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NL: Hi everyone. My name is Natalie Ledwell and this is The Inspiration Show. Today on the show, I have a friend of mine who’s written a transformational novel which is called “A Curious Year In the Great Vivarium Experiment”. So before we get into explaining exactly what that is and what the experiment is all about, I just want to remind you that once the show is over, don’t forget to click the link that’s below this video so that you can download the free ebook version of my bestselling book “Never In Your Wildest Dreams”. So let me introduce my special guest today Tim Shields. How are you Tim?
TS: Great. How are you?
NL: I am fantastic. Now, I actually met you through Dr. Joe Dispenza and working on his book project at that time. And you have your own book coming out now which is very curious that we need to get in to. But before we start talking about that, why don’t we get you to talk a little bit about your background and what it is that you do.
TS: Well, I was a, most of my career I spent in marketing and advertising but I got the opportunity to edit, collaborate a blog and then edit this person’s book and then that just turned in to other opportunities so I quit the 9-5 I think November 2016. And I have been working on my book for about 6 or 7 years. So far, knock on something, I left the corporate world behind and you know, right now I just took off from Seattle, I’m living in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, to start working on my next book which is a follow up to the first one.
NL: Right. So like I said, it’s a transformational novel. What, tell us the inspiration behind writing the book and what does the title mean?
TS: Well, I’m not sure if it’s a so much as an inspiration as an inciting incident but I had about a decade of sick parents. So my mother passed away, instead of going home to New Jersey for my vacations, I decided this is my time, and I had been working on a book as a book proposal, and I kept rewriting it and putting it out in the world and pulling it back and pulling it back and when that was done, I was not interested in the story so and my mother had just passed away and you know, it changes your whole life so I just wound up buying a one way ticket to India and I said, “I’m going to go find a story.” So I had enough money to travel for 3-4 months and I was just doing this gratitude and intention exercise everyday and 15 months later I came home with more money than I left with, volunteered for a guy who won 2 Nobel prizes, worked as a photographer’s assistant. All sorts of magic, as a result of that exercise.
NL: So what do you think was the contributing factor to you being able to come back to life that was better than it was before you left?
TS: I mean, anybody who travels, especially solo travel, you realize what a transformational experience it is because it’s just you and the unknown and there is nobody to take care of you, nobody to fend for yourself and you’re forced to come up with solutions and you have to force yourself to meet people if you want connection. So it just expands you in a whole new way, dimension that is not possible going to your job everyday, you know.
NL: And so, why did you choose India?
TS: Somebody had just, when I was home for my mother’s service, a friend of my sister’s was just like, “Okay, well if you want to write, you should go somewhere cheap like Dharamshala, India” and I was like, “Uh okay”. And didn’t think much more about it, but then all of a sudden, it just started showing up everywhere, you know, conversations with people, taxi drivers, etc., and I just was like alright and it was cheap. You know, I needed some place that was pretty cheap, and I was just like “Alright, here goes nothing.” Bought a one way ticket to India without a lonely planet guidebook, without a plan. The first 2 days, I was like “I just made a huge mistake” just like an out of towner like in the middle of New Delhi just like, “What have I gotten myself into, this is a terrible idea”. But it all unfolded from there.
NL: Right. And so what was some of the, I mean, India is an interesting choice, I know it is a very spiritual country and yes it’s cheap, you probably discovered why when you got there (Laughter) I know a lot of friends that have been there, but what do you think was one of the most unexpected surprises that you received by making that move?
TS: Well, I wound up volunteering for this guy who’s won the equivalent of 2 Nobel prizes and he’s probably one of the world’s most important environmental lawyers. He sued the the state of India over the course of 20 years to create a green zone around the Taj Mahal. I met this one American scientist over there who said this guy is probably the most important lawyer in India since Ghandi and I just got to hang out with him for like 2 months and you know, I just was going to volunteer when this opportunity showed, I thought I’d be sweeping floors or learning how to make hospital corner beds you know and turns out he needed a grant writer, so I hadn’t written grants but I’m like well, I’m a writer so I can figure it out. So I just got to hang out with him for 2 months and just trail him every where. Like he would go on TV shows, like talking against industry and all this stuff and I’m just sitting in the studio like “What the hell did this happened, this is incredible”. and I just, he was just such a man of principle and vision and service, and to be able to just hang out with this guy, as a guy, not as this, you know, huge public figure, was just so inspiring and simple and focused on his mission , was really incredible.
NL: Right, so who did you write the book for and what is it that you’re hoping the reader gains from actually going through your book.
TS: Well, I suppose, in the sense I wrote it for myself, but I’ve always know as a writer I have to go deep to pull out those things for other people and it’s been my sort of vision and my service to be able to tell these stories that hopefully make people think, feel, and act, and inspire them to do things, so there’s a windchime blowing, I hope that’s not too loud. (laughter)
NL: I know, it’s a lovely backdrop music.
TS: So yeah, I just totally knew I needed to do it and I knew that if you wanted to write about big things, you had to have big experiences and I always knew I had to do this giant trip, you know, and maybe it was for me to confront my fears because a lot of the book is about overcoming your fears and overcoming yourself and i mean I hope that people, so far the reception has been incredible and better than I ever could have imagined. My goal as a writer is for other people to see themselves in my experience you know, and also it’s my story but it’s not my story, I’m just kind of a messenger for this bigger message. And I’ve been fortunate to have like 2 incredible mentors who have given me a tool box of language to be able to express this for other people.
NL: So what is a great vivarium experiment, what does that mean?
TS: Well, there is this permanent art installation near where I live in Seattle, in the Seattle Sculpture Garden, it’s part of the art museum. And I was in there one day, and this nurse log that had fallen and they had created this structure around it that stimulates the natural environment, and on my way home, I would always just walk through there and one day I was in there and I was like, “Oh my God, this is the concept, you know, I asked the guy what the vivarium was and then I looked up the definition and the definition is a place for live animals or plants stimulating their natural environment as for research and that was the thing, and I was like “This is our life’s journey”, inside the vivarium is our life’s journey but outside it, it’s a much bigger thing, which is consciousness which is the organizing of principle of matter and how we are all connected. So obviously the big year takes places in exactly, I mean, the book takes places in exactly 1 year. So inside the vivarium is our life’s journey and that’s for research, for screwing up, it’s for learning, it’s for growing, hopefully moving towards our spiritual self and yeah, I kind of lost my trail of thought but you get the point there.
NL: Yeah. From what it sounds like it’s like even though we’re having this one year which is like the petri dish of our life, it’s part of a bigger thing but it’s yeah, something that you’ve been able to really focus on and being able to share that experience to help others and elevate consciousness…
TS: Sorry to cut you off but inside the vivarium, the experiment was that I was doing this gratitude intention journal, and I had no itinerary, I had no idea, and we had a bunch of fear that I was trying to overcome. So the experiment was seeing what unfolds when you use gratitude and intention to create this path.
NL: Alright. So what do you believe is, you know, people should do to be able to move through fear, I mean obviously you’ve faced your fear by moving to India, and I think everyone doesn’t need to move to India to be able to do that, and I’m sure you agree. But what are some of the hints or tips that you can give to people that are facing fear in their life?
TS: Well, I kind of learned, sort of a, I have a thing with buffaloes and I just learned something interesting about them and it’s that buffaloes run in to the storm as opposed to running away from the storm, and I think most of us all our lives are trying to run away from the storm whatever that is, and I know I have, I know I have been for many years, and it’s like, you can’t run away, you have to face it, and it’s almost you know, when you face this thing and you move into it and through it, you realize whatever that is in your own personal life, like that’s not as big as I thought it was, and that is just the tool for me to expand and to grow and to ascend or whatever. So I would say, you know, doing things that, my mother was like this beautiful but very catholic but fearful woman, and you know, she kind of had Alzheimer’s and dementia, couldn’t really speak that much anymore. My sister always says like maybe a lot of the things you do are done to swing that pendulum of fear like I took off and volunteered at an orphanage in Tanzania, I started a band when I couldn’t really play guitar, like I did improv, and you know, all these things were like terrifying to me but so I don’t know, I think like by moving in to the fear and facing the fear you can’t help but grow. And that’s what we’re doing here I think right?
NL: Absolutely, every minute of every day, hopefully.
TS: Exactly, yeah.
NL: So can you share an experience that you had in India that was really like you know, transforming for you?
TS: Like I don’t know if I can pinpoint one exact experience I mean, I spent the first 3 months in India and then I was all over South East Asia, so I just the transformative thing was writing these things in my journal and seeing them appear in my life like sometimes I was so connected they would show up like at the end of the day. And you know, just really seeing the power of gratitude and intention just to shape our external reality, and our state of being is our I mean, our external world is a reflection of our, you know, if you’re a miserable person all the time, you’re going to have miserable experiences in your external world. So I mean the book is about overcoming yourself and overcoming that fear so you know you just jump in to the fear, it’s the only way, it’s the only way.
NL: Yeah. And so what is your experience as being as a result of jumping in to that fear, what’s on the other side?
TS: Love, connection, freedom, the fruition of your dreams, I mean, I’ve been thinking about this since I was like, thing about writing this book since I was like 17 years old. And I think the, I kind of wrote that the power of a dream, this 17 year old kid who wanted to be a writer was like shooting a grappling hook from the past in to the future. And all though I took a very long and zigzag-y way to get there, that power of that intention was just pulling me forward all the time, you know. But it has to be fueled, it has to be refueled all the time with staying on point of what you actually want to do. And I don’t know, I always knew I could do this but there was that fear, I’m like this is never going to happen and I’m stuck and I’m in debt, stuck in a corporate world you know. But I think you just keep going and you keep going and you know, using tools like the mind movie and Dr. Joe’s working stuff like that. It helps keep you on point and really I mean, I started doing Dr. Joe’s work in 2010 and that’s really kind of where my life started to change and then I committed, I really committed to meditate like everyday probably like 2014 maybe, 2015 and the moment I got back from my first events workshop, everything started lining up to bring this book to fruition. And actually one of my mind movies, I was like I wanted to create a mentor, and Dr. Joe shows up in my life so it was like What?
NL: Yeah. That’s so amazing. Tim, thank you for joining us today, I really appreciate chatting to you. Now, if people want to connect with you or get their hands on the book with, where can we send them to do that?
TS: acuriousyear.com is my website and there’s a beautiful trailer that was shot in India on it and my instagram is inkandedit, like a writer, inkandedit.com. You can find me on facebook. You can also put in to facebook the beingexperiement which is something I kind of created and they can learn about that but it’s about creating a state of being and embodying that throughout the day. So yeah, acuriousyear.com is the best way though and instagram.
NL: Awesome. Well thanks again Tim. It’s been awesome chatting to you.
TS: Yeah. Thank you so much for your time.
NL: Yeah. Now guys, I encourage you, please share this video, let’s get the word out. You can do that by clicking the Facebook and the Twitter share buttons on this page. Now you can click the either the banner to the side or the link underneath this video to go directly to Tim’s website so you can find out more. And don’t forget after all of that is over, click the link below that so that you can download the free ebook version of my bestselling book, Never In Your Wildest Dreams. So until next time, remember to live large, choose courageously, and love without limits. We’ll see you soon.