Chicken Tikka Masala

Posted Posted in My Stories

So I had lunch today at my old friend’s restaurant, Carmen’s Lunch Bar. It’s a lovely spot in lovely downtown Pensacola. I just had this really strong urge for the chicken tikka masala (which is amazing, by the way). It was just so interesting how random and strong this urge was. And clear, crystal clear – it just popped in my head. I go places by myself and sit at the bar all the time, but I’ve always gone to her restaurant with one or more other people (even though it’s a lunch bar and everyone’s friendly, so that’s the point!). So my mind jumped in and thought about how good the grouper nuggets at Peg Leg’s on the beach would be. Mouth watering, to be exact – it’s one of my favorite dishes in town. So I thought about going there. And I’m in my car. And I start heading in that direction. I only got a couple blocks away, though, and that strong feeling came back in. So without thinking, I followed the feeling and turned in the other direction, heading for Carmen’s. Trust the feeling and just go. Take The Flow with you. Because it lives inside of you. All the time.

I pulled up and got the best parking spot, right away. A spot that is usually taken. Ha, I thought. I walk in, and there’s a friend from my earliest childhood. Ha, again. The magic is officially rolling. He was one of my older brother’s best friends, so they’d playfully beat me up. And I loved it. He’s sitting at the bar with a couple of others, and the seat next to him was open. So I sat down and we talked the whole time. Great guy, great catching up. And then he asked about what I do, which people who know me do all the time. And he brought up a healer in town that his mom had known very well and that I had studied with a while back. And this led to a conversation about some of the deeper questions, including the “other side” after we die and my take on that. It was an awesome conversation, and he was leading it with his questions. And I could tell that I was not the normal person he talked about this with and that it was a beneficial conversation for him, along with a fun one for me. And then he paid for my lunch!

Are you seeing where this is going? That strange but very clear urge to have the chicken tikka masala at Carmen’s? I could taste it! And I had not had that urge before, not once. I’ll have to put Carmen’s more in the lunch rotation, though. To be honest, I get sandwiches a lot from sandwich places and don’t dine in, but her place is quick and awesome. So there you go.

So we leave, and I see another friend as we’re walking out. I hadn’t seen her in a while, so I stopped to chat. I told her about the cool event that happened with the feeling and all of that, and it turns out that what my friend and I had talked about at lunch was what she was looking for as well! I gave her the contact information for this particular person, and who knows where that will lead. Then she told me that the paint had just dried on her divorce, which I knew nothing of, so I was able to give her a few quick words about jumping in and thriving in the next chapter of her life. And this was no BS, no obligation because I’m some therapist guy. It was totally natural and authentic. I had no idea what went down or how she felt about it, but I wanted be sure she was cool (because what’s done is done so might as well embrace it and move on). So I got that off my chest, and you never know if those words make a difference or not. Even if she thought this was the best thing that ever happened, my words just reinforced that. And if she was devastated and in her head about it, she now had a way different take as well as someone to reach out to if necessary.

So there you go, folks. You can see that I’m totally practicing feeling my way through life rather than thinking my way through life. My mind tried to creep in! As I’ve said many times before, I’m a Virgo with two math degrees and tight hamstrings. I know me some living in the head and over-analyzing. Follow the feeling and see where it leads; that’s where the magic is.

P.S. That semicolon is for another one of my friends that I’m really proud of, and I’ll be writing about her soon. In the meantime, anyone that has been affected by suicide can check out Project Semicolon. Peace out!

My Forearm Locked Up During A Gig!?

Posted Posted in Uncategorized

That was really fun writing a blog post again, so let’s make it a twofer (not a typo, but real urban slang). That, of course, is a reference to the classic rock radio stations of my youth that had Two-For-Tuesday. Not one song by Huey Lewis & the News, but two in a row!! It was pretty awesome, actually. Back to the story…

So I’m a gigging mandolin player, playing mostly gypsy jazz lately. Or before this year, anyway. I’ve done probably about a hundred gigs a year the last six years or so, and the restaurant I’d been playing at all of last year closed at New Year’s. So I haven’t played a whole lot in 2015. And it’s felt like a totally natural time to take a break and relax.

I got the call last Saturday to play a gig just two days later, which was this past Monday night. It was with a hot six-piece group consisting of guitar, mandolin, violin, accordion/melodica, upright bass, and drums. By the way, the melodica is a crazy instrument. Check it out. It cost him only $25, too – basically a toy. Sounds wild, and looks even wilder. I don’t know how he plays that thing (or the accordion, for that matter).

So we were playing the third song of the second set, with lots of music to go, and my left index finger totally clamped down. Whatever runs in the forearm that connects to it, be it a tendon or muscle or whatever – you can tell I’m a real anatomy expert – was just locked up. It was like that finger, which is the most important one for me, just curled up and couldn’t be uncurled. In the middle of a song! It was probably because I hadn’t been playing much. And these jazz tunes can’t chill on a chord for longer than two seconds. So it’s some serious calisthenics for your hands and forearms. Not normal activity. And my left index finger was not happy.

So what does this have to do with this blog? Well, a big part of this blog is about what you do when things go south. Do you let the crazy voice in your head guide you or do you feel your way through the situation, asking your wisdom/common sense what to do. And I’ve been pretty open about my own life and how I handle things. So I thought you’d find this entertaining. Mr. Inner Wisdom Teacher Guy has a physical crisis mid-tune on  stage in front of the Jazz Society of Pensacola at their monthly concert. Haha! And I can say… I’m proud of how I handled it.

The main thing is that there was no thinking involved. Just deal with it. Step to the side as best you can, stretch it out, breathe into it a lot, and drink some water (which I had right there) in case there was a dehydration issue. And really tell yourself to relax. Be nice up there. There wasn’t anything else I could do besides the things I just mentioned, so I simply did them. And then I returned to the stage. And then what happened? When I played again, I heard no sound come out of the amp. It turned out that the outlet that my my amp was plugged into didn’t have the best connection, so my amp became unplugged. So repeat process… just handle the situation. Plug it back in, but without the commentary or freakout. That’s the difference – with or without the freakout. And it just takes practice. And trust me, there are still plenty of things I have the freakout about…

If you really think about it, situations like that might even make it easier to chill in your head, because it’s obvious that you don’t have time for that. I’ve given talks to emergency medicine professionals, for example, and to me they have no choice but to handle their work environment like a high level athlete in the zone – just do it. Pure awareness, breathing, and not the chatter. There’s just no time. So our invitation is to extend that to the rest of our lives and see if there’s really more peace to be found by living that way. And to see if giving power to that negative BS in our heads – that we are doing to ourselves! – is really nothing more than a habit. Which can be replaced over time and gentle practice.

So there you go, that’s my story from Monday night. And it’s nice to be back, both writing in this space and playing. Peace out!

Let’s Try This Again…

Posted Posted in My Stories

Hi folks, I’ve been on blog vacation! And it has felt right. I just crossed the four-year mark in private practice coaching/counseling, and things really picked up a couple of months ago. And when I’ve been off work I’ve just wanted to chill. It’s getting close to double the weekly sessions from before, so I’ve been seeing lots more clients and loving it. The sessions are going really well, and it feels so good to share with more and more people these two simple facts: your feelings come from how you see the world (as opposed to from the world directly, which is how most people live – HUGE difference); and you are connected to a source of intelligence that can guide you through life, if you just ask it what to do now. You can call it wisdom, common sense, intuition, etc. Psychology has always been a bunch of theories, and it’s time for some facts. Science has facts, so why not psychology? Well, now we have two facts. And the results have been speaking for themselves.

When I’ve been off work, I’ve just wanted to be off work. I’m even slacking on a website redesign. My web guy has made it clear that he’s simply waiting for me on what he needs. That’ll get going soon, all good. I did want to check in, though. And it’s hot here! I feel like it got super hot and humid earlier than usual. Like you’re walking around in a huge, hot blow dryer when you’re outside. Ouch.

Of course there’s still lots of great stuff to share, and it’ll really reinforce what we’ve been learning. Clients are kicking ass. Many of my friends are, too, and I’ll be writing about more of them. So peace out, and enjoy your summer. I’ll be writing a post for the Breathe Yoga newsletter in a week or so, so you’ll be hearing from me soon. It might be called Fantasy Land, and if so it’ll turn the tables on a common misperception. In the meantime, all the best to you and yours!