Sunday, August 28, 2016

(183) Don't Forget to Feed the Fish

Tonight I fell asleep and had a dream.  I dreamt that my room was filled with various aquariums, at least five separate tanks spread out between my dressers and night stands.  They were beautiful and filled with brightly colored underwater decorations and fake plants that seemed to dance on their own. Glittery pink houses and sunken ships with treasure chests.  Bubbles.  There were too many tanks for it to be the slightest of reality, and I think I realized that despite being in my dreaming state.  But still, I was horrified to discover that most of the tanks were filled with dead fish.  There they were, floating at the top of each tank, belly up.  Dead. I quickly began checking each tank and discovered that some of them still had a few fish swimming around, but they looked incredibly weak and slow.  I grabbed some fish food from my nightstand and immediately began pinching big clumps of it, throwing it in each tank, and ducking down to see if they were eating.  I was hoping that the few remaining fish were even capable of eating at this point.  And luckily, they were.  The fish saw the food, ate, and in what seemed like an instant, were completely energized and all was well.  I sat on my bed and felt a wave of guilt hit me like a fast-moving train. I forgot to feed the fish.  I forgot to feed the fish. They died because of me.  It was all my fault.

 Now, I can't say that I have any real emotional attachment to fish. Why I had this dream, I'm not entirely sure.  And why it was symbolized by and with fish, it sure beats me.  If this dream had involved pets higher up on the "feels-like-family" scale, I'm sure I would have woken up in tears.   But maybe I would have missed the point of my dream, overwhelmed by shock.  So, fish it is.

I think this dream sums up what and how I've been feeling.  I find it simultaneously interesting and painful that the tanks were placed in my bedroom. Interesting because of external analysis, painful because of internal symbolism.  My bedroom is the very place I retreat to each night for solitude and rest.  The same place I wake up in, hopeful for light and a new day.  It's the room where I am most myself.  I must have walked past the tanks at least twenty times each day, and still...I forgot to feed the fish. How did I forget to feed the fish?

I hear parents talk about their fears when it comes to their children often. I can't say I truly understand.  I'm not a mom.  But I think I have a pretty good idea.  Zero self-sufficiency for a kid and sole responsibility for a parent.  That's a lot of pressure.  What if you forget to pick up your kid from school and he/she decides to walk home since it's not that far?  What if you accidentally lock your baby in the car on a hot summer day?  What if you feed your child something he/she is allergic to, but they're too young to verbalize their symptoms?  These are terrible mistakes with dangerous and even deadly consequences.  I think the pressure is so high that parenting has become an obsession for some.  Researching every nook and cranny of parenthood, trying to prepare themselves and prevent the tiniest bump in the road.  Sometimes I wonder what we would be like if we cared for ourselves the same way we care about our children.  If we really spent the time and care trying to understand our needs, our fears, our shortcomings.  If we spent more time trying to prevent awful things from happening, rather than dealing with the consequences later.  What would that be like?  What would you be like?  What would I be like?

I recently took a trip to the library in downtown Nashville.  It was beautiful.  Three stories, white marble across the floor, a giant room in each corner with bookshelves lined wall to wall.  Libraries always make me feel safe.  Probably because somewhere deeply rooted I remember what kindergarten was like.  We had to stand in a line and hold hands with our classmates as we walked to the library, making sure no one got lost or left behind.  Once there, we were allowed to drop hands and explore because we were safe.  Libraries are still safe to me.  I checked out a handful of books, mostly psychology books.  Some that were far-reaching on the scale of psychology teetering into astrology.  As I was checking out, I chuckled and thought, I look like a crazy person. "Map of the Soul"..."The Invisible Partners"..."Retrograde Mercury"...What am I reading?!

I think I've been thirsty for a while.  Thirsty and disillusioned.  I think that we are all self-obsessed, but what is so mind-boggling about that is the fact that we don't actually take care of ourselves.  Not really.  We may try to eat organic greens and avoid fast-food like the plague, or fit in some cardio when we really don't want to.  We may count how many hours of sleep we're going to get as we're climbing into bed or take vacations when the stress of work is too overwhelming.  Those are great things.  Healthy things.   But I'm not convinced that we take care of our minds, of our true selves.   When I talk to most people, I'm sad to say that I don't feel a connection.  And most of that is because honesty, trust, openness comes with time, and must be granted.  I understand that.  But what if we spent more time thinking about what we really need?  What if being emotional wasn't a negative label?

I'm pretty sure that was the point of my dream.  The fish represented pieces of myself that I had abandoned or neglected.  We kid ourselves into thinking that taking care of others is the most important, and giving, honorable thing to do.  But I'd like to challenge that.  Take care of yourself first.  That is something I learned this past year.  Something I had to learn.  And I had to learn it in one of the most painful ways possible, seeing my life come crashing down.   I had to learn it after-the-fact.  I was the mom who left the baby in the car.   I let the fish die.

My trip to the library is one small step of doing my part of research, preventative measure, rather than panicked research post-event.  I believe that the more we know about ourselves, the more we peek into every crevice of our mind, the smarter we are and more capable we are of loving selflessly, living happier lives, and generally being more fulfilled.  I used to cringe when I heard people say, "Love yourself first."  I would roll my eyes and think to myself, that's just an excuse to be selfish. Growing up in a Christian household, I thought that putting others' needs before my own was necessary and admired.   I guess I missed the footnote about taking care of your needs first.  "Put your oxygen mask on before trying to help children or the elderly."  Even airlines know.  Why it's taken me twenty-eight years to figure that out, I'm not sure.  But at least now I know, I have to feed the fish.  Unlike the parenting metaphors, it's much easier to forget to feed the fish.  It's easy to forget to take care of yourself.  One day becomes two.   Two becomes a week.  Weeks become months.  And then your world shifts and you realize you have no idea who you are.  That's a scary feeling.   You may look how you want, eat how you want, and have a perfectly scheduled life.  But if you're not feeling how you want, that's a problem.  And I do believe much of that is our own responsibility and even an opportunity.

 Take care of yourself first. And don't forget to feed the fish.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

(182) Nashville Part I

With having two consecutive snow days, it seems good as time as any to finally sit down and write about our experience in Nashville thus far.  Let me start out by saying this: Moving is difficult.

Now that I've proclaimed the most obvious fact...

Four months ago my best friend and I got married.  One month later we packed up our two cars with as many suitcases as we could fit and drove eleven hours to a city we'd eventually call "home".   It has been a whirlwind of ups and downs, celebrations and terrible heart aches, unbelievable excitement and paralyzing anxiety.  I don't think either of us have felt like our bodies are receiving the appropriate care they need.  Sleep, food, and exercise all seem to be secondary priorities.  Before you start feeling bad for us or thinking we should have known better, please know that these are all things we prepared ourselves for prior to moving down here.  We spent over a year researching this city and reading about people's experiences moving to it, leaving it, finding success, finding failure.  We contemplated New York, Austin, and L.A.  We didn't move here on a whim or because someone simply said we should.  Even with our mere three months of living here we've come across people who moved down here with high hopes and little preparation.  And now they're gone.  It's that kind of place.

Nashville is a strange city.  Very rarely do I meet a true Nashville native, and when I do, they're typically unhappy about the recent surge of inhabitants in the area.  It's a small city that never expected to be booming as much as it is.  Driving down here is almost a death wish.  I've driven in D.C. and New York, but driving here is a completely different story.  Four lane highways at 70 mph with people changing lanes without any regard to their surroundings is fun.  Blinkers do not exist here.  At all.  I once spoke with a woman from TN who joked that their driver's test consisted of three right turns and one left.  No parking required.  I wouldn't doubt it.  People are completely unaware here.  I've seen the most stupid and irresponsible decisions on the road here in the past few months than I have in the entire span of my lifetime.  Alas, I know you're not reading this to be informed on traffic details.

It has become perfectly normal to bump into a musician who's somebody or has played with somebody who's somebody, all at bars with a beer in hand.  One of the main goals we had for ourselves when we first moved down here was to network.  You've heard it a million times: It's all about the people you know.  We've met players who perform with Phil Vassar, Brooks and Dunn, Old Crow Medicine Show, etc.  A friend of mine actually asked an acquaintance we had met at a bar if he was around to hang, and unfortunately, he was in L.A. attending the Grammys.  A few weeks ago Michael Tait from DC Talk came to my restaurant for dinner.  It's not a big deal to accidentally bump into these people.  At the end of the day, they're just people.  As would be expected, most of the people we meet are fellow musicians.  In fact, all of our new friends down here are musicians.  Every single one.  And it's awesome.  Baltimore had a great sense of community and support in the music scene, but Nashville's is just so much bigger and more versatile.  All of our friends have amazing projects and completely different sounds.  I've never been around so many talented songwriters and artists.  It is an endless supply of inspiration and encouragement.  I have been lucky enough to have been recruited to play with two extremely gifted souls down here: Joanna Barbera and Emerson Wells.  Each with a unique sound and style, it's really all I could ask for in regards to finding outside projects to get myself into.  I am so grateful to have met them and even more grateful to call them friends and fellow bandmates.  The support and encouragement within the music community down here is unmatched thus far.

Aaron and I played our first show last month, and although it was probably a little premature on my end, it was a great experience to see how a crowd full of musicians and songwriters, talented musicians and songwriters, react to your music.  It was refreshing to play for people who listen, who care about your lyrics and are genuinely interested in what you're doing.  Sure, I know it's competitive, but I have yet to feel belittled or discouraged by another musician down here.  I'm sure it will happen soon enough, but for the most part, the community here is wildly supportive.  We're learning the hot spots for artists and are quickly trying to migrate ourselves to those areas.  We learned, quite fast, how much of a dead end Broadway is, and even more so, how terrible it can be to work on Broadway especially if you don't like country.  We visited Nashville over a year ago to check out neighborhoods and get a sense of the lifestyle down here.  While visiting The High Watt for a show, we met another couple and were told that East side was the place to be.  Now having been down here for a while, I think we've got a fairly decent opinion of Nashville's city layout.  West Side/Hillsboro area is definitely our favorite place to frequent, not to mention that Aaron works in that district.  It's filled with college kids, coffee shops, unique bars and overall, a nicer atmosphere.  The closest we can compare it to is a smaller Frederick, which is probably why we enjoy it so much.  East Nashville is definitely the place to be if you're a young musician or artist.  Almost every house is filled with roommates who are all musicians, living off of coffee and cigarettes.  It almost seems as though the bars are the towns' nooks and crannies.  You would generally overlook the plethora of dive bars, but inside you'd find a music showcase filled wall-to-wall with a supportive crowd taking advantage of $2 beers.  Like I said, Nashville is a strange city.  Each part of town is different, but no matter where you go, you can bet you'll hear live music.

We miss the Baltimore rowhomes and the cool breeze coming off the harbor water.  We miss the history and familiarity of downtown Fells, but the more we get out and see Nashville, creating new memories in this new place, the closer we feel to being able to call it home.

I'll leave you all with this story:

When we first moved down here, I got a job almost immediately and accepted it because, let's face it, any income is better than no income.  After just a few days it became very clear to me how much of a burden it was to do something I didn't enjoy.  I've had the luxury for my entire (adult) life to take on jobs that were jobs I wanted, believed in, or otherwise created on my own.  I went from being a self-employed business owner to a desperate minimum-wage seeker.  It became so difficult for me to get up and go to work that most of my commutes were spent crying and giving myself pep-talks, convincing myself that I had no choice, to seek humility and strive for meaning elsewhere.  I worked at a location that had thousands of employees and required a long walk to my department (there are mile markings, to give you an idea).  It didn't help that I am absolutely not a morning person and I can only imagine how much of my emotional instability was caused by that.  Every morning (and when I say morning, I actually mean 5:30am) I would pass by the electrical engineering station and an older man who was probably in his late 60s would always be there, greeting everyone who walked by.  He always wore a green jacket and always had a cup of coffee in hand.  It got to the point where I would try to avoid him because I didn't want to be addressed that early in the morning.  Like I said, I'm not a morning person.  A few weeks into working this job I must have looked pretty distraught walking in.  Before I even made it to my locker, the man in the green coat had come in a side door.  "Good morning, dear.  How are you?" he said before I even realized he was walking in stride with me.  I must have had tears in my eyes, but I remember saying, "I'm doing well, thanks," with a half-smile.  And then silence for the remainder of that hallway.  As we turned the corner to go down the next hallway, he said, "You know, these tunnels are very long and difficult to find your way.  Just when you think you've got a break and the path flattens out, you turn a corner and you have an incline.  But you know what the trick is?  You just keep going.  And it gets easier.  One step gets you further than where you were before.  And every day it becomes easier."  As we approached the electrical engineering station, he patted me on the back and said, "Have a nice day, dear."

I think that is a memory I will always have and hold dear.  I had never spoken to the man before that encounter, aside from a daily good morning.  And for some reason, he felt the inclination to give me the most sound advice and encouragement I needed in that moment, and in this time of my life.  It still makes me emotional to think about.  On my last day of work there, I was hoping to run into the man in the green coat, but he wasn't there.  Maybe it's more poetic that way, though.  I think this story epitomizes what it's been like to move down here.  It's extremely difficult and once we feel a bit of relief, something else comes our way that was unexpected.  But then again, that's life as we know it, isn't it?  Each day we're down here and each step we take towards making this place feel like home helps.  And he was right, it's further than we were the day before.  It just takes time.

Friday, September 5, 2014

(181) We're Not Naive, Just Hopeful

Judging by the fact that my right eye has been twitching consistently for the past twenty-four hours, I probably shouldn't spend the next hour staring at the computer screen writing this post.  But do I ever do what I'm told?

On a whim, I decided to log into my blog account with full intentions to cancel my membership, but upon doing so...I saw that I still have page views.  Every day.  Just a few days ago four people visited my blog.  FOUR PEOPLE.  Do you know what this means?  Eh, I don't either, but it inspired me to sit down (Confession: I was already sitting) and write a post.  It's only been a year.  Why not?

A lot of epic things are headed my way.  In three minutes (which will undoubtedly have passed by the time I post this), my wedding will be exactly one month away.  30 days.  I will spend a much-needed week in Seattle on my honeymoon and shortly following...will enter, arguably, the most stressful few weeks, months of my life up until now.  No, I'm not talking about my newly-wed relationship.  I'm convinced that will be utter bliss for the months following the wedding, but instead, I will be picking up everything I have and own and know, and will be moving a few states away to the lovely Tennessee.


Before I decided to start writing this post, I read my last post dated over a year ago.  I finished it off by saying, "I guess my next reflective post will be on the tail end of my exploration years, but if I have it my way...there will be no such thing."  Tada.  Here I am.  About to begin the biggest exploration and adventure of my life to date and I'm writing a reflective post.  Oh well.  #wineinspires.

We're Not Naive, Just Hopeful

This year in a nutshell: I moved back home.  I recorded my debut album.  I had my first public performance of my songs.  I got engaged.  I stopped taking students because I was at max capacity.  I really just wanted to say max capacity.  I am about to move out of state.  I am about to quit my job(s).  I'm getting married.

It's funny.  Throughout this past year, I've tried to sit down and blog.  It's always been relaxing and, if nothing else, helped me to conceptualize my life, but every time I tried to, I'd write...and delete, convinced I never had anything to blog about.  Well, I think I have enough to blog about now.  Judging by my epic end-of-the-world dreams I've been having, I think I have enough on my plate to write about.

First and foremost, I am so incredibly excited to be getting married.  More so, I'm excited to know that my best friend will be in my life every day following.  That he will be the one who comes home to me, and I to him.  This life adventure wouldn't be an adventure without him.  The fact that we're moving out of state, however, is completely terrifying (and a good bit exciting, too).  Why are we moving?  Short answer: We're both musicians and songwriters.  Long answer: We're both musicians and songwriters and we feel that being in the mix is going to be best for us musically and emotionally.  We're not expecting to strike an amazing record deal, or licensing deal, or meet so-and-so who knows so-and-so and suddenly we have this incredible tour bus and we're traveling city to city playing our songs for a million adoring fans.  No.  Please stop assuming that we're naive enough to think that.  We were all young once, but then we grew up.  Being in the mix is practical, but more importantly, it's inspiring.  As musicians and creative people, we crave inspiration and art and style and out-of-the-box thinking.  Living in the suburbs where every house looks the same with white picket fences is just about as scary as living in the ghetto for us.  Not to say that's not acceptably desirable by others.  We absolutely respect that for others and understand that everyone is's just not for us.  As sad as it is to say, we just won't get inspiration and art and style and out-of-the-box thinking in our (my) hometown.  It just dawned on me that I haven't announced where we're moving, but unless you live under a rock, you probably already know.  Aaron and I will be moving to Nashville, TN.  Does this all make sense now?  And yes, thank you for pointing out that we don't play country music.  No, neither of us play country music.  In fact, despite meeting in a country-rock band, neither of us really like country music.  We appreciate it, but it's just not our thing.  So why Nashville?  Well, it's amazing, for starters.  The people are all transplants, completely understanding of where we are and surprisingly encouraging, everyone is friendly, there's no state income tax (Haha, wut?), but most of all: there's an appreciation for art.  Now I'm not saying that Baltimore doesn't appreciate art.  In fact, I'd argue that Baltimore has a deeper appreciation for art and I've been lucky enough to spend most of my childhood field trips in museums and gone to colleges that give out free passes to art galleries.  Nashville has art in the sense that the every day life, itself, is inspiring.  Walking into a new bar and looking at the cocktail  Any food,  Moseying into the local music store and talking to the sales associate who spouts off all his knowledge about the gear you  Stopping in for a quick coffee and seeing local photography and prints hung on the  Striking up a conversation with any given stranger and being able to talk about your favorite artists, your respective musical  Art is everywhere in Nashville and it's so damn inspiring that Baltimore just doesn't compare.  Baltimore has been good to us, but it's all we know.  There are many things we will miss about Baltimore, but we can't miss them until they're gone.  

So yes, we're moving to Nashville.  It's scary.  Really scary.  We're leaving everything we know and taking a leap of faith that this is where we're supposed to be.  There have been signs, though.  And if you know me, you know how I'm a fan of signs.  The end-of-the-world dreams are not to be interpreted as threatening.  If anything, I think they reflect the epic nature of all we're about to experience and the natural, overwhelming feeling of going with the flow.  As my soon-to-be husband's tattoo says: Embrace The Chaos.  Life is chaotic.  Marriage is chaotic.  Moving out of state is chaotic.  But it's our chaos.  It's our decision.  And no, we're not naive, just hopeful.  Hopeful for a more meaningful life filled with art and music and love.  

No.  We're not naive, just hopeful.  

Saturday, June 15, 2013

(180) Win, Win?

It doesn't feel like I graduated from college three years ago.

I think I should be settled/successful/grown-up by now.  But I'm not.

I think I'm quickly learning that feeling never goes away.  Despite how many years pass, nobody is really satisfied.  But I think I'm also learning that that's a major part of life, that constant dissatisfaction.  Wildly enough, it's the constant dissatisfaction that pushes you to keep growing, keep learning, keep experiencing.  Dissatisfaction might be the most satisfying feeling to have.  Maybe that's a hyperbole.  And by maybe I mean, of course it is.  But it is not a completely false statement, either.

I'm not sure when I last had a post like this, but I think it's safe to say a year or two has passed since.  Despite not being settled/successful/grown-up at the age of twenty-five, I have definitely learned how to settle, I have achieved bits of success, and I have experienced the grown-up aspects of life that seemed so distant at one point.  In that time I have quickly morphed into a braver, more creative version of myself.  I have also, without realizing, taken on a more realistic view of people and grown thicker skin as a result.

I often compare my perceptions of the world, like when I was a child and things were magical and innocent, to my world now where life is chaotic and things don't always make sense.  It makes me feel simultaneously sad and intrigued.   Somewhere along the way I learned that questions don't always have answers, let alone right answers, and people aren't mysteries hoping to be cracked open.  Everyone just does what they can.  And that's it.  That's all you can ask for.  That's all you can do.  I hear parents say that all the time.  They're scared shitless when they see their baby for the first time, but they do the best they can in raising it and hoping it turns out remotely grounded and happy.  You just do what you have to do. 

I have never felt like I belonged in this world.   There's probably some psychological reason embedded deep in my history of being, but...I'd like to think that it's because I have made it outside the box.  Outside the box of conformity and reason and settling.  Outside the four-walled house with a brick patio and the smiling neighbors who collect your mail when you're on vacation.  Outside the cubicles lined with suited people who go home with paper cuts everyday.  I don't mean to sound self-righteous.  There's nothing wrong with either of those scenarios (except maybe the paper cuts).  And to throw in my previous catch phrase: We all do what we can.  I get that.  I'll be the first one to admit that I wanted that at some point in my life.  But when given the chance to make it happen, I ran away because I realized that's not really what I wanted from life.  I'm self-employed, doing exactly what I planned to do since the age of...twelve or so.  It's not practical, but I love doing it.   While most of my friends are getting married and having children, I feel like I'm just about to start my life.  I'm always thinking that.  I'm always thinking that my life is about to start, but life started twenty-five years ago.  Most people have this realization catapulting them into a security-seeking frenzy.  And while I, just like any other, crave security...I value adventure more so.

When recently asked what I wanted to do with my life, I didn't know how to answer.  It occurred to me that I had achieved what I always hoped to achieve.  Then it became clear to me that I haven't really set any goals since, nor have I allowed myself to dream.  If I settle on anything, it'll be this: the coming years are going to be years of exploration.  I think most twenty-somethings would agree.  My first post like this was shortly after I made the decision not to pursue graduate school.  I was scared and excited because I didn't know what to expect.  I didn't know if I could do it.  I didn't know if I could be successful without a guideline.  It was the first time I was 'free'.  I think the next few years will be the same way.  Moving out of state, pursuing something, yet again, impractical but rewarding, and living a life free of boxes and guidelines.  It worked out the first time, so why shouldn't it now?  And besides, if at any point I'm dissatisfied with my least it'll push me to pursue greater things and explore some more.  Win, win?

Don't you worry.  I'm not about to pull an Alexander Supertramp alias out of my back pocket or anything.  For now, I'd like to just leave it as is: exploration.  That's another thing I've learned.  Most people don't care what you do with your life.  They don't care to hear about it, I mean.  It doesn't really matter if I tell you what I have planned or not.  That won't change what you're about to do in the next five minutes, or the rest of your day, or this weekend.  I've learned that some things are better kept to yourself.  But maybe this will challenge you to think about your own life and your own goals and dreams.  What have you left behind?  Are you doing the best you can?  Are you dissatisfied?  Are you satisfied?  What's next?

I guess my next reflective post will be on the tail end of my exploration years, but if I have it my way...there will be no such thing.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

(179) Redbox.

Bam.  Truths.

How many of you have ever encountered a situation that at first seemed daunting, intimidating, or impossible?  (Story of my life.)  I recently had a conversation the other day with a friend about how anxious I get when I'm trying to pick out a movie at a Redbox and there is a fellow movie-renter patiently waiting behind me.  I'll rush through and feel so flustered that 75% of the time I go home empty-handed.  I'm so conscious of other people's movie-renting experience that I sacrifice my own. 

Yes, I just filled my sad story quota for this evening. 

But in all seriousness...the moment we step outside of our comfort zone...really is when we begin to live.  (And now I just filled my cliche quota, cha-ching!) Although we are creatures of habit, nobody likes to be in a rut.  Unless of course your rut consists of living in a mansion with a Ferrari and maid's service to bring you French crepes in the morning.  That would be pretty fly.  But in terms of real life satisfaction, people naturally crave adventure...I think.  We just forget it...or satisfy it with other means.  I think this is where I am currently.  I have no specific adventure to tend to.  And it's so comfortable that it's uncomfortable.  What about you?   

 It is silly to think of all the opportunities we shy away from because we're simply scared of them.  It's additionally depressing to think about what good may have come from said opportunities.  Why do we do that?  Why do I do that? 

I think I am nearing the end of this comfortable rut.  Now that my 'schedule' is becoming more routine with school back in session, I'm feeling antsy to throw my free time up in the air and see where it lands.  Sometimes I worry about the vastness of opportunities...then I remember that I need to start small.  First quest?  Redbox. 


Sunday, August 26, 2012

(178) Dear Autumn

Dear Autumn,
       I miss you and am looking forward to your return.  I think your presence will help me get back on my feet.  You always remind me that change is beautiful and necessary.  Natural.  You remind me that one must fall in order to grow.  One must be stripped down to its bare form, one must be raw in order to be appreciated and loved.  You fill my soul with good things.  Please come soon.

Your friend,






Saturday, August 25, 2012

(177) identity crisis 101.


 What am I doing with my life?

That question has been, more like suffocating me this past month.  Most people experience this moment when they are lost in some chaotic whirlwind of poor choices and endless regret.  But risking the (probable) outcome of sounding self-conceited, I should start by saying I have everything I've ever wanted.  I should really be the last human being to be throwing a self pity party, but I promise you...that's not what this is.  Or at the very least this is not meant to be one, but I'll leave it up to you to form your own opinions.  I grant you that right.

I just don't know what to do next.  Everything on my major checklist has been checked off.  Go to high school, get a scholarship, fall in love, graduate from college, run my own studio, play in a rock band, move out, join an orchestra, blah, blah, blah...great.  Fantastic.  Now what the hell do I do?

I'm twenty-four years old and I'm having my first adulthood identity crisis.  Help!  Sometimes I fantasize about running off into the woods and living there for many years.  Building a tree house and contemplating life's mysteries while listening to nature and admiring natural beauty.  But then I realize I would most likely die from starvation or loneliness or I'd get mutilated by a bear or something.  And there's absolutely nothing romantic or epic about that.  We all read/watched Into the Wild.  That's a pretty shitty way to go, agreed?  Better stay in my temperature-controlled house and eat my organic yogurt while watching Netflix in bed.  This is the part where I shake my head because it all just sounds ridiculous.  All of it.  I sound ridiculous.

I realize this may not make sense to all of you.  Trust me, it doesn't make sense to me either.

More than anything, I believe the overwhelming vastness and variety of possibilities are what feel like such a burden these days.  People always tell me that I'm young and that I have time.  True and true.  I just don't know what to do with my youth or my apparent abundant hours.  I could very well keep on keeping on...doing what I'm doing.  I could live a content life.  I could settle down and be okay, be happy, even.  But even just thinking about that seems so...uninspiring.  And if there's a feeling I hate to harbor, it's feeling uninspired.  I'd even venture to say that I'd prefer heartache or jealousy.  Anything but numbness.

I'm the kid at the playground who can maneuver the entire area with her eyes closed.  I've done the monkey bars and the spiral slide a million times, I've even done those lame spring pads that barely move when you jump on them.  And while I'm proud of what I've done, I'm bored.  I'm also scared and intimidated.  This world is a huge place and I'm a small person.  I've conquered my small playground, but can't step outside my box.  I don't know quite where I fit in...if I want to fit to fit in.  Maybe I'll start selling things on eBay or maybe I'll write a book (probably not).  Maybe I'll just go all Eat, Pray, Love on the world.  (probably not).  I don't have the money for that and I'm no Julia Roberts.

I'm at a standstill.  I need to be out of my comfort zone, but nothing is pushing me into the treacherous unknown.  So I guess for now I'll wait it out.  There's no use chasing the wind. 

"Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark
in the hopeless swaps of the not quite, the not yet, and the not at all.
Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration
 for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach.
The world you desire can be won.

It exists.  It is real.  It is possible. 
It's yours."

Thursday, November 24, 2011

(176) Desired Things

Hello all.

In light of the holiday I figured it was an appropriate time to sit down and unwind.  Obviously, blogging has not been high on my to-do list.  Nor on my want-to-do list.  So consider this me making up for lost time.

Perhaps this seems inappropriate...or morbid, but I've had death on my mind a lot recently.  Whenever somebody in your life circle dies, I think it's nearly impossible to not think about death.  None of us can avoid it, let's face that fair and square.  But it is an overall looming fact.  I can't say I've ever been one to be scared of death.  And maybe that's because of how I was raised or because of what I believe...but nevertheless, death has always been an okay idea to me.  It makes sense.  I think.

The nice thing about death is that it really shouldn't be sad, unless it comes too soon.  And that's something I don't quite understand.  I hope that by the time I reach the end of my life, I will be ready to move on, much like Priscilla Ahn's line, "I lived it full and I lived it well, there's many tales I've lived to tell.  I'm ready now."  To be content at the end of my life is my ultimate goal.  Just to be content.

These past few days I've been overwhelmed with the amount of love and kindness from friends and family.  Viewings, I dare say, tend to creep me out.  Funerals are always surreal.  Sometimes the way we honor the dead doesn't always seem to add up in my mind.  But maybe I'm just missing something.  Eh.  People are real, though.  And love is real.  Kindness never goes unnoticed and grace will always be admirable.  There is a beautiful, streamlining connection among people where love is present.  It is most evident in the face of heartache, desperation, and sorrow, but undoubtedly exists every day.  We just forget to acknowledge it.  Or appreciate it.

I hope that by the end of my life, every person I've had a chance to know can hold onto one good memory.  At least one.  Because even when you are gone, people will tell stories about you.  They will laugh with you, smile with you, and carry on your legacy.  The absolute last thing I to pass on knowing that there is nothing left of me to survive.  I have seen what that looks like and I find it to be incomparably sad.  A real tragedy and a waste of life.  I believe we are meant for more.

So, this Thanksgiving...I give thanks for you...for people.  We are capable of such great things that should not be hindered or reigned in by fear or bitterness.  I am thankful for time and bountiful opportunities to make things right and to make the better decision, however difficult it may be.  I am thankful for all my friends and family who have drowned me in encouragement, given me strength, and made my burdens lighter.  May you all find contentment this Thanksgiving.  Create beautiful moments that will become somebody's 'one good memory' when your number is called.  That seemingly passing moment will one day be a treasure.  "With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.  Be cheerful.  Strive to be happy."

Happy Thanksgiving, friends.  Take care.

desiderata by max ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.
Take kindly to the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

(175) Hello Again!

I know what you're thinking...

Okay, maybe I don't, but I know that it has been super long since I have posted and for that I do apologize. As the talk of holidays begin to creep into my everyday conversations, I can't help but be excited for cold winter nights where I can stay up late and indulge in all kinds of projects.  OH.  That reminds me.

I did complete my Project here's the low down:

Do you ever become so bogged down with work?  Errands?  To the point where you reach the end of the day and wonder what the hell did I accomplish today?  Well, as the end of August came I began to look at my schedule for September and nearly had a heart attack.  Lessons (nearly triple the amount I had last year at this time), part-time day job, Montessori School beginning, Encore starting up, Mason Vixon shows...complete stress overload (and you know how easily I get stressed out).  I began to foresee how this month would go.  I would reach the end of it and just like every day, wonder what the hell did I accomplish?  As a result, I decided to come up with a plan to fix this.  I created a list of 30 tasks to accomplish, tasks that made my day better in some way, whether it be encouraging somebody else by sending an email or making myself relax by setting aside time to go for a walk.  I chose tasks that I knew would inspire me in some way because to be inspired is to be.  Each day I chose a task from my list to check off.  Of course there were days when I'd search for the easiest, least time-consuming task to perform so I could move on to all the other must-do's for the day, but I was always glad to have done...something.  It was nice to hit the pause button on life and light a candle or search for a meaningful poem.  Too often we focus on the hustle and bustle of life and miss out on the small things.

So...that was my Project September.  Simple.  I'd encourage all of you to do it at some point.  Not only does it give you a reason to relax, to be inspired, or to have something to look forward to, but it's also a fail-proof way to challenge yourself.  Include a few things on your list that scare you.  You'd be surprised what you can do simply because it's the only thing left on your list to do...

I had to post this because yesterday I went to a corn maze with friends.  It was pirate themed and we had to answer questions throughout the maze, but there were a few we couldn't obviously we resorted to our wise, dear friend, google.  Yes, we cheated.

...but it's okay, because we still lost.

I guess that's what we get!

Happy Sunday, folks.  We'll talk soon.  Promise.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

(174) Because I'm Feeling Sentimental...

Sometimes we smile...simply because the other is smiling.  
Sometimes we cry because the other is crying.  
Sometimes we're strong because we need to be strong for the other.
Sometimes we speak because a voice has been lost along the way.

Have you ever met somebody and knew...right then and there...that they had a good soul?  That they were kind, humble...noble?  Well, I can say that this has happened to me exactly three times in my life.  There's an unfamiliar...familiar...feeling I get when it happens, too.  Wholeness.  Contentment.  Pure adoration.  Do you ever meet someone and wonder how much you'll share with them?  Will it just be a lazy lunch on a rainy day...or a lifetime journey?  Will I wave to them and say hi...or will they know me so well that words become irrelevant?    

This is an ode to my two best friends.

My two best friends.  We've survived a lot I'd say...Harrowing decisions that have left us nearly paralyzed, broken hearts which have nearly made us lost souls, absolute confusion and bewilderment thanks to the world we live in.  We were there for it all.  Late-night phone calls consisting of nothing but silence and tears, endless coffee dates spent discussing the unknown future, long-winded monologues contemplating our past.  We were there.  We were there for each other's triumphs, too.  Moments that seem to lack a sense of time are outlines of my favorite memories.  Most of those memories are shared with them.  We were there for it all.  We used to live down the hall from each other.  And then five minutes across campus.  And then fifteen minutes across town.  And now, we're scattered across three different states.  But nothing has changed and I pray it never will.  This is how I know it's real.  If anything, this past year has served us a great task, however different that may be for each of us.  But at the end of the day, they're there.  They've always been there and they'll always be there.  My two best friends.  

The two people who stood in pouring rain to be with me when I was alone and scared.  
The two people who continued to love me, despite my unwilling confessions.  
The two people who continuously encourage me, support me, and remind me that everything will be okay.  

This is an ode to my two best friends. 

I miss you.  I love you.  
And I thank you for everything you have done.  

"To us. Who we were, and who we are. And who we'll be."

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