Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Surgery Success!


Good news.  Angelique came through surgery okay. 

Two weeks with no weight bearing. 

We'll take it week by week.

Kind words, thoughts, vibes, and prayers for a swift and COMPLETE healing would be gratefully received and appreciated.

Actually, having just typed that...

... I have to admit that I still have some serious dents in my faith armor regarding prayer.  I'm just confused.  Since Bella died, I read books about people who were in near death situations, where legions of prayer warriors rallied to the cause, and the person near death miraculously came back, and it all gets chalked up to the power of prayer.

If that were the case, why didn't Bella make it?  There was a worldwide avalanche of prayer coming to her / on her behalf... does God arbitrarily decide which prayers to honor?  Were we just a few prayers too short?  I'm not looking for you to answer that, I'm just venting.

If I console myself with the thought that it was God's will all along, then are those books mislead?  It was God's will, not the prayers, that allowed the person in danger to return from the edge of death.

Can you see the spiritual checkmate I'm stuck in? 

God night.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Just start writing again, Tim


Welp...  (that's a word my dad used to use... like well, but with added anticipation of what was to follow)

It's time to start writing again.  Are you still here?  How does this work?  Do you get a notification?  Are you still here? 

I needed a break.  I needed to do something completely different for a while.

Itch: scratched.

As you may recall, I launched a new business venture called Empower U Academy. It was a smart launch from a business perspective… I was well positioned, it was in the business niche, and I now have a home study course, a low tier group coaching program on FB, and private coaching.


I don't say that to be a jerk. I just mean that it was mostly done with my head and not so much with my heart. My heart still lies in telling Bella's story, funding a cure for her disease, and sharing with the world how Angelique and I coped so powerfully under the circumstances by utilizing faith… but not in the traditional sense of the word.

I self published my first book (the first 3 months of the blog) back in 2009 but didn't know much about launching anything and sold a couple hundred books online and at a few scattered talks. I've known that there are AT LEAST 2 more books in the blog, but I've been afraid to revisit the pain and trauma…

…until 2 Fridays ago. I read the post from the day Bella died, and the post from the following day. Since it had been nearly 5 years, it was as if I was reading someone else's work. I was moved to tears in three ways… 1) from the memories and feelings it triggered, but 2) from the words I was reading, and 3) from the unbelievable comments that followed.

None of my business clients have ever told me I impacted them as much as you blog readers did. The gratitude was exponentially bigger than any I've received from my new company. I asked myself the question: "Tim, if you had only one chance to impact the world, which chance would you rather take: teaching business skills to therapists, or helping others redefine faith… ESPECIALLY parents who have lost children?"

I started laughing because it was SO OBVIOUS.

I've made the decision to publish the blog and make my life's work about redefining faith, and sharing the three pillars of strength that have allowed me to overcome insurmountable odds in life: Faith, Gratitude… and Music.

On the home front, Angelique is preparing for a second foot surgery next week so please pray for a full and complete healing.  She had surgery in September for a bunion, and the bones never healed properly.  Back to the boot!

Ali is almost 9, in 3rd grade, selling girl scout cookies as a brownie, and once again selling her art to raise money for Dr. Tolar over at  She's blossoming into an amazing young creative philanthropreneur. 

Julian is 3 and a half and just as delicious as ever.  He's in pre-school now, is completely infatuated with trains, and loves tofu of all things.

Alright.  There is so much more to catch you up on, but I'm going to pause here for now. 

Please forgive my absence.  I needed it.  Will you comment below and let us know where you are?  We'd like to reconnect.

God night.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

January 26, 2014… Music Therapy Social Media Advocacy Month


As we close the first month of the year, my music therapy community concludes a month-long drive to spread awareness through social media channels.  I don't talk too much about music therapy on here, but I would be remiss if I didn't continue to share what lights me up about music therapy.

I am currently working in a teen recovery center that has a boys home, a girls home, and an intensive outpatient school for kids transitioning back into life after a stay at one of the homes.  Where does music therapy fit in with addiction recovery?  Well, first, let's get straight about what addiction is.  It's a neurological disease the features a breakdown in the reward system in the brain.  Often triggered through a combination of genetic predisposition and trauma, addiction is a conundrum because 1) there is no simple test to differentiate an abuser from an addict, 2) and the recovery is patient-generated.  It still lives in our culture under a veil of morality i.e. people who fall to addiction may be judged as having 'poor moral fiber.'  This is relevant, because the shame that addicts often feel hinders their ability to seek treatment to get healthy.

Before treatment, whatever the drug or behavior of choice may be becomes the default response for how to deal with the feelings associated with life, and the cravings associated with addiction.  Remember the TV show "Family Feud?" Remember "The Number One Answer?"  That's how the brain responds.  Happy?  Use.  Sad?  Use.  Lonely?  Use.  Angry?  Use.  Bored?  Use… and so on.

In treatment, the patient has to deal with the fact that their "number one answer"… their 'binky' is no longer an option for coping with life on life's terms.  This leaves a GIGANTIC black hole of coping.  Like a vacuum.  How does one fill that hole?  With new tools, and music just happens to be a pretty awesome tool in this case…

… and that's where I come in.

Can you imagine 6 teenage boys sitting in a circle trying to articulate their feelings?

Neither can I.      (ha!)

Seriously.  Think about your feelings.  They are emotions in action… e-motion… energy in motion… swirling around the mind and body.  Do they have words?  Not exactly… not until we try to MAP a word or phrase over them to try to match.  What if you don't have a word to describe how or what you are feeling?  Are you still feeling?  HECK YES, right?  Imagine those teenage boys' feelings trying to 'get out'… be expressed, but they are trapped inside because they boy lacks a word to map over it… so it remains stuck inside… festering.

Language is like a toll-booth for emotional expression.  It's as if the emotion must pass through the toll booth of language before it is allowed to exit the body.

Well, I say FORGET all that.

Hit a drum instead.

My mantra is, "If you can't say it, PLAY IT."

You should SEE the boys play their drums… and just because girls seem to have a better knack for articulating, don't think they don't lay into 'em either.  Just giving them ALL a NEW AVENUE for their swirling emotions and feelings to travel down and out of their minds and bodies… it is so cathartic!

One boy told me recently, "Sometimes I don't even KNOW what I'm feeling UNTIL I hit a drum.  Then, I listen to how I am playing and realize, 'hey, I'm really angry right now… listen to how hard I'm playing!'"  That was from a 15 yr old boy with a history of anger management issues.  It is SO GREAT to watch these young men and women who are pretty much learning how to emotionally regulate all over again utilize this tool so eagerly.  Because pretty much every kid coming into treatment already has a prior, personal, and powerful relationship to music… I don't have to introduce them to anything 'new.'  They may not know me, but they know - and MUCH more importantly - TRUST - music.

Music is such a wonderful tool.  You can use it in so many different ways from preemies to those in hospice and everywhere in between.  Our field is still extremely small, but as we continue to see good solid research validating why music works so powerfully on the brain, I feel that music therapy is poised to takes its rightful place in the allied health landscape that includes physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech/language therapy.  My 30 year vision is that when I'm 71, music therapy will be spoken of with the same level of understanding as physical therapy.  My hope is that this tipping point occurs much sooner than that, but I EXPECT it to have already occurred before I see 72!

Have you witnessed music therapy in action before?  Where?  Please Comment!

God night.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Moving On...


There are those who will be touched by music therapy in 2014 no matter what I do.

There are those who won't be touched by music therapy in 2014 no matter what I do.

But, there are those who will only be touched by music therapy in 2014 as a result of the expansion of the students I'll be training (along with my biz partner Kat Fulton).

And those people are who I am fighting for this year.

Who or what am I fighting?

Old tapes.

You know the kind…

The ones that still play in your head long after they should have worn out or been thrown out…

Tapes like, "You don't have enough experience to teach others.  What could they POSSIBLY learn from you?

Or this one, "When others figure out that you're still struggling in your business, they'll think you're a fraud and expose you to the world for what you really are."

Kat and my coaches call these voices our inner 'gremlins,' and apparently, we've all got 'em, and they are NOT very nice!

Tomorrow morning, our new FB group begins where we drop a little nugget of information or inspiration every business day for the rest of the year.  We have about 63 or so 'students' (could be students, interns, or professionals) who have 'enrolled' in our group and payed their $1 trial to check us out.  Now, it's time to deliver the value.  I'm up first.  I'll be posting a short article on core values in the morning, and I imagine that maybe this is what a college professor or teacher feels like the night before the first day of school when they are teaching a class or course for the first time.

My inner gremlins officially kicked into HIGH GEAR at about 6pm tonight and haven't let up.  I have a headache, neck ache… my heart is pounding.  Luckily I played soccer today, so my body is POOPED OUT… hopefully pooped out enough to make me sleep through the night.

I told you that I would share breakthrough number 2 from last weekend…

We did a commitment exercise, and it was another visualization exercise where at one point, my hands were open in that same "I am worthy" position I talked about last week, and little strands of light were shooting out of my fingertips and coming back into my fingertips like one of those orbs at "The Sharper Image" where you touch it and electricity connects the center of the orb to your finger tip.  The light was shooting out of the room and reaching that strata of music therapy recipients I described above… the ones that were going to be reached this year because a whole GROUP of music therapists are going to get really clear on their business skills and reach a lot more clients this year.  I could visualize them on a map almost, and their energy was dancing back to me and vice versa, all through my fingertips.  It was exciting, because these are people I'll never meet and never know personally, but through teaching, training, and coaching, their lives will be impacted nonetheless!  That's an honor to be a part of.

Then we had to pretend we had a stake in our hand and that it represented our commitment to our vision, and we had to imagine planting it in the ground.  Well, I had a flag pole in my hand, and the flag that was on it was our EMPOWER U ACADEMY social medial button, which was designed to look like a school crest.  I held it up over my head to thrust it in the ground, and as I looked up over my head in my mind's eye, I saw again Bella and my dad cheering me on to PLANT THAT PUPPY DEEP IN THE GROUND!  So when I thrust that virtual flag pole into the ground I feel like the ripple of energy reached the earth's core!  It was an intense experience.  Then, I leaned my cheek against this virtual flag pole, and rested against it, knowing that if at any time during the journey ahead, the gremlins start attacking, or I start fading, I can just lean against that flag and know it isn't moving.

When I opened my eyes, I had tears streaming down my cheeks, and when I turned and looked at the young woman next to me, she did too.  Apparently she had her own intense moment, and without saying a word, we just gave each other a big hug of support.  I never saw her again, and I never spoke a word, but the support I felt (and gave) just in a hug was so heartfelt, so authentic, it was a treat.

So, this is the game for me in 2014. Empower U Academy.  Where we teach vital business and personal development skills to other therapists and clinicians so they can help more people, make more money, and have the effect on the world they envisioned when they set their own course.

There's more to catch up on, but luckily, I'm feeling spent.  I'm gonna try to dive into bed before I get an unfortunate second wind!

God night and God bless.

Monday, January 13, 2014

January 13, 2014: Road Trip!


Sorry I missed posting last night.  I just got home today from an epic road trip to a seminar in northern California.  I honestly can't remember how much I've shared if any about the new venture I'm undertaking in 2014, but this weekend was a seminal moment in its development, and a huge breakthrough weekend for me personally.

One thing I love is that no matter what I've been through, what books I've read, courses I've taken, etc, there is always another level to the game of life.  That is what makes it so endlessly beautiful!  I have been working on my own personal growth throughout my life; I remember going on church retreats in high school, wilderness school, heck, even Boy Scout camp was personal development.  I remember being deathly afraid of water I couldn't see in (ponds, lakes, oceans).  In fact, I'm still afraid.  However, I purposefully took canoeing merit badge, because as part of the badge, I had to swamp my canoe in the middle of the lake, then get back in it and paddle it back to shore still submerged.  I still remember my heart pounding in my chest throughout the whole experience, but I also remember the feeling of adrenaline when I reached the shore.  I was 13.

Now, I'm 41, and I'm still as committed to having those same breakthroughs as ever, and this weekend, I had not one, but two.

My business partner, Kat Fulton, and I have started a new venture called Empower U Academy where we teach business skills to clinicians, therapists, and professionals who have degrees in helping people, but never got the skills to learn how to get paid to help people.  We have been teaching these skills to our fellow music therapists for the past 4 years at conferences and online, and now we want to help an even wider group help even more people.  So we went to San Francisco to a 2-day seminar put on by a company called - interestingly enough - Thrive Academy.

We thought we were simply coach shopping; we were looking into a couple of different business coaches to help us launch our new venture this year, but we found much more.

There were two breakthrough exercises that we did that left nothing to question about the new year.  In the first, we had to think of what our main disempowering belief about our selves was.  Mine was, "I don't deserve to be successful."  Then we had to hold our chair up in front of us with our eyes closed and imagine that the chair were bars from a prison cell that we had sentenced ourselves to as a result of this belief.  From that cell, in my mind I could see all the people I have touched, helped, served, and treated over the years from either coaching, speaking, performing or treating.  There was an army of people amassed all looking at me in my cell, and they were all very confused.  They were asking each other, "Why is he in there?" and when they found out that I put myself in there, they were baffled, confused, and stunned.

With that, they started cheering and shouting for me to GET OUT! of the cell.  In my first attempt, I failed.  The facilitator said that if we were ready to break through, to go ahead and do so, and I just started crying.  For some reason, I have held onto the story that I don't deserve success my whole adult life, and it seemed impossible to just 'let go of.'  Then, the facilitator had us imagine we were like a wild animal in a cage, and that it was time for us to bust out.  Somehow, that imagery connected me to a more primal, less analytical side of myself, and when he told us to break through a second time, I summoned all the animal instinct I could, and SHOT OUT of that cage!  When I did, the crowd that I imagined erupted with joy, and there were two people that were happiest… my dad, and Bella.  I sobbed with happiness, and my negative belief was replaced with…

… I am worthy.

The peace and humility that accompanied the statement calmed every cell in my body, and I felt a stillness and peace throughout my entire being the likes of which I'm not sure if I've ever felt before.  It was so calm.  When I got back to my hotel room afterward, I walked in, looked over at the mirror, and froze.

I didn't quite recognize myself.

I saw a different person.  I saw a man.  A happy, peaceful, loving man.  It was weird!  I tried to snap a picture to see if I could capture the moment, but the camera didn't capture what I was seeing in the mirror.  It was genuinely like I was looking at someone else, not me… and I really liked the guy I was looking at.

I'll tell you about experience number 2 next week; I am drained.  However, before I go, want to close by saying that if you work for yourself and your purpose is to help treat others, Kat and I are giving a FREE online class tomorrow evening on 4 key tools every owner/clinician needs if you want to have your best year ever.  We're giving away a few gifts on the webinar as well!  Please, if that would benefit you, come over!  Just go to our website and sign up, and hang out with us online!  If you can't make it live, we'll give you a link to the replay, but only if you sign up.  We have something FUN cooked up for the new year!

Just CLICK HERE to head on over to our site to reserve your spot, and we look forward to serving you tomorrow.

God night.