American Shares Unnecessary Opinion About America

Stars & Stripes
Stars & Stripes

I was pretty sick of America for a long time.

I thought, “What a dull place filled with rubes.” I lived in a bubble, riding my commuter bike all within a 3 mile radius in Atlanta, Georgia. My love for California was no secret and Horace Greeley’s quote, “Go west young man, and grow up with the country,” reverberated in my head on a loop. After talking about leaving for over a decade I finally packed my bags and headed west.

My traveling companion and I drove 3,500 miles from Atlanta to Ventura, California. Along the way we visited New Orleans, Fort Worth, Austin, Las Cruces, the Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree and San Diego. During this trip I saw, with my own eyes, what a wonderful place this country is.

You can watch my video of our trip here.

We have so much natural beauty and breathtaking landscapes. So much good food! We have an amazing interstate system making it easy to travel. We also have freedom.

There’s always been a lot of confusion, anger, misdirection and sleight of hand in this country. However the “idea” of America remains solid.

I’ve always loved how Bono describes America as an idea. Our country represents this idea of freedom of expression, that anyone can come here and have a better life.

No America isn’t perfect. 241 years old and we’ve still got issues. We struggle with dysfunction, pride, racism, inequality and fear, but the idea of America is strong. I believe it. I believe this idea will remain for a long time to come.

Without getting too Lee Greenwoody, I’m proud to say I’m an American. I’m not always proud or supportive of the actions of those in our government that represent us, but I know we live in a wonderful place. I implore you to get out of your bubble and see this country for yourself. I think you’ll find what I found, a country that’s imperfect but rich in natural beauty.  You’ll see a country as an idea, which stands for the freedom of self-expression and offers an opportunity to change your life.

Happy Independence Day!!!

June Gloom

Please enjoy this lengthy update from me. I have to tip my hat to the ever-amazing Alison for encouraging me to write. When you’re done reading her blog, please check out my pal Jes too as she travels to Seattle.


Might I interest you in some excuses as to the recent silence over here?I’ve been justifiably preoccupied. Moving and dealing with movers, unpacking and looking for fun government documents, trips to Target, Vons, Trader Joe’s, and the Manhattan Beach Library, and starting a new job, ended my 3 month stint of homelessness and unemployment. I chose to call it a mini-retirement, but let’s not haggle over semantics.

I left Ventura on Saturday, June 4th and moved to Manhattan Beach. Finally the last trip, driving my packed to the gills car, on US interstates. I’d misunderstood the movers’ ambiguous message, thinking they’d arrive on Sunday, June 5th. Nope, they were only loading the truck (my items were stored in Atlanta) which would ultimately deliver the items to me on June 16th. For 12 days a lovely Serta air mattress served as my bunk, and Trader Joe’s frozen food sustained me. I knew when everything arrived this brief interval of discomfort would quickly fade. And it has. The most important thing is that I now have internet.

I looked at a number of places from Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, and El Segundo to eastwards, towards Lawndale. The proximity and convenience of this spot to my job, Trader Joe’s, the beach, and nearby parks, made it an easy decision. For some strange reason not having a refrigerator is a thing out here. Nearly half of the places I perused had no fridge. Yes, you must provide your own fridge if there isn’t one. This spot also has a fridge and a gas stove in its favor. It’s old though. The walls are so thin you might as well say, “Bless you,” when you hear a neighbor sneeze.

Manhattan Beach, and the entire South Bay, flows with money. Every other car cruising by is a Maserati, Tesla, Ferrari, or a Benz or a Beemer. If you want to live near the beach and get a 2 bedroom, it’s $3500 a month. The weather, the food, the beach, the vibe, and the scenery, it’s all beautiful and it will cost you. Some call this cost the “Sunshine Tax.”

Dude it's June Gloom
Dude it’s June Gloom

One thing that is not beautiful is what the locals call June Gloom. There’s also May Gray. In the morning a thick, gray fog spreads out over the city. The clouds don’t leave until early afternoon, sometimes later. Some like it, they enjoy the cooler temperatures the fog brings. Not me, I demand sunny skies and warm temperatures at all times. That’s why I moved here! I won’t have to endure these awful 60 degree temperatures much longer. June Gloom is almost over.

I am learning a lot about marketing, writing, and the semiconductor industry at the new gig. I’m writing press releases again, something I haven’t done since 1999. I’m observing and noting the office rhythms, learning who does what, how do things get done, and which roles the players have.

IMG_9620
My rad 80’s style skateboard from Soul Performance

Skateboarding is something I do now. I even rode into work one day. However I am nowhere experienced enough to ride the deck along these busy streets. One weird move or fall and I could be under a truck. I do ride it around my place and I’m getting better. I’m learning how to stop more fluidly and turn with more control.

This past Thursday, June 23rd, my buds from the rocking Atlanta band, Big Jesus were in Echo Park. I excitedly drove through rush hour Los Angeles traffic to see my pals. They played a very short 30 minute set but those that saw it, saw a tight, rocking band with lots of confidence. To see their growth over the past few years was special. They’ve worked hard and I’ve said they’re the next band to break out of Atlanta. Don’t forget I used to sign bands. I’d definitely sign these guys.

Thank you bike, you served me well :(

While so many great things have happened, unfortunately my bicycle was stolen on June 20th. I locked it outside our office that morning. It was still there during my walking breaks. Around 4:30 I was outside on the phone when I noticed it was gone. I went into the nearby businesses to ask if anyone saw anything. They didn’t and it was gone. It’s a bummer, but I’ll get another bike and this time, a much stronger lock!

I started the Ketogenic way of eating (woe) back in April while I was in Ventura. When I moved without any of my cookware I was in a bind so I broke ketosis and ate carbs. I’m happy to be eating Ketogenic again! My goal is drop my body fat and gain muscle. After I get a bit more settled I find a decently priced gym where I can work out.

Today, June 26th, was a day of firsts. I had a first date. A first Bumble date. It was my first time in Downey (we met there as a halfway point) and it was my first date with a Filipino woman. While it wasn’t a love connection we both agreed to stay in touch. We’d talked on the phone several times previously and we texted almost every day. So I have a new California lady friend!

Before you go here’s what I’ve been digging.

Movies: Devil Wears Prada – This year marks the 10 year anniversary and I’ve always loved that film. Very inspiring.
Eye in the Sky – Excellent film with an excellent cast which asks hard questions about modern warfare.
Brothers Grimsby – I’m a Sacha Baron Cohen fan and this film might be his best yet.
The Martian – Simply an amazing and awesome film.
Embrace of the Serpent – Loved this film about an Amazonian shaman across several decades.

Shows: Maron – I’m a Marc Maron fan and this season may be my favorite so far.
GoT – I have a love/hate relationship with this show. I’ve wanted to quit watching it so many times but then something amazing happens.
Silicon Valley – One of the best comedies out now.

Music: Moz, Chairlift, my rad 80’s playlist, Steely Dan (I stupidly missed their recent show at the Hollywood Bowl)

Books: Spiritual Economics – I’m reading this a second time. This book is packed with gems on every single page.

That’s all for now. Thanks for hanging out with me. I promise to do better about updating. I have no excuses now, except laziness.

Daily Posts #4 – Prince

Prince played in Atlanta last night and I missed it. It was another stop on his Piano & A Mic tour. I hope he’ll do one on the west coast soon.

Prince has long been one of my all-time favorite musicians. If I had the chance I’d love to ask him some questions.

Do you have a personal chef?
Do you do your own laundry?
Are you really good at basketball?
Why are you constantly taking down your music on YouTube?
Do you ever call up Sheila E. and chit chat?
Is it true you fine members of your band if they make a mistake on stage?
Why purple?
Do you exercise?
What do you think happens when you die?
Do you practice?
When you’re in the studio, are you engineering?
What’s in the vault?
Do you go to the grocery store and shop for yourself?
What do you think of The Beatles?
Aren’t you a fan of Cocteau Twins?
How would you encourage young musicians?
How did you prepare for this piano and a mic tour?
What’s a normal day like for you?
Do you have a private jet? Do you fly commercial?
What do you think about marriage?
What’s your favorite book?
What movie have you watched more than once?
What’s up with Rosie Gaines?
How about that high note Rosie hits on “Diamonds & Pearls”?


Update 4/16/16: One of the questions I wanted to ask but forgot to write down was if Prince rode bicycles. We all know he’s the man on a motorcycle. The answer is yes. Yes Prince does ride bicycles. Check this article: http://consequenceofsound.net/2016/04/one-day-after-being-hospitalized-prince-spotted-riding-his-bike-throwing-all-night-dance-party/

10 Messages Which Gave Me Courage To Change

The boxes are packed. The car is loaded. There’s no turning back. I’m leaving Georgia for California!

Leading up to this decision I did a lot of soul-searching, prayer, and meditation. I had many conversations. I journaled. I listened to what others told me.

Here are 10 messages which helped me make the decision to do it.

1. Time is not a renewable resource, but money is.

These first 3 messages I got from Tim Ferriss’ podcast. In Tim’s 2015 recap he gave out so much great advice. This came from that episode. I was out for a walk and listening when he said this. I stopped walking and replayed the point. I’d been living as if I had unlimited time. Tim’s point was that you can make more money, but you can’t make more time. So do the things you want to do.

2. If you find yourself saying, “but I’m making good money.” That is a warning sign that you’re not in the right place or should leave.

In that same episode Tim mentions this thought from B.J. Novak. I was doing better than I’ve ever done in my career, but this idea of living in California was too big to fight. I had to do it, I felt compelled. It was so hard to leave my amazing job but this thought, coupled with the one above, convicted me immensely.

3. What’s on the other side of fear? Nothing.

Tim’s podcast with Jamie Foxx is one of the best podcasts I’ve ever heard. There is so much inspiration in that one interview. At one point they discuss fear and Jamie says he learned early on that there’s nothing on the other side of fear. It’s all in our minds. All we have to do is move through the fear, then we see that there is nothing there.

4. If you wait for everything to line up the way you want, you’ll be 70 by the time it happens.

My great friend and mentor Spencer sent this message. Spencer has been a huge influence in my life. This message made me realize the clock is ticking and that now is the time to move.

5. What is failure? What’s the worst that can happen?

Many folks asked me these questions when we talked about moving. It’s a question worth asking since it reveals your fears. Once you know what your fears are, then you get to work and do everything you can to avoid those outcomes.

6. Can you live with yourself not knowing or doing this thing?

I asked this question a lot. The answer was clearly no. If the answer was yes I would’ve been content to continue living in Atlanta. The call was so strong that I could not deny it.

7. No risk, no reward

My friend Jason casually said this one evening. Unless I was willing to take the risk and go for it, I’d never know the reward of following through on my heart’s desires.

8. Sometimes you have to make a bet on yourself.

My friend Simon gave me this word. Entrepreneurs, athletes, investors, and artists all know this. We celebrate the folks who believe in themselves, who have the faith to do something big. Sure, moving cross-country is not like Steve Jobs starting Apple, or Felix Baumgartner jumping from space to earth. However, I am saying that, “Yes I can do this and I know I will succeed.”

9. You have no idea what you’re capable of until you put yourself out there.

My friend Laurie sent me this. A few years ago she left her longtime job and went back to school to get her business degree. One day when I was in a lot of fear I asked her what she’d learned from leaving her comfort zone. While it’s extremely uncomfortable, getting outside of our safe routines gives us the opportunity to grow.

10. What would you tell your children? “I was too scared to pack my suitcase and physically move.”

My friend Kelly sent me this question. While I don’t have children I thought about the example I’d be setting. Wouldn’t I want children who believed in themselves? Who took risks? Of course!

That’s it. We’re off to New Orleans today!

HUGE ANNOUNCEMENT! I’M MOVING TO CALIFORNIA!

tl;dr: I’m moving to Los Angeles, California in March. One of the reasons I started this blog was to document the cross-country drive to California, as well as the new chapter of my life.

Ever had a dream, something you’ve wanted to do for years, something that has gnawed at you and never let go? For me that dream has been to live in Los Angeles. Since my first visit in 2000, the city put its hooks in me and never let go.

I’ve gone back and forth on going for years, made up excuses for why it wasn’t the right time. Then, I went to work on removing those excuses.

“I’m not leaving until I sell this house,” I said over and over. I sold my house in East Atlanta in 2014. The next excuse was, “I won’t leave until I get a job there first.” I had interviews at a few places, but being out of state made it nearly impossible to get a job there.

In January, the owner of the condo I’m leasing gave me notice, letting me know I needed to be out by March. She was selling it. I took that as a sign and as the time to go.

With a deadline of March in mind, I asked my amazing employer about possibly working in LA, but we couldn’t make it work. So I’m making a bet on myself, my skills, experience, talents, perseverance and connections. I’m leaving my secure, extraordinary job of 5.5 years.

I don’t have a job lined up. If you want to help me and have connections in Los Angeles, I would love to hear from you. Email me.

It’s scary. I’ve lived in Georgia my whole life. My roots are deep. But I am not the type of man who can live with myself asking, “What if?” and, “Should I have done it?” I could keep waiting, trying to get everything lined up perfectly before leaving. The next I thing I know I’d be 70. So I’m doing it now.

One of the main reasons I started blogging again was so I could document my drive cross-country, as well as this new chapter of my life. I am so excited to share this adventure.

I will hit the road at the beginning of March. I’m going to stop in New Orleans, Dallas, Austin, Las Cruces, the Grand Canyon, and Joshua Tree. I found out yesterday one of my best friends is able to join me on the drive.

I will miss my friends in Atlanta. I’m truly blessed to have so many great friends here. You’re welcome to come visit!

It’s bittersweet to say goodbye, but I’m grateful for this opportunity and thrilled for what’s ahead.

So goodbye ATLiens. So long Dirty South. Farewell Atlanta.

CALIFORNIA HERE I COME!

10 Things I’ve Learned From Yoga

Tony Horton, putting all of his lame jokes aside, is a great teacher. Horton introduced me to yoga when I completed P90X back in 2010. Since then I’ve done yoga off and on, finding a YouTube video, and sometimes revisiting Yoga X. After an amazing vacation in Paris in August, I felt a strong urge to get serious about yoga, and to get to some classes. I got a really good mat and found a studio. I’m so glad I did. Since October I’ve practiced anywhere from three to five times a week at Mystic Lotus in Cabbagetown. I’ve fallen in love with this ancient, beneficial and beautiful practice.

Here are 10 things (among many) I’ve learned so far:

1. Yoga benefits all aspects of life

My friend Drew, who teaches at Mystic Lotus, reminds me that, “yoga is a tool that uses the body to train the mind.” Yoga is challenging and requires a lot of mental focus. Balance postures force my mind to hone in on a specific point and to let go of control. Learning to activate specific muscles makes me aware of how I sit and walk. This focus and awareness is useful in all aspects of life. I’m constantly finding way to apply the skills I develop in my practice.

2.Yoga reduces stress, depression and anxiety

The release of tension, anxiety, and worry, which result from yoga, is like nothing else. During practice I can feel my body and mind releasing negative energy that does not serve me. Yoga allows me to move through life with more ease and relaxation. Studies even show that yoga helps with depression and can increase overall feelings of well-being.

3. Yoga is especially helpful for musicians

All that mind training I mentioned? I’ve found I can apply it specifically when playing music. Tension, anxiety, and incorrect breathing such as holding one’s breath, are enemies to a musician. Playing music in a relaxed and aware state, allow the music to flow. The awareness and activation of specific parts of my body, cultivated through yoga, show me where I’m tense, and where I need to relax. I also get more awareness of where my mind is, while playing. Am I hearing the music or merely going through the motions? Yoga has made me a better player.

4. Yoga first thing in the morning is an outstanding way to start the day

I recently completed a 5 week early bird challenge with the extraordinary teacher, Maggie Benoit, at Mystic Lotus. For 5 straight weeks on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, I woke up at 6 am for the 630 am class. I paid in advance for the series which gave me a lot of accountability to not miss a single class. There are numerous benefits to starting the day with yoga. Your stomach is empty. Your mind is clear. The world is quiet. The day begins with a good intention. The benefit of this challenge was starting my day open, fully awake, and energized.

5. There are so many ways to breathe

Recently I watched Awake and one statement stuck with me. Yogananda remarks, “I don’t see how you Americans are living, you’re all breathing so improperly.” Breathing, and moving with breath, is one of the most important aspects of yoga. From Nadi Shodhana, Lion’s Breath, to Ujayii breathing, all of these exercises release tension and help me relax. That’s just scratching the surface of breathing exercises!

6. Yoga gives an unequaled natural high

Running, biking, and lifting weights, sure they all release endorphins, but nothing equals the natural high from yoga.

7. Good teachers make a big difference

I began my practice at Mystic Lotus because my friend Drew teaches there, and because it’s right in my neighborhood. This isn’t a paid advertisement for the studio! However, I’ve been consistently impressed with each teacher there. Essentially I am a beginner at yoga, so finding a place where I could practice without judgment and fear was crucial. I’ve learned so much from all the teachers there. They earnestly care about my practice and well-being. They make small, but very necessary, adjustments to my poses, and help me find my best expression of the pose. They show me how to press into the earth, grounding myself, and are helping me get more open with each class.

8. Comparison is futile

I love to compete and win but that doesn’t work in yoga. I’m glad I learned early on that comparing myself to the teachers and more advanced yogis doesn’t serve me. It’s ok to want to progress and achieve my fullest expression of a pose, but berating myself because I can’t do Trikonasana without a block, is dumb. My practice is about me and my growth, no one else’s.

9. There are lots of books on yoga

I’ve already got 3 books stacked up and ready to read on yoga. Autobiography of a Yogi, Light on Yoga, and Asana Pranayama Mudra BandhaThat is only a smidgen of what’s out there.

10. It’s about the journey

Right now my practice is focused on getting open. It will take time to get there and I need to practice patience with myself. I’m early in my practice but I’m so excited to continue this journey. I’m eager to learn poses, to gradually increase my flexibility, and to train my mind to be quiet, and relax.

Have you done yoga? What’s been your experience? Have you thought about doing yoga? What’s stopped you from getting started?