Fear and Shame Can’t Breathe the Same Air as Gratitude and Peace

Craig Stanland
3 min readMay 9


It hit me when I wrote the date in my journal this morning.

I don’t want to say I forgot, but another circumstance directly related to May 9th was at the forefront of my mind, obscuring the beauty of this day.

The other circumstance is one of fear and shame and a remembrance of what was.

But when I wrote the date, when I saw 5.9, a sensation washed over me.

It was a deep and pure sensation of gratitude and peace, and the fear and shame I felt only moments ago vanished.

They vanished because of an immutable truth:

Fear and shame can’t breathe the same air as gratitude and peace.

What makes May 9th special?

May 9th, 2016, is the day I was freed from the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

May 9th, 2019, is the day I was freed from federal supervised release (probation in the federal system).

May 9th is the day my freedom was reborn, and a new chapter began.

The other circumstance that was consuming me is a remnant of my choice to defraud one of the largest tech companies in the world; it’s the restitution still owed.

The balance owed is my shadow, a reminder of the worst version of myself.

It’s also one of the most significant opportunities to practice self-love, acceptance, and forgiveness.

It’s an opportunity to surrender to the shadow and accept full responsibility for my actions.

It’s an opportunity to seize agency over what’s in my control and accept that which isn’t.

There’s a beautiful aspect to circumstances that I sometimes struggle to see when I’m in the midst of them, and it applies to everything in life, especially life itself.

Everything is temporary.

Life, and everything within it, is impermanent.

Including the beautiful sensation of gratitude and peace celebrated on this day.

It, too, shall fade, and I don’t know what will take its place, but I do know this:

Craig Stanland

I write about my journey from corporate success to federal prison and finding joy, mission, meaning, and fulfillment beyond professional and financial success.