Sober hangover

I got back from my NYC weekend late last night.

My first session today is at 7am—in 30 minutes.

I feel truly hungover from lack of sleep.

So much to tell the readers. But not today.

Tomorrow…

Work music

I love working to lo-fi, classical music, and videogame scores.

If you enjoy the same while doing deep work—writing, designing, editing—here’s a playlist I made for such occasions.

It takes a lifetime

I used to shame myself for not sticking to a habit.

I saw it as “slipping up” or “breaking.”

Then I had James Clear clear (get it?) this up for me:

People say a bunch of different things about the timeline of habits.

They say things like, “It takes 21 days to build a habit,” or, “It takes an average of 66 days.”

But none of that is true.

The question behind that question is: “How long do I have to work until the action becomes automatic?”

And here’s the unfortunate truth: It takes a lifetime to build a habit.

We’re constantly breaking good habits and dabbling in bad ones. The work never stops.

It’s not about never breaking. It’s about how quickly we can get back to work and keep moving in the direction we want.

Another trip to Brooklyn

A man standing on the Brooklyn Bridge looking over Manhattan

I’m moving to NYC in October 2022.

That decision came from a fairly nutty weekend spent there in September. I visited my coaching buddy and met him for the first time in real life.

We got very little sleep in those three days.

In a few hours, I’m heading up north for another round.

Here’s my plan before I move house:

1) Every two months or so, I’ll go up and stay with my friend for a weekend.

I want as much exposure as I can before moving my life there. It’s a three-and-a-half-hour trek, which is roughly two solid phone calls with friends.

The point here is to eat the food, meet some peeps, and desensitize myself from the fast-paced culture. Shockingly, things move a lot slower in the suburbs of Maryland than they do in New York City.

Finally, the main goal is to spend time around neighborhoods I might want to move to. So far, I’m thinking Williamsburg—which I hear is the yuppy and trendy area of Brooklyn. I’ve never tried elitism, but I’m down for anything.

This move is very much a business investment. I want to be surrounded by young folks who are pursuing fun and interesting lives and who have money to pay for someone like me to help them do just that.

I told that to my two friends in Brooklyn and they both said, “Yeah, you want Williamsburg. You’ll have to yup it up.”

2) In the spring, I’ll get an AirBnB for a week or two in the neighborhood I’m thinking.

I’ll take a few days off, but this won’t be a vacation. It’ll be a beta test.

I’ll have normal workdays. I’ll get a trial gym membership. I’ll go grocery shopping.

For two weeks, it’ll be as though I truly live there.

3) Prep for the move.

This means getting my finances ready to pay $2500 a month for rent and utilities. As well as moving with as few physical items to my name as humanly possible.

I’m basically a minimalist. But when I moved last year, I realized I still owned a shit-ton of stuff. I can’t imagine what non-minimalists (muggles?) go through when they move.

For budgeting, I’ve been using this stupid simple sheet from Female in Finance. A friend turned me on to her and it has helped tremendously.

As for the move, I plan on selling or donating 80% of my stuff so I don’t have to transport it. Books, furniture, my soul.

I’m excited, to say the least. And nervous.

Which is why this is the right choice. If I’m not doing things that scare me, I’m not growing…I’m not leveling up.

This weekend will be much more productive than the last.

So the journey begins.

First time at chess club

Last night.

I found out there’s a chess club in my city. They meet every Tuesday night in the Whole Foods cafe.

I showed up with my chess set and clock to a bunch of old men sitting and playing casual games.

For some reason, I was nervous on my way.

Not that I would get my ass beat (in chess). Something about hopping into a new community of people.

I guess at 27, I’m still giddy about making new friends.

They were some of the kindest people I’ve ever met. The youngest guy (he was in his forties) welcomed me to his board for my first game.

I played two gentlemen, two games each. I absolutely destroyed them.

We played for two hours until the grocery store closed. I told them about my first tournament coming up this month and they were super supportive…as if we’ve been teammates for years.

Needless to say, the nerves were gone.

Things are never as bad as the possibilities our minds make up.

I’ll see them next Tuesday.

The very simple truth about Black Friday

A clock with Black Friday signs around it

It took me about 25 years to realize this.

If we ever buy anything simply because it’s on sale, we did not save any money.

Example:

I don’t need a new desk lamp. Mine works just fine and I never think about replacing it.

If I see a sale online where a super fancy $300 desk lamp is now $100, that’s an incredible deal.

But I was never going to purchase that on any other day. My plan was to spend $0 on it because I had no demand for it.

If I bought it, I didn’t save $200. I spent $100.

The only way we save money from a sale is if no matter what, we were going to buy it anyway.

A weird key to success

A man wearing a snorkel and flippers in the middle of a crosswalk

It’s strange to claim that I’m successful. But I certainly feel like I am.

As we’ve heard many times before, the word “success” means something different to everybody. It’ll mean something different to me even three months from now.

But for now, I can pay my monthly expenses comfortably, I have an amazing tribe of people in my life, and I use my time exactly how I want. Success.

I’ve read tons of self-improvement books and watched just about every motivational video on YouTube. There are loads of tips and strategies successful people teach us.

Having a routine, practicing mindfulness, failing often.

But I’d like to reword that last one.

Whether we’re developing our careers, our passions, or our relationships, I’ve discovered this truth:

In order to be successful we must be willing to look like a fool.

A healthy business comes from the willingness to put ourselves out there. I’ve messaged people asking to connect and they’ve ghosted me with a wide birth—probably thinking I’m selling something or working for a pyramid scheme. (Four people this year have straight up asked me, “Is this an MLM?”)

No, this is Patrick.

Early in my coaching career, I was terrified to reach out to others. My fear was that everyone would see me as a salesman when I just wanted to talk or reconnect.

Would I invite them to a session? Yes, maybe. But if they declined I didn’t care at all. I just love talking to people.

These fears were beaten out of me as I continued to reach out to people every single week. Now when someone doesn’t respond or ghosts me, I couldn’t care less. Who’s next?

As far as my passion for chess…

I started playing consistently during lockdown last year. One of my best friends said we should play.

It was something we could do online together. And we’re both competitive so I had the drive to improve. My sole purpose for several months was just to beat him. He was better than I was and each time he beat me it stung.

But I kept coming back for more. I started studying and practicing each day. Here’s my rating over the past 12 months.

Dillan Taylor's chess rating

Notice the dips and plateaus. Those periods were not fun. They were discouraging.

But like the stock market, if we zoom out and look at the big picture, the long term, we can see that I’ve only gotten better as I’ve stuck with it.

Chess, like many things, goes like this:

Step 1: “I’m getting pretty good! I feel like I could beat anyone….”
Step 2: “I’m not sure I even know the rules. I suck. Maybe I should switch to checkers.”

And the cycle repeats. At every level.

The point is, when I’m not feeling on top of the world, I play with less confidence. But I play nonetheless. I may get destroyed and that always hurts…but if I just keep at it, the graph will continue to go up.

And finally, relationships.

A turning point in the health of my friendships came when I decided to be completely candid with my thoughts and feelings. In other words, I became good at having difficult conversations.

Speaking my mind. Setting boundaries. Being vulnerable.

I’m lucky to have a phenomenal group of friends, and it has been through my willingness to be open that these relationships have grown even stronger.

TL; DR

It can be quite scary, but if we are willing to risk foolishness, we’ll get good at just about anything.

It’s not a “gift”

A mom and dad giving their daughter presents for Christmas

During Thanksgiving lunch this week, one of my family members complimented me when asking about my business.

The past three months have been quite good for me. After a little over a year, my coaching business is established, profitable, and sustainable.

After hinting at all that, someone said, “I’m not surprised. You’re a natural.”

It was an incredibly kind gesture, but I thought to myself, What the hell are you talking about?

With anything I’ve ever gotten good at, the only thing “natural” has been my level of interest in it. That’s the one thing that feels totally out of my control.

I wasn’t interested in school, so I skipped and failed classes until they kicked me out. I wasn’t interested in my full-time sales job last year, so I quit and started my own thing.

But when I’m into something, it gets all of my time, love, and attention.

Before, it was acting. Now, it’s coaching and chess. In the future, it’ll be something else.

Anyway, I know this sounds ungrateful, but when someone labels skill as a “natural” thing, I feel like it discounts all the difficult hours that went into developing it.

I’m not a natural business owner.

In the last year…I’ve had three-week runs of pure terror, worried that I can’t make this work. I’ve spent hours on LinkedIn and Indeed looking at more secure full-time gigs. In June, I was at lunch with my mom physically shaking from anxiety that I wouldn’t be able to make my next rent payment.

Thankfully, I’m not in that place anymore. But none of this was natural.

It came from consistent practice. $12,000 in coaching programs. Hundreds of hours honing the craft of coaching. Countless awkward and uncomfortable conversations. Over a thousand rejections. Doubt. Fear. Stress.

But to be fair, it’s hard to see these things.

It’s like Instagram. We see the finished product but not what led to it.

We see the success but not the hours behind it.

Obviously, I didn’t say any of this to my aunt. I’m not that much of a douche.

I smiled and said thank you. And now I’m back to work, putting in more hours so next year I can look like a prodigy.

Let the dog cry

A Golden Retriever looking up and smiling

I’m dog-sitting for my friends.

Each morning, after breakfast and our long walk, he cries.

Every minute of whimpering feels like an hour. My internal alarms go off and I anxiously go through my checklist. Are you hungry? Do you have to poop? Do you want to play?

So I do all these things. Still crying.

When I texted my friend to ask what they do, they calmly replied: “I don’t know, ignore it? He’s a big, furry baby, Dillan.”

So after making sure he’s good to go, I just go about my morning.

Eventually, he stops.

This made me think of our minds.

For seemingly no reason at all, our brains are in panic mode telling us something is wrong. We jump to solutions and distractions. Fix fix fix.

Only to prolong the alarms.

The practice of mindfulness doesn’t aim to stop negative thoughts. The goal is to simply be able to recognize negative thoughts as they inevitably appear.

So, “I’m never going to be financially stable” becomes “I’m having a stressful thought about not being able to pay my bills. I feel it in my chest and throat.”

This rarely makes the experience more fun, but it does look at it from an objective space.

I used to connect being tired with my life being shitty.

One night of bad sleep and I would spend my day thinking, I feel like garbage I have no motivation I am garbage the world sucks I suck.

Then one morning during a meditation, I was asked to focus on the physical sensations of being exhausted. I felt my heavy eyes and throbbing forehead. I watched the sentences and images of thoughts float by.

It was as if the clouds had parted.

“I suck” became “Oh, I’m just tired.”

Nothing’s wrong.

We can just let the dog cry for a bit and see what happens. Eventually, he’ll lay down and rest.

Turkey Day

It’s 4:56am.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I’m thankful for you, reader. If you’ve ever spent ten seconds reading (or hating) my stuff…

Thank you.

Please enjoy your holiday. 😊

No one cares where I went to school

Two students sitting down on the grass at university while doing their homework

In early 2020, I wrote a shitty blog ranting about college.

I still hold all the same opinions. But today I’d like to briefly discuss one aspect.

The fact that I run a profitable business that sustains my life and fulfills me at the highest level. I help people create the lives they want, get organized, and even grow their own businesses.

And in the last four years, not a single person has asked if I went to school.

Not where I went to school. If.

I’m not saying any of this to brag. I’m a college dropout who spent most of those four years living with his mom because he couldn’t afford anything else. (To which I’m incredibly grateful. Thanks, mom!)

The point is this.

In the past, people cared about where we got our credentials. Today, most people just want to know if we’re useful.

“Where did you graduate?” is now “Can you help us?”

I have friends making six figures because they taught themselves how to code. I know folks with great jobs because they’re great people who learn well and have strong interpersonal skills. I do well because I’ve developed the skill of coaching and curiosity.

All of which is possible without paying $80,000.

The caveat here is that of course there are professions where schooling is entirely necessary. I don’t want a surgeon who taught herself how to cut people open.

I don’t think college is a bad idea. It’s just not the only idea. There are many other ways to do interesting things and make money.

Many companies would ask me: What are your credentials?
“Alcoholism,” I would say. “Bankruptcy and divorce.”

Steve Chandler

I went too far

A little girl wearing a mask and holding a teddy bear also wearing a mask

I like to create rules.

Boundaries and guidelines for living a healthy and principled life.

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve added two rules to my chart:

  1. I can only drink alcohol twice a month.
  2. I can’t give unsolicited advice.

I’ve changed my mind on both of these. Let me explain.

Let’s start with the second one: giving advice.

I recently read The Advice Trap: Be Humble, Stay Curious, and Change the Way You Lead Forever. (Here’s my review of the book if you want my quick summary.)

In short, giving advice isn’t always the best way to help someone. We usually provide solutions to the wrong problem and, while we don’t like to admit it, our solutions aren’t always that good.

I soaked this in. The last chapter is a reassurance that giving advice isn’t evil, it’s just not always the most effective option.

Despite this, I processed the whole thing as: I must never give advice.

So, when I inevitably did, I felt gross. I felt like a bad person who was hurting my friends and colleagues.

It didn’t take long for me to go, Yeah…I don’t think I’m supposed to feel this way.

As for my drinking, that rule came from puking two nights in a row while on vacation. Naturally, I woke up that second morning certain I would never drink again. I’m sure I’m the only person who has ever pretended to decide that.

But this weekend, I went to DC to have dinner at my friends’ apartment. They cooked a delicious meal and offered me a glass of wine.

I thought, You know what, I DO want one glass of wine. Maybe even two.

And that’s what happened. The three of us finished a bottle then drank water and played games for the remainder of the night.

I said out loud, “Ah. This isn’t the problem. Getting fucked up is the problem.”

Believe it or not, I just don’t enjoy getting wasted as much as I did when I was 20 years old. Go figure.

The next night, I got dinner at my other friends’ house and we each had one hard Kombucha (I know, we’re tanks). It turns out that when I only have one or two drinks I tend to not make shitty decisions.

Conclusion

I erased both of those rules from my whiteboard.

The lesson?

It’s a great thing to notice areas of improvement in our lives. We have the power to make changes in our habits and tendencies to create something better.

But it’s even more healthy to reassess those changes and course-correct if they’re not fully meeting our needs. We can ask: Is this really a problem? If so, is this the best way to address the problem?

Then when our needs shift we can adjust again. And so on.

I don’t really drink unless it’s a social event and I’m not rushing to preach my worldviews to people. But I will have a beer here and I’ll share some opinions there…

All I can do is try to be healthy and helpful and apologize when I overstep.

That’s the new rule.

Fuck Off Day

A woman waving goodbye to her toddler son as he runs out with his backpack

Last night, I went over to my best friend’s house for dinner.

He and his partner were telling me about the move to intentionally add alone time into their relationship. Now every Tuesday around 4pm, they take turns leaving to go do something and give the other person the house to themselves. Tongue in cheek, they’ve been calling it “Fuck Off Day.”

It’s funny because a person could hear this and think, Oh, you’re trying to spend more time separated...sounds unhealthy.

When in fact, it’s one of the healthiest things I’ve ever heard a couple do.

They have an incredible relationship. And this practice is intended to maintain that strength.

I’m not an expert in love…but this truth can be applied to everything else in our lives:

Space from people, environments, and activities (especially ones we love) is essential.

Let’s go through some examples in order.

People:

We all need alone time. We need to know what it’s like to simply sit with our thoughts and emotions.

I used to think I was just a wildly extroverted guy. Then I realized I was just surrounding myself with people so I never had to confront my anxieties. When we’re alone, there’s nowhere to hide.

Aside from that, time away from those we care about creates room for us to miss them.

It’s in someone’s absence that we truly notice what they bring to our lives. Until they return. We can’t fully appreciate something until it’s taken away from us.

Since I moved out of my mom’s house, we’ve grown ten times closer. She’s not my roommate anymore. She’s my amazing mother.

When I visit friends from other cities, I cherish every hour of conversation I have with them. I know that when the weekend is over, we’ll go back to our lives hundreds of miles apart.

In breakups, we can logically know that it’s for the best…yet we still feel the agonizing pangs of loss not having this person to laugh or be romantic with.

All this to say: We need space from people to solidify how much we love and appreciate them.

Environments:

Why do we take vacations?

For the Gram, yes. But also to just fucking get away.

Away from our routines, our neighborhoods, our kitchens.

There’s something liberating about being in a totally new place. We’re often not even sure what the place is going to look like or what it has to offer. We just know we’d like a change of scenery.

I take one trip every month. Sometimes to another state. Sometimes out of the country. Why?

Because I work on weekends. Several of my clients work nine-to-fives and I don’t do calls on weeknights. That means I often work seven days a week. And that means I can only take so much before I have to get the fuck out of here.

I love this office but after a certain amount of time, any room can feel like a prison cell.

So I go somewhere. I visit a buddy. I see my family. I go hiking. Sometimes I just take the weekend off and host a friend here at my apartment.

It’s actually nice to not do my morning routine for a few days. But then, after taking that space, I quickly crave my old environment. I miss my desk, my roommate, my bed.

Then when I return home, I feel refreshed. I get back into my habits and rituals feeling reignited.

All because I took some time away from them.

Activities:

I love chess.

But there’s a reason I don’t play it for eight hours a day. It’s the same reason I don’t do anything for that long.

I’d get sick of it.

I had a session yesterday with a super ambitious salesman. He loves his job and is always eager to do well and help his team.

But the job is so time-consuming that he feels he doesn’t have any time for himself. So we created some boundaries for him to set and build that time (i.e. space).

I asked him: “What would you be able to do with the free time you create?”

He responded immediately: “I’d do my job better.

He wants space from his job so he can be more present and capable when he’s in it. That’s how I feel about chess, coaching, and everything else. That’s why we need rest days from the gym—to allow our muscles to rebuild themselves and recover.

TL; DR:

Intentional time away from the people and things we love strengthens our relationships with them.

The sexiest thing in the world

A hanging pot of pink flowers

I’ve been in relationships for a number of different reasons.

• I was attracted to her
• I cherished the flow of conversation
• She made me laugh

But there’s one thing I’ve found to be the most powerful catalyst in a sustainable relationship…

Curiosity.

A genuine fascination with how another person thinks, feels, and experiences the world.

I’m not just talking about romantic partnerships here. Friends. Family. Colleagues…One of the most basic human desires is the desire to be heard and seen. We want to feel important and interesting.

If we don’t, there’s no fire. There’s no passion. There’s no connection.

In building a relationship with another human, we can ask two things:

  1. Am I curious about this person?
  2. Do I feel like they are curious about me?

The value of heartache

A woman holding a neon heart against her chest

Life can fucking hurt.

Between people dying, hearts breaking, and a million other things which make us physically ill…we’re guaranteed to feel powerful negative emotions at times.

Yesterday, my coach told me, “There’s no system for grief.”

In other words, sometimes we’re sad and we don’t fully know why and there’s no formula to make it go away right now.

We have to just sit in it. And learn from it.

As readers of this blog know, I try to find the lesson in everything I do. After a painful experience, I allow myself to feel my feelings, and then I’ll ask things like:

What was the value in this?
What have I learned?
How can I use this as an opportunity to grow?

It doesn’t make shitty circumstances and more pleasant. But it is a long-term strategy for drastically improving as a person.

I handle myself with grace and respect when it comes to breakups, tough conversations with friends, and uncomfortable business dealings. I don’t take things personally and I never lose my temper.

How have I gotten so good at these things?

Because I was shit at them in the past.

I’ve tried to shame women into being with me (oh, to be 20). I’ve treated friends like garbage until they did what I wanted (sorry, Phil). And I’ve been stunned and speechless on the phone when a potential client told me “No thanks” (this year lol).

It’s through moments like these—memories that make us cringe—where the real growth happens. If someone doesn’t have any cringy memories, I assume they’re the same person they were in high school.

I treat women with respect because I know from experience how awful it is when I don’t. I’m open and honest with my friends because I’ve seen how sustainable and fulfilling that is over being passive-aggressive. And I’m detached from outcomes in my business because I’ve felt the agony of obsessing over a result and it not going my way.

It sounds David Goggins-y, but we learn from pain. Only if we let ourselves, though. Only if we seek the lessons.

We all want wisdom. But we don’t want the thing that brings us wisdom.

Feel…but learn as you do so.

THINGS I’m grateful for

Luigi, Yoshi, and Mario standing next to one another

Yesterday, on the CREATE Program calls, we talked about expressing gratitude.

We separated the things we’re grateful for and the people we’re grateful for.

One woman laughed because of how hard it was to not go straight to the people in our lives. It felt counterintuitive. There’s usually a negative connotation in focusing on the stuff we have instead of the relationships we enjoy.

But my prompt was this:

What are the things—both tangible and intangible—you are so incredibly grateful to have in your life?

Awesome answers included:

• “My sobriety”
• “How much time I have left on Earth”
• “My past—for all its valuable lessons”
• “Having a computer which connects me to so many people”
• “My growth”

It was difficult to have this conversation without a big dumb smile on my face.

Here’s my answer to the question:

I’m grateful for the infinitely small probability of getting the life I have.

I didn’t choose my parents or my environment. Which means I didn’t choose to not be a Syrian refugee. I didn’t choose to not have a shitty mom. I popped out in a hospital in Virginia Beach in 1994 and they happened to hand me back to two capable, loving adults. Then those adults raised me in middle-class America.

That’s some good shit.

There are so many factors that could’ve drastically altered my life. A few strands of DNA. One of my best friends not attending my high school. A childhood injury.

But so far, everything has happened how it happened and I look how I look and live how I live.

I’m grateful for the brain I was born with. It has given me the skills to connect with others and create a lovely life for myself. It allows me to read and write every day. It keeps me from being mean to people.

Tomorrow, I’ll talk about the people I’m grateful for. Stay tuned.

(**If you would like to join wholesome conversations like this one, ask me about the CREATE Program!)

You are not your past

A giant analog clock on a wall made of stone

For 26 years, I had two limiting beliefs cemented in my mind.

  1. I could never run a business—I’m not business savvy and none of it is common sense to me.
  2. I’m a talker and a thinker, but when it comes down to it I never take action with the things I want to do.

Today, I work 20 hours a week, make more money than I ever have before, have my dream job…and it’s all from taking consistent action and creating my own company.

Okay, that all sounds like a fake entrepreneur’s Instagram ad. I promise I’m not about to pitch my ebook or online course.

My point is: In the last year, I’ve flipped those two “certainties” on their heads.

I created a sustainable business that pays for my life. And the thought of not taking action if I want something feels nauseating. When there’s something I’m interested in that I think would benefit my life, my first thought is: How can I make it work?

To be fair, none of this came from a simple mindset shift or from a single event. This has all been a slow-growing and consistent progression. (Plus several anxiety-riddled months.)

So what can we do with all this? Or did I just want to brag about my life? While it does feel nice (and a bit slimy), I wanted to highlight an unfortunate truth:

We create fixed identities for ourselves by using the past to define us.

We can hear it in our language.

• “I always…”
• “I never…”
• “I’m not the kind of person who…”
• “I tend to…”
• “I could never…”

As Steve Chandler says, we mistake habits as traits. Repetitions as characteristics. Because we’ve done something more than once in the past, it’s set in stone that we’ll keep doing it.

I truly “couldn’t” run a business or take consistent action. Until I could.

When we think we can’t do something, we tend to prove ourselves right by not putting in the effort to make it happen. If I’m certain I can’t write a book, I never sit down to start typing. Therefore, my hypothesis gets confirmed.

Many of us have heard the phrase: “People don’t change.”

What fucking nonsense.

People change all the time. Our values, our habits, our goals…The vast majority of us are experiencing a neverending evolution.

Personalities and tendencies are real, but we don’t have to let them pigeonhole us and keep us stuck in the same place.

I’m aware that this blog sounds like a typical self-help book. But if we just take consistent, scary action…we’d be amazed by the ways we prove ourselves wrong.

Day of disgust

A man pouring a beer into a glass

I missed yesterday’s blog.

This weekend was a strange one.

I visited a friend and my dad’s side of the family in Virginia. We all did what we usually do: drink and hang out.

November has led to some shitty mornings in the past since I take the entire month of October off from drinking alcohol.

But this weekend, I threw up from drinking on both Friday and Saturday night.

Sunday morning wasn’t a typical hangover. It was one of those mornings where one lies in bed like a vegetable and reconsiders their life decisions.

It was in that moment of disgust I decided to seriously cut down on my drinking.

I certainly don’t feel like an alcoholic, but my issue is that when I do drink, I drink like I’m still 20 years old.

I’m not.

I’m a 27-year-old man who doesn’t drink often and who takes good care of his body. Meaning, when I drink like I’m in college again, my body rejects it like poison (which it technically is). That’s not super sustainable.

So I’m revisiting my rules.

New rule: I can only drink alcohol two nights a month.

two

…these blogs just aren’t that good.

one

Sometimes…

A day in the life of a Life Coach

Kinda creepy, eh?

I don’t find myself to be some high-performing productivity God.

But I do manage my time well and seem to get everything that I want to get done, done. Always productive; never busy.

People often say to me, “I’m sure you’re so busy…” But that’s not true. To me, busy implies a sense of being out of control—too many things to do and barely enough time to do them.

I have a ton of free time because I make sure that I do. I spend time with my friends and family. I take at least one trip each month. I play chess every day. I get plenty of sleep. (*The caveat here is that I’m 27, single, and I don’t have children.)

This is all on purpose. Whenever I feel any of these things begin to slip, I know it’s time to readjust my work and task load.

So today I thought I’d give a peek behind the curtain and run through an average workday for me. I hope it’s not as boring as I imagine it will be.

But here goes…

Between 5-6am: Wake up.

This was 6-7am before the time change this week. I’ve just kept the same circadian rhythm so now I can sound like one of those guys from an entrepreneur inspirational video.

I turn my SleepCycle alarm off. My phone is on airplane mode from the night before and I can’t take it off until I finish my morning routine.

I put my glasses on, make my bed, and go out to the kitchen to drink my fluids. In the fridge are my water bottles, ice-cold from the night before.

If I worked out the day prior, I chug a bottle of Athletic Greens. Then I drink half of my Nalgene of regular water.

I do this before any caffeine to make sure the first thing I do each day is hydrate after 8-10 hours of no water. Then I make a cup of coffee, usually Bulletproof.

6-8am: Morning routine.

I bring my coffee into my office, turn the lights and my computer on, and scratch off the day before on my giant wall calendar. Then I begin the morning routine I’ve basically had for the last two years.

  1. Look at my Google Calendar and block out my day in my notebook.
30-minute chunks.

2. Write my three affirmations:

I, Dillan Taylor, support myself as a prosperous coach.
I make $10K/mo.
I love doing scary things.

3. Read for 20-45 minutes.

Usually nonfiction to get the brain moving and pondering at the start of the day.

4. Write this blog.

Depending on the content and on my level of motivation, this can take anywhere from five minutes to an hour. If I love it, I post it to Facebook.

5. Solve 15 chess puzzles on chess.com.

I get 15 each day with my membership. So I go until they run out.

6. Stretch for 3-5 minutes.

Usually to a personal development or educational YouTube video.

These are mostly leg, back, and hip stretches…to prepare for a day of mostly sitting.

7. Meditate for 10 minutes.

I use the Waking Up app.

Meditation is the most important step of all…and it’s the easiest to skip.

8. Take my phone off airplane mode, maybe shower, and start my day.

The first two hours of the day are mine. Nothing to respond to. Nothing to solve or fix.

8-11am: Coaching sessions.

I try to get my sessions done earlier in the day when I have the most brainpower.

Active listening, reflecting, and challenging people and their thoughts can be mentally draining. If I can avoid sessions later in the day, I do.

11am-12pm: Eat and shower (if I haven’t already).

This is my breakfast, so to speak (type?). Usually eggs, sausage or bacon, and fruit (with peanut butter).

12-3pm: Other calls and miscellanous work.

These could be coaching sessions, connect calls, and admin stuff I didn’t finish on Monday.

If there’s space between tasks, I’ll read, go for a walk, or watch a few YouTube videos.

3-5pm: Gym.

At least three times per week. I use Fitbod to pick and track my workouts.

My weightlifting cycle is: push (chest/triceps), core (abs), pull (back and biceps), legs.

5-9pm: Dinner, maybe chill with friends.

If I’m in by myself for the night, I’ll cook something simple—usually a protein, veggie, and starch.

If I hang with friends, we may order food—usually Chipotle—or one of us will cook for the group. Wine or beer may be included.

In a perfect world, I wind down around 8:30pm. I use Freedom to block internet on my phone so I can’t stay up watching YouTube. I turn airplane mode on and stretch before getting into bed.

9pm: In bed.

If I’m still fairly awake, I read my Kindle until my body tells me it’s time to shut down.

I set my alarm for the morning, put my sleep mask on, and try to fall asleep.

10pm: Asleep.

Hopefully.

Repeat.

Waking up at 5am

A woman sleeping next to her alarm clock

This Sunday, the clocks moved back an hour. That extra hour of sleep was delicious.

Except I didn’t get a bonus hour. My circadian rhythm has stayed the same.

My previous sleep schedule: In bed at 10pm; Awake between 6-7am.

Now that time has been pushed back, I’ve been going to bed at 9pm and waking up between 5-6am.

All the cliches of waking up early AF are true.

  1. My days feel more productive.
  2. It’s therapeudic to feel like I’m the only one awake in the world.
  3. I love experiencing the sunrise.
  4. It feels like I get to do more in a day.

I feel bad for people who despise the morning time.

The downside is that I get exhausted around 8:30pm. Not ideal for nightlife. That’s okay.

Sacrifices need to be made in order for us to feel more whole.

This is a sacrifice I’m willing to make.

I’m moving to New York City

Two women hugging and looking out over the New York City skyline

In September, I spent a weekend in Brooklyn. It was one of the best weekends of my life.

I was meeting one of my good friends in real life for the first time. (2021, am I right?)

For years, I’ve been one of those folks who says, “New York is a great place to visit, but I could never live there.” That weekend proved me wrong. And now, when my current lease is up in October, I’ll be moving there.

Here’s why.

1) The opportunity.

In 24 hours in NYC, I…

• scheduled two coaching sessions with strangers (one of whom became a client)
• played chess hustlers in Washington Square Park
• saw Seth Meyers walking with his son (his calves are tremendous)
• declined cocaine from the CFO of a major magazine company
• bowled with one of my new best buds
• ate mushroom chocolate in the apartment of someone I had only met that night

All that to say…there’s plenty to do.

After connecting and setting up my second coaching session, I thought, Wow, my business would thrive here.

Everyone in NYC is pursuing something. They’re looking to create exciting and rewarding lives. My kind of people.

They also probably have money. After three minutes of research, I can confidently confirm the expensive stereotype of New York City.

Aside from the professional aspects, I saw more culture and diversity in two hours than I have in any of my previous travels or books read.

People of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Any type of cuisine. Parents yelling at their children in languages I’ve never heard. I have no idea what country that mom was from but holy fuck was she giving it to that kid.

On top of that, there are a zillion comedy clubs and venues to drop into for a night of entertainment.

Being hosted by an actual New Yorker made all this more enjoyable. I wasn’t a tourist traveling with other tourists. I was immersed.

2) The adventure.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with sticking around one’s hometown. I’ve been in Maryland practically my whole life.

But there are certain things we can only achieve by exploring somewhere else—away from the comfort of what we’re familiar with.

We learn what we’re made of. We learn how to make friends and build a community from scratch. We experience a different way of being.

I learned more about myself in my one year in Germany than I did in the previous 20 in the states.

It’s also hard to deny the comparison game. We see friends moving to cool cities or foreign countries and it can feel like we’re doing something wrong by staying put. I’ve certainly felt this.

Anyway, I’ve been down to try out a new place for years, but never felt I had the life skills or stability to make it happen the way I wanted.

Until now.

I thought about moving a few years ago. But, working in a restaurant, I didn’t want to move to Colorado just to work at a different restaurant. I wanted things to change internally first. (Not judging anyone who has done this. It’s just not what I wanted to do.)

Now, I have a career I’m skilled in and proud of that I can take anywhere. I have a good friend I can be neighbors with in Brooklyn. And most importantly, I know what my values are and I know how to take good care of my physical and mental health.

I’m ready.

3) It scares me.

I’m also actually NOT ready. And that’s the point.

Walking around the city, I was in awe. It was like I was in a museum, staring at the buildings and the crowds of people.

I was also anxious.

Everywhere I went, I felt like I was going to be late for something. It was exhilarating. I both loved and resented the fast-paced nature of the city. Stillness didn’t seem to be the prevailing vibe. It was unfamiliar and uncomfortable to me…and I loved that.

Even after I got home from that weekend, I could feel the go-getter nature still pulsating through my veins. I wanted to work. I wanted to do things.

Every single morning in 2021, I’ve written the affirmation: “I love doing scary things.”

One of the biggest areas of growth I’ve experienced this year has been pursuing things that terrify me. I fucking went for it.

I started a business with no Plan B. I flew to another country to pursue a relationship. I put myself out there in ways I couldn’t comprehend two years ago.

In other words, I’ve leveled up tremendously. The only way to level up is to do scary things until they aren’t scary anymore. Then there’s a new level of scary things. And so on.

This is the next level for me. Leaving my home and going to a scary, unfamiliar place.

Again, I’m ready. And I’m not.

So let’s do it.

Why I never lie

A child with painted hands

Until I was about 23 years old, I’m pretty sure I was a compulsive liar.

I lied about: my sex life, my skills, and stories which may or may not have happened to me. The goal was to create a Dillan who was way cooler, more impressive, and more capable than the Dillan I was.

The effect?

Not only was I keeping reality away from my friends and family. I was also muddying my own lens of the world around me. I began believing the lies I was telling.

I also trusted people less. If I wasn’t being honest, how easy was it for others to be dishonest too?

Studies show that people who are carrying a gun suspect way more people to also be carrying a gun. So too with lying.

One of the heaviest burdens a liar carries is having to remember all that they said.

In my junior year of college, I got caught in a lie. I told one person something that contradicted what I told another person. The memory still makes me cringe. I felt like a child who got caught lying about stealing a cookie.

After that moment of disgust, I set out to intentionally break my habit of lying. It was fucking hard and took me about three years.

Even to an honest person, setting out to not tell a single lie is quite the challenge. It’s almost ingrained in our culture to spare the feelings of others and tell white lies to be polite.

I just finished a book—Lying by Sam Harris—which debunks every reasonable-sounding argument for telling a lie.

My two biggest takeaways are:

1) Lying erodes trust in the people we care about (both consciously and unconsciously).

I have a friend who’s one of the kindest and most compassionate people I’ve ever known. But one time, we were hanging out and someone texted her seeing what she was up to.

Not wanting this person to know she was choosing other friends over her, my friend lied. She said she was just chilling for the night to get ready for an early morning.

We laughed it off, but I remember thinking, Has she ever done this to me?

Now I’ve seen that she’s willing to lie to a friend. Whether we like it or not, I’ll never trust her 100% when I invite her to something and she says she can’t go.

2) Fake praise or encouragement is not kind; it’s disrespectful. It wastes a person’s time and morphs their grip on reality.

False encouragement is a kind of theft: It steals time, energy, and motivation that a person could put toward some other purpose.

Sam Harris, Lying

This has to do with short-term vs. long-term thinking.

If we give open and honest feedback (with grace and permission, of course), in the short term we may risk hurting a person’s feelings.

But in the long term, we accomplish a number of things. We…

• become a trusted confidante
• genuinely help this person improve
• cultivate a deeper relationship with this person

Giving and handling feedback well is its own separate conversation. But when I create something, I don’t want people to tell me why it’s awesome. That may feel good for four seconds, but what I really want is to build something valuable.

As uncomfortable as it can be, I can only accomplish that by having people I trust point out my blind spots and mistakes.

An essay is always improved after a round of edits.

On the other hand, if I’ve only been told that my thing is perfect…when I share it with the world and no one likes it, I’m left confused and heartbroken.

We can avoid that by simply being honest.

Conclusion

Where do you tell lies—even white lies?

How difficult would it be to not tell a single lie for the next seven days? I encourage you to try it. It’s more liberating than you may think.

Please don’t give me money…unless you want to

A person putting coins into a piggy bank

Aside from Sundays and the occasional vacation, I’ve written in this blog every morning for two years.

I plan on continuing for several decades, maybe even forever.

The thought of having a 50-year archive of my thoughts, challenges, and stories is captivating to me. Writing these posts has been wildly therapeutic and sharpening. And the fact that people seem to enjoy some of them…it’s an honor.

I’ll never charge a dime for this blog. I write blogs because I thoroughly love to.

But now there’s an option to support my work.

If you’ve ever gotten any value out of something I’ve done, feel free to donate what you think seems fitting. It’ll go toward my work and a portion goes to an organization battling climate change.

There’s also zero pressure to do any of that. Regardless, I’m going to keep typing away.

Whether you choose to donate or not, I couldn’t be more grateful for you taking time out of your day to read my stuff.

Thanks, thanks, and ever thanks!

What I learned from my fourth Sober October

A jack-o-lantern next to a block calendar in October

In late September, I called my six-year sober friend.

When I told him I was doing Sober October, he responded, “Me too!”

I’ve always commended his ability to be social, go to bars, and dance…all without the liquid courage of alcohol. I’m an extroverted guy but I doubt I’d be the same chipper dude at a bar in Brooklyn at 2am if I were sober.

He asked me why I do it. Why do I take months off of drinking if it’s not a problem in my life?

The answer is simple: There’s a part of me that enjoys partying and occasionally doing less-than-healthy things. So long as that doesn’t get in the way of my work, my health, or my relationships, then I’m good. But a few times each year, I take a month off to remind myself that I don’t rely on alcohol to be fun, funny, or social.

This was the best month yet.

It only took about a week for me to forget I was doing any sort of “challenge.” It helps that I’m not close friends with any avid drinkers.

Here are my three biggest takeaways from this past month. None of them may surprise you…

1) It’s SO much easier to get good sleep without alcohol in our systems.

Not drinking tends to mean not staying up late or doing other drugs. But even if we go to bed at a reasonable hour, a tiny amount of alcohol in our blood can greatly diminish sleep quality.

I use the app SleepCycle to track my sleep data and this was my best month in four years.

Here are some specs from a random Thursday in October:

Dillan's sleep data from Sober October
Time in bed vs. time spent asleep.
Dillan's sleep data from Sober October
REM and NREM sleep.
Dillan's sleep data from Sober October
Other relevant data.

That’s good shit.

2) NOT waking up with any sort of hangover is the 8th Wonder of the World.

Tied to #1.

I’ve done many drugs in my life—both legal and not. Let me tell you about my favorite one.

The most effective and sustainable drug on the planet is being clean, well-rested, well-nourished, and energized.

A night of cocaine may have made me better at talking about myself for a few hours in the past. But a stable and healthy body has allowed me to compound my efforts, build a profitable business from scratch, and get in pretty damn good shape.

If I had one drug to choose from, I choose that any day of the week.

There wasn’t one morning this past month where I wasn’t ready to attack the day. Even if I was a bit tired or sick, not being wildly dehydrated and groggy made me feel like I could experience the full scope of my day.

3) Conversation is the most important thing.

I’m lucky to have friends who are way more intelligent and creative than I am.

The cool thing is, I get to talk to them regularly. They inspire me. They make me laugh hysterically. They challenge me to level up.

When I visited one of my best friends in Philadelphia last month, the vast majority of our time was spent sitting or walking and having deep and curious conversations.

Aside from the occasional coffee or tea, it was just our own sober thoughts and questions. That’s connection.

In a friend or a potential partner, I ask myself:

Can I sit down with this person and have a three-hour, totally sober, fun and fruitful conversation?

If the answer is no—i.e. if it feels like other substances or activities are necessary for us to connect—then I’ll never truly feel connected to that person.

In other words, I connect with others through conversation: opening up about ideas and emotions and making each other laugh.

Conclusion

I still haven’t had any alcohol since Sober October ended. I’m not craving it at all and to be honest, I haven’t really thought about it until I sat down to write this blog.

That makes me feel good.

I would never tell anyone how to live their life, but I can say this for sure:

The more we can learn to genuinely enjoy our sober minds and surroundings, the more rewarding and sustainable our lives will be.

(*I hope that made sense and I hope that doesn’t sound insensitive to anyone struggling with addiction.)

See you next October.

Sweating my way to Canada (pt. 3)

My friends Dennika (left) and Anya (right)—Tofino, Vancouver Island.

If you haven’t read parts one and two of my journey to Vancouver Island, go do that first. It’ll help me sleep at night.

Today, I’ll wrap up the story and share the insights I gained from my 16-hour travel day.

Flight 2.5: Montreal to Toronto

After missing my first flight ever, I plopped down at the gate and waited for my new flight to Toronto. I had an hour and 15 minutes until it boarded, which felt like heroin.

It feels strange to write this now, but at that time I felt truly depressed. I felt it all in my face and chest. This was my deepest, darkest fear and it had actualized.

But over the course of that hour, I quickly calmed my nerves by meditating over two facts:

1) There was literally nothing else I could’ve done to avoid missing my flight.

I got unlucky. The delay. The jammed luggage door. The random COVID test.

Perhaps Usain Bolt would’ve caught up to the gate in time. But for me, there was no glaring instance of stupidity that kept me off that plane.

Shit just happens. Sometimes everything goes our way. Something it feels like the cards are stacked against us. Usually it’s something in between those two.

This stoic concept of what I can control vs. what I can’t arrived quickly to me. It’s a habit I’ve built over the years. But the second fact which took over my entire body was this.

2) My life is pretty damn good.

Let me explain.

I was sitting in that chair legitimately feeling the highest levels of anguish and heartache I’ve felt in years. After about 40 minutes of reflection, I thought, Holy shit dude. If THIS is what causes these emotions for you…that’s proof your life is amazing.

For most, what unravels these formidable feelings are things like…

• losing a loved one
• feeling lost in life
• having clinical depression

For me, it was adding five hours to my day and having to get on one extra plane as I headed to an unbelievably gorgeous island with unbelievably gorgeous people.

Some people really have it rough, eh?

A wave of light and gratitude swept over me. My sadness was gone. My frustration was gone. I got on my flight, joked around with the flight attendants, and headed to Toronto.

Flight 3: Toronto to Vancouver

We landed.

I got an A&W burger and a rootbeer float.

I called my friend and told her about my trail of tears.

We laughed.

The plane boarded and we took off for a five-hour flight to Vancouver.

Flight 4: Vancouver to Vancouver Island

There was another delay and for the second time that day, I was sure I would miss my next flight.

Please no…I’m so close.

I could see the island. The last flight would be 11 minutes long.

When we finally docked, most of us jogged off the plane. Just outside the gate, there was a man yelling, “To Vancouver Island?” My ears perked up.

“Yes sir,” I exclaimed.

“Right down there to C53,” he said confidently.

I put my hand on his cheek and said, “Thank you, my Guardian Angel.”

Well, I wanted to do that but I didn’t want to miss my flight. I followed his directions and speed-walked to C53.

I made it to the gate to find a young couple showing their boarding passes also out of breath. It was the last gate open in the entire airport. The plane was waiting for us because they knew several passengers were coming from my Toronto flight.

I walked directly up the steps to the tiny plane, sat in my seat, and texted my friend:

“It’s done. I’m on the last plane. Justin Trudeau can’t kill me. He forgot I bleed red white and blue.”

The flight took exactly 11 minutes. It was the most turbulence I’ve ever experienced on a plane. And I couldn’t have cared less.

We landed, I thanked the flight attendants profusely for waiting for us, and I walked out.

“Dillan,” I heard.

My friend was waiting outside the terminal for me. I dropped my luggage and melted into her arms.

This was my first time meeting her in real life. She was smaller than I pictured and smelled just as good as I had imagined.

I made it. My vacation could begin.

Sweating my way to Canada (pt. 2)

The Strait of Georgia.

Yesterday, I wrote about the beginning of my travels to Vancouver Island. Read that first if you haven’t already.

Also, people have been asking me where Vancouver Island is.

It’s here.

We left off at me getting on my first flight to Montreal. I walked onto the plane dripping with sweat and shame.

Flight 2: Montreal to Vancouver

Montreal is just north of New York state. The flight there from DC only takes an hour and a half.

We flew there on the smallest plane I’ve ever been on, besides when I went skydiving. I was half-expecting the pilot to say, “Good morning passengers! Thank you for attending my very first flight. I’ve never done this before and I’m excited to try. Luckily, no one will notice if this Fiat of an airplane goes missing. Message your loved ones and then put your phones on airplane mode. Seatbelts on please.”

Despite that, we made it over the Canadian border with few casualties. I even had the fortune of having an empty seat next to me—the poor man’s first class.

I had a short layover before my flight to Vancouver, which I thought was lovely. But as time ticked on my anxiety came pouring back in. I forgot about customs. I forgot about delays. I soon welcomed a three-hour layover.

We landed in Montreal and to my horror, the plane just sat there.

Ten minutes. Twenty minutes. Thirty minutes…

The captain came on and spoke for about 60 seconds, first in English and then in French. I’m not exaggerating at all when I say I didn’t catch a single word of what was said.

Neither did the other passengers. I looked around and saw confused and frustrated faces. A coup was boiling. I faced the woman in the row across and we exchanged glances. Our energy was: If I attempt to overthrow this plane do you have my back? I absolutely did.

It was at this time I was certain I would miss my next flight. Then again, my anxiety was certain of that when I got out of bed at 5 in the morning.

We finally got off the tarmac and docked. They said the bag I had to check in DC would be coming up the mini-elevator just outside. I walked off the plane and stood in the cluster of 15 others waiting for their bags.

The tension was palpable. I wasn’t the only one who had a quick connecting flight to catch. It was kind of a bonding experience. I would’ve loved to start an army with those folks.

An agent came up to the metal elevator and tried to pull the door open. Nothing.

I wanted to offer to help since I’m so incredibly strong and healthy and handsome. But I was in the back of the crowd.

I heard three more yanks of the door handle and felt the tension grow even stronger. This dude couldn’t open the gate.

He walked away and passengers began trying to open it themselves. After a minute, he returned with one of the flight attendants. She pushed some buttons but nothing was happening. I considered leaving my bag and spending a week on the island without clothes. I’m a minimalist anyway.

After 15 minutes, they finally managed to open the elevator and basically chucked our luggage at us. We were all grateful for this. I said, “Thanks guys,” and for the first time in my life…I began sprinting in an airport.

I’ve wondered for years how unprepared a person has to be to jolt through a terminal. I’ll never judge another person ever again.

I made it through the mile-long labyrinth following the “Connections” signs. They might as well have said, “Lol fuck you Dillan welcome to Canada.”

Thank you. Thank you, Montreal.

I sped through customs which I’m sure looked sketchy as hell. The first two machines wouldn’t read my passport so I had the kind woman help me out. I said, “Sorry, I’m going to miss my flight.”

She looked at me with a face that said: Oh, you’re the one who has a flight to catch. We’ve never had one of those.

I made it through, constantly checking my watch. My flight had boarded already and was taking off in ten minutes.

I passed each airport boss like a video game and was walking down a long corridor toward what would end up being my final foe.

She was checking passports and having all the other frantic passengers move to the right. When she pointed me toward the left I was confused.

“You’ve been randomly selected to take a COVID test, sir.”


I’ve been heartbroken before in my life. I’ve been betrayed. But this…

I have no idea what my face looked like but for the first time in my life, I turned into that entitled customer.

“Miss, I totally understand, and I’m so sorry, but is there any way I can not take this? I’m going to miss my flight. Like, if I take this test I will miss my flight.”

She told me rules are rules and offered to help me sign into the portal to take my test. I pushed the iPad’s buttons passive-aggressively as if doing so would foster sympathy. Yes I DO fucking live in Annapolis. No I DON’T know the Canadian area code of where I’m staying. Fuck you Canada!

I got to the doctor and asked her to shove those q-tips up my nose as quickly as she could. I thanked her and bolted out of the facility.

I can’t remember the last time I sprinted as fast as I could in a non-exercise or sports context. My footsteps and breathing were so loud people were getting out of my way 30 feet ahead. I dropped my boarding passes. I dropped my neck pillow twice.

I was a mess.

My gate was at the very edge of the terminal. Gate 8. I saw the sign for it. I was cramping up. Just keep running. You’re right there.

My flight departed at 2:15. It was 2:15 on the dot.

As I ran up to the gate, I heard, “To Vancouver?”

“Yes,” I exhaled…

“You’re too late,” she replied.


There it was. My deepest fear realized. All that stress and work and sweat. I had failed the mission.

She said, “Did you want to get to Vancouver Island tonight?” It took every ounce of my being to not respond, “Yeah, that’s actually why I booked my flight for today.”

But all that came out was a deflated and defeated “…Yes please.”

I hunched over the desk. I felt lost. I had lost. She got me a new flight to Toronto, then to Vancouver, and then to the island. It added five hours to my day.

“Thanks, Carol,” I whimpered as I read her nametag. “You’re welcome,” she responded, business as usual. “Sorry you missed your flight.”

“Me too,” I said.

As I began walking to my new gate, I looked out the window and saw the plane I was supposed to be on edge away to take off.

I moped my way to a seat, updated my friend who was picking me up on the island, and played a game of online chess.

Stay tuned for part three, where I’ll stop complaining and dive into the lessons and insights I’ve gained from this day.

Sweating my way to Canada (pt. 1)

The summit of Mt. Benson in Nanaimo, Vancouver Island
The summit of Mt. Benson—Nanaimo, Vancouver Island.

I just had a week of vacation in Vancouver Island. The purpose of the trip was to visit friends and embrace the most gorgeous spectacles of nature I’ve ever seen.

It was tough to get totally excited for all this though because big travel makes me intensely anxious.

My deepest fears are that I’ll miss a flight, have to pay hundreds of dollars, and realize that I’m simply too stupid to be left to my own devices.

But I followed Canada’s tedious criteria for entering their country, prepped days before, and hoped for the best. I had three flights taking me to Vancouver Island. Here’s how they went.

Flight 1: Washington, DC to Montreal

I got up at 5:30am and my roommate kindly drove me to the airport three hours before my flight.

The Air Canada agent was noticeably kind and great at her job. We started joking and laughing with each other. Then the balloon popped.

She was scanning my documents and sadly said, “Oh no…Mr. Taylor…”

My heart sunk. Was I being arrested? Did I forget about a felony I repressed from college?

I was half-expecting her to say: “Mr. Taylor, I’m so sorry but it says here you’re simply too stupid to be left to your own devices. We’re going to have to provide you a chaperone until you land on the island.” That actually would’ve relieved my stress.

Instead, she told me my COVID-19 test wasn’t going to be accepted in Canada. Those Communists! I remembered the testers from two days prior who said my rapid test was fine for travel. My brain went all Karen and I wanted to write a strongly-worded email.

Pretending to keep my cool, I asked, “What are my options?”

She told me there was a rapid-PCR testing site two terminals away. She also told me the test cost $275.

I speed-walked with my head down, ready to pay a quarter of my rent for a stupid test I already got. When I got to the other terminal, a clerk told me the test site opened in about 40 minutes.

This is why we come to the airport early, I thought.

I sat out front, waited for them to open, and compulsively played online chess to pass the time.

When they did, I paid a million dollars or however much it cost, got my test, and they told me I would get my results in about 40 minutes. I wanted to ask, “Can you ‘science’ it extra hard to speed up the process?” Instead, I reopened my Chess.com app and continued playing.

They called my name 45 minutes later. The sheet said: “Dillan R Taylor: Negative.” I thought, Yeah, that sounds about right.

By the time I speed-walked back to the lovely Air Canada agent, I was coated in sweat. The airport was freezing and I disrobed down to my v-neck.

She gave me my boarding passes and I headed to security. The dude took my ID and the first pass, looked at me confused, and said, “This isn’t you, dude.” I thought of the ‘You’re not that guy, pal’ video.

Hilarious, I thought. But he handed me my pass and it was someone else’s name. Fuck!

I jogged back to the check-in and got in the back of a much longer line than before. I finally understood why people on viral videos acted so entitled while traveling. That shit was stressful and it felt like the world was against me. If only the folks in line knew what I was going through.

I made it back to the sweet woman who was ruining my life and she apologized and gave me the correct boarding pass.

I told the TSA agent I was in fact that guy, pal. He didn’t laugh at my joke and I took my shoes off to prep for security. At this point, a body cavity search didn’t feel implausible. Have your way with me, Reagan International.

Check-in: done. Security: done. Bathroom: done.

I made it to my gate with 12 minutes left until boarding.

At least the worst was over…he typed foreshadowing part two of this story.

I’m back

This morning, for the first time in 27 years…I pulled my back out.

I’m sitting at my desk and typing these words slowly as to not spike any agonizing pain.

It’s my first day back from my week-long vacation.

So many blogs to catch up on. So many stories and lessons to share.

But not today. Today, I work and rest in stillness.

I got several messages last week from folks asking where the damn daily blogs were.

Apologies.

Just know, I was having quite the time. But I’m back now.

No pun intended.