a letter to myself.

An obnoxious, ear bleeding alarm noise blares off at 5:30am. A teasing game of back and forth is played between the warmth of the blankets, softness of the pillow, and my desire to get up. A side saying “yes”, the other saying “no”. One muscle movement at a time. Both eyes open. One limb after another. A great yawn the size of a black hole that could engulf all of present reality and spit it out into a new dimension. A big stretch. Shortly thereafter, the organism named “Ivan” is up from bed and ready to start the day.

It is a crisp, fall day on October 28, 2028. In the beautiful outskirts, just 30 minutes away from New York City. Or was it Portland, Oregon? Maybe Boston. No it might have been Boulder, Colorado. It was Seattle. No no were we in San Fransisco? Clearly, I cannot remember. I have been blessed with an opportunity to travel and live in countless cities, countries, and continents. Due to this, I have seen a lot but it also makes it difficult to remember all of the spaces I have lived in. Regardless, the spaces that usually host me during my travels are a reasonable distance away from a major city. Somewhere near a mountain or a large body of water.  A simple, minimal space that offers privacy, serenity, and the beauty of living by beautiful nature. But also provides an option for fun, invigorating nights in the city with friends and family. A healthy balance between my introvert and extroverted sides.

The day begins as normal. Wake up at 5:30am, brush my teeth, put gym clothes on, kiss my girlfriend, then head out the door. The first task is to complete my “physical activity of the day”. Each day is assigned an activity such as yoga, running, walking, or weights session. Today, the activity of the day is walking. It is a short 5 minute drive over to my favorite spot to walk in. A 10 mile boardwalk by a large, picturesque bay in a quaint neighborhood. It eerily resembles Island Heights, a boro in Toms River, NJ, which was the location where most of my early thoughts of self discovery, of my life, of my path were formed. The hours spent walking up and down Island Heights were therapeutic sessions. It was transformative. Morning walks are always accompanied by a podcast. A quick summary of the important news of the day is first. Followed by a thought-provoking or creatively inspiring podcast. Usually from the Joe Rogan Experience, the Tim Ferris Show, Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations, or something completely random. This routine activates and prepares both body and the mind for the day ahead.

Now that the physical activity of the day is out-of-the-way, time for the next important task – writing in my journal. Similar to walking by the water, writing in a journal is also therapeutic in its own regards. It is an opportunity to get in touch with yourself. How are you feeling this morning? Are you energized? Are you excited for the day? Or is there something that is making you nervous? Maybe an important meeting later? Everyday is a new day, with new emotions and thoughts. It is essential to keep track of our daily thoughts. We have to understand how they affect our life. A key part of my writing are my daily mantras. These were developed shortly after being hired as an admissions counselor at Georgian Court University. Life was confusing, stressful, dynamic during those days. But also exciting and fun in many ways. The mantras were a way to live by a certain code of ethics. A list to remind myself – live life the way I want to. Since then, they have been a guideline in my journey as I continue to pave my way through this thing called life.

A normal amount of 1 to 2 hours can be spent writing in my home office. Once complete, I head into my room to shower and get myself ready. Within this time, my girlfriend and I also catch each other up on whatever we have going on today. Listening to her thoughts and plans as I am pulling up my dark, maple shade chinos and buttoning a lightweight J Crew button down shirt. A charcoal gray overcoat and all white Common Projects are the choices for today. She approves of the look as I finish lacing up the sneakers. She always harps on the simplicity, sharpness, and detail oriented attention I place on the articles of clothing being worn for the day. Although, she is no slouch when it comes to personal style. Her style is clean but daring. Most importantly, she is unapologetically herself. It is one of the things I love the most about her. She knows who she is, who she is not, and who she can or cannot be. She constantly strives to be the best she can be in everything she does, everyday. There are many days when she fails, as I do too. But together, we push each other to be the best individuals we can be. Helping us become the best couple we can possibly be.

Shortly after getting dressed, I am out the front door. The drive into the city can sometimes be chaotic but it is a price I am willing to pay. I have spent numerous years during my 20’s living in cities. Yes, those days were certainly lively and fun. But I am in a different stage of my life. When I was 25 years old, I remember certain nights out in bars and clubs when I would randomly think to myself, “I hope I no longer find myself in these places when I am 10 years older”. At 35 years old, I can proudly say to my young self that he can be proud of who I have become. My nights are now spent in more low-key environments. Usually at a friend’s loft for a dinner party, a book release, an art gallery exhibit, or a jazz show. My girlfriend, friends, and I will turn back the hands of time and muster up the energy for a night of bar hopping in the city occasionally. But nowadays, we much prefer eating dinner and having drinks on my balcony overlooking the water. Ironically, that is the exact plan for tonight. But first, work.

My cozy office is located a few minutes from downtown. In a lively area full of art, energy, and hipsters carrying around green monster kale shakes. When I am asked about what I do nowadays, I simply give a brief overview of the project which is attracting all of my attention currently. Through the years, I have continued to explore my passions and interests. Which allowed me to have a foot in various fields. Working alongside different people in the fields of style, writing, design, tech, etc. After investments and stocks, my main source of income today is writing. I am now working on my second book. One year after releasing my first, a New York Times Best Seller. Somehow, I have managed to create a career in which I was paid for my thoughts and not for the amount of hours I spent at work. During this time, e-mails are answered, phone calls are made, conversations are had, meetings are completed.

On a typical day, I will leave the office anytime between 4 to 6pm. Sometimes I will stay much later and other times leave early. It all depends on the amount of work there is to do in that specific instance. Every day is a new day. Today, I close up at 4:30pm. I decide to stop at my coffee shop before going home. Here365 at 365 Washington St., 20 minutes outside of the city. It is a sunny but cold fall day so naturally, the space is vibrant. People from various ethnicities and backgrounds are gathered in one space. All sharing a moment in time when they are all together at this exact moment. A moment that is likely to never occur again in the future. This idea does not even cross the minds of those occupying the space. Many are immersed in their conversations about their day. Some blinded and distracted by the love they currently feel for their significant other, sitting directly across. Others are buried in the mount of work preventing them from calling it and going home. Everybody is here for a reason. We, at Here365, are here to enhance your experience in our space regardless of what brought you here right now.

The coffee shop is not too spacious but not too cramped, just the right size. Shades of the Earth dominate the color palette. It is colorful but easy on the eyes. The aesthetic is minimal, meaningful, and intentional but also daring. There is a rustic feeling that emanates from the furniture, art work, and overall design of the space. The soft music being played in the background is eclectic. However, hearing some Red Garland, Bon Iver, Sam Smith, Vance Joy, Daniel Caesar, and The Internet is almost a guaranteed possibility. From 6am to 9pm on every weekday, the shop is inhabited by people craving for coffee, pastries, sandwiches, and bubble tea. Some people come here for the morning yoga sessions. Others use the space to finish work projects or for impersonal meetings. Everyday Friday starting from 6pm, the weekend crowd begins to come around. During the weekend evening hours, alcohol is served at the bar. The shop transitions from a social work place to a social evening gathering. There are groups playing jenga and other board games. Some gather by the bar, like a herd of animals replenishing themselves by a watering hole in the middle of a desert. Often, there are spoken word, poetry, or jazz artists performing for a crowd in an intimate setting. The space does not simply serve one specific function. It can be whatever one desires it to be. Anybody can stop by in the morning for a cup of coffee on the way to work. Then, return for lunch with a client to meet about a possible business opportunity. Finally, come back later at night to let loose and grab some drinks with friends. It is more than a coffee shop. Coffee is just one aspect that is available for patrons. Here365 is designed to be a space where social groups can gather, to create one big community formed and supported by smaller communities.

It is normal to find myself and my girlfriend entertaining our friends and family at Here365 on any given night. Those nights are extremely special. I hold these conversations, debates, and moments we share together close to my heart. But tonight is different. The location for tonight’s gathering is on my 2nd floor balcony, another open but intimate space. There are no barriers blocking the view from the balcony to the nearby large body of water. The warmth radiating from the outdoor heater creates a cozy feeling when contrasted against the cool breeze of the wind. Each and every sunset is breathtaking to say the least. Moments full of quiet optimism for the future, gratitude for the present, and a belief in living a meaningful life always manages to overtake us when watching the sun setting in the distance.

Life is simply a collection of moments. Some are positive. Many are negative. Few are life changing. Regardless, the moments we spend while maneuvering our way through life all add up. Our identities are shaped by them. Luckily, I have learned to live within each moment. To make the best out of anything. What happens is not important – the key is in the way we react to what happens. Control the things you can control.

 

Best,

Ivan

 

 

 

progress.

 

My life is in a very positive space right now. Perhaps the best it has been in a while or maybe ever. I cannot remember a time when I have felt this good – mentally, physically, and spiritually.

I do not have everything I would like to have. I do not have my own apartment. I am still making just enough to survive every month and still have some fun. I do not have a six-pack. I still cannot run or jump because of my torn Achilles. I do not have a girlfriend. I have not been romantically involved with a woman in a long time. I have an idea of the life I want to build but I do not have a clue to how I will get there. Regardless, I am happy with where I am in life right now.

Living at home gives me an opportunity to spend time with my parents. As I get older, they are also aging. I am simply trying my best to enjoy this time I have with them. I still feel like their son but we have also developed a friendship. It feels freeing to have the chance to be open with your parents. We talk about anything and everything. From our family history, to our jobs, to me getting super drunk last night and needing to sleep all day today. My job is not something I would like to do for the rest of my life but for the time being, it is exactly where I need to be. It allows me to travel without spending my own money. It allows me to make enough to pay my bills, my student loans, and still have fun while putting a little bit of money away every month. It is also fulfilling in a way. The daily interaction I engage in with students and parents helps me feel like I am doing something positive for the world.

Yes, I am single and the single life often has pockets of loneliness. However, I am single! There are a lot of pros that come with it. There are times when I feel insecure about the fact that I am single. For some reason, I have this idea in my head that I should be picking up numbers and going on dates every weekend. A thought pops into my head as another weekend approaches, “I wonder if this will be the weekend when I will hookup with a girl”. I have not been romantically involved with a girl in a while. Is it strictly due to circumstance or is it partly my own choice too? It is probably a little of both. Nevertheless, I know I want something worthwhile and lasting. I do not want a one night stand. I can no longer waste my time or energy. I do not want something that will temporarily fill a void for one night. I want something to invest in. If it means that I have to be patient, then I do not have any other choice. All I know is when I see an opportunity, I am ready for it.

A six-pack has been my goal since I was fifteen years old. I have been chasing this goal for over ten years now. I still do not have one but I feel great about my body. It is not where I would like it to be but I feel strong, limber, and lean. Plus, I look great in my clothes. Tearing my Achilles might have been one of the greatest blessings I have had. The process of recovering from this injury has taught me how to stop relying on running to remain in good shape. I have learned different methods to staying lean while building muscle and strength. My knowledge about fitness and health has expanded greatly. I am not sure if I would have ever learned about intermittent fasting, ketosis, calisthenics, or yoga if I had not injured myself. I would probably still be playing basketball every weekend. Nothing against basketball, I love it, but I just feel like I had come to a standstill. Thankfully, I was forced to make a change. If you are not making the changes you should be, I truly believe that the universe will choose to make that decision for you. You will be given an important choice to keep doing the same thing you have been doing or to take a new route.

Most importantly, this is the best I have felt spiritually. It feels like nothing can disrupt my inner peace and calm. There are things that happen everyday and I am forced to decide if they will affect me negatively. Luckily, I have built enough strength and knowledge about myself to stop myself from falling into the trap. Whenever these circumstances arise, I rely on my daily mantras to get me back on track. Everyday is a battle but I am equipped to go into war. It took a long time to learn how to arm myself with the necessary weapons in order to make it out of the battle. The daily work I invested in myself is definitely worth it and I can see it all paying off.

Now is not the time to stop or slow down. I need to keep going. Now is the time to continue investing in myself. I try to keep this in mind, “grind in your twenties and build in your thirties”. I am trying my best to stay true to this mantra daily. As I continue to try to be the best version of myself everyday, the closer I will get to the life I want to build. There is a lot more to improve on. I will be implementing something new to my life – controlling my alcohol consumption during the weekend. I do not have a drinking problem (I know I know, that is what everybody says but no I am serious). I have a, “I am very disciplined during the week so when the weekend comes, I let loose but it hurts me because my body literally needs the rest of the weekend to recover so I do not do anything else but sleep” problem. I also know I have to separate myself from people who I have outgrown. I have to be more wise about how I am spending my time. Time is the greatest currency in the world. It sounds fucked up but I know who deserves my time and who does not. I will track how these changes affect my daily life. For now, I need to keep going. I am responsible for my choices. I am responsible for my life.

 

Yours Truly,

Ivan