World Mental Health Day

Today is World Mental Health Day, a day that doesn't get enough recognition here in the US.

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Now that I'm back in NY, my mission is to work with more and more people, groups, and companies to help bring awareness to the importance of mental health.

As a Behavioral Change Expert and Life Coach, I've worked with many individuals and groups around the world, and watched incredible change: in overall happiness, feelings of peace, and stress management evolve by implementing small but impactful habits.

If you, someone you know, or your company is looking to simply be happier, deal with stress better, or create meaningful change in a personal and/or professional manner then please reach out to me. I've made the changes myself, I've watched others make the changes, and I can promise life doesn't have to feel so hard.

So my final question is: What are you waiting for?

Please feel free to email me at artisanandking@gmail.com or fill out the form below to inquire about personal one-on-one sessions or my 6-8 week course. I'm happy to provide any answers to questions you may have, and know this can be an intimidating dialogue to start.

You deserve to have it all!

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Posted on October 10, 2017 .

A Fall Escape: Storm King Art Center

A journey through time in more ways than one.

Since coming back from my South East Asian adventure, I've made it a point to be more social, explore my own backyard, and do fun stuff. So when a friend suggested heading 2 hours outside of NYC to visit Storm King Art Center I was down for an adventure.

As we journeyed through classic North Eastern fall foliage with Alanis Morissette blasting in the car, I couldn't help but be reminded of my childhood. Growing up on Long Island, it was a signal that time was changing when you saw the leaves graduate from green to orange, red, and yellow; something I took for granted, but as an adult am so aware of. 

Add some Alanis to the mix and a wave of memories came flooding back into my consciousness. Sense memory triggers fully at work, a moment of gratitude, and before I knew it we were at the iconic open-aired museum located in Mountanville, New York.

Named after its proximity to Storm King Mountain, and containing perhaps the largest collection of contemporary outdoor sculptures in the United States, Storm King was founded by Ralph E. Ogden in 1960 as a museum for Hudson River School paintings. Now it acts as a getaway for not just New Yorkers, but people visiting from far and wide looking to find some nature, art, and intrigue while on the east coast. 

Welcome to Storm King

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XOXO

Never stop exploring, spending time outdoors, and going on adventures with good people.

Posted on October 8, 2017 .

Let’s Talk About Sex

Safe sex.

You and me baby ain’t nothing but mammals, and I know majority of us are doing what they do on the discovery channel, so let’s be mature adults and talk about condoms.

Standard condoms only properly fit 12% of condom users, and if we’re doing the deed, we want it to be as pleasurable and safe as possible. Condoms that fit too tight or too loose make it harder to orgasm, keep an erection, and enjoy sex overall. The idea of one-size-fits-all never made sense for anything, so why would we expect it to work for condoms?

MyONE Perfect Fit condoms is the perfect solution to this problem. Ranging in sizes from 4.9 - 9.4 inches long and 3.5-5 inches in circumference these perfect fit condoms are a game changer when it comes to sex. MyONE believes that consumers no longer need to sacrifice comfort for safety and with over 60 different sizes available, they solve the condom fitting problem.

Whether you’re a banana, zucchini, carrott, stick of celery, or a piece of chorizo, there is a perfect fitting condom for you with MyONE.

Figuring out your size is beyond simple with MyONE’s FitKit available online at myonecondoms.com, and to make sure you get the right size, MyONE offers a free sampling program. 

And if all this talk about condoms, penis size, and sex makes you a little nervous and uncomfortable, you have nothing to worry about: shipping and size labels are completely discreet. There are a range of subscriptions you can sign up for, the best value being the 24-pack subscription, which makes each condom cost 66 cents. Not too shabby at all!

Look, I get it, who wants to talk about condoms? The thing is, it would be way more irresponsible to act like any of us weren’t having sex, and to avoid the topic all together. So let’s be grown ups, protect our own body, and our partner's bodies. 

Sex is fun, and it should be enjoyable in every sense, so check out MyONE Perfect Fit condoms, and let the good times roll.

Posted on October 5, 2017 .

The 4 Big Pro Gun Arguments Obliterated 

Guns. Firearms. Death Weapons.

Protection. Stimulant to the Economy. Food Gatherer. 

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As we continue to be desensitized by another mass shooting, I found myself having discussions with people I love about why they believe they should have the right to own a gun. In doing so arguments that I often think about, but roll my eyes to came up. Looking to fully understand how anyone could still think that guns should be not just accessible, but in existence, I challenged myself to think critically about the arguments that politicians, pro-gun lobbyist, and countless Americans employ. 

This is what I found:

The Economy Argument

As the world’s largest dealer of fire arms it makes sense that the United States has the most firearms per capita. Right now there are more than 300 million firearms in the US, and that represents just the ones reported.

There seems to be this argument that if we ban guns, we will be taking away people’s jobs, a money making venture for the US, and a general wealth. 

As it sits right now, the wealth of the US is dominated by 1% of extremely wealthy individuals, and the lack of distribution to the lower classes, a large group of people who adamantly fight for their right to bear arms, don’t see this or any social benefits that come with being a “super power.” What is the point of being a “super power” and a wealthy country if all of our citizens don’t have healthcare, clean water, and shelter?

Secondly, it is time that our citizens started learning new skills, or translated their skill set into something that doesn’t create a deadly weapon because that is what firearms are, deadly weapons. Yes, many people will have to step out of their comfort zone to learn a new skill, talk to new coworkers, or be a part of the liberals that want to help all classes have the basic human rights. However, when we step out of our comfort zone we find that our lives change for the better, and many other opportunities present themselves.

Additionally, if we no longer produce firearms than our country will no longer be providing firearms to other countries, terrorist groups, or any other consumer of these deadly weapons.

What the economy argument truly boils down to are larger problems that surround greed and power by the 1% of America’s elite. The NRA funds government officials to vote in their favor, so that these few individuals don’t have to face the country’s growing problems, which is that we will become very irrelevant globally if we stop producing firearms. 

To really drive this idea home, it’s important to note that with less guns we’d have less gun related injuries, which would mean our medical field in the US would also have to have a discussion based on preventive medicine rather then medicine that deals with a problem once it’s proliferated. 

It’s time we started investing in other ventures and looking to the future, which is going to come with or without us.

The “It’s My Right” Argument

There's a huge argument regarding the 2nd Amendment and the right of Americans to bear arms. I understand that this is an amendment built into the United States Constitution, but when over 1.56 million people are homeless, 1 in 8 households are food insecure, and majority of Americans don’t have access to medical care something is fundamentally wrong.

Furthermore, this amendment was written into the constitution in 1791. The type of firearms that are employed today didn’t exist and I highly doubt could have even been imagined by our founding fathers. 

If guns were banned from the US than this idea of a right, which is greatly skewed, would no longer be necessary because we’d all have no need for guns.

The Hunting Argument

Another common argument that pro-gun citizens like to use is the fact that many families get their source of food from hunting, and if we were to ban guns many people wouldn’t have the same access to meat. 

While guns do provide an easy way to kill a harmless animal, there are other ways to do so. A bow and arrow was how people originally hunted their meat, and if we are going to continue to allow this argument to be employed than we need to discuss that fact that we’ve evolved as people that don’t need to hunt. Guns have evolved and not for this reason. We are no longer hunter-gatherers, we’ve become a culture of settlers.

There is no sport to hunting when you can shoot an animal from an extreme distance and use a firearm that shoots off multiple rounds in the matter of seconds. 

Furthermore, the FDA has even stated that majority of our diets should be plant-based with meat acting as a side, if at all. We no longer need the amount of meat that our ancestors needed, and if people want to live like them then they should have to hunt like them.

As a side note, meat is remarkably inexpensive to buy in the US because of factory farming, which is a whole other argument, but one that is important to touch on because this industry is closely linked to the NRA, the American Heart Association, and the same elected officials who vote against the majority of US citizens.   

The Protection Argument

One of the biggest arguments surrounding the right to bear arms is the idea of protection.

I’d like to ask those of you who are reading this that support this argument, who exactly are you protecting yourself from?

Terrorists, gang members, the crazy man down the street?

Well, if we were to ban guns, or at least look where and who we are selling them to, none of these people would be able to get firearms. We directly or indirectly supply firearms to all those who we are taught to fear. Yes, even terrorists abroad have acquired many firearms through our poor systems and laws.

We are literally in the middle of an argument to legalize silencers for the average American to own and use. What would the average American need a silencer for?

There’s a huge myth that the NRA likes to spread, which is that owning a gun will protect you. The truth of the matter is, it is far more likely to harm you or a loved one. 

Using data from 1981–2010 and the best firearm ownership proxy to date, the most recent study examining the relationship between firearms and homicide rates on a state level found that for every 1 percent increase in gun ownership, there was a 1.1 percent increase in the firearm homicide rate and a 0.7 percent increase in the total homicide rate.

Studies have been done looking at countries that allow guns with ease, and those that don’t have guns at all, and those that have banned firearms have found what one would expect, a significantly lower number of deaths by firearms.

Going one step further, suicide rates drop dramatically when firearms are not allowed to be owned. It literally is the easiest way to kill oneself, and unfortunately what majority of suicide victims employ for this heartbreaking occurrence. 

When there are 1.69 million American children living in homes with loaded and unlocked firearms, and 73% of children aged nine and under report knowing the location of their parents’ firearm, can we be surprised that 89% of accidental shooting deaths among children occur in the home? 

Finally, when we look at other countries that don’t use firearms within their police forces, we see that there are less firearm related deaths. Countries like Australia, Denmark, Austria, Norway, Germany, France, Iceland, and Sweden train their law enforcement to be in good physical condition, think critically, and handle situations without the use of firearms. Why? Because if you don’t have a gun, you can’t act rash and just shoot someone, which unfortunately happens way too often in the US.

By properly training and vetting our law enforcement officers, and requiring them to be in top physical condition the need for guns is simply unnecessary.

To add to these sentiments, it’s incredibly important to look at a few statistics:

  • Since the American Revolution 1,396,733 Americans have died in wars. 
  • Since 1968 1,516,863 Americans have died by firearm-related deaths (not wars). 
  • In 2017 at least 59 people were killed and over 500 more have been hurt in some way in the Las Vegas shooting.
  • In 2016 49 people were killed and 58 were wounded in the Orlando shooting.
  • In 2012 20 six and seven year olds were shot and killed in Sandy Hook.
  • In 1999 13 people were killed in Columbine.
  • American has 4.4% of the world’s population, but almost half of the civilian-owned guns around the world.
  • America has 6 times as many firearm homicides as Canada, and nearly 16 time as many as Germany.
  • There have been 1,500 mass shootings since Sandy Hook.
  • On average, there is more than one mass shooting for each day in America. 
  • States with more guns have more gun deaths.
  • Other developed countries with more guns also have more gun deaths.
  • The states with the most guns report the most suicides.
  • Since the shooting of Michael Brown, police have killed at least 2,900 people in the US.
  • In states with more guns, more police officers are also killed on duty.

What all major mass shootings have in common is that they’ve been executed by men, and more often than not, white-Christian-middle-class men. It’s important to note this because it highlights the ways in which we are avoiding issues beyond gun control, mental health being at the top of that list.

Ultimately, this is a conversation that is too far gone, but one that isn’t dead for lack of a better word, and we need to create change. The right to bear arms shouldn’t be a basic human right when actual things to survive like healthcare, clean food and water, and shelter are denied to so many. We are literally giving access to creating more death than we are to sustaining life. When a school full of children looking to learn, a church full of people looking to spread light, and a festival where people are looking to listen to music are shot up, we need to stop claiming that the wars we are fighting are outside our borders because they are in fact right here at home.

In closing, I have to ask, What will it take for all of us to agree that money and power do not champion human life?

What other arguments do you constantly hear?

Sources:

  1.  http://smartgunlaws.org/guns-in-the-homesafe-storage-statistics/
  2. http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2015/01/good_guy_with_a_gun_myth_guns_increase_the_risk_of_homicide_accidents_suicide.html
  3. https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/amendments/amendment-ii
  4.  http://www.worldhunger.org/hunger-in-america-2016-united-states-hunger-poverty-facts/
  5. http://www.socialsolutions.com/blog/2016-homelessness-statistics/
  6.  http://www.gunpolicy.org/
  7.  http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/statements/2015/aug/27/nicholas-kristof/more-americans-killed-guns-1968-all-wars-says-colu/
  8.  https://www.nbcnews.com/
  9.  https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/10/2/16399418/us-gun-violence-statistics-maps-chart
Posted on October 3, 2017 .

New York Isn’t for Lovers

It’s a city for workers.

As I found myself back in the hustle and bustle of New York City after three months traveling South East Asia, a rush of perspective came flooding into my consciousness.

New York City is a city where people go to make their dreams come true, their work dreams. Yes, many people move to NY and fall in love, but the reason that drives millions of people to migrate to NYC isn’t to find a partner, it’s to find a career, opportunity, and the chance to make it big. After all, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.

It’s an incredible city where you can be anyone, do anything, but falling in love isn’t necessarily the easiest. New Yorkers can get anything at anytime, and the never ending ease and excess is no different when it comes to finding a potential mate. It’s an exciting thought, but one that doesn’t translate into real life quite as well.

I’m sure you could make this argument about many major cities, but there is something to be said about NYC as it’s a city that attracts people from all over the world looking to broaden their horizons and find something new. It’s a place that pushes you harder than you could imagine to be the best version of yourself in many ways, but one that doesn’t stop and ask, “Are you ok?” 

“Of course I’m ok, I live in fucking New York City.”

But the thing is most New Yorkers are tired, rent-poor, and neglecting many other areas of their lives to make their careers the thing they thought they wanted, but many times find isn’t fulfilling. Being that we are constantly evolving, it makes sense that our dreams evolve as well, but it’s an incredibly hard thing to come to terms with, and ultimately understand that this is not a failure.

Add to the fact that years have been devoted, relationships have been sacrificed, and we can’t imagine our lives any other way, and it’s no surprise that so many people just suck it up for whatever excuses they employ.

NYC is a city that doesn’t promote strong spiritual health and mindfulness the same way it promotes clothes, cars, and coffee. There’s billboards advertising the latest phones, trends, and stars, but nothing promotes love.

And not just romantic love, but self-love as well. NYC culture breeds its inhabitants to push our bodies at the gym, our minds at work, and our energy levels throughout all of this. We work hard and play even harder, but rarely is there a moment built into our lives to recharge, reset, and take stock in the things that are truly important.

What are those things?

Community, relationships with nature, and altruism are all things that have been understood to add increasingly high value to all human’s lives. As happiness becomes a scientific study, researchers are finding that human interaction, gratitude, and being in open outdoor spaces are the key to finding one’s own lasting happiness. 

Ultimately, what I’ve found since leaving New York and then coming back is that NYC changes us. Sometimes for the good, but also sometimes for the bad. I’ve adopted saying hello to strangers, smiling as I walk, and making eye contact even more than I already did, and people think I’m crazy. I’ve realized that NYC is beyond expensive, and that without even realizing it I’ve fallen into being fancier than I ever thought I’d be, paying more for rent than I could’ve ever imagined, and found it was normal to pay $30 for an ok meal. 

But more than anything I’ve realized that NYC isn’t for lovers. A city that makes it easy to fall for one person, and have them fall for you. A place where you get swept up in each other in a healthy way, and think long term. Yes, people find this here, and I still have hope, but NYC definitely isn’t for the lovers, the dreamers, and maybe me.

Posted on September 29, 2017 .

The Big Secret To A Healthy Life

A good night's rest can completely change your life. Seriously, it can.

Think about it.

How amazing do you feel after a solid night's rest? I don't know about you, but a good night's sleep can completely change my behavior, mood, and habits, which is why I think it's time we had a little talk about sleep.

When discussing health, mentally or physically, we often talk about diet, supplements, and exercise, but the one big thing that can change everything is sleep.

In today's crazy rat race we often get sucked into our jobs, staying up late, and pushing our body's to the max, but we aren't allowing these precious machines the adequate time to relax, rejuvenate, and reset.

Honestly, you can eat the healthiest foods, workout 6 days a week, and do everything else perfect, but if you aren't getting enough or the right kind of sleep you won't find your body, mind, and soul feeling elevated, healthy, and fit.

Because of all of this, I knew I had to team up with Beautyrest Sleeptracker to share this amazing new standalone sleep monitoring device. The Sleeptracker will literally turn any bed into a smart bed by analyzing your entire sleep ecosystem, and provide highly accurate analytics revolving around your slumber.

There's no obnoxious wearable, set up is beyond easy, and you get all your data sent right to your phone through the Beautyrest Sleeptracker App. The patented system measures your respiration and heart rate with a 90% accuracy, and will truly provide you with information that will help you sleep deeper. 

This isn't just about giving you numbers, this is about coaching you to fall asleep faster, sleep deeper, and wake up feeling even more refreshed. 

You wouldn't keep using your phone after it's battery is dead, and you don't expect to feel great eating unhealthy food, so why would you allow yourself to have anything but the perfect night's sleep?

It's time to learn how to wind down, fall asleep more easily, and sleep soundly throughout the night. It's time to check out the Beautyrest Sleeptracker! You're only doing yourself a disservice by not sleeping like a baby every night, and both myself and the Beautyrest Sleeptracker want to help you get there.

Happy sleeping my gorgeous human beings! #ISleepTo maintain my health.

Posted on July 15, 2017 .

To Everyone Who Has Let Go Of A Toxic Father

As Father’s Day approaches it serves as a big reminder that not all of us will be celebrating. 

I have many friends that have had their dads pass away, and my heart goes out to all of them because they didn’t chose to not celebrate Father’s Day. However, my heart also goes out to those who have had to make the very hard decision to say good bye to their fathers, not because they’re no longer around, but because they were toxic to our lives.

I know that these two things are not the same, but I can speak from first hand experience and the heart that it doesn’t make this day any less painful, or act as a big reminder that many of us have had to say goodbye to someone who we once called Dad.

While I may not have physically lost my father, I have had to deal with the feelings of loss, and although I know he exists somewhere in the world, it doesn’t change the fact that he is no longer in my life.

Many of you will not understand why so many of us have had to let the men in our lives, who were supposed to be our father figures go, but for all of you who do, know that I get it.

I know what it feels like to wish you had a male role model in your life to show you how to be a man, or what it feels like to be a daddy’s girl. I know what it feels like to wish you had someone to go to when you just needed a big bear hug, or have conversations about life with. I know what it feels like to wish you could go to you dad and ask for advice on life, money, love, or any number of topics that you see your friends go to their dads for. I know what it feels like to wish you had your dad around to take care of your mom, who doesn’t know how to take care of herself. I know what it feels like to wish you had that built in support that comes from a dad. I know what it feels like to be reminded that you don’t have your dad around, and that he was never really that nice to you, but you tried so hard to make him like you.

It’s a hard thing to explain to anyone how you could cut someone out of your life, especially a parent, but when someone treats you badly, mentally and physically hurts your family, and manipulates all the relationships in their lives, you just learn that no title or amount of blood gives someone the right to be in your life. 

It truly is one of the hardest decisions we’ve had to make, and it’s something we think about all the time because we know they are alive, but when we see how much brighter, lighter, and more peaceful our lives have become without this person, we can’t deny that we made the right decision. It doesn’t make it any less painful, and thinking about it still hurts, but knowing we’ve found peace makes us feel just that, peaceful. 

We tried and struggled to help our dads find their own peace, but as we learn, you can’t force someone to do anything, especially a parent. Even though we have let these men go, we don’t wish them ill will. We still hope that one day they find their own sense of peace, love, success, and joy because we know they’ve struggled to find those things their whole lives. 

So while Father’s Day is a day meant to celebrate dads, remember that it’s a day to also celebrate yourself, and the hard, but mature decisions you’ve made for yourself to have a better life. If you have a mom that stepped up and did the work of two parents than celebrate her today, and if you don’t have parents at all that you can celebrate today than celebrate your amazing friends, mentors, or family members who have become the fathers you deserve to have in your life.

While it’s just one day a year, it’s still a day that can make many of us feel sad, down, and a little bit lonelier, but what we all need to remember is that we can learn from our fathers regardless of if they are in our lives. We can either chose to be the victim and feel bad for ourselves, or learn from our father’s mistakes, and be the men and women they could never be. Father’s day will come and go, but who you decide to be, and how you decide to influence the world will last forever, so remember that there is a world of people out there that love you for all the reasons your father couldn’t, and we are proud of the men and women you have become.

Keep shining bright, keep being better than your father, and let love continue to guide you on your journey to be the ultimate version of yourself. 

Posted on June 18, 2017 .

Open-Faced Breakie Sandwich

Multigrain whole wheat bread, plump tomatoes, and tofu sausage topped with two over easy eggs. It's my high protein open-faced breakie sandwich. 

Ingredients: 

  • 2 Organic Free Range Eggs
  • 2 Pieces of Multigrain Whole Wheat Bread
  • 1 Tofu Sausage
  • 1/2 a Tomato
  • Avocado Mayonnaise 
  • Chili Flakes
  • Ground Pepper
  • Pink Himalayan Salt

Prepare:

  1. Slice your tomato.
  2. Cut your tofu sausage into 4 pieces.
  3. Heat your tofu sausage in skillet on stove top till lightly brown.
  4. Toast your 2 pieces of bread.
  5. Spread avocado mayonnaise onto toast.
  6. Add tomato slices to bread.
  7. Add 2 pieces of your tofu sausage to each slice of bread.
  8. On same skillet cook your two eggs to over easy.
  9. Add 1 egg to each slice of bread.
  10. Top with red chili flakes, pink Himalayan salt, and ground pepper. 

BAM!

And there you have a delicious and nutritious breakie sandwich. 

Posted on May 22, 2017 .

Brooklyn Botanic Garden: Cherry Blossom Season

Every year in April the blossoming of cherry blossoms, or sakura as they are known in Japanese, become a spectacle across the Northern Hemisphere. In New York, we have our own cherry blossom season at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and for the first time ever I went to witness their incredible bloom.

Hanami is the centuries-old practice of picnicking under a blooming cherry blossom, and was originally limited to the elite of the Imperial Court; however, centuries later this relaxing practice has become one that people from all walks of life enjoy.

In conjunction with Buddhist influence and Japanese culture, cherry blossoms are thought to represent the ephemeral nature of life, and embody the concept of mono no aware or "the pathos of things.". I've always found these gifts from nature to be dazzling, but after learning about their symbolism I feel even more connected to these pink wonders.

If you have the chance I highly recommend going to take part in hanami for yourself, and dozing off underneath these Japanese symbols for clouds.

Posted on May 2, 2017 .

One & Only Hayman Island: My 'Treat-Yourself' Weekend

A truly one and only experience.

When I decided to come to Australia I had no set plans except that I was going to fly in and out of Sydney. Everything from there on out was up in the air.

After arriving in Sydney and narrowing down the few specifics of where I wanted to go, and who I wanted to see, I knew everything would just work out from there.

And for the record, it did.

As a child of nature, one thing I knew I had to do during my first trip to Australia was to go and swim at the Great Barrier Reef. I didn’t know exactly where that was, how I was going to get there, and where I was going to stay, but after talking to a few friends and doing some research I found an incredible getaway that took care of all my questions.

One & Only Hayman Island Resort came up when asking one of my travel savvy friends where would be the best place to stay to visit the Great Barrier Reef. I had never heard of this gorgeous resort, but once I saw a few of pictures I knew I had to have a “treat-yourself” pre birthday weekend at this piece of paradise.

If I’m being honest, I very rarely treat myself to luxurious experiences because growing up my family struggled financially. Yes, I travel quite often, but I tend to do everything on a budget. However, as I head into my final year in my 20’s, I knew that this was something I had to do for myself, especially being that I was going to be able to fulfill one of my top bucket list items.

So I did.

A quick train ride from The Gold Coast to Brisbane, a flight from Brisbane to Hamilton Island, and BAM, I landed at the beginning of my One & Only experience. I knew that I had set something very special up for myself, but I had no idea how truly special One & Only would turn out to be.

As soon as I got off the plane I was greeted by one of the incredible staff members from One & Only Hayman Island Resort. Sarah helped collect my bags, and brought me to the yacht, yes yacht, that would take me the hour long ride from Hamilton Island to Hayman Island. I, along with the four couples aboard, was treated to champagne, snacks, and an interesting conversation with a younger couple from The Sunshine Coast celebrating their 4 year anniversary while riding this beautiful boat. 

As we approached the island, a team of One & Only staff members waved us in, and greeted each of us personally before being taken on a private tour of the truly incredible resort. 

Think the jungle meets island luxury, and that is where I found myself in awe.

After being escorted to my beyond gorgeous suite, I started my “treat-yourself” weekend with a delicious sashimi lunch at the resorts main pool, and then was off to a Swedish Deep-Tissue Massage that was insane. My masseuse, Dheeraj Shrestha from Nepal, and who has 10 years’ experience had the hands of an angel, and after being on a number of flights healed my achy body. I left feeling beyond relaxed, and decided to go for a sunset swim in one of the resorts salt watered pools.

A feeling of peace just kind of followed me from here on out while at One & Only Hayman Island.

My first day was concluded with a delicious dinner at the resorts Italian restaurant, Amici. A glass or two of Rose, lobster pasta, and the fish of the day left me feeling perfectly satisfied as I made my way back to my suite to quickly fall into one of the best sleeps I have ever had.

Waking up on day two to the sound of Cockatoos was truly magical. My alarm on my phone usually plays a gentle jungle bird symphony, so to wake up to the real life version was beyond special. 

Once I dragged myself out of bed, I had a beautiful breakfast at Pacific, and a casual paddle board session that left me reflecting on how truly grateful I was for what I’ve made my life to be. After watching giant Trevally Fish feed at the resort's Marina, I escaped to Blue Pearl Island by speedboat to snorkel around the Great Barrier Reef. 

I could try to explain how unbelievable this experience was, but words and pictures could never do justice to how magnificent seeing the Great Barrier Reef with your own two eyes truly is. It’s an experience of a lifetime, and I will forever forget the colors, patterns, and amazing creatures that roam around this natural wonder of the world.

A hike to the top of Whitsunday’s lookout point, and a session of meditation on the beach, left me feeling beyond grateful for the days exploration. 

As if things could get more eventful, I was treated to an indulging Chef’s Table experience that happens only once a week at the resort. This dinner, which I had the pleasure of experiencing with 13 other resort guests was a decadent immersion into fine dinning. This by far was one of my favorite activities during my stay at One & Only. I left this dinner having made new friends from around the world, and engaging my senses on multiple levels. 

The night concluded with some of us heading over to Aquazure for a night cap, which lead to some incredible conversation amongst this highly diverse group of people.

Before I knew it my third and final day had come. I wrapped up my stay with one final breakfast accompanied by two of the hotels amazing senior staff, who gave me some great insight into island living and things to do in Melbourne. An hour long ride back to Hamilton Island on the resort’s luxury yacht perfectly wrapped up one of the best weekends of my life, and just like that I was off to Melbourne.

I can honestly say that my final weekend of 28 was perfect, and that this was all because of One & Only Hayman Island.

I’ve always said it isn’t so much what you see, but who you meet along the way that makes travel so interesting, and my stay at One & Only solidified this thought for me. The resort sprinkled an indescribable magic with its welcoming and relaxing vibe that allowed me to interact with some truly inspiring and beautiful souls.

I met a gorgeous newlywed Indian couple, whose “small” wedding of 600 people in Bali sounded beyond incredible, and we made a promise to see each other again. I received an open invitation to dinner whenever I’m back in Sydney by a CEO and his stylish wife, who were beyond welcoming. I connected with a younger couple, who moved out of the city to a more rural part of Australia to breathe a little easier, and give their two adorable boys a better life. I met two of the most beautiful, friendly, and successful people I’ve ever met, who just happened to be this incredible couple. I got to dine, explore, and hike with a woman, who made my stay all the more amazing, and reminded me that I’ve got this weird sixth sense for understanding people.

Overall I couldn’t have asked for a better “treat-yourself” weekend, and I will forever remember all the adventures I went on, the people I met, and my overall stay at this piece of paradise.

28 you were truly great!

Posted on March 27, 2017 .

BarrettLust: An Australian Adventure

It's like wanderlust, but my own version.

Day 1. The beginning.

While I may have made it to my ultimate promise land, Australia, it definitely didn’t come stress free.

The journey started off with a full day in NYC, where the weather was beyond perfect, and I saw some of my favorite people. I had an unexpected and interesting send off from someone very important in my life, and found myself feeling lighter than I have in a while. I can’t completely explain why I feel like this day was the end of a really big chapter in my life, but something cosmic was shifting as I prepared to leave NYC for this epic adventure.

I think it may have been that a few of my worlds were colliding, and that this has been a trip I’ve wanted to take since I was really young. I haven’t traveled this far away ever, and if I’m being completely honest, I’m hoping that I fall in love with this country as much as I have dreamt, and relocate for a while.

Add to the fact that I know I won’t be returning to the same apartment that my life had found stability in, and it becomes all the more apparent that the most important chapter in my life thus far, really is over. 

NYC is incredible, but it starts to feel small, overwhelming, and excessive for no reason. The rat race is never ending, and I think I’m just ready for something new, something different, something unknown. I’ve been craving knowledge and the opportunity to learn for some time now, and think that traveling is one of the ultimate ways to learn about life.

If I’m being honest with myself, I know that if I do return home, I won’t be coming back as the same person I left. You never can after something like this, you just understand the world a little better, which helps you understand yourself better.

Even as I sit here writing this, I’m staring at the ocean, a city, and a beach, how could you not fall in love with this?

Anyways, only time will tell what is meant to be.

Getting back to the tale at hand, I found myself rushing to pack as the minutes flew by, and I realized I needed to leave my apartment asap. Lying to myself about how bad traffic would be, and against my better judgement, I called an Uber, and finally found myself embarking on the first leg of my long journey to get to Australia. Within 5 minutes it became apparent that my Uber driver was lying to me about how congested traffic really was, and after 25 minutes not going anywhere, I decided I had to “jump ship” and get on the subway. 

At this point panic started to kick in as I was mortified I wasn’t going to actually make my flight, and miss my dream trip. I caught the subway, got to Penn Station, and had to wait 15 minutes for the next NJ Transit train to Newark. I had less than 2 hours till my flight was boarding, and this didn’t fall into the suggested 3 hour arrival time for my flight.

FUCKKKKKKKKKKK!

I’m someone who fully believes in karma, and while I was stressed about not making my flight, I knew deep down that the universe would align, and everything would work out. As it always does.

And as life would have it, I did make my flight, and a very nice woman let me cut her in line for security, which sped everything up so much that I actually was a full minute early to boarding time.

My 5 hour flight from NY to Vancouver was painless, and I ended up staying awake the whole way. It was a strategic move, so that I would be more likely to sleep the 15 hours it was going to take to get to Sydney. At my layover, I met a super friendly Canadian, Emily, while sitting at the bar doing the whole "solo traveler thing." We discussed world politics, the difference between our countries, and shared a really nice moment bonding over the desire to help heal the world in our own ways. I’ll probably never see her again, but it’s those type of interactions that stick with us, and add value to our lives.

At 11:15 pm, it was finally time to commence the final leg of this long journey, and because I had found my way to food and a new friend, as I often do, I forgot to ask the lovely people at Canada Air if they could change my seat. I’m not fussy, but sitting in the middle seat for 15 hours just didn’t sound fun, so when I did finally remember the only thing they could accommodate me with was a better middle seat that would possibly have no one next to me in the other middle seat (it was the middle row with 4 seats). 

I found my way to seat 22e, and just as I thought the coast was clear, an Aussie gal heading home sat down next to me. Being the kind gentleman I pride myself on being I offered to trade my rather comfortable middle seat with the girl in front of her, so that these two friends could sit next to each other. However, I definitely ended up trading down as I ended up next to quite a broad bloke and had one of those annoying boxes blocking my leg room. As I found myself getting slightly frustrated at this uncomfortable seat, which I had also grossly overpaid for. 

Side note: I was originally supposed to go to Australia with my then beau for the holidays, and we booked our tickets kind of last minute, so they were rather expensive, but because we broke up, we agreed it would probably be best if we didn’t take the trip together, and I would go later. The flight I was on was a lot less expensive, and I couldn’t help but feel slightly cheated at having spent so much money, and being stuck in the seat I essentially put myself in. However, I told myself that this was just more karma points, and life would pay me back.

Any who, I planned on staying up for a few more hours, so that I could sleep the majority of the flight. I lasted an hour in the air before I fell asleep watching a movie, which is something I never do. I didn’t even need to take the NyQuil I had packed to help fall asleep because I was so exhausted from being up for nearly 24 hours, and with just 3 hours to go, I woke up supremely close to my final destination, and in my mind, paradise.

One more movie watched, and bam, I had made it to Sydney! 

I have heard from countless people that Sydney is more like Los Angeles, and Melbourne is more like San Fran or New York, but coming here I promised myself that I would make my own judgements. With that said, landing in Sydney with the grey skies that have plagued the city for the past few days, it did feel a bit like Los Angeles during “June gloom.” 

However, as I drove from the airport through the city to Bondi, where I’m Airbnbing a room from a friend of a friend, I felt and saw what makes this city so magical to so many people. There is a slight European vibe to the city, and the combination of beach meets city is more prominent than anything in LA. 

I arrived at my Airbnb to meet, Nikki, who I’m renting a spare room from, and found my journey complete. The skies miraculously opened up to reveal the sun, which the forecast had not expected, and my first day in Sydney had officially begun.

Nikki was sweet enough to show me around Bondi, where we found ourselves a few hours later sitting at the beach just enjoying the sun, and it was at this moment that I knew the universe was showing me its karmic beauty. That for all the stress in getting to the airport, for the shitty seat I had to endure during my long flight, and the trials and tribulations of the past 28 years, life was smiling at me.

Here I was in Sydney, Australia enjoying the sun, which wasn’t supposed to, and hadn’t been out in a few days, talking to someone that was only a stranger a few hours ago, and truly just enjoying life. It may not sound very exciting to a lot of people, but this is the type of thing I live for. Enjoying beautiful weather, meeting new people, and experiencing a new culture. This is living.

The day was made even sweeter as I got to meet up with a bunch of Aussies and some other New Yorkers that are here celebrating Mardi Gras (Sydney’s version of Pride). It was funny to walk into a place I had never been, full of a lot of people I had never met, but have it feel somewhat familiar. Life is interesting in that way, and if nothing else I can honestly say I already love Sydney.

I’m looking forward to sharing this month’s adventure with you all, and I know it’s going to be incredible, simply for the fact that I know I have the power to make it so.

Posted on February 26, 2017 .

40 Reasons Why I Will Always Love My Exes

It’s hard to look back at past relationships, but if we do, we can eventually see that we learned a lot from them. 

This is why I will always love my exes:

  1. They taught me how to love in different ways, and that being in love will feel and look very different with different people.
  2. They taught me things I didn't know about myself, and reminded me of the things I’m sure of about myself.
  3. They taught me what my limits are, and where I draw the line.
  4. They taught me that I like flowers for no reason, and love letters written from the heart.
  5. They taught me that my love language is words of affirmations, and not acts of service.
  6. They taught me that I not only love romance, but that I need romance.
  7. They taught me that not everyone is going to understand the journey I was and am on, but I need my partner to.
  8. They taught me who I knew I could be, and who I knew I couldn’t be.
  9. They taught me to push for more, and to never settle.
  10. They taught me who I wanted to be, and who I don’t want to be.
  11. They taught me to be honest with myself, and that I can’t hide my emotions very well.
  12. They taught me that being naked is fun, and so is sharing a shower. 
  13. They taught me that I can sense a lot, and that communication is key.
  14. They taught me that I can be stubborn, but I’m willing to admit when I’m wrong.
  15. They taught me that I am not perfect, and that no one is.
  16. They taught me that saying, "I'm sorry," is very hard, but a necessary thing to learn how to do.
  17. They taught me that I have strong convictions, and I’m not willing to waiver on most of them.
  18. They taught me that I am sensitive, and that will scare some people.
  19. They taught me what I'm willing to put up with, and what I’m not.
  20. They taught me that I will not do long distance, but that I was willing to try.
  21. They taught me that I’m not attracted to jealousy, but I understand it now.
  22. They taught me what I want, and what I don’t.
  23. They taught me what I need in a relationship, and that that won’t always be met.
  24. They taught me that I have to love myself before I could love them, and that that goes both ways.
  25. They taught me that because I loved them, didn’t mean they loved themselves.
  26. They taught me that I will always have things to work on, and so will my partner. 
  27. That taught me that you can love someone, and not be in love with him forever. 
  28. They taught me that someone can love you, but not be right for you.
  29. They taught me to fall, but do it knowing that the person you love may not fall with you.
  30. They taught me that I like sharing my bed with someone, even if I don’t sleep as well.
  31. They taught me that you won’t ever fully know who someone is, even after years of dating.
  32. They taught me that I like surprises, but only good ones.
  33. They taught me that I like physical touch, and I’m not afraid of PDA.
  34. They taught me that I don’t have a type, but I know almost instantly if I’m into you.
  35. They taught me that I love love, and that love isn’t meant to be difficult.
  36. They taught me that relationships take work, but when to draw the line.
  37. They taught me that I’m looking for someone who is working on himself, and that is beyond important to me.
  38. They taught me that no matter how much I love someone, I can't force or guide someone to change if he doesn’t want to.
  39. They taught me that I’d rather play and not win, then never play at all.
  40. Ultimately, they taught me who I am, and who I am not.

Every relationship we have is a challenge sent to us for reasons we may not know at the time, but will eventually come to understand. While it would be easy to look back with frustration, anger, and bitterness at past relationships, I think it's far more productive to look back and honor the months and years we've spent with the people that we loved. 

I rather look back at the time I spent with my exes, as lessons learned then time wasted. I’d rather think that each relationship was beautiful, important, and something that enriched my life, even though it’s hard to swallow the technical failure that comes with the end, then something ugly.

It's weird to think we can share a bed with someone for years, and then never speak, but so is life. 

In the end, by not doing or giving us what we needed, we learned a lot from our exes, but by doing and giving us other things, we also learned a lot from them. It’s because of this that we must let pieces our my hearts forever belong to each one of these people, and why we will continue to let the seeds they planted, grow into a forest of love that will forever be inside of our souls and hearts.  

I dedicate this to all the lovers. May you never stop loving and learning along the way.

Posted on February 23, 2017 .

10 Quotes To Live By From 'The Alchemist'

After having everyone and their mom tell me that I should read "The Alchemist," I finally got around to it. Let me just say, I can't believe it's taken me almost 29 years to read this fantastic book, and it truly spoke to my soul. Paulo Coelho truly speaks to your soul, and reminds you of the dreams you dreamt as a child. He pushes you to ask why you haven't looked to fulfill them, and inspires you to dream again.

 If you haven't read it, than I highly recommend reading it asap. It's beyond charming, insightful, and a super quick read.

I found myself being reminded of things I preach, and had to make a note of the 10 quotes that really hit home for me. 

I hope you feel inspired by these magical words, and remember that if you aren't living your dream then you aren't really living.

Here they are:

1. “But, as time passes a mysterious force begins to convince (people) that (living you dreams) will be impossible. This mysterious force appears to be negative, but actually shows you how to realize your Personal Legend. It prepares your spirit and your will, because there is one great truth on this planet: whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it’s because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It’s your mission on earth.”

2. “If I could, I’d write a whole encyclopedia about the words luck and coincidence. It’s with those words that the universal language is written.”

3. “It’s not what enters men’s mouths that’s evil. It’s what comes out of their mouths that is.”

4. “The wise man understood that this natural world is only an image and a copy of paradise. The existence of the world is simply a guarantee that there exists a world that is perfect. God created the world so that, through its visible objects, men could understand his spiritual teachings and the marvels of his wisdom. That’s what I mean by action.”

5. “You’ll never be able to escape from your heart. So it’s better to listen to what it has to say. That way, you’ll never have to fear an unanticipated blow.”

6 “Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself. And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second f the search is a second’s encounter with God and with eternity.”

7. “I have inside of me the winds, the deserts, the oceans, the stars, and everything created in the universe. We were all made by the same hand, and we have the same soul.”

8. “Love is the force that transforms and improves the Soul of the World…It is we who nourish the Soul of the World, and the world we live in will be either better or worse. And that’s where the power of love comes in. Because when we love, we always strive to become better than we are.”

9 “‘But this payment goes well beyond my generosity,’ the monk responded. Don’t say that again. Life might be listening, and give you less the next time.”

10. “No matter what he does, every person on earth plays a central role in the history of the world. And normally he doesn’t know it.”

May you find you be reminded of your Personal Legend that you were so sure of as a child, and feel free to chase it wherever it may take you. 

Check out my kit of mindful books here: MINDFUL READING

Posted on February 22, 2017 .

An Open Thank You Letter To Milo Yiannopoulos

Dear Milo,

I want to start this letter out by saying thank you. 

Thank you for reminding me why I do what I do. Thank you for reminding me that even when I get tired, exhausted, and feel like there’s no point in writing another piece because I may never meet the people that they positively affect, I know I have to.

People like you are why so many of us live in fear, and why the LGBTQ community constantly has to fight uphill.

You don’t represent us, and you don’t have any right to claim you’re a member of this accepting community.

You think it’s cute, charming, and funny to attack pretty much anyone, but it’s not. You thought you could ride this train all the way to the bank, and while you’ve made more money than I believe you should’ve, it’s clear you’re going down quickly.

I hope you’ve been saving because your fifteen minutes are about to expire.

You’re a troll, and trolls eventually have to go back under the bridge from which they came because the ugliness that you spew will not be accepted, tolerated, or given a platform. 

More and more companies are not willing to make a quick buck, and as we continue to protest hateful speech and actions, more companies will have to follow suit. The majority of people around the world have spoken, and you’re old news.

To be honest, I kind of hate that I even took time out of my day to write this letter, but I feel this needs to be said on behalf of all the people you’ve offended and deeply hurt in so many ways.

Your words and actions have consequences, and you are finally reaping what you’ve sowed.

The frustrating part behind your whole shtick is that I don’t even believe, you believe most of the ignorant garbage you spew. If you do, then I feel even more badly for you.

It’s hard to watch someone like you rise to notoriety quickly because you don’t deserve to be a household name, but you found the easy formula to make a quick buck, get your fifteen minutes, and have what I call the “quick explosion.” 

The thing about the “quick explosion” is that it never lasts, you weren’t thoughtful, mindful, and dedicated to lifting people up, which comes with a slow burn. Slow burns take time, care, and require a lot of saying no to opportunities that aren’t right, but you wouldn’t understand that. A slow burn means you’ve made a positive impact, people respect you, and want to continue to see you succeed. A slow burn has lasting power, and you’re on your way out.

You’re a puppet, a cheap form of entertainment, and a phony. You saw an easy in as the token Breitbart gay, and that is how we will remember you. A sellout. 

As I sit and right this piece, you’ve already been banned from Twitter, had one of your books canceled, and you’ve resigned from Breitbart, which I’m sure you’re going to try and turn into a victimized story to make another quick buck. We’re not having it, we don’t care about your career, and more and more people will start to forget who you are.

You’ve made your bed, you’ve showed the world who you really are, and we will accept you as the person you’ve wanted to be known as. 

If you’re as smart and manipulative as I think you are, than you have a chance to now use your platform to champion for the very people you fought against. I don’t think many people will accept a quick change of heart from you, so now you have the opportunity to start rebuilding. If I may be candid, it might be best for you to disappear from the public eye for a while because no matter how you try and spin this your actions will not feel sincere.

It’s people like you who truly test the person I claim to be because it’s really hard to sit here, and try to end this on a kind and positive note. However, if I can continue to be a positive example for others then I have to say, I still wish you well. I hope you take time to reflect on the really poor choices you’ve made, and understand that you are unconscious, and you need to wake up quickly.

You’ve helped pushed an extremely dangerous agenda with very serious ramifications, and you can’t just walk away from this. You’e been a talking head for very ignorant, backwards thinking, and delusional politicians because you had dollar signs in your eyes. I truly hope you find the light one day, and try to make an amends for all you have done, but I hope it’s done behind the scenes where we don’t have to look at you.

Cheap tricks are cheap tricks, and while I will continue to try and love everyone, I don’t have to like you.

I want to say thank you again for reminding me of who I don’t want to be, and being an example for so many impressionable minds of what not to do. I hope more people come out of the metaphorical closet because of you to show what real gay men look like. 

And as a final sentiment, I’m grateful for you because you’ve reignited my passion to champion for those who don’t have a public voice, and can’t say what needs to be said to lost souls like you.

I think I can confidently say this on behalf of a lot of people, “Good grief. It’s about time you got what you had coming to you. And one last thing, Honey, I can recommend some really good hairstylists because yours has jacked you up.” Now may you rest in peace wherever it is you end up, and find the soul that I know is hidden somewhere deep inside of you.

Thank You Again,

Barrett

P.S. Take a look at the picture above, that guy to the right of me, Mr. Vice President Biden, is what a real leader, and LGBTQ ally looks like. He is the reason why us gays can get married. You should think about thanking him sometime soon.