OK, so here is the first entry of what will hopefully evolve to become a series of entries all loosely based around music, philosophy, life, love, and the pursuit of happiness, all peppered with my own personal perspective and experience.
Where to start?
First off, Happy New Year! I’m excited to be looking forward to 2014. 2013 was great for me, in spite of, or maybe because of, some bumps in the road. John Lennon said it best: “Everybody had a hard year… Everybody had a good year.” Let’s take a brief look at my last year.
Hallmarks of 2013:
- First half of year: Joined and played with the Zach Longoria Band (Longoria’s an up-and-coming artist in Louisville – check him out).
- June, moved to Nashville.
- Some time in between: Recorded and released an EP with a short-lived trio, Forum.
- December: Moved back to Louisville.
Not an amazingly eventful year. Of course, there’s stuff I’m leaving out because I don’t see that it should necessarily be shared on this blog. (If you’re curious, you can always ask me to fill in the gaps.) But yeah, that’s basically it for last year.
NOW, 2014. The reason I’m excited about this new year is because… well, because of the lessons I learned from last year. Not gonna lie, last year had some tough ones, and so did the year before it, for that matter. But knowing what I know now, it seems hard to believe that I wouldn’t take those lessons and run with them into this year and the rest of my life. The decision to be more vigilant with this blog, for example, is fueled by an urgent sense of responsibility for my life, brought on by lessons I’ve learned from mistakes I’ve made in the past couple of years. And so I have some plans, and I have some ideas. Some of them involve resourcefulness, and all of them involve creativity.
But it seems premature to go on about 2014 without first exploring 2013 a little more. One of the biggest realizations I’ve come to in the past few months had to do with money, a big hurdle of mine and one that’s kind of taboo to talk about. BUT, in the spirit of this new direction, I feel compelled to talk about it! Here we go…
Money has always been a tough one for me. I’ve called it a “Fuck” before, and still do on occasion. Why? Because so many of us feel blocked by it – or by the lack of it. We say, “Oh, I’d love to do this one thing, but I can’t yet because I need to save up some money first.” Or worse, “Until I get money, I can’t even start on the thing I really want to do.” Whether it be starting a business, pursuing an art, or planning a major shift in life, the perceived lack of money can be a paralyzing obstacle.
I know it is for me, although I’m learning how to deal with it better. For years I thought, “I simply can’t record an album until I have enough money saved up to go into a good studio and pay ten musicians, and then have it professionally mixed and mastered and then pressed, packaged, and distributed.” In fact, this kind of thought process was one of the reasons my debut album fell by the wayside. Not having the funds, and thinking I couldn’t do it without them, the project lost its luster and didn’t make it past the first studio tracks. There’s also the possibility that I was doing it because of the thought that I should, but that’s a whole other blog post. And of course that’s not to say that I’m not tremendously thankful for the whole experience of recording original music in a studio such as Shangri La – such an experience can never be wasted. (By the way, I do plan to return to the path of recording/releasing my debut in the near future.)
The scarcity mentality regarding money has also infected other areas of my life, such as my emotional and physiological health, past carelessness with budgets and other financial records, and musical projects outside of the album.
What are some resources that have helped me begin to get over this hurdle? Well, for one, The Good Life Project, a podcast hosted by Jonathan Fields. I can’t stress enough how important this podcast has been and continues to be for my personal development. If you are at any stage as a creative professional, I highly, strongly urge you to give this podcast a listen IMMEDIATELY. I mean at once. Stop reading this blog, and go http://www.goodlifeproject.com, and click on ANY of them. They’re all recorded weekly in hi-def audio and video – interviews with very high-level people who are making a living doing what they love. The one that got me – I listened to it for the third time today – was Kate Northrup’s (author of the book Money: A Love Story) interview, “What If Money Didn’t Rule Your Life?” I got something new out of each listen and will continue to listen to it over and over.
What are some key concepts of this interview?
- Telling the truth about our financial situations, much like any other personal issue, to ourselves and others, is the first step toward financial freedom.
- For Kate, her money problems were a direct result of her not valuing herself.
- Money is our invention – it’s nothing more than a system for assigning value.
Pretty inspiring stuff, right? But please don’t stop here – go and listen to the interview.
SO, as usual, when listening to this podcast with Ms. Northrup, I began to apply these concepts to my own life. Where am I not telling the truth about my financial situation? This involves sitting down and figuring out the numbers: how much debt am I in, APR rates, etc. – all the “nitty-gritty” stuff. Also keep better track of my spending/making. Where do I not value myself? Kate suggests each night writing out three ways I am grateful for or value myself, and three ways I contributed to the world. May sound cheesy, but if she recommends it, I’m going to try it. To think about how money really is nothing more than our system for assigning value – and some green paper – may put a whole new twist on the way we perceive how we spend and make money. For example, if we feel we have services to offer, why wouldn’t we charge for them? And if we don’t, or we’re not making enough to live comfortably, where are we not valuing ourselves to be able to offer the kinds of services that would make this possible? Food for thought.
I certainly don’t have this all figured out yet, any more than most people I run into on a day-to-day basis who seem to share this angst that’s linked to money. I mean, we can’t dispute that money is a big point of a lot of insecurity and, well, fear, in much of our country (not to mention the world beyond). I’m not offering solutions, I am just bringing up some stuff I’ve been going through around this topic, and what’s helping me, and offering all of that up to you. If it helps or inspires you in some small way, I’ve done what I’ve set out to do.
So to wrap up, money can be a bulky road block in life. One of the biggest. Some, like myself at one time not too long ago, might even say the biggest. Actually, I still believe that a lot of the suffering we experience in life, and paralysis, results from a fundamental feeling of not having enough money. The lack of money can even be a very real reason for a lot of action that we may not take. But what I’m starting to realize – and hopefully this will be a topic that I expound upon and come back to in blogs to follow – is that money doesn’t have to be a determining force in whether or not we act. In my case, I’ve never been rich, and always thought that I would one day hit that big record label deal and sell enough records to have all the money I’d ever want and need. Maybe that will still happen, and maybe it won’t, but for now, the best course of action for me is to be resourceful and move forward anyway. I hope some of you can identify in a different way – we’ve all since we were small children been told stories around the concept of money that may control on a deep, subconscious level how we think and feel about money and our actual situation surrounding money. What we sometimes fail to realize is how powerful that story is when it comes to our relationship with money. Growing up in an upper-middle class financial household, as many of my peers, I’ve always had a sort of underlying sense that money was scarce. It’s usually there when you need it, but only just enough. That extra bit, the bit that you would need to start a business, or record an album or something, that’s hardly ever there. But I’d even like to take a step backward and see if maybe there’s something even deeper going on here, something even deeper than the money. What if I were to take money out of the equation entirely? What if I were to start with this other thing called “value”? Well, I’d have to figure out what I value.
Once I figure out what I value, then I might be able to move forward anyway. Like Kate was saying, she didn’t clear her credit card debt until she 1) told the truth about it and 2) valued herself. So in the end, a perceived need for money is really based in a lack of knowledge of what is really possible without it. If we actually had that knowledge, maybe we wouldn’t think we need any amount of money to start that business, publish that book, or record that album. And then money might cease to be a problem.
This is all speculation, of course, until something is done. But having read what I’ve read and heard what I’ve heard, through such resources as the Good Life Project as well as low-budget indie musician friends, it seems that the new way – the entrepreneurial way – is one not based in money, but one based in resourcefulness. It seems that this new digital age is both a blessing and a curse, but a blessing in the sense that anyone with an Internet connection can be a presence for the world, where you not so long ago needed thousands of dollars worth of advertising to have the same effect. And even then, it seems that many of the best artists were revealed to the world through the love of what they were doing, and unbridled passion that could not be contained. So it may be all the same. Whatever the case, resourcefulness is directly linked to creativity, and creativity to artistry, and an artist is what I am, is I am sure it is what you are if you are reading this. So let’s no longer have money be an excuse! Instead of asking, “How can I have more money to do what I want to do?” Let’s instead ask, “How can I be more creatively resourceful to do what I need to do?” or better yet, “How can I do what I need to do?”
Hope you’ve enjoyed reading this as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. This blog is as much for me as it is for you, so please keep checking back, and I promise I will keep spinnin’ ’em out, and, of course, act on my words!
Any comments or suggestions that you may have to make my blog or my online presence better would be much appreciated.
It’s 10:40 a.m. Time for bed.
Thank you so, so much for reading.