Friday, January 3, 2014

2013: A Year of Transition

2013 felt like Jesse Pinkman in Season 3 of “Breaking Bad”. You finally shake some demons and step up to be the person you need to be.  It started on a cold January day running a 1-mile loop in my neighborhood and it ended with me driving home from a game on December 30 in my new car.

In between there, I lost 30-35 lbs, started a sports blog, added another job, challenged myself to think even more critical. I learned more about discipline and patience through running than I did before. In total, I ran 370 miles and some change, which still blows my mind.

Losing weight was one of the hardest things I’ve done and for 3-4 months, I sacrificed fast food, late night eating and devoted myself to night workouts.  When the summer came, I realized how much different I looked. Clothes fit better, energy was stronger and I was more motivated to write and think.

November, I added something different to the workouts. Planks. It’s as hard as the burpees, jumping jacks, squats but over the last two months, I’ve loved the challenge. It’s invigorated me just like when I started running and I couldn’t be happier in the pain.

I got some great advice at the annual NABJ conference on being better at being myself instead of just focusing on my craft. If anything I think that’s applicable to everything – be good at what you do but be better at being confident and aware of who you are. I’ve spent the last seven years trying to be a great writer and lately I want to be great at knowing myself so I can express myself and what I see.

When I read a collection of Ralph Wiley’s work this fall, I didn’t feel inspired by it. That sounds crazy but instead he motivated me by what I realized. Wiley’s wisdom and command of language was a gift he had to work at every day. His greatness was forged in the small stories - the recaps, the Oakland columns - and his insight was built through experience, not just knowledge. 

That’s what motivated me the most. Not to write like him, but trusting my experiences to make me better. Trusting folks with keen wisdom and not wanting to be like them, but dive deeper into my world so I can better understand it and that will make me a better writer/observer/witness. Not just practicing grammar, expanding my vocabulary and paragraph structure - learning to see with my mind and my eyes instead of think.  

I also took advantage of technology and dug deeper into older albums while binge watching several shows to catch up. While “Girls” was a miss, I feel a whole lot better having seen “Game of Thrones” and “Breaking Bad” and appreciating their greatness. It also gives me motivation to finally try to watch “The Wire”.

The biggest risk was starting a sports blog because it felt like I was splitting my brain in two. Everything had always been in one place and I worried about splitting up my audience. But it was a great success and I look forward to writing more when I can.

Of course, that will happen when time permits. I've been happy with my job at the Daily Breeze and I've had a great opportunity writing more about high school sports. I've been blessed to do features as well as game recaps and being able to be part of a newspaper again is a wonderful feeling.  I also love writing for Bro Jackson, where I'm surrounded by some of the best writers/editors around who challenge me to let loose and just write more free and less formal.

This picture sums up 2013 for me. It was taken after a late run at the beach. I'm happier than I've been in years, I'm slimmer, I'm enjoying good music and I persevered to finish my goal that day.
2013 was about shutting off fear and walking into the unknown. As I continue this last year of my 20’s, I pray that I continue walking into even better things. Some of my goals include finding another job, losing more weight and trying to restart my old habit of poetry.

So like Jesse’s final scene of Season 3, I’m squeezing the trigger and waiting to see what happens next. My chemistry has been tweaked and I'm comfortable in this glorious evolution. You can’t stay what you used to be. You have to grow. I have to keep taking risks and 2014 will continue to see changes unfold.

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