When I find something that I love doing, creatively or professionally, I’m prone to overworking and taking on a million things at once. Part of it is a control issue and part of it is feeling pressured to run as fast as I can – like I’m racing against some imaginary clock. I become so obsessed with the creating and the doing, that I smother it. I hug it so tight that it can’t breathe, and that’s usually when nature steps in and pushes us apart. It shows up as a physical response in my body in the form of anxiety and stress, which is also the doorway to burnout. This time though, nature showed up and took away one of the things that I value most about myself, my ability to speak. I got a month long reminder of what can physically happen within me when I do too much, too fast, too soon and don’t slow down to simply enjoy the ride.
Listen to the episode here
I have a growing list of extremely powerful books I’ve read throughout my journey that have really helped shape new thoughts and expanded my perspectives. Literary explorations that served as an access point to SELF and ways to dive deeper into ’why I am the way I am’. Books that served as the precursor to Talk Therapy and books that explore the spiritual and creative process. Below, I’ll give guys you my very brief cliffsnotes and why the books are worth the read.
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle - This is at the top of the list because it was such a vivid reminder of how everything important and impactful to the human soul is experienced in the present moment. A guide on how to train your mind to find gratitude and peace in the stillness and how to equip yourself with tools that can put those rapid, overwhelming, thoughts on pause – which is probably one of the most difficult mental games we play. This book can be used as the cheat code that helps you break through the mental overwhelm and will sit you gently in the NOW.
When the Past Is Present by David Richo - This book was recommended to me by my therapist and was my first exploration into the writings of my favorite author in this space, David Richo. The way he expresses himself and contextualizes his words into visual pictures in my mind felt very familiar to how I think and speak. The book explores how and why we find ourselves in old patterns and habits. Why we tend to seek old people in new relationships and what pieces of us need to be healed in order to break through to the new ’US‘ that’s waiting to be discovered. This book taught me all about ’transference’ and man was it a game changer for me.
How To Be An Adult In Relationships by David Richo - This book is a MUST READ for anyone in/or seeking a meaningful, deep-rooted, intimate connection. It explores how to navigate relationships in a loving and compassionate way. How to face fear and conflicts with grace and how the best ’WE’ can only bloom from the best ’ME’. I absolutely love this book and it was filled with so much beautiful information that I feel has really primed me and set me up for when my person arrives.
The Creative Act : A Way of Being by Rick Rubin - I’ve never read anything by Rick Rubin but have recently found myself being captivated by his connection to Source. This book was confirmation that we are all creative beings and the closer we are to ourselves, the more connected we are to the Source. And since Source is a creative vessel, then we in turn are vessels for creativity. The read was extremely easy and power-packed with examples, little stories and Mr. Rubin’s take on how he engages in the creative process. I tend to revisit the pages when I’m feeling a bit stuck and looking for a key to unlock the mental inspirations.
I was on fire with the Podcast and then out of no where I abruptly stopped releasing episodes. This is why – I went too hard, too fast and my body had to force myself to slow down. I had a physical response to the stress I was experiencing due to taking on more than I could handle. I’m a one man orchestra when it comes to all things Steezy Studios as well as being a student and a practitioner when it comes to Self. I’m personally an ever expanding work-in-progress and so are the creative aspirations that I try my best to bring to fruition, and nothing about the two are frivolous. On the surface, recording and editing two to three episodes a week may not seem like a lot but when you dive deeper into the mental and emotional bandwidth I exert while trying to shape, mold and verbally express these highly charged segments is what makes it extremely taxing. – This is something we all need to pay attention to because it’s the road to burnout and health issues. The human brain can never override the human body when it shoots off S.O.S flares in the sky. It’s literally telling us to Save Our Ship!
When I record and open up so freely and transparently about these extremely personal issues, experiences, battles or beliefs, it’s like I’m reliving the initial events all over again. Though I’m not physically back in that space and time, my mind and emotions are, which then causes my nervous-system to react by sending signals through my body. All of the ‘slow down’ signs were there but my false sense of control wouldn’t let me take my foot off the gas. At first, my back started hurting and I just figured it was due to sleeping wrong or my posture while running. Then my arm started feeling tense and tight and that’s something that used to happen a lot to me when I was under the constant pressure of deadlines in the past. It got worse once the anxiety started to seep in and I was finding myself on the cusp of full blown panic attacks. I would self-sooth, focus on my breath and bring myself back into alignment for a moment then slipstream right back into my momentum. When I’m in this ‘beast mode’ I’m so consumed by the velocity of my pace that I forget to enjoy the actual race – And sometimes I even forget what I’m racing for.
Then, one morning a little over a month ago, I woke up and couldn’t speak normally. My tongue felt numb and in the way. It was a foreign sensation that I’ve never felt before and heavily impaired my speech. I couldn’t pronounce my words clearly and I sounded as if I was drunk. It was by far one of the wildest stress induced physical reactions I’ve ever had. And how fitting, the thing that I love to do, the thing that is so important to me, the thing that I was so lit up about is the one thing that was rendered unusable. I couldn’t talk freely, I couldn’t communicate, I couldn’t express myself with my words. I felt like a bucket of water was thrown on my fire to record content. I was forced to acknowledge and respect an interesting and powerful realization, this podcast not only has the power to bring me tremendous joy, it also has the power to bring me suffering. You can’t escape the contrast in life or the poles of opposites. Nature came and snuffed the flame, but rather than seeing it as a terrorist attack, I decided to decipher the message it was trying to tell me.
Now that I can talk normally again and without any residue of the reaction, I can see so clearly that the message was this, – ”Danny, stop trying to expedite the timeline. You are so focused on the progress that you are missing all of the gifts and beauty in the process. Pause, take a beat. Be present with what you are doing in the moment and why are you are choosing to do it. Find joy in every piece of it. From the second you start running to the time it takes for you to break through the ribbon at the finish line, there’s a space for celebration. Celebrate the ‘doing’ just as much as you celebrate the ‘done’. This work isn’t meant to be rushed, it’s meant to savored. – And just a little side note, Danny, you have no control of how fast the external results of your work will unfold for you. You only have control of how you show up as a result of the internal work you’ve done. Take actions today for what you want tomorrow while staying anchored in the NOW. The payout today comes as a feeling, the payout tomorrow comes as a reward. ”
I hopscotch between stages of being obsessed with clothes and the joy I get from styling myself, to dry-spells of inspiration. I’ll feel unmotivated to put any effort into my presentation. It’s usually in those moments of lacked interest that I tend to throw on a pair of denim pants with a vintage shirt and call it a day. And truth be told, I’m not much of a jeans guy. To me, they’re pretty much the equivalent to sweatpants – they’re what I wear when I’m feeling lazy.
So why do clothes matter and why are they such a huge piece of my life? Well, there’s the obvious, as much as I would love to frolic around in the buff, clothing is legally required. And from my shallow research into this particular subject, people who aren’t fashion conscious usually leave it at that. It’s purely a social requirement rather than a practiced and expressed curation. It’s the difference between saying “I’m here” and “I HAVE ARRIVED”.
Clothes, fashion, styling, whatever you want to call it, serves as an expression – a creative outlet. It’s the billboard that proudly displays who you are and what you’re into without having to mutter a word. It’s the receptionist at the front desk of how your feeling today and the representative responsible for telling the world what you’re into. It’s creative, it’s cultural, it’s expressive, it’s personal, and in a lot of ways – it’s the external medication for our internal deficiencies.
I’ve been trying to remind myself that not everything needs to be so philosophically charged. Some things aren’t meant to be dissected and squeezed for every droplet of data, but rather simply enjoyed for what they are – joyful moments. I’m trying to find my way back to the piece of me that can be silly and find the play in the tranquility of life. Those relaxed, light, unguarded moments with friends and loved ones that are equally as important as the highly charged experiences. I’m mindfully in pursuit of rediscovering the inner me that has no problem dancing on the surface because he knows he also has the ability to go deeper than most. The me that can celebrate the duality and have fun diving into either end of the pool.
I’m finding myself in this really interesting internal conflict where I want to surrender to my inner child, my humorous side. The goofball kid that likes to crack jokes and has a plethora of witty come-backs at his disposal. Yet I’m feeling tension and resistance there because there’s a bit of shame in the undertones. You see, I spent most of my life in that space. I shielded all of my flaws, insecurities and low self-esteem with humor. Being funny was my security blanket and a great way to distract people from paying attention to my self-perceived lack of intelligence.
Now that I’ve fully committed to being a student of life and a practitioner of the lessons and strategies I’ve acquired, I firmly believe this is the first time my EQ and IQ are in full parallel to one another. It feels amazing to be here and I’m extremely proud of myself. – But, in the garnering of these attributes, I lost touch with that other quality that brings me joy, the access to my childlike free spirited radiance. The playful silly side that makes space for me to sit comfortably in the neutral. I deeply feel that laughter is a gateway to an enriching and joyful life. It costs us nothing but air, yet it provides us with so much internal nourishment.
My current exercise is to remind myself to not always be so ‘serious’. To laugh loud and often. To allow myself to be disarmed. To give permission to little me (inner child) to come out whenever he feels like playing. To allow him to run freely but not blindly. As a man that had an archetype (Dad) that didn’t model this type of freedom past the age of ten, it makes sense as to why this is so challenging for me. Words like childish, immature, silly, foolish, etc, are all triggers to the internal firing squad within me that are yelling, “Stop! Grow up, Daniel! That’s not how a real man acts!”. Which is obviously my dads voice and not my own, and highly counter productive to my creative spirit.
As I add the photos to this post, my head and heart are instantly catapulted right back to the day that my life was forever changed. Though the memories still bring me a great deal of sadness when I let them consume me, I’ve had to learn to control them. I’ve had to take agency and decide which perspective I choose to frame this challenging experience in, an experience that we all as humans will eventually have to endure. I can either let the pain break my heart, or I can transfer the energy into something that expands my ability to love. I chose the latter. And in order to honor my mom, I need not root her departure in sadness, loss, grief or despair, but anchor her existence in love and celebration. On this day, I sit in gratitude and appreciation for her being my mother. Though she was not perfect, she was mine. And in her imperfections, she taught me a great deal about myself. Her love and teachings still live on within me and through me as I navigate in this world, not only as the strong man that I am but also the scared little boy.
Reliving the days I spent with my mom as she slowly slid into her transition was a battle that I didn’t know I was prepared for. I didn’t know the relationship that I was building and creating with myself and God over the four years prior, would be the fundamental foundation that got me through life’s toughest storm. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was slowing building a bridge for myself that would get me from loss to love. From death to life and from darkness to light. As I reflect back on the yearlong timeline, I now see the gifts that I’ve received and the treasures I’ve found a long the way.
The first thing that jumps out at me is my resilience and trust in myself. This beautiful surrendering to the unknown and the assurance in my ability to love myself enough to get me out of the internal dark places. To not only be the boat, but also the lighthouse that leads me home. When my mom first passed away I was a wreck. Instantly haunted by regret and the “what if’s” “why didn’t I’s” “I should have’s” and the loudest internal statement of all “why wasn’t I a better son?”. All of this self-deprecation and negative talk was on a loop as I replayed all of the missed opportunities I had to show or tell my mom that I love her. This space of regret and shame is a slippery slope and I knew I needed to be kind to myself in this delicate state. I needed to show myself some grace. I had to acknowledge that I’m only human and I’m doing the best that I can, using the tools that I have at the moment. Once I broke through that barrier a whole new perspective opened up for me. I went from deficiency to discovery and found a whole new toolset. I took ownership of my experience and began looking for the gifts. I embarked on the healing phase by honestly asking myself a couple of questions and answering them not from human logic, but from a soul space deep in my heart – “Daniel, do you think momma wants you to be sad?” No, I know it breaks her heart to see me broken. “Daniel, how can you honor your momma?” To be the honest and loving man that she always prayed for me to become. To be happy and to continue to live in pursuit of my dreams. To be strong and show up for my family. To represent her in every action that I make, and to remind others of her sunshine. – And that, my friends, is what I continue to do.
There are so many personal lessons that I’ve learned from this. Some much harder to gather and implement than others but something that I’m very proud of is the bond that my sisters and I have garnered throughout this experience. There’s an unconditional love unlike anything I’ve ever received or expressed prior with my siblings. We’ve forged this connection that is deeply charged by compassion and love and it expresses itself in a way that makes us feel safe and supported. No matter how different our journey is or where we are on the voyage, we’re scaling the summit together. We’re hurting kids masquerading as adults who are trying to figure out how to survive without their emotional protector, and live in this physical world while being untethered to our external source of comfort – all while still trying to seek peace and freedom in the belief that she will forever live in our hearts and echo through our laughter.
If there’s one thing I am certain of, it’s that mom is proud of us. She raised resilient humans. Her strong-willed children that can endure pain and somehow find the gifts in the discomfort. Adults who choose love in the face of loss and who expand through the toughest growing-pain of all, the one where a mother leaves, and the parent within has to show up. I had to look at myself in the mirror and say ”Daniel, you are safe. I love you and now it’s my turn to protect you and take care of you. We are going to be okay and we’re going to get through this. Just because you can’t see momma, it doesn’t mean she’s gone. Laugh with her, dance with her, take her with you wherever you go. Talk to her often because you know she’ll respond.”
P.s. Momma, I could feel you next to me last night as I sat outside under the moon. I was playing the playlist that I made for you and when our song came on, we danced together in my mind. You were wearing a beautiful black dress and I was in your favorite suit of mine. I could hear you telling me how handsome I looked and how proud of me you are. It was just you and I but we were surrounded by love. I hate that I never got do dance with you like that in real life, but in my heart we will dance together for a lifetime. I love you and I miss you. Thank you for loving me and believing in me, even when I didn’t deserve it. – Until our next date, please save me a dance.
-Your son, Daniel
I rarely go out due to me finding a tremendous amount of joy in my solitude. And to be completely honest, I just felt like I couldn’t find a space that had an environment that matches my energy and vibe. If you’ve read my previous post or been following my journey, you’ll know I don’t drink or party. I choose to avoid putting myself in situations or proximities of people, places and things that can lower my vibration. Which has been quite challenging because I’m human and still love to have a great time. Finding that right place and the right space that makes me feel comfortable and could match my tempo was nearly impossible until one night a friend invited me to Dreamland™.
I walked in and instantly felt like this is exactly what I’ve been searching for. Scratch that, YEARNING FOR. The ambiance was inviting and the decor aesthetically matched the era that I wish I could have experienced firsthand. The era of the bohemian spirit; love, peace and rock & roll. The atmosphere was dim, sexy, lavish, retro and had an amazing energy to it. It didn’t feel like I was in a stale building masquerading as an interior decor facade. It was as if I was invited to an intimate Malibu house party in the 70’s when fashion had flair, texture and a personal story behind it. Before there was such a thing as an aux-cord and your only option for a sonic experience was that of vinyl or better yet, the human melodic sounds being disbursed through microphones, amps and monitors. Live music bringing beautiful people to life and resurrecting a state of engagement with the space as if it too had a soul, a voice, and something to say. There was no bad energy or a hierarchy of those who have and those who have not. It was a space where people could just be. Where young people felt older and older people felt young. Where nostalgia was heavily present for those who lived it and those wish they were there.
Dreamland™ is hands down my new favorite place to go when I feel like I need a night out. I’ve already gone a handful of times since my first encounter and will be back many more times to come. Even as I type this, I look down and see the wristband with the adorned orange and yellow insignia that I’m still yet to cut off my hand. It’s like a badge that says – “yes, I know about this special little space on the PCH where locals and dreamers alike can go, mingle and feel apart of something special”.
Past – My drinking career began in Junior High but if I go even deeper in my subconscious, it really started when I was a child. I can remember my dad coming home from a long day at work, and like a routine, he would shower, pour a four-beer-serving into his giant frosty mug, sit in his chair and watch TV. The smell of homemade food would fill the house as my mom was in the kitchen working up her magic. My dad, like a king on his thrown, kicked up his feet as he sipped his suds. Naturally, I, the little prince of the manor, would be positioned right beside him. He would put his arm around me and make me feel safe and loved and then quietly whisper, ”Mijo, wanna sip?”. Dad was my hero so of course my easily influenced child-brain wanted to partake in this passage of manhood. As he shifted the mug in my direction and tilted it to my tiny lips, he smiled and told me to hurry so mom doesn’t see. I can still feel the giant cold mug pressed against my face as the taste of freezer-burned glass and bitter barley traveled through my mouth and into my belly. My little underdeveloped frame instantly postured itself as a maverick would in the wilderness. Inflated by machismo and the acknowledgment of my father, I sat there thinking – this must be what love tastes like. These were the types of moments with my dad when my innocent imagination was catapulted into projections of alpha-male etiquette. You see, my dad was an alcoholic, my grandfather was an alcoholic and a large portion of my family didn’t know how to celebrate without a cold beverage in their hand. That’s not to say my whole family has a problem with addiction, but I am saying the regularity of bottles being around and the consumption of its contents being so normalized in my childhood experience would inevitably serve as the primer to me being susceptible to a battle that I didn’t even know I was signing up for.
From my early teens up until early adulthood, I never thought I had a problem. To be completely honest, I never even liked the taste of booze – but sure did love how it made me feel. It was exciting and fun. I liked being silly with my friends and if alcohol was around, that meant girls weren’t too far away. As a teenager who grew-up as the fat kid in school, drinking gave me a confidence and a veil of self-esteem that I could never acquire on my own. It was the mask that replaced the reflection in the mirror, the me that I was embarrassed of. It was the key that unlocked the hidden chamber within that allowed me to freely express my humor. It was my Kevlar vest that didn’t allow rejection to wound me. At that stage in my life, I didn’t just like drinking, I loved it. It was innocent and honest and wasn’t yet causing any negative impacts in my experiences.
Then somewhere things got squiggly. Drinking and having fun turned into belligerent blackouts and being obnoxious. Mornings of regret and shame and an uncertainty of who I even was the night prior. In hindsight, this is when my favorite pastime turned into a negative habit. I could no longer control myself once I started drinking. I became a Binge Drinker and never knew where the line of overconsumption was. I would drink fast and continuously until I was no longer consciously steering the ship. I knew things were really shifting and getting out of control for me when the girl I was dating at the time witnessed me in a state she didn’t recognize. We were at a party and I was loud, possessive, controlling and outright disrespectful in public (all antics that would continue to haunt me). She tried to express her worry because she loved me, but I still didn’t fully see that my sense of control was a false one. In my mind, it was absurd to think something so small and harmless such as a drink could be powerful enough to hypnotize me. – I was delusional.
Fast forward a few years and I moved to Hollywood. This is when my drinking got exacerbated by the sheer enabling that Hollywood gives you. It’s the land of the broken toys, the misfits, the lovable rogues that are all seeking validation through existential prizes and people. It’s where the facade outweighs the human behind the mask and where lies are more compelling than the truth – and I felt right at home. In this ten year long segment of my life, I was living like I was somebody. I created this whole new avatar for myself that was wild and had a presence. He was on his way to a level of success that he dreamed of. And because of this golden carrot that he was closely running behind, he felt entitled. Girls should love him for what he has (photography, superficial stuff, charm, charisma and an over-inflated sense of self). People should accept him and never abandon him because he has a valuable skillset and a manipulative way of exploiting their needs (narcissistic tendencies). He positioned himself so people needed him (codependency). – Behind it all, I was just a scared little boy who couldn’t bear being alone and didn’t believe he was worthy of being loved and feared being fully seen. My bed was always full but my heart was always empty and alcohol was no longer an occasional supplement, it was a necessary medication to numb me from the paralysis that I would experience when I was forced to spend time with all of my shame and inadequacies (dancing with my demons).
Looking back, I can see so clearly now that the only thing I ever wanted was to find a pathway to authentic self-love. A true, sincere, unconditional worthiness for myself that I could only find by going inward. It was such a trying time for me and I was on the precipice of life and death, and that is not a euphemism.
Present – I woke up four years ago today and decided I was done. I was tired of trying to be a better me while still having one foot anchored in my past. I no longer wished to be the vessel of chaos that gets uncorked within me once I take the first sip. It was time to make the shift from powerless, to powerful. It was time to recalibrate the measurement in which my character is gauged. It was time to become a new version of self, a self that chooses to be an expression of light and love and trusts that there’s an unseen omnipresent power waiting to help him transcend from victim to hero. – Here’s my journey (so far).
Year One – The first year was the toughest. I physically moved away from Hollywood and purged myself of all the people and possessions that once adorned my world. I had to completely detox my body, mind, heart and spirit of any interfering frequencies that could trigger a relapse – not just in my addiction, but also in my identity. I was so closely intertwined with the label ‘wild party guy’ that it became a part of my fabric. A badge of honor if you will. Not only did I live up to it, on most nights I surpassed it. This was the year of accepting my truth and trying to understand the operating system within in me. I had to get curious about my problem and explore why I am the way I am. I had to dismantle the mechanics and get to the root causes, this was the only way I could get started on formulating a solution. It was a very complex time for me because had to break myself down in order to build myself back up. In this fractured state I had no idea who I was and what I represent in the world. There was nothing and no one to root my identity in. I closed myself off which meant there were no friends or distractions, I was my only source of companionship. The discomfort in this process came from forced confinement with a stranger. It was just ‘me’ with me, yet I didn’t even know who the hell ‘me’ was.
Year Two – This was the year I became hyper inquisitive. I started questioning everything and trying to look past and beyond what was right in front of me. This lead to an opening inside of me that became the introduction to self, the authentic me that’s been dormant his whole life. This was an interesting time because the self-induced isolation started to become my state of solitude. The quiet wasn’t just a need, it was a necessity. I often refer to this as the ‘toddler stage’ of my journey. Everything in the world looked new and like I was seeing it for the first time. This is also when I took my first steps into running. Running was, and still is, one of the most expansive tools that I’ve ever stumbled upon. Learning to shift your physicality, break through invisible barriers and transcend thresholds is a way one can access a God state (runners high). You quickly realize the further you go, the higher your frequency ascends. There’s been runs where I feel directly connected to all – God, spirit and nature all working in unison with me and through me. It’s a remarkable experience and a feeling that I still don’t quite know how to properly articulate in words.
Year Three – This was the year of integrating my truth and authenticity into my identity. The year of congruency where my inside world matched my outside experience. This is where the magic really happened. I felt strong, powerful and acquired a new level of self-esteem that I’ve never experienced before. I become so sure of myself and my ability to make self-honoring decisions, which in turn made me feel fully safe and free to trust that gut feeling that we all have access to. For example, I finally got back out there and started dating and quickly discovered the intricacies in the process. There’s a sense of shame in the beginning when your date asks why you don’t drink (I found this to also bleed into friends and family). The more I trusted myself and leaned into my truth, the more comfortable I was to express and celebrate this new virtue. I felt powerful to be able to say “no” when my date would say “yes”. I no longer worried about being seen as that ‘awkward sober dude’ at the party (this was never even a reality, it was just story I concocted in my imagination). No longer believing that I deserved to be put on the discount rack of life, I fully invested in my decision to become the best version of myself and would not negotiate the price of my new worth. Whenever someone would make fun of me or belittle my choices and beliefs, I simply tallied it up as “they can’t afford me”. – My prayer is that everyone invests in finding this intrinsic commodity inside of themselves because the R.O.I is something that money can’t buy… compounding self-worth and internal freedom.
Year Four – Here we are, the year of alignment. This is the year that I fully turned my deficit into a superpower. My ability to stand firm in my belief and exploit my truth in the service of myself and others. I am proof that change is available and accessible if you’re ready for it. I’m my own Post-It note on the mirror, the reminder that everyday is a new opportunity for growth, and that I am worth it. This thing, this addiction, this proclivity to self-destruction is no longer my identity. I had to shape-shift this hole inside of me and turn it into an access point for love and compassion. A space for grace to carry me when I feel defeated. It took everything that I was to become everything that I am. And although I couldn’t see it at the time, I can see so clearly now that my journey was designed for me because something beyond me knew I was strong enough to make it to the other side.
In conclusion, I would not change any event that put me in the now. This present version of me is the dream version of me that I continue to tirelessly work on, mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. I no longer choose to suppress and numb myself from my internal world of feelings, emotions, traumas, flaws, inadequacies and so on. I decided to channel all of the energy it took for me to hide the internal me and express it in a way that illuminates my heart from the inside out. I had to remap the feeling of lack and turn it into one of abundance. I changed my story from “poor me” to “look how rich I am”, and I’m not taking about money. And to sum it all up, if someone was to ask me what changed when I decided to get sober, the answer is…. EVERYTHING.
Thank you God, thank you Universe and thank you ‘Me’ for loving me unconditionally and believing in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself.
I’m really excited to finally re-open the SS/POSTER CLUB™ and start releasing original, open edition prints again. Some of you guys have been collecting my prints and posters for over a decade and it’s a beautiful thing to continuously build this community with you. From art to heart, together we’re creating a connection that I hope can last a lifetime.
When I think of church and my relationship with it, I think of a connection that is beyond any sensory experience. I feel directly tapped in to an energy that is exemplified by a collective of individuals who are all working in unison to elevate the ultimate spiritual output, love. I feel safe, I feel vulnerable, I feel ready and willing to receive the gift of words and the pictures they paint in my mind and heart as I sit or stand and listen to them in the rhythm of song or cadence of articulated speech. I feel connected to the unseen yet the ever present. I can feel the creator holding my spirit as my mom carefully cradles my heart. There’s always something magical that transpires when I walk through the doors of that big white building on the corner of Hollywood and La Brea. Some mornings I walk in with my head held low and yet I always seem to walk out with it held high.
Church has been one of the hubs of love for me over the last eight months and it was almost instinctual for me find my way to Mosaic when my mom passed. Although my spiritual journey has been, and still is, a very personal one, pastor Erwin’s words was like a light shining into the darkness within me during the transitionary phase of my life. I like to think of it as my rebirth into the me that I always dreamed of becoming. The new and improved Danny 2.0 that lives abundantly through is heart rather than through all of his insecurities and deficits. During the pandemic, I would spend Sundays with my mom listening to pastor Erwin’s messages via live-stream. We would sit at the table and drink coffee and then have a conversation about the message we just heard. One day my mom looked over at me in such a tender way that I don’t think she ever looked at me before. She was filled with joy that her son who never really knew God, finally took his hand. My mom would always pray for me to find my way home to the Creator, and when I did, she rejoiced. My moms relationship with God was ironclad. It was impenetrable and no matter what life threw at her, she always knew there was something bigger that loved her unconditionally. It was a truly beautiful thing to witness. When I went through my moms bibles and journals, there were so many hand written notes to God. She would tell him all the time how much she loved him and how she doesn’t feel alone in the fight of life.
To me church isn’t a space, a building or even a group of people. It’s a feeling I get and a vivid reminder of my mom. It’s an internal experience and a connection to a narrator who is merely using their skillset of language to interpret complex messages and disperse them in a impactful yet simplistic way. These messages are transmitted from the source above and sent directly to the heart behind the podium. What a gift. Sometimes I wonder if God was to talk to me, I mean really sit me down and have a conversation with me using common language, would I even be able to understand him? I don’t know if I’m that advanced, which leads me to believe that’s why the Creator shows me his love through actions. When I want to stop, something keep pushes me forward. When I feel like life is against me, something clears a path to a new perspective or opportunity. When I feel useless, something shows me reminders of all that I’ve done, which reinvigorates my fire for all that I’m going to do. When I feel unworthy of being loved, something enters my heart and tells me I’m loved beyond comprehension. When I feel low and alone, something moves the clouds and allows me to feel the warmth of the sun. How can I ever be alone or unloved when there’s something working within me, through me, and for me – every day and in every way.
I feel like I just need to express this here – my relationship with God, Creator, Universe, whatever you wish to call it, is my own. Everyone has their thing and I honor that. I will never try to sell you on religion. I also don’t think that you need to go to church to be a “good Christian” or have a spiritual relationship. To me church is a place people go when they are seeking something (love, connection, fulfillment, acknowledgment, forgiveness, community, etc) they’re lacking in their life. Church is a physical space, and it’s a beautiful one at that. It serves a wonderful purpose and offers so much to those who seek it. But to me, and from what I’ve experienced on my own spiritual journey is this – the true access point to be in the presence of the Higher Power is through your heart. You don’t have to go outside to dance with God, you dance with him within you.