Some thoughts on depression

Can we talk about depression for a bit here?

I’ve been seeing a lot of friends make quick posts about it, and today I’ve been feeling the nudge to say a thing or two.

Many of you have been witnesses to the life transformation that’s happened for me over the past two years. Early next month marks the two year anniversary of the first time I stepped into a gym and started turning my life around. 80 pounds later, life changed blah blah, you’ve likely heard the story.

But really, I’d like to talk about the person that I was before two years ago. This is a story I’ve been reluctant to really share in public, but I’m feeling lead to speak up today.

I was depressed.

I didn’t need a doctor to tell me that, and frankly, at the time I couldn’t afford a doctor to tell me that. I found complete escape in playing video games, and even though I could tell that something was wrong, help seemed unreachable.

I was unhealthy: physically, mentally, and certainly spiritually. For a while, the thought of God didn’t make any sense in me. How could there be someone above it all that knew my name, cared about my lunch preferences or actually has a plan for my life. I sat in worship just longing to feel ANYTHING while singing, but I just couldn’t connect. God was gone.

I loved my friends but on their first sign of being concerned with my health or well being, they were met with extreme cynicism and sometimes anger. I knew that I wasn’t “in shape” and you didn’t have to tell me about it.

I never had thoughts of suicide, but I probably wasn’t far from them. I’ve always been a futuristic minded person- ask anyone who’s talked StrengthsFinder with me, but at the time I couldn’t see myself living to 30. … Or if I’d even want to. (30 is October for me… YIKES!)

I should have gone for help, but I was stubborn. Really, I still am stubborn in just about everything, but that’s a double edged sword.

My wake up call came from a dream one October morning where I had drifted back asleep after my brother had tried to wake me up to go on a walk with his new puppy. I had partied all weekend for my birthday and needed some sleep, so stubborn-Dan was going to get his sleep. I drifted into that dream world where you’re certainly dreaming, but at the same time completely knowledgeable that you’re dreaming.

I was at the bottom of a hole. But I was looking at myself at the bottom of a hole. Stuck. Trapped. Didn’t look all that strong. Frail Even. I had this feeling and realization that it was my decision right then and there on whether or not I was going to get out. … I woke up and went to find my brother!

That wasn’t the end of the depression, but a few months later a friend had finally got me signed up with a gym membership, and I fell in love with working out.

The rest was history, right?

I shared a brief story about depression in church last year, I had a friend who had suffered from mental illness during much of his life pull me aside and say “Ok, so you pulled yourself out from the Bootstraps, but next time you might not be so lucky, call me if you’re ever feeling down like that again”

He’s right.

I’m not completely in the clear, I still have bad days, I still have days where I’m unsure of priorities, or I bounce mindlessly from one task to another, just working for work’s sake. The difference is that now I recognize it for what it is, and I force myself to lace up my shoes and get to the gym for my “treatment”

I find that when I go through periods of hectic deadlines one of the first things to get sacrificed is my time in the gym, or my diet. At least I know now and can reorient when the time is right.

January is a hard month for many of us — Suicide is most prevalent during this month. Google is telling me that the 3rd Monday of the January is the most depressing day of the year. If you are struggling, or are just feeing “off” don’t be afraid to speak up to somebody, any safe person will do. I’m available to listen but I’m not trained in any way.

I believe that we are here for a reason, that we’re all different for a reason, and that you’re uniquely GIFTED for a reason. Don’t tap out before it’s your time.

Trained help can be found here:
Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255
Veterans Suicide Hotline: 800-273-8255 press 1
Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233

adventure ,connection, and a picture of the good life.

This weekend, I was able to escape up to the Upper Peninsula with my cousin Matt to visit another cousin who lives in Escanaba. It was exactly what I needed.



and a reminder that life has so much to offer.

Lately I’ve been feeling the strain of the responsibilities that I’ve taken on, and parts of this trip allowed me to put things in a new perspective. That life can be taken a little slower, that there’s no shortage of people in this world, and that will always be another nook of this state, country and worl to explore.

But the trip almost didn’t happen. Our grandmother passed away last week, and we all wondered whether taking more time off work would be the best decision. Well- it was the best decision.

Marquette Ore Dock
via flickr User ThiloG

We spent saturday on a day trip through Marquette, where we explored a few breweries, schemed on how we could climb on the Ore Dock (see above) and discovered Michigan’s best kept secret: Presque Isle.

Presque Isle sits just outside Marquette, and one part of it’s coast is dominated by these huge black rocks (they look volcanic, but i’m not going to research it)

We took great joy in rediscovering scenes of boyhood and climbing all over the rocks. We found Adventure, and adventure found us.

At one point, Matt remarked that the whole experience made his heart feel full, and I completely agree. Actually, the whole weekend made me realize that, no matter what challenges I currently am working through, there’s so much good in this world.

adventure on the Black Rocks on Presque Isle
Joe and Matt

When the easy answers get harder and harder to give.

My family lost our grandmother early friday morning. It marked the first grand parent I had lost in my lifetime, and dealing with it hasn’t been easy.

At church yesterday, I experienced an outpouring of love that was good for the soul, but it started to bother me at how easily I was brushing off the loss of someone I loved.

My Grandmother was the most beautiful soul. We knew she was sick, and we knew that the end was coming (as all of ours is), but it doesn’t really make the loss any easier.

When I look back at memories, one of the things that sticks out to me most was just her ability to be present. She was the matriarch of a family of 8 kids, which meant that as her children went on to start families of her own, she was the Grandma to a large family. However as I look back to my high school days and my involvement in band, my grand parents were there at every band concert I can remember. They were there.

Over the last few years I’d have more opportunities to actually learn about who my Grandmother was. The stories of how her and my grandpa met is the kind that gets adapted for movies.

Her quick wit and competitive fire were some of the most intriguing things about her personality to me, and it was a blessing that these were parts of her that remained long into her fight for health.

She was one of my biggest cheerleaders. When I think about her, all i can hear is her voice saying “good for you.”

good for you!

because she was right. Accomplishments are meant to be celebrated, recognized and appreciated. mine or yours.

Loss hurts, life is precious. Hers was. Yours is. Mine is.

games: are you playing to win? Spectators don’t lose, but they never win.

2016 Dan: So I popped onto my all-to-often neglected website and looked thru my drafted posts, this one was one of few that was actually fully written out, and I don’t know why I wouldn’t have published it sooner. It’s about one of my favorite things. … games!

The biggest way to improve is to be in the game. I have a soft spot for overly cheesy sports analogies, and last week one really stuck out to me:

The only way to hit a homerun is by first swinging for the fences. If you miss, you miss hard, but you’re still swinging.

Also worth noting: I resisted the urge to edit/delete anything below.

men playing games

Consider games

With a game, are you more concerned with winning, or not losing.

There are two ways to not lose.
You can either win — you’ve risked losing in that case.
Or you can simply not play the game… I don’t think ties exist in a game.

But how do you actually benefit from a game?
What outcome allows you to benefit?
Playing the game.
Watching games doesn’t give you the same learning experience.
It’s safe, you don’t lose. But you also don’t stand to gain anything.

I’ve been a spectator for many things.
Michigan football is one of my favorite past times, I will watch every second of the games. But does watching it make me any better of a player? It might make me more aware of a player, but it doesn’t make me any better at playing, throwing, juking.

You can learn the intricacies of things by watching, but the most important skills of actually playing: the actual athleticism, isn’t something you can learn by watching.
You have to do it.
You have to attempt to win.

Here’s the thing, if you’re looking at a game as a learning experience, even losing offers more than losing.
What’s the problem with losing? You don’t get the benefit of winning? Well, you can only win by playing the game.

Lets evaluate what you’re doing. is there more value to you through winning, or is there more value to you by not losing?

There are days I’d rather not lose than win.
I’ll be hanging out with friends, and they’re about to start a game. I’ll politely bow out saying i’d rather watch. it’s hard to argue with it. What do you get with winning? Personal satisfaction/ but also, you’ve gained the skills to the game, the more you play, the better you get.

Any loser of a game will be better equipped to beat the spectators.

It’s my goal to learn the art of not not winning.

Not winning is both doing nothing and losing.

It’s all about seizing it.

How does that happen?



Facing rejection.


facing fears.

But ultimately, you’re owning up to what could happen. You’re facing the fact that it will happen. You’ve entered the game. It’s either win or lose. You’re not a spectator.

How do we get more people into the game.

First you have to define what the game is.

Time to go all in.

put your eggs in the basket.

But look at the bright side, if you’re looking for self development, you’ve got this.

I’m right along side you. ready to enter the game.

actually. the games have started.

lets do this!

How do we get into the game?

“We can start a business:
I’m doing that right now with five espressos.
Do I know anything about client acquisition? Nope. But I know a lot about wowing people. And this is going to be a creative way of doing it.
Do I know much about web design? well. … Nope. But man. I know a lot more about it than some people. It’s my job to help those people.


It’s not about being the best out there.

It’s about being the best to the people that know us.
That’s what success is all about. Find ways to help people. To teach people, to be accessible and help people achieve their goals.

That’s what five espressos is all about. It’s about waking up a part of you that was sleeping. It’s about waking up a part of you that you haven’t explored. It’s about realizing an energy you didn’t know was there.

So that’s what it takes.
this life is all about taking what you know, and putting it out there, you have an audience, and it’s time to learn more about it.

You can teach things to your audience, people beyond you don’t need to care. you aren’t speaking to them,
Do millionaires care much about personal finance blogs, or things worrying about getting out of debt? nope.
Do pro web designers hang around noob forums?

Do pro football players work out with high schoolers?

No, you speak to people at your level,
Maybe even a bit below.

people that will challenge you. to keep ahead, and motivate you by you motivating them.
So huge. this can work.