Year End Reflections: 5 Things I've Learned as a Toastmaster

In our family, we play dominos for holidays!! Or at least we just started with my mom's white elephant Christmas present. What can I say? Board games maybe old school, but its a way to take a break from all the digital fiasco!

Happy Holidays Everyone!!!

The time has come for us to get our travel plans and new years resolutions together for the new 2016. Still, we can't forget all that we've accomplished in 2015 alone. I enjoy taking a moment to reflect upon some of the goals that I was able to achieve and how I can build on some of that momentum in the new year.

This last year was definitely a rebuilding year for me --having entered into a new job, in a new industry of media advertising. It was an exciting opportunity for me to enter a new field, allowing me to tap into some new skill-sets that I did not realize having before. 

One of the many benefits of working for the media agency I work for now is that there is an incentive towards employee development programs, one of which being public speaking. As I said in earlier posts, the fear of something new and risky was something I tended to avoid, with the fear of failure being too great. But I soon learned that being to cautious was not good for self development --that I would often find myself in stale waters.

Speaking in front of others --or in some respects just speaking in general --was very scary to me; my heart would clench up and I would start to shake. But my time working with a start up made me realize that the greatest tool in this life was the ability to communicate and influence ideas. The only way to do that was to speak in front of people. When my company announced that they would be launching a Toastmaster's chapter exclusively for their employees, I jumped at the opportunity  even though every ounce of my being told me not to, still yet, I've come to the point where if something makes me nervous, I do it!!

Now, almost a year later I've completed 3 speeches of the 10 speech program and I couldn't feel more optimistic about the future!! I couldn't describe the rush of preparing for a speech and delivering them successfully. I remember the days leading up to each speech and how I was a nervous wreck --having to perform them in front of a room of people I don't even know. But I soon bought into the program so much that I volunteered to become the club president, believing in the value of public speaking towards your professional life and in so many ways, although I am still new to the program, I became a mentor for some of the newest members which was exciting for me.

As we approach the new year, the idea of developing myself as a writer and a public speaker is very exciting but also very nerve wracking. I am such a recluse and I tend to enjoy my thoughts and feelings to myself. To be in a position where I have a platform to share my voice is frightening because it requires me to become very vulnerable. But, with that uncertainty, my new perspective tells me to build the courage and keep going after it!

To finish off, I would like to share some items that I actually included in my most recent speech. The theme of the speech centered around an end-of-year theme.

5 Things I've Learned After My First Year in Toastmaster's:

1. Learn to relax within the moment:

A lot of the times, I get so nervous that I tend to rush through my speeches that my nervousness would just amplify beyond recognition. Learning to settle in and embrace the moment sounds counter-intuitive, but in the end, it is a great helps.

2. Prepare; know your stuff:

Confidence comes from what you know and knowledge is power. Constantly educate yourself on topics that interest you so that you can become an authority so that it may translates into your presentations. Also, you cannot fake preparation. People claim to work the best when they "wing it", but intelligent people can see through the smoke and mirrors. So if you want to speak about something that matters, prepare and know your stuff.

3. Make mistakes, they make you grow:

I am my own worst critic. Beating myself up and bringing down my confidence psychologically was my biggest set back from trying anything new and taking big risks. But having failed at a start up in spectacular fashion taught me that there is life after failure and that mistakes can be our biggest teacher. 

4. Smile!!!

Early on in Toastmaster's, I noticed that I would smile the widest when I would get nervous. Subconsciously, this would counteract my anxiety because smiling projects confidence and good energy towards others and in return they will smile back. So this would create a positive feedback loop that will just reinforce a better environment for your speech. So practice showing off those pearly whites.

5. Communication, it's only the driving force of civilization:

This final point is more of a broader observation with little hard evidence on my part, but I firmly believe that communication is why mankind is where it is today. Our ability as a species to communicate ideas and thoughts to one another has allowed us to thrive throughout the centuries. To forgo that skill is like refusing to learn to read or write --or to a greater extent walk and run. Speech is our evolutionary advantage as a human. Learn to develop it every now and then folks!

Finally, as part of all of your new years resolutions, think about the following: What are your daily items of practice? What are you trying to get better at every single day?

Let's make 2016 the next big step towards answering that.

Another Break, Another Chance to Get On the Wagon

So, it has been a bit of a break and I think I can safely say that I am struggling as a writer. Or at least in comparison to most working, professional writers

These last couple of months has been challenging because of the fact that I've experienced a good amount of changes. For one, a new job that has landed me back in the tech field. 

What can I say? I missed it. 

The idea of working in technology really excites me and it lends itself well to my ambitions of being a science fiction writer. I know it sounds unconventional, but an IT professional trying to be a creative writer sounds like a mismatch. Or is it?

As far as I am concerned, tech people can be the most creative minds you will ever meet. And I believe it is an interesting space to be in with the way our society and civilization is heading. 

So how does that lead to writing?

I'm not quite sure, but I'm also not trying to make sense of it now. The only thing I'm committed to is the words on the page. That's plenty of enough reasoning for me to say that I am not the path.

I am gearing up for my next written project by working on a treatment for another screenplay. You're only as good as your next project right? It has been a challenge with the transition and all, but I've faced stiffer challenges before as was still able to produce.

So here is to the next couple of months of pain and sweat. 


My Own Small Town Perception

As I sit in a coffee shop in Puyallup, Washington--a suburb right outside of Seattle--I grow an appreciation for the small town life. The sense of community-- not being afraid to speak to the people around you--I think I've lost that atmosphere with my time in LA.

Now, I'm no stranger to the suburbs outside of a major city. I grew up in a small desert town of Palmdale, California--inside the heart of the Mojave desert. Though it was set within the boundaries of LA county, it was very much a suburban city with its pockets of rural bliss. A major city still felt very much foreign to me.

Though I lived in Los Angeles close to ten years now, I still call my small town community home. I guess I find my peace whenever I visit my home town. My perspective on the world derives from my upbringing, the way that i looked at the world and how everything can fit within it.

Yes, at times, it became sheltering--living in the middle of nowhere has a tendency to block out what's really going on in the world outside. Those who have never left the farm--I coin these people "lifers"-- remain in a sort-of perpetual arrested development, stunted in their growth for never wanting anything more out of life.

However, that observation--really an assumption on my part--was really an over-generalization. Who am I to say that people in rural/suburban communities are living any less of a life than me? I chose to move out of my small town for the big city because that was what I valued, but that doesn't mean I should hold everyone else to that same standard.

So my metropolitan arrogance slowly dissipates when I take this moment; I embrace the town from nowhere. The smell of ground roasted coffee and the knick-knacks that decor the walls gives me peace--a chance to step back and reflect.

I am trying to become an observer--someone who can listen and soak life in. My writing suffers from lack of detail and it is a shame because I feel that the details are all that's left in my memories.

As I explore a new depth to writing, the focus on the here-and-now becomes prevalent. To seek a three dimensional space with my words and to provide a richness in description that I hope will enhance your reading experience.

I'll be back in LA soon and will get back at it at the coffee shop.

Thank you and we will chat soon.


Podcasting: A New Media Revolution

You are probably wondering, "why the pictures?" 

To put it simply, I decided to practice some photography with the hopes that it can stoke my creativity towards writing. The photos above were taken with my Galaxy S5 and I guess after all this I realized that I'm fascinated with black and whites. Here are some images that I took during my trip in Seattle and I hope to get better --perhaps start learning to enhance the pictures through photoshop. 

With that said, I am back in LA with my well refilled and a fresh attitude towards taking on life by storm!

So, in order for me to find time to write, I have to keep a pretty regimented schedule for myself. With a forty hour per week, 9-5er, finding the time needed inside that magic hour of inspiration is a rarity in itself.

Twenty-four hours in a day is really not a lot of time to get that quality writing in. Most of the time I'm grumpy and distracted with the idea that I haven't had the time to get my quota --and with creative projects that I have set as benchmarks for myself, I really feel the clock ticking.

So how do I balance it all?

I've been trying to learn from the many who have walked before me --those who are still very much walking the same tumultuous journey.

One thing that really has kept me on course has been podcasting. Several podcasts featuring talented writers of all disciplines, from Scriptnotes, Nerds Writers Podcast, Children of Tendu, have allowed me to connect to the creative community of screenwriters by way of new media.

The Writer Files has an interesting setup in how they were agnostic in terms of the type of writing and are focused towards "keeping the ink flowing" and how the featured writers maintain a productive work flow.

These ides and practices become important to any new writer such as myself. The journey has become such an isolated process that finding any pearls of wisdom is like spring water from a desert oasis. Most of the times the advice becomes universal: to keep on writing. The key to creativity is to get out of your own way and allow yourself to imagine without inhibition or self-doubt.

If you are a fellow writer such as myself, check out anyone of these podcasts and maybe suggest some my way. I am always looking for new sources of inspiration.

Take care and I'll be talking to you all soon.


Mirrors: A First Take On the Man Inside

My no surprise to anyone, I will admit that I have my own set of problems.
Why am I saying this?
Because the first rule to growth is to become bare with yourself. Change and improvement cannot happen with constant denial or hiding from the issue. So I take a look into the mirror and really take a deep assessment to find out what's going wrong.
Some would say that I am a bit of an emotional person, but not in terms of an overly sensitive "thinned-skinned" sort of personality. I would say that I have a bit of a temper problem--an inability to just let things go.
Now, I have to take a step back and explain that I am a even keeled, rational person that, say, doesn't fly off the handle when getting cut-off on the road--hell, I rarely honk the car horn.
I have a public persona that appears friendly, social, and calm in almost any public environment.
But that's not what I'm talking about. We all walk among each other with two very distinct notions of who we are; the mask that we put on for our day jobs. It is in my private moments when I tend to let my inner self rise to the surface.
I can't help but bring pain to the ones I love and it is not my intention to do so. It is as if I present my best version of myself to the entire world and at the end of the day -- out of sheer exhaustion -- I only offer the scraps of myself to those who truly deserve more.
And why is that? If I had the answer I'd definitely wouldn't be writing this now. Done, sealed, bring me the check and call it a day. So what gives?
The best answer I can offer right now is that I harbor ill feelings towards an invisible advesary. What I mean is that I hold tension within my spirit, this attitude about life that cannot be expressed in any other way besides pent up aggression.
I'm no scientist, but pressure that does not find release or escape can only build to the point of combustion. What you have now is something that is not so subtle and can cause damage to anything, or anyone, standing nearby.
This aggressive resentment has shown to be quite combustible towards my closest relationships. And when you add the extremely flammable elixir of alcohol, it becomes dangerous.
So there, in front of the entire Web--or at least to those who can read this message--I'm freely acknowledging that I have anger management issues. It is why I am so keen on finding avenues towards happiness and expression--and it is especially why I have found my calling towards writing.
This isn't as much of a hobby or passion as it is an effing prescription for myself. These pages and blank screens are the wet stone to sharpen the blade and release the tension between my bones. It is why I keep coming back to this page after sometime away. I know I take many of them along this journey but I know that I have to make the effort, or lose myself along the way.
I only hope that you will be there to listen.
Now that I have found my new vigor, I hope to be coming back soon. Take care friend and I'll be chatting with you soon.

One Down: The Effect of Accomplishment

I did it guys! I made it to the end!

I am proud to say that I have finished my first motion picture screenplay. What does that mean? It means that I am cable of setting a goal for myself -- that I am capable of creating a mission for myself and set out to pursue it.

Long roads are surely started with a single step. I have made a series of questionable choices in my life, but to pursue a dream has left me with little doubt in my mind.

And now the even bigger question: what is next? My plan is to not let my foot off the gas pedal. I plan to continue to focus and refine my medium -- to develop my imagination so that I can easily translate it into story ideas and concepts.

As much as I would be happy to just bask in victory, I know all to well that the journey is far from over. Many writing friends have already told me that the rewrite will be just as daunting; I am already experiencing this on another project that I have developed in the past.

No matter the challenge, I just have to stay conscious of the ultimate goal and understand that this is a process -- filled with ups and more probable downs. Although failure and criticism does scare the shit out of me, I can't rest until I see a vision realized.

We are all born with some sort of purpose and if we take the time to listen to what your inner voice is speaking, then you will find the thread to bring you into the light.

Thanks for sticking with me on my rants. Perhaps, one day, I will share more of my work -- that is, as soon as I build up the courage.


Side note, the photo may seem random but I want to start dabbling in my own photography. In previous posts, I think I was infringing on owned content; so for that, I apologize. 

All By Design

I am a writer.

I haven't always accepted that fact -- in fact looking for more ways to dismiss the very thought. And though it would account for the greatest challenge of my life, it has also become the medium that saved me.

Just before I decided to make the jump into uncertainty, I went out and earned a Master's degree.This was an incredible challange because it required me to attend school while holding a fulltime job. If there was ever a time where my grit and tenacity was needed to get me through an obstacle, it was then.

Although I complaned and dreaded the work everyday, I was subconsciously building on my craft. Its amazing to me how years of toiling and struggling with an online business degree would develope the habits and traits necessary to stay a productive writer. To this day I dread putting words to the page, but I don't let it control me. It's a part of the process and I learned how to grind past it. 

Beginning my journey with an online MBA --while working full time at an IT help desk -- instilled an ability of putting in the long hours. My days were hectic and my nights were a sruggle to stay focused on school tasks and writing assignments. I definitely learned the value of the local coffee shop. 

And I hated it!!! I couldn't stand sitting in front of a desk for 9 hours holding a day job, to then head over to Panera Bread to log in a couple more hours with business theory and case assignments. But as hard as it was, it became a learning experience that l've applied for the rest of my life. I essentially learned how to become my own boss. 

With no physical teacher, classmates, and classroom to keep me on track, I had to be the one to oversee my own progress. I realize now that self-management is a trait that a lot of people do not posses, especially when it comes to the creative arena. 

All my life I never saw mself as particularly intelligent, talented, or naturally gifted at anything. However, what I do naturally posses is the ability to out work anyone, especially if I set my mind to it. If there is something I want to learn to do, I go out and do it. I guess it's my obsessive personality, that I can let something burn inside my head and that I cannot let die until I see it realized. My nature is to see it done, despite the odds. 

In Steven Pressfield's War of Art, he explains that one of the most common causes of failures among artists and writers is the inability to stay committed, and that life's challenges derive from a single unseen force, in which the book has coined as "resistance." 

What I learned in the relative short amount of time that I have started this writer's path is that enduring the suck and staying committed to your goals may be the sole ingredient to success. I thought that I would quit long before I finished my graduate degree, but I kept plugging away. The amount of work involved made the finish line seem almost impossible at times; I almost gave up before I began. But something kept me going. Perhaps it was the shame involved with throwing in the towel, that no amount of hard work could possibly feel worse than saying the words, "I quit."

And I am still taking swings at it. So something must be working. 

Below is a piece that I wrote that has no relevance to what I spoke about. But please feel free to indulge.

Take care and stay resilient my friends.

A single consciousness, 
void of religion, race, gender, or creed, 
filling the in between of space and time.

Eyes are but looking glasses.
Through them, I receive it's colors.
 To know that I am is a wonderful thing.

No days, no moments, no years. 
I listen to the messages in the wind,
thinking that my own self is a single agent
part of a larger whole. 

Short Story Part VI: Freedom

Without further ado, the conclusion of my short story with no title as of yet. I hope that I can use this story as a launching point into a larger world that I am already creating in my mind. 

The hardest part for me with completing the story was really how is it supposed to end. I knew where I wanted to end up, but the question is always how to get there. 

Stay tune for future posts as I continue to develop and create my body of work. And if you want to catch up on past installments of this short, click below.

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V

Part VI
The stack of bills sat like untouched diamonds buried within a hellish under belly. They stared into me, unrealized of the surrounding reality. I can’t imagine the amount of blood that has been spilled for every single one to find their way into this black duffel bag. I’m the hunted now and there is no returning to what I once knew. The 9mm made sure of that.
Slinging the bag across my back and tucking the pistol behind my waistband, I exited up the cellar stairs, into the unknown. A black SUV, tinted windows, is already waiting to carry Angela and I into a new beginning. The dirt and mud across the tire treads made me think of other runs that truck may have done in the past. Hopefully, they were lucky.
To make this as quickly as possible, I left our two luggage cases at the cellar opening; we weren't going to need the Jeep any more. I did a quick scan to see if Angela made her way down the stairs yet.
The driver side window rolled down. I wait for my guy to say something, but all I could hear are the surrounding trees.
I get impatient, “Hello would be a nice start? Could you have parked any God damn farther?! Give me a couple. I’m waiting on Angela.” Nothing. The silence was thick and the dark SUV sat there and watched.
Grabbing the two luggage cases I left by the cellar door, I make my way towards the dark SUV. I barely make out the silhouette of the driver, but the closer I get the colder the air becomes. Then I see my guy, but he doesn't look right. Tense and grim, an expression like stone. 
I don't feel betrayed when the bullet flies through the windshield. I'm not even mad when the interior of the glass is suddenly painted red and a bloody head leans out the driver side window. It all happens so quickly before I realized that it was all over before it began. 
I drop the bags and make for my pistol, just before the back doors opens. This was all on me and I need to make this as tough for those bastards that are after me. 
Then I see her black hair, without as much as a struggle, stepping outside the back seat of the SUV, accompanied by two large thugs in black. Angela’s eyes look beautiful and terrified, staring back at me with all the questions in the world and me with no answer but cold steel in my hands. I can't focus. How could I have let this happen?
A man, wearing a sharp Armani suit, exits the passenger side door. Sebastian Nikolov, friend from the past and as ruthless as he is brilliant. He is going to make certain that this will end on his terms and I am well past redemption.
“You gave us a bit of a slip, but in time, a rat always leaves a long enough trail of filth behind,” Sebastian taunted.
My voice cracked, “I made a bad call, I was only trying to start fresh.”
“And so you make a move for my cargo payment? You thought this out carefully,” Sebastian walks over to Angela, as he withdraws a pistol from behind his breast pocket. “You know how much I do not enjoy these exchanges, so I will ask for what you know is mine only once.”
I've seen too many of these so-called  “exchanges” to know all too well that someone on my side has no negotiating power. My leverage is gone and he has everything before I even give up the bag. Without a word, I drop the bag and swing it towards the nearest goon. 
“I can’t have you acting brash once we let your lovely lady go,” Sebastian noted.
The gun by my side is useless from the point I killed the runner -- nothing more than an image of all the mistakes I’ve made. I toss it at their feet and Sebastian nods in confirmation. 
“I’ve always respected you as an equal, Doc. Your services to me have been invaluable and I will forever be in your debt. Therefore, take this gesture of allowing your freedom as my humblest gratitude.” Sebastian motions and his men return to the truck.
Tears in her eyes, Angela makes the long walk back to me, back to where she belongs. Back to her home, or wherever we will make it. Back to the happiness that we once remembered -- real and frail in the chaos of a world. I smile at her, letting her know its all right. She smiles back at me, assuring me that she is strong for me, through everything; I will forever be grateful to her for it.
Then a gunshot echoes in the darkness and time stood still. I put my hands to my own chest; I couldn’t feel a thing. Maybe the bullet passed a vital nerve. Maybe I was dead already. Then I see blood soaking through a shirt atop of a belly that is not my own. A belly that cradles the small, fragile body that was to be my son. Angela still stays strong as her body fell to the dirt.
The world goes dark and all sense of existence leaves my body; I see her lie helplessly. I hold her in my arms, unsure of time and space. She looks up to me, with an assurance that everything will be okay.
“Stay with me,” I said.
“I see you now, David. Don’t let this...take a hold of you” The color from her lips begins to fade; she's drifting into darkness. In an instant, we're no longer against the earth, but an abandoned space of bright light. The realization is unlike any feeling that I have ever experienced on earth.
Bathed in the light, Angela smiles, "Your time to reveal yourself to the world will come.” A small boy, from long ago, deep in a memory, appears behind Angela. Those same eyes, with the innocence of a promised tomorrow, looks up at me. Angela places her hands around the young boys shoulders. I touch his head; the same black hair nestled between my fingertips.
Then in an instant, they're gone with nothing but my blood soaked hands. Angela's body lay in peace and I weep with a sudden burst of pain.  I knelt there, left behind to bask in my newly bestowed freedom.

Short Story Part V: The Call

I am happy to share my next installment of my running short story below. This has taken me some time to develop and put together and I can already say that I have felt some progress along the way.

What I have found interesting of the process of uploading my story bit-by-bit is that it has allowed me to revisit the world and give it some fresh air. Allowing myself to grow as a writer, giving myself time to leave a project and let the details settle in your mind--marinating on the world and characters that you created.

I get excited when I am able to give a new perspective on details that I couldn't see from the first draft. Believing in the process and trusting in the journey really becomes key to producing content and finding that unique voice--something that becomes crucial to achieving success.

Blogging my process has also been an interesting experience due to the opportunity of providing running commentary to every bit of the story. The platform to reflect on the choices I made and articulate some of the challenges I had to overcome has been valuable for me and perhaps helpful for you.

The installment below is really about overcoming dialogue and how to translate needed info without becoming overwrought with cringe-worthy exposition.

My greatest obstacle has been crafting real and authentic dialogue. Less is more really becomes the trick, trusting that your reader will put the pieces together.

It's all in the subtext. Human's are never honest. 

Let's hope I handled it well below.

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

Part V

It was just past 3 AM when my cell phone rang.

“You running late?” I answered. 

It cracked on the other end, “They've been eyeing me. They already thinking that I'd get to you.”

“Well what's the play? Three days and no movement. Not good."

“I’m up the trail.”

I saw the headlights casting an ominous glow across the forest landscape; a beacon of hope in the uncertain darkness. 

“Pull up around back," I said.

Angela was groggy and dazed as she entered the kitchen. 

“What is it?” Angela whispered half cognoscente.

“Just get your coat on.” I'm starting to feel my pulse race.

“Did he just show up?”

“Yes, that’s why we’re leaving. Wait for me in the living room. I have to go to the cellar for one last thing.  

“Oh," Angela is disappointed. 

“You knew what this was going to be. Quick and sudden.”

“Yes, I know but...why now?”

"I just told you. He called fifteen minutes ago.”

“He’s three fucking days late and he just now show’s up, in the middle of the night. What has he been doing this whole time? ”

“Look, the guy's that are after us, they watch every angle. Every freeway, every bus, every airport. When they're after somebody for fifty large, anyone who knows us is a bargaining chip. My boy is risking his neck for us."

Angela ' s eyes well up with tears again. But before I let her say anything. 

"I’m leaving your shoes and coat here when you’re ready. I have to go down stairs.”

I grab my jacket and run out the back door.

Circle of Safety

I read somewhere that the key to victory is a strong team. Not the ambition to search for riches, or the hunger to receive glory. It is not in the halls of fame that tell us how these heroes sacrificed --their blood, sweat, and tears spent for the job at hand.

Taking a risk and seeing failure on the other end is a big obstacle to survive. Most of your time is spent understanding why you let yourself do it in the first place. The people around you offer their sweet condolences --thinking that they are being kind and constructive. But no matter the intention, it becomes a session of fear and doubt, a moment to really cower in self stupidity. "How did I let this happen to myself??"

Though I feel exposed as an individual that has no thread of common sense, I do not let that tangle me. I have felt a part of myself harden because of my set-back, a part of my psyche that used to allow things to just happen to me. The wisdom that I have been blessed to carry far outweigh any benefits of "playing it safe" would have gotten me. 

I have a degree in both Film Production and Business Administration. Two college degrees should be accolades that one should be able to tote around any place and get what is need in life; no questions asked. 

That is a fool's errand --to think that by wearing your achievements as titles on your chest makes you deserving of success and wealth. If anything, being a college graduate is only the beginning of your true education; the pursuit for knowledge only begins with a strong foundation. 

The real show is after you walk the stage. 

And in my first forray into the real world, I decide to roll the dice on a business start up. I was excited and full of hope, excited for the moment when I can take charge of my life and tell my own story. This was my time for me to take what I believed was mine. 

I don't know if anyone has ever told you about starting a business, but its really....A LOT OF HARD WORK!!!

The saying "its not a sprint, its a marathon," really could not encapsulate the feeling of being at the helm of a small company. I've had jobs before, but in no way was I able to work as hard as I did when I was working on a start up. And what's worse than working for a start-up, is working for one that is dreadfully disorganized. That is a pain party that will crush you if you're not ready for it. 

I leave the details of what I experienced and how I learned from them in future posts. Otherwise, you'll be reading for another ten hours! The best lesson I learned from it is the power of having a strong team at your core, and how the bonds of trust will let anyone who is outnumbered survive. A circle of safety is real, once you find it. 

Be humble to those around you and work to cooperate with one another. Having a common goal is a powerful motivator that gets anyone through the desert valley. 

Crowded Living Rooms

Life without any sort of reflection can become lacking in the possible rewards of wisdom. Why do we do what we do?

As I reassert my efforts into this new year, I try to stay focused and aware of the pitfalls that have plagued my past. A constant barrage of self-doubt and apathy towards presented situations caused me to under-perform during a good portion of my life. I became the weekend warrior, without a care for striving for the best-version-of-myself.

The minimum was just fine for me and I didn't look to create any static about it. I had the comfy office job and the roof over my head and the car payments to satisfy any average materialistic notion of what constitutes happiness. But I soon became weary of it all--realizing that any motivation I had for getting out of bed every morning was beginning to fade. I needed to prioritize my values and look into myself to discover what made me my authentic self.

In my heart of hearts, I am a writer, or better yet, I am a storyteller. All my life I had a vivid imagination that often times would run away from me--almost to the point where others would classify me as strange. I knew that my role as an adult existed somewhere between the creative arts and the fact that I isolated that part of myself from my everyday practice began to deteriorate me to my very core. I knew I needed to give myself a shot, or die trying.

It is with that goal in mind that I made the tough and a bit reckless decision to leave my job to pursue a path that produces far more rejection stories than successful ones. The decision to leave a nest of security for a creative project that was underdeveloped and poorly managed would be my first test of real life rejection and failure. In no less than a month of taking a gamble, I was already a loser in the biggest way possible.

There is something to be said when one can find strength when faced with trial and adversity. After my failed business startup experience, I sank into the deepest pits of self-doubt and depression. By this point I had never experienced true hardship in my own life. I do not wish to project this perception of myself that says that I survived real life tragedy -- there are people out there that are surviving much worse -- but I cannot help but feel a sense of growth after hitting my own sort of rock bottom. My life truly changed once I understood that in order to rebuild the strongest of foundations, you must meet the dirt, mud, and earth head on.

Perhaps when enough time and perspective has passed -- and I have grown a bit wiser from my past mistakes -- I will better articulate my lessons, in the hopes that I can share for the benefit of others.

Until then, I'm still searching.

Stay vigilant, my friends. It will all make sense in time.

Crowded Living Rooms

Haven't slept much, 
feeling how much a warm bed is a luxury. 

Nights in crowded living rooms. 

Mornings in empty cafes. 

The journey for change is 
an incredibly lonely process. 

Too much time to think about all 
the wrong turns. 

Like living in a glass bubble, 
unable to touch anything that resembles
a former life. 

Short Story Part IV: Reflection

As part of my continued effort to share my writer's journey, as well as build my platform for my own published works, I will share with you now my next installment of my short story currently untitled.

As I said when I first began posting this series is that this story would be a launching pad for a possible on screen adaptation that I am currently developing and perhaps act as a background story to one of the key characters.

Your feedback is appreciated (though please treat with gentle gloves, as I don't have it as polished as I would have liked). I understand that this is all part of my overall evolution and that this by no means is the endpoint to where I currently am.

I humbly say that I am still working at it! Enjoy!

Part IV: Reflection

Even up here I look for some time away. With a pen in my hand, it wasn’t too hard to find that place. I sat in the dining room finishing a sketching of sunrise. It was of the lake house. It looks like a dance across the water. Angela knows how I need the time. Kept me from unraveling.

It could very well be past three in the morning when I first hear it. The sound feels distant but I know it wasn't far. The bourbon must still be feeling fresh.

I put my scrapbook away when I hear it knocking again. Its soft, just barely. Probably wouldn't have heard it otherwise. Maybe I was waiting for it.

I turn towards the hallway, down the living room. The knocking is just above a whisper, just above... the silence.

A familiar ice-cold chill runs up my spine as I come upon the double doors, same heart beat ringing in my ears. I slide the doors open to reveal an empty room bathed in the moonlight outside. I switch a nearby table lamp to see the room just the same. Fuck me, I need to stop letting my mind wander. The drapes in front of an open window rustle against my uncle’s old liquor cabinet. It beckons to me.

Grabbing a bottle of Kentucky Bourbon, I begin to pour myself a glass. One more for the sandman. I savor the whiskey with my eyes closed, thinking of where I am and how things would be okay. It’s been close to a week and no contact from my guy.

“Leave us.”

I freeze. That voice. I was nine years old again.

“You need to leave,” it whispers.

In the reflection of the liquor cabinet mirror, I see him. A small child, frail and weak with hollow eyes, standing in the main doorway. I can't move and I don't dare speak. Through the dirt and rust of the cabinet mirror I recognize those same eyes off the mirror reflection, so many years ago.

“Please go now.”

My mouth, tense and dry, begins to speak, “Why?”

“You don’t have much time.”

“Who…are you?”

In a cold trance, I suddenly turn around. I'm staring at the living room doorway, empty.

“Fuck me,” I said.

In a cold sweat, I put the bottle away and close the cabinet door.


Happy New Years!

First and foremost I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year! I know this is late but it is still the first week.
I can't express to you all how happy I am to reach a new chapter in all of our lives and that another year is in the books. I am sure there are a mixed bag of emotions of how we all may feel about the last year (I for one have had my ups and downs) but I would encourage everyone to look forward with a sense of optimism.
I have never been the jovial, New Year-crazed type of individual that gets excited over new years resolutions. I tended to believe New Years was an excuse to party and that most resolutions are forgotten within the first 3 months. But I'm starting this year off with a new sense of opportunity for myself and for those I care about.  Last year was the year for tremendous growth. 2015 will be the year that the fruits of my sow will be realized.
I know for the most part, my aspirations for this year is to make serious strides towards my goals as a screenwriter, one of which being my first screenplay with my writing partner. We've made good progress drafting pages at the end of last year,  but the true challenge is ahead of us with the meat and bones of the story yet to be explored.
I also have desires to get back into community service, developing my own production business,  enjoy camping,  and get back into stage performing.  These are all projects that may encompasses a larger portion of a few years, but I hope that this first quarter of the year will be the beginning of those journeys. 
And finally,  the continued development of my first blog. I have taken a number of hiatus breaks from this site, but I am still committed to seeing that this page succeeds, even if it just becomes a simple blog. I want to share my thoughts and visions and ideas to the world, even if it is just a tiny space in the infinite digital chasm.