The Microdose Journals: day 1

I’m writing this post on mushrooms. Well, mushroom. I just took one. I’m microdosing. The idea is that you take a small enough amount of a psychedelic (psilocybin or LSD generally) so that you can go about your day and function normally. It is a very interesting take on psychedelics, a less is more strategy. Rather than melting a hole in the fabric of reality like you do with a heroic dose the idea is to integrate the benefits of psilocybin in a way that is useful in everyday life.

I have been seeing a lot of chatter on the internet about microdosing recently, but the information seems blurry at best. As is often the case with internet articles it seems every blog post is just re-hashing some other article. So my plan here is to keep a journal of my microdosing experiment for a few weeks and share how it goes.


How do you microdose? In a nutshell you take the same small amount of mushrooms every four days. I like to just chew mine up with a bite of breakfast and wash it down with a glass of juice. No messing around brewing an extra pot of tea. So, one day on and then three days off. This is so that you don’t build up a tolerance to the mushrooms. The exact amount that you want to take will vary depending on your size and chemistry. I am pretty sensitive to all intoxicating substances in general so a very small cap or a large stem works great for me. I’m using Panaeolus Cinctulus, which I have heard a bit mild and mellow compared to other varieties.

For right now I have nothing to report! I am sitting here drinking my morning cup of coffee and getting some work done, it’s a typical morning. The point of this exercise is to document the effects of microdosing over the long term.

I tried microdosing for a few months last winter and really enjoyed it. I often struggle with the winter blues during the darker months here in the northwest. I think I have a touch of the Seasonal Affective Disorder. While taking microdoses of mushrooms I found the winter blues didn’t get to me at all. (I think this might be related to how sun light affects serotonin and I will explore that more in future posts.)

So if you are curious about the benefits, hows, whys, and whatnots of mushroom microdosing stay tuned!

Morning Meditation

A handful of Autumnal leaves scattered

(boring brown, pumpkin orange, rust aflame)

on the meditation table this morning.

A distraction from the usual meditation

thoughts: sleepy worries, hungry ghosts.


Oh, but I want to see

the world itself!

The flash of a trout tail

on the surface

Call of geese towards

an unbroken world

This heart once wise

as the stars

You are not bad at anything

Perhaps by now you have heard of the idea of “growth mindset”. It is the idea that your attitude towards facing challenges makes a huge difference in whether you will overcome the challenge or give up. I first started hearing about this a few years back in the context of education. The idea is simple: some children are taught that what matters is effort. In other words it doesn’t matter what grade you get, or whether you raise your hand and know the answer or not, what matters is that you try, and that you learn. From this perspective failure doesn’t really matter, it is a part of the process of learning.


The other opposite mind set is called fixed mindset. People with a fixed mindset think they are either good enough based on natural talent or they are not. Fixed mindset people tend to give up a lot sooner when faced with a challenge. If they can’t do something right on the first few tries they give up and try something easier. (Presumably fixed mindset people would be terrible at skateboarding.)


This difference in mindset is why some people, when confronted with an obstacle just give up, while others keep trying until they figure out how to overcome it. The latest findings in psychology suggest that the mindset we have is a huge indicator in growth and success throughout life. It’s the difference between saying “I can’t do this” and “I can’t do this yet!”


If you are familiar with this theory then none of this is news. (It is championed by Carol Dweck and seems to be popping up everywhere lately, here is an in-depth article over at The basic take away is that educators and parents should praise children for making an effort more than for getting the answer right or wrong (which does feel a little counter intuitive at first.) But here is where I think it gets interesting. If you see a chart explaining growth versus fixed mindset they tend to leave you with the impression that there are two kinds of people in the world “growth mindset” people who suceed at everything, and “fixed mindset” people who are just losers!


Obviously in real life things aren’t that simple. Rarely do we meet someone who claims to be good at everything, or terrible at everything (in fact I would recommend avoiding both of these hypothetical people if you do ever meet them.)

The truth of the matter is that most of us say we are good at some things and bad at others. For example I have always thought of myself as a highly creative person, I am good at certain things like creativity, thinking outside the box, writing pretentious poetry etc. The  flip-side of that is I have often said I am bad at lot’s of practical sorts of things, for example “I am bad at math”, “I am bad at being on time”, “I can’t keep a budget because I am just bad at keeping track of money.” We all do it. We claim we are bad at certain things and that is just how it is. In other words we have a fixed mindset for some things and a growth mindset for other things! Everybody is both sides of the spectrum at once!

Now think about it. This means that we are not really bad at anything! There are just certain things we haven’t had the grit or determination to get good at yet. In other words there really is no such thing as being bad at something, there is, if we are being honest with ourselves, only laziness about getting better at some things. Often when we tell ourselves that we are bad at something, really it is just an excuse to be lazy and not make the effort to do something the right way!

You are not actually bad at anything (maybe you are just a little bit lazy.). Let that sink in for a moment.

Here is an example. I used to lose stuff all the time, I was the absent-minded professor, it seemed I couldn’t leave the house without misplacing my wallet, my keys, losing sunglasses, forgetting my hat at the last place I had sat down etc. I told myself, well that’s just how it is. I am bad at keeping track of things. I can’t help it. Finally after spending a small fortune on hats I decided enough was enough. I bought a hat rack and I bought a small hook to place near my front door for my keys. I made a spot for all of the stuff I had a tendency to lose and every time I left or entered the house I got into the habit of stopping and checking that I had everything. It took time and effort but within a few weeks I had retrained myself to not lose stuff all the time! It turned out I wasn’t inherently bad at keeping track of things I just hadn’t learned how. And telling myself I was just bad at losing stuff kept me from making the effort for a long time!


I want you to try this. Make a list of five things that you think you are bad at. It could be anything at all, no matter how big or small

  1. I am bad at doing the dishes
  2. I am bad at playing guitar
  3. whatever . . .

Write down five things that you have always just thought you suck at. Now think about what effort would it take to get good at that thing. The truth of the matter is you just haven’t put in the practice to master that particular skill yet. Write down what it would take to get good at thing. The last step is to decide if that is something that you think is worth the time and effort to get good at. You might say “I’m bad at math, and that’s fine, I’m just not interested in it.” But if it is something you would like to improve you can.

If you do want to get good at whatever it is, then cross out the sentence where you wrote you are bad at it, because it is not true. And write down your intention to make an effort to improve at the thing you would like to improve.

And then get started!

A Robert Walser quote I like


, ,

Every word comes from the heart. How beautiful it is, after all, to have a quaking, sensitive, choosy heart. That is the best thing about a person. A person who does not know how to preserve his heart is unwise, because he is robbing himself of an endless source of sweet inexhaustible strength, a wealth that, if he wants to remain human , he will never be able to do without.


On Writing Retreats

I just got back from doing a writing residency in France. I was at the Chataue . . . Chatuea . . . hang on I have to look this up, I can never spell that word right!


I was at the Chateau du Monthelon in Burgundy, doing a writing residency. It’s a beautiful place and I felt very lucky to be invited there to get some work done. The Chateau is an ancient castle out in the country side. It is surrounded by pastureland with grazing cows, so there is very little distraction from the peace and quiet that is conducive to getting focused and getting writing done. It also had some of the most beautiful skies I’ve seen anywhere.


Of course one of the main reasons a residency is helpful creatively is that it gives you a chance to meet and talk to other people who are in residence, who are creating and working on something, and this can be inspiring.


Actually if you are a writer or a theater performer or film maker, you might be interested in considering a residency at the Chateau du Monthelon. If so a few things to consider: they are specifically a residency that is for starting new projects. If you go, you really should know a decent amount of French or else it will be difficult for you to be connect with people as French is what is dominantly spoken there.


Most of the other residents are there working on circus inflected theater performance peices, but they are open to pretty much anything, I gather. It is free to stay there, and it is peaceful, and beautiful.


I have written about the benefits of taking a retreat or a residency before, and I want to point out you don’t have to go all the way to France to do one. You can take a retreat to focus on your creativity just for a weekend or an overnight stay somewhere. I think it does help to go outside of your normal routine, to be in an unfamiliar enviroment. One because a new environment stimulates new perspectives. Two because when you are away from home you are automatically away from a whole lot of distractions and chores and are left with nothing else but to focus on the creative woprk that you are trying to get done. One of my favorite mini-retreats is to drive to the coast, which is a few hours from where I live, and stay in an affordable trailer park for a day or two. Taking long walks in nature or on the beach is one of the best ways ever invented for getting clarity and creative ideas. My point is if you are interested in taking a writing retreat, or a creativity retreat don’t limit yourself to thinking you have to go live abroad for a month, you can jump start whatever you are working on with a much smaller, easier (and cheaper) residency that you design yourself.


That said, if you can afford the time to go somewhere for a protracted residency there are options all over the world. Think about what you are going to get out of the place you are staying. For example depending on your personality you might need a place that is peaceful and quiet to get work down, in which case you should consider somewhere rural. Or you might be the kind of person who needs stimulation, a bit of background noise and hubbub, in which case you should consider somewhere in a city. Also consider the length of the project you are working on, are you trying to finish a project, or start something new, are you looking for outside ideas or a just a way to be with your own thoughts. Design the ideal retreat experience in your head and then go looking for it.

One of the simplest writing retreats I’ve ever heard of is that of Maya Angelou, who would simply rent a room in a cheap hotel to get away from the distractions of home and write.

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

I have kept a hotel room in every town I’ve ever lived in. I rent a hotel room for a few months, leave my home at six, and try to be at work by six-thirty. To write, I lie across the bed, so that this elbow is absolutely encrusted at the end, just so rough with callouses. I never allow the hotel people to change the bed, because I never sleep there. I stay until twelve-thirty or one-thirty in the afternoon, and then I go home and try to breathe; I look at the work around five; I have an orderly dinner—proper, quiet, lovely dinner; and then I go back to work the next morning. Sometimes in hotels I’ll go into the room and there’ll be a note on the floor which says, Dear Miss Angelou, let us change the sheets. We think they are moldy. But I only allow them to come in and empty wastebaskets. I insist that all things are taken off the walls. I don’t want anything in there. I go into the room and I feel as if all my beliefs are suspended. Nothing holds me to anything.

— Maya Angelou


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