ANDREW FOLKLER

How Long is 10 Minutes?

How Long is 10 Minutes?

Image Credits: Fidel Fernando on Unsplash.

How long is 10 minutes? This was the question my father posed to me when I was 11, a question that would become one of the most important pieces of advice my father would offer me. 

You see, I had just joined the middle school band and my homework was to practice my clarinet 20 minutes for five days a week. Now for many students, myself included, this was an easy request. I would come home from school, go down into the basement, practice and the moment my 20 minutes was up, I was done. I was already doing well in band, so I thought at the time, and this was just another minimum requirement of me. 

The most important lesson my father ever taught me

"Parental Alienation can happen to anyone,
so it should matter to everyone."

“Not very long…” 

My father responded, “Yes, but that is 50% of the total time you spend practicing. Imagine what would happen if you practiced for 30 minutes instead of 20? You would be putting in 50% more time than everyone else. Just by adding 10 minutes, which you said is not very long. You would learn 50% more and you would be learning faster. Hell, you could maybe even raise it to 40 minutes and you would be putting in double the effort everyone else was putting in. You would be twice as good as everyone else.”

So here I was, my 11 year old mind completely blind to the life lesson presented to me, and I could not figure out if this was a subtle demand or overt encouragement. At the time I was apathetic to band, so I thought, “Well? What’s the harm?”

He would later emphasise that long practice sessions at my level would lead to practicing mistakes. And he was right. I did not have the endurance to practice for 2 hour blocks. On the other hand a small extra effort everyday would lead to the greatest successes. And so, I practiced 5 days a week for a minimum of 40 minutes.

The Power of 10 Minutes

By my first concert, I played my first solo on stage. Several audience members and band friends congratulated me for my intonation and technique. My father who beamed brightly, said “See son? ‘Not very long’ makes all the difference”.

In my second year of Clarinet, my peers and I participated in a competition hosted by the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association known as Solo Ensemble. Students would either perform solo pieces accompanied by piano or play as an ensemble. The ranking system was from 1 through 5, with 1 as the highest ranking. I was awarded a 1 for playing Mike Hannickel’s grade 2 piece ‘Chalumeau on the Go’ solo with accompaniment. 

In the years moving forward, I joined several different concert bands, played numerous concerts and I was always 1st Clarinet. When I joined the Bishan Park Secondary School Band I played the Eb Clarinet (Soprano Clarinet or Piccolo Clarinet) for several arrangements of Joe Hisaishi’s music in Studio Ghibli films. This opportunity was only offered to me because I had strong intonation and the technique to play the fast flutters and rhythms with the flutes and piccolo.

 

10 Minutes Today, Success Tomorrow

As I continued to grow as a musician, I never forgot my father’s lesson. A little bit of extra effort everyday will snowball into greater success. Anything I chose to apply myself to be it writing, studying psychology, or even learning something completely new, I would devote a little bit of time everyday, sometimes making the most insignificant progress. But I know I am not doing this for instant results, I am doing this for the long term. 

Currently I am teaching myself French solely because the language interests me. Truthfully, I only have tiny pockets of time between work and my writing endeavours. As a result, my progress rate is indeed slower than it was for Clarinet. However I am willing to bet that I will be fluent enough to read, speak, and watch French films in the years ahead. All with the power of 10 minutes.

 

Andrew Folkler

#Erased: My Review on the documentary Erasing Family

#Erased: My Review on the documentary Erasing Family

Erasing Family is a film that documents and presents the aftermath of family court. In the USA alone, an estimated 22 million children are alienated from a parent and/or family member(s) after the divorce. The trauma of such a separation is incalculable. The child grows up believing an elaborate lie and, in their desperation, they participate in venomous behaviour to keep the lie alive.

Watching the film as a formerly alienated child brought about a myriad of emotions. As I listened to the stories of Dizzy, Caroline, and Corinna, I found myself lost in a sea of memories.

Survive, there is Nothing Else

I was about 6 years old when my parents divorced. My recollection of these years is fragmented and fuzzy. Frankly, I believe my psyche has repressed these memories. Thinking back, I mostly remember the arrival of my stepmother and the swift process of alienation that took place. Within weeks, she gave me a narrative to believe in.

My mother was vilified and as a child I had to accept a black and white perspective. At that point in my life, shades of grey were beyond my comprehension. I just wanted to know what the adults knew. And in my state of vulnerability, I accepted this false narrative as part of my identity.

What Erasing Family does is it unapologetically presents the true face of alienation. Alienation occurs when a child is emotionally manipulated and programmed to ostracise one or more targeted family members. In my experience, I have been on both ends of the spectrum; I was alienated from my mother for 12 ½ years and I have been estranged from my brother for 8 years.

Make no mistake, when a child accepts this narrative, they are acting out of self-preservation instead of malice. A child is not born with hatred, they are taught to act this way. I was interviewing Bill Eddy for my podcast, Broken Families, and he said that alienation functions in the same way as prejudice. Prejudice is the inherent act of repulsion towards a targeted person or a group of people without a legitimate reason. The target is treated as a source of potentially life-threatening danger. The end result is a huge overreaction to the target whenever they attempt to come close, be it socially or physically.

In the Erased Child’s Mind → Intimacy = Danger

Likewise, we see the same in parents who are estranged from their children. The children are taught to believe that intimacy from the erased parent is a sign of life-threatening danger. To the alienated child, that intimacy can jeopardise their safety, their current family, and is a potential gateway to extreme emotional pain.

So why, you might ask, why would erased children like Brandyn or Brian in the film be so comfortable with the alienating parent? Why reject the love of a compassionate parent and turn to affection from someone who is colder, manipulative, and potentially narcissistic?

The answer lies in trauma bonding.

Love Built on Fear

Trauma bonding is the nature of the relationship set up by an abuser and the victim. The abuser uses polarising behaviour to reward obedience and punish disobedience.  In doing so, the victim learns to conform to the identity prescribed to them. Over time their true self is eroded. The victim suppresses their emotions when it does not serve their abuser. As a result, they give up their autonomy completely to their abuser.

More importantly, the abuser enmeshes their acts of affection with their antagonistic behaviour. The rationale is inherently toxic; they hit you out of love and to prove their love they ask if they can treat your wounds. The victim’s mind is rewired to associate intimacy and love with aggression and manipulation. This balance of malice and affection is well maintained by the abuser.

Erased Children Believe they are in Social Debt

In Bert Hellinger’s book, Love’s Hidden Symmetry, Hellinger points out the distinct trait of agreed exchange in a relationship. Both parties implicitly consent to acts of giving and taking from each other. In this exchange, they create a sense of intimacy between each other. If one party takes too much without compensation, the other party begins to withdraw. Likewise, if one party gives too much, the other party typically feels obligated to reciprocate. If reciprocation is not possible, the person will withdraw from the relationship.

The act of giving and taking is well balanced and consensual. In contrast, the alienating relationship has a more sinister dynamic. The alienating parent will employ manipulative behaviours such as downplaying emotions, gaslighting, and victimisation to ensure the child feels obligated to give back to the alienating parent.

The child starts their relationship in debt so to speak.

Most people who find themselves in this state of social debt feel compelled to repay this debt as quickly as possible. The child is reminded constantly “If it weren’t for me, you would be nothing.”

The sense of obligation makes tolerating the abuse easier. The child can make justifications for their alienating parent because they believe they owe that parent a social debt. The insidious truth behind it all, is the debt is a lie and the child is led to believe they are indebted their entire life.

Affection with Strings Attached

Alternatively, the actual displays of love and affection from the erased parent are viewed as dangerous. In the child’s mind they recognize that affection comes with pain. The alienated child can’t anticipate where the pain is coming from. Despite the fact the erased parent has no intention of being abusive, the child views the affection as a premeditated attack.

Erasing Family demonstrates this dynamic very well, especially with the relationship between Karyn and Brian. When Karyn presents Brian’s new birth certificate to him after filing adoption papers, Brian says “I think she was like, much more like, making it a bigger deal than I was. She was real excited. I felt like she was a little nervous, pretty nervous to ask me…”

The passivity in Brian’s tone and language is key here. Firstly, Brian sensed this was important to Karyn. He recognised the emotional vulnerability regarding whether she can take the place of his biological mother. Given his history with Karyn and the absence of Caroline, his mother, we can safely conclude that Karyn feels her identity and role as a mother is threatened by Caroline. Brian unconsciously knew the emotional weight of the matter; flippancy was not an option. Brian was also hinting his discomfort with the new birth certificate. However, in his stage of alienation, he remained passive and accepted this “gift” from Karyn.

A Gift for Me That is Given to You

Make no mistake, this “gift” is merely an act of serving Karyn’s vanity as a stepmother. However, if Brian rejected this gift, despite the legal and emotional strings attached, he would be betraying his core identity and Karyn.

Brian is forbidden to express himself as an adult. Like Winston Smith of 1984, Brian has no choice but to blot out the past for a more acceptable history. Instead, he is still caught in the role of the child playing the role of an adult. He is a cog in a machine only to serve a false narrative. Brian is obedient regardless of his personal desires because Big Brother is always watching.

The Child Pretending to be an Adult

In 2010, I avoided going home as much as possible. My alienating stepmother was 6 months into chemotherapy to treat her Stage I breast cancer. Emotionally it was a difficult period for the entire family. People who are familiar with how chemotherapy impacts a person will vividly remember the agonizing pain it brings. Chemotherapy leaves a person in a state of nausea, chronic bodily pain, and physically weakness. On a psychological level, the individual is experiencing a mix of fear, anger, and high stress from the physical side effects.

I wouldn’t wish this experience on anyone.

Chemotherapy amplified the anger outbursts in my stepmother. Walking through the front door, I would check to see if she was in her room. If she was, I could quietly work on my homework and study. It was the best way to not draw attention when she was home. On other days she would be waiting at home, ready to find any reason to start a conflict. Home had become a minefield.

Erasing Family showcases how these invisible forces influence the behaviour of an alienated child. The child has no sense of innocence anymore. Instead, they have shut down their emotions. They remain at a high state of alertness to avoid conflict. Obedience is the road to self-preservation. They cease to be a child and they become an obedient adult in the body of a child.

Aging 10 Years Overnight

During the height of the chemotherapy, my father sat me down and said,

“Andrew, today you are 15, but right now I need you to be 25. It is not fair. If I had the ability to change this all for the better I would, but I can’t. And right now, I need you to think like someone who is 10 years older”

I think about this experience a great deal largely because there hasn’t been a way for me to return back. Today at 26, I see myself as 36. Instead of the bliss of college love and fraternity, I am pulled by the invisible forces towards preventing my own mid life crisis. I had to undergo my own hero’s journey to find some semblance of truth in the experiences of my life.

While not directly articulated by the film, the alienated children in the film seem to have similar sentiments. Questions of identity lay front and centre. Who am I? What part of me is true? What part of me is the trauma? Generally, these existential questions will provoke discomfort in anyone. Yet, when an alienated child recoils from affection due to old habits, how many of these defence mechanisms will continue to define their identity?

Will Erasing Family Change the Landscape of Family Court?

I have watched Erasing Family three times.

The big million-dollar question is what kinds of changes can we expect in the future from Erasing Family? With the success of Ginger Gentile’s film Borrando a Papá (Erasing Dad), Ginger was able to radically change policy within Argentina. Erased fathers were able to see their children in Argentina and form meaningful relationships with their children.

With Ginger and her team at Erasing Family, I believe we will see similar outcomes on a slower level. Erasing Family has been screened in countless locations and has been covered in media such as NBCThe Atlantic, and Psychology Today. Police departments and law firms are using the film as training material to improve their judgements in high conflict family cases.

If anything, Ginger and her team have declared boldly and proudly, that change is possible. Parents who have been silenced due to family court, toxic exes, and abuse can come together and share their truth with the world. By continuing to shed light on the unseen truth of alienation and family court, the ripple effects will butterfly into tangible change.

You just have to believe your voice and your truth matters.

A Final Warning to the Reader

Be wary of apathy when viewing Erasing Family. It will not serve you. A viewer who has not experienced alienation may find themselves in contempt of the alienators. They may scoff at their behaviour and declare that it is so easy to see. Additionally, they may even claim they are infallible to such an occurrence. Beware this false sense of invincibility. Alienation occurs at the lowest moment of separation. After separation, many parents found themselves swallowing hard truths about their ex. Not only was the person they loved a completely different person, their ex possessed the capability of projecting their anger on the children.

As my friend Wendy Perry would say,

"Parental Alienation can happen to anyone,
so it should matter to everyone."

Wendy Perry

Watch Erasing Family on Tubi here.

Watch Erasing Family on YouTube here.

To see additional resources on Erasing Family visit their website here.

Andrew Folkler

Why Don’t Alienated Children Speak Out

#Erased: My Review on the documentary Erasing Family

Preface

For the purposes of brevity, I am not going to go over the mindset of alienated children. If you are unsure what a child goes through during the abuse of parental alienation, I would suggest you come back to this article another time and do your own research first.

Introduction

Every now and then I see this question crop up in Facebook groups in many forms.

“I wish more alienated children would speak out”

“I am so glad you are speaking out, but we need to hear it from a child’s perspective”

“Please talk to my child, maybe if they heard your perspective, they would understand what has happened to them.”

Now before I dive into any specifics, I am by no means an expert. I do not have a degree in psychology and I do not work with alienated children regularly. I am just a guy with an opinion.

That said, my opinion is based upon my own personal experience, both as a formerly alienated child, and as a former public speaker for the Parental Alienation movement. So, without further ado….

Why Alienated Children Do Not Speak Out?

While I wish I could break it down in a simple way, unfortunately the answer is multifaceted. What I can do for you is break this down into a few parts.

Alienated children avoid speaking out due to the impact of their abuse, the pressure that comes from being a public figure, and lack of incentive.

Impact of Abuse on Alienated Children

The nature of abuse involves a certain level of fear and submission to the power of the abuser. The victim typically believes they are unworthy of love and affection and thus, strive to “earn it” through appeasing the demands of their abuser. To prevent the victim from leaving, the abuser inculcates the mindset of helplessness into the victim while simultaneously building fear of the outside world. Abusers will rationalize their self-serving behaviors as “what is best for the victim”.

Once the victim reaches a breaking point, their fear of staying with the abuser must exceed their fear of leaving their abuser. Once this stage is reached, the victim takes a jump into the unknown and leaves behind their abuser. The story does not end here; in fact, it has only just begun.

Alienated children who break from the cycle of abuse find themselves in a similar conundrum seen in all abuse victims who leave their abusers. Oftentimes, people assume once you are free from an abuser that self-growth and healing begins naturally. Depending on their state of self-awareness, victims either undergo the arduous process of healing, fall into patterns of unconsciously continuing their abuse through abusive partners, or some combination of the two. How often do you find a friend or loved one who consistently finds a partner who may be charming at first, but soon shows their true colors as a narcissistic person?

Breaking the Cycle

There are a couple things to pay attention to when working with your friends who struggle with these recurrences.

Firstly, the individual must learn to value themselves enough to have unchanging personal boundaries. Abuse victims are taught early on by their abuser that they do not deserve boundaries. In fact, these victims are required to earn their boundaries through complete and total submission. How many times have you spoken to an individual who was so blatantly open about their past traumas? Consider for a moment, were these people speaking from a point of vulnerability or a point of pride? From my observations, abuse victims reserve their vulnerability to their abusers. Anyone can proudly list trauma after trauma to showcase a false display of strength or intimidate nosy people. Rarely, do these victims learn to share their true feelings and emotions with someone who will not use that vulnerability against them.

Secondly, the individual must find their own ground to stand on. Sounds simple enough. Most people learn this in their adolescence. However, in the absence of personal boundaries, comes the absence of personal values.

When every single day is a struggle to survive, loyalty is reserved for the provider.

Abusers use this to their advantage by requiring the victims to engage in anti-social behavior. This has multiple effects. The victim is first isolated from anyone unapproved by their abuser. This prevents the victim from seeking help, learning to build meaningful relationships with others, and most importantly prevent them from finding their role in the community.

As a result of these impacts, the abused victim must recognize first the deficits they have in terms of socialization and personal identity. This is where their fear of reintegrating in the world arrives from. If they have no place to belong, who would take them in? The abuse victim must go against this fear and try to relearn to be a social member of society. In this process, they have to undo habits ingrained in them that reflect their old subservient identity and embrace a new persona.

The victim must find their own strength, their own money, their own place to live. They must walk through the ugliest parts of their past and recognize that these are lessons to learn from. Only then, does the victim find their true identity. Otherwise the victim will continue to run from the pain. In doing so, they run into the same abusive loop again and again.

The Unseen Nature of Publicity

Being a public figure requires a high level of tact, communication skills, and a strong emotional foundation. As mentioned before, finding one’s own inner emotional strength is one of the hardest challenges posed to an abuse victim. The next step to become a public speaker requires something much more difficult, being vulnerable.

Vulnerability in Alienated Children

Vulnerability is a complex issue to tackle. Over the years, I have witnessed thousands of parents clam up after the betrayals from their fallen relationships and then refuse to take that chance again. Unfortunately, to their disappointment, these individuals will find all the comfort and joys of true intimate friendships and relationships to be behind the walls of coping mechanisms built from their own trauma. Many of them attempt to justify their behavior by displacing the blame on someone else. “There are no good men/women anymore” or “Nobody values a relationship anymore”. The irony is these parents then wish an alienated child would bring down their own walls and build a relationship with them.

Vulnerability between our loved ones is a difficult task. It requires us to wholeheartedly trust that the individual will respect our boundaries, autonomy and values. When someone fears vulnerability, they are expecting the other party to make judgement calls, insist on fruitless advice, and to misconstrue their experiences to the outside world. If we scale this up to being a public figure, you can infer the intensity of these fears. The worst part of being a public figure is that the judgement calls, the fruitless advice, and the misinterpreted experiences are far more emotionally taxing despite being a smaller percentage of the total supporters.

The Result of Not Setting Boundaries

To put this into perspective, an alienated child must first learn to break out of the abuse cycle and then build a public platform as a speaker. In this community, most parents rush immediately to the formerly alienated child with questions. After some time, the questions are very similar.

  1. What is your story? How did you figure it out?
  2. This is my entire life story, what do I do next?
  3. Can you do a favor for me? What is your contact information?
  4. Why don’t you act this way? You should listen to me because I know better.
MY MISTAKES

My biggest mistake when I entered the public arena was not learning to set boundaries for myself. At the time, I thought I was acting on integrity by bending over to invasive questions and attempting to pose as an advisor in roles I was not qualified for.

I have taken time away from holidays to counsel parents, when my mother whom I was estranged from, deserved my attention far more than anyone. There was a night where I stayed up late until 1am helping a parent work through emotional pain, while knowing I had to be at work at 6am. I have been requested to speak to alienated kids which in the few times I had done so, further estranged them from their parent.

When religion and politics are discussed, many parents will cease to support the alienated child on the account of brainwashing or difference of opinion. Some will make irrational commentaries suggesting the values held closely by the formerly alienated child are directly part of their trauma. Such comments are completely unwarranted and demonstrate a level of projection within the accuser. In my own experience, I strictly kept politics and religion away from my speaking platform at the expense of my identity. The result was having to constantly deflect questions regarding my personal beliefs.

Do You Have the Moxie?

Becoming a public figure requires a high level of tenacity. You are directly seeking out conflict by challenging the social norms that dictate society. As a public figure, you represent the collective feelings of your supporters. Many people are trained to avoid conflict rather than seek it. This feeling is exacerbated in the abuse victim. As the platform grows, you will find many people who will look for ways to attack your credibility and your character. Personal history is treated as a vehicle for slander. Typically, you can expect your supporters to protect your reputation and shun out the hecklers. In this fashion, a public figure continues to be safe as long as he/she maintains a specific set of values which are held dear to the masses. Make no mistake, this adoration from supporters can be dropped and reversed into ostracism overnight.

GAZE INTO THE ABYSS FOR TOO LONG AND THE ABYSS GAZES BACK

In my own experience, I came to the hard realization that I was becoming the embodiment of what I had escaped. My public message may have helped many. However, my content was built upon slanderous behaviors and actions. While people may argue such behavior is justified, I found far more empowerment within myself years later by focusing on building my own identity. Many people took advantage of the pro bono work I was doing. At the same time, no one recognized the anger I carried underneath it all. As a result, I burned myself out, ultimately receding from the public eye.

Now in no way am I stating that public figures should be free from this level of scrutiny. Rather my goal in this description, is to make clear what the role entails. Through my own experience, I found myself burnt out due to my own lack of personal development. In retrospect, going public did help me find my own inner truths, but as I have mentioned before the process of healing is painful. If you have not stepped into the public eye, consider for a moment your own reasons for not doing so. It is likely that many alienated children have similar reasons not to.

Lack of Incentive For Alienated Children

Upon reaching adulthood, our personal responsibilities define our daily routines. The people who have the benefit of learning and following the frameworks of previously successful people will quickly find a path that suits their financial, social, and familial needs. Make no mistake, this takes a great deal of time and a keen sense of observation. The effort required to build a successful life certainly does not come easy to most people. The majority of us find ourselves working 40 – 60 hours a week to earn enough just to pay our bills. The remainder of free time is devoted to family, friends, and recreation.

Without diving into the politics of the matter, true success in public platforms requires a full-time commitment. If you go behind the scenes, you will find a 10 minute long YouTube video may take up 4 – 6 hours of time to create it. This blog I have written has taken me almost 10 hours to conceptualize, write, edit, and proofread. I did not learn to write well overnight. At a certain point, the content creator must make a value judgement.

What are the incentives? How will the bills be paid at the end of the day?

“I Want You To Give Me Your Time and Effort for Free”

You may have seen formerly alienated children are beginning to create and sell reunification courses for parents. This has sparked some debate and even led some parents to engage in slanderous behavior. On one hand, many parents have been bled dry due to alimony, child support, and the cost of their legal fees. Some of these parents feel that their financial lack is yet another barrier to reunification. As a result, they project that frustration and anger onto the course creator. I have seen demands for all this content to be released free to the public so that anyone can benefit. Their justification is an appeal to morals. If the online course was free, only then will these people accept the course creator as an individual of compassion, integrity, and authority. Otherwise, these people complain that the course creator is selfish, a charlatan, and greedy. The irony is too blatant.

The most intimidating gatekeeper to having alienated children as public speakers is the supporters themselves. You will find even the most active advocates in the parental alienation community are degraded and slandered daily. Their aggressors have absolutely no idea, how much time and effort these advocates have put in for other people. They too have to set boundaries. These advocates have their own struggles. Like you, they too have to pay their bills and feed themselves. To ask anything more of these advocates is to be manipulative and selfish.

Action Items

I have learned that by transforming our internal world, we are able to ripple change in the external world.

Before wishing for more alienated children to speak out, begin first by examining the environment they are walking into. These young men and women have lived significant portions of their lives without a loving maternal and/or paternal influence. Their boundaries are minimal. They believe they are able to think for themselves, yet act on defense mechanisms set in place by their abuser. In order to really help these young men and women, first they need to find their true sense of self. That is a solo journey they must embark on. What you as an individual can do for them, is simply be a lighthouse in a storm. Show them the dangers, but let them find their way to safety.

I would personally recommend undergoing your own journey of personal growth as well. Take a moment to really think about what makes you happy and what makes you unhappy. Identify the behaviors that are hurting you and make changes to live a life on your terms. Live actively, not reactively.

Lead by example and others will follow.

Until next time,

Andrew

Andrew Folkler

One Million Dollars, No Strings Attached

#Erased: My Review on the documentary Erasing Family

Image Credits: Akshay Nanavati on Unsplash.

Just about a year ago, I realised I was approaching a plateau at work. I had been working in retail for 4 years at the time. Each year I was promoted and if I continued to work hard, I could easily run my own store in 3 – 4 years. 

I would make well over 100 grand a year before bonuses and could even get my foot in the corporate world if I dared to. 

Several of my colleagues were on this path and I knew I could achieve the same results. The career ladder was secure, a tried and proven way to make a comfortable living. The only requirement from me was time and labor. The rest of the journey was already planned out. 

One Million Dollars, No Strings Attached

I think back to an interview I once bombed in 2016 where my interviewer Zak Slayback asked me, 

“If you had one million dollars, with no strings attached, what would you do with it?

I had no idea.

Desperately wanting to say something, my mind defaulted to looking for a pleasing model answer. Mustering whatever courage I had left for this interview I said,

“I want to start a business.”

And calmly he replies, “Ok… business in what?”

I had no answer and I knew I blew my chance. At the time I had no idea what I liked or disliked, let alone wanted for myself.  I just wanted a quick solution. I wanted someone to tell me this is the ladder to success, go climb it. And it was painfully obvious to him that I was blathering my way through this interview. 

Don’t get me wrong, it is a difficult question to answer. It took me 4 years to come up with something tangible of my own. Some people go through their entire lives without ever finding their own answer. 

Life is What Happens After You Make Plans

From 2019, to the time of writing this post, every dollar I saved went to my copy writing business. Whenever I was not at work, I was studying at home, learning the craft and inching my way towards my goal. 

In that time, I have burned out several times at work, got myself dangerously close to being fired, and sacrificed a great deal of time out with friends. I set goals that were met with ease and many others that were met with repeated failures. 

I planned to start full time copy writing in March of 2020. 

And then COVID-19 came around. 

Toto, I’ve Got A Feeling We’re Not In Kansas Anymore

Admittedly, I didn’t know how I was going to be able to navigate through the pandemic as a freelancer. I waited, read articles from those who were more experienced and ended up focusing my attention namely to my current job in retail. 

After all, it is easier to walk a path that is planned out for you. 

I realise now, I let my own fears kick in and spent two additional months working in a job I had outgrown. All for whatever security I could cling to. And while I could make a strong case for myself – I have bills, a mortgage to pay, and plans to see family across the world.

What good does it do me to continue to fear making that transition anyway? If I am not responsible for my own success, who will be?

But Andrew, if you make one too many mistakes, you won’t be able to pay your bills. You would fall apart. Your credit will tank. You could lose everything you earned! 

Well friends… beyond the yellow brick road is a man pretending to be a wizard. 

The true magic lies within ourselves. 

And it is worth more than a million dollars.

Andrew Folkler