Create. Heal. Inspire.

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The Power of Choosing Seclusion

Are you the type of person to seclude themselves when things get hairy? Do you prefer to chill at home instead of socializing? I know I do. It’s easy to get into a pattern of seclusion as a default, but when it is chosen consciously with intention, it can really enhance ones quality of life.

Seclusion for seclusion’s sake sucks. Because I spent so many years in seclusion – isolation – emotional and sexual anorexia – it became a default modus operandi for me. But I’ve had the opportunity to do much inner work on myself (most notably with regards to the emotional and sexual anorexia), and so I have grown into a man who can now enjoy seclusion when it is chosen purposefully.

Sound familiar? Lots of empaths and introverts experience this (These two qualities are different things, but they often run hand in hand). I consider myself to be both. An empath feels deeply the feelings of others, which is a wonderful quality to posses. It becomes a burden, though, if that empath starts to look outside of themselves to figure out how to feel about something. This is very common in situations where that empath has dealt with or is dealing with great personal and emotional struggles and is unable to establish a sense of serenity within.
Balanced seclusion
I am an author, and a composer. To be alone and creative is absolutely wonderful. However, I have noticed recently that as a default empath, because I am human and still require social situations and basic human affection, I have to take charge of getting these needs met. For example, yesterday I chose to work on Igby (like my page!) for a few hours. It was great! I’m almost done with the first section and it is ridiculously exciting. But after a while I felt emotionally unfulfilled. Checking in with that emotion revealed that it had nothing to do with the book at all – I was just needing human love and affection – I was feeling lonely. There are times when I question the way that I am feeling in favor of accomplishing a certain task, but again, that had always been my modus operandi. It felt as if questioning the way I felt in favor of completing certain tasks was how I was trained to operate in school and college, so to question that paradigm is extremely empowering for me. So what I did is I hit up a friend from acro whom I look up to and asked if he wanted to grab a beer. Simple! Easy! All it took was me reaching out. As a deep thinker I often overthink things, and make social situations heavier than they actually need to be. I think this also has to do with a propensity towards intensity in relationships that I garnered by being raised by an emotionally intense mother. What this means is that I often look past normal, healthy human situations in favor of a more emotionally intense one, resulting often in a seeming unbalance in, for example, basic human affection versus intense romantic desire.

So to choose seclusion is super empowering for me right now. I went out, had a beer with friends, and got some normal human affection. I changed my approach to the whole situation, which ended up turning out beautifully. Instead of showing up and putting out a “I need affection” energy, I showed up genuinely interested in having a good time and adding value to the group. I used to do this until I’d feel drained, which was a problem. Knowing when to withdraw is an important skill. As an author and an introvert, it’s easier for me to seclude myself and build up energy that I can bring to social situations. This stuff is precious!!! Don’t squander it. Pour it over people that you genuinely care about, and who have demonstrated that they genuinely care about you. I showed up and gave away 4 quartz crystals that I had mined from the ground in Ida, Arkansas. It was a simple gesture, but I wanted to give something. Crystal gifting used to be a way for me to create covert contracts with other people (in a mafioso kind of way i.e. “I gave you this crystal now you owe me a favor, etc). But that’s not my intention anymore. I felt genuinely motivated to gift these crystals to people with whom I already had established relationship.
We all talked for a while, ate, drank, and laughed. It was a great time! You know what? I went home inspired, and full of energy, ready to write.

Active Seclusion.

Seclusion, for an introvert like me, should effectively recharge the individual. We power up our emotional batteries by taking care of ourselves. This is an active seclusion, where we are present and enjoying the process. If you need to be lazy, just enjoy it, mk?

For someone who grew up with low-self esteem, this part of the process can be terrifying! You mean i have to actually take care of myself? I thought that if I create enough covert contracts that someone will come along and be obligated to do it for me?

Wow, this one is huge. I struggled with this one for years and years. The truth of my experience reveals that, yes, there will be people in your life who genuinely want to meet your needs, and it is important to reach out and cultivate relationships where you are guided, empowered, and nurtured by parental figures in your life. But these people will provide this value to you becuase they want to, not because you obligated them through covert contracts.

It takes bravery to get your needs met if you’ve lived your life with the impression that you are unimportant – less than – unworthy. Mentorship can really help too, so find yourself someone who has been through a similar situation and model their behavior! Tip: make sure that your mentor is in a place of genuine giving so there is no room for obligation. They have to want to play that role for you.

Please use this post to spur new ideas about self care and the energy dynamics of active seclusion and social giving. Introverts, unite! separately, in the privacy of our own homes. Just kidding. Introversion is a fulltime position, but if we embrace it, we can bring a lot of unique value to the world, most notably, the value of being our happy selves.

In Love,


Happiness in Growth

I got the text: “I need some space”. “Of course” I replied. Who am I to argue with someone’s assertion of personal sovereignty? Even though I was really looking forward to hanging out with this person, they canceled on me.

But then someone else did to. Legitimate excuse after legitimate excuse came, and I was unable to understand why. I didn’t fight it, or complain, but i was disappointed.

4 or 5 people canceled plans with me this week!

The power of Three
Whenever something happens that perks up my intuition and my spidey senses tingle, I look for frequency. In other words, I pay attention to how frequently a certain event takes place. The fact that i had 4-5 cancellations in one week tells me that something important is going on. Furthermore, three of these peeps had something in common.

But first, how do I know that three happenings means something important is going on? It’s because I have a frame of reality where I want the universe to speak to me in threes. Another way of looking at it is I have asked God or my higher self to communicate to me through the outer world using numbers. I have a large lexicon of numerological associations that I pay attention to, which gives me insight into decisions. I trust my gut and trust my intuition, but still use my logical brain to help me to implement the intuitions. This is a very interesting way of navigating through life.

Happiness in Growth.
What did three of these people have in common? I’ll tell you. And it’s not because I want to call them out or anything, because I’ve certainly been guilty of this as well, so I’m no angel here. But three of these people are depressed! I couldn’t make the connection until this morning as I was meditating on happiness.

In one of my favorite books “Mastering Your Hidden Self: A Guide to the Huna Way” by Serge King, the author defines growth as “increasing awareness, skills, and happiness”.

I have mostly focused on awareness about 60%, skills 30%, and happiness 10%. Even this self-evaluation requires a high percentage of awareness to make, ya dig? So these three categories can accentuate each other. If you cultivate your self awareness, you can make experience-based judgements on the other categories. Let me give you a real life example.

Because I have worked on cultivating my awareness through meditation, self-discipline, and self-reflection, I am able to see that my happiness levels really aren’t spectacular. Happiness, skills, and awareness are three categories into which I invest my time and energy. As any apt investor will tell you, it’s important to regularly re-balance ones portfolio! So, I want to increase my happiness levels to 33.3% at least. This is a subjective, self-assessed level. My goal is 33.3% in all categories. Keep in mind that this “re-balancing” doesn’t mean that my awareness levels decrease. My awareness will stay the same as I work on my skills and happiness, I simply won’t be investing in any extra time or energy into growing it because it’s already a dominant part of my growth portfolio. These are percentages, not definite numbers.
I’ll use the asset investment portfolio example again. Say I have $1000 to invest. I put $333 in stocks, $333 in bonds, and $333 into real estate. After 6 months, lets say my stocks have doubled to $500, bonds are still at $300, and real estate is down to $200. At this point, stocks are 50%, bonds are 30%, and real estate is at 200%. Therefor, in order to rebalance my portfolio and mitigate risk, I will invest my more of my next $1000 into real estate and bonds.

There are many different factors involved in investing assets, some of which I understand and some of which I’m still learning about.

But I hope my example makes sense: My awareness doesn’t decrease just because I invest more of my time into cultivating happiness levels. I give it a certain amount of minimal maintenance, but otherwise my time and energy will be poured into increasing my happiness and skills.

How I will increase my happiness
Heyo! Anyone else out there grow up in a family unit in which depression ran rampant? It’s a disease, a mental disorder. Clinical depression isn’t fixed by a high five and a few words of encouragement.

But I believe that I can beat it. I intend to make a list of 10 people whom I regard to being genuinely happy people. I further intend to talk with these 10 people and ask them about their happiness levels – what are their habits and practices, mental, physical, and spiritual, that allow them to exist in a state of happiness.

Re-evaluating dating in the happiness frame
WOW. A magnanimous insight just bequeathed itself to me. Surely happiness levels are increased or decreased by the people with whom I surround myself. If i spend time dating or chasing people who are depressed, what does that say about me? It says that my soul wants to be happy and therefor depressed people are, naturally, running away from me. I’ve worn the dark cloak of depression for some time, but i’m ready to cast it off now. (super inspiring: this track came on as a write these words: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iyWjKQo9-m8 UPDATE: woah that was poignant).
I’m very grateful for this insight. I look forward to how it will reshape my conscious expression in the days to come.

So some skills that will help me in this self-directed growth are:
– Learning and cultivating a happiness vibe
– Learning and cultivating happiness habits
– Learning from and cultivating relationships with self-asserted happy people
I look forward to implementing these changes in my everyday life. As with the 21 day yoga challenge, It appears that 21 days is a perfect amount of time for a habit to change me. So, as I did with the yoga challenge, I will wait for the new moon (’cause I’m witchy like that 😉 )and will begin my 21 day cycle of happiness.

I will use the three learning and cultivating skills listed above, as well as the steps outlined in The Happiness Advantage blogpost.

Until next time, L’Chiam!
– Tim

Open Relationships + Organic Courage

I haven’t kicked it with Dark Princess in a couple weeks, and other than a few casual conversations on the phone or by text, we haven’t talked. Maybe this is one relationship that will just fall away naturally. I’ve actually reached out a few times but she seems to be pretty busy. Recently I’ve become aware that one quality that I look for in people I’m interested in is time abundance and schedule orientation. Without these qualities, it is impossible for me to commit energetically to building something – even casually – with another human being. I bring this up because knowing that I need time abundance and schedule orientation is a wonderful lesson I’ve recieved in these last few months.

When I first started dating at the beginning of the 21 day Yoga Challenge after taking a year off I had to break through some shame-based fears about being “seen” before I was ready. Now I feel like I’ve been seen, and it wasn’t terrible. In fact, I’ve had many wonderful, real, and pleasureable moments in the process.

I am excited about a new woman in my life, whom I will refer to as The Doc. We are both schedule oriented, and, because there is a mutual attraction, we make time for eachother. Our connection started as friends, then we became intimate friends, then we kissed and eventually became lovers. It took courage to ask if I could kiss her, but other than that, the whole process was very organic and fluid. Maybe even the courage on my part was an organic courage, instead of courage tainted by a sense of needing to prove myself.


Organic courage is courage that arises naturally. A willingness to go outside ones comfort zone is part of the process, but it really isn’t the entire thing. Organic courage means the courage to act, be, do as the person you feel like you are – the person you feel like you are becoming. Organic courage means that you posess within you the wherewithall to knock on the door of opportunity. It doesn’t matter if you knock gingerly, confidently, boisterously, but just knock anyways.

Show up to the opportunity. To run away from that opportunity will never get you through it. You can navigate life brilliantly with organic courage – knock gingerly if you will, but knock.
Eventually the quality of your courage may distill, mature, and turn into a skillset. Eventually you may begin to understand more about what you want, and develop the unique skill set required to get what you want (like I am currently developing in dating…slowly, but surely)

For example, I’m learning more about what I want. I recently had an encounter with a rediculously gorgeous woman. I mean, head turning accident causing good looks. I started a conversation with her (which took courage), and I told her she was beautiful (which also took courage). I didn’t use any cheesy pickup lines – which take courage too – but they’re pretty new to me. I may experiment with them eventually, if I think the time is right, but my organic courage approach seems like it fits better with who I am, at least for now.

Conscious pickup lines
I’ve never really been one for pickup lines. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with them, and I know some people for whom they really work, but I prefer my method of soft courage or organic courage.

Why? I don’t know – maybe it’s an introvert thing. Maybe I prefer to make connections with people with whom there is mutual respect, and I have a belief that pickup lines are disrespectful in some way. I’ve seen them used – boisterously, courageously, and unabashedly – and I’ve seen them work. But I lost respect for the men who used them, and for the women that they used them on. It felt disheartening, and I want to understand why. At one point I used to get my love through the use of covert contract – in other words, “If I am kind and a nice guy, and don’t objectify you or treat you like I am actually interested in you, then you should love me and validate me sexually.”

This nice guy covert contract is pretty common I think, and a cause of sexual frustration for a lot of people young and old – I know because I was once one of them! I’ve really lucked out though, because my organic courage is working for me. Slowly, but it’s still working ok.
But, as any healthy self-regulating system must do, I question this approach. I wonder – is there something to the pickup line thing? Perhaps I can tailor the ethos of the pickup line to fit my vibe. I’d venture a proposal that the reason that pickup lines can work is that they express interest from the get go, which let’s the object of your affections respond in kind, or at least understand your intentions.. My approach with Dark Princess, “the other woman”, The Doc, and more, has been to get to know them personally first, then express my interest in physical affection. I did this because the vibe felt right to do so, which is a result of just feeling out a situation intuitively (another reason why yoga and meditation are so great for self-efficacy – they sharpen intuition).

Positive marketing in Dating
I’d consider the vibe and the way that we interact with potential partners as a form of advertizing. Thus, if I advertise my self – in this case, the quality and value that I provide to a partner – as something that is flashier than the reality of what I can truly offer, then I feel way out of alignment with my integrity.

This is why, if I were to start using pickup lines, they would have to be reflective of the quality and value that I can truly provide – which is an open-hearted, encouraging, fun, fluid connection. Boom. I just learned something about myself.


I am in an incredible dating situation! The Doc is encouraging of my current preference for open relationship, as well as my desire to explore role play as a method of self discovery…essentially, she encourages me to be me.

Emotionally, this is incredibly rewarding. To be in an intimate partnership with someone who encourages me to be me is like, literally the best thing evar. (Usually I’d want to use a perhaps more literary description, but girly linguistics seems to do the trick here. Sometimes it’s not what you say, it’s the way you say it). Encouragement to be me was never something I had as a child. The fact that I found someone who provides that is wonderful. I’ve worked on becoming more of myself recently, and to meet someone who reflects my internal change back to me helps to reenforce the change.

The speed at which I manifested this relationship is pretty staggering. Remember the fourth step of the manifestation process? Yeah, I’m still adjusting. It’s changing me and bringin me new positive cognitive dissonance experiences!

Open Relationships – a lesson from a couple years back
A couple years back I dated multiple people at the same time, but I started things out wrong. I became physically intimate with someone before having an in-depth conversation and making a mutual decision to be open. I dated this person and we became physically intimate quickly. I did so with the understanding and explicit detailing that I didn’t want anything exclusive. But she became jealous of my other partners and let that jealousy get the best of her. She contacted one of my other partners and told her off very territorially. It fvcked the whole situation up and I ended up having to choose neither of them. I was learning at the time, and so I understand there were probably some other things that I could have done differently. Most notably, I would have spent longer choosing a primary partner. I would have chosen a primary partner who was open and understanding of my need for open relationships, not just accepting because she wanted to be with me.

I’ve never had a partner as encouraging as The Doc. It’s hard to say if she’ll be my primary – I think it’s too early to tell. For now I’ll just enjoy our connection, playfulness, conversation, and mutual respect and admiration.

It’s a good thing.

[Comment! I love hearing from you.]

[If you want to learn more about my creative projects, check out my musical project Timo or my psy-fi novel Igby]

Feeling Super Vulnerable…

I’m feeling super vulnerable today.  I’m getting frustrated with the fact that I’m spending so much “focused” time at my part-time job and so little time working on what I’d really rather be doing: playing private piano gigs, writing Igby, and learning how to make futurebass music.

I want to work smart, always. How do I do this? I MUST evaluate my time realistically. I MUST look at the projects that I want to accomplish, and prioritize them.

I must confess, my gung-ho attitude of doing an hour of yoga after work has manifested lackluster results. I haven’t disciplined myself to do an hour of yoga more than 2 or 3 times this week. That sounds pretty good, actually. I don’t know why I’m so down on myself. Maybe it’s because I’ve taken in so much sugar recently? and my emotional-energy levels are out of whack?

What would it look like to do all these things that I’d rather be doing? It would mean scheduling the time to do them, and doing them. I’ve wondered if I need to create a deadline for these creative projects.

[Edit: Here’s a brief clip of me second guessing myself that I was going to edit out, exploring my inner belief structure through writing. I decided to leave it in for the sake of example. Watch how I am able to turn things around once I get the emotion out in the light: “I am currently, temporarily feeling depressed at the prospect of never getting another vacation again. Wait – hold up. Who said I will never get another vacation again? Not true. I’m not sure where that belief came from. I suppose it’s because I’ve always had a hard time dealing with a feeling of low self-worth. Essentially the idea is “I’m not worth taking time off for”.

Woah – where did that come from? I’m so fvcking sick of having to look back to my childhood to make sense of my present. But I don’t know of another place where I was so vulnerable to the ideas and beliefs of the people around me. [the turn around] I want to make something out of myself. I want to be happy. I want to do good work. I want to be financially and spiritually abundant.”]

Right now, my vibe is getting better. It’s interesting. There have been times where I’ve [allegedly] wanted to medicate with cannabis cookies. I’ve been watching a lot of movies recently. It feels lazy. I’m not sure if I want to stop it and read books instead. If I relocated my studio musical setup, that would be much easier, and I would move a reading chair up to my bedroom.

Let the air clear.

I was just thinking about a friend of mine who tried to start a small business. He failed. But he dragged his feet for many, many months after I felt like he should have re-evaluated and pivoted. Why? Stubbornness, persistence, not knowing when to quit. I would like to more clearly and easily know when to quit – chasing a love interest, a job, a project, a creative relationship. Is it only an emotional decision? How do I make these decisions? I think it should be a combination of emotional and mental.


Take Time for the Sensous


Also, something that I’ve become increasingly aware of is that I need to make time for the sensuous – the savory. Enjoying the finer things in life. I want to cry just thinking about this. I haven’t traveled since that awesome camping trip I took with some friends to the Buffalo River in July. How can I make the time to travel?

I want to live in Asia for a while. Japan would be great. How can I do this? How can I set up income streams to create wealth whether I work or not?

Here’s what I’m envisioning: A business, building and certifying Reiki practitioners here in Memphis, and further helping connect clients with practitioners with places to give and receive Reiki. Organize the results so the practitioner can choose the best place, and schedule it then and there. 444. Then, i can take the business on the road.

God I’m feeling so depressed right now…I think I’ll go home and sleep. 999

God is reaching me in the most spine-shilling goosebump inducing way possible. I will let this energy rearrange my inner self. I will follow my heart. When ever I feel off, my heart will take me home.

Soft Courage: 4 Steps to Manifestion

I cried tears of joy yesterday. I was pulling up to get my hair cut, still on the phone with a dear friend of mine, telling him about a recent experience I had with a new lover.

I wasn’t telling him details – it wasn’t that kind of call. Instead I was regaling him about how incredible it feels to take a risk and to exercise courage in order to get the love and sex I want.

Why is this so important to me?

It wasn’t because I was raised in a shame-based paradigm where sex was a sin and never talked about, except under the most uncomfortable and un-fun circumstances. It wasn’t because every time I reached out to people I was attracted to I was met with ungodly guilt and shame as a result of growing up with so much fear and shame around my own sexuality.

I was flabbergasted because this person is exactly the type of lover who I’ve been wanting to attract into my life.

Warning: I’m going to get really new-agey here! This is the last stop to get off if you’re too square to sit with us on the magic bus.

You still here?

Ok, cool, it’s just us circles now. Check it out:

I imagined exactly the type of lover that I wanted. She would have very specific characteristics, be interested in very specific experiences, have a certain schedule, have certain communication skills, etc. I imagined this from a place of innocence and wonder, as if asking my inner child what it is that he really wants. No judgement, no guilt. I put myself in the place of connecting with this person and felt the feelings that I would feel naturally in different situations with this lover. Keep in mind that this was not a specific person in my mind at this point – it was a set of specific traits.

This is the most chilling manifestation I’ve had the distinct pleasure of co-creating (that time I manifested goat cheese was pretty cool, but c’mon – a sexy new lover is way cooler)

I used the word “flabbergasted” to describe the situation to my friend on the phone because it was about as close to describing the absolutely uncanny specificity with which this new lover arrived as I could get without living through the experience of finding her again. I don’t have a nickname for her yet. Maybe if she’s reading this post she’ll let me know 😉

Manifestation as a 4 part process

1st part: Program it
I would connect with my innocent self, imagine the traits of this lover, and really work on how I felt about it. I would refine and refine and get that emotion super loud, and connect with it as often as I wanted (the more often the better).

It’s not enough to just think about it. You have to charge it with emotion. And emotion is never something that you can fake. Ok, you can be a shakespearean actor about it, but your subconscious knows if you genuinely truly want something with your heart. Stop trying to manifest things that you think you need, and start spending time manifesting the people things and experiences that you know you’d love to enjoy. 

2nd part: Patience

You have to be so detached from the process of manifestation that you could easily forget about it in your day to day. It can be difficult especially if what you’re trying to manifest is something you really want! Don’t worry about it, don’t try to force it. If you feel like you need to do something about it, spend some time getting into the feeling that you’d exude when receiving it. But make sure that you’re not charging it with the emotion of not having it!

It can be kind of confusing at first, especially if you’re someone who may not have stellar emotional awareness. This is why yoga is so helpful – it helps to calm the body and mind while at the same time increasing the ease and quickness of processing emotions.

So be patient with the universe as it conspires to bring your exactly what you desire, and have fun! The next step is…

3rd part: Courage

You have to have the courage to try something new. Think about this: if in our current vibrational state we weren’t receiving that which we desire, it makes sense – using the law of attraction – that in order to attract that which we do desire, we must shift our vibrational state. What does this shift require?


Courage is always required to shift into a new way of being.

How does that make you feel? Check your energy. What is your emotional response to reading this?

Maybe you consider yourself to be courageous, maybe not. If you don’t (like I did for a long time, until I shifted my definition of courage), you may find my experience interesting.

I already knew that courage was required to get what you want. With this lover, I didn’t use any creative pickup lines, seduction tricks, or manipulation. I did what felt right, which was getting to know her as a person and friend first, and then I shifted into asking if I could kiss her when the mood and time and place was right.

That’s it. It required courage but it was more of a soft courage than what I used to consider to be courage. I used to consider courage to ONLY be a loud, boisterous, dominant kind of thing. Now I realize courage can be both loud and soft. While these aspects come out of me from time to time, it’s not coming from a place of needing to prove anything. I’m glad to be over that one.

4th Part: Adjusting

I’m not going to over-glamorize this: getting what you want can hurt. You will be presented with myriad opportunities to fall back into your previous, more comfortable albeit undesirable vibrational state. Don’t do it! Adjustment entails letting your consciousness get used to feeling how you feel when you have what you desire.

For me it means feeling all the feelings involved with my new partner: glee, apprehension, joy, certain amounts of latent shame that come up: all of it. These feelings are a result of the new creation in your life. If you stuff the emotions or block them or medicate them away, you are simply telling the universe that you can’t handle what you want. Maybe you can’t, alone, so it’s helpful to reach out to your network of support in times like these. You have been building a network of support, haven’t you? This is a network of people that you support and encourage who also support and encourage you. Let’s live and love and grow together!!

Try it out!
Manifesting was kind of a casual hobby for me initially, and I would get frustrated easily because I hadn’t cleared a lot of emotional blocks that can get in the way. What I love about it is that it requires me to confront the parts of myself that are scared and hurt, and heal them. Because I value growth and development so much, manifestation is quickly turning from a casual interest into a deeper and more impactful process.

What are your questions about manifesting? What have you tried? What’s worked for you, and what hasn’t? Let me know! Comment!

Peace, and happy manifesting.


Resistance, Planning, and the Happiness Advantage

I’ve talked about my experience working in my new job at a juice bar before – it’s importance in my creative evolution cannot be understated. When I started this job I was beginning to open up to a new identity as a gender-fluid person. I was a bit apprehensive about starting my job initially because I held a fear of being ridiculed of shamed for who I was.

But the universe has a funny way of working out: The crew that I work with includes members of the LGBTQ community of all colors and shapes! Not only did I find myself in a place where my left of-center sexuality was accepted, it’s encouraged.

The peeps that I work with are really awesome too. As far as wage labor jobs go, this one is probably the best one I can imagine. I’m surrounded by health oriented, progressive thinking people; the managers are cool; and I get to enjoy the juice and smoothies! Also, the owner and managers have brought me coffee on separate occasions. Win.

The practical side of this is that I have the stability to let my life re-arrange while still supporting myself financially.

I am running into some resistance though. YES. Resistance is fodder for my evolution engine. If you can look at resistance as a favorable growth opportunity instead of a pointless annoyance you may find that your life starts to take an interesting form. By totally loving and accepting said resistance we can further embrace the part of ourselves that feel in opposition of our circumstances, seemingly paradoxically moving through it quicker.

In my particular case, the resistance is that after I work for 7+ hours, I get tired! I need to rest. Thus, it is often difficult to blog or write music or work on my fiction.

So in continuing with the juice gig I need to figure out: what is an easy, quick, and reliable way to renew my creative energy after working for 7+ hours?

I need a reliable method, which must include some iteration based adjustment (naturally – let your experience with the process tell you what works and what doesn’t. “Efficacy is the measure of truth”). Yoga classes, unfortunately, are out. I’m usually getting off between 12pm and 1pm, in which case most of the convenient studios have already started their classes.

Here’s my solution: I can create my own yoga routine that is predictable, and reliable for resting and re-charging my energy. It can include deep breathing, stretching, meditation, visualization, and future mapping. Also important, is planning out what I need to do in terms of realizing my creative visions. This means taking a close look my creative goals, and setting priorities.

Here is a list of my current creative goals, each one evolving from general specific:

– Learn music production (vague) –> create Future Bass music, using the easiest, quickest, most intuitive DAW (specific)
[this specificity helps because I can zero in on the more actionable sub-steps]
– test out new DAWs [List resources:]
– Memphis Slim House
– Crosstown Arts Studio
– University of Memphis Music Production Studio
– Music producers in my network
ACTION STEPS: Visit each studio, find out which one is best to invest time/energy into
Reach out to music producers in network and ask for help

As of 10 seconds ago, these goals are now neatly placed on my 3.5×5 inch notecard labeled “monday creative goals,action steps”, sitting snugly on my desk.


I need to spend some quality time with this creative work. I jotted down the bulk of it, but it’s an incorrigible cliff hanger; incomplete. It needs more work, more time, more attention. So, I can make time for IGBY on an off day this week. IGBY deserves a whole day, or at least multiple focused and devoted hours.

So, now that I’ve outlined my creative priorities, let’s get back to my routine.

In order to calm the mind, exercise the body. This means YOGA!!! My yoga routine, based off of 12 years of experience and my most recent 21 day yoga challenge, will look like this:

– alternate nostril breathing
– vinyasa
– Arm balances, core, variation
– core
– Savasana
– Meditation
– visualization
– Happiness Advantage exercise

I feel confident that I can effectively relax and renew after 7+ hours of juice bar in this way. In adjusting from weekend hours to juice bar hours, I also may require a nap. I’m ok with this. I will let my body act as a guide for further priming my creative energy.

So this is a little example of using self-exploration and journaling to plan my week, and work out kinks – challenges – in my current incarnation.

How can Yoga help creativity?
If you practice daily (yeah), it becomes a habit. Imagine, a habit that calms your body, focuses your mind, helps you process emotions, and connects you with your spiritual essence. That’s what yoga is for me. Thusly, true divine inspiration can flow through much easier.

If it works out in your schedule, I highly recommend getting unlimited yoga at a local studio like Elements, Midtown, or Delta Groove. The benefit of surrounding yourself with knowledgeable teachers is immense. Just remember to check in with yourself (and your levels) often so you can better gauge and appreciate your progress – it really helps with motivation!

The Happiness Advantage
Not my words or idea – full credit to Shawn Achor (video found on www.forwardcounseling.com). Essentially, the idea is to do each of these things everyday:
– exercise, and meditate (which is, like, yoga)
– write down 3 things per day that you are grateful for
– journal about one positive experience you’ve had in the past 24 hours
– random/conscious acts of kindness: send one positive or praising email or text to someone in your social support network.

After you do all these things, your happiness levels should be over 9,000!

Try it out. Like the 21 day yoga challenge, see how it changes you.
One positive experience that I’ve had in the past 24 hours:
After Acro Yoga class yesterday, I was hanging out with some of the crew, doing handstands, peacocks, and all sorts of fun variations thereof. I was feeling pretty self-conscious because I was coming to terms with the reality that now that I’m having more cool sexual experiences, I am still feeling amiss in terms of getting my emotional needs met.

I’ve struggled with confusing sex with emotional intimacy before, and because I wasn’t ready for the lesson at the time, I would retreat into isolation and try to medicate or stuff my emotions unhealthily. Now, as the man I am today, to be able to identify the nature of my quandary with such alacrity is very encouraging. I came into this understanding mainly because of this cool, positive experience:
As I was feeling this self-conscious, unidentifiable experience, I wandered over to the Levitt Shell. The music was a bit underwhelming, so after about 10 minutes I got up to leave. On my way out, I ran into my friend Adam. His struggles in early childhood make mine look like sunshine and daisies. We saw each other, greeted, hugged, and he asked me how I was doing. I shrugged and opened up and told him that I was feeling a lot of emotion. This willingness to be vulnerable with someone I trust started a whole whirl of beautiful happenings: I was able to sit against a wall and chat about my feelings, my emotions, my situation, and to receive experience based knowledge and validation from someone whose strength and lessons are tremendous and inspiring.

What happened next, i did not expect. I saw one dude hovering outside the circle of our conversation for a few minutes, but ignored him at first because I was in deep conversation with Adam. When Adam eventually got up to talk with some friends, I stayed down and this dude came over and sat down next to me. It turns his name is Chandler, and he knew me from Avenue Coffee, a nice little shop in the Normal Station neighborhood. Chandler asked me how I was, and offered space for me to open up to him!

Because I didn’t really know him that well, I was apprehensive at first. But then I told him about my current challenges in dating, sex, and emotional intimacy. He listened, and reflected. What is really interesting to me is that his presence was very helpful, regardless of the information that he presented. In fact, he didn’t really present me with any new information. He was totally heart-centered, an open vessel, simply there to be of service to a fellow human. What an angel!

He reached over and gave me a christian side-hug, and told me he would pray for me. Because of my frustrations with the christian environment in which I was raised I have always fundamentally rejected it as a spiritual system (if you are violently forced to eat broccoli, you may indeed develop an aversion to broccoli!). He told me he would pray for me, and I thanked him, and he walked off. I sat there for a minute, processing, and taking some deep breaths.

Somehow, my emotional turmoil was calmed. I truly believe that if I hadn’t reached out and talked and made myself open to the beautiful people around me, it would have taken much longer for me to process and understand my emotions.

Thanks everyone, for being awesome. Your love is truly felt.

The Fallacy of Good Citizens, and Re-Framing Love vs. Sex

I’ve been able to get excellent feedback on a poignant cause of recent consternation. Essentially my lesson has been this: that I had put up a rigid mask of how I thought society needed to perceive me in order to be accepted (validated). This was made readily apparent to me when I showed up to a counseling appointment in a button up shirt that was too tight to be comfortable. I mentioned that I was going to the bank after our appointment, and stated that I always dressed up nicely to go to the bank. I didn’t understand why. My counselor, a pragmatist, checked me and said that all I needed to go to the bank was money!

This shift of perspective helped me to unravel a deeply ingrained belief that if I dress up and present myself as a “good citizen”, then I will somehow make it, or be successful, or be validated.

Ok: let’s explore this.

Good Citizen
My subconscious’ definition of “good citizen”: someone who is under the radar, free from contempt and scrutiny. I found scrutiny to be soul crushing in my adolescence, particularly when I was continually under scrutiny for smoking weed and watching porn. These two activities were my escapes. I needed them to cope with a dysfunctional family environment.
My parents, both raised catholic, shamed me for not following the rules. Furthermore, they couldn’t figure out how to stop my behavior, which to them was totally aberrant. I understand their frustration: I was escaping and medicating from their toxic codependency, which they didn’t have the perspective to see. When grounding me didn’t work, instead of re-evaluating their approach, they simply grounded me for longer periods of time. Dammit! I wish they were more creative, or willing to go outside their box and be cool with me as a person, but neither was in a place to do that.
I remember getting caught one time, after many warnings to stop smoking pot, in which I was grounded for 5 weeks. This seems cruel to me. Instead of reaching out for help, my parents chose to perpetuate their frustration at not being able to control my behavior by enacting lengthy punishment. I guess they had a lot to deal with, but it made me feel pretty fvcking worthless; like I was an afterthought. I still feel echoes of the resultant anger to this day – it’s something that I’m working through and I feel like I’m coming towards the end of it, thank the maker. It was soul crushing. During that time I was not allowed to see any friends outside of school. I was forced to remain in physical proximity of a toxic family environment; I had to escape somehow, so porn and video games did the trick for me. I used porn to medicate my feelings of complete unworthiness, and video games to escape from the tangled web of emotions I felt. Some Saturdays I would spend 10 hours playing games. The upside of this is that I was able to really get into a video game whose music influenced me greatly in my compositional works (Timo).
I want to make a note here that my parents are not terrible people – they did some dumb stuff and made some poor parenting choices. this was around fifteen years ago, and they both have evolved and grown as individuals since. I do not condone their actions, but I understand where they were coming from. I’m not writing about these experiences to shame them or to get back at them. It’s not about them! It’s about using the benefit of experience to rise above difficult circumstances of my past in order to greater understand the man I am now, and give credence to the lessons that showed up initially as great pain, thereby dissolving them in effect. Furthermore, to help to validate those with similar experiences as a way of encouraging self-growth and reflection.
The greatest frustration that I experienced when I started trying to make sense of this time in my life was the feeling of being handicapped by their negligence, and having to play catch up to the rest of the world. It wasn’t fair. At first I would use coldness and sternness as a way of punishing them for their actions. I’m in a different frame now – they are my birth parents and we’ve shared many experiences, but my growth and life is my number one priority and responsibility. They reach out occasionally, but I’m often too busy creating the life of my dreams to interact on a more intimate level. Which is how it should be. I never want my parents to reach out to me for intimacy again. My covert contract with them was “If I’m a good son (citizen) and validate your problems and love you then maybe you wont hurt me emotionally or physically and actually validate and encourage me”. Nope. They weren’t capable of that kind of role, because no one did that for them! That’s why they were so needy and dependent on me. I’ve always had a big heart and as a loving child I wanted to make things better for them (a common behavior in children). What a responsible self-aware parent would have done would be to, in situations where I wanted to make things better for them, let the child know that what they were going through was ok and that parents experience difficulty sometimes and that they were dealing with it in a healthy and responsible way, instead of looking to a yet-unformed child to provide comfort or validation. I would have liked this kind of reassurance, but I never got it.


So “good citizen” is a mask – a paradigm – that I began to adopt after a while as a way of safe-guarding myself from further pain and cruelty. It is was paradigm in which I would create a covert contract. A covert contract is a way of behaving in which indirect actions and positioning are used as a way of getting needs met, instead of directly asking for what one needs. This can be conscious or unconscious behavior. The more I become aware of my self, my programming, and my conscious behavior, the more I can understand where these covert contracts exist in my life and dissolve them.

A Time-Consuming Lesson: AKA Avoid this trap!
The most time-consuming lessons that I’ve experienced have dealt with dating and intimate relationships. Several years back I became very close with a female friend and spent a ton of my free time with her – which was in short supply because I was in school and playing gigs during the week and on the weekends. My covert contract is essentially this: I spend time with you, validate you, take care of you, and you have to validate me, emotionally and sexually. It’s an indirect way of getting needs met, which often leads to disappointment.

We spent much time together, months and months, until I asked if I could kiss her. She turned me down. I was crushed! My thinking: What? I just invested so much time into you and you won’t even kiss me?

Well, why should she? Firstly, it’s a choice. She made a choice, and it’s totally fine. Secondly, we had been operating on the premise of close friends, and nothing more. Why should she feel obligated to do anything? My covert contract operating system said “I’ve spent all this time for you, you should now validate me”. I can see the insanity of the whole situation now, but at the time I could not and it was incredibly frustrating.

That was then, this is now
Recently I was able to go from trusting friends to cuddle buddies to making out to non-monogamous sex play partners with someone I was attracted to in…about 2 weeks. How did I do this?

It might seem counter-intuitive to someone whose life is riddled with covert contracts: I was direct!

After hanging out and establishing a friendship of trust and communication, I asked Q:”Can I put my arm around you”. A: Yes. (sexy voice:) Q:”Can I kiss you?” A: Yes.

This was after feeling out the vibe and internalizing her body language towards me. Still, it was a risk that I took. I could have been turned down, for any various reasons, but I wasn’t.
After we made out, we talked about what we like sexually, what we want to explore, what we want to try. We arranged a date to do it, and voila! It was a very fun and *ahem* stimulating experience!

I’m really proud of myself for going outside my previous programming and asking for what I want. And LAWD let me tell you that the things we talked about doing are as far off from 10 minutes of vanilla, lights off, missionary sex play as creating a covert contract is from getting the juicy sex that you want.

The Heart Perspective and Sex drive
How does this tie in with my souls mission – with my heart’s song? The song my heart sings is the most important thing in my life. This recent sexual partner is cool, fun, and interesting. I am aware here that there is a subtle cognitive dissonance because my previous programming states that in order to follow my heart I must weed out every experience that is not in direct resonance with my heart. I challenge this assumption! I would put forth, rather, that following my heart is always the most important aspect of my life. The more I do this, the more I my inner being will change. Sex is a valid aspect of my humanity, and I will validate it and acknowledge it as I explore my sexuality with fun and pleasure, but nowhere in my new frame is there a mutual exclusion of love and sex.

The disparate aspect of a shame-based paradigm is that sex is somehow separate from the heart. Sin vs. salvation. I think it can seem that way, but there must be a more unified way of looking at it. If the heart is your center, then any kind of sexual experience can arise if you’re open to it. For me, old guilt and shame can also arise if sex is placed as the center of my life at the expense of following my heart. But following my heart can also include juicy sexual experiences.

The more that this paradigm shapes my reality, the more poly-dating seems functional. Poly dating for me isn’t really the focus here – it’s simply a model or tool that helps facilitate the growth experiences that I really want out of life right now.

Simply, if I operate life from my heart – the core of my being, life becomes fluid, juicy, and infinitely blessed.

How often do we as a society separate heart centered living from juicy sexual experiences? It’s easy to do so because of the prevalence of “sin shaming” in much of western religion. Lol. That’s another topic for another time.

Bless, always.


P.S. Hey if you liked what I have to say, let me know in the comments below! I welcome feedback, please be respectful. Peace!

Shaming vs Encouragement in Music Ed

From 2006-2008 I attended the University of Tennessee Knoxville School of Music. I was disconnected with my intuition at the time, or maybe I didn’t trust myself, or maybe I never had the support of my family to make mistakes and find out who I really was. (It was all three)

I remember riding up to UTK with my dad and my best friend and his dad. My desire to fit in and be liked and be someone who these three men approved of was strong enough to drown out my intuitive knowledge that this was the wrong choice for me. I was going to audition to the school of music, to enroll in the jazz school.
I didn’t even like the majority of jazz music. I thought it was pretentious. Thelonious Monk was cool, but I didn’t need to go to a University to dig his music. You dig?
After 2 years in Knoxville I moved back to Memphis, TN. From 2007-2011 I attended the University of Memphis Rudi Scheidt School of music, under the tutelage of Jack Cooper, and Tim Goodwin.

Shaming in Music Ed

Tim Goodwin’s approach to music education was clouded by his shame-based paradigm (maybe it’s changed now – that’d be awesome). I remember one day in small group: I had been conscripted for a jazz gig at some university event and asked some of my fellow musicians in small group to help me. The gig was supposed to be 5pm, but for whatever reason I wrote down 7pm, and we missed it. Tim came barreling into the classroom, slammed the door hard, and called us motherfvckers. He preceded to yell at us and call us names for a couple minutes. He then demanded that I go up to the head of the music school and apologize.

I get it. I made a mistake. An apology seems perfectly reasonable. But the whole situation could have been handled better.

Throughout the next three years, Tim taught jazz in a way where he would suddenly stop the music and yell at the musicians, where he would shame us for making mistakes.

This had the subtle effect of making the mistakes seem bigger than they actually were. This creates musicians who look for mistakes. Since our perception shapes reality, this creates mistakes!

It’s like cooking a delicious omelette, finding a piece of the egg shell, and harping on the eggshell for 10 minutes while eating the omelette. If you harp on the audacity of the chef to include a piece of an eggshell in your omelette, you’re focusing on the small mistake and letting it overshadow the entire eating experience. Your whole breakfast focuses on the mistake. Furthermore, if you always look for the eggshells, you will attract more eggshells into your life!

Just so, in the shame-based approach, the whole practice can focus on mistakes.

The Healthy Alternative

After steering clear of musical groups for about 3 years, I recently helped create PXLS (“pixels”), a video game music coverband.

PXLS is a group that was organized about three weeks ago. I initially got together with Jeff – the bass player, a chip off Phish’s Mike Gordan’s goober groove, cut off the suburban stoner cloth; and Jon, a big twinkle-eyed drummer with a heart of gold. Both of them had trained with Tim Goodwin at the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music.

We met Jon’s place to practice, a beautiful family-owned music school with fully functioning PA system and monitors. When I walked in the door, excepting a brief 2-3 day recording session in which we recorded Ben Church’s most recent EP and played an inpromptu “Copper Possum” reunion show one sweaty night at bar DKDC, I hadn’t worked on music with a group in…wow three years? Yes it was three years.

So here I was coming into this situation feeling rusty, feeling self-conscious, but also feeling a little giddy with the kid in me waking up to the possibility of completing my open loop of untreated validation, a sore left open from my early years in a dysfunctional family.
I had suggested 2-3 songs that we all look at for the rehearsal, just to give us some direction. Because it was the first rehearsal, I stopped several times during each song in order to feel out the different sections, process what I was feeling in different parts of the tracks, and work towards helping articulate the most important sections and ideas. Whenever I would stop, Jeff and Jon would continually ask me where they’d fvcked up. Yes, at times they would fvck up. At times, I would fvck up too. Even so, it was so early in the musical relationship that I felt like if I said anything disciplinary or condescending it would kill the musical vibe that I was trying to create.

And, for the sake of elucidation, what was this vibe? I wanted to have fun, and create really cool music. Period.

Anything else – perfectionism, guilt, shame – it all has no place in my vision.

After about 3 times of stopping and Jeff and Jon asking me what they did wrong, I cut them off.
I straight up told them I do not give a fvck if you make a “mistake”. We are all learning. I am not going to punish you or shame you like Tim Goodwin did.

It’s likely that Tim was raised in a shame-based paradigm. Because if he wasn’t, operating a musical education service from a shame-based perspective seems to lack efficacy. I will prove this efficacy now.

The efficacy of positive musical education
If you shame people for making mistakes, here’s what happens: they resent you, they feel “less than”, and a barrier is created in their absorption of information. If, instead, you encourage people to work through their msitakes, encourage their spirit, celebrate their victories – even the subtle ones – and lead them to believe in themselves, you get what I got: healthy, self-aware, confident musicians, effective and expressive musicians.
The discipline aspect does not go away though! In lessons, or in a band setting you still need to make tough decisions and draw the line. But if you encourage the dreams of your musicians, they will trust you. They will follow you, and they will SHINE.

I got a band of dudes who enjoy what they are doing, who have fun, who are inspired, and who will follow my lead. In short, you create a great band!

The Big Picture of Musical Education

Encourage the spirit. Encourage your student’s spirit first. Their spirit will shine through whatever they do, but it MUST come first. Without spirit, you may create technical brilliance in your students, but it will be missing an essential link. You must inspire. This means taking a look at why you are teaching. WHY. Is it for the money? I don’t judge you – it’s a function of capitalism to monetize services. But the depth and power of your service is determined by how deeply you’ve connected with why you are doing it. Simon Sanek speaks about this why aspect in his videos. Thanks again Forwardcounseling.com!
How do you learn?

It has come up for me that maybe not everyone learns like this. Maybe not everyone is as empathic and deeply feeling as I am. Maybe some people have thick skin and can take shaming and turn it into something positive. But if you’re like me, and you’re deeply feeling and feel shaming very deeply, then do yourself a favor and take yourself out of destructive situations and relationships. Recovery is possible, but the sooner you start, the better. Learn to love who you are. Love your heart. It will guide you home!

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