How Taylor Swift has helped me through life for nearly a decade

A note about me: I was born loving music and lyrics. In 4th grade I sang, “Take a bow” by Madonna to my then beau to show him how his on again off again “love” was making me feel. Lyrics and music have and always will be important to me.  Taylor put it best..

“People haven’t always been there for me but music always has.” – Taylor Swift

My life story runs parallel with a living, breathing soundtrack. I could tell you my story better in songs then I could plain words. But I’m going to try and do it with both. This is the story of us, Taylor and I.

“Love Story”
I didn’t have my license yet because I was afraid to drive. I’d love to tell you I was a teenager, but I wasn’t. I was in my mid-20’s still terrified. I’d started my first full time job, which was night shift (12am – 8:30am). My father used to have to drive me to work and pick me up. He would listen to KIIS FM as he drove me. Whenever “Love Story” came on he would put it louder. Honestly, I didn’t pay attention the first few times. I was deep into Dilla and hip hop and this country sounding song was NOT in my wheelhouse.

But one night, I listened, I actually listened to words and I totally fell in love with it. The way Taylor wrapped you into that story..I could feel it. I was born and raised on Disney Princesses and fairy tales and this song just GOT ME.

“You belong with me”

I didn’t know who Taylor was before Love Story and I wasn’t quite hooked yet. I went on YouTube and watched the video for, “Love Story”. I was a cute and sweet, everything you’d expect. But then I clicked on the video for, “You belong with me”… I was never the same again.

In that 3 minutes and 49 seconds a swiftie was born. The shy dorky girl being ignored for the gorgeous one, wanting the guy you like to know you’re alive, being looked at as the friend BUT in the end, the dork won. He wanted her…he wanted her!! I literally watched it OVER AND OVER. This Taylor girl..she got me, she REALLY GOT ME.

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“Fearless”
I could literally almost tell you exactly what day I first saw, “You belong with me”. It was April 22nd 2010. Do you know WHY I know this fact? Because I said, “I have to see her live!” And I looked at Ticketmaster and I had JUST missed the Fearless tour at Staples Center by a week! I was crushed, heck, I’m still crushed about that. I missed her by a freakin’ week, are you kidding me?!

“Tim McGraw”
This was before streaming services, I went and bought the deluxe edition of, “Taylor Swift” and “Fearless” on iTunes. And let me tell you, Mrs. “I’m not a fan of country” knew (and still knows) every word. I also bought any song she made outside of her albums like, “Crazier” from the Hanna Montana Soundtrack. I couldn’t get enough of the emotion, the lyrics, oh the lyrics!! Country or not I didn’t care, she told stories that felt like MY stories. She got me and that’s not often a feeling I have.

I also watched every single video she had made, over and over again. “Picture to Burn”, “Change”, “Tear drops on my guitar”. And I had to learn everything about her, how she came up, her story. I could do a doctoral study on the history of Taylor Swift from memory. “Did you know she was one of the youngest song writers ever.” “Do you know she had a development deal with a major label and they didn’t want her to sing her own songs so she turned it down?” “Did you know Big Machine didn’t even really exist when she agreed to be signed to them?” Anyone who has ever dared to come at me with, “Taylor Swift has no talent” has been taken to SCHOOL. Miss me with that nonsense.

“Run”
The only George Strait song I know by heart is, “Run”. And that’s because Taylor covered it at a George Strait tribute and did a phenomenal job. I still get verclempse when I think about how she asked him for advice about performing in a stadium and he told her, “Just do it for about 25 years and it’ll feel real natural.” Oh how far my girl has come.

So anyway, back to “Run”. I went into a long distance relationship with someone that lived across the country. This song was the theme of that relationship, because in that moment all I wanted to do was run to him. I listened to “Run” literally over and over again just dreaming about going to him.

“Mine”
Later on in 2010 I did the impossible, I got my drivers license. I cannot express how scared I was (and still sometimes am..) to drive.  I did it because I couldn’t keep making my dad taxi me to  and from work, the guilt became worse then the fear. The ONLY thing I did love about driving at first was blasting my Taylor Swift music and singing at the top of my lungs driving to work at 4am. (I was on “day shift” at that point.)  That was in early September of 2010. At this very moment Taylor occupies 4/6 CD slots in my car.

“Mine” came out shortly after I got my car. I had missed the beginning of the other eras but for Speak Now I was ALL IN. I even remember, “Mine” leaked the day it was supposed to come out and I refused to listen to it until it was officially out. That video…I still love that video. *Puts hand in the shape of a heart* The bridge of that song, I want to cry just thinking about it! Even though the lyrics were based on an idealized relationship vs a real one, I don’t care! “Cause I remember how it felt sitting by the water / And everytime I look at you it’s like the first time”

The first time I ever drove on the highway alone I had, “Change” playing. Because conquering driving was a major wall that fell down for me. Yes there were times in my life I purposely made Taylor the soundtrack to certain moments.

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“Speak Now”
First came, “Mine” then the announcement of the “Speak now” album. I preordered it from Target, I was ready! Right before it came out another crazy thing happened. I went to Louisiana and finally met my boyfriend at the time. I remember on the plane listening to Taylor the entire way, particularly, “Love Story”. When I got off the plane I felt like Taylor running through the field. Have you figured out that I am a hopeless romantic and highly emotional being yet?

Right after I got home, the album came out. My Target pre-order actually didn’t come before the album released so then start the long standing history of me buying an album in both physical and digital copies because HELLO I wasn’t going to wait to hear it!!!

“Enchanted”
I was rightfully obsessed with Speak now. “Do you know Taylor doesn’t share the writing credits on this album with anyone?!” Guess what happened shortly after the album came out, a tour was announced. I was still SO SALTY about having missed Fearless, there was no way in hell I was missing the Speak Now world tour.

Except one small thing… no one else I knew was into Taylor Swift. Like, no one. Maybe they liked a song or two but they certainly weren’t going to pay to see her in concert. What was I to do? I guess I had to go see her alone.

The thought of traversing Staples Center alone terrified me. But seeing Taylor live was bigger then my fear. I just wanted to experience her live, alone or not.

August 24th 2011 I saw her and it was everything I wanted and more. By that time my long distance relationship was obliterated and I was onto different avenues but my love for all these songs was unaffected. And I cried…and cried and cried. I could care less that Justin Beiber was the special guest, Taylor was amazing and everything I was hoping for. That night was surely sparking. I only wish I had been with a group like a lot of girls there, so I could make cool costumes and share that joy with someone. 

And I have went on to see Taylor 3x alone, Ariana Grande 1x alone and Beyonce alone too. I have seen so much amazing talent because of my willingness to go by myself and Taylor opened that door for me.

 

“Dear John”
“I’m shining like fireworks over your sad little town”. Anyone who has ever seen the Speak Now DVD can envision those fireworks as they read that line. The relationship I was in crumbled and Taylor was with me every step of the way. Her lyrics nursed those wounds. Dear John was like an epic poem I could write to so many that had held my heart at one point or another. If you’ve been there, you get that song.

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“Safe and Sound”
My parents bought me a cat in the 4th grade, his name was Michelob. And I had him for 22 years. I lost him around the time that Taylor’s song for the Hunger Games soundtrack came out. My heart was and is still so broken over that loss and this song helped comfort me when literally NO ONE could understand. A cat is not a cat, this cat had been with me most of my life. “Just close your eyes/ The sun is going down / You’ll be alright / No one can hurt you now/ Come morning light you and I will be safe and sound” It was the first time I ever dealt with loss in my life, that song helped me through it.

“Begin Again”
2011 was the year that my current boyfriend and I started hanging out. My heart was still pretty fragile and we took things slow. Begin Again came out and once again Taylor was singing about my life. Here I was trying to trust and give my heart to someone new after it had been so crushed. But if Taylor could do it….

“Come in with the rain”
I had been obsessed with come in with the rain the moment I heard it. I need to stop saying that but, it’s the truth. It wasn’t a radio single but it was a Malinda’s car single for sure. But that guitar…

I had always wanted to play guitar. When I was in H.S. I wanted a guitar because I loved Michelle Branch (another singer songwriter). But I never got one…I just never did it. But hearing the guitar in, “Come in with the rain”,  “Superstar” and “Breathe” became my obsession. And it was shortly after I saw the Speak Now tour that I finally bought my first guitar. I always say, “Michelle made me want it, but Taylor made me do it”

 

“Treacherous”
The anticipation for the release of Red was insane. She was doing this thing where she was releasing a track a week and I could barely stand it. When the album came out I was blown away, HOW did Taylor get my life so well?

Literally there were nights when I followed my boyfriend home from a night out. I still hated driving but I’d drive to see him. “Two headlights shine through the sleepless night and I will follow you, follow you home” Also the Red album showed my then non-boyfriend just how much of a Swiftie I was.

I was at his house the morning the tickets for the Red Tour went on sale. Sweating and freaking out, because I just had to see Tay again. Once again I was going to see her alone but by then I was fine with it.

Treacherous was also the first FULL song I learned how to play on guitar. There was a girl on youTube that would do Taylor tutorials for the new Red songs the moment they were released. I went back later and learned songs from other albums, but “Red” showed me I could actually play.

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“State of Grace”
I always said that the opening of State of Grace makes me feel like I’m flying. It sounds like dizzying exciting love. It would be in my top 5 Swift songs for sure.

Depending on how long you’ve been a Swiftie you may remember Taylor Connect. The message boards on her website. I mean, of course I was on them! After the Red Tour tickets went on sale the did a lottery for Taylor Connect users to get pit tickets. I entered and I WAS SELECTED.

I was sitting in a booth at The Habit (a burger place in Cali) and I looked at my boyfriend and said, “I HAVE TO GO HOME AND BUY THIS TICKET!” Because I was convinced if I tried to buy it on the phone it would malfunction and I would lose this golden opportunity. Have you figured out that I’m a SPAZ yet?  My computer did not blow up and yes I got my Red Tour pit ticket for $150. You read that correctly, $150. Taylor has always been so good to her fans.

The day of the Red Tour I was A MESS. Pit is GA and I was convinced I was going to get stuck behind a massively tall person. I was there before the doors opened for Staples center and I RAN to the floor. I got a spot on the runway and did not move for hours. I didn’t eat, drink or go to the restroom I stood there and held my spot on her catwalk.

This is why the Red tour DVD not being released still makes me sad. Because that night WAS MAGIC. I have never been and probably will never be SO CLOSE to her. GUYS SHE IS REAL! She is amazing, she is everything you can imagine. Her opening song was State of Grace and I still know where she jumped down the stairs, some of her coreo and the way she walked, her fingers for “2 fire signs, 4 blue eyes” …the black hat she threw into the crowd. I remember it all…all..allll too well. That was August 19th, 2013, my life changed a lot shortly after that.

“The best day”
I cannot listen to, “The best day” I just wrote out that song title and tears started coming out. If you are not familiar with this song it’s a sweet song Taylor wrote to her mom on her Fearless album, hence, why it’s to painful for me to ever hear.

My mom had been fighting an illness for 10 years called aplastic anemia. Due to battling the illness and complications from the side effects of all the medicines she took my mom passed away on March 5th, 2014, a week before her birthday.

My mom knew I loved Taylor, when I got my guitar she told me, “What you’re going to be the next Taylor Swift?” Honestly in the moment I took it as sarcasm, but now I hold that comment so close to my heart.

When the Wonderstuck perfume came out my mom went to Macy’s and bought it for my birthday, she even got the patchwork gift with purchase bag for me. I wear my Wonderstruck perfume whenever I miss her.

Both my parents took me to Staples Center the first time I ever saw Taylor live. They dropped me off and picked me up. I remember jumping into the car with my Covergirl tour merch bag after the concert and excitedly telling them how amazing she’d been and how she was EVERYTHING I’d imagined.

I didn’t know it’d be the last of my birthday’s I’d spend with her. But for some reason I’d opted for an at home BBQ that year and asked her to make my favorite foods. My boyfriend bought me a guitar case for my birthday and I have a picture with her smiling as he surprised me with it. I went back to Safe and Sound, I was very, very lost.

“Superstar”
My sister didn’t know a lot of Taylor Swift. But she knew, “Superstar”. She knew why I loved that song…and so many others. My sister was my best friend, she was my only true best friend. But my sister couldn’t handle losing my mother.

My sister was born with a congenital heart defect and had health issue her entire life. But somehow, she still carved this AMAZING life full of adventure for herself. But just over 6 months after my mother died, I lost my sister too on October 1st, 2014. The day before my birthday. It was the 1-2 punch from hell.

My sisters musical love was Duran Duran but she TOTALLY understood my Taylor obsession, she got it because she was the same way with them. She didn’t like country at all but she’d always let me play Taylor in her car. I remember when the Red album came out and I played her, “All too well” she knew without saying who that song was for.

One of the last text messages I have from my sister was a picture she took in a Dr’s office waiting room. There was someone in there wearing a “Red’ rubber tour bracelet and she wanted to show me. My own Red tour bracelet took on a much deeper meaning after.that. She also bought me Taylor shirts for my birthday one year.

The night my sister passed away we went to a a karaoke bar near U of Penn. (My sister passed away in PGH and my dad and other 2 sisters were there.) One of the songs we sang that night was, “Highway don’t care”. Probably one of the few pure country songs I know, thanks to Taylor of course.

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My sister, mom and I watching The Little Mermaid

“1989”
I don’t remember anything making me very happy that year. There was so much loss and sadness in my life. To be honest with you, all of it hasn’t gone away. I’m not who I was in any way shape or form. I just cried a lot, went to work, came home laid in bed and cried.

I am not over exaggerating that the release of “Shake it off” was one of the first and only things that truly brought me a fragment of joy. That and went my boyfriend took me to Disneyland after a long dry spell for a belated birthday were the ONLY things that made me even temporarily happy.

1989 was one of the only lights in all that darkness. I’d even feel guilty when I’d smile or dance to it. It became my lifeline to joy because it took my mind, if even temporarily off the hurt I was trying to live through. If I ever did meet Taylor I’d tell her 1989 saved my spirit in my darkest time, just by being made…for giving me something to ease that unfathomable pain.

Blank Space”
The thing about loss is that it shows you how finite your life is. You don’t have endless time, so it began to push me to try and stretch myself despite the heartbreak. Even if it was driving to Manhattan Beach for a women’s symposium, running a 5k  or dying my hair red. I just started trying to stretch.

I’d always wanted to take vocal lessons but never did. I was born with a clef palette and have a speech impediment but as fate would have it (and as I mentioned) I LOVE singing. I always felt that vocal lessons were going to be a waste of money for someone with a voice like me. But at this stage of my life, despite all those internal demons saying, “Don’t do it!” I did it anyway.

I have never been more scared of anything in my life, and I wasn’t that great especially because of stage fright. But I kept going and going. The first song I attempted to learn was “Blank Space” then “Style” then “All too well”.

Blank Space was really when Taylor started to grab the image projected onto her by the media by the horns. It was the first glimpse we had at how she could use those bricks to make her castle. I pity anyone that ever dissed that song because they didn’t understand it’s satirical value. I was trying to take control of my own image too.

“Shake if off”
Mean girls aren’t just reserved for high school and they aren’t reserved to girls either. At work I was miserable because on top of the aforementioned loss the person I thought was my closest friend turned out to be a frenemy. Work felt like a battle ground for awhile and I would listen to Shake it off over and over again on the way to work AND at work to remind myself that haters were gonna hate, hate, hate and I didn’t have to play into it. Music really does give me strength and healing and courage and everything else.

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Wildest dreams”
Since the very first 1989 tour date in Tokyo I was waiting to see the Wildest Dreams/Enchanted mash up live. I saw it in a YouTube video and I started crying because it was so perfect. Two of my favorite songs delivered so amazingly.

Wildest Dreams was instantly my favorite songs on 1989. I learned it on guitar, I tried to learn to sing it in voice lessons. When the video came out I went to Disneyland wearing my Taylor shirt. Once again, she had captured that feeling of fleeting love so perfectly. I knew that feeling so well too. Maybe it was in the past, and I know it’s long gone but, that song just made it flood back.

I recorded the audio of the mashup on my phone at the concert and tried not to cry too hard when she did it. The 1989 tour was another bright light in my world that was still pretty dark. I always say death is like a film that forever alters the way you see life and even the beautiful moments are tinged with sadness for the people that can’t share them with you.

But the 1989 tour left me with more hope then I walked in with. Taylor doesn’t understand how healing her speeches are, how much she connects to the audience. I remember once in an interview they asked her what super power she’d want and she said, “A Healer”. I wanted to make a sign for the concert that said, “Taylor you ARE a healer!!!” But I doubt, even if she did see it, she’d understand that I was referencing some random interview she did.

“Out of the Woods”
There was only one bad thing about the 1989 tour. I was sitting on the floor and someone stole my light up bracelet before I got to my seat. And let me tell you as a swiftie I was LOOKING FORWARD to this bracelet! I literally felt like every person in that arena had a bracelet in Staples Center except me. I was really, really sad about it. I wished bad karma to whomever had stolen it off my seat. So that was August 25th, 2015.

Flash forward to the 2016 Grammy Awards. My boyfriend got invited because one of his friends worked on Kendrick Lamar’s record, “To Pimp a Butterfly”. I was so excited because Taylor was nominated for album of the year and they were going to be in the same building!!!

They walked the red carpet and he saw Joseph Kahn, I was so jealous. Then he said that as the filed into the auditorium there was a table…piled high with Taylor’s light up bracelets! Why? She was opening the Grammy’s with, “Out of the woods” and brought them for the Grammy audience. He grabbed about 5 and brought them for me. (Not to mention he was feet away from her as she won her Grammy and did her bad ass acceptance speech.)

I honestly still can’t believe my fortune. Especially with how I was still feeling,  I just needed that reminder that magic still existed in the world. I got my bracelets 5 fold and someone the universe had fully made up for me being sad about it at the concert. Taylor Swift is magic even when she’s not trying.

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“Welcome to New York”
Once again spurred by the need to reclaim my life I left my job that had made me miserable after 8 years. I found an amazing job at an NPR station. My first day of work I remember driving in morning traffic. This was a new experience for someone that used to drive to work at 4:30am, I was used to empty roads and this was chaos! (Chaos in the mind that someone doesn’t like to drive much.)

But, I put on “Welcome to New York” and it reminded me of the enormity of this great journey I was embarking on. It was all unknown and crazy, but a step in the right direction That is exactly what “Welcome to New York” embodies, starting something new, not knowing what to expect but you know you’re on the right path. Subsequent mornings “Welcome to New York” (and all of 1989 would lift my spirits as I sat in morning traffic AND at work when I was nervous at my new job.  I started that job on October 7, 2016.

“Look what you made me do”
We didn’t hear a ton from Taylor in early 2017. But I was still stanning for her and happy that she was getting a break from the relentless public eye. I’d rather her take all the time she needed for herself then keep pushing and being unhappy.  I have never been more proud of her then I was when she gave her court testimony. It was BAD ASS (no pun intended). And her Time Magazine cover with the other silence breakers was by far my favorite magazine cover/interview she’s ever done.

But when she came back with LWYMMD and RECLAIMED her narrative I was in awe. I hated being on socials seeing everyone talk crap before LWYMMD, about her. The stupid snake emojis would infuriate me. But Taylor doesn’t need my defense, Tay has got her own back and she took her image back and minted it! And once again, the song was on repeat and helping me get past my own hurdles. “But I got smarter, I got harder in the nick of time / Honey I rose up from the dead I do it all the time” 

I can’t say I’m as far along as Taylor, but I’m trying to be reborn again myself. Trying to adjust to the new normal in my life now, I’m really bad at change. Also I’m still not as confident as I’d like to be but watching how strong and happy she’s become gives me the strength to keep fighting for joy too. Not worrying about what other people think of me is my #1 goal in life. Even writing this my brain is saying, “People are going to think you’re crazy…” but I’m doing it anyway. 

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“New Years Day”
I had lived at home my entire life until January of this year. Another reason why Reputation just feels so right in this moment, because it’s Taylor really striking out and L-I-V-I-N-G. It’s not easy to leave the place you’ve always known, but with my mom gone things just weren’t the same anymore…I guess it was just time. So I spent this New Years Day at my new house with my boyfriend in Los Angeles. The first month it was hard, I kept thinking of the line from, “Never Grow up” where she says, “So here I am in my new apartment / In the big city, they just dropped me off / It’s so much colder then I thought it would be / So I tuck myself in and turn my light night on”.

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Cause one day I’ll be livin’ in a big ole city…

“Delicate”
The relationship I am in now is so different then any other one I’ve been in. For so many reasons, there’s a perfect Taylor song (or several) for every past person that’s ever had  my heart. But it’s always a good sign when the happy songs remind you of the person you’re with.  And if “Dear John” or “All too well” remind you of someone run as fast as you can! 

I’ve never been serious enough to live with a boyfriend before but I’ve never been with someone that really understood me for me. We’ve been together 6 years and I’ve never been happier or felt safer with someone. One of the first places we ever met up was a dive bar… I’m not kidding. 

Even though I think the Swift fandom wanted a sweet romance video for “Delicate” what she got was even more powerful. She’s happy cause she gets to be herself and this person she loves actually sees her for herself too. It took me years to actually fully show myself because I was so afraid of being hurt, do to what had happened in the past, delicate reminds me of those first few years when I was really starting to show myself. I’m still working on showing myself to the world however.

“Dress”
I know “Dress” is Taylor’s song but honestly it could be my song too. Because as I keep saying, Taylor writes my life.  “Flash back when you met me / Your buzz cut / And my hair bleached / Even in my worst light, you saw the best in me”

We didn’t meet under the best circumstances, I actually liked someone totally different. But we stood friends for a very long time. He saw me at my worst, my darkest, my dumbest, and yes he saw the best in me. And I really did wake up just in time, because if I hadn’t realized what was important in a partner I probably would have made different choices and missed out on him.

My favorite line on the song, nay, on the ALBUM is, “You left your mark on me, a golden tattoo”.

Because I not only think of him, but for some reason I think of my sister and my mom. I think of how much they influence my life and the lasting tattoo they will forever have on my heart. Love leaves its mark on you, and it is a golden tattoo which can never be erased..even long after someone is gone.

“End Game”
I am now a week away from watching the Reputation Stadium tour in Pasadena and once again I cannot wait. Concerts are my church it’s where my soul is healed where I feel like I belong, amongst all the others there that just get it. We scream, cry, sing and dance it is freedom and it is beautiful.

And for the first time in my Taylor history, I won’t be going to this concert alone. My niece got her ticket after me though…so I’ll still be sitting alone. But, I look forward for the opportunity to enjoy the pre and post concert glow with someone. And I will once again bawl my eyes out next to people I don’t know, happily. 


I often can’t really verbalize WHY I love Taylor so much when people ask me, and this is why. Because we have such an amazing long history together, she has meant SO MANY things to me over SO MANY years. I know I don’t know her, but she’s left her mark on me too. I will probably be a Swiftie for the rest of my life. She’s amazing and has helped me through my darkest times and helped me to express all the joy and love I’ve experienced too. If you actually stuck through to the end of this, I thank you for taking the time.

I will leave you with my second favorite Tay quote:

“If you’re lucky enough to be different, never change.” – Taylor Swift

It calls me….

Have you ever been able to do something but had the inability to show others you could in fact do that something?  So much so that you actually start doubting you can really do it? “No”? “Yes”? “What the hell are you talking about”?

I’ve mentioned before how I have two voices in my head that constantly battle each other. One says, “We got this!” the other says, “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?! STOP IT!” Guess who always wins. But when I’m alone, the loud voice shuts up and I sing freely.

I grew up on Disney songs, my first CD was The Little Mermaid soundtrack, then Beauty and the Beast, Lion King, Pocahontas..you get the picture. And I practiced singing them non-stop. No one ever said I was good though. i thought I sounded alright… but no one ever said it. Then bullies, adolescence fast forward and my singing became this thing I only did in my car, an empty house or a hotel room shower.

I’ve taken vocal lessons slightly over a year now. And I’ve tried to learn several different songs with varying degrees of sort of success. I could never walk in there and “strut my stuff”. I started to believe I lacked stuff TO strut.

Do you know HOW MANY TIMES I told myself, “I’m going to ask to sing, “A Whole New World” from Aladdin. Literally I’d think about this all week, be driving to class and freak the fuck out and not say a word about it. The thing is I could sing “A Whole New World” damn good even as a kid when the movie came out. Once my ex best friend accused me of lip-syncing when I completely wasn’t (I was 10…). Out of all the Disney songs I love that one and Mulan’s, “Reflection” (movie version) are probably the ones I do best.

But I never had the balls to step into class and attempt these songs. Because HELLO these are Disney songs. That’s not just singing Taylor Swift that SINGING. If I couldn’t even do a Taylor song what business did I have walking in there attempting a Disney song? BTW, this is my internal monologue you are now viewing. Brutal huh?

I hadn’t seen Moana because when it came out I had JUST started my new job and Adam was in Europe and I was too stressed out to do anything. I am obsessed with the water I knew I would instantly love it, I don’t know why I avoided it so long.

A week before I saw the movie (Which was about 2 weeks ago), so 3 weeks ago, something made me listen to the title track, “How far I’ll go”. I had heard clips of it but never actually listened. I was OBSESSED instantly. It hit me like, “Part of your world” had hit me so so many years ago. I listened to it over and over and sang it over and over. Literally that day I first heard it I sang it the entire way home. And I thought I was doing a pretty good job. But of course my brain would not allow for such thoughts to stay in my head long. “You sound good because no one can hear you, you suck”.

I saw the movie the new week, instantly obsessed again. The story just hit me like those old school Disney movies had. (TLM, BATB…). Shortly after I ended up alone in my house. A big struggle for me has been stage fright and letting people hear me. Even videoing myself is super hard for me. I get nervous even with THAT. But I kept trying to get comfortable with it. I took one that sounded ok..and sent it to my BF Adam, the only person I really trust with this…somewhat. lol

Then I did something insane, insane to me, I posted that video on instagram. It wasn’t my best, but it was almost like I had to face that fear. Of letting people hear me and NOT being perfect. Just letting myself heard, period. That was my only goal with it. The world did not end, I did not fall apart. And even though 2 weeks later my knee-jerk reaction is to “Delete that!” I wont let myself based on principal. If I can’t show this side of myself I will never be happy.

So as I said, countless, endless, pretty much every time I went to class I thought about trying one of those Disney classics…and backed down. But yesterday I decided I was going to try it. Well not a classic but, “How far I’ll go”. My regular teacher isn’t there but her sub is super nice too. I even printed out the words. The funny thing is the first thing my teacher told me when I walked in, “Maybe we should work on two songs, do another one too.” Oh universe, you are HILARIOUS. So I suggested, “How far I’ll go” and busted out the lyrics I already had printed out.

Then I did it, I was nervous as hell and wasn’t my best, but I wasn’t my worst either. I navigated that song way better then any other song I had attempted in the last year. So we kept working on different elements and I tried it again and again. The final time she was genuinely surprised and said I had done so well. That I had all of the notes I just had to work on my projection. But that I did awesome and that I ,”Kept surprising her”.

Do you know how long I have waited for someone to tell me I really could do this? That it wasn’t so made up thing I could only do in my head. No, I really can sing that song and I can probably sing all the other ones well too. But just that moment of validation, unaided validation. I cried on the way home. I have waited over 20 years for that moment. For someone to say, “You CAN do this.” Honestly, words can’t even describe it.

“One day I’ll know
How far I’ll go”

It’s more then just a concert: My thoughts on Manchester

I just returned from a vacation in New Orleans but writing about that just doesn’t feel right at the moment. Since the tragedy in Manchester happened it hasn’t left my mind.

I love going to concerts, so much so I’d probably list it as a hobby. I love music and there is NOTHING like seeing it performed live. It’s not even just about being in close proximity to the artists, or admiring their talent. Music is expression and going to a concert is the ultimate expression of joy and solidarity.

Once when I saw Beyonce at the Rose Bowl I posted on facebook that it felt like I was going to church. You’re in a building with people filled with pure joy and excitement . No one is worrying about how they are going to be perceived. I dance my ass off and sing my heart out, smile, cry, the songs COME TO LIFE.

Music in itself ALREADY has an element of life and spirit to me. Songs and albums speak my soul, good or bad, they give me an outlet to express everything. Music is EVERYTHING to me. So a concert is the ultimate expression of it. And guess what? You’re with 100’s or 10,000+ people that feel THE EXACT way you do. They’re there to be in a place where you all share this commonality…the joy of the artists, the music and all the life it brings.

EVERY concert I have ever attended has been one of the happiest moments of my life for this exact reason. And it’s why I keep going back, why I go alone to them most times. Because nothing is going to stop me from experiencing that oneness. I never feel more like I belong then in those moments. I am with people that understand just HOW much this means to me, and its a gift.

Which is why I find what happened extra horrifying. A moment of peace and pure joy completely shattered and destroyed and turned into something so ugly I can’t even comprehend it. The media focuses on the teen girls and young people in the place and yes that does make up the majority of her audiences. But I assure you, there were all kinds of people there who were just as happy and joyous to be there. People like me, parents, boys, men…the joy is infectious.

I saw Ariana when she was here last month. My boyfriend happened to go with me to that show. But do you know every other concert I’ve been to in the last 5 or so years has been ALONE. I’ve seen Taylor 3x, Ariana 1x and Beyonce all alone. I’m supposed to see Katy Perry in October…alone. And I’d be a liar if I said I wasn’t scared. Scared of what could have happened, or what could happen. Worried that my moment of peace has been forever shattered along with many other fans out there.

My heart breaks for everyone that had to experience that night and everyone that didn’t make it. I can’t even begin to imagine. It makes me want to help, but I feel helpless and it makes me scared.

But isn’t that the point? To terrorize us into changing who we are and abandon what we love out of fear? They discount the human spirit, they underestimate US. It may not be immediate but they can’t stop our joy and our freedom of expression.

“Be Alright”

Midnight shadows
When finding love is a battle
But daylight is so close
So don’t you worry ’bout a thing

We’re gonna be alright [3x]

Baby, don’t you know
All them tears gon’ come and go
Baby, you just gotta make up your mind
That every little thing is gonna be alright
Baby, don’t you know
All them tears gon’ come and go
Baby, you just gotta make up your mind
We decide it

We’re gonna be alright [3x]

In slow motion
Can’t seem to get where we’re going
But the hard times are golden
Cause they all lead to better days

We’re gonna be alright [3x]

– Ariana Grande

How did I get here?

This morning we had a meeting, actually, it wasn’t a meeting, it was a job interview. The head of my department is leaving and they are having potential applicants meet with the ENTIRE department, at once. Think a long conference table full of people…asking them questions. Talk about pressure. And then it hit me again, as it so often does, “How did I get here?!

You see just a year ago my life looked VERY different. I was at a job that made me miserable on every level. It was completely unfulfilling and thankless. I worked M, W-S. Yes, I didn’t even have 2 days off together and I woke up at 4am everyday to go to work. I was on production and all that really mattered was my output, it was slowly crushing my soul.

I am a self help book junkie. This started when I purchased my first true self help book, “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle that and Super Soul Sunday sent me down the self help rabbit hole. So I kept reading over and over in different books, “The energy you put into things is what you get out of it”. So I made a choice, even though I couldn’t stand my job I was going to put nothing but good energy into it. Even though it felt meaningless I was going to create meaning. I worked at a lockbox, basically the meaning I gouged out of it was that I was helping people pay their bills, I was helping them get the medical bills paid so i did the best I could possibly do, for them.

A few months into this thought shift, an opportunity came up for people to travel to another site and do work. I had been there 6 years and this chance had never been available to me. But because my quality of work and knowledge were so high, I got the chance to travel to Boston. Paid by the company. Sure I had to work but in the evening we would go out and explore. I saw where the Boston Tea party happened, I visited Salem, I saw so many sights in Boston. I believe 100% this was due to my effort in shifting the energy I put into my job.

This was actually the same year my Mother and sister died. My mom had passed away before I went to Boston, my sister passed away a month after. Even through this bleak miserable time I still made sure to always bring positive energy to work.

This never altered the fact, however, that everyday I wished I could leave. But honestly, I didn’t see how. I only had a H.S. diploma, I only had experience in customer service and lockbox…the only place I felt I could go and be paid a decent wage was another lockbox, more of the same.  I said I wouldn’t leave for another lockbox, I wouldn’t leave for a similar job.  I’d look whenever they’d upset me, but get over it and stay. Everyone constantly talked about wanting to leave, but no one left because it was safe. We got paid ok, we had health benefits, I had 4 weeks vacation (I couldn’t use…lol, thats another story). It wasn’t bad on that front… just for me personally it gave me little to no fulfillment.

Long story short, they had approved some of my vacation then tried to take it away, the WEEK BEFORE I was set to take it. I was livid, I was angry, their reasons were ridiculous. I fought back, with reason and logic, and they ended up not taking it away but I was still upset. I gave these people everything I had and they couldn’t even give me my week vacay?

So I started googling jobs, as I always had, and somehow I found the listing for my current job. It was divine intervention. I read the job description and thought, “I could do that…” even though it seemed total different from my current job. It had a lot of the same attributes. I sat on it for a week…but it just nagged at me. Something about this job felt different, it felt right.

I didn’t even have an updated resume, let alone a cover letter.  I felt SO inadequate, like there was no way in hell I could actually get this job. But I kept reading the specs, “I could do that, I could do that, I could learn that, I’m detail oriented…” I didn’t believe I’d ever hear from them. I sent in my newly cobbled resume and cover letter anyway.

Two weeks later, I got an email asking me to set up a phone interview.

Took the phone interview thought, “Omg, I blew it…there is no way they are going to call me.”

They called me in for a regular interview.

Going to that interview was one of the most TERRIFYING things I did in my life. I was terrified I would blow it. But from the moment I walked into the building, met my potential new managers, and yes, I got interviewed by my potential new coworkers…I walked out of there wanting that job more then anything else. It wasn’t the money (a substantial raise) but it was the ENERGY of the place. The employees looked happy, said they LOVED working there, they loved the organization and their jobs. Literally I felt like I had glimpsed heaven. If you understood the environment I was in at that time…you’d know why I felt that way. It was night and day.

Obviously, you know how the story ends…I got the job. The first and only job I ever applied for after being at my last workplace 8 years. Everyone around me has a degree, everyone around me has worked in the non-profit world before and then there is me. I got here because experience counts for a lot more in life then we think. I literally made lemonade out of lemons, in my eyes. No job is without its challenges and I still have other goals, but my life literally looks COMPLETELY different then it did a year ago.

My 6mo anniversary just passed. I’m honestly still getting used to the freedom and level of respect I’m given by my colleagues. I work with so many strong, opinionated, intelligent women it makes my heart sing.

I believe 1000% that my choice years ago to shift the energy I put into my work brought me to where I am now. I completely manifested this. It didn’t come from thin air… I worked my ass off at my old job and I work my ass off now. Even though I sorta didn’t believe that there was no way I’d get this job, I tried anyway and put my best foot forward.

I would love to tell you I am always positive, but that’s not the case. In other areas in my life I am VERY MUCH a work in progress. But this is something I am really proud of. And I hope anyone that is in a job that is less then fulfilling can get some hope, things can change if you want them to. Start by changing the energy you put into the work, who knows where it will take you.