Posts Tagged ‘following passions’

Well, I haven’t spoken with Chuck Spears in a minute. I know he recently found a new job, has been working at his comic book art and rekindling his love for spittin’ rhymes. I have not been around here for I have been working hard at building a platform and home base for my book.

Maybe this means that it’s time for this blog needs to go on hiatus – for a while. It’s not a sad thing, because in the process of the both of us contributing here, we have been able to discover or reconnect with our passions. Chuck has always been an artist kind of guy, so I’m happy he’s gotten back in that groove. Me? Well, I’ve already told you about my current venture.

This blog has been important to the both of us throughout the past twelve months. Its been a place to vent and voice our opinions and frustrations on the bullshit that life throws our way. It also gave us an avenue to exercise our minds creatively. I know Chuck has been messing with the blogging world longer than I have, but managing this blog has given me good practice for running the blogsite for my book. Writing on here was also good for knocking the rust off;  I had not touched my book’s manuscript for over a year before Chuck and I founded this blog. When the spark came back to me to pick up working the book again, I was already in some sort of writing shape… kind of.

The biggest thing for me though is that I finally know that I have an answer, a solution to “stop being played”.  This blog was born from me and Chuck’s frustrations with our lives being stuck in a standstill, wondering if things would ever get better due to the career paths we pursued.

Let’s just say over the course of the year, I’ve undergone an attitude adjustment.

“If it is to be, it starts with me.”

While I was attending Morgan State, the chair of the Communication Studies department had us recite that line in one of my classes. I used to think that was corny motivational ploy he was using, but ultimately he’s right. If you feel life is playing you, do something about it. Take some time to analyze yourself and your current life standing. Be honest about your strengths, your weaknesses, and your habits, both good and bad. Understand what truly motivates you, what you are passionate about. Begin to build on that, brick by brick, step by step, regardless if you are single, married or have kids. There are many books and classes that can teach you how to turn your passions into business ventures. But most importantly, before you learn how, you need to first look at yourself. Robert Kiyosaki teaches you how to change your view of money. Dave Ramsey teaches you how to look yourself in the mirror and hold yourself accountable for your actions and your budget. Tim Ferriss implores you to conquer your fears one step at a time as well as how to view time and productivity differently. Susan Orman illustrates how your first childhood interaction with money helps to shape how you view money as an adult. Ramit Sethi, among other things,  specializes in how to position yourself in the best light for various negotiation situations. All of the above named understand that your mind’s thought processes must be changes first before you get to the how.

So then… Off I go to continue on my “how”. I refuse to be played anymore – I will learn to turn the tables in my favor.


UPDATE: Chuck hit me via text and agrees that a hiatus likely is in order, but has asked me to periodically post on my progress with the book. I will do that, but in the meantime, if you want to check in on our progress, by all means: – The video blog for my upcoming book

UngowaSoulPower – Chuck Spears’ blog for his comic book work and rhymin’

Thank you for following our blog for over the past year. We appreciate all the comments, Facebook Likes and page hits!

(even if half of those hits came from me and Chuck, lol)


Not many times have I’ve had the opportunity to travel westward – I’ve spent many a childhood summer riding with my brother and stepbrother in the back of my Dad’s ’85 Maxima up and down I-95 to DC, Virginia and South Carolina (Myrtle Beach).  The first time I ventured west was in 2003 when I attended a chatroom offline event in Dallas.  It was a short weekend trip – made slightly shorter by the fact I almost got stranded at the airport in Dallas because somebody: A. forgot to pick me up, and B. did not give me their cell phone number to call once I touched down.  Long story short: I had to get a hotel room nearby, called one of my friends who luckily happened to know one of the attendees at the offline, and the certain somebody finally scooped me at 12:30 that night… nine hours after I landed.*  That “somebody” has long since been forgiven, I ended up having a good time that weekend and she and I have been good friends since.

So fast forward nine years later to the present: I’m planning a trip to Chicago around the end of this month/early April to visit my friend Tweet and see a bit of what this whole “Windy City” business is about.**  I’ve been scouting flights and hotels for over a month to get an idea of how much I want to spend for airfare and lodging.  It’s actually pretty exciting to go someplace new, and with my personal budget already in place I feel like I’ve been able to plan carefully while not having to sacrifice things like paying my bills or my share of the house expenses.  In fact, if I do this right, I can enjoy my little five day-four night trip without scratching the money from my federal tax return.  I got plans for that dough; more on that in a future post.

So here it is about four to five weeks away from my trip, and like I said I’m deep into the airfare tracking and nailing down a hotel with good rates (which I believe I might have done last night).  I’m also researching the Chicago subway system; I won’t be renting a car and the thought of traversing a new subway/rail system is super-cool – FYI you’re talking to someone who used to ride the subways of NYC for fun as a kid.  So in all this plotting, planning, checking, and [discount] double-checking, something hit me yesterday:

…I haven’t told my family yet about my trip!

This is not an oopsie, however.  In Tim Ferriss’ book The Four-Hour Workweek, he says basically that instead of always looking for permission or validation to do something, just do it and apologize later.  He wasn’t referring to anything that would be considered law-breaking (lol – I think), but towards following your passions and doing the things you want that others might potentially frown upon.  For many years, my biggest naysayer was my dad, which is really tough to deal with because I believe there’s something inside all of us that likes or would like that big thumbs-up from our fathers Kronk-style.  One year however, my sister’s father told me that there’s certain people who you can tell what you plan on doing before you do it, and there’s certain people you tell after you’ve done it.  It was then that I began learning that dad is one of the people I tell after I’ve made my decisions and taken action.  Since that time I’ve had to add Mom to the list – folk tend to worry more as they get older, and her mindset has gotten too rooted in the old blue-collar “industrial-era” mentality upon her retirement.  I can’t fault her for it, but it’s not going to groove with what I need to do.

I also need to talk to my co-workers about covering the days I’ll be gone.  I’m still tracking prices, so the days I plan on leaving aren’t set yet.  Once I nail down a flight, I’ll begin hitting them up.  I’m not too worried; I figure if I give folks two-week notice, they’ll have enough time to decide on taking the shifts.  Only thing that worries me slightly is that one of my coworkers is a bit of a ditz when it comes to keeping track of her own schedule, and on multiple occasions she screwed up the days she was supposed to work when switches were made.  Eh… I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Well then… what I will do is after I’ve made my flight and telly purchases and confirmed everything, I’ll let Mom and the fam know.  Dad lives in Florida now, so no need to brief him – though it is ironic he claims he might be in NY around the time I’m planning my trip.  Hopefully I’ll get to see him before or after my trip.  If not, then it’s plan, take action, and apologize later.

*I was baffled that when my friend finally picked me up, she had porn playing on the monitors inside the SUV.  And no, she and I did not have sex [sigh].

**I really hope she does not indeed kidnap me and stuff me full of chocolate cake, black-forest chocolate ice cream and key lime cheesecake.  I feel like I would gain back all the weight I lost since September in one weekend.

The title of this entry sounds very brave, brazen and heroic, doesn’t it?

Personally, I hate when people make such new year mantras like “This is my year!” because I’m skeptical that the people saying that will truly commit to making the changes necessary – or maybe the people I heard say it, I knew they were playing themselves.  Have they really sat down and reviewed their past year and resolved not to fall into the same bullshit habits or associate with the same bullshit people?  Or better yet, have they realized it is themselves that are the main producers of said bullshit?

My gym sends me weekly emails to I suppose keep me motivated towards a healthier lifestyle (I suppose).  The last email they sent was an end-of-year self-evaluation questionnaire from  The email explained it as follows:

“…the benefits of the end-of-year review offer us “lessons learned” from those situations that may have not turned out as we might had hoped and those that did. Something is always working in our favor – we just need to discover what it is…”

Soooooo… in the spirit of self-reflection, I ask you to read along as I will attempt to answer this questionnaire fully and honestly.  The questionnaire consists of 20 questions; my answers are in blue

  • What were my resolutions or goals for 2011?  I stopped making New Years’ resolutions after junior high school.  In fact, I think the last time I made a resolution, I was at the Museum of Natural History with my brother and grandmother.  A reporter from ABC-7 came up to ask me my resolution, and I replied, “to be more sarcastic!”
  • What were my greatest accomplishments for 2011 that I am most proud of? That I finally made some changes to my life to put me on a better path of better long-term goals.  I have new-found direction and resolve.  Oh yeah, and starting this blog with Chuck Spears, of course!
  • Now, what was one more? I learned I’m fine with eating two or three chocolate chip cookies instead of five or six.
  • What are the actions I took to achieve these accomplishments? Well, it started with my ex-girl breaking up with me, which wasn’t an action I took on my own, but eventually led to my learning of what makes a person wealthy, and why budgeting is so important. 
  • What strengths did I tap into to be able to take these actions? They say cocaine is a helluva drug – so is motivation.  Thankfully, I only subscribe to the latter.
  • How can I apply these strengths to move forward in 2012? It’s all about dedication and time management, baby.  Gotta continue to improve both.
  • What did I intend to do in 2011 that did not get done? Well given that I had no set goals coming into the years, I can’t say that there wasn’t anything I didn’t get done.  See what happens when you set the bar low?  Anything positive is considered success! LOL
  • What were the biggest challenges or barriers I faced in 2011 that contributed to not accomplishing everything I wanted? This should be a straightforward question, but what if your goals and mindset changed during the year, thus your realize new challenges and barriers for the road ahead?  Let’s table this for 2012 where I’ll have more definitive goals and barriers for such.
  • How did I deal with each of these? Again, let’s table this for 2012 and come back to it
  • Where do I get my strength to overcome barriers? Six months ago I probably would said a couple cans of Pepsi, but I’ve been laying off the soda since September.  Now, I know the answer to be knowledge, self-confidence and God.  That’s the basis of what I’ll need for this coming year.
  • How have I grown from these accomplishments and challenges? I’ve realized that being not-quite-as-fat and happy is a really good alternative to being fat and happy.  I’ve tackled a long time hatred and fear of mine – exercising – and begun to see the positive results of it.  See any of my Pain & Agony vs Fat & Happy posts.
  • What am I most grateful for as I reflect back on the year?  Family and friends, but everyone’s pretty much grateful for that – too cliché.  I did however visit Miami for the first time back in April – let’s go with that. 
  • What have I learned? To accept the fact that despite having a B.S. and an M.S., that I still pretty much know nothing.  And I learned how to explain this to my family so every time I don’t know something, they can stop responding via saying “didn’t you learn that in college?”
  • Who are my greatest supporters or support systems that I can rely on as I move forward? Those who understand me and are in the same or similar boat.  It’s a small circle, but they say networking is all about finding like-minded people.  Thank God for the Internet – for real though.
  • How can I show my gratitude and appreciation to those who have supported me? How about a cold one?  A holiday card? Well probably by at least staying in touch.
  • What would I like to be different in the upcoming year? Lot’s of things – improved credit rating, increased traffic for the blog, finish writing my book, get my best friend on board with this investment and money educational process, take a trip, have an emergency piggy bank (courtesy of Dave Ramsey’s teachings), and help this site take off as its Editor-in-Chief.  Oh, and to see the Knicks make a playoff run this year!
  • What would it feel like to experience this difference? Maaaannnn – it’ll be all types of awesomeness.  New progress; real progress; to once again succeed in doing the things I enjoy.  Maybe I’ll even make a buck or two!
  • What am I willing to do to make this change a reality? Mindset, baby!  Actually, I’ve already started, but see the next question…
  • What barriers do I anticipate and what strategies can I put into place to overcome these barriers? Fear, overcoming existing expectations that are not mine, and maybe family.  It’s hard when those who share your blood don’t share your brains and vision.  As for fear, I’ll put it in the hands of a coke and rum God and continue to educate myself.  Once I succeed, we can erase those expectations – or at least tell my dad, “see, if I wasted my years dying a slow death by being a math teacher I would have never had the time to write or help admin a website or learn about investing”.
  • What is the first step I need to take to get closer to my goals? Lay off the Big Macs and Whoppers – have you seen the calorie count on one of those meals??  No seriously though, continue to take baby steps and learn.  Work to not get too ahead of myself, and not get too discouraged if things temporarily fail.