Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2016: Don't Fear Being Self-Aware

2015 was a challenging year...

I will be honest with you, the reader, as well as myself when I say I could've done more. In all aspects of life this holds true. I became complacent with the person I had become. My eagerness to start the day evaporated. What was once motivation evolved into excuses. That extra effort I used to invest into my relationships became tardy, eventually absent. Even the stroke of my pen seemed to drag.

I wholeheartedly believe in order to continue to evolve as an individual it's necessary to place yourself in uncomfortable situations. The type of situations that seem to make your heart pound a little harder and your focus to appear sharper. Where the probability of failure is high. Whether it's unease or excitement, these are the moments in which we grow as human beings.

To begin the new year, I ask for your honesty in order to prepare myself for 2016.

I ask you to describe 5 strengths as well as 5 weaknesses that I possess.

(Gary Vaynerchuk is a person I encourage all to familiarize with)

There's nothing I love more than bringing the most out of others.

Help me with this exercise so I can self-improve, I promise to return the favor.

THANK YOU and have a safe/happy New Year. Lets be great in 2016.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


I don't think anyone expects a story to end like this. 
Deep down it always seems too surreal to become reality.

When you grow up in a small town, 
You're supposed to feel protected.
That protection isn't due to a concealed handgun, a well-lit street, or strict rules and regulation.
It comes from understanding your neighbors look out for the best interest of the community. 

Faces are familiar. 
Friends become family.
Forever means forever.
And all fear appears foreign. 

Somewhere, we lost that sense of community. 
Somewhere, smiles became snarky remarks. 
Somewhere, cheers of encouragement evolved into whispers of speculation. 
Somewhere we all forgot we are neighbors. 
That we are a community. 

If I've learned one thing,
It's that as we age,
We tend to form blinders.
We become so indulged in our own world that we ignore those around us. 
We no longer look out for the best interest of the community. 

But no matter how old we become, 
How far we move away, 
Nothing replaces the comfort of Home.

And Home has never been,
Nor will it ever be,
A specific location. 
Home is Each and Every one of us who made where we grew up such a special place.

Today, we lost a vital piece of Home. 

R.I.P. Stephen C. Ford III. 

R.I.P. Danielle Eibel Maximo. 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Bringing in 2015

The New Year may be physically visible on the calendar, but it's basically an imaginary restart button.

Tonight, I encourage all of you to toast twice, once prior to midnight and again minutes following. Toast to all the things 2014 brought, toast to all that you intend to bring 2015. Don't hold a grudge with the challenges of the past year. Remember the lives of those we've lost. Be thankful for the accomplishments and the blessings. Smile and be proud of who you are when that sparkling Times Square NYE Ball begins to descend. 

Change is only frightful when we have no control. Embrace that restart button. Set goals for yourself and re-prioritize your selfishness. 

If 2014 taught us anything, divide only multiplies negativity. Respect your neighbor, acknowledge strangers, and always keep one hand free not to point fingers, but to lend a giving hand. 

We're fully capable of making this country, better yet this world a better place. What's truly stopping you from having a better year than last? 

Happy New Year to all,

Cheers to more 'we' and less 'me' in 2015.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Don't Delete Your Past

Many quotes in which we litter social media are in regard to our past. The advice we tend to give a friend or a loved one reflects the concept of looking forward. Moving on to the next without peeking back. We are all so quick to forget.

Our past is responsible for right now and has the greatest influence on the future. 

Prior relationships, experiences, decisions and mistakes are something we shouldn't ignore, let alone encourage others to forget. They are the stepping-stones that remind us what we want out of life. Simply because the past wasn't the finish line doesn't mean we can't celebrate, let alone recognize it.

We continue to evolve and grow on a daily basis. Our wants and desires change with the seasons. That 7th grade romance didn't end with the electric slide at a wedding reception for a reason. But you'd be a fool to believe that puppy love didn't help clear your vision for what you now look for in a significant other. Much like that entry-level position gave you enough exposure to question if it were a desirable career path. 

I suppose there is a certain level of comfort that accompanies shutting the door to our past. We see it as a room full of failure. Failed romances, employment, friendships, and advancement opportunities that we'd rather not have a scrapbook to reflect upon. 

This doesn't mean a quick reminder isn't beneficial from time to time. The pain and anguish that accompanies certain aspects of our past encourages us from making the same mistakes. Simply forgetting the past opens an additional door to potentially repeating prior offenses.

Maybe this is where we as a society go wrong. Pinpointing the damaged corner on a masterpiece that took years to create. The focal point should be the beauty and precision of each stroke. The small detail required to spawn such a piece of work. Instead, we allow the single flaw to attract the majority of our attention. Much like the artist notices his own imperfection that is invisible to the naked eye, we believe the rest of the world is fully aware of our mistakes.

It takes strength, but far less energy to focus on the positives of the journey than the negative outcome of a destination. If you take enough time to sit and reflect on the past that you were advised to forget, you'd realize there are far more smiles than frowns. We've just been conditioned to believe that the frowns are supposed to leave the lasting impression.

Embrace yesterday, seize today, and anticipate tomorrow. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Shutting Down

We have become a society fixated on technology and multitasking. Constantly over-glorifying our busy schedules and the amount of stress we manage on a daily basis. Our competitiveness restricts our mind and body from one of their most natural functions, simply shutting down.

The unlimited abundance of knowledge forever at our fingertips results in a consistent question mark lingering above our head. Social media has opened the door to debates without boundaries, decisions without repercussions, and opinions without credibility. Streaming newsfeeds to educate ourselves on world news, sporting scores, entertaining articles, pop culture and sometimes, the food our friends are seconds from devouring control our lives.

That's without mentioning the anticipation that accompanies actually posting something of your own. How many likes, comments, replies, retweets, favorites or shares will you receive? How many times will you check your phone looking forward to a notification that somehow, now signifies there are people who like you and what you had to say.

I'm guilty. I don't think twice before admitting I'm on my iPhone/laptop/iPad more than I should. I even catch my thumb checking different apps, simply out of habit. Hoping the swiping comes to a stop as I find something interesting enough to catch my attention for a mere second.

It's hard to determine exactly why we are constantly updating our newsfeeds, checking our email, or browsing the "on line". I'm not sure if it is the gratification that someone is paying attention to us or if we sincerely thrive off proving our lives are much better than theirs. So much so, that we consume the majority of that time snapping photos in attempt to take the perfect image that captures the moment. Rather than intimately enjoying that brief time period with those present, we seek approval from friends and followers whom we think so highly not to invite or couldn't attend because they were, "too busy."

What an insulting excuse.

I appreciate life because we have the ability to choose and the mental capacity to prioritize. In my mid-20's I have found making time is a continuous challenge that will only increase in difficulty. Families, careers, friends and hobbies each deserve a respectable amount of time. To be honest, I never want to be "too busy" to make time for the things that are important to me.

Simply saying we are too busy for the sake of coming off as important or active is a joke. Why glorify stress? To feel as if you are competing in a rat race of your very own? In the end no one wins. Whether you're being honest or not, your high level of stress will only result in a lower quality of life. It's necessary we find outlets to recharge our mind, body and soul to ensure they're at full capacity to handle the wear and tear that comes with the daily grind.

We should all possess goals and ambitions. We should all bust our ass to attain them. But to neglect your mind and body by not shutting it down every once and a while will result in you coming up short. Find some type of release that briefly disconnects you from the rest of the world. Search for that one thing that clears your mind and allows your brain to focus solely on it's own thoughts rather than the overwhelming amount of information coming through a LED screen.

As quick as we are to run for a charger when our phone reaches 1%, you would think we'd have the same urgency when our bodies do the same.

Disconnecting from constant technology and scheduling is difficult. It's a battle I fight on a daily basis. But change only comes with sacrifice. A sacrifice I'm willing to make to ensure a quality life. Because at the end of each day, you come that much closer to death. And remember, there's no such thing as being "too busy" to die.

Enjoy all the world has to offer.

Please share this on your own newsfeed. Hopefully it's enough to catch someone's eye long enough to stop their scroll.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Let it Go

There are certain aspects in life that are simply out of our hands.

The unfortunate declining health of loved ones, rainy mornings, and yellow stop lights are all inevitable forecasts in life. We have no control over this. Our best option is to flip the script and turn negatives into positives.

That your loved ones have been fortunate to live long enough to see a gradual decline in overall health. They've spent years wearing smiles and decades painting smiles on the faces of others. That the rain will be followed with a rainbow and sunshine. Each dreadful drop of water has fallen with a purpose, to give life to aspects of our days that we take for granted. That the yellow light may force us to tap our brakes providing enough time to finish listening to our favorite song on the radio. Or it may give us a few more minutes with a love interest before saying goodbye.

There is no such thing as bad luck. Sure, there may be trials and tribulations, but they aren't racist, prejudice, or even sexist. We are all forced to face certain challenges in life. This is what separates us from all other species. Our emotions, mental capacity and responsibility for others often makes it difficult to deal with complications that arise.

Things happen in which we are required to be strong for others who are weak. We mask fear and sadness with smiles and slight head nods to prevent any indication that we aren't putting one foot in front of the other.

I've realized the older we get, the harder certain choices become. Reactions can no longer be strictly emotional. And at the end of the day, your reaction is truly all you have when obstacles get in your way. The strong find ways to go over, around or through those obstacles… they find a way no matter what. The weak, they make excuses, ask 'why me?' and truly believe the world is out to get them.

But the strongest find a way to help the weak overcome that obstacle. They lend a hand, provide a boost, or at the very least vocally encourage them that the pain they currently feel is worth the joy that comes once they reach the other side.

Let go of the baggage that is weighing you down. Loosen your grip on all the unnecessary weight that truly brings zero value to your life. There are so many other things you can do with your hands than hold onto things that you can not control.

Lend a hand, give a high five or shake the hand of a stranger. Those 3 things are simplest ways to gift yourself inner joy.

Share this to give encouragement to someone you know who refuses to let go.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Merry Go Round Vs Roller Coaster

As a child I had the opportunity to experience the slowest merry go rounds and the fastest roller coasters. As an adult, I've also unenthusiastically hopped onto that merry go round, wondering when the ride will end. If there is any chance of that horse galloping away from the rest of the pack seemingly content repeating the same path. Slowly turning round and round.

Around this time last year, I was actually slumped over on the merry go round of life. Working a 8 to 5 not necessarily sure if this were the life for me. My job was predictable. Flexible, yet predictable. I probably had it better than most employees. There wasn't a strict dress code, casual Fridays (which also happened to be half-day Friday's), health insurance, stability, a great boss who loved to talk sports. I even had a co-worker who seemed more like a second mom. Always asking about my weekends, knowing I probably spent them at the bar. Giving me tips on marriage and what types of women to stay away from. She even made sure the office had snacks.

It wasn't the office or the people who made this job boring. I think I understood how much I was undervaluing myself. My impact was confined within my job responsibility. I'm the kind of person who thrives off competition. I'm the guy who steps on the treadmill right next to you even though we're the only people in the gym.

My job at the time didn't excite me. I brought zero passion into the office. My days became a routine. Wake up, shower, eat, drive to the office, stare at a computer screen, leave the office, fight traffic, workout, shower, eat, dedicate a few minutes to other projects, then sleep. I eventually lost who I was. I no longer felt my face tire from smiling. Excitement was gone.

Today, I am on one hell of a roller coaster… I'm even sitting in the front seat. I don't know where the next turn is going to take me, how fast we're going, I even try anticipating when that stupid camera is going to take an unexpected picture.

There are days I wonder how I'm supposed to get through the next week. When lows come, boy do they come. But every time I feel myself stressing too much this ride of a roller coaster takes me higher than I ever imagined.

The people you meet on a roller coaster are extraordinary. They live for the thrill. They have full faith in the engineers who designed the roller coaster, the pimple faced teenager asking you to keep all limbs inside the ride at all times, even the seat belt to keep you from falling out during a loop. These passengers get on the ride knowing all along the ride is worth the wait. It's exciting. The only people who don't spend the entire ride smiling are those who are about to throw up.

We are all passengers of some sort. Some of us rely on the steady pace that a merry go round brings. Trusting the consistency of speed, mesmerized by the soft music and lights. Others seek the unknown of roller coaster tracks. Willing to take a quick deep plunge after a strong, steady and slow creep to the top.

Whichever ride you decide to take in life, be sure it brings a smile to your face. Cause much like life, the amusement park will eventually close and I hope you leave without regretting spending too much time on the wrong ride.