Why I Left Apple Two Years Ago

A couple of nights ago I had a dream about working in Apple Retail again. It was a good time in my life. I enjoyed it, made great friends, and it was the start of my tech career. Yet the dream was horrendous. I was back at the same place I started in 2007, and none of the years between really mattered.

Dreams can help us process things we’re holding on to. They can let us know where our pain is, where we need to let go, and where we need to heal.

The last two days reflecting on the dream, I realized my fear related to it was that I haven’t moved on. I haven’t grown. I haven’t lived and experienced anything of value since my time in Retail.

Then I realized that’s the way the last HR Director at Apple made me feel before I quit. In our last conversation, following months of discussions about concerns I had, he diminished my years of work helping build Apple’s infrastructure and services. He made me feel like I wasn’t part of the culture I helped build. He made me feel like I didn’t belong in a place I had worked hard to be in, growing into with skills, knowledge, and experience. He made me feel like, in his words, I was “back in Retail”, as if it were an insult I was ever there.

I’ve been angry with him, but more angry with myself for letting it happen. It’s easy to say you shouldn’t let yourself be influenced by others, or let the words people say hurt you, especially enough to change your life. Yet, what he said that day hurt, because it touched vulnerabilities I had carried for years despite my incredible career, success, and professional growth.

Then I left.

He didn’t make that decision for me. I did. I could have stayed. I could have escalated. I possibly could have fought and sued. I could have sit down, shut up, and kept cashing the checks. Instead, I quit and went elsewhere, leaving behind the work I had done, the team I had built, and people I enjoyed working with (most of them, anyway).

Being honest with myself about this, and forgiving myself for it, is the hard part that has taken time to reach.

The flip side is I needed personal growth. I needed to explore emotions, art, poetry, spirituality, and creativity. I also needed therapy. I needed to heal from long experienced PTSD. I needed to be diagnosed with ADHD and unpack it. I needed to work in a more positive culture and on a different team. None of this happened the twelve years I was at Apple, and there are few signs it would have if I had stayed.

Finally, I needed to take some intentional time off, which I was able to begin three months ago. That time off is how I got to today, where I can sit, write this, and be honest with myself and you about what happened.

I’m sorry to the team and people I left at Apple unexpectedly, and without any guidance about the problems I had navigated there before leaving. I’m sorry most to myself for not taking the time during my career to explore and address the issues I had, so my personal growth could match my professional life.

As for the HR Director, whether he’s current or former, I have mixed feelings about him. I hope he has never said anything to others like what he said to me, even though leaving Apple has worked out for me. Those at Apple who come from Retail do not deserve to be treated like a different class, or unworthy of being in roles they’ve earned, especially since demographics from Retail also intersect with greater diversity, culture, and economic backgrounds. There’s an issue there, not just with him, and I hope Apple works to address it.

I have more time off ahead. I’m writing a book, along with a few other personal projects. I’m relocating. I’m enjoying art, poetry, people, and places. I’m also figuring out what a return to work will look like. I don’t think it will be like before. It may not even be in tech.

Whatever it is, it will be something I can put my heart, spirit, and mind into, and magical things happen when those are in alignment.

Be Yourself.

Be yourself. Be everything you are. Be open and vulnerable and beautiful and hideous, don’t hide a thing. Don’t conform or change for someone. Don’t try to be anything or anyone other than your own blessed wonderful self for another person or group.

The people who choose to be with you will be the ones who truly care for and love you. They will have no expectations built on their own imaginations of who they think you might be. These people will be your closest friends, partners, and family, and they will bless your life further.

The people who leave or do not wish to know you will do so making the most informed choice. They are honoring and respecting you, knowing they are not right for you. Mourn their loss, when appropriate, but not their absence, for in their absence they are freeing you for greater happiness.

The people who stay but try to change you, or make you conform to expectations other than who you are or who you want to be, are the greatest for concern. These are people with their own false expectations, who neither respect who you are, nor who you want to become. It is the greatest act of love for yourself and them to leave, freeing you for greater happiness, and freeing them to someday find their own.

All cases lead to greater happiness in your life and the lives of others. Getting there can be messy. It means breaking old expectations, setting and negotiating new ones. It requires finding love for yourself and seeking your own happiness and joy independent of others. It doesn’t happen once then never again, it is a continual practice the rest of our lives. Be yourself.

The Invasion of Ukraine

I’m not a geopolitical expert. I’ve never been to Ukraine, and have only met a handful of Ukrainians in my life. I don’t know their lives, their wishes, their dreams. I can only imagine they share many of the same ones I do: to live life in peace, security, and seek happiness with their loved ones and families within their communities.

The last few weeks, watching leaders position and poise, talk and align, and the inevitable political arguments occur here in the US about the escalating tensions, ultimately I see a conflict here that is as entirely unnecessary as the violence occurring now in Ukraine.

There is no good reason for this invasion. There is no valid reason for this violence or conflict. Russia was not in immediate threat. Putin was not in danger aside from the political aspirations of those working under him if he does not appear strong enough, or forceful enough.

This is a conflict of ego, a war of reclaiming lost glory of a former empire. There’s no glory in that. There’s no safety or added security in it.

I sit and think about what should happen, what would I want my government to do? So many times we’ve sent troops, we’ve fought for so many different and unnecessary things. Our generations are tired of being in wars. Yet, I am devastated for the people of Ukraine who are being attacked and dying. I just want it all to stop.

I hope for peace. I don’t know if there is much I can do other than speak my own mind and hope others agree and spread it. Aid, sanctions, and other methods might work to dissuade Putin a little. I worry that eventually it may come down to further violence and killing to stop a small group of power hungry mad men who are risking burning the world for their greed. Then again, we are faced with that every day here.

So whatever you feel about this, the people of Ukraine deserve to be able to live their lives in freedom and peace. That’s what we should focus on, as right now, they’re the ones being hurt. My heart is with them.

Crows Came

Today I watched a man
So angry about littering
He chased a car out of
A parking lot on foot.
Yet he was not
Angry enough
To pick up the litter.

The gulls came first.
White as clouds,
Surrounding fries hungry.
Then their victory lost:
A crow arrived
And staked its claim
Picking up a fry.

I watched it a while.
It called another.
They picked and pecked.
They took what they wanted.
I finally got out
Of my car at last
And picked up the rest.

Why do we get so angry
We will attack others,
But not take action
To address what we’re angry about?
And I can’t help but think
This is Our story
As we let the Earth choke.

Writing emotionally, from the heart…

The last two days I wrote an essay for admittance to the next course in my Druidry training. I’ve been in the prerequisite course for the last two years, and the essay is a recap of that course. It’s experiential, so the essay doesn’t have right or wrong answers.

I’ve never been that great about writing to others authentically, meaning with emotion and personal perspective, about my personal experiences. It’s been a challenge, and no matter in the past how much I’ve poured out on the page, I had not hit that threshold of the deeply personal and intimate. I used to write police reports, and I spent so long trying to articulate the objective and rational, I beat out of myself the ability to write how I feel and how things affect me.

Another problem is I hold back. I worry about judgement and fear exclusion for what I think and feel. I’ve known for a while I can’t do that with creative writing. It’s sabotage. As I’ve gone through this course, as I’ve written poetry and read other writer’s works, I’ve looked for signs of writing which effectively draw out the author as a real human.

With this admissions essay, I think I finally achieved it, if for only one example. My partner Erica, after she read it, said it’s the first piece of writing that feels like me, even saying her reaction was “Yeah, this is him.” Then we talked about what she thought differentiated yesterday’s essay from other writing.

Erica said I usually write fast. I write fast, publish fast, and move on to the next thing. She doesn’t think this gives me adequate time to deeply feel, or realize my feelings enough to effectively articulate them. She said writing an essay that was essentially two years in the making gave me enough time to expand my feelings to writing.

I see it, and agree with it. I also don’t want every effective work of writing I make in the future take a couple of years.

Another friend who hadn’t read the essay asked me about it this morning. She’s taking the same course, and her own essay will be coming up in the next few months. She is worried about how long it needs to be.

I give better advice to others than I do myself. This is some of what I shared with her:

“If there is one piece of advice I might have: don’t hold back. Our advisors have seen many of these, and have been there themselves. I wasn’t sure how mine would respond if I fully opened up to him. Part of it I wondered if he would think I’m crazy.

I kept in mind as I wrote how much I worked for this. How much I learned, grew, and changed. Giving myself a break after finishing, I also thought about how much I wanted to move forward. To honor myself, my work, and my intentions, I put my whole heart into it, 100%. I haven’t done that often in my life. I’ve always held back, pulled punches, and tried to soften blows. I’m intense, and I hit hard. I’ve always been afraid of myself a bit. That fear sometimes holds me back from seeing what I can do.

Yet if you’re standing at the gates of somewhere you’ve worked hard to be ready for; if you feel you’re experienced and ready and put your heart into it; there’s no other way than to give it your all. So when you write your application, speak your truth, give it your heart. Tell them what you did and what it meant. Don’t hold back. The length doesn’t matter. The power you put into it does.”

Today, between those two conversations, I’m reflecting on the advice in front of me.

  1. Honor and take time with your feelings when writing. Don’t just grab the Who, What, When, Where, and How and go. Our feelings give us our Why, and sometimes they don’t make any sense. They don’t have to make any sense to anyone else but us. Yet, when we have the courage to put them out there, they may resonate with others, and that’s what forms meaningful connection with readers. To put feelings out there effectively, you should have a fair understanding of your own, and that takes time and mindful work.
  2. Be open and honest; intimate. Don’t hold back. It’s natural to want acceptance, to fear rejection or judgement. Fear is a great emotion – it warns us of danger, it can help us make better decisions. If I want to write authentically and intimately in a way that can connect emotionally with others, I have to overcome the fear that I will be judged, rejected, or shamed. What are you willing to risk to connect deeply with others? To be understood? To have someone respond to you and say “I feel this too!”? Those are the potential rewards if you can work past the fear.
  3. Remember your motivation and be passionate about it. For this essay, I had a clear goal I wanted to accomplish, to move to the next course. I felt that passion while writing, when making the decisions on what I would say. That motivation influenced how much of my emotion and self I put into it, meaning to say, all of it! The lesson I’m taking with me to the other projects is to remind myself of and cultivate my motivation and passion.
  4. Make yourself your first audience: Write like it’s your journal. Since this was an essay about a course I had taken over the last two years, I had a journal with my thoughts and observations. This journal was just for myself, so the things I wrote in it were my most intimate feelings. Writing the essay, I transcribed a few parts of the journal – a couple of poems, some off-hand writing. Easily, these are the most intimate parts of the essay. We don’t always have the benefit of having two years of intimate writing behind us, but we can turn whatever project we’re working on into our own private journal, at least for a time. However, doing this means you first have to be able to be completely honest and open with yourself, and that is a complete other topic for another time.

I expected to wait up to a month for a response to my essay. Surprisingly, I got a response within a few hours; I’ve been recommended to proceed! I feel like the emotional work I did for this course and essay was key to the response it received.

I still have a lot of work to do in this space, but I feel like I’ve reached a new level. I’m going to continue reflecting on the advice I received and gave. There are points there which can be refined and improved, but for today, it’s real and raw, where I am now, and that’s enough.

Tell Me, Don’t Show Me?

Today I learned something new about myself from watching my son.

We were at the playground, and he wanted to swing. This playground had the flexible seat swings instead of the firm plastic ones. No biggie, I thought. I figured he would get on it himself just fine.

I watch my son. Sometimes he would grab on the chains but not move back into the seat. Sometimes he would move back into the seat but not grab the chains. I tried telling him how to do it, but he’s not there with it.

So I decide to show my son how to get on the swing. I move to the swing next to him, grab the chains, and line up my butt to move back into the seat. I ask him to watch how I do it.

“No” he replied, refusing to even look my way.

“Just take a moment and watch” I plead, getting frustrated by his refusal to do something so simple as to be shown.

“No, Daddy, I don’t want to.” he said firmly.

Why would he refuse to even watch? Why would he refuse help while he stands there and struggles with what he wants to do?

I thought about this as a strange behavior at first. It defied initial reason, so I started to consider it from his perspective.

That’s when I mentally tripped right on myself. I do this behavior. Even if he didn’t learn it from me, it’s definitely something I do as well:

I prefer to be told rather than shown how to do something.

This inverts expectations about teaching and learning for me.

Initially, I thought not wanting to be shown how to do things was about my own ego. Sometimes I feel so capable of understanding what someone is saying clearly, I think I shouldn’t need any other input for understanding. Sometimes if someone starts with showing me how to do something, my ego is hurt because they think me insufficiently capable of understanding them.

Another, more positive and likely perspective, is I am primarily an aural or verbal learner than a visual learner. It makes sense with how I absorb books and audiobooks, yet have a difficult time engaging with video content. I process my thoughts as words, which is great for writing and the spoken word, but less ideal for visual presentation.

Somewhere along the path, probably as I was taught how to instruct to adult learners and had to lean into visual presentations, demonstrations, and a new default of showing, not telling. These are assumptions often made about adult learners who have not been in formal education for some time. It’s also the wrong way to instruct me, and appears now to be the wrong way to instruct my son.

In either case, I am the mistaken one, and I am getting in my own way of effective learning, understanding, and even teaching to some audiences. Rather than get frustrated by people wanting to show me how to do something, I should be communicating my needs on how best to teach me, and be mindful of it when it’s time for me to instruct others.

I’m going to give my son a break and try to do as much as I can by telling him. That’s how he’s preferring to learn right now, and it will probably be better for us to use our most common forms of communication as we learn more about each other together.

Imbolc 2022 – Part Two

Imbolc is the time for observation on the winter in passing, and preparation for the coming spring. With this post, I am sowing the earliest of seeds for the coming season, and stepping into the sunlight with what I hope to grow. This is a message for family, friends, or any interested, to whom I have not yet shared this part of my journey:

Part One is here.

In 2018, a partner introduced me to the book, The Four Agreements. I read it end to end on a cross-country flight. I was skeptical. There are many parts of the book I took issue with or held in disbelief, and I still do. However, the essential philosophy of the book is sound:

  1. Be impeccable with your word.
  2. Don’t take anything personally.
  3. Don’t make assumptions.
  4. Always do your best.

The central idea is a key to greater happiness is living a more honest and authentic life with yourself, then the people around you.

With time, I found I had already been resolving conflicts based on previous expectations of others around me in my life. I had left Christianity, and reset those expectations with my family. I had been through challenges with marriage, and had begun working through those with my wife, albeit not in the best way. I had missed the time in nature from my childhood, and spending more time in places where I felt more connected to the greater world expanded my connection with myself and others.

As I explored these concepts from a spiritual perspective, I began reading about Toltec shamanism and the history of shamanism as a whole. I expanded on meditation techniques I had learned as early as second grade, and explored journey states over the next year.

This culminated in processing a traumatic event from my teenage years related to how I dealt with anger and other emotions. Released from this trauma, I found I had developed tools to aid me in processing trauma and experiencing a broader range of the emotional spectrum.

I also no longer felt spiritually inert. I felt connected to a greater universe, to people, to nature, to the earth, in ways I hadn’t experienced before.

There was also more to do. There were ways I wanted to develop, more trauma to address, and new ways to discover of learning how to experience and live in the world. I’ve always been concerned about climate change, the environment, and our impact on nature. Since my grandmother’s death when I was 5, I’ve thought deeply about death, how we process it, and how people address (or don’t address) the impact of loss.

Yet, various forms of indigenous shamanism weren’t suitable for this, and were in multiple ways problematic for me. This isn’t to reject the notion of it as a valid path for many others, but it didn’t connect with me wholly in the way I needed to develop more useful experiences. There’s also the aspect I am in no way indigenous or connected to most of the traditions I was reading about.

The search for a further framework of spiritual exploration began in the fall of 2019, and didn’t take very long. Decades before, I met a student of Druidry and we discussed his practice. He was introspective, intelligent, and seemed very peaceful on his own path. I respected him and what he was doing, although my own spirituality was vastly different at the time.

I began reading about Druidry, its history and philosophies. I learned about reconstruction and revival Druidry, and explored the different groups practicing today locally and internationally. I researched all I could about it before even talking with anyone, because if there was anything I didn’t like, I wanted to know about it early before I started exploring it further. I found some things I didn’t like. While I found some groups, and uniquely some people, who I didn’t agree with their ideas, I found many aspects of Druidry something I could connect with.

Further, Druidry worked with my own personal heritage. While not a requirement aside from a few more dogmatic groups and individuals, Druidry would allow me to learn more about the history of Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and Britain.

I attended a local Druid ritual in late 2019. I met people practicing Druidry, discussed some current issues and differences among various groups, and learned more about my potential path. In December 2019, I joined the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids, commonly called OBOD, a revival Druidry order based in the United Kingdom.

OBOD is a popular introduction to Druidry for many because of its remote correspondence course, created by prior Chosen Chief Philip Carr-Gomm, on prompting from the order’s founder, Ross Nichols. This course is mailed to students over the course of the initiate’s first year, and guides students through the Bardic Grade, studying, among other things, Druidry history and philosophy, lore, cosmology, poetry, and inspiration.

None of this is like the pop culture version of Druids we have in America, influenced in part by games like Dungeons and Dragons and World of Warcraft. Druidry is a nature-based spiritual path, but depending on your type of practice, it can range from a philosophy focusing on art and creativity with practitioners from many religions including Christianity, to a complete polytheistic religion focused on various pantheons of gods and goddesses. If you wish to read more about it, please check out OBOD’s page on Druid Beliefs.

I began the course in January 2020, initially keeping pace with the weekly structure of the lessons. 2020, however, was a notably difficult year. When the pandemic struck, and later the forest fires here in California, I was both stuck inside and away from the places in nature I had connected to. Like many others, I experienced depression, weight gain, and other symptoms of the trauma we were collectively experiencing. I paused working with the lessons in July 2020, but kept what I had learned with me in meditation and recognizing the Wheel of the Year.

Druidry was not my only means of self-exploration and care through this time. I also sought professional counseling for what I experienced, and was diagnosed with ADHD. This became a process of reviewing my life and unexplained behaviors since childhood, along with the tools I had found on my own to mitigate them. I also helped build an online community of local polyamorous people who supported each other through the pandemic, which still exists and is growing. In person, I was in a bubble with my wife, son, and partner, and it went a long way in strengthening our own connections.

Social justice issues came to the forefront in 2020, and OBOD took a firm supportive stance. I wrote a post for OBOD’s Druids for Justice section titled An American Person of Color in a British Druidic Order.

In April 2021 I was ready to begin again. I reviewed all the lessons I had covered in 2020, and the journal entries I had written. I picked back up, yet took my time, and the lessons unfolded naturally with the progression of the year. I found new places in nature to connect, including small, unexpected ones in urban areas. I don’t think I would have learned how if the places I had access to before had been available.

I finished the Bardic Grade in January 2022, taking two years to complete. It has been a moving, transformative experience, and I feel I have walked further down the path I set out on with this journey.

However, I have done this silently. Aside from my wife, partner, and a few friends, no one outside of Druidry has known about it. I have challenged myself to live openly and transparently, which has come at great cost, but to greater benefit. The next stages of this path mean walking more openly.

Along with writing a book, which is based on some of the Welsh mythology and lore I have studied in Druidry, I have enrolled in a course on End of Life celebrancy. My vision is to help Druid and pagan families to process loss and grief from death, and to serve them and the deceased by hosting funeral services. This comes from my own experiences with death and grief, and I believe I can effectively serve the community in this way.

I am also helping smaller Druid environmental action groups with organizing and communications, like The Order of the Oak. We hope to make a larger impact on creating action to properly address climate change.

The other next step in this path is moving forward to the Ovate Grade, which will begin in the coming months. Along with the other changes I’ve initiated in life, I look forward to the next stages in the journey.

For some, I know this may be a shock. I have lived as a Christian, and lived as an atheist. I will talk about in the future where I stand in beliefs now, but the important thing to know is the essence of who I am, a person wanting to learn, to help others, and to live a good life, has not changed.

With Peace, Harmony, and Balance,


Imbolc 2022 – Part One

I have a long history with religion.

I was Christened in the Methodist church in the late 70s. My baby pictures show the sepia tones of sunlight shining through stained glass windows on my family and little me at a beautiful ceremony.

My grandfather’s brother was a Baptist minister. I remember running around his church with my cousins, singing with the other kids, and starting to read an old Bible handed to me by one of the women of the church.

For a while, my mother was my Sunday School teacher at my grandfather’s Methodist church. It was one of the most consistent bonding moments of that part of my childhood, after my grandmother’s death. I grew to love Bible stories, and was a voracious reader. My young mind craved the concepts of good and evil, right and wrong, and the unconditional love of an omnipotent God.

When I was 11, we started going to a Southern Baptist Church. I was re-baptized by immersion, and through my teenage years was taught the Bible was a literal and direct message from God himself, homosexuality was a sin, along with a list of many others.

In college, I was on the Baptist Student Council. At one point, one of my ideas in response to a campus minister who angered half the campus by calling them names was to stand in the campus square and hand out Valentines from Jesus for Valentines Day. Yeah, if you were at Eastern Kentucky University in Spring 1998, that was me. I was also part of a ministry group, singing and acting at churches in the area.

I considered seminary, and was given the opportunity to speak at a very rural church in Eastern Kentucky. Before going, our campus minister prepared me; King James Version of the Bible only, men and women sit on different sides of the building, and they were likely all white. I spoke passionately, and seemed to be welcome, although I was likely the first black man to have spoken at that pulpit.

After college, I saw the rise of the megachurches and the strengthening of the bond of politics, money, and Christianity through the preaching of prosperity gospel and the war on terrorism. I was a voracious listener of conservative radio, and a frequent viewer of Fox News. I read Hannity, Savage, and O’Reilly, among others. I was surrounded by right wing ideology.

Over time, I lived in different cities, and saw how this affected me and the people I met, many who were on the fringes of the society I thought existed from my rural, small town. I always had confidence in the scientific method. I had found tenuous excuses to allow both conservative Christianity and scientific knowledge to co-exist.

Eventually, the cracks in my worldview began widening. I had never personally been homophobic, but I had seen how homosexuals were talked about and treated by fellow Christians throughout my life. I felt a kinship as a Person of Color, because for every Christian space I was in where LGBTQ+ people weren’t welcome, I knew not ten or twenty years before, I wouldn’t have been.

In 2007, I found myself trying to bridge the relationship of a fellow Christian coworker with several others, and I got to really look at our views from their perspective. Over the next few years, I noticed more of the hate, the anger, and the inconsistency of the modern Christianity I was a part of, and I tired of it.

At first, I thought, I would always hang on to Jesus. I thought even if the rest of the dogma, the conservative media, and the inconsistencies of words to action weren’t a part of my life, Jesus would always be.

A few years later, that thread too was gone, not by sin or denial, just no longer needed. I felt better. I felt free of the anger and mistrust of others and the world. I felt free from the dogma and expectations of a religion which seemed to have grown more out of touch with what I was experiencing.

I began to consider myself an atheist somewhere around 2010. For years I described myself as “spiritually inert”, and I embraced the world of engineering and knowledge around me. I found ethics which fit my already existing beliefs of equality, harmony, and peace through Humanism. I encountered a binary world of 1s and 0s, and made sense of it with what was available to me at the time. I got into a comfort zone, and I didn’t need to consider an intuitive, spiritual, or more complex universe than the material one I could see.

In 2016, I learned I had survived a heart condition which could have killed me at any moment my entire life. I’ve lived through being shocked with paddles in an emergency room. I’ve survived being awake while cardiologists burned extraneous electrical pathways on my heart.

In 2017, my son was born. The first week, I saw every family member I had loved in him. I felt them again, many for the first time in decades.

Processing these experiences I began to feel there was more than I was getting from my life the last few years. I had achieved success, money, and notoriety in my field. I found myself increasingly unhappy.

In 2018, many people already know my wife and I opened our marriage, dating separately, and I started practicing polyamory. About that time, I also became vegetarian, and began spending more time in nature, hiking, camping, and spending weekly time in the woods. These were the external changes.

It’s time to tell the story of what occurred internally and privately the last four years.

Part 2 is now up and here.

Why Do I Keep Getting Back Up?

My confidence comes from learning my greatest ability is the capacity to change. To improve. To learn. To be a better version of me.

I recently read an article with an in comic explanation of why three different heroes keep getting back up – Iron Man, Captain America, and Captain Marvel. The article goes on to analyze why each get back up when knocked down. Iron Man gets back up because he believes in the future. Captain America gets back up because it’s the right thing to do because of his morals. Captain Marvel, though feeling weary of it, gets back up because she’s stubborn.

It made me think about my life, the times I’ve gotten back up, the time I said I only had one last time in me, and even now today, why I keep getting back up. 

I’ve come a long way from where I started out. Some would say I’m fortunate, and I can’t deny there are a lot of things in my life that have looked fortunate from the outside. There is truth and privilege in that. I went through times when I would ask myself why I would be worthy of luck or opportunity while others weren’t. I went through times when I felt misfortune for having persistent health issues, weight management problems, or just being me. The reality is, most of the positive, good things which have happened in my life have happened because I was on my feet and ready for them. I had planted seeds, or been the right person in the right time and place, or I saw something interesting and chased after it. 

I’ve also failed. I’ve felt miserable. I’ve been defeated and broken. So far, thankfully, for each of those times, it wasn’t long before I got back up and into something else. Even now, in the midst of recovery from the initial part of the pandemic, and recovering from leaving my career at Apple, a company I loved, bled, and sacrificed unrelentlessly to for 12 years, I have gotten back up and I’m healing again. This isn’t my worst fall. This wasn’t the one where I said to myself “I got one last one in me”.

This was the one where I’m said “this is part of life, and I may fall again, but this time I’m preparing myself to keep getting back up”. 


I believe in the adventure of life. I believe that everything we experience is an opportunity to grow and become the next version of ourselves. I believe in the power of change and transformation. I believe as we pick up and carry ourselves into the new, we bring along the tools and lessons from the past to help carry on in new ways into the new present. Ultimately, and this is with some measure of self-awareness at the amount of confidence it takes to say this, I believe in myself. I believe in my ability to discover and refine the life I want to live, and each version of me, the people around me, and the life I’m living comes a little bit closer to a more authentic, natural, life for me. 

I think this is nuanced from belief in the future, belief in morality, or stubbornly getting back up in spite of the universe. Granted, spite is a huge motivator for me. I know it well, and of the three, I empathize with Captain Marvel the most. The number of people, especially early on, who would have rather seen me not get back up felt staggering. 

My confidence comes from learning my greatest ability is the capacity to change. To improve. To learn. To be a better version of me. It comes from hope that the path I’m on is the right one, and acceptance that even if it isn’t, I can find it again. As I draw closer to being on the outside who I am inside, it gets easier to find fulfillment and deeper happiness.

I’m in uncharted territory now, and have been for the last several years. I’m separated from my birth family who lives along the east coast. I’m seeking out different things than I have in previous iterations of myself. I’ve had heart surgery to correct the major health issue I had the first half of my life, and while I live in the city, I seek out the natural world I was surrounded by but ignored in childhood. I’m a relatively new father, and learning to balance who I am with fatherhood has its own challenges and worries. I’ve become a leader of a small community. There are so many ways my life has changed the last few years, yet I know more are on the way. 

I keep getting back up because I believe in myself. I believe in my story. I believe I am living an incredible adventure. The only way all of that ends is if I stop, so I’m not going to. I will keep getting up. I will keep finding new ways and new paths to follow. I will keep failing and learning. I will keep being optimistic for the things I can do, people I will meet, and life I may live, because I can keep growing to do amazing, incredible things. 

Why do you keep getting back up?

Virginia Election 2021

Yesterday’s Virginia election results were disheartening, but also show the path to build a consistent foundation of liberal victories lies in building across racial divisions, minority and majority. We need to evolve racial perspectives further toward understanding and harmony.

We have a large number of people we have vilified, who have also vilified us. We can’t expect to win elections unless we give them a better story than what they’re getting from right wing media, or even our own media!

What I’m saying is, and this is going to be the hot take that seems controversial, while at the same time for our democracy, and even for liberal ideas, is necessary – we have to get better at reaching out to white people with our message. Even Trumpers. Even “deplorables”.

The values of liberal ideas, open ethical government, and a social safety net should be made accessible to all because they are beneficial to all. UBI, Universal Healthcare, Public Education, and other programs don’t just benefit minorities, they benefit everyone.

I think that messaging gets lost. I think demanding everyone to fully check and understand their privilege before stepping to the left makes the chasm too wide. We first have to reach out to people where they are, then we can bring them with us. Process, not revelation.

To build a party open to all is to figure out how to stand with those who have been hostile to us. Who have hurt us in some way. We have to protect ourselves, but we also have to heal ourselves, then others. We have to live and model a better way.