Dropping action bombs on my writers block

Do you know those people who won’t do anything until it’s been critiqued, analyzed, thought through and figured out twice over, broken down into bite sized pieces and baked up again in a giant idea-casserole?

Hint: who has two thumbs resting on the space bar right now? ME!

My sixth grade band never launched to super stardom because we couldn’t decide the right name that was equally catchy and applicable to a worldwide audience. In fact, we never learned instruments because we ALSO couldn’t settle on who the lead singer should be, or which one of three non-drummers had to play base (they thought I was going to play base? get real Jordan and James).

The point is, I am one of those people that is too afraid to start anything because I always fear the road ahead. I fear wasting time because it’s not done right. I fear that I will get bored and give up, or that I am not good enough for whatever it is that I want to accomplish.

Luckily, I have the greatest wife in the world (you should see her marital trophy case — impressive hardware people). She is the polar opposite of me in this regard and, sometimes to a fault (love you, b) will dive into something head first on a passing whim. Sometimes it drives me crazy, but I love it because 9 times out of 10, she accomplishes whatever it was she wanted to do.

Side note for fun, notable 1/10 failures of hers include:

  • cauliflower-crust pizza
  • indoor plants
  • Running career

I should stop now while I’m not too far behind.

What I’ve learned from her, though, is that in order to accomplish anything, you have to start something. Before I met her, I didn’t have ambition to write anything. I figured I never had a job as a writer so who would hire me? Why would anyone want to read what I had to say? But since she taught me to just start (I think it actually started with this blog), I have written for online publishing companies, a respected fantasy football site, numerous websites, and it’s even led me to what I hope will be more lucrative opportunities in the future.

So, circling the wagon back to now. Sometimes I notice I haven’t written for awhile on this blog, and I try to force myself to come up with something really clever because, well, I’m just certain that everyone remembers the last time I posted and they’re all patiently waiting for something grand from me now. Of course, this isn’t the case.

So, what I want to say in all of this is to just get out and start doing, whatever that means to you. If you aren’t happy with your job, start doing something along the lines of what it is you like doing (assuming you like more than eating, drinking, smoking pot, etc.). It’s more important to get on the path rather than trying to define the path. Once you’re moving, it’s a lot easier to determine the right direction to go.

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Humble Brag – Props to my Wife

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I don’t want to steal any thunder from my wife who, today, quit her corporate job and is officially *dramatic music* “self-employed.” In fact, she just texted me that she told her boss (something she’s been dreading for…well, as long as she’s had it in her mind to quit I guess). I hope she will go into more detail in her own blog about her thoughts, struggles, successes, and every emotion in between because it takes a ton of guts to do what she did today.

Kelly has ALWAYS wanted to work for herself. Her parents and her brother all work for themselves and, for as long as I’ve known her, Kelly has been envious and dreamed of doing the same thing. About a year ago, she started doing some freelance social media and event planning for a couple of local businesses in the community. Her first (and probably favorite, but don’t tell anyone) was a restaurant we already liked going to that was near our house. That first day, she just went up to the owner, more-or-less bluntly asked if she needed any marketing help, and was surprised that she did and was happy to pay Kelly (at the time) a good amount of money for her to take over her social media and put on a few events at the restaurant.

It’s exciting for me to see how far she’s come with everything. Since she started with the social and events, she taught herself graphic design and also how to build websites. She can now charge 3x what she did just one year ago, and I think she’s beginning to realize that the work she does is worth more than that even.

I think a lot of people in my position would be scared to have their wife do what Kelly is doing. She and I basically brought home the same amount of money before this, so the security of knowing what the paycheck was going to be 3, 6, 12 months from now was a comfortable way to plan for the things we want to buy and the places we want to go.

The thing is, having seen how far she’s come and having heard how much her clients appreciate her work, I am excited about the prospect of what her working for herself will mean for our income (especially if you give her 40+ more hours to focus on everything). I don’t care if we aren’t bringing home what we did for a few months, because I know she’s the kind of person that won’t sit still until she’s where she wants to be. And the exciting thing is, she’s the kind of person that never settles for things being good enough.

I am extremely proud of my wife for having the courage to do what it is she’s wanted to do for a long time. There are a million reasons she shouldn’t have left a good paying job with benefits, but she is putting her happiness first and I believe with my whole heart that there are much bigger things in our future because she has the courage and vision to bet on herself. There is not a bone in my body that second guesses that this is the right thing to do and that she’s making the right decision.

 

Things I’m Liking Lately – May 2016 Edition

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I’ll admit it from the jump: I’m stealing this idea from my wife who wrote a piece a few months back about the things she’s loving right now. Whatever, it was a good idea and now I want to do it. For legal reasons, I’ll title mine “Things I’m Liking Lately” and not “Things I’m Loving Lately” (you never know, she might sue me if we get into a fight later…).

Anyway, this is all about the things I’m into and passionate about at the moment. A lot of these are summer things I have coming up, and others are longer-arcing projects that excite me.

I should also say that these things aren’t in any order.

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Sweat Local Columbus

This began as something my wife started as a “wouldn’t it be great if…” and has turned into a pretty big deal. We pretty much laughed at the kiddy-pool idea of starting small, and created an event that will feature a 5k (complete with a police-patrolled route, timing chips, sponsored finish line banner..the works) and an expo that will feature many of Columbus’ local boutique gyms and restaurants. The event is really too big to describe in this blog post, but you should definitely check out the website and come if you’re in town (July 30, 2016). We’ve already received a ton of support from businesses and are excited to put on this event. #SweatLocalCbus

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Obstacle Course Races

So I have this tendency to fall in love with something then go all out for whatever that thing happens to be. My current obsession is Obstacle Course Races (though I’ve only competed in one race). Still, I am looking up every different race that involves mud and a wall, and I’m trying to find ways to justify driving to North Carolina for a race with my wife (Ashville is only 3 hours further south, and it would ONLY be a 12 hour drive home!).

I’m not going to spend more time on this one because I feel like I’ve driven this one into the ground with Facebook pictures, Twitter updates, and two blog posts on here dedicated to my Spartan Race. Long story short — I’m now following just about every OCR account on Twitter and have worn out the Google machine as far as “top ten races” are concerned.

Fun stuff!

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Writing

Kind of an odd thing looking at “writing,” but I’m kind of getting excited about writing again. I recently joined a site called “ClearVoice” and they basically allow you to upload some writing samples you’ve done in the past and set a $/word amount for any potential assignments. They then email you opportunities and if you want to do it and the company wants you to do it, you have an assignment.

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Anyway, it’s fun to be writing again. I still enjoy writing these posts and Sports Monte posts, but sometimes getting real life assignments about things you have to research and learn a thing or two about is fun.

I did get an “opportunity” to write a blog post about “why polyamory isn’t cheating.” I was considering it until my wife steered me clear. I guess after a certain age, the “I’ll write anything for money” mindset has to wear off. Thanks, babe, for saving me from that one!

Style

I’m notorious for “shopping” online, but never making it past putting things in carts. I probably have expired items in so many digital carts. But recently, I had a look I wanted to pull off for a wedding that’s coming up in two weeks. It’s a navy suit with a Kelly green knit silk tie and some kind of a pale blue, minimal-print shirt underneath. I’ll also have the obvious cognac shoes-belt combo working.

I’m also keeping an eye on some other sites like Gustin and JackThreads. I like the idea of stepping my jeans-game up. I’ve gotten away from the Express and American Eagle jeans phase and am currently in a Levis-from-the-department-store phase. I like these jeans, but I’m intrigued by a really quality pair of denim. Haven’t pulled the trigger on the jeans, yet, but I did make the plunge on a Navy suit!

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Travel

2016 is still the #YearofTravel, and I am still really excited about Ireland and the on-again, off-again Vegas vacation in August that is currently a full-go! (We have our plane tickets now so I feel confident). We’re Vegasing to help out my in-laws (Hi, Jim and Kathy!) at a PGA show. So, while I still plan to have plenty of fun this trip, it is a business trip and I think Kelly and I are going to have to keep a young, upstart putter maker in check and make sure he doesn’t get lost in the lights (he’s 26ish, will be going to Vegas for the first time, and kind of has that frat-mentality from having met him just the once).

Of course, the headliner for 2016: The #YearofTravel is Ireland and, again, I’ve written about that enough on this page. If you want to know more about that, check out that article. I think those two trips might be all we can handle, but if a weekend adventure, wedding, or some other opportunity presents itself, I might be hard pressed to say no. Because aside from it being 2016: The #YearofTravel, it’s also 2016: The #YearofYes, so I’m trying to say yes to as many things as I can and see what kind of year it was when I look back at it from 2017.

Anyway, those are the things I’m liking at the moment. If you think there is something I’m missing out on, please comment and I will see if it’s something I might add to my list of likes!

 

 

Writers Prompt #12: An hour as your 10 year old self

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Traveling back to 1995 for an hour would, first of all, mean I get to go back to my Detroit Lions Starter jacket (that I wore in South Florida because when it’s 70 degrees in January, burrrr), Airwalk shoes, fantasizing about the T-shirt wall at Spencers gifts, and checking the value of my baseball card collection in every new edition of Beckett magazine. I’d be checking my pager to see if Zach “911’d” me to get to the basketball court, or if I should go to the aquatic center or the ice rink tonight (because those were the hella dope places to be).

But if I only had an hour to spend, I’d probably leave my Magic the Gathering cards at home, tell Sonic the Hedgehog that he’d have to get those gold rings without me, and I’d call as many friends as I could think of…

Bike gang, y’all!

There was something cool about riding bikes in a group that made me feel cool. I imagine it’s the childhood equivalent of what motorcycle gangs feel like when they ride on Sundays, only we didn’t throw the motorcycle wave around everywhere we went.

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Sup bro? Sup bro? Image courtesy of http://www.motorsport.com

Rival bike gangs were serious business, and if we had to meet at the sandpit for a fight after school next week well that’s just politics.

So if I only had one hour to be 10 years old again, I’d be outside, with friends, doing something that made me feel confident. I don’t think that riding bikes was every my favorite thing to do at the time, but looking back, it was the thing that best defined who I was as a kid. And the best part is, while I don’t ride bikes anymore, being outside with friends doing the things I love to do most is still something that defines who I am as an adult.

10 Things Things Should Be

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Think about the thing you love in this world more than anything else. Maybe that’s your parents or your S.O., or maybe it’s your job. Maybe you love playing online video games, or maybe you get your rocks off by climbing rocks. Whatever your thing is, think about it for a second. Think about how you feel when you’re doing that thing or talking to that person. Don’t think about one specific time or conversation, but of that thing as a whole. Wouldn’t it be great if everything were like that thing in your life? Wouldn’t it be magical if you woke up, and everything you did felt like that thing you love?

Why isn’t that the case? Why do we wake up angry that it’s Monday, or stay up late watching TV because we don’t want to go to work the next day? Why do we avoid phone calls from friends because you know it’s going to be drama?

This blog is about figuring out things in your life that are worthwhile and meaningful, and figuring out how to make everything else in your life more like those things. Your things shouldn’t be cumbersome or something you avoid, they should be the things that bring you happiness and allow you to be the kind of you you were meant to be.

Here is a list of ten things things should be:

  1. Useful – Usefulness doesn’t mean something is a tool. Things can be useful by bringing out different sides of your personality, or helping you make something else better. Useful things make us productive, either directly or indirectly. If something isn’t useful in your life, why do you keep it around?  Is it comfortable?
  2. Inspiring – Inspiring doesn’t mean that you have to have an Epiphany any time you have a conversation. Inspiring means something has to make you think and to make you see something in a different light every now and then.
  3. Beautiful – Beauty comes in many shapes and sizes, and applies to things other than people too (believe it or not)! Beauty isn’t just a painting or a cover girl or a sunset. Beauty is having something personal that fills you with happiness. Beauty is something meaningful and speaks to you unlike anything else.
  4. Engaging – If something doesn’t hold your attention then why do you care about it? Everything doesn’t have to always have your full attention, but if something NEVER has your full attention, you can probably do without it.
  5. Memorable – The most important things we will have at the ends of our lives are memories, and the things we hold nearest to our hearts should be memories we have with the things that mean the most to us.
  6. Unique – Your things should be unique. Life isn’t an Ikea store where everything can be compartmentalized and organized and made to fit into tiny boxes in your brain. Your things, your BEST things, should be as unique as you are and mean something different to you than anyone else.
  7. Timeless – Things shouldn’t have expiration dates unless they can be eaten. Things should continue to be long after they’re gone. Think about the conversations you have had with people that stick in your mind; good, bad, or ugly they stick with you and are powerful. Make every conversation, and every THING in your life stick with you even if you are doing something else.
  8. Valuable – Don’t think of value as something that has a dollar sign attached to it. Value in the marketplace is different than value in our lives. What is it that your things allow you to do or allow you to be? Value means something will be equally or more important tomorrow than it is today.
  9. Consistent – Things should be consistent, reliable, and we should be able to count on things to be as they are when we need them the most. Consistency allows you to lean on something when times get hard, and know that you will get the most out of it when each and every time.
  10. Original – You don’t always have to do things other people do, and your relationships don’t have to be the way other people think they are supposed to be. Don’t ever be afraid to push the envelope, whether it’s challenging your husband or choosing which color paint to make your bedroom.

I think most people would agree to these 10 things things should be. You might have a few other ideas about what things should be, and feel free to apply it to this next idea.

Think about the things in your life. Think about the friendships, relationships, stuff you’ve accumulated over the years and keep at your home. Think about your hobbies, your job, and your weekend plans. Think about your TV shows, your books, the emails you haven’t sent and your Amazon shopping cart. How would you rate the things in your life? Of the ten most recent things you’ve thought about, how many of those fit into all of the “things” in the list above? How many of those things fit into half of the things on that list?

Think about your job or your marriage; are those things engaging and valuable? Are they consistent and inspiring? If they aren’t then what keeps you invested in those things? Does a paycheck allow you to make for a better life or does it hold you in a position you hate being in? Does coming home to someone you feel contempt toward justify some kind of need to share rent together?

The last thought I will leave you with is this: pretend you’re having a conversation with your eight-year-old self. Pretend you know everything about yourself at that age, but he knows nothing of what you’ve become or where you’re at in your adult life. Pretend he asked you if you’re happy with yourself. What would you say if he asked about your job or your friends or what you liked to do when you had free time. Would you lie to him or would you inspire him? Just because you didn’t become an astronaut doesn’t mean you’d disappoint yourself, but if you have to lie about the most important things in your life, do something to change that.

 

What Feels like Magic to you?

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This is part two of Death to Stock Photo’s writing prompt series that I am writing both on Medium and WordPress. The prompt was “What feels like magic to you?” and below is what I think feels like magic to me.

Magic is a funny thing because in order to feel it, you have to let your mind give up on trying to figure things out. The first thing I think of when I think of “magic” is the guy on stage with a black top half either making something disappear or pulling something out of thin air. Your first thought is always “how did he do that?” The younger we are, the more willing we are to just call it magic and believe.

As we get older, those old magic tricks aren’t as awesome. We try to figure it out, and instead of chalking it up to magic, we say things like “slight of hand, mirrors, illusions, or trick deck.” We aren’t as willing to accept magic into our lives because as we become adults, imagination turns into reason and we over-analyze why things happen, whether its a magic trick or an accident on the highway.

There are times, however, that magic can find it’s way back into our lives if we let it. For me, one word stands out when I think of what feels like magic to me, and that word is “connect.”

When I hear a song for the first time that I connect with, it feels like magic. The other night while I was running, I heard a song (The Gambler by Fun) that made me think of my wife and how I wished we could have used that song in our wedding somehow. There is no explanation for why that song at that moment made me feel that way, just like as a kid, there is no explanation for how a someone could be sawed in half but still move their arms and feet from a separated box.

When I see a movie that I connect with, I want to go out and do something; I want to be a better person or fulfill some aspect of my life that isn’t complete (hopefully for other people who feel the same way, that movie isn’t SAW or Fear and Loathing for two very different reasons). I sign up for a race because I want to connect with some athletic part of me I miss from years back when that was a big part of how I identified myself. The euphoria I feel when I run now is magic to me.

When I read books and connect with an idea or a character I think it’s magic. Years ago, I read Anna Karenina and there is a section that deals with one of the primary characters, Levin. Levin was a farmer (more or less) who would go out and work the fields with some of the peasants he hired. The passage in the book finds Levin in a field and connecting the synergy of the world to the trees and crops, and how they all work in harmony to help the people live and survive. I remember reading that and deciding that was my idea of God. The fact that something someone wrote more than 100 years ago can change my mind on how I think about life can only be described as magic.

Whether we are children or adults, magic comes down to taking a step away from something and just accepting it for what it is. It’s not about reason, logic, or facts, but about allowing yourself to live in whatever moment you happen to be in and connect with something that moves you.

5 Ways to Make yourself a Better Person by Tomorrow

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Betterment is a word I have to verify was actually a word when I came up with this sentence. It is also the act of improving oneself and is something we should all strive for everyday. In order to better yourself, you don’t have to travel to Tibet to build orphanages or send your entire paycheck to the animal shelter and live in poverty. Betterment begins with little changes that might turn into something huge, or they might fizzle out after a moment’s thought. The point is, if our mindset is to get better and we are honest about improving, we can’t help but better ourselves, even as early as tomorrow!

Here are five little things you can do to be a better person tomorrow than you (already) are today.

  1. Do 10 (more) pushups – Doing 10 pushups isn’t going to be the different between a six-pack and beer belly. Doing 10 pushups is like putting the change from your pocket at the end of the day into savings. In itself, it isn’t going to make you rich. But by saving little by little, you’re developing good habits. Likewise, doing 10 pushups today might make you do 10 pushups tomorrow, and maybe 15 the day after that. Improving your health is one of the best things you can ever do for yourself. We only get one body, so take care of it!
  2. Do something unexpected – Maybe it’s start a blog or write someone you haven’t talked to in awhile an email. Whatever it is, mix up your routine and surprise yourself. Too often, we get stuck in ruts and just decide that we are going to grind our way through something and it will magically get better. If we don’t ever try to change something and do things a little differently sometimes, we’re destined for the same tomorrow that we have today.
  3. Be charitable – This doesn’t mean you need to donate money or your time, although if you have the chance to do so, you should. Being charitable means making someone else’s life better in some way. You can tell your mom you love her or help your wife out by cooking dinner instead of asking her to do so.
  4. Use the world “love” – They’ve done studies (“they” being top, top level scientists I’m sure) that prove that if you force yourself to smile, you will improve on your mood. Similarly, if you use the word “love” when talking to someone or writing an email, you will improve your own mood as well as make an impression on the person to whom you’re talking(provided you don’t say something like “I love cheating on homework” or “I love stealing from kids”).
  5. Be thankful – being thankful is one of the best ways to be a better person because it shows humility and will make people want to gravitate toward you. Whether in remedial tasks and life in general, being thankful reminds oneself that there are those in the who don’t have what you have. Just the fact that you can read this post means you have a lot more than some people, and not taking anything for granted is a great perspective to have in life.