This is a self improvement blog that is written by life coach Andrew Carlson. He mentors people in the Friends in Film program along with other people searching to find themselves. Make sure to subscribe for new posts, giveaways, and more!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

When Shit Hits The Fan - Throw Up A Lasso & Enjoy The Ride!

Over the past few months, I've had my fair share of trials and triumphs. The trials have definitely overpowered the triumphs and it has taken a toll on my happiness. Well, it was until I started reading a book called "The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself". I'm only on chapter five but it's opened my eyes to a new way of living. So when the shit hits the fan, I want you to try 5 things to step outside of yourself. 

1. Close your eyes and take a deep breath.

Deep breathing has the ability to create a tranquil state of being, cultivating a positive connection between the mind and body. When you have a positive connection between the mind & body, only then will you be able to look at things in a positive light. 

Stress and anxiety stimulate a nervous system called your Parasympathetic Nervous System, which causes spikes in cortisol & adrenaline. When stress & anxiety are prolonged, these neurotransmitters remain elevated, which can damage the body! Deep breathing slows the heart rate, expands the lungs and relaxes the muscles, signaling to the body that the time of fight or flight-triggering by the sympathetic nervous system - is over.
It's also important that if you want to lose weight, to de-stress your life. When the body is stressed, it will want to burn glycogen instead of fat, but when exercise causes deep breathing, the relaxation response is triggered that encourages the body to burn fat! 

It's VITAL to stop, close your eyes, take deep breaths, and step outside the situation.

2. Go on a walk.

Don't stop walking until you have cleared your mind! Walking is not only a way to de-stress, but it's also a good way to stay in shape! There is research reported in the British Journal of Sports Medicine that states walking 30 minutes a day boosted the moods in depressed patients faster than antidepressants! How can that be? Walking releases natural painkilling endorphins to the body - one of the emotional benefits of exercise. Studies done at CSU Long Beach showed that the more steps people take during the day, the better their moods were. 

[It also serves as meditation. Here's a video tutorial of how to start walking mediation by my dear friend Erica: and make sure to check out her blog at She's ben on a journey to lose weight and she's done an AMAZING job! Go check out her journey!]

3. Stop the inner chatter.

Have you ever tried to go to sleep but your mind is racing thousands of miles an hour rambling about nonsense? Everything that is on your mind that you are stressed about, anxious about, sad about, happy about; it all runs through your head while you lie awake screaming inside to shut up. The funny thing is, it never will until you realize who that voice actually is. It's your insecurity. 

How can we turn down or off our inner voice? I like to use a power phrase when things seem to not work in my favor. I like to say "I choose." Like it or not, life is not happening TO you - it's happening WITH you. We will never be without problems but we can choose how we respond to them. The bottom line? You call the shots. Reminding yourself of that can make it easier to choose happiness.

4. RELAX. 

Now that you have quieted your inner voice, RELAX! Take a trip to a comedy club, watch a romantic comedy or a comedy film, call a friend you haven't talked to in ages and catch up, go shopping, do anything that relaxes you!

5. Think through the event that happened.

All you have to do is take a step back when shit hits the fan. Let's say that you lost your job. There's rent to pay, food to buy, new clothing lines that are coming out with the PERFECT style, and everything seems to be falling apart around you. What should you do? Stop, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, go on a walk if you need to clear your mind, and list 10 things you are grateful to have RIGHT NOW in your life. The sun could be shining. You still have all of your senses! You still have a roof over your head. There are clothes in your closet. CLEAN running water. etc! 

After making the list, then you can think clearly. It's time to change the way you react to things. Life is going to be full of experiences, the important part is how you react to them. There's always 2 sides to a story. It's what story you are choosing to believe.  

What good can come out of losing your job? Let me tell you. You find other things to focus your energy on. I thought my world was going to end because I was working in the film industry and I lost my job. I was doing freelance work until I was deemed disabled and unfit to do production assistant/coordinator work. I was very upset since it's such a competitive field but I did everything I listed here and say opportunity. I'm now focusing my energy on my writing! I have been employed by a website to blog 4-8 stories a day! On top of that, I have started 2 blogs that I update religiously. I can work anywhere, I can travel in the near future without worrying about saving up for the period of missed work/missed wages, and I can make my own schedule! 

I tied a lasso to the fan and I'm on the ride right now. Life isn't about HOW to get from point A to point B. It's about the journey that we are on. Your dreams will come true. I can tell you that for a fact. I just can't tell you HOW it's going to manifest. That's for The Universe to figure out with you. I never would have thought I was good enough to get paid to write, but I am!

Want to know my overall dream? To get paid to work where ever I wanted to and have time to travel. That was my dream. Of course I want to produce films as well but I focused on working from home since I was out of work. It manifested and I'm on top of the world. It all works out in the end. If it doesn't, it's clearly not the end.

Go chase your dreams. Enjoy your journey. Believe.

Light, Love, and Blessings!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Dealing With Change (Keeping Faith)

Today is Wednesday; December 5th, 2012. It's my first full day out of the hospital. I have been put on beta blockers, a Medtronic Reveal XT Insertable Cardiac Monitor has been installed in my chest, and I'm emotionally drained. It all started with a routine check up at Cedars-Sinai when they suggested I wear an event monitor in October. They caught signs of a fatal heart rhythm (Ventricular Tachycardia) and informed me that I was going to have to have the same surgery (an ablation) I had at 16 years old.

Fast forward to Monday the 3rd. It was a routine surgery where I thought that all was going to be alright and I was going to be able to go back to work come the beginning of the new year. That evening, I had a friend come visit me as well as my mentor and her husband. While my mentor was there, my heart decided to go into all sorts of weird rhythms. (They had decided not to implant a monitor inside my chest after the ablation because they couldn't induce VT.) Since VT was a rhythm they caught twice, both 12 seconds long, they thought it would be better to implant the device in my chest.

They had to squeeze my operation in on the 4th for this loop monitor and I was rushed out of the hospital. I thought it was strange because there was no discharge paperwork, we had to go back to Cedars to have the doctor call into the pharmacy, and then figure out why they didn't order a generic brand of Vicodin like they said they were going to. So my discharge experience wasn't the greatest. They just gave my girlfriend the Medtronic box that the monitor came in but that's all the information we got. So Cedars really dropped the ball there but both incisions are very clean and the staff was superb.

The medication is making me a little tired but I'm sick of laying around on a bed so I'm out and about today. I was at the park with M just talking about life. I have slight groin pain since that's the incision areas where they went through for the ablation. The chest pain I have is unlike anything I've felt before. I know it will pass but every time I laugh, cough, sneeze, etc. I cringe from pain. In a week I will be fine and the incision will turn into a scar. I have to carry around the recording device with me at all times in case I need to record an episode. It's a major change to my life.

This blog isn't about me. The intention of this blog is about change. It's about holding onto faith that everything will work out in the end and everything will be beautiful. If it's not, then it's not the end. Most people do not like change. They get worried about starting a new job because it's different. They worry about moving (especially to a different state/city) because it's different. Most break ups are postponed because people have to deal with change. As humans, we don't deal well with change because we are used to a certain routine and if something messes that up, we get scared. It's change.

[I had to cut caffeine out of my life 5 months ago to see if caffeine was affecting my heart rhythms. It wasn't but it's a health choice I decided to make anyway. On occasion I will have a real coffee instead of decaf but I feel instantly better in the mornings when I don't need caffeine.]

I thought I was going to pull through without having anything implanted since I woke up and the doctor seemed sure I didn't need a loop monitor or a defibrillator. Turns out things can change at the flip of a coin and that's scary. Life happens. Things change. That doesn't mean that life is hard. I could have been in the mindset that "life sucks" or "why is this happening to me" and trust me, that's where I wanted to resort to. But I am finding this to be more of a blessing than a curse. There are always two sides to a coin. Two sides to a story. Two sides to how to react to something.

I am truly blessed that there is this kind of technology out there to keep me healthy. I am now part robot (Sorry ladies, I'm already spoken for but being part robot is sexy. I'm just glad I didn't end up getting the Austrian accent that happened in The Terminator. My accent is more of an "Oh sure, you betcha" kind of mess.) I am filled with so much gratitude that my surgery was successful. That the incisions are clean and small. That I'm able to still be alive without being in pain. The only downside is that I had my license suspended and deemed ineligible to work. The upside to that is I'm going to be able to focus on my writing, websites, and other ventures I want to focus on. The doctor predicts I won't be able to go back to doing production assistant work until summer of 2013 at the EARLIEST.

All I'm telling you is that I want you to keep the faith during times of struggle. It may seem like the darkness is consuming your life and that everything is going wrong. As long as you continue to press on towards your dreams, life has a funny way of working everything out for you. You can't just say you are keeping the faith, you have to truly believe that everything will work out. Blind faith to be exact. I've held onto the faith since I was 18 years old. That got me positions in Florida, New Orleans, Los Angeles, etc. I didn't know where I was going to stay in any of the places but it always worked out and I was always able to thrive in those areas.

Change is scary. Change isn't always fun. But always remember that there is always a shed of light beaming down as long as you believe. You may not be able to see it but as long as you keep searching, it will be there. The Universe always provides for those who believe. If you only walk on the sunny days, you'll never get to your destination.

Light, Love, and Blessings!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Life Is Short: 20 Seconds of Courage

So as you all know, I had a heart surgery coming up. Today is that day and I feel content with whatever outcome I wake up to find. There are three different outcomes that are happening. Either option, I'm going to have to have some kind of monitoring device implanted into my chest (3 year event monitor or a defibrillator). Of course if I need to get an ICD implanted it wouldn't be today. I will be more relieved if I have something implanted in my chest when I wake up because that means I'm golden for 3 more years. I despise surgeries and I definitely am not too fond of this one because it's the same procedure I had in 2007 but I had my parents there by my side. Luckily, I have my wonderful girlfriend and my mentor who will be there through it all since my parents can't be in California.

So this surgery got me thinking about my life. Where I have been, how far I have come, and where I still want to be. I think we get so caught up in this world and the "now" consumes us. At least the now we think of. I'm not talking about the "now" that I should be focusing on. Right now, I'm laying in bed next to the love of my life while she's sleeping since we have to wake up in 5 hours to go to the hospital. We have Christmas colored lights strung along the ceiling while our cat Bella lays on my feet. There's nothing else I'd rather be doing.

The "now" I'm referring to is the day to day life we live. Where stress builds up, the money issues are still here, my heart feels like it's going to jump out of my chest. These are just to name a few but it becomes a draining thing to have running around in your mind day after day. I couldn't find a "day" job since I didn't know what this surgery would bring and what restrictions I would have. Anyway.

We don't take enough time to look back at the accomplishments we have achieved. We need to take 10-20 seconds at the end of the week and look at what we've accomplished. I need to remind myself of that a lot more than I do. Going into surgery tomorrow not knowing if I'm going to wake up is a scary thing. We don't ever know if we are going to wake up to a new day but we are always hoping we will. Most expect to wake up day after day after day. Maybe it's intensified because someone is putting me to sleep with chemicals but I know that I'll be okay. I'll wake up and will discuss what the next steps are going to be (if there needs to be any).

Just in case you need a reminder: Look back at where you came from. Look back at how much you've changed since high school, since college, since your 20's, 30's, etc! We, as humans, are always going to be changing. Especially if we take the time to focus on ourselves and change ourselves for the better. Read a self improvement book, take a class, read positive stories, etc. Find out what your passion is if you aren't doing something you are passionate about!

While I was watching the movie, "We Bought A Zoo", there was some very good advice that I want to pass onto you. In life, there are going to be trials the closer you get to achieving something amazing. People are going to voice their opinions if you tell others what you want to do but you have to listen to yourself. So what if the success rate of your chosen profession is only 1%. Do it. So many actors move out to LA daily to chase after a dream. Most will give up when it gets hard but that's why you have to do something you're passionate about. That will be your fuel for when the going gets tough.

Want to know the greatest part? All you need every day is 20 seconds of courage. That's ALL you need during a tough decision. I promise you, your life will change for the better in those 20 seconds. Need an example? I'll give you multiple examples of how 20 seconds of courage changed my life. In 2010, it only took 20 seconds to book a plane ticket to Los Angeles. I ended up on that plane. It also took a whole month before I had to make the decision to go back home to Minnesota but it changed my life forever. I KNEW that's where I wanted to be in a decision that only took 20 seconds. It only took 20 seconds to call my buddy up to see how he was doing and after a 30 minute phone call, we made the decision to move to New Orleans. I THRIVED in New Orleans and so did he! Want one more? It only took 20 seconds to kiss M that changed my life forever. I now live with her in a beautiful apartment in Pasadena, CA. (It took 20 seconds because I was TERRIFIED that someone so beautiful and warm could ever look my way.) But I did it and my life was forever changed.

20 seconds. That's all you need. Working at a job that sucks the life out of you? No, I'm not telling you to quit it but start doing something you are passionate about on the side! Love cooking? Make a cook book or start a cooking blog! Take photos of the meals you prepare for yourself, for your family, or even your roommates. The easiest thing you could do is start a blog or write a book. That will keep your mind occupied with things you love. You can blog about anything which is why I write motivational/inspirational blogs. I do it because I love to do it and I'm going to continuously do it whether people read it or not because I'm passionate about it. I'm going to write about my travels when I get the opportunity to travel because I want to share my experiences with the world!

Life is short. It's not meant to be lived on the sidelines wondering "what if...". I'll be honest, I find myself complaining about where I am because I have crazy big dreams. I'm not where I see myself in my mind but that's okay. Life isn't about the destination. Life is about the journey. Who you meet, what you see, what you learn, etc. Once you die, you are dead. You don't get to take any possessions with you. So when people look back at their life and see that you crossed paths with them, what do you want them to think of you? Will they think that you lived life to the very best of your abilities? Or will they remember those talks about how you wish you could have done something but never ended up doing?

Again, I will repeat: Life is short. You don't know when your time will come. You don't know when you lay down to sleep if you'll be getting up in the morning. You don't know if you'll be in a car crash while you're on the road. The list goes on and on. Take time out of your daily routine to REALLY be grateful for what you have right now. Not the "now" that's cluttered with thoughts of stress, money issues, etc. But right now, after reading this. What are you truly grateful for. Think of 10 things you are truly grateful for. Only 10. Do it daily. There's so much to be grateful for and if you take time as soon as you wake up for 10 things you are grateful for, your day will go much smoother. Stub your toe? Be grateful for your nervous system that tells you when things are painful. Be grateful you still have that toe. Before you fall asleep, think of the best thing that happened to you today. You'll sleep much more soundly.

Life is for the living. Please don't just exist. Pursue your passions. Don't wait until it's too late.

Light, Love, and Blessings!