The Leap

It may come as a surprise to some of you [it will not come as a surprise to anyone], but I have always been a risk-taker. I live life on the edge – because the view is always better from the edge, despite it being a little more dangerous.

So anyone that knows me knows that I am willing to try just about anything at least once.

Including skydiving [thrice, actually].

Actually, my first time flying in an airplane, about 4 or 5 years ago, I jumped out of it. I went again a couple of years later. And two weeks ago [the reason for this post], I just went jumping out of a plane for a third time.

Now for those that say, “Why would you jump out of a perfectly good airplane?!” It’s ok … I made the pilot scream “FIRE!!” before we jumped out, so I’m not completely sure the plane was perfectly good. I mean, how can I know it wasn’t really on fire?
Tim McGraw Anyway, I went skydiving (queue Tim McGraw song), and I was reminded of my first experience with the extreme sport. It made me feel a way that I can only express as “life changing.”

I’ll explain.

Jumping out of a plane at 10,000 ft. in the air is feeling that can’t truly be explained. The only actual way you will ever know what it felt like is to do it yourself – which I understand is out of the question for most people. So that’s why I am going to try my best to explain the experience, as well as the existentialism behind it, and how it changed my life.


There’s just something about simply making the decision to do something so dumb and dangerous as skydiving – but I think it’s just like any big decision in life. Maybe you hate your job and you decide to quit; or you have an idea for a business and you decide to begin; or you fall in love and you decide to get married. It all starts with a cognitive decision. You know what you want to do, so you decide you’re going to do it – despite any obstacles that may arise, and despite not exactly knowing what the next step is.

It begins with that decision.

And truth-be-told, the decision to do what you set out to accomplish must be a constant decision. Because throughout all the other steps, there will be ample time and opportunity to stop, so this step is really automatically intertwined into each of the next steps.

Because you always have to make the decision to keep going.


Whether you call ahead and make an appointment with the skydiving facility or simply call friends and say “hey, we doing this or what?” the decision has been made and the appointment proves that it isn’t just a thought.

:::I made a decision and an appointment … I gonna freakin’ jump out of an airplane!:::

In the context of life, after a person makes the decision to do something, he/she has to decide on a timetable – when the execution will take place. At this point, the action is still a work in progress; the “planning phase,” if you will. It still has not become a reality outside of one’s own mind, but the reality is getting closer.


So the date finally comes, and your anxiety has built up over the last couple of days because you know you’re about to do something that could possibly kill you, yet you’re still willing to move forward with said activity (or maybe you have no anxiety, just excitement – don’t worry, the anxiety will come at some point).

In life, once you’ve made your mind up about something big and you go through the planning phase, there’s not much else to do until you actually make your first real, tangible move.

With skydiving, the first tangible move is getting in your car and arriving at the drop zone/airport where you will begin the ascent.


Now this is a very important step in the process of skydiving – this is the time, before you even step foot on the airplane, where you learn what it is you’re getting yourself into. A trained instructor tells you the inherent dangers of the tandem jump (oh, yeah that’s right, on your first jump, you’re not alone. There’s a professional that jumps with you – the person is strapped tightly to your back and he/she is the one that has control of the parachute). Of course you know there’s a possibility of serious injury or death … it’s skydiving! But he also tells you the best way to avoid danger – which is simply by following certain rules and going through specific motions which he teaches you.

This is a very important step in skydiving, and it should be important in life as well. When you prepare to make a big move in your life and have followed the steps thus far, seek counsel. There is someone who has been there before, someone who can walk you through what to expect and how to make it to the end safely.

Find that person. They are always more than willing to help.

Also, in this analogy, the professional is actually God. So if you can’t find someone to speak to about your mission, talk to God; seek His guidance and read His word.


walking to the plane
walking to the plane

Now it becomes real.

Heading to the airplane is exciting – because you know you’re not going to come down the same way you go up.

You understand that you are about to embark on something that many deem “crazy,” but you still, for some reason, feel the need to complete what you’ve started in your mind – your ultimate goal is simply to get back to the ground, but you know when you do, you will somehow be different.

So you board the plane.

So, in life, you have been in preparation for your journey, whatever your journey may be. This is the step where that journey goes from being only a mental thing to actually beginning.


While on the plane, there’s not much really happening physically, but mentally, this is where a rush of extreme excitement and anxiety and happiness and fear and more excitement and wonder rush through your entire body all at the same time.

Of course, you try to play it cool.


It’s a time where you can relax … if you could! But you’re about to jump out of an airplane, so you’re not relaxed, how could you possible relax at a time like this?!

The plane ascends.

At a certain point (we were jumping at 10,000 ft.), the professionals look down at their altimeter to determine how high we are and begin to physically prepare for the jump. They get uncomfortably close and strap your body harness onto theirs and tighten it to ensure your safety.

I feel like the professional skydiver represents God. He knows when the right time to leap is and He will do everything He can to ensure that you will be safe. There may be times when things get tight and a little uncomfortable, but it’s all for your own safety. You simply have to trust that He knows what he’s doing and He won’t let you down.



The pro told me to scoot forward, toward the open door as we neared the jump altitude (this was the most exhilarating part for me). I looked out the open door, into the clouds and sky ahead and the earth way below as I followed his directions.

He pointed to a small step – the one we used to step onto the plane – and told me to place my feet on that step. I did. My feet felt like they engulfed that tiny piece of metal, so that all I saw was my feet followed by the earth 10,000 ft below. The image is forever etched in my mind.


That’s the realest moment. The moment you’re halfway out the door and you realize there’s no ground to jump onto … just air.

It’s really the perfect metaphor. You’ve decided to take a step of faith and do something you know people may not completely understand; or something that seems crazy; yet something you deem necessary to add to the happiness and excitement of your life.

So you step out in faith after hearing what God has to say and after He tells you it’s OK to do so.

Then you hear Him say “OK, are you ready?”

And you say, “What??!!! $#*@ NOOO!!” in your head but because you’ve come this far and you have your foot out the door and you’re assured He’s got you and you’re safe and you made the decision to go through with this, you actually utter the words “Yeah, let’s do this.”


Then you jump.


And no words can truly express the feeling of that leap. It’s not like a rollercoaster’s first drop. It’s not like jumping from a high dive. It’s not like the pinnacle of a trampoline bounce.

It’s different.

The first two seconds are breathtaking. Literally, I couldn’t breathe.

I think it was the flip out of the plane that caused my core to tighten so I couldn’t breathe, but after the initial shock of jumping from an airplane, I took a deep breathe. And as the cold air of 10,000 feet in the sky filled my lungs, I felt like I was flying.


I was flying.

And there was absolutely nothing I could do but enjoy the ride.

Seriously … at the point of dropping/flying, everything is out of your hands. It’s the pro’s job to pull the ‘chute at the right time – all you have to do is remember the instruction you were given earlier and do your best to put your arms and legs in the correct position. But your main objective at this point is to, simply, enjoy the ride.

Once you take that leap, you have to put your complete trust in the guy on your back.

That’s faith!

Once you’ve taken that leap of faith in life, you can do nothing but trust that God is going to take care of you.

*This is the concept that changed my life

Once you decide to do something and you know God is with you in your decision, you MUST trust that He will pull the ‘chute in time. You MUST trust that He will protect you and safely guide you to your destination.

When you’re in the air, there is literally nothing you can do aside from completely submit to the will of the pro. But in life, we try to take control after we’ve leaped – and that’s why things go wrong! If I freaked out in the air and started trying to reach back and grab the parachute cord, I would be putting my actual life in severe danger, AND my tandem partner’s life. [In the event someone does start flailing about, I’d imagine the pro would have to knock the person out in order to save both their lives, but I don’t know the protocol there.]

Skydiving taught me that not only do I need to take chances in life, but that I need to completely put my faith and trust in God, and that when He says He’s going to do something, I have to trust Him and completely submit to His will, or else I put myself in danger.


Then, the parachute opened.


The most exhilarating part was over. Now I was just dangling in the sky, looking around at the clouds and the sea and the streets and the homes and land below me.


There was a peace. I had trusted the guy on my back and he pulled the parachute cord and was guiding me to safety.

Once you’ve taken your leap of faith and have trusted God, at some point there comes a peace – the Word calls it a “peace that passes all understanding” – which makes sense because technically you’re still in the sky, but because the parachute has opened, you just know everything is going to be fine. It’s smooth sailing from this point on.

At this point you’re able to relax, but you understand that God is in control. You are safe as long as you are tied to him. He also takes joy in seeing you relax at this point and you are able to talk, laugh and have fun.

See, while you were freefalling, before the parachute was opened, you didn’t have any say – you had to follow instructions in order to be safe and everything was out of your control. You might hear the guy on your back bark an order, but you knew it was for your safety, so you did it, and you did it swiftly.

Now, you’re floating. It’s quiet in the sky, so you’re able to hold some semblance of a conversation if you want to. You might even have the chance to point to a cloud and say, “can we go through that cloud?” And he’ll bring you to a fun detour on your way down. You may do some spins. He may even let you take control of the reins for a short while and let you steer.


God wants us to have fun with our lives. If we are moving into a new season in life, we have to take leaps and fully trust and obey Him. On the way down, He might allow us to dictate a few things that we desire, because He loves us and wants to see us happy.

But in the end, He has to be the one in control so that we arrive at our destination and land safely.

Once I discovered the skydiving method of doing life, I began stepping into worlds I never thought I’d have opportunities to be in. I joined a band. I quit my job. I started a non-profit organization and traveled to Africa – all because I started unabashedly claiming things in life that I desired and listening to God, taking steps of faith and allowing God to take the lead.

That is how skydiving changed my life.

And whether or not you ever go skydiving yourself, I pray that my experience with skydiving – after reading this – has changed your life as well.



So … I’m homeless.

I recently visited my family in Gulfport, Mississippi (where I grew up) and a reality hit me: I began to realize that I don’t really consider that place to be my home anymore.

I mean, I moved away from Mississippi to the Baton Rouge, La., area 10 years ago, so that’s understandable, right? But the thing is, I don’t consider Baton Rouge/Port Allen to be home either. It’s more like a pit stop on my way to wherever home is.

Wherever home is.

It really started to sink in when I was at “home” in Mississippi and visited the church I grew up attending. The same thing happened during this trip that happens each time I go back – people see me and talk to me; they ask questions about how life is going, what I’ve been doing, why I’m not married yet… And then the kicker (it always comes), “When are you moving back here?”

To which I either reply with something like a “never” or a silent shrug accompanied by an eye-roll.

That may seem harsh to some. But truly, I don’t plan to go back. It’s not home.

Home is a place where your main sources of inspiration and support exist. Now sure, I have family and friends in Mississippi, but I’ve come to understand most of my inspiration comes from many places (everywhere, really) – and I’ve come to realize that sometimes I just have to do life without worrying about having the support of most people around me, or who I grew up around.

If I were relying on the support of others, I would have quit life a long time ago.

So home is nowhere right now (or everwhere?).

I feel like I was created for something big. I have a meaningful purpose. Each time I go home, I’m reminded of where I came from, which is not a bad thing. But it IS a bad thing when the people I once knew and had relationships and friendships with still see me as the same person I was years ago.

I’ve grown exponentially as a person in the last few years, and though I may appear to be the same on the outside, internally, there’s a lot more going on.

Have you ever had a family member – maybe a cousin or grandparent – come to you after not seeing you for years, and expect you to be the same little child you once were?

I have a family photo hanging in my living room. I look at it everyday and see my family; my parents, siblings and their families.

If I remained away from my family for an extended period and only saw that photo, never seeing the growth of my nephews and my niece, my expectations of how they look, speak and act would be drastically misshapen if I expected them to stay the children they are in that photo.

My uncle started calling me “Meatball” when I was around the age of 11, because I was short and chubby. When I turned 13, I hit a major growth spurt and grew six inches in one summer. All my baby fat was gone, and I slimmed up. Throughout the years, I’ve competed on athletic teams, including playing college football – and I’ve maintained a very healthy physique. At one point I was down to a mere 3% body fat.

Through all of that time, and even now when he sees me, that uncle still calls me “Meatball.”

That is not me anymore, and you can tell by my outward appearance.

A change happened in a short amount of time that caused me to no longer be able to identify with an identity that a specific person had for me.

And therein lies the issue – other people have created/maintained identities for me that I, myself, no longer identify with.

And that’s why I have no place to really call home.

It’s why I will not go back to live in Mississippi. I’m a completely different person than I was 10 years ago, but all most see is the 20-year-old prankster who has some talents, a good head on his shoulders and a bit of potential.

More than 10 years ago, I was in a band that recorded two albums. I can remember during the recording process of an album, I was pushing to get members of the band to allow me to sing a particular song (I had been told before recording that I would be singing during this album).

But without a second thought, all my effort was in vain as I was told, “your voice isn’t strong enough for this song,” or “maybe a different song later on.”

But the thing is … It was. I knew my voice would fit the song well, but no one had faith in me other than myself. In the end, my voice went unheard (literally and figuratively).

It was that day that I realized that other people’s opinions and expectations of me were not high, and that in order for me to have true growth in the gifts I believe God gave me, I’d have to cultivate them elsewhere.

And my “home” began to get further and further from the home that I knew.

Fast-forward to the present, and here I am, without a home. But I feel like it’s a great place to be. In my homelessness, I have realized that I have the unique ability to notice when other people are in the same situation, and create a place of refuge.

I have taken notice of people that have become downtrodden from the rigors of work, or church, or simply the expectations of others, and I’ve been able to extend a hand of friendship.

Which brings this post to a head – I now understand that sometimes we go through rough patches in life simply so we can be a place of refuge for other people that are going through those same things.

My Christian mindset tells me that God allowed me to go through certain hurts, pains and pangs by myself because He knew I could handle it alone – and He allowed me to go through things to help others who can’t go through it alone.

So, if nothing else, let this rambling be an encouragement to you. Everyone journey has rough roads, and some even have quicksand. Once you’ve gotten passed your rough road, help others get across as well, and help people to get out of the quicksand so that we can all continue, together, on this wonderful journey of life.

Just an update

I haven’t had a new blog entry in quite a while [thanks, Capt. Obvious].

Capt Obvs

I tend to have great ideas and not actually go through with them. To me, that’s my biggest weakness – I’m not a finisher.

I have about four books I have opened and started reading, but haven’t finished. I have corners in my home that remain unpainted from when I painted in 2010. I have lyrics and melodies to songs I’ve had in my head for years, but never took the time to try to develop them into anything more.

It’s an issue. I know it. And I’m working on it.

But in the sense of this blog, I think it was more about what I was doing than what I wasn’t doing.

For anyone familiar with me, you know that I was the editor at the West Side Journal newspaper for more than seven years. Before that I worked for the Sun Herald, the Daily Reveille and the Advocate newspapers.

For years, I had story assignments. I had to write this, photograph that; and I always had specific times each assignment needed to be completed. Dreaded deadlines.


And at the Journal, it was a new article each week (which beats daily assignments, but it can still get hectic and frustrating).

So, for seven years, I wrote several stories each week.

Then I quit.

And once I quit, I started this blog. And I had ideas of posting new content once a week. Then I realized that I didn’t really want to be trapped by those boundaries anymore and I would, rather, write when I felt like writing and allow it all to be pretty organic.

Now, several months have flown by and here I am explaining myself to the three of you that are reading.

So, it’s true I wasn’t bringing forth new blog entries – but I was living life. And I’ll give you a quick update on what’s been going on:

-I traveled to Mexico, to Acapulco and Mexico City for a couple of weeks on what I thought was a vacation.

During my stay there, I played guitar and sang in a couple of churches and I preached at a Sunday service.


-I’ve been working extremely diligently on Go Love Africa, the photography mission that I started with Nathan Dewberry last year.

We’ve established a budget for our October trip to Madagascar for six photographers. I’m also trying to promote the organization everywhere I go.

-I have helped put together a fitness even with my CrossFit gym, which will take place in Port Allen at the end of this month, and will help raise money for Go Love Africa.


-I took over the social media services for my band, Rewind, and Go Love Africa and am trying to get more business and more connections through both of those.

-I am still trying to establish myself as an actor and have been in several local commercials, but as of yet, nothing big is happening on that front.


So that’s a quick run down of what’s going on in the life of Aaron.

I’m always moving, and never slowing down.

I’m getting back into the swing of things and have decided to write and update more consistently, so you can all look forward to that.

That’s my update – I promise from now on, my entries will be more entertaining and/or poignant.

Thanks for reading!



gimme a break

Gimme a Breakthrough

Two months have gone by since I quit my day job, and my blog seems to have crumbled due to my lack of posts as I feel like I have nothing to say.

But the thing is – it’s not really true that I have nothing to say. I often think about what my next post will be about and constantly come up with ideas that will be entertaining. But then I think about the reason I began this endeavor – to encourage others that are going through similar journeys to mine, and also to have a record of my personal growth from the day I stopped working for someone other than myself.

And I thought I didn’t really have anything to add in terms of either the progress I’ve made in my journey, or the regression that has occurred. Things were moving, but moving at a very slow pace.

It’s always darkest before dawn


In my first blog post, I explained my reasons for leaving my career. I had stopped growing as a person, and life was growing increasingly darker. Then I had an epiphany: quit and be happy.

So I did. And I am.

And crazy things occurred that made me question my decision and my overall financial stability, and though my demeanor remained calm, my thoughts went dark.

What will happen if…? was a mainstay in the recesses of my mind.

Then breakthroughs began.

Some of the breakthroughs that occurred within me I’m actually just beginning to realize. Such as the fact that I came to a decision to simply be honest with people – that’s a huge breakthrough for me!

Honesty comes naturally to some people. Not to me. Not that I lie all the time (though some of my friends would playfully suggest otherwise), but I don’t usually let people into my self. Into my real feelings and my real life.

Throughout the years, I’ve built enough walls to build a fortress around my innermost self, and though I prided myself in being “an open book” when I was asked a question, I would often divert when I was asked about my life. I’d happily share opinions and things I noticed about people/things/life in general, and I’d even try to share what was happening in my mind, but when it came to what was going on in my life, in my family, in the areas of my life that I hold most dear, I would refrain from speaking about it unless it was assuredly positive.

Lately, I’ve made a true effort to open up about my life to others, which has helped bring friendships closer and, in my opinion, made me a more likable person. (Lesson: be honest to yourself and others. If they don’t like the person you really are, why try to fool them into liking a person who you aren’t?)

Other breakthroughs I have seen in the past couple of months include breakthroughs in my mindset, in the spiritual and the physical.

A lot of those breakthroughs came in one fell swoop, dealing with my larynx.

Most who know me that are reading this post know that I am a singer. I became the lead singer of a Baton Rouge-based band called Rewind in January 2013. What nobody knows is that I’ve had a knot in the back of my throat for about two years that has done nothing but grow in discomfort, literally and mentally.

My mind raced for the last year, wondering what it could be. Vocal chord nodules? Polyps? Something worse? Cancer?

I knew I needed to get checked out, but I couldn’t handle it financially, so I just kept singing, and kept thinking terrible thoughts about what could possibly be ailing my throat and voice.

I thought about my lack of healthcare and the cost of a doctor’s visit where a specialist snakes a camera down the throat cavity. That’s gonna cost a lot!

What if they find something? I’d have to get it taken care of, either through surgery or medication, or worse – long stints of vocal rest.

“I just quit my job! The only thing that’s making me money right now is singing on weekends with the band!” I thought. “That’s my livelihood!”

I broke down


I got rid of my thoughts and decided to do something to move forward (which is a process on its own – not as easily done as is said). So I made an appointment with a throat specialist. And I prayed. And I began to change my thoughts. And I became more honest with myself.

Long story short: the doctor found nothing wrong with my voice box. I grew, mentally and spiritually, in the process.

Breakthrough achieved.

So things started looking up.

Then another breakthrough!

I received a message from a musician in the Baton Rouge/New Orleans area about a new band:

…has put together an all-star group of talent that is looking to perform for high money corporate events – many of our clients are out of state in Orlando, Atlanta, S. Carolina, Dallas, Las Vegas, etc.

We are looking for a dynamic front man and your name came up in a recent meeting…

I was asked to front another band. [*To all the Rewind folks reading this, no worries, if it happens, it’s a mid-week gig, so my weekends are still clear. We’re all good.]

But simply for my name to have come up in a meeting about an all-star group of talent in the area is so incredibly humbling. I really can’t begin to express how those words made me feel.

I’ve said from the beginning, I’m not sure how this story ends, but from dark to dawn, I’m enjoying this journey.

And I’m so glad dawn has arrived/is arriving.




There are many challenges on every road to success.

And regardless of whether or not my journey ends in success or not, I was completely aware, from the start, that I would encounter roadblocks.

Before I quit my job a month ago, I made sure that I was set up to achieve success in my endeavor. I made up my mind to pursue entertainment as a career, started taking classes to hone my skills, hired an agent to help me book gigs and, after saving money for years, I set aside money to be able to live and work toward my goal of success without have a day job.

As I stated earlier, I was aware that wrenches would be thrown into the cog that would be my road, but in my mind I was sure that the biggest wrench would be my own attitude and willingness to continue forward after rejection. In the entertainment industry, especially television and movies, there is a lot of rejection. In more cases than not, rejection occurs – and I thought that, if anything, the rejection would be a lot for me to handle, but also knew that it was inevitable and it would not deter me from achieving success.

In other words, I was pretty confident that my biggest challenge would be me. I had all the logistics covered.

Then life started happening.

I started to feel downtrodden after I had to spend money on a vehicle, mechanical repairs, home repairs after a crazy incident in the kitchen that flooded my hallway, and several other issues.

I spent more than $12,000 in a month span.

But cooler heads prevail. I remained calm, spent the necessary funds to repair damages, and stayed positive through it all.

I started grinding. I bore down and started working to make money. I booked a couple of commercials, some photoshoots (as a model and behind the camera as a photographer), auditioned for other spots and shows, sold my wrecked car, and got home owner’s insurance to cover the house damage.

So, in my own mind, as aforementioned, the only thing that would stop me was myself – surely money would be no issue for at least another 8-12 months – that’s how I had set myself up.

But I also had in the back of my mind that the only thing that could actually slow me down would be a lack of funds – I simply wouldn’t be able to live without a day job if I didn’t have the funds to do so.

Then yesterday.

Yesterday as I was tearing up floors in my office/small bedroom, I noticed something that could detrimental to my cashflow. The concrete was soaked.

After a few calls, I found out I have a slow leak underneath the concrete slab of my home – a serious issue that could cost several thousand dollars to repair. If I have to pay as much money as is possible in this situation, I could be broke by the end of the month.

I’ve always been the type of person to take my licks as they come and keep moving forward, including right now. I feel like I’m in the right mindset; not ready to throw in the towel on my dreams, but I can’t help but to wonder what will happen in the coming days and weeks, and if I’ll be forced to get a day job or work harder to book more gigs to make money.

The point of this whole story is simply this: When you’re chasing your dreams, there will inevitably be plenty of opportunities to quit. There will come times when you think the best option is to veer from the path you’re foraging.

But I think that if you’re going to catch that dream you’re chasing, do everything you can to stay on the path. Do all you know to do in order to continue putting one foot in front of the other.

This may sound strange coming from the guy who just quit his job – but don’t quit.

When it comes to your dreams; the path you desire to take … don’t quit.


100 percent

Have you ever had to exert all your energy into one action?

It has become commonplace in our culture to say that we’re giving 100 percent of our energy toward a specific goal – but, really, how often do we honestly give everything?

I learned a valuable lesson this weekend, and it all came from , of all things, a Crossfit competition.

Of course it would be something workout/sports/competition related, right?

I’ll start with this fact – I’m an extremely competitive person. Also, I’m extremely athletic – I have been since my early childhood.

Dating back to little league baseball: I remember playing in an age group above my own. At 11-years-old, I was named to the All-Star team of 13 year olds. That was the year I hit my first homerun – during an All-Star game.

Fast-forward to my current state, and I joined a group of people involved in fitness – Levee Crossfit.

I joined the box (or “gym” for all the non-Crossfitters out there) simply with the intentions of staying healthy and fit – I was not interested in doing any type of competition. I just wanted to get my 6-pack abs back from my college days.

Without being prideful, I was confident I was one of the better athletes of the group.

So I worked out, and continued working out somewhat consistently for about a year and a half. Sure, there were times where I’d miss a month because of knee injuries and such, so I’d take a break here and there.

Then it happened.

I got talked into entering into a competition.

I knew it would be challenging. And I think that’s what drew my to entering. I like a challenge, and I thought that with a little work, I’d be able to do very well in the competition.

That ideology turned out being false – because I did a little work, but others did a lot of work, which proved to help them compete much better than I did in the comp.

My focus, at the time, was on my job and trying to get finished so I could leave the newspaper in good condition for the incoming editor.

While others were focused on the exercises of the 2015 Festivus Games, I was spending evening writing, photographing, and doing everything I needed to get a newspaper out each week; and I’d work out whenever possible.

“Whenever possible” turned out to be 2-4 times a week, depending on the week – all while others were diligently working daily to master the movements and pace of the competition.

It wasn’t until the week of the Festivus Games – the week after I had officially resigned from my editor position – that I was actually able to focus on preparing for the competition.

But by that time, it was too late.

The Festivus Games came, and despite everything, I thought I was prepared (maybe not well-prepared, but at least prepared enough) and thought I was athletic enough to push through the challenges and do well.

I was wrong.

I hadn’t given 100 percent in my preparation.

Even in my work outs where I was attempting to prepare for the competition, I basically just went through the motions of the workout of the day. I didn’t push myself. I didn’t “go hard.” But I thought it would be enough, because at least I was doing something.

It wasn’t until after the Festivus Games competition that I thought about it and realized that even though I thought I had done enough, and I had prepared well mentally, I had not truly given 100 percent in my preparation – so when I did give 100 percent during the competition, it wasn’t quite enough.

See, I realized that if I were to have exerted every bit of energy in practicing and preparing for the competition, my boundaries would have expanded. If my limits had been expanded in practice, I would have been able to do more in the game.

So it is with life.

If we don’t focus our energy in the things we love, or the things we value, we only limit ourselves.

Now, despite what I have written, I didn’t do terribly in the competition – but I knew I could’ve done better. I knew that if I’d given more during the “dress rehearsals” that I wouldn’t have nearly passed out during the real thing.

With work, I like to think I gave 100 percent all the way until my last day, but I’d only be lying to myself. There were plenty of times (probably even years) that I did just enough to get by.

But in my pursuit(s), I believe that I now understand the importance of really giving 100 percent, or at least close to it.

Don’t give of yourself so much that you no longer have anything to give – I think that’s just wisdom. Give all you can, allow the wounds to heal, then go to battle.

In my life, I have decided to do everything within my power to be a success.

My preparation has begun.

I must exert an extraordinary amount of effort into the things I choose to do, whether it be my photography, writing, acting, singing, or anything else – the thing(s) I choose to do, I will have to fully commit and give of myself in order to see success.

And I think it’s the same for anyone else who wants to see true success in certain areas of their lives.

To be the best athlete, you’ve got to practice harder than anyone else.

To love your spouse unlimitedly, it will take you exerting all of yourself into that relationship.

To be the best you, exert all of your energy into doing the things that will make you better.

The reserves

It’s been nearly a whole week since my last day of work, and things have more than set in for me. I have come to the realization that I don’t have to go to work anymore (except on weekends – I have a job on weekends).

That is a liberating realization, until reality strikes.

So, I don’t have to go to work … that means, I don’t get paid for the work that I would have been doing.

The first few days of not working, I was unsure what to think or feel. I felt as though I was simply on vacation from work. It wasn’t until my world crumbled in a matter of 48 hours that reality hit; when I really realized I don’t have that security net called a day job anymore.

The World Crumbling

OK, I was being a little overdramatic in saying my world crumbled, but I’ll tell you this: when reality hits you, it hits you hard.

I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage, “when it rains, it pours.”

That’s how my weekend went. It started raining (literally and figuratively) and the downpour just kept going.

I’ll try not to bore anyone with a self deprecating pity party of sorts, so I’ll just get to the nuts and bolts of it all – a close relative went to jail and my family was trying to figure out what to do, all while the jailbird is calling all of us to try to post bail; I got a flat tire while driving to New Orleans in the rain and changed the tire to the spare in the trunk, which I quickly found was also flat; I woke up from a glorious Sunday nap to find that a pipe under my kitchen sink had burst and I spent much of the night pulling up wood laminate before the house started smelling of mildew and rot. On top of that, an accident that I got into two months ago provided me with a ticket and a busted up car. The ticket, for “following too closely” I paid today. The car, my Ford Mustang – Betty, was totaled and I had to buy a new car. I bought a used Honda Accord and I scheduled maintenance, including the changing of a timing belt, for tomorrow.

All of those items listed above will take a lot of money out of my pockets.

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!” right?

All I have is lemons to work with, here! No sugar! No water! No, wait, there’s plenty of water strewn throughout my kitchen and hallway, under the wood floors and inside the walls!

And THAT is when it hit me – I don’t have a job to help take care of all this, financially. The money I have saved over the last couple of years will quickly be depleted if I have to spend thousands at a time.

After that realization hit me, I did what any normal person would do … I freaked out. I freaked out, I ranted to a close friend, I ate a bunch of ice cream and I fell asleep.

I’m being tested and I don’t like it.

**note: I feel it is important to clarify that I didn’t only freak out, rant, eat and sleep – I did work to pull up wet flooring, and do as much as I could. I just thought that was a fun sentence to write.*

Now, after I’ve woken up, I am trying to have a new, brighter perspective.

It’s life.

Life happens to us all. And yes, it seems to hit us really hard at the most inopportune times, but that’s what you save up for.

And I’m not just talking about money.

We save up great memories and moments with friends and family – and when we start to feel sad, lonely and downright depressed, we dig into that reserve and remember those times, which we use to make us happy enough to start digging ourselves out of the funk.

Spiritually, we immerse ourselves in goodness. In my case, it’s Christianity. I spent years studying God’s Word, listening to sermons, memorizing scripture verses, learning songs – and when I feel an attack from the enemy, I dig into the reserves and am able to use what I know to “fight the good fight.”

Financially, we save money – not just for something specific that you want to purchase – but also just in case something bad happens that you need to take care of.

Those reserve funds, memories, scriptures and songs all played a part in my own tiny resurrection today.

I thought I had figured everything out. I planned to be able to live on my reserve funds for a while while I traveled and visiting friends and family I hadn’t seen in ages, and did other things in my search for happiness – and I’ll still be able to do those things – but maybe not exactly how I had it etched out.

Plans change; life happens. What actually shows your character – what proves what you’re made of – is how you act and react when things don’t go your way, when life happens, all at once. When you’re shaken, what comes out?

If you have an unlabeled bottle, the only way to be sure of its contents is to open it and pour out what’s inside.

Weekends like the one I just had will really pour out a person’s contents.

What are you made of?


Dazed and Confused

I’m confused. Well, my body is … and my brain.

I woke up early this morning, glanced around my dark bedroom and found the red numbers that represent the time on a nearby dresser.


Then, without thinking, I reached down to the floor near my bed and checked my cell phone to, again, see what time it was, but also to check for text messages, emails, tweets, etc.

It’s become habitual.

Every day I wake up and check to see if there’s any semblance of news that I need to cover. Or see if I missed a call from someone important in reference to my newspaper.

Yesterday was my last day as editor of The West Side Journal newspaper. Sure, it’s a small weekly paper, but it was my life for more than seven years; and now my brain and body are confused, trying to figure out why I’m not getting up in preparation for the day.

It’s strange, being somewhere for so long, then suddenly not being there anymore. Yesterday was, very much so, a normal Tuesday. I had deadlines I had to meet, stories I had to write, pages I had to lay out.

When it was all said and done, I was in the office alone – well, me and the incoming editor. We chatted a short while. I gave him some advice, and we went on our way.

I left the office for the final time as editor. No big hoopla, no fanfare (why would there be? Editors don’t have fans.), just me locking the door behind me for the last time.

And then it hit me.

No, actually, it didn’t. Nothing hit me.

Nothing had time to hit me. I went straight from the West Side Journal office in Port Allen to Baton Rouge to meet with my “Geaux Love Africa” partner, Nathan Dewberry – we were set to interview a photographer who was considering joining us on our mission to Madagascar in October.

We talked over Facetime with the photographer, as she lives in Illinois, for more than an hour, explaining in detail what we do, the challenges we face, etc.

If that project is something you’re interested in knowing more about, check out www.geauxloveafrica.com

Oh, also, we were on the local news here in Baton Rouge on Monday. Here’s the video:


*note: I don’t know how to embed the video straight into the blog, so I will just share the link – if someone can help me learn to embed properly, let me know.

Anyway, I went straight from my last day of work to working on my Geaux Love Africa project, so I didn’t give myself time to stop and think about the fact that that was my last day.

Now it’s sinking in.

I consider myself a real doer. I find things to do, I start projects, I’m great at coming up with ideas and making things better. But I am a terrible finisher. I constantly leave projects undone. I never completed the painting of my kitchen, which I started in 2010. I often begin reading books and never finish them. I cut my front lawn and leave the back for another day … or week … or never.

But, with my job, I’ve actually finished.

It’s a bit surreal.

And I thought I’d be ecstatic about it – and I’m sure I will be when I start getting things done – but as I sit here in my bed, thinking about the fact that I don’t have a job on this, my first morning of unemployment, I’m confused as to how I should feel.

I’m not at all questioning my decision, I’m just in the process of figuring out what my next step needs to be in order to find success.

Right now, I don’t exactly have an answer, but I promised myself I would be transparent with this blog, and that I would share my journey with anyone who wants to read along and be a part of it.

I guess when you’re in a place or a situation for so long and you finally get out – whether that place/situation was good, bad, abusive, loving, familiar or indifferent – you’re left dazed. Even if you have a plan in place to be successful, allowing yourself to decompress and setting your mind at ease is something that must be done in order to remain sane (if you were ever sane to begin with).

Keep reading. Hopefully I’ll have some sort of wisdom and insight in the next post, because today I just feel scatterbrained, dazed and confused.



I’ve become a master of the “almost.”

Everyone knows life comes with plenty of disappointments; it’s absolutely cliché, but it really stings when you come so close to something only to be told “you’re not the guy.”

And for that to happen so many times to one person – it’s a miracle my self-esteem is still in tact!


I grew up in a Christian home. Some would use the terms “ultra conservative” and “sheltered” when I describe my life growing up.

I don’t completely disagree, but I know that the decisions my parents made in how to raise us (my older brother, younger sister and me) were decisions that shaped me into the man I am today.

As a matter of fact, I have a game I play with other people my age who tell me they were raised in Christian homes, or say they were sheltered as kids. The game, which I play in my head, is called “How Sheltered Were You?” I use this game to gauge – you guessed it – how sheltered a person was growing up (Yeah, the name says it all). I don’t always win said game, but I’m always in the running.

I was homeschooled. From Kindergarten throughout my high school career, I was a student at Williams Academy. Mom was the Dean of Students and the professor, Dad was the Principal and disciplinarian. I was the top in my class, and I can guarantee that your graduating class was not smaller than mine – one. The first time I attended a public school was junior college.

I was in church every time the doors opened. Sunday school class, check; Sunday morning service, check; Sunday evening service, check; Wednesday night service, check; any special service that may take place some time during the week, check; revival services, check.

In fact, at one point I literally lived in my church.

When my family moved from Ft. Walton beach, Fla., to Gulfport, Miss., in 1992, one of the first things we looked for was a church home. We found that in Northwood Christian Center. And when we were to move off base from Keesler AFB in Biloxi, my parents had not yet found the house we would spend our lives in. So the pastor of Northwood graciously opened the church doors to us and allowed us to live there for two months (my memory is a little foggy here – I was only 7, but I think it was a two month stay) in the upstairs of the church building.

Okay, so I was homeschooled and lived in church … that’s enough to win the game, right?

Anyway, all that to get to this point – every morning my mother would wake us up and we would grumble and climb out of bed and eat breakfast. Then we would do something that you may find uber-conservative, but I think is extraordinary. We met in the den before starting school for the day and we talked as a family, read the Bible together, and prayed.

My mom made a list (she made lists for everything – typical mom) of prayer requests and people to lift up to God, and also gave my brother, my sister and me something specific to daily pray over the family.

My specific prayer to pray over the family was for a “spirit of excellence.”

Every morning, during our time of devotion, I would ask God to give us, and in particularly me, a true spirit of excellence. That was my prayer nearly every day for years. And I’ll be darned if God didn’t answer that prayer.

I have never been one to brag, and I’m not trying to make this a bragging moment, but seemingly everything I put my hands to, I excel. I have an uncanny ability to see something and be able to do it well. Writing, sports, drums, singing, acting – I’m a jack of a trades.

In my senior year of high school, we found a small private school – Christian Collegiate Academy – that allowed homeschoolers to play on their teams. I played basketball, baseball and soccer that year. I was MVP of the basketball team, Defensive MVP of the baseball team and batted over .500, and was named first team All-Conference on the soccer squad. When superlatives came out for the school, the administration made the students re-vote for Most Athletic, because the students originally named me most athletic at the school, but I didn’t attend CCA.

After high school, I went on to college, and I wanted to play football. I grew up playing community sports and, of course, excelled. So I got somewhat of a try out at Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C.

The coach times my 40-yard dash time and watched me attempt to bench press 185 pounds.

I wasn’t ready.

My 40 time was, like 4.8 – which is a terrible time for someone who claims to be fast. I could only bench the 185 three times – again, terrible. I was too slow and weak to play with MGCCC (though, to be fair to myself, I didn’t have a clue about proper technique of running the 40, so that time didn’t accurately show my real speed).

I got asked to be a team manager. It came with a scholarship, so I said yes. I had access to the team facilities, coaches and food.

But I wasn’t satisfied. I wanted to play, and I knew I was good enough. I started working out. Joined a speed and weight training facility and gained 20 lbs of muscle in a summer.

I came back the next year and tried out for the team, and I showed marked improvement. I was benching 225 up to 10 times. My 40 time was down to 4.5 seconds. And the cornerbacks coach took a notice of my hands while I was a manager – he noticed I caught everything thrown at me. He told me to try out for cornerback.

So as a sophomore, I made the team. But because I didn’t play football in high school, the head coach had no confidence in me. Physically, I was better than many of the defensive backs on the team. Mentally, I was green, but learning more about the position every day. But I didn’t have real game time experience.

I was red-shirted.

After so much work getting to that point, I was told I wasn’t good enough to play that year. But I knew I was! I performed better, in practice, than several of the athletes that made the team – but they made the team because they had played the previous year. I learned it was not only about the talent level – because if it were, I would have been on that team and would have made my way to being a starter by season’s end.

Instead I was sat down. The defensive back coach later told me that the last spot on the team came down to two players – me and another guy. They chose the other guy.

That was my first real taste of rejection.

Since then, I’ve come thisclose to doing something big multiple times, just to be told I wasn’t the guy.

I went to an open casting call for the television show Big Brother and got called back. I made it as a semi-finalist to be on the show. But wasn’t good enough to make it all the way onto the show. Almost.

I got a golden ticket at American Idol this past season. I was good enough to get through preliminary first rounds, but just missed the cut to make it to the tv round of judging – what the world sees as the first round. Almost.

There have been a lot of almosts in my life – and yes, it’s extremely frustrating to be told you’re not good enough, especially when you know that you are – but I’ve found that dwelling on my almosts has gotten me nowhere.

When I dwell on the things I almost was able to do, or the things that were taken away from me, or the times I was made to feel like I wasn’t good enough, I fall into a funk. A depression. A rut. And it happens.

I can’t help but to think back about what could have been if I were just a little better and if I worked just a little harder to achieve a goal.

But you know what?

Those “almost” moments have made me who I am, just as much as my sheltered childhood has.

Excellence is in my veins and I’ve decided that instead of looking at the past and my “almost” moments, I will choose to move forward and pray that one day soon I will be on the other side of that almost – the side where I’m told they almost went with another person, but I’m the guy.

I won’t dwell on the past any longer or wonder what life could be like if I had done more. From now on, I will just do more. I will work harder than the next guy, I will make it hard for anyone to tell me I almost made it.

But it will inevitably happen – and when it does, I will simply get up, wipe the dust off, and keep moving forward.

Why I Quit

I quit my job.

You probably knew that already though.

I’ve gotten a few messages after posting my blog opener. Messages from friends who give me kudos, or to tell me they understand how I felt, or to ask me what my plans are.

First of all – and I felt this way with my newspaper, too, whenever I’d write editorials – I find it wildly humbling, yet also entertaining, that anyone would want to read my drivel. I’m just some strange black kid (well, 29-year-old isn’t exactly a kid, but I still feel like I am sometimes) from Mississippi that learned how to use the English language properly and knows how to write.

And secondly, I want to explain how I arrived at the place I am now – and I absolutely believe there are many of you that feel the exact same way I did.


I became stagnant where I was, doing what I was doing.

Which is odd, because my job as newspaper editor consisted of coming up with new stories to write every week, new photos to take, new page layouts to design. My job was to be creative; to think of new ways to do things, and to meet people who wanted to share their stories with me.

So I was constantly around “new(s),” yet I felt like I was trapped.

I had worked at the same job since I graduated college. I attended the same church since I moved to the area. I was around the same groups of people I had been around for years.

And then something happened.

While perusing through Craigslist, looking for oddjobs writing or teaching or playing drums, or doing anything I could to make a little extra money, I saw an ad for a band looking for a lead singer.

Sure, it was a little strange. But, I mean … so am I.

So I emailed Mary about the ad. I got an audition. I was told I was to sing three songs: I Feel Good by James Brown; Signed, Sealed, Delivered by Stevie Wonder; and At Last by Etta James.

I knew all those songs! I could do that!

So I did. And I did them well. Well enough to get asked to be the band’s new lead singer.

singing and twirling

That random step in my life was the first step on a much larger path I would eventually take.

So, I’m singing with the band, and loving it. But during the day, I’m still at this job that I once loved and adored, but has become monotonous to me. Everything else in life is the same, but I was getting my “fix” during the weekends, going and singing at weddings.

And then something else happened.

I somehow got connected with a mutual friend who had an idea to create a mission-based project using photography. It was nothing I was looking for, but I knew I had a passion for photography, and I had a passion to simply break the monotony of life, so I went to have lunch with Nathan Dewberry.

Nathan and I, after several meetings in the span of a couple of months, put together a project called “Geaux Love Africa” where we decided to go to Uganda, Africa and take professional portraits of people and print the photos immediately, giving the people their portrait. On the back of the photo, we would put a gospel message and a way to get in contact with a local pastor in their area.

Samuel Muyindah

Not only did we talk about making the trip happen – we actually made the trip happen (I’m sure I’ll talk about this project in more detail later, but until then, if you want to hear more about it, check out www.GeauxLoveAfrica.com).

But once I got back (the Uganda trip was only 10 days), it was back to the old grind. Back to the job I had grown a disdain for; the job I loved once but simply grew weary of.

I was tired of the job. But I wasn’t going to quit. I’m not a quitter.

Plus, if I left, there was nobody that could take my place. I’m the only me. The paper has grown leaps and bounds because of me. If I left, what would happen? Things would go to shambles.

But I was tired.

Then something ELSE happened.

I, in some lapse of normalcy, I let down my walls and told a friend that I was interested in pursuing more avenues in the entertainment industry. Maybe acting.

My friend tells me she had just taken an acting class and gives me the number or her acting coach.

A few months later, I found myself diverting, once again, from my path of monotony. I left my place of normalcy and comfort and stepped out to do something that I thought would be fun – I took an acting class.

Nobody knew about it. I didn’t go telling the world. It was simply for me, not for anyone else but me.


So I went to this beginner’s intensive acting class every Wednesday night for a couple of months, and by the final class, I had a talent agent give me a card and tell me to call him.

Now I have an agent.

Then one day, it hit me … I don’t HAVE to be at this job anymore. I’d hit a ceiling a long time ago, and I couldn’t break through. Because I wasn’t meant to break through that ceiling.

I realized if I’m going to grow as a person and be happy, I have to leave.

So I took a step back and rationally looked at the situation as a whole. I had, since joining the band two years earlier, broken the monotony of life and broadened my horizons to the point that I had a safety net of sorts.

I felt happiness in entertaining, of all things … and felt a strong urge to pursue that passion, whether it be singing, acting, stand up comedy, or whatever. I simply knew that I wanted to try to go after something that had been stagnant in me for a long time that had recently been activated.

This passion was something I’d had for a long time – since I was a child I was fascinated with movies and tv, and loved music and sports and all kinds of things, but becoming a “grown up” caused me to bury that passion, but it was resurrected as I began to break the normalcy of life to try something new and fun.

Essentially, I tried to break the stagnation that was my life, and in the process a stagnant passion was awakened in me.

So, I decided to go after that.

And that’s the story of how/why I quit my job.