Dabbling Again: Revisiting An Old Project With New Perspective

Making The Tigger Tendency Work For You

As a self-proclaimed “Professional Dabbler,” I often find myself jumping from one interest to the next. Oftentimes, those interests seem completely unrelated. I’m sure others scratch their head when they observe what appears to be a nonlinear and chaotic path that I follow.

One of the inherent risks with living a Dabbler lifestyle is the so-called “Tigger Tendency” (aptly named after the bouncy character of A.A. Milne’s Winnie-The-Pooh), as described by author Benjamin Hoff in his book, The Te of Piglet.

“The final problem we might mention about the Tigger Tendency is that the worthwhile and important things in life — wisdom and happiness in particular — are simply not the sorts of things one can Chase After and Grab. They are instead the sorts of things that come to us where we are, if we let them — if we stop trying too hard and just let things happen as they need to. Tigger found this out when he discovered What Tiggers Like Best…”
 — The Te of Piglet by Benjamin Hoff

During the course of my nonlinear career thus far, I’ve confirmed that the problem is not in the tendency of jumping around, but rather in the intent of why people zig-zag in the first place. If it’s to chase after and grab happiness, the prize is elusive and the experience can be quite frustrating. Case in point, at the start of my career, “chase and grab happiness” was my intent and I found myself jumping around in circles and often getting lost.

I hope the following example will help reassure other Dabblers. Despite the naysayers and other challenges along the way, dabbling can be a good thing and there’s a reason why we should let the moment draw us in, even when it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense at the time.

Coming Full Circle

“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
 — T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets

In 2001, I launched a website as a business. My goal: to help engaged couples find resources when planning their wedding in Chicago. (I was working as a wedding DJ living in Chicagoland at the time.) Similar to how this Dabbler publication on Medium came about, it was not something I had planned to do. It unfolded at the moment as inspiration struck. With a lot of effort, but mostly by sheer luck and timing, it actually did well for quite a while and made a decent profit from vendor advertising.

When I first got ChicagoWeddingServices.com up and running, I worked intensely. Almost non-stop every day, I enthusiastically taught myself everything I needed to know while simultaneously applying what I learned to build and optimize the site. Although I paid a hefty price in terms of life balance and family time, it became a springboard for the beginning of a new career.

One thing led to another and the experience eventually landed me many years in executive management as a digital marketer. Because the demands of corporate life didn’t leave me much time to continue with the Chicago Wedding Services side-hustle, the site went downhill and just flew on autopilot for more than a decade.

As life would have it, I’m out of corporate again. Recently, with the COVID-19 circumstances, I’ve had the time and opportunity to revisit ChicagoWeddingServices.com as a project. This go-around, I see things in a new light and am enjoying the process in a much more balanced way. Applying everything I learned the first time and since then, I’m also better able to avoid my earlier mistakes and bad assumptions.

This time around, I’m not chasing the attention or the money of a successful, high-traffic website. If that happens again, great. If it doesn’t, that’s fine too. The project, in and of itself, has reignited a fire within that was beginning to flicker away. I can get lost for blissful hours of tinkering and developing. Reacquainting myself with a forgotten friend, the process brings my passion for digital creation to life. At the same time, I can still easily walk away from it when it’s time to walk the dog, cook dinner for the family, or simply just rest. I couldn’t do that before.

This is just one example of countless lessons I’ve learned from living life as a Dabbler and coming full circle.

Dabble in interests that really bring out your passions, not just the next new shiny object. Go all in, but don’t lose your balance. Get lost in the moment but stay connected to reality. Do it for the love of the game and not just the final score.

I’ve found pleasure and happiness in the act of becoming rather than focusing too much on what I will become. Joy has come to me from bridging the gap between who I already am with who I might be someday. This has helped me stop feeling like an inadequate imposter in a world where being someone well-known and important is an admired thing.

If you’re a natural dabbler, be comfortable in your own skin by accepting your inner Tigger. It’s okay to jump around and explore. Understand why you bounce and enjoy the journey. You’ll eventually get to where you need to go. But remember that happiness is already where you are.

Photo by Dimitar Belchev on Unsplash

Original post from The Dabbler publication on Medium.

Owning The Experience

Have Done

Driving into work the other day, I heard Groupon’s latest commercial about the Haves vs. Have-Dones. Most commercials usually don’t stick with me, but coming from a marketing background, I pay special attention to the ones that do. And this one did.

The closing line in the commercial is solid:

“If you’re going to own something…own the experience.”

Hearing this struck a chord because I immediately tied it back to something I read earlier from James Altucher.

For me, experiences are always more important than material goods. A story is more important than a gift.”
— James Altucher

He goes into this in more detail in his book Choose Yourself. As frugal as he can be when it comes to buying things, James Altucher spares no expense when it comes to spending money on experiences.

When I first read that, I thought about how so many people I know, including myself, seem to be in the endless pursuit of the material more. Maybe because we can. I like to blame cultural pressure and the unnecessary need I feel to keep up with the Joneses. Of course some material things are essential for safety and survival, but as for the luxuries, it’s only because we want them.

Spending Time vs. Spending Money

We often spend money to buy things. To have them and to own them. And if we’ve earned it, why not? Having new things — better things — feels good. So we want more…and more.

Shopping is an experience that can be addicting. I’m in no place to judge. I just bought a new suit online this morning. I didn’t need it. I already have seven in the closet. It was 73% off so I justified the purchase knowing I could wear it to work. I guess what I was really buying was the pleasure that will come along with it. I’m indirectly buying that experience. It’s a means to an end.

If in the end I just want to feel good and be happy, perhaps I should be more mindful about how I spend my time.

I grew up hearing “time is money.” I agree it needs to be spent well. If it truly is finite and we never know when our time will run out, then I wonder why we waste so much of our time trying to be happy in the future. Couldn’t we just be happy right now, without spending a penny or accumulating any extra baggage?

Even when I’m having a bad day and everything seems to be going wrong, I can transform the experience knowing that those bad days happen for good reason. You don’t appreciate the good times as much unless you know the challenges that come with the “bad” days. Oftentimes, we need those bad days to teach us an important lesson. And if seen from that perspective, we can be grateful for the good sandwiched between the bad. Perception becomes reality.

What we choose to do with our time is important. More important, I think, is how we perceive the experience of that time. The same story can be interpreted in numerous ways. The same circumstances provide a different experience to different people.

Too much philosophy and not enough practicality? That’s fair. Instead of manipulating our perception, let’s consider how we can alter our approach to improve the experience.

Elevating the Experience

I love to read and to watch movies. It gives me the chance to experience life through others. Experiences that might normally be out of reach or a life better left to fantasy and imagination.

It wasn’t until recently that I wondered why. I’ve already acknowledged that I enjoy living vicariously in the shadows. Although I’ve occasionally ventured out into the limelight, my introverted nature feels more comfortable in the audience. Comfortable but limiting. Being the spectator only takes me so far. It’s so much more fun to be on stage. The experience is elevated.

Take, for example, the difference between the experience of a reader and that of a writer. I enjoy both. For me, writing is more sublime. I become an active participant. In addition to input there’s output. I can connect different dots and create something new. This takes the enjoyment of reading and brings it to a higher level.

Passive Participation > Active Participation > Creation

The transformation can take many forms and different paths, depending on what you experiment with and where you find your passion.

  • Reading the book > Writing the book
  • Sitting in the audience > Being the main character
  • Spectating in the stands > Playing the field > Coaching
  • Listening to the radio > DJing the playlist > Producing
  • Eating at the table > Cooking in the kitchen
  • Wallflower > Dancer > Choreographer
  • Passenger > Driver
  • Employee > Manager > Entrepreneur
  • Consumer > Creator

Those who step up and perform, have an opportunity to inspire the audience. Those who create, have the power to elevate the experience for others as well as for themselves.

Love eating French cuisine? Julia Child decided to become a chef and bring the art of French cooking to the United States. Julia went on to author several cookbooks and become a legend as a TV cooking personality.

Fascinated with movies? Harrison Ford (I’ll always think of him as Han Solo) overcame his shyness and got into acting. He is now the highest-grossing actor in U.S. box office history.

And if you feel like an old dog, remember that both Julia Child and Harrison Ford blossomed later in life.

It’s never too late to elevate your experience.

Own It

Surround yourself with the Have-dones. When you’re time is up, let your memories be filled with what you’ve done more than what you possessed. Spend more time in your world, not somebody else’s. Don’t just go along for the ride, find your own path. Choose to dance instead of being a wallflower.

“ Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.”
― Mary Schmich, Wear Sunscreen: A Primer for Real Life

…or don’t.

Every experience you have is all that you really need. You still have to own it though. You’re accountable for making good of it. Elevate it, learn from it, share it, or simply enjoy it. Don’t take for granted the fleeting precious moments you already have. Be present. Everything else will unfold as it should.

So let me reiterate and close Groupon style:

“If you’re going to own something…own the experience.”

My Drug of Choice: Take a (Lyrical) Hit

 “Music is a safe kind of high.”
 — Jimi Hendrix

As a semi-retired DJ, I’ve always known the high that comes from the right music at the right time. Music really is like a powerful drug. It can take you back in time where a particular song anchors memories from the past. It has the power to transform ordinary moments into special events. And this affective influence can touch the heart, the mind as well as the body.

Some of my favorite songs not only make you feel good, they’re good for you. More than words, there is harmony between [lyrics with substance] and [melody that moves].

Here are some samples. No prescription needed.

Antidepressant or Stress Relief

“I, recommend getting your heart trampled on to anyone, yeah
I, recommend walking around naked in your living room, yeah

Swallow it down (what a jagged little pill)
It feels so good (swimming in your stomach)
Wait until the dust settles

You live you learn, you love you learn
You cry you learn, you lose you learn
You bleed you learn, you scream you learn

I, recommend biting off more than you can chew to anyone
I certainly do
I, recommend sticking your foot in your mouth at any time
Feel free”

Alanis Morissette, You Learn (2015 Remastered)

“I’ve been waiting on the sunset
Bills on my mindset
I can get deny they’re getting high
Higher than my income
Income’s breadcrumbs
I’ve been trying to survive

The glow that the sun gives
Right around sunset
Helps me realize
This is just a journey
Drop your worries
You are gonna turn out fine
Oh, you’ll turn out fine
Fine, oh, you’ll turn out fine

But you gotta keep your head up, oh
And you can let your hair down, eh
You gotta keep your head up, oh,
And you can let your hair down, eh

I know it’s hard, know its hard
To remember sometimes,
But you gotta keep your head up, oh
And you can let your hair down, eh”

Andy Grammer, Keep Your Head Up

When You’re Not Feeling Like Your Self

“So basically all I need
Is to be everything but me
Colored contacts
And some implants
Somehow that don’t make much sense
I must be out of my head
If I think, that I am governed by material things.

So I decided I’m
The definition of fly
And if you want to know why
I know what money can’t buy
Don’t go believing the hype
There’s no runway in the sky
And no way you could be fly
Not if it costs you a dime.”

 — Elle Varner, So Fly

For Acute Laryngitis from Introversion

“You can be amazing
You can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug
You can be the outcast
Or be the backlash of somebody’s lack of love
Or you can start speaking up
Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way that words do
And they settle ‘neath your skin
Kept on the inside and no sunlight
Sometimes a shadow wins
But I wonder what would happen if you

Say what you wanna say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave

With what you want to say
And let the words fall out
Honestly I wanna see you be brave”

Sara Bareilles, Brave

Cure for Creative Blocks

“Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten”

Natasha Bedingfield, Unwritten

Love Potion

“Now better men, than me have failed
Drinking from that unholy grail
(Now check it out)
I’ve got her, and she got me
And you’ve got that butt, but I kindly gotta be like
Oh baby, no baby, you got me all wrong baby
My baby’s already got all of my love

So nah nah Honey, I’m good
I could have another but I probably should not
I’ve got somebody at home, and if I stay I might not leave alone
No, honey, I’m good
I could have another but I probably should not
I’ve got to bid you adieu
To another I will stay true
(oo oo I will stay true)
(who who I will stay true)

Oh, I’m sure ya, sure ya will make somebody’s night
But oh, I assure ya assure ya, it sure as hell’s not mine”

Andy Grammer, Honey, I’m Good.

Remedy for Homesickness

“Young mom on her own
She needs a little help got nowhere to go
She’s lookin’ for a job, lookin’ for a way out
’Cause a half-way house will never be a home
At night she whispers to her baby girl
Someday we’ll find a place here in this world

This is our temporary home
It’s not where we belong
Windows in rooms that we’re passin’ through
This is just a stop, on the way to where we’re going
I’m not afraid because I know this is our
Temporary Home.”

Carrie Underwood, Temporary Home

“I know sometimes you’re feeling lost
It’s hard to find your place in it all
But you don’t have to fear
Even when you mess up
You always got my love
I’m always right here
Oh, cause

Come what may
Don’t look back forget yesterday
Forget yesterday

It’s not where you come from
It’s where you belong
Nothin’ I would trade
I wouldn’t have it any other way
You’re surrounded
By love and you’re wanted
So never feel alone
You are home with me
Right where you belong

Don’t matter where you’ve been
You’re here for a reason”

— Kari Kimmel, Where You Belong

“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.”
— Billy Joel

Mixing and Sharing Medication

Even if you’re already feeling pretty good, music can amplify that. When I DJ, the desired effect is to mix music that lifts your spirits and makes you move. When I’m in the zone, I can alter your frame of mind, enhance your mood and get you dancing instinctively. The right songs act as a catalyst. As everything comes together just right, we share the high. The act of sharing the experience — grooving and dancing together — can bridge differences between time and space, language and culture.

JT sums up the feeling quite nicely…

“I got this feeling, inside my bones
It goes electric, wavey when I turn it on
All through my city, all through my home
We’re flying up, no ceiling, when we in our zone

I got that sunshine in my pocket
Got that good soul in my feet
I feel that hot blood in my body when it drops, ooh
I can’t take my eyes up off it, moving so phenomenally
Room on lock the way we rock it, so don’t stop…

I can’t stop the feeling
So just dance, dance, dance
I can’t stop the feeling
So just dance, dance, dance, come on

Ooh, it’s something magical
It’s in the air, it’s in my blood, it’s rushing on
Don’t need no reason, don’t need control
I fly so high, no ceiling, when I’m in my zone”

 — Justin Timberlake, Can’t Stop the Feeling!

Now that you’ve had some samples, here’s your prescription:

Assess your mood, pick a theme and create a soundtrack. You may even share your playlist on Spotify. (There are links to my playlists at the end.) For whatever ails you…cue up your playlist. Plug in. Take a lyrical hit (or two). And call me in the morning.



DJ ReCreator Mixes — Friday Flashback Series

What’s your lyric?

You have undoubtedly been inspired by a piece of music either because of the lyrics or the melodic composition. I’m always looking to take another hit and add it to my playlist. Please share in the comments section.