What’s next?

So this is really more like a personal diary entry which I guess used to be the purpose for blogs? They seem to have evolved into something much more than that but I feel I need to just speak my mind without a big catchy title or theme for this one.

This past year of 2018 I found myself working on a lot of new projects. I created an online songwriting course and a number of promotional teaching tools around that. I did a weekly songwriting tips series on YouTube for almost 2 months which was a ton of fun.

As soon as that series ended I took a short trip to Orlando to stay with family. During that trip, I was thinking a lot about 'what's next.' The question was intended as a what's next in all areas of life but, as is the case for me most of the time, the question tended towards work. So I was brainstorming about what I wanted to do next with my songwriting teaching material and came up with a whole new YouTube series that I was really excited about for a couple of weeks.

I returned to Iowa with new plans, wrote a long script for a new YouTube video and then... things changed.

Not all at once, they must have changed quietly in the background when I wasn't looking, but I suddenly found myself no longer interested in what I'd been working on for the past year. I know that could still shift and I could dive into creating songwriting content once again but right now that's definitely not the case.

I had a small revelation a couple of weeks ago which was "what if I just be for a while?" I've found some freedom in NOT asking myself every day "what's next?" "what are you doing with your life?" "where are you going?" Or more bluntly "Dude you're nearly 30, shouldn't you be further along?" I was in the habit of asking those questions so often and coming up with no concrete answers. I have a tendency to think of the future a lot of the time and sometimes that's helpful, but more often than not it can become quite restrictive and burdensome.

So for right now, my plan is to have no plan. I'm having fun performing, tightening up the last few tracks for the new album and generally just taking things as they come. I'm looking forward to spending some time with family over Christmas and welcoming the new year with open arms.

If any of this sounds like you (overthinking, generally judgmental thoughts about your place in the world) then I invite you to join me on this path of no path. Just for a little while. It's amazing how freeing it feels. We can be those weirdos that AREN'T posting the #hustle #workharder posts.

I wish you all a magnificent Holiday season - talk soon.


Posted on November 26, 2018 .

Why do we write?

Over my time spent as a songwriter, I’ve thought a lot about how other people write. Do they wait until they’re inspired? Or do they treat it like a 9 to 5 job, hammering out song after song hoping for a gem along the way? I’ve also thought about what they write. Pop songs, ballads, two-parters, songs with bridges, songs with five verses (ahem - James Taylor). I’ve even spent some time thinking about where and when others write. Home studio? Out in nature? On the subway ride? 3 am in the morning? In the evenings after a long day at work? But one thing I’ve never really considered is why do people write songs? I know for me it’s a variety of different reasons but let’s analyze a few motivating factors to find out why people write.

Posted on July 23, 2018 and filed under Songwriting.

How to respond instead of react

Have you ever heard the saying that goes something like “You can’t control what happens to you, only your reaction to it?” I love the way Victor Frankl puts it:

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. 

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.

Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” - Victor Frankl

I’ve thought about this concept a lot, especially when it comes to relationships and I wanted to share some of the things I’ve realized along the way. We all have relationships that challenge us. Often they’re in our family, sometimes they’re in the workplace or sometimes they’re your partner. Either way, they’re relationships that we are in some way forced to resolve our differences in, which is fortunate as that helps us grow and mature. In hindsight, I’m most thankful for the challenging relationships I’ve had as they’ve held the biggest lessons.

I used to be triggered so easily by certain people in my life. Some small thing that was said could send me into a fit of frustration. It’s interesting to note how that no longer happens. It was a gradual change that happened over a few years and was the result of the inner work I was doing on a whole, not anything directly related to the people I was interacting with. I was starting to take responsibility for my responses to everything in life. My responses to situations and people but also my responses to my habitual thought patterns and my emotions.

There were some key pieces that helped me go from having knee-jerk responses to being able to more consciously choose my responses to others.

#1: Realize that oftentimes it’s not about you

Only someone who is hurting or frustrated or feeling threatened feels the need to lash out or blame. When you make the conscious connection that they must be feeling pretty crappy inside and that you’re just witnessing the tip of the iceberg you can have compassion for their pain. Just knowing this in the moment takes it out of the space of “I must have done something wrong” to “This person is hurting and I’m just witnessing the effects of that.”

#2: Don’t fuel the fire

Recently I saw a short video clip that spoke about responding to contempt with warm-heartedness. It’s interesting to see what happens when you don’t respond to negativity with more negativity. It’s like pulling the gas away from the fire. I think every argument stems from two people who both need to be right. What happens when you no longer need to prove someone else wrong? There’s no foundation for an argument. They say “You’re wrong - THIS is the way it is!” and you say “Okay.” Argument over.

#3: Don’t expect others to recognize your response

In order to offer compassion or love in an unconditional way, we have to be completely untethered from people’s response to our responses. It would be nice if everyone would acknowledge and praise us every time we choose to respond and not react but that won’t be the case. Choose a compassionate response not for anyone else’s sake but for your own. Choose to be compassionate because anything else feels less than the goodness that you know yourself to be.

I go into greater detail and get more into the nitty-gritty of challenging relationships on my Patreon page where some of the Patrons have been sharing their thoughts and have had some AWESOME additions.

"If I 'meet and greet' as my true Self, all will unfold as beautifully as possible! Do we meet in fear, or do we meet in Love?!" - Mark Zanger

Can you think of a challenging relationship that forced you to examine your reactions/responses? Tell me how you dealt with it in the comments section below OR join the conversation over on Patreon.

For more content like this check out my blog post "How is this helping me?"


Posted on May 27, 2018 .