Good Morning Vietnam!

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Wowza…

This past week has been a crazy one for sure. I am currently writing from a fabulous cafe in downtown Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It is 95°F so getting away from the heat for a while to get some writing done is surely a treat. So far, Vietnam has been beyond fabulous and I am taking in and observing the culture day by day.

I’ve been eating spectacular food, tending to jet-lag, navigating the language barrier, and riding motorbikes all across the city, which is crazy by the way! The Vietnamese do not fool around when it comes to traffic!

While I am AFK(Away from keyboard), you can find me on Instagram at @clayton_gerard if you would like to follow my adventures!

Until my next post, tạm biệt!

Why Being a Quitter Is Okay

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I’ve been thinking a lot recently about quitting. The other night, I pulled out my sketch pad and wrote down the word “quit”. I followed by surrounding the written word with a collection of other words and phrases that I associate with the word quit.

Stop, Cessation, End, Change, Power, Determination, Value, Worth,

Options.

I paused to reflect on these words. I thought about these words collectively and then went back to “quitting.” I wondered why we have decided that being a quitter is associated with qualities of being weak, a coward, lazy, unmotivated, etc. In reality, quitting something is an act of power.

I’m a believe in systems. I believe that this world is chock-full of countless of systems, many yet undiscovered that fit our souls very differently. I think that certain systems may light someone’s fire while the other may be a metaphorical fire-hydrant.

Quitting SOmething Is A Proclamation Of your Value

You are worth something. You have enough personal worth where you have the option to decide if a something impacting your life is something worth continuing. I see so many peers of mine let their surroundings control their happiness in which they remain in to ultimately please someone else.  If something is taking the energy away from being your true you, it is more than okay to remove that part of your life to focus on the things that will illuminate your soul in a more radiant light.

you’re not bound to a contract, are you?

Many of the elements of life that are thrown our way are not contract-bound. Are you in a job where you spend your morning commute in complete agony requiring personal pep-talks?(Trust me, I’ve been there.) Are you in a relationship that requires you to stay quiet? Are you attending University to please your parents?

While yes, many of these do have financial incentives, we have the beauty of being able to put in your “two weeks”, not signing up for classes the following semester, and a paper and pen to write your breakup letter. You cannot live a life that expects you to work without a contract. If the case that you are under contract, I would hire a lawyer.

I wish we all had it figured out on day one

Life would be incredibly easy and also extremely boring if we just made decision after decision without changing our course of life. I believe that life at any point contains an optimal fork-in-the-road we are always available to take if we want to yell “uncle”. What decisions you have made in your past may have felt like the best decision on day one. It’s okay to tell yourself that it is time to change from your original plan.

Quitting is not a sign of weakness.

Quitting is a sign of strength. How many times have you associated the word “quitting” with a negative connotation? How about focusing on quitting the negative forces in your life. Strength is quitting school because you don’t want to be bound to a career for your life. Strength is quitting a smoking addiction because you want to save your life. Strength is quitting a relationship where you began to compromise yourself to compliment someone else. Quitting is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of strength.

I also believe in endurance

Quitting something to better your life is not to be confused with endurance. Life is not a walk in the park at times and there will be times that your decisions may not have felt like the best option and you do want to quit. I believe you should endure your situation in which your soul will speak to you and tell you whether or not something is worth continuing.

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In closing

Quitting something is noting your value in this world. We spend our entire life making decisions and if we had every single thing figured out, life would seem flavorless without curveballs to be thrown our way. Do not allow yourself to feel bound to any part of your life regardless of your age. Life is full of options, even after you’ve began to travel down a certain path, there will always be a diversion available when you are ready to make that next choice.

The world is waiting for you. Be bold.

Wicker Park, Chicago

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Chicago holds a special place in my heart. Chicago is where I first fell in love with urban culture. Chicago is where I began to crave fast paced energy and being surrounded by people who come from all walks of life.

I have been visiting and exploring Chicago on my own for the past couple of years. I wanted to make sure in 2016 that I began to broaden my horizons and start exploring the surrounding neighborhoods. Back in March I didn’t have anything fancy planned, so I booked my train ticket, three nights at a hostel in Wicker Park and I was off the following morning.

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After I stepped foot on the pavement at Union Station, I purchased my three day Ventra Pass and caught up with Tiffany at Millennium Park. We made our way to the blue line and were only a few stops from the Damen station which is located right in the center of Wicker Park.

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For my three-night stay, I chose IHSP Chicago. I had always wanted to try staying in a hostel, especially that I have an international trip to Vietnam coming up in May. I have so much to say on how amazing IHSP Chicago is! I’ll have to save my review for an entirely different post.

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I do have to make note though that this was the view of the skyline from the fantastic rooftop deck at the hostel. We spent most nights chatting with people who flocked to the city from various states and countries!

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Speaking of international friendships made on our trip, one in particular was Sebastian who had travelled all the way from Germany and has been venturing across Cuba and the US! One day, Tiffany, Sebastian and I hopped on the bus and made our way to Lincoln Park where we explored the neighborhood, got thai food, and even snuck into the Law Building at Northwestern U.

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If you’re hungry and are on a budget, I recommend stopping in at 5411 Empanadas which actually has multiple locations throughout the city! You can get an empanada as cheap as $2.50 and they’re super yummy! Well done, 5411.

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Secondly, if you’re looking to grab a cup of joe, look no further than The Wormhole on N. Milwaukee which has a very 80’s theme to it’s establishment. Yes folks, that definitely is a real life-size Delorean in the background. 

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…and of course, I couldn’t pass up visiting one of my favorite stores, Buffalo Exchange! My wallet was a little too welcoming to Buffalo Exchange as well. I did leave with some fabulous finds though!

Photo from clayton_gerard

Before I knew it, it was six o’ clock, Friday evening and I was heading back to Kalamazoo to finish off my Spring break. I had not been really having a healthy relationship with the city of Chicago lately and I was starting to feel like the town had become lackluster. Shaking things up and exploring a new part of town really proved me wrong and I am so glad I gave this town another chance. My love for Chicago burns in my soul again and really reminded me where I fell in love with the city in the first place. With that, have a wonderful week!

Question: Is there a specific city that resonates with you or holds a special place in your heart? Leave a comment down below; I’d love to hear your responses!

8 Dock Shop.

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2016 has really been about tackling side projects that had made its way to various pages in my sketchbook and then onto a lengthy to-do list that I always wrote off as “I’ll do it when I’m ready.”

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Our minds can always convince us that now is not the right time, but sometimes when we just take that leap, the other side just glows in technicolor!

I had toyed with the idea of opening a shop for my print-work for a while. My biggest concern was deciding on what platform I would use to sell my work. I searched through Etsy, BigCartel, and even eCommerce on my own page but none really spoke to me enough to settle into one home in cyberspace.

This all changed when I found Society6. Society6 allows you to upload your own artwork and easily apply it to various different products such as throw-pillows, iPhone cases, wall-clocks, tote bags, and even shower curtains!

The site has definitely suited all of my needs currently in running an online store and with that I am beyond excited to announce the launch of my online store, 8 Dock!

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With that in mind, the store currently is running a worldwide free shipping until midnight, April 3rd! This is no April fools! Also while we’re at it, wall tapestries are also 15% off! All you have to do is click the “shop now” button below this post and it will take you to the store!

Spring Cleaning For The Soul

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Happy Spring Equinox!

With the arrival of a new season, we have yet again another point of measurement to begin change. Specifically, Spring is a season that is for rebirth, growth, and starting a new. I like being able to have the Spring equinox to serve as a reference to start something new and abandon the things that are not working for us. We all know the term “Spring Cleaning” which I spent all weekend performing. I cleaned my kitchen, did the laundry that was piling up my room, and opened up my windows for some fresh air.

As I spent all weekend focusing on the physical and all I could observe visually, I forgot to observe what was going on internally.

How Do You Feel?

Simple question. How are you currently feeling right in this moment. After you answer that, ask yourself how you feel in general. How have you felt the last few weeks? Are you happy? Do you feel powerful? Do you feel defeated? Determine if how you are feeling right in this moment consistent with how you feel on a daily basis.

How Do YOu Want TO Feel?

If how you want to feel does match how you are currently feeling, ask yourself how you want to feel. Do you want to feel love? Do you want to feel power? Do you want to feel calm? The key to this exercise is not to jump the gun. Keep your answer constricted to this simple question. Do not think about how you’re going to get that feeling. Just ask yourself how you want to feel.

What’s working in your life?

I think it is firstly important to assess what is currently working in your life. What systems have you implemented are you currently practicing that keeps your mind at ease? Are you doing daily meditations? Are you exercising multiple times a week? Ultimately, you should ask yourself what actions are you taking that are making you feel the way that you want to feel.

What’s not working in your life?

Now it’s time to answer the not as easy question; what isn’t working in your life. There could be an outside force that is preventing you from reaching your best potential. It may be time to change your course. It may be your career, your relationship, or your daily habits that are keeping you from that coveted feeling of yours. I would take time to analyze the things that are holding you back and then pin pointing the root cause of the problem. You can then ask yourself if it is worth the energy to repair, or kick that problem to the curb and move on to adopting habits that will feed your soul.

Clear The visual BLOCK.

It seems a bit contradictory to say that cleansing the soul is about what’s on the inside rather than the outside. On the contrary, there is a connection between the two. The mind functions better when your surroundings are organized. How can you expect your life to be in order if your closet isn’t. It’s time to fill your trash bags and do a little bit of purging. Get rid of the things that you promised yourself you would find a use for the last time you cleaned your home. Once everything is in order, that will be the Springboard to internalize order in your spirit and soul.

Try Something new.

If it feels like you are at an impasse with taking the next step in your soulful journey, I think it is necessary to try something different. We are all such complex human beings with entirely different perspectives by each and every person. What may work for you, may not work for your friend which is why despite any advice, you should open yourself to many different systems that may result in an outcome you didn’t think was possible to help you grow.

 

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In closing

In the turn of a new season, it is freeing to let your mind believe it is on a clean slate. With that mindset, you can cease to let outside forces control your life and let your being make the decisions. Big decisions are completely overwhelming and feel risky a lot of the time, but with big risk comes big return. Don’t look back and keep moving forward towards how you want to feel.

Stay steady. It’s going to be okay.