setup yet. Check here first Naturopathic.org to see if there is one near you. If there isn't, you need to go on a search for one in a nearby state. Or you may be able to find a nurse practitioner, I was able to find on in South Dakota (where ND's are not licensed yet) for my mother that was open to treating her thyroid 'alternatively' with natural desicated thyroid.
What's in store for 2014?
I have no idea. My world has been rocked to it's core in the past couple weeks, all my plans have been thrown out the window. All I can do is keep an open heart and mind to new experiences. Life is ever changing and gets harder every day, it never gets easy. This excites me though, a hard life of never ending learning is one worth living. Comfort is a fallacy, all it really means is that you're not growing, not living life.
I have an incredible amount of hope and am fully committed to live in the present. I will learn from the past, not be held back by the scars of it. I have no fear of the future because I know I have no control over it. The past and future are illusions of our mind, the only thing that is real is this present moment, live in it.