Behind the Music: My New Original Song about Emotional Intelligence, “Maybe It’s a Dream” by Nick Shell

It might be easy to forget at this point in my life, but when I moved to Nashville back on September 11th, 2005, it was because I wanted to build a career in music; as I have been singing, writing songs, and playing the guitar for over two decades.

However, my focus changed about a year and a half after I moved to Nashville, when I met my wife. Two kids and a decade later, the music thing has been on hiatus.

But this week, I decided to finally record a song I’ve been working on for four years.

It’s called “Maybe It’s a Dream”. The song is about the journey of emotionally intelligence; what it’s like living in the paradox of now understanding how it’s a conscious decision to realize that other people only affect my emotions if I give them permission; and that once I began taking control over that part of my life and I unplugged from that master of puppets system, it made me feel both more alive, yet more isolated from the world.

When I started writing the song, I was 32 years old; I just beginning to learn about emotional intelligence. Now, less than a month away from turning 37, I feel like I am becoming on expert on focusing on what I can control, not on what I can not: including other people.

The opening line of the song, “I am a skeleton with meat on my bones”, is my way of acknowledging the ability to separate others’ perception of who they think I am, versus my own perception of who I think I am. In reality, my identity is somewhere in between.

Later on in the song, I admit, “My perspective of reality will die with me.”

We live in somewhat of an illusion of who we think we are, and we struggle to not worry about what other people think about us; yet in reality, how others collectively perceive us ultimately is part of who we actually are.

So it’s even more groundbreaking of a concept when a person chooses to control their own emotions exclusively; not giving permission to others to “hurt” their feelings or offend them.

This leads to a sense of a confused state of being for a guy like me: “Maybe it’s a dream. Is this even real?”

In other words, if I can control so much of my life now that I understand only I control the breaker switch of my own emotions, life starts to feel a little bit like I’m part of some grand scheme of a social experiment. Maybe this is my version of The Truman Show.

I hope you enjoy my song and I hope you can personally relate to it in some way. It is truly an extension of my identity. To understand who I am (or at least who I think I am) is to understand this song.

Uncle Nick’s Enchanted Forest, Webisodes 1-27: The Complete Series… So Far

Uncle Nick Official Title Card

After filming 22 webisodes of Jack-Man from May through October of 2015, I decided to take a break from that and create a new web series; one that is specifically designed as a kids’ show, as opposed to the sci-fi super hero sitcom format of Jack-Man.

My idea was to create a show in which my niece could watch and be entertained by on YouTube. So I began combining elements of entertainment I thought would be appreciated by a 4 year-old.

Think of my new show, Uncle Nick’s Enchanted Forest, sort of as an updated version of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, but that is more outdoors based.

In Webisode 1: Annie the Anteater, Uncle Nick helps consult an anteater who has been bullied by Freddie the Fox.

The show always begins with me introducing the audience to an old trinket that I just found. In the first webisode, it’s a harmonica.

I taught myself a few riffs the day before I filmed, and decided to record the theme song based off of my experimentation.

Another ritual is that I remind the viewers how to do my “enchanted animal call” before I put on my puffy vest.

Once we arrive outside in the Enchanted Forest, I lead the viewers in officially doing the enchanted animal call, which then invites an enchanted animal to the scene.

These first couple of webisodes feature the theme of bullying.

My plan is to continue featuring my son’s stuffed animal collection as the characters in the forest.

Webisode 2: Rocky the Raccoon introduces another forest creature who Freddie the Fox has teased.

My dream is to one day host my own kids’ show on a television network. This is me building my dream.

In Webisode 3: Freddie the Fox, Uncle Nick confronts the culprit.

For the next batch of webisodes, 4 through 6, I added not only a new song (“Animal Hat”) but also a segment where I try to guess which color the viewer is thinking of, while I play the drums. (I also play the guitar on camera now, in addition to just the harmonica as I did before.)

After the indoors portion of each show, I then take the viewer outdoors to my Enchanted Forest (the woods of Fort Payne and Mentone, Alabama) for a magical adventure, featuring talking animals.

I filmed 8 webisodes during my 3 day Christmas vacation last week, with help from my dad and brother-in-law serving as camera men. (That means I soon will be releasing even 5 more.)

During that time, I took advantage of the fact that the area was experiencing a flash flood. I based these 3 (of the newest 8) webisodes around that, making that the overall story arc for them.

In Webisode 4: Betsy the Bunny, I must rush to the rescue as Betsy the Bunny gets trapped in a tree alongside a rushing waterfall (Little River Falls in Fort Payne, AL).

Next in Webisode 5: Tiny the Turtle, I must save Tiny the Turtle before his home is swept away by the flood (DeSoto Falls in Mentone, AL).

And in the final segment of this “flood” story arc, in Webisode 6: Scuttles the Skunk, I must help Scuttles the Skunk move forward in his life as he deals with the aftermath of losing his home in the flood as well.

I designed the outdoors segment of each webisode to be a good mix of action, adventure, and psychology. However, the first (indoors) part of each webisode is designed to engage the viewer in creative thinking.

Sure, right now, Uncle Nick’s Enchanted Forest is just getting off the ground. But I am committing to this show. I am not giving up until I reach my goal of taking my show to the big screen: the TV screen, via a major network.

I believe that I have the talent, skills, creativity, charisma, and personality to host my own TV show on a major children’s network. This web series is my way of proving it to the world.

Webisode 7: Paulie the Puppy– When Uncle Nick decides to hike a new trail, it leads him to an empty old building and a mysterious barking sound.

Webisode 8: Pokey the Pot-Bellied Pig– Uncle Nick must figure out a way to cross the river to save the little pot-bellied pig who is stuck on the other side.

Webisode 9: Ralph the Red Panda– While hiking later in the evening, Uncle Nick discovers a rare animal as it begins getting dark outside.

Webisode 10: Slither the Snake– Freddie the Fox gets trapped by a hungry snake at the top of a large rock. It’s Uncle Nick to the rescue!

Webisode 11: Barry the Bear– When a scary-looking bear is soon in the Enchanted Forest, Uncle Nick decides to investigate; leading to a lesson about not judging a bear by his cover.

Barry the Bear was first introduced 4 months ago in my other series, Jack-Man:

Kids Show: Uncle Nick’s Enchanted Forest- Webisodes 4-6; the Flood Story Arc

I’ve made it no secret that I am legitimately attempting to become the next Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood/Blue’s Clues.

My main hobby right now is to crank out as many webisodes I can of my new web series, Uncle Nick’s Enchanted Forest.

It is my hope that eventually my show will catch on and that I can get enough traffic to gain the attention of the talent scouts for major networks like PBS, Nickelodeon, Disney, Animal Planet, and the Discovery Channel.

My agenda with each webisode is to provide innocent and engaging entertainment for children who are watching YouTube on their parents’ smartphones.

Kids’ Show: Uncle Nick’s Enchanted Forest- Webisodes 12 & 13: Beanie the Bat and Petey the Possum

As part of my plan to quickly build the library of my newest web series, Uncle Nick’s Enchanted Kingdom, I am now shooting new webisodes during my lunch breaks at work.

One of my coworkers just happens to be one of my most faithful watchers, so I didn’t really have to twist his arm in order to convince him to be my camera man/assistant director on these “during our lunch break at work” video shoots.

He and I shot two webisodes; during one 60 minute period.

First is Webisode 12: Beanie the Bat, where Uncle Nick serves as a real estate agent to a bat who likes to live in trees; with a sort of “House Hunters: Animal Edition” style of plot line.

During the shoot, I sliced my hand on the tree I was climbing. I just wrote it into the script.

The other webisode we filmed is Webisode 13: Petey the Possum. There is no doubt this is one of the most stand-out webisodes of Uncle Nick.

Very close to where I work, there is a drain tunnel the same height as me. I decided it would make the perfect setting. I am so pleased with how it turned out.

Not only do I feel the plot line is captivating, but the tunnel itself is intriguing because it’s a rare event to get a tour down into something so mysterious.

I’ll say this; I wouldn’t be willing to walk in there alone.

I feel my Uncle Nick series has so much potential and that kids would really like it if they watched it. But for now, it remains undiscovered in the corner of YouTube.

But that doesn’t stop me from continuing to grow my collection.

Uncle Nick has plenty more up his sleeve!

Uncle Nick’s Enchanted Forest 14 through 19: The Blizzard Webisodes

From January 22nd to the 24th, I filmed 6 webisodes of Uncle Nick’s Enchanted Forest. Similar to the way I filmed 4 webisodes after the Christmas 2015 flash flood, I took advantage of the weather condition, making it the plot line of these half a dozen webisodes.

And starting with Webisode 18, I introduce a fun new theme song as well as a new animal hat…

I got to the point where I pretty much just keep my camera, tripod, and Uncle Nick costume in my car with me; in order that I can always be prepared to shoot an episode on the spot.

Good thing I was ready on Friday, January 22nd, when the blizzard kicked in. I have a coworker, Shane Moore, who is quick and faithful to help me out with some of the shoots.

So he served as my camera man and assistant director for the first 2 webisodes of the blizzard story arc.

In Webisode 14: Baby Bear, family members get separated during the beginning of the blizzard. It’s up to Uncle Nick to reunite them!

In Webisode 15: Haley the Husky, we are introduced to a poor little homeless Husky who is stranded out in the middle of the snow storm. Uncle Nick must find her a new home to get her warm.

The remaining 4 webisodes of the blizzard story arc were filmed Saturday and Sunday morning; just me and my tripod.

Webisode 16: Piper the Penguin shows a poor penguin who is frozen to the ice. Uncle Nick must find a place to keep her safe until the other penguins return.

In Webisode 17: Lenny the Lizard, Uncle Nick must resuscitate a lizard he finds who is literally freezing in the river.

Then in Webisode 18: Pinky the Pig, Uncle Nick encounters a sleepwalking pig, who is headed towards a frozen lake.

And finally, in Webisode 19: Fluffy the Frog, Uncle Nick must discover, and uncover, a frozen frog on a log.

February was a big and busy month for filming new webisodes of my children’s adventure/fantasy series, Uncle Nick’s Enchanted Forest.

After December’s flood story arc, and then January’s blizzard story arc, February presents a new story line, beginning with Ground Hog Day in Webisode 20: Gordon the Groundhog; where it is revealed a villain will be arriving in the Enchanted Forest.

Next in Webisode 21: Bruno the Blue Jay, the predicted villain, Demetrius the Shadow Caster, turns 5 of the animals of the Enchanted Forest into pennies.

From there, Bruno and Uncle Nick continue to team up as they discover other mischief that the Shadow Caster caused, while trying to find a way to turn the pennies back into animals.

They encounter in Webisode 22: Bernie the Bear, they meet a bear who is trapped underneath a tree that the Shadow Caster pushed down.

After that in Webisode 23: David the Doggie, Bruno and Uncle Nick find the defenseless little doggie who is separated from his Mommy, also because of the Shadow Caster.

So in addition to turning animals into pennies, the Shadow Caster is also pushing trees over in the Enchanted Forest.

In Webisode 24: Benji the Blue Cheetah, Bruno and Uncle Nick finally get some answers at the top of the Enchanted Mountain when they encounter the legendary blue cheetah.

From there, Uncle Nick and Bruno journey closer to saving their friends, but first pi

ck up two new friends…

In Webisode 25: Baby Bunny, they discover a tiny animal who decides to hitch a ride with them.

Then in Webisode 26: Sylvester the Snake, they must rescue a shivering snake from a mountain top, on the way down to the Enchanted Pond.

Finally, in Webisode 27: Steinbeck the Stegosaurus, the animal reunion occurs as the coins return to their animal state!

Coming up in Spring 2016, a new sidekick will be introduced when Magellan the Mouse finally catches up to Uncle Nick.

I’m really looking forward to that because it will mark the beginning of me using an actual puppet instead of a stuffed animal.

The funny thing is, I purchased the puppet using a gift card I received from Ben Wilder, the person playing Demetrius the Shadow Caster!

Stay tuned…

Dear Holly: I Don’t Believe that Anybody Feels the Way I Do about You Now

20 weeks.

Dear Holly: I Don’t Believe that Anybody Feels the Way I Do about You Now

Dear Holly,

It has now been a week since we found out you are our baby girl named Holly. Mommy and I have been so truly happy.

Mommy bought you some dresses and other clothes online already and we have been trying to figure out which baby blanket to buy you as well.

Like I mentioned last week, you really have been over 7 years in the making. We have hoped for you for a long time; it’s only now that the timing would be perfect.

Yesterday as I drove home from work, I was listening to what I believe is one of the best musical recordings of all time, released 20 years ago in 1995; Oasis’s (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?

While I was listening to “Wonderwall”, a song that never gets old to me, I thought about you, as certain lines from the song played over the speakers of my Honda Element:

“I don’t believe that anybody feels the way I do about you now…

There are many things that I would like to say to you but I don’t know how…

And after all, you’re my wonderwall”

Perhaps to some people, the term “wonderwall” never really made much sense in that now classic Oasis song.

But to me, it always made sense- and it especially makes sense in regards to how I perceive you:

I write to you as if you are a real, living person, here with me right here and right now.

But the thing is, you are.

There’s simply a technically in that you are still in Mommy’s tummy, where you’ll be until around April 21, 2015.

So until then, you are my wonderwall.

You are this mysterious wall I can’t climb or get over to the other side; yet you are right there in front of me.

While I can’t yet look you in the eyes, you are just as real and familiar as if you are already here with me in the outside world.

You are my daughter. Man, that seems weird to say.

But seriously, how can anybody else in this entire world feel the way I do about you now?

Love,

Daddy

My Pitch to the Studios, as a Children’s TV Show Host

dichotomy

Editor’s Note:

I will be emailing the following letter to the same casting agency that reached out to me a few months ago to interview and potentially invite my family to participate in the upcoming reality TV show, The Family Project on NBC.

After that, this letter will then be going out to the all the casting agencies and directors for all the major children’s (and family) television networks; including PBS, Nickelodeon, Disney, TLC, Animal Planet, and The Discovery Channel.

Dear [casting agencies for television studios of major networks that feature children’s programming],

I believe you may be interested in meeting me. I think I can solve your problem in that I am who you are looking for if you are currently in need of a children’s television host.

However, please do not take my word for it…

Instead, simply watch me at work. My passion is creating original content to entertain children; as I have a 5 year-old son, as well as a daughter due to be born in April.

Just watch this quick webisode of my newest web series, Uncle Nick’s Enchanted Forest. Everything you see here is original content. I write, produce, and direct my shows; as well as serve as the protagonist and voices to the animal characters:

I write and perform my own songs, just like the beloved Mr. Fred Rogers did. I play both guitar and harmonica; and obviously sing.

You will see how I simply engage children in nostalgic ways, similar to that beloved uncle everyone has.

To further showcase my acting and production skills, as well as my musical talent and over all creativity, I also ask you to watch a short webisode of my other original web series, Jack-Man; which is a sci-fi super hero show starring my son and me.

In this series, you will see my acting skills as a villain; not just simply the kind and warm “Uncle Nick” character I play on my other series. Again, I created all of this content from scratch, including the lyrics, music, and performance of the songs.

Also, I already have a following on my website, Family Friendly Daddy Blog; where I maintain a minimum of 15,000 views per month. (For 3 years, I had previously served as the official daddy blogger for Parents.com; the website for the legendary Parents magazine.)

Thank you so much for your time and consideration today. Even if I never hear back from you, please know I will continue creating original content to entertain and engage children in the YouTube world; knowing that one day I will get my big break.

Granted, I hope that “big break” comes from you.

Sincerely,

Nick Shell of Family Friendly Daddy Blog

McGee and Me! Soundtrack: “Hold On” by Michael W. Smith

McGee and Me! Soundtrack: “Hold On” by Michael W. Smith

This post will not be read by the people seeing it on my Facebook or Twitter feeds. Instead, it will be specifically sought out by a small fraction of the Internet who grew up in an explicitly Christian culture. I will become the #1 source when someone Googles “Hold On by Michael W. Smith McGee and Me Soundtrack”.

If you happened to grow up like I did, you were born in the early 1980s and were at church at least twice a week.

And on those days where the teacher was out in Children’s Church (the class where all the kids went during the main church service on Sunday mornings), you walked into the room to see a TV set up with a McGee and Me! VHS set up.

The series consisted of the protagonist Nick (played by Joseph Dammann) who liked draw. That alone was enough reason for me to like the show since I shared the same name and hobby as the main character.

Nick’s doodle, McGee, helped him navigate through moral decisions. Each episode contained an awesome original song composed by James Covell.

All together, there were about a dozen of McGee and Me! episodes. Perhaps the rarest one was “Take Me out of the Ball Game,” which was the only one not to contain a James Covell song.

Instead, its feature song was “Hold On,” by the legendary Michael W. Smith. Strangely, this song was not featured on any other Michael W. Smith album, nor was it on the CD version of the soundtrack; it was only on the cassette version, which I owned.

Another thing that made this song more rare and unheard, was that in addition to the episode being harder to purchase because it was released after the peak of the series popularity, the song was not featured during the action sequence of the episode, but instead during the closing credits.

But as a 6th grader who got my hands on the cassette tape version of the McGee and Me! soundtrack, I didn’t know any of this. I just knew I loved the song.

In fact, I bought my first portable cassette player especially so I could listen to this soundtrack. All the songs were amazing, but my favorite was “Hold On” by Michael W. Smith.

I think it’s safe to say that the “new original song for every new episode” formula in my original webseries, Jack-Man, has something I learned from seeing McGee and Me! as a kid and loving the soundtrack.

Please feel free to share your own warm memories of McGee and Me! Show me I’m not alone in my nostalgic thoughts!

5McGee and Me! Soundtrack: “Hold On” by Michael W. Smith

I Write Jingles for Toyota (Along with Philips Norelco & Monterey Bay Aquarium)

It’s true. I do indeed write jingles for Toyota.

I Write Jingles for Toyota

Perhaps my inspiration is Phoebe Buffay of Friends when her song “Smelly Cat” was bought out by a major cat food brand.

In the age of YouTube, what can stop me from using my own time and talent to write and record jingles for free, and then promote them on my blog and YouTube channel?

Who knows, maybe I can eventually become a jingle writer full time? I’m making a habit of self-appointing myself as “jingle writer” for Toyota, as well as other brands.

I’ll show you what I mean…

Three weeks ago, our family was sent a 2015 Toyota Corolla to review here on Family Friendly Daddy Blog. One of the things I decided to do with it was to shoot a “homemade commercial”.

So I wrote “Down Low in a Corolla”:

Can’t ya see that we’re Corollin’?

Down low in a Corolla

Gotta keep that family flowin’

Down low in a Corolla

Can you keep up with us?

We’re no Kardashians

But we can lay it down if you can pick it up

Jammin’ to grooves of Walk the Moon

Kids’ car seat in the back

Before that, I recently wrote “Family in a Camry” while we reviewed the 2015 Toyota Camry:

I got my family in a Camry

And we’re happy campers trippin’ to your town

Here we go!

This same video also features the jingle I wrote for Monterey Bay Aquarium:

Hey, hey! It’s Monterey Bay Aquarium

Hey, hey! It’s an underwater adventure

I immediately afterwards wrote a jingle for the 2015 Toyota Avalon:

Come along, in an Avalon, we’re gonna make it great!

In July, Scion (which is part of the Toyota family) sent me to Grand Rapids, Michigan to check out their new Scion iM and IA. Here’s that jingle:

I’ve got my eye on Scion

Try on Scion

Experience what Millennials already know

The first Toyota jingle I wrote was back in May, when my son and I made a homemade commercial for the Toyota Sienna, which doubled as a trailer for our Jack-Man series.

Jack-Man rides in a Toyota Sienna minivan

His getaway car is driven by his dad

I also wrote a jingle for Philips Norelco:

In your face, 9700

In your face, you’ll be glad you found it

It cleans itself like a smart razor should

The percentage display shows the charge is still good

In your face, Philips Norelco

In your face!

We’ll see where this takes me. I enjoy writing and recording jingles for companies, for fun and for free.

You never know when it may get the right person’s attention.

I Write Jingles for Toyota

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Evan’s 5th Birthday Party”

4 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Evan’s 5th Birthday Party”

Dear Jack,

This is the 2nd of several entries in my new miniseries, Family in a Camry. In August while on our annual family vacation, Toyota loaned us a 2015 Camry for our road trips around California.

So I decided to compile all our video footage and photos into a narrative to remember our trip. Here’s this week’s video:

Of course, I already did the one about our Jack-Man video we made, which is sort of like an unofficial entry in the series as well.

(So maybe then, today is actually technically the 3rd Family in a Camry entry in the series…)

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Evan’s 5th Birthday Party”

Mommy and Evan’s mommy grew up together in California; they’ve known each other for a long time.

Actually, you met Evan for the 1st time in August 2011; 4 years ago. I wrote about it at the time.

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Now, Evan is 5 years old and you are just a couple of months away from your 5th birthday, which we plan to celebrate in Florida; while reviewing another Toyota.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Evan’s 5th Birthday Party”

As for Evan, he decided he wanted to have his party at the local skating rink. So that meant you got to roller skate for the 1st time!

There was also a “jumpy house” there; as well as those roller scooter things…

The fact that Evan’s birthday party just happened to be during the 10 day span we were there in California on our annual family vacation was completely coincidental.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Evan’s 5th Birthday Party”

But what a perfect coincidence!

Even though you and Evan were born only 4 months apart, you guys are a year apart in school; based on the way the cut-off date.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Evan’s 5th Birthday Party”

I have a feeling that you and Evan will grow up knowing each other; even if you only see each once a year.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Evan’s 5th Birthday Party”

Stay tuned for my next Family in a Camry entry, which features our family visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Evan’s 5th Birthday Party”

Love,

Daddy