The Passion Dilemma

A title written, never finished. Perhaps, now, a fitting time to add words to a page and bring an article to life. As part of my ongoing project, I’m taking old posts never published and breathing new life into them.

This article was started October 24th, 2017 and the last timestamp shows 10:49pm And given the title, it’s fitting. A question without an answer and in fact, the question that produces more and more questions than it ever has answers.

A little while back I wrote “The Happiness Equation” as an update post to simply put thoughts to paper and try to make sense of my ever changing world. A reflection piece and one that I’ve since reflected upon.

As I translate my jumbled thoughts, a clear picture begins to emerge and while it’s still incomplete, it’s better than what I had before.

In a matter of speaking, I hit the emergency brake while I was still driving.

I let the stepping stones sink into the shallows of the river for one last glimpse of childhood and I’m glad. I’m not ready to drop my flame just yet, the real question is figuring out how brightly it burns and where.

Career wise, I’m in a good spot. I’ve moved laterally within my organization and my role is keeping my life fresh. I’m slowly learning to relax and take a breath.

My career goals have become increasingly a checklist. Every time I talk, it sounds like I’m trying to tick my box. Good or bad? Hard to say but I need to chill. My lifelong problem has been I always try to skip a few steps. I see point A and point B but tend to miss everything in between. So now it’s time to deconstruct and analyze. No more talk about College and where I was, the conversation must turn to where I am.

So, where am I? My passion is I enjoy helping others. I love the process of learning and sharing to those who might find what I have to say interesting. Outside of that, I can’t really say who I am. Writing as a hobby? Great. Photography? Enjoyable when I get out and take photos. I learn skills only to see no end, the constant acquisition of progress for the sake of progress. I stay relevant for the sake of being relevant and that is concerning. I said my career was a checklist when in reality it applies to my life as a whole.

I keep building and then breaking, to what end? Instead of thriving, I am simply struggling to survive. I can’t find my “why” even if it hit me across the face. Perhaps I’ve reached a point of insanity, trying the same thing over and over again expecting different results yet I keep trying.

I change the angle and still see the same road. I will be the first to admit I am broken and where once I repaired, now I begin to fracture. And that’s the beauty of life, riding the highest highs and lowest lows. The fact that my heart feels ready to burst at any moment and spread its warmth like confetti all over my cubicle is a good thing. It means I’ve stepped outside of my comfort zone. Too fast? Too soon? Too Much? Ain’t that always the case.

My anxiety has ensnared me and I wonder as the chains break, that they weren’t holding the foundation underneath. I’ve been short of breath and my body wants to freeze, however, I’m not going to let it. My list is ever growing shorter and the page is about to flip unto a new chapter. As I learned in cross country: strength, confidence, and desire. I haven’t come this far only to fail now.

I am learning to trust once more and opening my heart (queue the eye rolls). No more paranoia and no more fear. I breathe and feel my heart beat, and if I’m alive, I can move forward. One step, one foot, slowly (if only, I’m running at this point), and with a map in hand. I now know where I’m headed and where I need to go.


Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed my content. It’s been ages since I’ve finished an article and am glad I can hit the “schedule post” button for this one. A fun little ramble as I go through my life and try not to vibe “hot mess”. Next month I’ll try to have one article published regarding mental health and the topic I’ve picked is anxiety. When will that be? God only knows. Outside of that, expect more poems and short stories sprinkled throughout the year as I reach the next chapter in my life and after I’ve had some time to swallow a few more chill pills.

cheers!

– Mike

A tale in wellness: ASMR

Story Time!

Let me set the scene. The year was 2017 and I had recently graduated College. To Celebrate I took a break and during this break I rekindled my love for watching streamers on Twitch. If you want to watch a great streamer, I recommend DizzyKitten. Regardless, the unexpected happened. She decided one day to do “ASMR”. Years ago my friend had mentioned how “ASMR” had helped him with his anxiety when I asked him if he knew of ways to cope with stress. I said “interesting” and thought nothing more of it. So when Dizzy started, I said, “Why not”? And my God, I’m glad I stayed.

What is it?

Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) coined in 2010, is the term used to describe a sensation of tingles triggered throughout the brain when listening to certain sounds. Done in a whisper, it can be very off-putting at first. Everyone experiences tingles a little differently and some, not at all. For me, it’s as if I can feel the neurons firing in different spots of my brain and it creates a sensation that feels as if my brain is being wrapped in a blanket. That sensation slowly trickles down my spine and creates an intense sense of calm. It’s cozy and intimate.

Types of ASMR

ASMR is both an audio and visual experience. ASMR cannot exist without sound. However, visuals can be used to enhance the overall experience. As such, many ASMR artists choose to do role-plays to create a certain atmosphere. This can be anywhere from getting your ears cleaned to getting a haircut. On the surface, it seems beyond bizarre. However, when you watch the videos, you realize it’s no different than if you were to go to the barber yourself. Most ASMR, however, is simply experimentation with different sounds. Some artists choose to create a spectacle while others do not. Another form is to have a stage and have an audience in real life. These experiences are similar to a play. The performances start with sound and visuals, then dive in for what cannot be experienced through video; touch. While not as common and definitely not for everyone, I still thought they were worth mentioning.

How does ASMR compare?

There are many ways to cope with anxiety and stress. Journaling, writing, meditation, exercise, and tension relief (i.e. Stressballs) just to name a few. The closest ASMR comes to these techniques is meditation. Meditation alters the mind by creating a sense of calm through deep breathing and tension management. Meditation is a way to hit the reset button and can overwhelm at times (managing thoughts can be tricky). ASMR is different in the sense that someone else is in the driver’s seat. The mindfulness ever so present from meditation dissipates and you are left to feel. There’s no work involved and you just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Why does ASMR work?

There are differing thoughts as to why ASMR creates the sensations it does. One explanation is that the whispering stimulates an innate response similar to that of a parent nurturing a child. The whispering and eye contact fulfill the role of the caretaker, creating the intense feelings one experiences through ASMR.

Another Theory is that ASMR fulfills the innate need to connect with one another. ASMR plays with our senses in a way that leaves us vulnerable. This could explain why some are so uncomfortable with ASMR at first.  The whispering creates intimacy and because it is often a stranger, the brain might be sending signals to approach with caution.

Personally, I think we are simply hardwired to enjoy sound. Human beings are empathetic and caring creatures. If sound didn’t matter to us, there would be no use in creating music let alone knowing how. I think ASMR triggers receptors in our brain that are linked to joy (dopamine) and reaffirm our natural rhythm.

Benefits of ASMR

At the time of writing this article, the benefits of ASMR are anecdotal. ASMR has only just recently started gaining traction as a legitimate form of mental health management. It has come a long way since 2008, going from being classified as a “pseudoscience” to something that might warrant further research. As such, all I can speak to is the benefits I have perceived.

I use ASMR primarily at night. Sometimes I watch and other times I simply listen. It’s been about 4 or 5 months of listening almost every night. And I’ve noticed myself falling asleep faster and feeling better rested. While I am under a lot of stress at the moment, ASMR has seemingly an instantaneous effect to quell my anxiety, which is fascinating as I use every other technique at my disposal.  Only recently have I started listening to ASMR during the day and it appears to have the same effect. If you want a quick fix to anxiety that requires no effort on your part, ASMR works like a miracle.

An unintended benefit of ASMR is it has made me more aware of every day sounds. The trickle of water seems more intense, birds singing, the wind blowing, etc. It’s absolutely wonderful.

Another benefit I’m experimenting with is that of listening in a foreign language. As such, I mostly listen to ASMR in Spanish. I’m curious as to if the accents and foreign language will make me more accepting overtime. I’m already as progressive as they come, so it’d be interesting to see the effect on individuals a tad more closed minded than myself (trying not to say that in a condescending way).

Getting Started With ASMR

If this article has peaked your interest, feel free to click on the links I’ve selected below. The first two links are my favorite ASMR videos and the third is the artist I listen to on a regular basis. A quick note before you dive in: ASMR is best experienced with headphones and I wouldn’t recommend listening without them. That is all, enjoy!

#Triggered – First Link

Sound God – Second Link

Tu hablas Español? – Third Link

Research

Information on ASMR is scarce and therefore most of my research was done through experience. However, the podcast “Twenty Thousand Hertz” had a great segment on ASMR and a NYtimes article referenced the “WhisperLodge” which is where I found the information on the Live ASMR performances.


This was an extremely fun topic to research. It also took quite a while to get right. If you enjoyed this article, consider buying me a cup of coffee! Your donation will help me keep afloat and ensure that I can keep producing great content on a consistent basis. For just $3 a post you can help save a Mike Cole in need and ensure he lives a happy and fulfilling life.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Worth A Read: The Road by Cormac McCarthy

A beautifully tragic tale of a Father and Son as they journey South towards the coast of an America laid to waste. So with that said, is it worth a read?

Prevailing themes and a story archetype that works

The premise of The Road is simple. The Road represents a journey. It is a path that must be followed at all costs. Always in sight, always in mind. With all other devices striped away, it allows the reader to focus on the relationship between Father and Son and begs the question, how far would you go to survive? The vivid descriptions of each encounter paint a beautifully realized world shrouded in eternal darkness, a world familiar yet a dream all the same. My favorite theme of the book is the idea that “we carry the fire”. That after the world ends (and perhaps before), who carries the last light of humanity? When adversity comes, will we rise or will we fall?

Father and Son 

The relationship between Father and Son is more than a heartwarming tale of a Father’s love for his son and his willingness to do whatever it takes to keep him alive; it’s a lens through which to see the world. The Father has lost hope and left to his own devices, his actions would not be questioned. He does what he needs to do to survive and that’s that. The Son however, questions every moral decision made and every misdeed done. He is the lens that we lose throughout our lives. And some could argue he represents our younger selves, who is to say?

There is a stark contrast between Father and Son yet they are both the “good guys”. It’s a refreshing perspective that I’m surprised isn’t used more in storytelling.

Worth a Read?

Yes. It is one of the best books I have read in recent memory. This book is the definition of “it’s about the journey, not the destination” and it’s a beautiful message. Is it sad? Yes. Does it cause your face to crinkle in disgust at times? Yes. But it is so very human. When you remove the luxuries of society you can begin to see who we really are. If you want a look in the mirror, look no further than this book.

I give this book 5 out of 5 potatoes: A must read before you die.


There it is, my review of “The Road”. If you like my content, consider buying me a cup of coffee. I appreciate the support and it helps fund my endeavors.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

The life of Mike: An update post

So it’s been a while. My blog has been expanding quite a bit since graduation and there have been a lot of changes. I’m trying a new format for how I relay the information, so hopefully you find this helpful.

Changes since January:

  • Site now has a Patreon as well as advertisements
  • Site has been upgraded from a personal account to a premium account
  • Site theme has been updated to accommodate for photography and the occasional original videos
  • Bought camera so I can actually take photos
  • Learning basic coding to help with edits
  • twitter feed has been integrated into the blog to make for a more personal experience
  • Goodreads reading list has been added so you can see what books I’m reading at the moment.
  • Added my personal mission statement to the navigation menu

In addition to these changes, I also plan to eventually add a contact tab (currently figuring out the best way to implement) and am adding Ko-Fi to content centric posts (so not this).

Patreon and Ko-Fi:

I’ve been struggling for the past few months figuring out ways to monetize my blog in a way that builds a stronger community. As much as I love writing, writing well takes time and effort. At the moment I am hopping contract to contract in the Hellscape that is the current US job market. As such, I am looking at ways to become independently sustainable. I realized the problem with Patreon is the subscription. I like with Patreon that I can set long-term rewards and will keep the page as I still think it’ll (eventually) add value to the site as it grows. But I also realize sometimes people read content and simply want to chip in some money but don’t care for rewards and don’t want to pay every month; that’s where Ko-Fi comes in (it’ll be a “buy me a coffee” button). With Ko-Fi you simply click the button, pay what you want for the post, and that’s it. Most of the money spent goes into the blog and it’ll allow me to create better content and to do so more frequently.

Upcoming Posts:

The plan is to do a Corporate America series! The series will be a few articles such as a look at contracts (small business vs. corporation), reputation (the in’s and out’s, why integrity is important, etc.) and How to spot a manager from Hell (a tale of modern day managers and a look at when to leave a company). I also want to post about the gun “situation” in America, however, I also don’t want to get burned at the stake (this article has been years in the making and might be a few more years in the making). Come May, I have a lot planned for mental health awareness month but want to keep that a surprise. And finally, more poetry and fiction! I’ve been enjoying what I’ve wrote thus far and am glad you have as well! I have a few stories I’ve been bouncing around, it just takes time to write and edit (I’m only one man).

In Other News:

I have decided rather than trying to build a team for this site, I am going to keep the site my own. While an editor would be nice, quite frankly I do well enough on my own that the cost would far outweigh the benefit. As for the writers, if need be, I will have the occasional contributor (however, at the moment, there is no need).


That’s it! Thanks for reading! It’ll be a while before another post like this, so sit back and enjoy the content in the coming months; I have a lot planned and am glad you can join me on this journey.

 

With love,

Mike