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)

Is Overthinking a Mental Illness?

Person overthinking by standing in field of flowers holding ball against face

Mysteries of Mental Illness

The act of overthinking in and of itself is not a mental illness. Overthinking can be observed as early as childhood, when children become obsessed with certain passions or activities. It can also be observed in adolescence, when they start analyzing their peers, their role and how they view themselves in the social realm of their life. Overthinking is not a bad experience unless it starts to chip away at your education, work and quality of relationships. You should never be overthinking to the point of experiencing daily disruptions.

What is Overthinking?

So why do we overthink in the first place? If I could come up with all the reasons for it, this would become the world’s longest blog post. In a nutshell, we overthink because we’re insecure by nature. Thinking is the process of accumulating available information, analyzing it and making something meaningful out of it. Overthinking can also be a process of protecting yourself from toxic relationships. Ideally, you want to process the information at a comfortable rate and move on. But when you’re overthinking, you’re spending more time than needed analyzing information and connecting dots. Some dots may not be fruitful or even exist in the first place.

Can overthinking be a mental illness? Those who do have a mental illness such as OCD tend to overthink. They experience obsessive thoughts that are anxiety-provoking, followed by compulsions such as cleaning, checking or ordering. Their obsessive thoughts are rooted in the act of overthinking. OCD is one of the most difficult anxiety disorders to treat, often requiring very high doses of antidepressants along with cognitive behavioral therapy.

White woman laying down on brown leaves thinking

Treatments for Overthinking

What is a way to treat overthinking so that it doesn’t affect your quality of life? Try meditation, a process where you become nonjudgmental of your thoughts and observe them floating away like clouds in the sky. Meditation helps you let go of those thoughts that cause you to overthink, by dedicating a select amount of time each day to thoughts that bother you. It’s not a quick fix, but it certainly can help. You can also try exercising. The act of distracting yourself from overthinking by indulging in physically strenuous behavior does help. Your mind becomes focused on the physical exertion rather than any annoying thoughts.

Another option to help you with overthinking is to find someone who you feel comfortable sharing your thoughts and concerns with. Talking is one of the most therapeutic acts and when you find someone who is a great listener, it becomes even more therapeutic. The act of sharing with others what is on your mind can greatly alleviate your suffering from overthinking. By revealing your concerns in the open and making it easier for you to discard them, you’ll feel more at ease in no time.

What is your experience with overthinking?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

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How Weather Affects Your Mood

Yellow city bus on snowy road between buildings during daytime

Elements of Earth: Different States of Mind

Rainy: This is that cushy mental feeling where you know that your day is gone, (meaning you’re stuck inside) and that you’re totally fine with getting cozy and not accomplishing much. How does weather affect your mood? This state of mind can also be accompanied by excitement and stimulation, such as getting ready to study something in your area of interest; study for any looming exams or reading your favorite book or novel. When tapped into this, you don’t even want to go outside; you have brought the outside world in. This is how the weather affects your mood.

You stare out the window and find comfort in the dropping rain, observing the various speeds of the droplets change over a matter of time. If you’re lucky to experience a euphoric window breeze, then you’re practically sold at this point. Include meditation and prayer and become one with your environment; inwardly-outwardly connected.

How Weather Affects Your Mood: The Winter Months

Snowy: When you know that you’re going to get hit by a snowstorm, your mind is already prepared several days beforehand; it becomes a rehearsal when two or more storms make landfall during one season. When a storm arrives, oftentimes early in the morning, you wake up knowing that there’s no way you’re going to work that day. Sometimes you wake up early in the morning, still dark out, and quickly put on your coat to check out the outdoors. You surprisingly step out into 12 inches of snow; it feels like walking on ice cream (vanilla all the way). When you realize that there’s no way you’re driving to work, your state of mind disconnects from any work-related matters; you go back in your inner world.

With the snow accumulating and making your outside surroundings like a fairy-tail, you begin to relax and appreciate your time off. Snow has a calming effect because it puts you in a mood of intense relaxation. There is something very comforting about seeing snow fall while getting warm in the comforts of your living room. If rainy is the cushy state of mind, then snowy is cushy x 2. This is how weather affects your mood.

Beach and blue ocean waves during sunrise

Weather and Mood: Here comes the Sun

Sunny: Must we even get into this one? If living in the Northeast, you’ll probably easily relate. California readers, I’m sorry; I know it’s a different world out there. Bottom line: you appreciate every moment of it. It brightens your mood, excites and stimulates you, is easy to make plans to and feels amazing on your skin when you step outside. The sunny state of mind is like drinking two extra cups of great morning coffee (without actually drinking them). You feel ready to tackle the day, multitask and save time, plan and conquer and feel accomplished by evening.

Cloudy: This might be the worst state of mind (maybe even top 10 for humankind). We’re not including rain here. This is solely a cloudy day with no smile in the sky, like as if the sun is hiding or taking a break. In this state of mind, depression is very easy to kick into; for some, it’s only to the degree of sadness. Let’s admit it, you can feel sad during cloudy days! There’s nothing to hide here. I don’t know one person who enjoys cloudy days. Try living in places like Pittsburgh, PA where I grew up; it’s literally sunny every 4-5 days or so. It makes a big difference waking up in a state where it’s sunny all the time, versus a state where the sun is interrupted by heavy layers of clouds. I’m sorry, but I rather pick a zip code with much sun.

Chills: Are you cold yet?

Chilly: This is when you’re literally approaching winter around the corner, but you can still get away with your favorite light clothes. This is when you throw on a long-sleeve shirt and can still get away with comfort, sometimes even during evenings. But there is something anxiety-provoking about the chilly experience; it makes you feel like difficulties are lying ahead due to the winter season approaching. Chilly is like kissing the season of Fall away and welcoming winter into your life. This is how weather affects your mood.

What’s your experience with the various weatherly states of mind?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

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Pandemic Mental Health Crisis

Black woman in white tank top holding sad child with mask on face

My Mental Health is Deteriorating

The seeds of the pandemic mental health crisis sprouted when we experienced the Spring 2020 lockdowns where non-essential businesses were forced to close. Many people were left without a job and struggling to make ends meet. We all experienced the recommendations of spending less time outdoors to avoid contact with potentially sick pedestrians and limiting our time in stores. I personally used to run in the park and spend time on benches to enjoy nature. Many people also cluttered in parks. But many people also got very scared and listened to everything the media and government told them. They spent their days locked in their apartments staring out their windows in the midst of a brewing depressive and/or anxiety crisis. Some parts of the world today are still experiencing lockdowns, such as Australia. Doesn’t the government know that they contribute to mental health disorders ? Of course they do.

Pandemic Mental Health Crisis: The Jabs

This is a very controversial topic because half of Americans and many across the world are weary about getting vaccinated. These vaccines were released to the public in a year. The average vaccine trial takes about 14 years. In addition, Moderna’s and Pfizer’s vaccines use mRNA technology to deliver the genetic material coding for the viral spike proteins. mRNA vaccines were never previously introduced unto the public. Why did they introduce them now during a pandemic? What are the long-term side effects? To make things even worse, local and state governments as well as the federal government have been pushing vaccine mandates. NYC recently passed a law prohibiting unvaccinated people from indoor dining, going to the gym or any public events without proof of vaccination. Healthcare workers and many other businesses are now being mandated to become vaccinated or risk termination. Don’t you think this raises the stress level of many people who rightfully choose to be unvaccinated? This is increasing the anxiety level in many people. On the other hand, many believe that the benefits of becoming vaccinated outweigh the potential long-term risks of these vaccines. People don’t want to catch COVID! Both sides make great points, but this doesn’t mean that mental illness is not at play here.

Bottles of COVID vaccine

The Unpredictable Future

Considering that the current vaccines only prevent severe illness from COVID and not minor illness, in addition to similar viral loads in vaccinated and unvaccinated people, will this not result in deadlier strains in the near future? I find it silly that the USA is going to provide booster shots starting the 20th of September. Many third world countries have still not gotten their first shots. Don’t they realize that new variants will arise in those countries, making booster shots essentially meaningless? The point of a booster shot is to raise your antibody levels back up to when you got your last shot 8 months ago. If new variants will arise that will likely be immune to the current vaccines, what is the point of booster shots? All of this is raising the stress levels in many people, causing them to become anxious and depressed, and many even isolated inside their homes.

What is your experience with mental health during this pandemic?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

The COVID Pandemic: A Mental Health Crisis smiley GIF face

Acupuncture for Neck Pain

Person placing acupuncture needles in skin

Can Acupuncture help with Anxiety?

I was sitting at a tennis club (similar feel to a small country club) chatting away with two men twice my age and a woman four years younger than me. We were talking about possible treatments for my neck pain. That very moment the contents of acupuncture were spilled on the terrace table next to my chicken Cesar salad. Acupuncture for neck pain? I was being informed of the benefits and positive experiences of acupuncture, such as relief of pain. Here I was suffering from chronic neck pain for over a year with no solution in mind.

I had tried stretching and a change in pillows with no luck. One random weekend evening, I decided to search for acupuncture clinics in my vicinity. Long story short, I arrive at the appointment and inform them of my neck pain. I show the doctor my poor range of flexibility with my neck from side to side. He senses right away after touching my neck that it’s very tight. He instructs me to take off my shirt and lie down on the sanitized table (I can still smell the alcohol).

Acupuncture for Neck Pain: Needle Insertion

He then does a test run and sticks a needle in my anterior scalene muscles. He asks me if I felt anything and I told him no. As a matter of fact, of course you feel it but it feels like a pinprick; literally no pain. So then he instructs me to turn over and he starts going to work finding different meridian points on my body to place the needles. There must have been 6-8 needles in the back of my neck, some in my arms and right elbow region (I suffer from Tennis Elbow at times), and during this last session, in my ankles.

I’ve had four sessions thus far and feel quite satisfied. I noticed an improvement in my neck pain within several days of session #1. The best way I can describe the obvious physical difference is like this: it felt like the back of my neck had become numb; imagine applying a bunch of lidocaine gel. And here I was getting this effect from a few needles placed into my skin! He also instructed me to do some vertical and lateral neck exercises at home which I’ve been doing (sometimes not so consistently).

Acupuncture model of person with meridian points

Acupuncture Conclusion

Overall, my neck feels much more relaxed, loose and tolerant of pain. I don’t think it’s 100%, but sometimes I wonder if I even know what 100% feels like anymore. I’m 31 and I’m expecting to have the body of a 14-year-old who never had to stretch after playing 2-3 hours of intense tennis on a Saturday afternoon. It’s just not realistic. I also enjoy playing tennis on weekends and have been doing so for the last three years while living in New York. The tennis takes a tole on my body and if I don’t stretch consistently, the low back pain that tends to come on after playing for two hours may end up lasting for 3-5 days.

And an interesting fact: acupuncture can help with pain by increasing the release of more endogenous opioids (known as endorphines) within your brain and cerebral spinal fluid.

Bottom line is this: if I want to remain fit and athletic, I must tolerate some pain along the way.

Oh yeah, and can acupuncture help with anxiety? Well, if you don’t consider pain anxiety, then I don’t know what anxiety means to you.

What’s your experience with sports, pain and/or acupuncture?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Acupuncture for neck pain smiley winking GIF face

Psychology of Hating Someone

Frowning white man biting hand

The Hating Game

Everyone has experienced it. It’s that uncomfortable feeling within you when someone else is jealous, envious and insecure.Humor is often a disguise; it’s the lubricant for the hating game that helps ease the intensity of the experience. Those who don’t catch onto the haters have no idea what’s going on; they may think that the person is just playing around and end up giving them more power by being naive. The psychology of hating is based on three factors: jealously, envy and insecurity.

Jealously: People are jealous for a laundry list of reasons. One main reason is because of how you carry yourself. If you have your (shit) together (pardon my French, did not know what other word would best substitute it), such as being successful, dressing nicely, carrying yourself with confidence, having a lot of money, etc, some people will naturally be inclined to hate. Sometimes they don’t even know that they’re doing it; I call it “unconsciously hating.” Jealousy often consists of one or more emotions such as anger, resentment or inadequacy.

Jealous eye staring at man kissing woman

Psychology of Hating Someone: Envy

Envy: Is envy the same as jealously? I like to think that they are little different. While jealously is what I described above, I believe envy is more associated with emotional pain. When people envy you, they cannot stand that you have a quality or desirable attribute that they don’t have. While quite similar to jealously, people who envy others experience resentment and disgust; they also experience a deep pain. Many are jealous but do not necessarily hate; they lie at the borderline of hating. But those who envy are certainly hating.

Psychology of Hating Someone: Insecurity

Insecurity: This is the most powerful factor out of the three because it stems from deep inside the hater’s psyche. The entire reason that people hate is not because of jealously or envy. They hate because they are insecure to begin with; they are not confident or assured and are uncertain and anxious. When they identify attributes which they lack, their insecurity burns with fire, as if someone just ignited a forest fire. Naturally, insecurity branches off into jealously and envy. If they work on their insecurity and become confident, the room for jealously and envy grows smaller and they become more confident in accepting their own traits and qualities.

Let’s be real, we have all hated on others and experienced jealously, envy and insecurity. But many of us recover from this destructive state of mind by working on our insecurities. When you start focusing on bettering yourself and appreciating others’ success, you will find more peace in your heart. You will even grow to appreciate how much others have that you don’t; you will become motivated to learn from them so that you can attain their level of success. This is how it works!

This is the psychology of hating. What’s your experience with it?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

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