I’ve been neglecting my readers because it’s hard to be looking for a job, writing a book, taking photos, developing brands, and figuring out how to find joy in my life’s work.
Life is crazy. For centuries people had no clue that they weren’t living to their fullest potential. How could they know? It takes knowing what you’re missing to miss it. How do you know you need to protect your mental health when mental health isn’t a concept? Happiness was reserved for the rich.
Well, guess what? I reject that school of thought. I believe in doing what you must but what’s the point of living for a life you hate? I’m not saying you shouldn’t live if you hate your life. Instead, you should create a life that you will love. How do you do that? Well, since our country doesn’t offer free healthcare (specifically healthcare that includes mental healthcare), you have to put up with nonsense. But, while putting up with it, don’t lose focus. Know that you’re putting up with it to get to a place of less stress and more smiles. A place where relationships are more valuable than materials. You’re putting up with the rubbish so you can eventually put it down for peace.
Make more smiles a priority.
Over the past 26ish years, the way I move on Saturday mornings has shifted tremendously. Some of my earliest memories are of watching the MC Hammer or New Kids On The Block cartoons while eating cereal. At the time, I was probably hanging out in my favorite Knicks shirt and some UNC shorts. It was pretty cool after a hard week of doing whatever it is that three-year-olds do.
Looking back now, those were some great times. How I operate on Saturdays now, relaxed as it may be, is still about growth as much as my Mondays through Fridays are. Most Saturdays, I wake up to pull out my yoga mat and stretch (tip to my near/post-30 year olds: STRETCH!), after which I go into the kitchen and pour a cup of coffee, spread some cream cheese on a bagel (unless I feel like cooking), and head over to the NY Times website to see what’s going on in the world. Then it’s time to shower, shave, get to running a few errands, after which I can get to my crossword puzzles. I used to exercise on Saturdays but that’s been moved to my Sunday morning regimen.
Saturdays have changed and, as a kid, I would think of my current life as boring but this is fun. I’m learning, I’m growing, and I’m keeping myself sharp.
Construct a Saturday morning routine. Make it cathartic and enjoyable. And let it work for you.
Make professional development a priority.
For the next few days, I’m in New York for what I have determined will be the concert of a lifetime. My favorite hip-hop group, The Diplomats, is performing in the city that I’ve adopted as my second home. I’ve been rocking with them for over half of my life. I’ve purchased (not stolen but PURCHASED) every album they’ve dropped. I have their apparel. I’m a fan’s fan. But, sadly, every time they’ve been in NC during my adult life, I’ve been out of the country or state. Most recently, I was in Thailand while they did not one but TWO shows in NC. 🤦🏿♂️😫
Know what? Tomorrow is not promised and so, in this moment, I decided I would be in NYC this weekend to see them close out the Dipset Forever tour in their hometown. As much as they break up and get back together, who knows which tour will be their last? So here I am, living my best life. I ain’t goin’ back and forth with you… well, y’all know the rest.
Oh, and, while we’re on the subject of being a fan, I couldn’t come to the city without getting a cut at the best barbershop on this side of the ozone layer: The Standard Grooming Company
. If you’re in Brooklyn, make sure you rock with them. While all three of the groomers in the spot are exceptional, I sit in the chair of the man who has been cutting my hair for over a decade now, co-owner Vince Jamael
. Definitely a fan not only of the work of Vince, Autumn,
, but also love the decor in their spot. Make sure you follow D Squared Visuals
on Instagram to see some of the dope shots I’ll be capturing here (I’m writing at the shop as I await my cut) and from around the City.
Ok. Now I have to figure out exactly what I’m doing with my hair. I haven’t gotten a cut since May! Here’s to a great weekend!
Make living without regrets a priority.
Ever have that friend who shows up right on time to hang out but you really weren’t expecting them to be there when they were supposed to be?
This year, that friend is August. I’m sitting here looking at my calendar and August is HERE. Here here. As in here right this moment. I’m looking at all I’ve accomplished and, while I am pretty proud with some of my forward steps, I’m behind the 8-ball on a couple things.
So, now that we’ve realized our awesome buddy Auggie is here to crash on my couch for the next 31 days (only to be followed by his sweet sister September), I’ve got some tips for both myself and you all that will help us fast-track our way to reaching our 2018 goals before the ball drops.
- Maximize your time. We all need rest (not just sleep but truly restful periods) to be healthy, happy, and productive people. That being said, some of us have been resting a lot during these first seven months. Shoot, I just took a whole two months away from the United States (but I was working on some major projects while I was gone, so don’t get it twisted). Use your lunch breaks to knock out some smaller tasks or to get a larger task done over the course of a few lunches. If you need to, pick a day out of the weekend to truly wind down but, if you’ve got goals and you’re far behind, you have to make up for time wasted by grinding on that other day.
- Pick an accountability partner. Yesterday, I had lunch with two of my closest friends. We had a running challenge while I was out of the country. I lost badly. They picked on me. The challenge required that the losers buy the winner lunch and the winner certainly didn’t let us off the hook. If you have a goal but you’re having a hard time reaching it, get someone who is going to be honest with you and set some consequences for yourself if you don’t reach it.
- Cut out the unnecessaries. Do you need that burger? How about that beer? You say you want to save money but you’re going out again this Friday? Netflix is cheap (or free for some of us whose families are generous). You set a financial goal at the beginning of the year. What will you need to sacrifice to get there before the end? If you need some help, click this link and check out what George Acheampong can do to help you get on the right track.
- Nike said it best: Just Do It! Apply for that job. Start reading some books. Fill out those incorporation papers. Enter an art competition. You have time and you said that, at the end of 2018, you won’t be in the same place you were at the beginning, but, many times, what stops us from reaching our goals is that we over plan. It would be nice if the stars all aligned and everything was perfect but, to be realistic, that will not be the case very often. Sometimes, you just have to look at the plan you have, say “Shoot, this’ll get me 75% of the way,” and figure the other 25% while you’re on the journey.
We have five more months. That’s almost half a year. You can do this. Put in 2.2x the work and you’ll hit the mark. I know we can do this.
Make achieving your goals a priority.
When is the last time you had a thought-provoking conversation? These days, I find life happening so rapidly that I don’t know when my next good convo is coming nor who it will be with. I can usually count on between four and five a month (outside of home or work), between chatting with Sean, Maul, Vince, C.B.3, Juju, and Barry. While that’s more than many people I know have, I miss undergrad and the think tank known as UNCG. I vividly recall going to the basements of Reynolds and Phillips-Hawkins to talk with other students from the wee hours of the morning until the sun came up. Or there were the countless times that the long hand on the clock hit the same spot two or three times as I sat in the cafeteria chatting with Devon or Jakiya.
Ideas flowed freely in college. We had time to think without the burdens that we would come to find accompany adulthood. We didn’t have to worry about bills. The only consequence to quitting jobs at that point for many was having to mooch for more hooch, a favor that would eventually be repaid when our generous friend quit his/her job and we were reemployed.
We have to create that free thought as (true) adults. Some people say childhood is the best time of lifetimes but I challenge that; College, for those of us who are privileged enough to go, is the best era. It is when we can be idealistic while having some semblance of control over our lives. No one can tell us when to go to bed, when to come home, or who to hang out with. We go into classrooms with people of all backgrounds and debate issues that actually matter but have been written off by the world because too much of the world doesn’t believe in happiness and change anymore. Life in college is inspiring.
My challenge to you is to make time to grab coffee or a drink with a friend who brings the best out of you sometime before the end of July. If you can’t get together because of distance, hop on the phone. Either way, without forcing it, make an effort to have an organic conversation with someone that you know feels comfortable challenging you and vice versa. Share what books you’re reading. Talk about politics, socioeconomics, and current events (without dwelling too long on the depressing state of affairs unless you’re figuring out a way to positively impact them). Discuss a business idea and have your friend shoot holes through it.
One of the many true things I learned from my fraternity is that, “college days swiftly pass, imbued with memories fond.” How can we keep those memories coming for years after?
Make free thought that stems from conversations a priority.
“Due to the decades-long War on Terror, US drones have killed civilians at weddings and taught young children to fear the sky.” — Namira Islam
As a child, I looked to the heavens in awe, eyes filled with intrigue
I dreamt the cumulus cloud to be the magnificent home I would one day build
I appreciated the beautiful background it provided for all of life
Whether a dark blue before the rain came
A light blue on a magnificently perfect day in May
Or a night full of fireworks before I found that the 4th was not meant for my kind,
I loved the sky
It housed the sun and the moon
It was a limitless highway for airplanes and birds alike
The sky was amazing
Fast-forward two point five decades
As I read an article articulating that there are children who fear the sky
Children who are brown like I, or a few shades lighter
Brown like my children could be
To them, the sky brings terror
Those we categorize as terrorists before they can form an intelligent sentence
Those are the ones we terrorize and traumatize
With our drones, missiles, and air strikes
“Well, their parents shouldn’t have been first cousins of someone
Someone who was on a watch list for…
Well, no they didn’t but they may have thought it”
Well, to that 1984-esq thought, I say,
“Your grandparents shouldn’t have been the descendents
Descendants of slave owners who brutally raped human beings
Working them to death and dividing families
Because their broken religion claimed Christ
But in actuality was devoid of Him as Xmas in a Hebrew home.”
Has anyone ever held that against you?
If so, did it cause more than a temporary temper tantrum?
One stemming from the guilt that it may be true?
You see, I believe that, just as God is not in the hate America spews,
Allah is not in the evil that violent Middle Eastern sects promote
God is love
Allah is love
But the hate?
Much like His blood-stained words,
I challenge you to
Render therefore unto Satan the things which are Satan’s
And unto God the things that are God’s.
It is an empowering thing to see us breaking down society’s rules of what it means to be successful and, instead, define it as our happiness. Certainly, many of us stunt a bit on S.M. but we are making progress and that’s what matters. I love scrolling down my timeline and seeing my friends defining success and joy for themselves.
Whether they just got out the bing or started their own business or got a promotion or switched careers or decided to pursue dreams of spitting bars or finished reading a book or learned a new word or quit their job to travel the world, I’m happy for you. You may have just saved your first $100 or $100,000. I am happy for you. You may have just gotten engaged or announced you’re having a kid out of wedlock. I am happy for you. I am happy because I know that every step you take, even if it is a challenging one, is another step toward your destiny. You are going to be great and you’re getting greater each day you do something that causes love in and for yourself to grow.
Life is short. If you aren’t loving it, you’re wasting it.