"There has to be more to life than this."
“This can’t be it.” I thought to myself, shaking my head in disbelief.
“There has to be more to life than this.”
That was me at twenty-nine, nearly a decade into a corporate career that began as a loyal, bright-eyed intern.
Ten years in, and now the best part of my workday was obvious. It was when I was the happiest…
My midday walk.
I’d walk twenty minutes to a large park, and the closest park to our Forest Hills, New York office building. Once in the park, I’d walk for another hour through the meandering trails; an oasis of beauty with nothing but nature for as far as the eye could see.
Now this may seem like a long lunchbreak, but to me, it was desperately never long enough.
So when the day came, and my trailblazer-of-a-wife, Alisa, came to me and asked, “Do you want to quit our jobs, sell our shit, and move to the Virgin Islands?”...it didn’t take long for me to know that my corporate days were numbered.
And then we were off, and a new life of adventure began!
First, a magical year living in St. John, a US Virgin Island so remote you have to take a ferry to get there. For a year we were surrounded by the most turquoise-blue water you could imagine, white-sand beaches, indescribable sunsets, sea turtles, manta rays, and some of the most wonderful new friends we could ask for. Not a bad place to begin “unwinding from the grind” indeed…oh, and there was rum.
Lots of rum.
It was paradise.
Then, Alisa and I made one of the hardest decisions of our lives, and not only left St. John, but we also left our Yorkshire Terrier, “Rocky”, with my mom in New York while continuing our travels.
This time the flight was a bit longer…and there we were in Sydney, Australia, with packs on our backs.
Another full, wonderful year ‘down under’ gave us experiences and friendships to last a lifetime, and stars so bright and magnificent that they are etched into my mind forever.
Alisa and I lived together in other people’s warm and welcoming homes, and also in our own SUV that we traveled the coastlines of Australia with and rested our heads in at night.
Then it was New Zealand with waterfall after magnificent waterfall, and shorter jaunts allowed us to explore Hawaii, Fiji, Indonesia, and a Colorado ski town called Breckenridge.
“Just one ski season” in Breckenridge has become nearly a decade of calling it home. It’s in Breckenridge where I transitioned from Bartender to Coach and Writer.
It’s where I’ve made some of the best friends of my entire life, experienced the freshest, powder-filled mornings skiing the slopes day after day after day, and living the mountain life with evenings of fresh-cut wood burning in our roaring fireplace.
But there, in Breckenridge, at around thirty-five, something strange happened.
I said the same thing I said at twenty-nine:
“This can’t be it. There has to be more to life than this.”
Hadn’t I learned? Hadn’t I already left the “grind” behind to pursue a life of travel and adventure?
Turns out…I was grinding all over again.
Bartending became a “job” where I had responsibilities as a manager, along with longer hours and my own shiny keychain full of keys that, to me, signified my bondage rather than the opening of locks.
I was, yet again and in a word…unhappy.
I was stuck and not living life the way I wanted to.
But there was a problem:
I had no idea what to do about it.
I had already quit the Corporate grind. I had also already been to therapists, psychologists, and even psychiatrists in my younger years.
Looking back, perhaps pumping an already testosterone-and-Natty-Lite fueled nineteen-year-old with strong, prescription drugs wasn’t the best idea. No wonder I had depression and anger issues in college.
All things considered, I figured it couldn’t hurt to simply talk to someone now. So I began seeing a therapist.
It turned out that the “feeling” I’d get when going into my bartending job in Breckenridge was anxiety. To me, I just knew it as complete unease in my body and mind, racing thoughts and sweaty palms…but had no idea what it actually was called.
So I was anxious, depressed, irritable most of the time, and only pleasant to be around when required by the job.
No wonder I almost lost my marriage, and the wonderful relationship with my wife, during this time.
(It also, as the universe would have it, led to the honesty, openness, and vulnerability that has allowed us to evolve together into a wonderful, love-filled, polyamorous relationship…but that’s for a different story).
Thankfully, I was linked up with a therapist who respected my wishes not to be on any more medication and was a proponent of mindfulness. This piqued my interest in meditation and led to my discovery of an app called Headspace.
In that first week of meditating for a few minutes every morning, I knew my life would never be the same.
It was, quite literally, the turning point from my lowest point to a place today that allows me to wake up grateful, often with tears of joy rolling down my cheeks, and then going to bed so blissed out for his life and the gift of being alive and enjoying it each and every day.
Thus began my journey into Personal Freedom Coaching and writing. Surprisingly to me, it was a path that opened up as my wife and I also opened up our relationship. The unexpected and life-changing benefit that polyamory gave me was time. I had time, for the first time in my adult life, to be alone. This helped me begin to discover who I really am and lean into my true purpose in this life.
Then I couldn’t help but begin sharing what has worked for me with others who are interested in it and in making changes in their lives. Client after client I have worked with over the years has been transformed, and it became clear to me that there is a framework that, simply put, works.
Knowing this allows me to coach and guide others in new and expanding ways, and has also led to expression through writing poetry, personal stories, and fictional tales.
These days, Alisa and I have expanded our “pack” to include sweet “Lela” (another, even smaller Yorkie) and Alisa's boyfriend Paul, and we are all spending more and more of our time living in Costa Rica.
Paul has his own place, but we enjoy dinners together, weekly Spanish lessons, and more (as he has become a good friend of mine as well over the years). It's a unique situation for sure, but it's one that works great for us.
And down here in Central America, those two passions of writing and coaching continue strong to this day.
These are passions spawned from pain, and allow me to help alleviate some of that similar pain in others. This is a gift that I appreciate daily.
Writing and coaching both allow me to express my views on what it means to live a joyful and fulfilling life.
They allow me to share my philosophies on life, love, fear, relationships, freedom, ego, following dreams, mindfulness, meditating, manifesting, unplugging from the Matrix, slowing down, discovering inner peace, and so on.
They also allow me to share opinions on the false beliefs that, as a “modern and civilized” society, we are taught to blindly follow and accept without question.
Because if we’re free enough to choose bondage, we’re surely free enough to choose freedom.
And, ironic as it may seem, unhappiness is typically the exact spark needed to light the flame of a happy life. Acknowledging it is the first, and most critical, step. If missed, one is left to wallow in it as it amplifies into tragedy. A tragedy that continues to expand until it is finally acknowledged...or not.
This is my personal and never-ending journey of “unwinding from the grind”, and I've learned that it truly does take committed and dedicated unwinding to reverse what’s been hammered into us for our entire lives and repeated over and over again.
Perhaps you reading this is the beginning of your journey...or another step in the adventure that is your life. Either way, I am honored to be a part of it.
And whether you are here to follow along with my writing (which I encourage you to comment on and share), or you are interested in learning more about Personal Freedom Coaching…
I am glad you’re here. We’re going to make this fun.
December 2, 2022
Tamarindo, Costa Rica