About You – How May I Help?
Yes, this is an About Me page, but indulge me for a moment in talking about you. If you are reading this right now, I believe that I know something about you. Not because I am especially insightful, but because I believe I have been at the point in my life which you are at right now in yours. And it wasn’t all that long ago for me.
So this isn’t about me for my sake. It’s about sharing with you how you and I are alike, and how I am able to help you get to where you want to be in your life. Because your curiosity, your open-mindedness, and your feelings about your current life situation have led you at least to investigate a potential avenue for providing what you are seeking in your life. And what you are seeking is in massive demand, but far too scarce in supply in our modern world. The good news, however, is that I can help you get it, and I am honored to be of service to you!
Therefore, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU for taking the time to follow your instincts, and for allowing me to be the one to help you get what you desire.
Something Is Missing
So, what it is it that I believe you are seeking?
For me life alignment occurs when our deepest desires, the ones beneath the ego, the ones that are the reason we have come here in the first place, work in conjunction with our thoughts, feelings, and actions to create results in the world of form that FULFILL US TO THE VERY CORE OF OUR BEING.
If this is not an accurate assessment of why you’ve come to my site, then I thank you for your time, and I wish you the best. If, however, I am correct in my assumption, if this resonates with you in the slightest, please read on.
Some Things I’ve Learned Along The Way
Finding my calling, and living life as a creative entity have been part of a long, slow process. But it has been well worth the journey.
By creative entity, I mean that at the most fundamental level possible, I am the intentional designer and creator of my life experience. And as much as possible, that experience is in alignment with a deep internal calling that compels me to connect with and manifest my unique gifts.
In truth, we all are here to discover, nurture, and manifest our unique gifts in the world. These are gifts both bestowed upon us, and for us to share with others. Many of us are realizing (and I am one of us) that to manifest these gifts, we must shift our modes of living.
The Old Road Is Rapidly Aging
Even if we are doing it with some degree of external success, when we live in a reactive mode, solely taking what life hands us, never CHOOSING CONSCIOUSLY for ourselves the experiences that we want, we can’t fully manifest our deepest purpose. If we don’t create consciously, we can’t serve a greater purpose. And if we can’t do that, then we cannot derive the fulfillment that we yearn to experience.
This is not to say that we should ignore or deny in any way what is present in our life experience if it is not what we have chosen consciously. We have to experience what we do not want in order to know what we do want. Whatever we are experiencing is what needs to be here right now. It is here to teach us. And we can’t learn from it, which is the only way to move past it, until we accept and address it. But when we do accept and learn from the challenges present in our lives, we can pluck from them the gems of wisdom they contain, and use this wisdom to shape our lives as we see fit. We can become the designers and creators of our life.
Therefore, to live our deepest purpose, that which we have come here to share with the world, we must begin consciously and intentionally creating the conditions, circumstances, and situations that result in life looking and feeling the way we know it is meant to at the core of our being.
What You And I Share
In all likelihood, the details of how life will look when we are the creators of our own experience are different for you than they are for me. But there will be similarities.
You and I may not use it in precisely the same way, but we both want time freedom and financial abundance.
We may not say or do the same things as one another, but we both want to express ourselves in whatever way we feel deeply compelled.
We may not find it in the same places, but we both want to experience fulfillment.
We may not share family or friends, but we both want meaningful connections with loved ones.
We may not toil in the same fields, but we both want to feel a sense of purpose in our life’s work.
And we may not choose the same causes, but we both want to experience a deep sense of purpose by living in service to something far greater than ourselves.
In essence, our lives are our works of art. This is what I mean by living as a creative being. In this way, when we live in the most conscious manner possible, everyone is involved in creative work.
My specific field of endeavor, however, also happens to be a so-called creative one. Here is a bit of my story.
After some false starts with private instruction on the piano, my love of music was ignited, and nearly extinguished, with the alto saxophone and elementary school band. I loved my fourth grade experience, mainly because my band director was such a warm and inspiring teacher. Unfortunately, he and his family moved prior to my fifth grade year. Halfway through that year, discouraged by a cold, uninspiring replacement teacher, I quit the band and the instrument.
Years later, as I reflected upon my choices in response to an undesirable teacher, I realized that I would choose differently from my current vantage point. This experience has shaped the way I teach and advise my students as well as informing my parenting choices. I did not possess my current perspective at that moment though.
As a result of my lukewarm experience during my second year of band, I didn’t pick up another instrument until the age of nineteen. About one month before leaving home for my first year at Syracuse University, I began studying bass guitar. Although not my main instrument now, I still consider the bass my first love (musically speaking).
One month prior to the conclusion of my sophomore year at Syracuse, I took a medical leave of absence from school in the midst of my first deep depressive episode. Upon recovering, I discovered among other things, that I wanted to study music. Having studied sporadically for only a year and a half, naturally I had some significant catching up to do.
After further studies on the bass guitar and a brief stint on the double bass (acoustic upright), I realized that the interest I had developed in the drums, which initially I had assumed would be a secondary instrument that I would learn a bit about to aid my bass playing, actually held a stronger calling for me than the bass. So I changed course and sought out a percussion teacher.
After six months of study with a solid teacher, I met my first mentor. I studied with him for three years before experiencing one of the more painful and defining moments of my life when I auditioned for the prestigious Jazz Studies program at Rutgers University’s distinguished Mason Gross School of the Arts in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Read more on that here.
After two years at Rutgers, I used the frustration and failure I had ensured through my defensiveness and half-assed effort as a justification for leaving school; this time to pursue a “promising” original music project. It was so promising that I laid waste to my life in order for this “promise” to fulfill itself. Somewhat willfully ignorant of the warning signs that this was not a legitimate avenue, I departed school, eventually New Jersey, and then later reality.
My loved ones might argue the sequence of those departures, making a strong case that reality was the first one I abandoned. That’s probably more accurate.
My return to reality occurred on a beach in San Francisco as a friend and I, for the first time in several months of chaotic escapades from New Jersey to St. Louis to Columbia, Missouri to Kansas City to Denver back to Columbia, Missouri to Boulder to San Francisco finally compared notes on our experiences. In doing so we were forced to admit that the person whose lead we had followed clear across the country in pursuit of musical fortune and fame was a two-bit con artist.
Broke and homeless but for a custom van, we made our way back to Columbia, Missouri and finally New Jersey where I proceeded to rebuild my relationships and my life.
Finally On Track
I returned from my journey to nowhere in the spring of 2002. By the spring of the following year, having paid off debts resulting from my travels, and having rebuilt my relationship with my girlfriend (now wife), I moved to western Massachusetts to live with her as she completed her Masters degree at Smith College. In January of 2004 I began studying at Westfield State College (now University).
After thirteen years, three colleges and one junior college, in December of 2005 I finally completed my Bachelors degree. I walked in the graduation ceremonies held in May of 2006. In the time between my move to Massachusetts and completion of my bachelors degree, my girlfriend and I had gotten engaged. We were married in June of 2006.
Although my pursuit of musical fortune and fame was built upon a foundation of delusion, I learned many valuable lessons from the experience. You can read about those here.
Master Of One
At this point I had momentum, support, and a bunch of student loans, so why wouldn’t I keep this thing going? After a lengthy application and audition process at nine graduate jazz programs, I decided upon the University of Tennessee, hoping there would be some assistantship money and a tuition waiver. There was a jazz assistantship, just not for me. So the student loans continued to mount.
Living in Knoxville, Tennessee is an experience I am glad to have had. I’m also glad that we don’t live there anymore. However, in the two years we were there we made some dear friends, saw a different part of the country, experienced a slightly different culture, and learned a lot about ourselves. Oh yeah, and I grew as a musician and an academic, completing my Masters degree in Studio Music and Jazz while studying with some of the finest musicians and educators in the world.
Masters in hand, I applied, auditioned, and was accepted into the doctoral program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In July of 2008, we made our way to Illinois. Immediately upon arrival, we knew we had found a special place, one that would be filled with opportunities, experiences, and growth.
There Is A Doctor In The House, And It’s A Full House
I began my doctoral work at Illinois in August of 2008 and completed the Doctor of Musical Arts degree (DMA) in Jazz Studies in May of 2012. In that time my wife and I welcomed our first daughter to the world. We lived in Urbana an additional two years after I completed my degree, departing in June of 2014.
The decision to leave was motivated by a number of factors, primary among them the fact that in January of 2014 we welcomed our second daughter to the world. We knew that we wanted our girls to be closer to their grandfolks, and we were eager to have some family support with the whole parenting thing.
So in June of 2014, with my wife, her sister, and our four year old and six month old daughters in one car, my father-in-law in another car, and me driving a 17 foot moving van with a car trailer in tow, our convoy made the journey back to Massachusetts.
Our belongings and a vehicle were not the only things we hauled back to New England. In the process of receiving three degrees, I managed to accumulate roughly $200,000.00 in student debt. No worries. Advanced degrees in music are extremely lucrative. No worries.
NO. WORRY. At %6.5 interest, that’s a sum that will multiply pretty rapidly, even with my massive income from private teaching, directing a middle school jazz band, and working thirty hours per week at a natural foods co-op.
The prospects for paying down the student debt I’d accumulated were not much greater in Massachusetts. College teaching jobs are scarce and don’t pay well to boot. I realized, however, that I didn’t even want a college teaching job.
This Was Not Where I Imagined I’d Be
It’s bad enough to have a spouse with whom you spend less time than you’d like while working in an unfulfilling job that pays less than you need to do the things you’d like to be doing. There is still time to spend with one another. At least there was in the case of my wife and myself. Yet however scarce our time began to feel, it became exponentially more precious now that we had two young children.
There always will be experiences in parenthood that defy the blissful visions we may have entertained in our pre-parenting lives. The tough part for me was finding out that those challenging moments came to occupy the majority of my time with my daughters.
Most interactions felt like attempts to get them to do what needed to happen in a relatively limited time frame. And that left me feeling disillusioned and guilty that I rarely got to spend time with them the way they or I wanted. Sadly, this is a scenario which many parents get to know all too well.
What little time we have is devoted to our job(s), which we may or may not like and may or may not pay us well, but in any case demand so much time of us that there is little left for anything else in our life.
The remainder of that small sliver of time is spent taking care of non-job-related day to day tasks such as shopping, cooking, running errands, planning or taking care of home repairs, etc.
Yet a smaller portion of that time is reserved for our children, when we and they are exhausted and wind up arguing or locked in some emotional wrestling match. So we end up feeling like we haven’t had the chance to connect with these people for whom we want nothing more than to give them the attention and love we know they deserve.
Finally, whatever time and energy remains must be divvied up between taking care of our bodies and connecting with our partners.
So while teaching, gigging for little to no money, and working part-time at a small market, I began exploring other avenues of income. Some were scams. Some were legitimate, but too random and unstructured for me to know whether or not I was actually making progress in building a large, residual salary. Still others were decent, somewhat well structured, and more systematic in the development of income.
However, after developing a sense for why I failed to translate these opportunities into serious income, or why the opportunities themselves were flawed, when I encountered what I want to show you, I knew almost immediately that it was unlike anything I’d seen.
And so here we are…
If you’ve read to this point, you are probably interested in knowing more about the opportunity to which I have referred. If so please continue here or click on the “Start Here” page from the site menu.
For more of my perspectives on life, you can look at my blog page on this site.