Monday, February 6, 2017

The Phoenix

A few months ago, I made a change to my body that many of my friends became vocal about - for better or for worse.  I got inked.

For the most part, friends have been overwhelmingly supportive of me making this decision for myself, esp. as they recognize the time and energy that went into choosing the specific design, the colors, the style, the shop, the artist... It was all with an intent to be highly symbolic and therefore, needed to be specific.

I've wanted to get a Phoenix tattoo since last Fall.  2015 was a pretty difficult year for me, and in all honesty, the last few years have been hugely life-changing with many directional switches.  In late 2013 I began lifting and clean eating.  I began to switch my body's routines and the way I looked at overall health.  From that choice, the other parts of my body began to show their issues.  In two years time I had completed four major surgeries - gallbladder, knee, shoulder, and ending with brain. Additionally, I was diagnosed with Lyme disease in March of 2015.  Brain surgery was perhaps one of the most difficult surgeries for many around me, and yet the easiest for me... I knew when they found the aneurysm it would probably equal a surgery, and instead of fear, for the first time I fully embraced TRUST.  It probably helped that I had been through the other three surgeries, so perhaps they were blessings in disguise.  I just KNEW Heavenly Father was going to take care of me... I knew I was suppose to do the surgery, and I knew God wasn't done with me here on earth.  I knew I was going to be okay.

Some know this story... About 10 minutes before the surgery happened the doctor came in and told me he needed me to sign an extra paper.  My brain was shaped differently than any other brain he had worked on in his 17 (I think that was the number...) years practicing and he wasn't sure how the procedure would react with my brain.  It could mean another surgery, or even more severe issues (like paralyzed limbs) if it went poorly... or everything could be fine.  I signed without a second thought and when asked how it was so easy or didn't I want to think about it, I said I already knew what the right choice was for me.  I had prayed about it and God had been clear... This was the surgery I needed to become the healthiest and happiest me.  Six months later at the post-op check-in, I was cleared of any sign there had been an aneurysm.  I know I am meant to share that story and encourage others to fully trust in their Lord even when scared or unsure as to what will happen.  It's also often a much needed reminder for me....

I wish I could say this was all the tattoo was about, however, there are SO many other things that happened during that year, and some of them I'm not ready to share publicly... some I'm just become brave enough to talk about out loud.  A few weeks after my brain surgery, I had an incident where I was sexually assaulted.  I have a hard time saying rape, and sexual assault feels safer... even though the incident itself wasn't safe.  Weird how our brain thinks the way it does - almost self-preserves and protects you emotionally.  However, sometimes, I believe my brain OVER does this protection...  and I'm just now in life learning the power of letting it out.  I experienced rape, and it was terrifying, traumatic, a little devastating, and demoralizing.  I felt guilty - you'll never understand fully, but you question over and over again if it really IS your fault... and if this means you're a weak person.  After the experience, you question your worth, your independence, your intelligence, your gut... you question EVERYTHING. 

It's awful, and it's really hard to come back from... but completely do-able. It just takes a little emotional and spiritual rebuild.

Each experience of 2015 made me stronger and forced me to rebuild.  I am not the person I was these few short years ago, and though I am grateful for the changes and new strength, I can not deny the happenings in life did indeed burn me and cause need for rebirth.  Thus, the need for my phoenix.

"From the ash I am born again, forever safe in the Savior's hand..."

I feel like through some choices, and some happenings, I was burned.  I was buried in my ash.  I was, indeed, reborn.  THAT is why I choose the phoenix.  It stands as a permanent reminder that I CAN do hard things... that I have the ability to make it thorough anything.

We joke, "If Britney Spears could survive 2007, I can survive anything."  I'm here in all seriousness to say, if I can survive 2015, I can survive and do anything... and so can you.
*muah*

Song of the Day: "Alive" by Hillsong United... singing it in church on the 19th and a little bit of my inspiration for today's post. :)

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Here We Go, 2017... Here We Go.

As 2016 comes to a close, I have recognized how many ways I am blessed and successful.
1 - I am in the best shape of my life so far - I can run harder and for longer than ever before.  I also went the entire year without a surgery!
2 - I have the ability to chase my music dreams and work on my voice every day.  I even wrote songs and performed an original for a live audience - twice!  I also have a job/career currently that I LOVE and am good at doing.
3 - I have an awesome place to myself and am loving living on my own and experiencing "adulthood."
4 - I went to Europe this year and have the ability to travel and see the world, plus see the people I love around the world.
5 - I read some incredible books, wrote some fun songs, created new friendships, and grew as a person.  I really am learning to accept ALL part of myself and love who I am becoming.
6 - I increased my spirituality and embraced what and how I worship and believe in my Savior... and I became okay with believing in my own way.

There was also hardships and lots of learning to be on my own.  I'm understanding how I struggle being alone, and yet need that time in moments.  I've come to embrace it, and know I need to go even further with that skill.  Life changed for the better in so many ways, and yet, has been emotionally hard with those changes.  As the highly emotional individual I am, change is SO good for me, and yet very hard for me.  It's a love/hate relationship...

As I dive into 2017, I have goals and ambitions that I didn't set for the new year, but have already been working on.  I'm just excited to see the change point from where I'm at in the year's time.

1 - I want to be in the best shape of my life- again!  Just further in my goals.  I want a lower body fat percentage and I want to be even more comfortable in my own skin.  I want for of the physical look I desire.  I also want to run faster and play sports with more coordination and quick-thinking skills.
2 - I want to keep improving my voice, and I want to DO something with it.  I want to create an EP album and audition for shows.  I want to use my talent fully and grow in recognition for doing so.  I want to perform all over and increase those opportunities. I want to learn how to market and brand myself as a professional.
3 - I want to go to San Francisco.  Never been, and I want to check it off my list.
4 - I want to grow in my social sphere and meet some other people I can connect with and form new relationships, while I strengthen the old ones. I want to be a better friend by being honest with myself and others.  I want to not put expectations on others and not wait on anyone else to make decisions.
5 - I want all my "wants" to be "WILLS," and they will be. :)

I love the New Year just because it's a visual reset... just remember, every day is that reset.  Every day is a clean start and a new beginning. :)
*muah*

Friday, May 6, 2016

Expectations

Expectations are the death of a happy soul.

I was speaking with a friend the other day about my experience in Prague, and I realized something... I had the MOST amazing time and fell in love with that city for one reason - I had NO expectations about the city and the trip. I arrived solo, taking a night train from Koln to Prague city center, found my hostel and checked out local surroundings for a bit before a friend arrived and hiked around the city with me for a day and a half. We ate amazing food, saw the famous castle and city sights, and even went to a Czeck Musical! After that, I spent another two days just taking in the city and wondering around wherever I wanted to go, ate at random places, and watched a lot of street performers... It was lovely, and made all the better because I had NO expectation of how things "should" go on the trip or what I "should" do with my time. Sure, I had a list of the different sights I wanted to potentially see, list of foods to taste while there... however, there was no expectation of the "perfect trip."

After this chat, I read an article in Entrepreneur.com and it said the following:

"What did Epictetus, the great Stoic philosopher, say way back in the first century AD?
 - 'People are disturbed not by things, but by the views they take of them.' 

What did Shakespeare write in "Hamlet"?
 - 'There's nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.'

How about the Buddha?
 - 'We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.'"

They are all so spot on... WE create our perceptions and therefore, the feelings we are having of frustration about the way an event turned out, or how an individual is acting. We have a view of how things "should" go, and it ruins our ability to live in the moment and be okay with how things really ARE going. 

Expectations rarely give us happiness, and therefore... I'm giving up on expectations. There are some key things I shall request/demand in my life if someone wants to stay in my life, however, expecting someone to acting exactly the way I imagine it in my mind is only going to lead to disappointment when people make a different choice or mess-up. We're all human - we don't handle situations perfectly every time. Therefore, if I allow myself to experience a situation and react accordingly, I feel as though I can live with a lot less disappointment and unfulfilled desires.

When it comes to things in my life coming to fruition, I work hard to make them happen - I don't expect them to happen because I have talent or an opportunity. I will allow myself to be in the moment and feel the genuine emotions of that experience... not what I believe I "should" feel or want to feel. That's putting your happiness in the hands of a specific situation or person... and I want to choose my happiness and let it be genuinely present. And, how much more real is that?! I'm not anticipating an emotional reaction or response - I'm letting it naturally come forth. Healthier and happier approach in my mind...

There's a difference between advocating for high results with jobs, events, friends, dating, etc.... However, I'm digging this idea of letting life be what it is and having zero expectations. I've read "always have hope, though never expect." I can live by that rule. :)

 *muah* 

Song of the Day: Love this song, even if it's over-played to some... and it kinda goes with the topic - "Let It Go" by James Bay, and covered by yours truly. :) Enjoy!

Sidenote:  I'm halfway to 31 today! :)  AND, guess what my fortune said this morning...?  "As soon as you feel too old to do a thing, do it."  DONE.

Friday, January 1, 2016

And So, I Will... My Ode to 2015!

I took some time for self-reflection over this week, approaching the New Year, and realized a few things.  I have a lot of growth left to go in order to achieve my goals.  I have some lofty goals, especially in the areas of fitness and personal/career.  I know what I really want, and it's going to take even more dedication than I have put forward and even greater amounts of work.  That being said, I want to take a moment to recognize I kicked 2015's ass.... I mean, I really brought my own in 2015.  I know that I have SO much more work to do, and I will do it... however, I also want to recognize how far I've come.

During the year 2015, I hit the lowest weight and size I have been since High School.  I do not remember a time I was quite this healthy, in fact.  I have come to recognize that weight isn't everything, and nor is size, but health and fitness mean SO much more.  I do not win some grand prize form being below 200 pounds or being a size 10, but I feel accomplished and driven.  I want to be even further in my goals with fitness - to have the body I really want to have the ability to do certain things without so much strain... and so, I will.  

During 2015, I signed-up for a competitive team sports league... that doesn't start till 2016, but STILL!  That's a huge feat for me... I never believed I would do that again unless it was kickball.  I basically willingly signed-up to go running for an hour straight every Sunday night.  In preparation, I have even been getting up before school at 5:15am to do cardio before work and increase my endurance.  Yea... if you know me at ALL, that's dedication right there... mornings. 

During the year 2015, I grew at lot as a musical artist.  I put a LOT more genuine focus on my YouTube channel and growing in who I want to be as a musical artist.  My voice has improved and gotten back into greater shape.  I made over 40 cover videos and played a handful of live shows.  I sang the national anthem at 9 big events.  I began singing with my worship team at SMCC, and experienced and embraced new kinds of music.  I want to be further with my music goals, and this year I want to release and EP, never miss a #nmm (#newmusicmonday), and play at least one live show a month... and so, I will.

During the year 2015,  Scott Alan picked me as a finalist for his trip to London to sing with him at the Hippodrome.  He named me as his #3 choice and posted my video.  And, although I felt that I wasn't suppose to go for many reasons... I know I am good enough to sing on his stage and many to come.  I want to continue in my dreams with music... and so, I will.  

During the year 2015,  I grew closer to my Savior.  I grew to understand what Christ really is to me as a Savior and comforter... I learned what it meant to put FULL FAITH in my Heavenly Father and trust He had me - that He would guide me.  I began a Bible Study class and have taken to really understanding the New Testament, and how it can help me be a better individual/follower of Christ.  I am STILL working on trusting God in all aspects of my life, but when I struggle, I will always come back to a few moments of 2015 to remind me of His power and my need to trust... 

During the year 2015, I survived brain surgery.  I don't wanna toot my own horn, but that's a pretty bad-ass ice-breaker if I ever heard one before.  The best part, I wasn't even fearful because I sincerely knew that in this instance God had my back... He always does, I simply am still learning to believe that's the case.  I knew what He wanted for me, and knew I had more to give to the world, so I went in with total peace in my heart that whatever happened was His will... and it was.  I am healthier and happier now, and I want to continue to improve my health each day... and so, I will.

During the year 2015, I started to fight Lyme Disease.  It's exhausting.  I put on a strong face a lot in my life - always have and always will - however, I will be brutally honest here for a moment and say that Lyme is draining... fighting Lyme is draining.  I'm tired a lot.  I feel sick a lot.  It makes me struggle to eat or want to eat, and it messes with my weight-loss goals... but I'm gonna defeat it and be the master of my own body.  I recently read a book about how to eat specifically to aid in fighting Lyme - and got rid of a chunk of my food.  I want to learn how to live with Lyme and still function at optimal capacity... and so, I will.  

During 2015, I directed an amazing musical.  
During 2015, I ran SoF with gnarly food-posioning.  
During 2015, I learned to stand up for myself.
During 2015, I showed friends how to lift weights, when two years ago, I had no idea.
During 2015, I had moments of weakness and moments of strength.
During 2015, I overcame unimaginable moments of self-defeat. 
During 2015, I formed more of who I truly am as a human being and child of God.  
During 2015, I tasted success, ran from it, tasted it again, and am learning how to embrace it. 
During 2015, I effed up... and I figured it out.

During the year 2015, I grew a lot.  This was a year of developing and deciding for myself who I really want to be.  We all make statements about what we're going to do, and I've been doing this for awhile now.  I may still be figuring out all the puzzle pieces, but hey... actions do speak louder than words.  I want to be SO much greater in all areas of my life than I am currently in... and so, I will.
*muah*

Song of the Day: The cover that got me recognized by Scott Alan, even more so than his own song I covered, was "How Will I Know," Sam Smith's version of Whitney's classic.  The nicest part, is I just sang it on a whim... completely what I wanted in the moment.  THAT is my goal for 2016 - to sing whatever the hell I want whenever I want to sing it... Here's a little sneak peak of my first cover for #newmusicmonday in 2016, which I covered that evening simply because it felt like the right thing to sing right then - Justin Bieber's "Love Yourself..."  Enjoy and check out the full video on Monday! :)
video

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Realizations of Me

Things I have learned about myself as of late...

1) I am fairly patient with others, and not at all patient with myself.  Why are we often more cruel to ourselves than to others?  Honestly, I think I have spent so much time in the past few years beating myself up with negative, internal comments or thoughts, and I've finally learned how detrimental that can be to my progression.  I have learned the power in positive thinking and positive self-speak.  When I am helping someone else with a project or self-improvement, I recognize it's a journey and encourage them to be kind to themselves and show patience... However, with myself I have a tendency to demand insta-results... It's unfair to my mindset.  I'm letting go of the impatience I have with myself in all areas of my progression- my fitness journey, my music, my emotional understanding of myself, etc... I deserve the kindness with myself that I give to others, and, "Life ain't a track meet, it's a marathon."

2) I have trouble slowing down.  I walk fast - I drive fast - I move fast.. and I struggle to slow down and just move at a "normal" pace.  A few of my friends have commented about this over the past few years, but I realized this more so at the amusement park this past month.  I was almost always walking way ahead of my family and a few times conscientiously made an effort to slow down... It was rough.  Haha!  I'm not gonna say I couldn't do it, because I could... but my feet and heart just pulled me forward and kept my hustling and moving quickly.  I like to move quickly... and then take a moment and stop to catch the sunset or amazing moment.  In fact, one night in Florida, my brother, Cami, and I went to the park alone and on the way walking there, I just stopped and moved off the path... There was an Opera singer across the little river singing and sun was setting in the sky.  I said, "let's just stop a moment..." and we just listened and looked - stopped the world down for a second.  I don't mind stopping - not at all - I just mind that when there's movement, I don't seem to wanna move slowly... My goal?  Take a walk in nature every day, even if only for 5-10 minutes, and just let the moments get lost... embrace slowing down for a few. 

3) I don't fear a lot anymore, genuinely I have given the majority of my fear away... the one exception is I still fear wasting time, which I admittedly believe comes back to age.  This is interesting in that I have found little "time wasters" in my life and struggled to give them up at times.  However, overall, I have this fear of giving my time to things that may or may not turn out how I see them.  That being said, I had the realization that I am so grateful many things HAVEN'T turned out as I planned... It's all about trusting that the man upstairs truly knows what is best and trusting YOU in your decisions to go after the things you want in life.  If you want something, go for it... He'll stop you if it's wrong.  I know this, but I think I recently needed some reminders.  My plan is to cease thinking in terms of age- age really is going to be "just a number, after all - but really.

4) I am a strong woman.  I like to be tough.  I am also a marshmallow.  I've always said I'm "not a crier," and I'm not a crier in certain aspects.  I don't often cry over death.  I don't often cry over pain.  However, I cry during Pixar movies.  I cry when a song is so beautiful it speaks to what I'm going through or feeling.  I cry when I am really, really hurt or sad emotionally.  I cry when I feel a spiritual awakening moment.  It use to make me feel ashamed because I saw it as weak... I'm beginning to see it as a strength.  This does not mean I'm about to open the floodgates so everyone can watch me weep... but I'm going to embrace the beauty of tears when I need them and of just being an emotionally driven individual in general.

*muah*

Song of the Day: I'm currently obsessed with this Ed Sheeran and Tori Kelly's song, "I Was Made For Loving You."  It's a beautiful song and I had a blast covering it this past week... check out my version here and then look up the original. Great song - enjoy!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Things That I KNOW.

I know my Savior lives.  I know He lives and that He undoubtably loves me NO MATTER WHAT... He is in my corner.

I know my Father in Heaven wants me to succeed, and will guide me through all things in my life if I let Him - if I listen.  I have faith that He will lead me through my trails and keep me safe and protected if I merely give over my trust and faith to Him.  I have had trouble doing this in my life - REALLY trusting the Lord and not trying to control every aspect of my life.  These past few months, with everything that has happened in my life, I have HAD to give over a lot more control... It was HARD.  It IS hard sometimes... but once I do it, life is SO much more simple...

I know the Lord is there to catch me when I fall.  I know my Heavenly Father has sent a Savior to redeem me and even the playing field... through Him, I can do ALL things.  I can overcome all the proverbial and legitimate bull that life throws my way.  I CAN do hard things...

I've been doing morning meditation for the past six months, and let me tell you that one mantra I've been using is, "I am strong.  I am independent.  I am free.  I can do hard things."  It is through my Savior I have come to actually believe these morning statements.  I AM strong.  I AM independent.  I AM free.  I CAN do hard things..... because of HIM.

"What is impossible with men, is possible with God..." - Luke 18:27 --> My favorite.

Truth.  That is what this statement is - complete truth.

Another thought of truth - "A grateful heart is a magnet for miracles."  I could use s few of those- we all could... and so I'm taking the time to say THANK YOU to the man that matters most - the man that makes it all happen.  ALL things are possible with God...
*muah*

Song of the Day:  I have so many current song obsessions - choosing one is rough.  It must be done, however, so.... here's a girly anthem for summer that will drive most men nuts.  It's one of my current running and slow-drive jams!  Here is G.RL. with "Ugly Heart."  LOVE - Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Half a Year.

Six months from today, I will be 30 years-old.  That's right - 30.

That's a third of 90.  That's half of 60.  Need me to do more math, because I can...

Point is, I have 6 months to do some epic shiz in attempt to make this the most epic birthday year ever because of the person I will be at that 30 year mark.  I've already made some incredibly big and poignant changes in the past two years, but things have gotten tighten up.  To quote a million rappers and famous athletes, "It's about to get real..."

Not because it wasn't real before, but because it's time for a higher level.  I'm not even gonna say, once the aneurysm is gone I'll get going... I'm starting TODAY.  Just watch the next six months play out... I'm ready for big things.

It's documented.  I'm accountable.

That is all.
*muah*

Song of the Day:  I discovered this girl the other evening - well, I think I had heard her before, but I finally listened to her whole CD - and I adore her.  I adore her sound, songs, and style... Here is Banks with "Beggin For Thread."  Enjoy!