This year has been a time of a lot of change and growth for me. I want to thank all my family and friends who have supported through it. I’m thankful to be living in a city with such a strong music community. I’m thankful for all the folks who’ve booked me or given me gigs. I’m thankful that people still play my music and read my blog. I’m thankful that I fell in love this summer. I’m thankful that my mom isn’t depressed any more. I’m thankful that I have a place to sleep, food to eat, and clothes to wear. I’m thankful to be alive, breathing, and healthy. And most importantly, I’m thankful to be traveling on this rock with all of you guys. We’re all so blessed. <3
Every year on September 11th, I use my Facebook status or a blog post space to recount the horrors of being in NYC during that terrible time. This year was different. I was firmly grounded in the present. I didn’t have anxiety. I didn’t try to replay the day. And I didn’t let the pictures pull me back into tragedy. That’s not to say that it wasn’t a horrible event that deserves memorializing–but conflict usually exists because we continue to cling to the narrative of the past. When we can let go of those stories, we live in the now, and can look at the world with clear eyes and clear hearts.
Life is a precious thing. I don’t believe that even maniacal terrorists kill without some thought. On September 11th, 2001, a group of people felt so strongly about something that they used a large-scale attack to take not only their own lives but the lives of others. I will never be able to understand why–but I wonder what actions did the US do to sow the seeds of hate and violence in the hearts of these men. How have the seeds of fear and anger these men planted on US soil on 9/11 grown into weeds that obstruct the light of peace that shines within all of us? What am I doing today to plant and water the seeds of love so that future generations don’t have to endure the horrors of terror–not just in America, but around the world?
I had a chat with a friend yesterday about the persistence of war. Will war always exist? Can we eradicate war through fighting? I don’t know. All I know is that in every moment we have a choice: We can either let the story of the past cloud our judgement or we can live in the now and walk in peace.
Peace isn’t a pipe dream. If we worked on it as much as we work out our bodies, we’d get there pretty quickly. It’s actually real simple:
- Love the people around you like it’s the last time you’ll see them.
- Speak to them like they never caused you pain.
- Listen to them with all your heart, and like the earth, absorb whatever they spill on you.
- Be quick to apologize. Be quick to forgive.
- Know when to let go.
- Most importantly, be peaceful to yourself.
When we have peace in our hearts, it spreads like fire to those around us, and we elevate the peace in our community. This filters up to our leaders. And if we teach our children, we continue sowing the seeds for future generations to blossom peace.
I love all of you. I’m so thankful we can share this rock and this journey together.
Had an ecstatic moment on my ride on the trails this morning. Zooming around the lake, it hit me: The whole universe is conspiring to bring us joy. You may feel like your life or things aren’t going in the direction you want, but trust me, it will change.
So many times in our lives, we feel like we’re stuck. We think that nothing will change, and we feel like the rest of our life will be dull and gray. But that’s not true. You have to know that the clouds will pass, and that when they do, the sun will shine.
No matter where you are now in your life, that is where you’re supposed to be in that moment. Everything in your past was supposed to happen–the good and the bad. Every person, every experience, every encounter is supposed to be there. Instead of fighting all of that and wishing we could live elsewhere or have had a different childhood, we have to acknowledge the current state of our life, and then resolve that it’ll change.
That’s the first step: Resolve to make a change. Every moment is a chance for a new start. You have to decide what you want to do with your life.
Sometimes we want to do something so drastic or so different that we get scared that we’ll be doing it alone or that we aren’t strong enough. It feels like we’re jumping into a deep dark void without a parachute–and that fear can paralyze us. But we aren’t alone.
In every moment, the universe (or God) and all of our ancestors are present with us. And it may be hard at times to feel it, but when we are present with ourselves in the moment, we can feel their love. So take a deep breath. Feel the air coming in and going out. Take note of all the colors and objects and sounds and sensations around you. Become aware of the feelings within you. Don’t get too attached to anything, just return to the present moment. Allow yourself to stop all thinking and let go of all fear and anxiety you have in that moment.
Now remember that you are the physical manifestation of a lot of energy. You are a child of God. You are a manifestation of the joy and greatness of the universe. You are the result of all the hard work that your ancestors put in to surviving on this rock. ALL OF THAT POWER IS INSIDE OF YOU! Have faith that that power will give you the strength that you need. That power will wrap you up in a warm security blanket and then take you by the hand and guide you down the path to your destiny.
Believing that everything will turn out ok is not enough. Without action, there is no result. You have to actively move towards your goal in whatever capacity you can. You have to take the time and make what you want to do into a habit. That means block out time each day to focus on nothing but that thing you want to do.
For example, if you want to be a writer, spend 15 minutes a day writing. Want to lose weight? Do something active for 15 minutes or 5 minutes every day, rain or shine. Want to become a more peaceful person? Calm your mind and meditate for 5 minutes or 10 minutes. This can be for anything you want to do, you just have to move it from the realm of fantasy, make the commitment, and then DO IT.
Change takes times. And each step will move you forward. Even if they are teeny tiny steps, one day you’ll look back and see how far you’ve come, and that will propel you even further–but it all starts with that first step.
Once you’ve started developing new habits, your view of the world will slowly start to change–and one day you’ll look around you and realize that the entire universe is conspiring to bring you joy.
It’s been two and a half years since my grandmother passed away. We used to call each other almost every day–even when I was in Germany. Her voice is one of the things I miss the most.
Today I’m writing the story of when I found out she had lung cancer. To help get the dates right, I decided to do a quick search of my call logs. What I found was the audio equivalent of finding a dusty box full of forgotten photos: 52 voicemails that I didn’t realize had been saved.
At first, I hesitated to listen to them. I keep forgetting that she’s isn’t alive. And while looking at photos do spark sadness and memories, they’re still frozen in time. An audio recording, on the other hand, has a timeless feel. We can easily forget that the person isn’t speaking directly to us.
The first recording I listened to was the last one she left. It was from October 31st, 2010, about 6 weeks before her passing. [To put it in context, I wrote this post a week later.] It’s before the pain got so intense that she had to take medication. She still sounds upbeat, and as always, wants to hear stories of my day.
Take a listen:
The other message I listened to was from my birthday in 2009. In it, both she and my grandfather are singing to me.
This message is the one that made me cry. She passed away a few days before my birthday. When I got down there, she had had everything prepared for a party–and all her friends said it was all she could talk about.
The feeling I had listening to this was as chilling as when I received a signed birthday card from her after she had passed. It’s as beautiful as it is haunting.
Have a listen:
I’m thankful for this chance to hear her voice again. It was a huge surprise that came at the right time. I feel her presence with me every day, and as I get closer to realizing the path I want to take, I can feel her smiling with me. When she asks, “What’s new?”, my answer is: “A lot.”
Working on a story about my grandmother teaching me to swim. She was in her 60s then. When she told me how she used to be on swim team as a girl, I remember laughing and telling her, “Granny, that’s silly. You were never a girl!”
When we are young we think we’ll never age. And a lot of adults forget that they were once young.
I challenge you to connect with your inner elder. What did he become? How did she get there?
And don’t forget to connect with your inner child. What did she want to be? What was he passionate about?
Do all of these images reflect with who you are now?
Life is but a fleeting moment
changing day by day.
When this mortal coil comes unplugged,
the screen flickers,
and the dream slowly fades away.