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Finding My Best Self

I woke up this morning, at my usual time (4am), and I’ve been productive ever since. I was practicing time-lapses, and documenting my typical morning routine. As I was preparing for the day, I was also listening to a podcast that featured Mango Street, and it inspired me to ask the question, What is my best self?

Even though I’ve tackled hundreds of creative projects in my life, and even though I have dozen of upcoming projects that have yet to be released, I still don’t think I’ve reached the best version of myself yet. How do I reach a new level of what I would consider, my best self ? Not only creatively, but personally, financially, and spiritually as well. What does getting to that next level look like? What small things should I focus on to bring me closer to my best self? As I write this, Brain.fm is playing in the background, with a mental state of Focus for 30 minutes. I allowed myself that amount of time to think through what all of this means in the moment.

I’m currently reading Elevate: An Essential Guide to Life, by Joseph Deitch. I’ve also started reading Habit Stacking by S.J. Scott. Both books will continue pointing me in this direction that I’m referring to. But it won’t just be reading material, podcasts, and YouTube channels that bring to that next level. We can do all the research we want, but if we never practice the things we learn then it’ll all be for nothing.

I’ve also been learning about the 12 Week Year, which would allow me to group projects and goals into smaller timeframes, and theoretically, I’ll get to my best self sooner. So instead of saying I’ll finish a book in 2018, I would instead finish a book in 12 weeks. Nothing changed, but yet everything changed, because our best work usually happens when we’re constrained with limitations. Whether the limitations are real or artificial doesn’t matter. What does matter is taking those limitations and building something, and then in the next 12 weeks, build something again.



Scorpion: My Thoughts and My Version

Drake is back with his new album, Scorpion: a double disc album, with a total of 25 songs. The length and structure of this album allows him to complete his contract obligations with Cash Money.

As a whole, Drake delivered his most complete and mature album with Scorpion. It’s hard to find flaws here, other than the length being too long, and it being split into a rap album and an R&B album. I don’t think the goal should be to separate the two personalities. Instead, blend those two personalities throughout the album, so the listener never knows the difference. Don’t make it black and white, live in the gray area.


Nash Edition

One of my favorite things about making my own music is that last 10% of work: deciding the order of the songs, cutting the ones that don’t fit the flow of the project, and tightening up the package so the sound is cohesive from start to finish. That’s what I did here. Drake gave us enough material here to be our own DJ with the songs.

Apple Music: Playlist Link

  1. Survival
  2. Elevate
  3. Nonstop
  4. Summer Games
  5. 8 Out Of 10
  6. Emotionless
  7. In My Feelings
  8. Final Fantasy
  9. March 14
  10. God’s Plan
  11. Sandra’s Rose
  12. Nice For What
  13. Talk Up (ft. Jay-Z)
  14. That’s How You Feel
  15. Can’t Take A Joke
  16. Don’t Matter To Me (ft. MJ)
  17. Jaded
  18. Finesse
  19. Is There More


Ye: My Thoughts On The Album

Seven songs. 23 minutes.

Listening Party

The Fader:

Tonight, Kanye West premiered his eighth studio album ye for a small audience in Jackson Hole, Wyoming (and a global audience on a WAV livestream). The album features Ty Dolla $ign, Kid Cudi, Jeremih, Young Thug, 070 Shake, Charlie Wilson and a voicemail from Nicki Minaj.

I watched horses and a campfire for two hours before the livestream listening party started. Chris Rock spoke for five minutes, and then introduced Kanye, who didn’t speak. The album just started playing.


Lindsay Zoladz:

As the story goes, Kanye West created the cover of his new album ye—an iPhone snap of a Wyoming horizon with the message I hate being Bi-Polar its awesome” Snapchat-caption-scrawled overtop—on the way to the listening session where it debuted, hours before it was made available to the public. West had previously suggested that the album’s cover would feature a photograph of his mother’s plastic surgeon, but the chosen image is more fitting: ye is an album of dualities, splits, and intentional contradictions, and it also has a slapdash, unfinished quality about it, like a ten-page paper written in a shaky hand on the bumpy morning bus ride to school.

Review

I appreciate this album for how much quality lives inside such a short amount of time1. The production has so much soul, and the lyrics on the album prove that, no matter how bizarre his personal life is, he’s extremely gifted at turning craziness into brilliance. Kanye never claims to be lyrical, and he doesn’t need to be—but what he is good at is communicating thoughts, whether they’re braggadocios, introspective, or shining light on social topics. On ye, he said just as much, if not more, than he usually does on a full-length album, but in just 23 minutes.

The album is full of features, but it’s blended so well, they’re more like instruments being used. There’s a long list of features, but my favorite is by far 070 Shake, an artist signed to Kanye’s label. She stole the show on the last two songs, where they feel like her songs that Kanye just used on his album. She sings, Nothing hurts anymore, I feel kind of free. We’re still the kids we used to be.” Those words feel incredible to hear.


Thoughts On Each Song

Click the footnote button for details:

  1. I Thought About Killing You 2
  2. Yikes 3
  3. All Mine 4
  4. Wouldn’t Leave 5
  5. No Mistakes 6
  6. Ghost Town 7
  7. Violent Crimes 8

Conclusion

As of now, I’ve listened to this album about 50 times. It captures a moment in time for me. That’s when Kanye is at his best. I appreciate how none of his albums are the same—even if he doesn’t execute his vision as well as he wants to each time, he never settles for a formula from the past. He continues to innovate and refresh his approach.

I got the mind state to take us past the stratosphere. I use the same attitude that done got us here.” When I hear that line, I hear him saying to the world, though I’m not always perfect, I’m trying my best. It’s worked this far.


  1. It looks like Kanye has a plan, where all his artist and himself release albums with only 7 songs. Some say that’s too short. I disagree. For the last 5 or so years, my albums have been around 7 songs. A short album has a certain type of impact. It fits with the pace of our current society. Attention spans have shortened, and longer albums don’t fit the current landscape. The average person doesn’t even listen to whole albums anymore. So how does an artist become more efficient? By putting the same amount of energy as before in smaller packages. I think of it less like a full-length movie, and more like a 30 minute Atlanta episode. You have a perspective to show the world, you get in and you get out. No filler tracks. Just cohesiveness. To all the artist that have long albums with tracks that shouldn’t have left the vault or could fit on a different project, copy this style. Less is more.

  2. Perfect way to start this album. The story here is about someone self-imploding, but still remaining confident. Hurt so bad I go numbbbb. […] They’ll say he died so youngggg.”

  3. The hook reminds me of 808’s. Feels like the first single. I can feel the spirits all around me. I think Prince and Mike was trying to warn me. They know I got demons all around me. Devil been trying to make an army. They’ve been strategizing to harm me.”

  4. Also feels like a single. The hook, though I’m not a fan of it, sounds like a hit. And then when the beat switches in the second verse, it brings in a whole different element. As far as lyrics go, this is the weakest song on the album, but I still enjoy this song every time it comes on.

  5. Keep that same energy.” My favorite song on the album. Verse two might be his best verse ever, because it articulates his mind so well: the struggles he deals with as someone who uses his impulsive thoughts to create genius moments, but how it also backfires on him.

  6. Reminds me of Good Life, from his Graduation album. The production is so well done on this track, combining many samples that wouldn’t normally fit together, but end up complimenting each other. This verse is my second favorite on the album.

  7. I’ll always remember this song for how big the celebration was when this song was playing at the listening party. They should turn that into the music video for this song. This feels like a summer single. 070 Shake killed this one.

  8. Don’t you grow up in a hurry.” Reminds me of Daughters by Nas. Don’t like the choppiness of his verse’s punch-ins, but still a great song. Once again, 070 Shake made this song beautiful. They gotta repaint the colors. The lie is wearing off. Reality is upon us.”



32

Reflecting on my birthday:


  1. Life is filled with scare-tactics, and if we’re not careful, something minor can seem severe, and something that’s insignificant can become a barrier in the way of the things we really want. This is an area of my life that continues to improve each year.



I deleted all of my information from Facebook

All that’s left is my cover photo and my profile picture (didn’t want to completely delete the account yet, since it’s such a big form of communication with those around me). I spent the entire weekend deleting everything else. After backing up all of this information (didn’t want to regret not saving something first), it was time to start deleting. I had to turn on my old Mac mini, download the Chrome browser, download Social Book Post Manager, a Chrome extension that let’s me meticulously go through every detail and decide what to do with it.

Everything from each post that I shared, to every post that I’ve ever liked, to every Spotify song that I listened to, and anything else that appeared in my activity log. I was actually shocked by how much information it actually had on me. It’s not like I didn’t already know, but seeing it in front of me was painful.

It doesn’t just disappear when you choose what to delete. It blinks past you, hundreds of items, as it’s deleting them—a less intense version of life flashing before your eyes. Kids growing up, grandmas pictures, ex girlfriend’s, it was all there, flickering through the deletion process.

It was all bittersweet: sad to see it go, but exciting to remove my information from the platform. I kept reminding myself that Facebook isn’t those memories. I still have the memories. Facebook was only holding them hostage.



An April Newsletter

🙋🏻‍♂️

If you want to occasionally get an email from me, subscribe here.

Hello, friend.

Intro

This email is a new structure for me that fits my style of writing a lot more (Ulysses sheets, separated on my end, and then connected on your end when they arrive in your inbox). I’m hoping these little details are welcomed. Let me know what you think, and as always, reply to this email to say hello.

Do

Collect. Process. Plan. Do.

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” — Albert Einstein

Write down everything on your mind, decide what to do with each item, plan out your week with what’s most important each day, then start doing them. Repeat.

A friend of mine told me she wants to do more and not settle’, so I wrote something to help her.

Work

I started a new job recently, I discussed it, and the end of retail here. I attended the Louisiana Labor Summit last month, and took a bunch of pictures while I was there. I’ll also be traveling to Indianapolis in May, and Galveston in June, so expect more photoblogs for those.

Hiking

I went hiking last weekend, and I took some pictures of our trip. I have three more trips planned in the next few weeks, so expect pictures from those too.

Watch

I made a page for all of my favorite things to watch, broken down by each year. I kept the page as simple as possible: I didn’t explain where the show is playing, or a link to get to it—just a simple list of my favorites. Highly recommend these.

Social

I’ve slowly been removing social networks from my life, so if you’re subscribed to my mailing list, congrats! You’ve just received a one-time complimentary upgrade. This (the email and my blog) is simple compared to the alternatives. It’s the most personal and direct way for me to reach out to you, and I’m constantly thinking about how to include you in the process.

I blog daily, but not everything needs to be brought to your attention (unless you directly visit nashp.com).

Social networks feel like a dumpster fire now (or a burning house), and we’re all on the outside looking in, roasting marshmallows that’s attached to coat hangers, wondering where our friends will end up next.

If you’re fed up with whatever social book you’re on, maybe you should have a little blog too. Let me know by picking a date on my schedule, and I’ll help you set up one in no time. We all deserve our own little space on the internet, nothing too big or loud, but it’s ours.

Rockets

As most of you know, I’ve followed Chris Paul since the beginning of his career—with New Orleans, with the Clippers, and now with the Rockets. This has been by far the best team he’s been on, thanks to James Harden and the innovative system that coach Mike D’Antoni has implemented.

Before the season started, I shared my thoughts about them as a team, and just recently, I concluded my thoughts for the season. They’re now the favorites to make it to the finals, even though many predict them to still lose to the Warriors. Basically, this could finally be the year for Chris Paul to win a championship.

Outro

You only really learn when you’re surprised. Unless you’re surprised, everything is fitting into your existing thought patterns. So to get smarter, you need to get surprised, think in new ways, and deeply understand different perspectives.” — Derek Sivers

👋

Have a great weekend.



J.Cole - KOD (Review)

Kids on DrugsKids on Drugs

J.Cole just released his new album, titled KOD (Apple Music). What I like most about his last few projects is how tight they feel. They’re focused, and they don’t waste the listener’s time. It’s what I loved about Forest Hills Drive, and this one is no different.

Three things:

Concept

It’s rumored that he made this project in only two weeks, and it shows: he had an idea for a great concept, and he ran with it. That concept: attack the mentality of addictions and escapism.

KOD meanings:

This concept hits home for me: through family addictions, through phone addiction, and through overcoming lifestyles that are normal to everyone else, but knowing that there’s better options out there.

It’s 12 songs, but—with intro, outro (which is actually the intro to his next album), and interludes—it’s much shorter than 12.

Execution

There’s so many things going on throughout these songs that he had to create an alter ego (kiLL edward: deeper pitch, slightly offbeat, and overall rougher around the edges) to help with some of the layers. That alter ego acts as the addict, as well as his own version of the new trendy rappers.

The two main things I instantly noticed was his confidence and his flow: both seem to be as comfortable and polished as ever. I was very impressed with this. It feels like he’s hitting his stride, and if this album was created in two weeks, it shows his growth as an artist, and how he’s developing an effortless skill.

The hooks are raw, both in good and bad ways. He handles all of the singing (him and his alter ego), which you’ll either love or hate. I tend to enjoy them. I’m glad he didn’t hand this job over to a professional, and instead, he kept the sound cohesive and continued with the concept of imperfection.

The verses are some of the best of his career, mostly because of that confidence I mentioned above. The rhyme patterns are rapid at times, and he’s riding the beat like he never has before, and it never seems forced. As far as pure rapping goes, this album has raised him in the ranks for me. He’s always been a good storyteller, but on KOD, he displays why he should be considered elite with rhyming.

Overall

This album is easy to listen to. The sequencing is flawless. There’s catchy moments, and there’s wisdom, intertwined together, with narration, and with an overall theme that covers the entire project. These are the type of albums that I continue to search for. And even though quality albums like these are now becoming rarer by the year, J.Cole is showing that he can disappear (without the social media, and without the noise that comes with a typical rapper), and then he’ll arrive, on his own time, at his own speed, with no singles, no promotion, and offer you a gift in the form of a potential classic.


ATM (Music Video)

This music video was released 12 hours after the album was released.


  1. It was released on 4/20, to help with the concept.



Revisiting J.Cole’s Born Sinner

Tonight is the launch of KOD, J.Cole’s new album, so I’m revisiting his discography to prepare for the new release.

I really like For Your Eyez Only, I reviewed it here. Forest Hills Drive is his best album (as much praise as it gets, it’s still underrated), and Born Sinner is my least favorite.

I’ve been thinking about why it’s my least favorite from him. I realized that it’s not a bad album, but it has too many filler songs. There’s 16 songs all together (21 on the deluxe), and if it was cut in half on both versions, it would be a more impressive album: I don’t start enjoying the album until the 6th song, and from there, it gets really good. 1

Here’s the songs I would keep:

These eight would remove any fluff that prevents this album from being great.


  1. The first five songs have lyrics that make me cringe, two interludes, a pop-single, and a song that uses a classic Outkast song, but doesn’t do it justice.



My Cracked Apple Pencil

My Apple Pencil cracked in my bag awhile back, and something cool happened since then:



Doing More and Not Settling

Friend:

I just wanna live a life I love. I don’t like limits. I love my life. I’m grateful for it every day. I just want to do more and not settle.

The desire for more is something we all think of. We look at our life, and we think, There has to be more.”

And there is.

Now, through perspective, through white space, and through being intentional, the world is yours, with no limits. Whatever you want to do, do it.



A simple recipe to auto-blog any YouTube video I like

Four things are working at once:



My Morning Routine

This is how my mornings look:

One friend asked me how I’m able to wake up so early every morning, because she attempts to do the same thing, but usually just goes right back to sleep. Another friend told me that he couldn’t do a daily routine, because every day looks different to him.

The reason I do a mourning routine, and the reason I’m able to do it so consistently, is because no matter what the rest of the day throws at me, I can control the beginning of it. If I had nothing that motivated me to climb out of bed, then it would be easy to roll over and go back to sleep. The key is to have something that’s more important than sleeping.

If I wake up early enough, I can do everything that I used to wish I had time for. Each one of these six things come from the desire to do more each day.

And what I love most about this routine is, it’s usually about 7 am when I’m finish up, and even though I’ve accomplished six things already, my day is still just getting started.



Introducing Headband: a basketball blog

Introducing Headband:

I spend a ridiculous amount of time playing, watching, reading, and writing about basketball, so I created a little home on the internet for the sport.

I won’t do it by myself, though. I’m gathering a team (Get in touch). The process will look similar to the origin story of any superhero team-up movie. A combination of Tony Starks and Tony Parker.

Everything from NBA to local to college to NBA 2K highlights. Maybe you’ll see plays drawn up on a clipboard, or maybe you’ll see tutorials on how to do a euro-step. There will be personal stories, as well as stories about the legends that paved the way for the wanna-be-legends at the YMCA.

Let’s get started.



What’s In My Bag

Last updated: March 3rd, 2018

Bags

Tech

Miscellaneous



Minimal Productivity

  1. Collect
  2. Process
  3. Plan
  4. Do

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” — Albert Einstein

Write down everything on your mind, decide what to do with each item, plan out your week with what’s most important each day, then start doing them. Repeat.



The End of Retail

I’ve been in the retail business for 15 years now, but starting this Monday, that’ll no longer be the case. I recently accepted a job offer that’s completely opposite: in retail, your goal is to take money from the person in front of you. Without going into detail, my new job is designed to give money.

I’m often reminded of Neil Gaiman’s 2012 Commencement Speech:

Something that worked for me was imagining that where I wanted to be — an author, primarily of fiction, making good books, making good comics and supporting myself through my words — was a mountain. A distant mountain. My goal.

And I knew that as long as I kept walking towards the mountain I would be all right. And when I truly was not sure what to do, I could stop, and think about whether it was taking me towards or away from the mountain. I said no to editorial jobs on magazines, proper jobs that would have paid proper money because I knew that, attractive though they were, for me they would have been walking away from the mountain. And if those job offers had come along earlier I might have taken them, because they still would have been closer to the mountain than I was at the time.

With retail, I’ve been moving in the opposite direction for years now. A decade ago, it was all I had known, but I’m not that person anymore: I don’t shop, I’m always donating, and I’m constantly throwing away things I no longer need. And as an employee, I didn’t like the noise, the schedules, or the motives from the people above me—it was a race I no longer had the desire to run.

But before I could leave a position that I was really good at, I needed to make sure that my next move wasn’t a lateral transition. I needed my next move to bring me closer to my mountain.



The Outdoors

Most of my life has been spent around distractions: the city, the lights, the screens, the retail stores. My dad and my brother had it right all these years. They were always fishing and hunting, and I was always doing everything but that. If I could go back to each time they asked me to join them, I’d do things differently. What I’m learning is how much nature helps with anxiety and thinking. Fresh air, trails, water, and space to breathe, are some of the purest gifts of life, but I’ve always overlooked them.

Until now.



Healthy Living

For the first few weeks of 2018, I’ve been consistently eating healthy (salads and smoothies) and filling my Apple Watch rings (burning tons of calories with running and basketball). I’m noticing how much of an impact it has on my mind: I’m much sharper, I’m more content, and way more productive when I feel healthy.

As much as I love pasta and pizza (and everything else out there that’s delicious, but bad for me), I hate the way I feel (and look) after eating it. I used to be able to eat anything and it would have no effect on me, but that’s not the case anymore. I’ve learned to be mindful of what goes into my body, as well as the amount of exercising I should do each day.

This is just the beginning. This isn’t a season or a phase. This is a lifestyle change. It’s a process of discipline and education, as I continue to find ways to improve my health.

I hope you’ll join me.



3 Years At Cross Church, 20 Months With No Alcohol

It’s been three years since I started attending Cross Church. It’s also been 20 months since I’ve tasted alcohol, but the Cross Church milestone is much bigger.

It’s weird to think about life before Cross Church: before having such a strong foundation of friends and mentors, before small groups, and before having weekly services with Pastor Brandon pouring into my life. These things are as important as oxygen to me now.

Letting go of alcohol wasn’t something I had to do, but it felt like a good representation of where I’m currently at in my life. I like this version of myself that doesn’t drink, and as a small group leader, I now hold myself to a higher standard. There’s people that come to my groups that might be struggling with alcohol, and I hope to help them.

The best part about my three years at Cross Church, though, is what it’s done to the people around me. By me simply going to church every weekend, my siblings now go to church every weekend. Not because I announced that I was going, and not because I asked them to join me—I just went, and slowly, they went too.

My brother and his whole family attend every weekend now, and my little brother sleeps at my house on Saturday nights, because he wants to go to Cross Kids the next morning. He packs his Lightning McQueen bag with sleeping clothes, church clothes, and a fidget spinner.

If you’re reading this, and we met through Cross Church, thank you. Your presence in my life, and in my family’s life, isn’t taken for granted.



Bad Seasons

This last week has been a blur. I was in bed sick 99% of the time. The weeks before that were a blur because of holiday retail, and the busyness that comes with the position. The weeks before that was a month-long break from blogging and Facebook, which left me agitated the entire time.

It’s all a build-up. One moment to the next. Momentum, but in the opposite direction.

Bad seasons don’t notify and prepare you when they’re on the way, which makes them hard to withstand. It starts as just a bad moment, and then a bad day, bad week—and before we realize that the funk has been around a little longer than expected, it’s too late: we’re waiting on that season to pass.

With that being said: that season is over. Today is a beautiful day. The cough is gone. The writing is back. Leon Bridges is playing through the apartment. And I just made a strawberry smoothie.

🍓



Revisiting Jay Z’s Kingdom Come, and still, it’s not a good album.

(These paragraphs were originally written as text messages in a conversation about the album.)

The Prelude is one of my favorite intros from Jay Z. I wish the whole album was like this. There’s only a few songs that match this quality, but the rest are some of Jay’s worst songs of his career. His delivery was off on this album.

Oh My God is not a good song to me. The Kingdom Come song had potential to be a great song. The writing of it shows what he wanted it to be, but the execution is subpar. Show Me What You Got: Verses are too good for the hook to be that corny. Lost One is a classic song. That song was made during Black album recordings, and it shows

The mixing on the album has his vocals low with the dub matching the same volume. Puts him in the background of most beats, and makes him appear less confident. Do U Wanna Ride is a good example of that. I think this is because of Dre’s mixing on this album. This song could’ve been a classic Jay song. Instead, I just remember what it’s about. Concept versus execution.

30 Something is a corny song. I Made It is always skippable to me. Anything featuring Usher is so corny. There’s nothing effortless about this song. Seems so forced. Hollywood is way too pop, and I like the concept of the song. Trouble and Dig a Hole are diss songs, but they’re bad diss songs. I agree with everything he’s saying on them, but as songs, they weren’t impressive. I love Minority Report. Wish it was twice as long. It deserved to be. Beach Chair is perfect.



Things: A Task Manager

There’s only one thing I love more than being productive, and that’s studying productivity. It started with reading the Getting Things Done book, and then it followed by trying every task manager app I could find. I enjoy making lists, a little too much, and I love organizing tasks and projects, giving me a zoomed in view of the current important tasks, as well as a birds eye view of everything I have going on.

OmniFocus is my absolute favorite task manager app, but in this current season, I’m using Things 3. Cultured Code, the developers behind Things, has built the most beautiful and delightful task manager I’ve ever seen. Whether my day is full of tasks, or the day is empty, either way, it’s a pleasure each time I open up the app.

Also, Chris Bowler at The Sweet Setup has reviewed Things. If you’re interested in learning more about the app, give it a read.



Make Lists, Improve Your Day

I make list. It’s something I don’t talk about much, but should, because of how critical it is in my life. Here’s what it looks like for me to brainstorm and process my thoughts.

What am I doing now:

That’s what a list usually looks like for me. It helps me think. After making a list, my mind is free, because I’ve structured all of my thoughts, or at least some of them, which then allows me to make another list.

Tonight’s plans:

A list structures the noise with hardly any effort. It helps me think about what’s next. Whatever’s on your mind should easily fit inside of a list, or a variety of lists. This will uncover new ideas, solutions to problems, or peace for regaining clarity.

Today is the last day of my vacation. Tomorrow work begins again.

My work schedule this week:

I was off from work for 10 days. It doesn’t feel like it, because my schedule was so busy, without me even doing anything that was considered an actual vacation.

My simple vacation:

Yesterday, after discussing the remaining weeks of our small groups, we decided to make the rest of the public, mainly because most are things we’d have to plan ahead for anyway.

No Tellin’ Schedule:

Those are the last four weeks of a 12-week semester of small groups. It flew by. It always does. So far, I’ve to lead five different small groups.

My Small Group List:

Each one of these has taught me something new about leading, and I’m excited to lead much more.

I hope this list-making-exercise helps your day.



100 Jacket Mission

How lucky we are to open up our closets, try on several jackets (hardly liking any of them) and still walk away not 100% satisfied with what we’re wearing. We take for granted the choices we have in our wardrobe: do I want to be warm, do I want to be warm, or do I want to be warm? When you remove the luxury of style, that’s the only thing left. That jacket—the one that we’ve tried on dozens of times, but have yet to find the perfect outfit to wear it with—could be the one thing keeping someone from being cold this winter. How it looks on them is irrelevant, they just want to be warm.

This is the 5th Annual 100 Jacket Mission. Get in touch if you’d like to donate.



White Space: A Month of Silence

I’ve been gone for a month now (from my blog, and from Facebook), and it feels good to be back. It started with a podcast:

In this episode, I talk with writer, designer and technologist Craig Mod — who’s done numerous experiments in reclaiming his attention — about how we can break out of this toxic cycle of smartphone and social media addiction and regain control of our powers of concentration.

Before listening to that episode, I told myself, this sounds good, but I don’t need it. I was content with the volume that I was surrounded with, or at least I thought. I was numb to the loudness. And then I pressed play on that particular podcast. 20 minutes later, I was already planning my upcoming month. It was time for a break. It felt right to get rid of a few things for awhile. Here comes the blackout.

The first few days, without the instant gratification, I felt down, and I felt alone. It took me over 48 hours to adjust to the silence, but once I did, I had a different kind of peace. After a few days, things were different for me. I enjoyed this change of pace. Everything slowed down for a bit. I would hear friends talking about a problem that was popular on Facebook that day, and I was amused by how small it actually was compared to the big picture. It’s all noise, I thought to myself. That noise doesn’t bother everyone, but it bothers me, and I have to continue to be intentional about separating myself from it.

Finding ways to add white space to my days is one the most important things I should I focus on going forward. I don’t want to bounce around from one distraction to the next. I don’t want to contribute to the noise. I want to silence the noise, while still taking advantage of its value. Finding the right volume for the internet appears to be a daily practice that I’ll continue to live with. There needs to be a balance. This was the second year I took November off, and both times felt really weird. There was so many things I wanted to say, but couldn’t. And now I can. But it doesn’t mean I need to say everything1. Only what’s important.

I anticipated the return to my website, as if it’s a physical shop that I own, as if it’s a grand return. After all, this place is important to me. I never take it for granted, but during those moments when I step away for awhile, I return appreciating the outlet more than ever. It’s what keeps me stable. It gives me a voice that I would otherwise not have. It allows me to express myself with freedom. I look forward to what’s next, while still understanding that what I have is enough.


  1. I read books while I was away. I imagined what the next year would be like for me and my writing. I rested. I watched a lot of Netflix. I took my brother to the library. I took my sister shopping. I spent time with my uncles that I haven’t seen in years. I spent Thanksgiving with everyone that I love. I went for walks. I watched the Rockets win a bunch of games. I hurt my back, and spent a lot of time healing it. I ate a lot of food. I didn’t exercise. I slept later than usual. And then, the last week of the month arrived, and I started waking up early again, and writing, and playing basketball, and donating anything that I didn’t need, to help a friend, and to get back to minimalism.



The Best Man’s Speech

Here’s the speech I gave at my cousin’s wedding:

Shaun,

I want to thank you. I always want to thank you. Growing up, you taught me everything: how to be a better brother to your sisters, a better son to your mom, a better basketball player, and as my manager, you taught me how to be a better employee. I’ve looked up to you for what feels like my entire life. I wanted to be like you, which helped me become a better person in every way. So it’s only fitting that you’re getting married before me, to show me how to be a husband.

You taught me how to expect more from myself, and how to not give up. Those are two things needed in a marriage for it to thrive. Continue being the best version of yourself. Your family deserves it. And when the bad days arrive, as they always do, you’ll know what to do next: you won’t give up.

It’s an honor to be your best man.



Apple Watch: Fill Your Rings (and build good habits)

It’s 12:32am. I’m in New Orleans for the night, and I just filled the activity rings on my Apple Watch (red: burn at least 800 calories, green: exercise for at least 30 minutes, blue: standing up and moving around for at least 1 minute during 12 different hours in the day). I had until midnight to reach 800 calories. I ended up burning over 200 in that last hour. Before then, I was stressing, thinking I would break my ongoing streak. There I was, in a neighborhood I’m not used to, but had nothing but the rings on my mind. I knew it would only take a burst of energy to complete another day of exercise, so I left the party I was with, and went for a run to accomplish this. It’s weird and rewarding at the same time. At about 11:56pm, I received the notification: Congratulations! You filled all of your rings, 19 days in a row.

It feels good to know how important my health is to me now, and I feel like this is just the beginning. I want to build good habits, and keep pushing myself to reach new goals. On that note, I realized tonight that I currently have four streaks going:



What I Have Is Enough

I recently bought flowers for my apartment. I never thought I’d say that. Three little succulent plants, sitting on my window seal. It was only a few months ago when I moved into this small apartment, and since arriving, I’ve been very intentional about making this place minimal with character. The size, layout, style, and even location, represent me more than any place I’ve ever lived.

I’ve been enjoying my new morning routine: wake up at 5, turn on Hillsong Radio (Pandora), get dressed, and then go for a run through the city. I then get home, shower, and walk to the local cafe to eat breakfast and drink coffee with a friend. Afterwards, I walk home in silence, enjoying the ambience of the morning. This is my time to be thankful for the big and small things in my life. Waking up early, instead of getting more sleep, allows me to be proactive with the start of my day. Watching the sunrise, getting a good exercise and breakfast, and completing all of this before 8am, has changed my perspective on how beautiful life can consistently be.

It’s been almost a year now since I went part-time at my job, and it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Now, I work four days straight, and then I’m off Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday of every week. Because of this, my quality of life has increased, and my energy towards more projects have significantly gone up. I feel like I finally have the proper balance for working, creating, personal life, and family time. I don’t feel overwhelmed anymore. I’m thankful that I have the right amount of time to be a better employee, writer, friend, son, and brother. This is definitely the best version of myself.



The Unfollow Button

Every social network has it, but I don’t think people use it enough. My Instagram has zero followers. My Facebook feed only has a handful of friends. My Twitter feed only shows me a select group of people and websites that I want news and information from.

My point is this: YOU can decide what you let you into your life, and what you let into your life can often define who you are. If you like pictures and gifs of cats, you can have your entire news feed show cats all day, every day. If you like cooking videos, that’s ALL you have to see. And if you ever see something you don’t like, guess what? UNFOLLOW BUTTON. You don’t have to reply back to that person letting them know that you don’t like it. You simply press that little magical button that erases any existence of something you don’t like.

Let’s continue: if you like Popeyes, and Dominos, and 10 other food places, and they’re that important to you, you literally can ONLY see that ALL day.

And my main point is this: you have to ask yourself, do you like drama, do you like feeding into the world’s problems, and do you enjoy being upset? If the answer is yes to any of those, then never use the unfollow button. It’ll pour into your life daily.

If you’ve accepted friend requests for a decade now, and if you’ve liked a couple of Public Pages, then there’s noise all around you. And you’ve yet to do anything about it.

Imagine every post you see online, but instead, it’s someone knocking at your door and handing you that information. Maybe it takes that analogy to put it into perspective. You can choose who knocks at your door. You can choose what information reaches your heart. Good or bad. It’s totally up to you.

This is a long rant, but it’s important for me to say, because I see what social networks do to some of you. There’s hate, and anger, and drama, and noise. But you can turn it down. It doesn’t have to be that way. Whatever you enjoy, fill your life with that. Don’t be upset with someone when they post something you don’t like. Just unfollow them, and without ever telling them anything about it, wish them well.

That’s a life hack that will enhance your day in every way.



Mugshots and Coffee Addictions

My day has three key points, with similar breaks in between.

Cafes, drive-throughs, church, work: it’s become an all-day process. Coffee is either with me or waiting for me. At home, to say that I’m a minimalist, I’m also a coffee-hoarder. I didn’t even know there was such a thing, until I started organizing the kitchen in my new apartment.

The first step is admitting (I say this while taking another sip). I had my own little intervention, as I laid everything out in the open: I counted an Expresso machine, an old-fashion-dripping-pot, a Frenchpress, an electric kettle, a coffee grinder, an Areopress, a Keurig, 50 K-Cups, creamers (powder ones, liquid ones), fresh beans, filters, half bags of old coffee grounds, caramel flavored Latte foam—and the list keeps going.

A year ago, my friend mentioned that, one day, we should open up our own coffee shop, and it’s as if I’ve been preparing the inventory for it ever since.



Getting Things Done (a lot of things)

Permalink: gtd

I want to talk to you about being productive. The tools I use matter to me (I use OmniFocus), but they’re just tools, and you can implement these same methods with whatever tools you have in front of you. It’s about taking all the little things, as well as the big things, and turning it into daily actions. (This method comes from David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done.)

1. Brain Dump

It all starts here. With an inbox. A place where I have the freedom to throw all the good and bad ideas into a bucket, and not worry about what it all means. The brain dump is something I do throughout day when an idea arrives. I don’t worry about what to do with it, I just throw it into the inbox. Knowing that I have safe place to get everything off of my mind, until a later time, helps my mind stay free and ready for life, as well as new ideas.

2. Projects

Every idea and task added to my inbox most likely has an end-goal, meaning what does finished look like for this item? What are the handful of next-actions needed? Over the years, I’ve learned that thinking through projects is often as important as completing the task itself. It creates clarity.

An example project would be:

Clean out closet:

Each one of these items move the project forward, until having that one last item that completes the entire project. It’s important to write out even the smallest next-action, because each next-action has a different context.

3. Context

Every next-action has a context. A context is not the task, but the location or item needed to complete the task. What this ultimately means is, you may have tasks in a variety of projects that require calling someone, and instead of bouncing around, attempting to complete a dozen task inside of one project, you would simply focus on the Calls” context, moving several projects forward quickly. When getting in your car, you would move projects forward by focusing solely on the items that have the context Errand. The momentum of already being on the road, or already making calls, helps keep things mindless and easy to finish.

4. Review

The review is a weekly (or as often as you can or need to) meeting with yourself, as you go through each item and project, making sure they all have an end-goal, and you know what finished looks like. More often than not, finished doesn’t look the same as it did a week ago. Life happens, and it’s important to constantly know what you’re working towards. This entire system falls apart if you don’t set time aside to look over what you’ve added, make sure your inbox is empty, make sure nothing slipped through the cracks of this system, and to realign your mind with the tasks at hand.


Rinse and repeat. This isn’t something you do once. I’ve been practicing GTD for almost a decade now. Enjoy the process, and even if you never perfect it, it has to be better than doing nothing. Even when I’m struggling, I know that my attempts mean more than wishful thinking.

I hope this helps get some of your projects started, and ultimately free your mind for new things.



A Gym

I have this vision of a gym. A gym that would be used for a variety of things. It would have an office, and a stage, and a basketball court, and the mission would be to bring the community closer in fun and creative ways. Here’s how.

This is a vision that’s been on my heart, and this is me speaking it into existence.



Patreon

Before

Before talking about what’s next, I’d like to mention what came before it. My previous membership model made exactly $525. I rarely talked about it, and I preferred it to be out of sight, out of mind to those who weren’t interested. I was insecure about asking for money, but I knew it was needed. For it to still bring in that much money, quietly, is something I’m incredibly proud of (Also, this isn’t counting the amount of money the donate button, as well as all merchandise and album purchases, have brought in over the years). I’m thankful for each and every person that has contributed to my creations, and I’ll never take that for granted.

Now

Today, I’m streamlining that process, and going more public than I ever have before. Removed is the confusion on how to support my projects. Added is a much stronger service, built for what I was already doing on my own. Starting today, all support will go through Patreon. A Patron is someone who contributes $1 a month to the things I build.

One dollar: It’s my favorite part of this new setup. You’ll hardly notice a dollar missing, but if I keep doing what I’ve been doing for over a decade, one dollar, multiplied by however many people love the things I make, will add up to a full-time job. And that’s my goal: making it easier to support the things I create. Because every word from every project, ultimately adds up to changing the world. Or at the very least, my own little version of it.



Five Changes

Recently, I took a step back from my site and looked at it from a different perspective. When I did this, I saw more noise than I would’ve liked.

So I asked myself:

The good thing is, the foundation is there, so it’s much easier to find ways to improve. The best advice I can give someone that wants to create is to just start. Figure the rest out along the way, but just start. The new changes aren’t perfect, but they don’t have to be. Iterate and optimize. I’m not afraid to shift the direction of what I’m working on, because my intentions are simple: keep building and let the results speak.

Here’s the five changes I’ve made:

All of this may seem like a lot, but it’s actually less than what I was doing before. My daily process has been reduced to only the essentials. This removes the resistance and friction that made my daily writing feel like work, and now I’m left with just the projects that come natural to me. It all feels liberating.

I hope you like the new changes. Join the mailing list, and let me know which one’s your favorite.



Self Control” and Nights” from Frank Ocean’s Blonde album

Here’s two of my favorite songs from Frank Ocean’s new album, Blonde. The depth of these songs are what stand out to me. It’s many concepts, melodies, and even vocal pitches, all rolled into one track. One line could be talking about one subject, and the very next line is talking about something completely different. The speed of the tempo might not be fast, but the train of thought is racing. These type of moments are all over this album, but these two tracks point to it the most (others from the album that do this is Nikes” and Futura Free”, two more of my favorites).

Here’s a link to the album.



Welcome to iPad: the five apps I download first

I’ve been testing iOS 11 lately, and because of that, I’ve been erasing my iPad every week and starting from scratch. It sounds scary, but I’ve started to enjoy the process of starting over. It gives me a chance to curate what apps I actually need. Because of this process, I’ve learned how little I need all the apps that I considered important. What I considered necessities before, looking back now, were distractions, keeping me from the apps that I should be using.

Welcome to iPad

Welcome to iPad is the screen you see before seeing the home screen for the first time. The only apps on here are the ones that come on the device. It’s time to begin adding my essentials.

Ulysses

Ulysses is always the first app I download (there’s a 14-Day Trial if you want to check it out). It’s my mind. It’s my site. It’s where any thought, any lyric, any blog post, and any story, goes. It’s all synced with iCloud, so as soon as the app is downloaded, all of my words are there waiting for me.

Things

Things is my second app downloaded. It’s my task-manager. It’s where I game plan for the day, with current projects, as well as a big picture view of what’s coming up in the future.

1Password

1Password is my third app downloaded. It could’ve easily been my first, depending on what information I needed that day. It’s where every password I use is stored. It’s where I put any secure information that I don’t want anyone else knowing.

Tweetbot

Tweetbot is my fourth app downloaded. It’s where I get all of my information (news and things I’m interested in). It’s the app that gives me every idea to write about. It’s 7 years of hand selecting people and sites to follow. I’ve come to trust this list more than anything else on the internet. It’s critical to my day.

Fantastical

Fantastical is my fifth app downloaded. It’s my calendar, the only calendar app I’ve used for many years. The ease of use, aesthetics, and the powerful text recognition. Just typing Lunch on Friday at 12 at Olive Garden” would turn into a calendar event titled Lunch, with the location being Olive Garden, date being this Friday, and time being noon. Type a sentence like you’re texting a friend, and it turns into a complete event.



Allbirds Wool Runners: 8 Months Later (Review)

It’s been 8 months since I’ve worn another pair of shoes (besides when I play basketball). When I decided to get the Allbirds, I donated every other pair that I owned.

What I love most about the Allbirds is their simple look, but yet how different they are compared to every other shoe in a room. They’re made out of wool, so they’re extremely comfortable, and since I planned on wearing them every day as my only shoe, I tested them in every situation: I tried playing basketball with them, but with no support, I might as well have played in slippers. I went hiking with them, but had zero traction. I ran with them, and they were the best running shoes I’ve ever used (comfortable and snug). I wore them with basketball shorts, when I was relaxing, and they looked great. I wore them with jeans and tees, and they looked great. For 8 months straight, they were basically the only shoe I needed. And since they’re made out of wool, if they happened to get dirty, I’d simply throw them in the washer and they looked brand new again.

But the coolest thing about the shoes is that if you combined all the complements I’ve ever received for any shoe in my life, it still wouldn’t add up to the amount given to the Allbirds. It was almost daily, someone would be shocked when they’d look down and see them, they’d say how much they loved them, and then ask me what kind of shoe they were. I tried my best not to tell anyone (because I wanted to write about them first and because they felt like my little secret—an amazing show that nobody else ever seen before).

It wasn’t until about the 7th month of wearing them every day that I started not wanting to put them on. Not because I didn’t love them, but because I wore them too much, and their shape had become flat, and they started showing their age. That’s when I knew it was time to order another pair. I’m sure if a normal person, who wasn’t wearing the same shoe constantly, and actually gives one pair a break every few days, the life of them could’ve easily doubled—but I intentionally put them to the test.

From the second I saw a picture of them, and read their story, the Allbirds felt like a pair of shoes and a brand that I would always want going forward, so I needed to know their durability. Needless to say, I’m very satisfied with the results—and I still want them to be my only pair of shoes that I own. Minimalism with style.

I just ordered my second pair, and I plan on donating my older pair as soon as the new ones arrive (size 9). Even though they’re not flawless like a brand new pair, in my opinion, they’ll still look cooler than any other shoe in your closet.



The Dragon and the Emoji Princess (by Nash Pitre and Nicole Verdin)

Creative Writing Assignment: Write about the dragon who rescued the princess from the night.

🐉🐲

The double-headed dragon heard her whispers. They weren’t even directed towards him, but he heard them anyway. She needed help, she was trapped, and the ones who usually protected her were no longer breathing. She was alone, so she spoke to the window, as if speaking to it would set her free. She would quietly convince those bars to bend, setting her free from everything wrong in the world.

🏃🏼‍♀️🏃🏼‍♀️💨💨

She imagined those bars bending as she ran home. A home that she hasn’t seen in years, and if only she could create an opening wide enough to slide her cartoony-yellow body through, she’d escape and never look back.

👸🏼 🦄 🤦🏼‍♀️

The princess decided to be a majestic unicorn. The night was transforming her into her deepest desires, and I guess that desire was to be a white and pink unicorn. The dragon was running out of time. If he didn’t save her from herself, she would wind up being any and every Emoji on the keyboard. Impulsive rage would take over.

🐄

A cow was her second decision. Maybe she was hungry. The dragon saw this in his mind, and it disappointed him. He wanted to save a princess, not a cow. This made him exhausted with the task at hand, but he already committed to this mission, so he couldn’t stop now.

🐸

A frog was her final transformation. She went from being a beautiful, but dumb emoji girl, to an ugly, but brilliant little frog. The whispers turned into ribbits, and she hopped right out the window, and directly into the dragon’s mouth. She was dinner.

The end.



Endless

Frank Ocean released two albums last year, and they were only hours apart from each other. Because the second that came out was the main album (Blonde), the one that came first (Endless) continues to get overlooked. Endless was a visual album, an hour-long black and white video of him building a staircase, in an all white room, while the album Endless played.

This video started live-streaming weeks before, with no music playing, as Ocean built something live. You didn’t know what was being built, but you heard the saws and the hammer at work.

Sean Fennessey:

Endless, it turns out, was an event — just not the event. The Apple Music video ended after 45 minutes, and was quickly tagged a visual album,” a pernicious term that rose to great heights with Beyoncé’s Lemonade and has only sunk since. Frank, it seemed, had programmed his construction-working clip and made a short film about process while fans took in new songs. Their titles rolled in the closing credits. Screenshots came pouring in. Theories flew across the internet. A gentle sigh set in. That’s it? many of us wondered. What happened here?

What makes Endless special is that it served a bigger purpose, as it freed Ocean from his contract obligation, as everyone thought this was the big album, not Blonde. Sean wrote later in his article:

Frank Ocean didn’t just trick fans with Endless. He tricked his label, Def Jam, which was stuck with the visual album as the final installment in his recording contract. The bigger and more commodified Blonde, on the other hand, was released solely by Boys Don’t Cry, Ocean’s personal imprint.

There are many reasons to love Endless, especially as a musical statement — it’s the rolling tide that carries in Blonde’s crashing wave. It takes its time, it ebbs and releases — it’s inconsistent and unpredictable. It is, in many ways, music in 2016. It’s also an artistic statement that is unrivaled — a power move leveraging technology and corporate structures against one another to engender personal freedom. That may seem haughty, but it is true. Frank Ocean is free because of Endless. That he has once again returned to his elusive state should be no surprise. He’s bound by nothing but himself now.

Here’s a Dropbox link to the album Endless for you to listen to.



One Year, No Alcohol, Complete

It’s been a year since I last had an alcoholic beverage. It was a personal challenge of mine that I can add to the things I conquered. I must admit though, it was much easier for me than someone who might struggle with this addiction. I wasn’t much of a drinker anyway, so this one-year challenge has an asterisk next to it. There was hardly any temptation once this goal was set, but rather a decision: out of sight, out of mind, and then a year passed. Cheers.



31: a blank canvas

I remember months ago, talking to a group of friends at dinner about a blank canvas, and how every morning when you wake up, you can be whoever you want. Today doesn’t have to carry the weight of yesterday, and when you treat each day as a blank canvas, it changes everything about your world.

By the time you read this I’ll be 31. I don’t feel 31. I still feel, in certain ways, like a kid. Maybe it’s my creativity. Maybe it’s because I still do what I did back then (basketball, write, record, computers, video games). I haven’t quite grown up yet, and I hope I never will. I’m frozen in time, as the same person from many years ago, just better at the things I’m passionate about, and with less hair and more bills.

I remember a year ago, leading up to 30, how stressed I was. I was leaving my twenties, and that bothered me. Ironically, that year turned out to be one of my favorite years ever. So this time, I’m not stressed at all. I understand that the year doesn’t matter: they’re all just blank canvases. Who will I be tomorrow? Who will I be next month? Who will I be a year from now? That person is decided upon each day, the second I open my eyes—and at 31, I appreciate those canvases more than ever.



Endless

Frank Ocean released two albums last year, and they were only hours apart from each other. Because the second that came out was the main album (Blonde), the one that came first (Endless) continues to get overlooked. Endless was a visual album, an hour-long black and white video of him building a staircase, in an all white room, while the album Endless played.

This video started live-streaming weeks before, with no music playing, as Ocean built something live. You didn’t know what was being built, but you heard the saws and the hammer at work.

Sean Fennessey:

Endless, it turns out, was an event — just not the event. The Apple Music video ended after 45 minutes, and was quickly tagged a visual album,” a pernicious term that rose to great heights with Beyoncé’s Lemonade and has only sunk since. Frank, it seemed, had programmed his construction-working clip and made a short film about process while fans took in new songs. Their titles rolled in the closing credits. Screenshots came pouring in. Theories flew across the internet. A gentle sigh set in. That’s it? many of us wondered. What happened here?

What makes Endless special is that it served a bigger purpose, as it freed Ocean from his contract obligation, as everyone thought this was the big album, not Blonde. Sean wrote later in his article:

Frank Ocean didn’t just trick fans with Endless. He tricked his label, Def Jam, which was stuck with the visual album as the final installment in his recording contract. The bigger and more commodified Blonde, on the other hand, was released solely by Boys Don’t Cry, Ocean’s personal imprint.

There are many reasons to love Endless, especially as a musical statement — it’s the rolling tide that carries in Blonde’s crashing wave. It takes its time, it ebbs and releases — it’s inconsistent and unpredictable. It is, in many ways, music in 2016. It’s also an artistic statement that is unrivaled — a power move leveraging technology and corporate structures against one another to engender personal freedom. That may seem haughty, but it is true. Frank Ocean is free because of Endless. That he has once again returned to his elusive state should be no surprise. He’s bound by nothing but himself now.

Here’s a Dropbox link to the album Endless for you to listen to.



Nobody: a poem

Stranger to stranger, the differences are small. Love, pain, anger, and fear, I want it all. Nobody. Capturing a smile, and documenting the hurt. My observations become obsessions, I make it work.

I care about you, but I barely know you, is that enough? A scavenger hunt, finding you, that diamond in the rough. A blank face (nobody), replaced with yours, when we’re acquainted. Your eyes tell a story of redemption, we see you’ve made it. Memories is all we have, silhouettes, they disappear. In exchange for somebody that’s here. Embrace fear.

A friendship, endearment, what you’re hearing is a poem. Nobody. When the story becomes you, and you are someone that’s so important. You bring clarity to the distortion. A small portion.



Sometimes we earn the day, sometimes we sit on the couch

Permalink: earn-day

This picture showed up in my email today. Austin Kleon, the guys who made this, takes a newspaper and blacks out everything but the story he wants to tell.

Sometimes we earn the day…

The phrase earn the day” caught my attention. How can I earn my day, both at AT&T and on my site? Am I doing what I can to earn this current day? Did I earn yesterday?

Lately, I know I have earned my day creatively and at my church. I’ve been pouring into both more than I ever have. And unfortunately, because of this, my work at AT&T has been slacking. My day job is what pays the bills, so you would think I’d be completely focused on it, but I seem to get comfortable and go through the motions. I haven’t been earning my day there.

Sometimes we sit on the couch.

It’s important for me to give each day everything I have and not be complacent. I have all the tools that I could possibly need: a great paying job, a vehicle, a website, an iPad, a microphone. There’s no reason why I can’t earn my day. From when I wake up until I close my eyes, my goal is to earn the day.


Side note: I love Austin Kleon’s book, Steal Like An Artist. Highly recommend it.



Blonde’s Ending (Seigfried, Godspeed, Futura Free)

Play these songs, it’s therapy momma. They paying me momma, I should be paying them. I should be paying y’all honest to God. I’m just a guy, I’m not a god. Sometimes I feel like I’m a god, but I’m not a god. If I was, I don’t know which heaven would have me momma.

I want to zoom in on the ending of Frank Ocean’s Blonde. These three songs capture an eerie, abstract, and inspiring sound that’s like no other. There’s precision, mixed with complicated thoughts. There’s big stories, mixed with the smallest details about a specific moment Frank is thinking of. Each song has big concepts that could stand alone, with just the main hook and verses, but midway or towards the end of each track, they switch up into something entirely different. And on top of all of this, on all of the songs, there’s additional vocals from him, layered and sprinkled everywhere, adding pieces to this abstract puzzle.

I say all of this to say this: I appreciate the complete level of control that Ocean displays throughout the album. It’s still getting better with every listen.



Just Know That I’m Working On My Return

Just know that I’m working on my return. These words show my potential to get us where we deserve.

These are some lyrics that I wrote a month ago. I didn’t know that they’d become my rock during a rough season of my life. The past few days, after waking up, this sentence is one of the first things I’d think of:

Just know that I’m working on my return.

It’s a process. We lose ourselves sometimes. We lose that confidence, we lose that daily routine. We get in a slump and forget how special we are. But I’m working on my return. I’m rebuilding myself daily.

Ashley Cox:

I’m telling you, the artistic products of brokenness are what truly gets in deep and speaks to others. It’s a good way to be productive and still work through your emotional issues and come up with something that’s a reflection of that struggle.

I fell down a week ago, but over the past two years, I’ve equipped myself with great tools and great people, and I’ve now leaned on them every day this past week. Thankfully, they’ve helped me regain peace.

Stu Babin:

We’ve all heard what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger”, but I’d like to spin that differently, as we build upon this life brick by brick. The struggles are just a temporary setback of the continued process. Ultimately, the house you’re building is going to be stronger as a result of it.

The process of rebuilding yourself is a beautiful and humbling experience. My return is close, and much sooner than I expected.



Raising Money For Bolivia



In July, Cross Church will be traveling to Bolivia (one of the poorest countries in South America) to build a church from the ground up, and my plan is to join them. The amount needed per person is $2,300 (flight expenses, hotel room, food, insurance, visa, etc.). This mission trip is something I consider extremely important—not just for myself, but for every life that’ll be impacted during the process. Mission trips mean everything to me, and it’ll be a core focus of mine going forward. This is just the beginning.

Pastor Brandon always tells us, when he’s discussing one of his visions, that he has audacious faith”. I never knew what that meant until now. This is the biggest challenge I’ve ever set for myself, and it’s the most I’ve ever asked from my readers. The goal to raise $2,300 sounds crazy, but I didn’t build this site to be mediocre. I believe, with all the stories I’ve written over the past decade, that I’ve surrounded myself with people that want to change the world, and that mission starts now.

https://youtu.be/DnFmztPFTGU

This is a video recap of last year’s trip to Bolivia.



Rest In Peace, Randal

I lost my friend, Randal, to cancer a few days ago. He was a fighter, and from the moment he was diagnosed—until the very end—he didn’t take a day for granted. I remember him telling me, Nash, this has been the best year of my life.” He refused to let the world see his sickness. He just wanted to be one of us, and he accomplished that and so much more. The cancer didn’t disappear, we knew it was still there, but we were in awe of how he defied it.

The term #RandalStrong will always hold value in my life: from the unexpected bad news, to his resistance to defeat, and to the speed he was able to create thriving relationships. Randal is an inspiration to so many, and he’ll be incredibly missed.

Randal Strong

I’m selling #RandalStrong shirts:



My Two-Year Anniversary at Cross Church

Cross Church has only been around for a total of three years, but today (January 28th, 2017) marks the two-year anniversary for me attending. The first time I went, they were in a movie theatre: it was so unique and refreshing, and ironically, the message was on raising money, so they could have their own church. Some people would be turned off by this as their first impression—but for me, and with Pastor Brandon’s sincerity and vision, I walked in on something that felt big for our community. Vision means everything to me, and I gravitate towards people that try to see further than only what’s in front of them. Immediately, Pastor Brandon Bilbo was someone I admired and looked up to. His humility, humor, and stage presence pulled me in, and even to someone that barely went to church before, I haven’t looked back since.

My first day attending Cross Church was only meant to be a one-time supportive gesture to a friend who asked me to join him, as he had just gotten out of rehab, but that one day changed the entire trajectory of my life. Cross Church is a combination of knowledge, peace, joy, and relationships that are second to none, and I’m excited to know that this is only the beginning.



Good Morning, 5am

I’m not a morning person, but I want to be. My goal is to wake up every morning at 5am, to run, drink coffee, write, shower, and then go to work. This is what I’d consider a perfect morning, but it takes a lot of dedication to create these habits. I did it this morning, and I did it for maybe 30% of 2016, but I want to be more consistent.

I bought a 2017 planner two months ago (here’s the link to the planner if you’d like one too), and today was the first day on that planner. I made a small list of things I want to accomplish today, I have a few more tasks to do, but I’m close to finishing everything already, and it’s only 8am. I’m writing this while drinking my second cup of coffee at Downtown Jeaux, and while listening to the new Run The Jewels 3 album in my AirPods. I’m saying this because those cups of coffee, that planner, that new album, and those AirPods help motivate me, pushing me to want to wake up early and be productive. Consider these my tools for the morning. Your tools might look different, but having tools, to me at least, is the only way to feel motivated when climbing out of bed.

When my alarm went off, I slowly stood up, made the bed, emptied out my backpack completely, and then reloaded it with everything I’ll need for the day. As I walked out of the house, with music playing in my ears, I was ready for a productive day. When I’m done writing this, I’ll put everything back in my bag, and before getting in my car, I’ll go for a 30-minute run to fill up the exercise ring on my Watch.

To be healthy, to write, and to slowly become a morning person, I continue to find ways to simplify the process and make it fun. Setting yourself up for success is the key. I know what it takes for me to have successful mornings, so I search for ways to recreate those patterns, as well as improve the process.



My 10 Favorite Albums from 2016

Preface

Whether you care about these albums or not, I hope you enjoy the depth that’s here: it took me weeks to make this (from studying each album, to ranking them in the best order, and from setting up all the artworks and links, to explaining why I chose each one). I love all the tiny details that went into making this post, and I hope to continue giving you more like these.

Secret Weapons

Here’s my ten favorite albums from 2016. What I love most about these albums is how underrated they are. I feel like I’m holding on to secret weapons that are disguised as albums. I spent weeks narrowing this list down, and I was very careful not to add just any album to the list (I wasn’t adding an album just because it was popular, on everyone else’s list, or because it had a few good songs on it). These albums that I’ve chosen have a complete and cohesive feeling to them, and I’m proud to present them to you.

Side Note

I left two links to each album: the iTunes link to support it, and a Dropbox link to listen to it. I just want you to experience these with me.

Table of Contents

  1. Blonde
  2. A Moon Shaped Pool
  3. Islah
  4. 22, A Million
  5. Layers
  6. The Healing Component
  7. Awaken, My Love!
  8. Coloring Book
  9. Views
  10. Cleopatra

1. Blonde

The first album on my list, is Frank Ocean’s Blonde (iTunes/Dropbox). There’s so much depth here. It’s impressive how much is packed into these 17 songs. It was four years since his previous album, and that much time is warranted by the quality of Blonde—and through these 17 songs, you can hear the amount of time that’s been spent living with this music. It feels timeless, but it also feels like it carries a life of its own. As many times as I’ve listened to this (over fifty times), you would think I’d be tired of it by now, but yet I’m still excited each time I hear it, as if it’s my first time turning it on. And each time I play a song for this album, I hear something new layered in somewhere. You have to experience it. (Favorite tracks: Nikes”, Solo”, Nights”, and Futura Free”.)


2. A Moon Shaped Pool

The second album on my list is Radiohead’s A Moon Shaped Pool (iTunes/Dropbox). This album has an eerie feeling to it. Atmospheric. I love turning this album on when I want to think, or write. Radiohead has always had abstract sounds, but this album has a different kind of feel to it. Maybe it’s the fact that it was recorded on multitrack tape recorders, but it sounds like it’s from decades ago. 11 tracks, 53 minutes of flawless sound. (Favorite tracks: Daydreaming”, Decks Dark”, and Ful Stop”.)


3. Islah

The third album on my list is Kevin Gates’s Islah (iTunes/Dropbox). This one surprised me. When I think of Kevin Gates, he’s an artist that suffers from social media (talks too much, and ruins what people think of him, instead of letting his art speak for itself). Who these artist are in their personal life doesn’t matter to me (previous generations had artist and bands that had messy lives, but hardly anyone knew about it, they only knew the albums). I just want a good album—and from that perspective only, Islah delivers in every way possible. Aggression, polish, great production, great hooks, and an overall relatable quality flowing throughout all 17 songs. (Favorite tracks: Not The Only One” and Told Me”.)


4. 22, A Million

The fourth album on my list is Bon Iver’s 22, A Million (iTunes/Dropbox). It’s ideal to go into this short album not knowing anything about it. This is definitely the most unique album on my list, with so many little details packed inside of just 34 minutes. (Favorite tracks: 33 GOD and 666 ʇ”.)


5. Layers

The fifth album on my list is Royce da 5′9′s Layers (iTunes/Dropbox). I tweeted a few months ago (which Royce retweeted, and as of now, that tweet has 77 likes and 54 retweets), Randomly pick a song on Layers, from @Royceda59. It’s lyrically better than your favorite song this year.” I still stand by this. My favorite thing to do with this album is put it on random, and let any of the songs from it start playing. It’s a shame how overlooked this album is, because there’s not a song on here that doesn’t deliver. On one of the songs, Royce says, I’m not leaving here without a classic.” This just might be that classic. (Favorite tracks: Shine” and Off”.)


6. The Healing Component

The sixth album on my list is Mick Jenkins’s The Healing Component (iTunes/Dropbox). I’m positive that this will be the most overlooked album on my list, simply because he’s the most unknown of the ten. I stumbled upon this artist and his debut album, and if it wouldn’t have been for that moment of finding him, I probably still wouldn’t know who he is—I’m so glad that I did though. He reminds me of many artists rolled into one. I hear an artist that is polished, but not yet popular. This album tells a story through hidden interludes that flow around the songs. And the songs sound big. They feel like they belong in this world, and they’re deep with powerful messages. (Favorite tracks: Spread Love”, Drowning”, and F’d Up Outro”.)


7. Awaken, My Love!

The seventh album on my list is Childish Gambino’s Awaken, My Love! (iTunes/Dropbox). They’re calling this album a soul riot’. This album doesn’t sound like it’s from this decade either, let alone from a 33-year old. Gambino continues to show his diversity with this album, with 49 minutes of brilliance. (Favorite tracks: Redbone” and Stand Tall”.)


8. Coloring Book

The eighth album on my list is Chance The Rapper’s Coloring Books (iTunes/Dropbox). Chance delivered such a refreshing album, filled with so much life, great hooks and catchy lyrics. He has many artist featured on these 14 tracks, and that isn’t a bad thing: it’s like he challenged himself to get someone every song and then beat them at their own style. This will be the most popular album on my list. (Favorite tracks: Summer Friends” and How Great”.)


9. Views

The ninth album on my list is Drake’s Views (iTunes/Dropbox). Though it wasn’t as good as I was hoping it would be, it was still a very solid album. It would’ve been a lot better if it was cut in half, removing all the filler pop songs. This is definitely his best album musically, but it was too long and had corny rap lines that I could’ve done without. Other than a few flaws though, it deserves to be on this list. (Favorite tracks: Redemption” and Fire and Desire”.)


10. Cleopatra

The tenth album on my list is The Lumineers’s Cleopatra (iTunes/Dropbox). There’s a relaxing vibe to this album, as if the order of these albums was an album in itself, and this is the last track you’ll hear out of the ten. This is album feels like closure. The Lumineers, on their sophomore album, deliver heartfelt stories, that are powerful and soothing at the same time. (Favorite tracks: Gale Song” and Sick in the Head”.)


Afterthoughts

I could’ve easily made a list with what everyone else thinks are the best albums this year: Beyoncé, Rihanna, J. Cole, Solonge, Alicia Keys, and Run The Jewels come to mind — they all made really good albums. Some of those are almost perfect, and some of those I actually love, but they’re not my favorites, and they don’t matter to me in the grand scheme of things. When I think back at 2016, the ten albums that I picked here will be what I remember the most.



Why Minimalism: The Act of Removing Clutter

I’ve been getting asked why I’m so obsessed with minimalism, so I’d like to share some thoughts on the topic. Letting go has made me a much better person. When I let go of something physical—that I no longer find value in—two things happen: it helps someone else in need, and then I’m able to see more of the things I love. Getting rid of clutter (both physical and mental) creates clarity for what truly matters. I’ve learned that relationships and memories are much more important than anything physical, and all these relationships were enhanced once I removed the insignificant things around them.

It all started with anxiety, which has been a major problem for me for most of my life, until now. I used to take all sorts of medication to try to help my anxiety, nerves, depression, insomnia, etc. — but letting go of the clutter cured me quicker than any pill ever could. I can’t remember the last time I had to take medicine for any of these problems. Once the clutter was removed, the anxiety was gone. I now have room to breathe and think, and what was once filled with noise, has been replaced with peace and space around me for life to happen.



A Simple Christmas Gift To And From My 6 Year-Old Brother

I tried something new this year, and I was shocked by how much it worked. My little brother told me something today that was priceless, and this story proves that the best gifts can’t be purchased.

The story starts a week ago, when I told Brayden that I have him a Christmas present, but it won’t be something new. Instead, it’ll be something from my room that I’ll be giving him. Since I have very little possessions in the room, it only took him two guesses to get it right:

Your PlayStation 4.”

Nope.”

Your . . . Little men on the shelf.”

Yep.”

He was referring to the little Pop characters I had lined up (Goku, Harry Potter, Rocket, Luke Skywalker, etc.). He was excited to get these, and it never crossed his mind that it wasn’t a brand new gift that I bought him.

I told him that there was one rule: this present was something of mine that I’m passing on, and in order to receive this gift, he first needed to do the same. He had to find something in his room that he thinks another kid might like as a present, and together, we’d give it to a kid that would enjoy it more than he did. He agreed, and a few days later, he told me the gift was ready.

Today, I went visit him before church. He told me he wanted to come to church with me. I agreed, and while loading up in the car, he noticed the little men I was giving him were in the front seat. I told him he could pick two to play with during the ride to church.

After picking the guy with the yellow hair” (Goku), and the raccoon guy” (Rocket)—and after we began driving away towards the church—it was the simple words that followed that were the best present I could’ve ever asked for. This moment let’s me know that what I did was important, and the significance of it all didn’t go unnoticed by my brother. It also showed me that I can receive gifts that are way more valuable than anything physical.

He said:

Nash. You’re a good person.”

It stunned me for a second. He sounded 15 years older, and it caught me off guard.

Why’d you say that, Brayden?”

Because . . .”

It took him awhile to get it out. His poor stuttering kept me in suspense. After 10 seconds, it finally came out.

Because. You’re always giving people stuff.”

Merry Christmas, everyone.



Minimalism Update (12/22/16)

The amount of possessions I own is shrinking by the day. It happens as soon as I walk into the house: I look around, and if there’s anything that I don’t absolutely love, then I start preparing to get rid of it. The wool has been removed from over my eyes, and now, I can only see a lifestyle without clutter.

Here’s a few recent ways that I’ve reduced the noise around me, and it’s only the beginning.

Decorations

I walked in from a week-long vacation, and the first thing I did was pull all of my decorations that were on the wall. I thought of this idea on my way home from the vacation, and I looked forward to letting go of something I thought was important to a room. That might sound crazy, but I saw it as one more distraction, and one more item that I owned.

Desk Chair

A few weeks later, I got rid of my desk chair. I usually sit on my bed to use the iPad, or if I am using the desk, I’m standing up when I do so. So the chair had to go.

Jacket

There was this jacket that I bought a few years ago. I wore it once. When the weather changed recently, I went to put this jacket on, and didn’t like the way it looked on me. The old me would’ve hung it back up, thinking maybe one day I’ll like it on me, after all, it was only worn once. Instead, I didn’t even think twice about it: I put the jacket with the rest of the things I was donating that day.

Socks

I recently received a gift card to Academy. With this gift card, I decided to buy a new pack of athletic socks. When I got back home from Academy, I walked straight to my dresser, grabbed all of my old socks, and put them right in the donate pile. My new goal with socks is to only have one style, reducing the friction of pairing them, and letting go of older socks that have either lost their partner, or take up space in an otherwise minimal drawer.

Shirts

I recently made a huge pass through all of my shirts. I only kept the tees that I loved wearing. I didn’t have room for any shirt that I wasn’t excited about. I also got rid of all of my hangers. Now, my shirts lay on top of each other, on the steps of my bed. I usually grab whatever tee is on top, without having to worry about if I like it or not. And if the shirt becomes one that I’m hesitant to put on, it gets donated.

Jeans

On Black Friday, I decided to buy two pair of jeans. My old jeans were falling apart. A belt loop broke on one, and on the other, a hole was created, by the right pocket, from the biggest first world problem ever: the hole existed from constantly pushing in the same spot to lift my phone up before pulling it out. So I bought two new jeans from the Levi’s store (541 Athletic fit). As soon as I got back from the store with these jeans, I donated all of my oldest ones.

Books

I started getting rid of the books I own, by either donating them or by selling them online. I used to collect these physical books, but I never read them. Now, I only own a handful of books that I have not only read, but that I really love and I’m proud to own.

Shoes

January 1st will make seven months since I’ve been wearing the Allbirds as my daily shoes. I can count on two hands the times I didn’t wear my Allbirds for the day (to play basketball, or to serve in a wedding). I fell in love with these shoes the second I saw them, so when I purchased them, I decided to donate every other pair that I owned—besides two others: I had to keep my basketball shoes for when I’m headed to the gym, and my dress shoes for those special occasions (and those dress shoes are used so rarely that I’m considering donating those too).

Computer

It’s been over a year now since I purchased the iPad Pro, and it’s been that long since I stopped relying on my Mac as my main computer. I envied those that didn’t need an actual computer. I followed these guys that did all of their work from an iPad, and I wanted that too. When the iPad Pro was released, I saw my chance. I now run my website, record music, and write thousands of words a day, all from my iPad. I was able to transition to a much simpler life with the iPad, removing the clutter both physically and mentally from needing an actual computer.



J.Cole - 4 Your Eyez Only (Review)

★★★★☆

I see the rain pouring down, before my very eyes.” These are the first words you’ll hear when you start the album.

This is a review of J.Cole’s 2016 album, 4 Your Eyez Only. The album has 10 tracks, but seems much shorter than 10 (the album is 45 minutes). I consider the album to have 6 songs, 2 intros, and 2 interludes, with one massive story hidden underneath it all.

Tracklist

  1. For Whom The Bell Tolls
  2. Immortal
  3. Deja Vu
  4. Ville Mentality
  5. She’s Mine, Pt. 1
  6. Change
  7. Neighbors
  8. Foldin Clothes
  9. She’s Mine, Pt. 2
  10. 4 Your Eyez Only

Your” Eyez Only

The first time I listened to this album, I hated it. I couldn’t believe this was what he was working on for two years (since 2014 Forest Hills Drive, which was released on the same day, December 9th, two years ago — here’s my review of that album). I listened to 4 Your Eyez Only several times wondering: how does he think this is enough?

Around the 5th or 6th listen, though, something clicked for me, as I started to feel as if I was missing something: For your eyes only . . . ok, so this isn’t meant to be approached from the usual perspective. I’ve been a fan of Cole for many years, and the things he’s talking about here don’t even relate to his usual life-story. There’s little nuggets of wisdom in each song, though, and each time I listen to that particular song, those hints of something bigger being discussed become louder.

Do You Understand?

I kept studying it, and then it all started to make sense: this album isn’t even about J.Cole. This album is being told from someone else’s perspective, someone that’s caught up in the mentality of survival, and their time is running out (“Won’t be long before I disappear.“). The feeling of things coming to an end are whispered throughout the entire 45 minutes. There’s a war going on here—a clash between the street life and a family life. The two interludes, along with a song simply about folding clothes, are being told from the perspective of J.Cole, where he’s appreciating his relationship and his newborn baby girl. But then there’s songs being told from a street-mentality, and those have nothing to do with J.Cole, and those songs (Immortal and Neighbors) are as close as you can get to being face-to-face with a danger, and then ultimately, a life that comes to an end on the very last song.

The Turning Point

Halfway into the album, on the 5th song (Change), the first words you hear is, My intuition is telling me they’ll be better days.” That line defines the album, as it’s searching for a change from so many generational curses. That tug-of-war between good and evil. (“Life is all about the evolution. You can dream, but don’t neglect the execution. Time is short, that’s what somebody told me. Too short to keep following your homies.“) At the end of Change”, though, is when something big is revealed: Cole reenacts what he saw on the morning news, and then reenacts the funeral, and then simply says, We’ve got to do better, people”. And then the name that is hidden from public sight, the name of the person that this album is about, the person that the second perspective of this album is being told from, is finally mentioned. This album is about James McMillan Jr, and the title, 4 Your Eyez Only, is directed at his daughter, Nina, who you’ll hear speaking several times on the album.

The Final Track

All of this is better understood once you fully dive into the last track on the album, which is also titled 4 Your Eyez Only. (I’ll give you many quotes from the song, to help understand the message.)

For your eyes, do you understand?” is repeated as the hook.

The first verse is James, telling his story to the world, explaining why he did what he did. This is the world he saw, and it’s a story that so many know: a mentality that’s poison. He says that he can’t even visualize himself as nothing but a criminal”, and when you think about life from that perspective, how do you even go up from there? This first verse is summed up in the second line: It seems my dreams faded for too long, the consequence’s deadly.” That line shows the bigger picture of what Cole is trying to say in these 45 minutes. Consequence’s deadly. When you’re that low, when your dreams begin fading, when you begin to lack ambition, and all you see is what’s in front of you—which is violence and the feeling of being trapped—death isn’t that far away.“This is like the farthest thing from heaven. This is hell and I don’t mean that hyperbolic.” And then, for the last line of this verse, James says, If the pressure gets too much for me to take, and I break, play this tape for my daughter, and let her know my life was on it.” That’s when it begins to make sense.

For your eyes, do you understand?

On the second verse, James, for the first time on the album, is speaking directly to his daughter. You’re probably grown now, so this song will hit you. If you’re hearing this, it unfortunately means that I’m no longer with you.” You can feel things moving, transitioning to another layer of the story. A conversation between a dead father and his daughter, making sense of their life now. And then comes my favorite line on the album: But Daddy had dreams once, my eyes had a gleam once.” There’s power in this line, as he tells his daughter that at one point, there was hope. And then for the last few lines of this verse, it points at the bigger story again: Took me two felonies to see the trap this crooked ass system set for me, and now I fear it’s too late for me to ever be the one that set examples that was never set for me.”

For your eyes, do you understand?

On the third verse, he continues talking to his daughter, as he starts the verse off with, It’s several ways I could’ve went out, too many to count”. That line is a great way to keep the story progressing. Then he continues to tell his daughter how distorted his mentality was: See, baby girl, I realized that my definition of real was skewed”, and then says, I pray you find someone with goals and point of views, much broader than the corner.” The cyclical nature, a toxic cycle that keeps repeating, is the first thought I had when this album started clicking for me. Cyclical nature is what this album points at. This third verse will be the last words to his daughter, so it makes sense that he’s pouring wisdom into her, but the story is told as if he was alive when he wrote this, and these words will only arrive to her if he happens to die: My worst fear is one day that you come home from school and see your father’s face while hearing about tragedy on the news. I got the strangest feeling your daddy’s gonna lose his life soon, and sadly if you’re listening now, it must mean it’s true. But maybe there’s a chance that it’s not, and this album remains locked in a hard drive like valuable jewels. And I can teach you this in person, like I’m teaching you to tie your own shoes, I love you, and I hope to God I don’t lose you. For your eyes only.”

For your eyes, do you understand?

Not many songs do this, so it was a pleasant surprise, and makes sense, because that’s when the concept is revealed: a fourth verse, where J.Cole speaks to Nina about the conversation her father had with Cole. It starts with: One day your daddy called me, told me he had a funny feeling. What he’d been dealing with lately, he wasn’t telling. I tried to pick his brains, still he wasn’t revealing. But I could feel the sense of panic in his voice, and it was chilling.” James goes on to ask Cole to write down his story and share it with his daughter when the time is right, because his own time is running out: I got a feeling I won’t see tomorrow, like the time I’m living on is borrowed. With that said, the only thing I’m proud to say, I was a father. Write my story down, and if I pass, go play it for my daughter, when she’s ready.” James is finished. Those were the last words from him to Cole. The remainder of this verse is now from Cole. And these next lines are the bigger picture that I keep pointing towards, that cyclical nature that was briefly mentioned: I dedicate these words to you and all the other children, affected by the mass incarceration in this nation, that sent your pops to prison when he needed education.”

I reflect on this line, and at how many good people are stuck in a cycle of broken homes, incarceration, and overall toxicity. How many kids—or fathers—were never given a proper chance at life? How many of them simply repeat what they were brought up into, or see themselves not going much further than where they currently are? Their ambition fades, the bigger picture is taken away from them, and because of this, they live in a constant state of survival. 4 Your Eyez Only: the album, tells a story about a man and his daughter—but when I think about this album, I see millions of people like them. James is only one character in a bigger story.

For your eyes, do you understand?

I can remember the first time hearing this album. I heard these two soft songs (She’s Mine Pt. 1 and 2, about his wife and his newborn daughter), and I was disappointed at the lack of depth in these two tracks. I wondered, why did he use two of the ten songs on this album for something as simple as this? Especially with hardly any lyrics on them (which is why I consider them interludes). But as I look back on his purpose of the album, these two songs set the tone, and the fact that they’re called She’s Mine”, shows their significance. For an album about running out of time, and for an album about misunderstanding what’s real, and for an album about breaking generational curses, it only makes sense that he uses a big portion of the tracks to slow things down for a moment and acknowledge what’s truly important. While I’m too scared to expose myself, it turns out you know me better than I know myself.” On both of these songs, on Pt. 1 it’s the first words, and then on Pt. 2, it’s the last words, where puts it as simple as possibly: I never felt so alive.”



Pete and Sudi: Rekindling Lost Relationships

It’s been 12 years since I last seen my aunt and uncle. Time moves fast: years slip by, and then a decade—and then one day you wake up missing someone, wondering how did that much time get in the way of your relationship.

Last night, I surprised My Uncle Pete and my Aunt Sudi while they were performing at The Jolly In. They were both in awe to see me, and our conversations were effortless. It’ll be a night I never forget, and I believe we’ll now have a thriving relationship.

If there’s someone in your life that you’ve lost touch with, reach out to them before it’s too late.



Back to Dropbox: Organizing My Digital Files

I tried to move on from Dropbox, hopefully simplifying what services I use: since I already use iCloud for photos and certain apps on my phone, I thought I could get by with using iCloud to replace Dropbox too, this was a huge mistake. iCloud Drive is nowhere near ready for this type of task, maybe for some people, who don’t have many files to store, but for me, it caused confusion and clutter, and completely went against what I was aiming for. So, I went back to Dropbox, and I’m excited to have all of my files organized again, even more organized than before I left, since I’ve learned more about what works and what doesn’t.



Returning From The Blackout

In September, I decided to take a month-long break from my website, I called it November Blackout: the site was shut down for everyone but members. It was originally done to write my book, and even though I made great progress on the book, the month-long break turned out to be a true vacation from writing. Instead, I traveled a lot (flights, hiking trips, 16 hour car rides, etc.), I served in two weddings (best friend’s wedding and my cousin’s wedding), I caught up on sleep, and I ran many miles (calories kept winning the race though). The break became therapeutic for me, but it made me miss my site more than ever.

Intentionally taking a step back from something I’ve done for years now was refreshing, and it gave me a new perspective on writing. I really started to miss my daily outlet—and now, I realize how much I take it for granted, that online voice that I’ve established for myself. To be able to articulate my thoughts in real time, and then share those thoughts with anyone that follows me, is so important to me.

It feels good to be back.



The Noise

It’s too loud in here; this digital room, where all of my friends are hanging out, screaming at each other and waiting for attention. I came to enjoy their company, but the voices, the crowds of echoes—all at once, this volume is too loud.

I haven’t helped the situation either. In fact, I’ve made it worse. I’ve joined the party, and I’ve contributed enough noise to draw way too much attention to myself. Hey look at me, look at my friends, and look at what we created! So much noise, and the distortion is only getting louder.

Every Facebook post, article shared, Twitter link, Instagram pic, Snapchat story, Instant Message—there’s just so many ways to enter into a person’s thoughts in a single day—from every angle, we’re surrounded by voices. I notice you, I see that you’re having a good time, I liked it for you. Look! You’ve almost reached your daily like goal, congrats!

How did we get to this point? How did we become so fixated on needing this daily attention? Why do we send a selfie every hour, reminding someone what we look like, as if they’ve forgotten our face that fast? This can’t be healthy.

As I declutter many areas of my life, I wanted to point my attention towards the noise: to recognize it, to analyze it, and to take that imaginary volume knob, and turn it to the left until I hear nothing. Imagine a crowded street in a busy city, and now picture it vacant. What was loud and filled with sirens and yelling and music, is now quiet enough to hear the birds passing by. Removing the distractions should be the end goal, reaching ultimate clarity. I know you’re out there, I see your digital lips moving, but I can no longer hear you. It’s now quiet, I can hear myself thinking, and I am now at peace.

See also: I Use To Be A Human Being

Every hour I spent online was not spent in the physical world. Every minute I was engrossed in a virtual interaction I was not involved in a human encounter. Every second absorbed in some trivia was a second less for any form of reflection, or calm, or spirituality. Multitasking” was a mirage. This was a zero-sum question. I either lived as a voice online or I lived as a human being in the world that humans had lived in since the beginning of time.



Diversifying My Income

I’ve been thinking about this for awhile now, and I’m finally at a point where I can go about this with confidence. Diversifying my income: the goal is to get to (or above) my current 100% of income, while creating a more flexible schedule. This will give me a change of pace and even more responsibilities.

I’m going part-time at AT&T, so now I’ll have time for a variety of other jobs and projects. I’ll also continue building up my own areas of income from this website (membership, shirts, albums, concerts, books, etc.). I look at all of this from the perspective of an entrepreneur that wears many hats, with many areas of focus throughout the day.

Right now, all of my eggs are in one basket: AT&T covers 90% of my income, and my website covers the other 10%. On my calendar, there’s a bunch of small one/two-hour blocks (meetings, events, small groups, etc.) that I move through each day. These blocks keep my energy level high. There’s motion, momentum, progress—but between these short bursts, there’s this long ten-hour block that brings that momentum to a standstill.

I started thinking of ways to fix this: what if I could break this long ten-hour block into two five-hour blocks? Even if it equals the same amount of income, it would help with the pacing of my day, and allow me to reach the goal of expanding my pie chart into multiple pieces. So instead of 90/10, I’ll start shifting this pie chart to 50%, 30%, and 20%.

To make up for that 30% that I’ll be losing by going part-time, I did some brainstorming on several types of jobs that would fit my needs: I’ve considered Uber, Real Estate, waiting tables, and coffee shops. I recently finished editing a commercial for an advertising company, so I’ve also considered freelancing. But ultimately, I now have this sense of purpose that I hadn’t had before now. I feel like a free agent in a professional sports league, as I open myself up to the world, and not only ask for a job, but offer my services to someone, knowing that I offer tremendous value. I’m confident that my personality, sales and management experience, as well as my knowledge with technology, will allow me to create a more flexible schedule for myself, as I continue to grow as a person. It’s time to take that jump.



Carol: how my grandma impacted my life

Dates are updated for current year

Tuesday (September 12th) makes three years since my grandmother passed away. I didn’t realize this last night when commenting on a Facebook post. A friend mentioned her, and then I replied saying that she impacted my life every way imaginable. When I woke up this morning, I started thinking, exactly how did she impact my life? What made her so special to me? The more I started thinking about these questions, the more memories started coming back to me. And that’s when it hit me, and that’s when I realized that I was two days away from the anniversary of her death. I miss her so much.


Time: All of my years growing up were measured in time by her visits. She lived in Arkansas, and while most kids spend their years planning for Christmas to hurry up and get here, my years were measured by when Maw Maw Carol would be in town. Even as a kid, there was this void in my life until she returned again.

Photography: She’s the reason I love photography so much. She couldn’t afford much, but there isn’t a moment in my life (that I can recall) where she didn’t have her camera/camcorder with her. She treasured that gadget more than anything. The same way we carry our smartphones with us and use it constantly, that’s the way she carried her camera/camcorder. She was always ready to record that next memory to take back to Arkansas with her. She always understood the importance of capturing a moment.

Music: My music. She was my biggest fan. So much so that for the last decade she stopped calling me Jr and instead started calling me nashp. I kept her in mind at all times when writing and recording. I knew she was always listening, so I didn’t want to let her down. Also, I kept my manners and remained respectful as I made music, as if she was in the room with me.

Happiness: She was the happiest person I knew. She was always smiling, always laughing, and always seeing the best in people. The world needs more people like her. People that can remain positive and hopeful through it all.

Family: She was the foundation for our family. Family members that haven’t seen each other in awhile came together when she was around. Exes that are no longer with the family would stop by and visit just because she was in town. If you knew her, you looked forward to spending time with her. She made you a better person.



Dear Younger Me

Writing assignment: write a 500 word letter to a younger version of yourself.

This assignment makes me uncomfortable. I took some of my biggest vulnerabilities and summed them up in 500 words, as I wrote a letter to a version of myself that is 10 years younger.


Dear younger me,

Congrats! You just turned twenty. I’m writing you tell you that you’re going to be ok. The path you’re on is fine. The people you have in your life are great. Your decision-making is good. And with all that being said, the mask you’re showing the world is flawless. And you and I both know you’re far from flawless. I’ve watched you remain in the shadows, scared to show the world the weak areas of your life. I’ve watched you put up walls, preventing the world from seeing the other side of it, basically protecting yourself from someone feeling anything but positive of you. You’ve been hiding. Your insecurities and ability to put up walls will always haunt you if you don’t learn to let go of this desire for perfection.

Get out of your shell

You’ve always been so close to a breakthrough, but the problem is: you’ve played it safe for too long. Go out there and take some chances. Get out there and learn names. You’ll spend a decade telling people you’re an introvert and you suck at remembering names, but I’ve watched you prove that you’re neither of those things. You turned 30 and within just a few months, you became outspoken and could name every person in the room. Nothing changed, other than your ability to be intentional. Don’t look at your flaws and put a label on them, chalking them up as who you are. Instead, work on those areas of your life. You’re a work in progress, but the progress will never come if you’ve established your weaknesses and continually promote them as absolutes.

Forgive those that hurt you

I’ve watched you spend a decade making art out of the negatives in your life. And although that art turned out to be powerful, you were basically dwelling. Instead of talking about your family’s shortcomings, find ways to build them up. Find ways to empower them. If you’re going to make art about your their flaws, in that same art, make sure to have an answer for them as well—and make sure to be right there with them as they’re trying to find those answers. You’re no better than them. You’ve been in a hole before, and it would’ve been impossible for you to climb out of it if you had someone publicly being creative about the things that are keeping you down.

Write, write, write

I’m proud of you for being creative, but I’ve watched you spend too many days, weeks, months, and years not writing. Find a pen, find a keyboard, and put words down. Once you’ve written them, they can never be taken away from you. But only having your ideas as thoughts, with nothing to show for it, will only leave you with regret. If there’s a problem in your life, write about it. Take this maze in your mind and find your way out through words. It’s the only way.



Writing, Archives, Friends

I have so many blog posts that I’m currently working on. Can’t wait to share them with you. I could remember earlier this year, when I had nothing to say. I couldn’t think of anything to write about on my site. I didn’t stress over it though, I knew it wasn’t my season to say anything. But now, that season is definitely over, because words are pouring out of me. I feel like everything is finally clicking. As a writer, that’s the best feeling in the world.

I want to tell you about a page that I’ve never talked about before: nashp.com/archives — It’s where I’ll start organizing my favorite tags (like the Featured Posts, or Guest Posts, or the new Minimalism one). You can also get a full list of every post, with just the titles, allowing you to easily find older ones. I use this page a lot to quickly grab a link and share it.

What I’m trying to say is…if you’ve ever enjoyed my writing or my music, you’re in luck, because I feel more inspired than I ever have in my entire life. A huge thanks goes to Joseph , John, Chase, Devin, and Stu. Just a few guys that come to mind right away. They’re part of the reason I’m on fire right now. They think I’m helping them, but they have no idea. They’re the ones actually helping me.



Rolling Shirts and Letting Go of Hangers

When I got home from work last night, my plan was to relax and watch some movies and just take it easy, since I never get the chance to. But then I stumbled upon this video.

I immediately turned the lights on, dragged my nightstand near the television, grabbed all of my hanged clothes, and within 20 seconds of getting excited about this idea, I was rolling my wardrobe and making a pile of hangers. (Also watched this video during folding everything.)

How cool is it that hangers is something I’ve had my entire life, and now I can let them go.



The easiest way to organize your stuff is to get rid of most of it

https://twitter.com/TheMinimalists/status/768774675770011648

I’ve cut my possessions down to about 70% from last year. Studying minimalism has been one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made. It’s helped with my peace and anxiety—It was one of many steps I’ve taken to improve my life.

I can’t stress this enough: you don’t need as much as you think. When I bought a new pair of shoes a few months back, I got rid of almost all of my other shoes. I only kept one pair of dress shoes, one pair of basketball shoes, and then my new everyday shoes. Since buying my everyday shoes though, it’s been the only pair of shoes I’ve put on. The other two are technically not even needed, but I’m a basketball player, and if I get invited somewheres nice, I’ll need more than tennis shoes.

I’ll be talking about this a lot more going forward, but this tweet inspired me to share some thoughts on the matter.



My Thoughts on Blonde, Frank Ocean’s New Album

Frank Ocean’s album, titled Blonde, came out this past weekend. It’s been four years since his last album, Channel Orange (which is one of my favorite albums ever). I’ve been eagerly waiting for his follow up ever since. It’s finally here, and needless to say, it doesn’t disappoint.

In fact, I consider it even better than Channel Orange. Frank taps into more complex emotions, as the album isn’t as black and white as Channel Orange was. There’s so many abstract moments throughout the 17 songs that I catch something new every time I listen, which is huge since it literally hasn’t stopped playing on my phone for days. As soon as the last song ends, the first song starts, and even when I’m busy and can’t pay attention to it, it’s still playing in the background. The reason it hasn’t gotten old yet is because Frank didn’t focus on the traditional verse, hook, verse, hook format. In each song, there’s no telling what happens next. Stories are constantly moving. From beginning to end there’s a nonstop sense of progression.

The album starts with Nikes”, which incapsulates the album on its own. That entire song is a build up, from the words to the production, and even the adjusted pitch in his voice, chipmunk sounding. But you know that you’ve finally arrived inside of the album, three minutes in, when the pitch is corrected by his natural voice, and the first words you hear from him are, We’ll let you guys prophesy.” This is the beginning, this is when the story starts, as if those first three minutes were a tunnel, traveling towards him for those first words, we’ll let you guys prophesy.

There’s a level of detail throughout the entire album. His thoughts are all over the place. One song could be about a dozen different things—they’re all well thought out, but with a sense of calmness and patience. And that’s what I appreciate most about this album, the controlled chaos. It’s rare to see an artist take so many risk on an album, but yet still be in complete control.



Thoughts On My Next President

I’ll start this by stating the obvious: my opinion is just my opinion. It has zero power, and shouldn’t matter to you, especially if you’re one of those people that thrive on political debates. I’m not the one to debate with. You’ll lose—or win, depending on how you look at it, because I simply don’t care enough to reply. So nothing to see here, move along. This post is just some words I typed on my iPhone.

With that being said, let’s begin.


Hillary Clinton is in this position by default, with no competition, and her popularity increased when she became the alternative to Donald Trump. Pick your poison. Lose lose.

Donald Trump, and basically this entire election, shows where we are as a society: loud and quick to react without anything thoughtful to say—and then those listening will react to that reaction, without anything thoughtful to say. The notion that because you’re louder doesn’t mean you win anything. It just means you haven’t left any air in the room for anyone else to speak.

My president is supposed to be someone I look up to. Someone that I’m proud to stand behind. My president should have class. Instead, I look at both of these candidates like they’re the villain in a superhero movie. I’m scared of them. I look at them like they’re a joke, with zero sincerity.

I’ve always been the last one to judge a person. I try my best to see the good in someone, and even when the rest of the world is doubting them, I’m cheering them on, waiting for them to beat the odds. So I know there’s a problem here when I’m judging these two the way I am.

To sum this up: I don’t trust my next president. That statement is as scary as it gets.



Pallet Bookshelf

BookshelfBookshelf

My mom built this bookshelf out of pallets. Even though it’s already hanging on my wall, it’s still a work in progress: the middle shelf needs to come out a little more so the books don’t fall off, and I’m still deciding on what I should fill the rest of the spaces with (most of the things on there now are just place holders). But I wanted to show off what a great job my mom is doing on all these little projects I give her.

My new hobby is transforming different areas of my room, and it’s because of her that these ideas are coming to life.



About my friend, Chase Toups, and how God is working in his life

I’m still learning how to have faith, and I’m still learning how to believe in you, and how to have a relationship with you. But what I have learned, and what I’m most thankful for, is the relationship you’ve had with my friend, Chase Toups. The transformation you’ve done on him has made me believe in you more than anything else.

It’s humbled me, and it’s shown me that no matter how dark it gets, there’s always light waiting for us. His new excitement and glow leaves us all wanting the same. It’s contagious. Every week at Cross Church, a new friend of his is sitting with us. That’s the only proof needed: you’re not only changing his life, you’re also changing everyone else’s around him.



2016 Goals

I have many things I’d like to accomplish in 2016. Here’s a list of them:

Big Goals: these are goals that are non-negotiable, no excuse to me.

Small Goals: many of these are on my list to do, and I have every intention to finish them, but they’re not as critical to me as the above three.



2015

Looking back at this year, it was a quiet one. And peaceful. I had way too many years filled with chaos, so my only goal for 2015 was to simplify the things around me, not dwell on the things I don’t have, and fully embrace and appreciate the blessings I’m surrounded with.

Tons of writing, reflecting, and recording also.

This year was one where I started to accept who I am today, while still setting myself up to grow tomorrow.

I’ve lost people.

I’ve also gained people. People that have always been there, but the relationship wasn’t as good as it should’ve been. Instead of searching for people that I don’t have, I’ve opened my arms and heart to people that have always been right in front of me.

When I look back at 2015, I’ll remember it as the year that I created the runway for my life: from the people around me, to the goals that I’ve set for myself, to the unnecessary baggage that I let go of—it’s the year that prepared me to fly.



TJ

tjtj

I can remember as kids, you’d ride your bike to my house. You’d stop by to see my brother or my cousin. And we’d always talk. Even as kids, respect was there.

As teenagers, you’d stop by my house for the latest Chamillionaire and Swishahouse mixtapes. It became a mutual thing we’d talk about.

As time went on, your family and my family became close. Whether my mom and the kids were at your house, or whether your family was at my house—for many years, it was a weekly thing for us to see each other.

I also started knowing you as the guy that could cut my hair at any time, any location. Whenever I needed a cut, no matter the time, you were there.

When I was dating Lindsey—your ex and the person you have a daughter with—she’d fuss about you, and I’d have to be careful, because I’d usually take up for you, and then we’d start fussing.

And most recently, the night before my interview with AT&T, I needed another last-minute hair cut, and you were there to take care of it for me, as usual. This was in March, and it was the last time I saw you.

When I combine all of these little moments together, they turn into something important to me. You were someone that was in my life for many years. And even though we weren’t the closest, that respect and friendship never wavered.

I wrote all of this as I reflect on your life and prepare for your funeral. Just wanted to let you know that you’ll definitely be missed.



Dad’s Jacket

It was almost two years ago when I dropped my dad off in Texas to serve his time. We hugged and told each other bye as if he was going to work and I’d see him later. (It’ll be many years before I see him again.)

When I arrived back at home, his black leather jacket was still hung over the kitchen chair. I decided to leave it there, so when I’d walk into the kitchen, I’d think of him.

Months and months passed, and then a year, and that jacket was still there. A few times I even passed it and talked to it: What’s up Dad.”

But when I woke up this morning, I sent him a message, letting him know that his jacket is about to be donated to someone who needs it much more than we do.

As sentimental as the jacket is, it’s not doing us any good by just hanging around the house as a memory. The jacket mission we’re doing is the perfect time to part ways with it, get closure, and help someone in need.


If you have a jacket that isn’t being used—no matter what you’re holding onto it for—let it go. You don’t need it as much as you think do.



75 Year Old’s First Vacation

I’ve spent the last few weeks, helping my friend, Jason Pellegrin, plan and build a GoFundMe page. I’ve never done one of these before, but I knew the magnitude they can hold. That’s what took me so long to polish it up and get it just right.

I’ve seen them change people’s lives. But I’ve also seen them fade away silently, without hardly any money being donated. I believe it always comes down to clarity. Don’t try to be cute, don’t ask for something you wouldn’t be willing to donate for yourself. All of these thoughts were in my head as we built this.

My goal was to get in and get out…give your purpose for the page, tell some backstory, ask for help from those that care, and then leave room for the person on the other side of the screen to breathe and decide on helping.


I helped Jason, not only because he’s a great friend of mine who I lean on for many things, and not because his grandmother deserves this vacation, but a thought that stuck out in my head, was my grandmother, who passed away last year. I kept her mind as I worked on this. I put her in the shoes of Jason’s grandma, and I believe she had my back as I wrote, edited, and polished the words you’re about to read.

To be clear, I only created from a template of what Jason gave me. His heart and plans live in every sentence, I just turned those sentences into something engaging and challenging for you as the reader. The challenge is simple: get his grandma to Colorado. And not just his grandma, but do it for your grandma. If she’s still around, ask her if it’s a good idea for you to help Jason out. If she’s not around, well, I’m pretty sure you know what her answer would be.

Here’s the link, I’ll leave you two alone now.



Blot

https://youtu.be/\_k2NQNj9-LE

I stumbled upon Blot a few days ago. I’ve been rebuilding my site to work on it ever since. It checks off everything I want in a blogging platform, mainly allowing me to do these two things really well:

  1. Write from iPhone
  2. Manage and run from Dropbox

A bonus that I wasn’t expecting: just by adding a YouTube link to my writing, it transforms into the actual video for you to watch.

Here’s to new inspiration and easy blogging. Thanks, David.



The Impossible

I’m committed to growing as a person. Creatively, financially, spiritually . . . It’s weird that college wasn’t in the cards for me, but yet education and constantly learning new things is a passion of mine. I’m addicted to progress. The smallest amount of success shows me a dim light at the end of the tunnel, letting me know that the impossible is actually closer than I thought.

It’s not about the circumstances we’re placed in, people use those as excuses on why they can’t overcome the impossible. It’s all about the will to accomplish goals and dreams. If you can imagine it, then simply chip away at it. I’ve always done that with basketball. I’ve always done that with my music. I’ve always done that with writing at nashp.com. I have many new goals, which are private, but I’m now seeing that light at the end of the tunnel. That light signifies progress, which only pushes me to move faster and more aggressively.

I see too many people going through life complacent and following what others are doing. That’s fine for them, but I know that I only have this one life, and I plan to make the best of it for everyone around me.

Some see success as money or popularity. Success for me is growing as a person, and I’m proud to say that I’m never satisfied with who I was yesterday. I’m always challenging myself to do the impossible. It’s funny though, whatever that impossible was a year ago, now sits comfortably in my pocket under my control. Keep chipping away at what’s hard until you refer to it as what’s easy.

The impossible doesn’t come by knowing everything. The loudest person in the room usually knows the least. It’s the quiet ones that question every answer—even his own—those are the ones that understand self-growth. Being curious and open-minded about the world around me has consistently changed how I see things. You gain an appreciation for not knowing something, it humbles you and allows the influencers to step in and teach you different things about life. I’m always inspired by what I don’t know.

It’s never too late to find the things you’re passionate about. Think big. Create huge goals that might feel impossible. Now break those huge goals down to a bunch of small ones, until you have Next-Actions after Next-Actions. Don’t focus on building the house, but rather a chair. Don’t focus on tackling mountains of clothes, but rather the socks. Execute the smallest details and enjoy your day. The following day, zero in on what’s next. Eventually, every day will be spent accomplishing goals from a variety of areas in your life, which are all slowly turning the impossibles into just another goal.

I’m thankful for always finding new impossibles. It’s allowed me to turn my flaws into strengths, and I’m a better person because of it.



The Impossible

I’m committed to growing as a person. Creatively, financially, spiritually . . . It’s weird that college wasn’t in the cards for me, but yet education and constantly learning new things is a passion of mine. I’m addicted to progress. The smallest amount of success shows me a dim light at the end of the tunnel, letting me know that the impossible is actually closer than I thought.

It’s not about the circumstances we’re placed in, people use those as excuses on why they can’t overcome the impossible. It’s all about the will to accomplish goals and dreams. If you can imagine it, then simply chip away at it. I’ve always done that with basketball. I’ve always done that with my music. I’ve always done that with writing at nashp.com. I have many new goals, which are private, but I’m now seeing that light at the end of the tunnel. That light signifies progress, which only pushes me to move faster and more aggressively.

I see too many people going through life complacent and following what others are doing. That’s fine for them, but I know that I only have this one life, and I plan to make the best of it for everyone around me.

Some see success as money or popularity. Success for me is growing as a person, and I’m proud to say that I’m never satisfied with who I was yesterday. I’m always challenging myself to do the impossible. It’s funny though, whatever that impossible was a year ago, now sits comfortably in my pocket under my control. Keep chipping away at what’s hard until you refer to it as what’s easy.

The impossible doesn’t come by knowing everything. The loudest person in the room usually knows the least. It’s the quiet ones that question every answer—even his own—those are the ones that understand self-growth. Being curious and open-minded about the world around me has consistently changed how I see things. You gain an appreciation for not knowing something, it humbles you and allows the influencers to step in and teach you different things about life. I’m always inspired by what I don’t know.

It’s never too late to find the things you’re passionate about. Think big. Create huge goals that might feel impossible. Now break those huge goals down to a bunch of small ones, until you have Next-Actions after Next-Actions. Don’t focus on building the house, but rather a chair. Don’t focus on tackling mountains of clothes, but rather the socks. Execute the smallest details and enjoy your day. The following day, zero in on what’s next. Eventually, every day will be spent accomplishing goals from a variety of areas in your life, which are all slowly turning the impossibles into just another goal.

I’m thankful for always finding new impossibles. It’s allowed me to turn my flaws into strengths, and I’m a better person because of it.



Removing the Clutter

I’ve simplified my life: I now have less, but it definitely feels like I have more. I guess it’s because I removed anything that didn’t mean much to me—and now, all that’s left is what I treasure deeply. I’ve learned that if you strip away the clutter, only then will you truly appreciate the smaller things that matter the most.

So what exactly is clutter? Clutter can be unneeded possessions that are piling up and getting in the way of the things you’re excited about. Clutter can be people. Clutter can be the past that follows you, and whispers in your ear as you try to move forward with life. Above all, clutter prevents you from feeling free.

When your home and your heart are filled with junk, it makes it hard to breathe. But getting rid of that burden can be the most invigorating moment in your life—and when it happens, it’s as if a layer of film has been removed from your eyes, and every color in the world is now brighter and louder than ever before. Life becomes beautiful again.

You know you are doing well when you lose the interest of looking back.



Seeing Progress With My Workouts

This month, I simplified my workouts and my goals for what I want. As someone who never lifted weights, doing a complete workout seemed out of my reach for the moment. I tried to follow some routines, but nothing seemed to stick.

So I gave myself four daily routines to do:

With these four daily routines, I’m aiming to accomplish a few things:

Those four things might not seem like much, but the pull-ups have become much easier, those Dumbbells are beginning to feel lighter, and now I’m becoming quicker with my runs, as well as with my push-ups.

I feel my chest and my biceps getting tighter and are they’re starting to show some definition. I’m still only at the beginning phase of these goals, but just to see and feel results, that’s a good feeling that I’ve never felt.

I’ve always been in basketball shape, but anything other than that has been too far away and foreign for me to imagine. It feels good to be just a little closer to these goals.



Getting Things Done (GTD)

I’ve been studying Getting Things Done (GTD) for years now, and anytime my life becomes overwhelming or too stressful, the very first thing I do is put all of my attention on my GTD setup1. My setup is simply all the areas of my life that I consider important—such as short and long term goals. I’ve been planning to write about GTD, but it’s a very detailed system to explain. Luckily though, I stumbled upon Joe Buhlig’s blog.

Joe Buhlig:

This is the start of a series of posts about GTD. It’s a system developed (or discovered depending on how you look at it) by David Allen in the book by the same name with the great subtitle The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.” It’s a framework that solves our problem with stuff.”

Joe then explains Mind Like Water:

The main goal behind GTD is to free up your mind. As David Allen likes to say, Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.” If you get things out of your head and into your trusted system, you can focus your mind on the task at hand or the person in front of you as opposed to remembering what you need to do next. It’s a way of bringing yourself back to the present because you’re not worrying about all the things you have to do.

If you throw a rock into a calm pond, you see a splash and then some ripples start to form. The water reacts to forces around it in that moment and then slowly returns to its original state. GTD is a way to give your mind that ability. Getting things out of your mind and into a trusted system allows you to react to the new things coming at you and then return to your original state.

If any of this sounds like something you’d be interested in—which I highly recommend giving it a try (it’s the only way I know how to be productive)—here’s a series of posts that break it all down for you.

  1. Getting Things Done: Introduction
  2. Getting Things Done: Capture
  3. Getting Things Done: Clarify
  4. Getting Things Done: Organize
  5. Getting Things Done: Reflect
  6. Getting Things Done: Engage
  7. Getting Things Done: A Day in the Life

  1. Which lives inside of OmniFocus.



Getting in Shape

My daily lifestyle has changed a lot over the years. Because of lack of time, lower metabolism, etc.—it’s been much harder for me to stay in shape. I don’t do the New Years Resolution thing like most people, but since this year started, I’ve been privately pushing myself to get into the best shape of my life. I’ve been waking up a few hours early (5am to be exact), to run, play basketball, or workout.

And for the past few days, I’ve been doing P90X3, a 30 minute workout, with videos to follow along to. This has been a helpful (and painful) starter-kit for me. But I’m confident that after this 90 day schedule, I’ll have created good habits to workout without needing those videos.

If you have tips or would like to join me on this journey, please, get in touch.



First Day of Cross Church

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January 18th, 2015. Note to self.



Remembering Carol

There’s a blue blanket that covers the entire casket. It lays on top of her as she begins to rest. On that blanket, there’s pictures of all the people she’s impacted throughout her years.

There’s also a memorial video that I made. It’s only 11 minutes long, but as you watch it, you can easily see that she lived a beautiful life.

The best way to remember her is to look at her family. There are so many of us, all with different personalities and agendas. It’s because of her that we’re all here, and it’s because of her that we were raised to love. Her compassion and genuine happiness will always echo through our hearts.


how my grandma impacted my life

Time: All of my years growing up were measured in time by her visits. She lived in Arkansas, and while most kids spend their years planning for Christmas to hurry up and get here, my years were measured by when Maw Maw Carol would be in town. Even as a kid, there was this void in my life until she returned again.

Photography: She’s the reason I love photography so much. She couldn’t afford much, but there isn’t a moment in my life (that I can recall) where she didn’t have her camera/camcorder with her. She treasured that gadget more than anything. The same way we carry our smartphones with us and use it constantly, that’s the way she carried her camera/camcorder. She was always ready to record that next memory to take back to Arkansas with her. She always understood the importance of capturing a moment.

Music: My music. She was my biggest fan. So much so that for the last decade she stopped calling me Jr and instead started calling me nashp. I kept her in mind at all times when writing and recording. I knew she was always listening, so I didn’t want to let her down. Also, I kept my manners and remained respectful as I made music, as if she was in the room with me.

Happiness: She was the happiest person I knew. She was always smiling, always laughing, and always seeing the best in people. The world needs more people like her. People that can remain positive and hopeful through it all.

Family: She was the foundation for our family. Family members that haven’t seen each other in awhile came together when she was around. Exes that are no longer with the family would stop by and visit just because she was in town. If you knew her, you looked forward to spending time with her. She made you a better person.



Becoming Pretty Boy

kipkip

Kip Pretty Boy” Butcher. You could call him my friend, but a friend is someone you meet during your life and become close to. But that’s the thing, I can’t remember when I actually met Kip. It seems as if he’s always been in my life. I think I was four when we became friends. All I truly know is that he’s always been there.

Following Kip

Throughout my life, I’ve seen him transform into so many different people. I can tell you this, for most of my younger years, I was always a step behind him, following and copying every move he’d make. He’s a few years older than me, so his head-start, with friends, sports, music, girls, and even style, was something I followed.

He taught me what cool” was, although unfortunately, he introduced me to the bowl-cut hairstyle—please don’t find pictures. He taught me how to play pool (and after a few weeks, we rarely played again). The skating rink, the movies, and getting in trouble at the mall: Kip was that childhood friend that parents warned their kids about.

He always had the new albums, introducing me to some of the most influential artist out there. It’s because of him that I knew who Outkast was. Three Six Mafia was his favorite. I remember purchasing Juvenile’s 400 Degreez cassette tape, only for Kip to arrive at my house with the CD version of that album (welcome to the future, Nash). I just couldn’t keep up with the guy.

He taught me how to be competitive—and because I attempted to outdo him in every category, I eventually learned how unimportant that actually was. And by being in competition with him for so many years, I learned that the true competition was with myself. I began following things I was passionate about, rather than following what others enjoyed.

Becoming Pretty Boy

All through school, he was known as a great football player. After school, he went into a semi-pro league, until breaking his leg, which ultimately ended his football career. I thought his days of being physical were over, but he became a Mixed Martial Arts fighter (learning jujitsu, boxing, and kickboxing) and reinvented himself once again.

All fighters need a nickname, an alias, and Kip decided on Pretty Boy, of all names. But it stuck. Now, that’s what people know him as. Not as a football player. Not the insurance salesman, or the car salesman, but as Pretty Boy: the fighter.

This video was filmed and edited by Brandon Stouff. Great job. Keep growing.


This story was written to say that, it doesn’t matter what you were known as, or what you’re currently known as—or if you’re even known at all. What does matter is that you’re not scared to grow and reinvent yourself.

All of the people that will know this new you, may never even learn about the old you. They’ll only know the you that you’re currently showing them. So any moment now, you can introduce them to the person you want to be.



Kids - helping them grow

Kids are a gift to us all. It should be exciting to watch them grow and learn new things. We have an opportunity to change the world, one kid a time. It’s a domino effect: one child headed down the wrong path slowly turns into ten, until eventually, all of the kids around us are lost.

As you get older you realize that the cool parents were actually just bad parents.

This post is for:

These are future role models for the next generation. We should be more considerate of what they’re exposed to. I created a small list of things that I consider important.

I hope to be of use to you.

Time: make time for them. It’s not enough just be in the same room as them. Quality time is key here. Giving them your undivided attention will teach them how to be in the moment and enjoy the people around them. Put down your phone and say hello. Make eye contact with them. Let them know that you actually see them.

Laugh: find ways to make them laugh. The simplest things can make a kid crack up. Help them find the humor in life.

Honesty: reward them for their honesty. Even if they’re in the wrong, let them know that it’s better to be wrong and honest, than right and lie. No matter how big or small the lie is, it’s still a lie.

Chores: as early as possible in their little lives, give them chores. The simplest duties will teach them responsibilities. It could be to put a napkin by every chair before dinner is served. It could be to turn off a light as soon as they exit the room. Whatever chore you decide to give them, stick with it. These are the moments that’ll follow them their entire lives.

Read and Write: read books with them. Before bed or before the bus passes in the morning. Stories last longer than any toy ever could. Also, write with them: It’ll start with their names. Then it’ll be a complete sentence. Before long, when it’s time for chores, they’ll be excused from them if they can write you a one page story.

Patience: this world moves too fast for us. Help them understand that there’s value in waiting for things. These kids will get older and think that what they want should arrive instantly. Teach them that fast doesn’t last. If it takes time, it will usually stick around longer.

Discipline: as much as you want to be your child’s best friend, the worst thing you can do is not discipline them enough. It’s important that you teach them right from wrong. Not just the big right from wrongs, but the little ones too. Be consistent rather than constant. There’s no need to always correct them. Instead, show them the core values of discipline.

Problem Solving: as a parent, the first thing you’ll want to do is help your child when they get stuck on something—don’t. Let them think things through and figure out how to overcome challenges on their own. Video games were great for me when it came to problem solving. At the age of 4, beating Super Mario was one of the first problems I solved on my own. Allow them to think they can do it. They might realize they can’t, and then get frustrated, but ultimately, it’s important for them to find ways around that particular problem.

Calm: teach them how to carry themselves in a calm manner. Whether that’s asking for something, or when they have a problem. Help them understand that yelling or being loud in those situations don’t work in their favor. The best way to get their point across is to do it calmly.

Love: most importantly, show them how to love. This starts with yourself. Love your life, love raising your children, and let them see that it’s a pleasure being their parent. If all they’re seeing is negative things, they’ll grow up being a product of their environment. Show them that the smallest things in this world can be beautiful.



My Nanny Sheila

My Nanny Sheila has always been an important person in my life. At times, when the world would get hectic for me, her simple, calm personality would be my rock to escape to. We all have that one person in our family that understands us more than anyone else, and for me, that’s my Nanny.

Many things that you see in me, are things that she’s taught me through her own life. Consistency and gracefully living are two of the main ones: you can be the person that switches lanes eight times to get to the red light, or you can enjoy the lane you’re currently in, and without rushing, still beat the person that was speeding through traffic. That’s my Nanny Sheila.

I’m thankful for her guidance through moments of confusion.



Lap One: the toy and the survivor

There’s something we can take away from each day of our lives. Some kind of story to tell. If you keep a sharp focus on what the people around you are saying, something funny or inspiring might jump out at you. If you go into each day searching for a story, your perspective on the day changes. The story doesn’t have to be this grand, silver-lining type of story. Something small and subtle is just fine. The trick is to take ordinary moments in your life and find the humor in them. For instance:

The other day, me and my mom were playing phone tag. After many calls back and forth, I finally got through to her, only to find out that she wasn’t the person I was playing phone tag with. It was my little sister, Nevaeh. She was expecting us to go swimming, like we agreed upon. Not only did she not forget, she tried calling me five times so I wouldn’t forget. This was apparently a big deal to her.


That’s one scene from that day. I challenge myself to take a small moment and pull as much detail as possible from it. This causes me to have a better focus in the moment, and actually be present to recall those small details.


When I walked up to the swimming pool, Nevaeh was already waiting for me. She was playing with a toy that was meant to be thrown around in the pool; it had enough weight in it so that after throwing it, it would sink to the bottom of the pool. Nevaeh held her breathe and dove underwater to get it.

I told her that I was about to do some laps around the pool because it’s good exercise. She agreed and wanted to join me. The pool was long and setup for swimmers who swam fast and for long periods of time. This inspired me. Even though I’m not a good swimmer, I swam as fast as I could to the other side (which probably wasn’t that fast at all), and once I reached the wall, I looked back and waited for Nevaeh. She wasn’t even halfway there yet—even though we started around the same time—but she had a proud and confident look on her face. Speed wasn’t her challenge, but swimming all the way to the other side was. After several breaks to catch her breathe, she finally made it to the other side. I gave her a high-five, and took off to the other side. Lap one was almost done. Nevaeh followed.

Once my lap was complete, I waited for her again. This time, though, she didn’t take any breaks. It took her twice as long, but she was determined not to stop. Almost there. I reached my hand out and pulled her in. She did it. She was out of breathe, and I thought about how good this was for her, and maybe we can start doing this more often. A good bonding moment for both of us, which will also keep us in shape.

The thought of this motivated me. I told her how good she was doing, and it’s time for lap two. She looked at me like the person in the movie that takes one for the team, and tells the other person to just go, and save yourself. Nevaeh spit the water out of her mouth, attempted to catch her breathe, and replied, You go. I’m gonna wait for you right here and play with my toy until you get back.”



Merry Christmas, Brayden

This kid is full of life and is always curious and adventurous. Legos, remote helicopters, four wheelers: he does all of these things like a six year old, but he’s only three. I love how clear his sentences are now—I can have great conversations with him that are very entertaining. It’s always a pleasure to hang out with him.



Giving Nevaeh My iPad for Christmas

I decided to give Nevaeh, my 8 year old sister, my iPad mini for Christmas. She told mom that she wants her own. Mom already told me she isn’t getting her one, she said she already spent enough on her for Christmas.

But if a kid wants an iPad, who am I to stand in their way? All kids should own two things: a toothbrush and an iPad—since there isn’t an app that’ll replace the toothbrush just yet.

I’ll spend the next 24 hours setting up the iPad to fit the things she likes. I know how happy this will make her, and I can’t think of a better person to give this to.



The Machine — a love story

This is a story about love. Not your typical kind of love, but the love that is one sided and controlling. The kind of love that makes you more materialistic than ever, as the machine feeds off your vulnerabilities.

Everyone wants a voice, but what happens when we’re given too much voice, more than we actually know what to do with. Is that voice even ours anymore? The machine manipulated us to think that our voice matters. It gave us weapons to express ourselves: through blogs, through podcasts, through photo sharing sites — our voice, and freedom of expression was handed to us in the form of a buffet, and we took it and never looked back.

We became lost in a generation of voices. Everyone’s voice is now heard at the same time, with no filter, like the static coming through an old television set. The machine created chaos.

We’ve become attached to these services that directly ask us, What’s on your mind?”, as we watch our friends’ life through a digital screen, we have no choice but to reply.

We are all attached to the lifestyle of sharing our lifestyle.

Now, not only does our voice get lost in the echoes of other voices, but our quality of life is revealed to the public. One glimpse at any social network, and you’ll see who’s happy, who can afford to eat out every night, who frequently travels the world, or on the other end of spectrum, who has trouble spelling simple words.

Here,” the machine laughs. Here’s your voice.”



The Trampoline Trick

He jumped up and down on the trampoline, excited to be outside with his big brother. His cheeks were red and filled with joy from running in circles. He was wearing a yellow hoodie with stains from the smoothie he was drinking an hour ago. His shoes were navy blue converse that had scuffs on the tips. He wanted to show me his tricks.

He ran full speed and did a front flip, landing him on the wall of mesh that surrounded the trampoline.

Good Job, Brayden!” I yelled with excitement.

He stood up for his next trick. He jumped twice, clapped in the air, like a cheerleader, and then surprisingly did a three year old’s version of a toe touch.

It wasn’t the good dancing rhythm months prior, or the playing with his big sister’s barbies that caught my attention—but this cheerleader toe touch. It was at this point that I realized that he needed to hang out with his brothers a lot more. I couldn’t believe it.

He climbed off the trampoline steps, acknowledged his lost matchbox car in the grass and then ran inside.



Family and Friends

Family and friends. Don’t take those two for granted. I’ve seen new people and new items come into my life that seem fulfilling, but looking back, they were only temporary.

When you have someone that you’re close to, that knows you extremely well, and understands your goods and your bads, treasure that person. Let them know that you appreciate them.

We get caught up on these temporary things that seem fun, and we tend to forget about what truly matters.

We go through high moments, where everything feels perfect, or we go through low moments, where the world seems unfair and cold. The key is to find consistency and understand that everything will balance out.

Be spontaneous, but never forget about the people that are there for you no matter what direction your life is headed.



GTA III — A Child’s Perspective

I love seeing my six year old sister play Grand Theft Auto III on the iPad. Such a complex game, that required learning a PS2 controller when it was first released, is now much easier. Simply turn on the iPad, click the app, and begin exploring the massive world of New York. This is just one of many reasons why the iPad is changing the world.

Sure, I understand that this game is full of violence and things she shouldn’t be exposed to, but I see her playing this as a huge learning tool for her. Before being introduced to GTA, the only games she played were casual ones like Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja.

Hearing her tell me that she has to find her car and not use someone else’s, because she’ll get in trouble and go to jail, was simply priceless. Someone who plays GTA, but doesn’t try to steal cars, that’s unheard of.

When she showed me that she has to pick the lady up, and bring her to her house, not realizing that the nice lady was a prostitute, adds a whole new perspective to the game. She was just excited to play Taxi driver.

My next question to her was, Do you know how to defend yourself?” I’m not actually sure if this game rewards you for being a good citizen, or without understanding the punch button, your game experience will be a repetitive visit to the hospital.



Memories

Soon we will all be old. Each one of us. Time is something we let fly by, and life pauses for a second, asking us to look at it, and appreciate it, but we never do. And if we do appreciate it, it’s only a brief moment, then we scramble to get back to our chaotic life, where speed is all we know, and moments aren’t moments anymore, they are days, then weeks, then 20 years have gone by, and moments that we forgot to notice, are now absent.

As the mirror evolves, and we watch ourselves slowly change with age, if we stare a bit longer, we can remember a younger, more careless us. Hard times have made us wiser, and more serious, and we let go of the foolishness that once made us smile. Long ago, we were kids. We laughed. We didn’t have bills to worry about, only the next stage in Super Mario. But life is ruthless. It’s fighting to erase the old memories.

My mind flashes to condensed memories of me, around the age of four, following my dad as he filmed a Christmas night in our trailer. Nothing eventful happened in this moment, just my dad recording the family and walking around doing a tour of our proud home at the time, and I shadowed him for the attention of the video camera.

Just another memory slipping away. These writings preserve this one a bit longer.



Where is She?

Such a great party this was, everyone’s mingling. Catching up on each others lives. Through all the commotion, something seemed strange. The cute, sweet, innocent voice that I’m so used to hearing has been absent from all conversations. Where’s Nevaeh!?” I yell out. I scramble to the patio, look down, only to see her floaties on the fence. Oh No!” Running as fast as I can, even though I was screaming, the world has now become silent. All I hear is her voice in my head, asking why can’t I breathe?”

There she was, under water. The party’s still going on. Joking, laughing, everything a normal party would consist of. Only one thing stood out - a little girl drowning. The way my heart stopped beating, you would’ve thought I traded with her as soon as I spotted her. I quickly reached into the water, connecting with the 5 little fingers that I know so well. She found me. Not understanding what happen, her only reply was, I love you too.”




I’m Nash (beta 32). I write, record, and travel. Finishing up my first book. Become a member today.