Lewis Weil

I turned 40 yesterday (January 22, 2023). I am feeling the best I ever have. This journal entry is to acknowledge how at middle age I am feeling at my best and reflect on my gratitude for my first 4 decades. Over this last year I felt like I was entering a new era of my life, or at least how I look at it is new. My 20s and 30s were marked by a lot of personal, professional, and external turmoil. All of which weighed on me more than I knew. Tragedy and loss are part of life, I’m not deluded into thinking I won’t face adversity. But I have faced great challenges and come out on the other side. I now know I can handle them and feel that the world will continue to turn. I’m not defined by my setbacks and losses.

After 7 years of running my business I finally feel confident that I’m pretty dang good at my job, and am getting better at being a leader. My early career I was changing positions frequently, and often had multiple jobs and projects at once. Always with one eye on the door. It has sunk in that this really is what I do and will be my vocation for the foreseeable future. My lizard brain isn’t panicking and looking for an escape anymore. I have done a lot of hard work to get here, which I can acknowledge that yes I did the work, but it was with a tremendous amount of help that I was privileged to have.

My wife Rachel first and foremost. She has been an inspiration and source of immeasurable support since we were college kids. She’s my partner, my best friend, she’s my roommate that I don’t get sick of. I wouldn’t be a fraction of who I am now without her. We’ve taken turns supporting each other financially and spiritually over the years. I would not have been able to start my business without her having a stable job. She recently quit her job to be a fulltime artist and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be taking my turn as the one with the stable job.

I worked with several therapists, doctors, and coaches recently. For years I’ve been going to Jessica Worthington for therapy. She’s helped me get past my codependence and build my sense of self. She caught my burnout last year and helped me turn myself around.

Importantly last year I went to Dr. Sandeep Mistry for a checkup. He found that my testosterone levels were normal, but low. For years, especially during covid, I was overworked and not taking care of myself. My health was suffering because of it. He put me on a Rx that increased my endogenous testosterone production. Which as a side effect gave me renewed energy to start taking care of myself and working out again. Which has largely fixed my own testosterone levels. That factor surely can’t be understated for my new found sense of confidence and well being.

As a result of that work I worked out with Tony Thomas at Kilter Fitness for several months. Learning how to work out got me to actually work out consistently. Which has done as much for my health and mental wellness as anything. I notice that if I haven’t worked out that I get anxious. Which leads to burnout, as I learned from Jessica Worthington.

With my business growing consistently I found myself in greater and greater positions of leadership. I would not call myself anyones boss but I am the spoke of the wheel of our cooperative. I need to be confident in our vision and hold our own in partnerships. I worked with Melanie Vessey at Promotional Rescue to learn how to hold myself out to the world. She did a lot to help build my confidence as a professional.

My next coach was Bob Madonna. One of my personal losses was losing my father a decade ago. I didn’t realize what a loss that was, not having his guidance at this stage in my personal and professional life. I was skeptical about working with an “executive” coach. But I knew as soon as we met for the first time I liked him and had a lot to learn. He taught me to give quick, precise feedback. How to get ego out of the way. And most importantly how to delegate. That my life would get better, my colleagues would be more fulfilled, and the company would do better if I could delegate. When I started working with him I added up 9 different roles I had at work. I’ve now handed off many of those roles and my colleagues are doing fantastic jobs and are more invested in the co-op than ever. I am still over busy, but it's much better, and I have time and energy for things I didn’t have before.

Small but not trivial, right before my last birthday I started using minoxidil (rogaine) on my hair. For over a year I’ve used it daily and its worked well for me. During quarantine and the transition to mostly working in videochat I’ve watched age and stress thin my hair more and more. Various barbers and stylists talked about shaving my head, getting plugs, toupees, and one finally asked why I hadn’t tried rogaine. Rogaine is for old guys in commercials from the 1980s, not me. I luckily gave in and tried it, and responded well to minoxidil. Now I have more hair, and fewer gray hairs, than I did a year ago. The best part is all the energy I got back that was spent staring at my scalp.

This last year I got to spend less time on my environmental work. It's time consuming, laborious, and expensive. My ambitions and means didn’t line up, and I had to accept that. Though as a result of my environmental work I have befriended some indigenous peoples and have been lucky enough to spend time with them in ceremony. Their friendship and learning about living on the land indigenously has been life changing. Just seeing first hand that there are people living differently is a revelation.

After thinking about it for many years I took up oil painting last summer. I remember reading once about Monet and how he continued painting late into his life, even as his vision failed him. There are many activities where our performance peaks at a young age, painting is something we get better at with age. It rewards practice and experience. I am enjoying learning to paint and look forward to decades of finding my voice on the canvas.

Last but not least, my extended family. My mom, brother and his wife, my two wonderful nieces, my inlaws, cousins, and friends who are as close as family. They have always been there for me and I hope I’ve shown up for them too. Everyone is healthy right now and I feel so fortunate for that. I got to see many of them over the holidays and in the leadup to my birthday. It's been a reflective and beautiful season.

For our anniversary my partner took me to Monterey, CA to go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and go whale watching. I have been obsessed with sea life since I was a toddler. Seeing whales was on my things to do while I'm alive list. This will be baked in my memory for rest of my life. The moment I spotted one I gasped and was elated. If I had just seen whale spouts in the distance I would have been thrilled. Seeing whales breaching was beyond anything I ever dreamed. I can't wait to do it again, maybe next time during Blue Whale season. Below is a video I put together. I edited to build anticipation, but if you want to skip to leaping whales the action really starts around 2:12.

We went out with Blue Ocean Whale Watching in Moss Landing, CA. The captain and onboard scientist were awesome. They taught us that the whales are there to eat fish and krill for months, before migrating to tropical water off Mexico to mate and give birth. They will likely not eat after leaving the bay and need to fatten up enough to migrate and then nurse a 30' whale calf. So they gorge in Monterey Bay day and night for months!

I have been experimenting with hydroponically starting seedlings on sheets for my ecological restoration projects. This I am going to say is a failed experiment thus far. The seedlings start out strong. The rate of sprouting in the hydroponic trays anecdotally seems great. They do not seem to be transitioning well to soil. A squirrel accidentally did me a favor and tore up one of the sheets. I noticed on the underside of the sheet there were many roots coming through. Prior to this I had also noticed the sheets needed more frequent heavy watering than seeds started outside on bare soil. Considering my goal of saving water and making it easier to get a prairie patch started this is not the outcome I'm looking for.

There are variables I might test in the future. Perhaps a material thinner or more open than jute mats would like more roots through. I have been using humidity domes on the trays because it encourages sprouting, perhaps it is discouraging root growth. These are variable I might test later, but I have learned a lot from this failed experiment!

Plus I'll need to figure out what to do about the squirrels digging up the sheets.

this is a purple martin bird house in a park near my house.

purple martins were nearly extinct. invasive birds* had crowded them out of their nesting sites. the species has made a resurgence because people started keeping artificial nesting sites for them. now 90% of purple martins nest in structures maintained by volunteers. what we do as individuals to help nature matters, every little bit adds up.

*introduced by someone who wanted all the birds mentioned Shakespeare to be in nyc central park!

When one thinks about environmentalism they are probably thinking about conservation. Actively protecting beautiful, natural places. Or maybe one thinks of waste reduction and recycling. Or maybe planting trees. Which are all needed and wonderful actions. What I am personally interested in is a practice called Ecological Restoration. It is the science and art of trying to rebuild ecosystems on land damaged by human action.

In the process you remove what you can from human activity, get rid of invasive plants, and plant a large diversity of grasses, flowers, trees, that would have been there before the land was altered. To try to restore wildlife habitat.

I think restoration is beautiful and poetic environmental work. Most of us can't create a national park or protect untouched wilderness. But anyone can make the little bit of ground they have access to better for wildlife by planting native plants. Doing that creates habitat for wildlife. Helps the soil hold water, sequesters carbon, and it's beautiful. It is something I am trying to make a bigger part of my time on Earth. I think if a place can be wild that it should be wild.

One can restore their yard to be wild, spread native wildflower seeds in an empty lot, or volunteer with restoration projects in your town. We can undo some of the damage humanity has done and make the world a more vibrant and healthy place.

My side yard where I removed the lawn and am planting local grasses and wildflowers.

This is a blog post about getting a desk. This post is the first thing I am writing from my desk.

For the first time since college I don't have a pet or an aquarium. This morning someone came and bought all my aquarium stuff and then shortly after that my friend Amber brought me the desk I bought from her. For environmental and style reasons i like to buy used/vintage everything, with all biodegradable parts.

It's a midcentury all-wood teak desk. She bought it used and now I'm buying it from her. I am very happy to have found such a perfect desk and to have been able to get it from a friend.

I am trying to think and experiment much more about my spaces that I live and work in. This desk is an exciting part of the process. And don't worry, I'll have an aquarium again before too long.

LeVar Burton, Mr. Rogers, and a Fishtank

Spring arrived all at once yesterday in Austin. The cicadas started calling, the redbuds opened, and the first bluebonnets bloomed in the hellstrip prairie!

During the nearly week long power outage I saw talk about how much it must suck to have an electric car when you don't have power. True, you can't recharge at home off the grid. But it actually was wonderful to have my Leaf last week. Electric cars are enormous batteries that happen to have some car seats sitting on top of them. Before the blizzard I made sure my car was fully charged and then I sealed it up and put away the charging cable. We had no power for days, but we several kilowatts sitting in the driveway. My mom also has an electric car. It was great for both of us because you can safely go sit in the car to warm up without worrying about carbon monoxide. I've heard from people who slept in their EVs in their garages. You can't do that with a gas car. We were able to use my car to keep our power banks charged. I would charge them during the day and then we could plug in our phones and stuff at night. I let my neighbors know if they needed emergency warmth they could warm up in my car. We were iced in, no one was going anywhere, so it didn't matter that I had limited range. But I did know if I really needed to I could find a charger in a part of town that didn't lose power. Gas pumps need electricity too, so no one was refilling their vehicles in neighborhoods without power.

I'm now considering getting solar panels and battery backups so we can avoid this in the future. But that is tbd.