On The Cliff Of A Creative’s Mindset – Ep.022 – Cliff Washington

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Episode summary:​ Cliff is a podcast host and an art director/brand strategist who’s worked in or around advertising and creative agencies for many years.

We discuss what it was like growing up in upstate New York then spending 15+ years in the city and how he went from growing up in church to exploring how other religions and people lead their lives ultimately helping him to shape the life he leads now.

Guest Name & Bio:  Cliff, share a bit about yourself with us!

“I’m a multi-hyphenate. A creative leader, art director, designer, strategist, illustrator, beatmaker, podcaster, and speaker (did I miss anything? lol).

I was a creative professional in NYC for 16 years, I worked in fashion, radio, advertising, media, and entertainment to name a few industries. I’ve worked with companies including Townsquare Media, ViacomCBS, Essence Media, and Hot97.

I’m Constantly seeking to know myself better and heal from the past. Love a good belly laugh too.”

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[Nick McGowan] that we have where you know we were

talking a bit about the agency life and

[Nick McGowan] how there’s some times where it just it

could be stressful super stressful so how do

[Nick McGowan] you take that confidence that you have in

that way to be able to kind

[Nick McGowan] of pull yourself back and all right cool

i’m here no pressure let me just rock

[Nick McGowan] and roll with that do you feel like

you can translate that into other things now

[Nick McGowan] or or not

[Nick McGowan] yeah yeah there’s uh confidence that comes from

just knowing your and whatever it is and

[Nick McGowan] just going i i know that i know

the things that i know so i’m bringing

[Nick McGowan] these into the mix how do you work

without your newer role and the projects

[Nick McGowan] that you have kind of managing your mindset

in that sort of light

[Nick McGowan] hm

[Nick McGowan] that’s

[Nick McGowan] hm that’s a good point with boundaries since

everything happened with covid and people either went

[Nick McGowan] hybrid and remote working and working in an

office and having to go in every once

[Nick McGowan] in a while or the other people that

all just are completely remote at this point

[Nick McGowan] it can feel like you’re on an island

and it can feel like you’re doing things

[Nick McGowan] by yourself but there is you got to

be able to stand up and say something

[Nick McGowan] and set those boundaries i i talked to

different people at times that uh feel like

[Nick McGowan] they’re abused by the people they work with

because they just expect that they’re always on

[Nick McGowan] doing the things and for the most part

being in a newer role there’s a balance

[Nick McGowan] to that where like you don’t know what

that what everybody else is doing you know

[Nick McGowan] you don’t know how everybody else is working

so how are you balancing your mindset right

[Nick McGowan] now kind of figuring out the lay of

the land what you should what you shouldn’t

[Nick McGowan] be doing and actually what aligns with you

without just cutting and running and being

[Nick McGowan] like map i don’t like any of this

i’m out

[Nick McGowan] okay yeah

[Nick McGowan] yep

[Nick McGowan] yeah

[Nick McGowan] well for the most part you gotta hit some

of it and i think the boundaries thing

[Nick McGowan] is really what we’re talking about we’re going

through because there are boundaries that you can

[Nick McGowan] set within yourself but being brand new to

a place you can be unsure of what

[Nick McGowan] the boundary should be and not wanting to

be like hey i know i’m new here

[Nick McGowan] but i don’t want to do that without

understanding like how to go about it then

[Nick McGowan] you toss them the mixed freelance because at

that point somebody can’t say hey you’re w

[Nick McGowan] two this is what you have to do

it’s kind of a freelance state and it’s

[Nick McGowan] interesting how things have moved in that direction

because there are a lot of people that

[Nick McGowan] are like look i don’t want to work

here anymore i’m gonna go freelance or i’m

[Nick McGowan] gonna go do this or do that and

i think to get outside of the boundaries

[Nick McGowan] a bit i think there are certain people

that are really frustrated in what they’re doing

[Nick McGowan] and don’t know exactly what they want to

do but they’re afraid to dig deeper into

[Nick McGowan] it so they just say i’m out and

i think it’s a it’s a mindset thing

[Nick McGowan] go for it

[Nick McGowan] fit

[Nick McGowan] yeah

[Nick McGowan] six

[Nick McGowan] yeah

[Nick McGowan] sure yeah without constantly looking at is

the grass green or somewhere else without being

[Nick McGowan] able to run away from it now well

i know that you um from what i

[Nick McGowan] know of you you are on the side

of service and love instead of going at

[Nick McGowan] somebody so for the people that are out

there that are kind of in similar spots

[Nick McGowan] and trying to work through that and figure

out what their boundaries are but don’t really

[Nick McGowan] want to just instantly be like no fuck

you that’s not right doesn’t work with me

[Nick McGowan] how would you suggest they go about that

[Nick McGowan] ahead

[Nick McGowan] turn daddy what you actually grew up with

or did you create that character like this

[Nick McGowan] is the a guy who says buck no

and puts his foot down like where did

[Nick McGowan] stern daddy come from

[Nick McGowan] oh

[Nick McGowan] hm

[Nick McGowan] yeah that seems like just a regional northeast

thing we just kind of have a paranoia

[Nick McGowan] almost but just like innate oh so why

don’t you uh want you share a couple

[Nick McGowan] stories that come to mind or episodes in

life that have helped you kind of shape

[Nick McGowan] who you are today either from being in

the city or from when you grew up

[Nick McGowan] what

[Nick McGowan] hm

[Nick McGowan] yeah that’s a bunch of things that’s happened

all strung together to make you who you

[Nick McGowan] are um you’d even said that we’re all

growing we’re all learning i wish that to

[Nick McGowan] be the case i hope that is the

case i feel there are certain people that

[Nick McGowan] just want to do more of that as

they grow up and as they learn there

[Nick McGowan] are also the other people that allow things

to just beat them and just say well

[Nick McGowan] that’s that’s how life works and i just

get beaten and i don’t want to explore

[Nick McGowan] i don’t want to keep exploring you keep

exploring do you think that came from your

[Nick McGowan] parents did that come from where do you

think that came from

[Nick McGowan] six

[Nick McGowan] wow okay

[Nick McGowan] hi

[Nick McGowan] you see hm

[Nick McGowan] yip

[Nick McGowan] oh

[Nick McGowan] you can’t really just stop there with a

yeah like there’s a lot more to it

[Nick McGowan] than that you know that’s that’s one of

those things where some people say uh shitty

[Nick McGowan] things happen in threes or deaths happen in

threes or whatever but that is a legit

[Nick McGowan] it happened in three for you so how

did you how did you manage growing from

[Nick McGowan] there and as you look back now ten

years you know you you lost a couple

[Nick McGowan] major pieces one major piece in your life

and then something that kind of un rooted

[Nick McGowan] everything from you so how do you how

did you manage your mindset through that course

[Nick McGowan] of the time and being able to look

at it now and just reflect upon it

[Nick McGowan] hey

[Nick McGowan] yeah

[Nick McGowan] the

[Nick McGowan] yeah that’s an interesting thing with the meditation

too i know a lot of people kind

[Nick McGowan] of fight with the meditation like going in

all these thoughts like i just want to

[Nick McGowan] clear my mind but what you talked about

it’s really that pursuit of clarity and being

[Nick McGowan] understanding of stuff could come through

[Nick McGowan] yeah

[Nick McGowan] yeah and you talked about it and you

talk to somebody you actually sat down you

[Nick McGowan] took that step to talk to somebody a

lot of people don’t and i i go

[Nick McGowan] to therapy i think everybody should you do

you know think about the time that

[Nick McGowan] you were able to spend actually talking through

some of it even if somebody didn’t say

[Nick McGowan] anything back to you just being able to

get that out process through some of that

[Nick McGowan] that helps how did that all relate to

your faith though

[Nick McGowan] hey

[Nick McGowan] s

[Nick McGowan] yeah

[Nick McGowan] so

[Nick McGowan] yeah

[Nick McGowan] hm it’s so so interesting with um different

people play different roles in our lives and

[Nick McGowan] i’m there with you i think god gives

us that wisdom knowledge and understanding and sometimes

[Nick McGowan] that can come from the weirdest spots somebody

that you run into in a grocery store

[Nick McGowan] could say something that’s in context of their

own conversation that answers one of your questions

[Nick McGowan] so in that sort of sense it’s cool

to see to me at least it’s cool

[Nick McGowan] to see god work through those ways where

you’re like what was that for me did

[Nick McGowan] i just catch that it’s it’s such an

the interesting thing to think that therapy is a

[Nick McGowan] no no uh i can understand like the

moral side where the people are afraid like

[Nick McGowan] i don’t want to actually explore the

shit that’s deep inside of me but you

[Nick McGowan] should just put dirt on it and get

up kid go back um the weird

[Nick McGowan] thing with the religious side and i’m Christian

and i i was in churches for a

[Nick McGowan] long time i didn’t really grow up in

church but in my twenties and early thirties

[Nick McGowan] played worship lead guitar so it was in

churches and saw a lot of people kind

[Nick McGowan] of go through this stage of just wearing

masks but then being things outside of it

[Nick McGowan] i used to make jokes uh even catholic

jokes cause i was raised catholic i was

[Nick McGowan] like man they’d all go in they’d talk

about bake sales and a couple things and

[Nick McGowan] i’d grab one of the pamphlets in the

back and then they’d all walk outside and

[Nick McGowan] just smoke a cigarette and start yelling at

their kids and i remember being like what

[Nick McGowan] is this how does this make any sense

we can’t let people stop us from the

[Nick McGowan] truth so the truth that we believe to

be true is what we believe it to

[Nick McGowan] be without allowing other things to influence that

and you’re smart enough at this point to

[Nick McGowan] be able to look back and reflect on

some of those things so when you think

[Nick McGowan] of your faith now and all the stuff

that’s happened do you think that you have

[Nick McGowan] a stronger understanding of what faith actually means

to you or do you think there’s still

[Nick McGowan] more of that human side that you kind

of battle through

[Nick McGowan] wow that’s interesting it seems like you’ve

done a lot of exploring and we’ve kind

[Nick McGowan] of covered some of that that comes from

your mom apparently the exploration side but to

[Nick McGowan] be able to actually take these pieces and

kind of see what works and what doesn’t

[Nick McGowan] work for you and then kind of do

some of the deep work with that so

[Nick McGowan] when you think of doing just deep work

in general on yourself and through the body

[Nick McGowan] of your own work over the past fifteen

twenty years what do you find that you’re

[Nick McGowan] actively working on now that maybe you think

would have been too hard to conquer years

[Nick McGowan] ago

[Nick McGowan] hm

[Nick McGowan] hm

[Nick McGowan] hm so what would you say would be

one piece of advice that you would get

[Nick McGowan] for from somebody that’s on their path towards

self mastery

[Nick McGowan] well put man what an awesome way to

put that and i appreciate being on the

[Nick McGowan] show today it’s been so great to catch

up uh it’s crazy that we’ve already known

[Nick McGowan] each other for two years at this point

but it’s been beautiful to watch the progression

[Nick McGowan] you’ve gone through even with this new gig

and i always our conversation so thank you

[Nick McGowan] for being on with us today before we

let you go where can people connect with

[Nick McGowan] you

[Nick McGowan] perfect thank you again cliff it’s been a


[Nick McGowan] we cannot forget that at all cliff that

was in that was a great episode when

[Nick McGowan] you had me on your show that was

actually my first podcast as a guest so

[Nick McGowan] thank you for helping with that and you

are a great host you ask i think

[Nick McGowan] at times better questions than i did so

i appreciate that so everybody go check out

[Nick McGowan] his podcasts the notes are going to be

in here and all that so thank you

[Nick McGowan] again cliff it was a pleasure ma’am

[Cliff Washington] thank you nick i’m doing great how are


[Cliff Washington] hm

[Cliff Washington] well yeah because yesterday i you know i

kind of forgot it was friday um the

[Cliff Washington] week so in the middle of the week

Wednesday i went to the city cause right

[Cliff Washington] now i’m in upstate new york i’m on

a bit of a sabbatical from the city

[Cliff Washington] i’ve been there for sixteen years but i

went back wednesday for a conversation with this

[Cliff Washington] guy i know who’s well he used to

be executive creative director for um ad agency

[Cliff Washington] in new york and now he’s um in

the c suite as a chief experience design

[Cliff Washington] officer so he’s given a talk at ogilvy

in new york and you know i saw

[Cliff Washington] it on linkedin and went down great day

he’s a really great guy met a lot

[Cliff Washington] of great people did some good networking um

but y yeah that kind of messed up

[Cliff Washington] my week because when i came back it

was like you know the next day on

[Cliff Washington] thursday going back into the into the regular

work week and by the time like i

[Cliff Washington] said by the time i got the friday

it was just like man what day is

[Cliff Washington] it oh shoot it’s the weekend uh to

uh the next day is saturday wow and

[Cliff Washington] then you know it was another late night

late agency night till like twelve o’clock at

[Cliff Washington] night so that just throws me off

[Cliff Washington] so my name is cliff washington i am

an art director and brand strategist i currently

[Cliff Washington] work with agency ad agency out in california

from upstate new york and like i said

[Cliff Washington] um i was in the city for in

new york city for sixteen years as a

[Cliff Washington] creative professional one thing that people may not

know about me is i’m the first and

[Cliff Washington] my immediate family to graduate college

[Cliff Washington] i mean when i was a kid all

i wanted to do was you know play

[Cliff Washington] play college basketball that’s what i remember the

most so yeah i wanted to go to

[Cliff Washington] syracuse university and playing the carrier dome and

have jim ba heim for my coach but

[Cliff Washington] you know athletically that wasn’t the route and

in terms of i mean my mom she

[Cliff Washington] w in college for me even more than

than i did because you know we come

[Cliff Washington] from a very much working class background so

um to be the first it was it

[Cliff Washington] was pretty cool i mean that was something

that was definitely on my mind going into

[Cliff Washington] college

[Cliff Washington] oh well like in in high school it’s

funny cause i was always the tallest kid

[Cliff Washington] in my class until about i wanna say

eighth grade or so and i just kind

[Cliff Washington] of stopped growing and by the time i

i got to like freshman university i was

[Cliff Washington] switching over from like power forward center to

a shooting guard but all my skills i

[Cliff Washington] had developed throughout the years were more for

like a forward center position so all the

[Cliff Washington] ball handling and shooting and everything um you

know it was kind of like starting all

[Cliff Washington] over again and then i wasn’t necessarily like

super focused on that uh because i split

[Cliff Washington] a lot of the time between like art

and music and such um and then later

[Cliff Washington] on i had issues with one of the

coaches and him being a bit a jackass

[Cliff Washington] so um but at the end of the

day it was more so that um i

[Cliff Washington] think my passion wasn’t necessarily in it to

you know to put in those hours for

[Cliff Washington] for that and um yeah it wasn’t necessarily

the path which is fine and also really

[Cliff Washington] battling a lot of confidence issues that was

kind of half of what i dealt with

[Cliff Washington] playing basketball was not having confidence is funny

because probably within the last three years playing

[Cliff Washington] basketball i developed confidence and acceptance in the

skills that i have and it’s made me

[Cliff Washington] play like a lot better than i ever

used to which is odd you know all

[Cliff Washington] these years later

[Cliff Washington] uhuh

[Cliff Washington] so let me give you this analogy i

don’t even know if it’s necessarily an analogy

[Cliff Washington] but one of the issues i had in

basketball was over thinking it’s like i could

[Cliff Washington] do a lot of working on my handling

um at home in the basement and then

[Cliff Washington] when i’m in the game and i’m thinking

to myself okay am i dribbling right let

[Cliff Washington] me make sure i don’t t dribble it

off my foot so as you over think

[Cliff Washington] about that then you dribble it off your

foot so it can kind of be the

[Cliff Washington] same thing in business and and and whatever

skill or craft is that you’re working on

[Cliff Washington] is like when you put the time in

you put the work and while you’re um

[Cliff Washington] practising whatever that skill of craft is you

don’t necessarily in the moment have to keep

[Cliff Washington] harping back on okay make sure i’m doing

this step one is right and then step

[Cliff Washington] two is like having the faith in yourself

to believe that since you put the work

[Cliff Washington] and you can kind of effortlessly part participate

in and whatever it is that you’re doing

[Cliff Washington] and it will naturally your skill will naturally


[Cliff Washington] i think the number one thing at this

point is having an understanding of the role

[Cliff Washington] within the context of the particular company i’m

working at and you know knowing when to

[Cliff Washington] fight against the tide knowing when to roll

with the tide and that has again has

[Cliff Washington] to do with a sort of how how

can i say it a social awareness right

[Cliff Washington] you know w when it comes to the

politics of a particular place and then also

[Cliff Washington] your own kind of self awareness and what

you can deal with because uh you know

[Cliff Washington] there’s a lot of time there’s two routes

when you’re at some place that presents challenges

[Cliff Washington] either it’s to just accept it and understand

that you can’t change something and not try

[Cliff Washington] to control it or take off and leave

you know so understanding what i i can

[Cliff Washington] do and what i can’t do and when

i can um fight against the go against

[Cliff Washington] the grain and when i can’t go against

the grain and i take some uh maneuvering

[Cliff Washington] and it takes some uh uh kind of

feeling out the temperature which can be uncomfortable

[Cliff Washington] but you kind of have to do

that to be able to navigate a particular

[Cliff Washington] place and then also oh one of the

biggest things is boundaries and that’s i guess

[Cliff Washington] with any point in life but specifically in

the workplace to kind of let your boundaries

[Cliff Washington] be known to whether it’s your higher-ups

or coworkers and because that’s one thing that

[Cliff Washington] people will test if it’s not set you

know pretty early on what your

[Cliff Washington] boundaries are

[Cliff Washington] oh

[Cliff Washington] well well for one sits on freelance uh

there’s a certain amount of flexibility that you

[Cliff Washington] can have um and also working on teams

you know on the weekend if it’s not

[Cliff Washington] uh made known that there needs to be

help uh for a particular project or something

[Cliff Washington] i just said teams on do not disturb

and then i don’t get any messages and

[Cliff Washington] i’ll just get it sunday night or or

monday morning or something you know and it’s

[Cliff Washington] if it’s urgent enough they’ll just like call

me or something like that um but in

[Cliff Washington] terms some of the other boundaries uh there

was another point i was gonna make but

[Cliff Washington] um i think it’s just about trying to

have his real conversations with people um and

[Cliff Washington] what was your question again i wanna

make sure i hit it right

[Cliff Washington] okay

[Cliff Washington] hm

[Cliff Washington] oh got you uhuh

[Cliff Washington] oh

[Cliff Washington] yep

[Cliff Washington] okay

[Cliff Washington] okay so i remember what i was gonna

say i had a conversation with the old

[Cliff Washington] coworker um she is at the tamron hall

show now actually she was on the last

[Cliff Washington] episode of my podcast check it out when

you get the chance to create his life

[Cliff Washington] spotify apple blah blah blah her name is

miranda uh johnson but you know i was

[Cliff Washington] asking her you know how she a similar

question how do you deal with that type

[Cliff Washington] of stuff and her answer to me was

my eyes are always on the prize you

[Cliff Washington] know in terms of her wanting to be

able to start her own thing you know

[Cliff Washington] or a certain position that she has in

mind for uh her future so that that

[Cliff Washington] kept her from just throwing her hands up

and and just walking out the door uh

[Cliff Washington] because on her way to where she wants

to get to she has to be able

[Cliff Washington] to take care of her son you know

she has a family and you know she

[Cliff Washington] just bought a house yada yada so you

know within reason she’s able to compartmentalize and

[Cliff Washington] separate also so she’s not stressing herself to

the point of of the job becoming like

[Cliff Washington] physically and and mentally unhealthy for her so

um again to as much as she can

[Cliff Washington] to be able to focus on what her

ultimate goal is and to not let anybody

[Cliff Washington] kind of steal her joy in the process

of getting there so that’s kind of what

[Cliff Washington] i try to do i try to like

i’ll give you a concrete example it’s like

[Cliff Washington] when i get frustrated with something um and

i’m about to like you know get to

[Cliff Washington] that point of like rage or something like

that i say you know okay is it

[Cliff Washington] worth bringing up this type of stress this

type of um cortisol induced uh discomfort for

[Cliff Washington] this thing is does this thing i’m being

getting stressed about really have some type of

[Cliff Washington] huge bearing on my life you know what

i mean um so it’s a balance between

[Cliff Washington] setting your boundaries and talking to people face

to face or over audio about um how

[Cliff Washington] you actually feel about something and you know

how you you how you feel something like

[Cliff Washington] went down and what you felt was possibly

not right or whatever and then also being

[Cliff Washington] like you know this isn’t worth me um

this isn’t worth me getting my health all

[Cliff Washington] out of whack for and i need to

focus on my ultimate goal but at the

[Cliff Washington] same time you know being be making sure

that you’re um keep your eyes open for

[Cliff Washington] other places that might be a little bit

more healthy for you

[Cliff Washington] yeah

[Cliff Washington] right

[Cliff Washington] that’s a good question so yes i er

on the side of you know love and

[Cliff Washington] support um so i always try to lead

with that but um i also know that

[Cliff Washington] i have the disciplinary daddy in me that

will come out if if prodded and pushed

[Cliff Washington] in that sort of way so that’s the

last resort but it’s there if if needed

[Cliff Washington] um but i think that there is a

certain corporate speak that i try to also

[Cliff Washington] keep in my pocket where you know you

can kind of say fu without necessarily saying

[Cliff Washington] fu that try to like you know make

sure people know where you stand but also

[Cliff Washington] um um i know that given m where

i’ve come from in my history and the

[Cliff Washington] things that i’ve dealt with i also have

to look at myself and say all right

[Cliff Washington] did you not understand something right in a

certain situation or did you miss something or

[Cliff Washington] um i have to leave that door open

that you know maybe there was something i

[Cliff Washington] didn’t do right so if i can have

that clarity that can help me you know

[Cliff Washington] maybe not completely lose my cool if it’s

something that i could have done better so

[Cliff Washington] once i kind of go through those filters

um i think that i get to a

[Cliff Washington] place where that helps guide me when it

comes to being less reactive but again keeping

[Cliff Washington] it in my back pocket if you know

i need to bring out stern daddy then

[Cliff Washington] it’s it’s there too

[Cliff Washington] from a stern daddy you know like my

my dad grew up in uh east new

[Cliff Washington] york brooklyn and you know he grew up

on he wasn’t like of the street but

[Cliff Washington] he grew up in the street so you

had the you had to really um set

[Cliff Washington] boundaries or you could be taken advantage of

really easily and you know i grew up

[Cliff Washington] in upstate new york so you know that

vi that environment wasn’t up here so i

[Cliff Washington] just kind of had to you know i

would observe that every now and then and

[Cliff Washington] my dad when you know people would push

him a little bit too far but then

[Cliff Washington] also being in new york and how to

navigate that environment you have to have a

[Cliff Washington] bit thicker skin and at the same time

kind of keep your eye out for what’s

[Cliff Washington] coming around the corner

[Cliff Washington] oh so i would say that part of

the story arc of my life is um

[Cliff Washington] kind of being on a journey too is

gonna sound kind of cliche and a woo

[Cliff Washington] but a journey of self discovery in the

sense of um you know both my parents

[Cliff Washington] grew up well i i’ll start it out

like this my dad grew up in a

[Cliff Washington] time in new york city where um it

was very like multicultural immigrant neighborhoods so at

[Cliff Washington] the time the black families in brooklyn or

at least that part of brooklyn where he

[Cliff Washington] was we’re kind of a minority grew up

around jewish people italians germans uh polish people

[Cliff Washington] uh my mom grew up in a more

uh predominantly black neighborhood so when they met

[Cliff Washington] in upstate new york and me and my

sister came along we very much had the

[Cliff Washington] life that you know they wish they had

in in suburban slash uh kind of country

[Cliff Washington] area so growing up there was less

[Cliff Washington] know white kids in school and in the

neighborhood so um you kind of grew up

[Cliff Washington] with one notion of who you are but

you’re not necessarily treated the way that others

[Cliff Washington] are treated in this in the sense so

then when you go off to college and

[Cliff Washington] that was my first time being around you

know uh a decent number of black kids

[Cliff Washington] so then culturally you start to learn another

thing and you kinda learn about that and

[Cliff Washington] soak that in but in a certain sense

that’s not necessarily who you are so it’s

[Cliff Washington] all this like kind of stuff all mixed

in it wasn’t until i got to new

[Cliff Washington] york city where i started to find a

trie down there where it was like it

[Cliff Washington] was like this mish mass ’cause it was

in k i went to school in connecticut

[Cliff Washington] so in connecticut and upstate new york things

are just kind of can be stark and

[Cliff Washington] binary and new york city is just like

this you know it truly is a melting

[Cliff Washington] pot so i think within that environment where

i had to integrate so many sides of

[Cliff Washington] myself um i started to get a better

sense of who i am you know it’s

[Cliff Washington] not just you know me being uh blacked

in a white neighborhood or a black kid

[Cliff Washington] in um uh a school within a black

crowd but still us sticking out like a

[Cliff Washington] thorough sore thumb it was just this beautiful

integration in new york city where i started

[Cliff Washington] to feel like okay this is the sum

total of who i am and it feels

[Cliff Washington] natural and i get to express myself and

way without necessarily trying too hard in either

[Cliff Washington] direction and then that’s layered on top of

other things when it comes to you know

[Cliff Washington] different family trauma and everything and trying to

heal from that and confidence issues and trying

[Cliff Washington] to heal from that so i think at

this point in my life that kind of

[Cliff Washington] makes up the sum total of of who

i’ve become and can obviously we’re all continuously

[Cliff Washington] developing and um you know that’s a non

stop journey ti you’re six feet under or

[Cliff Washington] whatever so i think that that’s uh a

decent synopsis of you know where i’m at

[Cliff Washington] right now

[Cliff Washington] to keep exploring yes i think that um

my mom in particular is someone who um

[Cliff Washington] she was def definitely she is more uh

adventurous than my dad so she kind of

[Cliff Washington] planted that seed of discovery not necessarily self

discovery but i think uh discovery in general

[Cliff Washington] and then i think that you know my

my older sister was a bit of a

[Cliff Washington] hippie so um i think i got a

piece of that from her and then i

[Cliff Washington] think uh going through ’cause i i so

i grew up in church uh like four

[Cliff Washington] days a week you know like choir rehearsal

and bible study and there was a

[Cliff Washington] soup kitchen that was ran on fridays and

sunday service sometimes two services a day and

[Cliff Washington] when i saw that uh constantly break down

in terms of infighting and backstabbing

[Cliff Washington] and all that stuff then that kind of

told me that all right all this what

[Cliff Washington] all this was built up to be isn’t

turning out they’re not they aren’t who they

[Cliff Washington] say they are so it’s like how do

i find my own path you know not

[Cliff Washington] to say that i’m like a um an

atheist or anything like that but still it’s

[Cliff Washington] like how do i find my own spiritual

path so given that process of evolution within

[Cliff Washington] spirituality it’s like all right what other processes

of evolution are there outside it’s the spiritual

[Cliff Washington] realm or how does the spiritual evolution connect

to other forms of evolution so’s just kind

[Cliff Washington] of constantly going down that route and then

i saw one of your questions with like

[Cliff Washington] it was basically what was a pivotal moment

in your life or something or something that

[Cliff Washington] instigated the type of change and that was

probably around twenty eleven twenty twelve when i

[Cliff Washington] think within like a a span of a

month or two uh my dad had passed

[Cliff Washington] my girlfriend had left me and i had

been laid off for my job so at

[Cliff Washington] that point it’s kind of like you know

either you you know take a moment to

[Cliff Washington] stop seek some type of help or you

know you just kind of in uh spend

[Cliff Washington] the rest of your days in this your

own like personal hell or something like that

[Cliff Washington] so yeah

[Cliff Washington] well i think that what helped a lot

was um deciding to go to therapy after

[Cliff Washington] all that and being in having someone to

kind of unleash a lot of that on

[Cliff Washington] uh because i hadn’t really done that before

and i think that it it can it’s

[Cliff Washington] very difficult to face those moments because um

i think at the bottom of it you’re

[Cliff Washington] kind of you get to a point where

you really have to look at yourself in

[Cliff Washington] the mirror and that’s kind of the the

biggest pain point for i think all of

[Cliff Washington] us um i don’t think anybody wants to

look at themselves and see certain deficiencies or

[Cliff Washington] pain or trauma because you know you don’t

know if you’ll uh survive that and very

[Cliff Washington] leg legitimately some people have not survived that

you know they haven’t some people haven’t so

[Cliff Washington] i think and also what carried me through

that was um i had a friend group

[Cliff Washington] at the time and i’m still friends with

them and you know we had all been

[Cliff Washington] kind of going through break ups at the

time too so we had kind of formed

[Cliff Washington] this lay miserables group that would meet up

a couple times a week and uh gets

[Cliff Washington] get drinks at a local gentlemen’s kinda cocktail

bar and i don’t mean gentleman’s as in

[Cliff Washington] like strip strip club place but just like

you know old style like gentleman’s bar so

[Cliff Washington] you know having the therapy and friends to

kind of release all that helped a lot

[Cliff Washington] and then i discovered meditation around that time

and you know i had read a little

[Cliff Washington] bit about it and was highly confused about

how how it would be helpful and i

[Cliff Washington] had decided that you know i’ll try it

i don’t know if it’ll help or not

[Cliff Washington] but i’ll i’ll try it and excuse me

at first um i didn’t really see any

[Cliff Washington] type of benefit to it cause it was

just like alright i’m just sitting here excuse

[Cliff Washington] me and i’m sitting here and i

can’t really stop my thoughts and over time

[Cliff Washington] i was able to kind of settle into

um the practice in the sense of not

[Cliff Washington] trying to expect any particular thing out of

it and just be able to sit and

[Cliff Washington] um try to focus on the breathing and

when my mind wandered just try to come

[Cliff Washington] back to the breath without blame or um

or or putting myself down and then over

[Cliff Washington] time you know you start to notice things

change you start to become more aware of

[Cliff Washington] of and also i think age too has

to do with age but you start to

[Cliff Washington] become more aware of uh either things that

trigger you or not to be as um

[Cliff Washington] triggered by certain things and um and when

that happens you start to gain more confidence

[Cliff Washington] in who you are what you can do

what you can’t do what you’re deficient in

[Cliff Washington] what you need to work on to relieve

those deficiencies or what deficiencies are just kind

[Cliff Washington] of you know just part of who you

are so yeah i think that was the

[Cliff Washington] basic process

[Cliff Washington] oh and one one more thing is that

when it came to the the trauma you

[Cliff Washington] know if my father dying or losing the

job or losing uh a partner you know

[Cliff Washington] that type of morning just has to kind

of have its own timeline and i i

[Cliff Washington] you know kind of constantly relearn that is

the worst thing to do is kind of

[Cliff Washington] hide from that type of grief because it’s

going to have its day eventually and you

[Cliff Washington] just kind of have to go through it

[Cliff Washington] um well the the way i grew up

in church is is gonna be a weird

[Cliff Washington] way to relate it to it but um

it wasn’t necessarily it wasn’t um they didn’t

[Cliff Washington] it wasn’t looked nicely upon to go to

therapy basically at least in the the church

[Cliff Washington] that i went to so you know if

you had to resort to going into therapy

[Cliff Washington] and this is within the church and also

within uh black culture you know is a

[Cliff Washington] moral failing if you can’t just kind of

depend on praying praying it away and i

[Cliff Washington] think that revealed something to me in the

sense that and this is kind of on

[Cliff Washington] along my spiritual past and the spiritual

journey is that um i found out that

[Cliff Washington] people would say that because they were afraid

of what they might find uh if they

[Cliff Washington] really had to confront themselves instead of just

praying it away or saying that they were

[Cliff Washington] trying to prey it away and that kind

of broke down the walls and when it

[Cliff Washington] came to the facade that i got from

you know the church that i went to

[Cliff Washington] now on the other side in terms of

how faith relates to therapy is that and

[Cliff Washington] i think i told my mom this before

you know if if god is responsible for

[Cliff Washington] everything then he’s also responsible for the knowledge

and wisdom of therapists so we shouldn’t have

[Cliff Washington] any type of qualms about you know seeing

a therapist if um if you want to

[Cliff Washington] go that route and then also um you

know there’s nothing really new under the sun

[Cliff Washington] any feelings or emotions that a human has

had today you know a human has had

[Cliff Washington] ten thousand years ago you know to a

different degree of human development so um i

[Cliff Washington] think that when i when i when it

comes to say buddhist philosophy or christian philosophy

[Cliff Washington] um i think i take the heart that

god again has created people with the knowledge

[Cliff Washington] and the wisdom who aren’t necessarily your your

priest or your pastor that can help you

[Cliff Washington] um heal from certain traumas and they don’t

even have to believe themselves it’s just you

[Cliff Washington] know they were put in that position so

yeah that’s that’s how i feel about that

[Cliff Washington] oh

[Cliff Washington] oh yeah i absolutely have a stronger understanding

of my faith which is you know it’s

[Cliff Washington] much more complicated than it was when i

was in in high school so um at

[Cliff Washington] this point i’m pretty much best way i

would have to put it is agnostic in

[Cliff Washington] the sense of um i feel like i’ve

talked to enough people from a variety of

[Cliff Washington] cultures where i think that there are multiple

routes to the same thing you know whether

[Cliff Washington] you’re christian ah muslim buddhists hindu and i

think that was a big eye opener for

[Cliff Washington] me is that there’s so much wisdom and

knowledge and and a variety of world religions

[Cliff Washington] that um i think i take heart in

knowing that because you know there are similarities

[Cliff Washington] and some of the creation stories but also

big differences too but i think it sort

[Cliff Washington] of grew my faith in the sense of

it wasn’t stuck to this one particular thing

[Cliff Washington] you know because yeah i think you know

within the christian faith like you know baptist

[Cliff Washington] feel that they have the one true way

to heaven protestants thing they have the one

[Cliff Washington] true way lutheran sing you know but knowing

that there are other religions that are trying

[Cliff Washington] to explain our existence and have different uh

rules and philosophies that can be uh helpful

[Cliff Washington] and some hurtful but able to to pick

from those to kind of form my spirituality

[Cliff Washington] and or at least continuously nourish my spiritual

journey is what i have in in my

[Cliff Washington] faith right now probably the one that is

most prominent in my life right now and

[Cliff Washington] you know i think in certain schools they

don’t necessarily uh consider themselves a religion but

[Cliff Washington] within buddhism it’s i think brought me a

certain amount of peace and a certain amount

[Cliff Washington] of understanding of the world that um makes

the most sense to me at this point

[Cliff Washington] in my life right now the thing within

christianity that interests me is one um having

[Cliff Washington] a better understanding of different text that talks

about that is kind of pre king james’s

[Cliff Washington] translation of things that jesus was talking about

i think that fascinates me and then also

[Cliff Washington] um i have this book that’s kind of

like afrocentric uh christianity or something like that

[Cliff Washington] but understanding it from that perspective to has

been a eye opening because of the way

[Cliff Washington] that christianity was kind of taught within my

church growing up in america so seeing the

[Cliff Washington] breadth of understanding of christianity has been a

big help

[Cliff Washington] i would say my own like deficiencies and

foibles when it comes to um over thinking

[Cliff Washington] or you know learning in a different way

when it comes to traditional schooling cause that

[Cliff Washington] was a source of you know great shame

and i think at this point in my

[Cliff Washington] life there’s just an acceptance around it and

a better understanding of how i digest information

[Cliff Washington] so with that i can then participate in

things like say um understanding math from the

[Cliff Washington] point of business and budgeting it helps me

be able to get better at math overall

[Cliff Washington] than necessarily how it was taught in high

school through you know kind of the traditional

[Cliff Washington] institutional structured way of that they taught it

and for some people that works but for

[Cliff Washington] me it didn’t but understanding from i guess

the real world um the real world perspective

[Cliff Washington] of being able to take care of a

monthly budget or putting financial goals together or

[Cliff Washington] um you know what it takes to run

a business and profit and loss and stuff

[Cliff Washington] like that i think something that i can

get my hands around in my own personal

[Cliff Washington] life makes that a little bit easier for

me to participate in

[Cliff Washington] there is no for i feel for true

self mastery there’s no way around the pain

[Cliff Washington] you just have to walk through it which

is in itself can be traumatizing and very

[Cliff Washington] difficult and contest you to the limits of

your ability but i think that is the

[Cliff Washington] only one true way to self mastery

[Cliff Washington] same here

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