I was not fully looking forward to our family trip to Sequoia and I almost didn’t go. There were personal reasons and then more topical reasons.
It had been about 15 years since the last time I had went. Prior to that we went almost every year when I was growing up. But a lot has changed in 15 or so years and I just didn’t think I had it in me to “rough it” in nature.
I use the term “rough it” loosely because we stay in cabins that have electricity and beds, we only camped once or twice, that I can remember. You do have to walk to a central shower and bathroom but it’s far from sleeping on the ground in a tent. My niece’s friend Sam likened it to, “glamping”, it’s not quiet that plush…but somewhere in-between.
Over the few days I was there though, it was like this dormant part of me woke up. “OH, I used to love nature. I used to love running around and exploring!” I had completely forgot that that part of me even existed. It was like I forgot about that girl completely, but the big beautiful trees and endless vistas brought her back to me.
I felt SO insignificant out there in the vast world of nature. I was SO small, tiny, miniscule! I can’t even verbalize how unimportant I felt. And it was amazing…because it was a reminder of how big the world is. And, though my problems and issues sometimes feel insurmountable they are even tinier then I am against the backdrop of nature. That’s such a comforting feeling.
Sometimes it feels like life is crashing around me. One crazy happening after another but the forest kind of just side steps the chaos. You see broken or burned trees scattered about the floor but it doesn’t stop everything around it from being beautiful.
Sequoia trees cannot begin to grow without fire. If the ground becomes overcrowded they can’t thrive. So they require something so destructive to live, enter fire. In our lives we say, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” but maybe the hard things in life are pushing us to thrive too.
We walked through Crystal Cave which was formed, in simple terms, by running dripping water. Water finding weaknesses in marble and working at it for millions of years formed an amazing cave. Sometimes we feel like the small steps we take don’t mean anything yet these tiny drops of water formed a massive, beautiful cavern.
The place I didn’t really much want to go back to, became a place I wasn’t ready to leave. I wanted to go on more trails, more hikes, soak in more of the forest. After the first day I stopped caring that my phone had absolutely no service. I was happy about it. It really forced me to disconnect and connect with mother nature and my old self again.
I leave you with a Shakespeare quote our tour guide at Crystal Cavern told us:
“And this our life, exempt from public haunt, Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, Sermons in stones, and good in everything.”
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.
“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.
“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.
Far out in the nosebleeds of Staples
“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.
“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.
“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.
Me and my sister Mercy
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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”.
“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
I’ve had this blog almost a year now and it’s really been a struggle to pick a sold direction for it. I think I finally figured out why. I spent hours trying to analyze why all of a sudden having a blog was SO difficult for me when before it was really easy.
I used to have a livejournal (but seriously who didn’t?). I wrote in it religiously for years!! Sometime’s I’d do multiple updates in a day, I posted everything I did, every single day. Every issue or problem I had, into the journal it went. But that was a long time ago…and I was a different person then. And therein lies the problem, I was trying to figure out how, as a so-called adult, I could just as easily lay my life out there for all to read again but also post fun stuff too.
Ok, at this moment, I am struggling to write this. I literally want to stop and delete everything, this is my current internal monologue:
“OMG they’re going to think I can’t share my feelings anymore cause I’m afraid now”
“People aren’t going to get this at all…you’re just confusing them, just stop, seriously”
“You’re making it sound like you’re never going to write about your life. That’s not true either! “
“Now they think you have voices in your head and you’re crazy, great, just GREAT”
So I apologize to the one person that might be reading this who is very confused. But, THIS IS WHAT I HAVE BEEN STRUGGLING WITH (as far as writing goes) for the past YEAR! This stupid, “All or nothing” mentality. Either you’re going to lay it all out there Malinda or you’re not going to write anything.
My mind tends to swing very negative. And a personal goal of mine right now is to really focus on joy and the things and people in my life that make me happy. And honestly that’s what I truly want to write about. But that internal voice also says:
“If you only write about things that bring you joy you’re being frivolous and fake”
“If you only write about good you’ll be pretending your life is perfect”
Perfection and I have a deep dark history, and I don’t want to meet perfection again, it’ll cut me down and make me miserable.
So what is the point of this? What conclusion did I come up with?
I need to stop worrying about what anyone thinks!!!
I wrote that in red bold letters for myself more then anyone. But seriously, my God it’s exhausting to constantly be worried about how you’re being perceived by the freaking universe. THAT IS ONE OF MY BIGGEST ISSUES. Heck, it might BE my biggest issue.
If I want to keep some topics close to my chest and write the hell out of others, I will do that. If I do 20 posts about Disneyland and t-shirts and my latest funko binge, then good for me. And if I have a week where I’m depressed and missing my sister/mom/old life/anything else that makes me emo. I will do that too!
Livejournal was literally my only escape and connection to other people outside of the abhorrent relationship I was in at the time. That’s why it was such a lifeline for me, because I felt like I couldn’t tell people IRL the horrible shit I was going through…so I told a bunch of strangers to get some form of support and compassion
1. I am in no way shape or form in anything that even resembles that now. 2. I actually have people IRL to talk to and seek comfort in even when times do get tough. So, it really makes sense that I can’t write the way I used to…because I’m not the person I used to be.
So I’m just going to let the writing flow as it wants to. Because overall the thing I do know is that I miss writing so much! I’ve wanted to write so many times, but then the above dialogue would ensue. I was only able to break past it a few times here and there and actually get something down here.
I still don’t have a crystal clear set direction as far as what I may post. I do a lot better when I don’t have creative boundaries. I really want to share the stuff that makes me happy and maybe even some of the things that make me sad. So that’s what I am going to do.
Do you know I just had the urge to just write, “I apologize this post has been all over the place..” NO, I don’t apologize. My brain is all over the place, so my dang post is too. Welcome to my blog!!
I am a self confessed self help junkie. I live for Super Soul Sunday and Brene Brown and Liz Gilbert, et al. I want to improve, change, be different, grow, etc.
I DO NOT LIKE CHANGE. I fight it, hate it, avoid it. Guess where growth comes from? *eye roll* I know this because everyone knows this. Everyone knows that to be in a different place you have to do different things. “Take the leap of faith…” and the second statement always goes something like this:
“It may take some adjustment…”
“Things may be challenging at first but…”
“You will face difficulties but..”
And eventually your change will lead you to the new life you want. Blah, blah, blah.
THIS IS WHAT THEY NEVER SAY. Even an awesome change can be HARD AND MISERABLE at first.Maybe I am an isolated case of weirdness. Maybe I’m just extra resistant to things changing. The reason why I am even bringing this up is because yesterday was a year since I left my old job and consequently started my current job a few days later.
I wrote about this a bit before, but to tell you the truth I sugarcoated it a bit. I was FUCKING MISERABLE at my old job. It was thankless, you worked your ass off and it was hardly appreciated, we were on production and it was like a factory job in an office setting. Only your mistakes were pointed out to you. They never gave you the vacation you wanted without a fight, them trying to take away my vacation was literally what led me to my current job. (Thanks guys!) HOWEVER, my supervisor and friends there were always a bright side. It was the company culture and management that made it terrible.
The only reason why I mention all that is to emphasize how miserable I was in that job.
So, I get my new job. The hours are better, days off are better, environment is better, vacation approval is so easy I could cry, I don’t even have to CALL to call in sick, I am treated like an adult and trusted to be there and do my job without every minute of my day being watched and calculated. HEAVEN RIGHT? Nope, not at first.
I had been at my old job for 8 years. And even though I hated it and was absolutely miserable, it was what I was used to. I knew what I had to do, what my drive was like, I knew it. So I threw myself into something I didn’t know and went into an emotional tailspin. Even though it was 1000% better. And this is what the books never tell you. Even if you leave something bad, for something totally better just being IN SOMETHING NEW is enough to make you feel lost and yearning for comfort.
Those first few months, I just wanted the safety of my old terrible job. I was a boss at my old job, now I was a novice. I knew exactly what was expected of me, now I was lost. I went from banking to NPR Radio….I WAS SCARED. Terrified that I had made a horrible mistake and threw my life upside down.
CHANGE IS FUCKING HARD, EVEN AFTER YOU MAKE IT.
Having said that however, you still need to do it, BECAUSE IT IS WORTH IT. Just don’t be fooled into believing that the leap is the only hard part. The leap is just the beginning to your new trials. I wish I had known that, because when things felt SO HARD in the beginning my mind processed that as, “YOU made a terrible mistake!!!!!” Not, “This is hard now but one day it will get better…it may take months but it will get better”
I was so close so many days, in the beginning, to asking for my old job back. I’d cry all the time because it was just so new and scary. But I kept with it and now I realize going back would have been the “terrible mistake”.
It’s funny, because now a year later I am on the cusp of yet another massive change. One that will undoubtedly throw my life upside down again for awhile. I’m, once again, scared out of my mind. But just like my current job, I know this is something I have to do for the greater good of myself. I know this will push me to grow and hopefully flourish. It’s yet another case of me entering a situation that’s probably better for me, but just brand new. (And no, I’m not changing jobs again…)
When you make a change, give it time to level out in your life. Give it time to really settle and give yourself time to adjust. If things are rough are first DO NOT take that as a sign that you made a mistake. Take that as a sign that you just did something massively different and the universe is realigning to make it fit into your world.
Please reference me to this post when I have terrified in a few months…
As I’ve mentioned I’m a huge music fan. One of my favorite hobbies is seeing my favorite artists live. I touched upon that in my post, “My thoughts on Manchester”. Music means A LOT to me.
Michelle Branch at the El Rey 7/25/17
Michelle was probably the first artist I was ever completely obsessed with. I know she wasn’t the first singer-songwriter but she was the first one that really caught my attention. I’d never seen a female, my own age, write their own songs, sing and play guitar.
I remember being in high school and wanting to buy a guitar SO BAD after Michelle came on the scene. But I never did, not until over 10 years later. She was also the first artist I ever saw live. I remember I was just in awe of her. I saw her at the House of Blues on Sunset when she was touring for “Hotel Paper”. Everything about that experience was a novelty. “I’m going to HOLLYWOOD to a CLUB to SEE my favorite artist!!! Wow!” This was long before the smart phone, so the memory just lives in my brain.
When I saw her at the EL Rey in Los Angeles she was still super talented, amazing and had me in awe. I was such a different person when I last saw her on so many levels. I couldn’t have even imagined all the twist and turns I’d be in for in life. So the juxtapositon of those two versions of myself (old and current) was really eye opening for me.
In my own musical pursuits I have been trying to get back to the mental space of my youth (i.e. grade school). Before all the major hurts and doubts that gave me my, “art scars”. But the strange thing is that seeing her live REMINDED me why I fell in love with all of it in the first place. WHY I wanted to do it so bad so long ago. The clarity in that got really lost and muddled in adulthood. But seeing her again transported me back to my young 20-something self and it all became a little clearer.
Seeing her took me back into that same place I was at the House of Blues. It was like I remembered the primary reason why I wanted to create. I love how she can express her innermost feelings through song. That’s what I love about music as a whole. But this was the first person I saw, that I really admired, do it live and I think that’s why it was so powerful for me, then and now. As I wrote on Instagram it was a complete, “Simba, remember who you are..” moment. Except the voice was telling me, “Remember….!”
I’ve never truly pursued music because of fear. My anxieties are endless but my desire to express this part of me is endless as well. My inclination to follow this path doesn’t go away. It’s been with me as long as I can remember and no matter how much I try to ignore it, it persists. Maybe this reminder will finally help me get my ass in gear.
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.
I realized today that I have been taking my vocal lessons slightly over a year now. It’s been an interesting year and has forced me to really look at what stops me in life.
I love to sing, I truly do. It makes me so happy. I just love music in general, music heals me or comforts me. And I’ve always wanted to sing. I’ve already written about my internal battle with that though.
I’m actually still finding my voice, in all ways. I’m still breaking free. It’s been tiny baby steps though, teeny tiny ones. Before I took lessons I thought just walking into them was going to be enough for me to “unleash” and suddenly I was going to be so confident. But the opposite happened, it was HARDER for me to sing in my lessons, because I was in front of someone else.
I’ve wanted to quit MANY times. Especially after my last teacher left me. But my new one has taught me so much, and I feel like my 3 short months with her have yielded a lot of results. But the teachers that came before her each had their hand in teaching me several things too.
I’ve learned what a complex instrument the voice is. I’ve also learned that singing is a very mental thing. In the end my mind is hindering me most, even still. I can belt a song in my car but put me in class and it squeaks out. It’s not because I can’t sing, but just because my brain is freaking out and not letting me. Bridging that gap between fear and ability is HARD for me. But I am laying down those boards one at a time, inching along.
I thought I’d be across the water by now. I thought I’d have at least shared my singing with someone. But no, I sing a tiny bit in front of Adam but that is even very rare. I still don’t practice in my house because I’m shy for my dad to hear.
I don’t practice, another huge problem. I really need to. For abilities sake but mostly for confidences sake. The more you feel like, “Yeah. I GOT THIS” the better you will perform. AT ANYTHING in life. Singing is no different.
Today I did something I hadn’t done in awhile. I picked up my guitar. I started just trying to learn Selena Gomez’s song, “Bad Liar” because it seemed like it’d be super easy to play, (it is!) but then a part of me is like, “You need to be working on a “Million Reasons” Malinda….” so I pulled out the chords I had printed and started to try to play it and sing. (My dad wasn’t here, btw) Then I just felt like practicing singing only.
So I sang it and recorded myself, then did something out of the ordinary. I listened to myself. Then I did it again. I got so emotional the second time through it I almost started crying in the middle of the song. Because I was just singing my heart out, the way I used to when I was 8 when I’d sing along to “The Little Mermaid” or any other disney or Madonna song.
I sang a lot of songs, I sang non-stop. But I never got the one thing I was looking for, approval. Someone to say “You sing pretty good” or “Maybe she should take lessons” no one ever pushed that part of me. I think it was because I was SO shy and SO introverted they probably didn’t connect the dots that I loved singing and performing more then anything. I don’t know what it is. But my brain always just told me it was cause I wasn’t good at it…and then as I got older and got bullied it was as if I got confirmation of that fact.
And now I have Olivia Thai, winner of Thai Idol and also former contestant on American Idol telling me that’s NOT the case, that I have a gift I need to share…and I don’t believe her. I want to, I want to SO BAD. But my negativity drowns it out and says, “Bitch, you can’t sing.” The battle I am fighting is mental, it’s not ability based.
I think that’s why that moment made me so emotional. Because I hit the chorus in a “Million Reasons” with full force. Usually between the verse and the chorus I will stop, because she goes into the high notes and sings with so much power. I get scared and falter. But Oliva told me to the practice getting through the song, no stops, even if I mess up to keep going. And I smashed the chorus I could just feel it, it was like my real voice came out. And then I started almost crying. Crying and singing don’t mix well. lol
I have moved forward in this year and forward is all I can ask for. I’m excited to know with more confidence and more practice where I will be in another year. Will I be posting a video for everyone to hear? I hope so.