Running to a Halt

As many of you know, I have been running since the beginning of 2010.  I have had some ups and downs as far as running, but for the most part: all has been good.  My last race was actually a 5K January 1st of 2011.  In that race, I ran my personal best of 23:11, which made me feel very good.  Before running this 5K, I had plans for running in a marathon in late March of this year.  I had been training since early December.  I would go and run after work, whether outside in the frigid cold, or inside on a treadmill, and get up early on the weekends to run long distances.  About two weeks ago, something in my brain seemed to turn off; I was no longer interested in running the marathon.  After going through eight weeks of training, I told myself: I’m just not ready.  Why was that?

Well, being that I just started running early last year, this was the first year that I have run in the winter.  Usually, when the temperatures drop below freezing, you’ll catch me bundled up in the house.  Due to my drive to run in a 26.2 race, I decided to suck it up and get the running shoes laced.  In order to be ready for the marathon in March, I would have to practice throughout the entire winter.

One major problem with running in the winter is the possible snowstorms that can occur, especially on the East Coast of the U.S..  Maryland was starting to get about 6-8 inches of snow with the possibility of ice.  This obviously made the trails impossible to run.  With the trails being impossible to run, I miss training days.  If I miss training days, I start to become less prepared and confident.  The less prepared and confident I feel, the lesser the possibility I am actually going to run the marathon.  You see where I’m getting at?

Another problem that halted me from running was the build-up of injuries.  For example, when I was running a 10-mile practice run, I developed a blister on my left foot.  This was pretty painful for a couple of days, and is hard to walk on.  I had already been dealing with a shin split from late last year which didn’t seem to get any better.  Even after healing the blister and the shin split, I still didn’t feel like that I could be at my best for the marathon.

As many postponed runs due to weather, injuries, and lack of interest, I decided to halt my training for the marathon.  It’s pretty hard, because in the back of your mind you’re saying, “I don’t want to be a quitter, I just can’t.”  I realize, however, that I still have plenty of time to run in a marathon.  I could possibly run in one this year, whenever the weather is much better.  I will still run in a 5K that I have planned for in March, but the 26.2 mile run will just have the wait another day.

The Maturation of Roddy White

Roddy White

I’m a fan of the Atlanta Falcons.  I’ve been a fan of the Falcons since 2002; the same season where the Falcons went to the playoffs with first-year starter Michael Vick.  One of the Falcons’ big problems over the next two years was the need of a play-making wide receiver to help out Vick.  The Falcons obtained Peerless Price in order to help out the Falcons’ offense.  After years of under production from the WR corps, the Falcons drafted Sharod “Roddy” White with their first-round pick in 2005.  Roddy White, from Alabama-Birmingham University (UAB), was brought in for his capability to make explosive plays, along with adding another dimension to a one-dimensional offense of the Falcons.

In Roddy’s first season, Roddy made his first catch against the Vikings in 2005, where he had two catches for twelve yards in a 30-1o victory.  A couple of weeks later, White caught his first touchdown against the Green Bay Packers.  Roddy ended that game with two catches for twenty-two yards.  The next game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Roddy White had his first 100-yard receiving performance where he caught four passes for 108 yards.  For the season overall, White ended with 29 catches for 446 yards and three touchdowns.

After his first season, many Atlanta Falcons fans felt that the best was yet to come for the young Roddy White.  The next season, in 2006, Roddy White surely had his ups and downs.  Even with his ability to quickly get downfield and get open, White’s kryptonite came with the amount of dropped passes.  Roddy’s inability to catch passes on a regular basis set the Falcons’ offense back some and placed more pressure for the running game and Michael Vick to make plays.  The lowest point of the season came in a home game against the New Orleans Saints in week twelve.  In this game, there were many drops from Falcons receivers, but Roddy had one of the most talked-about drops where he dropped a touchdown pass in the endzone.  It was surely a low point in Roddy White’s young career.  People were already starting to call the young receiver a bust.  Roddy White ended the thirty catches for 506 yards, but zero touchdowns.

Before the beginning of the 2007 season, there were many things that occurred that turned the Atlanta Falcons organization around.  The indictment of Michael Vick, which I won’t go into detail about (since it’s been beaten down to the core), the firing of Jim Mora Jr. and the hiring of Bobby Petrino.  There were two events though that occurred that were least talked about:  the signing of veteran receiver Joe Horn and the signing of Hue Jackson as offensive coordinator.  Hue Jackson previously served as the Wide Receivers coach for the Cincinnati Bengals, where he helped receivers Chad Ochocinco, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and Chris Henry become household names around the league.  These two signings proved to be the turning point in Roddy White’s career.

In a season where the Atlanta Falcons struggled to a 4-12 record, Roddy White was one of the shining spots on the Falcons team.  Roddy White had five games of 100+ receiving yards.  White also became the Atlanta Falcons first wide receiver to reach 1,000 yards receiving for a season since Terance Mathis did it in 1999.  I was personally amazed on the progress Roddy White made within a season that had so many down points for the Falcons.  Roddy White ended the season with 83 catches for 1,202 yards and six touchdowns.  Keep in mind, Roddy White had Chris Redman, Joey Harrington, and Byron Leftwich as the quarterbacks throwing to him.  At this point, all Roddy White needed was a franchise quarterback to consistently deliver him the ball and become a major threat.

Fast-forward to April 26, 2008.  The Atlanta Falcons drafted quarterback Matt Ryan from Boston College with their first-round pick.  Many Falcons fans thought that with Matt Ryan now the face of the Falcons franchise, Roddy White could blossom and improve off his breakout campaign from the 2007 season.  Another piece to the puzzle that was added was the signing of Terry Robiskie, who was determined to make Roddy White a bigger threat at the WR position.   During the 2008 season, Matt Ryan proved to be the answer for the quarterback position in Atlanta.  The Matt Ryan-Roddy White connection proved to be legit in every aspect.  Roddy White ended the year with seven games with 100+ yards receiving.  Roddy also had his first multi-touchdown game against the Philadelphia Eagles in week 8.  Roddy White was apart of a campaign that led the new-look Falcons to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth.  Roddy White’s final number for the season:  88 catches, 1,382 yards and seven touchdowns.  More importantly though, a first-ever Pro Bowl spot for the improving Roddy White.

My Roddy White Jersey

During the off-season of 2009, Roddy White held-out in order to receive a better fitted contract based off of his two previous high-productive seasons.  Knowing how important White was to the Falcons offense and organization overall, he was re-signed to a six-year, $48 million dollar contract.  Fast-forward to the 2009 season, where future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez was signed to add another dimension to the Falcons offense, White improved even more.  In week five, Roddy White had his best game of his career where he caught 8 passes for a career-high 210 yards and two touchdowns against the San Francisco 49ers.  I remember being at a friend’s house and seeing the game and saying to myself, “Roddy White can no longer be ignored”.  However, I still felt that even after two productive seasons and a breakout game, Roddy White still did not receive the credit for being one of the top receivers in the NFL.  By the end of the 2009 season, White became more of a bigger presence throughout the NFL where he caught 85 passes for 1,153 yards and 11 touchdowns.

We are currently approaching week 8 of the 2010 campaign, where Roddy White leads the league with 54 catches for 747 yards and five touchdowns through seven games.  The most impressive statistic, however, is something that cannot be seen with the numbers that were just talked about.  Throughout seven games, Roddy White does not have a dropped pass (knocks on wood).  White is the only player with 35+ receptions without a dropped pass so far throughout this season.  In his last game against the Cincinnati Bengals on October 24th, Roddy White had 11 catches for 201 yards and two touchdowns.  It was this game where people around the league started talking about Roddy White being one of the premier wide receivers in the NFL.  It was this game where analysts and spectators started believing that Roddy White is now a wide receiver that teams have to game plan against.

When people ask me who is my favorite player from the Atlanta Falcons, I easily say Roddy White.  I have had the pleasure of watching Roddy White go from the being talked about as being a potential wasted talent, to arguably one of the best wide receivers in the NFL.  I have had the pleasure of watching Roddy White go from being an unfocused, unpolished athlete to a sharp, dangerous game-breaker.  Roddy still has a long way to go until his career is over, but lets hope that Sharod “Roddy” White can keep up this high level of play for many seasons to come.  I will sure to here to witness every moment.

First 10K Run: Review & Afterthoughts

 

Running For a Purpose (Image from http://www.keyschool.org)

A couple of days ago in my blog post, Running: My New Passion, I wrote about the fact that I had a 10K race coming up on October 24th.  Well, the day and come and gone so its time for me to tell you how my first 10K race went.

Throughout the morning, I had plenty of excitement and jitters.  The race did not start until 9 AM, but I was at the race course around 7:15 AM.  Before the race began, I took some time to get acclimated with the surroundings of the race course; the overall environment we shall say.  I went ahead and jogged for a little around the neighborhood just to see how my body would react to the smooth pavement.  There was another reason why I went ahead and tried to run a little bit:  to test out my right ankle.  It was two Saturdays ago that I had a little pain in my right ankle during a 8-mile practice run.  After the run, I decided to not run many more practice runs to prevent further aggravation of the ankle.  To my delight and surprise, my ankle felt pretty good.

The weather was around 60 degrees Fahrenheit, minimal air was blowing, and the sun was starting to come out.  It was now 9:00 AM.  It was now time to start the race.  As the gun went off, I started pedaling downhill and off towards the race track.  For this race, there was a 5K going on at the same time.  People who were running the 10K had to run the same course twice (3.1 miles twice).  I completed the first 3.1 miles at around 25:15.

As I was beginning the second half of the race, something in me told me to keep on going.  Something told me to just manage these last couples of miles and I’ll be fine.  There were times that I wanted to stop, but there was no way that I was going to let that happen.  I worked too hard up to this point to just stop now.  The race course served Gatorade and water at the 2 and 5 mile markers.  I made sure to drink Gatorade on both occasions to regain some of the Potassium and Salt that was lost while sweating.  As I reached the 6 mile marker, I had .2 more miles to go.  I completely put it in 5th gear in order to finish on a strong note.  I finished the 10K race at 50:45.  I came in second place in my age group (20-29) in the 10K competition.  I was shocked to find this out after the official race results were posted.

After the race was completed, I felt really good about finishing my first 10K without stopping.  I do want to improve on my time the next time I run a 10K because I felt that I would have a better time before the race.  No worries though, that’s why I love to run.  I know that I will get better.  Mission accomplished.

Terrell Owens Is a First-Ballot Hall of Famer

Imagecom Photo

To those who are strictly familiar with Terrell Owens, better known as T.O., and his ability to be a team’s worst nightmare, might think to yourselves “What the heck are you talking about?  Terrell Owens is not a first-ballot Hall of Famer.”  Others who have seen what Owens has done on the gridiron and what he has contributed to the NFL will rightfully say that Owens deserves to be inducted in Canton five years after his career is over.  I am one of those people who believe that Owens and his contributions will get him into the Hall of Fame, first ballot.  Keep this in mind, I am not a Terrell Owens fanatic, but I cannot deny that Terrell Owens is one the best WRs to ever play the game.

I think a very good majority of people who watch, study, and follow the NFL will agree with me that Terrell Owens will be in the Hall of Fame.  The debate is more on how long should it take him to get inducted.  This is based on his overall career statistics and his ability to make the team around him better.  Here are some of the argument points that I have heard PERSONALLY used to argue against Terrell Owens being a first-ballot Hall of Famer:

  1. Terrell Owens is NOT a team player/He’s a team distraction – I will admit, T.O. has been one of the most egotistical football players that has ever embraced the NFL.  T.O. has played for five teams (49ers, Eagles, Cowboys, Bills, and currently the Bengals).  Out of those five teams, T.O. has definitely been caught-up in team controversy with his first three teams.  On the other hand, with the Bills, and even currently with the Bengals, Owens has not been much of a distraction and a nuisance has people have wanted or expected him to be.  Another thing to add to deter this argument is this:  How many times has Terrell Owens been arrested by police?  Been busted for steroids, drugs, or any other illegal substance?  The answer is 0, which means T.O. is not as a distraction to the league that people make him out to be.
  2. Terrell Owens was NOT the best WR during his time in the NFL – From Terrell Owens rookie season of 1996 to present, we have had receivers such as Randy Moss, Torry Holt, Issac Bruce, Marvin Harrison, and Hines Ward make the most impact within that time span.  From those five-listed receivers, and the addition of Owens, its argued that T.O. is somewhere within the middle of the pack; behind Randy Moss, Issac Bruce, and Marvin Harrison (which is a stretch at this point).
  3. Terrell Owens has not won a Super Bowl - This is one of the most used arguing points in determining Hall of Fame placement for a player.  How many Super Bowls has Owens been to?  He’s only been to one, which was in the 2004 season with the Philadelphia Eagles.  As we all know, the Eagles lost to the Patriots in the big dance.  A team that has Terrell Owens has not been back to the Super Bowl since, and many critics claim that he is part of the reason why.  Well, let’s think for a minute.  Randy Moss, who is definitely going to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, doesn’t have a Super Bowl ring either and he is claimed by many as one of the best WRs in NFL history.
  4. There are other Wide Receivers who should be inducted first before T.O. – Issac Bruce, Tim Brown, Marvin Harrison, Cris Carter, Henry Ellard, and Torry Holt.  All of these receivers are currently within the top-10 of all-time receiving yards in the NFL and NONE are in the Hall of Fame.  These receivers will definitely be within the Hall of Fame in the next couple of years.  If T.O. (we’ll say theoretically) was to retire at the end of this season, what will he be up against in five years?  Only time would tell.

In looking at all of these arguing points that are used against Terrell Owens, there is no set of stats that can be argued by anyone:  his overall wide receiver statistics from 1996-present.  The following statistics were obtained from NFL.com and Pro-Football-Reference.com:

  • 15,427 receiving yards (currently second all-time to Jerry Rice, who has 22,895)
  • 1,037 receptions (currently fifth all-time; only seven receivers have 1,000+ career receptions)
  • 146 career receiving touchdowns (currently third-all time behind Randy Moss and Jerry Rice)
  • 149 total touchdowns (currently fifth all-time)
  • Seven years with at least 10+ receiving touchdowns (three times with SF and DAL, once with PHI). Only Marvin Harrison (8), Randy Moss and Jerry Rice (9) have more seasons with at least 10+ receiving touchdowns
  • 50 career games with 100+ yards receiving (currently 4th most all-time)
  • Top-10 in receiving yards for five seasons (2000-02 and 2006-07)

As a wide receiver in the NFL, the above stats are the ones you should be concerned about when debating on whether or not a player is first-ballot material.  I think those numbers speak for itself.  In the years that T.O. was with the 49ers, Jeff Garcia undoubtedly had the best season of his career statistically.  When T.O. went to the Eagles, Donovan McNabb had his best year in this career statistically.  When T.O. went to the Cowboys, Tony Romo had the best season of his career statistically.  If you don’t believe me, look it up yourselves.  The last time I checked, character issues was not a part of the voting requirements when it came to determining who made the Hall of Fame.  It was about the contribution that the individual gave to the game of football and how much of an impact he made out of the field.  I think Terrell Owens has definitely made his presence known, whether people want to admit it or not.

Terrell Owens, in my eyes, is a first-ballot Hall of Fame candidate.  Will the NFL Hall of Fame voting committee think so when the time comes?  We’ll see.

Running: My New Passion

 

Asics GT-2150

The above image is a pair of Asics GT-2150 running shoes that I use for a new found passion of mines: running.  It’s kind of weird how I stumbled on the thought of running on a regular basis.  When I was young, I always loved to run.  I was always the one who loved to play childhood games such as “Catch One Catch All”, “Tag”, “Freeze”, and all of the similar activities.  Why?  Because I knew I had the speed to catch anyone; it was exciting at the time.  Even with my love for running, I never played any athletics during school.  Fast-forward five years later after school, and here I am running for fun and competitive purposes.

My itch for competitive running started back in March of this year.  A co-worker of mines told me about a 5K event (3.1 miles) that was going to occur in May.  I was pretty excited to run the race, so I decided to accept the invitation.  When I first started my training, a didn’t know a THING about how to train, where to train, how to properly condition my body, nothing.  I remember my first couple of practice sessions at a local race track:  I was running in Nike Air Forces (never a good idea for ANY type of run, in my opinion).  I could not even run 2 miles without having to stop and grab something to drink.

I knew I was better than this, so I decided to get some advice from past runners/books.  The first thing that I had to do was definitely get some running shoes.  Even before I bought my first running shoes, I had to determine my foot structure.  The “Wet Test” (where you wet your feet and place them on a heavy piece of paper, preferably cardboard) helped me determine my foot structure.  I bought my first ever pair of running shoes, Asics Gel 1120.  From there, I purchased better clothes for running (Under Armour, nothing else matters!).  From this point on, I took not only my upcoming 5K event, but my running training very serious.

I started running once a week.  After I was comfortable, I started running 3 times per week; getting better with each run.  I started to run at different places other than the track.  I first started running with headphones and iPod in order to allude the thought of heavy breathing and aches.  After a while, I left those same set of headphones and iPod in my closet in order to become a more focused runner.  I wanted to correct my breathing patterns, my running technique, and my body movements.  All of this is critical when running.

I ran my first ever 5K on May 1st.  My official time was 23:50 (average of 7:40 per mile), which used time-chip scoring.  I felt great not only finishing the event without stopping, I felt great with the results at hand.  The results can be attributed to increased and consistent practice, good sleep the night before, and a good balance breakfast beforehand.

After the event, I wanted to learn more on how to become a better runner.  I was in a used bookstore and I happened to find a book called The New York Road Runners Club Complete Book of Running by Fred Lebow, Gloria Averbuch, and friends. Even though this book was outdated by 15 years, this book helped me to build a foundation of what it takes to become a better runner overtime.  As I was reading this book, it talked about Marathon running.  Before this point, I had really no intentions on running a marathon (26.2 miles).  I thought there was NO way that I could ever run that long and still stay sane.  After I read this chapter, my thoughts changed drastically.  My goal is to now run in a marathon by March of next year.  It’s going to take an ample amount of training, preparation, studying, and patience.  I believe that I can get it done. I bought a more up-to-date book for my marathon goal, The Marathon Method: The 16-Week Training Program that Prepares You to Finish a Full or Half Marathon in Your Best Time by Tom Holland. To quote Kevin Garnett, “anything is possibleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee”.  Well, maybe without the same emotional outburst as Kevin, but close.

Since my first 5K, I’ve bought improved running shoes (hence the photo at the top), gotten my body into better shape, became more conscious of possible dangers of improper training, and overall became more excited with each run.

I went from not being able to run 2 miles without stopping, to currently running a personal record of 8 miles.  With each experience, I get more confident in my ability to run efficiently.  The thought of running actually has me going to bed early on the weekends (I know, blasphemy!) in order to run the paved paths and dirt trails.  I ran another 5K in September, and I plan on running my first-ever 10K this weekend.  As a matter of fact, I just came back from running two miles as practice for the event!  I’ll tell you how it goes in a future blog post.

Livestrong.

Regaining “The Fire”

The Fire

So, it’s been 57 days since my last blog post.  There has been a lot of things that have occurred in my life since that time.  One thing that I will admit during my hiatus is this:  I lost my creative fire to post to the blog.  It almost seemed as if I thought to myself, “This blogging thing might not be for me after all”.

There would be times where I would log on just to check to see if there were any new viewers, but I never had the urge to hit that “New Post” button.  It felt like that I just didn’t have it anymore.  Like an athlete who had an illustrious, but fulling career and finally realized that he/she could not go on any further.

However, I realized that within in heart:  there’s so much more that I need to write about.  There’s so many more topics that I need to talk about.  There’s many viewers that actually enjoy reading some of the things that I post about.  I can’t start something and not have the will to finish.

The everyday grind that is life does eventually take a toll and drives you away from things that you enjoy.  Until that time, I will be here.  Hopefully, you will be to.

Undervalued & Overlooked Music Artists

The above album artwork is from Raheem Devaughn’s debut album The Love Experience. I just got finished listening to one of his songs off the album called “Breathe”.  During the middle of the song, I thought to myself, “Why didn’t Raheem Devaughn get more exposure to the listeners of music community?”  Why are people still asking who is Raheem Devaughn to this day?”  I quickly realized that Raheem Devaughn is and will continue to be an undervalued artist within the R&B genre due to the inability to fit the “criteria” to be a commercial success.  Ironically enough, iTunes started playing Mint Condition – Pretty Lady (feat. Charlie Wilson), who has overlooked by many listeners for the last 20 years.  The same questions that I asked regarding Raheem Devaughn I applied to Mint Condition with pretty much the same answers.

Remember Lathun?  You know, the one who sung “Fortunate”?  I guess you probably don’t, since a lot of people don’t remember who he is.  This is one of my favorite songs of all time.  Unfortunately, he only had one album and quickly faded out of the music scene.  Here is his song here:

What about Remy Shand who came out with the album The Way I Feel? Some of you might remember this song.  Where was his shining light?

Now, I understand that some artists are overlooked because they might not make quality music.  However, the above artists deliver nothing but quality music. Here are some other artists who I feel should have received more commercial success for their ability to deliver excellent quality music:

-Anthony Hamilton, R&B artist
-AZ, Hip-Hop artist
-Chamillionaire, Hip-Hop artist
-Common, Hip-Hop artist
-Egypt Central, Rock group
-Marsha Ambrosius, R&B artist
-Little Brother, Hip Hop group
-Kem, R&B artist
-Goapele, R&B artist
-The Roots, Hip-Hop group

I know there’s a lot more artists/groups that I am missing, but I’ll leave it up to you to think of some more names.

“Oh, You’re Left-Handed?”

Left-Handed FTW!

“I’m a left-handed person living in a right-handed person’s world.” –Eric C.

I am here to stay that I am definitely proud to say that I am left-handed and would not change that for anything in the world.  However, I think that a lot of my counterparts see me being left-handed as abnormal, or even weird.  There’s nothing wrong with being predominantly left-handed; I feel that there’s a lot of misconceptions of being left-handed.

From the time that I was a small kid up until now, when people saw me writing with my left-hand, the responses would be, “Oh, I didn’t know you were left-handed”, “Is there something wrong with your right-hand?”, “Why don’t you write with you other hand?”.  As a child, many people had the perception that I was socially immoral for using my left-hand to do a lot of daily activities.  I even tried writing with my right-hand numerous times growing up.  Even though I could write decently with my right hand, I just did not see the point with switching my writing style to another hand in order to feel “right”.

Just until recently, I did not realize the amount of discrimination made toward those that are left-handed.  A lot of products that we use nowadays are geared majorly toward right-handed individuals such as scissors, school desks, and even keyboards.  When you go to the store, you won’t see something on the label such as “Product made for right-handed people”, they just usually assume that the product should be compatible to both hands.  That is not always the case.

There is a misconception that left-handed people are not as smart, uptight, or maintained as right-handed people.  What does the following group of well-known individuals have in common:  Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Steve Forbes, H. Ross Perot, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Issac Hayes, Tim Allen, and Robert DeNiro.  You guess it: they are all left-handed.  I would conclude that based on their well-tracked success that they don’t have a problem succeeding in the world.

So, how does a person generally become left-handed?  Let’s talk about the brain structure first.  Our brain structure, which is asymmetrical, is divided into two parts: left hemisphere and right hemisphere.  The left side deals with controlling speech and language, while the right side controls emotion and imagination.  For a left-handed individual, the brain structure symmetry is flipped around.  The right side of the brain controls the body in this instance.

One theory of left-handedness came from the University of Oxford.  Scientists discovered in 2007 that the gene LRRTM1 (Leucine Rich Repeat Transmembrane Neuronal 1) plays a role in whether a person will be left or right-handed. According to Doctor Cycle Francks, a co-author of the extensive research project on LRRTM1:

“We think that this gene affects the symmetry of the brain.  LRRTM1 is not essential for left-handedness, but it can be a strong contributing factor.”

Being left-handed is definitely a minority, which only makes up approximately anywhere from ten to thirteen percent of the world population depending on surveys and studies you look at online.  Does this mean that the same varying percentage of people are “inferior” to right-handed people?  Absolutely not.  Being left-handed is not a child deficiency, and shouldn’t be treated as such.  Left-handed people are not inferior to the right-handed, no matter what myths, generalizations, or stereotypes are out there.

Stepping out of the Comfort Zone

I haven’t written in about a week, and that short period of time seemed like an eternity.

All the way up until I started college, I always had a problem with stepping out of my comfort zone.  I will honestly say that I was worried about what other people would think of me if I did something that was “atypical” of my normal actions.  I hung around the same couple of people throughout school, usually no one else; I always pursued the same hobbies; I never had the interest to venture out and explore other things in life.  The reason why was because I was comfortable, contempt, and closed-minded.

That was until I got to college:  my mindset about life in itself changed.  Many discussions with different people made me realize that in order to achieve many goals and overcome obstacles, I needed to step out of my comfort zone.  I needed to take some risks that I wasn’t accustomed to taking in the past.  I needed to explore many different options that life could take me.  This didn’t mean to act like a wild child or be reckless, but be more open to new opportunities.  As my late friend said, “Life is short.”

I hear a lot of people refer to stepping out of the comfort zone in the aspect of dating. In my opinion, stepping out of your comfort zone can be applied to many different aspects of life.  For example, instead of going to the same nightlife spots, I started venturing out to places that I never even heard of previously.  I started traveling to other states close-by in order to experience something different from what I’m used to.  There were times where my openness succeeded, and there were times where it failed.  It doesn’t really matter; at least I was willing to try something once outside of the normal behavior.

Stepping out of your comfort zone can apply to the type of people you interact with regularly.  College was a good way for me to communicate with people of different ages, races, and backgrounds.  Yes, the people I saw in high school were similar in characteristics to those I saw in college; the difference was that I was now more open to the possibility of learning more about people who I interacted with that were different from me.  I will definitely say that I’m glad that I got to have these experiences.

Stepping out of my comfort zone took me a while to do because I used to think that doing something different from the norm would not benefit me in any way.  I’m glad that I left that mindset in the past.  Sometimes we need to leave our comfort zone in order to achieve something greater, something close to oh so far.  This involves taking a risk.  Are you willing to make that jump?

Summer: A Free One

Summer Escape

The above image shown is my patio; a place that I will be migrating to for a good majority of the summer.  This is the area that I will be enjoying my summer, a part of the year that I have not really embraced for 5 years (Full-time work and school will do that to you).  I can just sit back and think about how far I have come so far in my journey that I like to call life.

In one of my earlier blog posts that I wrote (which can be viewed here), I mentioned some of my evasions from reality.  I think I might need to add this physical area to my list.  I have the opportunity to reflect on the hard work and dedication in a way that I have not before.

Along with sitting out on my patio and enjoying nature (when it’s not extremely hot), I can do many other things this summer with the extra time.  For example, I can plan that family trip that my mother has been dying to take.  I can visit a couple of new restaurants/nightspots that I want to explore.  Finally, I can spend time with family members and friends who I have not seen in what seems to be a century.

For the last couple of summers, I have either been doing the following pretty much in order: 1. Work varying hours full-time for an IT company, 2. Attend school full-time right afterward three-times a week, 3. Had my head buried in the books in order to get homework/projects completed, 4. Slept on the couch from extreme exhaustion.  I unfortunately do not have pictures of the fourth statement (might be for my own good).  It’s good for one summer that I don’t have to do steps 2 & 3; step 4 I’m still trying to work on.

As much as I love and miss school, I can’t pass up the chance to enjoy three of the hottest months of the year known as summer.  Next year might not be same story, that Master’s Degree is calling me about now.

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