Saturday, April 11, 2020

Happy Easter Pandemic

Well......I have had a lot of requests for writing my blog,
and you would think with everything going on I would have a LOT to write about.
But, I have just kind been doing what everyone has been doing....quietly freaking out :)
Seriously, I usually find something to base my entry on here: a spiritual principle, an ethical Idea,
etc.....but I have just been trying to get through each day and not go crazy.

Of course there is always an upside. I left for Europe on March 4th to do 30 dates
with my band. Today would have been our last show of the tour in Sheffield, UK.
It's hard to even imagine now that I would have been gone from my home and family for all
of that time, but I do it a lot and I am used to the routine. The routine of living on the road
most of the time and get short reprieves at home with my loved ones.
The upside is that I have spent the past 4 weeks at my house with my family.
We have not had this much time together.....ever.
I came home on Sunday March 15th - approximately 4 weeks ago tomorrow.
I spent the first two weeks in self quarantine in my backyard studio apartment. I was never sick
but we were in Germany and around enough people that coming home the CDC told us we needed to do the quarantine. We made the most of the isolation by writing 10 new songs and recording them with my band members who were also each in quarantine at their homes. This was a challenge.
Each musician recorded their parts separately and sent them to me via Dropbox where I put them all together and mixed the music. In the end we made a free download recording and in return
our Gofundme Campaign helped pay the band and myself for losing 3 months work.
WOW - we are still humbled and overwhelmed with gratitude.

So - I have been sincerely fortunate with this time and I do not take it lightly.
We pray everyday for those that are sick and suffering as this virus is very real and the threat
is as well. I try not to argue much on social media, but I get tired of the conspiracy bullshit.
I'll try harder today.....progress, not perfection :)

Another very strong upside to this downtime has been my recovery.
Meetings have all taken to Zoom and I have been enjoying meetings almost everyday
the past 4 weeks. When I am on the road I rarely get to enjoy a meeting as we are always on the go.
If I am home for 10 days between tours, I might get to go to one or two.
But with all of this time on our hands, we are meeting everyday and it's been really wonderful.
I am hopeful that most of us will have time to reflect and be grateful for this amazing life we have been given.
We have meals on the patio outside. We watch the birds in the yard every morning.
Playing games with the girls, walking the dogs and exercising has become daily events now.
I have to be honest....I could get use to this.
It will be hard to climb into the van again and leave for weeks on end when this is all over.
I will do it because that is what I do. I miss playing loud guitar and sweating with everyone
at the club. I miss the band and all of the "van talk" on the road.
But....I think I will not take for granted the things I cherish so much.

I am a little all over the place here...but thats where I am at......all over the place.
I hope I see you soon and we enjoy some time and music together.
For now I will continue to share online and enjoy my family.
PLEASE hang in there and stay home. I know it seems crazy and it's tough financially
but we will all get through this time and come out stronger than before.

God bless and Happy Easter!

Peace, Love, Zito

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The grass is always greener.....

Interesting topic last night at my group of friends.
One I could certainly relate to, as I am certain most folks can.
The idea of never being satisfied.
This notion of never having the best or enough of the best isn't merely an alcoholic or addict's
problem, it is a human condition. We live day in, day out, not knowing when we will leave this
existence and we get pleasure from enjoying the material world. We know it's not the solution,
and we try and put it away, but truth be told, the material world does ease the pain of suffering
to a certain extent. It does not solve the problem though....and it's easy to get caught up in the
idea that more will make me feel better. The difference between the obvious issues being a human
is that my mind (the addict/alcoholic mind) is I suffer from Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder.
I've spent a lot of time in my mind dreaming of something new, better, the best.
"When I get the new one, everything will be better!"
So, if it's just a new guitar, thats not the end of the world. If it's a new wife, partner, woman -
that can be troublesome. If I need one more hit or one more drink, I am really in the deep end of the pool. The idea that I need one more is a farce. I do not. I WANT one more.....absolutely.
The "wanting" is part of my suffering. It is my condition and most folks can relate.
I have learned, through extensive study, that getting what I want does not make life any better.

I've dealt with the "wanting" almost all of my life. As a child I had a deep desire for more.
When I became an adolescent I turned to theft as a means of getting what I wanted.
That thievery carried into my young adult life and became a very common practice when I
became a full time junky. The ultimate obsession for me is "wanting" one more hit....one more drink.
Thinking that would solve all of my problems. But it never did, it just lead to a stronger desire for more...now...again...more.

What I have learned over my 16 plus years of sobriety is that "this too shall pass".
When I want something, I just wait and it will go away. Take my time. Give myself a break.
It's ok to want or desire material things, although knowing they will not make me completely happy,
but the wanting is just part of this life. The more I can control the wanting and use it to my
advantage, the better I feel about myself.
It is ok to "want" things, to dream and to enjoy the thoughtful process, but not all the time.
I have work to do and a life to live and responsibilities.

I try and make myself a gratitude list, almost daily in my head, but sometimes on a sheet of paper.
That will usually put things into perspective.

My best understanding is to want what I already have, and for me life is complete.
Gratitude Is an action work and it takes daily effort to be grateful.
When I am feeling very envious, it is time to get out of myself and do for others through service work. It is almost impossible to be feel selfish and self centered when I am helping others.

Today I am grateful. The grass is never greener than it is right in front of me.
I have everything I need today and then some.

Peace, Love, Zito.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Time to make a change

It's always time to make a change.
But....nothing changes if nothing changes :)
Change takes time and commitment. It takes effort and action and a stepping off point.
In my life I have had very specific times when I decided to make a change.
But it did not happen overnight, I began thinking of the idea of changing.
I considered what it would take to make this change.....and then I sat around doing nothing!
But the idea and the seed were planted. I started to really want to change, but didn't know if I could or
if I had enough strength to go through with it, depending on what the issue was at hand.
Most of the issues with not changing were of course, mental, not physical.
I wasn't like I wanted to escape an actual prison and I wasn't sure if I could get out of the building
without getting caught or climb the walls, it was more about having the mental strength to
stop doing the same thing and try something new and stay consistent.
Consistency, that is the key to change. It takes a lot to make a big change in one's life.
Like, quitting smoking or losing weight or to stop drinking alcohol.
None of these things are easy, but they can be done with the right mental state and support.
The idea is to take it slow but definitely begin to take steps.

I have had success with change in my life, but it was not easy nor a quick fix. It took time and
it was a process, always.  Most recently I lost about 25 pounds. I had gained weight over the years
a few pounds at a time and it finally got to a point where I was pretty much not happy with myself.
I weighed about 205 pounds and my clothes were tight and I looked like I had 5 chins in every photo
they took of me playing my guitar! I had not really tried anything, but sometimes I would stop eating sugar or sweets. Sometimes I would only eat meat and no carbs. Sometimes I would go to the gym and workout a little......but none of it was a full commitment and not for long periods of time.
Finally at the end of this summer I came home and told my wife I had had enough. I wanted to lose weight and I made a decision to start. I began eating much less food than I was accustomed to, and I start working out regularly. It took about 3 months of work, but I lost about 25 pounds and really made a change for the better. Sure, I had gained a few back here and there, but I really learned what to eat and how to eat and just understanding that I was eating way too much food for one person.
With consistency and effort, it has paid off and I feel much better about myself. I only look like I have 3 chins now in photos and thats a good thing!

I use this as an example because people can relate. If I want to make a change, I have to at some point commit. I am also beginning to realize that I am getting older and life is getting shorter and I don't have time to mess around much more. If I am going to do something, I better get busy.
Which brings me to change in my life that is spiritual.
I don't have time to waste around people that are not happy and hell bent on poisoning the well.
They have to go! I like being happy and having fun and enjoying myself, and I am able to do that without the help of any other human. My spiritual life brings me such joy, I want to share it with those around me, but sometimes they are not so interested in the joy. Some folks love to be miserable.
They live for it, literally! I say it's time for a change. Why let people suck your energy and bring you down to their level of misery? Life is too damn short.

I also say it's time to put forth more effort to love in 2020.
I try to love with all of me, but I think I can do better, we all can. I am still selfish and self-centered,
and would like to think of others more than myself.  When I help others and give of my time,
I get so much more in return.

It's the end of the year, it's winding down and a brand new one we have never seen before is right in
front of us - I am thinking of taking some steps and making some more changes for the better.
Or....maybe I will just lay around and watch tv.....we'll see!!

Peace, Love...Zito

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Thanks Giving

Well....it's Thanksgiving tomorrow. WOW, this year has gone by very fast.
Christmas is around the corner and I can't seem to get things to slow down.
I have nothing to complain about, thats for sure. My life is a gift and I keep
trying to be grateful and thankful and give my time to loved ones.
I do realize that Time is what matters most. Making money helps make life easier,
but ultimately it does not equal time. 
My father worked all his life and we never really had much money.
He worked 40-50 hours a week and went out with friends on the weekends.
He was older when I was born and he was tired. I am not complaining, but he just
didn't have the verve to get outside and throw the ball around with me.
He always gave me money instead. I would ask where he was going or what he was doing
and he would reach into his pocket and give me $5. All of my siblings were older and out of the house by then, so it was just me and my Mom and Dad. They both grew up very poor
so him giving me $5 was a big deal in his eyes. I always took the money of course,
and usually ran straight to the neighborhood K-Mart and bought a record.

I find myself now older and with all of the kids around at varying ages and I have provided
for them financially as best I can. They have what they need and none want for much,
thats a good feeling. But, I want to spend more time with them, Especially the older children who I did not get to spend as much time with when they were younger because I was working
so much more then. My Father did the same thing when he was retired and had more time.
He would call me and invite me over to watch tv or come see him, but I was always too busy then.
My older kids are getting too busy themselves now, they have friends and jobs
and they are living their lives. I am happy for them, of course, but now that I have more time
I want to spend time with them and they are usually not available. This is life.
No one has any hard feelings that I am aware of, we all get along wonderfully and stay in contact
pretty regular. It's just life, it moves forward.
If I had a chance to do it over again, I would've spent more time with my Father when he was still alive. I would've listened to his stories more intently and enjoyed being with him and my Mother.
Instead, I was in a hurry to get going in life.

I am lucky to have two younger girls at home and I try my hardest to spend as much
time with them as possible. We play games, go on trips, watch tv and just have fun together.
I realize now that giving of time is much more valuable than giving money.
Of course we need money to survive this world, but I have a choice everyday of how I will
spend my time, and I choose to spend it with my wife and my family when I am home.
I am gone for long periods of time, so when I am home, I try to be HOME.

Thanksgiving to me is about family and friends.
I am thankful for all of the love I have in my life.
I have spent a few when drugs and alcohol cut me off from my loved ones
and I never want to feel that way again,
Today I will do my best to share my time, my valuable time, with loved ones.

"I see my folks, they're getting old
And I watch their bodies change
I know they see the same in me
And it makes us both feel strange
No matter how you tell yourself
It's what we all go through
Those eyes are pretty hard to take
When they're staring' back at you
Scared to run out of time"
Nick of Time
Happy Thanksgiving!
Peace, Love , Zito



Saturday, September 28, 2019

Yonrico Scott





Well....I have been putting this off for a week now and I guess I need to get these emotions moving forward. No need to stay stuck in the sadness with life all around me.

I lost a friend last week, Yonrico Scott.
For those of you who do not know of whom I am speaking, Yonrico was a world famous drummer
who hailed from Detroit. He lived in Atlanta the latter part of his life and travelled the world with many musical giants. He had drummed for Whitney Houston, Ray Charles, Peabo Bryson, Earl Klugh and countless others. I first became aware of Yonrico with the Derek Trucks Band.
I was invited by a bass player friend in St. Louis to come to a show at Cicero's in the West End.
It was the Derek Trucks Band, just a trio at the time, performing on a Tuesday night for maybe
40 people. Everyone was talking about the new young man from Florida and is incredible slide playing, and it was incredible. Todd Smallie was on bass guitar and Yonrico was the drummer,
and man was he drumming. I couldn't believe how much power they had in this trio.
He would yell behind the drums sometimes and was really over the top. Derek was more reserved
so Yonrico really stood out onstage. I kept up with this band for years, seeing them play another time or two with more musicians and on videos and the Eric Clapton Crossroads Festivals.
Yonrico always stood out as a leader and a passionate musician.

Fast forward a few years later and my manager at the time, Rueben Williams, and I were talking about putting a band together with Cyril Neville and Devon Allman. We had met Charlie Wooton who filled the bass player spot wonderfully but still needed a full time drummer.
Thats when Devon called me and told me he had spoken to Yonrico Scott and that Yonrico was interested in joining the band. Thats when I was over the moon for the project.
I was wowed by the idea that I might get to work with that man I saw over a decade ago.
I always loved the idea of being a musician, but I don't think I ever considered myself on that level before and it was inspiring and intimidating at the same time.

I met Yonrico Scott in December of 2011 at Dockside Studios in Maurice, Louisiana.
We were all getting together to record our first Royal Southern Brotherhood album.
I only live a few hours from the studio so I arrived the night before everyone else and was working with our engineer, David Farrell, setting up the studio. We had the drums up, mics up and I was playing some guitar for David to get sounds at the mixing board.
Thats when Yonrico entered my life. He walked in the big room and filled it immediately with his presence and personality. He had the biggest smile on his face and we hugged and said hello.
He asked me what I was just playing and I told him a song I had written for the new album.
He jumped on the drums and said let's go, let's play it. So we began playing this song, just the two of us and David at the mixing board. Within minutes we had the groove and the arrangement feeling so good, David pressed record and we cut that track right there. The song was "Hurts My Heart".
It was so good and powerful, that it is the exact track that is on the album today. The band showed up the next morning and we had already recorded two of the songs that would be on the record.
We just hit it off, right from the start. Like old friends who hadn't seen each other in years.
We laughed and joked and had an instant chemistry - which is not always so for older men.
We make most of our close friendships when we are young, we don't normally go making new close friends in our 40's and 50's.  But there was something about Yonrico, we just clicked from the start and it never stopped.

The Royal Southern Brotherhood was my life for the next 3 plus years and I spent a LOT of time with the band and Yonrico. We became very close touring the world. It was exciting and crazy and tiring all at once. The band started and it never stopped. I have so many funny stories about Yonrico.
He was always the highlight of my day. His words, his phrases, he had such a large personality.
He would stop traffic in the middle of a busy street in Germany. He would block the aisle of the airplane passengers to let and old woman out. He would yell words loud, and usually just ONE word,
at restaurants or airports or hotel lobbies. But most of all, he played the drums.
Man, I have NEVER played with a drummer, let alone musician, that was as good as Yonrico Scott.
When he "played" the drums....I mean he PLAYED the drums. He WAS the drum beat.
I don't mean just loud, because he wasn't always loud or overbearing, he was just full body, mind and spirit playing the drums. He led the band, but he listened to everybody. He taught me how the "groove" works. It's big, the groove is huge. It's not just the drum beat, we are all playing the "groove", and it moves. It's not a click track or programmed beat that is the same, it rocks and sways and speeds up and slows down and the whole group moves together, pushing and pulling like an orchestra. Yonrico was educated and knew classical music, jazz, rock, blues, African and world music. He would educate the band and mostly me, because I was listening. I didn't know these things and I knew this was my chance at an education in music. I learned more about music from Yonrico Scott, than I have ever learned before in my life. I knew about playing guitar, but this was music.

We had a good run with RSB and in a few years, I hung my hat and took a bow.
I had so much music of my own that I wanted to record and write, I went on to pursuing my solo career. Yonrico was not happy. We had many talks about life and where we were going and I think he felt like I was breaking camp, walking away. I was. There was too much tension in the band and I had just lost my mother and I wasn't interested in continuing a road that seemed endless and not fulfilling. In the end there, he and the band understood and they continued on for many more years making great music with great new additions.
We stayed in touch though and spoke every other week usually.

Yonrico was a big part of my family as well. My wife and children loved him.
He taught my daughters how to play drums, he encouraged my son Zach on the guitar.
We had dinners and breakfasts and spent a lot of time together.
Yonrico was a VERY likable man. He was charismatic and very spiritual.
Kids were drawn to Rico and his charm and big smile.

Yonrico and I made 6 records together over the years.
We made records for RSB, Samantha Fish, Laurence Jones, The Blues Caravan, and Vanja Sky.
Once RSB had kind of stopped, Rico became available again and we found work to do together.

Yonrico was always about staying healthy and eating right and going to the gym, thats the Yonrico I knew. He had suffered a heart attack and bypass surgery years before and it put him on a path of

physical fitness and staying healthy. He was always concerned with what food he was going to eat,
to the point of it being hilarious sometimes.

We planned for Yonrico to join the 2018 Blues Caravan tour with Bernard Allison, Vanja Sky and myself. He had played on the recordings and we were excited to get to play together some more and spend time traveling. Rico called me just after the new year and explained to me that he was not feeling good and needed to stay home from the tour to have another surgery and recuperate.
I was worried for my friend, but he assured me he would be fine, and he was for the most part.
He took the year to rest and write music and paint. He spent time with family and Jesus, whom he loved so much. We talked on the phone and texted and stayed close, always saying we would find another project to do in the future.

By the end of 2018 he was feeling good again, so I called on him to join a new group.
It was a Tribute to the Allman Brothers based in St. Louis called "Allman Anthology".
It would be a full 7 piece group with some heavy hitters and Danny Liston singing from the famed "Mama's Pride". I told him it would be fun and it wouldn't be full time or heavy touring, just rehearsing some and then playing a big show maybe 4-5 times a year. He thought this was a good project for him to get back on his feet and start playing again with is health. We were both excited to get to play music together again.

We had a blast this year. We played 4 very big, successful Allman Anthology shows. Two in St. Louis and two in Texas. Yonrico was able to see my family again in Texas and we had some wonderful meals and spent some quality time. I would "handle" Rico when he flew in, pick him up at the airport. Bring him to the hotel, take care of everything so he could just play and relax. He was very happy and really feeling good about life. We were having so much fun, we talked about recording this band and writing original music. The Allman Anthology group is special and Yonrico fit right in, he was our leader yet again and we all looked up to him for direction in the "groove".

Three weeks ago, I picked Rico up in St. Louis at Lambert Airport.
I rented a really cool Dodge Challenger in Sparkle Maroon. He LOVED it when I showed up at the terminal, he yelled "OKAYYY"!!  We had a great rehearsal with the band and afterward we went for a late dinner at Courtesy Diner on Hampton Ave in St. Louis....a southside tradition :)


We had decided that Yonrico would sign a recording contract with my record label "Gulf Coast Records" and I would come to Atlanta in November to produce the recording. He was very excited about making this record - he wanted to finally make his own Blues record. He was going to educate us all by going through all of the African drumbeats that later became the shuffles and stomps in our western Blues culture. It was going to be a fantastic record, and I was so excited to be working with my friend again. The next day we had soundcheck and I could not get a hold of Rico. He was not answering his phone or his door at the hotel, for hours. I was getting worried and when he finally got back to me I jokingly asked if he was going to die on me at the hotel.......he laughed hard and said
"But I'm not afraid to die."
The show was momentous and Yonrico made sure everyone saw him
He wore a lime green/lemon shirt with lemon pants - Green tennis shoes and he ran upfront during the show to strike a pose in front the crowd, they went wild!
We laughed and he played so good, the band put on the best show yet.
The next morning I had breakfast with Rico and we signed the recording contract and really
enjoyed our time....I dropped him off at his terminal and we hugged and said goodbye.
We would see each other in November in Atlanta to make his new record.



Last Thursday, September 19th, I was arriving at Dockside Studios where it all began to produce a new album with The Proven Ones for our record label.
I walked in the door and Charlie Wooton texted me......he told me that Yonrico had passed.
I was gutted. I just looked around the room and couldn't believe this is where we met and now he is gone. It was shocking and very upsetting. I spoke to his son, Rico jr., and he verified the passing to me. He told me how happy his father was to be working with me again and excited to make the new record.

I didn't cry when my Father died, I didn't know how. I was still learning to feel again after years of drug addiction. I cried years later after my Mother passed. I didn't know how to grieve, but losing both parents and working the program taught me how to feel and embrace the grieving.
I cried the night I heard that my friend was gone. It hurt and it still hurts, but it's getting better.
Life is for the living and I am alive, so I must continue forward and keep his spirit alive.
The guys in the old band, RSB, began texting and communicating together for the first time in years as a group and we told every silly funny Yonrico story we could think of...it was great.
I could not make it to his service this week and I was pretty sad about that, but I was there in spirit.

Rico jr. asked me to give remarks at his service and since I was unable, I have been wanting to share with you here, my tribute to a friend.

Yonrico was one of the kindest, wonderful, intelligent, gifted and talented people I have ever known.
He was special and full of love. He made me laugh so hard and taught me so much.
I will miss my friend, but I know he passed peaceful and with family around him.

God Bless you Rico, we will do our best to keep the Groove alive.
LONG LIVE THE BIG DRUM!!!


Monday, August 26, 2019

State of mind

Like most people, my state of mind can change throughout a day
let alone a week or a month. But for the most part I do my best to mostly stay positive
and not worry. In the big picture, I would say I am a positive person who doesn't worry
about much. Some would say that this is due to the fact that I am more financially
successful these days and have most of my needs met. I am happily married with a beautiful family and doing work that I love....true. But this does not necessarily mean that I am "happy" or "peaceful".
I have met plenty of people that seem "rich" to me and they are miserable and not wonderful.
Obviously, life is much easier when your needs are met. When there is food on the table and the bills are paid life gets more personal. When you are not worrying about just the basic needs, we start to think about the more than basic needs. Am I getting enough love, attention, etc. Mostly, people that are poor worry about one thing, how to survive. People that are not poor worry about many more social aspects of life. Some in the eastern philosophies would say that having more than we need
is a much greater burden than not. Trying to keep up with the latest in Cribs or the Kardashians is
a reality than only the newer generations have had to deal with. I grew up poor in a 5 room apartment, but we always had food and shelter....but that was about it.
I learned early on to entertain myself and be able to enjoy life without much money or stuff.

I know what it's like to be poor, and I am so thankful. I am always grateful for what we have and
the life we live today. We are by no means "rich" in the American Traditional use of the word......
we are just middle class. BUT, growing up lower class and making it to the middle is a big deal
and to me...we ARE rich. I couldn't be happier to see my kids off at College getting an education
and my children being able to play sports and go to dance. I am so happy to see that my children
don't have to live life poor. But I also worry that they do not always appreciate their lives.
They constantly see life on the internet and in movies and television that is just so over the top
and so grandiose that they think we don't have anything. I also worry that they think they are entitled to this life, this is just how it is for everyone. I know that this is not true...you do too.
I have encouraged my children that are of the age to become involved in their political lives and to register to vote. They seem less than interested. They tell me that they're not interested in politics
and that they don't care about who wins or loses. That to me is a sure sign that they have grown up
privileged. They have grown up with everything they need and they don't need to worry about others
or the future. Life will be good for them no matter what. (I certainly hope so)
This concerns me. This is a false positive of course and I am not always sure how to get them
to understand that life takes continual growth and work to succeed: Spiritually, Emotionally, Financially, Ethically, and so on.
If we are not concerned about being involved in our community and what we feel is best for the whole, we will never truly be connected as human. Life is more than fulfilling our personal needs. In fact, true happiness is helping others. If we are not concerned with who "wins or loses" in our leadership roles, we probably do not worry about others as well.

Most of all, what worries me is that if they lose this level of life with no concerns, will they be able to handle it? Can they handle "not having"? Can they still be happy?
Everyone has to learn for themselves, I understand, but as a father I want the best for my kids.

I look back on living poor in south St. Louis and think how I lucky I was to have that experience
and to have learned to be happy and be free through my work with recovery groups.
I made a lot of mistakes along the way, but in the end, I was always able to survive.
Today, I realize that happiness and contentment is all a state of mind.
If I am not working spiritually each day, I am not happy. I truly cannot enjoy the material world around me if I am not spiritually successful.
I pray each morning, do some meditation and reading and also some physical exercise.
When I have had enough sleep and my body feels good, it is easy to be spiritual.

This state of mind takes diligence and patience. Sometimes I will not feel the way I want to feel,
so I have to be patient and give myself a break. Sometimes I have to meditate longer and pray more for a day to get going positive. I do the work, because I know the result.
When I stop doing the work, I blame you, I blame life and I blame my circumstances.
In the end, I know this is not true. It's me....it's always me.
I am the one who decides how this life will be lived today.

I work hard for this state of mind because I am selfish.
I like the way this feels and I want more of it.
I realize now that I could live without almost everything material.
I do not want to, but I could if it were necessary.
This allows me to be in wonder most of my day, and that is how I choose to live life.
I am in wonder of this life.

Peace, Love, Zito.....





Thursday, June 20, 2019

Commitment

I can't really remember if I am writing a blog I already have written before.
I am almost to 100 entries over the past 7 years and I try hard to not repeat myself.
Obviously this blog is based on my life and experiences as a recovering addict and alcoholic and touring musician and most important, a father and husband. The theme is always similar but I hope each entry has something fresh to share. People often ask me to write the blog more, and I promise I will be doing so soon, but its sometimes hard to be authentic and honest when it is a chore.
Some writers write for the sake of being able to write, it is their gift. Mine is not that way.
My gift I do not believe is so much in the ability to write, but to share my feelings and world honestly.
I enjoy writing, but it has to come from the right place. I don't write songs well without purpose either.
My best songs are based on true experience or feelings. I could never be a "Songwriter" that is shelling out melodic tunes for money. I don't have it in me, and so I approach this blog the same.
I write when I have something to say that I feel is worthy of your time.

Which brings me to commitment.
I have never been committed to much in life before recovery, other than my guitar and music.
Music was the lover I would not let go of, no matter what the cost.
I have given up many other life experiences for music. I have slept with my guitar in lieu of a human
many times. The guitar is the one thing in life I have held tightly since I was 8 years old.
I often thought of "commitment" as mostly having to do with a relationship, a marriage vow.
I was not very successful with that idea early on in my life as well. I just wanted to play my guitar
at all costs. Now, throw in some drugs and alcohol and you get a pretty good story.

It never occurred to me that commitment was so powerful.
My first real commitment in life was to the recovery programs that have saved my life.
I remember hearing from a man in a meeting years ago say "at some point you have to make a commitment. You have to decide this is what you are going to do and do it no matter what."
That hit hard for me. I made a firm decision that day that I would stay clean and sober and I would work that program to the best of my ability. That is what I would do, this would now become my life.
He was right. It took making a heartfelt decision deep inside that this is what I would now be, I would not go back to my old way of life. That commitment rings as true today as it did 15 years ago.

I always say that recovery was my first success in life and that is true. It's the first thing I started that I have not walked away from  or given up on. It has taught me to make real commitments in my life outside of the meetings. My wife and I were dating and I was newly sober. I was just starting to be able to play music again and she would go with me to support me and be there so I could do my job, get paid and bring the money home. It was a fun time. We would drive to Lake Charles two-three times a week for me to play gigs and she'd fall asleep on the way back in the car and get home at 2am, then get up at 6:30am and go to work. She was always there to help me.
One night we were crossing the 210 bridge in Lake Charles and I was so excited. I was staying sober and playing music and this girl was right there with me and we were just having so much fun. I told her that I thought if we stayed together we could probably do really well as a team. She agreed!
We decide that we would make a pact right there that night. We would always stay together, no matter what. We shook on it, on that bridge. We called it the 210 pact.
For years after we married, whenever we argued or disagreed, one of us would remind the other of the "210 pact" and we would kind of let go of whatever the disagreement was.
It was always fun and sometimes like the ring of the bell at the end of a round of boxing.
"Hey....the 210 pact!"......and everything would stop.

Like most marriages, we have had some rough patches along the way. Times when we were younger and things were just not jiving. My nature to always cut and run would kick in and I would think
" I gotta get out of here" or "what the hell is going on". In the midst of all of these turbulence,
one of us would remind each other of the 210 pact. It would solemnly bring the unease to an end.
But it was not a fun little quip anymore, it was for real.
We made a deal, remember? No matter what we would stay together and be a team.
That always worked. It was deeper than our wedding vows, our formal marriage. We did this on our own, together with God as our witness and we shook on it, always and forever.
Laura was pregnant with Josie at the time and my music career was not what it is today.
Times were tight and I was working a lot and not giving her the support she needed, but we did our best. We went to the hospital for the birth of our new baby girl. It all happens so fast and so crazy and at the same time like slow motion. I was right by Laura's side, holding her hand.
I heard a loud cry and the doctor said "Mark the time of delivery at 2:10pm"

The biggest tear I have ever seen, ran out of my wife's eye. She looked at me and I was overcome.
It was too much. It's almost too much typing the story this morning.
I felt this wash over me and I just surrendered and said, ok, I get it. I'm here. This is exactly what I am doing. For always and forever.  Laura and I didn't say a word, we just looked at each other and we knew. The pact was real, it was our honest commitment and we would stay true to our word.

Everything changed from that day forward. We had honored the commitment to the best of our ability up to that day, but that day was the Universe telling us that we made a promise, and now there was no turning back. Life became so much simpler and easy and more connected than ever before.
We stopped fighting, arguing, and just started to really enjoy our life together.
All of our energy went into that commitment.
I became a better musician and a real father and husband that day.
This commitment has become the absolute focal point of our lives.
Nothing else matters, only the 210 pact.

That commitment has led me to many more in my life.
The commitment to my recovery and to my wife have really taught me how to succeed.
When I want to be truly successful at anything, I have to commit.
As I get older, I realize I do not have time for games or messing around. Some people have to go
and some get to stay. I have work to do and time is of the essence.

Not everything in life is as amazing as the pact that my wife and I made some 15 years ago,
nor should it be. But, when I make a commitment, something powerful happens.
It becomes a part of me, it is mine and I own it and treasure the cost.
It is beyond being loyal, it is who I am.
To truly succeed at any venture, I have to commit.
I never realized I could give so much of myself to others or to a cause or work, but I can.
I can give more. I am still selfish. I still love to hold that guitar.
Standing by my word is an inside job, it means I am to be trusted with the deepest of dedications.
I am proud of my commitments today, they define me.

210 pact baby...always and forever!