The Men of TTB is a series where we focus on some of the men who helped get The Tattooed Buddha off and running and also continue to keep it growing! We sent out a few interview questions to some of these writers and artists so that we could find out more about them and highlight their many talents! We recently ran the series The Women of TTB if you’d like to see more of these amazing writers!
Tell me a little about yourself. Where do you live? What is your living arrangement like?
I was born in Kansas City but spent my growing-up time on a farm in a small Missouri town called Nevada. I live in Kansas City north of the river with my awesome wife and most of our family (at one point in 2020 we had 14 folks living in our house). We have five kids and five grandkids.
How did you get into the arts/writing?
Books, newspapers, and magazines were always important to me, but I didn’t believe that such real writing was something regular folks like me did. Authors, journalists, and people like that were some higher, mythical species.
I wrote a 126 page fantasy story during my high school years, and once it was done I read it all the way through and then threw it away. I thought, “Okay, you wrote something. That’s done, hope it’s out of your system.”
I wrote for a minister friend’s religious newsletter for a couple of years in the early ’80s and loved it, even though my views angered some readers. But it wasn’t until I started a personal blog, began a weekly column on language for a non-fiction writers group, and started working with poetry and ESL writers in another group that I thought, “Hey, maybe I could be a writer.” Once Yahoo started publishing my mindfulness/mental health pieces, I was hooked.
I’ve had mental health pieces published in an Australian magazine, on a British site for men’s mental health, and on Yahoo Voices, all of which are now defunct. I truly hope I don’t cause TTB to follow the trend!
Do you meditate? What is your practice like?
I do meditate most days, sitting in a chair and breathing—I just call it Sitting With the Breath. Sometimes it only lasts a couple of minutes, sometimes longer. It’s like a long hug I give myself.
I also enjoy a form of walking meditation where you reach out with your mind and your senses, touching everything you experience on the walk and embracing your connection to all of nature and humanity.
Sometimes I meditate to re-center my mind when anxiety starts playing hacky sack with my thoughts and emotions.
How did you get into meditation?
Every mindful thing in my life, including meditation, came from my psychotherapist. He talked about various methods and benefits, demonstrated Following The Breath, then set me loose to make it my own.
Do you identify with any specific spirituality? If so, how did that happen for you? What spirituality were you raised in?
Despite grandparent efforts, my parents had no love for religion. One day in Middle School a chime went off in my head to go find God. I’ve chosen to join (and leave) both the Church of Christ and Jehovah’s Witnesses. Though a follower of Jesus, non-dogmatic interfaith/multifaith is my preferred neighborhood, which explains my lifelong admiration of chaplains. Even folks of non-faith deserve my respect.
I once told my therapist about writing for TTB. I said “It’s weird, because I’m not Buddhist.” He chuckled and replied “Anyone who practices mindfulness is Buddhist.” I’ve taken that to heart.
What are your goals in life? What do you hope to do some day? Do you have a bucket list?
I want to retire one day. I have two books that I’m working on, and I’d love to see them both published.
What do you do for a living?
I’m a career US Government employee, having spent 31 years at the Internal Revenue Service, and I joined the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in 2019 to finish it out. I enter immigration-based Freedom of Information Act requests into a computer all day.
If you could meet anyone living or dead, who would it be?
I wish I could have met Erma Bombeck. Of all the writers I’ve read and admired, she stands above them all. She had a simple style, not easy but simply direct and honest. And hilarious. Hers were the first books I ever saved money to buy.
How did you get involved with TTB? How long have you been involved with TTB?
I worked for a time with the wonderful Daniel Scharpenburg. We talked occasionally on Facebook, and eventually he invited me to submit a mindfulness article to TTB. I think that was in 2015 or so.
Anything else you would like to add about yourself?
I love watching Mystery Science Theater 3000 and its many offshoots, watching Asian horror movies, making casual conversation with strangers, playing with jumping spiders, and I’m drawn to water features. I enjoyed college, where I was torn between Physics and Psychology/Sociology until I had to stop and get a non-fast food job. I have far too varied a taste in music. I’m also a lucid dreamer. I live with depression and an anxiety disorder.
I still see myself very much as a child (even at 55), so when I have discussions with adults I can get really excited (mentally I’m bouncing around joyfully) and come across as terribly eager. It embarrasses me and I work on it, but it’ll probably never change.