After a five hour drive from the Outer Banks to Greensboro, NC, I was exhausted. Absolutely wiped out. I checked into my hotel room, put on some NFL football, and was ready to just lounge around the rest of the night.
Stress is real, and stress from five hours of driving is real. Lane changes, aggressive drivers, merging, it all adds up, and it feels nice to just relax it away.
Instead I did some online searching and found the Laurel Bluff Trail, about a 15 minute drive from my hotel. It’s a 3.1 mile trail, and it was absolutely gorgeous. As you can see from this photo, there’s an area covered in kudzu, and it was magic.
I knew how the other movie ended; hotel lounging, watch some football, watch TV too late, sleep like crap… but this other movie? I had no idea what to expect, and that’s what made it so great.
Running isn’t always racing, or group runs. A lot of the time it’s a solo effort, and today I happened to be in the Outer Banks, of North Carolina. It was overcast, rainy, and the wind was fierce coming off the ocean, but these were eight fun miles and I wish I could do it again tomorrow.
Multiple times I thought of turning back to my car, walking, calling it a day, but one foot in front of the other, two miles turned into three, and I just kept it rolling.
One of the best things about running is it lets you explore new places in ways you can’t see otherwise. Most of this run was driveable, and I drove some of it before I actually started this run, but it’s just different on two feet, with sweat stinging your eyes, and wind gusts rushing right into your face.
Finding moments like this, the angles, the colors… this photo actually started about 26 years ago. If I hadn’t met my friend, and navigated over two decades of ex’s, turmoil, and all the things that life bubbles up, well, I may not be a few minute walk from this beach right now.
I’ve been trying to implement more positive habits into my days, which is much easier when I wake up in the same bed every morning. Today I woke up in a hotel room, with a beach nearby. That’s a bit different.
Usually the first thing I do is 10-ish push-ups, then weigh myself. But without a scale, that didn’t happen. Instead, I got out the hotel lobby in my running clothes and hit the boardwalk for a nice four mile jaunt.
My breakfast of choice is a smoothie, with almond milk and protein powder and shredded carrots, and more. But today it was eggs and bacon and some pancakes.
Work-wise, forget it. No comfy computer chair, or USB keyboard. My screen was not raised, so I could feel myself hunched over all day.
Didn’t get to work out of my normal nearby Starbucks, but found one near the hotel after checkout, and tried to cram in some work before my battery died (forgot to turn the screen brightness down).
All this to say; routine is hard when you’re out of a routine. Or when your day job has a schedule that varies. Or a million other things. Good habits are hard to maintain on good days, and a whole lot tougher when everyday life throws a curve ball.
It’s a new habit I started a bit ago, but really got serious once I got the Apple Watch. It’s some extra movement during the day, a little more time on my feet instead of looking down at my phone, scrolling through Instagram.
Sure, sometimes I do wake up and grab my phone and fall into those old routines, but I follow a good amount of runners and adventuerous souls, so I usually see some vista or trail and that motivates me.
LIKING things on Instagram ain’t gonna make me a better runner, or benefit my fitness. Just walking in the morning and getting moving benefits my work, too. Time to think, time to reflect, time to look up and see skies that make me smile, and smiling can only help, right?
Had an interesting talk today at a birthday party about starting podcasts, writing on the web, and consistency. About expectations as “creators,” more or less.
The one person was eager to start, to produce, and asking all sorts of questions about platforms and strategies, and then there were two of us who were – frankly – burnt out on it.
Having both come from musical backgrounds, and then being in the music media world, it’s a grind. It can be hard to get excited about new albums sometimes when you surrounded by… new albums all the time, especially when your “side hustle” requires you to be stoked about… new albums all the time.
Thankfully in the past year my passion has become my main gig, and I am beyond thankful and grateful for that. But then adding a side gig in the same field became too much, which is why I shuttered Skull Toaster.
There’s only so much energy one can expend on the day to dayness of MUSIC, which I why I think I’ve neglected playing music of my own the past several years (or, well, decade or so).
Maybe it’s not because I know how the sausage is made, but because every day I’m eating sausage, and I don’t want anymore after a long day of work.
Enter, then, my running. It’s something I started back in 2016, and has become a gigantic part of my life. I listen to some running podcasts, and follow some running accounts on Instagram and such, but I… don’t want to start a running podcast, or a blog, or a brand.
Perhaps it’s okay in 2019 to just do things, and let them be your things. Not everything needs to be a side hustle, or turned into content. It can just be, and that’s good enough on its own.
Why head out the door when it’s pissing rain? Why not sleep in, or maybe cozy up in a coffee shop and watch the rain come down?
I guess because I started running back in 2016 when I didn’t have much going on. It was a low point in life, career-wise. Money wise. Running was a thing I could control. It was something I could complete, and accomplish. No hiring manager, no rejection, no automated email telling me thanks, but no thanks.
I could put in the work, then sign up for a 5K, and finish it. Maybe not fast, maybe not pretty, but I showed up just like all those runners and did it.
Now I’ve run three 10 mile races. A half marathon. Then today, in NYC, I put in 10 miles over three bridges in under two hours.
Not fast, not pretty, but I was out there when the rain was coming down sideways, and the wind was pushing my ass.
I showed up for me. I made this, I planned this, I accomplished this. That’s why I keep running, even in horrible conditions, because it’s another thing I’ve accomplished.
Because I want to run a marathon someday. I want to run in Yellowstone Park. I want to run around the Grand Canyon. I want to accomplish those things someday, and I need to do this now to get there.
Actions today lead to accomplishments in the future.
Your “audience” starts with you. Make the thing you wanna see first. In my latest episode of LATER, I talk about how your creative endeavors need to satisfy that audience of one; YOU. No clicks, or likes, or whatever. But you have to be stoked when doing it.
I did Skull Toaster for seven years and quit it because it wasn’t serving the audience of one anymore. Never-mind that it built up a $200/mo Patreon / Memberful support network, or that 30+ people a day replied to metal trivia, and a solid nightly email newsletter that I produced and sent every night.
Wasn’t enough. The audience of one – me – wasn’t loving it anymore. Shut it down.
But also, life and work and relationships and all that – guess what? You’re still the audience, and last I checked you get to walk out of bad movies.
That doesn’t mean you just tell your boss off, or leave your family, or burn down the farm. No, it was tiny decisions made over decades that landed us where we are. Now it takes a series of tiny decisions over the next decade or two to course correct.
It’s not black and white. It doesn’t go from misery to utopia in a day.
Seek to entertain that audience of one in all that you do.
This post was originally written on April 10, 2012
In a recent two day stretch I spent 14 hours on a Greyhound bus. The first leg was from Cincinnati, OH to Pittsburgh, PA. Then the next day, another bus from Pittsburgh, PA to Philadelphia, PA. In the past year and a half, I’ve taken buses from Youngstown, OH to Austin, TX, and plenty of stops in between.
In this two day span, I saw people laying on the ground, yelling at one another, kids crying, and lone parents dropping their stuff all over the place.
It’s said that “it’s not the destination, but the journey.” Let me tell you, it’s not just the journey, it’s the journey.
It’s the rush to the bus station to make sure you get your ticket at will-call in time.
It’s standing in line with people who can’t control their kids.
It’s riding next to people who’ve been on the bus for 18 hours.
It’s stopping at a quick-mart, seeing two police cruisers and wondering if they’re going to search the bus.
On the bus to Pittsburgh, PA, I got talking to a kid who was heading to Connecticut. He had 19 more hours to go. And was coming from Arkansas. When I travelled down south to New Orleans, LA, I spoke with people who were riding the bus from Michigan.
You want to talk “horror stories” from the airport?
Those of us who endure overnight bus rides are warriors. We’re woken up every 2 1/2 hours to de-board at a bus station in a small town you’ve never heard of. We get off the bus and see women in pajamas, sleeping on suitcases with crying babies in their arms. Out front is the smokers lounge, and they’re all covered with bad tattoos and missing teeth. And then there’s the people asking for money.
When does that happen at LAX?
This goes on every single night across America. This happens to the warriors who can’t afford airfare, or don’t own a car. This is America, folks. Land of the broke, home of the grave. Go buy yourself a ticket to a city five hours away and you’ll see what I’ve seen.
I don’t write this to call for change. I don’t even want this cleaned up. I don’t want more security or better customer service.
Most of these photos were taken with an iPhone 4 or a Canon PowerShot S95.