Mental Health & Entrepreneurship Writer
Mindfulness is a subcategory of mental health, but since it serves as a staple of my own writing, I've marketed it proudly on my site as my unoffical 3rd niche.
But perhaps you want to know more about me and not just my niche. Read below to discover more about me and my story!
WHO AM I?
I'm a brother to two passionate and intellectually curious college-educated siblings. I'm a son to two happily married kindred hearts. I'm a journalist in spirit and a writer at heart. I'm a reader. I love people. I love music. I write music. I'm a nerd.
The list goes on, perhaps endlessly. But I believe the question, "Who are you?" can't be adequately answered with titles, accomplishments, labels, and the like. Instead, only a story can paint a clear enough picture to merit the answer I believe you're looking for.
If you'd like to know more about my history of personal and career accomplishments, I can offer credibility where that is concerned, too.
What Higher Level Education Can Do: My SUNY Fredonia Growth Story
My freshman year at SUNY Fredonia marks the first steps I took in my writing journey. It was one that unraveled from the death of another passion I carried over from my adolescence.
When everyone in high school's first big investment was their car or their driver's license, I took it upon myself to hone my skills as a musical composer. Driving would have to wait.
I invested thousands of my hard-earned cash on musical software for my computer. I was assured I was going to become the next Mozart.
But the future had other plans for me. My musical prowess was and still is abnormally convincing for someone with not a shred of professional musical education or training, but my instrument-playing skills, or lack thereof, were the walls that towered well above my head. They drew a wedge between me and my musical endeavors.
I didn't make it into Fredonia's musical composition program. I was devastated, but not without a backup plan. Even though music was my passion, writing was my unsung talent. Rather than applying to another musical composition program at another school, I pivoted. I chose what I believed to be the most lucrative alternative: journalism.
But there was one thing holding me back.
I had crippling social anxiety. How could I thrive as a journalist if I had a hard enough time getting out of my dorm room to make friends, let alone interview sources for breaking news stories?
The answer was persistence. Raging against the limitations I had imposed upon myself. I had three choices:
1. Give up again. Accept my limitations and call it quits. Fall back once again on music.
2. Stop going to college altogether. I'm too young and timid, right? Wait till I'm older to do this adult stuff.
3. Overcome my crippling social anxiety. Decide to go all in this time, despite how scary it might seem.
I chose the latter. Thank goodness I did. I persevered. The shift wasn't easy and I had many awkward moments, but I chose to milk this college experience for all it was worth. I couldn't have made a better choice.
I overcame my crippling social anxiety through journalism.
I learned how to prepare for and get the most out of journalistic interviews.
I honed my critical thinking skills through my second major; philosophy.
I participated in cultural clubs and made friends whose rainbow of life experiences, ethnicities, cultures and beliefs enriched me. I am thankful to them for sharing their world with me and offering their crucial and valuable perspectives.
Being an active member of the Fredonia community while juggling coursework made me a better multitasker and a more resilient person.
I began working for the school newspaper, The Leader, in Fall 2017. I was quickly promoted from staff writer to assistant news editor. I've written dozens of articles for this student-run campus newspaper and interviewed 100+ sources.
I interned as a biography writer in Summer 2018. I wrote three expertly written and well-researched biography stories for the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame (BMFOH) inductees Philip Burke, FARE Trade, and the Buffalo Choral Arts Society. Even though I have written much more since then, these BMFOH bios are still some of my favorite written pieces.
It was only for one semester (before my graduation in December 2018), but my role as President of Society of Professional Journalists at Fredonia set me up for my later successes. I worked collaboratively with my enthusiastic board team to host our biggest event yet. With Tim Graham from The Athletic as our keynote speaker, we didn't even have enough seats to accommodate all of our guests, and we were prepared!
I landed my first full time position in February 2019 as a proofreader at a small company called Media Sales Plus. Perhaps my biggest accomplishment here was having the honor of proofreading Ruth Bader Ginsburg's obituary notice and reading it back to her childhood best friend per her approval.
In April 2020, I was introduced to a startup vegan company called Assuaged, Inc. Not long after writing content for them and honing my skills as an up-and-coming content marketing professional, they promoted me to content marketing lead. When serial entrepreneur Jeff Hoffman agreed to join in on a zoom conference to discuss entrepreneurship and business-starting, the team agreed it was me who should lead the interview. Jeff Hoffman is now a dedicated advisor to the Assuaged team. You can imagine the success we had on this call.
I've since decided to leave the Assuaged team to start my own freelance content writing business. Having written 100+ articles and making dozens of incredible connections, it's time to start pitching my services and wellspring of ideas! If you have any questions about my services or if you'd like to know more about me, click here to go to my contact form. Please tell me one, two or three fun facts about your business!
Once when I was 6 years old, my grandmother asked me, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
We were sitting together on her elaborately-knit chenille couch graced by the company of a vast array of stuffed animals, dinosaur action figures, and matchbox cars. I replied matter-of-factly, "I want to be a paleontologist."
The whites of my grandmother's eyes grew to the size of golf balls and her head cocked back. "A what? You want to be a what?"
"A paleontologist," I said. I retrieved a pinky-sized velociraptor figurine leaning over the leg of its comparatively titanic companion, a Build-a-Bear tiger named Jack. This little ice-blue raptor with snow-tipped feet wasn't just any dinosaur figurine. He was Seismic, the uncontested emperor of this not so modestly-sized couch kingdom. All of the toys were seated in rows on each cushion waiting eagerly for him to give his mayoral speech.
My grandmother watched me carry Seismic. This diminuitively-sized but mountainous personality hopped from the couch to the coffee table and held his head high as he walked slowly to the center. He might as well have taken a sip of the enourmous Aquafina bottle sitting on the table to clear his throat. My grandma said, "Wow, that's a big word! Tell me, what is a paleontologist, dear?"
"You don't know what a paleontologist is?" I asked. I furrowed my brow at her as if she was crazy for not knowing everything there is to know about dinosaurs.
"No, I've never heard of such a thing. You've stumped me," she said. At the time, I was convinced, but I now know she was merely egging me on and letting me talk wildly about my passion for dinosaurs. She could pretend just as well as me. "What is a paleontologist?"
"Someone who digs up dinosaur bones," I said, no less offended by her question this time than the last.
I was just about to open my mouth to give Seismic's speech when my grandmother asked, "Is that a dinosaur?"
"Yes. His name's Seismic. He's a velociraptor," I replied. I decided I'd have to give her the run around about every dinosaur in my dinosaur dictionary book. Seismic's mayoral speech would have to wait. "Dr. Grant said it can rip your belly open with its big toe talons and make your guts spill out."
"Oh!" She said. She appeared visibly disturbed. I had said such morbid words to her in such a matter-of-fact way. "I don't think I like velociraptors very much then! Are there any nice dinosaurs?"
"I don't think so," I said. I was disappointed in her for disrespecting Seismic, but I gave her a pass this time. I hadn't told her he was the emperor of this kingdom yet. I responded with a sigh, "Dinosaurs don't get along that great because they're always mad at each other."
My grandmother chuckled. "They sound kind of like humans!"
My grandma's clever remark didn't mean much to me then. My 6-year-old brain absorbed everything there was to know about paleontology, but I knew little of anything outside my fantastically dinosaur-centric world. Little did I know her comment was reflective of one defining facet of the human condition: our inability to reconcile with each other's differences of opinion, beliefs, etc.
This age-old tension kindles what existentialists define as humanity's fear of what lies over the horizon of our understanding. Discovering what is new merits a terrifying blend of chaos and anguish. Yet, it too holds the key to our most treasured moments: the most beautiful and sublime unparalleled.
How little I knew of the pain and frustration of adulthood. For all I knew, everyone around me was as receptive to new ideas and concepts as I was. As far as I was concerned, the rest of the world had just as imaginative and unbound a spirit as mine. How kind of my caretakers to put on a brave face and a warm smile on my behalf despite the turmoils they faced every day.
I wasn't privy to the limitations imposed upon them by a world that wanted to press them into a cookie-cutter mold. I could intuit at a young age that they saw a light in me. They cherished my profoundly youthful and inquisitive little soul. They hoped so desperately that this cruel world would never clip my little wings.
Bear in mind that dinosaurs, with the exception of the archaeopteryx, the pterodactyl and a few others I suppose, were flightless beasts. Perhaps it should come as no surprise then that I would gradually abandon my passion for the extinct/grounded prehistoric world and give way to an even more boundless, creative, and receptive way of life. It's the least I could do and it is an homage paid to the people in my life who wanted nothing less for me than to shine in a world marred by darkness, injustice, and crippling uncertainty.
But What Good Is It to Shine Alone?
Even the everyday elements of the outside world can threaten the extinction of a solitary flame. But a city of candle lights only needs one surviving flame to rekindle its lost light.
I believe this is what it means to be a mental health writer: Saving lives by providing much-needed insight and statistically backed information. Better information that is logically sound and evidence-based paves the way to a better future for both the individual and society as a whole.
To shine is also what it means to be an entrepreneurship writer. I only wish to inspire fellow dreamers and self-starters to take ownership of their lives. Nobody should feel foolish for marching to the beat of their own drum. Entrepreneurs should be celebrated for championing innovative ideas and challenging antiquated norms. Entrepreneurs are artists, and artists are the true leaders.
To be a mindfulness writer is to encourage those who seek peace and fulfillment to invert their locus of control from without to within. There are some answers which can only be found when the human heart embraces, in equal measure, the devilish and most angelic of its innermost antipodes.
Stay kindled. You owe it to yourself to protect your flame. Sometimes you have to drudge through the darkness to get to the light, but it's ludicrous to think you can find your way through this labyrinth of narrow and dimly lit corridors without so much as your own solitary flame.
Light the way from within and you'll find more lights. You'll find there are far too many whose candles are dimly lit but whose wax is strong. Offer your own flame and watch as both your flames strengthen and the way through to greener pastures grows clearer.
These are the words I offer to myself every day. They are my heroes. Perhaps they are Seismic and Jack and the rest of the toy village reminding me to never forget them; to never stop imagining.
As the nationally-renowned suicide prevention speaker Kevin Hines once said, "We are our brothers' and sisters' keepers."