How to Climb Out Of Your “Rock Bottom”!

Before I got to where I am now in life, I had to claw myself out of “rock bottom” and through the gates of homelessness, into a new world. This new place was an alien world from what I was used. Seven years of my life were spent hiding from everything and everyone in the world. Why? Because I was freaked out by what I saw. As an introvert, the real world was scary and I never had the desire to step into being a part of it. I used every excuse I could think of not to be a part of it, and if I had to, it sucked.

Naturally, a lack of effort and being a sort of hermit, I would end up with nothing. No possessions, no money, no job, no home, and no passion for life. I even had zero skills. I couldn’t hammer a nail, I couldn’t drive because my license was revoked because I didn’t care to pay my fines, and there was no money to even try. The only thing I had going for me was the hidden use of my mind which I was unaware of. Eventually, I got fed up with being sick, broke, and homeless and wanted to change my life. That little spark of light was enough to engulf my existence with flames of fury that were burning inside, ready for war. Ready to change the game and become something more than a rock bottom dweller.

Really, I was pathetic. I let my insecurities and introversion take me into a deep dark world of laziness and depression. I was literally left with nothing until I got a second chance. I remember being embarrassed to talk to women, to go out in public, to see old friends from high school, and to even attempt to work. My Aunt gave me a place to stay for my second chance and when I found a job, she had to drive me. I was digging ditches and carrying paving blocks all day from trucks to patios, uphill, downhill, and all sorts of other back breaking work. One thing I never lost was the ability to get the job done. Even though I hated “doing”, I could work for hours and hours with the best of the best and never give up.

Making seven bucks an hour cash to do landscape work started it all. Now, when I see people bitch and moan over the poor hand they seem to have been dealt, I understand what they’re going through. I know what it’s like to be dead broke and not know if you’ll make the car insurance bill or rent this month. The embarrassment I felt drove me to not being happy with my situation and, some of the people I met along the way drilled into me that it was nobody’s fault but my own, and I had to do the work to get out of it.

Climbing out of rock bottom is never easy. I cried so many nights from the pain it caused. The emotional turmoil, the mental hurricanes blowing at gale force speed throughout my broken mind, and the physical pain that was manifested from all the inner anger and depression. Life never seemed to be something I enjoyed. The cliff always seemed to be the best place to jump and end it all and wake up in another world at another time, hopefully in a clearer and more abundant pasture.

These are life experiences so many people go through in today’s world. We’re tackled and chained by our ego and paralyzed by fear. But, it doesn’t have to be like this and the experiences I’ve been through, as I now understand, where dealt with so I can walk out with my head held high and to help other people stuck in the grips of depression, sadness, boredom, loneliness, and lack of passion.

Climbing out of rock bottom takes hard work. So hard that when I was bursting through mountains of improvement I would cry myself to sleep, cry in the shower, cry while driving home, and cry at the thought that maybe I wasn’t good enough or meant to be survivor or fighter. It took tremendous amount of self-esteem, self-confidence, long nights, and excruciating pains to get out of that hole. The effects, still felt to this day.

Even though it’s hard work, you can do it. When someone gets to a breaking point like what I went through, a new person emerges after the battle of thoughts and then, the work begins. Everyone reaches a point where the situation of their life needs to change and they desperately want that change. It’s here that you need to get your “ducks in a row” and take action, because nobody else is going to do it. It’s in your hands.

Here are a few ways to climb out of rock bottom and crush life..

1. Recognize the problem

So, my problem was extremely deep and something I may never get into. Although I was locked in my own little world and afraid to face reality, there was more than meets the eyes. One day, I woke up under a bridge for the last time because I finally recognized the problem. I saw what was happening and even though I knew for a long time, I didn’t want to accept it’s truth. Find out what is causing you to be faced with a rock bottom situation or just a situation you no longer want to deal with, like being 40 pounds overweight or a failing businessman. See it as a problem. Feel it as a problem and then..

2. Recognize the pain

Pain is hard. Emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual pain can cripple you and sometimes it leaves people with feelings of no other choice but to exit reality. Recognize what pain is created from the problem you’re experiencing and then make it your mission to do whatever needs to be done to overcome that pain and become bigger than those problems. Once you realize what is causing you pain, in whatever form, you can begin to take daily steps to climb above it. For example, when I found myself homeless under a bridge the pain of being a complete loser became unbearable. Seeing my family members and old friends living happy and abundant lives destroyed my heart. It got to the point where I made a vital decision to try another day and walk into town. Knowing I was at rock bottom hurt me so bad that I knew it had no room to be that way in my life. I recognized the problem, I recognized the pain and I recognized the need to

3. Make a Plan

I had no clue what I was going to do. My “network” was empty. My pockets had holes in them. My clothes worn out and my body broken. But I knew there had to be something more for me in my life and I knew the pain of my problems was too great to ignore. So I made the plan to try another day. That was it. My plan was to survive this day and then when tomorrow came, to survive that day. As time went on and things started happening, my plans became greater and greater and now I’m light-years away from where I started. See where you are right now and what problem you’re facing. Feel the pain and accept it as real and that work needs to be done to get through it and eliminate the pain. Then, get some paper and write out a plan. In my case, there was nothing to write except “Secure shelter, food and water”. Making a plan doesn’t need to be extensive. It can be as simple as what I wrote or another example, “Apply for at least one job today”.

Everybody has a different situation, different pain, and their plans will all reflect this difference. Use this three step process to begin the journey of climbing out of your “Rock Bottom”. In the near future I’ll be releasing more posts about overcoming life struggles and how to use the problems, pains, and plans to improve your situation and live the way of your true authentic self.

28 Things You Might Not Know About Me.

This is a post I had saved in my drafts for quite awhile. I finally decided to publish it to let you in on a little of who I am, what I’ve done, where I’ve been and some other useless ramble. Once you’re finished reading this, I’d love to hear something about you. So comment below when you’re done.

This is me. The me you might not know:

1. My wife and I pretty much pinned the tail on the donkey (a map) as to where we were going to move when we got married. We decided on the Hackettstown area with no real reason other than I thought it was a nice place. I knew only two people who lived in the area.

2. I once wrote a short novel on an alien abduction and an inter galactic battle that ensued as a result. It was lost in a flood.

3.  I’m afraid of meeting new people. When people come to gym, usually scared to start and come in, I’m more afraid than they are.

4. I can out read most people any day of the week. I finished roughly 200 books in the past year and a half. Reading. On audio, another 200 or more. I have a bookshelf packed with books and have stacks all over my house.

5. I’m writing two new books.

6. I trained my dog in less than 2 weeks to understand everything I wanted of him. However, I can’t cut his nails. He won’t let me.

7. I made 14 episodes of a podcast (The Awake and Alive Podcast), each about 20 minutes long, and then deleted them.

8. A couple of weekends ago I wrote 30 new drafts of short blogs and deleted most of them. I feel people won’t understand me.

9. I used to eat Met-Rx bars in the back room at the A&P grocery store when I worked there and drank most of their chocolate milk. Never paid for it.

10. I never answer the phone unless it’s family. If I do I feel like jumping off a bridge.

11. I own 45 web domains. I have no idea why.

12. I believe there is a reason I cross paths with everyone I meet. If they stay longer than 5 minutes, in some way, I’ll change their life without even trying. Shaman Jedi Warrior Ninja Style.

13. Inside my heart I cried like a 2 year old baby girl when I got married and nearly shit my pants hiding it.

14. I was once fired by two different landscapers because of severe seasonal allergies. I couldn’t work because I sneezed every 3 seconds. Usually my allergies leave me feeling like a zombie for much of the late spring and early summer.

15. I worked as a Homemade Ice Cream maker. When I was 15 I worked at Here’s The Scoop and immediately took over the job of making all of their homemade ice cream. Several other ice cream stores around New Jersey started buying it because I kicked ass doing it. I also have worked as a Lowe’s Landscape Sales Associate, got hired at a Kohl’s and never went, worked as a Macy’s Customer Pick Up and Overall peon. Most of the time I would take the radio and go to the movies. Three a night sometimes. I also worked as a lighting store sales rep, driver, receiver, and decorator.

16. A psychic medium once told me out of the blue not to close my eyes when “they came”. She told me I’m stronger than “them” and they just want my help. No, I’ll never help them and I will close my eyes. Thank you.

17. I’m a huge daydreamer and I’m often a million miles away in outer space. I snap “out of it” hundreds of times a day.

18. I saved a cow’s life one day when I was peach picking with my wife at a local farm. This infant cow was choking on a peach that someone threw towards it and I stuck my hand in his mouth and saved him. Also saved a goat stuck in a fence that same day. It most likely would have broke it’s neck fighting it if I hadn’t got him out. Maybe. #Hero

19. When I started college I went for criminal justice. My friend’s dad called me a narc and I quit the next day. Never went back to college again.

20. At the time I crashed under the bridge for a few weeks I caught fish with just line, a hook, and left over “powerbait” that I’d find lying around the ground.

21. I helped deliver my daughter Hannah. The midwife actually assisted me in the final stages of the delivery. I was shocked that I acted so quickly and said yes to doing it. Coolest thing I’ve ever done.

22. When I was about 20 years old, my lifelong friend, neighbor, former co-worker, and best bud Mike was murdered in a hospital. This among other events around the time ultimately led me to living a reclusive life and “checking out” of this world.

23. I’m a huge introvert. I’m shy, awkward, and nervous in many situations. I need alone time to de-stress and can hide away forever, like a hermit. Think Thoreau in the woods.

24. I’m an avid fisherman. I love to fish every chance I get. Yet, I only go two or three times a year. I would go everyday if I could. (See #23)

25. I have published over 300 blog posts across the internet. Most have been viewed 10 times or less.

26. Back in the day I wanted to own a campground. I grew up camping all the time. It was a big dream of mine to have a family, live on a huge piece of land, and have a family campground.

27. I was once able to write over 120 words a minute. With my two index fingers. Now I’m around 100.

28. I love Spam. Haven’t had it in awhile.. but Nom Nom Nom!!

Bonus Thingy You Might Not Know About Me:

Something I’m hugely passionate about and what makes me “tick” is the desire to help people improve their lives. No matter what I can do to help someone, I’ll do it. My purpose, my passion, my motivation is in helping people become the best person they can be.

Now… tell me something I don’t know about YOU!

 

 

A Lesson in “Doing the Work”.

This has proven to be quite hard recently. I’ve had much trouble trying to get things out of my mind and onto your screen. Most of my attention lately, when it comes to writing, has been shifted to my gym’s page at www.hackettstownfitness.com and on that gym page’s email newsletter. Even still, it has been quite like a form of torture. The words are dragging and the fight to release the tension inside the mind and veins has been nearly crippling. It’s been several weeks since my last post. I’m ready for something more, something new.

The problem is, I haven’t got the slightest clue what I want to write about. I enjoy helping people change their lives through fitness and motivation. At the Activate Fitness page there are over 200 posts on diet, exercise, and mindset. I can go back and tighten them up, switch a few pieces of work here and there, and make a new post- but that’s boring. It doesn’t need the muse and doesn’t fit the fancy of the pleasure I get from writing.

The other day I tried an exercise to get the words flowing. I had no idea what I was writing about, except, in the back of my mind- the exact idea of what to write about. Here is what came out in it’s first draft…

“Stuffed up, stuck, crazy and unknown. Blank, dark, hot or cold. The world is rough. The streets are tough. Life isn’t a game, it’s a challenge. Face your fears or face the consequences. Broke, tired, bored, lonely, poverty stricken. Shame. Unknown thoughts and dreams spun around like a crazy web of gooey substances. Dark lights and Hammered Angels. Rides to the park, not in the dark, cold and wet, sunny and humid. Faced the consequence, fell to my feet. Knees buckled, people laughed, tired.. of being sick and tired. Poor me, poor shoes. Poor me, poor foods. It’s not my fault you see. Blind as a bat. It’s the man. Striking his hand. Fists to the face. Floored with emotions. Longing for more. Will it ever be?”

A work of writer’s block and an exercise to find the muse and get back to work. To help those who need a lift, an inspiration, help they may not find elsewhere. Pure subconscious firing out of the void as you can see the words “The world is rough. The streets are tough.” For it once was in my life like that and life is indeed a challenge. We’re here to learn something, whatever it is, and it’s our job to face the challenge and keep moving ever so slightly forward until we find out.. why?

Facing your fears is a must if you hope to evolve. Without facing them, you will surely find that the world is rough and the streets are tough. I once fell a victim to my fears. Who am I kidding? Once? Ha. Try once a day, maybe even once an hour. But when those particular fears were victorious over my true self and became friends with Mr. Ego, it was easy to lay down defeated. I hid my passions, I hid my knowledge, and I hid in the darkest of all pits, smack dab on Rock Bottom.

Unknown thoughts spun around like a crazy web. Writer’s block. Mental exhaustion. The muse is on vacation. Or is it the writer, the hand in charge, finding an excuse to just not sit down and do the work? Steven Pressfield says to put your ass where your heart is and right now, it is, but it’s a lot more difficult than many can imagine. Steven King demands one to two thousand words a day, on paper, regardless of what is going on in life. Resistance, as Pressfield calls it, seems to win much more often than the Muse. A war of wits, passion, patience, commitment and doing the work.

How can the Muse defeat Resistance when all he or she wants to do is kick back on the island, smoking a fat Cuban, with a Corona in hand?

“Poor me, poor shoes. Poor me, poor foods.” Another glimpse of the deep subconscious. When I let resistance win and let fear over take my life I allowed the consequences of my actions to destroy me. What came out of the deep mind in those eight words was recollection of when I had no job or money and my sneakers were basically falling apart. The same time when my meals were 99 cent bags of Doritos or a frozen meal for about the same cost. But why would it come out so many years later? What is the subconscious, or maybe even the muse, trying to tell me?

Sounds insane and like a bunch of flubber bullshit but the fact remains that I keep making excuses for NOT sitting down and writing. Every time I do, I keep making excuses as to “Not knowing what to write about.” But this time was different. I had no idea what I wanted to blog about, but I just let it flow. It seems that when resistance has a strong hold of your work, it suffers a lot.. until you actually fight back and just act like a fool.

This doesn’t mean much, but I do believe there is a lesson in this 15 minutes I have sat down in front of the computer. The lesson seems to be that deep inside the subconscious mind there is a whole world of content, of art, of powerful words and memories that want to come out. I feel an isolation tank visit is in order to try and file all of the thoughts into some neat drawers. I think I know where I go forward from here with the writing I find so hard to let go of. My past, the story of who I was, where and how deep I went, and why I decided to crawl out has a powerful message for others. It’s time to let go of the fear of ridicule or looking like an ass. It’s time for me to let you know who I truly am and what I was, but hated and despised.

15 minutes and a whole new vision was released. I said my prayer to the muse before I started and they didn’t let me down. I see you’re back from your vacation. It was a long trip, I hope you stay for awhile.

Here is a post I wrote the other day I never really published: The Muse is on Vacation

The Day I Became Homeless

As a kid growing up we used to frequent my Grandmother’s house. It was a home stuck in the 1950′s. Linoleum roll out floors with a green hue, a range oven with a pull string fan on the wall, blue carpet that seemed like it was always brand new, and the furniture… The one couch in her house had to be 50 years old. But it too, looked brand new. Her dinnerware was white with gold and brown designs and not one piece had a chip. My grandfather and her used to sleep in separate beds, no bigger than a twin size each. In the basement, where my brothers and I would generally spend our time, were my Grandfathers tools. He was an electrician who had thousands of different tools, screws, nails, and pipes of all sizes. On his workbench were pieces of paper like an oversized dollar bill which we would use as fake cash when we pretended it was a hardware store.

The garage was simple. Buick about 30 years old with 10,000 miles on one side and a grease and oil stained workspace in the other bay. A mower, a bucket, and a few gardening tools were all that took the space. I remember one time hanging out in the garage, with my brothers pretending we had an auto shop, when I slammed my thumb in the riding mower. Took the nail clear off. Ouch.

My grandmothers home was minimalist in nature. Simple, easy to navigate, effective, and clean. Not so much comfortable in my opinion. I could never find a chair or way of lounging there that made me feel relaxed. It was a proper home. Sit up straight, elbows off the table, keep shit clean or else!

I tell you this because throughout my life it never changed. NEVER. From as far back as I can remember until the last day it was part of our family, it looked and felt the same.

It was 2006 when I went to live with my grandmother. She had taken a bad fall and needed help and I wanted to change my situation. I was a free loading, lazy, worthless person who wanted no responsibility and nothing more than to just hide out of sight. The perfect moment came when I decided to go stay with her. Nobody to tell me what to do, how to do it, and not a care in the world.

Basically, I took advantage of the situation. I made my nest in the upstairs bedroom that was very bland. Hardwood floors, white walls, a bed too big to be a twin but too small to be a queen, a wooden end table with a single lamp, and a wooden dresser with maybe 3 drawers. It looked as if it was built the day before and furnished that morning, with relics of the 50′s.

During my time spent hiding out in her home I worked briefly at a lighting store, got fired, and acquired a warrant for my arrest. Fun times. The St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series and a friend of mine, a huge fan, watched the game with me on a black and white Television with rabbit ears catching the signal from space. I stole checks from her and forged my father’s name so I can eat and go hang out with friends. Sometimes I’d go downstairs and sit and watch the Yankees game with my Grandmother. She couldn’t see the game but could hear it. The television was too small for her to see and the people in most other shows spoke too quickly for her to understand. It was perfect for her. I wonder if she even liked the ballgame?

As the days rolled along and my grandmother was moved into an assisted living facility, the house went up for sale. I knew my time was limited, but for some odd reason I chose to ignore that. Never did I think, “What am I going to do when the house sells?” I thought I’d stay there, always, like a stuck pig.

In time, my father had an estate sale, a dumpster in the driveway to throw out the relics of the past, and he stopped coming by as often as he did. The furniture was gone, the furnace turned off, the dishes gone, the kitchen table sold. Nothing left except my sleeping bag, a milk crate, and that black and white TV.

Being unemployed there was nothing for me to do, so I thought. To pass time I would read the bible. But why did I allow time to pass? Just like that? No resistance, no future thinking, just the here and now with no motivation or desire. Spending a good year in that home I should have been working on getting my stuff in line and setting up my future. Problem is, I never thought about it. I just did what I had always done and didn’t give a fuck.

Then the day came, warrant still active, that my Father took the key, told me to leave, and the house transferred ownership through the closing. An era of family locked away with the turn of the key. For many years our family lived there. Good times and bad times. We used to spend New Year’s Eve there with my grandparents when my parents went and partied the night away. Always never making it to see the ball drop. We used to ride on my grandfather’s lap as he mowed the lawn and when the cicadas came, we played with the shells. It was sad to see that house go.

When I was told my time was up I had not a clue of what to do. My car became my home and I will never forget that day. The day I told myself I was homeless.

Impossible

I remember the days when I used to live out of my car. It wasn’t much fun. Some days I would be allowed to crash on a friend’s couch and other nights were spent at a highway motel where every other motel guest was a drug user, an over the road trucker, a man or woman secretly cheating on their significant others, or someone near the end of the path towards their own manifested rock bottom.

Everything I owned was stashed in my car. Inside I had a few boxes with clothes, some baseball cards I hoarded in case shit hit the fan and I needed to pawn them, magazines, and some other items I collected along the way. Nothing in there really mattered to me much. The stuff was much like what we have today in our homes. Useless garbage taking up shelf space or storage space. It was easy to let it go.

What wasn’t easy was where to go, when to eat, and how to get out of this mess I was in. Or, do I even care to get out of the mess? At points, it definitely would have been easier to just give up and let nature do it’s work on a lifeless soul. There was no passion or purpose pushing me forward, so what good was I to society?

But inside there was clearly something more, and while I hated much of existence, I knew the entire time “better” was down the road somewhere.

When my car was taken away from me, everything inside went with it. At that time, I was left with the clothes on my back, the shoes on my feet. I had zero dollars in my pocket, no bank account, and the network of friends who kept me alive was running thin.

I used to live out of my car. Now, I own a home and a gym. I never thought it was possible, but then again, I never said it was impossible.

I always knew that if I took one step at a time something would happen and maybe I’d get somewhere.

Diving into the grind much of us are in changed my life for the better. Before that time I never knew what truly hard work and grinding away at a goal was about. I laughed at people who worked hard. Now, with nothing to do, no cash, and no idea of what to do the game changed and I was forced to make things happen.

When you’re left with no money and no job many tasks will seem to be impossible. Goal setting was new to me and like an overly anxious high school boy looking for his first kiss, I set some very tough goals. Obviously they weren’t plausible at the time because they never happened but the possibility was always there and still is.

Going from zero cash to a wedding, a home, and a new car is hard for me to comprehend as I look back. Often I’ll still find myself acting like the homeless couch hopper I once was. Grabbing extra napkins or soap from a bathroom at the hotel. Picking up pennies here or quarters there and taking extra bottles of water or things like mini ketchup jars from seminars I attend.

Throw a business into the mix and 7 years ago people would have said “Impossible.”

Nah, possible.. but the grind and hard work are beyond the scope and will of many. It takes a certain level of determination and a grinder attitude to get things to happen. Commitment is vital for without it failure is the only outcome.

Fighting tooth and nail for one dollar, one step, one email, one phone call, one “lucky” break has made it all possible. Never giving up and accepting failure along the way.

It’s not easy.

It takes time..

But with a certain mental attitude.. anything is possible.

From A Homeless Loser to A Home and Business Owner.

In my twenties, a good portion of the decade, I spent too much time living as homeless person. I didn’t actually live much on the streets but it was a lifestyle of couch hopping, living out of a suitcase, and hoarding whatever meant anything to my life in my car. Jeans with grass stains and old sneakers basically falling apart, a t-shirt two sizes too big as I wore the same contact lenses for several years straight.

During this time I didn’t have any money. No savings or checking account and part of the time, no job. The hustle and flow of life when you’re broke and homeless is a struggle both mentally and physically. I remember eating the cup of noodle soups for dinner, skipping breakfast, maybe getting a few things off the dollar menu for lunch, and Frozen TV dinners were consumed the most. If I even ate three meals in a day. Sometimes it was only 1 and here and there I went hungry because there was no food.

All of the actions of my past led me to the pit I was in and I take full responsibility for going down that path. When I finally realized I was homeless and a total loser it was time for a change. Luckily I went to the right that decisive day and my life changed for the better.

I often find myself still living the hard life of being broke and homeless. It’s not something you ever forget and my turn to a minimalist style life is easier than it is for most people. Having nothing and not needing anything makes it easy to live the simple honest life.

When things started turning around, and I was working, my life progressively got easier as well. There was no worry about where I’d sleep, what I’d eat, if I ate at all, and I had money. Money truly isn’t needed for our survival but unfortunately society is tied around it like pigs in a blanket and we need it when we don’t live as mountain men. I was forced to play the game.

Within a few months of my life getting back on track I met the most important woman ever in my life. My now wife Jamie. We met at a bar during the after party of a going away party for mutual friends. Her beauty and smile smacked me across the face as I noticed her walk in that night and my life as I knew it would never be the same. There was something magical about her and how she helped turn me into a driven man with a purpose. I’d never sleep on the streets again.

As our relationship became more involved and our love for each other grew the discussion of marriage and owning a home came into the picture. I freaked out. Owning a home was something I thought I would never do and getting married was a cardinal sin of the pact I made with my homeless self years ago. It’s funny how easy a woman’s eyes can change your mind and melt your heart. Sucker punched with a lovely smile and a fulfilling hug.

To get married and buy a home, I needed more money and after a few words with her father and other people close to me, is was clear my lazy ass had to fire up the turbocharger and get to work. My first second job was in the outdoor section at Lowe’s in Hillsborough, NJ and as I worked almost 80 hours a week for several months I learned a tough lesson.

If you want something, you have to go get it. Nobody will bring you anything you desire. If it’s worth it to you, you’ll find a way. Under our skin is something more than we’ll ever understand and we are truly capable of so much more. At first the two jobs was easy and I was coasting through each day with a determination to make as much money as I could so we can buy our future home. But as time drew closer to our wedding and with everything else life was throwing our way, it got to me and I cracked, but not without learning some important lessons about work ethic and attitude.

I left the Lowe’s job right before the wedding and through that experience I learned what hard work is, how we can do so much more with a little more effort, and that anything I wanted to accomplish in my life was all possible with my own dedication and persistent consistency.

Before the purchase of our home and our wedding I began a little bit of soul searching as I wanted to find my passion and purpose in life. Coming from a past where High School was a huge joke, with no college education, and years out of the workforce living an almost reclusive lazy life, my skill sets were zero. The only thing I could do well was use my body for manual labor. Digging ditches, shoveling, raking, laying brick, and spreading mulch was about the only thing I knew how to do.

What I ended with was something I thought about as a 14 year old day dreamer when I worked out in the basement at my childhood home. When it was time to lift, I was alone, but never truly “alone”. There was always something going on as it wasn’t a basement gym, it was Corona’s Gold’s Gym and quite a few people trained hard alongside of me, even as figments of imagination. I remember saying one day when I was lifting doing 100 rep Barbell Rows with 40 pounds that one day I’d own my own gym. A place where people would come and work hard at their goals, lift heavy, and make awesome changes in their lives. My purpose, my passion, was set many years before I was married and one day I’d own my own gym.

The work began slowly as I trained myself and studied everything I could find. Many hours spent reading the forums of Bodybuilding.com and T-nation.com as well as AnabolicMinds and many other sites. Articles from Arnold, Reg Park, Mark Rippetoe, and Alwyn Cosgrove. I signed up to take the NASM Certified Trainer test and began studying at 4 in the morning, hours before I had to get up, and every free moment I had between work.

As I was studying and reading more into the lifestyle of a trainer I realized that if I were to ever get to where I wanted to be, I had to go my own way and not work for anyone else. This could have been a mistake as in the trenches apprenticing is very helpful, but my work ethic and desire would not fail me.

One day I was sitting in my office reading a report from Alwyn Cosgrove when I decided I would start my own training company. I had zero money to afford any equipment, advertising, and I did not want to be a slave to someone else in their gym.. their dreams.. not mine. I began searching for outdoor workouts, equipment-less workouts, boot camp style training without weights, and so forth and I ran into Zach Even Esh’s work. This changed the game as I realized I could take my training anywhere I wanted with a minimalist program and get people results. Activate Fitness was born!

Nothing was ever concrete along this journey and it could have went either way. What helped me move forward with becoming a homeowner and a business owner was a deep passion to never live homeless again, to love and support my wife, and an attitude of “Never Gonna Stop Me!” I saw my dreams and they struck me deep within my core of existence and I promised myself I would succeed. Nothing would stop me. No failing allowed. Starting a business with no money was not easy and for a long time I trained people for FREE. Then I brought them to my home where we trained outside in my driveway, in the elements, and I charged them $5 a class and only held classes Tuesday and Thursday. Renting space was the next step and I was lucky to find the opportunity I found, but I couldn’t even afford the rent with my clients. But that didn’t stop me as I did it anyway.

Many long hours, sleepless, selfish sacrifices, and a deep desire and thirst for knowledge helped me grow from a worthless homeless bum to a business owner, husband, and father. 6 years ago if you said any of this would be the way it is I would have called you crazy. Right here and right now I want you to know that if you have dreams you MUST follow them. We fight our inner self and battle our emotions as we think about fear and the unknown and never take action on what we see our dreams to be. They WILL come true. Just do the work and BELIEVE in yourself.

10 Songs That Bring Me Motivation

Music has always been kind to me. It has helped me through the dark times and the good times and something I am very passionate about is music that moves my mind, body, and soul. Music can help motivate me when I’m doubting myself and soothe a heavy heart when I’m feeling depressed. Music has been there since day one of my life and it started with classic rock and roll thanks to my parents. They showed me Black Sabbath and Boston, The Doors, The Beatles, Jethro Toll and many other legends like Jackson Browne.

Like most teenagers music was important to my life and a way to release what was inside. It reached new levels in my life when I first heard Eminem rap Guilty Conscience and ever since his first release he’s always had a spot on my list. There are songs that I can listen to on repeat for days and never get sick of. Once, when I was sitting in the backseat of the car driving to Rhode Island with my mother and stepdad I listened to Hells Bells the entire 3 or 4 hour drive. That was it. The first 60 seconds of that song probably played more than the entire song itself.

The Godfather theme song and Twisted Nerve from Kill Bill can easily be whistled as I walk about my day and Patience by Guns and Roses usually comes up as I lose myself in writing or yard work. Below are 10 songs that helped motivate me, inspire me, and why they’re important…

1. You Can Never Feel My Pain- Prodigy of Mobb Deep

In the song You Can Never Feel My Pain, Prodigy raps about his battle with Sickle Cell disease and the frequent trips it required to the hospital for treatment. Something many people do not know about me is I was born with a blood disorder and was Anemic for most of my childhood. I frequently went to doctors for bloodwork to see where my hemoglobin levels were and although I don’t remember “pain” from the visits, I relate to his song because I know what it’s like to constantly be in a doctors office. The song also means much more as it’s a showcase of his triumph through life and his pain to get on the level he was at when the song was recorded that shows no matter what life deals you there is always a way to move forward.

2. Fly From The Inside- Shinedown

“I am focused on what I am after
The key to the next open chapter
Cause I found a way to steal the sun from the sky
Long live that day that I decided to fly from the inside”

Deciding to Fly out of my past life into a better future was a major turning point of my life and as I listen to this song it gave me the motivation I needed to try and to KEEP trying. Focusing on what I wanted and knowing nothing would stop me from ever getting it. At the end of the song he says “Here’s to the weight on my shoulders” with my interpretation seeing him flip the bird to the world as a way of saying “Deal me whatever, but fuck you. You’ll never stop me.”

3. Cinderella Man- Eminem

“Yeah, haha, feels good! Whoo. Guess I’m lucky, some of us don’t get a second chance, but I ain’t blowing this one.” That’s how the song Cinderella Man starts off and immediately I was drawn to the fact that I am lucky for getting a second chance, one that without it could have meant an early death or a life in prison. The song has a deeper meaning of not letting competition stop you in your tracks. To try harder and become better so that in the end it’ll only be you standing. He goes on rapping- “Zeroin’ on my target and the target is you! I shut ya lane down, took ya spot, and parked in it too.” – pretty much saying it’s time to go Super Sayian and become the best you can be. When I listen to this song it moves me to embrace this second chance and be at my best.

4. You- Candlebox

I’ll just leave this here. Has a deep meaning to me and when I play the song driving or working out it triggers my desire to be at my best and not let anything stop me from being me. “I’ll take everything as it comes my way.”

Honest. Real. Survival.

5. Awake and Alive- Skillet

Probably the most inspirational song to my life and the foundation of a few things I am working on. The inspiration of a business I am working on the side with uses this name and if you look above under “Michael Corona” it says “Becoming Awake and Alive. On the Activate Fitness blog found at hackettstownfitness.com/hackettstownblog there are several blog posts I wrote about “Awake and Alive.”

I’m awake I’m alive
Now I know what I believe inside
Now it’s my time
I’ll do what I want ’cause this is my life
Here, (right here)
Right now, (right now)
I’ll Stand my ground and never back down

Fighting for your dreams. Fighting against the resistance designed to stop you and make you conform. Believing in yourself that all you desire is possible. Right here, right now, you are capable and powerful and strong enough to succeed at anything. “I’ll do what I want because this is my life”…. powerful words.

6. Rock Bottom- Eminem

“Living in the house with no furnace, unfurnished.”

For a few months when I crashed at my Grandmother’s empty home there was nothing in the house left worth being there for, but without a home, it was home. A sleeping bag to stay warm as the winter approached with no source of heat. My last hoorah before I was destined for the streets. My life was full of empty promises and broken dreams, shattered and left to rot. “Live half a life and throw the rest away.” That lyric makes me want to scream and cry because for years I threw everything that meant anything to me away and did not look back. Leaving it like it never meant anything but when it actually meant everything.  This song pushes me today to stand tall and fight resistance as I make the most for my family and never let life keep me down for long.

7. Hollow- Godsmack

“One more step and I could fall away
If it happened would it matter?
And I can’t tell if I should go or stay
Same old picture feel so hollow
How can anybody know what’s best for me?
Another page I turn in shame
And my decisions brought me to my knees
I needed someone to blame”

Taking responsibility for my life wasn’t there and it caused me to crash to my knees. Everyone else was at fault.. not me.. I didn’t do this to myself.. Feeling Hollow and useless. Destined for nothing but a life of scum and waste. But when I took the steps to “do what’s best for me” I believed “I could change” and change I did.  Through all the years of pain and anger I wouldn’t change a thing about it. It taught me so many valuable lessons that will push me forward through life and help others as we walk our paths.

8. One Step Closer- Linkin Park

The pressures of life at times can be so overwhelming we feel defeated and broken. Too tired to try harder or to go that extra mile. Our minds play tricks on us and tell us not to put in the effort and to succumb to the resistance. There is nothing more forceful on holding us back from becoming the best we can be then our own minds. Those voices telling us to skip the gym because we feel too tired, too tired to stay up an extra hour to get work done, writers block, yard work, car maintenance. We skip so much and push it aside as we let our minds win. But One Step Closer is one of those songs that inspires me to say:

“Shut up when I’m talking to you
Shut up, shut up, shut up!!”

Not letting those self defeating thoughts win, or allowing anyone else to tell us what, how, and when to do something.

9. Tangled Up in You- Aaron Lewis

Love song. Yup. Inspiring because it was our wedding song. Inspiring to always be strong for my girls and provide them the life they deserve. Everything I do comes from self fulfillment in a way but the meaning to it all is their smile. Nothing means more to me and my life than a comfortable and happy family and at times when things get tough this song grounds the “WHY” behind my actions.

10. Survival- Eminem

“This is it, it’s what you eat, sleep, piss and shit
Live, breathe, your whole existence just consists of this
Refuse to quit, fuse is lit, can’t diffuse the wick.”

Survival strikes inspiration in me knowing that it is survival of the fittest and in this do or die world of ruthless business in order to survive- you need to play the game. As much as it sucks to have to deal with the status quo and conformity of life, right here, right now, it’s needed. We all have something we’re passionate about and a purpose to our lives. Finding it and refusing to quit because our life depends on it is the relentless attitude that keeps me moving forward.

This quote at the end of the song motivates me when I do fail to reach a goal or push my hardest.

“I must be allergic to failure cause every time I come close to it
I just sneeze, but I just go atchoo then achieve!”

One failure shouldn’t stop you from trying again. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again.

Everyone has music that inspires them to do something in their lives, to push themselves further, to come to grips with the way it is and to know everything will turn out just fine. What are some of your most inspiring songs that have a deep meaning to your life? Comment below and share!!

Rock Bottom

“This Song is dedicated to all the happy. All the happy people who have real nice lives and have no idea what it’s like to broke as fuck.”
Eminem

Instead of saying song, I’d like to say this blog is dedicated to all of those happy people who have no idea what it’s like to be dead broke without a paddle up shit’s creek or a clue of what to do, where to go, and how to fix the mess of Rock Bottom, with no offense, just a little lesson and sorry if Eminem’s quote comes off a little harsh but the song has deep meaning to it. So I’m going to let in you on the secret life of what it’s like to live broke, the stress of the hustle to survive, and what it’s like to hit rock bottom.

Rock Bottom can be defined many different ways by all of those who feel they may have hit the floor. The situation is different depending on why and how you got there. This is not something that sort of just happens like a car accident or the falling of a dead tree in the woods unable to resist the forces of the wind any longer. It is a gradual inching forward with many clear warning signs and roadblocks. Often the individual finding their way to the bottom has snags and efforts of others to catch them, but the only way up is to let the free fall go. Sometimes it’s death that comes as the result of the fall to the pit of rock bottom and sometimes you hit so hard you bounce twice.

Rock Bottom is wearing the same clothes for days without a care of how you smell, look, or feel. Rock Bottom is losing everything you ever owned and laughing at the matter and telling the police to go fuck themselves. Rock Bottom is not your friend nor is it your enemy. It’s just there to hurt you for a brief moment in time and after the effects of the pain wash away, it’s your fork in the road. You can either get up and climb out or you can stay there and waste the remaining moments of your life.

Rock Bottom is cashing fraudulent checks to get enough cash for a hotel room, a hot shower, and maybe a delivered pizza. Rock Bottom is a lonely world for many and those who are often in the fray of the bottom are looked at as losers, judged as homeless wastes of life who “just need to get their shit together”.

Rock Bottom is the greasy homeless man who sits on the corner with a hat on the ground asking for change. He doesn’t want your money. He wants a friend. A helping hand to answer the prayers of “please, someone.. anyone.. take my hand and show me the way out.”  But for him or her, that help may never come because society views those people as fools, drug addicts, drunks, lazy people who can’t take responsibility for their own lives, and criminals. Instead they could be a Veteran of war so messed up mentally that the status quo of life drives them to commit acts of violence or the fact that the stress of war has impacted their life so bad that they can’t live life like the rest of us. Or maybe it’s a lonely girl abused at home for so long that the acts of abuse ruined her emotionally to the point that the streets are the only thing that keep her from slashing her throat. The little change you can spare may feed her for the night, but the big change she wants is someone to say “It’s okay. What happened to you is horrible, but it can be fixed, and you will become a better person.”

Rock Bottom is the money greedy Wall Street broker who steals people’s money and becomes so involved with illegal activity that it’s well over his head, teetering on the edge collapse, beyond repair just waiting for it to blow up in his face. And when it does, it’s see ya later homeboy. Have a nice broke life. The soup kitchen is around the corner.

Rock Bottom is starving to death in Africa without a clue of where your next meal is coming from. Many Africans are forced to live a life of rock bottom from the time they’re born. And most don’t have the means to climb up and make it better.

Rock Bottom is staying in a home that’s for sale with everything turned off. “Living in this house with no furnace, unfurnished.” Just a small black and white TV with bunny ears to get a sketchy looking Fox 5 and a Holy Bible.

Rock Bottom is living under a bridge fishing for food with a hook and leftover bait from the days fishermen who traveled through the area looking for that “nice fish”. Using your bare hands to cut through the flesh because you don’t have a knife and the only way to get to the good part is to ravage it like a wild animal.

Many people see someone living their life on rock bottom and fail to realize just how hard it is emotionally, mentally, and physically to make it through one day. Many people jump to their deaths instead of fighting the grind or they blow their brains out. Some are not strong enough to pick up their life or they ask themselves “What’s the point?” Society walks past people who are in a life and death struggle to survive the coming night. We pass over the homeless man’s legs saying it’s his problem, not ours, and walk away like the life of that man or woman doesn’t exist. It is true it’s not our problem, it is the own man’s responsibility but one simple gesture or sentence can change their life dramatically, just as it can any life.

Rock Bottom is never comfortable. It’s not safe. It’s dark, lonely, boring, sad, and depressing.

Rock Bottom is self manifested and everyone has the power to change their circumstances but some do not know how. Others quit.

Those of us who have walked through the fire of hell of a rock bottom existence have lessons under their skin and stories of demons that can scare those who have no idea what it’s like.

We choose not to listen to them because it’s way beyond our status quo and we feel like “it will never happen to me, why should I care?”

Rock Bottom is stealing family heirlooms for cigarettes and doritos or $5 worth of gas to take you another mile down the bottom.

Rock Bottom is spending many lonely days with nothing but the thoughts of a broken mind filled with anguish of the tough life we chose. Often there isn’t anyone to talk to and if you find a set of ears they may not even care to “listen” and instead want to tell you what to do, how to do it, and why you “need” to do it.  Bitch please, I don’t need to do shit except die.

Rock Bottom is not eating for days and when you get the chance to eat you devour your meal like a mad man. They say “You eat like a person who hasn’t eaten for days.” and that act sticks with you for the rest of your life because YOU ARE a person who knows exactly what’s it’s like to not eat for days.

Rock Bottom is stealing checks from your Grandmother and forging her signature so you can pay for your car insurance or a ticket you got the other day as you blew the red light.

When life makes you mad enough to kill, mad enough to scream but sad enough to tear, when you something bad enough to steal, when you’ve had it up to here.. that’s Rock Bottom.

Full of enough anger that a simple conversation with a concerned person results in an all out rage of the emotions bottled up inside. “Oh that boy’s crazy.”

Remember this….?

RH_beggar.sized
(Credit: Disney Films)

Or this…

train
(Credit: Channel Four Films)

That’s Rock Bottom.

Rock Bottom is being 200 pounds overweight with several Obesity related diseases or injuries while driving through a fast food drive thru.

Rock Bottom is gambling away your last dollar.

Rock Bottom is losing all of your friends and having your family, not hate you, but look at you like a loser or a “poor broken soul”.

Rock Bottom is not a place many people will ever step foot in. Good. It’s not fun and it can crush you, kill you, mentally destroy you. 99% of the time it is each person’s fault and responsibility and their actions or inaction’s led them down the dark side slippery path. Reaching your ultimate bottom is a wake up call that things need to change. Some choose to work their asses off to make it better and make a good life for themselves, while others choose a different path. The only thing we have to hold onto at the bottom is our inner strength, our inner voice that either tells us to keep fighting, to move forward, to just try a little harder, or… to give up.

That’s Rock Bottom.