Don't call me lucky.  

People tell me I'm lucky. I hear it all to often when I talk to others about my music career. Lately I  have heard the word lucky a lot regarding to my decision to travel in Asia for nine months. Even my mom told me I was lucky when I regaled her with tales of island life in Thailand.  

Am I really lucky? I didn't really think about luck the first few times people said it to me. Then, like any other word people use to describe their perception of you, I thought about it. Now when people tell me I'm lucky I say no, I'm not lucky, I choose this. Lucky was when I caught that 20th anniversary baseball at Oriole Park. Lucky was when I wasn't paralyzed after I broke my neck and then my back years later.   
Please don't call me lucky. Saying that makes it seem like some golden opportunity fell into my lap. Saying that I’m lucky makes it sound like I won the lotto or found buried treasure somewhere. I have often heard, that luck is when preparation meets timing. Call me determined, tenacious, conscientious, or a maverick. But don't just call me lucky. 
I believe that my "successes" in life have come because of my own choices rather than some conspiracy of the universe. I believe that we all make choices and those choices create the life we live. For better or worse. Each decision we make has an effect on the world around us and sends out ripples like a stone dropped into a calm lake. 

Many of us use the word stress as a way to describe our lives. All too often I've heard people say they are stressed out. I'd be lying if I said I've never uttered those words myself. But it's really a choice we make, or rather a series of choices, that lead to whatever stress or peace we experience in our lives. 

Many times I've heard people say they had to work somewhere or live somewhere. I've heard people say they couldn't travel because they had a great job they didn't want to loose. My reply was always the same: “You choose to do those things,” or “They are the sum of your choices.” Either way, the fact remains that there is no mythical force of destiny holding you in place in your life. Every morning you wake up and from the moment you open you eyes, you make choices. Many people choose to hit the snooze button. Others choose to meditate or drink coffee while others immediately turn on the TV. 
Some time ago I figured out that my choices created my life. While this concept is certainly no secret, it is an empowering way to live. I've always been one to follow my dreams and encourage others to do the same.  
By following my dreams I learned how to create my own life, but all the while I had one foot in what some people call the rat race. Whatever job I had was simply a way to make it easier to continue following my dreams. Working for the man became nothing more than a way to make money and to observe the "normal" American life. As I went along following my passions I saw how others around me filled their lives with, stuff.   

What's the point of life and stuff and work and time? Why are we here and what is the purpose of life? The answers to those questions can't be found on TV or in a bar or a shopping mall. What we find in those places is only a brief distraction from the parts of life that we find hard to bear. The real answers are found outside of our comfort zone where we must be still and connect to something deeper. The real answers to our questions are found when we make choices that are aligned with our higher self, our soul. 

If you want your life to be different make different choices. If you want to do something, if you want to go somewhere, if you want to change your life it's all possible. It all starts with the choices you make. It sounds simple because it is, but it does require work everyday.  
I've lived in places with people from other countries. I've talked to them about how different their lives are from American life. I've seen how happy people can be even though by American standards they would be considered poor. I've seen the happiness of contentment overcome the lack of resources. I've lived in Nepal -a country desperate to heal from a devastating tragedy, racked by corruption, and crippled by failing infrastructure. Despite all that, Nepali people keep such peace and joy in their hearts that you can't help but notice. 
My decision to leave the United States and travel for awhile began as a dream. It began as all of my dreams have. It all started with a thought, a goal, and a fire inside of me. The reason that I made my dream a reality has a lot to do with courage and perseverance. It was only by facing my fears and continually reaching for my goal that I made my dreams a reality. 
I've always been a dreamer and it's never been the easy way to go, but it's invariably been worth it. If you add dreams together with hard work anything is possible. Quite simply, we live in a world where we are taught that we need to conform. We are conditioned with an idea of what a successful and happy life is, starting at a very young age. The reality is that paradigm was created to make a society of consumers in debt, not a society of people living up to their highest potential.  

It is entirely possible to change your life and make it whatever you want it to be. It won't always be easy, and it certainly won't always be fun, but it will be worth it. Every day you spend working to follow your dreams brings them one step closer. Next time you think of something you want to do remember what I always say "step one, believe". The first thing you must do is believe your dream is possible and believe in yourself. 
What the world needs today is not more people wearing a certain kind of shoe, or buying a flat screen TV, or driving a new car. What the world needs today is people who do amazing things, help others, and break free of the corrupt, materialistic, ego driven society we live in. I have a lot of the world left to see, but I can tell you from what I have seen, that it's not just a problem in America.  
So go, throw caution to the wind, take a risk, take a chance, dare to dream. Even if you fail 100 times before you succeed the taste of true freedom will be worth it. True freedom is the freedom from the thought that you can control what other people think about you by how you look or what you drive or where you live. True freedom is when you give up the things that you don't really need. True freedom is when you live comfortably below your means so that there is always enough money instead of always needing more. True freedom is like true happiness, it comes from within not from anything outside of yourself. 
I challenge you to take back the part of your life you normally spend in front of the television for one week. First, unplug your television and cover it with a blanket. Wherever you keep the remote control put a notebook and pen instead. 
Use that time to write down all your goals and dreams in life. If you have a family get them involved as well. After you write the first 30-40 ideas you'll have to push even harder to expand the list but keep going. Try for 100 ideas or more of both personal and family dreams. Be sure to include even the wildest possibilities. 
These ideas will become your list, your intentional focus. Next, pick one simple thing from that list and make it a reality that day. Buy a ticket, go somewhere, call someone and tell them you love them. Whatever dreams you have they are all possible and you can choose to make them a reality. Start with something small and work on the ones that take time each day for the rest of the week. Become the kind of person who lives an inspired life and makes the world a better place for others and yourself. 
Never let fear stop you because as soon as you face your fear it looses all its power. Don't live to make others happy, live to be happy and make the lives of others better. The world needs people who are alive and awake. We can all change the world, it all starts when we change ourselves. Now go, and follow your dreams. 

My first 2 months in Asia. 

It's hard to believe I've been traveling in Asia for over 2 months already. It seems like just yesterday I was getting on a plane from Baltimore to New Delhi, India. I spent my first day in India sick from airplane food and unable to leave my room. The strange noises outside were a reminder of what was waiting for me. What has happened since then has been one of the best experiences of my life.  

I often hear people say that traveling is the only thing you can buy that makes your life richer. If a rich life is determined by how much you live and how much you love others, then traveling indeed enriches your life. I am beginning to see why people spend months and years backpacking through other countries. Being out of my comfort zone in a foreign land has had a gentle yet profound way of both inspiring and changing me at the same time.  

I believe that we all write our own stories in life, much like writing an auto-biography. In many parts of the world long-term travel at a young age is common, while in America people often wait till retirement. I'm choosing to write this chapter of my life now while I am young and can travel freely. I've worked hard and faced many fears to get where I am today. I made numerous sacrifices and gave up a comfortable life to venture out into the world with nothing more than what I can carry with me. There are many kilometers of walking, busses, trains, and plane rides still ahead. I realize now, better than ever, that I don't know what to expect and that makes me excited.  

When I decided to return to Asia, I wanted to be free to travel as I pleased. I chose to buy a one-way ticket and figure things out along the way. I've learned and adjusted every day. I am no longer bothered by the curious stares I encounter walking down the street. It quickly became normal to see people driving on the left hand side of the road. Here in Nepal, now when I eat Dahl Bhatt (rice and lentil soup) with goat meat for breakfast, I don't think twice about it. I can tell people my name and where I am from, order food, and pay for things without using English. I know how to pick out the good street food stalls just by looking at them, and I know what foods to order.  

Living in a foreign place, traveling, eating strange foods, learning a new language, and figuring it all out as I go is empowering. Now, I am more confident and open to what the day will bring. I say "namaste" and bow with my hands in front of me when I meet people, and they repeat it back to me. I accept offers of tea, and have conversations with strangers who in some cases I have know for only minutes. Their names no longer tangle my tongue and their stories fascinate me.  

I've had countless in-depth discussions with strangers and new friends about subjects I don't discuss at home. It's enlightening in new and profound ways to learn things from so many different perspectives. Conversations with people from other countries remind me that we all suffer the same things throughout humanity. The more of the world, I see the more I realize how much we really are all the same.  

As technology becomes more and more pervasive, it's getting harder to be present in the moment. I only have internet access via wifi, so I avoid the constant interruption of texts, alerts, and calls. Some days I have no schedule, no particular place to be, and no smart phone. I am able to simply be present in the moment in a way that I can't easily do at home. I'm so used to doing things, going places, and keeping a schedule that it feels strange to be able to simply be somewhere. 

I enjoy walking out the door in one direction or the other. I let where I walk determine what will happen that day. I've found magnificent temples and amazing foods while wandering around. I've also unknowingly walked down streets that I probably shouldn't have, but I'm still here to tell about it. Each day is a new adventure, and it's becoming obvious that I won't be able to go back to life as I knew it in quite the same way.  

I began my journey in Delhi, India. Crowded with millions of people, it's home to every part of humanity from the richest to the poorest. I spent my first week in India walking through historic places, experiencing the culture, and enjoying amazing food. I was barely able to grasp the magnitude of the journey that I had begun.  

Next, in Agra I visited the Taj Mahal, one of the so-called wonders of the new world. Made entirely from white marble, it is one of the most spectacular tombs on earth. I walked through the ancient gardens and thought of what it would have looked like long ago. I became friends with an Indian family, and experienced the hospitality and kindness of the Indian people when we celebrated the spring Holi festival together. They made me the guest of honor in their community, and opened their homes and hearts to me.  

From Agra I took an overnight train to Varanasi, the holiest Hindu city. It's a very auspicious place to die and be cremated according to Hindu beliefs. Situated on the bank of the Ganga (Ganges) river, Varanasi is a vibrant city of life and death. It's a place where the practice of cremation has gone on for thousands of years along side bustling morning bathing rituals on the stone ghats (steps) along the Ganga.  

Varanasi is an ancient maze of narrow cobblestone streets that is home to over 2,000 temples. The sights, sounds, and smells of that place are unforgettable. The energy of both life and death is present at all times. Day and night I heard men chanting while carrying bodies wrapped in splendid fabrics through the streets to the cremation ghats. Those sounds contrasted with the sounds of temple bells and mixed with the buzz of motorcycles in the narrow streets. 

After Varanasi I flew to Kathmandu, Nepal. Both countries are distinctly Asian, but almost immediately I noticed the differences. Nepal is cleaner, less hectic, and feels a bit more refined then the parts of India I have seen. It has since become one of my favorite places. The people are warm and welcoming, and the food and culture are rich with history. After a week of hanging out and sightseeing in Kathmandu I left for a trek around the Annapurna Circuit.  

I set out on the journey of 250 kilometers (155 miles) with four newfound friends. Often regarded as one of the best treks in the world, The Annapurna Circuit did not disappoint. Pictures fall short and it's impossible for words to describe the experience of trekking in the Himalayas. We traveled through different climates and ecosystems, slept in ancient villages, crossed swinging bridges, and passed countless religious monuments. Climbing the 5416 meter (17,769 feet) Thorong La Pass was the highest point of the journey, and an experience I will never forget. I felt like I could conquer anything after that.  

After trekking I went on safari in Chitwan National Park for my birthday. I saw a tiger, many rhinos, wild boar, crocodiles, a jackal, birds, deer, and more. For the first time, I was able to see animals I had only seen in a zoo in their natural habitat. It was a dream come true and I felt very connected with nature as I walked through the jungle.  

Since my return to Katmandu I have spent my time teaching music at Career Building International Acadamy. It has given me great pleasure to work with such talented students and teachers. I could see the inspiration taking hold in their eyes when I gave drum set demonstrations. Later, during concerts with a fellow traveling musician we felt like rock stars. The students crowded around us pushing their way up to the front and dancing.  

I shared my passion for creativity by giving Creative Problem Solving trainings at the school and a local volunteer organization. The teachers and staff I worked with were excited to learn CPS so the could use it in their work. The feedback I received was very positive and I am looking forward to giving more workshops abroad. 

My Nepali visa will run out again next week, and I have decided not to extend it this time, so I will return to India. I am both excited and saddened at the thought of leaving this place and all of my new friends behind. I am sure that I will return to Nepal, and know I will miss this place and it's people.  

I am starting to get used to making friends quickly and then moving on. I do my best every day to share a part of myself and my passion with each one of them. I'm here not only to travel and experience other parts of the world, but also to make the world a better place and inspire others through my passion. As I look ahead I can only wonder what else awaits me on the journey. 

Why men should practice yoga.  

I practice yoga because yoga enriches my life. I am a life long athlete, musician, spiritual seeker, and learner. I have found that yoga benefits not only the flexibility and function of the body, but also the strength and peace of the mind itself. A lot of men I meet have never considered trying yoga. Most of them don’t know much about it other than cultural references and off color jokes. Well, I am here to say from a man’s perspective that you should give yoga a shot. 

Quite simply, the reason you should start a yoga practice is because it will change your life for the better. Yoga increases your mental and physical strength, flexibility, balance, and many other things. It helps with digestion and organ function, relieves back pain, improves blood flow, mental clarity, and many things too numerous to list here. 

Like many men I suppose, my girlfriend took me to my first yoga class. I have always been athletic and played sports over the years, so when she asked me to take a class with her at the gym I thought sure, why not. That class was not at all what I expected and it changed my life. 

I rented a mat and sat down just before class started. The teacher, a rather toned 20-something woman wearing more colorful than average gym attire asked if there were any first timers, and I raised my hand. She acknowledged me and moments later, standing at the front of my mat bare footed in anticipation, I began my first yoga class. 

I found the flowing movements fairly easy to follow at first. We touched our toes, then something like a pushup, then a slight back bend followed by downward dog. Downward dog was a particularly popular pose as we repeatedly ended up in downward dog. Think of forming a triangle with the ground. Place your hands in front of you and your feet behind you with your butt in the air while looking back through your feet, that’s downward dog. 

Throughout the class she kept using strange words I didn’t understand and the movements got more challenging. Then, we transitioned to some seated stretches similar to those I have done for years playing sports. At the end of the seated stretches we laid on our backs with our eyes closed and relaxed for a few minutes in shavasana (corpse pose). I finished my first yoga class sixty minutes after it began, and I was hooked. 

As the years passed, I continued to attend classes and practice at home. It was often hard to make the time in my schedule each week to take a class, but I did my best. Then, as I was steadily progressing with small bouts of improvement, I had an experience that deepened my practice forever. I went to Thailand, and did yoga at the Yogarden on the island of Koh Samui. It is the most peaceful place you could ever imagine to take a yoga class. 

We made our way past the front gate and through an Asian garden to the century old main house to sign in. The main house was once a residence that has since been turned into a shop, café, and seating area. The class took place in a nearby outdoor room open on three sides to let the cool breeze flow through the space. It was a calming and soothing place to spend our time on the mat. After class my travel partner and I ate exquisite salads and drank fresh juices on the front porch of the main house. It turns out that both the food, and the yoga at The Yogarden are fantastic. 

I felt a caring, non-judgmental, universal, and radiant kind of love in that place. I was challenged, humbled, and inspired all at once on that paradise island. I took numerous classes in my few short days there. I did more yoga during that time than the entire month prior. I tried yin yoga for the first time. I found the long held poses that induce deep stretching of the connective tissue to be a fiercely intense challenge. As directed, I controlled my thoughts and used my breathing to make it through the 5 to 7 minute long poses with as little movement as possible. For the first time, I felt the higher connection and purpose of yoga reveal itself to me. 

Perhaps the greatest benefit of yoga is what is does for your mind. Everyone is different, but for me overcoming challenges brings new confidence, courage, and peace of mind. Yoga is like a mental and physical meditation that connects your breath to your movements. Connecting the breath to movement increases mindfulness and awareness. So much of what we suffer as humans begins with our thoughts. Greater mindfulness and awareness in our life tends to lessen our suffering and increase our ability to face even greater challenges. 

These days, nearly every city and town in America has a yoga studio. I would suggest starting with a beginner class at your local studio. Many places also have restorative classes if you need an easier option to start with. You can rent a mat at most studios so just wear comfortable clothes and take some water. 

There are different kinds of yoga so don't be afraid to ask someone at your local studio. There are also good videos online, but as a beginner it helps to have someone to coach you into the poses. Yoga is not something that you master quickly, that is why they call it a practice. Don't be discouraged if you feel a little out of sorts at first, it will come with time. 

Another great thing about yoga is the people that you meet. I’m not simply talking about meeting attractive women, although yoga classes tend to be full of them. I am talking about meeting other like-minded people who are enjoying a life journey. I have made many friends both male and female through yoga. They are some of the most insightful and awakened people I know. 

Yoga is something you take with you wherever you go. It is something you can practice at home, on a beach, in a studio, or even in your chair at work. It is something that will improve any sports or training regiment. It is something that will enrich your life and may just lead you to places you never expected. Yoga is a practice, a physical and mental challenge, a community, a way of life, and an escape. If you take the time to try it you will be glad you did. Namaste.

My first week in India. 

It's true that you don't just visit India, you experience it. When I decided to travel to India I wasn't sure what to expect, I just knew I wanted to go. I had heard stories and seen pictures, but ever since I was a child I wanted to experience if for myself. My time in Thailand left me wanting to see more of Asia and my life conspired to make it happen. My first week in India has already been so many things all rolled into one. I have seen so little of this vast country, but I've already felt the full range of human emotions.  

My first night here I was ripped off and left stranded by a lying taxi driver which was an unpleasant experience to say the least. When I finally made it to my hotel I was just happy to be safe and have all my belongings. The first morning here I woke up feeling sick from the plane food and perhaps the stress of the night before. I spent the first day of this long journey in bed, missing home, but knowing that it would only get better.  

Slowly, after that first day was over I began to explore. India is the strangest and most frantic place I have ever experienced. This is not the kind of place I would recommend as a vacation destination to very many people. So far, it is not relaxing or slow paced. It is beautiful in spite of itself, and beyond my wildest imagination in so many ways. It is a place that challenges you quickly and rewards you slowly.  I have been sick, sore, surprised, almost run over, lost, confused, happy, sad, enlightened, stared at, amazed, bewildered, befriended, and in love with this place all at the same time. 

I have seen the full spectrum of wealth and poverty here. At any given point you might see a new BMW and then a dirt poor child begging 10 feet away. When you walk down the street you might see young children sorting through collected trash for recyclables to sell for a few rupees. I almost feel guilty wearing Oakley sunglasses and North Face clothes carrying around an iPhone and a mobile recording studio.   

The Indian people that I have talked to say that the problems here have a lot to do with overcrowding which I can see is true. But when you dig a little deeper, it seems that everywhere you go the same problems are worn by all the different faces of the world. I have learned a little bit about Indian history and politics thus far which has only reinforced my conclusions about humanity and the realities we all face each day.  

There are many things about this place I don't understand and probably never will, but I am here for the experience and to see this amazing country. I have experienced greed and dishonesty contrasted by the kindness and hospitality of strangers. I have eaten foods with the finest of flavors. I have smelled amazing street food cooking with one step and stale urine and strange foulness with the next. I have seen beautiful palaces and historical sites contrasted by streets and other areas littered with trash.  

India is a country of yin and yang. Wealth and poverty sit side by side without pretense. Sights and smells both good and bad contrast at a moments notice. It is an energetic and frantic place full of wonder. It is a place that will defy your expectations no matter what they are. India is every aspect of humanity existing in a single moment.  

As I look ahead to other places, the mountains, and the beaches, I can only wonder what else this unique and wonderful country has in store. 

Why do we travel? 

Taking a break on the Inca Trail along the way to Machu Picchu in Peru.

 What is it about traveling that entices us? What draws us back into the planes, trains and automobiles for another adventure? Something about traveling calls to me. No matter where I go and how far away I may be there is always another part of the world to see. For me, it’s more than just being in a different place away from the average days of adult life in the United States. Sure, I like a week or two off from work as much as anyone, but what I seek is far more than just a change of scenery.   
When I was a child, my parents took my sister and me on vacations not only in the US, but abroad as well.  A special trip that I can remember is traveling to Jamaica with my father at 8 years old. At that time I didn’t know what it was that inspired me about that place, but I remember feeling excited and intrigued by the people and sights we saw. We ate fabulous breakfasts on the patio overlooking the ocean and snacked on fresh fish from roadside barbeques at lunch. I drank Ting (Jamaican grapefruit juice) every chance I got, and the taste still takes me back to Jamaica when on the rare occasions I find it.  With time memories fade, but some of those moments remain vivid even after more than 20 years. Perhaps I was aware of a different energy even then. 

It seems that I have always been able to sense the energy of a place no matter where I am. Ever since I was a kid, visiting far away places, trying new foods, seeing unique landscapes, and experiencing the energy of those places has inspired me. Somewhere deep inside of me, there is a soul that is hungry for adventure. My spirituality leads me to believe that the purpose of life is to live fully, love deeply, and make the world a better place. Much like peeling back the layers of an onion, traveling allows me to have both a better understanding of the world and a better understanding of myself. 
Why do I travel? I travel because it enriches my life and inspires me. I travel to see the lesser-known parts of the road. I travel because I can and because the whole world is out there.  As I set out on another journey, I wonder where it will lead me. 




One Baltimore 

In anticipation of the world premier of One Baltimore tonight on 98 Rock I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the experience of recording and producing that track. 

First, let me say that none of this would have been possible without all of the artists involved and they all did a fantastic job in the studio. One Baltimore started with the idea of bringing a group together to create music that would convey a positive message using the energy in the studio. Konexion put the word out to lots of local musicians with a date and a time for the session with the intention of writing and recording the track all in the same day. This method of creation was key in my eyes because I wanted the track to be a blend of different styles and sounds as well as a collaborative lyrical effort between everyone involved. 

When the day of the session arrived and everyone began to show up the energy was palpable long before the first downbeat. Gear cases and instruments streamed in along with empty pages in lyric books. Soon, the studio was crowded with people and we began to talk about the possibilities of what the track could be. A guitar riff emerged and I quickly sequenced a drum beat so that we could start recording. We tracked the acoustic parts with Dave and Peter playing at the same time into one omni tube mic feeding an API 512c. Electric guitar parts followed and once we had some lush guitars and a rhythm as a starting point we set to work writing and recording all the vocal parts. The live drums, percussion, and bass guitar were tracked 2 days later so as not to take time away from the vocal recordings. 

Each and every person that day brought ideas to the table. Those ideas combined with other peoples ideas in a creative space with tools at the ready to capture each performance. Would the track have been different if we had taken 2 days or a week to write and record it? It almost certainly would have but that wasn't the point. What we created and captured that day was a performance full of raw energy and good intentions. The unison chanting part in the chorus was recorded with all of us standing in a room together singing into one microphone. The verses were recorded one by one as people finished writing them in the lounge or behind me in the control room. With only eight bars per verse we could keep the energy up and have time for everyones voice to be heard. Before the end of the eight hour session we had something that closely resembled a song.

During the weeks that followed I spent quite a few late nights at the studio between editing, arranging, and then mixing all of the instruments and vocals. The term editing can be misleading when used today, so to be clear I was cleaning little things up while using whole takes not manufacturing things from tiny pieces of many takes. The drums and percussion were all recorded in one take and were not edited at all.  For mixing, I utilized a mixture of analog hardware and plugins which allowed me to sculpt the sounds to fit the energy and depth of the track. My intention was to preserve the edgy energy while also giving each part a unique tone. Once the mix was done we sent it to Grammy nominated Airshow mastering for the final polishing in their mastering studio.

What has yet to come no one can say but I can say this, good things happen when people come together to create positive change in the world. My hope for this musical project is that it will serve to unite and empower whoever hears it. I will continue to make this music and you will hear from us again. 

One Baltimore features Jolie Sarro, Libertys Lost Scriptures, Eclipse The Enlightening, MdsFynest, and A1Ras on vocals, Peter Terrier and Dave Green on vocals and guitar, Grayson English on bass, and Brian Potts on drums, percussion and vocals. 

The artist vision  

Artists present their unique perceptions and interpretations of life experiences through inspired creations we call art. Every art form—from visual arts to performing arts to music—conveys messages and intentions through the atmosphere and the  electromagnetic spectrum. There is a story contained in each and every artistic creation. A love song can convey a beautiful tale or the experience of heartbreak. A sculpture can capture a story in a frozen moment in time. A painting hanging on the wall speaks volumes to anyone who sees it without uttering a single word. As observers, we experience the artist’s work and our brains process what our receptors receive then endeavor to make sense of it all. Even the written word is open to interpretation and context. One thing is certain—the observer and the artist both play a role in the art experience.  

Full circle 

The making of this website and the release of these collections of works means that this music has come full circle. These albums are only some of the tracks that were made as a part of each collection. Many tracks were not included because I wanted to release only my strongest tracks from each collection. Only time will tell what new releases will hold and what new and old sonic sculptures will be released.