Below is a short story covering a few relevant points in my life that inspired The Blue Dot Post.
Meeting The Love of My Life
As I think about it, a lot has changed in my life over the past several years. I lived in NYC for a few years, moved to Jersey City and met the love of my life, Luanne, who I’m now married to. She was attending Cornell Medical School and at that time I worked in Manhattan as a Senior Account Supervisor for a healthcare publishing company, WebMD. I’ve worked in digital healthcare marketing for over 10 years. At the same time, I also was co-owner of a record label (AlterImage Recordings), a DJ, and music producer. That business forced me to learn many new skills such as graphic design, basic web coding, and video development. We were both very busy people and therefore connected through, dare I say, Match.com. Yes, it actually works and I’m OK with saying it! When we met, she was a vegetarian and I was nowhere near understanding that perspective. Somehow, I slowly corrupted her by making a convincing case to eat meat again. This perspective and lifestyle choice changes again later in the story. Today we live in Philadelphia, more city life.
Turning our Worlds Upside Down
In March of 2011 we took our first trip to Central America to visit a more remote location on a beach in a jungle. The area is known as one of the few “bluezones” in the world, which is defined as a place people live measurably longer and healthier lives. We were looking to break away from city chaos and try something dramatically different. Once there, we were still attuned to our city clock and temperament, so things didn’t register right from the start.
After a few days passed, things started to sink in more and we got into the rhythm of the local area. How we felt and saw things slowly changed. This may all sound hokey and I’m not sure how to describe it, but it’s the truth. I was sitting there in an almond cove staring out at the ocean. It was silent from the usual city sounds we have grown accustomed to, and alive with waves crashing, monkeys howling, birds singing, and warm breezes blowing by. With nobody around at all, I couldn’t help but feel as though we were in a different world. It was that different. What I intimately took notice of was how that difference made me feel which I suppose could be defined as a huge relief. Sitting there, my mind wandered a lot and I couldn’t help but think about how, in the words of Neil deGrasse Tyson, “We are all connected to each other biologically, to the earth chemically and to the rest of the universe atomically.” Our lungs only work if there is clean oxygen produced by trees and plants through their use of sunlight and water. If life around us is failing, then it’s a sign that we are failing as a whole. Everyday it was like I wiped a little more fog from the window of my mind so I can see better.
From that day on I started paying closer attention to what was going on in the world around us, the good and the not so good. I had an urge to, as they say, “help make the world a better place.” I wanted to know why we do the things the way we do. I took various classes for social entrepreneurship, read many books, and volunteered with groups I felt were making a difference. My problem was I didn’t know what to focus on, what was my so-called “purpose?” Whenever someone talks about “purpose” or “fulfillment,” it tends to get some eye rolls, I know. However, what’s the point of living if you’re not doing something you’re eager to wake up for everyday?
In the below video, Alan Watts makes a great statement that really stuck with me since I first heard it.
“If you say that getting the money is the most important thing, you will spend your life completely wasting your time. You’ll be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living, that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing. Better to have short life that is full of what you like doing than a long life spent in a miserable way.” ~ Alan Watts
What would your life be like without money?
That first trip impacted me so much that for the first time in over 30 years, I wanted a tattoo. A daily reminder of what I felt and thought on that trip. I did not want that feeling or perspective I gained to fade from my mind over time. Since then, we have revisited once or twice a year and plan to do so for a long time.
Jim Morrison was said to be a wild and crazy guy, and he was. When I was young, I read his biography and since then felt maybe he was too smart for his own good. He had amazing perspective and said things of very profound nature. A favorite quote is:
“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange you put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first” ~ Jim Morrison
The Changes We Made So Far
The below information is probably boring and more than you really want to know. However, it’s part of the story and gives you some insight into the changes we were inspired to make and found to be very valuable. It hasn’t been easy but we have a vision of who we want to be and just started taking steps towards it.
Luanne and I have challenged ourselves with dramatic lifestyle changes in an effort to live healthy positive lives. At the time my blood-pressure was pre-hypertensive. So, I started learning about meditation and found there is a tremendous amount of peer reviewed scientific research supporting amazing outcomes in various areas. This may not be for everyone, at least not until they decide they are ready. Luanne became very interested in physical fitness and nutrition. She began reading an extensive amount of literature to get educated and now we visit the gym together about 4-5 days per week. I always said “there must be something more productive we can do than sit here staring at a TV at night.” I got what I wished for. It’s not an easy lifestyle change when you previously learned to enjoy getting home from work to kick your shoes off and watch a few shows. It took me about 3 months to adapt, mostly a psychological challenge.
Luanne is a surgeon, so she’s interested in the human body and not long ago began to study nutrition in depth. We wanted to understand where our food comes from and what was beneficial to our bodies. She can read 5 books before I finish one. Outside of books, we watched educational documentaries and talks that laid out the science. It’s mind blowing when you understand what is happening in the food industry today! Our goal is to live healthy so it was time for more change. Now the changes I describe here did not happen quickly, it was over a couple years. We started by getting a high end power blender and got on the green smoothie train. Now, remember how I corrupted her vegetarian diet? Well, we slowly reduced our meat intake, which turned into complete removal. Doing more research, we found that it is not only good for our health, it’s globally good for many other reasons. Looking back, it is amazing how much the tables have turned since we first met! Next we got a food dehydrator inspired by Central America (thanks Franklin), and lastly we got a juicer. We already had a food processor that we never used; now we use it all the time to make peanut butter, almond butter, or what we call chocolate power balls. They are high price items, but the value of having them far suppresses the investment. Our kitchen is fully loaded and we have no regrets. The juices are amazing. These changes have improved how we feel and we rarely get sick. This is not a diet of any sort, it’s just following the concept of being healthy and giving our bodies what is best for it. It’s not easy because the processed foods are highly addictive. We definitely splurge, usually Friday nights; we call it “Fat Ass Fridays.” You have to have balance, right?
Between the exercise, meditation, healthy eating, and an herbal plant extract, I actually reduced my blood pressure from being pre-hypertensive at 139 to normal around 113.
Today, we all buy more and more “things” and are convinced the bigger the house the better. We had a 2 bedroom 2 bathroom apartment with a great view of the river. All that extra space did was encourage us to buy more stuff we didn’t need and required us to clean more, which we never wanted to do. Time for more change, so we de-cluttered our living situation and got rid of all the things we thought we needed and never actually did need. It was a huge weight off our shoulders!
A year later, we decided to move from that two bedroom apartment with a river view to a one bedroom, one bathroom apartment with a balcony and view of a billboard/highway. That move forced us to get rid of even more of our stuff. We gave away tables, entertainment units, chairs, desks, book shelves, clothes, you name it. It’s far more manageable, easier to clean, and saves us a ton of money. We couldn’t be happier about it. Dramatic changes like that feel really good.
Over the years I dabbled in many ideas that I thought were my “passion.” I had new business concepts every other day and pursued a handful, but none stuck. I always have my hands in something because I like change. If you’re comfortable, you’re not growing. Now, after a lot of research, classes, books, writing, brainstorming, and professional work experience, I finally figured out what makes the most sense for me, and that is this concept of The Blue Dot Post. My vision is very big and my intentions are very honest. I only want to do good for the world and help create positive ripples into the future.
Remember when I said, “What’s the point of living if you’re not doing something you’re eager to wake up for everyday”? I wake up between 4:30am and 5:30am everyday now, eager to get started.
Now you know a little about me and where my inspiration comes from. Thanks for reading and for supporting this project.
The most astounding fact about the universe, by Neil deGrasse Tyson.