Finding Motivation Is Key

I haven’t been writing a lot in 2018 on a personal level because I decided to focus more on the business side of writing. Though that wasn’t the only reason. I also felt like I’d run out of things to say. So often as creatives and writers especially you get your motivation from real life, I look at like a battery. The more you charge it, the more powerful it becomes. For me 2018 was a year of growth and learning. Taking in moments as opposed to sharing them.

I’ve become a father and when I tell you it’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever felt, I’m not even sure that does it justice. Just holding him and looking at him and realizing that he’s a part of me is something that changes who you are as a man. Not just your priorities but I’ve never felt love like I feel love when I look at him.

I thought it would gross me out to change diapers or get spit up on but I find myself excited when he takes a poop because I know it means he isn’t constipated or gassy. When he spits up and looks at me and smiles, it’s because I know he got a good burp in or he ate too much and now he’s relieved. I’ll be driving to work and laugh at something he did and it brings joy to my life. Being a father is amazing and he can’t even play outside yet. I can just imagine what it’ll be like when he’s walking and running.

Having my son and living life has given me stories to write about, stories to focus on. Not just when it comes to my blog but when it comes to novels and scripts. Sitting back and watching, listening, ingesting the world around me.

I once saw this meme that said, “Be careful what you say around me, I’m a writer and anything you say or do may be used in a story.”

I have never related to anything so much in my life. 2018 pushed a button inside of me, a button which reminded me that life isn’t as short or long as we think it is. Life is just life. You live in the moment, you live in the day and before you know it, years have went by. What did you do with those years? What did you create? Who did you help? What did you inspire?

I’m sitting in my office writing this on a Saturday morning and before I know it it’ll be February and before I know it, it’ll be August. 2018 will be my last year viewing the world from the sidelines. I’m tired of playing it safe. I want to take risk and try new things. Write new genres and push myself professionally.

Being unhappy or unmotivated for the sake of it isn’t the move anymore. Make this last month of 2018 count.

Image may contain: one or more people and outdoor

The Karate Kid, YouTube and Life Lessons

Fun fact about me, I love scripted television, maybe it’s the writer in me or maybe it’s the fact that nothing is quite as rewarding as not having to wait a week for the next episode. This past weekend YouTube Red, which is YouTube’s original content and streaming service, was offering a one week free trial of their Karate Kid reboot. For some reason I thought it might be interesting and I wasn’t wrong.

karate kid 2

Cobra Kai is set thirty years after the Karate Kid but the way they wrote it and tell the stories you don’t feel like it’s a sequel. It actually stands alone and that makes it ten times better. They add the social media bullying and midlife crisis story lines that appeal to both young and older viewers and more than that, almost every one of the main characters is likeable.

This doesn’t happen often by the way. No one feels stale or inserted into the story line for no real reason. I’m not a TV show critic so I won’t give you a breakdown of each episode or what hits or misses but I will tell you I love the life lessons in this series.

Everyone Has A Story

One of the really cool story lines in this show is that they take us back to 1984. They tell the story of both Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence. Anyone familiar with the movie knows Daniel is the poor kid from the single parent household and Johnny Lawrence is the popular rich kid with the pretty girlfriend and likes to bully. The show takes you behind the scenes to where he was coming from. An abusive step father, a mother that died when he was young. Feeling threatened by a kid that was constantly trying to take his girlfriend. You don’t feel sorry for him but you understand him. This applies to sooo many situations in real life where each side has a story and they believe their story 100%.

I Feel Sorry For People That Peeked In High School

There’s a theme in this entire show that revolves around individuals that had the biggest moments of their lives in high school. Daniel has built a successful business using his karate championship. Johnny is a drunk and has no ambition but constantly has dreams and flashbacks of his glory days in high school. He even drives the same car that he had in high school. Both men have a scene where they’re sitting in a bar looking at the Facebook page of the woman they were desperately in love with in high school. Both wondering where she is and is she happy in their own way.

Be Careful Of the Energy You Feed Children

The secondary story line of the show revolves around high school kids. The rich kids that are bullies and the poor kids that are getting picked on. Through karate the kids love to defend themselves but the part that’s scary is what they become. With miscommunication and constant training that teaches them to have no mercy and strike first the kids become mirror images of what Johnny was in high school. He doesn’t see it until it’s too late and by then the train is off the tracks. Even his own son gets caught up when he realizes his father is teaching these other children but hasn’t been there for him.

karate kid 1

Overall it’s a great show with tons of life lessons and if YouTube continues to put out content of this quality, they’ll become a force to be reckoned with in these streaming streets.

Why Don’t They Teach A Class In High School About Adulting?

I’m half way into my 34th year of life and I can honestly tell you I have never had to use biology in real life. I have never gone on a job interview where someone asked me, “So, what is an organism?” I have yet to go to a pay a bill and the person behind the counter asked, “Excuse me sir, we need your street address, social security number and for you to tell us 10 State Capitals.” Why do they teach us all this useless knowledge but don’t teach us how to adult? Below are four classes on how to adult before you hit the real world.

Lesson One- Money and Common Cents

Could you imagine if in your senior year of high school there was a class on real life budgeting? Not calculus or trigonometry but a class entitled “Money and Common Cents.”

classroom pic 2

Food all goes down the same. Wingstop taste amazing, Pappadeaux for happy hour is everything. A good steak from Brennan’s, mouthwatering. However, lesson 1, there isn’t a worse feeling than checking your bank statement and seeing you’ve spent 120.00 on food for the week knowing your cell phone bill is 117.89. Spaghetti is your friend; sandwiches are your friend, those cheap sausages that turn the water super greasy, your friend. If you know you don’t get paid for two weeks, don’t blow your money on food.

Lesson Two- Love Is Going To Break You; But It Won’t Kill You

We as a society do a horrible job of preparing our youth for how powerful love is. There was never a class in high school or college that taught us how much love would break us down. No group project on how to deal with seeing another man’s name pop on your woman’s phone at 2am. No power point on feeling like life is great and your man walking in and telling you, “I don’t love you anymore.”

There should be a test given to every high school senior. Don’t let love make you make dumb decisions. If you aren’t married, don’t co-sign for him a car because he changed a flat for you. Those things are not equal baby girl and I know you think he has a good job working at UPS overnight but I promise you a good job at 18 isn’t a good job at 24. If that woman wants to break up with you, let her go. Beating up her new man may feel good but the record that comes with it doesn’t. In a year she’ll have moved on and you’ll still be living with the consequences.

Lesson Three- Don’t Blow Off Your Grandparents and Parents

There’s a time frame after high school and before true adulthood kicks in at like 26 that we ignore our grandparents or parents. We want to travel and go out and sleep in so we say, “I’ll see grandma tomorrow.” “I’ll call my mom back tomorrow.” Those tomorrow’s add up and the next thing you know it’ll have been two months. There will be a day when they won’t be here anymore and in that moment you’ll think back to when you blew them off for a man or woman you have blocked on FB or friends that you don’t even talk to anymore. Love those that love you.

Lesson Four- Most Of Us Won’t Die Young; Prepare Yourself

Go to the dentist. You only get one set of real teeth.
Make memories and takes lots of pictures.
Don’t not pay bills to enjoy yourself. Credit is something you’ll need.
You don’t feel good, go to the doctor. You still don’t feel good, go back. You still don’t feel good, go to another doctor.
Don’t waste years of your life being unhappy.

Two Voices: One Relationship; One Year

Her Words

Paradox. Thru my eyes my first year in this relationship is summed up in one word: Paradox. This year has been the most beautiful ugly I have ever experienced. We weren’t supposed to be; two tortured souls on different sides of the fence. I’m not even sure we were supposed to be friends. A slave to pain, I knew I loved you the fist time you hurt me. I needed someone to love, I needed someone to gift myself to.

His Words

I’m not even sure what the word paradox means, even though I’m a writer I suck at spelling and am horrible with definitions. If I had to sum up this first year in one word it would be, scary. I’ve spent my entire life being responsible to myself, to my own feelings. Learning to be responsible for someone else’s feelings, someone else’s heart, it scared me. I’m not sure I wanted a girlfriend or even someone to seriously date. I think I just needed a best friend. I needed that Love and Basketball, Brown Sugar, No Strings Attached type of friendship. How do you prepare for needing one thing and falling into something else?

mr-and-mrs-smith2

Her Words

I’ve learned so much in the first six months, like how it’s possible to love again. How the definition of love stays the same but the connotation changes. The expressions of love are all individualized. The allocation of love is circumstantial; and my love for the man that fell into my life was unconditional. I had never lived away from home let alone with someone. To see him have my back everyday despite fights, personal feelings, and dealing with his own demons, made my respect for him grow. All while hating his flaws and mistakes.

His Words

I should write a how to manual. How to be a jerk in six months time, how to push someone in six months time, how to lie and be unapologetic in six months time. What do you call it when you’re not a boy but you’re not a man? When you’re responsible and logical and respected but spoiled, insecure and demanding? You call it the first 6 months of this relationship. It’s not that I didn’t love her, it’s not that I didn’t want her around, it’s that I didn’t know how to return the all engaging love I was being given. Is it possible to resent someone for wanting the best for you, for seeing the best in you? Is it possible to want her to see your flaws so that your words don’t break her heart?

Her Words

The last six months unveiled myself to me. How would I deal with REAL temptation? How would I hold up under real adversity and trials? I’ve let myself down a lot over this past year. But I would redo it every time. Some are not privileged to experience what I have experienced in this past year. To find love once is rare. To experience it on this level; even more so. This year was crazy beautiful and painfully sweet. This year wasn’t fair to me. This year broke me, scarred me, aged me, contradicted me, taught me, soothed me. This year gave me valuables.

His Words

For most of my life I’ve prided myself on being a better man than my father. On being a better man than most of the men I know. This last six months have shown me that every man is one mistake, one relationship, one loving or forgiving woman a way from his own self destruction or self reflection. I have no regrets because each fight, tear, loss has lead me to this exact moment right here. In a generation of women that seem to want everything ready made it’s rare to find a woman that wants to fight the war with you and doesn’t just want the kingdom. She still talks a lot and wears waaaaay too many of my good shirts to lounge in but I wouldn’t exchange her for the world. Well, maybe the world but not a city or country or something 🙂

Why I Regret Stepping Foot On A College Campus

A College Campus

A College Campus

I remember my senior year before I went to college. The sort of advice I received was be sure to use condoms, don’t do drugs, don’t party and study so you can make good grades and make your family proud. What no one told me, what I wish I would have known before I stepped one foot on that beautiful country campus is that it wasn’t drugs, women or study habits that would haunt me long after those college years; it was finances.

My first week on that college campus there was a table set up. Two attractive, cool college kids asking me if I wanted a free t-shirt and twenty five dollars. “Hey man, you’re away from home; you need a credit card for expenses. Gas money, maybe a date, a book you need right away.” Eighteen years old, not even a bank account in my name I signed up for the credit card and ten minutes later I was approved. That same week when I sat across from a counselor in the financial aid office she laid out several options for me. “This is what the University is offering you, A Pell Grant, your partial scholarship, four loan options.” All I saw was green, more money in my hand than I’d ever seen, a couple thousand more than I needed. I signed that promissory note not realizing I was signing my future earnings away.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame the University I attended for my bad decisions. I don’t blame the Federal Government or the Student Loan Lenders. Without those programs a lot of kids and adults would never even have a chance at college. I blame myself for not being better informed and though I can’t go back I can learn from my mistakes. My sisters, cousins, my future children will never be able to say, “I didn’t know.” I will be there with them letting them know, apply for scholarships, work a part time job, pay your student loan interest while you’re in school, maintain academic progress. Things I wasn’t told until it was too late.

I don’t regret going to college, I regret going to college when I did because I simply wasn’t prepared mentally. It’s what you’re supposed to do right? You don’t want to be the guy still staying at home working a job while all your friends are off at college. You don’t want to go to the military just as 9/11 happened and be deployed six months later. So I went to college and though the academics weren’t as hard as I thought the maturity level just wasn’t there.

Everyone in my office is excited about W2’s because who doesn’t love an influx of money? I on the other hand will be experiencing my third straight year of the Federal Government withholding my income taxes. All because I didn’t do what I was supposed to do when I was younger. A part of me is almost grateful that I am going through this because it’s forced me to budget more. It’s made me accountable. This hasn’t been easy but it’s been necessary. Though I wish I would have learned these lessons in my youth I still have a lot of life to live if God says the same and for that I’m thankful. Talk to your children about not just the parties, drugs, women or men. Talk to them about money and respecting it or it will come back to haunt them.

10 Things I Wish My Generation Understood

a trini10- It’s okay to have secrets. Everything isn’t meant for social networks or even friends and family. What happens between a man and a woman should stay between a man and a woman. If you’re creeping, cheating, keep that between the two of you; whether it’s right or wrong is between you and God but if you’re going to do wrong do it right.

9- Your reputation matters. This is something our grandparents and even parents understood. It’s not cool being an asshole, it’s not funny making fun of people. Cursing, using the word nigga, bragging about a woman paying for a date or how many women you have. It shows a lack of character.

8- Women should act like women. No matter what society says we respect ladies. In 1776 if a guy slept with a lot of women but was good at his job no one cares, it’s the same way in 2013. In 1776 if a woman slept with a lot of men she was a whore no matter how good she was at her job. It’s the same way in 2013. Women and men are not the same, have tact.

7- Modesty is a valued commodity. We live in a world where the middle class is dying, where people are living pay check to pay check. Bragging online will get you robbed, it will have people jealous and envious and more than that it’s just tacky. You don’t have to talk about how much better your life is then everyone else’s, if it is people will just see it.

6- Just because Twitter and Instagram say you have followers, doesn’t mean you have followers. Huey P. Newton had followers, Bobby Kennedy had followers, President Obama and Ted Cruz have followers. 90% of the people that “follow” us on social networks just like looking at pictures or socializing. What makes you relevant isn’t a status, post or picture. What makes you relevant is “Are you touching or impacting lives with your actions or words?”

5- Women aren’t as tough as they pretend to be. Most women are doing it on their own because they don’t have any other options. She may know how to change a tire or mow the yard or wash her car; she’s trying her best to teach her son how to ride a bike or shoot a basketball but that’s because that man isn’t there. It’s more than that though, we have to watch how we talk to women around children. They’re listening, they’re emulating, they will do what they see us do. No matter how hard she pretends to be it’s hurting her.

4- The best way to deal with a situation is being upfront and honest. Leading people on, ignoring situations, ignoring problems. It just leads to confusion, resentment and lies. If you have a service I want and I can’t afford it, I’m just going to tell you I can’t afford it and I will give you a call when I can. I don’t want a discount but I also don’t want to hold you up. If I’m not interested in you romantically I’m going to tell you I don’t think we’re compatible. It won’t be easy but clarity combined with respectable honesty breeds respect.

3- Failure is underrated. Our ancestors took big risk and they lost big but they also won big. That’s how life works, if we only do what we think we’re good at we’ll never reach our potential. We can’t be a generation that makes all these jumps and leaps from a technological standpoint but is afraid to move out of our mothers home.

2- Reading and Writing make us better.

1- Small talk can be the start of some of the best memories of our lives. I make it a habit when I’m out now not to take out my phone unless it rings. If I see someone sitting at the bar alone I’m going to make conversation. We get so caught up in technology that we forget how cool life was when conversations mattered