Life

Your Problems Aren’t Going Away & Neither Are Mine

Life is full of problems. Money problems. Work problems. Relationship problems. Family problems. Health problems. They seem to plague every area of life.

Unfortunately, a lot of us, myself included, often fall prey to the idea that if we could just solve or get rid of some specific problem then life would finally be great.

Here are some of my personal favorites:

“Once I get this deal done at work then I can finally live life & have some fun.”

“Once I become a multi-millionaire then I’ll be successful.”

"Once I become Financially Independent then I'll truly be free."

“Once I fix this part of my relationship then we will be truly happy.”

"Once I achieve this body fat percentage then I'll finally love & accept my body."

[Insert your problems/obstacles here.]

And this list goes on FOREVER. It never fucking stops.

The problem with this line of thinking is that it robs us of the inherent joy available within the process of overcoming obstacles.

We often get so focused on how not having something or how some specific problem is ruining our life. We delude ourselves with the notion that once we fix it everything will be better.

Life does not work that way.

Once you solve one problem it gets replaced by another problem.

You see, problems really are just opportunities in disguise. And each problem is an opportunity to heal, grow & transform.

This is what life is about—it’s one big game of healing, growing and transforming.

And life is so much fucking fun when you realize that it is the greatest game any of us will ever get to play!

Like you, I am human and I often forget to have fun with all the problems (opportunities) that come up. However, I do my best to regularly remind myself to be a Life Alchemist. Heck, one of the reasons I am writing this post is crystalize this into my consciousness and so that I can come back to reread this when I do mentally fall astray from the empowering mindset.

So what do I mean by “Be a Life Alchemist?” To me, this is philosophy of living that includes the belief that anything & everything is something that can be used to alchemize (transform) life for the better if we choose to approach it with the right mindset.

In the legends Alchemists were revered for their ability to turn lead into gold. They could take a seemingly valueless or low value material that no one wanted and through the seemingly magical process of combination and creation, transform it something wildly valuable.

A Life Alchemist takes the lead of life and uses it to transform situations & scenarios into pure gold. Through this magical process the lead of life ultimately becomes the most valuable experiences of life.

With this mindset I go from being reactive & playing victim to actively seeking out the way in which to use the problem or situation to heal, grow & transform my life. And I choose to approach this with a fun & magical attitude because being a Life Alchemist is virtually the same as being a Wizard—both are masters of all the elements of life.

The problem hasn’t changed, but my mindset has and that makes all the difference.

When I look back on my life all the best things that have happened to me have come about because of fucked up seemingly terrible things. Here’s a short list:

  1. Getting beat up by my older brother during childhood.

  2. Getting denied by Stanford on the first try (this was a goal/dream I had since 3rd grade and it directed everything I did).

  3. Dropping out of Stanford w/ two quarters to go.

  4. Leaving a very successful career in Hollywood nightlife.

  5. Getting 6 years behind on my taxes & accumulating $40K worth of debt.

Though all of these seriously sucked at the time that they happened or during the initial period they were the crucible I broke myself against so I could build myself back even stronger & better while discovering deeper levels of my self & my purpose in life. They were the lead of life that I refined until I found the precious value hidden within. If it weren’t for these experiences I would be a radically less evolved human being and I wouldn’t have the amazing life I have today. Here’s just a few of the hugely positive aspects of solving each one of these problems:

  1. I got strong. Very strong. And I learned to choose another path.

  2. I learned to pick myself back up after a major defeat and try again (I got into Stanford on the second try).

  3. I learned that it’s never too late to go back & complete something important.

  4. I learned that when you leave a toxic environment, trust the Universe & open yourself to new opportunity amazing things you could have never predicted can & will happen—like becoming a founding team member of a wellness/technology Stanford Startup.

  5. I learned that you can turn great weakness or failure into great strength. It was because of this challenge that I discovered Financial Independence and only have a couple more years to go before all paid work becomes optional.

Even now I am working through a super tough “problem”—my family’s money/wealth paradigm. I won’t go into details. I’ll spare my family from sharing too openly, but I can share that it brings up massive fear in me and other members of my family with whom I’m working through it with.

As we are working through this problem we often get triggered, emotional, angry, sad, depressed and the whole gamut of darker emotions. It isn’t easy.

Oftentimes it’s so scary for me personally and I have so many mental/emotions blockages around it that I get a headache and my body gets all clammy.

But I keep at it, knowing that the only way is through the darkness. Deep down I know we must mine the darkness for the gold. And through the painful effort we’ve already made massive progress.

I’m choosing to use this current familial money-problem (challenge/opportunity) to be a champion for my family’s wealth & to lead myself & others to the next level of life.

In the end I know it will definitely be worth it just to see what kind of healing, growth & transformation happens for all of the family members who choose to face & embrace the fear and work through it together. Through this work we are healing family money/wealth backwards & forward through the family line—that’s ultra powerful!

During this experience I also do my best to keep looking at it from a Macrocosmic View. Despite the problem in this area, LIFE IS STILL FUCKING GREAT! It’s just one part that needs some alchemizing and it doesn’t take away from all the other awesomeness in my life. In fact, through contrast, it allows me recognize just how damn good I have it in so many other areas of life. And in truth, even this problem is totally an awesome exciting adventure that I’m privileged to take with my family.

And let’s keep it super real—as soon as I solve this problem the Universe is just going to give me another more challenging one so I may as well do my best to enjoy the never ending problem solving process of life because it is literally the substance of what life is made up of! We can try to run & hide from it or deny it, but problems and challenges are a part of the daily fabric of all our lives.

Knowing that the lead will be served up in our lives with regularity I firmly believe we all can take the Life Alchemist approach if we choose to. However, we must consciously & proactively choose to be the Life Alchemist. It won’t just happen by default. Resignation & cynicism is the adult default, just look around.

When we do take this Life Alchemist approach each obstacle we face in the game of life is an opportunity to level up. We can have massive amounts of fun, experience joy, & be exhilarated when we recognize the current problem is the Adventure! It is the current Golden Opportunity the Universe is serving up to us!

So will you embrace your current problems (aka Gifts of the Universe) & use them to move to the next level AND recognize the joy of the process of solving the problem, challenge, riddle, or opportunity?

Or will you play the victim? Or hide? Or run?

The choice is always yours (and mine).

Are we playing full out at the game of life?

Are we leveling up?

Are we embracing the challenge and having fun on the adventure?

Or are we getting played by life?

I choose to take 100% responsibility, have massive fun on the journey, play full out, & keep leveling up! By making this choice my problems become my life’s greatest adventures, the truly precious gifts, and I get to enjoy life right now instead of waiting in perpetuity to solve all my problems—which will never happen because our problems are never going away remember?

What will you choose the next time you are faced with one of life’s problem?

What mindset will you approach it with?

What will your experience be?

Whatever you choose, know that the choice is always yours. And know that you can always make a new choice. Today. Right now.

Your favorite Life Alchemist,

Justin David Carl

P.S. Here are some resources that have helped me cultivate the Life Alchemist mindset:




Always lots of daily/weekly empowering content on my Instagram:






FOMO & Is The Grass Really Greener On The Other Side?

The grass is greener on the other side. What a bunch of crap! The grass is greener where you water it.

For most of my life, I suffered from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) & the grass is greener on the other side complex (or GIGOTOS as I like to call it).

When I was working in Hollywood Nightlife I always thought I should be doing something else even though I was having fun, building career capital & making great money.

In the first couple of years at Oh My Green I had plenty of thoughts of “This is too hard. There is too much stress & anxiety. Life would be better at another company.”

Fortunately, over the last few years, I’ve learned from serious in-depth life study, several mental/physical concepts, techniques habits & transformative processes that have empowered me to embrace my actual life, right here, right now, in the present.

These formative practices include daily meditation, getting good sleep, practicing stoicism, developing grit & anti-fragility, Vision Quests & Physical Quests (Gran Fondo, Spartan Beast), yoga, participating in transformational workshops & coaching (Landmark, Couples Coaching), & reading some great books & blogs as well listening to podcasts that have alchemized the way I think about work, money, relationships & life in general.

Sticking around at Oh My Green and using the constant challenges to forge myself anew again and again has been one of the best decisions & practices of my life. The obstacle is the way. And the challenges don’t get easier or go away. Just like you don’t get rid of your problems. You just get better problems (aka opportunities) to work on that will push & empower you to the next level of your life.

The only thing you are missing out on when you are focused on something that is out there is your own wild & wonderful life.

So if you think the grass is greener on the other side & are experiencing FOMO... WAKE THE FUCK UP!

Your life is happening right now in this very moment.

Everything you need to live a life worth living for is contained within you. The work you are doing, the relationship you are in, the experiences/situations you are in & the body you inhabit are the very things that you can use to create a life truly worth living for.

Your life is the biggest gift you will ever be given and to tap into it you need to focus on the present. Realize the future, the past, and some other person, place or thing outside of yourself and your life is an illusion meant to distract you from receiving the gift of the present. There is a very important reason it’s called the PRESENT—it is the gift of all gifts!

Ignore the noise & take 100% responsibility for all aspects of your life & take massive action. By doing this you will realize just how much personal power you have & just how awesome your life is.

To reiterate, the key is taking RESPONSIBILITY & ACTION now. For everything in your life. Not some day in the future.

We all have problems. Empowered individuals mine the fuck out of their problems & turn them into golden opportunities that transform their lives for the better. They do this each day and each week, especially during the messy & chaotic times.

So, I say fuck that other grass & fuck FOMO. I’m gonna keep watering this grass right here & with just a little bit of self-awareness know that I can harness the power of JOMO — the Joy Of Missing Out on shit that isn’t happening in my life right here, right now. I’m embracing my PRESENT!

5 powerful ways to cultivate JOMO, avoid FOMO & negate the grass is greener on the other side Mentality:

In addition to the more in-depth methods I mentioned above here are 4 strategies you can begin implementing in your life today to build a better more satisfying & authentic life. 

  1. Develop a personal mission: when you are living on purpose and are consciously aware that you are living on purpose you actually appreciate exactly where you are at and FOMO and GIGOTOS have nothing on you. [some resources listed in this article for developing a personal mission]

  2. Understand & activate the 3 Related Principles of Continuous Life Optimization: When you focus on optimizing these three areas—people, environment, consumption—it’s unlikely you will succumb to FOMO or grass is greener on the other side.

  3. Practice Negative Visualization: This is a great mental technique to bring massive joy to just about any situation in your life. I practice it daily.  [quick tutorial on this in this Instagram Post]

  4. Meditate: I’ve been doing Transcendental Meditation (TM) for over 4 years without missing a single day of meditation. It’s a powerful part of keeping my Inner Citadel well fortified. There are hundreds if not thousands of types of meditation practices. Headspace is a great place to start (download the app & start today). The point is to find one that works for you and keep at it. It is not an overnight fix. It’s slow, but the positive effects are deep, pervasive & long last-lasting.

  5. Take responsibility & action for EVERYTHING in your life: It’s amazing how much can be solved by taking responsibility & taking action. It cures fear, anxiety, stagnation & creates movement & new life in your life.

There are plenty of other strategies to cultivate JOMO, avoid FOMO & negate the grass is greener on the other side mentality. At the core of it all is MINDSET & HABITS—build these up and you’ll be happily seated in your powerful Inner Citadel that has everything you need to live a life worth living for.

Feel free to share your related tips & strategies in the comments or reach out to me on one of my social media platforms to share.

Wishing you all a life full of Joy in the Present!


END NOTE: This was originally an Instagram Post that I updated & slightly expanded so that it could be more useful instead of just inspiring. I use my Instagram like a microblog, but oftentimes find that I need more characters/words than allowed to fully flesh out an empowering piece of content.



Always more Life Empowering posts & stories on my Instagram:


You Must Do The Thing You Think You Cannot Do: A Ride Along Guide To Doing Challenging Things That Will Change Your Life

“I can’t do that. I’m not ready. That’s not who I am.”

Those were the first thoughts that entered my mind. Filled with fear of the unknown my mind tried to convince me to pass on the opportunity.

Without even giving it a chance, my mind said "No." Avoiding adversity & discomfort was its priority.

Fortunately, something in my heart was stirred. A sleeping giant began to awaken from the request.

The Back Story:

The Four Seasons Silicon Valley in Palo Alto reached out to me on Instagram. They were looking to partner with a local online influencer in the fitness/wellness space to spread awareness about the inaugural RBC Gran Fondo Silicon Valley event they were hosting.

A "Gran Fondo" means "Big Ride" in italian and this event would be composed of 1000+ cyclists covering approximately 75-miles & 7000 feet of elevation gain through the lush land of Northern California. The ride would start at the Four Seasons in Palo Alto and then go up & over the Santa Cruz mountains to the Ocean and back.

I was honored by the invitation, but my mind was screaming "You're not a cyclist! You don't even have a proper bike! And you've never done more than 10-15 miles on a bike and you have no training climbing a massive hill! Don't do this! You will look like a fool! You will fail! And what will people think when you do?!"

During my meeting with the hotel staff in charge of the event I wanted to say "No thanks, I'm not a cyclist" but fortunately I kept my mouth shut and told them I would think about it. I left the meeting doubting myself.

That evening I shared the opportunity with my partner. She quietly listened to me rant about how I wasn't a cyclist and how I should turn this opportunity down because it wasn't who I was and it would be too much effort for not enough reward. My limited mind was winning the battle…

Fortunately, my fiancé is a visionary and pretty much always sees infinite possibility when I'm self-sequestering myself in a dark corner. After I had finished explaining to her how I couldn't do it she pointed out a few things I missed.

  1. It's the Four Seasons--one of the most powerful brands worldwide with immaculate & stunning properties in many of the most amazing places across the globe. I'd be foolish not to work with them.

  2. This was an amazing opportunity to grow my positive influence & create a positive impact upon a greater audience by partnering with an awesome company.

  3. My whole message is about empowering people to transform & self-actualize. Here was an opportunity for me to transform & openly share the process with others.

I wasn't fully convinced, but I did decide to sleep on it.

Something awoke while my mind slept that night. The next morning, first thing upon waking, I emailed the Four Seasons and committed to doing the cycling event.

It wasn’t until after officially committing to the Opportunity that the real magic began to happen.

With only 5-days until the event, I didn't even have a bike. At least not one with actual gears that allow you to climb a mountain. I didn't have a helmet or shoes. I definitely didn't have the ever so crucial riding bib--this is the thing you wear to protect your crotch & tailbone from being injured from excessive riding on a hard ass bicycle seat for several hours.

I didn't know how to clip into pedals, change gears, or climb insane hills on a bike.

Yet, the mind is an amazing machine. When you give it clear direction, purpose, a goal & officially make a decision its gears begin to whir and figure it all out.

I started sharing with my work colleagues that I was going to do the event and soon enough I found out that one of my best friends at my company, Henry Edelson, was super interested in doing the event with me as a an avid cyclist. I reached out to the Four Seasons and asked if he could participate with me and they were more than happy to have him join me. Now I had a partner for the journey!

I kept talking about the event with the people in my life and soon discovered that our Head of Culinary at Oh My Green, Deryck, was also a longtime cyclist and one of his favorite things to do was get people into cycling. He also just happened to get back his loaner bike he lends out like a gateway-drug to get people hooked on the sport. He happily let me know I could borrow it and find out if I enjoyed the sport and that if I ended up liking it I could borrow it until I was ready to get my own. He also had extra shoes & a helmet.

On Tuesday, 4 days from the event, Derrick & I linked up and miraculously the bike, shoes & helmet fit perfectly. For those who are unfamiliar with cycling like myself, having the bike fit your body size is absolutely integral to going long distances without ruining your body.

And for the record, the bike wasn't some beater. Nope! It was a few years old Bianchi, the oldest bike company in the world. It wasn't the absolute latest & greatest, but it was the top of the line when it was released. More than good enough for me.

Next up was figuring out my riding uniform. I reached out to the rest of Oh My Green executive team and asked if they would like to sponsor the uniform for me & my colleague so we could represent our company in the event. Our company mission is to "empower people to live healthy & blissful lives" and supporting a local mission-aligned event & two company team members living the mission in real life was right on par with the company's endeavors. Suddenly we were sponsored riders.

I found us super sleek Pedal Mafia riding uniforms at Cognition Cyclery in San Mateo, California through a recommendation of another colleague at another company who was a triathlete. 

While I was working on the gear I would need for the cycling event I also reached out to Braden Torras of Alpine Northwest, a super talented videographer (among many other things) and Avni of Glass Locket Film, a delightfully gifted photographer, to see if they would be willing to cover the event with high fidelity photo & video. They were both thrilled at the opportunity to work with the Four Seasons in Silicon Valley. I'm still amazed they were both available on such short notice in addition to all of the gear lining up so magically, but like Ralph Waldo Emerson said,

Once you make a decision, the Universe conspires to make it happen.

With only a few days left until the 75-mile ride I had everything I would need to fully participate. I even got in two short 6-8 miles rides on my new-to-me bike to learn how to clip in and change gears before the event.

On Friday night I checked my team into the Four Seasons Hotel in East Palo Alto, registered for the ride, signed a liability waiver, got my race number and had an epic team dinner around a fireplace on the patio of The Quattro Restaurant--the extremely elegant italian restaurant nestled in the corner of the hotel. Nothing like fueling up on a divine dinner with friends & family over the fireplace before a big journey. There was something tribal & mystical about the fireside dinner. A throwback to a time when we would gather next to the heat of the fire under the stars, shares stories & fuel up together for an upcoming journey.

The Ride of a Lifetime:

The morning of the event was magic in its own right. During the spring & summer months I tend to naturally wake up very early, usually 3-5am. I also tend to have incredibly high energy in the beginning of the day. So I was up early as usual, around 4am. My energy was flowing at an all-time high. I wasn't bouncing off walls. No, this energy was like a strong pulsating bass-line pumping throughout my being. Not frenetic, but instead a powerful rumble like thunder in the distance.

I had chosen to sleep in my own bed at home and meet my team at the hotel in the morning so that I could get the best sleep possible. I methodically gathered my gear and greeted the day with my fiance’.

Yoga at the rooftop pool of the Four Seasons Palo Alto. [yoga mat by    Apeiron   ]

Yoga at the rooftop pool of the Four Seasons Palo Alto. [yoga mat by Apeiron]

First on the days agenda was a video/photo shoot at the gorgeous rooftop pool of the Four Seasons. The idea was to capture me preparing for this event as I would normally. And that we did!

My typical daily warm-up includes yoga & intentional movement. Avni captured pictures of me in various poses, while Braden caught me rising with the sun on a drone. It was superbly epic and a very powerful way to start the day.

Next up was changing into my actual riding uniform and lining up for the start of ride with my colleague Henry and capturing all of that on film & video. This is when things started to get real wild.

Henry & I lining up for start of the Gran Fondo.

Henry & I lining up for start of the Gran Fondo.

There were 1000+ riders getting ready to go out for this Big Ride. We were being grouped together in waves and there were numerous countdowns as each group got released.

It was loud, crazy & I loved every minute of it! I could literally feel the anticipation of all the other riders washing over me adding to my own.

While waiting for our wave of riders to get released onto the course, Avni snapped shots & Braden filmed while I double checked I had everything for the ride and scarfed down some of Henry's food. Normally, I fast until noon or later but I figured I better have something in my stomach for the long journey ahead.

The starting gun went off and our group started the course. Henry & I rolled out with some celebratory hoots, hollers & goodbyes to our crew (and of course some expressions of love to the ever supportive fiancé).

As we started out I checked in with myself. I felt good on the bike and mentally told myself "I can do this!" During the first 10 minutes of the ride Henry proceeded to share stories about David Goggins--a navy seal & ultra endurance athlete who has an insane story of how he got into endurance sports. I was both inspired & intimidated by these stories. Henry said Goggin’s story reminded me of him in how he didn't train for his first foray into endurance sports.

The first part of the cycling event went fairly well until we hit our first major intersection with cars and a stop light. We were on a hill in a group of about 60 riders and when the light turned green I panicked getting clipped in, my foot slipped, and I slammed my knee into the pedal. Mild bleeding & pain ensued. We were only 20 minutes into the hours long course. Not the best start, but at least I was still able to continue on.

One thing that really hit me right within those first 10-20 minutes of the ride was how friendly and awesome the community of riders were. RBC Gran Fondo definitely built a special culture with their cycling events. We all chatted as we road together getting to know one another. Funny enough, people could hardly believe this was my first cycling event saying that I "looked like professional cyclist." Nothing like a sweet bike & cycling outfit to help me fake it. Being in fairly good shape from my numerous weekly fitness activities didn't hurt either.

Next up was my first major hill climb--something which I had no practice or training with. Fortunately, I spent some of those first 30 minutes chatting through hill climbing strategy with Henry so at least conceptually I had an understanding of how to use the gears and my body together to climb hardcore inclines. It wasn't long until I had to put theory into practice on the infamous Kings Mountain.

Other riders had shared Henry's climbing philosophy saying things like "don't try to be a hero and blast up the mountain, just get into your lowest gear and put in steady & constant work."

Kings Mountain was a total beast. Miles of climbing through lush Redwood forests. It was epically beautiful with ever increasing stunning views as we continued the ascent. 

Honestly, just looking up at the radical grades gave me shivers, but when I focused on just putting in the work for a few grueling miles I realized, "Holy fuck! I can do this! I can climb massive hills on a bike!"

My strategy to get up this beautiful mountain quickly evolved into just picking a rider or two in front of me and keeping pace with them. I didn't try to pass them up. I just followed along as best I could. I really had no idea how to pace myself so I figured it was better to model other riders who were surely more experienced than me.

When things got really hard, and they did, I would chant to myself, "I am strong. I am worthy." Over and over again I would say these empowering words and magically it seemed to draw forth inner strength I didn't know I had. Up the hill I climbed. And climbed.

Ultimately, I conquered Kings Mountain and made it to the first rest stop. And this is where I made my first major mistake.

Normally, I am a super healthy eater. Massive amounts of vegetables and lean proteins make up the majority of my food consumption. Very little processed junky food. However, at the first rest stop there were some not so healthy options (along with some good healthy options) that included M&M's, cookies, and other sweets chalk full of refined sugar and other manmade ingredients I can't even pronounce, much less have any understanding of what they are or where they came from. Most of the time I avoid stuff like this, but after spending a couple hours climbing a ridiculous hill I figured my body could use all the fuel it could get. "Heck, I still got a few more hours in the saddle and I'll be burning massive calories all day long. I can afford to eat some junk," I thought to myself. I proceeded to gobble down a few handfuls of M&M's and other sugary treats. Within minutes I was sky-high on one of the most addictive drugs ever known to mankind--refined sugar.

This first rest stop was also the beginning of my 2nd major mistake. They were handing out gel packs, the ones endurance athletes use to quickly get sodium and calories into their bodies during long grueling races. These ones also happened to contain a 20mg hit of caffeine. I grabbed about 5 of them and put them into my pocket to help me get through the rest of the ride.

During the climb of Kings Mountain Henry had went ahead at his own pace. As a regular cyclist my beginner pace was a bit slow for him, plus he wanted to see what he had so he pushed on ahead. He waited for me at first rest stop so we could start the next leg of the journey together.

After fueling up our bodies, using the restrooms and doing a little bit of stretching we hit the road again. This is where my 3rd major mistake began. 

At least half of the next leg was downhill. Similar to climbing massive hills on bikes, I haven't ever gone down miles long stretches of downhill road on a bike.

Irregardless of my inexperience, I bombed down the hills on my bike with Henry. We took turns leading. It was goddamn exhilarating! And despite it being fairly scary as a beginner, my adrenaline was pumping so high that it wasn't too hard to overcome the fear and just hyper-focus on scanning the road ahead for upcoming turns and objects on the road that could end my ride (or my life).

There is something about having to be so focused on the task at hand that pushes you into a state of flow. One where time ceases to exist, your Spirit comes alive, and life just feels so grand. Flying down a road on a human-powered mechanical machine at speeds up to 50+ mph definitely did that for me.

I ended up surviving & thriving through my first major downhill traverse on the bike, but when it was time to climb the next hill I hit my first massive roadblock. Within 10-15 seconds of beginning the next hill climb both my quads completely cramped up and my knees locked out. In other words, both my legs were stuck completely straight and I couldn't even bend my knees.

Somehow I managed to get myself to the side of the road without crashing and I laid down. Without having to worry about not crashing my bike I put all my mental energy into attempting to bed my knees. I couldn't do it. My legs were stuck straight. Henry hadn’t even noticed I had fallen behind and was already out of sight.

Amazingly, I didn't panic. Instead I told myself I would be patient and think this through & evaluate my options.

Within moments of analysis I realized why my legs had cramped up so bad. The entire 20-30 minute downhill ride I had ridden in a crouched position with my pedals parallel to one another and both my legs holding up my entire body weight. Essentially, I had held a staggered squat for close to half an hour. Pumped full of adrenaline & overly focused on making it down the hill safely I had managed to do this, but now that the adrenaline had left me and it was time to get back to the slow & steady work of climbing a hill my legs were completely toast.

I later learned that when you are bombing down hills you have to keep your legs moving and take time sitting down on the seat to allow your legs to recover. Otherwise if you hold a sustained staggered squat you will ruin yourself for the next climb.

As I laid there on the side of the road weighing my options I crushed all the water I had on me. I figured at least part of the cramping was due to dehydration. 

Other cyclists who passed me asked if I was okay and if I needed water. This concern & looking out for other cyclists is something that I soon learned is very common among the cycling community.

I explained to them that I had cramped up and was just taking a break waiting for my legs to un-cramp. They half-jokingly said that at least I looked really good lying down on the side of the road--thank you again Oh My Green for the Pedal Mafia uniform! We all laughed as they proceeded on.

As I laid there on the side of the road I thought through things. I definitely wanted to continue the journey so the only thing I could do was to see if my legs would actually un-cramp so that I could actually physically continue on. I told myself I would be patient and focus my mind on encouraging my quads to release. Shortly after making this decision one of the first responders who roam around the cycling course was driving by and saw me. He stopped to see if I was okay. Pat was his name and he was part of the RBC Gran Fondo crew. I told him what had happened and he offered me a ride home or some water. I chose the water and told him I really wanted to continue on.

As we were chatting my legs finally let go. My ability to bend my knees returned! I wasn't done yet! I told Pat I was good to go and asked for an additional bottle of water to refill my own.

Then I got back on the saddle and started climbing again.

Gratefully, my legs stayed unstuck. I got back to putting in the diligent work of grinding the mountain out. My will against the hill. Eventually, I caught up to another rider and just used him to set my pace against until I reached the next rest stop. By this time I was just trying survive the journey, all thoughts of being a hero were gone.

At the next rest stop I continued to double down on my previous mistakes--junk food & caffeinated gels. Nonetheless, I was extremely happy with my progress. I had made it over the Santa Cruz Mountains’ punishing 7,000 feet of elevation gain and road down the other side at breakneck speeds and lived to tell the story. Again, this was done with almost no training so the fact that I made it the Ocean from Palo Alto on a bike was a massive personal win already. I truly was surprised that I actually made it this far, especially after almost having to tap out with my legs locking up.

Henry had waited at this rest stop for me. It was at this halfway point that we decided it was best for him to continue on at his own pace and for me to continue on at my own. I was okay with this and definitely wanted to Henry to finish.

After a brief respite which included scarfing down delicious cookies and using the restroom I was back on the horse and headed back to Kings Mountain for another test of my body & willpower.

The next leg of the journey took me through rolling hills out near the Ocean. It was magical cycling through the fields, a tunnel of trees & other serenely beautiful open landscapes. It was a long way to the next rest stop but the number of intense hills was minimal and it was more about cruising along at a good clip. After probably the most peaceful portion of my ride I made it to the next rest stop.

I crushed more food, healthy & junk, refilled my water bottles, grabbed some more caffeinated gel packs, used the restroom and got back on the road yet again.

It was shortly after the third rest stop while I was diligently working my way up yet another hill that I hit a new level in the Quest. As I was methodically pedaling away in the never-ending circular motion of cycling I felt decades long held emotions deep in the wells of my body break open & release. It was raw unprocessed emotions that I had failed to work through and instead stored in my body. As I cycled through these long-forgotten & mysterious emotions I felt waves of energy cascading out from my lower chakras to the edges of all points of my body--head, hands & feet. Tears burst from my eyes while I was wracked by deep sighs & sobs, yet at the same time I was experiencing massive euphoria.


In order to move to each next level of life we must face & embrace the darkness…

In order to move to each next level of life we must face & embrace the darkness…

It was transcendental. One of those rare peak life experiences that remain so vividly burned into your psyche forevermore.

I couldn't tell you how long it lasted, but whatever came up I cycled through it until it was done releasing. One of the deepest emotional, psychological & spiritual cleanses I’ve been through.

Without stopping, I continued to cycle onto & up Kings Mountain. Again.

Going up the other side of Kings Mountain seemed infinitely harder than the first trek up the Mountain. This is likely because I'd already been on my bike for 5+ hours and already climbed so much hill it was hard to even mentally conceptualize adding more the journey. I'd already come so far.

Nonetheless, I told myself I would continue for as long as possible while listening to my body. At the last rest stop the RBC Gran Fondo team had offered me a ride up the infamous Kings Mountain, but wanting to truly test my limits I passed.

I pedaled & pushed my way back up the mountain. Slowly. Methodically. Soaking in the magical Redwoods. Asking them for help. Digging deep into myself. Exploring new terrain internally & externally.

A little bit more. A little further. It was slow going. I was well past any physical exertion threshold I'd approached in this lifetime. Yet, I was still curious where the limit & boundary was. I felt I was finally nearing it. Nearing the place in which I would need to take on help, stop or injure myself.

I probably spent close to two hours trying to tackle the backside of Kings Mountain before I finally gave in. When I reached that point I could tell my knees were at risk of being seriously injured if I kept pushing. I had already been on my bike & pedaling for over 7 hours.

Instead of pushing myself to literal breakdown I decided it was time to take the help offered. I would indeed take a ride up the rest of the Kings Mountain to the last & final rest stop and then cruise down the other side of the mountain back to the Four Seasons in Palo Alto. Heck, I still wanted to finish the Big Ride even if that meant doing it with some assistance.

By this point my videographer, Braden, had become a first-responder. Interestingly enough, he had just taken a course a few weeks prior to do exactly that. Pure coincidence. Or maybe just more magic. I shot him a message and let him know I needed a ride up the mountain.

When he picked me up he informed me that there was another rider somewhere up the road that he had to get to so off we went. Quickly.

Racing up winding roads in a car turned out to be the piece of straw that broke the proverbial camel's back. Before we even got to the next rider I had to ask to pull over so I could throw up.

The previous mistakes of inhaling junk food & caffeinated gels combined with pushing my body far beyond any previous physical thresholds all mixed together into a very unstable vessel. My whole self was primed to ignite. A rollercoaster-like car ride pushed me over the edge.

Out it all came. Over the next 3-hours or so. I was throwing up so much & feeling so nauseous that there was no way that I could even ride down the other side of Kings Mountain and cruise on back to the Four Seasons. Instead I had to head back to the hotel in the car with several stops along the way.

My ego died. I would not finish this Big Ride.

On a spiritual side note, one of the stops included me throwing up right next to a Coyote carcass. Coyote is known as the trickster God and he's known for tricking people into healing, growth & transformation. He definitely played me like a puppet. Despite normally abhorring the process of purging by way of vomiting there was something cleansing about this time.

It was like I was releasing all that deeply buried emotional junk that was crystalized into my body that I had just recently broken up through seemingly endless cycling. Now that it was no longer lodged like an icecap deep within my body it was time to fully get rid of the waste. It had been processed and it was time to cleanse the system.

When I got back to the Four Seasons I was so grateful for a super plush bed. Riding for 7+ hours had taken its toll and laying down on a giant cushy mattress with my fiancé was pure heaven. 

After a couple more visits to the bathroom & a couple hours of rest I was ready to eat. The hotel room service was to die for! It was also from the Quattro kitchen. So good in fact that I ordered it twice that night! After all the purging and wild amount of calories I burnt it was time for a serious refuel and the Four Seasons did me right! 

I spent the evening refueling, resting & integrating the powerful journey with my fiancé. It was by far the most epic adventure I’d had in years. And definitely one of the most life-changing. Second only to my Vision Quest I did for my birthday in 2017.

Surprisingly, the next day I felt amazing! To the point of getting on a stationary bike on the rooftop pool of the hotel, doing yoga, then later doing a CrossFit style workout with Henry and even playing 1-2 hours of Spikeball. I felt strong & incredibly alive!

And even though I didn’t finish the Gran Fondo it ended up being even better. It was the start of my life as a Cyclist. Since the Big Ride I’ve ridden all over Bay Area, Tahoe, Monterey, Pebble Beach, Joshua Tree and the territory I cover & explore on bike continues to expand.

I would say still to this day as I am writing this memoir of the experience I am still processing & integrating the lessons and undergoing the unfoldment that was catalyzed by it. Such a powerful quest! One thing is for certain, Eleanor Roosevelt was really onto something when she said:

You must do the thing you think you cannot do.




In addition to that enlightening quote that I finally really understand at a fundamental level, here are some key take-aways galvanized by my Big Ride:

How To Approach Hard Things That Will Change Your Life:

  1. Look for the hidden jewels that can be mined from the challenge (hard thing). In just about any challenge (opportunity) there are numerous prizes to be won if you take the time to look and make the conscious effort to uncover them.

  2. Ask empowering questions. Ask yourself the question "What is one thing I could do at this time in my life that would change my life for the better forever (whether I feel ready or not)?" Answering a powerful question like that will always move you forward in life.

  3. Leverage the empowering people in your life. Share the challenge (opportunity) with a trusted other who will empower you to say "Yes!" even when your mind wants to say, "No." Then keep sharing with others who respond with excitement. They may just have exactly what you need to make it all come together.

  4. Just say, "YES!" and figure out the details along the way. This means officially committing. Accept the invitation. Pay the admittance fee. Purchase the ticket. Apply for the job, sign up for the class, competition, workshop, etc.

Things That Really Move The Needle Of Your Life Forward Tend To Be Hard & Challenging:

  1. If they were easy everyone would do them all the time and we would all be humming along at a good clip all the time. It is the Quests we accept & take on, the ones filled with adversity & adventure, that challenge our entire being & remake us anew.

  2. They will often come in disguise. Something you've never done before. Something you think you could never do. Something that scares the shit out of you.

  3. They will push you outside of your comfort zone. Often times, way outside your comfort zone.

  4. They will induce fear. This is a good thing. It means it will change your life whether you are ready or not.

  5. You will likely fail the first time. Maybe the first several times. Again, if it were easy it probably wouldn’t catalyze much healing, growth & transformation.

  6. Release yourself from the outcome. Choose the adventure. Go all in. Play full out. And allow the experience (whatever it is) to transform you.

  7. Trust the unfolding of the journey AND take massive action at the same.

  8. It's not always about finishing. Often times it's much more about beginning a new chapter in one's life.

My New Chapter:

It’s taken me nearly 3 months, an entire season, to process this Epic Journey and get it down on virtual paper (this blog). However, I definitely haven’t been idle.

Not too long after the Gran Fondo I realized that my next chapter of life included more outdoor physical quests. Never had I felt so alive, so focused, so excited and so god damn happy & grateful! Both leading up to the Gran Fondo, during it, and a lasting effervescent glow has stuck with me ever since. I wanted more of this!

So, I went searching for my next Quest. And I found it—The Super Bowl of obstacle course racing. 13-15 miles with 30-35 obstacles & 4000+ elevation gain in Squaw Valley, California where they held the 1960 Winter Olympics.

I signed up, spent 2.5 months preparing & training for it. And just last weekend I completed my very first Obstacle Course Race. It was yet another life-changing event. So much so that a day after the Race I signed up for my next one at the end of the month.

There is so much gold to mine from these epic outdoor quests and I may have to write a few more blog posts about it, but for now…

I just want to send out a massive shoutout filled with love & immense gratitude to The Four Seasons Palo Alto & RBC Gran Fondo for this grand opportunity in disguise!

Ya’ll literally changed the trajectory of my entire life and acted as a major catalyst & demarkation for A WHOLE NEW ME!

I look forward to seeing you next year and actually finishing the Big Ride you got me started on. And who knows, maybe I’ll even train for it! ;)

In alchemy & service,

Justin David Carl

P.S. For the READER — What’s your next Quest?

Where it all started… The entrance to the Four Seasons Palo Alto & the start of the RBC Gran Fondo Silicon Valley 75-mile ride.

Where it all started… The entrance to the Four Seasons Palo Alto & the start of the RBC Gran Fondo Silicon Valley 75-mile ride.


Related Micro-Blogs on Instagram: 

An Interview covering the experience on Paula Pant's Afford Anything Podcast:



Birthday Planning Guide: Strategies For Having The Best Celebration Ever

I’m getting wiser with the years (I think).

I put this Birthday Planning Guide together for everyone who has ever had a sucky Birthday...

I know I’ve had my share of bad birthdays, but I’m determined to stop that dumb shit and proactively design “a life worth living for!”

And I’m taking everyone with me! 🤘🏼

In the 4 weeks leading up to the ripe age of 36 years young I had the best birthday celebration month I've ever had in my life. It was packed with adventure, fun, friends, abundant magic & memories I will never forget!

In the past I'll admit that on numerous years I struggled with my birthday. Several years I just wanted to get it over already. I didn't know what I wanted and I didn't take the time to figure it out. Secretly I just wanted someone else to plan & execute the whole thing for me. And I selfishly & immaturely wanted someone else to know exactly what I wanted and what would make me happy. That was always a recipe for disaster. Sound familiar?

I’ve witnessed plenty of people run this number on themselves for their birthday and then they end up having a real shitty birthday. And then they blame circumstances & "other people" for the reasons it didn't go the way they wanted.

Let me be clear, I am not pointing any fingers as I've done this to myself many times. This year I didn't.

Instead of being lazy and leaving it up to to chance that next year I may or may not have a good birthday celebration I am proactively capturing all of the actions, steps & strategies that led to a truly AWESOME celebration of my life. This way I can review it next year a month or two before my next birthday and make it even better!

Ya'll know by now that I'm all about continuous & never-ending improvement! I figure by putting this Birthday Planning Guide together some of my uber intelligent & wise readers will share their strategies with me, thus making future improvements even easier & more fun! Plus I get to be of service to others so they can avoid short-circuiting their own celebration like I did in the past. It's a win-win for all of us!

So, without further ado here is my...

Birthday Planning Guide: Strategies For Having The Best Birthday Celebration EVER

1. Plan your own birthday. Do not leave it up to someone else. To think that other people can read your mind and know exactly what you want for your birthday is ludicrous and yet so many of us fall prey to it. I know I have. Each year our heart's desires & our mind's wants may be in a different place than the prior year and the best person to determine what those are is ourselves. One year we may want a quiet celebration with a few friends. The next year we may want a massive and wild celebration. Listen to yourself & plan accordingly.

2. Plan something. Anything. Make the plan at least 4 weeks in advance. Seriously, even if your plan is no plan consciously choose that. There is power & freedom gained in making an actual choice. And if you are planning an event that involves other people giving them a month's notice allows them to fit you into their life easily. Adulthood includes full lives, responsibilities & conflicting calendars. Also, once you have a plan set you get to savor it all month leading up to the actual day. It's just like when you have a vacation planned for the next month. The anticipation alone is a wonderful gift. If you are reading this & your birthday is only a week or two away or even just few days away do not fret. Just make a plan today! Pick some form of celebration. Honestly, any plan will do. Indecision will kill your life. Decision will create new possibilities.

3. Give yourself some birthday goals & create a social challenge to support it. My birthday falls in Spring which is always a good time to start getting extra fit for the coming warm weather months. This year I started a step challenge at work and recruited 30+ people to keep myself accountable & motivated. I tied this to a goal of getting down to 7% body-fat. I only got to 8.8% by the time of my actual birthday, but I was in infinitely better aesthetic shape by the time my birthday rolled around compared to the 3-4 months prior. That momentum has carried forward and I'm well on my way to my vain pursuit.

4. Keep a calendar of awesome things you do for your entire birthday month. Tracking & logging experiences is an incredible way to suck the marrow out of life. I keep a calendar on my office wall and each day I did something awesome during my birthday month I would write it down. It both challenged me to keep striving for more awesome birthday month experiences and brought me huge satisfaction each time I gazed at the calendar. This is a habit I am definitely continuing even after my birthday month.

28 out of 30 days have something awesome & memorable! Now that's a birthday month to treasure for life!  Painting of  Kokopelli  by one of my favorite artists,  Susan Seddon Boulet .

28 out of 30 days have something awesome & memorable! Now that's a birthday month to treasure for life!

Painting of Kokopelli by one of my favorite artists, Susan Seddon Boulet.

 

5. Document your Birthday month & life on Facebook or in some sort of journal. I use Facebook as a life journal. I want to be able to look back on my life when I'm a 120 years old and see all the fun stuff I did when I was younger. Facebook makes it super easy to capture moments in words, pictures & videos. For each birthday gift I received I made a short video of me opening it and posted it on Facebook so the giver could experience my receiving. Now we both have this memory captured in HD forever! This will be paying dividends for the rest of our lives! If Facebook isn't your thing find some other medium that does work for you--journal, photo album, etc. I guarantee you will thank me for this when you are rocking in your rocking chair reflecting on the life you have lived.

6. Choose experiences, causes & people over spending money. This is a personal preference, but I've found it works exceedingly well in designing a life worth living for. Spending money to celebrate your birthday is lazy. Figuring out how to celebrate your birthday in ways that are inexpensive or free & in ways that support something greater than yourself forces you to get creative and really dig into what you want and who you want to become. I believe all of us cherish experiences and people more than any "thing." This year I did a Running Music Festival that only cost $25 after a discount code I found on the web. It was a 5K with multiple sound stages and it supported Stand Up To Cancer which was super meaningful to me as both my parents are cancer survivors. It was wild, fun, & full of black-lights & glow-paint. I got fitter through the experience, created memories I will never forget, and gave my money & energy to a cause so much greater than myself. I feel amazing just writing about it here.

Part of the Birthday Crew straight GLOWING!

Part of the Birthday Crew straight GLOWING!

 

7. Do the things that brought you joy growing up. As a kid I rollerbladed my face off. I also spent tons of time in nature and played lots of games. All birthday month long this year I went rollerblading, hiking, played Spikeball & Exploding Kittens, went treasure hunting, and got up to all sorts of childish adventure. My inner child was in full expression & loving life! This is amazing life advice in general. Want to be super happy with life? Do the things you did as kid.

8. Put together your own Gift Guide (and read The 5 Love Languages or at least take quiz). For years I've been frustrated with getting gifts that just didn't fit me. The gift would sit in my house cluttering my space and each time I thought about donating it, re-gifting it or just throwing it away I felt guilty so it would just sit there until I got so fed up with it that I disposed of it in one way or another. A few months ago I took The 5 Love Languages Quiz and learned that I experience the most love through "Quality Time". Super obvious after I took the quiz & reflected on my life. You may experience love better in other ways so definitely take the quiz and tailor your birthday celebration to that. Nonetheless, with that clarified self-knowledge I put together a Gift Guide that included this information. The majority of the Gift Guide is telling people to NOT BUY ME THINGS and instead come spend quality time with me, but I still outlined items that I really wanted/needed. Gift-giving of things is a part of some people's DNA and there is nothing wrong with it. I created the guide in a shareable Google Doc and my Fiance and I sent it to anyone who was considering getting me birthday gifts. For those who couldn't physically be around to give me a shared experience (i.e. a hike, blade, or game of Spikeball) there was an easy list to choose from. This makes it easier on the gifter too. How many times have you been totally unsure of what to give someone for their birthday? Wouldn't a guide make your life easier? For me this resulted in the absolutely fucking best year of birthday gifts ever!! No joke! All month long I was getting packages in the mail of gifts that were perfect for me! And now I will be updating the guide each year for my birthday & Christmas making life easier and better for all of us. I implore you to make your own personal Gift Guide. It will change your life!

9. Don’t compare yourself to others. Seriously, take The 5 Love Languages Quiz. It only takes a few minutes and it will give you deep self-knowledge you can use to enhance your life. Now back to how we experience love. Everyone experiences love differently and in different times throughout life how we want to be loved & celebrated on our birthday will likely change from year to year. What looks awesome for another might not really be what you want this particular year. If you start trolling social media and see everyone else's birthday celebrations you are going to confuse yourself. Plus, the dark side of social media is that it encourages comparing your life to the "highlights" of someone's life. They definitely aren't posting about the sucky things that happened during their celebration. To really drive this home I'll point to a wise quote by one of our Presidents. As Theodore Roosevelt said:

Comparison is the thief of joy.

 

You may really want a quiet family dinner for your birthday and yet you see someone's wild birthday celebration at a nightclub and suddenly your heartful celebration seems lame. Plain & blunt, just don't fall into the trap of comparison unless you want to lessen your own experience & kill your joy. Know that whatever you choose for your birthday this year is right for you at this point in your life. Tune out the blaring social media & instead listen to that quiet voice inside and follow it's advice. Now that's a recipe for fulfillment.

10. Release yourself from expectation & attachment to outcome. Not everyone you invite will be able to attend your celebration. People will cancel on your birthday celebration last minute. Plans will change. Things will come up that you or they didn't expect. If your happiness is tied to things going according to plan you will suffer. Have a general plan and then just let go. Allow life to give you an experience and be grateful for what shows up.

 

Other ideas:

Pick a big scary thing that you will never forget that will transform your life for the better. I did this last year. For about 15-20 years I had wanted to go on a Vision Quest, but was too scared to do it. I won't go into detail about what a Vision Quest is as I plan to write a stand alone article on it someday but just know that it is an ancient form of personal transformation that includes a week or more in the woods as well as solitude, silence & fasting for a full 96 hours. When I was approaching the age of 35 I asked myself, "What is the one thing I can do to start a whole new phase in my life?" The answer was immediate & clear. It was time for me to remember why I came here to Earth. And that is exactly what a Vision Quest is designed to do. It helps us remember.

There are plenty of other big scary things that will transform a life for the better so try picking one that fits you and make that your life celebration one year. I promise it will be worth it!

In closing, I would like to remind us all that Life Is A Gift. It truly is. So be happy to be alive no matter your current circumstances and take the time & energy to celebrate it at least once a year. Feel free to use my Birthday Celebration Guide and add your own magic to it!

In alchemy & service,

Justin David Carl

P.S. This guide secretly applies to celebrations of all types--Mother's Day, Father's Day, Christmas, Weddings, Graduations, etc. Don't fall into the trap of thinking you are responsible for only one type of celebration. We are personally responsible for EVERY CELEBRATION in our life.

P.P.S. Please feel free to message me on one of my socials or leave me a comment below with any additional ideas, tips, tricks & strategies for celebrating one's birthday!

P.P.P.S. Please share this with any family & friends who have upcoming birthdays or celebrations of any type. I'm on a mission to empower people to transform & self-actualize and celebrating our lives is a key part of that!


Footnotes:

  1. Title photo of me acting like a manchild in my birthday suit shot by Noelle Johnson.
  2. Matching underwear & socks by Related Garments.
  3. Want to go on a Vision Quest? Message me directly or visit Tribal Edge.



Living With Intention & Purpose: Why I Create & Share

Living with intention, having a purpose, and clearly defining your "why" in just about any area of life is one of the most powerful things you can do.

For the last few years I have been thinking about why I create & share with the world. I've always felt innately called to do so for as long as I can remember, but it wasn't until recently that I actually started to do it. And now that I am a few years into it I've really been seeking to understand my intention & purpose for investing energy into my creative practice & sharing it with others. Here is my answer:

1. Alchemize My Own Life: Ongoing healing, growth & transformation does not happen in a vacuum. We are on this journey together. Producing creative work in the form of writing, pictures, videos & sound forces me to metabolize my own life. It empowers me to mine the darkness for the gold, personally codify the lessons & stay deeply present in my own Life. True alchemization happens through “the seemingly magical process of combination, creation & transformation.” This means combining myself with other people, places & things in order to create anew & transform for the better.

2. What You Teach Is Teaching You: I find that the more I teach the faster I learn & the more I learn. This happens through dynamic exchange with other people. Just articulating your own learning in the hopes to teach another forces you to crystallize your own understanding. Then their feedback pushes you into even deeper understanding.

3. Mastery Requires Lifelong Practice: Once the master achieves the level of black-belt he does not stop practicing. I’m after Life-Mastery and that is a lifelong practice. This means I must continue to create & share indefinitely. I’ve learned the joy of striving for an ever-receding horizon by focusing on embracing the journey. The process is the prize.

4. Creating Is Always More Empowering Than Consuming: I’ve discovered that creating & sharing is incredibly energizing & empowering for me when it comes from an empowering place. It leaves a lasting sense of Joy. Conversely, mindless consuming & sharing often leaves me feeling bereft, promotes personal dissatisfaction & engenders internal unhappiness.

5. Inspire Others To Be Inspired: When I share my Energy & work to authentically empower & inspire others I seem to always receive even more energy. It’s like rejuvenation for my Spirit. When done right from the right place it literally lights me on fire!

6. Perpetual Leadership At Scale*: By creating work that I can share through the interwebs in the forms of writing, pictures, videos & sound I am able to lead at scale. I can reach more people than I ever could in-person. I aim to have a majority of my content be evergreen so that no matter when people discover my work it can act as a catalyst if they are ready for positive transformation. This is my contribution to the idea that “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

7. My Act Of Service In Action: My mission in life is “To Empower People To Transform & Self-Actualize”. In order to live this mission I must take ACTION on it regularly. Sharing myself & my learnings in a powerful & vulnerable way empowers me to be a bridge for others & fulfill on my mission. We all must take our own action to Alchemize Life. You can’t do it for me & I can’t do it for you. But I can lead by example.

8. Connection & Impact:  In order to feel truly ALIVE we have to feel connected to others and like we are making a difference. Making the world a better place through one’s creation & contribution is necessary in order to truly live a life worth living for!

Why do you create and/or share?


*This article was originally inspired by James Clear's article: Leadership At Scale (Why I Write). I read it years ago & loved it so much that I wanted to steal it & make it my own. James was inspired by Justin Jackson's article: Words. This is an awesome chain reaction of creative alchemization.



My Instagram:

Purpose & Power Is Found Within & Exercised Without

More & more I am coming into the habit of looking inside for power.

Power defined as the ability to act and to do.

In the past I often fooled myself by seeking power outside of myself. Thinking it was out there. Somewhere to be found.

That something outside could give me the what & the why...

Somebody, some thing, some organization could unleash what I knew has been lying dormant.

I've come to believe that the world will give us hints of our inner power. It will provide assistance in the discovery.

The outside world will reflect back to us what is inside waiting for us.

For me this has shown up as magical synchronous events that seem to have a common golden thread running throughout.

Moments that light me up & call me forth. Moments that resonate with my True Self.

Timeless times in which I feel at one with myself and with the world.  These precious moments are transcendent.

Yet, if one doesn't reach out and grab the golden tether one may as well have never noticed it in the first place.

That chord of energy will continue to just float around unused.

Ah, but when we do seize upon that alchemical cord it electrifies us! Fills us up!

And when we act upon it we are left with true power. The power to act in this world and be of service to others and oneself at the same time.

Action begets action. Doing begets doing.

Purpose calls forth our limitless supply of energy.

Strength is found within. It is harnessed by sharing it without.

Harnessing the inner strength so that I can vitally share it with the world.

Harnessing the inner strength so that I can vitally share it with the world.

We all have an innate purpose. We all have innate power to be given to this world in service.

As we discover and develop a purpose that is greater than ourselves we are called into a "being" that is truly powerful.

The gift of our journey of life is to discover this purpose and spend our time fulfilling it.

There is a vitality, a life-force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique and if you block it, it will never exist through any medium and will be lost...the world will not have it.

It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable, nor how it compares with other expressions...it is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.
— Martha Graham in a letter to Agnes De Mille

Alchemical Learnings:

  1. We all have a purpose. It is our life-duty to discover and/or find purpose & deliver upon it.
  2. Purpose can evolve over time & we can have more than one purpose in life.
  3. Purpose can be discovered by identifying & taking note of synchronous moments and events that make us feel authentic & truly alive.
  4. When we find purpose we find strength (energy) & happiness.
  5. Happiness is a byproduct of fulfilling on purpose.
  6. Having a purpose greater than ourselves creates a sustainable life-affirming power in our life and the life of others.

Alchemical Resources:

  1. The Power of Purpose by Richard Leider. Plenty of material and exercises in his books & on his website to help one develop purpose.
  2. Landmark Worldwide's seminar "Living Passionately." This is a personal & professional development organization that offers many awesome experiential learning seminars. It can be intense, but it will empower you to grow & transform.
  3. Go on a Vision Quest. My friend Ben at Tribal Edge organizes these every spring & fall.
  4. Have some other resources that have empowered you to discover purpose? Please share in the comments!

Alchemical Opportunity for the reader:

  1. Write down your purpose even if you don't have one fully formulated. Just take a stab at it even if you have no idea. Something is better than nothing. And remember, it can and will likely evolve over time.
  2. Start a "Synchronicity Log". This is simply a record of all the synchronous events that magically appear in your life. Just a brief description and date. Record daily and review weekly. Patterns will begin to emerge. These patterns will empower you to discover purpose. I'm all about making things easy so I just record these in my iPhone note app.
  3. Join up with some sort of organization or individual(s) that have a strong mission that even slightly piques your purpose--business, religious, community, hobby-groups, & inspiring friends all count. Then get active in the group or with the person(s) -- like really participate and notice your purpose come alive. This happened to me with my company Ohmygreen, Landmark, my fiance, & my creative partner at Wild Olympic Art Collective. Through deep interaction with these four powerful forces in my life I was able to refine my purpose into its current working-form: "To empower people & organizations to transform & self-actualize." This purpose is the driving force behind my writing & Alchemize Life.
  4. Still lost on your purpose? Go on Vision Quest or take a seminar at Landmark (links above).

Purpose is what we get up for in the morning.  When our purpose is authentic and strong we wake up jazzed about life. We wake up with excitement and vigor for life.

When our purpose is unclear or not the right fit we wake up feeling like we didn't sleep. We're in a fog and we proceed to slog through our day. To be frank, life sucks when we don't have clear purpose. If you find yourself in this place then it is time for you to discover or find a purpose.

No one can give you purpose unless you decide to take it on. But be careful because if an outside purpose doesn't resonate with your true inner purpose (the reason you came into this world) chaos will ensue at some point. In my life this manifested as drugs, alcohol and other life-killing habits.

You will know when you have purpose clearly defined because life will flow and you will feel at home in the world. If you are not there yet, don't worry. Just begin the process of discovery and have fun with it!

In alchemy & service,

Justin David Carl 🌒

P.S. Please share this article with anyone looking for purpose! And please sign up for my NEWSLETTER to keep your life alchemizing & on fire! 🔥