14 miles before 5AM

Another update for today’s post!

Yesterday I completed my goal of running every weekday. I woke up at 4:30AM everyday and ran 2.5 miles with the exception of Monday, where I ran 3.5 instead. The goal was interesting because it required that I get up 15 minutes before my alarm. I thought that this would make me more exhausted throughout the day. Instead I found that I had the same level of energy for the day.

Exercising in the morning also pushed the importance of getting to bed early. I managed to get to sleep about an hour earlier each night. I didn’t feel more rested but I felt more satisfied knowing that I was exercising daily. This isn’t to say that I sprung out of bed with an enthusiastic smile on my face every morning. I found that I got out of my bed on my first alarm. Usually I roll over through 4-5 alarms.

My diet became more regulated early in the week. As Wednesday rolled around I consumed less protein and found myself eating worse than I was before I started running. I can’t remember the last time I ate so badly. I attribute it to my lack of protein consumption but it could have been a variety of other things. As I exercise more often I require a higher caloric intake and as a vegetarian most of my diet is low calories. Eating more carrots didn’t satisfy me, so I found myself reaching for chocolate instead.

Overall it was a good experience. I’m proud of myself for getting up early and completing this goal on the first attempt. It was gratifying to say that I had run a little under 14 miles before 5:00AM this week. All together that isn’t very much distance but it fit into my schedule and I made it work. More than the 0 miles from the week before.

Will I run everyday next week? Probably not, but I will be running more often in the morning. I’ll aim for 3 days a week and see how that feels. It’s going to be insane sleeping in til 5:00AM this week! I never thought I would say that!

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Personal Post # 1,506,324

I apologize but today’s going to be another ramble. It’s a blog after all. Maybe this week should be called “self-discovery and long personal posts” or something along those lines. You see, I’m having an identity crisis. I’ve hit a point in my life where I’m incredibly conscious of everything but I don’t know what I want or who I want to be. I’m stuck at indecision and I’m stalling my engine out.

Actually, I really like that analogy. Right now I feel as if I’m an engine stalling. Wikipedia describes engine stalls like this:

[An engine stall] is commonly applied to the phenomenon whereby an engine abruptly ceases operating and stops turning. It might be due to not getting enough airfuel, or electric spark, mechanical failure, or in response to a sudden increase in engine load.

Who I am is represented by the engine. Instead of lacking air, fuel, or an electric spark, I’m lacking time, interaction with other people, and resources to expend creativity. I’m choking as a person because I don’t know what to do with what I have. My gears have stopped turning.

There are so many things in front of me now. I could focus on creating a business, specializing in teach and photography. That’s what I truly want to do. I want to be honest and full with myself. A business strategy is to release information slowly so that people come back from more and stay loyal. I do not want this as my model. I do not want to hold information back or teach others slowly.

What I fear is the rudimentary aspects of accomplishing this goal. The most obvious and common fear being defeat. It sounds silly but to go for your dreams is risky. If you don’t make it, what will you fantasize about afterwards? The next rudimentary obstacle is the smaller things like daily dedication. I get off work and I don’t want to work anymore.

If I’m doing something I’m passionate about, it should sustain itself, right?

I can’t imagine using blogging in any other way. This is such a personal and easy way to communicate with others. It’s open forum and free information. There’s a lot of free information out there but I hope to create something different. Maybe my content isn’t unique.

Returning to business, I want to have my photography business. I just don’t know what I can contribute. I can barely take photos anymore and I don’t have the capabilities to edit. I have money to pursue whatever I want but I fear I’ll choose the wrong thing. I could buy Adobe CC but what if I choose to do something else instead? Then I’ll just have wasted my money.

In the end it probably doesn’t matter what I choose. I just need to get my engine cranking again so I can start to move. I need to push out the energy and just fucking do it.

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(not the end of frustration)

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Decisions Will Eat You Up

This is a continuation of posts written back at myself. They’re not intended to entertain but rather to speak to myself. If you find the content relative to your life and what you’re going through, great. The point of these posts is to express this out of my system.

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There will be points in your life where you could walk on 15 different roads. None of them lead to the same place. None of them are better than their alternatives. Yet we always look for the best option. I find myself guilty of stopping at every forklift to contemplate where each direction will take me.

These forklifts almost tear me in half with where they potentially could lead. I’ll sit for days on the most rudimentary decision. Or wait another ten minutes to reply with the perfect response. The silly thing is that this added wait time doesn’t contribute to a better result. More often than not, it’s just a waste of time.

Tim Ferriss has a podcast where he talked a bit about this. Procrastinating what you truly need to do is a waste of time. The advice he transcribed says that we should write a list of our greatest anxieties. Those are the things which we need to carry out the most. These rudimentary decisions I need to make are all about avoidance.

I’ve avoided stupid things like calling the cable company to set up internet (because I hate phone calls), taking photos (because I’d have to buy Adobe CC again), and getting a new car (because there’s so much hassle in buying something). Believe me, the list goes on way beyond this.

Many days I’ll just go for walks to kill time. The truth is, I don’t really have time to kill. There are so many things that I need to take care of that going for a walk is just avoiding what I really need to do.

Sylvia Plath once wrote a poem about a fig tree. She saw all these potentials growing out in front of her but she couldn’t just choose one. If she chose one, that meant she wasn’t choosing the rest. Instead of picking one and enjoying it, she sat at the base of the tree and all the figs fell dead at her feet.

I have no idea how to say this to you but you need to make decisions. The things that are important to you are disappearing and it’s because of your simple fears like making phone calls that you’re not achieving what you want to. Everybody struggles with procrastination but I fear I am a master of it.

If I delay too long I will run out of time!

200/365

The Beginning of Blogging

Waking up to my 100th day in Charleston tomorrow is going to be strange. Ever since I’ve started this 365 project the days have flown by. Tomorrow will also mark the 200th day of this project and I feel forced to re-evaluate the reasons why I started blogging. After all, I’ve spent more time blogging than I care to admit and to an audience that I could count on my left hand. The point of this post isn’t going to be to entertain. I just want to write this one for me.

The whole project originates back in 2009, when I first ran across Anna Szczekutowicz‘s work on Flickr. She was a younger photographer at the time and I found her work around 100 days into what she called a 365 project. It’s where she took a photograph everyday and posted it on the site. There usually wasn’t much writing but man were her photos breath-taking.

By 2010 I had decided to do my own photography 365 project. I tried it, usually only making it to day 20 before giving up. On my 6th try I made it all the way through. Another artist named Carolyn Snyder helped motivate me and kept me accountable for my posts. Around this time Anna took down her photo-stream and I felt like somebody had ripped a carpet out from under me. Removing your original inspiration leaves you with a hole and forces you to see what truly motivates you.

What I found motivational turned out to be my need for expression. The project gave me an outlet to get away from the world and do my thing. While it was escapism at the best, I found I grew more with photography than anything else in my life. The bug had bit me and I was forced to scratch that itch for years.

My project completed in early 2011 with no hiccups. Photography coursed through my blood at this point and seemed to be the only path I had. Many of my friend knew me because they saw me carrying a camera around. I had shot a dozen senior photos and most of my friends had modeled for me during the 365 project. I lived and breathed art.

Another great inspiration at the time was Linus Hui of Linus & the Feel Good Factory. He completed three 365 projects and evolved my concept of the project. Linus’ art was photography but it had a different take. Instead of just being a beautiful photograph, he included paper crafts that he designed. In addition, at the bottom of his posts, he wrote a tutorial on how to be or do something. “How to fake interest in conversations or on dates” was just the fourth day of his 3rd project.

What Linus showed me was that there really aren’t any rules on a 365 project. When I worked on my photography 365, I was strict and wanted a full year of only images. After that, I realized that art was so much greater than the limitations that we place on it. Restricting myself to taking photographs produced a portfolio but it didn’t satisfy my creative itch. I need something more.

I spent years looking for what that scratch might be. I delved into a 90-day project (like Anna’s) and found no satisfaction.Producing art had always given me fulfillment but I couldn’t figure out why it stopped. Perhaps this is something all artists face occasionally.

2012 was a great year because I finally found something that satisfied me. At this time, the photography community shifted from a photo-sharing site (Flickr) to Facebook. Involvement with up-and-coming photographers on Flickr gave me the ability to be friends with photographers on Facebook and interact with them on a personal level. These interactions lead me to becoming active on WordPress.com, where I could interview and write about artists.

The most satisfaction came from writing about artists and reviewing their work. This time bore “The Anatomy of a Dreamer“, “The Memory Get-ter“, “Navel Oranges“, “Eric Albee” (original personal blog), as well as many other projects. The inspiration that lead other artists to create inspired me. I suddenly understood why people create and I felt it again in a greater sense.

Mid-2012 I changed career fields and spend June and July immersed in training. I didn’t have access to the outside world until September and I was so wrecked from training that I didn’t know who I was anymore. The damage the training incurred made me have to reconstruct who I was and who I wanted to be.

Blogging came back naturally in slow increments. I experimented with other mediums like painting and vlogging as a way to figure out who I was. Inspiration came sporadically and I didn’t have very much time to myself. The nights I spent painting were often concluded with a sigh and a lack of satisfaction. The skill I desired needed more time than I had to give to it. I wanted to be good at these things but I couldn’t spend 10 hours learning a new skill each day.

The interesting thing is that although I didn’t feel satisfied, I still felt compelled to create. Something drove me to go to art and I couldn’t explain it at the time.

Stress ruined me from September to October and I turned to many Buddhist texts. I found that the advice I read could relieve a couple of hours of stress and give me an emotional break. Essentially these books helped me rebuild myself. Everyday I woke up and dreaded going to work. I would come home after 9 hours and cry in the shower or sob on the phone seeking consolation. Books like “The Power of Now” taught me coping mechanisms and released the clamp I felt I had on my head.

In October I met another artist who lived in the same building as me. We shared our frustrations and meeting him released a lot of stress. Suddenly I knew that I wasn’t alone and that other people suffered through the same things that I did. We spent a lot of time talking about art and just hanging out. It was good to physically know an artist.

I was forced to move away from that friend in October.  I didn’t have anyone to have deep conversations with anymore. Blogging filled that hole and shifted purposes. It gave me a way to create a monologue of what I wanted to say. Although there wasn’t conversation, I was able to express myself again.

Around the end of November I had an emotional charge about censorship. I couldn’t contain myself and it was like a last burst before I started blogging regularly. The truth is that I’ve blogged since my 2010 trip to Spain. It wasn’t until this emotion charge that I felt compelled to write more often and with purpose.

December 2nd I decided to start another 365 project. Instead of taking photographs everyday I wanted to write. It didn’t matter what I wrote about as long as it was 100 words every day. My job couldn’t take my life away from me and I wanted to prove that to myself. I was an artist and it was in my soul to create.

That unnerving lack of satisfaction I dealt with disappeared. Even though I didn’t have my camera or the equipment I could produce something that was my own. Days passed by and I had writing to prove that I was alive. No longer did I feel totally repressed.

After about 15 days I knew the project was going to stick. The words started off philosophical and my posts revolved around dealing with stress. These were things I knew and could easily write about. I was recording my life at one of the most stressful times I had ever experienced and sharing that with everyone.

As the year concluded my mother flew down to visit for Christmas. When the holidays were over,  the stress about work changed to homesickness and loneliness. I felt alone again and I wanted my old life back. My blog reflected this with about 20 posts about missing my cat and house.

The reason I started my 365 was to relieve this stress and to talk about it. Perhaps blogging was more of a conversation with myself than it was with anyone else. Photography was an expression that other people could appreciate even if they didn’t understand the message. Blogging is very different. It was direct and a tool I needed to rebuild a broken Eric.

As time progressed blogging documented my life events rather than hopeful Buddhist advice. When a boy unexpectedly kissed me in class, I wrote about it. Going home was a huge time for me, so I spent a week writing about it. Finishing training was a huge event. Moving to Charleston on day 100 was a huge life change. Becoming involved with another openly gay guy here lifted me up through 5 posts (and shoved me back down afterwards with 10 posts). Blogging was a way to digest everything that was happening.

As tomorrow marks day 200 out of 365 days, I really have to look at why I blog. Is there purpose to write for another 165 days? The answer is obvious; yes.

Blogging means so much to me; It records my life at any given moment it allows me to digest thoughts and things that I’m thinking about regularly, it opens my eyes towards what I’m doing with my life. Blogging reminds me that I still have some say over what’s happening. It gives me the opportunity to share my passions and experiences with other people. I feel human after writing. Blogging gives me something to share. It is medicinal after a heartbreak. Writing this fuels a fire within that I cannot put out. I feel compelled to create everyday and I haven’t found anything that satisfies me greater than caving in to that desire.

That is why I blog.

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I apologize for how long this post became. This past year has been filled with a lot of emotions and I didn’t want to restrain why I blog. That would almost be self-defeating. If you made it this far, thank you for reading. I really urge you to start your own blog over at WP.com. It’s life-changing, free, and will take you only 10 minutes to learn.

Truth about Food

With all the fad diets going around, food is a subject we should be talking about more often. The media tells us sugar is bad, carbs are bad, fat is bad, and everything else that you could ingest. With all of this conflicting information, it is difficult to grasp which information is correct.

One of the resources I turn to is an  organization called PsycheTruth, which produces 10-20 minute lectures on subjects varying from happiness to diet. These videos, which are all free on YouTube, explain “super-foods“, easy ways to become healthier, protein substitutes for vegetarians, and how chemicals that are used in spaceship re-entry tiles are in your Mt. Dew. While the purpose of their videos is to inform, the information that they teach is easier to digest than any class I’ve taken.

It was almost two years ago I first ran across the video embedded below. It features Corrina Rachel discussing the various types of carbohydrates. She explains the glycemic index, the difference between glucose and fructose, and why eating a Snickers bar has less of a sugary impact than white bread. The simple 15 minute video has affected the way that I eat for the past two years. Simple things, like knowing that cooked vegetables act more like sugar than raw vegetables, make me reach for the raw food. When I’m getting ready in the morning, I go for the yogurt instead of the bagel.

While there is a lot of information to take in, I wanted to briefly write about this organization. PsycheTruth has been an invaluable resource for various topics and I have a huge appreciation for everything they create. All of their content is free and enlightening. Similar to Roadtrip Nation, their work makes the world a better place. If you have 10-20 minutes to spare, I highly recommend you watch the video above or scan through their collection on YouTube.

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Inspire Us All # 2

 

Following Your Dreams

As humans we relate through emotions, whether that means sharing laughs or sulking against the world together. A side effect of being able to pair up with others, is taking on the each other’s problems. Often times, when we relate we become defensive over one another: “if you mess with my friend, you mess with me too”. While this connection is great, we need to make sure that we don’t confuse our dreams and ambitions with our friend’s.

What I’ve found is that I can learn what motivates other people easily. I learn how the gears work and I try to drive myself with their ambitions. Friends of mine were ambitious about going to college (as much of the population is) and it started to wear on me. I started to think that the only way I would be happy was if I went to college too. Photographers that I’m friends with decided to become freelance artists and shifted their work towards commercial art. Most of their work became weddings and senior photos. So I started thinking that the only way I could become a freelance artist was if I shifted to wedding and senior portrait photography.

The difficult with taking on other people’s dreams is that when you achieve them, you don’t get the satisfaction of doing your own thing. When you follow someone else’s dream, you neglect what you need. What you need is to follow what you want to do. You don’t want to feel unfulfilled but how can you feel fulfilled doing something that you’re not passionate about?

Deep down, the comfort you find within yourself stems from having a purpose for what you are doing. When what you’re doing doesn’t have a purpose or bring you fulfillment, you suffer internally. You may not notice it at first but living someone else’s dreams leaves you feeling empty inside. That rush of excitement isn’t long-lasting or deep-rooted.

Take some time out of your life to reorient yourself towards your ambitions. Write out a dream list of everything you want to do. Don’t neglect anything. This is an exercise I do weekly with whiteboards hanging on my walls. Currently I have 6 whiteboards in my room for various things. The one to my immediate right is called “The Crazy Board”.

On “The Crazy Board” I write everything that “if I could have it, it’s here”. It consist of interviews with famous musicians, photographers, reviews of movies and photo series. It also has simpler ideas like featuring some of my friends or asking questions to people on Facebook. Unsurprisingly, travelling often appears on this board. It’s a board of everything that I want to do at any given moment.

All week I add to this board and at the end of it, I erase it. The things that keep coming back are the ones that are important for me to do. If I continue to write “travel to Iceland” for a month straight, I know that it’s something I’m serious about. If the interviews with celebrities fall off the list, then they aren’t as important. They’re not a consistent dream of mine. Basically, the things that disappear are things that I can live without doing.

With how short life is, prioritizing and finding your own path are of the utmost importance. We’ve only got 80 years to live and we can’t spend the whole time dreaming. We also can’t spend the whole time living someone else’s dream. If you find something that you really want to do, you’ll find a way to get to it.

Don’t worry if your dreams are different from everybody else’s. Other photographers want different things out of life than I do, so of course their dreams are going to be different from mine. If you want something unique, you’re going to have to do something unique to get it.  Just follow your own unique path and you’ll be surprised where you end up. There is nothing more fulfilling than following your dreams.

197/365

 

 

Where do you run to?

Running gives me this rush that is really difficult to explain. Runner’s high makes you feel elated or numb but when I run I get goosebumps. It’s like I feel all of my emotions at once and I channel them through my body. Any frustration, depression, loss, loneliness, happiness, or anything else gets expressed with each step. I feel it so deep that the feeling is almost in my bones. The goosebumps on my arms tell me that the feeling is all-encompassing. Depths to surface, it’s my whole body speaking.

When I am running regularly, my diet also regulates. I eat a lot more food but I expend a lot more energy. I can burn through what’s in my body and replace it. It feels like my body is full of stagnant water but when I run it starts cycling. Making my blood flow makes me conscious of my body and weary of anything that could harm it. I drink things like wheat grass instead of grabbing the soda or juice. Eating healthy clears my mind and improves my mood. Therefore, regular exercise helps me clear my mind and improve my mood.

Using all of that energy is a double-sided coin. If I run in the morning, it wakes me up and boosts my mood for the day. If I run in the evening, it knocks me out for the night. Either way, my mood increases and my quality of sleep doubles. All in all, running makes me conscious of my body and willing to work for it. If that means going to bed early, then I will. If that means walking past the ice cream, then I do.

My goal for this week is to wake up at 4:30AM everyday (Monday-Friday) and run. The distance doesn’t matter because once I get out I’ll run no matter what. I need to find something to physically discipline myself. I know that I can blog daily or do a myriad of other things but exercise has always escaped me. Last year I was exercising 5 days a week (mostly swimming) and it was amazing. I felt on top of the world. I don’t expect running to fix my life problems but I want to work on something. It something I feel like I can do and I’m excited to start. I won’t be excited tomorrow at 4:25AM when my alarms go off, but in the end it will pay off. Running has always done something to my head, I guess we’ll have to see where this first week takes me!

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