The Mindful Midlife Crisis

Episode 3–The Only Way Out Is Through: Billy Overcomes His Demons through Mindfulness

February 17, 2021 Billy & Brian Season 1
The Mindful Midlife Crisis
Episode 3–The Only Way Out Is Through: Billy Overcomes His Demons through Mindfulness
Show Notes Transcript

In today's episode, Billy talks about his struggle with anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation and how mindfulness helped him deal with those feelings in a much healthier way.  Oh, and Brian bought a school bus!!!

Thank you for listening to the Mindful Midlife Crisis!
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Topics you want us to cover?
Email:  mindfulmidlifecrisis@gmail.com
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We hope you enjoy this week’s episode!  If this episode resonates with you, please share it with your friends and family.  If you’re really feeling gracious, you can make a donation to
https://www.buymeacoffee.com/MMCpodcast. Your donations will be used to cover all of our production costs.

If we have money left over after covering our fees, we will make a donation to the
Livin Foundation, which is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote a positive outlook on life, reduce the stigma associated with depression/mental illness, and ultimately prevent suicide through various activities, events, & outreach.

This episode uses the following resources:
--
Anderson, Marc & M2 Foundation. Available at: http://m2foundation.org/
--Bernabei, Paul, Cody, Tom. and Cole, Michael, 2004. Top 20 Teens: Discovering The Best-Kept Thinking, Learning, & Communicating Secrets Of Successful Teenagers. St. Paul, MN: Top 20 Training.
--Campbell, Jeff. “Teacher Burnout Statistics 2020 - Definition, Causes & Solutions.” Middle Class Dad, 11 Nov. 2020, newmiddleclassdad.com/teacher-burnout-statistics.
--Mindful Schools. Available at: https://www.mindfulschools.org/
--Rudell Beach, Sarah. Available at: https://www.brilliantmindfulness.com/ & https://www.leftbrainbuddha.com
--Williams, M. and Penman, D., 2011. Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan For Finding Peace In A Frantic World. New York: Rodale.




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Coming up on The Mindful Midlife Crisis...

Billy: One thing that I've done since a very young age, I — even still to this day — have a tendency to romanticize death and suicide even though I greatly fear death, and I greatly fear suicide. A part of me thinks it's the literature teacher in me. I enjoy a story with a range of emotions. Even though I am just terrified of the thought of a world in which I do not exist, I have significant FOMO. If I think about the past when I didn't exist, or I think about a future in which I do not exist, I have severe anxiety attacks.

(intro)

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.

(interview)

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 today?

Brian: I am fantastic. Thank you.

Billy: Excellent. Brian, we are excited because we finally are starting to piece this whole podcasting together. I noticed though that my mic levels are a little off from time to time. So, at this point, you're having me pretty much make out with the microphone.

Brian: That's called technique, microphone technique. Broadcast professionals need good microphone technique.

Billy: I'm going to follow your lead since this is your area of expertise, and I am just the pretty face that goes along with this. So, thank you for coaching me along the way. I really appreciate that.

Brian: See, I have a face for radio. It's made for it. So, I'm right where I should be.

Billy: Brian, you have two very big updates for us that we need to talk about. First, I want you to give us an update on science.

Brian: Science. Yeah, there was an interesting article I read this week that said our universe could possibly look like a black hole, what a black hole looks like to us if you were looking at our universe from the outside. Basically, the implications are, all black holes could be tiny universes or big ones for that matter. It's pretty mind blowing. It was an article just this week that was released.

Billy: How do they prove this?

Brian: Oh, you don't. It's all theoretical. But eventually, it leads to experiment. See, what you do in physics, because the energies we're talking about right now, it takes things like the Large Hadron Collider and stuff like that, or the LIGO experiment. They need really, really big detectors because we're working in such small energies.

So, you develop a theory. You figure out how to test that theory, and at what energies you need to test it at. Then you build the big colliders. That's how it starts. Much like the Higgs boson. I don't know if you heard about that — the discovery of the Higgs. That was a few years ago. But that was only possible because they built the Large Hadron Collider, the LHC.

Billy: How many hours do you believe that these scientists then spend playing Dungeons and Dragons?

Brian: Many. I can almost picture the bouquet in the room. It just smells like nerdom, like unwashed pants.

Billy: Unwashed pants and virginity.

Brian: Yeah, that’s alright.

Billy: My apologies to all scientists out there. Because one, it is sad in this day and age that science is not valued and appreciated like it should be. I feel like there's so much misinformation out there. Scientists are working hard, really, to further society, and there are forces that stand in its way.

Scientists, whatever you're doing, here's the thing, scientists are probably the biggest studs and the baddest sass of women that are out there. Because they are making advances to society that make my life and your life better.

Brian: Only the stupid worship tattoo phasers instead of the science. You know what I mean? If your idols have tattoos on their faces, and you don't like scientists, you're stupid. I'm sorry. I'm just going to say it. You’re dumb.

Billy: Here's the thing, though. One person, I hope, isn't listening to our podcast. It's Mike Tyson. Because he looks really good.

Brian: Hey, I didn't disparage Mike Tyson. I think Mike Tyson is great. I think having tattoos on your face is fine. But if you admire somebody with tattoos on their face, you might want to reassess your priorities. Although, I do admire Mike Tyson, but not as much as a scientist.

Billy: Unless that scientist has a tattoo on his or her face.

Brian: Well, that would be a conundrum. Find me one. Find me one.

Billy: If you're a scientist out there who has a tattoo on your face, we would like to speak with you.

Brian: Yeah, I want to know if that person exists. Because I have not seen that, I don't think.

Billy: And I would like whoever you are to bring your latest theory that you're working on, and discuss it with Brian. I will not say a word. Because I got on my ACT, I got a 26 on the science part. All guesses. It could have been in Chinese, because I spelled abracadabra all the way down. I have no idea what it was. I will sit back, and I will listen and try and learn and keep up, which it will be next to impossible for me. But I think it'd be fascinating.

All face-tattooed scientists out there, please contact us at mindfulmidlifecrisis@gmail.com or follow us @mindful_midlife_crisis. If you're not a tattooed-scientist, you are welcome to follow us and contact us, as well. All hate mail generally goes to Brian.

Brian: My inbox, yeah. It's straight in there. It's fine. I enjoy that.

Billy: You also have another update. You alluded to this in the first episode. Some people were like, "What's he talking about?" So, Brian bought a bus.

Brian: A school bus.

Billy: A school bus. You bought a school bus. I would like you to share the story of how you bought the school bus. It has actually really come a long way. It looks amazing, people. It looks amazing. I know Kathleen is posting stuff. You guys have your own Instagram. So, I'll let you talk about that.

Brian: The Instagram is called WeJustBoughABus.

Billy: All one word?

Brian: All one word. WeJustBoughABus. www.instagram.com/wejustboughtabus. How this came about? It was a Sunday evening, about eight o'clock. We had just put the kids to bed, my wife and I. When you have three children, especially three young children, you just don't want to do anything. After they go to bed, you're like, "Finally, I'm out."

I'm sitting there surfing on my phone, and I get emails from this auction service consistently. I said what the heck. I'm just surfing around. I looked at the auction service. There's buses, and there was a lot of them. At this particular auction, they were auctioned off like 20 of them. The price on the bus was $500. It was a good bus. It was running. I looked at it. New tires, always been maintained, in good shape. Alright. Well, everything looks good at $500. What the heck? I'll throw a little money at it.

So, I placed a $1,500 bid. I didn't tell my wife I was doing this. Because I figured there's no way I'm going to win this thing. There's no way. I'm like, "$500? It's going to go for much, much more than that." I won it for $1,200, actually. That was a good price on the bus. Because I looked it up in the equivalent, they are typically going for around anywhere between $5,000 and $8,000.

Billy: What?

Brian: Yeah, just the bus itself. I could have turned around, walked away. That probably would have been the smart thing to do. But I didn't do that, because I'm not smart. So, I win the auction. There was only a few minutes left in the auction when I placed my bid. It was like 10 minutes or something. I win it. Now I have to tell my wife that we bought a bus. She was sitting right next to me. Rather than tell her and try to explain this, I texted her. I said, "We just bought a bus."

Billy: Wait. You're sitting right next to her?

Brian: Yeah.

Billy: Like, you're on one cushion. She's on the next cushion?

Brian: No, she was within 20 feet of me though. Yeah, she was right downstairs with me. I said we just bought a bus. Then she comes over. She's like, "What did you text me? Did we really buy a bus?" I said, "Yeah, we bought a bus. Her face — I'll never forget her face. At first, her brows furrowed a little bit like, "What the hell?" I'm like, "Oh God, I'm in for it."

Because typically, my wife is great. We discuss things like purchasing vehicles. Her brow furrowed for a moment. Then it was almost like the light bulb went off. Her eyes got big. She's like, "We're going to redo this bus." I was like, "What do you mean we're going to redo this bus?" She said, "We're going to turn it into an RV. It's called a Skoolie." Apparently, there is an entire community of people that do this, that live on their buses. So, there's tons of resources about how to convert these things and what people use and how they do it. There's a step-by-step on this thing called the internet. I don't know if you've seen it. It's pretty big.

Billy: The Internet?

Brian: The internet, yeah. So, I look out on this internet, and it tells me how to do stuff. She designed the whole thing. It's actually coming together quite nicely. We've been doing this now for three months. Just this week, we got stuff like the sink in and the toilet and the refrigerator.

Billy: There are legitimate blueprints, because I saw it.

Brian: She did them, yeah.

Billy: Two months ago, when this was just getting going, you had the whole thing cleared out. You had the bunk beds in, I remember.

Brian: Yeah.

Billy: You had the bunk beds in the back. But then, she showed me the blueprints. I was like, "Oh, this is—" It was really something.

Brian: She did a wonderful job. She designed everything. She laid everything out. She picked out the fixtures, what we're going to use. She consulted me a little bit as far as the logistics of stuff. Because I know how to build stuff, and she knows how to make it look nice. If it were me, it would have been a couple of lawn chairs that are just bolted down with conduit straps. That wasn't going to work for her. We have a shiplap in there, in the bus. That should give you an indication. I didn't even know what the hell shiplap was.

Billy: I still don't know what shiplap is.

Brian: It's a type of wall covering that's very fancy. It looks upscale, a new englandy.

Billy: Okay. So, I'm just going to show how ignorant I am. Is it like a wallpaper?

Brian: No, it's boards. It's all wood that you place on the wall. This wood, it's got like — once you get it all up, it just looks like wood on the walls but with these nice symmetrical slots going horizontally.

Billy: If there are construction workers or home interior designers out there, and they just heard me ask if it was like wallpaper.

Brian: Okay. Here's another one that I got for you, buddy. Do you know what wainscot is?

Billy: Wayne's coat?

Brian: No, wainscot. W-A-I-N-S-C-O-T. Wainscot.

Billy: I feel like I've heard this before.

Brian: It is a covering of the wall that only goes up four feet, wainscot. So, we have a wainscot. We have a butcher block countertop. We have a shiplap. All the three things would never have happened without my wife. So, there we are. There's the bus update. We're putting the TV in this weekend. We've got the mattresses now. So, I think the only big thing we have to buy now and install is the mattress in the back.

Billy: What I really appreciated is that you made four bunks, and you only have three children. I accept.

Brian: You are in. It's your bunk there. We'll even put your name on it.

Billy: That would be great.

Brian: And you get a USB fan, too, just like them. Because each of the bunks now has a light and a USB fan, and a shelf. This is swanky, man.

Billy: It is because I have been following the Instagram progress.

Brian: Oh, we're behind on that. We're behind by like a month. So, we've got so much more than that. We could walk out after we record this, and I could show you what we've done since then. It's almost done.

Billy: When's the first trip?

Brian: We don't know yet, but we're thinking spring break probably. So, March.

Billy: Do you have a location in mind?

Brian: Maybe South Dakota. We're going to go someplace close in case something doesn't work. We then have a lifeline. I don't know. This is a new adventure man. We don't know if it runs long. It seems to start and run fine. But you know how these things go. You get out on the road 300 miles. Boom, something breaks. It costs a lot of money. So, we'll see what happens. We wanted to stick close and just see what happens.

Billy: For those of you who are interested in a Mindful Midlife Crisis American Tour — and we'll also go to Canada.

Brian: Oh, yeah, we can use this bus for the tour.

Billy: And Mexico.

Brian: Mexico, for sure.

Billy: All of North America. If you're a fan of the show, and you would like us to broadcast in your hometown, big or small, actually—

Brian: From outside your house.

Billy: —we'll do it. Just you bring the friends and maybe grill up the food. You can cook on there, right?

Brian: Oh, yeah. We've got a griddle, a cooktop, and an instapot and one of those air fryers. So, we've got all the modern conveniences. No microwave.

Billy: No microwave.

Brian: Well, grill, cooktop, probably a Dutch oven stuff like that, camping cooking stuff.

Billy: So, if our fans provide the food, we'll cook it on the bus. Then we will do an episode from the bus.

Brian: From the bus, with you as the special guest if you win our contest that we'll have eventually.

Billy: This bus idea has single handedly revolutionized this podcast.

Brian: It really has. I mean, it's getting big.

Billy: Last week, Brian and I talked about a five-year study by the Samaritans, a group of UK researchers who took a look at why men, in their middle years and of low socio-economic status, are so prone to suicide. So, this week, I am going to bare my soul to you. I'm going to talk about what caused that anxiety and what caused that depression, what caused those suicidal ideations in my own head. Then we'll take a break. Then when we come back from break, we'll talk about how I continue to work to get out of my own head.

Alright. So, let me explain my neurosis in a nutshell. One thing that I've done since a very young age — probably around teenage age — I, even still to this day, have a tendency to romanticize death and suicide even though I greatly fear death, and I greatly fear suicide. A part of me thinks it's the literature teacher in me. I enjoy a story with a range of emotions. Even though I am just terrified of the thought of a world in which I do not exist, I have significant FOMO. If I think about the past when I didn't exist or I think about a future in which I do not exist, I have severe anxiety attacks, to the point where I will just shoot up in my seat and start screaming. It's such an irrational thought to think that and to react that way, but that's really just how my brain works.

I'm somebody who has always preferred a tragic ending. I remember in college, I took a class called naturalism and realism. If you've ever read literature from the naturalist and realist era, people die. Either that, or something terrible happens to them. I don't know why. Because for the most part, I'm a pretty upbeat dude. I guess I'm just drawn to those stories because I like the emotion of them.

Brian: Like when Johnny Tremaine's hand got burned.

Billy: Who's Johnny Tremaine?

Brian: Johnny Tremaine is from the book Johnny Tremaine. You never read that one?

Billy: No, I never read that one. I did read Two Friends, which is a story by Guy de Maupassant. The end of that story is — it's perfect but it's sad. It couldn't have ended more poetically, but it's so sad. For me, the most beautiful piece of literature that exists in the English language is chapter five Of Mice and Men. If you haven't read Of Mice and Men, did you go to high school? But in chapter five, that is the chapter in which Lennie snaps Curley's wife's neck, and George realizes that the dream is over. That's my favorite piece of literature in the English language.

Brian: John Steinbeck has a way of doing that, though. The Pearl is the same way. It just rips your heart out.

Billy: Yeah, and that's what I like. That's what I like in a story. I want my heart to be ripped out. I love Romeo and Juliet. They tell you in the first 14 lines what's going to happen.

Brian: Alright then, what did you think the '90s remake with Leonardo DiCaprio and, what's her name, the other?

Billy: Claire Danes. I'll tell you exactly what I thought of it. It was over the top, yes. But the fact that she wakes up and then sees it, I remember the first time. I was like, "What?" That added such even more tragedy to that already tragic play. I loved that little twist. That added quite a bit to that movie, to the point where I actually think I prefer that one to the Zeffirelli version.

Brian: Wow.

Billy: Yeah, it is. I thought they did a nice job with it. That made me sacrilegious to all my fellow English teachers out there.

Brian: It's your opinion.

Billy: Yeah, I like it. Just to get the English teachers back on my side, of course, I love Edgar Allan Poe, Annabel Lee. The Raven, that's a great poem and all that. But Annabel Lee is the one. That poem speaks to me because it's about a love lost. Songs like Pearl Jam's Black is about love lost. Songs like Immortality by Pearl Jam, I'm drawn towards that because it's Eddie Vedder coming to grips with the suicide of Kurt Cobain. Maybe that's the era in which we grew up where our heroes died at a very young age.

I'm drawn to tragic irony and twist of fate. The poem Incident in a Rose Garden, that one is so fascinating to me because death comes to visit. The master comes to greet death. He gets mad at death because he thinks that death has scared away his gardener. He said, "Well, no, I was just wondering if his master was around. Is that you?" I was like, "Oh, shit. Death has come for this guy." There's that twist of fate, that I really am just drawn to. Because, for me, I want to feel and release emotions.

I always think about Jimmy Valvano's speech about, there are three things you should do every day. You should laugh, you should have been moved to tears, and you should spend some time in thought. I'll tell you that almost daily, I do all three of those three things. That's just how I am, a softy. If you do something nice for somebody, that's going to bring a tear to my eye.

Brian: I also do. I just need to look at my bank account, and then I'm like, "Oh, it hurts."

Billy: Wait. But we're using your bank account to get Uncle Henry on the show.

Brian: Oh yeah, that’s right.

Billy: So, Henry, if you're listening, we're saving up our pennies.

Brian: You know what? If I'm out of money because I paid Henry Rollins to be here, I'm okay with that.

Billy: Worth it.

Brian: Totally worth it.

Billy: You can sleep on my couch.

Brian: That's right.

Billy: Until you get back on track. Now, the problem with romanticizing death is that it starts to look more and more attractive the closer you get to it. It's like a moth with a flame. Then these songs that you listen to, you start reading too much into those lyrics. You start personalizing them, so that they fit your narrative.

Last week, we talked about Alice on Chains, right? Again, legendary, one of my favorite bands of all time. But songs like Nutshell and Dirt, they read like suicide notes. For me, the closer I got to it, the more attractive that thought became. It started to become a more frequent thought in my mind. So then, I had to think of asking myself. Well, do I have a suicide personality?

When we look back on that research from last week, I mentioned that there were some personality traits that really stuck out to me. One of those personality traits is that I struggle with social perfectionism. Brian and I, before we were recording today, I was telling him how terrible I feel because we've re-recorded episodes. Brian was like, "Don't worry about it, dude. This is a trial run." What was the pottery metaphor that you used?

Brian: I said, you don't get good at things right away. You can't expect for me to hand you a violin, and you to play some Bach or something. You know what I mean? If I hand you a lump of clay and a pottery wheel, you're not going to make me a Ming the first time out. You know what I mean? You have to hone these skills. Practice them. That's what we're doing.

Billy: I was talking to a friend. She had asked me, "Do you put courage before confidence, or do you put confidence before courage?" I'm like, "Oh, I always put confidence before courage, because I'm never going to do something unless I know that I can do it well." I'm working through that. Because, really, enjoying life is about taking risks.

I'm not going to tell you something or to do something that I myself wouldn't do. I have done that before. I've given advice, and then followed up with the "do as I say, not as I do." There are going to be risks that I'm going to try just talking about this in a public space. As you hear it in a podcast, that, for me, is a risk because I really fear criticism, especially now due to social media. Part of that is because, as a dean of students, nobody likes the dean. No one makes a movie about the dean of students who changed somebody's life.

Brian: Oh, my gosh. I've got a great idea.

Billy: What is it?

Brian: We should make a movie about a dean who changes somebody's life.

Billy: Genius.

Brian: Right? Come on. There's Dead Poets Society and stuff, though. He wasn't a dean but he was a teacher.

Billy: Right, he's a teacher. But who is the bad guy in that movie? The dean.

Brian: The dean. You're right.

Billy: Who's the bad guy in the Animal House?

Brian: The dean.

Billy: The dean. If nobody likes the dean, it's a result of that. Teenagers are pretty savvy with the old social media. So, I am public enemy number one out there on social media. If you're trying to look for me on social media, that's not my account. I'm just telling you that now. If you type in my first and last name, that's not my account.

Brian: Something tells me you're the cool dean, though.

Billy: Here's the thing. It's like this in all of my relationships. Either you love me, or you hate me. There's no in between.

Brian: That's a good thing, man.

Billy: A lot of students hate me because of what they see on social media or what they hear from their friends, but they've never interacted with me.

Brian: You got a reputation, Bill.

Billy: I do. You guys can hear how intense I am just on this podcast. I bring that intensity to work. I bring that persistence to work. I bring that rigidity to work. Some people need that, and they appreciate that. Some people are not keen on my work ethic.

Like with Brian, I find myself apologizing a lot because Brian is so easy-going. You're so patient. You're just so, "Yeah, man." And I'm not. That's something that I'm working on. For me, I'm my own worst critic. My friend, Stephanie, who asked me do I put courage before confidence, in hearing what I was saying — because she's trying to be a real-life coach. Not like us. We're just armchair life coaches. She's actually going through a program to be a real-life coach. What a sucker. Doesn't she know she could just start a podcast?

Brian: Right. There's just an easy way. No payments. Nothing, man. We're just like, hey.

Billy: But she said, "One thing I noticed about you is that you minimize your accomplishments and your abilities." I think, for me, part of why I do that is just trying to come to grips with my own privilege, and stressing out about whether or not anyone wants to hear what I have to say. Because who wants to listen to some middle-aged white dude complain about his mental health, when there are people out there who have real serious issues out there?

And so, if you're still listening to me rant about my mental health, I really appreciate that. Just know that privilege is not lost on me, that I'm aware of it, and that I'm absolutely not aware of it at the same time. I'm always reminded of I don't have any tattoos. But if I got a tattoo, it would be the quote from Walt Whitman. This is my favorite quote. He says, "Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)" That, to me, encapsulates who I am in a nutshell. Because I have so many thoughts, and you'll hear me talk in circles sometimes. Then you'll say, "Well, five minutes ago, you just said this. Now you're contradicting yourself." That's me, dude. That's what I do because I ruminate often. I really struggle with shame and regret, and looking back on my past indiscretions. I beat myself up for it. I overanalyze everything. I struggle with paralysis by analysis. I have a tendency to lack positive thoughts about the future, especially in the past. I'm much better at this now. I see hope, where I used to just have feelings of hopelessness and despair, and loneliness and regret and shame. I would ask myself, " Oh, my God. Am I ever going to not feel this way?"

When you have all of that, and you combine it with — see, I have all these traits that make up my anxiety. What I'm also learning as I continue to go through with therapy — actually, I'm just back in therapy. Because with COVID, I just felt like some of these traits were starting to become exacerbated through COVID and through a little bit of that isolation. These OCD-like thoughts that would penetrate my mind, those were starting to creep in a little bit more often. So, I'm like, "You know what? Maybe I should go back into therapy."

So, here I am trying to sort this all out. But seven years ago, before I went to therapy the first time, I had all of those qualities, all of those traits that I just mentioned. But then, I was also in a profession — and I still am — that has a very high burnout rate.

So, I took some of these statistics from an article by a guy named Jeff Campbell. He's got a blog that he calls "Middle Class Dad." What an asshole. Who is this guy? He thinks he's going to steal our idea? Middle Class Dad? Listen, Jeff Campbell. Get off our lawn.

Brian: I have a stick. We could bash his knee.

Billy: Actually, you know what? I was reading through his articles. He seems like a pretty solid dude. He seems like maybe another potential guest. Not Henry Rollins' level, but maybe a potential guest. I'll reach out to him.

Brian: Okay. I'll take it back then. We don't have to give him the Tonya Harding.

Billy: Our demographic loves these references.

Brian: Oh, yeah. Because you remember about a big fiasco that was. That whole story was amazing.

Billy: Why? As I'm listening to myself, I probably sound like that, why? Why? But according to this article, 41.3% of teachers quit within their first five years. There's a multitude of reasons for that. 41.3% quit. 70% of teachers who work in schools with predominantly schools of color quit.

Now, I taught in an alternative learning center for eight years. I taught in Rochester. I taught English in Rochester for seven years. I taught all levels there. But then, when I moved up to the Twin Cities, I got a job in an alternative Learning Center. Here's what's unfortunate. Once you're in an alternative learning program, as a teacher, you get stamped as only an ALC teacher. It's difficult when you apply for other jobs, for them to look at your experience as the same as someone who may be taught mainstream. Which is really unfortunate, because I'm going to tell you that in terms of student management, that's what I learned the most. That's really where my classroom management improved, because you didn't have a culture of compliance like you do maybe in a mainstream classroom.

Brian: I would think that was the case. I would think that would be looked at as a feather in your cap rather than a hindrance. Wow.

Billy: It's not. You're not viewed on the same level.

Brian: That’s surprising.

Billy: Yeah, even though I work in a school — where the overwhelming majority of the students there are white — the classes that I taught in the alternative program, the students in there, were usually students of color. A lot of times, I was the minority in the classroom. I can remember one time I was in a class, and a student looked around the room. She said, "There are only black people in here." They identified. Why does that happen? I'm not going to go off on a rant here. But there are socio-economic opportunity gaps and systemic racism that creates these disparities in educational access. We talked about those socio-economic disparities that create mental health access last week, right?

Even though I taught in an affluent school, these issues affect the learning environment because I had students coming in with an array of socio-economic, emotional, academic, behavioral needs that, truthfully, I don't believe I was trained to address.

You couple that feeling with burnout and a lack of professional worth. At the time, I was dating an emotionally abusive and manipulative girlfriend. Keep in mind, that's my take on it. If she was here, she maybe would say something else. But my two cents is that she was an emotionally abusive and manipulative girlfriend. She was going through her own trauma due to her own emotionally abusive and manipulative ex-husband, who cheated on her. The problem that unfolded in our relationship was that then she always felt like I was going to cheat on her. Prove her right, at some point in time. I never felt good enough for her. She would threaten to leave me every weekend. But I stayed with her because I didn't want to let her down. I didn't want her to feel like, "See, you're just like it."

Brian: You're right.

Billy: Yeah, you were just like everybody else. So, she would have anxiety attacks. That was the first time that I'd ever seen what an anxiety attack looked like. It left a residual impact on me. My feeling of individual self-worth was completely drained. Because I didn't feel respected by my students, and I didn't feel respected by her. When that relationship finally ended, that was still there. It was still deep in my bones.

Then I started experiencing my own anxiety attacks. Over time, those just grew stronger and stronger in intensity. It affected my ability to fall asleep. It affected my physical well-being. My stomach would twist and turn in knots. It felt like a boa constrictor was wrapping around me. I would breathe anxiously. I never felt like I could take a deep breath ever. And yet, somehow, I moved on from that trauma, I guess. I started dating someone a year later. What was frustrating with that is that she was a single mom, and she didn't want to involve me in her son's life. So, after a year of dating, she said she didn't want to change the dynamic between her and her son. So, once again, I felt like I wasn't good enough.

Now I've eventually moved on again. Three months later, I was dating a perfect 10. She was a perfect 10 in every possible way. But because I was so burned out from work, and still fractured from those two previous relationships, I projected all of my anxieties and my insecurities and my inadequacies and my inferiority onto her, to the point where she was just like, "Fuck it. I'm out. I don't have to put up with this."

After that relationship fizzled out, that's when I hit rock bottom. That's when I started seeing contemplating suicide on a daily basis. I would walk around home, or I would walk around school with the image of a gun up against my head. If I was having an extremely difficult day, then I would imagine pulling the trigger. That's how bad it was.

Last week, I said, that's why I don't have guns in my place, because I'd be more inclined to use it on me than I would to protect myself. I even remember sending a text message to my friend, my best friend, saying something to the effect of, "I just don't know how much longer I can go on living like this," which is one of the warning signs that we talked about last week. He responded very quickly. He said, "You need to go see someone immediately if that's the way you're feeling."

But, of course, I didn't go. Why would I go? I'm a man. I can handle this. I should be able to power through it. Instead, I just let my anxiety and my depression grow worse and worse. I grew more and more belligerent towards my students. Here's the thing, they needed a pillar of emotional stability. I simply was not going to be able to provide that for them. So, this created this constant toxic wave of negativity that washed over both of us because we were all projecting our issues onto each other. It just was festering, like it was in a pool of shit. That was my life for those few years.

That came to ahead finally in February of 2013. I remember I was going to go to a friend's birthday party that night. I was looking forward to seeing this group of friends because I hadn't seen them for a while. So, I said, "Alright. I'm going to head out at seven o'clock." For some reason, I will always remember at 6:51 PM. I'll never forget the time 6:51 PM. I have this anxiety attack. It was just like all the others where it started in the stomach, and it was wrapping its way around my body and causing me to quicken my breathing. I wasn't able to take a deep breath, and I'm hunching my shoulders, really gripping my fingers. It was just such an intense attack. It wasn't any different than any other one that I'd had before. But that was just the intensity of it, that I was completely drained — physically and mentally drained.

So, I sent a text to my buddy. I was like, "Hey, I'm not going to make it. I'm not feeling that great." Then the next day, I woke up. I'm like, "What the hell is wrong with me? It's the weekend. Why do I feel this way?" Usually, I don't feel this until Sunday night when I have to go to sleep, and come to the grips that I have to go to work for five days before I have a respite, and I can get away from this all. That's when I finally decided, "Alright. Enough is enough. You need to go see a therapist. It must work because I'm still here."

Brian: And you feel better?

Billy: I do. I feel better. So, when we come back from the break, I'm going to tell you what that therapy experience was like, and how mindfulness not only changed my life but most likely saved it as well. You're listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis.

(break)

Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. If you're enjoying what you've heard so far, please do us a favor and hit the subscribe button. Also, giving our show a quick five-star review with a few kind words helps us on our quest to reach the top of the podcast charts. Finally, since you can't make a mixtape for your friends and loved ones like you used to do, share this podcast with them instead. We hope our experiences resonate with others and inspire people to live their best lives. Thanks again.

And now, let's take a minute to be present with our breath. If you're listening somewhere safe and quiet, close your eyes and slowly inhale for 4, 3, 2, 1. Hold for 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Slowly exhale for 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Let's do that one more time. Inhale for 4, 3, 2, 1. Hold for 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Slowly exhale for 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Go ahead and open your eyes. You feel better? We certainly hope so. And now, back to the show.

(interview)

Billy: Welcome back to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. This is me, Billy, just telling my story. Brian, you can pipe in every now and then. Like I said, you're the color analyst. Really, you should be listening to my story and poking fun at me for being—

Brian: Well, you're flowing though. I don't want to interrupt your flow, man.

Billy: Yeah, I'm like Rakim. You're Erik B., and I'm Rakim.

Brian: That's right. Oh, I love those guys.

Billy: The best. Alright. As I mentioned before the break, I'm going to talk about now how mindfulness not only changed my life, but most likely saved it as well. So, I'm fortunate enough that my best friend is Dr. Michael Collins, and Dr. Michael Collins has his PhD in Forensic Neuropsychology.

Brian: Why didn't he try something little harder?

Billy: You know, it's funny. I tell people the story all the time. His grade point average, all the way from undergrad through grad school, was a B. Because he once had a teacher tell him, "Mike, B's make PhDs." From that point forward, he never stressed about getting perfect scores on his tests anymore.

Brian: Really? So, he just made it okay to get B's instead of straight A's, which everybody always seems to tout as the gold standard for an awesome student or valedictorian.

Billy: Not to speak out of pocket here. But he once told me that he would actually do the math to see just how low of a score he could get on the final exam to still get a B in the class.

Brian: That's very practical though.

Billy: I feel much like you, he and I are a good yin and yang. Because where I am — high intensity, high stress, high anxiety all the time — he is not. In fact, I feel like oftentimes he is the source of my anxiety. He knows how to push all of my buttons. But I love—

Brian: That’s what good friends should do.

Billy: Yeah, I love him dearly. I love him dearly. He actually pointed me in the right direction here. Because where I live, there is a psychiatry office literally next door to my building. I sent him a list of all the therapists that were there. I said, "Listen, you know me well. I want you to go through this list of credentials. I want you to find the therapist that you think is going to best provide me with the mental health that I need." So, he picked out a licensed social worker named Mindy Ben Dixon, and I clicked with Mindy right away. I started working with her in February of 2013. We decided to meet twice a month, and we ended up meeting for six months. At the end of that six months, I can't even tell you how much better I felt. Well, I am going to tell you how much better I felt. The first thing I told her though was, "Listen, no meds. No pills. We're not doing any of that."

Brian: That was a smart move.

Billy: She said, "Nope, we're not going to do any of that." She said, "I'm going to provide you with a skill set so that when you are feeling anxious, and when you're feeling depressed, that you are able to self-talk your way out of it. Then I'm going to provide you with some skills so that if you do feel that way, you're going to feel them less intensely."

Brian: I say it was a smart move, because I've had some of those meds, too — anti-anxiety meds — right after about the same time. I went the med route. It is awful. It is. It affects all kinds of things like your sexual desire, your ability to perform, and all that stuff. They, of course, prescribe more drugs for you to take care of that. It's awful. Then when you have to get off of them, your brain — at least, the meds I was on. I don't remember what it was. When you start to go off of them, it's like your brain has these flashes. Your whole body feels like it just goes weak. Then you're right back to it. It's really weird. It's terrible, though.

Billy: That's all stuff I wanted to avoid because my body is pretty sensitive. Like caffeine, it doesn't take much for me to feel caffeine. Alcohol really has an impact on my mood. I don't drink during the school year. I can go the entire school year without drinking. Then I'll have maybe two, at the most, three in the summertime, because it's only nice in Minnesota three months out of the year anyway. So, I sit down on the patio and enjoy myself. Then when the school year rolls around, I just decided to go dry. I didn't want to do meds because I knew that that would have — I just knew that I would react one way or another to it.

Brian: There are a lot of unintended consequences, including making those suicidal feelings more intense even. So, I think it was a smart move.

Billy: What she was able to do is she was able to help me process through those bingo balls of negative thoughts that were bubbling around in my head. You know those old school bingo hoppers, right? That's really what thoughts are. They're the same thoughts over and over and over and over again, tumbling around in your head. She helped me slow those down, and see them for what they were. Then I could pick them out and get them out of my head in a safe, reasonable way.

So, what she did was she gave me — the first thing. Not the first thing. But she gave me a book called Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World. That book is by Mark Williams. I actually own two copies of it. So, here's what I'm going to do. If you share our podcast, and tag us @mindful_midlife_crisis with whatever images or that kind of thing, if you tag us in your stories on Instagram, then we will choose one of you as the winner of a copy of Mindfulness.

Brian: I would like to take this opportunity to say you are all winners for listening to our podcast though.

Billy: But you are a bigger winner.

Brian: Bigger winner. It's just degrees of winning.

Billy: You're just a bigger winner because you have that book. You have something tangible. Right now, you all have participation trophies for listening to this, but you would get the blue ribbon. I'll actually find a blue ribbon.

Brian: And put it on there when you send it.

Billy: Oh, yeah, absolutely.

Brian: For sure.

Billy: If you want to tag us in your stories, we will choose a bigger winner. I started doing those meditations that were in the book throughout the summer. Believe it or not, I noticed a change in my overall mental health. I had fewer anxiety attacks. When I did, they were less intense when I would have them. They didn't completely go away, but I was able to manage them and manage my anxiety much better.

I decided to up my practice. During the summer I started off just a little bit here, a little bit there. I would do maybe once or twice a day for five minutes at a time. I'm like, "Well, if some is good, then more must be better." So, I decided to do it two or three times a day for about 10 to 15 minutes at a time, especially once school came back in session and my stress levels would go up just because they do with work. I just use the meditations that were from the book. You can actually find those meditations on YouTube. Mark Williams does the reading of them. He has the smoothest, most relaxing British accent.

Brian: Oh, we don't have a British accent.

Billy: We don't.

Brian: But we could get one.

Billy: So, the next school year, when school was next in session. I can't even do a British accent. I'm going to guess that are Minnesota accents are—

Brian: They prompt the ability to do the English.

Billy: Yeah, that they are probably just grading on some — if there's anybody in the East Coast listening to us, and they're just like, why do they—

Brian: Why do they sound so stupid? I was out in Hollywood one time. I went to a bar, me and a friend of mine. We walked into the bar and the bartender — this was fascinating — he listened to it when we ordered our drinks. I couldn't have said eight or nine words to him. Like, "All of the beer." My buddy also, "Yeah, a Miller Lite," whatever it was. The guy looks at us, squints his eyes, and goes, "Midwest. I'm going to say Minnesota."

Billy: I had almost an identical experience happen to me in Florida, where we just walked in and the guy said, "Hi, how are you doing?" We just said, "Hey, how are you doing?" He said, "Are you guys from Canada?" It happened to me in Vegas one time, too. I was talking to some friends of mine. One of the pit bosses or whatever, she walks by, and she's like "Oh, you guys, are you from Minnesota with that accent?" I'm like, "You heard me say five things." She's like, "I'm from Minnesota. I can pick that out from anywhere."

Brian: This guy at the bar in Hollywood, it was right on Sunset Strip. It was an Irish bar. I don't remember what the name of it was. But we sat there and had our beers then. We would watch. His people would come in. And he did that for everybody. Next person walks in, and he's like, "Tennessee. Probably, around Memphis." I saw him do it for 15 different people. Everybody was like, "Oh my God. Yeah, you're right."

Billy: That's impressive.

Brian: It was really cool. Really cool.

Billy: Really impressive.

Brian: That is a great bartending trick. Bartenders, if you're listening out there, and you can somehow learn what this gentleman learned, he must have studied dialects or something because he was just astonishing. It was a great act.

Billy: That's very impressive. Very impressive. Well, carrying on here. So, the next school year rolls around. New school year, new me, and even my students. In my program, I taught students 9th grade and 10th grade year. So, those old me dealing with the same kids for two years. Sadly, they had to deal with me for two years as well. I'm so sorry to all of you that endured my nastiness that whole time. It wasn't you; it was me. But sometimes it was you.

The next year, I had students say, "You seem like you're happier." That's when it just dawned to me like, "Wow. This whole mindfulness thing is palpable." They are feeling this new positive energy coming off of me. I would still have anxiety attacks, like I said. I would have them during class. I'd be standing up at the board talking about Romeo and Juliet. But I was able to manage them better through self-talk. Then I was able to get them going on an assignment. I'd sit down, and then maybe do take four deep breaths or do some box breathing, where you inhale for four, and you hold it for four, and then you exhale for four, and you hold it for four. Just breathing techniques in order to regulate that anxiety that would pop up for, really, no good reason.

Then later on in the year, another teacher in my building, by the name of Sarah Rudell Beach — she is actually going to be a guest on the show.

Brian: So, you guys will get to see how fantastic she is firsthand.

Billy: Absolutely. She really is fantastic. But at first, I was wary of her. She was leading a six-week professional development course on mindfulness. I was like, "Wait a minute. Who are you?" Mindfulness is my thing. I had all sorts of questions about her qualifications to lead mindfulness. She just laughed it off. She's like, "You know what? That's exactly how I felt when I started going and practicing mindfulness. When I would see other people doing it, I was like, wait, hold on. This is my thing." But she was very welcoming. She made mindfulness fun. As weird as that sounds, she made mindfulness fun. She's got a great personality.

Brian: She's also got nice hair.

Billy: Does she have nice hair, too?

Brian: She does.

Billy: We have a string of nice hair guests that we hope to have on this show. We have Louann Brizendine, who wrote The Male and Female Brain books.

Brian: Malcolm

Billy: Malcolm Gladwell. Absolutely. You know what? Henry's got great hair, too.

Brian: He does.

Billy: He's got, he's all gray. Remember when Henry, you and him had black hair, then he had the white spot back here? Do you remember that?

Brian: I don't remember that. Wow.

Billy: It was just like a gray dot in the back of his head when he first started going gray. It was symmetrical. It's unbelievable. Yet one another unbelievable characteristic of Uncle Henry.

Brian: It reminds me of that song by the Crash Test Dummies from the '90s called Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm.

Billy: Do you remember the song, Superman's Dead?

Brian: Yeah

Billy: That was a great song.

Brian: That was a good song.

Billy: A lot of people make fun of Crash Test Dummies for the Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm song. Go listen to Superman's Dead. That is a great song.

Brian: It's a good song.

Billy: I love that song. It's the kind of song that makes you want to Stop, Breathe, and Think just like the app I downloaded. Transition.

Brian: Boom.

Billy: Nailed it.

Brian: Shot bulls’ eye.

Billy: The Stop, Breathe, and Think app, it's actually something that I still use to this day. I began using their guided meditations every morning for about 5 to 10 minutes. My recommendation is that if you're just getting into mindfulness, you're getting into meditation. I encourage you to do the guided meditations. Because they bring you back to what your intention and what your focus is. So, I strongly encourage you to check those out. There are all sorts. I think Calm is another app that's out there. I use Stop, Breathe, and Think, but there are all sorts of apps that are out there, or you can just YouTube mindfulness meditation. You'll find thousands.

Sarah recommended then taking the course through Mindful Schools. Check out mindfulschools.org. So, I took their essentials class, because I wanted to learn more about mindfulness. So then, I completed that. Then I thought, well, what else do they have to offer? So, then I moved on to the Mindful Schools' Mindful Educator Course, which gave me the skills and knowledge to teach mindfulness in the classroom.

For me, this was really important because I felt compelled to pay this gift of mindfulness forward to whomever may need it. I felt like it would be great to use in my class, for students. Because my students were coming in. Keep in mind, if I'm working in an alternative program, I've got students coming in who are hungry, who might be homeless, who are experiencing trauma in one way or another. They live in constant fight, flight or frightened mode. They're just in survival at all times. It's no way to ever relax. So, I wanted to provide them an opportunity to just allow themselves to breathe and just be present with whatever it was that maybe they were feeling, and to teach them how to let that go.

So, we started doing many lessons on mindfulness in my classroom. Some students responded really well to it, and others were very resistant to it. I mean, just like any other kind of lesson. Then I was hooked on it. So, I'm like, "Well, let me see how else I can get the word of mindfulness out to people." So, I started leading mindfulness sessions with my staff in the morning. Then I stepped into Sarah's role as a mindfulness class facilitator once she branched out to start her own mindfulness business.

Brian: Good for her. She must have been good enough at it to make some money at it.

Billy: So, she went to — Mindful Schools has a certification program for mindfulness instructors. She has her own business. We're going to let her promote the hell out of that next week. Because she has online courses available. If you want to go there now, it's called Brilliant Mindfulness. www.brilliantmindfulness.com, I think. If you just Google Brilliant Mindfulness, Sarah Beach — I'm not going to spell Rudell — you can check that out. She has some great resources there.

Because I was so deep and involved in this, I'm like, "Well, I'm going to continue to ramp up my meditation game." And so, I started carving out time during the school day to do a 10- to 15-minute meditation after lunch during my prep. So, I would just go into my classroom, turn the lights off, and lie on the floor, and do a guided meditation.

I have found that I was always more productive after I did a meditation than if I said, "I don't have enough time. I'm just going to skip it." Even if I found that I didn't have the time, and if I did it, I was more efficient. I got things done, or I did a better job of it than if I just powered through it when I was tired.

Brian: Just testing the site up, brilliantmindfulness.com is Sarah Rudell Beach’s site.

Billy: Excellent. Yeah, check it out. She's amazing. When she's here talking to us, hopefully, you'll bask in her amazingness.

Brian: And possibly, get some improved focus and concentration out of it.

Billy: That would be a plus out of it. See, not only are we here to — we're your armchair life coaches, but we also are connected to people who are real life coaches.

Brian: They are really doing it.

Billy: Absolutely. It's not just two schmucks on a microphone. Well, we are. We are two schmucks on a mic.

Brian: We are your guide.

Billy: We are your guide out of schmuckery.

Brian: Yes, that's right. And right into awesomeness.

Billy: Speaking of which, have you yelled I am awesome yet today?

Brian: I have not. I have not done that. But you guys should do that right now. Just say I am awesome, like that.

Billy: We're going to give you five seconds to yell out I am awesome. Ready?

Brian: Five seconds.

Billy: Alright. Hopefully, you feel a little bit better.

Brian: Hopefully, you feel more awesome than you did before that.

Billy: I would hope so. I'll tell you what. It made me feel awesome. King of transitions. I started seeking out conferences to give mindfulness presentations, because I figured there were probably teachers out there like me who struggled with anxiety and depression, and managing stress in a healthy way. I remember doing a presentation. I asked, "What do you do to manage your stress?" A woman said, "Honestly, I have a glass of wine every night." I said, "Alright. That's great. But what do you do when you're at work, and you can't have a glass of wine to manage your stress?" She didn't really have a response to that. I said, "Maybe we should give mindfulness a shot. Maybe we need to think about that."

It was through mindfulness that I recognized just how badly alcohol exacerbates my anxiety. I mentioned before that I decided to go the entire school year without drinking. I'm going on my eighth sober school year, and I just feel like I'm more productive. I feel like I'm a better human being when I'm not doing that.

Brian: Let's just be right up front. Alcohol is not a way of dealing with anything. It's not.

Billy: If you're using it as your primary coping mechanism, let's find a better way. Neither of us are saying that alcohol is evil.

Brian: No.

Billy: We imbibe. Well, I do. But I only imbibe in the summer.

Brian: In limited quantity, alcohol is wonderful.

Billy: Yeah, you treat it as a social affair. I feel like there are too many people. There's mommy wine culture, wine mommy culture. I have a problem with it. I'm sorry, ladies. I do. I have a problem with it. If you're doing it every night — I guess if you're having one, who am I to judge? But if you're dipping into that second or third one, I don't know. Here's the thing. Send your hate mail to us at mindfulmidlifecrisis@gmail.com. Share with us why you have the second or third glass. We'd be curious to know.

Brian: Here's the thing with alcohol and why it is different from something like mindfulness. With alcohol or drugs, in order to attain the same feeling, you need more every time. The frequency, it feeds itself. So, that's not a healthy way of dealing with it. It should be a treat, and not a staple. If it's a staple, you're on your way to the wrong thing. It's never going to lead anywhere good.

Billy: I like that. I like the idea that it's a treat, not a staple. I think you look at it like chocolate, right?

Brian: Right. If you eat chocolate all day, how would your body feel? It would feel crappy. Same with alcohol.

Billy: I feel like the reason why we're saying the things that we're saying is because we've had unhealthy relationships with alcohol. We've had unhealthy relationships with alcohol for many years, dating back to our teens into our 20s. For me — well, actually, for both of us, we decided to just cut it out of our lives. I cut it out of my life during the school year, when students are around so that I can be the best version of me for my students.

That's not to say that I don't still struggle with stress and anxiety, or get frustrated with students, or just lose my shit on a kid for doing something I've told them a million times not to do, but I'm human. So, when I do lose my shit, I have to reflect on how that interaction went, and do better next time. I've made my peace with the fact that as the dean of students, some students are just going to hate me. Because I'm the guy who tells them no, and I'm the guy who often sees them when they're at their worst.

Brian: It sounds like you're comfortable with that though now.

Billy: I'm getting there. Listen, no one likes to be told the fuck off. You know what I mean? Nobody seeks that out.

Brian: Well, some weird people might, but in good intention.

Billy: Right. But for me — and I've talked about like that social perfectionism. If somebody yells at me, f**k you that sort of thing, trust me, as soon as they say that to me, they lash out. That's hard. Nobody wants to be told that. I give a lot of credit to customer service people, because they are dealing with angry people quite often. They're often times dealing with people when they are at their worst. And so, because I recognize that, I recognize that I need to show up as the best version of myself. In order for me to do that, I just have decided that I'm not going to lose it up during the school year.

Now, in order to continue being the best version of myself, I continued seeking out opportunities to learn more about mindfulness. I attended a mindfulness retreat led by Sarah Rudell Beach and Mark Anderson, who is a Buddhist monk. He has a foundation called the M2 Foundation over in St. Paul. I will tell you, making a Buddhist monk laugh really is happiness. That is happiness. It was really a pleasure to work with Mark. He is in the top 1% of amazingly kind people on this earth. So, it was an honor to be part of that retreat with Mark and Sarah.

Then it was another honor to attend a mindfulness conference led by The Meditation Master himself, Jon Kabat-Zinn, who is a former MIT student and UMass college professor. He created Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction.

Brian: Anytime there's an acronym, that screams science to me.

Billy: That’s a big deal. He actually was researching the effects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on people who were like me. They started out 40 years ago, 30 years ago, with just like a handful of published research. Now there's thousands of published research articles that show the benefits of mindfulness. MBSR courses are offered all throughout the world. You can Google Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction courses, and most likely find something local. The UOM, University of Minnesota, they really do a lot with mindfulness-based stress reduction. So, kudos to you UOM. It'd be cooler if you had a D at the end of it, because that's where I went to school — University of Minnesota Duluth, where the hills are steep.

Brian: And the beers are cheap. You are right. There are a lot of courses out there. Mindful reader, in headspace, in Udemy, from within wellness, lots of them.

Billy: So, one of the tenets of mindfulness is gratitude. It was important for me to go back to my therapist Mindy, after being away for almost two years, just to say thank you for starting me down this path towards emotional healing through the gift of mindfulness.

Whenever I start to dwell on those dark emotions, I'm reminded of a quote by my close personal friend — the one and only Eddie Vedder — who I've seen in concert 49 times with Pearl Jam in nine different countries. Then I've seen Eddie do two solo acoustic shows, too. When you hang out with someone 51 times, your friends, right?

Brian: Oh, yeah, automatically.

Billy: I don't feel like it took us 51 times to hang out before we were friends. I feel like we bonded right away. So, Ed, if you're out there, thanks for being a friend, man.

Brian: Also, standing offer by the way if he ever wants to come on the show. You're on.

Billy: He is. He's welcome to be here. Ed really puts a lot of thought into what he's trying to say here. It just feels like he is always attempting to compose just the right words. He found those words that resonated with me. This piece of advice came from Bruce Springsteen. But the way Ed put it was, "That guy you used to be, he's still in the car. He'll always be in the car. Just don't let him drive. He might be shouting out directions. But whatever you do, don't let him get behind the wheel."

I am proud to say that I've kept this car from heading in the wrong direction, or crashing for that matter for the last seven plus years. So, with that, we want to thank you again for tuning in and listening to us babble on about our stories. We hope that our stories resonate with you in some way. We hope that you share our stories with those who may also connect with what we have to say. For Brian, this is Billy. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. May you feel happy, healthy, and loved. Take care friends.

(outro)

Thank you for taking the time to listen to The Mindful Midlife Crisis Podcast. We hope you enjoy this week's episode. If this episode resonates with you, please share it with your family and friends. We will do our best to put out new content every Wednesday to get you over the midweek hump. If you want episodes to be downloaded automatically to your phone each week, all you need to do is hit the checkmark, subscribe, like, or follow button, depending on what podcast format you're using. While you're at it, feel free to leave our show a quick five-star review with a few kind words, so more people like you can easily find our show.

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If you'd like to contact us or if you have suggestions about what you'd like us to discuss on future episodes, feel free to email us at mindfulmidlifecrisis@gmail.com or follow us on Instagram @mindful_midlife_crisis. Be sure to check out the show notes for links to the articles and resources we referenced throughout the show. Thanks again for listening. May you feel happy, healthy, and loved.