I’m Going To Phoenix!

I’m going to Phoenix tomorrow! My travelblogger senses are tingling.

I’ll be flying in for a training session happening in town, and I get to stay there until the 30th. I’m freaking stoked.

While I’ll be busy all day from 9-5, I’ll get to explore as much as I can at night. While I’m not sure whether I’ll be getting a rental car, I’ll still be able to stick to the city because of taxi’s and what have you.

Phoenix has great outdoor activities, but I just won’t have enough time to really appreciate them with a few hours of daylight. I’ll stick with the city.

Here’s a few things I want to do in downtown Phoenix.

Chase Field

I love baseball, so it would be nice to see an Arizona Diamondbacks game. I heard the stadium is breathtaking, and the team is actually really good. This tops the list for me.

FilmBar

This looks freaking amazing! It’s a movie theatre showing old cult-classics that doubles as a bar. My gosh, I’ve found something to do for two of my nights already.

Downtown

I wanna get into the city and see what nightlife it has to offer. Perhaps friday night before I fly back? My goodness, it’s going to be tough. My flight back is at 8 in the morning, meaning I need to get to the airport way ahead of time.

What should I do in Phoenix? Does anyone else have any suggestions? Let me know in the comments below 🙂

 

 

A Letter To My Parents

Do you remember our old house like I do? I must say my favorite places were always the upstairs and downstairs–the places that were the most secluded. I guess that’s the introvert in me coming out.

What about the middle, though? That’s where your room was, that’s where the kitchen was, and that’s where Rachel’s old room was.

It’s fitting that you lived right in the middle of our home because you were/are the center of our lives. Why didn’t I spend more time there?

I guess for a while I spent more and more of my time elsewhere. I guess I got a little annoyed with you guys, but who doesn’t at one point? You went from being idolized like superheros to basically being thrown into the scrap heap of my mind. Did you deserve that? Absolutely not.

I got annoyed because I was growing up. And as I grew up I developed a sarcasm that had no rival. I used that to hurt you guys. Boy, was I stupid.

It’s ironic that I miss you now more than ever–now that I’m 900 miles away. I used to live just a few feet away from you.

Being a parent isn’t easy. As Darnell says, “it’s a full time job.” I’ve realized parenting means having some tough love. It means pushing your child to be the best they can be in the classroom, athletics, and in life.

It means going the extra mile. It means putting in overtime, being there for our events, and talking to us. You guys went the extra mile.

But there’s something ironic about being a parent. You spend all that time raising us, helping us, and loving us and then we leave you when we’re grown.

That hurts, I know.

I want to honor you two. I want to use the lessons you taught me to make a positive impact on the world and those around me. I want to show you that your reach is larger than you thought.

You both know I report on baseball games. When I’m sitting there in the stands, watching, I notice so much more than what’s happening on the field. I notice the parents, the children running around, and the coaches.

I notice the mother taking pictures of her son behind the backstop. I notice the father that’s yelling something in spanish to his son while he’s up at bat. I notice the younger siblings sitting in attendance.

At the end of the game I get to interview those who I deem are the standouts. Sometimes the kids could care less about any of the questions I give them. Sometimes they just kind of mumble out a one or two word answer while looking everywhere else but into my eyes.

Sometimes it’s nervousness, which is fine, but all to often it’s arrogance.

Then I get those kids who are absolutely beaming. They call me sir, they go into extreme detail, and they far too often cite the rest of their team and coaches as the reason for their success.

One time I interviewed a kid who laid down a perfect bunt to drive in the winning run. I could tell he wasn’t Johnny big-shot, and that he wasn’t going to make the starting lineup of any major league team anytime soon.

But as I interviewed him it became a pleasure because he gave me so many words to work with and he gave me a lot of respect as well.

I remember these kids the most.

And, almost poetically, the two people I could see standing behind him, beaming just as much as he was, was his mom and his dad.

I make sure to give these kids a few extra sentences in my write-up every single time.

Behind every great, respectful, pleasant kid is a pair of parents who worked hard to make them that way.

In a world where nice guys finish last, I try to make my stories revolve around them as much as I possibly can.

If only they knew how much they’d miss these times with their parents. Unfortunately it’s something they won’t understand until they leave.

Distance breeds nostalgia.

Proximity breeds resentment.

Why is it like that?

Why can’t proximity breed something else? I just want you two to know that proximity doesn’t breed that for me anymore. Now I’m just happy.

It’s a rough world out there, and it takes a special mixture of protection, love, exposure, and vigilance to make sure children don’t see it as a dark place. To get them to see the world with hope is ultimately one of the many end goals.

And honestly that’s the best gift you’ve ever given me.

I know this world sucks. I know there’s more horror going on than I could possibly imagine, but I have hope.

I could list all the traits you’ve passed on to me (the list would start with dashing good-looks), but (just joking) that would be too long and boring.

Instead I’ll leave you with a story I’ll never forget.

I remember playing a baseball game when I was younger and both of you were in attendance. A crazy-good left-handed pitcher came up and he was throwing the high heat.  Seriously, unlike the other subject of my story above, this guy could’ve made the starting rotation of the Yankees right then as far as I was concerned.

I was scared, honestly.

Something in you two must’ve seen that, and I remember Mom coming over to give me  some words of wisdom.

She told me that that was my plate out there, meaning I wasn’t going to back down from this guy. He wasn’t in control of this meeting–I WAS.

She fired me up, and I went out there a lot less scared than I was.

I ended up striking out, but there was a moment when the perfect pitch came down the outside of the plate, and I smacked it deep down the left field line.

I was so ahead of it that it went foul, but as far as I can tell that ball hasn’t hit the ground yet. If it was fair it would’ve been a home run.

I came out of our showdown a little upset, but Dad never focused on me striking out, he focused on that foul ball. He focused on how I almost had him.

Mom taught me one amazing mindset that day. In anything that you do, own it. YOU’RE in control. Don’t back down from anybody. Show up to life with gritted teeth, a scowl, and a big bat on your shoulder not afraid to swing it.

Dad taught me that there’s always a positive in every failure. You could’ve very easily focused on the fact that I struck out, but you never did that.

This is why I see the world with hope.

Thank you for that.

 

How To Deal With A Really Crappy Boss

Quit.

Yep, you heard me.

People always view quitting as such a bad thing, but I beg to differ.

Think about it, why would someone above you pressure you not to quit? Because they don’t want to get screwed, that’s why. It has nothing to do with the “character issues” they tell you about. It’s because they’re looking out for themselves.

I’ve quit many things in my life and most of the time those decisions were great ones! I never looked back. I quit Panera Bread to be a freelancer–now I wake up when I want and work in my pajamas all day.

I quit my wrestling team and after that I had so much more time to spend on homework, with good people, and on myself.

I’ll also be the first one to admit that not quitting has been a good decision at some points.

And I get it, we need to have a little backbone sometimes. We shouldn’t quit at the first sign of disparity. But I also trust that each one of you will know when enough is really enough.

And the crazy thing is, many of us don’t even have an issue with authority–we just have an issue with getting sprayed with saliva when our boss is screaming at us inches away from our face. Get it?

So, I urge you, if you have a shitty boss, to just quit. You’re the master of your own destiny. You don’t deserve that. You can be so much more than somebody elses slave.

And I’m not even talking about bosses who occasionally get on you for doing something wrong. Just as long as they’re not consistently being negative day in and day out, then it’s fine.

Good superiors always look at both the good and the bad. They know that the proper way to motivate somebody is to acknowledge both positives and negatives. That’s good leadership.

And that’s a boss I’d rather work for.

 

 

How To Avoid Burnout As A Freelancer (Or In General)

If you’re like me, your mind never stops working.

My brain bounces from thought to thought like a game of pinball. First it’s about work, then it’s about my dire hunger, then it’s about that time I messed up a handshake with that one guy.

Couple my scattered mind with the fact that I spend copious hours staring at a computer screen all day, and you have a pretty severe case of burnout-opia just waiting to pounce.

There’s just always something waiting in the queue of my mind for my subconscious to mull over next. It’s like a conveyor belt for thoughts.

Luckily I’ve learned a few tricks for stopping burnout in its tracks, and trust me–they’re revo-freaking-lutionary.

Step 1 – Excercise, darn it

Yeah, this is a simple one, but oh boy can it change a bad day to a good one quick. Imagine fifteen minutes of your day where you aren’t staring at a screen. Imagine giving your eyes a break to gaze at trees, nice houses, and smiling neighbors on a quick run? You don’t even need to kill yourself on the run either, just make it enjoyable.

Step 2 – Leave work at work

As a freelancer it’s tough to not check my emails 24/7. This is my biggest flaw, and it’s also the biggest culprit of burnout. Stick to a schedule, and don’t worry about work–even if you feel like the world is going to burn down while you’re off.

Step 3 – Don’t bite off more than you can chew

Taking on too much work will stress you out. You don’t need to be working 12 hour days. You don’t need to take on so many things. If you need to, just tell a few of your clients that you can’t work with them anymore. They’ll understand, and they’ll appreciate the transparency.

Step 4 – Get around people

Hanging out with friends–even for 30 minutes–is like hitting the reset button on your thoughts. The goal is to get your brain to forget about work, and being around people will accomplish this easily.

Step 5 – Don’t feel guilty for relaxing

I feel guilty when I watch movies sometimes. I feel I could be doing so many other, more productive things. Get in the habit of saying “screw it” when these thoughts come up. Not everyone might have a problem with this, but for those that do, keep this in mind.

I hope these tips can help you whether you’re a freelancer or just someone who feels a little stressed. Thanks for reading guys! If you liked the post, comment below so I can meet you!

 

Why Rediscovering Old Friends Is The Greatest Feeling In The World

 

In the past few months I’ve made a conscious decision to reconnect with many friends from high school. And it’s been worth it.

After living outside my home state for two years now, I guess it gave me new perspective on the whole thing. Recently I’ve reconnected with past girlfriends, past teammates, and past best friends who all got swept away from me because of my decisions.

Many of these people are ones I didn’t exactly end on a solid note with. There’s a lot of good and bad thrown into the melting pot that was our relationship for sure. There were fights, but there were also great times that can’t seem to get out of my head. It’s funny how we only remember the good times.

But let’s get to the heart of the issue here. Why should you reconnect? Why reach out again? I can tell you that doing this has been so rewarding for me in so so many ways.

For one, you’ll see just how easy it is to pick back up where you left off. The same jokes still hit, and the same topics come back up in conversation. It’s almost like you went back in a time machine. It feels like a dream.

Second, you get to see how you both have changed–and you did change. You get to take your new eyes and look at your old friends with wonder. There’s something different about them, yet something still the same.

Third, you get to come full-circle. You get to arrive back where you started in a few ways. But it’s also like re-learning a language you haven’t practiced for a few years. It’s familiar, but it’s been so long that you have to go back to the beginning.

Fourth, you get to be a positive person in their life again. This is probably my favorite aspect of it all. It’s easy for me to look back and think about how much of an idiot I was to some people. It’s definitely a pain point for me. There’s some things I wish I could re-do, but after reconnecting it’s almost like you get a chance to re-do it. You get a chance to say sorry, act how you wish you would’ve acted, and almost re-live moments in time. It’s been really fun for me to be able to do that.

And I know it might be fun for some other people as well. Last year I mentioned to a friend of mine that I wanted to see somebody I used to be very close with. I also mentioned that I never thought they’d want to see me, though. A few days later I got a text from them saying they would like to see me, and I almost fell over in my chair. Which brings me to my next point:

Fifth, and lastly, it’s amazing how forgiving people can be. It’s remarkable how much people can believe in the goodness in you instead of the bad–despite us showing a lot of bad to them in the past.

If you have a desire to see anybody again, tell them. You’ll be surprised at how forgiving they can be, how surreal it will feel, and how you’ll both be able to move on and make new memories together.

 

 

Getting Over Loneliness While Travelling

I was scared. It was my first trip being alone outside Maryland, and I didn’t know what to expect. My destination? Pittsburgh–Baltimore’s sworn enemy–for a film camp. I was going to learn how to become a better filmmaker or something.

I flew in to Pittsburgh, stumbled into a taxi (which lost its way like thirteen times), and had to barter with the driver to lower the rate because he spent 20 minutes basically asking everybody in town about where my destination was.

Then I walked into a room of about 90 people–all creatives–who looked intimidating. I was weird. I didn’t look like a creative person–I looked like the quarterback of the football team. These kids honestly didn’t look like they ever played a sport in their life. But they knew how to be creative. They knew graphic design, culinary, film, etc. I felt so out of place.

Pretty soon they placed us in groups to do some sort of ice-breaker thing, and all my insecurity went away. I was forced to talk, forced to get outside my comfort zone. I was forced to be myself. Pretty soon I made friends, did things with those friends, and I still see them to this day on my Newsfeed every now and then.

I learned something on that trip. If you want to beat loneliness while travelling, there’s a few things you MUST do.

  1. Thrust yourself into the fray – Attend an event and get around people. Go to Meetup.com and find out about a few things you can do! This is so much easier than walking into a bar and trying to strike up a conversation with someone cold. At events people are there to socialize. They want to be talked to!
  2. Be yourself – Just trust it. Trust that your joke is going to make everyone laugh. Trust that you’ll find something about somebody else that’s captivating. Trust that it’s going to be an incredible experience–and it will be! You have friends back home that love you, and there’s bound to be people there that’ll love you too.
  3. Take chances – Take some chances, dammit. Get some balls and go talk to some people. Sometimes it’s literally as simple as that.
  4. Play to your strengths – I love sports. One time I made a few friends after asking to join a volleyball game on the beach. Since playing sports is more comfortable to me, it helped me to calm down and ask to play.
  5. Be open – The flip side to playing to your strengths is to just be open. Walk into every situation with positivity. Don’t necessarily keep thinking about making friends, just focus on being yourself, having fun, and make natural comments when they come to you.
  6. Get distracted – Call your friends, skype somebody, or watch a movie. Get your mind off the fact that you’re out on your own and that might help give you a boost in confidence.
  7. Realize that loneliness isn’t a bad thing – Loneliness doesn’t mean something’s wrong with you! Sometimes being lonely is good. We get to sit with our thoughts and listen to ourselves for a moment. It helps us to reset. Now you have all that time to write, explore, or take pictures of wherever you’re at.

Those are a few ways I get over loneliness myself. How do you get over it while travelling? Feel free to comment below!

 

Post-Grad Survival Guide: Don’t Limit Yourself

When I graduated school I had one goal in mind: To make $15/hour.

That’s $600/week, and $31,200/year. Before taxes. Just to be clear with ya’ll, my degree must’ve cost me twice that amount of money.

I make that amount now through freelancing, and it just dawned on me that I’m making that because I put a limit on myself. Why didn’t I think bigger? It’s probably because I didn’t think I was worth $20/hour or something. My bar was $15/hour, and I’ve reached it.

One of the things I’ve learned is that whatever you think your worth is what you’ll make. Whatever position you think your worth, you’ll get. It’s that simple.

So don’t be sheepish.

Dream big, work hard, and you’ll end up getting exactly what you want.

Don’t limit yourself.