timstanek.com

Create. Heal. Inspire.

Category: Finances

On the Road with GTBB…How’d I Get Here?

Hey! Yoooooooo what just happened….what is happening in my life?

In the month of May alone, I’ve signed hundreds of autographs, washed myself in both the waters of Lake Huron Canada and the Gulf of Mexico, and now we’re driving from Silver City New Mexico through the night to Las Vegas to hit a soundcheck at noon tomorrow. How did I get here?

It’s been a blur since I decided to come on board with The Ghost Town Blues Band, but it’s the best kind of blur – a busy, creative, hustle-now kind of blur. A traveling band – a mythical group of heyoka riding into your town to shake your blues away – it seems like a thing out of a dream. But this is exactly what we do! I get to shake people out of their tired routine by providing my best musical performance with a group of cool musicians.

Again, how did I get here?

To make a long story short, it’s come down to three things for me:

1) Be Patient

I ran into Matt Isbell, the lead singer and guitar player of Ghost Town Blues Band when I was at the post office, of all places. We had played together maybe once or twice before (A common experience in Memphis TN, as most everybody plays with everybody), but it had been a while since that day. He was shipping something for his Cigar Box Guitar business, and I was trying to arrange a PO box so I can get my Retirement Home gigs checks mailed to a business address. This was my third visit to the post office that day, and I was just hearing (from the same people) that I needed yet another sheet of paper. I’m usually very patient, but at this point I was absolutely appalled by their egregious incompetence (if it wasn’t downright dissidence for common decency!)

I was at the point where any normal human being would have been totally justified in yelling at these post office workers, I decided it wasn’t worth it and said something curteus, and stepped away.

I played with them after a while – I liked the group and they liked me too.

But it was only later that I found out that my display of patience at the post office was a top reason why I was called upon to play keys with this group. (Another reason is that my criminal record is spotless and Canada requires spotless records for entry, and for some reason it’s rare to find a keys player in Memphis whose record is as such. Ha – what does that say about keys players, i wonder?)

2) Taking an inventory of all my opportunities

My homie Jack Simon swears by magic boards. What are magic boards? It’s showerboard from Homedepot, cut or uncut. Add 2 or 3 dry erase markers, and a rich imagination. Viola!

I use magic boards to keep track of my ideas, and one night when I was feeling overwhelmed (by the pressure i often put on myself), I wrote out all of my opportunities.

This is recommended – often times we can take for granted the opportunities that life presents us. It is up to us, though, to tune out perception to see the opportunities available to us. Ask yourself:

How can i contribute? How can i better serve with my gifts? What service can i perform that brings me the most happiness?

and lastly… What opportunities are available to me right now?

I’ve learned that sometimes life doesn’t let you wait…sometimes life rewards the go-getters and the red-veined adventurers who live for risk and glory.

I wish I was this type of person. i really wish i was! But I’m not. I’m cautious, and I approach inter-personal relationships very gingerly.

But sometimes life will wait for you to decide what you want and who you are, and equip you with the confidence to take advantage of your best opportunities.

And how will you know what your opportunities are if you don’t write them down? Just do it – once you have 5 you’ll probably remember even more.

I wrote down 5 or 6 income opportunities on my magic board that cold day in April. I was working 10-14 hour days at the Juice Bar and on my own hustles…I wouldn’t change it for the world, but it was hard. I was hoping to start a Facebook Ads agency – I was so hooked on the implicit promises of wealth from expert internet marketers that Matt Isbell’s invitation to jam was the last thing on my mind. But i still wrote it out.

Over the next several days I would look up at these opportunities casually, thinking little of them.

But I was over at Jack’s again, and Preston (of Ghost Town Blues Band) called Jack to chat about something. I asked to speak with Preston, and the rest is history: we secured a time when i could sit it in on a gig in Memphis. Interestingly enough, this was the same place where i played a gig with them about 7 years ago!

3) Consistent playing and practice

Musicians! Just do it. I know I’m a terrible example…I’m super (perhaps overly) consistent for some time periods, while others I have to check out and NOT play and practice consistently. I’ve been in bands for more than half of my life, and it’s always been this way. Be consistent, but be flexible. The bottom lines are this: You have to practice and play to get better, and you need to balance that consistent playing and practice with period of rest. Why? Because this isn’t a goddamn cog-in-the-machine, mindless, worker-bee occupation. You are a human being that the music and the audience benefits when you take time to be and grow your soul. This isn’t a “hustle now and relax later” kind of job. This is life. Playing music is the kind of thing that retired millionaires spend all their time trying to learn, only to (sometimes) learn that it’s not as easy as it looks.  You have to be good, so practice!

My consistent playing and practice has made me a good musician. Maybe not great, but good. How to get to the next level? Woah, i’m not getting ahead of myself here…My good friend who is a martial artist and dances and performs with the Memphis Ballet Ensemble says this: Learn the form. Master the form. Forget the form.

Right now with The Ghost Town Blues Band I am learning the form. It’s humbling, but I know that it’ll be worth it.

Opportunities. The more you learn to look for them, the more you’ll receive. Or perhaps the very act of looking for them is what creates them! Either way, you won’t know unless you do it. Make a list of your opportunities, and be grateful. This is clutch! Do it, my friends – you won’t regret it.

Until next time,

Tim

P.S. I’m on the tourbus on the way to Las Vegas right now. Haha – cool.

The Self Employment Blogpost

(I found this post that I wrote before I took a job working at a juice bar. There are various reasons why I did this, most notably to find my “main hustle”, which requires a great deal of soul searching. The juice bar job gave me the space and security to feel safe exploring. But I thought these words were interesting, and have a different perspective now, so here it is!

warmly, Tim)

I am writing this post after a year of successful self-employment. It will consist of 1) why I did it 2) how I did it and 3) what I recommend based on my experience

Why I did it
I was born into poverty! In Boston, MA, my mother was a school teacher and my father held pickup jobs at bookstores, and worked as a janitor. My father told me at a very young age (and quite mournfully) that at some point I would have to submit to someone’s authority. I’m not sure what happened in his life to generate this world view, but the energy with which he said it was so hopeless that I almost immediately began to lose trust in him. (Authority and trust are two concepts that I will weave into this post, as they both play a very important part in my decision making process.) Looking back on the way that my father chose to raise me, he actually did me a huge favor. Because he chose to exercise unquestionable authority, and because I was naturally a curious child, I learned that “authority”, as represented in my mind by my Dad, didn’t have all the answers! Throughout my entire childhood and early adulthood, I had trust issues because of it. But these trust issues caused me to question. I questioned authority, silently at first, around 7 years old. Then when I was 16 and could drive, I rebelled outright against my father’s control issues by getting a girlfriend (it was implied that I was to be there for my parent’s emotional support when they got divorced.) If this sounds strange, that’s because it is! I grew up in a dysfunctional family.

In a dysfunctional family, the dynamics are such that much of the time the parents had unmet needs when they were children. Instead of dealing with it (many don’t), often times what happens is they look to their children to fulfill that need. It’s really not ok; it is abusive and detrimental in many ways to growing a healthy adult. In my childhood there was much physical abuse, covert contracts, and boundary violations. I don’t need to get into specifics, but I’m sharing this because I know I’m not the only one who experienced this! Since I’ve had much time to reflect and heal, let’s get back to the positives.

The takeaway from all this is that I learned that blindly following authority was insufficient. It didn’t work to get me needs met, and I didn’t want to end up like my Dad. I just wanted to party, have sex, and play music in bands. And into my early 20’s, I did that! It was a great way to distract myself from the emotional resonance of years of living in a dysfunctional family. Also, It was fucking fun 😛

Here’s the meat of the story: When I was 25, because of financial reasons, I moved back in with my Dad. I felt so defeated at the time: I had just broken up with a very close girlfriend, I was broke financially, and internally. To top it all off, my dad had not out-grown his authoritarian control and expressly forbade me from having women over (first at night, then when I broke that rule, AT ALL). Yeah, I was 25, remember?!

I enjoy the company of women. But basically he was forbidding me from being and adult in the way I wanted to be, which I could not tolerate. So what did I do? I got a job. First at the movie theater, but that was only part time and I didn’t enjoy ripping tickets and policing and being disrespected by movie-goers. So I quit around Christmas 2013. Then, I got unknowingly involved with a pyramid scheme of sorts with an insurance company. I studied my ass off and passed the state insurance exam in about 3 weeks time. Then I started my business of insuring families – life insurance. The only thing was, I didn’t know how to generate good leads! It felt very incongruent to put out a vibe of success and being able to handle something as important as a death in the family when I was still unhappy and living in my dads house. To top it all off, I didn’t make much money, and my trainer kept stealing my business. I didn’t have the gall or confidence or self-respect to stand up for myself and tell him to stop. So I failed at that.

Next I put myself in the position to get a customer service job. I auditioned for a temp agency that worked for a very large corporation (Disney). The customer service warehouse was located about 10 minutes from my Dad’s house, so it was convenient. I worked for Disney for about 5 months. It was tough work emotionally, as anyone in the customer service industry knows. Especially as an empath, I absorbed much of the toxic energy through the phone. It felt like I couldn’t take it anymore, and there was no where to turn.

I actually may have shot myself in the foot with this one. I’ll explain why. I was probably one of the best representatives they had! In evaluations, after about 2 months I was in the top 5. They quickly promoted me to floor manager (I was the guy that customers talked to when they said “Can I speak with your suprvisor?”. That was incredibly emotionally taxing, because I didn’t feel like I got any support from my superiors. I was just a barrier to them. I hated it! So, I looked for other opportunities, and a friend hooked me up with a delivery job in midtown memphis. I was already planning on leaving when the talent agency offered me a position in the coveted “loss prevention” department. I would get 4 extra dollars an hour, and it would be behind the scenes work instead of front-line stuff. As an introvert, i probably could have thrived in that position. But, I already had my sights on the delivery job where I could be in my car and listen to my music and dress however I wanted. This decision was probably an unconscoius relfection of my learned distaste for authority and also my trust issues at the time. I didn’t trust the authority to take care of my needs. I have learned since that standing up for oneself is the first step to getting ones needs met, but i lacked the personal confidence and dignity that I have now. Plus, they offered me the Loss Prevention job with the caveat that they needed me for the busy season (Halloween-Christmas) and that I would have the chance to sign on with Disney (not the temp agency) if I did a good job. Of course I would have done a good job – i was obsessed with over-performing because I did not feel like I was ever inherently good enough (good for them, not for Tim!).

So I quit. I just stopped going in. My delivery job picked up, and I moved in August 2014 to my own apartment, paying my own rent, working weekends, but feeling much better about not living under my fathers roof.

BUT this is a story about self employment, right? Well, moving out of my dad’s and supporting myself was an important step in this journey. I worked that delivery job for a year, and saved up about $5,000. It’s not alot, but it was $5,000 more than I had a year before! I started hating the job though – my boss was disrespectful (and authoritarian like my Dad!)

How I did it

I have a friend who had been self-employed for some time and when we’d get together we would talk about wealth, time-freedom, and the benefits of self-employement and owning a business. He helped me to create ideas about how to support myself and make my own money. I had always been a musician, but I stopped playing because I didn’t like being underpaid to play in smoky bars and get little sleep. But, i had at times an occasional solo jazz gig at a retirement community. Jack helped me craft a plan to talk with activities directors at retirement communities and book enough gigs to support myself. Also, too, he had an open room in his house that I moved into, which was a load off because It was stupid cheap rent. Really, I was paying less than $200 a month for rent!

I remember that first month – I had a goal to reach $1,000 in gigs, and I surpassed it! It felt so amazing to do so. I was on top of the world! In memphis, you can find renting situations that are very cheap because property values are low. This was a huge help too.

What I reccomend based on my experience

As a self-employed person, I have become increasingly aware of the value of my time. When you’re employed, you generate a specific amount no matter how dead or inspired you feel. When self-employed, if you can anticipate the times you will feel inspired, you can time that with your value creation process. I’m getting a little ahead, so lets break it down to some practical advice on making the transition from employed to self employed.

1) Have a safety net. I worked to save up $5,000. This helped to cover my expenses and give me peace of mind. That way if I had a bad month, I could survive long enough to hit the next month extra hard. I can’t stress how important this was for me to relax and jump into the change.

2) Learn how to make money. This seems like a given, but going from employed to self-employed forces you to change your way of viewing things. As an employee, your earning potential is capped. When you are self-employed, your earning potential is dependent on the amount of value you can create for others. Ask yourself: What is the single most value producing thing you can do? For me, at the time, it was playing an hour piano performance at retirement communities. I was already good at it because I had studied piano in college, and I had one reoccuring quarterly gig at a prestigous retirement communiy in Memphis. I knew that many retirement communities in Memphis had a budget for entertainment already, so it was up to me to tap into that. I learned to sell myself by focusing on rapport building (my insurance training came in handy here!). I would walk into a community, speak with the activities dircetor, build rapport, and causally ask If I could see their piano, under the guise that I would check it out to make sure it was in tune. This had the subtle effect of creating even more value for them on the front end, which helps them to be open to reciprocating. If you go into a sales situation thinking only of what you can get out of it, your focus is off. Focus instead on how you can create value for the other person. In this case I was creating value by checking the tuning on their piano for free. Then, I would wow them with some flashy trills. More value on the front end. Notice that I didn’t have a recording to give them through all of this. I do recommend a recording, but don’t let them take the recording if you don’t have a change to build value on the front end. Physically driving up there and speaking face-to-face helped me to generate much better rapport than a phone-call or email.

Another thing I learned is that you have to treat customers like any other relationship. After the intitial sale, it’s bad form to imeadiatly rush into asking for reoccuring (monthly) business. That would be like going out on a first date and expect to be in a relationship automatically. You need to take time to let things blossom naturally. Stay in communication, but do so politely, from the perspective of adding value and making their life easier.
For exmaple, showing up to a gig with an invoice makes the activities director’s life easier! Do it.
I have several reoccuring monthly gigs at these communities now, but only after I allowed a significant amount of time to pass. It takes time to build trust, so do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it. At first I was frustrated with the amount of time it took to build this trust because I was afraid of not having enough money, but now I can see that it actually gave me time to learn which communiteis I liked working with and which I didn’t. So it was a selection process for me too.

I’ve been supporting myself on these gigs for a year now! I also have learned to supplement my income in other ways. For example, I also teach Reiki at a local yoga studio and give sessions to people who want it. This is another example of how I’m adding value with my time.

Moving forward, Focus on multipliers
As I move forward, I am focusing on multipliers. A year of self-employment has given me the insight that as long as I am creating value (that people will pay for!), I am successful and can pay my bills. I believe that once you figure money out, your life because very easy. If money is an issue, the engine of life remains un-oiled. Money lubricates the flow of life. This is my reality, and I am creating it.

About 7 months into my self-employement, I had lox and lattes with a good friend of mine, another self-employed man. He owns a contruction and investment firm. I explained to him that I anticipated getting burnt out creatively on my nursing home gigs around August. I had an idea to sell my contracts to different retirement communities, but now I want to get into a different business. Ultimatly, I learned that retirement communities money moves about a month slow. In other words, I create value (play the gig), and get paid about a month later. I hated this! I want my money to move fast, so I can spend or invest it faster. I believe that the speed of money and money multipliers are the keys to wealth, and wealth is important to me.
So now I’m at the place in my life where it seems like the only thing left to do is work on cultivating new income streams. I’ll update you as I go. Keep in mind that I’m not quitting the gigs cold-turkey; I’m still playing them and respecting these relationships. They pay my bills. I do have time freedom to write blog posts, create more value, build more relationships, and learn about what other ways I can help people and make money.

This is not the endof the journey, but it is the end of the blogpost! I hope that my journey can serve as some inspiration to you for the future, and maybe get you thinking about the different ways that you can take control of your life and your financial future. Don’t spend money you don’t have, but do focus on creating more value for others in mutually win-win situations. Play with a bunch of ideas, see what you like, see what people will pay for, and when you find an idea that does both, run with it! Get support of friends who have been there before (like i did with mine). Surround yourself with people that are where you want to be a learn from them. Listen more. Let them express their wealth vibration. The more you listen, the better you will pick up on subtle things that they do or embody that you can emulate. Learn, Learn, Learn, and stay positive. Your Neo-Cortex will help you decide what the next right move is. If you get stuck, ask yourself “What is my next right move?” For me, It’s working on creating a Reiki course for massage practitioners in need of CEUS! We’ll see how that goes. I’m excitied about it because of it’s multiplier capabilities (aka scalability).
Ok that’s it for me. See you next time!
UPDATE: For various reasons, about three months after i wrote this post, I decided to get a job at a juice bar. Why? Did I fail? No, of course not! My businesses and side hustle are still going on, but I am changing.

i don’t want to just work on side hustles as self employment income – what’s my MAIN hustle? Is it the juice bar? at the moment, yes, in that I am doing 25-30 hours a week there, but c’mon – that’s just part time anyways!

My main hustle has been writing Igby, a sci-fi/fantasy novel. What will this look like in the future? I don’t know! But I plan to add value to other’s lives by creating an enjoyable book.
I feel that this is a topic for another post, but until next time, keep on!

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.

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.

Resistance
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:

MUSIC
– 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.

IGBY

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.

© Tim Stanek 2016. All Rights Reserved.

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