What’s Stopping You from Being You?

As I turn 40 this month I’m writing a few reflective posts. It’s always good to take step back and ask, “What have I been learning and experiencing these last few years… or better yet, decades?”

Here’s the post on the two halves of life where I compare bucket-lists, 7th grade’s and today’s.
And here’s our Top 5 Helpful Things for Creative People!

It was ten years ago and Betony was pregnant with our first child. We were having dinner with some friends who are a bit older than us; people whose wisdom in the music profession I trust.

After dinner we were talking about dreams and songwriting and insecurities.
My friend turned to me and gave me something I’d been looking for a long time: permission.

He told me it was time to take my music career out of the closet and give it some sunshine…
let it breathe. He told me I could do it and essentially to stop wishing it and go be it.

Isn’t it strange how just a bit of encouragement from a trusted source can be all we need?

Before this moment I had played in bands and led worship music and produced demo albums with incredible musicians. But I’d never taken any of it as seriously as I’d liked. When we played a show I rarely invited anyone. When we made an album I wouldn’t invest very much money or even pay to get it mastered. I had this major fear and hinderance in my mind. It’s one I still will wrestle with on bad days. It goes like this:

If I don’t make enough money doing this then I’m not successful.
If this doesn’t lead to a tipping point of notoriety that leads to sustainability then I’m not successful. If I don’t create enough income to arrive at the American dream of a sweet house and some cars, then I’m not successful.
If I can’t make a living doing this, isn’t it just a glorified hobby?

And around and around my mind goes
until I feel embarrassed calling myself a musician. 

We all have a major hangup, don’t we? That main roadblock that’s in our way that we just keep struggling with.
Mine seems to be this definition of success. What’s yours? 

My hangups are still present, but after this eye opening conversation 10 years ago something in me changed. I had a big shift in perspective. 

I probably wasn’t ever going to be a singer-songwriter as a singular career. But that was ok.
I was going to keep being an intentional singer-songwriter because…
when it came down to it, I had been compelled to since I was young.

I had written songs and longed to share them since 2nd grade.

I had a fire in my bones, as a prophet once put it, and I had to create and share.

That sentence reads melodramatic, but I think most creatives know what I’m talking about…
the compulsion to make something meaningful and share it with the people we love;
to connect in deep ways where what’s being sung and experienced becomes a conversation of “me too”;
to make something beautiful that speaks in and over and through the human condition. 

So that year, a decade ago, after that important conversation, I started taking creating seriously. I had another job as a worship leader but I also started dedicating time to songwriting, to having a website, a Facebook page, to setting up a series of house concerts. I put together my first ever tour with the goal to break even (I made $500 and was so thrilled).

I had just turned 30.
And I’ve kept this up the last 10 years.

When people ask what I do for a living I tell them musician
and it’s usually with a great deal of pride.
That title is a juggling of a whole lot of “main jobs” and “side hustles”. I think the most important thing the intentionality over these years has done… it has addressed the compulsion to make and given me space to create.

To put it maybe a better way, it’s helped me be the person I’ve needed to be; the person I’ve felt called to be.

I’ve made work I’m proud of. I’ve had people respond and let me know a song or project or experience meant a great deal to them.
And that truly has felt like the answer to the calling.
And it’s still not been my main source of income.
But it’s not a hobby.
It’s an identity. 

I’m so thankful, grateful that someone came along to give me permission to do this.
I needed the affirmation and encouragement
that even though creating this art is not my sole income, it’s my soul income.
That has personally been my largest hurdle to overcome in being an artist.

So now I say this quite seriously
to those of you with the fire in your bones to make and create and connect,
whatever your hangups are:

You can do this.
You feel deep inside you’re called to it and you HAVE to make.
Do what you need to do.
Be responsible. Live economically. Make it work.
It’s worth it.
Keep on your side hustles and passion projects
and add beauty to this world starved for meaning.
It makes a better us when you are fully you.
Thank you for being bold. It’s we who benefit. 


NEW ALBUM! Haystacks: A Collection of Favorite Songs (2008-2016)


Today I turn 38. When reflecting on life this I realized something:

Over the past 8 years I’ve released 8 albums!
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Before that, when I had turned 30 I had crisis of profession. I wasn’t sure if being a musician/singer-songwriter was going to be good for my family. Our first baby was on the way and I had always treated this part of my life as a hobby. I wrote songs and shared them locally but I never went beyond our pocket of friends with any intention. Yet I had this strong pull that I needed to be giving more room for this in my life.

Then I had a transformative conversation with a friend.

He let me know, “Tim, this is the year of the baby. You’re going to have your first child. And then you’re going to let this other child known as your ‘creative career’ out of the closet you’ve locked it up in.”

Really, someone’s respected opinion that I could DO IT was all I needed.

I created a website.

I shared my music online.

I played shows and gathered emails.

I went on my first tour (to Kansas! because it was home!)

It was a turning point for me where I stopped talking about what I wanted to do as singer/songwriter and started actually doing it.

So collected here are songs that are favorites of mine and the people who have listened in over the last 8 years. In the fields of everything I’ve released these are songs that rise a little bit higher in their season.

Hence the name, Haystacks.

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Big 33 List


Every year for my birthday I have this funny little tradition of making a “Big ___ List” (insert number of years old). Each year, I make a bucketlist of goals/activities to try for the following year. There is one list item for each year old I turn.

(By the way, the Garden Arch picture is up there because it was an item on my Big 32 List!)

BIG 33 List:

  1. Get a Hammock
  2. Plant a fruit tree
  3. Read a Classic (I always put this one on the list, but I need a suggestion)
  4. Have a baby boy/4th Child (pretty inevitable this November… 🙂
  5. Make homemade croissants
  6. Go Camping with the whole family
  7. Have a “no spending month”
  8. Get awesomely fit after pregnancy
  9. Go see a musical in Denver
  10. See another cirque du soleil show
  11. Visit a new place
  12. Finish the Bellwether series
  13. Create/design a “sacred space”
  14. Go to the KS State Fair
  15. Finish the dining room redo
  16. Have a great solid first year of homeschooling
  17. Keep moving towards “Clearing” and minimalism in our house
  18. Complete the UNC tree walk and learn some new tree names
  19. Do the Nature Pal Exchange with the kids
  20. Finish my braided rug
  21. Finish my sunshine quilt (I hate to admit but this has been on at least 4 years of lists)
  22. Always make a double batch when cooking
  23. Be a better friend when it comes to birthdays/gifts
  24. Get something published in Uppercase Magazine
  25. Stop texting and looking at my phone while driving
  26. Redo my kitchen countertops
  27. Keep in monthly blog log of our homeschooling adventures
  28. Learn how to wire a light.
  29. Drive the Poudre Canyon road during the peak of fall colors.
  30. Eat at Acorn in Denver (or….. other suggestions?)
  31. Eat more vegetables/Get my kids to eat more vegetables
  32. Apply for an artist in residence program
  33. Don’t cut my hair so I can actually grow it out

My Big 32 List

I have this little tradition I have been doing for my birthday for the last 10 years or so. Each year, I make a bucketlist of goals/activities to try for the following year. Their is one list item for each year old I turn. Some are silly, some are serious, but it’s always fun to look back on the previous years list and see what got accomplished. Yesterday was my 32nd birthday, so here is my Big 32 List:

(By the way, these are in no particular order)

1.Cook a live lobster 

2. Build a woodworking project from instructions (We have all the lumber to make this garden arch, just haven’t gotten around to building it!)

3.Visit Idaho (I’ve never been, so why not! And it looks lovely)

4.Keep running

5. Say “yes” to all those “Would you like to donate a $1 to……” questions.

6. Use my water bottle more. And try not to lose it on a monthly basis.

7. Apply for another mural – any suggestions anyone? Hutchinson, FOCO? And, could someone please help fund the Greeley Atlas/John Galt mural? I have a really cool design…

8. Watch movies for fun and ignore Rotten Tomatoes ratings. Sometimes I am too judgy of movies and I forget to just enjoy them.

9. Make a plan for a giant Art Prize piece. I love the challenge of coming up with an art piece that is of a monumental scale. Just what will it be…

10. Look at my phone less. Why is this so hard?

11. Read more books. Real books. With Paper. Not those versions on phones.  I have been working my way through this list.

12. Finish “Call of the Wild” – currently I have been reading one page in a setting and its like taking a sleeping pill. ZZZZZZ….

13. Read Animal Farm – I always try to add a classic to my list that I haven’t read before.

14. Spend more money to purchase the well crafted object rather than always going for the sale rack/cheap option. But be discerning.

15. Simplify. Get rid of clutter by asking is it beautiful? Is it useful? Does it add meaning? And if not, toss it.

16.Go on one hike every month – even in the winter. We have a book of Northern Colorado hikes, I’d love to use that as a starting place and discover some new favorites.

17. Be engaged with Lucy’s school and give it a chance. Be a present volunteer and part of the community.

18. Give panhandlers the benefit of the doubt and trust that what their signs say is true. Giving a few dollars here and there won’t hurt me at all.

19. Pay attention to what my kids desires and passions are and get excited alongside them.

20. Charge more. In a recent conversation with a business owner friend, I complained to feeling overwhelmed and feeling really behind on projects. His response was “Charge More.”

21. Fix all the curtains in our house. Emily Henderson’s post here was very illuminating.

22. Eat less meat and more vegetables. Maybe start with just making sure to have a veggie at every meal. Or Meatless Mondays. Sounds funny to have this on the list coming from me, an ex-vegetarian.

23. Try to eliminate cooking from anything that comes in a box or prepackaged. Mostly because I feel like it will save us a lot of money.

24. Sell all my wall calendars – I love how these projects turn out, but it is always hard to upfront the cost for printing and hope people like them.

25. Finish my children’s book illustration project I am currently in the middle of.

26. Take more personal spiritual journeys – hiking, runs, searching out quiet, eliminating technology, etc. Moments to reflect and refuel.

27. Have purposeful “yes” days with the kids. 

28. Drive less. 

29. Be open to boredom.

30. Search out and explore more wild spaces. 

31. Learn how to wire a light.

32. Drive the Poudre Canyon road during the peak of fall colors.