Denver Sessions: Shannon, Lil Miguelito


It’s pretty common for humans to trash talk other humans. It isn’t right. It isn’t good or healthy. We all know it’s wrong. But we do it.

I love to study people and figure out what they’re thinking and feeling. Once I figure that out, I enjoy searching for why they feel that way in certain moments. How a person feels often dictates what they’ll say or do in a situation.

It’s pretty common in my generation, and specifically in my friend group, to be introspective and discover what’s going on inside of us that is causing us to make decisions. I like to study myself to understand why I’m making decisions deeper than the “I just wanted to.” My self discovery has led to a variety of revelations that have allowed me to grow into a better human. I’ll dive into this one:

Years ago, I was in a terrible on and off relationship with someone that made me feel horrible. Horrible. She was an expert at pushing the buttons that make me livid. I was frustrated all the time with her. To be fair, I’m positive she felt the same about me. I was pushing her buttons to get a reaction back. To make her feel how she made me feel. I thought, “If she could just feel how I’m feeling, she’ll realize it’s wrong, and she’ll stop doing this to me!”

It was a tennis match in which the more points we scored, the more we lost.

I was too immature then to realize what was happening. What I was doing wrong. Why we were doing wrong to each other. I was still in the “she did this”or “I’m the victim” mentality, which was unfair to her.

It was much later that I learned that I was making her feel bad, because I felt bad. Not all of my bad feelings were her fault. None of them were her responsibility either.

  • I insecure about her past relationships. So I felt bad.
  • I was unhappy with my job. So I felt bad.
  • I expected life to look differently. So I felt bad.
  • I didn’t have the friends I thought I’d had. So I felt bad.

I’m positive that there were plenty more than I’m not remembering. Overall, I just felt bad. She came into my life where I subconsciously wanted to spread my unhappiness around like candy from a piñata! When she would do even the most minor things to inconvenience me, I would lash out. Of course, in her own ways, she was equally unhappy with her life and she would lash out when I inconvenienced her. The keyword being: inconvenienced.

It’s not like we were reacting to the end of the world. We were lashing out to someone requiring us to do something we just didn’t want to do.

Together, we were miserable!
We chose to make each other miserable.
We knew how to make the other happy or sad and we consistently chose misery.
If misery loves company, it loved us!

Though we haven’t spoken in years and I’m certain she’s forgotten about me, for my part, I apologize. I was too immature to realize my wrong then.

If I am completely honest, there are still things I say or do because of my insecurities, misery, and dissatisfaction. Why? Well, because I’m human and I am still learning how to control myself. I will say, the process of learning my faults has helped me be more graceful to others when they trash me for reasons I don’t know.

I have plenty of critics. In my opinion, I’m not famous enough to have critics! But as long as there are humans on earth, there will be these moments where even the best person will throw a verbal stick and stone.

Years ago, I was trying to enhance my photography skills. I like to say that when it comes to photography, I’m pretty lucky, but I’m working on becoming good. Because I want to become better, I bought a better camera. Because I’m not made of money, it was an older version of a top of the line series. I was so excited. I showed my friends and talked about what I could do with this camera. One particular friend used the opportunity to belittle my new purchase as simply a lust for technology.

I’ve always enjoyed tech, that’s true, I won’t deny that. But it definitely shocked me when someone who knew my story, my intentions, and how this camera was not cutting edge would slander me. Oddly enough, it stuck! This individual continued to speak a phrase they created and encouraged others to do the same. Though I’m not one to let words get to me, when my truer friends used these phrases, I was surprised and hurt.

I love to travel. I love to see new places, meet new people, and soak in different experiences! Most people say they like to travel, but I’m one of those who chases after it, like a dog chasing a car. I know it’s not for everyone, plenty of people enjoy their lives at home. It takes a lot of effort to create a community in one spot. It takes years to establish yourself in an area and become a member of a specific society. That’s great for them!

Despite my understanding of people not wanting to travel, it doesn’t help them understand that I need it. So they mock me. I’ve heard so many discouraging things about traveling. I’m so pro-travel and daily encourage other to do the same, I was surprised that there is a community that is anti-traveling!

“You’re just blowing with the wind, having no direction.”
“No woman will marry you if you live a lifestyle like that!”
“If you don’t settle and save now, you’ll have nothing in the future.”


For a while, it seemed every encouragement I received to start my traveling adventure, there were plenty advocating the opposite.

Though I don’t know with certainty, I imagine that these people were hurt by something in their lives. They were hurting enough that they showed that pain in the form of lashing out. Whether they realize it or not, they were taking out their pain in a simple unhealthy way. Maybe they were right. Maybe it needed to be said. Maybe it makes them feel better when they continue to say it.

There is always a better way to speak your mind and release your emotions. If something good is done for the wrong reasons, is it still good?

In the first scenario, I imagine the person felt insecure about their photography passion. After this person saw me move on my way to starting a photography business and go out for different shoots, they opened up and showed me their camera and photos. They were great! Through their attempt to be humble, I questioned if their previous comments were because they wanted to achieve my goal, but never did. Perhaps their lack of success led to them coining a phrase to make fun of someone who did what they didn’t.

Maybe each time they say it, they’re covering up their individual failure to chase a dream they had. And in that one moment, when the words come out, they feel good about themselves.

In the second scenario, I think the people didn’t know how to say, “I’ll miss you.”

Something as simple as that. I believe that instead of mustering the courage to say how they felt, these people reasoned within themselves that it was better to discourage me from leaving.

I don’t want to give these people escapes for their behavior. They need to reconcile their issues in any way they can.

However, I can definitely use this to examine myself better.

We are living in an era where slander is rampant! You can’t spend more than five minutes on any social media platform without reading about someone trash talking someone else. It’s as if it’s the trendy to do. If someone inconveniences your lifestyle, is slightly different from you, or believes in something else the response is to slander them!

If we take just a moment to monitor what we are feeling, what we are truly thinking, we can understand that what we are saying/doing/posting to someone isn’t because of anything the other person has done. Rather, it is a reflection of ourselves.

A reflection that we are uncomfortable seeing.

Speaking slander against any person isn’t helping your cause, isn’t helping them change, isn’t helping a person understand your point of view. There’s a better way to say it. It starts with looking within.

How to Sustainably Change

It was over my first summer in Colorado was a big one!

It was 2015! I was making new friends in my new home. The last good season of Game of Thrones just came out. And I decided I was going to change my body to be the more fit version of itself.

At the time, I was 235 pounds (106.6kg), and not thrilled about it. That summer I decided things were going to change! I started eating fish and rice for the majority of my meals, and biking to work every day. Thankfully, I had a friend that worked with me who could pick me up at work, or drop me off so I only needed to bike one way!

It was a major overhaul.

It felt like it was happening overnight. I was losing so much, it was great! I was living that #fitlife. I was surprised that my cold turkey method and just changing things drastically worked. I lost 50 pounds (22.7) in those warm months. Chillin at 185lbs (83.9kg), I was a happy camper!

I of course wanted to lose more, but I was proud of how far I had come. Losing that much takes a considerable amount of effort. It was time to celebrate my achievement!!

Unfortunately, despite my consistent trips to the gym (especially the sauna), I didn’t make my goal weight. I didn’t even stay at the new weight I just made it too. I eventually found my way to about 205lbs (93kg) and stayed there for the rest of my Colorado life.

I mean, technically I still lost 30 pounds, so that’s good enough, right?


When I left Colorado, I decided that I was going to change my lifestyle, sustainably. I wanted to keep whatever changes that I made to my life.

When it came to my health and weight, I decided that I was going to make small changes every couple of weeks or month not all at once. Then I’d stick to those changes for as long as I could, ideally for life.

Change 1: Stop eating when I feel a little bit full.
Can we admit that we don’t stop eating until we fill completely full. Sometimes, you keep eating until you literally can’t and you feel gloriously gross while sitting at the dining table! Yeah, I’ve conquered plenty of all-you-can-eat buffets before. So I decided that as soon as I feel even a little bit of the sensation of being full. I would stop eating.
Oddly enough, I didn’t die of hunger!

Change 2: If I could walk or bike there in under an hour, do it.
When I moved to New Zealand, I didn’t have a car for a while. I was trying to see as much as I could, and soak in the sights. Full disclosure, I was okay with this plan because previously, I wasn’t a huge fan of bus transportation. Also, bus fares are not cheap here and THEY WOULD’NT ACCEPT MY OLD STUDENT ID as a valid to get the student discount.
I admit, it was hard! Walking long distances, riding up ridiculous hills, but after a month of it, I started to prefer it! If it’s raining, ride fast, if it’s windy, walk sturdy, and if it’s sunny, enjoy it! I do take the bus now, and I do drive my car from time to time, but if it’s decent enough weather, and within an hour’s ride, I’ll take my bike.

Change 3: Change what I eating. Goodbye bread, cheese, fried food. Hello apples, peanut butter and veggies.
I’m not much of a snacking kind of person, but I was getting hungry more often from not eating as much and from all the walking and biking. So, if I wanted to eat something, I didn’t want to pop on in to my local Macca’s (McDonalds) for a burger and fries. Instead, I’d chow on an apple and peanut butter, or pour myself a nice bowl of oatmeal.
Admittedly, when I go out, I don’t mind having bread or cheese on my plate. I try to avoid fried food still, but I’m not hyper strict about it. But now, I daily make fruit smoothies, and one of my flatmates says he sees me eat more vegetables than anything else on my plate for the majority of my meals. I’m okay with that.

Change 4: Exercising. In my opinion, riding my bike to church isn’t exercising and going out for a hike is not exercising. Exercising is exercising.
I haven’t joined a gym yet, but I decided that after nearly 5 months of these changes, I should add an exercising routine to my life. 7 days a week I work out. 3 days a week, I go for a run. Sometimes it’s a short 1km to a local park and back. Other times it’s a solid 10k, running home after a morning downtown. The other days of the week, I’m spending 10-15 min doing core workouts, pushups, and sit ups. It’s not a heavy workout by any means, but it’s a solid sustainable start.
Going on walks and bike rides are good for me. However, making the time to actually exercise, (intentionally moving my body with the purpose of strengthening) pays off in different dividends than walking or biking around.


These changes happened over time and now I think of them as my daily routine. It’s just my life. I only have this body for a few years, why not keep it in decent running shape? Today, I’m sitting at 173 pounds (78.5kgs). A 40 pound difference from my last days Colorado. Pretty happy with my progress. I have a few more changes in mind that I’ll do in the near future once I have these changes engrained in my life.

I fully believe that one of the main reason why I’ve been able to change is because it’s been sustainable. Small changes over time, make big differences. Because I’m a sports type of guy: I like to think of a 1 degree difference on the putting green doesn’t make a difference. But a 1 degree difference from the tee, is a major alteration in where the ball lands. (For my non sports friends, small changes change who you are over time.)

We’re all going to change. It’s inevitable. Why not commit to small changes now so you can control where you go next?