Tag Archives: inspiration

Visiting Home After Being Gone a While

ohio

So, I’m back in Ohio right now visiting home, and it’s been very pleasant. The memories of how people treated me here are finally fading away as I get older, and I have to admit…I think that now that I finally feel successful…whatever anyone here thinks of me no longer matters.

For example- If someone here wants to hate me for being gay, well… I get paid to travel the world and write stories about it… Tell me Mr. white trash Ohioan, what do you do? Now that I’m happy and now that I feel worthwhile, ignorant trash suddenly seems like nothing more than, well, ignorant trash.

 

Dolly Parton has a song called Home (a very good song in fact)

 

And so much of it makes sense now. There really is no place like home. For better or for worse, there is only town where you grow up (unless you move). But for most of us, there’s only one town where you experience grade school and high school, and all the crap that comes along with it. And whether your experience sucked like mine, or was great like the some prom queen, it leaves a mark inside of you that shapes who you are.

There’s always something powerful about coming back. For me, it’s two-fold. Part of it makes me remember why I ran so far away. This town just isn’t me. It never was. I always wanted the world, I wanted to devote my life to a passion. And that just isn’t how most Ohioans feel. But at the same time, I also appreciate the things here that I can’t have in Manhattan. I love all the tree-lined streets, the quiet nights, the fireflies, the large nearby parks with wandering riverbeds and deers and foxes and squirrels and frogs. I love nature. And that love of nature is a big part of what spurred my love of travel. Coming home is always nice because it refuels my natural side. The side I lose in New York.

In a few weeks I take my next trip for work. I’m off to London!

london

 

I’m very excited! But London is big and sprawling and crowded. It’s the opposite of my hometown (and that will partly make me love it) But, it’s also encouraging me to suck up as much Ohio as I can right now.

I’m going to walk the family dog, ride my bike, sleep with my windows open, and embrace everything Ohio is. Everything I left behind.  Everything I hate. And Everything I still love.

 

~ The Dark Horse

(This was… 60% proofread?)

 

 

 

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Anxiety, My Dear Friend.

nyc

So, as I’ve stated before, I’m living in New York City and have somehow stumbled into the beginnings of a writing career…Something I never thought would happen.

It’s sort of like the beginning to every cheesy chick flick ever.

For real…

Chick Flicks that I know of where the lead character is a writer/works for a magazine: 13 Going on 30, The Devil Wears Prada, You’ve Got Mail, Ugly Betty, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Sex and the City, Morning Glory….. The list goes on.  Anyways, moving on….

The point is, things are…going well.  People may even think I have talent. A recent article I wrote got picked up by Newsweek, The Miami Herald, Philly Magazine, Houston Chronicle, Yahoo News, MSN, Fox News, and tons of local CBS and FOX stations…it even aired on the news, like, on TV! 

On top of that, I was sent on assignment to Mexico early this month, and have a trip to London in June.

IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING? 

real?

 

If you need some context as to how crazy this is, go back and read my posts from 2013, 2014, 2015, even 2016! I was agoraphobic. I was working in retail. I felt like the ugliest failure that ever existed. I always felt like I had talent. But I also felt like nobody would ever want to hear my voice.

I felt that I was an eternal failure destined to be the outcast until I died.

Ok look…I’m still the outcast and probably always will be. BUT, I’m an outcast who is becoming successful.  And that’s worth something, right? 

jstifler

 

But, despite the growing success, I still feel anxious. And I’m starting to understand that the feelings of anxiety may never go away. I still have moments where I go “I really hope they like this article, cuz I don’t want to lose my job” or “I wonder if I’m going to lose my job someday because of the way writing careers are going…”

But, such is life in this industry.

Triumph normally requires risk. If I wanted career security, there are a lot of boring jobs I could have. I could go back to working for a phone company…cuz that was fun….(rolls eyes so hard they hurt)

 

But with accepting my anxiety, it also seems to help. Whereas I used to be convinced my life was falling apart, now I have moments where I get anxious and I feel the dread and fear that comes along with it. Then, I take a breath and remind myself that I’ve already been through hell. I’ve already felt what it’s like to have nothing. I’ve already been in a situation where I was having sex for money. I’ve already been completely alone.

I’ve already lived the life that I fear I’ll have to live if everything falls apart.

So what am I fearing?  I survived it once, I could do it again.


 

But I don’t think I’ll have to.

I have a feeling…

good

A good feeling.

A feeling that things are working out. I think maybe it’s a mixture of hope and confidence…two things I’ve lacked in the past. The more stuff I get published, the more people want my writing, and the more people want my writing, the more secure I feel in my writing, which makes my writing better, which makes more people want it, which…

you get what I’m saying. It’s a positive feedback loop. 

 

So, I guess the point is this – I felt that I was a failure FOR YEARS.

Again, go ahead and read this blog if you don’t believe me. I spent way too much time hating myself. I spent way too much time believing others that I was worthless. I spent too much of my life not living my life.

And while I still feel anxious at times, I’m not letting it control me. Anxiety is a fucking joke – it’s a cunt that will try everything it can to fuck you over. Don’t listen to that bitch.

If you need help because you’re feeling depressed, anxious, have PTSD, or any other issue – call your local lifeline (here is a list of all the crisis lines around the world)

And whatever you do.  Don’t give up. You’re better than that.

Rock this shit out y’all! 

nick

(Who is this? Is this Nickleback or something?  Hoobastank perhaps? Good lord…)

 

~ The Dark Horse

(No this wasn’t proofread. #SozBro!)

 

 

 

SUMMER IS ALMOST HERE

sum

Holy fuckbills on a stick people, Summer is finally almost here! It’s so close, so. damn. close!

The warmth. The sun. The adventure! For real, anyone else out there with depression and anxiety – how do you feel about summer? I know that back when I was younger and overweight I used to hate summer. Summer was a time for wearing shorts and short-sleeved shirts. AKA: It was a time for my pasty fat to be shown to the world. And I hated it immensely.

But now that I’ve gotten in shape, I’m the opposite. Now I love summer. I love getting some sun. I love the heat, the warmth. I feel like I have so much more energy in the summer and my depression seems to not be as bad. All the cloudy, short, cold winter days take it out of me. An the summer weather seems to charge me like a battery.

sum2

But I fully understand that it’s all relative.

How did I go from hating the summer, to loving the summer?

And not just that, but winter seriously takes it out of me.

I used to long for those sweaters that I could hide under, for the idea of “I’m not sitting around the house because I have no life…I’m sitting around the house because it’s winter. duh!” It felt like such a great excuse to myself.

But now it’s almost like I’m revolting against the old me.

Now, when I’m trapped inside on cold winter days, memories of my past come back with a fury. The sadness of not just bleak the winter days, but also my bleak past, all live inside me all winter long.

But summer, Oh man! It makes me just want to run amok around the world. Finding adventure wherever I can.

 

So, if you’re like the old me and hate summer – here are some things to be excited about:

1.) New season of Stranger Things

strange

I could watch Winona Ryder freak out all day long.  Plus, did you see that amazing trailer playing The Who?  uuuuggghhhh…..SSSSUUUUUMMMMMMEEEERRRRRR

 

2.) Getting outside more

JP

Nothing makes you feel better than a good walk in the park, am I right? You could even go for a run if you wanted to.  Even if I’m completely alone, something about being outside in the warmth just makes me feel so much better.

 

3.) Summer Travel!

flight

Summer is a time for adventure and a time for traversing this great planet of ours! Don’t fear the worst! get out there, hop in a plane, and go somewhere!

 

4.) The New Godzilla movie

godzilla

If the world is just too depressing, and you feel like it’s all falling apart, then stay inside a nice cozy movie theater and watch the world get destroyed in the new Godzilla movie! Anytime a giant creature destroys mankind I am a happy man!

 

5.) Summer music!

blind.gif

Summer is a time for the hottest songs of the year to get released….BUT SERIOUSLY, FUCK MODERN MUSIC. Instead, I fill my summers with the summer hits of the 90’s. Blast Blind Melon, Alanis Morissette, Hole, Lauryn Hill, Smashing Pumpkins, Robyn (old Robyn, not new Robyn), and Fiona Apple.  That’s right. Teach these stupid cunts what real music sounds like!

 

Enjoy your summer everyone!

~ The Dark Horse

TRAVEL>>> There Really is Nothing Better

mig

Next month I’m being flown to Mexico to write an article.  This is going to be the first time I’ve been paid to do travel writing. It feels like a complete dream come true!

I honestly don’t have words – what is there to stay that could possibly capture how accomplished I feel?  Growing up, watching the Travel Channel, dreaming of escaping my hometown in Ohio… and now, I somehow have one of those jobs that everyone going up told me wasn’t real.

I’m from trash-bucket Ohio. Once manufacturing died, so did my hometown. The mentality of my hometown isn’t “Work hard, you’ll go places!” Instead it’s, “The world will eat you alive! Ohio isn’t that bad! Do you know what your chances are of actually being successful? You’re just going to wind up back here with your tail between your legs!”

Like they say, misery loves company. 

mex1

 

And let me make this very clear —–> If you’re the kind of person who enjoys coming home from work everyday and sitting in your Lay-Z-Boy to watch Real Housewives….THAT IS TOTALLY OK! I have nothing against you! The problems arise because most people who live their lives like are also the types to who hate the idea of others doing something else. That hatred is the problem. 

help

It almost seems like they are trying to keep others down. Like they don’t want to watch others do more with their life. That is what I hate. You should never have to be surrounded by people who clearly don’t want to see you succeed.

Mex2

 

Ah, but bitches, let me tell you….

Once you escape that cycle, life can get good. It can take a while, and it can be hard (well, it will be hard, unfortunately) After years upon years of having people shit on you, change doesn’t come overnight. The journey to happiness is surely an uphill battle.

 

But it’s totally worth it.

Trust me.

IT IS TOTALLY WORTH IT.

 

mex4

 

Ah Mexico… on someone else’s dime.  Me, writing the night away.

Oh , god it’s almost orgasmic…

mex5

 

 

I may be pushing 30…but I’m finally starting to feel like my life is starting. My life is 1/3 over…and just beginning. But, better late than never, right?

Plus, I remember Steve Carell has that line in Little Miss Sunshine, where he says something like, “Your struggles are what end up making you good writer.”

So hopefully I have lucrative writing career ahead!

Hi ho!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ho

 

 

Spring Playlist to Destroy the Winter Blues

pink

 

So, if you’re like me, then winter brings you down… a lot.  I have depression and anxiety, and I always have to work on on keeping myself mentally healthy. And winter is always the fucking hardest.

I love Christmas. The lights, the music, the food, how busy the world is… but then suddenly comes January and February.

No sun.

It’s freezing.

No holidays in sight.

Everyone is sick.

FUCK WINTER. 

FUCK IT INTO THE FUCKING GROUND.

But now, it’s spring. We are above freezing (sometimes only by a few degrees, but IT’S PROGRESS PEOPLE, COME ON!) And I’m getting myself all worked up for better weather, longer days, and the adventure that fills the sir of spring and summer.

I’ve crafted a kick-ass playlist that makes me smile, makes me happy, and gives me energy. This playlist screams SPRING IS HERE! 

If you’re looking for some good tunes to help bring you out of your winter hole, give these tunes a spin!

 

18 WHEELER

P!nk

When you need to just really kick some fuckin ass in the shower, turn on Pink’s 18 Wheeler. I’m lucky to have a window in my bathroom.  With this song, on weekend mornings, I like to hop in the shower after my morning tea and roll up the blinds so the morning sun has illuminated my bathroom, and THEN I BLAST THIS SHIT TILL THE BASS FALLS OUT. Nobody brings out your inner-rebellious teenager like pink.

 

NTH DEGREE

Morningwood

This is one of those songs that’s so great because it’s totally inappropriate. Just remember…

M O

M O R

M O R N I N G

M O – M O R- M O R N I N G W O O D TO THE NTH DEGREE!!!!!!

 

PORTLAND, OREGON

Jack White and Loretta Lynn

I hate that Loretta Lynn is a Trump supporter. But, you gotta give her credit for being 86 years old and still crankin’ out records and touring.  Also, this song is so good because it feels just like spring. The song starts of slow, and then builds and builds into the honkey tonk-infused tune that always gets me singing along.

 

BREAKFAST

Kelis

I’ll be honest with everyone, I didn’t like Kelis very much. I thought she was kinda trashy. But then her album Food came out, and I was blown away.  Here, she removes all that synth-hip-hop shit and just sings. And it’s beautiful.  The culmination of the song comes when she sings the line “Maybe we’ll make it to breakfast.” And I’m just like, YESSSSSSSS!  Maybe she’ll make it to breakfast, and maybe we’ll make it to spring!

 

1979

Smashing Pumpkins

This song brings back memories of warmer months as a kid in the 90’s. And it’s funny because 1979 is Billy Corgan singing about the dog days of his childhood, and this song came out in my childhood…so, it’s like…the circle of life or some shit like that.

Point is, the song envois images of youth, and hope for the future. Prefect for spring!

 

Storms in Africa Parts 1 & 2

Enya

I listen to these songs every single spring, and have ever since I was 15. The songs are about the African rainy season, when torrential thunderstorms bring water and life back to a parched region. This song always reminds me of spring rains. April showers do bring May flowers after all. I always love the energy of a spring storm. It’s like mother nature defibrillating herself back to life.

BETTER LIFE

Keith Urban

For anyone who has read this blog, you know I love running away/  And this song always inspire me to run again. The purity, the energy, and the hope of being young. The idea that adventure is everywhere. The belief that life is fun.

What can be more spring-like than that?

I’m Getting Paid to go to Mexico!

mex

So, major, major things are happening! 

I moved to NYC recently to start interning, and since moving here, everything is just booming! One of my internships is at a travel magazine. In February I started blogging for them, which turned into writing articles for the website, and I helped edit the last issue, which means my name got printed in the magazine’s Masthead…That’s right, my name…..IN PRINTIN A MAGAZINE! (Can I officially start referring to myself as writer now?  Have I “made it” ? )

And now, I’m working on my first feature article to get published in the print magazine, AND I just found out I’m taking what’s called a press trip to Mexico.

I never knew what a press trip was.

I never knew how much money could be spent by companies. It’s literally mind-boggling.  As someone who has spent my entire life bored out of my mind working in restaurants and retail, working 9 hour days only to have a 30 minute break, just to make 8 dollars an hour…. It’s seriously fucking crazy. Our magazine is sent gifts ALL THE TIME by places and companies wanting us to write about them.

And a press trip is where a tourism company, hotel, or airline, PAYS REPORTERS TO TRAVEL THERE in exchange for having an article written about it.

mex1

So….

I get to travel.

AND GET PAID. 

Is this even real life?

 

People around the world, listen to me. Hard work actually does pay off. I spent so many years thinking I’d be bored and miserable forever. Thinking I wasn’t good enough for a job I loved. Thinking I wasn’t smart enough to make my dreams come true.

I didn’t start grad school until I was 27. I won’t walk and receive my diploma from Harvard until I’m 30.

And up until I got back in school, my life was a raging shitshow (as any of you will know if you’ve been reading my blog before then)

I was a late bloomer. Depression, loneliness, anxiety, self-doubt, and self-hatred controlled my life since I was 10 years old.

…since my life went to hell.

mex4

But you know what, I didn’t give up.  And if any of you out there feel like you’re the outcast, or feel hated, or even if you hate yourself – It can get better. 

Hope is real. And hope can get you through.

And I know it’s hard. I fully understand that believing in yourself, when all you hear your entire life is how shitty you are, is basically fucking impossible. It takes so much strength. So much hardship. So much perseverance.

But it’s so worth it.

You deserve happiness. You deserve success. You deserve it all.

 

So the next time some bitch comes along and tries to put you down, rock some hardcore Miranda Priestly realness…

mex5

 

And remember…

mex7

You’re better than them.  You always were.

 

Travel on my friends,

The Dark Horse

 

(This was written out of passion, not logic! So, no, this wasn’t proofread)