Meaning to Share Podcast: Ep 007 - Paul Myers Jr
2:59PM Jul 28, 2021
Paul Myers Jr.
I don't like change, didn't like change at the time, still kind of don't like change. But if we don't change, we don't grow. I had a snake when I was younger, I was always told if you don't change the size of the tank, the snake won't grow. Change the tank.
This is Meaning to Share, the podcast where we explore the amazing gifts of seemingly average individuals, proving that everyone has a meaningful skill, talent or strength that is unique only to them, and which they are destined to share with others during this lifetime. I'm your host, Meredith McCreight. I spent decades painfully trying to fold myself into the boxes that other people, the media and society created for me, until I realized there was only one authentic version of me. And that is more than enough. In fact, it's divine. I want to show my guests and you, the listeners, that each of us is meant for greatness. It's already in you, you just have to choose to see it and embody it. Now my guest doesn't know ahead of time which gift of theirs we'll be discussing, so please enjoy this unscripted, honest, delicious conversation with one of my favorite people. This is Meaning to Share.
Today I'm sitting down with Paul Myers, Jr. Paul is a native of New York who moved to Charlottesville, Virginia with his family a little more than 20 years ago. He's a father to an amazing four year old named Preston, a co founder and leader of the Prolyfyck Run Creww, and is a chef at the multiple restaurants housed inside the Quark Hotel in downtown Charlottesville. It goes without saying that he loves to cook, and he also enjoys spending quality time with his son and his dogs. Not unlike several of my previous guests, I met Paul through the run crew. He's just so much fun. But what I also love about Paul is that he's very vocal about the importance of mental health. And he's always willing to share with the group when he's feeling a little down or angry or off. And he's not afraid to ask for help when he needs it, which really goes a long way to create a safe space where others can do the same. And it's impressive because he hasn't always had the easiest road in life. We're talking about a lot of the life experiences that shaped who he is today and his gift of resilience through all of the dark times. All of that and more right now. Please welcome my friend, my run buddy, my kickball teammate and overall awesome human, Paul Myers.
Well, hey, Paul, thank you so much for joining me on my show. I'm so happy that you're here.
What's shakin, Meredith? Thank you for having me. It's a pleasure. I've been impressed by your platform so far, I've heard a few episodes. So it's an honor to be on here with you.
Thank you. Well, Paul, tell us about you. Where are you from? And what's your cultural background and upbringing?
Okay, well, I was born and raised in Long Island, New York, in a very small town, Amityville. But I was frequently at my grandmother's house in North Babylon. So I claim both of those places, but from Long Island, New York. My mom is from Richmond, California. My dad's from New York, actually. So born and raised in New York, I moved to Virginia when I was about 11 years old to Charlottesville. And it's funny because I was, you know, when you hear Long Island, a lot of people think of the Hamptons as the first thing. That's the first landmark that people think of, and I'm like, Nah, I live on the other side, you know, you know where the cost of living is still high, but we just ain't got it and I'm from I'm from the hood, but then when we moved to Charlott esville, it was like we moved to the suburbs. So it was a huge change. And I got into a lot of fights when I got here. I actually got expelled from elementary school. From Cale Elementary School. Yeah, just just kept scrapping every day and biting back. When we got here. I didn't like Virginia at first, when we moved to Charlottesville, but it's grown on me. And I'm I'm actually proud that my parents moved us down here. They moved down here for a job opportunity. Just the cost of living was nothing like something in New York. It was a huge change. We had a house, we had a yard. You know, we lived around a place where it was super quiet during the day, and night, especially was coming from New York. There's a lot a lot of commotion at night. So yeah, just I come from a family of long line athletes. So that's actually how we met through the run crew. And I know you're a runner, you used to put in that work, you know.
I'm a shuffler. But Will tells me I have to call myself a runner. So yes, I'm a runner.
Yeah, you gotta own up to it. Ah yeah. So I went to college for a very brief stint. Which college. I went to Southern Virginia University is about an hour from here and a town that's pronounced down there, and I'm corrected every time I mispronounce it, it's "byoona vista" - buena vista, that's what you know what i If I've read it, I would say it. But it's called Buena Vista, I can write a memoir about that place, and all the stuff I went through, but it's a predominantly Mormon, faith based college. So think of like BYU on a small scale. I went there to play football ended up playing club lacrosse and football. And it was not the typical college experience. Long story short, I went there for accounting, did not graduate, got into a lot of trouble, and ended up moving back to Charlottesville. In between that time I was bartending, serving tables. And that's when I fell into cooking. I was on my own. Mom and dad were, you know, I wasn't going to go back home and live under that roof. You know, even though it was it was, you know, a revolving door if it needed to be, but I started cooking at 27. And I've just been experimenting with it. Now. I'm in a nice position. So that's how I got here. So yeah.
Awesome. Thank you.
I know you're gonna have to edit out a no, you got to edit out all the Send us I didn't think it was gonna be this hard to not, um.
You can all you want, because I do it too and I cut them out of my own talking, so.
My mother, my mother would be disgusted if she heard me say um so many times in a platform like this. She's represented by my speech. So it's like, she would be super disappointed. Thank you for that.
Well, if you listened to the first couple episodes, I said like about 4000 times, and I and that's after editing. So those are the ones I couldn't cut out because they were too close to other words. Don't feel bad.
Okay. All right. I won't. I'll try not to at least.
Well, I like to start by asking everyone this question. And you can just answer with the first thing that comes to your mind. What is something that you've been meaning to share?
Something I've been meaning to share? That's a great question. I've been meaning to share, especially through the running community, that it's okay to be vulnerable. And it's okay to be compassionate about something. It's okay to be soft, so to say, about things, it's okay to cry. All of those things under the one umbrella. It's okay to feel feelings. Coming from the community that I was raised in for a while I was made fun of eating ice stops the toxic masculinity behind where I grew up in a predominantly black neighborhood, you know, you get made fun of because popsicles resemble certain male parts. And that's considered, yeah, we're not going to get into all of that, God, you might want to cut that out. For a long time, it wasn't manly to cry. You're not tough if you cry. You're not tough if you tell another man you love him. Or you're not a man. And that's one thing I've always wanted to share, especially with the younger generation, I say I'm I mean, I'm 32. So like the younger guys that I know. You know, you can be tough. And you can do tough things, whatever tough means to you, but it's okay to cry. It's alright. It's okay to have feelings. You're human. You know, it's, it's, it's kind of like if you make a mistake in a different area of life, you learn to grow from that. I don't know what the fuck I'm just saying. I don't know what the fuck that means right now. But I try to always encourage younger guys that like it's okay to be mad. It's how you respond to being upset. How do you respond to something? How do you respond to your feelings? Feel your feelings.
Yeah, because if you don't, it comes out in other ways, right?
It comes out in displacement. I like to call it displaced pride when someone cannot receive information from another party, as if they're challenging them to think in an alternative manner. I hear the term the spots on this leopard ain't changing or the stripes on these tiger ain't changing. Why not? You can change your stripes. The leopard cannot change his stripes, you can change your ways. So when someone gets challenged, and I often succumb to that when someone challenges my thought process in a way that I don't receive it properly, that confusion leads into frustration, and then just leads into ignorance, which is the lack of knowledge, it just leads to confusion. No one likes to be confused. It's not fun being confused. So then that turns into frustration. You know, there's all these things that we have to work through. No one teaches you how to feel your feelings. You have to go through them.
Because even if they're not something you want to hold on to like anger or jealousy or something like that, if you don't acknowledge them, they're just gonna keep pestering you, right. So it's like you have to be like, Okay, I see you. I don't want to live with you. But let me sit with you for a minute and then I'm going to send you on your way.
And then you can sort of release that a little bit.
Facts. Definitely. Definitely. And that's something that I teach my son I got a four year old son as you know, you know, little P. He is so much a part of what I see in myself. It's like a mirror. So I have to check myself when I think about situations because I talked to him, I got to practice, you got to practice what you preach. You know, I'm a firm believer in if you're teaching a child to think about his feelings and feel his feelings, you should be talking to yourself, as I say, and this is something that I talked to my brother Will about, sometimes you got to, I have to talk to little Paul, I have to talk to 11 year old Paul that just moved to Virginia that lost all of his friends figuratively speaking, you know, moving to a completely different area. You have to almost conditioned yourself to think as if you're speaking to yourself in a place where you may have learned to deal with your feelings. It could be, it could be at, you know, when I was 25, it could have been when I was 22. When I got my first DUI, it could have been at 15 when I got jumped, you know, and felt alone, you know, could have been at 11. Like I said, when I moved here could have been at six when I was getting bullied in elementary school.
There's a lot I think that happens when we're younger. And even though there's a lot of psychologists that say it's zero to seven, and then some that say it's zero to 14, and then others that say it's like zero into your mid 20s. Because really, you know, our brains are still growing then. So we're still creating new pathways in our brain. It's they're still forming. So yeah, there's a lot of lot of things that we learn, and then we believe them, right? They become beliefs and the way that we navigate the world is based on those beliefs. And so when you realize that those are not true, they're not real. And you're you have to like unlearn them. It's so hard. So it's, I really commend you for doing the work to kind of talk to your younger self, and try to go back and say, How can I reteach myself this because this isn't serving me anymore.
I appreciate that. We have to unlearn a lot of habits and behavioral things that we've just been doing for years.
I had a talk with a friend of mine yesterday, when we discipline our dogs, we were we were talking about how we want to... [dog barking]
Right on cue.
I had a talk with a friend yesterday about how to re-learn things that we saw at a younger age, but manipulate them, whether it was mostly the negative things that we saw at a younger age manipulate them to a positive behaviors. And that's where the run crew comes in to my life because I have a very ego driven personality. So I have a personality that's attracted to consistency. When things aren't consistent in my life, it just kind of overflows, my cup overflows. So if I don't have consistency, I don't have balance. Everybody needs balance in life. So Monday, Wednesday, Friday, those things kind of hold me up. The consistency aspect of just seeing the same faces every day. It's kind of like school, we've been taught at a very young age that you go sit for eight hours with the same people, you learn the same things, and then you go home, that type of conditioning is carried over in our lives when it comes to you go to work, you work, you see the same people, you come home. Breaking that consistency breaks people. And it's broken me at times. I was homeless for about three months, about a year ago. A lot of people probably don't know this, but I was sleeping in my car. And the one the two things in my life that were consistent or three things is that work was going to always be there. My son, my time with my son, Tuesday and Wednesday into Thursday was always gonna be there. And Monday, Wednesday and Friday, at six o'clock, I could always show up and at least release some of the stress and frustration of being in the situation I was in at the time. And I didn't I didn't tell too many people I told to homie Will, Will Jones, told Littlez and that was about that was about it. I don't think anybody that we ran with was aware that I was sleeping in my car, was sleeping in a friend's driveway that was about 45 minutes away, in Buckingham and driving just to run and not knowing what the rest of the day is gonna bring until work. I spent a couple of nights, you know, on an air mattress in a friend's guest room with my son. And then I was that was the point where the consistency in my life needed to uh needed to get back to where it was.
I mean, gosh, I must have just been so not only like scary sometimes because it's just you don't know what's coming next. But you know, we have these sort of rock bottoms and we hit more than once in life. We have a bunch of on but out of those. It's like it shakes everything out, right? It's like you're at the bottom and it's only up from there. And it's really hard to see that when you're in it. All you feel is the bottomness.
I can only imagine how dark that that was.
Yeah, you never know you're in a forest when you're in a fog.
You only know you're in the forest when you're outside of the forest.
I love that.
Yeah, for sure. I mean, I got a whole lot, I got a whole lot of that in my brain, you know, always trying to put the paint it ain't.
I love that too.
But to go back to what you know, but but to get back to the point, like consistency, once I can constantly lay my head down in a bed, that's the first step in getting healthier. And then you know, creating a safe space for myself first, and then my little person, and then we could build for those around.
Well, it actually ties in perfectly to what I want to talk to you about today. Do you have any guesses as to what the gift or strength or skill of yours is that I want to talk about?
Does it have something to do with fatherhood?
It's directly adjacent to that, yeah.
What you got for me?
Gosh, there's so many great things about you. There's just this infectious energy that you bring to everything like not just running, but like cookouts and kickball and moving Ms Brenda to her new apartment. I mean, you're just so fun and lively, and all of that and positive. And I think you're such a good dad and role model to Preston, and you're one hell of a chef. And the thing I want to talk about with you today is something that I think is woven through all of those talents and strengths. And that is something that you've definitely touched on a few times already, which is resilience. I want to read this blurb that I took from the American Psychological Association website, because it goes into like some little pieces of a description of resilience that I think you wouldn't necessarily think of when you hear the word but it really, I think summarizes how I feel about the way that you use the gift. So psychologists define resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress. As much as resilience involves bouncing back from these difficult experiences, it can also involve profound personal growth. While these adverse events much like rough river waters are certainly painful and difficult, they don't have to determine the outcome of your life. There are many aspects of your life you can control, modify and grow with. That's the role of resilience. Becoming more resilient not only helps you get through difficult circumstances, it also empowers you to grow and even improve your life along the way. And I feel like that's what you're doing with all of this shit that's thrown at you. So how do you feel about talking even more about that today? Because I feel like we've already been talking about it.
That's a fact. Well, I appreciate you first acknowledging something like that. That means a lot. That's it's very moving to hear all of those words because when you're in this shit, like you're in the forest, you don't really know you're in the forest. You we definitely just touched on that. So resiliency. Yeah, I guess that's what it is. I am just doing what my healthy self needs to do to not only help my little person, my son grow to be better than me. I'm doing the work to become mentally healthy.
Well, I'm sure we could talk all day about life experiences that have contributed to your resilience and where you are now, you've mentioned a couple of them already. But I'm curious, what's the earliest memory you have of sort of resetting and saying, Nah, I'm not going to let this shitty thing define me, I'm going to use it to be better? When did that shift happen for you?
I'd have to say when I moved to Virginia 100%. That was the earliest memory of me really having to buckle down within and tell myself, you got to get it together. Because like I said, I was expelled from elementary school for some wild shit. At the time, it was was nothing to be joked about joking about, but it was probably right around high school time, when I was in Virginia, that I had to really just say, Alright, man, you're here. You can't go anywhere, make the best. And that's when I really started diving into going hard with the sports, I played football, basketball, and lacrosse all four years in high school. I ran a little track. So I really buckled down and grew out of the woe is me thought process and took in my surroundings. At the time, I wasn't really embracing my family like I should have. One thing that my family always was to me was present 100%. I come from a two parent household. And I'm very lucky to say so because in the black community that is not as prevalent as in other communities. So my parents, my family was always present. So that helped me as well. And growing up in a black household. You're not going to give up. That's one thing you're not going to do. You know you've gotten I've gotten many a stern lecture about how the one thing that you won't do is give up. You can cry, you can, you can complain, one thing and never going to do is give up. So I think it's built in my it's like in my DNA, it's like in any black person's DNA, you're never gonna give up.
I definitely see that in you. So you're a chef at an upscale hotel with a beautiful rooftop bar and restaurant. And I imagine as everyone who's worked in food and bev, it's not your first rodeo in a restaurant kitchen. So what are some of the ways that you have to practice resilience at work?
Oh, man, well, being a leader. And a kitchen is one of the toughest things that I've ever had to do in my life because people come and go. The one thing I can touch on that I deal with weekly, is reliability. And when people don't show up, and you're there, you got to buckle down. And that's at times, in my position, I have to just be support for three levels of a restaurant. So the rooftop bar, fifth floor, got to be there, the fine dining restaurant, those guys, they handle their business, but then, you know, they're, they're short a person. And then if we have banquets, I got to be support there. So if one of those pieces is missing, it's on everyone else around us. Another way I do practice resiliency is dealing with, I'm the youngest person on the management staff. So everyone that's older than me, at times, are hesitant to listen, to do something as simple as that. So I have to practice speaking positively. And taking into consideration that I can't tell someone that I'm going to smack the shit out of them. At times it gets rough, you have to take your lumps you have to take people cursing you out. Whenever take people ignoring you.
What do you do? Like if you wanted to slap the shit out of somebody? What do you do instead?
I separate myself for one, and then focus on my breathing. And then I ask how did we get into the situation? It's it's a whole, it's a self check. One thing I can I can control is what I do, and how I feel. So that comes up a lot when you do want to smack the shit out of someone, for lack of a better word for lack of a better couple of words. I take it one step at a time, check your breathing, separate yourself and analyze situation. What could you have done different? And that's how I alleviate any type of conflict. And that's how you learn a little understanding about what the other party is feeling. And then come back to it. And if need be, apologize, but one thing I've been trying to practice is never take anything personal.
That's hard to do. That's big.
Tell me about it. I try not to say it a lot. Because I take shit personal a lot.
Yeah, me too.
Yeah, but that's another another good gem I got from my brother.
Yeah, I think it's funny because you said something about being ego driven earlier. And that's, I don't see that way, first of all. I think you're confident, but I don't see you as being egotistical at all. But I definitely, you know, in terms of like, psychology terms, the ego in me. That's why we take things personally. Right. So that's a lot of work that I've been doing is like, how do I understand that that has nothing to do with me? It has to do with the person who said it and like, I don't need to take that personally. It's not. It's so hard to do.
Yeah, for sure. When was the last time that you've run into a situation where you had to humble yourself, in that sense.
God, like every day. And humility is tough for me. I don't know where that came from either. It's not like, I think maybe my dad is a very strong personality. He's also not very affectionate. He's pretty gaslighting in most of his conversation. And so I think that it's I think that every time someone has something negative to say about me, even if it's like passive, I feel like it triggers that it triggers my daddy issues. So yeah, happens a lot. But...
it's, it's funny you say that because I'm on the other side of the fence with that. My mom is not the most affectionate person in the world. She's got that from her father.
We're all victims of victims, right? I read that somewhere. It's like it's not my dad's fault that he I mean, I think our generation too, and just, I think we're all as a country, a world whatever, we're coming to kind of embrace this self help culture a little bit more and like introspectiveness and like, looking, you know, looking within to fix our problems instead of looking externally. So my dad didn't have those tools that I have to be able to look at myself that way. And he's, he's a product of people who treated him even worse than he treated me. So you know, I can't really do that.
Yeah. And it's it's not something that it's not something that they intentionally did.
Exactly. Yeah, intention is such a good word there because I think that is the thing that I try to focus on. What was the intention here?
Absolutely. And I had little reconciliation with my dad last year, when I was sleeping in my car for a couple months, I came to my parents, and they were kind of dismissive, kind of like, figure it out. And I took that personally. I took that personal and I hadn't, I went an entire year, without talking to my pops. My pops is my best friend. You know, like, you know, I'm his only son. So it's kind of that's exactly how me and Preston are, it's on my dad and I are, you know. So, going that year without talking to him taking something so personally, and holding on to it, and finally being able to speak about it. I don't know if you spoken to your your dad about you know, those things, the your personality traits. You can't blame someone else for that, obviously, but you can also just get better from it.
Yeah, I have spoken my feelings, my truth to him, he does not receive it. So well, he doesn't verbally receive it. So he won't have a conversation with me about it. But I have noticed something shifting over time. You know, the more that I say something like, Hey, I don't appreciate that. And he'll, you know, make some snide remark me or say something and passive aggressive under his breath, or just tell me to get over myself, he does that a lot. But I've noticed too, he kind of stops doing it so much over time. So I think he's having some sort of effect. How did you reconcile with your dad? What was the what was the catalyst for that?
He would always contact me, and just see how I'm doing. And my parents, I love my parents with everything, every ounce of my body, and heart and soul. And I'm not about to give you a rebuttal after that, you know, but, uh.... they give me space. And that's one thing that I appreciate it to this time. So I finally talked to my dad, I said, Hey, I miss you. I said, yo, let's go get some dinner, I got some shit to get off my chest. And I actually brought Preston with me. And mainly, the reason why I ducked him for a year is because I was afraid at how he was going to react. You know, I was I was a very mischevious kid, I got a I got a few ass whoopings in my day. So I was always low key afraid of my pops. He was like, not the one to be fucked with. So that basically me not talking to him for a year was based off of fear. Um, when I finally sat down and talked to him and explained to him how I felt, and it was kind of like I was waiting for a bomb to explode.
No, not at all. He actually came to me and said, You know, I went to the doctor, which he doesn't really do often. But he said he went to the doctor and talked to his doctor about anxiety, and how it's been affecting his life.
And we had, we had about a two and a half hour conversation, Preston ate all the dessert in the restaurant. But we reconciled over food. And we just actually, you know, shared our feelings with each other, we shed some tears, we hugged, you know, but at the end of the day, I felt like he finally listened instead of just heard what I said. There's a big difference in that.
Very big difference. I love hearing that too, because it kind of goes full circle to something you said earlier, which is the thing that you've been meaning to share is that it's okay to be vulnerable and to cry and to feel your feelings and to talk about that. And that's what you did. And that's big.
Absolutely, absolutely. But it took a lot. It took a lot of self reconciliation. And that's the biggest part of that, because I had to come to the senses that I took things personally. I had to come to my own senses and say you took that personally. Why did you take it personally? Check your breathing. What could you have done differently?
Yeah. So your son, Lil P, Preston, is four. Four years on this earth? I imagine that even in his four short years, you have had to show up in the face of adversity or threats to model for him what it looks like to be resilient in those circumstances. Is there anything that stands out to you particularly?
Indeed. I used to go crazy in the car, road rage. I used to go nuts. "Crazy" is a little problematic but I used to go a little silly, I used to get silly in the car when it comes to road rage. I had to really look in the mirror one day. And I say "the mirror," I had to look at my son when he exhibited a little bit of the tactics I use when I was upset, driving in a car. And that's the one thing that stood out to me early in parenthood, these kids sponges and their reflections directly of what you do. One thing I've always been a firm believer of is never telling a kid that Oh, you're okay, if they fall off a scooter or hurt themselves. A lot of the older generation I know would use that term. Oh, you're you're alright. You'll be okay. It's like, yeah, I'll be okay. But that shit hurt. And I'm acknowledging right now that that shit hurt. It's been wonderful to do that self check, because this little person will check you. If you don't check yourself. And the first thing he'll say, Hey, Dad, well, you did this. And I'm like, I did do that. Let me check myself son. So it man, it is the best feeling in the world to have the wholesomeness of someone who doesn't know much but knows enough, and will hold you accountable. I've enjoyed it.
He's a he's a sassy little person. So I imagine he does hold you accountable quite a bit.
And then I ask, Why are you this way? And then he smiles. And I'm like, Okay, yeah, universe, universe things.
I think I know the answer to this already, or at least part of it, but is there something in particular, or someone in particular, that inspires you to have this sort of grit, this like, sticktoitiveness? Like, I'm not going to give up? Or is that just deeply internal at this point?
That's my, that's my entire family. That's literally everyone in my family. Everyone in my family has been through some shit, and has bounced back and has come back stronger, so much stronger. But one person in particular is my pops. He's the reason why I go so hard with whatever I do. He's the reason why I work a lot. Because if I needed it, he was gonna go get it, you know, my mom as well. But my dad was the one that really used to, before he accepted that he is dealing with anxiety, or has been dealing with anxiety, he would just work all the time, always at work. And that's how I feel if I need to go get it. I'm just gonna go get it legally, because I used to go get it illegally, you know, but that road never ends positive. So, I've always had that I'm never gonna give up. I mean, today ran 10 miles almost passed out, probably should have stopped at eight. But we said 10 yesterday, we're gonna do 10 things. It's all about accountability.
I admire you for that, I would have definitely quit.
No, I don't think so. I think if you if you had that energy, that Prolyfyck energy out there, you know that sun wouldn't have been as hot. You know, it wasn't 85 degrees or anything.
It does help to have the crew around you because even my my friend came for her first Prolyfyck run on Friday. And she was like, man, I forgot how nice it is to like, run with other people. So you don't quit on yourself. You have people to pick you up. And I was like, yeah, it is really nice.
Yeah, it's been amazing. I would have never seen myself three years ago, when we started running, being excited to run 10 miles on a Sunday morning.
I love that. Well, obviously, you've faced a lot of challenges. I mean, even recently, it sounds like but I imagine to just as a black man, you're constantly sort of facing a layer of adversity every day. And all that stuff has to take a toll. And you've spoken to our group on multiple occasions about the importance of self care as it pertains to mental well being and you were mentioning earlier, you're doing your breathing and stuff. So other than the breathing exercises and running with Prolyfyck what are some other ways that you practice caring for your mental health?
I smoke a lot of weed, I can tell you that. I definitely partake in my extracurricular activities. I love to cook. Cooking is therapeutic for me. And taking care of my dogs is very relaxing. So just being in a peaceful place, and my peaceful places are my kitchen, around my people, my animals and just being comfortable. I do a little bit of meditation. I try to couple times a week, but I always set time aside at night to be still to put the phone down, go somewhere and just be still, even if it's for 5, 10 minutes. I find that that part of my day is the easiest part of the day. It's something that I ask myself, why wouldn't I? Take everything, put it down and be still. Breathe. Close your eyes. That's I guess that's meditation.
I find that that's one thing before bed that helps the most along with my tea and a little bong rip. Boom. We get it right. Yeah, there's a few things that helped me out but mostly the running. The running is is a bit of an active meditation for me.
Yeah, it makes me kind of think back. You were talking a lot about consistency earlier. And just having like that practice at night every night seems like another way that you can sort of have a consistency, a consistent practice with something in your life.
Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah, that's that's the goal. Consistency is key.
I'm just thinking back to the disruption of having to leave your friends when you moved to Virginia. And you said that sort of was a pivotal moment of you kind of realizing, you know, you're the one who has to kind of find the good in all of this. I wonder if that's where... Well, you tell me. Do you think that that's where your desire for consistency kind of comes from is that disruption sort of created a lot of inconsistency and it was not fun? And...
Absolutely, I think there was, I think there's some trauma from that. And at that part of my life, my parents were going to this, my mom would take me to the same laundromat every Saturday. I had tournaments, basketball tournaments, every weekend, there was so much that was going on that was attached to the home base in New York, that when we came here, everything slowed down. And it was almost confusing. Why would we want to slow down? Why would you want to come here? What is the issue? So like that, I think it was a bit of like an abandonment thing. That was all that I knew. I wasn't into meeting new people. I had a small group of friends on my block, we always hung together. And I felt a little betrayed, I think. I felt like my parents betrayed me. Course I was a spoiled kid. I was the youngest by 10 years. So I was the baby. So I acted like a baby when I got here. So I think I really do think that a part of the issue with me, and abandonment was when we were moving when we moved.
I don't like change. Didn't like change at the time. still kind of don't like change. But if we don't change, we don't grow.
I had a snake when I was younger, and was always told, if you don't change the size of the tank, the snake won't grow.
Ooh, I like that.
Boom. Change the tank. Let your snake grow. Pause.
Aww, well, is there anything that you learned from our conversation today that you hadn't really like considered before, anything you're taking away about your gift of resilience?
Yes, one thing that I'm gonna take away from this, and I appreciate you for this because I'm gonna implement this in my everyday life is that resiliency is a gift. We all have gifts, everyone is gifted, there's no special class for the gifted, everybody's gifted, we're all X-men and women. And when that was something that struck me as something that I need to keep as a constant. And I always think of Preston in these things, because I feel it feels good to hear you have a gift, utilize the gift. It's kind of like one of my favorite Jay Cole songs on his new album is Pride is the Devil. We've had a lot of people in our lives that have been too prideful to give you an apology. It's very rare for black men to say I'm sorry to each other. But we're changing that guard. The song Pride is the Devil says says it's got me feeling different when somebody says they proud of me. We're not we're not used to hearing, I'm proud of you. Good job, keep going. I love you. Those are very simple words that it's far fetched for some black men to think about to hear from another black man. That's why you hear us when we're out there running, you know, at any given time will tell I love you, brother. The gift thing really, really resonated with me, and I appreciate you for that. Also, something I learned is that people may not be able to speak on their past and things like we've spoken on like you and your father or me speaking on being homeless. I think that's a that's, that's a very courageous thing. And I appreciate you for sharing that with me. Because it's, that's, that's tough. But we can you know, like I always say we can do tough things. We're built to do that.
We are and you model that for us in the run group all the time. So thank you for that. It's a gift just to have you in the run group. And you're definitely a part of that. Well, there's so many like leaders, I feel like within our group, but in terms of the actual like, you know, crew leadership, I definitely see you as part of that. So.
Appreciate that. I try to just be a different person than I was 5, 10 years because I would have never we would never be having this conversation if this crew wasn't a thing. Because I just like I said, I don't like change.
And that carried over into my life. I didn't like meeting new people. You know, I always had a chip on my shoulder. You know, this person doesn't understand where I come from so why should I even associate with them?
How did you find the run crew?
Funny thing is, so at this point in my life, this was probably about three years ago, when Will was cutting hair, I would come into the barber shop and we kind of challenged each other to do, it was 100 push ups on site whenever, and I had been coming into the barber shop since I've been coming into barber shop for years, 10 plus years. And we started with that. We started with the push up challenge. And then after a while, he would ask me, Hey, you want to go for a run? And at the time, I was drinking a fifth a day. Drowning myself. I was working 5am to 2pm. So I felt I had this false sense of accomplishment. I did my eight hours. Let's go get some liquor at 2pm. That was a very dark time in my life. But I was you know, that same mentality of you know, you can't you can't hang. You can't drink this fifth. Yes, I can. Hey, Paul, you can't run these miles with us. Yes, I can. Shits gonna hurt. Probably gonna puke. But I'll be there. And then that turned into the beginning of my mental and physical wellness turn around. Yeah, we just started. We just started meeting every chance we got. Will, Wes, Jabril, David Johnson, Kat, always there. Emily. There was a small core of us that would just link up and just run and then it turned into a route. Littlez, of course yeah Littlez was always there talking his shit. Love it. But um, yeah, it just started growing. And now we got upwards of 60 to 70 people out there on Fridays. I mean, a core group of like, 20 to 30 people. You got people that run intervals, people that walk. It's life changing. It's been life changing for me.
Well, Paul, where can people find you if they want to connect with you?
If you want to connect with me, follow me on Instagram. S-1-m-stagram. Slimstagram. I'm not gonna give you all my number because I don't want you to call me or text me. Meredith, you good.
I can call you and text you?
Yeah, you can call me maybe? You know.
Well, I feel like I could just talk to you all day. But you know, and be mindful of your time. But I so appreciate you having this conversation with me today and being so open and I just am so glad that we're friends and I look forward to getting to know you even better.
Hell yeah. appreciate you having me. This has been wonderful. Looking forward to speaking to you soon. Running tomorrow.
Yes, I'll be there.
All right. Bye, Paul.
That was so much fun. I could have talked to Paul for 12 more hours. If you want to follow Paul. You can find him on Instagram as s1imstagram, that's S - the number one - I - M - S - T - R - A - M. You can also visit the Quirk Hotel and enjoy some of his delicious kitchen creations. If you'd like to learn more about Prolyfyck Run Creww, you can visit the website prolyfyck.org. That's P - R - O - L - Y - F - Y - C - K dot org. If you want to follow me, Meredith McCreight, you can find me on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook with the handle @createwithoutbounds. You can visit the podcast page at meaningtoshare.com and check out more stuff from my brain at createwithoutbounds.com You can find all of Paul's info, my info, all the social links and more in the full show notes where I've also posted a few of my favorite pictures of Paul from run crew, kickball and more. If you loved this episode, please consider going over to Apple podcasts and leaving a five star review. This really helps us connect with more listeners who might find our show meaningful. Thanks for tuning into this episode. Share something meaningful this week, friends. See you next time.