One month in

Jan. 31, 2018.jpg

365 photo project Day 31. Old school rap in an old school format.

Today is the last day of the first month of the year. The last day of the first month of my 365 photo project and the last day of the first month (though I started early) of my “Create something every day project.” I feel I should have something profound to say about all the stuff I learned, and that I should have all these great things I created this month to show off.

Well, I don’t.

That doesn’t mean this project is a failure and it doesn’t mean that I haven’t learned anything or created anything. Far from it. Maybe it hasn’t been the blockbuster success I want it to be, I haven’t started to make these amazing photos, I haven’t started work on those short stories I want to write, I haven’t drawn more than a few doodles at work, but I have worked on things, I have learned some things, and more importantly, I’m creating habits.

I hope I can kick things up a notch in February. I’d like to actually plan some photography adventures (and I want to shoot pictures of some people), I definitely want to write more, and I’d like to start exploring a few other creative avenues.

January could have gone a lot better, but the year and this project is not off to a bad start.

Cutting out distractions


Seth Rollins T-shirts are typical gym attire for me these days, which leads to dude’s distracting me from my workout because he wants to talk about the Royal Rumble.

I walked out of the locker room at Planet Fitness, ready to do some sort of a workout. I had my ear buds in, The Watcher 2 (Rakim’s verse might be my favorite 40 seconds in music) on blast, and was thinking about zoning out for an hour or so while I rode the bike and did my physical therapy exercises.

Before I could make it to the stairs, I was stopped by a dude who had cut off the sleeves of his “Rocky” T-shirt to show off his arms. His biceps were the size of my quads, I’d be showing them off too. He motioned for me to take out my ear buds and tugged at the collar of his shirt.

“Nice shirt,” he mouthed as I removed my ear buds. “Who do you think is going to win the Rumble Sunday night?”

I wasn’t even sure what T-shirt I was wearing, but knew there was a pretty good chance it was a WWE shirt since I basically only wear wrestling shirts to the gym these days and he was asking me about the Royal Rumble. I looked down and, sure enough, I was wearing a Seth Rollins “Burn It Down” T-shirt.

I mumbled something like, “Oh um, I don’t know,” and he started going on about “Shinsuke Nakamura. But I don’t know, Nakamura doesn’t really do it for me.” It’s not that I didn’t want to talk about the Rumble (if I was booking Finn Balor would win and they’d turn the Balor Club into the biggest group of asshole’s since DX, but Vince didn’t ask me, so …) but that’s not why I went to the gym. I do my best work at the gym when I can focus on the music in my ears and what I need to get done. Talking about the Royal Rumble is just a distraction, like all that damn social media on my phone. Distractions that keep me from doing the work I’m often not motivated to do anyway.

I’m kind of the same way when it comes to creating, I need to find a way to eliminate distractions. Lately I find I work best when I can find a decent work space (in other words, not my bed), turn off the internet, put my phone in airplane mode and turn on some really loud music in my ear buds. If I can just ignore everything and focus at the task at hand, like when I do my best work at the gym, is when I do my best work.

It hasn’t always been this way.

For years, I did my “creative work,” which also happened to be my day … err night … in noisy spaces. Designing pages in newsroom, with the phone ringing off the hook, people gathered around the TV talking about whatever game is on, editing shouting across the room to reporters, you get the idea (actually, I still do that for my day job, it’s just not so loud anymore). Writing stories in high school gyms or hockey arenas while another game is played in the background or music is blasted while people mill about waiting for rides home.


The newsroom, mostly empty. Sometimes it is rather loud and distracting.

And I worked fine in those environments. I still do work fine in that environment when I’m at work. I have a job to do so I sit down and do it, I have to tune out the distractions and hope I’m not missing anything I need to hear (I don’t, usually).

But when I’m not at work, if I want to get anything accomplished creatively, especially writing, I need a desk, my headphones, no TV, and no Internet. I’m not like Stephen King, who writes with the door closed (if you haven’t read “On Writing” I highly recommend it. I can work in public spaces most of the time, though I do have to make sure to keep the people watching to a minimum (same at the gym). I just need to shut off the distractions. I drown out the noise with my headphones, I turn off the Internet and I tuck my phone away in my back pack (I should try that at the gym, I really need to get an iPod) and usually, I can accomplish something.

I don’t know when this change happen and when I became so ADD that simple distractions keep me from being productive, but at least I understand the circumstances and can plan around it. Finding a place where I can comfortably be productive and don’t have the distractions of my TV, the Internet or a comfy pillow, is crucial to me actually accomplishing something.

It’s exactly the same way at the gym, if I could just get this dude to stop talking to me about the Royal Rumble  Oh, and if Finn Balor can’t win, how about Seth Rollins?

Taking the pressure off

Jan. 26, 2018

Spent a good chunk of time at the gym today, not all of it taking pictures. 

The past two days, as I worked on things other than being creative (trying to fix my parent’s computer, going to the gym to do physical therapy and to run, work), I’ve thought about this blog and my creative process. I did a few creative things yesterday, but nothing I felt like posting about on this blog. I could say the same thing about today. I got a late start this morning, then spent an hour and a half at the gym (there was a lot of wasting time, I need to work on that), and headed to work.


Don’t break the chain. (Thanks Austin Kleon.)

And I felt bad that I not only hadn’t really created anything of substance, but I also hadn’t updated this website. Can I really consider this project a success if I’m not sharing my work and updated this site? Am I breaking the chain if I don’t post it here every day?

I don’t know the answer to that.

I’m going to cut myself some slack on this one. Yes, I want to create something everyday, and yes, I want to make something of substance to post on this website every day. I want to write post on this blog that are thoughtful and interesting and, most importantly, well written.

But the idea behind this whole project is to create habits and develop skills. Putting pressure on myself to keep this site updated on a daily basis is going to take all the fun out of this. And that is really the reason I am doing this. To have fun. Sure, there is plenty of value in doing this, specifically if I can learn things that will help me at work, but this is just something I want to do to challenge myself and to do things that I enjoy.

So I guess what I’m saying I’m probably not going to update this site every day. I hope to more often than not. Some times those post might just be a few pictures, or a page I designed at work. Some times it will just be a topic I want to write about. Some times, it will be something really in depth, that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about and working on. I’m taking the pressure off of myself to make sure that this is still fun and something I enjoy.

I don’t want to break the chain, but more importantly, I don’t want to feel bad.


Unfinished business


Three years of bullet journals. That Captain America notebook is for 2018, during which I hope to finish a lot more projects.

I was sitting in my bed, one eye on the gruesome fight scene in the second-to-last episode of the Marvel/Netflix series “The Punisher,” the other on a pair of Moleskine notebooks sitting in my lap. My stomach turned a little bit as Frank Castle, spitting blood and screaming, poked his enemy’s eyes out. It also turned a little bit as I scanned through my 2017 bullet journal and realized just how many things I started this year that I have not finished.

It started on Jan. 1, where there is a note to set the clock radio next to my bed. This was part of my 2017 plan to cure my insomnia. I would no longer sleep with my phone in my bed or on my nightstand, with the excuse of using it as an alarm clock. I knew the steps I needed to take to get more sleep and leaving electronics out of the bedroom was step one.

Last night I feel asleep with the television on, my iPhone tucked under my pillow and my computer lying next to me.

That was a failed project.

I flipped ahead a few pages and saw a list of daily goals I set for my 18 weeks of preparation to prepare for the Sugarloaf Marathon. You can see in the pages that follow, I was taking those steps. Every day to the right of my to-do lists and notes, I would write down how many pushups, air squats, planks and crunches I did that day. It was all in an effort to get stronger and be better prepared to run a good race.


I had really good intentions in my preparation for the Sugarloaf Marathon. It didn’t go so well.

Flipping through my bullet journal last night, I saw that I started to slack off on that routine in February, gained a little momentum in March, then was in and out of it through May 27, when I struggled mightily at Sugarloaf.

After failing to meet my goal for Sugarloaf, I took a bit of a break from running, then decided to really dedicate myself to my fitness. On page 66 of my bullet journal, under the Monday, June 4 entry there is a note: Start “Rebuild. Redesign. Reclaim.” (I’m a little annoyed I messed that up, it’s supposed to read, “Redesign. Rebuild. Reclaim.”) My plan was to completely revamp my diet and my exercise routine to build myself into a fitter, stronger runner.

You guessed it: This didn’t last either.

There are a few notes on creative projects on the pages of that bullet journal as well. On Jan. 2 I asked myself if I should start a 365 photo project (I didn’t). On March 22 I took some notes about “photo assignments” a photography project on YouTube, that I thought would be fun project to try. I didn’t start that one, either.

In that same line of thinking though, I did start a photo sketchbook on April 30.

Screen Shot 2017-12-31 at 10.05.35 AM

That lasted a couple of weeks. I don’t even have those photo prints any more. I tossed them somewhere along the road.

One more unfinished project stood out as I flipped through that bullet journal. At the start of November I saw a post on Twitter from writer/musician Mishaka Shubaly about a writing challenge for November.

There is a folder on my hard drive of all the things I wrote in November. It’s a hodge podge of memoir, running blog posts, and a little bit of fiction.

I made it through 16 days before I ran out of steam and gave up.

Don’t worry, I’m not sitting here beating myself up for being a failure. Flipping through my bullet journal last night was an opportunity to explore my successes (there were plenty) and failures (plenty of those, too) in 2017.

It also gave me the opportunity to think about and try to figure out why I start so many things and don’t finish them. Spoiler alert: I don’t have the answers.

Obviously, with this website and this goal of making something every day for a year, I have started a pretty big project for myself. In the grand scheme of things, this is not important and if it fails, no harm done. Like I said, this is something I’m doing for fun.

But it is important. It is important to me for so many reasons, maybe most importantly to prove to myself that I have it in me to follow through on a goal and to finish a project. I want to know that I have the willpower and the dedication to find a way to get things done.

As I write this, I’m listening to Rich Roll interview ultra-athlete David Goggins. They are talking about Goggins beliefs on how to be successful and how to be better. This quote stood out to me and I think it is a perfectly good way to approach all my goals – creative goals, fitness goals, life goals – in 2018.

“If you want it you will find time in your life to do it. If you don’t want it you will continue to do what you are doing right now which is give me excuses … if you want it bad enough, you will figure out a way to make this shit happen.” — David Goggins

When the end of 2018 rolls around and I’m flipping through my bullet journal, I want to know I found time and didn’t make excuse. The ultimate goal in 2018 is to “make this shit happen.”