day-at-the-grind

Hustle, Son

It feels great to finally air out all my personal baggage and be moving past it. But now there’s a huge canvas to start working on – my life.  I’ve recently gotten on top of the single dad scenario, moved through awkwardly-wonderful dating adventures, survived kidney failure, (early stages of) cancer and a brutal ACL/medial meniscus reconstruction, fought off lawsuits from crazy, litigious freaks, and rekindled my atrophying musical career. What comes next? I guess it’s time to hustle, son.

Fortunately the hustle is something I’ve always done pretty well (when not spinning wheels in severe trauma or healing mode, natch). I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to structure my life and move forward without losing sight of all the lessons I’ve learned.  If your life is in chaos and you want to move through it – I’ve got some thoughts to consider.  Having spent years on the road both as a touring musician and press mouthpiece, as well as in offices as a product manager and content strategist, my perspective is sharpened to work with lives of all varieties.  Read forth and soak up the insight gained from years of skinned knees and bumped foreheads, good people.

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throwing out the bandages

Throwing Out The Bandages

When you’ve suffered a cornucopia of mental, emotional and physical trauma over a sustained period of time, it can be tricky to know when you’re healed. You get so comfortable with your bandages, procedures, and therapies – both figurative and literal – that they become part of you in unintended ways. Life starts to become viewed as a series of trials to overcome, and after a while you begin looking for them in places they don’t exist. And when this happens, it becomes really hard to accept being in a fully-healed state as a real scenario.

That’s not to say I haven’t had plenty of high points in the last few years, as some of the highest peaks have accompanied my lowest valleys.  It’s just to face the fact that I’ve forgotten what it’s like to feel complete, and not in a perpetual state of healing.

But I think I’m good now. Not perfect, but damn good.

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tiptoeing into 2018 carefully

Tiptoeing into 2018

It’s now 5 days into January 2018. That seems a short time in words, but it can feel like a very long time under the right circumstances. Oh, the things I’ve done with just 5 days – conceive and pitch a new product, write half of an album’s worth of material, record a few albums worth of material, span 5 continents – but this hasn’t been one of those 5 days.  It’s been a quiet, introspective 5 days.  I’ve primarily been cleaning up fire and holiday messes and loose ends this week, and trying to establish a new daily rhythm after almost a month of schedule chaos and geographic disarray.  But in the monotonous overload of everyday this last 5 days, I’ve learned some things that have helped me look back on the last few years with less jaded, better focused eyes.  I’m not going to deal in New Years resolutions or big sweeping judgements of my past this year, just share a few things I’ve discovered as I’ve tiptoed into 2018. Grab a coffee and pull up a chair.

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The Thomas Fires in Ventura - sky view on Tuesday

The Thomas Fires

We’d had spotty electricity all day due to an automobile accident up the street taking out a power line, so when the lights started flickering back on and off Monday evening my son and I figured maintenance was still in progress. The sound of helicopters in the distance were a bit non-standard, but we still tucked in and went to sleep anyway – not knowing that the Thomas fires now ravaging the area were the new reason for the outages. It wasn’t until the sun peeked up and shone a blood-red glow into my bedroom that I realized things had gone seriously sideways while we slumbered.

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Giving thanks for my blessings.

Counting your blessings

When life is challenging, it’s important to keep yourself balanced.  Look at everything that’s going well, and not focus on your struggles so much- as once you’ve counted up your blessings, they’ll far outweigh your burdens.  And this Thanksgiving morning I’m truly grateful for everything that’s come my way over the last three or four years – both the good and the bad.

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chill-on-seine

Getting Perspective

I’ve felt solid with myself lately after a few heavy years of change, but a bit stagnant in my new skin. My content management work at LinkedIn has been busy recently, just as I’ve also been focusing most of my free evenings recording an upcoming album project.  It’s been quite a blur this last 6 months of fumbling forward into my newfound full-time single dad life.

The first week of July – vacation time – was always blocked out in my calendar for a vacation, but all things considered I went a little bigger this year and booked a 2-week sojourn for my son and I across Italy and France starting on the 4th of July.  Kaboom.

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static and chaos, aka foam

Empathy, and Empaths

For most of my life, I could never explain these waves of foreign feelings that would consume me out of nowhere. “You’re just overly sensitive,” people would say. Intuitive. Insightful. Sharp. But I knew something deeper was going on, and unfortunately for decades I’ve hid it, instead letting myself believe that I was just a little introverted, a little twitchy, a little off. Empathy is a strange topic for those of us who have abnormal levels of the sense. I’m only just now beginning to realize the depths to which it can (and has) affected me through my lifetime- both for the good and the not-so-much.

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humility

Humility

“Finish him,” the voice inside me said. The hulking late-teenager facing me may have been a brown belt to my white, but I had an extensive-yet-rusty set of kung-fu skills from my late teens/early twenties and wasn’t going to let him get the best of me.

I’d already won the fight. Young and brash, he’d pushed the offensive and showcased all his flashiest moves to intimidate me.  Being older and wiser, I let him run himself into a sweaty, panting mess of carefully-masked frustration. Yet in the split second of opportunity as I saw his chest and throat open up, I abandoned my wisdom and the safe win. Instead, I opted for the show-stopping, Mortal Kombat-style finishing move to teach him a lesson. And I ended up teaching myself my biggest lesson in humility to date.

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Jesse climbing

Remembering Jesse

Today would have been my nephew Jesse’s birthday.  We lost him due to still-undetermined medical reasons in his sleep, late last year.  The unexplained cause of his death makes it all the more unsettling, unresolved.  I’ve had to process a lot of loss over the last few years but Jesse’s death may have been the final straw, bringing me lower than I’ve been in decades.  I write to heal, and this is no exception. However, I’m writing this a few days earlier and scheduling it, as my hopes are to be somewhere along the coast with Devin at sunset to wish Jesse a happy birthday by the ocean he loved so much.

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Equinox

I woke up suddenly around 3:30am this morning.  It wasn’t just a minor stirring amidst the sheets, a quick mid-sleep water break or dazed round-trip to the bathroom.  My eyes came fully open and my head was clear, although my thoughts were anything but.  I’d gone to bed early after my Sunday rehearsal and a quick dinner. However, despite pleasant company throughout I felt unsettled and withdrawn the whole evening, and not in a particularly social mood.  Some words I’d spoken still hung in my ears:

“I feel like a stone in the eye of a tornado.  Like I’m barely holding onto balance while everything around me goes crazy. And I mean batshit crazy.”

At that moment, I hadn’t made any connections between that phrase to any other particular event or circumstance. There’s been an awful lot on my mind over the last couple years, and I know at times things have seemed a little scattered. It’s been sometimes hard to put a finger on exactly which brush fires are causing me the most heat, generally speaking. But when I looked at the calendar again things started to come more into focus.

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the road ahead

The Road Ahead

2017 hasn’t come fully into focus yet, but already feels like a breath of fresh air. I haven’t really gotten back into the swing of my daily routine(s) yet, but I already feel like the baggage of 2016 has finally slipped free. The road ahead is foggy but highlights are starting to poke through the haze, drawing me forward with curiosity and intent.

I decided to not kid myself this year with the usual New Year’s resolutions. Instead I’m just sticking to the basics, with the goal of leaving this year stronger than I began it. And by doing so, hopefully find the road ahead to more productive paths for personal and professional growth.

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2016 Was Quite the Turbulent Year

In retrospect 2016 feels like such a mess- oh, what a glorious disaster this year has been. Not without it’s blindingly bright moments in time, mind you, but an utter disaster year nonetheless. As I looked back, sprinkled throughout this year were serious moments where I nearly said ‘okay, fuck this all’. A true WTF year, 2016 was shockingly beautiful in it’s tragic optimism yet absolutely crushing in it’s toll on my emotional and physical well-being and the general state of the world around us.

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Expectations can really suck.

I’ve been living a bit of an experiment with expectations the last few months during my healing process, and it’s become so telling that’s it’s far less of an experiment now and really just a Very Good Thing to be mindful of in general. My experiment really gets down to managing expectations, and/or the lack thereof.

Given tonight’s Supermoon is the biggest in years, ushering in a phase of rebirth and cleansing, I’m gonna focus on what I’ve recently learned about expectations and hopefully get an energetic leg-up this evening.  Let me explain.

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time to turn that page

Turn the page.

To say the last two years have been strange would be an understatement. Beautiful, tragic, confusing, powerful, humbling, life-changing – all of these words apply equally well, and collectively. Any sense of normalcy took a hard turn in the opposite direction last year.

In some ways, that was all expected. A little over two years ago I very nearly died. In practical terms, I was actually dead for a hot moment. I was out of critical care and back home recovering within a few weeks, but the devastating ripple effects of this experience couldn’t be predicted or prepared for.  And as a result, I didn’t realize what was happening until it was far too late.

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Seriously wrecked

partially OK

It’s been a long time since I’ve had my ass handed to me. Last month I got the comeuppance I’ve been due for quite some time, and it’s been incredibly humbling. I love to mountain bike, and in particular jump and hop said mountain bike around, between, and over obstacles both large and small. The feeling of flight and weightlessness is something I’ve chased since my skydiving days, and frankly, only get to experience when leaping a bike these days. Having been a rider for most of my life, this type of risk is really nothing new or unexpected for me. I’ve been doing it for so long I take my skills for granted, as the feeling of flight, speed and weightlessness are as close as I can come to feeling superhuman.

However, on October 12th of this year I took what was to be a simple, innocuous ride up and back on the coast- which ended in utter disaster. Approaching one of the many ravines I traverse on this trail, I really didn’t feel differently- no sense of foreboding, hesitation or even concern- I’d jumped off this particular ledge so many times that it’s almost become reflexive. A quick bunny hop off the top and I was floating over the edge, slowly rotating my center of gravity to match the angle of the transition 18′ below me. But as time compressed and weightlessness engulfed me, I knew in my gut something was wrong. The bottom of the hill had been churned up from the normal hard-pack and was instead loamy and soft. The angle I took over the edge had me going a few degrees left of my usual line, and despite a last-ditch effort to push my rear wheel out and down to adjust and shift landing weight off my front wheel, it still dug into the soft dirt and washed out just as I flipped my heels to pop the clips and get free of the bike, and everything went wrong. Horribly wrong.

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