Creating content is like building a retaining wall

Creating content is fun. I’m grateful to have a career where I use my mind and virtual pen to express myself. Interesting enough with my journey into podcasting, it’s like building a retaining wall.
Developing the right amount content for a listening audience is akin to writing in the sense that material has to be… written. However, much like this blog, past posts are proving to be a foundation for what this page is all about (basically… my thoughts).
As I’m preparing to put out more episodes of the Friends+Experts podcasts (https://anchor.fm/friendsandexperts), I realize this project is much like the one in my yard. The little retaining wall I stare at from my office window reminds me of the work that most won’t see.
In order to keep the wall steady, I had to work to lay out the sand on the level and meticulously place each brick down. There was a lot of trial and error. Sometimes, the bricks were uneven. I stopped and restarted plenty of times. But once it was done, the rest was relatively easy. It was just a matter of putting each brick into its place.
I was relatively pleased with the first episode. I had a strong guest host and we didn’t get too caught up with our ums and long-paused ands. Most of all, we didn’t take ourselves too seriously although we touched upon some serious matters. However like the retaining wall, most won’t see (hear) it, and that’s okay. The process of doing this is rewarding enough.
It’s satisfying doing something that inspires myself and others. Plus, there’s more to come. Exciting times!

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The 3 Steps to Avoiding Procrastination

Procrastination has many disguises. In my freelancing world, it is very easy to be complacent. Working from home, I often fell into the trap of false accomplishments. Crafting an assignment takes a lot of mental energy. A couple of times in my workday, I’d take five minutes to unwind. Looking around my house, I would see the dirty dishes or the pile of dirty clothes. Sure enough, the plates are shining and the laundry is complete. Lo and behold, five minutes turned into 3 hours and my writing assignment is still in limbo. I had an aura of accomplishment, however, it wasn’t toward the intended target. No bueno!

After experiencing one too days in this situation. I decided to do something about it. I’ve been following these three rules of thumb in my hustling journey, and they worked for me. Hopefully, they will for you too:

1. Write It Down
You hear it in every self-help/motivational program, but it SO TRUE! You have to write down your goals! It’s imperative. For me, it’s the first step in “seeing” as in “seeing it, then being it.” Make your own strategy. It can be a weekly, monthly timeframe. It can be daily, or even hourly if you’re THAT busy. It can be short-term, long-term or both. However you want to track your assignment, you should have your targeted plan in sight.
I have my daily list that I write down after my workday is officially done. The list goes as long as there are things to do for the next day. Afterward, I place that list in a place where I KNOW I’ll see it; on top of my laptop; my bathroom mirror, etc. There’s nothing worse than having a list and forgetting where you put it. It puts a damper on the day before it even starts. Which brings me to my next step…

2. Set The Tone
I’m a true believer of having a good routine. When I wake up, I brush my teeth then get in my workout clothes. I’m either outside running or going head-first into a Beachbody workout. When I’m done, I’m in the zone before I even start my day. It wasn’t always easy to establish that routine. My procrastination would set in as I labored in my mind whether to run or do Insanity30, or maybe P90X, or 21-Day Fix. Before I knew it, it was 8 or 9 a.m., and it was time to get to work. Throughout those days, I’m running to stand still. No bueno!
Nonetheless, your routine is yours. I workout. Maybe you have your coffee, and you’re good to go. Whatever gets you there is the important takeaway. A good start leads to a good finish!

3. Plan Your Distractions
Yes, it’s sounds confusing. Let me explain: For most, there are eight hours in the workday. And let’s be honest, there’s a “windup” time when you get to work, the half-hour/hour for lunch, and a “wind-down” time before you leave the office.  For me and the others I have worked with over my career, that’s the usual game plan. If you are a “get to work” right at the starting bell until the final whistle: God Bless You! For the rest of us, let’s continue.
If you can establish that aforementioned timeframe, then you’re winning. First, you know the root of your weakness, and knowing is half the battle. Second, you can choose to eliminate that distraction altogether (which would be nice), or make plans for it! Yes, you know it’s coming, so welcome it. You welcome that lunch hour, and you respect it. You’re back in your desk within that time. Why don’t you do that for the windup and wind-down time? Give yourself 3-5 minutes of “hey, how was your weekend/day?” moments around the water cooler or wherever you congregate. They tend to add up during the day.
Working by myself, my planned distraction is a call to my wife or friend before or after lunch. For me, it’s a great way to decompress during the workday and places things in proper perspective. Thankfully, I have enough to keep me occupied during the day. If I’m too busy, a text usually does the trick.

These processes have been years in the making for me, and they work like a charm. How do you curb your procrastination? I would love to learn more on how to squash it once and for all. Tweet @ me: @MichaelVFreeze or visit my IG: @mikefreeze

Thanks for listening,

CHEERS!!

 

 


Where were you?

200You’ve been gone for a long while. Like almost… two years, dude! So much has happened since LeBron came back (your last post). So what have you been doing? You get a job yet? I mean…  a real job?

I know. You were doing your thing. Just joking. Is working from home all that it’s up to be? I bet it is.

Did you know we got new neighbors? Yeah, a young couple. They are home all the time. They turned that home around. New roof, windows, they even build a wood fence around the back. It looks amazing.

Also, I got me a new gig. Well… it’s not really new. I’ve been at it for a while and I really like it. It’s challenging and fun, and there is never a dull day. That’s good for a change.

So… you haven’t told me yet. Where were you?

We haven’t seen you in so long, we felt like you dropped off the face of the earth. Thank goodness you’re doing well. You look good too. Have you been working out? I’ve been doing some P90X3. It’s helping with only a month into it. My friends hate Tony Horton, but he kicks ass! Fuck what they say. He got me in the best shape of my life. With the 20 extra pounds I gained this year, I’ll need his help again.

You’re here now and the bummer is that I’m traveling again. I have to go across the Northeast for my job. I like traveling but not as much as I used to. I miss being home more frequently than usual. However, I love talking to people. Hell… I love talking.

I got to get going. It was nice seeing you again. And don’t be a stranger. Post more. Explore. Get after it!

But before I go… where were you?

 

 

 


Week Eight Picks: I found success once I stopped worrying

There’s a passage that hangs on my office wall I read everyday after working. It allows me to take stock in the thoughts and accomplishments throughout the day.

Oftentimes you feel the need to sit down and take stock of the things in your life that you need to do better, that you need to improve, that you need to address, and this is not a bad thing.
But, when was the last time that you sat down as earnestly and as enthusiastically and took stock of all the things that you have done RIGHT?
The time you took to help others, the people you supported merely because it was the right thing to do, the right choices you made when no one was watching

There is always room for improvement in areas of your life, but there is nothing magical or superior about only focusing on the negatives, even if it is with an eye toward making them better.
Balance dictates that you look at the totality of your situation, and that includes giving credit where credit is due.
Today, take a moment to examine your life from the vantage point of what you have done right, and embrace the unique and beautiful wonder of YOU!

There are so many things that linger in my mind when decompressing from my work day. An idea pops in my head and teases me to get back on my laptop and turn it into action. I often found myself in that situation when I first started freelancing full time. I thought having this kind of routine would be beneficial of having a career that I could make my own hours and choose my own direction. Sure enough I was right, but it did come at a cost. I found success but soon learned that I sacrificed the free time I wanted to have in the first place. It was just work, work, work. What good is freedom when you’re always locked inside your Word document?

That was the time I stumbled upon that passage. I discovered that my desire for balance was lacking. It was insufficient because I didn’t have the balance of praise and criticism. There was always something to improve on or add to in my assignments. There was always one more person to call. One thought after another. And with my own fluid schedule, I thought I could knock out all of these notions and run my freelancing business smoothly. I was sadly mistaken. The one thing that I despised when working for “the man” turned out to be what I became. I was that boss that wanted more from the employee who was me.

Reading these sentences made me realize the need to have a stop and start button to my daily career hustle or else it would burn me out. Fortunately, it has made a better writer and time manager. Once I started looking at what I accomplished and not dwelling on what I could have done better or missed out on, the opportunities appeared more.  I was less stressed and not so overwhelmed when on assignment. The game came to me instead of me forcing things.

Now, my career has taken a great turn and I owe all to my change in thinking. I was always about my process as a writer and editor, but my mindset has really over the top. I’m thankful for that. I don’t know who the author of these words were but they’ve very helpful in my life. So, here’s hoping they’ll make good use for you.

Is there any passage you read daily gets you going? Comment below.

WEEK 8

(BYES: N.Y. GIANTS, SAN FRANCISCO)

Last Week: 11-3

Season: 64-40

Momentum is building… 

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 23

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS AT DENVER BRONCOS — 8:25 p.m.

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 26

DETROIT LIONS AT ATLANTA FALCONS (LONDON) — 9:30 a.m.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS AT CAROLINA PANTHERS — 1:00 p.m.

BALTIMORE RAVENS AT CINCINNATI BENGALS — 1:00 p.m.

MIAMI DOLPHINS AT JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS — 1:00 p.m.

ST. LOUIS RAMS AT KANSAS CITY CHIEFS — 1:00 p.m.

CHICAGO BEARS AT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS — 1:00 p.m.

BUFFALO BILLS AT N.Y. JETS — 1:00 p.m.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS AT TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS — 1:00 p.m.

HOUSTON TEXANS AT TENNESSEE TITANS — 1:00 p.m.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES AT ARIZONA CARDINALS — 4:05 p.m.

OAKLAND RAIDERS AT CLEVELAND BROWNS — 4:25 p.m.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS AT PITTSBURGH STEELERS — 4:25 p.m.

GREEN BAY PACKERS AT NEW ORLEANS SAINTS * — 8:30 p.m.

MONDAY, OCTOBER 27

WASHINGTON REDSKINS AT DALLAS COWBOYS — 8:30 p.m.

 


Week 7 Picks: Going Christmas Shopping, Y’all!

It’s almost Halloween. And in today’s world, that means one thing. It’s Christmas season. Since most people I know (by people, I mean Twitter followers and bloggers) are itching to bring out the holiday joy, they’ve inspired me to start planning my gift shopping. It’s never too late, right? In this case, my gift receivers are not too tech-savvy or choosy. One particular person has hinted toward something to read on or something to tell him/her where to go. So in true holiday-before-we-are-even-ready spirit, I present to you some out-loud thoughts of a Christmas pre-shopper.

E-READERS
The benefit: As our surroundings change, some things stay the same. Curling up to enjoy a good book has never gone out of style. Only the method has changed. The nifty e-reader replaces the vacation book bag along with the hassle of carrying several books around. With more public venues offering wi-fi and the access to networks, e-readers are able to store thousands of books, newspapers and magazines for your reading pleasure.
The brands:
• Amazon Kindle Paperwhite

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The biggest complaint for e-readers is the glare from sunlight that makes reading the screen challenging. The Paperwhite fixes that with a bright, white screen to keep the words in focus. It’s considered by experts as the best overall e-reader in the market. Older versions are available at an affordable price.
• Barnes & Noble Nook GlowLight
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The lightweight competitor to the Paperwhite, the GlowLight also provides plenty of light for reading as well as an rubber edge in case of any clumsy mishaps. It also holds up to 4 GBs of internal memory and eliminates page flashing (what happens to the screen when it refreshes: Think sudden bright light).
• Kobo Glo
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A lightweight alternative to the main brands of Barnes & Noble and Amazon, the Kobo Glo has a touch screen interface, an expansion slot for additional memory and compatibility with EPub files. With the Adobe DRM format available, users are able to read most e-book store-supported formats.

GPS
The benefit: It’s not your father’s road map located in the glove box. The GPS on your car’s dashboard might just be your best friend when you’re lost. Although the technology allows GPS to operate on your smartphone, these standalone devices provide audible driving directions as well as a large easy-to-read screen.
The brands:
• Garmin Nuvi 3597LMTHD
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Considered one of the best in market, the Nuvi comes in a thin metal frame with a five-inch screen. The voice command makes it easy to use and keeps your hands rightfully on the wheel. Even the directions speak in a real-world, conversational tone like “In a quarter-mile, turn left. Keep straight past the hotel and turn left at the light.”
Magellan SmartGPS
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This beefed-up GPS is in tune with all the latest networking such as wifi and Bluetooth connection. Applications like Yelp and Foursquare work hand-in-hand to provide downloaded, real-time traffic reports with fuel price data. If you have an iPhone, the SmartGPS app works for seamless integration.
• TomTom GO Live 1535M
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Labeled under “keep-it-simple,” The TomTom GO Live 1535M blends together web applications like Trip Advisor and Google to provide pinpoint destination searches. In addition to its voice command and HD Traffic service, the Twitter app allows drivers to tweet the ETA without texting.

Those are just my initial thoughts, but who knows. Things could change before Thanksgiving.

WEEK 7

Last Week: 12-2
Season: 53-37
DAMN, I’M GOOD. LET’S KEEP IT GOING!

PICKS ARE IN BOLD

(BYES: PHILADELPHIA, TAMPA BAY)

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 16
N.Y. JETS AT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS — 8:25 p.m.

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 19
ATLANTA FALCONS AT BALTIMORE RAVENS — 1:00 p.m.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS AT BUFFALO BILLS — 1:00 p.m.
MIAMI DOLPHINS AT CHICAGO BEARS — 1:00 p.m.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS AT DETROIT LIONS — 1:00 p.m.
CAROLINA PANTHERS AT GREEN BAY PACKERS — 1:00 p.m.
CINCINNATI BENGALS AT INDIANAPOLIS COLTS — 1:00 p.m.
CLEVELAND BROWNS AT JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS — 1:00 p.m.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS AT ST. LOUIS RAMS — 1:00 p.m.
TENNESSEE TITANS AT WASHINGTON REDSKINS — 1:00 p.m.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS AT SAN DIEGO CHARGERS — 4:05 p.m.
N.Y. GIANTS AT DALLAS COWBOYS — 4:25 p.m.
ARIZONA CARDINALS AT OAKLAND RAIDERS — 4:25 p.m.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS AT DENVER BRONCOS * — 8:30 p.m.

MONDAY, OCTOBER 20
HOUSTON TEXANS AT PITTSBURGH STEELERS — 8:30 p.m.


Week Five Picks: The birth of #WordofTheDay

When I was child, my mother had always brought home those punch hole notepads (used for the old Commodore 64-type printers) from her job. printer

The hospital where she was a nurse for more than three decades had many pharmaceutical drug salesmen who’d visit to give away their widgets to remind them of the new drug of the day, Zantac. Back in the 80s before stress balls and coffee mugs, the notepads were the go-to item. The doctors and nurses used them often and it was great promotion.
paper

Through time, those notepads were collected en masse and used up plenty of storage space in my attic (i.e. my old bedroom). One day, my mother did some spring cleaning and offered me a box of my childhood belongings. Those Zantac tablets were staring me in the face. But what could I use them for? The green and white lines lent themselves to some list making. Since it was December, I thought I could set up some goals for 2014: Pay off a debt; repair the house and outside; Create savings and checking; Learn a new skill; Keep in shape; Maintain and focus on my relationship; and Kill bad habits.

That was one sheet. What could I do with the rest?

It was January 1. I thought, ‘What would I need to even begin to tackle my list of goals for the year?” The good news was that I arrived at the answer. It was STRENGTH. The bad news: It was January 2. Why was it bad? That’s when I’d thought of the idea that has now become a part of routine for this calendar year. That day, I took the first word, STRENGTH and wrote an appropriate passage below it. Then the word, POTENTIAL on another sheet for the next day, and only posted the second on Facebook. The third word, COURAGE was posted on my Instagram account.

View this post on Instagram

Day Five Word

A post shared by Michael Freeze (@mikefreeze) on

The goal was to provide some encouragement for myself to conquer my goals list, but it’s slowly turning into daily goal in of itself. I wake up, think of a word and the first thing that came in my head I would write or draw. It would take me no more than 15 minutes of my time to complete. It became an exercise of positivity that was enjoyable and revved my engine for the upcoming day. Day Three turned into Four, then Day 80, Day 160, Day 250 and on and on.

I don’t get too many likes for these words, and that’s alright. I’m not trying to be famous. But it’s enjoyable to see strangers, some more famous than others, randomly stumble along their accounts and see a word. I’d get a “cool” or “That’s what I’m talking about.” and other notes of encouragement. Hey, if it gives them some motivation or inspiration to go about their day, that’s fine with me.

I don’t know what this will end up being, but all I know is that it makes me happy to pass along a message to whomever every single day. That’s it!

I do this everyday. Check them out here:

Instagram

 

What are some of the daily things you do that inspire or motivate? Comment below!

Here are my NFL picks for…

WEEK 5
Last Week: 5-8
Season: 31-31
“What the hell happened last week. Batting 500 again!”
PICKS ARE IN BOLD.
(BYES: MIAMI, OAKLAND)

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 2
MINNESOTA VIKINGS AT GREEN BAY PACKERS — 8:25 p.m.

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 5
CHICAGO BEARS AT CAROLINA PANTHERS — 1:00 p.m.
HOUSTON TEXANS AT DALLAS COWBOYS — 1:00 p.m.
BUFFALO BILLS AT DETROIT LIONS — 1:00 p.m.
BALTIMORE RAVENS AT INDIANAPOLIS COLTS — 1:00 p.m.
PITTSBURGH STEELERS AT JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS — 1:00 p.m.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS AT NEW ORLEANS SAINTS — 1:00 p.m.
ATLANTA FALCONS AT N.Y. GIANTS — 1:00 p.m.
ST. LOUIS RAMS AT PHILADELPHIA EAGLES — 1:00 p.m.
CLEVELAND BROWNS AT TENNESSEE TITANS — 1:00 p.m.
ARIZONA CARDINALS AT DENVER BRONCOS — 4:05 p.m.
N.Y. JETS AT SAN DIEGO CHARGERS — 4:25 p.m.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS AT SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS — 4:25 p.m.
CINCINNATI BENGALS AT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS * — 8:30 p.m.

MONDAY, OCTOBER 6
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS AT WASHINGTON REDSKINS — 8:30 p.m.


Week Three Picks: Our friend Amygdala

The Amygdala (ah-mig-da-la) is a son of a bitch. But it’s your friend… your almond-shaped friend. It’s only looking out for you just like a protective mother. But like her, the amygdala can take protecting to another level.

The Amygdala

Referred to as the lizard brain, the amygdala is responsible your flight or fight responses, but mainly flight. Its main function is to control your emotions and motivations. The amygdala keeps a tally on your fear, anger and negativity for the most part. It’s literarily the voice inside your head telling you to “don’t do it,” “think about it,” or “what will (so-and-so) say/think about this?”.

One trick the amygdala performs is the art of combining your memories with your certain response to those events (i.e. how you felt when the bully punched you in the stomach on your way to Drama class or when Suzie Shakespeare said no when you asked her to prom).

It compartmentalizes every emotion and stores them in the appropriate areas of your brain for later use (i.e. “Hey Michael, you remember when “that” happen, WE WON’T BE FOOLED AGAIN!!!).

The amygdala is also why we can figure out what we were doing/smelling/eating/listening to when we heard two planes crashed into the World Trade Center, when O.J. was acquitted or when you crashed into that fire hydrant.

The downside is that too much of the amygdala thinking can lead to some bad habits such as obsessing over trivial matters, becoming too critical and just making excuses for yourself.

Whether it’s exercising or trying to figure out a project at home or work, there is always some seed of doubt waiting to grow (“I can’t do this,” “This is way too hard,” “What did I get myself into?”). The amygdala, out of concern and safety, whispers these lines consistently. With every setback, it grows louder and louder until your brain goes back to reference any minor or major failure to make you feel it’s okay to quit or delay things for a while.

That, my friend, is procrastination and it keeps you from succeeding. But there’s good news. It works the other way. A string of little successes can reinforce all of the mental triggers for future references when challenged in a similar situation (i.e. you don’t put your hand over the fire because you’ll get burned or the healthy feeling you’ll have when you decide not to pick up that cigarette).

I guess I’m simplifying, but that’s the short and skinny of our maternal friend, Amygdala. You can find a more technical analysis here.

Plus, here’s a nifty video about the lizard brain and ways to conquer it.


What are some of the ways that you conquer your lizard brain? Comment below! 

WEEK 3 PICKS

Last Week: 7-9
Season: 18-14
“Back to Life, Back to Reality…”

PICKS ARE IN BOLD.

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 18

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS AT ATLANTA FALCONS — 8:25 p.m.

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 21

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS AT BUFFALO BILLS — 1:00 p.m.

TENNESSEE TITANS AT CINCINNATI BENGALS — 1:00 p.m.

BALTIMORE RAVENS AT CLEVELAND BROWNS — 1:00 p.m.

GREEN BAY PACKERS AT DETROIT LIONS– 1:00 p.m.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS AT JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS — 1:00 p.m.

OAKLAND RAIDERS AT NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS — 1:00 p.m.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS AT NEW ORLEANS SAINTS — 1:00 p.m.

HOUSTON TEXANS AT N.Y. GIANTS — 1:00 p.m.

WASHINGTON REDSKINS AT PHILADELPHIA EAGLES — 1:00 p.m.

DALLAS COWBOYS AT ST. LOUIS RAMS — 1:00 p.m.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS AT ARIZONA CARDINALS — 4:05 p.m.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS AT MIAMI DOLPHINS — 4:25 p.m.

DENVER BRONCOS AT SEATTLE SEAHAWKS — 4:25 p.m.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS AT CAROLINA PANTHERS — 8:30 p.m.

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 22

CHICAGO BEARS AT N.Y. JETS — 8:30 p.m.