My White Padded Vacation

 

My mind is vicious two-faced bitch sometimes.

When I was in my late teens and early twenties I used to fantasize about having some kind of nervous breakdown so they’d lock me up in a mental ward somewhere and all I could do to keep myself busy was play games, smoke cigarettes, stare out the window and look fashionable in a frayed bathrobe. Family members and friends would visit me and vulnerable truths would be admitted and catharses would be had followed by tears and hugs and the idea of starting over from square one with a clean slate was on par with the ending scene to “Good Will Hunting” when, finally, Will leaves his neighborhood friends and job behind and says, “Sorry, I had to go see about a girl.”

Even then, I wanted a break from life so badly the idea of a white padded room actually seemed like a vacation to me.

I remember when I started taking medication in my mid-twenties for bipolar II disorder I thought, Thank God I’m one step closer to the loony bin. Maybe now things will finally slow down. Maybe now I can stop trying so hard to live up to this thing, this fire-breathing dragon that calls itself my Ideal Self Image.

When, like in “Almost Famous,” I finally took my first solo road trip at twenty-nine from New York City to New Orleans I thought, This is it. This is where I’m supposed to be: on the road. This is where life is. I’m present. I’m in it.

“It’s all happening,” Penny Lane says to William Miller over hopeful guitar strumming and the music gently crescendos out as the camera cranes up signaling the end of act one.

I like the ideas of a white-padded room, of starting over with a clean slate or escaping on the road into the vast country wilderness. Or rather, I like what they represent to me: a moment of relief. A place where I can lie down and breathe into the clean air without the heat of the dragon’s breath hot on my neck like an oncoming fever.

A place to stop the constant drone pulsing between the tender folds of my brain tissue at the top of my skull that says I need to be doing something else, I need to be somewhere else, I need to accomplish more; that as I am, I am not good enough.

Tony Robbins has a meditation on YouTube he does with Tim Ferris where he talks about being in what he calls a “beautiful state” and how, in this state, we can solve our problems and live in our days with love and gratitude.

In the meditation Tony walks you through three moments in your life that you can feel immense gratitude for. He asks you to access that gratitude, to walk inside it. To feel what you felt during those moments; the smells, the sensations.

Admittedly, I do feel better after doing this meditation. But that’s not the point I want to make here although I do highly recommend you try this meditation. The point I wish to make is that my moments of immense gratitude are never the images I’m striving so hard to achieve. They never embody that fire-breathing Ideal Self Image I spend so much time paling in comparison to.

In contrast, the memories I have immense gratitude for are those memories I was most present for: Driving across country with a best friend and experiencing each day for all its newness and wonder. Camping alone in Joshua Tree and meditating at dawn as the sun rose above the distant mountain ranges. Jumping in the cold ocean at dawn along the shores of the Outer Banks.

So, is my white-padded vacation an escape from my life? Or is it an escape from the idea of what I think my life should be?

Self Opposition

I want you to see me; but I want to be left alone. I want you to call me; and I don’t want to answer the phone. I want you to knock at my door; and I want to hide under the covers. Invite me to your party; so I can tell you I have other plans. Give me a job; so I can spit in your face and tell you I’m entitled to more. Let me talk to you through a computer; so I don’t have to look you in the eye. Let me forget what it is to be alive; so that I can escape into a lush dream where I can control when the sun sets.

Accepting The Good, Too.

You look great today, She said to me looking upward from the bed, her face peeking out from underneath the covers playfully hiding from the sun.

I feel like a mess, I said back suddenly aware of my unkempt beard and need to run a thousand miles and squat a million squats.

I read what you wrote and I love it, Someone wrote to me over Facebook messenger.

It’s not as good as it could be, I typed back alone in my studio apartment doing my best to block out my neighbor’s vocal warmups while I re-count my rejection letters hoping for Russian interference.

Your photography is great, He mentioned over coffee.

It’s no Steve McCurry, I scoff sprinkling Stevia into my acidic coffee house java that will almost definitely cause digestive problems later in the morning while comparing myself to Nat-Geo’s Insta-feed.

You seem like you’re in a good place, She offered in passing after the meeting enjoying a muffin I silently disapprove of.

Well my car was totaled and I’ve been out of work for almost a year, I mention back followed by one of those emotionless smiles that exist only on the lips, waiting for my ride to quit being so goddamn chatty.

Okay just stop, I tell myself. Let’s try something different today.

Let’s let it in.

The good.

When offered, don’t shun it away. When smiled at, don’t avoid it. When loved, don’t negate it. Don’t pretend like it’s all a lie. They deserve better than that.

Isn’t part of living a good life accepting the good when it comes? I passive-aggressively ask myself.

Okay, I profess with my hands up to myself in semi-faux surrender, I will give it my best today. I’ll let it in.

I will let all of it in.

Is Social Media Destroying My Artistic Integrity?

I admit I had to take a break without knowing if I’d ever come back to writing these posts. I enjoyed it at first, but then quickly found myself checking the WordPress stats all day. I developed a Pavlovian response to the little dings in my inbox that signified a new follower or like; the immediacy of viewership creating in me a dopamine high that is utterly dangerous. It tells me I’m on to something, I’ve figured it out. It’s that feeling when Edmond Dantés discovers the map to his soon-to-be uncovered buried treasure.

I soon found myself trying to hack the system, reading articles that sounded like: Minute-to-Minute Instagram Posting Metrics, How To Gain WordPress Followers and Influence Twitter Trends, So You Want To Be A Blogger? and even watching YouTube videos with tips and tricks that tell you to post at least twice a day, use hashtags, be honest, be yourself, be patient and soon you’ll find yourself with a loyal brand following! I admit that it took no time at all for me to try and write and post what I thought you wanted to read and how best to get you to read it.

And what began as a great feeling quickly became an obsession.

So I stopped and took a breath. This is the civil war that routinely cycles through my body; the war between the mind and the heart; the need to impress versus the need to express; the ego versus the spirit. It is an ancient war and one that doesn’t belong only to me and the problem is: it will happen again. It’s happening right now. Some days I’m aware of it, other days not so much.

So how can I disrupt this pattern?

Is it possible to be completely authentic to one’s own artistic integrity when literally everything can be measured by some sort of statistic? Is it a matter of living in an acceptable ignorance? Is it swearing away social media forever and becoming an eccentric street painter?

There is something that happens to my brain when I see friends of mine getting hundreds, if not thousands of likes on social media. At first I am in disbelief, followed by jealousy and sometimes anger. “Why don’t I have thousands of followers?” I ask myself routinely, “What am I doing wrong? Am I good enough? Maybe I’ll never measure up? They’re lucky because they have [some magical power]. They’re hot and travel the world and of course they’re going to get followers. I just need to find my audience. I just need more time. If I didn’t have to work so much, then I’d figure it out.”

I’m being embarrassingly blunt here, but let’s be honest, can any of us escape the digital rat race at this point? Or am I the only one with an inflamed ego?

What are the questions I need to be asking? Would I write if only I read it? Would I shoot photographs even if I never posted them Instagram? Do I make films because I need to tell my stories or because you might see it? Does creative work have merit on its own, or must everything be subjected to the public shaming of the digital chorus? And why can’t I simply be happy for my friends that have found success in the public forum instead of jealous?

We’ve made great works of art successfully throughout human existence and we still do. Except now we have focus groups.

Addicted to Myself.

Even though I know it, I can’t stop. I’m addicted to it: the image of myself. And even though the image itself is not static but fluid and evolving, I still dig my nails bloody and grind my teeth dull until it makes me sick.

One moment he is a writer somewhere in Westchester wearing an old charcoal cardigan, collecting baby dreads of lint, sitting at an old oak wood desk in the middle of the night tapping away at his typewriter smoking Marlboros and drinking Oban. The next he is a talented writer-slash-director careening down Topanga turns in APC jeans and a black Steve Alan dress shirt and vest helming an entire set of crewmembers and actors destined for top tier festivals and after-parties. And yet he is also a world traveler in cargo shorts and an old plaid short-sleeved button-down, a Nat-Geo freelance photographer living in small villages in South Africa and each photo he’d take would be laced with a thick cream of social justice. And yet still he is a farmer in thrift-store couture watching the sun come up over the mountains in Montana drinking coffee in the early morning standing over his crops and admiring the milky layer of fog between the ground and the horizon.

Someone asked me what I was doing here in California earlier today and I didn’t know how to answer him. I never do. How can I subscribe to one path or ideological destination if even my own ego won’t agree with itself? And how can I possibly make sense of that lack of clarity to anyone else? In my head I often compare myself with other, more “successful” creatives and I wonder if they have a similar fractured understanding of themselves or if they see one clear, concise image.

But maybe yet the question lies elsewhere. Maybe the question is can I transcend those images? Can I let it all go? Can I drop the need to fulfill my ego? To not worry about what you might think of me? Can I not impress you? Can I be imperfect? Can I be messy? Can I always just be “figuring it out?” Can I live without judgement on how I’m living? Can I take me as I am and know that is enough? Can I love that person beyond the constant striving and trying and aiming and goalsetting? Can I look him in the eyes and say, “it’s okay, you’re exactly where you need to be.”

I wonder. I certainly wonder.

Featured image by Joseph Marconi.

Fear.

In March of 2015 I decided to go camping alone in Joshua Tree. I’d just seen “Tracks” (2013) depicting the true story of Robyn Davidson and her solo “1,700-mile trek across the deserts of west Australia”[1] with four camels and her dog, Diggity. Earlier that year I crossed the United States from New York to California — I employed both a car and a friend’s company for the journey — and felt the need to get back on the road. “Tracks” gave me the motivation I needed plus I was in desperate need of some quiet, solitary beauty.

However, in the weeks leading up to the trip, I developed a great fear over the journey. I was heading into Joshua Tree’s backcountry alone for the first time and I had no idea what to expect. I’d camped alone only once before that — along the sandy beaches of the Outer Banks off the coast of North Carolina — and suddenly I felt completely out of my depth.

I imagined all kinds of things. My mind leapt into gear and found this a perfect opportunity to try and scare me out of going. I spent hours deep diving through horror stories on YouTube. I imagined a desert floor crawling with rattlesnakes, tarantulas, scorpions all out to kill me and by the slim chance I didn’t get bit by something I’d surely get turned around somewhere and die of heat exposure and dehydration. They’d find my sun-dried lifeless body a half-mile from civilization and the Rangers would shake their heads, chuckle and say, “City folk.”

And so in preparation I learned how to use a compass[2], what foods to pack, and how much water to bring. I researched the animal life in the area and how to stay away from them. I took notes. I bought maps. I was prepared.

Still, the whole drive out there on I-10 my heart was pounding: Why was I even doing? Had I death wish? How had other people survived this ordeal? What would my movie be called? “18 Hours?” Would Danny Boyle direct it, too?

But then something strange happened.

Almost as soon as I’d entered the park and walked into the welcome center, all that fear I’d had simply vanished. My heart slowed and my vision and breathing returned to normal. I was overcome by the incomprehensible majestic beauty of the park all around me and I’d easily surrendered over to the experience of actually being there, fully present for whatever adventures actually awaited.

My mind likes to tell me life is a scary place when, most often, if I just put my feet on the ground, I can see how beautiful it all really is.

And, unfortunately, I never saw any rattlesnakes, tarantulas, or scorpions.

 

[1] Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robyn_Davidson

[2] By “learned to use” I mean generally how to hold, sight mountains, and get vague directional readings.

Not Today.

Some days are wonderful.

Some days aren’t.

Some days I wake up and I feel the sun on me and I feel connected to something great, finally part of something beautiful. Other days I struggle to make sense of anything, watching helplessly as my mind slips off into oblivion.

I sat here all morning, running through ideas, trying so hard to write something great and well, I came up short.

Some days are just like that I guess.

Some days are just hard.

Let go, I’m telling myself.

But I really don’t want to. Inside I’m like a child throwing a temper tantrum.

Stop trying to make this moment great, a gentle voice says again, just let go and surrender to it. Allow it to be whatever it’s going to be.

Okay.

You win, God.

And so I’m letting go of today’s pages.

I’m going to go outside and smile instead.

Cover Letter.

To Whom It May Concern:

I am formally applying for the position of goat herder within your company. Do you have a company? LLC? I couldn’t find any mention of you on Google. No matter either way as I am still interested.

Unfortunately, I currently do not have any education or training within the field of goat herding but, you see, I’m looking for a new line of work and since I don’t really know where to start, I figured I might as well try to do something that looked fulfilling from a movie I saw once.

Plus I like goats. Or at least I think I do. I think I petted one once at a petting zoo when I was ten and even though that was — years ago it was a defining moment in my formative years I like to think.

Maybe you’re confused as to why someone with my formal corporate training in marketing and advertising — twelve years of graphic design and art direction, an excellent portfolio working for some of the best brands in the business — would want to leave that salary and herd goats?

Well, you see, this isn’t the future I was promised and since, as it seems currently, that all bets are off, I figure I might as well put all my talent and drive into something a little more fulfilling. Something that has a lot of hours outdoors, working with animals, enjoying the elements. Because if I have to sit in a chair for eight hours one more day I’m afraid that I might implode or spontaneously combust and when they’re selling museum tickets to my mummified room and tourists are standing outside just beyond the velvet rope they’ll see a little charred artist’s recreation of me and the Tour Guide will say:

“He never left.”

I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

— J.

 

 

Exercising With Billy Crudup.

Please note, Billy Crudup isn’t actually in this story. He appears only as a post-pop cultural manifestation playing the part of my inner critic.

That being said, I exercised today. Sigh. Finally.

Don’t judge.

Exercise has largely remained illusory to me during my adult career. I am unsure as to why, but I suspect it has something to do with the story I tell myself. Or rather it’s that sinister voice inside my head that sounds like Billy Crudup in Big Fish and loves to use my new favorite four-letter word:

Motivation.

That voice—we’ll aptly call him Billy—comes on gently like an airplane floating blissfully over the horizon.

“How ya doing, buddy?” Billy will ask, smiling that slightly condescending yet encouraging smile of his, as if we both share a secret no one else knows. “Hey listen,” he’ll begin, “I have an idea.”

Ugh that smile, I can never resist. “Tell me,” lathered in a faux enthusiasm perfected from over ten years in corporate America’s luxurious bosom.

“Well,” a Pinter pause, “We’ve been wanting to get in shape for some time now.”

“Yeah?” I say, curiously blending my Bulletproof Grass-fed Ghee coffee in my Magic Bullet Blender.

“And so, you know, I’ve been thinking maybe today is the day.”

“Today?”

That smile again. That grin. Thin lips pressed tightly into the corners of his mouth, eyes as honest as Abe Lincoln, “Today.”

“Let’s do it.”

And cue in Alan Silvestri’s heroic theme music to Forrest Gump as I get ready for the run of a lifetime. “This is it,” Billy continues over the crescendoing orchestra, “This is the day we’ve been waiting for. This is the moment where it’s all going to change. Last year—and all the years prior, I guess—was just leading up to this… very… moment.

“It’s time to get,” here it comes…

“Motivated.”

So off I go dressed in an old pair of running shoes, an unflattering pair of lightweight shorts and a tank top, hurling myself westward down Willoughby Avenue, ready to run all the way to the ocean if need be. For I am motivated. Today is the day I’m going to change my physical fitness status from average to athletic. I’ll alter my metabolism down at the genetic level, maybe even start training for a marathon. All is right with the world and I have Billy Crudup and his smile running right here next to me.

But, as is always the case, Billy gets greedy.

“Hey,” he nudges me halfway into mile one.

“What?” I say, pulling my earbud out and putting my motivational Tim Ferris podcast on pause.

“How about we double it?”

“Double it?” dodging a mine field of sidewalk tents.

“Instead of two miles, let’s do four,” he’s showing teeth now. He means business.

“Four miles?” I ask, slightly concerned.

“You’re right. Fuck it. Let’s do ten.”

“All right Billy. Let’s do ten.”

It’s around mile three that Billy and his goddamn motivation go from an airplane hovering gently over the horizon to a giant jumbo continental airliner screaming at dangerous decibel levels soaring right above me and I realize I’ve gotten in way over my head.

Shit. This always happens. Billy Crudup and his big ideas.

At mile four point one my knee starts to feel as if the cartilage has melted away entirely and the bones are painfully rubbing against each other like sandpaper on my nerve endings and I stop to take a breath and tell Billy to go on, I’ll catch up. Without a second thought I call a Lyft and hightail it back home.

And so tomorrow when he shows up wiping the shaving cream off his freshly shaved face trying, once again, to get me to join in on one of his grandiose health schemes I’ll politely tell him to fuck off.

Sorry Billy Crudup, but I don’t need your motivation today.

30 Days Without Television? Am I Insane? 

I’ve decided this morning that I need to go thirty days without Television.

Well, the idea actually popped into my consciousness during my meditation like a microcosmic big bang[1] so I don’t know that I can fully take credit for such a novel and totally unique idea.

“Why would you ever?” You ask with jaws agape and brows furrowed like Mark Wahlberg beaming judgement upon me from your third eyes, “There’s so much good TV.”

And you would be right.

Even amongst my screenwriter and cinephile friends, “The trends are moving towards television,” they say, “That’s where all the good writing is these days.” Pause, exhale, inhale and finishing with, “Movies are all franchises and superheroes, television is where the stories are. If you’re gonna get a job, I’d look into television.”

And they would be right, too.

And I would be lying if I said I didn’t love television but here’s the thing:

When does so much good television become too much good television?

At what point do trends reach their tipping point and become obsession? Obstruction? Oppression?

I’m truly asking because I don’t know the answers.

***

I stare at a computer screen for a living. It’s what I’ve done my entire adult life. College—just before the social media explosion—was maybe the last time in my life I was able to go a day without looking at a screen. Since then it’s been all-screens all-day-long and now I routinely shuffle between my Macbook Pro laptop, iPhone 7+, and 42” Vizio that I tell myself isn’t really a screen because it’s a television and TV screens have been around forever so that’s really okay. It’s been grandfathered in, I reason.

But then yesterday while doing work on one of the aforementioned screens I had what’s called an ocular migraine. I had to look it up because, although I’d experienced this phenomena in the past, I never knew what the hell was happening. It went down like this:

Suddenly, without any warning, my vision went askew and a jagged bright spot that looked kind of like a circular version of Zeus’s lighting rod appeared in the center of my vision and I couldn’t see anything directly in front of me. I couldn’t read or do my work. It was painless, however, semi-alarming. Google gave me an answer that was sort of satisfactory, but then I started thinking about how most nights, by the time I’m ready to try and fall asleep[2], I’ll have a dull throb behind my eyes where the retinal wall meets the optic nerve. And then, almost predictably, that existential itch arose in the back of my brain:

What if this was more than just an isolated incident?

***

Luke Storey, in his illuminating health and wellness podcast The Lifestylist, talks about eyesight in several episodes. In his interview with James Swanwick, they discuss the effect that blue light (screens) have on our eyes and brains. And in his discussions with Nadine Artemis they talk about the necessary health benefits of Sun exposure, Sun gazing, and even the Sun’s abilities to heal certain ailments.

So what am I getting at?

I’m just spitballing here, but I’m starting to think that maybe we weren’t engineered by nature to sit in front of a screen all day. Is it possible that we evolved as creatures of the sun and the moon and that by denying ourselves that relationship we’re doing damage to ourselves?

I don’t know. But here’s what I do know:

I do know that screens give off blue light and blue light tells my brain that it’s daytime even if it’s nighttime and if I stare at too many screens before bedtime I can’t sleep because my anxiety levels are raised and if I can’t sleep my body and mind aren’t restoring themselves and when I’m not restored I’m tired and when I’m tired I need energy and I can’t focus and my mood plummets and my emotions become volatile and I end up drinking too much coffee and too much sugar adding to my anxiety levels and my head and chest will start to hurt and—

Point made.

***

Okay so let me try and tie all of this together.

I need to earn a living so I can’t stop looking at my computer, and I need to answer the phone when it rings so I can’t eliminate that screen either. At least not entirely.

I can, however, decide not to watch television for thirty days to see what it does. Just as an experiment. I can decide to go outside for that hour and soak up some much needed sunlight or read a book or maybe even have a conversation with someone.

Mostly, I want to do it because I have no idea how I’ll feel after thirty days of unplugging from it all. Truthfully, I don’t even want to do it and I even have a strong, however irrational, fear that says I can’t do it and that it’s simply impossible and I’ll be missing out on life.

These days I find myself averse to all forms of addiction and when I become aware of them I try and build some mindfulness around them. The idea of needing to see the latest episode of Whatever-the-fuck isn’t a virtue I’d like to nurture.

And getting back to that existential itch:

Maybe I just don’t want to be addicted to someone else’s story anymore.

Maybe I’d like to invest that time into my own.

[1] Yes, I’m referring to my ideas as miniature big bangs. No I don’t really understand what the Big Bang theory really is but as a writer I reserve the right to use whatever is floating atop the cultural zeitgeist as I please. In other words, get past it.

[2] Sleep is another topic altogether we’ll discuss at some point in the future.

No More Pills. Meditate.

By twenty-three I was told I had a heart problem and put on beta blockers. I was experiencing uncomfortable palpitations, shortness of breath and extreme anger. I remember the first time during one of my first post-college shit-show jobs at a small company in Stamford, CT. I was in the back lab and I had the thought, for the first time, that everything was wrong. That I was imprisoned and needed to run, that I was literally dying each moment I stayed in that environment. That that job, those hours, were effectively not what they promised me in the American Dream literature during my formative years in (slightly) Upstate New York.

They hooked me up to a holter monitor and for three days I walked around with a little device the size of an iPhone Plus and electrodes taped to my chest where they had shaved the hair away like little crop circles. They called it Wolf Parkinson White Syndrome and told me I would need surgery.

They said they would send a catheter down the artery in my neck and into my heart and they would literally “burn” out a part of my heart and that would “fix” me.

I fearfully opted for a second opinion and never had the surgery.

By twenty-six I was told I had Bipolar Disorder by two separate medical professionals and put on different medications: Seroquel and Abilify. The first made me exhausted, foggy and caused me to gain weight and the second made me feel like I was having tiny little seizures in the fatty layer between my skin and muscle tissue.

I took those for as long as I could to try and save a relationship that couldn’t be saved and eventually stopped taking the meds. I would learn they have that behavior pre-built in the disorder; people with Bipolar Disorder frequently stop taking their medication. I was a semi-self-fulfilling mental disorder.

By thirty, I had realized on my own that the palpitations, shortness of breath and anger was anxiety. To say that panic attacks and anxiety defined my twenties would be an understatement. But I go back and thank God I made it through those years without knowing what I know now.

But I still wasn’t ready to hear what I would hear years later.

I was prescribed Klonopin and Trazodone. One for anxiety and the other for sleep—I hadn’t sleep well in years at that point. Klonopin worked great, especially with Whiskey. Trazodone was like date-raping yourself.

Around thirty-two the anxiety got so bad I had checked myself into the Emergency Room at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, absolutely terrified. I wasn’t necessarily suicidal, but I had no idea what was going on.

Just the voice, over and over and over, This isn’t right.

They sent me to a clinic in Brooklyn because I never have health insurance and a month later, after I’d jumped through enough hoops, I was prescribed Lamictal. Lamictal is an anti-epileptic medication they discovered also treats Bipolar Disorder.

Funny enough, when I asked the Doctor exactly how it treated my illness, she told me straight,“We don’t know.”

I asked her, “Is this something I’m going to have to take for the rest of my life?”

She nodded, “I’m afraid so.”

I won’t lie. Lamictal changed my life for a while. I felt relief I hadn’t felt as far back as I could remember. I remember crying in my apartment in Bed-Stuy thinking this was how the other half lived. This is what I was missing out on.

But of course all Band-Aids wear out and eventually fall off.

By the time I moved out to California at thirty-four I knew, without a doubt, that I needed a different solution. One that didn’t lie in changing my brain chemistry. One that didn’t require me to fill out papers and get governmental approval. One that didn’t pull me out of the fabric of life and lay me out on the slab of cultural conformity.

My problem for so long was that I felt simply wrong.

How could life be like this? I would ask myself every day. I felt so wrong in my inner defiance against the stream that everyone else seemed to be swimming so expertly.

But maybe that inner voice that was screaming was actually helping me. Maybe instead of trying to dull it down and numb it into submission, maybe instead I could simply just listen to it.

“There’s no way I can do that,” was my initial response to meditation. “I don’t have the time,” and “My mind is just way too active, I’ll never be able to sit still,” and finally, “I’m not a fucking monk.”

I told myself every excuse not to try it until one day in early 2015 I simply just surrendered and listened and closed my eyes for twenty minutes.

And a light went on.

Relief.

Within a month I had weaned off of the remaining Lamictal I had stashed from New York and developed a religious Meditation practice. I opened myself up to learning what meditation actually was, and not what I thought it meant. Words like mindfulness, body awareness, breathing, presence, peace, and serenity entered into my life.

I stopped trying so hard to control every aspect of my life.

I learned to stop running and be present for my own life, to experience the emotions I was being given and to stop trying to control them in some irrational fear. I learned to focus on gratitude for the sun that shines through my window each morning and learn the virtue that says I’m exactly where I need to be.

I feel the need to say this is a true story.

I no longer have panic attacks.

I meditate.


Sarah Blondin’s Live Awake project is one of my most frequent listens in the mornings. I don’t always do guided meditations but her voice and musical selections never fail to gently bring me into the mornings.