March Madness

•March 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Since writing my last blog about peace of mind, my threshold for staying relaxed under duress has been tested repeatedly.

Last Wednesday for example, I spilled coffee all over my cell, essentially drowning the guy, and ten minutes later tripped over my laptop charger, all but severing the poor fella at the base of the power supply.

If it had been about an inch further, I could have easily spliced the wire and reconnected it myself. I was able however,  to patch it  back together for limited use with electrical tape with much care & caution, only for it to short circuit, melt, and do all but go up in flames before I had even got comfortable again.

As you can imagine, I was less than thrilled. More specifically, I was tilted. I wanted to break something big, and I wanted to break it good. And loud. And then break it more into little pieces. I wanted in every way to go ‘Office Space’ on a printer with a baseball bat, or better yet shoot a cannon off into an empty Starbucks.

Basically it prematurely destroyed all of my plans for the weekend, as I went into salvage mode attempting to lifehack my way to preventing the ripples from turning into rogue wave.

All of this manifested probably due to some form of unwanted stress. I was worried about plans for the next few days and was rushing around to make sure they were completed. I wasn’t exactly relaxed, and I certainly wasn’t thinking clearly. A few extra deep breaths over the course of the week or that day would have probably changed the entire course of events that happened that evening.

The subsequent effect was I dropped off the grid for like 6 days, which was actually quite refreshing. Although many friends & family had no idea where I was, since I had planned on going home for the weekend but never arrived, it was incredibly relaxing and allowed ample time for reading & reflecting.

I finished the last hundred or so pages of ‘The Odyssey of Homer’ that contained my dad’s notes from college, which was incredibly cool for me, just to see his handwriting, let alone read his thoughts from so long ago.

Over the course of the weekend, I read ‘The Isaiah Effect’ by Gregg Braden, a book about the connection between prayer and prophecy, and ‘Body Mind Mastery’ by Dan Millman, cover to cover, roughly 700 pages in 6 days or less.

As all of this happened, it felt what it must be like to snowboard big mountain powder with the force of avalanche propulsion, or surfing down the face of a tidal wave. A combination of incredibly awesome and mildly terrifying.

The reasoning for the emotions I was feeling was a combination of what I was absorbing from my situation as well as what I was reading, added with the events unfolding in the world around me.

Massive earthquake in Japan. The conflict escalating in Libya and the air strikes that would follow. All of the negative news that sends turbulence through the sails of peace.

It was eye opening.

As I walked down the street to get breakfast & coffee and reconnect with the world on Tuesday, I saw a front page headline inside a news stand.

Death Toll Climbs, Nuclear Fear Rises

A headline from a story in the USA Today on Saturday read, “Hope dwindles one week after disasters“.

One thing is clear from all of this fallout; as a species, as a civilization, and as a planet, we are headed in the wrong direction.

Quantum theory suggests that every possible outcome for these seemingly catastrophic events already exist, and the way we think about them directly effects the result.

The one thing every  ancient civilization & modern religion have in common with each other is that they all advocate that we choose which creation we experience through our own thoughts, as we all have the collective power to channel the force of our smallest emotions into great manifestations.

Usually this is done through prayer, meditation, or visualization, which all overlap and depending on your definition are essentially the same thing.

The underlying message is peace. The consequence for taking an alternate path is destruction.

With this is mind, I suggest that we all take a look inward as whole, and reconsider the direction we are moving and the things we value. It’s becoming more clearly that if we don’t engineer a shift of consciousness and the way we think, we will all suffer the same tragic fate as my departed laptop charger.


…Peace Of Mind: Priceless

•February 21, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I had originally planned on posting this blog entry during the Christmas week. My thinking at the time was that peace of mind is essentially thee single most priceless present anyone can ever gift to themselves, especially during the wonderful but stressful holiday season.

However, once it had been fully completed, the original piece still felt void of some of the dramatic inspiration I had hoped to deliver. Thus, it just sort of floated around in digital suspension until I came up with another idea, which eventually became my last post, “11 Things Everyone Should Accomplish in 2o11”.

That like all things turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because it allowed me an opportunity to do a tremendous amount of more reading & research on the proposed topic, and also experience a few events in my own life that have since contributed to my own personal perspective on the matter and feel that I am therefore more suited to help others improve in the same area.

The first event that happened was on New Year’s Day, when my family found out that my grandfather on my mother’s side had nearly lost all of his Toronto home of 40+ years to an electrical fire, one that would have surely cost him his own life had he been present at his home that afternoon. A very humbling occurrence to say the least.

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He lost essentially every material possession. Virtually everything was tainted by the poisonous smoke spit forth from the flames. Things with vast sentimental value from my late grandmother and other family members, antique furniture, and all the other treasures that he appreciated most from over the course of his long and fruitful life. The house had to be gutted and will be unlivable for several months. It is something that only makes one think – how does one possibly cope with a situation of that magnitude?

About a week later I returned to Chicago from Connecticut where I spent the holiday season with family, and began reading ‘The Things They Carried’, a collection of moving and powerful true stories that are stretched into fiction by author Tim O’Brien – once heralded by the San Francisco Examiner as “The best American writer of his generation,” – from his own deployment serving in the Army during the Vietnam War.

The book is more than just about the weapons, rations, & gear each man carried from day to day entrenched deep in the jungle, and much more about the emotional and psychological baggage that in most cases burdens each man during and after the War.

The memories from back home, the sentimental objects they each hold most dearly to keep faith or superstition alive, the thoughts that fill their heads each night while they’re laying in their foxholes of family & friends, girlfriends & wives, god and the evils that lurk in the infinite darkness of the night.

The combination of reading this incredible book just days after my family had been confronted with such a traumatic experience made me reflect on the thoughts & memories I carry with me each day; what I own and possess that is truly necessary; the relationships that are most important to me; the things in life I hold closest to my own heart.

So many of us hang onto the past, worried about how it still might cast shadow over the near future. I’m as guilty of this as anyone. But I’m also much more adept at overcoming these limiting beliefs in my head than most.

I owe much of that mental resilience to what I once thought was a far more tragic youth than most endure: my parents being divorced, the loss of my father at a much younger age (both his and mine) than most experience — and the growth I’ve made since during my short adult life.

All of that coupled with my initial martial arts training and the studies that have followed have allowed my mind to remain still while the world seemingly swirled at times violently around me.

This skill for remaining cool under duress has not developed without habitual practice and continuous, conscious improvement of patience.

In my youth although often calm on the surface my temperament was far from balanced, often getting into trouble at school and into scuffles and fights over trivial matters – someone swiping my St. Louis Cardinals off my head, or an insult directed by someone towards one of my friends.

“If an individual has a calm state of mind, that person’s attitudes and views will be calm and tranquil even in the presence of great agitation.” ~Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

It wasn’t until I had left the junior college I was attending and basketball behind, and after my father’s death, that I really started taking my own self improvement seriously. I most often spent my afternoons alone, thoroughly abusing Barnes & Nobles’ browsing policy, attacking books on philosophy & poker to help strengthen my resolve on and off the felt.

The post you find underneath this one relates to playing in PokerStars recent tournament promotion, the World Bloggers Championship on Online Poker. It was a terrific, well organized series overall that allowed ample opportunities to win many valuable Sunday major & upcoming SCOOP seats as well as other tourny buyin packages. It was a challenge the week before hand that I was truly looking forward to and spent lots of time preparing for by watching training videos and studying hand histories in order to take full advantage of.

Unfortunately, over the course of the week I experienced what would be labeled as rather excruciating variance, and although I managed to still qualify for the main event the results I produced over the course of the series were rather irrelevant. It was frustrating. I do not like losing.

What I do to cope with all the turmoil in my life, relax, and continue moving forward is a blend of daily brief meditation sessions, MMA practice and physical training, a healthy diet, consistent reading & writing, and a general optimistic outlook on life and everything in it that I appreciate with much gratitude.

“The process of clearing the mind through meditation is a priceless practice.” ~Phil Jackson, Sacred Hoops

It is very true this is easier said than done. However I thought I would share a story from a few weeks ago during that time period that helped me stay motivated and focused and also offer insight into how I keep my mind at ease during difficult stretches and moments of turmoil.

The 29th of January was a Saturday and included the last event scheduled before the WBCOOP ME the next day. It had rained gently in the early morning, {pre-winter rapture snowstorm} and although there was some snow still left on the ground, it was a relatively warm afternoon.

With my main event qualification already secure there was no thought on my mind other than winning. After a few hours of play and the bubble approaching, I got my aces cracked allin preflop for my tourny life for what would have been an above average stack.

It was dejecting. I probably threw a pen or something across the room, which is uncharacteristic of me and just sort of slumped down into the corner of the couch for a few minutes. As all players know this sort of occurrence is inevitable and happens more frequently with increased volume, but it usually still feels like you got hit in the mouth.

It’s never busting that actually bothers me, it’s knowing there were little openings and spots I could have played better, more precisely, extracting more value. If you’re not careful things like that will keep you awake at night.

I knew I needed to blow off some steam, and it was the perfect time to go for a run. I hadn’t done much cardio over the holidays in CT and the winter in the City of Wind is far from jogging friendly.

First though, I completed my DragonFire routine that I learned when I began training MMA two years ago. It’s a series of concentrated breaths and focused flexes that resembles a dragon breathing fire. If you can imagine Neo flexing and bending The Matrix after killing Agent Smith at the end of the first movie – that is how it makes you feel.

I knelt down on a couch pillow, putting my weight on my heels and closed my eyes for a few moments, doing my best to clear the clouds in my head and “just be.”

I did a set of REAL pushups and stretched briefly in the same position, then layered up in a pair of grey Champion sweats under black Champion warmup pants. I put on a black Nike Pro Combat long sleeve (ninja) under a Nike Arsenal Dri-Fit, a grey Jordan pullover hoody, a grey Nike beanie and laced up a pair of Nike running shoes.

I learned previously from my time playing college soccer @ Robert Morris to warm up properly that one should literally jog as slow as possible to keep proper form and prevent injury, and that is what I almost always do.

I started across Lincoln park, headphones underneath my hat, bumping T.I. on my Zune, heading east around North Pond and down Fullerton before cutting north along Diversey Harbor’s frozen surface.

The gravel path was wet and the small section of it where everyone had been running was sloppy with poor footing, so I decided I’d blaze my trail.

I remember seeing a dead squirrel on the path and wondering how it could have died in between trees. Not strong enough? Didn’t prepare well enough for the winter? Maybe some biker nailed it going full speed. I remember thinking ‘I won’t let that be me.’

I usually turn west once I reach the driving range and loop around back home, but I had never been any further. Something just told me to keep going.

As I continued down Belmont Trail, I remember a rather attractive young woman running by in the opposite direction who smiled. I remember thinking I should have stopped and turned around even as I kept running. Then I wondered why she didn’t stop and how I wished she would have.

I continued past picnic grove #13 and saw a couple throwing a frisbee for their dogs to chase after. I made my way through the tunnel underneath Lake Shore Drive and turned north towards the marina. I remember looking over my shoulder and thinking a car could literally fly off the road and smear me into a tree at any moment, which is the kind of thing I find funny in some sick, twisted way.

I decided at this point to just walk for a minute, as it had already been about 2 miles and I was unsure of which direction I wanted to continue. Instead of following the trail I decided to walk into the marina parking lot and towards Lake Michigan. ‘All The Above’ by Maino was playing in my ears as I walked through the blotches of grass in between snow banks wondering why I had never done this or been here before.

By this time the sun was setting behind the clouds, and the purple sky was beginning to melt over Sears Tower and the rest of the Chicago skyline. I remember seeing the lights on the ferris wheel on Navy pier.

Planes were flying in westbound over the lake in a straight line towards the airport although I’m not sure which one.

For a while I just walked along the snowy steps leading down closer to the water, listening to the surf crash softly against the barrier.

I headed down near the entrance to the marina harbor where there were two park benches facing opposite directions, both equally dangerously close to the waters’ edge and I remember thinking, ‘Maybe I’ll just stand.’

Eventually I slowly worked my way over the thin layer of ice surrounding them and sat on the one facing the city first. The colors of the clouds were starting to creep along the tall condo buildings, following the dim street lamps and traffic up along the shoreline.

I remember seeing a V of Canadian geese fly over head, and a few Mallard ducks bobbing in the water that was thinly layered with icy sheets that looked like glass.

After about 5 minutes I switched benches, and moved to the one adjacent that looked out over the inland sea. As I went to sit down, I noticed a phrase written in black across one half of the length of the wooden planks that made up the seat.

“Though I sail my ship alone, still there are mutinies.”

I stood puzzled for a moment, wondering just what the Hell this bench was trying to tell me. I sat down on the quote, mildly fascinated.

After a few minutes I remember feeling the darkness and cold of night starting to collapse around me. Satisfied with the experience, I got up and headed back in the direction which I came.

There were rabbits everywhere as I walked across the myriad of grassy patches in between the snow, and I remember thinking that’s where the term “Fuck like rabbits” comes from. As I was leaving I saw a raccoon scurry along the the yacht club dock.

I un-paused my Zune and skipped to the next random song on the play list, Jay-Z’s “Can I Live” off his first album, Reasonable Doubt. I got back onto the trail and began the slow jog back home. I remember seeing a guy heading into the underpass before me in shorts and thinking to myself “That guy is a fucking idiot.”

On I went back past the picnic groves, the driving range, and along the frozen harbor. By now the blackness of the night was true and the tune had changed to Curren$y’s ‘Invincible Jets’ as I passed the zoo and wildlife museum and crossed over into Lincoln Park in the direction of Lakeview.

As I got closer to the edge of the park I slowed to a walk, coincidentally approaching the building to the beginning of Notorious B.I.G.’s Your Nobody{Til Somebody Kills You} where Diddy recites the Lord’s Prayer.

I entered the apartment building and into the elevator, and had totally forgotten about everything that had happened earlier in the day. I felt incredible really. No stress remained from what I had previously considered a missed opportunity.

Whenever you feel suffocated by a bad day, I would encourage you to take some deep breaths. Smile. Look around and be thankful for everything you have, even if it only your life. For as long as your heart still beats you still have the power to change your misfortune into many glorious victories.

“Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.” ~Christian Larson

Think about exactly where you are. Your city, state, country, planet Earth, Milky Way galaxy, one of hundreds of millions of galaxies in a vast universe that may itself be only one of many. There are events in motion now happening across the unknown as you sit reading this that you could not even begin to imagine that are so epic and extraordinary you would be foolish to sulk over a missed traffic light or a bad test grade, a river one-outer or a disenchanting performance.

There is no wasted motion in life. No failure is ever final and you’re never defeated unless you give up and stop fighting. The journey itself is the reward. Your mind is your primary weapon. Make it your best one.

“To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.” ~Lao Tzu

Pokerstars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker

•January 19, 2011 • Leave a Comment
Online Poker

I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker! The WBCOOP is a free online Poker tournament open to all Bloggers, so register on WBCOOP to play.

Registration code: XXXXXX 436355

11 Things Everyone Should Accomplish In 2o11

•January 10, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I would be lying if I said 2010 was an awesome year for me, because it was so much more than that. It truly was an incredible journey of beyond anything I could have imagined it would be last January. As I look back on the past year, above all I’m grateful for the abundance of wonderful days & nights I experienced, both alone and in good company.

Before I present my year in review, I have designated eleven crucial things EVERYONE should accomplish in 2o11, in no particular order, to make it the best year of their life — and how I plan on going about accomplishing them as well.

1} Travel Someplace New

What are you waiting for? Go someplace new & unfamiliar you haven’t been that’s inspiring, somewhere you’ve always longed to visit.

Bora Bora, French Polynesia. Image Credit: Wallbase

I had said last year I wanted to travel abroad but never really made any true progress in completing that goal. To make sure I don’t make the same mistake, I will apply for my Canadian passport (my second, the first being American – I’m a dual citizen) and use my lineage of a British subject to gain extended visas to places such as the UK or Australia, something that is more difficult to maneuver while traveling under a US passport.

2} Face A Fear & Conquer It

Terrify the hell out of yourself so much that you will want to do it again. Think how you’ll feel after emerging on the other end of the tunnel victorious over what you were scared of most.

Feed your speed. Image credit: Wallbase

When I was younger, lots of my friends had dirt bikes. I rode on occasion, but never as much as I would have liked to. Something about riding them made me feel so incredibly uncertain as to what might happen that I felt strangely comfortable. I’ve always loved motorcycles, Ducati’s specifically, I suppose for the same reason people like Ferrari’s. So this year, I will learn to ride one, the proper way, hopefully enrolling in some form of safety course to begin with, and start slowly.

3} READ. Educate Yourself/More Mental Exercise

When you stop reading, you stop learning. It’s that simple.

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”~Mahatma Gandhi. Image credit: Wallbase

I did a checklist the past two years where I read 12 books in 12 months. I actually probably be read closer to 20 cover to cover. This year I push it to 15 in 12 months, with the expectation I’ll hopefully read 20+, and will track my progress each month.

4} More Physical Exercise

If you look at yourself in the mirror and don’t like what you see physically, then change it! You only live once, wouldn’t you rather live in the physique you always wished that you’d have? Stop dreaming about it and start designing it! Simply doing five push ups every morning for one whole week is still progress. See how much better you feel afterward, then keep building on it!

There are no limits. Image credit: Wallbase

I’m terribly inflexible in my lower half of my body. However the one thing I can and will do as often as possible to change this is stretch right when I get up, and work on my Tae Kwon Do slow kicking techniques everyday. I feel 20x better after I do both every time, it’s just all about creating momentum to do it every single day.

5} More Spiritual Exercise

This one can be tricky, just because it doesn’t necessarily have any religious connotations, although it easily can. Whatever makes you feel like a stronger and more balanced person. It can mean going to church more often, meditating or praying more, or lending a helping hand to a person in need.

Image credit: Wallbase

Life is a spiritual journey no matter how you look at it. I did not truly realize this until I began training and studying martial arts – an activity that totally altered the course of my life and my thought process. I will continue to explore the power of meditation, visualization, and breathing techniques, which help me tremendously in diverting all of the negative energy in the world around me.

6} Improve at Something You’re Passionate About

It doesn’t matter how bad you suck at it. If you love golf but are awful, hit more range balls. If you love basketball but are terrible, shoot around more. If you want to become a best-selling author but are afraid your writing sucks, just fucking keep doing it anyway. There’s not really any point in doing it half-ass either.You’re only going to get better at something by doing it with focused repetition. Make a conscious effort to practice and study this skill you want to possess and don’t let anything stop you from improving at it everyday.

Rekindle the flames for your passions. Image credit: Wallbase

I love snowboarding. Maybe it’s because I was so dreadful at skiing I almost killed myself in the act on numerous occasions. More than that I just enjoy the hell out of the experience and rush. There are few things I would rather do in the morning than gear up, throw on some headphones and head up the chairlift. Something about chilled speed spread over glowing snow screams freedom inside of me. However I hardly ever go, and I hate it. This year I’m going to spend at least one week snowboarding, whether it’s consecutive or individual days.

7} Immerse Yourself In Another Culture

Learn a new language, study the anthropology of a civilization you’ve always been curious about, move someplace different, or even just spend a day across town. Talk to different people than usual, ask more questions, see things through the eyes of others.

My obsession with Japanese culture is evident by my laptop background. Image credit: Wallbase

I took Spanish for four years in high school {and I think French four days?}, and I barely know shit about it. And I hate it. I wish I would have taken learning it more seriously. So this year, I’m going to get better at both languages. Part of this stems from my desire to travel. More than anything I just want to be able to better understanding of a wider range of people.

8} Create a Work of Art

This can be as simple as just doodling on your paper more, something that is, contrary to popular belief of most teachers, mega productive as a mental exercise. Whatever you’ve always enjoyed most about art, whether it’s painting, drawing, graphic design, or pottery, do it for yourself. Start writing a novel or keeping a blog. Create something you’re proud of.

Your potential is infinite. Image credit: Wallbase

Now while I’ll certainly be doing this in a lot of different ways this year with clothing design, I’ve always wanted to get a tattoo that’s meaningful. There’s something about the idea of enduring pain and channeling it to create art that has always intrigued me. I have quite a few ideas for my first ink session, and will certainly document it for everyone to share.

9} Get Rid of Shit You Don’t Really Need

This might be the biggest gateway to your happiness on this list. You don’t need probably 2/3 of the useless material novelty items you own. If you want to keep things with sentimental value, i.e. heirlooms, that’s fine. But get rid of clothes you don’t wear, stuff you don’t use, etc., etc. It will be a huge burden off your back, and you’ll feel much more organized. Give these items to people who have little and will actually appreciate them like a brick of gold. Two of my favorite quotes sum up this philosophy perfectly.

“One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not the daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity.”
— Bruce Lee

“Perfection is not when there is no more to add, but no more to take away.”
— Antoine De Saint-Exupery (The Little Prince)

Get cape. Wear cape. Fly. You need far less than you think. Image credit: Wallbase

Last year I sold my first car that I loved dearly – a 2004 Chevy Imapala – gave a bunch of my clothes to Goodwill, ditched my ginormous black suitcase and stuffed everything I wanted and needed into two bags. I’ve never been happier. And even now I still feel like what I possess can be overwhelming. I still have clothes I don’t wear that often, or books I’ve finished reading. I’ll continue giving these things away to people who can use them and need them more than I do.

10} Challenge Yourself to Achieve Something Unachievable

This is a wonderful thing to pursue, because 99% of the time falling short will still leave you with incredible accomplishment. For instance, if you said you wanted travel around the world, but only made it halfway, it would still be an amazing experience right? Don’t just set goals that are kinda easy that you know you’re capable of doing, because there’s little motivation to achieve them that way. Instead aim as high as possible in hope that you’ll climb far above what you ever thought yourself possible of.

The trail is steep. There is no path. Pack light. Image credit: Wallbase

There’s a lot of room here for dream weaving, but I want to do something that far exceeds something that will only effect me personally. So my “unachievable” goal is to donate $100,000 dollars to the poker branch of Prevent Cancer Foundation, Bad Beat on Cancer. I set the number so high because even if I only manage to raise a sliver of it, it’s still a tremendous achievement for me and far exceeds anything I’ve ever done before.

11} Seek Positivity!

Inspiration is all around us. Personally I find it in quotes, movies, people, nature, or even just by taking a deep breath. Stop setting limits for yourself. Only think about endless abundance. Banish words like can’t from your vocab. Never say you don’t have time, or make excuses for your lack of progress. More importantly, don’t ever ever listen to someone who tells you wont accomplish something you want badly. Add this log to your inner fire and keep moving forward. Surround yourself with people who are equally optimistic and things that are uplifting, and you too will soar soon enough.

Ride the wave of positive energy! Image credit: Wallbase

Sometimes this means having to leave behind something, someplace, or someone you care about because it’s not having the proper influence on you. Don’t let that stop you. Go to wherever, whatever, or whomever your intuition tells you will have the most positive effect on you. This year, I want to travel to places and visit people that will broaden my horizons, even if it means leaving the beautiful city of Chicago behind, if only temporarily.

Beer & Pwning Turkey

•December 1, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Touched down in Hartford last Monday afternoon prior to Thanksgiving after connecting in Philly from Chicago O’Hare. It’s been awesome to be in New England so far after being away for almost exactly a year.

My trip sure as hell could have gone smoother though.

After doing all my packing Sunday night I left the apt at 7am sharp in the morning. Got some breakfast and coffee, read a little bit and jotted some notes down before heading towards the purple El line at Fullerton a little before 9.

However, soon after I left it started fucking pouring rain, so much so I might as well have showered in my gear. At least my Swiss Legend watch is waterproof. Coincidentally it seemed to stop almost as soon as I got on. I run goot.

I changed over to the blue line at Clark & Lake, which runs all the way to O’Hare, the last stop. Got my boarding passes from U.S. Air kiosk with the quickness and got into line for security.

Damnit, I need, +like a G6+.

Obviously got ‘randomly’ selected to go thru the heavy scanner{SMB TSA}, where they have you throw up the Roc Dynasty sign with your hands for a solid minute or two while they violate your Constitutional rights. Thanks a lot, bin Laden.

At this point I haven’t even boarded my 1st flight and I’m ready for my day’s travel to be over. After a short delay we were wheelin down the runway and I was preparing for as good as an airborne nap as you can have when you feel like you just got out of the pool.

About halfway thru the flight the beverage cart was coming around. I got a Coke & a black coffee because I’m hardcore like that. Of course at this point I’m finally starting to feel moderately dry, when the guy to my right spills his soda all over my lap, barely getting anything on himself.

For a moment, the scene in ‘Air Force One’ flashes thru my head when Harrison Ford punches that terrorist in the face and says “GET OFF MY PLANE.”

However, I politely accepted his apology in cool, calm ninja-fashion and noted how I had already been drenched for the last 5 hours and that another little while wouldn’t kill me.

I suppose my “luck” changed at that point because as we pulled into gate B7 upon arrival in Phila, I realized my connection gate to Hartford was at B8. Finally, I win a showdown.

Spent the next flight recluse inside my hoody until we touched down at Bradley Int’l, which is actually in Windsor Locks, not Hartford, and just a stone’s throw from my mother’s house where I lived from the time I was about 5 til I moved back to IL when I was 15.

Fall is really quite beautiful in the Northeast, at least more so than the Midwest. Perhaps it has something to do with the landscapes and the supreme lack of any of the seemingly infinite flatness and fields you expect to see driving anywhere between the Appalachians and Rockies.

My first night here I didn’t do much at all except meet up and blz with a few buddies a grew up with. Always great coolin out with old friends.

Thanksgiving day was really quite wonderful.

In the morning my older bro arrived from NYC, and myself, siblings, and stepdad went to see the new Harry Potter, which has sorta become a tradition every year. As Jonah Hill notes in ‘Funny People’, Harry is looking a little old, they should start calling him Harold Potter.

By the time we returned my uncle, cousin, godfather and his daughter were waiting for us after making the trip down from Ontario {that’s in Canada, folks} during the morning.

Before long booze was flowing and we were sitting down in front of a truly excellent selection of dishes, including my all-time fav, Jell-O salad; a dessert so incredible describing it in writing will do it no justice.

My plate was filled with all of your standard holiday courses: turkey, mashed potatoes w/ gravy, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and several other things I’m probably just now burning off.

More than anything it was just nice to be with the fam and enjoy a nice home cooked meal for the first time in far too long.

Basically everyday since then has been spent consuming leftovers with reckless abandon and downing Crown Royal & Dr. Pepper. Sick lyfe.

Now that everyone, friends & fam alike, have returned to where they currently reside, my focus now shifts from epic daily intoxication to No Chop with a ninja’s dedication.

Being out of the city for a month and away from distractions allows me to work out with much more tenacity than I have been able to muster recently, something that is long overdue.

It also gives me a quieter environment to entrench myself in so that I can spend more time studying hand histories, VT vids, and other poker content that will help me make more diligent improvements to the game that I’ve spent a couple of months away from while putting together No Chop Poker’s first wave of hoody’s.

Anyway, my last weekend in Chicago for a month leading up to my travel was a blast.

Saturday afternoon I made the long trek on foot from Lakeview/Lincoln Park into the depths of the dreaded Wrigleyville to see one of my best friends from high school who was back in Illinois after returning from teaching English in Korea for over a year.

Our plan was to head downtown to watch the Festival of Lights parade & fireworks once another one of our friends from high school arrived after making the drive up from Springfield.

We stopped and got coffee at Starbucks – which I hate – to mix with a couple pints of Jim Beam we picked up, and I must say, whiskey with a Caramel Apple Spice latte is relatively amazing.

We hopped on the L but when we got downtown, realized we had spent too much time preparing our hot booze concoctions, and had missed the entire duration of well, everything.

Coincidentally we bumped into my childhood neighbors’ fiance – another hs classmate – and headed to a random restaurant where it just so happened, much to everyone’s surprise, one of my dearest friends I hadn’t seen or talked to in what seemed like ages was bar tending.

Ordered some food & drinks before heading off to a place called Absinthe Cafe that is well disguised as a bar called The Tavern. Weird.

Most of the time spent there is a blur of Budweiser, bombs, & the Blackhawks torching the Canucks for 7 goals.

At some point, presumably between 11pm & 2am, we went around the corner…or took a cab, I have no idea…to some other late night lounge in Wicker Park where the beer flowed like wine.

When we decided to leave, someone I was with bumped into a group of people they knew, and I ended up smoking a joint on the sidewalk with some 40-something hipster like it was going out of style. NBD.

As awesome as it has been living in the City of Wind the past few months, I like traveling because it keeps you from getting too comfortable. While I already miss walking the city blocks & deep dish pizza, it’s refreshing to switch things up a bit.

When you get into too much of a routine, I feel like it keeps your mind from stretching into new dimensions.

I never thought when I was younger I could or would be living in a major city. I never really liked being in one for more than a day; it seemed too chaotic and stressful. But after spending the last two summers in Las Vegas, I realize now that there’s nothing more exciting than venturing deep into a place that is unknown and unfamiliar. You’ll never grow if you don’t live a little dangerously, take risks, and travel down the path less traveled.

You only live once. You only get to write one story. Make it one worth retelling.

Zune Top 5
1} I’m Number 1 by Nelly ft. Baby & DJ Khaled
2} Ghost! by KiD CuDi on Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager
3} The Catalyst by Linkin Park on A Thousand Suns
4} Gorgeous by Kanye West on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
5} No Hands by Waka Flocka Flame ft. Roscoe Dash & Wale on Flockaveli

November Mist

•November 12, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I cant help but feel surrounded by an orb of awesome energy everywhere I go. Living in Chicago has been inspiring above all else.

It’s made me want to engage things with much more purpose and approach things as if I’m on a mission to increase my influence all around me.

Finding motivation in from other places is easy for me – music, nature, fashion, sports, famous quotes – and it’s something I’m determined to continue to be proactive at.

I think the most important element you can draw inspiration from is appreciation. When you appreciate all the things you have and are fortunate enough to experience instead of fretting over what you do not have, you realize just how abundant your world really is.

I read this great quote recently on The Positivity Blog, and made me realize how much harder I need to keep pushing myself to improve and really take my discipline in all aspects of my life to another level.

“Inspiration is wonderful when it happens, but the writer must develop an approach for the rest of the time…The wait is simply too long.” ~Leonard Bernstein

Reading is essential because you can learn in short time knowledge that someone else labored long and hard for. You stop learning when you stop reading.

I did the 12 books in 12 months experiment to see if it fired up my desire to read more and it definitely has. I recommend it to anyone and everyone. Even if it’s three in three months, six in six, etc. etc., it can still be a very effective tool to improve your reading and learning on all levels.

12 Books in 12 Months Progress

1} A Brief History of the Paradox: Philosophy & the Labyrinths of the Mind by Roy Sorenson
2} Outstanding by John G. Miller
3} A World of Ideas by Chris Rohman
4} This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men & Women by Jay Allison & Dan Gediman
5} All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum
6} Secret Tactics by Kazumi Tabata {reread}
7} Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky
8} Linchpin by Seth Godin
9} The Little Black Book on Violence by Kris Wilder
10} Brains On Fire by Robbin Phillips
11} How Did I Get Here? by Tony Hawk

Recently I wrote a vision manifesto on paper to help me visualize my dreams with more clarity, an excellent activity for planning out the things you wish want will become.

Then, you can transfer it to the digital level. Mine looks like this:

Make No Chop Poker the best poker ninja apparel in the history of the universe/Earn $1m/Become a multimillionaire/Give $10,000 to Bad Beat on Cancer{1% of $1m}/Sponsor myself in a $10k major/Sponsor someone else in a $10k major/Spend 2 months studying MMA in Japan/Watch an Arsenal game @ Emirates Stadium in London/Get multiple tattoos/Spend a winter snowboarding in Colorado/Drive from ocean to ocean/Go backpacking/Jump out of a perfectly good airplane{with a parachute}/Learn to fly a plane/Open a restaurant and bar/Start a golf cafe/Buy a European sports car/Visit French Polynesia/Learn to scuba dive/Make a movie/Complete a survival and tracking course/Become fluent in Spanish and French/Earn a Microsoft certification/Experience the rain forest/Live in NYC if only briefly/Learn to drive standard and take stunt driving course/Start a scholarship/Write a self-help Ebook/Write a novel/Ride a Ducati/Become a scratch golfer/Own a handgun/Get a Windows 7 phone/Become a true blog ninja/Have a $20k day in poker/Have a $20k week in poker/Have a $20k month in poker/Go hunting/Become awesome at bow staff/Have a Guinness in Ireland/Spend an April 20th in Amsterdam whilst enjoying an Amstel/Drink at Octoberfest in Germany/Experience Burning Man! in Las Vegas/

Don’t you think if I did half of those things in my lifetime, it would be pretty fucking awesome?!?!?!

The key is not to set a ceiling or any limitations for yourself. Be bold. Just because it’s highly unlikely for you to be a billionaire shouldn’t stop you shooting for it and moving closer to that goal or thinking that you’re great enough to become one. DON’T SELL YOURSELF SHORT.

Note:: since I wrote that manifesto sometime last week, I ordered a Samsung Focus Windows 7 phone!! 🙂

“Know what you want to do, hold the thought firmly and do every day what should be done, and every sunset will see you that much nearer the goal.” ~Elbert Hubbard

More than anything on the planet I want to spread my influence on poker outside and in by changing the way you see and imagine the players in the game. It just so happens I found a way I can do that and help fight cancer at the same time. This is what I want. These are my goals.

Goals dictate strategy. Strategy dictates tactics. Tactics dictate techniques.

I can’t even put into words how excited I truly am to finally have No Chop Poker gear pressed and on my own as well as the rest of the ninja clan’s back. Perhaps the achievement of mine I’m most of proud of, along with the commitment with Prevent Cancer Foundation to give 1% of all profits to it’s poker branch Bad Beat on Cancer.

All anyone really wants in life is to do be able to do all of the cool things that they enjoy and love. If you’re not doing that then what are you really doing??

“I’m tired of hearing about money, money, money, I just want to play the game, drink Pepsi, wear Reebok.” ~Shaquille O’Neal

When I first read this I almost died laughing!! But the more I thought about it the more I realized just how true this it is. Say what you want about Shaq but he enjoys the Hell outta what he does, and isn’t shy about telling you about it.

Here’s to living your dream!

Zune Top 5
1} Marijuana by Kid Cudi on Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager
2} Radioactive by Kings of Leon on Come Around Sundown
3} The Cafe by Zee Piff on The Doom Generation
4} Everlasting Light by The Black Keys on Brothers
5} King Kong by Curren$y on Pilot Talk

Great Heights & Shadows

•October 29, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I woke up this morning before sunrise only just as my friends were stumbling drunkenly through the door after a long night/morning of pumpkin carving and alcohol-infused partying. I neglected to go out because I knew more than anything I needed to get some damn stuff done today. Mission Accomplished.

Living in {the real} Gotham City the past couple months has been absolutely spectacular. Lincoln Park is a truly wonderful place to live; I meet new and interesting people almost on a daily basis and there’s beautiful women around every corner. It’ll be cool once @brin1285 moves up here…it’s the perfect place for No Chop to set up a legit base outside of Sin City.

Needless to say life is a bit more fast paced up here. I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been boozing at the bars more than usual. One thing is for sure, Chicago likes pizza and beer way more than Las Vegas does.

My most difficult challenge since moving here has been finding a steady balance between physical training, partying, poker studies, keeping up on my writings and working diligently at improving the prowess of No Chop Poker.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the months developing all of these elements of my lifestyle it’s that it takes a lot of discipline and commitment.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you being an entrepreneur and bootstrapping your own business is going to be easy — it is truly a very lonely pursuit the vast majority of the time. You must spend countless hours in your own zone figuring out which path out of many is the right one to take. Often you will be wrong several times before finally finding the best route for you.

You will also quite frequently be confronted by disappointment, perhaps by those you were counting on most for guidance and council.

People will let you down. Things will fall through. Ideas you once thought would bear fruit will wilt before your eyes.

However, you cannot let this deter you in your quest OR let it waver your focus. If anything, it provides a chance – if only briefly – to regain your composure and acquire some clarity of vision.

This allows you to accumulate some momentum, as you advance more confidently towards the summit of your goal that you seek. Any obstacle that stands in your way at this point offers only education in how to overcome difficulties and the constitution it takes to evolve above and beyond such circumstances.

It’s been an amazing ride thus far in the quest to create and sculpt this dream of mine. I’m very excited to announce that if all goes as planned in the coming weeks than I should be revealing a sneak peak of the first wave of hoodys as the holiday season grows closer. If you simply cannot wait for the store to open up online than get in contact with me and I’ll see if I can whip you up something special!

No Chop For The Win!

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