Posts filed under: Podcast

UAC 139 | Slowing Down

 

Living in the fast-paced world as we do in the present does weird things to our mental health. An inability to slow down would possibly only lead to burnout. Finding moments—short or long periods—to slow down is essential to give yourself the mental bandwidth to navigate the modern world. Kate Rentz is a Los Angeles-based director, photographer, and mental health advocate. Thane Marcus Ringler interviews Kate, who speaks about using nature as a sanctuary within which one can slow down, recenter, and find their footing again. If you feel like your mental health is suffering, Kate might have a few tips that you can take to heart for getting the help you need.

Listen to the podcast here:

Kate Rentz: Slowing Down As A Way Of Life: A Creative’s Exploration Of The World As Sanctuary

I’m excited about this episode, but before we get there, I wanted to remind you of a few ways that you can help us out. If you wanted to leave us a rating and review on iTunes, that takes about one minute of your time and it’s so helpful for us being found by more people. We have a rating and review I’d to share. It’s titled, This Show Fills a Specific Need. Five-star rating by Mitch Matthews. Mitch says, “Thane has designed this show for a space that has been wildly underserved. It’s for those people who are getting clarity on what they want to do and achieve and they’re on their way, but they need insights and strategies to keep them on track. Biblical wisdom that meshes with practical raw application. If you are an Up And Comer, give it a read. You’ll be glad you did.”

Thank you for that review, Mitch. It’s very kind. If you want your review read, leave us a rating review and you may get a shout out. The second way to help us out is if you enjoyed this or another episode, sharing it with a friend or on the socials you can tag us @UpAndComersShow. We love to have you spread the good word. Finally, if you wanted to support us financially, we are on Patreon. You can do monthly donations there or if you have a company and are looking to partner, send us an email, TheUpAndComersShow@Gmail.com. We are actively looking for partners who are aligned with what we are about.

I am excited about this episode with Kate Rentz. Who is Kate Rentz? Kate grew up roaming the woods, rivers and farmlands in a rural Ohio where she fell deeply in love with the natural world around her. She also spent much of her childhood and adolescents filming her friends and family, trying to create visual stories any chance she could get. Kate attended Ohio University and graduated early with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Video Production. In 2007, Kate moved to Los Angeles, California to pursue a career in the film industry.

She works passionately as a video director and stills photographer. Kate’s imagery spans across the board providing a body of work that focuses heavily on light color and a passion to see the world anew. Kate spends much of her time outside working with various outdoor clients and exploring the mountains, deserts and beaches of California. In January of 2020, Kate began her Forest Therapy Guide practicum with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy to be a certified nature and forest therapy guide.

Her passion for the outdoors and desire to help others find healing and connection in nature has led her to found Explore Sanctuary, a company that curates unplugged and holistic nature retreats. Kate is also a mental health advocate, sharing her experience with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder online and through relationship. Kate was also diagnosed with Lyme Disease in 2015, after fifteen years of misdiagnosis. Finding healing in nature has always been a part of her path to wellness and she’s excited to help open the door for others to find healing outside.

Kate is also an Enneagram seven, a lover of all animals, a ‘90s music junkie and a dreamer through and through. She spends too much time fantasizing about which country she’ll visit next, how much land she wants to buy, and what songs she wants to sing at her next visit to the karaoke bar. She’s deeply devoted to her friends, family and would sign up for communal living in a heartbeat. She loves history, science, psychology and art. It’s rare that you’ll find her reading fiction unless it’s written by Mark Twain or Louisa May Alcott.

She loves anything nonfiction that will help her gain insight to the deeper understandings of the world around her, but don’t be fooled by the seriousness of her reading lists. She loves to laugh, is deep down funny in the Larry David way, and wants to have a good time. That is a little bit about Kate. This was such a fun conversation. There are many themes we explore along with our story, such as slowing down, paying more attention. It’s a big theme, curiosity, being content, exploring in nature, the human experience becoming better observers and so much more. She has a fascinating story. I know it’ll encourage and inspire you. Without further ado, please sit back, relax and enjoy this episode with Kate Rentz.

Kate Rentz, welcome to the show.

Thank you.

It’s fun to have you here. Third time’s a charm. We had to reschedule a few times such as life when hectic and all the crazy things going on, and schedules can sometimes change. I’m glad it finally worked.

I’m so excited to be here.

I wanted to start with one of the things that you apparently have done quite a bit of research on and that is the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

It’s true. That is hilarious. Yes, I have.

Why did you spend so much time studying or researching this and what have you found out?

First of all, I do these deep dives into research like this because I have endometriosis. I get bad period cramps, full disclosure. A lot of times when I have these bad pains, I have to spend hours in the bathtub early morning hours. It’s 2:00 to 5:00 AM. I have nothing to do. I love history. Sometimes I’ll research the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. I love Lincoln. I love the Civil War. I love learning about all of that stuff. When I started with this research, I wanted to have an understanding of how that all went down, which I grew up going to Gettysburg, DC and going to Ford’s Theater and all of that stuff. I feel I have that general basis, but I didn’t have a full understanding of John Wilkes Booth or Robert Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln. I went down this rabbit hole of the whole thing. I also have this fascination with the conspiracy around the assassination. That was something I learned about in the seventh grade and became obsessed with it and became obsessed with Mary Surratt. Do you know who she is?

I’ve heard the name but I have no idea.

She was supposedly part of the conspiracy. She was hanged with four other conspirators for the assassination. Seeing the images when I was in the seventh grade of this woman hanging freaked me out and triggered this obsession with the whole assassination. There’s much to talk about. I can go there.

Is there a resource you would recommend for people who are extra curious?

UAC 139 | Slowing DownOn the one particular day where I went deep dive, it was through Wikipedia. I don’t know if that’s the most trusted source, but it’s curated very well. What’s nice about Wikipedia always is that it has clicks to other links that can take you there. I went through the Lincoln assassination, John Wilkes Booth and Mary Todd Lincoln, all of it. It was very fun for me.

In some of the research, you were described as being full of light, beautiful and such a ray of sunshine, but at the same time, she’s also interested in cults, wars and these dark subjects. What fascinates you about cults?

First of all, I love psychology and to understand cult, you have to understand psychology and what draws a person to a cult or even a cult leader. There’s something going on with their mental makeup. There’s power and dominance. I’m drawn to cults because one, I’m terrified that I’m going to join a cult. I want to research as much as possible so I don’t fall into the trap. Two, I find it fascinating that people can be searching for light. That’s why people are drawn towards cult or religion. People want to find answers and they want to find meaning to life, but it somehow leads to them to a dark place. That’s what fascinates me. I’m like, “How did that go wrong?”

There’s a book by Robert Levine called The Power of Persuasion. If you haven’t read it, I would recommend it because it’s talking about the psychology of influence or how you are persuaded. Pretty much almost all the illustrations he uses are cults because it is such stalwart examples of amazing persuasion. It’s scary and sad as well. It shows a power that can be wielded for good and bad.

I’ve read a couple of books where I’m like, “It’s mind-blowing.”

What would you say on the psychology side have been the most informative or mind-expanding books that you’ve read?

In association with cults?

It could be or it could be in psychology in general.

I don’t necessarily read too many psychology books per se, but I read more exploratory stories around let’s say cults or people with mental disorders. Two of the books that come to mind. They have something to do with cults is one is Under the Banner of Heaven. It’s written by Jon Krakauer who also wrote Into the Wild. He’s a journalist so he writes in that style. It’s this examination of fundamental Mormonism or FLDS.

The other thing that I was interested to know a little about is apparently before we’re going to do the interview what I heard was that you had to be outside for twelve hours straight, simply observing nature. Give a little bit of context of why? I’d love to know about that experience.

I was going to be doing that, but things got changed up because of work. I haven’t yet done it yet. It is for my Nature and Forest Therapy practicum. That is one of the assignments that I have to do. It’s basically to help me get in touch with nature, allowing things to come to me as an inspiration. Being able to hear the stories and the messages from the forest or nature, it’s getting to know the land. Almost having vision walks a little bit.

The certification or the practicum that you’re pursuing, how would you describe it?

It’s through the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy. This is to be a guide. I’m taking people out into nature, into the forest, helping them get in touch with their body, get in touch with their senses and connecting with nature. Not a lot of people know how to do that because we move in constant motion. We’re always stressed out. We don’t slow down to be in touch with our senses. As a guide, I’m taking people out to be able to do that and to be a doorway or a window into nature where nature is the actual therapist. I’m opening the door.

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What kind of opened door got you into this realm?

I do a lot of solo road trips, solo camping trips. Growing up I would go out into the forest behind my house. I grew up having OCD and anxiety. I didn’t understand that I had that growing up. I found that throughout my life and into my 30s. I found that every time I would go out into nature, whether that’s road tripping or through camping, I would feel completely relaxed. I’d feel much healthier. I was doing this five-day road trip by myself. I was lying on a salt flat. I felt God was speaking to me and being you can open this store to other people and invite other people into this space. There’s much healing that happens in nature. I felt called to provide a space for other people to have their own experience in nature. Whether that looks mine or that looks something different, but I don’t think a lot of people know that there’s access to nature and the way that there is. I don’t think a lot of people know how to do it.

When talk about accessing nature, obviously there are the environmental factors of our culture and our life. If you could put some words to the common things that act as obstacles for our ability to access what nature has for us. I would love to know some words on what those obstacles are and also maybe what that experience can bring in transformation?

The main obstacle is basically fear. A lot of people have fear of being alone, fear of wild animals, fear of other people outside in nature. Sometimes being alone especially people don’t know how to sit with themselves. A lot of times, too, a lack of curiosity is another obstacle. For me being curious, it allows me to go outside because there’s much to explore when you go into nature and not even having the ability to be curious about what’s possible outside restricts people from accessing it. A lot of people think it costs a lot of money. Maybe it’s a financial thing for some people. The way that I go outside is done in a way that is pretty cheap. For some people going into a national park, which costs money. There’s an entrance fee. If you want to get an annual pass that also costs money but there are ways to access it that’s completely free. Even going into your backyard, a lot of people don’t know that there’s much there that can be found.

In finding and observing it, what have you found for yourself? What do you see others finding in what accessing nature brings?

For me, learning how to slow down and pay attention to what’s around me. When I slow down, I noticed that there are little worlds within worlds. When you notice that there are other things going on outside of you that is operating and functioning in a cool and healthy way, it helps me to reflect on my own life. To see there are seasons or there are different ways of living life or different ways of things operating. Paralleling it with my own life and seeing that like an ant’s world is very similar to my own world. I find beauty in the simplicity and the little things. Even thinking of water for me. I like to think of flowing water. I see that as movement and health. If you see a tiny pool of stagnant water, that’s where sickness, illness, and death exist almost. Being able to go into nature and seeing it in that way, you can bring that into your own life and be like, “If I don’t continue to move or if I don’t continue to flow, then there’s going to be death inside myself.” Nature can bring that for other people to reflect on their own life and see parallels within themselves.

It helps us connect to the bigger picture of Life, not our own little tiny life that we think is the big life, but it’s the small life.

We’re all interconnected.

One of my favorite practices is what I call an evening reset, which is watching the sunset. Watching the sun up the patio up here. Even watch the sun go right over the mountain in the background. As you see the crest of the sun slowly move, you become aware of the Earth’s rotation. You’re like, “This thing is moving. I’m on something that’s moving, spinning and rotating.” It’s a trip. You almost can feel that sensation, which helps you, helps me see, “Thane, you’re not the center of the universe.”

You won’t be able to have that realization unless you slow down to do and see that.

Slowing down and paying attention is important. You hit the nail on the head with the two obstacles of fear and lack of curiosity, which go hand in hand. When we’re fearful, it’s hard to be curious. In the realm of curiosity, have you always been a curious child or where do you see that coming from? Was it from your parents, the place you grew up in, just natural?

UAC 139 | Slowing DownIt’s completely natural. I have always been curious. I’ve been lucky to have parents that have always allowed me to be curious and have supported that side of me. I love to ask a lot of questions. I love to explore. I don’t know if it’s possible for me to not be curious.

That’s a great trait to have. What is a favorite question of yours to ask?

For me, I don’t know if this is exact, but I like to ask myself, “What’s around the corner? What else is around this? What else can I see around here?” Especially when I take road trips and this is a metaphor for life in general. When I am driving on a road trip and I see a dirt road go somewhere, I’m always like, “Where is that leading to?” Maybe that’s my main question is. I want to see no matter. If it takes me to a dead-end, a scary place or if it takes me to a beautiful grove of trees or something. I’m like, “Where does that road lead?”

Speaking of roads leading somewhere, you grew up in Ohio and how did that road lead to being here in LA?

For me, growing up in Ohio because I was very curious, I felt alone there a lot. I don’t think that I grew up in a culture necessarily that encourages a lot of curiosity or progressive thought. I felt a little alone there. Wanting to discover and wanting to explore, led me out West. I saw the West as this expansive place of possibility.

The opposite of curiosity often is conformity. We’re influenced by our culture that we’re in, whatever culture it is, we are going to naturally conform to the culture we’re around until there’s a big enough need to change or be different than that culture. That’s true of any culture. It makes it hard and we don’t know until we go out and see something different or experience something different in that sense. Walk us through a little bit of that transition for you when you moved and the reasons were when that happened? What kind of living in those two different cultures has taught you or shaped you as a human?

When I was a little kid, I loved to watch movies. I knew deep down that I wanted to make movies or to work and film. I had this dream of moving to Los Angeles from a young age. It was almost every single thing that I focused on from a young age up until college was to get out to California. I graduated early from college. I eventually moved out here.

Where do you go to school?

I went to school at Ohio University.

What did you study?

I studied video production. My major was in communications. I had a minor in history and film. It was crazy because when I was at school, I wish I would’ve been there and appreciated it. I was focused on California that I was like, “This is wasting my time. I got to get out.” Moving to California to work in the film industry, I know a lot of people when they come to Los Angeles, they have a hard time because it is an adjustment for some people. For me, I was so excited. Everything was new and dreamy. I felt like this is where I belong. Growing up I didn’t feel I belonged in Ohio or in small-town Ohio even though there are some parts of it that I love. Coming to Los Angeles, I didn’t feel there was this culture shock for me. I feel I’m having a reverse of that and longing for the small-town life of Ohio. It’s interesting how that’s happened.

It is interesting the season in that because that’s a beautiful thing. It’s every culture does provide something beautiful. They serve different purposes. Sometimes it’s not right for us. Sometimes it is and it’s interesting how there’s a cycle to things. Sometimes things come around full circle. Out of the things that you did enjoy, love or missed, was raising pigs one of them?

I love raising pigs so much.

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What was raising pigs like? I have no idea what that would be like.

I didn’t have a massive pig farm. We had a small five-acre farm. We only had maybe two or three sows. It’s a female pig that has babies. There’s a gilt, which is a female pig that has not had babies yet. They had a bunch of litters. I love animals so much. I was excited to go feed them, go water them, lay in the pen with them. Pigs are sweet. They’re like dogs. They’re smart. I see pictures of pigs and I’m like, “I want one so bad.”

I love that you wanted to go and lay in the pen with them. Did you ever do that?

All the time, yes.

Are they playful like dogs?

Yes. Their tails will spin and twirl too when they’re happy like dogs. They’re sweet. I showed them in 4-H and they’re smart. They knew when it was time to leave the fair and time to go. They would show sadness and stuff. Maybe they were feeding off of my energy because I had to sell them.

Did they have names?

They did. I was thinking about this and I was trying to remember all the pigs’ names, but I don’t remember all of them. I do remember our first sow. Her name was Beverly. She was what we called a blue butt, which is a cross between the Hampshire and a Yorkshire pig.

How many different breeds are there?

I feel there are more, but I can’t remember. I want to say nine at the time that I was in 4-H maybe. My favorite was a Duroc. It’s a maroon brownish red pig with floppy ears.

I did hear that you also participate or were a part of the World Federation of Farmers?

UAC 139 | Slowing DownI was in 4-H not World Federation of Farmers, but they’re similar.

How many years did you do 4-H?

I did it from the time I was nine until I was 16 or 17.

What did the experience give you or what did you enjoy most?

The social life of 4-H I loved. The county fair was one week long. It was chaos, running around as a kid without your parents. We had campers. I’d stay up all night running around with other fair kids in my county. I loved doing that. I love the animals as well, but I was super social. I was crazy. It was into all the cowboys and pig guys.

I also heard that you always wanted to be a vet. Comparing how the career life has gone, do you still have those aspirations or dreams or are they faded?

Those have faded for sure. I came to the realization that I’d have to see a lot of animals die in that totally was like, “No, not for me. I don’t think I could handle it.”

In that realm, what are your views on hunting then?

I have a lot of cousins that are big-time hunters. I am okay with hunting. I personally think that I would have a hard time with it, but there is some beauty with hunting for your own food. Treating the animal with dignity and killing it in a way that’s humane. I’m definitely not for going and shooting animals left and right. If you do it in a way that’s humane and with respect, I’m for it more than I am for mass farms that abused animals.

My roommate had a hunting show. It’s comical sometimes the personalities on their shows.

There are some good ones.

One of the things that most people from research, most people don’t know about you. We’re going to get to your work and your photography, which has been very well-documented and very impressive. One of the things that a lot of people won’t know or don’t know is some of the struggles that you have had as we all do as humans, but specifically with health. It’s been an incredibly hard road in many ways. I would love to know what your journey with OCD has been like. I know that’s something that you’ve spent a lot of time learning about and also have dealt with. I would love to learn more about that from your experience.

For me, my first memory of having OCD was when I was seven years old. I might’ve done something that was what is considered bad. I could not stop confessing what I had done to my parents. I felt this insane sense of guilt and this nagging that would not go away. When I think about that moment, I’ll still feel I have to confess what I did when I was seven years old. At the time, I didn’t know that it was OCD. Growing up in the church, I was like, “No, this is guilt. This is the Holy Spirit convicting you.” From that age on up until probably even a few years ago, I confused OCD with the Holy Spirit or God convicting me.

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It wasn’t until 2009 that I was diagnosed. I had a bad flare-up. It was first triggered in 2006 but re-triggered intensely in 2009 to the point where I couldn’t function. I was having panic attacks every single day for two months, not eating, not sleeping, losing weight. I was sick. I started to go to therapy for the first time. I was noticing that being in therapy made things worse for me because I was getting psychotherapy. I don’t know if you know the differences between psychotherapies like Freudian therapy, talk therapy. For me, as someone who had what’s called pure OCD, which is a lot of mental obsessions and compulsions, analyzing a situation or analyzing behavior, analyzing thoughts was making things worse for me.

I was already doing that a million times in my head. I was doing a lot of research online as I do. I came across something online from the OCD Center of Los Angeles. They had this thing about Pure O on their website. They had a test there. I took the test. Let’s say out of 21 questions, I scored seventeen. That was like, “You have OCD.” I was like, “What?” I had this inkling that I might have OCD because I saw The Aviator. It’s with Leonardo DiCaprio and Howard Hughes. There were certain tendencies that Leo would do in the film. I was like, “That’s so much like what I do.” That’s what helped me to go check it out on OCD Center. The director called me and he’s like, “This sounds you have OCD. Ask your therapist about this and this.” I went to him. I asked him about it. He was like he had no idea what I was talking about. “I got to stop going to this guy.” I started going to a proper OCD therapist. It changed my life completely.

It seems like and the same for me, being naive and ignorant. You’re like, “OCD. You get obsessed about things. It’s a big deal, whatever.” We’re very dismissive when we don’t have it, know it, experience it or understand it. What have you learned and how did that therapist change your life? What did he bring or what did she bring in those sessions?

The biggest thing for me growing up in a religious household and in a religious culture, you perceive everything as sin. I always thought that having a mental illness or a mental disorder was because of sin. Going to a proper OCD therapist and learning about the biology around OCD. You have to have a certain biological makeup that brings OCD to the forefront. There are other environmental factors that also play into that. Seeing that, I was like, “This isn’t something that I’ve done. This isn’t because of sin that I’ve done.” It’s like, “Why I have this.”

That in itself was freeing and helpful because I was already struggling with what’s called religious OCD or scrupulosity, which is this obsessive thought about being a center or not having the proper feeling I’m saved enough or feeling I believe enough or you know, X, Y, Z. I already struggled with that so much. Having this outside view from the religious world, that a mental disorder is a sin made things much worse. Going to the therapist and being like, “No, this is an actual disorder like having cancer or having some disease.” It was helpful. Also, someone to be like, “This is real.” This isn’t like, “I’m so OCD or whatever.” Someone acknowledging that this is a real thing that is extremely painful. There’s a lot of fear around it that was helpful for me.

Isn’t it amazing the power of affirmation that you’re not crazy and you’re not alone? Those two things are game-changers. For people reading, what are the important things to know about OCD or if you have OCD, what is helpful for working through and being able to cope or manage it?

For those who do not have OCD, if you notice your friends or your family or somebody having OCD, it’s important to be a support. Someone who wants to listen and not give advice. Because trying to give advice to someone who has OCD isn’t helpful because their brain is not operating like yours is. It isn’t functioning like that. The second thing is don’t use the term “I’m so OCD,” because when people do that when they don’t have OCD, it diminishes the severity of the disorder. It also makes people think that people with OCD love being in control or they love arranging or they love tidying up. OCD is not about loving someone.

It’s not a preference. People are doing these things based off of a fear of uncertainty. Educating yourself and knowing the difference is helpful. For someone who does have OCD, for me anyway, finding a support group of other people that do have OCD is helpful. Finding a good therapist that practices CBT and especially a therapist that practices exposure and response therapy, which is exposing yourself to your obsessions and your fears, which is scary. It’s the best form of therapy for someone that has OCD. Also, taking care of your body and knowing what triggers you. For me, if I’m not getting enough sleep, if I’m not eating properly, if I’m working way too much that makes my body tired, which exasperates my OCD.

Finding a support group, finding a good therapist that practices the right techniques and knowing what fuels, what levers or triggers you can avoid or not involve or consume. That’s helpful.

One other thing too is the therapist that runs my support group do not try to fight OCD. The OCD thought is to accept it. You almost have to be like, “Yes, I might die and get in a car wreck.” That is a possibility. Whereas if you’re trying to fight the OCD thought like, “No, I don’t want to die. I’m going to research every single way of how to not get in a car crash.” That’s feeding your OCD. You want to accept it, let it sit in your body, ride through the anxiety and eventually your brain relearns to let go, which I’m not there yet completely.

Where would you say you’re at in the process?

UAC 139 | Slowing DownFrom where I was in 2009 compared to now, I feel way healthier. I feel I have an understanding of my OCD. I am learning every single day that my OCD has its hands on every single part of my life. There’s sometimes that I don’t recognize certain thoughts or behaviors as being OCD. Every day I learn that there’s something new that I have to practice. It’s a daily practice and something that I’m probably going to deal with for the rest of my life.

What would you say are cornerstones or important pieces of your daily practice in that?

For me, slowing down is an important practice and not allowing myself to get too busy because when I’m there, I don’t take the time to have those a-ha moments of like, “This is OCD.” With my OCD group is I have what’s called goals. It’s doing practices that trigger the OCD. One of my things is if I say no, I feel I’m a bad person. I will do anything at all costs to avoid having to say no because it makes me physically sick to do it. It means that I’m a bad person. My goal is to say no to people and it’s hard. It’s figuring out what your goals are and sticking to them.

Exposure therapy is like, how can I be more comfortable with doing the thing I’m uncomfortable with?

It’s hard.

I’m curious about this because you mentioned OCD and anxiety. How would you say anxiety and OCD are similar and different?

Both of them are driven by some fear, but with OCD, there’s the compulsion element as well. The compulsion is there to neutralize the obsession or fear. With anxiety, I don’t believe that there’s this compulsion element, where people are actively doing something to cancel out the anxiety. They’re existing in this freaking out state. With OCD, someone will wash their hands as a way to be like, “No, there’s no more germs.” It’s having this second part to it. I’m not sure if that’s 100%, but that’s my understanding.

Would you say that you experience both or is it more very related to OCD?

It’s mostly related to OCD because I think I do compulsions all the time when I feel anxious or scared.

That’s the hardest thing in many realms, not just the realms of OCD or anxiety. The reality of not fighting it but accepting it is such a useful tool in almost every area of life. There are so many things that if we would not fight it and accept it, we’d be better off. We inherently want to fight it. We want to say, “No, I can conquer this. No, I can achieve this. No, I can fix this.” It’s about accepting it.

We live in a society that wants certainty. It pushes it on us. All of life is uncertain. Anything can change at any time. When we have this belief that everything has to be 110% certain, we don’t know how to deal with uncertainty when it comes. That’s hard for us. It’s hard for everyone, but especially people that have OCD.

In the process of dealing with uncertainty or becoming more comfortable with uncertainty, are there any thoughts or certain ideas that have helped you in that realm? Regardless of if you have OCD or not, that is something we all face as humans, uncertainty and certainty. We want to be certain and we love certainty. We love black and white. What are the phases of that process been for you? What are some helpful thoughts or mantras or even ideas that you’ve come back to and have assisted you in that?

I’ll speak to my experience with religion and specifically with Christianity because this has been one of the most impactful things in my experience. Growing up, I was taught to always be lukewarm, to not exist in the gray, to be either black or white. That you’re going to be spit out if you’re not. That me living in that space of extreme, of having to be black and white was causing me to be sick. I came to a place where I was like, “I don’t know what I believe with God. I don’t know if I’m a Christian anymore. I’m going to let it go completely. If God is who he says he is, then He’s going to show up. I don’t know.” Seriously letting go of that. I don’t have control over that. I grew up thinking, “Are you 110% sure that you’re saved?” That was pushed on me all the time.

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I had to get to a place where it’s like, “I don’t even know if I believe in this. I don’t know if I’m saved.” If God is who He says He is, He’s going to show up for me. If He says he loves me, He’s going to guide me to Him.” I have to let go of everything else, all the things that have been put on me and trust God. I was always told to trust God, but when you’re fed all these things like, “You have to be 110%. Are you doing this? Are you doing that?” You’re not trusting God. I was forced to be in a place where I was like “This is the one time that I have to trust God and let go.” It was the help healthiest thing for me ever.

Getting to that space allowed all these other areas of my life to release it. It feels good to be like “I don’t know.” I want to speak quickly into the idea of sin with a lot of things within Christianity too. There is a verse in the Bible where everyone goes to Jesus. There was a blind man and they’re like, “Lord, whose sin is it that this man is blind? Is it the sin of his parents or the sin of this man that has caused him to be blind?” Jesus says, “It’s neither the son of this man or the son of his parents that this man is blind. The glory of God can be revealed.” Jesus heals him on the Sabbath, which was against the law. I feel I have goosebumps even thinking of that. That Bible verse honestly has healed me so much because I was told growing up that it was my sin that I had OCD. In this healing process, I feel the glory of God can be revealed of allowing me to be healed. Also, to love other people in the process and love other people where they’re at and give grace to other people. I still feel I’m in a place where I don’t know fully what I believe, but I believe that God is good.

To encourage you, in hearing from other people, one of the questions I was asked is, “What does Kate given you as a friend or how has she impacted you?” One of them said, “She’s one of the most considerate, thoughtful, tender-hearted women I know.” Your love and generosity in your friendships are inspiring to them. I want to encourage you that that is showing fruit in your life. Is that a needed message? Everyone would do well to say, “I don’t know.” What I do know is I’m going to love you because we’re not God. We don’t know. We can know only what he’s revealed and even that is just limited.

Even in that story, that was according to the law of black and white scenarios. You don’t do anything on the Sabbath and Jesus healed on the Sabbath. He went into the gray zone because he chose love. He chose to heal his brother.

Our show’s tagline is, intention in the tension because life is best lived in the gray. It’s in that middle area that’s the most uncomfortable, the most uncertain. It always feels hard. There are beautiful moments that don’t and we learn the most. We also honor God the most in those areas because we’re relying on him. Before we get to some of the highs, I want to go back to a low. One of the stories that I would like to know about relates to another thing that you faced with your health. It’s a story about going to the Huntington Gardens in a wheelchair. Tell us about that experience.

The reason why I went to the Huntington Gardens was this garden is in Pasadena. It’s very beautiful. I was in a wheelchair because I have Lyme disease and that happens shortly after I was diagnosed. I had been undiagnosed for about fifteen years up until that point. I was experiencing weakness and pain. I had this excruciating pain throughout my abdomen. I had one of my best friends was in town visiting. We wanted to go there. I wanted to go again. I’m not a person to say no. I felt I couldn’t walk. She was like, “We will push you in this wheelchair.” For me, my pride set in and I’m like, “No, I’m not going to be pushed in a wheelchair. That’s for people who can’t walk.” She’s like, “You can’t, you’re in pain.”

She helped me to accept her love. It was a hard moment for me, but it is sweet. I forget that I have friends that want to help out and want to love me. It’s hard to receive that sometimes. We went to the Huntington Gardens. I looked I was in a long maxi dress. We were taking pictures every once in a while. It was hard because I didn’t necessarily look sick. I wasn’t throwing up. I was this later twenty-year-old girl in a maxi dress. Deep down I was sick and in so much pain. It was a very interesting experience, but one that I appreciated so much being able to receive that for sure.

It is hard to receive love and help. That’s something I’ve learned a lot even with engagement and approaching marriage. Much of my own resistance is not wanting to receive love. That feels selfless, but it’s selfish, which is such a crazy thing to experience. I want to know more about, because Lyme if people read the blog for a while, Adam Setser, the Cofounder and co-host when we started, he battled Lyme for a long time and finally got diagnosed. There are many people that have to face this disease and are in that reality. The commonality almost as always years of not knowing. Fifteen years is a long time. Tell us about the journey of Lyme.

For me, it started when I was in eighth grade. I didn’t know that this was going on at the time, but looking back, I remember being school and feeling very confused with learning certain things. Being like, “Why is my brain going so slow? Why can’t I comprehend this?” Where my peers were getting it. I was a good student and so I’m like, “Why isn’t this clicking for me?” I took notice of that. I went on this road trip with my cousin. They rented an RV and went around the West. On that trip, me who’s the explorer and the person who’s always running around and highly active, I was so slow the whole time. They gave me the name slow turtle on that trip, which is sad but it’s also funny.

I was slow to wake up. I didn’t want to get out of the RV. When we would be on the trail, I would be lagging behind. All throughout my high school years, I was in a lot of pain. I had a lot of back pain. I had a lot of joint and muscle pain. I’ve always dealt with brain fog, which is scary. It’s always scary for me to go on something like this or have calls with clients. Being like, “I don’t know if I can remember words or be able to form sentences because my brain isn’t acting as it should.” Being in high school, because I was always sick, I feel I had coaches and teachers that were like, “She’s making it up.”

I felt I was a hypochondriac. That was hard to have that experience. I don’t know if people thought that, but it felt that. People thought I was making it up or making excuses especially being in sports. When I finally got that diagnosis, I was like, “See? I wasn’t lying. I had something wrong with me.” All through my college years, I was on pain meds, taking Vicodin, taking Percocet, nothing would work for the pain. I’d have to go to many different doctors to try to figure out what it was and nobody had answers. I didn’t get an answer until 2015. I cried after I got the diagnosis, not because I was sad about having Lyme disease. It was like, “Finally, this is it.” It was still hard to hear that, but like, “I wasn’t making this up for so long.”

What are the most common symptoms with Lyme? This is one of those things that I wish we could be better at addressing and also discovering. I know that it morphs and that’s what makes it so hard. What you’ve learned about it? What are the common symptoms that are faced in the journey of Lyme?

Common symptoms are fatigue, muscle aches, and pains. Also brain fog, insomnia, sometimes memory loss. A lot of people say flu-like symptoms, body aches, and that whole thing. For me personally, aside from those other symptoms, I experienced excruciating pain in my abdomen. Also, GI problems. It’s also called the imitator disease, so it can look other diseases like fibro or MS or many other things. It gets misdiagnosed so much because it takes on a form of its own.

Since being diagnosed, how have you managed and coped or even worked on addressing Lyme?

Right after I was diagnosed, I had parasites and SIBO, which is Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth, which causes a lot of inflammation in the body. I had to address those first before going on to treating Lyme. That took a few months. I found a Lyme literate doctor, which is important. Don’t go to any general doctor if you are diagnosed with Lyme disease or if you’re looking to find out if you have Lyme. A Lyme literate doctor knows what they’re talking about. I found one in Santa Monica. I started seeing her and the type of treatment that I did was Ozone therapy. Have you heard of this?

It sounds familiar. It took Adam three years of searching to find a doctor and experiences like a doctor saying “It’s all in your head” and those things.

I had that told to me too. A doctor in Arizona being like, “This is because you have OCD. I’m going to give you antidepressants,” which was very infuriating. There are a couple of different ways to do it. The way that I did it was they took out a big bag of blood through an IV. There’s this gas, which is O3 gas that they shoot into the bag. It’s adding three molecules of oxygen and mixing that up with the blood. Your blood goes from being very dark red to bright red. Slowly they put that back into your body and the oxygen helps kill the bacteria. There are other ways to do it. Going through UV rays, all of that stuff or doing direct to the vein, which I’ve also done one time, which was very intense. Initially, I did fourteen rounds of Ozone while also doing intense herbal treatment and also taking a million supplements at the same time.

It was a very intense 5 to 6 months. I did notice after the fourteen rounds of Ozone, I went from not being able to stand for long periods of time or to walk because of the pain to being able to stand for a half an hour. I remember being at a birthday party and I was like, “I haven’t had a sit down for 30 minutes, which was huge.” I treated that for a year or something. It costs a lot of money. Everything is out of pocket. Nothing is covered by insurance. I could only do so much as I could afford. I got to a place where I was like, “I feel I’m healthy enough to stop or take a break.” In 2016 or 2017, I did do that. When things would come back or I feel like I’d in an intense remission. I would go and get an extra boost of Ozone. I feel I still have symptoms. I have bad brain fog. I have insomnia that is annoying. Every once in a while, I’ll have the achy joints and muscles.

What has helped you live with that? Those are hard things. What mindsets or what approaches or how have you viewed it that’s been helpful for you?

For me being a very curious person and also being a seven on the Enneagram, which is the explorer, the enthusiast has helped me so much because I do love exploring and getting out there. That has helped me cope with it a lot because I’m driven by the curiosity or driven by wanting to partake in life that it helps me forget how sick I am. Sometimes I truly don’t realize how sick I am. It’s helpful to have friends remind you like, “You’re brave or you’re strong” because I forget. I’m like, “I’m having a hard time or whatever.” They’re like, “No, you have Lyme disease.” You’re doing way more than the normal person. I have to try to give myself a pat on the back and be like, “You’re pushing your body and you’re doing a lot of good things.” Also, remember to rest because that is one thing I’m not good at. When I do give myself the chance to rest, take baths, take my supplements, eat well or drink water, that’s huge too. My personality is honestly the thing that’s kept me going.

What I love about that, no matter who you are, you have something you face, we all have something that we’re facing and we’re going through. Usually, we either avoid it or try to cope with things that aren’t necessarily helpful. What I love about what you shared is, for instance with you being an Enneagram seven, exploring gives you life, energy, and refreshment. To overcome, deal with or cope with things that are challenging by giving yourself something that gives you life and energy, you’re helping yourself overcome what’s hard by giving yourself what’s best for you versus avoiding or coping with things that are detrimental to you. That’s one of the best reasons why things like the Enneagram are helpful because we get to better understand ourselves. The things that give us life and energy and then self-prescribed them especially in the time that we needed most. It’s a powerful thing. What else about being Enneagram itself has helped you in self-discovery and even in self-direction?

The Enneagram seven has helped me to realize that I need to learn to be content. Because my downside of being a seven is I am always like, “Happiness is somewhere else.” I’m always moving towards trying to find it elsewhere when I needed to be content, be present in and find happiness where I’m at. Being aware of that and being aware that I’m so easily distracted to go to those other places. The Enneagram has helped me learn how to re-center and be grounded.

Being content is truly a human struggle as well. What situations or when do you find yourself most discontent? What do you think leads for you to true contentment or produces that for you?

I feel like it’s in an activity. I always want to be moving, producing or doing something in social situations and also in work situations. I feel also one of my top five strengths finder is an activator. I want to keep moving. I get FOMO a lot, which is not necessarily being at parties, but I’m every day researching plane tickets to go to Italy, to go to Australia, to go to London or whatever. I’m always having these FOMO of other lifestyles. I need to realize that I already live a great life. I already live a beautiful life. Why do I need to escape to these other places in order to have the life that I want? I’m already doing the things that I already enjoy. That’s where I feel the most discontent.

It’s cool to know because from the outside looking in, everyone always assumes about you, about me, about anyone that we always assume about other people their life is great. It’s very rarely that we don’t assume that, but we’re all in the same process. Apparently, you’ve been to every continent except Australia and Antarctica. On this being content, do you think that innate understanding of that battle and your tendencies, do you think that ties into what you mentioned earlier about wanting to move back to a slower culture that longing for a simpler or slower phase?

If I’m going to be totally honest, I don’t think that my yearning to be back there is trying to find that contentment. It’s me being bored of having lived in Los Angeles for several years. I am drawn to the simple life, but if I were to have that I would get bored. I need stimulation. I need something to feed the seven.

What would be the next if you had to pick one?

I’ve been trying to think about that because I’ve been feeling very antsy these last few years. I have a lot of requirements in certain cities or countries that I live in. I fell in love with Italy. I went to Northern Italy a few years ago, so I feel maybe if I lived in Milan and had access to the Dolomites. I do love Munich, but I don’t think it’s sunny enough.

One of the things you mentioned is producing so I’d love to talk about how your journey with photography has led you to producing because that’s a thing from what I’ve learned.

I do produce, but I’m directing one now.

Photography, is that true love?

The true love is more storytelling. With photography, it’s a tool to be a storyteller.

What is it about storytelling that drives you?

I’m interested in the human experience. Being a curious person and realizing that each person has their own unique story to tell in their own unique experience and things that they’re driven by and things that they’re inspired by. I think that’s always been something that I have been intrigued by. Giving voice to other people that don’t necessarily have a voice or know how to share their voice is something that I’ve always wanted to do for them. Not that I’m the person who’s leading it or guests, but I want to help facilitate it and bring life into life.

I know you won’t to your own horns, but the work that you’re able to do and also in talking to people that know you well, you’re able to not only do amazing photography, but you’re also hunting down locations. A lot of time yourself pulling your own talent. Styling yourself as well and creating this whole niche for your work that isn’t done that much out there. How have you refined that process and gotten to where you are? Specific to photography, how would you describe yourself as a photographer?

UAC 139 | Slowing DownFor me as a photographer, I’m drawn towards the natural world. I’m drawn towards color. I’m drawn towards light and authenticity. Blending all those things together, whether that’s through a lifestyle shoe, a fashion shoot, an editorial shoe, or documentary photography, I want to somehow blend those together and I do love art direction. I’m fascinated by shapes, sizes and all the different things that make a picture pretty. Bringing all that stuff in together I think is so much fun.

What do most people not value about an image or about photography that’s well done?

I don’t think that they realize how much work it takes. There are different types of photography. As the photographer, you’re putting so much of yourself into that, whether that’s getting into the flow, finding the right locations, finding the right talent, or finding the right story to tell. That takes a lot of time. Separate from learning how to use your camera. A lot of people think having a good camera makes a good picture, which isn’t true. You have to learn how to see the world, to notice things and know how to bring it all together.

If you had to boil it down to one, what has given you the most benefit in your photography? What skill or even understanding elevated your photography to another level more than anything else?

It’s observing and going slow. Because to be a good photographer you have to go slow and take the time to observe what’s going on. Whether that’s the action that’s happening in front of you or the light changing in front of you. Also, the energy of the models that you’re photographing. It’s being an observer.

I was thinking about all the parallels to it too because I was listening to my fiance’s grandfather, who was a poet talk in an interview. What he was describing about poetry is fascinating and it’s such a helpful limitation because you have to sit with the words a lot longer than writing a book. Writing a book is you’re like puke words out and get them out there. Poetry is like, “How does this word sound, feel, taste, look, relate to the others?” You sit with it. It brings out this deeper poetic beauty that isn’t the same. I think about that in relation to what you shared that with the cameras. The camera is you can fire a million shots a second and you don’t want to miss things. You’re overshooting and trying to make sure you capture all the angles because maybe you don’t know which angle is best and all these things. Back in the day, if you only have one shot, you cared about all the other details so that you made sure that you got it.

Shooting quickly into shooting a ton of stuff stresses me out. I used to do that right when digital photography came out, I would go shoot nonstop. Now, I’m like, “No, I have to slow down.” I would call myself an empath. I’m affected by energy, whether that’s spatial or emotional. I have to be able to feel the energy of what’s going on and take the time to figure that out. Know how each of these things is at play with each other. I’m even looking at the lines on your walls and seeing how the sun is coming in and noticing the shapes. If you don’t take the time to do that, you won’t notice that stuff. For me, moving forward, I want to go slow and let the magic happen and capture it.

I love what you brought up to slowing down. That is important. What you brought up about being an empath because other people spoke. One of the questions I asked is, was the person’s superpower. Multiple people said that you have amazing intuition, can read and understand people in a very deep level. Would you say that’s been something that has always been a part or is that been refined over the years? Probably both ends, but speak a little bit to what that experience of being an empath?

I’ve been that way ever since I was young, which has been good for me, but also bad sometimes because sometimes I will go into a situation. I’m impacted by all the energy that’s coming in that I don’t necessarily know how to sort it or know whose energy it’s coming from. I’ll take it on myself. Sometimes if you come across a person that might have better energy or might be having a bad day or whatever, that stress can be passed on to you. I can physically feel it in my body. I start stressing out, not realizing that it’s not mine to carry. I feel that has been almost a thorn in my side. I happened to find this book at a bookstore that was called The Empath’s Survival Guide.

It was one of those things where it was guided there and there it is. I read it and it has helped me so much, be able to realize that about myself and know how to separate myself. I don’t think that this book is encouraging an empath to not have empathy for other people. It’s how can you be the most empathetic and the most powerful, healthy way possible. If you are spewing empathy, you’re going to drain yourself. You’re not going to be able to take care of yourself because you’re giving so much to other people. It’s teaching you ways to take care of yourself, be healthy that way you can love the world in the way that it needs to be loved.

It seems always, even in the movies, superpowers come with responsibility. Things that were exceptionally gifted that or can feel or see or experience in a deeper way, need to be used for good and not harm. A lot of times we have to learn how to do that. There are tradeoffs in that. As you’ve shifted but also added directing and not necessarily producing. From what I’ve heard, you’ve directed around six music videos. What’s brought about this shift and what do you see as your trajectory or vision going forward?

I grew up directing plays and videos with my friends growing up. When I came out to Los Angeles, I thought I wanted to be a DP, which is a cinematographer. That shifted for me. I was like, “I’m going to be a photographer.” I feel I had a bad experience working at a production company where I felt very stifled as a creative. That’s a long story, but I felt I wasn’t encouraged to be my creative self. I second guess myself a lot and I didn’t take that step to own the director inside of me. My parents were out a couple of years ago in Los Angeles and they were staying at our house. My husband, Isaac, who’s also a director, was directing a Honda commercial at her house and they got to see what happens at a production.

My dad said to my mom, “Why isn’t Katie doing this?” She was always doing this growing up. She could be a director.” My mom told me that. I was like, “Why am I not doing that?” It was cool to hear from my parents that they already saw that in me. It healed that side of me that was hurt by these other people that I experienced in LA. After hearing that from my parents, January 17th of 2017, it was the Women’s March where it’s that big march that happened in downtown Los Angeles. That was the day that I directed my first legit music video. It was mostly women. I felt so empowered. We knocked it out of the park. Since then, I’ve been going nonstop as much as I can. I feel I’m way more confident as a director than I am as a photographer.

Because of how much time you spent and I feel the two of them, at least professionally, that shows a lot of maybe the underlying natural ability or propensity towards it. What I’ve also heard is that pretty much in all that you do, you’re almost entirely self-taught. What is the benefit or even detriment of being self-taught?

The benefit is that you know all sides of production. That makes being able to communicate to the camera department, the editorial department, or your colorist so much easier. I sometimes do produce some of my music videos. The detriment of that is I’m used to carrying all the weight and wearing all the hats. I don’t necessarily know how to delegate very well or realize that you can hire someone else especially when there’s a budget where I can do that. The hard thing too also when you are wearing many hats, with producing and directing, for example, those required two sides of my brain. I can’t be fully creative when I have to also produce because I’m thinking of all the logistics and all the things that need to get done. That takes away from my creative side. Being able to hand that off to someone else and allowing people to do their job and for me to be a director is the thing I need to learn to do.

Even for me, with this blog and starting to delegate things, things aren’t done how you want it. You get so frustrated. Your baby is being misused. You have to let go. It goes back to letting go. We learned by doing it too. We learn how to be calm and be a good delegator by delegating, not by waiting until the right person’s in place. There are many processes. Before we end, I’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about Explore Sanctuary a little bit more and what it is, where it came from and what you hope for it.

Explore Sanctuary are these holistic camping retreats that I am starting. I spoke about doing these solo road trips and that came from a place where I was out in the middle of nowhere. I was laying on a salt flat, looking up at the mountains and realizing how much love and healing I felt from being outside. I have many people here in California like, “I want to take me out on these trips that you go on. I want to go camping with you.” Realizing that there was a need for other people where they also wanted to experience nature. For me, because I have had much healing with OCD or with Lyme disease even, which is hilarious because that’s where I got Lyme disease is being outside.

Having these experiences where I am soaking up the healthy benefits of nature and being like, “People need this kind of experience where they can slow down, connect, be in their bodies, be outside and realize that there’s this connection between humans and nature. We’re all connected and we’re all living off of each other. There’s this reciprocity. Nature is giving me healing and I need to also take care of the earth. It’s not because of the benefit for me, but because we’re in a relationship. When you’re in a relationship, there’s this love in this form of respect. Creating these curated retreats to provide a space for people to find healing in their own way.

What would be your vision for the long-term? What would you to see come from Explore Sanctuary?

Starting out, I know it’s going to be slow, but eventually, I would love to work with kids that are from inner-city that don’t necessarily have access to the outdoors. Even working with people. I’m thinking of where I’m coming from and there’s so much access there in Dayton, Ohio where I come from. That’s the epicenter of the heroin crisis and I’m like, “That makes me so sad.” Obviously, the heroin crisis is super complex as to why it’s an epidemic. A lot of stuff that starts with, where’s your heart at or how healthy are you? Where’s your soul? There’s much access to nature there. Maybe working with people who have access, but don’t know how to attain it or how to get there, how to use it or how to work with it.

Also working with corporations would be cool because we are such a tech-driven society and that’s where I’m forest bathing first happened was in Japan in the 1980s where they were having this epidemic of people being so stressed out because they were working so much. They needed to be outside in order to heal. That’s where the United States is moving more towards and trying to work with companies to be like, “Your workers need to disconnect in order to get healthy, reconnect with nature and they can be better workers.” I’m open to where the path takes me. That’s one thing with my practicum too and especially with the twelve-hour walk that I’m going to be doing. It’s seeing where the forest guides me. Being open to the forest or God or whatever. It’s seeing where I’m supposed to be called towards. I’m open to that.

Before we leave camping, one of the things that a lot of people want to know, myself included is what are the essentials for camping? We all overthink it. This is an obvious area of expertise for you. How do you go about packing for camping? Do you have favorite recommendations? What are the essentials?

First of all, this is my favorite thing ever. I pack three days in advance because I love it so much. If it’s going to go barebone essentials, you definitely need a tent or not. Sometimes I sleep in my car, a sleeping bag obviously, and I would get a good one from someplace like Mountain Hardware or REI. Big Agnes has good sleeping bags tent too. Finding one where you can have a fifteen-degree bag or something that. Also, a sleeping pad is a necessity because if you don’t sleep well while camping you will not enjoy it. I have an inflated big Agnes one that is probably four-inches high and it compacts tiny so you can backpack with it. Also, you want to make sure that you have a firestarter water and first aid kit. That’s the bare essentials.

What do people usually bring that they do need in your experience?

UAC 139 | Slowing DownToo many clothes for sure and then also too much food, cooking utensils and all of that stuff. For me, when I’m by myself, I’ll bring a tiny little burner and one pot. Maybe one sport and that’s it. When I’m by myself, I won’t use a camping chair, I’ll sit on the ground because there’s so much energy that the earth gives that will soak it up through the ground. Do that.

What book or books have had the biggest impact on you?

Two that come to mind is one, I love Little Women. I love a story about relationships and family. It dives deep. It hits the soul and hits the heart. For me, I come from a big family, but I have a bunch of sisters. Connecting with my sisters and my mom, I feel that book has hit me real hard. I also love the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I’m deep down a little rascal. It’s such a playful book. I love Huck. He’s such a complex character, but his relationship with Jim. It’s cool to read it as an adult because you see how complex the story is. I love the struggle inside of Huck, of being told that life is one way or that you should think one way, which is obviously at the time is during slavery. Knowing in your heart that love is what needs to come to the forefront. I love reading about his struggle because he struggles throughout the whole story. He always chooses to do the right thing in the end. He loves Jim. Jim loves him. I love how authentic and how real that is. It shows a real relationship.

If you could teach a class for a semester, what would you teach them and why? You can also pick the age or grade.

I love connecting with elementary age kids. I feel I’m very youthful myself. One thing that I would want to teach kids is how to be curious and to create an environment for their imaginations to grow. I don’t know specifically what their curriculum would look like, but going outside and exploring nature. That’s a good place to start. I also think that teaching a class about cults would be fun. I have more stories about this like volunteered at a cult rehab center when I was in college. I’m not an expert, but it would be fun.

How do you find a cult rehab center?

I was in a class that’s called Passivism. We are studying Martin Luther King and Gandhi. As part of the class, we had to volunteer at an organization. This guy that was in my group, his mom worked at this cult rehab center. At the time, there were only two in the whole world. It was close to Athens, Ohio. We went there and luckily for me and this guy who was in my group because we are video production students, we got to film one of the people at the rehab center, who had come out of their program. Maybe this was the catalyst of my obsession.

Everybody else had sweep the rooms and reorganize stuff. “I got to hear the story of this woman who had come out of this crazy experience.” That is the thing that made me be like, “Any normal person can get sucked in. It can do so much damage.” There’s hope because there are these rehab centers. I remember the book, the Road to Jonestown. It’s about Jim Jones and it’s fascinating. I’ve watched all the documentaries. This book that I’m reading is beyond. There’s so much information. The author does such a good job at breaking it down. It’s so good. Go read it.

What can you not imagine living without?

This isn’t anything that’s tangible, but I can’t imagine living without freedom.

The last question that we ask every guest that comes on, if you could send a morning text reminder to every Up and Comer out there, what would you say and why?

I would text, “Be the bright star that you are and don’t hide your light.”

Kate, where can people find more about Explore Sanctuary, your work in directing and photography and etc.? Where is the best place to connect?

You can go to ExploreSanctuary.com for these retreats and that is also the Instagram account, @ExploreSanctuary. To find my work, it’s KateRentz.com.

Kate, thanks again for coming on. This has been a blast. I know that a lot of people are going to benefit from reading your story.

Thanks so much for having me.

Important Links:

About Kate Rentz

UAC 139 | Slowing Down

Kate grew up roaming the woods, rivers, and farmlands in rural Ohio, where she fell deeply in love with the natural world around her. She also spent much of her childhood and adolescence filming her friends and family, trying to create visuals stories any chance she could get. Kate attended Ohio University and graduated early with a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Video Production. In 2007, Kate moved to Los Angeles, California to pursue a career in the film industry and works passionately as a video director and stills photographer. Kate’s imagery spans across the board, providing a body of work that focuses heavily on light, color, and a passion to see the world anew. Kate spends much of her time outside, working with various outdoor clients and exploring the mountains, deserts, and beaches of California. In January of 2020, Kate began her Forest Therapy Guide practicum with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy to be a certified nature and forest therapy guide. Her passion for the outdoors and desire to help others find healing and connection in nature has led her to found Explore Sanctuary, a company that curates unplugged and holistic nature retreats. Kate is also a mental health advocate, sharing her experience with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder online and through relationship. Kate was also diagnosed with Lyme Disease in 2015, after fifteen years of misdiagnosis. Finding healing in nature has always been a part of her path to wellness and she is excited to help open the door for others to find healing outside.

Kate is also an Enneagram 7, a lover of all animals, a 90’s music junky, and a dreamer through and through. She spends too much time fantasizing about which country she’ll visit next, how much land she wants to buy, and what songs she wants to sing at her next visit to the karaoke bar. She’s deeply devoted to her friends and family and would sign up for communal living in a heart beat. She loves history, science, psychology, and art and it’s rare that you’ll find her reading fiction, unless it’s written by Mark Twain or Lousia May Alcott. She loves anything non-fiction that will help her gain insight to the deeper understandings of the world around her, but don’t be fooled by the seriousness of her reading list. She loves to laugh, is deep down really funny (in the Larry David kind of way), and just wants to have a good time!

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UAC 138 | The Liminal Space

 

Hardships, disabilities, fear, and emotional trauma are just some of the negativities we encounter in life. In this fellowship episode, Thane Marcus Ringler talks to Kelsey Zahn Melton, a freelance hairstylist and makeup artist by trade, yoga and meditation teacher in training, and lover of all things food and coffee. Today, Kelsey empowers us with her vibrant aura by educating us about the liminal space, meditation, and how to find God in everything, all of which helps us overcome difficulties. Join Thane and Kelsey as they relate their experiences to our everyday lives.

Listen to the podcast here:

Fellowship Ft. Kelsey Zahn: Exploring The Liminal Space, Meditation, Waking Up, And Finding God In Everything

Thank you for joining us, being a part of this community and this movement. If you are in the process of becoming, then you are welcome here because that is what we are all in and that is the journey we are all on. Thanks for being here. If you want to help us out, if you want to give back to our show, there are three easy ways. The first is leaving a rating and review on iTunes. It takes about one minute and no money, no dollars. The second way is sharing this episode or an episode that you enjoyed by taking a screenshot on your phone and posting it on the socials. You can tag us, @UpAndComersShow or you can send a text to some friends you think it would encourage. It’s a great way to spread the good word. Finally, if you want to support us financially, you can also do that on Patreon. We have a Patreon where you can make monthly donations. You also can reach out to us at TheUpAndComersShow@Gmail.com if you have a company and are looking to partner.

I wanted to read a review and it was left on iTunes. It’s a five-star rating. Thank you for that by Nyjir. Nyjir said, “Thane has started a movement for the next generation that is inspiring and powerful. If you know your time is now, this is the show for you.” Thank you, Nyjir. That’s kind. If you want your rating to be or your review to be read, I would love to give you a shout-out if you’d give us a minute of your time for a rating and review. Thank you for that. This is a fellowship episode. These are a little bit shorter than interviews and more of a peer-to-peer conversation. I am excited about sharing this conversation with you. It was such a joy for me to have. Our guest is Kelsey Zahn-Melton who lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Drew, and her dog Stanley Tucci. She is a freelance hairstylist and makeup artist by trade, yoga and meditation teacher in training, lover of all things food and coffee, and hopes to hear more about the shape of your soul one day.

She is in a season of exploration entering into the liminal spaces life has to offer as humbly and simply as she can manage. Mind you, she is writing this so perhaps the truth is a bit romanticized here. Most importantly, she would love to hear from you. You can find her @KelseyZahn on social media or The-Curated-Life.com. This was such a fun conversation with Kelsey. It’s a beautiful space that she’s in life, raw, open and vulnerable about deconstructing and reconstructing everything in her life. We cover a lot of interesting topics such as the liminal space or the space in between. We’re talking about overcoming hardship and disabilities. We talk about energy healing, the benefits of yoga and meditation, curiosity, fear and security, waking up, finding God in everything, understanding emotions and much more. I know that a lot of you will be able to relate to these topics and this conversation. You’re going to be encouraged by it. I’m going to stop talking and allow you to start reading this fellowship episode featuring Kelsey Zahn.

Kelsey Zahn, welcome to the show.

Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here.

The first one I want to touch on is Zahn versus Melton. This is an interesting dilemma because my fiancé and I had been talking a lot about last names. How did you decide on your last name?

When I was growing up, my last name was Buffenbarger. It’s long so we would shorten it to Buff all the time. When I became a professional, I needed a business card. Buffenbarger doesn’t fit on the business card. I went by my first and my middle name and my middle name is Zahn. When I got married, my husband’s last name was Melton. It meant a lot to him, number one, that I take his last name. I was like, “I will do that, but I’m still going to go by my middle name.” It’s because I’m insubordinate and what I mean by that is I was doing a Bible study, a leadership development program. One of the segments was about rebellion and insubordination. As a child of an undercover cop, father rebellion wasn’t in my cards. He told me I would stay in jail, so I didn’t do that. In the study, they defined insubordination as obeying externally or believing even in your mind that you’re being obedient but still having a heart that is rebellious. I realized that a lot of my actions, especially in my early marriage were me being insubordinate because I wanted to maintain autonomy.

I relate to that. For me, in approaching that type of relationship and covenant, how much inwardly I want to maintain autonomy. It’s hilarious. It’s humbling. That insubordination word is powerful because it’s from the heart, which is where the important things always lie. There hadn’t been some funny stories of that?

My favorite is that there was a prosecutor who hated my dad because my dad arrested bad people and that’s subjective anyway. A prosecutor who was pissed off at him called him Officer Barfenbooger in court.

Meditation is not about ignoring the parts of ourselves that we have deemed bad, but accepting them. Click To Tweet

I was fascinated by the place that you’re in life. It’s a place that more of us, if we’re honest with ourselves, should be in or are in, but we don’t call it out as it is. I’d love to start by hearing how you would describe your place in life.

It’s a liminal space. It’s the space between spaces. I heard it described once. It’s often the space of I would rather not because growth and change aren’t comfortable. It requires something of us. We are trained from a young age that it’s easier to stay and have all the reasons why like our arsenal of, “The money is good,” or “It’s not that bad.” The space I’m in that Thane is referring to that should be more direct about is that I’m considering basically upending what I’ve done for several years.

I’ve been a professional hairstylist and then when I moved to Los Angeles a few years ago, I started doing hair and makeup for photo-shoots and bands. I toured for a while. I love what I do in terms of I love the people I get to work with. I’m very humbled by the experiences that I’ve been allowed to have. There’s always been a pull to something else. I’ve tried to leave the industry probably every year since I’ve been in it. I went into it because I naturally am a tactile learner. I’ve always done my friend’s hair since I was little. I assumed, “I’m naturally good at this. This is what I should do.” I never questioned like, “What else could I do?” Because I had learning disabilities as a child, I didn’t think that college was an option for me.

My older brother was incredibly intelligent. It’s all the reasons why that we form. We allow those to be our barriers versus our motivation. I allowed myself to be a victim to other people’s capabilities versus going, “No. What could I do? Where could I go? What could I learn?” I thought this was the only way for me because it wasn’t traditional. I’ve always sought nontraditional modes of learning. A couple of years ago, we moved back to Los Angeles. My husband and I had moved to New Orleans for a year. I had gotten out of the industry when we moved because I was burned out. I was very tired. Coming back though, I was like, “This is the thing I know how to do. It’s how I make money. I’ll do it for a while until I figure the next thing out.”

I like to call that the beginning of the year of breadcrumbs. It’s not stopped where God started putting little inklings in front of me. It was number one, bringing me back to Him. A resurgence of faith that started at all. Leading me through different modalities of learning about different energy healing or I became a certified yoga instructor. I had the opportunity to lead a small group before the organization that I did my yoga teacher training through. It’s called Holy Yoga. It’s a Christ-centered yoga organization. I led a Monday morning meditation virtually at 6:30. I loved it. Because of that, they offered me the ability to record the meditations for their SoundCloud.

It was the first time in my life where I sat down to do something. I wasn’t worried about it being perfect. I wasn’t worried about if I sounded right or if other people were going to judge it, but that didn’t matter to me. It was an obedient action of using my voice for something that would further something I believed in. That’s a combination of both faith but also stillness, quiet and giving ourselves the space to think. I’m doing meditation teacher training, which has been the most challenging experience ever.

Tell me more about meditation training and why that has been exceptionally challenging?

It’s been exceptionally challenging because it’s stirred a lot of things that I thought I was passed on a lot of layers. I consider myself to be a progressive person of faith and that I grew up conservative. There was a lot of damage done because of that culture. I walked away for many years, like baby out with the bathwater, I was done and got His infinite grace. He doesn’t leave. It was like me running a million miles away and only to turn around and He was right there. I ran smack dab into his chest. When I did that first weekend, because neurons fire together, wire together, all the wiring from my childhood of this is scary or bad, like surface. I don’t feel that way, but it was like I’m learning about Hinduism. I’m learning about tantra. Tantra for the audience is not just about what Sting and his wife do. That’s not what it is.

It was a School of the Science of Spirituality. It’s got a lot more things to it. It definitely has some facets that are dark and sticky and I am not comfortable at all with. Instead of being curious, being open and learning that first couple of weekends, I allowed fear to take over. What God has been doing in me through this is going, “Am I not bigger than this? Did I not leave you here for a reason? Am I not bigger than fear? Can I not use all things?” It’s been a powerful transition in my heart space of feeling like I need to be guarded in Fort Knox. Brooke Boon, the Founder of Holy Yoga often says, “God gave us a perfect-fitting set of armor, number one.” Our set of armor is misfitting, heavy and clunky. It doesn’t work. We need to leave that behind.

UAC 138 | The Liminal Space

When God gives us his set of armor, we don’t need to girth up underneath it. We don’t need to be like, “I got this,” because we’re covered. I’m still in the process around it to be completely honest. There are definitely days where we’re chanting for like a long time. I’m like, “Lord, you can transmit whatever comes out of my mouth for your glory. It’s fine.” Not that I’m going to do that in my room by myself like people do. For me, it’s been a learning and unlearning of bad wiring. It’s surfaced a lot of deep childhood stuff that I thought I was passed.

I’ve always thought of childhood work. You’re addressing an inner child thing, inner child Kelsey, is like going to small self, pretend is how I’ve always envisioned it but the fifteen-year-old me showed up and she did not want to see me. She did not want to talk to me. She did not look at me. It was a practice of offering compassion to her and being like, “It’s okay. When you’re ready, I’m here.” That may sound weird and woo-woo to people. That process of going back to a version of yourself that carries a deep wound and it’s almost rewriting the wounding story inside of yourself and learning to apply the balm of compassion and love to those wounds. Over time, they’ll get smaller.

One of the conversations I had with a friend of mine at Good City Mentors, which is a mentoring program here in LA that I do on Fridays. The lesson was on courage with the kids and sharing your story. Part of courage and sharing your story is talking about a challenge that we faced and that by sharing the challenge and what you’ll learn from it, you gain power for yourself and for others in that and unlocking that. He has OCD and faced that as a young kid. He also has a very strong propensity towards depression within his genetics and his family. Through some of those and some other traumatic things, he went through a dark time.

What he had to come to realize and shared was that he had to stop trying to cure. He had to start trying to understand how to handle and live with, because for him, those things aren’t going to leave. He can get more comfortable with them. That’s what the tools he’s working on is how do I become more comfortable with these things and recognize that it’s not about trying to remove them, but trying to accept them and embrace them and live in the midst of them, in spite of them or with them. I’ve been captivated by that thought that so often we want to eliminate our brokenness. We want to eliminate the things that we don’t like about ourselves or that others don’t like about ourselves. That is a place of fear like you talked about.

I love the contrast between curiosity and fear. That’s love and fear like God talks about and how when we’re fearful we become guarded and afraid. We long for security, which are all places that stunt our growth and keep us from being who we are called are capable of being. It removes us from the reality of being human, which is even a bigger problem because we start seeing ourselves or others elevated when no one’s elevated. It goes full circle. I’m curious in that practice, in that process, what are your thoughts on that idea that it’s not about fully healing or moving but becoming comfortable with? Would you agree with that or what is your perspective on that?

It’s both. It’s not about curing and the word cure means to cut. That is something we often think, “If I can cut this part of my heart away, maybe it wouldn’t hurt so bad. I wouldn’t have that shame or I wouldn’t have that darkness inside of me if I could cure it.” The word fixate has the same root as fix. We get obsessed and fixated on fixing ourselves. The work of meditation is not about ignoring the parts of ourselves that we have deemed bad. It is about sitting with them, getting comfortable with them and accepting them because it is through acceptance and compassion that we can transform our suffering.

Instead of judging ourselves because shame says I am a bad thing. Guilt says I did a bad thing. We often get those two things misconstrued in our lives where we identify heavily with the things we do, the words we say, the things people say to us, and we take it all personally. We put it on as a piece of identity. We don’t question like, “What am I allowing to be on me or in my heart or in my mind?” We take it all as reality. I wrote a piece on my blog, but I use the analogy of this girl who had been told to remain small her whole life because of tall poppy syndrome.

The idea that if you rise above the other poppies, they’ll cut you down to size because if you think you’re too special, if you drive a nice car, whatever the thing is in my upbringing, it was like, “We’ll cut you back down to size. Don’t be too big for your bridges.” I’ve planned on writing another follow-up piece that was all about blaming the people for the tall poppy syndrome. Right before I fell asleep one night, I heard the words, “You held the weed whacker also.” I was like, “Wow.” It’s the fact that we often accept the things as the truth and we don’t have filters. To circle back, the process of meditation is such a great filter for being a sieve to sift out the things that are true versus the things that we can let go of and start that process of healing. For me, when I meditate, I always invite God, Holy Spirit, Jesus to be with me, be my guides, be my healers. I invite a host of angels to surround me and to walk me through and show me what I need to see, bring up what needs to be brought up so that it can heal. What we don’t feel, we can’t heal.

I was disassociated and numb for most of my life that I didn’t truly feel most things. I’m a two-wing one, so my one side has certain emotions that feel unacceptable to me. It was also part of my upbringing like don’t be angry, that’s a bad emotion. It’s like, “No, anger is a good emotion if it’s used well.” You need to be allowed to let the thing out and you can move on. If you suppress, if you bury it down deep inside, it gets stuck and that comes out sideways later in another relationship and you’re like, “Why am I upset about this thing? This thing doesn’t even matter.” Where I see the healing through meditation for myself and for so many others, it puts space between sensation and reaction. Sensation happens and you go, “I feel angry.” You can pause and go, “Where do I feel angry? I feel it in my heart. Why do I feel angry? They touched a sensitive place in my heart. Did they mean to do that?” Instead of reacting fast, it allows you to slow down and get back in your body, get back in yourself. I was disassociated that you cannot just react because there’s no buffer between the sensation rising and being like, “You’re a horrible person,” or whatever the thing is.

The Bible is meant for you to question so that you can know what you think and believe. Click To Tweet

The thing that’s cool about that is that’s something we even talked about back to Good City Mentors. I even wrote about it in a blog post with the other group that I was a part of, because it’s as simple as putting a pause into your daily lives. How do you create space between input and action, whatever it is, especially if you’re a high school student? How can I create a few seconds of buffer between this situation, comment or circumstance and what I do as a result of that? Who do I choose to be? Who do I choose to show up in the world? Space is such a powerful thing, and that pause and meditation are especially for adults. The thing is we all are trying to be kids again. That’s the journey back, but how do we create more of that consistent buffer?

I feel meditation is the practice for that. The book that I love was by Dr. Joe Dispenza called You Are the Placebo. The biggest two tools that he mentioned in there is gratitude and meditation. Those are the things that caused the most transformation not only mentally and spiritually, but physically like real physiological change that he proved through scientific study, which is powerful. For you, what is your meditation practice if you had to give a description about it? How would you describe your meditation practice? What do you do? What are the rhythms? What does it look like? Give a breakdown of that.

I’m in the process around that because it used to be rigid, I feel for me where it was like a to-do item. Many of us when we think of meditation, it becomes another to do. Meditation is a practical tool. If you meditate for twenty minutes every day for eight weeks, you will rebuild the gray matter in your brain and you will begin to shrink your amygdala. That’s one way you can buffer that fear response in your life where you’re making decisions out of a place of anxiety or fear is by giving yourself. That research was done through Transcendental Meditation, TM, and mindfulness practices where you have a single point of focus for a certain time.

Specifically, they’re talking about what your prefrontal cortex, regrowing gray matter, but eventually it does help your whole brain reorient itself. For me, knowing that helped me have a little more grace around it. If there are days where I get up and I can meditate, first thing, I will do that. I prefer to do yoga right when I get up. I like to move my body first and true too in the original Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras way back 400 CE or whatever it was. They talk about all the practices of yoga are meant to move you into meditation. You’re preparing the body through movement for meditation, for stillness. I prefer to meditate a little later in the day because I find that it helps reset me.

It’s mostly the reset. It’s like a reset button. I feel refreshed after I do it. I always journal after I do it. That’s a huge thing is having a buffer space after you practice. No matter if you practice for 3 minutes or if you practice for 3 hours, having a buffer space before you get up off your cushion, go into your car and let go about your day to process what is taking place. Even if it’s one word like pay off, if your brain wants to be quiet or if it’s sparkly whatever the thing is.

For me, I enjoy heavily anchored practices in this season of life. What that means is your anchors can be body, breath or sound. Those are the three most common. A mantra can also be an anchor. You can use any combination of them so that your mind doesn’t get distracted. When a meditation teacher tells you to focus on your breath, it’s not just, “I’m focusing on my breath.” It’s what does it feel like? Noticing if it’s cool or warm. Noticing what it feels like when it enters through your nose and noticing the rise and fall of your belly. Allowing your awareness to settle into those rhythms versus being distracted by a litany of thoughts about the day and this person or that thing.

When that does happen, you gently remind yourself, “I’m thinking,” and come back to your breath. I heard somebody talking about their mindfulness practice and when they went to their training, they asked one of the teachers at the center, “My mind won’t be quiet and I am frustrated. I get judgmental with myself when I’m practicing.” I’m like, “Stop thinking agitated.” They said, “The seeds you water will grow. Water the seeds with gentleness and kindness when thoughts arise because thoughts will arise. If you can practice gentleness, kindness, and be tender with yourself even in that space, that will come out of your practice with you.” Ultimately, that’s the goal. It’s not about what happens on the cushion and that state of tranquility that you feel when nobody’s talking to you. You’re like in bliss in your awareness. When you’re in your awareness of floating or whatever the sensation may be, to take that stillness and that deep inner peace with you out into your life, that’s the transformation. That’s what you’re looking for.

It’s fascinating because this is something I need to hear as much as anyone else. When I was competing as a golfer, I incorporate a practice of mindfulness meditation into my training regimen because of how important it was for my mental performance, especially within practice and performance. Since competing professionally, I’ve digressed into the minimal, practical application of that practice to where now my meditations are more prayerful in the mornings around my time with Jesus, but they’ve been loose and not rigid at all.

I’ve felt the need to return to some rigidity to reestablish a better foundation for it. Even that twenty-minute a day for eight weeks study is a powerful encouragement to me. Hopefully to everyone reading that there is a real transformation that is possible even in something as small as twenty minutes a day, which isn’t a big task. I was doing ten minutes a day and that still felt a lot because it feels like a waste of time, especially for achievers like me. I was like, “You’re wasting time.” No, that’s the most beneficial time of the day that you can spend.

UAC 138 | The Liminal Space

You brought up at the end there awareness and this ties in well with what you’ve been talking about. Even what we talked about before of waking up and there’s a book by Anthony de Mello. He was a Jesuit priest. He passed away several years ago. He did a lot of his work in India. He has a book titled Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality. I would describe this guy as a more animated Richard Rohr in the sense that he is fiery. It’s amazing. The whole premise of the book is that you need to wake up. It was honestly one of the better books I’ve read. They’re mini-chapters.

It started out a little. It gives you momentum because it’s like, “Finish it on,” and the start was a little slower. I was like, “I don’t know about this guy.” I was not that inspired to read it, but I kept going and I’m glad I did because he works through the process that we all have of denial and refusal of wanting to wake up. We’re going to face that our whole lives in different realms. I know that’s something that you mentioned about your stage of life is that process of waking up. How would you speak to what waking up means to you?

It’s been a long process. It started when I was 27, I went on tour and it was the first time in my life where I wasn’t identified as my family’s child or my brother’s sister or my boyfriend’s girlfriend or my husband’s wife. No one knew those people in my life. They only knew me. That was a wild experience for me to live with people for that amount of time who only knew me for me, for the me that I existed as at that time. It started as the baby process of awakening, I would say. That was the year Inside Out came out, the Pixar movie for children.

My husband, Drew, and I went to see it in the movie theater when I was home on break. It destroyed me. I was a mess. He was like, “What is wrong with you? I don’t understand.” I couldn’t function the next day. I was like, “All my islands are broken and sadness has touched all my core memories. I proceeded to schedule my first therapy appointment ever in my life as a 27-year-old woman and also texted my friends who had medical marijuana cards and I was like, “You’re coming over on Thursday after I go to therapy and we’re going to get high.”

Undercover cop dead, I never did anything. I was like, “We’re doing this.” It turns out I’m not that big of a fan, but it’s fine. I went about it in strange ways, but it was in the beginning. A year later was when it kicked back up again. Life was falling apart here in Los Angeles. My husband and I moved to New Orleans where it’s easy to go to sleep because their motto was, “Let the good times roll.” You go for a walk with a glass of wine and your dog and you’re set. You don’t have to think about the things, but I was doing coaching at the time and I still felt the stirring. When you’re a kid, your mom comes in your room, I was like, “It’s time to get up.” You’re like, “A-ha,” and you roll around with the covers. She comes in again, opens your blinds and pulls the covers off of you. It felt like there was a hand in my brain reaching into this part of myself that was asleep and trying to pull the covers off. My inside self was going, “No.” It was brutal. It’s painful to wake up.

It’s like Wim Hof in your life or something, like jumping into an icy lake. It’s not comfortable and you feel you’re going to hyperventilate and die, but you can get through it. That was the beginning I would say like inside out then that experience. When we moved back to Los Angeles, we’ve started going back to church because we wanted rhythm, not because we were like, “Let’s give this faith thing a try.” It was like, “Let’s have community, rhythm and a ritual because rhythms in life are important.” My husband and I church hopped for a while and we ended up at this church I like called Radius.

The first Sunday we were there. The pastor recommended this book called Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Calhoun. It struck me for some reason. It was the Holy Spirit pressing on my heart where I was like, “I need to order that book,” because I was curious. I knew God was real. I was like, “I’m curious about You. Give me a gateway back to maybe knowing You better.” I hadn’t picked up a Bible in several years. I was not about to. I got the book. In the introduction, I don’t read intros to books, but I did. She has the word worship as an acronym for how you can read the book. Each letter is a different way of doing a segment of spiritual disciplines. O stood for Openness to God and I was like, “Yahtzee. That’s what I want. That’s what I’m here for.”

I opened it up to that section and the very first thing was contemplative prayer. That first day I closed my eyes for contemplation. I was in tears because God was real. He was talking to me about stuff and I was like, “God, the Father, You are real.” That was the year of the breadcrumbs. It’s like nourishment. When you’ve been sick and you haven’t been able to eat anything, you eat a cracker and you’re like, “I feel much better.” The next day you can drink a cup of broth. You’re like, “I’m a little more alive.” It’s that process of getting little bits of nourishment back to your soul and that kept going.

Going through Holy Yogas training, I was resistant. I told the person from Holy Yoga, there’s no way you could pay me enough money to go to a Jesus Camp. By day three of said Jesus Camp, I was face down in a puddle of snot and tears on the yoga mat face-to-face with Jesus. You can’t unsee what you’ve seen. You can’t unknow what you’ve known. That’s another moment of awakening where you reckon with a part of yourself, deep inside of your soul that you’ve denied or shut down or put to sleep, allowing it to come back online, allowing it to wake up.

We are the fullest, most in alignment, most true to our original created selves in Christ. Click To Tweet

The number of times meditation came up in my life before I was even aware is profound to me. Ana Wim, my friend was like, “Do you want to volunteer for this half-day Holy Yoga event I’m hosting in Redding. I was like, “I knew I needed to do it and God made the way.” One of my good friends has a best friend that lives up there. We road tripped up together. We went to this event. I volunteered to lead the meditation. It was a transformative experience. There’s a church in Redding called Bethel. My upbringing was like father-son.

I encountered the Holy Spirit for the first time. I was like, “The Trinity is a real thing. It’s not made-up teaching or whatever.” That was another layer. It’s not without a doubt. It’s not without questioning. It’s not without me going fifteen steps forward and 120 backward where I wrestle with much of it. If you’re in a place of awakening where you haven’t wrestled, I would question if you’re waking up. It makes me feel like if it’s too comfortable, is it right?

Wrestling is required for waking up. That’s very valid. Faith is not the elimination of doubt, but rather the decision to take a step especially with the doubt.

Peter Rollins is a modern-day Irish philosopher and he says, “To believe is human, to doubt is divine.” As people we want to believe in things. It’s our human nature. We’ve done this since the dawn of time. If you never question, if you’re blindly led, that’s where I was when growing up. People would always say, “We want your faith to be around,” but they didn’t mean it. My upbringing was much like, “Don’t question, just know. Don’t doubt, only believe.” That never sat right with me because the Bible is full of paradoxes. It’s meant for you to question so that you can know what you think and believe.

Our pastor did teaching about the Holy Spirit and was talking about how the Holy Spirit is our advocate to argue with God for us, but to also argue with us about ourselves, where we lose the sight of our identity as children of God. He goes, “Let me argue you on that. Let’s get in a little bit. Let’s work around it.” He asked a question and he said, “Why are you ashamed of your passion for God?” I was like, “That’s deep.” Those wirings of my childhood where it was this belief I had to hide who I was in my faith for fear of loss of belonging.

That was my wounding, it’s the loss of belonging. I notice those things coming up now. I didn’t have them for the first blissful year of coming back to faith because I was blissed out of my mind. I was like, “You’re good, Holy Spirit. Amazing Jesus, yes.” I’m in this position where I’m, “This leaves me belonging in certain circles.” I don’t want to offend anybody. There are many parallels in meditative language around faith where I’m like, “Do you not see?” The Buddhist teachings I’m learning like, “Jesus.” It’s funny to me. I’m in a class all the time.

I’m going to say this because it’s my mother tongue. Nobody be offended, but in the Bible it says. It’s because I know the stories. I know the parallels. It’s cool to see how many times this process of learning other teachings helps me connect different stories in the Bible where l was recording an episode for my friend’s podcast. We were discussing the verse in Genesis 2 where it talks about God breathing life into Adam. As we were discussing it, I had the revelation that Jesus was here to do as the Father did.

When He bestowed the Holy Spirit upon His disciples, He breathed on them. That’s where we receive the fullness of the Trinity because God breathed into man, Jesus breathed Holy Spirit into man and Jesus was the sacrifice. It’s this beautiful connective picture or there are a lot of meditations around asking who I am. I thought about when Moses goes to the burning bush and God says, “I am that I am.” In the creation story, God creates man in His own image and all other things were created after their own kind. We were created after the God kind. Therefore, I am that I am, we are who we are in Christ.

We are the fullest, most in alignment, most true to our original created selves in Christ. Seeing these parallels or one of my favorite contemplations, that question of, “Who am I?” We often ask it from a place of ego. Even though in the meditative state, it’s supposed to be from a surrender place. It’s still an ego question to know who am I, but the contemplative practices work God show me you, then show me me. From that humble positioning, we can see ourselves through His eyes. You could take it one step further and ask because we often view the world through our obscured lens versus through the clarity that we can be given through Christ.

UAC 138 | The Liminal Space

The Liminal Space: Gratitude can change the energy that you feel in your body.

 

One of the parallels that’s interesting that I read in a book called The Lessons of History, which is an amazing synopsis of this book called The Civilizations of History that these two historians, Will and Ariel Durant, did. It’s 100 pages and it’s profound what their conclusions are. The ones that stuck out to me was on war and history and how peace is not possible unless there’s a higher power or authority in place that creates peace. That’s where you see that peace is only found sustainably through God or even perfectly through God. Peace is such an indicator of God and his presence because that is the higher authority that we can fully trust even when we don’t want to and don’t feel like it.

This is not to say there’s a walk in the park to trust or that peace is always over us. That’s not true. It could be and potentially that’s the goal. That’s what we strive for. In that sense, even the ordering in that and even what you shared is at first we have to know what’s been done and what’s being done for us from God, which unlocks our ability to know us fully and truly, and accept us fully and truly, which then unlocks our ability to do the same for others. That ordering is important. It is an ongoing process our whole lives, which is interesting to realize because we want to arrive. That’s not going to happen here at least forever. There are many glimpses of it. One of the things you mentioned that is helpful to think about is finding God in everything versus that parallel that we all fall into is determining what he is or isn’t in. That’s hilarious if we think about it. Why are we prone to determine for God what he is in and what he isn’t versus finding him in everything because he’s there?

I had a profound moment when they were talking about Hinduism. In Hinduism, you can basically worship anything. You could worship a mountain, a stream, a goat or whatever. I was like, “They have the right idea, but it’s obscured,” because God is the creator of all things like. He is the source. All things flow out of Him. Therefore, you can see God in all things. I have many times looked at creation and wept because I see God’s love for humanity and the beauty of creation. I’m not saying God is a tree. I’m saying God is in the tree. It gets dicey for people because the semantics sound too similar.

If you think about it from a biblical place in the poem that is the creation story, He is intentional about the way that He does it. The first three days are separation. He’s creating and separating. It’s almost a painter with a canvas who’s getting the outline made. The last three days, He is filling what He has created with the creation to inhabit, fulfill, and bring his perfection to life, to give it more nuance and texture. We think we can divorce God from the thing He created, it baffles me. Even our view of Jesus to believe I had a disheartening conversation with someone who I said, “I believe all people are chosen.” It is ours to choose back. We’re already chosen. When Jesus died on the cross, He died to reconcile not just mankind to Himself.

He died to reconcile the whole of the universe unto himself. The fact that we think, “He was this man who lived, breathed and walked in.” We can get wrapped up in the story that we forget the continuation. We think it just happened in the Bible, but we forget that it’s been continuing on for generations ever since. That story could now be volumes to fill a library of His continued word, breath and movement. If you think about it from a place of the word, the Bible is the word of God, but so is creation because God spoke it into existence.

These are the things that are helpful to work through. It’s the framework I used for my book. There’s simplicity then complexity and then there’s simplicity. That far side simplicity is that form of mastery that we’re all in pursuit of and we have to wade through complexity to get there and it’s this beyond.

Our pastor has been teaching a lot on chiasm. It’s a term and it’s that where you have simple simplicity, complexity simple, simplicity. He gives it the analogy of the Hobbit where he starts at home and in the middle, there’s a housed treasure. He returns home. It’s this idea that in the middle of these two paralleling stories of forces is the treasure. It’s enfolded inside.

That makes the journey and the process the most important thing. It’s true. I think about my journey with golf. From an external perspective, it was a failure. From an internal perspective, it was a success because of what it did inside of me as a human and what it produced within me. In a sense too, that far side simplicity is a beautiful refinement of what that journey held. It’s almost a catalyst for the next because it’s the bookend to the next journey, which helps us keep going. I love how Rohr talks about mystery is endlessly knowable. How in that pursuit of God, it’s an endless pursuit because it is endlessly knowable.

We can’t get to the bottom of the depths, which allows us the freedom to keep pressing. God wants us to seek deeper and deeper. How do we do that without ending the journey? The danger we all have is to get into a place where we get into a circular spin where we’re not progressing, but we’re remaining where we are and entrenching in where we are. I don’t know if you’ve looked into spiral dynamics at all. It’s the same concept. There are 8 or 9 spirals. You’re spiraling up through your journey in life. It’s a great construct for thinking about how we can get stuck in a spiral without moving onto the next. That becomes unhealthy for ourselves and for others. Energy is one of those things especially within Christianity that’s shunned to our own detriment. The concept of energy and energy healing like you’ve gone through, give a little bit of a taste of what that’s done for you. Why is that important?

Darkness has no power of its own. Click To Tweet

We fear what we don’t know. I often talk about sin. We get obsessed with it. It’s a bad, horrible thing. For me, the literal meaning is to miss the mark. It goes one step further of it’s the realization that darkness has no power of its own. It’s a great manipulator. It’s taking something that was originally good because everything was good in its original creation. It’s the manipulation of that thing into something that was never meant to be. It’s the harm of self or others. It’s the manipulation of food to being our numbing device. It’s the manipulation of sex to be a distraction or harmful to another person.

It’s the manipulation of energy to be used for dark rather than light because energy is all around us. It’s a scientific thing. Emotions, number one, are energy in motion. Number two, we aren’t stagnant beings. I can’t remember the scientific term for what a person is, but nothing is as solid as it seems like in quantum physics. If you compressed all the solid matter in the universe, it would fit inside of a teaspoon and that bends your brain a little bit. If you can get out of the place where energy is woo-woo, you can re-orient it around like everything is made of molecules in motion. That’s all literal frequency energy. That’s where you can get into, like words have an energetic frequency.

That is why when people talk about even in the Bible, life and death are held in the power of the tongue. The things you speak and the things you eat and think in your own mind, those things carry an energetic frequency which affects the resonance of the rest of creation. It’s those studies where you could say things to water and then have it for me to crystals and the crystals where hateful things are said are awful. They’re deformed, often discolored. The crystals were the words of love or beautiful snowflakes. Gratitude, part of the reason that’s such a transformative practice is it’s one of the highest frequency words.

Gratitude can change the energy that you feel in your body. It can make you feel more energetic because you aren’t being bogged down. Think about when you feel sad, that’s a heavy emotion. It makes you feel more tired. When you’re depressed, you don’t feel, “I’m going to pep myself. I’m going to go run a marathon.” You’re like, “No, I’m going to lay on the couch because I can’t move.” The real shift for me happened when I started learning about how emotions manifest as disease in the body. Looking at my own life and seeing how that literally played itself out. I read several books on it.

You can read The Body Keeps the Score. You could read a great book with the most intense title. It’s called Feelings Buried Alive Never Die. It helped me realize so much, going back to that idea of what people put on me and accepting it. I accepted the things that were said or that I thought about myself or whatever. I often say you have thousands if not hundred-thousands of thoughts in a day. They whipped through your brain and went through a screen door. If you have a specific thought that’s repetitive or it’s charged with emotion, thoughts just don’t go away. They turn into a neuropeptide. They turn into physical matter.

When they’re charged with emotion, when they are charged with that repetitive energy, they have to go somewhere and they’ll get stuck in your body. When you have a repetitive thought, it’s like a six-lane freeway to a car crash. This is where meditation comes in. It’s to learn to identify those on-ramps in your life and learn to take a detour. That’s been something that’s been profound. I used to have chronic migraines. I had three-plus migraines a week. I functioned through them. That’s what repression will get you. It was stuck energy. It was repressed energy that I wasn’t allowing myself to feel, face or acknowledge.

It was manifesting as literal migraines all the time or I had two major hip surgeries when I was a child. For women, trauma often manifests in your pelvis. For men a lot of times, it’s in your back because a lot of it has to do with financial responsibility. I’m still learning a lot about it. You’re like, “I’m dipping a toe in the pond that is an ocean of information.” It was Harvard or Stanford came out with a study talking about you could remove your whole brain and all your memories would be stored in your body. It would be stored in your tissue like in your fascia and in your muscles.

That’s such a powerful thing to try to get your brain around. That’s when you can take energy out of the woo-woo, “I need to be scared of this realm,” and go, “Maybe I need to do acupuncture,” which is working with your literal energetic body. They call them the meridians in Chinese medicine. The channels that energy in your body flows through. Maybe I have something stuck somewhere and I need to do that or Reiki maybe a little too scary for some people. I myself was trained through a woman who’s a Christ-centered Reiki practitioner. It’s tapping into the Holy Spirit. It’s tapping into the energy that is of God. It’s important. This is the other thing I often tell people is, where is your intention being placed?

Because if your intention is even as the person receiving, if you’re afraid, that good intention of the person practicing on you could be thwarted. If you enter it perfectly with the person, if you trust, if you are open to receive healing and believe you are worthy of healing, that is crucial. Many of us doubt that we are worthy of love, of healing. We doubt that we are worthy of the transformation that can be given to us. That’s where I see the people in Christian circles and not in Christian circles that have chronic problems where they don’t allow the transformation because they believe they’re broken.

UAC 138 | The Liminal Space

The Liminal Space: For women, trauma often manifests in your pelvis. For men, mostly it’s in your back because it has to do with financial responsibility.

 

That’s something I get upset about when I talk to a lot of conservative Christian people is they are obsessed with their brokenness, fallen nature. I talked to my spiritual director about this. I told her, “Janice, I never saw you again. All the money I’ve spent, you would be worth it for what you told me.” She talked about in Russian orthodoxy that we believe in Western theology. When the fall happened, our core became sinful and that Christ died so that his blood could cover over the shame and the sin. In Russian orthodoxy, they talk about when man fell that it’s almost like a sheath covered our true core. Our true core is made in God’s image and it’s beautiful, radiant, love and joy. It’s all the things that He created us to be. When Christ died, He tore the veil. When we come to Christ, the veil around our hearts falls off and our true identity can shine through.

Kelsey, we will maybe need to do a round two here because we’ve gone past our time limit and it’s sad. I’m going to end with two one-offs. The first is imagining your 50-year-old self. What advice do you think you would give yourself?

There’s time.

Getting more external, if you could send a morning text reminder to every Up and Comer out there, what would you say and why in a text message they’d get on their phone?

Remember to breathe. This could be for our next episode. I have a whole thing around breath and God that I briefly touched on, but Brooke Boon talks about how every time we breathe, we receive the fullness of creation. Breath is powerful. I don’t know if any of your readers have done breathwork, but you can literally change your state by how you breathe. A little tip is that if you exhale longer than you inhale, so if you inhale for a count of two, when you exhale for a count of four, that will calm you down. Inhaling upregulates your body. Exhaling deregulates your body, so it calms you down. That’s where transformation can begin even is when we slow down our breath. That shifts your energy. If you’re in a stressed situation and you take a deep breath, it keeps you calm. Navy SEALs do the four-square breathing for a reason.

There are some great resources out there. I’d get to take a Wim Hof class, which is sweet. It is fascinating even learning about the components of breath because when you exhale, you’re off-putting CO2. When your CO2 is heightened, you get the feeling of claustrophobia because it’s uncomfortable. That’s where that whole fear comes from. It’s fascinating, everything is connected. Kelsey, where’s the best place for people to connect if they want to say hi or drop a few comments?

You can find me on Instagram, @KelseyZahn, and my email and stuff, I do believe it’s on there. If anybody has any pressing questions, you can reach out. I also have a blog that I don’t write on much, but it’s called The-Curated-Life.com.

Until next time, this has been much fun. Thanks for coming on.

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About Kelsey Zahn Melton

UAC 138 | The Liminal Space

Kelsey Zahn Melton lives in Los Angeles with her husband Drew and her dog Stanley Tucci. She is a freelance hairstylist and makeup artist by trade, yoga and meditation teacher (in training), lover of all things food and coffee, and hopes to hear more about the shape of your soul one day. She is currently in a season of exploration, entering into the liminal spaces life has to offer as humbly and simply as she can manage (… mind you ‘she’ is writing this so perhaps the truth is a bit romanticized here). Most importantly she would love to hear from you, you can find her at: @kelseyzahn on social media or the-curated-life.com

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UAC 137 | Take Ownership

 

When things don’t go the way we expected them to be, it becomes so easy to get trapped into blaming others for it. It is time to look past that and back within ourselves. In this short episode, Thane Marcus Ringler talks about the rallying cry to take ownership and never settle. He empowers you to bring awareness to yourself, accepting full responsibility for what we do, and cultivate the ability to be disciplined. Only then will we find the things that truly propel us forward and express our greatest good for the world’s greatest need.

Listen to the podcast here:

Take Ownership And Never Settle

This is a podcast all about learning how to live a good life. We believe that it takes living with intention in the tension. If you’re like me, if you’re a human being, you face tensions in life and we believe the best way to face those tensions is with intentionality, infusing intention into all that we do. Welcome to this show, this community and this movement. You are an Up & Comer. If you are in the process of becoming, which we all are, you are an Up & Comer. Thanks for being a part of this movement.

UAC 137 | Take Ownership

 

I am excited to share some thoughts. Before I get there, I wanted to share a few ways that you can help us out. If you want to give back from helping our show, there are three easy ways. First is leaving a rating and review on iTunes. This is such a great way for our show to be seen by more people. If you can go to iTunes, it takes one minute. You can drop in a five-star rating and then drop a few comments and maybe I’ll read it on the show. Speaking of that, here’s a review that went live. This is from Bmulvs. He said, “A must-listen for driven Up & Comers,” five-star rating. “There are a lot of podcasts out there for ambitious young folks, but this one stands out above the noise. Thane delivers true value in every episode and brings on epic guests with great stories and advice to help drive change for the audience. A must listen.” Thanks, Bmulvs. That’s kind.

To lead others well, we first have to lead ourselves well Click To Tweet

If you want yours to be read, drop in that rating and review. The second way you can help us out is by sharing this episode or an episode you enjoyed. You can take a screenshot and post it on socials, tag us @UpandComersShow. We’d love to hear from you and love to reshare. If you want to send it to a couple of friends, that’s also a great way to share the messages. Finally, if you want to support us financially, we are on Patreon and we are actively looking for partners. If you have a business and are feel aligned and want to partner with us, send us an email at TheUpAndComersShow@Gmail.com. If you have any questions, comments or thoughts, we always love hearing from you, send us an email there as well.

UAC 137 | Take Ownership

 

Enough housekeeping for the day. I am excited to share a shorter episode by myself where I discuss a few things that I have been focused on over a couple of years and this is a two-part phrase that is taking ownership and never settle. What do these two phrases mean and why are they important to me? A few years of building out Thane Marcus, which is my brand and home base for all the work I’m doing it in, my emphasis and focus have continued to refine into simpler and clearer forms. While this process will continue in the years to come, there’s been some crystallization that’s already formed. The key focus for all that I do is the rallying cry for each individual to first take ownership and second, never settle.

We will never be able to make progress if we keep passing off blame to other people. Click To Tweet

These are catchy phrases and they sound good as a slogan, but what do they mean? That’s what I want to share with you. The simplest and most refined core of what these two rally cries entail is first, awareness and second, discipline. I believe that as we individually grow in these two areas, we will begin to have a positive impact on the people around us and produce a culture of growth within our communities by empowering others to do the same. To lead others well, we first have to lead ourselves well and that is the goal. Back to the rallying cry, the first part is taking ownership. It is all about awareness. It means that we are self-aware enough to discover and recognize the areas in our daily lives where we are not taking ownership of our thoughts, decisions or actions.

UAC 137 | Take Ownership

 

This relates but isn’t limited to excuses. We are all experts at excuses and making an excuse is the opposite of taking ownership. Taking ownership means that we will accept full responsibility for what we do. The reason behind this is because we will never be able to make progress if we keep passing off blame to other people. If what we do is always a result of others’ effect on us, then we won’t be able to direct ourselves toward the path we want to travel on or to live as a person we truly want to show up in the world as. Awareness is all about being good self observers so that we can be better at self-directing. We have to be good self-observers before we can be better self-directors.

Life is not meant to be easy. Purpose and meaning are found in the struggle, not through avoiding it. Click To Tweet

Taking ownership is also about delayed gratification. It is always harder to take ownership. It is much easier to shift the blame or justify our actions away. This feels like the best solution, but in the long run, it leads to a life of victimization. By taking full ownership, we sacrifice comfort in the moment for growth in the future. Discomfort means increased ability or aptitude in the future. Taking ownership will feel harder and less fun, but it will produce a better human down the road. Finally, taking ownership is tied to awareness because the first step is always recognition. If we don’t recognize the times we failed to take ownership, we will never begin to grow in it. Awareness and taking ownership go hand in hand.

UAC 137 | Take Ownership

 

The second part of the rallying cry is about never settling and never settle is all about discipline. Discipline is the ability to delay gratification to a future date or time. It is the ability to choose what you’re going to do regardless of how you feel about it. Even more, it is the ability to do something despite or in spite of how you feel in the moment is a practice, a habit, a muscle that you develop through repetition and ultimately through intention. A foundational purpose or reason for why you consistently choose discipline. Our natural default is to settle like water running downstream. Water will naturally move down the path of least resistance. This is true of us as humans. To go down the path of most resistance or even some resistance, we have to intentionally choose to do so.

By default, we will go with water down the path of least resistance and this is why choosing not to settle is another way to say being and pursuing discipline. By never settling, by living a disciplined life, we can begin to fully express our greatest good for the world’s greatest need. This looks different for each person, but the core of it remains the same. Making the choice to never settle, to pursue discipline and to embrace the harder path. That is what these two rally cries are ultimately about. That the path of most resistance is the path of most growth and that path is worth it. Life is not meant to be easy. Purpose and meaning are found in the struggle, not through avoiding it. As Up & Comers, my hope and prayer for all of us are to embrace a life that is characterized by us not perfectly but consistently taking ownership and never settling.

For those of you who are interested in developing these two areas of your life further, I am in the process of developing two online courses that will help individuals better embrace a lifestyle of discipline and awareness all while cultivating the habits and skills needed to do that. Stay tuned in the months ahead as I will be posting more updates on this. Once the courses are live, I would love for you to join me in this journey of learning how to live a good life by practicing it and living it out in real-time. Check out ThaneMarcus.com. You can also sign up for my newsletter there where you’ll get updates on all of these new arrivals and new releases that are coming out in the months ahead. I want us all to be committed to taking ownership and never settling, and we are on this journey together. Thanks for tuning in and I hope you have an Up & Coming week.

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UAC 136 | Perspectives On Relationships

 

Because of the differences in the way people live their lives, it’s natural that everyone will have differing perspectives on relationships. But from the easy to the hard, it’s undeniable that relationships are ultimately enriching parts of the human experience. Thane Marcus Ringler is joined by Gabe Conte and Chad Masters – both influencers as well as married men. Together, Thane, Gabe, and Chad do a roundtable on the enriching power of relationships whether you’ve been married a while, a newlywed, or just about to dive feet first into marriage.

Listen to the podcast here:

Gabe Conte And Chad Masters: Roundtable On Relationships, Marriage, And Being Men

This is a show all about learning how to live a good life. We believe that it takes living with intention in the tension. That is our catchy mantra because we believe that life is filled with many tensions. The best way to live in the middle of those tensions is with intentionality, infusing intention into all that we do. This show is about sharing stories from other people who are doing that and are learning about life in the process of becoming which we are all in as we hope to be lifelong learners and lifelong Up and Comers. There are few great ways you can help us out. If you enjoy this episode, please consider leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. This is a great way to help us out. The second great way is by sharing this episode on the socials. Take a screenshot of it on your phone, share it, and post it on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. Name it and tag us, @UpAndComersShow. We’d love to hear from you. If you want to support our show financially, we do have a Patreon. It’s a great way to support us with monthly donations. If you have a business that you’d like to partner together with, we are actively looking for partnerships. Send us an email to TheUpAndComersShow@Gmail.com.

To give a little shout out to one of our ratings and reviews, we had a review that said, “Great insight and inspiring. It is cool to know the guests on the show share their knowledge and inspiring advice. Thane does a great job asking questions that dive deep into what motivates people. I get motivated by reading the answers. I would recommend this to anyone feeling stuck or looking to get a roadmap by learning what others have gone through.” That is a sweet review. We’d appreciate it if you leave one as well. We’ll be reading another one next time. It is the fellowship episode, which is more peer-to-peer conversations, but it’s what I would call A Roundtable Fellowship episode, which is more than me and another person. There will be three of us.

In this episode, we’ve got Gabe Conte. Gabe is a YouTuber, influencers, entrepreneur, musician and actor. Gabriel Conte is an LA-based, 25-year-old living counter-culturally for the name of Jesus. He was born and raised in South Florida. He began his professional journey through the once-popular short-form video app, Vine, in his first year of college. Years later, he was able to transfer what he built into a professional digital entertainment career as an influencer YouTuber that ultimately led him to Los Angeles in the summer of 2015. Since then, Gabriel has continued to grow his following. He already has a wife, who he married in December 2016. He builds his career both in digital and traditional entertainment as an actor, musician, and entrepreneur. Through his entire journey, he never lost sight of the true reason for everything he was building and continuing to stay the course dedicated to his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Our second guest is Chad Masters. He’s a newlywed professional model, grad student and social media influencer, originally from Florida, but based in LA. He is expanding his reach of sharing the Gospel of Christ and what he defined as Gorilla Ministry, where he and his wife approached ways of sharing the gospel with a unique spin on it. Gabe and Chad have both been guests on the show before. Chad was on the show back on episode 99 and Gabe was on the show in episode 103. Those were awesome times with each of them, but this is a roundtable on relationships, on marriage, and on being men.

This is a fun three-way conversation where we get to dive into all things, relationships. It’s especially unique because Gabe has been married for several years. Chad has been married for about a year and I’m approaching that season. With that, it provides three different perspectives that we get to bounce off each other and talk about what’s been helpful, what we’ve learned from and other perspectives that we have on relationships, marriage and being men. This is one you’ll get a kick out of and enjoy and also hopefully, be encouraged and learn something from.

Gabe and Chad, welcome to the show again, round two.

Except we’re both here at this time.

It’s a roundtable round two.

UAC 136 | Perspectives On Relationships

 

I’m going to step off this track. It is like the Step Brothers of Prestige Worldwide.

We are here in the beautiful apartment that Chad is a leaser. I’m excited to dive in about all things relationships with you both because we’ve got to come to a nice little ladder. Several months for me in a relationship and engaged. Chad married for a year and Gabe married for several years and longer with dating as well on both those. I thought it’d be fun to gather up the homies and talk a little bit about what we’ve learned with relationships. What do you guys think?

I love marriage. It is great.

It is genuinely the best. I’m not saying that if you’re not married, you’re not experiencing the best, but we love it. It gets a bad track record from movies, magazines or the way people share about it. My wife and I want to be a voice that marriage is great.

To piggyback what you’re saying, there’s a season for singleness as well. I remember before I got into a relationship with Jess. You want to be in a relationship and there are that constant drive and desire for love that you want, but that season of singleness allows you to focus a lot on yourself. Not in a selfish way, but your relationship with God, your work, your passions and your friendships. There’s something beneficial for this season of singleness that I went through before Jess came in the picture, which helps me become a better husband. That’s something I’m an advocate for.

Here’s a question for both of you guys. This is something that I think about often because I have friends in all different life stages. One thing that I wonder is how much singleness is too much singleness? How much individuality do you get to a point where you start to build habits that are maybe not the best to bring into the marriage? For you, you’re getting married super young. It’s great because you get to become who you are together versus someone who’s been single longer or been dating around a little bit longer. They’re becoming more of who they are as single and alone outside of marriage. I do wonder at what point are there diminishing returns on growth in that singleness season for the buzzword? I wonder, if there is a point when it’s almost hurtful if you are looking for marriage? It’s something that I do think about because Tori and I got married when I was 28. You got married when you’re 22. I was six years older and I’ve lived in many different countries or states. Marriage has been such a reflection of some of the stuff that you’re not very proud of. Tori and I were talking like, “If you’re not taking care of your skin, you can look in the mirror and you can see the reflection on your skin.”

You’re a tomato when you don’t put on the sunscreen.

You can see the effects. When I’m not taking good care of her, I can see it reflected back to me. What’s been interesting is, me, getting married a little bit later in life, I’ve seen how much more selfishness I’ve brought to it and the deep habits. I would love to know your opinion on that.

It’s both ends. Most answers in life are in the gray, which is yes and no. With singleness, it is interesting that the longer you go live as a single person, the more you know yourself, which is helpful. That’s not always true, that’s a generalization. If you do the work, you know yourself better. When you’re coming into a relationship, you’re merging two lives, which are already known in a sense versus discovering them together. That is a big difference. That’s why it’s harder to find a fit or someone that you feel compatible with later on. I don’t think that means it’s better or worse. I think it’s a different journey.

UAC 136 | Perspectives On Relationships

 

It’s definitely different because on the flip side of it, which I am agreeing with you, people who are a little bit older, they have more grounding of who they are. They know what they’re willing to accept and not accept. Maybe it can be easier for them to date because they take someone out for coffee and they hear some things, they cut it right then and there. They already know who they are and the other person will probably know who they are because they are a little bit older. They have their standards. They commit and they move with it. Whereas, I think a fear of getting married younger can be, “Have you figured out who you are?” What happens when you turn 30 and you’re like, “Who am I? I never did this. I never did that.” That side of it too which can be almost a negative for getting married young. That’s something I think about because I wish I could have married my wife at twenty. I would have many more years of experience with her, but would I be the same person I am? I don’t know.

You wouldn’t because it’s a different path.

It’s so gray. Even looking at the Bible, there’s someone like Paul who was single, but he did so much for the Kingdom of God. I do believe that some people are called to be single. They’re especially picked by God to have a huge effect on the Kingdom of God, which I think is noble. I couldn’t do it. As far as the timeline thing of whether you are single for longer or shorter, whether you get married when you’re older or younger. Whatever it may be, it is such a gray area. Chad, you compared to me, you didn’t find your relationship with God until way later in life. That affected your growth as a Christian, your maturity there, and when you were ready to get married. I grew up with Jesus in my life the whole time, so this was a different path.

That’s is generally true. The most important caveat is that each path can be what’s best for you. That helps us hold it with an open hand knowing that it looks like, “I don’t have the answer for you. I may have an answer that’s generally true and that may be helpful, but for your situation and who you are, there’s a unique path and there’s wisdom that we can apply.” It is a personal journey, which that gray thing.

It got in my head when Gabe mentioned Paul, do you know what scripture that is where basically Paul was saying that it’s better to be single?

I don’t remember the exact place it in, but Paul was an advocate for singleness. Jesus was obviously single. What would Jesus have been like in a marriage? That’s something that I’ve been thinking about.

He is married to the church.

It’s interesting to think about him as a husband and what role or how that would have looked like. Obviously, the body is the bride and Jesus is the groom. That’s the illustration that he fulfilled. Tim Keller had a good sermon series on this based on his book, The Meaning of Marriage. He talked about how you see God’s design and creation with a man being created of nothing, but it wasn’t complete. He had to make a woman out of man, which is showing that that’s the completion of God in man and woman. It says that in Genesis. They complete each other, but they aren’t required to be a whole human, which is an interesting concept.

Marriage is refined communication that stems from a place of truly loving your partner. Click To Tweet

I read that. It was one of the last days in January in that devotional, but it was mentioned that in terms of how it is exactly what you’re saying about the whole complimenting versus completing. The way that whenever God saw a man was unfit to be alone, he made him a helper. Clearly, if a man needs a helper, there are things he can’t do and there are things that a woman is made to do that man can’t. They help each other. That was a cool thing that I didn’t realize until later into my first year of marriage. I’ve been married for so long.

You are an experienced, seasoned husband.

It was a thing for me. I wasn’t looking at my wife as someone who’s going to be adding a ton of things that I can’t do. Don’t get me wrong. I’m cherishing her and I love what she has added to my life, but I wasn’t looking at her as the beautiful, unique creation that’s made for things that I can’t do to help me with certain things and me help her with her. That helped me create a deeper love for her, which I thought was interesting because I was only looking at her through my own man’s eyes versus the way God saw her in creating her. I’ve seen her the way I created in my own head.

This gets me to a sweet question I’m curious to know you guys on, what are your learnings most in your marriage?

It’s refined communication that stems from a place of fully loving Jess as best as I can. I’m learning how much more I need to communicate. That’s different than talking because we talk all the time, day in and day out. It is communicating on an emotional level, even about our schedules. It all needs to stem from a place of love, where I want our relationship to be the best. I care for her and I want the best for her. Therefore, I’m going to openly communicate about everything, the good and the bad. I’ll be open about the mistakes I’m making and she’s open about mistakes she’s making or whatever it is. We’ll have that open form of communication between each other and in our household that is fully rooted in love.

I would love to piggyback off of that. I tend to default as a husband as someone who, “I’m committed to before romance.” Even when if I’m not feeling it, I’m going to pursue because of my covenant with my wife and underneath God. I tend to fall on that side of the spectrum. Other people tend to fall more on the, “I’m not feeling loved,” spectrum which is totally okay. I tend to fall on the side of, “Even if I’m not feeling it, I’m committed to certain things.” God has been hooking it up. To piggyback off the communication thing that you said. Tori and I were sitting right on this couch and we had a very uncomfortable conversation. It was an hour and a half long. We were talking about exactly what you’re saying. This is like, “This is the way I felt when you said that or when you did that.” We both were sharing and willing to receive the correction or the notes. This is where it gets awkward. We felt connected after that conversation. There were times when we were sitting next to each other with our arms crossed, we could tell we were closed off. We don’t want to hear those things.

God made me feel special because I got to voice the stuff that I was concerned with. She did the same thing for me. I thought it was going to cause a problem, but it ended up bringing us so much closer. I started to feel it was no longer the duty of, “I need to do what’s best for our marriage.” I started to feel more connected and more intimate with her. That’s one thing that I want to dive into. Being more open to the feelings because I had seen some of my friend’s marriages. I’m not knocking them at all, but I saw that it could be difficult in a lot of ways. I saw that they were bringing a lot of themselves to it. For me, I wanted to be very careful to not bring too much of that selfish Chad to it because I am very selfish in a lot of ways. I’ve been proactive. I started denying any feelings. I’ve started to suppress them and that wasn’t good for me. It was good for our marriage in a way because I’m not walking around saying, “Do this.” I’m not like my feelings are controlling our relationship, but I think I’m getting to a safe place where I’m excited to feel the love languages in action, receive them, and share them. That was a really sweet thing that God did for us.

UAC 136 | Perspectives On Relationships

 

It was cool to know because that’s something that is pretty true across the board, especially for men. Talking about our feelings and being open and honest, especially in a relationship. It is something that I’ve been learning a ton about. One of the things that’s come to my mind a lot is that if it’s going to work, you have to do the work, anything. A successful friendship takes work and you do the work because you want to be friends. How much more so a marriage, your wife and a relationship? There are times where I went through a season where I was suppressing feelings. It’s like, “Don’t feel that. Don’t think that. Change that,” versus communicating it. That’s not helpful for the marriage in the long run. It may be helpful for the relationship in the short run, but it doesn’t do the work of deepening it and making it more unified and whole and connected in the long run. In my shorter time, I’ve experienced some of that, which is that opening up about your feelings is painful and hard at the moment. That’s the work that’s needed to get to where you need to be, where you know each other in the deepest, most intimate way.

Those moments are what caused couples to argue. That’s why when I was explaining my side of it, I wanted to solidify the approach of love. You have to understand what the end goal is. For Jess and I, the end goal is until death do us part. Because I want us to have a healthy marriage, I don’t want us to be on bad terms. We have to have this conversation, how do I best approach that so that we stay on good terms, even though this is such a sensitive issue that we’re having? You have to approach it tactfully and lovingly. I have to approach it with Jesse’s best interest in my mind rather than my own. I’m very selfish and it takes a lot for me to be able to do that. I always have to keep myself in check in that regard.

This is something that Tori and I talked about during that conversation. We’ve been learning to not take things personally. I’ve been encouraging her to talk. I’ll give you a little example. There are times I’m in traffic in Los Angeles and I’m not happy. I’m sure I’m the only one who’s ever experienced that in my life. It’ll all get frustrated. One of the things that I’ve had to talk to Tori about was that I’m getting frustrated and then something happens and then I lash out at her. She receives it as a personal attack. I’m not justifying my lash out because I was sending in my anger there. She then starts to feel disconnected from me and then it starts to go downhill from there. One thing I’ve tried to help her understand that, “Whenever I do have those moments, I’m not mad at you. I’m just mad. I’m not happy.” Whenever we’re having that conversation was to receive some of those things and not take them personally because we’re on the same team.

Our end goal is until death do us part. It does not bode well for me to purposefully or intentionally upset my wife. Why would I ever want to do that? I live with her. If she’s able to look at me as if I have the best intentions and to assume the best in what I’m trying to do, I’m going to fall short all the time. If she is able to assume that I’m not trying to personally attack her or offend her with maybe a comment here and there or that conversation we had. What’s helping us is to revise that marriage is a sanctifying process. We’re being made more into the image of Christ. We’re justified but we’re being sanctified. Whenever we’re able to look at each other as imperfect people who are going to have slip-ups here and there. Have you guys seen that super cheesy Christian movie called the War Room?

I haven’t seen any yet.

We’ve watched the movie 30 times and we definitely recommend it. One of the big themes of the movie is to know who the real enemy is. Your spouse is not your enemy. They are being affected either by their environment or their upbringing or maybe they’re having a hard time. It could even be being attacked spiritually. When you realize that you’re on the same team and you both commit to that, you’ll be like, “We’re in this together. I’m not trying to personally attack you here.” That’s helped us a lot because it’s able to help us be more open about our feelings and to share more like what you and Jess have been doing. That really helped us.

Partner is something that we’ve been talking a lot about. This is your partner and you want to be on the same team with your partner and build each other up versus tear each other down. I love that know who the real enemy is. That’s a great way to frame it for ourselves and learning not to take things personally is always hard, regardless of if that’s a marriage or in life. We become better humans when we do that. For both of you, what’s taking you the longest to learn in marriage?

It’s the thing I’ve struggled with the most. There are things that I still haven’t clicked on. Do you guys know the whole love language? Hers is physical touch. It’s funny because as we were getting married, we took the test and we learned that she was Physical Touch and I’m Quality Time. After we got married, we have so much of that physical touch and we have so much quality time because we live and we work together. She’s Words of Affirmation and I’m Acts of Service. It’s changed.

It’s a quiz that you answer, but as you know yourself more and you go back and answer those questions, they might change because you’re more aware of something in your personality than you were before.

UAC 136 | Perspectives On Relationships

 

I do such a poor job at loving her the way she wants to be loved. I’ll love her the way I want to be loved. It’s obnoxious. We all bring a present home. She doesn’t want presents. I will put my phone away and we’re having quality time. We were watching a TV show, “This is great. I’m loving her.” I’ll do these different things and she doesn’t receive them that way. That’s not a fault of her at all. Even during this conversation, I am reminding myself like, “Chad, you need to look at her for the way that she wants to receive love and show her with it.” Not just pour some sugar up, but to overflow her cup with that. That’s something that’s not clicking. I don’t know, but I know.

You’re working on it. I’m going to piggyback you with my answer. That same thing is learning the other person’s love language because Jess is Quality Time. When we took the test, it ranks them with numbers you can get. The highest ones are usually around 12 or 13. If you have a low one, it’s 2 or 3. Jess’ Quality Time was thirteen. When I took the test, mine was two. When we looked at that, it opened our eyes. I was sitting there and I was like, “This makes sense. I know what I need to work on.” It’s still a struggle. It’s not like I’m snapped into being the perfect husband because I know her love language. I am Words of Affirmation. I was always like, “I love you, this and that,” Whatever I like to say, I say things and I’m like, “I’m awesome. I’m the greatest husband.” It’s the quality time that I need to be focusing on, which I don’t naturally do. I have to learn then it can cause a thing if I’m not spending the quality time with her that she needs. It’s funny because we work together too and we spent so much time together, but that’s not the quality time that she wants. Even though we spent the whole day and we’ve been working together, at the end of the day, she wants us to cook dinner together, put the phones away, sit on the couch, talk, and catch up on our feelings. She wants that quality time where I’m like, “I’m checking out.” It’s learning our spouse’s love language.

We both took it and it’s interesting. My answers were all based on the experience so far. It wasn’t based on what’s at my core, it is based on what have I experienced because I was pretty much across the board pretty even. The highest was seven which is giving gifts. I was like, “What in the world?” She was like, “I don’t know if I’ve given you any gifts. You haven’t felt loved by me.” I’m like, “I don’t think that’s right.” I think the reason that is because we’ve been distant. It’s not like an active part of our lives. I have my doubts about how much it gets to the core of a love language, but it speaks more to the situation we’re in and the time we’re in, which can be useful. It’s a tool in that sense.

It is hard to understand another human in an intimate, deep way that marriage requires in some senses. That’s what you guys are both talking. It was showing grace to the other person, as much as they show grace to you. Especially, it’s true for me, as a distance. We have to show even more grace and forgiveness to each other than any other season because it’s hard to stay connected. It’s hard to fully understand what each other needs or wants in situations because you’re not even in the same location. We have to emphasize how can we show grace to each other. We both don’t do a great job with that all the time. It’s true even on a daily level for you. Even when you live together, if you’re working together or something comes up, if you’re apart for a day, you still have to show yourself and each other grace in that which is a practice.

I have a question for you, guys. I’m flipping the question around, has there been a time or an experience where you’re trying to help them understand something about you? For example, I was sharing how I feel disconnected from her love languages because I don’t need those. I’m trying to come around to better understand her, but where have you had to try to help her understand you? I’ll give you an example. Tori and I were filming a video. We were talking about the most surprising thing about marriage for each other. This has been her answer since we’ve been dating pretty much. She was shocked by how much alone time I need. She was sharing on the video that whenever I would want to be alone, I would wake up super early and come out on the couch. I wouldn’t have those morning cuddles, which she loves because Physical Touch is her love language. I’ll be on a couch and she would feel rejected.

She wasn’t looking at it from a standpoint of how can she bless me with alone time because I’m what you call an extroverted introvert. I love my alone time. I get recharged. It’s the best, but she looked at it as if, “Are we disconnecting? Are we off? Are we not okay? Should we talk?” It was funny because I’m out here getting ready for marriage and she was receiving it as if I’m avoiding her. I’m not saying she’s wrong because I probably should’ve communicated like, “I need some downtime to charge the batteries.” I could have communicated that better. We’ve had to work through that to help her see that she’s blessed me by giving me 30 minutes where I need time to collect myself.

I 100% agree with that because I’m like that too. That morning you come out a little early. It’s still dark. You sip on your coffee, you read the word, and you’re spending time with God like that. It’s the best. It is the time that you get to recharge in that moment in the morning and get ready for the day.

Has Jess struggled with that?

She’s like that too. I think she’s learned to cherish those alone moments, especially since we spend every second together since we work together. It hasn’t been caused a tiff between us, but something that I’ve had to help her understand. It’s the mirror image of what we were talking with I’m trying to learn and understand her love language, her giving to me the words of affirmation. I can’t speak about it because it’s not announced yet, but there’s a project I’ve been working on where I felt like she was unhappy with me about the whole thing. I was like, “Why do you hate that I’m doing this? I’m trying to work on something. Is it because we’re not working on it together?” I was like, “Why are you angry with me?” She was like, “I’m not.” I was like, “What are you talking about? You’re not saying anything about it.”

If you have such high expectations, no one, not even your spouse, can please you. Click To Tweet

She wasn’t giving you words, so you see it as negative.

She wasn’t constantly encouraging me about it. We were aware of our love languages and stuff like that so it opened the conversation of, “I need something. Tell me I’m doing a good job.” It’s an equal opposite.

What about you, Thane?

For us, it’s a unique journey in the sense that it’s been a shorter sprint in some senses. It’s a distance. It elevates a lot of different things including fear. We both have fears like we all do as humans. At times, when you’re disconnected, those fears get elevated. When there are misunderstandings, the thing that I want most for both of us is that we assume the best out of the other person in those moments. That’s something that takes time as you build trust, but that’s what I would say, I’ve been trying to emphasize that’s what I desire.

That is also somewhat specific to men. Out of what men value, they value respect, probably more than almost anything out of their significant other or their spouse. This is from different books I’ve read, and these are generalizations, but oftentimes, a woman wants unconditional love that is constant. Their complimentary core needs there. Most of what we look for stems from that, probably. For me, it has been assuming the best, even in misunderstandings so that we can work through things in a healthier way because it’s a battle working through things sometimes.

Do you care if I close up one loose end that I forgot to talk about when I asked you a question earlier? Remember when I asked you about that verse where Paul said, “If you’re married, you serve two people, you serve God and your spouse.” One thing I wanted to share about that is I totally get it. There are times when I would rather have two hours of quiet time, prayer and intercession for my friends. There are times I want that but I do need to make sure that we’re working on things or I’m cooking her breakfast or whatever that is. There is a split sometimes, but the way that Tori and I have gone about it has been great. We heard this talk once by Rich Wilkerson Jr. He said, “Marriage is either your biggest asset or your greatest liability.” We are championing each other’s strengths and who God is making us to be, we feel like we’re both serving God together. We don’t feel like we’re serving two masters. We feel like we’re serving one master by loving each other correctly. That’s the way he received that. It’s been fun to feel connected and to feel like whenever I’m serving my wife, I’m serving God. It’s like in that sermon with Pastor Josh, Colossians 3:23, “Work hard and work hardest for God and not for man.” I feel that even my marriage, a lot of my desire to love my wife is because God’s given me that.

That goes along with worshiping God because, in culture, we think so much of worshiping God as singing songs before the sermon. Where worshiping God is pleasing him in every aspect and facet of your life. One is in your marriage and treating your wife right. If it stems from the place of, “I need to do right by God, to love my wife.” It is the same with work. It is the same with every single aspect of your life that needs to be worked at extremely hard because it is a form of worship towards God.

I’ve heard worship defined before as what you do in response to what God has done. I love that.

The other verse has been a lot of getting dive into that. Mark 10:45 has been on my mind. It came up as, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” If God can come and serve and not be served, that’s the least we can do, especially in our marriage. That’s been something that I’ve been reminding myself of. It’s funny is this concept of dying to self. God’s story is all about death and rebirth. Renewal and new life. You see that through salvation, through marriage, and in little moments all throughout our lives. It’s like we’re constantly, “How can I die to myself deeper, further, more to become alive to this new redeemed, better version?” That’s the work that God’s constantly doing. It happens with salvation at a point, but then it happens continually deeper and deeper. In my perspective, marriage is an amplifier and constant help in that process.

UAC 136 | Perspectives On Relationships

 

For me, going on that talk track, I was thinking about my wife because a lot of the time, she wants to feel that romantic desired love. I tend to fall on that side. That’s very much like, “I love you because I love you.” There’s nothing I can do that would make God love me more than he already does. That’s the way I try to love my wife. It’s not your attributes that are making me love you, but she also wants to feel desired. She doesn’t want it to feel like it’s an obligation. I’ve been struggling in that tight rope of how do I help her feel good about herself and desired? I was joking with a friend and we’re talking about relationships and stuff. He’d said that he wants a woman for the five Hs. He wants them to be holy, healthy, hot, horny and happy. I was like, “That’s awesome because I have all of those in my wife.” I’m jacked about it. I think where we get in trouble by looking at someone as if what they’re offering us, are they the five Hs? Do they look, talk and worship a certain way? It’s all about what we’re getting from our spouse versus what we’re giving to our spouse.

My best friend, Anthony, said to me one time before I was married. We’re at a pizza joint in Tampa, Florida. He said, “Chad, marriage isn’t for you.” I’m like, “Anthony, chill. The Bachelors called me thirteen times to be on show. I’m an eligible one. What do you mean by that?” He was like, “You don’t marry someone for the way that they make you feel. You marry someone for the way you want to make them feel.” When you look at those five Hs I mentioned, what if that girl isn’t always healthy? What if she’s not always holy? What if she’s not always happy? You don’t have the right to unloved her.

What if she’s not always horny?

That too. It’s a real thing. It’s great to talk about what to look for in a spouse, but I also think it’s equally important to think about what you want to offer the spouse, which is this self-sacrificing.

To piggyback off of you, when you’re saying like, “You love her because you love her.” It should enable you to want to fill those desires that she has because you love her. They piggyback each other in a way, which is a cool way of looking at it. Because quality time isn’t my love language, I don’t feel like spending quality time with Jess. Because I love her, I know that I need to spend that time with her because I know it’ll make her feel loved.

That’s a great way to put it because I was always looking at it like a tight rope, where I’m trying to do both but in the wrong way.

They complement each other.

It’s almost by knowing and loving her because I love her, I will seek to love her the way that she desires to be loved.

God loves us because he loves us, but he’s also going to fill our every desire and our every need.

UAC 136 | Perspectives On Relationships

 

There is a great quote by Millard Fuller. He said, “It’s a lot easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than to think your way into a new way of acting.” A lot of times we think, since love is a choice, it also at times is a feeling. When the feeling is not there, we have to choose to make the choice regardless of how we feel. I think that’s been one I’m re-preaching myself because that’s what then leads to the connection, the support, or the love that our spouse or partner needs. I also had a conversation about this with a friend.

He said that he was talking about one of his friends who was dating a girl like, “I was dating a girl. She was 90% or 95% of what I’m looking for and this other girl is the other 10%.” What struck me was I think a much healthier way to think about this is you have 50% and someone else’s 50%. How can you find that 100% that you’re looking for because you don’t have 100%? You’re looking for someone. Why are you assuming that you have 100%, then someone else you know is supposed to match your 100%? That’s not how it works.

Keep your expectations low and then your significant other will surprise you. If you have such high expectations, no one’s going to please you. Not your friends, not your family, not your spouse or your girlfriend, your job, anything. It’s going to be miserable because you’re going to be on your high horse with these high expectations and everything’s going to disappoint you. Where if you have low expectations because people are human and are not perfect, we sin and fail at so much every day and you’re aware of that, you’re going to be able to forgive, to love, and ultimately understand where people are coming from.

I totally agree with that. I heard a sermon once that there are certain things you should expect in a relationship. I’ve learned a lot by what you’ve said because I think that’s what helps me not take things personally in my marriage. By realizing that I’m not expecting her to be this girl on this pedestal that I’ve put her there. She’s not asking to be up in that thing, but I put her up there. When she falls off, I’m upset because she’s fallen off to something that she didn’t even ask the beyond. That’s not fair.

I heard a sermon once that was cool was, “You cannot expect what you do not express.” I think for me, one thing, when you are going to have expectations in a relationship like, “I expect you to not cheat on me.” There are certain things that are healthy. It’s good to express those things because if you are walking around assuming that the person knows that expectation, then you’re setting them up to fail. You invited them to play a game that they don’t even know that they’re playing. Can you imagine coming over to a friend’s house and then like, “We’re playing Catan,” and you’re not mentally prepared. I need to be mentally prepared to play Catan because there’s going to be some words exchanged. It’s a game that I have to be like, “Am I going to ruin this friendship?”

One other thing that was curious about from you guys was speaking to us as men, what have you guys seen or found within us? What are some of the core weaknesses that we uniquely struggle with as men?

We don’t think about their feelings. We’re selfish.

This is my opinion. I do think men have the ability to push out emotions and push through things. There are times when Tori and I will be working together. Sometimes you had an argument that morning and you’re not wanting to work together. I can shut it off and perform. She needs me to sit down and hear her out before she can work together because she needs to feel connected. I’m not saying one’s right or wrong, but I need to do a better job of understanding that she can’t shut it off as I can. I don’t think it’s healthy for me to shut it off.

Men have the ability to push out emotions and push through things. Click To Tweet

It’s the same with us as well.

I’m reading a book called Under Saturn’s Shadow. It’s fascinating.

If I’m walking in a bookstore and I’m in the adult section because I’m mature and then I see a book called Under Saturn’ Shadow, I’ll be like, “How were you recommended this book?”

It was because he’s mature.

It was on some podcasts. I heard it recommended once or twice so I put it to my list. It sounded fascinating and I eventually got it. It’s about the wounding of men and the necessary journey that men travel on. It speaks to the lack of a rite of passage for men in society, which is very true. A lot of in past cultures or societies, there was a lot of healthier initiation from boys to men that our culture doesn’t have in any form. For women, there are some semblances that plugged into the whole becoming of age with puberty.

There’s some of that that naturally happens that’s different for women than men. Nonetheless, it’s a fascinating discussion on how can we help boys become men and how can we move through the necessary departure from what he calls the mother complex, which is a dependency on your family a lot of times and your upbringing. It’s an interesting overview, but it’s made me think a lot about as men, how we can overcome some of what the culture has prescribed as masculinity that’s helpful or not helpful? How can we express what God has designed us to live out as men?

You answered that yourself before when you said acting away in a new way of thinking versus thinking your way into a new way of acting. Within Christianity, there’s so much that men take away that’s good for them as a person to better themselves become a better person in society, a better husband, a better friend. All of those things are baked into Christianity, but you don’t naturally act your way into thinking that way. You’ve changed over time in your way of thinking of how however it happens. Jesus creeps his way in. Your mind starts beginning to change on a lot of those subjects. Your Bible is a guide to change the way you act, which I think is something that is missing because our culture is on this crazy path. The culture and society itself are changing the way men act because you want to be accepted and you want to act like everyone else to be accepted. That changes the way you think about things.

I totally agree with what you guys are saying because I was listening to a talk by Tim Keller and he was talking about how beneficial marriage is for both spouses. I’ll give two quick examples of each situation. Men tend to be less agreeable than women. The thing is when men enter into a relationship and/or marriage, they’re challenged with starting to agreeing more. They need to be a team. They need to work it. They need to co-parent. They need to do these things. It challenges men in a way where they’re becoming better for society by becoming more agreeable. Even for women, studies, statistics and all that stuff have shown that women who are married and have sexual relations with that one spouse will, have a healthier and more satisfying sex life than the woman who isn’t. This is not me making this up. These studies are showing this. It’s funny how marriage can challenge you and offer you things that make you into a better person and a more fulfilling life. That’s what’s written and people were like, “That’s a book of rules.” Whenever you look at the way people are experiencing these things, you’re seeing that society’s flourishing because of it. People are feeling more fulfilled and people are feeling more connected to others because of it.

It’s a sweet mechanism. There’s no denying the design and the intent in that, which is pretty powerful to see and experience is way more powerful. It’s a beautiful thing. We could talk forever about this and this has been sweet and there’s so much to learn and to be learned from each other, from this journey and this experience. I want to end with a random one-off that I thought would be fun. This is an interesting question. If you did not have to sleep, how would you spend the extra eight hours? What would you do with eight extra hours a day?

The first thing that came to my mind was I would have more fun. You guys have heard it before, but the top three things that people say on their death bed are the people wish they would have spent more time with their family. They would have worked less and they would have a stress-less. Because I try to spend a significant number of hours in my day working as some type of creative aspect, I would definitely try to enjoy it more that way as I do get to that point in my life, I’m not looking back with regret.

I agree with that, but then realistically looking at it, not that you didn’t look at it realistically. That would be the norm if people didn’t have to sleep. Ratio-wise, we’d be doing the same things we’re doing in sixteen hours that we’d be doing it in 24 hours. Instead of the 8 or 9-hour workday, you’d have your 11 to 12-hour workday. Everything that you’re doing would be extended.

I recant my answer. If I didn’t sleep, I would probably try to sleep because I love to sleep that I value it.

We value it because we have to sleep.

I don’t have to work out, but I do because it’s fun. It’s like getting to a paralytic state and just laying there.

I wrote a blog post about asymmetry in life. I wonder how we’d be as humans if we didn’t have to sleep because it helps us put us in our place of like, “We don’t run the world. We’re not the center of the universe because we have to sleep. That’s something we’re dependent on. It’s out of our control.” The other is like, “We only sleep for eight hours and we’re awake for the rest of 24 so that’s not symmetrical. It’s not balanced.” It shows us that life isn’t balanced too, which is interesting. All that to say is I’m glad and I’m thankful for sleep.

I wish I would have appreciated it when I was younger. I feel like I missed out on several good years where I had opportunities to sleep. You don’t have the time and you’re like trying to crunch in and get a good night’s sleep.

If you had to give one piece of relational or marriage advice, what would your little nugget be to close on?

The advice I always give to any couples or anyone who’s entering a new relationship or they’re about to get married is to keep your expectations low.

For me, I love this quote that, “God doesn’t have a perfect person for you, but he does have a person that’s perfect for you.” As you’re pursuing marriage or pursuing whatever, I would encourage you to realize that marriage takes work, but it shouldn’t feel like it. As you find someone, I would encourage you to be ready to put in some late nights and hard hours. Tori and I aren’t always having conversations as we shared about, but you have to be so open to that. When you find someone who’s willing to commit to you and work at it and grow with you, you’re going to change. Marriage is going to change you. I’m different than what I was when we first started dating. She’s embraced that change and I’ve embraced the way she changes. When you find someone who’s willing to embrace the changes that you’re going through, lock it down. Quit living in that ether of, “Are they the right person or not? Are they committed to you?” If so, then sign the paper, get married.

Keep expectations low and there isn’t a perfect person, but there’s a person who is perfect for you. Gents, this has been awesome. Thanks again for coming on. Until next time, I hope this has been fun for the readers. We hope you have an Up and Coming week because we out.

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About Gabe Conte

UAC 136 | Perspectives On RelationshipsYouTuber, Influencer, Entrepreneur, Musician, and Actor, Gabriel Conte is an LA-based 25-year-old living counter-culturally for the name of Jesus. Born and raised in South Florida he began his professional journey through the once-popular, short-form video app, Vine in his first year of college. Two years later he was able to transfer what he build info a professional, digital entertainment career as an influencer/YouTuber that led him to Los Angeles in the summer of 2015.

Since then, Gabriel has continued to grow his follow with his now wife who he married in December 2016 and build his career both in digital and traditional entertainment as an actor, musician, and entrepreneur. Through his entire journey He never lost site of the true reason for everything he was building and continued to stay the course, dedicated to his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

About Chad Masters

UAC 136 | Perspectives On RelationshipsChad is a 20-something newlywed, professional model, grad student and social media influencer.

Originally from Florida, but based in LA he is expanding his reach of sharing the Gospel of Christ in what he likes to define as ‘guerrilla ministry’, where he and his wife approach ways of sharing the gospel with a unique spin on it!

 

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UAC 135 | Asking The Right Qestions

 

Asking yourself the right questions can generate your greater purpose in your life and in the lives of others. Today, Thane Marcus Ringler talks to Danezion Mills, an active member in Good City Mentors, about how the organization is helping him touch the lives of young men as was done for him at the same age. Together, they get down on many different topics – from Danezion’s own story, structure and creativity and how those two mingle, and culture shock and the differences among different cultures, to the power of asking the right question. An incredible singer, Danezion also talks about music and how it speaks to the soul. Be inspired with this episode as you learn more about his upbringing and different childhood traumas, and how he worked through those.

Listen to the podcast here:

Danezion Mills: Just Keep Going: How The Right Question Sparked A Story Of Perseverance Through The Power Of Community

This is a show all about learning how to live a good life, which we believe takes living with intention in the tension. Life is filled with many tensions that we get the chance to walk in the midst of daily, which we believe intentionality is the key to doing that well. Thank you for being a part of the Up and Comers community and being a fellow Up and Comer on this journey. We’re glad you’re here. We couldn’t do this show without you. There are three easy ways to give back to help us keep producing this show. The first way is leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. That would be such a great way for us to be found by more people. Another awesome way is simply sharing this episode. You could text this link to a couple of friends that you think would benefit from it or you could take a screenshot and tag us on any social media platform, @UpAndComersShow. We love to hear from you. Finally, if you wanted to support us financially, we have a Patreon available. You can also potentially partner with us if you have a company or a business and you would like to spread the good work that you’re doing. Send us an email, TheUpAndComersShow@Gmail.com. If you have any thoughts, comments, questions or concerns, always feel free to reach us by email. We love hearing from you guys.

On the show, we have interviews where we dive deep into someone’s story. We have fellowship episodes where we have peer-to-peer conversations. They’re a little shorter and more topical and there are also solo episodes where I will dive into a subject that I’m learning a lot about in my own life. This is an episode with Danezion Mills. He was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. He is a first-generation graduate from Texas State with his BFA in acting and is moved to LA to pursue his dream. He began acting in high school while playing football. He met some amazing people on his football team as well as in some of his theater performances. Those people in their families helped him throughout high school and college after he decided to leave his mother’s house to pursue a better opportunity during his early high school years.

Having all of these outside resources helped him along the way and inspired him to pay it forward. He is an active member of Good City Mentors, which is helping him touch the lives of young men as was done for him at the same age days. He has been a part of projects like Buried the Backyard. It has several other projects in the works. He wants to be an actor to enable the work he is doing in Good City Mentors even more. He is an amazing man. He is an inspiring guy with an incredible story. In this episode, we cover many different topics from his own story, including structure and creativity and how those mingle.

We talk about music and how it speaks to the soul. He’s an incredible singer. We talk about his upbringing and different childhood traumas and working through those. We talk about culture shock and differences among different cultures. We talk about gaining advocates, the power of asking the right question, living outside your circumstances, acting and much more. I met Danezion through Good City Mentors. I’m grateful for his heart, his life and the way that he does pay it forward and speaks into the next generation. I know that this episode will be encouraging and inspiring for you. He’s overcome a lot already in his life and I’m excited to see what’s ahead.

Danezion Mills, welcome to show.

Thanks for having me.

This is going to be a fun combo. I’ve been looking forward to this ever since we met and I learned of the many skills you possess, including one of the best voices around. What was your favorite genre to sing? Do you have a favorite genre?

It’s R&B, 100%.

Who’s the inspiration there?

Donell Jones. It’s funny, when I was a kid, the first time that I ever sang in front of my grandmother was Donell Jones and she looked at me like, “Wow.” After that moment I was like, “I’m going to want to be a singer. That something I want to do in life.” I made her happy. It filled the room.

UAC 135 | Asking The Right Questions

Asking The Right Questions: Music brings redemption to the broken.

 

How old were you when that first happened? 

I was in the fourth grade.

Before that, did you know that you were a good singer?

When I was in the second grade, I remember singing in a choir and we were messing around. My choir teacher heard me sing and she was like, “You can sing? We have a choir class. Do you want to come to the choir?” I was like, “Yes, sure.” I did. I was in the choir from second grade until I graduate high school.

Would you say that the choir experience gave you a little bit of a framework for your voice as a singer or was it naturally there?

What’s interesting is in a way, and this might be me, but with me and structure throws me off a little bit. It took away from my creativity. If I say, “I’ve got more of a structure, more support and the basics,” as far as you, people, church riffs went away from me, which is interesting. For years, I’ve been trying to get that back. How do I find that creativity and color in my voice?

That is fascinating because there’s such a trade-off in structure and creativity. We have to have some semblance of structure to create anything but if you have too much structure then we start feeling like we’re restricted and can’t create anything. It’s an interesting balance. Especially in California with sports, people grow up and you can pick your sport and play all year round. Get training coaching at age five. That’s a lot of these kids that grow up with this overemphasis on training, structure, technique and it hurts them more than it helps them. There’s such a beauty in that. The same with me on golf. I wasn’t about golf lessons, swing lessons, I was going out there and feeling my swing and trying to figure it out and be creative with it. It produced better results for me. That’s probably true for most people now. Speaking of creativity, I heard there was a story whereas a kid you had toy instruments, including a toy saxophone that you treated like a real instrument.

I saw that picture when I was back home during Christmas and I was a chubby kid too. The leg rolls and everything. I’m passed out with my mouth open with this saxophone. It’s like, “I was meant to do music without even knowing it.”

How has your view of music changed over the years?

It hasn’t. Music is the universal language. There were moments in my life where music was the only thing that felt real to me. Music was the only peaceful thing and that’s never changed. I look at music as though it’s my special place. Where I get to go and sit sometimes alone or sometimes with people, but it’s the only time I feel like everything disappears and everything’s okay. I used to spend dark nights in my closet where I put towels under the door and play music in there by myself and have this experience.

Music can be the only thing that can feel real for you and the only thing that can be peaceful. Click To Tweet

What were those songs? What was the music you listened to?

It was always Boyz II Men or Donell Jones, Dru Hill and Usher. I was a huge Usher fan and then also Michael Jackson, which was a big influence of mine.

What is it about music that helped you through those hard times when nothing else felt real? Describe what it was that music brought in those moments?

I grew up in an angry household with a lot of yelling, fighting and a lot of sadness to be honest. What music was to me was all of that wrapped up in a melodic sound. It was all the pain and all of the anger, the frustration, the sadness. It was all that wrapped up in something that sounded beautiful. It took me out of that anger and put me into peace.

I never thought about it like that, but music connects deeply because it hits us at the soul level. The most powerful music is the music that’s filled in the soul. The most soul is always filled with the most life. The most life is usually the hardest and most trying experiences in our life. In a sense, it brings redemption to the broken.

Even for me, I’ve had some moments where is something heavy happened. When I was in college, my brother got shot. After all the aftermath and we found out that he was okay, the first thing that I did was I locked myself in my room and I played music. I sat there and I listened to it. It brought me this peace and I was crying. I was angry. I was throwing things. I flipped my desk. My roommates are flipping out like, “What’s going on?” After everything was settled, I closed my door and I was listening to music. I went to the dance room in college and I played Anxiety, then I started dancing. Anytime something happens that’s like, “How am I going to get past this?” The first thing I go to is music, something artistic dance. The acting was the last thing that came into mind, into my life and my creative process.

Was dance always a part of your life? Was dancing your soul blood?

When I was a kid, I had two left feet. When I was young up until high school, I couldn’t dance to save my life. I was like, “I don’t know how to move.” I had bow legs. I was super awkward. I and my brothers and my mom would have us do praise dance at church and then we joined this dance team. It was like, “I’m dancing.” The next thing you know, I got YouTube videos of me pop-locking. I was like, “When did this happen?” I loved it much because it was a new way to express myself. Everything was locked up. I love dancing but I don’t think I would ever dance as a profession. It’s more of a release.

It’s therapy. It’s funny because nowadays it’s starting to be recognized as that. It’s been there since day one. It’s novel that it’s a therapy, but speaking of release, it’s interesting hearing that because there’s a lot of unhealthy ways to release things. There are some beautiful ways to release things and dancing and singing are some of those. Did you experience unhealthy ways of releasing them before you learn healthy ways?

A lot is going on in our household. At the time you’re like, “This is normal,” but then you’re like, “I don’t know, I might have to go back and recheck that.” One of the unhealthy ways that I would cope with that was, I would punch walls. That was my first thing, fighting. I can’t tell you how many fights I got into as a kid. I have broken every knuckle in both my hands. Scars, I would tag a wall that was the closest thing to me. That was the first thing I hit but not only that, even drinking. There were points in time. In high school, not much. It wasn’t a big thing for me, but in college, I drowned some sorrows and I found myself in some dark places. Even from college up until about a couple of years ago, I was using, drinking and I’m like, “This seems like the right thing to do that I don’t have to deal with pain. This is how I’m going to numb it. Let’s do it.” I’ll be like, “That didn’t do anything.” I’m still having to deal with the problem. I still have to deal with this anxiety, this stress, this anger or whatever it was that came. It was like, “It’s still going to be there.” I’ve had some unhealthy things for sure.

UAC 135 | Asking The Right Questions

 

What are your earliest memories as a kid like?

My grandmother in my life was a lot of earliest memories. She passed away from cancer in 2002, which we were not prepared for that. I wasn’t, as a kid. You see this woman who holds the glue to your family. She held family reunions and birthdays. One of the first birthdays I remember was at my grandma’s house. She had a Daffy Duck cake that she got me. There was a gumball machine. You put the quarters in and it was gone by the end of the day. I don’t remember this verbatim, but I remember the first memory of my mom was at my grandma’s house. She had come in with my little sister and my stepdad. I don’t know if you remember those little toys where you pull them in and spins in the air.

I remember my mom coming in and me recognizing her instantly. You’re a kid, so things get a little fuzzy. The first memory honestly of my life is, at my grandma. I would sit in and she watches The Price Is Right and Wheel of Fortune. She bought me and my brothers these Wacko Yacko and stuffed animals. They were about the size of us, if not bigger, which I try carrying these around. She passed away and everything seemed like it fell apart. My brother went downhill. My family separated. It was like the parting of the red sea. Everybody went their separate ways and we were close cousins we saw each other every weekend. It got to a point where we saw each other maybe three or four times a year.

Would you say that it is common for people in your type of background with grandmothers being a lot of glue?

There’s a respect thing in my culture. You respect your elders. That was something that was hammered into us since day one. The respect that my grandmother and my great aunts and my great uncles had, it was like, if you disobey them that’s it. Your butt is grass essentially and there’s a lot more. That’s the type of life that was. When you lose that person that glue, that person that everybody respects, it’s like, “Where do we go from here? Who do you look up to? Who’s going to run things?” That was in our family specifically. We still have my great aunt, my great uncle, who 2 have passed away but we still have my great aunt and my great uncle. She’s the glue. They pass it along. It’s like, “There’s Dorita and then it was my Uncle Jess and then it’s my aunt. It passes along.

How old were you at that time when she passed?

Funny enough, the R&B story, it was that same year, which is why that set that play emotion for me. I was like, “I’m going to be an R&B singer. It was right before my grandmother passed.” We live in that same house, which we didn’t stay in houses for long. It was within a year. It rocked me. I was in fourth grade, a young kid. The woman that he respects the most in life, she’s gone. It’s like, “I kept praying. It can’t be true. It was not real. I know she was sick.” For me especially that moment it was almost traumatic for me because I remember when my grandmother was getting sick and we would go over every day and go say hi. We’ll spend time with her. Every day I was scared I would walk right past her. She looks different, it takes a toll on you. I remember one day, I walked past her and she stopped me and she was like, “You walked past me every day.” I was like, “I’m sorry.” She said, “It’s okay, go in the house.” When she passed, not too long after that, I walked past her every day. I didn’t get to say goodbye. I didn’t get to hug her like, “What if she probably hates me?” I remember one day I told this to my aunt and she’s like, “Your grandmother loved you. This is what you do. You sit by yourself one day, light some candles. You pray, you talk to her and you say how you feel. You let it go because she loved you. It doesn’t matter.” It hit. I did that and I felt much peace. She’s still my idol. Everything I do, I’m still pushing through with that angel on your back and it’s been tough.

There’s something to closure and to letting things come to the end in the right way. What was that time in your life when you lose this anchor that your grandmother is and you’re in fourth grade and you’re trying to figure out how to operate in the world? Not necessarily in a place that can support you as well at home. What was your process like? How did you find a way through that?

Honestly, when I look back on it, life kept going and it kept going fast. Life got quick. I remember grieving much that it was almost as though I was a zombie. I was emotionally through life. All of a sudden I woke up and I was like, “I got to keep going. Life is happening. My family’s happening and everybody’s here. We’ve got to keep going, we can’t stop.” That mentality stuck with me over time. Things kept happening. Stuff happened with my mom. My dad came into my life, which was such a blessing. At the time, I pushed him to the side when I should have embraced him. My brother was going through his thing. He’s gone off the deep end after a while. The same for him, my grandmother was his idol and he stuck in for a while, but then he dropped.

It was like, “No matter what, I’ve got to keep going.” My mom moved to Shreveport and stayed with my great aunt. I don’t know why I’m making this decision, but I’m doing it like, “I’m staying with my great aunt. I don’t want to leave Texas.” We had to move North because of some stuff with my brother. You grow up and the gangs. You know everybody, you grew up with them and then all of a sudden, it switches. Some of the friends that you grew up with, you can’t hang around because they’re on a different block than you were. Where they’re repping a different gang than you and your family and you can’t be around.

Some people find out about you and your skills and they empower you to embrace your power. Click To Tweet

Things started happening and we were like, “We’ve got to get out of here.” We did. First of all, this was wild moving to a different school in a completely different area. Going North, I had never seen so many white people in my life. I walked into a high school musical. I saw a person riding a scooter around the school with a mascot helmet. He has this horse on and he’s riding around the school. I’m like, “What is this?” The school I’d come from, we walked through metal detectors. We have a dress code and there are cops everywhere. I’m like, “We can’t do this.” The pep rally was lit. I was like, “This is crazy. This is a high school musical. They write movies about this. This is real.” It blew my mind. I was like, “I don’t know how to fit in here.” I was still an angry kid. As I’m going through my freshman year, trying to figure out what this place is, I’m realizing, “I like it. I love it. This is awesome. This is new. I’m not afraid to go to school. I’m not getting into fights every day. I’m not running from a person who’s chasing us down the field with a gun.” I don’t have to experience that.

After my freshman year, my mom and my family moved back to that neighborhood and this was another thing. It was like, “You’ve got to keep going.” I ended up staying. I stayed with my stepbrother in his apartment. He ended up getting evicted. I stayed with my cousin, left her place and I stayed with my mom again. I would ride the bus all the way from my mom’s house, 45-minute bus ride, 45-minute train ride to get to football practice every morning. I go to school and work. I worked at Whataburger right around the corner, which was the best, worst decision I did because I ate much. I’m not tired. I will eat Whataburger every day if I could. I’m waiting for them to bring it to California. I would hop back on the bus. I would hop back on the train, I would go back to my mom’s and I did that for two months. I was like, “Go with that.” He was like, “My dad takes me to football practice. You ride with us.” He was like, “Yes.” One night turned into two nights. I was like, “Are you sure they’re cool with this?” “Yes.” Three, four nights, five nights, his mom comes, “We are going to put a bed in the college room for you. You stay with us.” I’m like, “Keep going.” That’s all God was telling me over and over again.

That’s an amazing story and there is much more that comes with that. Was it in your freshman year when you switched high schools?

Yes.

The culture shock in that astounding. How long did it take for you to realize that what you grew up with wasn’t the norm for everyone? How long was that process of accepting the new reality for you?

Probably, in my junior year. It took a while for it to set in honestly, because I was still like, “I don’t know what I’m going.” I didn’t start hanging out with friends that are like my brothers until my junior year. They opened my eyes to a whole different lifestyle. It was indifferent amounts, a small amount. In my freshman year, I got to a top for it, but it didn’t catch on. I remember my friend Clay, who was like my brother, through and through an amazing guy. He brought me to a friend’s house. Her mom was there and they were out in the pool. We were swimming and all this stuff. I remember getting a call from my mom. I’m like, “Everybody’s having a good time.” My mom’s like, “You’ve got to come home.” I was like, “I don’t want to come home. I’m hanging out with friends.” She was like, “You need to get home now.” I was like, “Okay.” I was sad and heartbroken because I’m like, “These people were cool.”

I remember walking out and I was going to walk home and my friend, Nikki, her mom, Ms. Albertson, she says, “Are you leaving?” I was like, “Yes. My mom said I’ve got to come home.” She was like, “Let me get you a ride.” I was like, ” That’s okay. I live way far.” She was like, “How are you going to get home?” I was like, “I’m going to walk.” She was like, “Stop, you’re crazy. I’m going to give you a ride home.” That was a little tap. I didn’t get to experience that. It didn’t set in but it was interesting. Little moments like that kept happening. By my junior year, I’m like, “This is different.” I thought it was a fluke, but it’s real. There are different cultures out there that experience entirely different lives.

As you’re processing that in high school, as a kid, what was the inner dialogue in that? Where you come from and your family and the people that you know best and grew up with are in one world and now, your new life is another world and there’s tension in that. How did you walk through that tension? Could you come to peace with that? How could you decide what the best next step was in that?

A lot of it was God pushing me through. I remember when I was in the 7th or 8th grade, with her on the phone and a lot of stuff was happening with my brother. She was crying and saying, “I want to see one of my kids graduate high school.” I overheard it. It sounds like something I have in the movie. You walk by and you hear that and you’re like, “That’s crazy.” I heard her say that. That played in my head over and over again as I was going. When I went to that school, I was like, “This is the way I’m going to do it. If I go back to Duncanville, where I grew up, it’s not going to happen. I have to stay in Richardson. I have to stay at this school, I have to graduate.”

I have never lived in that context and I don’t know at all what that life is like. When you say, “If I go back to Duncanville, I won’t graduate.” What are the reasons for that?

UAC 135 | Asking The Right Questions

 

It’s a number of reasons. I see a lot of guys that I grew up with. They’re either in jail, killed or slinging dope. Some are even trying to make music to survive somewhere. The only way that they were going to get out is by playing football. There are some do well, but the majority, they never make it out. People talk about that all the time, as though it’s something that you hear about black culture. The fact of the matter is I look at some of my friends and I don’t even know them anymore. I look at them and they’re still in the same place. They repeat a cycle. I would have repeated that cycle because that’s my influence.

In mentoring and Brian says this all the time, “You show me your friends, I’ll show you your future.” When you’re surrounded by friends that don’t know what their future looks like and they’re trying to survive it and you’re going to end up the same way. I left trying to survive to people like, “This is where I want to go to college. I want to do this, I’m going to do that. I’ve applied for this school and that school.” I’m like, “I’ve got to get on this. What’s this college thing? I’ve got to do that too.” If I would’ve stayed there, I would have either been in jail. When I was in eighth grade, I was trying to join my young version of my brother’s game. We’re fighting in my backyard or we have a gang fight from a school that’s down the street. They walk over and we were like, “It’s time to fight. It’s time to go.” That was the journey I was on.

I was playing football, but to be honest, it was competitive because everyone knew that was the way they were going to get out. If you didn’t have it, then that’s it. You don’t even play. When I started at that school, when I was in Duncanville my freshman year before we moved, I wasn’t great. I was decent. I played my whole life but I knew that I would have to complete a lot more than I was. When I think back on it, I’m like, “That school in its entirety saved my life.”

You mention mentoring. It’s at the Good City Mentors where we get to meet. Brian was on the show on episode 86. We’ve had the chance to mentor together at a high school and then in East LA, with a youth program there. In those experiences and as you speak to others who have been in similar spaces or are still in similar cycles, what do you find to be helpful for them? That’s the thing that’s been humbling for me to be around and to listen to is to hear stories of people who were born with the deck stacked against them. I was born with the deck stacked in my favor. I didn’t choose that as much as someone else didn’t choose the deck being stacked against them. When you’re in that cycle, it is brutally hard to break. I’m curious if you could speak to how you encourage or mentor others from having a shared experience in that?

The easy thing to do is what everybody else is doing. The hardest thing to do is to do the opposite. What people don’t realize especially in that culture, because being hard, we have to join a gang. We have to sell drugs. That’s the only way. That’s the hard thing to do, but it’s not. The hard thing to do is to say, “I’m going to be different. I’m going to go against the grain. I’m going to do something that nobody around me is doing and I’m going to lead a movement. I’m going to lead a charge.” It is easy to get discouraged because it’s not. You get knocked down every day, but the way you get up prepares you for that next hit every single time until those hits no longer faze you. It’s like wind or leaves hitting you and they bounce right off. No matter what, “It’s going to be difficult. It has some difficult moments.” Even moments where I was like, “I can’t do this.” God says, “You can because look at what you’ve already done. You can because there’s somebody else who was in your situation that did it.” Finding community and finding people that will help you along, surrounding yourself by people who want that for themselves also makes a world of difference.

If you’re constantly saying like, “I want to get out of this neighborhood. I want to get out of this life. I also want to go hang out with Marcus and smoke some weed.” It’s like, “You’re not going to get out. It’s not going to happen.” If you say, “I want to get out. I want to do something different. Who else is doing that? I need to find them so we can do it together because that’s going to make a world of difference and we’re going to kill the game. It’s going to be done. We’re going to live a life that no one thought we could. We’re going to go against the grain.”

You have to have a community in life. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, who you are. You can’t do this life alone. What was one of those lowest moments for you?

When my mom went to prison, it was Christmas eve. It was my junior year. I had already moved out, but I’d go back and visit her on holidays and stuff. We got the phone call and my stepdad, they were transporting marijuana to Phoenix. We got a call, they’re in prison and we’re like, “What do we do?” My older brother and sister are there arguing, “We’ve got to figure this out.” Luckily for me, I had somewhere to go but if it wasn’t for that, then I don’t know where I would have ended up. If it wasn’t for those people taking care of me and giving me a home or a place to stay, I don’t know if I would’ve ended up. Having a community when that happened was important.

It’s like, “Those are my parents.” Talk about realizing that your family is not invincible. Everyone can get caught no matter what they’re doing. Everyone could get hurt, no matter what. The reality of life is real and we take it for granted. The Kobe thing, a legend and no one is above the law or God. Realizing that at that moment, it hit me hard. I was like, “What? What do we do?” It kicked in from me, “We have to take care of the people who can’t take care of themselves.” My younger brother and my younger sister ended up going to my aunts. I ended up going back. My brother and my sister, they ended up finding a place to stay. That was such a hard moment for me. What it did was it added to my story. It allowed me to be open with people because that’s something where you can’t deal with on your own. When I opened up about that, I had many people in that in my community pouring into me. When they found out what I was doing, they were like, “How are you doing this?” I’m like, “I don’t know, God and then also this person and that person.” They’d be like, “We want to be it. We want to pour in too.”

It’s crazy until our hand is forced, we don’t want to open up. We don’t want to be vulnerable. We don’t want to share our hurt, our pain or our burdens because of that, we ended up creating more hardship and toil for ourselves. When we’re finally forced, then we realize that everyone has a burden to bear and they’re meant to be shared. They’re not meant to be carried alone. Was that a turning point for you in being able to talk about what you’ve been through and what you’re experiencing? How to process it? Was that when you started sharing some of that or what was that journey like for you?

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The people that I was staying with, they knew because I was living with them at the time. I remember opening up for the first time to someone that I had no idea who she was or it was my friend, Clay’s mom, Ms. Rollins, who was my guardian angel. We were on our way to their farmhouse after a dance and we ended up stand up and talking during the drive. Everybody else was passed out in the back. We started talking and for some reason, I was like, “I feel like I can open up.” We talked and I told her my story. It changed my life because she poured into me much. Not only that, she invited people to pour into me much and it was like, “This woman doesn’t even know me.” If it weren’t for me telling my story or feeling like, “It’s time for me to speak, I need to.” If it wasn’t for me sharing that with her, I wouldn’t be where I’m at.

Going through learning that I can’t hold that stuff in and then it released much anger where it’s like, “I don’t have to carry this by myself.” She did everything she could. We talk all the time and she’s always, “What do you need?” When I go home, I visit them, they fly me in Texas. Her son, Clay, who’s like a brother, had a kid which is amazing. Not only them, but my friends, Taylor and Mac, all of these families, my friend, Shack, they all poured in. Joey, them and their families. They said, “This kid, we’re going to do everything that we can.” I remember the first time that I opened up to them was during the Wilderness, which is a young life camp in Colorado. That was another moment for me where I was doing this young life Todd Pinkston, which was like our Young Life leader. He kept inviting me to Young Life. I was like, “I don’t know what’s that.” I remember showing up one day, people were playing basketball and then it was a crazy party. There were all these skits. They brought out the Bible and he did a talk. I was like, “This is a different way to do church.”

They made sure that I went to Cricket Creek, which was the first Young Life camp that I went to. After that, it was Wilderness where a lot of your close friends or even if we weren’t even close at the time. I was still getting to know these guys, but I played football with him. We do a five-day hike in the Wilderness. I never did anything like this before my life. I’m like, “You want me to do what? How many miles to carry them? This is crazy.” No one from my old neighborhood would do this. This isn’t a welcome thing. This doesn’t happen. I’m like, “I’ll try it out.” That was one of the first times that I’d opened up to a group of people about my life that I was this angry kid, but it gave him much insight into why I was angry. After that, they were like, “We didn’t know that’s what was going on.” I wasn’t staying at my friend, Kyle’s. I was staying all over the neighborhood.

I was in my friend, Taylor’s room on his futon every now and then. I was with my friend, Max. I was everywhere. Everyone invited me into their homes to stay the night because they knew my story, they knew what was going on with me. This whole community is like, “They don’t know me.” All they know is my story. I could have been like, “I made it up.” They trusted in what God was telling him first of all, and then they saw where I was in the work that I was putting in. They were like, “We’re going to give you an extra boost.” Another person is like, “I’m going to you an extra boost.” You have all these people pouring into you and you’re like, “Wow.”

I’m curious what was it about that first car ride? What did she do? What was the scenario like that enabled you to open up for the first time?

She asked questions. It’s like what Brian says. When you’re speaking to people, you ask questions or mentoring. We’re question askers. She’s asked questions. No one ever asked me like, “Tell me about you. Where do you come from? Who are you? How do you know my son?” She started asking questions and then it went from asking questions to asking the right question. Then it was like, “You want to know about me.” I’ve never had anyone who wanted to know about me. I was like, “I’ll tell you everything. I’ve been waiting for this. I didn’t know this is what I needed, but I’ve been waiting for someone to ask me about me. Here it is.”

God started moving in incredible ways. Even with Young Life, I started doing theater out of nowhere, almost because in my Young Life teacher forced me to go audition for Fiddler on the Roof. He’s like, “I’m going to go audition.” I saw Footloose. I was like, “Yes, Footloose was dope.” He’s like, “You should come, you have a great voice.” I’m like, “What are you talking about? Audition for a musical? I’m not going to do that.” He’s like, “You should come.” I was like, “I don’t want to miss club. I’ve gotten invested in this Young Life thing. I’ve been here every Monday.” My Young Life leader, Jenny, is like, “You can go.” I was like, “I don’t want.” She’s like, “You should go.” I was like, “Fine, I’ll go.” He’s teaching me the song in the car.

He’s like, “If I were a rich man.” I’m like, “I don’t know what’s happening. What am I doing?” We get there and we’re waiting in this hallway. I’m like, “This is weird. There’s a bunch of people out here.” It was my turn to go and I was like, “I can’t do this.” He was like, “Let me go in. Let me see if I can sing with you. Maybe you can sing Happy Birthday or something.” I was like, “Cool.” Heather Biddle is an amazing woman. She is another woman that saved my life. I went in and I sang Happy Birthday and she looked at me and she’s like, “Where have you been?” I’m like, “What are you talking about? I’ve been here.” She invites me to the dance call and invites me to do the reading. The next thing you know, I’m Yussel the hat maker in Fiddler on the Roof. One of two black guys in the whole cast. I’m like, “I don’t know what I’m doing but this is fun. This is cool.” It’s crazy when they find out about and then they empower you to embrace your power. That was a moment where they empowered me to embrace my power to do something that they saw in me that I didn’t see in myself.

What you said about the power of asking questions is where it all starts. It’s amazing how simple the answers are. It’s just asking someone a question. Care about someone enough to ask them a genuine question and then keep asking them questions until you get to the right question. I’ll keep saying it, but this is a lot, the three core needs every human being has is to be seen, to be heard and to be understood or connected to something greater. That’s something that we can give to anybody every single day and we desperately need that as humans. We’re losing that more than ever before. That’s such a powerful story. Through that, we can learn about someone’s power and then empower them to embrace that power because that’s how we create healthy, whole humans through the community.

It’s some crazy moments, where I was like, “God is moving.”

UAC 135 | Asking The Right Questions

 

I want to hear more about them. Fiddler on the Roof was a first-ever experience?

It’s my first-ever theater experience. It was wild but much fun. I was doing jump kicks. I’m doing the bottle dance. We have Velcro. I met some amazing people who are families poured into me because they were like, “Who are you?” I told them and then their parents found out and then they poured into me. The more you ask, the more you find out, the more people see what you’re doing and they’re like, “Let’s pour in.” One of the most amazing moments of my life happened through theater. I was helping do a theater camp because I was all in. Heather got me a college audition coach. I was like, “You can go to school for theater? I was going to be a football player or a therapist.” I’m going on this huge theater journey within my junior year. I don’t know what’s going on. I’m like, “This is fun.”

People were taking me at auditions, flying me to Michigan to auditions. I’m like, “This is crazy but it’s awesome. It’s cold in Michigan. I don’t want to go to school here. I like it.” My top school was Texas State. I was like, “I want to go to Texas State.” As soon as I found out about the program, I was like, “That’s the school I want to go to.” Bars none, hands down. That’s it. I found out there was a river that went through it. I was like, “Summer floats, it’s happening.” I audition for the musical theater program, I didn’t get in, but the professor, she pushed me to audition for the acting program.

I was like, “I want to go to LA. If I’m going to do theater, I love to do a film.” I did. It was a journey but I ended up getting in and I was like, “I got to school I wanted. It was dope and amazing.” The theater was like, “This is what I was going to do with my life.” I had a lot of people vouch for me because I didn’t have the grades. I come from the school where we were trying to graduate or survive. Academics weren’t the main priority, which is a huge thing. In urban areas where I grew up, they don’t focus on education. It’s we want these kids to survive. It’s wild. I went to the school and I was like, “I hadn’t even taken Algebra.” I was catching up for four years. I got into school, but I didn’t get into school. I got into the program, not the school. I had people writing letters of recommendation.

My principal, what an amazing woman and my counselor. Everybody was like, “You got into the program, now we’ve got to get you into the school.” Even Michael Costello, my professor, vouched for me to the department and I ended up getting in. Step one, got into the program. Step two, I got into the school. I have no money, I have nothing. I don’t know what to do. People are helping me with grants in FAFSA and fill out all this paperwork. It’s something I’ve never done. I keep going. People were like, “We’re going to help you. Keep going.” There was a moment where I was like, “I don’t know what’s going to happen and I don’t even have a car.”

At this point, I was trying to get my license too. I don’t have a car. My dad said, “You get your license. You can have my old ’99 Honda Civic stick shift.” I’m like, “I don’t even know how to drive a stick but whatever. I don’t care but I didn’t have a license.” I was bugging Ms. Rollins and I was like, “Can you take me?” Let me tell you how amazing this woman. She sat outside the DMV with me for hours and we still weren’t able to take the test for three tries. I was like, “I don’t know what to do.” One day when I’m doing a theater camp and Mr. Reese he’s like, “We’ve got to go pick up something for Biddle.” I was like, “Could you take me to get my driver’s license?” He’s like, “Yes, we’ll figure that out. We’ve got to go pick up this reindeer.” I’m like, “What are you talking about?” We go and it was for the kids’ camp. She runs the kids camp. We get to this house and I’m excited to get my license that I beeline inside this stranger’s house. I don’t know who they are, but whatever. I’m looking around like, “Where is it?” I look to my right and then I started noticing people. Mr. Reese was like, “These people are here for you.” I’m like, “What are you talking about?”

I started recognizing faces and then everyone’s like, “This is for you. We heard you got into school. We heard you got into the acting program. We know it’s you. We’ve raised over $5,000 to help you with your room and board. We have bikes. We have laptops or whatever you need.” It broke me. The beauty of these people. That was the last thing that I expected and I was like, “After everything you all have done and you’re still pouring in, God is good.” It hit me and all they wanted to know, “Tell us your story. We heard a little bit but we want to know from you.” Some of the people I didn’t know and then you heard it was word of mouth. They’re like, “We want to know. What’s your story?” I told them in some cry or hug me and I was crying and it was this beauty from a movie moment. I knew I was like, “God, this is what you meant when you said to keep going.” This is why I need to keep going. From then on, they still to this day is pouring in.

It does take a village. I know for someone like myself, it’s easy to even in knowing how much I’ve been given and blessed with, to take it for granted and not to think of all the different aspects and facets of it, like getting a license. Something that seems like a normal process of your childhood experience is not a normal process for most people. There are a lot of people where that is extraordinary and all the different things that go into each step and that mantra of yours, which is, “Keep going.” It’s helpful to understand that my job is to take one more step, not to figure out the tenth step because I don’t know. If I can take the next step, that’s all that matters. For me, it’s something I have to keep telling myself and in the midst change, you are like, “I don’t know what the outcome is but I know what the next step is.” I need to take the next step. Tell me about Texas State. Being behind the curve in the academic side, getting in was an awesome feat, but being able to get through it while being behind academically is another feat in and of itself. What was that process for you and trying to play catchup at a whole new level, the college level?

Long story short, by the end of my freshman year, I was on academic probation. I couldn’t perform, I couldn’t audition, I couldn’t do anything. It was like, “This is real. I can’t escape by my pretty looks.” My charm is not going to get me to graduate on this or my charm isn’t going to get me the right grade. I had to put in the effort. Michael put me on academic probation, even though it was like, “I want to perform. I want to audition.” He was like, “No, you’ve got to get your grades up.” I have to have a 2.5. That whole next semester, I was hustling. I was in books. I was studying. I have never had to challenge my brain so much because that’s not what I was used to. It was tough. It was a lot of long nights and study groups. It’s a lot of me saying, “I can’t do this,” and having panic attacks. I would be in so much anxiety. Even part of that is where the drinking started coming in because I was like, “I’m anxious and I can’t focus and I have all of this. Maybe I would go to have a drink and go to a party,” and I did it again.

Although I was bringing up my grades, I was also on the opposite and I was like, “Even though I’m bringing up my grades, I need to release this stress.” I was going through that phase and partying way too much. Ultimately, I was learning how to study and learning how to sit down and go over. I have to perform in class. I got to pull an all-nighter because I’ve been studying for this class and I was studying for that class. Although my major is important, my theater academics are important also. I got to get my generals eds up. It’s balancing. I could sacrifice a little bit like learning an audition for a scene or whatever for my gen eds, which was difficult. I was like, “This is what I want to do. This is what I have to. I have to do this but it’s important. I have to do it and I don’t want to do it.” How do you balance that? It was a battle but ultimately, I ended up putting my nose into the grind and making it happen because it was, “Keep going because you are here now.” You’re in it. You’re in the thick.

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What kept you going in those years specifically?

It’s the same thing. My family was going through a cycle. My brother got shot. In high school, it was a mom. In college, it was a brother. That was my biggest fear. I prayed that it would never happen and it did again. No one is invincible. I was like, “I’ve got to do this. I’ve got to keep going because the only way that I’m going to change this cycle is if I’m already ahead. I got to get even further. No matter what, I can’t turn back.” I did. I performed a lot. That was such a blessing to be able to be on stage. I went to compete. I went to London for the first time to study Shakespeare. I’m the first person in my family to go out of this country. These moments, they’re not only hard, I’m not grinding, but I’m also learning what it’s like to be a person, to live outside of his circumstance. That’s what I want my family to experience. I’m experiencing these beautiful moments. I have to keep going so they can one day. It was like, “No matter what, graduating and going to LA is the next destination.”

Being able to live outside of your circumstances is such a hard thing to do. It didn’t even matter which side of the fence you’re on. Every side is hard to do that. We fall prey to our circumstances in all areas of our lives. We let that dictate a lot of how we operate. There’s a quote from this guy, Anthony De Mello, he wrote this book called Awareness. He said, “Loneliness is not cured by human company. Loneliness is cured by contact with reality. Dropping one’s illusions and making contact with the real.” Circumstances are real, but our perception of them is the illusion. We have to drop those if we’re going to be able to see reality for what it is.

You’ve got to get out of your way.

We all get in our way in every type of situation. What are you most proud of from those college years when you look back?

Feeling like I grew as an actor, I feel the relationships that I developed are probably the most important. I’m still friends with a lot of people. I think that at the end of the day, if all goes away, the only thing that you have is the people in your life. That’s what I’ve learned with all these people pouring into me. I started developing this as this mantra that we are alive through the relation of other people. If I was the only person on this planet and I wasn’t able to see anybody else, I would have no concept or reality of me knowing that I’m alive. I would be like, “I don’t know who I am. I don’t know what I am. I don’t know what this is.” Having connections and talking to people and being able to touch other people or see other people. All of these things allow you to know that you’re alive. At the end of the day, if I have nothing, the only thing that I know I will have forever are the connections and relationships with the people that I’ve impacted or who have impacted me in my life. College was amazing and it was a great journey. Those friendships that I developed and those brotherhoods or sisterhood, those are important to me because those are people I have for life.

The next journey was LA. Were you able to transition straight from college to LA? What was that process like? How many years has it been now?

I went to London for a month. I studied abroad in the summer of 2015 after graduation. It was incredible and one of the greatest things I’ve ever experienced. I came back and I worked at the W Austin for a couple of months and then I booked it out to LA. I have $400 in my pocket. They bought me a car after mine broke down. Texas State is a hilly college, so the little Civic didn’t last. They bought me this nice Toyota that got me from Texas to LA. I packed it up. My dad and my stepmom met me out here with the rest of my stuff. I hopped in my car and I booked it. I didn’t want to stop. I get a call from Ms. Rollins, “Where are you?” I’m like, “I’m in New Mexico.” She’s like, “Are you going to keep driving?” I was like, “Yes, I’m going to stop if I need to outside of the road, fall asleep, keep going.” She was like, “No, you’re getting a hotel. I’m going to get you a hotel.”

She got me a hotel for the night. I slept for six hours. I got up and I booked it. I was gone. I made it here within less than two days. I met up with my dad. I went to Newport Beach, one of the first beaches and it was nice. I was like, “I’m home. This is it. I can feel the work. I can feel the go.” I had no doubt in my mind. I was like, “August is going to be the day.” I’ve moved, I stayed with my friend, Matthew. I’ve slept on his couch for a couple of months. I already had a job lined up, which was cool. That was the only thing that I had lined up. I ended up getting a manager, which was super dope, pretty quick. It was like, “Go, keep going.” It’s been tough, but also there have been a lot of great things.

How long has it been now?

UAC 135 | Asking The Right Questions

 

It’s for several years.

In this season, in this LA phase, when you look back, what are you most proud of from these past years?

It’s that I didn’t quit. I was talking to my friend about this and I was like, “Everything’s in force.” In high school, it’s forced and something happens. In college, it’s forced. I’m in my fourth year here and I feel I’m good, but in between those, that freshman, sophomore, the junior, the senior year it’s happened. In high school, college and life. I’m in that phase where I’m going to grad school now. I’m on my way to grad school in LA. It’s crazy because of those moments, I lost many family members and people that were close to me. My human self without God, without the Holy Spirit that lives within me is saying, “Go home, go be with your family. You don’t know how long they have left. You don’t know how long you have left. It’ll be okay. You can come back.”

With God in me it’s like, “No, you can’t do that because then you have to start all over.” It was tough. The number of times that I called crying, saying, “I wish I could come home for a little bit.” At the end of the day, I needed someone to listen. I needed someone to ask the right questions and then I kept going. I’m proud that I stuck it out because I did see some people they like, “I’ve got to go back. Do what you need to.” I feel like those people are going to come back. For me, I have something to go back to but I don’t have anything to go back to. My life is here.

The seasons that you graduated from, what did these produce in you as a man?

I was talking to Heidi about this, which is interesting because when you’re a kid and you’re growing up and you’re like, “You have to go to church every day.” You’re like, “This is a chore. I don’t want to do this.” People are forcing you to do it and you’re like, “You have to do it.” You’re like, “I don’t want to.” You get to a point in your life where you’re like, “I’ve got to go to church.” That’s the point where I’m at. I’m like, “I don’t want to miss church. I want to go to church.” The things that I feel like I was forced to do as a kid, I want to do them. I want to be better. I want to grow as a man. I want to develop relationships where it’s like, “I trust you. You trust me.” I want to pour into kids who need someone to listen to. I want to pursue a godly relationship. I want to pursue God. God’s pursuing me my whole life. It’s my turn. I want to be a man. That’s what’s changed. At first, I was forced to be a man. I was forced to grow up early and it was a chore. It wasn’t easy. It was like, “Go.” I’m like, “I don’t want to, but I have to.” Now I’m like, “I want to go. I’m sorry, I can’t wait for you. I’ve got to do this. I want to do this.” That go is what I want. I feel like I’m settled in that as a man, as someone who loves people and tries his best to be as authentic as possible.

I check myself because I’ve had an ego. I’ve been a little narcissistic. If you didn’t know, now you know. I’ve had to ask myself the hard questions, “Is this you? Do you want to be this person? Do you want what you’ve always wanted, but you thought you couldn’t have because it’s gotten hard?” You have to ask yourself, “What’s real? Who are you?” Not the person that people told you that you are but who are you? At the end of the day, when you are standing there before God and He says, “Who are you?” “God, I am this because you helped me become that.” Of course, not to say like, “No one can’t pour into you, no one is self-made.” You also have to because that was something I struggled with. I was like, “This person thinks I’m that so I must be that.” I used to have a superpower where I can read people’s minds because I wanted to know what they thought about me. I’m like, “It matters that if you’re somebody I trust, I care about what you think. At the end of the day, I have to make a decision on my own of who I feel like I am, who I know that I am.”

At the end of the day, we have to be who we’re called to be. It’s such a funny tension. The mantra of our show was an intention in the tension because life is filled with them. Intentionality is like saying, “No one’s self-made. No one pulls himself up by their own bootstraps. We have to do with others. It’s a community.” On the other side of the coin, no one tells you who you are. You have to discover and determine that for yourself from life and God. Own that and not be afraid to own that because we’re each uniquely made and gifted in our way. We aren’t called to be anyone but ourselves in that. That’s the tension. It’s like in the middle, that messy middle, that gray area. Now that you’ve graduated into being a man, what do you see as this next journey? There are interesting parallels with timing. I’ve heard a lot about the 7 to 8 years mark of that’s how long it takes to pursue mastery and a lot of ways. There have been a lot of studies and a lot of parallels around that. I feel like there’s almost seven or eight years’ timeline, but half of that is four years, it can be broken up and half. If we go back to the four-year timeline, as you graduate into this new season, what do you see as the next preparing phase? What do you see ahead of you in that?

I would say you never know. I can’t say like, “This is it,” because God will throw things at you always. I’m finally at a point where I’m like, “No more excuses.” I hadn’t taken an acting class since I moved here. I got into one and there’s no reason for that. Blame it on finances or blaming it on this or that. It was like, “This is what you want to do, you’ve got to do it. No matter what, this is what you came here to do. Stop making excuses and playing around. You can’t.” I’ve gone through a lot of issues and relationships and I’ve learned a lot. I’m at this point where I’m like, “I’ve got to devote myself as a man for my relationship deeply.”

In that front with your relationship with your girlfriend, when you look at this relationship that you’re in, what do you see as the growth that was most needed for you?

Insecurity and honestly waiting for God to tell me and when I was ready to be in a relationship. I didn’t have much of a relationship with my mom growing up, I was looking for that deeply. When I didn’t get what I needed from that relationship that I needed from my mom, I would be insecure. I would say that the person didn’t care. I would run away. I would think that they didn’t love me. I was some trophy or I’ve made every excuse possible to not allow myself to think that they cared. Also, in a lot of those relationships were decisions that I made looking for the wrong thing and they weren’t the right thing for me. In this relationship, I wasn’t looking for anything. They say it sounds cliché that it happens when you’re not looking but it’s a fact. I knew what I wanted and it wasn’t the easy thing. I remember saying, “God, this is the woman that I want.” It was the opposite of what I’ve ever asked for. It was going to be hard. It was going to be like, “You’re going to have to work at your baggage, your issues sexually, your alcohol consumption.”

All of these things where I was like, “God, this is what I need.” He’s like, “I’ve been waiting for you to act. I’ve been waiting for you to say you’re ready for that.” He drops it off and I was like, “God, this is what I want.” I’m not even going to think about it. That was it. This is what I want. He’s like, “Here you go.” I was like, “That was quick. There was no warm-up.” I went through a battle, but ultimately I was like, “This is the piece that I feel. The connection that God is in the center of this relationship and yet it’s a battle.” It’s a back and forth, but it’s easy. When I was in a relationship and someone would say something about me, like my girlfriend at the time, she was talking non-stop. I’d be like, “Yes, whatever.” I’ll leave, avoid conflict and run away. That’s what I was used to. Come back, try and talk it out. Let it develop as insecurity.

Now if she says something, I’m like, “Let’s deal with this. Let’s talk about it.” This is the life. This isn’t like we’re dating around. We’re developing a life together. This is different. This is real. This isn’t me trying to figure out myself through a relationship. This isn’t me trying to develop a relationship that I’m going to build in the future. She’s good at being honest with me and being loving and supporting and everything that you’re supposed to have in a relationship. Sometimes I’d catch myself because I’m like, “I could’ve bypassed all of what I went through if I waited.” Also, I needed that because I’ve got to push all of that out in those relationships, so when things come up I’m like, “I know it’s me. I’m throwing that insecurity on you. I’m sorry.”

It’s funny too because I have learned much for myself on that journey over the last few months. It’s funny because I didn’t come with any experience in that sense, zero almost. I almost feel bad on the other hand of feeling like a toddler. I’m learning everything for the first time. I almost feel like I’m making it harder on her because of that. I wish I would have more experience, so I would know better how to handle it. The point is everyone goes on their journey and you have to go on your journey but you can’t do it alone.

There’s a beauty to that too. The beautiful thing about Heidi is I’m her first relationship. It’s the same for you. You all are the same but the beauty that you bring to people who have been in relationships, we get to see love like for the first time through your eyes and experience what it was like, how to do it with you. You bring this toddler aspect. It’s like, “I get to start over and I get to be a toddler in love for the first time again.” It’s always interesting thinking about that.

We’ll end with some one-offs here and some other questions that some other people wanted to know. One of them is, what are you fighting for? What’s the purpose of what you’re doing?

What I’m fighting is to gain influence on a big scale so that I can do what we’re doing at the Good City Mentors on a bigger scale. I want to be an actor so that I can have a wider influence and do more. Everything in my life is wrapped up in that throughout.

Speak a little bit more about how you think about why we should have careers or what careers are for?

What’s interesting at church is where they hit on this. He’s like, “When you go to God and say like, ‘This is what I’ve had,’ I used what you gave me on Earth, so I’m well-equipped to use it in heaven.” Career-wise, we all have a purpose and if you feel like you don’t, then I challenge you to sit with yourself for a good two days and meditate on that. We all have a purpose and the importance of our careers are going to impact the world for the future because this is a part of heaven on earth. If you’re not using your career to influence the world, I would challenge you to sit and see why. Why are you doing what you are doing?

What does character mean to you?

Character to me is when someone’s explaining to someone else who you are, they’re explaining your character. When someone’s like, “Danezion is a cool guy. He has some weird, shifty eyes but he is a nice guy. You can trust him. He’s big, so if you need some furniture moved, he could do that for you. If you call him up, ask him to help you out, he will.” “Danezion, he’s shifty. If you ask him, he might not get back to you, but he will eventually. He’ll pull through but it might not be right now.” When people were explaining to you about someone else that they know or they trust or they don’t trust.

What can you not imagine living without?

Heidi.

What do you want to do less often, more often and none at all?

What I want to do less often is procrastinate. I want that less and I’m on that journey. One thing I want to do more of is I want to act more. That’s what I’m here for. What I don’t want to do at all is lead with frustration or anger. I want to listen first and react second.

What question do you ask yourself the most?

“Am I doing this right?”

The follow-up question, is there a right?

No.

“Do it, keep going,” that’s the mantra. What book or books have had the biggest impact on you?

Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham. I love poetry. My grandmother used to have the Green Eggs and Ham book under her coffee table. I would go over and I would read it almost every day to the point that I memorized it. I don’t remember it now. My love for words, music and poetry comes from reading that book even though it’s a child’s book.

It’s a work of art. It’s easy to poo-poo it, but it is such a masterpiece. There’s a reason why it is a staple to this day. What are your cornerstone habits? What are the things that keep your life in place?

Exercising. I’m not a fun person to be around if I haven’t worked out in a few days because I played football my whole life. It’s natural. It’s what releases me, and cooking. I have to cook. It’s therapy and I zone out. I’m involved in cooking and whether it tastes amazing or not, but it usually does. I get wrapped up in it because it’s something that I started doing in college. Another thing where I was like, “I don’t know how to this, but I started.” You’re a broke college kid. You start grabbing stuff out of the fridge. You got to figure it out.

What is your cooking method? Do you go the recipe route or do you go the improvisation route?

Heidi and I have this cookbook called One Pan, Two Plates. We’ll go off the recipe ones. After that, it’s a free game. Before that, I never looked at the recipe. I would look at the ingredients and then I figure it out. I’d be like, “I need this and that. I’m going to put my twist on it and make it happen.”

A little bit of structure is creativity. Too much structure, no creativity and no life. The last question, the one we ask everyone that comes on is, if you could send a morning text reminder to every Up and Comer out there, what would you say and why? This would be a short message from you that everyone receives as a reminder on their phones every morning.

Go, go, go and don’t stop until you stop and keep going.

Danezion, this has been awesome.

Thank you so much for having me.

Where’s a good place to reach you if people want to reach out and say hi or find out about some of your work?

I am an active user on Instagram, @DanezionMills52. You can check out my work. I’m also a personal trainer. On Facebook, I’m at Danezion Mills. On Gmail is ZekeMills52@Gmail.com.

This has been awesome. Thanks for sharing your story and blessing us with that.

Thanks for having me. It’s my pleasure. It’s been a blessing.

We hope you all have an up and coming week because we are out.

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About Danezion Mills

UAC 135 | Asking The Right QuestionsDanezion Mills was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. He is a first-generation graduate from Texas State with his BFA in Acting, moving to LA afterward to pursue his dream. He began acting in high school while playing football and met some amazing people on his football team as well as in some of his theatre performances. Those people and their families helped him throughout high school and college after he made the decision to leave his mother’s house to pursue a better opportunity during his early high school years.

Having all of these outside resources help him along the way has inspired him to pay it forward. Danezion is an active member of Good City Mentors which is helping him touch the lives of young men as was done for him at the same age. Danezion has been a part of projects like Buried in the Backyard and has a few other projects in the works. Danezion wants to become an actor to enable the work he is doing in GCM even more.

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UAC 134 | Overcoming Anxiety

 

Anxiety is simply being human. It is typically more present in the build-up to the event rather than in the event itself. In this episode, Thane Marcus Ringler helps us regain realization that being anxious is a very natural feeling for humans. Giving you a taste of his own anxieties, he shares some examples where he has overcome his anxiety and found inklings of hope. He also discusses the different elements that impact anxiety and shares some exercises or tools that may allow you to rationalize and conquer your anxieties and fears.

Listen to the podcast here:

The Experience Of Being Human: A Closer Look At Anxiety

This is a solo episode. Before I get there, I wanted to remind you of a few important things. I do remind you every week, but these are important none the less. The first thing to remind you of is that you can leave us a rating and review on iTunes. It’s a great way to help us out and say thanks. I wanted to read a review that I saw on iTunes and I wanted it to share that with you. The Original Swipe posted, “More than a podcast. Fantastic podcast. If you are looking for some self-improvement, positive motivation, success tips and even more, this podcast is for you. Every episode is packed with tons of great content that is well worth your time.” Thank you, The Original Swipe, whoever that is, we appreciate you. If you want to help us out, it would take a couple of minutes and it would be the best way to get our show seen by more people. Please do that if you can.

The other great ways are taking a screenshot of this episode and sharing it on the socials tagging us @UpAndComersShow. We’d love to hear you shout us out there. If you want to share it with some friends, a text to a couple of people that you thought of when you were listening, it’s a great way to pass it along. Finally, if you wanted to support us financially, we are on Patreon and we have monthly tiers of donation available there. Check that out. You can also reach out to the UpAndComersShow.com or the UpAndComersShow@Gmail.com. Reach out if you’re interested in possibly partnering with our podcast. If you have a business that aligns with our mission, we would love to hear from you. If you have any thoughts or guests that you think we should interview, topics we should cover, feedback or comments, always feel free to send us an email. We love hearing from you.

Personal Perspectives On Anxiety

I’m going to share a few thoughts from me. I’m excited about getting to share a few thoughts day on a topic that I think is important in today’s day and age and the world that we live in and the things that we experience as human beings. I want to share some thoughts, some of my experiences and some perspective on the topic, this thing called anxiety. That is our topic. What a loaded word and topic in the modern day we live in. I’m going to attempt to broach the subject in a very small way, but I want to put some words to this arena that has been on my mind a lot as of late. My goal is to share a bit of my own experience and some of the things that I’ve been hearing and learning from others with regard to anxiety.

In no way do I claim to know it all or to have the answer or even know what you may be experiencing or going through yourself. I do believe that anxiety and depression, for that matter are both intensely personal as much as they are universal. I believe that some people experience these realities in a much deeper and more challenging way than others. I also believe that every human experience both to some degree or extent at some point in their lives. To put some words around what anxiety is and offensively, the rudimentary definition of anxiety is fear, angst or excessive concern about the future. It can be fueled and often is fueled by past experiences. It is largely future-oriented. To move from the theoretical to the practical, I want to begin by sharing a few stories of times of my life when I experienced anxiety.

UAC 134 | Overcoming Anxiety

 

One of the most examples for me was in the realm of speaking. When I launched my book back in 2018, I started promoting the speaking I wanted to be doing. After putting in some legwork, God blessed me with my first speaking gig in Kansas City. This was not some major keynote or high-paying development day, rather it was a pro bono, break-out session at a Collegiate Entrepreneurship Conference. I say this to show that it wasn’t something glamorous. There wasn’t any pressure other than the self-inflicted pressure and regardless of what happened, I would still learn and grow from the experience, which is very easy to say now. Yet, I still remember that night not being able to fall asleep very quickly, waking up with my heart racing, feeling like I was walking through a movie instead of real-life and feeling an overall sense of unease and sereneness to the whole day.

I also remember being a jerk to those around me in a day or two leading up to the event as I frantically tried to cram and prepare while simultaneously feeling unprepared and unable to catch up. I felt as if everyone was against me and didn’t understand the pressure I was under. The amazing part of this experience occurred when my breakout session began. I remember being nervous, anxious and high-strung all the way up to the moment before I spoke my first words. The most amazing thing happened when I dove in. All of a sudden, when it was go time and all the build-up was over, I felt myself locked into the moment, experience, opportunity, and all that nervous energy was now used toward communicating information in an engaging and clear way for those who were listening. This whole experience was exhausting, but it was amazing to see the shift that occurred once the event had begun and that experience can often be true with anxiety.

It seems that anxiety is always most present leading up to the event or scenario that is the source of that anxiety, usually with growing intensity up until the moment of the event where scenario taking place. Once the thing itself begins, we are almost instantly relieved to see our pent-up fear and emotion was in reality not nearly as awful as we had anticipated. We are quite prepared for whatever it is we are doing. This is not always the scenario. As my fiancé lovingly pointed out to me, there are many times when people are operating at an 8 or 9 out of 10 on anxiety or stress level throughout the day. Whereas others like myself more so are more often in the 1 to 3 out of 10 range throughout the day. This is a wide spectrum of experience. The point that I want to share is that anxiety is more present in the build-up to the event rather than in the event itself. This idea of experiential versus pervasive anxiety is important. There are so many people that experience pervasive anxiety that is residing with them throughout the day.

Anxiety As A Golfer

This is a massive load to live with. That is not my personal experience. What my personal experience is much more with smaller experiential forms of anxiety. I want to speak from my experience not from someone else’s, but I want to frame it by saying that there are different experiences and just because I’ve experienced it this way, it doesn’t mean that you’re not experiencing it in a different way. That is the caveat. The second example that came to mind in speaking to anxiety that I’ve experienced was the common experience faced by anyone who has competed as a golfer. There’s something about that first tee with all the practice and preparation that goes into being tournament ready. The first tee shot has an enormous amount of pent-up energy at play and anxiety can run rampant in those moments.

When anxiety begins, we are almost instantly relieved to see our pent-up fear and emotion are not as awful as we had anticipated. Click To Tweet

The one tee shot I’ll never forget was my first international tournament as a professional in South Korea. Not only was it my first event overseas, but it was also the first time traveling that far to compete ever. It was my first time in South Korea, which made it hard to get my bearings on many fronts. Added on top of this was being the first tee time of the event off of number ten in the first round. Not only was I in the first tee time, but I was also the first golfer to hit their tee shot in the group. I was kicking off the entire tournament and I felt like I barely knew what I was doing. As you can imagine, with all the nervous energy, I ended up hitting one of the worst golf shots of my life.

It was a 40-yard block that went so far out of bounds. I knew it was gone the second I hit it. This made me so mad and I was practically fuming when I stepped up to hit my second drive. This disgust with myself led to me birdieing my second ball, scoring of five on the whole, hitting three perfect shots. That was so frustrating and infuriating to me because it’s neurotic how I can go from hitting one of the worst shots of my life to three near-perfect shots for birdie on the second ball. Anxiety can make us behave so counter to what we know to be true about ourselves. It’s true of every single human. Fears can be controlling and the results are never what we wanted.

I knew I had the ability to hit a tee shot. I’ve done it so many times before. I knew that even if I hit a bad tee shot, it could still be in play, but because of the fears that were controlling me at that moment and the pent-up energy that had built up to that point of time, I ended up hitting one of the worst shots of my career. The last example is the greatest battle I’ve personally had with anxiety. That came later that very season in my professional golf career. I was scheduled to play in the Australian Open, which was to be the biggest tournament of my career to date. I had a mini-tour event scheduled a few weeks prior in order to get a competitive warm-up before the big opportunity. Throughout the three-day event, my game was struggling and I wasn’t able to put together any good rounds.

What happened when I was warming up for the last round was an experience that shook me to my core. As I was warming up on the range beforehand, I hit a few wedge shots that were horribly off target. What was even scary to me at that moment was that one went ten yards left of my target and the next one went fifteen yards right of my target. With wedges, these are massive misses for those of you who don’t play golf. These few misses created an immediate surge of fear in my brain. I quickly tried to hit a handful of shots to work those bad ones out of the system. To my horror, this pattern only worsened and the fear I had was now legitimized and growing. This was a case of the yips, which is an involuntary twitching that occurs in a repetitive movement.

UAC 134 | Overcoming Anxiety

Overcoming Anxiety: Anxiety is fear, angst, or excessive concern about the future and can be fueled and often is fueled by past experiences.

 

It happens a lot in golf and in baseball. Oftentimes in golf, it’s with putting. For me, it was the wedges. With the yips alive and well throughout the round, I ended up posting the highest score of my professional career and solidified a massive well of fear with the biggest tournament of my life just over a week away. That next week, I went to war with my anxiety and felt like I was losing the battle more than gaining any meaningful ground. I don’t know if I’ve ever been more demoralized, depressed, anxious or uncertain about myself than in those moments of a battle that week. It felt like something that I had to face on my own and that no one else understood what I was facing and that there wasn’t a way out of it.

I felt like I should maybe give up, quit, call off the tournament, and forfeit playing so I didn’t have to come to grips with my embarrassing and frightening reality. This type of anxiety is often all consuming and it was for me that week. Every moment of every day was filled with musings on the woeful state of affairs I was in. It seemed like it would never go away. It would never leave. It would not be present in some way. Fast forward a week to the tournament, I was able to get some semblance of confidence back even though it was a shaky confidence as you can have. I ended up competing for the most part. I still did not play well enough to make the cut and I ended my overseas bid that year with more miscuts than I wanted to admit.

This wasn’t some fairy tale story where I was able to conquer the anxiety and come out on top. This was a story where the anxiety got the best of me and my game, limiting my ability and keeping me from what I truly wanted. The story didn’t end there either. It continued and persisted in the back of my mind throughout the next year until an injury sideline my career and replaced those fears with new ones. The point that I want to make is this. Overcoming anxieties and fears that we face especially deep-rooted, deep-seated, well-established fears. Overcoming those does not happen overnight and is always a longer journey than we’d like. With that being said, there has to be an inkling of hope. There has to be some semblance of belief that growth is possible. Even if that faith is as tiny as a mustard seed, that faith is all you need.

Elements That Fuel Anxiety

I share these examples to give you a taste of where I’ve experienced anxiety and what my process has been. It will undoubtedly look much different for you than for me. I want to give you some context of where I am speaking from. A background with some experience of anxiety but not near the experience that many of you may have. From the three examples I shared, there are three different elements I believe play a large role in fueling the anxiety we experience. In the first example, it was the anticipation of a looming event that I cared deeply about. When there is something that is important to us and we spent either a long time avoiding it or building up in preparation for it, we will inevitably experience some level of anxiety from the fact that we spent so much mental energy in thinking through every aspect or component of that moment. Our minds can create the most spectacular movie scripts in these occasions and they are driven by fear in unhelpful ways.

Fears can be controlling, and the results are never what we wanted. Click To Tweet

In the second example, it shows that set and setting our major fuels of anxiety. When we are in a new setting that we have never experienced before or in a new role that we’ve never done before, we are much more prone to nervous energy and anxiety about what may come in the future unknown. There’s so much comfort in the familiar in what we know that just by being in an unfamiliar environment or place will often cause us to be much more prone to heightened anxiety during those moments. Finally, the last example goes to show that traumatic events where we experienced pain, hurt, emotional letdown, failure or rejection. Those events are often implanted and entrenched in our minds in such a deep way that we can’t help but continue stoking the flame of that fear even if it was an abnormal experience as with my yips.

The short-term memory of my horrible shot superseded all the other memories of the good wedge shots I’ve hit and that one memory continued to dominate my thoughts as it was fueled greater and greater by the fear that magnified it and fueled the anxiety I faced around them. Anticipation, set and setting, and past failures or traumas, these three are major factors in the levels of anxiety that we experience or face. Being aware of them is such a helpful tool. The question that always remains is what to do? What can we do? There are three suggestions I want to end with. These three ideas are informed largely by thinking through the situations I spoke on conversations with others about their experiences and the sermon series by Judah Smith on anxiety. It was a six-part series that is definitely worth listening to.

The three most helpful suggestions I’ve heard, experienced or thought about myself are first, community matters most. As humans, we are relational beings. We are created to be in relationship with one another, in a relationship with God. Without relationships, without community, when in isolation by ourselves, we are subject to our fears in much greater capacity and lengths than with others. We cannot gain objectivity on our own. We need others to help us see clearly. With anxiety, we often can’t see very clearly because it clouds our vision. Without the help and support of a trusted friend or a few others that you rope to what you’re experiencing, the journey will be much harder.

Community is important and having one person, it doesn’t matter who it is, having one is enough oftentimes to be able to support you, to love you, to journey with you in facing this. These things are darkness. This darkness gained so much strength by remaining in the dark, by remaining isolated and it leads to us isolating ourselves. We have to fight against it by embracing and involving the community. Judah highlights this a lot in the sermon series and it’s valuable and important. It’s important to know that you are not alone. You are a part of this human experience with the rest of us. You are a fellow human being on this journey called life. We need the help of each other, no matter what it is.

UAC 134 | Overcoming Anxiety

Overcoming Anxiety: Reframing is changing our perspective on a thing.

 

Counteracting Anxiety

The second suggestion is that there are tools that can serve as a help regardless of how big or small the progress feels. Oftentimes, we feel like we cannot gain any ground over something like anxiety. It feels like there’s nothing that will help. There’s nothing that will counteract the crippling effect that it has on our lives. Yet there are tools that we can practice, that we can use to gain ground, whether it be an inch, a centimeter, a millimeter, a foot or maybe a yard. These are tools that I’ve seen benefit myself and I know they can help and provide benefit to others.

The first tool is priming. Priming is the concept of setting your mindset, preparing your mind and your thoughts before something occurs. On a simple relational level, if I’m going to hang out with someone, I went to prime myself beforehand by reminding myself that this time is for the other person and I want to love and care for them and not be distracted by other things that are going on my mind. This little bit of a reminder is a primer for me before those relational times. Similarly, when we know that there are situations or times when we experience anxiety, priming ourselves to expect, understand or know that what we’ll feel in those moments doesn’t define who we are and know that if it’s expected, it affects us less. We can prime ourselves by reminding ourselves of what know to be true and preparing ourselves mentally for whatever is to come, even reminding ourselves that it too will pass.

Another tool is reframing. Reframing is changing our perspective on a thing. I’m standing here at my desk and I’m looking into the computer and the microphone on the wall. If I turn around and see the other part of the room, it’s a completely different room. Did the room change? No, but my view of the room changed. In every situation, we can see something from two different perspectives, at least if not more. Reframing is putting whatever the situation is in a more helpful perspective than hurtful perspective. This often takes practice. We often have to train ourselves to do it, but as possible, it’s always possible to see something with a different lens also where the community helps with that. Oftentimes, the community is the fuel for helping us reframe something that may be hard for us to see differently.

Another tool is fear setting. This is one of the most helpful ones in my opinion. This is basically a practice where we play out whatever scenario it is that is causing us fear, anxiety or nervous energy. Maybe it’s a job interview, it’s a speaking event, it’s your first date with someone, who knows? Fill in the blank. Fear setting is, “I’ve got this job interview and I’m extremely nervous. I’m anxious about it. It’s affecting my sleep, my day. I don’t know what to do.” Fear setting is a great tool because it says, “Let’s stop. We’re facing this fear. Let’s hash it out.” What is the worst-case scenario?

The community is the fuel for helping us reframe something that may be hard for us to see differently. Click To Tweet

You go to the job interview, your fly is unzipped, your shirt gets a coffee stain on it, you’re disheveled, you show up fifteen minutes late, you forget an important document. They end up you have to wait in the waiting room for an extra hour. You’re running behind schedule and your next appointment is now out of the window. You get in there and you fudge up everything and it’s a horrible interview, then you walk out. It was the worst possible scenario and then what? By putting yourself in that worst possible scenario, playing it out to the end, we all begin to realize that I’m still breathing, I’m still alive, I still have my friends and family loved me, I still have food, I still have shelter. Whatever it is, there are things that are essential to life that will still be in place even if the worst-case scenario happens. That fear setting exercise is so helpful to help us realize that your rational fears that we often have.

Some other practical tools are breathwork. Breathing is such an important part of regulating our body with anxiety, with nervousness, with any type of fear. Our breath becomes limited or restricted. Claustrophobia is due internally, physiologically, to heighten CO2 levels in our body. CO2 heightens when oxygen decreases. Whenever you’re feeling claustrophobic, everyone says breathe because breathing helps to regulate our physiology so that we don’t experience as much anxiety or nervousness or that feeling that you get when you’re claustrophobic.

Breathwork is important. Remembering to breathe slow and steady, deep breaths through the nose, out the mouth is a helpful tool. Another great tool that simple as meditation. Dr. Joe Dispenza talks a lot about in his book, which I mention a bit. Meditation helps quiet that monkey mind that brain that will never stop moving. We often are bad at doing it, meditating at first. With practice, we slowly but surely improve and get better. Meditation is a practice that’s worthwhile. It’s worthy over time and it won’t happen by chance, we have to make time to make it happen. Early on, it will feel like it’s not doing anything. After committing to it for a period of time, it will pay dividends.

Finally, gratitude. Gratitude is the easiest and most potent tool that we can use in fighting anxiety or other challenges we face. Gratitude is simply saying these are the things I’m grateful for. I’m grateful to be alive. I journaled about what I was grateful for and I wasn’t planning on talking about this but here we are. I said I’m grateful for my health and my strength getting to work out. I’m grateful for the sweetest gift in my bride, for the season of life that I’m in, for the anchor of my soul, which is Jesus. I’m so grateful for the adventure that awaits ahead. Those were five simple things that I journaled this morning. A daily morning practice of journaling a few things that you’re grateful for completely shifts our perspective.

UAC 134 | Overcoming Anxiety

 

It returns us to a place of acceptance and it’s such a useful and easy tool to use. The shortlist of tools that I mentioned were priming, reframing, fear setting, breathwork breathing, meditation, and gratitude. The three most helpful suggestions are one that community matters most. Two that there are tools that we can use to help regardless of how big or small that progress is. Three, the fact that anxiety never defines you no matter how much it may feel like it at times. You are not anxiety, you are you. Just like I am not a speaker, podcast host or ex-pro athlete, whatever it is. I am a human being. My name is Thane. That’s it. We are not identified or defined by what we experience.

Many times, it may feel like you were defined by what you experience and that you are anxious, as we often say. When we say I have anxiety, we start associating ourselves with that thing. We start identifying ourselves with the thing that we say we have. In a more helpful way of saying that I experience anxiety because it is an experience and it’s a very real one, but it never defines you and our language matters so much with that. For us to own and embrace that we are not defined by our anxiety, depression, or whatever else we experience, we have to shift our language to represent that so that our minds can also follow. Committing to the belief in the fact that you are not defined by your anxiety is such an important pillar, it’s such an important foundation to operate off of.

Finally, there are also a few books that I would recommend as resources that may be beneficial and better understanding our minds and our bodies as well as our nervous system and how the body is reacting physiologically with anxiety and other things that we experience. There are six books in all. and these are some that I’ve read. I’m sure there are many other resources out there and you can always send us an email or tag us online if you have some helpful ones. We’d love to share that as well. Body-specific, physiologically speaking, the two books I’d suggest are one, You Are The Placebo by Dr. Joe Dispenza. It’s such an important book on the power of belief in healing the body. He goes to show through many scientific studies, examples and cases that he’s experienced and hadn’t of how powerful our mindset is in shifting and changing our physiology. It will blow your mind. It blew mine.

The second body-specific one to better understand stress is called The End of Stress As We Know It by Bruce McEwen. This was a great book on getting down to the nitty-gritty of what’s happening physiologically when we experienced stress and what it produces within our body. It’s such a helpful book and getting a better clear understanding of how our bodies operate and work so that we can know what we’re experiencing and help shift or change what we’re experiencing.

On the philosophy or psychology side, there are two books I’d recommend. The first one is To Have or To Be by Erick Fromm. This is written in the ’70s I believe. Erich Fromm is a German psychoanalyst. It’s an amazing book and discourse that my grandpa, Peter Pike, recommended on the difference between this mindset around having versus being in America and in the Western world. We’ve associated ourselves with what we have instead of what we are as humans. This is a great book expanding on that thought in a way that we can clearly, understand and see that the detriment that’s caused by associating who we are with what we have. It’s an awesome book. The second one on the psychology or philosophy side is called Awareness by Anthony de Mello. I finished this one and it is a game-changer. Anthony de Mello was a Jesuit priest and he breaks down what true awareness is and the power that it brings. It’s called Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality. It’s truly that. I can’t recommend this book enough. He hammers it home in such beautiful, eloquent ways. Check that one out.

On the sports-specific side, because that’s more my background, there are two that I would recommend. One is called the Mindful Athlete by George Mumford. This is all about the practice and power of presence within the competition and how we can amplify our ability by becoming a very mindful and present person and competitor. It’s such a great book and helpful for my own sports career. The second one that I recommend is called The Inner Game of Tennis by Timothy Gallwey. This book is so powerful in breaking down and illustrating the inner dialogue that happens on the mental side of competing. It’s illustrated from the game of tennis, but it applies to all sports and even business and life outside of sport. It talks about our self-talk as between two different inner selves. The key to performance is creating a healthy dialogue between those two selves. I can’t recommend it enough either.

I hope and pray that these suggestions or some of the stories I shared might strike a chord with where you were at or what you were experiencing. Do I have the answer? No. I’m not sure that I have any answer, to be honest. What I am sure of is this, you are not alone. You are not defined by anxiety and you are not forever bound to anxieties chains. I don’t know how long of a struggle remains, but I know there is always hope and his name is Jesus. He doesn’t promise for it to go away, but he does promise to give us the strength to face whatever comes our way. He also promises that he will never leave us nor forsake us. That is our ultimate hope and I pray it would give you strength even as you listen to this now. Know that you are loved and known by God and by others. This is a journey we can’t travel alone. We need each other. If you were someone who doesn’t face or experience anxiety regularly in your life, maybe this message was for you to hear so that you can be on the lookout for someone who may need an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on because every little thing matters. That is all I have for you. Thanks for tuning in and I hope you have an up and coming week.

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UAC 133 | Pulling Out The Stop

 

More than ever, what we all need in this complicated world is a reminder of the simple joys in life. We have become so inundated by the happenings around us that we forget to pull out the stop sign, breathe, and remind ourselves that we, too, must also live. In this fellowship episode, Thane Marcus Ringler reunites with co-founder and former co-host of this podcast, Adam Setser. Now building his life and career as a financial advisor in Valdosta, Georgia, Adam catches us up on the things he is going through in life and what he is learning. He shares to us his new obsession with camping, segueing into our need for grounding in the simple joys and mundane things of life. He also talks about the difference between living a balanced life and a passionate life. Expanding his career, Adam then talks about organ playing, his new writing endeavor, and a whole lot more. Join in on this comfortable and engaging conversation between old friends, and be reminded to find novelty and beauty in the simple things of creation.

Listen to the podcast here:

Fellowship Ft. Adam Setser: Pulling Out All The Stops: Camping, Writing, Organs, And More

This is a fellowship episode with one of my best friends, Adam Setser. He is a Cofounder of this show and was the Cohost for the first few years. He lives in Valdosta, Georgia with his wife, Faith, and is a financial advisor at the Kerrigan Group. He also writes and has had a long journey with health that he’s battled through many things with. He’s building his life and career in Valdosta, Georgia, in the deep South. What was fun about this show and when we used to cohost it together is that I live on the West Coast in Los Angeles. He lives in the South in Valdosta, Georgia, which provides two vastly different cultures, perspectives, worldviews. How we face things in this stage of life from those different lenses with a similar background and context, makes for fun and interesting conversations. Although he’s no longer the cohost, he’s still an important part of the Up And Comers community. It’s such a joy to have him back on for a fellowship episode, to dive into what he’s learning, what he’s going through in life and riff on all the fun things.

This episode talks a lot about camping, one of his new obsessions. We talk a lot about our need for grounding in the simple joys and the mundane things of life and returning to finding novelty and beauty in the simple things of creation. We talk a lot about living a balanced life versus a passionate life. We talk about his expansion in his career. We talk about inspiration and moments that bring passion. We talk about his organ playing and other musical abilities that he has. It’s a wide-ranging conversation. We talk about his new writing endeavors in the local newspaper, some fun conversations and ultimately a lot of interesting subjects I know you will enjoy. This is hopefully going to be a recurring thing with Adam. I look forward to more from him. For now, sit back, relax and enjoy this fun, engaging and wide-ranging conversation as ever with my friend, Adam Setser.

What’s up, Adam?

Since we last spoke, I went crazy so we have a lot to unpack.

We’ve got to unpack your craziness. One of the craziness was you were planning and may still be planning on starting a new podcast. It deals with something else that’s a newer purchase in your life or should I say elimination by addition?

What happened was we got super excited about camping because we bought a camper. We were first-time RV owners living our dream. We were like, “There are people out there who have podcasts that all they talk about is campers and YouTube people that do YouTube videos. We could do that too and make money talking about what we love.” About a year passed and all we kept talking about was, “We could do this. We could start a podcast.” Nothing ever happened. We sold the camper and downsized to a smaller camper. Our old camper was Bougie.

It was big and nice. We called her Isabelle, Issy for short because she is a diva. The new one is little, small and simple. We call him Thumper. It’s a very different vibe. I’m glad we didn’t start the show because everybody would be like, “What is he even doing? Do they even know who they are?” The answer is no. Now, I feel like we’ve got a little more traction. We could develop an audience with this thing. Come in 2021, we’ll probably be big hits on the social media scene with regard to audio and video of camper stuff.

Why has it been your obsession? It has been your obsession.

It defined 2019. That’s a hard question to answer. If anybody’s out there reading this and you have never been camping, let me tell you, you are missing out on one of the greatest joys of life. I don’t know how to quantify that except that camping is the experience that we’re all longing for when we lay down at night and we’re tired. We hear this voice in our head that says, “You did a lot and you did it good or you sucked and did it bad,” or whatever. That voice inside of us is the voice that wants to talk all the time but can’t. When you go camping, you have to make peace with it.

Not everybody does this like some campers are fools in a good way. I’m not trying to be judgmental. Some campers are super intentional. It’s almost a mindfulness camping. That’s a little bit of what I got into. It’s not to brag. I’m a pretty mindful guy. I love the adventure. I love seeing the country. All that bull aside, this is the true answer if you’re going to travel, there are only two ways to do it. There’s one travel to get where you’re going to experience a certain experience. The other form of travel would be to enjoy the journey and see the countryside.

Me and Faith, the reason we downgraded campers is that we realized we’re not diehard RV-ers. We’re not trying to jump in our car and strike out on road trips all the time. Sometimes we want to fly. Sometimes we want to travel by boat. They call it cruises. RV-ers don’t have any diversity. They got an $800 payment per month to pay for this RV, so they have to use it. What we realized is that we like diversity and when we go camping, this is what we want to be doing. The type of camping we want to do is when you want to see the actual face of the planet world, you need to go in a camper.

There’s no better way to do it than parking your camper on the side of Zion National Park in Utah and watching the sun go down and watching it come back up. You’re there chilling, eating, cooking and pooping in your poop shelter and doing your little thing like a dog, like an animal. God made you be like an animal. You get back to these basic senses and it’s there in that simplicity you find the freedom that you don’t get when you go to a big city. Your life is as much ruled by the city as it is you, your intentionality and your connection to the creator.

How has the practice of being an avid camper shaped for your perspective? How has that shifted your perspective or helped you be more balanced or even more healthy when you are at home?

It has given me so much clarity and passion to know my Creator. I feel like I understand the lordship of Christ. I understand the saviorship of Christ, but I rarely can understand Him truly as my Creator, my maker and what he’s making. I have reduced God down to a psychological figure who runs human interaction. When you get out there, one of the biggest things that it did to me is it shifted to say humanity is the actors. The creation itself is its own actor. The Bible references that. You’ve got mountains all over the Bible. Mount Sinai is one of them.

For example, I started reading the Bible differently and I realized that all of Christianity can be summed up into a pursuit of the mountain where you’re going to find God. However, there are only two mountains you can go to meet with God. There’s Mount Sinai and there’s Mount Calvary. I ripped this off from Tim Keller, but it made sense because I’m a camper now. I get this whole mountain thing. Mount Calvary is where you go to meet with God in the law and in his righteousness and holiness. You go there to please him, “Look how much I can do.” We do that so often, especially Baptist because we try to check a box and please him in our legality, a legal sense.

Jesus came to God himself and died to purchase our salvation on Mount Calvary. Anytime we run to Mount Sinai to see God, we act like Jesus never came. Those two locations speak volumes about what God did and who he is. My point is that one of the things it’s done is change my understanding of the world and God because He is as influential on locations, the beauty of those locations and the beauty of the world and the real world. He’s not psychological. It’s not like the world just set up and run and now he’s doing his thing. He’s more manifest in the creation, sometimes in humanity.

I love that Mount Sinai versus Mount Calvary. I almost feel like how Rohr even frames it in his book, Falling Upward, this first and second spiritual journey. The first journey is almost always us trying to do it on our own. That’s true of the people of Israel too. That was their journey and God brought them on that journey to show us that we can’t do it on our own. We had to come to the death of ourselves again and realize it’s not about that.

Camping has taught me as well that this was right from the beginning. What hooked me is, “I’m not going away from my life and escaping my life into an alternate reality, where I pay money for people to pick up my bags.” When you go to resorts or when I say vacation, immediately what comes to mind is I pay people to pick up my bags. It’s not refreshing. It’s an escape from reality. You come away from that going, “Why can’t people pick up my bags every day?” That’s not reality.

When you want to see the actual face of the planet world, you need to go in a camper. Click To Tweet

You’re not the center of the universe even though vacations are a momentary pause where you are the center. You can have whatever you would like.

What vacation makes you feel like you’re more energized to get back to the work you do and you’re more passionate about it. For me, that was camping because when I go camping, I’m still responsible for everything. I’ve got to set everything up. I’ve got to cook, bring the food and clean it. Me and Faith, we’re in this together and no one’s carrying our bags. I’ve got to empty the poop tank myself. Faith doesn’t do that. Nobody does that. I got to do that. This is real life, yet it is a vacation. You’re getting away from your mundane cycle of life. You’re breaking that cycle but you’re doing it in a way that is super earthy, real and refreshing in a God-honoring sense. I’m very passionate about it because people throw money on vacations all the time. I don’t know that what they’re wanting, they can have in their real life. That’s the thing.

Vacation sells you on the idea that you have to retire and live in a resort. Otherwise, you’re never going to be happy and do nothing. Live in a resort and let people carry your bags and you pay them money to carry your bags. In reality, what we’re all wanting, we can have in our daily life because what nature and camping teaches you is what you’re looking for is purpose. If you go camping without purpose, it sucks. You’re sitting there doing nothing. You end up drinking too much and chilling. You’re pointless and you’re not observing the creation. If you get out in the creation of a purpose and say, “We’re going to climb that mountain and when we get at the top, what we’re going to do is take a picture and we’re going to magnify holy smokes. Isn’t that going to be an awesome moment?”

We’re going to drive seven hours to set up and do it and all this stuff. Once you get there and you invest yourself in that, you come back refreshed. It teaches you, “I can find that same purpose in my life.” I’m sitting here at my desk at home looking out the window in my office at plants in my backyard that have flowers on them and people go drive hours to go see flowers. It’s right here. My best life is the life where I see the flowers and I am fulfilled by going, “God, you’re beautiful. Look at the flowers.” It’s not, “Someone isn’t carrying my bags. I’m tired of carrying my bags.” It makes no sense.

It’s like this concept of dopamine fasting. That’s the trendy thing to say, but it’s finding the beauty and the novelty in the things that are the most basic parts of our world that we’ve lost. I can’t remember who said it but there’s a quote about, “If the stars only came out once in a lifetime, everyone will be out watching them. Instead, everyone will be watching TV and no one sees them.” It’s so true. Go out and look at the stars one night and be blown away by it. That is redemptive beauty. That’s redemptive reality versus cheap entertainment that we all fall into. It’s not to say that all of that is bad, it’s just saying that if we can’t see the beauty in the things that are richer and more fulfilling, then we’re missing out a lot in life.

What I realized is when we bought the big camper, we did it because we were new to it and everybody told us we had to. In reality, after about a year, we were like, “This is getting in the way. It’s like I bought a super nice camper because I was told there was going to be a guy that pops out and carries my bags and he doesn’t. It’s still a camper. It’s like you’re buying the resort on wheels that you can tow behind you. When it gets too cold outside, you go inside and you can sit in a heated recliner or you can sit in the dinette or you can lay in a bed. You got eight options of where you can go and you have unlimited hot water. There’s all this stuff and you’re like, “I’m towing my home around behind me.” After the novelty runs out, you’re like, “I’m towing all the crap behind me that I was trying to get away from.” I still have this mindset of I need to be comfortable all the time.

Once we got through that, we realized here we are towing this 8,000-pound camper behind us everywhere we go and setting it up 30 feet, all this rigamarole so we can spend all our time outside and go back inside to sleep. What we did is we went from a 30-foot, 8,000 pounds trailer to an 11-foot 1,500-pound trailer, which is a bed on wheels with an outdoor kitchen, outdoor bathroom, everything is outdoor. If you watch Lord of the Rings, the elves in Rivendell did not build these huge mansions with glass everywhere to look through. They lived outside and there were leaves blowing through their bedroom because their bedroom was open. It was beautiful outside, it’s heaven, it’s elves. I’m like, “What are we doing? We need to get outside.” I would be in the camper and look out the window and go, “I bet it’s cool out there.” I’m like, “I came out here to be outside.”

Have you guys dipped in the hammock game at all?

We do have two hammocks we carry with us. We’ll set them up or we’ll go hike to a destination and set them up. I love it. I’m very much spend sleeping on it.

UAC 133 | Pulling Out The Stop

 

It’s something I’ve been getting into with Evan quite a bit. It’s sweet. There’s something to it. Speaking of camping too, for people that may now be interested in camping or whatever, what are the common mistakes that most people make?

Buying too much gear. People have different errors. My brother never got into it because when he got into it, he was so excited because it was the one place he could go and chill and not have to do anything. When at home, everything follows him. It taught him the value of chilling. You could go for three days and have zero agenda the entire time. That’s good because you’re living in the present and you’re serendipitously moving from thing to thing, which is super rare for Southern people to do. That was good for him.

It hits everybody differently. For me, what people end up mistaking getting into camping is on a spectrum of equipment. You either buy crap equipment because you’re too cheap like my dad and you get wet. You ruin your whole camping experience because you’re wet, it’s rainy and you’re digging a hole to poop in. A Porta Potty is $50. Buy the Porta-Potty, it’s way better. There are certain things. There’s a fine line between not enough gear and too much gear. I always would rather start with less and add as you go. Don’t be afraid of buying decent stuff. That’s one of the biggest things.

That’s good in life too. You can always add on more but quality goes a long way.

The other thing is it taught me what it means to be passionate about something. I don’t know why, but I’ve been passionate about things my whole life. This is nothing new, but it was the first thing I’ve ever gotten into as an adult that went from zero to hero. I realized I had cared nothing about camping until I got started researching it and I watched the flow. I was like, “What does it look like for a human to get super passionate about something?” What it looks like is it captures your daydreams. You bring it up in conversation to people all the time. You watch YouTube videos all the time.

I’m always on YouTube watching this next camping video, where I’m like, “What gear does he have? Where did he go? How did he handle it? What did he do this time? What did it do for poop? Here are all these things.” I realized that when you look at everything else in your life that you say you’re passionate about, odds are it’s grown stale. What does it mean to get a new life? I can talk about that spiritually but for me, what it meant was opening myself up to do things in a spiritual sense that I’d never thought that I would for a spiritual reason and letting that reignite my flame for God in a way that rocked me. If we can get into that, I’ll launch. I’m just waiting for you to go ahead.

I want you to dive into that, but I want to push pause on that because I’ll follow up. You’ve always been passionate about things. I’ve known you to be passionate about some things. As a person, you tend to gravitate towards a fixture of that passion, obsessed about it and deep dive into it. What would you say is your obsession? Is it still camping or is there a new target for that focus or that passion? I know camping has been the last year, but I’m curious that there’s something new since we last talked.

I’m developing a deep passion for what it looks like to run a deeply passionate balanced life. I write in the newspaper and do that every week. It’s been rewarding and fun. I meet with clients. Our business is growing at a level that is inorganic. It’s starting to snowball. I’ve got inorganic opportunities. That’s rewarding and awesome, family and future kids. What it means to be alive is you tolerate everything and you have a side passion that’s super exciting. People typically think that’s how it should. You work for an income so you can have an income. You get married so you can have kids or seek companionship.

Here are all these task-oriented things and along the side here is football. That’s what you’re excited about. If you’re not as excited about your wife as you are football, you got something wrong. I realize it’s the same thing for your work. It’s the same thing for everything. Some people aren’t blessed to have work they love. I get that and that’s the curse. I’m sorry that you labor with those weeds like Adam did tirelessly. Some people get to work in a way that is redemptive. They feel it, it’s a flow and it carries them. It’s so exciting. Some careers you can’t do it with, that means you probably need to change your career but most you can. That’s what I mean. You got YouTube people who get all excited about these things. This is the thought. It all comes down to this.

You have to help people come to their conclusion and you can't by making a statement. Click To Tweet

Imagine if I spent every second, every minute, every hour or every interval of my life as deeply invested at that moment in a passionate way as I am about campers right now or about organ right now, or whatever it is that’s got my fancy. I realized that what it means to be a mature adult is that you have the ability to run all of that at once and imagine what you can accomplish if you give yourself to those things, not just commit, follow through with commitments, and finished tasks. You end up Google searching stuff all the time about your job, your marriage, your camping hobby, your shooting hobby and your traveling hobby or whatever it is. You end up with all your life talks together in this way that is movement.

What you’re speaking to as well is in adulthood, it’s a journey towards full integration of saying, “This isn’t separate boxes that are a part of my life. They’re all my life.” It’s full integration. That’s what also God calls us to is he doesn’t want to compartmentalize your morning devotion time or your Sunday time at church. It’s full integration into everything. That is the journey from adolescence into adulthood and also returning to that child-like wonder and awe that we all should still long to have. It’s that adult version that’s still integrating that into the life that we do know. It’s a pretty beautiful journey. It’s also extremely hard.

The long answer would be I’m equally as excited about writing as I am about campers, my work, my wife, and the Lord, He’s all over that. The organ is thrown in there.

We’re going to get to the organ but first, let’s get to the writing because that’s a newer addition. That column came out of nowhere. Tell me about writing in the column of the newspaper. Was that something that you always wanted to do? Have you ever imagined yourself writing in the local newspaper? What has been the learnings from this first season of doing that?

I don’t think I ever imagined myself doing much of anything that I’m doing right now on a daily basis. I also joined Rotary Club and I’m joining Toastmasters, which is a speaking club. I’m in two civic clubs now. Toastmasters is the craziest of things that I’m like, “Why would I ever do that?” You get together and do public speaking and public shame yourself with this group of people and you get no money for it. You pay money to do this. There are dividends but it’s another story. Writing has always been a passion, but I never imagined myself writing for the paper.

It wasn’t prestigious but at the same time, I always did love the physical paper. I always was romantic about it. One day I want to write for a paper or anything like Valdosta Daily Times would want me or that I have anything offered them or that it was a big deal. What happened is I almost died about a few months ago. There were some things that happened at work that shook me awake. It wasn’t anything dramatic. I realized that I’m bored. I was like, “I can’t be bored so I’ve got to find a different career.” I almost was like, “Maybe I should change careers.” I realized, which is why I have anything to say at all valuable is because I’ve been through this where you’re like, “I’m doing the same thing over and over. What’s the point? There is meaning here, but it’s not exciting and I’m dying.”

What do I need to do now? I had two theories. One, I shop around. Two, I deepen my experience, so I did both. I can tell you shopping around was depressing because all work is depressing if you shop around like that. The only meaning you found in work is once you get in there and uncover it. It’s very rare that you shop for jobs and you’re like, “Right from the get-go, this is where all the redemption is. This is where God is. This is how I’m going to be fulfilled. This is all the meaning. This is all my talents match up.” College kids drive me crazy with all their shopping and career planning. I’m like, “You have no idea what that career is even about. Go into the general direction, don’t overthink it and in ten years you’ll change because you’ll finally figure out who you are. That’s okay.”

You’ll then rinse and repeat and do it again.

I realize how blessed I was to end up where I am that has so much ceiling for growth. I had that conversation with my partners at work and I said, “I can’t check the box and do the work. I need to accept this as a mission, which means my purpose statement is changing from Adam exists in a work way to help people be financially free or promote their financial flourishing or whatever. Adam exists to promote the financial flourishing of the entire community of which his personal one-on-one clients are the groundwork.”

UAC 133 | Pulling Out The Stop

Pulling Out The Stop: There are only two ways to travel: one is to get to a certain experience and the other is to enjoy the journey and see the countryside.

 

My point is my mission changed to be bigger than myself, bigger than my people and bigger than my revenue. That captured me at a level that I said, “Put revenue aside, what would be super fulfilling? If that’s what satisfies me, how do I do that?” I realized that means I need to be more vocal than I’m being. I said, “Who is going to promote the financial flourishing of the community, the mayor? He doesn’t have time. Nobody’s got time. Nobody cares. Who cares and who gets paid to do that? I’m like, “The financial professional does.” It’s my job not to get clients or to persuade people to be my client or whatever. That’s not my job.

My job is to get paid to stand in the gap and say the things that no one is saying about finance and promote that to finance it, to speak about it and all this stuff. If I give myself to that, that’s a mission that people will join in with. It’s not about them anymore. It’s about us as a community. It’s bigger. I realized that writing is a great way to do that. Along with that, I read some books that were very important like one called Power by Andy Crouch and one called To Change the World by James Davison Hunter. He references Crouch and has a different take. It’s super helpful to say, “If you’re out to change the world and if my mission is to change the world to promote the flourishing of it in a financial way, particularly I need to go to the power centers.”

I can’t start from ground zero and go, “I’m going to start a blog and it’s going to change the world.” If you’re a Christian and you want to influence the world with truth, you can start your own little blog or you can work your fanny off trying to earn your stripes to get into The New York Times. There’s something different about The New York Times versus your blog. I realized that The Valdosta Daily Times is my New York Times. When I realized that, I marched up there. I wanted to see the editor. I got my way into his office for 5 minutes and 20 minutes later he said, “You can write whatever you want.” It was that clear. I don’t have any contact. I don’t have any agenda except to say, “I’m telling you this is my mission. This is why I’m here.” He felt the passion. That’s been a few months ago.

There are many things that were awesome in that especially moving from individual to the community. You do have to start on the individual level. Can I create or change individuals in this way and shift into a larger form once that’s a proven reality that you can embrace? The mission does change. I want to hear about in those few months of writing at the column, what did you expect coming in and what has changed in your perspective about it or how has it surprised you?

I expected it to be super businessy. I’m in the business section and I pitched for the business section. What I’ve found is I’ve gotten more encouragement and it’s trended this way to become way more holistic. If I were to name the column, I would have started by naming it, financial planning or something stupid, something very financially. I was trying to keep my nose clean and do a good job. I realized that people don’t care about that. People don’t need you to fit the box. They want to be interested. There are two other columnists that do columns every week.

There are three of us in the business section and the other two have their own shtick. Every time you read it, you know what you’re getting is consistent, which is great but no one reads it anymore. No one cares. Here’s mine where every week it’s me and I’m genuinely pushing the envelope of what I know. Every week, I learn something new. It’s fresh and it’s me. It’s business but it’s also life. It’s a philosophy and it all connects. Here I am trying to break the mold, but I can do that in a small town because they don’t want anybody banging on their door.

I can’t tell, “Be the same way as Wall Street Journal.” They’d probably kick me out by now because I did not follow through with my proposal. That’s the been the surprising thing is how encouraging they’ve been and everyone else to say, “You’re right, business is everything.” Right from your face perspective, right about what you think about business from God’s perspective and other stuff like that. The last column I wrote about was taking a business concept called the FIRE Movement, which is Financial Independence Retire Early. You can YouTube FIRE Movement. There’s a bunch of young Millennials on there talking about how they retired at 35 and they’re living in a trailer or whatever.

They made it happen and they saved over half their income for ten years and ate peanuts. They retired and they live in a trailer. I responded to that saying, “What about that small voice in your head that says, ‘You’re doing good, son?’” At the end of the day, all you’ve done is sit there because you were financially able to “retire.” What’s the point? Retirement is not biblical. Even more than that, early retirement is even less biblical. We’re called to work and work hard. If we’re not happy with how much we’ve accomplished, then go do more. At some point, you have to make peace with your maker and when you do, you work out of joy, but you won’t go sit down and chill. He made you do something. It’s a business article, but it’s not really.

Usefulness too is an important means of fulfillment in life. What you’re doing in that FIRE Movement, I haven’t heard about it before, that sounds like you’re dangling a carrot in front of people saying this is what you want. Anytime that happens, we can safely be assured that’s not what’s best for us.

Clarity is not necessarily going to win the day. It's going to be clarity with a bit of ambiguity that draws people into thinking. Click To Tweet

That article challenges the entire American conception of retirement in general. It could go a lot deeper. Here’s one thing I have learned that’s done well for me. Instead of preaching some truth, present the details and present the flaws as well as the perception of positives. If you’re going to preach, ask questions and give maybes. It’s super powerful to leave it open-ended and ask your audience to think for themselves. I rarely ever say, “It’s wrong. This is stupid because of this.” That article ended with the statement, “If you accept the FIRE principles, when you lay down to bed at night, the voice that tells you, ‘You did good,’ will be your own.”

My point is it won’t be God’s. You have heard His, but then it won’t be. You’ll be telling yourself a lie. That certainly is more preachy than I normally get, but it’s convincing and roundabout. That’s something I’ve learned in communication. You have to help people come to their conclusion and you can’t by making a statement. Clarity is not necessarily going to win the day. It’s going to be clarity with a bit of ambiguity that draws them into thinking. That is the art of writing. If you can say, “Here’s a theme” and straight through the middle of that theme, “Here’s the thesis,” like an arrow. If you give the tip of that arrow ambiguity, you’ve done your job.

The curiosity takes over on the person that receives it and the job’s done for you. It’s even better because it’s them doing it, not you. That’s where the power comes.

If I were to look back from where I started, where I am now, my articles have changed so much. My voice is starting to appear. I’m more personal. I couldn’t do that to start with. There is a natural progression where I feel like I’m now crawling. One day when I’m 50 and I’ve done this for 25 years-ish, I’ll finally be able to write some good stuff.

It’s hard to do but recognizable when you read it. There’s a book that has seem to lead, Antifragile. I’ve been in the middle of that for a while because it’s a long book. It’s like seven books in one. His style is one of my favorites because it’s so him. There’s no other writer that is the same as his style. It’s very conversational. It’s very nonchalant but it’s also very deep and in the weeds. It’s all this blended into one. He’s also incorporating his unique worldview in a way that’s refreshing because you can tell that he doesn’t care about any preconceptions about how you should write. He’s going to write how he wants to write in his voice and he does it well.

It is refreshing to have that. I love what you brought up about being you, but learning something new, especially for this genre of Up And Comers. A lot of times, we’re thinking about starting new projects or trying to take a passion for more of a career, whatever it may be. If we can remember that, strive to be you. Don’t try to pretend to be something that you’re not. Do it for the sake of learning for yourself, not for the sake of giving other people something. Make whatever you do worth it. That’s such a helpful foundation to start anything from like we started this podcast from. It’s like, “We enjoy these conversations, let’s record them and share them because they’re helpful for us. Maybe they’ll be helpful for someone else.” That’s where we started. I thought that’s a beautiful place to begin for anyone. We need to get back to Ford versus Ferrari.

Did you see that movie, Ford versus Ferrari?

I need to. I’ve heard a lot of people say it’s been amazing.

It was my favorite movie of 2019. I’m not a big movie buff but I love to go to movies with my wife. 2019 was the first year that I had complete flexibility at work to produce. That sounds awesome and everything, but it comes with a lot of pressure. It was the first year I’d ever gone to a movie during work hours. Here I am in a suit and I go see Ford versus Ferrari at 2:00 on Tuesday afternoon. I was so overwhelmed and I’d caught up essentially, but it was like I need to nap and watch a movie. I went in there thinking, “Okay, cool.” The next thing you know, that movie is my favorite. I started crying. It was profound.

UAC 133 | Pulling Out The Stop

Pulling Out The Stop: If you’re going to preach, ask questions and give maybes. It’s super powerful to leave it open-ended and ask your audience to think for themselves.

 

The reason is because it touched me somewhere down deep about this idea of racing and what it means to race and giving it your all. When I see a scene like in Ford versus Ferrari, it’s essentially about the story where Ford won their first Le Mans. There’s a scene where it’s late. It’s a 24-hour race. He’s exhausted. He’s pushing through his grind. He’s driving the perfect lap. You see that perfection and that overcoming, and it brought me tears. I was on the edge of my seat. I’m like, “Why am I this way?” I’m looking around me and the eight people that were in there were not moved at all.

Later, I saw it with my wife and I was watching her a little bit. She’s not moved at all. It’s cool. It’s racing, but there’s something in me. I was willing to admit what if I’m experiencing something that’s a trigger from my past that I’m the only one that can experience. It’s not true. If I were to say that, it freed me to say what undone stuffed I have down deep in my psyche that is responding to this. That was the first time I’ve had that deep inter thought about myself in a while. What it led me to see is that I’m most alive when I’m racing. There’s something about racing that God has geared me to love. I spent years of my high school and college life training to race. I know all about it and lots of tactics.

I obsessed about it, but it wasn’t just an obsession. It’s something deep down in me about when Paul in the New Testament uses the language of the Christian life being a race and running as if to win. I came away from that realizing I have been maimed. I’ve been limited by my illness but God has still called me to be a racer. I was crying because I realized I’d never get away from that. I always thought he’d taken away from me giving a Lyme disease. If you don’t know my story, go back to the first episode and give me grace. I’ve come a long way since then, but I still struggle with my health. I still struggle with limits. Limitations to me are limitations.

I wrote an article about this issue. It’s essentially about two men and how they handled limitations. What I’m not telling you in that article is that I ripped it off from a Jordan Peterson YouTube video where he says, “Choose your D-sacrifice.” His point is you don’t get the option of not sacrificing. If you’re a human and you are called to sacrifice, the best option you have is choose it because whatever you’re given and your limitation, your sacrifice, it’s been given to you and there’s nothing you can do to reverse that. If you don’t choose it, you’ll spend the rest of your life trying to get away from something you can’t get away from.

If you choose it and in return, you embrace it, what that limitation is it’s coming up to you. It’s grabbing you around the neck. It’s trying to choke you out and you have to hug it. If you hug it and you make peace with it, there’s no limit to what you can’t do. One guy in that example was the first blind guy to ever climb Mount Everest. He had this epiphany. “I’m blind. What am I going to do about it? I’m going to sit here or I’m going to hug my blindness, accept it. It’s dead to me. What if I’m not blind? What do I do now? I climb Mount Everest.” He did. He kayaked the whole Grand Canyon. He did the hardest rapids ever on a kayak blind. He did all this crazy stuff. It’s taught him more than if he had his eyes. It’s been better for him than if he has eyes.

There is one quote he talked about in his story. I saw him at a conference that blew my mind. His name is Erik Weihenmayer. He was talking about climbing and kayaking. They were climbing Everest and there were near the peak on this ledge that’s about a foot wide and you have to crawl or barely make it up this ledge. At that point, the sun was blotted out by a cloud. It was late at night anyway. They had zero light. The moon was blotted out. It was dark as pitch. Everybody started freaking out about how dark it was. He chuckled to himself because he was like, “Now you know what it’s like. I’m fine. Let’s keep going.” He led. He started taking the lead because he’s like, “I know this.”

Back to racing and giving it your all, which I want to also interject quickly. My roommate had on the NFL mic up version of the Super Bowl that’s dramatized. They had music to it. They make a story out of it and you hear the players and their conversations throughout the Super Bowl. The Chiefs is getting a win. I had piqued my interest a little bit more in this. I started watching it. I was fired up. It was like 7:30 or 8:00 PM. I’m like ready to go to war. It was the same thing with me. It’s like something about that gladiator-type competition of going towards with your brothers and against all odds. I remember there’s a scene where Tyrann Mathieu, who’s crazy. He has a screw loose.

They’re down ten. It’s the fourth quarter and you see him on the sideline and he’s been pissed. He’s been upset because they’re losing and they’re not playing well. He starts getting up and he goes, “I love this. This is what I love.” He starts going on the sideline saying that for ten minutes. They ended up making the most outrageous comeback and winning. Something about that also is the same experience for me of that passion, that igniting in my soul. Hearing you talk about that, I want to sit with that myself and see, “What is that? What’s underneath that?” It hasn’t gone away with golf going away. That’s a powerful process that I’m excited to go through.

It’s hard for people to transition from what they know to be a life-giving center in their past to what could be now. I’m never going to race the bike again, but that doesn’t mean I can’t experience that. For me, with my health, I was told that I shouldn’t experience that because when I do, my body is over-driven and that’s true. I’ve experienced that. There is a line there where it’s like, “Yes, but does that mean I should shut it off forever?” There are chapters of your life. This chapter is finally where I can start pushing it a little bit wiser. When I mean push it, all I mean is focus more instead of going to be out a lot. I don’t mean exercising. I still can’t do that.

Only from God does vision and faith come. Click To Tweet

That led me to the realization that I am called to be a young man. I give it my all and push hard. Just because there are 50-year-olds around here who don’t, it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t. I’m not 50. God has called me to soar on wings like eagles, like Isaiah. There will come a day where I run and don’t go weary. I’ll walk and not faint. Finally, I do faint because life’s over. However, this is not that day. This is the day where I soar my wings like eagles. It’s okay. What can I accomplish if I give myself to something? That was the thought and as part of that, I took a concert on the piano where someone asked me to play and I said, “Yes.” I hadn’t played a concert in several years.

I played a concert for the widows and widowers at our church, typically an older group. It was 75 people and I played 4 or 5 classical pieces, but I was almost in tears the entire time. Tears were streaming down my face as I was playing because I was so connected to the purpose of it. It came from this thought. Out of that was so much beauty and glory of God. The next thing you know, opportunity opens up for me to play on a regular basis. What happens is I watched the movie, I’m like, “I’m ready to start racing again.” I think about my church experience and I’m like, “I’m here, but what would it be like to race for God, at church even?” That means to perform.

I’m like, “Here we go. What am I supposed to perform in?” Our organist quits five days before our candlelight service and they got nobody to do it. It’s Christmas Eve, candlelight service and there’s no organ. My pastor calls me up on conference call with our music minister and he goes, “Adam, Mark is here with me on the phone. Our organist quit. We’re wondering if you could step in and fill in?” What are you going to say? It’s five days away. Our pastor is calling me. It’s rigged. This is church life. I was like, “This is God.” I said, “Yes, but I don’t know how to play the organ. How do you play the organ?” The organist came and showed me a few things, showed me how to work the organ, which was huge. There are lots of knobs, buttons and pulls and such. Our church was built in 1899 and it’s got an old organ in there from probably the ‘90s. The pipes, who knows how old they are, but this is a for-real legit pipe organ with lots of stops. You know the phrase, “Pull out all the stops,” that’s an organ playing. You pulled out all the stops and all the pipes are blowing. All these are manual organs.

I get up there and I’m like, “What do all these things mean?” There are presets, thank God. I pushed presets and loaded them to where I could go from quiet to the loud with just buttons, which is easy. I don’t know how to work the feet. That service was a disaster. It was fine, but I didn’t play any feet. I was super simple in the hands and when I tried to use a foot and it’d be like lagging on my hands at that point. The last note of Silent Night where all the lights go out and everybody holds up their candle and I’m playing and everybody’s singing.

I was supposed to go acapella so I can drop out. I’m like, “Sweet.” I start in on the last verse. About that time, I realized it’s acapella because I don’t hear the piano playing. I stop. The organ is out because I forgot and everybody continues. I’m sitting back like, “I ruined Christmas.” About halfway through the chorus, the music minister looks back at me and waves his arm up like “Come back in.” He comes back in, so I’m supposed to come back in. I punch the button because I turned it off, push a button, turn it on, find a place and come back in immediately.

I’m freaking out and I get the last note and I’m like, “Watch this.” I’m about to play the bass note with my foot. I overextend myself and my focus, I hit the foot pedal and I missed the hand a little bit, but it was by one note. I found the right note immediately because I knew it went wrong, but it sounds like a jazz note. That has begun my organ playing. The next Sunday I showed up to fill in, “I’m here to play the hands, nothing else. You’ve got to figure this crap out because I’m not an organist.” On the back of the bulletin is all the stuff that’s listed and I’m always there as a collegiate minister. I was on there as Adam Setser, collegiate minister/organist. It was my second day on the job and now I’m an organist. I don’t know how to play this thing and I’m a complete fraud and no one knows it.

Ever since then, I’ve played with the stipulation I have one week off because I need to go travel with the camper. I didn’t want to play the choir parts, the choir songs because they’re harder, but now I’m doing it anyway and I’m doing the prelude. I’m starting the service with the organ on the prelude. I’m not playing Bach and stuff. We’d go to the hymns and the hymns, I’m starting to play big regal stuff, not like stuff. It’s like the intro is regal. I modulate up to different keys. It’s regal. I got alternate harmonics and it’s like marching down as you go. I also play the organ wide open as much as I can. This is something I’m passionate about now. I go on YouTube and watch pipe organists. I never would have thought. Who would have thought?

It all comes down to you saying yes at the end of the day. There was God opening a door and you said yes. What’s cool about that whole story is the fact that God used a movie to ignite the flame in your heart and for you to ask the question, what does it mean? What can I accomplish or what does it mean to race for the Lord at church? In that same time period, this organist quit and they ask you, it’s like this is so divine. When we pause and look for it or be aware of it, these moments are present all of our lives. The problem is we’re not looking for them. We don’t have eyes open, ears open. We don’t see or hear it happened because we’re not aware. It’s almost like how we can become more aware of that still small voice and to the inner workings of our lives so we can say yes to an opportunity like that when it comes because of the fruit that will come inwardly for us in that experience.

What it means to have eyes and ears is it means you have senses. Just because you hear and see, doesn’t mean you have a sensibility for what you’re seeing or hearing. It’s a mental thing. It’s going back to the old school 19th-century and before understanding of vision. You have to have vision to be able to see and hear. What vision means is an interior ability to see what you don’t see otherwise. It’s interior. It’s not exterior. It’s like you have to work on this thing. I don’t have an easy explanation, but people typically miss stuff because they don’t know what they’re looking for. God is right in front of you, whatever God’s pointing you to and yet, you lack vision. You lack vision because you don’t have any faith because you’re not pursuing God. Only from God does vision and faith come. I know a lot of people who are stuck in the doldrums of their life. There are cues all around them of answers. There are 1,000 different ways they could go, but they don’t seem to see any of it because they don’t have any vision.

It’s similar to hearing and listening. When you listen to something, it’s different than when you hear what’s going on. You can be listening to music but not hear anything. You can be listening to it, but maybe my mind is focusing on writing something, so I’m not hearing the words that are being said. It’s similar to if I’m working in a cafe or something like that. We’ve all had this experience. You’re there. You’re focused on something, but then this couple next to you or this person next to you has a conversation and you hear something they say and it piques your interest. All of a sudden you can hear what they’re saying. You’re paying attention to it. You could have been listening to it, but now you’re hearing it.

The same is true in a conversation. This conversation with you, if we weren’t as focused and weren’t paying as much attention, you may have said something that had an underlying meaning that I completely missed because I wouldn’t be hearing. Every single day we have opportunities with every interaction to truly hear someone, to truly see someone and not just listen to what’s being said, so you can get onto what you want to say. These simple things like, how can we hear each other better? How can we see someone and meet their needs? Maybe it’s opening a door for someone. That’s what it means to love each other well. It’s a simple human need that we all have. It’s been like a resounding theme for me that I don’t know how much progress I’ve made, but I want to keep focusing on it because it is crucial. Vision plays a big part in that. Vision is the same thing with the eyesight as hearing and listening is in a lot of ways. We pulled out all the stops on this one. Give us your closing thoughts.

There’s one lesson that I learned I did not expect and that is the incredible power of experience. The experience of life and of something to drive the reality of it. The moment by moment experience. When the play starts, when the play stops, that’s the experience. We typically talk about the play after the fact. Here’s all the analysis, the critics and stuff like that, but the play is the experience. It’s not the afterthought. It’s not the commentary. It’s not the rational value of it or the intellectual value. It’s the experience of it, whatever you want to call it. Some people like to call it emotion, but it’s way more than that. It’s life. What I found in the practical sense is if I was stranded on a desert island, I would become the worst version of myself by a thousand-fold.

If you extrapolate that into reality, if I didn’t have anybody to play the piano for, I would fall out of love with it. If I didn’t have anybody to share what I’m reading with, I would not read. If I didn’t have anybody to share the beauty of a sunset with, I would overlook it because left myself, I’m a bastard. I’m selfish and bored. I want everything to jump out at me and entertain me all the time because I’m broken inside. I’m saying that’s humanity. That’s the fall. What I’m saying is that when people come over, I jumped at the opportunity to show them the house or the yard or a piece I’m learning on the piano or share with them what I’m learning or share with them a podcast I enjoyed or share with them anything. If they bite and experience it with me, it’s ten times the experience it would have been if it was by itself.

I’m learning the power of that and embracing it to seek out to say I’m not entertaining people when they come over to my house. I’m not being hospitable. I’m being enriched because when people come into my home and we get to share all of our life with them, our stories, our stuff, our passions, our experiences, they’ve brought so much life. If you look at people and judge them by the face value of, “Are we alike or not?” You’re looking at a play and you’re saying is it true or not? It doesn’t matter. It’s not the point. The play is meant to be an experience to lead you to a certain result, to enrich your life so that now you’re a different person. It changes you. It’s the same thing with people. That’s the value of relationships. Even if the guy’s a complete idiot, I’m going to value him and accept him in my life because the sharing together will bring about something I have no idea. It’s so powerful. It’s like magic and God is there. You know that. We’ve talked about that before, but it was powerful for me to learn that.

We’re going to keep learning that as we always do. I love to reiterate what you said, it’s the experiences of life and sharing amplifies that experience both ways, both to the sharer and to the receiver. It ultimately enriches it, which is a good word. I also love what you mentioned that left to ourselves, we become the worst version of our self. That is so true on many fronts. I know I experienced that a lot as well. For me, it’s newer in a relationship, but if I am left to my own thoughts and my own thinking on anything without roping her in, it starts becoming the worst version of myself for us. That’s not helpful, for her or for me or for us together. I had to learn that I can’t isolate myself. This is a team. This is a partnership. It’s life and it’s being human. It’s ultimately being connected to one another because we all are connected in this thing called life. It’s way more beautiful with others and by yourself. That is the truth. This has been legit. It’s always a pleasure being on the mic with you. Until next time, we hope you have an up and coming week.

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UAC 132 | Blending Technology With Creativity

 

People are beginning to get into tech entrepreneurship earlier and earlier in their lives probably because it is the young people that have their fingers to the pulse of what the target demographic wants. But it’s never too late to get started because there are so many niches out there that aren’t quite filled. Blending technology with creativity, Erick Lopez is an established actor from Los Angeles, California who’s making the jump into tech entrepreneurship with a new social calendar app, Bizzy. Thane Marcus Ringler interviews Erick about the origins of his love for technology, and what finally got him to make the jump into creating an app. Erick has sage advice for both aspiring actors and tech entrepreneurs, so this is not to be missed!

Listen to the podcast here:

Erick Lopez: Blending Technology With Creativity: An Actor’s Journey Into Entrepreneurship

I’m excited about this interview with a friend of mine. Before I get there, I wanted to let you know of the three best ways to lend a helping hand and help further our movement and our show. The first and easiest way is leaving a rating and review on iTunes. It takes 1, 2 minutes and would be such a blessing. We’re trying to get as many as possible so that people can find us and find out what being an up and comer is all about. The second way to help out is by sharing this episode. You can take a screenshot of it on your phone, share it on the socials and tag us at Up and Comers Show. We’d love to have a shout out from you there and we’ll repost and share it on ours.

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Now onto our interview with Erick Lopez. He is an actor-entrepreneur from Dallas, Texas. He resides in Los Angeles, California, where he continues to work in the entertainment business. He’s most known for his role of Hector on CWS Emmy winning musical comedy show, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Erick has also appeared on other shows such as MTV’s Faking It, Shameless on Showtime and many others. He frequently makes trips back to Dallas to teach workshops for local actors. His podcast, Erick Lopez Explains, guides young entertainers through his journey of becoming a working actor in Hollywood. He launched a new startup called Bizzy, a social calendar app for friends and couples. Find out more about Erick by following him on Instagram @Mr.ErickLopez or visiting ErickLopezExplains.com.

This interview was a lot of fun for me. I’ve known Erick and he’s a great guy. He spreads a lot of joy and light to others in the world. We talk about a lot of things including his early love of technology. We talk about trade-offs of technology in world and about his journey in tech entrepreneurship. We talk about developing as an actor. We talk about the importance of awareness, dealing with anxiety as a human, creativity and self-expression and so much more. This is chock-full of great stuff that I know you’ll benefit from and you’ll enjoy. He’s a great guy. I did some background research and how people described him in a few words. They said authentic, goofy, easygoing, loyal, joyful, compassionate, quirky, Energizer bunny, driven, fearless. He’s a selfless guy. He shows up well for others. You’ll be able to get that in this episode. Sit back, relax and enjoy this conversation with Erick Lopez.

Erick Lopez, welcome to the show. E.Lo, as you’re known on the streets from what I hear. This is something I am curious to hear from you. Do Cheerios lower cholesterol?

Yes, they do because my cholesterol hasn’t been high since then. I also think it’s because I started eating more vegetables.

You had a two-week experiment with Cheerios, is that correct?

When I first moved to LA, I didn’t know much about cooking. I had my meats and my spaghetti and all your basic cooking stuff and I wasn’t eating enough vegetables. When I got my first job, they’re like, “You’ve got to do the drug test.” I’m like, “That’s fine.” I peed in the cup and did all that stuff, then the guy comes out and he’s looking at my pee. He’s like, “Cloudy.” I was like, “Is that bad?” He’s like, “Eat more vegetables.” It came back that I have high cholesterol, so I was all like, “This is not good.” I saw a commercial for Cheerios. The dad was eating Cheerios and the kid was like, “Why are you eating Cheerios? I thought that was for kids.” He’s like, “It helps lower my cholesterol.” I was like, “I’ve got to eat Cheerios. I’ve got to go get it.” I made the switch.

You made the switch to only a Cheerio diet.

It wasn’t a complete Cheerio diet, but I made sure that I was eating my fair share.

The things you learn in life. As an adult, you’ve got to worry about your cholesterol. It’s important. I also have heard from some sources that you have been pretty adamant about reinventing the internet. Tell me a little bit about your plan for reinventing the internet. This is fascinating.

That was a while back. I was in my learning about different things phase. I started learning about IP addresses and email addresses. I was like, “Why is every single email and every website, www?” I started learning about how the first computer was done and all that stuff. I found out how unsecure everything is. I’m like, “What if instead of doing this, you did everything based off every phone, every server bounced off each other and it wasn’t necessarily one-stop shop IP address-type thing?” I told a couple of friends that and they were like, “Erick, I think you’re crazy.” Here’s the thing though. They saw it on Silicon Valley. They talked about it and that’s exactly the forum where they were going for. They were like, “I can’t believe that you had the exact same idea.” All these crazy people have the same ideas.

Has that transpired? Is that on a different browser or is that similar to the blockchain system?

It would be blockchain where it’s decentralized. That’s what makes it more secure.

That brings up another great point. From what I’ve heard too, were you diagnosed as a genius as a kid?

No. It was something more like I was in advanced classes. You sign up with these advanced classes. You take some tests and then they were like, “You’re allowed to come to class.” You take a couple of IQ exams, which don’t mean anything. It’s like, “How quickly can you do this?” Those don’t matter. The IQ test came out mostly to see if people were ready for college, but then now everything’s changed. I know who said that, but I don’t agree.

You were a smart kid. We’ll leave it at that. Did you have gifted programs?

Yes.

We did those as well. Those were cool.

Have you been in the gifted program too?

Creativity comes out through doing stories. Click To Tweet

Maybe. It was fun memories with my buddy. It was a funny thing as a kid. I remember going and doing a lot of problem solving, but it was fun. The different activities or exercises you get to do or craft fairs. You’d build marble mazes, stuff like that. I remember they were fun memories, fun times back in the Yoder Charter School. That’s a flashback. That’s a long time ago. We’ll leave that for another time. What were your interests as a kid? Were you always into technology? You’re very tech-savvy now and even talking about the internet. When did that interest in the technology side start as a kid or were you mainly a sports guy because you were also an athlete?

I played sports all the time. That was the first love like playing basketball, soccer, baseball or whatever, but mostly basketball. The tech thing came about when my dad brought home a work laptop and it was a big deal to have a laptop back then. I remember whenever he wasn’t around, I would sneak on there and play around with it, changing wallpaper. I’d figure out how to play tricks and change the mouse to look different things and make things disappear. They would always get upset like, “You broke the computer.” I’m like, “No, I didn’t break it. Look, I’ll fix it.” There are times where I went a little bit too far and something happened and then I had to figure out how to fix it.

What did your dad do?

He started in the printing business. As he started going up, he was a general manager for this printing warehouse. Essentially what they did was they created these plastic bags and they would print things on them like Ralphs or Kroger. They would have their logo on there. They were in charge of printing that and then Frito-Lay would have their bags. They were in charge of printing those things. It was a lot of mechanical work. He had to use a laptop to look at all the renderings and stuff.

Back in the day when that was novel, that’s fascinating. As a kid, was that an obsession with experimenting and seeing what you could come up with or what you could mischievously change? Did that apply in other areas of your life or was it mainly with the laptop?

I like tricking people.

Were you the jokester as a kid?

I was the jokester. I had some teachers pull me aside a couple of times and be like, “You learn when to joke and learn when not to joke.”

Do you have a legendary prank or joke that stands out most from your childhood?

I learned how to make a pop-up. You can custom make a pop-up and then have it pop up as soon as someone goes to a certain website. It was cool. I took a picture that my sister had and then I put it on the computer. This is so bad. I did a pop-up that said, “Want to see girls in your area,” or something like that. It was some dating webcams-type situation. I put her photo on there and it was only for that computer. It’s almost like a reminder. It’s only going to live on your phone. It was only on the computer and didn’t live on the web. I timed it perfectly where she came in and used it. It popped up and she screamed, “Erick, what did you do?” She started crying. She’s like, “What photos are out there?”

That is genius. That’s well-played, I must say. You have how many siblings?

A younger brother and an older sister.

How many years older was she?

Two years.

That’s the same with mine. I feel like that lends itself to a lot of mischief, games and pranks being played. With this early experimentation, how has your love for technology changed over the years? With your interest or passion or discovery within technology, have you had periods where you’re deep in the game there and then you separate and do other things? You have many interests, you have many pursuits, but what has that process been with technology itself?

Technology has always been the through-line. With acting, it’s all physical, emotional and you can’t do anything on a computer that involves acting other than maybe looking up videos and documentaries and stuff. All my other interests, the through-line is technology. Editing and graphic design and being creative with a computer. It’s cool. That’s the through-line.

What would you say if it was a pre-tech world like 50, 60 years ago and you were transported back to that time? What do you think would come out from your creativity in that type of world?

If there wasn’t tech around? Before tech, I was playing with little wrestlers. I’m making up my own little stories and playing with action figures and whatnot. That’s where my creativity came out. It was through doing stories.

I think it’s easy for us in this time, in our generation, to think about technology. Life without technology is boring, lifeless or not even tangible. The reality is people have been creative since the start of time and we can make incredible things without technology as much as we can with. Sometimes it often is almost a limiter to our own usefulness or resourcefulness. Do you see that pendulum shifted for yourself? Are there limitations to technology or how do you experience those limitations?

Whenever you rely so much on technology for your day-to-day, it’s the same thing with taking photos. There was a research study that came out and talking about if you’re seeing something or there’s a moment and you take a photo, your brain relaxes. It’s like, “I don’t have to remember it because I know I have a photo.” It’s the same thing now with technology and information. There’s something about our brains that relaxed whenever we feel we have the technology to aid us or to help us. Whenever we don’t have it, that’s when the brain is like, “I got to compensate for not having technology, so I got to do something on my own.”

UAC 132 | Blending Technology With Creativity

It shifts off and on like that. I feel it’s a more dangerous handicap than we realize because we aren’t even aware of it. If we were aware of it, then we’d at least be able to recognize it. A lot of times we don’t even think that it does produce limitations or handicaps within us, but the goal of it is to be resourceful. That is what leads us to create something, is to benefit others. Give me a little bit of the personal story behind Bizzy itself.

I had started shooting a TV show and I was a “working actor.” My old friends from the old job that I had, they had their hectic schedules. I was dating Sarah, which is my wife now, at the time. I was going through a tough period because I was so antisocial and introvert. I had this core group of people that I loved and I wanted to see more. I was like, “There has to be a better way to connect with people and to reach out and to let them know when I’m free and when I’m busy.” Most of the conversation was, “I want to see you.” “Sure. Let’s figure out a time.” The majority of the conversations was, “I’m not free this day. I’m free this day. Let me check with this, let me get back to you.” It was all this back and forth and people get forgotten about. That was how Bizzy came about. I was like, “There has to be a better way to schedule with friends.”

That was the moment where you see a problem and there needs to be a solution. What led you to decide on taking action? Because that’s a big step for moving from, “There’s this problem, it needs a solution. Here’s a solution. Why isn’t someone doing it?” to, “I’m going to be the one to do it.” What helped you bridge that divide to say, “I’m going to take this step?”

I didn’t want to solve it. I wanted to be an actor. I don’t want to solve some problems. I don’t know anything about startups and I don’t know anything about apps. It was such a tough thing where I spent probably a solid week researching, trying to find something. I’m like, “There has to be something out there already. That way, all I have to do is invite friends and then I don’t have to do the work of creating it.” I realized that it was going to take a lot of work. When I realized that it was not out there, I said, “Small baby steps. Let me see what it would look like.” Once I started seeing what it would look like, I started talking to other people and being like, “Do you have this problem?” I’m trying to figure it out in my head if this worth to go through. What I slowly started realizing was everyone dealt with that problem, but everyone was like, “I do this. I set reminders on my phone. I send them Google Calendar invites. I use this website.” Everyone was using all these different ways to get it done, which I didn’t find out until way later on that’s exactly the first thing that someone creating a startup wants. They’re like, “It’s a problem. People are doing all these different things like a hodgepodge to find the solution. What if I did it all in one stop?”

It’s like a conglomeration or consolidation into one. I love what you laid out there because I think that’s true in any process where we move from idea to reality. First the idea, then there’s researching, “Am I crazy? Are there other people doing this? Has this been solved already, so I don’t need to do this?” If it’s realizing it’s not out there, then it moves to, “What would this look like? Since it’s not out there, I think it needs to be out there. What would be the effort involved? What are the steps to get there? Is that something that I even have the capacity or willingness to do?” You went out and got market research. You started testing loosely and starting small. One of my favorite things to do is if I have an idea that I’m passionate about and it sticks around for long enough, I’m going to talk about it with as many people as possible. Because one, I want to refine my idea and two, I want someone to steal it and do it for me so I don’t have to. If someone doesn’t, then maybe eventually, I need to do it. You spaced all those things well. That process is healthy for all of us to do. Once you realized, “I need to create a consolidated area for this,” what did the process look after that?

After that, I kept on going with doing different designs and I realized at some point, I have to learn how to code. I taught myself how to code and then I have learned from my mistakes of trying to do everything myself. When I first started getting into acting and filmmaking, I tried to do everything myself like editing. I taught myself how to do audio mixing, how to shoot, how to lighting, how to write. I taught myself everything because I was like, “I don’t want any excuses. I want to get this done.” I realized that I did not want to do that same thing because it was such a lonely process. I was like, “If this is going to happen, I have to get a team together.” I started talking to some people. I think it wasn’t the right time because I started getting worn down trying to find a developer, trying to find someone that would be into it. I didn’t have the funds at that time to even try to pay a developer at all. I’m like, “This is where the dream stops.” I gave up on it for at least maybe a year or two. It wasn’t until later on when I started getting more funds and then I started thinking about the problem again. I was like, “Maybe this is something that I should pursue again.” I started hearing from friends who were telling me the same thing. I’m like, “Am I crazy?” Bizzy came alive again.

Isn’t it interesting how push and pause allows ideas to marinate beautifully? From that pause period, where there any breakthroughs or insights that came from taking a break from it?

Honestly, no. It was just a pause that I needed. You never see the grand scheme of everything until you look back on it. I was not ready to handle that. Looking back on it, whatever I’m handling now, it’s like I was not ready for that. Financially, I was not ready to deal with that too. It all came together. The second time around after the pause, it was a whirlwind. People came in to the group, the community I was searching for. It came into place and the developer came out of nowhere. We paid him at first and then it was like, “This is what we’re trying to do.” He was on board and then it kept on going from there. The team was a wave of this is where you’re supposed to go. I was like, “I guess we’re going.”

The stars were aligning. They were coming together. What I want to know some more is you said you taught yourself how to code. What was that process like? From what you’ve said and what I’ve found in research, you are very self-driven and self-taught individual in many different regards. What was the process of learning coding like? If I came to that place as I see it now, I probably go the route of, how do I find a way to partner with someone or hire someone and find a way to make that work? If you don’t have funds and you don’t have the time, teaching yourself is the best option, but that’s a tougher road. It’s a harder road because it takes more effort and time from yourself. What was that process like in learning how to code?

It was tough, but in college, I was very fortunate enough to meet a buddy of mine who taught me how to do video editing. He not only told me how to do video editing, he taught me how to do other things too. The thing that was key about that was he taught me how to teach myself and that was something that I had not been taught. You think about teachers and going to school and college like, “You teach me how to do this, teach me how to do that.” The old saying, “Give a man a fish, he’ll be hungry again tomorrow. Teach him how to fish.” One step further from that is teach a man how to learn. That’s a whole different level because then now you’re not learning fishing. You can learn anything else. Once you start from there, then you can move forward.

With coding, one of the things that I’ve taken from learning video editing and whatnot was take something that you want to do that you’re passionate about, but it’s fun and do a very small portion of it. When we were doing video editing stuff, we wanted to do special effects. We have no idea how to do that. We wanted to make it happen. We started out super small. Can we make this Windex bottle shoot out a burst of flames or something that? Can it look realistic? If it wasn’t a Windex bottle, could it look real? We started playing with that, teaching ourselves one little five-second clip or whatever. It’s the same thing with coding. I said, “Can I teach myself how to code? A simple music playing thing where I put in some sounds and then it responds and it can be fun.” That’s where I started and that’s what I did.

Thank you for sharing that buddy in college. I would love to know more how he taught you how to teach yourself. I think that is one of the most important concepts. I wrote about that in my book too, that if you can learn how to learn, there’s nothing you can’t learn. That whole thing is learning how to learn. It’s the key ingredient to life ultimately. What other pieces of learning how to learn? What else came to you from your friend in college as he taught you?

Learning how to google. I didn’t realize this, but that’s super key. You can ask Google a question like, “How do I code?” You’re going to get many different answers, but it’s understanding that you use that first vague search to get you to the right person that will teach you how to look for other things. Once you start going on your journey, you’re going to learn what verbiage coders will use. It’s the same with video editing. What verbiage are people using? What certain phrases are people using to find the answer? As soon as you figure out there are certain phrases that you can type in and people already figured this out and they put it out there, then that’s when you start finding these awesome answers.

It’s like the first wave is going the broad and wide so you can get a general grasp, and then you go a layer beneath that for more specific applications within that.

It’s finding the right person that will lead you there.

Isn’t it funny that there is an art to googling?

There is. Coders joke about it all the time. They’re like, “How did you know how to code?” I’m like, “I googled it,” knowing exactly what to google for stack overflow or something.

What would you say about your proficiency now as a coder?

When I first started out, I could do apps that stay on your phone and they weren’t necessarily social. They didn’t require log-ins and they didn’t have to do this back and forth with a server. I couldn’t do the back end. I could do front end stuff. That was my limit. Once I realized I want to make something social, that’s when I was like, “That’s way over my head. That’s not fun anymore.” I can’t even think of one thing that would be fun enough for me. That’s when you realize you can’t think of anything that would be fun enough to get you through it like, “I want to learn that.” Maybe that’s not a route you should take.

That’s a great point too. Personal enjoyment from learning is such a great motivator for it. When you go back to college and your friend teaching you not only those skills, but also how to learn yourself, what would you say to the empowerment from that? Did that change the way you approached, whether it be college or acting within itself? How did that shift things within different aspects of your life instead of what you were learning with that?

For an actor, if you're anxious about something, it can come out as emotions. Click To Tweet

It wasn’t necessarily the moment of him teaching me. It was the moment where I went to my class and I was talking to other juniors and seniors and stuff and I was like, “You didn’t learn this in class but you need to teach yourself how to do this.” That realization that college was not necessarily meant to teach you everything. It was meant to connect you with other people that will help you learn. The professors are working on their own stuff too. The higher-end professors, they’re teaching the class or doing the same thing over and over again.

Rarely are you going to get something where it’s customized to exactly what you’re trying to do within the class. You can do a project and stuff, but you’re not going to understand until you start connecting with other friends and you start doing experiments on your own. You’ll have a full grasp of that and then you can start playing around. When I realized that what my friend taught me how to learn and having all this knowledge, I can fully grasp everything. I want more than what’s being taught in college. That was my, “I am ready to go.”

Honestly for me, it didn’t happen until the last year of college. It was when I was like, “I’m not just here to get good grades.” That was the first realization that school wasn’t about grades. Being married, I don’t have a family yet, but that may be in the picture down the road with even raising kids. How would you think about raising a child so that they don’t have to wait until their senior year of college to learn how to learn? It is partly to blame the system and it’s not the system’s fault. It’s the nature of the system. Are there any ideas that you have for even training a young child how to learn?

I always thought about that. I wonder how do I teach my kid all this stuff. At the end of the day, the harder thing to learn is how do I balance teaching everything that I know and also letting them learn on their own. There are many things that I look back on now that my dad was giving me advice and he had already gone through. He’s like, “I’m telling you this.” I’m like, “Sure, whatever.” I then learned it on my own. I figured out that he was right. No matter what, there are going to be things that our kids are going to end up looking at and being either, “I don’t believe you or I need to experience this on my own.” We have to be like, “Okay. Go for it.”

Letting that fall and picking back up happen. What was the best advice your dad ever gave you?

Always look around. He said, “Whenever you’re in new surroundings, look around, see what’s around, see what’s behind you, be aware.” Even my mom put it in us. They were immigrants. They came over, so they had to be hyper-aware from fear. I took that. Even as a little kid, I was like, “Being aware can take you to many different places.” They came from fear like, “Don’t let anyone rob you. If someone’s coming up behind you on the street, if you have someone to walk in too close to you, cross the street and go to the other side or something.” I started realizing that this can take you to another level once you go into a new workplace. Look around and see what everyone else is doing. See if people were by themselves. See how you can contribute. Being aware of what’s going on with the community that you joined. There are many things about being aware that goes hand in hand with learning that is so cool.

I love that being aware and seeing how you can contribute. One of my favorite concepts was from a sermon by Judah Smith. He talked about the three core needs of every human being. It’s being seen, heard and connected to something bigger. If we aren’t aware, we can’t do any of those. Awareness is the precursor to every single one of those. What are the things that inhibit or rob you of your own awareness in daily life?

Once you are aware, there does come a moment where you’re not present. Because there’s so much in front of you, you have to analyze many different settings. When you get into a new setting, because you’re bored and you’ve done it many times, you start over-analyzing it and then you start thinking ahead and you’re not present. There’s that fine line of be aware, but don’t go overboard. Be present but be aware.

That’s self-awareness versus hyper-awareness, and the hyper is not helpful. There’s a great book, Strangers To Ourselves, and it talks a lot about the adaptive unconscious mind controls 90% of our lives. If you deep dive into that too much, it becomes unhelpful. You have to come to a place where there’s a simple understanding of that, but a recognition that if I can act out who I say I want to be, then that’s where I can be most healthy. That’s integrity, ultimately, being who you say you are or want to be. It is interesting that pendulum even in awareness. Do you have any helpful practices or tools or reminders for yourself in that?

At nighttime, it’s easier because I always looking up at the stars and then it puts perspective. Perspective, sometimes it always helps even living in Los Angeles. I was having this conversation with someone. We were talking about how coming from the South and I came from Dallas. There weren’t that many homeless people, only certain pockets. Being in LA, you see it all around you. It helps because we were both talking about how we didn’t want not to be aware of those situations. That helps us to be better people. It helps us with perspective every single day. You’re not going to go to the middle of nowhere to be away and hide from the reality because that is the reality. People are living on the streets and living in tents. The minimum wage is way too low. All these different things, you’re not aware of it until you see it personified in a homeless person.

It challenges us. That’s one of the things about LA that I’ve come to experience myself. Your daily facing tensions that are greater than most places you’ll live in the world, at least in America, where there’s a car worth more than you on one side. On the other side, someone’s asking you for whatever you can give to help. It’s an interesting place to daily be out here. The question is how can I be helpful in this? I think the awareness to see and recognize and to even acknowledge the humanity and not dismiss humanity. I don’t think there is the answer. That’s such a complex issue.

There are too much that as human beings we do want to help and sometimes people don’t even look at homeless people. Sometimes it stems from seeing them as lesser. A lot of times it stems from you want to help so much that if you look them in the eye, then you’re going to be like, “I don’t know how to help you.” You’re trying to get your own stuff together because you’re probably struggling in your own different way. A lot of times, people were struggling with mental health issues. Sometimes if you’re struggling with your own stuff or even a family member that’s struggling with their own stuff and you see someone on the streets struggling with their stuff, it’s almost looking in a mirror, especially being in LA. You’re like, “This either could be me, this could be a family member or it’s someone’s child.” You feel it so much whenever you look at someone in the eye.

That’s the ultimate humanity. It’s looking someone in the eye. If we are someone who doesn’t have high self-esteem or self-worth, we don’t look at other people in the eye because we feel lesser than. It’s an indicator of our own self-esteem and self-worth. When you’re able to look at someone, you’re seeing, “They’re human. I’m a human,” and you connect on such a deeper level. It’s a weird thing.

I’ve tried it many times. When I was younger, I had trouble making eye contact whenever I was on stage with people. If I was on stage or talking to a lot of people, it was hard because I looked at everyone’s eyes. I could feel many different emotions all at once. I was like, “So many emotions. I don’t know.” I’ll get nervous. I started realizing, “What’s something that they’re feeling.” There was something that Sarah had said. She’s like, “Whenever you go to a place where you get social anxiety or something, you see a lot of eyes looking at you, think about this. Everyone else here is probably as nervous or they’re thinking about themselves or thinking that they won’t talk to anybody. They’re worried that their outfit doesn’t look right or something. When you try to help the other person come out of their shell, it takes the stress off of you and it takes the stress off them too. Because people are okay talking about themselves and chatting it up.”

It’s interesting too what you mentioned a little bit ago. The unknowns, the not knowing is a thing that prevents us from taking action. When we don’t know what to do, we don’t do anything. Sometimes the answer is do something. I think about it even for me on a daily level. If someone sends me a text and I don’t know the answer, I’m going to ignore it and I’m probably going to ignore it until I know the answer. Maybe I need to tell them. I don’t know. That’s more human being. It’s more loving to say, “I don’t know. I’m going to work on figuring that out,” than ignoring it. I default to the ignoring because I don’t know. I don’t want to know.

You don’t want to say the wrong thing. You don’t want to lead them on. You don’t want to forget. It’s all that.

Now, we’re going to circle back to acting and I also want to come back to Bizzy some more, but with anxiety and stress, I want to know a little bit more from your experience or perspective. This is such a human thing. That’s the best way to say it. We all face it in different realms in different regards. As an athlete I faced it on the golf course as much as someone else in an elevator in that sense. We all are familiar with the effects of it because it’s human. For you, what are some other ways to think about it that has been helpful in facing times where we’re anxious or where situations cause us unease or stress?

Knowing that other people are going through it and experience it, that’s key. If actors right now are reading this, you are not alone. I still get anxiety going into an audition room and you still get nervous and butterflies. I guarantee that many other people still get that anxiety. There are many different reasons for it and at different stages of life, it changes. You might be able to conquer your anxiety of like, “I’m nervous about what they’re going to think of me.” Once that’s conquered then you’re like, “I’m nervous about me getting my lines down.” Once you have that, it’s like, “I’m nervous about getting my lines, but also making sure that I come off as real.” Once you have all that, it’s like, “I’m nervous about getting another job. Because I haven’t gotten a job in a while.” There’s always going to be something. Even sometimes it pulls from your daily life and your personal life. Knowing that everyone has anxiety and all that stuff and deals with all that stuff is what helps me be like, “This is normal.” Once you realize that it’s normal, you’re like, “I’m not alone. I don’t feel as anxious anymore.”

There’s something about the loneliness of it that isolates us and amplifies it, to realize that we’re part of a greater community, AKA humanity. The other is it’s interesting that it is such a human thing because anxiety can probably be defined as a fear of the unknown about the future. We all are that way because no one knows the future, 0% of humans know the next day. We all experience that, some to more or less extent, but that doesn’t make you more or less human. We’re all human. Sports allows a parallel realm where we can examine it too. For me, sports give an advantage to dealing with it because there’s an end result that’s desired and an outcome that you can produce. In golf, everyone in a tournament gets first tee jitters. You get anxious about that first tee shot because all this preparation and getting ready and this forecasting in your mind of how you’re going to play and then you get to that first tee, you’re like, “Here it is.”

I remember in South Korea, it was my first time traveling and playing internationally. I’m by myself in a foreign country I’ve never been. I’m on the first tee time on number ten the first day. I’m opening the tournament at 7:30 AM and it was one of the worst tee shots I’ve ever had. It went 30 yards out of bounds. I’m embarrassed and mad at myself because I know that was not the shot. That was way worse of a shot than I’d ever hit. I step up and hit the next perfect drive, perfect next shot and birdie my second ball, which is a bogey, but it shows. “Thane, you’re an idiot. That was dumb. You’re so much better than that.” Because I was so angry and it infused that emotion with reality, I then execute a perfect goal. It’s amazing what that little shift will do.

UAC 132 | Blending Technology With Creativity

You’re saying that it goes to the point of everyone having anxiety and it comes out in different ways. For an actor, if you’re anxious about something, it can come out of an emotion. Being an athlete, sometimes your anxiety there comes out in your preparation because you’re so anxious about it that you’re like, “I need to over-prep and I’m going to prep like crazy.” Whenever you’re performing at the event, then having that anxiety kick into high gear and then you’re like, “Now you steel yourself.” It’s cool because we all do it in different ways.

In sports too and in life, there’s a benefit to it. There’s a benefit to that ramped-upness in golf. It can make your focus hyper-focused and amplify your abilities. I’m hitting the drives to 10 to 15 yards further. My focus is laser tight and I’m locked in because the anxiousness from that situation increases my flow state. Once you become familiar with it, once we learned from it, once we experienced failure with it, then we can start understanding it, recognizing it and growing awareness when we start using it to our advantage. It can be an amplifier in a positive way instead of a negative way. That’s where sports give it an advantage. The same is true in life and we can use it that way if we learn to. It’s a long process though. We can’t talk about anxiety enough or depression or these emotions that we experience because that’s part of their power. Isolation is saying, “I’m alone in this. I don’t know if there’s any way out of this.” There are a lot of ways that we can approach this. As many perspectives as we can hear, the better in that. Circling back to Bizzy, what has surprised you about the business and the process of developing an app?

Everything. I came into it with fresh eyes, so I didn’t know what was normal, what was supposed to surprise me. The most surprising thing was how similar the prep is to other stages of life. I understand when coming from basketball and then going to acting and then now going into business, the preparation and everything that you need to succeed is the same. Every single time, whenever I go into something new, I try to mimic the same process. The first step, you come up with whatever you want to do. The second step is doing something on your own to see if it’s something you passionate about, something that you like doing, getting a little taste of it. The next step is to find your community for it. Once you find your community for it, then you keep going into the next level. It’s almost a process of testing out the next thing. Once again, it’s seeing if you that and then going back with your community. It’s like a circle and making sure that you always stay connected and focused.

Do you find one aspect or one part of that process harder than the others for you?

The community part, for sure. Finding things I like doing is very easy. That’s why I got into acting. You can do whatever you want. The next part is testing it out. You can always figure that out like, “I’m going to do a play” or “I’m going to do this audition” or “I’m going to do a little YouTube sketch with friends.” Going out and finding that community is tough because I’m aware it stops me sometimes from trusting. You’re like, “Do I trust this person? Should I put myself out there? Are they going to judge me because of X thing,” or whatever? You get in your head a lot, at least for me. I get in my head a lot for a community stuff.

We take opinions so hard because we take them personally automatically by default. It’s like personal attack. It was like, “I’m giving you an opinion about your business,” then trigger. We all have experienced that. That’s what a lot of the books on any business and marketing that you read. You have to get that feedback and iterate or else you’re going to die within a business.

You have to learn how other people are doing it too. It’s the same thing as googling. It’s the right question. If you’re going to go into a startup business and you want to say, “I want a community. I want to meet someone.” Instead of saying, “Has anyone started a business before?” You have to be like, “Has anyone raised?” It depends on what business you want. “Has anyone raised VC funding? Has anyone raised Angel funding?” You want people that have already been through it and maybe sometimes you want to learn from their mistakes. You ask even further down the road like, “Has anyone raised a Series A?” and they’ve raised multiple times. You take them out to coffee and you learn from that. That’s also key. It’s learning what to ask your friends, learning exactly what you’re looking for a network or community.

It’s such an important part that is easily forgotten by myself too. I met with a guy. He agreed to meet and he’s a mental coach on the golf side and I’ve got a few coaching programs I wanted to get his feedback on. I wanted to hear his story. I wanted to go in, but on the way over I was like, “Okay, Thane. What is your ask? What are your clear specific asks?” I was going in blind and I hadn’t done as much due diligence in that as I wanted because I know how important that is. We get lazy and I didn’t go in as clear as I would have liked because that does an injustice or disservice to that person who’s granting me their time. We want to be respectful of that too. It’s like the show. I appreciate you spending the time with me. I want to make sure I do it justice.

Going back to the ask, did you end up figuring out or no?

It came out organically, but I wanted his feedback and perspective on the specific coaching programs and also hearing about his journey and where he’s at now and some of the lessons he pulled from that. It worked out pretty well. I did forget a copy of my book as a gift, as a thank you. I was bummed because you want to make sure they know you appreciate their time.

It’s super legit. You wrote a book, it’s like, “Everyone can talk about, “I have a coaching program. Here’s my book by the way,” physical copy in your hand, “Check it out.”

I want to celebrate that. You might share this as well, but we are hardest on ourselves. We’re our own worst critic. That’s some of the feedback I got on you too. You’re extremely gifted like a genius IQ, but hard on yourself. Celebrating ourselves is a good point. What do most people not know about developing or building or creating an app and building the business around that? What do you think most people don’t know about that?

Whenever you say that you’re building an app, people forget that it is a business and it’s software. Think about how hard it is to build an editing software or something or how hard it is to build an entire website that has a community built inside and everything that. It’s funny because in the early days, apps were seen as like, “That’s calculators and games and stuff and something fun.” People have lost sight of how much work it is. It’s legit software. There are very powerful and busy people using your apps or your software and they needed to work perfectly. If it doesn’t, then they’re going to go onto the next thing. You have to take it that seriously whenever you’re building something even for fun use.

If someone’s using Instagram or Snapchat or TikTok or YouTube, they’re using it for a specific purpose. It’s serving them in a certain way. If you don’t serve them correctly, they’re going to move on to the next thing. That’s something that whenever I’m like, “I’m building an app,” and they’re like, “I’ve got an idea for an app too.” I’m like, “What is it?” They’ll talk about the idea, which always sounds good. Everyone’s app idea is always awesome. It’s all about the execution. Are you willing to go through it to make it happen? That’s the part that hangs everyone up because they have the idea, they love it, but they’re like, “I don’t even want to begin to know how to go through that.”

Execution is everything. What’s been the hardest to execute for Bizzy?

It’s finding the right investors, the right people. One thing that my brother told me, he’s in the tech world too. He said, “Money is easy but smart money is hard to find.” If you are diligent and you execute, they’ll get take a shot at you, especially if you’re being charismatic and you’re nice. You’ve got a good team. People will take a shot with, “Why not? Let’s do this.” The thing is you want smart money where people can contribute to your business. They can elevate you where you’re trying to go and they have the right network already and community already that can connect you to the next step.

If you put outcomes aside, why would you say this journey of building Bizzy has been worth it so far for you?

Hearing from users how it’s helped them with either in their relationship to keep track of stuff or the hope. It’s very interesting because I hear the hope way more than I hear the current because we are still pretty early on. There are a lot more features that we want to implement. Everyone’s like, “Keep going. It’s not there yet for me but keep going because I can see where this could eventually go,” and I get it. I have a lot of friends that take scheduling very seriously. They are very busy. They’re the perfect users, but they have a more robust system in place. Until we get to the point where it is truly all in one, then for them it’s like, “I’m not ready yet,” which I totally understand. It gives me more motivation to keep going because people were like, “You’re onto something. Keep going.”

That’s the healthiest way to take and view feedback too. It was taking it for what it’s worth, which is worth something. Feedback is always worth something, but we shouldn’t take it for more than that and we should use it for motivation, not demeaning or demoralizing us and demotivating us to keep moving forward. That’s sweet. As you look at your plate now, when you self-describe yourself, do you mainly stick to acting and tech entrepreneur? How do you self-describe what you do?

I’m still trying to figure that myself. It’s very tough because people that know me from acting, they are shocked. Either they’re in shock or they don’t truly understand everything that I’ve done in the tech world and in the startup world and then vice versa. Everyone that hears that I’ve done startup first and they’re like, “You’re doing this. You learned that first,” they’re shocked. “You were on a CW show and you did all this acting stuff.” It was like, “What?” It’s tough, but the thing I always think back on is whenever I was acting, I wasn’t completely happy because tech was such a big part of my life. Whenever I was doing tech, I wasn’t happy because creativity and acting is a big part of my life. I look at people like the Elon Musks and the Childish Gambinos that do multiple things and you’re all like, “How did they do it all?” You look back at their life and they always had a passion for it. It’s not they’re doing it just to it.

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That’s a fascinating discussion that I’ve talked to a lot of people about. I keep thinking about a generalist versus a specialist mode of thinking. Do you specialize in one field and niche down or do you become more of a generalist and work in many or several? We both are more generalists than that, but maybe they’re not too broad but specialize in two different realms. How do you think about even the trade-offs between being a generalist versus specialist or even where you’re at in that spectrum?

The first time I thought about that was when people are saying like, “You can’t do everything,” which I agree, you cannot. It’s learning how to delegate. Chris Rock said this one time. They asked him like, “How do you do standup and acting?” He’s like, “I do a deep focus on each one whenever I’m doing it. If I’m acting, I’m focused on that. If I’m doing standup, I’m completely focused on that.” When people talk about, “You can’t do everything at once,” you’re right, you can’t. What you can do is you can be very strategic with how you schedule things. Also, not everyone’s built like that. Elon Musk doing Tesla and Space X, he structures his schedule where it’s like, “These days, I’m only doing this. These days, I’m only doing that.” He flips back and forth. You have to know how you work.

To anyone that’s a generalist out there, you’re not going to move forward until you realize how you work best and how you move forward best. There are going to be moments where you’re going to be like, “This is way too much,” and you have to cut one thing off temporarily and it’s not forever. That’s the thing that I always tell myself. When I was focusing on Bizzy and then I said goodbye to it, I started focusing on acting way more after that and writing. I knew that it wasn’t forever goodbye. It’s the same thing too, when I was working on Bizzy, I had stopped working on the CW Show. It was a perfect timing where now I can focus 100% on this startup. It’s always knowing how to structure where your focus is and knowing more about yourself.

That timing piece is massive too. The right time is worth its weight in gold. Holding onto those ideas in the back of the mind, you did it with a year gap of waiting. The timing wasn’t right and being okay with that, knowing that when the timing is right, it’ll make sense to move forward on that, especially as a generalist. Either way, you have to do that. Timing is everything, but I think that’s a beautiful way to help make those decisions on what do I take action on. Chunking it is massive. Getting into the acting side, you were an athlete. You played basketball and you enjoy the competitive spirit there. There was an injury and then there was a pivot into this other realm. Had you ever imagined yourself as an actor before that?

No. It wasn’t even in the peripherals. You have to understand, being Latino, I grew up watching these Blockbuster films with my parents. They were immigrants.

Where are they from?

They’re from Mexico. They focused on whatever the big marketing push was. It’s like, “This is the big Blockbuster this week.” Because especially when you have a family and you’re middle-class, you have to be selective about the movies that you see. If you can only see one movie, it has to be the big Blockbuster that everyone’s talking about. We never saw the films. Everyone grew up watching the Oscar films and stuff. Even to this day, when people are like, “What are your favorite movies?” it’s like they were films that I either saw on TV on my own or they were a comedy that I saw with my family that was out there.

What is it? How do you answer that?

I say, “Remember the Titans?” It was on TBS at TNT. We didn’t watch that in theaters. We saw that on TV all the time. Zoolander’s another one. Seeing that in the theaters was cool. It’s always an interesting reaction when people were like, “It’s not The Godfather? It’s not this?” It’s always a funny reaction getting people hearing people say that.

Before we keep going in the acting, Texas is Midwest-South hybrid. You spent most of your childhood there. What do you appreciate or what are you grateful for from those Midwest roots and how has it shaped you even as a man now?

It’s understanding of what it’s like. If I would have grown up in LA, I wouldn’t have understood what the real issues are in other parts of the world. There’s something that UNC and UN Tech and Silicon Valley, they live in a bubble. The problems that they have are not the same problems that your typical person or average Americans going to have living in Texas or Minnesota or anywhere else. I was always thankful that I got a chance to experience that and see honestly the average household, the average American family life. That way, I can truly appreciate what’s out here. When I talked to people that are living in LA, and they’ve lived in LA their entire life. Either they love it or they’re like, “I want to live a simple life.” I’m like, “You don’t you don’t know what it’s to come from there.” Some people enjoy it, some people don’t. It’s always something I’m thankful for.

The perspective is massive. If we haven’t ever experienced anything else, we can’t have a broader perspective. It’s the natural limitation of it. It is funny how many people who grew up in a place like LA, it’s often assumed that you’re the most open-minded or broad-minded, progressive person, but you’re as close-minded as someone that grew up in the Midwest their whole lives because you’ve only lived at one perspective, so it’s all relative. We can’t fault anyone because that’s our experience. It’s not right or wrong or better or worse. It’s interesting to see how it affects us. No aspirations to be an actor at all? Take us to that junior year in high school.

In junior year, I was on the cusp of being on varsity. I wanted to make varsity. We had a talented senior group. They had fifteen people on the varsity squad. The majority of them were seniors. We were very fortunate. People were talking about moving schools because there were many good players and you don’t want to cut seniors that have been there their entire time. That was the interesting thing to be in that situation. I was a junior and I was on JV. I’m like, “I’m going to prove myself,” and then I landed on someone’s foot and twisted it.

Was this in practice?

It was during a game. I landed on someone’s foot and twisted and torn ligament there. I was bummed. I wanted to come back earlier because I knew that it was my one chance to get on varsity. My parents were like, “This is your season. You should be done.” I took that as a challenge. I was very stubborn. I’m like, “I’m going to come back in a month.” I came back in six weeks or something. The doctor was mad. I was like, “I want to take the cast off.” He’s like, “This is too early. You need the cast on for another couple of weeks and then you needed to boot off for a couple more weeks.” I wanted to get to the boot so then I can start feeling my foot out. It was tough. I was very stubborn. I had to learn on my own.

You took it off early?

Yes. I tried to come back and it was not the same. I was not the same athlete. I was still not ready. Because I was hurt and I was still trying to recover, my coaches saw the boot off. I don’t think they appreciated how much effort I was putting into it, that I had to come back early. They were like, “We got to see you work harder or we got to see you do this.” I’m fighting through pain. I’m like, “Do they not understand that I just came back from a legit torn ligament? I was supposed to be out the entire season.” To contrast that, I was in a drama class and I had an amazing drama teacher. It was my first drama class because I didn’t want to do art because I couldn’t draw. I was like, “If it was the drama class, it’s an easy A.” I did it and he was encouraging and he was nice. He was like, “I think you’ve got a good shot at this, plus we need guys in our program.” He pushed hard. You have your basketball coach here saying, “You need to work harder,” and someone else being like, “I recognize what you’re worth. We’ll figure it out. Come join the theater.” The answer was very clear to me.

What started out as, “This is an easy A,” turn into one of your passions and love. What were the things that caused you to fall in love with it?

The uncertainty of success, not just as an actor as a career, but there was no right or wrong. I came from immigrants raising you like it’s awareness. “This is right, this is wrong. You’ve got to be good. You’ve got to get good grades.” You go into this acting world and then like, “However you interpret it.” Hearing that I was like, “What? I can do whatever?” It’s complemented with the fact that I had some friends that were on drama class and they actively were like, “Do something that you wouldn’t think would be on the page.” If a script was supposed to be straightforward, he’s like, “Why not do a goofy voice? Do this, try that.” I’m like, “Is this allowed?” They’re like, “Why not?” I was like, “Okay.” I started doing goofy voices and giving people weird postures and stuff and I was encouraged. It was such a cool environment that I was like, “I want to do this forever.”

That’s self-expression, the freedom to self-express. I can see that as being such a fuel, especially to maybe your young mind that was interested in the creativity of finding something on the computer, being mischievous. It’s like, “Now I get this whole world to create and explore.” I can see that being fuel to a growing fire in that sense. That was junior year. What did that career path look like for you? Going from interested to, “This is something that I want to do,” and now, “How do I do this?”

UAC 132 | Blending Technology With Creativity

 

I went home after junior year and I told my parents that I was going to quit basketball. They both talked to me. We had a heart-to-heart. They’re like, “You said that you’re going to go play basketball and you would do computer engineering. Are you still doing computer engineering then?” I’m like, “Yeah, but I do want to pursue this as a career.” It was a hard talk. Immigrant parents are like, “You got to be a lawyer, doctor, engineer,” all that basic stuff. Not even with immigrants, but the majority of parents want you to have a stable career. For me to say that was heartbreaking. It was like, “We came to this country to give you a better life.” I’m sure it was tough to hear that.

When I went into senior year, I told my coaches I was quitting. I’m like, “How do I make this a career?” I was fortunate that one of the other guys in the drama class had an agent. He asked me, “Do you have an agent?” I was like, “No.” He’s like, “That’s how you make money. You got to do a commercial. You got to get a theatrical agent.” I started learning a little a bit about it and he guided me a little bit on how to make a resume and email agents and stuff. I got my first agent from there and I started going out on these random modeling and commercial auditions. I had no idea what to do, but that was the first step.

Take me back to that time with your parents and the disappointment or not necessarily understanding. How did you face that then? Even to this day, my parents don’t agree or understand or disappointed with my decision. It still affects me and we’re affected by that. How did you work through that or get to a place where you could move forward or also get their support in that?

I don’t know if you ever go past that. Your parents are the first people you look up to and deep down inside, you’re always like, “I want to make you proud. Aren’t you proud of me?” You can accomplish a bunch of different things. My parents have told me that they’re proud of me and everything, but it took for them to see a little bit of success for them to get there and to understand. I realized that not everyone gets to the point where they’re able to show their parents the success that they are looking for. Parents have a different view of success. If you’re acting, you’re like, “If I can book one job or I can do this.” If you’re coaching, it’s getting a couple of clients.

There are different levels of success for us and our parents have a completely different view from a completely different era. We’re never going to get there. Dave Chappelle put it best whenever he talked about how his dad was a janitor and his dad was like, “Dave, you’re going to end up not making much money being the same comedian.” Dave was like, “How much do you make as a janitor?” He said, “$30,000-some a year.” He’s like, “If I can make that much money a year, just enough, I’d be okay and I can do what I love, I’m happy.” Letting your parent know what your success level is, because they want you to be happy. That’s what I realized.

One, they’re trying to live vicariously through you or two, they want you to be happy. Even the people that live vicariously through you, they’re like, “You got to do this. You got to do that.” Deep down inside, they’re saying that because they think that’s what it’s going to make you happy. If you’re very clear and you’re like, “This is what will make me happy,” which I did later on with my parents. I was like, “I’m happiest as long as I’m on set. I don’t care if I’m working three or four different jobs or living out of my car.” It scared them and they were like, “You want to do this and you don’t understand. If that’s your idea of success and that’s what you want to do, we’re worried about you, but we support that.”

Isn’t that fascinating on communication where we say something and what we mean in our definition and interpretation of what we say is different than someone else? I’ve been learning that times infinity with my fiancée. It’s been such a growing process of like my mind thinks about things that’s unique to me and someone else’s mind is unique to them. Many disagreements come from the reality that we don’t understand what we mean. That’s such a funny process. It’s the same about your parents. It’s such a profound thing that the most helpful thing is telling them your definition of success.

For me in golf, my parents’ definition of success was way more gracious than my own for myself. Mine was very beyond what probably should have been. In my mind, I was a complete failure and, in their mind, it was more of a success. That doesn’t match up. There’s tension in that, which is interesting. You get an agent and you’re learning by doing, especially in that realm. You learn by getting in, jumping into the ocean, trying to figure out how to swim. What were those early years like? Especially in the Midwest. It’s a very niche, small and non-typical route.

There was nothing. That’s the thing when you’re first starting out. You don’t know what nothing is. You don’t know what you don’t know. When I first started out, I got an audition and my parents wanted to get involved. They were like, “Did you get an audition again?” Whenever I started getting an audition, it will be once every 4 or 5 months. I’ll get a random commercial cattle call or a random print job audition or actual job. I realized I needed to educate myself more as to what is normal. If you’re going to be a successful actor and be working and book stuff, you need more of that. I was like, “I’m not getting any of that to be here.” I had a couple of close calls early on coming from the Midwest, but then there came a point where I had a couple of TV auditions, a couple of call backs. My agent was like, “There’s nothing left for you here.” I let him know that I wanted to go to LA. He’s like, “You’re not ready.” Half a year passed by and he’s like, “There’s nothing left for you. I think you’re ready for LA.” I was like, “Okay, cool.”

He made the connection for LA and it was a growing moment because I didn’t know what I didn’t know. For him to say, “I’m telling you right now, you stay here. You’re going to get stunted and you need to go out there.” That was a scary moment for my parents. I was eighteen when I told them. I was nineteen when I finally moved out. They’re like, “You’re moving to Los Angeles and you’re going to be by yourself? Do you even know what you’re doing?” The only way I could do to calm them were three things happened. One was all the close calls where I got close to booking. They saw that I was close. I had booked a national commercial, which got me some money. I was able to have some money in my savings. Three was the connection that I had with a manager already out there. Because I already had things somewhat set up, it made it way easier but it was still super tough.

Did you start college before that or not?

I did. I had started college and then when I went out there for six months, I was doing on online college to stay on track.

What made the determination that was going to be six months on your first trip to LA?

It was me looking at the rent and being like, “I only have enough for six months’ rent.” I lived in a studio and it was tough. Six months pretty much auditioning. I wasn’t a part of the community. I had an acting class, but that’s not community. I wasn’t part of a church. I wasn’t doing anything. It was a very depressing time. I was getting a bunch of auditions. I had booked a thing in the soap opera. People were like, “What? You book something? You’ve only been on it for a couple of months. What are you doing? You’re leaving?” I didn’t care. I was like, “I’m not a complete human yet. I need to go back home. I need to go to college and become a complete human before I can play one on TV.”

That’s a mature thought process for a nineteen-year-old.

Looking back, I’m like, “Who’s this guy?”

If that could be replicated by more nineteen-year-olds, think about the difference of the humans that would be coming in the next generation. I always think about having a couple of years between high school and college could be the most transformative thing for our culture to implement in the next generation’s lives. We don’t know who we are when we go to college. If we go to college for the experience of college, then we’re wasting, we’re prolonging our maturity into adulthood and wasting even more time afterwards. That’s a sweet thing to hear that that was part of your process. It makes sense too because LA is a very exposing and challenging place. I can imagine that being a brutal six months.

If you don’t know who you are, people will shape you to be what they want you to be or you’ll get lost and you’ll be hanging around different groups and communities that you don’t want to be with and it’s all in a search of identity. That’s something that I wanted to stay away from. I was very fortunate that I had supportive parents that were like, “Sure, you can go for six months and sure, you can come back.” Whenever I went out again, it was like, “Sure, you can go out again.” Whenever I went out the second time, they were a lot more supportive because they saw that I understood more about the entertainment world.

How long did it take before you finally felt you had somewhat of a grasp of the entertainment world?

I feel like I’m still learning all the different sides of it. As far as the acting side, it probably took me being on set. Whenever I was a recur where I did multiple episodes on the MTV show, Faking It. That was the first time that I realized I understand what is required from an actor. Because I was with other actors that were working as well, I got a chance to talk to them more. I got a chance to talk to people behind the scenes and the directors and stuff. I understood what was required and what other people were doing that were successful in order to be successful and continue to be successful. I also knew what was required from me from behind the camera side. I got to know them intimately as friends. They were all very supportive and I got to learn so much from those times.

Faith anchors you and keeps you sane throughout everything you're doing. Click To Tweet

It’s amazing how much that experience is. You cannot replace experience. When you think about your development as an actor, it’s such a craft, an art and a skill. For people that have no connection or correlation or experience in the industry or acting itself, it’s easy to miss how much skill or how much beauty and art is in gifted actors. For yourself, how have you developed as an actor? What would you say those phases of development have entailed?

The first phase was learning what you looked whenever you were acting, understanding what made people laugh whenever they were laughing. A lot of time spent in front of the mirror for research purposes. You have to do auditions in front of the mirror to understand, “My face does that.” It’s fascinating because you have your own taste. You watch films, you watch TV, and you know what a good actor looks like. You know what you would like to see in an actor. If you can match what you are doing to what you think you’re doing, then you’re going to be in a good place. Many times, I would get in front of the mirror and I would think that my face is doing this, then I don’t see it. I’m like, “My face is barely moving there. It’s maybe moving too much.” You start learning more about your actions and then sometimes if you even make yourself laugh, that would be so funny if you’re watching someone else. If I saw someone on TV do that, that would be funny.

You start learning what you enjoy and using your body as a tool. It was the very first phase as far as understanding acting and your process. Once you finally started auditioning, how do you execute at the audition level. Once you get past auditioning and booking, then how do you take whatever you learned and do that on set when there are many moving pieces? There’s a lot of waiting, there’s a lot of moving pieces. How do you not get distracted? There are many distractions on set whenever you’re not working. It’s so easy to go out and do whatever, but you have to wake up the next morning. There are always different phases to go through and there are still phases I haven’t gone through. I don’t know what it’s like to be on a $100 million set and have to nail something and because there’s so much money in line, people were moving. I don’t know what it’s to have one continuous take like in Birdman or something. There are many different things that you’re still learning as an actor, but those are the first phases that you go through.

There are many layers. The amount of complexities involved in everything is always staggering when you first discover and start becoming familiar with it. In the journey in your own career with acting, what have been some of the hardest moments or one of the hardest moments for you so far in the acting professional world, in that journey with that career?

I would say crying on set was pretty tough. It’s one thing to get there and it’s another thing to cry and then you thought you got it and everyone’s happy. You’re then doing other setups or takes. It covers on other people. All of a sudden, they’re like, “We’re going to come back to you during this scene.” I’m like, “I have to cry again?” They’re like, “Yes.” You gave it your all. You’re spent. That was probably the toughest time because you do whatever you need to do. We use the little menthol thing in the eyes and it ended up working out fine. That was a big learning experience because you think that giving your emotion like, “I gave them all. I got the take, it’s good.” It’s like, “You got to do it.” Not again right away, but you’ve got to do it a couple of takes later again from a different angle because they’re trying to get everything set up from that. That was a very interesting experience.

In your career, what are you most proud of as an actor? What work or what performance or what even scene or whatever it may be, what stands out in your own mind that you’re most proud of doing?

Everything that I’ve done held a special place in my heart because it’s either from the character that I was representing and the people were saying like, “This character.” Even with Faking It, being a lovable jock. People were telling that story. We were trying to show that there are different people out there in high school that don’t get the same shine as the jocks. It’s cool to be part on that story of like, “Why don’t we tell the perspective from someone that’s coming out of the closet and they don’t know how to do that.” With Crazy Ex, I’m doing the whole mental health thing. It was cool to be a part of different things. Selfishly, I’d probably say working with Robert Rodriguez. That was the thing. I look back on that. I always wanted to work with him. He was cool and he directed an episode of a TV show I did like El Rey on his network and it was a cool experience working on that.

As you look at it now, what are your aspirations as an actor? What still is something that excites you about that line of work?

Being able to do anything. That’s what got me into it. Once again, being Latino, coming out, a lot of times it’s not something that you see a lot on TV or film. Someone’s the president or someone’s an engineer or someone’s a teacher and stuff. It’s cool to be able to go into a room and there are no preconceptions. You’re becoming someone else and you’re telling their story. That’s the thing that still excites me. What story am I telling next? What random person in America, or not even in America, in the world is going to be looking at my character and being like, “That’s me?” That’s cool too. That excites me.

That is exciting and it’s such a powerful thing to be able to tell a story and do it well. A lot of feedback from people that I’ve talked to that know you well. This is less of a scary story, but a lot of them commented that a lot of people don’t know how much success you have had as actor. Most people in the industry often are quick to praise themselves and usually they’re the last to know about your success, which speaks a lot to your humility. One of the aspects that came out was this idea that one of the hardest things to do in acting is play a dumb role. What is it about playing dumb or being the dumb guy character, whatever it is, what about that is uniquely challenging?

It’s so much fun because I don’t see them as dumb. I see them like they’re focused the thing that not everyone else is focused on. You stand out, which if everyone’s talking about their favorite band like, “This band is awesome,” they’re focused on maybe something else. Maybe they are not focused on the band. Maybe they thought that the name of the band was something else. They’re like, “I love that cereal.” Everyone’s like, “What? Are you dumb?” It’s fun to not play by or everyone else’s rules. Whenever I get that role and it’s like, “This person’s supposed to be dumb,” I’m like, “Fun, I don’t have to play by the rules. I am in my own world.”

The social norms, what’s culturally acceptable or whatever? That is a sweet way of looking at it. Even when you look at humans or kids or adults who have special needs, they see the world in such a beautiful way that we all miss. They do live some of the most blessed lives in that sense.

It’s all a different focus. You can have it a whole conversation with them and they’re probably focused on your shirts. They’d be like, “That’s a cool shirt.” You’re trying to have a big conversation about life or something. It’s cool to figure out what that focus is for those characters.

One last piece on the acting side. On the audition side, what have you found from your experience with auditions that are the ones that went well and the ones that didn’t go well? What have you learned along the way in those two realms?

Knowing what your measure of success is. When I first started out, because I didn’t know what success was or wasn’t, I would do an audition and then I felt it went well, but then the casting director was like, “Thank you,” and I’d be gone. I’m like, “What happened?” It’s dangerous because if you don’t have a concrete idea of what your success is, then you’re searching for that either praise or for that validation from someone else. A lot of times it’s from either the casting director or from the production, they didn’t book you or whatever. It’s also tough because sometimes you feel you didn’t do the best job, but then someone’s like, “You booked it,” and you’re like, “I felt I didn’t do what I wanted to do, but I’m glad that it worked out.” It was a nice little blessing to have and it’s like, “I wasn’t expecting this.” Something that I’ve learned was to make sure that you know what your success is. For me, personally, it was making sure I come in prepared, know the lines and also that I hit the marks that I want to hit as far as emotionally for the character. I make sure I walk out of that room and all the choices you make, I feel comfortable that you know what character was in my head.

One of the things also that some people in your community were interested to know and that I thought would be sweet too is your own faith journey, especially through your relationship with Sarah and now your marriage and being involved in the industry and all the different aspects of your life. How would you describe your faith journey with God and where He’s brought you to now?

It’s been a journey. I remember growing up and not caring too much about church or anything like that. When I first came out to LA, I lived within a block away from a church. It was meant to be because if it was any further, especially driving in LA, I wouldn’t have made it. It was cool because I remember feeling so down and depressed. I remember I wanted a little piece of home and I wanted to feel something like, “This is my normal routine.” It became Sundays and I knew that Sunday was going to church. I was like, “I’m going to go to church.” I started going there and then it’s been a wild ride ever since then. I’ve always made it a point to always bring God into whatever has been going on in my life. It wasn’t until years later that I started diving more into the Bible. The Bible is such a scary thing and I remember being like, “That’s a big book.” It’s the same thing as googling sometimes. You’ve got to know what you’re asking. You’ve got to know what you’re looking for.

If you’re very specific and you have intentions of like, “I am looking for this,” that’s a great way to start because I didn’t know where to start. There were stories and I was like, “What is it about?” When you start googling or searching, “What does the Bible say about this? What does the Bible say about that?” you slowly start putting everything together and then it takes so much time because there are many times that people would be like, “This is contradictory and this is this, and this is that.” Once you get to a bigger level of understanding of the Bible, you realize that we’re not meant to know anything. We’re not meant to know it all. That’s when you understand the Bible. It’s like, “These stories are supposed to soothe us during these times, give us guidance.” At the same time, they’re not all the answers, which exactly gives you the answers that you’re trying to search. It’s crazy. It’s a fun place to be in.

The most magical or supernatural thing about the Bible is that it works at the heart level, not the head level. We go approach it in the head level like, “This is how it’s supposed to work.” It hits us in the heart and that’s like, “I got it wrong.”

I’ve talked to a lot of super smart people. They know the Bible so well. Some people that know the Bible the best are the atheists. It’s such a cool thing because you talk to them and you’re like, “You know the Bible.” It’s such a cool place to be in because sometimes even without them knowing, they’re living Christ-like. They are not okay with the structure of it or something, which is fine. It’s not for everybody. When you feel you’re a part of something bigger and part of that community, it’s transcendent. You’re not just pure flesh anymore.

UAC 132 | Blending Technology With Creativity

 

It reaches us on a spiritual level that we all possess. We all possess a spirit and soul. That’s something we all long for something more too if we’re honest with ourselves. In your line of work or in your career path or even in life in general, when is your faith challenged the most?

I’ve been fortunate where everyone that I’ve worked with and every set that I have been on, people have been super respectful about it. I was asked this a while back. They’re like, “How hard is it to be a Christian in the entertainment world? Especially being on set and you’re working with all these bigger celebrities and stuff.” I’m like, “Honestly, at the end of the day, if you’re a nice person and you’re not being a dick or something.” You’ll find some people that are Christians there. They can be mean and in your face about stuff and it can hold up production and cause rifts and relationship issues. That’s where you start getting into an issue. Whenever I’ve seen Christians that have been exiled or something like that, it’s because of that. It’s not necessarily because of their faith. Maybe I’ve been fortunate enough where I’ve worked with cool people that everyone’s like, “You know your lines. You’re cool with me. You’re cool to everyone else. You’re nice. You do work. You’re funny or whatever. It’s cool whatever you believe.”

One of the things that a lot of people want to know, because you are talented, you do have a lot of passions and interests, you have a lot of things you’re involved with. What do the next few years look like? What is on your bucket list?

I’d love to be more involved with the people that I look up to. There are many people in the industry that I look up to them, their work ethic, what they’re doing, the stories they’re telling, having that consistency of work, all that stuff. That’s what I look up to like having finances right. It’s being able to make an impact, whether it be Bizzy, whether it be connecting people to technology to help them schedule or whether it be through leading a community group or something. I want to be in a place where that’s a lot more locked in and I’m helping others get to that point too. Because I know how hard it is, especially this transition period, I’m like, “I’ve done a lot but how do I lead? How do I help? How do I connect more to the people around me and the people that I want to get closer to?” That’s the next few years.

One of the questions I usually ask people in gaining some background info is asking about the guest’s superpower. One of the ones that was repeated for you was your ability to dream and breathe life into other people’s ideas and take maybe their work or their idea or their passion and build out an actionable plan for them. It’s interesting because the feedback that people gave about you is that you already have the skillset to do that. It’s about having more spaces and opportunities where that’s taking place as actively maybe. It’s cool seeing those line up, the heart’s desire and also the gifting that God’s given you in that. It’s sweet. A few one-offs here that I always am curious of knowing. What are your cornerstone habits, the things that are your foundation?

What anchors me and keeps me sane, I would say, is my faith. It’s having that consistent, not just time with God, but time with community, with other people that pour into you. I feel that’s something that I cannot live without. Whenever you have a community, a group of people, you can give all you want, pour unto the people and be the best speaker or be the best actor or be the best artist or be the best coach. If you don’t have your people that pour back into you, then it’s so hard, especially through the tough times. Having that faith and having that community and then doing something active. I can always look back. It’s like, “I had a rough week. I did not do enough of.” It always goes back to like, “I didn’t get out enough.” That’s being active, working out and learning something new. It’s always cool whether it be from someone else like, “I learned this from this person,” or “I learned how to do this,” or “I learned this about me.” It’s always fun to do that.

What book or books have had the biggest impact on you?

Whenever I started getting into learning about Bizzy and the app world, there was a book called Hooked that goes into the psychology of what makes products that people want to come back to or software they want to come back to all the time. At first, I was like, “This is amazing,” then I got disgusted. I was like, “I can’t believe people know this information.” Even the guy that wrote the book was like, “People can use this information for not good things.” I was like, “This is so eye-opening.” It needs to be required reading for any high school student or college students or honestly anyone. You’ll be more aware of why you’re addicted to certain things like social websites and even products and stuff or doing certain things. You’re like, “This is what hooks us to things.”

The Robert Cialdini wrote one called Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion and The Power of Persuasion by Robert Levine is also similar. It’s crazy how we’re wired with the psychology of human beings and how you can manipulate that.

Thane has an entire bookshelf full of psychology type books and business books.

If you could speak at TED Conference, what would it be on and why?

Either community or education. Education, because I’m so passionate about it. When you’re going through it, you don’t realize it. Once you get older, I’m like, “Teachers had such a profound impact on my life.” The way the education system is set up is such a cornerstone of the future of our country. When that is set up properly and it’s accessible to everyone like public school systems and stuff, it doesn’t take much. It’s a huge thing to try to change things now, but it wouldn’t be that many differences to get the most out of kids to make sure that everyone has a set of future and they know themselves enough and everything. I’m super passionate about that. In another life, I’d be a teacher. That and community is super important to make sure you’re around other people and pouring into one another and talking about what you’re struggling with. Everyone’s going through something and it’s a lot easier to go through life and you realize that you’re not the only one.

What new habit or belief has most positively impacted you or your life?

It’s something that I had heard before. It’s surrounding yourself with the people that you respect so much. It’s like, “Who do you spend the majority of your time with?” It’s always interesting because I feel one of the toughest parts as humans is whenever we’re going through different life cycles, we have our friends that we grew up with. We have our friends if you move, friends that went to college with and all that stuff. Every single step of the way, there’s always a new set of people. It’s the same thing with life. You get married and now all of a sudden, your perspective changes. I still want to keep up with my old friends, but now I want to be closer to people that are married and going through this. If I’m about to start a business, I want to be closer with people that have already started businesses and doing this. It’s always something that I heard and then now I’m like, “I need to be hardcore about this.”

If you could send a morning text reminder to every up and comer out there, what would you say and why? A text they’d get on their phone every morning as a reminder.

You’re seen, which might scare people. Mostly where it comes from is a lot of times you feel you’re doing things alone. You’re doing a lot of work and you’re like, “Is this worth it?” That’s also coming back to faith. Knowing that God sees everything, you’re like, “Okay, cool.” There’s a comfort in there. It’s the same thing. Sometimes people need to know like, “I see what you’re doing.”

Recognition and acknowledgment is powerful. Erick, this has been awesome. Thanks for coming on. Tell people more about the best places to find you, Bizzy, etc.

The Gram’s always good, @Mr.ErickLopez. You can also email me at Erick@ErickLopezExplains.com. I created a website to help other actors and other people going through that stuff and hopefully get some blog stuff out there and everything.

Until next time, this has been sweet. Thanks again for making time.

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UAC 131 | Knowing What To Do

 

Intentionality is the key to living a good life. However, a common thing we face in life is coming to a place where we don’t know what to do. On today’s show, Thane Marcus Ringler shares some of his personal insights about this dilemma. He also outlines some practical steps we can take when we don’t know what to do or when we find ourselves in that place of not knowing.

Listen to the podcast here:

What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do

This is all about learning how to live a good life. We believe that it takes living with intention in the tension. Life is filled with many tensions that we get the chance and opportunity to live in the middle of it daily. We believe that intentionality is the key to doing that well. This show is all about interviewing stories of people in the process of becoming. Alongside those interviews, we have peer-to-peer conversations and at times, some solo ones where I share some thoughts that I’ve been stewing on. We’re grateful that you’re here. If you wanted to help us out and help further our cause and the Up and Comers Movement, the best way is to leave us a rating and review on iTunes. It takes about 1 to 2 minutes, and it would be a sweet gift to us. If you could go ahead and do that, that would be amazing.

The next best way is simply sharing this with a friend. If you wanted to screenshot this right now, you could post it at the socials and tag us at Up and Comer Show or text it to a few friends that you think would be encouraged by it. Lastly, if you wanted to support us financially, we are on Patreon. We also are actively looking for partnerships. If your business wants to partner with us, we would love to start a conversation. Reach out to us at UpAndComersShow@Gmail.com. Thank you for taking some time to do that. It means a lot.

I titled this short little talk, What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do. This is a common thing we face in life. Especially as up and comers, there are a lot of times when we’re trying to do difficult things. We come to a place where we don’t know what to do. When you don’t know what to do, the question is always, what am I supposed to do when I don’t know what to do? I wanted to share a few tidbits on that. Daniel Kahneman, who wrote Thinking, Fast and Slow, one of his students said, “Education is knowing what to do when you don’t know.” I love that for framing this whole thing and that we are talking about education or learning. Learning is the key to education and education is knowing what to do when you don’t know.

Learning is the key to education, and education is knowing what to do when you don't know. Click To Tweet

That’s the process that we are in when we find ourselves in these positions. One of the things I found out about myself is that when I don’t know the answer to a question or a problem, I tend to avoid that situation, conversation or a certain area of life. This often creates more stress and more tension in my own life as I ruminate about what to do. If other people are involved, I start feeling bad for leaving them hanging or think that I’m being inconsiderate by not responding. Knowing what to do when we don’t know what to do is an important life skill that I believe does not get talked about as much as it should. I know I haven’t heard much about it myself.

It’s those times when you know something is wrong with your car that you’re driving, but you have no idea what it is. You don’t want to get it checked out because it may end up costing you a fortune that you don’t have. It feels best to drive gingerly and hope that it doesn’t keep happening or at least it doesn’t get any worse. As we all know too well, the longer we prolong getting it checked out and figuring out the problem, the greater chance we have of ending up causing more damage and costing us way more than if we had gotten it checked out sooner. This is a real-life story for me. Prolonging action when we don’t know what to do often leads to greater consequences and damage. What to do? What are some practical steps we can take when we don’t know what to do, when we find ourselves in that place of not knowing?

A Latin proverb says it shortly and succinctly as possible. It says, “If there is no wind, row.” I thought that was a sweet way to say it as simply as possible. Fred Rogers also said some insightful things on this. He said, “I’ve often hesitated in beginning a project because I’ve thought it’ll never turn out to be even remotely like the good idea I have as I start. I could feel how good it could be. I decided that for the present, I would create the best way I know how and accept the ambiguities.” That’s speaking to the heart of what’s at not knowing what to do is the ambiguity around it. I wanted to offer a few suggestions for you and things to think about when we find ourselves in this place. The question is how we can take action even if we don’t know the best choice to take action on.

UAC 131 | Knowing What To Do

Knowing What To Do: Perfectionism robs us of the ability to take the next step, even if it’s a small step.

 

First, we must know that taking any action is better than no action. You don’t have to do everything or wait for the perfect thing. The point is to do something. That goes back to that Latin proverb, “If there’s no wind, row.” Often, we are paralyzed by not knowing that we end up being stuck in a place for a prolonged period of time. With the Law of Entropy in place, we know that if we aren’t moving in any direction, we’ll be slowly digressing and decaying. It is true of all things in life. When you don’t know what to do, do something. If you don’t know what the answer is, tell the person that’s asking, “I don’t know.” If there’s a problem that you can’t solve, start experimenting. If there’s an issue with your car, do some research or investigation. These are not novel things, but it’s amazing how often we avoid doing even the smallest something when we feel like we don’t know the right or the best choice.

That takes us to the second suggestion I have, which is there isn’t a right or best choice. There is simply the choice you make and that was the right choice because you made it. If we are able to learn in life, aka learn itself, then there is nothing we cannot learn from. This frees us up to embrace even the bad decisions or failures as an opportunity to learn and grow. Perfectionism, which I am as guilty of as anyone else, robs us of the ability to take the next step, even if it’s a small step. Big steps are not the goal. They are rarely ever taken well. Usually, if we try to take too big of a step, we end up hurting ourselves later on because we weren’t ready to be at the place we found ourselves in since we skipped the necessary training of the longer path that it takes to get there. The point is, small steps or baby steps are the keys to making big progress. Big leaps forward occur when enough baby steps accumulate over time to add up to that leap and progress or innovation. It is the little steps that matter. You can check out more on this concept by reading the blog I wrote titled Hope, Part 2 – Progress: Why the Little Things Are The Big Things.

Thirdly, we must stack the deck in our favor. This means we make it as easy as possible to take that next step however small it is. When we don’t know what to do, the most important thing to do is to take a step regardless of the size. In order to take that next step, we must make it easy on ourselves to do so. There are many different ways we can make things easier, but here are a few ideas. First, take a timeout. Force your mind to stop ruminating and seek stillness, quiet and solitude. Conscious breathing is a great way to gain stillness in this area. Seek input from others. Gaining objectivity from outside sources and perspectives is one of the most helpful ways to feel good about taking the next step, especially when we don’t know.

Embrace even the bad decisions or failures as an opportunity to learn and grow. Click To Tweet

Gain confidence by doing something in a different realm. Pick a task that you know what the next step is and then take it. Use this experience of satisfaction from making progress or gaining clarity. Allow that to empower you and give you the confidence to make the next step in the area in which you don’t know what to do. Finally, show yourself grace. Be okay with not knowing the right answer or the right next step because you are only human. Being in a place where you can recognize that you don’t know is a much better place than pretending like you do know when you don’t know, which is also known as ignorance.

To sum it all up, not knowing what to do is a part of being human. It will be an experience we have in daily life. The most important thing to remember when you don’t know what to do is doing something. The next reminder we need is that there isn’t a right or a wrong choice to make. Rather, there is the choice that we have made, which was a right choice because it was a decision we made. If it didn’t work out like we hoped, then we will learn and grow from it, which are both great things. Finally, there are different strategies we can use to stack the deck in our favor and give ourselves the best chance at moving forward in the times when we don’t know what to do. Sometimes you have to move backwards in order to move forward.

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UAC 130 | Making Perspective Shifts

 

Taking a slightly different perspective in life can change your entire attitude and outlook. After playing professionally overseas, David Nurse pivoted into his new career path and worked his way to being in the Brooklyn Nets shooting coach in 2015 to 2016 season, helping them go from third to lowest three-point shooting to first in the NBA. David is an NBA Performance and Life Coach who has trained over a hundred NBA players on the court, as well as being a mentor and life coach to these players. Today, David joins Thane Marcus Ringler to talk about his book, Pivot & Go, and to share how making perspective shifts can lead to immense changes in your everyday life.

Listen to the podcast here:

David Nurse: Pivot & Go: Making Perspective Shifts On Life

David Nurse, welcome to the show.

Thank you so much for having me on.

We have been scheduling it for a while, so I’m glad it worked here before I hit the road for a new place. I am going to miss this California sunshine. I have to start here, who in your opinion, is the best shooter of all-time?

The best shooter of all time is Steph Curry. His ability to shoot is even better off the dribble than he does off the catch. It is very rare. The things that he’s been doing is not just even his shooting percentages or the record that he set, but he’s literally transcended the game as a shooter. The game is all three points shooting. Before, it used to be all big men. He changed the game. I would like to personally say and biased Kyle Korver since I grew up with Kyle in Pella. He’s a good friend and I’ve trained him, so I’m going to go with Kyle, but overall, Steph Curry. The best form of all time is Klay Thompson. If you’re a kid out there reading and you want to learn how to shoot until you shoot eight trillion shots like Steph Curry, don’t shoot like him, it’s unorthodox, shoot like Klay Thompson.

When you think about shooters of old, is there any way to properly compare Pistol Pete versus Steph? There’s always the argument. It is the same with Michael Jordan versus LeBron. They didn’t play in the same era, so it is hard to compare the greats. It is the same with golf, how would you compare Tiger Woods with Jack Nicklaus? It is pretty hard.

People are always improving. They’re going to be better. If Steph played Pistol Pete, Steph would destroy him, but it’s relevant to what you have, the surroundings, the circumstances and the area you’re in is how you can compare. You can’t compare it together. Even if you compare Jordan to LeBron, it’s such a hard comparison. Jordan is in such a different era. If people had social media when Michael Jordan was playing, it will be a different ball game. People would be thinking that he’s a god, that Nike pretty much created him to be. Everybody’s always improving, optimizing more, but how they do for what era therein should be the definition.

What about you as a shooter? You’ve been known to be a pretty good shooter. You had two Guinness World of Records for the most threes in one minute and five minutes. I saw the video for twenty in one minute. How many attempts did you have at this?

On that one, it was probably five. It wasn’t many attempts. I had a good rebounder who didn’t let it hit the ground and that was the key. The only thing I could do when I was playing was shoot. I’ve shot as many as Steph Curry pretty much. I am just standing and shooting. If I don’t have to move, I’m great. It wasn’t too many takes and I did it as a fun thing to promote some basketball camps that I was doing and then it got caught on and ESPN got a hold of it and put it out there. It’s my claim to fame. I don’t want any Steph or Klay Thompson trying to beat it. Don’t mess with it.

Everybody's always improving and optimizing more, but how they do for what era they’re in should be the definition. Click To Tweet

How many were in five minutes?

It was 81 out of 90. That was one take. I didn’t have any energy to do it anymore.

With a name like David Nurse, what were your nicknames growing up?

My only nickname that has ever been is D Nurse. My NBA players call me that like, “I’ve got the question, are you a doctor?” At least four billion times, but that’s the only nickname that I’ve had.

What’s your middle name?

Hopkins, my mother’s maiden name. I should’ve gone by that for a stage name for acting. It’s way cooler.

Did you dabble in the acting?

No, but my wife’s an actress. She’s amazing. I’m steering clear.

One of the nicknames that I’ve found for you was Basketball Gypsy. How would you describe a basketball on gypsy?

When you don’t live at a residence and you live out of an airplane, you travel to 51 countries running basketball camps, sleeping on couches, random people’s houses, airports and car parking lots. Literally, you have a bag of basketballs and you have a mode of transportation, you do camps.

UAC 130 | Making Perspective Shifts

 

How many years was that your life?

A solid 4.5 to 5 years. It was from when I finished playing over in Spain until I got picked up by the Brooklyn Nets as their shooting coach. It was amazing. Most people would think like, “You didn’t have a house.” I enjoyed it so much. It was a grind, but it was such a fun grind.

What would be a few of those memories that stand out most as you think back on those 4.5 years? Are there any moments that are the most vivid or memorable from that?

I was in Brazil one time and I was pretty sure I was lost in a random city and no one speaks English. I got down on my knees and prayed to God like, “I need you to get me out of here.” Not three minutes later, a guy who didn’t speak any English, who I briefly met earlier on in the day, knew that I loved Açaí and he came and drove five miles and thought I would be at that spot. It’s unbelievable. There have been times that I’ve been all over in Australia. I almost died in China eating a chicken skewer in Tiananmen Square that’s probably an undercooked cat. I had many crazy adventures, but being able to meet many cool people. I have families. I’ll call them families in many countries, South Africa, Australia, Japan, a couple of places in Europe and Brazil. That’s the coolest part about the whole basketball gypsy. You force people to let you sleep on the couch and then you become close with them.

What culture did you experience had the biggest impact on you?

They’re all different, but I probably have to go with Japan. I’ve been there many times and the culture is amazing. The way people care for others. I’m trying to find a train and somebody will give up their spot. They’ll miss their train to walk me 500 yards to find my train. They are caring and kind. It’s an amazing culture of all being together in a community. It’s also interesting because then there’s also things like, they don’t have much of faith or belief, which is something that I’ve been trying to spread while I’m over there. I think it’s had such an impact on me and hopefully, I’ve had an impact on them.

There’s a book I read by Shusaku Endo, it’s called Silence. He is a Japanese author and it’s a fictional novel based on a true story. It’s about a Jesuit priest in 1600 that went over to spread the gospel and evangelize in Japan when it was close. It’s a fascinating and hard book to read for my own faith. It was good questions that it asks about views of, “Is this helpful or not when other people are dying for these priests’ actions and how you deal with that and reconcile?” I can’t recommend it enough, but it is interesting culturally, how a culture views religion or even God and the way they approach that and how that’s spread in America. Krishna is secularized too, so you have a weird blend, but other cultures are different. It is helpful to be able to see our own culture with a clear lens when we’ve been at other places.

It’s cool to see all those differences, but at the core, what I’ve found and I’m sure you have too, everybody knows there’s something more out there. There’s something bigger out there, whether they want to admit it or not. It’s always innate in people.

In a soul level, you can’t quantify as much. The other thing that I was fascinated to find out about you was during the summer that the tournament goes on.

The TBT. It’s unbelievable.

When you have two good options to go after, you've got to decipher which one is good and which one is great. Click To Tweet

Tell me about the TBT because I don’t have any idea until I came across it. It’s like, “This is insane but cool.”

The coolest thing is the $2 million winner take all-tournament is set up like the NCAA tournament. ESPN has it on TV and promotes it. Years ago, I got some of my friends’ guys that I’ve trained and worked with, we put together a team, didn’t practice once and rolled all the way to the final game. We’re playing on ESPN for $2 million for one game. We had two in the fourth quarter. I’m not going to say the rest wanted this team to win because they haven’t ever lost a game in TBT, but there might’ve been some sketchy calls. It was such a fun run. The crazy thing is probably because I didn’t have the $2 million in hand, I didn’t feel bad about losing out on it. I felt more upset about the run, the camaraderie, the brotherhood that we created in those weeks. I’m missing out on that but it’s a fun time. In 2019, we made it to the Elite Eight. Probably we weren’t as talented that year and in 2020, we’re putting together something dominant. I was on a call with the other person that I worked with. We’ve got our people and we’re ready.

It’s such a genius idea. It’s been going on for several years. For you, was that your first head coaching experience versus being a shooting coach specifically?

I’d been around head coaches a ton. I know how it works and I can do it given the reigns. It’s not X or O base. You’ve got to have your plays, but it’s how do you motivate players? How do you get them to buy-in? How do you get them all to play together as one? At the core, what I found I was good at. I can juice people up and get them to believe in themselves so much. It’s what I’ve been doing individually for NBA players for a long time. Collectively, when they all have that belief, it was magical. I got calls from agents who represent coaches after that, asking to represent me if I wanted to go into coaching. I don’t think that’s my path as far as coaching back in the NBA, but it was cool.

Your uncle is a coach in the NBA.

He won the title with the Raptors.

What makes you know that it’s not the route for you? What does that inkling for you that you feel called to something else? How do you go about discerning that? When there’s an opportunity we often think, “I could go down this road and there are a crossroads.” We have to make a judgment call of, “Which path am I called to or am I best suited for?” How do you go through with that process?

It is a tough process. I know it sounds like an extreme first world problem to have when you have two good options to go after. At the end of the day, it was like, “I love what I did with individual players.” I’d been on the team side before. I feel more called to going and speaking to large amounts of people and teaching them the same things that I’ve been able to learn from and help NBA players develop their confidence and develop being a better overall total person. The coaching side is great. I love the team part of it, but I felt it’s a little bit too contracted together and that I don’t have the type of freedom or reach that I’m able to have with a much broader audience. There are still days where I watched my guys playing in the games and I’m at a game. I’m like, “I wish I was out there coaching, so the juices get flowing,” There is a saying, “A person who chases two rabbits catches none.” Even though they’re two good options, you’ve got to decipher which one’s good and which one is great.

UAC 130 | Making Perspective Shifts

 

Let’s go back to the beginning. When was the first time that you picked up a basketball that you remember?

I can’t even remember. Honestly, it’s been always that I have these pictures when I was two years old shooting on my little hoop downstairs. It’s been always in my blood. My uncle played and coach and he’s my role model, who I always followed and always wanted to be like. In a good way, it wasn’t a choice of what sport I was going to play. Basketball was all I did. My mom would vouch for that too. She’d come to the gym and rebound for me until her fingers bled. I had no idea of fingers were bleeding at that time, but come later, she tells me that.

It’s a passion from day one. That is fun to have something, especially as a kid that feeds you. As a parent too, I can imagine that being fun to see your child be into something, passionate and pursuing something because that’s not true in every child. It’s a cool opportunity. What was your childhood like when growing up? Was basketball your be-all-end-all and then everything else was there, or did you play other sports?

No, basketball. I dabbled in some other sports like, “This is pointless.” It was everything. I prepared every day like I was going to play in the NBA. I was convinced. There was no telling me I wasn’t going to play in the NBA. Even when I was in college at a major Division-I school and I can’t dunk a basketball. I’m still thinking I’m going to play in the NBA with another plan. It was all into that and that’s where my whole story of pivoting in the book, Pivot & Go, where I got the basis of that. I got to play overseas in Australia, Greece and Spain, but it wasn’t like when you think overseas professional basketball is more like that Will Ferrell movie, Semi-Pro.

Most of these guys are more interested in the parties after the game or drinking a beer at halftime. I’m playing in this second division Spanish League in the middle of the Basque region of Spain. I get cut from that team. It’s not only that all my life I put into basketball. I get cut from a team that didn’t even care about basketball in a horrible league. It’s the biggest slap in the face you can have. I’ve got nothing for me until I realized that all this stuff that I’ve been putting in to make myself a better player was all to make myself a better coach. I do study films. I do every optimize detail you can do. I pivoted from the player side to the coaching side.

I want to dive into the book more and the whole concept of a pivot in general. You were in Greece, Spain and Australia. How many years did you do the professional circuits over there?

Three in total.

The results are going to organically come when you're not pressing and worrying about the wrong things. Click To Tweet

The majority of people that haven’t played sports at a high level don’t realize that it’s not glamorous, not sexy and often not fun. The same as playing golf. We talked Brian Larrabee. He was on the show and he played overseas for several years and basketball as well. Koko Archibong is another guy. These people have the same story for everyone, but what were those three years like for you? Obviously, you were in some sense of living the dream, but in other senses, it was not what people would expect and probably even you at times. How do they grow you as a man?

The first year in Australia, I was excited to be playing what I thought was professional basketball. Still, I was doing lessons and training on the side to make money. Most people had other jobs too, but I loved it. I’d always wanted to travel and I love playing basketball. I saw this as the way to do that. When I went to Greece, it was an opportunity where it’s a good team at a high level and they weren’t paying anybody. The financial crisis over there was a mess. Somebody left and I slipped in as an opportunity. It’s my first time in Europe. I’m looking like, “This is cool. This is another travel opportunity.” The next year in Spain I was like, “If I’m going to do this, I’ve got to be serious. I’ve got to take the next step.” I ended up playing in a small town in Pasaia North Spain, Basque region. They don’t even speak Spanish. They speak Basque. It was miserable. It was horrible. The thought of going to these countries and visiting is amazing. That’s why I go back and run camps where I can be in and out, but the actual living and being part of it. It grew me up as being able to see different cultures and to be able to see that life is much more than a game of basketball. What people do in Australia, Greece and Spain were different. Different people and different cultures and all of the core needing something more.

From what I’ve heard of the story after getting cut in Spain, you end up moving back home with your parents. Tell me about that season and how long it was? What was the process? Going through any transitional life is a major process. I’d love to know you describe the phases of it and how you went through that time and came out on the other side.

It was about four months when I was back at my parents’ place, literally living on the recliner chair in the living room. I felt bad for myself because think about all your goals, dreams and everything that you put every day. I was driven and to turn up the wrong side, it is all gone. For me, that was everything. I didn’t have my camps going anymore. It was tough. I felt bad for myself. My mom always says a lot of motivational stuff. She was doing the dishes one day and I remember it stuck with me. She said, “David, when one door closes, two open.” That was what triggered me thinking, “This door closed, but the two more openings something even better going to happen. It’s even better going to come. I’ve got to have that faith that God has this plan, that he’s doing this on purpose to give me something even better.” It sparked me.

From there on, I created some shooting form basketball from China. They sent him over to the Oakland Seaport. I got in my car, drove 29 hours, stayed on my buddy’s couch in Oakland, picked up these balls in my car with all these other big ships around and then I started driving. I went to every high school or middle school. My first camp was with a seventh-grade middle school girls’ team in Kirksville, Missouri. I had no idea what I was doing. I acted like I had done it many times. From there, it was onto the basketball gypsy of five years of traveling all over. I found a lot of joy and relationships. That’s why I love doing podcasts because relationships are valuable to me. I cold-called every NBA GM. One of them got back to me and he’s one of my best friends. He was at my wedding and it changed my life with that too. I was driven to coach and be a coach in the NBA that the same type of passion that I had for playing translated into coaching. It took me those four months to realize that was my ultimate pivot.

Speaking of your mom, where do you think you got your energy motivation? Was it mainly from her? Did your dad also share that?

They both shared it. They’re both were very supportive. They’d be in the gym with me helping me. They’re always there for me. I guess I got it from them and it’s innate in me too.

UAC 130 | Making Perspective Shifts

Making Perspective Shifts: When you’re passionate about something, you want to keep going.

 

Out of your parents and being raised with them, along with that great quote from your mom there, what else stuck with you from your childhood? What else did they leave or implant you within raising you?

They did an amazing job by always being there. Every game that I played, every sports event, they were always there. Even in college, my dad made every single one of my games. It’s four hours away from Kansas City and he’d fly everywhere. They were always there and always loving and never judgmental, just super supportive. I am blessed for that and I’m taking that away when I have kids.

In a sense, I do feel we’ve hit the lottery without having anything to do with it. When you come from a family that is supportive and both parents are together, that is rarer than not now. We don’t get to choose that. It is such a gift and it has such a massive effect and impact on our lives. It’s super humbling to think about and realize, and I feel grateful in the same way. We get to say like, “I’ve been given this gift, how am I going to use it?” It can give us a little motivation we need for our entire lives. In the process of the pivot, you processed this pivot a lot more with your book and with helping others through that too. What have you come to realize the nature of pivots? What are the things that every person experiences or goes through in light of making a pivot? It is going to be part of every single person’s life in some measure or facet. Talk to us more about the idea and the concept of pivots and why. I feel like as humans, we’re probably all opposed to pivots.

Initially, we are because a pivot is going to change, but it’s not a daunting change. At the core, it’s a perspective shift. It’s looking at things from a slightly different perspective, a small turn on it that can change your entire perspective. It’s exactly what I had to do. I looked at all that I put in at a little different perspective and it changed everything. We all go through times, even daily, where we feel stuck in a situation and we feel that we can’t get out. When people come out of college, they feel that they’re going to take over the world and they’re 32. They’re in a job that they hate and they don’t feel like they can get out or relationship that they can’t get out, but you always can. It’s looking at things from a slightly different perspective. I do a lot with having sane or what I call my mindset pivots that can remind you of those types of things. The daily find over the daily grind. Enjoying the daily grind, looking at everything as an opportunity. It’s not looking at anything as, “It’s me,” but it’s an opportunity. It’s looking at any situation as a blessing, any difficult situation as a blessing because you get to help somebody else that’s going to go through that similar situation at some point in life. You’ve gone through it and you can help them.

How do you fill your cup with positivity all the time? Not in a cheesy way, but in a genuine, authentic way by looking at things from a slightly different perspective. I’m huge about going against the grain and redefining terms. I love it when people think outside the box and don’t go with the norm. The terms success or failure, what do that mean? It’s a word that somebody created to have a connotation that when our minds think about it, our subconscious is already drawn to what we’ve heard it means. What if a failure doesn’t have to mean like, “You suck, you failed or you’re done?” It could mean something as an opportunity that you’re going to grow even better and bigger than you could ever imagine. What if you looked at failure? You didn’t fail but you’re going to be even farther greater than you could have ever been because you went through this. It changes the game.

What would you say is the pivot for that shift in perspective that you have to use the most for yourself in life?

Probably the pivot that I’m going through now from strictly being based NBA-wise, coaching NBA players and basketball-wise to seeing myself in a light as a speaker, as a motivational teacher. That’s probably the biggest pivot that I have to go through. I know it’s a process and I’ve been blessed with some great gigs and events that are coming, but I always want more and more. Everything basketball is easy for me. It’s been there. It’s in my blood. It’s taking a risk. It’s taking a chance. As you did, it is writing a book too, and going through that similar type of pivot. People want to label you something and it’s tough to get out of that label unless you don’t care what anybody else labels you and you speak into existence what you’re going to do. That’s probably my biggest pivot that I’m going through.

It reminds me of the common thing that Jesus always said that a prophet isn’t known in his hometown. I think that’s such a true human nature, a lens into human nature that the people that knew us in a certain season of life will often always view us as that season. It’s not right or wrong. It’s the reality of our perspective. We do the same for other people. I love the quote by Alan Watts, who said, “You are under no obligation to be the same person you were five seconds ago.” That’s such a beautiful quote because we’re all like, “I’ve got to be this person or whatever I was.” It’s like, “No, you don’t have to be who you were five seconds ago. You get to be who you want yourself and who you need yourself to be.”

That is the same as true because I was this for a season in life doesn’t mean I’m going to be that the rest of my life. I think traveling is something that most people have experienced, especially when you travel overseas. One thing I’ve always thought about is when you go overseas and you have a trip at least a week or two in length, if not longer, that experience has changed you. You come back and you’re changed, but no one else thinks you’ve changed because they don’t see that. There’s this weird tension of like, “I’m different,” but everyone’s like, “You’re the same.” It is a funny process.

That’s why I never went back to my old college or old high school because people are stuck in that mode and they’re afraid to change. They’re afraid to think anybody else changes.

We want outcome because we want people to tell us we're doing something good. Click To Tweet

The hard part is we all think our way is the best. At the end of the day, that’s great for some people. It wasn’t great for me and you. For other people, it isn’t. We haven’t been given different talents in that sense and that doesn’t mean one’s better or worse. It’s different. It’s a reminder that we think our way is best, but so does everyone else. Regarding the perspective shifts, which out of those perspective shifts that you help others with that you include in your book, which has been most helpful for you in this season of life? I remember you mentioned another one about shooting slump versus shooting hippopotamus.

That’s one of my words. I told you I was big on redefining and I have seven keys to unlocking your unshakable confidence that I’ll go through with NBA players. Seven different ways that altogether makeup how you can have complete confidence in yourself. One of them is redefining terms. For basketball players, there’s a lot of terms that have already been built-in people’s brains that they think are bad. For example, I’ll ask them when was their last shooting slump. They’ll say this time when they missed a bunch of shots and felt horrible. I was like, “What if I asked you, when was your last shooting hippopotamus?” They’ll laugh. It’s a word that people have created in our brains, our subconscious already has a negative tie to it. We don’t judge results the same way as everybody else. I never look at stats or field goal percentages. With players, are you getting the shots that are good for you? I don’t care if they go in or not, but if you get them over time, you trust in the process that you’ve put in. You trust in all the work and preparing for the opportunity that you put in that it’s going to happen. Those results are going to organically come when you’re not pressing and worrying about the wrong things.

The thing that I still have to remind myself the most consistently is the outcome is less important than the process. That’s probably going to be for most of my life. I constantly have to be reminding myself that because it is easy to get sucked into outcomes, results, stats and numbers. I’m curious, what helps you embrace or stay in the process more even for yourself?

That’s the hardest thing and it’s going to be a struggle for everybody. We want outcome because we want people to tell us we’re doing something good. We want to feel important. That’s the whole thing of social media. That’s why people check their Instagram 80 times a day because they want to see those likes. They want to see what they’re doing is producing the results. It’s tough not to get on that, but at the end of the day it’s, “Do you enjoy what you’re doing regardless if you get those results?” If you can honestly say that you wake up and you’re excited about what you’re doing and it’s not driven by what others are going to say about you, then you’re doing the right thing.

It’s an ongoing struggle. I think the biggest way that helped myself get out of that struggle because I battle with it too, is every time I open a handle, I’ll say the word, serve. I’m big on cue words and my word is serve. When I opened that door, I’m automatically putting myself in the mindset of, “I’m going to try to serve somebody in this room. I’m going to detach my own needs from it.” I used to get caught up in like, “I got to meet this person. I got to connect with this person because that’s going to lead to this and this.” I’m like, “God’s going to take care of it.” If I go in the mindset of serving, it’s going to happen organically. Being able to take the pressure off me and pour it into others, it helps a lot with not worrying about the outcome.

It’s huge to be present. It’s such a battle, especially in a place like LA. LA is predominantly and preeminently known for the opposite of that. What’s great is that God unlocks in us the ability to be a redemptive force of light in a place like this. It’s such a cool opportunity. Caring about someone and not about what they can give you is noble. It’s refreshing to be able to be a part of and to feel inexperienced on the other end. Do you ever do word of the year?

Yes. We do word of the month with a good friend of mine and my family.

UAC 130 | Making Perspective Shifts

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Do you have a word for 2020 yet?

We don’t. We’ll do a word of the month and then you’ll find a Bible verse that correlates with it. The concept is you’ll have twelve words at the end of the year and twelve Bible verses memorized.

My sister got me onto the word of the year about several years ago. One of the years was love and that was what started me on that priming when I’m going to be with people, telling myself or praying even beforehand, like, “Help me love these people well and serve them well.” It’s not about me, what I need or what I can get. I can show up for them, be present, love them and support them. It’s a habit. I love the priming yourself when it’s needed, but a word of the month is a great idea.

It is a habit. That’s a great point. These things that you do. I love everyone that talks about all the things to do and the great things that people conserve. At the end of the day, how do you do it? You got to give people actionable steps of how to do it. I love that what you are saying, you’re thinking and you are priming. I tell people to have cue words. What word or saying is going to bring you back to level? When things are bad or when things are good? What can you say in your mind that’s going to be like, “Things are okay, it’s under control?” Giving people actionable steps like that, the ‘how’ is important. People get caught up in the ‘why.’ The passion and the idea’s amazing, but how do you implement it?

Stacking the deck in your favor is a great way to do that too. When I was playing golf, I needed to become clear and tougher mentally. I was wanting to use Headspace and incorporate a practice of mindfulness and meditation into my daily training, but I couldn’t justify it. I thought it was a waste of time. The only way I could get myself to do it was by when I got to the golf course. I wouldn’t get out of my vehicle until I did a meditation. That was the trigger. I was like, “You make a rule, you will not get your vehicle until you do this. You can spare ten minutes.” I had to find a way to do it. The how is important. It’s doesn’t have to be the same how for everyone, it needs to be the best how for you. A big update in your life was when you stepped into a new season as a married man. Talk to me about these first six months going into marriage, your expectations and then what the six months taught you or changed your perspective on.

Married life is better than I could have even imagined. With my wife, God blessed me so much. I never thought there was such thing as having the perfect or the dream girl for you or when you know, you know. She hits every single one of those boxes. Everything I’m going to say will sound cliché. The honeymoon stage never ends. We went on our second honeymoon because it doesn’t end. If you unconditionally love each other, you unconditionally love each other more and more every day. That’s the relationship that we have and it’s amazing. Even asking me that question, I get juiced up. I know I get to hang out with her. We’re going on a date night and I am excited. We love being around each other. We love each other’s company. If you’re going to find somebody, that’s what you’re going to have to have because you’ve got to be around for the rest of your life.

How has it changed you already?

It’s changed me and even more so putting somebody else first. Even though I knew that going in, I’m great at doing life by myself, traveling all over the place. I was a master at it, but doing life with somebody else, it’s helped me to see that I got to put her first in everything. I love doing it. It has grown me in that to help with even serving others to an even deeper and real level.

I am a little bit shorter in tenure so far in relationship experience, but it’s the same thing. I was great at being a single man, but putting someone else before yourself, it’s practice. It’s a great adjustment and it takes time. How has marriage impacted your relationship with God?

It brought me even closer. We have got at the head of our triangle and every decision we make is based on what is best for God. She’s an actress and there are a lot of things that she gets thrown her way, but we talk about it. She knows that whatever is going to glorify God the most, she’s going to take. It’s the same thing as me. She’ll be reminded me when I get caught up in trying to grow the business or players or the travel, that’s the core of it. We pray together every morning and every night. We have our Bible readings and analyze them together. Our devotions are better. It’s always better in the community, but having your best friend right there with the same beliefs and strengthen you is beautiful.

What is the thing that you’re learning the most or that God’s teaching the most about him or about faith?

It’s having more real conversations about Christ. Giving up my time and giving up my schedule and thinking that I can’t step out of the moment and give 30 minutes to somebody who needs Christ. I still struggle with it. I’m on a schedule and I want to get this done and that done, but opening up to more people, whether for better or for worse, talking about Christ. I’m not afraid to talk about it, but it’s doing it and no one wants to do it. You’re going to be in the trenches to talk about it for a while and spreading Him more.

I know that the good Samaritan is always the parable that speaks that so much because it is the thing that keeps us from being what Jesus was and calls us to be is an inconvenience, especially in America. I am committed and focused on accomplishing the goals, the schedules and the tasks that you miss the people in front of you. Every day, I’m the victim by it. It’s the battle of inconvenience. This may be an inconvenience and that’s okay. It’s hard. It’s humbling to see in ourselves. To speak towards entrepreneurship a little bit, what is a unique struggle of entrepreneurship as you’ve experienced it versus going the more traditional employment route?

It’s when you turn it off. It’s when you’re passionate about something and you want to keep going. My biggest thing is the full plate mentality. God’s going to give you a full plate. Everything that’s going to get done for that day you have in front of you, whether you think you’re going to get more done or not, you have to be content with what you got done. You have to be able to shut it off. It can consume you for sure. There’s an issue with people overworking. I feel it myself too. I feel that thing that I got to do more. The hardest thing about it is it’s beautiful and it’s also tough. You create your own schedule, you get to work as much as you want, but you also have to set your own structure.

I’ve heard in an interview you are on and you mentioned practicing the Sabbath and being an integral part of that. I can relate to that, but it’s something that many people, especially in America, struggle and hardly ever think about. Even as Christians, the practice of the Sabbath or even the practice of fasting are often discarded for all these other things that were more easily accepting of. How long have you been intentionally practicing Sabbath and what impact does that have on your life?

Probably intentionally practicing it is about a few months. Knowing that I should be practicing it a lot longer. It’s one of the Ten Commandments that people will shove under the rug and be like, “You’re not working seven days a week.” It’s unbelievable. Still, someday I’ll have to do it. I want it to be Sundays, but some days I’ll have to travel or do a camp or something and try to do another day. When you do, you get to look forward to that thing like a one day holiday every week. Shut everything off and recharge. Every time I do it, I come back with more energy. What I could do in seven days, I’m going to get done more in six days because I have that freshness, rejuvenation and it’s beautiful to be able to spend time with my wife and spend time praising God.

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It’s been a huge game-changer and shift for me too. I wrote a blog post called, I Wrote This on My Sabbath, because it’s such an important thing. What brings you the most joy?

God, my relationship with Christ, my wife. I’m blessed so much. I got to do what I want to do on my own schedule. I got a lot of joy. Even if I wasn’t doing that, I would because I have my wife and I have Christ.

Imagining yourself at 50, what advice do you think you’d give to yourself?

For sure it would be, “Don’t worry about it. It’s all going to work out. You’re going to have a ton of talks and speaking all over. It’s going to happen. Don’t stress about it. Enjoy the time you got.”

Do you think that would be similar to the advice you would have given yourself when you started with the camps?

Yes. I know it’s cliché but it’s everybody’s advice to their younger self.

Life repeats itself. It’s just bigger versions of it. What book or books have had the biggest impact on you?

Probably my favorite book is Essentialism by Greg McKeown. It shows how to say no. Literally, we’re going to have many good opportunities. The enemy of great is not evil, it’s good. There are many and how do you say no to them. That book was powerful for me. The Shack was powerful for me too. I loved it and seeing how Jesus is real in life with you every day. Those are probably the two biggest ones and that Pivot & Go book that I wrote.

When is the release date?

It’s on presale and the official release date all over the place, stores, and all that good stuff is June 2nd, 2020.

If you had to put words around the experience or process of writing, how would you describe it? I know a lot of people have the desire to write a book at some point in their lives, but it’s scary, daunting, hard and feels like a mountain that you can’t climb.

Only if you think it’s a mountain you can’t climb. Honestly, I looked at it as a workout. Every day, I block off an hour a day and I’m going to write. I’d do it on a walking treadmill and I’d write if I wrote two words or if I wrote two pages. That was my hour and I was doing it consistently. One of the big terms that I always talk about is relentless consistency. I’m going to be consistent. The writing process was super fun. It took about six months to do, but I’d never looked at it like, “This is my timeline that I have to get done.” The editing process and the patience until it comes out, that’s another story.

What is a belief that you formally held that you no longer believed to be true?

I believe that I have to make everything happen for myself. The more that I see it is when I give up full control and I was like, “God, it’s got to be you that it happens.” I’m going to keep struggling with that, but that is definitely one.

What question do you ask yourself the most?

“What should I be doing? How can I get the most out of my day?” I’ll write down what my goals are for the next day at night and then in the morning, I’ll review them and I’m like, “What do I have to get done so I can feel like I have a sense of accomplishment and have a good pace in my life?”

UAC 130 | Making Perspective Shifts

Pivot & Go: The 29 Day Mindset Blueprint to Redefine and Achieve YOUR Success

That’s such a hard thing that often doesn’t get spoken to. I experienced that a lot because a lot of the things I was working on don’t have tangible things to be achieved. You’re feeling like you spent all day working and there’s nothing to show for it. Technically speaking, you feel miserable. It’s a hard thing that most entrepreneurs face. The last question we ask every guest is if you could send a morning text reminder to every Up and Comer out there, what short message would you send?

I would say everything you do is a preparation for an opportunity to come. You need to be relentlessly consistent in your preparation. Your time is going to come, but you have to put in the legwork. If you’re a young Up and Comer, it’s not going to happen overnight. It takes ten years to become an overnight success, given from my uncle winning the NBA championship. He’s been coaching for 27 years. His first head coaching job in the NBA, people thought it was an overnight success. Nothing’s going to happen soon, but if you’re preparing every single day like it is your day, then when that opportunity happens and strikes, you’re going to take it and blow it out of the water and you’re ready for it.

What is a great place for people to find about Pivot & Go and find out about your podcast or your work that you’re doing and the coaching side?

Pivot & Go is on Amazon. It’s also at DavidNurse.com, where all my stuff is. The 1% Podcast is all over where you find podcasts. I’m on Instagram, @DavidNurse5. Come out here to LA.

Thanks so much. I’m excited about the book coming out and what God has in store for you. Thanks for taking the time to share them.

I appreciate it. I’m excited for you and your new Up and Coming life.

Until next time.

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