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Guest Posts

These are stories from powerful people. They each have something special to share with you. Open up your heart as you read.


Table of Contents

  1. John LeBeouf
  2. Devin Wright
  3. Gilbert Marcel
  4. Ashley Samanie
  5. Rocky Angelette
  6. Chelsea Breaux
  7. Chip Autin
  8. Hayden Nicholson
  9. Adrian Craft
  10. Stu Babin
  11. Kassie Voisin
  12. Chelsea Verdin
  13. Janea Robling
  14. Alisha Autin

Share Your Story

I need your story. You don’t have to be a writer or be creative to share a story. These guest post have one job: give a voice to the voiceless. Talk about your favorite team or your favorite movie. Write about your new eating or workout habits. Share a few of your favorite pictures you’ve taken about a specific moment. Your story matters: big or small, long or short.

Someone told me they’re not worthy of telling their story. Another person told me nobody cares about that topic. I disagree with both statements. If not us, then who? And who will be able to tell it from your perspective? Our story is our own. It’s what sets us apart from the person next to us. It’s what makes us special.

If you have something you’d like to share, no matter how small, I’ll help you polish it up and present it to the world. It might feel like an overwhelming task, but I hope to show you how easy it actually is. My goal is to have very successful writers and creators sitting next to people you might’ve overlooked otherwise, and it’ll be hard to tell the difference, because each one just shared a story.

Get in touch



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.



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.



The NBA Regular Season Doesn’t Matter

The Houston RocketsThe Houston Rockets

If the regular season doesn’t matter, then there would be no Houston Rockets. It was because of this entire regular season that this Rockets team was born. Going into the season, everyone said that the Paul and Harden pairing wouldn’t work, and yet they ended the season with the best record in the league. (Nobody is talking about that now, though, as if they all predicted them to be this good.)

They dominated most of their opponents on a nightly basis, despite having key players miss large chunks of games. Because of this, the regular season showed their depth. With 15 different starting lineups throughout the year, they never missed a beat.

Those that say the regular season doesn’t matter are the same ones that said it was just the Warriors going forward, and no one else. A regular season later, the Warriors look vulnerable, as they work on getting healthy.

For those of you who are just tuning in, who have been absent since the previous NBA Finals, welcome. Just so you know, this isn’t last year’s Raptors, Cavs, Warriors, or Rockets, but you’d only know that because of the regular season.



The Way I Organize My iPad Apps

There’s three ways that I think about the apps on my iPad:

Folder 1: Apple Apps

These are the ones that are built into the iPad, like Photos, and Mail, and Settings. These live in a folder to the left of the dock.

Dock: Favorite Apps

These are the apps that are critical to my workflow, and I spend the most amount of time in. Like Ulysses, Things, Fantastical, and Tweetbot. I need them to be front and center for me to use right away.

Folder 2: Everything Else

These apps are still very important to me, but not as important as my dock apps. Netflix, 1Password, and YouTube are some of the apps that I often open the folder to get to.

Also: I turn off the suggested and recent apps feature for the dock, to keep random or recent apps from popping up on the side of my second folder.

Also: I’m always evaluating the apps I have downloaded. If I don’t need the app anymore, I get rid of it. All the apps I no longer need are always in the second folder, and usually in the back of the folder, because I move the ones I often use to the front.

Also: I use a similar thought process for the iPhone 1, with the two folder structure.




November Blackout

This is the second annual November Blackout. A month of silence: No publishing. No social networks. See you in December.



Guest Posts

These are stories from powerful people. They each have something special to share with you. Open up your heart as you read.


Table of Contents

  1. John LeBeouf
  2. Devin Wright
  3. Gilbert Marcel
  4. Ashley Samanie
  5. Rocky Angelette
  6. Chelsea Breaux
  7. Chip Autin
  8. Hayden Nicholson
  9. Adrian Craft
  10. Stu Babin
  11. Kassie Voisin
  12. Chelsea Verdin
  13. Janea Robling
  14. Alisha Autin
  15. Charles Phillips III

Share Your Story

I need your story. You don’t have to be a writer or be creative to share a story. These guest post have one job: give a voice to the voiceless. Talk about your favorite team or your favorite movie. Write about your new eating or workout habits. Share a few of your favorite pictures you’ve taken about a specific moment. Your story matters: big or small, long or short.

Someone told me they’re not worthy of telling their story. Another person told me nobody cares about that topic. I disagree with both statements. If not us, then who? And who will be able to tell it from your perspective? Our story is our own. It’s what sets us apart from the person next to us. It’s what makes us special.

If you have something you’d like to share, no matter how small, I’ll help you polish it up and present it to the world. It might feel like an overwhelming task, but I hope to show you how easy it actually is. My goal is to have very successful writers and creators sitting next to people you might’ve overlooked otherwise, and it’ll be hard to tell the difference, because each one just shared a story.

Get in touch



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.



Kassie’s Canvas: a guest post from Kassie Voisin

More: Guest Posts

What I love most about Kassie Voisin is the fact that she’s all about results. She doesn’t just talk about what she’s going to do, she does it. That’s inspiring. Follow her on social media and you’ll quickly see how hard she works. I believe in not just creating, but showing your work along the way as well, and that’s what she does best (I’ve watched more time lapses of her paintings than I have of anything else in my life). If you create, the people following your work will connect with you more if you show them how to get from Point A to B. The natural tendency is to hide the mess, and only show the finished product, but the best advice I give anyone asking for help creating is: First, create. Anything. Second, show how you created it.

I was first introduced to Kassie’s work when our Cross Kid’s building received a makeover. When they said it was getting a makeover, I assumed some tidying up, and maybe some new furniture. I would’ve never guessed something as creative as this. It catches you off guard the first time you walk up to one of Kassie’s murals. It transforms the atmosphere, wrapping around the walls of the hallways, and for a second, it places you in a different world.

Pictures and videos never do something like this justice. Even this blog post won’t do the justice of her daily grind. Even my description lacks the details that go into her story, so I’ll let her explain it for you. I appreciate her taking some time out of her schedule to share her vision with my readers.


Kassie Voisin

Hi! I’m Kassie, owner of Kassie’s Canvas. I paint wall murals all around Louisiana and neighboring states. I started this business about 3 years ago when I got married. I was a full time medical student, when friends and family began asking me to paint canvases for them. Canvases eventually turned in to full wall paintings.

My husband eventually pushed me to quit my full-time, stable job, to create art for a living. I was terrified. I didn’t go to college for this. I nearly failed art class in high school. I didn’t think that it would succeed, but each day, I went on the job and did my best to create passionate work that really brought out the customers imagination. They all think that I am the creative genius on the job, but really, it’s their ideas that I’m just bringing to life. That’s the best part!

In Year 1, we had a few murals around Houma booked, but I knew that I had to go bigger. I began bringing my GoPro camera with me on the job. I would set it up, and record every mural I painted, really trying to give customers a behind the scenes look on how their mural came to life. Once the videos began going on Facebook, I started getting a lot of interest from around the country. Even people in Canada and Hawaii were calling to get murals painted!

My husband and I spent countless hours answering messages and calls, getting hotels booked, and cities scheduled for murals all over. It has been such a crazy ride this far. Looking back, I still don’t understand why, or how we got so much interest. I’m just a simple, God-loving, small-town girl, who loves to paint, but it’s amazing what God can do with just that.

Last year, POV Magazine reached out to do an article on my paintings, another huge milestone for me in my career:

Whether it’s a space station for the laser tag arena at Pinocchio’s Pizza Playhouse, inspirational quotes and welcoming messages for a school, or a detailed depiction of Cinderella’s Castle for a child’s bedroom, Kassie prides herself on painting dreams with her large-scale custom murals.

I feel like every time God puts a spotlight on this, it’s an avenue for me to share my testimony. This year, we even got a call from the Ellen DeGeneres show. I may not ever fully understand how this all happened, but I know that I love the journey. I love painting people’s homes. I feel like I’m spreading joy in such a different way. I don’t know where 2017 will take us, but I have my paintbrush ready!



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.



NBA Fan

I’m writing to clarify how I view the NBA, which is less of a fandom now, and more of an obsession. Each team that I’ve become a fan of, I obsess over every little detail. And thanks to NBA League Pass, I get to watch many teams, and more importantly, I’m not limited to just the local team (Being forced to be a fan of whatever the local team is, seems to be backwards thinking, and limiting ourselves to the broad range of the global society we have with the internet. Nothing is local anymore, unless you want it to be. I prefer to follow things all around the world).

If it hasn’t been clear who I’m a fan of in the NBA, just search my site to see. Spoiler: it’s Chris Paul. Chris Paul has only been on two teams in his NBA career (Hornets and Clippers), and now three with this upcoming season (Rockets). When Paul left the Hornets, I stopped watched them. When Paul was hurt on the Hornets, I didn’t watch them until he came back. Same for the Clippers. I don’t bounce around to whatever team is winning at the time. I simply follow Chris Paul.

Besides Chris Paul, I was a fan Iverson with the Sixers (Claxton, Hill, Snow, Mutumbo), and I was a fan of the Kings (Webber, Bibby, Peja, Divac, Jackson years). Before that, I was a fan of Michael Jordan. I was too young to understand all the details, but I remember staring at the television while the other kids in the house were doing kids things.

I never got the chance to watch Magic, Bird, Dr. J, Wilkins and all the legends play night after night. If I could’ve, I’m sure I’d obsess over a specific player the same way I do Paul. We have the luxury of following these athletes better than ever. I can stay in the comfort of my home and never miss a CP3 play, and since he’s been in the league, I’ve done just that. Never. Missed. A. Play. True definition of an obsession. If I can go back in time, I would do the same with Michael Jordan, John Stockton, and Steve Nash.



Dunkirk Review: a time traveling war movie

Dunkirk is many things, but traditional it is not. A war movie is what it’s labeled as, but I usually don’t care about war movies. What I care about, however, is details. The smallest details, if precise enough, turn into something big, and that’s this director’s specialty. Christopher Nolan, the same guy that brought us The Dark Knight Trilogy, The Prestige, and Inception, has returned with his most grounded and yet most ambitious film to date.

This isn’t your typical war movie. It’s more of a silent-survival-thriller—or, a ride”, as Nolan calls it. Through Dunkirk, you’ll hardly understand what anyone is saying, and that’s the point. They’re only meant to be background noise to the score and sound effects. It often sounded like clocks ticking, or a heartbeat, creating an immediate and sudden suspense through the entire 106 minutes of the film.

M.G. Siegler:

CGI is at a minimum here and as such, the visuals are arresting. And given that it was shot in 70mm (and IMAX), it might be the most visual film of all time. Especially when you consider just how little dialogue there is in the film. So little that the score is the far more important audio component (you could argue this is true in many great films, but there’s no argument here).

That. Ticking.

This is a story about time traveling, but only from our point of view (more on this later). This is a story about a war against the Germans, but you never see the Germans. This is a story without much of a story. Instead, Dunkirk throws you directly into the battle, with no buildup, no character development, and hardly any dialogue though the entire film. Dunkirk didn’t waste a second on anything that didn’t matter. This film is about one thing and one thing only: absolute immersion.

Robbie Collin:

You could describe Dunkirk as a silent film at heart — and the superb Hans Zimmer score, battering, surging, metronomically counting off the seconds, is such a constant presence it’s more or less an accompaniment.

The Enemy” is what they’re called through the movie, never The Germans”. You never see them either. This makes them appear scarier than they already are.

David Ehrlich:

You never see the Germans. […] The opening text refers to them as just the enemy.” They are as vague and violent as the dream projections in Inception,” less of a literal force than a deadly abstraction that lives under our skin, feeds on our fears, and erodes our shared purpose.

My favorite part of Dunkirk is understanding the way time is manipulated. Nolan controls time like no other (Inception’s dreams, Interstellar’s time relativity, Memento’s story told backwards). Dunkirk’s story is told through three perspectives: The Mole (on land) takes place within a week, The Sea takes place within a day, and The Air takes place within an hour. If you’re not conscious of this, the story being told from scene to scene, appears to be happening all at the same time. And it’s because of this that I’ve watched this movie several times already. Land, sea, and air aren’t happening at the same time, now try to keep up.

M.G. Siegler:

It’s amazing what you can do when you cut out backstories and let the story speak for itself. […] And this can work when the story actually speaks for itself three different times, from three different perspectives, at three different speeds.



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.



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.



10 Reasons Why 2016 Was My Favorite

I want to reflect on the year that just passed. I was recently with my good friend, Joe, who said to me, I see so many people saying they’d wish 2016 would hurry up and end, because it’s been the worst year ever, but I disagree . . . this has been the best year of my life.” He couldn’t have said it any better. Sure, 2016 has been a horrible year for a lot of people, but not for me. This has been the best year of my life, for many different reasons, and I’d like to acknowledge those reasons here.

1. I found peace

Anxiety has always been something I’ve struggled with. I would always take medicine for it, but it never felt like the proper solution. After a decade of trying to fix this, I stumbled upon two ways that basically cured this for me: I started going to Cross Church full-time, and I started being intentional about what I let into my life. Minimalism and an intense focus on thriving relationships has given me peace like I’ve never felt before—and they are now the foundation to everything in my life.

2. A breakup that helped me

It started with a relationship that began at the end of 2015: I met a girl who would eventually become my girlfriend, and after dating for a few months, we decided to go our separate ways—but that breakup was much different than my previous ones. To fill that void, I knew what I had to do: I told myself that going to church for only an hour had to stop. I was hurting, and if I wanted anything fixed in my life, or if I wanted to grow with the church, it would never happen in only an hour. I decided that I would start trying to be the first one there (which never happened, there is always someone there before you), and I would stay the entire day. This little plan changed the entire trajectory of my life.

3. I built new relationships

I knew that there was some incredible people at the church that I was missing out on—people that wanted to be in my life and wanted to know me better—but I would always leave before ever getting to know them. At the time, they all knew my name, but I vaguely remembered their faces. It was as if they knew that, when the time was right, we’d have a special friendship—they were just waiting on me to join them. I started admitting to them that I’m horrible with names, and I asked for their help. I did this with every person that engaged with me, and each Sunday, I would do it again and again, until eventually, their names became easy to remember. Now, I couldn’t imagine not knowing their names. I relate it to not knowing a sister’s name, or a cousin’s name: when someone is important to you, you’ll remember their name. It’s that simple.

4. I served on the Reach Team

All of these people that I became close with are on the Cross Church Reach Team: a team of people that lend a hand to make the church operate at 100%. Getting there early, before the first service, is what the reach team does. Some are in the cafe, some do the audio and visuals for the services, some work with the kids, some do parking, some smile and greet you at the door, etc. — I did parking and audio/visual. I would try to stay all day for each service, and I’d help out wherever I was needed. This gave me a sense of purpose like I’ve never felt before—and still to this day, getting there early for that Reach Team Meeting is something that I consider very important. I remember what life was like before this meeting, and before I started going to church early, and I don’t ever want my life to be like that again. Looking back at 2016, the weeks that were the hardest were the ones where I didn’t get to church early and serve, and when I didn’t focus on those relationships.

5. I started Small Groups

I kept getting invited to small groups for the church, but I never committed to any of them, until early in 2016, when my friend Chase started Testimony Tuesdays (where someone would agree to cook a meal for the group that week, and they would all play drums, guitars, sing, and when the time was right, someone would share a testimony about their life). This opened my eyes to how fun a small group could be. Soon after, I started going to a men’s breakfast small group, where a huge breakfast was served, and we’d take turns sharing our perspective on a topic.

One day, the leader of that group pulled me aside, and suggested that I lead my own group. He didn’t say much more than that, but that’s when the seed was planted. Over those next few weeks, my mind was racing with ideas: it went from me thinking I wasn’t good enough to lead a group, to me thinking I wouldn’t lead a group without someone else helping me, all the way up to me eventually leading two groups, all without needing a co-leader. I’ve written about these groups immensely over the last few months, but I’ll say this: leading a small group has been one of the most important moments in my life. It showed me that I’m good enough, it showed me that I’m a leader, it showed me that people care about my thoughts, it showed me that I have a church that believes in me—and it showed me that, instead of being scared and turning down an opportunity to grow, if you take chances in life, you won’t be disappointed. Those opportunities to grow are the moments that shape us into the person we dream of becoming.

6. I improved my creative outlets

2016 was the year that expanded me past being creative with just music. My music didn’t slow down either (I released two albums, tons of music videos, and I performed live more in one month than I did every other year combined), but it was my blog that really took off and became my main creative outlet. The amount of words I’m able to type in a day has become one of my biggest wins of last year. It’s now much easier and more natural for my thoughts to translate into paragraphs.

7. I served in weddings

I went to four weddings in 2016, three of which I served in. In March, I served in my friend Casey’s wedding in New Orleans. On Easter Sunday, my friend Chase’s wedding was right after our church service, in the Civic Center. In November, I served in my friend Kip’s wedding—and the weekend after, I served in my cousin Jarden’s wedding. I have so many special memories from these four weddings, and I can’t thank them enough for letting me be a part of it.

8. I went on vacation with family

I went on my first cruise in 2016, thanks to my mom. She took the family on a week-long trip to Jamaica, Cozumel, and Caymans. This gave me a break away from my regular routine, it was my first trip out of the country, and it was great quality time with my family. A few months later, we flew to Atlanta, then drove to South Carolina, to watch my sister graduate from the Army’s basic training. We spent a lot of time traveling and enjoying each other’s company. I’m usually lucky if I get one vacation in a year, but to have two vacations, only a few months apart, is something I’m incredibly thankful for.

9. I went part-time at AT&T

Because I don’t expect 2017 to slow down, and I plan on building on what 2016 gave me, I reduced the amount of income I need coming in, and I went part-time at AT&T. This will free me up for more time with my family, more time with the church, more time creating, and more time staying healthy and at peace. I look forward to playing a lot of basketball. I look forward to going on hiking trips and traveling, and whatever else I feel like doing.

10. I’m alive

I feel more alive than ever right now, and It’s because of everything I just mentioned: from every little detail that I chose to focus on, to the people I now have in my life. As a whole, I’m beyond thankful for 2016. I’ve gained peace, relationships, perspective, consistency, and tons of memories. For those that wished for 2016 to hurry up and end, I’m hoping for many more years just like it.



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.



AirPods

My AirPods arrived a few days ago, and I’ve been wearing them ever since. I use them for music, podcasts, phone calls, movies, and talking to Siri. Before the AirPods were even announced, though, I was dreaming of something like this—and when I think of what the world will look like in the future, I envision people wearing little pods like these. With Siri (or something like Siri) as your companion and personal assistant throughout the day, politely interrupting you to give you a heads up on upcoming events, messages, and a variety of other personalized bits of data. (The movie Her, featuring the voice of Scarlett Johansson, is fascinating example of what this vision could look like.)

I’m always curious about what the average person thinks about new technology, and it’s no surprise that most people don’t understand the AirPods. They either say it’s overpriced ($159), or they don’t grasp the tech that’s packed inside of them. These aren’t just headphones—in fact, these are to headphones what the iPhone was to phones. Now, when people think of the iPhone, they don’t think of something that only makes calls. These are the first version of the AirPods, and they already pack so many features, but it’s thinking about the future of them that really excites me.

Here’s some examples of its current features:



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.”



iPad Only

Matt Gemmell is a writer that I look up to, and when I found out that he’s going iPad only, I was fascinated. He has a series of posts on his site, documenting this transition.

Gemmell, Lifting the Mouse:

What made me buy into the iPad as a full-time actual computer is that it doesn’t just agree with a feeling I think I’ve always had; it does something about it. It’s a device that was designed this millennium, and it looks and acts and feels like it. It gives me hope — and asks for surprisingly little in return.

I can remember a year ago, when I first purchased my iPad Pro, I wanted to be an iPad Only” user. It seemed possible, but still too far away—but now, as I reflect on that specific moment, it’s not a desire anymore. The iPad is my daily driver. It’s the computer I use 99% of the time. I own a Mac mini, but it’s only used a handful of times throughout a month, if that (it doesn’t even have a screen hooked up to it anymore; I log in to it from the iPad).

Gemmell, Month One:

With the iPad, I feel like I can always find a way to use it for something. Putting pieces together, and chaining often-simpler blocks into fully-understood workflows. I use more apps during the day on my iPad, but I have less of a sense of redundancy.

Some see an iPad as a limitation, but ironically, I’ve never felt this free before. This is the most powerful, versatile, and inspiring computer I’ve ever owned. Whoever I want to be, on that specific day, the iPad shape-shifts into that tool. Whether I’m dealing with audio recordings, family pictures, or just text, the iPad, combined with a specific app, allows me to enhance the world around me. And as I look back at my website during this past year, it’s no wonder I’ve grown as a writer, with both quantity and quality. All the crap that is known as a computer has been removed from my life, and all that’s left is a blank canvas to create.



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.



Pace, Rhythm, and Blogging

John Gruber:

As for what I link to and what I don’t, it’s very much like Justice Stewart’s definition of obscenity: I know it when I see it.” There’s a certain pace and rhythm to what I’m going for, a mix of the technical, the artful, the thoughtful, and the absurd. In the same way that I strive to achieve a certain voice in my prose, as a writer, I strive for a certain voice with regard to what I link to. No single item I post to the Linked List is all that important. It’s the mix, the gestalt of an entire day’s worth taken together, that matters to me.

Gruber mentioned this several times, that his way of blogging is to create a story or theme for that day, and that looking back at his work for the day as a whole is what’s important. Not one individual post. If he links to five different things that day, then those five tell a story together, not individually. It’s something that I keep in mind when I sit down to write and find stories.

(Source: Kottke)



Kottke.org’s New Site Design (and the importance of launching things unfinished)

Jason Kottke:

For the first time in more than four years, kottke.org is sporting a new design this morning.

If you’ve never heard of Kottke, now’s your chance to check out his site. It’s one of the oldest blogs on the web, and is a site that I’m always looking up to and following for guidance with my blog.

My favorite part of his explanation of the new design is actually hidden in a footnote, after the sentence, Since you should never launch anything completely finished.”

That’s right, don’t finish stuff. The last 5% will take you foooooorever and you’ll change it five times after you launch anyway. 95% is good enough.

The last 5% will take you forever. This is so true. I have tons of projects that are as close to finished as they’ll ever be, but I haven’t released them yet because of that last 5% push. I’ve learned that’s what takes the longest, the polish at the end. It’s refreshing for someone to tell me not to even worry about that last push, and instead work on it after launch. I’m taking that advice to heart.



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.



The Writeous Ones Small Group: Week 1

My friend Rocky is leading a small group called The Writeous Ones. It’s full of writing exercises with like-minded people. Tonight was the first meeting. I’m excited to be a part of it, and I look forward to him challenging me through this semester.


The first assignment was a found poem. I had these instructions to follow:

Find two ads in a newspaper. Create a poem only using words from the two adds.

So for lunch today, I went grab a newspaper. I might’ve only needed a physical newspaper a handful of times in my life. This newspaper only had two ads in the entire paper. Maybe I grabbed the wrong one? I made a list of all the important words on these two ads, skipped over anything in fine print or the paragraphs inside the ad. I felt like I needed rules around this challenge. What you’re seeing here is both ads and then what I came up with. Nothing major, but a fun exercise to get me thinking.


Mixing Up Metaphors

For my second assignment, I had to come up with my own versions of popular sayings. I find all of these cringe worthy, and kind of embarrassing, but that’s the point, I guess. Here’s the results:

Next Week’s Assignment

Dear Younger Me: Write a letter to yourself in the past. 500 words.



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.



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.



How Can I Help: an ongoing thought of never doing enough

With so much going on, from job losses, to floods, to people losing their homes, to shootings—I just feel helpless. I made a song about helping, and I help out a lot at my church—and as I’m writing this, I’m in Gonzales, working with AT&T to provide a charging station and free calls to those in the shelter—but in my heart, it still doesn’t feel like enough. I feel like there’s so much more I should be doing.

I understand that we all have limited time and resources, and we can only help so much, but still, are we doing enough? Are we stretching ourselves further than our comfort zones? Or are we donating just enough of ourselves and our resources to look good? Hey look at me, I’m helping! That’s the echoes in my head. There’s this threshold that remains in front of me at all times. It’s usually in my peripheral, not always present, but off to the corner, I see it, or sometimes feel it. That threshold tells me that I’m a good person, and I’ve done my duty as a human and as a new Christian. It’s that threshold that, when I meet it, bells ring, notoriety comes, peers are proud of me—and then I can drift away, feeling better about myself. But it’s that threshold that stops me from reaching further.

I feel guilty and hypocritical. I want to help you without telling others that I’m helping you. I don’t need the recognition. I want to give you my time, but with a 40 hour job that involves late hours, I’m limited on the time I can give you—but even that feels like an excuse.



What I’m Currently Working On (Bringing People And Words Together)

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Ideas are pouring out of me right now. It feels like a good time for me to document all of this. If any of these things interest you, please get in touch, and let me know specifically about the one you’re excited about—and don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter on my site, which will email you the second I release a big project.

Small Groups

Music

For those keeping track, I’ve recorded 39 songs so far this year. The album I’ve been working on for the past few months has been put on hold for a week or two. I started noticing that I had enough songs that didn’t fit the concept of the album, so those songs will become its own project this week. If all goes well, the first week of August will be when I release the album I’m about to mention.



My Obsession With No Man’s Sky

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August 9th is the release date for a game that I’ve been obsessed with for the past few months. I’ve watched video after video, read every article I could find, listened to every interview with Sean Murray (the managing director at Hello Games), researched the Wikipedia page, sold my Xbox One, bought a PS4, preordered the digital version of the game, and even changed the header of my site to the cover art.

There’s no story to follow in this game. You create your own story. Go as you please, and do whatever you want. No Man’s Sky has 18 quintillion planets (!), all with their own types of environments: from sandy planets, to ones with trees, to ones that are just water, to ones that are freezing and require a special suit to survive the temperature there, to ones that have animals (or things that look like animals), some animals will walk past you, minding their own business, while others will try to eat you. And if I had infinite amount of time to play a video game, I could visit each one of these planets.

The story is mine: it’s just me, my suit (constantly being upgraded to withstand temperature changes and planets that aren’t safe), my multi-tool (for mining and collecting resources, and protecting myself from aliens and enemies) and my spaceship (which also is always being upgraded with stronger weapons, holding more cargo, and capable of traveling further through space). With these few things in my possession, for the first time in my life, I am a pilot, traveling and exploring the universe.

The goal of No Man’s Sky is to travel and get to the center of the universe. It sounds simple, but you can’t just fly straight there. Your ship wouldn’t have enough fuel or armor to make it that far. So you have to land on a planet and gather resources. But even that isn’t just as simple as gathering resources: First, there’s multiple minerals or plants that would have to be combined to create, for this example, fuel. There’s no gas station to stop at and fuel up. Second, you can’t just land on a planet and start stealing all of its resources. There’s Sentinels (drones that police the planet) on patrol, waiting for someone that is harming the life-form living there or taking advantage of its unique resources. Third, there’s no telling what the climate will be like on each planet. If it’s too cold when you arrive, and the suit you’re wearing can’t handle that temperature, then you’d better find the nearest cave to warm up in.

As you can see, there’s layers and layers of strategy needed to get to the center of the universe. I look forward to spending hours getting there, and enjoying the process and discoveries along the way.



Finally Recording on the iPad Pro

I did some research night before last, on what it would take to make my microphone (Blue Yeti Pro) work on the iPad Pro. I found Jason Snell’s article on the Lightning to USB 3 Adapter article, and it showed me exactly what to do. I woke up yesterday morning and went straight to Best Buy, then Target … none of my local stores carried this adapter. So I made a day out of it, driving an hour away to the closest Apple Store to get this little piece.

It got my little brother out of the house. We ate Cafe Du Monde’s Beignets. I bought him a Lego Dimension’s Superman toy.

Later that night, I recorded my first studio session with just the iPad Pro and the Blue Yeti Pro. Here’s the unfinished song. I’m excited to get this amount of quality on the iPad.



Pallet Bookshelf

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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.



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

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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.



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.



DSLR - Bentley and Brayden

I’m borrowing a camera for the weekend. Here’s a few shots from today of my godchild Bentley (younger one) and my little brother Brayden (older one).

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Can We Auto-Correct Humanity?

This is a beautiful poem about our phones and social networks, by Richard Williams. They played this video in church this past Sunday, and as I was watching it, it reminded me of everything I write about. It reminded me of my daily struggle with technology: it gives me the power to create, learn, explore—but it prevents me from enjoying the real world and all of its subtle moments. The moments I miss when I’m looking down.

Also:



The Power of Notification Center

I’ll let you in on a little secret: what I’m about to explain is where your phone is headed. Years from now, what I’m doing now will become the main screen on every device. Siri, Google Now, and tons of App Launchers on Android are already doing this, but in the near future, this will be our default way to use our devices.

As of right now, Notification Center is extremely underused on everyone’s iPhone. Most people don’t realize how powerful it actually is. By just taking a few minutes to set it up to your likings, it could drastically change the way you use your phone.

Here’s how my setup looks:


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Today View

N1N1

It’s carefully curated so that every app has a purpose. When being this thoughtful about what goes on your phone and what notifications you receive, your device becomes a true personal assistant for everything in your life.

N2N2

My Today View holds the key things needed throughout the day. All of these things are instantly there for me just by swiping down on my iPhone.


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Notifications

The trick to making notifications more useful is by going into settings and changing how many notifications every app will show. Change this to 1. That way, at a glance, you can see a wide range of what’s going on. It’s like zooming out of your world and glancing at everything that’s important.


The End Of Apps As We Know Them, by Paul Adams:

How we experience content via connected devices — laptops, phones, tablets, wearables — is undergoing a dramatic change. The idea of an app as an independent destination is becoming less important, and the idea of an app as a publishing tool, with related notifications that contain content and actions, is becoming more important. This will change what we design, and change our product strategy.

The whole article is a must read if this post holds any interest to you.



Rest In Peace, Robin Williams

Sad news: Robin Williams was just found dead in his home, from apparent suicide. He’s someone that I grew up watching. From the boy Jack that aged four times faster than everyone else, and was a 40 year old man by the time he reached fifth grade—to the wise man in Good Will Hunting, that taught Will about life.

Robin Williams, I enjoyed your films, your jokes, and your unique personality. Thanks for all the great memories. Rest in peace.

Some of my favorites from him:

Videos:



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.



Images of Conroe

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I’ve been in Conroe, Texas for the past few days, visiting family—and as usual, I’m enjoying the beautiful sceneries here. I want to remember the nuances of this place. There’s tons of details that set it apart from Houma. Conroe is a huge city, with interstates and buildings everywhere, but there’s also a country aspect to it too. I tried my best to capture as much as possible in a few pictures.

conroeconroe

Welcome to Conroe. A city that holds some of my family members. Some live here permanently, while others are here temporally, waiting for the hospital to get it right.

househouse

This is my Uncle Bill & Nanny’s house. It’s a small, but homey place to live. I lived here two years ago, and I was very comfortable during my time here. They’re about to sell it, so I’m glad that I have this picture of it to remember how nice it was.

trucktruck

This is my Uncle Bill’s Jeep. If you ever have a chance to visit him, bring your old clothes, because his first question to you will be, So watcha doing tomorrow?”.

zillazilla

This is Zilla. Or Zella. She responds to either, and has officially been named both.

porchporch

I’ll remember this porch for that one night in the summer of 2013, when I started drinking Moonshine and was sleeping 15 minutes later.

nannynanny

My Nanny Sheila and Pawpaw Bobby, discussing the doctors that are taking care of Mawmaw Carol.

chopperchopper

His name is Chopper. He says hello.

bridgebridge

I walked under this bridge to visit the library. I wanted to walk everywhere I could and experience life slower. I gained a better appreciation for a city that moves very fast.

chairchair

I’ve never used this area, but it looks like a great place to start a fire, relax, and share stories about life.

bikebike

My Nanny thinks I took pictures of junk, but I think this picture has personality. This picture tells a story. But the only story that came out of this picture was my Nanny saying, I’ve been telling Bill to pick that shit up.”

flagflag

Most people take pictures of the flag from a distance, or at an angle where you can see more of it. I wanted to be right underneath the flag, capturing the height of where it flys.

dangerdanger

While walking to the park, I saw a Danger” sign, with an opening to the woods. It resembled a horror film.

skateskate

This is a huge skate park with no kids skating. There was a dad though, pushing his daughter around in the stroller, up and down the ramps. They both seemed to be having lots of fun.

goalgoal

It doesn’t matter what city I go to, I will find basketball goals. Luckily in Conroe, there’s great competition. Every day at 6, these courts fill up with 4on4 or 5on5 basketball games.

booksbooks

Books. So many of them. This was taken at Hastings, as I looked around at comics, old Vinyl Records, and New Arrival Fiction. I was even greeted by a nice part-time employee that demanded my backpack as I walked into the store.



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.



Game of Spurs: Dethroning King James’

Image is credited to Bleacher Report’s Game of Zones video.

Though I predicted the Spurs would win this series, I didn’t expect they’d do it in only 5 games. That’s impressive. They were basically two points away from sweeping the Heat. Put that in perspective.

The fact that this is a shocking victory, and is considered an upset to most people (that don’t follow basketball close enough) is the best way to define how unappreciated the San Antonio Spurs are. That’s why them winning the ring this year is so important—to me, to the NBA, to the basketball gods. This is a chance to fix what’s broken. Even good basketball has it’s day of glory. This time around, it’s not about the dunks and individual accolades. The story line for these NBA Finals is about passing and selflessness. I’m sure ESPN is scratching their heads, wondering how do we make a highlight reel out of a damn pass?

Let’s give it up for Tim Duncan, a true gift to the NBA. One day, I’ll be telling my grand kids about him, as if he was a great fairy-tail.

You see kids, these type of players don’t exist anymore. The kind of guys that quietly dominate you. These young bucks now only know how to be loud and selfish. But Timmy, as the rest of the league fussed about who was the best, Timmy walked calmly into the Hall of Fame, without ever saying a word.



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.”



Gone Fishing - Another Disappointing Season For Chris Paul

The playoffs are still going on, and it’s far from over (Heat-Pacers, Thunder Spurs: I think Spurs will win it all this year), but for me and my Clippers, this season has come to an end—unfortunately.

Man, what a season! In the playoffs, there’s nothing worse than going home early, and honestly, I don’t know anything other than going home early. My teams have never gotten far enough to even sniff a championship.

The sad thing is, I don’t think many people can relate to this feeling: they jump ship to the new-hottest team before it gets bad, avoiding dissapointment, that way, they’ll always having a winning team to brag about. Sounds like cheating.

But for me, chalk this up as another year that Chris Paul is at home watching his competition move on to victory. It’s a very empty feeling to obsessively follow a team for a year, and then, before I can stop cheering and pulling for a win, it’s over. The players walk off the court, stunned, and everyone comes to the realization that there’s no more seconds on the clock. I grabbed my bag and drove home in silence.

This year stings more than years prior, mainly because there were no excuses this time around: the Clippers had a great team (CPs best thus far), full of depth in all areas, and after dominating most of the year, that still wasn’t enough for them to beat the elite teams.

Chris Paul. I can picture him adding another tally to the Ringless Chalkboard, and it hurts. 10 years in the league, and still … nothing. Sounds like someone that’s underachieving, at least that’s what the media wants you to think.

But I look around him; I see all the competition he’s up against. He’s not losing to push-overs. The Warriors could’ve advanced to Round 2 and nobody would’ve been surprised. Whoever loses out of the Spurs and the Thunder, I doubt they’ll look back at their season and feel more successful than the Clippers do—going home is going home, no matter what round you’re in. My point is, when the Western Conference is this deep, it doesn’t matter how talented you are, somebody has to go home early. It just sucks that it has to be my team.

The media hounded Chris Paul for losing to the Thunder, treating him as if he’s retiring during the off-season, and now, it’s all over for him. Chris Paul has become Cliff Paul, and he will never have another chance at an NBA title, his new job is to strictly sell insurance.

This isn’t the case at all. Even though he’s a year older and is struggling to stay healthy for an entire season, I see a player who is still dominating each game he steps on the court for. Check the record books, he’s breaking each one in his way, and when it’s all said and done, I still believe he’ll walk away as a champion.

Look around at his team, he’s playing with some real talent, the best he’s ever had—and it’s only getting better. Doc Rivers just arrived. Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan are finally giving Paul the help he went to Los Angeles for in the first place. This team is still growing and will only get deeper. With the supporting cast they currently have on the roster, and another offseason for Doc Rivers to add new players, I expect an even more dominant Clipper’s team next year.

But this is all talk, nothing I say right now even matters, at least not to you, the reader. It’s just me, the die-hard fan, giving myself high-hopes for the upcoming season. Letting the fanatic in me sleep better at night by telling myself everything will be fine. All the doubters will apologize next year, just watch.

Until then, I’ll try to enjoy the rest of the playoffs, all while attempting to tune out the noise, one Fair Weather Fan at a time.



First Order Of Shirts Have Arrived

It was a weird feeling to get home last night to a box full of shirts at my doorstep. Maybe it was the fact that all of these shirts were already sold to people who spent their hard-earned money on something with my face on it—it’s quite humbling.

I appreciate your support more than you realize:

LindseyLindsey EricaErica ChaseChase CaseyCasey



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.



I yelled at my TV, and for the first time ever, it yelled back

I was playing NBA 2K14 on the Xbox One, and the guy that I was about to play against kept changing his mind on the team he wanted—he would switch through each team and after looking at the rankings and choices of jerseys, he’d move over to the next team to consider. He was taking forever. I was on my lunch break, with not much time to play, and even if this guy did hurry up, I’d still be late getting back to work.

I was getting frustrated and I did what any normal person does when the TV is being retarded: I yelled at it. I shouted out, Hurry up!” … and what followed was the last thing I expected. Out of nowhere, my TV screamed back at me, Shut the f%+k up!”

This scared the crap out of me. I had no idea that the Xbox One and the Kinect could carry a conversation between both players during a game. I assumed that this was only possible with the headset plugged in. What a pleasant, and shocking surprise.



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.”



I Turned 27 Today and That Scares Me

Time seems to be moving faster every year. It feels like I was just thanking everyone for wishing me a happy 26th birthday, and now I feel guilty for thanking you all again. It’s as if I cheated the system, and somehow got an extra year of birthday wishes.

I could remember as a kid when a year would feel like forever, and waiting for the next summer-vacation felt too far away to even worry about.

But now, my weeks feel like days, and my years feel like months — time has become a blur.

Maybe it’s our busy lives that ruined everything.

If I could ask for one birthday wish, it’d be to slow down time. I don’t want money or presents. Just give me enough time to enjoy my brothers and sisters while they’re still young and bored.

They’re only kids now, but if time stays at this pace, they’ll soon be moving on, and starting their own families, and time will be working against them too. They’ll be trying to keep up with their crazy schedule, and instead of hanging out, we’ll all be just a little too busy for each other.



Driven

It started as a kid, dribbling a basketball up and down my street, or to a friends house. Counting how many times I could go through my legs without messing up. I went from 10, to 50, to 100, to where I just stopped counting. Everywhere I’d go, I’d just bounce the ball through my legs like it was normal. It helped the long journey, but more importantly, it was a challenge.

Let’s take it back further to when the regular Nintendo came out, and Super Mario Bros. was the new thing. I must have been 4 or 5 years old, and this had to be one of my first challenges. Needless to say, I beat the game within days. It didn’t stand a chance.

Maybe it was my cousin Shaun and his best friend Jarod. I would spend every summer by his house - he was like my brother, I looked up to him. Every time I went there, he was doing something competitive. Him and Jarod would go at it on the basketball court. If you didn’t know any better you would think they were fighting - looking back now, they were. Fighting for respect. It’s that drive to be better. They would even team up and pick on me, bullying me and showing me that I’m no match for their skill. Back then I was hurt. Why is my cousin treating me like this?” Knowing what I know now, when you’re competitive, it’s hard to take it easy on someone. You want to beat them. Period.

Around this same time, I was introduced to Dragonball Z. Something completely new to me. Something so complex. Something so violent, but yet so sweet looking. Something that looks like a simple cartoon, was actually more detailed than your favorite blockbuster movie. I watched the way Goku carried himself. The nicest guy on the show, treated everyone with respect, even his enemies - but also be the savior of planet earth. He could defeat anyone, any obstacle. Nothing would get in his way, because he was driven by the love he had for his family and his world. I embraced that knowledge.



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.



Dear Lebron Haters

I’ve never been a fan of LeBron, but I feel like I should give my opinion on those who seem to constantly scrutinize a guy that has accomplished so many amazing things at an early age.

My whole thing is, people look at the situation like he has to be either better than Kobe and Jordan, or he’s a bum. That’s what bothers me. The game of basketball is so complex, and the fact that he doesn’t have the it” factor, doesn’t even change how great he is. There’s so many ways a player can impact the game of basketball, and the casual person watching, and jumping on the lets hate LeBron” bandwagon, doesn’t even understand what an assist is, or +/- stats are.

LeBron James, without even being a fan of him, but a fan of the game of basketball, accounts for more stats across the board than any other player I’ve ever watched. So people can bash him for not having the it” factor, but that balances out, when he rebounds, passes, and defends better than everyone else. People never mention that though.

I heard people calling Durant better than him, but Durant seems to only be a scorer. After game 1, the media and people I know, were screaming that Durant is the best player in basketball, but to me, he never impacts the game with anything other than points. How can that be better than someone who, across the board, fills up the stat sheet?

Those same people who kill LeBron, they don’t say, he’s amazing, but I wish he’d close better”, or he’s amazing, but he should’ve stayed in Cleveland.” No, they say he’s a bum, and he can’t ball, and he should never be King” James.”

Nobody had a problem with Paul Pierce being named The Truth”, before winning a ring, what’s the difference if LeBron’s The King”? People will find anything to hate on people for.

The people hating on someone with as much talent as LeBron, should stop for a second and appreciate him, the fact that I even have to say that is ridiculous, and almost obvious that they’re not watching the game, but just jumping on bandwagons. An athlete that great, doesn’t come around every year, but people act like the game of basketball would be better without him. That’s my problem.



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.



The McDonald’s Presentation

A story about a man that tried to understand today’s technology.

I was at McDonald’s yesterday, working on my website and eating lunch, when an old man — around the age of 80 — walked up to me, and started talking. I didn’t realize he was talking at first, I was focused on my Macbook screen, while listening to Coldplay in the headphones, the old man was headed towards me. His lips were moving, and I’m not sure he understood the concept of headphones, so I knew that a conversation had already started. I removed my headphones and joined in.

"So how hard is it to use one of those things?" he asked. I scrambled to make out his words, slightly hearing them, but not sure what they meant. "Use what?" I replied, at this moment I had no idea what he was referring to.

He paused for a minute to gather his thoughts. …I don’t know, whatever you have in front of you.”

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“My computer?” He must be talking about my computer.

He looked confused. Does he know what a computer is?

“I guess …” he said, as he turned to the wall next to me, staring down at the McDonald’s computer used to fill out applications. You have to know the alphabet to work one of those, huh?”

I really didn’t know what to say, I wondered how far to go back. My mind would land on different directions to talk about, explaining about the internet, or typing in words that would bring up more information. I was puzzled. A simple explanation of any of my daily uses on a computer would have to be broken down to so many levels.

“I know how to read and write.” The old man was trying to help me understand that he is capable of working this foreign object. 

I started to wonder if he was joking with me, but his expressions seemed to say otherwise, as if he was truly interested, and I didn’t want to let him down. 

I struggled to open up to him, not that I wanted to be rude, but I had no idea where to start. For someone like myself that is constantly working on a computer, how did I struggle to explain the basics of one?

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“Well, it’s really not that hard,” I said, as I began my presentation. If there’s something you want to learn about, or purchase, or whatever, you simply just type it in, and it appears on the screen.”

This explanation only created more confusion, and the conversation was going nowhere. As the old man waited for his wife, he knew he was running out of time. He needed answers.

I suddenly grabbed my phone, knowing that this was my last hope. Maybe you should get an iPad.” I said the name of it as if he knew what I was talking about. It’s much easier to use, and you’ll be able to do everything a computer can do.” I turned on my phone, and began showing him something similar. It’s just like this phone, but bigger. The same size as my computer screen.”

He asked me the name about 5 more times, as I kept repeating it slower and clearer for him. 

“I-PAD…?” He asked. This is a word he’s never heard before, so he pondered on it for a second, And you can take photos with that thing?”

“Yep, theres a camera on the front and the back.” I explained.

“TWO PHOTOS?” He couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

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He leaned down to get eye level with my table, studying the phone, stunned by his latest discovery. He was blown away by the size of it, and as soon as I turned it on to show him the apps, his mouth dropped. He couldn’t believe what the screen was showing him. His eyes lit up, it all seemed so magical.



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.”



The Growth of an Artist - Evan Holt

Several years ago, I was approached by a young kid that wanted to record at my home studio. I believe a friend introduced me to him, and explained that he’s new in town, he’s from California, and has a unique style that isn’t like the artist from around our city. The encounters I had with the locals steered me away from these type of invitations, but Evan Holt seemed different.

He wasn’t your typical hardcore rapper. He appeared sincere, funny, and even shy at times. But his creative lyrics mixed with witty simplicity, was something that intrigued me.

As he began recording songs with me, I tried teaching him everything I knew about music, from the creative side, to the business side. This kid had potential. He had the vision, but lacked the execution. I would explain to him how important a project is. I remember telling him, You can talk about how much you’re rapper all day, but if you don’t have the projects to show for it, nobody cares.”

Evan soon moved away, with his family, to Atlanta, and I’m pleased to say that he listened to my advice.

Now, Evan Holt has many projects available online, and even more on the way. He’s even doing music videos now, how crazy is that? He’s created a platform for success, by using the social networks to capture the attention of hip-hop fans around the world. As you follow his Twitter account, you’ll see him frequently retweet established websites like The Source and many others that mention him on their site.

This doesn’t mean that he’ll become famous with lots of money and be the face of every magazine, It’s possible, and definitely closer to his reach than ever before, but being an artist and creative writer isn’t always about the fame, it’s about the evolution. The growth of an artist. This shows you that you can grow, learn how to network, and establish your brand. The brand is him, Evan Holt.




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