FreeWrite: The end to writer’s block

Writer’s block is a real thing. I’ve experienced it in various degrees over the years.

By its common definition, a writer struggles to record anything. This could be for a variety reasons. For me, the vision of what I wanted wasn’t matching what was appearing on the page.

This was problematic in several ways. First, a writer should never start writing with a preconceived notion of the result. Sure, she can follow an outline, but the writer should capture words and ideas as they flow freely in thought.

Secondly, if a writer doesn’t practice this—writing without expectation or judgement—each day, then the task of writing becomes daunting.

As in any endeavor, dedicated time is required for sharpening and honing ones skills.

I’ve made it a goal to devote 15 minutes a day to freewrite. Most of the entries will appear here on the blog like this one. Some, I may deem unfit for public consumption.

Of course, that ties back to my first point: The writer is merely the vessel through which words and ideas are recorded.

The result may not be up to standard. But that’s no fault of the writer who dedicates herself daily to her craft.

With dedicated practice, a writer will be able to capture the muse at will—dutifully allowing the story to write itself.

Out The Archive: SLAM 196

I dug up SLAM 196 to re-read a Punk story, and ended up digging up plenty of old memories with it. I went to Oklahoma City in December of 2015 to interview Russell Westbrook for this cover story.

Russ, wearing the #AirJordanXXX for the first time, spoke about his late best friend, Khelcey Barrs, who passed away in the 10th grade. I asked him if he could write Khelcey a letter, what would he say?

“I don’t know, man,” Russ said. “I’d take some time to do that. But my job, I think, is to constantly keep playing for him and through his name.”

Russ doesn’t talk about Khelcey Barrs often, but he always wears a wristband with “KB3” on it. Always keeping his friend in his heart and mind.

FreeWrite: The achievement paradox

Bruce Lee continues to inspire many people with his philosophy and works. There’s no question that he lived an inspired life, aiming for high achievement while famously espousing “no effort.”

Lee is an example of what I clumsily call the “achievement paradox.” He embraced the seemingly contradictory path to achievement. For instance, passion and love for martial arts and film drew him to endure the grueling training and sacrifice needed to improve.

The “achievement paradox” is supported by clinical studies as well. The ability to delay gratification is a actually predictor of long-term achievement.

So by all means, set lofty goals like Bruce Lee. Something you’re passionate about. Something you love. Decide that you’ll do whatever it takes to achieve it.

But conversely, always remain patient. Understand your limits. Learn from your failures. Be flexible enough to change course at a moment’s notice. Be humble enough to admit you don’t know everything. Be willing to step back and go in reverse.

Come to understand the most important paradox of all: Whether or not you achieve the goal is irrelevant. The journey is actually the dream.

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!