Daily Prompt, Mighty, The Daily Post, Wordpress

Daily Post challenge: Mighty

“Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.” -Theodore Roosevelt


When I think mighty, I think this. Some people spend their entire lives never taking risks. Playing it safe, convincing themselves they’ve lived a good life when in reality they have not. That might sound harsh, but it’s the truth.

We all want to be remembered but to be remembered requires work. People spend their whole lives climbing a ladder only to realize the ladder was leaning against the wrong wall (thanks Steven Covey!). If you ask someone they will say this is not them, that they are happy. And occasionally they’ll remember that dream they had as a child, quickly burying it, saying it was nothing more than a dream. But when do missed dreams start becoming regret? Well, the instant you starting saying a dream isn’t worth pursuing.

We create our own barriers and a lot of our pain is self inflicted. We spend too much time worrying, afraid of an always uncertain future. We live anywhere but in the present moment. We are afraid that we’ll go through life unloved and the people we thought were closest, couldn’t be furthest. In the conquest of life, we don’t think of battles won, we fear of wars lost.

To be mighty, is to be strong. It is easier to keep your head down, to curl up into a ball and close your eyes. But to truly live… One must reach and fall short, not once, but many times. There’s a reason we dream of heroes, it’s a shame we can never truly see ourselves as one.

If you’re afraid, simply start. I’d rather look back at my life and say “at least I tried.” then to ask “what exactly have I done?”. Life is an adventure and should be celebrated. So go out and be mighty, as there is no time like the present… Be the hero of your own story.

Birthday, Musing, personal, reflection

Little moments: Shared Birthdays

So as my blog expands and grows, I’d like to start doing more organized series. For the last month I’ve currently been brainstorming interesting topics that can continue indefinitely. With that, I’m proud to present, “little moments”, my attempt at capturing those moments that are all too fleeting.

Today is my birthday and it got me thinking, what is it that makes birthdays so great? Personally, the older I get, the less the allure presents have on me. Gifts are just objects and the best gifts are the ones that create memories. This is part one of this post. The simple act of sharing your birthday with others. To make plans and spend your time with good company. A few years ago my roommates baked me a cake and I almost cried at the thought of it. It was the best birthday I ever had and it was the kick-off to one of the best years of my life. Come last year my birthday was spent in Switzerland and that was an absolute blast. Little did I know the girls I went on the trip with would become good friends and my travel buddies for my time abroad.

Now come this year. My birthday has snuck up on me. I’m back in Portland for the first time in 5 years. Corvallis, Oregon has been my home, then Mosbach, Germany. It has been a long time since I’ve called Portland home. Most of my friends are in college or 8000km (about 5000 miles) away and spread across the globe. It’s hard to keep connected. As much as I’d love to say I’ll keep in touch with everyone, it simply isn’t practical. Life is full of tough choices.

So as you can imagine, I was a little nervous come today. While I don’t mind being alone, life is better in good company. And I was shocked that last week, at simply the mention of my birthday, my friends without hesitation were willing to drop what they’re doing to help celebrate my birthday with me. And as I imagine, this will be my best birthday yet.


Now, part two. Part two is simply sharing the same birthday with another human being; it’s a weird sensation. It is something you never really think about. Most of the time we are so focused on our big day that we simply forget about other people.

When I was in Germany there was another student who had the same birthday as me. The class sang happy birthday not to one, but two people. That’s awesome! When you think about the odds of having the same birthday as someone and actually meeting that person and becoming friends with them, it’s rare. As such, it should be something special. Now I’m on a mission to find someone who was born in 1993 and on September 16th because why not? Regardless, the point is, there is an instant connection when someone has the same birthday as you! Some people suck at finding ice breakers. Well guess what? This is an instant icebreaker! It’s fun.


Birthdays are meant to be shared in the company of others. Everyone deserves to be wished a happy birthday. Birthdays are a time to catch up, reminisce, and plan for the future. Some people dredge getting older but I say bring it on! I am 24 years old today and the 5 year plan I set when I was 20 is almost in need of an update. Time flies, so on this special day, I’d like to thank everyone who’s made my life a little brighter. Especially you, my followers. Blogging has been my passion for years but it wouldn’t be possible without your support. Every like, every follow, every comment has put a smile on my face and made me realize we are never truly alone, we just need to know where to look.

Eclipse, reflection, Space

If the sun disappeared only for a moment…

“The Universe is under no obligation to make sense to you.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

I find it funny how despite my blog having a space theme, I’ve never actually once talked about space. I haven’t even alluded to why I chose the name “To the Moon” other than a brief paragraph.

Last week was the solar eclipse. I would say the “Great American Eclipse” yet the stars aren’t something that can be owned. When we look up at the sky, we are looking into the past and in a sense, our future. The universe is filled with possibility and is beautifully chaotic.

When we think of the universe, we think of a painted canvas, a sort of cosmic gallery of beauty. At least, that’s what we’d like to see. Every time I look up I see darkness, with only the brightest stars shining; only once have I seen the universe in it’s full majesty.

And I never have forgotten that moment, out in the mountains, away from the city lights. And instead of seeing darkness, I saw the most beautiful hues of blue as I saw our galaxy for the first time. Not darkness, but as a river in the sky, weaving itself into a tapestry of twinkling stars. And perhaps this is the first time I realized the world was bigger than just Portland, Oregon. That I was nothing more than a speck on the cosmic scale.

Perhaps this is what first inspired my Wanderlust and taught me to dream, back when I said I wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up or better yet, a space traveler, time lord; a time when the sky was the limit and when a dream was never too big. I’ve been searching my whole life to recreate that moment, camping out all night in a field, freezing but more connected than I had ever been…

In college I was always busy and a lot of the time I would walk back home late at night. There’s something serene about looking up at the night sky and wishing… To look up and realize that whatever is going on in your life right now, “life goes on”.

So come last week, I was excited. I live on a glorified hill in the city and it’s a few minutes walk to the top. And I watched. From beginning to end, I watched. And a curious question popped into my head as the moon passed, “How little sun we need to survive”. Even at a sliver before totality, it was light and I was warm. Then I watched as the sun “set” all around, the intense shadows before an infinite sunset. I felt the temperature drop as day became twilight and then back to day.

Nature is beautiful and it’s a tragedy that we’ve fallen out of touch with the beauty of the world, let alone the universe. Some spend their entire lives in boxes and don’t even realize they’re in prison. People came together for a brief moment and it’s a shame that like the eclipse, it was but a fleeting moment. I put my faith in the stars; call me a dreamer, but when you look to the stars, tomorrow has already happened, it just depends on where you’re standing…


Thanks for reading! If you’re wondering where I get all my cool space photos, they’re from the NASA home page. The photos are on the public domain, which makes acquiring them hassle and worry free as the copyright doesn’t exist or has expired. Anyways, did you see the eclipse? Want to talk about the mysteries of the universe? Feel free to comment below!

Book Review, Books, Recommendation, Review

Great Gatsby: Worth a read?

The Great Gatsby. The book most read in primary school. Did I read it then? I actually can’t remember. But I’ve read it now. And what did I think? Well… Let’s first talk about what it is.

The narration is from the perspective of Nick, a classy, honest dude who moved East to New York. The book is set in the 1920’s or better known as the roaring 20’s in the US and at it’s heart sets up a great mystery. Early in the story Nick meets his neighbor Jay Gatsby, a mysterious individual who perplexes the relatively reserved Nick. Gatsby is a man who has extravagant parties and has a taste for the finer things in life.

As the book progresses, we learn more about Gatsby and his past, uncovering the mystery of why he’s called “The Great Gatsby”. Woven into the plot is a tale of unrequited love and really goes to show that it’s about the journey, not the destination.

Why you should read

The book is beautifully written. When you read the book, it’s as though you’re in the 20’s and right there alongside Nick. The book has plenty of twists and leaves you questioning if what you’re told is the actual truth. The book steadily ramps up and the climax does not disappoint when you finally reach page 180. The writing is easy to follow and it makes for a quick, enjoyable read.

My recommendation?

I give “The Great Gatsby” 4 out of 5 stars. While not perfect, it comes close. It’s a great book and certainly worth your time.


Thanks for reading! The next book on my list is “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho, which I’ve only heard great things about. Already read “The Great Gatsby”? Feel free to discuss in the comments below, just be wary to avoid spoilers when you post.

 

Advice, Meditation, Self Improvement

9 months of meditation: Has it been worth it?

The short answer, yes. The long answer, also yes, but longer. So full disclaimer; as much as i’d like to say I’ve meditated every day as I set out to do, I haven’t. In my defense however, progress is not a straight line. When you attempt a new habit, you will have your ups and downs but the idea is to stick with it until you set a new bar for yourself. without further ado let’s start with the most important question.

Why Meditate?

Let me set the scene. I had just come back from Germany, awaiting my kingdom upon my triumph return home. I had my head held high and was ready to seize the world. But as life would have it, my kingdom had turned to ash. My hero’s welcome was using all my available energy to put out fires and keep ships from sinking. In the first time in years, my journal failed me. You know things are bad when Mike Cole is carrying around a stress-ball at every waking moment. All my systems were collapsing and even my books couldn’t save me this time around. But if you know me, I carry on to the bitter end. So I rebuilt my old systems.

I started with 5 minutes a day and went from there. It was hard at first but got easier over time. When I was able to do 5 minutes on a consistent basis, I bumped it to 10, which I think is the perfect amount. But once again, why would you want to meditate? Couldn’t those precious minutes be put towards something more valuable? Well…

Imagine you have anxiety. Scratch that, don’t imagine; everyone has anxiety. What if I told you your deepest fears could melt away and that your clouded mind could become clear? Well, that’s meditation in a nutshell. The hard part is sitting down and making it a priority. As I’ve deemed it, meditation is kind of like hitting the reset button. Done right, it’ll clear the clutter and allow you to focus. Meditation in the morning can set your day up for success.

What is meditation?

Before I started, I looked up different techniques online. I couldn’t find a proper explanation and this frustrated me. Some people go to the extreme for meditation and when they try to explain the experience, it comes off as gibberish. If you look up mindfulness, you’ll get close but still it reads more like a self-help book more than anything else. So what I did, is simply combine the pieces I liked and then simply started meditating. After a few times, I got a feel for the experience and refined it to what is a mix between the spiritual and the mindfulness techniques your friendly neighborhood psychologist would tell you about.

My Techniques

So the idea behind meditation is not necessarily letting go of the negative thoughts inside your head but rather acknowledging them and moving forward. What most don’t realize however, is meditation is not simply an emptying of the mind, it’s a process of clarifying thoughts, much in the way we feel refreshed after sleeping. A good thought can branch out much like a tree and instead of trying to focus on nothingness, simply follow the thought and the thoughts thereafter. Think of yourself as a leaf flowing down a river, perhaps imagine a gentle breeze with branches gently swaying in the wind. A leaf in a river simply is and does not work against the current.

That’s only the first half. The second half is focusing on your body. It can be as simple as breathing to start but eventually you’ll want to focus on nerves. Find the tension in your body and simply be aware, massage, wiggle your fingers, pay attention to dexterity, etc. If you’re uncomfortable, adjust yourself. Listen to the wind blow, the sound of your breath, the gentle trickle of water from a fountain.

There are few ways to do meditation wrong. However, if you want more guidance, here’s a few suggestions. Buy a sleeping mask. If you find yourself reaching for your phone, this will prevent that. It will also block out light and should you open your eyes you will simply see darkness. If you have raw emotion and simply can’t get comfortable, let your meditation posture reflect that. Try leaving one hand open and clenching a fist. The open hand should relax and the clenched fist should control. Over time you’ll most likely end up with both hands open, pressed together in the center.

If you’re looking for a spiritual aspect to meditation but don’t want to turn into a monk, try going into meditation as your time to connect with nature. Sit outside under a tree or leave a window open. Simply learn to appreciate the present moment.


Thanks for reading! It’s been a while since I’ve done a self-improvement article and it feels great. I hope you find the advice helpful and feel free to share and comment below. If you have your own technique or a personal story, I’d love to hear it!

reflection, Travel

The life of a Traveler

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust


As I currently plan out my future from now till my death bed, I thought it would be fun to talk a little about travel. A year ago come August, I left for my study abroad experience in Germany. I forced myself to go. College was a time for stepping outside of my comfort soon and becoming the person I always wanted to be.

As it currently stands and as I will say many times, I am making my way North. Portland is a fantastic city and I could live a happy life here but it would not be a fulfilling one. I would wake up one day and ask myself, “is this what childhood Mike would’ve wanted?” The answer would be no. The kid who would dress up in a suit with a clip-on tie for school photos, the kid who, when asked what he wanted to be when he grew up would reply, “successful.”  It would be a dis-service to every dream I’ve ever had and dreams yet dreamt.  Call it cabin fever, call it wanderlust but the world is meant to be explored.

Life is not measured in the things we own but rather the experiences we have. And as it would come to argue, it is much easier to create new experiences when you’re on the move.

I lived 5 years in Corvallis, Oregon for College so Portland is a nice change. Yet imagine Seattle. Then Vancouver, Canada, then Quebec. Spend a few years in France, then Germany, Austria? That’s the life people envy.

And perhaps we can broaden our definition of traveler. Why limit it to the scope of a geographic location? The reason I love travel is the immersion. I’ve always wondered what it’s like to see the world through someone else’s eyes and am sure many have felt the same, if only for a fleeting moment.

If you’re in Germany, you drink beer. France, you drink wine, smoke slim cigarettes and eat snail. Jokes aside, there is a reason I still practice German. There’s a reason I started learning French. It’s a connection through language.

There’s literally no point in staying put. Take a good friend of mine for example. He majored in chemistry and minored in dance. Guess which degree he uses the most? Dance. I envy him. That’s fulfilling. To go against the tide of others expectations and do what you love. Some spend a lifetime searching and even then…

I think we could all use a little more dance in our life. I’m not talking about black-out drunk, making questionable life choices dancing. I’m talking about something a little more elegant, a waltz. Or perhaps a tango, cha-cha, etc. A little spice, a little fire. Travel fulfills. No one became great from staying exactly who they were. They might become good enough, but does that really sound like a life worth living?

So go travel. Start with a country and then evolve. Through a dart at a map and buy a one way plane ticket. Terrified of a country? Pick a city, a town, a new friend. Start somewhere. Who knows, life might just surprise you.


Thanks for reading! If you like what I write, be sure to follow and tell your friends. Feel free to comment below. Talk about travel, bestow wisdom, anything.

Musing, Tips and Tricks

The rule of simple

Over the course of 5 years at Oregon State University, I developed the rule of simple. It’s the idea that you can boil down most ideas, most tasks, to their core essence. That is, the main meaning. It revolves around the idea of asking the question “why” as often as you can and “beginning with the end in mind” taken straight from Stephen Covey’s 7 habits. Once I embraced this mindset, all else became, for lack of a better word, simpler.

What is the rule?

The rule, as mentioned above, is simple. If you find yourself becoming frustrated with a task, simply ask why you’re doing the task and what you want to get out of that task. That’s step 1. You then write down two to three main objectives (step 2). Once you ask the why, you then simply ask the how. And from the two to three bullet points (main objectives) you made, you can write two to three (or more, even less, it really doesn’t matter so long as you have a base) quantitative ideas for each of the three objectives. That’s step 3 and then you’re done.

Does it work?

Yes. Take my blog for example, I use the rule of simple for writing. I’ve always struggled with focus and for me, this was the missing piece of the puzzle. If I find myself becoming overwhelmed, this is what I fall back on. It has not failed me yet. Sometimes less is more. If I go on a date, I can use the rule of simple. Step 1 in that situation is understand the other person, so I start the date with listening. Step 2 involves relating my interests to hers. Questions like, “what makes me interesting?” (humor, intelligence, openness). From there I can talk about speaking German, how I got kicked out of Oktoberfest, etc. (step 3). As you can imagine, the rule of simple works because it forces you to focus.

Why use the rule?

I will say this about the rule; it does not make the world any less complicated. So what does it do? It creates a filter. The appeal of the rule is that, depending on the situation, you may not have to use all the steps. If I say “love yourself”, that doesn’t always need a why. If people ask, I can go through the steps. I can have a thousand different simple rules and use them at a moments notice. The rule “two people can both be right” has served me well or “smile more”. Easy, simple, and you’d be amazed with how much they accomplish. Instead of being paralyzed with how big the world is, now you have a way to simplify it.


Thanks for reading! I have a lot of great ideas for upcoming posts. If you have any topics you’d like me to cover, just let me know! I’ve spent 5 years studying business and the Human Psyche. My topics are meant to inform and spark the creative bug, so if you have a question that needs an answer, I can try my best! Feel free to comment and share!