Live From Onehunga: John & How to Challenge, Strengthen Beliefs

While attending a church in Auckland, New Zealand, I met John Nash. 

John is a solid legend. He is young, works under the son, is married and has a handsome new baby boy. Oh, and for fun, he studies philosophy and theology. For these reasons and more. John quickly became one of my favorite people to talk with.  It also helps that he is a guy who is always down to grab a cuppa or a pint. 

Over the course of our friendship, we had plenty of meetups to chat about the various ongoings of our lives. Near the beginning of our hangouts, one of these pint nights stuck with me. 

Just after meeting up, we stopped at a bookstore adjacent to our spot. John told me about his desire to learn the opposite of what he’d be taught. In fact, he searched for it. John believed that there’s no way he could be right about every single thing, right? So why not listen to the other side of his beliefs. 

So John walked in and said to the book store worker, “I am a conservative, straight, white male. Could you please give me something written by someone is the opposite of me?”

BOLD

John has a knack for challenging himself. He knows not people have truths to teach him, just as much as he has truths to share. He uses this challenging of self to expand and strengthen his beliefs. 

In an era where people would choose to stick to their communities of thought, John makes a point of it to search for the different. Not everything he learns changes his beliefs, but he does become a more understanding person as well as a more confident person. 

I am so happy to chat with John about this idea of challenging himself, his new role as a pastor, and his recommendations for others. 

This episode is found on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and right on this link. 

Enjoy! 

2020: My Phrase of the Year in Review

For those of you who followed my blog at the beginning of the year I announced my phrase of the year, which is linked below.

Because, obviously all of you remember it, let’s say it together, with charisma: SHOW ME SOME (FLUFFY) PASSION!

It was quite a good one if you ask me. 

As this year is coming to a close, I figure it’s time to review my phrase and how I applied it throughout the year. However, this year wasn’t quite like other years. So…

Like much of the world, I spent plenty of time in lockdown doing my part to save my little piece of the world by staying at home. Of course, like many others I spent a lot of that time with my good friend, Netflix. The selection of shows on New Zealand Netflix is pretty good! 

If Netflix was my passion, I followed it down every genre they offer.
Thankfully, I have more passions than Netflix.

Other things I did while the world was in timeout include creating a photography studio. Studio KBC, as I like to call it, started because of a flood. After a series of hard rainy days in Christchurch, the room I was living in with five other individuals began to flood. Eek! 

As I helped empty bag after bag out of the room, we were all grateful to see nothing of consequence was ruined by the water. When we took out the carpeted tile pieces on the ground, I began to see how empty the room was. Then I noticed the room was quite long as well. This triggered an idea for me. 

You see, a month or two before this, I called, emailed, and stopped by a local photographers office for a job. It was a studio gig that I was excited about purely because the idea of working in a studio is an experience I lack. Despite my persistence, I didn’t get the position. 

Ultimately, in a phone conversation the photographer told me my photos lack creativity. 

And I took that personally! 

As I stood in the empty wet room, I thought to myself, this is my studio. The water was drained, but no one was allowed to live in there any longer. I took the opportunity to find all the black sheets and blankets in the hostel. Then I found all the clips and I wasn’t offered the job in the studio, but I was going to make my own. 

Creativity is my passion. I was definitely on track here.

Oh, I didn’t stop there. During the six weeks, I emailed about 300 different companies, yes, 300, asking them if they were in need of a photographer. You know how many decided to hire me? Guess!

Zero. Literally None. 

Did that deter me? No. Alright, maybe a little, but I’m a resilient person. 

Turns out, the hostel I was living in enjoyed the pictures I posted on my personal instagram and offered me an opportunity to do the same for them. The owner then introduced me to other companies who needed a photographer and web designer for their company. I showed myself some fluffy passion, and became a travel photographer. Something that was only a dream for such a long time. 

My vocation as a photographer is a passion and I followed through on it.

I didn’t only have passion in my professional life. I showed some passion in my spiritual life as well. Previous to the pandemic, I attended a great little church in Christchurch. They were a giving church, always trying to help the people in their city. I loved it. 

However, someone else told me about a church called Majestic. I searched for them on instagram. Cuz bruh, its 2020, and that’s a new standard for me when looking at churches. 

I was pleasantly surprised to find some of the most creative content I’ve seen in New Zealand. Not just for a church or organization, but just in general. Whoever does it for them there, does a fantastic job. I also saw that they were going to have Erwin McManus as a guest speaker. Mr. McManus is the pastor of Mosaic church in Hollywood that I listen to very often. After seeing that, you could call me a fish, because I was hooked! 

I sincerely apologize for that pun. It was bad, very bad. 

When I arrived I met artists. Plenty of them. Photographers, dancers, performers. I was in a haven for children who wanted to explore hip hop, young people who wanted to sing, and adults who wanted to create murals. It was amazing to see a church be so creatively forward. It was almost like the catholic churches of hundreds of years ago. The ones with major stain glass and sculpture work, except in a modern society.

My faith is my passion. So yes, I showed my passion there too.

I only found this church because I pursued my passion. The commitment to the pursuit of it showed me something new in multiple areas of my life. That’s what following a passion does.

Passion leads you to the unexpected.
Passion shows you what you didn’t know existed.
Passion takes you where you didn’t know you needed to be. 

In a year where so many things have happened, none of which went as we may have expected, I was able to thrive in this pursuit. I showed plenty of fluffy passion this year. Though, if I’m honest, I feel like I could have shown more passion on some days. However, I’m happy with that which I’ve shown. 

I can move into 2021 more confident in my ability to show passion than I was a year ago. 

Now…time to think of a new phrase. 

Live From Avani Residences: Yarbash & His Permanent Residency Journey

Upon my arrival in New Zealand I knew I needed to meet people in order to thrive. When you’re in a new country your comfort level is directly related to the amount of friends you make. You experience an adjustment period with any move. Finding people willing to walk with you during that time makes that heaps better. 

One of those people who helped me find friends was Yarbash. 

I joined a meetup group, which is both a positive and negative for me. I’m great at meeting people…when in small groups. So going to a meetup where I would learn 30+ people would show up was overwhelming, yet good for me at the same time. Thankfully, Yarbash is much better at meeting people in large numbers than I. 

I distinctly remember laughingly telling him, “Don’t introduce me to everyone, because I cannot handle that. Instead filter out some people. That’ll help me get to know different people better!” 

Over time, Yarbash and I became friends and I was able to learn more about his life. Yarbash has traveled from India to New Zealand to start a different life. Emphasis on different, because as he mentions in the podcast, it’s not necessarily better. Part of the reason is because in order to secure this better life, he had to leave his wife and child behind. 

In this episode of The Live From Podcast! Yarbash and I talk about his home city and country, his journey to New Zealand, and where he is in the process securing permanent residency for his family and him. 

For Episode 1.02 click HERE and enjoy either in browser for find it on Spotify or Apple Podcasts 🙂

 

I’m Back in the US!…Now what?

It’s December 1st as I start to write this. I’m in Sacramento, California and just a few short months ago, I did not expect to be here. 

Coincidentally, I mentioned to my sister in January that it would be very cool to be with the family this year for the Christmas holiday. You see, because of jobs, traveling, and moving to another state, I physically been with my whole family on Christmas Day in eight years. 

That’s quite the streak if you ask me. 

In that discussion with my sister, I spoke while I was celebrating a birthday on a hike in Wanaka, New Zealand. I knew that in late October of this year, both my brother in law and sister would be celebrating their 40th. (Happy belated birthday!) Our father would be celebrating his 60th in mid December. (Happy early birthday dad). And finally, my 30th would come mid January. 

To me, spending a portion of December celebrating all of those birthdays and a Christmas seemed like the perfect combination! I spoke that idea thinking that I would have a job by then that would pay me enough to afford a round trip flight to California. 

However, plans changed!

Less than two months later, I was enclosed with 27 of the best people to be stuck with during a global pandemic. Stunningly, I didn’t know a single one of them more than a month before we spent lockdown together. Yet somehow, it was perfectly splendid. 

Once the locked ended in New Zealand, I started working. Putting my talents to work for various companies, I was taking my photography to anyone who would look at it. A local wine bar said yes to hosting an exhibition for my art! I found my way into a conversation with a member of the board of directors at the Art’s Centre in Christchurch. After the discussion, we agreed to photography studio operated by me. A studio of my own! What a dream come true.

However, plans changed.

Once I found out I needed to leave New Zealand, it was less than 12 hours that I had a fully fleshed out plan about leaving the country. It didn’t come easily. I spent plenty of time thinking and feeling the stress of booking a flight quickly. I received two potential offers for sponsorship on a working visa and therefore staying in New Zealand. But, just like I mentioned, earlier in the year I spoke my desire to be with my family this holiday. I had a feeling that I would need to be here. My sister was having a baby, and I would very much like to be present for that. 

The idea was come stay with my family through the holidays, then head back to my home in Denver for my birthday. I would search continuously for a job in Alaska, because my next adventure is to be the Pan American Highway, something I’ve spoken about with friends previously. 

However…plans changed.

Now, as I mentioned, I find myself sitting in my sister’s living room in South Sacramento, fully intent on staying in the area until summer; much longer than my original plan. I’ve started a job as a studio photographer. It’s not my studio, but it’s a studio nonetheless! I’m excited. 

I was fortunate to spend Thanksgiving with my family. Within a few days, I’ll be spending my first Christmas with the same loved ones. As I mentioned, it’s the first time since 2012. I don’t know if Santa brings presents at my age. Nevertheless, I’m excited.

As you know by now, I have The Live From Podcast which debuted last week! It’s thrilling for me to create something fresh and new. It’s one thing I didn’t find myself committing to until a friend said, “What are you waiting for, hit the record button now.” Truthfully, I’m excited.

 

So, to answer the question ‘what IS next?’ Well, right now, to be honest, the answer is both simple and complex, simultaneously. Part of the answer is I don’t fully know. The other part is I’m going to live out the plan I spoke out in January.

Right now, I’m going to be right here.

I had some great things going for me in New Zealand. However, things changed, as they do. Now, I have some different great things going for me in California. 

But I still have my eye on that Pan American Highway…

Introducing: The Live From Podcast!

One compliment I often receive is that my voice could be on a podcast. Some people even go further and say even my face was made for radio!

I taught English as a second language for a year and lived with a variety of citizens from other countries. If there’s one thing I’ve gained from those experiences, it’s speaking with a slower cadence and pronouncing my words more clearly. These traits combined made me a decent conversationalist for many non-native English speakers.

So this alone makes me qualified to have a podcast! (sarcasm intended)

I was previously making vlogs and posting them on my blog to work on video creating and editing. It was a blast. So much fun to create video content. I failed in so many ways, it was magical! I learned so much and have much more respect for those YouTube personalities.

When the lockdown of New Zealand happened in March, just like for many people, it halted everything in my life at that point.

Including my vlogging and blogging.

Despite my lack of online content, I created in other ways. I gave my photography commitment, which led to job opportunities. I spent more time playing the guitar. I spent much of my uni years learning instruments, so it felt nostalgic to play music again.

As time progressed, I started to crave creating something online yet again! That’s where this podcast idea came to mind. Spending lockdown with 28 other individuals all stuck together for about 6 weeks, you start having deeper conversations about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness.

You also have conversations about who has a crush on who.

 

As we all separated our different ways, I still wanted to have these similar conversations with the new people I interacted with. As the lockdown was lifted and I felt freer, I felt encouraged to start creating something new again.

Inspired by conversations, interesting facts about others, and traveling around New Zealand, I decided to create a podcast. If you think about it, pretty much everyone has a podcast these days, so why not make my own!

I mean…people say I have the voice for it.

So without further ado, allow me to introduce The Live From Podcast!

(Feel free to ooh and aah. Applause is also acceptable.)

What you’ll be hearing throughout this series are many different conversations. Some that are hilarious, some that are informational, others may be even encouraging. Each episode is unique as the individual(s) I’m speaking with. Most of which will be very easy to listen to as I attempt to keep them between 20-30 minutes.

Each episode that comes out will come with a companion post on my blog. I’ll post it for your reading pleasure just as the podcast will be posted for your listening pleasure. If you decide to subscribe just to the podcast on whichever app you listen to them, the blog will be unique and simply add information to the episode and can be read either before or after.

 

In this first episode, I have a guest host! Yes, you heard me correctly, a guest host!

Since you’ll constantly hear me asking questions to my guests, I thought it would be a great idea to start season one by someone asking me questions and set the record straight on what to expect with this podcast and the inspiration for it.

I have an excellent guest host on this episode: Juan Chavez. He is a father of three, married for 16 years, and engineer for 22 years. I am pleased to have him as my guest host. He is one of the most inquisitive people I know; excellent at tracking conversations and asking the right questions to further a topic. He is a great conversationalist and intellectual making him the perfect person to speak with.

He also happens to be the best brother-in-law I could’ve been given.

Are your ears ready? Because I’m excited to share this project with you. You can click this link here: https://anchor.fm/thelivefrompodcast and it’ll take you to my distributor Anchor. There you can click play to start the podcast or click on the icon for Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or any of the other ways to listen. Though you can simply just search for the podcast, it’ll be easier to find it via my link.

 

Oh, oh, oh. Don’t forget to subscribe on wherever you listen to podcasts!