Chapter 6: Empathy in Design and Helping the Wife Follow Her Dreams

INTRO

Day number 6 and we’re truckin’ along. Welcome back. Today was a pretty solid day, I can’t say anything out of the ordinary took place. I awoke, made my green tea, I did skip breakfast…BUT…I ended up combining breakfast with my pre-made lunch to create a pretty awesome brunch! It was basically a breakfast burger (eggs, sausage, and ground beef) with a side of roasted potatoes. It was absolutely delicious. I also still tracked my macros and once again hit my daily goals afforded me courtesy of the MyFitnessPal app. I must say, this app rocks! Those were be major successes. I also got some quality coding time in. I’ve decided to refocus my efforts by utilizing the education offered up on the MDN website. It really is pretty solid and I think that it’s helping me to operate at a steady enough pace that aides me in memory retention. The program forces you to work through sets of problems and doesn’t offer you the ability to just click to see the answer once you get stumped. I find myself searching the interwebs to piece certain things together or recall what method and properties to use in certain situations…almost like…a REAL PROGRAMMER!!! I’m excited!

EMPATHY IN DESIGN, AND REALIZING I’M NOT ALONE

Today was another work day, but it wasn’t an ordinary work day. We had a department conference of sorts. There was no work being done, but we were treated to talks by some powerful speakers in the field of design.

The first speaker was David Dylan Thomas. His focus was on Designing for Cognitive Bias. Please look him up on YouTube, his talk was incredible. It was centrally focused on the idea that when we design we often approach it with these inherent biases that we’re not even aware of. That even when we try to avoid them we find ourselves still relying on them as they are ingrained in us. He asserted the idea that we should strive to frame our problem statement in such a way that it seeks to remove bias from the answer. That’s a real low-level recap, but please…look him up, he’s awesome.

The second speaker touched my spirit though. Her name was Sekai Farai, and everything she said regarding empathy in design spoke to my current feelings about the role I play within my company. She asserted the idea that most empathy in design is BS because it’s not genuine. She was provocative in her stance that most times we like to believe we’re approaching research and problem solving from some righteous place and completely unaware that the output is usually self-serving. It might start from a good place but ultimately the process becomes diluted by weighing the needs of the company over the needs of the consumer. Once again, a low-level recap, but she posed the question that if we become aware that this is what we are doing at a company then we must ask ourselves, why are you working here and should you be working here. Oh man, it was powerful. It really validated a lot within me because when I signed up to do this kind of work my intention was to help people. I find myself arguing for what I feel is right for the consumer way too often with business partners and it becomes disheartening. I just need to continue to look to the future for my exit plan, but today was refreshing to say the least. There was no work, just some really inspirational words from some really powerful speakers.

HELPING THE WIFE FIND HER DREAMS

Once the work festivities ended it was time to jump into my next job, which is video editing for the wife. I’ve not mentioned this, but just as I find myself on this new journey my wife also is in a season of transformation. My wife LOVES sweets, and more importantly, she loves to bake! She’s really taken to it and has been practicing each week. We started up a YouTube channel for her and she’s been very diligent in her approach with it. She also started up an Instagram and is growing on both platforms slowly, but, organically. She’s committed to the process and I often help her take pictures of her baked good while also filming and editing her videos. It’s a lot of work while I’m also trying to discover some things about myself, but her persistence and pursuit of her dreams is actually rather inspiring to me. I tell her all the time that watching her is helping me to push for more as well in the realm of my dreams and passions.

I must admit…editing these videos can be draining, but I promised to help and sometimes I’m a little slow to get things done…but to my credit, I go to work for 8 hours out of the day, help her, and still try to make time for the family as a whole. My time is stretched very thin…but perhaps one day I’ll find some extra time in my day.

CLOSING REMARKS

Welp, it’s back to editing my wife’s latest video. My encouragement to you today would be to keep making strides towards your goals and dreams if you’re currently on your own journey. Push through the tiredness and long work hours and also open your mind to some new ideas and inspirations. This could be in the form of powerful speakers or professionals in your area of interest, or in the form of books, podcast, etc.

Anywho, I hope everyone continues to stay safe and remember as always…be blessed! Until next time.

Chapter 5: Learning to Protect Your Energy and Focus

INTRO

Today is day 5 in my journey towards trying to restructure my life, but day 2 back to work since I made this declaration. Overall I feel like I’m doing well, but I’m finding that I was only semi-aware of the frustrations I have with my job. Going back into a work environment that has tons of stresses makes it increasingly difficult to stay focused on the journey ahead. It’s like the equivalent of planning a road trip and encountering storms along the way. You’re likely to arrive at your destination if you keep going, however, you might have to take some detours and significant amounts of rest along the way which only prolongs your travels. This leads to anxiety. That’s the basis of today’s entry, so let’s get into it.

“MAN, WE’RE BLESSED TO HAVE A JOB”, YES…KINDA

You read that title above correctly. Having a job is definitely a blessing. My co-workers who have equal levels of frustration with the job often utter this phrase. During this time of uncertainty, having stable income feels like a God-send. Everyday presents it stressors but I couldn’t fathom quitting, well I can and I can’t…let me explain. I couldn’t fathom quitting because I know there are tons of people who would likely love to be in the situation I’m in, strictly for the pay and flexibility. Years ago when I decided to go back to school this was some version of what I dreamed of, maybe not necessarily the type of products I work on…but definitely the industry I wanted to be in. I come from a background of service level jobs where I’m used to working hard. I’ve never been good navigating the bureaucracy of the corporate world but quite frankly, in those jobs I never really had to. I showed up with a smile on my face, engaged my co-workers, and then we got after the work. The pay wasn’t good, so those jobs eventually created a level of frustration as well. I’m sure most jobs probably do after some time. Then I worked contract for the military and that was fantastic. It was a small group of contractors and civil-service employees that worked in a small building on post. We knew what our objectives were, we leaned on each other heavily, and we got sh*t done. It was beautiful.

I then left that position because I was offered a corporate gig with a large company. The pay was going to be better than anything my contractor could offer, and the benefits seemed better as well. I also appreciated the idea that I wouldn’t be going in as the top-level guy. I would be going in as a mid-level employee, which was what I wanted because I knew there was a lot left to learn about my profession, especially within the context of a Fortune 100 company. It seemed right due to the pay and the acquisition of knowledge. I was excited at first, but once you’re in…after some time, you quickly begin to realize that design isn’t given as much respect as you’d imagine it would be, at least at certain companies. While I will say, I’ve learned a TON of professional things…I’ve also learned that in many cases the influence of design isn’t meant to flourish within certain companies. Your creative is given a death sentence in favor of project delivery and pleasing your business partners. Your ideas, no matter how ambitious, will most always be shelved in favor of what can be done the fastest. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but I got into this business because I love to be creative, and over the past several years I’ve been so drained that my creative spirit seems to have eluded me. It’s gone…but I want it back.

Once I leave this job, and I will eventually, I believe that I most likely won’t work for a major company again. This has been brutal and I can’t see myself dedicating this level of effort over the course of the next 20 years of my life doing something that feels defeating. The only things this job is good for these days are wasting my time in HOURS of pointless meetings, and having my professionalism and ideas constantly questioned and re-imagined by people who aren’t designers. They have a strong say in the creative process and that’s fine to a point, but when the requirements change week to week and they refuse to commit to testing our concepts with users it begins to feel as though one is running on a hamster wheel. It sucks…it really does.

VALUE ADD TO THE WORLD OVER A PAYCHECK

To anyone who is struggling financially and feels like I’m ungrateful, I won’t try to convince you otherwise. I do however pray that your situation improves and that you not only find gainful income, but that you find your passion and income that’s generated from that passion so that you never find yourself in the same predicament that most of us are in. That position, no matter how much they offer you, is usually one where you’re subservient to some “boss” who has the ability to control your earning potential or employment status. I don’t care who you are…that BLOWS MAN!!! If you’re currently free from work do yourself a favor and dig deep to make your passion your source of income, whatever that is. We all aspire for freedom. The deeper you become ingrained in a major company for a certain salary, the harder it becomes to distance yourself from that way of life. Also, if you consider net worth and debt some of the people in seemingly higher positions than you…making significantly more money than you….might in actuality be worse off or more broke than you. Even if they wanted to leave many of them feel shackled to that position just to maintain.

Now I don’t want to sound too sunshine and rainbows and pretend like money doesn’t factor in. It does in some capacity. If you need a job to get by until your hustle picks up, play the game. Just don’t allow yourself to become trapped in the game. I’m finally seeing the world for what it is and I realize that it’s important to spend this one life that we have doing things you love and focusing your energy on things that are most important. These things include your friends, family, health (both physical and mental), and the greater world around you that needs whatever light you possess to shine brightly. That’s why I’m blogging now and will eventually start a YouTube channel doing the things I love. There’s somebody out there going through a similar journey right now…and they’re probably looking to learn something from me, just as I am looking for them as well. We’d be selfish to withhold that from those who need it.

SO…NOW…ABOUT MY DAY…

As I’ve stated before, the primary focus of each entry will be to focus on the major insight I found from the day. I’d say overall I maintained success. I drank my green tea, ate 3 square meals and a snack, and tracked my macros.

I also did some coding, which I will most likely resume in the morning since my day is light tomorrow. I decided to begin building a basic app just for practice. I’m toying with the idea of making it an app…I’d give the details but I’m not ready to see it stolen yet LOL. It really will be a simple project though. I feel like I could set it up in a way that’s RESTFUL, I can set up some routes, allow users to view or filter things in a Reddit style fashion, and maybe we’ll even hook it up to a Mongo server. I have to begin to figure it out…because Development is REALLY where I want to be. Trial by fire, right? Cast fear aside in pursuit of greatness.

Outside of that I was displeased that I took a long nap. I think I was out from 6pm to 9:30pm. I was tired. I had tons of brutal meetings that really stressed me out and depressed me. They also have a tendency to make me second guess my abilities and have loads of self-doubt. I’m learning to forgive myself and remind myself that God has something much better for me, and this is his way encouraging me to move on and move forward.

CONCLUSION

I have to learn to focus and protect my energy on that which matters. Building forms for consumer loans isn’t my life purpose. That’s what I do now…I know, earth shattering, right? (sarcasm).I do it to the best of my abilities but I know we all have something great to offer the world. I’m in pursuit of it and I hope that if you are too. If not…well…let’s begin.

I love you all, I hope you are doing well…and most importantly…always be blessed!

Chapter 4: Counting Macros and Covid

INTRODUCTION

Good evening everyone! Back for another entry in my daily blog series. I hope everyone is having an incredibly blessed day. If you’re just now joining me then just know this is the blog that lacks complete structure currently, but primarily exist as an experiment to force myself to write about my day for 365 days. To recap, I do have some goals lined up…and in a future entry (near future) I will share out a complete list of my short-term and long-term goals. However, right now I’m focusing on discovering the important insights from each day and diving deeper to understand those particular things. Let’s begin.

ANOTHER MONDAY…(SIGH)

Happy Monday to everyone. Do you ever wonder what it’s like to live in a world where we no longer are imprisoned by the feeling of Monday’s? It’s kind of a sad state of being that we loathe Mondays and covert Fridays. It’s symbolic of how miserable each day in between is. I know everyone doesn’t feel this way, but I do. I’ve done my best to not be so open about it, but it’s hard to not acknowledge the stigma surrounding both days as you hear your co-workers groan on Monday morning and begin the “Can’t wait until Friday” chants bright and early Tuesday morning. It is my promise to myself that I will find a way to escape out of this matrix and find a state of existence where everyday contains equal levels of joy. However, until that day…I’ll press on and do my best to be positive and I’d encourage you all to do the same. Negativity is hard to cast aside but I do feel like it will improve your mental health to try and focus on the positive.

Today’s success seemed a bit more minimal. I stayed true to my green tea transition. I once again ate breakfast. I hate to be so repetitive so there comes a point where I feel like once I hit my stride around a goal that it no longer requires mention or praise of it’s completion.

Monday’s are always tough…and this is my first Monday with this new mindset that I’m working hard to adopt. If ever there was a test, this was it. Nothing terribly bad happened, but I just didn’t find a lot of “me” time. There was very little personal development today due to an abundance of meetings…which, I don’t understand when I’m expected to work when I have 4 hours of meetings almost everyday, that’s another rant for another time though. Not only did I have meetings, but when I got off of work my wife decided it would be a good idea to meet up with her best friend for drinks because she is currently going through some tough times…so I understand that. The only problem was, I got in bed terribly late last night so I was extremely tired. I still have to get this sleep thing right. I’m running on minimal sleep, I just worked a full day…and now I have to help the kids with homework and watch over a baby all while cooking dinner and making sure everyone sticks to their bedtime routine. Needless to say, this was a rough one.

THE BIG WIN, COUNTING MACROS

Even with all of that there was a big new win for the day. I began counting Macros! Why am I counting macros you might ask…and what are Macros!? Well, macros are your macronutrients. The idea of IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) seeks to assess how much food you should consume for your fitness goals, specifically based around your current build and desire build. The primary areas that most people tend to focus on, myself included, are proteins, fats, and carbs.

I started counting these because I want to get a general idea of two things…

What should I be putting in my body, and how much am I currently putting in my body.

Today I used MyFitness Pal to track every meal and snack. It felt good to dust of the food scale I got 2 Christmas’s ago and be discipline enough to calculate everything. The idea would be to see how close to my mark am I getting currently and then adjust my diet to fall as close into my desired range as possible. I’m also putting together a home workout routine that will accompany this habit as well.

NOW, WHERE DOES COVID FACTOR IN TO ALL OF THIS

Now let’s touch on this Covid piece. Well, nobody in my household has Covid…and that’s a blessing. Before I even get into this part I hope that whoever is reading this, wherever you are, is keeping themselves safe and healthy during these trying times. Take care of yourselves.

My family and I have been very disciplined during this era of our history. We’ve only made home cooked meals since Mid-March of 2020, we’ve not attended any major events (indoor or outdoor). We’ve only seen our families marginally and outdoors, sometimes while wearing mask. We have been very adamant about keeping healthy. I firmly believe I already contracted Covid in February, as there was a period of a week and half I had to take off of work because I was intensely ill…which never really happens to me. I can’t confirm that though, but the thought lingers.

I say all of this to say that…I’M TIRED OF LIVING LIKE THIS!!! I was both annoyed and jealous that my wife got to hang out with her best friend tonight because they ended sitting indoors and having drinks, while she initially promised they’d be outdoors the whole time. I cold front blew in though and I guess the initial plan went out of the window. I was upset that my wife could potentially put the family in danger and be so irresponsible. However, I also secretly wished that could be me with my friends! It sparked a conversation when she got home around the idea that we begin venturing back out even though the news would tell you that the numbers are once again going up. I’m almost to the point where…well, I’m willing to risk it.

It doesn’t seem like we have a good grasp on this thing, at least in America, and I can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. The question I find myself pondering often these days is…when will it be safe to get back to normal during this pandemic, or if it ever will be? Can I wait any longer or do I risk getting it and pray that it helps me build an immunity for it. I don’t know how it works exactly, but since this virus has killed tons of people…it seems like a terrible risk to take (and rest the souls of those we’ve lost). It sucks that we’ve been put in such dire straits that one even has to consider just sucking it up and risk getting it as an option.

I just want the world to be a normal place again so I can take all of my positivity out into public and begin to find new ways to enjoy life with my family and friends.

I guess until that time comes I’ll have to continue to find creative ways to share my newfound mindset with the ones closest to me and also online.

CONCLUSION

Welp, my apologies. This one seems to have gotten a little long, but if you read this then thank you and I hope you are forever blessed. Remember, do your best to think positive and spread positivity and I know it will come back to you. Have a good one and I’ll see you tomorrow.

Chapter 3: Learning Code is Depressing

Back for Day number 3. Outside of a little headache today I’m feeling pretty good so far. Nothing life altering has transpired yet, but who would expect such things so early in the process. Keeping true to my promise I will do my best to keep this concise and hit on the high points of my day and the most critical insights.

SUCCESSES

Today started out good. I managed to eat breakfast 2 days in a row and also I did green tea instead of coffee again. My early suspicions regarding my headache might be the lack of caffeine consumption over the past couple of days. I heard this was a side-effect of reducing your caffeine intake, but I don’t know for sure if that’s the reason behind what I’m feeling currently…especially with it being so early in the process.

I also cleaned and took care of myself as promised. I shaved and cut my hair, which is something I want to be consistent with every Wednesday and Sunday. This seems trivial, but during Covid I’ve really lacked effort in making sure I keep myself well-groomed.

As I tend to do most days, I spent some time studying code…and while I consider that a positive that leads me to my biggest insight of the day.

I THINK I’M DOING IT WRONG!!!!

CODING HAS BEEN STRESSFUL, WHY DO I CONTINUE TO DO IT?

Let’s discuss this coding dream of mine. When I mentioned in the first blog entry in this series that I was going to be studying code, you might’ve assumed that this was some new passion of mine that I wanted to explore. Let me level set with you…this is not a new passion, not in the slightest. In the spirit of full transparency, which is what I intend for this blog, I’ve been studying code now…off and on for the better part of 2 years. I feel like I’ve learned a ton, but I honestly some days don’t know how to put it altogether and actually build anything for myself…I actually fear doing so, and that’s a major problem.

You might ask…what have you been studying exactly? Well…let’s list them off and let you know where I’m at in terms of my comprehension:

  • HTML – I’d consider myself very proficient / borderline expert in this
  • CSS – The same as HTML, I’m approaching expert status
  • JavaScript – I understand the syntax entirely…but some concepts like asynchronous programming and promises still give me troubles
  • Node – I get it, enough to get up and going
  • Express – I finally this year really put this together, still processing certain aspects like query params but overall I get the main concepts (which I’d say query params are also a main concept)
  • MongoDB – Oh my lord…this is the one that is puzzling me the most. I still need more practice, but I’m trying

If you couldn’t tell from that list, my focus has been very JavaScript heavy. I’ve really been working up to trying to become a full-stack developer, and I want to pursue a new career in this industry in 2021.

Right now I’m a UX Designer and I already have a strong background in design, to me it only makes sense to move into the space where I can gain the skills necessary to bring my creations to life with minimal or no assistance. That’s the goal. However, to date in my coding journey, I’ve built nothing comprehensive. I’ve integrated HTML, CSS, and a little JavaScript. I’m really puzzled with Mongo and Databases and I still know I need to get to React and Web Authentication / Security. Sometimes…this journey seems hopeless and it begins to feel like I’m wasting time.

WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT THIS?

Honestly, I’m open to suggestions if any programmers out there read this and have advice or want to take me under their wing. My gut instinct is to stop watching so many d*mn videos and start building things…even if they’re small right now. My mind has these grand visions of where I could be and it’s hindering me from swallowing my pride to build small projects. I’m even considering offering my services on a site like Fiverr for basically pennies. I do feel it’s important to get some real experience under my belt if I ever plan to get a job, which I don’t want a job forever, but I need the job in my opinion to strengthen my skills by having to apply them everyday.

I’ve tried a ton of Udemy courses, I’m subscribed to CodeCademy Pro, I’ve tried Free Code Camp, and I could just go on with all of the resources I’ve tapped into to try and become a developer…but I’ll stop there.

Tomorrow, I promise to figure out a better plan of attack for helping me feel like I’m making steps closer to helping my dream of working as a developer come true. I look forward to building my own passion projects and for whatever reason in my spirit I feel like this is the path I’m supposed to be on. I do get down on myself about it, but I’m not ready to quit…not just yet.

CONCLUSION

I know that each day is going to present a valuable insight. Tomorrow’s Monday, which I fear. I hate my job…you’ll hear me say that a lot, but I do. As these insights are revealed to me I’m making it my business to really spend time and explore these findings. I don’t just wish to explore them, but rather ideate on them and rapidly implement viable solutions that help me improve on that particular issue in my life. I’d encourage anyone who’s reading these entries to do the same. Life is hard, but I think the difficulty of it is compounded by the fact that most often we don’t stop to examine and resolve those things that cause us the greatest levels of stress and anxiety. Please, take a minute for yourself and really try to notice these insights as they’re presented to you and do yourself a favor by working to find resolution around them.

Thank you for reading and be blessed!

Chapter 2: Starting a New Journey and Baby Steps

INTRO

I’m back for the 2nd day in a row. I’ve decided the I’ll be making my entries for the day around bedtime. This is being done with the intention of being able to reflect on the events of the day and be able to examine what went well and what needs to continue to be pushed in the right direction. Some of these entries going forward might seem less exciting but I promised myself that I’d show, and show up I shall.

REFLECTING

I want to start this entry by first saying that man…it felt good to get some of the thing I mentioned in yesterday’s entry off of my chest. I woke up this morning and felt a bit more free than usual. My mind felt clear and spirit felt much lighter, almost as if a heavy burden was lifted off of it. I felt motivated and my goal for today was to keep the momentum shifting in the right direction.

I immediately made a list of things that I want to accomplish, both extrinsic and intrinsic. There are some major milestones on my roadmap that I’d love to hit, but in the spirit of progress being more important than perfection, I decided to take pride in any of the small wins I had for the day and am choosing to assess those as milestones that put me in the right direction of where I want to be. If you’re ready to hear about my milestones for the day then brace yourself, because here they come.

TODAY’S MILESTONES

Today was good. I…

  • Ate Breakfast – I woke up and made myself some breakfast. I tend to skip this meal but I wanted to focus on being better about my food consumption.
  • Skipped the Coffee in Favor of Green Tea – I am aware that I drink waayyyyy too much coffee and it’s something about myself I want to change. I’ve been reading about all of the benefits of green tea and so I recently ordered a glass tea kettle and a tea cup with a lid for improved steeping. I finally got the chance to take it for a test drive. I added a tad bit of honey to the tea for slightly improved flavor, but…no sugar or other sweeteners.
  • Tried Out the Pomodoro Technique – I hope I spelled that right, but yes…this is something I’ve ready about and I decided to implement it today to allow me to stick to a tighter schedule and not get so burnt out. This was only day one of testing this method out, but it felt good. Before I can give it a fair critique I need to continue trying it out for awhile longer, but I think this is going to work out nicely in helping me be more diverse in my time usage. I actually tried out the app, Focus Keeper, and it seems as if the Pomodoro technique is the default setting. I enjoyed it.
  • Didn’t Play Any Games – I actually didn’t watch a lick of tv until this evening, nor did I play any games. I’ve lately had a tendency to lose time with this senseless activity and I wanted to challenge myself to get back to a place of minimal time spent on entertainment.
  • Coded for 2-Hours – In my quest to pursue a career in development (I want to shift from UX Design to Full-Stack Development) I often find time to study code. Sometimes it feels as if I study so much so, or get caught up in the idea of studying, that all of my spare time is consumed by it. That simply is not sustainable and I even found myself pushing so deep into study that my brain becomes incapable of retaining the information (past a certain point). Sticking to 2-hours freed up a good portion of the rest of my day for other activities.
  • Studied Branding, my TRUE Love – I’ve always wanted to go deeper into branding and possibly build a future doing it. I strayed away from it, mostly because I didn’t accepted to work at a large agency fresh out of college, it’s shameful I let the opinions of so-called “experts” steer me away from my passion. I promise to get back to it and doing a little bit today felt nice.
  • Made More Time for My Wife and Kids – even if it was just talking a bit more or laughing a bit more, I sat down with them for breakfast and lunch and we just enjoyed each other’s company.

That’s basically it. I felt good about the minimal progress I made today, but I know there’s still so much more to come. I will continue to return here everyday to let you all know of the events of my days and share out over time my big wins, dreams, and goals.

Tomorrow, I will spend some time sharing out the short-term goals I’ve created for myself. It will be a preliminary pass at them because I also wanted to do some exercises I’ve seen in the book, “Think and Grow Rich”. However, I will share them with you all nonetheless and possibly some of the steps I will be taking to help them come true. Progress over perfection…faith over fear. If you read this, love yourself…and have as always, be blessed!

P.S. I got this in by 11:58pm…so I’ll probably get started just a bit earlier going forward lol.

Chapter 1: Learning to be Vulnerable, The Underdog and the Importance of Being 100% You

INTRO

Good evening my adoring followers! It’s been a long time, but I have returned and have decided to begin anew with regards to my blog. In full transparency, I actually forgot I even had WordPress until I got the Gmail notification informing me of my pricey renewal fee. I’m taking that as the universe’s way of telling me to get back on this thing. My approach however will be different. In the past I tried to focus my energy on creating long-form content with the expectation that you’d read it, and hopefully gleam some value from it. Some of my previous post I approached with a metric in mind, “hmmm, I need at least 10 talking points on this subject otherwise I’m not releasing it”. Hindsight’s 20/20, but what a flawed way to approach something that should be organic. This time there will be none of that. The posts will be more concise, and I’m going to try and fulfill a personal promise and goal to write something everyday. Inspiration strikes at random times and I think the intent shouldn’t be to make this the biggest and best blog of all time, but to begin to develop the muscle and habit for blogging.

STOP BEING LAZY, GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION TO GROW UP

You have to begin to simplify the process en route to your goals. That’s where I’ve been slipping up. To know me is to know that I’m a master procrastinator. This is not due to a lack of effort though, it’s mostly in part due to the fact that my struggle is perfection…and when the thoughts become too deep the burden becomes too heavy I’d much rather give up. It’s much easier to do something brainless than something productive anyhow. That mentality is great isn’t it? It’s the one that will lead me to that happy place of regret when I’m pushing old age and my best years are behind me…if you couldn’t tell, that’s sarcasm…but also truth. I’m rambling again, lol…I just can’t help myself can I.

Let’s get to the point. If you’re reading this it’s time to grow up. I still feel like a kid sometimes. A 35 year old kid living in fear of what my peers will think of me if I embrace my entire truth and face my grandest fears. A 35 year old kid who’s still waiting for someone to give me permission to make certain purchases, do my chores, get in bed on time, etc (spoiler alert, nobody is coming to do that for you lol). A 35 year old kid who’s just now realizing that my whole life revolved around needing approval and permission to do whatever my mind could conceive, when in reality I’ve been able to do it this whole time…even in youth. Why have I never felt empowered to do so, or committed to shaping the life that I’ve longed for? I’ve managed to make it a pretty decent ways on autopilot through God’s grace. Lord knows I’m imperfect in many ways…physically, mentally, and emotionally and still through both minimal effort and occasional spurts of focus I’ve done okay for myself. I don’t know how, however, I still know there’s more in the tank and the best is ahead of me.

THE MAIN POINT…ACCEPT WHO YOU ARE AND BE WONDERFULLY YOU

Here’s the point. I’ve been living in fear and complacency for far too long and I’m tired of it, and I’m sure some of you have been as well. I’ve experienced what I’m sure are forms of both depression and anxiety. If you’re a follower then you know that I’ve made a lot of empty promises to myself. You might unsubscribe and think to yourself, “another guy who’s full of sh*t, there’s no way he can help me with what I’m going through”. You’d be well within your rights. However, I’m viewing this through the lens of common human behavior, and that behavior is failing but trying again. There’s no shame in failure, but we need more of it. We need to try more things, fail at those things, and allow ourselves to learn and grow from those moments where we feel insecure and vulnerable. Need I repeat, give ourselves permission to do that.

Most of us get motivated to make changes in our lives only to get thwarted by our poor habits, low self-esteem or lack of motivation. How many of you all made resolutions on January 1st and are nowhere closer to being “the better you” that you promised you’d be. It’s October, you had d*mn near the whole year to work on yourself courtesy of Covid-19, where are you? I can tell you where I’m at. I’m still the same loser from 2019 LOL, no better, no worse, just existing and complaining about my current reality. Still being guided along by what’s been afforded to me by others, not really grabbing the wheel and steering the ship myself. The same as I’ve done probably the last 3 to 4 years of my life. The beauty of life though is that any day that you’re blessed to wake up you have the opportunity to try again. The fight isn’t over until there’s no breath left in your body.

The only way to establish the best possible lives for ourselves, and for myself, is to be vulnerable. We’re all the underdog…and most times we stay the underdog because we don’t even give ourselves permission to dream (yes, we allow others power even over our dreams) as being anything more than the underdog. We accept and embrace our flaws, we make that our truth, and we don’t give our spirits the freedom or permission to even live in a world where we entitle ourselves to the simple things and pleasures of this world. That’s sad, but it’s true.

My encouragement to you and myself is to cast your insecurities aside and embrace your God-given talents en route to becoming your best self. We all have a beauty that’s within us if we allow our light to shine. Don’t focus on the things you can’t change, but focus on that which is important and those things that you can have power over. Always be looking ahead. Don’t allow your greatness to be controlled, minified, reduced, and bottled up due to criticism or judgement. Stop feeling less than because the world places arbitrary labels on you and tells you what you are supposed to be or how terrible you are. Imagine who you want to be and become that. Go 100% forward, be tenacious in pursuit of your dreams and go after it. Don’t half-step it, really go after it. Most of what we think is important doesn’t even matter in the end and that’s just truth.

P.S, THIS LAST PART IS FOR ME…YOU’RE WELCOMED TO READ IT ALSO

This last paragraph is primarily for me, and I think the beauty of this blog is that nobody really knows it exist yet. If you wish to exit at this point you can, but I’m about to get all the way real with myself. You can steal this exercise for personal use as well if you enjoy it.

In order to move forward in life, and in order to evolve into the best version of myself, I think it’s important to say what is defeating me right now. I need to mention my insecurities, put them out there in black and white, and don’t claim it…it’s been claimed long enough, but rather get it off my chest and exhale because I’ve bottled it up for far too long as it is. It’s time to set myself free from this mental prison that I’ve placed myself in. I want to take ownership of that which I can’t change so that I don’t allow it to affect me when the world views me with judgement, and they will judge me. I want to begin to focus on that which is most important and not let my outcomes be dictated by seemingly arbitrary factors. I want to give myself permission to be whatever I feel passionate about in spite of others opinions of me. We all have greatness within and I’m personally ready to give myself permission to seek it, and with time I know that I’ll find it. I don’t want to oversimplify the journey, because I know it won’t be easy and some of my insecurities might linger, but I know I have to fight and work daily to diminish their hold over me. Once I have acceptance of myself these demons can no longer force me to dwell in my flaws. I will be able to face the world when others realize that I am unbothered. Most people want to take your joy, dim your light, or put out your fire…but they can only do it if you allow them to control you. Each day we’re faced with mental and spiritual warfare, and if we arm ourselves appropriately we can overcome anything. No weapon formed against me shall prosper. It is the divine plan of God to grow us and empower us and it is the goal of the enemy to attack us and lull us into submission. I will read this often and learn to live it.

Now, what’s been troubling me:

  1. I’m too short – even typing that was extremely tough. I’ve been short my whole life as a man and it’s prevented me from doing a lot (not height wise, but just from an insecurity standpoint). Ironically enough, nobody has ever really put me down for my size…however, I’ve always been insecure about it and most likely have focused on it more so than those around me. I always felt guarded around others because I always anticipate that somewhere someone is whispering about shorty over there. They probably aren’t, but I can’t help myself. I’ve been angry at times for no reason, I’ve been timid at others because of it, I’ve given power to all the crass and rude things people tend to say regarding short men. It’s always been a thorn in my side. Lord knows I wish I could’ve been taller, but…it’s not going to change, not at 35 minus a miracle (a la a Captain America type experiment lol). I’m 35 and I’m 5’7 (on a good day) and that’s life…I shouldn’t have to feel apologetic or undeserving because of it.
  2. I’m out of shape, onset dad bod – I work behind a desk and man I’m letting myself go! When I was younger, early to mid-twenties I was in shape. I had no problems (ironically enough in spite of my height) with the ladies. They used to grab my arms, feel on my chest, and were generally intrigued by my physique. When I first met my wife she got the best of it. 3 kids later and a stressful job and I feel like I look like hell…or sh*t…or BOTH. I’ve tried to get back on the wagon countless times and I’ve given up each time. I have too much pressing work at the job and it’s shamefully dictated my self-care routines. I DO have control over this one and I need to get it together. I thought of hiring a coach, but I already have all of the knowledge. It just seems senseless to pay money to have someone get me to do that which I already know to do, but I may have to. I also eat like sh*t and not consistently enough. My diet needs to be reviewed as well.
  3. I HATE My Job – I cannot stand my job. They don’t see my greatness or potential and that’s probably my fault too. I’m not passionate about the work I do. I’m a UI / UX Designer…I used to be super creative, but working for a Fortune 100 company there is little room for creativity. We have a design language system and it feels more so like using legos to craft experiences. I’ve been longing to get out but I never update my portfolio or work on creative things outside of the job. The worst part is that since I stopped dealing in the bureaucracy and seeking promotions I’m certain it’s painfully evident that I’m just showing up at this point. Which leads into my next point…
  4. I’m BROKE!!! – That one was equally, if not tougher, to admit to than being short. I haven’t left my job because of financial constraints. If I told you that I made about $90,000 a year you’d think I was doing good. All of my friends think I’m doing phenomenally because of the house I live in and the way my kids are put together, but the reality is I’m broke as f*ck. I have a family of 5 and we have been on a single income since my wife and I decided she’d stay home with the baby. Between the 2 of us we have over $120,000 in student loan debt…and that doesn’t even include our other expenses or credit card debt. Man, I’m in a bad position and my financial situation has lead me to stay in this job. I make enough to afford our expenses…just afford them. I don’t make enough to get ahead or out of debt, ever. I’ve been complacent with just staying above water since I’m alive, and not even attempted to figure out how to get out.
  5. I Waste Too Much Time – I’ve always been smarter than I’ve given myself credit for. Sometimes when I’m striving for perfection and I get stumped I tend to drift off into countless games of UNO or Among Us. Previously it was Call of Duty, Battlefield, or 2K. The point is I need to focus my energies on growing my mind, body, and soul. When things get rough and I feel like I can’t just plow my way through I should shift gears into another equally constructive task (even if it’s just exercise or going for a walk).
  6. I Could be a Better Dad – Some people would say I am a good dad, I don’t all the way agree with that. I’m not always present or fun, I’m mostly stern. I do offer tons of guidance and knowledge to them…but that almost begins to seem like it’s the extent of the relationship I have with them. I want to be perceived as more fun, but I need to improve my overall feeling about myself to become better for them…and my wife. I also find myself becoming the “I’m always working” dad. I don’t like that so much. I wouldn’t say I’m bad at being a dad…I’d just say I’m present, and just being present is not okay for me.
  7. I Don’t Have Enough Real Life Experience – I know how to design things, I know how to code a bit…but when it comes to real life experience…like building things, making a fire, shooting guns, fighting, etc. I just don’t have ENOUGH experience in these arts. This is going to sound dumb, but I consider them arts because I always examine my abilities through the lense of a zombie apocalypse (The Walking Dead) or Game of Thrones. If I lived in one of these universes what would my survival rating be? Do my current abilities serve me well enough to survive when survival matters most? I don’t feel like they do. That’s a personal goal for myself, is to learn how to use firearms better, knives, boxing, making fire…building stuff, and just get myself in peak conditioning for whatever could arise. Coding and Design won’t get me very far in a post-apocolyptic world.
  8. I Rarely Follow Through – I need to stop saying what I’m going to do and sitting on it too long or never doing it. That one is simple, short, and sweet. My words need to have more value and meaning, right now they mostly feel empty.
  9. Forgive Yourself For All These Things and Don’t be so Hard On Yourself – You’re still a work in progress. Don’t get down on yourself when you fall short in any of these areas. It’s okay, just be yourself and keep moving forward. Learn to live in the moment and learn to grow from your shortcomings.

That’s it. If you read the whole thing then thank you. Have a blessed day and I’ll see you tomorrow! Let’s all get better together.

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!