Hello again: Work / Life Balance

I’ll skip the part where I list all the reasons excuses for why I have posted in a while. I’ll also accept your forgiveness for my absence and my learning to write again. My paucity in posts could essentially be boiled down into one reason: a lack of work / life balance. This blog was never work but more about life; it lost out when I took on more responsibilities at work. Over the past month, I have recognized the problem and am taking necessary steps to resolve the issue.

The past year I have become immersed in work. This is due, but not limited, to an excitement about the possibilities, an inability to say no, an avoidance of other potential problems in my life and a lack of a fixed schedule. Being so involved in work meant losing out on relationships, events and most of the enjoyment that came along with them. Don’t get me wrong, I was still enjoying work but unhealthily neglecting everything else; even to the point of beginning to resent the work.

Recently, I have take a few steps to remedy this. Recognizing the problem is a big part of resolution, so I am on the right track. I have also begun meeting with a mentor, that understands the work that I do. He had some good advice regarding some beginning steps to take.

  1. Do not be an item on somebody else’s to do list. I would reply to texts, phone calls, and emails immediately, regardless of the urgency, time or day. One could argue that I was almost waiting for the next one to come through. Moving forward: I will have a certain time of day where I check and reply to emails. I will update my settings to eliminate every email from coming to my phone will put my phone away at night, only responding to personal (non-work) calls and texts. These two actions are combined with the new expectations and boundaries I will set with colleagues and clients.
  2. Take some time for yourself. I did not have a regular day off; a day that I could take care of me, relax, explore, learn or enjoy. I plan to take at least one day a week and also capitalize on the time I have during the summer.
  3. Set a schedule. I had failed to define a daily schedule. So I was flexible, which is good (yes, very go with the flow), but it also allowed me to fall victim to the flow. It didn’t give me any reason to say no – which meant I was overeager and vulnerable to overuse. My schedule will be another post altogether but involves: running, coffee, writing, learning, community, etc.
  4. Live with a Growth Mindset. In some aspects of life, I felt I was open to change or development. With others, I was closed off, thinking it is what it is. This topic is also post in and of itself. I look to continue to nurture that mindset and a “not yet” mentality.

An additional bonus is that for my job next year, I will be at set location so my vehicle will no longer be a storage unit. It will be nice to have my vehicle and my life back.

Looking forward to finding that balance.

looking forward to

89792_lgAs I mentioned early last week, I am looking forward to music and soccer later n the month of May. The first of the shows I am excited to see is Little Hurricane. Though I have seen them before (and blogged about them too), this is the first tour that they are headlining. They recently released their second album Gold Fever. This Saturday, May 24 at The Parish, my favorite indoor venue in Austin. There are tickets still available.

In between that show and the next set of shows falls another soccer event. It is in Dallas in association with the Boys & Girls Club and educates players on Hispanic Scholarship opportunities. It will also be treat to be working alongside Marcelo Balboa again. Though a short clinic, this is a great opportunity for the players to interact with each other and Marcelo while learning some skills and playing the game. Some of those attending the clinic will be selected as ball boys or girls for the Mexico National team game the following day.

After working the soccer event in Dallas on Friday, May 30, I will drive down to Houston for Free Press Summer Fest, May 31 – June 1. This two day festival grows bigger and better every year. My Fancy Pants Pass gives me rapid entry, access to air-conditioned tents, access to shorter bar lines and some private viewing areas. I bought them at the blind-pre-sale for less than what even the general admission passes are going for now.

 

 

Though I am most excited about Chvrches, I am also thrilled to see Jack White, The Kills, Vampire Weekend, Edward Sharpe…, Big Gigantic, Tune-yards, Washed Out, Lord Huron, Wildcat! Wildcat!, First Aid Kit, Poolside – and that is just to name a few. I am sure you understand the level of my excitement. Tickets are still available and if you search around may find someone selling them for less than the current face-value.

 

something new

I had driven my sun & hail damaged ‘06 Volvo s60 for far too long. The A/C had gone out, needed new struts and several other costly repairs. It was time for a new car. Since the temperature was beginning to rise, I was more motivated to look into new vehicles. Though Volvo had been good to me and I enjoyed several of their other models, I decided it was time for something new.

When considering a new vehicle, I was concerned with safety, comfort and, of course, style. The car would also need enough cargo space for my massage table. I looked at some sedans and also SUVs. The sedan that I was most attracted to was the Audi A4 (well any Audi for that matter). The new A3 was more within my price range but lacked the cargo room I needed. The A4 would suffice on that front but lacked the horsepower I desired. This would mean for Audi I would need something like the S4 or the A6. With that A becoming an S and the 4 becoming a 6, the $$ became $$$ or greater.

A sedan that caught me by surprise considering its ride, pick-up and additional bells & whistles was the Kia Optima Turbo. I enjoyed how well it handled and the price was far easier to swallow than the luxurious Audi. The rear window is smaller though and can’t see why that large of a blind-spot would be a good thing.

When it came down to it, I really wanted something more than a sedan. I missed being higher-up like I had been in my Durango from long ago. I really wanted an SUV. Once I had settled on an SUV, the Jeep Grand Cherokee really fit the bill when considering what I was looking for in a vehicle. Additionally, I really liked the Granite Gray color, knew I wanted leather seats, and also wanted the 4×4. Those last two additions raise the cost a little but insured that I was getting precisely what I wanted.

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The dealership didn’t have an exact match on the lot but found one in Katy and drove it here. After they looked things over, they handed the keys over to me. I love it. Specifically enjoying being higher up for the first time since my Durango which I drove 2001 – 2006, like that it is 4 wheel drive but AWD the rest of the time; and it has an eco mode, which kicks it down a couple cylinders, shifting sooner, saving on fuel. The Satellite Radio, navigation system, and back-up camera are also wonderful features. I truly look forward to enjoying this vehicle for years to come.

 

 

miscellaneous monday: motivation

As you may have gathered, or those of you who are regularly readers, miscellaneous mondays have been missing. This is because even though the topics were miscellaneous the weekly occurrence of such posts were not. Today, I write miscellaneous about something that is indeed miscellaneous.

Coaching youth soccer, or coaching any sport for that matter, teaching techniques and tactics are a heavy part of it. Physical fitness, or athleticism, is a necessity as well. Those three are rarely overlooked, whereas the psychological aspect of the game can be and often is. There are teams, whose players I have coached, were very technically sound, tactically brilliant and incredibly athletic. However, if that fourth – mental – aspect is left out, there is no motivation, desire or passion.  A will to win can often be blown off the field by a light breeze.

There are many aspects of the psyche; I will not address them all today, but did want to touch on motivation. I am never short of surprised at the things that motivate some of my youth soccer players. Last season, I wrote a little about the purple marker that reminded me to have fun while I am out there. This season, having some of the same girls mixed with some new ones, I would need to find what motivated them. They too were excited about the purple marker but never quite enough to get the job done.

Last Sunday, at halftime of a scoreless game, two players approached me asking, “if we score two or three goals will you shave your beard?”

To which I replied, “well which is it? two? or three?” They quickly went with a definite “two!”

I agreed “if y’all score two girls AND win, I will shave my beard.” We won 2-1 and very few people recognize me. 🙂 Very worth it though and since then we have tied 1-1 and won 3-1 (the win coming yesterday meant my assistant Dave had to shave his beard.)

Naturally, I would love for the girls to be intrinsically motivated instead of something like a purple marker or beard or even a purple beard. For now, in practices I am working to instill a competitiveness through a number of games and series of drills. Ideally, their competitive side will grow and they will eventually share my desire to win. Until then, I will continue to regrow my beard and promise to shave it upon their success.

P.S. Writing this post, I realized how many other angles I can write about motivation and most likely will in the not too distant future.

sxsw, the rest of the story

After spending Sunday recovering from SX and yesterday mourning its passing, I can finally sit down to process the event. After my Thursday morning post, the return of sxjd, things really picked up for me. Pandora Discovery Den became a home base for me, I met a number of other fascinating people and Lindsey was finally able to make it into town.

The Gatsby played host to Pandora for the week. Tommy Page came through on his promise from Wednesday and added me to the VIP list. Sometimes a VIP badge or wristband is just that, an item.  The things it can get you include some of, but rarely all of, the following: expedited or separate entrance; free drinks or food or both; a separate, often elevated viewing platform. This particular wristband provided all of the above. I think I most enjoyed being able to actually speak with the staff of Pandora and its associates, as well as those that work at The Gatsby. Turns out, I have a number of mutual friends with the owner, Scott Cook. I most assuredly look forward to returning once they renovate and reopen.

Thursday, Lee Fields & the Expressions opened my day up. Mr. Fields soulfully rocked it. While he is  in his sixties, and played during the 60’s, he backed by a band whose members are closer to my age. This show was a gem because it won’t be too long before we will no longer hear this genuinely soulful music live. Generations that follow may try to replicate it and will possibly get away with it because none of them have experienced the real thing, but it just won’t be the same. Following this show, The Coup gave me the best hip-hop performance of my week. Especially impressed by the talents of Silk-E.

For Thursday evening we rendezvoused at Rainey Street. Lustre Pearl had a hip-hop showcase which a friend let us into; incidentally, we returned the favor with our bar tabs. Lindsey, Taylor, Allison and I did not stay at Lustre Pearl long. As hip-hop is not our favorite genre and it takes a really good act to keep us engaged. We ventured down to Container Bar, the newest establishment on Rainey. As the name suggests, the bar is constructed of shipping containers. They were hosting DJ’s for the week by Filter #rethinkmusic; I posted a picture of the place #rethinkarchitecture. We did go back to Lustre for  Schoolboy Q. Though he was significantly better than the acts playing Lustre earlier, I don’t have much to say about him; nor will I see him again.

Friday, Pandora for The Mowgli’s followed by Boy & Bear. Both of these bands fall into a genre of music that I prefer. This beginning set the tone for the day. After Pandora we went to the Cedar Door, a frequent hangout for us at SX. This year’s party was sponsored by Naked Grape. Per usual, they brought in good line-ups. We caught the end of The Dolls, which both Lindsey and I really liked. In addition to an elite musical talent, they also rated high on showmanship. During the MIsterwives set, we headed to Fader Fort then (due to line) decided to meet some friends for dinner and drinks at The Hightower instead. This is an establishment I will revisit in the future. We specifically enjoyed the pickled suspects and pork jowl tacos. For Friday night, we returned to Lustre Pearl, catching the Internet, Panama and LeMaitre, with DJ sets in between. Panama, familiar to me from Spotify,  proved to be one of my top shows for the week.

Saturday, I spent the day with my brothers Joe & Robert and roommate (also considered a brother) Jacob. We spent our entire Saturday at the Pandora Discovery Den at The Gatsby. This is when I realized that Jacob knew Scott and was able to meet him as well. The day shows were all good. Kishi Bashi followed by Lindsey Stirling were both brilliant. After their shows, someone arranged Fireball shots for the entire upstairs VIP bar. This is the largest shot call I have ever been a part of or even witnessed. The final day show was Black Lips. I liked their performance here more than the time I saw them at Fun Fun Fun Fest, where Val Kilmer was the main attraction as some promotional production piece.

Saturday evening, we went back for more Gatsby. Marie Miller led things with a folk/bluegrass set. My brother Joe actually spent a good time talking with her and my photo of her band is now on Entertainment Weekly’s website.  Moon Taxi was up next; an indie-rock band that I look forward to seeing again. They will be included in an additional post which will feature music (or videos) from my favorites of the fest. Little Daylight, the next act, also makes that list. After a stand up set from Albert Hammond Jr., which drew celebrity Macaulay Culken, only one show remained. Bleachers!! Thought some of the acts I saw throughout the week featured bands that have grown and matured over months or years since I last saw them, Bleachers proved to have done the same in just three days. They were bigger, louder and better “better – better – better” than the Palladia showcase. It was a great way to end such a wonderful week.

There will be a supplemental SXSW 2014 post: featuring my pictures and the web’s music clips from my favorite bands. Additionally, possibly most importantly, here is a link to help the victims of the drunk driver that careened into a crowd. SXSWCARES

the return of sxjd

As the winds of SX blow music into full swing, today is a good time to give a little report on my adventures so far. Another way to consider it is, three days down, three to go; even though the next three are supposed to be bigger! For now pictures have been posted on my Instagram & Twitter but I will come back and add some of the better ones here, later on.

On Monday, I started my SXSW with a long line at the Spotify House. Last year, the house was at Cenoté, my favorite Austin coffee shop but this year they moved closer to the action, into a building (and backyard) on 6th street. About 30 minutes into my wait, and 10 minutes away from walking away altogether, some friends of mine sent me a text from @sxspotify that allowed me to skip the line. Inside, free drinks and great music from: Holy Child – Jetta – Phantogram.

After Spotify, my friend Chris and I headed to Scoot Inn for the Applauze party. Check out their app, a way to follow events and even RSVP. This was a party I was looking forward to because MS MR was one the headliner. My phone was near death and I asked a guy near me (who I noticed still rocked the ancient 4s like me; Apple, feel free to send me a 5s) if I could borrow a charger. He said sure, but instead of reaching in a pocket or a nearby backpack, he walked backstage and reached into his luggage. “Oh! You’re playing later?” “Ya, we were supposed to play now but due to noise ordinances we’ve been moved to later and inside.” This is important because I was sitting inside, in between sets of course, charging my phone when I asked a guy with a laptop to update me on the schedule. Apparently, he was in charge; he returned with a freshly printed schedule that he had just finished typing on said laptop. When I saw him later I asked if he’d seen Rich, because I had his phone charger. This seemed like a good time to ask if I could get some guys in that were stuck in the VIP line. Not a problem at all for him. By dropping his name to another staff member I also scored drink tickets for my friends and me. The line-up at Scoot Inn: Charli XCX – Robert Delong – MSMR – RAC (DJ set) – the kind and talented Rich Aucoin.

Tuesday, I started my day with yet another line to pick up my Hype Hotel wristband. That I will need it is yet to be seen. I stopped by the Empire Control Room and caught Stag. After this I ran over to the Spotify House as home base. My text worked again but then noticed others with the text were turned away. Meaning I may not make it back to Spotify this year. After regrouping at a friend’s apartment we all walked to Cedar Street Courtyard for Dyn’s party. Here I became a philanthropist VIP – making sure non vips were having a good time and not spending a ton of money – if anything the bartenders received more of a tip 🙂  Though we were there for the headlining Deertick, we also caught these shows: Tan Vampires – Baskery – STRNGRS – The Felice Brothers – J Roddy Walston & the Business.

Wednesday was to be a day of music rather than party, self-implemented after over zealously VIP-ing it on Tuesday night. Pandora Discovery Den was where I began, another wristband pick-up and most definitely my favorite stage set-up yet. It is held at Gatsby, across 6th from Easy Tiger and right alongside Waller Creek. I caught just one show there this time around: Haerts (yes, that’s how it is spelled:)

I went back to the Empire Control Room because of Tuesday’s success in finding Stag. The lawn party was in full bloom outdoors, drawing a little more of a crowd than the day prior. Indoors, once again, was Simian Ghost.

After spending a bit at Empire I stopped in Parkside to treat my body to better food and drinks. While enjoying some oysters, I was personally able tell this to the man behind the Pandora Den’s vision, Tommy Page. I look forward to visiting the Den again later this week.

My final stop for the night was the Palladia party at Cedar Door. A small stage with big sound hosted a number of talented musicians and voices: Bravesoul – Johnnyswim – Sam SmithPhantogram (again, I know, so worth it) – Aloe Blacc & the Grand Scheme – Bleachers. I was most looking forward to Phantogram, as I knew them, but was very curious to see what the others would have to offer. I was not disappointed; contrarily even, quite impressed with Bleachers as this was their first show ever. Look for more from them in the near future.

Finally, those involved in last night’s tragic accident near the Mohawk are in my thoughts & prayers. I hope that everyone can manage to have a fun and safe rest of the week. Much Love!

on reading point-some-arbitrary-number

In mid-February, I posted a reading survey.01 to kickstart future posts to write about reading. I was curious what readers of my blog read, outside of blogs, primarily in book form. Today I report the results, including my answers and a promise for another survey soon. I will use  bold italics to highlight answer options from the survey.

My favorite author is Jonathan Tropper. I like his ability to bring even more life to everyday situations. His humor and wit are well-written into each of his characters. Most of his protagonist are similar to me in age, making them all the more familiar, relatable. I was happy to see the variety of answers I received from the favorite author; understanding as well that not everyone can pick just one. I could have narrowed results by asking for a favorite from a particular time or place but left it wide open. Maybe future posts will explore those specifications. At any rate, check out Tropper’s books. If you need a place to start – This is Where I Leave You will be in theaters September 2014: starring Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda & Adam Driver (to name a few).

I read a pretty good balance of literary fiction, non-fiction, and fantasy/science-fiction. The results of the survey proved the same for its participants. I try to read at least three books a month, whereas most of those surveyed read less than one. The second most popular number ranged between one and three. I also still read printed books. It is followed by a close second by audio-books (which I still call books on tape, not unlike this guy). Those surveyed reported that they mostly read printed books. It was followed by both printed and digital but more digital and just digitally downloaded books. Unfortunately, I did not include audio-books in this survey but will illuminate the medium in an eventual post. This past weekend, I had an interesting conversation about the word ‘medium’ itself. So maybe we can explore some diction in the future as well.

This post comes only days before my full-immersion in SXSW, which will most likely dominate my blog for the next couple of weeks. I do not want to abandon the topic of reading and will assuredly return to it once “South By” subsides.

storytelling

One of the reasons I love to write is the opportunity to tell stories. Most of the time, I am telling my own story, whether of a new experience or my opinion’s effect on how I live. As a ghostwriter I have the additional opportunity to write the stories of others. Everyone has a story; everything has a story.  Our experiences make us individuals, every individual has their own story to tell.

Recently, I met a couple of guys and we were cordially sharing what we do, who we are and where we were from. I mentioned my main three occupations but per usual, the ghostwriter label stuck out. These two were fascinated with idea that I met with people and told their story; even more so that I could make a living doing this. One guy said, “so, you’re a storyteller?” This question really struck a chord with me. Storyteller is a much more interesting occupation than ghostwriter. It is a more refreshing way to tell others what I do.

Sharing your story is important. Tell others of your adventures: whether you have hiked Kilimanjaro (as my cousin Annie just did) or weekly make a difference by volunteering. People need to hear stories; histories and adventures, stories of love and suffering. Stories add to our humanity, bring us closer to each other and sometimes make life worth living. Additionally, I hope you can seek people out and listen to their stories. There is so much to learn by listening.

sxsw 2014 rsvp’s (updated)

That time of the year to begin RSVP’ing to all things SXSW. Last year, was the first year that I attended some of the interactive parties and hope to do so again this year. However, this also means that my SXSW starts sooner.  I attend SXSW to meet people, enjoy great music, and spend time with friends. There are a number of day and night parties that allow one to do just that, while enjoying free drinks and sometimes food as well. Some parties require rsvp and then wristband pick-up prior to party; be sure to read the fine print.

RSVP’s competed to date (mostly music), click on the party to open the RSVP:

Sparefoot – Friday, March 7

Spotify,  Monday – Friday

Applauze – Monday, Scoot Inn

Windish Agency Party – Friday @ Mohawk

Fader Fort, Wed – Sat

Pandora, Wed – Sat @ The Gatsby

Red Bull Sound Select, Wed – Sat

Universal Music Group – Thurs & Fri @Palm Door

Filter: Showdown at Cedar Street, Thur – Sat

Filter: Haggar @ SXSW, Clive Bar – Rainey St. Wed & Thur

Filter: Dutch Impact Day Party, Bar 96 – Rainey St.  Wednesday

Filter: Dr. Marten’s, Bar 96 – Rainey St. Thur & Fri

Filter: Tumblr, Clive Bar – Rainey St. Friday

The Hype Hotel, Tues – Sat @ 505 E. 7th

The Green Room, Wed – Sat @ The Brew Exchange

Paste, Wed & Thur

Fresh Catch, Wahoo’s, Thur – Sat

Rachel Ray Feedback, Sat @ Stubb’s

Urban Outfitters After Party, Sat. 10 – 4 am @ Scholz

and, of course, I will be on the look-out for a few others. I will add to the list above any new links worth checking out but the most immediate post will come via tweet.

There are many other free day and night shows that do not require any credentials or RSVP. Without any planning you can catch great acts at Waterloo Records, Hotel San Jose & Mellow Johnny’s.

v-day / b-day weekend

As I’ve mentioned before, birthday weekends for me are busy because of its proximity to Valentine’s Day. My Valentine’s Day was spent incidentally with two of my brothers, Joe David and Robert. I had taken care of Lindsey by sending flowers to her work, providing her with chocolate covered strawberries, unique chocolate bars and a bottle of champagne. So I went on a bro-date to one of my favorite bands, White Lies, who I have also mentioned before. This was at least the fifth time I have seen them and found them to be all the more talented and to have grown accordingly in their comfortably and maturity as artist. As it would turn out, Robert ended up going to their Sunday show in Houston too.

Saturday, I went to the new Whole Foods at the Domain. If you live in Austin and have not made it up there yet, definitely give it a go. The Draft Shack has 45 beers on draught and a small yet quality selection of oysters. I enjoyed a four-beer flight and three types of oysters. With each I chose one familiar taste. Though I posted these to twitter and untapped, I’ll repeat them here: The Hans Pils was my standard for the beer, I added the Austin Beerworks Peacemaker, Hops & Grain’s Pale Dog – Pale Ale and the North Coast Brewing Company’s Brother Thelonious. For oysters, Malpeques were my go to and I tried the Cavadish Cups of PEI and Chillmarks from MA. Though the shack, “shuckingly fabulous”, is my favorite place to eat at this particular location, there are several other options – a Ramen bar, taco bar, sushi bar and the like.

Sunday, I was under the impression that I was headed to Top Golf to meet with a couple guy friends. Key words “couple” & “guy” and my brother Joe had organized it. I thought a small gathering was going to be a good chance to get in some swings and catch up with these guys. Instead, it was a full on surprise party arranged my Lindsey. Several friends and couples I knew through her were there, as well as my sister Jessica and her family. The thing that got me the most was probably the fact that I was truly surprised. I will spare you with the millions of things that ran through my mind leading to, during and following this event but will sum it up with one sentence. The behind the scenes communication and organization that took place between my girlfriend and siblings may have been the greatest gift of all. Lindsey and I ended our evening with a very nice dinner at Arro. This a place worth checking out if you haven’t already.

Today, following a seven mile run, I was treated to Barefoot Contessa’s Sticky Buns. I placed a pic on my Instagram. Tonight we will end my wonderful valentines/birthday weekend with Lord Huron at Emo’s.