FreeWrite: My cooking style, repertoire

I’ve learned to cook a number of Caribbean-inspired foods and dishes. That’s one thing that I never thought I’d be typing 10 years ago.

This morning, for example, I fried yellow plantains for breakfast. Added some fresh cherries on the side with hot, black coffee, and there you have it. A perfect breakfast.

Believe me, it hasn’t been easy. The learning curve has not been quick. I’m still over-cooking my plantains. But I think progress is being made.

My cooking style is a lot of trial and error. It usually takes me at least three or four times to make something to my liking. My first-time dishes have occasionally been disastrous.

This isn’t a Caribbean dish, but I had the idea of making homemade spinach pesto pasta one day. After watching a couple YouTube videos, I threw some lightly steamed spinach and garlic in a blender with cashews (I didn’t have pine nuts), olive oil, fresh-squeezed lemon juice and freshly-grated parmesan cheese.

As usual, I didn’t measure the ingredients and didn’t follow a particular recipe. In most cases, I can adjust things to taste. But the result in this case was far too nutty to resemble pesto, albeit a spinach pesto.

As you could expect, my kids didn’t each much that night.

I’m sure my spinach pesto pasta would be MUCH better a second time. I just haven’t tried making again because I don’t think anyone will give it a try now.

I realize I began this entry talking about how I generally cook Caribbean dishes. I seem to have gotten sidetracked (as usual), but it’s generally my go-to.

When I have some time to cook, I make stew chicken, curry chicken (although I’m far from an expert on this—curry is tricky) and baked salmon.

When I have less time, I’ll make tin mackerel, sardines or simply spaghetti.

My cooking repertoire isn’t extensive by any means, but it’s certainly enough to get the job done most of the time. More importantly, I have a good base of fundamentals which makes cooking enjoyable.

FreeWrite: If I could travel anywhere…

Hypothetically, of course, if I could travel anywhere, it’d probably would be inside the practice facility of an NBA team. Just be a fly on the wall, understand how things operate.

I know, I’m probably letting you down by not saying somewhere exotic like the moon, the bottom of the ocean, the top of Mt. Everest, or the Year 2099.

The fact is, all of those places (and times) would be dope, and I could think of about 100 more that would be interesting as well.

But let’s be real. Witnessing what happens behind closed doors within an NBA facility would be fascinating.

Not only would I get to learn about the social dynamics of that particular team, I’d get to learn more about how elite basketball players train. How they prepare their mind and body every day.

I think that knowledge would directly benefit me as well. No, I don’t have aspirations of playing basketball at a high level, but as an athlete, I’m endlessly fascinated by other athletes.

Getting an unfiltered look into the inner workings of an NBA team would provide me with a concentrated dose of knowledge. Just what I’d need to level up.

Training Log: An Introduction

I’m writing this here in hopes that the public information will result in some personal accountability.

Over the past year, I’ve gone weeks, sometimes months, without training.

To be clear, I’m not talking about stretching, at-home exercises, visualization or studying various physical disciplines. By training, I’m specifically referring to early morning, outdoor training.

It’s been a goal of mine to become consistent with my training. To become disciplined and start each day off right.

For years, I’ve failed miserably. So I’m taking to the blog to share my journey with you.

Today, I woke up to my alarm at 5 a.m. It wasn’t too painful, but rising before the sun makes you want to hit the sack again.

I should add that I had gotten several good nights of sleep and wasn’t dead tired when I went to bed.

I was out the door by 5:35 a.m. just as the sun began to illuminate the earth. At this point, I was excited because I knew the next hour belonged to me.

In years past, I would have jogged to my training spot. But recently, I’ve begun to walk. Maybe I’m slowing down. But I personally think I began to walk because I was beginning to despise my training.

Early in the morning, my body needs to slowly warm up. Running straight away is jarring, both mentally and physically.

I’m trying to take better care of myself. Not tear myself down (which I’ve done numerous times in the past by the way).

When I finally get to the park, I’m usually in a pretty good mind-frame.

I begin with jump rope and progress to dynamic stretching. Then it varies a lot depending on how my body feels.

Often, since I spend most of my day sitting, I transition to movements that elongate and stretch my spine. Like twisting shuffles (sorry if not the correct terminology), monkey bars or bar swings. I also like static bar holds with short, quick dips.

I might then move to the ground and get my hands and wrists going. Ground kongs, crab walks and quadrupedal movement are some of my favorites.

I’ll also include leaps off one and two legs. Skips as well. Hopefully, that will keep my knees strong.

As you can see, nothing fancy. I just try to incorporate basic movements so my body can feel light and strong.

Eventually, I’ll work up a nice sweat. Start to finish, training usually lasts 30-40 minutes. That’s usually enough to get me feeling good and ready to go.

Stay tuned for more updates!

Being a constant student and teacher

You often hear stories of how people work hard, overcome obstacles and eventually achieve mastery at something.

But having achieved mastery implies that you’ve learned everything about a particular subject or discipline.

By that definition, true mastery can never be achieved. There’s always more to learn.

I could guarantee you that LeBron doesn’t think he’s mastered the game of basketball. I know Tom Brady believes there are still ways he can improve as a football player.

The “greats” embrace the process of becoming great.

They know they can’t know it all. They believe that anyone (including kids and novices) can teach them something.

They believe in helping others and passing on their knowledge. Teaching actually improves the teacher’s understanding of a subject.

This is the process of becoming great. It sounds corny, but it’s true: Becoming great is all about the process.

Offseason training

Just as the best players use the offseason to work on their game, I do the same thing as a basketball writer and editor.

The prevailing theme around this time of the year is that things are slow. It’s a good time for a vacation. That sort of vibe.

But I believe this is the BEST time to go hard and get better. This offseason, I’ve been using some of my spare time to break down all kinds of stats from last season. Continuing to study the game.

On the job, I create challenges for myself. Pushing myself to uncover the big story that hasn’t been aggregated (while following the new protocol–word to Windy).

I’ve also been watching the WNBA more than any previous summer. If you consider yourself a fan of basketball, I don’t know why you wouldn’t be watch high-level competition. The league is full of most elite players in the world. I mean, c’mon now…

I challenge myself by taking on extra work. Staying up late and waking up early if need be.

I’m continually working on my discipline and getting my mind and body right so I can perform at the highest level.

But most of all, I’m dedicating myself to writing on a daily basis. Once and for all, I’m committing to keeping this skill super sharp.

What can you provide?

Today, you hear a lot of brand marketers asking the question, “What problem do you solve?”

It’s a question that works for a lot of people, getting them to focus more on what they do.

Fair enough. When I was in college, staring my impending graduation in the face, I asked myself a similar, but perhaps a more powerful question:

What can I provide others?

Asking myself this question made me think about my passions and figure out ways of channeling it into a service.

For instance, back in college, I was a big NBA fan (obviously still am). From years of playing fantasy basketball, watching games on TV and playing pick-up, I already had a bette-than-basic understanding of the game.

So I brainstormed different ways to provide a service to basketball fans.

Having no budget, but the good fortune of high-speed internet (my university boasted some of the fastest connection speeds in the country at the time), I found a way to stream live NBA games on my computer, upload the most dramatic/interesting moments to YouTube and use social media to share the content.

All of this was happening just as YouTube and Twitter were poised to take off. The NBA too, for that matter.

It was an immediate hit. I made a name for myself in the basketball community and NBA video clips still dominate our newsfeeds over 10 years later.

The key was to focus on what I was uniquely capable of providing. There may not be a path laid out already. That’s fine. The beauty lies in creating your own way. Using your willpower to forge a new path.