Definitions

I don’t profess to know everything, not even close. I don’t have a universal key to happiness or wealth or anything like that.

You’re never going to hear me telling anyone how they should live because it took me a long-ass time to even become a functioning member of society, so who am I to tell anyone else how they should approach things?

Nobody, that’s who.

What I do believe in, however, is sharing some of things that mean something to me and that help guide through my days.

Lately, the biggest thing that I’ve been trying to keep at the forefront of my mind each day is remembering that I define the elements of my life.

I define success, happiness, satisfaction. I’m the one that says what is good enough, what works for me and the things I need in my life to be content.

Not you. Not society. Not mass media. Me.

And whether my definitions fit with your standards or expectations doesn’t matter because as long as I’m content with what I have (and don’t have), life is good.

This is a huge development for me and one that I’m still working on every day because like plenty of people, there are times where I sit back, feel shitty and say, “I want what they have! Why can’t I have that?” The key, though, is that those days are fewer and further between now than they’ve been in a long time and my focus is changing.

Success is now defined by being able to make my own schedule, write the things I want to write and being proud of everything I put my name on.

Happiness is about moments and memories, not material possessions and status symbols.

I’m comfortable in my own skin, even though I still want to work at getting into better shape and continue eating better, two things I want to do for me and no one else. And I don’t feel bad for picking up some killer fried chicken on a random Sunday afternoon either because everyone should have some kick-ass fried chicken from time-to-time.

 

 

There’s no more beating myself up about the choices I make – if I don’t want to run or I want to sleep in or waste an hour of my day watching Shadowhunters on Netflix, I’m going to do it and not look back, the same way I will when I eat healthy, crush some interviews and stories or set a new PR for steps in a day on the Fitbit.

And if I want to be sad and mopey, that’s perfectly okay too because we all experience those days and I would rather acknowledge them and ride them out than pretend like I’m not feeling that way and put on a brave face because do one likes a mope.

I’m done letting others dictate what I should and shouldn’t do; how I should and shouldn’t feel; the way I should or shouldn’t act, dress, talk, live, you name it.

Sure, there are some qualifiers and conditions that apply, but they’re mostly just the basics of life and I’m alright with that. Everything else – the good stuff – is all up to me and predicated on the way I define the elements of my life.

And right now, today, on January 19, 2016 – I’m content and that’s all I want.

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Goals Update and Plans for 2016

As I’m sitting here waiting for UFC 195 to start, I figured it was a good time to drop a blog post that both updates the stuff I talked about in my birthday post and looks at some of the additional objectives I have for 2016 because it’s that time of year and writing this is far more appealing than doing the dishes or starting the laundry… so here we are.

One of the main themes of my last post was getting healthy and making better choices and so far, I’m happy to report that all that stuff is going relatively well.

Sure, the healthy eating took a kick in the nuts over the holidays because there are always nibbles and sweets and whatnot kicking around that you end up picking at and Christmas dinner isn’t exactly an “eating clean” kind of meal, but overall, I’m pleased.

The Vitamix is still getting used for smoothies – loving my berries, tofu and beet juice concoction – and Sarah introduced me to chia pudding for breakfast and it’s really goddamn good.

I’m playing hoops on Tuesday nights with a great group of guys that just like to get a run in without being a bunch of overly competitive douchebags. Years of not playing have turned me into a terrible shooter, but that will come back (as will my legs) and it’s always a good time, so whether I get buckets or not, I’m loving it.

Running remains a constant. Okay, maybe not constant, but I got back to it Friday after three weeks without a run and clipped through a good workout without feeling like I was going to die. Four months ago, picking up and doing the run I did Friday after three weeks off would have been impossible; now it’s just a pain in the ass, but I can do it which means I’m making progress.

Overall, I’m not down any significant amount of weight – I was after I got back from UFC 194, but Christmas happened – but I feel infinitely better and know I’m capable of hitting my 210 target by next October.

Sarah finally took me to Nat’s Pizza in December, crossing another “Before I turn 38” goal off the list – it was as good as advertised – and I went six weeks without a drop of booze, including a trip to Vegas where they literally try to give the shit away.

Knowing that I can say “No thanks” and not feel like I’m missing out has made me amend my “quit drinking” to “drink more responsibly” for 2016 because I enjoy a glass of wine at dinner with my family and friends… and we have a bunch of great wineries around us, including one we joined, so I have another 12 bottles to buy before the end of the year and there is no way I’m not tucking into a bottle or two from that case.

In case you’re curious: reds over whites, Merlot above all else, but I won’t say no to a nice rose either.

Work is always going to remain a source of frustration and, ultimately, disappointment for me because I’m shitty at working for people and always fail to square myself away to the fact that just because I have a vision in my head that seems easy to execute to me doesn’t mean that it can be done at the snap of the fingers.

That said, I’m going to keep being ambitious when it comes to Keyboard Kimura and The Province and see what happens. Worst case? I bust my ass and deliver a bunch of great content, which is never a bad thing.

I’m also going to dedicate one day per week to seeking out new opportunities, but only after I get through the first draft of the book, which is Priority 1A for me right now. (Priority 1 is the day-to-day efforts that pay the bills, natch.)

Now onto the new business…

2016 is the year where I stop giving a shit about what the vast majority of people think.  My time and the space in my head are too valuable to waste either on nonsense and bullshit that largely doesn’t matter, so I’m done with it.

I’m done with the idiots, don’t care what those that don’t bring value to my life have to say and intend to pretty much ignore anyone that doesn’t contribute anything of substance to the discussion has to say because why in the name of all things right in the world would I waste my time with this kind of bullshit?

Conversely, I also want to make sure that when I do contribute to conversations, it’s something of value and substance, rather than just me talking for the sake of being heard. This goes for actual, in-person conversations and social media alike because there are already plenty of people on Twitter that jump into conversations just to be included and I don’t need to be one of those people.

Furthermore, if you engage me on social media in a positive way, I’m going to respond; I promise. And positive doesn’t mean agreeing with me on everything or anything like that; it just means you’re not being an asshole or a troll.

Reading 10 books was on the October 2016 list and I want to add “Listen to more music” to the goals as well because I miss good music and want to get back to having a soundtrack to my life. Send me your suggestions; I’ll consider them all.

I also want to set up a new home office, but that’s only going to come once we find a house and move into our own space, which is a big goal for us, but isn’t something we’re going to rush.

Most of all, the biggest goal I have for myself in 2016 is to be consistent – in my work, in my relationships, in my health and wellness routine, in everything. I want people to know what they can expect from me and count on me delivering and I want to hold myself to schedules and targets and not waver as much as I have in the past.

It’s like I said on Facebook on NYE:

Be good to one another and be your best self every damn day. That’s the goal, not for 2016 – for life, for always, forever. Try to hold yourself to it and next year will be solid.

Good luck and Happy New Year!

 

A New Year, A New Set of Goals to Accomplish

Well, I’m 37.

It’s crazy to me because how in the hell am I 37? I vividly remember my old man’s 40th birthday party – lots of friends and acquaintances whooping it up into the wee hours, keeping my then 11- or 12-year-old ass up way too late. I’m now three years away from that party myself and the fact that a quarter of a century has passed since then is a little freaky to me.

Since it’s the start of another new year for me, I wanted to set out some goals and aspirations for myself for the next 365 days.

This isn’t something that I’ve ever done in the past, just because I’ve never wanted to put myself in a position where I’ve made my targets known and might end up failing to reach those goals, thereby creating a situation where my shortcomings and failures are available for public consumption.

But I’ve come to a realization over the last few months that helped me shed that fear or hesitation and it’s that I don’t care if random people I don’t know or even acquaintances that are (sorry folks) outside of the small circle of people whose opinions I genuinely value think about me setting a bunch of goals for myself and coming up short.

Besides, I’d rather set a bunch of goals and fail to complete a few of them than not set any goals at all.

These are going to be all over the map – career, personal life, health, etc. – and my hope is to accomplish as many of them as possible, but I also want to make sure to keep them realistic.

Would I like to get hired by TSN and land a regular spot on SportsCentre talking about UFC fights? Of course I would, but the likelihood of that happening is slim, so setting that as a goal for the next year is setting myself up to fail. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to keep knocking on that door and trying to make it happen, it just means I would much rather focus my energy towards attainable goals instead.

So here goes: these are my 37-year-old goals.

Lose 20 pounds and keep it off: I’m 230 pounds right now and while I’d love to say, “I want to hit 185!” that’d be some dumb shit because I like cheeseburgers and chicken wings too much. However, getting down to and/or maintaining at 210 would be huge for me because I honestly can’t tell you the last time I was within spitting distance of competing at light heavyweight… not that I’m going to be competing in anything.

How do I plan on achieving that, you ask?

Make more healthy choices: We bought a Vitamix not that long ago and making juices and smoothies is not only fun, but waaaaaay better for me than cheeseburgers and chicken wings. Plus, I make a bomb quinoa salad (grape tomatoes, olives, cucumber, lemon juice) and genuine love being in the kitchen, so I have to stop being a lazy bastard and keep making killer meals for me and the lady 29 days out of 30.

Run another 5k: So we did a 5k last year where we ran for 5 minutes, walked for 2 and it felt good, but I know I’m capable of more. I started running again last week with 5k being one of my targets. I want to get to a point where I can run that distance straight through, in a respectable time. April is six months away and I’d like to cross this one off by then at the latest, because…

Complete a 10k: Notice I didn’t say, “Run a 10k” because honestly, just getting through something like that would be an accomplishment and I don’t care if I use a run five-walk two approach to get it done… it’s getting it done that matters. Even if I just do it myself on a track; knocking out a 10k at age 37 would be awesome.

Hike/Explore More: Schedules complicate things, but at least twice a month I’d like to get out and discover more of my new surroundings. There are a ton of places around here with great scenery and trails and fresh air and whatnot and I need to go see them.

Get a Book Deal: As you may or may not know, I’m working on an autobiography with a fighter friend of mine and we’re getting close to the “pitch it to publishers” stage, so this one should be pretty safe. But still. It’s a book deal. I’m a writer. That’s kind of one of the dreams.

Find Greater Security: It’s not that I think one or more of my freelance gigs is going to fall apart or suddenly get pulled, but you know what’s even better than a collection of solid contracts? A gig where the cheques come every two weeks without fail and I’m not sitting around thinking”Is this leading anywhere or am I going to keep doing the same thing for the same money for the next five years?” every couple of months.

Write More Blogs: I miss this. I miss just rambling about whatever is running through my head like in the old I Blog Because I Can days. I don’t want to set any “blog three times a week” benchmarks because blogging while I’m on the road covering an event or buried under assignments isn’t always possible, but if I can knock out a couple every month, I’ll be happy and hopefully you’ll be entertained.

Connect More with Friends and Family: I’ll admit it – I suck at staying in touch; ask the people I went to high school and university with… they’ll tell you and then they’ll ask what I’ve been up to because I haven’t been in touch with them lately. I want to change that, so that means more Facebook messages, more phone calls, more out of the blue text messages. Consider yourself warned.

Read at Least 10 Books: I love reading and I need to spend more time turning pages and less time looking at my phone. As much as I like flipping through Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and whatever else, I want to get back to reading good books on a regular basis because there are a ton of great books out there and I want to read them.

Play Competitive Basketball Again: By competitive, I mean a rec league with other thirtysomethings that feel achy and broken down for two days after an hour or two of ball, but goddamn I need to lace up some high tops and hoop again.

Take a Three-Day Vacation Where I Don’t Pay Any Attention to Work: My wife has put up with myriad getaways where work calls (literally and figuratively) and between today and October 29, 2016, I’m going somewhere with her (and the dog) where I won’t do anything work related. If you need me for work purposes during that time, too bad… I’m on vacation.

Eat Nat’s Pizza: I’ve been making regular trips to Vancouver for six years now and not once has my Vancouver-born-and-raised wife taken me to Ryan Reynold’s favourite pizza joint. That ends this year.

Quit Drinking: This is my big one and the one that I’ve told a couple people already. They always say, “Why?” or “How come?” or something that makes me sound like I’m crazy for wanting to kick booze. I don’t enjoy drinking nearly as much as I did earlier in life, two beers makes me bloated and why the hell do I have to drink anyway? I’m fun without booze and it should help me hit that 210 pound goal a little easier too.

Since I’m going to blog more in the coming 365 days, I’ll keep you updated on how all this is going.

My Advice to You: Check Out the SI Media Podcast

I don’t know why, but people ask me all the time what advice I can give them to get further ahead and improve as a writer. I don’t say that to be faux-humble; I genuinely don’t know why people are coming to me because I’m just a dude out here trying to make a living and there are more seasoned, more experienced folks that I would reach out to before getting around to hitting me up.

Having said that, I don’t believe I’ve ever turned someone away without giving them whatever insights I can because I think that’s one of the easiest, yet most impactful things you can do for another human being and since I’ve been blessed to have a bunch of smart, skilled, knowledgeable people help me along in this journey, it’s my duty to pay it forward or else I’m doing those folks a disservice.

I say all of that to get to this little bit of unsolicited, simple advice for anyone pursuing this craft or considering a future in the media: you need to listen to the SI Media Podcast with Richard Deitsch.

Whether you love or hate Deitsch – or even if you’ve never heard of him before right now – what you need to know is that every week, this podcast features an outstanding guest dropping gems about the media, their process and life in general and if you’re going to do this in any way, shape or form, you need to hear, consider and process each and every one of those gems.

For instance, a couple weeks ago, Deitsch had Chris Curtis, the producer of The Dennis and Callahan Show on WEEI, on as a guest and even though I know nothing about Curtis or the show itself, there were nuggets that hit home, like Curtis saying – and I’m paraphrasing – “If you’re willing to put your name on a piece, you should be willing to discuss and defend it whenever someone wants to address what you said.”

Last week, Jay Onrait said we shouldn’t be so adversarial and I couldn’t agree more. That’s something I’ve been saying about the MMA media for years – we’re too territorial and too afraid to lift up others because it might mean people stop looking at us as much – and to hear someone with far more seasoning and success say he genuinely wants to see everyone succeed and wishes others felt the same way was reassuring.

Or this week, when Deitsch asked Jalen Rose about a life philosophy FS1 host Charissa Thompson said she got from basketball player-turned-media personality, “Appreciate your position, but plan your promotion.” Brilliant, right? It’s something I’ve been doing throughout this journey, though I’d never really thought of it in those specific terms.

There have honestly been too many little words of wisdom and simple truths that have fallen into my lap just from listening to this podcast every week – and now twice a week – that I had to give everyone the head’s up, just in case you weren’t already listening.

And it’s not just the guests that shuffle along insights and bits you can learn from either.

Deitsch – for my money – is one of the better hosts/interviewers in the game right now because there is nothing he is afraid to ask (or so it seems) and he knows that the show isn’t about him, hitting the guests with quality questions and then giving them all the time they need to provide their answer. It’s something I’m working on for those odd times when I host the Keyboard Kimura podcast or while I’m doing interviews for stories.

One last thing that doesn’t come from the SI Media Podcast or any of the above, but just my general observations and conversations with some like-minded individuals: focus on your craft – getting better and moving forward – not social media and telling everyone about how much you’re grinding.

If you’re on Twitter all the damn time, how are you actually getting anything done? There is a time and place for the social media platform – and a certain utility to it as well – but quality content and a recognizable work ethic are far more important than how many followers you have and the number of times you tell people about all the work you’re doing.

Just get out there and grind. If you’re doing good work, people will notice.

That’s all for now.

Peace Out, Suckers.

Small Gestures, Big Impact

I got a really cool piece of mail today; like someone actually took the time to write me a card to say thank you, put a stamp on it and drop it in a mailbox.

It made my day to read it because their act of gratitude stemmed from something that I didn’t necessarily consider a big deal until I got their note. The fact that it came as an actual card and not an email or a Facebook message or a series of 140-character DMs or a text made it special, meaningful and I think that was the point – to convey that what I have been doing really registered and was appreciated.

I don’t write this as a means of patting myself on the back; I’m still only alright as far as the grand scheme of things are concerned. I’m not saying that to be fake humble either; I can be a fuck-up at times and still don’t make enough of an effort to connect with people, but I’m working on it and trying to make better choices.

Anyway…

I put this out there as a reminder that you can’t always know the impact you’re having and that acts you consider small or automatic or just something nice to do for a friend or a colleague or anyone can mean something so much more for the people on the receiving end.

Compliment people – on their work, their attitude, the things the do, whatever. Compliment people you know and complete strangers. Give the jogger you pass in the morning a high five just because. Tell people you appreciate what they’re doing even if it doesn’t have anything to do with you directly. Be nice. Be courteous. Hold the goddamn door open for other people and offer your assistance whenever the opportunity arises.

Interact with one another – the people you know and the people you don’t, including the friends of friends that show up in your timeline or that jump into your Twitter conversations. Is it really that hard to have a conversation with someone, in person or over the Internet, for a couple minutes about a subject you’re both interested in? Don’t just engage the cool kids either; that’s a dick move and you shouldn’t be a dick.

If you’re one of the cool kids, expand your circle and remember that there was a time when you weren’t one of the cool kids so stop being a dick and respond to people when they engage you. All of them. Message me and I’ll message you back; you have my word. I’m uncool like that.

Don’t do things just because they might have some benefit for you down the line. Random acts of kindness are so much better.

Network like crazy, but don’t be afraid to expand your circle beyond the handful of people you think can help you get ahead in some way, shape or form. That dude that sent you a request on LinkedIn might be trying to give you a kick-ass job and that girl who reached out for advice on Facebook might turn out to be the next big thing in her field of choice; do you really want to be the dick that didn’t get back to her when she was just starting out?

Again – how hard is it to offer some kind words and a little advice?

Because here’s the thing:

You may think you’re just clicking “Like” or hitting the “retweet” icon and passing something along to the people in your timeline or showing a little support to someone you know, but they might really need that encouragement and support. Whether they’re wrestling with a problem or just voicing their thoughts, it might be reassuring to read a quick comment that tells them how you feel.

You may think there is nothing to it – a quick “this was really good” on a story someone wrote or a reminiscence about a shared experience sparked by a picture or a song or a video – but it might mean the world to the other person.

Be good to one another.

Take a couple minutes every day to actually pay attention to the world around you, not just the screen in front of your face, says the guy sitting at his computer… again.

Say hello to your neighbours, give your loved ones a hug and tell them how much they mean to you and show your support to the people in your life.

Do this kind of stuff and you too might get a kick-ass note in the mail from a good friend who just wanted to say thanks for all the support and encouragement over the years.

And here I thought I was just doing something quick and easy and obvious.

Welcome

Hello and welcome to my little slice of the Internet.

This space, dubbed Freelance Central because I always tend to be writing in a couple different spots and like having one central location where you can check out all my work, will also serve as a personal blog whenever the urge strikes me to opine about something I can’t opine about elsewhere.

Since most of my work is confined to sports and pop culture, that means you’ll get rants about societal issues and plenty of random nonsense that makes me laugh, including discussions about my dog and the ridiculous things he does just about every day.

<—– Over here on the left, you’ll see some titles; those are pages that contain links to all my work at Keyboard Kimura, my long-running UFC blog with The Province, Among Men, the Toronto-based men’s lifestyle site where I’m Associate Editor of Sports and Entertainment, and the UFC website, where I have been contributing each month for the last four years.

Related Q: how has it already been four years? That’s crazy.

Anywho… I just wanted to stop by and say, “Hello and Welcome and Thanks for Stopping By,” let you know how this site works and direct you to the Contact page if you’re interesting in connecting on a project or telling me how much I suck.

Either way, you’re putting in effort and I appreciate it.

Peace out!

ESK