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.

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.

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.

miscellaneous monday: thanksgiving “break”

Thanksgiving to me is a time to celebrate the things I am thankful for. Naturally, this will vary year to year but there are some standards. Family, friends, food, football and fun are five of my standards; this year especially.

The family I enjoyed this season was on two separate occasions. My nephew Josh invited me to his pre-school’s thanksgiving lunch, an event in which I did Instagram. I enjoyed this invitation and secretly, until now of course, was happy he preferred my participation to that of his mom and dad. The second family edition for me this year was at my dad’s house in Warren, AR. Lindsey and my brother Robert rode up with me; additionally, Robert pointed out that this was his and my first long road trip. Lindsey had never been to Arkansas, seen the country life, or shot a gun before; all three were remedied on this trip. I was definitely happy to have her there and am pleased to announce that she has recovered from her culture shock.

Friends-givings are becoming more and more popular these days. Or maybe now that I am older, they are becoming more familiar to me. I met up with about two dozen friends this season, some that I have met more recently mixed with others I’ve known for a couple years. We passed around a bottle of champagne to cheers the things we were thankful for: our friendships, fellowships, fun, Austin, and music were among the top mentions. The event began around 2 p.m. that Saturday and didn’t wrap up until 2 a.m. the next day.

The food at both family and friend events was incredible. I was also able to enjoy Good Dog, Liberty Kitchen, and Onion Creek, all of Houston.

The past two weekends have featured some amazing football games. Saban’s poor coaching decision aside, Auburn’s last minute victory over Alabama was incredible. Whereas I agree with Michigan going for two. The NFL is finally seeing some good match-ups as well: Tom Brady come-backs, Peyton Manning, the Chiefs, and tonight’s Monday Night Football – Saints vs. Seahawks game.

Finally, the fun!! Anytime I get together with my family, whether my mom’s side with sisters and cousins or my dad’s with all my brother, we find a way – even create our own way sometimes – to have fun. Lindsey and I also enjoyed the company of a couple friends over this past weekend. We went to a show at Stereo Live in Houston for Paul Van Dyke on Friday and seemed to lose time as the night faded into the morning. We even met some new friends in the heights and have plans to continue the fun.

I love this time of year, not because of the cooler temps or Christmas lights, Holiday giving or receiving but because of the love and fun shared with others.

miscellaneous monday: boom kinetic’s future colonial

Naturally, it is hard for someone to be completely objective when listening to new music from someone they know. I would argue that feelings should always be incorporated into the listener’s decision to support and promote a band or sound. I grew up with Greg and Zach of Boom Kinetic, formally a cover band that now produces original and moving music. So to determine whether or not I loved the new album from Boom Kinetic, I re-examined their 2010 album “Part Gray / Part Bright Lights“. In this particular listen, I enjoyed several songs – Cursive, Cold Confidence & Hard to Say – but not necessarily the entire album. After this, I gave the new album “Future Colonial” another listen. The first song, The NIght I Closed My Eyes, is electronic and chill but with a moving energy that launches the listener into another world, a world that is a fantastic album.

The second song, Lie with the Lion, ranks among my favorites and I literally woke up this morning with sound waves of City Ocean echoing through my mind. I feel that each song brings something beautiful, complimenting the collection with thoughtful and often passionate lyrics mixed with choral harmonies and talented instrumental play.

After informing a fellow music enthusiast and blogger, Rachel Halliday, about “Future Colonial”, here is what she had to say:

Wow. I love their sound. And here’s how I know I really like them: call me amateur for this being by litmus test, but I didn’t skip a single song. And their lyrics are great too.

I especially loved City Ocean, Origins, and No Variations. And The Great Divide because I’m a sucker for any song/band that sings about the 4th of July. 🙂

The album, officially released last Friday and is available on iTunes. The band will be at The Rev Room in Little Rock this Friday, November 22 for an album release party.  If you are in Arkansas get yourself a ticket now, as to everyone else – download the album and see what you’ve been missing.

miscellaneous monday: thank you veterans

Though I have never served in the military, I have many friends that have. Some to the point of giving their life for our freedom. This particular video from ESPN came out last summer but moves me to tears every single time I watch it. In this season of Thanksgiving: Thank you to all of those who serve and protect this country.

miscellaneous monday: the long run

I started my day today with a long run; having that availability on a Monday is a perk of working for yourself. In Houston, I prefer to run along the Bayou. From the Heights I ran to Houston Ave. then head south to the Bayou. I head east then south to UH Downtown and hit the main bike/running path to head west to Memorial Park. Once I get to Memorial Park, I choose the number of loops or even which portion of the loop I need to run to match the mileage I want for the day. Today my goal was 20. To make things easier, I ran one direction around the loop until I reached ten total miles and then turned around, retracing my way back to the Heights. Two weeks ago, I ran 18 without any problem, but I did this in Austin, on good rest, and with balanced diet going in. Things like that matter when you plan to run so a long way. Today’s 20 was “just because”, as I have no races on the schedule. Today, I was put in my place.

The long run is an essential part of marathon training. To be a runner, you simply need to get out there and run; to be a marathoner, you must run 26.2 miles. Training for marathons you log many miles, but regardless of your weekly total, every week needs to feature a long run. These long runs challenge the body to endure, to maintain a pace over an extended period of time. Elite marathoners finish in just over two hours, while a good average-everyday-runner might shoot for closer to five hours and finally marathon course usually close eight hours after the last wave. Of course, there are many different breeds of runners all through that spectrum, with just as many factors enabling or disabling their run. My best is 3:17:09, while I have run most of my 13 marathons between 3:20 and 3:40.

Long runs for me are more than just a part of a training, they are often an adventure. Whether it be the route, restroom needs, fuel intake, or the people and places I see along the way. In addition to a physical challenge, it is a way for me to sort my thoughts, evaluate life’s equations and restore a since of balance to my mind. So this morning, when a tired, ill-prepared (sleep, hydration, nutrition) runner (me!!) found himself 18 miles into a run and still two miles from home, he walked. I had pushed his body far enough for one day and left it able to run another. Though my goal had been 20, without a specific race on the schedule and having already met my needs for an adventure, 18 was adventurous enough for today.

miscellaneous monday: purple pressure

In addition to running, writing and massage therapy, I am also a youth soccer coach. My coaching career has allowed me to stay involved in the beautiful game of soccer while also having a positive influence working with today’s youth. One could argue that my dad being a coach (American football, of course) has something to do with my choice to accept such a path myself. Though I have coached high school and college players, I am currently coaching with Lonestar Soccer Club at the Junior Academy level. We work to develop players age seven through ten, giving them the foundations they need technically (the ability and skill they have with the ball), tactically (decisions they make on the field, how they use their skills), physically & psychologically. The fundamentals they learn through our program enable them to grow in their understanding, appreciation and execution of the game.

I enjoy coaching for many reasons but unfortunately can get caught up in the result sometimes. Recently, the girls team that I coach requested I replace my dried out expo marker with a purple one. Incidentally, I had one at home and brought it the game the next day. The girls were beyond excited. I took note that such a simple thing was able to bring them such immediate joy. After a challenging first half, the team seemed less than optimistic and slightly down. We had just finished discussing the need to pressure the ball when the other team was in possession; the importance of time and space in the game that defensively we wanted to eliminate the opponent’s ease-of-play. Prior to running back onto the field to begin the second half, we cheer something to get our spirits up… YOU know what a cheer is for. In this case we would cheer “pressure” but noticing their faces and posture I decided to change it up a little. I decided instead of pressure, we would cheer “PURPLE” and follow it with a whisper “pressure”. The cheer did the trick, we were able to finish the game strong and walk-away heads held high. We have adopted it as our regular halftime cheer. This single cheer manages to remind us to have fun and keep our composure under pressure. It reminds me to enjoy the game, the improvement, and the opportunity to encourage such enthusiasm.

miscellaneous monday: friends without limits music festival

The Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL) featured some familiar names but maybe too familiar; the only one I was really looking forward to seeing again was The National. Which is why I wasn’t in a hurry to buy an overpriced ticket this year. When the second weekend rolled around and a friend of mine had a spare 3 day pass, we made a deal and I got to go.

There were some new-to-me shows that I experienced and enjoyed including: Haim, Kaskade and Junip. Incidentally, I don’t want to write this post about music but about something in particular from this year’s festival. Something that goes beyond the amazing addition of the craft beer tent or the feeling of falling rain while the beat drops during Kaskade. During a great show from Grimes on Saturday, three people were pushing their way through the crowd. They stopped right in front of our group. I am not sure of their age but know they were young and it was evident that one girl “very far gone on some sort of substance.” She stumbled back and forth, bumping into everyone, even as she tried to stand still. Her friends, one of which I think was her sister, were not recognizing that this girl needed a break. She needed some shade and space and water. Then the thing happened, the thing that this stumbling, mumbling girl did not need – the two people she was with, left her. No one in my group could believe that she had been abandoned.

My group was made up of two couples and another couple guys that I had met just the day before, Friday of ACL. The seven of us stuck together and were there not just to enjoy the shows but to enjoy each other enjoying the shows. The girl being left behind, drove home the point that FRIENDS HELP FRIENDS. Had any one of us been in a similar situation, we would have made sure that person was taken care of. I can say I know this because we did have a couple close calls, where members of our group had maybe partied too hard. We made sure they had what they needed and cared for them. I truly hope that what I saw on Saturday was an anomaly and most people stick together and help each other in a time of need.

Sunday was rained out due to massive amounts of rain on Saturday night, meaning flooding, meaning I missed The National. Props to those few bands that did manage to play indoor shows throughout the city on Sunday. Though I was bummed to miss The National, I understand the need to cancel the final day of the fest. Many people in Austin had their homes or cars flooded; much bigger than whether or not I got to see a particular band.

Question now is whether ACL will do one or two weekends next year. Though, potentially more people get to experience the fest with two weekends, I know several folks that went twice. Additionally, I am curious how they made out financially with the prices dropping significantly from the first weekend to the second. I also think that so many festival details, that make ACL such a great fest, seemed to fall through the cracks. Maybe C3 has spread themselves too thin.

miscellaneous monday: menomena & helio sequence

Last Friday, while most of the music lovers that live in Austin were down the road at ACL Fest, I spent the evening at Mohawk. Mohawk is one of my favorite venues in Austin, run by good people that appreciate great music. This night in particular they introduced me to Menomena, whose music I have shared above. The group has been making music for a while but they are new to me. The band as it is now, produced its best album yet in 2012, even after losing an original member to his solo-career.

My history with The Helio Sequence dates back to SXSW 2008. Since then, I have seen them three other times, all in Austin, all memorable and magnificent. I have purchased all of their albums and regularly play any one of them at any given time, all to the way through. When they were introduced, as if they needed an introduction, their music was called “absorbable”; it sticks with you versus many of the “consumable”  records we see come and go. Here is a taste of your new favorite band; catch ’em on tour if you can.