moment preservation

to solve for X, use less than three

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Talking to Myself

I’ve been sick for 5 days. I can’t recall the last time when I grew sick within a one month period. I believe it may be the tail end of my “cigarette withdrawals.” This week has been rough, the coughing spasms were the worst they’ve been since I quit cigarettes. But it also may have been due to the fact that I continued blazing it until 3 days ago. Though the 3 days was slow, lifeless- here I am back at it. I smoked my first bowl today since before the spasms. I’m still a little congested, but even so, today I felt what it was like to finally be free from cigarettes. I’m at the tail end of my withdrawals.

The hit was clean, clear, and under control. Like a Neutrogena commercial. I’m listening to this amazing Chill Party playlist on Spotify and it’s really amazing. Did I say it was amazing? Because it is. It’s triple the amazing. 

I have $3 in my bank account. I spent $380 at Target yesterday and somehow managed to spend another $120 today. I need to quit Target like I quit cigarettes. Today before Target I had spent 2 hours with Josh Cohn at WinCo buying a week’s worth of food for $80. And minutes later I dropped $120 at Target on kitchen stuff. Target is a disease.

I need to go to the bank tonight and replenish my accounts. I have officially leveled up my existence by purchasing nice upgrades for the things I already do on a daily basis. For example, I bought $100 bed sheets, and holy monster balls is it soft. I have never felt so cool yet so cozy. Bombest sleep I’ve ever had on my Temperpeudtic. Oh yeah, the bed I paid $3000 for two years ago that has had the same $40 sheet on them since. What the fuck Andrew. What were you thinking?

No more of that good for you. It’s cramping your growth. Level yourself up and do the right thing. If you cut your hair, clean that shit up right after. If you don’t plan for 10 minutes to clean, then cutting your hair can wait.

Upgrade your hat homie. The cheap straw hat doesn’t match anything. Step your hat game up like you stepped your bed game up. Graduate from that which was college. You are a grown ass man and it’s time to be that certified G that you always knew you’d be.

Smoke every night to celebrate a great day. Allow yourself some time to spend building your businesses. Create a SquareSpace site for Kush and Caviar, create a SquareSpace site for amori Photography (skyline Los Angeles silhouette with letters for website top banner). Also include amoriweddings, vcestates, and amoriphoto.

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In Health…

It has been 3 weeks since I crushed up my last pack of cigarettes. That weekend with Tassha and Christina followed by the Fantasy Football draft day was one of the worst things I’ve ever done to my body. I think I smoked through 2 packs of cigarettes in 3 days. It was definitely not the business.’

The most influential piece of information that has helped me quit was this infographic that showed what happens to your body over certain periods of time when you quit cigarettes. Those were:

In 8 hours: excess carbon monoxide is out of your blood.

In 5 days: most nicotine is out of your body.

In 1 week: your sense of taste and smell improves.

In 12 weeks: your lungs regain the ability to clean themselves

In 3 months: your lung function begins to improve

In 12 months: your risk of heart disease has halved

In 5 years: your risk of a stroke has dramatically decreased.

So, as you can see, quitting cigarettes was more so of regaining control over my body and revitalizing my body’s ability to take care of itself. Even 3 weeks in, I’ve still got that morning cough I’d have after 8 hours of not smoking. Normally, I would resort to smoking a cigarette to cover my lungs with tar and control the cough. But not this time :)

The weekend after the 11 girl party bus to Hollywood was Made in America. Holy smokes… Kendrick Lamar and John Mayer blew my away! Other notable artists were Capital Cities, Imagine Dragons and Borgore. It was such an unbelievable experience to be able to party with so many great friends on the streets of downtown LA. There were a few firsts for me that weekend. The most important 2 being that it was the first music festival I went through without smoking a single cigarette, and that it was the first music festival that I fully enjoyed from beginning to end. Even the after partying at the hotel made me happy. All in all, I had a fucking blast. And I don’t think I can really say that about any other festivals in the past.

I think that it really came down to the conversation between Shaydon and I, and I and Byron (ref. ‘Fundamental Solutions’ blog). Ever since that conversation with them, something deep inside of my mind changed. Something that makes me want to be a better person, not for anyone else, for solely because I am capable of doing so. Why choose negativity? Why choose pessimism? Why choose pain? As human beings, we are empowered to choose how we perceive what happens to us. 

After that conversation, I have consciously chosen to be happy. To enjoy the moment I’m in. To spend quality time with friends. To be more giving. To be more thoughtful. To enjoy the weather of the day no matter what it’s like. To follow through with my word when it comes to my responsibilities. 

I sit here now looking back and smiling, because I have lived up the last 3 weeks as if it was my last. And I will continue living that way for the rest of my life. It’s so satisfying and relieving to know that I finally figured it out :)

In 3 weeks, I’ve also focused more on eliminating soda from my diet, completely eliminating fast food, and cooking my own meals. I started at 216 lbs in March / April of this year, and pretty much stuck around that weight for the summer. I noticed that my ankles would hurt from all the weight on them, so I’d need to sit down every chance I got. This wasn’t good because then I wouldn’t be physically engaged with those around me. After the first 2 weeks of no smoking and no fast food / soda, I was down to 202 lbs. I was so close to breaking 200! I weighed myself for 3 days and each day I was 202 :( so I took a break from the scale.

This morning when I weighed myself, I was 198 :) I finally broke 200! Now that the hard part is over, the eating lean, drinking more water, and exercising (which I didn’t even have to do to lose the first 18 lbs) is going to be so so so much easier. It was so hard to work out and be gassed, feel heavy on my feet, and follow up my workout with a fucking cigarette and some fast food. I knew that if I was going to work out, I need to change my foundation, and beyond my physical foundation was my mental, emotional, and spiritual foundations. And I am happy to say that I have began rebuilding those.

Some memories to file: Made in America Sunday was the first day I wore a straw fedora hat. It was Karla’s, so it was a girl’s hat, but I did get some good looks from gorgeous girls. Friday 09/05/14 Byron invited me out to DTLA and we hit up Echoplex. Amazing hip-hop and trap music. Kamilah Alegre came out which was super fucking cool because she was keeping the party alive and the vibes fun. My photoshoot with the Senior Make a Wish Foundation on 09/06/14 was a huge success. Captain Rodge was a WWII Air Force Veteran who’s wish was to fly in his old fight plane. It was an honor to be able to capture so many beautiful moments. That day I went to the Camarillo Outlets to find my own straw hat, which after 3 hours and 20 stores later I found! I also upgraded my wardrobe, which was a nice change of pace from Tilly’s. Sorry Tilly’s, I don’t think I’m going to shop with you anymore. Lastly, on 09/09/14 the White PS4 Destiny Edition released. By some crazy chance, not only did I book an event that completely paid for the white PS4, but Kevin (Doodle) had called me the day after I booked my photoshoot to tell me that he had an extra system on presale that just became available. The combination of everything that’s gone down in the last few weeks has just been…. phenomenal. 

I truly am living the dream…

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In sickness…

I’m sick. I’ve had a bad cough since last Thursday / Friday. Friday was pretty ridiculous. I joined Christina Brophy (through my homegirl Tassha) and 11 other girls on a party bus to Hollywood. Needless to say I got trashed, and my body took a toll. If that wasn’t bad enough, I stayed up all night Friday afterward so I didn’t miss my Fantasy Football draft at Tim and Sepideh’s. On Saturday at 11AM I drove to their place, exhausted, hungry, and hungover, and continued drinking. Bad idea Andrew… really bad idea. I would doze off every now and then. I didn’t have much to eat, but was taking shots of Absolute Vodka. Another really bad call. We finished the draft (I auto-drafted a pretty sweet team, I think) and headed to the beach, where I jumped into the ocean water without hessitation. At the moment, it felt fucking fantastic, but I think that it is what really brought my illness to the next level. Not to mention the 2 wings I ate and the couple spoonfuls of mac and cheese. As soon as we replenished the alcohol with Seagrams Gin (Tim’s idea) and I took a shot, that food came up. So did nothing for a good 20 minutes. Just dry-heaving like a mofo, sweating like a mofo, feeling dead like a mofo. Shit sucked. When Shaydon and I were leaving, I started throwing up yellow bile. That was a first. I was so trashed, I knocked out Saturday at 7PM and woke up Sunday at 5:30AM and started taking care of shit.

Sunday was a great day, considering I signed Gonzalo and Chella’s wedding, sold 3 tickets to Made in America, and got a refund check from the County of Ventura for my mortgage. Sunday was a REALLY great day. I came home from lunch with Beto, Andrew & Sam, and laid down. I think that’s where it started getting worse. I had no blanket, the fan on full blast, and the window wide open. I knocked out around 9PM and woke up at 1AM, and my feet were freezing, my cough was harsh, and I was sweating. No bueno Andrew… no bueno.

Today is Monday. I woke up feeling like shit. I let Tim know that I was having a rough morning. I’ve taken my 3 medicines: Mucinex, Alka Seltzer Plus, and Airbourne. I’ve also eaten my Urbane Cafe Protein Salad. I also tore up my cigarettes (I had one this morning) and have promised Sonia, Shaydon, and Tim that I would quit today. I am sweating balls, and I feel like dog shit on a hot day. 

My goal now that I’m sick is to cleanse. I will run today, I will eat healthy today, I will drink a lot of water today, I will not smoke cigarettes anymore, and I will not eat fast food anymore, and I will not drink soda anymore. Today is a double header. Not only am I healing myself from illness, but I am healing myself from diseases caused by my bad habits. Today is the fucking best day / worst day of my life. And it will only get better Andrew! It will only get better. 

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Thankful Thursday

I am thankful for writing. It’s like throwing my laundry into the washing machine so my room is clean. By writing, I am able to throw my ideas and thoughts that I keep in my head day in and day out, onto paper (the internet) and clear my head. Now like laundry in the washer, you have to still put it through the dryer, fold it, and put it away. The same goes for my thoughts that I write down. After I put them onto paper, I need to read them back, think about them, and apply them. Or else I’d just be spitting jibberish with no end result.

I am thankful for Shaydon, for taking the time to figure out what was wrong with me. He showed me, for once in my life, what it meant to genuinely care. The friends I’ve kept through my deceiving ways and money-focused demeanor have been fooled, and they normally either stay my friend because they never get to know me or they end up dropping our friendship because they did get to know me. I am committed to respecting myself more, and making decisions that make me happy in the long term. This will definitely carry over into my friendships with others, and how I treat those friendships. Now when I’ve got a free minute, instead of sitting on instagram or facebook, playing video games or watching TV, I’ve been trying to call people. Speak with people. Hang out with people. Life is so much better this way.

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The Tomorrow Complex

I live in a world where ‘tomorrow’ sounds better to do something than today. Where ‘next week’ sounds better to do something than this week. Where ‘when I’m in my 30’s’ sounds better to do something than ‘while I’m in my 20’s.’

This is the problem with most of us. Especially with me.

Tomorrow is Wednesday. I will wake up at 7AM and start my laundry. I will drink coffee, smoke a cigarette, clean the kitchen and downstairs up, clean my desk, and make my bed.

My to-do list keeps growing, but not because I become ‘more busy.’ Contrary to this, my to-do list keeps growing because I choose not doing anything over doing everything. I need some sort of visual way to keep track with myself. My iPhone calendar isn’t really working. But again, it may be because I’ve allowed so many things to stack. 

Tomorrow morning when I wake up I will run. After that, I will go along with my desired morning routine mentioned above. I need to get on a schedule during the week that is not easily affected by the spontaneity of my weekends. I feel that first and foremost, I must ‘catch up’ on all of my responsibilities. 

I’ve probably thought about cleaning my desk more than it would take to actually clean it. It’s been months, and it would take 10 minutes. I have 19 minutes before today is over, so I am going to put on some jams and clean my fucking desk. brb.


It’s been 30 minutes. I’m hot on it right now. I was about to end this entry titled “the tomorrow complex” with “I will clean my desk tomorrow. Wow. The only reason why it’s taking longer than I had expected was because I have cleaned my bathroom and put up the white board I bought 2 months ago. I jumped back on because I had a great idea: SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE ANDREW! Don’t keep things UNLESS you have a plan for them. Plain and simple. Want to hold onto this year old candy in case one day you want candy? Go to 7-11. I have never used either of my two desk drawers. So technically, everything in them should be discarded. Let’s see…

I just threw a bunch of shit away and I already feel 10 times better. The question I keep challenging myself with is “why not today?” It’s been an hour since I began, and so far things are looking really great. 

It’s been 3 hours now. I feel 100x better. Cleaner, more organized- my mind is free. It’s ironic how little time it takes (in retrospect) to make a difference in your entire life. I’ve spent nearly 6 months procrastinating on cleaning my desk and my room. Every single day I’ve avoided doing something I KNEW was good for me. I would spend days playing video games and watching TV downstairs just to avoid facing my dirty room and desk. And yet in 3 short hours, I’ve transformed my room into a place of work, living, and rest. 

Keep it simple. The less shit I have the less shit there is to clean up!

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The Focal Points, Chapter 1 (Part 2)


12PM. I called Chris. Chris, like Byron, is one of those few in this world that I have always had a ton of respect for. Throughout our conversation, he gave me the background of what got him started on his journey into Non Profit Organizations. After returning from touring the U.S. with his band (when he was 21), he began working for a very wealthy company in the marketing department. It didn’t take him long to reach over $100,000 a year (a goal a lot of my friends and I currently share). Whereas most of my friends and I would feel ‘satisfied’ with such an accomplishment, Chris quickly realized how unsatisfied he was. Growing up in an average income household with a single mom doing all she could to keep him and his siblings afloat, it didn’t take him long to finally achieve the ‘freedom’ of having whatever he wanted. But unlike so many of us, he knew that such a ‘freedom’ was not an achievement to be genuinely proud of. He told me that he’s never wanted to kill himself more than when he ‘had it all.’ 

So, he did something about it. He left his high-paying job and ventured into the world of non-profit organizations, for a lot of the same reasons I have been experiencing as of late. His motivation was to help people spread the word about their causes while helping them gain exposure. In essence, he wanted to apply his marketing skills to the world of non profits. He knew he would be taking a massive cut to his income, but he also knew that he would be happier with himself knowing that he was utilizing his skills in a realm that truly needed it. 

Today he has been featured in countless magazines for his efforts, and he told me that next week he will be guest teaching a social media course at UCLA for one of his friends that is a Professor. I was very inspired by his story, and how he has continued moving forward since he first made his decision to change the route in which he took his life.

We discussed what steps I should take to get things started. It’s ironic that in 2011 and 2012 when he and I worked together, our relationship was based on me ‘wanting to help me out’ by offering my photographic services and him helping me out by paying me to do so. I’d offer doing event photography for non-profit organizations’ events for $100 an event. Really? I was making $2500 a wedding, and I was squeezing a non-profits’ profits so I’d have something to show for it. The worst part was I felt guilty taking the money, but I did it anyway. I knew they were raising funds for a good cause, and I cared more about getting paid. Ugh.

Anyway, today is a new day. This is the beginning of a new chapter in my life. I am changing, and I am listening to my conscious so the good guys can guide me in the right direction. 

So Chris and I spoke, and I told him what happened and how I arrived at this point in my life. He was stoked, to say the least. He knew exactly what I was going through, and wanted to help in anyway he could. He started by saying that his photographer friend Ryan would love to be part of my cause. It’s ironic, because before this weekend I would see Ryan’s work and sort of envy how he travels to do destination weddings (we’re friends on Facebook). Now, I look at him in a different light, with hope and appreciate, I look at Ryan with respect. 

A few notes from Chris: As long as my intentions are solid, then nothing (not even my own bad guys) will stop me from my end goal. He recommended the mission for The Focal Points follow along the lines of “Exposure.” Pun intended. 

He told me that obtaining an approved 501.c.3 is waiting process, and that the IRS will approve it once they get to it, which would be a good 15-18 months from now. The key is to be descriptive with my mission and my goals. So that is where I will start. Apparently there are rich people trying to create non-profits who’s mission statements are something close to “give kids chance to do photography.” And that’s it. Fortunately, I have a lot more behind my intentions than just that. And I am very excited to share it with others. 

Chris gave me some really powerful advice about non-profit spending. Less than 20% should go toward operations, and the remaining 80% should go toward “programs and services.” Boom. There are my keywords for this. Programs are training sessions, photoshoots, field trips, pro-photographer led workshops. Services will include leasing the camera equipment to the kids / big brothers and sisters (haven’t decided on a title for them yet, but it will be a photography based pun) for 20% of their photoshoot earnings. This 20% will be funded back into the organization.

He told me about a photographer he knows that runs “Help Portrait.” It’s basically an annual 24-hour photoshoot that’s open to photographers of all walks to donate family portrait shoots to low-income families, for free. Some photographers even donate 10-12 photoshoots that day. Whew- how amazing is that? The Focal Points will definitely be organizing something like that one day.

After hearing about this, I had the idea to offer multi-tier photoshoot costs based on the hiring family’s income. I was typing this sentence at 10:30PM and it is now 1:15AM. I just spent almost 3 hours going on a tangent detailing in more depth than anyone would want to read, the processes and planning of the organization. It’s a great starting point, and it wouldn’t of happened if I didn’t start writing this entry today.

I have to say that I feel happier now than I ever have in the last 5 years of my life. This is going to be a really great opportunity not only for me, but potentially a lot of my close friends and photographers. I am foreseeing a lot of my non-photographer friends being able to contribute and participate, if at the very least support the group once every few months. The goal is to educate youth in the creative art of photography while bringing the community together.

To recap, I spoke with Chris, Robyn, my brother, and my friend Ryan (not the photographer) today. Three of them fully support my cause. My brother neither confirms nor denies support. He just wants to make sure that I’m not getting to extreme with things, which I have a tendency to do. Although I will admit, I haven’t felt passionate like something like this really ever, aside from when I started by photography company and when I started my security company. But I see how those both have panned out. “It gets lonely at the top” applies to those companies. But with this opportunity, with my passion and knowledge, I feel like the smiles of the kids, the sense of accomplishment we could all achieve- I feel like it would be life changing. 

So I’ve covered Chris’ conversation. I spoke with Robyn who shares a lot of the dissatisfaction in her wealthy life as I do. And she said “all of the rich people, my parent’s friends, etc. are really unhappy.” This affirms my change of heart in my life. She really likes the idea, and was somewhat inspired by me to share her passion for teaching kids with me. She said I have her full support.

I spoke to Ryan, who is my sort of protege from college, and since I have been making a lot of money, he has been climbing up fast to catch up. Today our conversation began as those in the past have, where we talked about how much we have been making (well actually he brought it up, I didn’t want to talk about my money situation because he already knows it). As he kept going on about becoming richer, I cut him off, and I told him that “it’s not all about the money.” I told him that I needed him to hear that from me before he became richer than me. And I am thankful I did, because it hit him pretty dead on. I told him about my cause and he was really happy for me, and wants to support however he can.

Finally, my conversation with my brother went as most of our conversations do. I start off by telling him what breakthroughs I’ve undergone and he somehow finds a way to criticize my train of thought that led me to believe such breakthrough. It’s frustrating, and I called him out that I feel like at times he gives me “advice” for the same reasons I do, to boost his ego. And he agreed that there are times that that is the case. But he also loves me and wants the best for me. I think what I need to remember is that though he has known me the longest, he is also limited with his beliefs about me because I don’t talk to him as often as I do my close friends. So his ‘experiences’ from which he bases his advice from are limited to mostly the bad times, when I’ve really needed to talk to him. I hope I can change that by reaching out to him more often and talking to him on a more consistent basis. 

Today, I saw a friend had posted something on Facebook regarding ‘searching for her moral compass.’ Normally, I would delve into giving advice, but again, it’d likely be so I feel good about myself and so I could paint myself in some high esteem. Instead, I simply shared my “fundamental solutions’ entry from 2 days ago with her, and I think it helped her out. It’s a long read, but it’s definitely less time consuming than listening to me try to explain everything, because I’d likely repeat myself multiple times and talk in circles. I’m tired of doing that.

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The Focal Points, Chapter 1


10PM called Byron. Ran the idea by him- he liked it and will support me. Only roadblock we encountered in discussing the plan is who will own the equipment? His recommendation is that all shoots booked should be through the group. Establish a group based on loyalty. He doesn’t let his kids join other teams because that disrupts the family. The funds raised through The Focal Points will be rationed between purchasing equipment, funding workshops (for well known photographers), travel, food, and operating costs. The equipment will be property of the organization, but will be accessible by the members after X amount of hours / photoshoots / funds raised. As more funds are raised, the student gains more access to the equipment. The overall motto of the group needs to be defined and stuck to by all those in the organization.

10:30PM called Daniel. His biggest objections to take part were: lack of flexibility in his schedule (even though I hadn’t proposed when the programs would be), not wanting to let others use his camera equipment (even though he doesn’t use it), and lastly he said that he already felt like he was ‘giving back’ by helping others with their fitness routines. I felt frustrated, but then again if someone came at me a week ago in what was my train of thought, I probably would have responded similarly.

What I’m trying to build is not for everyone.

Most will make excuses to avoid it, some may be interested, and few will commit. I am creating this for the few that give it a chance. I hope that because the overall goal is such a great cause that it will inspire people to overcome their own setbacks. It will require the right people to accomplish this, but I know those people are out there.

I ended the conversation by asking him to think about any way he feels he could help and be part of it. So I’ve got 1 in support, 1 against. Tomorrow will be a better day!

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Fundamental Solutions

Life is built upon truths. Despite what we lead ourselves (and others) to believe, the truth speaks above all else. 

Today, I realized the following truth about my life:

"I would rather kill myself slowly than choose to be happy."

Now, don’t freak out. There are tons of ways we all slowly kill ourselves. But before I get into them, let me first explain the advice I always give others. This advice is solid, and I have to admit that I give it as a means to feel good about myself (most people who give advice do it for this reason). The irony is that those same people are typically classified as hypocrites because they don’t follow their own advice. I have been one of those people.

It starts with classifying the healthy habits into one of 5 ‘life legs’ that our happiness is built upon. Those five legs are:

Physical leg (exercising, eating healthy)

Mental leg (dialogue, reading, writing, learning)

Emotional leg (having compassion, respecting others, appreciating things)

Spiritual leg (helping others, embracing spontaneity, taking chances)

Financial leg (saving, knowing what goes out, increasing income)

My theory is that we are all raised by our parents who are stronger in some legs than others, and we as their children are consequently privileged in some areas while significantly weak in others. The challenge I pose to my friends when offering this knowledge, is “do you want to continue living your life deficient in XYZ leg(s)?” That call to action has proven to inspire and motivate them to be aware of their flaws and build upon them. And it makes me happy to know that there are people in this world that I have helped overcome their weaknesses. 

Last week was a continuation of the last 5 years. Ok that might be a bit harsh considering 5 years ago I lived rent free in my dad’s house with a borrowed car and an income of $500 a month. I had just started my now most successful business with Mike and Frank, and knew that if I stuck with it long enough, the money would build. Sure enough, it built, and my financial leg grew substantially. For the majority of the 5 years, my main (only?) focus WAS that financial leg. I rarely exercised, I never read, I seldom cared about others. I stopped practicing Buddhism in 2009 because I thought it was all some propagating bullshit to convert non-buddhists to buddhism.

Needless to say, my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual legs have all waned over the span of 2009 to 2014, despite how much I tried to believe otherwise. Only until 2013 when I bought my house and my Mercedes Benz, did I reach a level of ‘content’ with my financial leg. For the first time, I felt like I didn’t need more money than I was making. Or at least the good guys in my head believed I had enough. The struggle in life always involves the good guys and the bad guys, which of course the bad guys in my mind knew that I didn’t have enough. They convinced me on a daily basis that I needed more.

And of course, with a weak mental leg resulting from years of a lack of discipline, self control, and will power, the bad guys continued convincing me that I didn’t have enough money. So my greed continued as I believed that I was, ‘motivated by money,’ ‘If I’m good at something, I never do it for free,’ and ‘It gets lonely at the top. Those were quotes that have stuck in mind throughout the last 5 years. And it shows, because 3 days ago I sat with my best friend Shaydon trying to figure out why, despite knowing where I need to improve and EXACTLY HOW I CAN improve, I continued choosing not to improve. I believed these quotes and let them define me. I would occasionally escape the bad guys and offer my friends solid advice to help them, only to be return home that night to the bad guys. 

The biggest problem about always listening to the bad guys, is that they speak to you from a position of sin. Lust, Glutony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, Pride. Believe it or not, each of those 7 sins fall back on my theory that we have the choice to strengthen some legs while weakening others. For example, the combination of a strong financial leg and a weak emotional leg results in GREED. Combining a weak mental leg and a strong emotional leg results in ENVY. Weak physical, weak mental = GLUTONY. Weak physical, weak mental, weak emotional = SLOTH. Strong emotional, weak spiritual = LUST. Strong emotional, weak mental = WRATH.

Notice which legs, when weak, contribute to the most of those sins. The strength of your physical leg determines a lot of your habits and vices. Then the emotional. Then the mental. Then the spiritual, and last the financial. It is ironic in this circumstance why exactly I give into so many of those sins. My financial leg (the least influential leg in our lives) has been the only leg holding me up.

Now back to what I said earlier. “I would rather kill myself slowly than choose to be happy,” because day in and day out, I succumb to the following detrimental habits:

I smoke 10-12 cigarettes a day.

I play 4-6 hours of video games a day.

I eat 2-3 fast food meals a day.

I impulsively spend money to boost how I’m feeling.

I live paycheck to paycheck, despite increasing my income each month.

I avoid small chores, like vacuuming my floor or washing the dishes, for weeks, even months. 

I don’t care to talk to people about how they’re doing, because I know they don’t care about how I’m doing.

I don’t like listening to other people talk about themselves, because most of the time they are speaking from so much insecurity that they want confirmation from others that they are worth something. Essentially, I don’t like listening to people that are like me.

Amidst these physically, mentally, and emotionally hindering habits of mine, the good guys (my moral conscious) still exist, although they work with what the bad guys give them. For example:

Instead of waking up in the morning to exercise, I will sit on my phone for 2 hours before work and read 5 to 8 news articles / self improvement segments. Mental leg = improving (but as a distraction from the physical).

Instead of spending time with my close friends and family, caring about them and being interested in their lives, I embrace strangers and new friends with so much interest and care, almost as a way to fake my emotional leg (I do this mostly for ego. It’s easer to bullshit someone you’ve just met than try to earn the trust of those who have known you forever and change how they perceive you). This is a shortcut / temporary fix to the emotional leg, but it doesn’t last long after those new people see who I really am. My actions tend to do most of the talking for me.

Instead of spontaneously going on solo adventures, I’d rather ‘spontaneously’ (impulsively) spend money or be a vegetable for a day. Or even worse, get super drunk and fucked up and party. Ugh.

Again, I’m trying to fake that I’m building my spiritual leg by being “spontaneous”, when in reality I’m only cutting myself short. 

So these legs of mine, as much as I have knowingly allowed them to weaken, continue to define my unhappiness. Day in, day out, week in, week out, month in, month out, year in, year out. 5 years, probably more like 20 years, my 4 weakest legs have atrophied to a point where 3 days ago, I arrived at a crossroads. 

3 days ago, while talking to Shaydon, who mind you has one of the strongest physical legs I know (he is a manager for the Woodland Hills Equinox, the highest end gym in the world, and he is also my roommate), told me that I needed to listen to my own advice, but put his foot down to help me understand WHY I choose to avoid strengthening those legs. Like many of my friends before him, he genuinely wanted to help me. And like I have before him to many of my friends in the past, the bad guys responded by telling myself that “I don’t respect you enough to listen to your advice.”

Now I’m not stupid, and fortunately I was drunk, so I knew that what the bad guys were saying was foolish. So I was vulnerable, and I allowed myself to open up to Shaydon, and together we began searching.

He asked me, “was there anything in your childhood that you could recall that makes you as not caring as you are?” I had told him at this point that one of my biggest problems is that I really don’t give a shit about people, because I don’t respect other people. While I shared some thoughts on where this came from, I recalled an experience (multiple accounts) when I was child, when my mom wouldn’t give me the attention I yearned for. We’d be at the clothing store, and I would hide between the hanging garments, and count to 60, sometimes 100. And I’d get so afraid, not because I was alone, but because my mom didn’t bother to look for me. I genuinely believed that she didn’t love me enough to care where I was. Another time I ran away from home for 2 hours, only to go home (I was hiding around the block from my house) to my mom not ‘caring.’ 

Looking back on it, it’s not that she didn’t care, but more so she knew I wanted attention, and she didn’t want to spoil me with it. The result of this however, the belief that ‘she doesn’t care’ has snowballed over to all of my friends, my family, and my relationships over the last 20 years. Whenever I get a chance to point out that someone doesn’t care about me, I hold that against them for years, allowing it to ruin so many of my relationships. It’s also been my excuse for pulling some pretty fucked up shit, like dating my friends’ ex-girlfriends, hooking up with my ex’s roommates or best friends, or completely disowning friends for not being considerate of me.

As bold of a belief it is for me to say that ‘no one cares about me,’ the truth is, and now we can come back to the theory that life is built upon truths, that the ONLY person who has never cared about me, WAS MYSELF. Instead of building relationships and making efforts to help others and be a positive influence in their life, I have chosen to seek pity and sympathy by guilting others into caring, into thinking about me. I have portrayed myself in the only way I’ve known to appeal to others, by flaunting my ego. As much as I try to make myself believe that I am modest or humble, to the standards of the good guys in my head, it’s disgusting. And I know it. The good guys know it, and the bad guys try to cover it up. 

The reason why I don’t respect others is because I don’t respect myself.

Who do you know that GENUINELY respects and cares about others but treats themselves like shit? How can someone GENUINELY care about others if they don’t even care about themselves? That is the underlying question behind a person’s happiness. In my opinion, have I ever been happy for a long period of time? I would have to say no. Because I know what I am capable of doing, I know what to do, but I choose not to do it. Who can be happy with themselves if you are constantly giving into the bad guys? What good becomes of that? Sure, my impulse buys, my video games, my cigarettes, my fast food- they all serve as bandaids. But the wound has never healed. It’s never been disinfected. It continues scabbing on top itself, time after time, only to reveal a deeper scar. It’s slowly killing me, day in and day out.

Fuck I feel really shitty about myself. Fortunately, I have discovered my rock bottom. This is my darkness. These are my bad guys.






*Deep breath* Couple more exhales. Refocus. Stop feeling sorry for yourself.

Ok! So 2 days ago, I called upon Byron, one of my best friends that is probably one of the extremely few people in this world that I truly respect. He is a professional dancer, and whereas most people in the creative arts are driven by a combination of money and ego, Byron is driven by passion and selflessness. He runs 2x 50+ member youth dance groups who have won World of Dance amongst other competitions. He runs a 100+ member dance studio on top of this. He brought up Miles “Boogaloo” Brown, the kid with the afro that’s in commercials and billboards and is now on a TV sitcom. He has helped thousands of local youth stay off the streets, build a passion for dance, create invaluable lifelong relationships, go to college, and make something of themselves. He has helped our community by sharing his passion, and teaching his kids why to give back, and why to help others.

As a bonus, despite charging very little each month for 40+ hours of dance practices and classes (he charges $36 a month), he has well over 200 kids a month under his wing. You can do the math. Building something so small yet having so much to prove in return. It is truly amazing to know someone who has accomplished as much as he has in his life. 

SO back to our conversation now that you know who he is. I brought up the following scenario to Byron: I have a lot of money, and I’m not that bad looking, but whenever I have asked my female friends to hook me up with one of their single friends, the response is always “for sure!” but the action is always the same. Nothing. This went back to the truth that I didn’t respect myself, so how could anyone respect me? Not to mention I never respected any of those girls because they always repeat their mistakes despite my advice to help them (again they probably didn’t listen because they didn’t respect me, and so on). Considering how respected Byron is in our community (and around his realm of hip hop dance), I asked him, what is it about how he does what he does that earns him respect?

His first response? “I don’t do it for the money.”

Boom. Shabam. Click clack. Like that. Everything I’ve done, I’ve done for the money. And yeah I’ve heard “don’t do it for the money” but the bad guys would always say ‘fuck those poor motherfuckers of course they’d say that shit.’

But they’re right. And the bad guys in my head are wrong. This is the truth. Byron has proved that to me, in a rare circumstance of actually proving something to me through action, Byron has done so, thus throwing off the bad guys from any position of justification. This is what I needed, this truth is what the good guys have been searching for, so they could prove through actions that the bad guys were wrong.

Since Byron is so damn modest, I couldn’t really get him to talk much more about himself, but I knew that his reasons behind what he does were: his passion for dance, helping others, and giving back to the community. The same community that brought him up, he is giving back 10-fold every day. Talk about appreciation. Holy shit. 

From that conversation 2 days ago, something happened in my head. The bad guys no longer had as much say in things as they have before. I went to get fast food last night and I couldn’t even eat half of it because it’s so bad for my body. It’s really disgusting. I’ve chosen to not eat for most of today than finish last night’s fast food. Little by little, the good guys are taking over. Will-power, initiative, COURAGE. Byron embodies, he has the potential and he is living it through each day. There is absolutely no excuse for why I can’t do the same, if not more.

So here it is, my COMMITMENT to myself, my friends, my family, and those in my community. I will start with this, for every wedding I book, I will donate 2-hours of my photography services to a local non-profit organization in need. Focusing primarily on unfortunate children and animal shelters. I have 5 weddings booked for 2015, so I will commit to 5 months of helping those organizations. Not for ego, not because I want to prove myself to anyone, but because it’s the right thing to do, and I am capable of doing it.

My second commitment to others, is to establish a youth photography program that provides children of all walks of life (no discrimination) the opportunity to learn photography, advance in photography, and offer their photography skills to others. The way I will begin this is by creating a group of photographers that are interested. Together, we will all help each other raise funds to purchase the equipment necessary to take opportunities and help kids advance. I have a countless number of friends, businesses, and members of my community that would benefit from having access to professional photography. And since the money isn’t going into my pocket, I know I can help dozens, hundreds, even thousands of people out. Having popular pro photographers host workshops and teach these kids, one by one, I can make this happen. I can do good, and raise money, and improve lives. 

Goal: January 1st, 2015! 

Take 3 months to do a trial period. 

Never stop making moves!

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Confessions from 2013

2013 was a big year for me in some ways, and a big lesson in others. For some ways, I got the house I really wanted, I got the car I really wanted, and I got the trips / toys I wanted. For other ways, I broke up with Jeannette. 

Leading up to her moving in last May, things were getting really serious. Talk about getting married, finally living together, and spending the rest of our lives together was normal. We would joke around about it, and deep down I believe that it’s what we both really wanted. But then she moved in, and the dynamic began to change. She saw how selfish I was with my time and my money (which also lead to a lot of time spent talking about my thoughts and my worries about the money I no longer would have because I would spend it on things over and over again). 

I don’t think that the reason why we broke up was because we lived together though… despite how ‘easy’ that answer way sound. As a matter of fact, this epiphany I am sharing just dawned upon me moments ago (which is why I am here writing this instead of playing Call of Duty: Ghosts). When I look back, she was very adamant about me not buying a new car, not only because of the money it would take for the down payment, but the money it would take for the monthly payment, as well as gas and upkeep. When I calculate that ($4,000 down + $600 a month), I could have very well afforded the engagement ring that Jeannette absolutely loved. In that way, I made a big mistake buying the car. It was just one of many selfish impulse buys, but it was a major one in some ways, and a big lesson in others.

I can’t really regret my decision, nor can I feel any sense of anger at myself or at Jeannette for not bringing it up, whether or not she had thought about it, she definitely felt it’s consequences. For that, I am deeply sorry and ashamed. If I were given two options: to get married to the girl of my dreams, or drive the car of my dreams, I would definitely take marriage. It’s sad that I wasn’t able to consider my options before acting on such a significant purchase. 

On the brighter side of things, breaking up with Jeannette has given me so much personal space from the world that I was struggling to grasp in our relationship. I felt like we would see each other too much, and that led to her being a priority over my work, my friends, and my family. Of course that’s not an excuse, as I am the sole individual that made those choices to avoid everything else. It’s just that I loved her so God damn much that I could never say no to seeing her. Whether her skies were blue or grey, I felt that my presence always made her day shine more than it had been, and that feeling was priceless. I’m not sure if that’s what you would call love, but being able to offer an abundance of comfort beyond anything she’s ever felt, that made me proud to be in a relationship with her. I was helping her grow as a human being, and seeing her blossom was such a beautiful experience. The hardest part in our relationship was fighting my desire to make money and spend money, somewhat uncontrollably.

It sucks because that habit was something I developed when I was single for 3 years before dating Jeannette. When I was single, making more money than I could spend, and playing more video games than my Optometrist recommended, I felt fully relaxed, worry-free, and happy. And when Jeannette and I began dating, I felt like I was no longer making more money than I could spend, because everything I began spending my money on had to do with our relationship. So when I did buy toys, I would drown in their amusement and entertainment, and cut out the world, including Jeannette. Those would be the days that we’d argue the most. The day would always end with me buying something online. Something I didn’t need. 

Part of me wishes I could go back and do things differently, the other part is grateful for my time to myself, and how free I am to spend it with others, whether they be friends or families. Plus I’m no longer covering trips and adventures for two haha. I am nearing the finish of my 6th weekly workout (it’s taken me 12 weeks to get this far). I’m finally seeing some cut definition in my arms, which is such a fantastic feeling. I was so depressed when I was with Jeannette that all I would want to do is lounge around and eat bad food. I would exercise maybe once every 3 weeks. But since we broke up, I’ve been consistently exercising, and seeing some results makes me grateful for what happened, because had we stayed together I do not even want to imagine what I would be looking like / feeling like right now.

I guess ultimately this letter is more of my ‘final thoughts’ for 2013. I just had to get it out of my head. 

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It’s been a good 2 years since I’ve taken some time to sit, think, and reflect on everything I have accomplished, the goals I’ve set before me, and the path on which I’ve chosen to achieve those goals. But before I go into all that, I want to point out the moment’s soundtrack.

There’s something profound about listening to The Postal Service. The last time I can recall writing an entry, I was listening to The Postal Service. The Postal Service simply delivers, pun intended. When I listen to them I think about Soka, and I reminisce the amazing friendships I built with both Ramon and Hiromi. I can confidently say that listening to The Postal Service, Mae, 30 Seconds to Mars and Deathcab for Cutie does more for me spiritually than any other genre of music. 

Beyond my friendships, these bands played the soundtrack of my study abroad. I remember listening to hours upon hours of their music while exploring the many sides of Barcelona. The most prominent moment was my morning hike to the top of Mt. Montjuic, and upon arriving to the top, I played “Top of the World” by the Julian Theory. I immediately thought about Hiromi, our late night study sessions in the 24 / the bridge, and in that moment I remember feeling full of contentment. The sun rose moments after :)

It can be hard in this busy life to realize that others think about you more than you might believe. I know that so many memories pass through in the present like quick snapshots of the history being reviewed in real time. When I listen to a song I used to listen to, memories of everything I’ve done while listening to that song come to mind. It’s odd, that although my memory can blank at times, that music (and what I hear) can bring such vivid memories to life, and remind me of some of the best people I have ever met.

So now I’m here. It’s 4:33AM on Monday, December 16th, 2013. I am almost done editing Alex and Erin’s wedding photos. In the last 2 weeks Jeannette and I have been contacted by 4 of our clients asking for us to retouch their top 50-150 photos from their respective weddings. My workload has become very fast-paced in such little time. On the bright side, I have never produced so much quality work in such a short period of time. It does get me pretty excited for what may come as I continue pursuing my potential in the art of photography.

I really miss my friends. Especially after breaking up with Jeannette, I wish I still had those close connections I spent 3-4 years developing in college. Unfortunately my reputation here in my hometown seems to be one of pretentiousness, mainly because my loneliness and insecurities drive me to seek attention. And since I’ve built a solid financial foundation, my material possessions seem to be the first thing I’ll flaunt. It really sucks, because I feel like if I didn’t show people the things I have, then they could care less about who I am or what kind of friendship I could offer them. I feel like everyone judges me- but that’s probably because I judge everyone first. I have wondering eyes, always looking at people, analyzing them in a few seconds, making conclusions about who they are as my eyes move to the next person. I feel like because I have a college education and so many people out here don’t, that somehow puts me ‘above’ them. But I don’t like thinking that either. There are some really awesome people here at home, but my guard is up because I hate being disappointed. I guess it’s the same song for a lot of people.

So how do I break the bad habit? Well acknowledging it is a good first step, according to my prestigious psychology degree. I heard that those who study psychology do so because they are looking for answers to some psychological problems in their lives. Well here I am at 4 in the morning writing my problems and giving myself solutions. I’d say that classifies as some sort of disorder, right? Probably.

I’ve been thinking lately of going back to school. I’m 27 years old, I read 8-10 articles a day on mostly relevant and important things. Occasionally I’ll get caught up reading about celebrity news, which is entertaining to say the least. But I’m enamored by the amount of information there is out there that I have yet to understand. I personally have been reading articles on business, management, leadership, success, investing, and entrepreneurship. So many of those articles I’ve read have allowed me to advance at what I do, and I’m making a lot more money because of it.

Speaking of, my security company just signed the largest hospital in Santa Barbara. That was fantastic news, considering the size of the account (6 full time guards). The next closest account is 2 full time guards. So that was huge. But it’s just the beginning. In 3 days we will submit a bid proposal for 50 (that’s right, FIFTY!) guard accounts in all of Southern California. If we sign that account, I’d go ape shit. We’re talking 100 full time guards to cover all of those accounts, expansion from Ventura County all the way down to San Diego, and enough of a raise to my income that I could buy another house. Or a Tesla. 

God that would be phenomenal. But I won’t count my chickens just yet. I don’t want my accomplishments to ever be “the finish line” of my success. My standards for success are always being raised higher and higher. If I sign this big account, then I will have raised my standards beyond what I had imagined. That would be so unreal…

I’m on my 6th straight week of lifting hard at the gym. Partly why I’m not planning to fall asleep is because I want to get to the gym at 6AM and lift some heavy weights. The other part is because I decided to wash my bedsheets and blankets at 2AM. I wasn’t planning on sleeping tonight anyway since I got 12 hours last night. I have so much to do, so much to catch up on, so many ideas I want to bring into reality, so many plans to follow through with. It’s ridiculously overwhelming, but at the same time, it’s also a blessing. I read a quote yesterday saying that luck is not given, it is created. And moreover, it is created through opportunities, by opportunists themselves. The more opportunities you create to make things happen, and the more of those opportunities you take to make things happen, the more things will happen. Sitting around, complaining, and moping will not make anything happen. Those who do that tend to bitch about how unlucky they are. If only they could see…

Well I think I’ve logged a good amount of self reflection for the day. Part of me wants to share this with Ramon and Hiromi, but part of me wants to wait until… I don’t know what I would wait for. I do miss them both, and I wish they knew how much I missed them. So maybe sharing this post with them would put a smile on their face… I think my mind’s set!