Hard to focus.

The internet, our smart phones, the instant access to endless information all have destroyed our ability to focus. You may have even found this post because you Googled “It’s hard to focus” or “I can’t focus.” Well here’s something you may not want to hear. Stop Googling! The answer is not on the web. The answer is to shut it all off. To spend some time in silence, and to pick one task and shut yourself away from all of these distractions. Little by little you can regain your focus. But as soon as you indulge in some multitasking or phone checking your focus will be shot. Put it away. You can check it after you get your work done. The world needs what you have to offer.

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Thinking about Theme.

The Academy Award winning screenwriter Paddy Cheyefsky (Marty and Network) once said that “As soon as I figure out the theme of my play, I type it out in one line and Scotch-tape it to the front of my typewriter. After that, nothing goes into the play that isn’t on-theme.”

Thinking about theme is a great way to pull together your writing and give it power and purpose. But what if we applied this to our lives? If every day, or once a week, or once a month we thought, “What is the theme of my life?” Then we tried to articulate it and write it down, could this give us more focus?

This is different than trying to figure out our purpose, or what we are meant to do. Often, this thinking leads us to a dead end, a life of stagnation. We hope to be hit with our purpose by some outer force. Where as theme is more open. It develops over time.

Theme is trying to connect the dots of our past with a future that we want. If we look back on the whole of our lives after we pass, what does that story tell us? What do we want it to say? In this way we can start to shape a future that we can be proud of, no matter what our past holds. The changes we make now define the totality of the theme of our lives.

We may never come up with a one-liner that we can hold onto for the rest of our lives. Themes can evolve. But we can create more control and confidence in living if we put effort into thinking about the theme of our lives. What’s your theme?

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Is There an Idea That is Killing You?

I think I have an idea that is slowly killing me. It’s killing me because it’s a project that I started 10 years ago. It’s something that I care about and that I have told myself I will eventually get back to and finish. On and on I dredge it up and reconsider whether to shelve it or take it on. It’s a huge project and will take a good 6 months to 2 years of real hard work to finish it to my liking.

In reality, it could make me some money, but not enough to really compensate me for the time it will take to finish. It’s something that a small group of people would value for the memories it would preserve, but it’s doubtful it will gain attention beyond them. Most of the video footage I shot looks so dated and unprofessional that it’s not going to further my career as a camera operator or director of photography. But there is a story worth telling there…

None of the reasons to complete this project have pushed me past the pain of the overwhelming task of just completing it. It’s a combination of fear of failure and of losing that time which I could be spending on more “useful” and “fulfilling” projects. That pain has caused me to stagnate. What I am realizing though is that not finishing this project is slowly killing me. It’s seeping into all other projects and ideas that I have. It’s weighing me down. This giant undertaking that I dedicated so much time to, that I cared so much about, that has been the excuse for not starting new projects is killing me.

I’ve come to the realization that there is never going to be a “good time” to finish it. If I avoid it, it will kill my creativity for the rest of my life. Some projects are worth finishing simply because not doing so will ruin you. I’ve got to find a way to push myself and make it happen.

Are there any projects, relationships, plans that you have abandoned that are secretly killing you? Maybe it’s time to pick them up and put them to bed. Your life may depend on it.

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PCH Tour: Index for My 2014 Pacific Coast Tour

Humbug Mountain Beach

This is the index for all of my reblogged Instagram posts from my 2014 Pacific Coast Bicycle Tour. Starting at the end of July, I rode solo from Vancouver, Canada to Ensenada, Mexico with nothing but a bicycle loaded with camping gear. It’s hard to say it was a solo ride though. I met so many amazing people along the way, and made a couple of lifelong friends. These posts are more of a log of my day to day activities and encounters. Some are very basic. Some really dive into the way I was feeling at the time. There are no mile logs or specific tips and tactics outside of the surprises that I had along the way.

At the start of this tour I was anxious and unsure if I could make it out there on my own. By the end, I just wanted to keep going. I do not think this will be my last tour. I hope it’s the first of many. Enjoy the posts and photos, and leave me any questions or comments that you have. I’ll make sure to get back to you. Maybe these can even help you on your tour. Just get out there and start pedaling. Everything will come together from there.

Blog Posts:
Test Run – Leo Carrillo State Beach
Day 1: LA to Oregon
Day 2: Oregon to Vancouver
Day 3: Downtown Vancouver & Stanley Park
Day 4: Vancouver Art Gallery & Burrard St. Bridge
Day 5: Vancouver to Victoria via Ferry
Day 6: Victoria & B.C. Day Celebrations
Day 7: Victoria’s China Town
Day 8: Back in the USA – Port Angeles
Day 9: Blow to Ego and Kitsap State Park
Day 10: Bainbridge Ferry to Seattle
Day 11: Downtown Seattle and Karaoke Bar
Day 12: The EMP and Drinks with Friends
Day 13: Seattle to Dash Point State Park
Day 14: Tacoma to Millersylvania State Park
Day 15: Detours and Lewis & Clark State Park
Day 16: Dodging Rain & a Travelodge in Longview
Day 17: Hello Portland, Oregon
Day 18: Walking, Talking, Food & More Food
Day 19: Drinking Deschutes on Volcanoes
Day 20: Goodbye Portland & Hello Porkchops
Day 21: Meeting Russ & Birdbath in Astoria
Day 22: Getting My Goonies on in Astoria
Day 23: Misty Cannon Beach to Barview Jetty
Day 24: New Friends in Devil’s Lake State Park
Day 25: Devil’s Lake to Beachside State Park
Day 26: Amazing Coastline to Umpqua Lighthouse
Day 27: Aunt Cindy Blocks My Game in North Bend
Day 28: Foggy Bandon to Humbug Mountain Sunset
Day 29: Oregon Coastline to Harris Beach
Day 30: Welcome to California’s Trees of Mystery
Day 31: Lost Aunt Cindy in Klamath
Day 32: Arcata to RiverWalk RV Campground
Day 33: Into the Avenue of Giants
Day 34: Tired Legs and New Friends
Day 35: Up and Over Leggett Mountain
Day 36: Lost Tom at Anchor Bay
Day 37: Apple Fritters and Zombie Rescue
Day 38: And Finally an Off Day in Petaluma
Day 39: Sonoma Valley Bicycle Wine Tasting
Day 40: Goodbye to the Hammock Guys
Day 41: Another Off Day with some Lagunitas
Day 42: Last Day with the McCoys
Day 43: Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge
Day 44: Exploring San Francisco and Twin Peaks
Day 45: Visiting Google and GitHub
Day 46: San Francisco to Half Moon Bay
Day 47: New Friend at New Brighton State Beach
Day 48: Jeepers Creepers – Veterans Memorial Park
Day 49: Through Carmel and into Big Sur
Day 50: Endless Stars, but no Water at Kirk Creek
Day 51: Big Climbs in Big Sur with the California Coastal Classic
Day 52: Encounter with Dom and Flat #2
Day 53: Big Push from Oceano to Refugio
Day 54: REI Tent Return & Santa Barbara Sunset
Day 55: Full Circle Back in the ‘Bu
Day 56: Easy Day on L.A. Beaches
Day 57: The Port of Los Angels & Down to Doheny
Day 58: Riding Through Camp Pendleton
Day 59: Hello La Jolla and San Diego
Day 60: Drinks on 5th & Planning for Mexico
Day 61: A Day of Recovery Before the Mexico Push
Day 62: The Finishline in MEXICO!
Day 63: Hitchhiking Waves in Ensenada
Day 64: Train Ride Home and My Reflections

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PCH Tour: Train Ride Home and My Reflections

Astoria-Megler Bridge


My final day on the tour we all jumped on the ABC bus in Ensenada and took it to the border. They didn’t give us any trouble with our bikes, and entering the States was easy enough. (They did check our passports unlike the Mexicans.) I told Liam and Michael goodbye and good luck with their flights home. We parted ways and I jumped on the trolly back to San Diego.

After grabbing my panniers from the hostel and racing to the train station, I jumped on the Pacific Surfliner with my bike, Trixie. It was a relaxing ride back to LA. I told my family about my excursion into Mexico. They were slightly upset, but amazed that I’d gone so far and that the adventure had come to an end. I hopped off the train in Van Nuys and pedaled the 6 miles to my door. I was home, but I wasn’t sure how long I’d be able to stay in one place. I was changed forever.

Since then I’ve had a little time to process this big adventure. When I started out I had no idea if I’d be able to pedal myself from Vancouver to my home in Los Angeles. I was not a cyclist. I had never done any longterm world traveling. I would be completely on my own. I figured it would be a great experiment in letting go and trusting that things would work out.

At the beginning I was full of anxiety. How would I get to Vancouver? What was staying in a hostel like? How would I find my way on the bike without a data plan in Canada? The questions were endless. But I just went and did it and hoped for the best. There were plenty of lonely nights on the road, and I had to relearn how to ride a bike with a full load over long distances. I even wrecked on my 3rd day of biking and bruised up my shoulder pretty well. It was tough, and there were many thoughts of quitting. Just rent a car and haul it back to Los Angeles.

But I couldn’t go back. I rented my apartment out to someone else. I told everyone I was going to do this. Day by day things got better. I got stronger physically and mentally. I started meeting amazing people. I biked with an awesome group of people halfway down the coast. And then I met more people. Once my fitness level caught up, I was able to enjoy the climbs. I could take in my surroundings, sing songs to myself or have thoughts about life and what would come after my adventure.

The biggest lesson I learned was that, for me at least, experience is more important than material objects. I knew this at some level, but living on $30 or less a day and sleeping in a tent made me realize that you don’t need much to live a full life. In fact, most of the stuff that we fill our homes with make it harder to have great experiences and tie us down to one location.

My move to Los Angeles two years ago has brought me into a poor financial situation. I knew I was heading there, but I was overly optimistic and blind to the expenses I was paying out every month for living and film related gear. This trip made me realize that this is not the way I want to continue living. I want to get rid of the debt I’ve taken on over the last two years, to save money to have more adventures like this one, and to have the time to work on projects that I really care about. I don’t want to spend my life as someone else’s cog, barely getting by financially, to maintain the illusion that I fit in with the rest of the crowd.

The big changes to come are to lower my expenses by moving. Either finding roommates in LA or moving back to Ohio for a time to regroup. Some lessons are only learned the hard way. But I never want to be in this financial situation again. Along with that, I want to put together a book about my adventure and it’s effects on me. I want to finish the documentary that I’ve been working on for 6 years. And I want to prepare for my next big adventure around the world. I’m so thankful for all of the people I’ve met and experiences I’ve had over the last 2 months. Everyone and every day taught me something new. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

My camera stopped working before I got to Mexico, so I did not get any fancy photos with my 7D. So here is a picture of the Astoria-Megler Bridge that connects Washington State to Oregon. I didn’t get to cross it on my particular journey, but I met a guy that was repainting it and many cyclists that went up and over it. It represents a turning point in my adventure, where days were long and tough and lonesome to days of amazing scenery and campsites full of new friends.

I’m fascinated by bridges. The way they connect places and float majestically over glistening bodies of water. I didn’t only make it back to Los Angeles, but I went even further than I imagined I could go. And with the push of some new friends, I found myself all the way in Ensenada, Mexico. This adventure has become a bridge from one chapter of my life to another. And I can’t wait for what is to come.

(Repost of my 2014 Pacific Coast Tour Instagrams)

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