Coulda, Shoulda, Nope.

Featured

I have difficulty asking for things, especially things I need, and whenever I’m faced with the choice to ask for help or slog through on my own, I usually opt for the solo-job.  When I find myself unable to do it alone, instead of asking I go through this really amazing acrobatic routine of hints and hoping someone will offer that I learned when I was a child.  Sometimes I fight this urge.

After all, the worst thing they can say is “no”, right? … Nope.  The WORST thing is when they mean no, but say yes anyways out of a sense of obligation.

I know this because I do it ALL THE DARNED TIME.

I agree to doing something because I do genuinely want to be helpful, even if this particular task is WAY out of my skillset and would probably be done better (and more enjoyably) by someone who actually wants to do the thing.

Being able to see it from the opposite perspective lets me see what a disservice I was doing by appearing to be helpful while really just resenting the crap out of whatever I was doing, and I’m not sure how this will affect the things I agree to, but it’s something I’m going to be thinking of from now on.

Advertisements

Reasons (Excuses?) & Resolutions

Featured

I’ve been quite literally ambivalent about writing lately.  Not in the commonly (mis?)used sense of not caring – which would be apathy, not ambivalence – but in the sense of having simultaneous contradictory feelings about a particular course of action.

I’ve been really considering my motivations for things lately, and the realization has hit me that I may have started doing this “for me”, and using a public space to hold myself accountable, but it’s definitely changed to something a lot more about needing to write something that will get feedback.  Ideally positive, but really just any sort of attention will do …

And that’s a theme from my past that I don’t feel like replaying as I move into the future.

Call it a New Year’s Resolution, or whatever, but I’m going to try to get back to a space where I’m really listening to myself and doing what I think is best for me; not just what will get me the most likes, comments, and shares.

It’s hard to balance, as a musician.  The reality is that social media is part of my job, so it can be easy to feel like using this as another promotional tool just makes sense, and maybe that’s true.  But if I’m going to promote myself, I’d like to make sure that the person I’m promoting is the real me.

Routine Ain’t Been A Routine For Me

Featured

I’ve been missing blogs here and there over the holidays – apologies to you, dear reader, and to myself for falling off the blog-wagon – and it’s been difficult to get back into the swing of things.  It’s got me thinking a lot about routines and habits, because while I have loads of habits (many of them not particularly healthy) – when I think about it I don’t have a lot of structure in my life.

I tend to wake up early, but I don’t have to, and if there’s nothing particularly pressing that day I also tend to laze around listening to vlogs/podcasts and doing little busy-work things that let me feel like I’m doing something, but don’t really get much accomplished.

Pretty much every study you read will tell you about the health benefits of developing routines for sleep, eating, exercise, etc., and if you’d like to do some research, this post is great and contains lots of useful links.

So that’s my “Bring It In 2018” – *tip of the hat to John Green* – I’m going to bring more routine to my life.

Daily schedules for exercise, better eating (my habits there have become atrocious), and sleep are my first goals, and I’m going to purchase a special daily planner to keep track of my progress and hold myself accountable.

I’ve decided that when I do well for a week – which I will think of as more than half the time to start – I’m going to reward myself by buying something small (under $25) but long-lasting: like a book I’d like to read, or a small piece of art to have in my home.  If I don’t do well that week, the $25 I would have spent goes into a savings account, and at the end of the year I will do something (TBD) really special for myself.

What’s YOUR “Bring It In 2018?”

(Image is of a handcrafted daily planner, available at christinemarieford.indiemade.com)

New Year, New Things

Featured

I’ve taken a couple days longer on my vacation from blogging than I’d originally intended.  Holidays – despite the name – always seem to require a certain amount of recovery time.  Usually that would be from drinking, but I didn’t do much of that at Christmas and none for New Years, so it’s mostly just a case of needing a break from all the hectic pre-holiday stuff and my own social anxieties.

This being my first sober New Years is a big deal to me, because there’s always such pressure to make the day special, and in my own head I really wanted it to be a kind of break from the past – a step along a new path that might bring a different sort of future with it.

The night was hard.  I have some pretty awful memories from this time last year – the end of my 3 year relationship with my lover and bandmate – though those memories are a bit hazy from all the alchohol, stress, and self-deception I can still recall some pretty harsh words being screamed – at me and by me – and some frightening moments of actual physical fighting.  The marks and bruises.  The dented fridge.  The broken mirror.

I try really hard to put things like that out of my mind, and sometimes I’m reasonably good at it, but sometimes I’m not, and the last thing I want is to ruin everyone else’s good time, especially on New Years.  So instead of the bar scene at night, me and my best, most loving, and most intrepid of friends, Aric, drove to have breakfast and spend the day at the Niagara Falls.

It was magical.

We had breakfast at a gorgeous little place called the Paris Cafe, with all the kinds of french kitsch that you could possibly desire, and the most lovely breakfast menu of crepes, souffles, omelets, breads, sweet things, and beverages.  We had french-press coffee that tasted like liquid sunshine and crepes with prosciutto and cheese and apple compote, and talked a lot about the things we’d like for the next year.

It’s hard to describe the falls without using the word “magestic” – and even though I’ve seen their raw beauty in stunning high-definition images and video, there’s nothing that quite conveys the incredible sense of the power of all that water rushing over rocks and past tiny islands to hurl itself down hundreds of metres below.

It was freezing cold, of course.  The first of January isn’t the balmiest of days, and the closer you get to the falls, the colder it seems, but right up close the mist from the falls settles onto all the walkways, railings, trees, and bushes, so that everything seemed like it had been covered in crystal – sparklingly brilliantly in the white-blue winter sun.

It was surprisingly busy – I’d somewhat thought that the cold weather would keep most people away but there were loads of people from all over, speaking different languages and in unfamiliar accents, and it made me think of how many beautiful and rare things in the world are actually pretty close to me, and how I really want to make a point of seeing more of them.

If you ever go to the falls, even if it isn’t freezing and you’re not looking for a place to thaw out – I strongly recommend you visit the Butterfly House.

Once you get in (and shuffle off the outer layers if it’s winter) the whole place is a tropical 80 degrees with upwards of 65% humidity, filled with plants and insects and – of course – thousands of butterflies.

It was a fairy land.

Brightly colourful little blue, red, green, gold, and black things like flower petals fluttering around actual flower petals, floating through the air, landing on your arms, head, all the railings, and even just sitting on the pathways, slowly fanning their wings.

Seriously.  Magical.

All the thoughts of how a caterpillar becomes a chrysalis, it’s body structures turning into a soup and reforming an entirely new insect, but one that somehow retains all of the memory of the original caterpiller go running through my head, but in my heart I’m four years old again, just stunned by their beauty and wanting to touch.

They’re much less skittish of humans than an ordinary butterfly would be – being raised in this giant, heated glass topped building, constantly fed and monitored and handled by humans, so you can actually get right up close to take a look – or a photo – and they really do land right on you.  You might even be able to convince one to walk onto your hand with a bit of patience.

The whole day was amazing.

So good-bye binge-drinking at New Years, and hello to some new things.

I, like the butterfly, can be a completely new creature without losing the memory of what went before.

It’s all in your criteria

Featured

What makes a good Christmas?

When I was little, it was all about Santa; writing lists, going to see him at the mall, putting out cookies and milk (and an apple for Rudolf) on Christmas eve, waking up early in the morning – too excited to sleep for wondering what goodies might be waiting.

Christmas’s in my teen years were awkward affairs; not a child anymore, and not an adult either; play-acting at what I saw as “adult behaviour” – which seemed to be mostly complaining about how stressful it is to be an adult – and with no other people my age or younger to be able to relate to, or become involved on the other side of the Santa tradition: learning how to love to give just as much as you’ve enjoyed receiving as a child.

It took me a long time to learn that lesson.

As I became an adult, gift-giving was more stressful than anything else.   I felt a lot of pressure to try to get something really wonderful but never really felt like I could afford to do the things I wanted to do for the people I care about; so I would always feel this terrible sense of guilt whenever I gave presents.  Even now that feeling gnaws away at me sometimes, especially when I’ve been really spoiled; like I have this year.

I got to do some spoiling of my own too, and for the first time in a very LONG time, I really enjoyed the process of gift-giving.  Not just because it’s actually been a reasonable year for me financially and I can afford to go a bit over-budget, but also because I really WANTED to do lovely things for the people I love.  Not because I’m expected to, but because I’d like to and I can.

And since I got to experience the feeling of giving to some people that I know can’t afford to reciprocate – I finally understand that there was any need to feel guilty about not being able to give as much – because the gift isn’t just a thing – it’s a symbol of love; and receiving that love with grace and gratitude is a gift too.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas; and hope that all the gifts you share this holiday season are full of love, and thank you for reading!<3

A Happier Holiday

Featured

I know this time of year is supposed to be happy, so I feel a lot of pressure to try to make things perfect – as though getting the perfect gift or making the perfect meal is the key to a merry Christmas.

I know that it isn’t.

Growing up our holidays were intense affairs where my mother would run around in a panic for the week prior and complain for a week after.  The table looked perfect, the turkey looked like a picture from a magazine, and there was a mountain of crisply wrapped boxes, festooned with ribbons and bows under the tree.  We all wore our best clothes and were on our best behaviour – which usually led to grumpiness, resentment, and private fights with angry whispers behind closed doors.

But it never felt like it was really about US.  The people we actually were.  It felt like everyone was just play-acting the whole time, and now I know that the image I had in my head – the image we were all trying to portray of what a happy holiday ought to look like – is a lot more Hollywood than reality.

We were all trying to live up to the image of a perfect, happy family.  An image that is about as real as the fake icicles on the tree.  The real image of a happy family – for me at least – is one that doesn’t have to put on an act every time we get together.  That we can be the people we actually ARE, and be loved for it.

Things are different for me now.  I still get gifts for people I love – though a lot of them are home made now. I still have dinner with my family – though we sit around in comfy chairs and comfy clothes instead of formal wear at a big dining table.  I still unwrap my presents really slowly so I can re-use all the paper.  That probably won’t ever change.

But the way I feel about all these traditions HAS changed, and is changing every year.  I try not to have expectations about what things should look like or ought to be.  This year will be very different than last, and next year might look completely different again.  That used to scare the crap out of me, but now it doesn’t so much.

The next few days will be busy ones; work today and a show tonight at the Pearson, shopping and baking, dinnering and visiting and all the hubbub of the holidays, so I’ve decided to take Monday and Tuesday off from blogging, and I’ll join you all again on Wednesday the 27th.

Happy Christmas/Solstice/Kwanzaa/Hanukkah/Ramadan/Diwali/Chinese New Year/Festivus/Pizzamas/WhateverYouCelebrate ❤

Thoughts From A Long Night

Featured

I don’t know why I’m feeling better today, but I am.

Yesterday was a low day, and even though I was exhausted from a long day of work, I didn’t fall asleep until nearly four in the morning.  Not racing thoughts exactly, but whatever thoughts do in the back of the mind when you won’t let yourself think of them out loud – even to yourself.

Because some thoughts turn into thought-spirals, leading me down dark paths, and while one part of me thinks that I need to experience these thoughts and feelings, another part of me wonders if indulging in these thoughts is just a bad habit that I need to break to find any sanity.   I flip-flop between these two ideas, sometimes indulging, sometimes forcibly turning my thoughts to other things.  I’m never sure which is helpful and which is harmful … and sometimes I think that each has a little of both wrapped up in there.

Change doesn’t come in a moment.

The desire for change; realizations or ephiphanies that can lead to making different choices – that can be instantaneous, but it takes time before the new shoes you step into seem to really fit.  

A year ago I’d probably have “rewarded” myself for getting through yesterday with a bottle of wine.  I’d probably have slept better too, but woken up feeling shittier, and used the hangover as an excuse to “relax and recover”, and at the end of today I’d be just as anxious as yesterday that I’m  not making any REAL changes.

But instead I worked on a setlist for tomorrow’s show – I’ll be working with an old friend I’ve only jammed with before so this should be a lot of fun – and even though it was a long night, I got through it and I’m okay today.

Which shows me just how much I have changed.

Happy Solstice!

It can be a hard time of year

Featured

I’m finding it particularly hard to write today. I have a lot on my mind, but I’m not sure how useful it is – to me or anyone else.

This is a pretty self-reflective time of year with the traditions of Christmas and the on-set of the New Year bringing up thoughts of the past; the short, cold days and long, dark nights seem to lend themselves to introspection and nostalgia.

It can be a hard time of year for a lot of people. It’s a hard time of year for me.

I miss the big, family Christmas’s of my youth. Death and estrangement have whittled our numbers to a mere handful, so that there are ghosts – both named and unnameable – hovering at the edges now. I especially miss my Gramma, who was the matriarch of our little family in my eyes; since my Papa passed while I was still very young. I never realized how much she was the glue that held our family together, or how much she meant to me.

At the time I found these gatherings – the people I rarely saw and barely knew, the formal dress and behaviour that was expected – all terribly annoying. Now I miss the sense of really BELONGING somewhere.

I miss my father. My parents separated when I was six, and I continued to visit him every second weekend till I was a teenager. I don’t clearly remember why that stopped, but we’ve been estranged for decades, and I’ve never really understood why. Perhaps it has to do with my need to understand things; I’ve always wanted to understand my parents’ breakup from his side of things, and (understandably) it was (and still is) a subject he’d rather not talk about.

I try to reach out once in a while, just to see how he is and let him know what I’m doing. Every few months I might get an email, or an e-card if it’s a holiday or my birthday, but he’s moved on with his new life, and I try not to hold it against him. I’m sure it’s more painful than pleasant to be reminded of things he’d rather let go.

I miss my sister; who was always super-excited for Christmas. We’ve had a difficult relationship, even as kids, but grew even further apart as we grew older, and we haven’t spoken to each other for a couple of years now. I think about her a lot at this time of year – because she was always so excited about Christmas – and the little private traditions she and I shared as children, and it all seems very far away now.

The loss of loved ones through estrangement can be especially difficult, because the loss of them isn’t just a loss; it’s a REJECTION of sorts – and imagining them enjoying their happy Christmas’s without you is a bit like having the ghost of Christmas past point at your name on the tombstone.

Which is why this time of year is so hard. It brings up a lot of memories, which can be lovely – but also painful, and I don’t know how to separate even the happy memories from the hue of loss and regret that colour them.

I try to remind myself that I’m lucky to have had these experiences, and that all things change. I try not to let the past have today; to think about the good things in my life right now and to appreciate them more deeply, and to find things to look forward to and be excited about. When all else fails I try to focus on some small problem I can fix right now.

I won’t be alone for Christmas – which is REALLY nice as only someone who’s spent the holidays alone can understand. On Christmas day I’ll be eating turkey and opening presents with what family I can, and I get a second Christmas with some dear friends on Boxing Day too. There are presents – both purchased and hand-made – under the little tree by my window for my loved ones, and I didn’t get too far outside my planned budget.

I’m warm and safe, reasonably healthy, and reasonably educated. I’m one of only about 15-20% of people that are lucky enough to live in a country with government subsidized healthcare – YAY CANADA! My bills are paid, there is a roof (a rather nice one in my humble opinion) over my head, hot or cold potable water available at the turn of a knob, food in the fridge, and high-speed internet.

My ancestors a hundred years ago couldn’t have even CONTEMPLATED the luxuries I EXPECT to be able to enjoy every single day. That puts things in perspective for me.

There was a time, not that long ago, when if you’d asked me what time I’d like to visit in a time-machine I’d’ve picked some really interesting or influential part of history. I still love the idea of getting to witness some of the events that shaped the world we live in today, and I still see all the problems that we still have to work out – not the least of which is figuring out how to live on the planet without killing it or ourselves – but this is a pretty great time to get to be alive.

And that’s something to be happy about. 😀

*photo by Alaskan Photo Treks*

It Ain’t So Cute Anymore

Featured

People often let little dogs get away with some spectacularly aggressive behaviours; snarling and snapping and jumping up at strangers – because they don’t see it as aggressive.  The animal’s too tiny to seem genuinely threatening, so it just looks cute, but imagine a rottweiler doing the same things and suddenly they aren’t so adorable.

That little dog is me.

Most dogs (big or small) don’t act viciously all the time, but only when they’re feeling insecure; and it just seems like small creatures tend to be more insecure than larger ones.   I can see why; being small means you’re at a physical disadvantage pretty much all the time.

I’m normally pretty reasonable, but when I get insecure or anxious ….

I don’t even notice it – I get louder, and more shrill, and though it might be laughable to think that I could pose a physical threat to anyone; I can be so emotionally intense that it feels like a physical assault to be around.

And I’ve been allowed to get away with it my whole life.

Like a yappy little dog, I’m sure it was cute when I was younger, and I’m sure that my small size has let me get away with emotional tantrums that a bigger person would’ve been called on years ago.  But it isn’t cute, it’s emotional bullying, and just because I’m feeling anxious and insecure doesn’t give me the right to explode all over the people around me.

I’m not making myself into the whipping dog here.  This stuff I learned.

I saw my parents & family explode at one another when they were cornered, so that’s what I learned to do, and sadly it’s worked really well for a long time.  I say “sadly” because it means that I’ve never been forced out of these terrible habits into something resembling an adult way of dealing with the world.

But if being small make this behaviour adorable – or at least tolerable – in the past,  it sure isn’t cute anymore : twice in the last week I’ve been kicked out of medical facilities because I couldn’t control myself enough to be able to communicate my needs without turning into a raging ball of emotions.

The first time I was simply misinformed of some hospital procedures and the staff – who were very busy and didn’t realize that there had been some confusion – had let me into a place they shouldn’t and kind of blamed it on me.  The whole thing probably would’ve resulted in a chuckle if I’d been able to calmly explain what happened,  but I got anxious and a bit hysterical, and next thing I knew they were asking me to leave.

The second time was blood-work, which I’m anxious about in and of itself.

The nurse was having trouble drawing blood (my veins tend to collapse when I’m anxious) so she called someone else in, but I didn’t realize what was happening, so when the new fellow came in with a needle and just went for my arm I kind of freaked out.  I’m not even sure what I said but I know it included the words “punch something”.

It wasn’t till I’d already gone back up to my doctor to explain what had happened that I could think straight enough to realize that I could have (and should have) simply said that I was having a panic attack and would need a moment.

Funny thing is; I really thought I’ve been doing pretty well.  I used to have these kinds of outbursts all the time when I was in my teens and 20’s, and I really thought that in the last decade I’d got a handle on all that.  Now I realize that I’ve just been insulating myself with people that would cater to my lack of emotional control, and keeping enough distance from the rest of the world that they wouldn’t see it.

That’s a hard realization.  One of many that I’ve been having lately.

Sometimes it’s really difficult under the weight of all these realizations; hard to keep a positive sense of self when I can see all these flaws that I’ve never noticed before – or always managed to justify to myself.  But I can at least like myself for being willing to look at these things honestly, and just because these are things I’ve done in the past doesn’t make them an intrinsic part of who I am.

Learning how to communicate my needs and get them fulfilled in healthier ways is going to be an uphill battle, and I’m probably going to slip along the way.    I hope that I get better at seeing it; and developing some better stress-busting skills.

I see it now, and I’m not making excuses for myself anymore.

How’s that for motivation?

Very Trying – So Am I

Featured

I’m actually in a pretty low place today, and I really want to find an excuse not to do this, or come up with something quick and easy to write about.  I don’t want to think deeply and write about my thoughts, I want to escape them.

Yesterday one of the “new things” I’ve been working on – practicing with a new group of musicians – fell through unexpectedly, and that’s got me a little down.

It’s hard not to think I’m the problem because finding people to work with has been such a struggle, and as much as I love playing on my own I miss the excitement of a bigger sound, and the inspiration and encouragement that comes from working with talented people.

I also totally forgot to post the video of my punishment, so I feel like I let myself down a bit there.  I’m DEFINITELY going to do it today, and I’ll post a link to the vid in tomorrow’s blog.

I’m way behind on Christmas, which is only a week away.

I’d been doing alright at the beginning of the month, but I don’t know what happened to the last couple of weeks, it feels like I blinked my eyes and here I am.  I did a pile of wrapping last night to try to catch up, but still have more to do and my house to get back into shape.

I have a doctor’s appointment today.

Trying to tell you the level of anxiety I get over these kinds of things is impossible, but basically I want to avoid this so much that even though I should’ve had this appointment over a year ago, and I can still feel my mind trying to come up with excuses not to go.  Or to try to get someone to go with me.

Walking around in the cold and snow is NOT my favourite thing to do, and the fact that it’s only the beginning of the cold season is bone-gnawingly depressing.

So, honestly, I don’t know how to be motivated today.  But I’m trying.

I’m up, bed’s made (keeps me from crawling back in – and also keeps the cat hair out), coffee’s brewing and I’m about to get a handle on the wreckage of presents, tape, wrapping paper, bags, and last night’s unwashed dishes.

And I’m actually pretty close to being done my shopping – a bit outside of my original budget but not frighteningly so – and it may be the first year since my mother was responsible for me that I’m not spending Christmas eve in a drunken flurry of last-minute wrapping.  Wouldn’t that be a treat?

I still have another musical project that’s hopefully gonna get underway soon, and still have other gigs I’m doing as well this month and next, and I’m actually looking to be on-target for finishing the last of the 20 songs before the end of the year.

And as much as the cold of winter is just getting warmed up (see what I did there – so punny 😛 ) in just a few days I’ll be able to start watching the sun rise a little earlier and set a little later, and just like the last few weeks flew by; the next few months will seem to do the same, and next thing you know it’ll be spring.

Photo by Ben Fudge

Giving, Receiving … And Punishments?

Featured

There is nothing that makes a person less inclined to give than feeling unappreciated.

I had an experience recently where I had arranged with a specific charity (that will remain nameless) to collect donations on their behalf at one of my gigs in lieu of a door fee, and it was great.  Got PILES of stuff.  But when it came time to drop it off, I was suddenly informed that they would only accept NEW items during December.

I was kind of miffed that they hadn’t bothered to tell me this earlier.  I even felt self-righteous; “Who are they to turn down perfectly good things just because they aren’t new?  Are they in need or not?”

But what I felt worse about was having to tell these nice people (who’d gone to all this trouble to bring all this stuff downtown in the cold and snow) that their donations weren’t wanted.

It all ends happily; I’ve since talked with some people and have grateful homes for nearly all the stuff and another charitable centre will take the rest, but it got me thinking about giving in general, and made me realize some things.

Firstly; people like to give.   We like to feel like we can do something nice for other people, whether it’s the people we love or strangers.  It’s nice to feel like something you’ve done has made someone else’s life a little better.  It feels good to be able to help.

Secondly; people want to give what they think is valuable.   Picture the old saw of a man giving his wife a mixer while she buys him a set of gold cuff-links and you see what I mean; we often give the kinds of things we’d like to receive.

In the case of the donations; I genuinely thought it was AWESOME that people had gone to all the trouble to wash and sort and fold all the items – mostly in stellar condition and really nice, brand-name stuff.  It never dawned on me that this is the kind of stuff that these kinds of drop-off centres receive all year, and that they have LOADS OF it.

I didn’t think, either, about the fact that someone who has nothing would especially appreciate the incredible gift of a brand new thing; just for them.

The thing I’ve learned most from all of this, however, is that just because your gifts aren’t valued one place doesn’t mean they aren’t valuable.

The donations didn’t go to the places we’d expected, but there will be people who have beautiful, nice things under their tree that wouldn’t have been there otherwise.  There will be people that get to enjoy their bountiful holidays knowing that they’ve helped someone else’s holiday to be a little bit brighter.

And there’s at least one person who gets to feel like they’ve learned a bit about how to receive things well; so that the giver knows just how appreciated their gifts are.

***As I mentioned yesterday;  I’ve decided that from now on whenever I miss one of these, which I did Wednesday, I’m going to do a punishment of some kind – Vlogbrothers-style – and I’d like your help with some suggestions.

This could be anything from doing a cover of your favourite song, to eating something gross (not unsafe though, cuz Safety First) or whatever weird and wacky things you guys can come up with.

So if you have an idea for a punishment, leave a comment (nothing dangerous, illegal, hurtful to others, etc.) and I’ll pick the best one and make a video of that on Sunday and upload it to YouTube. ***

Reality is the story we tell ourselves

Featured

Accept – to receive (as in a gift);

I’ve always had a good imagination. Underneath the current of my visible life – the life that you would see if you were to watch me in a reality tv show (which would be astoundingly boring, by the way) – there is a universe that’s all my own. The world I imagine. It’s a pretty cool gift, and some of my best ideas have from it.

Accept – to include (as part of a group);

Here I can talk to anyone I want, and because it’s all in my head; they understand me perfectly and are always empathetic and kind. I don’t have to worry about the painful reality that I – or they – might say something to hurt one another, that they might be too distracted by their own lives to have time for me just because I need them, or that they genuinely don’t care.

You might be there, if I know you well enough – but it’s not really you. It’s the you that I imagine; and what I imagine about you probably has mostly to do with me. It’s a pretty ego-centric universe; which might make you think that I always get my way there; but even though it’s my world; it’s not really under my control.

It’s the universe that my mind creates around me, made from my thoughts and dreams – my fears and insecurities. So a lot of the time when I imagine people; I imagine that they don’t like me very much.

Even though I could imagine myself a world in which everything is coming up Carol, what I usually do is replay old events and end up on a downward thought spiral – that I feel absolutely unable to control – in which I hate myself so thoroughly that I wonder that I have any friends at all. So I think of something else and try to imagine something good and next thing I know I’m back in the same shitty downward plunge all over again.

These worlds can seem to overlap until each eclipses the other, and I don’t know where I am. If you imagine something to be true enough times, eventually you forget that you’ve been imagining, and it just becomes true.

Accept – to acknowledge (as in a fact or idea);

That’s usually when I get panicked; reaching out to real people in the real world and trying desperately to connect with reality – and in my terror and desperation I can be … horrible.

People WANT to help me because I’m clearly in distress; but I can’t just “snap out of it” because my imaginary world IS reality for me; and I can’t see where the edges are to separate them anymore.

The more I try to convey what’s going on in my head in a way that anyone can understand, the worse it gets – why can’t I just let it go? why do I have to keep talking about this? Why don’t I just stop thinking this way?

I don’t know.

I try to. I do my best to put my mind into work, into music, into my community and the people around me. I do my best to focus on positive things and try to catch myself when I start brooding. I try to meditate and excercise, to learn new things, listen to new music, watch new movies. I try to find things to be excited about and look forward to.

But it’s always there in the back of my head.

I think I’m doing okay, and then I notice it suddenly – like a shadow seen out of the corner of your eye, it can seem to disappear when you try to look at it, but then it comes back as soon as your attention wanders. I don’t even notice it most of the time, until I do. And then I look back and realize I’ve been doing it the whole time without seeing it. Imagining again.

And my biggest fear is that it always will be. That I’ll never really be “okay”. That I will always have these dark thoughts in me – the first thing to fill my head when I wake up and the last thing that keeps me awake long into the night – and that I’ll have to fight against them every day for the rest of my life.

I’d like to think that in time it will get better, that I’ll get better at it and this will all get easier. It probably will.

At times.

But in the dark times … times of grief and loss, times of fear and distress, times of hurt and anger … will it always be this hard?

It may.

Accept – to take in;

Nothing in this world is completely one-sided. Technology is amazing because of what it lets us do – your cellphone is more complex than the computers on board the shuttle that took astronauts to the moon. And terrifying because of WHAT IT LETS US DO – google up the Pacific Garbage Gyre.

Focus only on the good and you may not see negative impacts until it’s too late. Focus only on the negative and you’ll never get the benefits something might have to offer.

I never realized – until recently – just how often I live in my fantasy world. Even when I’m out in the real world, talking to real people; I can get lost in the stories I tell myself. It’s something I have to watch for. Maybe always.

But it does have it’s good points – I don’t think I would write as well (hopefully I write well) or as often if I didn’t have this imaginary world stuck up in my head.

And maybe talking/writing about it is a good thing too. Yes, because it lets me get some of this stuff out of my brain, but also because hearing feedback from other people helps me distinguish the lines between what I imagine and what is real.

After all, in the end, isn’t reality just the imaginary story that we all agree to tell one another?

😉

Drawing by xbooshbabyx

*** I’ve decided that from now on whenever I miss one of these, which I did yesterday, I’m going to do a punishment of some kind.

This could be anything from doing a cover of your favourite song, to eating something unpleasant (not unsafe), or even dressing up as a superhero and volunteering at a local shelter/soup kitchen/community event;

So if you have an idea for a punishment, leave a comment (nothing dangerous, illegal, hurtful to others, etc.) and I’ll make a video of that on Sunday and upload it to YouTube. 😛 😀 ***

Creepy New Tune

Featured

I wrote a new song over the last week or so, and I haven’t titled it yet, so if you have suggestions leave them in the comments and I’ll pick the one I like the best.

It’s definitely weird, and a bit creepy, and I have no clue if it’s any good.

That’s kind of par for the course for me.  I’m not sure if other songwriters have this experience, but once I get started working on an idea it seems to take on a life of its own, and while on one hand you could argue that I’ve made all the decisions from rhythm to melody to lyrics, in another way the song kind of writes itself, like a child growing all on its own once conception has taken hold.

This song started with an accident, so I suppose you could call it an unplanned pregnancy of sorts…

I was about to play a completely different tune but – not looking at what I was doing – misplaced my fingers one fret too high, and when I corrected the interval between the two chords was deliciously creepy and tense.  I sat there playing them back and forth and the first verse – all about frightening thoughts that come unexpectedly at odd moments – came to my head without me even thinking about it.

These two little chords are the strange, and strangely compelling (at least to me) DNA of this odd little song-child.

I wrote a second verse, much more deliberately (most of which I later scrapped – all about digestive processes) before life called and I had to go off to do other things.  It’s nice to imagine being the kind of artist who can just sit around and hammer at these kinds of things all day; but the truth is that even if I were financially independent – which I’m SO not – I think that kind of vision is a bit of a lie.

Even great and famous artists have a shit ton of things to do that have nothing to do with making art.   That’s life; whether you’re nine-to-five-ing it or “living the dream” there are bills and taxes to be paid, emails or fanmail to be answered, pets and children and friends and family to be taken care of, groceries to buy, and commitments to be kept.

All the while it’s somewhere in the back of my head – its rhythm like a tiny heartbeat, concepts and ideas starting to form – making a skeleton of sorts, snippets of lyrics fleshing out those ideas, and some sense that it needs to go somewhere.

Go somewhere.  That’s a terrible description and I wish I had better words.  I used to have a fairly long-standing debate with someone I worked with about how to decide what a song should be – what chords go where, if there should be a change in key, how the melody should feel in relation to the lyrics – and honestly I’ve never been able to adequately answer that question.

This is the bulk of what I mean when I say that the song writes itself.  Not that it all comes in some brilliant flash (some of it does, but most of it doesn’t) but that it needs what it needs. A song has a soul all its own.

Looking back now I can tell you that the sudden change in the chorus to something bright and major and “normal” sounding is because if I just played the same creepy chords over and over you’d get so tense you’d turn it off.  It’s nice to get the tension, but only in the context of having it release.  A lot like sex, really.  My baby-making analogy just seems to expand as this goes on, all pun intended.

But I wasn’t thinking about that at the time, I was doing things like cooking and cleaning and taking classes and all the normal stuff of life.

It took a couple of days before I could get back to this and give it some serious time, which I knew it would need.  To keep the analogy going a bit further; there comes a point in every song where the birthing gets difficult, and amusingly enough it always comes right near the end.

Knowing that a song needs something and knowing what that something is are very different things, and I’m a relatively new musician, so my bag of ready-to-hand tricks is limited.  I’m forced to bash away at something until it sounds right.

How do I know what’s “right”?  I don’t know.  It just feels like where it’s supposed to go.  That’s why I have no idea if this song – or any other I’ve written – is any good.  I just know that they were the songs that needed to be written at that time.

Ending this song was HARD.  It definitely couldn’t end in the same creepy two chords as it started with, and it couldn’t end with a double chorus like most songs on the radio do, because that wouldn’t feel right either.

I don’t know if it sounds right.  But I know that it felt right to write it that way.  It may change, most of my songs do over time.  Like children, they don’t stop growing just because the birthing’s over.  They grow.

Or, at least, the good ones do.

I guess that’s how – in the end – if a song is any good.  If I love to play it, over and over, it’s good.  To me, at least.   So I’ll have to wait and see what I think.

In the meantime, let me know what you think in the comments, and give me your title suggestions.

And if there’s an idea that you have that needs to be birthed into the world, don’t worry too much about whether or not its any good, just get it out there.

So here it is:

Photo by JasmineNightshade – DeviantArt

A Death – Of Sorts

Featured

I watched The Fault In Our Stars for the first time recently.

Watching love-stories has been hard for me since my breakup, so even though I’d seen the trailer, I’d been avoiding this.  But John Green wrote the novel it’s based on, and I’m on a huge Green Brothers’ kick these days; so I figured I’d watch the movie first so I could enjoy it without comparing it to the book (which is almost always better than a film adaptation.)

Oh. My. Freakin’. Gawd.  It’s not just a love-story.  It’s a life-story.  And a death-story.  A friend-story and a family-story and a really, really, REALLY good story.

I cried.  A LOT.  I cry at a lot of movies and other things, so that wasn’t surprising, but I also laughed and got angry, and happy, and completely in love with all the super-nerdy references like entanglement theory and the relative sizes of different infinities.

did think about my last relationship.  For a long time it was my whole understanding of romantic love, and that’s a hard thing to put aside.  It’s a sort of death, of the people that we were when we were together, that comes with it’s own grief and pain –  and pain demands to be felt.

But I also thought a lot about my other relationships; my friends and family – some of whom I’ve obviously known my whole life, but others are recent (and beloved) additions, and it’s nice to feel connected – at least a little – to the world around me.

Most of all I thought about the relationship that I have with myself.

Realizing how much of my life was a lie was hard for me.  I hadn’t seen all the ways in which I was constantly “performing” – to get love, approval … a sense of belonging and connection.  I certainly didn’t see that what I was doing was exactly the opposite of what I wanted.  These are hard lessons.  Looking at parts of yourself that aren’t pretty is painful.

And that’s a death of sorts too; letting go of the person I was imagining myself to be.

You can’t watch a movie that has a bunch of cancer patients in it without thinking about death, I suppose.

Which just gets me thinking about life and how short it is, and how much I want to do with it before my brief time here is over.  Because I, like Augustus, have always wanted to live an extra-ordinary life.   An enviable life.  A life to be remembered.

One of the recurring themes in the movie was oblivion. Not only will we all die, unlikely to be remembered by anyone who didn’t know us personally; eventually the sun will swallow our planet and no one will be around to remember anybody.  The universe will continue unwriting and rewriting itself, without us.

But we all make an impact.

Our loves, our fears, hopes, hurts, and dreams all make a difference.  At least in the little infininities of the people we care about and that care about us.  And that’s a pretty big thing.

I can’t wait to read the book. 😀

You … And me.

Featured

What a weekend!

I haven’t done a lot of solo-shows, so I was pretty nervous going into Friday evening, but I needn’t have been because it was a great night.

The Cork & Bean is a warm and welcoming two-level coffeehouse with that’s beautifully custom-designed in metal and wood, decorated with works from local artists; and features an amazing menu of hot and cold drinks, espresso bar, pastries, soups, salads, sandwiches, charcuterie & cheese boards, more than 80 craft beers, and a phenomenal wine list.

Owners Diana & Lorne are some of the nicest people, really funny and genuine, and it was great to get to talk to them about their travels and some of the inspiration that went into the place they’ve created.  They’re also  hugely supportive of local community activities, and even though they’ve only been open for about 4 months, they’ve already hosted a pile of paint nights, live musicians, spoken word events, art openings, beer and wine tastings, and I’m sure a whole lot more as time goes by.  Basically I’m big fans of them both and what they’re doing, and wish them every success ❤

And here’s where I get all sappy; cuz I was surrounded by really great people all night.

Pam, Bee, Diana, Jessye, Tamara, Kevin, Aric, Greg, Adam, Carol, Michelle, Keight, Henryk, Tara, and a couple others that I’m missing – SO SORRY!! – were all out to support me, singing along to covers and christmas songs and even to my originals, which was pretty freakin’ awesome.

I’m super-fortunate to have these people in my life; smart, strong, funny, creative and complex individuals with big, beautiful brains and hearts.  Tenacious adventurers that inspire and encourage me both directly with words and actions, and indirectly by the example they set.

I often feel like I’m too busy and distracted to show the people I care about how much they mean to me.  I can get caught up in the nonsense inside my own head a lot, and forget that friendships are like gardens and need tending; so I’m especially grateful to the people that have supported me through this past year when I’ve been so lost in the weeds.  Thank you.

My mum came – I normally play later in the evening so this is one of the few events it was easy for her to attend – which was a really big deal for me.  Always is.  My mum and I have a hard-won kind of love, we had to work past a lot of stuff from both our pasts to get to where we are; and the fact that she is such a huge supporter of me in everything I do is something I’m incredibly grateful for.

So it was a really great night, and then I spent all Saturday playing Christmas music for kidlets on the Santa Train; part of the York-Durham Heritage Railway that features locomotive cars from the 1950’s and has magicians, live music, and of course a visit from Santa to each of the kids.  Playing music in a moving train is an interesting feat; but playing for a bunch of super-excited kids is pretty awesome, so even though I’m still feeling like I haven’t got my land-legs back yet; I had an amazing time.

So amazing, and amazingly busy, that I haven’t got around to doing any blogging, or thanking, or even checking my email till now.

Which brings me to the next thing: I’ve decided not to try to get a blog out EVERY SINGLE DAY.  The weekends are usually super-full, and while I could stress myself trying to get up earlier or try to schedule posts the night before, it just seems like a smart decision to cut it back a bit.

So from here on out I’ll be blogging every WEEKDAY for sure, but weekend posts will just come sporadically if I happen to have a few moments and something I want to talk about. 😀

Again, thank you to all of you who support me; by coming out to shows, or listening to my music, or reading my blog.  You really do make a huge difference to me, and I just hope I can keep doing my best to use all that love and support to put out really great stuff, and maybe make at least a little bit of a difference in the big world around me.

Power and Leverage – Part 2

Featured

This is part two of yesterday’s post, going into what is power and where it comes from, and may go on into a part 3  – leveraging different kinds of power – once I’ve had time to do some research and thought.  So if you didn’t read yesterday’s post you can catch up here, and if you haven’t seen the THANK YOU post I made earlier (I set out to write this post a few hours ago now, but it turned into a long “thank you” to YOU, dear reader) you can find that here;  and I’ll be here when you get back.

So, what IS power?

The definition(s) of this are way too numerous for me to copy and paste, since power is both a noun and a verb, and can also be used in adjective and adverb forms, but if you’re feeling nerdy and want to look it up you can find it here;

Most of these can be boiled down to basic concepts relating to strength, ability, force, energy, authority, and influence; but two of the definitions caught my interest; the concept of power as it relates to magnification – the focusing ability of a lens; and multiplication – the product obtained when a number is multiplied by itself a certain number of times.

Because I think that understanding where power comes from is intrinsic to understanding what power really is.

You see, we give things power.  You and me.  Everyday in a thousand tiny ways; through our thoughts and beliefs, in our conversations and interactions; by the things that do, and the things we refrain from doing.  We give things power by agreeing that they are valuable.

Money has value because we say it does.  A particular political or social construct is important because we say it is.  A product isn’t desireable because it is valuable; it is valuable because it is desired. And as soon as we decide we don’t want it; it’s value plummets like a stone.  

 We think of power as something that comes from outside of ourselves; the authority of institutions, the influence of the wealthy; the control of one group over another; but look at any true dictatorship and you quickly realize that trying to exert authority without the consent of those to be governed leads quickly to angry protests and – eventually – revolution.

We agree to follow the laws of our country not just because of the threat of imprisonment; but because we agree that having a safe country with good laws is a useful thing; and if everyone went around breaking laws everywhere we wouldn’t have a very safe or happy society.

Power is a collective thing.  We all hold it.

So if I have power at all; it is the power to connect with the people around me.  The power to focus my thoughts by listening to the perspectives of others, the power to express my ideas multiply their effectiveness by enlisting other people who think they’re valuable and want to put their energy towards a common goal we share.  The power to listen to the ideas of others, and to encourage and support them with my time and talents.  The power to try to understand the perspectives of people who have different values than I do.

Which is, I suppose, why I like the maths-based definitions best, because they seem better at encapsulating what I mean when I think of power; the ability of shared values to magnify and multiply the effectiveness of any one person’s efforts.

 

This was supposed to be a blog post. Oops

Featured

*Before I get into today’s post, I’d like to take a moment to thank you.

When I started this – partially because my website had gone down and partially because a few of my friends had prodded me to start a blog –  all I was really looking to do was to commit myself to a daily routine of finding motivational content and writing some thoughts about it.

And since the internet is a REALLY big place with lots of big, loud voices in it, I figured the only people who’d be reading my ramblings would be those few lovely, prodding friends.  So I’m a bit stunned – and incredibly grateful – that you’re here.

I keep a pretty close eye on my analytics, so I get to see whenever one of you likes or comments on one of my posts; and since there aren’t a huge number of you yet, I can remember all your names.

Some of you are just popping by and some of you having been reading every day;  which is amazing and definitely helps to keep me committed to daily posts.  Some  I know personally, but some of you I don’t – which is both surprising and awesome, and is kind of a testament to the power of the internet to connect people; and a testament to the power of people to find new ways to connect with one another.

All of your comments, whether on Facebook, Twitter, or the WordPress blogosphere, have been honest, respectful, and thoughtfully considered, and I appreciate each and every one.  I am both deeply humbled by, and insanely proud of, the steadily growing little community of people I see working to support and motivate themselves and one another.

So, thank you.  Truly.  THANK YOU.

This was supposed to be a quick thank you but has turned into a sprawlingly long post all on it’s own, so I’m thinking maybe publishing this separately?  …. *ponders*

Okay ya.  Publishing this now, grabbing some breakfast, and I should have the actual #morningmotivation post – Power & Leverage Part 2 –  up in a couple of hours.

THANK YOU!  YOU ALL FREAKING RAWK!  – And in the words of John & Hank Green; don’t forget to be awesome.

Power and Leverage

Featured

I was eavesdropping last night.

On a side-note; whenever I hear this word I immediately think of the scene in LOTR where Gandalf returns to talk to Frodo about the One Ring and finds Samwise listening in outside the window; “Bit late for trimming the verge, isn’t it?”

I even looked up it’s definition and found a surprisingly small number of synonyms and antonyms, and no etymology listed.  I say surprisingly because I’m fairly certain that eavesdropping, whether it’s just unintentional overhearing or purposeful listening-in, is a pretty common trait, and you’d think we’d have piles of ways to talk about it but I’ve already run out of different ways to put it into words.

Seems odd to me that we have such a dearth of words to describe something that we’ve probably been doing since we first started talking to one another.  Perhaps it’s shame – we don’t need words to describe something we don’t want to talk about?

But I digress.

It started unintentionally at dinner. I’m normally pretty talkative, so I don’t usually even notice the conversations of other diners, and honestly didn’t see the three ladies seated in the corner until something that one of them said pricked my ears.

I was so struck by it that I spent the next 5-10 minutes actively listening to every word.  I even had the most bizarre urge to approach them and ask the woman to expound on what she’d been talking about.  To the point where I actually wrote my name and email on a slip of paper and waited for an appropriate moment to approach their table without seeming like a weirdo.

In retrospect I wish I had, because I’m certain I’m not going to relate her ideas nearly as well as she did, and because without her permission I’m going to have to do some fancy dancing to convey what she said without giving away any details about her possible identity.  I’ve already gaffed by using the feminine pronoun, so ya – gonna have to tread lightly here.

She – I think it’s not giving too much away to say that she works in the public health sector  –  was talking about the power of labour unions and striking, in historical and modern contexts, and one of the ideas that she raised was that – since the power of the strike is to literally shut down the working capacity of the employer – striking in a public health care context has dire consequences not only for patients; but also for strikers.  She argued that, since public opinion is on the side of the employers, striking workers have scant leverage in negotiation.

She said, “Labour unions need to learn new ways to leverage their power.”

That’s when I started writing my contact info down.  This idea – learning new ways to leverage your power – felt like a revelation to me; it literally gives me an adrenaline rush just to think about it, even now.

Their conversation turned to more personal things; the moment had passed, but the thought has stuck with me.

New Ways To Leverage Your Power.

I’m not even sure what this concept means to me just yet – for all my verbosity I have no words – but I can feel it there in the back of my mind; silently shifting lenses and adjusting little cogs and gears.

It makes me ask myself; what is my power?  How have I been using it – both consciously and subsconsciously?  Does this help me to become the kind of person I want to be?

Pain Is A Great Motivator

Featured

I woke up to pain this morning. Hot, sharp, angry little teeth gnawing at my muscles and joints; forcing me to get out of bed. I’m writing this while I wait for the pain meds to kick in.

Pain can be a great motivator. – This thought reminds me of one Thanksgiving in my 20’s after I’d had my wisdom teeth out, when the pain in my jaw was so bad that I actually ended up digging around in my own face with a knife and tweezers, removing a fragment of what I thought was tooth. The pain was so intense that I couldn’t NOT dig at it (sorry for the double negative there, ugh), and as soon as the holidays were over I brought the fragment to my dentist. I later found out it was actually a bone fragment because the infection had spread into my jaw.

I wouldn’t have known about it if my body hadn’t warned me with pain.

But I’m also mindful of other kinds of pain; emotional scarring that doesn’t seem to serve any purpose. The kind of pain that doesn’t warn you of illness or injury; it just seems to hold you back from being able to fully enjoy the good times, long after the injury has passed.

I don’t know what to do with this kind of pain.

There is no Life-brand Robax designed to make it easier to deal with anxiety, shame, grief, or loss. No drug; over or under the counter will take away that pain for more than a few brief moments; and at the end of the high all the problems are still there – usually along with a pile of others.

Confronting emotional pain isn’t a single moment in time. It’s not like if I sit down and let myself be sad for a day, I’ll experience some magical catharsis that takes the pain away. It’s a slow process.

And as I write this I realize I’ve been somehow IDENTIFYING myself by this pain; making myself into the victim by holding onto a vision of myself as the wronged woman; and using that victim-image to get sympathy and caring from others. Because that’s the only love that I’ve ever really known; the pity one has for someone that’s had terrible things happen to them. It’s what I grew up watching as my parents split up and my mother became the wronged woman – a role she played for the next 30 years – and just like a lot of other lessons; I learned it without even realizing what I was doing.

Breaking the habit of being the victim is a hard one, especially without having some way of feeling loved to replace it. I can’t get away from the feeling that love needs to be earned; and that I have no idea how to be the kind of person that deserves it …

All the hard questions, and no easy answers. *sigh*

Not sure how motivational today’s post is, but it’s what I’m thinking about this morning … If you’ve got thoughts on this, leave ’em in the comments ❤

Meditation ~ An AHA! Moment

Featured

“The harsh truth is that it doesn’t matter how righteous and justifiable your emotions may be.  It is irrelevant, because you will be judged based on your reactions and not your reasons.”

Whoa.  This simple statement was a brick to the face for me, because anyone who knows me knows that I can go off like a fireworks display whenever I’m emotional, but what they don’t understand is how much I’ve always thought of this kind of outburst as a sort of S.O.S.; a cry for help; a way to communicate my distress when I’m beyond words and need help so badly that I can’t see the damage I’m doing.

How much I’ve felt like my emotions do justify my reactions.

*sigh*  To those of you who are reading this because you know me, I’ve probably done this to you at some point – gone off on you like an explosive – and without trying to justify my actions again; I really didn’t understand what I was doing and the effect it was having, and I regret it.

I can’t promise I won’t do it again cuz it’s a shitty habit that’ll probably take me a while to break; but I can say that I want to do things differently in the future.

Moving on …

This whole video hit me like a gauntlet in a velvet glove; because I’ve had a terrible sense that I’m somehow “doing meditation wrong”.  Everyone has told me that as long as I keep doing it, success will come with practice.  So I’ve kept doggedly at it, waiting for some shining moment of catharsis in which the proverbial thorn is pulled from the wound – or is that a sword from a stone?  Some sense of peace to descend upon me like a sunbeam breaking through a cloudy sky, changing me into the more positive person that I’d like to be.

Which, of course, is the whole problem.

You can’t really “do meditation wrong” – there isn’t a right or wrong outfit to wear, mantra to say, way to sit or breathe – and yet I am getting it wrong because I’m going into it with the wrong expectations.  Of course I’m frustrated as hell; all this time I’ve been expecting meditation to change the way I feel, and that’s not what mindfulness is about.

Bad things will happen, and I’m going to feel badly about it.  Mindfulness isn’t going to make it so that bad things stop happening; it’s not going to take away the pain of loss; the anger or frustration, or any of the bad feelings in life.

It’s about changing the way I react to my emotions; and that’s something I’d dearly like to do.

Because fireworks are great to watch – from a distance – but I’d really like to be a better person to know close-up.

Hitting The Wall

Featured

I slept in till 11am today.  I was up at 5:30, but instead of starting on coffee and going for a walk I deliberately unset my alarms and went back to bed.

I’m not sick.  I’m not depressed.  In fact, I’m quite proud of myself.

I had a good weekend; I’m nearly finished the in-class portion of my driver’s ed and I’ve even decided to go to some extra classes over the holidays and take the hard written test.  Been getting lots of in-car practice so I’m looking forward to the in-car lessons to catch all the bad habits I’ve learned in the last 8 months, and I’m hopeful that I’ll do well on the road test.

Musically, I have my solo show at the Cork & Bean coming up (Oshawa at King & Simcoe if you’re in the area), so I’ve been getting a pile of swag together and working on a setlist.  I’m doing the Santa Train in Uxbridge/Stoufville this year, which is basically all Christmas tunes, so in the past two weeks I’ve added 15 new songs to my holiday set, and have been learning a pile of new music for another “new thing”  that I’ve been working on over the weekends.  (*Much like the release of My Shitty Little Heart, I’m not going to say too much about this until it’s a real Thing, but as the details become more solid, I hope to get to share this all with you.*)

And of course getting ready for Christmas; working on some homemade gifts, getting the place all festive, inviting the fam for dinner, etc.

Tons to be excited about, and all that excitement – though awesome – eats up space in my head.  Keeps the mind racing; always on the next thing; eating up dopamine like it’s candy.  And if I’m not careful, I can get wildly overloaded and end up hitting the wall.

By the time I got in yesterday I felt like I’d walked face-first into a moving train.  I fell onto the couch into a nap that lasted 3 hours, and even when I woke up I didn’t have the energy for anything beyond some food, Crash Course Astronomy videos, and more sleep.

So when my bladder forced me out of bed at 5:30 this morning, I didn’t go check my phone or Facebook; I didn’t get on my running shoes and go for a walk.  I didn’t even write today’s motivational blog.  (Obviously.)  I went back to bed.

Since I woke up I’ve kept my mind on simple things; getting up, having a shower, some yoga and a walk, breakfast and brushing my teeth, dishes and tidying up; sitting down and writing today’s blog.

Learning how to balance my time and headspace isn’t always easy and I don’t always know what’s laziness and what’s important self-care.  I don’t always do it very well, and some days I end up over-excusing myself and feeling like a slug, and other days I over-extend myself until I crash.

But I’m working on it.

Truth vs Harmony

Featured

This podcast had me from beginning to end; but one of the topics that it brought up that really hit me was the concept of loving truth over harmony.

Because I definitely do that.  In fact, when it came up, I remember thinking “Of course.”

And I had this really good justification for that position; because isn’t truth the basis of harmony?  How can we possibly act in co-operation with one another if we disagree on basic facts?  Isn’t that exactly what causes all the tension between a lot of different groups?  Creationists and Evolutionists, Capitolists and Socialists, …. pretty much everybody?

And that’s when it really started to sink in that a lot of the things that think of as facts that are really just my opinion.  An opinion held so strongly that it becomes a fact for me, erasing any room for anyone else’s perspective; because I can’t see how anyone could possibly disagree with me.

Thinking that aloud in my head made me cringe at myself.

This is normally where I would shift from thinking I’m hot shit and everyone should agree with me into a nose-dive of self-loathing and recrimination, but I’ve begun to recognize what a cop-out that is for me.   “Poor me” is just me giving me an excuse not to even try.  And I’m not going to anchor there.

So my takeaway is learning how to separate actual facts like “I need oxygen to live” from the things that I believe so strongly that they feel like facts, and learning to leave room for others’ ideas.

Because when I hold my opinions that tightly; it turns my hands into fists.

Who wants to come for a walk?

Featured

I was up before dawn, and even though I was stiff and sore from accidentally passing out on the couch; I actually felt pretty good.  I even decided that I’d follow up yesterday’s good habit start by going for a walk again this morning as soon as the sun was up; and in the meantime I had some coffee, relaxed, watched some YouTube & played Farmville.

And now the sun is up.  Has been for about 25 minutes, but here I sit on the couch.  Still.

I have a marvelous excuse in “having” to write this morning’s blog.  And it’s not just an excuse, right?  I mean, this is a good thing … that I’d committed to doing … it’s productive, right?

Yes, it is, and it’s great that I’m doing it.  It would’ve been even better if that’s what I’d done to start the day instead of all that loafing about.

It’s not that video games are bad, or that I’m not allowed to relax and have some mindless fun, but  it’s something I do more often than not.  I even usually schedule my mornings so that I can have some “me time”.  And if I’m really honest with myself; starting the day out that way just makes me tired and lethargic, and it becomes an uphill battle from there out to get myself pumped up again.  And I know this.  *sigh*

So even though my get-up-and-go has already got up and went without me; I’m gonna get bundled up and go for a walk, and look for those smiles, and see if I can’t get me into a better space.

And I think maybe adjusting my ideas about what “me time” looks like is in order; cuz I like the me that I am after a walk a lot more than I like me after sitting on the couch for 2 hours.

Featured

I went for a walk this morning.

My phone made me do it – being out of minutes again, (I’m terrible at remembering when I bought the last card so I never know when it’s about to go kaput on me), so I bundled up and went out to the store down the street.  They didn’t have them.

My 2 minute walk turned into 10, and then 15, and then 20.  Chatr is NOT the most popular brand, apparently.

It’s a nice day outside –  not overly cold, not overly windy; a crisp fall day with just a hint of the winter to come.  People in the downtown core going about their lives in a very ordinary sort of way, it’s normalcy and predictability reassuring in some vague way, even the sleeping-bag-enveloped form of someone who’d clearly spent the night on the street.  I gave what change I had, wishing it had been more, and he smiled.

I didn’t notice I was smiling too until I noticed people smiling back at me.

Moods can be infectious like that.  Humans are empathetic creatures; a hundred thousand years of our ancestors learned how to get along with one another by trying to see and understand how each other was feeling, and by mirroring the emotions we see in others.  It’s not something we do consciously, but it’s something that most of us do all the time.

It got me thinking about how I feel in general, and the impact that has on the people around me; and truth be told I can really be a Negative Nancy.  I want to have a good “emotional footprint”, but I don’t want to “put on a happy face” just to please others, and in reality no matter how good the act is; people will always feel that it’s fake.  I know this.  I’ve tried.  A LOT.

So what’s the trick?  I don’t know.  I don’t have all the answers and I’m not going to try to pretend that I do.

But I’m going to try more morning walks.

#motivationalmorning

Image : Crisp Autumn Day Canvas Print #BPR241} by Bella Pilar Canvas Art

Doin’ It Anyway

Featured

Today I feel like I want to be motivated more than having any real sense of excitment about the day. I look out the window and even the sun doesn’t feel like going out.

It’d be a lovely day to stay in bed, half-sleeping the day away. This is what my mind tells me as I lay in bed thinking of the pile of things to be accomplished; that the world will not stop just because I do. And of course it’s true.

But mine will.

I know all too well how excusing myself for one day leads to a week of excuses and next thing I know I’m staring at another month on the calendar and wondering where all the time went. I used to think it was just a function of getting older; but it’s more a function of settling into a pattern. And the pattern I’ve settled into in the past has been great for keeping me exactly where I am.

So I’m not motivated, but I’m getting up. It’s a grey day, but I’m hitting it anyway. Some days are like that.

Even though its the last thing I want to right now, I know that in a little while the energy that comes from getting immersed in something will fill me up and motivate me to do a little bit more, and next thing you know I’ll be feeling okay, even if it is a blustery, grey day. Or at least that’s what I tell myself 😛

Featured

I watched a lot of Star Trek TNG when I was a kid.  It was one of the few shows that were a staple in our house and I have strong memories of being stretched out on our “oriental-gold” (green) shag carpet, half falling asleep to Picard and Riker and all my favourite characters.

I loved Gainan best.  She always seemed so wise; a being so ancient it’s never really understood how old she is; a grandmotherly type that could counsel as well as Diana Troy and knew how to draw you out even if you didn’t feel like talking.  Quick enough to out-shoot Worf in holodeck training practice; powerful enough to make even Q pause.

The child in me still loves these stories.

I love them now more than ever perhaps, because when I was a kid I was soaking up all those morality tales without realizing what I was being taught, but now I get to go back and see them with my adult perspective.

Then they were my heroes.  Always doing the right thing; working together – even with people that they were brought up to consider enemies.  I tried so hard to emulate them; and felt so terrible when I (inevitably) fell short.  Now I see how flawed they all were; how many times they didn’t know the right thing to do; how often they made mistakes.  That even heroes aren’t heroes all the time.

Every one of the characters on that ship were confronted with the difficult parts of themselves; even my beloved Gainan who had to confront her prejudice and anger towards the Borg in this scene:

and then this one

But they didn’t do it alone – by trusting in, encouraging, and relying on each other to hold them to a standard they all shared; they were made better.

That’s a difficult lesson for me, because I find it hard to trust. Even in school I hated working in groups and would do the work for everyone rather than get a lower grade than I thought I could get on my own. I grew up on the success stories of individuals whose uncompromising vision and drive for perfection brought them fame, fortune, recognition; success.

The idea of giving up control and letting someone else help is literally physically painful, even though I logically know that I can’t do everything myself, and I’m reminded of all the times that my mother was so busy trying to make everything perfect that she made it perfectly awful to be around.

She’s not like that anymore, in fact she’s one of my very best friends, which is something I wouldn’t have said even a few years ago.  She’s come a long way.

And so have I, even if I have a long way yet to go.

On some level I know that perfection is unattainable; and that the more I try to focus on it; the less I actually accomplish.  And now that I’m older; I know how many of those one-man success stories are actually the stories of tens or even hundreds of people who worked hard together to achieve something that none of them could have done alone.

I think I’m getting better at surrounding myself with things and people that I can rely on to hold me to my values; to encourage and support me; and I hope to be a better example of those values so I can help to encourage and support the people around me more.

I don’t know how I never saw it before: A community isn’t a chain – only as strong as it’s weakest link, but a rope where all the cords woven together are stronger than individual.

Featured

I was with a group of friends on my way to something; a show? A meeting?  I don’t know – but I was tired.  So tired I could barely keep my head up. I remember telling someone that I needed a few minutes rest, and hearing some vague response about having a few hours before anything important, so I went ahead and found a small area with bench seating to tuck myself into for a nap.

Is it weird to go to sleep in your dreams?  I don’t know; maybe it’s actually quite common.

In my dream-within-a-dream I was rocking in a hammock in the sunshine, until a bump startled me and I … half-woke? Dream-woke?  Wow, woke is an odd word when you start repeating it like that.  Woke – yoke – yolk … But I digress.

I suppose I might’ve already been half awake in reality; because I somehow knew that I was dreaming.

In the dream I was fully awake and realized that I must’ve been in a train station, awaiting a connection to somewhere; but all of that was quite irrelevant now, since I was currently in a tiny little compartment car, hurtling at what seemed like an impossible speed for some unknown period of time; towards god-knows-where.

My friends didn’t even know I was missing, and I didn’t have my phone.

I don’t know how I knew any of that; I certainly didn’t look for it; but in the sudden-knowing-way of dreams; I knew that no one was looking for me, and I couldn’t call anyone cuz I’d left all my devices at home.

In my dream I began to scream and beat on the locked doors of the compartment; certain – in the way of dreams – that no one could hear me.

And then there were people; a large Asian family that couldn’t really understand me but cooed soothing words at me and fed me soup and stayed with me until one of their children had found the conductor and  next thing I knew – in the way of dreams, jump-cut-style – I’m back at the station and everything’s okay.

I awoke in my bed moments later, tears on my cheeks.

There’s a lot in that dream that I can only partially unravel.  Travel as a symbol of change perhaps? Falling asleep and getting carried away could be a symbol of the fear I have of relapsing into bad habits, or maybe it represents the feeling of not being in control?  Both?

The Asian family seems to be about trust; and the fact that they are strangers says a lot.  The fact that the “friends” I set out with don’t notice my disappearance only now seems odd to me; and the fact that there is no one in particular in that group, just a faceless mob, seems to tie into the whole trust-is-easier-with-strangers thing that the Asian family brings up.

The language barrier is another puzzle; why would I imagine someone to come and help me and make it so difficult to communicate? Does it symbolize my feeling that I don’t express myself very well? Am I afraid that something I might say would turn them against me?

All things I’ll probably journal out over the next while …

To be honest, I’m not sure how to wrap this up into an easily-digestible motivational quote, but it feels motivational to me, and maybe sometimes finding motivation isn’t just about pump-you-up catch-phrases and inspirational posters.

Featured

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about my habit of going from project to project with little time in between to pause and reflect, worried that I’m not very good at recognizing and celebrating my progress

but …

What does “celebrating your victories” look like?

In my mind there is some movie-clip image of clinking glasses, high-fives and slaps on the back; but it all seems oddly fake, or hollow, or somehow two-dimensional, and while recognition from others is nice it’s not what I want to look for as a driving force.

This morning I stumbled across a blog entitled “How To Assess The Quality Of Your Life” – by “Dr. Perry”, which starts off by saying “Don’t rush to set another future goal that will only reward you with future happiness”, and I found myself feeling oddly defensive, which is a big red flag for me these days; so I thought I’d try to work out why reading that bothered me so much.

My first thought is that I definitely feel most fulfilled when I’m in the middle of a project.  I like the sense of excitement and purpose that comes from feeling like I’m working at something that’s important to me.

But I do have to admit to myself that even though having a goal to strive for can be motivating and keep me fired up; all that excitement can get pretty exhausting.  I have to ask myself; are my benchmarks for fulfillment where I really want them to be?

As the blog title suggests, Perry goes on to list some of the ways in which he assesses the quality of his life; and as I read them I found myself thinking “Hey, wait a sec, I actually live a pretty freakin’ good life here! – Weird!  I never noticed!”

Which I guess is the whole point to the “pause and reflect” thing.

And so, with perfect timing ….

I’ve been fighting it off for a while, but here it is; I’m sick.  Skipped the head-cold to get donkey-kicked with it right in the chest.  My ribs feel like bands of fire wrapped around my lungs.  *sigh*

H-bombing it with vitamins, lotsa liquids, inhalers and a freezer-full of chicken stock; and in the meantime I actually have a couple of days coming up where I don’t have to do much, and apparently a bunch of reflecting to do on what an incredibly awesome life I lead.

Thanks body 🙂

Doing Things Is Hard (But Worth It)

Featured

I’m writing this in the evening and scheduling it to post in the morning so I don’t miss tomorrow, and I’m feeling pretty proud of myself for it.

Making commitments and living up to them is a skill I’m still developing, and I tend to be pretty harsh on myself when I miss the mark (which is something I’m working on too); so I’m hoping that this will help me to stay on track even when life gets busy and it gets harder to find time in the morning to sit down and blog.  This should also have the happy side-effect of helping me with my goal of posting these morning motivations at a more regular time each day

I tend to have a bit of a love/hate relationship with technology at the best of times; so just figuring out the platform has had a pretty steep learning curve.  Figuring out how to stick new posts to my front page, how to connect my blog to my social media, how tagging works, learning to add images and video, finding out what the hell a slug is and why it matters, and now using the scheduler are all dull logistics tasks that haven’t been easy to learn but will hopefully help me in the long run.  And learning that I can use these things to benefit me might even help me with some of my techno-fear 😀

But I think the thing I’m most proud of is the writing.  Not because it’s great writing; but because it’s daily writing.  It forces me to put myself into a positive, motivated state EVERY DAY.  It asks me to ask myself, “What are you excited about?” And to find an answer to that question each day.

It isn’t always easy; and sometimes I fall back into old patterns, but hopefully as long as I keep trying, all this will get easier.

So, what are YOU excited about?

The Fire Within

Featured

I feel like I’ve been terribly unproductive for the last week or so.

Maybe it’s coming down from all the flurry of activity surrounding the release of my new single, “My Shitty Little Heart“, but it’s been awfully easy to tell myself that all the days of sleeping in and lazing in pajamas are a well-deserved break, and not what they really are; a bit of post-mania depression that comes from not having a project to fill me with excitement about what the day has in store.

I even half-convinced myself that I was coming down with something, which was an even better reason to laze about, putting off people and responsibilities and to re-watch movies and tvshows from my youth.

I think that’s when I realized what I was doing; regressing into a familiar and safe time when life seemed to have stability and meaning; a time when the responsibilities and purpose of my life seemed to come from outside me; and all I had to do was live up to them.

Part of growing up has been realizing that meaning in life doesn’t come from the outside; that neither riches, nor career, nor love, nor fame can bring meaning to life unless I  decide that there is meaning in it.  That what I value, and how well I live up to those values, are the source of a sense of purpose, and that it’s up to me to create that sense of purpose for myself.

It’s not going to come down from the outside in a flash of light and understanding that fills me with an ever-lasting fire.  It comes from within.

It’s a fire that I have to make myself out of whatever fuel I can find; and keep it burning myself however I can. And sometimes it will go out and I’ll be cold and in the dark.  I will have to make new fires. Again, and again, and again.

Passive Activism?

Featured

I’ve started watching YouTube ads.

Well … they’re muted, and I’m usually doing something else during them, which doesn’t count as “watching” to me (and hopefully to my subconscious mind – I don’t want the Google Home Mini, an SUV or a better cleanser) but it DOES count to advertisers.

One of the best things about YouTube is the HUGE amount of FREE content, accessible anytime, and the only reason that content exists is because there are people out there who are literally making their living by creating new and interesting things for me to watch.

Some creators have Patreon accounts or other platforms so that subscribers can donate to their channel, but the large majority of users aren’t patrons, and for creators to rely on patron dollars would mean a lot of creators who simply can’t afford to continue making quality videos.

Which is where the ads come in.  Creators get paid by advertisers in a complicated way, but basically it works out to a fraction of a cent per view.  This sounds like next to nothing, but overtime it can really add up; and a video that has a million views has probably made it’s creator somewhere around $1400US.

As long as all the viewers didn’t skip the ad as soon as the little button appeared, in which case both YouTube and the creator make nothing.

It makes total sense, of course. Who’d want to pay for an ad that nobody watched?

And since I usually just let a play-list go in the background while I do other things; as long as the ad doesn’t annoy the life out of me; I don’t mind.  What’s a few seconds out of my life to support the creators I love?

Featured

Had some wifi issues while trying to post yesterday; but everything seems to be back up and running so here we go!

I’ve actually been feeling a bit rough for the past few days; but I refuse to use the “s” word.  In my head repeats the mantra; “I am a BASTION of health.  I give illness no room inside my body.” But the past couple of days have been less productive than I would’ve liked, and every time I push myself to accomplish a little more; I exhaust what little reserves I have and end up on the couch again… *sigh*

It’s easy to feel like as much as I try, I’m not really doing anything with my life.  Easy to look out on all the other people seemingly doing so much with what they’ve been given and think “I’m sitting here with all my advantages; watching videos on the internet.”

And then I stumble across this video by Hank Green in the Vlogbrothers series:

“I Don’t Understand My Life”

I’ll wait while you go watch it.  No, really.  It’s only 4 minutes long …

So there I was, feeling like crap every time I got up to do anything, then sitting back down and feeling like crap for not doing anything at all, and he starts talking about Olympic athletes and super-active nerdfighters and some girl dying of cancer who’s only wish is for people to celebrate more the love between friends and family, and I feel like a slug of a human being.

And then he says; “The value you bring to the world largely comes with what you love and who loves you.”

And suddenly I’m feeling a little bit better.  Not every day has to be a super-hero day; because the days where I sit and enjoy the things I love with the people I love are GOOD DAYS, ones to be enjoyed and cherished and remembered.

So thanks body; for giving me these few days of relaxation; and giving me good people to spend them with.  Hopefully none of them get ill; but if they do I hope they get lots of good loving care and can enjoy a couple of days of sitting in front of the internet.

And if you’re sick and stuck on the couch; I highly recommend the Crash Course videos for bingewatching.  Hours and days of infotainment enjoyment 😀

Featured

Yesterday was a lazy day.  I was busy getting to an early morning class and totally forgot to make my #morningmotivation post, and though did go to class and do a couple of errands; it feels like I didn’t accomplish much.  I’m kinda kicking myself now …

And it makes me wonder; where exactly is the balance point between living a life fulfilled by work and growth and having healthy leisure time?

My work schedule being as unstructured as it is, the concepts of “weekdays” and “weekends” don’t really apply; so it’s up to me to apply some kind of structure in order to keep myself focused and committed.

So my question to myself is; how do I feel about how I spent my lazy day?

I talked with people I haven’t spoken to in a while, learned 8 new songs for a new group that I’ll be jamming with for the first time today, bingewatched a bit of Brainscoop on YouTube, cleaned up my house a bit, had a lovely nap, and of course Driver’s Ed and errand running.

Yes, I could have accomplished more, there were things I’d had in mind that I didn’t get to; but all in all I’m pretty good with my “lazy day” and realize it wasn’t that lazy after all. Not everyday needs to be a marathon; hell-bent on squeezing every drop of productivity from my time.

I suppose the only thing that’s really bothering me is dropping the ball on my commitment to post every day.  It’s so easy for me to excuse myself for this or that reason until I find all I’m doing is making excuses for staying in the same place, and that’s not what I want for me. So back to daily posting.

These past few weeks have been ones of HUGE changes.  Changes that I like, even though they’ve been scary and tough.

One day dropping the ball won’t make the world fall; but it does make me stop and think of maybe adding a bit of structure to my life so that work and play have their specific places and I don’t have to feel so driven to stay on track that I don’t make time to enjoy the now, and so that when it is playtime; I can immerse myself in it fully without worrying that I’m not spending my time productively. 

I saw myself last night  

Featured

I was auditing an acting class in Toronto, having taken my first train ride in I-don’t-know-how-long.  I rarely do things like this because I get wildly anxious taking any kind of public transit, so I was feeling a bit guarded by the time we sat down in the little studio room, half an hour before the class started, but also super-proud of myself for actually going through with this little adventure.

She came in about 10 minutes before the class was scheduled to start.  Pretty face obscured by a little too much makeup, slender legs bitten into by the creases of too-tight jeans; she was my very self – 20 years ago.  I didn’t see that at first, though. I was too busy being critical.

Her voice a little too loud; she was wary but trying not to show it.  Her smile a little too wide and a little too easy; she was unsure, but unwilling to admit it.  Terrified of not being good enough; her outwardly superior demeanor hid a vast internal world of insecurities. As the night wore on you could sense how her attitude made the other people in the room move away from her.

I felt so bad for her. I wanted to go up to her and tell her that she was great, she was fine; beautiful and lovely and worthy; but not the hot-shit that she’s trying to project, and that she didn’t NEED to be.

Which, of course, would be a terrible thing to do, and she’d probably think “Who the f*ck are you to tell me who I am?” – and rightly so.

And then, like a window that polarized suddenly into a mirrored surface; I suddenly realized it was me I was seeing.  Me I was talking to; saying that I was worthy and fine, and lovely; telling ME to drop the I’m-so-awesome-look-at-me act cuz it isn’t fooling anyone, least of all me.

And in that moment I also saw a different me; A me that is new and still fragile and emerging; but gets better and stronger by the day.  Me that can see the worst parts of myself in another and be compassionate for both of us.

A me that has finally realized that it’s not my job to go and tell this poor girl what I see in her and where it’s going to lead her if she keeps it up, like some crazy prophetess foreshadowing her doom.  My job is to take what I’ve seen and use it to make me the best version of me that I can be; and my takeaway here is that I might not be as good as I’m trying to pretend I am; but I’m WAY better than I fear.

But I’m really glad she was there.  Thank you, whomever you were.

And thank me, that little, fragile, new and growing me that keeps stumbling towards better things.

And thank you, dear reader, for sharing this journey with me.

**I’ve committed myself to doing these motivational posts once a day EVERY DAY – mostly to keep myself focused – but hopefully also to create a community of encouragement; where sharing our progress can be done honestly and safely.  I’m not totally sure what this looks like yet, but it’s something that’s bubbling in the back of my head.  In the meantime, if you have a topic you’d like me to cover; or stuff of  your own that you’d like to share; tell me in the comments or send me a msg on Facebook @ukegirl_oshawa***

#motivationalmorning

Beating Pessimism By Watching YouTube?

Featured

Yesterday was weird.  I was oddly numb, when I’d expected to be flying high after releasing my new single, and I wondered why I was already thinking about the next project instead of taking the time to enjoy what I’ve accomplished.

I’ve been told a negative person. A pessimist;  who sees the glass half-empty; a watch-dog for worries; letting potential problems make a fun-house image of the world for me that can’t see the good.  And I’ve learned to believe it.

But what can I do about it? I can watch inspiration videos until my eyes bleed and repeat loving statements to myself in the mirror all day, but it doesn’t seem to help much.

The one thing I’m doing that’s helping me in EVERY AREA of my life (especially in my emotional, internal world) is to consider things more complexly.

The world is not divided into halves; Them/Us, Science/Art, Progressive/Concervative.

Those are just the convenient labels we put on things to make concepts small enough to fit into our heads without disturbing all the ideas we already have in there.  But the whole idea of considering things complexly is TO make sure to disturb our preconceptions; to allow new information to influence our way of thinking and seeing the world.

I don’t know how I got to be this age without coming across this concept before, and I got it by watching vlogbrothers videos, of all things. Which, in case you haven’t seen any, are 4-minute videos by brothers John & Hank Green; about a huge range of subjects; often educational, always entertaining; and always signing-off with DFTBA – Don’t Forget To Be Awesome.

I’ve linked one that I was watching this morning which talks about why it’s actually pretty normal to see the world somewhat pessimistically.

While watching it I was struck with a sense of what I can only describe as “absolution”.  It was like a great, soft voice had said to me “You’re not broken.  This is all really quite normal.  You’re going to be okay.

It also talks about all the ways in which the world is actually objectively getting better, and why that’s not always easy to see.

By understanding why I think the way that I do, I get better at challenging myself to see other perspectives, and I like the person that’s emerging from all that consideration.

Me 4.0

And if you like that video; go watch, subscribe, etc for more vlogbrothers

https://www.youtube.com/user/vlogbrothers/videos

Taking a moment …

Featured

I honestly don’t know how to feel today.  Releasing MSLH has been a huge, long project, the last leg of which was probably the longest and hardest of them all; and I guess perhaps I was expecting to feel a big sense of “Look At That! You DID it!” … but what I really feel is something more akin to … “So.  What’s next?”

And I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m super stoked about releasing this, and incredibly proud of myself for seeing it all the way through.

But already the next “thing” is beginning to take shape in my mind.

I must remember to stop and enjoy this moment though.  It’s really quite precious.

IT’S FINALLY HERE!

Featured

THIS IS THE THING!!!

The thing I have literally cried, sweat, worked, worried, and slaved over.

And now it’s yours if you want it.  ❤

My Shitty Little Heart – the downloadable single.

Thank you so much to everyone who was a part of the creation of this thing.  It has been a labour of love for me, and I hope for you too.

Self-realization? What’s that?

Featured

What’s this? What’s this?

I feel a bit like Jack today … only it’s not snowflakes falling from the sky; it’s self-realizations and revelations coming from within … And it’s not a gentle, fleecy flurry either. More like an Indiana-Jones-and-the-Temple-of-Doom-style snowball.

I spent pretty much all day yesterday journalling, and sending some (probably long-overdue) amends, and the process really helped me to figure out why I do some of the things that I do; and what I want to be doing instead. It’s oddly tiring to do nothing but think all day (well, not NOTHING; I tend to go into a crazy cleaning-blitz when I’ve got things on my mind) and I slept better than I have in a WHILE.

But each relevalation brings more; and it all balls together and creates even more, and so what happens to me at the end of it all? Will I be one of the weird bubble people that sound so syrupy-sweet and fake to me now? Will I be something different? Will I even recognize myself? Will that matter to me anymore?

Part of me fears the avalanche. Part of me welcomes it. Perhaps a nice, snowy blanket of self-understanding and self-forgiveness is just what the past needs to make it’s edges seem a little less sharp.

I’m not sure where I’m at, but I feel (for the first time in a LONG time) that I MIGHT be on the right road.

Funny that.

#motivationalmorning

***OH!  Side note: the new thing (MSLH) really IS coming, and I can’t WAIT to get it out there for everybody. ***

Procrastination? I’ll do that tomorrow :P

Featured

Doing new things is hard for me.  The safety and comfort of the familiar are such tempting, beckoning things; and there always seem like a million perfectly valid reasons to continue making excuses not to change.

It’s taken me over a year to get ready to release “the new thing” and I still find myself stalling; letting little obstacles and setbacks be the reason to procrastinate on the finishing touches.  Letting big fears keep me from tackling those final few tasks that will make the thing a reality.

Even writing this – I tell myself I’m being so productive; creating new content and maintaining a regular release schedule – is a lovely distraction from the work I’d promised myself I’d accomplish today.

In my defense – or is that my defensiveness? – the work I’d planned on accomplishing is waiting on communication with another person and I can’t control that; but I’m well aware that there are lots of other things on the “get the new thing out” list that I could be accomplishing.

So why am I putting it off?  Is it that I’m afraid no one will like it? That no one will even notice its existence?  Yes, I fear that.  But I’m also fiercely proud of this tune and will be fiercely proud of myself for actually doing the work and getting this out there.

Am I afraid of the boring, dull trudge of the work? Oh yah, but that’s certainly not the whole of it.

Am I afraid it will do well?

Is there a secret part of me that is so used to things being the way they are that the idea of having any kind of real success – and the changes it would bring – paralyzes me?

Maybe.

But I’m not going to let that stop me.

I’m gonna release this thing even if it freakin’ kills me.

Unhappy Anniversaries

Today is a hard day.

Post-christmas is always a bit of a let-down, just because everything’s been so hyped and hectic beforehand, but this is a particularly hard day for me, because the today marks both the starting and ending anniversary of my last long-term relationship; one that I’m still very much grieving a year later.

I shouldn’t be.  Not just because it’s been a year, but also because it was never as good as my retrospective mind has made it out to be.  Or as bad.  Few things are.

Perspective changes with time, and I’m trying very hard to make new memories.  Crowd out my old ideas of what today (and certain other painful days) mean to me.  Add a bit of protein onto that memory chain so that hopefully when I wake up and think “oh, today’s New Years”, it has at least a little bit of good feeling in there.