It’s been a hell of a year.

I can’t begin to sum up what’s happened over the last year. Between losing my father, my struggles with other issues, it’s been rocky.

With all that has occurred, the biggest thing that has suffered, and most often suffers with single people in my position, is my social life.

It started back when my sobriety started, some 4 years ago, when I distanced myself from my local buddies, college friends, and social acquaintances. I moved away from social time locally here in my state to online. I met friends on Twitter (now X), joined the Fraternity of Excellence, gained new and improved friends all over the map. I even cultivated dates and relationships in my new found groups.

The relationships were always long distance, as I hadn’t done anything locally for years to grow social circles. And the relationships always failed, because they can’t surpass the challenges of that distance. Someone has to move, and I couldn’t. I needed a break. A break from doing dumb shit.

Instead of diving back into the pool, I paused. Rather than pursue another heartbreak, I stopped pursuing. Instead of blindly trying to meet women wherever they were, I pulled back. I caught my breath and looked at what I was doing.

Has this pause been self induced? I could say yes or no. I haven’t dated in two years since my last breakup, a relationship that should never have gone anywhere, but my delusional mind thought that this was the long distance relationship that would work (hint: it never works). I had love-bombed this woman on top of everything else. And an intervention in my fraternity shook me to the fact that I had things in my life that needed addressing, especially when it came to dating and relationships. But then again, I haven’t expelled the effort needed to “get back out there”, merely opting for excuses as to why I couldn’t, or in this case wouldn’t, pulling every reason out of the book to not go back out and meet new people.

As with every other article I’ve written about taking a self sabbatical, every time I’ve withdrawn to “monk mode”, every time I’ve called a time out to “get myself together”, I’ve stayed on the sidelines, hoping for the right moment to jump back into the game, only to see the season’s over.

There’s a point where monk mode becomes an array of excuses, a point where MGTOW becomes a cage of your own making, all because you don’t want to get hurt again. All because you’re scared to put yourself out there, because you value judgements of people who have no impact on your life.

This is the ultimate comfort zone for people. “Working on yourself”. I’ve been there for two years, waiting for the train to slow down so I could jump on it.

It doesn’t slow down. You have to jump and take a risk.

But for us risk averse individuals, this could be as daunting as staring down a river full of rapids that could potentially kill you.

And so the pause button keeps getting hit, because you don’t want to see what happens next.

I think it was Alex Hermozi who said “The pain of staying where you are has to be greater than the pain of making a change. Only then will you make a move.”

And it’s true.

This is not saying that the major life events that I’ve experienced in the past two years should have been ignored. They obviously played a role in my decision to put my social life on hold. My company needs me to be front and center at all times. My kids need a strong, connected father. My family needs a patriarch. But imbedded in that role, is the role of a man who is looking for his significant other, and that needs air play as well.

So as the pain of staying where I was in this vice has been greater, I’ve been putting myself out there, albeit very slight. I joined a yoga studio. I’ve been more accepting of time with good friends. I’ve been working to find other activities to join where potential women that I want are present. It’s not just about meeting women, it’s also about meeting people, expanding connections, and growing my network.

And it’s not that I’ve not met any women, it’s that the women are not the women I want. So I have to change my strategies and get out there to experience all that life has to offer, even while gritting my teeth to get through the struggles I still endure.

Personal strength is the ultimate multi-task. You have to try shit you don’t want to to meet people you would potentially like to date. It signifies squirming and exhaling to get yourself through the toughest parts. That on the other side of that sick feeling in your stomach is the promised land you so desperately want in your life.

So that for me means more yoga sessions with people I don’t know. That means looking at dance classes, cooking classes, and self defense classes. Church? Maybe, but I’m not ready to cross that bridge.

It means growing my expertise while I’m growing my circle.

The pause means nothing if you do nothing during it. The pause isn’t a pause if you wait too long to make a move. The pause is meaningless if you don’t take advantage and help yourself.

I’m most certainly further and better than I was two years ago. Did it have to take two years? Most certainly it did not.

The pause button is there for you to press if you want a break, collect your thoughts, absorb what you’ve learned. It’s meant to be momentary, not forever. That’s what the stop button is for.

So, my new goal is to unpause, hit the play button, and see what happens.

I hope men who are in my position do the same.


Photo credit: Tiny Buddah

I quit.

I did.

I walked away because I thought it was too hard.

And it’s still eating away at me.

6 months ago, after my father’s death, I made a proclamation, that I was going to do a 50k run. Keep in mind: I’d never done a run. Hell, before November, I’d never even run a mile.

So I started training for it.

I was listening to “Can’t Hurt Me” by David Goggins. I bought into the hype a bit, I thought, even if I’ve never run a marathon, half marathon, the longest event I’d ever done was walking a 15 mile Spartan Beast in 2016, and I had teammates to help me. Sure I’d done plenty of 5k races, but I’d walked them.

This was all new. This was something difficult to me, maybe too difficult. But I had to prove something to myself (as I often said to myself in the mirror).

I took all of my doubts and started to swallow them. I got to work to try and prove people wrong that I couldn’t (nay, shouldn’t) do a race of this caliber.

Within the first two weeks, I had run a mile in 12 minutes, then 10 minutes, then I had strung together 2 consecutive miles. I chronicled what was going to be a challenge

Then a month later, I had 4 miles, then 5 miles. But I still had 26 miles (a full marathon) to work through. The most miles I had run after three months was around 6. I started to get frustrated, then scared, then life got in the way.

Business life, personal life began battling for my time, and it wasn’t any contest. My training took a back seat, it had to, with so many issues coming up with family, business, and personal, it didn’t stand a chance. And moreover, I was doing this alone. I didn’t have the accountability I needed to have. I called them reasons, but let’s be honest, they were excuses. I tried to press on anyway.

The last day of training, 2 months until race day, I managed to kick out 8 miles at a 12/minute mile pace. I still had to do nearly 4 times this…and as the days piled up that I didn’t lace up, the Run With Hal app crying to me that I needed to get double digit mileage runs piled up to even be close to being ready, and, as I approached the one month marker, I had a decision to make. I wasn’t able to get out to train, I wasn’t ready, and I wasn’t going to be able to do the race.

So I made the call. I quit. I told the world that I did. It was met with nothing more than a “see, told you he wouldn’t go through with it.”

I saw David Goggins calling me a pussy. He was right. I made a goal and didn’t follow through. I’ve done this a lot in my life, making bold goals, then falling short or quitting if I think I’m not even going to get close. With bold goals, I’ve had help. I’ve had support. I didn’t reach out to the folks I needed to. I felt I had to do it alone, and it made the goal that much more insurmountable. My mind was the enemy, just as it was while I was training in the winter on treadmills, stopping to walk when I needed to push myself to run.

And like that, I was done. I didn’t know what to do. So I started to figure out what went wrong and what I needed to do to overcome this mindset that was consistently bogging me down.

At Least You Tried…

Maybe they’re right. Maybe the doubters win. But they aren’t out here trying to do this shit. They’re the ones sitting at home commenting on my FB post of being ass cold in my winter gear jogging in the snow.

They’re on Twitter telling me I’m not going to do it because I’m not running outside enough.

But they were right. I failed. I set the bar too high. I was hyped to be able to do something that maybe I didn’t think through.

But here’s the thing…I’m out here TRYING, dammit. While many can easily throw insults, doubts, or other obstacles down, I am out here trying. And trying is going to always be better than doing nothing, which is what may of your haters are doing.

Yes, results matter. But also, you get results when you are trying to get them. Sometimes, the only thing you can do to improve your lot in life is to TRY.

After making the call to pull out of the race, I felt horrible.

I felt like I had let all the people down who were rooting for me. I felt like the haters were going to descend upon me laughing about how I wasted my time and should be happy I quit, because it was too hard. I felt the gazes of those who I inspire, shaking their heads and telling me they’ve given up because I gave up.

But you know what I found out?

The only one that gave a shit….was me.

No one else cared. Sure, people were rooting for me, but they also didn’t understand the situations that I was engaged in, they aren’t me, nor will they ever be. I had to make a tough call where I had to weigh the personal issues I was having with my training.

When it comes to importance, my family and career have precedence over the training. I needed to man the a post in my personal life, and it took away from my training. I knew this, and so I made the call.

I got a ton of advice, was seeking out someone to help me order this stuff in my life, when I knew damn well how important things were and where then needed to be. I was afraid of quitting. Because I was told there was no justification for it, regardless how much is going on in your life.

But people who often say this will sacrifice anything and everything for the goal. The goal becomes an obsession, and it takes away from every other aspect of their lives, so other sectors of their life suffer, family, friends, relationships, career, etc.

The key, as always, is balance. And I wasn’t going to be able to pull off this balancing act. And I knew it.

But why did I need justification to do something that was justified?

This was the crux of the storm in my mind.


Much of my life, follow through has been a problem.

Hell, just weeks ago, I was in a Tough Mudder and wanted to quit two of the obstacles. It took men helping me get over it to understand that this has been my modus operandi for much of my life.

I start, but don’t finish. I find justification for quitting.

It’s something that many people struggle with. And it’s what keeps many from realizing their true potentials.

I still have the fear of my old self inside of me, even though I have done some pretty amazing things.

The default was always flight. The default now is a mixture, and there are situations that still flummox me because I haven’t done enough to overcome the doubt. But then I think about all the times I did overcome the doubt. It takes time, which is why I will finish with this story:

When I was tipping the scales at 308 lbs, I wanted to lose the weight, but the motivation wasn’t there. I stopped and started a multitude of times, giving up when I probably could have made a breakthrough.

When I wanted to lose weight and go to the gym, I quit often. I would drive my car intent on going to the gym, but went home and ate bad food. When I should have been cooking at home, I ate out and ate badly. I felt sorry for myself often.

Mind you, I did this for years. DECADES.

I always made excuses for not doing it. Then, after years of trying, one day, it finally clicked. I started going religiously. I decided to change my diet and cook more, I stopped drinking soda, eating out, and decided to track my macros. I hired coaches to help me with accountability. This was an evolution that took years to manifest.

And one thing about this evolution, it was the trying that got me over the hump. Look, I’m not going to do hundred mile races or thousands of pull ups like Goggins. It’s not fair to expect that of me, let alone anyone else. But I do have to push myself to be better, and that may be instant or it may take time.

Either way, quitting made me reconsider the goals I was setting. Were they too high? What could I do that was hard, but not overwhelming? So I decided to fix that and make a goal I could make.

After I got back from the Tough Mudder, I had noticed that a big weakness of mine was walls. I needed to do body weight exercises and pull ups and pushups were the best way to go.

So I developed a pyramid where I started at 50 pushups and 5 pullups and added 25 pushups a day and 1-2 pullups a day over 30 days.

At the pinnacle, I would have to perform 700 pushups and 35 pull ups in a day. I knew it would be difficult, but I also knew that I could do it.

And I did. I chronicled my pushup and pull up journey on my socials and I hit the goals.

Sometimes, you need some confidence by setting smaller, more manageable goals to get you to the bigger dream.

Look, I don’t want to do Iron Mans. I hate running. I don’t want to do marathons. I needed to be honest with myself on what I wanted to improve in. If you hate doing something, why make it a goal? I enjoy obstacles, I enjoy shorter OCR races. I need to be stronger with my body weight. So I re-focused on something that I could do, something that would make me better where I wanted to be better.

And I’m better for it. I’m not going to beat myself up anymore trying to do things that I have no interest in doing in the name of goals.

What specific goals do you want to achieve? Then set out a plan to achieve them, bit by bit.

Eat the elephant if you want, but stop worrying about how fast and how it looks to others. This is your life, your goals. Go at them as hard as you can, but don’t get disappointed if you don’t get there as fast as others want you to.

The Drought

It’s been quite an eventful 18 months of no eventfulness for me.

I said it to another man the other day, very nonchalantly. “I haven’t enjoyed to company of a woman for sometime.”

Pathetic right? I’ve been on one date since my last almost relationship died in September 2021. And it wasn’t even with a woman I was attracted to, just a date just to say I had a date.

And, get this, it’s been on purpose.

When I first started this blog, it was to learn game, pick up, and the art of being an attractive, socially adept man dating after divorce.

I had success, becoming better with women, having abundance, but as my blog has evolved, it showed me that abundance in women meant emptiness in myself. I would date anyone with a pulse because there is and always has been the drive by society to say if you aren’t dating, then you are a loser.

So why in the hell would I want this? There’s more to the story below.

These days, we seem to have quite a few “losers” out there, including myself. A study by my alma mater, Indiana University, shows that 33% of men ages 18-24 report having no sex in the past year. I don’t know if there are studies for 40 something men out there, but as a man who’s living it, I have quite a bit to say on the subject.

We are seeing men in general reporting no dating and no sex. Women’s numbers have gone up slightly, but women aren’t taking the brunt of these numbers like many men are. We’re seeing an epidemic of sexlessness, and there doesn’t seem to be a solution in sight.

I watched Rollo the other day talk about hook up culture. He stated, “Hook up culture is alive and well for most women, and the top 20% of men”, but that leaves 80% of men out in the cold and we are seeing a precipitous rise in men who aren’t having any sex. And hook up culture is about the survival of the hottest.

Now I could go on and on about the causes. It could be societal shift to female dominated sexual dynamics, it could be the entitlement many women have when it comes to dating, it could be hook up culture, it could be many things. Myself and the Man-O-Circle have gone around and around on who’s to blame. Hint: It’s everything.

I’m writing this blog today to talk about it from this man’s side and what I am seeing that is holding men back from the dating market, either real or imagined, and what is going through my head on why I am intentionally not dating at the moment, and haven’t been for the last 18 months.

Does this make me a Volcel (voluntary celibate)?

The Reality

“How is a tall, attractive, successful single father not dating any women for a prolonged period of time?”

I’m certain I could make excuses up the wazoo.

My industry / career, my parenthood, lack of time to go out and meet women, where I live, my family time requirements, not religious, etc. It could go on and on forever and the excuses could pile up. You certainly can call me a loser for not going out more, as I’m always coming up with a reason to not. The point is, I’m not alone. There’s a whole shitload of people who would rather do anything but date. Younger men aren’t because it’s not as important as Call of Duty, hanging with friends, work, career, and as years pass it continues to slide down the list.

Social circles are shrinking, the ease of apps are addictive, the hopelessness is palpable.

And the message is the same for many singles I’ve spoken with in many different age groups. “Dating Sucks.”

To the 22 year old woman who says, “All it is is a meat market, and hook ups.”

To the mid-fifties divorcee women: “I don’t want to waste my time on men who are ready for a commitment.”

To the mid-thirties man: “It’s like a shitty game of musical chairs and rather than wait for the music to stop, I just left the room.”

To the mid-thirties woman: “Why go to all the trouble when he won’t commit to you? It’s getting my hopes up for 6 months only to have him cheat or get bored and leave.”

To my fellow mid-40’s single father: “My time is important. And I waste it on the dating apps, waste it on women I don’t find attractive, waste it on getting ghosted after having a good time, waste it on flaking, lying, and trying hard for an ROI that, quite frankly, is lousy.”

To the early 40’s Christian woman: “Younger men don’t want me because they want kids, and they’re too immature. Older men want younger women, and I don’t want a 60 year old man. I’d love someone my age but it seems every single one of them have issues. Not to mention I want a man who shares my faith.”

The stories and comments are an interesting look into what everyone is seeing in a dating market that is most definitely for the “haves” versus the “have nots”. And people like myself and many of the folks above, those who would be willing to date as long as it’s someone who remotely fits what we want out of a partner, would rather hold tight and focus on other aspects of our lives.

Dating gets forgotten and put on the back burner first and foremost because, let’s be honest, it isn’t fun any more.

In my time blitz dating three years ago, many of the matches I had had more issues than Sports Illustrated.

So, in a vain effort to not be seen as a loser, I decided to “date just to date”, not excluding anyone due to attractiveness, figure, salary, mental issues, etc. And it was an absolute dumpster fire. Serial ghosting and flaking, entitlement, and drama met me when I decided to swipe right on everyone who was at least halfway decent. I had traveled the country to meet women from all over, figuring it “was” a numbers game, right? The more women I get in front of, surely one or two will separate themselves from the crowd?

And when a few did? I was lied to about their relationship status (I was the other man several times), catfished, and had long distance relationships that I couldn’t possibly keep alive due to my status as a single parent with two kids and my home being here in Indiana.

With all the work I put into dating….I was exhausted after 2021. The MGTOW battle cry of “the juice isn’t worth the squeeze” harangued in my head.

So, I did the only thing I knew to do. What many people in this modern dating world are doing.

I pulled back.

I needed to do certain things involving improving my physique, health, parenthood, and family life. When my father passed away last November, I felt I had done those things better. My dating life took a back seat, after4 years (and a pandemic) of being the highlight. I got my jollies, I got to date, but I felt more empty that I ever felt, more pessimistic about my chances of finding a woman to be in my life, and wasn’t looking forward to starting up dating again, if and when things were handled in other parts of my life.

The issue here…things will never be handled. There’s never a good time to start, and it was time for me to at least try again to get out, so since December, I’ve been doing small things to get myself out and at least start meeting women. Even if it was to give my number to a server, or to go out and be friendly at new places, it’s a task I am taking great care with who I share my time with, or even who I approach. The “YOLO” and “you should be getting your dick wet” crowds continue to harp on that a man in the prime of his life should be going out and pounding everything that moves. But I submit this:

I’ve already chased pussy. That game is old for me. And while many men would never tire of it, I got tired of the drama, the juggling of women, the slashed tires, the showing up at my house in the middle of the night with my kids home threatening harm, the 3AM booty calls, the annoying calls at work, all of it.

I’ve had it, I don’t want it any more. And I value my time, and the time for dating gets cut because I’ve got other shit going on. Once again, not an excuse, but it is what it is. I have no interest in wasting my time, nor does anyone else in the same dating game as I am.

The Other Reality

Dating too often takes a back seat because….many people aren’t good at it. My dating in 2018 -2021 was Twitter, Tinder, Bumble, and the countless networking events I went to that generated dates, but nothing long term. The problems were many because it doesn’t allow for much long term connections, good conversation, and most were just looking for the quick hit, the spark, and if it didn’t happen, then a – ghostin’ we’ll go.

Dating is a chore because we treat it that way. We expect it to just be “done” and when it isn’t, it’s a drag on our whole life because we don’t want to do something that isn’t comfortable.

I haven’t been with a woman for a year and a half because I didn’t want to get hurt again, I didn’t want to rush in again, I didn’t want the same ending that has befallen me for so long. So I avoided it. So I put other things ahead of it. And I just accepted, as a pissy martyr, that I was destined to be alone.

We make excuses because we either have work to do on ourselves to be attractive again, or we don’t want to do the work to get attractive again. Because it stresses us out if someone rejects us. Rejection sucks, and no one wants to go through it.

I’ll admit I fell back into all of these things because I didn’t want to go back to the grind that was 2018-2021.

I wanted a long term relationship, and it meant having to “get back out there” which is a heavy lift for anyone, but more so for me because I, as of this writing, have never had a successful relationship. A lot of self doubt builds up because I haven’t circled this square. And I’m sure many people are struggling with these issues in their own lives, another reason why many of them are so timid to get back out and try to meet someone.

But lifelong failure doesn’t mean you stop trying.

My self-manufactured scarcity has been on purpose, because the people who I’m attracting at the moment aren’t the people I want. I could have easily gotten into dozens of “situationships” over the past two years but I have standards, I learned from 2019 that I also value my time, and from my divorce I learned that I won’t settle.

I stop watering the plants because I didn’t like the ones that were growing. The drought is self made. And it’s not out of self pity or helplessness, but the plants around me aren’t worth watering. But I have to go and get new seeds and water them.

It’s so much easier to blame so many other things than the fact that you don’t have the balls to get back out and find that person for you.

And that’s where I was for so long, until I realized that it wasn’t going to build itself.

So, in the midst of this self made drought, I have decided to go and get some water and try to find some better seeds.

It’s been deliberate, however. Not getting onto Bumble / Tinder or the online game. But trying different options, like things I enjoy, the gym, classes, hobbies, and adventures. This isn’t going to be a pickup session at a bar or a club. This is going to be me, finding my joys, and finding other people who enjoy those things as well.

The excuse making has to stop for the millions of dateless, sexless men and women in our world right now. But these people also have to make themselves better so their dating is better. But always putting off the fact that you aren’t doing well in dating because of what YOU are doing is the mirror many people need.

Yep, even me, the retired single parent ex-PUA.

It’s time to unretire and take a sip of the water. The taste of bitterness of not having a successful relationship is gone. It’s the cool taste of being the best man I can be, and finding the best woman for me. Use that water to grow relationships.

I will have a successful long term relationship.

No more excuses.

The Curious Case of Atticus Finch

“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.” – Atticus Finch

One of my favorite books of all time is To Kill A Mockingbird.

Harper Lee’s classic is still taught in schools today, and resembles a very hard look at how we used to be as Americans concerning race. So many threads permeate this book, including perceptions, perspectives and how to listen to them, the socioeconomic toll of racism, the dangers of not thinking critically, and many others.

For this particular blog post, I’m going to be looking at the most popular character of this book and what he stands for. I am going to examine the masculinity crux of what Atticus Finch represents in terms of what makes a man masculine. Does might make right? Does mindset determine what makes a man a man? I will be using historical references, especially Rome (because it’s me) and discussing why “alpha and beta are contextual” (as Rollo has stated) and a one size fits all attempt to box in masculinity will only leave men with more questions.

There is a steady thread in this book that truly defines Atticus as masculine, even if he comes off in the book as a “Beta”, as many men have stated he does.

Atticus is a lightning rod for debate and has been co-opted by several movements seeing themselves as the group he was fighting for in the book. But I believe not only has he been unfairly ridiculed and chastised, he has also been unfairly propped up for being a symbol of other movements that he would not agree with.

For the time, he was a new type of man that had never really been seen before, or as Rome dubbed any man who was the first in his household to be in the Senate, novus homo, or “new man”. A man who wasn’t about brute force but about brute will. Yet a man that more than likely couldn’t win a fight, too weak to punch back, and too timid to step forward.

He is many times seen as “weak”. He doesn’t fight back when confronted with violence. His supposed weakness in allowing his kids to be attacked in a situation where he was powerless. His dealings with the gang trying to lynch Tom Robinson, etc.

He is called into account on several occasion and he doesn’t respond the way a “typical” man would.

Also, remember that Atticus’s behavior is seen through the eyes of Scout, so we have to take into account these things are filtering in through her perspective.

So what’s the rub here? Is Atticus Finch, one of the central characters in this book, a weak man? Or can we see that his actions indicate a man of integrity, honesty, and truth?

I won’t try to answer any of these questions. This essay is being written to simply have the discussion about what makes a man masculine, why might may make right or not, and why, while violence is the ultimate yes or no answer, it’s not so black and white and as we have seen throughout history, non-violence has moved mountains that the strongest man couldn’t move.

As with everything, there is nuance that needs to be addressed here, and my job is to facilitate discussion over a man who has stood for so much, yet been chastised for it as well. Yes, I tend to agree that he is very masculine, in fact more masculine than the biggest fighter or strongest warrior, simply because his will is iron, and his convictions are his weapons.

It also raises questions about other male characters in the story, like Boo Radley, and what they would be considered in terms of masculinity. I love exploring this subject and anything I can do to talk about one of my favorite books is always a welcomed task.

Atticus is much maligned for being a weak individual. He doesn’t fight, doesn’t brag, doesn’t get upset, very rarely raises his voice, and generally lets men stronger than him do the work. With Miss Maudie’s house, when it catches fire, he doesn’t help very much, with Tim Johnson where he consistently swears off wanting his kids to see him use a rifle, to being powerless when Bob Ewell attacks his kids. His kids see his discipline as passive, and he reads instead of being active.

He doesn’t retaliate when he’s spit on by Ewell. He doesn’t get upset with his children when they disobey him. He’s much too even keeled to have an effect on a situation, and he consistently blames his age or his weakness on things that he can’t do.

Especially in the first few chapters, he is what many in the sphere is the quintessential “beta”, a man who is weak physically, avoids certain situations, and doesn’t take control. From the perspective of Scout, Atticus could very well be seen this way, and what’s great about the book is that as it goes on, Scout’s perception becomes different as Atticus reveals more of who he is.

Novus Homo

In the book, Atticus Finch is a lawyer, father, and state representative in the Alabama congress. He is an older man, having had his kids later in life and having lost his wife, Atticus, along with his house keeper Calpurnia, raise Jem and Scout (and sometimes Dil).

The first questions arise with every interaction Scout has with Atticus. Is he a masculine man?

Atticus, in many ways, is very stoic. He is a part manifestation of what Marcus Aurelius would have been, and we’ll be talking about Marcus later as well. He doesn’t raise his voice to his kids, in fact, his parenting style is seen as disapproved by the other townspeople, as well as his sister, Alexandra. He raises his kids in a very masculine way, simply because he is very straight forward, direct, but not necessarily too strict. He understands his masculine fatherhood has an effect on Scout and he brings in Alexandra towards the end of the book to help raise Scout to be a “proper girl.” Atticus believes in education, he is well read as are his children (sometimes socially to their own detriment), and his ways are not questioned to his face, even when his sister tries to gain some control over the house, he quietly places his boundaries.

If you have read this classic, you’ll know that several times in the book, Atticus tends to downplay his talents, his role to his kids. Scout and Jem many times ask what the hell their father does, whether anything he does means he’s a man, let alone a strong man, and for several chapters, question if what he does as an attorney, as a state representative (as they hadn’t seen anything else), and as the story unfolds, they slowly discover the type of man Atticus is. His masculinity is put into question early and often by Scout and Jem as they discuss what he does. The scene with Atticus and Tim Johnson (the rabid dog) gives his kids a glimpse of what kind of a man he is, and witnessing Atticus (who is known as the best shot in the county) changes Jem dramatically. He begins to truly respect his father and sees exactly what he does. Atticus’s actions through the rest of the book only galvanize Jem’s respect for him.

Through their interactions with him, they discover their father is a man of character, a man of honor, and a man of immense courage. The interactions with the gang trying to lynch Tom Robinson, and the bravery that Atticus exudes when faced with potential violence, even potentially sacrificing himself to protect Tom. The example I can think of is Ghandi, who’s use of non-violence changed India and granted them independence from Britain. Britain, just like the gang, could have used violence to get what they wanted. However, the cost of that violence would have cost them more than they could have imagined. Ghandi’s death at the hands of the British, just like if Atticus had been killed or beaten by the mob, would have done greater damage to the situation. Many of these men were Atticus’s friends and acquaintances, he knew these men. He knew their families, and with his kids by his side, he faced down the mob and won.

It was the same when confronted with Bob Ewell. Atticus was confronted by Bob Ewell because he had the temerity to defend Tom against a dishonest attack. As we see many times in the novel, Bob Ewell is the anti to Atticus’s pro.

Atticus Finch isn’t going to overpower anyone with violence. He’s powerless in the one part of the story where lethal violence is attempted. Boo Radley, on the other hand, was the one who used violence to stop Bob Ewell and help save Atticus’s kids. But he is a recluse, and we only ever meet him once, while he stays in the background until he is needed to save the day.

And let’s not forget the crux of Atticus in the story, that of standing up to racial bigotry. That alone qualifies him as masculine. He stood, alone many times, for something he believed in, through threats of violence and bullying, to try to defend Tom Robinson.

Ultimately, a man’s masculinity is determined by what he stands for, how he stands for it, and how he carries himself in pursuit of it. And even in the face of death, a man standing for something he believes in ultimately is the purest form of masculine power.

Historical Comparisons

I love to do historical comparisons of fictional characters because it makes me very happy to try and draw lines on strengths and weaknesses that these two groups of people have. And what better way to compare than with Rome.

Atticus reminds me a ton of two famous Roman Emperors, Augustus and Marcus Aurelius. He really falls in line with Augustus, who we have historical records on as being very weak and sickly. Augustus however, while lacking in physical strength, had incredible charisma, as well as strategic and political powers that were well above the average. He maneuvered his way through tough Roman politics and faced down enemies with ruthless efficiency. But, he could not have done what he did had it not be for Marcus Agrippa. He provided the brawn to Augustus’s brains. Augustus would certainly not have had the long reign he had were it not for the army he controlled. But also, remember, in order to control the armies, you have to earn their respect. And Augustus did this in spades, through his portrayal as the “princeps” or “first citizen”. His charisma made him larger than life. Without that, Augustus would never have graduated from Octavian.

Marcus Aurelius is another comparison, simply because “the philosopher emperor” is such a huge draw for men studying stoicism and the effects he has one it. Truly, Atticus is just trying to live his life, do his job, and be magnanimous in his dealings. Marcus could fight sure, but his strength was in his command, as well as his philosophy. He commanded armies because of his calm, steady, and even handed leadership.

What’s funny about history, is that many of the most powerful men in it’s annals haven’t been able to be physically gifted or had the ability to fight well. Look across the spectrum and you’ll see even the most powerful men like Genghis Khan, Mao, and Napoleon were not your typical warriors, had to make deals with other tribes /leaders / countries, and couldn’t overpower enemies unless they had cunning, skill, and ruthlessness.

None of the men in “To Kill A Mockingbird” are overwhelmingly what would be called “masculine”. I think Lee goes out of her way to make that very apparent. She draws her masculine through the eyes of Scout, and Scout’s prism filters even very tough, masculine men with a hint of subtlety, bringing out their feminine sides.

At the beginning of the story, the weak are supposed to be Atticus and Boo, but in the end, it’s those two that make the story through their actions. Atticus with his iron will, and Boo with his timing and humility. It’s not enough to just be strong to be masculine. And I think Lee makes this very apparent. The crescendo of how these two men go from perceived weak to perceived strong with respect is always a funny arc that Lee paints.

In conclusion, would Atticus be compared to our most masculine men these days? Would he be a Jordan Peterson, Scott Adams, or would he be a Donald Trump, a Joe Biden, a Vladimir Putin, etc?

I leave that for you to ponder and discuss.

In my mind, Atticus makes up for his physical weakness by his almost indomitable will. He stands for what he stands for, because he believes it to be right, and men have shaped worlds with that attitude. Yes, violence is the ultimate answer, but charismatic, directed violence, as well as a unrestrained strength in the face of it, is also an answer, and more often than not, especially in the historical references, men who have the capability for violence are merely pawns in the chess game of men who understand the importance of violence as an answer, but also the importance of a strong will.

Without the will, violence is just violence. With the will, violence and even non-violence become much more effective tools.

Violence can only answer true or false questions in a world full of multiple choice, and as Atticus showed us, he can be threatened with absolute violence and still come out ahead in the end.


A black and gold birthday balloon shifts back and forth in the balmy wind on this rare, warm early November evening. The trees are almost bare, with a lush mixture of oranges, reds, browns, and yellows at their feet.

The birds, still talking up a storm about how fall’s forgotten about them, sing and chirp without end. Cars motor off in the distance with unknown inhabitants heading to their unknown locations. Just another day in a world that keeps ticking forward, minute by minute, driven by the ever onward passage of time.

The outdoor furniture, once filled with people laughing, joking, smoking, and drinking, either after a pool party, the holidays, or just one of the “too damn many to count” family gatherings on any afternoon in this beautiful house on the south side of Indianapolis, lies empty, with the only movement being the stink bugs on the window, or the aforementioned balloon, heaving from side to side as the wind pushes it right then left, as it gazes down upon the driveway, then the back porch, and then finally the leaf covered back yard.

For 20 years, this house has been the centerpiece of my family. Graduations, weddings, holidays, birthdays, the happy times and sad ones, all the gatherings, all the tree decorating, pumpkin carving, unwrapping of gifts, meals in the kitchen, either ad libbed pitch ins or planned feasts, happened here. And one thing was always the same…my father watching over the festivities.

He was there for all of it, watching over what he had built, the good times he fostered, which makes this blog all the more hard to write.

I lost my father on November 4th.

The morning calls as I stopped by at my parent’s house in early every week as he sat in the garage smoking his cigarette and reading his paper, calling for the dogs to come in, sipping his black coffee with two Sweet N Low packets, while an electric space heater buzzed in the back ground fill my memories.

But this morning, as my car pulled up with my older sister and aunt in tow, there wasn’t anything but silence, tears, and sadness.

It won’t ever be the same without him.

He grew up on the north side of Indianapolis, an area now known as Castleton, which now is a gigantic shopping center, but at his time, was a series of corn fields with a large white farmhouse in the middle of it all knows as the “House of Blue Lights”, named so because it would always keep small blue electric candles in the windows.

He and his younger sister, Linda, would play together all of their days, thick as thieves, until the family decided to move to Franklin, IN. My father attended high school there in the small county seat of Johnson County. At 15, his youngest sister, Judith, was born. He ended up going to college for a couple of years and decided to follow my grandfather into the freight business.

Grandpa worked on the railroad after he returned from the war, and my father had a knack for freight sales, so he decided to go into trucking. As with many things my father did, sales came naturally to him, with his bright smile, his infectious laughter, and his beaming personality.

He exceled at his job, and loved it as well, which is difficult to find for any person, let alone someone in trucking.

As he married his first wife, Barbara, he had three children with her, and during deregulation in the 70’s, where the government got out of the transportation business, he went from job to job looking for a stable environment. It negatively affected his marriage and it landed him in divorce court.

After a contentious divorce, Pop was suddenly a single father of three kids. Yes, it was his own mess, and yes, he did make bad decisions in doing this, but he still had to deal with the consequences, but managed to fight to continue to give his kids as good a life as he could.

Dad was of a different mold. He wanted to be more. And, although he struggled with self inflicted damage to his life, he still pressed on being different. He was driven by ambition to be successful, sometimes at the expense of his family, but he knew that he wanted more from this life, so he poured himself into the work he loved. He was a gifted salesman, had a way with clients, and could make any stranger feel like a friend within minutes of meeting him. One thing was for sure, he was set in his ways, and if challenged, he would not hesitate to burn a bridge, but if you were his friend, you were his friend for life, and if you were his enemy, it wasn’t unclear. With my father, you knew exactly where you stood.

My father met my mother in the early 70’s. She was not looking to marry a single dad of 3 kids, but his charm and sense of humor won her over and they were married. They then had me in 1976, and as I started as a toddler, Pop was going from job to job in an industry that was in a bit of flux with deregulation in full swing. It was a tough time, but my dad had a life he wanted in his mind. His ambition kept pushing him, and eventually, after working for so many businesses, my father finally decided to start his own.

He decided to take a huge chance with his best friend, and starting in his friend’s basement, they opened a franchise of another company based in Louisville, KY. I know this had to be a scary time for him, he had a 2 year old (my little sister) and me in high school, as well as his three older kids now in their 20’s, and with a ton on the line, he wasn’t going to miss. He created something out of nothing, and within 5 years, he was building a $1.5 million dollar facility to continue to realize his dream.

And as he was building his business, he invited all of his family to join him in realizing his dream. We worked together to make it a success. And as we moved on from one business to start another, one that was ours and our alone, we trusted him to lead us to the promise land. 12 1/2 years later, his legacy, his work ethic, and his drive still permeated this place, even after he retired 6 years ago.

He worked very hard to realize his dream, which was a thriving business, as well as lifting his kids and family up with his hard work and vision. He never made excuses, he always found a way, even if it meant asserting his will on others, which meant sometimes he was downright abrasive. But he had a vision of what he wanted, and wasn’t going to be told what he could or couldn’t do. If someone told him no, he did it anyway and made no apologies about the toes he stepped on.

He would not be denied his dream of caring for his family while doing what he loved. He made so many friends along the way, he helped his family, he made no apologies, was driven yet patient, and was an example that we all could follow, even if his means of getting there were unorthodox.

As a father, he was stern yet soft, and his bark was worse than his bite at times.

He had a wicked temper, but it was only because he cared so much. I had always said “if he didn’t care he wouldn’t yell at us.” He was a passionate man who defended his family and did everything he could to protect us and make sure we were taken care of.

So many memories revolved around our family vacations where we would just get in the van and just go. Bring a cooler full of bologna and Pepsi’s and just drive to wherever.

We’d go to Kings Island every summer and I’d watch as Dad would go on the biggest, scariest roller coasters with all the kids except me, because I was scared. But we still had an awesome time as a family. We went to so many cool places, like Yellowstone, Florida, Texas, the Grand Canyon, he felt it was important to spend time together as a family on vacations, so they were like religion for us.

Dad loved the holidays. He and Mom would always go overboard on Christmas, getting us what we wanted and then some, decorating to the hilt, and immersing the family in so many great memories. So many times I think back to awesome Halloween parties in their garage with all of their friends, Dad never shied away from a good time. Some of my most cherished memories are from the myriad of vacations, holidays, and just everyday love we had.

My father always had love in his heart, even if he was angry with us kids, he would dread us with “family meetings” and give us hell for whatever we did, but he would return afterwards with the a smile, a laugh, and a hug. We were loved very much and we knew it, because he truly showed he loved us in everything he did.

He cultivated lifelong friendships with so many people. His sense of humor was one of a kind, and his laughter was infectious.

Even though there’s no more laughter…that doesn’t mean the memories of the laughter don’t permeate our minds, hearts, and souls for our father.

That doesn’t mean that we don’t carry on our lives in his honor, doing what he wanted us to do, living our lives just as he lived his, with no apologies and no guardrails.

It doesn’t mean we don’t stop being the best people we can be, with his spirit guiding us, so we can live as well and as full as he did.

Yes, his life wasn’t without sorrow, conflict, or hardship, but he took those things in stride, took them as challenges he could overcome, and he smiled through all of it, even if he was struggling on the inside.

He taught me so much about how to be the man I am today, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

When a loved one passes, many have regrets that they didn’t say how they felt, or they burned a bridge because of the countless disagreements or arguments that have caused families to fall apart.

I have no such regrets. My countless interactions with my father told him where I stood and told me where I stood. And though we disagreed a lot, we still let our love show for each other when it counted. He always said, about his business, “When you walk in here you’re an employee, when you walk out, we’re still family at the end of the day.” He could be obstinate more often than not, but he also was playing for keeps, and for that, I can’t say that it’s wrong or right, because it was what he wanted and who he was.

People can believe what they want about Pop, and more than likely it’s the truth. Love him or hate him, you knew where you stood. He would give you the shirt off his back, the chance you thought you’d never get, and stand beside you when it got too hot to handle.

And yes, he burned a ton of bridges and didn’t think twice about it.

But that still didn’t stop him from unapologetically going after what he wanted, caring for his friends and family, and trying to build something that would be a part of our family for generations.

My father was told too many times that he couldn’t do it, he wasn’t good enough, and he’d never make it.

He turned that negativity into two successful business ventures, a storied trucking career, and a life well lived.

He wasn’t perfect, but as my father, he didn’t have to be. He loved hard, cared relentlessly, fought every day, smiling and laughing through it all.

Even in death, he loves a good time, so we’ll not be having a funeral

Tomorrow, we will hold a celebration of life, complete with live band, a choir, and a keg.

No time for sulking”, he’d say, “get up and get to work, there’s things that need to be done!

And that’s exactly how I will honor him. Yes, there will be sadness, loss and pain. But his smile, that crooked, beautiful smile, will live on in all of us and guide us through this time.

I’m going to miss you more than you know, Pop.

But you’ll always be inside my heart and my soul, your warm laughter and incredible life fueling me with a zest for my own existence, a zest you had in spades.

You always told me to live my life, and damn the haters, rise despite the consequences, and overcome despite the challenges. Your life was a road map to do just this.

Your fire will burn forever in those you touched and those you loved and cherished.

You aren’t gone, merely living as energy inside of us, giving us the strength and resolve to live our lives as you lived yours.

I love you, Pop. Thank you for everything.


Many times, leadership finds you.

There were times I chose to stay away from the crown, yet the crown was always, at some point, placed on my head.

There were also times that I wanted the crown, but I didn’t get it. So I went after it.

This natural move towards leadership for me started very early. My father was a leader of men, a man who has inspired me to be the person I am today. Throughout his life, he has been a business leader, entrepreneur and while his management style left a ton to be desired, leadership found him, again and again, until one day, he took the crown and never looked back.

And heavy was that crown. I saw how leadership and the responsibility behind it affected my father, because when the shit hit the fan, he had to clean it up. It took it’s toll. He struggled with other parts of his life because he did prioritize his business life and career first. Every time he tried to turn it down, it still came for him, and so, this was his role in life.

I didn’t realize the burden he had to shoulder until one day, after I had agreed to work for him in 1998, he sat me down and showed me all he was responsible for.

It blew my fucking mind.

He had the weight of the world on his shoulders.

Not only his family, but his friends, the people he hired at his business, his business partners, his carriers, his customers, EVERYTHING.

He had a list he wrote out to me very early on of 25 things that he had to remember every week for his business to succeed. I keep this list, now 25 years old, on my desk in plain sight every day. It’s a testament to his leadership style, and while it could be rough, he’s been successful in everything he’s done.

I always wondered why my father was in a bad mood most days. It’s because of what he had to shoulder.

I never understood it until I took over for him after he retired. It’s a tough burden to bear, but one that he bore for over 35 years. I used to be so critical of him because I just didn’t get what he was doing. It wasn’t sinking in, but finally did when I took the helm. And fuck was it hard.

You don’t sleep well, knowing you’ve got people counting on you to show up.

You always fret, because you’re not sure about all the unknowns.

Your setbacks could be fatal to the business.

You are always on. ALWAYS.

Too many folks want to be a leader without the consequences of being a leader. It’s great to win on the battlefield, but remember there was a losing general.

Especially in business, leadership is vital to it’s success. And that means you have to be aware of everything, plan accordingly, and steward the ship through all the bad weather, as well as the sunny days.

You command those who respect you. You gain respect by being in the trenches with your people.

You command fealty through your ability to weather these storms.

My father was a tough boss, but he also led us through some very difficult times, because he knew what I didn’t know, and he acted on it. He saw the big picture.

This makes me look up to him all the more, and his example taught me what it meant to be a leader.

Leaders Are Made

My father had a hand in my life early on, in high school. His leadership in all areas of his life got me to take on leadership roles. The first real opportunity was in school.

There isn’t a more textbook example for how I became a leader of men but for my story of my band career, one my father supported whole heartedly.

I don’t have some legendary meteoric rise story to tell, it’s one where I was the band geek that decided that I wanted more.

In my early high school days, I was a fucking nerd. No doubt. I had not yet understood what it took to be a leader, hell, I didn’t even care to show up to school most days, but I got into marching band and music in general (playing the trombone) and found that I loved it.

I wasn’t a leader, wasn’t thinking about being one, but my natural attraction to music and being able to enjoy something besides video games got me hooked. And as naturally occurs, as I was enjoying what I was doing, I naturally attracted people to my banner, regardless of what it was, but I developed some friendships to where I was the pace setter. As I participated more in marching band, my leadership skills grew. I would run practices with my fellow trombones, and when my senior mentor got drum major her senior year, I took over the section with baritones, tubas, and trombones looking to me for leadership.

My senior year, my opportunity came up for drum major. It was a role I coveted, so I prepared long and hard for the interview. When the day came, I sat and thought I did extremely well. However, I didn’t get drum major. I mishandled one small answer that cost me the role, and I was pissed about it.

But, the missed opportunity provided me with motivation to be the best damn section leader ever.

So, rather than stew in my disappointment, I decided to step up. My father encouraged me to keep fighting, keep showing up, and keep being present. That’s how leaders are forged.

I would be the guy who got the band out for warm ups. I would be the guy who played the best, taught the newbies the best, and worked the hardest. I got a solo for one of our performance songs from “Les Misérables” and continued to work my ass off. It was to the point that I was outworking the drum major. I had a major grudge over not getting picked to be drum major, so I took that and pushed myself to be the leader I could be, and humbly not overshadowing the true leader.

The results I got blew me away. I became a part of 7 different performance groups (jazz band, pep band, concert band, marching band, symphonic band, orchestra, and musical pit orchestra), and led every damn last one. I was far from the shy nerdy guy in my freshman year, I was in command of my trade and owned every damn minute of it. I shot up in height, now at 6’4″ from 5’7″ in freshman year, and I was exuding confidence.

It resulted in a sweep in the band department awards that year, including the coveted John Phillip Sousa award for most outstanding band member. I was so happy, as my father looked on as I accepted the awards.

And I hadn’t been looking for any of it. As a dorky freshman, I was just going through the motions. But after I developed a true love for something and went after it.

The best part about all of this, is my father watched as I did it. He supported me in my endeavors and encouraged me. I love to tell this story because it truly was the first time I had taken command of something, anything, and my father got to see my growth into a man first hand.

5 Leadership Lessons I’ve Learned From My Father

The lessons I learned from my band days were lessons that continued to be given when I went to work for my father. And it was leadership school every damn day. Good or bad, class was in session when my father went to battle to try and build a business. He really taught me so many lessons that I take into everything I do today. They’re the usual leadership lessons, but he showed me in real time what these lessons mean to building and maintaining a business, a family, and a life.

And here are just a few of them I’ll share:

  1. Leaders aren’t always popular

I’ve been called an asshole by many an employee over the years, and it’s one thing that I pride myself on. I don’t mean you HAVE to be a jerk ass to people, but sometimes, doing what’s right for your business and the people you are in charge of isn’t common knowledge, and you may have to make some decisions that won’t be popular. But if you aren’t looking out for your business or even yourself, what the hell are you even here for?

2. You will make mistakes.

You will be asked to make split second decisions and many of those decisions will be wrong. Your job is to minimize the risk and fallout from those decisions. It’s okay to be bold and take risks, but be very careful as you are playing with the livelihoods of people in your employ. They put their trust in you to lead and guide them. Stop playing with fire.

3. Trust your instincts

You are in the position of leader for a reason. You have earned the trust of people who are counting on you to make the decision. You have some skill, if you didn’t, you wouldn’t be where you are. Trust your gut and make decisions based on what you feel is the right.

4. Choose your advisors wisely.

A leader cannot properly lead without trustworthy people around them. You must choose your advisors wisely. Look who’s been around you and has your best interests at heart, because they are inextricably tied to you and your success.

5. Stand up for your beliefs.

A leader will attract a following by being cemented in their beliefs. You operate with a set of values, morals, and convictions. Stay with them, even when everyone else is against you.

My father taught me so much about all of these lessons, by his own mistakes or by his own wins. Over the two decades I worked for him, I saw it all, I saw his struggles, I saw his triumphs, but all in all, I saw what he did to operate in a hostile environment, and it took balls of steel to do many of the things he did.

I’m sure he was scared at times, but he also stepped forward and forged his life, business, and world against some of the toughest things life can throw at you. And he did it many times, with a huge smile.

His influence on me as a leader can’t be discounted. I have no regrets having been with my father in both a family and professional setting for a quarter of a century. Much of what I’ve learned from him has been learned at the other end of an ass chewing, but he believed in himself so much, and got so frustrated when those who worked for him didn’t see his vision, that he would get upset.

But it’s because he cared so much for what he was doing.

A leader without heart isn’t a leader, they’re a pariah. He’s holding a chair for someone else, and you’re doomed to follow them to failure. A charismatic leader, someone who would do anything to help you find the way, even go into battle with you, is what you want.

And that was my father to a tee. There were days I cussed him under my breath, but there were other days I truly looked up to him, because I finally understood what he was dealing with, and finally understood what he was trying to do. He was trying to protect his family, trying to build his vision, and trying to take care of those who trusted him.

He is and was a true leader, and I’ll always respect him for what he did.

I love you, Pop.

Thank you for showing me how to take command of my life.

And thank you for all you did to help me become the man I am today.

Waking Up the Ghost

“I, I’m waking up the ghost
Not digging up the memories that were dead to me
Now, now I’m getting close
Closer to the enemy that’s inside of me”

  • “Waking Up the Ghost” – 10 Years

You can’t bury it if it’s not dead.

Our lives are a series of short stories cobbled together into a larger novel.

There are some stories we don’t share, however.

Some stories elicit such guilt and shame, because they symbolize parts of our lives where we made bad choices, choices that harmed others, whether we meant them to or not.

And, many times, without hesitation, we don’t publish them beside our victories, for fear that they will take away from us as a person, for fear that we didn’t properly hash out all the mistakes, all the self destructive behavior.

Because, let’s be honest, talking about the bad stuff, really getting our skeletons our of our closets, is a painful process that many of us don’t want to go through.

We are flawed creatures, we do shit we shouldn’t and know it, and then, like a small child who’s done something wrong, we try to hide it, deflect from it, lie about it affecting us, until the monkey on our backs is a seething gorilla seeing red.

The guilt and shame demands a response. It’s just going to keep sitting there beating on you until you say stop.

The largest goal of any person feeling these things should not be to stop feeling them, or push them down, or ignore them, but to unload them.

This was the dilemma I was facing a few weeks ago.

The gorilla broke down the damn closet door, demanding to be addressed. And I had to do it. Regardless of what mistakes they were, they needed to be looked at, sorted through, confessed to, and let go. This was a process that I had to adhere to if I truly wanted to forgive myself for my past indiscretions. And that was the goal.

But it mattered HOW it was done.

I was racking my brain thinking about this very process, how I was going to come clean with myself to the world, and I was wanting to write a blog post confessing my sins to EVERYONE. That was my plan.

As many of you know, this blog is my journal, and it’s almost always based on some song or music that I listen to. That’s why many of the titles are those of songs that I really enjoy, or songs that have touched me in one way or another. And while confessing my deepest, darkest sins on here might have done something for me, it would have done much more damage to those I either intentionally or unintentionally hurt with my actions. By bringing up a sore subject, I would be letting off a nuke that could irreparably damage many more relationships, even the ones I don’t think would be affected.

This blog will be referencing a particular song, “Waking Up the Ghost” by 10 Years, that perfectly encapsulates my situation of letting go of my guilt and shame, and forgiving myself for my past.

We have to get this shit off our chest, we have to throw the gorilla off our back, but not at the expense of so many other relationships that we value.

In short, silence is golden to those words would hurt.

“Under the skin, the soul of the guilty
Under the surface, lonely lies
Under the weight the sin is
Eating me alive”

We’ve all done shit we aren’t proud of. We’ve all fucked up. The problem is we don’t want to address these mistakes so they become a part of us, dictating our actions far after the die has been cast.

We might let things slip when we’re drunk, when we’re sad, we might scream because we can’t tell the world our secrets for fears of what they might think, for fear of being shunned or accosted by those we care about, for rejection, or even betraying every thing we say we stand for.

But we have to resolve it by addressing it, or it will eat us alive, it will affect every relationship, every interaction, every piece of our lives that we didn’t intend for it to.

“Why are you doing this, man? Why now?”

“No one knows the secrets that I keep
No one knows what’s in my head
I can’t control the other side of me
I have lost my breath”

The timing wasn’t special, but the weight of the guilt and shame was. I needed to get this out, my last skeleton in the way of an empty closet, the last sin that I had to confess.

I did it because if it was out there, released from inside of me, I didn’t have to hide anymore. I was so ashamed of these past discretions that holding them in wasn’t going to be an option any more.

I had to talk. And I was prepared to talk to the world in the form of a blog post.

But I was stopped. I was preempted by those who cared most for me, the men of my fraternity, the men and woman of my men’s group, to think before I spoke into the megaphone.

I had to dig up these feelings again, to get right with the man in the mirror, and the best way to do that wasn’t to napalm the entire landscape, but to have a “controlled” explosion in front of those I respect the most, who’s opinions, support, and pointed criticism have guided me through this uncharted journey the past two years.

So, taking this sage advice, I decided to sit in front of a jury of my peers, confess my sins, and get right with me.

“No mercy, no forgiveness
Condemned to my own hell”

I truly believed that I was not worthy of forgiveness. I touted myself as a man who wasn’t good enough for Heaven, but not bad enough for Hell. I was in purgatory, and I chose to live there knowing that I wasn’t going to be forgiven.

I’ll be honest, I was terrified of talking about my past failures, my sins, in front of a group of men.

I thought I was going to be castigated for my mistake, having to relive the pain of my choices.

But the men of the Fraternity of Excellence rose to the occasion. Instead of scorn, I got support, I got comradery, I got men who, like me, have made mistakes and understand that bearing your soul to others, even in a small environment such as this, can be overwhelming.

I was told I was worthy of love. I didn’t have to hide anymore.

It was a cathartic 2 hour session that took my shame and lifted the gorilla off my back by just telling myself that I didn’t have to carry this anymore. I didn’t.

As the men uttered the words that they too have had to live with guilt and shame, that they too felt scared to talk about their transgressions.

So to have a group of men who were there to listen made the whole thing much easier to get out. The “controlled explosion” went off, with very little fanfare, but with huge implications to my mental health.

And with the confessional, I also decided, with awesome help from Dr. Taylor Burrowes, to have a ceremony to let go of my past guilt and shame and forgive myself. With my children’s help, I bought two balloons and a 3×5 card with a message to myself. I tied the message to the balloons, took 3 deep breaths, forgave my past self, and let those fuckers go.

“Breaking the pulse of a steady beat
Pleading for sanity”

I couldn’t have done this if I didn’t have the support of the men and women in my life.

I hid this for years because I knew I didn’t have a safe space to detonate this bomb.

I had people surrounding me who had the same or more skeletons in their closets, and they had resigned themselves to holding their secrets and not truly being authentic to themselves.

And that’s the bottom line, I was portraying myself as a man who couldn’t get forgiveness, who was living in the shadow of his mistakes, who reveled in the role of outcast. It was an act, an act I was sick of playing, and I had to throw off the makeup and costumes to become the man I want to be.

After the very light fanfare of all the things I’ve done to unload this burden the past two weeks, I had a chance to have some time hiking by myself, to really look at my decision and what it has resulted in.

I looked in my bathroom mirror, at the man staring back at me, a man I could not look in the eye for the past 9 years, because I was ashamed of his actions. But, recently, I’ve stared at him, I’ve smiled at him, I’ve told him I love him, because he’s human, he’s made mistakes, and he is worthy of forgiveness, even from his future self.

And every morning, of every day since letting those balloons go, since putting down the weight, since releasing the gorilla back into the wild, I have stared back at my reflection with a newfound love and respect for the man that’s trying to make his life better, trying to rectify his past, and trying to be a good man for his family, his kids, and his brothers.

The lesson here is simple: make peace with your past.

Make peace with the mistakes you made because you didn’t know what to do.

Make peace with the fact that the situation you were in was not in your control, and while making the wrong choices, you have to understand that you aren’t perfect and you won’t be.

Make peace with the war inside yourself. Both sides are fighting a battle for your sanity. You can’t continue to carry this weight and say it’s no big deal.

You need to wake up this ghost, and exorcise it from your life. The guilt and shame you feel, no matter how long you’ve felt it, can’t be ignored without affecting you in all you do. Even if you think it won’t, even if you think it doesn’t, it’s there, tapping you on the shoulder.

Get it out, safely, smartly, and take the steps to let it all go.

The more you can make peace with your past, the brighter your future.


“Validation, especially for men, comes from within. If you’re seeking validation as a man you aren’t going to get very far.” – Men Of Grit

Any man looking for validity in the eyes of others has to step back and understand one thing.

You are not defined by how others see you.

But too many men are extremely outcome dependent, especially when it comes to how others see them.

They will shift and change themselves to fit what people want of them, then become people pleasers as a result of the shift, then get resentful when their true passions, opinions, and beliefs come to life, then wonder why people hate them when they go against what they were selling as themselves.

I should know, in September of 2018, as the Red Pill Dad, I was looking for validation in spades. Toeing the red pill line in hopes of cultivating a following, even putting out crazy opinions that I didn’t hold myself but I thought would gain traction (many did) to grow my follower base. I would say anything and everything to get follows, even pretending to be someone I wasn’t to the point that when I was out hitting on women, I was using this persona.

Why? I wanted validation. I wanted follows. I pushed who I wasn’t to get what I thought I wanted.

And it resulted in a mess.

The Lessons I Learned About The Validation I Was Seeking

I started the Red Pill Dad because I wanted to help men in my situation become good with women. Men (like myself) who had a lifelong social disability with women were going to get help from me. I was going to do approaches, take notes, and (while reading other dudes presumably doing the same thing) be hitting up 8’s in no time.

But in reality, I hated who I was, wanted to be more, but didn’t want to put in the work or experience the consequences of failures I was sure to have.

And as soon as I started, I understood one thing that seemed to permeate the pick up and red pill community. There were many like me, but more were fabricating their experiences in order to get follows.

I didn’t realize how many or how deep the bullshit was until I saw and followed other men who were doing the same things I was, except they were getting 8’s, 9’s and 10’s without posting pictures of themselves, merely telling stories about the luck they had last night.

As shitty as I felt about myself, I didn’t feel right about telling fables about who I was and what I was doing.

I decided, after just a few months, that I was going to document my attempts at pick up in real time, with real results, because everyone else was doing the opposite.

I didn’t feel right saying stuff that wasn’t true, because many other men in my position were writing more than I was, and were writing puff pieces of picking up an 8 at the coffee shop while another girl waited on them.

I wasn’t doing that, in fact, I was mired in the opposite. I was approaching, but was getting nothing but psychotics, unattractive, depressed overweight girls with daddy issues, women leveraging their boyfriends or husbands for some attention, or fat dominatrices with an axe to grind against men.

I had an accountability problem with myself.

It was this split from the path that taught me much about my search for validation.

When I got the feeling in the pit of my stomach that making shit up wasn’t going to help me become the man I wanted to be, I hit the crossroads of seeking validation at any cost or actually justifying the work I was doing to be better with actual receipts. It came to a head in 2019 when I met a “real girl” and tried to flex my fake life and fell flat on my face in Los Angeles.

It was then that I realized the real world consequences of making it all up.

I was so intent on being this fake dude that got tons of likes, I forgot to make sure that I was becoming a real man who wasn’t looking for accolades. I should have been looking for validation from one person, that of the dude in the mirror.

This mindset mired the early days of my blog where there was a constant internal fight between the man who wanted to be liked versus the man who wanted to be honest. Many a blog post saw the bottom of the proverbial trash can because I was trying to write fiction and not real life.

I decided after spinning my wheels in the early days that the best blogs were the honest ones, and I was brutally honest. And it didn’t take off, and I didn’t get the cheap likes, but I knew that being honest with myself and the people I was trying to communicate with was the best path.

This fake validation is the trap many men fall into, especially those who really don’t have much in the way of accomplishment (or worse, don’t THINK they have accomplishments) in their lives.

They see a path to finding themselves is to be someone else, someone cooler than they really are. They are ashamed of who they are, what they’ve done or haven’t, and don’t want to do the work to make meaningful headway towards the real person they want to be, so they go the dollar store route.

Sitting by myself, after being friend zoned, in an old hotel near West LA, crying, dejected, and wondering what the hell I needed to do, while my kids and REAL life was waiting for me to act in Indiana.

I had abandoned my real life because I didn’t think it was sexy enough to pass the mustard and get me the followers I wanted on a computer screen, I started to have a sincere discussion with myself on what the hell I was actually trying to accomplish.

My value, it seemed before my epiphany, was created by the number of thumbs up I was getting on a post, number of views I was getting on a blog, number of hearts that popped up every time I tweeted.

But it was all pretend. It wasn’t really me. And when the rubber hit the road, what I was REALLY doing was going to determine my trajectory in my own personal goals, not the façade of some red pill dude trying to hit on girls.

So in the middle of this “fake Tim vs real Tim” battle, I decided to rebrand and focus, not on the likes, but on the content, the brand, the reality of my life as a single father trying to improve his life. The likes, the follows, the fake love I wanted didn’t compare to the real work I needed to do, and the real, quality accolades I would get by being myself, a dude just trying to get his life together.

So I had to go back to basics, and understand that the attention I was craving was fleeting, the real validation I was seeking was actually trying, failing, and yes, accomplishing REAL LIFE things.

I couldn’t hide anymore from who I was, and I couldn’t fake success if I was to move forward.

I had to get right and stop telling fiction. My story was more than enough to generate an immense following and at that point, I didn’t care, because the only person I wanted approval from was Tim Hicks.

And this is the bottom line guys. No matter what you are doing, playing pretend will always ALWAYS come back to haunt you.

You have a life that demands your attendance and if you aren’t proud of it, CHANGE it.

Anyone can create a fake life with a fake fan base and have fake friends, a fake career, and fake achievements, that’s called fantasy.

But to truly garner a loyal, concrete following, you must be good with you. You can’t be concerned with what others think, regardless if it’s online or in real life, because it means you are putting weight into total strangers and their opinions, and no one, least of all you, benefits from that.

Stop waiting for the cheers or the boos and go out and prove yourself to yourself.

Damn the critics and yes, damn the fake supporters who cheer you when you tweet well and damn you when you don’t.

People pleasing is the least rewarding job because you’re only doing it for the likes, not for yourself.

You’ll find that building that fake persona gives you no joy, only the hope that the next tweet, the next clever saying, the next fabrication of something you didn’t do or merely pretended to do, will temporarily sate that hunger.

And then, almost instantly, you’re back at it, posting your fiction again, fishing for someone to tell you you’re awesome.

You are awesome, but it needs to be seen by the person staring back at you.

THAT’s the key to all of this.

When you love yourself, you have your own validation, it’s an perpetual engine inside of you that burns regardless of who likes or doesn’t like you.

Your validity comes from no where else but from your struggles, your failures, your experiences, and your triumphs.

Stop trying to pretend your way to a successful life.

The check always comes due.

And those who have receipts are the ones who truly win.


“Everybody wants to change the world, no one ever wants to change themselves.” – Nothing More – “Do You Really Want It?”

Lately, I’ve been unengaged because with almost every facet of my life, my progress has ground to a crawl.

My weight loss is still steady, but certainly not the numbers I was pulling earlier in my journey. As I get closer to my goal, the scale numbers tick smaller, as I’m starting to get closer to my second, and final, goal of 215 lbs.

My dating life has been unremarkable, getting ghosted and flaked on by girls I want to date, and getting hit on by girls I wouldn’t, leads are low.

My family is struggling with my father’s increasing health issues.

My job has been stressful, and even though we are doing well, the frustration of potential stagnations are always over the horizon.

Lately, it seems that “hurry up and wait” is the buzz phrase for my life.

But that’s the problem. I think that I have to “wait” for good things to come my way and instead of waiting, I need to be proactive and make things happen.

So in essence, I feel “stuck” by claiming that the circumstances around me are putting me in a box.

That’s not empowerment, that’s victimhood.

Looking for validation so that you can move forward is like waiting for a sign from God in the form of a burning bush that doesn’t burn.

You wait and as you wait, the walls close in around you. And it becomes more difficult to scale them, let alone tear them down. You’re looking around now and find that your situation has become a bit more tricky because you’ve not planned for this eventually.

Life will block your ass in.

I’m really good at dispensing advice but not taking it, especially my own.

And one of my favorite tweets I’ve ever written is – “If you’re feeling stuck, MOVE.”

Like being in a cave and trying to move through a 3 foot hole, you can’t go back, so you keep pressing forward (I’m claustrophobic so this analogy works for me), and it’s the only way to go, even if it’s INCHES at a time. This agonizingly slow progress, especially for me, a person who has zero patience, is part of the reason it seemed easier to just stop and wait. But the hole isn’t getting bigger, the cave isn’t going to magically open up to a staircase to the light, nor are you going to be able to find another way around this portion of the earth.

But you just can’t convulse or wriggle just to do so, you have to move with purpose and meaning. Doing jumping jacks in a cave isn’t going to get you out of the cave any faster, and it will only wear you down when you really need the strength to climb past a wall or through a crevice.

Which is why I am calmly stepping back from the mess that is currently around me and figuring out the best way forward. But mind you, it is a way FORWARD, not simply staying still. Too many times, I’ve defaulted to blaming the situations around me as the reasons that I’m not progressing the way or the timing of what I want.

“It’s where I live that I can’t meet the girls I want.”

“I’m not losing any more weight so why go to the gym?”

“My progress has stopped on my finances, time to impulse buy something that makes me feel good but I don’t need.”

“It’s pointless to try new things because I don’t have any real interests.”

Comfort zones can kill you, especially those you continue to push to justify inaction.

My inaction is a direct result of being afraid of what my actions will bring.

So, I’ve decided to move. I’ve written down things that I CAN do to make some progress in other areas, as opposed to running a list through my mind of things I can’t do.

It’s too easy these days to lament the things we want but don’t have, as opposed to taking real stock in the things we do, as well as plotting a course on how to get the things that elude us. It’s too easy these days to complain about the world at large being against us, raising a fist to the sky and cursing the “forces” that continue to keep us down, not realizing it’s our own actions or lack thereof that keeps us in the same place.

As FoE (Fraternity of Excellence) has taught me, in the absence of anything, action still makes a difference.

But it still needs to be hammered into me, by me, that I need to continue to take action, even if things out of my control are taking hold of parts of my life I want to improve.

Fitness dialed in? Awesome, continue going to the gym and being consistent so that you can get your goals.

Not seeing results in other parts of your life at the moment? Find some part of your life where you can take quick, immediate action and fix. In my case, it’s annoying things that I haven’t fixed in my home (leaky faucet, stuck toilet seat, trimming the landscaping, pulling weeds).

Not getting the girls you want to date? Start looking at why and focus on what you are doing to attract (or not attract) these women. Also, where are you going to meet new women? If you’re sitting at home after work by yourself cursing that there’s nothing you can do to meet people, realize that in REALITY, you are doing nothing to meet new people and sitting at home cursing the fact that you won’t go out and try new things to meet new people.

Altering reality to fit the fact that you don’t want to do the work to get better doesn’t change the reality, it’s only purpose is to make you feel better about your inaction.

I’ve tried to justify my lack of forward progress, in dating especially, by lamenting that I’m not in the right area to meet a good woman, whining about having to go back to online dating to swipe and sleep with unattractive women because there’s no one else out there, all while I’m sitting at work trying to motivate men to go out and make things happen. I don’t take my own advice, until now, and it’s my way of trying to motivate myself to get out of this victimhood rut. So my tweets trying to get myself out of my own head are only words, and they haven’t inspired any action from me, only wishing I would take action but not knowing how to proceed forward.

But sometimes doing something, ANYTHING towards another goal in your life can make the other parts of your life seem much easier to fix and control, and instead of waiting, you are taking action to make something positive happen.

We don’t know how close we are to a break through, but we’ll sure as hell drop the pickaxe because we’re convinced the diamonds don’t exist, even though we know damn well that they do, because we’ve held them, we’ve seen them, we know.

So, in the meantime, we sit, we wait, we hope something good will happen. We damn the bad shit that’s going on as the universe trying to kick our ass.

It’s testing us, and we are failing the test, because we are upset we have to take the test, not truly working on trying to get the best grade we can. We have to study, we have to prepare for these tests every day, so that we can pass with flying colors. But instead, we dread the test, we curse it. This has been me for the past few weeks.

“Why me?” is the question we ask as we look up at the sky.

It’s not you, it’s the world. It’s how it tests everyone. Some tests are harder than others, and that means that you have to be extra prepared for the tests.

And here’s the funny thing, WE KNOW THE TESTS ARE COMING. Yet we still postpone, get angry, piss and moan, but we know they are coming. And we still procrastinate or justify inaction, or cram and fail.

So, I’m writing this to remind myself that nothing is going to change until I take action. Regardless where the action is taken, a positive move to ANY direction is still forward. The cave isn’t going anywhere, the mountain isn’t going to disappear because I complained I have to climb it.

Tim, get your head out of your ass and get to work. You’ve dominated many things in your life, and these are just more things you need to dominate. You aren’t going to die alone, but you sure as hell aren’t going to get any women you want by sitting and complaining about it. You aren’t going to be rich if you don’t get your ass out there and do your thing by making money.

You aren’t going to weather your family through a crisis if you constantly lament that bad things happen because reasons.

You aren’t going to show anyone you’re serious until you face the fact that you have to stand up for who you are and fight everyday towards your own independence.

You aren’t going to truly have the life you want until you fight and claim every inch of it for yourself, and be prepared to fix it, to defend it, to build it sturdier, to admire it, and be the man you want to be with no more doubt in the pit of your stomach.

Doubt is the spark in the house of your life that can burn the whole mother fucker down.

Action is the hammer, the nails, the screws, the concrete, the structure you need to make sure your home is stable.

Get building and don’t stop.

1000 Days

“Daddy, what’s wrong with you?”

Those words still echo in my head to this day. I don’t remember much from that night….when I was driving home from my local pub after getting loaded with a couple of friends.

I don’t even remember driving home, but I do remember stumbling into my house as my ex was dropping off the kids and the look of fear, confusion, and morbid curiosity on their faces. Like they’d just seen me shoot up and were absolutely shocked by it.

They shouldn’t have had to experience that. They shouldn’t have had to wonder why they, at that point 8 and 10 years old, why their dad was coming home reeking of booze and bad decisions.

The night was a blur, but what wasn’t, was the looks my kids gave me. And it’s burned into my skull.

My kids hadn’t seen me this blackout drunk before, sure, I’d drank in front of them, but as of that point, my drinking was getting worse. I was drinking heavily at least 3-4 times a week, to the point where I had a growler that I would routinely fill and drink by myself on nights I was at home without the kids.

The auto pilot drinking life, the bar flies, the people who filled my life with “have another one” because their own lives were filled with it, was the cornerstone of my social game with women, with my friends, with everything I was doing. If I didn’t have a drink in my hand, I wasn’t having fun. If I didn’t have a drink in my hand, I was offending those who were just “having a good time” and “blowing off steam”.

Along with my being overweight, this was a lifestyle that I had cultivated for most of my adult life. From the time I was in my early 20’s, it’s all I knew, it’s all I did. Very seldom, during the tailgates, bar trips, clubbing, or winery and bar crawls did I think that someday I wasn’t going to be taking a sip. This was an automatic in my life, as was just eating the shit out of everything. It was me. I had gotten so used to these things defining me.

But I had to make a decision. It seemed like a hard one, but in the bigger picture, it was the easiest decision I ever made.

I was going to stop drinking. COMPLETELY stop.

Yes, I had to, for my sake, but also for the people who depended on me, the people who look up to me, and the people who were looking for a healthy, strong example in their lives.

I finally realized my kids were watching me, and this was the biggest stage of my life.

Counting Days

I’ve heard many things in the addiction world, but the one thing that stuck with me was that addiction goes away easier when you find something more important to be addicted to.

And for some, it’s easier to “snap out” of an addiction than others. But, they all have to have their “come to Jesus” moment. And some never get that moment, and even more aren’t strong enough to break away.

And it was this fact that I had to come to terms with. I didn’t want my kids, seeing a father addicted to bad food and alcohol, getting addicted to things the same or potentially worse than those things.

The behavior cultivates their behavior, and if I was going to pull out of this, it wasn’t just going to be for me. I had to do it for them too.

And at that point in my life, my addiction to alcohol was getting worse by the day.

I drove home drunk multiple times (over 100 as far as I can remember). The consequences for doing bad things would eventually haunt me, even if I wasn’t getting caught.

So as I laid awake and still buzzed with my kids sleeping in their beds, I got up and I walked my house for over an hour. I watched them sleep, kissed their foreheads, and made a promise to myself.

It was immediate.

The very next night, when my kids were with their mom, I went to my normal bar.

When my usual bartender asked me if I wanted the usual drink I usually had, I stopped her.

“Water, no lemon.”

She looked at me like I had just shot someone at the bar.

“Water? Really?”

“Yes, Lisa, really”, I responded.

So she filled it up. And as I sipped it, I saw all the people I had hung with during those drunken nights. And they weren’t very interesting on no buzz.

It was like taking the beer goggles off and never putting them back on again. The whole world was different. The women I had been hitting on weren’t as attractive without the buzz. The guys I’d been talking to while blitzed had very little to say except what alcohol they loved, the sports teams they were betting on, and why they hate their home lives with a griping wife at home.

Sports wasn’t interesting anymore. It wasn’t even a topic for discussion. I figured now that I wasn’t drinking, the novelty of it all was wearing off.

And it certainly was. So, slowly, I stopped going to the bar. A bar that I had frequented 4-5 days a week, a bar where my visitation points were going to get me a personalized mug. A reward for being a drunk.

So 5 days passed, and while not craving a drink, I was craving the life again, so I went to the gym.

Every time I started to feel like I was falling back, I kept thinking of my kids and those faces the night I walked in drunk.

As the days turned to weeks, I started noticing my weight dropping. The hundreds of dollars a week I had been spending on booze was put towards debt. I could go places without having to worry about driving while drunk. I cleaned out all the mugs and growlers in my home. It’s like taking all the bad food out of your house, you know it sucks, but you know it’s for the best.

My weight loss, a result of focusing on fitness, was accelerated without all the extra calories. I felt better, was sleeping better, and had more energy. I was more confident in my body so I didn’t need the liquid courage to talk to women, I had my improving physique, my improving finances, and my improving outlook on life was gaining the attention of more attractive, but also more healthy, women.

We as humans tend to look more longingly at the short, 30 second montage than the months and sometimes years it actually takes to get over something, achieve a difficult goal, or break through a tough obstacle.

But it’s hard. It’s supposed to be. It’s not supposed to be for everyone. I’m firmly in the camp that there are just some people who will succumb to addiction because they just aren’t strong enough.

But I also believe that people CAN become strong, they just have to either avoid or disbelieve the lies they are being told. It’s on them, but it also takes good friends and family that provide good influences.

But what do you do when you get there? Many people become bored and fall back into the addictions, because they achieved then fell back to what they knew, instead of pushing further.

The Next 1000 Days

I don’t take 1000 days, or 1000 anything, lightly. Nearly 3 years ago, I decided to make a choice, a choice for me, a choice away from a life that, at least for me, wasn’t fulfilling at all.

It was bouncing from one manufactured high to the next, trying to escape a mediocre life through booze.

So I decided to rewrite the story to one that, even if minute and insignificant to most, is of great importance to me.

My journey has always been about righting the wrongs of my past, all while trying to show men that a second chance is always there for the taking.

Your life story CAN be rewritten with you as the hero walking away into the sunset.

You just have to pick up the pen and start writing.

It will be the hardest thing you will do, changing a book you are writing in the middle of it to something that you can be proud of, something that you can say you achieved, something that you can say fulfilled you.

But don’t throw the writings away in the fire. They are there because they represent you, a different you from the current you, but you nonetheless.

Learn from those pages. The years you were addicted weren’t lost, they were a lesson for you to navigate this life, a map for you to follow to the point you want to be at. It taught you that things aren’t easy, but they can be overcome.

But more importantly, look who is watching you. Many times, we can’t see who’s watching our journey, but they are out there, rooting us on to make a better life, wanting to be a part of the rocket takeoff, wanting to succeed right along with us.

They’ve seen us at our worst, but they still hope for our best. That was the reality I was dealing with on that cold, autumn evening when my kids stared back at me in disbelief.

My kids are watching me. They are counting on me. They are on the journey with me, and I owe it to them to make this journey worth it. My success is their success. My happiness is their happiness. My world is where they live.

They need to thrive, not question. They need to be protected, not lost. They need strength and stability, not consistent doubt and confusion.

And they’ll now get it from me, after years of wondering.

My addiction is over.

The next chapter of my life is being written being high on life.

So, I raise my glass of water to the next 1000 days, may they be the best of my life.