Daily Schedule

As a part of my efforts to improve work / life balance, a schedule is essential. I jotted down a list of some the things that I need in my daily schedule in order to be successful at work and in life. Currently, the daily schedule looks like a summer camp for of mindfulness and self-improvement. I have decided not to restrict myself to allotted times, rather granting some wiggle room (this freedom allows my creativity and productivity to thrive).

Running / Fitness 

Days are better for me when I run. It jumpstarts my day, gets my blood flowing; it challenges me yet calms me. Beginning the day with the run, I have accomplished something the the rest of the day cannot take away from. During runs, I am able to process thoughts, experience the outdoors, and stay in strong physical shape. The fitness is listed as some days will fall under a recovery day, those days will include yoga, core strengthening, swimming or cycling.

Writing

My self-awareness is higher, mindfulness more abundant when I write. With the practice of writing, I include a few moments of meditation. I reflect and plan, note expectations and experiences, challenges and successes; as well as potential places for improvement. Sometimes is a reflective journal entry, other times it becomes more of an essay on life or a testimony about certain elements within my life.

Coffee

Over the past several years, coffee has become a staple. It is more than just a shot of caffeine for me; I truly enjoy the flavors that different coffee’s provide. Though Cuvee Coffee is my absolute favorite, I like finding new coffee’s – especially when I travel.

Community

We all need people. Funny enough, I was recently reminded of this through the Lego Batman movie. Granted I watched it at a time when there was a great shift in what I thought I knew regarding my future. The themes that rang true were family, friends, and Not-going-it -alone. Even though each of us may be strong as individuals we are stronger together. Often times. experiencing places, things or events with others adds a significant amount of value to that moment.

Sports

With a career in youth soccer development, sports are a piece of my everyday life. I enjoy watching most sports and keep up with the sport world. Of course, it is most enjoyable when I get to play as well.

Learning

Currently, learning some things about myself, as individual (outside of a relationship). I look to learn something new daily – whether it pertain to the world, nutrition, the Spanish language, or the driver’s education course which I am enrolled.

Outdoors 

Nature. It does so many good things for the soul. Beyond breathing fresh (for the most part) air, sunshine, water, greenery and touching the actually earth  – each of these appeal to the senses and enhance life.

Relaxation

Any or all of these activities or items can be combined. After two weeks with this schedule, only the writing portion has be solitary (or just coupled with coffee). This was necessary at the time; now that I share some of that with you, it falls under community.

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.

 

never look back, never give up (a year end review)

Today’s title comes from the band Haim’s song, Falling.  Haim is just one of the bands that I fell in love with this past year. Others include Air Review, Lord Huron, Chvrches, Poolside, Phantogram, The Joy Formidable and St. Lucia.  Phosphorescent’s Song for Zula takes my song of the year, at the least.

White Lies, Local Natives, The National and Arcade Fire gave us new albums. I was able to catch a Mumford & Sons‘ show with my brother Joe and two of my cousins, Mary Elizabeth and Annie.

My year began with a snowboarding trip with my brother Joe. He is a skier but gave boarding a go. It was a good, yet cold adventure. At the end of the month and in contrast, I took Lindsey to Playa del Carmen, Mexico for her 30th birthday. We enjoyed the warm weather and beach views from the pool plus its fruity and sugary drinks. The few days we were there reminded us that we could take a vacation and simply relax versus go – go – go.

Three other trips that Lindsey and I took, and I have already blogged about include, Vancouver, Chicago and Charlotte.  Vancouver, in May, to visit the fabulous city and I ran the marathon. The Chicago trip was to visit some old friends and celebrate the 4th of July. Charlotte was to visit her family and explore what the city has to offer; we took a second trip there for Christmas.

Two of my favorite places to eat in Houston grew this past year. Good Dog, formally a food truck, opened its brick and mortar in the heart of the Heights; walking distance from Lindsey’s. Liberty Kitchen, still a favorite in the Heights, opened a second location that has a gorgeous interior and a Japanese influenced menu. My final word regarding food and drink in 2013 would be the introduction of the Untappd app. It allows me to find, track and rate the many craft beers I get to experience.

Finally, some life experiences of note. Two of my brothers graduated from college. One of which, Robert, has been living in Houston for all of 2013, meaning I was able to see him more. Some of my most memorable dining and concert experiences included that young lad. Running is a major part of my life. This year I ran fewer marathons and less mileage overall but found joy in coaching running. I helped a few friends run their best races, whether it was a 10k, half marathon or marathon. Coaching two soccer teams, I was reminded the happiness that can be found in coaching soccer, the fun to be had while learning. To top them all, last Saturday my niece, Mary Elizabeth, said “Wuv you!” for the first time, it was to me, her uncle John.

I look forward to the adventures, meaning and moments that 2014 will bring!

where are you going, where have you been

I stole the title of Joyce Carol Oates’ beautiful short story to write a little about transition. The past three weeks I have been on a whirlwind of many mini-travels. Which may sound more exciting than the actual relaxing atmosphere they presented. During my trips to Arkansas, back to Texas, Florida, Arkansas again, Texas, then to North Carolina and finally back to Texas, I did some writing and reading, experienced some new places and feelings but neglected to report them here.

The first trip was to Arkansas for one of my youngest brothers’, Daniel, college graduation. I am proud of his journey into adulthood, which is maybe more of a fatherly or grandfatherly thing to say. My brothers and my sisters have all made me proud in their own way. Honestly, no two of them have shared a reason for me to think highly of them. Their uniqueness surely spawns from my unique upbringing, our one-of-a-kind relationships. 

The back to Texas portions of my trip were simply to regroup, repack, and reset in order to set out again. 

The Florida trip was to meet up my mom and step-dad, Flip. For mom’s 60th birthday, she would stop along the way at sewing and quilting shops. She has surely found her niche. The quilts in my living room are regularly enjoyed by roommates and myself. I enjoyed playing three rounds of golf with Flip, including twice at the beautiful yet challenging course at Magnolia Landing. These Florida courses played host to a number of amazing birds and few alligators. 

From Florida we drove, along scenic highways and busy interstates, back up to Arkansas. We made in time for a family Christmas that featured more children than ever. Even though we were missing a couple of the cast, we managed to have a good time catching up and may have begun a new tradition of driving to Haynesville, LA for a Rita or Pina Colada. I look forward to seeing everyone again at the end of January. 

The final portion of my trip, after another reset in Austin of course, was out to Charlotte, NC to spend Christmas with Lindsey and her family. Everyone has their own Holiday traditions, it was good to see Lindsey enjoying hers with her family. One of the things I personally liked best was that everyone put a little something in everyone else’s stocking. A manageable task since there were only 5 of them. 

That is where I have been, exploring without reporting. Where I am going constitutes keeping a better record of such travels as they occur. As I use the turn of the calendar to regroup, repack and reset, I also hope to be better about making sure these people in my life know how much I love them.

my coffee journey

Though my coffee experiences are not as well-traveled as Afar Magazine’s Andi Fisher, I would like to share my mostly ‘domestic’ coffee story. I did not drink coffee in college, I found my caffeine by drinking Sweet Tea and Coca-cola (which have now been replaced by new vices: coffee and whisky). My first job after college required early meetings. The first day was fine but come the second and third, I began to wonder if I could last. I decided to try out the office pot of (no doubt) Maxwell House. I added sugar and cream and sugar to taste and found this helpful, almost necessary, for me to enjoy it. As a late bloomer, I hadn’t experienced so much of what the world had to offer but considered this a good place to start.

My next job required late nights, early mornings and an insane amount of driving. Starbucks allowed me to stay awake and expand my coffee reach to sugary drinks like Carmel Macchiatos or Mochas. Though still a far cry from an Americano, I considered myself to be doing alright, since I was getting more coffee than the hot chocolate drinkers and latte-ist. I considered myself ‘branching out’ which could translate at the least to growing.

When racing off to coach early soccer games put me in more of a hurry, with nights prior leaving me wanting and finances that required less spending, I switched over to drip coffee. I would make it at home (Maxwell House again) or grab the house drip while out. This was growth – closer to being an actual “coffee drinker” but I was still adding cream and sugar, though less sugar than before.

I then progressed my way into no cream and less and less sugar. If I was somewhere with a less than desirable house brew, I would add a dash of cinnamon. The cinnamon became a good fall-back the more I traveled and eventually (unfortunately) made its way in before trying the coffee.

Of course, I didn’t like this and possibly my taste exploration in varietals of wine and whisky influenced my interests, but I wanted to know more – taste more – of what I was drinking. I started to search out coffee shops and ask the barista about the blends and brews they were serving. In my adventures, I then found a coffee shop in Austin that changed the way I thought about coffee and another that changed the way I enjoyed my coffee. Two more places in Austin to grab a cuppa.

The way I thought about coffee: Houndstooth Coffee had a black board of coffees and espressos – they asked that you choose your coffee then choose your method. When I saw the method bit I was a little taken aback. I could have a French Press, Pour Over, or Syphon. I had only heard of the French Press and decided to chose it my first time around. Since then I have switched to the Pour Over method and Houndstooth has switched to ‘choosing the method for you, per  your choice of coffee’. I agree with this change, this allows us to enjoy the coffee in the ideal way for it to be brewed. For more about brewing methods, check this out and if there is one near you, stop by for a cuppa too.

The way I enjoy coffee: Cenote, a coffee shop that I love and have blogged about before, offered a Las Mingas. After drinking this coffee straight, it changed the way I drank all other coffees. Cuvee Coffee makes other good blends as well, but it was Las Mingas that captured my heart. I have shared it with every other coffee drinker I know; most of which now drink their coffee straight too.