The Forgotten Front-End: Development Question and Concern

Yesterday I wrote about my struggles learning JavaScript. It has been a journey to say the least. Today I was inspired to write about my personal experience and understanding of the forgotten art of front-end development in a major corporate environment. As a designer who feels fairly proficient in the front-end I feel like this is a skill and job role that is overlooked. This is merely an opinion, and if you feel this not to be true…please, share. However, allow me to bring you into my world for a second and share my thoughts with you.

A Front-End Dev as I Understand It is…

As someone who’s kind of new to development my understanding and knowledge as to what a front-end developer does might be incorrect. As I understand it, someone who is a front-end developer should have a:

  • Proficient understanding of web markup, including HTML5, CSS3
  • Basic understanding of server-side CSS pre-processing platforms, such as LESS and SASS
  • Proficient understanding of client-side scripting and JavaScript frameworks, including jQuery

This is a person often regarded as being someone who has a wide range of talents consisting of technical detail and a broad understanding of user experience and design. This is someone who must be able to translate designs into functional, beautiful, aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly interfaces.

If this is true, how come people with ONLY these skills are highly disregarded in favor of the full-stack developer?

All Devs Are Created Equal Apparently

I often wonder if the people in charge of hiring understand how valuable a true front-end developer can be. I work for a company that places all of their development resources under the title of Software Developer. The job description contains a list of requirements that seem endless. Many of the skills include server-side and database knowledge, but don’t require strong HTML/CSS knowledge. My assumption is that they require it, however they just expect whoever they hire would already have these skills because come on, it’s JUST HTML and CSS…right? Easy peasy.

Designers Required to Code? Not Really

Then there’s the designer job role. Don’t even get me started on that. Everyone is labeled as a “Creative Designer”. Who needs to understand specialties, apparently we all do the same things. The interesting part about this job description is that it DOES require HTML and CSS…it claims that these skills are necessary, however they often don’t allow designers to play in the code. Most designers don’t want to anyway, and that’s understandable. In fact, in spite of the requirement, MOST of the designers hired actually have little to no knowledge of HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

The Problem with ALL of This Is…

With all that being said we now get to the problem. There is a huge disconnect between design and development. Designers love to comp things up, no matter how feasible their beautiful designs might be from a technical standpoint. They might disregard what it takes to actually implement their design. Sometimes this can be good, because operating within constraints all of the time constricts innovation…but, everything doesn’t need an innovative solution. Then there’s the devs. They want to get the product out the door. Does it work? Check…ship it! Does it look nice? Is it a good experience? Does it match the comps that went through usability? Probably not…but hey, close enough, right? WRONG! VERY WRONG!

This is where having a true front-end developer is helpful. I have positioned myself as that within my department to no added personal or financial benefit. When dev teams and design teams don’t speak the same language a true front-end developer can be a mediator to bridge the gap. When your primary developer is concerned with more of the heavy lifting regarding the logic and algorithms a true front-end developer can take on the HTML, CSS, and possibly some of the interaction design work. This helps to ensure that the user-interface isn’t just beautiful on the comps, but is also beautiful on the final product. I believe companies often dismiss the importance of getting the UI and UX right in favor of getting things done fast to have more gold stars to place on their quarterly reviews…and that just simply is not okay. The people who suffer as a result of this are your end-users.

Stuck in the Middle

When a company realizes they have someone who can play both of these parts they will utilize their talents. Rather than hire them as a front-end developer they will keep them in their same role, with the same title. You do development work, but unfortunately your knowledge might not be considered robust enough by their corporate standards to justify placing you on a developer pay scale. If you’re labeled a designer you often get conflicting advice from your superiors. I’ve been told everything from, “you should stop coding and focus on more designerly tasks”, and, “coding is not going to help your career progress”. Even with that being said, when teams ask for a designer with coding skills they always place me on those projects. It truly is baffling and confusing, however, since I don’t plan to do the corporate thing forever it’s okay for me to live in the middle. I could never stop coding and ensuring that what gets shipped is made of the highest quality. If you find yourself in this boat you shouldn’t stop coding either.

Where Does that Leave the Unicorns

I love focusing on the front-end, but since my passion for coding grows by the day, and since my company doesn’t often open front-end developer positions, I’ve been focused on becoming a full-stack developer. I’m actually okay with that because I know this knowledge will serve me better in my career personally and professionally going forward. It is my belief that companies should have dedicated people in this position. This is a role that I feel is often overlooked. Perhaps it’s to save money by having someone who can theoretically do it all. Maybe it’s just seen as a nicety and not a necessity. Whatever the case, if you want every part of your project handled with care then it is important to have people with the necessary skills and attention to detail on both the front-end and the back-end. The product will be better and the pressure on your project delivery teams will be reduced.

Conclusion

It’s ashamed that true front-end development is often overlooked. If you find yourself feeling like I feel then don’t fret, just keep learning until you can snag that full-stack developer job. I still encourage you to remain passionate for the front-end though, that is the part that everyone will see and interact with. Making sure you get that right is important, never lose sight of that.

Do you feel that true front-end development jobs exists, or is someone with only front-end skills valuable when you might be able to get a full-stack dev? I’d be curious to know your thoughts in the comments.

As always, have a blessed day!

My JavaScript Journey: The Struggle is Very Real

Good afternoon ladies and gents, this entry will be a bit different today. I’ve been off for the past week courtesy of the holidays and as usual, in my freetime I try to maximize my studies into the things I’m interested in. Some days I feel a bit confused as to what direction my life is headed but I’m always trying to attempt something to work towards finding my purpose and passion. One of the things I’ve been very interested in over the past several years is coding. I’ve messed with it for some time and it’s been a struggle to say the least. My wife encouraged me to write about it since I’m documenting my journey, so here we are.

Backstory

So how did I end up on a journey to learn code? Fair question. In my professional and amateur life I’m a designer. I’ve been a visual designer for the better part of my life and for the company I work at I am currently a user-interface and user-experience designer (UI/UX). I enjoy what I do for the most part. I have always felt like as a designer it is important to understand code and how building apps / websites works so that you can contribute to not only the creative process, but the execution process. While I was in college I took an introductory coding course which introduced me to HTML and CSS. Actually, I’m lying…I was first introduced to HTML and CSS back in the MySpace days. In fact people commissioned me to help customize their profiles for a marginal fee. CSS was right up my alley because it was essentially design, I never really thought about the fact that it was code as well. At the time I had no idea that what I was doing was associated with an actual profession, but I enjoyed it….A LOT! Anywho, I completed the introductory course at my university and followed that up with a few more courses that went a bit deeper. I was hooked.

After college I got my first job as a web designer, and they also allowed me to mess with the code base…primarily for HTML and CSS. I worked with 2 different developers. One always executed on my designs appropriately…the other always provided push back asserting that some of the things I wanted to do were simply too time consuming. I didn’t have working knowledge of actual programming so I just went along with it and didn’t cause too much of a fuss. The other programmer though, he’d review my work and tell me that some of these ideas were actually quite easy to execute and with some basic understanding of JavaScript and the DOM I could probably pull these things off myself. I took the plunge and began to expand my horizons in the world of JavaScript. I learned enough to be able to do the things I imagined and didn’t mess with it much else beyond that.

A Few Years Later up to Present Day

A few years ago I really got interested in the idea of building webapps and more intricate websites. After some digging I came to realize that JavaScript is indeed the language of the internet and so I needed to get a better grasp on some of the more complicated parts to make the types of things I envisioned.

I dusted off my books and dove back in to build a deeper understanding of the more abstract aspects of the language. While the books were helpful, at times I felt that they were written above my head. There was a lot of jargon that just didn’t make much sense to me and so I began my descent into the rabbit hole that is resource discovery.

I’ve used it all. I currently own 6 different JavaScript courses on Udemy, I have a membership to Team Treehouse, I have a Skillshare account, and I own at least 10 JavaScript / Programming books. Outside of that I’ve used Codecademy, FreeCodeCamp, and watched numerous amounts of YouTube videos. What I’ve found is that not a single one of these items has been a one-stop solution for my learning. I’ve learned different things from each over the course of the past several years. My biggest hangup is the fact that I’ve found myself in a state of constant learning. I’ve built projects that the courses have held my hand and helped me to put together, but I never built anything entirely on my own. That’s probably been one of my biggest regrets.

Make Up to Break Up

My quest has been off and on. I’ve developed a love / hate relationship with JavaScript. Some days I feel like I’m flying, and other days I get stumped and begin to wonder if my brain is built for programming. I’ve quit and then picked it up again….several times. I wrote this entry today because after feeling pretty good about my progress I decided to attempt the Algorithms section on FreeCodeCamp. I STRUGGLED the first 4 exercises. I was left on my own to try and complete the tasks, no instructions or hand holding, and I failed 3 of the 4. I had to submit and look at the solutions to see how they solved the problems.

I banged my head on the desk for several minutes before shutting the tab and submitting for the morning.

Hello Frustration, My Old Friend

I’m currently frustrated. This entry ends with no resolution, merely another entry into the journal. I’m not going to give up or quit on my goal of becoming a developer. It’s in my spirit to be one and to be able to build the ideas I have in my mind. I will continue to use the resources at my disposal. I just got a cool new book, Building JavaScript Games, and I’m really excited to crack it open. With every struggle I find that I eventually push forward and end up being more knowledgeable than before I encountered the road block. Persist we shall, because we must.

Conclusion

Do you know of any good resources that helped you to learn programming if you’re into that kind of thing? Have you experienced struggles in trying to teach yourself programming…if so let me know in the comments what has been most troublesome for you in your journey as well.

Be blessed and have a wonderful day!

Time to Retrain the Brain: Laziness with Self

A moment to reflect: Self-talk

It’s been a few days now, but I’m back! As the holiday season ramped up my days and night became much longer and more busy and unfortunately my 3-day streak of blogging came to an end. My latest entry wasn’t quite as successful as my previous two, but that’s okay…it was probably my personally most important entry to date. I constantly must remind myself that this is for me, and if you happen to take something from it that’s merely icing on the cake. Mmmmm cake. Okay, update over.

Laziness When it Come to Yourself

Why are we here today? Well, it dawned on me that I simple do not love or respect myself. I have little regard for me when it comes to making the most optimal use of my time. If you read this blog you’ve probably started thinking, “man…this guy is so self-deprecating”. You wouldn’t be wrong exactly, but I’m really using this as a vehicle to talk to myself and identify the things that I noticed need to be changed. One of those things is time management.

When it comes to time management I actually think I’m pretty solid depending on the context. My whole life has been driven by routines that have been designed by others. This includes going to school, going to work, making sure my children get to their activities on time or showing up for them at the designated time by their school or coaches. That is easy for me. Tell me where to go, how long to be there, and what time to show up and I’m there. When it comes to showing up for myself I’m finding it’s rather difficult. I don’t know when to show up, where to go, and how long I should be there because those guardrails haven’t been designed and nobody is holding me accountable for whether I follow a set routine for myself. The funny thing about that, is that showing up for yourself is easily the most important thing you can do, but we’re so brainwashed and dependant on society that we begin to feel that we are not that important. We find our purpose in all the things we do for others and that type of existence just cannot continue on, not if you’re feeling the type of unrest I’ve begun to feel lately. We only get one chance at life, why are we so blind to understand that our optimal happiness and sense of self-worth can be found within ourselves. (Bangs head on the desk). Easier said than done right? Right.

Time to Retrain the Brain

I was watching one of my favorite YouTubers, Kevin Edwards Jr. this morning. I have been watching him for years. I’ve seen him go from his lowest point of being broke and sleeping on the floor in a friends apartment, to now being a millionaire. He finally woke up one day, quit his minimum wage job, and began following his dreams instead of a corporate routine. I aspire to do the same, but I find it’s hard to start and be consistent because there is no guarantees at the end of that particular path, and it’s frightening. It’s easy to follow someone else’s ladder because they’ve made somewhat of a promise to you…be it the simple promise of a check, or promotions, or whatever. The problem is that no matter how far you go in that particular system you’ll never reach your optimal level of success or realize your full potential. Watching stories like Kevin’s are inspiring, but figuring out how to be the story yourself is more puzzling and confusing than anything.

The Foundational Principle for Success…it Seems Anyway

As I hear stories of success many of them are based on the foundational principles of always be creating and just get started. In my freetime I find myself spinning my wheels and thinking about doing more so than actually doing. The brain, in its current state, analyzes the outcomes of my actions before even taking action. Many of the rationalizations usually end up reducing any of the steps I could take in a more positive direction down to being a “waste of time”. I’m so conditioned to the workforce that I always pat myself on the back for putting in my 40+ hours a week, showing up before my manager, and feeling deserving of that 2 week vacation because of how much I helped the company this past year. I’m always excited for that bonus they may pay out, knowing in the grand scheme of things it only makes a marginal difference in my life, but given my current circumstance feeling beholden to it. When it’s just me and my brain with no rules I usually find myself plugging into YouTube videos to be motivated or just sitting in silence…which is what inspired me to write because I wasted the first hour and half of this morning I have off doing both of those things.

Tactics We Can Use to Retrain Ourselves

I’m no expert on how to retrain the brain, but here are some things that I’ve been trying to implement daily and I’m beginning to see subtle changes in the way I approach life. I’m trying to learn in the process by just doing. Here’s a brief list.

1. Research the Thing You Wish to Do

If you have an idea for something you wish to do then start by doing some simple research. Find some reference materials. These could include books, websites, or blogs regarding your area of interest. Start by going through your reference materials to begin building enough of an understanding to where you feel comfortable getting started with creating something, even if it’s crappy. It’s your first project, so crappy is fine. What you’ll discover is that by getting started you start to become more comfortable with the idea that it’s okay to experiment and not have to be perfect. With each attempt you’ll learn something new and be able to make your next output better.

2. Don’t Use Experts as Reference Material

I didn’t mention the idea of using experts in your area of interest as a point of reference because I believe it’s unhealthy. I think it’s great to see what these people do, and maybe spend a little time seeing how they do it, but sometimes when viewing experts we forget that they’re experts for a reason. We compare our efforts to theirs and often belittle our attempts as a beginner because we’re not at an expert level today. Remember, even the experts were beginners. They most likely started where we did and it took years to get to their level of proficiency. Admire them from afar but understand that you’re NOT them and that you need to build experience. Even with experience you may not be them because you are unique and have your own perspective to offer to the field you’re trying to go into. Be comfortable with being you…don’t try to be them.

3. Get Started, but Keep Researching

You’ve got enough knowledge to get started so…get started! Now…not later, but now. You have to remember that you don’t need to know EVERYTHING before getting started, you just need to know enough. Your journey of learning is only just beginning, and a lot of your learning will not come from your reference materials, but from your actual creations. Get excited in the things you do well and continue to improve upon those, and go back to your reference materials to correct your errors or find a new direction. Constant research will not help your build any real applicable experience. Remember, we’re not trying to be perfect…we’re trying to build working knowledge, and learning without doing will not help your efforts move forward.

4. Constantly Be Self-Deprecating If Need Be

I’ve read a lot of articles online that says self-deprecation is unhealthy. I can understand that point-of-view, especially if done publicly. I however do feel that self-deprecation is a helpful tactic that encourages self-actualization. I kind of like to think of it as 3 parts of your spirit. A self-deprecating person is viewing the things that they don’t like about themselves (part A) or current situation. Sometimes they joke about it, but when doing this with yourself you’re merely making clear the things you wish to change. We’re using self-deprecation to call those things out. The self-aware person (part B) is looking at those items from another perspective. You’ve identified your shortcomings in part A, part B is where you begin to take action on correcting those things or your feelings about those things…whatever they may be. By doing this we go into part C, self-actualization. We’ve called out our issues, we’ve put action into correcting those things, and now you’ve become, or begun to become, the greatest version of yourself.

5. Make a Schedule / Plan for Yourself

Make a schedule for yourself. If you’re working at a job this might prove to be more difficult because your daily job is a huge part of your schedule. However, we have to begin to move beyond the idea that this element of our life is going to always take up a bulk of our days. Place your job on the list, I know…it sucks, but it’s reality. Now, let’s look at the things you REALLY want to do. Find out how to prioritize them in comparison to the job. If you really love your gig then don’t follow this piece of advice, but if you don’t then I’m going to encourage you to take your heart out of your job. Don’t half-ass it, still show up, but don’t go above and beyond. I mean to say…clock-in, give a solid effort…and clock out. If you’ve identified what you really want to do then make time for that in the morning before you go in, or in the evening when you go home. If overtime isn’t mandatory then disconnect from the job while you’re not in the office. Make sure that you invest the most energy and passion into your goals. These are the things we’re hoping will serve you in the long run so that you don’t have to waste your life away at your soul-sucking job.

6. Stop Giving Yourself a False Sense of Accomplishment Through Videos and Podcasts

It’s easy to mistake action as being something that it isn’t. Watching Gary Vee videos everyday without actually doing any work might feel good and motivating, but it leads to stagnation. The idea of getting up and doing work begins to feel like you’re actually doing the work. This isn’t purposeful. There’s nothing wrong with having downtime and catching up on content from your favorite motivational influencers, but make sure you do so in moderation. Watch a video or two, take what you learned from it, and then put it into action for yourself and let it help guide the things that you’re actually doing to bring your goals to life. I’m sure most of these people would encourage you to do the same. I can’t count how many hours I’ve poured into this type of content only to realize that years later I’ve made very little actual progress. Nothing helps you move forward better than actual work. That is entirely up to you to put your plans into action.

7. Think about the end of your journey if you don’t take action

Think about where you are today, and consider where you life will be in 50 years if you did nothing more than what you’re doing now? How healthy are you? How financially stable are you? What is your legacy when you leave this earth and whose life will you have made an impact on? These are all real things to consider as you squander countless hours and minutes without taking action on your goals and building up somebody else’s dream. The hope here is that by doing this constantly you’re motivated to make changes that eliminate the fears of what wasting your life could look like.

8. Think about the end of your journey if you do take action

Get excited at the possibilities that implementing a routine can bring. I know it’s hard to see the future because you might feel like you’re drowning in the present and the past at the moment, but looking ahead with optimism can spark new energy that helps you progress. Nothing worth pursuing is ever easy, but look ahead at your future yourself and be proud thinking about what realizing your full potential could look like. If you can see it first, and believe it, then you can achieve it.

9. Understand everything takes time

Make peace with the idea that slow and steady wins the race, unless you happen to somehow win the lottery. Every person who is an “overnight success” probably put years into their craft. As people on the outside looking in, we don’t see how much hard-work, blood, sweat, and tears went into helping those people succeed. Don’t give up. I believe that most of the people who make it keep pushing forward when it seems as though the world doesn’t care or isn’t paying attention. We could do nothing, but doing nothing leads to nothing changing. It doesn’t hurt to pursue your interest. The worst case scenario is that you continue to live the life you’re living now, which is tolerable and manageable. If you want to make a change then you have to do things, big and small that help bring that change about. It may seem like a long road to travel but feel good knowing that you’ve at least begun the journey. Push forward until you reach your destination. I have to believe that you’ll look back and feel as though it was all worth it.

10. Give yourself permission to fail, you don’t have to be perfect

This is a big one. A lot of us victims of perfectionism. A lot of us are also victims of our securities. If we can’t make it perfect, then we don’t even both to try. If people don’t like it or criticize our efforts, we retreat into our shells and feel like we just suck and we shouldn’t even try. Newsflash, who the hell cares! You’re in a race with yourself. If you feel like you can make improvements then don’t shrink in the face of adversity, pivot and make improvements. There are so many great quotes from people who overcame failure that it would be crazy to narrow it down to just one. If you’re willing to give up at the sight of failure then whatever you’re pursuing will never come to be. Thomas Edison is cited as saying, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” We learn from our failures, and as is the case in many successful people’s journeys, sometimes the failures shed new light on different directions to success or what you’re actual THING is. That THING you were put here to do. You can’t discover that without putting your efforts out into the world.

Conclusion

Currently, I’m a zombie…and you most likely are too. Today, that is okay. I’m hoping that you’re at least realizing this fact so that you can implement real change to bring you back to life and find what you were destined to do. Stop rewarding yourself for putting hard work into someone else’s vision, and start taking the time to prioritize your life and your vision. You deserve to live, not die trying to be and serve somebody else. You owe it to yourself, and your family and friends to be the best you that you can be. Take time to make a schedule for yourself and treat goals as if they were the company you work for. Put some rules in place, give yourself some tasks to accomplish, and show up every single day as if your life depended on it.

If you read this rant then thank you. What are some practices you use that are helping you retrain your brain to help you progress towards your goals? I’d be interested to hear from you. Thanks again, and until next time…be blessed!

Letter to my 80 Year Old Self

Night number 3 and we’re back at it again! I must say, it feels nice to just create without having to overthink the act of creating. Yesterday I had a whopping 4 views on my entry, not too shabby. I’m grateful for every view. As I progress I will try not to make these entries TOO lengthy, but…no promises.

Let’s begin. Recently I’ve been spending my spare time listening to audiobooks and podcasts. I recently completed, and highly enjoyed, the book “Don’t Keep Your Day Job: How to Turn Your Passion into Your Career” by Cathy Heller and I must say it’s a game changer. The book, as most do, offers practical advice but delivered in such a way that almost encourages you to snap out of the trance society has put us in. Completing it felt like an awakening of sorts. I could not get enough of Cathy’s delightful and encourage tone so I followed her over to the Don’t Keep Your Day Job podcast which has been equally as awesome.

The episode I listened to today was titled “4 Exercises to Discover Your Passion Project”. I listened to the entire episode on my long and rainy commute to the good ol’ job and while I was driving I found myself really wanting to complete the exercises. The expectation is to gain some insight into who I really want to be in this life, what I really want to do, and also be able to document the beginning of a personal journey that I can reference and look back upon as time passes. So, here goes nothing.

Exercise 1: Write down your 5 imaginary lives

Cathy poses the question, “what would you do if you weren’t limited by the boundaries of reality or practicality?”

  1. I would make all the trips I’ve desired to make…with just the wife and I as well as with my family. The includes Jamaica to Disney World and many places in between.
  2. I’d code and design (UI/UX/Branding) for a living and work the hours that I choose, allowing me for the freedom to navigate life as I choose.
  3. I’d work out EVERYDAY in some capacity, from weight training to cardio, because I’d have the time everyday.
  4. I’d visit with friends and have house parties and outings that allowed us to just have time to enjoy each other without minimal cares in the world.
  5. I’d bowl A LOT more and buy a boat to fish on. Those are 2 activities I’ve grown to enjoy in my adult life and have very little time to participate in.
  6. BONUS: Attend sporting events and concerts to artists that I enjoy. (Basically, live life to the fullest!)

Exercise 2: Write down 10 things you would do if you didn’t have to do them perfectly.

  1. Draw more and put it out into the world
  2. Sell my design work to clients
  3. Speak my mind more, sometimes I walk on eggshells with people a bit
  4. Put my music and poetry out into the world
  5. Workout more, I sometimes overthink my training regimen
  6. Eat better, I also overthink my dietary choices
  7. Film and take more photos
  8. Blog more (work in progress)
  9. Be more open with my feeling with friends and loved one, I’m a wordsmith but sometimes the word elude me
  10. Go on more vacations, I have a tendency to not go if I can’t go the way I imagine

Exercise 3: Write a letter to your 8 year old self

Dear Christian, so young and innocent. I noticed you are quite an ingenuitive little fella. Your creativity is amazing the way you draw those cartoon characters. Don’t lose that, please. Make that video game you’re dreaming about, Kombat Fighters could be a hit globally. Continue writing your poetry and stories and also do something with that computer knowledge you have. I see you messin’ with that thing all the time and I know one day computers will be HUGE! The only other thing I’ll encourage you to do is to develop some self-motivation. You’re naturally smart…you get all A’s and people praise your intelligence, but everything in life isn’t going to be so process oriented. School and grades provide you a very linear path to success but life isn’t that. Don’t become complacent in your accolades today and always strive to learn and get better outside of the classroom. Mom and Dad don’t know exactly where to direct your talents and interest, but spend some time figuring it out on your own, you’re fully capable. I love you man, the future will be bright for you someday.

Exercise 4: Write a letter from your 80 year old self

I’m going to tweak this one a bit. I’d like to write two letters to my 80 year old self, as life could provide for 2 possible outcomes…the one if I don’t make some changes today, and the one if I do.

Letter A: Wasted My Life

Hey, what’s going on old man. Look at you…you’re a real piece of work. I want to say, that even though I’m frustrated with you…I still love you and at least I’m still here for you and that means you won’t officially die alone. You’re wife left you because you too often neglected her, and your children don’t have the time for you…much the same way you made little time for them growing up. You left an impact on them mentally, but you just didn’t invest enough emotionally. It’s ashamed that a majority of your life was spent in the 4 walls of your bedroom, in front of a tv, on YouTube watching other people live, or at that miserable job you invested 40 years into. You had such potential but you never wanted to be great. You were complacent and let life pass you by waiting for the perfect moments to live…and now you’ll die never finding them. You have no friends, and you have no legacy to leave to this world other than your amazing children who have gone on to at least find themselves in this life due to your inspiring and sometimes lengthy chats with them growing up. May you rest in peace and I pray you go to heaven. You were a good man…you really were. You just squandered your life.

Letter B: An inspired life

Hey man, I just want to say I’m proud of you. Life was abysmal for you and you finally flipped the switch and changed for the better. I’m glad you finally stopped watching so much television and actually invested serious time into your passions. Some of the brands you helped build are world-renowned and that app you helped to develop really helped people get up and make serious changes in their lives at a time when the digital age was sapping people of their life force. Your kids are set for the future through the love, time, and energy you invested into them and they now have loving families of their own. It’s nice to see that your efforts had a real impact on society and your wife is eternally grateful for being the man she always knew you were and could be. Traveling around the world with her must’ve been a special time. Also, I’m glad you eventually quit that job. It was killing you and making you into a miserable person. Everyone could see it. Once you quit you were different, but by different I mean better. Your health really took a positive turn and your aura was just significantly more pleasant. Thanks for really putting a quality effort into transitioning into the best version of yourself. You rock.

Conclusion

There currently is no conclusion. This really is the start of a journey and I don’t know where it’s going to take me. Looking at the words I’ve typed really helps me to gain some perspective into where I should start. If you’re looking to make a change in your life I’d recommend doing these exercises yourself and also follow Cathy Heller and the podcast. I’d recommend buying her book as well. This post is completely unsponsored, but as I find things I find helpful I will always share them with my circle of friends and followers.

Let me know in the comments…what is the biggest thing you want to change about yourself and what is preventing you from making the change?

I love you all, be blessed, and i’ll see you in the next one.

These Kids are SPOILED, but…Merry Christmas!

I got the blogs in me goin’ back to back. That was a Drake reference. Anywho, I’m back for night number two! Ironically enough, I had views last night after my amazingly raw and poorly formatted entry…5 to be exact! Shout out to you all who read and especially to the one that followed me. You definitely sparked a flame under me to just keep going.

Intro over, now let’s talk about Christmas! For those of you who celebrate Christmas…MERRY CHRISTMAS TIME! For those who don’t, I respect your choices…one of the best things you can have in life is freedom of choice. I know everyone celebrates it differently but I personally LOVE an extravagant Christmas. Some people might call me a consumer…perhaps? My wife occasionally thinks so, but I also think she understands why. I’m not a consumer in the old fashioned sense. I don’t splurge wildly throughout the year, but when Christmas rolls around something nostalgic comes to life in me. Let me explain.

I won’t say I was poor when I was a kid, but, let’s go with less fortunate. I always understood the value of money and non-monetary things because my upbringing was modest from the financial perspective. My mother and father always did their best to ensure my brother and I had all of our basic needs covered. What we lacked financially we more than made up for in terms of love…there was always a lot of that to go around. My brother and I were very grateful for everything we ever got. We didn’t make life difficult for our parents, we just understood how life worked very early on. I probably have broken my children because DAMN are they spoiled! It’s not their fault and I’m not mad about it by any means, but I understand that I have to be more creative to impress the value of money and assets upon them. I’ve been blessed to do better than my parents in the financial realm and I always said that if I had money then I’d make sure my children never longed for anything. Does that mean they’re necessarily better off than I was given my circumstances growing up? I don’t think so, not even close. I actually think they’re worse off, but I do feel as though they’re very wise and not TOO entitled or bratty (though they have their moments). What am I going to do though, try to exactly replicate my upbringing for them even though the circumstances are vastly different? Nope, highly unlikely. It’s not probable (possible, just not probable at all).

That’s all backstory to say…I LOVE CHRISTMAS! You see, where my brother and I lacked all year long my parents more than made their best efforts to make up for on Christmas. I remember the joy of making a list. I itemized it based on how bad I wanted a specific item because I knew if there was something I REALLY wanted that this would be my best shot. Santa…that’s right…SANTA was bringing it for me because I was good all year long. I’m not ashamed to admit I believed in Santa way longer than I probably should have (I believed all the way until 8th grade). There was magic during this time and as a child growing up with a modest lifestyle I soaked up every moment of the season. I enjoyed watching all of the old school Christmas shows such as Rudolph, the cartoon Grinch, and Frosty. I enjoyed Miracle on 34th Street, The Polar Express, and Jingle All The Way (arguably one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s finest films). I enjoyed cold mornings and hot cocoa. Everything just felt so right about this time of year. I recall baking cookies for good ol’ Saint Nick and placing out an accompanying glass of milk, and struggling to sleep at night thinking about the next morning. Waking up to a tree full of gifts was awesome. Something about just seeing everything under the tree seemed more exciting than actually opening the gifts themselves. It was a special day of family and loved ones.

Now that I’m an adult I strive to hold onto that feeling and magic as much as I can, but it’s not the same. My siblings are often too busy, and my kids get so much all year long from my wife and I, as well as their grandparents, and occasionally their father (I’m the stepfather of 2 of biological father of 1), that they struggle to even come up with a list of more than 5 or 6 things. They’re not really asking for much during this time because they seemingly have everything. Which is great, but as a parent I still think of things they’ve mentioned throughout the year to buy for them anyway…some being needs, some being fun and nice-to-haves. I look forward to that moment on Christmas so much so that I probably go overboard, but I don’t think anyone in my family, my wife included, could possibly fathom how the feelings and the memories of Christmas mornings have impacted my psyche. My wife grew up much like our kids…she got pretty much everything she wanted when she wanted. The older I get the more I begin to realize I’ll never recapture that feeling. Life is just different. It saddens me but I’m immensely grateful knowing my children are well taken care of.

There was an excitement of what becoming a father for Christmas would mean. Perhaps, once I make just a tad more money I’ll have to evolve what that feeling looks like by creating experiences for my family rather than buying them material goods. Trips to a nice Christmassy location or maybe even somewhere tropical…who knows. Maybe that is the next evolution of my Christmas experience that will help generate a new excitement someday. However, I’ll leave you with this story. I get choked up thinking about it because it is one of the memories I’ll carry with me, forever. I want to also say…Dad, I love you. You mean the world to me. I know inevitably one day your time will come to pass, though I hope it’s no day soon. You have to know that even though you experienced a rough patch with mom and the family, I respect you sticking with us through it all and always being there. I had such disdain for you for a period of time but you always supported me and you still helped to show me what it was to be a man. I could never do or say enough to let you know that I looked up to you, and still look up to you so much. Thank you for being a father and not just a donor. Anywho, back to this memory.

I remember I was 11. The year was 1996. My family and I had been living in a rental property that my father and mother were collectively working 4 jobs to afford. It was September and I had my Christmas list prepared. The hottest new toy on the market was the headliner of my list this year…think back, can you guess what it was? THAT’S RIGHT, a Nintendo 64. I knew we didn’t have a lot of money, but a boy could dream…so I tossed it on there anyway. I was going to be grateful for whatever I got, if anything at all. Soon it was November, and Christmas was right around the corner, but something was drastically different this year. The week after Thanksgiving a pipe burst in our house while everyone was away. Mom and Dad were at work, while my brother and I were at school. My mom worked at our school so we came home together. When we arrived there was horror. The entire house was flooded in what seemed like about a foot of water. The carpets and walls were ruined and probably even more than that. The landlord was alerted and stopped by the property to check out the damage. He told my parents we had to be out before the first of the year. He didn’t care where we went or what would happen to the children, he simply said “I want you out of here”. My mother cried and I hugged her. She informed my brother and I that everything was going to be okay and not to worry. I did my best not to, but seeing how the whole scenario played out really bothered me. It still does. The feeling of having someone have a certain level of power over aspects of your life still troubles me to this day, be it renting a place or working for a company that could let you go at any moment. I digress, regardless of the situation my parents still tried to keep the spirit lively, but they could tell that my brother and I didn’t have that same energy this season. We just wanted to be supportive and were more focused on helping with the move more so than opening presents. That’s just how we were wired. Come Christmas morning we had a more reserved offering of presents, which still was more than my brother and I could even imagine. My mom made breakfast and we began to open up the presents, the energy began to pick up a bit. Christmas started to feel more like the holiday we were accustomed to and for a moment the troubles of our circumstances eluded us. After opening up everything there was one more gift. It wasn’t from Santa though, it was from Mom and Dad. I peeled the paper back slowly to reveal a Nintendo 64 and my excitement shot through the roof. My dad then proceeded to tell me a tale of triumph. My father, who worked 3 shifts, made his way to Walmart after his last shift to stand in line to wait to get one of the most highly sought after consoles. There were no reservations during this time, it was first come first serve. He told me that he got the last one that morning and he couldn’t wait until Christmas morning to see me open it. The story made me cry and it still almost does. My parents were always looking out for me in spite of themselves. I looked forward to being the kind of father that would put my children before myself, and I do my best to do that in any form or fashion. The fact it was a consumer good was irrelevant. My father and mother were always there for me and always went out of their way to do their best for us and by us, and that has carried over in me. So, yes…my children are spoiled…and to a point that’s okay. More so than spoiling them with gifts I do my best to spoil them with love, care, and support as well and that extends beyond December 25th. Christmas will always hold a special place in my heart and if I go a little overboard, it’s okay I guess.

Thanks for reading if you read this. Be blessed and let me know in the comments what is your fondest Christmas memory? Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Another Long Night

Hooray! My blog is up. I made my first post on Oct. 29th. I didn’t publish it until last week…the second week of December. I’m a real go-getter right? Wrong. Sometimes sarcasm is a solid form of medicine to make the pain of being a procrastinator somewhat tolerable. It’s late and I’m up, yet again…as I tend to be. I can never seem to follow through with the things I aspire to do. I constantly complain about wanting to change my life but I am only consistent at one thing it seems…that thing would be the act of being inconsistent. It’s troublesome to think that this is possibly where my life has peaked. I’m a 34 year old man, who is a mid-level employee, in a job that provides me some level of financial stability with little gratification towards fulfilling a greater purpose in this existence. I’m obviously complacent. I can’t seem to get in bed before 1am, I can never seem to turn the television off, I can never seem to write the blog I’ve always aspired to have, I can never seem to build the projects I wish to build in my coding journey, I can never seem to find time to break out the sketch book and work on my drawing or branding, I can never seem to get my fat ass dad bod to the gym, I can never seem to get out of my own way. It’s sickening.

Some day I ponder how my wife stands me and what do my kids truly have to look up to. By many account some would say I’m a success, but by many personal accounts I’d say I’m currently a failure. This is not negative self-talk. It seems that way…but it’s not. I simply have a high level of self-awareness and everything that’s being stated is the truth. I’m not suicidal, but I do feel trapped.

The therapy is accepting that I can’t see the bigger picture. There’s so much wasted potential I see in myself, but the problem is sticking to conventions. I’ve never been a long game kind of guy, if the short game provide me comfort then why bother with the tough stuff, right? Wrong. I submit to my own complacency, but submission is becoming less of an option as my soul begin to grow restless. “There’s a disturbance in the force” if you will. I’m not a Star Wars fan but I can’t seem to avoid quoting it. Anywho, this is my journal. I don’t know just what it’s supposed to be exactly. I don’t know just what I’m supposed to be exactly. I’m just venting. I need to get my ass in gear and start making the changes I’ve set out for myself. I need to more consistent with going to the gym, building coding projects, sketching, recording videos, and sharing my thoughts to the World. I’m tired of waiting for permission to start my life, I’m tired of being fearful to take the first steps towards the life I desire, I’m tired of waiting for the perfect moment. I’m not getting any younger and my fear is I’ll die with nothing to leave to the World or my family.

Also, a bit off-topic…sorry to my long lost friends. Long and lost due to my lack of communication and being available. You all deserved so much better than me. I really am a crappy friend. If only you all knew how much I love you all. You were there through my entire journey to this point and you probably feel like I “got on” and abandoned you. I want to indirectly inform you, I didn’t…not intentionally anyway. I left you to go to school. I got my degree, and I got a good middle class job that afforded me a solid salary that many of you would probably envy. I moved into a pretty nice neighborhood and got the beautiful wife and family. You probably think…that I think…that I’m better than you. I got on and forgot about you. I didn’t. None of that is true. The truth is, I did all of that to find that at the end of it I still haven’t found what I was looking for during this journey. I found some forms of success, but I didn’t find my purpose. I found golden handcuffs, I cornered myself and am trapped by my middle class life and dependency on my corporate gig. I actually envy many of you and aspire to find the things that make my spirit feel full, just as some of you have. It’s not a money play, it’s a life play, it’s a play for freedom and happiness. I’m selfish and haven’t reached out to you because I just don’t know how to anymore. I’ve lost touch with those things that I love and tried to fit the mold of what I feel the world wanted me to be, and now in that world I find myself becoming more of an outcast. I’m starting to find loneliness and that I don’t fit in anyone’s box no matter how hard I try…and that’s okay. I’ll find my way back to you all with my head up and a smile on my face. I just want you to see me smile and want you all to be proud of me as well.

Thank you to my wife and kids, and family. You all are the brightest of spots in this dark and dreary existence I currently find myself living in. You all keep me grounded, inspired, and motivated to figure it all out…my life and how I wish to live that is. Without you I’d be even more lost than I already am. Anywho, I’m rambling. I could spell-check and proofread this shit and make it way more complicated…but I’m not. Perhaps one day I will, but today I just want to make progress…f*ck perfection. If you found this…and read it…well damn, you are the real MVP. I can’t imagine anyone finding this as of now. I promise I’ll update the site and make it look presentable. I spent a crap load on this wordpress page, thank goodness I didn’t purchase that fancy theme I was eyeing. I’m such an irrational, spur-of-the-moment kinda guy but sometimes I use sound logic with my decision-making.

May you all be blessed, and pray for me. I’m looking to make progress. Thanks.

The Genesis of You (A New Beginning)

Today is the start of a new day. That’s where I’m currently at. Far too many days have I sat around pondering the possibilities of what “could be”. I’ve come to a place of fear, complacency, and depression. All of these are the symptoms of feeling as though I lack purpose in this world at the moment. If you’re like me, you feel that this is not true at all. You feel as though you have so much more to offer. You feel as though you are squandering the blessing of what happens to be your very existence. The probability of you being here at all is so small that it can’t be seen as nothing more than a miracle. With that knowledge it’s hard to believe that you were sent here to waste away at some meaningless desk job, stuck in a financial rut, and moping around filled with stress as you search for the next scheme that will only marginally pull you up out of the ditch in which you reside.

You’re hurting…I know it, I can feel it. You are constantly searching for answers in self-help and inspirational content. The irony is that you’ve read so many books, listened to so many Ted Talks, YouTube videos, and Podcasts that you already are equipped with the answers. Not some of the answers, but ALL of the answers. The common denominator in everything that you’ve listened to is the fact that all the advice you’ve been given is practical. There is no magic formula, you either “do or do not, there is no try”. That quote from Yoda is extremely powerful and true.

I find that all too often we as people complain. We also talk about what we’re going to do more so than actually doing it. If only you understood, if we understood, that the life we aspire to have is within our grasp. If we only took a little bit of action everyday towards our goals and dreams then we’d find them, or they’d find us. The problem is that we dwell in a place of distraction. Think about how much time you spent on the phone today, either watching videos or on social media. Think about how much time you’ve spent in front of the television today on your favorite streaming services. The irony in wasting time on these things is that we’re actually watching other people live the lives we wish to have. We are living vicariously through everything but ourselves, as if becoming the best version of ourselves is such an unachievable feat that only the most “gifted” of us are privileged enough to transcend to that level. That just simply isn’t true.

I find that becoming great isn’t easy, so we settle for mediocrity. We settle for short-term satisfaction and comfort rather than working toward reaching our long-term potential. If this speaks to where you are today I want you to not only know that you’re worthy of so much more, but also you need to give yourself permission to achieve it.

If you’re thinking of giving up or quitting…don’t. Please, don’t. If you’re thinking of killing yourself, don’t. We need you. Stop comparing yourself to everyone else and start running a race against yourself. The world doesn’t need you to be like who you look up to, they need you to be the most beautiful and unique version of yourself. You’re one in a billion, stop trying to be like the masses.

TodayTheory in its current iteration will be a place where people can come to inspire and be inspired. It is my personal journey, and hopefully your personal journey as well. I have no ulterior motives, I just want people (myself included) to find what they’re looking for in life.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives me something to look back on as I move forward in my personal journey. It allows me to document my thoughts, progress, and feelings. It’s a release for me from the daily stressors I face.
  • Because it will help me focus on my own ideas about the future of my life and blog and what I’d like to do with it.
  • Because it gives me a platform to build a community of people who struggle with what I’m going through as well.

My mission is to document the entire story of where I’m at and where I end up.

If you enjoyed reading this, here are a few questions for you:

  • What are you feeling right now and what is contributing to that feeling?
  • What are the bad habits and distractions that are getting in the way of helping you become your higher self?