The Inspirationals #5: Happy (Single) Mother’s Day

The Inspirationals #5: Happy (Single) Mother’s Day

Welcome to the fifth installment of’s The Inspirationals where I interview people who inspire me. 

This week I interviewed Anna, a highly successful advertising executive and an inspirational woman who adopted two beautiful girls as a single parent, Madison & Phoebe (names changed to protect their identity). What makes this story unique is that Anna adopted her nieces from her sister to keep the family together. Like Anna’s daughters, I too was adopted so I have huge respect for anyone that goes through the adoption process and provides a better life for children. 

BeFreeMySheeple Anna
Beautiful family photo of Anna and her children Madison and Phoebe

Mother’s Day is an especially difficult time for me because I lost my mom to cancer on July 13, 2009. My birthday is July 11th and I’m certain that my mom held on for an extra two days so that I could enjoy my birthday for the rest of my life. Please call or hug your moms today and tell them how much you love them.

I also believe that being a mom is one of the toughest jobs in the world, especially as a single parent. Before we get into the interview, I wanted to share one of the most emotional and creative advertising campaigns that I’ve seen for Mother’s Day that reinforces this. Grab some tissues.’s Exclusive Interview with Anna

Adam Francisco: Happy Mother’s Day Anna!  As you know, I was adopted from Mexico so I have always been moved by your story. What inspired you to adopt your children?

Anna: I am a firm believer in keeping my family together.  Family is the most important thing to me and I would do anything for them.  I have always been involved in my nieces and nephew’s life so when I knew that Madison and Phoebe needed help, it wasn’t a question.  I don’t necessarily think it was inspiration that motivated me to adopt.  I think it was the love I have for my family and wanted to do whatever I could to protect them. 

Adam: What was the adoption process like?

Anna: This process was extremely difficult for me because I did not have a typical adoption.  My sister and brother-in law made some bad decisions in life and Madison and Phoebe were taken away from DCF (Division of Children and Family Services).  Because they were taken away from a government service, the adoption process is very different.  When you think of adopting, you think about the typical process – apply at an adoption agency, get interviewed, pay a ton of money and then meet the children.  My experience did not go like this at all.  

Adam: The typical process sounds like what my mom and dad had to go through to adopt me from Mexico.

Anna: When I first got custody of my daughters, I had just turned 25 years old and was working full-time at a media agency in New York City.  I was living in a 1 bedroom, 1-bathroom apartment and just barely managing to maintain paying all my bills.  You can only imagine to my shock when I received a phone call the morning of September 21, 2014 from a case worker at DCF to tell me that my nieces were going to be placed in a foster home if I did not take them in.  I was shocked, confused and devastated.  I went to the DCF office the next day and spoke with them for hours regarding what would happen to the girls if I did not take them.  The clear conclusion was that if I did not take the girls, unless my sister and brother-in-law got better, my family had a 99% chance of never seeing them again.  After hearing that, I knew what I needed to do, and I told DCF that I would take them.  3 days later the girls moved into my 1-bedroom apartment.  Madison was 2 and half and Phoebe was 11 months. 

BeFreeMySheeple Madison & Phoebe
Madison & Phoebe

Adam: Everything happened incredibly fast. What did you need to do to keep the girls?

Anna: The process of being a foster parent is extremely invasive, embarrassing, and almost abusive.  To even get your foster parent license, you must go through several steps – 3 drug and alcohol tests, psychological evaluation, background check, personal references, financial background checks, friends and family background checks etc…  and once you are cleared from all these things, then you must allow DCF workers to inspect your house.  Each month a DCF caseworker would come to my apartment and check every outlet, cabinet, bathroom, pet paperwork etc.… to make sure that everything is safe and compliant to foster care regulations.  If one thing was off, you were in jeopardy of the kids being taken away.  This honestly was so scary to me because you never knew if something might be out of place that you didn’t notice.

Adam: That sounds so stressful.

Anna: Besides having a case worker going through my home monthly, a lawyer and nurse would have to come every 3 months.  They only worked 9-5 so I would have to either take off a day of work to be home for when they could come or leave early, which to be honest, my boss was not very supportive or happy when I did.   

Adam: I hope that boss has learned a bit more humanity. 

Anna: I tried to always be accommodating with DCF because of the fear of upsetting them and risking Madison and Phoebe being taken away.  My biggest fear was making a mistake and then losing the girls.  

Adam: I can’t imagine.

Anna: For years, I went through this process and had to deal with these stresses.  I was even screamed at once by their nurses because I needed to reschedule a dentist appointment.  couldn’t maintain working in New York City and taking care of the girls and handling childcare so I ultimately left my job in NYC and got a job in an office close to my home. 

Adam: Living in NYC is already extremely stressful even without kids. You absolutely did the right thing getting the heck out of there. 

Anna: Before you can legally adopt foster children, there are 1 or two things that need to happen.  The biological parents need to sign away their rights or DCF needs to rule the parents are unfit to take care of their biological children. 

In one last attempt to connect my sister with her children, DCF setup a mediation session with the caseworker, myself and my sister.  I will never forget that session because the outcome was my sister telling me that I was a fucking asshole who had stolen her children.”  Ironically, a month later, my sister and brother-in-law signed away their parental rights and the adoption paperwork was processed. 

Adam: I’m so happy that they ultimately made the best decision for the kids.

BeFreeMySheeple Anna and Phoebe
Anna and Phoebe

Anna: The last step before the adoption took place was to have a medical check done on the girls so the government would help support their medical needs post-adoption.  This was finalized and on January 25, 2016 I legally became the proud mother of Madison and Phoebe.  

I can’t explain to you how happy I am to have the girls in my life.  Although it can be hard, I would not take it back for one second. 

Adam: What did your family and friends think about you adopting children as a single mom?

Anna: This is a tough topic to talk about because at first a lot of people did not support my decision.  I think my family and friends were concerned that at a such young age, I was giving my life away.  For a long time, I was very angry at them for not supporting me at first, but after I saw a therapist and was able to open my eyes, I understood it wasn’t because they did not believe I could, it was because they were worried for me.  Now, I can honestly say that everyone is truly happy and 100% supportive of my decision.  My dad tells me all the time how proud he is of me that I was able to get through all the hard time and build my career while being single mom.  Things really happen in mysterious ways. 

Adam: What are some of the challenges you face as a single mom? How do you handle them?

Anna: Being a mom has truly been the hardest challenge of my life. I honestly think all moms have a hard time and I wouldn’t say I have harder challenges than married moms, but we just have different ones.  I think for me, the biggest challenge is being a 30-year-old, single adoptive mom.  I say that because the questions that come up with my daughters are much different than others, but each mom has struggles.  My girls know they are adopted and have a lot of questions about their adoption.  My oldest wants to know why her birth parents “didn’t want her.”  It has haunted her a lot, but I always tell her that sometimes in life you have a birth mom and a forever mommy.  I am her forever mommy.  Her birth parents were just not ready to be forever parents, but that does not mean they did not love her.   They did.  Every time she hears that, her tears turn to a smile because she knows she is loved. 

BeFreeMySheeple Anna and Madison
Anna and Madison

Adam: You could even say she’s twice as loved – loved by the parents that wanted her to have a better life via adoption and you for adopting her.

Anna: Another fun question I get is, “when are you going on a date?” (it’s like I have a 97-yr. old grandma in the house), and if they will ever have a dad, and to be honest this is personally hard for me.  The day I adopted the girls the guy I was seeing for 6 months broke up with me.  That was hard for me because the girls had grown to adore him, and I was completely blindsided.  I get why he did it, but he is still an asshole. 

Adam: Yeah, that sounds like a selfish asshole.

Anna: I feel bad for the girls because I want them to have a normal life and be able to have that “daddy” figure in their lives.  I grew up with my dad and I knew how it felt to not have my mom around and I would never want them to go through that but dating as a single parent is tough now a days, and I need to focus on the girls and make sure they know that they always come first and are my 100% priority.  

Adam: Dating sounds pretty difficult in America as a single mom compared to Thailand where many women have children at a younger age so it’s completely normalized to date single moms there.

Anna: Yeah. Dating is hard.  To be honest, it sucks.  If I tell a guy I am a mom of an 8 and 6-year-old they are so quick to judge since I am only 30.  I don’t want to share the reasons why because I shouldn’t have to.  My family history shouldn’t matter, but a lot of the time guys don’t even give me the chance to let them know.  This is the only part of my life that I am sad about.  


Adam: I wouldn’t be sad if I were you. A happy single parent is better than two miserable parents (most relationships ultimately end up unhappy). Enjoy your freedom!

Anna: [Laughter]. I think the other challenge I am constantly dealing with, which to be honest I think ALL moms can relate to, if they have girls, is how DIVA these minions are!  Yes, my kids are only 8 and 6, but they act like they are 18 and 16.  Madison is constantly wanting to go to Abercrombie & Fitch and needs to know the latest top 40! *roll eyes*.  Phoebe needs to get her nails done and has a “boyfriend.”  When I was their age, all I cared about was what Barbie was going to do in her dream house! 

Adam: OMG I can’t imagine what it’s like having a daughter lol. What advice can you give to someone who want to become a single parent?

Anna: I think that being a parent is a huge sacrifice.  The greatest advice I can give someone is to make sure that you are ready to worry about someone else 110% because you won’t have that extra time anymore to go get your nails done or grab a beer with your boys.  It is not an easy job and it’s a lot of hard fucking work, but in the end, it is all worth it.  I would never change my decision.  I have become a better person because of my girls and I think it is a blessing I have them.  Don’t be a parent, to be a parent.  Do it because you feel in your heart this is the right thing to do

Adam: If you could go back in time, what advice would you have given yourself? Is there anything you would have done differently?

Anna: Honestly, I don’t know.  I think I would have told myself to not let the negativity of others get to my head so much.  That really impacted me for a long time and I was so angry, so I would want to avoid that.  

If I could have done anything differently, I would have saved money better the minute I graduated from college.  Just like most typical early 20-year-old, I did not save the right way and I think if I had, I may have not struggled, but again I was not planning on being a foster mom at 25 and a single adoptive mother at 27. 

BeFreeMySheeple Unconditional Love
Unconditional love

Adam: That’s one piece of advice I think is important for everyone. Start saving early and invest. My first investment was in Facebook when it IPOed and my money has almost multiplied by five times since then!

Anna: Everyday you learn how to be a parent.  I don’t think I will ever be perfect at that job.  I make mistakes just like everyone else in this world.  I can only keep trying my best to make sure Madison and Phoebe have the best life and are 110% happy.  They are amazing kids who deserve the best.  

Adam: How has the definition of “happiness” changed for you?

Anna: Wow, that is an amazing question.  I don’t look at it as a single mom thing to be honest.  I think most moms would relate that my happiness is seeing my girls come home everyday with a smile on their faces.  Madison scoring a goal in her soccer game or Phoebe breakdancing when we are having a dance party on a Saturday night.  Their smiles are what makes me happy.  The pride they have when they get a 12/12 on their spelling test is amazing.  The excitement about going on a plane and meeting their great grandparents or throwing them a party for their baptisms with 30 people coming to support them.  As a mom, my life has changed.  My happiness is making sure my kids are happy and healthy and enjoying their lives.  That really is what matters to me.

Adam: Thank you so much for sharing such a personal and touching story. As an adoptee, I really appreciate what you’ve done for your children and I wish your family all the best and a Happy Mother’s Day this Sunday!

BeFreeMySheeple Anna Single Mother's Day
A beautiful family


Have a Happy Mother’s Day! Have another person that you’d like me to consider for next month’s The Inspirationals? Leave a comment or you can e-mail me If you enjoyed reading/watching this, you can follow me on Instagram, @adamfrancisco & @befreemysheeple.

Be Free My Sheeple!

The Inspirationals #4 : Cancer Survivor

The Inspirationals #4: Cancer Survivor

Welcome to the fourth installment of’s The Inspirationals where I interview people who inspire me. 

This week I interviewed Sarah Farnam, a friend that I met through the media industry in 2010 who was diagnosed with and defeated cancer 1.5 years ago. I’ve closely followed her journey through social media from being diagnosed with leukemia (blood cancer) in 2017, her battle against it and her victory. Yesterday (February 28th,) she celebrated her 2-year anniversary of being diagnosed with cancer (her “cancerversary” as she calls it).

BeFreeMySheeple Cancer Survivor Sarah

Cancer has been a very personal topic for me as I lost my mom to a cancer that metastasized in 2009. During my mom’s battle, my dad neglected paying attention to his own health and found out after her passing that he had colon cancer (undiagnosed and untreated for years). Fortunately, it grew very slowly so with surgery and chemotherapy, my dad won. Neither the Vietnam War or colon cancer could stop my dad. He is a survivor! 

According to Statista, “Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, making it one of modern medicine’s greatest challenges. The percentage of the U.S. population who has or ever had cancer has increased over the past 15 years.” As we get older, it is unfortunately likely that we will see our close friends and family affected by cancer. These can be dark times but we can look to cancer survivors for hope.

Today, as Sarah celebrates her 2 year anniversary of being diagnosed with cancer, I wanted to share her inspiring story.’s Exclusive Interview with Sarah

BeFreeMySheeple Sarah Survivor
Sarah (Cancer Survivor)

Adam Francisco: Congratulations on your 1.5-year anniversary being cancer-free! Thank you so much for sitting with me and sharing your personal story on the 2-year anniversary of being diagnosed with cancer. How did you originally find out that you had cancer and what made you get checked for it?

Sarah: In January 2017, I began experiencing what I describe as mysterious symptoms for about two months prior to my diagnosis: nausea, fatigue, headaches, loss of appetite and weight loss. I say they were mysterious because although they were affecting my quality of life, I was able to push through the symptoms and go about my day-to-day duties. I had just begun a new job, and chalked up a lot of these symptoms to common side effects from the stress of starting a new job. It wasn’t until one Friday afternoon in late February 2017 when I was headed to the airport after work to fly to my friend’s wedding that I knew something was seriously wrong. I became extremely carsick, and had to turn around to go back to my home and ultimately missed out on the wedding. I was sick for the entire weekend, and assumed it was food poisoning, and just kept hoping time and rest would take care of it. It wasn’t until four days later, when I was dehydrated and so weak from vomiting all those days that I could barely walk that I finally mustered up all the energy I had and took myself to the nearest emergency department.

BeFreeMySheeple Sarah One Year Cancer Free
One Year Cancer Free

Adam: I can’t imagine how awful it feels to do everything you’re supposed to do when you’re sick and there’s no improvement.

Sarah: Yeah. It turns out my terrible symptoms were caused by a kidney infection, which was most likely caused by my very low immune system brought on by leukemia, as infections manifest so much easier in people with active leukemia. It’s common for undiagnosed leukemia patients to present to their Doctors or the ED with bad colds, pneumonia or other infections, and often, the infections are treated without diagnosing the underlying cancer. This is very problematic, because the longer leukemia goes untreated, the harder it can be to get the patient into much-needed remission. Early detection is critical in so many cancers, and leukemia is no exception. Luckily, the doctor I saw in the ED ordered a standard blood test, called a CBC, which among other things, checks for a white blood cell count. My WBC was high, which could have been attributed to the kidney infection, but luckily my doctor thought to consult the hematologist at the hospital, which is a doctor who specializes in diseases of the blood. Around 12 hours after I had initially presented myself to the ED, I was notified that the doctor had run tests and confirmed I had acute leukemia and that I would have to be checked into UCSF’s hematology oncology ward immediately for treatment.

Adam: The worst possible news. What were your thoughts and feelings when you first found out?

Sarah: My first reaction when the doctor notified me was visceral. I held my hand out to him in a “stop” formation. I truly wanted him to stop talking and rewind back to five minutes before, when I was a young woman living in San Francisco (my dream location for so many years), just trying to work, travel, date, be independent and all the other things a lot of women my age are seeking. Being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness didn’t fit into that narrative at all, and I think my body and mind immediately knew that, and resisted what he way saying to me. I had also unfortunately known two people in my life who had passed from leukemia, and assumed it meant I would eventually pass from it as well. So the next question I asked him was, “When am I going to die?” He paused and assured me there were many who had overcome a leukemia diagnosis, and he was right.

BeFreeMySheeple Sarah Fuck You Cancer
Fuck Cancer

Adam: In just a few words from the doctor, your life completely changed, but at the same time there was hope that you’d be cured.

Sarah: We still have a long way to come with treating leukemia, especially with regards to adult leukemia, because the cure rates are much lower for adults with leukemia than children, but cure rates have gotten better in the decades that I have been alive, and I hope that trajectory continues.

Adam: How did you cope with hearing that you have leukemia?

Sarah: To be frank, I was a mixed bag of emotions when I was first diagnosed because there were so many unknowns and I’m someone who likes to get a lay of the land with answers to all of my questions as soon as possible. I’ve since come to realize that unknowns are a part of being human, and to be able to find peace with that discomfort is something I’ve been working on in my healing process.

Adam: I have always heard that we need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Sarah: After the initial shock, I was fairly positive and started most of my mornings off listing things I was grateful for, which I for the most part continue to this day. I also attended the groups they had for patients where we would do creative expression or centering practices like deep breathing. I remember my first admission in UCSF, there was an extremely talented woman who volunteered to play a harp for us on our floor, and I thought that was incredible, and would always stop to give her a listen. I also welcomed friends and former co-workers in to visit me with open arms, and would also forge friendships with other patients or their caregivers. And lastly, I would try and find ways to laugh as much as possible. It was usually in conversations with my friends or my Mom where we would do silly things to just laugh out all the stress we were carrying.

Adam: “Laughter is the best medicine.”

BeFreeMySheeple Sarah Mom
Sarah & Mom

Sarah: It is. I’m Iranian, and I remember one time while I was in-patient, my Mom and my friend, who is also Iranian, starting playing Persian music and dancing all over the place, and I was laughing so hard and having the best time. Another time, two of my good friends and I were watching “laughter yoga” videos and just cracking ourselves up to tears where we were falling all over each other. I was actively seeking out laughter like this because I knew the power it possessed to relax and heal me.

Adam: I heard that many hospitals offer patients Laughter Therapy which has many physical and mental health benefits.

Sarah: I also want to make what I think is a very important point. For the most part, I worked hard to stay positive and find happiness and laughter whenever posible. But I also had my fair share of dark moments of hopelessness, depression and anxiety. In fact, one of the things I am hoping to speak out on more is mental health care for cancer patients because I feel like it is more of an afterthought than a priority for medical care professionals when it comes to treating cancer patients, and I hope that changes soon. I think a lot of good feedback and encouragement is given to cancer patients who are positive with a great attitude and always smiling and keeping faith. While I took pride in being positive, finding humor and keeping hope and faith alive as much as possible, I had some really rough patches that I hid from a lot of people because I didn’t want to disturb or make anyone feel uncomfortable.

Adam: That’s so heartbreaking because I can imagine that it makes you feel even more isolated in your battle.

BeFreeMySheeple Sarah Chemo

Sarah: One of my most distinct memories was when my brother was visiting me within the first few days of chemotherapy, and I was having a really bad reaction to it. I was vomiting almost non-stop, and the care team was very concerned. And all the while, I kept thinking, “I don’t want my brother to see me like this.” I wasn’t as concerned about the fact that excessive vomiting would make my healing process harder, I just wanted to ensure my baby brother didn’t see his sister having a violent reaction to chemotherapy, because I wanted to protect him from that image. And I’ve heard other cancer patients say similar things, which makes me sad.

Adam: I never knew how much pain my mom was dealing with because she always protected us from seeing it.

Sarah: A lot of us are really concerned about how others, especially our loved ones, perceive us, when they really should be concerned on getting better. So I guess my point is, positivity and humor is important, but so is acknowledging pain and accepting that being positive and hopeful 100% of the time is unrealistic.

Adam: What kind of treatment and therapy did you undergo?

Sarah: I was put on chemotherapy almost immediately, because my particular cancer, Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, is very fast-moving and if untreated, can take the lives of those afflicted in a matter of weeks or months. I proceeded to go through almost eight months of high-dose intensive chemotherapy and six lumbar punctures where I received chemotherapy intrathecally in order to prevent the spread of Leukemia to my central nervous system. Once high-dose chemotherapy was done, I was put on a “maintenance” chemotherapy regimen where I receive a monthly infusion of lower-dose chemotherapy and take two forms of oral chemotherapy. I am still undergoing this treatment, and will be doing so until one year from now. All together, if things continue going according to plan, I will have been on one form of chemotherapy for roughly three years. The reason I am on a maintenance chemotherapy regimen is because my cancer has a high chance of relapse, and maintenance regimens have been proven to dramatically reduce relapse rates.

BeFreeMySheeple Sarah Mom
Sarah & Mom

Adam: Looking back as a survivor, what advice would you have told yourself at the beginning of your journey?

Sarah: I would tell myself to document as much of the journey as possible, be it through writing, photos or my personal favorite, videos. At the time, it seemed absurd to capture pictures of me receiving chemotherapy or to write down my emotions and feelings, but I now look back on all of those moments that were captured, even the sad ones, with appreciation. Yes, sometimes a picture makes me want to cry from sadness, but it also helps me with reflecting on my experience, which is something I place a lot of value on and make time for as a survivor. I would also want to give myself a heads up that some people in my life just don’t know how to react to a cancer diagnosis, and that I’d come out of this experience short a few people in my life because they ended up stepping out of my life instead of lending me the support I needed. This is a pretty common theme among cancer patients, and once you process the pain and feelings of abandonment, you can actually come out of it and view them leaving as a positive. In my opinion, this experience weeds out the people who don’t deserve your love because they weren’t tough enough to stick around when times were really bad. And better to know this now than later. Plus, the experience usually brings you more incredible people to fill the void of the people who left, so it works out.

Adam: How do you define happiness now?

Sarah: I no longer find the most high-paying job the most desirable, and place an emphasis on work/life balance and my health above other priorities. American culture and some other cultures around the world prioritize material goods and possessions such as homes and cars above so many other things, and extreme competition to gain money to purchase these things is encouraged. While I believe healthy competition is not bad for an individual or our economy, I personally think our culture has taken it overboard, and the pressure to “have it all” is happening at the expense of the health of many employees.

Adam: Yes! That is the message that I am trying to share. The endless pursuit of wanting more, needing more, getting more…it doesn’t create happiness because there is no end in sight. I also don’t think that it is the responsibility of the company for an individual’s work/life balance, but rather it’s up to the individual to create their ideal lifestyle.

BeFreeMySheeple Sarah Cancer Free
Cancer Free

Sarah: I can’t say with 100% certainty that one of my former jobs in 2016 contributed to me getting cancer, but I do know I was not living a healthy lifestyle because of it. We were understaffed and I was tasked with doing the job of multiple employees. Because of the long hours, I was eating poorly, not exercising and had excessive stress from all of the pressure.

Adam: Sadly, you’re describing how many people feel in their careers. We can change our lifestyles faster than a corporation can change their culture.

Sarah: And as trite as it may sound, another change I have noticed is that I thoroughly appreciate the small joys in life so much more, the ones a lot of us don’t rush to post about on social media because they’re not exactly noteworthy to anyone but ourselves and the people we are with at that moment. So if I’m lucky enough to have a day where I’m feeling healthy and energized and get to take a walk with someone I love through a beautiful piece of nature, I cherish it more than ever. Or a simple night in with a home cooked meal and good company. Or getting to eat raw foods when I couldn’t for so long because my immune system was so low. Or if my good friend’s daughter, who is 6, is asking me to play with her, I put my phone down and give her my full attention, because I realize she’ll eventually going to grow up to be a teenager who is too cool to talk to her Auntie, so I soak it up.

Adam: You are speaking my language. I was a high-income individual in New York City but I had to be because my rent was almost $4,000 USD a month. When I traveled, I would stay at the Ritz. While those were nice experiences, my happiness comes from every day moments such as a good cup of coffee, hanging out with my dogs, relaxing on the beach. The things that cost the least or that I can do for free ultimately bring me the most happiness. What advice would you give to someone who finds out they have cancer?

BeFreeMySheeple Sarah Cancer
Post-meditation glow

Sarah: Find support as soon as possible. For people who have cancers that are more prevalent, a quick Google search or search of that hashtag on social media will get you connected to people in similar circumstances quickly. If you have a cancer that’s not as common, it may be more challenging than just a simple search online. But that’s where I would try and find other similarities besides your cancer type. If you’re between 18-40, the young adult cancer community has some great resources, and the Stupid Cancer organization is something I mention time and again to adults in that age range who are newly diagnosed. Your local hospital and cancer center may also have support groups based on cancer type, age or just a general one for all cancers and ages, and I highly encourage patients to check them out. It can be awkward at first, and you may end up realizing it’s not for you, but you won’t know unless you show up, and it could be the extra little thing you need to get through this challenging ride.

Adam: You don’t know if you don’t like something until you try it.

Sarah: Besides that, I would also seek out mental health resources. I think it’s really important to be proactive here, because I think the initial shock and rush of things needing to be done after a cancer diagnosis can mask underlying mental health problems that happen as a result of the diagnosis and treatment need to be addressed and treated. I’ve heard from so many patients saying they felt fine initially, and then one time, a few weeks or months into treatment, they would wake up in the middle of the night, with terrifying anxiety that they just couldn’t seem to shake. And that situation is so relatable. There’s the rush of appointments, treatments, procedures, medicine to take and other things to do, and those moments at night where you’re alone and pondering how all these messy, moving pieces are going to come together to get you through the other end are the absolute worst. I have made a commitment to myself to see a therapist once a week until the end of my treatment, regardless of how I’m feeling that particular week, because of this very reason, and I hope any other patients going through treatment can find resources through their care teams to do something similar.

BeFreeMySheeple Sarah CancerCon
Sarah at 2018 CancerCon

Adam: Great insights. What can a person do to support a family member the has cancer?

Sarah: Listen to your loved one without judgment or trying to interject with what you think, especially if they’re sharing fears or anxieties with you. This kind of ties back to the thing I was mentioning about positivity, because while it is great to have someone who is optimistic around you, sometimes we just want to be heard without hearing, “It’ll work out” or “you’ll be fine” again and again. We hear words along those lines a lot, and from personal experience, it can make us want to not share much.

Adam: I definitely have learned that sometimes it’s better to just listen.

Sarah: Instead of trying to minimize the fear or anxiety, I find that having someone acknowledge it and showing support can be very powerful. So responding with, “I can’t even imagine the pain you’re feeling. I’m here for you.” is personally preferred because you’re acknowledging the enormity of the pain and also reaching out a hand in support. Other than that, I would make a point that if you are one of the caregivers or the sole caregiver, to not forget that you need to care for yourself as well. It’s ok to ask for help from others to do things for yourself, even if that’s going to the gym or getting the haircut you’ve been putting off. There are both in-person and online support groups for caregivers, and as much as your friends will be able to support you, they’re just not going to get it as much as the people in the groups will. It’s easy to forget that the caregivers need help, but it’s ultimately more of a necessity than luxury, because a caregiver isn’t giving their loved one the best care possible if they haven’t been taken care of themselves.

Adam: Sarah, thank you so much for sharing your story with us and congratulations on celebrating over 1.5-years of being cancer-free! You are an inspiration.


Have another person that you’d like me to consider for next month’s The Inspirationals? Leave a comment or you can e-mail me If you enjoyed reading/watching this, you can follow me on Instagram, @adamfrancisco & @befreemysheeple.

Be Free My Sheeple!

The Inspirationals #3: Happily Divorced

The Inspirationals #3: Happily Divorced

Welcome to the third installment of’s The Inspirationals where I interview people who inspire me. 

This week I interviewed Agnes, a beautiful, successful and strong woman who I went to high school with (the prestigious Bronx High School of Science). Agnes recently went through a challenging and difficult divorce but came out on the other side feeling happy and free. Most importantly, she felt like herself again. This might sound like a weird interview to release on Valentine’s Day, but I believe the most important person to love and take care of is yourself before you can share your love with someone else.

BeFreeMySheeple Agnes Happily Divorced 4

Before we get into the interview, I want to be clear that I personally do not believe in the institution of marriage. I see more risk than reward when it comes to getting married. A core part of my personal happiness comes from optimizing my lifestyle towards maximum freedom and independence. This is best summed up by this Karel Donk excerpt. I strongly encourage everyone to read his entire blog post. It’s a bit of a long read, but I think it’s worth it.

“Marriage encourages people to become dependent, and thus to give up their individuality, independence and freedom…People naturally want to be free, and any relationship that limits people’s freedoms will cause trouble. The desire for freedom is intrinsic to human nature; we are born free individuals. In a relationship where a person’s freedom is being limited, it’s only a matter of time before they start to (often subconsciously) rebel against it…people in exclusive relationships eventually start to develop a desire to escape, which results in secret hostility towards their partner…If you truly love someone and want to continue to do so and enjoy their company for as long as possible, you should  avoid relationships  with them in the traditional sense at all costs — and this includes marriage.”

I intend to write a detailed blog post about it at some point. Without further ado…’s Exclusive Interview with Agnes

BeFreeMySheeple Agnes Happily Divorced 8
Adam Francisco (BeFreeMySheeple) & Agnes (Happily Divorced)

Adam Francisco: Agnes – thank you so much for opening up about what’s usually a private and personal topic. My hope is that other women and even men can feel inspired by your story. How long were you together for before getting divorced?

Agnes: We were together for five and a half years and married for the last three and a half. I’ve been officially divorced for 4 months. 

Adam: How is the single life treating you?

Agnes: Single life is interesting. It definitely took some getting used to! I haven’t been single in so long that many times I need to remind myself that “Yes, you absolutely CAN do this because you ARE single!” Being single is great and I’ve been learning new things about myself. I lost a lot of myself during the time that I was married…A LOT. That’s my “single life” experience so far…I am discovering what it means to be me.

Adam: We are happy to have you back! How your marriage was in the beginning?

Agnes: In the beginning it’s supposed to be great, right? Except it never really was for me. It wasn’t great for me ever, even in the beginning. Getting married was the next step in our relationship and so that’s what we did. Our thought process was that it wouldn’t change anything in our relationship if we were married. What my thought process should have been is that there’s no need for us to get married because it wouldn’t change anything in our relationship. We didn’t love each other more or less, it was just business as usual.

Adam: What did you even like about him that made you want to get married?

Agnes: He made my life a lot easier. It was convenient, as fucked up as that sounds. And I should have recognized it as such, and I should have left it at that. But I was at a very vulnerable and insecure time in my life, and he helped me get back on my feet: emotionally and financially. I had everything to gain from it. I’ve been meaning to thank him for being that person for me during that time, but the person that he turned into during the divorce made me rethink ever thanking him for ANYTHING. 

BeFreeMySheeple Agnes Happily Divorced 2
Agnes with Raindrop in Cabo

Adam: Isn’t it amazing how the person you once loved and were willing to commit the rest of your life to can become somebody that you don’t even recognize, and possibly even dislike? I can understand the appeal in having stability but that doesn’t sound like enough to make a commitment to a lifetime together. How long after you were married did things go sour?

Agnes: Immediately.

Adam: [Laughter]. Damn. What was the marriage like?

Agnes: The marriage sucked. The relationship itself wasn’t so great when we got married. That’s another reason why I think I decided to get married; it was supposed to “fix” things in the relationship.

Adam: I’ve know a few couples that also thought marriage would instantly heal everything that was wrong in the relationship but instead, things like wedding planning just ended up distracting them from the truth.

Agnes: I know right? SO stupid. That’s some ass-backwards thinking. I did EVERYTHING for him. I cooked, cleaned, did the laundry, etc. I felt like I had a child instead of a husband or significant other.

Adam: Sounds more like an insignificant other.

Agnes: [Laughter]. I guess it’s a cultural thing too because I was raised by my grandmother in a Korean household where she did everything around the house. It wasn’t that I was consciously making an effort to do everything…that’s just who I am.

BeFreeMySheeple Agnes Happily Divorced 1
Abs on fleek.

Adam: After living in Thailand the last six months I’ve learned that many Asian countries still live in a very patriarchal society with clearly defined gender roles that we would consider to be “traditional” gender roles in the US.

Agnes: Yep. Anyway, we didn’t go out to dinners, we weren’t going on vacations, and most importantly, we weren’t even having sex.

Adam: Wow. No sex? Isn’t that one of the so-called benefits of marriage? Permanent access to sex?

Agnes: Would you believe it if I told you that the sex stopped maybe 2 years into the relationship, possibly sooner?

Adam: That means you guys didn’t have sex for almost 4 years. I heard an expression once, “If you like sex, stay single. If you don’t like sex, get married.”

Agnes: Yep. That’s what most people’s reactions were when I told them about the “no sex for 4 years” bit. I didn’t cheat on him because I had no self-confidence. ZERO. I couldn’t  even attempt to attract another man. I felt unattractive, and my life, appearances and actions started reflecting exactly what I was feeling.

Adam: That’s so hard to believe because I see such a beautiful  confident woman in front of me.

Agnes: Aww, thanks, Yeah, I hated it because I’d never known myself to be such an ugly person. I was feeling so unattractive and depressed that I stopped hanging out with my friends.

Adam: In the time you needed your friends the most, you felt completely isolated from them.

Agnes: He didn’t like it when I hung out with my friends because he didn’t have any friends of his own that wanted to hang out with him. Also, he wouldn’t drink because he had his stomach pumped twice in his early 20s for alcohol poisoning and drugs and judged the shit out of me whenever I would come home from dinner and drinks with friends.

BeFreeMySheeple Agnes Happily Divorced 6
Agnes in gym gear

Adam: It sounds like he took his personal issues and transferred them onto you. This already sounds like a lot to deal with but was there a final straw that compelled you to get a divorce?

Agnes: When he criticized me for being “too ambitious.”  Like what the fuck? Is there even such a thing as being too ambitious? I realized that HE was the one who was complacent and lazy when he criticized me for being too ambitious. That’s what someone weak does to bring you down – they make you feel small by somehow turning your attributes into faults.

Adam: Sounds like one of your strengths threatened him so he tried to turn it into a fault

Agnes: And his laziness was getting out of hand. He wouldn’t help out around the house and he was gaining a lot of weight. He gained 40 pounds from when we first started dating. Forty pounds.

Adam: Wow. That’s a lot of weight. Was he pregnant?

Agnes: [Laughter]. Fitness has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember but when I was with him, I’d given that up as well. The first two years of our relationship was a rough time in my life and so it isn’t fair to place all of the blame on him. But he definitely was a contributing factor, that’s for sure. And it’s like he almost didn’t want me to look my best or do anything that pushed my limits. Like for example, when I told him that I’d be running the New York City Marathon, his response was “you know that you don’t have to finish it if you can’t, right?” Like excuse me? What the fuck kind of a response is that to someone telling you that they’re going to be participating in one of the greatest races of ALL time?

BeFreeMySheeple Agnes Happily Divorced 5
Agnes and her BFF Donut.

Adam: That’s insanely rude.

Agnes: I was dumbfounded when he said that. Right now, in my single life, I wouldn’t even consider dating anyone that doesn’t take care of themselves. Working out and maintaining their appearances gives you an insight into so many other aspects of that person’s life. It’s not just about looking good. It’s like if you can’t take care of yourself, how can you give a shit about anything or anyone else?

Adam: I agree. I think obesity, with the exception of the rare health issues, shows a lack of self-awareness, self-discipline and most importantly self-love.

Agnes: 100%. I was realizing more and more that we literally had nothing in common, and that’s what ultimately led me to the divorce. We thought differently about almost everything and that just isn’t sustainable for any type of relationship.

Adam: How did you feel the day you were officially and legally divorced?

Agnes: I was in Chicago for work when I received the email from my lawyer. I jumped up out of my seat and yelled “FUCK YEAH, FINALLY!” So yeah, I was devastated…NOT! It literally felt like I had rid myself of a huge burden. It’s so strange how just a piece of paper can hold so much power over your life. The marriage certificate held me captive and the divorce decree set me free.

Adam: I can only imagine how empowering that would feel. How has your life changed since then?

Agnes: I’ve completely changed as a person, inside and out. I look better now than I did in my 20s, and I’ve gotten my self-confidence back. I walk, talk and act differently and people react to me differently. I think I like that part the best: people reacting to me differently because I put forth a much different vibe than what I did the last 5.5 years of my life. “You get what you give” is absolutely right; if you put forth positive vibes, you’re gonna get back positive reactions. So much of my life was spent saying “no” during the time that I was married that I am now making sure that is NOT what my life will be ever again. Sidebar – when I was married, I’d even start my sentences with “No, but..” without realizing it, and it was really upsetting when someone pointed that out. Now, I tell people that I’m not saying no to anything anymore and that’s led me to some amazing experiences, encounters and memories in just the last couple of months! I carry myself differently and think differently than I did when I was married and it couldn’t be a more welcomed change. 

BeFreeMySheeple Agnes Happily Divorced 8

Adam: What an amazing turnaround. Are you happy?

Agnes: YES! I really am. It feels amazing to have to answer to no one and to be able to have control over your own life. I dictate what I do, where I go, and who I spend time with. These are things things that I really couldn’t do when I was married because I always came second. Now I live for me. I’ve never been this selfish before and I’m “sorry not sorry” for it. I’m slowly starting to see that life isn’t all about securing that high-paying job. It’s about you finding out what truly makes you happy, that’s it. I’ve spent all of my adult life, except for the last couple of marriage-free months, overcomplicating damn near everything, literally. It’s gotten me absolutely nowhere, and I’ve missed out on so much stuff! I have so much catching up to do.  I couldn’t tell you how happy that makes me: the thought of just living my life!

Adam: You are speaking my language. What advice do you have for somebody who is thinking about getting married?

Agnes: Really evaluate what it is that you think you want from getting and being married. You need to manage your expectations for the marriage because chances are if you don’t, you’re going to end up disappointing yourself. There’s nothing that you can’t do with your significant other while not married that you’ll all of a sudden be able to do because you’re married. You can absolutely have kids without being married. And if you’re worried about optics or what other people think, then you probably shouldn’t be thinking marriage in the first place. Religious obligations are something completely different, so I’m leaving that alone. Just know that at some point in your marriage, that you’re going to become second, and that you’ll get used to being second. You’re going to lose yourself somewhere down the road, become resentful, and then you’ll end up being this ugly miserable old maid, which you clearly are not. Know what it is that you are willing to sacrifice and stick to it. Yes, relationships are about compromises but once you’re bound by marriage, you’ll see how easy it is for the both of you to take each other for granted and take advantage of each other. Set your boundaries, know your worth, and stick to it.

Adam: This is the hard truth and it’s personally why I do not see marriage happening in my lifetime. What advice do you have for somebody that is trapped in a bad marriage?

Agnes: You are worth so much more than what you think you are worth at this very moment. The thought of having to “start over” is a daunting task and it seems like you wouldn’t even know where to begin. I think this just means that you’ve become dependent on the other person to carry you through. There’s nothing wrong with building a life with your significant other, but there’s a problem if you’ve lost your sense of self during that process. You need to be able to stand up on your own before being able to join forces with another human being. And if you’re a perpetual relationship person like I was, then there’s no better time than now to learn what your capabilities are. You never want to be in a situation where the other person holds you back. That’s a terrible place to be and it’ll change you as a person, and I promise you that you won’t like what you become.

BeFreeMySheeple Agnes Happily Divorced 7

Adam: Would you get married again?

Agnes: As of now, I’d say no. But you’re never supposed to say never, right? Being married changes people. It makes them stop trying. It’s weird. They stop courting each other, stop trying to look their best for each other, stop doing anything that can be considered thoughtful or romantic. At least that was my experience. But maybe it’s just that I was married to the wrong person. Who knows. 

Adam: Based on my research, this is more common than you think and unfortunately many of the “happy” marriages we see today are likely to end up exactly where you were within the next couple of minutes months years.

Agnes: And if I were to marry again, it would be a completely different experience from the beginning because of how much I’ve changed as a person since my divorce. I know what I’m worth and I know what I need, and I will absolutely be demanding that the person I’m married to treat me in a way that fulfills both of those requirements.

Adam: Do you want to have kids one day?

Agnes: I would like to have kids in the future and that would be a reason for me to be married. Not to have the baby, but to raise the child in a stable and secure, family environment. I had a pretty unusual and sometimes rough childhood, and I turned out tough as nails. It was a 50/50 chance of whether I turned out this way or absolutely fucked up, and I don’t think it’s fair when those odds are already presented to the child from the moment that they’re born. I’d like to be able to provide them with all “the right things” to the best of my abilities.

Adam: Agnes – thank you for such raw and honest answers. If any readers have additional questions, can they reach out?

Agnes: Of course. My Instagram is @__agneskim__

BeFreeMySheeple Agnes Happily Divorced 3
Mood: Happy.


You can follow Agnes on Instagram, @__agneskim__

Have another person that you’d like me to consider for next month’s The Inspirationals? Leave a comment or you can e-mail me If you enjoyed reading/watching this, you can follow me on Instagram, @adamfrancisco & @befreemysheeple.

Be Free My Sheeple!

The Inspirationals #2: Venezuelan Migrant


The Inspirationals #2: Venezuelan Migrant

Welcome to the second installment of’s The Inspirationals where I interview people who inspire me. 

This week I had the honor of interviewing one of the most resilient human beings I have ever met. Amidst deteriorating economic and political conditions in Venezuela, Aida was forced to leave her home country. Despite this, she has remained positive and was able to launch a successful career in France as an educator while also pursuing her master’s degree.

Aida BeFreeMySheeple The Inspirationals NYC France

How I Met Aida, a Venezuelan Migrant

I met Aida on August 12th, 2017 while I was out with some of my drinking buddies bar-hopping in West Village, New York City. As I was heading into The Fat Black Pussycat (one of my go-to bars since my early 20s) on West 3rd Street, Aida was standing outside the bar talking with a few friends. Being that I already had a few drinks that night, I had the courage to strike up a conversation with Aida. I thought typical New York City nightlife banter would ensue, but this conversation was very different and completely unexpected.

When I met Aida I was living in a bubble generally unaware of what else was happening in the world outside of the US. She quickly explained how Venezuela was dealing with 1,300% inflation, which when compared to the inflation rate today, sounds like a gift (today it’s hovering around 3,000,000%…seriously). It wasn’t just an economic crisis…the country was quickly spiraling into a humanitarian crisis. The middle class was wiped out almost over night. If you were doing OK before, you were almost certainly living in extreme poverty now. 

Venezuela Hyper Inflation

Before you read our interview, this documentary on YouTube provides an overview of what’s happening in Venezuela today. As the video description says, “The downfall of Venezuela serves as a modern-day macro tragedy. Once the richest nation in Latin America, Venezuela is now a broken economy enveloped in crime, corruption and hyperinflation.”’s Exclusive Interview with Aida

The Inspirationals BeFreeMySheeple Aida Adam FranciscoAdam Francisco (BeFreeMySheeple) & Aida (Venezuelan Migrant)

Adam Francisco:  Aida – thank you so much for taking the time to sit down with me and talk about what life was like in Venezuela. I feel like a lot of people aren’t aware of how serious the Venezuelan crisis is. What was life like for you before?

Aida: Life wasn’t that hard before. We still had shortages of basic things like food and medicine but the inflation rate wasn’t that high and it wasn’t increasing that quickly.

Adam: So what happened?

Aida: Everything got worse because of the sudden drop of oil barrel prices given that everything was subsidized by the government. The government also practiced expropriation which affected productivity. What is important to make clear is that Chavez’s economic system was socialism and that shit doesn’t work! Everything is Chavez’s fault. He also chose the successor before he died.

BeFreeMySheeple Venezuela
[EPA/Miguel Gutierrez]

Adam : So when Maduro took over, how did life change?

Aida: Everything got worse. Working became less and less valuable. Money became worthless. Lots of money was being printed by the central bank which added to the inflation. Prices of things skyrocketed and higher prices combined with less production meant not enough supply for everyone! Everything started deteriorating : streets, cars, home appliances (due to power rationing), water supply (due to water rationing). People from civilized countries like USA can’t even imagine what it’s like to live under those degrading, inhumane conditions. My parents did not work so hard their whole lives to end up living in such misery. You cannot survive in Venezuela unless you work in the black markets “importing” basic products at the frontiers. 

Adam: You say importing in quotes because from what I’ve read and watched online, the importers take the items that are meant to go to the people, so they can re-sell it on the black market for financial personal gain, right?

Aida: Exactly. It is more like smuggling. Life during the current regime was so much harder for me. Reality was difficult. Life was reduced to just surviving every day looking for food or trading products. I had 3 jobs while studying at university and still couldn’t even think of moving out of my parents house because paying rent is impossible. Real estate financing started to be in US dollars which we couldn’t and didn’t have access to because the government imposed currency exchange controls. I really felt during those moments that I would never be able to flee this dictatorship. Life was just so miserable in Venezuela. 

BeFreeMySheeple Venezuela
[Carlos Barria/Reuters]

Adam: This is such heartbreaking stuff. What was the final straw that made you decide to leave Venezuela?

Aida: So I was going to law school for 2 years and I got depressed because I realized it wasn’t worth a thing studying laws that would never be applied. Venezuela is not a state of laws, but a state of legitimacy. The regime just kept creating more laws to legitimize all the crimes and anti-constitutional decisions. I realized I should take advantage of public education to study something that enabled me to go abroad and practice globally so I started to major in Languages (Foreign Language Teaching), specializing in French.

Adam: That’s a really smart move.

Aida BeFreeMySheeple The Inspirationals NYC France

Aida: I had already taught myself English, Italian and French from watching TV and listening to music. I made this decision in 2012, the year that Chavez died. I hoped things could get better so I could stay and contribute to the redevelopment of Venezuela through education but that clearly wasn’t happening so I had my plan B which was applying to job offers reserved for excellent students. Ultimately I ended up getting a job: teaching Spanish language in France. There wasn’t a final straw that made me think of leaving Venezuela, but an accumulation of things that would make anyone want to flee their country.

Adam: It’s amazing that you were able to come up with a plan for yourself post-Venezuela.

Aida: Yes, I had a plan. This is essential for people who plan to prosper and making a living abroad just like a citizen of that country. I always hated the idea of arriving to country and being unable to have economic rights and freedom. My plan was to have a guaranteed job waiting for me after I left Venezuela which is very hard to get.

Adam: So why France?

Aida: I chose France because I already spoke the language and because they have an amazing social system of healthcare and education, which was especially important for me as I still wanted to get my Master’s degree. Fleeing Venezuela and getting to France wasn’t easy. I had to pass through very tough situations for a young woman all alone.

Aida in France BeFreeMySheeple
Aida in France

Adam: On the way to France, you had to stop through the US and you chose New York City as your layover which is when we met. In your short time there, what did you think about New York?

Aida: My experience in New York City was full of contrasts but what I liked most about USA was the freedom. I was able to walk alone at night and not be worried about being murdered or raped. It was such an incredible feeling to have that freedom that I was no longer able to have in my own country. 

Adam: Things we take for granted in America. It’s refreshing and sobering to hear your perspective. So how is your job going in France?

Aida: I love it. I’m working part-time as a teacher while I finish my 2nd major this year in Business Administration. Then I can finally get my Master’s in International Trade. I believe what keeps nations from having wars is cooperation by finding common economic interests. To do this, we need freedom. We need guaranteed liberties.

Aida The Inspirationals BeFreeMySheeple Venezuelan Migrant
Aida in New York City

Adam: Are you happy?

Aida: I’m happy because I always wanted to live abroad and learn from other cultures. It’s just that I never thought I would do so without being able to go back home and without knowing when I’m going to see my family again. This is very hard, but I’m the owner of my happiness and responsible for it. I have to think this way because I can’t change the way things are right now. I am living in the moment.

Adam: Are you still in contact with your family?

Aida: Yes, I speak with my family everyday! Fortunately they are fine. My parent are still in Venezuela as well as some of my aunts and uncles but most of my cousins and friends are abroad. Even if I wanted to go back to Venezuela, it is no longer the country I grew up in. There are no longer people there I can relate my social life to. It doesn’t exist and it breaks my heart. My friends and family are all around the world now. Venezuelan exiles will reach 5 million this year! This is such an incredible migration phenomenon. Most of the Venezuelans on Instagram are creating their stories from all around the world.

Adam: What changes do you think need to happen in Venezuela?

Aida: People need legal security. This means we need real institutions that guarantee the rule of law! We need economic freedom, less dependence on natural resources and less dependence on the government to subsidize basic needs. Venezuelan citizens need emancipation from the government. These principles are essential to motivate productive and economic growth. Also, social and cultural aspects need to change because the Venezuelan people depend on and therefore love welfare. This is a problem that needs to be fixed with education and critical thinking for choosing a better type of government. And I’m sorry if my English was poor. It’s been awhile since I last spoke English!

Adam: Your English was better than many native speakers! I’ve always been absolutely amazed by your story and how you were able to overcome such an awful situation that you had no control over. I hope this interview can help raise awareness of the Venezuelan crisis as well as act as an inspiration for people that find themselves in a bad situation. You are proof that it’s possible to overcome tremendous odds and find happiness.


You can follow Aida on Instagram, @aidastereo.

Have another person that you’d like me to consider for next month’s The Inspirationals? Leave a comment or you can e-mail me If you enjoyed reading/watching this, you can follow me on Instagram, @adamfrancisco & @befreemysheeple.

Be Free My Sheeple!


The Inspirationals #1 : Anabolic Aliens


The Inspirationals #1: Anabolic Aliens

Welcome to the first installment of’s The Inspirationals where I interview people who’ve inspired me by successfully turning their passions into a career. When your career is your passion and you’re passionate about your career, it doesn’t feel like work and Mike Rosa, founder of Anabolic Aliens truly exemplifies this. Look at those guns.

Mike Rosa Anabolic Aliens

What is Anabolic Aliens?

As many of us have experienced throughout our fitness journeys, sometimes you hit a wall (also called a plateau). I was on YouTube before the summer of 2018 searching for intense workouts that would push me to my limits and prepare my body for the beach. That’s when I first discovered Anabolic Aliens.

Anabolic Aliens immediately became my go-to for workout routines because the founder, Mike Rosa, created approachable programs built specifically for people who want to challenge themselves in 5, 10 or 15 minute increments of non-stop exercise routines (HIIT) sometimes using just 1 set of dumbbells. His Intense 5 Minute Dumbell Bicep Workout was the first routine I tried and it left me sorer than I had ever been for almost an entire week (video below). Pain means gains so I was completely sold. Mike also built intense bodyweight routines that can be done from home which is especially useful when you’re a traveler like me and access to a gym isn’t always convenient.

Today, his YouTube channel has almost 500k subscribers with another 40k on Instagram, all from organic growth. He’s expanded his empire beyond social media and created a workout app called Exerprise (which currently has a 4.8 rating in the App Store) and allows you to create fully-customized workouts. 

I first connected with Mike in April 2018 when I messaged him on Instagram about how much I loved his videos. He shipped me a branded Anabolic Aliens sweatshirt and tank top as a thank you for the support and I filmed this Instagram video for him when I was living in Los Angeles (the greatest city in the world).

I had a chance to reconnect with him this January for this exclusive BeFreeMySheeple interview.’s Exclusive Anabolic Aliens Interview

BeFreeMySheeple Anabolic Aliens
Adam Francisco (BeFreeMySheeple) & Mike Rosa (Anabolic Aliens)

Adam Francisco: So good to finally connect man! I love watching your Instagram stories and seeing people from all over the world sending you messages about how you changed their lives. How did Anabolic Aliens get started?

Mike Rosa: It all started out by releasing a YouTube Video on July 2nd, 2014. It really was more of a hobby than a business. I fell in love with fitness and then I started to competitively powerlift which sparked my interest in sharing my progress. That’s when I started filming my workouts, tips and videos that could help other people enhance their own fitness while also doing what I love. Since the first video released, I have not missed 1 week of uploading a YouTube video.

Adam: They say consistency is one of the most important aspects of fitness.

Mike: Yeah that’s absolutely true! Now the Anabolic Aliens YouTube channel has over 470k subscribers, a high-traffic website, online clients, multiple sponsors, a workout app called Exerprise, and my growing Instagram.

Anabolic Aliens Mike Rosa Night Food Sponsor
Mike with one of his partners, Night Foods

Adam: Damn man, you’re killing it! What was your previous career?

Mike: I didn’t have one. I started this while I was at the University of New Hampshire. As soon as I graduated, I knew I was doing exactly what I love and I was going to make a successful career out of it.

Adam: So you completely avoided the corporate world of being a sheeple. I am super impressed.

Mike: Yeah, but the only hard part was trying to balance building a platform and school. Juggling school and a business wasn’t easy at all, but it was all worth it to me.

Adam: Definitely looks that way. Were there any obstacles along the way? How’d you deal with them?

Mike: Absolutely. The first main one was putting myself out there for the world. Being on camera was an acquired skill for me, not at all natural. I used to get so nervous filming and I’d stumble on my words constantly. Over time I’ve gotten extremely comfortable and can now talk into the camera on cue.

Adam: I was totally the same way. When I watch earlier videos of myself, I cringe a little bit.

Mike Rosa Anabolic Aliens

Mike : [Laughter]. Another obstacle was business motivation. I mentioned earlier how Anabolic Aliens really started out more as a hobby. Since it wasn’t this big serious business yet, that thought of “I don’t need to post today” hit me often, especially when school was busy. The reason I never stopped in the beginning was because I felt somewhat obligated. 

Adam: Obligated to yourself or your audience?

Mike: What I mean by that is I was noticing amazing results and became overall so much happier, so what I was doing was working. I wanted as many other people as possible to feel that same feeling. Passions is my motivation.

Adam: I love it. 

Mike: Yeah. The only other obstacle to really mention was just trying to stay true to my values. As money started coming in and varying business opportunities and partnerships arose, I had to always make sure that any move I made was one my heart was behind. Sometimes dollars signs can be distracting, but always gotta keep it real.

Adam: I’m so impressed that you launched your own profitable business without any formal corporate experience. 

Mike: I always hated school. I always hated being told what to do. As I was trying to think about what I wanted to do, the one certain was I needed to be my own boss. I needed my creativity and time to be completely free. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Mike Rosa Anabolic Aliens
More gains.

Adam: As you say, “no limits!” So if someone wanted to follow in your steps and become a successful YouTube, what advice would you give them?

Mike : Be consistent. Consistency is the number one thing I preach to everyone who is trying to grow their YouTube channel. You can have the best content in the world, but due to oversaturation of videos, if you’re not posting regularly then that amazing content you made had may never be seen. Develop some method of consistency before all else. I recommend at least 1 new video a week. Then as you stay consistent, you can keep improving your quality. Then a step further, you can start trying to ramp up the quantity. Keep posting and every time it’s more likely for your channel to be found.

Adam: I’ll take this advice into account for my thriving 31-subscriber YouTube channel.

Mike : [Laughter]. Gotta start somewhere!

Adam: You’re obviously happy. What advice would you give to someone who is unhappy?

Mike: Focus on you. Find our what your true values are and what you’re passionate about. We live in a time where you can pursue that passion so get after it. Do what you love and it’ll never be real work. The happier you are in your work life, the more motivated you’ll be to enhance other aspects of your life.

Adam: How do you define happiness?

Mike : I define happiness today as a sense of motivated self-comfort. You are comfortable with who you are yet motivated to keep getting better. You’re proud of yourself for what you’ve accomplished, yet working to take it to the next level. You’ve established your values and you know what you stand for. Love, live, learn. I used to think happiness was just a temporary feeling. No more.

Adam: I can’t agree anymore. What are your plans for this year?

Mike: I plan to keep getting better and there’s a lot that’s going to go into that. Personally, I’m chasing the best physique of my life and will keep exploring new ways to enhance my overall health. Professionally, a ton of new YouTube content is going to be released. My app Exerprise is going to be having a lot of new feature developments. I also plan on optimizing and improving my Instagram content. 

Adam: Let’s do a collab on Instagram if I’m in Boston or you’re in Thailand.

Mike: I’m in! Also excited to upgrade my website with improved features and overall aesthetics. I have a lot of new partnerships in the works and opportunities keep arising. This is going to be a big year for personal and professional gains. I know it!

Adam: I’m impressed Mike and really inspired by your story and your success. And a huge thank you for creating awesome videos that have improved my, as well as so many other people’s fitness. Thanks so much for the time Mike.

Mike: No limits!

Mike Rosa Anabolic Aliens
Never look back. Only forward.

Anabolic Aliens Links

Check out the Anabolic Aliens links below:

Exerprise App


Have another person that you’d like me to consider for next month’s The Inspirationals? Leave a comment or you can e-mail me If you enjoyed reading/watching this, you can follow me on Instagram, @adamfrancisco & @befreemysheeple.

Be Free My Sheeple!