the importance of “the happy place”

I love being out in the world.

It almost doesn’t even matter where.

Whether its the middle of Paris, France (or Paris, Texas), the backwoods of the Alaskan wilderness, or a no-name patch of sand in any stretch of desert, or any sweeping beach. I simply love being there.

There’s something about knowing my literal, actual feet have touched that part of the earth, that centers me, and makes me feel whole. the atoms of my essence have been momentarily intertwined with the atoms of boundless time, collected into that single space. that’s far too metaphoric and meta-physical to fit into a postcard, and yet, what do so many postcards say?: “Wish You Were Here!” The un-investigated and taken-for-granted phrase encapsulates that exact ethereal sentiment.

“come with me, and you’ll be, in a worllllld, of pure imagination…”

At this moment in time, however, there is nowhere else to be, but exactly wherever it is that we are. Most likely our homes and apartments, and if we’re “lucky,” sometimes at work. The outside world, and all of those magical places in the far-flung world that my feet yearn to go stand on, are all off limits until further notice.

Now, more than ever, it’s important for all of us to dig into our heads and our hearts and find whatever it is that makes us happy, and redefine what our individual “happy place” is comprised of. It can no longer be “going to dinner with friends,” or “saving for exotic travel,” or even “lingering at the grocery store for meal ideas.” Wih the environment around us in it’s present toxic state, we need to cultivate our Invironment.

I know it’s somewhat annoying to keep reading people’s social media posts advocating taking up new hobbies and practicing new skills indoors, and trying new recipes or home workouts, but it’s the right idea. Not with the goal of keeping up with the Joneses, or rising to meet that stupid push-up challenge your go-getter co-worker tagged you in, but simply to pass the time. A watched pot never boils, and while we’re all stuck inside our homes, and trapped inside our heads, time feels permanently frozen, and indistinguishable.

I’ve started crocheted again, which i haven’t done in years. I’m average at it, at best, and it may very well take me 7 years to finish a crooked, patchy blanket, but while i binge-watch 76 hours of cartoons, and eat 23 bowls of Raisin Bran in bed over the next few weeks days, being able to look down at my yarn creation – or anything tactile and physical – that proves time has in fact happened, and isn’t make-believe, it makes me feel less trapped. The water is closer and closer to boiling every day, and action is taking place all around us, even if we can not see it from the vantage point of our hidden away quarantine hovels.

My brother challenged you all to move, to be physical, to be motivated, in order to conquer your own comfort zones. I challenge you to that same goal, but with the objective of realizing that when you conquer one comfort zone, you simultaneously expand your Invironment, your inner world, your personal “happy place.” And we all need to find a way to hold on to the happy right now, more than ever before.

Below, is my list, of the little things that are keeping me going. Take the time to make a small list of your own, and try to do at least a couple of the things on it each day, even if that just repeats the same few things over and over. If it keeps you mentally and emotionally grounded, and connected to the happy, then just keep at it.

things that make me happy

  • crocheting
  • yoga
  • bubble baths
  • black lights
  • audiobooks and podcasts
  • the sound of springtime rain, and dripping snow melt
  • catching up with far-away friends on the phone or video chat
  • cheese
  • watching old movies

The Comfort Zone

My problem has never been GETTING out of my comfort zone, my problem is STAYING out of my comfort zone. I am really good at getting, and staying, uncomfortable in a physical sense though. I work-out every single day without fail and I’m always looking for the next challenge whether that be long distance running, powerlifting, bodybuilding.

Although I know the growth that comes from constantly putting yourself out there, the fear and the vulnerability that come along with it always cripple my attempts.

The whole idea of my sister and I starting a blog came to because it was the most uncomfortable thing I could think of doing. I’ve never been a writer and never been good at formulating my thoughts into coherent points so doing so instantly makes me uncomfortable.

The thing that I keep realizing though is that life really resides in those uncomfortable moments, doesn’t it? The moments that i’ve really felt most alive are when im in the fire, challenging myself both physically and mentally. For example, late last year (2019) I signed up for a 10k Trail Run at the US National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, NC that took place in February. As soon as I signed up I knew I had to get to work and start training or else I would fail. My cardio has always been subpar and I’ve definitely never been a runner, so I knew this goal I had of running a 10K was out of my comfort zone.

I started with 1 mile everyday, and those first two weeks I thought my legs were going to explode! As i started to increase the amount of miles that I was running per week, the pain only compounded and my mind decided it wanted to quit along with my body. I never thought that running was so tough and could push to be that uncomfortable but here I was whining in my own mind about running another mile day after day even though I was the one who signed up for the race. How does that make any sense? So I had a decision to make. Give up and be content with failure, or push myself to be uncomfortable and reach my goal. Easy Choice. I became friends with the pain. I embraced each mile for what it was, a stepping stone to a better me, a building block to a goal I had set for myself. For the next month leading up the race I ran 15-20 miles a week so when race day came, I accomplished my goal. I ran the race and finished the 10K (6.4 miles) without any hiccups. Was it hard? Yes. Did I want to quit 10 times? Yes. But I didn’t, and that’s the point. I ran straight into the fire and did exactly what I set out to do.

As much as this post is a story about me getting out of my comfort zone to accomplish something, it is a challenge to you to do the same. Decide today to do something that you’ve never done, whether that’s a physical challenge or writing a blog post, and DO IT! One of two things will happen. You will either accomplish that goal and gain confidence in yourself or you will learn more about yourself in the pursuit of that goal, and be able to do it better the next time. Either one is a win, and neither are comfortable. Go get it!

JLC

Just Breathe

Tattoo

“Just Breathe”. Only 2 words, but relatively deep in their meaning. Depending on who is hearing them and the lens they are hearing them through, they can be interpreted in a variety of ways. To me, a couple different things pop into my mind every time I hear them, Family, Cystic Fibrosis, tattoos, and calmness. I wanted to dive into these words a little bit and share with you the lens that I see them through, and what they mean to me.
Family means everything to me. I put all of my family members in the highest regard. They have seen me at my highest of highs and lowest of lows and their love has never wavered. My immediate family in particular has been through things that are definitely not the norm on whatever scale you put it on, but that’s what makes us, us. My sister and I were both diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis very early in our lives, my sister within six months of birth and I was diagnosed at birth, and I’m sure that was a curveball that my parents never saw coming. That being said, that never changed their view of us as human beings, and if anything, it made them love us even more. The sheer amount of work that goes into the daily life of a CF Patient is staggering, so you can imagine the amount work that it took to have two of those patients running around the house as spastic little children that were both stubborn as can be and didn’t want to do anything they were told (Dara mostly 😉). I know for a fact this made my mother stressed to an unimaginable level, especially as we grew into even more stubborn teenagers! The motto of CF happens to be those two words I was speaking of before, “Just Breathe”, because the simple act of breathing can be extremely hard at times for those afflicted, and my mother took that on as a sort of mantra for her kids and supporting them and also for her life. And let’s be honest it really is a good mantra to have, in times of stress when everything gets too hectic that you can’t even bear it, saying “Just Breathe” can a have a calming effect on anyone.
With it being a phrase that we all hold dear to our hearts ,a couple of years ago, my mom gave me a shout and said, “Hey, I got all of us an appointment to go get a family tattoo, I wanted us all to get “Just Breathe” and without hesitation I said “say no more, Ma, count me in!” My dad and I ended up getting those words in Scottish Gaelic, which translates to Tayrn Ennal, in the same exact spots on our left forearms, my mom “Just Breathe”, and my sister just got the word “Breathe”. I only have 2 tattoos and plan on getting many more, but one rule I have for getting things permanently put onto my body is that whatever it is has to have a significant meaning to me and my life and those words definitely fit that bill!
I was always told it wasn’t the best idea to get forearm tattoos or anything that would show during a job interview or what have you, but after I got this tattoo I could literally care less about that. It is barely ever covered up and I always get the question, “is that your girlfriends name?, or is that your daughters name?” and I inevitably have to explain what the words mean and in English and dive into their actual meaning to me. At first, I always cringed at the thought of explaining why I have these words on my body, I’ve never been one to be too open about my circumstances in life because I never wanted to use them as a crutch, so I would just shy away from an explanation at all and say, “Yeah man, girlfriends name!”. This reaction always ate at me every time it happened because it was just simply not the truth, and in the long run shying away from who you truly are is doing yourself a huge disservice. So after about the tenth time this happened I made a decision to never answer the question of what my tattoo means in that way again and instead I say, “It’s a reminder”. It is a reminder of all of the things that I have been through in my life up until this point, of my family, of my heritage, and the all- encompassing relief it gives me to know everything is going to be okay at the end of the day.
Much love,
JLC

the “out there” older sister

I live in Alaska.

Like, backwoods, two-hour-drive-to-town, population of 2,000 at most, type Alaska.

Which, in Alaska, isn’t even considered as rural as it can get.

Though I fancy myself an explorer and adventurer, I never thought I’d find myself living in a place where, when you google image search it, only a picture of the local grocery, a highway sign, and a moose pops up.

That’s it.

For as Anytown, USA as it is, I’ve never had more to do, more to see, more to eat, more to drink, or more going on than I do in this very remote, small town.

Not because I haven’t lived in places that offer up infinitely more choices for entertainment and leisure to it’s residents, because I have. (I moved here from LA.) And not because there haven’t been more more hectic busy and exciting times in my life, because there have been. (I’m a post-grad millenial arts and humanities major with no career path to speak of who’s finally finding that a much slower pace of lifestyle is a good and welcome thing. This moment in my life is surprisingly relaxed.)

The reason this place feels like there’s so much going on, is because the people who live here make a point to have things going on. They make plans and they keep them. They throw potluck and board game nights, bonfires, and costume parties, just for the hell of it, and then, they all go through with the plans that they made with one another. It’s the community of people who make up a hodge-podge, transplanted, family of misfits and weirdos who just enjoy life and like to enjoy it with others.

It’s that feeling that kept me here through my first Alaskan winter, and it’s those people who make me want to stay a bit longer.

More soon,

Dara

My First Article, Ever

Well here I am, finally starting my first article. For the last month all I have been thinking about is this post. While, at first, I wanted to make this the best piece of writing that I have ever written, I started to realize as I pecked away at this computer screen, that that just wasn’t going to happen. First of all, I haven’t written anything of length besides one-off, rambling journal entries in around 8 years. Secondly, I have never been much of a writer. I always left that up to my sister, the intellectual of the family. So instead of freezing in the paranoia and not writing anything because I know it won’t be the greatest piece of literature in my life, I’m just going to write and see what happens.
My sister (Dara) and I (John) are starting this blog to have something that belongs to us, together. To write about and share all of the things that make us, us. Whether that be our interests, ideas, experiences, poetry or stories, the possibilities are endless! We live on opposite sides of the country, I live in North Carolina and Dara in Alaska, and we rarely get to see each other, so we thought it would be cool to do something that both of us get to contribute to. Dara and I have a really awesome, silly relationship and we have a ton of similarities, including the fact that we both have Cystic Fibrosis (hence The Cameron Files). Catchy, I know!
Our hopes for this blog are that we will not only be able to put our thoughts and words out there, but some of our friends and family will be able to as well. Along our journey we have been lucky enough to meet and befriend some really incredible people, so I’m sure a lot of them are going to be contributing to the site as well here and there!
Personally, I can’t wait to get started! This blog is an idea that we’ve been throwing around for awhile now and it feels good to have it up and rolling!

Talk to y’all soon,
JC