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Know Thyself - Walk Your Path

Early on in our relationship, my wife told me, "...sometimes you have to go left to [eventually] go straight." And she was right. But as of late I am moving through a revelatory experience. Call it being fully into my forties now. Call it having too much time on my hands. Call it being plagued with an overactive mind. Call it the power with having as many years behind you as are potentially in front of you. But I see my path and how weird it's been. Despite all the writing and plotting I've done I see the mistakes I've made, how many times I've gone left to go straight, as recently as January and I can recognize something that makes me shudder --- most of the more incorrect decisions I've made were tied to lack of knowledge or even denial of knowledge of self.


How To Speak on Blogging and Social Media

On Friday of last week I boarded a plane and headed to New Orleans for the Niche Mommy Blogger Conference. I've attended social media conferences before, heck I host a monthly social media meetup, but this was my first blogger conference...and I was speaking, another first. And I was very nervous. I had the honor and pleasure of being on a panel with fellow bloggers and social media titans, Fred Goodall of MochaDad and Jeff Funk of Brand Dynamite. While I was there I was also able to shake the hand of Ted Rubin, a man I've known for some time online. Besides exuding intoxicating positivity, he is about as New York as a New Yorker can get. As soon as we met we hit it off as if we had known each other since the second grade. We romped around the French Quarter over the weekend.

But when it came time to work, Jeff, Fred and I got down to business and bared our individual souls about content and storytelling and how to give it your all.


The #WorkingOutAt40 Fitness Challenge

This morning I got on the scale and it registered the number 186.5. That is a solid 10 pounds less than I was when I started back working out at the end of June. I've changed my diet, I've changed my level of activity (outdoor boot camp, biking, swimming and some running) and it in turn has changed my attitude, enhanced my vitality and helped me to calmly navigate through things that normally got me all twisted up in knots. Not to mention, pants that were cutting into my waist, fit once more and the protruding bulge beneath my that had become commonplace in all my shirts is now gone. My only complaint/issue/acknowledgment, etc. is that I am not the young man I once was. Thanks to my 40 year-old willpower I'm working out harder than I ever have. But thanks to my 40 years-old body, recovering from my workouts has become almost as painful as the workouts themselves. C'est la vie.

But I've got 10 more pounds to go. And I'd like to lose them by my birthday, which is exactly 6 weeks away.

And I challenge you to lose them (yours not mine) with me.


Mondays With Michelle: Happy 100th Birthday, Julia!

Happy Monday, Foodie Friends!

For those that don't know, the culinary world celebrated Julia Child, Americas "French Chef", 100th birthday this past Wednesday. Julia was truly an icon in the food world. Sadly she passed at the age of 91 in 2004, but she left behind a lifetime of wisdom of french cuisine and technique that every home cook has benefited from in one way or another. 

To commemorate her, I invited some of my foodie friends over and I cooked up a Julia inspired meal that I'm sure she would have been proud of.


Stuck In The Middle (Don't Get Stuck In The Middle)

Despite all the positive speak I put out here and on my blog it was about a week ago I was ready to quit, EVERYTHING. But I decided to move through it because I actually don't know how to quit. Something in my brain (or maybe my heart?), similar to an override that I can't control, simply won't allow it --- forcing me to move/persevere/endure even when I don't believe I want to.

I made it to Sunday where I received a powerful Word at church. The best way for me to sum it up is this:
Things get toughest in the middle of your journey. You can barely remember what drove you to start and even if you know what the end-reward looks like you're no longer sure it's worth the battle, the misery, the pain. It just isn't fun anymore. It is in the middle where you are most vulnerable. In a race, it's in the middle when you begin to psych yourself out. When people quit, they quit in the middle having no idea how close they may have been to the end.

Keep pressing through the outside hate and work on despite of the inside doubt. I promise I'll be right there with you doing the same. It may not be today or even tomorrow, but your time is coming.

Image Credit: One World Jujitsu

Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter at @EPayneTheDad.


Win $50 to $5,000 for Back-To-School with eBay

For me back to school was all about having a new backpack, a new lunch box and a new pair of shoes to show off on the first day.

Not much has changed in the past few decades...

If you're like me you began your purchasing of pencils, composition books and crayons on July 5th, the day after July 4th --- when most stores began setting up their displays. To put it into context it's no different than buying Christmas decorations the day after Halloween. But I'll never be that latter guy. Just in case you were curious.

If you're not like me, and you're not residing in Atlanta, where school has already started. But even if you do reside in Atlanta, there never seems to be quite enough when it comes to school supplies and the clothes our kids burn through during the school year. Especially the first couple of weeks when they are still in summer mode and just as rough and tough and careless as they want to be. This goes for both the little ones and the big ones and all the ones in between. Despite all this the most amazing part of Back-to-School is seeing the joy that comes when my daughter sees her friends and reconnects with loud screams and big, little person hugs. My son, the teenager would rather be skewered, but it makes my heart smile each year he advances that much further into adulthood.

Don't Quit

This past Saturday I was ready to quit. Yes, that's right, me Mr. Positivity 99% of the time. Well I hit my one percent and I was ready to be done with something I've been working on for a very long time.

And then I went to church the next day and although the pastor was preaching to an entire congregation his words felt directed solely at me. I didn't go there seeking his wisdom. In fact I found his words to be inescapable because I was trying to escape them. I left the service with renewed intention, but here's the key: a different game plan. The next few weeks and months will determine if this past Sunday was a life-changing event.

I know it's only Tuesday but I just want to encourage those of you reading this, whomever you are and wherever you come from, do not quit. I'm not being surface-level and talking about some job you can't stand, but what I'm saying is don't quit on the desires of your heart. Stop telling yourself you can't and start doing. Stop contemplating the worst outcomes and begin embracing the best ones. Don't focus on the what ifs of failure and focus 100% on getting the job done. My daughter is slowly but surely riding her bike without training wheels and her initial question was, "Daddy, what if I fall?" to which I responded, "If you focus on not falling you'll never concentrate on riding the bike." After saying this about a dozen times, she began to get it and continued to pedal knowing I was no longer holding on to the back seat. In late June I tried my best to avoid joining an exercise bootcamp until I heard my own excuses coming out of my mouth. Now I'm six pounds lighter and feel brand new because as soon as my feet touched down on the track where I work out, I knew I could.

I know you can, if you only try. Please try. Don't quit.

Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter at @EPayneTheDad.


A Note On Parenting And Decision Making

I used to believe my ability to make decisions, the careful deliberateness of the whole thing was based on my thoroughness. Not only did I believe this but it was seconded by a close friend and frat brother who felt the same of himself.

During my marriage this deliberateness hasn't always proved to be desirable to my other half. In fact it was the source of much resentment of me by her a few years back. To which I shrugged my shoulders and thought Deal with it.

But at nearly forty-one I know differently now now that I've been around long enough to start looking backwards. Long enough to connect dots that once were just scattered points in my timeline.

I realize now that my decision making has had less to do with deliberation and more to do with inability. As a child all of my decisions were made for me, as they should have been outside of maybe choices in candy, some toys and maybe colors of pants. As a teen all of my decisions were made for me, as I'm not do sure they should have been. I have a very loving but a very controlling father who in his desire for me to succeed may have removed from me a critical tool to succeed: the ability to choose.

Mondays with Michelle: Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

Happy Monday, and Happy back-to-school (for some)!
I took a little trip down memory lane and picked out one of my most popular posts to share with you all today, this one just happens to be about chicken. Who doesn't love chicken? We buy it on our weekly grocery runs, but frequently run out of new ways to cook it up. So here is  a little refresher for you...
I had to laugh when I saw E.Payne’s post last week, A Family of Four & Forty Pounds of Chicken. Mrs. E.Payne, (and the Mr. on the grill) created some really yummy looking dishes with their first 10 pounds of chicken. It got me thinking, how many times do people look in their freezer, see chicken (come on, chicken is always in the freezer) and then turn up their nose and say, “I’m so sick of chicken, what can I make with it now!?” 
This post is for those days. 10 Chicken recipes, 10 different ways. 
(From the top left: recipe 2, recipe 8, recipe 10, recipe 6)
  1. Coconut Curry Chicken recipe by Chef Michelle
  2. Chicken Roulade (Stuffed with Spinach and Goat Cheese) recipe by Chef Michelle
  3. Chicken and Broccoli Curry Casserole recipe by Y. Harper
  4. Chicken Cacciatore recipe by Rachael Ray
  5. Pecan Chicken recipe by Paula Dean
  6. Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Rosemary-Orange Dressing (for the Grill) recipe by Bon Appetit
  7. Mustard Chicken Salad recipe by Ina Garten
  8. Crispy Chicken Cutlets recipe by Jennifer Hess from Last Night’s Dinner
  9. Chicken Quesadilla recipe by Guy Fieri
  10. Chicken , Sausage and Red Pepper Paella recipe by Thirschfeld

What is your favorite chicken recipe? Share your comments below.

Don't forget to visit my Foodie blog for more recipes, food tips and other foodie fun. 

See you back here on Monday, August 20th.... Thanks for reading!


Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter at @EPayneTheDad.


Gabby Douglas = GOLD

Now that everyone should know that Gabby Douglas won the Gold in the Individual All Around for gymnastic I'd like to congratulate her for:
  1. accomplishing a dream; 
  2. doing it and doing it well for the United States; 
  3. busting down any previous stereotype that African Americans can't be successful gymnasts when put to the test; and finally 
  4. for unknowingly being a positive role model of strength, grace and class to a world of girls of all colors, my daughter included.
Onwards, Gabby. The sky is the limit!

Thanks for reading! Follow me on Twitter at @EPayneTheDad.