The Blog

What it Means to Be a Dad (To Me)

Being a dad means loving my kids through the good + the bad times...through the times they really get under your skin...and showing them no matter what, they are LOVED (even if I'm really frustrated).

Being a dad means living with the courage to pursue my dreams...to show them that I practice what I preach...that life isn't always easy, but as long as we're going after things that matter to us (that don't harm others) then we'll be ok, fulfilled, on the right path for ourselves + (mostly) happy.

Being a dad means truly understanding the Buddhist concepts of impermanence & non-attachment + living those practices through + through...teaching them that nothing stays the same...we're never the same person we were the day before...+ since change is inevitable, we need to not be attached to certain outcomes or the way we want things to be.

Being a dad means being silly + not caring about what others think of me (I mean, I do have my toe nails painted in the above ninja image with Lia...because every single time she asks to paint my nails I say yes)

Being a dad means leading by example. 

Being a dad means showing them all emotions can be our teachers.

Being a dad means sitting with them + listening...because it's easy to pretend we know everything + just want to give them advice...but it's so much more impactful if they get there on their own or with a few tiny nudges ;)

Being a dad means showing them they matter...that they are enough...that they are worthy + deserving of love + no one can take that away from them, ever.

Being a dad means having your heart tugged on daily (at least for a feeler like me)...I don't think there's a day that goes by that they don't do something amazing or kind or funny that makes me smile, laugh + be grateful for each + every precious day I get to spend watching them grow.

Being a dad is tough...watching your kids grow + change + pull away (yet always come back).

Being a dad is worth all the love, joy, pain, time & energy given to those kids of mine. 

I'm sure I'm missing some stuff, but I'm gonna go hold my kids tight + show them how much I love them. 

father and son laughingfather throwing daughter in the air in the oceanfather and daughter playing ninja dressup

 

Wherever you are today + whoever you're spending your time with, I hope you take a moment to pause + be grateful for all the amazing dads in the world. And if your dad is no longer with us, pause + take a few deep breaths + think about all the lessons he taught you about life + love.

Thanks, Dads.

Josh Solar
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I Don't Want to Settle For Mediocre Love

A few years ago, some dad friends of mine approached me and asked if I'd like to be a part of a podcast dedicated to talking about all things dad, good & bad. I was honored & said yes. So, for a whole year, I shared in on some wonderful conversations about dadhood on a podcast called The Discovering Dad Podcast

What was interesting to me was how often we veered out of the dad realm and into the marriage realm. And how that part played such a huge role in our lives as dads and what we want to teach our kids about showing up for those in your lives. Marriage (or partner) first. That relationship has to take precedence over the parenting role.

Note: single parents, major standing ovation for doing what you do, when Jenny goes out of town, I get overwhelmed at all the tasks that are normally shared, let alone finding moments to sit down & let each of my kids know they're loved, they matter & they have many things to offer this world. You don't get all the respect you deserve.

What I'm getting at here is that I took part in a conversation on Discovering Dad with Nate Bagley last week. He's the creator of The Loveumentary & his newest project, First 7 Years. It was life changing. So I wanted to share it with all of you. Feel free to let me know what you thought about all the knowledge he drops on us...

 

Josh Solar
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How Can I Show Up For You Today?

how can i show up for you today hand letter
Marriage is hard enough by itself. Then you add in jobs, kids, life. You can go deeper and throw in all the crap we carry with us from childhood, the learned behaviors, the false truths we learn growing up from our parents, the kids around us, our teachers. We learn a lot about self worth & self love from watching how others treat themselves & how they treat us. Well, you throw all of that in a blender & then try & stay happily committed to one person for the rest of your life.

We don't arrive at the altar complete people. Maybe some folks do, but from my personal experience & chatting with friends about their stories, it's quite rare. Once the excitement from the vows, the celebration, the honeymoon wears off & you dig in to this life together, it's not all rainbows & unicorns. Naively, I believed it was. 

The last few years have been hard in the Solar household. Illnesses, death, shattered dreams, the long, slow path of healing past wounds. But we forge on, knowing the struggles are shaping us in ways that lead to a deeper love & connection with those around us. We're learning more about love. We're learning more about leaning into the hardships. We're learning more about being there with a closed mouth & a listening ear. We're learning more about what true, unconditional love means. We're growing into who we were born to be.

Yesterday was Jenny & my 14th wedding anniversary. It wasn't the best day ever. In fact, there wasn't a whole lot of joy for either of us yesterday. But as the day went on, the only thing I cared about was asking 'How can I show up for you today?' And then doing that. Showing up for our loved ones, day in and day out. Really, what more do we need then to know we matter. That we're cared for & loved deeply. It's not always easy, but most definitely necessary. 

How can you show up for those in your life today? Take a few moments every morning and ask. Listen to what they have to say, then act. Guarantee you'll see some amazing things blossom in your life if you make this a daily practice. Show up and love today, my friends.
Josh Solar
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If You Only Knew...

if only you knew hand lettered graphic

 

If you only knew the amount of miracles you perform daily

If you only knew how truly strong you are

If you only knew your bravery is the catalyst for so much meaning

If you only knew the love you give in this world is needed by whoever it touches, even if they (or you) don't understand how

If you only knew the power you have to shape your world within your mind

If you only knew how simple it is to make another's day

If you only knew how to not beat yourself up when you failed to live up to your unrealistic expectations

If you only knew this too shall pass (both good + bad times)

If you only knew nothing is guaranteed, life is a constant ebb + flow

If you only knew how to let go of what's holding you back...dead weight, past mistakes, people who hurt you

If you only knew life isn't so bad when you focus on what makes you feel good

If you only knew how much light you bring to this world

If you only knew you are worth it

If you only knew you are loved

If you only knew you are enough

(inspired by Sleeping at Last's song, Daughter

Josh Solar
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What Happens When?

What happens when we stand up for what we're FOR instead of always speaking out on what we're AGAINST?

What happens when we live humble lives full of respect & compassion & kindness for others?

What happens when we listen to our hearts & bodies & step away from this material driven view of life that is so far out of touch with the natural world?

What happens when we change the stories we tell ourselves in our head to support a life that feels joyful?

What happens when we stand in our truth & own it?

What happens when we individually commit to sharing things that make us happy, being kind to one another & adding only positive energy out into the world?

What happens when we live like black lives matter?*

What happens when we stop living with this incessant need to be accepted?

What happens when we smile more? Give more hugs? Open more doors for people? Leave more love letters? 

What happens when we take the time to tell people they do, in fact, matter?

What happens when we tap into the Divine, live from that space, & stop apologizing for it?

What happens when we stop focusing so much on comfortable lives & instead focus on meaningful ones?

What happens when 'I can't even today' & you actually could?

What happens when 'I can't even today' & you didn't because that felt like the right thing to do & you listened?

What happens when you stop trying to KNOW FOR CERTAINTY the answers to those questions that don't have answers we can see & touch & taste & hear?

What happens when you lead with curiosity & trust your intuition?

What happens when we show up with LOVE in our hearts & say 'here I am world & this is what I love'?

What happens when we realize the power we have to influence our minds, our bodies & our souls & lived in congruence with their best interests (i.e. taking care of ourselves)?

What happens when you make LOVE, JOY, COMPASSION & KINDNESS your guiding force for living?

*Like actually live like it because right now we don't.

Josh Solar
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On Setting Goals & Healing

I woke up the day after St. Patrick’s Day with my hand throbbing around 6 am. I was confused and groggy. I struggled to move my fingers. It hurt to make a fist, but I did it anyway.

No part of my plans on St. Patrick’s Day included the words wrist surgery, but then when do you ever wake up & think it’s a good day for someone to slice open your hand, insert a metal plate & 9 screws (Yes, 9 screws!).

But that’s my reality. That’s also what happens when one decides to step foot on a skateboard. There’s always a chance of falling. But isn’t that the way life works in general? There’s always a chance you’ll fail, or get hurt, or things won’t go as planned.

Is that a good enough reason to not try new things? To explore the joys of life? To put yourself in a state of childlike wonder & awe & amazement? Because all the moments leading up to my fall involved bravery, excitement, joy, freedom. But you can’t have one without the other. No joy without risk.

Recently I had a chance to hear a man named Tyler Mongan speak.  He was speaking about goal setting. The first step in setting goals is to give yourself permission to change. Our brains aren’t wired to like change. Our brains want things to stay the same & comfortable & for things to make sense.

We set goals of some sort because we want a future different than our current reality. So we set goals that excite us, & then the brain freezes in fear, according to Tyler. Physiological responses are greater than facts, so set goals that are uncomfortable to think about. Most importantly, Tyler asked us to lead with our heart beats…to infuse our heart beats into our goals & to believe they are already achieved. To live with this deep knowing & trust.

There’s this cool theory out there about habits that goes as follows:

Thoughts -> Feelings -> Actions -> Results -> Beliefs (repeat) 

The thoughts we think create feelings in our bodies which lead to actions. The actions produce results which then creates a belief that becomes a habit. The key for me here is to create habits that are positive, filled with love & inspire me to live a full & meaningful life. That life starts with a positive mindset.

One habit I’ve established over the past few years has been the Wim Hof Method. It’s a combination of breath work, strength/stretching, & cold immersion (cold showers, icy lake dips, winter runs in shorts & shoes). I had this thought if I could put my body in controlled states of stress & discomfort I could kick start my body’s ability to keep me healthy, happy & strong (Wim’s goals). The thought led me to think about how I would feel if those things happened. For me, that was a sense of accomplishment, fulfillment, & satisfaction in knowing I’m capable of more amazing things than I thought possible before. Since I started the method 2.5 years ago, I’ve yet to be sick, I sleep better, I recover faster from intense workouts & my body works super efficiently. I’m in tune with my body in ways that I never dreamed.

Which leads me to what the whole point of this post is. The heart led goal setting, the habit building & Wim Hof Method all tie together & present me with a new opportunity. I believe my body & mind listen to one another. I open these channels of communication with my breath holds (Quick Tangent on breath holds. You can get a full explanation of them with this app).

I’ve dried up stuffy noses. Got rid of headaches. All by creating this space & asking my body to heal. I’m going to apply this same process to healing my wrist. I believe by opening these channels of communication between my mind & body I’m able to heal my wrist in a more effective manner than normal. Last night I did 2 hours of breath holds & could feel the healing energy flowing throughout my body directly into my wrist. This morning I did another 45 minutes. The pain in my hand is already way lower. I feel it healing.

I share this with you because I imagine there are some big scary things you want to achieve in your life. I hope you understand living our best lives starts from within. It’s not always easy, but always worth it to do the internal work that ultimately leads to loving ourselves. Life is so much better when we are fully alive.

Moving forward with this knowledge, what beliefs can you foster that support a life you’ll be proud of?

Josh Solar
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How I Got My Creative Kick in the Nuts (A 4 Step Process for Everyone)

It was up in the mountains of Southern California, 7,000 ft in the sky, at a creative entrepreneur retreat called Field Trip that I got the creative kick in the nuts I needed. You see, even though I've been quiet around here on this blog this year, life has been pretty dang good. I've spent 5 weeks with my family & friends in Southern California, my kids health has been stable for quite some time. The stressors in my life have one by one fallen away. 

But something felt off in my creative endeavors & I needed to fix it. So here's my foolproof plan to getting your own creative kick in the nuts or butt if you don't have nuts (whatever), here goes...

Step 1. Step far out of your comfort zone. I'm an introvert & really really like my comfortable friendships I've built over the years. It was time for me to put myself in a position to meet other creatives that I didn't know too well. Field Trip fit that bill for me. I knew maybe 20 people of the 350-400 that were there. I was nervous & just wanted to hide at times, but I didn't let that side of me lead (more on that later).

Step 2. Say yes & trust your intuition. I approached Field Trip with an open mind & said yes to anything/everything. This led me to meet folks from all over the world with fascinating stories (I)(II)(III). I said yes to Reiki & ended up feeling my heart feel so heavy, then crying uncontrollably & then I felt that heaviness/sadness release & I felt blissed out all within a 10 minute window. I said yes to any class that had to do with self-love & all of those experiences led me to step 3. 

Step 3. Commit to self-love. Make time for it. Find what recharges you. Find what brings you joy. Do those things every day, as often as possible. For me, that means making time for my morning meditation & Wim Hof breathing. It means connecting with my kids. It means creating things that make me happy &  that let others know they matter. It means waking up at 6 am before the sunrise on the day you turn 36, even though you stayed up until 1 am talking & knowing you've got a long day ahead of you but you have to catch that sunrise while meditating on the rock that was probably a bit too hard for you to climb but you did it anyway. 

Step 4. Surround yourself with people that inspire you & push you to keep going. Those are the people that remind you why life is worth living in the first place. We all crave connection, real, true, honest connection. Find the people that love you well & never let them go.

Bonus Step. Give yourself grace & know you're loved. This one is related to step 3, but I wanted to make it the final step. Because I was being so hard on myself. The last 3 years of my life had almost nothing go according to any plan Jenny or I could've possibly came up with. Yet we still traveled. We're still married (happily, I might add, and closer than ever). Our kids are healthy (as healthy as they can be with CF). And I've got food, shelter, clothes, people who love me & work I enjoy. I realized I needed time to grieve that period of my life & all that went up in flames with it. Field Trip was the start to a new healthier season for me. 

Tada! I'm creating again & having fun with it. Making art became such a chore for me, but following these simple (who am I kidding, it's hard to do put yourself out there but it's SO worth it) steps I've regained my creative mojo.

Also, just go to any/all future Field Trips. These are all things I pulled together from the experiences I had with the most creative folks I've had the pleasure of sharing cabins, meals, meditations with.

Back to my birthday meditation session on the rocks. I watched the sun come up & snapped an image. The words 'Lift your head up high & don't lose heart' came to me at some point that morning so I decided to write them on that picture of the sunrise & make it into an iphone wallpaper. If you dig it, just click the link there & save it to your phone, my treat. Here it is in square form so you can see more of the mountain :)

lift your head up high & don't lose heart hand letter mountain sunrise

 

Josh Solar
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Getting Lost in Ladder Canyon...On Expectations vs. Reality & Proper Preparation

A few days ago I was scrolling instagram & saw some pictures of a friend who took her family on a hike through this amazing slot canyon in Southern California. I said to myself, "Hey! We're in Southern California. We should go!" 

So 2 days later, we went. I was stoked. I've never been hiking through a slot canyon before but have always wanted to.

We woke up, ate breakfast, got in the car & drove 2 hours to Ladder Canyon. What was supposed to be a 5.3 mile hike ended up being over a 8 mile hike where we got lost, turned around, turned around again, then made it back to the car right as it became pitch black. We were hiking for just over 6 hours & those with 8, 10 & 12 year old kids know is not always the most fun way for kids that age to spend their days.

We had cell service for a tiny bit and notified our friend who then notified the Park Rangers who we found out later in the evening were really close to sending out a search party for us. Note: Thanks to Apple's Find My Friends app, my buddy could track us whenever we had a tiny bit of roaming coverage. So he would screen shot our trek & pass it on to the park rangers.

I could go on and on about how worried I was, how tired the kids were, how I lost my patience & broke down into a screaming, crying rage because I know how cold it gets out in the desert in the evening. I could write about those things, because they're all true. But there were other important life lessons that jumped out and smacked me in the face.

1. Expectations vs. Reality: I wanted to see the slot canyons. I did a tiny bit of googling & found there were parts of the trail that were super difficult, so we wanted to avoid those. I also saw there was a pretty waterfall somewhere on the trail that the kids would enjoy. Slot canyons & waterfall. That was my expectation. Once I realized we were lost & hadn't found either the slots or the waterfall, I was pretty disappointed. The disappointment led to me losing my patience & yelling, both to the heavens & at my family. My expectations didn't meet my reality & I was not handling it well. After stomping around for a good 30 minutes (all in the wrong directions, I might add) I calmed down & apologized for my behavior & realized that my family's safety and finding the car was more important than me seeing some slot canyons and a waterfall. 

2. Proper Preparations: I should've done more research. I should've learned my lesson as we also got lost in the Redwoods a few years ago. (Maybe the lesson here is don't let me lead any hikes?) I should've downloaded the maps of the trail and the terrain to my phone so we could follow along with where we were hiking. Luckily, I lugged a TON of water and snacks in with me, so we were good on that part. 

3. How positive attitudes help in stressful situations: Max, our 12 year old, was especially negative. Lia, our 8 year old, was too for most of the first part of the hike. Once we got lost (and after my tantrum) she was the voice of reason saying things like, "Guys, if we all have positive attitudes this will be a lot better." Which I'm pretty sure she heard my wife say the same thing at least 279 times earlier in the hike. Either way, she was right. We were lost. We had to get to the car. Having a bad attitude didn't change that scenario or make anything better.

I feel life wanted to give me some reminders of lessons that I needed to hear right now. I needed the reminder to check my expectations at the door. I needed a reminder that right now I'm in a bit of a hold phase of life, and that I'm preparing for something major, even if I don't know what that is yet (Don't worry, Hello Happiness isn't going away). And finally, I needed to be reminded that staying positive is always a good thing.

This morning, we're already looking back on yesterday with a laugh (at least I am) & I can't wait until we go back on another adventure that won't turn out exactly the way we planned.  

Finally, here's a picture of our family near the end of the hike once we knew we were back on the right trail heading to the car. Look how happy & not tired we look!

Josh Solar
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Let's Celebrate the Wins

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I realized recently that I get so caught up in sharing my faults, failures & screw ups that I kind of suck at celebrating my wins (big & small). Do you ever do that?

Get sucked up in the messes you make while discrediting the good things you do? (I'm guilty)
Dwell on mistakes instead of looking for the silver lining or lesson learned? (Raises my hand)
Take too long to apologize & then hold on to the fact it took you that long to apologize? (Guilty as charged)
Eat that junk food or extra snack late at night because I 'deserve' it or want it so bad but know once I cave & eat it that I'll feel bad about myself for not having any will power which completely discounts any & all enjoyment of said treat in the first place? (Get it together, man)

Why do I do this? Is it some sort of perfection expectation that I'm trying to live up to? Am I afraid of what will happen if I open myself up to full on joy? Am I worried about people thinking I'm weak? Am I worried about disappointing others or letting them down? Do I secretly self sabotage myself because I don't truly deserve to be happy?

I've been contemplating all these questions. Letting them roll around my head. Trying to come up with some solid answers.

Note: I truly believe in sharing our screwups it helps others not feel alone when they screwup. 

But if I hold onto that & don't ever acknowledge the wins & GOOD things life has to offer, I'm completely ignoring some of the best reasons to even be alive in the first place. 

To change all that, I'm going to share some wins in my life in hopes you will take some time to reflect on some wins in your life.

  • The last day I didn't sit down to meditate was November 30, 2015.
  • I took some time to stand outside and stare into the fog this morning. I sure do love fog. And nature is pretty dope, too.
  • I hired a nutrition coach and am joining a crossfit gym when we get back from California next month. Both of those are huge steps for me as putting some 'skin in the game' is a huge motivator for me to press through on my health even though it would be easier to quit & eat junk food.
  • My wife & kids & family & friends love me so well. There are daily reminders all around me about how loved I am.
  • I bought some kettlebells to take with me in the RV to California so I have no excuses to not workout.
  • I've read 3 books already in 2017, continuing my tradition of 52 books a year that I started in 2013.
  • I am almost done with my first cross stitch since I was like 8. It's such a joyful thing for me.
  • I've been learning woodburning lately as well. Basically, what this means is I have a weird idea, then I instantly put steps into making that weird idea come to life. Right now, they're small ideas, but I know this practice will help me when those big ideas come.
  • I went to a movie last night and successfully avoided popcorn.

Those are just a few wins that I'm doing a little happy dance for in my chair as I type this. I'd love to hear about some of your wins (big and small). Because don't you think it would feel better to focus on the good things in life for a bit?

Josh Solar
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What Are You Communicating?

Orly Waba, in her new book, Kindness Boomerang, says "Communication is never about the words, it's about the tone, the inflections of the voice, and the way in which those words are said." BOOM.

You see, it takes the same amount of time to say something in a kind tone as it does in an angry tone. It really doesn't matter what you're saying if your body language & tone don't align with your message. We can pick up on the little resentments & frustrations that are communicated to us. 

A story. I was writing in a coffee shop earlier this week. I was sitting at a row of tables waiting for some friends to show up. A dude sat down at one of those tables. Instantly I was frustrated. There are TONS of open tables in this place & he had to sit at the one that was going to interfere with the conversation I was about to have. My gut reaction was coming from a place of frustration, but I checked that & greeted him in a kind way. Dude was just chilling, really. No phone, no computer, nothing to read, just a dude enjoying a cup of coffee by himself in a coffee shop like a crazy person. I decided to set my frustrations down & we had a little conversation about mindfulness that would've been wildly different had I let my frustration lead.

Another story. We're in a season at home where Jenny is the main money maker & I'm the one taking care of errands, kids, meals, bed time, etc. There will be moments I catch myself feeling resentment at all the time Jenny spends doing only the things that light her up while I'm doing the dishes yet again. She works so hard for herself & our family, but she's working hard on things that she loves a lot (which is amazing!). She also has more friends here in KC that she spends time with than I do, so she gets more time away from the house than I do. For whatever reason, those 2 things slowly build up resentment if I'm not careful in checking the WHY behind my life. And as the resentment builds, Jenny picks up on it the tone I speak to her in. She sees it in my body language. It underlies every action/word towards her. And that's not ok.

So, what can you or I do when we find ourselves in similar frustrated situations? A few weeks ago, I wrote about serving from a place of abundance vs. a place of sacrifice. It comes down to being honest with myself. It comes down to carving out a space for me to sit with my feelings. To know that all feelings are impermanent. All feelings come and go. And to be honest about where these frustrations are coming from. For me, there's always more to the story than the initial one I'm telling myself. Sitting with the feelings & asking why helps tremendously (make sure you're giving yourself some grace in this process & not judging yourself).

Something else that helps me is sharing my feelings out loud to someone else. Something about getting all vulnerable with another eases the confusion as to why we feel a certain way. When I'm feeling uncalled for resentment towards Jenny, instead of just keeping those feelings inside and letting them fester, I choose to talk to her about what I'm feeling & why. Talking through these uncomfortable topics is one of the reasons I feel so connected to her.

Because I know, without a doubt, my wife loves me so much. I can see it in her eyes when she looks at me. I feel it in her touch when she softly runs her hand down my back or along my cheek. To this day, I still get butterflies when she comes near....like how did I get so lucky to have a partner who loves me as well as Jenny does. And if I'm being 100% honest with myself, how can I resent a woman who makes me feel like that? I have all of my needs met in my life & she's happier than she's ever been. Because she's happier, she has more joy to share with the world, and you can keep going in an upward spiral of love to give. How can I possibly keep choosing to communicate resentment when upward spirals of love are involved?

I share all of this only because I want to ask you to spend some time this week and ask yourself what messages you're communicating to your loved ones. What messages are you sending out into the world? And if you don't like the way those messages make you feel, what can you do to change them? What needs to happen so you can live from a place of LOVE & kindness?

NOTE: If you feel you don't have a safe space to talk through these things, please reach out. I'd love to offer a judgement free listening space for you. Just shoot me an email to josh@hellohappinesscardco.com & I promise to get back to you.

Josh Solar
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Surrounding Yourself With Good People

Every Tuesday morning you can find me at Quay Coffee in the River Market chatting it up with 4 good dudes. We've been meeting once a week for 4-5 years now. We challenge one another. We pick each other up. We support & encourage each other. Most importantly, we aren't afraid of being honest with one another. Sometimes you need to be told the hard things you already know you need to do that you probably don't want to hear because you know what you need to do but you're running from it. We've taken a few road trips, hiked 14'ers, ate good food & dreamed big together. 5 dudes hugging, laughing, crying in a coffee shop. 

I think back to who I was when I started meeting for coffee (I don't drink coffee but the rest of the fellas do). I was a family & wedding photographer who happened to create an intentional living family blog with my wife. Life was good back then. I don't remember many struggles in my life. We traveled, had plenty of date nights, always had plenty of time with people we loved. Looking back now, life seemed so much easier!

Then Max got sick. My boys were there.
Jenny & I decided to pursue other endeavors as main sources of income & those didn't pan out. My boys were there.
Max & Ava got diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. My boys were there. 
Jenny's twin brother passed way. My boys were there.
Marriage was getting hard for Jenny & I. My boys were there.

Looking back now, I can't count the number of times that I arrived on Tuesday morning feeling like crap, confused or angry, upset, out of it, wanting to just quit everything I had going & then leaving feeling like I knew the path I was supposed to be taking. My boys were there through it all & at any time day or night. 

I share this because I've heard through the years it's hard for guys to find other guys they feel comfortable enough to be vulnerable with. I've heard how it's not common for guys to meet like this so often & connect on these levels. When I hear that, it makes me sad. Because we all need safe spaces to embrace our fully human selves.

How did we do it? How did we create such an intentionally tight-knit group of fellas?

It started small. It was just my buddy, Graham, saying he had a friend, Rusty, and that we should meet. We were all 3 going to meet at a coffee shop, Graham bailed last minute, and Rusty & I chatted for a few hours. We decided to make a weekly coffee meet up, just the 3 of us.

Another dude, Jason, happened to frequent the coffee shop we were meeting at every week because his studio was upstairs. He'd come over and say hey, we'd invite him to sit down, he'd always politely decline until one day he didn't. Our group was now 4.

I had another friend who I felt could add a lot to our group, so I invited him in. It took a while for everyone to be on board in growing again, but now that's been 3 years of us 5, it feels just right every Tuesday morning. Our group grew organically & slowly over time. Most things of worth take time, right?

If you're looking to build up a group for yourself, ask yourself who that one person is in your life that makes you feel comfortable enough to show your darkness inside. Because the people you can show your darkness too, but still stick around to help show you your light...those are the friends you need to surround yourself with. Once you find them, figure out how to bring them together. If you only have one, ask if they have a friend who they feel that way about. Invite them in. 

Just know that every time you add a new person, the dynamics & energy change. Some people aren't willing to open up, and that's ok. You just don't want them in a group of people who are willing, because that energy transforms the group in ways that affect everyone else's ability to go deep. 

I headed home Tuesday morning feeling so full & alive & seen & loved. And I thought to myself, I hope every one has a group of people they can connect with in this way on a consistent basis. It's so important for us to know we're not alone in our struggles. To know that we will mess up from time to time & to know that we've got people who root for us despite our screw ups. We all need that support. When we feel supported & accepted we carry that positive love filled energy with us wherever we go. 

Josh Solar
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Failure, Mistakes, Life Lessons & Sit Spots

Yesterday I took Max & Ava to forest school. We had a blast wandering around in the trees playing games & learning how to make lumps of coal to start fires just out of stuff found in the woods. We played other nature games, fed the chickens. It was an incredible few hours spent connecting with nature & spending some quality time with 2 of my kids.

One part that really stuck out to me was listening to Sam, the teacher of the day, tell a story about camping in Oregon. He woke up right at dawn. It was chilly and he was surrounded by trees so he wanted to find higher ground with a bit of sunshine. The trees were huge and as he explored, he noticed the sun hitting the top of a few of them. So he found a tree that he could climb, & worked his way slowly to the top. Once up there, he just sat and soaked up the suns rays with the chickadees that were flying all around him. Stay still. Be present. Just be.

He called it a Sit Spot. Which I took as a clever name for meditation. He then asked all of us to find a sit spot & to reflect on what we'd like to do in the coming year for ourselves. 

Ava & I found a nice spot on some rocks where the sun was adding a bit of warmth. We just sat, stared off into the distance and got lost in thought. I learned later Ava wants to learn how to start a fire from sticks and wood like Sam showed us. That's what was running through her mind the whole time. 

I, on the other hand, thought about failure for some reason. And how I failed a LOT this year at some pretty big things. I thought about how western society looks at failure as something that's wrong & negative & how we internalize that if we fail, then something is fundamentally wrong with US as individuals. I thought about all the growth I had as a person just because of the risks I took as well as the hard work I put in so I wouldn't keep repeating the behaviors that led to my failures (I'll get to those in a bit).

As I sat on that rock, I realized that my favorite parts of being alive involve some sort of risk, with a chance of failure, and that making mistakes is part of a well lived life. Mistakes & failures along our path to a well lived life are just little road bumps trying to steer us in a different direction. 

Then I thought about how powerful it could be to share our failures with each other, because, let's face it, we all have made mistakes & failed in some form or another. But when we hide those failures, we send signals to ourselves that we are insufficient. When we hide the 'negative' we're admitting that we're not good enough or working hard enough or just a big mess up. And I can't believe any of those things are true about anyone. 

So, I want to share a few of my failures this past year, in the hopes you have the courage to speak up to someone in your life about any missteps you may have taken this past year. 

1. I failed my wife. In the beginning of the year, pretty much through July I did not show up for her with unconditional love. I tried to force her into living up to my expectations of how I wanted her to be, instead of seeing her for the wonderfully beautiful woman she already was. I shared a list of all the things I was going to do to strengthen our marriage and I didn't do any of them very well.

2. I didn't do the work to grow Hello Happiness as well as I could've. I made excuses. I didn't follow up or reach out quickly. I half assed my outreach at times. We did get a few cards in Paper Source, and we're in about 50 stores around the country right now, but I know with more effort we could be in so many more.

3. I wasn't the best father I could be. I let the kids play too many video games, as I kept telling myself I didn't have the energy to do anything with them. I didn't have as much patience with them as I have in years past. I believe this was completely related to item number 1 on my list as well.

4. I didn't take care of my body. I ate way too much sugary treats & didn't work out very much at all. Which led to me having less energy, feeling like crap & beating myself up for not working out or eating well.

5. I got in way too many stupid arguments on Facebook. Does this need any more explanation?

6. I committed to things/activities that didn't light me up, which led to a whole lot of unnecessary resentment (most of which was directed at my wife & kids when they had nothing to do with my commitments). 

Those were just a few of the failures/mistakes I made throughout 2016. But as I sat with those things last night, I realized that the failures & mistakes will not be what I remember most about this year. 

I'll remember the lessons learned, the growth in myself as a person & the wins. Because despite my massive setbacks, there is so so much to be grateful for.

1. Once I shifted my mindset on how I treated my wife, we've grown closer than we have ever been. And, we've been together for over 20 years now. I call that a win.

2. Even though I didn't put as much effort into Hello Happiness as I could have, we're still in 50 stores. And I spent a lot of time supporting Jenny which allowed her to pursue her dreams and find happiness for herself, which has in turn blessed all of us.

3. We took the kids to Thailand. We bought an RV & have taken a few trips in it & we're getting ready to head to California for 6 weeks just because. We homeschool all our kid which gives us SO much time together. I've seen so much growth in our kids since we brought them home as well including the little businesses Ava & Lia have started to the programming skills Max is picking up.

4. I can't change anything about my past behaviors, but I can be better going forward, and it's in my control on if I actually take care of myself or not. So I've been moving more & working out again. I've been making sure I have veggies at every meal. It's not a perfect process yet, but it is an improvement and a step in the right direction.

5. I made a commitment to myself to only say things on facebook I'd say to other people's faces. I re read everything I post before I hit enter & I just don't get on facebook as much as before any way because the real world is so much more fun.

6. I've seen so much growth and joy and positivity in my wife since started trimming out all the things that didn't make her happy. So I've been slowly doing the same. And my life feels so much lighter. I've started cross stitching again. I bought a wood burner just because it sounded like fun. I've been making things just for joy, which I didn't have time before because I was so over committed.

You see? Every single one of my failures/mistakes has taught me a lesson. I am well aware that I'll make more mistakes & fail time and time again throughout my life, but it's ok. We are not perfect. We don't expect our friends & family & other folks to be perfect, so why do we hold ourselves up to these unrealistic perfect standards? It doesn't make sense, does it?

To finish up, I have a challenge for you.

1. Find a sit spot & stay there for however long feels comfortable. Reflect on any mistakes you may have made this year.

2. Share those mistakes with someone in your life.

3. Search for the lessons learned and ways you're now living life differently because of those mistakes.

Let's all commit to sharing all of us with the world. Not just the wins, but the missteps & set backs. When we show each other we're all prone to mess up, it gives permission for others to share their set backs. It shows we're all human. And when we see each other as fellow humans, we're more likely be kind, compassionate & empathetic with one another. And that will make the world a better place for us all. 

Josh Solar
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