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A Thank You To...

It feels like an eternity since I've put out any content, but I couldn't be happier to be back. Before I go on any further, I want to thank anyone who takes time out of their day to listen to my podcast, 'The Clouded Mind,' read my blogs or even check in on me on occasion. I'm the type of person who rarely reaches out first, not because I don't want to, but because some part of my brain somewhere just won't allow me to, unless it's too late or very important. Over this little break I've taken, my Mom lost one of her best friends to cancer, I've been learning how to deal with serious food allergies (red meat and caffeine) and just been in an overall mental slump.

On the positive side of things, I've finally gotten my driver's permit, fallen in love with a job that was very hard for me to get acclimated with and just got back from my first vacation in two years. Even with all these different things being thrown at me within the past month and a half, I've been managing to practice my speaking skills and also attended my first mental health conference, with another one starting today. While I was on vacation, I knew that I needed to get some type of content out and all those aforementioned factors led to this blog today. I had come to the realization that I simply do not thank people enough, nor do I enjoy the little things in life that some people never get the opportunity to relish.

When I started my podcast in March, I had just been starting to get out of my seasonal depression and was feeling a lot better than I typically do that early in the year. If there's one thing/person to thank first, it's Mark, Haley, Corey and the rest of the FTF family for letting me join them on this great path. I had always loved talking about mental health, but after I left high school, I found it very hard to get my voice heard. They gave me this opportunity and I hope that I've lived up to the expectations that were put in front of me. Along with the podcast, I had just found a new job and I'm the type of person who needs to see my family/friends at least four times a week to stay happy. I'm just a very busy person in general and throwing this job into the mix really packed an already loaded schedule. I immediately started working nonstop on this new project, trying to get the best content out that I could.

The things that people told me after hearing my first episode really rose my spirits. I had finally found that special something I had been looking for. Since then, I've only recorded five episodes, but all five had been different, honest and exactly as I had imagined. Then, my Mom's friend passed away. This wasn't just her friend, either, but mine, too. She was an ever-happy, ever-positive, always willing to joke around type of person. When I got my first job at Cracker Barrel, my Mom had already been there for eight years and everyone thought I would be like her clone. To their dismay, I couldn't be any further away in terms of work-ethic. Yet, this friend clicked with me right away. We used to pull pranks on each other, watch Patriots games while we were supposed to be working and laugh like there was no tomorrow. She was such a bright light, in a world full of darkness at times, and for that, I thank her.

Back in October, I went to a motocross race in Utica, NY. While I was there, I got a tick bite on my leg; it happened to be from a Lone-Star Tick. Due to this incident, I developed allergies towards both red meat and (somehow) caffeine. I would call out of work at least once a week when I was trying to figure out why I was sick every day, but when I finally found the root cause, it was very hard to get used to. My family is Portuguese and we love our red meat. I also took culinary classes in high school and have worked in restaurants for years. Not getting to eat a food that is so popular, not just to me, but all my family and friends, is so difficult. It's still something we have trouble with, especially when trying to decide what's for dinner, or just finding a new type of meat to substitute into the dish.

As a result, I've now developed a fear of going out to eat. I have not, and most likely will not, go to a restaurant by choice for a while. This gets in the way of so much; while on vacation this weekend, my four other friends had decided to go out to eat, but because I wouldn't go, they had to order their food to go instead, since dropping me off made them arrive too late to get a table. It made me feel like such a burden. As stupid as this all sounds, it's the little things like this that I find we don't appreciate as much as we should, whether it's a meal with friends, getting to go on vacation or just the peace and quiet of a beautiful starry night while sitting at a fire. We should always be appreciative of the life that we get to live and the things that we get to see, feel, hear or taste on this beautiful planet. And for that, I thank all the little things.

And finally, the friends, family and acquaintances I've made/met through this life that I didn't think I'd be around for very long. There's so many people who I've met that have changed my life in so many different ways. Whether it was a positive change, negative change or somewhere in between, all those encounters made me into a better person and helped me learn the difference between right and wrong. I can barely go anywhere around my town without being recognized and whether that's a good thing or bad, it shows me that people care. It shows me that people remember. Just the simple fact that I got to live a life on this Earth amazes me, but that life would not be possible without the support I've received from all people I love along the way. And for that, I thank all those friends and family members.

I was taught from a young age to love and, from then on, I've always tried my best to do that, even though I'm usually awful at it. But these past few months, something has changed for me. I'm not nervous to show love to the people I respect and care for. I find life to be too short to shy away from using the phrase, "I love you," no matter who the person on the receiving end may be. Everyone deserves a life of happiness. Everyone deserves a life full of love. Everyone deserves to live the life they were given to the fullest extent. So, why not use our precious time here to appreciate the little things and show love to the people who mean the most to us? You only get one chance to live. Please take time out of your day to reach out and say "I love you" to your friends, because you never know when it will be the last time they hear that. No matter what I'm going through or how silent I've been, I just want to remind you that I'm always available to talk to you, support you and love you. We all have stories to tell and write, so please keep your story going for me. I love you all.

- Charlie (IG: charlie.johnsonkiff / Twitter: @johnson_kiff)

P.S. New episodes soon ;)


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