When I was 8 years old, my parents asked me if I wanted to sign up to play tackle football. I had a couple of friends that were going to be on the team, and I thought it would be fun to play.
I fell in love with the game of football. A group of kids, learning how to battle together. Each one giving everything they can to achieve victory.
Getting life lessons from your coaches, and learning how to accept people of all different types of backgrounds. All for the love of the game.
We would spend our Saturdays playing our game, and then our Sundays watching the NFL. But the playing days eventually ended, and then the Sundays did too.
Everyone who knows me knows that there's nothing I love more than basketball. But football was always a close second. Baseball eventually became a game I came to love thanks to my wife and my father-in-law who is a baseball legend.
I have always been a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers because my step-dad is a die hard fan of the team. Me and him bonded more and more over the years because of our shared love for the team.
But a lot has happened in the last few years in the NFL, and it's had me do a lot of thinking.
About five years ago, I was working for a website as a contributor for their NFL department. I wrote about the Pittsburgh Steelers 3-4 times a week. It was easy for me because all I had to do was write about the team. I loved that job.
But I wanted to go back to writing for myself, so after the season I went solo again. And the next season was when Colin Kaepernick decided to take a knee during the national anthem.
This story was already as big as news could possibly get, but it was even bigger here in Northern California because of the amount of San Francisco 49ers fans.
I remember being at a family gathering a couple weeks after the kneeling started, and I was talking to one person who is a 49ers fan and another person who doesn't really even watch football. They asked me how I felt about the situation. The 49er fan simply said "I think it's stupid." I kind of ignored it and explained why it was important that he continued to do what he was doing.
At the time, it never occurred to me that his acts could possibly keep him blackballed from the NFL. Especially after everything I had seen NFL players go through throughout the years and continue to be accepted by the NFL community.
And yet, it's three years later, and Colin is still out of a job.
Let's quickly run through a list of players who were given jobs in the NFL after being arrested for domestic violence. Let me take a deep breath . . . *breathes in heavily* . . . Shawne Merriman, Chad Johnson, Cedrick Wilson, James Harrison, Najeh Davenport, Larry Johnson, Dominic Rhodes, Leon Searcy, Corey Dillon, Reuben Foster, Johnathan Dwyer, Brandon Marshall, Santonio Holmes, Dez Bryant, Donte Whitner, Frostee Rucker...
Should I really keep going? The list seemingly never ends. Seriously, Google it.
The strange thing is that I've seen these guys get in trouble with the law, yet NFL owners and fans never seemed to care. As long as they played good on the field, it was all good. Time heals all wounds, right?
What about the victims? Do you think time healed their wounds? Do you think that them and their families that were also effected by these acts of violence just went on with their lives like normal?
Why do these guys get a second and third and fourth chance at success, while these people have to suffer in the dark corners of society? Because the NFL doesn't give a fuck about women, that's why.
But when a black man with a giant afro kneels for the rights of people who don't have the means to speak for themselves, White America (and many others) are offended to no end.
And again, we ask why . . . Because the NFL doesn't give a fuck about anyone's opinion except White America.
Blackballing Colin from the NFL cost the league and it's owners a lot of money in his lawsuit. And now he's going to have the opportunity to workout for a group of teams.
But just a few days before his workout, the NFL may have reached it's lowest point in league history in terms of their product.
Last year, Kareem Hunt was caught on camera not only hitting a woman, but then kicking her in the face while she was on all fours. The video surfaced and it ultimately cost him his job with the Kansas City Chiefs. I told myself that if he ended up getting a job, I wouldn't watch the NFL anymore.
And of course he was signed, by the Cleveland Browns. He was suspended for 8 weeks, and was finally allowed to return a couple weeks ago. Their nationally televised game against the Pittsburgh Steelers showed the world that still nobody cares about women or victims of domestic violence.
As the cameras panned across the stadium, you could see signs that said "Kareemland." Not a good look at all.
As I sat there watching the game, I found myself getting angry every time he came on the screen. It was my own fault. The only four games I watched all season were Steelers nationally televised games with my family. Pretty much the only reason I watched was because of that bond I always had with my step-dad.
And yet here I was, watching a game with the guy and team that had pushed me over the edge. The Browns played the way you would expect an organization who allows guys like this on their team to play.
Before halftime, two Steelers receivers got concussions due to hits from Browns players. Which led to one Browns player being ejected.
They looked like they were head hunting.
There was a moment in the game when Hunt got tackled and he got into a bit of a tussle with TJ Watt. As they stood there staring at each other, Hunt flexed his muscle and was chirping at Watt. And all I could think about was his violent history.
A grown man, stronger than your average citizen, getting so angry that he could possibly beat a defenseless person. As he stood there on the field, acting like he was ready to fight I felt disgusted in myself.
Mad at myself for allowing myself to think that it was harmless to just watch a Steelers game. Foolish to think that things could possibly change for the better. Disappointed in myself for watching, not knowing that things were about to get even worse . . .
In the closing seconds of the game, Mason Rudolph dumped a pass off to a receiver. After the ball was already gone, Browns player Myles Garrett continued to slam Rudolph to the ground. The play was over and the game was essentially over. But this moment was just beginning.
After he slammed Rudolph to the ground in a meaningless play, Rudolph was rightfully upset and grabbed Garrett's helmet in an attempt to get him off. Garrett followed up with one of the most violent in-game acts ever seen in sports history.
He began yanking on the facemark of Rudolph's helmet, bringing him up to his feet by brute force. He got the helmet off of Rudolph's head. As he was pushed back by a Steelers player in an attempt to calm him down, he used the helmet as a weapon to strike Rudolph's bare head with his own helmet. Possibly inches from hitting his temple and possibly killing the guy.
An act of violence, assault with a deadly weapon, crime was committed on the field of play.
And it was in that moment when I realized, this was the last NFL game I would ever watch.
How many "Todays" have you gone through? Probably, at least one for everyday of your life.
There's less "Yesterdays" and a million "Tomorrows"
So how are we treating Today? Are we treating it like another Yesterday or a Tomorrow?
Yesterday is nostalgic.
Yesterday is stories placed in your memories.
Yesterday leaves feelings of emotion that will last a lifetime.
Yesterday wasn't your best day.
Yesterday wasn't your worst day.
Yesterday is missed.
Tomorrow is what we're planning for.
Tomorrow is when we'll do that thing.
Tomorrow is where we place problems that have yet to happen.
Tomorrow motivates us.
Tomorrow destroys us.
Tomorrow is unknown.
Today is happening.
Today never ends.
Today is a battle that we continue to fight.
Today gives us strength from Yesterday.
Today teaches us lessons for Tomorrow.
Today carries us forward.
Today is here.
Remember jumping on a trampoline as a kid? Seems kinda dangerous, but kids are supposed to get hurt anyway.
You used to crawl into a ball and have all your siblings or cousins jump until they made you crack like an egg.
You used to tell everyone to jump at the same time to launch you so high that you can see your neighbors backyards who lives three houses away.
And then there was that one time when you lost all control and landed on the metal springs and scuffed up the entire right side of your body.
But no matter how many times you got injured, you kept hopping back up on that trampoline.
Why? Because you were stupid.
You were too blinded by how fun jumping on the trampoline was that you didn't care about how many times you got knocked down. You constantly got back up because it was fun.
Imagine if you treated life the same way.
I mean you've made it this far. Chances are that you're doing something right.
So why is it that when we get knocked down in life, we don't view it as much fun as a trampoline? Maybe it's because we view our life in a dangerous way.
We let our job define our path to our careers. We let our credit score define our financial goals. We allow society to infect us with the idea that falling down on the way towards our goals is failure itself.
You're going to take chances on yourself that turn out to be the wrong choices. But it's the choice itself to get back up after you've been knocked down that creates our paths.
Just think about all the people that love you. Do you think they'd ever be ok with you not chasing your dreams? Don't you think you owe it to them to keep pushing?
What about the generation that comes after you. Don't you want them to see you grinding? Being a role model for them by proving that it can be done.
The future you knows whats next on your path. It's up to you to decide whether or not you're going to keep on jumping, or if you're going to be the cracked egg.
About 7 years ago, after the end of a long shift my best friend offered me some weed. I told her that I had never smoked weed and I wasn't going too. She insisted because she said I was acting like an annoying little bitch and I needed to relax.
So I gave into peer pressure (didn't take much) and smoked my first bowl. When I think back to how high I was, I honestly can't remember. I'm almost certain I that I was higher than I had ever been up until that point. Almost.
Back then, weed was just as accessible but a little scarier to get. You always had to meet some sketchy guy in a random dimly lit parking lot and he would tell you the story about how he attained this weed.
It was always one of three stories.
Very rarely was there a major difference in the weed. Sure some would get you higher than others. But for a guy who just wanted to smoke some weed, it all essentially did the same job.
This is when you could buy regular ass weed from regular ass people. Sometimes you'd get stuff that wasn't shaved so it was all on a huge stem. There would be seeds in just about every eighth. Every time you would buy an ounce it would be all the trimmings of the big nugs they would sell to rich white kids, and it would be a third of the price.
Rolling a blunt or a joint or packing a bowl for a bong was all a social experience. You call up your friends and let them know you have some weed and you're coming over. You bring your rolling tray, a grinder, papers or Swishers (Yes, all of y'all used to smoke Swishers. Don't act all uppity with me now. Talking' bout "Swishers are nasty" All y'all was smoking them daily. Don't play wit me) and of course, your weed.
I kept my stuff discrete and in a Victoria's Secret make-up bag. I looked really cool going into friends houses with that. Anyway, the time you spent rolling up and getting everything ready for the session was a part of the whole thing. But ever since weed became legal-ish, the experience is different.
Theres a store or van that will legally sell you weed recreationally in just about every town in California. You go in there and there's security and a place to check in. You have to get buzzed into the next room where there is more security. So essentially your dealer is the one thinking that you're sketchy, instead of the other way around.
And remember that regular weed you used to buy? It doesn't exist anymore! This shit is strong as fuck. And you can for sure tell the difference in the strength of the weed. Theres no sticks or seeds so everything you buy is pure dank. Which is great, right?
I suppose, if your whole goal is to get higher than the last time. And they have these things, I don't know what they are but they look like USBs. You take one hit and you're in a UFO. You take two hits and you are the UFO.
It's like pure THC. You kids don't know how good you got it. I don't know how long those things last but I'm sure it lasts longer than some regular weed.
I miss regular weed. Y'all smoking that Area 52 weed.
Oh and by the way, my best friend that convinced me to smoke weed was my wife. There's a lesson in that.
1. the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.
You are an art project.
The artists were your biological parents. Coming together to create you. Human expression in it's purest form, used to start a new life.
The child is born as a blank canvas, just waiting to have their colors come to life. The loved ones who are caring for them hold the paintbrushes as they will influence the child's infantile mind. The child can't pick the ones who surround them, so you just hope they aren't too heavy handed.
As they paint the mind with all the words they speak and beliefs they hold, the child knows no other way but to accept these ways. The Father, a young man who has never picked up a paint brush before tries to become an artist.
His attempts are weak. Laughable at times. But the father doesn't know, for he is blind to the fact that his influence will shape this child's life. What should be common sense, does not come easy to the father.
The Mother, a young woman with a heart full of colors shows a desire to mold the child like a sculpture. Using her influence to show the child the ways of the world.
Nothing is ever black and white. She doesn't allow the child to get stuck in the gray area, but allows the child to view life with all it's colors. She has never done this before either, yet it comes natural to her.
The child turns into a teenager and begins to see the world from a different perspective. She is still there everyday. Influencing, encouraging, pushing. The child knows no other way when they're with their mother.
The Father is there from time to time. Picking and choosing when he wants to be an influence and when he wants to be his own man. The Father is still stuck in his childish ways. Being easily influenced by the world around him, not realizing that his paintbrush is running dry.
His words to the child carrying less weight with every day that passes without his influence. Luckily for the child, 90% of the child's life has been painted by his mother. And as he grows into a young man, she begins to hand him the paintbrush.
The child is now in college. Old enough to begin to paint their own picture, but still young enough to crave the influence of their father. The child's words to the father fall on deaf ears, as after all these years the father is still stuck in his same mindset.
But now as a young man, he wants to begin to draw what he believes will be a beautiful painting. And now, the father wants to grab a hold the paintbrush.
Father: "What are you going to college for?"
The young man is silent. Everything he's ever wanted to be in life is being doubted by the man who created him. He asks himself if the father is right. He has no words.
He goes home to tell the mother what has happened. And asks if the doubt raised by his father is true. But she knows what the child's heart has always desired. To be an artist of his own. To create his own future. To be an influence on everyone who's comes in contact with him.
The mother then grabs the industrial sized paint roller and hands it to the young man and says, "Create a masterpiece so beautiful, that nobody can ever put doubt into your mind."
And as the young man grows, he paints his picture with his father's doubt always lingering in his mind. He is everything his father is not, and the proof is in the painting.
There's an easy way to tell when you're too drunk. You've had too many drinks, you become impaired, you're stumbling, you're texting your ex, you're crying in the bathroom for no apparent reason, you're throwing up. Getting drunk doesn't sound as fun when you're a grown up.
You've got shit to do. People to do, things to see.
How high is too high?
That question doesn't even really make sense if you don't think about it. Someone passes you a joint after you've already smoked two, you're not going to just say no. That's rude.
Anybody who is willing to share their weed with you should be celebrated. So you grab that joint and you take at least one hit. One good one, ya know.
After you pass it, you're kinda just sitting there. You're friends are having a conversation about whether or not self-driving cars are a good idea. And wondering if there will eventually be some kind of taxi service with these self-driving cars.
It's like in that one Will Smith movie, where all the cars drive themselves and you have time to work and do whatever else. You're just sitting there in the driver's seat doing your thing, and next thing you know you're at your destination.
A lot of it will have to do with how the roads are constructed and whether or not we can find a way to keep trash, debris, and animals away from the street so the self-driving cars aren't confused on whether or not what they're seeing is something they can drive past or something they need to stop for.
In an ideal world for self-driving cars, it would have to be a situation where all the cars on the road were self-driven. There would have to be some type of communication between the cars themselves to let each other know how fast they're going and where they're going so that the car can make decisions ahead of time.
And . . . wait we got off topic. Ok, hold on.
Smoking! Yes. That's what we were talking about. Ok, so you're sitting there and you're friends are smoking a joint and you're listening to them.
You finally are ready to put in your two cents into the conversation and BOOM, another joint is in rotation again. Are these guys joking? Like are they trying to get you to a new level of high? Do they hate you or something? Nah.
As you sit there looking at your friend handing you the joint, you're about to say no and next thing you know you're taking another puff. Four joints in, you damn pothead. How did you get here?
But like really, how did you get here? Just a couple years ago, you had a completely different group of friends. One's who didn't smoke you out. They were like "Are you going to drop on it?"
Drop on it?! Is this a fucking pool where everyone pitches in to try to win the lottery and split it up? No. It's weed, dude. And you had friends who were asking you to drop some money? Wow, that's fucked up.
Imagine you're at your friends house for dinner. As they're making the food they're like "Hey this chicken cost me $11 and the potatoes cost $5 and the veggies cost $8. Can you drop $5 on a plate?"
That's your friend? Nah, that's not your friend. They probably never even smoked weed before. And if they did, take away they're weed privileges.
Smoking weed is all about sharing. Sharing stories, experiences, water, conspiracy theories, snacks, water, weed, water, weed.
Treat this 4/20 like it's Christmas. Gather your friends, family, and someone who could use some love and smoke some weed. Wear your comfiest clothes and take a load off. Roll ten fucking joints, who cares? It's Weed Christmas.
And if they don't smoke weed, just give them an edible. They'll be fine, they're not going to die.
People always look at New Year's Day to create a resolution for the year. But the real time to create a resolution should be when Spring comes.
There's nothing like that first sunny and breezy day that makes you feel like a new person. Those long cold winters always seem to give us a sense of comfort and warmth from being inside all the time. Spring is the time for weather change, and a mental cleanse.
Let's change the meaning of Spring Cleaning. Typically it's about donating your old clothes, getting a start on your yard for the summer, or cleaning out the garage. But let's do a Spring Cleaning for our lives.
The best part of winter and staying inside these days is watching Netflix and eating snacks all day. But those days are over. The sun is out and the flowers are blooming. They say April showers bring May flowers, but in Northern California, it's more like February to April and then May starts to get hot as hell.
There's a very small window for Spring here, so don't waste any time! Think about one specific goal you wanted to reach this year. If you haven't really gotten a start on it or are not where you'd like to be, now is the real time to start.
You may be feeling down on yourself for not doing what you said you would, but that sunshine will give you some Vitamin D and some positivity. Let this beautiful weather not only motivate you to clean your house, but also motivate you to cleanse yourself of all that is weighing you down or holding you back.
Take a look at the people around you and ask yourself if these people are motivating you to be better or are allowing you to continue living your simple and comfortable life. People will come and go in your life, so don't be afraid to use this time as a way to evaluate the friendships you have.
Life is too short to worry about hurting people's feelings. If there are people in your life who are not encouraging you to get your ass off of the couch, then it's time to live and let live! Wake up and realize that you are in control of who you surround yourself with, and you are only as strong as your weakest link.
This doesn't mean you have to cut people out of your life, but it does mean that you need to evaluate what's important. Life goals, physical health, and mental health. The only time you should be on your phone when the sun is out is to be taking pictures of the sky and the flowers and your beautiful face with your Spring glow.
Look at how you spend your free time. Relaxing and enjoying some alone time is great, but are you being productive? Sitting on the couch and watching television isn't exactly the best use of your time. Ask yourself what you can do to move forward.
When the time changes this time of year, they call it "Spring Forward." And usually it sounds like a bad thing because you're losing an hour. But just use it as a reminder that time is wasting!
Like really, what are you waiting for?!
Imagine if life went exactly the way you planned. You'd accomplish all of your goals, you'd keep all the people in your life that you think will guide your future, and you'd run into little to no adversity. And while that all sounds great, it also sounds kind of boring.
You're not boring. You weren't made to be boring. Your future won't be boring.
It would be great to live a comfortable life and never have a feeling of sink or swim. But that's not how people grow and learn and move forward. It happens through the unexpected.
The unexpected is exactly what you need to push you in the right direction. If you're the type of person to crumble in the face of the unexpected then maybe your life will be boring.
You'll allow yourself to fail in the face of adversity, and you'll shy away from a challenge. You'll continue to hang out with the same friends who do the same things every week. You'll never meet new people who genuinely impact your future positively.
So if you want to live boring, go ahead. Don't take challenges head on. Allow yourself to fail when the unexpected hits you. Hang on to all the people who are perfectly fine with you staying in the same position you are in.
People who genuinely care about you will root for you no matter where you go or what you do. It's the people who display jealousy and resentment towards you when you move on that you need to let go.
So take on a new challenge. Surround yourself with people who want you grow. Don't be boring. Be dope.
Phyllis Vance once said, "It's raining Cats and Dogs out there." And although that doesn't really make any sense, she's right in more ways than one. In this particular moment, she only meant it figuratively speaking as she was referring to how much rain there was.
But life is so much like these rainy days, but it's really all about your perspective on how to weather the storm.
Each and every day is unique in it's own way. Think of every new day as a person's fingerprint. Every fingerprint is similar, but none are the same. Not even identical twins have the same fingerprint.
So how are you treating each and every day? Are you treating them like they are similar? Or are you celebrating them in all of their uniqueness?
There is beauty in everyday, its just up to you to find what it is about that day that is special to you. Or how you're going to make that day special.
Too often, people get comfortable with being comfortable. When life gives them rain, they sit inside with a blanket and watch Netflix until the storm passes. But there is no better time than now to face the storm head on.
Whatever it is that you're going through right now, it's time to get your rain boots and get out there and put in work. The weather isn't going to change for you, the weather is the weather. So stop worrying about what you can't control, and take control of your situation.
Even if it's something small, a change for the better is always better.
By the end of the day Phyllis Vance's view on the storm changed because of her perception.
I mean normally the rain would make me want to stay at home curled up with a good book. But everyone is being so nice to me today, I'm really happy being here
So find your happy place in the middle of the rain, and you'll find yourself wishing for gray skies.
Common sense tells us that the cereal should go into the bowl first. But what if you only wanted a certain amount of milk to go with your cereal? It's easier to see how much milk you are using with no cereal in the bowl. It's a bold strategy, but maybe it works for some.
It all depends on how you perceive your bowl of breakfast. Are you adding cereal to your bowl of milk? Or are you using milk for your bowl of cereal?
Your chances of spilling increase when you try to plop some cereal into a bowl full of milk. From a scientific standpoint, the cereal may be doing cannonballs into your milk. It's going to look cool if you record it in slow motion from an aerial view.
In the end, it'll all taste the same.
This is so similar to how goals can be perceived. Common sense will always tell us to take the route that sounds right. You're so hungry for your goals that you put them first, and view the goal as the only thing you're trying to get to. But you're forgetting about everything that comes with it.
Putting the work in first is going to be messy. There is going to be times when you can't find the balance between your goals and the work to reach that success you are looking for. Your bowl will be overflowing with questions on whether or not you're following the right path to your goals.
There is no right or wrong way to reach your goals. Every situation is fluid and different. So don't worry about how the neighbors create their bowl of cereal. And remember that as long as you are eating you are blessed.
But just to be clear, cereal goes first. If you put the milk first, we're most likely going to see a Netflix series on you that is something similar to the Ted Bundy Tapes. You're a weirdo.