I’m Hijacking This Train and I Need Your Help

(here we go)

“Are you okay?”

A lot of emails I got from friends this summer started this way.

I have to admit: not really. So I understood why they were concerned.

I’m 36 years old as of today.

I thought by the time I was 36 I’d be a lot further in life.

Do you ever feel that way?

I thought I’d be married at 27 but it didn’t work out.

I thought I’d be rich by 30, and I almost got there but missed.

I thought for sure I’d have kids by 35. Maybe I’d have enough money to retire or at least not work so much. And I thought I’d have done something significant by now: own a skyscraper in a big city, corner the cadmium market, write a life-changing book, be on Oprah winfrey with my life-saving invention. In the words of Lou Reed: “I just don’t know”. None of it happened.

I’ve always been a little early to the game and a little late to the game. Don’t ask me to explain that, but it’s true. In some ways I’m 80 years old and in others I’m 19.

Do you ever feel that way?

Some of my friends are married with kids, some are divorced. Some are happy, some are depressed. Some have had success, some have failed miserably. Some have died or almost died, or rebounded from an addiction, or become addicted. Some are sick. And I feel like in some ways, I’m just getting started while having lived 5 lives already. So maybe I’m late to the game.

(brains are like puppies)

(brains are like puppies)

But all we have is now. History exists only in the clues it leaves behind, in the things we grasp. The brain is like a puppy that needs training: “drop that thought! quit chewing on that emotion! don’t poop in that dream! it peed on my ideas again. darn puppy brain.” And I can choose: leave the puppy to itself, or train the puppy to do as I say.

So I’m not okay. My puppy brain needs training.

Actually, I think I’ve gone totally crazy. Time is too short to keep living someone else’s dream and allowing the puppy to run wild. How’d I get to 35 and how am I 36 today? I don’t want to be a slave anymore. Someone please stop this train. I tried to stop it but the train wouldn’t stop.

(okay, so I'm not this crazy. Yet.)

(okay, so I’m not this crazy. yet. I hope.)

So I had to do something. And with a little help from a few people, I did.

I left the job that I expected would make me rich (the stock price says otherwise), I went all-in on a relationship that was in limbo and it didn’t work so I cut it out completely. I got rid of all my overhead – sold my home in Portland, Oregon, gave up my apartment in Boulder, CO, put my things in storage, and have zero-debt and zero obligations except to myself. Luckily I have some cash in the bank, an amazing family, and an amazing (new) relationship with someone I love.

And I have skillzzzz.

I’ve done a lot of things, helped a lot of people and made some people some money.

I’ve written about some things, and you’re going to be able to watch the rest as it unfolds real-time.

This is not a test (but it is an experiment).

I’m in mid air.

Everything has been building to this moment.

(it's not a test, it's an experiment)

(this is not a test. this is an experiment)

Because over the last 5 months I’ve been behind the scenes working on stuff while publicly bleeding my guts into blog posts and articles for other publications.

It’s no coincidence I’m in Maui literally running around the island going places where most people don’t go and talking to people most people don’t talk to. This is the gift to myself. A new start and part of a bigger life project (I’ll explain that one later).

It’s the turning point in my plan: from here on out I’m taking full control. As my friend Kash said: “I’m Calling Myself Out”.

From now on it will be “Before Maui and After Maui (BeM, AfM).”

I’ll still bleed my guts out for you to read, but I’m going to show you what I’m doing step by step. I’m going to become a source for you to see what to do and what not to do as I pursue the ideas I want to pursue. Learn from my success or avoid my mistakes.

Don’t know how to register a business? Great. I’ve done it a lot and I can show you how.

Have an idea and don’t know where to start? I’ll explain what I do and what I’ve seen that works.

Don’t know where to get a nondisclosure agreement, a licensing agreement or how to structure a deal? I’ll tell you what I use.

Want to go somewhere? I’ll share my favorite places and what to do there that may be off the beaten path.

Having a hard day? I have them all the time, and I’m going to share how I cope.

Just need someone to relate to? Read this blog.

I might fail at this. Some of my ideas won’t work. I might need your help at some point. I may need your couch (seriously).

But.

Maybe this will help you take a step towards doing those things you’ve always wanted to do. Maybe it will make your life better. Maybe it will just make you smile a little bit. If that happens, I’d consider this experiment a success. At least we will share the human experience as the layers of expectation peel away and unveil the horizon of dreams being chased.

Some people won’t be happy. “You Can’t!” they’ll say. “Ha! That’s not a business!” they’ll taunt. “Who do you think you are?” They’ll ask. And that’s okay. I see them in the rearview mirror all the time.

(leave the storms behind you)

(leave the storms behind you)

What happens next will all be real and exciting and I just can’t wait any longer for someone to say it’s my turn. It’s always been my turn. It’s always your turn. You just have to start.

So I’m 36 now and I’m not getting off the train. I’m hijacking the damn train going full speed ahead to my own destination.

Just so you know: I’m not okay, I’m great. I’m refreshed, energized and excited. It’s now or never.

Thank you for the Birthday Wishes via facebook, texts and calls. This is my new beginning and I hope you find it entertaining. In the mean time, I’m in Maui and I’m going to play in the ocean. Happy Birthday to me.

(wywh)

(wywh)

A Secret Way To Control Yourself In Any Situation (Micropost)

(there are people that make us feel like this, but they don't control us)

(there are people that make us feel like this, but they can’t control us if we know His secret)

She said something to me on the phone.

Actually, it was a text message so I kept it.

It was awful. One of the worst things anyone has ever said to me.

Someone else said something to me with their mouth.

It doesn’t matter what they said, you know what it feels like:

It burns you and you force every cell in your body not to lash out.

Sometimes it doesn’t work and I lash out with words puking all over. Uggh.

The words stick to the brain like flypaper trapping a million dying flies.

Putrifying, the words rot year after year until you let them go.

But in the moment, you want to react. You want to puke out the horrible thoughts at the instigator.

Or you might be like me and do what our brains are trained to do: run, eject, disappear.

Why stay and subject ourselves to repeated offenses? Sometimes we have to, but not always.

(sometimes I wish my life had an ejector seat)

(the secret is like an ejector seat)

If you’re in an abusive relationship, and verbally abusive relationships can be just as bad as those physically abusive, we should disappear: Andy Dufresne the heck out of there. Don’t be afraid of burning bridges, just go.

If they are people you work with, heed this advice first.

How we react is important.

Our reactions often determine the course of the future.

So, what would you do if you knew a secret that allowed you to control your reaction in any situation, especially when someone boils your blood?

Viktor Frankl figured out this secret. I use it; now you can too:

“Between stimulus and response there is a space.
In that space is our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

(how it feels when we use Viktor's secret)

(how it feels when we use Viktor’s secret)

No one controls us. No one can force our response, even though they want to.

We can do anything.

Let’s do it.

Hero #32

(he was famous to us)

(he was famous to us)

He was number 32.

We scanned the screen of every game to catch him in action. He wasn’t a top player, but he was captain of special teams and put his all onto the field.

He is my cousin and he is a hero to me.

I just sat next to him at my Aunt Joanne’s dinner table trying to match him plate-for-plate but never could, eating myself sick instead. Now he was there on TV playing pro football just a week or two later.

(he was #23 on the steelers)

(he was #23 on the steelers)

I learned that I wasn’t very good at football but I’d play at recess anyway. He was my inspiration, so I’d try hard.

I earned school cred having the only family member in the NFL, which kept me from getting picked on a couple days a year.

My cousin Tim’s message to me was always the same: “Oh man, Kev, you can do anything you put your mind to”. I worked hard to live up to his example.

Twenty-five years later his message is the same. He always pushed us to do our best. He’s still an inspiration though the NFL days are memories. Great, amazing memories he uses as a platform to inspire next generations of kids everywhere.

Anyone who met Tim was captivated by his charm, his good looks, and his midwestern friendliness. A constant source of positivity, I kept the Game Day magazines, newspaper clippings, signed balls and pennants from his career, and my belief in his message carries me forward now.

For a young kid from the sticks, he showed me and my friends that anything was possible. He lived the dream.

He wasn’t my Dad, or my Grandpa or my older brother, but he made as much of a difference in my life. He didn’t have the stats of a Walter Payton or an Eric Dickerson, but he was and still is a hero to me.

Timothy Gerard Tyrrell
#32 Atlanta Falcons 1984-1986
#32 Los Angeles Rams 1986-1988
#23 Pittsburgh Steelers 1989
#1 Hero

Thanks Timmy, it’s true: you really can do anything.

How A Violent Prisoner Escaped His Prison

(if I knew what this meant, I'd have been scared)

(if I knew what this meant, I’d have been scared)

The tattoo on his leg was a shield with the initials “EK”.

“What’s your tattoo mean?” I asked.

He was a young-looking kid, no more than 21 I figured, very short blond hair, pale but not soft skin, and hazel eyes.

He didn’t tell me but google did later.

We all carry memories. I don’t know his memories, but I imagine many are violent and dark.

The movers were obviously tired, worked to the bone by the weight of the day. Thirteen dollars per hour moving memories of people they don’t know from one place to another.

Memories are heavy. They weigh us down and sometimes burn.

Some of my boxes, and the memories inside, have been closed for 8 years – since buying the condo as a corporate incentive moving to Portland from Arcata, California – and they’re hard to get rid of even though I haven’t seen them for awhile.

I hold onto them because they may one day help me remember.

Some cause tears: my grandfather’s copy of “The Indian Drum” Mom sent me after he died:

“This was one of Grandpa’s favorite books.
He read it several times and had it re-bound in the 1990s.
I thought you’d like to have it.
Love, Mom”

Others cause joy: diplomas, pictures of dreadlocks and my VW bus. Of road trips and friends in Pantones of the 1990s.

Memories.

(I wish all my memories felt like this)

(I wish all my memories felt like this)

Many of my memories are in cardboard boxes in the POD container destined for my next place. But memories are expensive. They take up a lot of space. They create stress and use energy. I wish I could take all those memories and apply the Kelvin filter so they become hot July scenes of my childhood, without sunburn. And digitize them so I can walk around with them in my iPad. And transfer them instantly to people I want to know. And see theirs, too.

Like art.

(memories curated by PODS)

(my memories are curated by PODS)

Maybe I’ll ship them to an art show and call it “Container of Memories”; an installation. Maybe someone will buy it for $5Million and I’ll disappear into a coconut grove with the love of my life and we’ll lay around all day every day watching the palm fronds wave in the wind sending postcards to family members. CMYKs of green, tan, yellow, blue and Equatorial halftones in between.

When the movers were done picking the boxes from the condo I sat typing alone on the floor, like I did my first night there 8 years ago. I had more money, I had more things. I’d done more, seen more, knew more people. But what did I really have?

Fresh perspective.

Whenever I’m not feeling right. Whenever I’m feeling down, uninspired, lost, scared, hesitant, I do something. Marc Ecko calls it ACTION. I wrote it on a piece of paper in blue ink and stuck it to my refrigerator door. One letter.

Delta.

Change.

Anyone can do it.

He was another example.

When I need to escape my frustration I repeat the phrase:

“Change context to change perspective”

Everything starts small.

(your ideas matter)

(change the little things and the big things will follow)

If uninspired, I change what I’m doing at that moment to find inspiration. Small things. I jump on abduzeedo.com, coolhunting, swissmisss, the next web, techcrunch, extragoodshit (NSFW)(Fred is an octagenarian and curation genius) or other sites. I take a break and write down 5 ideas for something. I go walk or run a trail. I drink a cup of coffee or eat something somewhere other than where I am. Changing people can help, too. I get rid of the ones that drag me down and keep the ones that push me up, that I pull up.

Or,

I go. Somewhere close, somewhere far, somewhere alone or with someone else.

And I watch. Silence.

If you want something new, right now, you can change your context.

(change context to change perspective)

(change context to change perspective)

EK is European Kindred. An Oregon prison gang associated with the ku klux klan and the Aryan brotherhood, and extremely violent, google told me.

“I was in a lot of trouble when I was younger. I don’t look it but I’m 30. Now I’m just a family man.”

He said he doesn’t like to think about those days. Prison, crimes, assault.

“I have a 2 year old son and a 6 year old daughter. When I look into her eyes, it’s the only thing that matters for me. I think about her all day and it makes me happy, even after 10-12 hours out here. All I want to do is go home and see my family.”

He didn’t go into detail. He said he figured he had to change after he met a girl who changed his view. He found work. He changed direction.

We’re all in our own jails. Maybe it’s a financial obligation. Maybe it’s stuff in a city you no longer live in. Maybe it’s an abusive relationship you keep relapsing into. Maybe it’s actual prison with steel  bars.

But most of our prisons aren’t made of steel. They’re made of our perspective, which is sometimes harder than steel.

You may have bars you live behind, but you have the keys, too.