silhouette photography of skateboard ramps



When you party a lot, you’ll notice that a lot of experiences in your life begin to look like an exclamation (!) point. Every new experience, substance or moment somehow brings a new twist on this exclamation point, and you find yourself chasing more of these experiences.

That’s how the addictive cycle starts – and has a difficult time ending. When you chase these moments and start to build pillars of your life identity around the party lifestyle, you really start to lose touch with a sense of reality that tends to keep the day-to-day operations of your life functioning normally; paying bills, living independently, taking care of your health and maintaining healthy relationships and hobbies.

In my life, I had two different periods of partying. The first was during my college years, as I dove headfirst into a frat house lifestyle at the age of 18. By the time I could legally drink, I was ready to stop drinking alcohol, and I did for most of my 20’s.

Towards the end of my 20s, I then dove into the world of Burning Man, and quickly felt like I had found a community and sense of belonging. Finally, I felt like there was a sense of belonging that had the allure of an after hours party; I felt like I had discovered a hidden world-beneath-the-default-world and it felt good to be a member of that tribe.

Then I saw people die, and they kept on dying.

Overdoses, suicide, substance-filled car wrecks and more relationship deaths than I can count.

I watched the progression of people I knew in that world as they progressed into harder and harder drugs. Marijuana began to look like child’s play when stacked against the white powders many of these people began using.

“Meth – it makes you feel like you have EVERYTHING” – I remember a friend of mine telling me. This person was an executive at a tech company, and I never imagined that somebody like her would be the type to use meth.

That’s when I started to see that world a lot differently. I saw close friends of mine slip into depressive cycles of addiction, loss and financial hardship.

I decided to eject myself from that world when I decided to unexpectedly move to Portland, Oregon. I remember looking at my life an realizing I had spent three years living a fast lifestyle that seemed to go by in the blink of an eye, and I didn’t want to spend the decade of my 30’s living that way – or going by so quickly, and without much recall.

I went to Portland because I felt like I needed to find my own sense of identity that didn’t include partying, or being under the wing of my older brother. I wanted to be my own person and create an environment where I felt safe.

After a year in Portland, I decided to go live abroad in Bali. I needed a further disconnect, and it seemed like a great (and affordable) way to spend a year of my then-unemployed life.

The first night I arrived in Bali, I unpacked in my Airbnb and then walked across the street to the corner vendor, buying six large bottles of Bintang beer for a fraction of the price I’d spent on beer in the states. Lugging the bottles back to the pool, I cracked open my first one, lit a cigarette and stared into the water as I took in my new home environment.

That’s a feeling everybody should have; the reflection, not the alcohol. I can’t describe what it felt like to be on the other side of the planet and realize that this place was somehow my ‘home’ for the next indefinite period of time.

I worked my way through several of the Bintang’s before noticing a couple walk up to the pool. In their 20’s, the stopped to smile and introduce themselves. Matt and Jenny. They were also here for the indefinite future…

Before they walked away, I remember Matt looked down at the small altar of Bintangs I had next to my lawn chair. I don’t think there was any judgement in his eyes, but the way he looked at them before saying ‘see ya’ made me think about them differently.

I recalled the revelation I had about my years…

”3 years went by in the blink of an eye, and I don’t want a decade to go that way.”

I thought about my experience in Bali, and realized that I didn’t want to spend them drinking beers by the side of a pool while my ass got fatter.

I cleared out my system when I was in Bali; replacing partying with things like surfing, yoga, boxing and painting. I got a massage on a daily basis (sometimes twice a day) and realized just how badly my system was in need of a comprehensive reset.

I spent a year living a fairly relaxed lifestyle. I had everything I wanted and needed; a beautiful loft, fast scooter, easy access to the beach and an art store close by with incredible prices. During that time, I burned through my unemployment benefits, savings and a few client projects before needing to come back to the states.

I remember landing in Los Angeles with $21 in my bank account. Nik picked me up from LAX and we went to McDonalds. I woke up the next morning and felt like it was the first day of the rest of my life.

A few things became clear to me during my time in Bali. One of them was that I needed to secure retainer-based clients and change my business model. So, I set a number in my mind and began the hunt for a client to foot the bill. Within 30 days, I had the first deposit…and they kept coming, every single month.

What I learned from that experience is that I needed to do something differently than I had in the past. If you don’t like the feedback loop you’re in, it’s time to get off the plane and start walking in a different direction. Eventually, you’ll get to your destination.

Fast-forward a few years to Dad-life. All of those little choices accumulated and have now begun to pay dividends. I’ve never felt healthier, looked better naked, had more time and presence to spend doing the things I love and all while maintaining 100% undiluted time with my Son without needing to run away while leaving him in the hands of somebody other than me – his Dad.

Not long ago, it hit me that I’ve created exactly the life that I wanted. Perhaps a few things didn’t go according to ‘plan’ but the end result is a life that I now love, protect and enjoy sharing with others.

It’s been over a month since I started skating at the skate park, and I’ve found it interesting that each morning I still battle fear and embarrassment before I drag myself out of bed and make it to the park. This morning, I made every excuse I could think of before calling my sister to chat.

I told her I wanted to go to the park but couldn’t find the motivation.

“You can’t find the motivation – yet.“

Shortly after hanging up, I decided it was time to go, and I slammed a Celsius before driving off to the park. I prayed the park would be empty. My prayers went unanswered.

Thankfully, there was only one other person at the park, and I quickly donned my pads and stretched before skating to the quarter pipes. While gearing up, I had small talk with the other skater and eventually they skated off.

I had one goal in mind; do a 180º on the quarter pipe – and then do it multiple times.

I won’t try and paint myself as a badass here, because I’m anything but that at the park. I spent nearly an hour at the park without finding the courage to try a 180. So, I decided to practice 90º while standing in place.

As I stood there, jumping in circles and feeling like an idiot, the other skater rolled up to me.

“Hey, I don’t know why I’m sharing this with you, but lately I’ve been battling mental health and addiction.”

I was startled, but realized that moments like this aren’t an accident. I stopped my hops to share some of my own experiences, as well as let them know that I was in need of a skate friend at the park, and we made plans to skate the next morning.

When I was younger, my Mom used to tell me that my life calling was to ‘go to the places people are afraid to go’, and I never really understood what she meant until I got older.

In my life, I’ve had a lot of experiences that seem (rightfully so) terrifying to those on the outside. However, some of these experiences can yield healthy fruit, while other experiences – like going to Burning Man – can fishtail your one-happy life into a depressive cycle of drug addiction and chasing the tail of the party until you can’t chase it anymore and find yourself living a life you can’t seem to escape.

As I recounted some of my experiences, I shared with him that I was trying to 180º and hadn’t yet worked up the courage to give it a shot.

“When you’re scared to do a trick, that’s when you gotta be fearless, man”

My Great Grandfather had a similar saying…

”when your stomach begins to turn, that’s when you know the odds are just right”

I pumped up the ramp and decided it was now or never. I did my first 180º – followed by about 10 more in the span of 30 seconds before having an easy fall on my pads.

It feels really, really good to do a 180º – and even better to feel like my life has finally done one as well.



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