Permission to be Happy.

It’s 8:25pm on a Saturday in Singapore.
I’m typing away at The Port by Quarters, a hostel on the river in Boat Quay.

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So, I’ve been thinking..

This is the 6th or 7th time that I’ve been to Singapore. To be honest, on the flight here, I found myself wondering why I’m off traveling again when there’s so much that I want to accomplish in Seattle with Music. I’ve been questioning myself. Rightfully so. I have the poor habit of thinking about all of the things that I want to be doing/achieving/working toward that I often neglect the moment at hand..

Today, I slept in. 10am. This is a big deal when you’re traveling. Usually, you’re up early to go site seeing or head to the next city.

Today, I went to the gym. This is a big deal when you’re traveling. Usually, there’s so much to go do and people inviting you on a day trip or urging you to come grab lunch.

Today, I went for a run, ate dinner by myself, played ukelele in a music shop, and just watched a terrible romcom on my laptop. And I feel really great about it all.

IMG_0558.jpg(the little things in Life.. like knowing your mom’s dog loves you)

You know that “high” that runners always talk about? Yeah.. I never get those. Still don’t. However, I did have a moment today about 10 minutes in where I felt myself really missing my friends and family and Life back in the United States. I started questioning what I was doing and worrying about all that I still want to accomplish.. and then something incredible happened:

I decided to stop feeling that way.

And I did. And I felt really happy.
And it was as surprising as it was relieving.

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(after a day of paddle boarding at Sai Kung Beach in Hong Kong)

It reminded me of an important lesson that I have the tendency to forget: It’s okay to be Happy. I gave myself permission to be Happy. Shifting the focus from what I wasn’t doing allowed me to appreciate what I was doing. I was proud of myself! While traveling, I took the time to just do normal things like fitness and rest. Not every day has to be a Life Changing adventure.. In fact, it can’t. It is unfair to place such high expectations on myself and whatever skewed belief I have about what Travel should look like.

There’s such a difference between anticipating the outcome of what I’ve been working on and expecting certain outcomes for what I’ve been working on. It’s like that movie in theaters that everybodyyy tells you you’re supposed to love, and then you’re let down when you finally see it. Too high of expectations. The same is true of ourselves. Expectations are unfair to our Appreciation. (Not that you shouldn’t have standards and love yourself: like this Letter I wrote to myself)

I guess my point to all of this…
It’s okay to be Happy. Give yourself permission to be Happy.

IMG_8571_2(like being invited to a fake tea party by your niece)

I don’t think that I’m alone when it comes to carrying guilt. Sometimes I feel guilty for not getting my workout in for the day. Other times I feel guilty for not practicing enough with Music. On more serious notes, I feel really guilty for not being able to be there for friends and family when I’m off on whatever adventures I may be pursuing.. I feel guilty for not making the most of the little moments and trying to do too much in the big moments. However, whatever guilt that I’m carrying does not need to define who I am as a person.

I am more than the things I’m not doing.
And just like that moment today on that run when I chose to let go of that feeling of guilt. Even if it’s only for that moment, I feel powerful knowing that I can do that. (And just as powerful getting back and being productive.)

As always, I’m a work in Progress. A Proud Work in Progress.
And I give myself permission to be Happy about it.

Be Happy, Friends.
You have permission.

That Distinct Feeling of a Plane Taking Off

It’s 1:33pm on a Wednesday, and I am riding in a Safari van after an overnight stay at Amboseli National Park (next to Tanzania).

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It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a blog entry. It’s crazy to me since so much has happened over the past several months. As I glean over countless blog entry beginnings with no conclusion, I’m amused at how much these incomplete blog posts parallel my incomplete thoughts and my “still in progress” way of Life.

11:53pm on a Tuesday at a Publishing Office on the 36th Floor facing the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur.
6:08pm on a Friday evening flying from Seattle to San Francisco for a casino gig.
10:12am on a Monday morning at my layover in Amsterdam to Nairobi..
and another morning in Thailand, or an evening in San Diego.. sometimes, I’m out working on an education program; others, I’m in a West Coast town for Music.. but mainly, they all begin on a flight somewhere and never get finished.

I frequently stream of thought type on flights, which I’m sure looks totally crazy, because I just turn my brightness all the way down and just type and type and type to the blank screen.. As I’ve been reading back over these notes, most are just incoherent rambling and mental garbage, but there has been a consistent theme throughout that parallels with this recent Life of Flights and Travel.

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If you’ve ever flown on a plane, there are a number of memorable sensations that happen throughout the process of flight. I’ve watched countless terrified faces as the plane bounces during a sketchy landing, experiences bumpy turbulence, or when the walls begin to shake for the first time. I am constantly reminded by these reactions, how much I’ve gotten used to these as a Frequent Flyer. Regardless, there is one particular moment during takeoff that always captures my attention and has continued to show up in stream of thought writing sessions..

When the plane has reached enough speed on the ground to begin flying, right as the aircraft becomes airborne, all of the weight shifts and it feels like someone has just turned up the gravity. This heavy feeling presses me back into my seat, and I am conscious of the fact that my ride is taking off. However, despite leaving the ground, my body feels like it’s being weighed down. For years, this familiar feeling of being weighted down has often distracted me from what is to come next.

In order to Fly, we must first be Grounded.

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It’s been a few months shy of a year since I officially “moved out” of San Diego (or at least, stopped paying rent). At the time, I was trying to create a more permanent living situation to ground myself in. Since then, I’ve passed through nearly a dozen countries and several cities that I have temporarily called Home. It feels like my feet haven’t touched the ground. I went from setting down roots to aimlessly branching out wherever I could find sunlight.

The problem with chasing the sun is that sometimes it’s overcast. And there are plenty of days to remind you of this fact when you’re living in Seattle, WA. Moving there has reminded me how lazy I can be. Online streaming and playing guitar in your pajamas all day? #thestruggleisreal and something about dreary weather makes it so easy to have a rest day.. that turns into a rest week.. that turns into rest month.. and like the flights I so frequently find myself on, my Life feels like I’m just floating.

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I’ve been putting off writing about this.. hoping that I could find the perfect quote about happiness or anecdote about travel that would so gracefully package my Life. I’m an educator. I’m a performer. I am constantly crafting lyrics of reflection and writing curriculum on self-development, yet here I am.. unable to put it together.

S c a t t e r e d.
I’ve been having a hard time sleeping. Playing lots of music by myself. Starting projects and not finishing them. Daydreaming, a lot. Feeling uncertain. Streaming TV. Going out with friends. Spending too much money. Playing guitar. Doubting myself. Facebooking. Traveling. Thinking about traveling. Running away. Running toward. Releasing new music. Planning. Constantly planning. Writing. Never posting. Missing old friends. Trying to keep up with old friends. Trying to make new friends. Trying to stay focused. Apparently, just a lot of trying. Rainier. Summer plans. Missed flight. Countries to visit. Business idea. Laundry. Write. Work on your blog. Italy or Tennessee. You need to make more money. Lyrics. Growing old. Debt debt, grow up. Practice singing. The Walking Dead. Meet people. Develop curriculum. What is Happiness? Facial hair. Ginger Ale. Hungry. Searching. Hoping. Moving. Trying to move forward. Trying to understand:

 Life is a gift that doesn’t always come in perfect packages.

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As I unpack and pack these thoughts back together, the inevitable weight builds on my mind and in my chest. At home, I keep a giant dry erase board to try to keep my thoughts together and my tasks on track, but this visual often feels just as overwhelming as the thoughts it brings up.

And the weight piles.
For all of us.

Sometimes it’s relationships, jobs, or money. Other times it’s a situation we’ve been put in (or put ourselves in). For me, I’m old enough and self-aware enough to know that my situation is a direct result of the choices that I have made:

  • I have chosen to forego traditional work life to continue pursuing Music.
  • I have chosen to not take relationships seriously in order to selfishly pursue what is important to me.
  • I have chosen to systematically move away from places where I feel comfortable within a community in order to not become too complacent.
  • I continue to choose travel and new experiences over developing the foundation that I could be building on by staying in one place

..and so on.

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These choices (along with many others) are the driving force pushing my Life forward and pressing me back into my seat. That feeling of weight will always accompany the act of taking off. In the Past, I would have felt like all of this weight was holding me down. And I suppose, up until writing all of this out, the scattered part of me still felt that way.

 Life feels much more exciting choosing to feel like I’m about to Takeoff.

Don’t be Afraid of the Weight, Friends.
It’s just the Distinct Feeling of a Plane Taking off.

2014 – Year of Settling, Travel, and Reflection

It’s 10:04am on a Tuesday (Bangkok time). I’m sitting on the plane and my mind is racing as I reflect on the past few days.. weeks.. months.. year. Originally, I was going to compile all of my Asia travel notes to do a catch-up post from the past month abroad, but my friend Raelee got me thinking about the changes over the past year. So, here I am, with my calendar app open, looking at all the changes and reflecting on the Past. Wow. What a year.

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I can’t believe I’m still surprised at how much Life can change in a year.. People, Plans, Perspective. The journey keeps going and we keep growing.

The first half of the year, I spent most of my time with my live-in girlfriend. I remember feeling like I was supporting her endeavors as we woke up early on a January morning to do a beach photo shoot for her to get more Bar Industry work in Vegas.. I remember being ready to settle down and travel less and focus on establishing roots.. how things can change in 6 months.

The second half of the year, I’ve spent almost all of my time working education programs and/or traveling. I’ve played less gigs/shows this year than normal.. only around 85. In place of those gigs, I’ve been able to check out the music scene in Las Vegas and the Pacific Northwest each for a couple weeks, backpack and explore 5 European countries with my best friend, travel and/or work in 4 different Asian countries, and nearly complete my first full band release in years. Lots to reflect upon, and I’m happy that most importantly, this has been a year of learning and reflection.

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What I’ve Learned:

Plans and People Change. Always. Sometimes I think we get so focused on our plans or our own perspective that we don’t even notice the changes happening.. but they do. Whether the changes are voluntary or circumstantial, they are happening. It’s neither good nor bad, it just is what it is. I think how we react to change is often more defining than the change itself. At the beginning of this year, I was certain that the gf and I would be living in our own place in San Diego, establishing a business and building a home. As times have changed, I’ve now traveled more in the last 4 months than I have my entire Life.. and that was the right decision for me.

Smiles are Universal. I cannot stress how much smiling has generally served me in Life. Especially this year.. when traveling, sometimes a Smile is the only way I know how to communicate with other people. And when Life isn’t going the way that I had planned (see above), it’s amazing how much forcing a smile and focusing on the positive can really move Life forward.

I’m Happiest when I’m being Honest (with Myself). Especially when I’m in a relationship, I spend so much time trying to make others happy, that I neglect my own happiness. I think this is normal behavior from people, but it doesn’t serve either party. For me, neglecting things like Music only makes me feel more and more guilty and unfulfilled.. Not to mention, that some things just don’t work, no matter how hard you try to force them (haha, like relationships). With that said:

Resentment is Resilient. If you have unresolved resentment for anyone/anything, it will show back up again. Usually when it is the most detrimental to a healthy relationship. I’ve been surprised at how/when this negativity rears its ugly head and how much it affects my ability to make clear decisions. Emotions can be powerful deterrents to progress if not kept in check.

I’m a Mess and I think I’m Okay with it. When I was in a relationship sharing space and struggles, I felt ashamed for not having all the answers. Now, I appreciate the times where I feel Lost. In a world of GPS, it is okay to deviate from the path and find your own way. (Insert Robert Frost quote here) I’m getting used to not always feeling grounded. Life is a Puzzle and nobody has the answer key.

Nothing is Normal. Experiences are unique. People are weird. Life is relevant. At the beginning of this year, I had expectations for my relationships and my plans.. Now, I’m learning to better Accept People for who they are and the decisions that they make. It’s no longer “good” and “bad”. Their challenges and decisions are entirely their own. I don’t have permission to not accept someone even if I don’t like something about them. In the past, I thought I was being inspirational and encouraging, but maybe I was unintentionally trying to form people into the idea that I thought was best for them. It’s not my place to “fix” people.

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There are Pretty Girls Everywhere. For real. Earlier this year, I didn’t think I would ever find a girl prettier than the one I was with. And when you’re in Love, that’s a great perspective to have. Now that I’ve been traveling with a single mindset, there are beautiful girls all over the World (sang in your best Bruno Mars impression). I believe there is someone out there for Everyone are multiple people in the World that would be great for me. Sometimes it doesn’t work out because of timing, close-mindedness, circumstance, not being ready, or whatever other reasons.. And it’s crazy to me how influential these multiple connections are in our Lives. As much as every heartbreak sucks, I think I now appreciate them all. My hope is, when I meet the who is right for me, that I’ll be right for her.. and that based on all of these experiences, I’ll be ready for her and Us.

My Biggest Envy is Perceived Normalcy. Social media is a real pain in the ass, because we constantly get to see a version of what everyone else looks like.. their projected image via news feeds and posts. And I can’t help but be jealous of the happy families, little babies, career moves, new houses, and other successes. Part of me wishes I could follow that path, but I also know that it is a two-way window when people message me about rock climbing in Thailand or going to Belgian Breweries in Brussels. So, my learning is appreciating and encouraging each person’s journey and remember that mine is purely mine. Not right or wrong, just is what it is.

There is Risk with Cool Shit. haha. As in, everything worth achieving or going for has some sort of inherent risk associated with it. For me, I recently lost my GoPro while cliff jumping in Krabi, Thailand. And it was really devastating as I imagined all of those video memories floating to the bottom of the ocean.. It was a real bummer but taught me two valuable lessons:

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Experiences are Individual. It’s no secret that I’m addicted to social media.. and I’m not the only one. Many of us get caught up in the validation we get from likes and comments, that we forget that our person experiences are for us. My experiences are for Me. It doesn’t matter what others think, because Others don’t change how defining the moments are for Me.

Don’t Get too caught up on the Losses. If we only focus on what we lose, we never gain anything. The struggle is real. Haha, and valuable. Loss provides more learning than anything I’ve ever gained. Not to downplay what we’ve all achieved, but the journey to get there.. the losses along the way, are what provide the real feedback necessary to grow.

The Power of Choice Defines Us. I choose who I’m going to be in every situation and this makes a huge difference on the result/outcome. Multiple times traveling, I’m having to choose between stepping out into the unknown in search for new experiences or taking the time to catch up on rest (which is alwayyyys lacking) or play on social media. The choice to get the most out of each situation is the reason I’ve met so many new, amazing people.. get a traditional bamboo tattoo at a Buddhist temple.. find Love (people/places/experiences) all over the World.. and through the Power of Choice, I’ve learned to accept myself more. And I suppose that truly accepting yourself is the underlying truth amidst all of our relationships, achievements, plans, and discovery. So, I guess that’s my biggest learning for the year:

What Happiness Looks Like. And I’ve gotta be honest, I’m not always happy. That’s a silly assumption. However, I am learning how to better focus on what makes me Happy and not just on the behaviors that may lead to being Happy. For instance, I love going out with friends.. but what makes me happy is spending genuine, quality time with Friends, not just the act of drinking. I hate sleeping alone and love spending the night with girls, but I’m not conquest driven or super hook-up oriented (like many people are; more power to them for recognizing that). I’ve learned that I love making real connections with people.. (and enjoy attention/affection) which is another mixed-signals challenge within itself, but at least now I’m able to focus on the authentic result and less on the messy ambiguity I have previously placed myself in.

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So wherever you are in your own journey, I wish you the best of luck. Mine feels as out of control as ever, but I think I’m learning how to make the best of it. Thank you for reading my rambling, and I hope that somewhere amongst the chaos of my thoughts, it helps you find clarity in yours.

Happy New Year, Friends!

Sleepless in Seattle.. in my Jeep

It’s 9:04am on a Friday.
I accidentally slept in longer than I planned.
I should have moved my Jeep by 8am,
and it would have been annoying to get a ticket while sleeping in the vehicle.

I’ve been visiting Seattle for a little over a week now.
I’m exploring this new city and its music scene.
And since I kinda left without telling people, I suppose I should explain..

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It’s been over 2 weeks since I’ve last posted. I apologize.
I’m gonna take a quick break on So, You Wanna Go to Europe series to give my Life update.

Let’s start with my excuses:

  1. I’ve been busy moving out of and leaving San Diego
  2. I’ve been busy driving up the coast seeing friends
  3. I’ve been busy finishing recording/mixing of the #HappyHeartbreak tracks
  4. I’ve been busy playing at Graton Casino in the Bay Area with Bosen & Suede
  5. I’ve been busy planning for the Education Work and trip to SE Asia coming up
  6. I’ve been busy questioning my Life and the decisions I’ve been making
  7. I’ve been busy driving around homeless and not as on top of posting
  8. I’ve been busy procrastinating posting because it feels overwhelming expressing in the way I’d like

So again, sorry for taking so much time. My mind has been a bit all over the place. So in an effort to catch you up and process this adventure of mine, here are the updates:

I’ve moved out of San Diego.

Man, do I love that city. It’s such an amazing place and a vacation destination. I recommend everyone go visit and enjoy yourself. For some, it’s a great place to live and explore what you’re capable of accomplishing when surrounded by a relatively stress-free environment and eternal sunshine. I am proud of what I’ve achieved while in San Diego. I cherish the friends that I’ve made while there. And the Life experience, as always, is invaluable. However, I’ve been having this nagging feeling for some time now that I need to find a community where I feel more at home and less on vacation. I love SD similar to how I loved college.. such an amazing experience, and now it’s time for me to move on. My biggest fear (and what was beginning to feel inevitable) is that one morning I would wake up in my late 30’s and wonder what had happened to the time.. and why I hadn’t accomplished more that I had set out to do.

I think I just needed a Change.

“The journey of change doesn’t begin when you intend, it begins when you move.” – Steve Maraboli

I decided to drive up the coast.

I was leaning toward Denver as a potential place to move.. I considered Austin, Chicago, San Francisco, Portland, etc. I knew that I wanted to stay fairly close to San Francisco (cheap flights) because I have an ongoing contract at a casino there each month. I knew that I wanted a city that has a music scene. Less than a year ago, I spent a weekend in Seattle playing a couple gigs with Bosen, and I remember being really charmed by the artsy vibe of the city.. everyone always brings up how rainy it is (and it’s really rainy), but after living several years in San Diego, I feel less influenced by weather as a motivator (or demotivator) in my Life. As always, it’s up to me to be productive. So, I had about a week and a half between casino gigs open to explore. I drove up to Seattle, and I’ve been here for the past 10 days.

I’ve never felt so uncertain and outside of my Comfort Zone.

For real. I’m totally alone. I specifically chose a place where I don’t know anybody. I feel like I’m challenging myself and testing this idea of being a “struggling Artist” (probably to a flaw). Even when I was backpacking Europe, I still had one of my best friends every step of the way.. this time, I’m on my own. And it’s scary to think that I have to entirely start over.. with gaining respect in a new music community, making new friends, acclimating to a new community, finding a place to live, seeing if I’m able to support myself financially, and testing this daily internal struggle with self-doubt. At times, it feels like such a fun challenge going into places and forcing myself to network and meet new people.. and it’s always so refreshing when my feigned attention turns to genuine smiles as I make real connections with people (something I’ve been working on). I’m beginning to feel like this “struggle” is what I need to move forward. With that said..

I’ve been sleeping in my Jeep.

And it’s surprisingly not been that bad. I have the seats down and the vehicle is full of clothes, a full PA, my guitar, suitcase and backpacks, and fortunately, blankets and pillows. When I first lay down, I can’t help but feel overcome by the “what the hell am I doing with my Life” feeling. But once I wake up, for a moment, I forget that I’m in the Jeep and only remember that I’m on a new adventure. This thought is quickly followed by:

“This isn’t thaaat bad. If this is the worst case scenario, then Life ain’t all that bad. I can do this.”

I’ve also been sleeping on couches. Several times, I’ve slept on the couch of an amazing Couch Surfer (if you’re familiar with www.couchsurfing.org) friend whom has been an incredibly generous person with her place, talents, and connections. Other times, I’ve pretended like I’m on tour and just stayed awake and chatted with people at music events until the end of the night to see if something pans out.. I’ve met some really amazing people this way, and these moments of accepting the idea that I may be sleeping in my car and this somewhat desperate desire to find a place to crash has lead to some interesting, comfort zone expanding moments. I can’t wait to have my own place to return to the favor soon!

I need to travel, but I need a home base.

I’m realizing this about myself. It is frightening how off balance you feel when you don’t have a place to call your own. Even homeless people tend to have spaces that they consistently return to. For myself, I recognize how fortunate I am to be able to travel and meet people and be open to experiences.. but I am most definitely less confident, more unsure of myself, and struggling with my own self worth during these times. I recognize these are all just thoughts in my mind, and that I can choose to feel differently. However, I also recognize that I’ve learned this about myself.. I am a better friend, more productive, and more giving when I have my foundation securely in place. I’m excited to have that once again. Soon.

I’m having a hard time letting go.

As much as I know that I’m trying to do my best to move forward, I can’t seem to shake this feeling that I’m just running away. Maybe I’m running away from my problems. Maybe I’m only leaving to avoid ever having to interact with my ex again. Maybe I’m leaving because I don’t have what it takes to make it in San Diego. Maybe I’m leaving because many of my friends moved out of San Diego. Maybe I’m leaving because the pressure of the California Dream is too much. Maybe I’m leaving because I have a short attention span. Maybe I’m leaving because I think it’ll be easier to take this new path..

I don’t know the answer. I know that I still think about my ex every day. Every. Single. Day. And I hate that about myself. Deep down, I still hold onto this ridiculous thought that she’s going to come around and realize how great I really was.. realize how great I am. And it’s so foolish, because it implies that I have the answers, and that we could actually work out.. if you’ve read anything I’ve written before (like The Challenge with Break-ups in a Hyper Connected World), you already know that we’re not right for each other. So why do I hold on? Some moments of strength are better than others, but it’s obviously something I’m still working on. I’m working on myself. I’m working on my dreams. I’m working on moving forward.

“Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.” – Hermann Hesse

Finally, here are my plans for the near future:

Next week I go back to the Bay Area to play some gigs. From there, I fly to China to visit a friend in Shanghai and check out Hong Kong. Next, I fly to Singapore/Malaysia where I’ll be running academic camps for the education company for a month. Then, I’ll spend the next week traveling around Thailand trying to find new experiences to help me figure this crazy Life out. I fly back to San Francisco to play gigs for the week (and Eve) of the New Year. And then finally, it’ll be time to face my Life decisions and strap in to the Seattle adventure.

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2015: Year of New Beginnings

I gotta be honest.. I’m not as sure of myself on this one as I normally have been in the Past. And that terrifies me. Also, it reminds me that I’m pushing myself and taking a chance. This very well may be a huge mistake, but at least I’m willing to boldly make this mistake. I’ve got high hopes and big dreams, and I’m hoping to come out the other side of this one closer to being my Best Self. And as always, I’ll let you know how it’s going in the process!

Take Risks, Friends.
No one can take them for you.

Belgium Bus Ride and a Letter to Myself

(Grand Place: Brussels, Belgium)
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     It was around 11:00am on a bus from London to Brussels. We had missed our 8am bus to Bruges and the reality of this adventure was first settling in. Heading to Belgium was a turning point in the trip, because it was the first place where we didn’t know anybody or anything about where we were going. Since we missed the bus to Bruges, we had to forego the plans we had for the evening with a couch surfer friend and the hostel we had already booked. Now that we were on our way to Brussels instead, this Eurotrip felt real.

     On the fringe of my comfort zone is where I do the best reflecting. As I’m forced to face the feelings of the moment, I’m able to clearly see the parallels with familiar feelings from the Past. There’s a certain level of discomfort that goes with not knowing what’s going to happen next.. and I now see how I’ve held this same discomfort in my relationships. It’s funny how easily I could switch my mindset from Bruges to Brussels, but how stubborn I’ve been in the Past when I relationship goes in a direction I wasn’t expecting. I’ve learned to acknowledge my own faults and recognize when I’m using someone else’s faults to hide my own. Now that I’m able to focus on when I’m projecting versus communicating, I’ve become really hard on myself and my Past decisions. I’ve been too willing to accept all of the blame for the failures in my relationships. But a relationship involves two people. And these relationships are in the Past. The reality is this.. I cannot change my Past. All I can do is take what I’ve learned to move forward. So in an effort to bridge to Past to who I want to be.. I’ve decided to write a letter for my Present Self.


Dear Self,

I accept you. It’s okay that you weren’t perfect in every moment. It’s okay that you made mistakes. It’s okay that you didn’t know then what you know now, because this is how Life Lessons are learned. You are strong. You are confident. You are going to accomplish Great things. Stay focused on what is important and embrace everything that you have to offer.. even when it feels like it isn’t enough. It is enough. You are enough. Remember that it’s okay to have doubts, but that these doubts do not define you or make decisions for you. You are in control of your future. Allow yourself to be Happy. Let go of the Past that you’re holding onto that isn’t allowing you to move forward. I forgive you.

Sincerely,
Work in Progress.


 

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     I’ve gotten so used to the accusatory texts from my ex-gf that state how everything wrong in our relationship was entirely my fault.. but that’s not fair. At some point, I need to remember that it takes two people to be together. Both have a responsibility, and there’s a lot to be said for the reality that sometimes those two people just don’t belong together. Regardless of how bad one or each of them want it to work, there are circumstances that just don’t work. Love is a real bitch like that sometimes. We need to be self-aware enough to recognize when something just isn’t working and strong enough to make the right decision. The allure of what is comfortable, what is there, and what you’ve already worked so hard for can be very tempting.. but once you know that it isn’t right, you are only sparing your heart (and theirs) by having the strength to wish them well and move on. I suck at this. I have such a fear of being alone and dying alone and wondering if I’ll ever find somebody else who will accept me for who I am. I’ve worked so hard to be more accepting of the people around me.. who they are, their strengths and faults, but what’s the use in being accepting if I’m still learning to Accept Myself.

I’ll never find True Love if I don’t truly Love my Self. Just as I do in others, I need to accept my overconfident ego-driven facade, as well as truly love the genuine depths of my flaws, worries, disappointments, and unfulfilled dreams. In this, there is true strength.

The Strength in Self-Acceptance..
Be Strong, Friends.

Oh. My. Godly Woman: Change

For our Backpacking Trip to Europe, @BrianBosen and I decided to bring our acoustic travel guitars (the ones we don’t care about as much). For anyone who has backpacked before, you know that the name of the game is always how LITE and COMPACT can you pack all of your stuff. So, the guitars were an interesting choice. We debated over the pros and cons of traveling with guitars, but ended up choosing to carry them around with us. The thought process went as follows:

“Man, carrying guitars everywhere is gonna be really annoying. Though, we’re musicians.. we’re probably going to wish that we had them to play. Then again, they’re probably going to just get in the way or get stolen. But take such a surreal experience like Europe and not have a way to channel it would be a shame.. Man, carrying guitars everywhere is gonna be really annoying.”

And it was really annoying. And we did it anyway. And a part of me really hoped that we would busk on the streets of every European city and people would stop and listen and cheer and be amazed and throw money and our entire trip would be paaaaaaid for!!!! Haha, I was so wrong. I’ll explain it all in another post called, “Why I’m Bad at Busking.” But what did happen is exactly what happens with musicians.. a chance to process, connect, and create. So with the help of my talented friend, I finally finished a song I had been working on called, “Godly Woman.” The lyrics and song are below:

Oh, My Godly Woman always taking a stand.
Keep on preachin your words of wisdom and reaching out with open hands.
Oh, My Godly Woman, what are you doing here with me?
Keep on singing sweet sounds of saving, but please don’t waste your prayers on me.

Oh, I’ve been trying to be a Better Man so when you stray from the path, I can catch you.
I hope you’ll understand:

I’m not a Godly Man, but I’m doin the Best that I can.
I’ve never Saved a Soul with Rock n Roll, but that don’t stop me from singing.

Oh my Godly Woman, where have you been?
I keep on falling in Love with that Woman. When will you be her again?

Oh, I was trying to be a better Man, so when you’d stray from the path I could catch you.
I had hoped you’d understand:

I’m not a Godly Man, but I’m doin the Best that I can.
I’ve never Saved a Soul with Rock n Roll, but that don’t stop me from singing.

Oh, I’m singing like it’ll Save My Soul. Oh Lord, this is All I know..
Oh, I’m singing like it’ll Save My Soul. Oh Lord, this is All I know..

I’m not a Godly Man, but I’m doin the Best that I can.
I’ve never Saved a Soul with Rock n Roll, but that don’t stop me from singing.

I feel like the song is pretty self-explanatory and I’m curious to what came up for all of you, so please feel free to comment or message me your thoughts! My thought process around when I was finishing the song was all about Change and how People Change.

People change. It’s not necessarily good or bad, it just is. Various Life experiences can change the way a person will make decisions in the future. A particular conversation can change the way a person communicates about that topic. A break-up can change the way a person manages emotion in a relationship. An eye-opening experience like travel, new job, or any other significant moment, can drastically affect how a person views each situation. With all of these factors, people are constantly being externally approached with the potential to change (or not change). And each one of us is an external factor in someone(s) else’s Life.

Whether we mean to or not, we affect and Change the People around us.

We are powerful forces of impact for those we come in contact with. The sad truth is sometimes we change people in ways that don’t appeal to us. Maybe there is an aspect of us that acts like a polarized magnet and pushes another person in a different direction. (When someone is harshly confronting me and I care about the relationship, my first reaction is to remain very calm and quiet, which appears as shutting down.. in previous relationships, that caused her to oppositely get more fired up and more easily agitated anytime I was quiet.. Woo. Go me.) Maybe there is an aspect of us that is desirable but a person only focuses on a small part of that idea. (I had a horrible roommate who was kind of a dick and he gathered from me to be more confident.. and so he just became a more aggressive, confident dick. Woo. Go me.) At the end of the day, it is each person’s choice how and when they want to change. It’s not up to us, even if we feel that it is our “fault” that someone has changed. We cannot control other people.

People change. What matters is less about the change, and more about how we react to that change.

We can only control ourselves. People change. We change. Situations change. Relationships change. And we can spend all of our time and energy trying to control the changes in people around us.. or even try to change people to be what we think is best, but in the end, each person has a choice about how and when they want to change. I can only control myself.

That’s why I’m singing like it’ll Save my Soul.. because this is all I Know.

and it really is. If you’ve read anything else I’ve written, I am continually learning and reflecting and trying to change for the better.. And so far, Living and working with Music helps my brain sort it all out. In many areas of my Life, even Music, I notice how I have Control Freak tendencies.. and I see now how that has shown up in many of my relationships, as well. Like letting a new song (“Godly Woman”) come to Life, I’m learning to accept the changes in others and let it be. My hope is everyone is making changes for the better. And I’d love to believe that I am a positive impact in those around me. But I can only be Me.

I’ve never saved a soul with Rock n Roll, but that don’t stop me from singing..

Some people make Changes.
Let’s make Improvements.

Keep singing, Friends.

Facial Hair and my Month in Europe

to-travel-is-to-live(I chose a Hans quote because he’s a Copenhagen hero, and I was just there :))

     It’s 9:22am, 2:22am Chicago time. Not that it matters when you were up drinking til 4am with an 8am flight this morning. Oh, Dublin. In my aisle seat on this American Airlines flight, I can feel my brain finally taking a moment to process the previous month with a flood of reflection, smiles, confusion, faces, pints, trains, pictures, questions, and realizations. What a crazy time, in a crazy place, so similar to the States but worlds away from my everyday living and experiences.

     The decision to go on this trip was definitely the greatest possible way to spend this period of transition and growth, but don’t tell my credit cards that. If only I could pay rent with Life experience and self-actualization! Then again, even if that was an accepted form of currency, I’m sure the exchange rates would kill me anyway.

US dollar -> Euro -> Pound -> Kroner -> Experience -> Memories -> beyond broke,but surprisingly happy about it. I suppose it’s wanderlust, but I prefer to think it’s just perspective growth.

the bigger the World feels,

the more I feel I need to see it,

the more of the World I see,

the smaller it feels,

and then I see and feel how small my problems are..

     You could make a strong argument that I was just running away from my problems. I wish that weren’t the case, but if I’m being honest, there’s a part of me that is running.. but it’s a part of me that is always running.. it’s the same part of me that refuses to grow up, holds onto dreams, acts irrationally, and falls for the same relationships doomed for self-sabotage. I’ve learned that I am so very flawed, and I’m learning to be okay with it. And part of being “okay with it,” is learning to accept myself.

facialcomphairison

So, I decided to grow some facial hair.

I’ve never kept facial hair in my Life. I don’t think I’m good at it. I don’t think I like it. And it’s just never been a look that I’ve ever wanted to have for myself. I’ve done the occasional feeble attempt at Movember, but it has consistently proven how awful my facial hair grows in. (Is he Asian? Or Mexican? Or in 8th Grade? ..is he trying to do that? Or has he just not looked in a mirror in awhile?)

So, after my birthday on August 19th (Happy belated birthdaaay to meeeee), knowing I was going to be heading to Europe soon, I decided to stop shaving. It was easy, because I was in Indiana kind of hiding away from the World and knew that nobody would really be seeing me.

Why I stopped shaving:
I’m lazy, I won’t be able to shave in Europe, I can’t fly with razors on the plane, it’ll be a hassle, I don’t want to have to worry about itI needed to do something different.

As I’ve stated in previous entries, I know that we can’t expect things to change if we don’t make changes. I want some things to change in my Life. And even though I don’t know which little parts I need to change for results, this seemed like a simple little change that could yield big results. Here’s why: I don’t think I look good with facial hair, therefore, I’m self-conscious about it. Traveling to new places with different cultures is already a Comfort Zone expanding experience that creates feelings of both excitement and uncertainty. And I need to be okay with all of these things.

It comes down to Self-Acceptance. If I’m going navigate this uncertain adventure, I’ll need to act confidently and emit the positivity that I cherish about myself. And this needs to happen despite what is growing on my face.. in plain sight.. open to be judged.. inviting whatever hideous turned-off response  the horrified masses of Europeans who see it may think.. (I was feeling pretty Tyrion Lannister, post-Battle of Black Water) [I’m such a nerd] and as you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking how absurd this sounds! Because it is, but this thought process hand-in-hand with this newfound experience with facial hair. And just as you’d expect, Nobody gave a shit.

A) They didn’t know I’ve never had facial hair.

and B) who cares? Because.. who cares? Only me.

That’s the reality. Nobody cares about your self-conscious, ridiculous thoughts of uncertainty and potential embarrassment.. because it’s not important. Going through this experience was important for me, because facial hair is a tangible representation of the very real feelings of doubt I have in myself. As with everyone, I am riddled with flaws that make up who I am as a person, and who we are as people makes up the Lives that we Live and how we interact. As you know, I’m working on improving myself, but I cannot improve upon what I don’t accept about myself. So as I improve upon this (bearded) Self-Acceptance, it only opens more doors to the Person I’m working toward. And who knows? I may shave, I may not.. regardless, growing the facial hair was only to grow self-esteem and self-worth. And those are much more visible in a person than hair.

It’s a mindset. I’m awesome. There’s no reason to think I’m less than awesome. So.. I’m awesome.

Accept Yourself, Friends. You’re awesome.

(and don’t worry, I have plentyyy more to write about Europe SOON!)

We are Me- Choosing who You are through your Friends.

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

– Jim Rohn

Yesterday was one of my best friend’s birthdays. He’s a really great human being, and I’m fortunate enough to call him a friend. It really got me thinking about the depth of the relationships in my Life, the traits that I look for in people, what makes a good friend, and how all of these factors affect who I am as a person. If you’re interested in what I posted about him for his birthday on Facebook, I copy-pasted it below. Otherwise, feel free to skip down (like you need my permission).


Is there a better human being than Brian Bosen?

It’s his birthday. He’s old.
He’s the most accepting person I know.
He’s also the most random person that I know.
He’s tall. Like way tall. Well, noticeably taller than me.
So, not that tall.
He can grow a beard.
He’s a really colorful person.. but like in the movie, Pleasantville.
He’s also a nerd. Book nerd. Earth nerd. Dragon Ball Z nerd. Word nerd.
Guitar nerd. Alice in Chains nerd. Taco Bell nerd. Bird nerd. Bird is the word. Bird bird bird bird. Word nerd. Bread nerd. Cheap food nerd.
He likes puns. And I also like puns. So, we say a lot of puns.
He can grow his hair really long.
Not that that is a talent, but his hair is really long. He wears a bun.
He cares about you. Like all of you. To a flaw. He just cares.
He pays more in rent so that he can have a bigger place, solely for the fact that you might come visit the Bay Area and need a place to stay.
He wears headbands. Like more often than a person rightfully should.
Then he wears sunglasses that do not match said headband.
His clothes almost never match. Like ever. And he pulls it off.
His name is Brian, but I call him Bosen. Or Brosen, like “Bro, son.”
Or Dumbledorff. Or Nerd (please see above). Some people call him Lion.
I don’t call him Lion, because he’s not a Lion. He’s a human being.
But it’s totally fine if you call him Lion.. you can really call him whatever.
Because he’s nice and he probably won’t care what you call him.
I call him not that often, because we typically text each other.
He likes terrible movies. And also some good ones, but mainly bad ones.
One year for our co-birthday we watched every Tremors movie (all 4) while drinking box wine out of cans. We then, dressed up as the elves from Rice Krispies and had a cereal box character themed party.
We’ve played over 100 stages together in over a dozen states.
He has lived out of his car. And I learned how to drive that car.
People love him everywhere he goes. Genuinely. And rightfully so.

Brian Bosen is one of the greatest human beings that I have ever met, and he possesses all of the traits that I’m working on having. I look up to him as an individual. I respect him as a fellow musician. I cherish him as a friend. I love him as a family member. I look forward to our future memories.

Stoked for Europe next week, Nerd.
CYTS B&S FIWOT YOLO LOL OMW


 friends

(taken from my Instagram: @CraigSuede)

   Though I don’t entirely agree with Jim Rohn and his quote about being the average of the people around you, I definitely recognize the impact that people can have on us. As an educator, I hope that I can inspire and teach in a way that is understandable and accepted, but I also know that the most influential people are those who are closest and spend the most time with the students I work with. And this is just as true for myself. Instead of focusing on the amount of time I’ve spent with people (which with Bosen includes driving in the car across the US playing gigs on 3 separate occasions for 3 weeks at a time and countless gigs in California), I’d rather focus on the people that we choose as friends.. the ones that we let into Our Own World.

“A true friend accepts who you are, but also helps you become who you should be.”

– Unknown author

I’ve never been good at making friends. Real friends. It’s an ongoing learning and lesson about myself that I’m currently working on. I’m great at making connections. I’m good at chatting with people. I’m even pretty decent at talking through stuff and letting others open up to me (only recently have I been more into “opening up”). However, I have the tendency to cut my interactions and emotions short when creating a genuine relationship with other people. It’s crazy, because I distinctly remember my entire Life wanting to have a best friend growing up.. and I never did. I now realize that I probably never connected in a way with anyone to invite a “best friend relationship”, and it stems from a fear of letting another person get to know the real me and believing that they won’t accept me for who I am.. this is probably an adoption issue or something, but I suppose I haven’t delved into this enough to fully understand. Anywho, I digress.

The People we choose to be close to have the largest impact on who we are/ who we become as a Person.

So basically, the people we keep closest to ourselves have an open invitation to change or maintain who we are. We not only allow it, but we are asking for it from them. When you choose who you want to be around, what do you look for? What are the traits that attract you to those people? Typically, we begin with commonality and the reflection of ourselves in those people, but then we tend to admire the aspects about others that we wish we were. There are many people whom I’ve met and know me to an extent, but there are very few that actually know me. I’d say, that for these select individuals, these are the shared traits that they all have:

  • Loyal – I am fiercely loyal to my close friends, and I expect the same in return. One of my closest friends plays Hockey, and I think of my friends as my teammates.. and it’s nice knowing that if shit goes down, they’ll clear the bench.
  • Driven – As a goal-oriented person myself, I’ve found that I quickly lose interest in people that lack motivation. A mundane lifestyle of settling and always taking the safe route is infectious and boring. Yes, as much as I’d love to Netflix my Life away with you, at some point I will get restless.. and I’ll feel the need to achieve at something, anything: fitness, music, education, career, performance, creative, social, just something!
  • Leadership – Have you heard the saying “too many cooks in the kitchen?” There was a time when I felt that a group of people is best with a leader or two and others who are followers.. and now I totally disagree. I take pride in knowing that the people I associate myself with are all Leaders. And there are moments when each leads.. whether it’s just timing or situational, these Leaders know when to lead, when to follow, and how to support.
  • Social – there’s nothing worse than bringing someone out to an event, and they cannot function without puppying around with you, dominating your attention or needing you to hold the space for them. We’ve all been there. Admittedly, I used to have the habit of inviting new girls that I’m seeing into over the top social settings and kind of abandoning them to see how they can handle themselves. Yes, I know this is kind of a dick move. Yes, I know this is unfair. I’m working on being more sensitive to others’ needs, however, there is still value in surrounding yourself with people that can hold their own. All of my friends can go into any social setting and in the very least, entertain themselves and carry conversations.
  • Honest – My friends are kind of assholes. Like, all of them. (As I’m typing this, I’m realizing this is probably one of those reflection things.. oops). We give each other a hard time and jokingly say comments to each other that would most likely be wildly inappropriate by normal social standards. I know this isn’t for everyone, but I think this allows everyone to communicate in a way that is somewhat joking but real. In our group, if you have a problem with something someone is doing, you make fun of them for it. If we’re real friends, then the intention is still for the bettering or better understanding of this person. I’m questioning if this is healthy or not, but it’s definitely a common theme here.
  • Fun – And that’s it. I try to surround myself with people that I want to be around. Generally, these are the types of people that other people want to be around. Not everyone has to be the Life of the Party, but it’s nice when your people bring Life to a party. Every single person in my inner circle brings something to the table. Everyone has their own uniqueness that is fun or charming or witty or funny or ridiculous.. mainly ridiculous. And it’s so important, because time and time again, I’ve met really great, boring people that just don’t hang. And the over-the-top nature of my group of friends tends to drown out others into obscurity. Not that they aren’t inviting and inclusive. I’ve just seen it happen.

My friends aren’t for everyone. They’re for Me, just as your friends are for You. These people, both Past and Present, have helped shaped me to be who I am and who I’m becoming. For better or for worse, They are my Choice and who I Choose to Be.

So thank you, Friends. For putting up with me, helping me, shaping me, and being who You are.
We are Me. You are Us. I am Thankful.

The Challenge with Break-ups in a Hyper Connected World

Indecisive Hearts break Hearts.

We all have issues, but these do not define us. I can’t help but be scared that we’re going to miss out on something beautiful because of our issues.

We can find peace or fall to pieces.

Rainy Sunset in Indiana

Admittedly, this advice is coming from a biased opinion.. as someone who traditionally has not done well in relationships, it has taken a long time to reach this place in my Life and Love Life (or lack thereof) where experience and reflection allow me to see where I have fallen short, when I was settling, when I wasn’t putting forth the effort, how I wasn’t communicating clearly, when I was truly open, and what changes I could have made. It’s fair to say that as much as I’m currently struggling with another relationship that has fallen apart, there is nothing that I would change. I’m upset with how things have gone down, but I am overall happy with who I am as a person, and that makes such a difference while going back in my mind and trying to analyze what worked and what didn’t. Please, learn from my mistakes, as I am learning from mine own.

First, let’s chat about why breakups are so difficult now.. as in, today, in this day and age, with social media and text message relationships. Because, holy shit, I believe breakups are more difficult than ever. And this is solely due to the fact that you just can’t get away from it. With phones, every time I go even a week getting better and growing in a new direction, she’ll text me out of nowhere and I’m right back to where I was.. and even if she wasn’t doing that, it’s not like her posts aren’t going to pop up on my news feed with a tagged photo of her and some other guy, that in my “rational” mind I only assume she’s sleeping with. And of course, unfriend! unfollow! and that’s a huge defining moment in a breakup, but that doesn’t hide or slow the temptation of just wanting to see.. I know it sounds pathetic, but I celebrate every day that I can resist the temptation to look her up on Instagram or Facebook. Like, legitimately. I’ll type her name in the search box, and then when I choose not to click it, I do this stupid little dance to remind myself that my desire to be connected to her, even if it’s via creepy social media stalking, isn’t stronger than my will to move forward. And it’s honestly a daily struggle. I feel like when we’re unhappy in our relationships, it’s just too easy to look up people from relationships’ past and torture ourselves over how happy everyone else looks in their pictures. I always think, “Why can’ that be me? Am I really so horrible of a person that I can’t find a healthy relationship? Jesus, Craig.. you’ve ruined every relationship in your entire Life, maybe you just don’t deserve to be in a good relationship.” And there goes the cycle:

Broken Hearts Break Hearts

And we carry our baggage and self-doubt into the next relationship and the cycle continues. So let’s get past my heavy-handed recount and overall whiny mishandling of my relationship grief and get to the positives:

What I learned about myself:

  • I don’t always outwardly communicate my thoughts and feelings. I think them and choose not to say them. Sometimes I think them and believe I am communicating them and never say a word.
  • I struggle with personal value in my relationships.. is she too good for me? am I too good for her? am I settling? am I ruining her life by allowing her to be a part of my struggles? are we in Love or just in Love with the idea of what this is?
  • Other areas of my Life take over when I’m uncertain.. as an educator, I work with students all of the time. When she would get upset over things I didn’t understand, I found myself handling it like she was a high school student of mine. When I don’t feel like doing something, like going to the gym, I shut my mouth and get the work done.. this doesn’t always serve me in relationships.
  • She didn’t get me. Fundamentally, there was a core understanding missing. As much as we both worked to know and understand one another, there were things we just didn’t get. I don’t expect anyone to understand why I choose to live financially unstable to spend countless hours playing music at shitty bars for people who don’t care, but we all have weird stuff that makes us, Us.
  • I thought that “true love” just exists.. and it doesn’t. It lives. And you breathe life into it for it to have life. Loves takes work. Beautiful, challenging work. And when it’s True, that work will feel worth it. I thought by just being together, that meant that we’d be enough.. I needed to do work.
  • and finally.. that I have issues. And she has issues. And we all have issues. Whether I like it or not, these issues exist and affect my decisions and the way that I handle situations. Though the Past is in the Past, that doesn’t change the fact that it is the Foundation for the Present. What we’ve learned (or didn’t learn) continue with us in our decisions whether we like it or not.

So with these learnings, I’ve been working to turn weaknesses into strengths: Facebook has turned into a place where I have been trying to share genuine learnings and thoughts about myself.. less to be impressive or funny, and more to be transparent and growing. I’ve also been trying to be more open.. open to change, open to vulnerability, open to what is around me. Often, when we feel heartbroken, we have the tendency to clam up and withdraw ourselves, and unknowingly internalize the negativity and ultimately unleash it at a later time. I’m hoping that by staying open, I can welcome in the positive learnings through reflection, and let out the anger and shame that has previously associated every failure I’ve felt in my Life.

It’s one thing to change, it’s another thing to make improvements.
Changing. Growing. Learning. Improving. Sharing.