Why You Should NOT Monetize Your Blog

I suppose I should start off by saying that eventually it is okay to monetize your blog. Maybe.

I should also note that I can guarantee with 93% certainty that the thing you think is going to be the thing that you write about and make money is probably not really the thing at all.

Everything will change once you start writing. Including you.

I heard a teenager at some point this year say she wanted to be an Instagram Influencer when she grew up. My colleague, who is just a bit older than me, had to stop and ask what that was.

If something cool happens, and we don’t take out our phones to document, it’s a real missed opportunity. One that has consequences of emotional pain and deep regret.

I feel a sadness associated with the direction of our culture. Like, we are completely missing it. Heading down a road that will be the end of us. We know it. But it’s just so damn hard to put down the phone. Those notifications are like nicotine to our addicted fingers.

But let’s just assume this direction is inevitable (which it is). And that an Instagram Influencer is a real thing (which it is). And that building a following on social media is the ultimate source of freedom and income (which it can be, kinda). Let’s assume all of these things are true and the world will continue on and it’s just another left turn in the evolution of culture – how do we get a piece of the action?

Nothing happens without a following. 10k or more on each social media platform. Which doesn’t seem too daunting, especially considering you can just buy followers and fake the whole Instafamous thing. But that catches up to you. And you’ve seen it on your feed – someone with 30k followers but only 89 likes on their most recent post. They bought their followers. They have no engagement. They aren’t making any money. So building an audience of true followers is essential. If you can get 10k real ones then you can make money.

Beyond followers is engagement – your personal connection with your audience. And that comes through the most important tool of all professional bloggers, brands, and influencers – content. Yes, sad to say, but becoming famous requires just a little bit more than boomerangs in front of your favorite wall mural. You actually have to offer people something that they want and teach them about things they didn’t know.

Further down the road you can get into affiliate marketing and ads for your website. And a million other things to build an income. These are all real possibilities that I have seen with many of my blogging friends. One of my best friends in the world, Jenny Sansouci from Healthy Crush, wrote a whole eBook on monetizing your life and it’s brilliant. It’s also exactly what she did to create a six-figure income.

It is possible.

Most of today’s influencers have had a blog at some point. It remains one of the most effective ways to get your voice/brand/website/handle out there. If you can write good content and get it shared on the proper channels then you can skip about ten steps on the road to internet fame.

When I finally launched Kale & Cigarettes I had been writing for other sites for a couple of years. All the publishers told me I needed my own site to drive traffic from my guest posts. I didn’t really care, I just wanted to write. My posts continued to be among the most popular on the sites that were publishing me. I eventually decided it would be something I could benefit from. I never had the goal of making money from my writing (I still don’t). I just wanted to write about things in an honest way to get them off my chest and connect myself more to who I was. My relationship with writing is sacred and the second it becomes about money it will be ruined like all other jobs.

Most people who reach out to me wanting to start a blog ask me all the things they need to do upfront to be able to monetize it. I mostly laugh. Because you will not monetize a blog within the first year. Most people won’t even keep writing for the first three months. They will spend infinite time and resources on a website, logo, and brand name before they will sit down to create a single piece of content.

*[Note]* – this is a waste of time.

I understand the idea of wanting to start organized as to not miss an opportunity down the road. But it doesn’t work like this. You don’t know what the thing is that you’re going to be good at until you get started. The original concept for your blog will not be the thing that starts paying you 18 months down the line. The thing you thought you loved will be something you despise. And all of this needs to happen before you will be ready to earn a living. Monetizing a blog is a job just like being a barista or a pilot. It might sound more appealing because of all the potential upside, but it requires hours of work every day, a plan, focus, and the determination to keep churning out content even when your wordpress site stats tell you that you’ve only had 18 unique visitors today. And that will only happen if you absolutely fucking love what you are creating.

I like thinking about geniuses as normal people like you and me. It makes anything seem obtainable if the work is put in. The alternative is thinking that geniuses are born ‘gifted’ and everything they touch is a success. There is no case in human history of a genius creating their signature piece on the first try. They all produced shit in the beginning. And so will you. What you create today will embarrass you and make you sick a year from now. But you cannot skip it. There is no other way.

Stop talking about your website design.

Quit rationalizing your self-doubt into strategic business pivots.

Don’t worry about how you’re going to get people to read your stuff.

And don’t spend a single dollar on “developing your brand”.

Just create content. Make a goal to create one new piece of content a week for the next 52 weeks and see where you’re at at the end of the year. I promise you it will be the most worthwhile personal endeavor you have ever taken on. You will be a different person in every single area of your life.

And unlike money, no one can take that away from you.

Horse Ladies and a Black Ball of Energy

I have been seeing Julie for almost eight years. I have a hard time calling her my therapist because I think saying you have a therapist has become trendy. It crosses the line of that character type that is too upfront about their problems where you can detect that it’s a shtick. I tend to not align with any particular thing because there is dishonestly in all of it.

Julie is much more than a therapist to me. She has her PhD in neuropsychology so she’s intellectually robust. And she also has almost psychic level intuition. The way she watches my body as I speak and interprets what’s happening inside of me. She gets visions as I describe things and can direct my energy with simple words. She has never diagnosed me in eight years, except one time when I asked her to tell me how she would categorize my mental state. She laughed and then rattled off a few things that I have talked about at great length in many articles.

It’s not really about detecting illness. I just go in there and talk about what is happening in my life and in my mind. She responds mostly on the ethereal level but she is never concerned about me. She never thinks that something is “wrong” it’s always just energy that I need to move towards or away from something. Her advice to me will range from going to Ireland to experience the violence that my ancestors have put in my blood, drive to the desert and stare at the stars, or visit her friend up north who has a therapeutic horse ranch and spend a week working with her horses.

The horse thing is new. Because this problem I’m having inside my chest, more specifically my heart, has been untreatable. I cracked during a meditation in the mountains of Malaysia a few years ago and had a wiry bolt of lightning strike me right in the center of the heart. The light bulb above my head exploded and the glass crashed down at my feet (literally). I have never recovered from that moment. A drug-like tension runs through my veins every second of every day. And when I’m stressed, or in a serious workflow, the energy concentrates in the center of my heart in a black ball that is so scary to me I believe it has completely flushed my adrenal glands.

I can’t get it out. Nothing is working. No meditation, no teacher, no practice, no nothing. It just sits there. With its own personality. Every time I try to address it or work through it with gentle breathing or a walk it only gets stronger in its resistance.

Stress is something very manageable because you can remove factors that cause it. This infection in my soul is much worse because it has the feeling of a living organism. Or like artificial intelligence. It learns more about the weaknesses of my mind every day and uses that information to get closer to destroying me completely.

The horses.

Julie said they might be able to help break up the ball because they work on a higher level than humans do. And I’ve always had a love for riding horses.

She gave me her friends email address so I wrote her in the afternoon and told her about my predicament. Then I texted Julie and said I hope your friend doesn’t think I’m weird.

She said on the contrary, she has already given her friend notice that a writer and photographer was going to reach out to her.

I waited for a reply.

The woman responded and said she would love to have me. And that an intuitive healer had foreseen my situation and wanted to know if she could be there to work we me as well. I wasn’t really sure what she meant by “foreseen” but I assumed it was just horse lady therapy talk.

Five minutes later Julie messaged me, “She just texted me now that a woman who works with her horses, an intuitive healer, told her this morning that a man with black energy was coming to work with the horses and that she needed to be there to support the herd.”

So I’m either fuckin Harry Potter or about to be taken to the bank by some very strange ladies.

Just Because You Own It Doesn’t Mean You’re Good

When I opened my yoga studio I didn’t really know what I was thinking. I had sold all of my things and booked a one way ticket to India before I got cold feet and moved back to San Diego to open Hale Holistic.

The day before I opened the studio I sat out on the patio and felt a sick panic through every part of me.

It never went away.

I was telling Alexis the other day how fucking dumb I was about some things.

I paid my teachers in cash because I wanted them to be happy. But whoops, I couldn’t deduct it as an expense.

I charged $10 for a drop-in and $100 for a 10-class pack, not incentivizing anyone to spend more money on a larger quantity of classes.

I didn’t do monthly autopay because I thought people would be reluctant to let me store their cc info. So I had them swipe their card every month around the time they needed to renew which meant the beginning of class was sometimes bottle-necked by people swiping their credit cards (because that gd swiper never worked!)

I didn’t run a campaign before opening or have a grand opening party because I didn’t want to bring a lot of attention to myself. I had no social media prior to the first class. My way of getting the word around was walking through East Village handing out flyers for a new studio about 5 days before we opened. And I barely handed any out because I did’t like talking to people or selling myself.

My thinking the whole time was that I was going to make a really awesome place and people would just show up.

Well they did, eventually. But not before I almost had to close the studio, several times.

I had to stomach no-shows for about the first week before people started to trickle in. The ones that found it always found it at random while eating breakfast downstairs at The Mission. It was kind of like a second-story mystery and only people with curiosity took the flight of stairs to see what it was all about.

Yoga, kickboxing, and green smoothies. The first hybrid studio in San Diego. And the first yoga studio to offer free green smoothies shots after every class anywhere. I was proud of that. Probably cared more about it than actually making money at first.

I had a $30,000 investment from the help of my parents and my grandmother who had just passed away. To me, a guy who was living a reclusive monk life with no car or belongings, that seemed like enough money to last an eternity.

Actually, it was only enough money to last me three months.

By then we had a small following and a small family. The teachers were unique and the members were different than other studios. Word got out that this is where you went to practice if you didn’t want to deal with all the pretentious bullshit of other studios. And it was very inexpensive 🙂

With the help of a few more investments from gracious members I was able to start getting my shit together. I realized I wasn’t going to be successful if I kept up with this I don’t give a shit as long as this place is cool attitude. I studied other successful business models, started making my own unique marketing materials, got an organized assistant, and developed relationships with other businesses in the area. Eventually, we started killing it on social media because we were the only yoga studio not posting generic peaceful crap every day. Instead, we focused on our members and using humor and emotion as our main messaging because I determined they were the most honest things we could all agree on.

Hale Holistic: Yoga Studio, San Diego California from Hale Production Studios on Vimeo.

(All of our videos were made with our members and teachers as the actors)

I hated the customer service aspect. Emails about parking and whether or not we have a towel service. First-time students complaining about a homeless person peeing on the side of our building during savasana. It wasn’t the fun part of the business. I just wanted to build community and make funny marketing pieces.

Eventually I sold. I didn’t make any money in the 5 years I owned Hale. In fact, I lost quite a bit. But it was cheaper than an MBA and as my dad recently told me in a heartfelt email – Hale was what launched me into the person I am today.

I know what I’m good at. And I also know what I’m not good at. My second business, also named Hale [Productions], has been profitable in each of the first nine months it has been open. I am not making the same mistakes. I have brought in all the right people. And my ego didn’t even get a chance to get involved this time around.

I work with a lot of business owners whether it be consulting or production. And I can tell immediately if a business is going to make it or not by whether or not the owner thinks they are the best at every individual component of the business. If they want to run social media, and be a teacher, and balance the books, and run marketing campaigns, and build websites, and sit on external boards, and write copy, and develop future business, and take meetings, and write proposals, and hire new staff, and so on – then they are toast.

Often times this is a necessity when just starting, and that’s fine. It’s the thinking that no one else can do it better than you that’s toxic. As a business owner it’s hard to let go of the ego when you watch someone else do something differently than you would. And the thoughts in your mind that tell you they aren’t doing it as well. When in reality, if you just back off and let them work within the parameters you have outlined, what is produced is often well beyond what you originally thought possible. And the fact that it’s different becomes an incredible asset.

At old Hale I thought I had to do everything. And my work load piled out the door. I wasn’t successful. I got my ass kicked. At new Hale I don’t want to do anything except oversee our small team’s Trello board and make sure we have a plan moving forward.

To grow means to have help. To scale means to train. And training means you have to get over yourself and show people what you want and then get out of the way and let them do it.

Daily Routines

A friend asked me the other day if I could say something positive. I thought really hard and then determined I couldn’t.

I can’t see how it’s my job to fix my reaction to the incompetence of the world when no one who is responsible for my anger is doing anything about it.

Why am I the one constantly having to refine and evolve in order to be more skillful in my life?

All these famous artists had their daily routines. I am big on routines. Alexis sent me a passage from another book that said there are a few rare people on Earth that always move forward and push through the doubt in order to be great. They are disciplined by way of doing all the things the rest of us know we should do, yet don’t. And they make sacrifices every day in order to be something greater than normal.

She said it was a paragraph about me. And that made me emotional.

It won’t be enough for me to be good in this lifetime. I have to be remembered for something.

That’s why I’m sitting here writing with my theta meditation playing in my ears after a 20 minute meditation and a nice morning walk. I have to set myself up to get into the flow every morning or else I’ll be washed away by the nothingness of a busy day.

It is my hope that I will move past this anger towards the world and be able to focus on the many good things that are happening.

I chase the money. That is my setback. My heart is full of ideas but I don’t have the tools to walk away from money just yet. Julie tells me I need to stop taking jobs I’m not excited about. I’ve heard this talk before on the white person Ted Talk circuit as well. I think there is truth to it. I also think that every experience is an opportunity to learn and develop your craft. I also feel embarrassed when I think about giving that advice to the family we just did a documentary on that makes $12,000 a year cleaning houses and doing construction. Just, uh, say no to the work that you’re not passionate about… Yeah.

I asked Julie if it was possible that I didn’t even like production. She laughed and said it was quite possible.

I see myself working with people and their hearts and minds one day. It’s not here in California either. Hopefully not in a place that resembles anything modern.

I hope one day that I am walking along a path by a river and my feet are in the mud and I can feel the breeze and that will be enough of a reminder that I am okay.

There are many people in the world who are suffering. And there are many different kinds of suffering. I cannot claim to understand that pain of the sick or impoverished but I know the suffering of someone whose mind is dark and aggressive.

My pain comes from knowing that this life I’m living now is not enough. That I don’t have the courage to pursue who I really am.

Alexis invited angels into our house this week. That’s not really my thing but apparently it is a thing. At first, I didn’t want to be part of it because I have had some unfortunate encounters with spirits in the past but it seemed to mean a lot to her so I filled out the flash card with the three things.

1 for the Earth:

Please help us collectively understand that the Earth’s resources are finite.

1 for your Family:

Please help Alexis to find her voice and realize her greatness and also help me find the daily joys of a long-term relationship.

1 for Yourself:

Please give me the courage to be free.

As it turns out, freedom is scary. The thing we all say we want is more demanding than the death of monotony. To be free is to be comfortable with trusting your feet and not knowing where they might take you.

This life is surface and I need to be better. My routines will take me there.

Yesterday we were walking and I asked Alexis to describe my character and the things I do that define me. Then she asked me the same question. It is surprisingly difficult to name a lot of things that you do to define who you are. Mine were writing and exercise. Hers were being kind to people and her impromptu dance moves. The character part was easier. But why the disconnect between our character and the actions we take? I think that is the missing bridge to getting to this place of freedom.

Writing. Moving. Meditating. This is my holy trinity. And if I don’t do them every day I have no one to blame for a surface life and an imprisoned mind.

Why I Haven’t Written in so Long

It’s been a while since my last post. I was on a roll with the 500 Words a Day and then straight into the Whole30 blog that hit the big time with Melissa. But since then, nada. And it’s because I’m fucking tired. We have been working an ungodly amount in the last few months. Too much. But I can’t say no to projects and I can’t say no to money.

In the last 45 days I’ve matched my annual salary for the previous year.

Money has always been the thing that lingers over my shoulder. I cannot breathe when I think about being broke or “not making it”.

We’re making it. But the anxiety has only gotten worse. Now I need to make more and think bigger and look down the road and make perfect strategic decisions now that will guarantee our financial stability.

Am I really an entrepreneur? I think every week about taking a job as an in-house producer for a large creative firm. Oh, the comfort. The peace of mind.

I used to have my students individually fold the yoga blankets and stack them so they all faced the same way on the shelf. I would tell new students that it was important they did it right themselves instead of me doing it for them. Right now I am alternating feet positions on the stool so each heel gets equal time on the cross bar. I haven’t done the math but I know my right ring finger has touched the keyboard more times than my left and I’m going to have to take a second to even it out. wwwwwwwwsssssssssswwwwwwww.

One of my students said that people who are obsessive compulsive and controlling tend to be very successful in business. I can see it. I think about things that the normal mind might not. Alexis always asks how I think about so many things at once. It’s not something I try to do.

And it has made me successful, financially. But I’m not sleeping. There are so many projects on the deck. And I want to work on them all simultaneously. I woke up this morning at 6:22am because Woody was sick from his flea medicine and now I’m here on the computer. This is a step towards relieving my anxiety. I’m writing for no reason other than to feel like myself again. The last few weeks I would have gone straight to the computer to edit.

At some point I’ve run out of discoveries. At least in the big, moving sense. Part of the obsessive and strategic mind is putting pieces into place before they have actually happened. By the time it happens the actual experience is diluted because I’ve lived it in my head. To the point where if something falls off the table I already know which part of my hand will catch it and how it will feel on my skin given the object’s weight and texture. I don’t know how it stops.

They would tell most people to meditate or practice yoga. Sarah Clark would still tell me to meditate, likely. But that is when it attacks me the most. It’s a tiny, dense, cold, and sharp sphere in the center of my heart that sends jolted electricity through my blood. It has hijacked my veins and used them to run it’s supply of tension, fear, and hyper-reactivity.

I’m losing the ability to be in the moment. I shouldn’t say losing the ability, I’ve never really had it. But it’s slipping away faster than usual. I can only get it back when I watch Alexis and Woody lay in bed. It’s happening now and this makes my eyes well up. Alexis is the definition of presence. So much so that she doesn’t really plan for much beyond what is happening right now. She works at it. She is making lists now. And her work process has gotten exponentially better as a result of living and being in a relationship with a robot. But the reality is that she is just pure life. So I watch her and try to imagine what it would feel like to feel so much. To be so real. I have to imagine it because that part of the human tissue wasn’t installed in me.

I resented being married on and off for the first few months. Maybe up until a few months ago, really. It wasn’t that we didn’t have a catastrophic love and amazing story to get together, because we did. It was more that some part of me – the part that was just me – was dying off. And I didn’t know it at the time but I also had fear of all the work I was going to have to put in as a person.

I’m great at the first few weeks of a relationship. I have great stories and things to show you and places to go and jokes to make and friends to see and I can keep things interesting without showing a single flaw up to I’d say 42 days.

Alexis has always challenged the robot in me. I follow her around the house secretly and plug in all of her electronic devices that are about to die because she doesn’t practice the same charging protocol as me – which is 80% means you’re dead and entirely irresponsible.

There is this thing I’ve learned about called trans-generational rage. Anger that lives in the genetic code passed down from our ancestors. A violent scene in Europe or Gettysburg could be living inside of me. War-driven blood and murder in my heart. I know this is true because there is no other explanation for the anger I feel. And lately, I’ve been able to trace it to the exact moments when it originates.

Yesterday I was walking Woody and he took a poop in front of a friend’s house. I grabbed for a bag out of our fancy leash attachment and saw that it was empty. My brain did some calculations and I quickly figured out that Alexis was the last to walk him. Which would make sense because she is forgetful. Now I’m stuck here in front of this house and looking like I am not responsible and thoughtful and it’s her fault. Who she is is a direct reflection of me right now and it’s an unfair strike against my character.

I saw my friend coming out and asked her for a bag. She laughed and gave me one. On the walk home I thought about how I had a good reason to hold one over her head. Not in a dramatic way, but just a simple reminder that I’m organized and she is not.

But I caught it. Because I’m trying to reprogram my computer brain to locate the moments when my behavior is unnecessarily judgmental or when I’m acting in a way that doesn’t make Alexis feel 100% loved and supported. She is literally the sweetest, most loving thing and for some reason I have it inside of my like a predestined mission that I cannot break the sacred trust we have in each other. I cannot put her in a box and make her think she can’t grow rapidly even though she is in a relationship.

So I made a shift. I came home and made a joke about being out of bags and him pooping right in front of Des’ house. She immediately acknowledged that she forgot to change the bags and apologized. I just smiled and said it was no big deal. Then I gave her a kiss and we joked about something else. This may seem like no big deal to you guys but I know for certain from my observations that these are the little moments that accumulate and determine if a marriage is light and loving in ten years or if people are making jokes about needing a golf trip to Vegas to get away from their wives. I never want to say something like that.

That is the softness that is happening in my life that is contrasting with the growing anxiety.

The way I structure my thoughts is in direct opposition to being an entrepreneur. Control. Order. Efficiency. Those are the things that give me peace. But looking at a spreadsheet and seeing no work on the calendar for August doesn’t make me feel like I’m in control.

So how can I overcome this?

I’ve started to create a spreadsheet that highlights the number of unexpected jobs we get in a given month. The ones that come out of nowhere and weren’t on the projections. I’m determining the % of our total business that is a result of these unexpected gigs and adding that “fate” factor into future projections. It’s quantifying the unknown.

This will inevitably fail. It’s a trick to cover up a systemic fault in my mindset.

As I get older I’m learning to trust good things to come my way. But it’s very unnatural and is taking longer than I’d like.

A few weeks ago Alexis told me that she was my teacher. We both laughed at the time because we knew it was true.

I think on a very big level my ego can stand in the way of a lot of growth. The amount of concessions I have to make on a daily basis – about my own neurosis, my anger, the judgment, and unfairly blaming my own shortcomings on something Alexis is doing in my mind – has taken me down a few notches. No longer the seemingly flawless and charming guy. Now a smaller version of something. Smaller but more integrated. Not as loud but more meaningful.

I’ve missed writing. Because it’s my way of connecting with people. I’d rather not go to parties. I’m not even that big on too many friendships. I find the politics and personal agendas to outweigh the benefits of company. There is a freedom in writing for me. I’m sharing everything about who I am and what I’m thinking without having to feel all of the weight of your reactions. This is more personal. And it’s how I’ve come to learn so much about myself.

I have some more stuff I’m going to be writing soon.

 

Life Since Whole30: What We’re Up To 60 Days Later

There was a time in my life when I wanted a big house and a turbo-charged European sports car.

There was also a time in my life when I rode only a bicycle and worked for Greenpeace.

Then there was the time when I decided to give up sugar, dairy, grains, legumes, and popcorn snacks.

The first two were definitely phases. The last one might have become a way of life. Well, mostly.

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? If this is your first time reading about my experience doing Whole30 then thanks for reading. If you followed along during our January experiment then you know I’ve been promising this “Life Since Whole30” recap for a while.

I’m at the airport in San Diego, heading to Malaysia for work.

Alexis dropped me off. She cried. She cried yesterday too.

I don’t get very emotional when saying goodbyes. I’ve always been pretty self-sufficient and don’t worry much about being alone. But this time was tough. Because it’s been a while since we’ve been apart and she becomes the same fabric as me and now it feels like I am missing something.

And because I’m going from home cooked Whole30 meals three times a day to a place where you don’t get too attached to the street dogs because they might end up in your stew that night. Sorry.

Honestly, I know she is sad but deep down I think she is experiencing some relief considering that she finally gets a break from my unrelenting gas.

So yeah, I still have horrible gas. Whole30 doesn’t fix everything.

I am reminded of how much I hate airports and planes. Most people only travel one time per year. And they’re pretty hard to be around. It’s a case study in the lack of situational awareness and common sense in the average human. Lotta people have hope for the future and say things will be better one day but those people have never traveled on a holiday.

So yeah, I’m still a mostly angry person.

By the time I publish this article it will have been two months since we officially finished our first Whole30.

The more I put off writing the recap the harder it seemed to start again.

But I’ve been on this article for only about twenty minutes and it’s all coming back. I feel the instinct to document everything and the appropriately dry sentences forming in my head as I am experiencing the moments. Writing is a part of who I am. To quote every white person living on either coast ages 18-35 who watches at least one Ted Talk per day – it is my passion.

And still, I can’t be bothered to do it sometimes because I simply don’t feel like it.

Few things actually stick. I assumed this strange and restrictive “diet” would have been another good intention clipped at the knees before ever gaining momentum.

But here we are. Eating mostly Whole30. Still making most meals at home. Still dropping about $200 a week at Sprout’s. And still saving a little bit of money each month by not eating out. Except for occasionally when we eat shawarma with rice and hummus or decide a gluten-free bun on a burger won’t be the end of us.

And it’s not.

Did I mention the occasional French fry off a friend’s plate? If you only take two at a time it’s still Whole30. I think you can find that in the new rules next to the section about salty snacks, right Melissa?

I did learn a new thing about Sprout’s though. There’s a cashier there that has the hots for Alexis. He always finds his way into her aisle to ask if she needs help with “anything”. I know what anything is, buddy. And the other week he told her she had pretty eyes while she was checking out. I’ve decided I need to go with her next time. After I get a teardrop tattoo under my right eye.

The morning of Day 31 was anti-climactic. Neither of us actually wanted to eat anything bad. Well, let’s clarify – we wanted to eat everything bad but our higher selves – our Whole30 selves – didn’t want to toss out all our efforts on some bagels.

We went for a compromise and ate Paleo-compliant pancakes. Not Whole30 approved. But not ingredients that were going to forbid us from early the holy sacrament.

Except that little bit of maple syrup that somehow snuck its way onto our plates.

The syrup hit me within twelve minutes. We were walking Woody to the dog park and I got the sudden urge to lie in bed and sleep for ten hours.

We ate Whole30 for the next eight days. I was more dedicated in those days than I had been in the previous thirty. It was like being caught cheating on a test and then showing your teacher how hard you can study to deserve a good grade.

I AM a good student.

During our 30-day stint we ate 87 of the 90 meals at home. That’s pretty remarkable if you think about it.

It’ll change your life.

If you think about the sheer time we spent in the kitchen over those thirty days then it’s safe to say that it did completely change our lives. It changed what we thought about, how we spent our time, and what kind of excuses we could come up with to explain to our friends why we were no longer social…

Looking back now, I’m trying to remember why it was so hard. Because it’s not that hard anymore. Because I regularly turn down pita and go for the salad.

But I was a disaster for a good portion of our 30-day stint.

Melissa says she was worried about me days 10-21. Something about my attitude. But I’m confident the more she gets to know me the more she will be worried about me every day.

Days 35 – 40 were the closest I came to the infamous Tiger Blood. I felt good. I even felt three degrees less foggy in my head. I could see people clearly and look them in the eyes and feel like there was a shared experience. I felt more purposeful with everything I engaged in. The value here took me to the next level of dedication.

For a while.

Without a firm commitment, we were bound to slip.

Little things caught up with us. We weren’t technically “on” the program anymore so if a friend just made fresh cookies it was kind of rude not to have one. Or three, in Alexis’ case.

We had a few big jobs and when we finished one we thought it would be cool to have a burrito for dinner. Because you know, reward yourself.

You can watch it happen in slow motion, us laying the foundation for our failure right in the openings of the conversation.

“Man, what a long day. I’m starving.”

“Me too. I don’t really feel like cooking.”

To consider the implications of a couple simple sentences like this – justifying the inevitable takeout food because we didn’t want to invest time upfront in preparing something ourselves – would put into perspective how often we misappropriate what actually saves (and costs) us time.

An hour later we were both on the floor holding our heads and stomachs. Victims of Thor’s hammer right to the dome.

But it was easier than cooking, right?

I’ve turned down a buttered roll and a tiny sized serving of ice cream on this flight so far and I’m not even three hours in.

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I have a row to myself – which isn’t as cool as it sounds – because it’s an exit row and the armrests don’t fold up, so I can’t lie down. I do have infinite legroom. But it won’t be long before old Japanese men are doing calisthenics at my feet in their matching sweat outfits while waiting for the bathroom.

You can never get it all right.

Soon I am back in Malaysia, smelling the familiar smells and preparing for my bi-annual fight with the cashier at the airport Dunkin’ Donuts.

“Two waters please.”

“Okay, eight ringgit.”

I pull out my card.

“Sorry, no machine.”

I’m looking at the machine. I just watched it print a receipt.

“You have the machine right there.”

“Minimum ten ringgit.”

“Great. Charge me ten then please.”

She takes my card, pretends to swipe it – not even getting close to the card reader – and tells me the wifi is down.

“I just saw you…. nevermind….. You run a mediocre establishment.”

That was the best I could come up with this time.

It doesn’t feel good. Yet I keep going back.

Three and a half weeks of non-Whole30 foreign food followed…

I was scared to death about my trip to Malaysia. Not because North Korea’s President’s bro was just assassinated in the airport or the routine threats by ISIS on Kuala Lumpur, but because I was going to have to embrace the local diet.

What’s the big worry about white rice and chicken anyway?

To call it chicken by itself would be a bit insulting considering you’re more likely to bite into a nice chunk of cartilage or a kneecap than a breast or a thigh. Here, they suck the meat off the bones. Here, I don’t eat much.

Day after day – white rice, chicken tendons, and fish ball soup. I replaced much of this diet with a case of RX Bars, gluten free tortillas, and smuggled in avocados.

Do you have any agricultural goods to claim?

I was expecting pain and suffering at every meal. To go from my clean diet and toxin-free body to eating rat burgers and mountain spaghetti seemed harsh.

But it wasn’t that bad.

And here’s why.

I did not snack. And I did not over-consume quantity to make up for the lack of nutrition.

It was my most successful Malaysia trip out of thirteen in the last three years.

That dreaded trip turned out to be a blessing. It made it very clear that I would not die if I didn’t eat Whole30 compliant recipes. That my body was, in fact, very resilient. And I could remain calm in sub-optimal environments. I also didn’t gain back any of the weight I lost from the first month of Whole30. Which was a huge plus that didn’t go unnoticed.

But my god did I crave real food when I got home.

After some much anticipated sex it was right back to clean eating. Alexis has become a real master in the kitchen. I can’t even remember the time before she wasn’t natural there. I am now the one fumbling around trying to figure out the timing on all of the new recipes we cook. In the end, I kind of wish she wrote this blog because I think her experience growing as a human has been even more interesting than mine.

Oh, one more thing. I hate to admit this, but I’m back to shopping at Target. I know, I know… they towed my scooter and cost me $640. But it’s just so dang convenient.

I can’t say whether this is from the Whole30 or not but I’m much more aware of how likely I am to succeed at something if I have a specific plan to follow. I may go to the gym every day but if I’m just kind of doing whatever exercises I feel like in the moment I’m not getting as much out of it as I could. I start the negotiations after the second set. I’ll just do three sets. That’s totally enough.

The Whole30 isn’t about food or weight loss or thirty-seven pounds of frozen chicken in your freezer, it’s about following through on a promise to yourself. And gaining the confidence that comes along with that kind of follow through. It changes how you think about yourself and what you think you are capable of.

And it teaches you to make a mean home-made cashew milk.

If you want some company while you suffer desperately HERE is 30 days of Whole30 blogging that you won’t regret knowing about.

My Wife and I Had Two Weddings for Under $10,000

*Special thank you to my parents and Alexis’ Buffalo family for making this all possible. You guys were really amazing.

Getting married is supposed to be the happiest time of your life.

This is an important concept to remember as you begin to question your love, friendships, and the importance of spending the equivalent of a down payment on a starter home on one day of your life.

All we wanted was a simple wedding.

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How to Have Your Dream Wedding for Under $10,000

If you are the type who thinks the silverware and floral arrangements are more important than the love you share with your partner then I would advise you to not read anymore. This is not written for you. It is written for the person trying to plan a wedding with meaning, authenticity, and a pretty slim price tag.

This isn’t about finding a dress that makes you sparkle like a queen.

Or paying $150 per head for food that will be cold and stale by the time the first fork digs in.

Or serving top shelf liquor to your friends and family who can only socialize when they are shitfaced.

This is about having a night that is true with the person you love the most.

Here’s how it works:

People leave with the memory of the love between the couple. They are there for love and they are there for you. They are not there for the chicken cordon bleu.

So possibly that is the first place to start. Finding a partner that you love. So you can focus on that. And not on all the money you’re going to spend convincing the rest of the world how in love you are.

I call it Inside Out Wedding Planning – when the love and connection of the couple is the driving force for the wedding planning.

There will be parents and in-laws and friends that “do this for a living” that will slowly and not-so-subtly try to hijack the planning of your own wedding.

At first you’ll go along with it because you think it’s ‘nice’ or ‘thoughtful’ or maybe you just haven’t spent a lot of QT with that person and this is a way to bring you closer together. It’s not. None of those things are correct. These people (in our case, person), bless their hearts, have entered a realm of impaired judgment. As well-intentioned as they may be, time will prove that their unavoidable bias has them planning the wedding they would like for themselves.

It leaves you in a bit of a bind. If you refuse everyone’s help then you are a pretentious couple and no one is invested in you. But if you just roll with every suggestion then you’ll end up with a wedding so out of control you won’t even recognize yourself on the day of.

It’s an easy fix. Spend time with your significant other and decide exactly what you want. Like, exactly. And start with how you want to feel. Not what you want it to look like. Feelings first, then design around how to create that experience

Ok, you’re planning exactly what you want. Inside out. Feelings first. Then, once you have a master list – venue style, sequence of events, type of food, aesthetics, themes, etc. – you assign tasks to your very generous and involved friends and families. And you make it specific. As with all leadership roles, if you give vague instructions and expect for the best you will fail down the line every time. Alexis and I created a brand sheet for our wedding that consisted of a full color board that all decorations had to comply with.

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You may think it’s bossy or discouraging for those trying to assist but I have news for you, people love successfully completing clearly drawn out objectives. Our motley crew of organizers and planners went to work with so much passion that I cried when I watched them set the venue just hours before our ceremony. People really fucking care about you. And it’s easy to forget.

FOOD

Wedding food sucks balls. There is no easy way around it. Even when you go to the “free” tasting at the fancy venue and have the food and think it’s delicious – it’s not. At least not on the actual night of. Because they are making for 100 + and because nobody eats at the same time and because, as I may remind you, nobody cares about the food.

Instead of obsessing over the food, figure out the way in which you want people to eat. As in, buffet style, food truck, heavy appetizers, formal sit down (please skip this), etc. Then plan a menu. Then find someone that will make it at their regular catering rate. Not the inflated, somebody’s rich parents are covering this tab, rate.

We had sliders, sweet potato fries, salad, chicken satay, and veggie skewers. We set it up buffet style so people could eat when they wanted and so that the focus stayed on everyone being able to walk around freely and hang out with whoever they wanted. All the anxiety about seating arrangements was gone.

I’ll put the total cost of our wedding at the bottom of this article.

DRESS

I know brides have been dreaming about a wedding dress since the time they were little girls (is this still true anymore, btw?) but let me be the first, and hopefully last, person to say that it is more important to pick a dress that matches your style than something that is universally fancy and princess-like. If you’re down to earth and you throw on a sequenced dress with a 20-foot train and more makeup than a Cirque de Soleil acrobat not only are you going to feel terribly uncomfortable, but you’re going to look weird.

People will tell you that it’s your big day and you have to do all of these extra special things in order to feel pretty. But you don’t. You just have to go one notch up from a first date. Maybe throw on some fake eyelashes because they help the photos but dear god play it cool on the hair and makeup and sequins. When you walk down the aisle and look across at the person you’re about to marry, make sure they recognize you.

I realize this has been a lot of talk. And you want specifics.

Alexis was being fitted for a $1500 dress. It was vintage and cute and pretty close to her style but it made her feel uncomfortable to spend so much money on something she was only going to wear once because, let’s be honest, nobody really gives a shit about the wedding dress they have hanging in the back of their closet and the odds of having a daughter the exact same size with the same style preferences 30 years later is quite slim. Just spare your future child the awkwardness of finding a way to not have to wear your dress.

Anyway, all the ladies at the dress shop were gushing over how she looked in the dress – her arms, her butt, her collarbones – they loved it all. But she still didn’t feel comfortable. And there, off in the distance, was a simple, old off-white columned, vintage skirt with a silky wrapped top. She loved it. They all dismissed her. “Honey, that’s not something you wear on your wedding. It’s your special day.” Fucking robots. But thank god my wife has some grit. Off with the dress!

Skirt – $39.

Wrap – $79.

Wedding dress – $138.

Inside Out Wedding Planning. She got what she wanted and what she felt comfortable with and was rewarded with an almost unbelievable price tag.

Did she look less than wedding-like?

When she walked down the aisle to Lady Fingers by Herb Alpert people’s mouths were on the floor.

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SUIT

My brother was kind enough to offer to buy my suit as a wedding gift. I already felt guilty having him spend his money on me so we agreed to go to the Hugo Boss outlet store. I found an amazing two-piece suit, navy blue and tailored fit, for $300. It was classy and it felt great. After a $34 alternation to accommodate my giant ass, I had a suit that fit like a glove that fits well.

RINGS

The engagement ring is the spanking that nobody’s savings account deserves. From two thousand dollars all the way up to 10 grand. And for what? A few months? So people can look at your future wife and think, goddamn, that dude must be ballin?

I know that some men/women think they have to impress with the engagement ring to get their partner on board or to get their partner’s parents on board. News for you – you’re with the wrong person. First of all, people are murdered to make the diamonds that we flaunt around on our fingers. And I’m not even trying to be political. Secondly, and no offense, diamonds are kind of boring. They don’t speak to any unique characteristics of your partner or your relationship.

I bought Alexis a handmade, vintage opal ring. I saw it and it reminded me of her. Only later did I find out that it was her birth stone.

$78.

Guess what? She loved it. Balled her eyes out.

For our wedding rings themselves – we bought each other gold Cartier bands. I got a single band and she got the trinity bands. She has been looking at this style of triple banded ring and loved them more than any other ring we looked at. One day, in San Francisco, we walked into Cartier and did the damage. Combined cost of $2000. We wanted to feel like Jay-Z and Beyoncé.

MAKEUP

Do your own. Or have your fanciest friend do it for you.

VENUE

Wedding venues are a joke. In fact, a vast majority of the people in the wedding business are only there because they know they can price gorge your pants off. We saw it first hand. We had a family member that literally said, “We are not doing buffet, I’m not going to have it look like we are poor.” And I was thinking, I fucking love the buffet. But I could have folded. Because what other people think about us tends to be more important than what we actually want. And this is magnified by 10,000,000 when it comes to weddings.

Here’s the thing though – if you love your partner and you make your wedding about your love and not your table settings and gaudy balloons tied to chairs – then you are going to create a night so meaningful that everyone there is going to run home and want to kill themselves for not having what you have. And that’s the real goal isn’t it? To put your true love on display for the world to see, and maybe envy.

So the venues then.

Find a place that doesn’t specifically do weddings. A cool building or a restaurant that you love. Someone’s house that you cherished when you were growing up. Find a place that has meaning to you. And, even better, find a place that is usually closed on Sundays.

You might be thinking, Sunday?! That’s not when you have a wedding. You are wrong. Sunday is amazing for several reasons:

1)   Venues are cheaper on Sundays by an average of 20%

2)   Your half-assed friends and family will have a great excuse not to come – because they work on Mondays – and that means that only the people who truly love and care about you will show up. And it also means you’re not an asshole for specifically not inviting the people you don’t honestly even like that much.

3)   Many restaurants are closed, so you can make a deal to rent the space you want.

We started the conventional route and reserved a gigantic, sterile museum hall. That set us back $1400. Then we found out they had an exclusive catering deal with a company I cannot specifically name because my wife will be upset with me even though I wanted to call them out by name and post this article on their Facebook page…. anyway, we were going to have to order the food through them.

This is when things got complicated.

We told ________ Catering Company that we didn’t have a huge budget for food. That we wanted to do something simple and inexpensive. After that moment they basically stopped caring about us. The best deal we could get – $9000 for 100 guests to eat chicken and salad.

Alexis and I went through a rough couple of weeks at this point. The wedding was going to empty our savings and I insisted on reminding her how a wedding was a bad idea in the first place.

We had lost our wedding – the joy, the plan, everything. We became like the many other couples who started with good intentions and ended up fighting with each other about how to get married.

And one day, after a 14-day road trip we took up the coast, it hit us – we were going to cancel the venue, say fuck you to the catering company, and plan our own wedding from scratch.

At the time I was making a GoPro film of our trip and thought that our wedding should have a film, because I’ve been a filmmaker for the last 5 years and Alexis has very often been my muse. And we were going to tap her network of friends who owned and managed restaurants and get them to let us have our wedding at one of their spots.

We found a great one. Closed on Sundays. And told them, “We have $4000 to spend on venue, beer & wine, and food. What can you do for us?” And it happened that the owner of this restaurant had been wanting to get into the event hosting business and said he would include everything (tip too) for $4k. Done deal. 95 people. Sign here please.

Because you should have a budget. And you shouldn’t go over. Negotiating is only hard because we are afraid what people will think of us if we can’t pay what they are asking. The reality is, people want to be useful. And when you lay out exactly what you have and exactly what you want, they will make themselves useful. And the whole interaction is more meaningful. And this is all of life but we have to stick with weddings for now.

We had the sliders, fries, salad, chicken satay, veggie skewers, and sweet potato fries.

We had beer, wine, and Prosecco.

We had 88 chairs facing an alter made by our super crew and an 80” screen to show the film we made about how we met each other and how we fell in love.

And all of this was $4000.

We took liquor out of the equation because we didn’t want a shit show for a wedding. Neither of us drink so we thought it was a healthy compromise. It also saved us a couple grand. And don’t be fooled, your friends will be just fine – they’ll bring flasks.

FLORAL ARRANGEMENTS

And then there were the decorations. Because if you don’t have high-end floral arrangements and copper ring napkin holders you are a loser.

I actually came very near fainting when someone explained to me how much flowers were going to cost – $3000:

“The things that grow in the ground for free?”

“Yeah but you need someone to style them?”

“Style them? Is it hard to make FLOWERS look pretty?”

Then Alexis had a brilliant idea, a Bouquet Brunch. All of the women got together the day before the wedding to arrange the flowers. We used a friend of a friend to buy the flowers wholesale ($500) and the ladies put them together in sake bottles that we had cut in half by our friend that owned a sushi restaurant. People had the time of their lives – both sides of the family got to meet and bond – and the flowers turned out beautifully (because they are flowers). Lots of Pinspo happening on that afternoon.

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PHOTOGRAPHY

Photographers can cost a fork load. I should know, I am one. And for us, again, it wasn’t really about the photos – it was about the night. And you’re thinking, Yeah but I wanna hang a picture on my wall and remember my wedding forever. First of all, I will be shocked if you ever make it around to ordering prints and getting them on the wall. But if you do, and I’ve underestimated you, then I’m sorry. There are other options than hiring a professional photographer which will easily start at $2500.

We approached the situation from two sides.

Side 1 – we asked my cousin, a hobbyist and aspiring photographer who was looking to build a portfolio, if she would bring her camera and take pictures of 3 things – Alexis walking, us smooching, and us walking together.

Side 2 – I brought a good camera, set the settings for the room, and gave it to my friends to pass around the whole night. We had no idea what anyone was shooting, just that we saw a ton of flashes throughout the night. When we got the camera back there were a few hundred photos taken by a few dozen different people, all totally unique and really capturing the true feeling of the night. I Venmo’d my cousin $150 even though she adamantly refused payment.

*Bonus – Alexis’ friend showed up with his expensive camera and took even more photos as a wedding gift.

LOCATION (if you don’t live near your family)

Then there was the issue of us living in California and our families being in the Midwest. Not all of our CA family could make the trip because it’s far AF and expensive AF. So we had a West Coast Wedding Party for all of our friends that couldn’t make the trip to New York for any number of reasons.. And we had it at the restaurant downstairs from our apartment on the stone-paved sidewalk under the hanging market lights. She made breakfast for dinner and we made it BYOB so our friends were sipping wine out of red plastic cups and the whole thing cost us $600 for 75 people.

Technically, we had TWO weddings for under $10k. Both magical nights that ripped this cynic wide open.

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THE MATH

Dress – $138

Suit – $334

Engagement Ring – $78

Wedding Rings – $2000

*Venue 1 (that we didn’t even use) – $1400

New York Venue + Food + Drink – $4000

Flowers – $500

Photography – $150

West Cost Wedding Venue + Food – $600

TOTAL COST FOR TWO WEDDINGS – $9200

*Note this price includes the $1400 we were not refunded because the venue had no moral compass.

What I took away the most – what made me cry for 45 consecutive minutes on the night of our wedding – was how much people cared about us and how willing they were to contribute. I’ve never seen so many people call in so many favors and work to make our night special. It was easily the best night of my life.

 

*We spent 2 weeks in Europe – Paris, Amsterdam, and Barcelona – for our honeymoon. We used the gift money to pay for the whole trip.

Whole30 Day 30 : This is Really the End

9:21 a.m.

The best way to stay in touch with Woody is through my Instagram. There is just no way around it. And to continue to read the blogs I post, as I will post many more blogs in my life, make sure you like the Kale & Cigs FB page. Those are the things I ask of you on this morning, our last morning.

It’s our last day of high school together. Most of us are graduating and 87% of us will be going away to college as we are a predominately white school. There are some that will do two years at the local CC because they are already in overbearing relationships, but they will likely change their minds by April of next year when they see that other, much more attractive and interesting people are away at school. I only wish that I was moving away from the baby cult rock band that runs the streets below me on early Saturday mornings.

I have a photoshoot today at a friend’s law firm (never can know enough lawyers) and Alexis has her first trunk show.

9:57 a.m.

I have just eaten some kind of sausage biscuit mcmuffin without any bread. I don’t know how she did it but it was amazing.

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*recipe here.

Am I eating too much salt? I am starting to have dry mouth after every meal. What does this mean? Someone please tell me.

10:45 a.m.

I gots ta go. Trying to help her carry her clothes and these nice chairs around the corner but also realizing that I hate being late and Woody destroyed his new toy in 12 hours.

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1:30 p.m.

On my way home from the shoot. Very hungry. Alexis is probably hungry too. Double accountability.

I knew it was a rotisserie I was after. It solves the most problems for the least amount of money and effort. Only I didn’t want to go to Whole Foods because it was technically out of the way. I swung by Albertson’s hoping they would have a naked rotisserie. Man was that a mistake. There was not a single thing in that store, minus the produce, that was Whole30 compliant. Just a bunch of boxed garbage coated in sugar. Bet it tastes good though.

My time saving maneuver ended up costing me another 45 minutes. I went by the house and then all the way up to Sprout’s because the local market didn’t have their roasts out yet.

And this Sprouts rotisserie was the size of a quail. I ate most of it before even getting to the salad making.

2:46 p.m.

Live from the trunk show bringing her a salad. Woody is hanging out eating all the plants. And laying in the sun. People want to be like Woody. He is good for business.

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I feel completely demotivated. What have I worked so hard for? What has really changed? It’s just me still, relatively healthy but completely psychotic and paranoid.

Tomorrow is the open field of choice and self-discipline and I’m afraid I’m going to fall flat on my ass.

4:40 p.m.

Michelle, Ryan, and J-Man stopped by to say hello. Jasper is using the force to steal my wallet. A new and exciting hobby for a four year old to pick up.

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But what’s more important than anything – The Shark has arrived.

6:07 p.m.

Our last Whole30 dinner. Tear. I would care more if our new vacuum didn’t just come in the mail. I vacuumed the floors with the upright base then the pillows with the handheld extension and then our duvet cover with the curtain attachment. The thing is like a transformer. Woody has been mostly barking at it and trying to eat through the cord.

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I am a vacuuming person and I am very happy about it. I can see pillows without dog hair and it gives my brain a familiar sense of peace.

7:03 p.m.

“Maybe I’ll go back to popcorn.”

I think we’re over it. And there’s no reason why. Why wouldn’t we just keep going if it is working for us? It didn’t break anything for me. It didn’t irrevocably change my relationship with food. The second I have just one bite of something – maybe a burrito, maybe popcorn, maybe a hot fudge sundae – the whole well will open back up. Because it’s all or nothing for me. I’m either on something or I’m off it. The only moderation I have is when I average the extremes that dictate my life. I am deeply interested maintaining this new, trim frame I’m carrying around however.

Dinner was good though. Cauliflower mash, roasted kavocha squash, and ground beef. I was tired of chicken. Plus I accidentally stuck my finger in the rotisserie’s butt and it made me feel weird and too personally attached to chickens.

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Woody is lying on top of my feet in a tight little ball. I wonder why he trusts me so much? Certainly makes me feel good.

After 30 days of eating like I imagine Jason Bourne used to in his prime nothing significant has shifted in my mindset. It’s like, I know doing yoga and meditating every night will help me arrive at a more harmonious level of living but I don’t do it. Some nights I walk right past my mat because I’m too tired or some other bullshit. I know cutting out sugar and grains had a significantly positive impact on my life. But tomorrow I’ll have gluten free pancakes with maple syrup and probably rub them all over my body by the time I’m finished. This craving to do what I know isn’t good or me long-term, but is oh so good in the moment – it’s not fixable. Make that course. Write that program. Teach me how to look at the things that benefit as exciting endeavors and not tedious work. And I’ll commit to another 30 days of writing.

7:52 p.m.

I have a headache! We need equipment to monitor ourselves 24/7. I’d buy it. This must be the salt. How can I be eating too much salt? There are people eating frozen dinner every night and they are fine. My grandparents lived into their 80s and they didn’t GAF about gluten or alcohol intolerance. I’ve been given the sensitive gene. And I hate it.

8:37 p.m.

Just finished the first round of edits on the law firm photos. I can’t share them just yet for legal reasons (ha!). But seriously, I can’t. These are important people.

I know you’re expecting something significant from me on this last day, but I’ll be honest – I’ve got nothin. We are low on groceries, low on morale, and our country is turning into, or rather revealing that it is, a racist pile of dookie right before our eyes.

9:24 p.m.

As far as continued Whole30 blogging goes, I’m undecided at the moment. I’m a coach that has just won the championship and really I can do whatever I want. I can go to Disney I can go to the Bahamas or I can stay home with my family and decide the best thing for us moving forward. I am interested to monitor our spending post Whole30. Will we actually spend more or less money without cooking every meal at home? And how long until I eat something undeniably bad for me.

As for tomorrow, we are talking about gluten free bread or gluten free pancakes to see how that impacts us. We might go out to breakfast. Enjoy ourselves a little. Celebrate if you will.

What did we spend in the 30 days afterall?

Week 1 – $480. Ouch, man. Couple of rookies.

Week 2 – $200. Hell of a trim job there, Alexis.

Week 3 – $394 (thanks to LA). $239 without the weekend getaway.

Week 4 – $264.

Whole30 Total Food Spend:

$1338

Bam. Take that one right in the dick!

Final Thoughts with Kirk:

I stand by an early assessment that we came into this thing as Californians. Non-drinkers and mostly healthy eaters. There was never a moment where I remember experiencing such radical transformation as to say this whole process was “life changing”. I know that at times I felt like it was changing our lives – the time spent focusing on foods, lack of socializing, prioritizing nutrients over taste, and different day-to-day stuff like that – but I don’t stand here today on Day 30 feeling touched. I feel more informed about food. I feel happy that I’ve lost weight and reduced inflammation. I know that Alexis is really pleased to have learned so many recipes and enhanced her cooking skills by 2,000 points. But I don’t feel overwhelmingly proud of myself. Sticking to things isn’t new to me. That in itself was an inevitability. I guess I just hoped for more. Which can’t be blamed on Whole30 entirely. As Greg said, “These are extraordinary times.” My focus has been pulled into many different directions. I’m fighting with people I don’t even know. Scrolling through media with pain in my heart. And feeling like my little yuppie food experiment is ultimately not that important.

I know we are supposed to spin things positively. It’s a thing we do in conversations.

“How’s work.”

“Oh you know, it’s not my favorite job. Buuuuuuttttt it’s been a great learning experience and given me and chance to practice a bunch of things I don’t necessarily like………”

I do this every time I talk.

“How are you?”

I’m in a fucking terrible mood.

“I’m doing good. How are you?”

“Good.”

Great, another wasted opportunity between people.

Anyway, I’m supposed to end this on a high note because that is what everyone would naturally expect. That’s what we almost need. But I can’t. I’m sick about our world and I’m tired of worrying about fucking gluten while people face such unbelievably unfair atrocities all over the world. If nothing else I’ve been humbled by my own privilege and freedom over the last 30 days. I’m glad we’ve laughed, don’t get me wrong. But I’d be lying if I said I felt like laughing right now.

So let’s wrap it up with my favorite food and Woody photos of the last 30 days.

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Okay, after looking through these I feel happier, more in touch with this experiment, and grateful for everything that has taken place. I get caught up sometimes. I just needed to rehash it for a second. Which reminds me of why I write in the first place – so that I can remember who I was and what I did and hopefully be inspired to do a little more and be a little better. It is such an effort to keep our minds right and our hearts filled with good intentions. But really an unparalleled reward when things are lining up.

A sincere, sincere thank you to everyone that has been following along and commenting through the process. It really means a lot to me and gives me a great sense of stimulation. I think taking a few days off from the blog will help this experience sink in even more.

And the biggest thank you to Chef Alexis for stepping up to the highest of all levels and taking on the cooking duties with such passion and interest.

Off to McDonald’s now 😉

Chowder.

 

Read Day 29 HERE.

Whole30 Day 29 : Get Ready to Say Goodbye My Friends

9:13 a.m.

I pooped so hard I wanted to grab it out of the toilet and use it to start building condos. Maybe one of those Pencils of Promise projects in Ecuador or something.

Breakfast was as quick as it was small.

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Have to get out of the house and make my follow-up meeting at the restaurant.

11:01 a.m.

Looks like they are going to want more work. Which is great because I need $20,000 for a down payment on a rental property in Portland.

11:23 a.m.

He’s a strange guy, the guy that cleans our windows. He talks a lot about electromagnetic fields and always tells me to drive carefully because, “There are a lot of crazy drivers out there.” He says things like, “It’s a crazy world we are living in right now,” but he never really elaborates as to why. I don’t know why I hired him, mostly because he was a total weirdo and having him around made my life weird too. And because when he is in the studio cleaning I get the familiar chill down my spine that I got in elementary school when the librarian, with her soft voice, would help me find a book I was interested in reading. The same sensation I get on occasion when a customer service agent goes out of their way to help me over the phone. I would spend all my days chasing this feeling if I knew exactly what caused it. Currently, it’s just this guy. That’s why I brought my computer into the studio to work while he talks about not being able to out-maneuver longevity and how he can fix my locks or install a screen door if I wanted because, “I can do that sorta thing, too.” Today, I told him to go ahead and patch up the handle lock. We don’t really need it fixed but it’ll keep him around another twenty minutes and I’ve got the tingles going on a major level.

11:45 a.m.

Lunch happened with a bang.

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Staple salad – chicken, cauli rice, cashews, spring mix, some other shit, avocado, and olive oil. Hits the spot every time. Except for when there’s a caterpillar in it. Which has only happened to me once, at Whole Foods. “At least that means it’s fresh!” The cashier told me. “Yeah, you’re still going to give me my money back.” Dipshit.

2:55 p.m.

“How do you want to feel?”

That was what Deepika asked me during our session. She reached out to me the other day and said she was confident she could help with my sleep and my poop. Anyone who is willing to take on those monsters is a hero in my book. Plus she is a legit Indian-American practicing Ayurveda. Not like a disgruntled white chick that felt a connection to the Himalayas after she went to Mysore for a month and decided she wasn’t going to cook with garlic or onions anymore. We went through my intake paperwork and talked about the things that trouble me (everything). And she said she was going to treat me pro-bono because I seemed like the type of person that is always trying to give to others and not very good at receiving. Fair enough. I guess she was right because I could barely just say thank you without wanting to offer her something in return. Shit runs deep.

Receiving something without offering anything back. A simple thank you was all I could give. And boy did that feel like not enough. Lesson one, on repeat.

She also had a toy for Woody.

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Now I’m waiting in the lobby while Alexis gets her treatment. This is a community space. Next to me is the door to the chiropractor’s office. He came out wearing jeans, a t-shirt, and a baseball hat. Casual, I thought. Now he is in the room talking with his patient about all the psychedelics he has done. They are both prone to dabbling in the blow from time to time. One of them really likes Molly while the other can’t go anywhere near amphetamines. These are often the conversations I imagine having while visiting with my healthcare provider.

3:14 p.m.

It is Whole30 hell to be away from home or a kitchen for more than two hours. We will be going on four hours by the time we get home. I had my second Rx bar of the month and an apple. Alexis jacked my cashews as I came out of treatment and she went in. We are not on the same page today. We got into an argument before bed and haven’t taken the time to resolve yet because today is really busy and we both have to do work that we don’t want to do for each other so it’s adding to the desire to be crabby back and forth. Our exchanges are four words or less and we haven’t made eye contact for more than a second. I’m sure if we just paused to look at each other we would hug and then we would be absolutely fine. But there’s something about being busy and having to do work that you don’t want to do that will make you hold onto a grudge just a little bit longer. It’s that displaced anger that spoils relationships that I mentioned the other day. Pride is heavily in the mix as well. I am not worried as we are too good of friends and too prone to communicating our feelings to each other to let this become a thing. I suppose that I technically owe the first apology and that is what she is waiting for. I’m not quite ready to be the bigger person but I’m sure it is coming soon. Hopefully it is coming soon. We have to film an event together this evening.

3:33 p.m.

This bar and apple business is pure shit. My muscles feel weak and my stomach is on edge. I could’ve eaten a quesadilla if I wanted to feel like this.

4:06 p.m.

Deepika just walked out of the treatment room and asked if I would come inside to speak with her and Alexis for a second. Da fuck did I do?

I’m inside and Deepika is saying something to me and Alexis casually mentions, “I’m pregnant.” I keep talking through it because I think this will somehow mean it never happened.

“Did you hear what I said,” she says looking at me. “I’m pregnant.”

To say that I looked like I saw a ghost would be a gross understatement. More like 3,000 knives were trying to enter my body simultaneously from different angles all being held by people that severely hated me and me trying to channel Keanu from the Matrix and dodge them all in slow motion. It got so warm. And then I became dizzy. And then I thought of three concrete ways in which I could knock myself unconscious. I wasn’t til eight or nine notches later on the reaction chain that the thought of trying to force a smile came in. We’re fucked was the closest I could come.

And then she cracked a smile. And then she started laughing. I reached for my chest to confirm that I was, in fact, still alive. I was. But she wasn’t going to to be for long.

“Gotcha,” she said with a big grin….very pleased with her self.

“You’re out of your fucking mind.”

“That’s for all the times you snuck up on me and scared me.”

Touchè you psychopathic monster.

But tell me for real that you didn’t just have major anxiety reading that shit? Yeah, imagine how I felt.

Deepika tries to get us back on track by talking about couples massage. I will have none of it unless it is Alexis massaging my weiner apologetically.

5:30 p.m.

I’m trying to get all this shit ready for the event tonight. It’s not even about art for events. It’s all technical (yes I spelled it wrong first) crap. Batteries have to be charged, memory cards have to be wiped, cords have to be accounted for, and every other tedious, non-creative thing you could imagine. I’m getting all this sorted while Alexis makes mango garlic chicken with squash, pineapple, and pieces of green wax.

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9:25 p.m.

Just got home from a lecture given by the EMDR woman that Alexis has started seeing.

My throat has been uncontrollably dry for the last 24 hours. Perhaps it is the non-compliant Chipotle chicken we ate or perhaps it is the sixteen or so pounds of sea salt I consume on any given day. Can’t be sure. My gas is so bad. Like, if I unscrewed the cap to the gas tank on my Volvo I could just let my ass breathe in there for a sec and get us at least 35 miles. I smell like Monsanto.

Which reminds me of a company I almost started called Jar of Farts. It was after I heard the song Jar of Hearts by Christina Perri. My company was geared mostly towards the Japanese traveling male. Attractive women from all over the world were going to fart in mason jars and seal them up and put them for sale on my site, jaroffarts.com (which was sadly taken). They would have to describe their diet and lifestyle. Eventually there was going to be a play for vending machines. It failed after friends and I sent test samples to each other in the mail and realized that after four days you were left with nothing. You know what they say, better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all.

I was roped into attending this lecture because Alexis needed my help filming. It was a filmmaker’s dream. Small room crammed with people sitting in chairs. One old ceiling fan giving off fluorescent light. And a space heater rattling next to the microphone. We made real gold tonight I’m sure. To break the ice, I told all the women there that the backs of their heads would probably become famous after this video hit the internet. Only after it came out did I realize that I basically just called them all pornstars to their faces. Not so smooth considering they were there for relationship therapy. Another point deducted from the male side.

To answer Deepika’s question, I suppose I want to feel a combination of harmony and complete fuckin chaos.

 

Read Day 28 HERE.

Whole30 Day 28 : We Discover Chocolate Bars

9:59 a.m.

Woody partied his balls off at the park. We weren’t planning on going. We came up to the corner and he peaked over to see all the dogs running wild, then looked at me with a yearning in his eye, and I caved. And after an 18-dog game of fetch, which he was the prime motivator, he came back to me when I called and we walked back to the apartment to smell freshly cooked bacon. I mean, can you beat this morning?

We were so hungry last night. Talking about quitting. Fuck it, let’s just eat Cheerios. Yeah, and I’ll have chips. I was 60% serious. Not sure about her.

Instead, I came through in the clutch with a plate of turkey, sliced apples, and salted avocado. I handed it to her.

“Where’s the cashew butter?” she asked.

“I didn’t put any on there. This is a savory plate. No sweets.”

“No thank you,” she replied.

Sweet tooths change people.

I gave her a scoop of the cashew and she ate that and the apple and I ate her turkey and avocado. I guess we all won.

10:34 a.m.

Mother fuckin’ plantain tortillas !!!

How have we waited this long?

It tastes like a taco.

Alexis baked some and we ate them with bacon, avocado, and mandoline-sliced sweet potatoes and, I’ll tell you what, I’m a born-again.

11:25 a.m.

Off to take some portraits of a cute little baby.

2:27 p.m.

We stopped at Chipotle on our way home from a newborn shoot with one of my all-time favorite humans, Sarah Clark, and her cool husband J.D. Little baby Tenaya June. Anyway, we just wanted to eat something quick and tasty on the way back. Turns out, their food is garbage. All this time I’ve been duped by the chips and guac. Their chicken and lettuce tasted like cardboard and Alexis is already in bed with the tireds.

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4:09 p.m.

The doctor asked me if I was a weightlifter as he looked at my biceps. I flexed and said no. I ordered about 370 tests while I still have health insurance. X-rays on my neck and low back. Allergy test. Physical therapy. He gave me muscle relaxers for shits and giggles. I likely won’t even pick up the script, seeing as though I’m a bit of a sucker for painkillers. Or maybe I will and not tell anyone and just be extremely nice and affectionate for four straight days.

We have discovered Rx Bars. Chocolate Sea Salt. How is this not illegal? It tastes like a Kit Kat. Anyway, I don’t feel good about it. If someone is gonna try to give me shit about the panda bread (I dare you) and then feel fine about eating this chocolate candy bar then I call hypocrisy.

5:58 p.m.

A quick snack of turkey, sweet potatoes, and avocado before dinner. We are having Kairou (Kai – Row) over for dinner and she doesn’t get here til 7:30 which probably means 7:45 and then we’ll talk about life and politics and what everyone has been up to and the two of them will be smiling and engaged but I’ll just be wondering why no one is in the kitchen making dinner because eating is entirely more important than talking. It’ll be 8:30 before we sit down for dinner. Good thing I can eat fourteen more of these chocolate candy bars and not violate any part of the doctrine.

6:34 p.m.

Hoping for two black eyes tomorrow. I picked Alexis up to tackle her on the bed, a regular tradition before Woody, and as soon as I dropped her down he jumped up and smashed his skull right into the bridge of my nose. Felt just like a strong left jab. The sting, the tears, and the rage. Then he came over and licked my eyeballs and laid on my head. So who’s gonna stay mad?

6:51 p.m.

I’ve been really into the word “egregious” lately. I’m not entirely sure what it means but I think it means excessive and in your face.

6:52 p.m.

Okay, so it means outstandingly bad or shocking. Which is more or less what I said. Point is, no one except Vanessa or Joslyn would ever catch me for using it incorrectly. I have that kind of charisma. You just think I know the meaning of the words I speak. I mostly do. But not entirely. Mostly is all that matters.

7:05 p.m.

Well fuck, I deleted all the food pics from today. I cleared the memory card before the photoshoot and didn’t realize that the plantain tortilla mania was on there. It hurts because it was one of the best shots of the month. Alexis is sympathetic and said, “Looks like you don’t even care about the blog anymore.” I told her that kind of comment helps a lot with one’s own upsetness with one’s own self.

It’s question time. A daily ritual between the two of us.

“Would you rather kill a mean person or an innocent puppy?” I ask her. Basically lofting her an easy one.

“The person. Without even hesitating.”

“Okay. Who would you kill, me or Woody?”

“Come on, man! Don’t ask me that.”

“Say it!”

“Woody. I’d have to.”

“Really? Look at his sweet face and tell him that.” I turn to Woody, “She would just take you out like it was nothing.”

“Okay, thanks for that, Kirk.”

She doesn’t often call me Kirk, but when she does, it’s because she is not happy enough to refer to me by one of the many terms of endearment.

I am deeply, deeply upset to have lost the pics from this morning. Like maybe I should just hit my head against the wall for a second and we’ll be even. Me and the mistake that is.

7:11 p.m.

I just made myself stare at a pile of raw chicken for a while. I feel…. what’s the religious term… uhh…. repent! …. I feel like I repented.

7:22 p.m.

Alexis must have heard my cry for an on-time dinner. She is dialed up in the kitchen making moves and letting the nips hang. Bras are not necessarily designed for the house. If you can’t be comfortable at home then where is it even safe anymore?

7:46 p.m.

Kairou has just arrived. Notice the time. Notice the time.

8:05 p.m.

We are in the kitchen talking about politics, life, and what we’ve been up to.

8:26 p.m.

Sitting down to eat dinner now. Mango chicken, cauli rice (surprise!), green beans, and mushrooms.

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I came in late with a salad for dessert. Lots of fruit. Summer salad in the winter.

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9:54 p.m.

Kairou and Alexis are hanging out in the living room talking about an old yoga book. I am debating with myself if I have anything deep inside of me that I can write tonight. More like, can I write something meaningful while conversation is happening rapidly around me. I told Kairou tonight that I would rather sit five feet behind a social group and real-time write about the way they interact with each other than sit within the group and actually socialize. That is who I am. I can’t hear a word without interpreting the 200 words that weren’t spoken behind it. I am far more interested in all of the things we are not saying to each other. Not so much tonight, because we are all close and we are speaking freely, but social environments in general. So I’m slowly learning the art of getting other people to have those conversations without thinking I am actually Jeffrey Dahmer.

I’ll probably just go eat a Whole30 approved chocolate bar now for dessert because Woody is eating Kairou’s sock.

 

Ready Day 27 HERE.