Peaceful Life

White man sitting on blue pillow meditating

A peaceful life matters a lot. Once you learn how to carry yourself with peace and comfort, life becomes much more enjoyable. Practicing living in peace and comfort is not an easy task for many people. Life circumstances, negative emotions and even mental illness often get in the way. But once you learn how to harness peace, your days will progress more smoothly, helping you achieve a happy state of mind. But when you lose touch with your inner peace is when your days become inflicted with pain and misery.

So how do you go about instilling a peaceful state of mind? The key is to slow things down by absorbing every moment of your waking state. A lot of us feel rushed and tempted to power through work and activities, forgetting how to relax. Powering through the day gives us a sense of accomplishment, but at the expensive of our mental health. Instead, you want to slow down your perception of doing things while preserving the quality of your work. This can be done by practicing mindfulness and learning how to enjoy being present in the moment.

White woman practicing a peaceful life near blue water

A Peaceful Life for Your Mental Health

Imagine all the people living life in peace! No more temptations to do each other wrong. Life would involve unconditional love and envy would cease to exist. Rather than feeling rushed, your perception of time would disappear; life would just be. You would no longer feel rushed to get done with work and get back home. Instead, you would cherish every moment of life while bathing in a peaceful state of mind. People would no longer make fun of each other because peace would overcome insecurity.

Now the above describes a fictional scenario but the point is that peace can bring you comfort. But the question is how do we obtain peace? With today’s hectic society, it sometimes feels impossible to find peace. As I mentioned above and in many previous articles, practicing mindfulness is key. The difficult part is not the actual mindfulness; it’s easy to sit and just think. I personally find that the most challenging part is getting myself to sit down and actually doing it. Right when the thought of mindfulness comes to my mind, I think, “but it’s so boring!”

If you can overcome that initial resistance that prevents you from doing mindfulness, then you’re golden. Once you sit down and get in that moment of mindfulness, the act is not difficult. You tap into a peaceful state of mind and become one with the present moment. You learn how to disconnect from your environment and focus on your inner thoughts and emotions. Once you practice mindfulness enough, you’ll start to notice that things don’t bother you as much. You’ll realize that your resilience and tolerance to stress and adverse outcomes improve. And once you overcome stress, your mental health also improves.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)


Influenced by the Environment

White man with arrows pointing to head

Everything regarding the way you interpret reality stems from the most important organ in your presence: the brain. How you think and view the world is based on your personality and interpretation of your surroundings. If you can match your personality with an accurate portrait of society, then you will experience a more realistic experience. But once you allow your mind to be influenced by outside forces, you become more susceptible to programming or the manipulation of your mind. You become influenced by the environment to your detriment.

So take what you can from society that is still good and add it to your arsenal. But always remember that it’s your mind that is most precious; keep outside forces in check. Protect your mind for it roams openly in a dangerous land, ready to be attacked by invisible forces. These invisible forces do not care for your sanity. As a matter of fact, they prefer that you join the sheep and obey without questioning. When you ask less questions, you make it easier for them to control you. Their ultimate goal is to control the masses because it makes them feel superior, as if they are God. But they will never be God.

Influenced by the environment - skull with brain experiencing waves of butterfly effects

How do you Know if you’re Influenced by the Environment?

If you believe everything you hear or read in the mainstream media, then you’re being influenced. Of course, almost no one will admit to “believing everything” they hear in the media. “Everything” is obviously an exaggeration. When I say everything, I mean generally being in agreement with what is televised on a daily basis. Many people are glued to CNN, Fox News or BBC without questioning what they see or hear. They were quick to stick out their arms for new mRNA vaccines as soon as they were released to the public. Many don’t question the fact that the vaccines came out within a year or that mRNA vaccines were released during a pandemic out of all times.

Why don’t people question? Because they put too must trust in their government and find it easier to trust a large entity than small sources. They believe that if they start listening to small sources, they will be labeled as a “conspiracy theorist.” Little do they know that the CIA supposedly invented the conspiracy theory tactic. They did this as a form of protection from the masses seeking the truth. But hiding the truth from a population of 7.9 billion is impossible; it will always leak. So as a form of insurance, they created a psychological tactic that labels the truth-finders as “nut jobs,” with the mainstream media as their pawns.

I’m not saying that you need to become a conspiracy theorist. Just keep an open mind to alternative stories and explanations, because the truth always lurks somewhere in the middle. Think outside the box.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Cannabis Addiction

Cannabis leaf artwork

Being natural is normal. Being you without any exogenous chemicals is normal. But when you use a substance to get high while hiding behind the excuse, “it makes me normal,” then something is clearly wrong. No drug can make you normal. People want to see the real you and if you’re saying that drugs make you normal, then there is something that you’re doing wrong. Cannabis addiction is notorious for making users believe that the high makes the normal.

Drugs were never created to make you feel normal. There are many arguments behind the creation of drugs, but almost everyone will agree that drugs are not a replacement of your personality. If your personality is changing while experimenting with a drug, then please stop using the drug. If anything good is to be observed from drugs, it’s perhaps their great ability to make you more creative, allow you to think outside the box and relax more efficiently. But your personality must remain congruent with these drug-induced states, or else you’re allowing the drug to mold your personality into someone you’re not.

Breaking bad cannabis addiction chemistry sign

Cannabis Addiction is Real

Many people are still under the impression that you can’t get addicted to cannabis. Many uneducated people continue to push the line, “weed hasn’t killed anyone.” Cannabis addiction has nothing to do with deaths. Drugs such as cocaine, meth, MDMA and PCP can lead to deaths, but cannabis is not one of them. What cannabis shares in common with all other drugs is the potential for psychological addiction. The fact that cannabis doesn’t cause deaths is even more appealing to users. They believe, “if weed isn’t that bad, then why not keep using it?”

The physical safety net of cannabis acts like a reinforcer for people to keep using the drug. The more a person uses, the more they need to consume to get a similar high. This is because their mind, at the receptor and neurotransmitter level, becomes desensitized to the THC; it needs more of it to feel as high as before. So the user consumes more or spends more money on a higher quality product, until they become tolerant to the new dose. In addition, with practice comes perfection. A user will also learn how to more effectively function under a high state of mind, motivating them to consume the drug in different situations.

Overall, the idea of cannabis addiction is something to keep in the back of your mind if you’re a regular user. Reminding yourself of this possibility can help you regulate your intake, especially if you find yourself toking more. There is no shame in catching yourself smoking more and having to cut back down. Your mental health comes first; having fun always comes second.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Cannabis Legal States

Green and orange marijuana buds

Boy was that an election! Donald Trump never stopped being the president and Joe Biden’s mental status likely confused him regarding his election win. But guess who has been impressively standing on stage this entire time delivering the most useful message? Marijuana was recreationally legalized in the states of New Jersey, Arizona, South Dakota and Montana this year. Mississippi came in big by legalizing medical marijuana. It seems that with each passing year, cannabis is gaining more supporters who are pro-legalization. This will lead to more cannabis legal states.

The science remains young and we don’t have enough evidence to conclude any long-term health benefits or adverse effects. But we have reached a point where criminalizing cannabis users is no longer sensical. I mean, going to prison for possession of marijuana? That sounds very archaic. Remember, that even though marijuana is being legalized, should not mean that we become naive to its potential mental health side effects such as anxiety, psychological addiction or even psychosis.

Cannabis legal states - drawing of woman holding hair next to cannabis leaves

Are Cannabis Legal States the Future?

I predict that the United States will legalize cannabis in all fifty states within the next ten years. The people want it legalized, it’s no longer taboo to indulge and it’s great as a stress reliever. Not everyone enjoys drinking a glass of wine to unwind. Some people prefer to take a hit of a vape pen or consume an edible and call it a night. As long as cannabis is used in moderation and you’re not experiencing any mental health symptoms, it should be fine to use. The only thing going against cannabis at the present time is that we lack the science behind long-term side effects. But with ongoing clinical research trials, we will have those answers within the next 5-10 years as well.

Cannabis legalization is here to stay.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Talking About Mental Health

Selective focus photography of hand holding crystal ball

Planet Zer0

Imagine a world where mental health does not exist; let’s call it Planet 0. In this society, there is no recognition of depression, anxiety, psychosis, eating disorders, ADHD, tic disorders, drug addiction, etc. If you suffer from a disorder of the mind, you are considered “weird,” “abnormal,” “strange” or “other-worldly.” In this world, if you have a mental illness, you are ostracized from society; you have to find your way back home because you are not getting into this circle. In this world, talking about mental health is not an option.

Talking about mental health - old man with dementia laying in bed

Talking About Mental Health is Not an Option

People who commit suicide are viewed as weak; “he would have never made it anyways” is the mentality. Drug addicts are considered the scum of the earth on Planet 0. Suffering or even worse, dying, is celebrated by the masses. Psychotic people are one of the most feared and despised. Governments all around the world are considering passing a law to allow citizens to shoot at a psychotic person if they feel threatened.

Essentially, humanity on Planet 0 does not want to have anything to do with mental health. If you are feeling down, your family warns you to get yourself together. Your friends start to lose interest in you if you’re suffering from anxiety. If you are feeling insecure, your significant other is expected to leave you. If you are hallucinating, society no longer knows of you. Psychiatric medications are for lab rats. If you’re even heard of having some medications in your home, your landlord has the right by law to evict you.

In this society, people prefer to be free of mental illness, but do not want to address it. The stigma of mental health is sky-high. Laws are being considered to prevent pharmaceutical companies from creating psychiatric medications. Pharmacies are considering banning psychiatric medications. The suicide rate is on the rise and over 60% of the population is depressed. But society doesn’t care. They view mental illness as a plague and want to wash it off the face of the hearth.

Why do we talk about mental health?

So we can avoid experiencing any sort of stigma that slightly touches or resembles Planet 0.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Keep Chasing Your Dreams

Keep chasing your dreams - live, laugh, love inspirational quote

It’s Not All About Hard Work

Everything starts with your dreams and imagination. What’s the point of working hard if you don’t know why you’re working hard in the first place? What’s the point of endless hours of devotion if all that hard work is not aligned with your dreams? Do you even have dreams? If you’re stuck and don’t know where you’re headed, then start with your dreams. Keep chasing your dreams and you won’t regret the process looking back in the future.

Whenever you become down in life and hopeless that your future is over, remind yourself of your dreams. Allow your dreams to fill you with power, motivation and inspiration. Every time you feel derailed off your path to success, use your dreams to get you back on track. You’ll encounter many moments of discouragement, disappointments and even failures, but it’s how you get yourself back up that matters the most. Use your dreams as an anchor to prevent you from falling too many times; to prevent you from drowning.

Keep chasing your dreams - man walking towards wooden bridge during winter

Keep Chasing Your Dreams – There is No Other Option

A life without dreams is a life without substance. You can have the best job in the world, but if the process and experience are meaningless, then you’re likely lacking dreams. Keep in mind that a great job does not equate to a great dream. You can use your family, intelligence, education and connections to land a great job. But to land a great dream, you need to use your imagination. No human can provide you with that if you refuse to utilize that part of the brain to begin with.

Ok so you have a dream. Now what? The next important thing to remember is to never allow failures to throw you off course. We’ve all experienced failures and had to get back up and restart the process. The restarting part is the most difficult, especially after you put so much work in and still failed. I mean, why keep trying right? Wrong. If you stop trying, then that’s when your dreams start wilting. You have to keep watering your dreams and get ’em back up strong. Once you recover from the failure at hand, about 2-3 weeks later, you feel back on a roll and continue the journey to success.

The formula is simple: 40% hard work + 60% dreams = success

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Think Outside The Box

Person wearing brown cardboard box making peace sign

The Box Will Always Be Full

How long will you keep ignoring your inner urge to seek the truth? Even when you’re presented with tad bits of revelations, you rewind back to your comfort zone of trusting your present reality, as if somehow it were the accurate narrative. This is your psychological defense mechanism hardwired into your mind. Sometimes defense mechanisms have to be severed to evolve as a human being. The alternative is continuing in your present state of mind, which may not be satisfactory or purposeful to your growth. You have to think outside the box.

Many people never leave the box because they never think to do so, don’t care enough, don’t know how to or leave but quickly return back to their comfort zone. Let’s provide an example: ever since you were born, you have been surrounded by authority figures. These figures have included your parents, the educational system and the government. When in the world have you ever been alone and free?

It’s no wonder that every time you attempt to leave the box, you start to experience psychological discomfort and come running back telling yourself, “I have trust in our government, I have trust in the system, I have to trust the process.” As it has already been said, the box will always be full, but are you willing to leave square one and upgrade, perhaps even exponentially, to higher pyramidal levels?

Think outside the box - human head with open window in head

Think Outside The Box – The Upgrade

So how do you go about thinking outside the box? Start by changing your outlook on life by implementing a curious state of mind. Think of a child who explores their environment, asks many questions and tries new activities. You have to find that childish side of you again and tap into it. The beauty about that childish state of mind is that it allows you to develop a lot of curiosity and imagination. This will open you up to new sources of information that can provide you with truth, alternative views on reality and newfound knowledge.

The next question is how do you tap into your childish state of mind? If you’re thinking about maturity, then no, you don’t have to become immature. A childish state of mind can be tapped into by desiring to be curious and exploring for new information. Many people aren’t curious to open up to new sources of information because they’re comfortable in their comfort zone. As I’ve previously written in another post, always staying in your comfort zone can hinder your growth. A comfort zone is safe but comfort does not always equate to growth. Oftentimes, comfort can hinder your growth by preventing you from trying new activities, talking to new people and opening up your mind to new sources of information.

The Execution

Now that you have successfully tapped into your childish state of mind, it’s time to continue your exploration. Thinking outside the box is not only about exploring new sources of information. You also have to be curious to study human behavior. Pay attention to your surroundings and observe the interactions of people in your environment. Notice how they dress, exchange words, converse and pay attention to their body language. Much useful information can be gathered from your surroundings that can help you evolve. Studying human behavior makes you smarter and sharper by expanding your emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is important to have because excellent communication skills can open up new doors for you. By getting good at studying body language, you can place yourself in a great position when conversing with people. This will allow you to know how to interact with them so that you can get the best outcome of the situation you find yourself in. Some may ask, “doesn’t everyone already do this?” No, many people don’t pay attention to human behavior; they are too stuck in their mental bubble. As a result, they don’t get as much out of their encounters with others, missing potential opportunities for improvement.

Think Outside The Box – The Maintenance

You see, thinking outside the box is a mindset that you have to work at if it doesn’t already come naturally. Some people like myself developed a psychological lens since childhood (check out the learn more about me section). But even then, I must still keep working at maintaining this state of mind. We are so influenced by society, that it’s very easy to crawl back in the box and forget about expanding our consciousness. Now you can imagine that this can be a challenge for those who don’t naturally think outside the box. In other words, your aim should be to always think outside the box; make it a permanent mindset.

You must also be careful with the news sources that you rely on to get your information. While mainstream media provides you with the most juicy pictures and stories, much of that information may also have a twist or agenda. These twists and hidden agendas can easily influence you to remain inside the box. You end up becoming comfortable with what’s presented to you and no longer care to explore more independent news sources. You start to believe what is presented to you without even asking questions or doing your research. When this happens, your mind becomes captured by your environment and prevents you from thinking outside the box.

The Wrap-up

In conclusion, to think outside the box requires you to reunite with your childish state of mind. Once tapped into it, you must continuously work at executing this mindset by practicing curiosity, studying your surroundings and playing with your imagination. Lastly, you must make an effort to maintain this mindset by being careful with your surroundings and preventing outside influences from keeping you trapped in the box. I have no timeframe for how long this can last, but my recommendation is to maintain this mindset for life. You will only continue to grow and learn more about yourself and your surroundings. Growth will bring you satisfaction, happiness and a desire to further expand your consciousness.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

You Are What You Think

White dove flying near buildings

Designing Your Reality

Certain people in society who are very successful (call them the ultra 1%) have everything going for them: generational wealth, power, success, political influence, geopolitical decision-making and even concealment of their identity from the masses. They have mastered the art of designing their reality by utilizing wealth and power through the disguise of liberal democracy. Their identity is hidden and that is exactly how they prefer their game of chess. You can be that too; you are what you think.

But one thing the masses have (and you should too) is spirit over mind. We are all taught about mind over matter, as if the mind is the final designer of our reality. It is not if you tap into what God gave us all from inception; he gave us spirituality. You see, your mind is like a computer and like any computer, its memory can be improved, its processor can be sped up, its software can be recreated and its defenses against viruses can be reinforced.

But how exactly does one reinforce its defenses against viruses of the mind? Through one’s spirit. Now, I cannot tell you how to utilize your spirit because no one knows how to, except you and the creator of this world, God. The important point to take away is that you have the power to design your reality through your spirit, which is greater than your mind. You just have to be aware of it and actually put it to use.

You are what you think - drawing of three heads and two brains in front of city

You Are What You Think – Don’t Forget That

Besides utilizing your spirit to design your reality, you must also utilize your mind. Practice positive affirmations starting with “I am.” This signals to your unconscious mind that your affirmation is being directed in the present. Your unconscious mind responds to the present because it records everything in the present moment only. It doesn’t respond to the future because the future does not yet exist. Repeat your affirmations multiple times a day; a few hundred times if possible. Also believe your affirmations and feel that you already have what you’re desiring. Feeling it and believing that you already have it speeds up the process. No one knows how this actually works, but many successful people claim to have utilized this technique to achieve success.

Give your mind wings by utilizing your spirit as a guidance.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Creativity is Intelligence Having Fun

Person holding paintbrush covered in paint

Kill Rigidity with Creativity

You have one computer and that’s all you get. There is no yearly updated version like a brand new Windows computer or MacBook with a new M1 chip. Your brain is all you have and if you don’t continuously upgrade it by challenging yourself, seeking new horizons and crossing new boundaries, then you will remain in your present reality that will eventually dull your existence. Creativity is intelligence having fun.

Guess what happens when your existence is dulled? Mental health problems arise. To avoid such problems, you must constantly recreate your reality by keeping your decision-making in check. What do I mean by this? If you continue to make the same decisions month after month, your reality will not change much. You will become a slave to your environment. Your decisions prescribe your reality; if they’re not carefully crafted, you will puff up with confusion, dismay and displeasure.

Creativity is intelligence having fun - brain inside lightbulb

Creativity is Intelligence Having Fun – The Process

So how do you create wisely? Life is based on trials and errors. Start the trial, pile up the errors and continue to update your computer. But if you don’t start the trial, you don’t have any opportunities to improve yourself. To start the trial, you must first seek to be creatively intelligent. I’m not necessarily referring to arts and music, even though these can help to reshape your reality. I’m referring to your thoughts and getting creative with them. To be creative requires a special form of intelligence that anyone can tap into. It involves the will to use your imagination to explore new thoughts and ideas.

Try to find that inner child of yours that will help you become more imaginatively creative. Remember when you were a kid and how you loved to explore new activities? I used to love playing with snails and other insects in my backyard in Montreal when I was 5 years old. I used to pick them up and position them near each other and observe how they would interact. Today, I dislike insects. That’s what I mean by being creative; finding the desire to try new things. If you can tap into that desire, make it part of your personality and maintain it, it will become much easier for you to alter your reality.

Don’t be one of those people who are afraid to try new things. Your thoughts can be experimented with and can be used to improve your life. But if you remain rigid, life will keep providing you with rigid options. Rigidity prevents you from being flexible, thinking outside the box and trying new people, places and things. Rigidity can be deadly to your mental health. Kill rigidity with creativity.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Tampa Vacation

Clearwater beach resort

From New York City to Tampa, Florida

This is the story of The Kid. His Tampa vacation experience will be shared here. It all started on Friday, September 3rd, 2021. His 2018 black C300 coupe Benz, night edition, needed an oil change. Of course Mercedes sets up the appointment for 8:15am. The kid wakes up at 6:00am on his first day of vacation. Was this the first sign of the restless nights to follow? The kid has his morning coffee, checks crypto prices on CoinMarketCap and starts walking over to his local garage that keeps his Benz. Will another Hispanic garage attendant give him attitude?

The kid casually drives his car throughout Midtown East, heading straight West towards 11th Avenue and 53rd Street on the Westside of Manhattan. The traffic is no where to be found. Thinking that he would arrive late, he does the opposite and arrives 20 minutes early. The kid parks on the side of the road next to the dealership at 7:50am. With country music playing in the car and nothing else to do, he starts to play chess. Time is moving very slowly as if intoxicated on a potent strain of cannabis. The clock then strikes 8:00am and he slowly starts driving towards the dealership and into a spiraling driveway that leads into an enormous underground garage.

As they take the kid’s vehicle for an oil change, he heads one flight up to check out the coffee bar. As he is downing two shots of espresso, a cute girl from his near past texts him. Her name is Chelsea but let’s call her the chick. As the kid texts the chick, plays chess and reads, “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill, the service manager calls him. The oil change was completed within an hour. The kid retreats back to Midtown East in a peaceful state of mind. It’s about 11:00am and he’s scheduled to play tennis at The West Side Tennis Club that afternoon, before heading to the U.S. Open night matches with a group of people.

Pre-Tampa Vacation: Acupuncture Healing

The kid’s neck is aching again and he needs an acupuncture session. He calls the place near his apartment and schedules an appointment for noon. The 6th session goes as usual; twenty minutes covered in needles under a heat lamp followed by a targeted and relaxing deep tissue massage. This time, the lady introduces the kid to cupping. He informs her that he’s leaving on vacation to Tampa and doesn’t want big red marks all over his body. So she only places two cups on his neck and lower back for 10 minutes; no red marks! At this point in time, the kid is feeling relaxed at the start of his vacation. Half the day is completed and he’s already gotten an oil change and acupuncture, and he’s talking to the chick. Everything is going smoothly.

Felix Auger Aliassime playing tennis at 2021 U.S. Open on Armstrong stadium

The U.S. Open

The kid is scheduled to play tennis with another dude from the club at 3:30pm. The traffic leaving Manhattan is painful but he arrives on time. They play for 1 hour and 15 minutes on grass courts and then retreat to the locker room to freshen up for the night. People start to arrive at the tennis club to hang out before heading to The Open. The kid decides to order some calamari and an Irish Coffee. People become intrigued by the Irish Coffee. He tells them, “Gotta have the best of both worlds.”

More people start arriving on the club terrace. The kid retreats with two of his friends at the outdoor bar and orders two Whiskey Smashes. People start heading over to The Open around 6:45pm but the kid gets into a conversation with a white man who is not vaccinated. The conversation becomes political and at that moment the kid is flowing.

He then heads over to The Open with his two friends. They arrive at the electrifying U.S. Open around 7:30pm. His friends bought two seats in a different section of the Armstrong arena. The kid heads over to Section 5 where the group is sitting. They are all drinking Honey Deuces and beers. Many of them also took cannabis gummies. The kid refuses gummies and sticks with ethanol. One drink leads to another and the kid is now very tipsy. Auger Aliassime defeats Bautista Agut in 4 sets. The kid joins his friend in the other section of the stadium to watch one set of the women’s match. The clock strikes 1:00am. They take a picture, a green cab back to the tennis club and head home.

Tampa Vacation: September 4th, 2021

This is the day when the kid is scheduled to fly to Tampa for the first time. Thank God the flight is at 4:00pm. The kid arrived home at 2:00am and woke up at 8:00am with the effects of too much ethanol in his system. Day one of alcohol intoxication has been completed. He then hops onto his Peloton for a 45 minute cycling session to sweat off the toxins from the U.S. Open. He also orders a funky, red ginger juice from a local deli on 1st Avenue that supposedly helps with liver detoxification. The taste is nasty but he does feel somewhat better. Maybe it’s psychological. At this point, the kid is getting exciting for his upcoming jetBlue flight. He orders an Uber that takes him to Laguardia airport.

It costs him $48 dollars to be dropped off at the airport. Thank you New York for ripping him off again. But he’s going to Tampa today so it’s all good. He cruises through the short security line and heads to his gate. The kid studies the people arriving at the gate to see who is heading to Tampa. No unusual observations are made. He then hops onto the plane to his amazing seat; 7a right by the window. The flight is smooth sailing and he arrives 40 minutes ahead of scheduled arrival. He lands in Tampa at 7:00pm only to notice gray skies and rain showers. He hits up his friend Scott who picks him up in an SUV with over 150k miles. They head to his booked hotel room in downtown Tampa.

Tampa vacation - sunset by palm trees

The Tampa vacation shifts to downtown where they try to find a bar to drink and get some dinner. Both Scott and the kid are hungry. They stop at a bar called GenX Tavern. The kid gets a grilled chicken sandwich and a salad while Scott only gets an appetizer. Was this a mistake made by Scott? Should he have eaten more than just a small appetizer? People in the bar are clearly intoxicated. A group of college girls are singing to the music and dancing; others are sitting at the bar and tables. The kid and Scott ask the waiter about the differences between Ybor City and Hyde Park. The waiter responds, “Ybor city is trash, Hyde Park is classy.” Hyde Park becomes the next destination. The time is 10:30pm.

The kid and Scott find a ghetto liquor store on the outskirts of downtown Tampa. You know this liquor store is ghetto when you have a homeless person standing next to your car door in the parking lot asking for alcohol. In addition, the inside of the liquor store was covered by glass all around; you couldn’t access the liquor. Scott suggests to get Bombay Gin to emulate their college experience back at the University of Pittsburgh. They purchase a 5th of gin and two mini gins for the bar. They then head to a CVS in downtown Tampa to purchase juice and cups for the drinks, before heading back to the hotel for the pregaming. Before the drinking begins, they set good intentions for the night and Scott informs the kid that he plans on driving. That means that he’s not drinking a lot.

Hip hop music starts bumping from the MacBook Pro speakers as they take their first shot and pour their first mixed drink. The kid starts teaching Scott about crypto investing, in particular, XRP The Standard. Scott becomes preoccupied with opening up an Uphold account on his cell phone to purchase XRP, while the kid is dancing and drinking more. Scott then takes another shot and starts loosening up. They then pour another mixed drink. Scott becomes slightly hesitant but the kid is loving the experience. With the Bombay Gin on the table and the Hip hop music delivery, he feels like he’s reliving his Shadyside college days again with his good friend. Scott takes notice of the energy and continues to indulge. At this point, the clock strikes 11:30pm and they are drunk. Scott tells him that he’s not driving and they decide to take an Uber to Hyde Park.

The Hyde Park Experience

The Tampa vacation shifts to Hyde Park. They tell the Uber driver to be dropped off at a bar named MacDinton’s. The pissed off Indian Uber driver drops them off at another corner bar next to MacDinton’s. Imagine three outdoor bars all in the same vicinity packed with college students. That was Hyde Park. They get out the vehicle and head into the corner bar. The kid gets carded. Am I underage again he asks? Back from the dead. They get a drink at the outdoor bar and stand around having a good time.

A group of cute girls are also standing around. The leader of the group approaches the kid with a big smile. One thing leads to another, and the kid is then talking to multiple cute girls. Scott is also mingling and having a good time. They inform the kid and Scott that they are speech pathology students at USF. The kid takes out his mini shot of gin and gives some to one of the girls. Her friends seem a little concerned and ask him, “Why aren’t you drinking it?” The kid then downs it. Were they suspicious that it was GHB?

They finally head to MacDinton’s. There were so many people on the property that it was difficult to move at times. They approach two girls and start vibing. One of them was dark-skinned and the other was white. Then a group of their friends arrive and the leader of the group is holding a large cup with three straws. They are digging our presence and allow us to drink from the cup. What in the world was in that? The kid tastes it but it tastes like water! So he tells her, “This tastes like water!” The girl immediately becomes offended and leaves off with the group. The two girls they were initially talking to feel bad and leave off with their friends. The kid and Scott laugh and move on.

Tampa Vacation – The Baptism

They then head to the third bar on the corner which was not a hit. They could not get any conversations going so they head back to the original bar. The kid approaches two girls sitting at the outside bar and gets into a pleasant conversation. He also orders two more beverages. It’s then that Scott approaches him and the girls and says, “I’m not feeling goooood!” The girls tell the kid, “Go help your friend!”

So the kid takes Scott to a small bathroom with one toilet and urinal. Scott sits on the floor by the toilet and keeps complaining. The kid tells him, “Scott, just throw up! You’ll feel better!” But Scott refuses to do so. At this point, random dudes enter to take a piss. The kid asks them for assistance and to encourage Scott to vomit. They all tell him some variant of the same message, “We’ve all been there. Just throw up, you’ll feel better.”

Scott continues to hang onto the toilet while complaining. A tall white dude with long hair who looks like he could be a surfer from Southern California enters. One thing leads to another and the kid tells him that he’s moving to Tampa in 9 months to work as a psychiatrist. The dude is intrigued. Then his friend walks in to also take a piss and is annoyed with him.

The kid is standing between them feeling like he’s holding a psych session in the middle of the night, in a bar bathroom with two strangers, while Scott is on the floor thinking, “What?! I’m supposed to have the attention!” The dudes leave. Then a black dude enters to piss. The kid figures that since Scott is black, maybe he will listen to the black dude. So the kid tells the black dude to tell Scott to vomit, at which point you hear the biggest vomit coming from the corner. Scott finally did it!

But right when you were expecting things to get better, Scott lays on the floor complaining, “I can’t get upppp! I’m gonna dieeee!” At this point, the kid is getting annoyed. Here he is on vacation with his good friend who can’t hold his own. The kid felt like he was babysitting. He then decides to turn on the sink and splash water onto Scott’s face, thinking that it would wake him up and get him off the floor. But lo and behold, Scott continues to lay there like a flopping fish! Magikarp is that you?

Magikarp Pokemon

So the kid continues to splash water on his face and Scott continues to whine, “I can’t breathhhhh!” Random guys open the door wanting to take a piss only to see a black male laying in a puddle of water and a white male throwing water on this face. Was this George Floyd 2.0 in the making? So they close the door and don’t enter the bathroom. The bartender then comes and yells at Scott, “You have to get up NOW and LEAVE!” Then Scott finally gets up and they head towards the front of the bar which was closing. Scott lays down on the grass while they call his cousins to come pick him up.

His cousins arrive in a white coupe and they help Scott into the vehicle. With Scott gone and the bars closed, the kid links up with one of the girls from the bar. She was annoyed with what happened to Scott, in particular with the kid, thinking that he wasn’t helping his friend. Did she know that the kid spent half an hour with Scott in the bathroom? It doesn’t matter what she knew. She also ended up putting her phone number in the kid’s cell.

Then her San Diego friend comes back with some Amazonian guy with a funky hairdo. He is with his short Puerto Rican friend. They invite the kid and the girls to their apartment since the bars are closed. The kid arrives at their apartment at 4:00am. At this point, he is starting to lose interest in the girl. From drinking Honey Deuces at the U.S. Open, to catching a flight to Florida and to being with two girls and two dudes in a random house in Tampa at 4:00am, all within 24 hours… It was time to retreat back to the hotel.

Sunday, September 5th – Clearwater Beach

The kid leaves the Puerto Rican’s apartment at 4:30am and crashes back at the hotel at 5:00am. He wakes up at 9:00am wondering how Scott is doing. Fifteen minutes later, the phone rings and it’s Scott. They decipher last night’s events for an hour or so while cracking jokes on the baptism that the kid was performing when throwing water on his face. They then plan to go to Clearwater beach.

The kid goes to a local juice shop to pick up lunch since it was too late to get a decent breakfast at the hotel. He then hits the hotel gym and burns off 200 calories on the elliptical. Scott then calls and arrives at the hotel gym around 1:30pm. They go upstairs to get ready and head to Scott’s SUV which was left overnight at the hotel. They then drive on a long highway in the middle of Old Tampa Bay leading to St. Pete’s. The drive was about an hour.

Tampa vacation - Beach in Clearwater Florida

The Tampa vacation marches on. They finally arrive in Clearwater but cannot find parking; it was madness everywhere. But at least it was a beautiful day; sunny and 88 degrees. They finally find parking after driving around through Clearwater for 20 minutes. The kid remembers how he had sun poisoning in Charleston two years ago, and informs Scott that he needs to stop and buy sunscreen. They enter a CVS only to find big bottles of sunscreen priced at $13 dollars. “I don’t need this much sunscreen,” the kid complains in an annoyed voice.

So they leave the CVS and Scott then tells him, “Let’s go in here;” it was a local surf shop. The kid gets a couple of souvenirs and sunscreen and heads to the counter to check out. He then spots some Delta-8 THC and excitedly tells Scott, “We should get it!” They leave the shop with a small pack called, “Skittles” and arrive at the entrance of the beach. They look at each other with a smile on their face and decide to take a Skittle; the clock read 3:10pm.

The Therapeutic Beach

Tampa vacation - Clearwater beach boardwalk

They then step foot on Clearwater beach, observing the people along the way, before finally settling for a spot near the water. They slowly make their way into the clear water which felt like a warm bath. The experience was beyond therapeutic; imagine the ocean giving you a warm massage from the gentle waves with the sun shining from above. At 4:00pm, the kid and Scott entertain the idea of taking another Skittle. The kid says, “We should wait ’till 4:30pm,” but they both decide to take another one at 4:00pm. They go back in the water.

At this point, they can’t tell if they are relaxed from the beach or from a combination of the environment and the Delta-8. As they float in the water, they suddenly notice a group of seagulls flying above; they were diving for small fish near the shore. The kid and Scott become mesmerized by the birds as if sucked into a vortex; they cannot stop staring at the them. It felt like the birds were throwing a dance for them. Everyone else in the water was ignoring the birds as if blind to their beautiful presence. At this point, they realized that the Delta-8 had kicked in and had magnified the beauty of nature right before their eyes.

The Delta-8 Anxiety

The Tampa vacation gets cloudy. They head back on the sand and kick back on the towels to relax. They then notice four black, tall male teenagers getting ready to go mack on a group of white teenage girls. The leader of the group encourages them, “4-man, 4-man we got this, don’t be scared!” They then casually approach the girls and maintain a conversation for 20-30 minutes. The kid and Scott were impressed and kept observing the natural beauty of flirting between opposite genders. Was the delta-8 intensifying this experience too? At about 5:30pm, they decide to leave the beach and head to a local seafood restaurant. It was then that the kid realized that two Skittles was too much because he started feeling very anxious. The anxiety felt like a borderline panic attack, except that it kept lingering on and wouldn’t go away.

The kid anxiously awaits getting to the local restaurant so that he can have an alcoholic beverage. He remembers from his studies that alcohol eases anxiety in the moment like benzodiazepines, since they both act on the GABA-A receptors. They arrive at the local restaurant and step inside. As soon as they open the door, all the locals stop what they’re doing and turn around to stare at them. It felt like something out of a movie. They finally get seated outside and order their food. Scott becomes disappointed because out of all the seafood dishes he could have ordered, he got a Greek salad. To make things worse, the salad didn’t even come with the dressing of his liking, and he had to tell the waitress multiple times to bring him ranch. They finally head back to Tampa with the Delta-8 slowly calming down. So long Clearwater!

Tampa vacation - Clearwater Florida sunset

Ybor City

The Tampa vacation floats to Ybor City. The kid and Scott arrive at the hotel for another planned night out, but this time in Ybor City. The kid revisits the Bombay Gin and Scott takes a sip of the $20 dollar red wine he had just purchased from a store in downtown Tampa. But Scott is not drinking that much and is also very quiet. The kid knows something is up with him. He tries to encourage him to drink more so he can elevate his mood and get in the party mindset.

Scott drinks a little more wine and some gin but says that his body is not feeling it. The kid feels bad because he wants Scott to have a good time with him. So he asks him, “What about the gummies?” A big smile manifests onto Scott’s face and he then takes another Skittle. The kid warns Scott to not take anymore because he already has 750 mg of Delta-8 in his system.

Tampa vacation - old school red gangster convertible with gold rims

They arrive in Ybor City at midnight. The streets are filled with cars blaring music and many people in the bars. The majority of people were black. They enter a bar and the kid gets another drink, observing the random girls participating in karaoke on stage. They then leave the bar and walk on the sidewalks of Ybor City. The kid is not feeling the vibe and tells Scott that they should go back to Hyde Park. Scott takes two more Skittles even though the kid told him not to do so.

They take an Uber back to Hyde Park at 1:00am. They go back to MacDinton’s. Scott disappears in the background while the kid is talking to college students and random blonde girls. At 3:00am, the bar closes and everyone is kicked out. The kid is hanging out with a white college dude and random blonde girls in the parking lot. He asks one of the girls if he can take a hit of her nicotine vape. He then tells her that Donald Trump was the best. The blonde girl with the vape suddenly says, “Donald Trump was the best president!” Then a random white dude wearing a cool purple Justin Bieber Drew smiley face t-shirt shows the kid pictures of his blue sports car. The kid looks at him and responds, “I drive a Benz.”

Tampa Vacation: Monday, September 6th, 2021 – Labor Day

The Tampa vacation cools down in Channelside. The kid wakes up in the morning, but this time not having heard from Scott. He is a little concerned that the Skittles may have kicked in. He calls Scott but he does not answer. Scott then texts him, “The gummies kicked in. I’m not feeling well. I’ll text you later when I have a clear mind.” It’s already mid-afternoon and no further word from Scott. The kid is FaceTiming with Chelsea the chick while the Tampa vacation approaches Riverview. The kid walks along the river observing people rollerblading, bicycling, and jogging. He finally arrives in Channelside and sits down at an outdoor bar to order a Margarita and watered-down vodka.

Tampa vacation - Channelside river and buildings

Scott is missing in action on Labor Day (“what an ending to my Tampa vacation”, I think to myself). Life took an interesting twist; the kid is spending his last day in Tampa FaceTiming Chelsea while Scott is recovering from 1000+ mg of Delta-8 THC. Poor Scott. The kid feels bad because he feels like he may have influenced him into partying. But the kid also feels annoyed because he felt like he was babysitting Scott on Saturday night. And why did Scott consume so many Skittles? At this point, what’s done was done.

The kid continues to explore Channelside, knowing that he will be moving there in nine months. He retreats back to the hotel while still FaceTiming the chick and orders seafood from Grubhub. He then plays truth or dare with Chelsea over FaceTime while watching “J. T.” Brooksby take the first set from Novak Djokovic at the U.S. Open. At 11:00pm, the kid and Chelsea end their 13-hour Labor Day FaceTime session (world’s longest FaceTime session) and call it a holiday. It turned out to be a nice closure to my Tampa vacation.

So Long Tampa – I’ll be Back in May, 2022

The next morning while the kid is waiting to board his flight at the American Airlines gate, Scott calls him. They end up having a thirty minute conversation about everything that went down with Scott. The kid apologies for influencing him to party but also feels bad that Scott wasn’t able to hang without any problems. But he then informs him to focus on the positive experiences of the weekend and to forget about the intoxications. He reminds him that everyone has gone through bad experiences with alcohol and marijuana edibles. The kid boards his flight and takes a last look at Tampa from the sky, knowing that he will be back in May, 2022 to look for an apartment in Channelside. He will be moving to Tampa in June, 2022. The Tampa vacation flies off to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and beyond.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

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