So I had to write this on my phone.
It’s the little things we don’t appreciate until they’re taken away from us.
So I had to write this on my phone.
It’s the little things we don’t appreciate until they’re taken away from us.
Yesterday, I gave a synopsis of my weekend in NYC. Give that a read before reading this blog.
Here are my takeaways:
It’s kind of a funny story, and I’m willing to joke about it…but having a guy look over the urinal at me peeing was mildly traumatic.
I’ve thought about it every time I’ve used the restroom since it happened.
And I’m a tall, fairly in-shape guy who can defend himself. I can’t imagine what those situations are like for, say, women who don’t have these physical advantages.
They did this at the comedy show. But I would love to go to a restaurant where this was the rule as well.
When we don’t have anything to distract us, we’re forced to be present with the people we’re with. We can genuinely take in our surroundings.
On many occasions, I like to leave my phone in the car. That’s when I truly feel like I’m part of the world.
That’s the “wealthy, hip, and yuppy” neighborhood in Brooklyn.
My buddy and I walked through it and the vibe just didn’t land with me. Many people looked as though they had a stick up their asses. They seemed calculated.
This is all just a generalization. We stopped to talk with one dude who was super kind and helpful. But he was Australian so that doesn’t count.
We’ll see. I have ten months to narrow things down.
I spent the weekend in Brooklyn with my good buddy.
It was a much chiller few days than when I first visited back in September…So I’ll briefly go through what we did and tomorrow I’ll finish with my takeaways from the weekend.
I drove up to New Jersey to stay with a friend for the night. In typical 2021 fashion, this would be the first time meeting her in person.
She and her husband hosted me and took me out to dinner. I felt bad because I typically go to bed around 9pm and only got five hours of sleep the night before.
I almost fell asleep at the brewery we went to after the restaurant.
Since they live just outside the city, I took the NJ Transit into Manhattan. The train took about an hour.
From there, I hopped on the A and took it to Brooklyn. (Do I sound like a New Yorker?)
Since my friend was on a coaching call, I sat on his stoop and watched Game 6 of the World Chess Championship—where Magnus Carlson got his first win against Ian Nepomniachtchi.
He let me in, we hugged, then we drank seltzers and played chess.
That evening, we took the train into Manhattan to see a comedy show at The Comedy Cellar.
Beforehand, we got dinner and I had to use the restroom so we walked over to the public one in Washington Square Park.
At the urinal, a homeless guy looked over the divider to watch me pee.
My first thought was, No way. He’s definitely not doing that. I could feel him looking at me and my first fear was that I was about to get stabbed. I braced myself to grab his wrist or punch him in the face.
But then I realized what was happening. I turned and said, “What the fuck are you doing buddy?”
He apologized, then did it again after four seconds. I said, “Fuck off dude,” and walked to the sink to my confused friend. He didn’t know what happened.
Then another guy came in to use the urinal on the side. The homeless guy switched urinals to be closer to him, did the same thing, and the new guy also told him to piss off.
We walked out half-disgusted and half-laughing about the situation.
My buddy told me, “You get all the New York experiences! I’ve lived here for 12 years and nothing like that has ever happened to me.”
“Yeah, I feel so lucky,” I replied. Then we headed to the show.
They took our phones so no one could record or take pictures during the performances. I loved that.
Ensuring people stay present and keeping an up-and-coming comedian from being canceled by a blogger…I’m a fan.
The show was fantastic. We got out around 10pm, walked to the closest street corner, and I heard, “Dillan?”
I turned around and saw one of my friends from high school. “What are the fucking odds?!” I replied.
The purpose of this weekend was to walk around neighborhoods I would possibly move to.
We trotted around Williamsburg and Bushwick, got lunch, met up with another buddy, and hung out at his place for a couple hours.
A super low-key day. We stayed in, got sandwiches from a bodega, and watched movies.
This was a “And then this happened” blog. Tomorrow will be the “And here’s what I got out of it” blog.
See you then.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is my breakfast, so to speak (type?). Usually eggs, sausage or bacon, and fruit (with peanut butter).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Today, I’ll wrap up the story and share the insights I gained from my 16-hour travel day.
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.
I got an A&W burger and a rootbeer float.
I called my friend and told her about my trail of tears.
The plane boarded and we took off for a five-hour flight to Vancouver.
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.
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.
We left off at me getting on my first flight to Montreal. I walked onto the plane dripping with sweat and shame.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Just know, I was having quite the time. But I’m back now.
No pun intended.
Today, I flew on four planes to get to Vancouver Island.
Too tired to write about it now.
See next blog.
In March, I joined an online coaching program and met Tomas, a guy who would soon become a close friend.
This weekend, seven months later…I met him in real life.
He’s been sober for six years, so before the trip, I was boasting to my friends that I would save money this weekend by not buying any booze and by going to bed early each night. That didn’t happen.
It turned out that even though Tomas doesn’t drink or do drugs, he’s an incredible host and wingman who loves to have a good time. I felt like I was in college again, a man-sized child lost in the largest city in the country.
• stayed out until 4am each night
• played chess hustlers in Washington Square Park
• befriended strangers when we were out and about
• set up coaching sessions with those strangers
• ate mushroom chocolate and woke up tripping with no idea where in Brooklyn I was
• got late-night tacos both evenings
• left my credit card at the last bar we went to
• saw Seth Meyers walking with his son five feet from me in the park
• got offered blow by the CFO of VICE
• decided I would move to the city about ten times and changed my mind each time
Can I do this every weekend? Absolutely not.
But it’s times like these I never want to give up. I’ll gladly sacrifice my comfort for a day or two for memories and moments like I just had.
This weekend was…fun.
I’m visiting my buddy in New York City next weekend.
20 years ago today, that city was attacked by terrorists.
There are plenty of past and current events with more death and destruction—some led by us—but being invaded leaves a different kind of unease.
It feels worse to have a stranger sneak in and steal money from us than it does our little brother taking cash from our wallets.
I have friends who lost family members on 9/11.
I’m not a sentimental person, but I’ll spend the day reflecting.
My coaching friend ran a workshop yesterday and had us do a lovely exercise.
We ran through the different aspects of the root chakra: physical, home, and financial health.
In each category, we broke them down into subcategories and had to write our immediate emotional thoughts. Here were mine.
• Sleep: sacrificed, suboptimal
• Water: great, peeing a lot
• Diet: mostly good, unorganized
• Exercise: consistent, necessary
• Stretching: infrequent, in the doghouse
• Hygiene: clean, fresh
• Vibe: minimal, intentional
• Relaxation: bed, office
• Safety: solid, dogs
• Income: vital, growing
• Savings: not enough, a little each month
• Debt: mountain, heavy
• Toxic money: none really
• Income goal: $100K+, relief, safety, freedom
The coolest part about this exercise is how many of my responses surprised me. Try it and see what thoughts pop up.
Some days I sit down and spend an hour writing what I hope is an articulate and thought-provoking blog.
But not today.
Today I just felt like writing this.
I’m going to a wedding today. My first one since pandemic began.
A friend from college. Approaching 30 is weird.
The only thing I’m nervous about is my tendency to go to bed around 9:30pm. Maybe not tonight.
Maybe tonight I party it up in the dirty Jersey.
Pray for me.
Last night, I talked to one of my best friends on the phone for two hours.
I remember doing that when I was seven years old.
I hope I’ll continue to do it until I’m 87.
Until I was about 25, I thought relentlessly, Who should I be like?
I looked to successful friends, role models, even characters in movies or plays.
When I was in high school, I would listen to the music my friends liked even though I didn’t really enjoy it.
Last year, in trying to make YouTube videos on self-improvement, I tried my best to copy my favorite filmmakers who made the same content.
After starting my own business, I read countless business and self-help books to figure out who I should emulate to become prosperous.
In my work, my relationships, and my creative endeavors…I’ve spent an ungodly amount of time asking that same throbbing question…
Who should I be like?
As we get older, one of the frustrating (and uplifting) things we realize is that cliches are cliches for a reason: They remain true.
We can turn to one of the top five cliches to answer this uncomfortable question:
In a world of seven billion humans, there is only one person on the planet who has the exact same combination of interests, strengths, and perceptions as you have. And it’s…me.
Just kidding. It’s you.
Of course, it’s necessary to be influenced by others. Soak in ideas and motivation from the people you respect. There’s always something to learn from everyone.
But only you can take what you learn and make it totally your own.
I’ve written about 1000 blog posts on this site you’re reading. There’s not a single word I haven’t taken from something else.
My mom and teachers taught me how to read and write.
All my ideas have come from experiencing the outside world—conversations with friends, stories, and lessons I’ve learned and pondered over.
But they’ve made it onto this screen because they’ve traveled through the filter that is my brain and then out of my fingertips and onto the keyboard.
Thus making them mine.
The same is true for everything you do and say.
What do you value and cherish? What excites you? What do you love?
Do that. Do it all the time. Get really fucking good at whatever you hold dear to your heart.
Because that’s you.
When you do that, you don’t have to be like anyone else. You can be the coolest person on earth.
Last night was my first day back to the jiujitsu gym in four months.
I took time off because I had a bunch of family events for the holidays and trips and flights I didn’t want to miss out on. I didn’t want to increase my chances of getting COVID.
Spoiler alert: I got it anyway.
There are a number of life lessons I could write about (and have written about) from my short time doing jiujitsu. But today, I want to talk about something you can apply to any type of practice or community.
Last winter, I remember hopping into class for the first time. It was fucking terrifying.
The thing was, I wasn’t really scared to get my ass beat—though that would happen each and every night. I was aware that that was simply part of the process going in.
No, what intimidated me was jumping into something with a group of people who already knew each other for years.
My thoughts: They are a family. I am an outsider.
I felt the same way when I started acting in the theatre program in college. They are a family. I am an outsider.
It’s tough when everyone:
• tells stories you were never a part of
• knows everyone’s names and facts about them
• is constantly talking and laughing with everyone else besides you
To be clear, by no means was I ever excluded or belittled at my gym. There’s just a noticeable difference between feeling truly close with the people you practice with and not.
The lesson here: That closeness doesn’t happen overnight.
It’s analogous to building trust with someone. It’s an organic and slow process.
Slowly but surely, I would talk more, tell more jokes, and get enough time in with my gym peoples to tell stories of my own.
One day, I was talking to a classmate before class, and I said something like, “People should feel lucky to come in and join your guys’ gym.”
She raised an eyebrow and unironically retorted, “You mean, join our gym.”
Holy fuck. I’m in.
I got lucky to become closer with an amazing group of people. Not every group of coworkers, athletes, or neighbors will come together in such a way and that’s okay.
The point here is: When you enter a new community, the feeling of being the outsider can be daunting and often discouraging.
You may think, They already have their group. They don’t need me.
But if you keep showing up, keep listening, keep caring, and the group is a good bunch…then after a bit of patience and consistency, you’ll find you have another family.
My old thoughts: They are a family. I am an outsider.
My thoughts now: We are a family. Outsiders welcome.
I turn 27 today.
I’m almost as old as my mom was when she had me.
Ten years ago, I was a junior in high school. That doesn’t feel like a decade.
Ten years from now, I’ll be 37. And I’m sure that won’t feel like a 10-year gap either.
I’ve enjoyed getting older each year so far. I love the maturity and wisdom that comes with age.
Perhaps I’ll feel differently one birthday in the future. But for now, I’m just enjoying the ride…which I assume is the only thing I can do.
One of the best gifts I receive on a daily basis is you, the reader, giving me your attention for a few minutes each morning.
Thank you so much. I am eternally grateful.
Here’s to 27 more!
When the Buddha spent a month under the Bodhi Tree pursuing enlightenment, he was challenged by the evil demon King Mara—bringer of death and desire.
Mara’s army rushed toward the Buddha, but he did not plea or run away. Instead, he placed his hand on the ground and calmly stated that the seat beneath the tree was his and that they were welcome to join him.
The sword of each soldier fell to the earth and turned into a flower.
The moral of the story? LSD was strong even in 500 BC.
Negative thoughts and emotions are omnipresent. For the vast majority of us who don’t plan on spending years training to be a monk…anxiety, doubt, envy, longing, depression…these are things we must battle with almost every day.
The problem is: Many of us approach these demons by vigorously wishing them away.
A few years ago, when I was struggling with suicidal thoughts and depressing episodes, I refused to take action until the demons left me alone.
But they’ll never go away.
As of right now, I’ve never been happier with myself or my life…and the demons are still around.
The only difference? I have a healthier relationship with them.
By following the Buddha’s example, by inviting the demons in for tea with open arms, they become laughably weak. Their swords disappear.
It’s analogous to when a bully is making fun of your shoes. The second you join her and start talking shit about your shoes too, her words become utterly powerless.
Today, the thing that brings me the most mental pain is my anxiety over money. It has crippled and even paralyzed me at times.
That’s my demon. I handle it in two steps:
Not in the Western sense of tracing it back to its source from some childhood memory. There’s validity in that, but in the moment it’s not my priority.
For this, I note each thought, feeling, and physical sensation.
• “I feel tightness in my chest.”
• “I see images of me getting evicted.”
• “I can hear the disappointment in my friends’ voices.”
By simply articulating each and every thought and feeling, I get a sense of clarity and lightness.
This can take practice.
As stated above, the demon isn’t going anywhere. So you might as well become friends and get the most out of your time with him.
The obvious caveat here is that I’m not a therapist or psychiatrist. These are just strategies that have lasted millennia and can help you the next time a demon knocks on your door.
You can try to slam that door in his face, but he’ll just grow bigger and stronger.
Make him a cup of tea, and he’ll shrivel down in strength and size.
I hear they prefer Chamomile.
Simple advice I heard from a friend the other day.
It’s lovely because you don’t have to change who you are or pretend to be something you’re not.
It’s more like a ‘build your own character’ practice.
She said she loved the fact that her friend deleted Instagram because it was bad for her mental health. So my friend changed her own relationship with social media.
It got me thinking.
What are things people I respect do that I wish I did more of?
So I made a list in my Notes app. Here are the first three examples:
• Change out of sweats and into work day clothes to feel more professional and productive.
• Get cheaper, more unique, and more thoughtful gifts for friends and family.
• Actually go hiking and spend more intentional time in nature.
What about you? What do you respect in the people you know? How can you do more of those things in your own life?
After starting a freelancing business last year, a number of unique stressors came into my life.
• How will I find my next project?
• Where do I find good clients?
• Can I pay my bills next month?
• How will I make this work?
I’ve had plenty of days where my financial uncertainty and stress has lumped itself in my chest in the form of physical pain.
But oddly enough, it’s all been worth it. Here’s why.
• I never count the days until Friday or the hours until the end of the workday.
• No one tells me when to show up to work, what to wear, or how to act.
• My schedule is crafted entirely by me.
• PTO is not a thing. If I want to take a long weekend trip to visit friends, I can.
• I can work wherever I want so long as I have my laptop and an internet connection.
Now, I’m not saying you should care about any of these things too. I know many people who would be an anxious wreck if they were in charge of their own schedule.
My point is: No matter what you’re doing in life, discomfort and sacrifice are unavoidable.
The question you need to be able to answer is: What discomfort or pain do I want to feel and what sacrifices am I willing to make?
What would make it all worth it to you?
Yesterday, I went on an errand run in the morning.
I got my teeth cleaned at the dentist and my car tuned up at the shop.
Dale Carnegie’s self-help classic, How to Wins Friends and Influence People, is quite archaic in its language (consistently referring to women as secretaries, etc.). But it’s a classic because of its timeless tips on how to conduct yourself in social and professional settings to more easily connect with others.
My favorite tip is probably the simplest:
You don’t have to be Donald Trump to love the sound of your own name. Everyone does.
Whether its your nurse, your server, or your mechanic…using someone’s name does several things:
When the two guys were walking around and fixing up my car, I used their names after reading their name tags. Before then, they were asking me routine questions without making much eye-contact. When I used their names, they would basically stop what they were doing and look directly at me.
When I was a server, whenever people would use my name (if they weren’t an asshole), I felt like I wanted to do more for them.
“Hey Dillan?” will always get more attention than “Excuse me sir?”
When you use a stranger’s name, they will very often look pleasantly surprised—as if no one has ever called them by their name before.
This is probably because for most of us, we’ll meet someone, learn their name, and forget it completely after one or two seconds.
That’s because we don’t genuinely care to learn their name in the first place. But if I told you I’d give you $100,000 to go to the grocery store, meet 20 people, and remember all their names…you would do it effortlessly.
Actually using someone’s name—especially right after learning it—is a surefire way to remember it quickly.
Just don’t overdo it. I got pitched by a salesman last week and a typical sentence from him sounded like:
“Dillan, that’s awesome. And you know what’s so awesome about that Dillan…is Dillan, when you told me that…”
Dude, I get it. You know my name.
It’s obvious when people are doing it to appear respectful versus when they genuinely want to treat you like a human being.
Which brings me to the last benefit.
It’s very easy to go about your day and see others as nameless, faceless extras in the movie of your life.
But she’s not Dentist 1 and he’s not Mechanic 3.
Those are humans who have families, hobbies, and anxieties. Treat them as so.
It’s a great habit to get into. And you never know…you could make someone’s day.
For years, I was convinced I had terrible taste.
• Drinking more than one cup of coffee
• Classic novels
• Card games
I remember forcing myself to listen to weird hipster music and painfully spending hours reading books I wasn’t enjoying. All the while thinking, You like this, you’re enjoying this.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t dig these things. I’m just saying that I don’t.
You should always keep an open mind and be willing to experience new stuff, but you can’t force yourself to like something.
It doesn’t matter how much your friend loves this movie. If it doesn’t resonate with you then it doesn’t resonate with you. No amount of explanation or argument on their part will bring you much closer to the love that they feel for it.
A good analogy for this is when I tell people I hate smoking weed—it makes me insecure and diminishes my social skills.
I always get the same response from marijuana advocates (Jesus I sound like a 60-year-old Republican):
You just need to find the right strain.
Yes. I need to keep experimenting with this thing that makes me feel miserable until I like it.
I could just do a little bit once in a blue moon to the extent to which I’m comfortable.
It took me until I was 26 to come to terms with the fact that I simply don’t enjoy most classic novels. That’s okay.
I pick one up from time to time. But I never pressure myself to enjoy it (or even to finish it).
When I was in high school, I would literally play music my friends liked and I hated because I didn’t want to admit that my favorite bands were Blink-182 and Green Day.
Again, fuck that.
Life is too short to read books you hate.
You can be open minded and challenge yourself, but there’s no need to torture yourself with something just because other people love it.
Put on some American Idiot. Open your Harry Potter books. And don’t apologize for the things you enjoy.
I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. If you fucking like something, like it.Dave Grohl
I’m probably hungover this morning.
Happy New Year!
One of my best friends hired me for an online project. I finished it yesterday.
He offered me the gig because he knew I was trying to establish my online business.
When I was done, I thanked him profusely for the opportunity. Then something weird happened.
He brushed it off quickly and thanked me for all my help.
I thought, “You’re thanking me?” That’s when it hit me.
He didn’t hire me because we’ve known each other since preschool. He didn’t hire me because I make him laugh. He didn’t hire me because he was trying to do something nice for a buddy.
All of those played a role in the partnership, but above all, he hired me for one reason:
The 23 hours I worked on this project were 23 hours he and his partner didn’t have to.
I saved them time. I saved them headache.
And they were willing to pay for that. Being friends was simply a bonus.
Friendship is love. But it is also value.
What value do you get out of your friends?
What value do you provide them?
I used to think love was being with someone you needed to be with.
It took me a while to realize that you should instead just be with someone you want to be with.
If you’re with someone you feel like you can’t live without, what will you do if they:
• leave for a few weeks?
• break up with you?
• get sick?
These are not fun to ponder, and they will be incredibly painful no matter what…but they all happen.
I firmly believe that you need to be 100% good to go all on your own first. Then, and only then, should you find a partner who loves and supports you.
Not a crutch. Not a rock. A partner.
Someone who takes you from 100 to 120, not 50 to 80.
Last week, a friend asked me, “What’s the sexiest thing in the world to you?”
My answer: “A woman who doesn’t need me.”
Take care of yourself. Live an incredible life.
Then, find someone who makes it even better.
I can’t remember the last time I sat down to write the blog this late in the day.
I also can’t remember the last time I stayed in bed lazily, had food delivered, and took a nap…all in one day.
An organized and structured life makes me happy and fulfilled. But a little spontaneity and laziness here and there can do wonders for the soul.