Paddling a Submarine vs. Living an Authentic Life 

Last night I dreamed I was paddling a canoe up a lake in the middle of the night. It was calm, I felt peaceful, yet there was one concern. The canoe was underwater. I was trying to paddle a submarine.

I’ve spent years listening to my dreams, paying attention to patterns, weighing the emotions of dreams with respect to my life at the moment. I believe larger forces speak to me in that unconscious world, forces that can guide me to awareness of deeper truths. This pushes me to wonder, why was I paddling a submarine?

I know there are many ways to interpret dreams, but ultimately, I tend to accept that my dreams are about me. Over the years, I’ve noticed that when I’m honest about how I feel in my dreams, they have given me clues to parts of me I needed to pay attention to.

Paddling a submarine. I feel this dream was about my need to live an authentic life. Paddling the canoe was me moving forward in life. My goal was to get to the end of the lake, to a state of inner peace, but I was struggling because I was keeping my emotions below the surface. If I would allow my feelings to express themselves above the water, I would have less resistance to life and my journey would be immensely easier.

I need to be genuine, original, true and trustworthy, and not be in fear of what the world may think of me in my many moments of  smallness.

Authenticity means to be honest, to be vulnerable, to take risks. Authenticity is built one day, one choice, at a time. It is a process of continually stepping out of my comfort zone and engaging the world from a place of worthiness vs. shame.

Authenticity is a daily journey into the wilderness of being fully alive.

What’s the greater risk I ask myself? Living life based on what other people think, or being vibrantly alive based on how I feel, what I believe, and who I am?

This blog, “Travels with Tio, a blind writer’s path to happiness,” is my journey, my choice, to be all of me, fully alive. It is one way I will raise myself from paddling a submarine, to paddling a canoe, to perhaps even flying.

What does authenticity mean to you? How does it affect your life?

Please share your feelings on being the authentic “you”.

tio Stib

2013, 2017, 2018

Brene’ Brown recently gave a TED talk, “Listening to Shame,” in which she explores the challenges of authenticity. Brown believes authenticity is a process, a series of choices we make in our lives, choices made each day, in each moment, to be real…or not.

Here’s the link:


Shape Shifting

the mirror of life stares back at me
a history of those times once free
the many men I’d tried to be
the many worlds I’d longed to see
so many new realities
I lived in hopes of finding me

some were good and some were bad
there were happy times and sad
joyful moments and some quite mad
questing for the dreams I had

some lasted days, some only hours
some grew from seeds to lovely flowers
but then the moment finally came
when each went up in spirit’s flame

was I born a vagabond
to never settle down for long
to never truly quite belong
heart pulled on by distant song

lovers, friends, and passersby
I’ve known them all
said my goodbyes
but now, as I face the end
I wonder if I’ll fly again

the caterpillar exists to eat
the pupa then goes off to sleep
and in its sacred, silky place
transforms into a different face

and so I build my new cocoon
as life within me starts to swoon
in hopes that with the coming moon
I will stretch my wings once more
and fly away to distant shores

so begins my every day
shape shifting in the cosmic play

tio stib
2016, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2022

You might also enjoy: Paddling a Submarine vs. Living an Authentic Life, A Friend Passes

Jumping Off

leaning out the open door
time roars by
it’s gone
no more
I wonder what my life might be
had I the courage to jump free

behind me in the train’s cocoon
dreams fly off to distant moons
faces glued to heartless screens
joyless stares and silent screams

and so we travel every day
secure and safe or so we say
the child no longer comes to play
the status quo will have its way

will I stay an untold story
remain in hopeless purgatory
pretending that I care no more
soul crying for its need to soar

then I jumped off into space
the unknown flying in my face
It’s not clear where I will land
no matter
I am free again

tio stib

2016, 2017, 2019

You might also enjoy: Life is Like a Broken Egg, Paddling a Submarine vs. Living an Authentic Life.



of fallen
rose petal


tied up
of lost


while tear drops
false maskes
from me


into mirrors
of screaming faces
shadow smiles


are dissolving

my truth
is being

tio stib, 1995, 2018

You might also enjoy: First Snow, Sometimes They Smile

Wondering What I Will Be

I wonder if I’ll ever be
happy with just plain old me
accepting what the mirror can see
surrender to reality

stop playing the re-invention game
lusting after love and fame
stop playing other people’s games
hope the world will speak my name

I wonder who I will be
when I give up on changing me
exhaust all possibilities
get up one day and let it be

tio stib

You might also enjoy: Jumping Off, A Thousand Clowns

Jumping Off

leaning out the open door
time roars by
it’s gone
no more
I wonder what my life might be
had I the courage to jump free

behind me in the train’s cocoon
dreams fly off to distant moons
faces glued to heartless screens
joyless stares and silent screams

and so we travel every day
secure and safe or so we say
the child no longer comes to play
the status quo will have its way

will I stay an untold story
remain in hopeless purgatory
pretending that I care no more
soul crying for its need to soar

then I jumped off into space
the unknown flying in my face
It’s not clear where I will land
no matter
I am free again

Tio Stib Signature

You might also enjoy : Life is Like a Broken Egg, Paddling a Submarine vs. Living an Authentic Life.

Back to Love Basics 5, Me First, Igor meets Himself

“She was everything he’d ever dreamed of, beyond all his fantasies, a woman who left him both mesmerized and drooling.

But, he’d been here before.

Sonja. Helibeth. Anna. Leticia , and countless others. They’d all taken his breath away and left his heart fluttering.

“Good God,” he prayed to the unseen force he didn’t quite believe in, “please let this be different. Give me the courage…”

And that was where it ended.


Once more, courage failed to answer his call.”

“The courage to what?” interrupted my young nephew, overwhelmed with curiosity.

I paused to study the impatient face beside me.

Then I answered, “Igor was afraid to be himself. He thought that the only way someone, especially a beautiful someone, could love him was if he made himself to be whatever they wanted him to be, and that always ended in disaster.”

“Sounds like Igor had a self-confidence problem,” said the boy whose wisdom went far beyond his years. “So what happened with this babe?”

“Max saved him.”


“Max was a mutt, a dog of no particular breed but very particular character,” I answered, thinking that my nephew and Max had a lot in common.

The boy waited, knowing there was more.

I continued, “Slouched in the apartment’s only chair,a barely padded relic that had known many previous backsides, Igor nursed a cheap beer and pondered his situation. Max lay on the apartment’s only throw rug, another well worn relic, his head resting on outstretched forelegs, sad brown eyes watching the beer can waving in the air.

The can paused and Igor stared up at the ceiling, about to say something to the great power he didn’t quite believe in. Then, remembering the futility of previous prayers, Igor gulped more beer and looked down at Max.

“Max, help me out here,” pleaded Igor, “tell me what to do!”

Suddenly brought to life by inner need to contribute, Max sprang into Igor’s lap and slobbered wet tongue kisses all over the lover wannabe’s face.

“Max! Max buddy!” gasped Igor, pushing his over zealous friend back to the floor. Then, Igor smiled, and looked up at the ceiling again.

“Thank you,” he said softly to the unseen.

I stopped and looked at my nephew.

“Is that it?” he said. “Is there some moral or adult thing I’m supposed to get out of this?”

“What do you think?”

“I think Igor is better off with his dog than with fantasy lovers who don’t accept him for who he is.”

Jeez, I thought, this kid really is smart. Why hadn’t I been able to grasp such things at his age? For that matter, why couldn’t I grasp such things when I was forty or even fifty?

“Sounds right to me,” I replied.

“Tio, does this story have something to do with you,” he asked innocently.


Tio Stib Signature

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You might also enjoy: Back to Love Basics 2, Give the Love You Want; Back to Love Basics 4, Friends First

The Comfort of Complacency

is it worth it
to have fleeting comfort
while the self
slips away
in the shadow
of complacency

is it worth it
to pretend life is good
as the price for love
to force a smile
when the heart
is screaming

can I truly exist
with the constant
drumming of defeat
deafening my spirit
killing the will
to be

what will it take
for my soul
to stand
the right to live
the truth

as I stare
into oblivion
these thoughts
keep me

tio stib, 2015

You might also enjoy: Intimacy, The Question

I’m Not A Yell Leader

Finding My True Voice

There I was, standing on the bright lit stage, alone and staring out into blackness.

A voice spoke from the dark, “Okay, you can start.”

I jumped up in the air, “Boolah boolah, boolah boolah, Holy Mackel I, West Seattle High!”

I heard a voice inside my head, “What are you doing here?”

It kept going, “Why are you , Steve the Shy Guy, trying out for yell leader?”

I heard another voice answer back, “Because it’s the cool thing to be. Because my friends are trying out. Because maybe the girls will like me if I’m a yell leader.”

I finished the routine and stopped jumping. The voice from the dark said, “Thanks, we’ll let you know.”

Standing in the hallway with the other hopefuls, I already knew the answer,  I was not a yell leader. This was soon confirmed by the posted list of new jumping jacks. My name was conspicuously absent.

In the continuing search for my authentic self I’ve discovered three ways to find my true voice.

First, discover what I’m not. The yell leader tryouts was an example of this. Yell leading was simply not my personality.

Number two on my list of finding my true voice is paying attention to what I really miss.

Last, find my bliss, what are those experiences that so stir my soul that I’m lost in ecstasy?

As a young boy, I was given a violin and told I was going to learn how to play it. I tried, but the resulting screeches drove even the dog mad. Is there any sound worse than a poorly violin? To the relief of many, I left the violin for the guitar which I found much easier to make melodious sounds. But after a time I realized that I was playing too much melancholy music. It was bringing me down. Yes, it was the sixties and there was lots of melodrama around. Then I was given a  banjo.

The musical clouds parted and I was in a world where it seems no sad songs were possible. Really, have you ever heard a sombre song on a banjo?

I took the banjo everywhere, played it on lunch breaks on construction jobs, played bluegrass at a redneck bar in nowhere, Wyoming, my banjo was my constant companion.

Then, one day in Baker City, Oregon, one of many small towns I’ve bounced through in my mobile life, it was time to move again. Time to let everything go. We had a moving sale and the house was flooded with curious treasure seekers. I noticed a young family standing in the corner admiring my banjo. I walked over and said, “Hello.” I listened to their story. The father, not even thirty, was bald yet smiling radiantly. It seems he had just beaten cancer and suddenly the family could see the wonders of life again. He told me he’d always wanted to play the banjo. The banjo wasn’t for sale, so I simply gave it to him and wished them a full and happy life.

Many miles and months later I realized I needed a banjo in my life. It was my connection to an inner joy that fed my soul. I walked into a Portland, Oregon music store and found a used banjo had just been left for resale. It became my new banjo buddy.

Yes, sometimes we don’t know how important something is until it’s gone.

My last suggestion on finding our true voice is paying attention to what fills us with bliss, what are those experiences, those encounters that stir our souls and catapult us into worlds of peace and passion?

In younger years, I was plagued with the question, what shall I do with my life? Obviously, I wasn’t going to be a yell leader. I went to college and decided to be a dentist, that seemed like a helpful profession. Then it occurred to me I could be even more helpful as a doctor and followed that path. One day I found myself sitting in a crowded room taking the med school entrance test and I heard that voice again, “Why are you here?

I looked around, but no one was obviously talking to me. The voice again, “You don’t really want to be a doctor.”

A weak voice answered, “No.”

“You can’t stand the thought of spending more years with this bunch of zealous overachievers can you?”

A feeble reply, “No.”

I walked out and became a social worker, then a YMCA director. None of this work felt right, but it didn’t feel wrong, until I discovered architecture. By chance I applied to architecture school and was accepted. From the first moment I entered that world, I knew I was home. Architecture was my bliss. Architecture was truly  my voice.

And so my life has revealed itself, I’ve found my path by discovering what I’m not, paying attention to what I’m missing, and done my best to follow my bliss. This is how I’ve found my authentic self

The epilogue to this story is that two years ago I lost my sight and with it my connection to the visual world of architecture I so long enjoyed. Admittedly, I was lost for a long time. Eventually, I began to consider the things that had guided me in life, to what had led me to my true voice, and realized I needed to start over again. I rejoined Toastmasters to surround myself with loving support and positive attitudes. There is no better place to explore one’s authenticity than in the fellowship of a Toastmasters meeting. In Toastmasters, the ultimate group to explore our authenticity.

Tio Stib Signature

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