Ventura

Just point and shoot.

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It’s all about pain. Pain is the greatest motivator I know. We’ll¬†repeat the same behaviors over and over, even ones that do not serve us, until we’re in exquisite pain. You won’t quit smoking or drinking, lose weight, change your diet, or quit your job and move across the country, until the pain is too much. Pain is a good thing. The pain of living in Atlanta forced me to make a change and that’s how I ended up in Ventura.

When I set the plan in motion to move to California, the options laid out before me were Laguna Beach or Ventura. My good friend Kelly in Ventura told me I could stay with her while I looked for a job. Option # 1. Option # 2 was a beach house in Laguna Beach. Yes, an amazing option, however the gentleman who owned the house and I played an unbelievably comical game of phone tag. So I chose Ventura and I’m glad I did.

Right off the 101 and the PCH, Ventura is about 55 miles north of Los Angeles. It’s a laid back, easy going town with a population of about 109,000. You can get from the east side to the west side in about 20 minutes, practically any time of day. There’s an active surfing community. I hate to use the word quaint, but that’s how I’d describe downtown Ventura. It’s a nicely manicured, clean and has a decidedly small town¬†vibe.

Driving around Ventura gives spellbinding and breathtaking views. The beauty proves dangerous while driving. I’m tempted to look at the amazing views when I’m driving, but I don’t want to die! At one turn you’re treated to sprawling mountains, and at another, the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean. Leaving¬†town, all sorts of farms line the roads of Ventura. The rows¬†of citrus and strawberries line the hills for miles.

Amazing. Ventura.

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Kelly once said about Ventura, “If I ever say I’m tired of this scenery please punch me in the face.” You laugh but that happens. Some lifelong Venturans take this beautiful city for granted. The palm trees, the mountains, and the ocean dim from their awareness. Like Kelly, I don’t ever want to grow tired of this beauty.

Until the next chapter begins Ventura is my home, I’m loving it, and I’m not in pain.

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!

11 Things I Learned In 2015

2015 was a great year for me! Don’t worry, this post is not one long humblebrag. After about 3 years of being stagnant, I kept on going and finally had breakthrough year.

Here are 11 lessons I wanted to share:

1. If you can do it, do it now

My uncle has lived in France for 10 years. 5 years ago I¬†told him I was¬†going to visit. I’d never been to Europe and going was¬†on my bucket list. However, another year would pass, growing¬†my procrastination and excuse making skills, but not growing my life experience.

“Hey I’m going to visit this year. Just getting it all together. I’ll keep you posted.”

Then, another year would go by.

During a conversation with my dad, he encouraged me to skip the beach vacation I was considering, and to go see my uncle. I listened.

My trip to Paris in August of last year was life-changing. All these years I could have gone but I always had an excuse: it wasn’t the right time, it’s too expensive, I’m too busy, it’s too late now, ¬†I missed the window of opportunity. All of these statements were fear based and ultimately preventing me from having amazing experiences.

If¬†you have the means to do something you’ve always wanted to do, do it and do it now! If you have the vacation time, take it! Buy the ticket and pull the trigger. It doesn’t have to be a vacation, it can be anything you’ve always wanted to do: take piano lessons, study acting, or driving¬†cross-country. Do it now while you have the chance!

2. Travel by yourself

Don’t let the excuse of traveling alone dissuade you from taking a trip. I’ve taken many excursions by myself and there are many benefits. You can do whatever you want and change¬†in the moment. You can move at your own pace. Traveling alone also makes you accountable for your trip. With no one else to lean on you’re responsible for the plan and making your trip a success. I covered so much ground in Paris by myself.

3. Experiences count more than things

Paris is one of the most amazing cities in the world. The things you can buy will not replace the unforgettable meals at places like La Relais de Venise or Chez Gladines. The perfumes and miniature Eiffel Towers could never replace the thrill of walking through the world’s finest museums. This applies to life in general. The live shows we see, the historical landmarks we visit, and the friends we make always hold more value than cars, clothes, computers, or¬†tchotchkes. Speaking of friends…

4. Making new friends is thrilling

In 2015 I became friends with 2 women who greatly enriched my life. One woman I dated briefly, but we both agreed we were better as friends. Another woman I met through some mutual friends. She invited me to see Brandi Carlile and we’ve been having fun ever since. I love the excitement and newness of an emerging friendship. When there’s an instant, kindred connection of shared¬†interests with someone new, it brings a spark into your life.

5. Biking is the best way to commute

In September I began biking to work. Our office ran out of parking spaces and offered some compensation to those who’d either walk or bike to work. Fortunately, I live close to the¬†office and have a short commute, so it was an easy decision. I love biking into the office, most of the time. On cold or rainy days, I often question (and curse) what I’m doing, but I use the opportunity to practice mind control and stay in the present moment. I also saved a lot of money on gas. Through September until¬†the end of the year, I only filled up my car 3 times.

6. Review your life

Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” In 2015 I began using the Passion Planner. This outstanding planner got me into the habit of reviewing each day, week, and month, making sure I stayed on point. Last week I did a year-end review. I can clearly see where I succeeded and where I needed to improve. Consistently reviewing your life is like referring to a map. It helps you stay on track.

7. Take personality tests

Our company uses the Birkman Method¬†extensively. The information this test yields is revelatory and indispensable in relating to my co-workers. It gives helpful insights into why they act the way they do, and how I can best approach them. Birkman also shares insights into my strengths and¬†helps me understand my tendencies.¬†I’m a big fan of any personality test that gives¬†valuable info about¬†myself and others, and helps us all better interact with and serve each other.

8. Yoga is amazing

You can read my post about yoga here.

9. One measure at a time

At the beginning of the year my piano teacher gave me the challenge of learning a Bach two-part invention. It is the hardest piece of music I’ve ever played or learned as an adult thus far. Going measure by measure is the only way I could accomplish¬†this goal. Every day during practice¬†I worked and persevered¬†until finally, I was able to put the entire piece under my fingers. It’s been so rewarding. I still have a lot of work on this piece but the knowledge, skill, and ear-training I’ve achieved¬†going measure by measure were musical and personal highlights of this year.

10. Establish a solid morning routine

I’m a goober so morning routines fascinate me. Setting up my day correctly and methodically is important. There are creative, physical, and spiritual tasks that, if I complete before getting out the door, allow me to move through life with greater ease, and grace. Without a good morning routine, I can become “Hulkish.”

11. Keep going

Winston Churchill said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” While I wasn’t necessarily in a bad place, ¬†I’d been stuck for a while. I’d fallen into a rut of doing the same things, going to the same places, and thinking the same thoughts. In April I moved near Cabbagetown. That move helped me change up my routine significantly.¬†In January of last year I¬†was promoted to a Senior position on my team.

Even though it didn’t feel like anything was happening all those years,¬†I kept on working¬†and¬†improving. Eventually something happened. My situation, outlook, and routines changed for the better. I just had to keep moving¬†to get there.

What did you learn in 2015? Share the wisdom please!