Nash’s Note: I used to think it was weird to have online-only friends (someone that I met online, and I talk to regularly, but never met in the real world), but that’s completely changed over the last few years. As a creator, I’m able to reach people all around the world, and that’s the coolest thing about this guest post. Meet Jay Ray: someone that somehow found my blog and subscribed to the newsletter. He would frequently respond to those monthly emails, and then I’d reply to his feedback. Slowly, we’ve become friends that talk on a consistent basis about the process of building. All the behind-the-scenes stuff that is too nerdy to speak to the average person about.
Lately, the conversations have been about three things:
I built Janea’s site about a year ago, but Janea and I were both too busy to actually finish it at that time. Now, she’s currently in Cambodia — Her first blog post, about a Cambodian kid named Hong, shows exactly why she needed a blog. It was so powerful. — and recently reached out to me to finally launch the blog. She was ready to make it public. I decide to delegate a lot of those tasks to Jay Ray, who was excited to help complete the project.
In this guest post, you’ll notice a bunch of things happening together, collectively showing the beauty of creativity and teamwork. The success of my newsletter shows how you can build connections by shooting words out into subscriber’s inboxes. Eventually, people respond, and sometimes, bigger things happen. Like this.
He uses Blot, the same blogging engine that I use (and now Janea uses). In this post, he breaks down all the little details about what makes Blot so easy and powerful. Our project, Janea.net, shows its importance: a little blog for someone that doesn’t have time to blog. Her site, both in how it looks and how to actually add stuff to it, is as simple as you can possibly get, without losing structure and polish.
And last but not least, by working on these projects, Jay is back to writing and slowly getting out of his slump. We all have those moments where we need a spark to get going again, and I’m glad he’s found it.
I went through a bit of a slump this summer. With overwhelming amounts of stressful work, family, and personal situations all vying for my attention, I just couldn’t bring myself to write without the proper time and thoughtful consideration I expect from myself when writing for the site. I even took my site down for a time due to how full my brain felt.
When I say slump, I mean I was unable to find motivation to do much of anything. My wife assures me I did not show this feeling outward, but I scaled back a lot of the things I generally considered fun. At home, cooking became a chore, housework became anathema, and I generally didn’t want to do anything that required energy. At work, whether I was working on a coding project, working on a committee, or pursuing professional development, I was unmotivated to do more than the bare minimum.
In my overwhelmed state, I more generally felt a loss of purpose and I only recently came to grips with what I was feeling and how to combat it. As I stated in my post about responsibility, I normally feel passion and desire to help others, especially when I have a voice as a white person in the United States of 2018. Said more bluntly: what right do I have to have a slump at all?
I honestly have no idea how or when I first heard about nashp.com, but I ended up following him on Twitter, reading his Blog, and subscribing to his email newsletter. One such newsletter caught my attention in August of 2017:
That’s what this change here is. I’m writing you directly. This isn’t automated, and this isn’t for my website. I’m writing straight to you. The goal is to build relationships with the people that are interested. The cool thing is, all you have to do is reply to this message, and a conversation is started. You can simply say hello, or we can discuss a certain topic that I wrote about. Or I can help you with a project that you’re working on. Just let me know.
I love this. I wish there was enough time in the day to convert all those nascent Twitter follows and likes into something more real. I recently deleted Twitter from my phone because of just that feeling. I was watching more and participating less. I’m now trying to use my Blot-hosted blog as a space to write short but meaningful thoughts and automate my posts to social media to better prioritize real connections where I can. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for trying something different.
This started something: an OMG-has-it-already-been-a-year back and forth that has led to one of the closest online-only relationships I have ever had. Nash and I have the commonalities of a desire to share, a desire to connect, and a desire to serve. He and a few others helped me realize that I was putting too much pressure on myself, even with just the name of my site; his words: “Keep it..rebrand it to just your name..and there’s nothing eloquent..it’s just you”. I have had the site name for so long, I can’t just get rid of it, but his point struck me and stands.
I decided my slump had to end and in a big way, so I’ve started to write and share again, but I’ve also started to help others with their own stuff.
Being the son of a pastor and a lifelong teacher, I was raised in a service mentality. My sister went into social work and community organizing; I went into service-focused technology with particular passion for libraries and higher education. I married a teacher with a passion for minority and underrepresented populations. In other words, we have a desire to help in each of our focus areas and we are service-oriented.
I sometimes wondered if I went into the wrong industry. Due to the digital divide and my passion for access, the technology landscape is at direct odds at times with my sensibilities. But a passion is a passion and every area needs compassionate, empathetic people to steer toward a better future.
Similarly, I never thought of my website as a place where I could reach out to those who needed assistance or better yet where they could find the information in order to reach out to me. So my day job was helping people with technology and my site was separate; it seems silly now to think I would keep my site separated from something I am passionate about. For whatever reason, I was never sure how much detail people wanted in my niche community about what it takes to code my site and sites like it. Nash debunked that theory.
This site runs on Blot. I tell you this since it is a commonality between my site, Nash’s, and others for whom this story matters. I don’t generally consider myself a programmer, but I understand code just like any other person who spends enough time around it and similar puzzles; as an aside, at some point I will have to stop this line of thinking since a person who programs as often as I do is probably considered a programmer. One way I see myself helping others is in sussing out code problems and giving advice about design and approaches to technology. Long story short, I have helped Nash with a few things and want to help others in the same way.
Short story long, Blot uses the Mustache templating engine to render pages. The nicest thing about it is the simplicity it can provide for those who want a blog that just works, while providing the flexibility that other templating engines have without the excessive learning curves. Blot also has a number of nice touches to complete the simplicity chain, such as folder-based post tagging and automation capabilities that come by way of its use of Dropbox as a file server.
For janea.net, Nash and I set out to provide a dead simple way for the purveyor to post folders of pictures and render them as photoblogs. In addition, we looked at her site as a blank slate. With the information she provided, what could we do to make the site both usable for her ministry, but also useful for those who wanted to stay connected to her. This was the short list for the initial launch: simplistic navigation, automated email newsletters (and dead simple signup process for it), a place for her words, a place for her pictures, and a place for her donation campaigns and handmade merchandise.
For instance, Blot’s tagging system allows Janea to create a folder within her hierarchy called “[china]”. By default, Blot has the ability to use a page that points to specific tags, in this case janea.net/tagged/china. Using the templating engine, I was able to make it so that if given the proper combination of tags, the tagged “posts” (in this case the photos themselves) are listed. If not given the proper set of tags, the name of the article is listed as one would expect a tagged post to appear.
Since our preference would be that all of this would be invisible to Janea, she now is able to simply name a folder in Dropbox “China”; throw a few pictures from her trip to China into the folder; and be presented with a Photoblog of her trip, accessible to the world. Being a tech guy who cares about ease of use (after all I am an Apple guy) and service, coupled with a person like Nash who wants only the best, we say, “It can be and should be that simple for creators!”
In a truly holistic approach, Nash and I collaborated to code it, test it, format old items according to the new syntaxes, and write documentation for reference: my own, Nash’s, and Janea’s.
I’m dedicated to service in both my personal and professional life; so is Nash. We thought it best to write something up on this little endeavor to discuss our consulting work, both of which are represented by pages on our sites at “/help”: here and here. If you have a project, idea, or need, reach out and we’d be glad to help.
It’s Thursday. Slept great last night. Left early this morning to go to the coffee shop and read. Have a party to attend tonight. Tomorrow starts my vacation. A girl that I like gave me her number. I had someone pray over me this morning. I submitted my timesheet. I’m listening to Brain.fm: Atmospheric.
It’s Wednesday. Halfway point until my vacation. Yesterday, I spent a lot of time reading, went to a yoga cafe, planned my vacation with a friend, then went do Taco Tuesday with another friend. My plan today is to continue reading. I’m almost at 40% of this book already. Learning so much.
Last night I had restorative yoga, my first time. The instructor said something that stuck with me: “..attached to outcomes.” We put expectations on situations, inevitably setting ourselves up for disappointment. I’ll keep that in mind: don’t be attached to outcomes, because there’s no telling which direction these paths in life will take us. That’s my third time trying yoga, it’s been something new for me, but helpful in a lot of ways. I’ll spend the day reading this book. Added Kindle Highlights back to the website. I think I have enough quotes for now for them to shuffle through.
Making progress in this new book. Very insightful. Looking for a season of growth in many areas. I want to become a better reader. A better believer. And become more selfless. And I want my site reflect all of this even more. I’ve been creating based off of my selfishness and limited knowledge alone…I can only imagine the good I can do for this world if I learn more, believe more, and help more.
Good morning. I’ve been very intentional this morning with communication. Reaching out to people that I care about. Letting them know my heart and what I’m struggling with. These steps will only help the situation. I’m ready for growth.
Currently reading a book my pastor gave me. Taking notes. Eating a snowball. Brain.fm in the background to help me focus.
Just left church. On my way to the gym. I’ll be there for a few hours. Listening to Ross’s album to warm up to. Feeling like something big is about to happen. But I also have to stay still. Don’t act or react out of emotions. That’s what always gets me in trouble. Just be still. Let God work. A lot of new books to read. Vacation coming up. Time to be Let intentional with my time.
Articulate. Words. Fix them and put them together, all the letters are weapons, infiltrate. Rambles are scrambled. I hope they penetrate. Happy Birthday, waiting for them to open up the prison gates. Until then we just sit and wait. My mind constantly gets in the way. If I clear these clouded thoughts then I could do anything.
Kettle, tea, Turtle Beach: Stealth 600, Xbox One X, No Man’s Sky, Kindle Paperwhite. My weapons for the weekend. I didn’t get enough sleep. I’ll spend these off days catching up on that, and relaxing. Excited about all of this. Just had a great conversation with my friend. I believe big things are about to happen for us. Her music is so powerful, and I hope to help her get it out there. More than anything, I feel like we’re both about to grow. It’s a season of changes. I’m ready for it.
My goal is to keep my Kindle out, reading, throughout the whole weekend. Even if it’s just small passages every few minutes. I want to build better reading habits. I have a lot of books waiting for me to read, so now’s the time to start. Fridays have become my planning days. As I map out the weekend, and the week ahead, I’ll be focused on actionable tasks that move a lot of projects along. Barely slept last night. Was conscious most of the night, with podcasts playing in the background. It’s 4 am, fixing coffee, and playing No Man’s Sky.
Just wrote 785 words about all these things going on in my mind, in a new blog post. My longest in awhile. I feel like weight has been lifted. Something so simple, a post, and gathering thoughts, bringing clarity, makes a world of difference. Just finished running the bridge nearby. Exhausted. Now time to shower and relax.
The potential is there. I see what I need to do. I see what’s holding me back. I’m clinging on to deadweight. That deadweight doesn’t define me, but its attachment to my identity causes me to forget that. We lose ourselves in all of these things. Forgetting what makes us, us. I feel myself rising again. I feel my purpose and energy resurfacing. These things won’t keep me down. I have too much to live for. This is bigger than me. I’m ready for it.
Brain.fm is a life changer for me. Currently listening to Relax/Destress. This app is worth every penny. It’s already Thursday. A week away from vacation.
Home from work. Big night ahead of me. Doubt I’ll get much sleep tonight. Hot tea. A good lunch. Yoga tonight. Spent my lunch hour in No Man’s Sky. The rain was so relaxing, I didn’t want to leave. Just shared something vary transparent and vulnerable. Bringing it to the light is important to me. It’s my way of working through it. Paperwork everywhere. Busy day at work. Scheduling appointments. Staying busy. The update to No Man’s Sky is here. This will keep me busy for the week. A lot of moving parts right now. I hope to go sit at the cafe and journal and clear my mind. I need to process everything that’s happening.
Good morning. The canvas is now live. Look above. “Share your thoughts here.” That’s a box for you to always write to me, and if you have a blog post or something you want to live on my site, that’s your space to create. This is something me and Jay have been working on for almost a year now, brainstorming on. To make the site a place for everyone to share something. It’s a contact form/idea box/or whatever else you want it to be. Let’s go.
Basketball. Studio sessions. Big meeting in the morning. Lots of things happening.
Just had an hour long conversation with someone who plays the flute. She’s REALLY good. Hoping to get her on the new album.
Hoping this area will become a scratchpad, a journal, and what I’m up to now. It’ll be the one place to scribble thoughts down and figure things out as I go through my day.
Let me tell you a story. This is a story about where I see myself a year from now. These are my short-term goals and dreams. I’ll be living in a shipping container, almost directly in between the two places I’ll be at every day (three places if you count the container). The land that this container will be on is my childhood property where I grew up on a trailer. That’s where I’ll live. In one direction, 15 minutes away is the basketball gym (Wellness Center) that I’ll spend my afternoons at. The other direction has my office where I work during the day. I’ll travel to each one of these by bike, a Honda Grom to be specific. Church would count as the fourth place I’ll travel to, which is very close to where the container will be. This will be my life a year from now. I’m currently taking every step I need to make this a reality.
A lot has changed in the last few weeks. Changes aren’t always easy, they test you and shake up your foundation. Consider them setbacks. Your stability starts to change a bit, and you have to rethink what’s concrete and what’s meant to not be there anymore. Yesterday, I had a lot of conversations with people about certain things that I’m dealing with. I was able to receive so much help and comfort. I received books to read, advice on what to do next. The amount of people that had my back was refreshing.
Been spending the last few days recording and building out ideas for a new album. Working on understanding the concept of where I want to take this next one. I want it to have a bigger sound than usual.
Coffee, honey bun, office work. It’s gonna be a good week.
At the park. Getting a workout. Filling the activity rings on the Watch. Sweat every day. Lost 10 pounds in a week by doing this. Trying to stay sharp with my mind and my body. It’s keeping me focused on the big picture.
Currently in a studio session. It’s getting good.
Today, I took leaps of faith and spoke out on things that were holding me back. Bringing it to light changes things. Words have power. Community has power. So much power today. Thank you.
Church service. Coffee serving. Done in the cafe. Time to pray. Processing thoughts. Communicating. Process of elimination. Removing the toxins.
An hour long conversation with a friend just changed my entire weekend. It’s amazing how that works. Find people that can speak life into you. I needed that. I needed that reminder. I’m excited about the rest of this weekend and where this friendship will lead us. So thankful.
It’s a changing of the seasons. I’m looking around me and creating new outlets for my energy. Running daily. Yoga yesterday. New cafes to write. An Xbox One X to play games again. Recording a new album with auto-tune this weekend. Things just feel fresh around me. Heartbreak combined with seasons changing. I’ll be getting my street bike soon. Life is just transforming constantly. I’m ready for it. Listening to Bon Iver album. Been waiting awhile for this one. It’s been a roller coaster week. So many ups and downs. At least it’s Friday. Lots to do this weekend.
I’ll be doing yoga tonight. This should be interesting. Keep switching things up and trying new things in life. Hope it goes well.
One of my biggest challenges this month is to consistently run every day. We’re on day 8 and I haven’t missed a day yet. This streak is really exciting.
There’s a couple books I’m currently reading. One is how to be more selfless. I create so many things, but a lot of the times, they’re created by me, for me. I want to change that, and use my talents to help others more. And in my personal life, I want to be there for others more. I have work to do.
I ran home for lunch. 15 minutes there. 15 minutes back. It’s my little life hack to fill my activity rings on the Apple Watch. That way when I leave work for the day, I’m done. Plus it changes things up and breaks my day into another layer. I get back from lunch feeling exhausted from the run, but refreshed with energy to finish the day off strong.
Good morning. Thursday already. Currently watching No Man’s Sky trailer and drinking coffee. Planning day out, and organizing all of my notes from yesterday. One more day until the weekend. Much needed. New music is on the way. New podcast. More Xbox gaming. A have a lot of catching up to do.
I have plans soon, to expand the shop section of my site. It’s been in the works for awhile now, but is finally about to happen. Real, leather, physical products. A family business. Stay tuned for that, and so much more. So many plans are finally falling into place. It’s exiting to see.
A journal of thoughts. These are the words from my heart. Working the cursor, it blinks back, inertia through dark. Immersive with wordplay, as I’m hurting, converting urgency into what I purposely want. How’s that working? Off and on. I prefer when it’s off. Uphill climbing. The incline, it hurts when I walk. I’ll figure it out.
Today was full of layers. It’s complicated. Things happened that I’ve been waiting for for a long time. I’m excited about what it’ll do for my future. I’m excited about what was seen. All I want is an opportunity to succeed, and today helps with that. I have a chance to truly make an impact now. One day at a time. Stay focused. Be myself. Stay hungry. Do the best that I can do. I have a book I need to read. It’s important for my future. I have a new album I need to make. I don’t have a single word for it yet. But I have the perspective for it. I know which direction I want to take. And that’s all I need. Give me the direction, the rest happens instantly.
Big day. Hoping for many changes to happen after this morning’s meeting. A lot of traveling coming up. Good morning. One thing ends, another one begins. Life is in cycles. Feeling much better. I’ve been productive all day, and my mood is back positive. I think it all changed when I decided to run home for lunch instead of drive. Tomorrow will be a big day. But tonight, No Man’s Sky.
These last two days have been a test for me. With patience and my anxiety. I failed that test. But today is a new day. Monday blues. A lot on my mind today. A lot to process. A lot of planning. Big week for work and creative projects. Last night, there was a lot of changes made that’ll set me up for the future. Excited and nervous about those changes. My heart is big. And sometimes that gets me in trouble. Because I overcommit and care about things way more than I should. That’s the gift and curse of being an artist. I’m pressing into those emotions and expecting big things out of it.
Church. Gym. Basketball.
Got an Xbox One X last night. Let it download games overnight. Now I’ll spend the day playing. I’ll still have to go run sometime today, to continue my streak of August: fill all three rings on Apple Watch.
Good morning. Building journal into the site so it’s always updated here. Plan on doing a quick journal every morning. Running on fumes from lack of sleep last night. Too much coffee and watching Big Little Lies. TGIF. Listening to Freddie Gibbs - Bandana. Almost time for lunch. Productive weekend ahead. Keep evolving. Spent the last two months trying to not create and just relax. This month though, I’ll be focused on building as much as possible. Explore. Observe. Obsess. Create.
It’s August already. I have a lot planned for this month. I have a feeling this could be a big month for me if I put all my skills and habits into practice.