Category Archives: Personal Growth

Greetings From The Burbs of West Houston

Howdy!

Happy Cinco D Mayo from the Burbs of Houston.

Today is a wonderful day for me and cause for celebration. My eyes opened yesterday and after three decades of believing my time on this earth was to be short, I realized that perhaps all the doctors have been wrong.

This epiphany came out in a counseling session at Montrose Center yesterday as I bared it all. I have had three doctors tell me, at different times, that I had three for five years to live, get my affairs in order. I began to die in the eighties and forgot how to live.

The disease is HIV and I am a long term survivor,. I’m not alone in this and it’s an interesting road to travel. I am not ashamed nor am I afraid as I was in the eighties. I am not dirty, in fact I am quite healthy.

I made personal and financial decisions in the eighties, based on the limited knowledge of the medical community at the time, on what to do with present and future assets. As I look back and see where the residuals and royalties went, I can say that I have no regrets but it’s my turn now.

My last no hope diagnosis was when I had the heart attack and stroke in 2008 after my mother passed away. Guess what, I recovered from that also.
Now, I am accepting that I probably have a long life to live and it’s to live that life instead of feeling like I am facing the grim reaper every day.

It’s great to feel alive again and see the sun come up with all the beautiful colors and feeling the blessings of love, friendship and nature that engulf me right now.

Blessings to each of you today and to my partner in this journey called life,Jody Turner.

 

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Hourly Rates Verses Set Price

Why hourly rates don’t pay…at least not what you’re worth anyway! Reply to each point based on your experiences. I’ll post each new point in its own post. #1 Because you’re chronic overachievers and over-deliverers, you’re almost guaranteeing you’ll be underpaid for your work because you’ll work well beyond the agreed upon time to get it right. Am I right or am I right?!
#1 is spot on with me! I am a dyed in the wool perfectionist and the hours I put in preparing for that twenty minutes of fame on the stage amount to about 4 to 6 months of my valuable time. There is also the communication with the Maestro, first chairs in the orchestras and such where I put out my interpretation of the piece I am performing. All that for 175 dollars became a drudge to me and led to economic and personal frustrations. I began to feel that what I do was not valued.
To make a difference, I did a time management study based on my professional rate elsewhere and came up with this conclusion. To charge less than 50 thousand for that single performance was cash raping me and keeping my mind on other things such as where my next meal was coming from. .
I could not fathom this price structure as a young artist. It seemed outlandish to me at the time. Is what I do really worth that? Why am I always struggling with putting food on my table and in my belly? I really like good food and great wine pairings and yet I am existing on beer and pork skins.
I had to change my way of thinking about myself and the value I bring to the negotiating table. What I found out about myself amazed me to no end! I was worth something and the highly developed skills meant I no longer had to do the name dropping game, I could talk about myself and how I developed my skills by stepping outside the box and going for broke.
There is nothing wrong with challenging traditions and set ways of doing things and that is exactly how I have been living my life! I just had to see it to believe it.
When I took the lead and put out a set price, the inquiries and bookings started to happen again. I learned to be upfront and honest with myself and market what is special in my life. I changed some approaches also in that I was handpicked to study and work with some of the who’s who of American and International music. What a powerful attribute to bring to the table! That makes me a rare commodity in today’s world and I am marketing myself with that attitude and yet remaining humble is no longer a challenge. Being humble does not amount to humiliation and now I feel better about myself and the products I produce.

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The Audacious Life

Are you ready to push your personal and professional boundaries? Is it time to move forward for you?

Calling all Leaders, Entrepreneurs, Influencers, Visionaries and Destiny Seekers! Join me this April and experience one of the BOLDEST events of your life, The Audacious Life 2016™.

My team of experts and I will optimize AUDACITY in every area of your life and transform the way you think about Worship, Wellness, Worth and Work. Our two and half-day journey together will result in greater profit spiritually, physically and professionally. If you are on a quest to uncover your unique identity in Christ and become the spiritual and professional giant God has called you to be, then this event is for you!

Trust me, you don’t want to miss it!

Join us here in Houston with International Performing Artist, Jade Simmons on this fantastic journey to self realization and a dramatic life.

GROW BIGGER FAITH. MAKE A BIGGER IMPACT. UNLEASH MOMENTUM SPIRITUALLY, EMOTIONALLY, PHYSICALLY AND PROFESSIONALLY!

The Audacious Life 2016™ will be an immersive and invaluable experience taking place over two and a half action-packed days in Houston, Texas. Experience multiple dynamic, content-jammed sessions with Jade designed to push you to greater levels of profitable audacity. Add to that powerful plenary sessions from Jade’s team of Audacious Living Experts and out-of-this-world praise and worship.  Make sure you’re signed up to get more details on our amazing speakers and their unique sessions.”

Jade

“Pianist with a Purpose, Revolutionary with a Cause. Emergence Expert & creator of innovative performances that matter.” Experience more: www.jadesimmons.com

Being Mischevious
It’s Time

Jere Douglas, Founder of the Parlor Project, is the premier Arts Experiences Curator. He empowers us to see and live life as an art form! Through the Parlor Project, he connects professional artists and musicians to rabid professional arts lovers, their organic fan-base. As the Man in the Penguin Suit, Jere curates multi-sensory artistic experiences that challenge staid traditions in the arts and antiquated concepts in arts presentation. In a powerful combination of access, interaction and adventure the Parlor Project puts a human face to the marvelous sounds that people hear and provides an opportunity for its members to explore their creativity in all aspects of life.

Dealing With Perfectionism

I am sharing this today from my memoirs coming from my excellent past into my glorious present with the empowerment that if you have a dream, you can achieve it through work, dedication and perseverance! Mr. Robert Marcellus was the premier clarinetist in the world for a long space of time and someone that we young clarinetists based our abilities on. I believed that studying and working with him was not attainable and only a pipe dream for most of my young life. However, I finally took the chance with the obligatory lesson with this great master and was immediately embraced into his very interesting world.
From a young man, full of self-doubt and not thinking highly of my abilities, I achieved this part of my dream and treasure the time I spent with him and his wife.
Mr. Robert Marcellus or Dr. Bob

Continue reading Dealing With Perfectionism

Bipolar A Discussion

I get a kick out of some things, laugh at others and some make me downright angry.
In 1983, is was made aware that I could possibly have a condition known as Bi Polar. I had no clue what that was at the time but I have learned. I have also learned how to control it so it does not control me. Statistics say that today there are over 10 million in the United States alone that deal with this condition, some quite successfully and some not. It’s important to have a conversation about this and be aware.
From the American Psychological Association: Bipolar: Environmental factors – abuse, mental stress, a “significant loss”, or some other traumatic event may contribute towards bipolar disorder risk. Traumatic events may include the death of a loved one, losing your job, the birth of a child, or moving house. Experts say many things, if the variables are right, can trigger bipolar disorder in some people. They add that we all react differently to environmental factors. However, once bipolar disorder is triggered and starts to progress, it appears to take on a life and force of its own.
Mine came from being in a bizarre family situation growing up, the product of divorced parents and having to deal with the absurd behaviors and stuck in the middle of the fights. As I said in an earlier post here that I hid behind the horn and the organ and expressed my emotions that way. I was actually a very shy child.
Recently, I checked into the DeBakey Veterans Hospital here in Houston for a kidney infection. In Triage, I was given a full dose of Morphine and another full dose of Dilaudid for pain. That sent my blood pressure into the bargain basement and put me in danger of saying goodbye to this world. That’s what happens with interns in a trauma environment where qualified professionals are needed most.
The next day, I met the lead care team and was pounded with a lot of questions concerning my medical history and such. All of this is available through the computerized records there. I did not know that this team had called for a psychological evaluation done on me that day. This is what happened and the notes from my final discharge from that facility.
The Psych evaluation on final discharge from the VA in Houston states that as an artist, I am delusional and well, that’s why I do not like parts of the VA.
The myopic vision along with draconian perspectives of the Mental Health clinic is absurd. Their banal existence in a cubicle about as small as their mind is astounding.
The funniest thing, on a VA document that I have seen lately, is the comment about my “writing movements”. Lol. That invalidates the comment and the document.
I feel it is time to up the ante on Health Care in the United States and recognize the subjective side of the Psychological team and how that can be improved.
Bipolar is a discussion we need to have and make it productive.

The Man In The Penguin Suit

A small introduction to this series. This is my life story about growing up with divorced parents in the fifties and dealing with being a prodigy. I hope you enjoy this as much as I enjoy telling it.

The Man in the Penguin Suit is about my life as a back up and pit musician for various on and off Broadway shows and as a freelance recording and performing artist.

This story is also being published here.

Jere

Jere Fingers 1
OH, this is where the fingers go!

Act One, Scene One

I was born in a small town in Tennessee. My mother said that when I was born there was a football game and the band was playing. She also said that the football team had just scored a touchdown and the band was playing the fight song. What an interesting way to be born! Word filtered out over the City that Margaret DeShong had a new grandbaby and life changed.

Mama and daddy took off in another couple during their junior year in high school to Corinth Mississippi to get married. Imagine that! Well things heated up and they happen to not tell anybody they were married until mother started showing with me. I think she might’ve had morning sickness or something when they finally had let the cat out of the bag and boy did life change then.

Well I began life as a product of two people much too young to be married and least of all children. My parents had just graduated from high school and were separated when I was born. I began my life in the court systems of Gibson County, Tennessee. People have asked me how later in life I knew so much about the legal system in the United States. The answer lies in my being in an out-of-court fortitude for two decades and dealing with attorneys along with men in black robes. By the time I was a teenager I knew the ins and outs of every courtroom in Gibson County and West Tennessee. Here’s an interesting way to grow up and back then,in the 50’s, it was unusual to have a single mother.

When I was five years old my mother had another child, a brother whom I’ve never met but perchance might someday. It’s ironic that my mother was also adopted and raised by two loving parents who also embraced me. Seeing that my brother was not particularly welcome at the time and living in a small town, we had to move. That move took us to Memphis Tennessee where we lived in East Memphis not far from Second Presbyterian Church where I grew up. Growing up Presbyterian was kind of interesting as that is where I also went to school at Presbyterian Day school. There isn’t much I don’t know about the Presbyterian Church or the system of government in the church and that’s something I’m quite proud of. I was also fascinated by Mrs. Robertson playing the organ every Sunday. To me it was humongous and I started taking piano lessons at the Berl Olswanger studio in Memphis. I was also exposed to a wonderful choir and talented musicians of the Memphis Symphony, some of which attended church there and my love of music was ingrained for life.

I really enjoyed my first year of piano learning the notes learning the sounds and playing by ear. I used to dream even at that young age of playing at Carnegie Hall one day. My grandparents bought me an upright piano and it was placed in the living room far far away. Our house on Goodlett was gigantic to me and it even had a maid’s quarters in the back. This was in that timeframe of the 50s and 60s, the time of the civil rights movements across the United States. Yes I was raised by Willie Mae and her sister. Have a lot of fond memories of them. My grandmother was involved in the bridge club and my mother was a working single mom. My grandfather was a traveling shoe salesman and was gone a lot during the week. So my practice time was in the afternoon playtime lasted about 45 minutes when dinner began and time for studies. Life seemed grand to me for a while.

As I grew older, about seven or eight years old, I began to wonder why I didn’t have a father around all the time and started questioning my mother about why daddy does live with us. I could not understand why he was in Memphis in college and I went to see him at the Sigma Chi house all the time. Every other kid I was in school with, their mother and father lived together so why don’t y’all? That’s when I first begin to realize that things were a bit different and I had to adjust. I did have some of the kids picking on me at school asking where my father was as it was unusual to them for me not to have a father. I took it to heart and began to delve into the music more along with the books. Music became my escape, my safety zone, my safety net. Practicing took me away from the realities I did not want to face.

It’s very interesting to me that later in life when I became a professional musician at the age of 11 there was something inside me that wanted to come out and I spoke to the music but it was vocal, organ, piano and later on clarinet. Thanks to the work of Ms. Turner, I became the youngest member of the chancel choir at Second Presbyterian Church when I was in the seventh grade. And thus began another aspect of my life.
I was quite happy singing in the choir as it was a dream come true for me. There I was in the chancel area, on stage, and I could watch Mrs. Robertson play the organ.

About a year later, I could finally reach the pedals on that wonderful instrument and I began to play the organ. I had already been playing Bach on the piano and after the Stainer book on organ technique, I graduated the Bach chorales, figured bass, and that unique collection of organ works by Bach. I thought this is fantastic! About that time, during the ninth grade, there are some problems at home and I decided I wanted to see what it was like living my father and he had just become married again. It was an easy making the change in fact it was a fight between me, my father, my mother, attorneys and the judge. Interesting memories and feelings from that time.

One good thing that happened with move and back and forth was I picked up the clarinet, sax and flute. My first teacher was a gentleman named Mr. Robert Hodge. He was the band director for the junior high he came across during the time of integration. He is a wonderful man and an interesting person very dedicated to his craft and come to find out was a jazz artist! More about that later…

I was back and forth during that ninth grade year in school, between Memphis and Milan as it was different to me actually living with my father. I knew my parents loved me in some way and I expected the same thing I saw with my friends and their parents. However it wasn’t that way and I did not understand why. Was I not good enough? Was I a bad kid? What am I doing wrong? All questions of a young teenager.

I sometimes feel I grew up before my time as I was always hanging out with adults and felt uncomfortable with the kids. I spent a lot of time practicing the organ and the clarinet also reading. I began to collect books, kinds of them. I liked biographies, world history, Civil War history, American revolutionary war history and the occasional lower book. I dated a lot, became engaged, dated long-distance, and still the music. My grandmother Douglas, better-known as Mimi, purchased a Thomas organ for me, the Lawrence Welk Deluxe like Bob Ralston played on the show. I was adamant practicing the organ and piano along with playing with Mrs. Foster at the nursing home. She could not read a note of music but boy can she play at the age of 80. We put a lot of duets together and even got a picture in the paper! Seem like fun times of going to school, working, going to the lake and living life so to speak. There were good days and bad days at the times and sad times and even though daddy and I had our differences there was a bond of some type.

Mother was my party animal in my Auntie Mame. She was a single mother of the 60s and 70s and she were that as a badge of honor. She had a good job, supported herself and me, and like to eat well and party. When I would go see her in Memphis it was always a fun time yet there was an undertone always. It took me a few decades to figure it out as mother events of my life but I did that’s a story for another chapter but suffice it to say I graduated high school with the help of Don Farmer and many nights my nose in the book trying to stay sober.

I began my high school music career playing the organ professionally and clarinet in the band. Mr. Robert Hodge was the jazz band director and boy was he tough! I don’t think any of us realized that he had been around the world seemingly and played with some of the greats that we only dreamed about meeting. I believe it was our junior year when he took a group of us up to meet Count Basie and his orchestra. I remember shaking his hand and him asking Robert if he brought his horn. The Count was a very unique man and I did not realize that our paths would cross again. I have to say that Robert, even though he was tough, was very thorough and made sure we knew all her parts and how to read jazz rhythms and jazz licks. He turned out a kick ass band!
I didn’t find out until years later when I was playing with Ray Charles and it came to Georgia my mind. You probably know that song, is one of his most famous. Well, I was in Memphis playing lead clarinet for a pickup orchestra job during Memphis in May with Ray. The rehearsal was that morning and when they came in he sat down piano and started playing. After he got his fingers warmed up and started rehearsal, it got to the song Georgia and well I started playing the clarinet. I wasn’t nervous and I played the best I could. He stopped the orchestra, looked my direction and said “That’s got to be a black clarinet player!” I responded, “No Sir, Mr. Charles. I am white but my first teacher was Robert Hodge!” His response, and I quote “Count Basie’s lead tenor!” Yes Sir! That was an eye-opening experience for me as I could not believe this connection it may just from my sound after Mr. Hodge being so difficult so hard on us. Looking back I learned a lesson there, never take anyone for granted as you never know their history unless you ask and they want to share.
I have to say that growing up between a major metropolitan area and a small town was quite an adventure. I actually had two sets of friends, one set I was around a lot and another set I knew on the fourth weekend of the month and six weeks in the summer. One of the aspects of growing up this way has given me itchy feet and letting the grass grow under my feet for too long makes me anxious to be someplace else a lot of the time. The results of this will be explored throughout this tome of my life’s adventures. Some say I have never met a stranger. Well, that holds true because I am usually the first to say Hello to anyone and carry on some type of conversation.
Grab a cup of coffee and let’s chat for a bit!

Breathing, Letting Go, Accepting

Greetings this fine Tuesday Morning from the environs of West Houston!
It has been an interesting week here at the Casa with a lot of different things going on. First and foremost is a feeling of relief and addressing the fears I have had for that last six years. My fears have been centered around losing our home in a series of illegal foreclosure proceedings. It’s been a long, tiresome battle with me burning the midnight oil researching different things. I am not an attorney but I do have the ability to use the new card catalogue known as Google to reference and cross reference things. What I found out made my blood boil along the way and I expressed that in mood swings from hades.
I had just about given up on the legal profession in Houston until this week. Things are now on a progressive schedule to be dealt with once and for all. My main concern is the damage done to my credit report which is heinous right now. That also shall be fixed. For those that don’t know, that report is also used in background checks for various jobs and positions. So, I have felt stymied here in Houston for the last six years in the job and working aspects. It’s been quite frustrating for me.
Now, I feel I can get on with my life as these things fall into place.
I am looking forward to a special outing on the fifth of February with some new friends to hear some great Brazilian Jazz here in Houston. That will be a fun evening for me.
Jody is recovering after the visit to a fabulous emergency clinic in our “hood”. Excellent care, congenial staff and modern technology to the max!
Jody did ask me if the past six years, all the stress and the labor, was worth it on this lawsuit. I believe it is worth it. I’m a fighter and I don’t give up easily, especially if I feel I have been wronged.
Thank all of you for bearing with me and letting me dump at times. Hopefully life will get better and soon!
Peace, Out!
Jere

Healthy Boundaries

According to the book Boundaries and Relationships by Charles Whitfield, M.D., healthy boundaries are NOT:
Set for us by others
Hurtful or harmful
Controlling or manipulative
Invasive or dominating
Rigid and immovable

Healthy boundaries ARE:
present
appropriate
clear
firm
protective
flexible
receptive.
determined by US
How to Develop Boundaries

An important first step in developing healthy boundaries is to get acquainted with, and take ownership, of your true self. This is essential before healthy boundaries can be set and maintained. As adults, we are responsible for the decisions we make in life. We have freedom to respond, to make choices, and to limit the way others’ behavior affects us. As a “free agent”, we can take responsibility for our freedom by setting boundaries, or borders, between ourselves and those around us. Some people refuse to set boundaries because they see them as selfish. Others actually use them to be selfish. Both are wrong. Boundaries are about self-control.

According to the authors, John Townsend and Henry Cloud, there are ten laws of boundaries:

The Law of Sowing and Reaping – Actions have consequences. If someone in your life is sowing anger, selfishness, and abuse at you, are you setting boundaries against it? Or are they getting away with not reaping (or paying the consequences for) what he/she sowed?

The Law of Responsibility – We are responsible TO each other, not FOR each other. This law means that each person refuses to rescue or enable another’s immature behavior.

The Law of Power – We have power over some things, we don’t have power over others (including changing people). It is human nature to try to change and fix others so that we can be more comfortable. We can’t change or fix anyone – but we do have the power to change our own life.

The Law of Respect – If we wish for others to respect our boundaries, we need to respect theirs. If someone in your life is a rager, you should not dictate to him/her all the reasons that they can’t be angry. A person should have the freedom to protest the things they don’t like. But at the same time, we can honor our own boundary by telling them, “Your raging at me is not acceptable to me. If you continue to rage, I will have to remove myself from you.”

The Law of Motivation – We must be free to say “no” before we can wholeheartedly say “yes”. One cannot actually love another if he feels he doesn’t have a choice not to. Pay attention to your motives.

The Law of Evaluation – We need to evaluate the pain our boundaries cause others. Do our boundaries cause pain that leads to injury? Or do they cause pain that leads to growth?

The Law of Proactivity – We take action to solve problems based on our values, wants, and needs. Proactive people keep their freedom and they disagree and confront issues but are able to do so without getting caught up in an emotional storm. This law has to do with taking action based on deliberate, thought-out values versus emotional reactions.

The Law of Envy – We will never get what we want if we focus our boundaries onto what others have. Envy is miserable because we’re dissatisfied with our state yet powerless to change it. The envious person doesn’t set limits because he is not looking at himself long enough to figure out what choices he has.

The Law of Activity – We need to take the initiative to solve our problems rather than being passive. In a dysfunctional relationship, sometimes one person is active and the other is passive. When this occurs, the active person will dominate the passive one. The passive person may be too intimidated by the active one to say no. This law has to do with taking initiative rather than being passive and waiting for someone else to make the first move.

The Law of Exposure – We need to communicate our boundaries. A boundary that is not communicated is a boundary that is not working. We need to make clear what we do or do not want, and what we will or will not tolerate. We need to also make clear that every boundary violation has a consequence. A boundary without a consequence is nagging.
Putting It All Together

Untreated individuals with personality disorders are dependent on the compliance of others. They resist boundaries in an effort to control, manipulate, and dominate. Non’s sometimes use boundaries in an effort to control, manipulate, and dominate too. For example, we might be tempted to tell someone “You can NOT rage at me”, or “You can NOT say cruel things to me.” These aren’t examples of boundaries, these are examples of a Non’s effort to control someone else’s behavior. A healthy boundary is, “When you rage at me, I feel threatened. I am going to leave (the room, the house, etc.) until such time we can communicate calmly.” The other person is free to rage to his/her heart’s content, but you don’t have to sit there and absorb all their anger and rage. If you are saying to yourself, “Why should I have to leave the room? They should have to stop raging!”, you are looking at boundaries backwards. You are taking the same approach as one would take who says, “Oh no, my house is on fire and is engulfed in flames. I’m standing at the front door but I’m not going to leave the house because my new sprinkling system will turn on an put out the flames.” Are you waiting for someone or something else to make a move so you don’t have to? Are you willing to take a chance of getting burned? Don’t do it.

Boundaries are all around us. We come across them every day. Cars have theft-deterrent devices to prevent someone from stealing your car. Homes have deadbolts or locks to prevent someone else from invading your home and removing your possessions. Your office desk has a lock to prevent theft. Your locker at the club has a lock to keep your valuables safe. If your personal property is protected against theft, but you find yourself feeling like your emotional well-being is being stolen from you, then it’s time to take steps to learn how to set boundaries so that your emotional well-being can be kept under lock and key.

Think about it. We go to a lot of effort and spend a lot of money to protect our material possessions – yet we often do little to protect ourselves. Aren’t you worth more than all of your possessions?

In order for boundaries to be effective, you need to approach it with the right mindset. Recognize that you must take personal responsibility for your own well-being.

Whether you end up staying in close relationship or not, learning how to set healthy boundaries is one of the very best things you can do to ensure that you don’t end up in a dysfunctional dance again with someone else.

Lose attachment to expectations and outcomes. Don’t sound or be needy. Be happy on my own and with or without sex. Be happy with myself. Become detached from the outcome. Who am I? Do I need this? I am responsible for my feelings and emotions and no one else’s.
Be happy on your own.

Abusive relationships produce a great amount on unhealthy investment in both parties. In many cases we tend to remain and support the abusive relationship due to our investment in the relationship. Try telling a new Marine that since he or she has survived boot camp, they should now enroll in the National Guard! Several types of investments keep us in the bad relationship:

Emotional Investment – We’ve invested so many emotions, cried so much, and worried so much that we feel we must see the relationship through to the finish.
Social Investment – We’ve got our pride! To avoid social embarrassment and uncomfortable social situations, we remain in the relationship.
Family Investments – If children are present in the relationship, decisions regarding the relationship are clouded by the status and needs of the children.
Financial Investment – In many cases, the controlling and abusive partner has created a complex financial situation. Many victims remain in a bad relationship, waiting for a better financial situation to develop that would make their departure and detachment easier.
Lifestyle Investment – Many controlling/abusive partners use money or a lifestyle as an investment. Victims in this situation may not want to lose their current lifestyle.
Intimacy Investment – We often invest emotional and sexual intimacy. Some victims have experienced a destruction of their emotional and/or sexual self-esteem in the unhealthy relationship. The abusing partner may threaten to spread rumors or tell intimate details or secrets. A type of blackmail using intimacy is often found in these situations.