my last post – the bare sole

11/16/2012 by

Thank you everyone for joining me in this journey to the end of the earth. And, of course, to the end of livin’ like a freebird.

A joyous seven-year ride, it now continues in its new form: The Bare Sole.

You can join me in this new phase a few different ways:

Again, thank you all for your continued support over the years. I hope to interact with you even more as we move on to this new phase in blogging, and in life!

Visit thebaresole.org for your official welcome on my new site!

And don’t forget, as always, to punch yourself in the face.

Much love.

the bare sole

2nd last post – reinvent yourself

11/15/2012 by

All things must end. And who’s to say what phoenix arises from the ashes of such endings.

Well, in this case, I’m to say. Because with the death of a theme, a brand I’ve loved and nurtured for the past seven years, it’s time for a rebirth in another form.

the process of conscious change

changeEverybody needs to periodically reinvent themselves. He who doesn’t change is either the wisest of the wise or the dullest of the dull. (I like to think I’m somewhere in between)

We are ephemeral constructs in a world constantly in flux. We are always changing, whether or not we realize it. We hear a snippet of knowledge that gives us a new perspective on politics. We learn a new fact that makes us decide to start eating organic. We stop working out and we watch how our body loses strength and functionality. We begin working out and experience a slow but noticeable increase in energy. Week to week, day to day, minute to minute, we are evolving for better or for worse.

The key here is not to fight the change, but to go along in its flow and fall into a state of conscious change. We develop an awareness of our own evolution, even if that awareness surfaces after the fact.

It’s not control we’re seeking, but the ability to effortlessly adapt without losing fluidity. When we become consciously aware of this process, we gain the power to seek out our change, or rather to become change.

reinvent yourself

The opposite of stagnancy is not progress, but evolution. They are not synonymous.

Only you, the individual, know when it is time for you to consciously reinvent yourself, to make a life-altering change. Perhaps it’s a result of some outward stimuli, some trend you’ve identified in the world around you, or some traumatic life event. Perhaps it’s in recognition of your own internal need for change. Extensive periods of stagnation have an inducing tendency in that regard.

Regardless, you will know when it is time. If you’re unsure, work on becoming more conscious, more self-aware. Intensive introspection and important conversations with close family members, friends or significant others are conducive to a higher state of self-awareness – although I’ve always found the former to be exponentially more effective. I also tend to be a more solitary person, so do what works for you.

Decide. Consciously. We must learn to flow with the ever-changing world around us while developing the ability to consciously alter that flow as necessary.

Tomorrow you will see firsthand how I have initiated my own reinvention.

How have you reinvented yourself in the past? How are you reinventing yourself now?

3rd last post – a muted death

11/14/2012 by

2 years, 9 months, 90 blog posts, 286 comments, 37 tags and 1 category later, I am abandoning the WordPress mutation of livin’ like a freebird in favor of a brand that more accurately depicts me. While it has been the beloved title of my blog for the past seven years, it’s time for it to change along with me.

from angry to cynical

For years I was an angry college undergrad on Blogger and used livin’ like a freebird as a sounding board to vent all my frustrations against college, against the institution, against the unfairness of it all, and against the Man (in hindsight, being on Blogger was probably why I was so angry). But then I grew up a little and realized my idealistic anger was misdirected and senseless, as I was doing nothing about it. I entered the post-grad arena and transitioned from Blogger to the wonderful world of WordPress.

Before that transition I realized I wasn’t angry anymore, but rather I had become cynical.

from cynical to open

How a 23-year-old becomes a bona fide cynic, I’m not really sure, but it happened. Thus I dubbed my blog “livin’ like a freebird: cynical realism for the common man.” And it worked. My most critical, semi-seriously-disapproving friend agreed “cynical realism” was the perfect fit.

For a time.

Over the years, as small snippets of wisdom and knowledge implanted themselves unwittingly in my brain, I began to realize I was starting to become . . . well, not cynical. I was more open, more understanding, more empathetic. I questioned rather than condemned.

It’s easy to condemn and not offer any solutions. Over the course of the past three years I recognized my own hypocrisy and my voice changed. My perspective shifted, almost without me realizing it.

And so, this blog falls to the wayside, a muted death in the eclectic blogosphere, one star winking out among thousands.

To be revived in another form this Friday, where I’ll go from open to . . . barefoot?

4th last post – top 10 blog posts

11/13/2012 by

And as the end of this blog begins, as stated in yesterday’s post, I reflect back on some of my most popular posts throughout the ages.

I’ve never really evaluated which of my posts were the top performers, but it’s pretty interesting when I look at the top posts and then evaluate traffic patterns and sources. Regarding the latter, some advice to fellow bloggers: use alt tags on your images.

Here are my top 10 posts that have generated the most qualified traffic over the past three years:

10.) i hate doing laundry
Pub date: June 11, 2010

I always hate looking back at old writing. Anything from a year back or more normally makes me cringe, as I’m sure one year from now this post will, too. At first I was surprised this one made it into the top 10. But then I read it again and, even though it’s poorly written, it’s a straightforward, no-B.S. talk about balance and its importance in our daily lives.

9.) one-year anniversary – why i quit my job
Pub date: July 15, 2012

Not surprised about this one – or #4. This theme resonated well with my readers, even if many of them considered me a lunatic for doing it.

8.) the luckiest cowboy
Pub date: May 24, 2012

I wrote this post in an hour after I watched the video you’ll find in the post. One of my rare overtly uplifting posts, I loved it because of its focus on love, humility and compassion. This was one of the posts that made me realize my tagline “cynical realism for the common man” was no longer appropriate for the way I viewed the world.

7.) motivational mondays – you’re gonna die
Pub date: July 25, 2011

Posts about death are always some of my personal favorites. Probably because most people find the concept morbid, while I find it enlivening. Pun intended.

6.) 10,000 hours
Pub date: Feb. 9, 2012

A fascinating concept, that it takes 10,000 hours of constant practice to master any one thing in life. My guess is this post got most of its traffic from search, given it’s awesomely optimized title. Thanks Malcolm Gladwell.

5.) the minimalists were here
Pub date: May 3, 2012

Me and the Minimalists

left to right – me, Josh, Ryan

This past May I got the opportunity to meet two of my favorite bloggers, Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn, when they visited Cleveland on their 33-city meet-up tour (they have another tour coming up – more info here). I summed up their visit and discussed the concept of minimalism and what it has meant to me over the years.

4.) why i quit my job
Pub date: July 3, 2011

This post represented the initiation of a new phase in my life. In June 2011 I quit my 9-5 job and made the written word the focal point of my life. My mission in life is to be a full-time writer – of everything. Including novels, magazine articles, short stories, poetry, and, of course, blogs. The next 14 months, as I discussed in my one-year anniversary post listed above, contained some of the most self-revealing experiences I’ve ever had. And I realized I didn’t like all that I saw.

3.) be like despereaux
Pub date: May 5, 2011

Are you a man or a mouse? “A mouse.” (literally)

2.) i choose anger
Pub date: July 15, 2011

Knowing when and how much to be angry is the sign of a self-disciplined, critically thinking, semi-enlightened individual.

I’m not quite there yet.

1.) creating our universe
Pub date: Sept. 9, 2012

The launching pad to instant WordPress fame (kind of), this post increased my monthly traffic by 400%, and my subscriber base by more than that. I think it resonated with the Freshly Pressed community because it spoke simply about returning to our roots and becoming like children again, appreciative of all the world around us.

And a couple other blog posts that get honorable mentions: motivational mondays – running barefoot (pub date: June 25, 2012), and it rained on her wedding day (pub date: Oct. 5, 2010).

But it’s time to start saying goodbye to livin’ like a freebird and to usher in a new era. I hope you’re as excited as I am to see where that takes us.

5th last post – the beginning of the end

11/12/2012 by

Seven years of bliss come crashing down amidst the boulder-strewn shores of necessary change. This is the last week of activity, and my fifth-to-last post on the notorious, the infamous, the scoundrelly blog known as livin’ like a freebird.

It was slightly bittersweeet when I was Freshly Pressed back in September, as I had been planning for this change since May. But don’t think of it so much as an end. All deaths bring some form of new life, of new beginnings.

Or as I should properly call it, given that I am in the marketing field, a rebrand . . .

the bare sole

an assault on the spirit

11/08/2012 by

(sorry about poor video quality)

So many people feel this assault on the spirit and believe themselves incapable of doing anything about it. They say, “This is the age we live in. Who am I to change it?” or “I’m sorry, it’s just too big of a risk.” So they drive the half-hour to work every day. They sit in their chair, they pick up their tools, sigh, and carry on, deadening their emotions to lessen the pain of being somewhere they don’t want to be for 8 hours each day, 40 hours each week. Passion is subdued for practicality, and too much practicality has a way of chipping away at the human spirit. As Chris Guillebeau says, “Balanced people don’t change the world.”

I felt this assault keenly 16 months ago. I reached a breaking point and knew immediately what I had to do. And I did it. And these past 16 months have been some of the most revealing of my life thus far, full of crippling anxieties and probing self-discoveries.

When we find our spirits assaulted, we must take some sort of action. We must adopt a life of proactivity, not one of simple reactions to outward stimuli that assault our senses, that assault our spirit, that take us out of ourselves. The best defense is a good offense, as the aphorism goes, and to simply wait for our world to change or happiness to take the place of complacency is a waste of time. We are all accountable for our emotional state and the things that happen to us. So if we don’t like where we are or what we’re doing – well, I think you can finish that statement yourself.

stay tuned next week

Stay tuned next week for an important announcement!

got the magic in you?

09/19/2012 by

Feelings of inadequacy abound.

  • “I’m not good enough.”
  • “I’m not naturally talented.”
  • “I’m not smart enough.”
  • “That person did it first, so now I can’t do it anymore.”

Why is it that we’re able to psyche ourselves out so effectively rather than just simply doing the damn thang? Is it fear? Is it anxiety? Is it an emotionless obstacle, like Steven Pressfield’s Resistance?

our deepest fear is our greatest strength

There’s a saying floating around that rings something like this: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

How many of us truly believe that? How many of us have witnessed within ourselves that capacity for power beyond measure? Perhaps that’s legitimate for some, and perhaps that’s a way of rationalizing inadequacy for others. I don’t know. All I know is that I don’t accept it.

The truth is, we all have magic in us. We all have an untapped well of power, of strength, of fortitude, that we’re simply too inconvenienced to tap into. Why dig deeper when we can watch TV? Why improve ourselves when we can settle and still get by? Why meditate when we can masturbate?

We find pleasant distractions and diversions that effectively turn us away from our goals, from our true directions.

The problem with bettering ourselves is it’s never fast, it’s never easy, and – the worst part – it’s rarely a brilliant flash of accomplishment and satisfaction when we achieve our goals. There is no shortcut to self-improvement, whether we want to become a better writer, a better doctor, a better student, ambidextrous, or a faster runner, it takes hours upon days upon weeks upon months upon years of dedication before we achieve sustainable results. Sure, we can achieve results tomorrow if we want. I could publish my first e-book by end of day today. I could grow muscle with one hour at the gym. But if we want lasting effects, if we want true success – what some call luck – that requires preparation.

Only then can we be ready for the opportunity. Think: you may be preparing for your success right now without even knowing it. If you’re not . . .

It’s time to start building toward it.

It’s time to start fearing our own power.

Got the magic in you?

creating our universe

09/09/2012 by

We learn from an early age how to create the world around us. We learn labels, we learn definitions, we learn classifications, sub-classifications and distinctions. A toddler learns that a tree is called a tree, a cloud is called a cloud, and Mama and Dada are called Mom and Dad. An adolescent learns the difference between rich and poor, strong and weak, nice and mean. An adult learns what class warfare is, what God is, and what antidisestablishmentarianism could possibly mean.

But at what point does this really continue to benefit us?

the death of the senses

There is an economic principle called the law of diminishing returns. It means, in terms that I can understand, that the more we continue to invest in something, the less we get out of it (see Wikipedia for a MUCH more accurate definition). A marathoner plodding along an 18-week training regimen sees more marked improvement in the early stages of training than in the later stages. Early on, his average race pace may drop from nine-minute miles to eight-minute miles in the space of just a few determined weeks, while in the last few weeks of high-intensity training he will see much less of an improvement than that. Granted, it’s still marked improvement, but the point stands: the return isn’t as great.

So how does this apply to labels? To definitions? To distinctions? How do we measure returns on something like learning? The truth is, most people don’t even try. Learning is a wonderful thing – I believe lifelong learning should be a cornerstone of everyone’s daily experience. But after a point in the learning process – for most of us, in our teenage years – it becomes easy to lose sight of true value. So if we really tried measuring the returns on learning, we’d realize that there are things that are more important. Thus, we accrue knowledge for the sake of accruing knowledge. We learn what a tree is but then forget to experience the tree. Think about it: when was the last time you touched, and felt, a tree? Felt its bark, listened as its branches swayed in the wind, smelled its leaves? Go outside and touch a tree. Right now. I’ll wait . . .

Back already? Good. Carrying on. . . as one of my favorite books, The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, says, “The birth of the mind is the death of the senses.”

p’u, the uncarved block

Moments in life can trigger the resurgence of this child-like appreciation for the world around us:

  • Having a child
  • A near-death experience
  • A religious experience
  • Emerging from an emotional depression

But it should be natural (shouldn’t it?), as human beings gifted with life on this wonderful earth, to consciously appreciate the universe around us during what we deem mundane experience. During the ordinary moments. To appreciate the universe, not necessarily in the form in which we initially created it, but rather through direct experience. To sense directly, without thought, opinion or interpretation. To simply be.

Much like Winnie the Pooh. Open to, but unburdened by, experience.

winnie the pooh, the tao of pooh

people are awesome

08/31/2012 by

I got home today around noon and realized I had the next five hours of my life to do whatever it is I wished. Five hours. Mid-day. No plans.

I got depressed.

Has this ever happened to you? You realize that you have an enormous amount of time to do, accomplish and/or experience so many things, and it simply overwhelms you? There are innumerable things in my life I know I should be doing:

  • Putting the finishing touches on The Little Handbook for my Beta readers
  • Prepping for my new website launch
  • Training for the Akron Half-Marathon, then the subsequent Indianapolis Half-Marathon (which I’m attempting to do barefoot)
  • Finish reading Michael Hyatt’s Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World
  • I don’t know, some push-ups or something . . .

But I just can’t get my tired ass off my steps. I sit, staring blankly at my phone, pondering my priorities and what needs to get done.

everything happens, sometimes, for a reason

Then I stumble upon this:

I’m of the mindset that while everything may not happen for a reason, there is a reason everything happens . . . yeah.

Thus, I have decided to start my full-fledged Parkour training today. Not sure what Parkour is? Check it:

Not sure what will happen when I start doing flips and tumbles? This seems about right:

Here goes! (minus the jean shorts)

my first product release

08/20/2012 by

For the past two months, this blog has represented what it means to be inconsistent. Symbolic of laziness, like me living with my parents. The epitome of irregularity, like an unhealthy woman’s period.

However you want to phrase it.

So for those of you sitting and staring at your inbox, perched on the edge of your seat with a slight dribble plopping onto your ergonomic keyboard as you await my next blog post, I have but one thing to offer: my excuse.

a first time for everything

For the past three months I have been working voraciously and ravenously, excitedly and jovially, on my very first product release.

Yes, I said it. Close shut that jaw with an audible click, please. After more than a year of inconsistent, second-shift employment and more time off than I’ve had since I was 12, my very first product is nearly done and ready to be released to the ever-demanding public.

And when this product rolls out in all its magic, NO LONGER will I have to answer the question, “So what have you written?” when people ask me “What do you do?” with “Nothing, yet.”

NO LONGER will I have to justify to my girlfriend’s relatives my impulsive, semi-poorly planned decision to quit my job and launch my career as a writer with claims to the fact that “I’m working on it.”

NO LONGER will I feel the pseudo-shame of the self-touted writer yet unpublished author, the self-conscious blogger who talks about people pursuing their dreams yet doesn’t seem to be doing just that.

the little handbook

This new product, to be released at my earliest convenience (i.e. when I’m no longer ashamed of its quality), is philosophical in nature and revolves around the ancient Taoist script, the Tao Te Ching. Not quite sure what Taoism is? Wikipedia can help.

I have dubbed it The Little Handbook and am tentatively announcing its release date as “late September.”

Stay tuned for more updates about The Little Handbook, as well as an announcement regarding my new blog!


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