In today's episode, Billy and Brian reflect on the amazing insights shared by our Season 5 guests with their best good pal, the always entertaining Matt Hazard!
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Coming up on The Mindful Midlife Crisis.
Billy: Brian, how do you and Lean — Shit, how is it — oh —
Brian: How do we shit?
Billy: No, no, no, not —
Brian: Together. Together, looking each other in the eye.
Billy: Toilets facing each other.
Brian: That’s an SNL sketch.
Billy: I might cut that in into the end.
Welcome to The Mindful Midlife Crisis, a podcast for people navigating the complexities and possibilities of life’s second half. Join your hosts, Billy and Brian, a couple of average dudes who will serve as your armchair life coaches as we share our life experiences, both the good and the bad, in an effort to help us all better understand how we can enjoy and make the most of the life we have left to live in a more meaningful way. Take a deep breath, embrace the present, and journey with us through The Mindful Midlife Crisis.
Billy: Welcome to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. I’m your host, Billy, and, as always, I’m joined by my good friend, Brian on the Bass. Brian, how are you doing over there, man?
Brian: I’m fly, Billy.
Billy: Woo. Are you pretty fly for a white guy?
Brian: That’s a good 90s reference and I’m in a 90s kind of mood.
Billy: Yeah, you should be because your band, Gen X Jukebox, is absolutely crushing it here lately.
Brian: We have been having fun, yes, and we plan on having more fun. Our next show is July 23rd at Excelsior Brewing. We just got done with a show with Hairball which was super fun up at Rockin’ Rogers and we just booked New Year’s Eve with Fabulous Armadillos. Super fun stuff going on.
Billy: Excellent. If you want that information, you can follow Gen X Jukebox on Facebook. You can follow them on Instagram. You can go to www.mindfulmidlifecrisis.com and go to Contact and you can sign up for the newsletter and we will send you the dates for Gen X Jukebox as well because you should get out there and check them out. I’m still in Korea but as soon as I get back to the States next week, I will be checking out Gen X Jukebox. I will be at the Excelsior show, Excelsior Brewing, one of my favorite places to go. So if you are a listener and you want to meet me or if you want to see Brian on the Bass rock out and do his thing, come on out to Excelsior Brewing. It’s a great place. We are recapping season 5. This is about take 17. We have had a lot of technical issues —
Brian: Big technical mountains.
Billy: — in recording this. So, we are going to do a rapid fire recap right here because we have spent a lot of time trying to record this episode with the always entertaining but the technically challenged Matt Hazard.
Brian: Matt Hazard.
Matt: How dare you?
Billy: Oh, it only happens when Matt Hazard is our guest. Oh, my goodness gracious. I love you so much, Matt Hazard. You have no idea how much I love you. And I have to keep telling myself that because, otherwise, I’m going to fly to Arkansas and kill you.
Matt: Hold on, let me explain. Never mind. There is too much. Let me sum up.
Brian: Let’s get to the rapid fire here. Let’s talk episodes. Billy, I got to keep you on track. I’m cracking the whip. We got about six minutes here to go so do this.
Billy: Okay. Matt Hazard, let’s just go right on down the line here.
Brian: Get Organized with Janet Taylor. What were your big takeaways from that episode?
Matt: So, I loved her and your conversation was great. I love talking about the idea of not having a lot of shit in your closet, keeping yourself a little bit more minimalist. That doesn’t really play in my house as much because my wife is a purger. If I haven’t worn it for a year, like when you’re talking about like, “Oh, maybe you should face it the other way in the closet and then you can turn it around,” that doesn’t happen in my house. She’s like, “You haven’t worn that shirt in a year, throw it away. We’re giving that to Goodwill.”
Billy: But then how does that — does that keep things pretty clean around your place? Do you feel clutter free?
Matt: Yeah, I mean, well, this office actually is a little bit cluttery because this is kind of my space in the house and I’m not as tidy as she is. I try to be tidy but I’m not as tidy as she is. But there’s just random little things around my house, like this is my fantasy championship ring from last year, eat it.
Billy: Next. Next episode.
Brian: Billy, next episode.
Billy: But, no, it’s the only place in my house that I’m allowed to keep shit.
Billy: So, let’s bounce here into the second episode then, which was the Anti-Racist Conversations with Jesse Ross. What were your big takeaways from that one?
Matt: Well, the first takeaway was that I’m definitely going to attend some of these talks and I’m uncomfortable in conversations about race with African Americans, with black people. I’ve not had those conversations. Most of the conversations which we’ve revisited a lot of times in our episodes are just the three of us talking about race and our place and our privilege and trying to be active listeners and advocates and allies for people who don’t look or have the same backgrounds as us and that was my big takeaway from that, and that I’m going to attend those. Now, of course, I haven’t but I’ll make the commitment with you. You said that you’re going to come back and do some of those. I’ll do them with you.
Billy: That’s perfect because, being in Korea, I have not been able to attend those as much as I have wanted to so when I get back to the States here next week, my full intention is to revisit those and I will make sure that I send both of you an invitation to those you can sign up for them and then Jesse will send you a link to that.
Matt: Please do, I’d love to see what I’m asked, actually. I would definitely be open to having the conversation.
Billy: They’re really great conversations and I think going back to what we talked to with Jodi Pfarr, a lot of it just comes back to understanding other people’s perspectives that we didn’t grow up with or that we haven’t experienced ourselves. So, like I told Jesse, I don’t necessarily agree with everything but at least I have a different perspective on it and that gives me a little bit of time to process the other side. And not even to say the other side because that makes it sound like there’s one side and then another side, there are so many dimensions and intersectionalities to consider in those kinds of conversations. I’m going to jump down here to emotional intelligence because I think being able to engage in those conversations is a big piece of emotional intelligence. So, what was your takeaway from The Emotional Intelligence Dance Party with DJ Rich Bracken?
Matt: Well, first of all, really cool conversation. Rich Bracken was an entertaining guy, very high energy. What I took away from what he was talking about is the way that I interact with people in my work. I work in IT and soft skills and people skills are not present in that industry, or they’re very, very few and far between do people actually have those skills, so I really love the reaction when someone calls the help desk and they get me and they’re like, “Oh, I’m so glad I got you.” And that’s really a thing that happens a fair amount.
Billy: What emotional intelligence skills do you think you possess that make those callers happy to have talked to you? And I don’t want you to talk about what you think the other people lack, what is it that you think you possess that makes them glad to talk to you? Like I know why like talking to you but why do you think these people who are in a professional setting enjoy talking to you?
Matt: I think just that I’m interested. And also, when people call the help desk, when people call for help with their computer, they’re usually in a position where they feel stupid and I do my best to make sure that people feel like it’s not you, it’s the machine. Even if it is them. A lot of times it is, then they’re like, “Oh, my God, I’m so stupid,” I’m like, “No, no, it happens all the time. It happens to anyone,” those kinds of skills or that kind of reaction really puts people at ease. And so I’d say just having a good personality, being interested in them and making them not feel small.
Brian: When the machines come alive in a couple of years, you’re enemy number one, dude.
Matt: 100 percent.
Brian: Blaming the machines. I wouldn’t do that if I were you right now. Anyway, continue on, Billy, go to the next episode.
Billy: So speaking from a professional perspective then, let’s jump down to the LinkedIn profiles with Jessica Fiesta George because you’re talking about soft skills and those are things that recruiters are looking for and Jessica suggests highlighting more of those along with your experience in that episode. So, what is it that you took away from that episode?
Matt: Yeah, mainly that I don’t touch that stuff enough, like I don’t touch my LinkedIn. I’ve been in my same job for nine years and I love it so I’m not in a position where I feel like I need to update it every day so I don’t, but it’s one of those things kind of like your resume where you should visit it every once in a while just to make sure that it’s updated, to make sure that —
Brian: It looks professional.
Matt: It looks professional and attractive, it’s with the times. My current profile picture today on my LinkedIn profile is me emceeing Brian’s wedding, which I think has got to be 15 years, 14 years ago.
Brian: Yeah, yeah, 14. This will be our 15th wedding anniversary next year, yeah.
Matt: That’s how young I look today, it’s the same.
Billy: So here’s what I’m wondering then, do you have built-in clients through your company?
Matt: Yes. We offer basically a high level service that we work mostly with small medical and they either spend their time dealing with software professionals or they spend their time dealing with hardware professionals on the phone wasting hours of their time and we provide a specialty service where we both provide hardware and knowledge of software and if we don’t have the knowledge, we call the software professionals for them. And so, basically, it’s like you make a ton of money seeing patients doing what you do, let me take this time sucker off of your hands and you pay me a premium amount to get rid of it.
Billy: The reason why I ask that is because I wonder if you have built-in clients through your company if you don’t see a need to connect and use LinkedIn as often. I know, Brian, you use it professionally. I’m using it right now to expand my network so that I can connect with people who may be able to open more opportunities, because, like we’ve talked about here on the show, your network equals your net worth. So, I’m trying to grow my network as much as possible because, at some point, and one thing that I’m really trying to think about is whether or not I actually do want to go into this corporate life or if I want to escape the nine-to-five grind, like what Brian Gallagher talks about. So what was your takeaway from that episode with Brian Gallagher?
Matt: That was really interesting to me because listening to it early, I was like this guy sounds like he made a shitload of money and then is in this kind of really privileged position to be able to find another way to make money and take his time doing it. That was my initial reaction, and then you go through the episode and he’s like, “Alright, all that really matters, it doesn’t matter how much you’ve made, it doesn’t matter what position you’re in, all that matters is that you have a really solid plan of how you’re going to bridge that gap from one place to another,” and if you hate the current corporate life that you’re living, and he definitely did from the sounds of it, and you did too, like from — I mean, it’s not corporate but I feel like you’ve had a lot of struggles, that’s the reason you took your sabbatical, right? So, bridging that gap is just a matter of doing the math and making those connections but it has to be what you want and that’s what I took away from that episode.
Billy: The big thing that he stressed with me when we did our one-on-one call after that episode is that you need to get clear, like that was his big thing is like you’re all over the place and you need to get clear —
Billy: — and people who have listened to a handful of episodes know that, yes, I am all over the place. This season was all over the place because we recorded it at different times, in different places, while I was in different states of mind, and we’ll talk about that in more detail in the Summer Sessions but trying to get clear on what it was that I wanted was really, really valuable information and I feel like that pertains to when we get to relationships, like when we talked to Christine Chang, she stresses clarity but then our midlife marriage episode with Deanna Bryant, she talks about getting a better grasp on how you grew up, and then, with Val Jones, just having a better relationship with yourself. So, since those are kind of the relationship episodes, what were your big takeaways from those three episodes?
Matt: Yeah, so the first thing with Christine Chang, she does not fuck around, like that —
Billy: Not at all.
Matt: Not at all, so I went away from that episode and I was like I have to see who this person is so I actually went out and visited some of those YouTube videos that you spoke about in the episode and watched her and super cool, highly recommend, very direct delivery of a message and if it’s what you need in that moment, that’s a great resource. So I very much enjoyed that episode. The midlife marriage episode with Deanna Bryant really spoke to me because that’s kind of the phase of my relationship that I feel like we’re arriving at. Brief anecdote, I’m a people pleaser. If I value you and if I value your impact on my life, I’m going to say yes to almost everything. So, there was a thing — everyone has pet peeves but there was a thing that was happening in my house since we moved to Arkansas. We’ve been here three years. And there’s two shelves in our shower. My shelf is the bottom shelf because my bottles are shorter than her bottles and the bottom shelf is the shorter shelf and my soap dish is on the bottom shelf of the shower and it is on the opposite side from the showerhead and I was noticing that when my wife would take a shower, my soap dish would be filled with water and the soap would get soft on the bottom and it would disintegrate and it was just really wasteful. It was just very wasteful of my soap bars. And she uses body washes so she’s not using the soap. It’s this incredibly trivial thing, it’s a small thing, but for three years, Billy, I wouldn’t bring it up because I didn’t want to have a confrontation about that, which is just a stupid thing, right? Like it’s a dumb thing. So, recently, I said something about it. I actually mentioned it to her.
Brian: Were you like, “You fucking on my soap?”
Matt: Hey, you fucking on my soap. No, I was like, “Hey —” no, and I didn’t even like this, I was like, “Honey, seriously it’s no big deal at all but it just kinda — like it bugs me a little.”
Billy: In the most Minnesota way possible.
Matt: Yeah, unbelievable. And we had the conversation, she was like, “Oh, yeah, this is like no big deal, whatever, I can just tip the showerhead down a little bit more,” and a week later, she was like, “That was like a really big thing for you, wasn’t it?” And I was like, “Yes, I never would have brought that up.” Like that’s just the level of comfort and conversation that we have in our relationship, I felt like it was okay to say something.
Billy: I’m glad that you progressed to having conversations about your soap.
Matt: But, seriously, if I’m passionate about something, I will definitely — that’s where we would have disagreements but if it’s something that was like unimportant and it just bothered me, I would just eat it. I’d just eat that and like let it sit in me, like why didn’t you — she’s sharp, why doesn’t she just fucking lower the thing? And I wouldn’t say anything.
Billy: So then how does that relate to maybe what you took away from the selfish woman episode?
Matt: Yeah, that’s actually — you know what? Great. That’s a great point. Being selfish in the way that she talked about — redefining selfish, that’s what I really liked about that episode, where she was like being selfish isn’t myself before others, it’s being self-centric. I think you — what were the three terms that you used?
Billy: So, I used self-absorbed, self-centered, and selfish.
Matt: Right, and I think her version of selfish is more toward self-centered. You’re not unaware of other people’s opinion of you or what you’re doing to them, you just are like, “Hey, it’s okay to put myself first every once in a while,” right?
Billy: I flip it and I say, “That’s your centered self.”
Matt: Oh, yeah. Yeah, I like that. That was a good episode. I hadn’t thought of things in those terms. My wife’s a great communicator and there’s a lot of credit to her for our relationship being the way that it is and that we’re able to communicate the way that we do because —
Brian: Except about soap.
Matt: No, no, no. Well, Brian, the thing is, she didn’t know about the soap. If there’s a problem she knows about, we’re going to talk.
Brian: Yeah, got it.
Billy: I asked you this before our technology went to hell and I do think this is valuable for both of you to kind of talk about because, for me, not married, no kids, I can’t speak to this, kind of going back to what Deanna Bryant talks about in the midlife marriage, how do you guys make sure that you’re on the same page when it comes to your kids? How do you make sure that you don’t let the kids consume all of your time and all of your energy so that you still have something to give your partner?
Matt: Well, the short answer for the second part of that question is they do. They do — I mean, they eat, and especially during COVID, like we’ve had fewer dates but, now, it’s almost like we’re getting into, I don’t want to say a rut but we’re getting into a thing where it’s like we’re doing a lot of the same things every week and we’re not going out for dates as much. Every Friday we go out for lunch but it’s like a working lunch, like we go out to eat both working from home still. So, that’s like kind of our weekly date where we actually get to touch base and look at each other in the face for a while and that’s the only like date thing that we’ve been doing that much lately. We don’t get out for dinner very much, which I’d love to do more. But in terms of kids and rearing kids, we talked about just being teammates and I said when you asked me the first time before the technical issues, not just teammates, we’re a tag team against these kids, as it were. And if one of us is getting too hot —
Brian: There it is, brother.
Billy: I was thinking more Road Warriors, Hawk and Animal.
Matt: Yeah, Hawk and Animal, there you go. Yeah. No, but it’s one of those things where it’s like if one of us is getting too hot, if one of us is getting right on that razor’s edge where we’re about to snap at one of our kids, it’s the other one’s responsibility to say, “Okay, I feel you right on the edge, tag me in, I’m the cooler head right in the moment.”
Brian: Most definitely. We do that too, man. You mentioned the big word, “team.” Being a good team is super important.
Billy: So, Brian, how do you and Lean not let three boys consume your time or do they consume your time and then you just build in a connection within that? Because you guys actually do a lot of stuff together.
Brian: Oh, yeah, you work with what you’re given, man. I mean, that’s all you can do. You obviously have to put raising children first because that’s what’s most important but you make time for everything else whenever you can.
Billy: All right, so we just have a few more episodes here to discuss. So, we kind of bunched together three really emotional episodes and I did that intentionally because I had our relationship episodes bunched together and then I wanted to transition that with the emotional intelligence one because I knew people were going to need to brace themselves for the conversations we had with Danny Bader, Kari Schwear, and Bryan Piatt. Those were heavy episodes right there. So what were your big takeaways from those three episodes?
Matt: So, the Back to Life episode is probably the most impactful episode for me on the season.
Brian: That was pretty crazy. That was a good episode.
Matt: So super heavy. And there were touch points were like thinking about somebody having survival guilt to the point where they think about taking their own life, it’s like holy shit, like just other level guilt I can’t fathom. The whole time I was just listening, I was like, “Oh, my God,” but he’s got these incredibly beautiful perspectives. A quote that I’ll probably take away from that and use for the rest of my life is when he said happiness is the perspiration of joy. What a beautiful perspective on happiness. Like happiness isn’t a state of mind, happiness isn’t — it’s active finding joy in your life and then other people perceive that as happiness.
Billy: Yeah, that was a sentiment that I took away as well. And we continued on after the episode and had a conversation a little bit more about just like my own struggles with spirituality and he said something to the effect of rather than saying that you’re not a really religious person, maybe just embrace that idea that you’re exploring still and that really resonated with me, because the whole past 10 months I’ve been exploring myself and it felt like — it opened up the idea that it was still worthwhile seeking some sort of spirituality or some sense of connection to a higher being, whatever that might be, and whether that is just the universe or what have you. I think what’s beautiful about Danny is he gives you permission to just say it’s good enough to be connected to the universe, you don’t have to be connected to God in the way that he has to be connected to it, and that permission, I think, is why I feel so connected to his message. And he’s just a beautiful human being and part of gaining that clarity that we talked about before on, I guess, I don’t like calling this leave a spiritual journey, I don’t think it’s that.
Brian: Did you take any peyote?
Billy: I have not taken any peyote yet.
Brian: Not a spiritual journey. Continue on.
Billy: Nope. No ayahuasca. What I did do was take substances out of my body and we did that interview with Kari Schwear on February 1st and I went to Puerto Vallarta a week after that and didn’t drink. And I didn’t drink February, March, April, May, and finally had something to drink here in June but I’ve been doing that the last eight years when I would do my sober school year so this isn’t any different now and I feel like taking that time to just clear my body and clear my mind of the drink was really beneficial to me because, man, back in January and February and even March, I was not in a good place mentally. I was really, really struggling with things and I just think about how valuable having that sober mind is for me, specifically me, and, Brian, I know you go through that too and I know, Matt, you’re drinking whiskey right now or bourbon right now.
Matt: Bourbon’s whiskey.
Billy: Yeah. I connected with that episode and I connected with her story and it really resonated with me and it was an emotional one for both Brian and me.
Brian: So first of all, with regard to Danny Bader, if more Christians spoke the way that Danny speaks, Christianity would be a lot more popular. It wouldn’t be losing popularity, it would be gaining popularity.
Billy: I saw something the other day that I thought was poignant. It said if people hate you because of your belief in Jesus, that’s to be expected, but if people hate Jesus because of you, that’s a problem.
Billy: And I think that’s oftentimes what turns me off from organized religions.
Matt: Yeah, yeah. The Question the Drink with Kari Schwear, so I think we spoke about it a little bit offline that I don’t give a shit about Porsches and I drive a minivan, it’s the best car I’ve ever driven and I have no interest — I once drove a Porsche, I think it was a 959, so not one of the sexy, not a 911 or a Carrera or anything like that, and I can drive a stick. I have zero interest in those cars. None. I don’t like sports cars in general so the beginning of that episode, I was like, I’m about ready to check out of this motherfucker, but then she started talking about addiction, drinking, gray area drinking, which is definitely where I live. I do not drink just socially. I’m long since my binge drinking days but I drink certainly five or six nights a week. I drink probably one or two drinks a night. It’s been years since I’ve been sloppy drunk so I think of myself very much in that lane of that gray area drinker but then I got to hear her say she smoked for 37 years or whatever it was and I smoked for 7 years and I gave that up so easily and we had a friend that went through a drinking issue where they could not drink for a month, and it was related to their driving, and we decided to go sober for 40 days, I think it was, and I also had no problem with that, really. So I don’t think of myself as an addict, in that sense, but I guess I’m as addicted to alcohol as I am to caffeine. I’d really rather have it every day.
Billy: Do you feel like it gets in the way of anything? Do you feel like it hinders you in any way shape or form?
Matt: I sleep like a baby. In my home life, I don’t drink when my kids are awake, generally. I don’t drink during the day. After we get the kids to bed, I’ll have one or two before I go to bed.
Brian: You’re missing out on a lot of fun, fella. That day drinking.
Matt: Oh, the day drinking. Oh, the day drinking.
Brian: I’m just kidding.
Matt: Oh, do I — oh, Brian, do I miss the day drinking. No, I gave up day drinking when my kids were born, but I did a lot of it when they weren’t.
Billy: Well, as long as you weren’t self-medicating, that’s a good thing, and I guess kind of transitioning, this is a different kind of medication but when we talked to Bryan Piatt about how he uses meditation and medication, I thought it gave good pause to what Brian and I have talked about in the past about the ills of medication and a big piece of it just comes from our own personal experiences but then, for me working in education feeling like too many kids are overly medicated and they go to medication before doing something like mindfulness or going to something like emotional intelligence skills, that sort of thing, like maybe we could teach those rather than just force feed a pill. So I guess I wanted to be clear on where that comes from for me, and I thought Bryan Piatt did an excellent job of explaining how his healthy use of meditation and medication has helped him manage some of his mental health issues that he’s very, very open about.
Matt: No, I don’t know how much you would want me to share it but — so I’m not medicated in any professional sense, although I got to go to a doctor and talk about like either make up something about anxiety or talk about my legitimate like every day back pain and try and get one of those marijuana cards because I could — just the gummies. I just want a little something. But it is medically legal in Arkansas now so that’s something that I’ll probably look into down the line, but I can tell you, my wife was medicated for some anxiety issues and things of that nature and she went off of that medication when she left her previous relationship then subsequently when we were looking at having children because she needed to be off of it during her pregnancy. She was off of it for a number of years and, last year or a year and a half ago, she was starting to feel like she was taking things away from work, like stress away from work and taking it out on me, taking it out on the kids, just feeling like she had a short fuse and she decided to go back on the medication and she tried things like meditation, she tried things like exercise, she had all the stuff that you’re supposed to do to try and manage those and medication helped her and it is helping her. So, listening to that episode, I was like, “Yes, it is right and it is helpful for certain people in certain situations.” And I do have aversions to it as well, like I’ve never been sedated, I’ve never been put under for surgery or anything like that so I have some anxiety about that and I have anxiety about drugs that I’m not managing being put into my body, but clearly it has its place and clearly it’s very valuable for some people and with the crisis that we have in this country around mental health, some medication is clearly needed in some situations.
Billy: Well said, Matt Hazard. Once again, thank you so much for being here. Thank you for sticking around. And, Brian, thank you for sticking around through our multitude of technical issues. I’m glad we finally got this thing recorded. And hopefully you enjoy this episode. Brian and I are going to be doing some Summer Session episodes where I talk about my travels so if you don’t care about the mental health and the emotional intelligence stuff and you just want to hear about my travels, that’s what July and August are going to be about so tune into those, I’m going to talk about my travels to the Pacific Northwest, Puerto Vallarta, and all over Korea. I’ll talk about some of the things that I’ve learned about myself. I’ll talk about some of the wonderful people that I have met as well. If you listen to this episode, be sure to like, subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. Follow us on Instagram at @mindful_midlife_crisis. We’re also on Facebook, you can look us up at Mindful Midlife Crisis Podcast. Go to our website www.mindfulmidlifecrisis.com and sign up for our newsletter. We send out information about Gen X Jukebox, which is Brian on the Bass’s band. We also send out meditations every Sunday when I remember to write a newsletter, which I’ve forgotten about the last couple of weeks but —
Brian: It’s okay, you’re soaking up Seoul right now, dude. That’s what you’re doing.
Billy: Thank you, I appreciate having that permission. So, with that, we are putting a conclusion to Season 5. Once again, thank you, Matt Hazard, you beautiful human being. I miss your face. I love you —
Matt: Love you, buddy.
Billy: — very much. Brian, I cannot wait to see you when I am back in Minnesota here coming up pretty soon.
Brian: We’re going to have some fun.
Billy: We are going to have some fun. I am very much looking forward to seeing Gen X Jukebox in person. I’m looking forward to seeing you in person, giving you a hug. Looking forward to seeing all my friends back in Minnesota soon. So, for Matt, for Brian, this is Billy, thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. May you feel happy, healthy, and loved. Take care, friends.
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