Imagine Just Following Your Heart

For every thought of action there is a moment of doubt or distraction. Imagine if you just moved forward in the direction your spirit was already telling you to go. This thought hit me this afternoon, not for the first time…but for what seems like the one millionth time.

I too often find that as a regular human being there are moments where I’m inspired and motivated in a direction only to fall short of taking actual action. My fire is only re-ignited when I see someone else who consistently takes action and acquires those things which I seek to attain. At that moment I’m instantly reminded that I’m staring at the position that I very well could be in myself. As a person who constantly overthinks I actually waste time seeking permission to take said action when I already know how I should approach a particular thing.

Let’s use sleep as an example. My sleep, as previously mentioned in another one of my blog entries, has consistently proven to be something that has eluded me. It’s due to no real complications other than my lack of discipline. Going to sleep and turning off the tv seems so simple, but I find myself reading books and listening to podcasts waiting for some influencer to echo the ideas that I already know to be true and effective. This same thing applies to exercise, eating healthy, learning a new skill or improving upon an existing one, etc. etc.

Why do we waste so much time looking for someone else to verbalize the answers that we instinctively and intrinsically know to be true? Why do we give everyone else more power than we give ourselves? What makes a person take action when someone like The Rock tells them to work out when they’ve known for years that working out would help them to achieve their fitness goals? Why do we render that voice that lives within us to be powerless and less influential?

My encouragement to me and to you is to listen to your conscious. In the children’s movie Pinocchio we are encouraged to “always let your conscious be your guide”, but the older we get we become subdued creatures of habit. We go to school, follow our parent’s rules, listen to our employers and managers, and completely lose sight of the fact that we have just as much power to make decisions of our own free will as those who make the decisions and rules for us.

Stop following and become a leader in this world and master of your domain. Next time you feel the urge to go in a direction only pause to ponder if it’s something that moves you further ahead in the way you wish to go in your life. If the answer is yes, don’t hesitate…take action now. Delay those things which don’t move you closer to true happiness and fulfillment…don’t delay that which leads you to becoming a better version of yourself.

Be blessed and love you all!

Quarantine, Time with Myself, and Leveling Up

Intro and Encouragement

Hello World! I hope all is well with everyone and my prayers are that everyone is healthy and keeping safe out there. I know things are crazy right now with the Coronavirus looming over us. I offer this encouragement without judgement, be sure to follow your spirit and make the decisions you feel are best for you and your family…and not only that, be firm in those decisions. Be willing and prepared to deal with whatever comes as a result of your actions. I know some will choose to go out as their state opens, and other will stay in…regardless, it is not my place to tell you what to do, just be mindful of those around you and be safe. We will get through this. For those of you concerned about potentially going back to work in the midst of these times, my encouragement to you will be to always choose life over money. I know a financial struggle is a struggle, but with time and dedication it can be overcome…life is too precious to position yourself to possibly die for a paycheck. Don’t allow any person to convince you to sacrifice your health for the sake of their bottom line.

Quality Time with Yourself

This brings me to my next topic, how has your quarantine been? I hope it’s been going okay. I hope that you’ve had the things you’ve needed to get through and that you’ve been able to spend some quality time with yourself and your family. I’ve been fortunate to be able to work from the house but it has been intense. I refuse to complain, but between meetings, projects, and also having to parent and be a teacher all day…it has felt extremely busy.

In the past two weeks we have finally gotten into a solid routine around here and I’ve been trying to prioritize some me time. I’ve been trying to avoid consuming too much news, even though it comes at me from all sides….tv, push notifications, social media, etc. The news cycle is vicious, some being positive, but most being pessimistic.

Regardless, I’m finally grabbing onto a routine. In the morning I’ve been making a cup of coffee and reading at least one chapter from a book (The One Thing by Gary W. Keller). In the afternoons once my work and meetings have completed I’ve been really trying to focus my energy and effort into the things I’m interested in. I’ve been studying logo design, typography, coding, piano, drawing, and…we have discovered a problem here…while these things have been intriguing I’m finding it very difficult to focus on building a level of proficiency in any one thing.

Experimentation is Fine…to a Point

While exploring all of my interests I can’t help but constantly think about the end state of this journey. I constantly consider myself blessed to have a job, but the idea of being able to build proficiency in a passion and monetize it becomes more appealing by the day…and hopefully not just for me, but for you too.

I hate to seem ungrateful because I know people have lost their jobs and can’t find one currently, but that’s the point…we’re all struggling in some capacity. My wife stopped working with the birth of our youngest child and has been able to be off of work for a significant amount of time. Her income nearly matched mine, so when she stopped working our total household income reduced by half. We had a game plan between the money we had in savings, and my salary, that allowed for her to basically stay at home and take care of the baby until she reached a certain age. She’s at that age now. What I find though is that now with the state of the world being what it is we find ourselves on the clock. My wife isn’t going back to work as of now, I will not place my baby in childcare, nor do I even want my older children heading back to school…not until some of the conditions around this virus have been ironed out a bit better (medication, vaccines, testing, etc.). This presents an interesting dilemma, especially if my savings reaches zero…which in reality it very well could.

I see stories everyday of people having to make potentially life-altering decisions to avoid falling into bankruptcy or homelessness, and the idea that it could be me is alarming. So many of us have depended on the meager wages our employers allow us that we constantly forget how close to bottoming out we really are when something drastic happens. With the depletion of my savings I would still find myself in several precarious situations. These include the obvious…being broke and unable to afford common necessities, but also include forever being unable to pay off my student debt, pay off all of my credit cards or my car loan, and definitely continue to only view the ownership of a home as nothing more than a dream.

It reminds me that experimentation at some point has to lead to ownership, not just of the thing we’re passionate about but ownership of our lives again. We need to constantly be in pursuit of our dreams because society truly doesn’t care that much about us. Everything is designed to keep us at the bottom if we allow it to.

Find our Voice, Again!

We’ve been so programmed and reduced to complacency that a lot of us don’t even realize who we are anymore. We don’t know what we like, what we wish to pursue, or even how to have a single independent thought that isn’t rooted in political correctness or appeasing others. We’ve lost our fire and will to fight and aspire.

We have to reclaim our spirit and work to level up. Stop waiting to be inspired or motivated, take small steps and inspire yourself everyday towards whatever your goals are. Don’t sit back and wait to be left for dead when the going gets tough, don’t be picked off by natural selection. We all have a choice everyday to make small steps towards the bigger picture.

It’s not easy. We have to begin to break free of confusion and overthinking. That’s where I find myself a lot these days…overthinking. I see so many people who are in positions of leadership and influence and find it difficult to understand the difference between them and I. I’m just as capable, and just to clarify I actually mean that WE ALL are just as capable. Stop settling for the scraps, you’re worth more than that.

The End

That’s all I got for today. I know my thoughts are all over the place but hopefully the message finds somebody. Basically to sum it all up, everyday we go out into this world to live someone else’s dream and pad someone else’s bank account, and it’s just not right. If these times have shown us nothing about how the rich continue to stay rich and about how much they care about us then we have learned nothing. I’m not mad at the rich, I’m mostly upset that the wealth gap is glaringly huge and most of us tend to choose to do nothing about it within the context of our lives. I don’t know how to transcend the middle class so that’s not an indictment against anyone, as I’m sure most of us don’t…but perhaps with a little effort everyday we can figure it out. I know it happens all the time. I hate the idea of knowing that the clock is ticking on my financial downfall when my mind is capable of so much more. If you feel like that too then please, aspire for more. Wake up and reach for the stars, they are indeed all of ours for the taking.

Be blessed!

Hitting the Wall of Life

A poem by ME

Hitting the wall of Life, this is a place I know…
wash, rinse, repeat…play a game, or watch a show…
binging mindlessly on content, killing time and killing dreams…
plant the seeds of greatness in my soul confused they never grow…
sun and water are required, but most of us rely on faith…
but faith without the works is dead, and most ignore the work it takes…
we point the finger at complacency, we always seek to blame…
we find comfort in excuses our blanket used to hide our shame…
it’s never REALLY just our fault that we can never get ahead…
our destiny was predetermined, right?

It wasn’t meant to be for I, perhaps it wasn’t in my cards…
a lot of things aligned for me, most everything except the stars…
I’m just a normal human being, talentless and simple minded…
great is real but so is fate, and fate is truth it’s not misguided…
fate determined great was not my testimony or assignment…
success is only for a few it’s not for you you’ll never find it…
stop looking if you’re waiting for a map that marks the spot…
because it simply don’t exist, you’ll find yourself forever driving…
that’s what you tell yourself…right?

Ironic how we think the only way to heaven is through hell…
how the only way to pass is constantly to try and fail…
if we could only view the glass being half full instead of empty…
what’s the truthiness we’d find, and what’s the story we would tell…
some of these old monikers are true…
but never once assume a prophecy that undervalues you…
your contributions can be grand and go far as you choose to see…
and if you fall short of your goal, it’s all on you and not on me…
and when I say ME, I don’t mean ME, I mean we…
the universe you think determines how far that you will succeed…
it’s the lense through which you view the World that shows just what you’ll be…
a prisoner that’s trapped within your mind or someone who is free…
free to make the World your oyster, and turn a grain of sand to pearl…
time to wake up from your slumber, out of bed instead uncurl…
out of that ball you find yourself in when you hit the wall of life…
your destiny is predetermined, wrong… The story’s yours to write…

THE END

Thank you for reading this if you read it. I was in the mood to write some poetry so I wrote this on a whim. I’m still trying to figure my life out but I do enjoy writing and so I’d like to get a bit more consistent with it. Hopefully this inspired someone. Be blessed and remember this…

Everyday we have a choice to make as to who we want to be. Time is not your friend…nor will you find it on your side. The clock is ticking towards our end every moment and if you find the things you do daily don’t really matter or add value, do your best to keep pushing to be the change you wish to see and take control of your life and your destiny.

I love you all.

Depression Sucks, but How Can You Cope With It?

It’s been a long time…I shouldn’t have left you, without a dope read to help you…help you, hel-hel-hel-help you…no, okay. Shoutout to the late great Aaliyah by the way. That was a remixed line from her music in case you didn’t know. Let’s not waste anymore time and dive right in to the title.

I was inspired to write this entry because today I happened to be on a bit of a YouTube binge. Like any normal person I only half watched this one particular video because…you guessed it, I went straight to the comments. However, in my quest to be entertained by the wild statements of some unrelenting individuals I stumbled upon one comment in particular that hit me, hard. It really broke my heart…I was genuinely saddened reading this. Just for context this video was of this girl singing a cover version of a popular song. Most of the comments were either your typical praise, or harsh critiques…but this one person wrote this:

“Why is she so gorgeous and sings so beautiful and nice, she is perfect! I wish I could be her and not get bullied because I’m fat. Like, OMG, her life is so easy and mine is so bad, but, of course I appreciate the things I have…like my family. I hope I could lose weight but it’s just hard because I always eat when I’m sad and depressed. I just wanted to tell you that you are so lucky!”

That really was tough to read. I felt bad for this woman. Some people would blame her for the issues she is struggling with by placing all of the accountability back on her. I do believe we are accountable for taking control of our lives, but, I think people must first be convinced they have the option to take control of their lives. Let’s be honest, most of us have spent our entire lives following other people. If you pair that with a lifetime of poor habits then you have a recipe for mediocrity and living vicariously through others.

Depression sucks, plain and simple. I know it, I’ve experienced my fair share of it for various reasons, and some things I still am trying to work through myself. However, lately I’ve been on a quest to try and approach life from a different angle. I’m early in my journey but I’ve begun to look differently at the World. It’s simple for people to make blanket statements such as “life is about perspective”, and…”life is what you make it”, but I’m wondering if such claims are insensitive? These phrases, in their essence, are not incorrect, but they’re a bit too vague. They don’t offer any real advice. There are definitely several factors at play here regarding depression, and when considering them it’s hard to place blame or accountability entirely on the depressed. I want to offer some advice to the people who feel much like the woman I quoted.

We are all brought into this world with a certain set of circumstances, and we’ve also been conditioned by our surroundings. I’d like to define circumstance as the factors of your situation (socioeconomic status, genetics, etc.) . I’d like to define conditioning as the mentality and emotions you’ve come to have, and feel, as a result of navigating your circumstances (people, places, and things). Before I dig too deep into this section I want to clarify one thing, I do not believe that your circumstances define you. There are too many stories out there of people who either beat the odds of their circumstances, or simply used their circumstances to their advantage. That’s a statement of fact, however, let’s not neglect the fact that some people are just born into better circumstances than others. I’m not blaming them, but I’m just making it clear that some of us come out of the gates with distinct advantages that others don’t.

Some people are born into poverty, some people are born with bad genetics, some people are born with disabilities, some people are born without families and grow up in foster homes or on the streets, I mean…the list could go on. We don’t get to control how we’re brought into this world…and perhaps the people coming down on the depressed regarding their “perspective” are out of touch in one way or another. Some people have never had the deck stacked against them, and some of those who have…and overcame it, might think a more harsh and direct approach will help people finally get off their asses and be the change they wish to see.

Chill, it’s not that easy. Everyone doesn’t respond the same to “tough love”.

Conditioning is an entirely different beast. I feel like much of our conditioning takes place in those formative years, and ironically enough most of us never fully grow up and move past how we’ve been conditioned to think. Most of our lives we’re told where to go, what to do, when to be there, and just overall who we are. We come to allow these things to guide our lives and define us. We carry these conditions as modes of living, and truths about us. The truth is, you can in some respect be who you want to be, within reason. There are some inevitable things that we simply might not be able to change about ourselves, such as genetic factors, the wealth of our parents, the neighborhood we grew up in. Those things just kind of happen TO you. It can be sucky, but that is indeed just life. However, those things don’t necessarily serve whatever your higher purpose is.

I’m no depression expert so please, take my advice and offering with a grain of salt. I personally feel so many people who experience depression usually experience it on a surface layer kind of level. I’m speaking from personal experience. You look at this vast thing called life, and focus much of your energy into superficial things that don’t matter all that much in the grand scheme of your miraculous existence. You’re too tall, you’re too short, you’re too fat, you’re too skinny, you’re too poor, you didn’t get that promotion or job you wanted, you can’t buy that new car or a bigger house, and the list goes on. You’re investing energy into the opinions of people who have chosen to focus on the wrong things as well, and you’re seeking to meet some arbitrary societal standards to appease people who don’t even matter. You’re looking for external validation rather than understanding the value of intrinsic motivation. You were made to be you and build your own box, and yet we want so badly to be inside the box with everyone else. It can be tough, I know.

I just want to encourage you to fill your soul with the things you aspire to be…for YOU, and nobody else. We only get one chance at life and depression is paralyzing you. I love you so much and I want you to make the most of your life and let you know that you are deserving. I’ve had days where I felt like I didn’t even deserve to experience certain things because of how much I was measuring myself against everyone else. I’ve denied myself simple pleasures such as getting a nice meal because of looking too deeply into the “long-term implications financially”. I’ve avoided church because my wardrobe wasn’t right. I’ve avoided going to the park and swimming because I was out of shape and didn’t want to be judged about it. The list could go on….I mean, really ridiculous things like that have allowed me, and I’m sure others, to miss out on some of the simple and more profound pleasures of life. You start to tell yourself that you’re not even worthy to do simple things because you’re simply not good enough by the measure of the rest of society…and I just want to let you know, you are. Please, just…live.

This is my recommendation, and conclusion…

Dear person born into poor circumstances. This won’t be an easy task, but you need to set some very clear goals and expectations of yourself. You need to build discipline and not worry so much about the gifts and talents of the people you see on TV and social media. Either use them as a motivating force to inspire you in your journey, or appreciate what they have and come to realize you may never be that. If it’s the latter, then look inside and see what beautiful gifts you have to offer to the World and master those things. Don’t spend all of your time basking in their successes, admiring their talents, and gushing over their beauty or riches. As a matter of fact, turn down all of the noise and try to shut most of that media off. I understand that in this digital age it’s almost impossible to escape seeing something that makes you feel worse about who you are, but I need you to understand that nobody can play the hand you’ve been dealt, only you can. There are very real and actionable things you can do to improve your circumstances, but don’t look too far ahead…it will only slow you down and trip you up. Have a vision for where you want to be, but take this one simple day and act at a time. Begin to realize you have the ability to recondition your mind, body, and spirit…but only if you can come to terms with the idea that this will not happen overnight. Give yourself permission to live. If you’re grown then I need you to understand you can walk outside and take real steps towards your goals. It might seem like you can’t, and you might have apprehension about taking those first steps in the right direction for fear of judgement. Don’t talk yourself out of it, if you’re reading this then I know you’re ready to take those steps. Embrace the fear and understand that it’s okay to just be you. Block out everyone else’s voice and opinion, unless it’s the people around you who really care about you and are here to cheer for you on your new direction. You might feel you suck right now, but YOU don’t. Focus on becoming the best you that you can be and the World will appreciate it. Give yourself permission to live the best life you can.

Some of this might be redundant because when I’m inspired to write I just do. There’s no proof-reading, just pure thought spilling out onto the screen. If I ever get paid to do this then perhaps I’ll be more considerate, but honestly…this is for me, and whoever needed to hear it. Not for money, just for love.

Love you ALL, and as always, be BLESSED!

Stay Motivated Even When Life Conspires Against You

Here we are…you know what today is, right? It’s Monday! Good ol’ Monday. We all know that this day in particular is dreadful for many. Perhaps Monday technically isn’t your dreaded day, but think of the word as being a metaphor for whatever day that is for you. Being the type of person who lives for the weekend I already know that going back into the office is going to present its own set of challenges. At one point I managed to take most things in stride, but the more I try to figure out myself the less patience I have for the things that don’t serve my newfound understanding and purpose. Let’s dive deeper into this.

The Old Me Just Accepted It

Once upon a time there I was…a much younger, and admittedly, more naive version of myself. I showed up early on Monday mornings highly motivated and ambitious. Whether my day was filled with meetings, conferences, off-sites, or project work…it didn’t matter. I was fully committed to fulfilling my employer’s vision. Sadly, I had no vision of my own and I was convinced that this would be my life’s work…working for somebody else, building a legacy at a place that most likely never considered the idea that I’d ever even have a legacy. Some days would be hard but working towards that next promotion was always the goal. That was everything.

I tried hard to work my way up the ladder. I spent nights and weekends logging overtime (I was on salary so technically it wasn’t paid overtime). I went above and beyond on every project and the end result was always the project manager received all of the praises and the promotions. There was not even a shout-out or acknowledgement for me, or my colleagues contributions. The entire process was self-serving. Somebody was padding their stats in preparation for their quarterly review, but they always did a good job of making us feel as though we were equals, a team in the true sense of the word.

Boy was I dumb, I was really really dumb LOL.

The Season of My Discontent

We now fast-forward to present day. I’ve acquired a newfound understanding of life and what’s most important. The thing is, that understanding without action is basically pointless. You might as well be a hamster on a wheel.

I’ve had some revelations over the past half year, and I’ve come to know more about who I truly I am outside of this character that I’ve built myself to be. I have yet to achieve full self-actualization yet. It’s ramping up, the tension is building, and the change it over the horizon…I can feel, I can taste it, I can see it. However, it seems that Mondays, and most days, I’m presented with blockers…now more so than ever…that look to derail the realization and fulfillment of my greatest potential.

The job has become more demanding and the nights once again have become longer than they should be. I should shut these things down but I feel the need to keep pushing. I have to provide for the family. As I push further my burden becomes heavier. I know I’m just going through the motions and it is sapping every part of my spirit…I feel drained and depleted, but I’m still in pursuit of leveling up and continuing to evolve into the greatest version of myself.

Some days it seems it will never happen, but the unrest I feel in my spirit now…an unrest I’ve never felt…lets me know that this go around is different. I’ve never leapt before, but I feel like I’m closer than I’ve ever been. If you feel like this as well then you’re like me. I know the road isn’t immediate, the success doesn’t come fast, and the transition doesn’t happen swiftly…but I encourage you to hold on and keep having faith in yourself.

The Universe and The Conspiracy

Just when your mentality shifts the your mind wants to block your path and cloud your judgement with fear. It wants to conspire to hold you back and hold you down. It wants to sell you a slightly better version of the dream you once subscribed to in hopes that it will keep you dormant and submissive to the powers that be in your life. It only wants to offer you the bare minimum and provide you with a fraction of what the fruits of your labors are worth.

Some would proclaim that the universe is conspiring against you, I’d argue that it is not that. The universe wants you to be successful and fulfill your highest calling. The world and its constructs are what gets in the way of our pursuit of finding our purpose for being on this planet. I love the movie the Matrix, it’s sci-fi but more importantly it’s a metaphor for our very existence. Red pill or blue pill…it matters, very much so. Fear keeps us from taking the red pill, but everyday somebody’s eyes are open to the truth of a better life, one that is enjoyed outside of the lines…one that realizes everything, even the parameters we live within, are all human-made and that we could just as easily create those parameters for ourselves.

Conclusion

The road to self-actualization and freedom is a long one. It’s not easy to fully shift your mindset and perspective, afterall, we’ve been conditioned since the moment we arrived on this planet to follow the rules and fit inside of somebody elses box. We’ve been taught to obey and meet everyone’s expectation in every aspect our lives but our own. Sometimes life is going to try to get in the way of your mental progress, especially if you’re on the verge of a breakthrough. I want you to remember to push forward regardless and don’t be derailed. Take a stand, stay strong, and let everything and everyone around you know that you are en route to something greater than they could ever imagine.

If you read this I hope you enjoyed it. I love you and be blessed!

My Dad Isn’t Rich in Money, but Money Can’t Buy Respect

Hey TodayTheory squad! We are currently sitting at 9 followers! I am super excited for each new like and follow. You have no idea how incredible it is to have been fairly consistent on this page for almost a month now. I began this journey with the intent of trying to post almost everyday and it feels good to follow through on my commitment. Thank you for being a part of my personal journal and rants. With that being said…let’s talk about my Father.

This past Friday my father retired from his job. At 72 years of age he has dedicated 51 of those years to our country in service. He did 24 years in the Air Force, where he retired as a Master Sergeant, and followed that up with 27 years doing civil service work for the Air Force Surgeon General’s office. I attended his retirement ceremony and we followed that up with some bowling…it was a fun time. I congratulated him with my usual “we’re cool” disposition, a hand shake and partial hug. That’s how we general communicate.

The thing I would never tell my dad is that I was almost brought to tears at his retirement ceremony. It sounds real silly and sappy, but let me explain. Before my wife and I left I had all these opinions and thoughts about what would take place at this ceremony, some positive…some critical, but nonetheless…thoughts. My assumption was that there would be a long line of people who would be called up one by one and rushed off the stage after they received their certificates. I assumed there’d be no tears, no emotions, no frills, just a thank you and good luck. My dad dedicated so much of his life to something he believed in so much and it by no means made him a rich man, so if the frills were lacking I was going to be upset for him…even though I know he wouldn’t be.

You see, my dad isn’t by any means rich. He and my mom do well for themselves, and he always had enough to make sure we were good. He was a hard-worker. He always pushed us to be the best we could be with the knowledge of the world he had. He really is a huge pillar in our family. Growing up I always ignorantly measured success by the number of commas in one’s bank account. I grew up in the MTV cribs generation, so I was obviously desensitized to reality and it took until the past few years to finally begin waking up from that, anywho…I digress.

On Friday when I arrived at the ceremony my dad’s colleagues asked for the family to stand…my family. We stood and they gave us a standing ovation and began talking about how much my dad praised us around the office. I quickly learned that he was the entire focus of this ceremony. This wasn’t some big group send off, this was a group of over 50 people who showed up specifically for my dad. Person after person came up to the front of the crowd to sing my dad’s praises…many citing how great of a guy he was, and telling stories of how my dad’s compassion, empathy, faith, and assistance had a positive impact on their life. I was impressed. I began to assess myself and consider that I could barely name 10 people who probably have decent things to say about me, and here my dad is with a room full of people who adored him. You can tell they showed up for more than just free food, but rather the send off of a companion and influence. Every speak told their story either with tears running down their cheek or with red, watery eyes…obviously trying to hold back their tears.

I sympathize with that, because if anyone looked at me they probably saw a drop or two of liquid forming in my eye…which I’d obviously dismiss as allergies. On Friday I saw what being rich truly meant. Money is nice to have. I pray one day my dad wins the lottery as he always talks about what he’d do with the winnings. Even if that never happens I hope he realizes that he has wealth beyond measure. He has made an impact on the lives of his co-workers and their families in an incredible way and that shouldn’t be overlooked.

I hope my dad finally takes some time to rest, but the day after he came over to spend time with his grandchildren and his children. I asked, “Dad…you can finally do whatever you want, what are you going to do now?” He responded with, “spend my remaining free time continuing to give of myself to my family to make up for any time I couldn’t give you all over the 51 years.”

Dad, I hope you know that’s a TERRIBLE answer…a real terribly great answer. I love you man and you don’t know about the blog but one day you might and you will see that here on January 10, 2020 you cemented your legacy in retirement…but you will also see that on January 12, 2020 your youngest son shared it on the internet and cemented your legacy for many to hear about for all of eternity. You are a rock and you continue to help me grow to become a better man all the time. I know I’m hard-headed and stubborn sometimes because I obviously know it all, but truthfully…every discussion is one that lingers long after you walk out of my door or I walk out of yours. Thanks for always doing right by me and thanks for giving 51 years of your life in service to our country and our family.

Sleep, You Shall Elude Me NO MORE!

Today is two for…Thursdays!? No…alright, guess it doesn’t work like that lol. However, today is Thursday and you are getting 2 entries from me. How does one define sleep? We won’t begin like that. This blog is simply a direct callout to my poor sleep habits!

Activating the Tools Towards Reaching My Higher Self

It’s 2020, and we all have resolutions. I’m not foolish enough to believe that real change can come overnight. I’ve spent years going in the wrong direction, so it would simply be naive to believe I could correct all of my poor habits with the utterance of a few words or phrases. It’s just not possible. Declaring what you want to change however can activate the PROCESS of changing. I place emphasis on process because to implement change and reach any one of your resolutions you have to understand the steps involved.

If you are capable of making adjustments on the fly with very little course correction then I tip my hat to you. I, as I’m sure most of us, are not as disciplined. The idea is to implement small changes that help you shape the bigger picture. If you’re trying to start a new diet, going through your fridge and tossing out ALL the bad food is probably a bit extreme, and eating only healthy every meal of everyday is most likely a sure fire way to fail. Perhaps eating healthy one day out the week is a more realistic achievement, especially if you have poor willpower. Houses aren’t built in a day, they’re built brick by brick. That is the same approach we need to take with our lives and habits.

Sleep Like a Baby…Hopefully

I realized that the one habit I can form that will help me in all of my goals is to develop better sleep habits. I’m not sleep expert, but I can safely say I’ve been doing it all wrong for a long time now.

Let’s keep it 100, I’ve been a mess. In my early to mid 20’s I worked and partied…HARD! Most of my nights were either night shift, or out on the town. Many of them concluded at about 2 – 5am. I’d often come home, rest for a bit…but usually wake up after about 4 hours for fear of wasting my whole day away.

Then we we enter my mid to late 20’s. I decided to go back to college and I operated at an accelerated pace, usually taking anywhere from 12 to 18 hours, year around. There were no breaks. I needed my degree, and I needed it fast. I’d be up late once again, either doing homework, projects, or…you guessed it…PARTYING! Not as hard as my early 20’s, but it was in there. I’d catch as much sleep as possible and then be up early to attend class. The consistent theme was usually Saturdays or Sundays I’d try to make up for the lost hours throughout the week, but it just never felt right. I just never felt right.

Then we enter my late 20’s to early 30’s…present day. I had a quick break after graduating from college and then it was off to the rat race. I go to work, and I’ve endured long hours to try and impress my employer. I got married, I have 3 children (which take up considerable amounts of time), and I’ve tried the “come home and watch TV until early morning” method of relaxing, as well as the “come home and grind on side hustles until early morning” method of progressing in my career. All of these elements have probably created the worst sleep habit I’ve had to date, even worse than my partying days!

It’s time to steer the ship in the right direction.

What Am I Doing About It

Starting this year I said…enough is ENOUGH! I can’t go at this pace anymore. I’ve found myself experiencing fatigue, mentally and physically, depression, anxiety, irritability, and so many other things I’m sure are associated with my lack of sleep. I’m tired y’all…like…every minute of every day…I AM TIRED! It’s been getting better though.

TV is a Blocker

I started turning the TV off early this past week. I realize that it’s been easy for me to binge my favorite shows on any one of the plethora of streaming services I use. Sometimes I’m not even really interested in what’s on, there’s just been a comfort or a sense of relaxation my mind has associated with having that screen on. It is quite unhealthy and I know I waste so many minutes being unproductive in front of it, especially at night. It had to stop. I’ve now promised myself to turn it off by no later than 10:30pm.

Laying Down Earlier

I’ve had a bad habit of moving around too much. When you have 3 kids (14, 9, and 1) it is very easy to get wrapped up in cooking dinner, cleaning up the dishes or the family room, checking homework, etc. etc. There’s a lot associated with being a good parent. It is time consuming. I’m also a talker, so I’m constantly giving my children those 90’s tv sitcom level talks. Mine aren’t quite as brief though, I’m long-winded, if you couldn’t tell from my blog lengths lol…I’m working on it. I’m getting in the habit of getting these things started earlier though so that I can lay down earlier. Dinner has gone from 8pm to 6pm, so this gives myself and the wife more time to get things done early that way we can lay down early. It is important to have unwind time just to feel like your entire day wasn’t given to everybody else but yourself.

Automation and Preparation

Another key thing that I’ve started doing is preparing most things the night before, so that in the morning I don’t have to get up quite as early. I’ve started picking out my outfit for the next day, ironing, setting the coffee maker, shaving and showering, and packing my work bag the night before. These seem like small things but in the morning when it comes to getting out the door they make a HUGE difference. This allows me to catch a few more “Z’s”.

I’m actually looking to cut out the outfit process altogether by becoming a minimalist in the attire department, that’s a work in progress though…remember, all things in time #trustTheProcess.

Taking Melatonin

This particular part might be controversial, but I tried melatonin for the first time in my life yesterday. I really just wanted to re-establish my sleep pattern so I figured I’d use this as a catalyst. I don’t know if it’s something I’d use permanently, as I’ve heard mixed things about it, but I can tell you it work…perhaps too well.

The reason I got it was because early this year I’ve found myself trying to lay down early, only to find I can go to sleep! My wife lays down at the same time as me and she’s out with 5 minutes (if that!) It really is not fair. I took it last night and I knocked out fast and hard. The reason why I said it probably worked too well is because I feel asleep by 11pm and I set my alarm for 6am. My body can typically perform highly off of 6 hours of sleep, the melatonin however seems to want more than that. I didn’t end up waking up until 8am. That was in spite of having 2 alarms set. I did feel good when I woke up but I got to work much later than I wanted to. I’m trying to get to the point where I can get up regularly at 5 or 5:30am so I can begin to attack one of my actual resolutions, getting back into the gym.

In Progress…Buying a New Pillow

Yesterday I asked my wife, “how much would be too much for a new pillow?” She said, “I don’t know, fifteen dollars”. That didn’t stop me from looking at $60 dollar pillows online. I found those first few nights I was up laying in the dark that my current pillow is super uncomfortable. It’s very flat and soft. I feel as though it’s hindering quality sleep. I woke up each day with a migraine and work was tough to get through. I read some things about memory foam and super firmness being great for people who fall into the same boat as me. I don’t know if that’s all marketing tactics, but I’m willing to try anything to help with my sleep journey. If you know of any awesome pillows I could try please drop a comment. I’m open to it.

Conclusion

This post is only partially about sleep. While I do seek to improve my sleep habits, I’m mostly committed to the idea that all things in life are a journey and require a process, even something as trivial as sleep. If we can understand that it takes time and small steps to achieve big goals then perhaps, maybe perhaps, this year we might actually make progress towards achieving them. Remember, progress does not require perfection…but perfection can be achieved from progress.

Be blessed and I love y’all!

I Don’t Know if it Will Work, and That’s Okay

Hey squad, we are now 5 followers deep and that’s a big accomplishment for this poor misguided personal journal of mine. That’s probably a bit harsh of a criticism on myself because really…this is for me, and for you if you take anything away from my entries. It will get more guided over time. That’s a perfect intro for my next sentiments.

All Beginnings Feel a Bit Rough…at Least for Me

When I started this blog I had no idea if it would work…I still really don’t, but I’m here fairly consistently. I’ve begun to make peace with the idea that there are things that are simply beyond my control. Perspective is key. Why did I initially sign up for this blog in the first place? I didn’t sign up for it with the intent of it being a 6-figure a year passive income juggernaut! That would be incredibly dope, but that wasn’t my “why”…at least not for TodayTheory anyway. I always wanted to start a blog, and I wanted to journal…and that was my “why”. Mission accomplished. I don’t want to lose sight of that, and when analytics are involved (likes, views, etc.) it is indeed very easy to get side-tracked. This blog doesn’t generate a bunch of traffic, but it is successful in the sense that since it’s creation I find myself revisiting my posts and using them as a reminder that I’m responsible for holding myself accountable to my goals. I’m reminded that others opinions of me are not all that significant and that I am the captain of this ship that is my life. The blog is helping me to do that and stay in the lane I’m creating for myself. All things in my life haven’t been peachy, but whenever I truly dedicate myself to anything I’ve always managed to get it done and accomplish great things.

Analytics…Ssshmanalytics!

The numbers aren’t great…who cares! When you assess your “why” (unless your why is to have kickass analytics) you have to stay motivated behind that, and ONLY that. Hopefully whatever you do has a greater meaning and purpose behind it. That’s not to say that everything you do has to initiate change across the entire planet. It could simply be world-changing in the bubble that is YOUR world.

Getting More Focused

With this understanding of myself it is time I get more focused. I’m generally a focused guy, but typically my energy is misplaced. I have dreams, but I’m constantly sucked back in by my corporate job. I keep telling myself about all the independence and freedom I wish to have, and how nice it would be to have the luxury of doing meaningful work that I’m passionate about for the rest of my life. I find myself waking up on Mondays and get back to the rat race. “I could use this time to work on my stuff, but there’s a possibility that this quarter I could get that next promotion!” STOP IT! (obviously I’m yelling at myself). I have to remind myself that the last promotion wasn’t that great, and that it came several years too late after lots of hard work and overtime. You have to respect yourself more…you’re better than that.

I Don’t Know if It Will Work…

The more focused part of this post circles back to the title. The reason I don’t invest more energy into the passions that I have is because when you consider the idea of getting paid to do them it’s easy to tell yourself “I don’t know if it will work”.

I’m going to focus on logo design, web-design and web-development. If I could loop real hip-hop and r&b music in there somehow, and fitness, that would be awesome! Everyone tells me that it’s a hard road to step out and do something on your own, or they tell you about their failed attempts. When you consider these things you get in your own head and question why would it be any different for you?

The things I mentioned I don’t enjoy necessarily for money. I’d love to get paid to do them, but I truly am interested in those things. Each of those trades and skills bring me a great deal of joy. The reason I wish to do them is because they add intrigue into my life. I don’t know if I can make any money doing them…

And That’s Okay!

You need to stay focused on the intrinsic properties of your aspirations and get out of your own way. Don’t not attempt to try because of self-doubt or negativity from your colleagues / friends / family. Step out on faith and do what you love simply because you love it. Then figure out how you can inspire and help others along in their journey who enjoy these same passions. It all starts from a pure place, follow your heart and you’ll never go wrong.

Be blessed and I love you all!

P.S. Thank you to my 5 Followers and Going Forward…

Thank you all for reading any one of my lengthy entries. You all are awesome and I hope that you got whatever you needed from whatever you read.

2020 New Year’s Resolutions

It’s been another few days and I’m back. Happy 2020 everybody (insert party emoji). I believe it’s important to kick the year off right by declaring my resolutions for the new year. I love and hate the idea of this. I told myself that this year I would not be forthcoming in having a set of goals I make known relative to the holiday, but I’ve decided to do so anyway. I’ve been accustomed to partaking in this type of tradition only to find myself revert to the same old mentality and poor habits I exhibited the year before. It hasn’t been productive for me, but I refuse to submit to my old way of thinking and will have faith that something will have finally changed in me this year to pursue the desires of my heart without fail. Let’s dive right in.

Resolution 1: Abide by the Four Agreements

This entry isn’t sponsored, as I’ve stated before I just share what I’m actually doing and reading if it happens to inspire me. I am currently reading “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz and it’s a good book. I believe that my success begins here. If I assess myself I find that I am a person with limiting beliefs. I always think small, or I exercise impatience and it leads me down a road of feeling like I’m not capable of achieving anything more than what I have. I am my own worst enemy. I invest a lot of energy into other people’s opinions and as a result I’m barely living life. I shrink down in the idea that people are always judging me and that is simply not okay. They could or could not be, but that shouldn’t be the reason I deprive myself of being, doing, and seeing more.

The four agreements are:

  • Be impeccable with your word
  • Don’t take anything personally
  • Don’t make assumptions
  • Always do your best
Resolution 2: Get Focused on becoming a Front-End Developer and Branding

I really did try to narrow this down to only one. A person who is inspiring to me is Tyler Perry. I’ve been listening to a lot of his speaking engagements lately and a thing he recommends is focusing on one thing. I’ve heard and read about this in other places as well, but these 2 things in particular are the ones that really have had me for some time now.

I have limiting beliefs in each, but I just enjoy them. I need to get to the point where I truly do just take part in them for the love of creating. I have this terrible habit of thinking about the outcome before I really immerse myself into the journey. As a family man, and a person who is in considerable debt I often find myself doing things with money being the motivator. It really dampens the experience because I always feel this sense of haste or sense of taking no action.

The haste portion of my statement applies to development. I love learning to build things on my computer. However, I plow through courses and materials trying to cram as much information in my brain as possible with this idea that it will lead to a higher paying job. The end result is mental fatigue and sheer disappointment when those things don’t seem to be in my grasp. This causes me to have spells of demotivation which get in the way of the learning process. It also forces me to be hyper-critical on myself believing that I’m simply not capable of becoming a programmer, and the one thing that I do know for sure about myself is that I’m fully capable and intelligent enough to make this dream a reality. I need to forget short-term success now and just learn to love doing what I’m doing simply because it brings joy, fulfillment, and value into my soul.

The taking no action portion applies to branding. This is an area I feel I could dig deeper into and I feel like I’m fairly decent at the craft. The reason why I don’t share more of it online and in the world is because of the limiting belief that there is no money to be made at the end of that journey. I have to stop making these kinds of assumptions. I see people who are successful doing it independently but I often think as though that isn’t possible for me. That idea alone forces me to put that particular passion on the shelf because I want the money and success now. That isn’t healthy and the will lead me nowhere.

Resolution 3: Build Better Habits around Time Management

I need to make optimal use of my time and stop getting distracted. Last night I promised I would get in bed by 10:30pm and somehow I stumbled upon a new series on Netflix that kept me up binging until 3am. That simply cannot continue. My poor habit rub off onto my wife as well and that isn’t fair. I have the television on and she is not really a tv person. I came into her world and disrupted it with my own selfishness. I typically don’t even turn the tv on until about 8pm, but that’s enough to derail one of the most important elements of human existence, rest.

We need rest to function and operate at a high-level. The time I spent watching that show, while it was relaxing, added no real value to enhance the overall quality of my, and our (my family), life.

I also need to schedule out times in my day to dedicate to the things I want to get done. It is very easy for me to get sidetracked throughout my workday by meetings that may, or may not, be important. I can’t fully avoid how that’s going to go, but I can make an effort to reduce interruption as often as I can and make sure the time I designate for the most important things goes uninterrupted.

This also needs to be done for my free time. This includes my mornings, evenings, and weekends. Self-discipline is key and freedom can be found in structure.

Resolution 4: Get back to working out

I know we’ve all said this one, but I’m not getting any younger. It’s time to make time throughout my day to do some form of working out. I want to recapture where I was when I was at my best physically. Every time I go back I lose motivation because of the journey. I fail to remember that when I was at my best that it didn’t happen overnight. I had more time available to me so it was easier, but I still made time and did it just because it was fun for me at the time. The icing on the cake was that I looked and felt good. I also fail to acknowledge that my current physical situation didn’t happen overnight either. This is years of inactivity paired with poor eating and dieting habits. It’s going to take time but I need to do something to build the love for working out again and try to change the mindstate behind my reasons why I go. I’ll add nutrition to this paragraph as a bullet point. My family eats fairly well, we always try to cook at home more often than not, but I could still up the proteins and reduce the carbs and sodium.

Resolution 5: Identify my “Why” to live with faith and purpose

I really have so many things I want to accomplish, but I need to identify my why’s and stay focused on that. I also need to have more faith. I simply do things and proclaim to be a person of faith, but let’s be real…my faith is trash. I love God. I know I could stand to be more consistent with my expression of that and learning around his word, but I do know some things. I know God knows our heart, and I express faith in the things that I do and seek out loud, but in my heart I know I don’t truly believe that many of those things I desire can come true. That’s probably why I’ve proceeded to take action but my actions have not been successful. I really need to reframe my mind to say that the things I feel compelled to do have been commissioned by God, and operate within those without the thought of worldly gain. If it comes as a result of me doing what I do because I feel it must be done, then that is a miracle. One simply cannot just exists around the promises of more money or rewards from your employer, there has to be a deeper meaning to life and purpose in all the things that you do. That’s what I need to seek and find this year. I fear dying not having understood that. I fear dying having been at the mercy of man and not fulfilling my spirit and purpose.

This year I will strive to serve my God, myself, my family, and my friends more so than serve the outside influences and constructs of the constraints the World has placed on me. We all have the ability to be and do what we want and it’s fear that keeps us from ascending to become our best self.

Conclusion

I’m not going to sit here and say “New Year, New Me”. I’ve said it jokingly, but there are many who say this seriously. It’s not my place to judge or interpret the truthfulness behind those words for anybody other than myself. I know there are things I need to work on, and the reason I committed to this activity is because I’ve heard it’s good to write down your goals. Put it in black and white and proclaim it to the universe and yourself so that you may take action to manifest these things. I simply want to be and have the desire to be better. I’m documenting this so that I may revisit this in 364 more days to see how I’ve progressed. Something has to change, and it’s been needing to change for some time. With each passing day I learn more about myself and what I feel can lead me to be all that I know I can be.

This is a long read. I’ve said this time and time again, these entries are for me. If you just so happen to read them then I hope you take something away from it and apply it to your personal journey as well. If you found this you’re obviously in a similar state of mind as myself, so good luck to you and let’s make it happen. Love you and be blessed!

I Started Playing Video Games Again and it Felt GOOD! The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Becoming an Adult

I have been working diligently. Probably too diligently. I’m a husband and father of 3 daughters ranging from 14 down to 1. I’m in a blended family, but that’s probably another blog entry…I love all of my children equally. Anywho, as a husband and father I spend a lot of time working my regular corporate gig, and then coming home to do the family thing which is then followed by more work independently to continue to build my skills and portfolio. I’m seek to transition into an entirely new career field as a Full-Stack Developer. It is a lot of work and definitely an uphill climb.

I can comfortably say that being a good family man consumes a good portion of my day. I don’t necessarily always put myself first but I’m learning to designate some time for that. I’ve been aspiring to get back into the gym, start my blog, and eventually build my own application. I hope to accomplish these things soon, I don’t want to be the “new year new me” guy, but I’ll admit that will most likely be me to kick off 2020.

Who Was I Before All of This

Before I became the man I am with all of these goals and responsibilities I was the guy who spent 5 days a week in the gym. I was in the best shape of my life. I also was a poet / rapper who spent my weekends in various spots doing musical performances and spoken word. I also was a HUGE lover of video games. I loved sports games, RPG’s, first-person shooters, platformers, and really just any game that told a beautiful story.

All of that went to the wayside. The old me was buried in the attic…until a few days ago. I dusted a part of the old me off and woke him up, if only for a moment.

Nintendo, A Blast From My Past

The past couple of days I’ve been playing the Wii U. You might say, the Wii U? That’s old. Let me explain. For Christmas I bought my children the Nintendo Switch. I bought them Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Smash Bros. Ultimate. They’ve been playing and loving it. I rarely ever played games with them though because I’m usually working. On Christmas, I decided to sit down and go a few rounds with them. I loved it. It was fun. I was reminded of the times my brother and I would spend together gaming. It wasn’t exactly the same, but it was loads of fun nonetheless.

After this realization I took the Wii U I had disconnected earlier in the day and connected it in the master bedroom. I had a plan. The next day I went out and purchased The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for the Wii U. I know they make it for the Switch, but I wanted to have some alone time with it in the confines of my own space. Growing up Zelda was one of my favorite game series of ALL TIME. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was easily my favorite game ever.

I unpackaged it, booted it up, and I instantly got this nostalgic feeling. I felt like a kid again. The graphics are amazing, even on the Wii. That’s one thing I always appreciated about Zelda, was how stylistically the games are always beautiful and occasionally they go outside the lines to try something different. Graphically I began to get Wind Waker vibes. To some degree it reminded me of the cel-shading they used in that game. The gameplay itself definitely reminds me of Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess. I’m no Zelda expert and I haven’t played ALL of the games, but this was giving me some good vibes.

Hours Upon Hours of Fun

I spent hours in front of my TV. My wife didn’t fully understand why, but she played along. She knows that in another life I loved gaming. Before it was trendy, it simply was just good fun for me. As I got older I still asked for games because of the idea of playing them seemed fun, however, I’ve never actually played most of them. I took the plastic off and many of them just sat…unused. This was on the Playstation 3, the XBOX One, and the Wii U. There’s so many games that I’d love to play and never made it to. A part of me thinks about going back and catching up on all the ones I’ve not only missed in my adult life, but also the ones that I wanted to play as a kid but never got the chance to experience. I grew up in a family where money was tight, so getting the latest and greatest games wasn’t much of a priority for my parents.

Will I venture back to see what I’ve missed in the world of gaming over the past decade or so, I don’t know? I do know that I will try to spend a little more time entertaining my interest from the past. It’s easy to begin to lose your identity. As an adult I don’t have the luxury of gaming all day like I used to in my childhood, but that doesn’t mean I have to bury elements of who I was entirely as I work towards who I’m trying to become.

Conclusion

We grow up so fast, and soon we put away the so-called childish things. It’s sad because some of those childish things helped shape us to become the people that we are today. As an adult everything doesn’t always have to be so serious, or just constant work. We should have light moments where we can just immerse ourselves in those things we were interested and curious about in another time before responsibilities started kicking our asses. I’m not saying waste days away on these things, but give yourself permission to explore your inner child and you surely won’t regret it…in fact, you’ll be better for it.

What are some things that you’ve buried away from your past that you wouldn’t mind picking back up and exploring? Let me know in the comments below.

As always, until the next time have a blessed day!