Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fast Food No More.

It is amazing what you find when you peel back the layers of excuses that we are willing to come up with to defend the decisions we make. We tend to lie to ourselves so we can feel better for doing something we know is not good for us. Especially, when we are young and we think that nothing can hurt us. I put myself in this category of people that have made excuse for things and as I examine my life with the motto of "No More Excuses, I see that I am slowly jeopardizing my health.

I am not one of those men who is determined to never see the doctor. While, I have not seen my doctor in awhile, he is the one that told me that I am so healthy that I don't need the yearly check up unless I am feeling ill. Yet, I continue to not eat in the best way possible which I know in the back of my head will be an issue as I get older.

I gave up soda years ago and the main thing that I drink now is water.  This is how I was able to lose all that weight that I did about a year and a half ago. Soda was poisoning my body so much that it made me gain tons of weight that I didn't need to have. Plus, if you look what is in it, there is no way my body can operate at peak performance with me ingesting that. But, ask me what I eat. Fast food is a problem for me. The issue is because it is so easy to obtain and quite frankly it can be damn near addicting.

It is no secret that I love Burgers. You give me a great tasting burger and we will be friends for a long time. However, I knew this would be an issue when I starting my running regimen the first time.  I took the suggest from the woman who is now my girlfriend to substitute beef burgers for turkey burgers. The difference is indeed amazing. The flavor is unique and I would much rather have a turkey burger than a hamburger. So what is the issue for me?

Keep in mind that what I am about to say is just a list of excuses but I will just say them anyway.

Fast food places like Wendys, Burger King, and Mcdonalds are very convenient when you are tired from a long day of work and have no desire to cook. Two of the above have dollar menus that make it very easy to just get a quick lunch or dinner for next to nothing. It does wonders when you are broke. While, the burgers may be a certain calorie count, the french fries (which I think is made from pure crack) is what does the most damage. Being a single man that does not care to cook for just himself would rather get a chicken sandwich from Wendys then anything else.

Of course, I get it. I can easily go shopping and get some items that will allow me to eat for weeks if I just put in the effort. This would also be a money savor if I make large portions which I can then have lunch. Sometimes I cannot get over my own laziness.

At the same time, most of these place do have healthier options. Do I choose them? Of course not. Why? Because they are not filling and they are generally more expensive. A side salad is nothing when you consider it. Although, there are places that do have large salads for a decent price but considering that we are talking about fast food, where things are mostly processed, how healthy are we really talking about? My question to these fast food places is, how hard is it to make a turkey burger as opposed to a McRib (which is probably made from Unicorn meat anyway)?

I digress. The problem is squarely on my shoulders. I need to be the one to make the decisions on my own diet. I know that I am better off getting a box of sushi at Wegman's for roughly the same price as medium Crispy Chicken Sandwich meal at Wendys.

So I have made the decision to give up fast food. This list includes: McDonalds, Burger King, Wendys. and Taco Bell. I may add more. Keep in mind that this is not easy. There are times when I am not going to want to cook because my roommates pile the dishes high and I don't care to wash them. There will come a time when I forget to bring lunch and my funds are not as high as I would like them to be. Then there is the plain fact that I will undoubtedly crave this food. Soda was easy to give up but this is a whole different animal all together.

I am up for the challenge. No More Excuses.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Things You Own, End Up Owning You...

You're not your job. You're not how much money you have in the bank. You're not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You're not your fucking khakis. You're the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world. - Tyler Durden (Fight Club)
Tyler Duren had it right. We are people trained to consume with no purpose. We do things so we can be like the Joneses or more importantly, we do things so we can be better than Joneses. Let me come back to my argument that we the people are indeed sheep. We follow trends for no reason, we listen to horrible songs for no reason, we make people famous for no reason. Why? Because we inherently are unhappy with ourselves and our stagnant lives.

I believe the vast majority of people would rather live someone else's life which is why we tend watch crappy reality shows about gold diggers, the faux famous, and the non talented. We the people would rather root and text in a vote on someone else's success without a clue on how to achieve our own. We are a society build on the backs of other people.

The majority holds beliefs that America was discovered by a mass murder. These are the same folks who will tell you that there is no Climate Change. These are the same people that hold the belief that we are the only life in the universe so that you do not think that there other possibilities out there. I would even take an educated guess that these are the people who want to control us but passing the SOPA and PIPA bills so that we just consume goods and not share them.

I get tired of being obligated to pay bills for things I purchased that I once thought I could not live without. This society tells us that in order to make money you need money, which basically tells people who do not have any to suck it up and play the lottery (thus spending money). I get tired of paying loans for a degree that is not enough which means I have to go back to school and be in more debt in order to get a job I may end up hating so I can pay bills I do not want.

We are all fooled to believe that we should lead simple lives. We should get married and buy a house with a white picket fence then have children and maybe a dog. What society neatly puts on the fine print of what is now the American Dream is that you will spend most of your life paying for a house and all the things that come with it. Every piece of furniture that "speaks to you", the appliances that you need to make life easy, cable tv which has effectively replaced real tv that decades ago no one paid for, and the utilities that you need in order to just be alive like water. Let's not even talk about how you will be being paying for your spoiled kid (assuming you have just one) for about 18 − 20 years of your life in hopes they just put you in a home before you die. Then there is that person you married, well let's just say that the divorce is just as expensive as the wedding.

The things you own, end up owning you. There is no way to escape it. We get attached to material things. We get attached to the idea of the things that we think we need until the realization hits that our lives would have been better if we did not own half the shit we did.

There is no manual for life and if there was, you would have to finance it.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Year Three

The only man who is really free is the one who can turn down an invitation to dinner without giving an excuse. ~Jules Renard
Where has the time gone? I looked up at the calender to and realized what today was. I have been in the blog game for 3 years now with no intentions on stopping. My journey had changed but my desire to write has remained the same. Somehow I have managed to gain more followers each year and I appreciate that. I would like to think that this has been a shared experience.

When I think about the focus of this blog I think about how it reflects me as a person. I always have had issues with focusing in general so it is not a surprise that there is no one single focus. However, I am still consistent with my messages that may have evolved of the last 3 years. When I wrote about why I started this blog in 2009, the last sentence states: I am writing this blog because the truth hurts.

This still holds true no matter what I write. I noticed that my emotional states have changed so much. I think that during my first year I wrote about so many emotional things that it has really helped shape what this blog has become. My journey was one of self redemption that I needed to work out. My marriage fell apart which lead to the ultimate divorce. Now I am in the middle of a very satisfying relationship which shows that anything can help within such a time span.

I can say that for the first time in a long time I am the closest to happiness than I have ever been. I am not entirely sure how this is possible considering that there have been times where my life almost fell apart several times last year. Maybe it is because I am on a new journey where excuses are not longer allowed. I am now doing the things I have said I would do regardless of the level of fear. Maybe it is because deep down I know that I don't have to worry about being alone anymore (which sounds crazy but guys do think this way...just rarely admit it).

This year will be rough because it will be a year full of risk taking and fear conquering. I can try to make that commitment to write more on this blog, but with other blogs I have, a book I am writing, a class that I am taking, and the book club that I am still apart of, I may still be as infrequent as last year. However, the quality will still be the same. I am taking my motto of no more excuses very seriously. Life is too short and I need to focus on what is important.

As usual, I look forward to documenting this year, which is a big one if you think about it. The Presidential elections are in November so that means the debates will heat up in the summer. I am quite sure that I will have tons to say about that as well as this being our final year on this planet according to those who believe in the Mayan Long Count Calender. I would like to travel a bit this year and the only place I know I am going to for sure in Boston in March.

Afro Latinos will still be a topic and I plan to share some of my writings from my book as well as my short stories. Poems will continue to happen in April and I found out that I have a 20 page paper due in May. All this writing will be interesting and I cannot thank you enough for all the support. I am dedicating the song below to this year and my journey to being Limitless.

Excuses are the nails used to build a house of failure. ~Don Wilder and Bill Rechin

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Last week, when I had some free time I saw a movie that I had been wanting to see for a while. I saw Limitless starring Bradley Cooper. For those who do not know, this is a movie about a guy who takes a pill that expands his brain function and capacity and thus unlocking his true potential. With this new heightened state of awareness he is able to do things that no one but real geniuses can do.

There are few things that I found to be very interesting and one of them was that he was able to really focus. Once he took the pill, he was able to cut out all the distractions in his life and do what he needed to do. The first thing he did was clean his apartment which makes me laugh because I struggle just to clean my room. The second thing he did was write a book in fours days. This was something that he was trying to do his whole life and he knew how to do it and got it done.

The rest of the movie was good but for the purposes of this blog it is not that important. I felt that this movie spoke to me in regards to the fact that I cannot seem to focus because I allow my problems to dictate my life. While I do not need a pill to realize that I can be lazy, I have pretty much been able to deduce what one my problems has been over the last several years of this stagnant life I have been living. I lack focus because I worry about everything around me and thus I make excuses for not doing something that I need to be doing.

I have already determined that I am done with excuses. As I mentioned in a previous post, I have already made a list of things that I need to do. What I did not say is that this list has made me feel overwhelmed and I had to convince myself that I do not need to complete everything thing on this list right now. What this list had done is let me visualize everything I have to do and things that I should have done for years. This is basically drawing a very vivid picture of my failures.  However, it has not stopped me and by the end of this blog I will prove it.

The other revelation that occurred to me last week while I was having drinks with some colleagues. There are not that may people of color that work at Syracuse University so we tend to stick together and hang out every once and while. One of my friends, that I have worked with for the majority of time that I have been here, asked me if I am still taking classes. I was almost embarrassed to tell him that I was not. He is currently working on his PHD, so you can see why I would feel a little ashamed. I told him that I stopped because I was job searching and I really didn't think I would still be here and I didn't want to be in a program if I was leaving…

…and then it happened. I realized again that I was making another excuse. I wish that I could have pulled the words back. He told me that I should not let this stop me from learning. Even if I were to get accepted into the program I want, it is ok to leave as long as I still take the classes. He followed up by saying that I could put an "Expected End Date" on my resume so that potential employers know that I care about my education. I thought about this for the rest of the night and the weekend.


Turns out that I have been talking a lot of shit to myself and to everyone and I have had enough. I did two things this past weekend. The first was that I cleaned up my room. This is something I just normally do when I am expecting company but this time I really cleaned it, which includes dusting and throwing many things in the trash. I still came to the realization that I need to care about the things that I do not care about so I can get rid of them and not let things pile up. 

Junk mail would be a good example of this. I get so much shit from people who want my money that I cannot stand it. Not to mention that what is not junk mail is a bill of some kind. I have become one of those people who just does not open his mail unless I can recognize it is not either one of the two things I just mentioned. So, no I do not open my bills because I have this thing called a computer. I know how much I owe.  Before you can tell me to click the paperless option, when something is overdue, they send a bill through the mail anyway. 

The second thing that I did was dedicate 3 hours of total silence on MLK day to writing my novel. I wrote 3 chapters in this book that I hardly ever talk about because in the back of my mind I do not want to disappoint people nor myself if I do not finish this. But of course, the beauty of talking as much shit as I have is that I can say anything and not prove it. Well, I sent it to my girlfriend, who barely knew I was writing a novel. I needed her to see that it was real because if I do not, is it real at all? 

Which brings me to my ultimate point here. There are no excuses this year. I cannot be allowed to make a single excuse for not being able to get the things I need to get done. I also cannot expect me to think that everything on my list can be done right now. This is a process that will take time. This is my new journey to reach my ultimate potential. I do not need a pill to see the limitless possibilities of this.

Here are the things that I have done so far this year in the effort to invest in myself. I have ordered new windows for the house, I have written two short stories. I paid off a credit card, I started going to the gym everyday, and I started reading again. Yet, the one of the most important things that I just did today was register for class. This is the first time I will be in class since 2008. 

No More Excuses.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

..and I Ran, I Ran so Far Away...

My legs hurt. They need to hurt because I put this off for far too long.  Monday I finally ran again and it was one of the hardest things I have done in a while. At this point, Ice skating was easier. I made running a specific goal that I had to accomplish and keep doing in 2012. I am not entirely sure how I stopped but I am pretty sure it involved an excuse.

It is amazing how much in rhythm I have to be in order to run the way I want to. I didn't have head phones so I had to buy some. Normally, I would go home and find some or I would just skip that day because I needed the music to focus on. But, the rhythm I am talking about is far more than just the music. Just getting on the treadmill felt foreign to me as if I had never done it before. The only thing that I did remember was what my favorite treadmill was and how to program it, although I ended up doing that wrong as well.

It felt good to get that first quarter mile down, but then the pain started. It was right then that I knew how far I had fallen from my own grace. I had been in a little bit of denial with how out of shape I was and my body confirmed it for me. The rest of the run was a battle of will power and agony. I would be lying if I said I ran the entire 2.5 miles, but I never stopped moving until the time was done. It turned out that I programmed more time that usual but I was not going to stop because that.

If you ever run on a treadmill you will know that when you run for the first time in a long time that your body still feels like it is moving even after you stop. So getting off the treadmill without looking like you are still running at 5.5 speed is a challenge when your quad muscles are aching. My intention was not to limp off the machine, but I would not be surprised if that was exactly what it looked like. I walked slowly on purpose and going down a set of stairs to get to the locker room is no fun at all.

I ran but I paid the price for stopping in the first place. My legs still hurt when I played racquetball yesterday but the workout is not the same and it did not affect my mobility until I caught a cramp in my calf. This is yet another sign of me losing that stamina and physical prowess that I once had. More importantly I lost that rhythm that I had to get through my regimen. It took me awhile to even get into the games I was playing.

I almost dread running tomorrow. I will do it because I possess the motivation and the drive. I will do it because I want to get that rhythm back in everything I do in my life. More importantly, I will do it because despite the pain, I have run out of excuses.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Investing in Myself

I made a list of 30 things that I need to do within the next 30 days. I want to start 2012 correctly. I am back in Syracuse contemplating the future I have been shaping in my head over the last few weeks. Some things on the list are simple and others are complicated to say the least. The things that I'm concerned about have a little bit of fear behind them. But, I need to overcome that fear in order to do the one thing I have been thinking about, which is investing in myself.

Let's think about how that sounds. Investing suggests money being put into something in order to make that something better. Investing also requires time to develop that something with the money that has been put behind it. I have been spending money on things that I do not want or need and its now time to think about me and what I need. I'm not saying that I am going to buy big ticket items either, this means that I'm tired of barely making it from paycheck to paycheck. I spoke about risks last week and part of investing in myself takes risks that I am fully willing to take.

I do plan on paying the bills that have helped me live paycheck to paycheck. I just plan on being smarter about things. I work hard and barely get what I want so now it is time to change things up. They say that insanity is doing the same things over and over again expecting the different results, well I got news for you, I am not insane. There is nothing crazy about taking risks in order to be successful.

As I write this, I can cross off 2 things I have already done and I hope to cross off 5 more by the end of the day. Interestingly enough, most of the things on this list do not require me to spend money. It is just little things that will help my quality of life this year. I plan on getting rid of many things in my possession. I want to clear away the things that are unused and unwanted. I am not a hoarder per say but I've been so used to living that stagnant life that I have not recognized when its time to let go. However, letting go of things is just the tip of the iceberg. There are things that I just do not care about that I haven't gotten rid of because I just don't care about them.

The irony is that I need to care about those things I do not care about for the sake of time and space. While there may be things that I don't do because of fear, there are things I do not do because I could care less, which is just as bad. When you don't care about something it shows. We tend to put in the time for the things we care about the most. This does not mean that we do not care fully about the things we tend to neglect it just means that our focus is on something else.

Which is another problem I have in terms of focus. I lose focus very easily because I tend to get bored. My mind is always racing to the next thing and I lose focus on the present. I am not sure how I intend on fixing this but, this is the very reason why I make lists. I need that constant reminder that I need to come back down to Earth to do do the things I need to do. I know it sounds like a bit of procrastination and for the most part it is, but when I care to do something I do it quickly.

This all plays a part in the investing into myself. I need to take the time to care about the little things. I can have the fancy dreams and the goals but all of those have a foundation of the small details. Truth be told, I got tired of talking all that shit last year that it is time to take action for this year. I am motivated by the fact that I want to stop being afraid of success. I want to stop making the "I was going through a divorce" excuse and just do it.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Take Risks: The Uncomforted Zone

I have been living a stagnant life. Even before the new year, I was saying this to myself. Some where within the last 3 years I have just stopped and became complacent with my life. I started doing things because they are what you are supposed to do as an adult. Maybe, it started before this blog. Maybe even before I got married. The point is, I cannot recall a real time in which I took a real risk other than moving to Syracuse more than 10 years ago.

I have been in my comfort zone for such a long time that I let fear get in the way of leaving that zone. Is this what happens when you get older? We just go to work everyday and do the same things day in and day out without any thought of what else is there? I cannot deal with this possibility and, quite frankly, I have no one to blame but myself. This blog has been a chronicle of things that I need to think about while I continue this "path." But where the hell is this journey taking me? 

The problem is that I have been talking about how most people are sheep and I am not one of them, but how much of this is really true? I have been leading a great portion of my life in fear thinking that I will not be successful with what I do, yet when it comes to doing those things that are necessary, I find an excuse. I am not willing to think about the risk or not willing to make a sacrifice because I have to keep in mind that I am lucky to still have things like a job, a house, and a car. There is this mentality that it is too risky to rock the boat, but when you see those people out there who are ultra successful, it is because they took risks. Isn't that what life is about, taking risks and stepping out of the comfort zone? 

Monday, I did something that I have never done before. I went ice skating. My girlfriend had been asking me to go with her for a few weeks and it wasn't that I didn't want to, I just never been. That is correct, I have never ice skated, roller skated, nor roller bladed at all. This was, in many ways, a big deal for me. Plus, she wanted to go to Central Park and do this which means I will most likely be busting my ass in front of lots of people. Which brings me to another point, I have never been to Central Park. How can a native New Yorker, such as myself, never been to this place? I convinced myself that I have never needed to go (one who lives in the matrix does such things).

So at this point when we are walking up to the ice rink and I am already saying to myself that I have been leading a stagnant life filled with risk-less paths so this will be a great way to start the new year. We get our skates and all I am thinking about is how do people walk on these things? Once I put mine on, I could barely stand up straight and walking was next to impossible. I had to sit down before I looked like a fool. I tied the shoes tighter and I look up to see all these little kids walking around in their ice skates with no issues. I knew then that I could do this. The girlfriend did mention that once on the ice, walking on the floor would become much easier (and it was).

Somehow I made it to the ice. I am proud to say that I did not fall once. I hugged the wall much on my first go round. With every significant lap I seemed to improve and I only used the wall when I needed to. It made me reflect on how nervous I was in the beginning and how I gradually improved. Everything in life starts with baby steps. Was I so afraid to fall in front of people? Normally I do not care what people think or am I just saying that? Perhaps I do care about the image that I portray. However, doing something new like this was very exciting and proved my ultimate point, I have been stagnant.

I begin to realize why sloth is one of the 7 deadly sins. Wasting away and not taking chances is not what life is supposed to be about. Maybe I have been taking gradual risks everyday that I not be aware. Some may say writing and putting myself out there is a risk but I have become so comfortable with that that there is very little risk left. So now what? I am asking all these questions with very little answers, so I guess it is time to start taking the risk and find those answers I need.


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