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I believe you don't have to identify as an artist for honest expression to act as medicine. I call this an Anthrotonik Practice, but to understand it, we have to go all the way back to a trauma I suffered at the age of five.

The weekend had begun full of excitement. My father was an avid golfer and for the first time, he was taking my older brother and myself with him to one of his weekend tournaments. When I was told at the last minute that my brother wasn’t going to join us, it was disappointing, but I made an effort not to let it dampen my spirit.

During the whole trip, I put the exciting things we did into memory. When we came home, my dad had just opened the front door before I ran into the house and straight to our bedroom to tell my brother all the things I had seen and done.

That excitement turned to confusion when I ran into the room and all of my brother’s belongings were gone. Moments later, I heard my father walk up behind me. “Your brother went to live with your mother,” he told me.

The first thing to hit me was an overwhelming loneliness. My mom had taken my younger sister to live with her when she first moved out of the house. Now that my brother was gone, it was just me, alone.

I had always been a sensitive child and a deep need to cry was boiling inside me, but then the second thing hit me – fear. It was understood that once my father started hitting, he didn’t stop until he either got tired or my mother interceded. But she was gone, and she had taken first my sister, and then my brother. For reasons I couldn’t comprehend, one thing was clear – no one was going to save me.

I clamped down on everything I was feeling and pretended that I was okay. Days later, when I had the opportunity, I asked my mother if I could move in with her too. “There isn’t room for you,” was her response.

The physical and psychological abuse I suffered turned me into a different person by the time I was a teenager. That changed when I started playing the guitar at the age of fourteen. Being able to express all the things I was feeling, but didn't have the words for, gave me my first hope that I might have a future filled with happiness rather than violence.

Creating became my lifeline. It was the one thing I could control in a world that otherwise made no sense to me. Over the years, I went from the guitar, to songwriting, to acting, performance and page poetry, illustration, photography, and painting, before finally adding fiction writing.

This is why I call my artistic practice Anthrotonik. It is and has always been a tonic to living through the human condition. It has become my Artistic Agenda to be both an example and an educator, even to those who don't identify as an artist.

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