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  • Writer's pictureMegan Belden

Ep 2. Yung Pueblo: Clarity for Connection

Meditator and author Diego Perez, known primarily under his pen name Yung Pueblo, sits down with Cecily to discuss his undimming process. Like so many of us, Diego experienced alcohol and drugs for relief and recreation in his twenties but after a particularly dangerous experience, found himself searching for a deeper, healthier way of living. 


Tune in as Diego shares how meditation brought him to his own version of a ClearLife, the evolution of his close friendships, and his advice for navigating social events alcohol-free. 


About Diego Perez

Diego Perez is a meditator and #1 New York Times bestselling author widely known on Instagram and social media networks through his pen name, Yung Pueblo. He has amassed an audience of over 3.8 million people. His writing focuses on the power of self-healing, creating healthy relationships, and the wisdom that comes when we truly work on knowing ourselves. His first two books, Inward and Clarity & Connection, were both instant bestsellers. Diego's third book, Lighter, debuted as a #1 New York Times best seller. He has sold over 1 million books worldwide that have been translated into over 25 languages. Diego's fourth book, The Way Forward, was released in October 2023.


Diego is a Co-Founding General Partner @wisdomventures


Follow Diego: 





Transcript

This transcript is autogenerated.


Cecily Mak  00:00

You're listening to Undimmed, a podcast about living a clear life without dimmers. I'm Cecily Mak.


Diego Perez  00:14

I started meditating two hours a day, but I was also still consuming small amounts of alcohol in marijuana, and I could feel how the alcohol was really just not allowing my mind to go deeper. It was not allowing my mind to become more subtle. It was almost like blocking my progress. It was just like this density that I was adding to my mind. And as soon as I stopped smoking marijuana, when I stopped drinking alcohol, and I kept meditating, I felt like I was getting smarter. It was like my brain was fixing itself. And it was so clear. I was like, Wow, this was really bad for my brain.


Cecily Mak  00:57

That voice you just heard, that's Diego Perez, someone I'm blessed to call both a dear friend and a colleague. Many of you know him under his pen name Yung Pueblo. He's a meditator, a poet, and he's written four books, including Lighter, a number-one New York Times bestseller. In this episode, we'll hear all about Diego's journey from alcohol and drugs to mindfulness, poetry, entrepreneurship, and even venture capital. And Diego has some really good advice about how to socialize without dimmers, a topic that I know is alive for many of us. We spoke right after he returned from a 45-day silent meditation retreat. I know you just popped out of a 45-day meditation retreat, not just any meditation retreat, but a silent meditation retreat. And let's kick off with, how's it going? How's your emergence? How are you today?


Diego Perez  02:05

I'm doing really well today. I feel incredibly grateful. And there was a funny thing that happened, a question that was asked by someone that I work with. It's like, how do you come back from these things? You know, you've been quiet for so long. And I thought about it for a moment, and I have a process. I come back. The first thing I do is we fill up the fridge so we, you know, we drive over to the grocery store, we get healthy food. I make sure to get on the treadmill and run so that I start re-strengthening my body, and I eat well, and then after that, the most immediate thing is checking in with each one of my family members to make sure that they're all doing well. Because, you know, every family member has their own world. They all have their own issues and things that they're dealing with, and I noticed that it took a lot of energy this time. My brother's been having a difficult time. He's been sick. My mother's also sick, and the family's been struggling. 2023 was a hard year for us, so just making sure that they were okay, and to just see how I could help. And now I'm back at work because they're doing well. And I think it just that one question, kind of like, set up and showed me, you know, how do you come back? And it's like, well, if I'm going to serve others, well, I have to work on myself, like, I have to be fed, I have to be healthy in my body, and then check my family, make sure they're good, and then back to work. 


Cecily Mak  03:32

Yeah, that's so beautiful. I love it. I think too many of us, we take time out of our routine, or we're out of touch for whatever reason, and particularly with the devices that we have in our pockets and all the demands and ways we have to connect online and beyond, we can jump very quickly to work and kind of the intellect machine demands, bypassing body, bypassing heart. And that's really cool that you notice that. Well, welcome back. So this is a podcast about what I call clear life. We spend time exploring how people have evolved their relationships. With dimmers is my kind of current favorite way to describe this So, and we all have them, and we know they can be anything from the very common alcohol, drugs, also common, but less spoken of, social media, yes, work, shopping, even generosity, or, you know, hypervigilance or hyper attentiveness can work as a dimmer it's really anything that stands between us and our true like experience, our true feelings of life or presence. And you and I, over the years, have spoken a number of times about. About your journey on this topic, because years ago, you made a change that from, you know, the way I understand it really transformed the trajectory of your life, absolutely. So what I'd love to do today is travel back in time a bit you were not a best-selling author yet. You didn't have millions of Instagram followers. You're not running a venture fund or doing 45-day retreats. You were in a different moment of life, and I'd love to go back there. So first of all, when was that? How many years ago? Was it, you know? Or what year was it when you made that choice to shift your way of relating to these dimmers of your choice?


Diego Perez  05:51

So it was a long time ago. It was the summer of 2011 when the big change happened. But it's funny, because I don't think I've ever talked about this in a podcast, but the way you, you know, were speaking, you brought my memory back to this feeling of like Groundhog Day that I was going through in those times where I was living with my mom and dad. I graduated from college in 2010 and then I that year I would spend it basically smoking weed every day. You know, I would wait for my parents to leave, and I smoke in the on the porch. And I remember smoking and being exhausted by the repetitiveness of every single day. I was like, I'm literally doing this every day. Nothing is happening. Like I have no nowhere to go, have nothing to do. I feel terrible every day I do this, and I don't even like this. The repetition of it, you know, it took a while for it to move me into action. And it wasn't until that moment where, you know, I wasn't just smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol, I was sort of waiting for the party so that I can do more drugs. My life was just like this blandness, until I would find another party to go to. And in the summer of 2011 there was one night where I did way too many drugs, and my body was overloaded. It was in this mode of just basically shutting down, like I remember being on the floor crying, like feeling my like my heart was going to explode. My heart felt like it was moving in ways where I had never moved before, and I was just on the floor trying to will myself to be alive, and it was quite a scary moment, and I should have called the ambulance. I realized that was really stupid, because I was, I was so embarrassed, yeah. And I was like, how did I get here? Like, this is so bad. Like, my parents literally emigrated from Ecuador in 1982 I was four years old. My brother was 10, in the hopes of us possibly getting a better life. And I'm like, literally throwing that away. And I didn't know why, like, I didn't quite understand why I was in that place, why I was in this repetitive mode, why I kept trying to hide from my emotions with drugs and alcohol and anything else that I can consume, and I realized later on, after I had that scary moment, that it's because I'm lying to myself, like I'm lying to myself about how I'm not okay, like I don't feel okay inside. I feel way too much tension, and I need to start acknowledging it. But that's the picture that was in in that moment.


Cecily Mak  08:44

Wow. So let's unpack this a little bit, if we could, and I'll kind of open the door myself. I speak and write pretty openly about alcohol use. It's common. So many people are experiencing it, yeah, some struggle with alcohol. It's very socially sanctioned. There's a very open public conversation about alcohol these days. You know, no big deal. Similarly, with marijuana, I think it's kind of a it's even seen with that, you know, lessening stigma today, maybe than alcohol. But I know myself kind of the more shadowy parts of my partying days were actually cocaine. Oh, yeah, me too. Yeah, I don't talk about that very much. In fact, this might be the first time I'm even using that word on the podcast, because there's enormous shame around it, like, What the hell is going on there? And the relationship between cocaine and alcohol is a really dangerous one in that, at least I know in my experience, I could drink a couple drinks and feel great, but if I wanted to have a third drink and I was out, I was very happy to find someone to offer me cocaine, because it just kind of balanced it out. And then the consequences of that come. Nation, physically, you're reminding me of them in your description. It's an unpleasant memory in my body. Is that what you were dealing with then, as you're combining coke and alcohol, or what were your drugs?


Diego Perez  10:12

I would combine alcohol cocaine, but I also be like smoking marijuana the whole way through, and then, like, whatever else, like, you know, like Adderall, and some people are prescribed Adderall, but like, it's also, if you take it in certain ways, you can definitely make an intense statement. A lot of pens, you know, like, it just depends on what was around. And I always had this, like, lined on the back of my mind was like, okay, I can do whatever, as long as it's not heroin. But that was, like a lie I told myself, which did not keep me healthy, like I almost still lost my life.


Cecily Mak  10:52

Oh, Diego, yeah, I get that. I get that. And it's, you know, it's interesting that that reference you make to kind of, you know, whatever's around is very telling of what's actually happening beneath the surface when we're in those modes, right? So in your case, kind of, you know, taking yourself back now, and by my math, you're in your early 30s. This was a while ago. Do you remember what it was, if anything that you didn't want to be experiencing? What were you reaching for things to relieve yourself from?


Diego Perez  11:32

Yes, so there were, there was this feeling of, like, literally, a feeling in the body that mentally would sometimes manifest as anxiety, other times it would manifest as sadness. It was like a feeling, like the heaviness that would start emerging in the body if I spent too much time alone, or if I spent too much time sober, and it like was this, like quiet concrete, like tension, and I was never, like, diagnosed with anything. Could have been depression. I had no idea what it was, but it was this deep feeling that scared me. And when I felt it grow too big, I was like, oh, I need to mediate this with, like a substance. So that's why I would, you know, smoke like five six joints a day. So I was spending very little time sober, just to not have that, that just to not feel that, yeah, and that's that was in that moment when I almost lost my life. It was like, okay, you don't feel good. Just admit it to yourself you don't feel good, and that's where it all. You know, the opening for a new life started.


Cecily Mak  12:47

So then what happened? So you had this you had this wicked night, your heart's racing. You're thinking you might die. You realize you don't feel good. What happens next? 


Diego Perez  12:57

What happens next is, I remember them the day after, I felt so delicate. I felt delicate, like, if I would walk too fast, my heart would start exploding again, if I would like do anything, you know, so I was just like, moving around so cautiously. I remember getting food. And even in the restaurant that I was in, I was like, my heart just started moving crazy again, and then after about a week, it kind of relaxed a little bit, and I realized that I need to change my habits. So that's when it kind of really kicked in. Was like, okay, lying to yourself got you here, ignoring the need to take care of your body also got you here. Like, at that time, I was so unhealthy, like, you know, I was also smoking tons of cigarettes, almost like a pack a day. So, like, I was doing all these things. I was just weighing down my mind and body. And I remember the week after that, I started walking, and I started looking online for things that would nourish the body. And this was like a very pre wellness era. We're talking summer of 2011 and I remember the one thing that I found was barley grass. Apparently, barley grass is, like very nutritious and and I ended up buying, like a $30 tub of barley grass that came. And between walking, you know, taking the barley grass, I was like, I feel better two weeks after that, you know, two weeks after almost dying, I'm like, taking these things, and I'm like, Oh, I feel better. Are you using still through this? No, no, I stopped. So I stopped using cocaine, and I think I stopped smoking marijuana for a while, because everything felt like too much. And I also stopped smoking cigarettes. Then too which I forget, and then I think I started smoking, like, rolled up tobacco later, after my body got stronger, but I really took a break from everything.


Cecily Mak  14:54

Wow. So you really tackled it from a physical standpoint, got your body moving. And got your body nourished,


Diego Perez  15:01

physical and the mental standpoint was I knew that the problem was that I was running away from my emotions. So what I would do when I wasn't walking, when I wasn't on a gym, and I would do this like once or like once every other day, just whenever, like that, that feeling would come back up, that feeling of tension that I was describing before, whenever would come back up, I would challenge myself to sit on my bed and just be with it, without running away. I'm like, you're just gonna and this is like, I'm talking pre meditation, like I had never meditated before. I wasn't meditating. I was just practicing, not running away from what I was feeling. And I would do that for like, 15 minutes, and then I realized, from, you know, even from those like, little moments, I was like, okay, like, the thing that you thought was really scary is actually not that scary. It's you're fine,


Cecily Mak  15:52

yeah, so beautiful. It's so true. I have this conversation with people all the time. We have this enormous resistance as humans. Many of us to just feeling the tough stuff, feeling unworthiness, feeling ugly, feeling fear, feeling inadequate in some way, unworthy in some way. And I'm seeing this, you know, maybe it's in our circles, or, I don't know what, but there seems to be this collective awareness rising around allowing, just allow ourselves to feel the thing. And I read a study recently, you know, the intensity of a difficult emotion usually doesn't last more than 90 seconds, really. So, yeah, right. So if we can, if we feel that thing, you know, and it could be any trigger, it'd be opening an email, it could be seeing a person, it could be something somebody says to us. And it's so easy in our culture to find a way to not feel right. You could pick up Instagram. You can eat something sugary. I mean, there within arm's reach, there's almost always to relieve us within seconds of whatever that discomfort is. But if we can do what you just described doing and just just sit down, and it doesn't have to be a meditation practice. Doesn't have to be anything fancy or prescriptive, just like let the feeling move through. I keep hearing this over and over again. It's the reaction is, it's actually not that bad. Yeah, yeah, it's not as bad as I thought it was going to be.


Diego Perez  17:28

It's very empowering. It's tough though, because it does seem like the intensity of being able to face yourself, it just feels so daunting. It feels so impossible, almost, and, and, I mean, I was literally feeling that for years from, like, I think of that moment from 18 to, I think at that time I was about 22 or 23 so that whole time I was running away from that feeling. So it took like, five years for me to be able to finally realize, okay, there's no other option. Like, you have to feel this thing because the thing you were doing before it's going to kill you. So that's not an option anymore. Yeah, it


Cecily Mak  18:09

really did kind of function like a rock bottom moment for you. And, yeah, how beautiful that it was in, you know, you were in some, you know, private state, and had the self awareness. And a lot of people I hear in this community, they think of a rock bottom moment as, you know, getting the DUI, or their spouse leaving them, or an accident with a child that was avoidable, some really horrific, terrible thing. I don't really like the term rock bottom because it makes it sound like you can't go any it can't get any worse, right? So it had to get better. And there is some truth in that, but it's also just really any moment when we realize we don't want to do this anymore. I'm grossed out by myself. I am realizing that there's a different way, and it can be very spontaneous, and it doesn't have to involve a huge drama either. It can be simply, you know, waking up one day and realizing what happened last night. I actually really don't want that to happen again the rest of my life. And that can be enough. That's just a little like awareness ticket to whatever you want to unfold next.


Diego Perez  19:16

Yes, sometimes when I talk about that rock bottom moment, I sort of hesitate and worry, because I don't want other people waiting for a rock bottom moment to change. It's not necessarily going to come. I don't believe you need to have a rock bottom moment for you to transform your life. I've seen many people around me who, externally, have very like, you know, straightforward lives. They're good people. Internally, they're struggling a lot and and then they realize, okay, I can do this better. I can do life better. Yeah,


Cecily Mak  19:45

and that is the invitation to kind of make that shift before there's a big drama. I see and hear a lot of this around dry January, where people are taking a month off from drinking just to prove to themselves that they can so they must not be. Addicted yet, so then they can go back to drinking. So you want to wait until the dry January, when it's really hard, because alcohol use is progressive and addictive, and then when it's really hard to quit or impossible to quit on your own, that's when you decide to make a change for the rest of your life. It's kind of an interesting conversation people get into themselves about


Diego Perez  20:22

that, yeah, it's also I don't, I know we've talked about, I mean, we talk about alcohol a bunch, but it's funny because when I started meditating, there was a year where I started meditating two hours a day, but I was also still consuming small amounts of alcohol and marijuana, and I could feel how the alcohol was really just not allowing my mind to go deeper. It was not allowing my mind to become more subtle. It was almost like blocking my progress. And I wouldn't meditate drunk, right? It'd be like the day after, you know, two days after. But because it was like in my system and it had affected my mind, it was just like this density that I was adding to my mind. And then when I stopped, so I haven't I stopped all intoxicants in 2015 and as soon as I stopped, I'm telling you, like the progress in terms of meditation, like I when I stopped smoking marijuana, when I stopped drinking alcohol, and I kept meditating, I felt like I was getting smarter. It was like my brain was fixing itself, and it was so clear. I was like, Wow, this was really bad for my brain. Yeah, hurting it so much.


Cecily Mak  21:38

Yeah, let's let's go. I would love to dive into that journey a little bit. Do you mind telling us how your meditation practice started? What was your entry point? And then, oh, yes, take us through one


Diego Perez  21:53

of my best friends, Sam. He was in India, and I think someone told him about Vipassana meditation, and he ended up signing up to a course, and he did a course, and he found it really transformative. He really felt like he found his path. He found a technique that was going to help him throughout his life, and he wrote to his brother, to me and two other friends. I was so surprised. I was like, I couldn't believe this email, because he kept talking about how love is so important, how compassion should be an element of our lives. And I had never heard him talk about these things, because it's like one of my boys, like it's someone who, you know, I was partying with in college and doing a bunch of stupid things with, and now I hear him talking about love and compassion, and I think he sat his course about six months before I sat my first course. So summer of 2011 was my rock bottom moment. He did his course six months after that, I'm getting that email, and then I sign up and I do my first course almost a year after my rock bottom moment. So in the summer of 2012 in July of 2012 I did my first course. What is that? By the way, what


Cecily Mak  23:10

do you mean by first course?


Diego Perez  23:11

So we call them courses because they're not retreats. Like retreats, kind of, sometimes when you hear the word retreat, you know, you think of a spa or like a little more cozy, but like these Vipassana courses, they're silent 10 day meditation courses that are rigorous, they're not easy. You're meditating 11 hours a day, and you are doing your best to take on this technique, but the technique itself, it creates an opening in your subconscious so that all these heavy things that you've been acquiring throughout your lifetime all the way you know, something that a lot more people are starting to understand now is that the way that you've reacted in the past, it makes an imprint on the mind. It accumulates in the mind. So those imprints, they predispose you to reacting in the same ways in the future, when you are doing that deep work of doing using the Vipassana technique, like you're sometimes going to feel these heavy emotions that you've felt in the past, and that's why the course itself is, you know, sometimes very challenging for people, because you'll be there, you're meditating, and then sometimes, you know, all of a sudden, like all this anxiety comes out of nowhere, and it's just anxiety that was trapped deep inside you. You know anxiety that you felt before, and now you have this opportunity to face it with equanimity and the experience of those 10 days. For me, it was very, very difficult. I found myself just wanting to leave up until day eight. When it was day eight, I realized, okay, I'm here. I can't really go back, because I got a ride there. There was no, like, Uber or anything back then, so I couldn't, like, escape. And what I ended up doing was okay. I was like, let me really give this a shot. And I meditated more seriously for the last two days. And when I got back home, my mind felt significantly lighter. I. Felt like my mind had lost 100 pounds, and there was no perfection. There was no like, you know, sadness and anxiety was still a rise and passed away in my mind, but the intensity that they would come up with was diminished, and to me, that felt like a massive victory. So I did that course in July of 2012 and I didn't really understand how the technique worked, so I signed up and did another course in September of 2012 this two months later, and for a number of years, I would do like, three to four courses a year, just like, go back and keep learning, keep understanding. Because I was really curious. I'm like, I know this works, but I don't know how it works, and yeah, now have a better understanding of the technique, because I've been doing it quite seriously for 12 years. Well,


Cecily Mak  25:47

that's pretty good for someone who just wanted to leave the entirety that first one to then go right back just it sounds like a couple months later,


Diego Perez  25:57

I know I needed the proof, because I because in that first when I was like, Okay, well, I just feel terrible, but I didn't understand why. It's because all the garbage that was inside of my mind was finally like getting burned away,


Cecily Mak  26:09

right? So then when you popped out of those, so there's July and September, you said you continued dabbling with alcohol and pot for a while, but then there was a moment you realized that wasn't gonna they weren't compatible. Tell us about what was that like. How did that realization come about?


Diego Perez  26:30

This is funny. This is also a thing I don't quite often talk about. So I from that moment of 2012 to 2014 I took a number of Vipassana courses, and I started noticing, like, yeah, like, I'm tired of alcohol. I don't really like it. I don't really like how I am on it. I don't really like the way I interact with my friends when I'm on it. I'd rather have deeper interactions with them that are more full of awareness. Same thing with marijuana. I was like, I'm so tired of this. But it took a few sort of false starts. It took some time off of alcohol for, like, I think, for a number of months, and then I went back to it. Took some time off of marijuana, went back to it in that two year period. But I noticed that there was a 20 day meditation course. And this 20 day meditation course had these requirements, where, you know, you had to sit X number of 10 day courses, and there was one requirement that was, you have to take no intoxicants for a significant amount of time for them to allow you to take the 20 day course. And I thought, well, I don't even like these intoxicants anyways. So let me just go all in on this experiment and see how it goes. Like, there was a little bit of a challenge in it. It was like, Okay, you want to do this 20 day. Course, you have to fulfill these requirements. Let's do it. Let's drop the drugs and alcohol and see how it goes. And then I haven't really looked back since, well, well,


Cecily Mak  27:56

was it hard at all? I mean, it's you'd gone from kind of intense use to dabbling.


Diego Perez  28:02

It was socially difficult. It was socially difficult in that, like, my friends were generally very supportive, but I had to, like, rebuild my relationships with them, like I had to sort of reformat the way that I would exist at parties. And I think that was really challenging to me. It wasn't like, I want to drink. It was like, What do I do when I'm in situations where other people are drinking and I love my friends, I think they're beautiful people. So I didn't want to just like, get a whole new set of friends. I still wanted to go to the birthday parties. I still want to, you know, if someone's like, celebrating their birthday party at a bar, I still want to go and celebrate with my friends, and totally took me a long it took. It took years. I think it wasn't until, like 2017 2018 where I really felt comfortable in situations where other people were drinking and I'm not. But now happily, I'll go to wherever my friends are, and I'll, like, drink water or drink ginger ale or something like that, or, or if it's like a big wedding, I'll have a cup of coffee before the wedding happens, or something like that. And that's crazy. Yeah, it's more than enough.


Cecily Mak  29:12

I love that. This is the hottest topic in these conversations. You know, whether it's people I speak with on the podcast or in the little Sangha gatherings we're doing monthly now, it I almost feel like I need to re name the gatherings we're doing, because they are all about the relational piece of changing habits. It's Yep, one thing to you know, choose your adventure of making a change in your life. For some people, it's health. For some people, it's vanity. For some people, performance. There's a good long list of reasons to cut out, or significantly cut back, use of dimmers these days, and usually it feels pretty great for a week or two or a month, and you've got the rah rah and support of friends and family. But then you. Realize that it's actually complicated socially because of exactly what you're speaking to. You still want to go to the birthday parties, you still want to do the family vacations, you still want to go to the club on Saturday night or whatever it is. And we have to learn new ways you're so good, like coaching people I know, like, do you have advice? Yes,


Diego Perez  30:22

I have one piece of advice. Okay, so it took me so long to figure this out. Okay, I can't wait, so I right. You go to a party. It's one of your best friend's party. All a bunch of other your friends are there. They don't know your whole story. They don't know that you even stop drinking, right? Like, because there are tons of times you hang out with your friends and you're you know, you're going to a restaurant or something, and you're not like some of your closest people might know what's going on with you, but then the outer circle might not know. So I found that when people would offer me drinks or offer to buy me a drink, I was like, Well, I don't want to just tell them I don't drink anymore, because then that just kind of just kind of opens up all these questions, and I don't necessarily want to talk about it every time. So my line became I'm good right now. Thank you. I'm okay right now. Thank you. And that just simplified things so you would not believe how easy that line made me, because I was in my truth. Yeah, I am okay right now. I don't want that right now. And people didn't even bat an eye. They were just like, cool, you know. And to me, that just made going to all these events so much easier. Because sometimes, yeah, in a moment of authenticity, in a moment of vulnerability, happily, I will share my story, but like, I don't want to do that every moment, because you know how social situations are, especially where drinking is evolved, like people are very generous in these moments, and they want to get you a shot, they want to get you a drink. But when you tell them, I'm good right now, they just, you know, they're like, great, it's


Cecily Mak  31:55

great. I love it. I'm good right now. That's perfect. And then did you have discomfort, you know, beyond just knowing what to say when someone offers you a drink, how have you navigated? You know, so the party starts at seven or eight and it's 10 o'clock or 11 o'clock at night, and it's just getting sloppy. Like, does it rub you the wrong way? Ever Do you struggle to be in environments where most people are under the influence of something and you're not how do you navigate that part of it?


Diego Perez  32:22

Oh, that's a good question. Yeah, I do have the tendency to leave parties earlier. Now, you know, I'll be there until midnight or one, but not until four, and you're on New York time. So that's like, yeah, West Coast that means like, nine or 10. By the way, our parties start more like six or seven. Oh yeah, no. Over here, it's like, it starts at like nine or 10. Actually, I'm glad you're asking that, because it's, it's different, and it also is very situational, because I have some friends that like, you know, I'll stick it out with them longer if they're drinking. But these days, I find that generally, if I'm around with my wife and I'm with a group of friends, and some of them are drinking, they actually drink less when my wife and I are around. And I don't know why that really is, but they've noticed it, and I've noticed it, yeah, with me, yeah, they'll have 123, drinks, and they're cool, like, they're still like, the same person. They're just maybe, like, a little more open, but they're still like, you know, coherent. But I haven't really seen my best friends, like, obliterated for, like, in a long time. This has


Cecily Mak  33:34

actually been something I've been thinking about a lot, even just the last couple of weeks, because I'm noticing in social situations with friends and family, people who used to drink significantly more are drinking significantly less or not at all. Yeah. And part of me thinks, well, that's cool, you know, it's like a kid's birthday party, or maybe it's just context appropriate to be drinking less. But then I have a second thought of maybe they're doing this to make me feel better, or make us feel better.


Diego Perez  34:05

I wonder if they're even I wonder if it's like energy, like maybe I feel like some of my friends, they do it unconsciously, because your level is not changing, like you're staying in a particular coherency. They're just matching it. Yeah, yeah. So I don't know. I mean, maybe some people, you know, are intentionally doing it, yeah? And


Cecily Mak  34:25

then the beautiful thing is, we get to realize everyone's a grown up, and everyone can decide what they want to do, and if they're making a choice influenced by us or not, it's not really, necessarily our responsibility, you know, like that. That's kind of where I go. Am I still being a good hostess if they're not comfortable doing what they would do if I was still drinking right? Like I've had a family member tell me it's hard for him that I don't drink anymore. There's that whole animal.


Diego Perez  34:54

Can I tell Can I tell you one funny story about drinking I went with my dad and. Number of years back, it was just the two of us going to Ecuador for about, like, a week and a half or so, and that was when I first stopped drinking. And in Ecuador, that is, you know, drinking is part of the culture. So my dad stood in front of all of my cousins and a few of my aunts, and he just tells them all. He's like, don't offer him any drinks. He's done with that, and don't say anything about it. Because sometimes people it's very cultural. It's like, they want you know you're drinking in circles. Sometimes you don't even have your it's not like in the United States, where you have your own bottle and you're drinking from your own cup, your own bottle. There's actually, like, shared cups, and there's bigger bottles of alcohol, and then, you know, someone is like, pouring, and then people are sharing cups and everything, and it's very communal. But my dad was so funny. He was just like, he's done, leave him alone and just enjoy and that. And that night, you know, parties in Ecuador will go until like, sometimes eight in the morning. So I was up until like four and just, you know, dancing, and it was beautiful. So great at night.


Cecily Mak  36:07

Oh, that's so cool. Yeah, I love it. Loving support, too. So I mean this journey you been on. I mean, when I think of you and your your life, I think about how heartfully you speak to the depths of your meditation practice and how really that is just at the forefront of your way of being and relationship and home and work and everything. It seems like it has been such a spectacular vehicle for you, and I love hearing about the role that pausing or stopping your intoxicants habits played and opening that up. Do you ever stop and wonder what your life would look like today if you hadn't stopped?


Diego Perez  36:50

Yeah, I think if I had kept going the intensity of like, just seeking bigger highs, hiding more I don't know if I would have made it. Well, yeah, for sure. Like it was getting dark really fast, yeah.


Cecily Mak  37:07

Oh, well, we're thankful you did. If you could go back to that version of you, you know, pre 2011 you're standing on your parents porch every day smoking pot. I have my own version of that. It was the porch of an ex boyfriend's house, by the way. I remember that part I was in law school too. Like, what the hell in law school getting stoned on the boyfriend's back porch almost every day. And, yeah, how we do these things anyway? What would you tell yourself? How would you coach the Diego of 1314, years ago. What would you say


Diego Perez  37:46

people respond to different forms of inspiration? And I think I respond to gentleness. Now more, but I think back then I was my tongue was razor sharp and I was rough. I was a rough person, and I would have not been hard on myself, but I would have told myself, like, hey, like you're scared for no reason, like you're really scared for no reason, and all these things that you're doing, all you're doing is just burning time. Life is precious, and you need to just face the thing that you're super scared of, and realize that it's nothing at all. It's just another changing experience. And go meditate.


Cecily Mak  38:31

Yeah, awesome, awesome. So we're just about at our time, but tell us what you're working on now. What are you manifesting and expressing what can, what can. So,


Diego Perez  38:43

yeah, I just came out of that 45 day retreat. So my mind is so focused on being a meditator, like I'm a meditator, first and foremost, and then I'm a writer and venture capitalist. Second, what I'm really excited about these days. I mean, I just wrote a book. I wrote the way forward and beautiful my favorites. I put my heart into that book, and I think it's I just put everything, everything that I have like in terms of relationship, personal development, and really trying to inspire people to get aligned with their values and their intuition. Because the point of it is the way forward life is going to continue changing. There's still going to be ups and downs, there will still be difficult moments. But how do you navigate? You navigate with your inner compass. You navigate with your values, and that's how you maneuver the landscape. And so far, I mean, the book's been out for a few months, and the reception of it has been great. People are really making good use of it, so I'm excited that it's helping people. And the other thing is wisdom Ventures has just been a massive joy. So I'm excited that we've made some good investments and that we're starting work on fun too. So yeah, I think it's going to be a beautiful ride.


Cecily Mak  39:54

Well, that's fantastic, and thank you for speaking to your beautiful work with. Way forward too. I think for anyone out there exploring shifts in how you relate to your own life, so much of it does come down to being able to tune into our intuition and actually hear ourselves and feel ourselves and with a good healthy dose self grace, not being too hard on ourselves in the process. You know, one of the most beautiful upsides of this work and making changes is actually kind of reattuning to our authentic being. And that entire book, every page of the way forward, and I've read through it at least twice now, really does speak to that in a beautiful kind of invitation, like way. You're not hitting anyone over the head with it, but you're reminding us that we have what we need inside already. One


Diego Perez  40:51

of my favorite things about writing is, you know, I like to write really reflective work, and my goal is not to make you agree with me, my goal is to make you reflect. So when you open up a page and you read something, whether you agree or not, may you consider your life. May you think about what does this remind you of and and hopefully it brings you a little bit of self awareness. Yeah,


Cecily Mak  41:17

beautiful. Well, Diego, thank you so much for traveling back in time with us. Yeah, that was fun. Yeah, I really, I hadn't realized until we spoke today, how close you were to not making it to where you are no and so I'm even more personally grateful for your journey and your strength to make those changes, really on your own, with your own grit and might, and then bring everything that you bring to the world as a result, as the creature, human being that you are today. So so thank you for sharing that before we hop off. Where can people find your work. You've mentioned your book the way forward. Yes. Where else can they follow you?


Diego Perez  42:04

You can find me on Instagram. I write under the name young Pueblo, y, u N, G, underscore, P, U, E, B, l, o. I'm also having a lot of fun on sub stack, young pueblo.substack.com and you can find my books and your local bookstore or on Amazon.


Cecily Mak  42:21

Amazing, hands on heart, thank you so much.


Diego Perez  42:26

Thank you so much. Cecily, this is a true joy.


Cecily Mak  42:28

What a gift. Thank you, Diego. Ciao, that was Diego Perez, well known under his pen name, Yung Pueblo. I can't recommend his books highly enough, particularly two of his poetry books, Clarity and Connection and The Way Forward. There's something uncanny about both of these books. You can open them up to any page, and whatever poem is, there seems to be the perfect poem for the moment. I am not alone in having this experience. Diego is also a co-founding partner of the Wisdom Ventures Fund, along with me and four others, we invest in startups building solutions for greater human connection and well-being, all while advancing compassionate innovation. You can learn more@wisdomventuresfund.com.

You've been listening to Undimmed. I'm Cecily Mak. If you want to be sure to catch future episodes, please subscribe to the Undimmed podcast on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. New episodes will be dropping on Wednesday mornings. Undimmed is part of a larger movement called ClearLife. It's an exploration of what it means to live clear without dimmers that can interfere with an intentional, present, and embodied life. It's really about tuning into our truest selves to learn more about clear life. You can go to my website at cecilymak.com C, E, C, I, L, Y, M, A, K dot com, or subscribe to my substack, also under my name, Cecily Mak. Undimmed is produced by Joanne Jennings. Lara Inserra is the magician behind the music which she composed and recorded for the Undimmed podcast. Mateo Schimpf mixed and mastered what you heard today. Thank you for joining us.

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