I remember being an awkward and amusing kid, who had way too much to say, who was more interested in books and adults than other kids, and who already understood I was a little too much for most of the world...
I was pretty attached to my older sister; I was pretty much as distant as I could've been from my older brother. My dad worked a lot, my mom was involved in a lot of social organizations, but we traveled together for extended trips each summer.
School wasn't going great for me, bored, under-stimulated and pretty much constantly bullied and ostracized.
I don't recall this being a great time in my life, but I did learn a lot - just not in the traditional realms. I was into the arts, so at least I had started visiting NYC... there seemed to be some hope there.
By 17, I was out of my hometown and in NYC. I spent 18 or so glorious months there and in the UK, becoming everything and everyone I wanted to be. I did a lot of drugs, worked for drugs, sold drugs, danced in cages, had lots of fluid sexual encounters, had a girlfriend murdered and 3 close friends OD.
I boogied out of NYC, did a semester in a CC, then went into a couple different community and cooperative living situations. I lived in a Quaker Community, I did educational studies on a school bus through 5 Provinces of Canada and 46 of the lower 48. I got into sustainability, I'm sure I had a very high PSR (Naked and Afraid joke - I can totally start a fire with a bow-drill, and yes, it is that hard, like 3 hours of work)...
anyway, drugs and fun folks lead me to the Grateful Dead, and then I was on tour... somewhere in that, I turned 21... I recall really liking myself and knowing that other folks thought I was worthy. I recall feeling pretty alive.
I left Dead Tour in Philly in the Fall of '87, then moved to Dallas to help my sister with her first child; I had met TX Deadheads and stayed connected and after my sister delivered my first niece, Molly, I headed to Austin.
I loved Austin, felt at home right away. I moved in with my friends, 6 of us sharing a one bedroom, one bath at 42nd and Burnet. But, we were hippies, and 2 went to UT, two had day jobs and two of worked overnights at Kerbey Lane. So, there was always someone home, waking up or crashing, trading couch or bed. And, we just skinny-dipped at Ramsey Pool, nightly.
We used ATX as our base, went back on Tour, and then we all went to Europe. I ended up in Israel, tried to stay, SCUDs feel in the First Gulf War, no more gas-masks for non-citizens, so back Stateside, back to Austin.
I had started working at WFM, settled down, was back in school at UT and got set up on a blind date by a good friend. It took a year before we went out - I was enjoying lots of freedom and no entanglements and had solid intimate friendships, so I didn't really care.
Finally, we both broke down and gave in.... that was October 19, 1991, and we've been together since. I did a Fellowship, went back to the Middle East to study and she bought a house. 6 days from now, 22 years ago, I came home and we moved into this house. I left school, got serious at WFM and was getting promotions.
At 28, I was happy, successful, in love and loving life. Bright future, excellent present, a blessed past - even the hardships, all add up to me.
I was still working for WFM - I had looked for opportunity, and that took me to Madison, WI, where I helped open and establish a store, and then took on my own. We moved to MI, that was never in the plans. We end up in one of the whitest, most conservative and Christian places I've ever lived. We make a nice life for ourselves.
What I recall most from that year was the insanity around Y2K, and WFM went in, full force, all hands on deck. So, I spent that New Years, in my store, with my wife and two dogs, some Champagne, lots of beers, and of course a home-made Surf-and-Turf, waiting for the world to end, the lights to go out and the looting to begin.
I had had enough time in my role to be well respected and honored, and had just begun to win some awards. I was confident in what I was doing and what I could do. We had a lovely house, we had two great dogs, but I recall that really, I just worked, a lot.
I didn't sleep much, I was really successful, but worried about my job, everyday. That seems so silly in retrospect, but I have to say, I talk to folks and see that still everyday, and it's usually the highest performing folks that feel the worst.
I cared a lot about my team and the folks I worked with - I had one of the guys from my Meat Team who was just so loveable and outgoing. He'd been there like 6 years, everyone knew and loved him... he was a party-dog, with a heart of gold. He had a girlfriend, two kids and one on the way. One night, Ramon was out with his crew, and he just keeled over. Massive aneurism, pretty much brain-dead immediately, but about a week before the machines got turned off.
That was intense. I'd been around death and loss, senseless and violent loss and had had to process. But, as me, my experience. Not as a leader, not as 'go-to figure.'
I think I grew up a lot in that period. Holding that space, loving that crew and getting to really know them, identifying potential in folks who had never been encouraged and watching them succeed.
I liked my job, I liked my life, I loved my wife - I was great for WFM, I worked WAY too much and gave it my all. I could feel this was what I wanted, but I knew it wasn't sustainable. I was becoming a Spiritual Black Hole.
My career went very well. I kept on taking on the hard jobs, hanging in there and delivering and getting rewarded. In fact, I was so good at it that by the time I was 38 or so, I'd figured out I could probably retire at 40...
Took on the hardest job I ever had and managed to not only get it done, be a hero, and make a lot of bonuses and awards out of it, but also keep my integrity and feel like I'd actually made a situation better for everyone, not just the company.
It allowed me to write my own ticket for the last few years I worked. I trained a lot of folks, did a lot of work with Succession planning, helped open the first store in Canada, got to have my own store back, and managed to travel extensively the entire time.
Amsterdam, Belgium, Canada - Vancouver to Montreal, Spain, the UK, rent a Castle in Scotland, Portugal, the Balearics, went to China and Tibet for my 40th, and basically was living large, traveling well, and enjoying life. But none of it had to do with work - it was there, it paid my way to have fun and it let me be who I wanted to be, but at the same time, my 'fame' and my charisma was really threatening to a lot of my 'leaders' - frankly, I wouldn't want to have me as a subordinate, I'm really hard - there were a lot of folks who were in power positions who were not really confident, and I know as always, I can be a big trigger.
At 40, it was time to bow out. I was ready, so I retired. I had been collecting and buying fine art for a few years so I had a really nice diversion to sink into, and I started to go to some think-tank-type conferences and meet freaks.
I had also told Susannah, probably in the midst of that 35 range, when she was concerned about my sleep, stress and well-being, that I would do whatever was right at 40, if she left me alone to my work in my 30s. She did, so I had to. Many failed attempts, gyms, all kinds of stuff and I thought I'd be a liar.
One day, begrudgingly guilty, I throw on some shitty sweat pants and a t-shirt and follow her to yoga - how bad can it be, I think.. HA, it sucks and I hate it, but that's another entire story. I just kept going back, maybe to see why I hated it, maybe just to gather evidence why it sucked and I shouldn't do it.
Three months later, I'm going 12 times a week, I'm in Teacher Training, I'm hired during my final exam and teaching within the week.
At 41, I'm free, living in great house that Susannah and I remodeled and built from bungalow to MTV Party House, and I'm just taking and teaching yoga, traveling and feeling good. At 42, the market has crashed, my house is worth a quarter of what it is, and the place I live, Oakland Co, MI, is leading the nation in foreclosures.
I'm really glad I'm teaching yoga and listening to what I'm talking about. But, we need to be done with MI...
We stayed in Michigan just long enough for me to marry some really good friends. It was lovely and a perfect way to conclude our time up there. Then, we sold almost everything we could, packed up some PODS, packed up our two cars, towed my '65 VW, and loaded up our two dogs for the three day drive back home, to Texas.
The first time I moved to Austin, it was August - that's how you knew if you could make it. Move here when it's 100 everyday, it'll only get better for the next 11 months. So, first week of August we arrive back in Texas. The year is 2008. 20 years to the month that I first moved to Austin.
We settled in, I started working a lot - we rented out our place in Michigan, but the value and rents were really low. I had a lot of debt, and huge taxes to pay from when I did have money - so interesting - so we just buckled down. I was lucky to have a career where I was able to work in my passion, and be exposed to and become friends with many incredible yogis and teachers and mentors. Unfortunately, I loved what I did, I loved the folks I did it with as we worked together, but I just could not create a sustainable relationship with integrity with the individual for whom I worked. Luckily, I had generally fulfilled what I believed I could do, knew that the rest was untenable, accomplished my personal goals and paid off the majority of my debt.
So, once again, retired and a solo agent. I started a few of my own little business. I threw a benefit with some excellent collaborators and was able to raise several thousands of dollars to help support women who had been liberated from sexual slavery. I was active in a 'Secret Society' and won awards. I taught Mindfulness, Emotional and Spiritual Intelligence in some corporate settings
I've been teaching, I took on private clients, I've mentored folks, I've done some weddings and ceremonies. I've continued my training, I've broadened my scope. I've assisted my teacher and I've made great new relationships. I've continued to be open to the evolution of my own needs, my own practices and my own goals.
I saw my dad turn 80 - longest lived male Phillips we know of, and we know way back! I saw my oldest niece, the one whose birth I attended, get married and start her career.
I went to school for Massage Therapy - I'm really pleased right now to be in alliance with having the skills and passion and opportunity to help create incredible, individual change, one person at a time.
I've invested a lot more time into my studies, exercises and pursuits of mysticism and have really benefited from taking the time to explore mysteries without a desire to intellectualize them. I've been working on a personal tantra, working more in collaboration, exploring more areas of opportunity for community change, and exploring my own discomfort. I'm going to write more, but less 'factual' and more 'emotional'. I'm going to do a few more things that make me uneasy.
I'm going to take this time and bask in how fortunate I've been. And, give thanks and praise.