Monday, October 31, 2011

Transitioning Back

Thank God I've given myself a good week to return from vacay before the season starts.  I almost forgot about the phenomenon of lingering spirit.  Long ago, when I was frequenting Jamaica, I discovered that although my body may come home, it takes a good 5-6 days for my spirit to return.  So has been the case for me.  Before I left, I was highly motivated, approaching business after business in hopes of fundraising for our basketball program.  Also, aligning X's and O's to assure our plan of attack is well calculated.  Upon return, my mind is moving soooo slow, it's difficult for me to even decide which cereal to eat in the morning :)

The beauty of vacation was, I really didn't have ANY decisions to make for the last 10 days.  However, the backlash to that is, the decision making part of my brain has by grossly malnourished.  I've had more than a few laughs at myself as some of the more simple crossroads have given rise to extended deliberation.

Its not all bad though, the island vibrations are still very much at the core of my movements, as a few last second monkey-wrenches have thrown onto my coaching plate, yet my mentality has been "Deep breath".."And so it is."  A few weeks ago, I may have lost a lock or two stressing over these matters.

That being said, it is now time to gear up for the upcoming season.  As my 1st at the helm, there are more question marks than exclamations.  Especially when it comes to talent on our roster.  Regardless, in a matter of one week, all of the ideas will now be given the opportunity to take shape.  As a firm believer in the creative trinity Thought-Word-Action.  I am chomping at the bit to begin intertwining mindfulness with sport.  I remember being absolutely astonished at my body's capabilities after 1week of yoga.  Yet equally disappointed that I was 21 years old and finished with my playing career.

Of course I enter this affair with extreme optimism, but a good part of the journey will be witnessing what works...and what doesn't.  Ideas are beautiful, and I have no shortage to those.  But execution, that remains to be seen.

In all these areas...Only Time Will Tell.  I am certainly excited, anxious, and a myriad of other emotions about these forthcoming days.  Yet here, in the present, I am thankful as can be for the spiritual tune up I just received in St. Thomas.  The time for talk is now subsiding.  Action is now upon us!


Monday, October 24, 2011


My host Star
As previously stated, I managed to make my way out to the island of St. Thomas.  Little did I know, that my friend whom I was visiting happened to be living in his own private resort!

His spot was gorgeous.  Nestled into a hillside, it overlooked the ocean and provided panoramic views from his poolside deck.  Toss in the "pool room" complete with pool table and flat screen tv, conveniently located at the shallow end of the pool, and you've got all the fixings of paradise!

View from the Deck
My primary motivation was to be WARM for the duration of my stay.  St. Thomas accommodated just right.  Every day was a pleasant 85 with a cool sea breeze.  According to my host, my timing was perfect, as it was apparently humid and muggy just before I arrived.  Needless to say, this made for ideal beach weather, and when in search of white sand beaches one doesn't have to look far to be dazzled in ST.

Of the 7 beaches I went to..Yes 7!!, not one of them disappointed in any way shape or form.  The sand alone was the stuff vacations are made of.  Not to mention there are random, different sized islands sprinkled off the coasts.  So depending on which side of the island you're on, your view changes drastically when gazing out at the ocean.  My initial intent was to take some time and work on a few songs, as nature continues to not only inspire me, but also give a bit of clarity and space to create from the core.  However, this go round, I think I put my headphones on twice during my entire stay, as I purposefully chose to simply listen.  Listen to the water, the wind...the laughter of the children...and the bickering of the parents!  It was all a part in the sensational experience of the island.

It took me a day or two to realize, contrary to my initial beliefs, St. Thomas is very much America.  Although the culture has strong Caribbean influences, from Puerto Rico to India, at the core of the surroundings are all the familiar sights one would come across back home.  Foot-Locker, Wendy's, Hooters :), etc.  At 1st I was a bit put off by this, as I'd been hoping for a 'wholly other' experience.  But it didn't take long to grow on me.

Island Eats
The one cultural element that I was openly anticipating to engage in was EATING.  From my trips to Jamaica, I had very high expectations of what was to come in the food category.  Once again, it took a few days to find the spots, but once I did, the possibilities seemed endless, and my belly was the only obstacle between me and taste heaven, as I simply couldn't fit all the goods in in such a short stay. Pictured here, was my plate from G&G aka 'The Black Truck.'  This was the exact dish I'd envisioned from back in Cali; Ox Tail, DUMPLIN, Mac n Cheese, Cabbage, some Yam, & Rice n Peas.. words do no justice to the pleasure I experienced when eating this.  Nor the 'itis' I had after!  As much as I wanted to eat, it didn't take me long to realize I was best off, eating something light for breakfast, and then having 1 solid meal around 2/3 o'clock that would last me the day.  The food was so hearty and proportions so large, this was all I could stomach.  Aside from G&G which was the best on the island, I also indulged in a lil Texas BBQ Pit and a Puerto Rican spot that had fried plantains! Heaven ya'll...heaven!

Trunk Bay, St John
Oddly enough, as much of a traveler that I am, I'd somehow forgotten about that initial acclimation period.  The 1st 2 days or so, I felt extremely out of place, as if an outsider trying to learn the secret codes of communication.  I probably talked to all of 3 people other than my boys friends.  However, something clicked on that 3rd day, where the island began to have its' way with me.  I not only felt a little more comfortable in my own skin, but also adept to my surroundings and more "me" so to speak.  That was when the magic of traveling, and doing so there in St. Thomas, all started to take shape.

The people are absolutely beautiful.  Engaging on a whim.  Witty as all get out.  And insightful beyond words.  Interacting with them brought out the best of me.  As much as I love me some Santa Cruz, there were dynamics that I was expressing from the pit of my being that seem to be overlooked in my day to day living in Cali.  And above all, the people are much more friendly and considerate.  To not say "Good Afternoon" to someone when passing by or entering a room is considered extremely rude.  Of course, it's easier to be friendly when you LIVE in the tropics, but still, the folks truly brought my island experience to life.

Just when you thought I was basking in utopia...allow me to inject a piece of reality.  Mosquitos love foreign blood.  I woke after my 2nd day with no less than 75 bites scattered about on my legs, arms, shoulders..NECK?!?!  Ridiculous.  From that day forward I slept, dowsed in Off, with a bug zapper disguised as a tennis racket at my bedside.  I'd imagine by the end of my stay, we were about even.  Me, in a vengeful rage...and they in their night stalkings.  So yes, even in my most peaceful state, I was at war.

Although my motivations were primarily basketball and mind/body/soul alignment, I'd be a fool to not capitalize on the opportunity to spread the word about my music.  A little hustle supplied me with the opportunity to rock the mic at the islands' most prominent night club, Fat Turtle on a Friday night. Although my presence came as a surprise to most, it didn't take long for the folks to shift gears from that top 40 listening, to my material and still keep it moving.  That was a beautiful sight to behold, watching people look up at the stage, go through their own mental evaluations and then decide, "Hell Yes, this is hot...I"m dancing!"

After rocking, the rest of the night took on new life, as we were VIP.  Kicking it backstage, then allowed into the next club after it was "closed." We ended up kicking it with a whole bunch a jewelers and their lil lady friends for the night.  Turned out, the owners of the club were from Tel Aviv. A place I spent a couple weeks in.  Needless to say, the night lit up from the moment we made that connection!

As my vacation was winding down, I had one last hurrah before setting sail for the mainland.  A guest appearance on the islands' most prominent radio station, 105 Jamz.  The interview went well to say the least.  And once the DJ (Tony T) got a listen to my music, he was all about the cause.  Made mention of putting me in rotation, which is always lovely for an up and comer like myself.  After banging a couple of my tunes, I made sure to thank the people of the island for playing their part in assisting in my alignment and sharing the good spirits that they have.  And on that note....I exited stage left!

Full of life, light and purpose, I now return to Santa Cruz ready to shape the lives of a handful of young men. Thank You St. Thomas for the energetic enhancement!

Last Sunset

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

On The Horizon

As basketball season draws near the anticipation is building not only for myself, but my staff as well. In less than a month, we will be leaving our stamp on the personalities and spirits of 25-30 young men in a fashion that will never be forgotten. To this day, I have a myriad of memories which I call upon from time to time with respect to every coach I've ever played for. I can only hope to make those positive ones for my players in the days to come. As we seek to solidify the dynamics of our program (offensive/defensive sets, philosophy, etc) I've decided to take a step away and place myself in an ideal environment to not only recharge my battery, but also lock in the disciplines I intend to pass on to the players. After sifting through my options, it came to my attention that I could use miles to fly just about anywhere I wanted to in the tropics. As enticing as a return to Jamaica sounded, I ended up settling :) for St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands! Thus prompting a reunion with a great friend of mine from my college days, "Star." Ironically, he was there the 1st time I donned the name "Free." It turns out, Star's been doing a bit of leg work for me down there, and a couple of my songs are already playing in rotation on the radio station 105 Jamz. Couple that with a guest appearance at a major show Friday the 14th at one of the islands' hot spots "Fat Turtle," and you've got the making of an ideal "vacation." Looking forward is an understatement. However, before doing so, I've got a good deal of business to solidify here in Santa Cruz. We've begun our major fundraising campaign for the this season. What we're selling is advertisement space in our program. After my 1st day on the town, the reception has been surprisingly delightful. I had no idea so many people in the community have connections to our school and basketball program. From the looks of things, sky is the limit for us financially. That is, IF, we ask. And I'm making it my business TO ask :) Not only here in the community, but out there in cyperspace too. If you're interested in donating to our program, you can do so here Regardless, all looks extremely bright on the horizon. For those of you who pray, please do keep my Harbor High School Boys in your prayers, not only for their health, but for added doses of patience in dealing with their new coach :) Blessings