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.

fpsf five

Though I missed Wildcat! Wildcat!, First Aid Kit, & Lord Huron due to the rains, Free Press was still a success. We made it down just in time for Chvrches, who went beyond my expectations and were my favorite act of the weekend. That show combined with White Noise, a specialty brew from Saint Arnold, made my Fest complete.

The rest of the weekend was compiled of great acts that I had seen before: Big Gigantic, Washed Out, Poolside, Edward Sharpe & Jack White; some old school music: Welcome to Houston and Wu-Tang; some new music: Anamanaguchi and White Sea. My Line-up and links below.

The stage locations had changed from years past nearly eliminating The Hill that had become such an integral part of my FPSF experience. One main stage still featured The Hill on the side of it but it lacked the stadium or amphitheater feel. The stages that were on the street meant less impact on the grass and parks but unfortunately meant it was harder to get around to other stages. The one thing I would change from this years set-up would be additional restrooms; in the center of the festival and in the fancy pants areas. I am glad to see this festival continue to grow providing more must-see acts and adding to the overall fun-level; I just hope that the organizers and staff can keep up with its growth.

SATURDAY SUNDAY
Chvrches Washed Out
Welcome to Houston White Sea
Anamanaguchi Poolside
Ishi The Kills
Big Gigantic Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros
Twin Shadow Wu-Tang Clan
Zedd Jack White

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.

 

April Shows

Austin always has great live music but the month of April proved greater than most. This is said with consideration that March has its SXSW and October its ACL. Two of the bands from my current top five played her in April in addition to another great live band that I saw long ago, before they were big.

Arcade Fire played the Austin 360 Amphitheater on April 10. We took a party bus from downtown Austin – which we learned is the way to travel out to 360 if the band you want to see isn’t playing IN town. Of course we brought along all the essential party supplies and enjoyed ourselves in a way that we could not have, had we driven ourselves. When the tour was initially announced, it was requested that attendees wear “formal attire”. Some people didn’t like this at first thought but I was happy to see a good percentage of folks decide to give it a go. I wore what I called “fun formal” including Loud Mouth Golf pants, a tuxedo shirt, bow tie and cumber bun. Prior to the show we also did some tailgating of sorts and had our share of pictures in the bluebonnets.

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The actual concert was true to form with an unmatched musical performance, show effects of lights, confetti, dancing, music and large paper mache heads of the Pope and Obama. They played mostly from their new album but a good number of older songs as well. Those of us up close in the pit did our fair share of dancing our pants off, some literally.

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The National played the Moody Theater, also known as ACL Live, three consecutive nights. They sold out every night, which speaks to their talent and Austin’s good taste. Since I was out of town the first night and had soccer the second, I attended the third. At least that’s what I tell people. Honestly, the first two nights sold out before I had a chance to grab a ticket so I had to wait until the third, magical, night was added. Though I went to this show alone, I enjoyed running into some old friends and meeting & hanging with some new ones. Concerts are good places to meet people because you know you already have something in common; it is an experience that you can build upon. Warpaint opened and you know I am a sucker for a front woman, this is a band of four. I had seen these girls before, at an ACL once upon a time, but felt this may have been one of their better shows. They had certainly matured musically. The National was, as one of my friends put it “soul crushingly amazing”; I might change that slightly by adding an -ly to amazing and wrapping the description up with beautiful. The universal humanity of their lyrics reaches deep within the individual whose ears they fall upon. Matt passionately poured out his heart in each song. He even got the crowd involved by firstly walking throughout the entire crowd and ultimately having us all sing along to an acoustic Vanderlyle. The full set list can be found HERE on my Instagram.

Since Vampire Weekend is set to play at FPSF in Houston at the end of May, I had initially passed on the ticket to Stubb’s. When I realized how many friends were attending, and considering Stubb’s is my favorite venue, I picked up a ticket from a couple just before they unloaded to a money-hungry-scalper. The show held a friendly happy feeling to it general and it was good to be there with friends. It was also good to be a little nostalgic, thinking back to when I saw them at indoors (at a pre-remodeled) Mohawk a number of years ago with just a handful of people indoors versus this sold-out show at Stubb’s. I look forward to seeing them again at the end of May, but the details of that festival are reserved for this Friday’s post.

 

Copa Coca-Cola

Once you have worked in a field as long as I have coached soccer, you become connected with enough people to connect you to other people. This was how I became involved with UK International Soccer and the Copa Coca Cola. After helping run a San Antionio tournament, one of the ten regional events across the US, I was invited to LA for nationals. To qualify to attend, the teams had to win their respective regional. Over the weekend of April 16 -18, I flew with a team from Houston as a chaperone/coach to the Copa Coca Cola National Tournament. Coca-cola, Delta, McDonald’s, Walgreens, and Starwood Hotels sponsored the tournaments. The regional champions were flown out (expenses paid) to LA for the weekend.The games were held at the Stub0hub center, an enormous soccer mecca that hosts the LA Galaxy. The national champions were entered into a drawing for the Grand Prize, trip to the opening ceremony and a week-long camp in Brazil for the World Cup this summer. Former players Marcelo Balboa, Shannon MacMillan and Kevin Hartman were there throughout the weekend – encouraging, coaching, hashtagging and signing autographs. I was very impressed, encouraged even, to see their level of involvement. All in all it was a great opportunity for the kids and I hope to help with similar events in the future.

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Marcelo Balboa, Shannon MacMillan, & Kevin Hartman talking to the girls before their game.

The girls’ team from Houston flew out early and home a day late so I did not travel with them but was pleased to work with them throughout their stay in LA. They made it to the semi-finals on Sunday morning where they faced a composed, patent and highly-skilled team from Seattle. At the weekend’s end, I relayed to the girls that I felt they represented the Houston area well, on and off the field. The boys faced tough competition as well but came away from the tourney with a 1 – 2 – 1 (win-loss-tie) record. I also enjoyed experiencing the flights with them; it was a first-time flight for five of the eight. We also had a short layover in Salt Lake City making it the boys first time to see mountains and snow. In addition to the wonderful soccer played the weekend also featured the World Cup Trophy Tour. As tournament participants we were VIP’s and enjoyed a special viewing of the trophy. Additionally, we were front & center at LA Live that night for a concert from David CorreyAloe Blacc, and Wisin. I often take my many concert experiences, and flying experiences for that matter, for granted so it was really cool to see the kids get to experience such an event.

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Back here in Austin, my soccer season has just wrapped up. Girls and two of the boys will move up to select while the rest of the boys will return to the academy next year. I had debated putting my name in the hat for a select team but think for now I would prefer the flexibility to work for UK Soccer again. Events like the clinic I’ve been asked to work in Dallas on Friday, May 30, with Marcelo Balboa.

 

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.

best of sxsw 2014, sights & sounds

Here are the bands I enjoyed the most for SXSW 2014:

Panama

Lindsey Stirling 

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Kishi Bashi

MSMR

Moon Taxi

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Bleachers

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Phantogram

So that should get you started on some good music.  I also want to give Honorable Mentions to The Dolls, Haerts, Simian Ghost, The Mowgli’s and Boy & Bear. Most Improved since last time I saw them live goes to: Charli XCX. Most of these shows I owe to Palladia and Pandora; wonderful music selections this year. Other pictures I took can be found on my Instagram.

Happy Listening!! Much Love!!

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

little rock marathon, a visit home

At the end of January, as I have blogged about, I attended the Arkansas Heart Association Heart Ball. During the event, there were a number of things in the auction. I chose to bid on an entry to the Little Rock Marathon. The package included registration fee and a $50 gift card to a local running store, Go! Running. My starting bid of $60 won; meaning I would return to Arkansas only five weeks later. This made me glad to have a race on the schedule and happy for the opportunity to return home. Since my training had not been in full swim and I had such a short time to prepare, I opted for the half versus the sold-out full.

Last Wednesday, I began my journey up from Austin for this half-marathon. I stopped in Magnolia to visit family there, including my 92 year old grandmother (sharing stories), and stayed until Friday. On Friday, I finished my trip to Little Rock. Just outside of the city, my aunt Amy and uncle Pat have a home set on 20 acres that looks up to West Pinnacle.  It is one of my favorite places in the area and since my parents no longer live in Little Rock, I decided to stay here. When pick up my packet on Friday I ran into a friend from high school, Thomas Chapin. He is now an ultra-marathoner, runner-up in the 2012 Arkansas Traveler 100. Thomas said it best with, “a half-marathon is a great excuse to visit home.”

This is really what this trip has been about, a trip home. During this trip, I have been able to see most of my family. The race may have been the instigator for the trip but it was never really the focus for me. Turned out to be a good thing too. The weather for the race was not ideal. It was mid-50’s at the race start and 38* when I finished – raining, to some extent, the entire time – with winds ranging from 15 – 25 mph. This was my first time for me to race that distance in the rain, first time to run that untrained, first time to run with the temperature dropping and first time I was super thankful to have simply run the half versus the full. I typically prefer to keep running.  All in all I was happy with my 1:43 time. Though some around me found ways to complain about the conditions, I did my best to just enjoy being out there. The marathon was eventually (around 11:30) rerouted due the weather; the race officials and organizers handled everything wonderfully.

Today, I am iced in. It is the coldest day in March, in Arkansas, EVER. The weather that came through yesterday, Winter Storm Titan, left a blanket of ice on the roads from Central Arkansas north to Missouri. As the day goes on, the roads are fine about 45 miles south of here but getting to the interstate is one thing while driving on that ice for 45 miles is another. That said, I will spend another day here enjoying family.

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.