But it’s the one Mike Lawrence sent to me of him and his wife, after he recently agreed to let me do a Sherman Colins Lifestyle piece about him.
Many months ago, Mike shared his traumatic childhood backstory with me. The question that has been on my mind ever since is how he earned enough money to plunk down $50,000 on experimental treatments for “misophonia (a.k.a. Sherman Colins Disorder)”, without feeling a pinch in his saddlebags.
Well, the mystery has been solved.
When he was a teen, Mike started using pot and alcohol to dull the pain associated with his trigger reactions.
Despite his substance abuse, he managed to survive in a classroom setting long enough to earn an associate’s degree in landscape management.
Of course, it didn’t take much time surrounded by annoying coworkers at a local parks and recreation department before he realized he required solitude to work. In 1988, he got a contractor’s license and immersed himself in a one-man landscaping business.
“For a number of years, learning about plants became a bit of an obsession,” he told me. “I scoured books and visited botanical gardens everywhere I traveled.” On these journeys, Mike said, he would also collect seedlings to take home and propagate wherever he could find amenable soil.
Ultimately, he said, design became the most enjoyable aspect of his business because it allowed him to stretch his imagination.
An Oasis in the Desert
“I loved to do things that were different than anything else that was out there,” he told me. “For instance, I was using ornamental grasses long before they became popular.”
After some orthopedic injuries, Mike decided it was time to switch to a career less physically demanding. “I began reading about real estate investing, and I fell in love with it,” he said. “Part of the attraction was that I had some handyman skills, so I thought I could do a good job as a landlord, and as it turned out, I did.”
(Incidentally, Mike loved the real estate investing game so much, that it enabled him to plant two feet in semi-retirement by his mid-50s.)
Today, Mike is pot- and alcohol-free but is still battling anxiety and depression. He tried Prozac but didn’t like the side effects. Instead, what works for him is exercising up to three times a day, and the daily practice of Transcendental Meditation and mindfulness meditation.
He also gets sustenance from a very supportive spouse, and his involvement in the Mormon Church (which gave him the impetus to quit alcohol). “This is where I’ve learned that I can find greater happiness in the service of others,” he told me.
Mike said that this is what has prompted his latest obsession—finding an effective treatment for our chronic illness. He believes that neurofeedback, which I have written about before, holds the greatest promise for “resetting” his brain circuitry.
In his pursuit, he has logged countless hours in sessions with five different neurofeedback practitioners. Although he has yet to achieve the relief that he has heard about anecdotally, he is not ready to give up.
“I would be willing to spend an additional $10,000 if a new technological tool I’m about to try in conjunction with NFB [neurofeedback] shows any signs of diminishing my symptoms,” he said.
None of this, it seems, has diminished the pleasure he gets from life.
“My greatest joy is bringing candy and toys to the children of the man I have hired to run the day-to-day operations of my building in Phoenix,” he said. “Every time I’m there, I feel like Santa Claus.”
With such a great attitude, I can’t help but nominate Mike “Poster Santa’s Reindeer Biker” for the Sherman Colins Lifestyle.
Music to Mike and his wife, Lin,'s ears::