timstanek.com

Create. Heal. Inspire.

Category: Happiness

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 Rules of The Game Blogpost

The rules of the game
This life is a game. We can laugh and play, and there may or may not be a point, depending on how you play. We are all from divinity, a whole, conscious entity of some sort. In this phase of the evolution of divinity, divinity has deemed it integral to place pieces of itself within each one of us. This is true creative potential, and we may use it however we choose.

It is up to us, however, to also figure out what the rules are! So what are the rules?
Depending on what your world view is, you may have different answers. The ten commandments, the laws of the Torah, different spiritual principles, etc. But since you’re reading my blog post, you’re probably already an open minded person (or you haven’t found my left field stuff yet – keep looking 😉 ) and relate more to the “spiritual but not religious” approach.

I know I do.
But spirituality isn’t a goal that is achieved – it is consciousness, in this moment, right now, and this consciousness is spirituality itself. There are many traditions of spiritual practices that are performed as a way of life, and many people confuse spirituality with spiritual practices. Both are valid, but this distinction must be recognized.

Spirituality is a state of being, of connection, of oneness. Union.
Spiritual practices are culturally and sociologically influenced practices surrounding spirituality, the most effective among them creating space for awareness of spirituality to occur.
Are you awakened to your true spiritual nature?
Many people go through their lives without questioning anything. Are they wrong? It’s not up to me to say. Sometimes I envy such a person because it seems like, from the outside, that their life is easier than mine. But I have to question; I question everything. Why? Because from an early age, my experience of reality was different from the one that my environmentally imposed religious practices suggested.

For example: I had a lucid dream at the age of 4, and I knew that it was different from a regular dream. This dream was terribly frightening to me, and that fear brought me to what some might call the astral plane: I had an out of body experience (OBE). My parents could not or did not want to explain this to me. My environmentally imposed religion suggested that such things happened, but only in stories; so my reality changed. I had this experience that was quite mystical to me – even at a very young age – and I had these messages coming in about life that seemed in congruent with my experience of reality.

I began to question! I questioned my parents; whom, in my innocence, I revered like gods. I asked them my existential questions of the nature of the universe and was met with confusing responses, often insinuating that I shouldn’t question things in the first place. This created instances of imposing their beliefs onto me, or, in the worst cases, breaking my will. I am grateful now that I was a stubborn and while, yes, my will was broken many times, I’ve still retained the value of the experiencing the truth of my own experience.
You may have had a similar experience – you have a mystical awakening somehow, whether through dreams, creativity, yoga, with a lover, at a music festival, etc, and you need to tell someone. While those around you may support you and encourage you, if the haven’t had a similar experience to what you are describing, they can’t validate it for you. So, you need to seek out those who have, indeed, had similar experiences.
Awakening to your true spiritual nature.
Spiritual awakenings are commonplace these days, yet that doesn’t negate the amazing power they posses to impact and drastically change ones life.
So, now that you are awaken(ed/ing) to your true spiritual nature, what do you do? “Now that you’ve found out who you are, what do you want to be?” *
This isn’t up to me to answer, but I can give some suggestions for what to do after you’ve had a spiritual awakening, most of this based on my own life experience.

Heal – If you’re like me, it’s likely that, due to circumstances beyond your control, you have been placed in trying situations from which is seems difficult to escape. My family life was like that – so many cords of codependency pulling at me (in total fairness, I was co dependently pulling at them as well – that’s how it works!). It was such a journey to save up enough to move out of that environment. Once I did, I realized that I needed to heal many untouched patterns of behavior that were doing me more harm than good. I made space in my life to heal. So make space in your life for you to heal! Do yoga, meditate, clean up your diet, exercise more, build your support network, and educate yourself on how to change behavioral patterns. Its fascinating stuff! If you’re having a tough time, hire a coach to help you out. I’m considering creating a course or mentorship program in which I can help people do just that. (let me know in the comments if you are interested).
Regroup – After you’ve gone through the bulk of your healing, it’s time to regroup. It’s a funny way of describing it, but regrouping is like reevaluating. Healing will put you in contact with your heart, and your heart can often tell you where you need to go, if you know how to listen. Your heart has a wisdom of its own. For me, it was writing an inspiring work of fiction that’s enjoyable, fun, funny, that also includes lessons in lucid dreaming and spiritual growth and development. The re-grouping phase is a time to set new intentions based on what you learned in your healing.

Refresh – experience the joy and beauty of being an entirely new person based on your growth and development!

Teach – now it’s time to level up – you need to teach what you know, or chronicle it, or journal it somehow. I truly believe that spiritual lessons are made more valuable once we teach them. This could be a mystical process, or a marketing process. In my case, I’m looking for a way to combine both so that I can reach more people with my message.

Combined approach
These lessons can come one after another, sequentially, or it can be a grab-bag. I think that how I prefer to ingest them has a bit to do with the order in which they arrive, yet it seems that often they’ll surprise me. There’s no telling what the future holds, but I know and trust that that I put into it is what I will get out of it.

I will invest in myself and in growing my soul for the divine benefit of all humanity. That’s my tip for today.

Love, Tim

P.S. Comment! Let me know what you think, how you are doing, and what you ate for breakfast. I had a smoothie 🙂
* quote a song by a group that ushered in a new age of spiritual practices to the world back in the 60s, The Beatles.

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,

Tim

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

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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