Transparency

I'm going to write straight from the heart on this one. Which means, I'll probably stumble. My thoughts will scatter. And you might need one hell of a map -- so, buckle up.

Let's do this.

I've been thinking a lot about dreams lately. And how, a risk I took several years ago... turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life.

I feel like people only write stuff like that when they see success. When they're on the "other side", so to speak. Me? I'm not on the other side right now. Which makes saying something like that feel all the more real to me. I don't know if I'm going to make it. I don't know if I'm ever going to be the famous writer I've always believed I could be.

But it's a great fucking feeling to know I'll know I tried. That I didn't give up at trying to break the wall down from all these punches -- my knuckles are bloody, but I'm still going.

Somehow.

I think about the promises I've made along the way. To myself, but mostly? My mom. When I watched her die in front of me, something inside of me snapped. And I just started saying all of these things. All of these words -- almost like I was possessed, in a way. 

I told her I would use all the pain, everything I've been through, and do something good with it. That, "I'm going to be somebody today."

I don't care about money. I don't care about titles. I just want to have my writing make an impact on this world before I'm gone. I wanna leave a crater. This shit is way bigger than me. I know that by now.

I have days where I doubt myself so hard that I contemplate giving up. And then, I have days where I feel like I'm landing a punch so hard that everything is about to come true. I'm a pendulum in constant motion. But I am in motion. And in the end? That's all that really matters.

Lamb versus Lion. Who will survive?

...Hopefully both.

Hey Kid - Act II

Hey kid,

So, you raised your head up finally, didn't you? You really were listening to me the last time we spoke. The last time 'this'... experience... all began.

...it's been a hell of a journey so far, huh?

I understand how you must be feeling right now. And, believe me, you're not alone in wondering if this is all 'too good to be true'. But, you know what, kid...? At some point, you need to face facts. You need to smell the roses.

You need to wake up - so that way, everybody else can too.

...Aren't you getting it by now, kid...?

. . .

There was a rift, wasn't there? Something happened to you. I can feel it glowing, but, let's be honest - you're too busy to notice it's been on you the entire time. You were always enough, kid. You just needed to figure that out on your own.

It's funny, but... you really thought the world was falling apart back then, didn't you?

Yet, little did you know...

...some of your worst battles were yet to come. Weren't they?

Some, especially, within yourself.

. . .

It's called 'growing up', but does it ever stop? Do these challenges... these obstacles... these memories you keep plucking out like daggers each morning...

...do they ever...

...do they ever...

...stop?

. . .

I don't know, kid... I don't know. But, before I go - I'll tell you this:

Something special is about to happen, kid. You won't know what. You won't know when. You just need to understand - there's a reason you're still standing. There's a reason you're still here.

...So, keep waking up, will ya, kid? We can't wait forever, you know.

We've got places to be.

Finding 'My Voice' Through Writing

This sounds like something I'm writing to build up dramatic tension... but, the reality is... besides my family knowing? I haven't really talked about what I'm going to bring up to anyone. And, yeah, it's for that specific reason that I feel I must write about it. Because some of the most beautiful things in life are born from honesty. From courage. From not being afraid to, simply put, "hold back."

So, let's just do this.

One of the weird things I've been told a lot throughout my life is, "You're a great public speaker" or, "You're just as good talking as you are writing."

Look, don't get me wrong; this is an incredibly great compliment. And yet, each time I've heard it - I have to confess - it's really taken me a while to absorb the magnitude of such a genuine remark. Because what those (amazing) people don't realize is... what most of my (incredible) friends don't realize is... hell, what most of my (loyal) READERS don't realize is...

...I grew up with a stutter. In fact, it's something I still struggle with - yes, even to this very day.

. . .

When I was in early elementary school - I became conscious of my stutter. I became conscious of the fact that doing something as simple as speaking... felt impossibly difficult. How I became conscious of this fact is rather simple.

...And yet, terribly tormenting at the same time.

People laughed at me when I talked. People made fun of me when I raised my hand in class to try and answer a question the teacher asked. And it got to the point where I remember driving home one day and asking my family, "Is there something wrong with me?"

"Am I not normal...?"

Fuck. Just writing that, in all honesty, hurts. Because when you're a kid... everything you feel - everything you endure - it just hits you in a way you really never TRULY forget. I honestly believed - in that moment in time - that I wasn't "enough". That I would never "be accepted." And all the speech classes I was going to... all the stuff on the side I was trying to do to 'fix' the 'problem'... well, it felt like I was just inching closer and closer to being isolated from a realm of "normality".

Then, writing saved my life.

. . .

The reason I started writing from an early age isn't the story I've been telling everybody. Yes, there IS 100 percent truth attached to the fact that I found a journal in a book store that I really liked... and I begged my parents to buy it for me, to which they did... and then filled out every page, falling in love gradually with it.

But beneath that...? The real reason...?

I felt more comfortable writing than I did talking. That's just a fact.

On an empty page? I didn't write in a stutter. I didn't mince words... I didn't get scared to share my thoughts and feelings... because, well... nobody was going to laugh at me on the other side of the page. I was invincible, in a sense. Or at least, I felt that way. And as a kid...? That's a VERY powerful feeling to experience. One that, self-admittedly, can change everything.

...Looking and reflecting upon where I am today - or rather, the destination I'm heading - I guess, in a lot of ways, it did.

I don't want to say the REASON I fell in love with writing was because of this "escape". I truly believe it was my purpose in life to discover that passion - and even though the catalyst was enveloped by teasing and bullying... I know I wouldn't have written the script any different way. Even if I had the opportunity to. Even if I could erase the nights I didn't want to go to school the next day.

Putting this all out there to "the world" - that is, my past 'disability', so to speak - shouldn't change how you look at or perceive me. Just like it shouldn't to anyone else. No, I'm saying this stuff because I need to say it. It's something I've been hiding behind for what seems like forever and I know... from the bottom of my 'Lionheart'... as soon as I hit 'publish'... I'm going to feel an enormous weight lifted.

That's real.

. . .

I don't want to talk about how I overcame that obstacle with this particular "Lion's Den" post... perhaps, that's a chapter for another day... or even something you'll see in one of my future stories. Just know that every individual moment you might see me rapping along to a song in a video - it's not just because I genuinely love that style of music.

It's because I'm able to speak better than I EVER thought I could... and being able to write the same way is, well, an added bonus.

...That's confidence speaking, by the way. If you don't think I'm a "great writer" - I don't care. I was never doing this for your approval, anyway.

That-that-that-that-that's all folks, (I can get away with that)

KL

 

 

 

Snow Melts

If you're feeling cold right now? I'm hopeful that these words (I'm about to write) will light an ember for something you desperately need. Or, perhaps, they'll draw your eyes at least a little bit closer into realizing there is something "more" out there. That life... as unpredictable and challenging as it is... truly is worth living.

Look, reader, in a very non-subtle way - let me just address the thick of it:

I'm talking about mental illness. I'm talking about depression. I'm talking about something that, despite my shining optimism and daily words of encouragement... I, too, have faced.

...And because I've faced it - because I've woken up more times than I care to count wondering, "what the hell is the point?" - I think it's vitally important for the world to understand what this word "depression" means.

I want to preface this by saying something you probably already know... every single person is unique. Meaning, the way I fought through a storm doesn't necessarily mean it's the right way. I use this blog (aka "Lion's Den", I'm clever, I know) as a way to reach people outside of my books. I'm not here to talk about reviews, something I saw on TV or a funny joke I heard - no, screw that. I want to dig deep and find a way to help people, even if they might not be expecting it to come in the form of something they scrolled down on in their Instagram feed.

There's a lot of things that happen every single day. And with that, a lot of "bad things", ultimately, happen as well. The way everybody reacts to these events is different. Some might brush it off and carry on like nothing happened. Others? We fall apart. Or rather, we go into an abyss.

Speaking honestly...? I was the latter 'scenario' - if you will - for a long time actually. That's a little difficult to type, but it's the truth. When something hit me... it hit me HARD. And no matter what kind of mood I was in - hell, I could be having the best day of my life - I let it bring me down.

I've been told I'm a "good actor", but really? The people who knew me best could always see when something was bothering me. It radiated through the mask I wore, whether I was printing something in an office, handing you a compliment, or whatever - I carried that "shit" with me everywhere I went.

(Guess I'm cussing in this post. Cool. Let's fucking do this.)

I want to be real with you all because if I'm not? What the HELL am I...? I don't want to be whatever that is. And neither should you, for that matter. There's a lot of artificial, fake bullshit you're going to inevitably see in this world - but the Lion's Den doesn't have to be another one of those "places."

...back to examining the mirror I've been holding up to my face the previous few paragraphs - a lot of those "dark places" I went to were, admittedly, the result of a lot of unresolved things from my past. I grew up in a house that had cancer and, ultimately, I lost my mom at a young age. That's not a swan song. That's not to breed sympathy or pity - I hate that stuff, quite frankly. But because I kept that loneliness inside - because I didn't think anyone else would understand what I was going through - well...

I spent a lot of nights wondering why I was here. I spent a lot of nights searching for light. When, in actuality, the light was inside me the entire time.

The only way the snow was going to melt was if I found that light... if I found that "reason". For me? It's always been writing. It's always been my passion. And that's sort of where I'm moving forward to - I think everybody has a passion. I think everybody has something they can be incredibly good at with enough practice.

I think everybody has something they love to do.

I also think, as humans, we all have "gifts". And it's up to us - and us, alone - to find the best way possible to use our talents to make the world a better place. That's cliche. That's sappy. But, it's what I believe. Take it or leave it.

One of the biggest conflicts of depression is the self-belief that we're not "good enough". That sense of doubt (that, we often create within ourselves) is crippling... beyond crippling. Hell, it's paralyzing. And that's the thing about depression - it can go from an ember to a full on forest fire within our body in a mere blink.

So, how do you combat that? How do you fight through something when you feel like NOBODY can understand what you're going through and NOTHING can melt the avalanche you've fallen under........?

For me? I leaned on doing something I loved - writing. But it's not that simple. In fact, if I were to hold 'Depression' underneath a microscope... you'd quickly realize just how complex it is. Because - as I alluded to earlier - everybody reacts differently. Everybody is UNIQUE. So, again, the point of this post isn't to tell you how to beat depression - because there isn't a singular answer for that.

...no, the point of this post is to tell you that beating depression? Finding a way to rise up from that paralysis? It's achievable. It's doable. And as human beings, we all possess the resilience and strength to 'thaw' ourselves out of the shadows.

I feel this is necessary for me to say again - we ALL possess the RESILIENCE and STRENGTH to 'thaw' ourselves out of the shadows. That's something I wish I could go back to myself and say ten years ago... five years ago... hell, even as little as a YEAR ago.

But here I am. And I don't know if I've ever felt more alive in my life.

...which, brings me to my darkest point - suicide. Falsely believing the snow will NEVER melt and that the only way out is to end things. I want to scream what I'm writing right now because I feel like it could save lives:

THE SNOW MELTS. IT GETS BETTER. AND THERE IS ALWAYS TIME TO MAKE YOUR LIFE WHAT YOU WANT IT TO BE.

I stood outside one night calling my mom's old cell phone number over and over again. She didn't answer because she couldn't. Still, I kept calling - just because I wanted to hear her voice - just because I wanted to cry.

The emotion of being sad is a beautiful thing. It hurts like hell at the time, sure - but... it releases you. It makes you human. And from that vulnerability - we're able to grow. Depression, on the other hand, is NOT sadness. It is NOT a beautiful thing. And it is NOT to be taken LIGHTLY.

If you know anyone out there that might be struggling or having a hard time... please, please, go out of your way to be a little nicer tomorrow. And if you don't? Just be nicer anyways. Honestly, you've heard this before, but... you NEVER know what type of day somebody else is having. So, if they're being a dick to you? Let it go. If someone cuts you off in traffic? Just blast your music more.

Our actions every single day can change EVERYTHING - when I woke up today, I didn't think I was going to sit down and write a post about depression later on. But, again, here I am. And this is what I want to do - whoever is reading this right now, whether you've had the best day of your life or one of the worst - there's a lot of hurt in the world right now. There's a lot of wounds. But that doesn't mean we have to watch things burn... so, I encourage you to love one another. Be there for one another. And if you're lonely or struggling? Lean on the people around you because I swear they're there.

I'm here too, for the record. You can always email me at info.kylelionheart@gmail.com if you ever want to talk off the record.

Keep going and DON'T give up,

-Kyle

 

 

 

 

 

2018 Newsletter

What's up everybody,

First of all, let's address the obvious - Happy New Year! Yes, I put an emphasis on "new" because that's (pretty much) what I'm about to masterfully segue into... you know, gradually...

It was less than 1.5 years ago that I decided to go "all in" on my dream. That is, in case you're taking notes, with pursuing a career in what I've always been madly passionate about - writing. Looking back...? I can't deny it was the biggest risk I've ever taken in my life. I had a stable job, salary and a suit I was putting on everyday.

...And yet, I was wearing a mask the entire time. With every job I've ever had post college - everything that didn't involve writing - I was being someone I wasn't every single day. And so, being conscious enough to recognize this "dark revelation", I just had to rip it off.

I went "all in" on doing what I love.

They say it's the journey, not the destination. And, man, what a hell of a journey it's been ever since that awakening. You know, there's a reason dreams are called dreams... they're really hard to achieve. They seem impossible. But then, from not giving up - from staying determined for the right reasons - from finding a way to keep moving forward and writing - you slowly start to realize just how possible everything is.

Enter 2018.

Here's what you can expect for the next chapter of my writing journey:

1) "The Seven - Awakening" and "The Seven - Catalyst" (the first two books of my series) are going to be re-released in a final version ready for bookshelves everywhere. In addition to having new book covers, there will be professional illustrations before every individual chapter (similar to Harry Potter) as well as a brand new epic side-story I've wanted to integrate for quite a while now. One that I know will answer a lot of questions fans have been silently wondering.

I'll be releasing all of this in Q2 2018 - it's my first big project of the year and, ultimately? It's what I'll be eventually handing over to big house publishers.

2) While I'm not ready to officially announce the title of Book Three, I will say this - I'm going to begin writing it as soon as Awakening 2.0 and Catalyst 2.0 are available to everyone. I've been itching to jump back into that world so much and I can't wait for what comes next. It's going to be the darkest and most exciting book yet - not to mention, my longest (400+ pages).

My goal is to have Book Three out by the end of the year. And I'm going to write all of me until there's nothing left to try and make that happen.

3) In between all this, I've launched a new charity project called "Playing For A Purpose with Kyle Lionheart". Essentially, I'll be playing video games every weekend for the next few months over a livestream and everybody - yes, even you - will be able to donate to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital while this is going on.

All the details can be found on the 'Charity' section of kylelionheart.com - so, if you're curious... check it out. It's going to be amazing. And we're going to do a lot of good.

4) Behind the curtain these last few months, I've been working out a very different writing "muscle" - screenwriting. I've had an idea for a loooooooooong time now and I'm finally at the point now where I feel confident enough to actually do it. That's mysterious. That's ambiguous. And no, PLEASE don't worry - this isn't going to interfere with being an author.

I've just always wanted to do both. That's always been the dream. And so, like everything else in 2018 - I want to finally make those dreams come true.

I know it's cliche to end something by thanking readers, but... how can I not? Guys, from the bottom of my heart, I really hope you know just how much your support means to me. 1.5 years ago... the only people reading my stuff were my family members. And now...? Well, I'm beyond humbled. I'm beyond grateful. And I'm beyond motivated to work as hard as I can to deliver my absolute best to you.

Because you deserve it. And you're the reason I haven't given up.

All my love,

Kyle Lambky (Lionheart)

 

 

Real

This might be a mess. I'm not sure where I'm going to be going with this, but something is telling me to write. So, I'm listening to that voice. And, ultimately, I'm going to embrace wherever it takes me - especially, emotionally speaking.

It's funny. I grew up as an introvert. I kept my thoughts and feelings locked down so much that the only people who really knew the real me were my closest friends and family. Whenever I tried to speak in front of people in class - I'd freeze up. I'd stutter. People would laugh. And that? Well, it killed my self esteem.

I shouldn't have let it. I shouldn't have cared what other people thought of me. And yet, I did.

One of my biggest flaws has always been the fact that I've been incredibly hard on myself throughout my entire life. While other people might say, "wow I messed up - oh well, let's move on" I was the one standing outside by himself at night wondering why I was still here.

...Not to be dark, but I'm still wondering that.

But what the hell? Aren't we all?

This is why I've tried so hard to become transparent in my writing. I know I'm not a genius. I know I don't have an amazing vocabulary. And yes, I'm aware that I went into this "thing" blind, whereas other people actually know what they're doing. But, somehow, I don't think it matters.

I just have a lot of faith that this is all going to work out by being me. And reflecting that in my storytelling.

I'm all over the place right now. It's like I want to pick something to talk about... but every time I get close to that initial 'touch' - something else drags me away. I call it the "holidays". And I only have 5 more days left until I've survived another year.

It's been exactly ten years since I had a normal Christmas. That is, what I would define as a "normal" Christmas. My mom's cancer was starting to really get bad. But it didn't stop us from being together under the tree, opening presents and just finding a way to be alive in that moment.

I'm extremely thankful for those memories. They keep me going. They keep me inspired. They tell me, "this is worth it." I'm choosing not to be sad because I know there are too many people that depend on me to be smiling each day.

...that doesn't mean I'm not human, though. And when I write? I think I'm most human. It's not an escape. It's not something I'm ingesting into myself to try and numb the pain. No - it's just me and the page. Mono eeeeeee mono. And it's up to me to try and find a way to make something out of it.

I like that challenge. I like the way it feels when I'm doing it, but above all - the feeling I have when I'm done. Yes, I realize that's almost a direct parallel to the act of sex. And, no, I didn't need to actually write that - but here we are. Wildcard.

How do I segue gracefully out of that? Well, I don't. I just keep writing and before you know it, there's another exit on the freeway for something completely different. Like, for instance, that memory that's been burning inside my head each night:

"Sorry I missed your call, please leave a message with your name and number - and I'll be sure to get back to you."

"Beep."

"Hi, mom."

I remember calling that number almost every night for a while after she passed away. I would leave messages for her and in a way, it was my own way of 'talking to her'. I also have to admit that each time I called... I wanted nothing more than to hear her answer. To hear her voice just one more time. Something other than that personalized voice mail greeting.

I never did obviously because I don't live in a world of Disney. But I kept dialing despite this reality. We have our own ways dealing with grief/death and for me? That was just mine.

I think everyone struggles during this time of year. And I feel selfish talking so much about myself. I know things could always be worse. I know I got the chance to actually say goodbye to my mom, whereas other people fade away in the blink of an eye. So, for that? I can't really be sad. But, I am angry. I do think this is all unfair that right when I'm about to finally become 'somebody' through all these years of trying... the one person I want to make proud isn't going to be standing next to me to share in the moment.

I'll look up. I'll keep looking up. Because I have to. This isn't a time of my life to slow down or go into an abyss. It's okay to feel that way - it's okay to hurt - but that can't be an excuse for not delivering.

If I revealed everything I had planned right now for 2018... you'd be flooded. So, I'm keeping it in my pockets for now. Just know that I'm trying my best with everything I do. And if I fail along the way - I know I gave this thing everything I had.

-Kyle Lambky

 

"I think I was numb to it last year."

I don't know where I'm going when I begin writing sometimes.

It's nothing forced. It's not writing for the sake of saying, "I wrote something today." No, sometimes I just write because I feel compelled to let my voice rip onto the page. To let my passion take over and roll the dice on what appears when I look up one hour later...

...This is one of 'those' days.

Lately, I've been pondering that people might look at me in a lot of ways... they might see me as a kid with inhuman optimism, contradicting the series of obstacles I've had to overcome in my past footsteps. Or maybe they see me as some asshole wearing his heart on his sleeve for the rest of the world. Whatever corner you're in... I'll say this:

I'm just being me. No show. No gimmicks. I just want to get 'there' by being me the whole way. I know people will either love me or hate me along the journey. But at least I'm being honest. At least I'm still Kyle.

For most of my life - I have to admit - I've been pretty scared about a lot of things. When cancer infects your house when you're 14 years old; kinda hard not to see the world that way. And yet, that's a huge part of why my love for writing has intensified to the level it's currently boiling at now: that was my outlet. My punching bag. 

I guess what I'm trying to say is...an empty piece of paper was a place I could go to get away from reality and... well, I just kept doing it. So much, in fact, that I literally felt like I was a different person in those moments.

...I called that version of me, "Kyle Lionheart" - the brave contrast to the lamb that is, Kyle Lambky. And shit... here we are.

I've had a million thoughts on my mind lately. The finality of another year poisons me with that reflection... and the sprinkle of losing another friend definitely heightens the things I've been seeing when I try to close my eyes at night. Still, despite this pain inside; I feel like this is all going somewhere special.

And having that mindset around this time of year, honestly...? Pretty unreal for me. The holidays are usually the time of the year I struggle with the most (silently) and for some reason, I'm waking up feeling like this is the chapter where the story gets good.

I was numb to it last year. I don't think I am anymore, though... maybe this is what it feels like to finally be awake.

-KL

 

 

"What Do I Desire?"

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That's a question I've been asking myself in the mirror for a rather long time now. And, hey - let's be honest - it's probably something YOU'VE asked yourself (at one time or another) too.  I think this somewhat 'universal' question rolling off our lips boils down to this fact:

As human beings, it's only natural for our "desires" to be a core part of what drives us forward each and every individual day. What makes the red shift to green, so to speak.

Seriously, reader - just hold my hand and think about it... everybody has SOMETHING that drags them out of bed on a cold morning, right? And that's because we wouldn't be throwing our life into doing something that exhausts us unless there was a light at the end of the tunnel. Something that inspires hope. Dreams. Hell, a REASON for going after something that seems daunting at face value.

...You've heard that script before, huh. But, really...? I want to go a little deeper than that. After all, such an important question deserves a little dissection. 


When I write on my blog, I tend to try and aim the message of my posts to be something that, ultimately, HELPS the individual... something that CONNECTS my individual voice to YOUR HEART... and then - once our hearts are beating as one - I try to chip away at whatever wall you're facing, to bring a little light into the picture.

One word at a time. One 'crack' at a time.

Spoiler alert: this particular post isn't going to be an exception to that aim. Maybe that's confidence. Maybe that's experience - I don't know. 

Like everything else, I just want to try.


I can't understate just how important it is to HONESTLY ask ourselves, "what is it I desire in life?" Because if you don't do that...? The end result will be simple:

You'll spend your whole life doing things you really don't like doing...only to end up with a life you didn't really enjoy LIVING.

...And that's absolutely stupid

First things first... forget the money. If "money" is the desire - as in, the most IMPORTANT thing in YOUR LIFE - then, believe me, you're setting yourself up for misery. Because the reality is: you can get money doing things you absolutely HATE DOING EACH DAY. You can get money fulfilling a task that exudes ZERO PASSION. Yes, we could be an empty shell coasting blindly on autopilot... and still get a paycheck on Friday.

Then what...? You might have something that brings a little 'light' into your life. But then, inevitably, you'll spend it. And hey, guess what? Now you're back to doing something you hate doing just so you can repeat the cycle. All over again. The pendulum swings.

If any of that sounds familiar, wellllll - it's because this IS, unfortunately, the mask a lot of us wear in society. But tonight? I want to RIP that mask off. I want to break the stereotype that, in order to "be successful" you have to do "what's in front of you forever". 

No. No. No.

If you want to be a poet, be a poet. If you want to be a writer, be a writer. Simply put; if you want to BE SOMETHING... then, BE IT! If you ask yourself, "what do I want to do?" and get to the essence of discovering it... then, I'll say, to you, "go do that thing." 

I think this is so important because if we don't honestly ask ourselves what it IS that we desire in life... then, in a sense, we're using the wrong map the entire time. Hell, often times, we're using someone else's map. And with it, we're waking up each day and wondering WHY our life isn't what we WANT it to be. 

...When all we need to do is "do that thing" in some way each day. "Do what we love. Do what we desire."

Personally speaking? I've worn a looooooot of hats in my life. And with those hats, I've done a lot of things that, self-admittedly, I really hated doing at the time. And yet, those things were all NECESSARY, you see.

Why...?

Because at the end of the day - especially, the worst ones - I was writing inside a journal during a lunch break. I was typing furiously in front of my screen two hours before my alarm went off at four in the morning. In other words (terrible segue pun intended), I was finding ways to FEED my DESIRE each day (not someone else's)

In essence, I was finding ways to do something I truly love each day. And from doing that, slowly, yet surely, I've been using the right map. I've been pushing myself a little closer each day to what I truly desire in life, which is, "finding a way to help the world through doing what I love - writing."


So, what is it that YOU desire? There's a lot of questions in life we ask ourselves. And yet, that's the question you MUST ask yourself.

...That is, in order to get 'there' (if you want)

Look, this isn't a fairy tale. I can't help you actually 'get there', but I do think I can help you become conscious of this reality - this reality that we don't HAVE to spend our entire lives doing things "we don't really like doing". 

You can still BE whatever you want to BE in life. But you're never going to get there wearing a mask. You're never going to get there following someone else's map.

(and I really, really want you to get there...whatever 'there' truly is for you)

-KL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can still be happy

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Remember when we were kids? Better yet, remember when we were kids and we were all asked this stereotypical question at one time or another:

"WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?"

You have to admit, it's sort of comical, looking back on it all. As if a six year old kid would have any idea what they truly want their career to be when they grow up. Being innocent to the world around us, we'd of course blurt out answers such as, "a fireman" or "a doctor" or "president" because the idea of being all those things didn't seem impossible to us. In fact, the idea of being these things - these types of "people" in our society - felt all too real because there was nobody telling us that we couldn't do it.

And then suddenly, here you are. You're all grown up. And one day while you're clearing out your house, you come across a piece of paper from nearly 18 years ago. The writing is horrendous, misspelled and all around barely legible. But the core message within the note stands out immediately:

"WHEN I GROW UP, I WANT TO BE ________"

We laugh to ourselves reading the nostalgic filled note, but there's another part of us that isn't laughing. There's another part of us that is beginning to resurface after years and years of slumber. The part of us that we'd like to forget. The part of us that we'd like to not be reminded of.

The part of us that didn't end up becoming "blank".

I don't exactly think it's fair to assume that we all had this "idea" or "vision" of what we wanted to do when we grow up while we were kids. Our dreams change. Our visions shift. And that one idea you thought you wanted to spend the rest of your life aspiring to yesterday, might turn out to be something completely different the next day.

EVERYONE FIGURES OUT WHERE THEIR PASSION LIES AT THEIR OWN PACE AND TIMING IN LIFE. BUT THE SAD TRUTH IS-- NOT EVERYBODY HAS ENOUGH COURAGE TO FOLLOW IT.

Our past self that screamed "I'm going to be president!" with absolute confidence at age six has gradually become drowned out by the reality that surrounds us on an every day basis. Now there ARE people telling us that we can't do it. In fact, there are more people telling us we CAN'T do it than there are telling us that we CAN.

The tables have turned. The grass is not greener. And suddenly, we open our eyes and we're sitting at a cubicle asking ourselves, "Why did I pick up that note the other day? Why did I have to read that note and remind myself of what my life has become?"

EVERYTHING I JUST DESCRIBED SOUNDS PRETTY DARK, RIGHT? BUT THAT'S JUST THE POINT--THIS DOESN'T HAVE TO BE OUR LIFE.

It doesn't have to be this way. And I'm going to tell you exactly why... speaking from my own personal life. And more importantly, speaking from my own personal dream.

Why do you think most people end up doing something they don't love? The answer isn't as complicated as you might think. It is NOT some uncontrollable factor that cannot be changed. It is NOT some kind of destiny that got thrown your way because you didn't roll high enough. No, the reason that most people end up doing something they don't love is because they settle for what is already in front of them.

They go for what is convenient. They go for what is stable enough to get them by. And once they have that stability established (even if it's something they don't love doing), they hold on to it and never look back. Because to them, this is the best they can do. Or at least, that's what they begin to believe over the years. But the reality is, in believing this, they have become more lost and disillusioned than a 6 year old boy expressing his dream of becoming the next President of the United States of America.

Let me open the door a bit for you so you can get a glimpse. Over the last 8 months of my life, I have exited college and entered the working world. The "real world", so to speak. I have been fortunate enough to have found a job right away. Better yet, I have been fortunate enough to keep this job and move up in it within the short time frame I've been at it.

Is this job something I am truly passionate about? No.

But is this job something that's paying the bills and providing stability in my life?

Absolutelyyes.

The truth is, as the months started to pass, I started becoming more and more terrified that I would end up exactly like the "they" I mentioned above.... Working at a job for the rest of my life doing something that doesn't utilize or fulfill my passion.

...AND WHAT EXACTLY IS MY PASSION?

. . .

"Dad... did you ask Mom about it?"

"Don, what's he talking about?"

"A journal. He saw a journal he liked at the book store earlier today. He wants to go back and buy it."

"A journal, huh?"

"It's a 'Goosebumps' version one!"

"He does love 'Goosebumps'..."

"Listen sweety, we'll buy that journal for you. But you have to promise that you'll actually write in it and not waste it."

"I will, Mom. I promise."

"You have to fill each page, okay?"

"Ok."

"Alright. Let's go back to the bookstore later this afternoon and get it."

. . .

I was in second grade when this happened. My parents bought me that journal and for the first time in my life, I started to write using my imagination instead of something a teacher was telling me to write about. Every day I started filling the pages more and more. I wrote about my life. I wrote about what was happening in it. And I wrote about the future too-- the things I was looking forward to.

That journal got filled up, and by no means it was 'novel material'. But from filling up that journal, I did come to realize perhaps the most important epiphany of my entire life:

MY PASSION LIED IN WRITING. MY PASSION WAS WRITING.

I always told myself that, someday, I would write something that would have a positive affect on the world. But ever since I graduated and ended up "not saving the world" one day at a time, I have to admit that I had become discouraged up until now. The fact that I would wake up and go to sleep not having satisfied that passion in my life was killing me inside. And then, just when I was feeling at my mental worst, I got really sick (walking pneumonia). And remained sick for about an entire month.

Today was the first day I started feeling like myself again. But more importantly, today was the first day in what feels like forever that I told myself, "I'm going to write something today."

And here I am.

Everyone has their own source of inspiration and they lean towards it and hold it up like a light in the dark when things seem their most bleak. For me, my inspiration has always and will always be my Mom. I don't need to go into the whole story because I feel like many of you already know it, but there are TWO life changing events that happened with my Mom that I always look back to and remind myself of when I am ever feeling like that dream of fulfilling my passion is fading away.

1) On my 13th birthday, my mom gave me a card. Within the card, it expressed to me how she thought I was special. That there was something much more to me that I hadn't discovered yet and will some day down the road. After she read it, she looked at me and told me "I really do think you're special. And I'm not just saying that either." A few months ago when I was moving out of the house I had lived at my entire life, I found that same exact card she had given me. And the message has been instilled into me to this very day.

2) The day my mom passed away. That day fragmented me in many ways, but the one part I will never forget is the promise I made when I got into the hospital room. When I had accepted the fact that she only had a few more minutes left to live, I lost it. And I started talking to her. And one of the things I told her was that I promised I would be somebody. I promised I would go out and use what I've been through to help other people and make something of myself. And that's a promise I literally remind myself of every single day of my life.

Getting back to the point... if you ever find something that inspires you... and please, trust me on this-- listen to it. Listen to whatever is inspiring you and use it as your weapon. Because there are going to be a lot of shitty things that happen in life. Things that you probably hadn't planned for, prepared for and that will sometimes knock you down so hard you won't want to get back up again as the same person.

BUT ALL THOSE "SHITTY" THINGS ARE LIFE EXPERIENCES THAT WILL DEFINE YOU AS A PERSON. AND FROM USING THAT INSPIRATION AS YOUR SECOND WIND, YOU CAN STILL FIND YOUR WAY IN THIS WORLD. YOU CAN STILL BE WHO YOU WANT TO BE.

You can still be happy.

I made myself another promise today. I promised myself that after I finish this big fundraising project I've been working on that will occur in July (and believe me, it's going to be BIG), that I would turn my attention during my off time between work on my writing.

And more specifically, on turning my writing into something the rest of the world can hopefully someday see.

So if you're like me, and waking up to go to a job you might not necessarily "love" tomorrow, just remember-- you can still be who you WANT to be in life. And just because you're not where you want to be yet, doesn't mean it's not going to ever happen. Use the fact that you're not there as a means to try and bring the dream closer to you.

One day at a time. Don't give up.

Sample Kotaku 'Teaser' Article - "Backseat Gamer"

I watched people playing video games when I was younger. And when I say 'watched', well, that's it.

Look, it's not that I was invisible, reader - you can burn that myth. It's just... for whatever inner 9-year old, "it's complicated" reason that existed back then - whenever someone handed me a controller; I'd inevitably reject it faster than vegetables (what the hell were those things, anyways?) on my plate. From there on out...? I suppose it was the same reoccurring script:

They'd quickly eye me for the strange kid I was (am). And then, much like a pendulum swinging back, their eyes would return to the screen. 

...as always, mine would return as well. 

For some reason I didn't want to play. And yet, I couldn't look away. It was a conundrum for the ages. Honestly, reader: I don't know why I was 'afraid' to play video games at first. I don't know why it took me over six months to finally pick up a controller.

What I do know...?

I was a backseat gamer. Which, ultimately, meant that I loved everything about video games, even if I wasn't the one pushing the buttons.

You know, it's funny. Thinking back, if a game changing (pun, admittedly, horribly intended) platform such as Twitch were to exist back in the 90's - I wouldn't have watched anything else. But hey? It didn't (instead we had POGS). And thus, my Saturday afternoons became me sitting around, dunking vanilla flavored dunk-a-roos, and slowly succumbing to a trance-like state of watching my friends try to progress/beat video games.

Honestly? I think to a lot of rational people, that would probably sound like I was missing out. Still, the reality at that point in time...? I had never actually PLAYED a video game before and that virtual cherry was very much UN-popped. To me, it was almost like this "impossible" concept or form of art that I couldn't believe my friends were performing on the screen. Which, if you hold under a microscope - seems to be the trend for a lot of things in the mind of a kid (hell, the prospect of learning to ride a bike seemed like going to outer space at first).

...Regardless, I'd be cheering them on. Whether it was during the thrill of victory or the cringing agony of that all too familiar crimson red 'GAME OVER' sign; I'd always be cheering them on. Until one day - six fateful months later on an unusually warm, Christmas morning - everything in my life changed.

Enter my parents buying me a Super Nintendo. Furthermore, enter the first game I ever played:

Super Mario World.

Bold move, mom and dad. Apparently, they had been watching me watching others (...that was hard to write) play video games long enough. So long, in fact, that they quite literally threw a controller into the palm of my hand and uttered those few fateful words I'll always remember, "Son... it's time for you to start controlling your own destiny."

...Okay, I'll be honest - I just wanted to write that pun. I think they said, "Merry Christmas, Kyle!" Or, you know, something (less epic) like that. Legendary fictional speeches aside; I couldn't see it back then, but the moment was bigger than me. I was now in possession of something that, quite literally, ALL my friends at the time had. There was no longer an excuse. There was no longer this voice inside my head telling me, "You're not worthy enough to play video games."

No.

Suddenly, I had the ripping urge to slide that purple power button on and see how I would fare. And so, with the courage given to me by my then 13-year old sister - together, we sat down on that carpet floor after opening all our presents and embarked on a journey I'll never forget.

A journey that, ultimately, would lead me into falling in love with playing video games for the next 20 years (and counting) of my life.

The Well of Inspiration

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One of the things I've always been fascinated with is the ability to inspire. In fact, inspiration as a whole is a subject that I have always been drawn to. And no, to dismiss the obvious, I'm not talking about the "fake" kind of inspiration here. You know, the cat hanging on and telling you to hang on poster? Or even the video a friend posts on your wall that they might have found to be inspiring, but you couldn't care less about. No, I'm talking about the punch in the gut, knocks you over, hits you by surprise kind of inspiration - the kind that everybody, whether they will ever admit it or not, seeks on a near daily basis.

The fact is, when we are truly inspired, we recognize and feel it almost immediately. And why is that exactly? Because it changes us. It impacts us. It draws us forward when a wall seemingly blocks our path. Finding inspiration isn't a common thing. We might seek it on a daily basis, but that doesn't mean we necessarily find it either. Yes, true inspiration is somewhat of a rarity - a treasure, so to speak. And when we happen to find it (or it finds us), there's no denying the effect it has. There's also no denying that if a place sold inspiration as if it were a product, people would be lining out through the streets.

So yes, I think we can all agree that inspiration is a generally positive thing. It gives us strength when we need it most. It allows us to form new ideas that perhaps might someday change the world as we know it. It's that voice that tells us to, "keep moving" when all we want to do is stand still. And most of all, it infects the people around us - inspiration can be very contagious. People have the ability to pass the torch that lit them to another person who might need it more. If they want.

The only problem with inspiration is... well, to put it quite bluntly, there's no well. There's no infinite supply of inspiration that we can just run our hands through and walk away from each day feeling renewed.  It makes sense though. Why would something rare be so easy to find? Why would it be so easy to obtain? You've heard all the cliche's in the book about life, so I won't throw another one at you... but we all know that the best things don't ever come easy. Inspiration is the same. Right?

...I think that's bullshit.

Why am I writing about inspiration? Because I think that everybody on this planet needs it. And if someone reading this, right now, this very second, is hungry for it... then guess what? I'm about to deliver it to you through the convenience of this note. But you're going to have to keep reading in order for that to happen. It's a risk - one that you're just going to have to trust me on and take. Ready? Any second thoughts? Good. Let's jump into it.

So there's not a well of inspiration that exists. I get that. Just like I get that there's not a fountain of youth or a sauna that magically erases student debt. But what I DO believe is that every person has some sort of "well" of inspiration that they draw from. Whether it's a person, an event, an object, a picture, a song, a place, a movie, a quote, an anything - it doesn't matter. Everybody gathers inspiration differently. Let me repeat that again because it's important: Everybody gathers inspiration differently.

You know what's the worst thing you can do with inspiration? You probably guessed it - waste it. The worst thing you can do when something truly inspires you is to dismiss it. Some people feel inspired and treat it like a runners high. Sure, they feel it and begin to use it... but the second they don't feel the inspiration or feel its potency leaking out, they stop moving with it. They stop carrying it with them. And suddenly, the well becomes dry. There's nothing in it. And here we are again, a vicious cycle, seeking inspiration just long enough to move us forward only a few feet just to stop in our tracks again.

Look, it's inevitable. If you wake up one day and something happens to make you feel suddenly inspired, you're not going to carry that momentum with you forever. It's going to decay over time and pretty soon, whether you want it to happen or not, you'll lose it. Dark thoughts, perhaps, but I'm not trying to be naive here - I know it because I've felt it. For instance, to throw my own life in as tribute... what's one of my goals? Well, I really want to become a successful writer someday. Now, do you really think that if I wake up one morning and feel inspired to do that, that feeling will last me all the way until I reach my goal? To you think that feeling I had that one morning will last me writing 315 pages?

Of course it won't. I could never possibly expect one thing to inspire me through all of that. Sooner or later, like everybody else, I'll hit a wall and I'll run out of steam. But here's where many of us, myself very much so included, make a mistake: When we lose inspiration, we often wait for it to come. It's almost as if it's this star that we're looking at and wishing on every night. And when we wake up the next day and it's not there or doesn't arrive, we get frustrated. And wish harder and harder until months have gone by and we have been sitting idly at our desk just "doing" life - not achieving and living it to its fullest potential.

This is why we must build our own well. This is why we must build something for ourselves that can contain those drops of inspiration. Something that won't let it dry out. Something that can allow it to grow. Something that we can look down at even during the darkest of nights and still see our reflection in underneath the moon light. That way, when we gain inspiration, it doesn't go away. We hold on to it. It becomes a part of our collection. And whenever we are thirsty for it, all we may have to do is drink it.

Wait just a gosh darned second... loop hole. "Kyle, if I'm drinking a bunch of this 'water', won't it run out sooner or later?"

I guess it's easy to think that way. But really, I think one of the biggest misconceptions about inspiration is that we seem to believe that it disappears once we use it. Which, it actually doesn't. That is, unless we allow it to fade away.

Think of a person that inspired you. A person that gave you the courage to do something. The words they said for you to do it. Or perhaps the action they showed that made you take the next step. All of that happened. And nothing or nobody can ever take it away. Even if the person isn't physically there anymore... how they inspired you remains eternal. And thus, the inspiration itself remains eternal as well.

That's why if you build your well in the right way, you can never lose the inspiration even when you're tapping into its resources. Those people or those things that inspired you - they will ALWAYS be there. Again, and this is so important... if you let them be there. If you hold on to the people and things that inspire you, all you need to do in order to feel inspired is take a second to look.

I get it - life is hard and there are some days where maybe we don't even want to be inspired. Maybe we've been kicked down so hard that all we want to do is lay there. I've certainly been like that, more often than I care to admit. But that's the thing about being resilient in life - no matter how much things might change or become crazy around us, we can still control what inspires us. Maybe we might not always feel intact.. that's all part of being human, after all. But don't let life drain your well. Don't let someone take what you built away from you. You've spent your whole life building something, so are you really going to let one thing or obstacle break everything down?

The relevancy and root of all this is that I'm learning this lesson currently in my life, and I wanted to share what I've learned so far. I guess what I'm trying to say is, a couple months ago, I thought my "well" of inspiration was completely empty and dried up. Which, honestly scared me because anyone who really knows me knows that I'm drawn to being optimistic and inspired at almost all times. It's my fuel, essentially. Well, I took the time to stare at what I thought was empty over the last few months of my life, and I've discovered that the only reason I couldn't see it before was because I had forgotten where I put it. And as I began to reflect and see the things and people in my life that have given me so much, I started to see the well fill up again. And each day, it gets a little deeper.

If you're looking for inspiration, there's a fairly good chance that you're already carrying it in you. All you need to do is shut up, sit down, and think. Breathe, take a walk and remember the people and things that have gotten you through to this point of your life. And then, once you start seeing and remembering, I want you to get excited. Because guess what? You'll keep finding more and more to add to your well along the way. Each day offers another opportunity. So get excited about tomorrow, but don't forget what's already there today...

In the end, we only get a certain amount of time to fill up our "well" of inspiration. For me, or you, that could be taken away at any moment. And our goal should to make what we build something that other people can use too. Inspiration is a communal act. If we have a way to help someone else, you better damn well find a way to do it. Now that's wasting inspiration - when you know you can help someone else, but refuse to do it. Use what you built every day to move you along in life, and help other people when they get stuck. We're all in this mess together, so why not make things easier by inspiring one another whenever an opportunity to do so arises? Don't waste inspiration - use it. And once you've used it, spread it to somebody else. And once you've done all that, and you're staring at the wall again... remember all the times you broke it down.

And then break it down again.

An Open Letter to Peyton Manning

[A personal hero of mine is getting honored today - this is something I wrote back when he retired after Super Bowl 50]

Dear Peyton,

Please allow me to preface this letter by saying I’m not writing this in some wild hope or attempt of you stumbling across the internet and seeing this. That would be like me asking someone to close their eyes, spin a globe a thousand times and point to where I spat my gum out yesterday.

No, Peyton. I’m writing this because I respect you and the incredible portfolio of your grand 18 year career in the national football league. And I want to tell you exactly why.

I have always been a Broncos fan, yet I was a Peyton Manning fan from almost the very beginning. I remember watching as a kid and seeing someone that I immediately respected. That was sort of a weird thing for me, in all honesty. I didn’t know why exactly I respected you in the manner I did.

Was it the humble attitude you carried both on and off the field? Even after the most clutch victories that would have most quarterbacks today dabbing? Was THAT what made me respect you?

Or was it the level of preparedness you exhibited. The hundreds and hundreds of hours you spent in a film room, studying. Grinding to reach a mental level unprecedented by your foes. Something that even the greats couldn’t rival. Did I respect THAT?

I’m not sure, Peyton. But what I AM pretty damn sure of is this...

You and I are a little more similar than you might originally think.

Let the records serve that I will never be famous. I will never be a media icon such as yourself. And I sure as hell won’t be breaking any records. Yet, if there’s one thing that makes us similar Peyton, I think it’s the resilience we both share.

...and I think that resilience is one of the most under appreciated and above all, one of the most important qualities a person can possess in life.

Please allow me to explain: I’ll never forget when you endured your first real form of injury. Mainly because, it happened during a time of my life where I felt very much injured as well - mentally speaking.

You see, Peyton, my mom had just died during the time you went down on that field from a six year battle with stage four breast cancer. And during that time, I didn’t know who I really was anymore.

For years and years, I had built a reputation of being the ‘strong’ one of the group. People would always seek me for help. And when I told them I was okay, I meant every word - I knew my mom was fighting cancer. We all were, in some way or another. But life is a battle... so I always seemed to draw strength from watching you from that hospital......

..until one day, when I woke up and it was all over. My mom, the person I was most like in this world, no longer was there.

During that time, I have to admit, I didn’t understand things. I’m sure you didn’t understand them either, Peyton. “Why do we fall?” I’ve always wondered that, buddy. But then I realize, as I write this today, I think we fall down because life makes us stronger in the process from every inch of the fall itself - those difficult moments and circumstances... they forge us into the type of people that can make a difference in this crazy world and society we live in. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.

That’s what I still would like to believe..

I almost dropped out of school during the timeline of your injury and my mom’s entrance to heaven. I was in the purgatory of community college and quite frankly, I didn’t know if I ever wanted to go back. I saw a lot of color before that time of my life... I think my view of the world grew a lot darker when the person I had always leaned on in my life suddenly wasn’t there anymore.

Until, I realized... she really was there. She had been there all along. I just couldn’t see things straight.

I think we all have these types of moments in our life, Peyton -- Moments that challenge us to either make a difficult decision or present a choice to us that can change everything. You always taught me the importance of family and because of that, I had a lot of support to finish what I had originally started. You’re a lucky guy to have an Archie or an Eli - just like I’m lucky to have a Donald or a Julie.

As you rehabed, I took 22 units at one time and raced to the finish line to get into a school that would allow me to achieve my dream of academic excellence. It wasn’t easy - nothing big ever is, right? Still though, from watching you rehab and get stronger, I felt like it was my own civic duty and responsibility to myself to do the very same.

So I focused. And the admittance letter spoke to its own volume. I was on my way to UCI.

This is the point where our timelines are kind of strange, Peyton. Because as you began a very new chapter of your NFL career, I too, began my own new chapter as well.

The Colts, no disrespect to them at all, didn’t want to roll the dice on you. But in my heart, I knew one team that would:

The Denver Broncos.

I’ll never forget the excitement I had the morning you announced that you would be coming to Denver. I woke up to a flurry of Facebook and text messages saying, “Peyton’s coming to your team.”

I was in shock. Yeah, sure, I had a quiet confidence in my childhood hero coming to the team I grew up cheering for, but to see it actually come to life and fruition... I wasn’t really prepared for something like that.

Then, as expected, immediately came the other side of the narrative. The critics. The “haters”. The people that said you couldn’t bounce back from an injury like that. The people who said it couldn’t be done.

And I never listened to them, even for a second. And I’m sure you didn’t either, Sheriff. That’s because when you have a true passion for something in life, you don’t let the outside world steer you off track. Football is your passion, Peyton. And for me, well, it’s writing. In my early months of UCI, I felt like it wasn’t enough that I made it there.

I needed to do more. I needed to be more.

That’s why I got heavily involved in the non-profit world before you even began your first true season as a Bronco. I felt like life had given me a new opportunity and I wanted to do everything in my power to give back to that. My friends, the ones that stood by my side the entire way - they know that. We did a lot of pretty small, yet equally impact worthy things together during that time. And I’m glad we did. We certainly learned and grew a lot together.

And then, you started playing. And I’ll never forget the look in my Dad’s eyes as you took that first snap against the Steelers, who were out for blood after the Tebow to Demaryius drubbing in overtime the previous year. It was, “unique”, as you would say. It was the first time where I felt like my mom was sitting in the family room watching beside me. It gave me a strange sense of comfort and pride to see my childhood hero in orange and blue. Perhaps it was white, that game. Regardless, superstitions aside, that first day as a bronco was special - for you, and for me, buddy.

I could write a lot about the next few years - but I won’t. Because it doesn’t need to be written about. You set all those records, You set up all those wins, You took your team to a place we hadn’t seen in years and years. And you did it as classy as you did the first day you entered the league.

Of course, you would never admit it was you doing everything. “It’s a team effort”. I get that, Peyton... but, let me be the first to tell you.

It was YOU that did those incredible things. YOU did it. No one else.

Stepping away from that side though, I’ll never forget the Broncos/Seahawks superbowl. Oh man, I will not. Some people might not understand why I reacted the way I did to that killing - and I don’t ever expect them to. This letter’s purpose isn’t to do that. But I do remember being the only person wearing a broncos jersey at that superbowl party and watching in slow, painfully inducing motion, as the dream of holding up the Lombardi trophy got crushed one Kam Chancellor hit after another.

I remember playing flag football during half time, and accidentally ripping off my best friends t-shirt through a play. I was furious. I was angry. I didn’t understand.

I was in a very difficult place of my life when that was all happening. I was working at a job that, while I was lucky to have, I knew it wasn’t using my passion and potential. So, I would go about every day, scarf a sandwich and protein bar at lunch time, and write in my car... I just wrote... because Peyton -- similar to the way you always practiced, I wanted to be the best. And I knew, the only way I was going to get that was through hard work and most of all, discipline to myself.

People laughed at me a lot during that loss - rightfully so. I ran away from the world a little bit during that time not just because of that defeat, but because I felt like I had let my own personal team down as well.

I wasn’t getting any closer to my dream. I wasn’t upholding a big promise that I had made the night before my mom passed. And I didn’t like the person I was becoming in the process of it all. I didn’t like being Kyle Lambky for the very first time of my life. And that scared the hell out of me, Peyton.

I tried other jobs. Jobs that, I thought would make me happier or give me a renewed purpose in life... but as another hopeful season developed and ended in a one and done situation to the, as irony would serve, Colts... Well, I felt like my momentum in life had peaked, in a sense.

Maybe I was going to have to settle for everything that was in front of me. But then, 2015 happened...

This is the final part of my letter, Peyton - I know it’s gone on long enough. But this is by far the most emotionally meaningful portion for me to write, personally.

2015, as a whole, was one of the most difficult years of my entire life. That’s something, I’m very sure, you might be able to relate to. I mean, as soon as the season began, everyone seemed to be counting you out. And then, when you got BENCHED - Peyton god damn Manning, BENCHED - that happened at a time of my life where things were at their all time- worst.

Again, Peyton - I might be a nobody compared to you, but we are a lot more similar than you think.

My family has a tradition where each year, we go to one game together. We did it the previous year where I was able to see you break the all time touchdown record against the niners, and we were going to do it this year for the New England Patriots. The same game that, ironically, you weren’t even playing in!

I remember standing up all game, screaming through that blizzard with my family. And as the clocked rolled to over time, and CJ Anderson broke free for that game winning touchdown - something inside of me changed forever that night.

I began believing again. In you - in myself. In all the things around me. Cliche, sure. But accurate? You’re damn right, Sheriff. You’re damn right.

I knew you would come back. Because you had done it before. And when I was at home in Colorado spending valuable time with my family, and you got called on to that field... well, again, that was another unique footnote of an incredible story and most of all, an incredible season.

From that point on, I saw something very different in you, Peyton. Yeah, you couldn’t do everything perfectly. But no one can do it perfectly forever! What I saw from you though, that was different, was a look of determination on your eyes that mirrored my own individualistic passion.

I wanted to win just like you did. I wanted to succeed just like you did. I wanted to prove everybody wrong, just like you did. And I knew the only way to do that, was with my teammates:

My family. My friends. My loved ones.

My mom..

You won, Peyton. Both on and off the field, you won. I want to thank you for helping me through some of the most difficult moments in my life. I promised myself that if I ever developed an outlet to help people, that I would do so... so Peyton, thank you for 18 years of a masterpiece.

Ride on, Sheriff... Cheers to your new chapter - I can’t wait to read it.

-Kyle Lambky

The Moment

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"It's getting late, I should probably..."

"No! I mean-- can't you just stay like... five more minutes?"

"Five minutes...?"

"Five minutes."

"Well, in that case... Okay. I'll stay."

"Thanks."

"For what...? Staying?"

"...thanks for not leaving."

"Uh, sure. No problem."

This was it. If there was ever a night where I was going to make my move, it had to be tonight. "Make your move." What the hell does that even mean? It's not like I haven't been trying to move this relationship forward since the day I started having feelings for her. And yet, here I am. Here she is. Here we are. And look outside the window. Do you see those things way up in the sky next to the moon? Those are fucking stars, man. And for the first time in what feels like forever, those stars have aligned. No, they're not aligned for you. Don't be selfish, after all, this is my story. Yes, that's right, the stars have aligned for me. But just for tonight. This one night. So I better not--

"Do you have any water?"

"Yeah, sure thing."

Why does she want water? Is the room too hot? Am I too hot? I'm funny. I'm sensitive. I'm the all around nice guy that every girl will want to be with. You know, eventually. But not now. No, not yet. Is she an exception? She's staying an extra five minutes so she has to be an exception, right? When's the last time you had a girl back in your apartment this late at night? Never? I should ask her if she wants ice. After all, she's trusted me with being the bearer of her water. The water that keeps her hydrated and furthermore, the water that keeps her alive. I mean, if you really think about it, she's trusting me with her life in a weird sort of way. I better not fuck this up.

"Ice or no ice?"

"No ice. Just water, please."

She doesn't need ice. She's too cool for ice, anyways. She always has been. Why is the water taking so long to fill up this cup? Doesn't the water realize I only have five minutes to "make my move" and seal my destiny with the girl I've liked for nearly 8 years now? We're a team, water. We're a fucking team. You quench her thirst, and from there on, I'll hopefully quench her heart. So work with me here. Work with me. Please, just work--

"Hey, are you okay?"

"..."

Here she is suddenly right next to me. She looks concerned. More importantly though, she looks concerned about me. She cares about me. She cares about our friendship. We have such a good friendship. What am I doing? I can't possibly screw up this friendship.

"Yeah... I'm just-- I'm just a little.. it's been a long day."

"I'm sorry."

Her hand goes on my back. I can't move. Paralysis. I can't interpret the moment. Is this the comforting touch of a friend that's seen the best and worst of me the last 8 years? Or is this the touch of a friend who wants to be something more with me? God damn it. I hate this fucking game. I learned how to read in kindergarten, but what they should have been teaching us was how to read the language of girls. Because I'm lost. I need an interpreter or something. Water, help me out already. It's your turn to contribute to the conversation.

"Well, here's your water."

"Thank you."

"Hey... Jess."

"Yeah...?"

Here it was. My defining moment. The last 8 years have both progressively and painfully led me here. I've waited patiently. I've done everything that was ever asked of me. And all that was left to do now was to vocalize everything I had been feeling. The king was in check. All I had to do to finish the game was simply make my move. Come on, idiot. Those stars aren't going to be aligned forever.

"There's something I've been wanting to tell you for a while now..."

"Yeah...?"

Say it. Do it. Scream it. No, don't scream it. You're a few short words away. Think of all the words you've said to this girl. Millions. Millions of words. So what the hell is three more going to do?  I like you. I like you. Just say it. I like you. I like you. You're not saying it. You're not going to say it. You can't say it. I'm saying it! I have to say it. I like you. I like you. Friendship. Gone. No. Can't deal with. Not tonight. Not any night. Never. I like you.

"I'm glad to have you in my life."

"I'm glad to have you too. But it's getting late and I have work tomorrow.. I'm sorry, but I need to get going."

"Yeah, no problem. I'm pretty tired too. I'll walk you out."

"Thanks.."

It's pretty dark right now. You know, considering that every star that was in the sky just fell to the ground laughing at my failure. I don't know why I didn't say it. Fear. Anxiety. Nausea. All of the above. The door closed and who knows when it will ever open again? If it will ever open again?

"Well, thanks for everything tonight. I had a really good time with you."

"Yeah of course. I had a good time with you too."

"Hey, can I ask you something this time?"

"Sure, what's up?"

"Why did you ask me to stay five more minutes?"

What the hell is this? The lights are back on and somehow I'm still moving forward. Maybe this isn't over yet. Maybe I still have a shot. It's the fourth quarter. Only a few seconds left. Do I throw a hail mary and try and win the girl? Or take a knee and come back after I've had a bit more practice..

"Why wouldn't I want to have five more minutes with you?"

She's smiling now. Wow, she's really smiling. That worked. That actually worked. It's not exactly what I planned on saying, but somehow the words just rolled out. It was smooth. Holy shit, that was smooth. Where did that even come from? Was that the water speaking for me? It wasn't direct. It wasn't indirect. It was a balance. I had achieved balance.

"Goodnight, Zack."

"Goodnight, Jess."

I close the door. But for the first time of my life, I feel like I have the power to open up the door again. I feel confident. I feel in control. I feel like I'm a fucking champion. Tonight may not have given me the answer I had wanted, but it did give me the reassurance that I wanted. And sometimes reassurance is exactly what we need. Because in the end, everyone needs reassurance at some point or another.

I go into the kitchen to turn off the light. And then I notice it. Staring right back at me with its clear eyes is the cup of water. Full to the brim.

She didn't even touch it.

Come Together

"Why did it happen?"

"...I don't know."

"But why, Dad? Why did someone do something like that?"

"I don't--"

"Why would someone do something like that?"

"................."

[I don't know. I really, really don't.]

. . .

I woke up to the echoes of gun shots this morning. And much like you; I'm having a hard time believing any of 'this' is real.

...Because 'this'? 'This' isn't some normal type of wound. 'This' isn't the type of thing you put a band aid over. 'This' is something that will fester and decay if we turn our eyes away from it. 'This' wound...? 'This' horrible thing we woke up to this morning - 'this' mark can become a crater.

That is, unless we come together over 'this'.

Not just as a nation - not just as a union of people with collective differences - but as human beings. Because where the hell is humanity when you wake up to over 58 deaths? Because where the hell is humanity - where the hell are we - when kids are going to school today pretending that 'this' is all static...? Blindly accepting between the clank of their cereal bowl that 'this' is just all part of, "the world we live in today." 

Look, reader - let's just crack the fourth wall here and get on with it.....

I get it. I really do. Tensions are high. Each new week seems to breed a new fear. And that's why I'm begging you not to put your head underneath the sand right now. That's why I'm begging you to squeeze my hand instead of brush it away - because we're all feeling the same thing right now.

...Because we're all human beings with hearts. And if you squeeze the person's hand next to you - you'll realize; this world really isn't as disconnected as you might think. 

Standing outside this morning got me thinking: If I did have a kid, honestly? I wouldn't lie to him or her about what happened today. "There's horrible people in this world. I don't know why, but there just are." Today's Vegas tragedy? I guess from one angle... it only further solidifies that. But, you know what? I think there's another angle too. One we might not be looking at that I'm hoping to draw out within this... well, chaos.

If we let what happened today further divide us... if we let what happened today inspire isolated anger... isolated ANYTHING... then, guess what...? We're digging a crater. We're digging something we're going to have a HELL of a hard time seeing out of someday. And I don't know about you... but, screw, "this is the world we live in today."

I want kids saying, "That was the world we lived in then, but here it is now. Here's what we're doing about it together now. Because here's what we did about it together then."

-KL

Hopes and Dreams

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Hey kid,

It's been a while, hasn't it? I know a lot has happened. I know a lot has changed. But, somehow, you haven't - have you? 

...I'm not insulting you, kid. Hell, if anything; I'm relieved.

Look, it's not that I didn't believe in you - it's not that I thought you were going to fail. It's just... well, the sad truth is, kid - humans can hear us a lot easier when they're younger. And I don't know what happens in between - I don't know what causes the world to tell them, "those things talking to you all that time ago WEREN'T REAL."

For the life of me, I don't know why we're suddenly labeled 'imaginary'.

You know, I'm pretty sure... I'm pretty sure a lot of people out there still don't think we're real. But, hey - you're one of the exceptions, aren't ya, kid? How else would we be having this conversation?

How else would you be able to still hear me?

...Do me a favor, kid. Since it's obvious our dialogue won't be ending anytime soon, there's something I want you to do: be a vessel, will ya? Go out there and show them what's possible. Show them where passion takes a person. Show them what real determination means. Show them there's a light for even the darkest of times. Show them what it means to have hopes and dreams. 

Because In case you haven't figured it out by now - in case you're still pretending it isn't coming true - this story really isn't about you. it's about everyone.

This is everyone's story, kid. You're just the domino.

Kid, I know it's hard. And I know that right now...? Right now, especially, it feels lonely most of the time. But, one day - one person at a time - you're gonna start to see it. You're gonna start to waking people up.

You're going to show them... show them...

...show them we're still real.

Ember

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"I came back - just like I told you I would."

"..."

"I know. I know to anyone else - this is just me talking to myself."

"..."

"But, I think you're listening to me. In fact, I think you've been listening to me the entire time."

"..."

"Maybe these words will find you one day. Or maybe they already have..."

"..."

"...I guess I just have to keep trying."

"..."

"Because the last thing I want you to see is me giving up."

. . .

What am I really doing if my writing isn't helping people? I'm just making words. I'm speaking without a pulse. Sure, I'm making something. "I'm creating." But... I may as well be screaming underwater. 

...I don't want to be just another static sound. I want to be a voice that wakes people up - a voice that inspires individualistic hopes and dreams.

...I don't want to be anything less than that.

The first night I started writing again - I have to admit - something rather peculiar happened to me. I woke up in the middle of the night (as I usually do), but for some reason... my body was already standing up...!

No, it wasn't a dream. Yes, I had to pee. And yet, as I stood there in eerie silence; there was this strange "force" gripping my legs to the ground. Almost as if they were frozen by cement. Now, I don't keep any lights or television on when I sleep, so I'm used to feeling around the darkness in between a night. Except this particular darkness? This particular darkness wasn't darkness at all...

It was an abyss. Or, perhaps, I was in an abyss.

...I kept trying to move my body, but I couldn't. It was as if I had woken up in an entirely separate dimension; isolated from all signs of familiarity. I must have stood in that paralysis-shocked state for at least three minutes... that is, until FINALLY - I started to see properly again.

My hand met the door.

Flush. Sleep. Forget it ever happened. End scene.

Why am I digging up something like this...? Well, I guess it's because I feel like things haven't been as dark ever since that (admittedly, strange) night. And most importantly, things aren't as dark ever since I started moving the pen around again.

Let me tell you something about writing: it's a DISCIPLINE. If you say, "I wanna be a writer" and think making a book, screenplay or whatever will make you that - you're wrong, pal. Because being a writer means writing every day.

No excuses. No, "but, Kyle - I hit a wall."

...Keep writing until you bust that wall open. Keep writing until you're flooded.

I look back to a year and a half ago - the moment I chose to step away from a 8-5 salary and pursue my passion full-time. And, you know what...? It's funny, I really was terrified back then. But whenever I woke up each morning feeling scared... I just went straight into writing. And somehow, from those few words - those few hours of doing something that made my life feel like it had a PURPOSE - I wasn't as scared of the decision I had made anymore.

Slowly, but surely, I started to believe in the person I was working one day at a time to become.

So, what do YOU think happened when I took a 'break' from writing after finishing Book Two of The Seven series,"Catalyst"? That light - that same light I had gradually built that was telling me, "keep going, kid - everything's gonna work out," just completely shut off.

And suddenly, the very villain I had created within my book series had leaped from the pages, leeching into my veins. Sinking his voice through my ears whenever I closed my eyes.

...Doubt.

I'm sitting here right now, staring off at a city where I'll perhaps someday belong, wondering to myself: "Why the hell did you let yourself 'give up' for about two months? Why did you let that light burn out?"

And I think I finally know why. I think I know why things don't seem as dark anymore.

. . .

"...I think I know why I found that ember."

"..."

"So I could be that ember."

"..."

"So I could be that ember for you."

 

Lamb Versus Lion

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98 days. That's all that's left, huh? 2017 will soon fade away. And then what? Where will I be then?

...who will I be then?

To be honest, I guess I never thought I would get this far - not that I've achieved half a grain of the promise I made (now, nearly ten years later).

Those final words promising to my mom that I would "BE somebody" right before she passed burn inside my head every night before I fall asleep. Try as I might, I just can't seem to pull that dagger out. And yet, I also look at the facts:

I've written two novels now. 

...And I can't help but believe 'this' - whatever THIS means - is all going somewhere. I can't help but believe my hopes and dreams are like objects in the rear view mirror - closer than they appear.

I just have to siphon the courage to do what my mom always told me to do with my passion for writing: 

"Keep going."

Now, I say 'siphon' because despite my author alias name and in-story character Kyle Lionheart... well, underneath my skin - I'm still Kyle Lambky.

I'm still that kid who's afraid. Who doubts himself. Who doesn't think any of 'this' is still possible. The kid who hung his head down to the ground half his life. The kid who could only communicate properly on a piece of paper.

...You get the idea.

For the last several months I've had this inward struggle within myself. A lion against a lamb, so to speak. Two polar opposites staring back at each other. And so, when I finally finished writing my second novel back in June... I did something that went completely against everything my soul knew.

I stopped writing. And up until very recently, I think part of me had given up. Yes, I was staring at the ground. Again.

"Why do we fall, Kyle...?"

I'm on my feet again. And when I was back in California visiting the memories of my home and friends, I made another promise. Except this time; that promise wasn't to my mom.

That promise was to myself.

I promised myself to stop being afraid. To stop letting Doubt win. To write with a purpose and for a purpose. And to give everything I have until there's nothing left.

And that all starts today. That starts with what I'm writing right now. And, perhaps, with what you're reading right now - we can both wake ourselves up a little bit.

I'm not writing Book Three of The Seven series until 2018. The next 98 days are going to all be about that aforementioned 'purpose'. And that purpose is using the element of writing to help people. To find a way each day to make a difference to somebody out there the only way I can: through writing. Through doing what I love.

"...Maybe the lion doesn't have to slaughter the lamb. Maybe we're meant to co-exist together - two voices as one. Maybe it's taken me being afraid to realize the person I'd like to become. Like everyone else; I don't know how I got here. All I know is... I'm not giving up like that ever again. I'm going to keep moving forward in pursuing my hopes and dreams. And I'm not going to let Doubt win ever again."
-KL

 

Week 14 - Journey to Book Two

Hey everybody,

Since I'm about to go underwater until the 26th, for the sake of my own survival/ inner sanity, I figure I should take a longer breath... and, yeah... less selfishly, I should probably leave a longer note on here too.

Question - What happens when you're so close to something you've been chasing your entire life?

I've been asking myself that a lot these last couple of days inside of my head. Probably because I've been threading together the final pieces of Book Two's story too, so, in a way, it's sort of synonymous.

I technically wrote the final line of Book Two today (in my notebook) and while I won't actually WRITE that line until next Friday... it's all beginning to sort of 'hit me'; so to speak.... And then, as I laid down the schedule for the next 12 days - I finally saw something other than emptiness on the horizon - I saw the fact that besides the obvious editing... I'm done.

Everything from that point won't be up to me anymore. Some of it will, but the part that REALLY matters? The part where people get lucky and, quote unquote, make it? Yeah, that part is finally not going to be in my control anymore...

...and that both excites and scares the hell out of me.

Nearly one year ago, on May 20th 2016, I finished writing my first book. Now, one year later, here I am on the brink of finishing another one.

It was also a little over one year ago where, admittedly, I went through one of the most personally challenging times of my life. I always thought that the second you finished writing a book, there would be something 'liberating' or 'freeing' about it. I think I expected that just because I poured blood, sweat and discipline into something for years and years of my life that it warranted me 'getting' what I 'want'.

...It just doesn't work that way. I'm sorry, but it really doesn't. Cold facts.

It's one thing to have a dream. Then, it's an entirely different thing to go AFTER a dream. And THEN, when you go AFTER a dream and don't GET where you want to be IMMEDIATELY - well, you have to dig deep inside and ask yourself: "What the hell is the piece I'm missing? What's stopping me from getting there?"

After a few of the lowest lows of months I've had that, I can honestly say, trump even the worst days of that cancer still being around... I decided what that piece was that I was missing... the one thing I needed in order to form the catalyst of my professional career... and above all, my dream itself.

The answer was obvious... one hand was full, yet the other, was not. I knew that to be taken seriously by any publishing agency, I needed to have TWO BOOKS completed... not just one. Especially, to prove that I know where I am going with this series.

Hey, enter the last few months of my life...

I've been isolated all on my own, for the most part. I chose to move from California to Colorado in order to help my family by being closer to them. And yet, also sacrifice something in the process... something that I know is all still there. It's just difficult, especially given the challenge of what this month holds to me, to always see.

My life. My friends. Everything I built... well, it's all back in California. It's not GOING anywhere... it's all still there - the support. The love. The silent cheering of my 'family' reinforcing that I'm doing exactly what I need to do for the future right now.

...but, being away from all that? I'm human. I know I lost my mom over nine years ago. You don't think it still hurts, though? You don't think sitting through Mother's Day yesterday by myself when I could have normally driven over to a friend's house was easy? No, it absolutely sucked. And do you think that the anniversary of the day everything changed being only 12 days later will make it any easier?

Of course, not. I don't need it to, though.

I've thrown everything I have into writing this second book. So, I may as well go through everything while finishing it too. I knew when I made this lofty goal for myself - when I discovered that THIS was the piece I needed to have - that doing this would probably knock the freaking wind out of me a few times.

...I guess I didn't expect it would push me this far... but, maybe, just maybe - that's going to ultimately push my writing to a whole new level too.

I'll play parrot's advocate and say it again - I'm human. And yet, everybody sees me smiling or chanting out positive words. I'm not stupid... I've seen the other side of the coin. I'm not blind to what life can be. How many things that are unfair that happen every single god damn day - I'm not blind to that.

But, I can't think about that stuff. I can't think about, "what if I fail?" or "what if the last two years of your life have been all for nothing?"

If I stopped and thought about that stuff, I wouldn't have made it this far. And I'm not letting things I can't control stop me in a moment where there ARE things I can control.

These next few days... everything I write, I just want it to be my best. I want to end this book in the best possible way because the next part of my journey...? That's going to be something I'm going to need a lot of things to go my way for. So, to counter/prepare for that, I'm giving everything I've got in the window I have at the here and now.

I just want everything I've sacrificed having in my life to chase after a dream not to fall short. That's a real fear. That's a real, 'holy crap is he writing this' fear. But, I've got to embrace it. I've got to embrace what I'm scared of and just go all the way under.

See you when I take the next breath,

~Kyle

 

 

 

Week 13 - Journey To Book Two

Hey there,

So, admittedly, reality sort of sunk in this week. And no, it wasn't the fact that I'm now officially working on the LAST act of the book... but, rather, that I looked ahead at what I have left.

...The timing is crazy. I divided up the remaining chapters and it just so happens that the day I will finish/be done with writing happens to be Friday, May 26th - the anniversary of the same day my mom passed away.

I don't know how to exactly feel about that, speaking honestly. I think it's liberating in a sense that such a huge weight and burden for my future will be exorcised on a day that will always mean a lot to me. Hey, that's cool. And certainly something I didn't plan that way, but I'm glad it happens to fall underneath a day like that. I cannot deny that's special and, perhaps, bigger than me in a sense.

And yet, on the other side of the coin, I don't know sometimes. I mean, I'm here 9 years later, and this month still manages to kick the shit out of me. Mother's Day is the first hurdle. And then, just a few days later, that. I hate sympathy. I hate pity. And believe me, I'm not writing this because I'm sad... I'm not.

I haven't been in a long time.

I guess, more than anything, I just wish I had my mom by my side for times like this. It's selfish. It's stupid. But, it's human, I think. I want her to read what I wrote and chime in with a British accent, "Oh Kyle, this is WONDERFUL. You're going to be such a bloody good writer." I want to throw back some sarcastic comment or wit and have it be challenged back. I want to have that aura of support around me when I need it most.

Look, I know I have it. I feel it. I see it - in my own eyes, at least - and that's enough for me. But, on early mornings like this... I just wish things could have been different. I wish cancer didn't win. I wish I had more time to make more memories. And I guess that's honestly the concrete reason WHY I'm always wearing my heart on my sleeve every day. I know damn well that tomorrow isn't a promise...... so, I give everything I have to people at the here and now. Once again (see the pattern), it's stupid. It's exhausting. Yet, that's who I am. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

The same goes for writing. I'm going to keep that in mind especially over the course of these next three long weeks. If I can just find the resilience right now to hit the reset button every morning and come back with everything I exerted the day before on the page... then, I know I can do this. The problem is that a bright light tends to burn out fast, so I'm often afraid that I'm going to wake up one morning and it just won't turn on anymore.

I'm overthinking this. I need coffee. I'm back in attack-mode tomorrow. Assassin mentality, blah blah blah. Let's just go.

-KL