I thought of myself as a "bad kid." I hated homework. I didn't automatically respect my teachers; they had to earn my respect as much as I had to earn theirs. I respected musicians, poets, artists, and other entertainers. The way I saw it, these people shared their gifts without judging or asking for anything in return. It seemed to me that they couldn't help but give because the art poured out of them whether they liked it or not.
This is how I felt I was and also how I wanted to be. I felt like nothing could be greater than lighting people up with something I had created.
Thankfully, my family was supportive. My mother saw that I was a little different and enrolled me in a school for creative and performing arts. There I tended to scrape by in the traditional classes but do pretty good in the arts classes. This kept my grade point average pretty low overall.
One day, when I was 15, while visiting my grandmother, she brought out a book she had bought at a yardsale (my family has a sizzling yardsale tradition). As she handed me a copy of the Jim Morrison biography "No One Here Gets Out Alive," she said, "you like music, I thought you might like to read this." I honestly think she was looking for anything that would inspire me to read more. Think what you want about Jim Morrison and The Doors, the book changed my life forever.
Reading about Jim Morrison, I learned that it was possible to be educated without fitting in, that studying what you wanted could expand your creative expression, and that you could take risks to expand your consciousness and your experience of life, not just to get away with shit you were told was "off limits."
This helped grow my self-esteem. I kinda sensed that I wasn't an idiot, but I wasn't getting a lot of proof by the standard systems of evaluation.
As I got older I explored "mind-altering substances," as I call(ed) them. I felt I was expanding my consciousness and my experience of life. For years, when I took risks, whether it be with mind-altering substances or adventures on the road or meeting people, I approached it as though it was all fodder for my art, or my life, and really they don't feel separate to me.
After high school, I did a bit of college, learned to make music on my terms, worked some fantastic jobs (including jobs that taught the value of pleasure and sex positivity) and struggled when my consciousness expanding substances became crutches that I relied on when I wanted to take risks. Fast forward 20 years, I eventually hit a big ol' fork in the road. I had been in a relationship for 10 years with someone, a musician, who supported me as a musician, but who also helped me to avoid failure by avoiding risks. He helped me to pass judgment on anything that threatened the very limited identity I had created around him. Individually we weren't getting anywhere and I started to feel a little dead inside. What if this was it? What if that was the end of the story for me? Would I just work and be in moderately successful bands till I died?
This possibility freaked me out big time.
It was my comfort zone and I was really eff-ing comfy! On one hand, changing looked almost impossible, on the other hand, staying the same felt like a death sentence.
I knew I had to change. I saw the edge and I stepped off. I felt completely alone. I had no idea who I was. Anything was possible and while that sounds exciting it was mostly terrifying.
Step by step I did things that didn't fit the mold, I learned to teach Pilates, I learned to teach yoga, I became a certified massage therapist and then I got into coaching.
That's when I started to learn about NLP. NLP stands for Neuro-linguistic Programming and like coaching in general, it's aimed at achieving excellence rather than healing disease or trauma. It originally came from studying how top people in their fields obtain outstanding results. Many of the techniques in NLP look at how beliefs are coded in our subconscious through language and images, smells, and other sensations. This is our programming. Sometimes our programming is useful, like the programming that allows one to achieve excellence, and sometimes the programming gets in the way. It's the programming that isn't working for us that NLP is designed to help shift.
As I learned about NLP I realized that I had some really useful programming that helped me to challenge the status quo, but I also had some that let me feel like I wasn't worthy of achieving greatness, even when it came to me easily. It was time to shift the regularly scheduled programming.
I have evolved my coaching so that my methods are not exclusive to NLP but the essence of it is still there. I work with clients who want to explore their edge, to expand their consciousness (no substances required), to enrich their art, i.e. their life, and achieve excellence. I love these people because, like me, they know it is an act of rebellion to take their life to the limit and beyond. I love these people because they will change the world.
What does it mean to change the world if not to disrupt the status quo?