Necessary

NECESSARY

I think I’ll write a poem that speaks epic truth, tonight
It doesn’t matter if you tend to lean left or lean right
Politics aren’t helping us, the gap is greater in-between
We need to stop fixating on whose King or who is Queen

We need to shift the focus to what matters, that’s for real
We need to stop the spinning and start breaking culture’s wheel
Martin wasn’t joking when he wrote that brilliant line
The story’s great, sure, but a grander message lies behind

Nothing’s stronger than a thread that’s woven one and all
But if you try to weave it on your own you’ll sadly fall
History has proven this, it’s not news to anyone
The ink in this here pen I wield weighs more than your big gun

Every life we live is shaped by minds that can run free
And if we came together just imagine what could be
Forgiveness, empathy, this is what we need
And we ever grasp these things our whole planet will be freed

Fire doesn’t put out fire, its ego you should bury
Someone had to say it, right? These words are necessary.

Feelings

New to me, these feelings are

I thought these thoughts all dwelled afar

For years they have alluded me

Now here, tonight, my soul’s set free

Comparison: the theif of joy

I’ve longed for this since just a boy

I’ve watched, observed, the ones who love

And always wished I’d rise above

Such reservations I have had

Since yesteryear and just a lad

Now here, tonight, under these stars

It feels like this whole world is ours

And as we dance under moonlight

Those eyes of yours, they shine so bright

Such luck it was that I found you

Let’s live this life, as we’re meant to

The Tour

Psst, hey you! Come here, my friend

To you, my hand, I shall extend

Don’t be shy, come quietly

This is for you, just follow me

 

A tour this is, with me, your guide

So let us gently step inside

Now take a seat, get strapped right in

Prepare the mind to twirl and spin

 

First stop, its here, a bright red light

We look around, no soul in sight

And so we drive, but wait! Just stop

A ticket written from this cop?

 

“You ran a red light.” So, my friend?

There was no one around the bend

What purpose do you serve, you see?

Protect and serve, for my safety?

 

Then why, dear sir, must you oppress?

I looked each way, both right and left

‘Twas obvious, no danger here

And so I went, but still you’re here?

 

Truth is, my friend, that light you see

Is simply there for trafficking

A ticket now is petty, no?

Written only ‘cause “I told you so”

 

But hey,  you there, let’s move along

Let’s not get caught up in this “wrong”

The point of using it, you see

Was to make you sit and think

 

So come on now, next stop ‘n still

Is at my cousin’s funer-ill

But don’t feel bad, no please don’t cry

He had it coming, stupid guy

 

Just look around, observe and see

All these tears and cries we grieve

Tell me, is your faith in God?

‘Cause if it is, he’s just a bod

 

That’s right, he’s nothing now, down here

So wipe and dry that tumbling tear

If believe, you truly do

You’d be happy for the news!

 

He’s up there in your heaven, right?

And as you lay down, every night

You tell yourself “we’ll meet again”

But will you really, my old friend?

 

Okay let’s pause, and take a break

I know it’s hard to be awake

This tour is tough, it’s hard for me

To drive folks through reality

 

The truth is harsh, it doesn’t care

What color, skin, or crown you wear

These words offend you? Sacrilege?

Buy “ignorance is bliss” package

 

This tour, I say. it must go on

And money man, it pays the bondS

So let’s move on to our stop three

And talk about our friend, money

 

Here we have, right in our hands

The instrument, that rules our lands

Every single thing you do

Is to make more, more accrue

 

More and more until its thought

We can afford the life we want

Well what if way back, way back when

‘Fore money was invented, friend

 

They’d thought of something else, instead

Like I build houses, you bake bread

Existence without currency

I know its weird, this tour with me

 

Its in a world, where things are not

The status quo, these thing’s we’re thought

Hey, you know, I’m just your guide

That’s how it is, just let it slide

 

Pretend its normal, this new world

Cause every curl we have uncurled

Is hard to think of, yeah that’s right

Because you’ve learned one way, alright?

 

Conditioning, please don’t feel bad

But when you wake up, don’t be mad

These things we’ve taught you to believe

Are all an act, a just reprieve

 

Created rules, and laws you see

To contain the thought that’s free

But now my friends, you have a guide

I need support, this scheduled ride

 

We must end it, I decree

And bring back our humanity

There is a game, you know it’s true

And trust me, world, I need you

Don’t Wait

Oftentimes, I’ll look to see

The person looking back at me

Watching through a hazy lens

At who that strange reflection is

 

Staring forward, several blinks

Is he the person that he thinks?

Does he do the things he speaks?

Is practice coming from the preach?

 

My eyes still glare, this man ahead

I’ll wonder what, that day, is said

Right now I live, and yet I dread

What memory, of me when dead

 

What mark have I bestowed upon

The family that I belong

I hope they say, when I’m a thought

That happiness is what he brought

 

Improved the lives, of all the men

The girls and kids, the children

For life is but a journey, yes

We walk and run, we talk and dress

 

We do the things we love to do

To make ourselves enjoy the dew

Every day, a precious gift

So smile wide, and heart uplift

 

This path is short, don’t waste your time

Just search and search until you find

The purpose you’ve been looking for

Unlock and open passion’s door

Free

Sitting, gazing, pondering

Watching, waiting, wondering

What things do others think at night?

What lights turn on, when shining bright?

 

Some will think of gentle breeze

Blinding true priorities

Truth is veiled, this life of fun

As fear resides behind the gun

 

Condemn them not, instead envy

And long for their reality

To think the things we wish to be

This mind, it pains and torments me

 

The words I write cannot express

But for my sake I shall digress

Question all, its not a sin

Your truth, the real, comes from within

Survive

What fire burns, deep within

When darkness falls, and days are grim

What ember lives, while others wain

Choked in silence, succumbed to pain

What force shall hold, as others die

Stuck, complacent, teethe and writhe

What echo sounds, when others fade

Like leaves of autumn, drift away

What branch grows old, as others fall

With hardened bark, it reaches tall

What ship still sails, as seas pour in

Through thunderous channels, deafening wind

What castle stands, its flag unharmed

Though battles fought, and pyres warmed

The weak shall fall, the strong remain

What left have I, to give but name

Unsung Heroes: Our Black Brothers & Sisters

In the midst of another era of racial and socioeconomic tension, America finds itself yet again divided. Its still to be decided as to how things will play out, but if one thing is for certain, its this: things must change. Folks are going to have to start getting along, or these violent riots and protests are going to rip our nation apart.

There is something lingering, however, that I think needs to be addressed. In my discussions with people on all sides of these issues, I’ve noticed that there is a certain degree of doubt as to how much our society and culture has truly benefited from the contributions of black Americans (and other minorities). While most people I speak to don’t come from the standpoint of looking down on minorities, many do seem to neglect certain contributions they have made, whether intentionally or not.

In light of this, I have decided to put together a list of some great people of color who, throughout our history, have impacted us all in a positive way. Some you may not have heard of, and some you may know quite dearly. The point is to illustrate how important we ALL are in our human quest to create a loving, inclusive society. There is no shortage of white characters who have received recognition, we all know that. So hopefully, by highlighting some of the others, the folks who still seem to foster the “white supremacy” opinion will take a harder look at the reality of this world we share. We’re all trying, people. Love each other – it shouldn’t be that hard, right?

GEORGE WASHINGTON CARVER

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Many people don’t know this, but GWC, a freed slave turned brilliant scientist, was a monumental influence on Vice President Henry Wallace. Wallace, a farmer from Iowa, used GWC’s ideas to enormously boost corn production during World War II, filling increasing needs of our exploding economy.

BASS REEVES

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Bass was the first black US deputy Marshall West of the Mississippi. He basically destroyed outlaws and was an overall bad-ass, for want of a better term. He caught all the bad guys, and even killed 14 people in self defense. Keepin’ all them white folk safe!

BUFFALO SOLDIERS

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The Buffalo Soldiers was a term used for many regiments of black American soldiers who fought in many wars, originating in the 10th Cavalry Regiment of the US Army in 1866. The term came from Native Americans, who thought their hair resembled that of Buffalo hair. They contributed to many great American victories, and served valiantly for their country. The term was used loosely by some to describe all black soldiers, but the history here is important to know. Many of our victories would never have been possible without the brave efforts of what many referred to as the “Negros Cavalry”.

TUSKEGEE AIRMEN

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Many have probably heard of these fellas, as there is now a big Hollywood movie about them. These guys were the first African American Air Unit in WWII, and went on many selfless missions to fight the good fight. Lot of great sub stories in these guys ranks, too. Check em out!

JOHN ALBERT BURR

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Anyone know a guy who owns a landscaping company? I sure do. Lots. And they can all thank Mr. John Albert Burr for pretty much inventing modern lawn mowing and paving the way for profits! That’s right, you’re looking at the man who invented the rotary lawn mowing blade – U.S. patent #624,749.

PERCY JULIAN

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Percy Julian was one of the most important scientists of the 20th century, making great discoveries in the fields of healthcare, with a focus on synthetic compounds. His work far exceeds my intellectual prowess, but folks should know that many of the compounds we enjoy today in the field of medicine were made possible by him.

ELIJAH MCCOY

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Elijah McCoy was an inventor. A thinker. An innovator. Throughout his life, he made trains more efficient,  improved oil rigs, and even honed steam engines. He was a brilliant man, capable of some of the most efficient thought from an engineering perspective. He even invented a movable ironing board to help make ironing-on-the-go easier. You’re welcome, ladies.

LEWIS LATIMER

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Lewis Latimer was paramount in further perfecting the light bulb. He led efforts installing electric plants in cities such as Philadelphia and Montreal. Without him, the incandescent bulb might not be what it is today. Thanks Lewis!

ROSA PARKS

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Rosa needs no introduction. The only thing I want to say here is that I bet she made the best neighbor EVER. You know, the one who’s always making sure the kids are behaving and aren’t doing anything stupid? Making sure they all got their homework done and came in before dinner time. I imagine that’s how Rosa was. A sweet, nice, lady who stood up (or in this case sat down) for what’s right. We need more of her.

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Now, I could go on and on and on and on with this, but this is the point, in case anyone’s missed it. All of these people did things for the greater good, not for one side or the other. They never berated other people, they just uplifted folks. That’s the direction we need to be moving, everyone. Forward. Up. Not backwards, or down.

A good question to ask yourself if you’re considering making a move in this game of life: what direction will this push people in?

For Better or Worse

Chapter 1

They’re so cute!”

Looking into a giant glass terrarium at her small colony of pets within, a little girl tugs on her father’s sleeve to get his attention.

“I know, dear. They’re very cute. Now get tucked in, it’s getting past your bedtime,” the father says.

“But Daddy!” The little girl begs, peering back at the many small creatures inside. “Can’t I watch them play just a little bit longer? Look! Aw, look Daddy! Those two are loving each other!”

“Come on now, little girl. You’ve stayed up late enough. Time for bed.” He says, lifting his daughter up as he hoists her into her sleeping space.

“Okay, okay.” The girl sighs, watching her father place the wide veil over the terrarium to cover it. “See you guys tomorrow!” She shouts gleefully at her tiny creatures.

Kissing her on the snout, the father tucks the little girl in and turns off the light.

“Good night, little munchkin. I love you.” He says, closing the door until it’s just slightly cracked.

“I love you too Daddy.” The girl replies. Waiting until her father is gone, she lifts her head and peers at the glass dome.

“I love you guys too,” she whispers, closing her eyes before slowly drifting asleep.

Chapter 2

“Rise and shine, everyone!”

Quickly pulling away the large veil covering the girl’s terrarium, she excitedly greets the occupants inside.

“I bet you guys are hungry, aren’t you?” She asks matter-of-factly. Walking to the small closet in the corner of her room, she grabs a packet of food and a pale of water.

“And it looks like your lake is almost all dried up! You guys must be thirsty!” The girl exclaims, ripping open the food packet as she pulls back the small square door at the top the glass dome.

Holding the packet over the center of the little community of creatures, the girl shakes it until all the tiny morsels of food have fallen out. Watching her pets scramble toward the newly dropped food, she smiles as she pours water into the side of the dome where a pond-like crevice has been dug.

“Drink up, teenie weenies!” She cheerfully says, closing the lid.

As she places the water pale back in the closet, she notices that one of the tiny creatures is laying underneath a group of mini tree-like plants, not moving.

“Oh no!” She cries. “Not again!”

Placing her hands on the glass to lean over the dome, she looks down at the recently deceased pet.

“I told you all to stop fighting!” She tersely shouts. “Why can’t you just get along?”

Returning to the closet, the girl reaches in and grabs a long, skinny pole with a tong on the end. Re-opening the glass lid, she nabs the dead creature and chucks it outside her open window onto the lawn below.

“If I find out which one of you keeps doing this, you’re gonna be in big trouble!” She asserts, holding the tong up. “Now ya’ll behave while I’m gone!”

Closing the lid once more, she puts the tong back in the closet, exiting the room to spend the day outside.

Chapter 3

“Aw, yay!”

The day after disposing the dead creature, the little girl is pleasantly surprised to see that two of her pets have had a baby. Standing over the dome with a wide grin on her face, she looks down at the two tiny creatures nurturing their teenie, fragile newborn.

“Good job, you two! I hope the others take after the example you’ve set.” The girl coos, giggling as she watches the little family huddled together in the corner of the glass enclosure.

“Oh! But wait!” She says, remembering the chapter in her booklet that teaches how to properly take care of the creatures.

Sliding the lid open, the girl reaches down and grabs the newborn pet, pulling it up out of the dome. As she does so, the parents become visibly distraught, running to the edge of the glass as they watch the little girl carry the baby across the room.

“It’s okay!” She shouts back at them with a smile, seeing their distress. “I’m just making sure she’ll grow up nice and strong!” She adds, placing the small newborn in a separate, much smaller container.

Obviously not comprehending the reassurances of the girl, the baby creature’s parents remain at the edge of the glass for the remainder of the day, helplessly peering across the room at their new offspring, wishing they could be together.

Chapter 4

“All better!”

Pulling her arm from out of the tank, the little girl slides the lid back on her glass habitat after setting down the little newborn she’d taken out the night before.

“Those nutrients will make you a super pet!” She shouts, watching the parents finally reconnect with their baby.

“Anyway,” the girl says, sounding bored, “What are the rest of you guys up to?”

Stepping over a few feet to observe the little colony of creatures, she scratches her head.

“Why do you all keep doing that?!” The girl cries. “Stop splitting up!”

Since she first got them, the creatures have shown a tendency to huddle together in small groups. Some are lighter colored, and some are darker, and they seem to prefer grouping with those they resemble.

“You guys are sooooo weird,” the girl says to them. “You know you’re all the same little things, right?”

Looking back to a bookshelf against the wall, the girl grabs the instruction booklet that came with her pets’ terrarium. Opening it up, she turns to the pages that cover their interactions with one another.

“The creatures will have a tendency to keep close proximity with ones that look most like them.” She reads. “Do not worry if they display this behavior, as it is expected of them.”

Taking a moment to look at the tank again, the little girl shuts the booklet.

“Huh! Well I guess it’s normal after all, weirdos! But just so you guys know, I think that’s pretty dumb. You’re all made of the same stuff.” She says, sliding the booklet back in its spot on the shelf. “Anyway, its sleepy time! Good night little ones.”

Flicking off the light, the girl throws the wide veil over the dome and crawls into bed.

Chapter 5

“Hidey hidey hoooo!!”

Happily skipping over to the habitat on her table,  the little girl in the bedroom is gleaming over the new cut she’s gotten for her fur.

“Do you like my new bangs, teenie weenies?” She excitedly asks her pets. “I know you can’t understand me, but I bet you do! They’re very pretty. Just like you guys!”

Looking to a small group of less-than-healthy-looking creatures coddled in the far rear of the dome, she grimaces.

“Well, like most of you guys, at least.” She says, rolling her head to the side as she snootily brushes her hair back. “Anyway, you’re gonna love the new toy Daddy got for you all!”

Opening the tank, the girl lifts a box and pulls out a large digital screen which depicts moving images of other small creatures that look just like her pets. The creatures displayed appear to be acting out their own little lives, similar to the ones in the terrarium. Finding a cozy spot to set it in the terrarium, she places the big screen down as the tiny inhabitants flock over in front of it, seemingly enamored as they watch the images.

“I knew you’d like it!” The girl excitedly coos, closing the lid. “No idea why, though. After all, those fake teeny weenies aren’t doing anything that you aren’t already doing yourselves! Why don’t you just watch each other, sillies?”

Happily scooting back to observe the new environment she’s created, the little girl spends the rest of her evening quietly watching them enjoy their new square of moving images.

Chapter 6

Caution: Creatures may occasionally engage in physical conflict. It is important for the owner of the habitat to pay close attention to how your terrarium’s occupants are grouped. Indicators of impending conflict may include, but are not limited to:

  • Two large groups of inhabitants facing one another in close proximity. Usually preceded by audible squealing of the creatures as a collective.
  •  Aggressive body language, abrupt movement, and loud vocal exchanges (when occurring simultaneously). Individually these behaviors do not necessarily indicate physical conflict. 

**Important**

If your terrarium’s inhabitants group together in close proximity while carrying small, board-like signposts or other tools, separate them immediately. It is recommended you allow two to four hours before removing them from isolation to reintegrate with their fellow inhabitants. This will allow their aggressive emotions to subside, creating a more peaceful environment for your pets! 

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Closing the handbook, the little girl sets her Creature Care Taking Manual back on the bookshelf by her bed after reading it.

“Silly teenie-weenies!” She says, laughing as she turns to look at them from her bed. “See? There’s no need for you guys to fight! It says right here you’ll calm down if you yourselves a little time to blow off the steam.”

Getting up to walk over to the dome, she opens it and removes the partition she’d placed down three hours ago to separate two groups of visibly angry little creatures.

“You guys are so cute.” She says as she watches the two groups slowly make their way toward one another, eventually creating one seamless, teenie-weenie unit.

“Good job! I’m proud of you fellas.” She says.

Shutting the lid, she turns around and leaps into bed, wriggling around until she’s created a little dimple in her wide mattress. Hearing the commotion, her father enters the room to kiss her good night.

“Hello, little one. How was your day?” He asks he as he blows her candle out with his long snout.

“It was good, Daddy! I made my little guys get along.” She says cheerfully, obviously proud of herself for mitigating the conflict. “They we’re fighting over something stupid.”

Laughing and smooching her forehead, the father brushes her hair back before walking to the door.

“Good girl. I’m glad to hear that you’re a peaceful overlord.” He says with a chuckle and a wink.

“I love you Daddy!” The little girl says, shutting her eyes.

“I love you too, sweetie.” Her father whispers with a smile, gently closing the door.

Chapter 7

“Ho hum ho hum deedeedee!”

Joyfully skipping around her bedroom, the little girl is singing and humming to herself as her furry pigtails bounce around behind her.

“Now, what are my teenie-weenies up to today?” She asks, skipping over to the terrarium.

As she peers inside, she sees that her little creatures have erected an enormous statue of her. Chiseled to perfection, the monolith displays her every feature, dimpled smile and all.

“Wow! Well look at that!” She squeals in delight. “How did you guys do that without me noticing?!”

Leaning back to admire the sculpture, she beams at the tiny inhabitants inside, who appear to be bowing before her.

“You guys are just so adorable. Thank you for my statue!” She says to them.

Entering her room, the girl’s father approaches the tank as he puts his hand on her head.

“Time for bed, sweetie.”

Noticing the statue, he chuckles.

“And what have we here?” He asks.

“My teenie-weenies built me a monument, Daddy! Look!” The little girl says, pointing to the newly erected obelisk.

“Very impressive!” Her father laughs. “You are clearly a generous God. Now come, let’s get you tucked in.”

“Okay Daddy.” The girl says as her father lifts her up, placing her under the sheets. Kissing her on the forehead, smiles at her before walking out the door.

“I love you, kiddo.” He says.

“Love you too Daddy.” The girl replies, yawning as she softly falls asleep.

Chapter 8

IMPORTANTHUMAN BEINGS ARE VOLATILE, DANGEROUS, AND EMOTIONALLY UNPREDICTABLE 

***Handle with utmost caution. Do not allow these creatures outside of the included habitat***

Setting her instruction booklet aside, the little girl takes one final look at her “teenie-weenies”, before clearing the tank to make room for her next batch of creatures.

“Sorry little guys!! I know you’ve been having the time of your lives in there, but I’ve got some new teenie-weenies on the way!! Daddy says they are even more exciting than you guys! Much smarter and more fun to play with. I’m sooooooo sorry!!!!!!”

Grasping the enclosure with her trunk, the little girl dumps the entire habitat of human beings into the drain inside her bathroom, flushing them down into the abyss below.

“Have fun down there!!” She shouts, smiling as the very last human swirls around in a vortex of death.

“All clean Daddy!” The girl shouts, waiting for her father to bring in her new pets. “These humans were fun.”

 

Julian Hayes: Full Interview

The following is the full response I received from Julian Hayes, the October 2016 featured Millennial for my monthly column at the local newspaper, The Wilson Post. Due to being constricted to a word limit, I use my blog as an outlet to post the full transcripts of my interviews. These transcripts contain a treasure trove of valuable content for anyone interested in learning more about the individuals I write about, as their experiences and insight provide an outstanding resource for those wanting an inside look into their success.

The archived published article on Julian can be found here.

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Hey Julian!

Thanks for letting me write a feature on you. It looks like you’ve
done a lot of really awesome stuff!

If you’ve read the last two columns, I think you get the gist of what
kind of content I’ll need for the article. I know you’ve done a lot
with fitness and helping people transform themselves personally, so
anything you can elaborate on to describe how you’ve helped people
would be great. Maybe individual stories of people you’ve helped or
anything in particular that might stick out where you’ve had an impact
on someone’s life.

Also, if there’s anything outside of fitness that you do like
volunteer stuff or anything, fee free to let me know. The article will
essentially feature how you’re making a positive difference in
peoples’ lives, so anything you can think of is welcomed.

Thanks again! I’m looking forward to featuring you in November 🙂

– Matt

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Matt,

I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but I’m a nerd. I’ve been a nerd long before the Marvel blockbusters made them cool. With that said, my interest in fitness started due to superheroes and to hopefully impress the girls on my college campus.

Doing what I’m currently doing is the last thing I expected.  In fact, I gave up on thinking I was creative in grade school after realizing my work in art class wasn’t as good as everyone else’s—so I just stuck with athletics even though deep down, I’ve always had a creative itch. I’ve always secretly preferred an art crawl over a football tailgating event.

I ignored my creative itch for over a decade until I found myself in New York in the middle of taking first year medical school classes. Through chance encounters and meeting people from all over the world, that was my call to action that maybe I wasn’t doing the right thing.

With this in mind, I woke up in the middle of the night during my summer break and decided not to go back to school, but instead to start my own company.

Merging writing with speaking and coaching allowed me to still have the potential to tremendously affect people’s lives in a positive manner just as I could if I have chosen to continue along the path of becoming a doctor.

Honestly, my mission was really small at the beginning—I planned to just train at a gym and write on occasion for business purposes. The mission became bigger once I started working with more clients. hearing their stories, watching them grow and having random conversations with people who in return encourage me to think bigger.

Health and fitness are the most powerful and essential of assets required for us to live a fulfilling life and reach our potentials. Our health is the head of the octopus and the tentacles are the other facets of our life. Without the head operating accordingly, those tentacles aren’t going to operate as they should.

Achieving a fitness goal creates ripples within your life, increases your confidence, and allows you to share your unique superpower with the world.

With this new perspective, I rebooted my company into The Art of Fitness and Life and wanted to provide people a roadmap to succeeding not only in fitness, but in their specific personal and professional lives as well.

Our toughest challenges isn’t finishing another set of squats, it’s learning how to incorporate these healthy habits that we want to do and know we should be doing into our specific lifestyles without throwing everything else out of order.

I want people to improve their health, but not at the expense of becoming a servant to fitness—this is a mistake I made in college and my early twenties.

Leveling up your fitness leads to new discoveries and capabilities about yourself. While I certainly have helped a decent amount of people, they have equally played a huge role in helping me become the person I am today.

I wish I had the space to highlight all of them, but I’m going to stick to two of my favorite stories.

One of my clients was Cortney, many know her as the fearless leader of Thursday Thrive. Through a very detailed and long email, Cortney reached out to me.

The Cortney who reached out to me was a highly successful accountant, but equally unhealthy even if the outside didn’t show it. As with many people, we over-emphasize our physical fitness and place our professions above our health leading to a neglect in our mental and emotional fitness. She was over-worked, stressed, had a very unhealthy relationship with food, and was excessively exercising.

With that said, I only allowed her to weight train a couple times a week and eliminated almost all her cardio. I made her stop counting calories, avoid the scale, prioritize sleeping, not skip social outings with her girlfriends because she was scared of ruining her progress, and most importantly—start the process of falling back in love with herself.

Cortney was so unbalanced that it took a couple of months for significant progress to happen because she was so sleep deprived and stressed.

The story ended well though. This was a huge breakthrough for me personally that helped me think bigger about my abilities.

Little did I know during this process, she was confiding in a good friend of hers and a group about the influence I was having on her beyond the nutritional and workout arena. Most importantly, as she stated in a email she sent me, “I helped with her obsessive dieting and with her mental struggles with food”. My favorite line she wrote was “I’ve really fallen in love with myself and have a newfound confidence. I feel I’m coming onto something great and she was now reaching out to other girls to help them with their various struggles.”

And the rest is history. She took control of her health and that served as her launching pad to greatness in other areas of her life. Cortney is a picture perfect example of why mental and emotional fitness is critical.

Another client to briefly mention was Princess Belinda as I call her. The first sentence she said to me was “you’re the last hope—if this doesn’t work, I’m going to give up on this fitness thing.No pressure.” It was so bad with her that she wouldn’t look in the mirror nor take initial measurements. By all accounts to the outside world, she’s confident, successful and rather funny. She’s a highly-accomplished songwriter and singer with a light-hearted personality I’m jealous of.

Belinda’s case was intriguing because she has a disability with her foot and has a hectic traveling schedule, so she could’ve easily used that as an excuse. However, she didn’t and in doing so provided a model for others like her to follow. No one is excluded from achieving greatness with their health. It may look different, but everyone is capable of taking control of their health.

Another pivotal moment for me was when she wrote “I was walking in front of a store window yesterday and I saw a reflection in the window and in my peripheral. I thought, ‘if I could just look like her, I would be so happy.’ After a few steps, I glanced over…and it was me. So there I stood at the mall weepy. You changed my entire perception of my abilities.”

I’ve recently started speaking and will only do more of this. I have Cortney, Belinda, and a couple of others to thank for getting me out into public more. I’m in the process of launching health and wellness consulting for small businesses and companies in addition to one-on-one coaching and writing for my blog and various publications full-time. It’s not all work though, I have fallen in love with various latin dances, in particular salsa dancing.

It’s a busy schedule, but if I demanded my clients to think bigger of themselves and their abilities, then I must practice what I preach.

My initial big vision is to help a million people integrate health and wellness into their desired lifestyle and use fitness as their launching pad to leveling up in life, business, and creating their unique impact in this world.

Fitness can keep us young, music can move our soul, books can feed our brain, and creativity can drive us every day. This is what I deem living the good life and ultimately that’s what I want people to do.

 

The Most Powerful Force in the World

For anyone that reads my blog, you know that I write about this particular topic frequently. Despite this, I feel the need to elaborate further due to the nature of the presidential election that recently shocked the world.

For once in the history of humanity’s short time on this planet, there is a mechanism more powerful than any authority, individual, or cabal of elitist conspirators. It should come as no surprise that the mechanism to which I refer is that of the internet.

Society’s ability to communicate and coordinate en masse is greater than ever before. Its changed the world in a number of ways, not limited to politics. Its expanded our social networks. Its forged relationships that otherwise would never have been possible, even resulting in lifelong partnerships between people who lived an entire world apart. Its provided a foundation for massive business enterprises, leading to the commercial globalization we are witnessing today

To further illustrate the enormity of the Internet’s impact on the world, let’s take a look at some statistics:

  • Despite being vastly outspent by a margin of three quarters of a million dollars per electoral vote, Donald Trump succeeded as the lessor funded candidate (save Carter’s victory over Ford in 1976) for the first time since 1968. 
    • For the public, this is a vitally important fact. For once in our history, the influence of money can be circumvented by the collective power of mass communication, possible only via the internet.
  • According to most studies, nearly a third of all marriages began online.
    • This is a far stretch since the days where meeting online was taboo. Remember ten years ago when people were reluctant to admit that they met online? Those days are long over, with digital introduction almost becoming the status quo.
  • The Internet has provided an unprecedented capability for multitasking.
    • The importance of this is self-explanatory, but warrants mention nonetheless. You don’t need a degree in economics to know that efficiency is drastically improved with increased mobility. The Internet has given us the ability to conduct business, social endeavors, and anything else requiring access to our peers from almost anywhere on the planet. The only stat I need mention to prove my point is this: over 40% of people use their smartphone while on the toilet. This is a humorously literal translation of the fact that there is no longer such a thing as idle time.
  • It has resulted in the death of countless languages.
    • This is something that can be good for some and not so good for others. Only 5% of the world’s 7,700 plus languages have been translated for compatibility with the internet. In an environment which constantly requires digital conformity, millions are being forced to learn the handful of languages which dominate the majority of the planet.
  • Cat videos.
    • Okay, maybe this one isn’t as vital as my other points, but it still proves a point. There has been an absolute explosion of creative output since the advent of the internet. Its enabled (for want of a better term) completely average individuals to obtain their 5 minutes of fame via the countless social networks we have at our disposal. Vine, YouTube, Facebook, etc. have produced a slew of creatives dedicated to our viewing pleasure.

These points constitute but a mere fraction of the ways in which the internet has literally changed the world as we know it. Moving forward, its going to be crucial that we as a populace maintain its openness and availability. Any brief glance at history will tell you that those who desire power will attempt to gain control or censor communicative accessibility of the masses. They fully understand the impact that an idea can have – as an idea is more influential than the biggest gun, bomb, or projectile conceivable.

The voice of the people will forever be our most powerful weapon, and it is our duty to protect it.

The Creative Process

I always enjoy talking to creative people. After all, human creativity and ingenuity is what shapes the world we live in. I find it fascinating to listen and learn the creative process that people use during their brainstorming sessions. 

It’s interesting because it’s never the same. Everyone has their own, original methods that work for them. I thought about that for awhile and decided to share some of my own processes when it comes to how I create up my ideas for writing. 

When I’m writing the Continuity storyline or continuing the work I’ve started on Currency, I generally like to stay secluded. And I mean totally secluded. If it’s daytime, I’ll hang sheets over the windows and completely block out any ambient light. But usually I get my best writing done during the late, introspective hours of the early AM. The key, for me, is to have absolutely no stimuli save the computer screen. My entire focus is on the story in front of me. This helps tremendously as it assures there are no distractions whatsoever, and I can completely envelop myself in the story, almost becoming apart of it myself.  It’s a very unique sensation.

Occasionally I’ll take my laptop out, order a beer somewhere, and just observe people. My first chapter of Continuity reflects this, as the bustling restaurant scene depicts servers running about. I’ll also write at the dog park from time to time, which inspired one of my characters (Squeak) of the second installment of Continuity, which will be released within the year. 

My goal when writing is to expose myself to various environments, because they always influence me in different ways, resulting in a diverse narrative. 

When I’m blogging, on the other hand, my process is simply to think. I always wonder what topics would be interesting for others to read about. I know I write a lot of opinionated stuff, which to most people is fodder, but I also try and be open minded about most things and encourage others to do the same. Ultimately, my goal with my blog is to gain exposure as a writer and to spread ideas that might help promote free thought and introspection. So my process there is to constantly think of topics that might be worth writing about (such as the creative process). To that end, I am always thinking about this. Even when I’m out in public, if something happens that I think would be noteworthy, I’ll write it down on my iPhone notepad. That way I have a reminder later on of something I can write about. Blog ideas are everywhere, so it’s important to always be aware of those opportunities.

Now as far as journalism (I write a column in my local paper), my process is pretty simple. I research the people I’m writing about. The column I’m referring to is called “Millenials Making a Difference”. It’s a column I started that highlights graduates of my counties high school that are making a positive impact on society. My first article, for example, was on a woman who started a website that helps people get rid of the adversities that are holding them back, such as addiction, abuse, etc. It’s a great idea and has helped a lot of people. Here is a link to her site. 

In any case, I think the creative process is far too often overlooked. I really enjoy hearing how people come up with the ideas they come up with. If you have any ideas, I would love to hear them in the comments. In the end, we can all learn from each other 🙂