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The oK story from beginning to now. Subscribe to follow along, get news, and receive exclusive invites as we grow.

🌊 Part 1:

In my early 20s, I was obsessed with understanding peak performance. Why are we sometimes capable of incredible feats of creativity, insight, and performance and other times incapable of the simplest tasks?

I felt this was a key problem to solve if we were going to reach our potential as a species.

As a recovering addict, I also wanted a way to feel better about myself and start living up to my own potential. So I began designing my life to experience the optimal state of being - also known as Flow.

This manifested in strict morning routines, dynamic days, martial arts, basketball, rock climbing, time for creativity and play, and reflective evenings of journaling and meditation.

When all the pieces came together, I felt in control and powerful. But it was rare that everything would go according to plan or that my motivation would be there when I needed it. In those moments, I felt ashamed, foolish, and hopeless.

Still, the glimpses into this better version of myself inspired attempts to incorporate Flow into

🥷 Part 2:

As I was experimenting, I was also apprenticing for a Ninjitsu master.

The relationship began after we met outside of class to go skiing. I had been skiing my whole life but he was relatively new to it. It didn’t stop him from being the one to push me to do harder things.

Over the next couple years, he continued to push me. I have never been a huge risk taker but I wanted to learn and he wanted to teach. We were always going to new dangerous heights - literally. I was sure we were going to die when we bushwhacked/free climbed up the side of Vermont’s tallest mountain, and again when he taught me how to drive stick in his brand new WRX and then had me drive up New Hampshire’s tallest mountain.

After hearing his stories of racing on the back roads of Ireland, encountering barracudas while scuba diving, training the Vermont National Guard in guerrilla combat, fighting off an armed gang when he was 17, and surviving in the wilderness, I understood it. In order to get the rush of brain chemicals you receive in a peak Flow experience, he was always seeking higher stakes.

Flow is addictive and the potential it unlocks can be good or bad. Whether or not it is healthy depends on your principles, your goals, and your ability to maintain diverse sources of Flow. It is also impossible to always be in the Flow and it is dangerous to chase it blindly.

Learning this, I shifted my focus from trying to impart the intricacies of Flow through

oK and focus on the aspects that could be universally applied. This led me to The ABCs.

❓Does having 4 jobs mean you’re addicted to work❓

It didn’t for me. As a college dropout, I had to patch things together, and after working 3 jobs in the fall of 2014 - afterschool teacher, preschool aide, and restaurant host - that winter I started my fourth as a trimmer for Vermont’s first cannabis dispensary.

At first, this might sound like a strange addition to my education-focused portfolio of part-time gigs. But while studying medical cannabis as a senior in high school I interviewed Shayne Lynn who now, three years later, had opened the Champlain Valley Dispensary.

Also, I wasn’t addicted to work, I was addicted to weed.

Cannabis addiction is not like alcoholism or other types of drug addictions - it is not a physical need your body develops that causes you to have withdrawals if you stop using. Rather, it can be better understood as a mental addiction where the belief that it brings happiness becomes self-reinforcing. Like most addictions, cannabis use has diminishing returns. Your body develops a tolerance to it and you need to use more and more to get a positive effect.

I had developed a dependency on cannabis as a teen. I was depressed, and it was one of the few things that made me feel alive. For the three years since, I had stayed entangled in the habit.

However, empiric and anecdotal evidence showed it could be a medicine and I was determined to learn how to self-administer it properly. I also believed its criminalization was unjust and felt it was important that I myself use it as a medicine if I was advocating for it to be considered one.

With this knowledge and motivation, I started transforming my relationship with the drug. Since oK had burst into my mind and consumed my ambitions, I had also largely forgotten that I previously dreamt of opening a cannabis dispensary.

That changed when I stumbled upon a public event concerning cannabis in Vermont and saw Shayne Lynn speak. I went up to him afterward, re-introduced myself, and 4 months later I was one of the first 10 employees of the dispensary, trimming weed before going home, changing out of my clothes that reeked of reefer, and going to the afterschool program.

For almost three years I worked at the dispensary. Looking back, it could seem like a diversion from my path, but it imparted at least three key lessons:

  1. Transforming suffering into hope. I became the supervisor of the dispensary itself, managing our small storefront and working 1-on-1 with patients as they came looking for relief from chemotherapy, chronic pain, etc. I learned to listen to their experiences, help them find the right medicine, and most importantly, facilitate an experience that gave them hope.

  2. Values can give way to greed. I’m sure Shayne started off with good intentions but by the end of my time at the dispensary, I had nothing but disdain for him. He had political connections he had used to get two of the five licenses the state issued for the first dispensary. His two were in the two biggest markets. He spent money on self-indulgent projects and underpaid his employees. He created a toxic work environment leading to incredibly high turnover. He knowingly sold inferior products. He broke the law.

  3. Cannabis addiction can be cured. The final thing I learned - very slowly - was how to use cannabis as a medicine and break my addiction. One key to ending my dependency on weed was understanding the concept of Flow and realizing there are more powerful forms of medicine that we access just by creating the right conditions.

Flow 🌊 That feeling when you are fully immersed in the moment and completely alive. Actually, it's more addictive then weed, but that's another story.

*No one should use cannabis if they have a family history of psychosis.*

🌀 It’s hard to start a company about personal growth and relationship building when you’re 21, broke, a nanny, a martial arts apprentice with a broken hand, an aspiring rapper making music about the fabric of the universe, and generally unskilled and undisciplined. 🤷‍♂️ That was me a nutshell the summer after dropping out of college. There are many important stories about this period but I will save the more personal ones for another time and space. For now, let’s move past this strange summer into the Fall where I unknowingly found the path I would walk for the rest of my life. The nannying job I had in the summer was given to me by Kyle Dodson who, at the time, was the Director for Service and Civic Engagement at Champlain College. He had inspired and supported me as I took the leap into drop-out oblivion and gave me the opportunity to make a little money taking care of his three boys during the summer months. Ages 10, 12, and 14, they tested my patience, my intelligence, and my beliefs. It was the greatest summer job imaginable. Aside from many fights, a failed lemonade stand, and me getting pulled over by the cops as I rolled through a stop sign driving them home one day, the summer was a success. But come Fall the kids were going back to school and I wouldn’t have my parent's support anymore so I’d have to find a way to pay rent on top of all my other expenses. So I looked for a job - and found three. 1. Host during breakfast at the Courtyard by Marriott. I often saw the sunrise on my way to work and the demands of early mornings helped me develop some discipline. 2. Afterschool teacher at JJ Flynn Elementary. After my morning shift, I’d come home for lunch - or I’d fill up on leftover bacon at the Marriott - and I’d go to the afterschool program where my love for teaching was kindled. 3. Classroom aide at the The Schoolhouse Learning Center pre-school - for one morning a week. Although it was the cutest job I’ll ever have, I’m glad I only had to wrangle tiny humans part-part-time. This experience gave me a deep respect for early educators. I had developed a creative way of paying my bills and taken a step into the world of education which would open up increasingly interesting doors. But in my scramble to make a living, oK seemed to die before my eyes. I had run a few more meetings that summer and started doing them at Champlain again in the Fall, but attendance dwindled and my enthusiasm died accordingly. While I got a taste of the joy I could experience working in education, I also got a glimpse at the difficult road I had before me. oK wasn’t going to be a company that I could immediately make a living from. It would take patient experimentation, mirroring my own personal development. I would have to split my attention to excel in a complementary career while not giving up the larger vision I was working towards. It was doable, but it got more difficult when the winter came and I added on a 4th job. 😵

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