What makes us keep going, keep showing up for the everyday challenges and fighting for the life we want? 💆🏻♂️🌀🧖🏻♂️🤔
This is where I come from.
Vermont. The Country.
Of simple means. A roof over our heads and food in our stomachs.
But not much else.
A wood-burning stove.
An annual trip to the beach.
Friends who saved me but never knew it.
Terror and Dysfunction [not pictured].
Trauma and loss.
This is not your bedtime story.
Bloated faces, soaked in toxicity.
Is that you, Mom?
Yes, yes it was.
Until she Wasn’t.
The day you left us.
The day I changed.
17 years later.
And it feels like yesterday.
Listen, I gotta tell you something right now. If you’re trying to get someone to like you — someone who clearly doesn’t — just stop. Let that shit go. You’re better than that.
Imagine yourself as a child, how innocent you were, how you just wanted to be loved and seen. Would you want to put that lil guy through the trauma of trying to play with a bully who kept pushing him down? Nope.
I’ve got some news for you: hurt people hurt people. It’s not your job to find out why they’re potentially part of the walking wounded. Keep it moving, bro.
When 90% of your world responds to you with simple kindness and respect, why bother with the other 10% who wanna make you feel less than? Release them in whatever way is possible for your specific situation. And if you still have to interact them regularly, keep it cute, or put it on mute.
Their may be layers of self-hate and pain there. Or not. Again, not your job to discover the “why,” you just need to love yourself through the process of accepting the situation exactly as it is. Which may be very uncomfortable. But sometimes as adults, we have to accept uncomfortable situations, and just get through them.
If you’re used to people responding to you in a certain way, I know it can be hard when someone varies in a negative way. What part of your own ego can you let go of? How can you practice self respect? And when the urge to people-please rears it’s ugly head, please take a deep breath and be okay with an awkward silence or two.
It’s not your job to make mean people feel uncomfortable.
| Puerto Rico, may you mend my heart and soul, recharge me, help heal my grieving spirit, just like you need healing. I know my troubles are thousands of times less than yours. All I can offer is my cosmic energy, tourism dollars, and gentleness for your recovering land. May we be perfect for each other in this moment. 🌅
PSA: Social media isn’t real life. Most of us share the 5% of really great things going on, myself included. But everyone has their struggles.
Mines hiraeth, which is a Welsh word that loosely translates into a longing/yearning for home, maybe a home that never really existed except in idealized fantasies – like a homesickness for a home you can’t go back to because the people who made it home are now gone.
I’m gonna make it tho, because I always do, so don’t worry about me (since I’m roughing it so hard here in this epic beauty lol jk). See you suckers on the mainland Monday 👊🏼❤️
“Most 30-and-a-half year-olds aren’t worried about dying,” I thought to myself at 11:48pm one night, which is officially 48 minutes past my predetermined 11pm cut-off time to not think about heavy shit.
Late-night in my apartment is the only time I feel grounded – it’s [generally] quiet, and I’m usually sipping some insufferable health-conscious hipster beverage, like hot water with sliced ginger and squeezed lemon (on an adventurous day I’ll throw a blueberry tea packet in there). An array of thoughts are zipping through my mind, ranging, of course, from my potential demise to how I can condense my personal and work “Shit to do” list in my IPhone Notes down to less than 10 items (spoiler: never happens **insert eye-roll emoji here**).
As a self-reported experiencer of some heavy shit throughout my lifetime, it’s not unheard of for death to be on my mind. Both of my parents met their untimely death through their chosen poisons: my Mom at 45 and my Dad at 60. My Mom was the worst kind of alcoholic I’ve ever known — and I’ve met a ton of alcoholics in my day — because she was the type to have a handle of Popov next to our living room couch, where she slept the last months of her life, and didn’t go more than a few hours those last few years without taking a long, unflinching swig to stave off the DTs. My Dad was a heavy drinker too — more of a binge drinker — and someone who showed me through example what a 2-week-long “bender” really looked like. He also smoked almost 2 packs of ciggy-butts a day, and even though his drinking was more controlled than my Mom’s all-out assault on her main organs, his death certificate — which I have in my apartment to this very day — still says the word “alcohol” as a primary cause of death.
As I witnessed my life-givers die, it increasingly made me contemplate life, how to derive the most out of each day and my own potential, and shone a huge spotlight on the areas of my life that weren’t 100%. Oh ya, and also made me casually think about the myriad of ways I could die at any given moment. So, I have a few musings that maybe you can relate to…
Give up on your dream…
Ok, I just wanted you to read that for shock value – sorry, you def don’t have to give up on your dream, you just have to give your dream up. Sounds like the same thing, right? Well, since you’re reading my blog, take me as an example:
I moved to New York to be a model when I was 23 and started my journey to become one at 16, so half of my life has been devoted to this gig. I’d do anything (back then) to gain the acceptance of a modeling agency or client. I always thought my body was wrong, wrong, WRONG; I wasn’t striking enough, my skin was bad, I was flabby, skinny-fat, etc., so much so that I abused my body, mind, and spirit to attain whatever unnatural next step closer to seeming perfection I could grasp (which never worked the way I wanted it to, B-T-dubs).
Flash forward to me now: 30 years-old, just shot a 4-page spread in GQ magazine (June issue, ya’ll) and more confident than ever before. I didn’t give up on my dream, I simply gave it up to the Universe, God, The Greater Plan, or whatever the hell is out there. I still am a model; I still go to castings, go to bookings, have a fitness plan, eat right(ish), etc, but it’s not the only gig in town anymore (and never really was as I’ve been a realtor in Brooklyn for 6 years). Bottom line is this: Imma be OK whether this thing works out or not, and I’m not going to stop trying, I’m just going to give up my attachment to a specific outcome.
Be wary of anyone who acts like they know all the answers, tries to fix you, or tells you how to live your life…
So, avoid me… JK, I share from a gentle place of personal experience, only hoping my pain and suffering (such a martyr, I know) can lead to a breakthrough for another soul. I’ve had a lot of people try to tell me the best way to live my life, what I should and shouldn’t do, and sometimes they were right. In my experience, however, sometimes when people talk about their problems, they just need to be heard and not fixed. Trust me, I know: I tried to fix everyone around me, which is insane because that means my crazy ass thought I knew all the right answers, and I’m legit insane, so that’s a definite woof-dot-com moment, whatever that means. Sometimes we have to make our own mistakes, and those who truly love us will be there when we fall (unless, of course, we’ve done something to really piss ’em off in said mistakes…). Basically, what I’m saying is: avoid crazy, toxic, succubus, energy-vampire-type people, who think they know better, and want to give you a “free lesson,” cause nothing is ever truly free.
Forgive yourself first, then forgive everyone else…
I’m fucking pissed at my dead parents and I’m not gonna try to hide it anymore. I know they were sick and all, but it’s like, what the hell – way to totally kill yourselves with alcohol and leave me and my brother here to fend for ourselves. Thanks for making me resent every one of my friends who get even the tiniest bit of help from their parents. Basically, the underlying thought is: WHY ME?!
Who does that negative thought pattern hurt, tho? ME. And my relationships. So, as easy as it is to have a heart full of resentment, that’s not gonna lead me to live my best life. The truth is I want to have people in my life; I want to connect with people, and for the longest time I was so blinded by my own anger and resentment — I stuffed it down so far and tried to hide it, like I was OK — that it only gave me more anxiety and depression and made me sicker. I can’t harm myself that way today, tho.
So, when I get in that funk, I get my gym shorts, go to yoga or a workout class, take a walk, take a damn nap, and hit the restart button. And when I feel that anger and resentment and need an outlet, I have trusted people in my support network to safely vent those feelings to.
Remember you could be dead in an hour…
Are you sure you aren’t going to get hit by a bus in the next hour? Maybe your subway car will get shot up, or North Korea will nuke NYC… I know it’s super taboo and fucked up to talk about, and this might be my PTSD talking from having two dead parents, or the fact that the last 3 weeks I’ve ended each night sipping tea and watching reruns of I Survived, but the reality is we live in an uncontrollable world where terrible shit just happens.
Anything could happen. Is your rage more important than a friendship? Is being right more important than letting someone know you care? Is a job and money worth shattering your mental sanity day-in-and-day-out until you hit the proverbial wall and go live in an agro-cult in Northern California?! Ok, that’s just me (again with the farm cult talk…I’m serious about those leads tho – legit LEMME KNOW dot com).
Is your dream worth putting on hold any longer? Is security and that old story you tell yourself worth playing it safe for, wondering, “what if?” What if I risked it all to be happy/more fulfilled/more in love/ freer?
So, what I want you to get from this is how easy it would be for me — or someone with a different bouquet of shitty life experiences — to end up angry and bitter and playing it safe and small and alone.
It would be so easy.
But we all only get one life (for now – we’ll see what really happens when we die… I’m hoping I get back to that gelatinous cloud of all-knowing light and suddenly remember that this life was all just a blink of an eye in the cosmic, timeless and infinite Universe, then get shot back out to experience another lifetime, completely forgetting this one and starting a fresh experience in this sometimes-painful, beautiful, magical, harrowing, cruel, unfair, lovely, indescribable [but we’ll try] experience this life is, right here, right now, each sequential minute, until we all meet the great unknown).
I hope you find your freedom, happiness, confidence, love, or whatever it is you’re seeking. And when you do, tell us where it was hiding. We’re dying to find out.
“Congratulations! The loans listed on the reverse side of this letter are paid in full. No further payments are required on the loans listed as paid in full. We appreciate your business and wish you success with your future endeavors.”
Wow, thanks, Chase Bank! Mighty cool-a-ya.
“Phew, what a relief” I thought. As a person who came from an economically depressed, rural area with blue-collar parents, when it came time to go to college, I knew I’d be on my own. When my advisor urged me to do a once-in-a-lifetime study abroad program in Argentina my junior year, I knew I had to go. But, already on the wrong side of a Zero Balance, how was I to take that life-changing journey?
With unsecured debt, of course! My Dad used to get the statements each month and tell me, “Myles, you’re gonna end up paying 3 times that loan by the time it’s paid off!” And guess what? He was right. *insert shocked-face emoji*
Life with [a] Zero Balance
So, I paid the motherfucker off. Completely. With the sweat off my back, tears from my eyes, and lots of early mornings and late nights (no, I’m not a prostitute, but I do consider some elements of my job emotional prostitution *insert thinking emoji*)
I’d been paying the minimum payment like a Hedonic-treadmill-running millennial with no end in sight.
“Fuck, Dad was right, wasn’t he?” I thought. “That bastard – probably looking down on me laughing his ass off with that loving and understanding glow of an all-seeing angel, who knows I’m gonna be taken care of beyond my wildest dreams.”
Since I work in sales and entertainment as a 1099 Independent Contractor, my income fluctuates each month. But, after reading the book “Set for Life: Dominate Life, Money and the American Dream” by Scott Trench, I awoke to the opportunity to use my personal power to crush my consumer debt years ahead of my initially proposed timeline. After some careful career transitions, I found myself in a place to swiftly annihilate over 30% of my total debt in one month.
Without going into boundaryless financial details, I made it happen and am continuing on that journey. But all this work mania got me thinking: am I living a Life with Zero Balance?
Life with Zero Balance
What I found as I began producing at new and personally unfounded levels at work was that I was engaging in self-numbing and self-abandoning behaviors that were negatively impacting my life.
I was doing damage to my body, mind and spirit to keep up with the stress of being a highly productive salesperson and regularly booking model. I was a “Yes, Man,” who was coming at the world from a scarcity mentality that said, “there isn’t enough.”
“How can I take a break,” I thought, “when I work in two highly competitive fields where success is like a snowball, which turns into a suffocating avalanche: once you start doing well, you can’t just roll out of it, you have to keep going and going and going and going and going and going.”
Then I thought, “Until WHAT?”
Until I die getting hit by a bus because I’m too glued to my phone to look up?
As a person who’s lost both of his parents suddenly, the ever-present knowledge that any day could be my last never leaves me.
Then, it got me thinking about the consequences of a Zero-Balance Lifestyle:
- Destruction of the spirit.
- Emotional numbness.
- Isolation from loved ones.
- Entrapment in people-pleasing behaviors.
- Active relapse to old, bad habits.
- Complete spiritual resignation.
Who said life had to be so hard? So dismal? So depressing? So empty and meaningless? Just make more and more money, self-destruct and die? I don’t think so.
After all, what will my tombstone say?
“Here lies Myles Ellison: he paid off all his debts.”
Nope. So, what is my solution?
I started the simple-but-not-easy, day-at-a-time journey of putting myself first as much as I can each day. And if that means being selfish, well… *insert shrugging emoji*
How can I let go of the old beliefs and bad habits that feed my inner saboteur?
How can I pay off that debt to myself? I can start slowly, one day at a time, and then when I get the strength and resources, I can take out a whole chunk of it.
As a millennial, I’ve been spoon-fed consumerist culture just like my baby-boomer parents, and my grandparents’ generation before. My grandma used to save everything because, well, she lived through the Depression. My Mom took some of those hoarding characteristics to our childhood home. When I was a kid, we’d have corners of clutter in our house, mostly containing clothes, knick-knacks and Family Circle magazines.
I’ve also inherited the unfortunate belief model of a Linear Life Timeline, one that keeps improving, keeps getting better and better, keeps making more and more money, keeps collecting more cultural artifacts of success to showcase. Until when, though?
Until I’m a 45-year-old addict trying to keep all together, then falling and losing everything?
I don’t think so.
How to Be My Own Solution
- Stop people pleasing. If I need time for myself, I take it.
- Ignore everyone else’s life timeline because most of the “happy people” on social media are struggling with an internal battle in some (or multiple) area/s of their life – I know because I am one.
- Pay off as much debt as I can as responsibly as possible, but don’t screw myself into more unsecured debt just to feel like I’m getting ahead.
- Look both ways before crossing the street and take my face out of the phone. Ya, that one should probably be Numero Uno.
- Make time for the people I love. They could be gone tomorrow.
- If people shame me or lay a guilt-trip on me for sticking to my self-care goals, then I reconsider their role in my life. It’s OK to let people go.
Recovering Adult Orphan
So, here I am, posting a vulnerable, imperfect note for you all to see. Both my parents are dead and I don’t have a trust fund, so it’s just me out here doing my thing. You’ll never understand it unless you live it. My main priority is Living a Balanced Lifestyle. So yes, I want to pay off all my debt, and yes I want to be a millionaire real estate investor, and yes (for better or worse) I still want to be America’s Next Top Male Model, but the beauty is in the journey of becoming.
Thoughts for the day:
- How can I honor myself in mind, body and spirit while still attacking my goals?
- How can I allow grace into my life today?
- Can I say “no” and offer no reasons or explanations when necessary?
- What areas of my life would benefit from Recovery Work?
- How can I laugh, play and have fun in my life today?