I am a New York City area based Certified Personal Development Coach, and my mission is to to help people work on building a strong foundation on which to construct the life of their dreams. We will accomplish this by working to build a strong sense of mental and emotional wholeness. My goal is to assist others in developing thought processes and practical skills so that they can better move through life with much more ease and grace.
I intend to use my own life experiences, everything from moving to New York City with no money and no job, entering into a 12-step recovery program, severing all ties with my parents and being homeless, to show that it is possible to not only survive, but thrive; as a living example.
I aim to illustrate that because of our true nature, we are never really alone, nor disconnected from our source. And because of this, we possess far more power than we’ve likely ever been taught or imagined we have. We only need to learn to tap into this potential and forge our lives through our thoughts, words and actions.
A Shaky Foundation
My history formed the foundation of my entire life’s philosophy. I did not have an easy go in life, as many of us don’t. I struggled at many points of my life, some of which I will share. But I am not simply sharing a laundry list of the events of my life. I am highlighting certain aspects and events that forced me to start viewing the world in new ways; ways that allowed me to rise above much of the adversity I lived through.
I was an only child raised in a small Midwestern town and adversity commenced at a very early age. I was different than most boys. I was sensitive, emotional and had little interest in typical boy activities. My family was very uncomfortable with these traits and did their level best to guide me away from them.
My childhood wasn’t unpleasant, but adolescence changed all of that. My teenage years were rough. As is true for most everyone that age, I just wanted to fit in. But I didn’t and many people went out of their way to make sure I knew it.
I dreamed my entire childhood of becoming a teacher and became the first person in my family to graduate from college. I pursued my dream and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Education from Eastern Illinois University.
Just out of college, my dream was realized; I secured my first, and last, teaching position. Unfortunately, I was completely unprepared for the job. I was immature, idealistic and I never really thought through the realities of teaching 25 – 30 third grade children. I also wasn’t really welcomed into the school; especially by two teachers I would be working closely with. It just wasn’t a very supportive atmosphere.
And lastly, at 22 years old, I was just beginning to come to terms with my sexuality. And although I never did anything that was even remotely out of bounds, this was the end of the 1980’s in a relatively small city in south central Illinois. Things aren’t like they are now.
My contract was not renewed and I left the situation completely turned off with teaching. From there I moved on to work in several hotels in St. Louis; starting as a front desk clerk and eventually working my way up to Assistant Front Office Manager. And although I moved up the ladder, my success in this field was not without difficulty either.
Unexpected Lessons in Love
One way I learned to survive my childhood was by developing a strong will. I was extremely opinionated and offered up those opinions readily; with little regard about how they would be received. I had a self-righteous streak and felt that I somehow knew what was best for other people.
Soon after entering into my first serious relationship, my then partner, Michael, asked me to move with him to New York City. And although I’d spent most of my entire life living in a rural area, I was in love and had nothing to lose so I said yes. We arrived in New York City in October of 1990.
I again found work in the hotel industry working at a front desk. Soon after, I accepted a position at a large, well known hotel in Midtown Manhattan as a manager in the housekeeping department. For the most part, I was doing very well at work, but my attitude often caused undue friction. It was also carrying over into my personal life.
Within a year of our arrival, our relationship began slowly coming apart at the seams. Due to my own fears and anxiety, especially from being so far from home, my self-righteous tendencies were on full display. Finally, in September of 1991, he informed me that he could no longer stand me and that I needed to so something about my behavior. I had simply become nearly impossible to live with.
Michael was a recovering alcoholic and he suggested that I might find Al-Anon (a sister program of AA) helpful. My immediate reaction was that I didn’t need it; he was the alcoholic – he was the one with the problem – not me.
The relationship continued to deteriorate and by the end of October I was in so much pain that I relented and went to my first Al-Anon meeting. Much to my surprise, I soon discovered that he wasn’t my problem; I was. And thus began my journey of conscious self-discovery.
The Beginnings of My Conscious Journey
Al-Anon, a twelve step recovery program like Alcoholics Anonymous, suggested that my life and my sense of well-being was my responsibility. It encouraged me to focus on my own life, not the lives of those around me, and to work on creating the life I wished to live. It was also my first foray into spirituality.
Having grown up in a religious tradition that is restrictive and essentially teaches that my sexuality makes me somehow less than worthy, I became angry about religion and not so sure of God. I wasn’t sure I wanted a relationship with a God who was angry with me. The 12 steps of Al-Anon introduced me to the concept of a Higher Power; one that I could define for myself (The God of my understanding). And so I did just that; I reconnected with a power greater than myself and began to search out resources and teachings that resonated with my soul.
The first few years of my recovery were focused mainly on dealing with my anxiety and learning that the only things in life that I can truly control are my own attitudes about myself and my world. My attempts to control people and situations were very deeply ingrained and I spent several painful years learning the same lessons again and again until I finally started to accept that I wasn’t in charge of, nor was I responsible for the world. This should have been obvious, but as crazy as it seems, somewhere deep down in my brain I had convinced myself that the responsibility of the world rested on my shoulders.
The Darkness Before the Dawn
Although I was now consciously working on myself, my relationships were not showing signs of great improvement. As a matter of fact, things were about to get worse.
Self-discovery can be a messy process and I was not exempt from it. On my 29th birthday I had a falling out with my parents. Essentially, all communication affectively stopped. Now whether you’re 9 or 29, most people do not wish to be estranged from their parents, and I was no different. And especially as an only child, it felt like abandonment.
In terms of finding myself, I now realize that this separation was exactly what I needed. It forced me to begin forging my own ideas about who I was and what I wanted for myself out of life. There was no longer that parental influence pushing me in one direction or another. This event, as painful as it was, began shifting me from self-discovery to self-acceptance.
As I was developing my own self-concepts, I began to discover that there was more to me than I thought there was; far more than I ever dreamed or imagined. I began to understand that I was part of a much larger picture. And as I became more and more aware of this, I got more and more interested in spirituality. I began to understand that the power greater than myself, that I had come to believe in, is not completely outside of myself. I started to understand that it resides within me as well. I began to realize that each and every one of us is just a smaller portion of the infinite whole.
In the late 1990’s my new spiritual ideas were put to the test. In the matter of a couple of years I quit my job at the hotel, thinking I had another job lined up that fell through at the last minute, I got into a relationship I thought was going really well that ended abruptly, I had some minor health issues and I lost my apartment, eventually spending a couple of months homeless.
Put Through the Paces
My newfound worldview told me that I needed to trust the universe; that I would be taken care of. And although it wasn’t easy, and sometimes I fought it, the more I surrendered my will and my fears to that power greater than myself, the faster my issues resolved themselves.
This proved to be true in my financial and work life. For example, during my time of unemployment, I attended daytime Al-Anon meetings. As the basket was passed to meet group expenses, I reminded myself that I needed to continue to contribute; to declare to the universe that I believed that I would be financially taken care of. After about a month or so of attending these meetings, one day I openly and honestly shared my fears and frustrations and by the end of the meeting I had a business card in hand and a job three days later.
It was also true in my love life as well. I had never allowed myself to truly mourn the loss of previous relationships. This time I did. And because of it, I began to realize that I might never allow another person to hurt me in this manner again. I woke up to the fact that I was giving my power and my sense of my own well being over to someone else, thinking they would make me whole. When I emerged on the other side of this painful period, I had a much stronger sense of my own strength.
And as for being homeless, I might have gotten the best lesson of all. After moving from friend to friend, staying on sofa beds a week or two at a time, I called my friend Heather to ask if I could crash at her place for a week or so. And to my surprise, her response wasn’t yes or no, it was, “I need to call you right back.”
I was a bit shocked at her response. What was there to think about? But I was in no place to make demands. Her ultimate answer was even more surprising.
You see, Heather’s roommate was leaving town for three months and she had promised a friend that during this time the friend could stay in her second bedroom. I had to wait because Heather needed to call her friend and explain the situation. Her friend lived with her mother and was essentially looking to have a three month vacation. But Heather decided that my situation was more important, that it had precedence. She called her friend and said ‘I’m sorry, you just want to get away from your mother, but Tim is without an apartment right now. He is going to take priority.’
In an instant, I went from a two year period where I felt far less than abundant and unloved to feeling completely cared for. I went from homelessness to living in a doorman building a block away from Central Park. I went from feeling unlovable to having Heather choose my needs over those of another of her friends. And, what was supposed to be a three-month stint ended up being almost three years.
In March of 1997, soon after moving in with Heather, I was introduced to a book, Conversations With God: An Uncommon Dialogue (Book 1) by Neale Donald Walsch that would truly alter everything I believed about life. In the 12 Step World there is a concept of spiritual awakenings, and although I had moments that in hindsight I knew were awakenings for me, I was about to have everything I had thought about life completely upended in the most positive way explainable.
I began reading Conversations With God and devouring it. And as I read, I kept finding myself feeling that somewhere deep inside of me I already knew what it was telling me. All of it seemed very familiar though I had never been taught anything like it before. I couldn’t put the book down. All I wanted to do was read it. Although I felt like I already had some ideas about spirituality, the book was affecting me like none had ever done before. It was taking every concept and idea that I had been exposed to over the years, through my recovery work and other books I had picked up along the way, and unifying them. It was an aha moment like I had never experienced one before. It was, for me, the truth staring me in the face.
One of the primary concepts in the book is that each of us would greatly benefit from learning to listen to our highest voice; what some call our gut reaction, our intuition or our soul. Intellectually I already knew this, but I was about to experience it first hand.
The minute I finished reading the book, I was overcome with emotions. Something had awakened in me that I didn’t even realize was there. My first feeling was that I had to get out of the apartment – to go outside somewhere. I had to find a place to think – to be – anywhere. I just needed to be alone with myself for a while.
I decided I would take Heather’s dog, Samantha, for a walk. With Samantha on her leash, I took the elevator down to the lobby and walked out the front door. Where should I go? I desperately needed to be away from people at the moment. Now living half a block from Central Park, my first thought was to go there. But, it was ten o’clock at night. My second thought was, “I can’t go into Central Park at this hour.” My small town thinking was screaming, “It’s dark. Who knows who is lurking in there and what they might do?” And then I thought to myself, “Go with your highest thought.” With that, I made the decision to face my fears and go to the park.
Where did I want to go? The answer immediately came. Go to the lake in the middle of the park. Again, my “rational” mind said, “It’s really dark in there.” But still I knew this was the place I needed to go. And on Samantha and I went until we reached a spot on the edge of the lake where a large rock formation juts out into the water. From this vantage point, I could see the greatest portion of the lake. Above it was Midtown Manhattan. It was a crystal clear night and the lights of the city were beautiful. I could look into the sky and see the stars above me and the reflection of the lights of the city in the water. It is stunningly beautiful at any given time, but I was open to experiencing the awe of it like never before.
Something in me had changed. Something had shifted. I sat there on that rock, surrounded by peace and beauty and a feeling of connection and gratitude overwhelmed me. I sat there that night and wept. That night, in the city of 8 million people, I found myself and my connection to all of life. I have since never viewed the world in the same way again.
I read and reread Conversations With God over and over. I would come to the end and immediately start again. I took a blue highlighter and underlined passage after passage that resonated with my soul. I did this eight times. I didn’t just want to read the book; I wanted to fully comprehend it. When I finally felt I was done, I moved on to the second book of what is now a whole series. I studied the second one almost as thoroughly and I awaited the third book, the forth, fifth and so on.
And it wasn’t just these books that I read. They created a foundation of knowledge for me that set a tone. Over the years I’ve gone on to read well over 50 other spiritual and self-actualization books. Some of them I read because they were recommended to me, others I picked up in moments of serendipity. All have affected me in a myriad of ways and together they have set me on a course of living a life that is beyond my wildest dreams. I also began to seek out other spiritual resources and teachers all because this one book shifted my perspective.
Fruits of My Labor
In December of 1999 I met my partner Greg. We had an instant connection. Our backgrounds were very similar, in that we were both from small towns in the Midwest. But we had taken nearly completely opposite paths in our lives. Where I had felt unpopular and almost ostracized in high school, he was class president. Where there was only a small expectation that I would go to college and I ended up in a small state university, he was accepted at several prestigious institutions and ended up at one of the best journalism schools in the country. Where I had watched my childhood dream slip away and floundered for years to find another calling, he started his career immediately after graduating and was, and still is, a rising star in his field.
We each, however, bring something unique to the table. Although he has always been highly successful in his career, he was not completely comfortable with personal aspects of his life. But this was the very work I had done all those years and I began to influence him in these areas. And although I had a higher comfort level with who I was, I struggled with fully recognizing my value and worth, especially in the work arena. He has helped me to develop these aspects of myself. These are just two examples, and there are so many more.
We’ve gradually built a life together, integrating within our respective families as well. His family was the first to welcome me. And just after I turned 40, my parents and I resumed our relationship and soon after they were welcoming him into my family.
Each of us is fully aware that neither of us would have the life we have today without the other. And I can honestly say that I live a life today that I never ever could have imagined growing up.
The Universe is Calling – Line One
My road to becoming a Personal Development Coach has been long in the making. For the last 10 years I have been working in the pharmaceutical industry. And although I’ve successfully worked my way up to higher levels through the years, I have never felt a sense of fulfillment in this line of work. Over the last few years, at about the 20th anniversary of my entering the Al-Anon program, I began pondering the idea of becoming a Life Coach.
The idea kept bouncing around in my brain, but I just couldn’t wrap my mind around how one goes about doing this. It honestly never even occurred to me to look it up on the internet and research it. It was just this nagging little thought that would pop into my head from time to time
And then as fate would have it, while attending a show of a songwriter friend of mine at a cabaret venue in Manhattan, we were seated at this tiny little table with two people we had
never met. My partner struck up a conversation with them and asked, “So what do you do?” I about fell off of my chair when they both answered that they are Life Coaches. Stunned, I told them that I had been toying with this idea for a quite some time. I was even more blown away when I found out that one of them was a lead instructor for iPEC (Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching)
As often happens in life, I have come full circle. I realized the universe was sending me a message. And that message was, “Listen up buddy, your whole life has lead up to this moment, you no longer have any excuses.” And listen I did. And now I am moving back into the realms of being the teacher I always dreamed I would be.