Don't Forget Your Roots

It is very easy to make yourself busy beyond recognition and then use that as an excuse to not do some of the most important things your heart requires of you. I know this pattern of behavior all too well. I've spent a lot of time over the years figuring out what it is I want out of this life, and then going after it full force; often times literally spending 100% of my time in pursuit of such things.

I was born and raised in Fresno, California. My grandmother, grandfather and a number of family members still live there, but until recently, I hadn't visited my birth city for 15 years. The excuse I made for not visiting was that I was "too busy!" I told myself that in order to be happy, I needed to pursue all of the things I wanted out of life and that this left me no time to do something like take a trip to Fresno. I went on like this for nearly a decade and a half, brushing off any requests from family to come visit.... well, until last month anyway.

When I realized that my grandmother was about to turn 80 years old and that I hadn't visited her in 15 years, I was forced to face my inner excuse-maker head on. Deep down I knew that not visiting my grandmother for her birthday was unacceptable, and no matter how hard I tried to talk myself out of it, I simply couldn't. I decided it was time to make a trip to Fresno. We purchased the plane tickets for all five Dollars and started planning out the details of our trip to my home city.

As the trip got closer, a whole host of fears and dark memories began to rise to the surface for me. The excuses I had always made about why I couldn't go back to Fresno faded away, and in their wake stood my true, dark fears and memories; the real causes of my refusal to visit Fresno all of those years. You see, Fresno housed many scars and negative memories for me. My real dad had been a drug addict who was in and out of jail. We grew up poor and entrenched in a dramatic home life full of anger, violence, and fear. As our departure to Fresno grew closer, the pain of these memories grew to deafening levels in my mind. I became quite anxious, but I knew that the anxiety I was experiencing meant that going to Fresno was not only a good move but also that it was absolutely crucial for my own personal growth and healing.

My recollection of Fresno had been a hideously ugly, flat, baron and gray city without merit or beauty. This is honestly how I had been describing Fresno to myself and others for 15 years now. As I exited Highway 99 onto Ashlan Avenue with my wife and three children, what I saw didn't compute. Fresno was not ugly at all. It was not flat. It was not barren. It was not gray. There were actually tons of trees and other vegetation and Fresno actually seemed.... well.... kind of pretty. My wife mentioned the same observation.

We surprised the heck out of my grandmother, and it was one of the most fulfilling trips I have ever taken. I visited the old houses where dark memories still lived only to realize that they were just houses. There was nothing scary or dark about the way they looked, and the people living in them now seemed perfectly happy to do so. I took my children to visit my elementary, middle and high schools and we had a blast doing so! I was able to make peace with all of my old fears and dark memories, and the joy I experienced watching my children interact with their great-grandparents was inexplicable. Although I came down with a cold on the trip, I felt fantastic. I was overflowing with joy and the resolution of pain I had unnecessarily carried with me for way too long.

I will never say negative things about Fresno again. I am proud to be from Fresno and it is deeply part of who I am. It is important to embrace where you are from, not run from it. For any of you reading this that have a similarly painful past that you are running from, stop! If you stop and face your fears head on, you will discover that they are puny in reality, and big only in your mind. If you want a bright, fulfilling and happy future, don't forget your roots!

Cheers all!

Tony

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My wife, my grandfather, my grandmother, myself and my three children.

My wife, my grandfather, my grandmother, myself and my three children.

My Story

In my heart, I have always been a songwriter, musician, producer and performer. It is my deepest inner-calling, yet for most of my life I ignored it. I ignored that inner-voice that we all have and instead listened to the chorus of voices that told me pursing a career in music was not practical. I spent years of my life pursuing the ideas of others. I attempted to complete a college degree and worked in multiple industries doing various jobs over many years; none of which had anything to do with the music that dwelled so deeply within my heart. 
After unintentionally settling into a career in private education, getting married and having three beautiful children, my inner-world began to crumble. It was no longer feasible to maintain the illusion that I was happy without pursing my dream of music. As I clung tenaciously to the facade I had created for myself, I became bitter and grouchy. I began to struggle with deep depression. All the while I continued going to a job I had no desire to be at. I suffered. My family suffered. My wife encouraged me on many occasions to take a chance and make the leap into full-time pursuit of music. She is the true hero of this story for without her support, I would have never taken any action in the direction of my dreams.
The day I was laid off from my job was the biggest turning point in my life. It felt as if I had been re-born and given a second chance. I accepted the news with a smile on my face and many of my friends still remark to this day how odd my reaction to being laid off was. My reaction was of great joy because I had been set free. My depression had led me to complete inaction. I was so deeply immobilized by my negative feelings that I was unable to take any steps to better my situation and follow my heart. The layoff was just a kick in the pants from the universe.
From that day on, I have woken up everyday with a hunger to create and spread my music as widely as possible. I have woken each day as the musician I truly am; and that I have always truly been. This brings a deep inner joy I could never adequately articulate with words. Opportunities have continued to arise that I could have never foreseen prior to losing that old day job I never wanted. Being a full-time musician is not easy. The struggle is real, and it is daily. But I am a warrior for my dream now and take great pride and joy in rising to fight each and every day for the rest of my life.

Blessed is he who follows his heart.

The Writing of "Bird's Eye View"

Bird's Eye View is a song inspired by the power of nature. For those of you who have known me for some time now, you understand that I have a deep passion and connection to nature. I hope to pass on that same reverence for our planet's beauty to my three children, so we tend to spend a lot of time in the Colorado Rocky Mountains during the warmer months. It is always a joyful and spiritual experience that helps to clear my cluttered mind.

When we came back from our first camping trip to the Rockies this year, I felt very distracted as soon as we walked through the door of our Denver home. As a songwriter, this is something that happens to me quite often. Inspiration hits when I least expect it. I made sure the kids got showers, I unpacked our stuff and took a shower myself. Then I gave in to the pull of what would be the beginning of a new song.

I sat down at the table and began to write with my guitar in my lap. As I strummed out the chords that eventually became the underlying structure for Bird's Eye View, lyrics came to me immediately. Sometimes when I write, I am really reaching for something. I often write and cross out several lines before I have even a portion of a verse. In other cases though, the lyrics spill out onto the page immediately with no editing whatsoever. That is what happened with Bird's Eye View. In less than a minute I wrote the song's first verse:

Hey babe, what do you say?

Do we need a revolutionary way to escape?

'Cause I play, and I'm planning to stay,

and I've got this guitar in my hand and I'll be taking the stage.

'Cause right now, we need something bad

All this fussing and this fighting's gotten mama real mad

Me too if you want to know the truth,

I'm tired of loosing ground and breathing in fumes

Then I sat back in my chair and let out a long, peaceful sigh. It always feels amazing to finish a verse, but I knew the hardest part was still ahead. A well-written verse means nothing if you don't have a chorus! Most of the time, when I come up with a good verse I am unable to come up with a good chorus right away; and vice-versa. For shits and giggles though, I pushed forward and started writing the first thing that came to my mind for a chorus. Again, with no editing I wrote the chorus:

Take me to the mountains where my soul can finally breath,

And cleanse me in the river, so my eyes can clearly see

I played that verse and chorus over and over until my voice became tired. I felt overwhelmed with excitement at this new song that was coming into existence! Feeling full of energy, but with a tired voice and tired fingers, I pushed forward writing the second verse. I labored over the page for nearly an hour, writing crappy line after crappy line. I couldn't come up with anything as good as the first verse and chorus. I had to pack it up for the day. I put my guitar away and closed my notebook.

It was 4 weeks later following our second trip to the mountains in 2016 when I found myself with my guitar in my lap again and my notebook opened to a page that had "Take Me to the Mountains" written at the top. We had just arrived home and I felt energized by the mountains again. I began to write and the second verse spilled out in a matter of seconds just as the first first verse had:

When a bird sings, he's telling the truth,

And we could benefit from a little bit of bird's eye view!

To stop time would be a relief,

But we'd be frozen in the ocean of our hate and deceit.

And right now we need something bad,

All this confusion and illusion's gotten daddy real sad

Me too if you want to know the truth,

I'm tired of losing time and burning their fuel!

I immediately knew I had to call the song Bird's Eye View. It was finished.  I recorded it over the next two days and announced on social media I had finished a new song and was going to release it ASAP. The rest is history! 

That's the story of how I wrote Bird's Eye View, which will be available through iTunes, Spotify, Google Play and all other music outlets as of August 16th 2016. I hope you enjoyed this. If you did, drop me a message and let me know:)

You can listen to Bird's Eye View for free on YouTube by clicking below.

Much Love!

Tony

 

Love and Compassion

Our world is escalating towards an inevitable crescendo. Times are tense, frustration is high and horrendous acts against humanity are regular occurrences. We must not let this discourage us. We know that violence begets more violence. Love and compassion are all that can extinguish this fire. We must recognize our world's deep wounds. They have not completely healed. We must treat them. This will take time, and as we engage in tough conversations that simply must be had, let us have compassion for one another. Let's be kind, not right. Love is the answer my friends. It always has been and always will be.

The road is not easy, but it is the right path. We must forge ahead.

Much Love

-Tony