Biohacking Emotional Work

Day 211 and Laughter

I miss being able to enjoy time out in the world. You know that feeling when you’ve spent the last two hours at your favorite bar with your friends just talking about nothing? The ease that you feel being with your community and enjoying being together? The casual camaraderie and easy laughter that comes from no expectations time together has been lost to many of us. I miss it.

It doesn’t seem like those days are coming back for some of us in the near future. If I give too much thought to the impact of things like the pandemic I think I just spike my cortisol. That’s a stress hormone. The stress of reactivity is killing all of us. Constant panic over floods, heatwaves, outbreaks and all their downstream effects is overwhelming our capacity to live. And yes, granted a more globalized war with a changing climate is capable of killing us. But we don’t have to let futility do us in early. We can find our way into solutions. But only if we stay alive to do it.

I’ve been coping with apocalyptic nihilism by shitposting on Twitter. Yes I realize this is a popular upper class pundit class past time. I’ve got some self awareness. But it’s also the only thing that mimics being out socializing with your friends. And I think that’s worth a lot. Shitposting is good for the soul.

You don’t have to shitpost, but if you cannot find a way to lower your stress response, as we say in crypto, ngmi. Everything may be going to hell but you aren’t there yet. You’ve got a life to live, people to love and who love you, and a chance to be happy.

Fuck cortisol. It’s not good for you. That’s some metabolic poisoning eating away at you and you chose to let it kill you. There is no reason to give yourself unnecessary stress. Some stress is good. It makes you resilient. But stuff you opt into? Fuck that noise it’s only going to make you sick.

And despite whatever family trauma circuit you may be playing out in your head, YOU DO NOT DESERVE THAT SHIT. No I’m seriously disease and suffering aren’t a moral good. Everything might be rough but you need to find a laugh. It might just save your life.


Day 210 and Expensive Piss

I used to be pretty mixed on supplements. I was sure that good nutrition could get you everything you needed in terms of micronutrients. But I think that was naive. Agribusiness is hard on the soil, humans lean on packaged easy foods, and it’s quite hard to stick to a good diet everyday. Depending on your unique stresses, biochemistry, and genetics it’s possible you could use a little help.

I take a shit ton of supplements now and I’ve got very expensive piss. But I also feel a lot better so far I must be absorbing some of it. I track their impact with my biohacking stack. Here is my beginner’s guide to setting one up.

B Vitamins – best bang for your buck for energy. I take a liposomal methyl B complex in liquid form from Quicksilver. But I also like Pure Encapsulations Homocysteine Factors too.

Vitamin D – a proven winner that absolutely everyone should consider. I do 10,000 IU which is about 10x the recommended dose.

Minerals – Humans need calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride and sulfur. Plus trace minerals iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride and selenium. Don’t believe me? Harvard folks break it down. It’s actually a good synopsis. I personally get my trace minerals from Cellcor CT Minerals as I like liquids for fast absorption and bioavailability but this Pure Encapsulations Mineral 650 is pretty good.

Collagen – makes you look younger but apparently but it’s legit good for bone health. I haven’t cut my hair in almost a year, I look like a mermaid without any split ends.

CoQ-10 – tasty brain goodness. Consider combining it with some green tea. Mayo Clinic says it’s good for your heart and also maybe migraines (that’s why I take it)

Resveretrol – banger of an antioxidant, good evidence it’s an anti inflammatory that helps with aches for say rheumatoid issues. Polyphenols help you recover.

Magnesium – technically this is already in my minerals but I take an additional dose of magnesium glycinate an hour before bedtime.

This isn’t my entire stack but it’s the list of stuff that isn’t too esoteric, most people would benefit from, and won’t fuck you up. Obviously I’m not a doctor I’m just a hacker of my own body but if you want a place to start on supplements this is pretty good.

Chronic Disease Emotional Work

Day 209 and Synthesis

The only downside of spending a day intaking a significant body of knowledge is that it’s nearly is that it’s nearly impossible to do synthesis on it at the same time. I suppose this holds true for new emotions as well. Synthesis and understanding takes time.

I’ve been on a tear working through how I feel on a number of topics just as I’m trying to ingest a new body of knowledge. I’ve got some inklings of where I will net out on all of it but it’s still a gut feeling. Any capable articulation that will be external to myself will require some synthesis. I can’t tell you what I’m on about as I don’t yet know.

And while I’ve set personal deadlines for continuous daily writing I cannot simply apply willpower to everything. In other words, I can force myself to write today it’s not possible to force sense on it. The synthesis hasn’t arrived even if the force of daily habit has.

It’s not that I’m admitting defeat on willpower, I’m sure I’ll be able to push my understanding over time. But expecting it today is probably a lost cause. The spirit may be willing but my wetware is fragile.

Fragility is of course one of my life companions this year. I’ve had to face that life is cheap and it’s simply not possible to worry about everyone. I have to sacrifice some of my own goals in order to keep myself alive. I suppose it’s not always a choice, except in that I’ve chosen to live and not die. That’s a choice.

But how I fortify and defend myself against the realities of biology, cultural frustration and freedom is in the end up to me. The pandemic has brought this home in a particularly acute way. Forced choices on us all, but particularly the vulnerable.

But I suppose I’m done trying to protect myself and gain ground. It’s going to be one or the other. It is time to take some risks even knowing that it will harm me. I’m recalculating what kind of destabilizing my body can take in the face of societal exhaustion. But the emotional synthesis of knowing consequences and having made a choice in freedom isn’t done in a day.

Emotional Work Internet Culture

Day 208 and Boundaries

It’s fairly common to struggle with boundaries. The desire to come through for everyone is strong, but not half so strong as the fear that if you set a firm boundary, then no one will accept you for where you are and what you want. What if love is only ever available on someone else’s term? This is a terrible fear straight from our inner child.

We’ve turned loyalty into a obligation test. But how perverse is that? “If you love them, set it free” is a culturally touchstone for a reason. We want the freedom of choosing our the loyalty that works for us. And we know each demonstration of loyalty means nothing if it wasn’t in consideration of the other person’s boundaries, needs and desires.

I suppose this hit me today because I’ve been astonished to see athletes like Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles holding their boundaries firm. They loyalty to sports, their countries and to us as fans only matters if it’s given freely and with joy. They owe us nothing, so when they do perform as their most elite selves, it’s what’s most beautiful and courageous thing. It’s a feat without ego. Those victories come in freedom.

Prioritizing one’s boundaries and well-being doesn’t need any apology or explanations or attempts to change yourself to fit another, if someone requires obligation on their terms it’s natural to feel invaded.

It’s the most loving thing in the world to set out what you actually want and need. It’s always the right thing to do. We don’t own each other. We each get to choose what’s best for us. And that fear we won’t be loved if we stand firm? Let it go. We always feel safest and most cared for when we know what we are offering is genuinely wanted.

Chronic Disease

Day 207 and Doxycycline

I don’t have a thesis or a point in mind so I’m just going to get started and ramble. I’ve felt like shit for most of July. Must have picked up some kind of infection on top of my usual bullshit autoimmune nonsense. I finally caved and asked my doctor if I could just try good old fashioned doxycycline. Six hours later I felt like a million bucks.

Sometimes it’s the simple shit that makes a difference. I don’t know if that is an Occam’s razor thing but I’m a little pissed that just tossing an old faithful antibiotic at me did the trick. But then I could be throwing some cool bias at this problem and be equating a bunch of causality that just isn’t there. Humans are prone to that.

Like did you know Occam’s razor was actually a justification for miracles? No shit. Occam was a friar and so into simplicity that he figured God was the easiest explanation. It absolutely blows my mind that there are logicians out there who will stomp on complex answers and holler “Occam’s razor” on your ass when the dude was saying my bias says probably miracles because that’s easier.

I don’t have anything more useful to say than that but this meets my daily criteria to write something every single day. So I’m calling it. Maybe tomorrow will be better. Which it might be because doxycycline!

Aesthetics Preparedness

Day 206 and Summer Storms

When I was a kid it was considered common knowledge to “get off the mountain” before the afternoon thundershowers. Along the front range of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, the afternoon or evening storm is a mainstay of summer. A quick occasionally terrifying show of nature in all her glory.

Lightning in Rocky Mountain National Park

One minute the sky is clear and the summer heat is bearing down on you, and the next torrential rains with lightning and thunder cracking one after the other explode. Temperatures can drop 20 degrees in as many minutes. The wind is the first sign a storm is bearing down on you. A reminder why it’s wise to pack layers and be prepared with rain gear even on the sunniest day.

I personally love the storms. The relief from the heat is welcome. But it’s more than comfort. It’s the emotions that come with something so powerful bearing down on you. The smell of ozone permeates the air. The excitement and fear from needing to get to safety when the first signs of a storm moving in snow themselves.

Most Coloradan that hike have high country lightning safety training to rely on, but it doesn’t make those bursts of light any less terrifying. The hairs standing on end a visceral reminder why the god of thunder featured so heavily in mythology. The power on display is clear. Thunder clapping as lightning strikes a reminder that you are in the middle of a power that has no interest in you. It just exists.

But like a god, natural phenomena is capricious. As quickly as a mountain storm blows in it blows out. The clouds part. Sun shines through. The occasional rainbow will cross a valley. I just watched a downpour from the safety of my house in the foothills. I guess I still know to be off the mountain before the storm comes. It was a beautiful mesmerizing twenty minutes of rain, lightning, hail and thunder. And then it was gone

Emotional Work

Day 205 and Saying It Outloud

No one would accuse me of being keeping my opinions to myself. I generally say what I mean and mean what I say. I find filtering my thoughts to be exhausting. It’s not that I think manners are not important. I think it can often be a great kindness not to blurt out every thought. Being considerate and not imposing your every thought onto others is part of living in society. But I’m learning that you have to be clear about who you are. Keeping your truth inside will kill your soul.

So it has come as a surprise to me that I am keeping a lot to myself. Mostly emotional and personal things. I still generally go straight to taking a public stand on politics, professional topics and cultural issues. But there are areas where I just don’t have that bravery. Where I haven’t uttered how I really feel to anyone.

I’m working through how to discuss some of these truths out loud. How does it feel to tell friends and family that I just don’t have the same desires, preferences, or mores as they do? Generally I’ve found acceptance. Even some of the more “out there” stuff has been ok. No one has rejected me. If anything people loved me because of it and not in spite of it.

Obviously I’m not in a place where I want to broadcast most of it in public. But I’m slowly realizing that saying things out loud makes me happier. To know my own truth and have it be clear is a great relief. Especially for areas where I feared it might implode my life. Or where it might hurt someone I love.

If you’ve got a truth you are keeping close to your heart consider sharing it with those you’ve already trusted with your heart. If they genuinely love you for you they don’t want you changing yourself to fit some idea of what they want. You may be causing suffering to yourself for nothing. The editing of desires, goals or preferences only limits your life.

Emotional Work

Day 204 and Saying Hard Things

I’ve had to have a number of emotional conversations with people I care about recently. We’ve had miscommunications, failures, admissions, and changes in relationships both personal and professional.

Initially I was worried once it became clear I had to have “that conversation” where unsaid or unspoken truths couldn’t remain that way. I suppose it’s natural to fear sharing hard things with those we love. But avoiding the temptation to “not hurt their feelings” is not right path. It is always more hurtful to obfuscate or be avoidant.

In each of these conversations, I felt utterly unprepared. I cycled through shame, regret, sadness, fear, hurt, embarrassment until I had said my piece. Even if was crying in a few instances, once I got over the fear, the relief washed over me. I felt loving and joyful. Peaceful and lighter in my soul that I had owned the range of feelings & failures with honesty.

We know in our hearts before our minds what needs to be said. If you are struggling with a hard conversation or a relationship that needs truth to be spoken, summon you the courage to do it. Facing our self limiting beliefs and the mental blockers that keep us from having the life we want is always worth it. You can do it.


Day 203 and Living Rent Free in Our Heads

There are two kinds of startup teams. The ones that forgive each other, and the ones that don’t. If you are very lucky, everyone forgives each other in time. But for the ones that can’t forgive each other, the pain of the experience is a curse. Your failures and weaknesses live in each others’ heads rent free. And that sucks.

I understand how the curse of the unforgivable startup sins get cast. I understand the pain of having people in your life that you cannot imagine forgiving because their sins against you feel too big. Startups are exactly the kind of place where forgiving seems impossible. Why? Building something new is painful.

New life, new business, new art. It hurts to birth something from nothing. Those laws of thermodynamics seem to indicate that energy doesn’t get made or lost, so sure, getting an idea to come into reality has to have an energy cost that comes from somewhere. I’d argue with startups it comes from our will. Maybe our soul. If you aren’t into that then money and time. It has a cost is what I’m saying and we pay it. And when we feel we’ve paid those costs unfairly it’s hard to forgive those whom we blame.

When you’ve given so much of yourself to make a new reality, the pain of it not succeeding is real. It hurts to realize we’ve failed. To come headfirst at the possibility that your sacrifice was for nothing is existential. That the energy you took to build something was for nothing.

With existential problems you’ve got two choices. Face who you are and your part in it or blame it on someone else. It is a lot harder to own existential yourself. If we are feeling like a victim there are people who we can blame. We hired wrong. We had cofounder issues. We couldn’t collaborate well. We had cultural mismatches.

There are endless reasons our failures are shared. And it’s true. Failure never has a single point. It wasn’t just you. But it’s not your cofounder or your teammates fault either. You have to forgive them. They have to forgive you. If you don’t they will live in your head rent free forever. And no one wants that. Find a way to forgive. Find a way to own your own existential failures. It’s not worth losing people over.

Finance Startups

Day 202 and Show Me Anything

I’m lucky to see work from founders at the very earliest stages. If you have a problem you are solving for chaotic world I’m generally interested in seeing it even if it’s just in the idea phase. But you have to show me you’ve got a plan to build a product. Any product is fine. Just show me something! Show me how you have the capacity to build even if you suck at it.

Bobby Goodlatte captured some of the sentiment I feel on the subject well with this exasperated Tweet.

What’s a “builder”? Show me something. Anything. Just show me one pixel you’ve created. That’s what a builder is. That’s why PM’s don’t qualify.

Sometimes it can feel hard to build something, anything, when you are very experienced. This is a problem I’ve seen across all kinds of impressive people. Academics, government folks and higher end finance folks, former c-suite executives. They know what good looks like so anything they can physically make with their own two hands will all look like crap.

I’d even go so far as to suggest there is an inverse relationship between how much you obfuscate your lack of existing product and your credentials. There are other corollaries on that basic theme. How comprehensible your product is right now is inversely related to how extensive your service layer is at the moment.

I see a lot of brilliant, extremely credentialed people solving big problems, but because making money is important they will pitch what amount to service companies without an existing product. But they will use extensive jargon and hand waving visionary opportunities to hide the fact that there isn’t any product layer yet. Which is weird because like eventually I’ll find out right? You wouldn’t want to trick your investors on the state of play.

I’d encourage you to stop trying to hide that fact. Don’t be embarrassed that you can’t make things to your standards. None of us can. New things always look like shit. Just own up to that reality and you will find more help from folks who will want to help make it better. Stop showing me CAGR and TAM and possibilities as a way of hiding that you haven’t built a product yet. It’s ok. You don’t need to have built something great yet.

Admit it. Show me some wireframes and a roadmap. I’ll take that way more seriously. In fact, I’ll probably overweight you showing me exactly what you do have and how you plan to use funds to improve it. That’s how much startup people value just building the damn thing.