Adventures in Dating: Single be as single does

So, I’ve rewritten this article a couple times now. I thought this article would be easy to write but it turns out not so much. Dating stories are easy; I like talking about meet-cute’s and the occasional drama that comes from dating apps. Talking about being single is a first for me.

The idea popped up in my head about a month ago, when I was sitting alone in my room; I quite enjoy being by myself. I’ve always treating love as an end goal, a destination to reach, not a journey to be had. The most joy from dating I’ve had is where I’ve simply dated. And while it may be cliche, love is about the journey, not the destination. What’s the rush to have a girlfriend? Get married? We’re on this Earth for a decent amount of time and the relaxed approach seems to work best.

I adhere to my own schedule and in the last decade have become fiercely independent thanks to my time spent in college and half a decade spent learning to look inwards for gratification. There is a certain satisfaction that comes from being on your own; you’re in essence, as free as the wind. There are few individuals I have met where I have thought I’ve wanted to spend the rest of my life with them (and I’ve caused knees to buckle since preschool).

The dating climate today is exhausting and quite expensive. Online dating is nigh impossible and takes the fun out of dating altogether; dating was a chore before a Pandemic and having a glass of wine with someone over a zoom call is far different than hitting a nice German bar or going on a hike and having a nice meal afterwards. Bouldering dates are non-existent in this current dating Hell we find ourselves in.

On the eve of my twenty sixth year on Earth, dating has become a minefield. The older I become, the more likely it is women are likely to have been in long term relationships that are now just ending. Those high school sweethearts you thought would be together forever? Turns out, not so much. If I were to enter a relationship, Ideally it’d be two to three years. Children aren’t in the plan and I’ll typically take passion over dedication any day of the week. Dating is about mystery and excitement, marriage is for the good and bad. Could that change over time? Most definitely. But if you’re not enjoying the journey, then it’s not worth your time.

I enjoy flirting. A wink here, a compliment there. When my hair grows long, I like to flick it. Years of perfecting my approach, I am now a master. Most of my charm I owe to my management degree and the rest I owe to practice. This has no relevance to the core of this article, I just wanted to add this part for flare and to emphasize the fact that dating itself can be quite a lot of fun when you’re single. Relationships require a different approach and sacrifice some of the freedom being single affords you; not inherently better or worse, just different.

The point I wanted to touch upon for this article is that it might be better if more people were single for longer. We are born dependent, we become independent and then we become interdependent. If we do not learn to win our private victories, we stay dependent and jumping into a relationship in this state creates a co-dependent relationship. Co-dependence may sound romantic, but it’s not. Ideally, a perfect relationship is two independent individuals coming together and setting goals together while still retaining their individuality; it will not work if one party is dependent. Food for thought but I thought it was worth noting. If you’re in your late twenties and haven’t been in a relationship but have been working on yourself, you’re more than likely to be set up for healthier relationships down the road. That’s not to say young love can’t prevail but should that relationship come to a halt, will you have the skills necessary to pick up the pieces?


And that’s it! Another dating article successfully written. This article took longer than expected but I’m thrilled so many people are enjoying this series. Part of the goal is to transition my article writing to more creative topics that shy away from business and informational topics. Especially now, as the world feels chaotic, I think it’s nice to read something different. I had fun writing the article and hope you enjoy the final product! If you like my content, please consider following the blog, liking, and sharing among your friends. If you want to support me, as a creator, I also have a Patreon and a Ko-Fi. Below is the link:

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Also, feel free to comment below! Do you agree? Disagree? Do you think first love holds true or do you think it’s better to be comfortable in your own skin before taking a dive?

4 Things I’m doing to stay sane during the apocalypse

So the world has ended and you don’t know what to do. Social norms have disintegrated overnight and you’re left to your own thoughts. You slowly feel the insanity creep as you lose track of days and time starts to become irrelevant. While we’re not quite at the point where I can make use of my horseback riding and archery skills, I thought it might be fun to cover some tips and tricks I’m doing to keep sane. Remember when I used to do bullet point articles? Yes, it’s that time again! Without further ado, let us jump into number one:

1) Meditation

My go to recommendation, especially now. Where our world was once filled with noise, we now have upon us a forced quiet. There is no more go, there is only being in the moment. Like any skill, meditation is something you teach yourself. We are wired for connection, so being able to disconnect yourself from the world is invaluable for a pandemic. The hardest part is simply the act of starting. I love meditation and I still find it hard to simply sit down and start the meditation. I meditated for 9 months straight the last time I was unemployed and the health benefits were immediately noticed. Back then I did 5 minutes a day and eventually 10. I wore a sleeping mask and typically had my window open to feel a breeze and listen to the leaves rustle. Eventually I stopped when I started working but have once again been meditating off and on. If your chest is tight, just take a little time to breathe deeply. My meditation is quite enjoyable right now and I went ahead and bought a game called “Playne” to help. 9 months of blind folding myself was great but that can be taxing. With Playne, I simply start the game and I can choose different ambient sounds like a creek, wind, or rain to listen to while I meditate. It also has a visual world and a story (as well as guided meditations) so it’s been well worth the $15 I paid. I’ve been doing 20 minutes a day and for me, it completely rids me of anxiety for the rest of the day.

2) Exercise

My love, hate activity. Another show stopper that reminds me how poorly designed we as humans are. There are only benefits to exercise so you’d think the brain would prioritize it over all else. Yet it doesn’t, so you have to trick the brain. It might be easy to justify not exercising right now since all the gyms are closed but you can indeed, exercise at home. This article may foreshadow some topics to come but for now I just want to introduce you to some ideas you might not have considered before. Before the pandemic, I rode public transit and spent about 40 minutes of my commute walking. On weekends, I made it a habit to go to the bouldering gym. If it sounds sad that I built a bouldering gym in Animal Crossing, you’d be right. If you don’t know what Animal Crossing is, shame on you. What’s not said is an idea I had to turn exercise into a game. If I could make it fun, then my brain would want to do it in the future. As a planner, I like to have versatility in my approach. Bouldering was fantastic and is missed dearly but I also set up my home for exercise. 10 years ago I bought the iron gym and that was not so fun; this year I bought “Ring Fit Adventure” for the Switch, which is very fun. The game works as follows; you have a ring that you use to work out. You push and pull the ring to build resistance in your muscles. There’s a variety of activities to choose from ranging anywhere from upper body workouts to yoga. The second brilliant aspect is the joycon leg strap, which you strap to your leg and you can jog within the virtual game world! The game itself is an RPG (role playing game) that has enemies to defeat, clothing to unlock, and a world to save. If you hate exercise, learning to turn it into a game (or better yet, buy a game) is the way to go. I also just downloaded Pokemon Go and bought the Pokemon Go Plus accessory, which allows me to play the game while keeping my phone in my pocket. While I’m avoiding the outdoors as much as possible right now, I take comfort in knowing that should I get too agitated, I can go for a walk and train Pokemon, because lets face it, it’s extremely hard to stay inside 24/7.

3) Cardboard

No, I did not make a typo; since this is my list, these are my rules. Ok, so this is more about DIY projects but I’m still going to talk about cardboard. It started after I bought a switch and was unhappy with my job. I did a little soul searching and my goal for the last year was to recapture my long lost childhood magic. I used to build when I was younger. I would take apart mechanisms and turn them into art. My favorite was the fencer I made from a mini radio. There was an antennae I used as a sword and the speaker covers made a great mask. The fencer has been lost to the ages, but the memory has not. And then there was cardboard. Large boxes made forts and smaller boxes were broken down and repurposed. I once made a house for Mario and Luigi from boxes, complete with stairs and a chimney. While I don’t remember much from my cardboard days, I do remember the long forgotten love of crafting. So when Nintendo came out with Nintendo labo, I said, “why not”? I’ve built a piano, a fishing rod, and even a steering wheel (and motorcycle wheel) for Mario Kart and I was able to recapture a little of my long lost childhood magic. I’ve also built a fully functional virtual reality headset out of cardboard, so thanks Nintendo for making me smile in a way I haven’t smiled in a very long time. So moral of the story, do DIY projects. This covers a wide range, from sitting down and assembling your electric bike to fermenting hard cider and kombucha. I’m talking about projects you can sink hours into.

4) Play Video Games

So this is a habit I never really considered having a huge impact on my behavior and overall welfare. Typically, video games have been historically frowned upon as a hobby. Fun but ultimately a waste of time. When I did the math, however, this was far from the case. Take TV for example. You are simply sitting, you are not engaged. As far as brain development, there is none. You enjoy a story and that’s it. The Office might get a laugh and Jersey Shores might make you cringe, but the highs are lows. The best you can truly achieve with a show is a documentary. Netflix has been on point for content and the documentaries have been reminiscent of what the Discovery channel and History channel used to offer; a thirst for knowledge, quenched. But even with the best documentary, I would feel like shit if I spent the entire day sitting around watching it. Every once in a while, fine. But every day? Unfathomable. Video games I can play every day and I never feel my time is wasted. My brain is actively working when I fire up a game. If you want to learn from a game, you can. The stories are typically beautifully written and you are playing through the game, living the experience. The closest I’ve gotten with TV is choosing whether to take the grappling hook or the slingshot with Bear Grylls in “You vs. Wild”. Fun, but not on the level of a game. Want to learn a foreign language? Download Duolingo. Gaming is fun and there’s no better time to jump in than the apocalypse.


And that’s it! 4 things that I’ve been doing to keep sane in the apocalypse. Hope you enjoyed the article! As mentioned, I have an article planned for each of the topics covered today but it’ll take time as I need to play the games consistently before I publish. The “Cardboard Mechanic” article is ready though, I just need to put thought to paper and take a couple photos! And if you like my content, don’t forget; like the post, follow, and share with your friends! The traffic will help the blog grow and will help bring in revenue as more ads are views; I’m a one man army, so the money does help! Last week, I received my first patron over on patreon, so huge shoutout to Tara for the support! If you feel inclined to donate, below is the link to my Ko-Fi and Patreon pages:

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Thanks for reading and all the support over the last 5 years! I’d like to ask the question back to you; what are you doing to keep sane on day 40 (I think, oh my) of quarantine. What are some of your personal tips and tricks for staying sane and positive?

Our Darkest Shadows: A tale in wellness

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” – Confucius

Depression. The darkness that lurks in every corner not lit. We all carry our little flames, shielding them with our hands in an effort to keep them from going out. And I’ve found in life, as long as there are still embers, the fire can be lit again. We may not see the embers, but they are there nonetheless.

And this is what depression is. It is stumbling our way through the dark, not knowing if the direction we’re headed in is the right one. It is the fear that the flame we carry will burn out, never to be lit again.


For the longest time I’ve had depression and I had to watch my once bright flame slowly dwindle until it was but embers. The best way to describe depression for those who have never experienced it is that of a rain cloud constantly hovering over someones head. When I was younger, I would take every word said and distort it to my reality. You gave me a compliment? I would tell you why you were wrong. You offered to help? I would take personal offense. As you can imagine, that can be quite exhausting for someone to deal with. The best part? We know what we’re saying is wrong, yet we can’t see past our own delusion.

If you suffer from depression, you know this. There are thousands of articles written on the darkness and how there’s no escape. And if you’re depressed, it is nice for a bit. To know you are not alone in your struggle, that others suffer just as you do. However, then you come to the realization that these articles have no solutions and you dive further down the rabbit hole. And eventually? The lines between reality and fantasy begin to blur and you have to watch your world melt away until you can’t tell what’s up and what’s down. Absolutely terrifying.

This is not one of those articles. This is an attempt to offer some guidance based on my experience.  It’s been a long road, sure, but I can look back and smile. Every struggle has made me stronger and once I learned to cope with my depression, I could see my life in a new light. If this is all you read, just know this: You are worthy of love. You may not feel you deserve it, but you do. Be the person you want to be. And take it one day at a time. It may be hard to put one foot in front of the other but you must.


“And when you needed people the most, it felt like there was no one to be found.”

When I arrived at College, I never imagined graduation. I struggled my first year. My Spring term I found the mental health services. A few years of counseling and then I set out on my own; I would occasionally see a counselor for emergencies, however, not once a week like I used to. At the end of my counseling, I bought a journal and then I set out to bury my past, one day at a time.

I have friends but I feel so alone… I’m sure this feeling will pass but for now I’m in complete despair. I worry too much about what others think of me; I have spent a lifetime trying to find myself when I should’ve been spending a lifetime creating myself. It’s never too late, but I feel as though I have a lot of catch up to do… I wish I had someone in my life I could go to for advice, someone close that could come to my aid in a heartbeat. Mr. E has been the biggest positive influence in my life and the only person I have truly felt has believed in me. I need a break and soon, otherwise I worry that the weight of the world might finally crush me into dust…

I almost didn’t write this article. For research I was reading stories written by others and I could feel the struggle, the conflict. The desire to be better but the not knowing how. Looking for a candle in the dark and finding only darkness… And then I reached for my own journal. Nowadays, I dust it off from time to time. If I’ve had a bad day, I like to write. There was a point in my life I was writing every day and when I reread my journal, I can feel the pen hit the paper and when I was at my worst, the frantic scratches as I sat gasping for air.  To be honest, a part of me wants to snap my fingers and erase this part of my life. However, I wanted to be able to tell my story. And as much as I can try, the past never stays buried.

The Journal

The entry above is from the first day I started my journal. I had nowhere to go and was taking it one day at a time. This was a time where I was fully wrapped in my delusions. My flame was embers and all I could do was pass my hand close to feel what little warmth was left.

It is hard to imagine a time I hated myself and where every step I took was like trudging through wet cement. To simply go through the motions and to have every emotion felt (anger, shame, sadness, and fear) except happiness? A living nightmare. To actively avoid the mirror because I hated what I saw? Pure torture.

But I held on. Why? I didn’t know.  I wanted life to be better and thought “what do I have to lose?” And I supposed, if all else failed, I thought at least I could say “I tried.” and then, “I tried again.” So I used my Cross Country coach as a base. I said “if just one person can believe in me, then I could believe in myself.” I asked myself what he saw in me and remembered that I was encouraged to be at my best. He knew I could be better and that I was more than what I was. He was the one who called me out on making excuses and while it took 5 years, I learned how to take accountability and say “no” (which I still suck at). More importantly, he imposed an idea. A thought in passing that I took to heart, he asked if I really wanted to be “mediocre kid.” And you know what I said? I said “Yes.” Mediocrity was comfortable and darkness? A blanket. For better or worse, it was what I knew. Like Batman, the shadows were my friend.

Victim Mentality

Depression is both behavioral and situational. It is something that can compound over time and is living proof that the little things do add up. Or in other instances, proof that nobody is perfect and all it can take is one moment to break even the strongest of individuals. Depression is complex and must be approached on an individual basis and then, involve a community. People want to be heard and feel valued. The further down the rabbit hole you are, the less likely you are to believe people actually care.

For the longest time I played victim, it was always someone else’s fault or if you know me personally, I would say “society’s fault.” I would blame everyone but myself and then, laying in bed or staring at the mirror, I would do exactly that. Typical “I’m a hideous monster”, “I’m stupid”, etc. You know, all the “positive” reinforcement stuff they talk about in books. And as much as I’d love to share another journal entry, i’ll save you the horrors of the blame game. When I’d go to counseling, I’d sound like a broken record. It was the same story over and over again and while it felt good to talk about, it changed nothing. It eventually led to frustration and then, anti-depressants. I took the lowest dose and tried two different types and while they worked, I eventually stopped.

Regardless, what I learned (and this has been the most helpful in life) was to be proactive vs. reactive. Being proactive is the idea that you are in control and it has three degrees of variance. What you do (control), what other people do (indirect control), and our past or situational realities (no control). Basically all this means is you’re not Doctor Who and can’t change your timeline. All you can really control is yourself and to an extent how you interact with others.

The easiest way to get started is to shift your dialogue. Instead of saying “but”, try saying “and” more. Instead of “I”, try saying “we”, “our”, etc. Instead of “I can’t”, say “I can.”

Acknowledge the past but don’t let it define you. It’s easy to spiral if you’ve had a bad day and focus on that.

Don’t deal with “What If’s.” You will literally spend all day thinking of what could be rather than making it a reality. And the more you do this, the more miserable you become.

And perhaps most important, don’t make assumptions. This was my saving grace. It took forever to realize but a lot of issues I was having with my perception had to do with my assumptions. I would constantly say “Those people are so successful, I’ll never be like that.” and “I bet that person thinks I’m a loser.” or “I don’t think they liked what I said.” Then I started asking people what they thought of me and it wasn’t further from the truth.

Environment Changes Everything

Our innate response when we’re in trouble (or not) is to find like minded individuals. My advice? Don’t. I tried multiple groups before I settled on a strategy that led to my success and while it might not work for everyone, it’s a theory worth writing. If you want success, you must go where success is. In College, I had access to opportunity and resources. I had the luxury of choice. So I joined student organizations and for my first few terms, literally just sat in a corner and said nothing. People were most likely thinking “wow, that Mike guy seems a little off” How do I know this? Friends have told me their first impressions of me. However, I was sitting in admiration (and dismay). I hoped one day I’d be able to get in front of a group and eventually I did. And then the “impossible” happened. people believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. I became a leader and was forced out of the shadows. Did I fail? Yes, many times. However, I always got back up. And through doing and pure association, I became. You can’t see what’s not right in front of you, so it’s best to artificially create a new lens through which to see the world (aka surround yourself with the people you strive to be). And nobody is perfect. It takes time and effort. If change were easy, everyone would do it.

Another note I want to make is when I was finally ready to open up. I was extremely fortunate to have great roommates in College. They, as well as my organizations, have made me a better person. They are some of the best friends I’ve ever had. When I would say something wrong, they would call me out. They taught me to cook, clean, and be an overall decent human being. If I was upset, they’d ask what was wrong. I thought for the longest time, if they knew the real me, they’d run the other direction. However, when I had my tipping point, they stayed. They listened. And when I pushed, they pushed back. And that’s the thing, my case is not uncommon. We may not realize it at the time but looking back we have the support we need even if it may not seem like it at the time. Some leave, sure, but most stay. And those who leave you didn’t need in your life anyway.

If you’re struggling to meet people you strive to be, TED talks, podcasts, books, movies, TV, and video games (story driven) make a great substitute until you can find “your tribe.”

I wanted to start this the other day, but today works just as well. I want to record at least one awesome thing a day as a means of changing my outlook on life. Hopefully this will make me love myself so others can love me as well. So, without further ado, what was awesome yesterday? Free food at the library, yum! Soup, Smoothies, Sandwiches, Snacks, you name it, they had it. Completely unexpected but totally awesome! Roommates made cookies yesterday! So many in fact, that it was impossible to fit them all in containers, awesome!

It Takes Time

“I can no longer settle for second best as I myself have become second best, no where close to where I should be. I have friends, I am not alone. I must break this loop of self-destruction I’ve created for myself and I have to do it now; not soon, not later, now…”

You will not see immediate results. You will get a taste of happiness here and there only to spiral back into depression. This is normal. It’s only when looking back are we able to see the gardens planted in fields that once looked barren. And I’m not perfect. I suffer from depressive states from time to time. The key difference is it has become manageable. Where once I would spend all day in bed, now it’s writing, ASMR, meditation, and my trusty stress ball. Other days it’s flipping through a book or watching a show to remind me of the good in the world. Where once my emotions would run wild, I now wield them as I would a sword. If I am angry, I use my anger to focus and channel my passion. If I’m sad, I let myself cry. If I’m afraid, I put one foot in front of the other; sometimes slowly, but still moving nonetheless. And if I’m happy, I cherish the moment and simply allow myself to be, knowing all too well that tomorrow could bring another storm.

In parting, I want you to know that I believe in you. I am not going to sit here and tell you everything will be alright, but I will tell you that it does get better. When you’re ready to give up and your world comes crashing down, don’t. Keep going. You might stumble and you might fall, but you are worth the fight. Hold your little flame close and don’t let go, for one day it will lead you through the dark.


Thanks for reading! This was perhaps the toughest article I’ve ever written. That’s part of the Mental health awareness project. Each week a little deeper and now here we are at the end! It’s been more of an undertaking than was expected but definitely worth it. Next week I will be talking about what I have deemed as “my final demon” and with that article my mental health awareness month series will conclude. I’m both excited and terrified to finally be writing about it. Regardless, feel free to discuss any personal stories related to depression in the comments below (only if you want). If you liked what I wrote but feel self-conscious, I now have a contact me page and can officially receive emails! I read each and every comment and love hearing from all of you lovely people, so feel free to reach out.

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9 months of meditation: Has it been worth it?

The short answer, yes. The long answer, also yes, but longer. So full disclaimer; as much as i’d like to say I’ve meditated every day as I set out to do, I haven’t. In my defense however, progress is not a straight line. When you attempt a new habit, you will have your ups and downs but the idea is to stick with it until you set a new bar for yourself. without further ado let’s start with the most important question.

Why Meditate?

Let me set the scene. I had just come back from Germany, awaiting my kingdom upon my triumph return home. I had my head held high and was ready to seize the world. But as life would have it, my kingdom had turned to ash. My hero’s welcome was using all my available energy to put out fires and keep ships from sinking. In the first time in years, my journal failed me. You know things are bad when Mike Cole is carrying around a stress-ball at every waking moment. All my systems were collapsing and even my books couldn’t save me this time around. But if you know me, I carry on to the bitter end. So I rebuilt my old systems.

I started with 5 minutes a day and went from there. It was hard at first but got easier over time. When I was able to do 5 minutes on a consistent basis, I bumped it to 10, which I think is the perfect amount. But once again, why would you want to meditate? Couldn’t those precious minutes be put towards something more valuable? Well…

Imagine you have anxiety. Scratch that, don’t imagine; everyone has anxiety. What if I told you your deepest fears could melt away and that your clouded mind could become clear? Well, that’s meditation in a nutshell. The hard part is sitting down and making it a priority. As I’ve deemed it, meditation is kind of like hitting the reset button. Done right, it’ll clear the clutter and allow you to focus. Meditation in the morning can set your day up for success.

What is meditation?

Before I started, I looked up different techniques online. I couldn’t find a proper explanation and this frustrated me. Some people go to the extreme for meditation and when they try to explain the experience, it comes off as gibberish. If you look up mindfulness, you’ll get close but still it reads more like a self-help book more than anything else. So what I did, is simply combine the pieces I liked and then simply started meditating. After a few times, I got a feel for the experience and refined it to what is a mix between the spiritual and the mindfulness techniques your friendly neighborhood psychologist would tell you about.

My Techniques

So the idea behind meditation is not necessarily letting go of the negative thoughts inside your head but rather acknowledging them and moving forward. What most don’t realize however, is meditation is not simply an emptying of the mind, it’s a process of clarifying thoughts, much in the way we feel refreshed after sleeping. A good thought can branch out much like a tree and instead of trying to focus on nothingness, simply follow the thought and the thoughts thereafter. Think of yourself as a leaf flowing down a river, perhaps imagine a gentle breeze with branches gently swaying in the wind. A leaf in a river simply is and does not work against the current.

That’s only the first half. The second half is focusing on your body. It can be as simple as breathing to start but eventually you’ll want to focus on nerves. Find the tension in your body and simply be aware, massage, wiggle your fingers, pay attention to dexterity, etc. If you’re uncomfortable, adjust yourself. Listen to the wind blow, the sound of your breath, the gentle trickle of water from a fountain.

There are few ways to do meditation wrong. However, if you want more guidance, here’s a few suggestions. Buy a sleeping mask. If you find yourself reaching for your phone, this will prevent that. It will also block out light and should you open your eyes you will simply see darkness. If you have raw emotion and simply can’t get comfortable, let your meditation posture reflect that. Try leaving one hand open and clenching a fist. The open hand should relax and the clenched fist should control. Over time you’ll most likely end up with both hands open, pressed together in the center.

If you’re looking for a spiritual aspect to meditation but don’t want to turn into a monk, try going into meditation as your time to connect with nature. Sit outside under a tree or leave a window open. Simply learn to appreciate the present moment.


Thanks for reading! It’s been a while since I’ve done a self-improvement article and it feels great. I hope you find the advice helpful and feel free to share and comment below. If you have your own technique or a personal story, I’d love to hear it!