Comfort vs. Crutch

I have a child who is raising me as I’m endeavoring to raise her.

Every week there is a new habit or skill learned that leads some revelation that impacts the way I see the world. The most recent realization brought to mind a host of possible implications, but I’m jumping ahead.

My daughter has a pacifier that she has somehow named “doot doot”. “Doot Doot (DD) is something that she has come to cherish. It’s not much but a $2-5 piece of plastic that mimics the very real, life-giving comfort and actions of nursing, but my daughter will often stop crying at the mere mention of DD. She’ll look around, eye’s wide and ask her toddler version of “where” while scanning the room for the promised appearance of DD.

Needless to say, I’ve appreciated the presence of DD on many an occasion. On long car rides, I’ll confess that i’ve handed DD backwards in an effort to quell the cries of a child in distress at the length of transit.

However, the other day, I noticed that the relationship between my daughter and DD had morphed into something a bit more substantial than a source of comfort. Somewhere along the line, my daughter had started to depend on dd as an emotional regulator and as a prerequisite for peace. I didn’t realize it at first, but I found myself disturbed by this, and before I knew it, I was hiding DD from my daughter and making plans for its eventual disappearance.

Somewhere in the midst of this exercise of weaning, I started to wonder if my daughter was the only one in our family who had transformed what started out as comfort into a crutch. It didn’t take me long to start to see the things in my life that I may be forcing to serve a purpose well beyond what perhaps they were intended to. I could see clearly how things like money, job titles, and financial security were trying to usurp the position of something, or better yet, someone, who had the actual power to promise safety in my life.

I marvel at the natural ability of humans to create idols and attach meaning to those things that mimic the truer thing beneath them.

Definitely a #2 situation.

As a father, who is trying to build a strong daughter, it became my goal upon noticing this negative trait to remove DD from this vaunted position and make sure my daughter was able to seek sources of comfort that were legitimate, healthy, and hopefully internal/eternal.

It becomes clear to me that our Father in heaven may have similar feelings when he notices certain things creeping into positions that they were never designed for. They’re removal, although it can feel negative is actually for our own good.

I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to remind myself of this truth if and when God has to prune my life of certain things.

Fly or Fall.



The battle within.

The theme of the past week has been that I’m discovering the battlefield is all in my mind. The hardest things I’ve had to do last week were all related to wrangling my mind into compliance.

It puts me in the mind of a quote I heard from Lebron James about how being tired is a frame of mind. While I don’t know if I 100% believe that to be true I can say that my ability to accomplish things is deeply tied to my mental fatigue or discomfort than any true physical limit being reached.

Last week was an exercise in meeting the self-imposed limits of my mindset.

By brushing up against the limits of my standard mindset I hope that I’m in the first stages of a dramatic change in what I’m capable of.

Photo by Matteo Basile on

How do I imagine this happening?

Phase 1: Find the limits of my mindset – run into the things that make me uncomfortable. Notice the things I do to escape that discomfort. What am I willing to do to prevent myself from experiencing the mentally tough tasks that I must complete? What compensatory things do I do to make myself feel better? What money do I spend to make myself feel better? What story do I tell myself about these behaviors?

I’m knee deep in this phase. This is the phase where I start to ask myself questions that seem to revolve around self-care and work/life balance.

Not that these are bad questions – but in my case often these are questions I use to grease the wheels toward quitting.

While those things are definitely important – what is more important for the future of my family and I, is that I learn how to achieve the goals that I’ve set for myself. Or at least give the pursuit of these goals my absolute best effort.

How can I actually know what my best effort is until I have given absolutely everything I have to the goal in front of me?

I can’t.

So what is the goal I’m looking to achieve?


  • I want to learn how to work hard while maintaining mental flexibility and toughness (a.k.a Not Quitting until goal is achieved)


  • I want to pay off some consumer debt.

This year we finally had the celebration for our COVID postponed wedding and managed to rack up around $23k of debt on two different credit cards.

In the two months since the wedding I put in some extra shifts and budgeted very precisely to be able to pay off $10,500 of our wedding debt. However, we’re heading into month 3 and austerity historically hasn’t served as a great long term plan for me. Right around this time I usually end up letting my foot up off the pedal.

This time I want it to be different.

That means that continuing to work long days is the plan of attack for me. What started as working Saturday’s to gain a couple of extra dollars has started to grown into 16 hour days where I work two jobs in order to speed up the process.

For me, 16 hour days have a special ability to play with my mental toughness. Usually ten hours into a sixteen hour shift I can come up with all sorts of reasons why this is no longer a good idea. The other thing that can happen is that I start to make all sorts of unnecessary purchases on account of the fact that you “deserve it”. All this of course ends up just short circuiting any progress you’ve made financially.

It’s very interesting that a lot of my posts this week have all been related to mental health and the challenges we face when we choose to do hard things. Focusing on growing the mental toughness necessary to accomplish the tasks that will significantly move my life forward has been intriguing and helpful. It’s allowing me to get a 30,000 foot view of my habits and weaknesses.

Now that I have a family I’m feeling like if I ever want to experience the life that I’ve dreamed of – I have to become a better man. A more patient man. A man who is capable of being able to accomplish more. A man who may have to suffer more without spewing his pain onto others. A man who is also still able to love and express joy.

A man who is deeper than the man who I am today.

Photo by Sondre Dahl on

I know that one missing part of me achieving the things I want to is that I need to find communities to plug into that will support me in getting to the outcome that I desire. My family is a great support but I’ll need to seek out men who are on similar journey’s and who can inspire me to be more than I am today.

Fly or Fall.

Uncomfortable Conversations.

What’s the most difficult conversation that you need to have?

Do you need to save more money? Stop self-sabotaging yourself in relationships? Stop dating people who remind you of painful relationships? Stop dating potential? Start saving for retirement? Go back to school? Be more trustworthy? Be more disciplined? Be less rigid and more relaxed with the people who love you?

Maybe you suspect that some or one of these things may apply to you but you can’t be certain.

Things get a lot more simple when we’re trying to figure out what physical appearance we’re presenting to the  world.

We simply find a quality mirror.

How do we do that with the internal blemishes that we aren’t even aware are there?

You have to create room for friend-mirror’s.

You have to invite people into your life that are empowered to give you bad news in a way that’s not malevolent or aimed at creating pain but to inform and encourage change.

I had this conversation recently with my girlfriend when she commented that there are certain truths that I wouldn’t be able to hear from certain family members.


I bristled at that comment at first, protesting that of course any member of my family could give me bad news about myself.

When I stopped to think about it – she was definitely right.

There are certain topics that it would be hard for my younger siblings to talk to me about.

And not so much hard for them to tell me as it would be hard for me to listen.

And I mean really listen.

Take-it-to-heart -&-figure-out-how-I-should-change listen.


In a sense I’ve made it so that the people with the best mirrors who are close to me can’t use them.

I think I’m going to work on making space so that the people in my life can speak and I hear.

Fly or Fall.





“Growth only occurs in a state of discomfort.”

“Complexity is nothing more than changed order”

I was listening to a great ted talk – about how discomfort is the siamese twin of growth. And how comfort is the true enemy.

It’s really made it clear to me that the growth i’m searching for is hidden behind tackling new challenges.

I’m going to look for ways to switch things up and find new complexity this week.


Making it up (as you go) & Risk.

I’m approaching the mid-point of my thirties this year.

And I have no idea what I’m doing. Still.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’ve accomplished a good bit. And I have a semi-idea of how to proceed to make sure the lights stay on. To make sure that I can afford to feed and clothe myself.

Went to school. Got the doctorate. Did the training after school. Got the “dream” job.

And yet,

I look into the horizon and I sometimes feel like the thing that I most need is the exact opposite of what’s in front of me.

people playing baseball
Photo by Lino Khim Medrina on

The older you get the more that the world tries to imply that you should avoid discomfort and risk. We look down at people who are still figuring it out publicly at an older age. The 40 year old rapper is admired by exactly zero people. And while I can’t comment on the viability of that plan, I can say that I admire people who are willing to swing wildly, enthusiastically and intently at life.

I grew up in a immigrant household, whose whole life was built on decreasing the amount of risk that was inherent in their decision to leave their home country and build stable lives in America.

They tried to decrease any tendency towards risk-taking by encouraging all of us to take “stable” jobs in “stable” industries. As we are all finding out, the future is no respecter of the past. Change is happening so fast, there is no guarantee that the stable jobs of yesteryear will continue into the next decade.

Also, somewhat unrelatedly,

Risk is a part of life.

I think this pressure to avoid risk is what slowly kills men in relationships.

I’m not advocating for unnecessary and unsafe risk. But, I am confident that men die inside if the opportunity for adventure is stolen from them.

And it may not be actively taken, it may be something that we give up because we think the people who surround us are asking us to give up that part of ourselves.

There has to be a way to ensure that adventure remains a part of our lives.

Let me speak for myself.

I know I need to find ways to challenge myself daily, weekly, yearly.

fly or fall,


A Story About Fish.

This is a story about fish.

More specifically: One fish. Meticulously prepared. For me.

This fish made it’s way from cold water of the arctic circle of the pacific ocean, to my local whole foods grocery store.

Although the fish’s species was indeterminate, I was sure about one thing:

This fish was going to be delicious.

It was cooked African style – whole – with the head on. A reduced tomato based stew was lovingly ladled over the fish and it was wrapped in foil while it was nestled inside the oven.

avocado cooked delicious dish
Photo by Dana Tentis on

I had tasted a bit of this fish when it was first baked.

It. was. delicious.

I couldn’t wait to dig into the fish.

When I got home, there were some friends over. As I started to process of warming up the fish to make it ready for the gasto-journey I was going to embark on – I noticed some of my friends eyeing the fish with interest and perhaps..desire?

I wanted to eat the fish.

By myself.

I felt like after a whole day of thinking, hoping, wishing, and dreaming about this meal, I deserved to have it all to myself.

I announced this aloud to the room. Repeatedly.

I saw the light dim in some of my friends eyes.

I paused.

My girlfriend pulled me aside.

And reminded me that the fish might be divided but the love would multiply.

I took a deep breath.

Shared my fish.

My friends shared their loaves.

And at the end we had a lot left over.

Of both food and love.


I’m learning.


Consistent effort.

Photo by Stas Knop on

Today I was listening to a podcast from BiggerPockets.

The guest was talking about something that I’ve been fighting against and losing for a good portion of my adult life.

He describes the fight that we all have when we’re trying to go from Zero to One while maintaining all the machinery that keep our day-to-day lives on track.

He explained how our brains were not designed to address the important, but instead were made to ensure the urgent was taken care of.

The problem comes from the fact that the important is almost NEVER urgent.

The actions that will lead to financial security in 20 years does not feel urgent.

The workout that you should do today to stave off illness in 40 years does not feel urgent.

The schooling that you should pursue in order to have a better life in 5 years does not feel urgent.

Figuring out how to work less so you can spend more unstructured time with your children doesn’t feel urgent.

ambulance architecture building business
Photo by Pixabay on

On the other hand..

The bill laying on the kitchen counter with the red writing feels urgent.

The email your boss sent you about a report due next week feels urgent.

Because of these misleading feelings – we can go our whole lives taking care of the urgent and missing the opportunity to do anything truly important.

Distractions like tv, social media, and screen time don’t help.

They distract us from our inner voice and prevent boredom from creating space for us to reflect on where we are falling short and missing the mark.

Adding to the problem is the fact that addressing the truly important often feels like wasted time. We may put in hours, weeks, months, or years of work before we see a significant change in the circumstances we are trying to affect.

He calls the urgent that fills our daily life “the whirlwind”.

Our biggest challenge to being truly effective is learning how to manage the whirlwind and make sure that daily we are accomplishing something truly important.

This has been the biggest struggle I’ve faced in the past 5 years, as what is most important get’s a lot murkier after graduation. The surrogate marker for success of schooling or certifications isn’t always the most efficient way forward. 

I’ve set goals, and tried to make my important goals tangible.

I’ve started to work on those goals, but usually give up when the whirlwind of life has made being consistent too difficult. And I usually don’t spend a-lot of time defining the actions that will make my final goal attainable. 

I’m tired of this cycle and not seeing progress.

I have to move forward this year.  By setting clear goals, defining clearer action plans and lead indicators, and finally by executing on those goals.

And I wrote today.


Relationships & Responsibility


Being in a relationship can sometimes be an eye-opening experience.

At it’s base level there is  a element of two realities clashing. The way one person see’s the world is interacting on a day-to-day level with the way the other person sees the world.

Toothpaste squeezed from the top is neither good or bad.

However, in one person’s reality – it’s a major offense. For the other partner – it’s not even noticeable.

What one partner doesn’t notice, the other partner is disturbed by and given enough occurrences this partner then potentially considers ending the whole relationship.

How do you fix the discrepancies?

“Communication” is key they say.

But what about when the differences are more than skin deep or trivial practicalities. What about when differences are cultural, or things that you were raised with?

Sometimes it’s not until your years-deep in a relationship that you realize that you and your partner have some fundamental differences in the way that you view the world.

If you can’t agree on what the world looks like, how can you navigate it together?

“Can two walk together, except they are agreed?” – Amos 3:3

Relationships can also make you question the validity of your own feelings. Are you unhappy because of a history of independence and not being used to having to compromise? In which case you should probably learn to be uncomfortable until you remember how to sacrifice.

Or is this a real red-flag that is trying to save you from hurt feelings and wasted time down the road?

When emotions are inflamed/involved, how are you supposed to know what is real and what isn’t?

Is there a person who I can’t possibly leave?

Looking back there were definitely people who it hurt me to leave.

When I’m not given enough alone time, I overwhelmingly feel relief when the opportunity to not hang out comes up.

Maybe its because of my attachment styles.

Because I’m of the avoidant attachment category, I require large amounts of free time otherwise I end up feeling smothered.

One way to reclaim responsibility for my happiness is to ask for and make space for myself. To a allow other people the opportunity to respond to my requests and sacrifice for me.

If I need alone time, communicate and take it.

Visualize and think about what you want from a relationship, week to week, day to day and what the most successful relationships in your past felt like. What do you need? What do you want? where can you not compromise?

Fly or Fall,


One Big Goal Down..


Great news!

Ya’ll remember that goal that I referenced in a earlier post? Well, the actual goal was just to sit for the exam. On 6/26/18 I found out that I actually passed the exam! I was elated! The people at my job made a big deal of it, which was nice.

I was happy that I didn’t fail.

It also started me to thinking about the rest of my goals on my board. The BCPS exam has been on my  goal list for almost 3 years. This was the first year that I was able to put real effort behind accomplishing the goal of knocking it out. Luckily for my confidence, I was able to achieve the outcome I desired. Now, I’m pondering the other huge goal that has been haunting me for the last two years.

The goal thats been haunting me for the last 3 years is my quest to buy my next rental property. This goal is daunting because from my rough calculations it would require quite a bit from me.

And isn’t this the point of goals? I know I need to grow, and in order for me to grow I’m going to tackle things that I’m not sure I can accomplish. So just like for this exam, I know I’m going to need to do 3 things to achieve this goal in this competitive market.

  1. Pray Consistently
  2. Break down the pieces that I need to have in place
    1. Market
    2. Important team members
      1. Real estate agent
      2. Lender
      3. Property Manager
      4. Contractor
  3. Create a system for screening deals in the market I choose
    1. Aggressively screen deals (at least 5-10 daily)
    2. Be ready to move when I do see a deal – making offers.
  4. Act!

Keep me honest as I try to move towards this goal!

Fly or Fall



P.s. One of the things that I have struggling with as well was figuring out how to reward myself with a job well done. I was having trouble at first, then I looked at the things that I needed and realized two things have been on the list for a while: A Laptop & some new clothes and shoes.

[*The Appearance of] Integrity


A couple of years ago I think I was listening to a sermon by Andy Stanley, where he was talking about the definition of “Integrity”.

I hadn’t taken time to really ever think of Integrity and had assigned it some definition related to virtue and being a person of upstanding person hood.

That is definitely one possible definition.

However, for some reason, this definition didn’t resonate with me. Probably because I’ve run into too many examples of human frailty parading itself as the epitome of moral idealism.  For me, the most interesting (and perhaps attainable) definition was that of wholeness.

Wholeness. Being undivided. Being one.

That to me, resonates, as both achievable for the average human being and yet more  challenging than one would sometimes suspect.

This had been a particular struggle for me. When I was younger I made some decisions that I wasn’t always proud of; sometimes I still struggle with shame and feelings of not being worthy. As a result I had some puzzle pieces of my life that weren’t given quite the same amount of sunlight that I gave to other parts of my life.

How do I integrate the parts of my life that I’m not super proud of? How do I love all parts of me. Even the young, foolish parts? The parts that have burdened me with regrets or responsibilities I couldn’t quite shoulder at the time? How do I move toward a whole Me?

Answering these questions has been the work of the last couple years. I’ve made some progress but I find that there are always new challenges on the road to integration.

One of the areas that I often wonder about is Social Media. How do I use social media to face my fears of being transparent? Do I exhibit my scars, or just expose them when asked? Is social media the place for my soul baring? Isn’t it just a curated presentation of our best selves?

..Just musing..