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Category: Healing

Why I Chose Mysticism Over Religion

Why I Chose Mysticism over Religion

I’m sure you’ve had mystical experiences, whether it was through yoga, meditation, and fasting; or perhaps even through sex, drugs, or amazing music. You’ve at least accepted that these mystical experiences are valid – yet, perhaps, incredibly wondrous and maybe confusing part of the human experience. Maybe you’ve gained clarity about the experience, or maybe you’ve chalked it up to “just one of those things” and have moved on down the dusty road.

If you’ve never had a mystical experience, then this post won’t make much sense…this blog is mostly for people who are awakening spiritually or already self-identify as spiritually awakened, so there’s no worries here. By the way, I hate the term “spiritual”. It has such a hegemonic feel to it – like those who identify as spiritual are somehow better than those who do not. For the record: I believe everyone is spiritual because everyone and everything is of spirit. All religions point back to an origin or source from whence we emanated. Sure, the details are filtered through varying respective cultural lenses, but this origin is something most religions agree upon.

I chose mysticism over religion for a couple reasons. #1 is it fits my personality: I tend to thrive on my own, thinking for myself, as the sovereign ruler of my space. I love people! Don’t get me wrong. I just love the benefit of my own space more than sharing it unendingly. I’ve had to get to the point where i either plan something for 1-2 hours after a guest arrives, or flat out tell them (in the nicest way possible) that it’s time to go.  #2 is that i had a life-altering experience with religion in my early childhood, a story that merits some discourse:

My Religious Backstory

Growing up in an Orthodox Christian church and school (I was there 1-3 times per week from age 1-4, then 5-7 days a week for the next 6 years), I was inundated with certain beliefs about the world around me, passed down to me from the priests, parents, and teachers. This transfer of information was usually a one way street that lent little room for philosophical discourse or questioning. At age 7, when questioning whether or not my Catholic and Protestant friends could get into heaven, I was told that Orthodox Christianity was the “One True Religion”. I interpreted this to mean that Orthodox Christianity would not allow them into heaven. This sparked massive cognitive dissonance. I am very grateful that my questioning mind and the sovereignty of my mental space, accompanied by a quiet stubbornness, allowed me to formulate my own opinion based on both my emotional and logical beliefs. The main belief here was that any loving sovereign being could not possibly damn an innocent child to hell who had no choice in their religious affiliation.

When I left my parents stewardship at the age of 17, I began to explore different religions. Hinduism was interesting to me because I had recently found yoga, but I couldn’t get past the difference in cultural upbringing. I knew Christianity as I knew it wasn’t for me, and after some soul searching, neither was Hinduism. I was at U.T. Knoxville studying music, and I understood that is was not unusual for a musician – especially a jazz musician – to adopt another culture’s spiritual practices. Still, it felt strange adopting the religious aspects of Hinduism without it being culturally ingrained. I just knew that Orthodox Christianity was about as appealing to me as being force fed carrots and being told it was cookies.

I began practicing yoga for 1-3 hours per day, and got into a very interesting energetic space: I had mystical experiences where I was precient of events, and others where I could bless people with intense divine energy by directing my attention. It was not sustainable, however, because I was still a college student who played in bands, and I was partying too much and not getting enough sleep.

My mystical practices superseded my studies in a way that felt unbalanced. Also I was faced with an unexpected consequence of my yoga practice, this: the body stores energy and emotion, and when that energy and emotion is released through physical practice (yoga, in my case), it can bring this energy and emotion to the surface, sometimes violently. Unless dealt with carefully and gently, these emotions and energies can cause major disruptions in your day-to-day activities. Emotions and energies of unexpressed boundaries and unprecedented rage came to the surface unexpectedly in a way I was underprepared for. In Reiki this is often referred to as a “healing crisis”. About 10-15% of my Reiki clients experience this, so it’s to be expected. Rest, relaxation, water, and being gentle with oneself is the usual routine to navigate a healing crisis. I’m sure you can imagine how a college student would find this difficult!

The Pendulum Swings.

I believe that any extreme discipline is unsustainable unless tempered with a time of un-discipline. Over the last year I’ve learned the value of exercising the discipline to discipline discipline. (I can’t remember whose quote/term this is, but I love it! Google search came up blank, so If you know who first said this, let me know!).

Unless you have chosen the path of the saint, religious or spiritual discipline does you no good if you do not apply the lessons therein to everyday life. The practical. The Taoists call this grounding the “celestial” in the “mundane”. If you self-identify as a being of higher consciousness, your mission is to find out (or create) a way to ground this higher consciousness into the mundane plane of existence. Get over your spiritual bypassing as quickly as possible. I get it – I exercised spiritual bypassing for years because I could not deal with or handle the repercussions of my father’s immaturity or my mother’s covert emotional incest. Sometimes spiritual bypassing is necessary. Just notice if your spiritual practices are getting in the way of basic human kindness and compassion. Just notice, and balance it, please?

The Yogic Perspective.

In the traditional 7 Chakra system there are “Upper” chakras (Throat, Third Eye, Crown) and “Lower” Chakras (Solar Plexus, Sacral, Root). The Heart Chakra is the center. The trap is to value “Upper” Chakras over “Lower” Chakras. Initially, when experiencing the first spiritual awakening through yoga, temperance of the “Lower” chakras is beneficial to rise above and experience the unity and love of the upper chakras, yet do not lose focus of the idea that you are a whole being, worthy of loving all your chakras. In fact, some teachers would say that to truly balance the chakras is to make them disappear entirely.

The Christian Perspective.

If you were raised Christian, you may run into this trap of thinking: The challenge here is that many (not all) Christian sects – and the social constructs thereof – use fear, guilt, and shame to keep people docile and obedient. A.K.A. unquestioning. This has nothing to do with the message of Christ; it has more to do with the conquering rulers such as Emperor Constantine who used Christianity as a social control mechanism.

It’s one thing to have faith in a higher power. It’s one thing to surrender your will to someone whom you love and trust unconditionally. It’s another – very dangerous – thing to surrender your will to a political or dubious religious leader. I’ve always found this difficult due to the mind-numbing environment of that Orthodox Church in Allston, MA. I learned six years after my family relocated to Memphis, TN that the Metropolitan (patriarch) of the Orthodox Church that I grew up in was exposed as a pedophile. I was angry at my parents for blindly following a religion in which I found so many red flags (even in my young age), and expecting me to blindly follow them in kind. Sometimes in life one’s own will to make choices and decisions that go against the grain can be the one thing that keeps you from blindly following someone off of a cliff. I’ve never been a lemming, and the toxic culture of that church and my childhood home is why I learned to think for myself.

True Christians follow the teachings of Jesus, not of any one religious leader. If you’re Christian and questioning things #1 Great, I’ve done my job #2 I kindly invite you to ask yourself this: does your pastor teach the gospel of fear, or the gospel of love? Answer this question. Let them show you. If they spread fear, they are manipulating the congregation and undeserving of your faith and trust. Move on.

Delving Into Mysticism

Planned Mystical Experiences
Yes, one can plan their mystical experiences. By giving a mystical experience the proper time, we can honor it and maintain a degree of sacredness often reserved for such experiences. Don’t rush. If you can maintain a level of calmness then you can really divulge yourself into the non-ordinary reality of such an experience. The minute you rush what can happen is the adrenal glands will be activated, flooding the body with the energy of self-preservation. Mystical experiences often require the temporary suspension of self-preservation mechanisms in order to “rise above” the experience of separateness. Also, remember to give yourself time to “towel off” and integrate whatever experience you are blessed with. This is all with regards to a planned or self-generated mystical experience.


Unplanned Mystical Experiences
What if it’s unplanned? Then you are on your own my friend! Life has interesting ways of giving us what we need, even if it’s what we think we don’t want. Having a vision in the middle of the grocery store? Cool 🙂 The worst thing that can happen is that some people might think you look crazy.

If looking crazy is the worst thing that can happen, then all-in-all I’d say you have nothing to fear.

Just as no religion has a monopoly on spirit, so too does no spiritual path has a competitive advantage over the other. Mahatma Ghandi is often quoted to say that there are as many religions are there are people on this planet, which holds true if we honor everyone’s right to practice their own way of being. We are blessed in the United States of America to be given the right to practice whatever religion we choose, freely. In this capacity I exercise my sovereign right to practice experiential mysticism for no other reason than it is what i prefer, what I feel is right for me, and what I choose.

 






 

 

Holding The Paradox

*NEW Audio Version available now:

Holding the Paradox.

I can help you solve all your problems. The answer is simple; deceptively simple. It speaks volumes not only about the nature of life (and dealing with problems) but it also speaks intimate volumes about who we are and what consciousness actually is.

Are you ready? I’m glad that you’re reading this on your computer or phone, because if we were sitting together in person, over a cup of coffee (of course), you may reach out, slap me, and spill the coffee. And while I don’t, particularly, enjoy being slapped, that was some really, really good coffee.

The answer is you must learn to hold the paradox. It means accepting creative and cognitive dissonance. It means learning to be ok with not being ok. It means learning to identify friction; and learning to understand that this is all a natural part of the creative unfoldment of life.

Cognitive or Creative Dissonance is a state of growth, in which the one experiencing the cognitive dissonance often feels uncomfortable. So, if you are reading this article hoping to find comfort, I invite you to consider perhaps another definition of comfort: it’s not a comfort like a tuning out the world and being taken care of kind of comfort…that’s not really my message. My message is that the comfort at the end of cognitive dissonance is one of empowered growth. It’s the confidence that can arise from taking the necessary steps to work through your pain, suffering, or problems instead of running away from them.
Relax. It comes one step at a time – one day at a time.
This doesn’t mean wallow in painful experiences, just work through it. If you’re stuck in the mud, sometimes it’s really hard to get going. I know. I get it. I’ve struggled with crippling depression, anxiety, and could be considered high-functioning autistic due to my empathy and the codependant environment I experienced in my early childhood . It took me a lot of pain to finally take steps to get help, and to learn to first walk, then run myself. But if I hadn’t taken action, then I may have sunk.
So what kept me from sinking? I got upset. I got angry. And these emotions are motivating! Have you ever read the story of the 2 frogs that fell into the jar of buttermilk? One looked up at the opening of the jar, out of reach, and said “We’ll never jump up there! We might as well give up now.” That frog rolled over and drowned. The other frog, noticing that if she didn’t kick then she would drown, started kicking. She kicked and kicked and kicked until that buttermilk around her churned into butter. Resting a bit, she was overwhelmed with joy that her ferocious will to live turned into her way out of her buttermilk jar. She hopped out.

This fire is what is necessary to get out of the buttermilk jar. Keep taking action, keep moving, and your life will respond positively.

Cognitive Dissonance is feeling the cosmic pull between a version of you in the past, and who you are now. It also means feeling the cosmic pull between who you are now and who you are becoming. If you’re a growth-oriented human being, like me!, you must get used to this experience. In fact, I’ve learned to love this maddening in-between world.

Learning To Be Ok with Not Being Ok

It’s strange. There is a certain toxic rigidity in today’s positivity culture that is dangerous. Yes, there is something to be said about getting your mind right and thinking and saying positive things. But this also means that you need to take care of yourself by choosing a healthy outlet in which you can say whatever it is you need to say in order to express your emotions. Believe me; by delaying this natural emotional expression you are giving these emotions MORE weight than they need. They don’t just go away. They need an out.

Learning to be ok with not being ok is comes down to one word: Acceptance. The Paradox here is that Acceptance is the first step to change. If you want to change something, first you have to accept it for what it is. That means letting go of denial, or trying to paint over your problems. Realize that life has ups and downs. If you put on the brakes when you’re going downhill emotionally, you miss out on the momentum you’d receive from that experience that will end up propelling you forward.

It’s all part of the natural creative unfoldment of life

Life must have paradox in order to exist. Think about this: The fact that we are spiritual, limitless beings, experiencing limitation, is a profound paradox. Perhaps the most logical choice of a limitless being is to experience limitation. What else would an infinite being have to do with unlimited time?
How to detect paradox
As a fun excercise, keep an eye out for paradox: contradictions, contrast, juxtaposition. If you attune your mind to look for these things, you will begin to notice more and more in your world. Things that don’t seem like they go together, nevertheless going together. It’s a way that you can challenge your mind and stretch it. It is beneficial to stretch the mind like stretching a muscle, so that we can remain calm and pliable when the paradox approaches.
Phyliss Furumoto, Current Grandmaster of Usui Reiki, spoke about this experience. I had the rare privilege of training with her in San Francisco in May 2016. It was a beautiful workshop, the weather was sunny with a chill Pacific breeze. The workshop was mostly women, and I learned a lot about myself and how I fit into the world of Reiki. One of the things that stood out to me was that she focused on what she referred to as “creative dissonance”. The Reiki Grandmaster went on to speak specifically about using this in-between experience as a teacher for our own spiritual development. I was particularly impressed with the power with which she spoke about the very metaphysical subject of Reiki

Holding the paradox is the act of embracing the state of creative dissonance. Maybe it’s this grit, this grind (yes, I’m from Memphis), that is the grist for the mill of growth.

The paradox of being and becoming
Simply being a human being IS a paradox! We are spiritual beings – we are souls – AND we are also bodies. It’s not “i am my body” or “I am a soul, not a body” it’s BOTH. In Plato’s “Timeaus”, the speaker talks about being and becoming – a recommended read (warning: it gets OUT THERE).

Toaism and Paradox
The Toaist text the I Ching outlines that there are only really two energies – Yin, and Yang. However, life is often more complicated than this. You can have Yin within Yin. You can have Yang within Yin. You can also have Yin within Yang, and Yang within Yang. Make sense?

Without going into too much complicated detail (I’ll leave that to you if you feel like diving in on your own time), the ancient chinese described 62 archetypal states of consciousness that exist between the two absolute polarities Yin and Yang. These are the 64 states of being outlined by 64 hexagrams (symbols)

Contained in between total Yin and total Yang – are 62 shades of grey. These are the wonders, hopes, dreams, fears, and failures of human experience.

The Toaist seeks to understand that every human experience outlined by the symbolism of the 64 hexagrams is another way of observing the paradox. If we observe the unfoldment of the universal flow, we have a choice. We can look at it with disdain, perturbed and judgemental; we can look at it neutrally, objective and aloof, or we can look at it with love, smiling and grateful.

To hold the paradox is to understand that, while a problem may seem overwhelming, you can work towards a better tomorrow without leaving the problem or checking out completely. And remember: it’s healthy to be able to experience your emotions as you work through a problem.

Throughout this journey of understanding the value of holding the paradox, remember to go easy on yourself. Life should, and often is, easy. It is in trying to do too much, be too much, or control too much that we can trip ourselves up. Remember that paradox is a part of life, and the more we can accept this, the more we can align ourselves with it, and the more we can understand about ourselves and conscoiusness itself.

Until Next Time,

Much Love,

Tim

Pluto In Scorpio: A Generational Aspect

Pluto in Scorpio

First of all, I’m not a fatalist. I do not believe that just because my Aars is in Aries I am doomed to be impulsive or express my anger like a flash in a pan – there, and then gone. I do not believe that having jupiter in Libra means that I am fated to expand through justice and balanced relationships. I do not believe that having my Venus in Cancer means that I’m fated to be an emotional lover. Yes, I am these things.

But look at the the keywords here: “fated” and “doomed”.

To what extent does free will play into all of this?

My free will tells me that I can create any experience and fulfill any desire that’s true and in my heart, and that I am never “fated” to one path or another.

I picture it like a side-scrolling video game, picture old school Super Mario Bros. for instance. There are a couple levels in which the screen scrolls at a certain speed – this is the passage of time; the pace of life. No matter how much free will we exert, it is impossible to change this motion of time. It is a universal constant, much like the screen scroll on some Super Mario Bros levels. If you try to fight it and go the other direction, you just get pushed along anyways and end up in hot lava.

Once we accept the constant pacing of life – and it does have its own rhythm – we can more fully enjoy the time and experience that we have here. One of my favorite questions we can ask ourselves in Astrology is: “How can I best understand myself and others with this tool?”

Now, let’s get to the crux of this blogular discourse:

Pluto in Scorpio – Just because my Pluto is in Scorpio doesn’t mean that I am fated to experience – and heal – loss, abandonment, and betrayal. But I have, and I do.

My experience validates the points postulated by an objective interpretation of my natal birth chart. This, however, does NOT mean that every astrological interpretation is true. I must, by my nature, question things and ascertain the truth for myself.

But this Pluto in Scorpio stuff – it can be really harsh.

My experience of loss, betrayal, and abandonment went like this: My parents started having problems with each other very early on in their marriage, but their religion – Orthodox Christianity – would not allow them to divorce. I’m sure they felt trapped, bound, and miserable! I came along four years into their marriage. My Father’s own abandonment issues were being triggered and my mother’s issues of self-worth and lovability played off each other in very unhealthy ways. So often, I, as the middle child – a peacemaker – would act as a go between for their arguments, sometimes unwittingly. I lost much of my childhood because I had to spend much of my time caretaking my parents’ own unresolved issues. I was abandoned emotionally because neither parent could offer me the real nourishment  I needed from a place their own emotional wholeness  – neither of their love tanks were full enough to give me the experience of unconditional love. I experienced betrayal because my mother would turn to me for masculine energy, even though i was still a boy. This occurred in such away where I was unable to process it in my boyhood mind in a meaningful way, but i think my subconscious assumption was that my father was jealous of the attention that my mother gave me. Ugh! 

So, if this post is going too deep for you – that’s the Pluto in Scorpio nature – we go deep! It’s because we are healing deep – Pluto-related issues, personally and generationally!

A Generational Aspect

Anyone born 1983-1995 has this aspect in their chart. It’s a generational aspect, given the long journey that pluto takes through the sky in the across the constellation of Scorpio (from our point of view). What this means is that we as a generation have the opportunity to experience loss, abandonment, and betrayal, and to HEAL it. It’s no small task, to be sure. It can take a lifetime, maybe more (if you believe in that sort of thing). But we have to at least try. If you feel “doomed” or “fated” to experience this type of loss, then you must ask yourself if you are participating in victim thinking. Someone who experiences loss, betrayal, and abandonment can very easily become a victim to these experiences, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can build your power, your self-confidence, and your willingness to deal with the emotional and personal consequences of this burden.

Of course, it’s a burden. Burdens are difficult, often heavy experiences. But burdens make us STRONG. When we shoulder something for so long, our muscles adapt and we can handle similar loads more easily.

If you are a Pluto in Scorpio baby (like me) and you need a place to start the healing process,

Begin here:

– Awareness. We often put much time, effort, and money into medicating away the pain that we experienced as children. SImply getting to the point of acknowledging that loss, abandonment, and/or betrayal happens is the first step.

– Acceptance. Learning to be ok with not being ok – and furthermore, finding people that are okay with you not being ok. The “good vibes only” culture?  They have positive intentions but are missing the point: we are human beings and need to experience the whole spectrum of life – good, bad, and ugly. This does not mean that you shouldn’t carefully choose you words and thoughts. It just means that we as spiritual seekers can get spiritually or emotionally constipated if we have an erroneous belief that “negative” emotions and experiences such as fear, or loss, or betrayal should not “be there”. If it’s there, and it needs to come out (You’ll know), then let it out either by yourself or around safe people that won’t judge you for being human and having emotions.

– Resolve. Make a resolution to heal these aspects of yourself. It’s not going to be easy, but it will totally be worth it. You are a child of god – or the universe – or the big weenie in the sky, and so to do you deserve to be happy and whole. Our hurts can give us tremendous power when we exercise our ability to heal and our resolve to make a commitment to healing. Make a commitment to do whatever it takes to heal these aspects of ourselves so we can teach others how to do so as well. Heal yourself, heal the planet.

Astrology exists. and OF COURSE it’s a pseudo science. Science is a proven method of understanding our known universe – why would we change it? But astrology can provide a very poignant mirror for self reflection into the aspects of life that are more emotional – more subjective – and sometimes, more meaningful.

UNtil next time,
Tim(e)(o)

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!

© Tim Stanek 2016. All Rights Reserved.

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