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365 Days of Living as Me

Updated: Jun 10

Last year over Memorial Day weekend I quit my job, and here are my reflections on 365 days of living as me.

How did it go down?

Well, I did a short zoom video to the person I reported into, and said “I quit.” The obvious follow-up question was “when will your last day be?” My answer… “as soon as this call ends, and it’s a spotty connection, so I’d say we have about 3 mins.”

Me playing a guitar in Zen garden by a Buddha head.
Steve playing a guitar in Zen garden by a Buddha head.

I recorded a 1 min YouTube video and sent it out to the people that would be impacted in the corporate world saying “I’ve found my life and I’m never coming back. The end.”

There was nothing else to say. I deleted it a day or so later and never checked back in. If it mattered, they saw it... if they didn't see it... then it didn't matter anyway.

We aren’t loaded with money.

If you know me well, you know I’m frugal to a point that it’s crippling. I was raised in a poverty world, and the fears of being “broke” have always been my driving force. Being “broke” was the phrase because finances were my security blanket.

Last year though I decided to just lean into it with no real plan.

Do I have to live a bullshit existence just to retain relevance in this life? What’s the point of “living for the future” if my actions today are destroying my mind, body, soul, and spirit? Am I willing to exist in perpetual discomfort in the hopes that someday I can “retire” into a life of happiness?

My answer. No. So I quit. Hard stop. Done. Decades down a career path…over. And in short… I didn’t die. In fact, I lived.

Steve in a hammock smiling.
Waking up to realize that everything is as it should be.

Buuuuut first I crashed hard. When I say hard… we are talking about a full-blown existential collapse. I spent about 2 weeks in a hammock at a S Florida nudist camp just swaying back and forth watching squirrels run amuck in the canopy overhead. They had no clue that a man was laying motionless beneath them mourning the death of a character he’d created in his head, on his credential wall, and in his heart.

I was my resume. I was that dancing monkey you see in the video.

But that man had stopped dancing. That man was crying, stunned, and completely shell shocked that… this is happening. But in truth… the man being mourned… he wasn’t real. He wasn’t ACTUALLY alive. He never was. He was just a mask that I put on. More like… a ball cap I would put on whenever I went out because somewhere along the way I heard that “I have an egg-shaped head that looks weird.”  I heard that back in like 4th grade, and I can replay that formative moment at will. It was simply a throw-away comment from classmate who likely doesn’t even remember it. “Eeeeeeegg heeeeead" she said as she swayed her perfectly round head back and forth rhythmically.

I remember, and I thank you for that lesson.

So everywhere I went, I kept a cap close so that I could quickly pop it on whenever my shadow on the ground would remind me to "cover that melon" or if I’d walk past a mirror and think… yep. There’s the egg. Shit.

Setting up camp at the naturist campground.
Setting up camp at the naturist campground.

So I spent a combined 2 to 3 months naked tent camping last year to remember who I am when I have no labels. Who I am when I’m not wearing any costumes.

How do I introduce myself? What do I talk about? Do I know who I am? Am I comfortable being “just steve?” What does that even mean?

That phrase “just steve” hit me hard. Just. Only. Is it diminutive? Is it limited? Am I apologizing for not being more? Why do I care? Does anyone expect anything more from me than whatever I naturally am?

Aside from my labels, I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin. My posture isn’t great, my limbs hang awkwardly, my nose is crooked, my teeth don't align perfectly, and my stomach is poochy. I’m naked around other men… Do I measure up down there? Does anyone measure up? Who is actually measuring?

No one here seems to care, so why do I? Do I ACTUALLY care? Do I really care about ANY of these things? I realized that I didn't. I thought I did... but I didn't really. It was confusing to say the least.

Steve meditating in a Zen garden.
The first day of acceptance of me.

My body is a reflection of the choices I make.

I know that. So if I’m uncomfortable with my “most core self,” then I need to take some time to lean into that. And so I have. If I really care… I can change it. And as I changed my mindset, activities, and my patterns... my body literally re-sculpted itself into a reflection of what I always dreamed it would be. My version of healthy.

Over the past year I’ve leaned into a lot of stuff. I’ve leaned into clarity around friendships that were literally “old hat.” Someone told me “you’re living like a retired person who thinks that we should enjoy life today.  That’s irresponsible and dangerous.”

I haven’t talked to that person again in…. a year. Not because I told them to go away, but because I agreed with them. I said yes, thank you for noticing. And they self-selected out of my experience. We both just… non-confrontationally… faded away and disappeared into the background of our lives.

Steve holding a geometric shape.
Steve finding curiosities in the seemingly mundane.

I've also leaned into the things that triggered me. Triggers for anger, joy, laughter, love, and anxiety. I learned a lot about the voices in my head that repeat old narratives that are not reflective of the world I now occupy. Most of these were thoughts, fears, and triggers from other people. Not my own... these were voices from previous teachers, mentors, managers, friends, relatives, old school mates... each expressing their own fears aloud to each other, meanwhile I was diligently cataloging them away as my own thoughts, emotions, and feelings about myself and the world around me.

How do I live?

I have a “business” that I’ve been slowly building since late 2016 around massage. I decided that I’d take it on full-time. It seemed like a logical choice since I'm really good at it, and it is a viable income stream. I had a couple of remote clients, but nothing robust enough to lean hard core into.

Selfie mode between clients. Finding happiness in the flow.
Selfie mode between clients. Finding happiness in the flow.

I rubbed people for money. That’s what people booked me for. The funny thing about awakening is that you can’t plan it out. I realized that I’m not JUST rubbing someone’s sore glutes or back. I’m working through personal neglect and abuse that they are unable to “see” until it turns into visceral pain.

If you drive your car all day long, then the body mechanics involved will eventually lead to lower back pain, bulged discs, and eventually fusions and such. It’s a side effect of ignoring what is actually happening the other hours of the day when you’re not getting a massage. So I'd ask "this pain that is killing you is what you've built your life on. Do you value yourself enough to change that one thing? Are you worth living for?"

Some people say no. Their identity and self-worth is too entangled with what they "do" and they would not be accepted by their tribe or themselves if they deviated from that. It's the only way they know "how to be."

Some people say yes though. It is the "yes, I am enough and worthy of living a happy life" people that keep me going. Those are the clients that light my fire. They get it.

They get me, and they are in alignment with where I'm going in this life.

This post is about my journey, so to stay true to that intent, I turned that line of questioning deeper onto myself. I have spent the last year really examining “how I live my life” rather than simply earning a living and dealing with the fallout. When my body has pain, I ask it “what’s happening or not happening here?” Invariably, I get the answer, and I decide what I’ll do with that information. Do I choose to continue pain-generating patterns or choose something different? Honestly, it's a mixed bag for me, and I'm a work in progress.

There's time for fetch while drumming because Dakota doesn't care about my growth.
There's time for fetch while drumming because Dakota doesn't care about my growth.

The results?

I’m happier and healthier than I’ve ever been.

As I’ve continued to heal myself, I’ve been able to facilitate deeper healing in those around me. This phase of my own metamorphosis has been essential. I can heal myself. We can all heal ourselves. I'm not magical or special. I’m just the guy asking questions, and I know how to "reverse map" a painful muscle system to find the cause. What a person does with that information is on them.

What have I learned as I reflect on the arbitrary “one year mark” of this pivot?

My core tribe is small, my world is uncluttered, and I speak as impeccably to myself and others as I can. It’s easy. I stopped engaging people who made it hard to be honest with myself and with them. I stopped going to places that tempted me to break out old habits. I stopped consuming media that filled my head with agendas and emotions that conflicted with my core self.

I’m truly living my best life.

Loving where we live.
Loving where we live.

So today, I woke up with no alarm and will spent Memorial Day out in the backyard hammock. Tomorrow some friends are coming to tent camp in our backyard, and Pepper and I will join them with our own tent, firepit, possibly a drum, and whatever else feels right at the time. We will talk about soul-feeding topics, oneness, and remaining present.  No politics, no religion, no drama, no gossip, no sports, no mass media entertainment. We will just be authentically…. us. We may laugh, we may cry, we will definitely hug, and we will connect. No pretense. Just steve.

It’s a different type of living.

Thursday I’m purposefully foregoing revenue by closing the shop early and hosting a discussion group around conscious conversations, and the rest of the week will be spent laying hands on and having heart-felt conversations with people who are needing love. That’s it. That’s my life, and I’m blissfully happy to have made the pivot into my “me.”

Just a reminder that we are meant to pivot throughout life. Don't get stuck in a rut just because you fell into it early.
Just a reminder that we are meant to pivot throughout life. Don't get stuck in a rut just because you fell into it early.

And I’ve uncoupled “being broke” from “being broken.” This man is hella comfortable in a tent, naked, eating unrefrigerated vegetables, and letting sweat just pour from me. All I ask for is a place to hang a hammock within a reasonable driving distance to a beach.

My world is peaceful, and if that resonates with you then just know that there’s always room for one more around my fire. My only request is that you make ample space within yourself to allow your “you” to show up authentically. We are here, and we are waiting to meet “you.”

If you’re reading this, then you know how to find me. I'm the guy with the egg-shaped head and a calm, listening spirit who just invited you to take a step forward into your best life ever. ☮️

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1 Comment

May 27

Once I discovered the authentic self, both nothing and everything changed. While much is negotiable, remaining true became non-negotiable for even a moment and very much regardless of the consequences. The prisoner was the jailer; I am deeply grateful to be free.

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