Unmatched energy, untapped potential.
Not much compares to the progress we can make through taking what’s known as a leap of faith.
Now, please don’t go jumping from building to building and telling people Jake Myles told you to take that life changing leap, that’s not what I’m getting at.
But have you ever taken a chance on something you knew with your whole heart was meant to happen?
Now flip it.
Have you ever taken a chance on something you knew without a doubt it wasn’t going to happen for you?
If you said yes to either of those questions. You know exactly what I’m about to get into.
Leaps of faith are chances, they’re risks. Taking control of a situation, looking it dead in the eyes and deciding to make something happen for yourself that you normally wouldn’t do.
A word I want to highlight here, is “belief”.
It’s one thing to strongly believe in what you can do and what you can control, but believing in things that you can’t control, something like the the unknown and still pushing forward is what’s so great about these decisions, they’re ours to make.
Belief is what will get you to take that leap. Believing in, not only the outcome, but yourself. Knowing deep deep down that you will be okay, regardless of what the outcome may show and that will make it easier to trust your instincts in the future. Once you take that first leap into something special, it’s so hard to ever look back.
I guess that’s what any of us really want right? To live a life full of mystery and excitement with new opportunities around each corner, but how do you expect to live that real authentic, meaningful life, without testing who it is you want to be?
How many times do we switch up the people we want to be and the things we want to do?
And how many times do we lose ourselves along the way?
The thing with taking leaps is that we will most likely fall. You’re not gonna land every jump safely on the other side but where you land, that safety net or window ledge or whatever you want to call it, might just be the landing you were looking for. That change in pace, that new environment or however you choose to look at it.
I believe everything happens for a reason, I have for a long time and I’m pretty sure I’ve said that before on the mic but if you don’t land exactly where you wanted to be, take it for what it is. There’s a reason you landed there. There’s a reason that chance you took put you in the position that you are now in.
Long story short, you have to trust yourself. Trust your vision and trust your heart.
This profound belief that good things will happen when you choose to take control of your life harnesses this type of protection against your fears.
Is it scary? Yes.
Is it hard? Without a doubt.
But is it worth it? Absolutely.
I’m still trying to find that for myself. The total confidence to be able tot are those leaps whenever they arise. I’m definitely becoming more aware of the fact that often I can’t control when they appear and just what lies ahead but I see it differently than I used to. I’m so much more conformable with the unknown, I mean I still have a long way to go, but I’m not as scared as I used to be.
Whether you’re not he verge of following your passion or you have that gut feeling inside you and you’re not sure whether or not to follow it.. take that leap and follow your heart.
Know that when you follow your heart, you’ll never regret it because at one point in time, it was everything you wanted, and more.
Hold onto that as tight as you can and never let it go because it goes by so quickly.
And do you want to spend the rest of your life wishing you had, or do something now and spend the rest of your life, thanking yourself for what you do today.
I’m still trying to wrap my head around this question: how did I become a glorified drug dealer?
Ok, I’m not a drug dealer. Not in the original sense of the word. But I do sell cannabis. Weed. Pot. Marijuana. Whatever you want to call it, but for right now, we’ll call it cannabis. I work at a legal retail cannabis store called Tokyo Smoke, one of the largest cannabis retailers in the country. But if you would have told me that one year ago, I never would have believed you.
Ten years ago I joined a competitive dance team. From that point on, dance became my whole life. My schedule was always dance first, everything else second. Almost every night after school, I went straight to the dance studio. A lot of my parents’ money was spent on me dancing. I moved a few times to attend different dance schools and studios. I moved to Toronto to pursue an education and a career in dance. I’m proud to say I have earned myself a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Performance Dance. So I think it’s normal to feel like there is a lot at stake, a lot to lose, and a lot of pressure to put all that work, time and money towards a dance career.
During those 10 years, no one could change my mind about what I was “going to do'' in life. Every time I would get asked that lovely question “what do you want to do?”, I would just say dance. All I knew was dance. I sacrificed a lot of socializing, partying and hanging out as a teenager for rehearsals, competitions and classes. We all did. I took myself very seriously. I worked very hard. I got to work with some incredible people and do some incredible performances. As graduation day approached, the pressure grew. As artists, I think we build this idea up in our minds that if we don’t do the thing which we’ve devoted so much time and effort to, we’ve wasted it. That pattern of thought has been with me for a long time and continues to be. I used to think that if you gave up your artistic passion for a “9-5” job it meant that you never liked it enough, or you weren’t strong enough. What do those labels mean? The elitist attitude within artistic communities led me to believe that certain careers were better than others. So there I was, 22 years old, over confident, a degree in dance, a lot of training, a lot of experience, about to launch myself into my dream career. What came next doesn’t need to be explained… (Hint: it rhymes with plobal sandemic)
Six months later, I work full time at Tokyo Smoke and have not taken a dance class in just as long.
I never smoked cannabis in high school. It was never spoken about in my house, but I was never explicitly told not to do it. I just knew not to do it, somehow. Society had ingrained that judgement in me. My relationship with cannabis started in university when I had a bad experience. This was before federal legalization, and that bad experience just furthered my beliefs about cannabis. When federal legalization was about to happen, my curiosity grew. I was also searching for a natural way to help with stress, anxiety and overthinking. I remember a pivotal conversation I had with my mom where she said that maybe “something more natural could help”, and that was the moment my preconceived ideas about cannabis started to change. The legal cannabis market was appealing to me because it made it easy to understand. I knew there could be more benefits to it then just getting high, and the legal market opened up the floor for canna-curious people who wanted to be educated safely.
When I found myself bored in the house and in the house bored, I had time to dive a little deeper in interests I had other than dance, like music, fashion, sports, and cannabis. I was at a fork in the road, I wanted to dance but I couldn’t just sit around and wait for live events to start again, I needed to make money. I applied for all sorts of jobs, just to get me off the CERB. After multiple interviews, I got a job at Tokyo Smoke as an educator. Three months later I got promoted to a community lead position and I love it. I have learned so much about cannabis, business, marketing and managing. I am part of many different communities. And the most exciting part is that I got into a young industry on the ground floor. It is really exciting to be part of a fast-growing industry. The possibilities feel endless.
Cannabis was a gateway drug for me. A gateway to so many more interests in my life. A gateway to a new kind of happiness, one I didn’t know could exist. I laugh at myself now because I am one of those people who I judged. I feel happy. I’m learning that it is not about asking whether I am more or less happy than I was, it is just about this moment. So what I’ve learned from the past year is that things can change. Pivoting can happen. Don’t be so stubborn. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Don’t fight the current, go with it.
My journey with (diagnosed) mental illness started when I was 12. First came anxiety, and then depression, and, most recently, bipolar disorder. Though these 9 years have been difficult, I have been fortunate enough to be able to receive therapy. I know this is unfortunately not the norm for many struggling with mental illnesses; many go without help (that is another blog post all in itself). That is why I wanted to talk about 3 things I have learned in therapy that have helped me expand my thinking in order to cope with my various mental illnesses.
Just a reminder, I am not a professional. I’m a 21 year old simply speaking from experience. These skills have taken me a long time to work into my coping toolbox, and even still I am not a master of them. Give yourself grace.
Dialectics falls under the umbrella of DBT. Dialectics is the shifting of the mind to see that two things can be true at the same time. I used to be confused when I would feel two emotions at once, because I didn’t really know if that was normal. When I learned about dialectics in group therapy, I realized that two things can in fact be true at the same time. For example, I can be sad *and* excited. I can be lonely *and* content. Instead of saying “I feel X *but* I also feel Y”, I have gotten into the habit of saying *and* instead.
Here are some other examples of dialectical thinking provided to you by Sarah (@sar.thrives on instagram)
2. Feelings are not facts
When I am experiencing a depression cycle, I sometimes *feel* like my negative emotions will last forever. I *feel* like i am not strong enough to rise up and beat off the zombies. Then i learned that just because i *feel* a certain way, that does not mean it is a fact. It is simply a feeling. We must not attach factuality to feelings or thoughts because you can end up believing some nasty stuff about yourself. So, here’s a tip: when you are in your most grounded mind, or your “wise mind”, we must tell ourselves that what we feel is not always the reality. Repeatedly. This will help us when we are in times of distress, because we have already been reminding ourselves of this.
3. Radical acceptance
Ah, radical acceptance, my favourite. Simply put, radical acceptance is the act of accepting your reality, when you cannot change your reality (despite the desire for it to be different). We cannot change what we cannot change. This is a tough pill to swallow! That’s hard! That’s why for me, radical acceptance is the key to letting go of suffering from what I can't change. Once I accepted my reality, I could stop fighting so hard. Resisting my “present'' so much. So, whatever we are experiencing suffering from that we cannot change -- i.e. our weight / our bodies (yup, I said it. We cannot change our bodies long term...), our face shape, our current situation in life, etc etc, we must work to accept it wholeheartedly to reduce suffering.
I want to reiterate that these skills, like acceptance for example, are so much easier said than done. So so so much easier said than done. For me, effective coping comes in waves. Sometimes I am a mess for weeks on end, and sometimes I can pull myself out of it quickly. It all depends on how actively I am working to make myself feel better. Having mental illness(es) is a full time job. So fight like hell. While fighting like hell, though, have some patience with yourself. Be gentle. Be kind.
From the outside looking in you’d say “wow, look at this guy… he’s got it all!” “He’s always so happy”…
I mean, why wouldn’t I be happy? I’ve had so much success professionally and not too many people in my industry can say that but it’s what happens when the lights go down and screaming fans are not there… that’s when you are tested the most.
Despite what everyone thinks, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows … Imagine not really knowing if people liked you because you were you or because you were someone famous and all they wanted was to be around that. Imagine having critics chew you up and spit you out because they didn’t think your work was good. Imagine having people on your team that you trusted for years to only have them disappear off the face of the earth with tens of thousands of dollars of your money. Imagine after having so much success being told by your record company that they’re “going in a new direction” or having family members repeatedly struggle with addiction… These things can really mess with someone mentally and I fell into a bit of a dark place.
My career started when I was very young and I was brought up in a home full of love but we weren’t the “come home and tell me what you’re feeling” type of family… If you were sad, you dealt with it… If you were mad, you dealt with it… Problem with that is when you’ve held in so much over so many years, you’re setting yourself up for a nuclear bomb of emotions to explode. The other problem I was facing was that because of my upbringing, I wasn’t comfortable talking about my feelings. “I’m a man and I should just deal with it myself” or “I’ll figure it out” but I came to realize that is not healthy and I wasn’t gonna figure it out. Well I mean my wife really helped me realize that as it really started to take a toll on our relationship so I needed to make a decision… Go and get help or be unhappy and keep making the people around me unhappy. Well… I decided to go and get some help and it was the best decision I ever made.
In 2019 I started seeing a therapist once a week. To be honest, the first time was kind of weird… You’re thinking that this person is judging you because you’re a bit of a screw up, “Why are you here?”, “What is your biggest problem you think?”, “What do you wanna work on?”…
Umm how about EVERYTHING! Haha! The more he spoke and the more I spoke I became really comfortable talking and realized he was not judging me, he was listening. I think that’s a huge part of it for men, we just want someone to listen to us, support us and not judge us. Atleast for me that was a huge part of it. Every time I left there I felt lighter and felt like I took something away from the session that I could use everyday at home with my wife and my kids. I’ll never forget this one exercise we did that REALLY hit home for me…
My therapist picked up a piece of paper, rolled it up and asked me to grab one end as he held the other end and said “I am the bad thoughts you think of, The fear of what your wife is gonna say to you when you open up to her , the fear of talking about your feelings, all of that stuff and right in front of you is this dark hole and I’m going to pull you into it… what are you going to do Shawn?” At first I thought to myself “I don’t know what this guy is trying to teach me here, it feels kind of dumb playing tug of war in his office, this is what I’m paying for?” He asked me again “Shawn, I’m your thoughts, fears and I’m pulling you into this black hole, what are you gonna do Shawn?” to which I answered “I have no idea what you want me to say” then he answered “Just let go” so I let go and said “WHOA, WHOA, WHOA!” I didn’t expect that” So deep yet so simple! It’s crazy how that moment has stuck with me for 2yrs and anytime I feel embarrassed about saying something, expressing my feelings or feeling depressed in someway I just say to myself “Shawn, Just let it go and say it!
This whole idea of a man felling like less of a man in terms of seeking help is so backwards to me now… I believe it takes a real man to realize he needs help and not be embarrassed about that. Sure maybe 30 years ago this wasn’t a thing but in times like we are living in right now, it is more important than ever to seek the help you need and deserve. Since going public with my struggles, the amount of support and other men who have told me they’ve experienced something similar has been so inspiring. Don’t get it twisted, I’m not perfect (my wife will tell you that herself…haha) and I’m still a work in progress but I continue to work on it everyday.
I’m not sure there is one answer on what makes you happy in love and in life but I hope my story can help someone feeling like there’s no answer get the help they need to at least find their answer.
Stay safe & much love
TW: disordered eating
It’s been hard to just come right out and say it, and its been a process of acceptance.
I’ve definitely gone through the different stages…Denial, anger, sadness, acceptance (sort of)
The more I talk about this in therapy, the more I realize that my ED has likely been manifesting itself in different ways, probably since childhood when I was deemed a “picky eater”. Growing up I was called high maintenance or dramatic for not eating certain foods or not eating my packed lunches at school, when really I think it was always more than that. I had a constant fear of getting sick, and I had this idea that food that was sitting in my lunch bag all day and out of the fridge, would make me sick. I had some safe foods, foods that I would love when my mom packed because it mean I could eat my lunch with peace of mind and not go hungry all day. Mind you, this was to no fault of my parents, because there was no way I could’ve expressed this and they just wanted me to eat and be nourished! Lunches were always my struggle area even today, I find it very difficult to eat in the middle of my day as opposed to the very beginning or the very end, and for no particular reason that I’m aware of (yet). I also think growing up a dancer and being so deeply immersed in sub-conscience diet culture and fat-phobia was definitely taking a slow toll on me (not surprised), especially in my first year of university when I was in the Ryerson dance program.
I truly believe this is where my eating disorder really started to surface…
Now I want to be clear, did the program itself cause me to have an eating disorder? No. Did the program itself severely worsen my mental health issues because of how it’s facilitated? Absolutely. And I had to make the tough decision to leave... This program is broken and an old and desperately needs to be revamped with loads of trauma-informed care and empathy.
The faculty members lack basic knowledge and training in terms of students dealing with mental health struggles (which many are), especially in such a rigorous program, and this is a huge issue.
My experience in the program included being shamed for and deemed as less capable due to my mental illnesses, lack of support, and lack of accommodations. It also included daily comments such as “suck your stomach in, I can see your breakfast, flat tummies please!”, as if these are appropriate things to say. By those examples, I’m sure you can see where my issues began to surface and worsen, and this is just a small snippet of what goes on in the program, but there will soon be a whole post on here dedicated to this topic, so keep your eyes peeled!
I’m now in my third year of university (thankfully in a different program) and only just got my ED diagnoses about 2 months ago, and I only realized that I might actually have an eating disorder about a year ago (imposter syndrome took over for about a year until I finally talked to my doctor about it). So now I find myself in a weird place between just diagnosed and recovery, but these are just labels, just words. To some people they are hugely helpful and to some they aren’t important… either one is perfectly fine! I have gently thrown myself into the online community of people who deal with ED’s and I’ve already found so much support and kindness. I am waiting on treatment (because the Canadian healthcare system is good but not great) and in the meantime am in group and individual therapy to help me cope with this new found part of me.
That's all I have for not, but more to come on this topic soon…
P.s I truly hope you’re all loving the guest post collection as much as I am!
All my love,
I'm Maddi and Im a full time student (studying Child and Youth Work), and a self proclaimed content creator. Here I have my blog and my shop, I hope you enjoy!