A Spoonful of Choices

29 Sep

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood

And sorry I could not travel both

And be the one traveler, long I stood…”

~~Robert Frost

I love this poem. Most of us know this poem and if you don’t you need to hop onto google and read it immediately. But this is what decision making processes are like. We stand in a forest (literally or figuratively) trying to decide which path to go down. Like Frost says in the poem, as you grow older (“I shall be telling this with a sigh, somewhere ages and ages hence…”) you look back on your life and notice the decisions that changed everything. You can clearly see the fork in the road. You can relive the uncertainty and the decision making process of which road to take. You can visibly see the pros and cons lists. And you can hear your sigh of relief as you put one step in front of the other and chose a path that determined the rest of your life. Maybe it was the well paved road, or maybe it was the less traveled one, but either way, hopefully it has made all the difference.

 

 

“Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

Two roads diverged in a wood and I 

I took the one less traveled by

And that has made all the difference”

Deciding to move to Ireland to further my education was one such decision. It was definitely the less traveled road and it HAS made all the difference. I will never again be the woman I’d have been if I had stayed in Minnesota. I won’t live in the same house, love the same people, sing the same music, drive the same car or even eat the same foods.

Movies are particularly good for this. In an hour and a half, you can look at someone’s entire life and see the decisions they made that ultimately drove the movie. A woman chose one man over another. A family got in an argument and he drove out in the snow storm which resulted in the car accident. Or a man let one woman go and regretted it years later.

 

Life is made up of choices. Big ones such as those made in movies, but also little ones… what to have for dinner and who to have dinner with… what time you want to go to sleep, who you want lying beside you when you wake up, and whether or not to press snooze when the sun comes up. The words you speak, your reactions to moments and to feelings, who you let into your life and who you let go. What we consume on a daily basis, how you move your body, what we purchase or how much we choose to save. They even say that love is a choice. How you view others – is a choice. How you treat others – is a choice.

Its the fact that these choices hold so much weight, that I’ve always been a terrible decision maker. They hold weight for who you are and how you want to live your life but they indirectly affect others as well. People often get frustrated with me because it takes me a few moments to make a choice or to emotionally react to a situation. But I’ve been at the brunt of too many emotional outbursts or decisions gone terribly wrong so I’ve learned to take my time. I’m learning to find my own voice and trust my own voice.

 

 

Who we are is made up of stories. Stories composed by us and our decisions, but also by others narratives of us. Others’ expectations.. points of views.. judgements.. praises. They could be family, friends, enemies, teachers, strangers, even society. Over your life time, your identity becomes a culmination of these stories. It’s not a bad thing – we’re human and we yearn for connections, thus we take on parts of people we care about. But we also take on the burdens of something that’s hurt us. So I think it’s imperative to be alone and learn to hear the different voices. Once you can identify the different people who built up your identity, you can begin to uncover what your own soul sound like.

Stand on a yoga mat and meditate. Sit around a bonfire and feel the warmth on your skin. Climb a mountain and feel the wind in your hair or stick your feet in a river so cold your feet go numb. Take time alone so you can hear your thoughts. Check in with yourself regularly and challenge your mind. And most importantly, don’t believe every thought that runs through your head. When you react to something, who’s reacting? When you make a decision, whose voice is actually making that choice?

This is important as you grow older and form the life you want to live. Form the human that you want to be. Try not to make decisions, whether big or small, based on other peoples voices. Don’t make decisions based on who we’re supposed to be – whoever defined that for you. Don’t even necessarily make decisions based on who you are – others may have defined that as well. Make decisions based on who you want to be. You are ultimately in control of your life and you can form your existence to be anything you want it to be.

 

 

Maybe as you’re reading this, you’re looking back on a decision you made with regret, learning from that moment. Or you’re looking back on a decision with fondness, grateful you made the right choice. Or maybe you’re standing at a fork in the road between what is safe and comfortable and what will lead you to who you’re meant to be. But make the decision based on you, not your stories. Not on others voices. We can’t see our choices play out on a screen in an hour and a half, but you can take control and write your own screenplay.

 

 

In movies you have the leading lady, and the best friend – I give you permission to be the leading lady

I give you permission to be alone

I give you permission to take your time

I give you permission to challenge your thoughts. Sit with them awhile, invite them for tea. Get to know them

I give you permission to change

I give you permission to make your own choices

I give you permission to take the road less traveled by

 

I give you permission to be whoever you want to be

 

A Spoonful of Connections

23 Jan

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I’ve had two incredible music experiences in the last year. I got my masters in Irish Traditional Music Performance from Ireland, and in December I embarked on a new journey for me, and it was the most incredible life experience. I was the singer for Tomaseen Foley’s A Celtic Christmas. I’ve been studying music for years and I’ve been surrounded by musicians since I could phonate, but nothing prepared me for the connections I made through my program and through the tour.

Music, in its nature, is emotive. Music of any kind is a process of sharing a piece of ourselves with others. It has power. It can heal. Connect. It is one of the things I have learned to love and need from music. The connection. The connection with the notes, the words, with the history and the composer, the audience, with the people next to me. There is something inside all of us that feels music. Its innate. Everyone listens to music. On their way to work, while theyre cooking dinner, while theyre dancing or while theyre falling asleep. I truly believe that everyone has music inside them. Untapped emotion. A musicians job is to uncover it, introduce it, allow people to find it and to feel it.
All of this is leading to the discussion of connections. On my 3 week tour with these beautiful people in December, I discovered a kind of magic. We were connected. I fell in love with each and every human being I performed with, because we understood each other. We got up on stage every day and shared a part of ourselves through storytelling, music, dance and song. Our energy had to reach all the way to the back of the auditorium and in doing so, reached out and touched everyone sitting on that stage, only inches from each other. We played music and danced with such innate joy, and sang songs and told stories with a haunting sadness… we couldn’t get through the performances without the support of each other. I felt their hearts through their music, and I responded in kind. It was almost a surreal, out of this world experience.

My parents came halfway through. I had only been with this crew a week, but the connection was so deep I had forgotten how to be ‘normal.’ I sat across from my parents at dinner and had no idea what to talk to them about. I knew they would understand but I didn’t even know where to start explaining. I had never experienced anything like this and while being moved by it, I was also humbled by it. I developed a deep respect for each of these musicians and their craft, while also developing a deep respect for music itself.

Of course my Masters program had to come to an end, and the tour had to come to an end, and we all had to part ways, but you can’t unmeet someone and you can’t unfeel something. I felt enriched by my time with them, while I also felt a loss when they left. When I hadn’t seen them for two days I ached for their presence. However they are all in my heart and no matter where life takes us, they will always be there. Our connection will get stronger with time. I was the new one on tour, and I was a newbie to Irish music. They all welcomed me into their world, their music and their hearts. I will forever be grateful for the time, love and music we shared. I will forever continue to look for this connection and not settle for less.

 

 
Why live life on the surface when you can fall in love with people on a deeper level. Why force yourself to feel less when there are people out there who encourage you and want you to feel more. Why surround yourself with people who only accept or understand parts of you. Why be with people who can only see your world in certain colors. Emotions are colorful. Music is colorful. Nature is colorful. The world is a beautiful and magical place. Open your eyes to the rainbow and don’t settle for less.
For those of you who don’t believe that music is innate, that music can heal and make a difference, please watch this video. It brought me to tears and solidified the importance of music in this world.

For those of you who do believe that music is innate, that music can heal and has power, please also watch this video. May it touch you and give you courage to continue changing lives, one song at a time.

http://www.today.com/video/opera-singer-joyce-didonato-inspires-sing-sing-prison-inmates-through-song-845836355901

A Year of Bonfires

31 Dec

It’s the beginning of a new year! I usually don’t make resolutions because I want to constantly be growing, but the past couple years I have definitely started the new year like a horse starting a race: bursting through the doors with anticipation, courage and joy. I am beginning this new year with another plane ticket. There’s a quote that says to live your life by a compass, not a clock. I have no idea what day it is and I stopped wearing a watch, but I always know what plane I’m on next and where that plane will be taking me. I am bursting into 2017 with a plane ticket back to the emerald isle. The isle where I left so much of my heart when I left in October. As I pack my suitcase and find myself excited for the adventures yet to come, I look back on my life the past year and am grateful for the lessons I learned.

This past year has been one of the most memorable and one of the most rewarding. Ive had near death experiences, and enlightening experiences. I have worried to the point of crippling anxiety over the smallest of things. I have traveled to other countries and stumbled over language barriers, was humbled by another’s way of life, and marveled over ghosts that have walked in places before me. I have felt pain and loss. I have cried tears for loved ones and moments that used to be. Ive ached as I watched people from all walks of life struggle and hurt. I learned that time is relative and time is important. I learned that emotions and music exist in colors and what a beautiful blessing it is to be able to see the full rainbow. I began surrounding myself with people who could see it too. I learned that a smile goes a long way, and a hug can change someone’s day. I learned that music has power. I learned the concept of lingering. Of living in the moment. Every moment we are breathing is a gift, and whatever you choose to do with those moments is up to you, but every one of them should be cherished. Shared. I learned most importantly that the people in my life, the few people I hold close in my heart, are the most important. I can be broke, homeless and lost, but if I am walking the street with a friend or loved one who fills my heart with joy and love, in the end all will be ok.

 

 

People roll their eyes at me because I enjoy disney movies and movies with happy endings. I will be the first to admit that no they are not entirely realistic, but the lessons they teach us are valuable. It’s not everyday you get locked in a castle with a beast, but it is every day that you may come across someone you shouldn’t immediately judge so harshly. Its not every day that you get to put on a beautiful dress and pretend to be a princess who dances with a prince, but it is true that at the end of the day all we want is to be loved for who we are. Cinderella came out in 2015, and it struck a deep chord with me.

Have courage, and be kind.

Not everyone may believe in glass slippers and fairy godmothers, in unicorns and rainbows, but you can’t argue with me that there’s a beauty there. During my travels, one thing I have learned and would like to pass onto you is this: in order to live ones life to the fullest, all you truly need is courage and kindness.

Courage is the bright intense red of a fire engine. It’s the sturdy red of a brick house. Courage helps you get from one day to the next. Courage is the muscle that keeps your feet moving forward. The heartbeat that makes you feel strong, capable and safe. The voice in your head that pushes you to take chances, and you will almost always be glad you took them.

Kindness is the soft yellow of a morning sunrise. Or the bright yellow of a smiling daisy. Kindness is the heartbeat behind love and joy. The laughter of Friendship. It’s a universal language. Kindness waters your heart to make it grow. Kindness helps you believe that tomorrow will be better and it gives you the hope that it will be. Kindness leads to love – in all of its forms.

Both of these colors are found in bonfires, and that’s okay! Make your 2017 a year of bonfires. A year of courageous reds and kind yellows. I hope your bonfire burns away all your pain, doubt, worry, darkness and stress and fills your life with warmth instead. Warmth of loved ones. Of new experiences. Of music. Of laughter. Light a fire inside your soul that will keep you going when the going gets tough. That will engulf you in warmth on those cold and lonely nights. That will remind you of the power you hold in yourself if you’re willing to uncover it. Light bonfires all over the world. Teach people how to light a match. If you can’t offer anyone anything else, you can at least offer them a warm fire to rest beside. And while you’re at it you may as well take a moment to make a s’more. Because obviously the best things in life are the sweetest 🙂

 

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A Spoonful of Noodles

14 May

this past week my friends and i ventured to japan! it was an adventurous experience to be sure.

my first couple hours in the country put me in my place. i was an outsider. i clearly did not belong. it required me to pay attention to my surroundings. to humble myself. ask for directions. ask for help. dig deep and find my patience. my common sense. it was an enriching vacation and one i would recommend to anyone.

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within an hour there, i had purchased the wrong train ticket even though i’d researched it for hours, got scolded by a security guard, made friends with a japanese couple, was saved by an american angel, sat in the rain for hours waiting to be found by my friend because neither of us had service or wifi, had a bird actually steal my sandwich and was asked if i was homeless. multiple times i was torn between weeping and laughing. i think too often we think we know much more than we do. we think we’re entitled to much more than we are. in that first hour in japan i realized what a little box we live in. and i don’t think we can truly grow until we step out of that box. until we see how another culture thrives. survives.

 

one of the things i loved best about japan was how traditional they were. they’ve hardly been touched by other cultures in the modern world. they’re very set in their ways. its beautiful.

finally kate and christian found me sitting stranded and soaked by the train station and we ventured to our hostel. the hostel was a traditional home; we slept on a pad on the floor. there were men rooms and womens rooms. we took off our shoes inside the door. for breakfast we had huge pieces of bread with fresh honey. everyone was kind. everyone was friendly. they kept to themselves but if you asked a question or started a conversation they were more than happy to sit and talk with you.

we spent the rest of the day getting lost. finding hidden temples down random streets, wandering into tea shops and marveling at the kimonos, and venturing down into the geisha community – hoping to spot one as she began her festivities.

that night we had probably one of the best dinners i have ever tasted. we went to a ramen restaurant. it was the most amazing bowl of noodles and spices i have ever consumed. we ordered at little kiosk computers, waited in line, and were seated in these little cubicle boxes where they’d serve you from a window. amazing

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the next day couple days were spent climbing mountains and visiting temples.

we experienced tourists climbing sacred trees.

we watched prayer ceremonies in temples and attempted to take part – although i kept forgetting a step so ultimately i probably looked lost or cursed my life and am going to hell.

we saw breathtaking views of the city.

we bowed to everyone we met

 

we happened upon graveyards and some truly beautiful watering holes.

we smelled incense and walked in on a buddhist ceremony.

we ate ice cream and countless bowls of ramen

we went to an owl forest to pet owls and had staring contests with the little ones

we wandered along the river and ventured into countless random bars that would never be found in the states including an irish pub and we made friends with everyone inside

we found the bamboo forest. a raccoon scared the life out of us and a priest randomly walked out of the trees

we took a night bus to tokyo and kate and i made friends with the bus driver who spoke no english but who thought we were hilarious

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and we slept in an airport and showered in a sink.

 

 

 

 

it was one of the best vacations of my life

 

 

 

 

i think its of vital importance to travel to the places you’ve never been. to be the minority. to be in a country where you don’t know the language. you don’t know the traditions. you don’t know the customs. it requires you to be humble and take a step back. to observe. and in observing you learn so much about another culture. about life. about tradition. and in doing so you learn so much more about your life. about yourself. it puts everything in perspective.

 

 

so i challenge you to take a step out your front door and venture somewhere new. somewhere you’ve never been

 

somewhere unfamiliar

 

 

get lost

observe

take a moment and appreciate another culture

 

 

 

your life will be better and richer because of it

i promise

Spoonful of Peace

25 Apr

kate and i visited italy and much like it was the first time i visited, it was the most magical weekend i could have imagined. there is something about italy that puts my soul at peace. whatever is worrying me no longer exists. whatever is stressing me out is forever lost in the endless amounts of wine and history my mind and body consumes. the language is a love song that my heart yearns for and responds to instantly. the old buildings and ruins are an echo in my mind of something i must have once known and am now remembering. the food is a love affair that takes hours to decadently consume. the slow and steady way of life demands my mind to relax. to experience life from all of my five senses. to appreciate the moments that so quickly pass us by.

 

 

everything about italy is home to me

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our typical day consisted of getting up earlier than is normally possible for a human being, wandering down for breakfast where we were served some of the sweetest white pineapple, had our coffee, planned our day and set out for adventure. the first day we happened upon a garden, quite literally stopped to smell the roses, made our way to the ruins behind the colosseum and onto palastine hill. we lingered over the ruined walls. marveling at what they could have possibly looked like centuries ago. imagined the people walking amongst the pillars or sitting on the steps.

 

i was mostly enthralled with the way these buildings keep on living. plants grow, vines stretch and cover, and wildflowers pop up in the most unlikely of places. birds nests are settled in little alcoves….

i stood, truly in a peaceful state, for ages… watching the birds go on with their day. memorizing the colors. feeling the wind blow my hair off my neck. feeling the sun burn my skin. it all got me thinking that nothing is ever really ruined. things evolve. humans evolve. architecture evolves. it’s a beautiful concept. the idea that something like this can actually last. and not only last, but be useful. provide life.

 

we wandered the circus strip, stopped at a wine bar and café solely because the waiter had the most beautiful blue eyes ive ever seen. we sat and marveled, drank wine and watched the sun make prism rainbows in our glasses.

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i grew up watching Audrey Hepburn movies and idolizing how she navigated her life with such grace and focused most on those she loved most. in her movie “roman holiday” she takes a tour of Rome, and they take her to all these enchanting places to make her time in Rome memorable. one of the things they see is the mouth of truth. legend has it if you told a lie with your hand in the mouth it will get bitten off. after painstakingly making laps around the neighborhood i knew it was in, we finally found the beautiful little chapel it was inside. after making friends and enemies with the guards, we got in line to stand in the place Audrey once stood.

 

after that momentous occasion, we wandered back to the colosseum, pleased the lines had gotten smaller as it was now dusk. it was eerie being inside. in a good way. in a way where if you sit long enough in the quiet, you can imagine what life was like. standing on ground where people were brutally murdered for sport. you can feel the presence of the people who lived before. you can feel the memories that were left behind. it was incredibly humbling

 

we made our way down to the trevi fountain hoping to catch a glimpse of it at night. disappointed ourselves with the closing of the spanish steps, but found a beautiful little pizzeria to have our dinner. the waiters were more than happy to talk to me in Italian and help me with my words. on our way home we stopped in a bar that was hidden behind a wall of vines but was recommended by an italian passerby. upon entering, they gave us snacks and shots of lemoncello with a “welcome to roma” toast. after a bottle of wine and many friends later, we made our way home to start the adventure again the next day.

 

 

 

the next day we visited the trevi fountain again, had gelato and lunch on the steps, made wishes, bought a painting from a beautiful man on the streets who charmingly offered us a marriage proposal with the painting, wandered to the Pantheon and eventually made our way to Saint Peters Basilica and the Vatican. the Vatican was packed and hardly enjoyable while we were being herded from room to room like cattle. but the art was just as beautiful as i remember it being the first time, and we lingered over paintings and tapestries. wandering over to the basilica, we climbed countless stairs until we got to the top. the mid point allowed us to take beautiful pictures of the church from the inside. we made it to the top, after winding up stairs that went on for miles and endured walls that were actually getting smaller. but the view was worth it.

 

we made our way back by the Pantheon and had a fabulous dinner that we lingered over for hours. thats one of the things i like best about the italians. they linger. we made friends with the waiters and they helped me again with my italian. and after awhile it started to rain. having lived in ireland, youd think wed be used to the rain by now, but this was different. i will ll sound crazy saying it was magical rain but it was a rainfall that gave me peace. i sat there under the overhead, watching the rain sparkle as it fell and caught the lights of restaurants nearby. i sat and tuned out the world as i listened to the pitter patter of rain on the cobblestones, generating reflections. i felt such clarity in who i was. in that moment i knew exactly who i was and who i wanted to be. italy always has that affect on me.

 

 

 

 

Italy is a dream that keeps recurring for the rest of your life

i read that quote somewhere and smiled because i have never known a bigger truth. italy is a place of peace. a place of passion. a place of beauty. italy is a place of love. and italy will eventually be my home.

it was such a blessing to take a few days to show my friend what my heart looks like. to sit and watch the sun cast shadows. to sit and listen to the rain create life. to allow the taste of pastas or a decadent wine to liner on my tongue.

 

Italy is a place to linger.

 

 

a place to find joy.

 

 

 

 

and a place to find peace.

 

A Spoonful of Mindfulness

9 Mar

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i recently began doing yoga on a daily basis. i do it when i wake up. before i go to sleep. not to mention the couple classes i take during the week.

it has changed my life.

not to be melodramatic, because those of you who know me well are probably rolling your eyes. but i’m not joking. i had an epiphany the other day and its taken me awhile to wrap my head around how to put it into words. there are a few parts to my story that i realized from my yoga mat but hopefully you can follow my thought process.

so much of our every day is built up of outward emotions. energy that is directed at the world around us. we are conditioned to believe that the things that exist in this world will give us what we desire. we find ourselves striving just beyond our reach. so many times you hear people say “i’ll be fully happy when…” we also live in societies where we are supposed to be constantly busy. introverts are considered strange because why would someone want to do absolutely nothing, alone, for hours at a time? this past week i got my answers to all these questions and puzzlements.

yoga is centered around mindfulness. awareness. the word “yoga” translates to “union”. keeping an individual’s body, spirit and mind in perfect equilibrium with nature and the world around it. its about quieting the mind, listening to your body, your energies, and allowing calmness and blissful happiness to enter your soul.

it took me quite a few hours on my yoga mat to find my calm. my awareness. my silence. my unity. but once i experienced it, it leaked into every little thing my life touches.

***

at the beginning of every yoga class, our instructor tells us “take your body and mind as it is today.” some days you can do the complicated poses, while other days your body says absolutely not and you just want to hang out in downward dog or the tree pose for an hour. it starts by accepting where you are. who you are. most days i am a scatterbrained, forgetful mess of a human and thoughts run through my mind like honey bees during the spring. instead of getting upset about the fact that i can’t keep my mind still, i acknowledge the thoughts and let them go. other days my mind is as quiet as a church mouse.

this has leaked into everything…

my performance. in my performing anxiety class, one thing we discussed was “accepting your instrument where it is today.” don’t force practice if it isn’t working. as a singer, i found particular comfort in this. my instrument is my body. we can only do so much. push so much. it’s finding that awareness. that mindfulness. that unity with your instrument. that balance with pushing your limits, but allowing rest. it’s a dance. a give and take. ive spent more time hearing my vocal folds over my lifetime than hearing anything or anyone else. however, i realized i haven’t actually listened to them. some days they don’t want to be used. other days they want to conquer the world. i have found, since taking the time to listen and understand them, my practice and my performance has improved drastically. i embrace my insecurities. accept what they are. what they are capable of doing. and i move ahead from there.

i’m an introvert. through and through. i knew it before, but never fully embodied it until i took myself out of my apartment, moved to another country into a house with 8 people, and took this yoga class. “accept your mind as it is today.” at the end of a long day, my mind is sometimes whispering “nope” and so many times i never paid attention. went out anyway, and couldn’t understand why i had a migraine. why i was cranky. or tired. some days my mind can’t handle other people. conversations. thinking. sometimes i need to just be. accepting this on my yoga mat this past week, not feeling guilty over it, and becoming mindful about it has left me feeling enriched. excited. whole. happy. i’m able to put so much more into my relationships when i take the time to be with myself.

my friendships. you can’t change people. seriously. why would you want to. your friends are your friends for a reason. “accept them as they are today.” we all have bad days. we all have flaws. we all anger each other. annoy. frustrate each other. thats life when you love someone. be mindful of that. aware of that. forgive them. let the annoyance float into your mind. breathe. acknowledge it. let it go. love them. and accept them as they are today.

my career. like i mentioned earlier, we all look to our outer world to fulfill our dreams. we need to be mindful of what we are actually meant to do. be honest with your soul. “accept your soul as it is today” what would feed your soul? what does your heart actually want to be doing? i found three answers to that question: singing. creating. loving. *i want to sing. i need to sing.* its an actual fire in me that is constantly burning. while living in the cities before i came here, i didn’t sing once. but the people around me can probably tell you i was constantly humming to myself. it was always there. i wasn’t mindful of it. i am now fully aware that its what my soul is made of. *creating.* i have a hunger for pretty things. i don’t really mean things you buy. but things you make. so many people comment on my random array of interests and skills. floral design. glass blowing. sewing. painting. baking. and i have a desire to learn pottery. watercolor. cake decorating. anything. i yearn to create. to get my hands into something and form it into something beautiful. i recently am aware i become restless when i haven’t made something. for example: i have saved 18 empty toilet paper rolls. my roommate thinks i’m insane. i keep telling her “no but i’m going to make something out of them.” and i will. *loving.* i need to love. i was born with a need for affection but also a terrible need to give it. i love being in a relationship. i love having a few close friends because i can remember their birthdays. i loved being a nanny these past couple years. i need to love. love myself. love the sun. love friends and family. and to build a life centered around me and the people i love.

singing songs. being a singer is, in a nutshell, being a storyteller. songs were originally written to poems. for events. people. emotions. singing is the oldest instrument and people have been doing it since the world began. and the things they sang about were real. i’m in ireland studying traditional music, so a lot of the songs i’m given, hear or learn are old. are real. are based on events and emotions of people who actually lived. my tutor has mentioned multiple times how amazingly different my singing is when i am mindful of a songs story. when i can close my eyes, envelope the emotions of the original writer, feel the wind on my cheeks or the warmth of the sun on my skin… my voice then suddenly carries a much heavier emotion then simply singing a song. thats what singers are. storytellers. i never realized the importance of my passion. and i never embodied my songs until these past few weeks. all of a sudden they become easier to sing. easier to memorize. to ornament. to enjoy. one masterclass tutor told me when he performs, he imagines the ghost of the person standing next to him. and it allows him to get in touch with them. to portray their emotions while enlightening the audience on their story. songs that you can embody become a part of you. just like as a teenager we embodied backstreet boys, or spice girls’ wannabe “friendship never ends” and to this day can still sing the words perfectly, these songs and their words, their meanings, will stay in my mind and my heart forever. as will the people these stories are about.

the weather. it rains almost every day in ireland. i am not exaggerating. not always heavy rain. sometimes a mist. or sleet. sometimes its pouring. maybe sunny and rainy at the same time. sometimes it sunny then pouring rain with dark clouds literally an hour later. i don’t know. i don’t understand. for months it was a big downer for my soul. i realized i needed the sun. but i recently realized i actually have no control over the weather. none. i can pray. but god probably laughs at the desperation in my voice. this week i learned to “accept the weather as it is today.” sunday is my day to go grocery shopping. it was fine in the morning, but of course by the time i walked out with my bags of groceries it was pouring rain. i took out a piece of chocolate, put my hood up, and started walking. i actually enjoyed it. by the time i got home i was soaked. my mascara was running down my cheeks. my glasses were so spotty i couldn’t actually see. my feet were in puddles because i had holes in my shoes. i acknowledged the realization that i prefer dry feet over wet feet. but it didn’t ruin my mood. it won’t rain forever. case in point, we had sun for a few hours today. i have learned to accept the weather. i am so madly in love with the colors of ireland but its the rain that makes it so vibrant. don’t hate the rain. love the rain. be mindful of its gifts and accept it when it comes.

my body. especially for women, we always have things we want to change about ourselves. since my yoga class, i have “accepted my body as it is today.” i feed it foods that will leave me energized. full. happy. i give it chocolate when it asks. i get up early to read a book over breakfast. i pack snacks for every two hours realizing ill become a bear without a pick me up. i get up early and workout on a regular basis. my body revels in it. i do yoga every day. my body craves it. i take baths. i walk barefoot in the grass. i walk around in yoga pants for comfort. i use my it works products to hydrate, strengthen, and cleanse everything. i am completely mindful of what my body needs, wants, looks like, and i’m learning to accept it as it is.

my relationship with god. i have ironically found a unity with him too through this yoga journey. he seems to be at the center. i just needed the mindfulness and awareness of yoga to find him there. i’m still working on praying. i’m so bad at it. i feel like sometimes he and i are playing phone tag. and i’m still working on reading the bible on a regular basis. but i know he accepts me the way i am. and he loves me just the same. and he has an outcome for my life that i can only dream about. so on anxious days. or days when i feel i’m getting nowhere.. i remember he’s there. i give it to him. i let go. i embrace my pain. my insecurities. acknowledge they’re there, then hand the mover to him. he probably chuckles at my scatterbrained thoughts. or rolls his eyes when i have once again lost my keys and mutter why god why! or hugs me on days it won’t stop raining. but regardless, i fall asleep and wake up knowing it will all actually work out.

theres so many other ways this yoga mat has changed my way of thinking. to be quiet. calm. mindful. to take part in a practice based on acceptance. while also pushing yourself to be the best you can be. i think we can only strive to be more when we truly accept where we are. to embrace our discomfort and our faults. to lean into the pain. our insecurities. to look inward and accept who you are. you will find true and everlasting happiness when you become mindful of what’s happening in you and around you. some things are in your control. others aren’t. like my honey bee thoughts, don’t be frustrated when things don’t go your way. acknowledge what’s there, then let it pass. and on days when your mind or your life is as quiet as a church mouse, be mindful of that too and find the pleasure in the silence. we can develop a presence in the way we feel and in doing so, begin to understand that we need not do anything to change it.

relax. release. breath in. breath out. lean in. and let go. 

A Spoonful of Worlds

23 Jan

“Do you really mean, sir,” said Peter, “that there could be other worlds – all over the place – just around the corner – like that?”

“Nothing more probable,” said the Professor, taking off his spectacles, and beginning to polish them while he muttered to himself, “I wonder what they do teach them at these schools.”

 

ireland is a place rooted in legend and magic. almost everywhere you look here, there is a story to tell. whether it was a real story that happened, or a story someone made up, everything has a story. and everyone believes in the magic and the power of storytelling. it’s one of the reasons i was drawn to this beautiful place to learn songs. songs have stories. i never really believed in past lives, or other worlds, but there have been moments the past few years, and especially here in Ireland, that i’ve had moments, rememberings, that have made me wonder.

 

 

this past week a few of us took a road trip to northern ireland. it’s a completely different country with different currency, different laws, everything. but an absolutely beautiful place. there was something genuine about it. one of our friends lives just outside of belfast, so we were lucky enough to be welcomed into his home with open arms. there’s almost nothing better than irish hospitality, good conversation with heartfelt laughs, and a warm beef stew.

our first full day there, we traveled to the Giants Causeway. for those of you who have no idea what this is, it’s a bunch of molten rock that formed to look like steps leading out into the ocean. it’s actually quite incredible. legend has it that a giant built a bridge going over to scotland to fight the other giant that lived on that side. after seeing the giant, he ran back over to ireland where he dressed up as a baby. the scotland giant came across to ireland and upon seeing this massive  baby, decided that if this massive baby is the baby of the giant, then the giant must be huge! so after a few tests put together by the wife of the baby giant, the scottish giant decided NOPE and ran across the bridge, to have it destroyed, so the irish giant could never come across again. fascinating actually if you think about it. and who’s to say it’s not true 🙂

 

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to the side of these rock formations, is of course, a cliff. so obviously, we climbed the cliff. luckily it wasn’t so taxing that we passed out, so after making it to the top we took a few moments to sit down and marvel at the sunshine. once again my gut stirred with the desire to be able to paint. the way the sun shone off the grass so green it looked like fabric. the light that sparkled against the water and the blue that connected the sky with the sea. ireland has brought a whole new meaning to breathtaking. i have been left breathless more times here than i can count. i feel like i have missed out on so much. it’s wonders like this that we should be experiencing every day. maybe we do, we just do not take the time to notice them…

 

 

some of us went wandering in the mud. i decided to sit back and contemplate life. 

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some of you may ask what i was thinking about? i was honestly trying not to cry. i have yet to figure out what part of me gets so emotional in moments like this… maybe the artist? the empath? the romantic? the believer? maybe it’s all of them at the same time which is what brings on such strong emotions. in moments like this, my problems seem so small. my life seems so small. its an emotional experience standing on top of a place so full of light. so full of life. knowing so much has come before you and will come after you. wind that whispers secrets to you… almost from another time and seems to push you in a different direction. sounds that make you realize why music was invented in the first place and helps you realize where it came from. its no mystery to me why so many believers and dreamers are born here. live here. come back here. it’s places like this that inspired art in the first place. inspired love. i feel like it’s a birthplace of these things and it puts my life into perspective.

there are some things, people, and places you just know. feel familiar about. this cliff side was one of them. italy was one of them. singing is one of them. things that when you take the moment to appreciate them, actually give you a sense of knowing. it’s strange and i cant explain it, but i know i haven’t wandered into any wardrobes in my lifetime. however, maybe ive traveled these places in my dreams. it’s a comforting thing finding something that your soul seems to recognize. a sense of knowing you’re where you’re supposed to be. i find it rarely, but when i do, it makes me want to cry.

that’s what i was thinking about.

 

 

 

 

after that adventure we went on a whiskey tour – which was incredible!

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and finished the evening performing live music in a pub session in town. it’s moments like these that i’m grateful for as well. moments where music is actually so simple and played just for enjoyment. more of life should be that way.

 

 

 

the next day we visited Queens University, the C.S. Lewis room where we actually had to walk through the wardrobe, the titanic museum, Belfast castle, and finished the evening playing card games while we went on a pub crawl. each pub was different and had different beautiful things to offer! it was so much fun laughing and being competitive while taking in the sights and sounds of belfast at night. this is what friendship is for 🙂

 

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