I started doing my podcast last August and this month I’ve had the most episode listens ever. Pretty exciting! The total includes people who have listened to an episode more than once because many of them.
There was a dip in Dec and Jan, too, because holidays and I didn’t post anything new.
I think I have around 160 subscribers but those are harder to count than you’d think. People switching podcast players, people moving in and out of cell networks, apps fetching the episodes for all their users.
Regardless though, my podcast is growing. Another fun stat for this month, people listening to the podcast now outweigh the people visiting my actual website. I never saw that happening. 😊
The new MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar is pretty nifty but I’m in the habit of resting my fingers on the ESC key at various times. I don’t know why it’s just one of those things I do because I’m me. However, I can’t do that anymore because all kinds of shit bust loose when I got to rest my fingers up there.
I think all that jive about “not caring what other people think” is mostly bullshit.
When I puff out my chest and chant the “I don’t care what they think“ mantra, it feels like I’m just giving myself a free pass to act like an asshole. And really I’m probably doing something I shouldn’t be doing or just did something I shouldn’t have done.
Like that time you all know and love when I went into Jewel at quarter to eight in the morning with bloodshot eyes, looking like I’d only slept for a few hours. Because I had. And then walked up to the checkout lady with 2 pints of beer in my basket, all standoffish. Temperamental and dramatic and inwardly screaming, “Judge me all you want. I don’t give a fuck!”
Yeah, that was just a cover up for the shame I felt for buying beer before the day had even started. It had nothing to do with legitimately not caring about what the lady in Jewel thought.
When the “I don’t give a fuck what they think” comes out of my mouth or I’m all emotionally rambunctious up in my head most likely I’m up to no good. In one way or another. Maybe I haven’t actually done anything yet. Maybe my motives aren’t in the right place or my emotions aren’t pure. Whatever it is something is off.
I’m not trying to sound preachy but whatever. I probably am.
I don’t care what the neighbors think about the pink Christmas lights hanging in my kitchen window year round. However, this example of “not caring” never crossed my mind until I started exploring this apathetic path. If you will. I never thought about what they think let alone bothered to care what they think. I honestly didn’t think about the pink lights because I honestly don’t care.
That’s when “not caring” is not bullshit: when I have zero thought and zero emotional investment.
Truly not worrying about what people think of me and the things I like, that all comes from a place of calm and confidence and not one of bolstered and shouting egos. Not one of loud arrogance.
I do what I want and so long as I’m not stepping on someone else’s toes then I don’t give a fuck. Don’t give a fuck enough to not even think about giving a fuck. If that makes sense.
I do care what people think about me. I care about my family and friends’ opinions because what they think is important. It counts. It matters.
If my friends think I’m being an asshole or if a stranger looks at me like I’m being a jerk, there’s something wrong with what I’m doing. Like if I say something in front of a server at a restaurant and an honest-to-god worried look comes across their face then I have wonder to myself, “Oh. I shouldn’t have said that. Maybe I shouldn’t say that again.”
Being a jerk is something I’m never trying to do these days but I’m only human and sometimes I don’t realize I’m being an ass. This is why what other people think is important. I look for guidance from the people that I trust in my life when I’m uncertain.
I look to and count on my peers calling me out because I’m so wrapped up in me most of the time that I have a hard time seeing what’s going on. More importantly what’s going wrong.
If I have something in my teeth I know that somebody will tell me. Man, is hearing that rough, too. Saying it isn’t any fun either. Being either person in that situation can be uncomfortable. And then of course Maggie showed me how to handle all of that. A few weeks ago I told her that something was in her teeth after dinner. She said “thank you” and then went and got a toothpick. That’s the end of the story. And also an excellent example of what “not caring” is really all about.
This might sound self-deprecating but I fucked up a good chunk of my life because I didn’t care what people close to me thought and I just did whatever I wanted. That didn’t work out so well. Hence two divorces.
In the here and now I pay close attention to what people near and dear to me say. When people give me their feedback I do my best to listen and take it seriously. If they say that I’m fucking up then I probably am. And then I do my best to course correct. Because I don’t want to fuck up my life anymore.
Also, and this is important: I look for the good in people and automatically assume that when they give me feedback it’s coming from a good place. I don’t take what my friends say as an attack. Why the hell would my friends attack me? Friends don’t attack.
Opening myself up to criticism, taking that with as much grace and humility as I can muster, and then appreciating the growing bond with that other person is a big part of the meaning of life to me. Friendships will absolutely flourish when I allow myself to be a whole human being in front of my friends. And even more, when my friends see that I took their suggestions, they’ll know that they count to me. They’ll get to be somebody, too. Our friendship will be balanced. Equal parts them and equal parts me.
I don’t know about you guys but I admire and respect the hell out of my friends and family. I care deeply about them and their opinions. I legitimately do care what they think about me.
And the last thing I want to say about this whole “not caring what people think” bullshit is that most people don’t think about me. At all. Because I’m not that important. If I’m out in public chances are other people don’t even see me. And that’s not because I’m a ninja.
One more thing. I’ve never written an “abstract” before.
Sara and I watched Anthony Bourdain in Spain last night. I wish that watching bullfights didn’t bother me as much as it does but I could never get behind a sport like that. Not that I’m somebody big and influential or whatever but killing an animal so you can be a rockstar is bullshit.
It doesn’t matter if it’s part of the heritage or culture. It’s barbaric and inhumane. I don’t see it any differently than wrestling with a dog or playing with a cat and then breaking their neck.
Bourdain didn’t look like he enjoyed the bull’s death much either. But ya know what, I would’ve canceled the episode if I was him. It’s important to stand up for what’s right or to stand up and say “this is wrong.” Even more so when you have a direct impact on the situation’s outcome.
I love his shows, always have but after the episode we watched last night, I lost some respect for him.
Like I was all about SpongeBob. I went into my bedroom to have a nap (which is kind of funny that even in my dreams I’m thinking about taking a nap).
And then when I laid down on my bed it was SpongeBob as far as the eye could see.
I had a keychain, a plushy, all kinds of toys. He was on my bedspread and pillow cases. Everywhere I looked there the little yellow man was.
And that’s all I remember. I must’ve started dreaming about something else.
My point to all of this is that this is the dumbest fucking dream I’ve had my whole life. And this is why you don’t tell people about your dreams. Ever. Unless you found the cure for cancer while you were asleep, nobody will care about your SpongeBob drivel.
I’m sorry if your dreams are important to you. But it can be downright painful for the person listening to you recount every meaningless scene in your latest dream. Especially when it’s first thing in the morning.
For much of my life I’ve been internally combustible and physically uncomfortable. I felt ill and under and unequipped just being human. Even trying to be human. Too much shit gurgling in my stomach. Never ending mallet beating my heart. Intestines put on backwards and inside out. My thoughts whirling and jerking back and forth by some restless, mechanical bull.
I’m melodramatic, I know.
But when I found drugs and alcohol as a teenager that fixed me, that calmed the bomb and made life tolerable, comfortable. The whole reason why I drank as much and as hard as I did was because drinking brought me relief. And not only that but it took me to a place of adventure, a place I was fond of, a place without restraints. A feeling inside and out that nothing mattered, nothing could touch me, and I just didn’t give a fuck. If it was sunny outside then that was perfect and if it were raining then that was fucking awesome, too.
Of course being alcoholic there always comes a point where the watered down solution becomes a problem in itself. Becomes more of a problem than the anxiety I was trying to do away with.
And then when I did stop drinking the pressures of everyday life were back. More painful than ever. I didn’t have many skills to deal with them and oh boy, did the mechanical bull launch full throttle again. The first year and two I was sober I felt the craziest that I ever had my whole life. Like every nerve in my body was exposed, every sight a cause for alarm.
Am I going to be able to drive all the way home? I can’t even fucking think straight.
And every sound twice as loud.
Why is everyone talking through a megaphone?
In related news, it feels like there’s been ringing in my ears since I was nine.
Freshly sober my anxiety would have me up at 4:30 in the morning, pounding down the coffees. Other times I’d be up well past midnight, smoking cigarette after cigarette. Day and night making my combustion worse by not sleeping and pumping more toxins into my system.
In the here-and-now, even well into sobriety, when I’m uncomfortable my go-to reaction is to fix how I feel. Reach for cigarettes that aren’t there. Look for something outside of me to soothe the unrest within. Something, anything to take away the worry, the doubt, the paranoia. Unplug the melodramatic bull.
After I got back into 12-step recovery one of the most valuable tools that I learned was the cosmic pause. To take an interlude. To stop. For a moment. To breathe.
And also to learn how to feel my feelings, especially the uncomfortable ones. I’m sure I’ve quoted Tony before when he said, “those that make it are the ones who learn how to be uncomfortable.”
My last divorce was certainly uncomfortable and plenty difficult for everybody involved. Every time I would get a text message from my ex-wife my heart would race and I felt like I was holding a bomb. My hands would shake as I was pummeled with nervous, dizzy emotion. And it would all happen in an instant. Maybe kinda like a panic attack. :)
Then of course I would immediately read/react/reply, and the text messages would explode with overflowing wells of anger. Puke and shit everywhere. It was the same story with my first ex-wife except we’d actually be calling each other all frenzy-like since cell phones weren’t an everyday thing.
And then somewhere along the way the cosmos gave me some insight.
I didn’t have to respond to someone’s messages right away. I didn’t even have to read them right when my phone popped up an alert. Hell, I didn’t have to read them at all if I didn’t want to. Fucking spiritual revelation.
When I get in those kind of tense situations where I’m feeling nervous or unsure I do my best to simply pause. Accept that whatever I’m feeling is how I’m supposed to be feeling at that very moment. And then say a little prayer, sometimes a big one, and ask the cosmos for direction. I breathe out and imagine I’m exhaling the anxiety. Blow it out like the smoke that used to give me so much comfort.
On a side note, imagine taking a drag off a cigarette and then never blowing out the smoke. That choking feeling, that suffocation is how I feel when I only hold on to my emotions and don’t process them.
Anyways, absolutely not doing anything when I’m in a mess is almost always the right thing to do. I’m not good at reacting under pressure. Even more so when there’s barbed history. I usually make the situation worse if I act on that first impulse. I can easily freak out and go some place emotionally I don’t like being. So I pause and ride my emotional, mechanical bull until it powers down. Afterward the feelings subside, if not pass altogether, and then I’m able to make sound decisions with a clear mind.
My solution is always divine. No amount of material things will ever fix me. I need to reconnect with the cosmic spirit if I want peace. By letting the cosmos care for and guide me I don’t have to take on the burden of trying to fix myself, trying to manage my anxiety. Control whatever situation I’m in or even control how I’m feeling. I can just let go and know that the answers will come so long as I allow myself to be a complete human being. With uncomfortable feelings and all.
And back to that “holding a bomb” feeling.
The funny thing is I know now most of that was pretty much all about me. My gears grinding and circuits working overtime. My heart would beat so fast and there I was the one holding the mallet.
Mechanical bull up in my head, glaring eyes of red, snorting steam they said.
I can’t speak for my ex-wives or anybody else but it wouldn’t surprise me if both felt just as nervous as I did when they reached out to me. My behaviors and responses were unpredictable. At best. And divorces are messy, too. Emotions high. Feelings hurt. That in itself is reason enough for anybody to slow way the fuck down.
Most of my messages in the here-and-now are light and nonchalant. I’m overall calm. I don’t feel the mechanical bull winding up and bashing me around when certain people message me. I do my best to stay consistently plugged into the cosmos and walk that spiritual path. When I am and when I do, I’m not as eager to race ahead and react to fear, perceived or not. If I stay ahead of the anxiety game I’m less likely to lose when it’s time to play.
When I’m plugged in nothing can touch me either. I’m on that spiritual journey and get a text message bomb, then it doesn’t matter. I don’t care. Other people can behave badly and I don’t give a fuck. And that feeling of being okay is what I was after the whole time I was drinking. I was trying to get okay. I just made the mistake of using man-made fixes.
Physically uncomfortable and internally combustible. Life doesn’t have to be that way. More importantly, life’s not supposed to be like that.
I needed a better way to live. My solution has been always divine but there were things that I could certainly do.
So when I stopped chugging coffees after 8 pm was when I started closing my eyes and falling asleep come bedtime. When I stopped taking things so damn personal, when I stopped seeing people as threats was when I finally was able to relax and life wasn’t so loud anymore.
When I stopped analyzing and scrutinizing every detail and started trusting in the greater good of my fellow humans was when l started building meaningful, long term relationships.
When I stopped worrying about getting hurt was when I was finally able to love you guys.
When I stopped using quick fixes for the major problems was when I started to heal.
And then when I realized that most of what I thought was important in life was irrelevant, when I finally let everything go was when I was finally set free.
“I never knew I had anxiety. I just knew I needed another cigarette.” I don’t know who said that on NPR but I was all like “YES” when I heard it. ↑
Text-based conversation is possibly one of the worst things that has happened to modern communication. It lets people write things that they would never get away with saying to another person face-to-face. ↑
Just to throw this out there, some people need medication. I’m not saying that everybody can get by on a spiritual solution alone. But for me much of my anxiety was driven by how I lived my life. ↑
“…we are our very worst selves in fear. We are the most dangerous to ourselves and to each other.” -Brené Brown↑
My cat was glaring at me as I was putting on my shoes this morning. I was like “what the fuck are you looking at?“
Yeah, it was early.
And then as I’m walking into the other room I looked back at her and she was still scowling, scowling at something off in the distance.
And then I remembered that life’s not all about me.
When I was telling Maggie my struggles she said, “She was probably scowling at the clock. Nobody likes the clock this early.”
It’s important for me to share these life lessons with Maggie because these are the kinds of things I’ve struggled with my whole life. At her age she’s far ahead of where I was then and I’d like to keep that positive trend going.
Be humble. Share your spiritual revelations with your kids. You’ll probably never get a “thank you” but you’ll see them make the right choices when the time comes, when it counts.
Peeps, here’s your batman-with-his-fists Friday jam. I know I’ve said this before but I absolutely hated songs like this in another life. Jams like this would come on when I was a teenager or in my 20s and I’d turn that shit off.
I was pretty dumb and pretty snotty when it came to music. But I guess more than that I’d never felt the magic with another person they were singing in their ballads. My gut reaction was then to always condemn their melodies. Fuck them guys like Coldplay.
And then after my first divorce I learned that being alone was my choice. It wasn’t fate or destiny. It was my shitty attitude.
So in the here-and-now I know what they’re talking about. I’ve felt something “just like this” and it changed everything.
If you never have felt a love song then don’t worry. That feeling’s out there. It may be just around the corner. A person you may or may not know is waiting, is looking for you, too.
But first don’t be an all around jerk. Throw away your bullshit and open yourself up to nonfictional fairy tales. There’s a love song with your name on it. Somebody’s holding out for a magical adventure. Just with you.
Make sure you’re ready for them.
And then hold their hand when you run away together.
It’s easy to be of the mindset that how people behave is their business and I shouldn’t let it affect me. But that’s a level of spiritual enlightenment most likely I’ll never reach. Setting such a high bar for myself always makes me feel like I’m coming up short. I shouldn’t go around expecting myself to be more than I actually am, do more than I actually can.
When I try and stop things from bugging me I tend to act/react twice as bad. The situation tends to ratchet up because I’m suppressing natural emotion. Not allowing myself to feel all of god’s given emotions is the never the right thing to do.
Not long ago I was pretty agitated with somebody and I’m sure it showed. But I don’t give a fuck. People throw tantrums and I’ll scoff in their general direction.
I think the real goal in situations like this, when others are behaving badly is to strive for simply not acting badly myself. Morons will always get on my nerves. I’m not immune to another’s stupidity but if I mind my proverbial Ps and Qs all will be right in the cosmos.