Guest Blog (Internal Champion: By Will Allen)

What’s up guys! It’s always fun to break it up sometimes and have a guest blogger. Will Allen is a good friend of mine. I played with Will for 2 years while with the Steelers. He played at Ohio State, and is an all around good dude. He’s managed to stick around and play in the NFL for a decade, and that is not easy at all. Even the best players that are extremely lucky don’t achieve that. That’s just a quick little introduction. The other day while he and I were hanging out we got to talking, and I suggested he should guest blog for me at some point. He took me up on the offer, and I really dig what he had to say and I think y’all will as well.  

 

Blessings,

 

Baron

 

The Internal Champion: By Will Allen

 

Often in deep contemplation or in simple conversation pondering the thought of the significance of panic and fearfulness in adverse times, when confronted in time of panic, confusion, stagnation and fear what will one do?

 

Many cave into the circumstance.

Many succumb to the experiences crippling effect.

Some fall short on a consistent basis.

 

In attempt to save face or embarrassment one will experiment almost anything in order not look at adversity as it stands. Think of situations in time when these moments occurred. What were the responses or reactions? How did the adversity affect you? How did the adversity affect those impacted by your decision?

 

I apologize if I’m too serious but its important that we thoroughly understand that in moments of panic, confusion and fear that an appropriate response is crucial.

 

The response of the ‘Internal Champion’.

 

So what is the Internal Champion?

 

The Internal Champion is not some gung-ho, rah-rah cheerleader type.

 

It is the type of person that when challenged, tried and tested, embraces it and knows how to make a wise yet timely decision. When on the fringe of destruction and destiny the Champion doesn’t think of failure. The Champion carries out all duties to the very best capabilities.

 

From an unselfish place that the Champion flourishes.

 

The result of the adversity is to make you and others around you complete. Internal Champions understand that the measure of the circumstance merely is to make them more equipped for the next challenge. You see, it is a perspective on how we view the adversity. Is the adversity an atrocity or does it stimulate the inner Champion?

 

Adversity is a sneaky beast that comes at the most inopportune times in different forms. It is inevitably around us.

Recognize the beast!

Don’t be dismayed by its appearance or structure. Know that this beast is there; to tame is the only remedy.

Are you to jump over a building in a single bound, dodge bullets, or be the leader of your neighborhood crime watch?

Of course not.

The task of becoming an Internal Champion simply requires that you derive from the moments in which you have only experienced and how you’ve handled them. Learn from the experiences. Learn your behaviors and reactions. Take an honest note and inventory.

Now envision yourself responding like a Champion.

Whatever the internal or external battle may be, do the very opposite you have done your entire life. The results are astounding. This is the development of your Internal Champion. It takes faith of the unseen and courage to discover that you are capable, one step at time, one adversity at time, one decision at time to respond knowing that confusion, panic and adversity are in place to pull out the Internal Champion.

-Will

Posted 8 months ago

 

Diary 63 (12 Hours part 2)

So what is 12 hours?

Ticks on a clock?

A really good night of sleep?

Yes, it is all of those things and so much more. When I started painting, the idea of someone owning or purchasing my art always kind of aggravated me.

“I like that painting. Can I buy it?”

 

A few years back I would get the question quite frequently, and it always resurrected the same ghoulish feeling. A feeling that I can’t quite describe but could possibly be a long lost cousin of stinginess.

This feeling has razor sharp claws and the demeanor of a fat mean cat. The fat cats that only let their owners pet them, and as soon as another hand comes… you guys know what happens.

 

BOOM!

Like a dadgum ninja.

The fat cat strikes and then immediately goes back to comfortably purring in its owners lap.

 

And as much as I dislike cats, I guess I’m not so much different when I feel my time being infringed upon.

 

But what I have realized is that I am doing it all wrong. I always say that being an artist is special because each day I get to create something that will outlive me. It’s a great feeling. But I have been too focused on the actual painting that I will leave. My art is more than just paint and canvas. That’s what makes art, well…art.

 

Because art is time.

And time fills the treasury.

It is someone’s existence wrapped and packaged for purchase in the form of something tangible.

 

And Scrooge McDuck doesn’t like his pile of time being fooled with. Each and every coin matters, because it is his.

 

Recently, someone inquired about a commissioned piece of artwork that they wanted done. I told them the price, to which they replied, “That is a lot of money for a canvas and 12 hours of time.”

 

And then it happened. Like the Snickers commercials where the guys turn into divas. I transformed into a fat cat, then hissed and swiped.

 

“Ma’am you aren’t just buying art. You are paying for the years I spent to learn and acquire my skills, to learn how to create the product that you want. You are paying for my ideas. You are paying for a part of my existence. My art is part of my existence in the form of a clock that resets each time you, or anyone else, looks at it or enjoys it.”

 

That was the thought that shot through my mind. And it got me thinking.

 

Why am I so stingy with my time?

 

Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with being selective over your time.

 

But if I want to truly leave my best here when I am gone, I have to give. My art is my time. But, in a way, the minute someone purchases it or I price it, it is no longer as valuable to me.

 

For the consumer, art only appreciates with time.

For the artist, it deprecates the instant they put a price on it.

Because their art is their time.

And time is priceless.

 

That is why time fills the treasury.

And I want to leave my best.

So my best has to be for free.

It has to be given.

 

Because only the best things you have, will you ever view as priceless.

 

This is why I feel most fulfilled when volunteering my time. In that moment, I am giving my time away in its purest form, I am giving the best I can offer in the only way it can ever be given.

 

Freely.

 

So back to 12 hours. It is so much more than just 12 hours when given for free.

 

It is a memory. It is a feeling. It is a legacy. It is a hot meal for someone less fortunate. It is helping pick up trash. It is giving someone a ride who doesn’t have a car. It is going to a nursing home to converse with the elderly just because. It is giving away your most valuable skills because they are yours to give.

 

Simply because you can. And that’s it.

 

Within your most valuable skills, lies your Treasury.

 

And that is what must be emptied to leave anything worthwhile. Because everything else will fade away. But the contents that once filled a now empty Treasury will always help people realize that they too have one. And when the time comes, it will prompt them to empty theirs as well.

 

And that is lasting.

 

Spend 12 hours. It is 43,200 clicks on a clock. It is waiting in traffic. It is heating up a TV dinner. It is boring. It is mundane. It fades.

 

But give 12 hours, and part of you will get to live forever.

 

The simplest concepts are often the most ironic.

 

If time fills the treasury, then the richest of us all have nothing. And the bum on the street with an empty vault is King.

 

For 2014 I wanted to challenge myself. Well, let me rephrase that. I have been convicted of the very thing I just explained, and have decided to act on it.

 

So I am giving away 12 hours.

 

Once a month for the entire year, I am going to give away a piece of art that I spend exactly one hour on. I’m giving it away randomly and completely free of charge. There is no rhyme or reason. It is simply me giving my best.

 

My challenge to all of you that read this is to find a way to give 12 hours.

 

12 precious and priceless hours of existence.

 

The series of art I will be doing is simply called 12 hours. The paintings are not planned. I don’t have any idea what I will paint. I’ll just sit down and make the very best art that I can in 1 hour, and then give that away for free.

 

Doesn’t the phrase, “Always give your best” mean something entirely different now?

 

I’ve been trying to “spend my best,” and vintage bubble gum machines don’t take debit.

 

Blessings,

 

Baron

Posted 8 months ago

 

Diary 62 (12 Hours)

How long is 12 hours?

Simply 43,200 seconds.

It is measured in Time.

But what is that?

Something that, at some point, we have all claimed we didn’t have enough of?

Possibly something that we are all protective over?

The currency that we spend to buy meaningful stock in life?

So maybe 12 hours is much more than 12 hours.

Maybe it is much more than 43,200 ticks of a second hand.

It is much more.

It is a moment on the hand of a clock, a kiss, the turning of a book page, a blink of an eye, the space between a hummingbirds wings, the ripening of an orange or falling leaves, it is life and it is death, a scheduled UPS mail delivery, a little digital number showing when a Facebook post was created, the click to hit enter on a keyboard, the slightest twitches in your eyes as you read these words, and the electrical synaptic flicker that allowed your brain to process what that even means.

Forever in a lightning bolt.

Eternity hidden in hummingbird wings.

The Sun burning within our chests.

The birth of a million stars, within a million heartbeats.

And all at once.

Synchronized.

It is much more than a number.

The most important things always are.

I guess it’s easy to give something away freely when it isn’t what’s most important to you. It’s easy to dump stock that you have invested little to nothing in, and yields small returns.

It’s easy to give away used socks, and throw a handful of change into a rusty can.

It’s easy to write a check.

Now don’t get me wrong, none of those things are bad. They aren’t bad at all.

… but…

They are easy.

And as long as the Treasury is safe, they will always be that way.

Easy.

But even ‘Easy’ is bound by Time.

It is the lack of Time used to attain something to which we give value.

‘Easy’ is a salvaged ship with no sails, acquired for free. Steered but never moving, by a lazy captain who barks orders to his crew of ghosts that have yet to realize their Life walked the plank years before.

And with It, their Purpose submerged into the dark water. Left to drown, crying out like sirens to the sailors above, as water rushes into their tired lungs.

‘Easy’ is a doomed ship. It is the mirage of movement and the illusion of progress.

But hard things are good things.

Things that bring you to the gate of Selfishness, where a decision must be made.

Because hard things take Time.

And Time is Value.

Difficulty is the doorbell to the Treasury. It alerts the priceless Time within when something of value may be worth giving itself away to. Something worth leaving the Treasury for.

Time sees value in difficulty, and acknowledgment through Selfishness.

Because without our own selfishness, we could never use any of our Time.

And whenever Time leaves the treasury, it has to acknowledge the Gatekeeper.

And this Gatekeeper has a name. We have all met him.

We know him as Selfish, the Gatekeeper between the Treasury and what we perceive as Time.

He is neither good nor bad, but simply necessary.

He has a job and does it well.

He is the thought of, ‘should I?’ He inhales the air of, ‘this is mine,’ and exhales the breath of, ‘is this a good investment?’ His heartbeat thumps to the rhythm of the 5 words.

“What. Is. Worth. My. Time.”

He is the thin veil that all of our thoughts pass through.

He is the spark of thought that nods adieu to our most valuable asset as it leaves the treasury, becoming something that we can understand, weigh, number and value.

Currency.

But Time is not a currency.

Time can only be given. Not spent.

A billionaire could fill a collection plate with hundred dollar bills, but would not be so inclined to open his Treasury and give One Hour.

He could buy his family the biggest house, best clothes and vehicles.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

But that’s easy.

And the best of what he has to offer is not.

Would the Billionaire open the Treasury and allow One Hour to humbly leave, holding its briefcase and acknowledging the Treasury’s Selfish Gatekeeper with a nod while proceeding to his daughter’s recital?

Maybe. But maybe not.

If it helps to think of time as currency, then imagine Time as the only currency that makes its own decision as to what it should be spent on, how long it stays in the Treasury, when it wants to leave, and what is worth leaving for.

The Treasury door unlocks from the inside, and Time holds the keys.

Time leaves the Treasury freely, and at its own discretion.

Passing the Selfish Gatekeeper, who nods in acknowledgement as it transforms into terms that we understand. Terms of hours, days, and years. Terms that we can measure and time. Currency that we think we can spend.

But we can’t. We simply cannot spend Time.

Because trying to is most certainly a dangerous mirage.

The instant we believe we are spending Time like currency, our ship loses its sails, while raising the flag that the fleet of ‘Easy’ flies. A fleet that believes it is guarding something valuable.

Trying to spend time makes the Priceless meaningless.

Giving Time freely however, makes the Priceless live forever.

Because Time is value.

And that is why it is the hardest thing to give away for free. But freely is the only way it can be spent.

And that is why Time fills the Treasury.

It comes in the form of coins that are neither gold nor platinum. Diamonds, rubies and emeralds cannot compare.

Money fills the banks.

But Time fills the treasury.

Filled with coins that cannot be weighed on any earthly scale, and so beautiful that they shouldn’t have a value.

Because a value does not deserve to be tied to it.

It is above that.

If Priceless had a face, it surely would be stamped onto the currency of Time that fills the Treasury.

Where Priceless is the President, and in his wallet he holds his currency of no value.

Time.

Currency stamped with his image.

Currency that we are unable to spend.

Only give.

And I have been Scrooge McDuck.

 

Come back to read more

 

Blessings,

 

Baron

 

Posted 8 months ago

 

Diary 61 (Goodbye Weekend)

Earlier this week, I was texting my editor because I had no idea what I wanted to write about for this week’s column. I was having a terrible case of writer’s block. I forgot how difficult it is to write this thing each week. But honestly, that’s why I agreed to resume doing it again, because it challenges me as a writer.

As I sat down at the coffee shop and opened my computer, nothing came to mind.

I glanced through some of the texts that Terry and I had exchanged earlier in the week about ideas, as I did my best to brainstorm for what I wanted to write about.

But nothing.

No good ideas.

No cool stories.

Just like the blinking line at the beginning of the empty Word document.

And just like it appeared and disappeared, ideas would come but were quickly dismissed into the trash bucket located in my mind, where all of my terrible ideas wait in thought purgatory, plotting their escape at a later date.

Ideas slipped through my fingers as if I were grabbing at smoke.

And on top of that, the dadgum hipsters next to me were talking so loud that I could barely hear my own internal dialogue with myself, which I lean heavily upon when brainstorming.

All I could hear were the two hipsters.

Clutching their tiny little espresso cups angrily, they were engaged in what seemed a heated conversation.

So doing what I do best when I cant think any useful thoughts of my own, I began to people watch, taking in my surroundings while listening in on the conversation of the two skinny-jeaned heroes, wielding their tiny espresso shots of power.

Hipster 1:

“I know, dude. I don’t get it. Do they not like understand that we have families too? I mean its not like I’d be going home for the holidays anyway, but like who wants to have to work during the holidays? I hate my fu***** job.  Total bull****.”

Hipster 2:

“I know, right.  You know to these companies we will always just be employees. They don’t care about us having to work on the holidays. They could care less.”

I chuckled to myself upon hearing the improper use of the phrase, “They could care less.” Because I am pretty sure that their bosses did care quite a bit less than even they imagined.

A whole lot less actually.

“All about the money, dude. They are just trying to make as much money as they can. It’s fu**** up, bro.”

Hipster 1:

“I didn’t go to school to do sh** like this. If I owned a company, I would definitely give employees off during the holidays.”

Hipster 2:

“One day, man. One day.”

I’m not sure what my facial expression was at that exact moment after hearing their dialogue, but I think it would explain what I was feeling better than words ever could.

Thoughts began to flood my mind about the ridiculousness of the two angry hipsters whose work ethic was probably filled less than the tiny cups that held their espresso.

And then it hit me. I knew what I was going to write about.

Thank you, lazy hipsters.

This is my letter of apology for my generation.

 

Dear Generations Before Us,

I issue my sincerest apologies. I am sorry that we lack work ethic. I am sorry that we do not know the difference between having equal rights and having equal things.

I am sorry that we feel entitled to be entitled.

I am sorry that we see hard things as bad things.

I apologize for the bubbles of narcissism that so many of us aimlessly float around in, comfortably complaining.

I’m sorry that when many of us hear the word ‘capitalism,’ we become offended and think it is a political stance.

I am sorry that most of us don’t even know what capitalism is. But it’s not surprising because, granted, it is a hard concept to grasp if you don’t know what ‘work’ is either.

I am sorry that we have attached a negative meaning to the word ‘work,’ while complaining that there are no jobs.

I am sorry that we see a problem and collectively find community in complaining about it instead of fixing it.

I am sorry that we do not understand the beauty and fulfillment of what work should actually be.

I am sorry that we strive to retire as soon as possible instead of pursuing jobs that we never want to stop working.

I am sorry that we have big goals, dreams, and ideas, but we think those will just happen over time. I am sorry that we waste so much time on meaningless things, yet complain that no one invests their time into things that matter.

I’m sorry that we think college or job title validates our worth.

I am sorry that we think college is a shortcut to higher income, and turn away jobs that we view as lesser.

I’m sorry we ignore that the bosses worked their way up to their title. I’m sorry that we think we are qualified for a position based upon a sheet of paper rather than applicable job skills.

I am sorry that we all want to be bosses and not have to work for it.

I am sorry that we do not know the difference between disagreement and discrimination. I am sorry that we do not know how to argue respectfully, and disagree with intelligence.

I am sorry that we do not question things we hear, and cannot explain why we believe what we know without a statistic, article or information that we read without questioning.

I am sorry that we are the most connected yet disconnected generation ever. I am sorry that most of us cannot maintain a face-to-face conversation anymore.

I am sorry that some of us do not know the proper way to shake hands, and have never looked another human in the eyes and said, “You have my word.”

I am sorry we do not know or value history like we should.

I am sorry that we use the constitution as a safety harness to repel down cliffs of ignorance to get as close as possible to delinquency while still being protected.

I am sorry that we think that just because we have the right to speak we always should.

I am sorry that many of us do good to be good, but don’t do good because it is good.

I am sorry that we do not know the difference between needs and wants.

I am sorry that if something doesn’t instantly gratify us, we dislike it.

I am sorry that we do not appreciate time, and misconstrue busyness with productivity.

I am sorry that we hold information to just about anything we want to learn on our cell phones, yet we use lack of education as an excuse for shortcomings.

I am sorry that we struggle to know the difference between information, knowledge, intelligence and wisdom, and struggle even more with knowing when to apply any of the four.

I am sorry that we cannot recognize or appreciate quality things over quick things.

I am sorry that we do not know how to get punched in the mouth, spit out some blood, punch back, then shake hands and move on regardless of victory.

I am sorry that we camouflage our softness in a cozy blanket of political correctness.

I am sorry that we reciprocate fear caused from being misinformed with hate.

I am sorry that we simply are misinformed. There is no excuse for that.

I’m sorry that we don’t acknowledge that there are, have been, and always will be bullies in the world. I’m sorry that we are not preparing ourselves for that truth instead we waste energy on changing the bullies that ultimately don’t, or may never care.

I am sorry that ‘sticks and stones’ no longer applies.

I am sorry that our skin is not tough, and we do not appreciate scars.

I am sorry that we want a utopia, but only as long as it is within our direct breadth of contact confined to the bubble of narcissism in which we live.

I am sorry that we strive to change others more than we do ourselves.

I’m sorry that we cry out for morality, while joking about deaths of others on social media.

I am sorry that we are so sensitive yet desensitized.

I am sorry that we are rocks protected by eggshells.

I’m sorry that we take more pictures of ourselves, than we do of our families and loved ones.

I am sorry we buy gifts instead of giving time.

I am sorry that yes sir, no sir, yes ma’am, no ma’am, please and thank you are slowly fading away.

I’m sorry that the phrase YOLO was ever created.

I am sorry that we don’t live lives that will be enjoyed more by others once we are gone, than they are by us right now.

I am sorry that we think more about life than we do death, but live lives that cause us to die more than we live.

I am sorry that we simply live for the weekend while letting everyone know how much we hate Mondays, instead of doing something that makes it easy to say goodbye to the weekend for good.

I am sorry that we complain about not having more days off.

We truly have done nothing to earn them.

For all these things I apologize.

I will do my part to help change them.

Sincerely,

A concerned Millennial

 

 

To my fellow occupants of this world and life travelers, we must work to do better.

To my fellow Millennials of this generation, let’s do better.

Work is a gift from God, and work ethic gives us strong enough hands to unwrap our legacy to give away once we are gone.

A new year is quickly approaching and many resolutions will be made.

But for me, I just want to say goodbye to the weekend for good.

I don’t want days off.

I don’t deserve them, but it feels good to know that I don’t really need them either.

 

Blessings,

Baron

 

 

Posted 9 months ago