Listen to my latest podcast episode:

807: Shrink Your Fat Cells & Fix Your Metabolism – With Dr. Benjamin Bikman

TMHS 430: Get Creative During Chaos & How To Inquire Within – With Guest IN-Q

For many folks around the world, right now is an immensely challenging time. Many of us are doing our best to make the most of a complicated situation. No matter what hardship you’re facing, there’s always the chance to seek out the opportunities that often present themselves during difficult seasons. 

Today you’re going to learn about tapping into your genius, cultivating your creativity, and the role of gratitude and love during adversity. Our guest is award-winning poet, multi-platinum songwriter, and influential thought leader, IN-Q. He’s sharing transformational lessons about evolving as a person and finding your creative genius.

This interview is an in-depth look into how you can make authentic changes that add value and improvement to the world around you. You’ll also hear some of IN-Q’s thought-provoking poetry and the inspiration behind his powerful and insightful book. So listen in, take good notes, and get ready to learn from the one and only, IN-Q. 

In this episode you’ll discover:

  • How hip-hop and freestyling can serve as a form of meditation. 
  • The origin story of IN-Q’s book. 
  • Why art can be like alchemy. 
  • How to transform pain into beauty and art. 
  • Why now is the time to foster your own creativity. 
  • How to cultivate more creativity in your life. 
  • Where to find inspiration for creating art. 
  • Why having a creative outlet is necessary at this point in time. 
  • How adaptation can make us stronger and more compassionate. 
  • The importance of being cognizant of the people you surround yourself with.
  • Why gratitude is necessary in every aspect of life. 
  • How to find the opportunities in challenging moments. 
  • Different ways to define love. 
  • The importance of being in service to others and growing as a person. 



Items mentioned in this episode include:

Thank you so much for checking out this episode of The Model Health Show. If you haven’t done so already, please take a minute and leave a quick rating and review of the show on Apple Podcast by clicking on the link below. It will help us to keep delivering life-changing information for you every week!


Shawn Stevenson: Welcome to The Model Health Show. This is fitness and nutrition expert, Shawn Stevenson and I'm so grateful for you tuning in today. Today is going to be a treat. This is a different kind of episode that we've ever done, and this episode today is really dedicated to everyone out there who is working to make the most of a very complicated situation that we're all going through as a world community and finding creative ways to overcome our challenges because right now we are all facing a great challenge, but it's also a great opportunity to create a better world, a better family structure, a better structure for our communities and better structures for health and happiness within ourselves, and one of the things that I really want to do on upcoming episodes of The Model Health Show is to highlight genius and to reiterate the fact that we all have genius within us, we all have the capacity for greatness and for genius, and to see people and their gifts and also to share some of their biggest, most profound insights on how they got from point A to point Z.

That's a lot in between there, it could've been A to B, but we're going A to Z. And so really excited about this episode, we're going to be sharing some very special segments, some very special treats for you throughout this episode, and again, just... It's such an important time and we need to get a multitude of perspectives and a multitude of voices, and it's definitely... We've got one of the most insightful, thoughtful voices in the world today with our special guest. And as you know, we also got to keep our nutrition on point. This is a continuous thread throughout the Model Health Show and our mission.

Because our brains and our bodies, what you see in the mirror, it's the food that you eat, that's what we're made of, we're literally made of the stuff that we put into our bodies and that is such a profound responsibility and it's also a profound opportunity to decide what are we making our immune cells out of, what are we making our brain cells out of, what are we making our fat cells out of. And I wanted to share this with you today, because at this point, even if it's in your spice cabinet, most people have heard about turmeric and some of the really powerful anti-inflammatory properties, specifically with curcumin, which is one of the isolated nutrients, and it's a wide array of nutrients that's contained within turmeric, but curcumin is one of those has been studied, so much clinical evidence for its effectiveness to help to reduce inflammation.

And we know that the current virus that is on the tip of everybody's tongue right now, it is defined as a hyper-inflammatory disease, a hyper-inflammatory triggering viral condition, and your body is what creates the inflammation in response to viruses, in response to bacterial infections, our bodies are what control inflammation, but oftentimes it can become hyper-inflammatory or the state of chronic inflammation, and so having access to things like this can be very powerful for so many different things, but what I wanted to share with you, it's not just that anti-inflammatory component, a lot of people don't realize that turmeric and curcumin have very surprising anti-obesity properties as well. A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition uncovered that in addition to down-regulating inflammatory cytokines, curcumin is also able to up-regulate the activity of adiponectin.

You're going to hear a lot about adiponectin in the upcoming months and years because it's a very powerful satiety-related hormone. So part of the reason when we're modulating and deciding what we're going to eat, our cravings, the food choices we make, it's largely regulated or controlled by our feelings of satiety, and adiponectin is one of these really profound satiety hormones that curcumin and turmeric have the ability to interact with, and up-regulate their function to help increase fat burning and also to increase satiety. And turmeric has been found in of itself to improve insulin sensitivity, reduce blood fats, and directly act upon body fat cells. Now again, we know about turmeric and curcumin for their anti-inflammatory benefits, but they also are anti-obesity as well. And I want to share this other study with you guys, this was published in the Journal Current Pharmaceutical Design revealed that compounds of turmeric have a massive impact on downregulating interleukin 6, and interleukin 6 is specifically being targeted right now for COVID-19 therapies because it's such a big role player in this inflammatory response in the body. And we have something that we have access to right now that helps to target the things that create this hyper-inflammatory condition.

So for myself, my family, we've got this in our cupboard at all times, we utilize an incredible superfood blend from Organifi called Organifi Gold. Alright Organifi Gold, the highlight, the main ingredient is a supercritical extract of turmeric, so you get all of the phytonutrients that come together because it's not just curcumin, it's the co-factors that make it so effective within the body, so it's a supercritical extract of organic turmeric, also contains Reishi, which we've known that study after study is affirming its benefits for helping to reduce the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, the fight or flight and bringing that down, and also improving sleep quality, and also we've got coconut milk in there, and so many other compounds, it tastes delicious.

Adding some hot water to it, it's a delicious tea that a lot of people have before bed to help them to relax, to chill out, and it's delicious, and also I'm a big fan of having it with... You can have it with almond milk, unsweetened almond milk, or cashew milk, you can milk everything now, and I sometimes think about somebody like trying to milk... To do a little teeny little milking of flax seed...

How do you do that? But real talk, we used to make... We had, and this is probably the worst product name ever invented, but it's called a Nut Milk Bag... A Nut Milk Bag, and we would make our own nut milks. And again, coming into the game, I didn't know you could milk anything but a cow, but right now you can get so many different options on store shelves. But have that along with the Organifi Gold, it's just wonderful, it tastes amazing, and you get all of these benefits that we're talking about as well, study after study's affirming how powerful curcumin and turmeric are. But are you using it? It's one of the most effective things for reducing inflammation, and pretty much every chronic disease you can name as an inflammatory component, and it makes us susceptible to everything else. So this is why I'm such a huge fan of this, and also I'm a huge fan of enjoying the process of getting well while we're getting in the medicinal foods. That's the secret. That shouldn't be a secret. We should enjoy the process of getting healthy, and so head over to and you get 20% off the Organifi Gold blend.

And they also have the Organifi Chocolate Gold formula. And right now, guys, we're moving into the fall, so you know what they got for you, it's that time of year again, they got the Pumpkin Spice Gold available limited time, but this is the time to take action to get the pumpkin spice blend if you're into that. It's a vibe, it's that fall vibe. We were just talking with some friends yesterday, and they were wondering about how is winters in Missouri? Fall is beautiful, Spring is beautiful, but they will trick you because as they said in Game of Thrones, winter is coming. Alright, winter is coming, and it takes no prisoners.

And they were asking like, "How cold does it get?" We're like, "Negatives." I saw their mind blow, and then go back into their head, they've never even heard of such things, just being from California and not really traveling very much except to places where there's beaches at, but it's a different vibe but man, that pumpkin spice blend on a nice fall or winter day in Missouri... It's a vibe, it's a real vibe, but no matter where you are in the world, you could utilize it, it's available right now for a limited time. And again, it's one of my favorite things Organifi Gold, they've got the Organifi Red blend, the green juice formula as well. So much good stuff over there, pop over there, check them out, it's, you get 20% off everything they carry, and now let's get to the Apple Podcast review of the week.

iTunes Review: Another five-star review titled, “Best in the Business” by Jorge_C4. “Shawn Stevenson breaks everything down to its core in a fun and simple way everyone can understand, no matter the background knowledge one may already have. As a health and science enthusiast myself, I learn more applicable health and science information by listening to Shawn than in my college-level science classes. Shawn Stevenson and the Model Health Show are the best out there, and it's a must listen to every week.”

Shawn Stevenson: Awesome, thank you so much for leaving that message over on Apple Podcast, I appreciate it immensely, and if you've yet to do so, please pop over to Apple Podcast and leave a review for the show, and on that note, let's get to our special guest and topic of the day. Today's guest is IN-Q, and he's an award-winning poet, best-selling author, and multi-platinum songwriter. His groundbreaking achievements include being named to Oprah's Super Soul 100, list of the world's most influential thought leaders, and being the first spoken word artist to perform with Cirque du Soleil, and being featured on A&E, ESPN, HBO's Deaf Poetry Jam, and so much more. And he's inspired audiences all around the world through his live performances and storytelling workshops, and many of his recent poetry videos have gone viral with over 70 million views combined.

And what I wanted to do today is again was to highlight genius, and to bring in different perspectives, different voices, so that we can have healthier higher level conversations to help to solve some of the problems that we're all experiencing right now. And I wanted to kick this show off with something a little different and something special, and to lead into this conversation, we've got an incredible piece with a very powerful message that resonates with me deeply about superpowers. To kick things off, I'd like to introduce you to my guest IN-Q.

IN-Q: When I think of superheroes, I think of superhuman. I think of Superman, Black Panther, and Wonder Woman. Usually, they have a cape or a mask to hide their face. They have x-ray vision and superhuman strength. Some can even breathe in outer space, they fly around a while, but they always come back to keep our cities safe. They're here to save humanity from itself. It's a metaphor for how we look outside ourselves for help. And while the fantasies are fun, I choose to look to me and you. Yeah, we love superheroes, but we have superpowers too. Oooh! I mean, it starts with being open to this moment, if you do, then you can own it besides it'll be gone before you know it, so don't blow it, you owe it to this second of eternity to show up, embrace the possibilities and slow up. Take a breath, look around, see the sights, hear the sounds, feel the ground, notice how the gravity holds you down. You could be anywhere in the world and yet you're here when you embrace it as your own, you can overcome any fear and real courage is looking into the mirror, it's deciding what you want to do, then making it appear, it's creating out of thin air, you must be doing something right if you got scared.

Otherwise, you wouldn't care. It's a process to get here to there, we're on the journey and we're learning, but building muscle means you're going to feel some burning. So don't deny it, simplify it, try it, see if it can work for you. Change perspective to get a different view, and don't forget, you got to laugh at the truth.

'Cause sometimes a sense of humor is the only thing that pulls you through. It's medicine if you can let it in. An attitude of gratitude will bubble up from within, so even when the storm clouds black the blue from your sky you'll remember that the sun is waiting for you on the other side, and having fun is something we must decide. From the lows to the highs, it's all a part of the ride. I could throw my hands up or I could hold on for dear life, but I'd rather live once than have to go to hell twice. Compassion is my passion, empathy is my gift, but my growth is incremental as my consciousness shifts, so I create from the abyss turning my pain into gold, I'm an alchemist, an optimist, and an authentic soul. I believe that life is good.

Even when it hurts to see. I believe in superpowers, and I believe in you and me. I believe in superheroes, but I don't look for them above, 'cause they exist inside us all, and we save the day with love. Keep loving through your sadness, keep loving through your fears. Keep loving through your anger. Keep loving through your tears. Keep loving through your failure. Keep loving through success. Keep loving through anxiety. Keep loving through distress. Keep loving through rejection. Keep loving through mistrust. Keep loving through the changes. Keep loving through the death. Keep loving through your movement. Keep loving through your breath. Keep loving until loving is the only thing that's left.

Shawn Stevenson: Can we all, let's go! Oh my God. But the first thing I want to know, man, we've got so many mutual friends, a lot of people have told me about you, and then, of course, I've picked your book up and I opened it to a certain poem, which we'll talk about in a minute, that we had... I was like this is my brother from another... But I wanted to start with your superhero origin story because what you do is so unique, it's so profound, so beautiful, so needed. But how did you get into this space in the first place? There's a gift there with language, with words, with thought... Does this is having origin in music, like how did this all get started for you?

IN-Q: Well, first of all, thank you for having me, man, I appreciate it. I grew up in Santa Monica, California, and my mom's a school teacher, my father was not around at all, and I didn't meet him until I was 15. And I would say when I was 14, I really fell in love with hip-hop. And freestyling with my friends became an everyday activity, and it was really my first form of meditation because I think it put me in the moment like nothing else can, whether you're in a battle with somebody else or you're just in a cipher, or you're just doing it on your own, you have to think about the next line and the next rhyme, and so it really drops you in. And I think it was an avenue to express all of the unresolved thoughts and emotions that I kind of trapped in my system. And then when I was 19, I wound up in an open mic for poets, in LA called Da Poetry Lounge, and it turned out to be one of the biggest, if not the biggest open mics in the country. So before the quarantine, still to this day, they were getting like 350 people every Tuesday night that would show up and listen to people who would get up on stage from signing up on a list and just spit their poetry, and it was like church without religion.

And it was the first time that I saw people being celebrated for their vulnerability, and so I just got up and I started doing my rapping acapella and people responded. So, over the years of me going back because I was hooked, we won the National Poetry Slam Championships in '04, and I was on HBO's Def Poetry Jam, and one day I just kind of woke up and realized I was more of a poet than an emcee and that was the beginning of the poetic journey.

Shawn Stevenson: Man, that's a great story, man. But you tied in there as well growing up with a mother, single parent...

IN-Q: Yeah.

Shawn Stevenson: Home. Was it just you and her?

IN-Q: Yeah.

Shawn Stevenson: And not meeting your pops, you said until 15?

IN-Q: Yup.

Shawn Stevenson: So what was that experience like? Of course, you have a piece or two is kind of thread into to other things in the book, and by the way, 'Inquire Within', pick up his incredible book of poetry, it just puts you in a whole vibe, each poem.

IN-Q: Thank you, man.

Shawn Stevenson: And how does it feel, before we get to that, how does it feel to have your book out there in the world in bookstores?

IN-Q: It was interesting, my now fiancée, I was going to say my girlfriend, but my now fiancée...

Shawn Stevenson: You're correct. Excellent.

IN-Q: Which is, by the way, fun as to say that.

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah.

IN-Q: We literally say to each other all the time. "My fiancée, what would you like to eat, my fiancée?" Anyway, we got engaged like a month ago, and so two days ago, she decided to take me to Barnes & Noble. And it was the first time that I've actually seen the book inside of a store because it literally came out during the height of the fear and the anxiety around the global pandemic. It came out at the end of March, so people were really uncertain about how things were going to progress at that point. And of course, everything went into shut down, and so all of these shows that I had and all of these plans to do signings and to be with the community and the fans and to connect with people, changed into a screen. And while that's been amazing, I wouldn't say that it's been as satisfying as actually sitting with people and talking to them and getting their energy and performing for a big crowd.

And even being in a space where the book was being displayed, so it was bittersweet, to be quite honest, it was like I walked in and I saw it and I was really proud of it, because it's the first time I've ever had a home for my art, but it's also five months later. And I guess everybody has their own specific challenges and journey during this time, and as we were discussing before, there's an enormous amount of things that I've learned from it, but the long answer to your question is, I'm proud of this book, and it was medicine for me to write, and it's been medicine for people to read.

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, as it should be. And I think that certain books are eternal. They just stand the test of time. I think a lot of people are going to be picking your book up, sharing it for a long time, they're going to... It's one of those books that can sit on the table, people can pick it up, jump to a certain piece, and just get something visceral out of it.

IN-Q: Thank you, man.

Shawn Stevenson: And I think this ties really well into what I was going to ask you about, because there's been a dynamic of solitude or not being able to connect in the way that you intended or wanted to do, and going back to the story with your pops, and meeting him for the first time at 15. I think a lot of your work... It's kind of cathartic. I can sense that there's a feeling of therapy in it, and there's a thread of personal development in it, and I think that's what resonates with me, with the friends that we have, mutual friends, is because we're all really passionate about becoming better and learning from things. How has that experience affected your work and did you intend on creating work that has a personal development kind of life force to it, or did it evolve along the way?

IN-Q: It definitely evolved along the way. I would say I was always interested in exploring my truth, whatever that was, whenever that was, wherever that was. But I would say the personal development came from me growing as a human being, and as I grew as a human being, I started growing as a writer. I remember a specific story that I actually talk about in the book. I must have been in my mid-20s or something like that, and I just had a break-up. And so I came back to my house and I was going to write a break-up poem. I was like, "I'm going to write my break-up poem."

So I sit down and I like... Right before I started writing, I thought, maybe I should actually read over some of my old break-up poems first. And I'm embarrassed to admit, but I had nine of them. Not nine different relationships but nine different break-up poems, so I literally read them in a row, out loud to myself in this dimly lit apartment. And when I finished, I was like, okay, all of my old break-up poems are applicable to my current break-up. It was in that moment that I realized I didn't need to write a new break-up poem, I needed to figure out why I was continuing to create the same lesson in a different disguise over and over again.

And I think art, at its highest level, is alchemy. It's about not ignoring the pain and suffering of you or the world, it's about accepting it, acknowledging it, honoring it, and then creating from it, rather than perpetuating it. And I realized, I guess at that time, that a lot of my writing was perpetuation of my pain, and I didn't want to come from that place anymore for myself or for my audience. That was one example of a conscious inflection point that changed how I was writing and how I was sharing.

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah. Profound, man. And for me, this brings up the poem that really got me, I was like, I got to call him right away and connect with you. When I saw the title of the poem is Uncle Larry, and I was like... And my wife knows this, I've said this so many times that everybody has an Uncle Larry. And it's a generalization, but just that person might be an uncle, might just be a friend of the family, they just tend to... They tend to come into the situation and cause problems.

IN-Q: Make worse.

Shawn Stevenson: Make worse, exactly. For my Uncle Larry, and literally, your title of it is Uncle Larry, is your Uncle Larry and my Uncle Larry... And my Uncle Larry, every holiday, it's going to be a fight. It's going to... The police are going to be there at the Stevenson household. It's guaranteed. Why do we keep inviting him? This is what I would think, at this point. But I just accepted it as normal. Uncle Larry's going to come through and cause problems, but he's also been a great example of what not to be, what not to do. He was... There's this thing about the Stevenson’s as well. I've referred to him as like Wolverine. He's been shot, stabbed, on drugs for decades.

IN-Q: He's invincible.

Shawn Stevenson: Like hardcore, right. He has this thread of invincibility, but one of the most visceral moments from growing up is when my Uncle Larry, he was poor so... We visited him in jail. One of my first memories is, visiting him... He lived in the projects, and the smell of the elevator, just the piss smell. But, one of the best memories is, I think I was maybe around 9 or 10, and we went to visit him at this rehab center, and they had an arcade and a bowling alley. I didn't trip off of the fact that we're there for this negative situation, and that this man is milking it because he knows when he gets out, he's going to do some crack. But, for me, it was just such a joyous experience to be able to... Having a childhood, where you don't have video games and this kind of access, to be able to have a good time and have fun, all under the guise of something negative. There's still, beauty there. There's still opportunity there. You know what I mean? Your Uncle Larry, you wrote a poem about him.

IN-Q: I did it, but I was going to ask you, do you have a relationship with him now? Like what's...

Shawn Stevenson: Every now and then, we will connect. But, first of all, he's still alive. That's just a miracle in and of itself, and I think he's progressed somewhat away from the stuff that he was on before.

IN-Q: That's good.

Shawn Stevenson: But, yeah so bless up to Uncle Larry. But your Uncle Larry, the word that comes in mind when reading it and remembering it, is Magnum PI.

IN-Q: That's exactly... That's how I looked at him. And by the way, when I was like nine years old, I was at the movies. This is some random. And I saw Tom Selleck from Magnum PI, and I went up to him and I said, "Can I have an autograph?" And he said, "No."

Shawn Stevenson: Wow, come on! To a kid? Tom Selleck?

IN-Q: To this day... Tom Selleck!  To this day. No.

Shawn Stevenson: You feel the same way I feel about Tom Hanks.

IN-Q: Oh really, you met Tom Hanks?

Shawn Stevenson: I just said this on the show like two weeks ago. I didn't meet him. But everybody loves Tom Hanks.

IN-Q: Yeah.

Shawn Stevenson: Except this guy.

IN-Q: What happened?

Shawn Stevenson: Except me. I just decided, 'cause I love everybody. I was like, I got to have somebody I don't like. So I picked Tom Hanks.

IN-Q: That's a good person to pick because he's almost impossible not to like.

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah. I've been with Tom since... Was it Perfect Strangers, was that the name of the show? Oh Bosom Buddies.

IN-Q: Bosom Buddies.

Shawn Stevenson: Bosom Buddies.

IN-Q: Yeah.

Shawn Stevenson: Such a talented, talented human being, but... So the Uncle Larry, and then when I hit you up, you was... You kind of didn't believe me. You was like, "You have an Uncle Larry?"

IN-Q: It was crazy!

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah.

IN-Q: And then I was like, and his actual name is Uncle Larry. It's not like a metaphor for... Yeah, my Uncle Larry has passed now, but I didn't find that out until the book came out, because nobody was in contact with him, not my mom, not his kids. And I always have to be careful when I'm talking about that stuff out loud 'cause I want to make sure I'm not sharing anyone else's business, but my experience with him was just...

We would always go to Florida for holidays to visit our grandparents, well, my grandparents, her parents, my mom's parents. And we had this game that we would always play, where the adults would hide the presents, and the kids would search for them. And I was like eight or something like that. And so, me and my buddy were looking around for our presents, and I, of course, wind up at the bottom of my grandfather's closet, and I find the shoe box and I opened it up and, unbeknownst to me at the time, Uncle Larry had hid a gun at the bottom of the closet, and it was loaded. And I thought it was my present, so I picked it up and, I pointed it at my friend and I tried to pull the trigger. And luckily, it was on safety. Luckily, there was a safety.

Shawn Stevenson: Right. Right.

IN-Q: And then I remember going out in the living room and just being like, "Hey, is this my present?" And everybody was on the couches and they all got up and they were like, "Put down the gun." It was like a whole scene. That's one of my visceral memories of Uncle Larry. But we never really knew what he did for a living. Every single time I'd see him, he had a different career. He was like, "Hey, I started a bread business." And then I'd come back the next summer, and he's like, "I'm into fish now. I got a whole fish department at the... " Like that type of thing.

Shawn Stevenson: Oh my god. Hustler. Uncle Larry's a hustler.

IN-Q: Yeah. He was a hustler. Yeah.

Shawn Stevenson: Again, same thread. Sounds very familiar, very familiar. The story that I shared on the show was my Uncle Larry, for those who know about the phenomenon with crack cocaine, we know that when somebody is on crack, they will find a way to be... They'll sell anything, and steal anything, so it was like one of those things like, if Uncle Larry coming over, you have to hide everything. But... And I didn't know this until after the fact, but I came home one day, had always wanted a Rottweiler. There was a Rottweiler puppy, and I named the dog appropriately because of my mindset at the time, Felony. That was my dog. And so, I would go to school and I'm doing my work and I'm dreaming, "I can't wait to see Felony when I get home. I miss my dog." And, long story short, about two weeks later, I came home, the dog is gone. I'm flipping out. I'm like, "Where is... Where did the dog go?" And Uncle Larry had stolen the dog.

IN-Q: Oh, that's rough, man.

Shawn Stevenson: And the owners had retrieved it. And so, yeah.

IN-Q: That's rough.

Shawn Stevenson: There's many experiences like that over the years with the hustle, but he always found a way to survive.

IN-Q: Yeah. Yeah.

Shawn Stevenson: For you to put that in the book, it really connected with me. But the way that you articulate these things, it's like it puts you there. You're very... It's just... It's such a gift, man, such a blessing. And I want to ask you, this is one of the main reasons I wanted to have you on, because right now, the world is in such a strange smoothie. It's like a blender. Michael Beckwith, when he was here, he's like, "The world is fluxed up," but it creates opportunity, there's always opportunity within the chaos and the challenge. And so, I really feel that this is calling forward, a need for us to tap into our creativity, to problem-solve in our own lives, to problem-solve in the lives of our families in our communities, and the nation as a whole, the planet as a whole, and to think differently than we ever had before.

And so I really feel like you're a master of creativity and tapping into that. And I've got a feeling that there is something that's effortless that happened somewhere along the lines here. So, I'm just going to pass this to you. What can we do for ourselves? Number one, how do you think creativity applies today, and why do you feel it's important? And number two, How can we cultivate more of that in our lives?

IN-Q: Well, I think creativity is necessary today. I would say now more than ever, in terms of my lifetime, but this been much crazier before I even existed. But it's easier to hate than it is to create. And that's what's happening right now, is you have a lot of people out there who... They hate together because it feels like love, but it's not. And instead of hating, you can take that energy and transform it. You can alchemize into something else. And in that way, it's a gift to yourself, it's a gift to the people around you. And it's a gift to humanity. And I think everybody gets an opportunity to choose what they want to put that energy into, but I think that it's a responsibility right now to transform that energy. Otherwise, it sits inside of us, it becomes what we've talked about before, disease, or we take it out on other people in traffic, when it has nothing to do with them, or we make other people wrong, when maybe they just have a different opinion.

And instead of connecting to the empathy and the compassion of the person that's in front of you, we start making up stories or pushing our fears outward, and then they become this monster rather than a human being. And I think artists are stewards of that creative energy that's floating around. And I think that all of us are artists. I think all of us are poets, I think all of us are singers, all of us are story tellers. And even if all you do is storytelling, you are an artist. Your whole entire life is your masterpiece, and so I think finding ways to have a creative outlet, as I said, is necessary right now.

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah. And so for all of us, for the average person who... Right now, we've got currently, and things haven't even unfolded in their biggest fashion yet, over 40 million people unemployed. We've got so many children that don't have access to education right now in the same fashion, or at all, in some instances, and parents trying to navigate those circumstances as well, and trying to find a creative way to figure out these problems, your creativity... How can the average person do find a way or tap into... Because I'm just going to say this, I think that we tend to go back and think that "I don't have the resources." And it immediately limits us, and I think that this is a time for us to be more resourceful, but we have to become more creative. What are some of the things that we can do to cultivate our own creativity?

IN-Q: Well, that's why I like poetry and hip-hop in general, because you really don't need anything... Not as a creator. To produce something, yes, of course. But to write something, you literally, wherever you are, you can sit down and start writing. You have all the tools that you need with a piece of paper and a pen, or a phone. And so, it starts with paying attention to the things that you're inspired by, the things that you are moved by, or the things that really piss you off. And if you create from that place, the rest of the poem or the rap will almost write itself, if you give it enough time and space.

People overcomplicate creation, because creation... Not to be too esoteric, but if you're looking at a blank page, it's really infinite possibilities, and infinite possibilities can be scary for people. They're like, "I don't want it. I'll just go over here." But if you come to the page with something that you're already thinking about and moving through your system, then you're already able to plug into the outlet. You have a pre-made structure, so that's what I tell people, is just pay attention to your life. If you're not inspired by life, you're probably not paying attention, because I guarantee, some is moving you throughout the day, but you just kind of let it flow by. You have to grab it, and then you have to bring it into the world, because then, other people can see the mirror of their own humanity in the art that you've created, and it doesn't matter if it's great. It just has to be true. If it's true, it's great. I'd rather listen to someone who's true than someone who's brilliant, but not fully sharing something that's real and vulnerable to them, So... Yeah.

Shawn Stevenson: Man, I just had a huge... When I saw you grab in the air, I think there's these concepts historically like a muse or there's inspiration that's outside of ourselves, and I think... No, I mean, I know if we look at even what's happening with quantum physics and the idea that we carry of the human brain, let alone the mind, which is two different things really, because there's a consciousness in my toes that I'm aware of. Like my mind extends everywhere, it's beyond just my brain. But we know that our ideas and our reality, our perceptions, there's a lot that exist inside of our brain, but there are certain things that aren't residing inside of your physical vessel that you have access to, there's a lot of stuff like “floating in the cloud”. You know what I mean? And the fact that if you look at string theory or just, there's so many different areas with quantum physics of how we're connected and how we can share ideas or have the same feelings or thought processes. Even yesterday, when I woke up in the morning, I was thinking of a song, like I was singing it in my head, and she said that. My wife literally said it. There was no context for her to say the name of that song, to sing the song or to use that verse, and it's happened to us so many times. Could this just be because we were together of... I'm a scientist, an analytical thinker, so I'm always trying to talk myself out of that being real.


IN-Q: Well, who's to say that you guys aren't sharing dreams at night? What is a dream? How is it contained to our body? If there's more empty space in everything that's matter, in and out, more empty space in the universe, then on some level, we're all just a sea of consciousness and a sea of energy. So you can imagine your dreams almost like dancing at night. It's like even interesting, too, when couples or you know how somebody will be like, "Oh, you wind up looking like your dog or your dog winds up looking like you. Or couples wind up... " It's interesting. It's like an interesting thing, like how we actually evolve together.

Shawn Stevenson: We become who we're around.

IN-Q: Yeah, which is exactly what you were saying earlier, which is a very interesting point. I think we have all those mutual friends because we're seekers. We are always looking to find ways to be better versions of ourselves. And when you're around other people that do that, it doesn't matter to me... Success, I don't have any... I don't need someone to be rich or need someone to be famous or need... All of that's boring. Someone who's a seeker. That's really interesting to me. And so, to anybody who's listening to this, if you find yourself around people who are very satisfied with the way that things are, that will rub off on you. And there's nothing wrong with that, per se. I'm not making a right or a wrong thing, but you have to decide for yourself what kind of life you want to live. So I try to be around people that when I leave the conversation, I'm sparked. And hopefully, I can do the same for them.

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, facts, man, facts. Even before we got rolling, man, I'm just over like, "Oh, man, it so profound."

IN-Q: You have a responsibility to your truth and to your wisdom, to put that out into the world.

Shawn Stevenson: We've got so much more to come, everybody. Sit tight. We got to take a quick break. We'll be right back.

For years, people will come into my office wanting to get programs designed for improving their health and wellness and accomplishing their goals. But the biggest question that people would ask me is, "Shawn, what can I take for more energy?" Now, what I first express to them, is that humans don't necessarily get energy, we create energy, through our interaction with food and nutrients, and also through our movement. Even as I'm moving now, I'm generating something called piezoelectricity. It's a form of energy. It's kind of a current in our bodies that we're all capable of when we are simply moving our body. So again, humans don't get energy, we make energy. But the things that we are interacting with, with our nutrition, can be paramount to our experience of having energy. And today, when people are looking for energy because of these crazy things that we have access to today, we're like chugging down these "energy drinks" that are causing more harm than good because they're hitting on one channel, just being a nervous system stimulant.

And that's okay in some small doses, but when we're doing that over and over, because, what generally happens is we get a correlating crash. We take something that spikes our nervous system, then when it starts to calm down and cool down, it goes even lower than it was before, and we need to take something else again. So whether it's an energy drink or going ham at the local coffee shop over and over again, we start to actually lose the resilience of our receptor sites for this caffeine, and our body doesn't even use it as good as it once did. And many people have had that experience where one cup of coffee, that first experience was like life-changing. He's like, the music came on and you fell in love. Oh my gosh, this exists, but then after that, you need two cups, three cups, and we have to have a better strategy, because I'm absolutely a fan of coffee, and of caffeine, because of some of the benefits it has like, for example, on human metabolism. Studies show that caffeine can increase your metabolic rate by upwards of 11%. That means your body's ability to burn calories. And a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that most of the increase in metabolism from consuming caffeine is from the increase in burning of fat. So it is triggering your body to burn fat. So that might make some of us run out and want to take a bunch of caffeine, but there are different versions of caffeine.


The source that you get it from matters a lot because there are dirty versions... There's dirty caffeine, right? But we want to go for the clean stuff. There's clean, this big clean eating movement, we need to be more intentional and clean in our sources of things like coffee, as well, because of dirty caffeine... Because what good things in life come with the word dirty attached to it. We got dirty clothes. Nobody likes dirty clothes. Dirty bulking, dirty looks. Nothing good comes with the word dirty attached to it. Except maybe Christina Aguilera's Dirty. That was pretty hot when it came out. But bottom line is this, we want to get clean sources of caffeine. So organic coffee is the way to go, so we're not consuming pesticides and herbicides or rodenticides that do in fact influence our microbiome, because they're meant to destroy small organisms and guess what our gastrointestinal track is made of, these small organisms, and it can damage our endocrine system and also our nervous system as well.

So organic is definitely paramount, but also I want to see a reduction in the amount that we're taking by balancing it out with something else that provides the human body a natural source of energy production that happens within ourselves. And there's a study that's published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, that looked at 30 healthy people for six weeks and recorded the effects of cordyceps medicinal mushroom on their performance. The group that added cordyceps to their daily regimen had twice the oxygen intake of the control group who didn't get the cordyceps. And this oxygen, by the way, when we're talking about energy, this is the number one thing that we need. Oxygen is the most important thing, far more important than anything else. You can only last a few minutes without oxygen, and oxygen is essential in our cells in providing nutrients to our cells, so this is really important. And another study that was conducted with the same researchers found that consumption of cordyceps medicinal mushroom led to a 9% increase in aerobic activity from taking cordyceps. It helps you to perform better. It directly influences your stamina and it doesn't have these weird crazy after-effects of having you crash. Alright, so this is why I love the blend of cordyceps and medicinal mushroom, and organic coffee that you get with Four Sigmatic. And I highly, highly recommend checking it out.


I absolutely love it. It's what I had today. It's That's F-O-U-R-S-I-G M-A-T-I-C .com/ model, and you get 15% off all of their incredible mushroom coffees, mushroom hot cocoas, and mushroom elixirs, as well. If you're not a fan of coffee, you can get cordyceps by itself. You can reishi and chaga all from great sources, and they're dual extracted, which sets Four Sigmatic in a league of their own. This means it's a hot water extract and alcohol extract to give you all of these nutrients that you're hearing about in these studies. You're making sure that you're getting everything. Alright, so head over there, check 'em out And now back to the show.

Shawn Stevenson: Alright, we're back and we're talking with IN-Q. When I mentioned early about grabbing those ideas, the point that I really wanted to make, and if you could elaborate on this, is ideas are free and it's the most valuable entity, arguably, in our reality are human ideas. Every single thing that we're looking at right now came from the mind of another person except us, which that's a whole different conversation.

IN-Q: But even us in some ways.

Shawn Stevenson: Man, we're a miracle. I won the race that day. My dad, I don't know what he was... I don't know, but I won and I'm here, you know what I mean? But this is... The power of an idea, and right now, I want people to really understand that one idea can totally transform your life.

IN-Q: One moment where that idea comes through can transform your life if you grab it, but if you let it pass someone else will pick it up. It's actually quite interesting like sometimes great ideas to me are annoying when I get them. I'm grateful for them, but I'm also like, "Ah, , I got to do that." I have to do that now. And it requires work to do it well, to do it to the best of my ability, to do it at a world-class level, I know how much work it's going to take. I have a few things that we're doing now that would not have come around had it not been for the shutdowns and the quarantine and the virus, and everybody is forcing or forced, I guess, into adaptation right now because the environment has changed, and I'm certainly one of those people. But when I thought of those things, I was also like, "Man, I got to do it." Because it's a gift. That idea is a gift from the muse, and who am I to turn my back on the muse. I also think in general, this is a bit of a departure, but I've been taking a lot about gratitude and how I'm applying it to my life. And I kind of realized that when I get things from the world, you know gifts, whether it's an idea or whether it's a gig that I booked or whether it's a publishing deal or anything, or someone reaching out and saying, "Hey, your book really touched me." It's almost my second nature to just go, "Oh, cool." And then I move on to the next thing.

And I've realized recently that that basically is like if someone gave you a gift and you took the gift and were like, "Yeah, thanks, appreciate it." But I'm actually thinking about the fact that this gift is not exactly what I wanted, and I kind of want to move in that direction. Now, if I gave you that gift, I might not be like "Man, Shawn," but I might be like, "Next time I'll give the gift to someone else." And I feel like I've been doing that to the universe in these subtle unconscious ways. And so now what I've been practicing is any time something happens from a meal to a good conversation with a friend, I actually stop during my meditation, at the end of the meditation in the cool-down period, and I just go over those things in my mind and I say, "Thank you, Universe. I would love more of those things. I really appreciate you showing up for me like that." And I think it's corny in one way, but in another way, the universe is just energy. Why wouldn't the universe want to be appreciated for how it shows up in your life? And if you're always looking at everything from this like, "Well, it could have been this," mentality, then you're missing the gifts that are in front of you, and if you're missing the gifts that are in front of you, you are missing your life.

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah. It's two things. Number one is reminding me of when you're a kid and your grandma, you get the envelope, it's got the money in it. It's the card with the money and you see the money, you know the money is there, but to try to be interested in what the words say. But you know what I'm saying. So it made me think of that. And also what's right in front of you right now, and this is such an interesting time in relationships, and people are right in front of each other in a different way than the American family has really seen in quite some time. People being at home with their families. I've got neighbors across the street who just moved in a couple of months ago, like right before this happened, and he's just so grateful he's got to be home with his newborn baby this whole time, which would not have happened. And your relationship dynamic has changed recently, and so how is that impacting your life right now? And also, if you could... You wrote something recently to... I'm just going to leave it up to you to describe, but I'm just wondering how this affects where you are right now, and the evolution of IN-Q.

IN-Q: Yeah, it's the evolution of IN-Q. It's the evolution of Adam Schmalholz, which is my full name, and me just getting to a place where I wanted to commit to take that long walk with someone and all that that entails and... I would also say I decided to do it at this time because I wanted to change the narrative. There is an enormous amount of pain and suffering out there, and there's an enormous amount of pain and suffering in here. Everybody has been dealing with different levels of this, and while I definitely acknowledge my own privilege, because it's even a privilege to be able to quarantine. There's people that don't even know how to keep a roof over their heads right now. We all still have our own personal experience, and I just didn't want this summer to be filled with only that fear and that anxiety that's kind of like this underlying thing that I think everybody is kind of feeling right now. And so I wanted to do something to change the narrative, and I thought, "Why not ask my girlfriend to marry me during this time, because then we'll have a memory to look back on," and instead of saying, "Ah, 2020 was that crazy time," we'll also say, "But during that crazy time, we committed to each other."

And so I wrote this poem when I asked her to marry me, and I actually want to read it here because it'll be like the drop on the shoes because nobody's heard it.

Shawn Stevenson: Exclusive alert!

IN-Q: Exclusive. Every love poem I ever wrote was about you. You are every dream I've ever had and now they've come true. You are every dream I've never had, somehow they've come true. I gaze into your eyes and know there'll never be a better view. I see heaven in your face. I see children in your smile. I see our future in our present. Will you stay with me awhile? Why will you dance without the music? Will you laugh without the jokes? Will you cry without a reason? Will you play with all the notes? I've come to love you in a way that is impossible to quote. Forever and a day is not enough. Forever is a joke. Any moment we're together is for now or never. Whether I am in your presence or too far away to measure, I accept you and the pain. I accept you in the pleasure. I'll be your shelter through the rain. You can shine in any weather. Every love poem I wrote was an invisible letter, reaching out beyond my time and space to what I would discover, from a place that was unknown to a home inside each other. I am floating on a cloud. I am dancing in the gutter. Our relationship is sailing and we do not need a rudder. I don't care where we go from here if here is with each other. Your soul is like a mirror. You're a goddess and a lover. You're a sister and a brother. You're a father and a mother. You're a son and you're a daughter. You're a stranger and a friend. Even when I end, our love's not something I can transcend.


You're more than just a perfect 10. Your beauty lies behind your skin. It's the way you taste, reminding me of everywhere I've been. It's the way you smell, reminding me of everyone I've been. Your sweetness overwhelms me. Can we end where we begin? I'll only come back to write our stories intertwined again. You're the greatest poem I've ever read, you make me find my pen. You're the greatest poem I've ever read, the wisdom from within. You inspired me. It'll take me lifetimes to comprehend. You're my "who", "what", "where" and "when". You're my "Why I even try." I vow to have you and to hold you till the day I say goodbye. I vow for better or for worse, as long as you are by my side. I vow to cherish you in sickness and in health until I die.

On our first date, you asked me why I hadn't settled down. I refused to give an answer but I have your answer now. I was always waiting for you. You're the reason that you asked. My words have never done you justice, but I search for them at last. I've asked myself a thousand questions about who I want to be. I've asked myself a thousand questions to reflect on you and me. I've asked myself a thousand questions, but our love's what set them free. There's only one question left, so I'll ask it on one knee.

This is where I got down, just to keep you in real-time.

Andriana, I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I promise I'll do right by you, morning, noon, and night by you. I promise I'll be nice to you even when I fight with you. I promise I will fight for you, I'd even give my life for you. I promise I will write for you, my art is now my life for you, my heart is yours, so on your darkest day, I'll be the light for you. And when you're out past midnight, I promise I'll leave a light for you to guide you home and to my open arms, if that's alright with you. They say that love is blind but you're the one that made me see. I've asked myself a thousand questions that have brought you here to me. I've asked myself a thousand questions but our love's what set them free. There's only one question left. Will you marry me?

Shawn Stevenson: So powerful man, thank you for sharing that.

IN-Q: Thanks, man. Thank you for listening.

Shawn Stevenson: Exclusive alert! Thank you for sharing. Man, thank you. We need this more than ever. Man, we need to believe in love, we need to believe in connection. And man, it's such the set up prior to and that memory of this is the time when all of this is happening in the world, that this is born as well, and that's what's possible.

IN-Q: You know what I think... And this came from something very specific. I was doing a call about a project that I was doing for Northwell Health, and it was basically to acknowledge the superheroes that we have, the doctors and the nurses that are out there risking their lives every single day for us. And it was an animation that they created, and I loved the project, and there was an agency in between. And the agency was great too, they were just doing their jobs, but one of the guys who was on the call, a great person, but he's trying to figure out how to make the best product that he can, and he said, "You know, I don't want to end this poem in the end with the word love." He said, "I think love might be a little soft," and he goes, "I want something that's harder."

And I said to him, "Love is hard, man." I said, "I don't look at love as soft. Life is hard, and we have to love harder, especially now." I consider myself a realistic optimist, and so I hope that more compassion comes out of what we're going through right now, and we have to love ourselves harder, we have to love our families harder, our partners, our colleagues, our communities. We have to even love the people that we don't love harder 'cause they probably need it most.

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah.

IN-Q: And so that's what I would say to anybody out there is, change the narrative. Find a way to love harder right now.

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah. Man, if that's not the realest thing I've heard in 2020. I think that's one of the big misconceptions because you hear something that beautiful and, and there's an and to it, there are also very challenging moments within it.

IN-Q: For sure.

Shawn Stevenson: But, within that context of love, even that, even the rough stuff, even the challenges, it just makes everything so rewarding, but it's just still maintaining that north star of love.

IN-Q: Great way to say it.

Shawn Stevenson: And my wife knows this first-hand. She's my best friend. We do everything together and, but it's been an evolution. Love is revolutionary, it's evolutionary. It's everything. And, of course, there's scriptural references to this, there's been so many books and poems written about this, but I think that getting past the misconception that love is easy or that love doesn't require challenging times and other feelings that you might not identify with love can still be love, but it's like directing us back to those truths, what love is, so love is... From my perspective, I'll just share this and I'd love to hear your perspective.

IN-Q: Please, yeah.

Shawn Stevenson: Love is patience, love is understanding, love is compassion, which is different from sympathy, to be clear, because it's one of things that can happen right now, it's like I feel bad for somebody. I feel bad for you, but compassion, how can I serve the situation? Love is, it's kind most of the time because that's a choice, but I started... I led with love is patience. It's intentional because that was the quality that was lacking most in me, that I would identify as virtuous and helpful and unifying. Growing up, that was a thing that I saw the least of in the household that I lived in, massive lack of patience. And that became a part of my character, and I didn't know it.

IN-Q: How did that impact you?

Shawn Stevenson: And just mainly in relationships, mainly in the way that I treated my kids when they were younger, my oldest, two, my son and my daughter, and just this lack of patience and because I also had this idea. Like I have to push them to be great, like none of us... I'm the first person to graduate from college in my family. My daughter was sitting there, she's in kindergarten. I got her doing first-grade work, second-grade work, we're sitting there with the little books. And I'm also very impatient with her too, and she did great in school, but I just wish I was this person that had more patience with her, and the same thing that would bleed out into relationships and bleed out to decisions that I made, not being patient, not letting things... It's kind of like, sometimes you throw your fishing hook out there and you let it do this thing, you don't got to... I would do that with my grandfather a lot like I throw it out and I reel it back in. He's like, "Just let it sit."

IN-Q: What a metaphor.

Shawn Stevenson: "Be patient." And then I ended up catching a bigger fish than him. It became a legendary story. I led with that because I truly believe that it's been a super power, dormant superpower is patience. And we shared this before we even started rolling, that this experience with this injury, first week of 2020, has taught me a different level the dynamic of patience. Patience can be put into so many different categories in our lives. Not to say there's not a grind and a hustle and a go get it and get after it and crush it, but there's grace. There's a balance there that needs to be there. How would you define love from your perspective? And especially looking at what we could use more of, because when I said patience, kindness, compassion, those are some key character traits and elements that we could use right now, in our relationships.

IN-Q: Yeah. I mean, look, there was so much that you just said that was really powerful and eloquent and right on. I think the one word that popped into my head when you asked is that love is alive. And I think... You have to keep it alive. People don't really acknowledge that often. They just think like, once love is there, love is always going to be alive.

Shawn Stevenson: My wife’s over there nodding her head right now. Yeah.

IN-Q: Yeah. And of course, same as every single thing I write in my poems, I'm talking to myself first. I'm the first person in my audience. I'm not on any pedestal and I'm still figuring out on a daily basis with various degrees of success and failure, but that's something that I want to remind myself of, is to keep love alive. And then also, the other thing that popped out when I was listening to you was how valuable all of those painful experiences are. And we hear that over and over again from everyone that... It's not the successes that make you, it's the failures or the difficult times.

What you've learned in terms of another level of patience because of what happened to your back, and how you experienced it, to ultimately find the gratitude in what you were going through, to be able to come out on the other side with that gift to give others, that's I think, the best way to be alive, is to find gratitude for everything that you've gone through, whether you understand it or not so that you can find the lesson. And then once you find the lesson, it's like you beat that level of the video game. You don't have to play that boss anymore, you're done. And you can move on to another level, and there's always another level. It's not even, I think, up or down, it's just, like horizontal, an infinite number of levels. But once you beat it, you can actually be done. And I actually wrote that in a very short poem in the book, I say, "You can't learn a lesson until you apply it to your life. That's why you can understand a lesson and still have to learn it twice."

Shawn Stevenson: Yes.

IN-Q: Me, I've learned the same lessons more times than I would have liked, but the experience was priceless. So I had to pay the price, and I think that's really what that is describing. And so, the question I would have for anybody out there is, not only, I guess, can you reinforce the gratitude that you have in your life for the things that are gifts that are positive, but how can you try to do the same thing for the things that are negative? How can you find a way to be grateful for them, whether or not you understand them? Understanding is a little bit overrated. People think that they need to... For example, even in a relationship, it's like, "I need you to understand me, so I need you to listen to me and I convince you of my perspective and... " Boring. I just need you to respect my boundaries. I just need to state what I need to state and respect my boundaries. And then we can meet in the middle. When it comes to this particular thing, you don't need to understand that thing that happened to you necessarily to find the lesson in it.

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, absolutely. Man, that's profound. So many things I want to ask you about, but I want to ask you about this specific thing because I think it's transformative, but I think it's a practice. It's something that you... I've been working with my youngest son, Braden, with certain things, and he just sees what can happen when he takes the coaching and he applies it. And I've said this statement to him many times because there's a statement of practice makes perfect, but I tell them, perfect practice makes perfect. Doing the thing that you want to do the right way over and over again, ingrains it... And gratitude is one of those things, man. I think that after a certain...

First of all, when you were talking about the levels of the video game, I heard the Mario, "Dana, dana, dana... “I was hearing it, but that's real, man. You can pass that level. And even if you go back for a visit, you know what to do. But gratitude can put us, help us to get past so many different levels, and there's another and... There's always another level of challenge with you being able to bring gratitude into the situation. And I feel it's like it's another superpower and it's going to... This is the theme of the show with you, is, it's very difficult, if not impossible, to feel gratitude and to feel hatred at the same time. It's very difficult, if not impossible, to feel gratitude and to feel even heartbroken at the same time.

This is one of the things that healed me from losing somebody very close to me, my grandmother. It's the gratitude. And not to say that I don't acknowledge the pain of the loss, but I live in this perpetual, if I think about her, it'll bring tears to my eyes because of what she's given me, and the opportunity I had with her. At a time like today, there's a lot of things in flux, there's a lot of turmoil, there's a lot of unanswered questions, there's a lot of pain, there's a lot of suffering. How can we not have gratitude as just a concept, but as a practice right now? How do we utilize the power of gratitude?

IN-Q: I'll take a longer way to answer that, which is that, for a person to make systemic change in their life, they usually have to face a trauma. It's very, very difficult to make systemic change as an individual and not just go right back to your own patterns, especially if you're smart enough to trick yourself into going right back to what's comfortable, even if it makes you miserable unless you go through some that wakes you up and shakes you up out of your normal routine, enough to where you actually see yourself, and you actually see not who you think you are, who you actually are and how you're showing up to the people around you and to yourself and to the world.

And if you have that experience, and it does wake you up into reality, you have a period of time where you can actually shift some stuff on the foundational level, and you can build the rest of your life on that new foundation. But if you fall back asleep again, you might not get another chance for 20 years, and that's an individual. As a collective, this is our collective systemic trauma. There is nothing that has happened during this period of time that the coronavirus created. It just brought it to the light. Every single thing that we're going through, from the systemic racism, the systemic inequality, the healthcare system, it's just all of it has just been brought to the light. And now, this is our opportunity to make real structural changes, and it's uncomfortable. If you're uncomfortable right now, congratulations, you're in the world. But if we fall asleep again, I mean really, if we fall asleep again, I don't want to say what we're going to wake up to in 20 years, on every level, including climate change, by the way, because they will get a vaccine for this. This is...

One of my best friends lost his daughter to this virus. I'm not going to go into it 'cause it's not my story to tell, but I don't know what to say to my friend. I know the suffering that is out there, health-wise, economically. But there will be an end to this. Eventually, we will move through this. It's not an existential threat to humanity. But climate change could be. And, us not taking care of each other, that could be an existential threat to humanity. We could have World Wars, ultimately civil wars. I hope that everyone is using this time to look at their own life and to look at our collective life, to see how we can be more of service and more in support and to be better versions of ourselves as a nation and as a world.

Shawn Stevenson: I just got to let it breathe for a second. I just got to stay with that for a minute.

IN-Q: Yeah, let it breathe.

Shawn Stevenson: You're speaking things I've only thought with the opportunity we have right now. And I've said this many times on the show recently that everybody listening, we are part of history. History is happening right now, and we are literally at a point, there's an inception point of what's going to happen five years, 10 years, 20 years. This is the moment, what we do, what we decide to do, how we decide to engage with life and I think Michael Beckwith said it so eloquently. And maybe it's because we're in the same space together, but basically we have... There's three ways of being right now. You can be a participant in this, which is every person listening, I implore you to be a participant in it, because you don't want to be looking back 10 years like I should have done. You can be a bystander, you could sit back and just watch, and many people, we've lived our lives from the sideline, in our own stories. We've passed off the starring role, we're really this... You're the Tom Cruise.

You're the Viola Davis of your own story, but we pass off the writing, we passed off the production, the direction to other people, but this is the time because the story you're writing is going to affect everything. Or there's a third way to being, which is you standing in the way. So you're either participating, being a bystander or you're standing in the way because change is wanting to happen, that opening is taking place now. And I've never heard anybody talk about this on the show before, of there's an opening, when you have that trauma, when you have that experience happened for change. I've seen it, I've worked with thousands of people in a one-on-one context, and millions of people have been impacted in the long-form but I've seen it.

If you do not take advantage of the opportunity in that window of opportunity, the opportunity diminishes. You will settle back into the "old" you. And so thank you for bringing that up because it just brings another degree of fire and intention that we need to have right now because this opening is taking place now. So man, thank you so much for sharing that, and it's just such a great and powerful way to put a bow on the conversation today, and if you could, number one, let everybody know where they can connect with you online, where they can get more of you and your incredible gift, where they could pick up your book and you got a new podcast coming soon too, right?

IN-Q: Yeah, podcast.

Shawn Stevenson: Talk about it.

IN-Q: So, Inquire Within. You can get it anywhere in terms of Amazon or Barnes and Noble, the independent bookstores. We worked so hard to get it into independent bookstores and then when everything happened, people couldn't actually go in. So definitely support independent bookstores as well, and then Audible. I'm reading all of the poems, so feel free to get the audiobook as well. People have been literally listening to the whole thing, like an album, like over and over and over again. So that's been really awesome. And then I have a podcast called Inquire Within With IN-Q. That's gonna be starting soon.

And it's very simple, actually. I just decided I wanted to interview poets. Everybody's been saying for so long for me to start a podcast, and I couldn't figure out something that I actually wanted to do. And then I realized I don't know why I'm searching out there. It's right here, I should just... There isn't really a podcast where somebody sits down and talks to modern-day poets. And so I'm going to get like 25 of the biggest poets in the world right now and talk to them about their lives and their process. So that's exciting. And then, of course, you could just follow me on Instagram @inqlife. And then we're doing virtual workshops and still doing all sorts of shows, and I can't wait until we can all gather in person again in a safe way because, boy, what a comparison point we now have. I'll never take another hug for granted again.

Shawn Stevenson: Yeah, yeah, man, we're going to bring a whole different level of gratitude to it. So truly, man, thank you so much for sharing your gift. Thank you so much for having the audacity to take it from one dimension, one form, and to put into book form, it takes incredible ability to pivot, to put yourself into discomfort, and for you to release your book during, like literally when this happened.

IN-Q: It was crazy.

Shawn Stevenson: You know there's some kind of... Again, like there's a story behind the story. There's some kind of gift within it, and I think that today is a part of that gift and being able to impact everybody, because I don't know if this would have happened. I don't know if this would have happened in this format, because you'd probably be rocking the mics somewhere, I don't know. Standing on the Eiffel Tower, doing your thing, whatever. So we're grateful to have you here today, and just for everybody listening, make sure to follow him on Instagram you can stay up to date on when his podcast drops. I love the fact of having somebody in this level of thinking of, you create your own lane, you create the category, this hasn't existed, he's going to create the category, the podcast featuring poets. It's in that lane.

When Sleep smarter came out, we created the category, there was no health and wellness book on sleep that was popularized, that made the... On the surface boring category of boring conversation about sleep, sexy and fun and entertaining, and something that can spread. An idea that can spread because we created the category, and so that's another thing to think about today as we're transitioning and going through our changes and just figuring out what it is that our gift or talent, our capacity are our new quality that can emerge right now, due to the trauma that we're experiencing as a nation. Another thing to consider is creating a category, creating a new category of something, because an idea, one idea can totally change your life, one moment, as you share today, can totally change your life, and if anything, again, one of the biggest takeaways for me today was love is something that you have to keep alive, so sometimes you just got to give love some snacks, sometimes you got to give it a little bit of entertainment.

Sometimes you got to give love, CPR and revive it, but love is something you have to keep alive, and for us to proactively think about that and carry that into our relationships moving forward with friends and family, our intimate relationships. And also the people that we interact with. Our colleague co-workers, we got to keep that love alive. So thank you so much for tuning into the show today, I hope you got a lot of value out of this. Make sure to share this out with your friends and family and all the people you care about, of course, you can tag me on Instagram as well, and tag him too, and let everybody know you out about this episode, and we're going to close it out like a boss. Alright, we're going to close this all with another piece from Inquire Within from IN-Q, check it out.

IN-Q: This one time I saw a dude who worked for Vons collecting stacks of shopping carts in the parking lot with only one arm. This is a true story. Now, I should say that on this particular day, I had been feeling down about myself, depressed about some stupid, complaining in my head that I'm not as far along as I would like to be, that life is victimizing me, and mind you, I was buying food at the time to put into my car. To put into my house. To put into my fridge. To put into my mouth. And that's when I saw him 10 carts deep, pushing them with one arm down the street whistling. Now, I swear he was whistling. Do you know how happy I would have to be to spontaneously pucker up my lips like I was about to blow a kiss then open up a bit and push some air from my esophagus into higher pitch., really happy.

Anyway, back to this dude, the first thought I had, I'll admit was a bit rude, but hear me out before you boo. See, I was confused 'cause if I was in his shoes and I had to choose a job, this would not be the job I'd choose, and I know that sounds hardcore, but honestly, this is one of the jobs that I would want two arms for. That being said, this particular dude was an absolute gangster, the arm had looked like it was strong enough to be the anchor on an oil tanker like he could have been Arnold Schwarzenegger's trainer back when he was starring in the Terminators, and it won't be up like the scent from a cup of sanka, so I went home and I wrote this poem as an ode to thank him.

See, it really got me thinking about my situation, Why the heck am I complaining, our world is full of people maintaining. No matter who you are or where you're from, we all have to wake up every day and accept the fact that we don't know where we'll go or why we've come, and that can cause confusion, so we distract ourselves and focus on amusement instead of self-improvement a mutually agreed upon collective delusion. But with this much stimulus and this little understanding, it's no wonder we don't all just completely lose it, genius and insanity are closer than they seem. Your perspective is the difference between your nightmares and your dreams. Because if everything is energy and my body is a vessel, then my struggle is unique, but that doesn't make me so special, And this dude here has the strength to up and whistle with the fist full of shopping carts that he guided like a missile and it blew me away like a sneeze into a tissue that someone with seemingly so many issues could be unequivocally so blissful while someone who's as lucky as I am could be self-creating problems by the list for.

So from this point on, if my thoughts start thinking that they're important, or my feelings start feeling too distorted, I'm going to sort them into categories to see if I can change them, if I can, I'll simply make the moves to rearrange them, if I can't, I'll acknowledge them but I won't engage them, I'll gather all my confidence and courage as I face them and...

Shawn Stevenson: And for more after the show, make sure to head over to, that's where you can find all of the show notes, you could find transcriptions, videos for each episode, and if you got a comment, you can leave me a comment there as well, and please make sure to head over to iTunes and leave us a rating to let everybody know that the show is awesome, and I appreciate that so much, and take care, I promise to keep giving you more powerful, empowering, great content to help you transform your life. Thanks for tuning in.

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