Just a few thoughts…

33.black: A Solid Bet

1266557_10201271559603324_1425128185_oAny wild mind can think back on its own far-fetched business idea; you’re sitting around chatting with your friends over a drink, or maybe you’re taking a long road trip by yourself. The wheels start spinning and before you know it, you have a company name, slogan, and the date of resignation for your “real job”. For many of us, these ideas simply stay just that-a logo doodled on a beverage napkin. Maybe we keep the napkin, maybe we don’t.

I can think of three guys who kept the bev nap, ran with it, and are launching their company on October 11th, roughly 3 years after the once-thought-crazy-idea. 33.black is far more than just clothing, and if you keep reading, you’ll be so excited to buy a ticket for the launch party that you may not even read this whole article (but I hope you do). Not only that, you’ll get to know the men behind the operation, and maybe even get your own engine running.

What started as a tiny printing operation in a garage has erupted. Knowing it would take time and money to get their company off the ground, Geno Pescio, Matt Cummings, and Nicolai Caviglia were mostly printing logos for other businesses and events. Within a few years, they’ve built an online store, website, Facebook fan page, and are throwing an epic upcoming launch party.

“There is something really special about this company,” says Matt Cummings, co-founder of 33.black. “I have felt it since the day I heard the name. I was living in L.A. when Nicolai and Geno called me and said “33.black”. My heart raced, and the second I got home that day I went straight work with a pencil and paper trying to design that name into something.”

When I asked Geno about how they decided on the name, he smiled and said, “Whenever we play roulette, we put it on 33 Black…it’s what we’ve always done.”

It makes sense for the founders of 33.black to connect with a brand near to their roots. Geno, Matt, and Nicolai were all born and raised in Nevada and live in Reno. “Reno is the best place on earth,” says Pescio, who moved from Vegas and attended UNR. “You’re a stone-throw away from Tahoe, Napa, and anything you want to do.”

Cummings, originally from McGill says, “It has a small town feel, like home, and we have the desert, lake, and mountains all within 20 minutes.”

Don’t get the impression and these guys are quietly kayaking in Tahoe or taking a scenic drive to taste wine every weekend. No. It’s not that they don’t enjoy doing these things, it’s that they prefer to live a little louder. You see, 33.black is a lifestyle, which is a unique statement that sets this brand apart from others. “We’re in a huge market, and we try to partner with other small businesses rather than competing,” explains Pescio. “It’s working together with people rather than sponsoring people. We aim for versatility.”

33.black is far more than just apparel; it’s about community involvement. You might spot 33.black on a beefed up sand or race truck, especially because they recently teamed up with Samco Fabrication to form an off-road race team. Or maybe you’ll see 33.black running through the streets during a 200 mile race like the Reno-Tahoe Odyssey. But it doesn’t stop there. These guys strive for win-win business opportunities helping local non-profit efforts, such as the Holland Project, along with art, music, and performers of all ages.

An approach such as this can only be traced back to strong work ethic, flexibility, and a willingness to grow as a business owner. “It has really opened my eyes to a new way of thinking,” Cummings describes.  “I’ve actually gotten comfortable being uncomfortable. I enjoy it because it gives me something to strive for and to gain a new confidence in. For example, I have always been nervous approaching people and striking up a conversation. Now I love it! I love that with the people and all the networking we do, 33.black is expanding and opening up doors for growth.”

Expanding is a subtlety; never did these three Nevada boys imagine that in October of 2013 they would be hosting a launch party with bands such as Royal Bliss, Livitz Livitz, and John Gray at the Knitting Factory in Reno (buy your ticket). To see what has developed from a scribbled name on a piece of paper leaves Geno, Matt, and Nicolai at awe. “For us this is such a profound statement we are making. There is so much heart and passion behind 33.black. This is our life, we live and breathe this…INCREDIBLE to say the least!”

John Gray, also from McGill, Nevada, is a noteworthy supporter of 33.black as a singer/songwriter in Nashville. He says:

“Why do I wear 33.black? You mean besides the fact that they have some of the sickest looking gear that I’ve seen come out in a while? And how about the fact that I just so happen to grow up practically next door to these dudes… Well, for me it’s more than just that, it’s the meaning behind the clothing, and what they stand for. It’s a metaphor of standing at the roulette table, putting it all on 33 Black and letting it ride, the thrill, the rush, the chance to win it all just because you BELIEVE. 33.black isn’t just a clothing line, it’s a principle. Follow everything you believe with all your heart.  Go big or Go HOME!”

This brand is so versatile and unique; it’s bigger than a brand. It’s cooler than a logo slapped on some gear. It’s three kickass guys who felt it in their bones that they could transform this idea into a reality. It’s a badass crusade. Sports. Music. Dirt. Field. Road. Bikes. Trucks. Passion. Community. Music. Hardwork. Play. Dedication. Fun. Risk. Reward. 33.black.








Fear can be crippling; Don’t let fear come between the physical you and the you that God foresaw when he created you. Don’t let fear of others, fear of failure, or fear of the unknown stop you from using your gift. You have it for a reason! When you start to feel insecure, think about what’s really going on. Are you thinking about who, what, how you’re going to be perceived in the eyes of another? If so, you’re fearing the wrong person. We have no reason to fear others unless we ultimately want favor in their eyes. Your effort here is irreplaceable. Your talent is unique. Start using it!

Note From the Author

I started blogging about a year ago, not really sure exactly the direction I was going with it. I was having a lot of those “ah-ha” moments, and I felt they needed to be shared. Maybe to see it on paper, maybe to inspire others…maybe just to say I have a blog. Either way, I love blogging! I love everything about it.

I have to come clean, though, and say I’ve been struggling for the past few months with writing new posts. It’s not that I haven’t had ideas to write about; it’s not that at all. I felt like my blog needed a new face. It needed a new look.  I may have accidentally pigeon holed my blog into a self-help-only type of read.

Not a big deal. I was writing what I felt to be true at the time. This isn’t bad, except for two things: 1) I want to write about other stuff, like mascara. 2) I don’t want to be identified by a self-help blog. This raises the question then…Why?

I’ve written previously about my dad passing away in 2009. After he passed, I naturally felt like I needed to be strong. I took off a week from school and work, and was back to business as usual. What would proceed over the next four years was something of a train wreck. Not realizing it at the time, but the biggest part of me had just exited the earth. The largest part of my identity had moved on. Issues. I had some issues. Not only that, the rest of my identity was wrapped up in things that were all temporary…and earthly.

Sometimes I ask myself if I’ll always be referring back to 2009….when my dad died….and my life changed…to that a sad story. Are my friends sick and tired of hearing about this sob dramatic event because I can’t seem to pin point why my life just doesn’t seem right? I don’t feel like myself? Like the person I see in my head? Here’s the thing-when I finally stopped talking, thinking, doing, running, panting, I listened. You know what I heard? God. This episode, this point in time was also a turning point, a climax, a change in direction, and a wake up call. Things don’t happen by accident! The earth, the people, our lives, our jobs are part of a design. Think about it.  No really, think about your life.

The biggest change in me, the writer of this previously known self-help blog, is that I don’t rely on myself anymore for help. Umm, ya I tried that for the past 4 ish years and I failed, miserably. You’d think after the whole restaurant scene (See Blog, “The Shack Place”) I would’ve realized that some stuff is just too big to handle. It. Is. Ok. We’re not intended to handle everything, and we’re not intended to stay the same. I didn’t take into consideration when I started blogging that I would grow as time went on, and I guess my writing would, too.

Those situations in life that make us look back and say, “How did we make it through that? How did we survive that? How crazy was that?” are not random events that randomly happen to random people. This world does seem crazy and out of control; we create that. There is order, there is sturdiness, and there is steadfastness. I found it…well, he found me. I’m telling you, it’s awesome.  So this is basically a note to let you know that I’ll be talking about a lot more stuff like food, and to let you know that God is great….all the time.




Childish Surrender


Hopefully I’m not alone when I say that I like to stay busy. I consider myself a detail-oriented person; I ask a lot of questions, I think about the ins & outs of events, and I (usually) do a lot of planning. Some would say that paying attention to detail is great because details are important, right?

Well, sometimes it takes away from the big picture. I’m not a big picture person because I’m wrapped up in the small stuff. When the big picture people start talking about big picture stuff, I’m say,”Wait, how’s that going to happen?” “Who is going to get us there to do that?” So I end up doing, doing, doing, and exhaust myself. I feel like I always have to be doing, never just let things happen, and be.

As a result, I’m always focused on the WHAT and never the WHY. This is ironic because when we’re young, we go through the “why” stage, asking “whhhhyyyy” about everything! What if we went back to our childlike mindset? Asking why things happen, having faith in things we don’t see, and believing answers we don’t really understand…?

Go back to being 5 years old. You were explorative, inquisitive, curious, but also faithful and trusting. You asked a lot of questions and believed the answers you were given. Is it possible to have that childlike spirit as an adult? In other words, is it possible to give up the control you insist on having all the time?

It’s hard being an adult! Life is heavy, and sometimes we just can’t carry it all on our own. We have responsibility and jobs and bills and relationships and consequences and meals and diets and STRESS. Yuk. Part of the reason we resist it is because we make the doing more important than being. It’s a cultural and human tendency to lose sight of the bigger picture.  We forget that we have the option to surrender. As a result, we lose faith.

Don’t lose faith. Everything happens for a reason, and all of us have a predestined plan that is already in place.  If we let things take course, sit back, relax, and believe that everything will be OK, imagine the peace we would feel.

I’ll be the first to admit that I can’t wrap my mind around this idea and relinquish control. Especially when ugly things happen, we go into fight mode and feel like the universal demons are out to get us. Well, good trumps evil. I love taking matters into my own hands and being the boss. Time and time again, I learn that it doesn’t make it any easier! I end up hurting myself more by ignoring God’s plan for me. It’s not easy, but keep your eye on the prize. Just BE. Have FAITHNo one said it would be easy…

Extra Weight

A few weeks ago I met up with one of my longtime friends for a “gym date.” We usually meet to run or have lunch, so catching up and simultaneously lifting weights is nearly impossible. Catching up won, and we finally realized that we can’t meet at the gym if we never see each other! We got on the subject of eating/working out, the ups and downs we’ve both experienced in our self-image, and how we currently feel. Even at 30-ish years old (combined-obviously), the both of us can still chat for hours on the subject.

Most of us spend the majority of life working at a job and working at relationships. Each day we meet new people, maintain relationships that are already established, and connect with acquaintances. It’s not easy to keep up with all of them, in fact, some relationships end up falling short of quality attention. One relationship that commonly gets the short end of the stick is the one we have with ourselves.The friendship we foster with ourselves is just as important as any other. In fact, it may be the mostimportant. Here’s why: The tone we develop in our own heads may be the blueprint for the rest of our relationships. If we start allowing abuse, negativity, hatred, and criticism early on, how will we treat others? More so, how will we allow others to treat us?

I was extremely lucky to grow up where I did; in that small town, the future was as bright as the 1,ooo,ooo,ooo stars in the clear sky. We had great education, emphasized work ethic, and huge expectations for what was to come in life. Personally, I think I was so busy doing, doing, doing that I never stopped to think about much else. Somewhere along the line, I developed unattainable expectations for myself and it started to wear on me. If I wasn’t the best at everything, something was wrong with me. I took motivation to a whole new level, and never even realized what it was doing to my self pep-talks.

Overtime, all this does is chip away at our organicism, uniqueness, confidence, wholeness, and sturdiness as an individual. It’s almost as though we have this friendship/relationship with someone who constantly tears at us, and negatively influences the way we feel about ourselves, but we can’t end it! If we stick around long enough, we develop a sense of distorted comfort. Once we invest a certain amount of time in relationships, it’s almost worth it to stay…so we tell ourselves. It’s a good ol’ ball & chain.

Instead of being our own best friend, we’re our worst enemy. Who would’ve thought that your worst enemy is the closest person to you?  We believe things that aren’t true! We made them up in our heads, and they’re preventing us from living the life we saw when we were children. It’s simply a habit; believing negative thoughts about yourself, your ability, and your skill is reversible. We can replace a bad habit with a new habit through a conscious effort to flip every single negative self-comment.

Think about it…would you be friends with someone who didn’t build you up? Who made you doubt yourself and question your beauty, intellect, humor, wisdom, talent, and ability? Would you let your friends be friends with someone like that? Absolutely NOT! If you find yourself hearing a little voice in the back of your head bringing you down, allowing negativity, telling you to blend in instead of stand out, convincing you that you can’t be amazing-Break up with it. Shut it down. Don’t believe it! Replace it with a positive affirmation because THAT is the truth, and your true friend talking.


A Full Plate


I love talking; shocking, I know. I also love to listen. One of my favorite things in life is to find myself hours later deep in conversation. It could be about anything, really, but my top favorites are personal growth, relationships, and food. I LOVE food. Those conversations, especially when you’re hungry, where you just sit and talk about how delicious food is? It makes me hungry just thinking about it. One day I’ll write about the decadency of cake….

We’re not going to talk about food today, even though we’re talking about having a full plate. By “full plate” I mean the idiom “my plate is full, I can’t take anything else on.” We naturally use this term for declining invitations because we are too busy. I would like you to think about it in a mental/emotional sense while reading this. Put your life on a plate, and see how it fractions out. Is your plate full of your food or others’?

My friend’s husband and I were talking awhile back, and he made a great point that stuck with me. We were talking about this crazy life, and he referred to having his wife, two kids, and not much room for anything else. Obviously he has relationships with friends, co-workers, and roles aside from being a husband/father. But what he chooses to nurture ultimately rests in his family and self.

I think that growing up is more than just getting older; it’s making a life of your own. It’s putting things on your plate that fill you, and require attention. There’s a difference between worrying about others, showing concern, and just talking about their lives…gossip; we all do it! When we spend too much time talking, we might not be proactively helping them, and we might also be ignoring our own helping on our plate.

You’ve reached the (young) age where your plate takes precedence, and if there’s room, fill it with YOU-grow, learn, reflect, dream, and inspire. We tend to get bored and settle on the topic of other people’s lives, which isn’t a crime, but isn’t character building for ourselves either. Also, we might let it take up some mental-rental space for free, which leaves room for comparisons, judgements, and then overdue necessary eviction notices!

Oh ya, always make room on your plate for cake.

Finding Your (My) Purpose: To Be Continued

No posts since October! Where does the time go? I think we can all agree that the holiday season gets downright ridiculously busy. November & December are basically gone before they even start. You’ll be happy to know, though, that I haven’t been ignoring my blog; I’ve just been very deep in thought about this post. Well, in between traveling, weddings, holidays, the flu (twice, I think), and a New Year.

I’ve been trying to figure out the most effective way to discuss “purpose” and I’ve written and re-written several times before finally realizing that maybe that’s the whole idea…to just throw some ideas around. I watched a video on http://www.positivelypositive.com a few months ago, and it resonated with me, so much that I haven’t been able to let it go. SO MUCH, that I haven’t really been able to write. I’ve been in my own head about what my purpose is to the point that no other topic has floated to the top of the blog pile.

The video by Brian Johnson discussed purpose in that it’s being the highest version of yourself possible. I literally stopped in my tracks and asked myself, “Are you being the best YOU that you’re capable of being?” The answer is no, which is why it’s January 22nd and I’m finally writing about it.

Needless to say, this topic had me wound up for a few months. After breathing into a brown paper bag to re-stabilize my breathing, I forgave myself for thinking I was perfect. What now after realizing this? Well, first I have to acknowledge the topic.  I got a little ahead of myself and forgot that the journey is what it’s all about; discovering our purpose is the whole idea. If we were born as the highest version of ourselves, then what? No falling down and getting back up? No drunken night stories to recite? I don’t know, but I have a feeling it’s all set up like this for a reason.

Spending time thinking about purpose has made me responsible for the areas of my life where I find excuses instead of rising to the occasion to be a higher version of myself. If we wait for the perfect time to better ourselves in our career, relationships, spirituality, or whatever, we may wake up one day and wonder where 40 years have gone…and we still feel like we haven’t shown the world who we really are. This includes making changes where necessary! You choose your path. You choose your time spent best.

There is only one you. You come with a very specific lineup of skills, personality, character, detail, description, and much much more. Sometimes those traits are suppressed for fear of judgement, or they may never even be tapped into. Are you capitalizing on the characteristics that make you the best you? If you’re waiting for the perfect day, that day is today. Today, be the highest YOU that you can imagine. Breathe. Believe me, it’s going to be great.


Value: Revisited

Fall is my favorite time of year. Not only because of chilly mornings, warm afternoons, wood-burning stove, soup, and the changing of colors (just to name a few), but also because it’s a cue to the closing of another year. OK, and it’s also a sign that my birthday is fast approaching. Another year in the books.

One of the best things about growing up, well, getting older, is that we get to start making our own decisions. I realized in college that I had been ordering my eggs and steak the same way my parents had. Can you imagine, after 20-odd years that I finally recognized I hate eggs over-medium? It was unreal. And just for the record, I now like peas, brussel sprouts, and burnt popcorn. I can blame the late pea discovery on my dad and sister, and I’m sure there are very few kids who request a brussel sprout trial. Either way, these are just a few sound decisions I have made in my older years.

On a more serious note, we get to decide how we find and create ourselves. How does this even happen? I think it happens largely in how we spend our time and with who. Sometimes as children, we were forced to be around other kids that we didn’t really like. Maybe those kids were mean to us or to others, or maybe they caused us to get into trouble. Well, we’re still on a playground, except now it’s the whole world within the fence line.

Under no circumstance are you forced to keep people around that don’t help you be the best version of yourself that you can be. Are you surrounding yourself with people that leave you depleted and exhausted? If the answer is yes, then it might be time to ask for the check. These friendships/relationships are important, however, because they make us realize (hopefully) what is happening to our own self-value. Once we value ourselves, we choose others to be in our lives that increase the value and get rid of those who lessen it.

Everyone who walks into our lives has a purpose, but it’s up to us if they unpack their bag or simply pass through. If you’ve invited someone to unpack but you realize they’ve overstayed their welcome, it’s never too late to change your mind. Every decision at this point is in your possession. First, decide to place the highest value on yourself and what you have to offer the world. You’re a gem, and what you say, feel, think, do, and represent is a privilege for those around you. Choose wisely, for those who you spend the most time with are a reflection; they should feel honored.

The Shack Place

I’m not really sure how to lead into this…I’m kind of stumped for clever intros. I’ve been stirring over this one for about 3 years now, but what I realized is that something had to happen to push me to finally blog about it. Just like they say, everything comes around full circle somehow? Well, here’s the story.

On February 2nd, 2009, I was sitting at lunch with my dad and his best lady friend when he suddenly stopped breathing. Just like that-blue in the face. It still kind of boggles my mind about the whole scenario, but by now we should all know that life is seriously nuts. As a 26 year-old grad student who thought her dad hung the moon, I gave him mouth-to-mouth without even really thinking about what I was actually doing. As fate would have it, that would be the last day that I saw my dad alive.

The next little while is somewhat of a blur…family, crying, disbelief. The reason that I’m talking about this, though, is not to tell the story of how my dad died; I remember sitting in my room with my cousin that night feeling very uneasy for my dad. I mean, was he scared? Did he know? Was there a dream the night before? Think of someone in your life that you talk about everything with. Nothing is off limits. That was me and my dad. So I wanted some answers.

I felt somewhat robbed. Afterall, he was my person, my friend, my dad, my rock. How could he just be taken from me like that, you know? I was battling some topics with myself that I had never even considered. People in my life had died before him, but no one that close to me. I was about to start a journey that at the time I didn’t even recognize.

My parents raised us Catholic so we would have a “backbone” in case we ever got lost and needed to come back to base (what?). I did as most other kids in my small town, and went through the motions of catechism, confirmation,  and church when we could make it. I appreciate the background, don’t get me wrong, but I was clueless for what I would embark on as an adult. So time went on after my dad died, and I didn’t really act on all my curiosity that I expressed that night with my cousin. My auntie was very helpful and generous, offering me books to read and emails. But nothing was sinking in yet. It wasn’t until a good friend from back home suggested I read “The Shack” that things started to change for me. I won’t give away what happens in the book, but I’ll tell you how it rocked my world.

As I said, I felt very possessive of my dad. I never blamed God for anything…but I didn’t know God either. Reading “The Shack” helped me realize that just because Ron Carrion was my dad here on earth doesn’t change the fact that both of us are God’s children, and we are on separate spiritual journeys. I can’t interfere, control, change, understand, comprehend anyone else’s journey with God…even his. I learned to let go a little bit, and trust in something bigger than I could ever imagine. It has to be! Look at what he gave me for a dad.

A dear friend recently committed suicide, Anthony Lostra. When I found out, I felt myself return back to that place, that place in my heart, with my cousin in my room. That place of fear, unknown, and inquisition. Only this time I had something to reference. I don’t think it ever gets easier, dealing with loss. I have dreams where I am on the phone with my dad in heaven. Like I just call him up and he answers. Crazy right?! But like I said before, relationships never end, they just change. I have to trust God and Anthony that they knew each other, and what was going on. He is on his own journey that maybe I’m not meant to understand, or anyone.

Maybe you don’t believe in God, which is totally OK. I’m not pushing my belief or religion here. All I’m sayin is some pretty big events had to happen in my life to make me take spiritual inventory. No matter how painful they have been, I am grateful that they happened. What I thought was a “backbone” was really just a wishbone, so I had to make some serious tweaks. For me, I find comfort in knowing that I can’t control anyone else’s path, especially someone as wild as Ron Carrion. I also find comfort in knowing that we will see each other again…Anthony and my dad, just to name a few.

Precious Cargo

I consider myself extremely lucky, and I probably don’t thank God enough for what and who he has blessed me with. There’s not very many people in the world who can count on both hands the people that would drop anything if needed, and I am one of those lucky ones. More importantly, the people closest to me are continuously teaching me something, and we are learning together. A topic that comes up quite often is that of physical appearance: weight, fitness, beauty, etc. The normalcy of this topic in everyday conversation is not what dawned on me, but the misplace of value at hand. The value is in the wrong spot.

My sister and I were recently in a daily chat, and “the scale” came up. It comes up quite often. She, among millions of other humans in the world, is a Scale Stepper. She gets on that thing everyday (errday). The problem is not that she is watching her weight, which is actually a very mindful activity for staying healthy. The problem is that one little number on the screen can determine her mood for whole day. Let’s explore this possible catastrophe.

Whether is conditioning, habit, media, society, or just control, there is an extremely high level of value placed on the number that people see on the scale. Obviously we face an obesity epidemic, which is not to be confused with this conversation. But even so, for those that are struggling with weight, it does not reflect the person that you are.  I’m talking about the value we place on tangible, material, superficial and unimportant facts that we let define us as people.

Unfortunately, most people do not value themselves. What’s even more unfortunate is how we usually are dishing out amazing advice to others about loving, befriending, and caring for themselves when we need to take the advice ourselves. If we valued ourselves as much as we value our most important people, then we wouldn’t fall into these viscous cycles of self-torment, self-loathing, and misplaced value, which just leads us into negative behavior.

Make it a priority to find value in who you are, not what you are. The type of friend you are, the special and unique talents that you have, the partner, parent, employee, and citizen all trump what you’re wearing and/or what you look like. Here’s a challenge: be nice to yourself! Don’t say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t say to your best friend or sibling. Don’t allow yourself to beat your own self up over something that has nothing to do with how God made you. If you’re not happy with something, then allow yourself time to change it. Place value on yourself. 

How do you value yourself? How do you value the person that you are? More so, what do you focus on to define you? Think about it or write some things down that you value in life and in yourself. Don’t let shallow, empty valued variables steer your actions and self-worth. You’re more than that. You’re precious cargo.

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