Jim Alabiso may be the only person ever to say this: “Thank God I was bullied.”
The Jacksonville innovator, social entrepreneur, film producer and clean-water advocate says that holing away in his bedroom during his adolescence had an upside.
“That’s where I got creative. That’s where I got to fantasize,” says Alabiso, 59. “That’s where, since no one else was going to like me, I had to learn to like myself.”
It was only within the last few years, though, that Alabiso turned another huge corner — and truly began liking himself.
Yoga, he says, helped trigger a newfound ability to remove the mental obstacles that continually kept him on edge.
Although self-confidence is still a regular challenge, Alabiso says learning to stretch his personal limits has helped him fully discover self-love, which yoga teachings say is the basis of all life.
“I don’t filter things anymore. I don’t let things get in the way like I once did,” he says. “I’m so good with who I am now.”
Thus, for Alabiso, the flood gates of creativity have opened for him like never before.
It couldn’t have come at a better time. He recently walked away from a six-figure career as a corporate software developer to fully focus his energy on his creative passions.
A longtime clean-water advocate, Alabiso is a partner in LEAP Collaborative, a consulting agency that helps people develop strategies for positive change in their organizations, professional lives and communities.
His latest venture is producing, writing and co-hosting a late-night-format Jacksonville television show.
“Tonight! with Jim Alabiso” will debut in June on Mee Mee TV, a new network founded by The Performers Academy operator Kathryn McAvoy. Mee Mee TV is broadcast on WVVQ digital 18.1 on WVVQ and is live-streamed at meemeetvjax.com.
The show’s mission parallels that of the network: to advance arts and culture in Northeast Florida. It also goes hand-in-hand with Alabiso’s modus operandi; he writes the show’s script, produces “Tonight!” and pens its music, sparing no creative juices.
“It was work to get to this point, but I let everything come out and worry about what comes out later,” he says. “It might end up in the trash, or it might end up in Arbus magazine (for which Alabiso is a columnist), or it might end up somewhere on ‘Tonight! with Jim Alabiso.’”
A lifelong innovator who began writing songs as a pre-teen and developing software as a young adult, Alabiso says he feels he’s on top of his game as an artist and change-maker.
“’Tonight! with Jim Alabiso’ allows me to be a geek and to be creative at the same time. I don’t like the two without each other,’” he says. “I quit production for many years and now I’m back at a time when my creativity seems to want to peak. It’s on an upswing, anyway.”
Alabiso says “Tonight!” deliberately has no resemblance to David Letterman’s and Jimmy Fallon’s shows.
But, he says as he prepared to record the first shows, he re-watched Fallon’s debut for inspiration. That’s because, like Alabiso, Fallon was extremely anxious about his new gig.
“I did it to make myself feel OK,” he says.
Indeed, the exercise was an example of how Alabiso has learned not to exclusively rely on yoga to get into the right frame of mind.
“The key is to be able to accept and acknowledge that I am scared,” he says. “To be able to have the freedom in my life to be able to talk about it now is tremendously liberating. It’s a comfortable place to be. So, now, I look back and say, ‘Thank God I was bullied.’”