An Evolution, A Shedding, A Return.

I decided it's time to start blogging again.  I've dealt with and sorted through a lot of emotions this past week and I'm really proud of that, for awhile I've been reserved about sharing myself, sometimes as artists we feel we are always on display... BUT THIS, this is something I felt ready to share, so here goes. 

I've been doing a ton of reflection, with the intention of changing some pieces of me that I didn't like or that did not serve me. It's cool because I feel different, but rooted in the same person that I've always been.  My mind has been transformed and in doing so I've become more of who I was before I took on the opinions of others.  I realized, way too late in life, that I valued other's perceptions of me more than I valued my perceptions of self.  Which led me to be easily manipulated, taken advantage of, and broken down time and time again to please the people around me and make them comfortable. 

I realized recently that no matter what I did, someone was going to be uncomfortable, that I was not at fault, and that most people are acutally uncomfortable with themselves. 

As relationships shifted, mainly because of my understandings of them, I realized that the people I was taking advice from were mostly looking out for themselves.  Naturally, people make suggestions about what would be comfortable for them, imposing their biases into my walk to be more like them.  Despite how many times they said they had my best interests at heart.

So, I looked back at all the major drama in my life, only to find that the same few people were at the center of those moments. The persuasion of my bad decisions; my trust in terrible and often selfish advice.  

How was I so oblivious to these cycles and patterns?  Mostly because I accepted false promises of growth, meanwhile ignoring all of the signs and characteristics that showed me that change had not yet happened... Or at least nothing drastic enough to make significant changes. 

But this post isn't about other people... It's not meant to blame or point fingers at anyone but myself, so after some inward reflection, I got to this question, "what is it about me that attracts this energy of manipulation into my life?"

HARD TO ADMIT, but eventually I realized that other people's drama was entertaining to me... I enjoyed hearing about all of the fuck shit that people were going through and sometimes laughed at the dumb decisions they made after we got through talking.  I found it interesting to be in the midst of such extensive drama because it reminded me how blissful my life was going...

So that piece of me most definitely invited drama into my own life... I was willing to freely be a by-stander, thinking that I was protected from that bullshit leaking in, but once it started to overflow into my relationships, I knew something needed to change. I became clear that I was feeding a demon that was plotting on me the entire time.  But that's what demons do.

At the core of it all, I realized I really didn't know myself... So of course, I would be surrounded by women who didn't know themselves either.  After all, I am a reflection of the company I keep.  

And while I thought I knew myself, I would find times where someone would challenge my perspective of self and my whole world would be shattered, everything would come crumbling down. I didn't know how to stand up for myself, my perspective, my opinion, so instead I digested everyone else's as truth. 

How does anyone know me better than me... The answer is they don't. I just didn't know myself enough to know that the ground that I stood on was already solid. 

So naturally I kept a bunch of dramatic actresses in my circle ultimately making it difficult for me to truly tap into myself and be connected with my purpose.  

I see more clearly now.  And I'm working on myself. 

The other day, I caught myself entertaining someone else's drama, so I stopped myself.  I also stood my ground in a conversation where someone told me how I should feel... Sorry, but you ain't bout to tell me how I should feel.  

I am currently learning how to work on myself without being ashamed of my shortcomings and I'm actively trying to be better acquainted with myself, one day at a time.  

For me that mostly means trusting my intuition which in conjunction with life means knowing that I talk to God enough, I sit still enough, I meditate enough, I work on clearing mental blocks enough to know that I am in tune with The Creator, Mother Earth, and all of the Spirit Guides and Ancestors that were assigned to protect me.  Trusting myself means knowing without doubt that I DO THE WORK to be whole, to be clear, to be fair and just and to always move with love. 

#JourneyTo619

It's beautiful to me that the last time I wrote was to speak on how I was full of complaints... Then suddenly, I no longer had time to write blogs, for good reason.  

Momentum started progressively picking up, and suddenly, I'm here, the closest I've ever been to the finish line. It's honestly very surreal. 

In 2012, if you'd asked me when I thought AudioBook would be done, I would've told you, "in a month or so...", and I would've meant it, wholeheartedly... I didn't realize how long it would take to create this masterpiece.  I say masterpiece not to describe the quality but to describe the amount of time, effort, and patience I've put into this project... It took me 3.5 years to master this piece... Literally! And if we're talking about quality, well.... It's pretty damn magical, if you ask me. 

Finally, an emotion I'm entirely able to articulate...

A lot of people have asked me why I've decided to title this project, "AudioBook", and honestly, I hadn't put that much thought into it lol.  It was a title, I felt very strongly about when I started, and since then had stuck with for promotional purposes, but upon listening to it straight through, I'd realized the power in the story... 

This album is the soundtrack to my self-discovery. And I am sooooooooo grateful for this journey.  For the growth that's come with it, for the challenges, for the acceptance, for the love, for music choosing me. For me choosing purpose.  

Last time I completed something in 4 years it was college lol.  This hands down trumps that experience... 6 more days... #JourneyTo6.19 

(ps. I think I may take "trump" out of my vocabulary.... that guy really sucks.)

 

 

"People like to Complain"

I recently started working in customer service at a taco shop in Brooklyn.. A job where I constantly remind my boss and manager that,"people like to hear themselves complain".  Most of the time, they have nothing to complain about, or their just being incredibly particular about how they want things done.  About the 5th time I reminded my coworkers that "people like to complain", I realized that I am much like all of these people. 

After writing, "Sacrifice", my last blog, I looked back at the blogs I'd written before.  They felt so full of distress.  These moments that weren't exactly negative, but definitely weren't positive.  My roommate said, "they're reflective" which I do agree with, but my reflection seemed to be a bit in the dark.    

I found myself feeling a little ridiculous, curious as to how it was I had so much to complain about. When I look objectively at my life, I'm doing absolutely everything I've ever wanted to do.  Between working a flexible job to technically being bicoastal and traveling back and forth to working from home and creating my own schedule, and still being able to work a job that forces me to be social.  I've got a pretty amazing life, one that I've worked hard to set up, and finally I've arrived. 

We always want more, don't we? 

It makes it pretty difficult to enjoy the fruits of our labor when we are constantly thinking about what's next or dwelling in what was. We have to stop and realize that the moment is all we can ask for! For me, I found it difficult to let go of all that I had already let go of.  I kept talking about all that I was sacrificing, all that I had given up for this dream.  Things that are still true to this day.  What I failed to realize was all that I had sacrificed, I didn't even need! And what I gained from those "sacrifices" was far greater than anything I could've imagined.  I've lost nothing.  

Over the last two weeks I've been diligently working on opening my chakras through meditation, and in that time, I've found myself realizing that much of what we hold dear to us doesn't matter at all.  We seek sympathy because we lack compassion or companionship, we aim to be acknowledged because we lack confidence within ourselves.  We give these things value, we give opinions value, we give money value, we give accomplishment value.  None of that really matters.  Within our divine purpose, we were designed to master ourselves, our own little universe within... In order to truly do that we have to let go of our attachment to this world! That doesn't mean it disappears, it just means we are not hung up on everything that this world throws at is.  With that we become less and less concerned with what we've lost, missed out on, what we haven't yet accomplished, and what we've failed to gain.  

I am still struggling with letting go of my attachments, but I also realize now that I have not sacrificed a single thing! Instead, I have purged myself of all that needed to go to gain all that I've sought after. 

I'll leave you with this video, it's been a wonderful simple tool that's helped me with meditation! 


Sacrifice

I had a weak moment recently.  One that brought me to tears.  One that caused me to question my faith, my purpose, my decisions, and everything I've ever chosen to believe in.  I lost complete faith in myself. I decided I needed to sacrifice something! Immediately, I thought of throwing music under the bus.  

When I think of sacrifice, I think of giving up something that you love to obtain something that you need.  That's why music came to mind.  Of all of the things I've ever given up (meat, alcohol, cheese, comfort) I've never given up music.  I've held onto it because it's what I believe in.  It's something that's always been with me, since I was young, and it's something I've always felt connected with. 

So now, 20 years into this music dream, I began to think, to live the life I want to live, it seems the only thing I have left to give up is music.  

To be really honest, there are things that this lifestyle does not afford me.  Although many people believe this life is glamorous, it's far from it! 

A friend of mine recently told me, "Comparison is the thief of Joy".  I'd heard that quote before, and although I didn't want to hear it at the time, he was 100% right. 

Here I am watching my peers travel the world, taking vacations more than once a year, even for small National trips, saving up to invest in businesses, or new cars, or just building a savings fund.  Most recently a peer of mine bought a house, wow.  I'm watching folks maneuver so freely with their money while I sit and calculate every move and decide if I can even afford that doughnut I've been craving.  

Talk about stealing my joy.  

I have this friend that I constantly complain to about where my life really is despite where people believe it is.  All they see are the social media posts, and the fact that I'm in California every other month.  They don't know how much those trips set me back financially, physically, and spiritually every single time (I write as this chest cough sits deep in my lungs). 

And even though I've been blessed with the opportunity to be home as much as I have been, people don't know how much of that time is spent in waking moments working on the same project I've been pushing for the last 3 years.  I hardly see family, and unless you're coming to my house to see me, I'm really not seeing friends either.  

Anyway, back to this friend.  She always says, "Gem, I really think you should consider sacrificing and get a full time job". Naturally when I was considering sacrifice, I thought maybe that's what I should do. Then I think back to the last full-time job I had and how I constantly was penalized for leaving to pursue music.  I think to myself, "yea, that's not gonna work". 

After a week of tears, insecurities, and bluntly just being fed up with myself, disgusted at this 28 year old who don't really got her shit together, I finally took an honest look at what I have sacrificed. 

Comfort, vanity, peace of mind, financial stability, security in myself, all of these things I have sacrificed for purpose.  

I realize now that the thing that I can do to ensure this sacrifice is not in vain is to focus my energy.  Focus my energy so damn hard that I can live the life I want and continue to pursue my music fully.  That means taking this little bit of free-time I have and applying it to another job that's flexible for a short period of time, stacking some money, and keeping my goal at the center of my focus.  It means sacrificing the time that I left for myself to be social.  It might even mean sacrificing some of this extra sleep I like to grab midday.  I don't know what it looks like yet, but I plan to explore those options this week.  

What I do know is this; I am not new to sacrifice.  I've been doing that.  It just looks different than the norm.  

I'll leave you with this, my good friends at Stoop 55 asked me, "How far have you gone for your passion?"  This is what I said.

"I have left the security of home, a city and state where I was 'established', a career in education, free health insurance and a steady paycheck for my passion.  I've left family and friends to be in a city that cultivates artists and opportunity. I've given up everything that ever made me feel fly, or beautiful in the eyes of society.  I've given up rest.  How far have I gone for my passion? I've gone to the point of absolutely no comfort at all for this, and I'll continue to go as far as it take me until I've made the impact I was designed to make."

I stand by that.  

 

 

Growing Pains..

Where does time go?  

Lately I've had to remind myself that time is a construct that only exists if we acknowledge it. Sometimes I'll zone out and suddenly it's Sunday all over again. 

This past week took me by surprise.. Not in the best of ways. I found myself feeling blue about my current predicament in life. 

I'm sure many people felt that after college, after grad school, life would become somewhat easier. You get offered a steady job making at minimum 50k a year and work your way up until you've created your perfect life/work situation. I definitely thought I'd be creating programs in colleges geared toward the arts, living a cushy and fulfilling life by now. 

Sometimes I really miss that optimistic ambition that came with not understanding how the real world works. 

I guess all of that could have been possible had I not decided that the politics of education were all too much for me to handle. I was too passionate, and therefore very vocal about what I agreed and disagreed with.

This week I began to have doubts about my path... I spent 6 years in post secondary education trying to decide my path and somehow ended up taking the "unconventional" route of pursuing music as a craft instead. Six years and mad debt later. 

Now at the still very young age of 28, I found myself disappointed in the fact that I still live paycheck to paycheck.  

My decision to pursue music never came from a desire to earn money, although I do recognize the lucrative potential in doing that.. I've always wanted to make an impact, and hence have been incredibly successful.. But I still acknowledge the need to pay bills. Something I struggle with on a monthly basis.  

I found myself questioning my decisions. To move to New York, to continue to pursue a career in music.. I genuinely had a weak moment where I placed societies expectations of a 28 year old woman in America over my calling.. I contemplated throwing in the towel to pick up a job instead. How dare I? 

Over the last few days, I sulked more than I ever have.. I cried, I acknowledged my faults.

My faults didn't lie in my path, in my choices, or in my lifestyle.. They laid in my expectations to appear better off than I am.  

I asked myself why I was going through this struggle and the answer was, because people need to see it.  

A lot of us are too afraid to bare our souls for the world to see. I'm just trying to live 100% in truth and that means letting people know, "nah, I'm not ok".  

I really don't wanna fight with myself anymore. Although I know there will be other days like these past few ones. 

I just have to remember that success is not about money, power, & respect. It's about the impact you make and the people you serve. 

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Shedding...

I can't recall ever feeling like this. 

I've been calling it "the shedding of my skin", that's the best way I can describe this becoming of something/someone new.  Someone I don't think I've met before.  I feel powerful. 

I haven't blogged in quite some time.  I removed myself from all things visible.  I felt exposed in a way that made me uncomfortable.  I felt this need for validation without knowing what for, or from who. Who was I relying on for this sense of confidence in my direction?

I started feeling really insecure about things and needed to check myself on it. 

It was a lot of small things that blossomed into something much bigger.  Like my album not being done after constantly announcing the coming of it's release while I'm just beginning to understand the amount of work that actually goes into an album.  

Or me explaining constantly all of the goals I have set for myself via my blog and still not having the space to accomplish them.  

I started beating myself up for disappointing my audience when I don't even really know who is even paying attention.  

So I had to take a break. 

I couldn't sit around any longer, disappointed with myself about a possibility that may or may not have even existed.  All the while, beating myself up knowing good and well that some of the defeat was out of my control.  I don't have it all together... Why do I have to appear like I do?

I took some time to sort through things.  I began to see the value in this life as a freedom that I have to choose. There is no one to disappoint except myself. I can't live with the expectation to please other people.  That gets tricky when it comes to people you love, or want to support.  I'm just learning that true freedom comes from understanding that their purpose in my life shouldn't fade when I'm fulfilling my own purpose.  And if it does, that's ok too.  I'll take what I've learned from the relationship and move on.  

I can't be afraid to lose anything.  Not without unintentionally clinging to it.  That's such an unnatural feeling... A feeling that keeps us from progressing. 

Anyway, understanding that has me feeling fearlessly bold.  I like it. 

Suddenly it feels like I'm molting into something new. 

The new me feels powerful, unfamiliar but rooted in truth. I suppose I'll just have to take the time to know me again... 

After all, the unexamined life isn't worth living, right?

 

Stepping out of the Spotlight

If I could only show you the many blogs I've attempted to write these last couple of weeks wanting to stick to my new blog once a week goal.  I just couldn't find the words or feelings to make any of it feel good, or true even.  

Truth is, these last few weeks have been one crazy blur.

Transitions always seems to spin that way.  It takes time to figure them out.. 

NOVEMBER 8th - "All these posts start the same way... Me - staring at a blank page, trying to sort through my mind to articulate everything that I've learned this week."

NOVEMBER 15th - "I've got nothing"

NOVEMBER 20th - "Today I had this interesting revelation. Returning from Detroit for a show, several people asked me how my show was. I said good, it was! I sang well, performed well and the response was great, but truthfully I wasn't that excited about my gig."

TODAY resonates most with November 20th.  

Until this weekend I was unclear about how I'd been feeling about things.  

It started in Detroit -- I took a really inspiring trip to Hittsville, the Motown History Museum where I was given a tour of the very place that Motown first begun.  I learned about Barry Gordy's vision and the inspiring things that he did for the community of Detroit and the phenomenal artists he cultivated.  I had the chance to step foot in the same studio that Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, the Temptations, Diana Ross and Michael Jackson once stepped foot in.  I nearly cried because of how intense the preserved energy was in that space. 

I left with ideas about family structure, community support, and artist's development that I not only want to incorporate in my own life but share with others in hopes that they'll also be inspired.  

Later that night, I arrived at Majestic Café to the performance that initially brought me to Detroit.  As inspired as I was earlier that day, I left my performance feeling pretty uninspired.  I didn't realize until later, that this was the first performance where I wasn't nervous before I began - a red flag for me.  

Phone calls and several conversations later, I found myself answering, "How was your trip? How was your show?"

While I raved about my trip, my visit to Hittsville, the beautiful solitude, and ability to think without noise pollution, I could only respond "good" to the questions about my show. "It went well." Period. 

It was good! Don't get me wrong! In fact, I'd even had a girl come up to me thanking me for turning her day around -- that was what mattered most. Even so, I was completely unenthused by my performance. 

I could blame some technical difficulties if I wanted to, but the God honest truth is, I myself, was not enthusiastic or excited about my performance.  In fact, the last few performances I've had have felt pretty mundane.  

I finally took a step back and asked myself, "Why?"

This last trip to San Diego grew me a little... It had to with all that was changing for my family.  As of lately, I've had a lot on my mind.  

I now have this thirst for inspiration and creativity that I haven't been able to quench because my focus has been on booking gigs.  The gigs are what pays the bills and keeps me afloat.

And while I'm thankful to be able to perform and do what I love for money, I never wanted to do music just for the money... I want to do it because I'm passionate about it.  

I began to think about my career this year - how many stages I've touched in different cities across the US.  My track record is pretty impressive, and it's enough for me to admit that I have earned a well deserved break. 

I've decided to take a moment to seek inspiration and dive into my creativity uninterrupted.  An opportunity to grow as a musician, as a student of my craft, as a writer, and as an artist.  

This isn't me saying, "I never want to perform again", I love the stage far too much for that.  This is just me stepping out of the spotlight and saying, "I just don't want to be on display right now". 

I know WITHOUT HESITATION that this break will be everything I need it to be.  That I know with great certainty.  

Until next time.  

 

Recluse

There are times in this life when it's appropriate to go inward.  As an artist, as an event planner, I have two roles that empower me to be social nearly all the time.  If I'm honest with myself, that's not who I am.  Deep inside, I'd rather be introspective without distraction.  I enjoy me time more than any other time.  I like to stay inside, watch from the outside, and give time to those who are deeply close to me.  

I had to remind myself that this is who I am.  

It's not that I don't love people, I do! I love being around good energy, and good vibes.  I like to go out and party, socialize, dance, people watch, all of that.. I enjoy the energies that come with being around a lot of people having a good time.  The thing is, there's a time and place for all of that.

Right now, I'm adjusting to a lot of things.... New jobs, different living situation, off balance family structure.  Things are different... And I need to re-calibrate. 

Carrying on, going out, having fun, those things just don't seem appealing right now.  Not when back home, my father is still in the hospital, and I'm helplessly watching the family adjust from afar.  Not when I don't feel like I'm contributing.  Not when everything around me has shifted, not when I'm relearning balance in a level up I'm still getting to know. 

At times like this, you adjust... That means sacrifice. 

For me, sacrifice means being more selfish.  It means being honest about what I can achieve, even if that means disappointing people.  It means telling people no.  It means turning down opportunities to sit in a room and do absolutely nothing but think.  It means wallowing in whatever self-pity you have while you try to process the state of life that you're in.  

It's ok to do these things. 

Sometimes, I feel bad about not stepping up to the plate and handling things better, but then I remember that everything is a process, healing included.  

This week, I allowed myself to heal.  And for the most part, that meant doing nothing.  I got sucked into a dramatic TV Series for the first time in my life, and enjoyed watching other people satirically suffer through stresses far bigger than mine... In a way it reminded me that there are bigger things to cry about. I vegged the hell out.

I think society pressures us to be happy all the damn time.  That's not reality.. Of course you can CHOOSE happiness.  I do that about 90% of the time.. But just like light, happiness does not exist without darkness.  And even in the darkness there is beauty.  We just have to adjust our lens to it.  

Today I feel inspired, faithful, beautiful, talented, and capable of achieving all that I set my eyes on.  It's only difficult to focus your eyes through tears and a cloudy spirit... Sometimes, you can't do anything but let the storm pass, and believe that it will.  

Most important, you must never forget to turn your pain into purpose... To turn something that once hurt so much, into something beautiful.. It's perhaps the most necessary thing you can do to heal yourself.. 

It's Personal

I've been coming to the end of one of my journals for quite some time now and honestly haven't pushed myself to get to the end.  There's been a lot on my mind and not enough space to process it... I've had the time, but not the space.  

I believe in taking a step back and away to get the full scope of what's happening in this life.  Being back in New York will hopefully provide both the space and the energy to assess what's happened. 

It's personal, ya know? To see your family shuffle through pain at such a fast pace.  To watch the unraveling of past, present, and future thoughts while seeing my father suffer.  There is nothing that can prepare you for that.  

It isn't about me.  It never is.  But this is the only lens through which I have to share information... So here goes nothing.  

I had this very peaceful realization that my father's health was going to change everything... I have journals from way back that clearly stated, "my father is going to outlive us all".  He's always been the healthiest man I know.  

I saw all of that come crashing down just weeks after his retirement and came to realize that my superhero, like me, was still very human.  

I was in denial, unable to see how the kryptonite crept inside him.  I couldn't believe that this might just be the first and last chance that I'd be able to spend quality time with him, and I found myself hoping to stall for just a little bit more..

Though he was sick, that may have been the greatest time I was able to spend with him.  It was the first time he'd sat still for once, and for that I was grateful.  

We talked about hopes, dreams, and aspirations.  I was able to care for him. It was a beautiful moment that we shared together, though still, very personal and difficult to process. 

For the first time ever, my family had to face what it may have been like to lose the man that had done so much to hold our household together.  There are things only he can do, questions that only he can answer, wounds that with only his time can be healed, and we've hesitated for so long to make those things happen.  Suddenly we're pushed into over drive and you can feel a room full of concern and panic at every corner. 

I tried to stay strong for the family, but honestly, it was exhausting. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm extremely grateful for the growth that has come from this experience.  I was able to watch my family grow and come together as a much stronger unit.  I watched as people processed and released pains that I felt were dividing us, and watched as we all stepped into a brand new and beautiful chapter as a family. 

Even through all of that, I can't say that there weren't growing pains along the way... The growth we experienced was phenomenal but you could still feel the weight of a past that finally had the freedom to be released. 

Lately, I've seen this quote floating around. It reads, "being an artist means forever healing your own wounds and at the same time endlessly exposing them".  As much as I believe that statement to be true, I felt it was time for me to selfishly hoard my growing pains for myself. It's a decision I'm incredibly proud of.  As an artist sometimes, we're so used to our business being on display, we often don't take the time to allow ourselves to deal with it before setting it free. 

This time was different.  Like I said, it's personal.  And some thing are better off fully processed.  

 

"Trust Your Struggle"

There's no possible way to predict the direction your life is headed in.  I feel like I relearn this every month, maybe even more frequently than that.  It seems every time things start going as "planned", plans change. 

I was feeling really confident about the direction of my life... I was working a job that allowed me to continue my pursuit of my music career, able to travel while working, and still pay my bills.  

For the first time, since working for this company, I decided to utilize the freedom to travel and booked a ticket home for a 6 week stay where I would work on music and build the company I was working for.  

Things got a little shady.  Before I left, I noticed I wasn't being paid on time or consistently.  Because my bosses are in different time zones, I assumed that must be why.  When I touched down in San Diego, I completed my hours for the week, sent in my invoice and waited.  After over 24 hours, I still hadn't received my payment.  

That day, I was told that I had to stop working for the week while the partners of the company decided what my next steps were.  Almost immediately, I started to panic.  Up until this point, I've been working nearly exactly paycheck to paycheck, with a little money here and there to put aside.... Not working for a full week meant not being on schedule to pay bills.... Trying to appreciate the moment, being back home, with events coming up, I forgot about it, and decided I would wait to hear from the partners about my next steps.  

Realistically, I was good with whatever was next, but I could feel the nerves fluttering inside my stomach... I started thinking of next steps, I jumped into over drive to figure out what I would do to make sure bills were paid on time... 

Despite my spiritual understanding of time, money, and life at this point, my human instincts were thinking survival, stability, and access in the form of money.  Spiritually, I'm aware that something is shifting and that my time has been freed up and that allows for a lot of opportunities to make moves toward my career goals.  Humanly, I'm frightened by what it means to be broke and 3000 miles away from where I live with no concrete plan in sight.  

Sunday morning hits, I wake up to an email that lets me know I've been let go from my job.  With four weeks left in San Diego, I got up and just kept it pushing.  I had a Block Party to get ready for and I didn't have time to waste sulking in what it meant to be unemployed.  

But God is good, all the time! The Follow The Music Block Party was an amazing success, and the people loved what they were experiencing.  Although, I can't say I made a lot of profit, I can say that I realized something about my purpose.  I am a connector of people, it is my job to bridge gaps, communities, and create spaces where people can thrive.  This Sunday, I did exactly that... In a community where art is not readily available, I gave space to artist to showcase the depths of their souls.  I felt good about it.  I still feel good about it.  

Yesterday, I looked back at photos from the week and saw a photo that resonated with me.  A piece of art, graffiti on a wall in Oakland read, "Trust Your Struggle".  Words much easier spoken than believed and I thought to myself, "that's a tough thing to do, but I'm sure it's rewarding".  

I have never been financially stable... Never had a savings account that I didn't have to dip into.  Finances have always been my struggle.  I'm used to it.  It just seems so redundant after awhile to always have to wonder when ends will be met... 

Then I look at my life.... The things I've accomplished, the opportunities I've been able to create, the amount of traveling I've been able to do.. The freedom that I've had to be able to think, and maneuver, and I say screw money.... I'm doing what people work up to retirement for.  So who is really struggling? 

Honestly, there's still much to be processed in this season... I'm just grateful for the time and space that I'm in to even be able to process it.. What better way, then to be at home in beautiful sunny San Diego, where I have all the freedom to think.  God knows what he's doing.  I just gotta let him BeGreat>.  

 

Time Warp

I have heard from numerous people who have made it to a certain level of status or success, “Once things start moving, they move fast”. 

It’s interesting to actually start experiencing that as my own truth. 

I have been an artist for my whole life and have actively been pursuing music off and on for nearly 15 years now and I can say, that things have been moving at a pretty steady pace.  A gig here, a slight momentum shift, another gig there, more momentum… 

There was something very different about the month of August…. It started with Sanaa Fest.. Perhaps the largest crowd I’d ever performed my own music for.  I really didn’t think anything of it aside from the fact that I’d made the most tips I’d ever made at a performance and I was proud of that. 

Then we went to AfroPunk, the biggest music festival in Brooklyn that sets off the end of the summer in a really cool way.. Nothing but good energy, dope fashion, and just the right amount of freedom that lets you know it’s ok to be yourself.  It’s a great place to network because all of the move-makers are typically there! TunnelVision had a booth there for the first time in TunnelVision history which was a major blessing.

That was when I realized Sanaa created a ripple effect.  I was stopped over and over and over again by people who saw me perform at Sanaa and loved my performance.  I started receiving gig offers that I had to turn down because there were just too many gigs to handle within a month.  Good problems to have for sure! 

The pace at which life picked up was crazy.  It wasn’t a slight momentum shift, this one was a major one and it got me thinking.  Maybe this was the beginning of the major momentum shift all of the successful people were talking about… 

People are never overnight successes, but I can see how it’s perceived that way.  There’s something that happens at rapid speed and suddenly everyone knows your name and what you do.  

I’ve always been proud of the people I’ve kept around me because of their extreme talent and their ability to maintain their humility and balance throughout their growth and their success… I can see now how it can get difficult once things start picking up! Suddenly people are treating you differently, praising you actively, and the desire to get to know you is stronger than it was just weeks before.  It’s a strange feeling to be recognized by your work. Especially as an artist, where your art is purely a reflection of your feelings.   

Frankly, I feel no different than I ever have.  I’ve worked hard to get where I am, but I don’t feel special, I feel focused.  I’m blessed for sure, and I am grateful.

This entire month, I’ve had that antsy, butterflies in stomach feeling that I typically get right before I do something major…. This time it’s paired with an extreme peace for wherever this path takes me… And I know I’ve got work to do to make sure whatever momentum I’ve gained doesn’t die… 

So here I am! In San Diego, just touching down. Getting ready to embark on a journey to once and for all finish Audiobook.  Something tells me things will change once this album is done.  I don’t know what, I have no expectations… And I feel that’s the best way to approach it.. One step, one task, one goal at a time.. 

Who I was is NOT who I am....

Time flies fast as hell when you're an adult.  People tell you that when you're a kid, A LOT.  You never believe it because you just want to get to the next phase in your adulthood, to gain whatever freedom you think you'll gain... 

For the longest time, I've been so focused on the next accomplishment, thinking that I've mastered each level once I've stepped into it.  I'm impatient.  I become more and more aware of that every day. But I work on slowing down daily... That's kinda besides the point for right now.  

Lately, things have been moving so fast.  A lot of them positive, amazing, beautiful things.  Every advancement a clear sign to me that things are changing for the better... So quickly I forget how with each accomplishment there is still so much to be learned.  I feel like in those moments of arrogance, when you think you know everything, that's when resistance catches up with you.  

For me, resistance always comes in the form of my past catching up with me.  Something I thought I'd gotten past, something I believed was through catches me and reminds me of where I've come from.  

It hurts more than anything to be reminded of the person you were when you weren't very happy. Even worse to experience the repercussions of a time when you weren't navigating at your highest spiritual self.  

In short, this week challenged me.  It put me back where I never wanted to be.  

Today I had to affirm myself that who I was is NOT who I am... Every time the past has caught up with me, I've beat myself for being so f'n stupid back then. Yes, I know I was growing up and all of that, but I've done some shady things that I am not proud of.  I've hurt a lot of incredible people, and all in all have questioned myself in trying to figure out where I'd been hurt enough to feel the need to hurt the people around me so frequently. I'm not proud of the person I was.  

What's different now, is this time, resistance isn't going to fool me.  I made mistakes, ones that I could regret if I allowed myself to.  But when I think about who I was when I made those mistakes and who I am now, I honestly can't identify with the old me. That let's me know I've evolved, and that's all we're really trying to do, right? Grow, learn, evolve.  

Evolution is most definitely a continuous gift... 

Sanaa Fest

This Saturday, I had the opportunity to perform at the 2nd Annual Sanaa Fest.  I had the privilege to perform at the 1st Annual Festival and was excited to return to that good good energy.  Without expectation, I ended up stepping up to help the visionary of the festival RUN the entire festival.  It was quite a feat and I must admit that I'm proud of myself for the quality of work I ended up putting in.  

Saturday was...... I still don't have the words for it.  But I know this.  I leveled UP this weekend. 

I'm still processing all of the beauty that came from the Sanaa Fest.  All of it.  From successful running an event that catered to over 1500 people, to fulfilling my dream of performing with an all female band, to making a substantial amount of money in tips, to meeting phenomenal artists who saw the same amount of talent in me that I saw in them! 

God moves in incredible ways.  A lot of times beyond our expectation.  I don't know what's going to come from this weekend's accomplishments, but I can already feel the momentum building.  It's intense too.... 

When I think about all the things that had to happen for me to get to this one moment, I look at God and I smile at his craftsmanship.  He always places you where you need to be, whether you want him to or not.  

Truthfully, I'm still worn out from this weekend... I'm still in awe.... I'm still proud... And I know that I'm going to revisit this moment often as a pivotal moment in my life.  So I thank God for the opportunity to continue to BeGreat>.

All in...

As of lately, I've been learning some valuable lessons about faith.  

On the surface, I've made faith to be this tool I use to get what I want.  Thinking, if I'm faithful in my plan, then God will bless me with my desired results.  To a certain extent, faith does work like that.  

But there is something flawed about that theory, however. Here's what I've come to realize over the last couple of weeks.  Faith is deeper than praying over your plans for yourself, it's about trusting God's plan for you! 

If you've been following my blog, you've probably read about my recent journey in understanding my definition of success. I've concluded that success is a process. It got me thinking about my journey as a musician. 

Many of you may not know that I've been exposed to the money driven music industry since I was 12. I started off in a girl group called, "MISS".  I went solo at the age of 14 and started recording and creating my own sound.  

When I was 16, I was offered a record deal. The only requirement was that I had to change my sound and my look.  I turned down the deal to preserve my identity.  This is still one of my proudest moments, to be able to have the confidence at that age to stand up for myself.  I sometimes wonder who I would have been had I signed that deal.  In the end, I know God had my back then, same as he has it now.  

I took a break from music when I graduated high school and went to college.  College was a place where you could redefine yourself, and I didn't want to be the girl that sang anymore.  Slowly, but surely, people started to find out.  It was ok, it helped pay a lot of bills in college.  

When I moved to Los Angeles for Grad school, I picked music back up again.  This time as an outlet for my own expression.  It wasn't about getting a record deal, or performing for a chance to be a star... I was broken, hurting, seeking God, and using music as my healer.  Some of my most powerful pieces were written during this phase in my life.  

Music wasn't about fame, or money, or power anymore.  It was about me saying what I felt God has put on my heart to be said, and using my gifts and talents to say it.  Even now, I still feel that way.  

Over the last 15 years, I've developed a loyal fan base.  I've experienced countless moments where people have thanked me for impacting their lives.  I have traveled the country to perform.  I have written things that have freed me from pain, and ego, and suffering.  MUSIC has done amazing, healing things for me.  

Music has made me who I am today.  It has afforded me opportunities to eat when I didn't think I would.  It has opened doors for me in ways I didn't know possible.  

And if I were to quit music now (which I'm not), I could say, "I've had a successful music career!" That brings me incredible peace.  For the first time in my life, I've let go of my death grip on my music career and given it to God.  I've always "surrendered" my music career with stipulations.  I'll surrender music if you just let me finish this project... I'll surrender music if you just let me do one world tour... I'll surrender if.... God don't do ultimatums! 

Now my focus is not on what success looks like for me, but what God considers to be successful for me. And THAT, is greater than anything I can imagine.  

Since giving my music to God, I've had some incredible advances in my music career! I've gotten multiple phone calls in the last couple weeks with people inquiring about my music in ways I never anticipated my music to be used.  I'm making advances that make a lucrative career in music seem more feasible than ever before, and the lanes are opening up for me to finish "Audiobook" once and for all.  THAT, is what faith will do! 

Faith is about opening your mind and your heart to what God has in store for you. ALL THE WAY! And leaning on his plans for you, not your plans for yourself.  It's about relinquishing control of everything and allowing Him to work on you from the inside out.  Faith is about knowing that God's plan for you is far greater than yours will ever be.  So that you can just breathe, thank God for another day, and follow that small voice that speaks to you in your stillness... With no expectation. 

Success is a Process

This week was a strange week for me.. Last week, I talked about how things finally felt right, and I thought I had reached a new level of success for myself.  Last week, I was so proud of how far I had come.  I reached a new platform, a brand new success. 

I walked into this week BEAMING! So proud of my accomplishment and this new phase of life that I had reached.  

What I failed to realize was this, once you reach a new level of success, you reach new obstacles, challenges and lessons that can leave you feeling fairly unsuccessful... This was how my week felt. 

I won't get into details, because they're personal, but in a nut shell, I found myself on unstable ground this week, feeling very emotionally and spiritually drained.  I learned things about myself that I simply did not like, and it hurt me to admit that there were deep unconscious flaws that needed to be addressed.  These realizations put my relationship in a rocky place, which always leaves me feeling off balance and at my lowest.  Though better now, there is still some healing that needs to be done.  

What's strange is how God turns things around for you when you choose to do the self-work.  The light work that challenges you to look inward and fix whatever needs fixing.  For me, I found this week left me in a position of internal understanding that freed me of some darker parts of my past.  What I hope were the last of those darker memories from that particular era of my life.  

What changed after that amazed me! 

After having such an emotional week, and resolving some issues, I found myself feeling compelled to focus what was left of my energy on music... As the saying goes, "do what you need to do in order to do what you want to do", I ended up focusing my attention on work and making money instead.  About an hour into my work day, I received a phone call about two last minute paid gigs, one of which required me to be at the venue within the next 30 minutes of that phone call.  God moves so fast. 

"If you don't let go of this piece of your past, you will never move on to the next phase of your life" these were the words that resonated over and over again this week.  He was completely right. Setting that piece of myself free allowed God to bless me with my next phase of artistry and I'm so thankful to have allowed more room for God to work.  

It's interesting.  You grow, you accomplish new things, every time, you reach new heights and new successes, but what is success? How do we define it... Everyone defines success so differently, and for me, I'm finding that it is fleeting.  You succeed at something, and suddenly you're at the bottom again. A roller-coaster of success.  At first I was bummed out about it.  Like, damn, here we go again starting from the bottom.  Then I realized, that it's all a part of the process and there is nothing wrong with that at all.  

Success is a process.  It takes time, energy, self-discovery and flexibility to be successful.  It's not just a one-shot, paved path... It's a journey.  It's a part of this life journey.  

Understanding this has allowed me to take some of the pressure off of myself and to remember that every day there is a chance to be successful.  It just depends how you define it.  

This week, I consider confronting something darker and releasing it to God a success.  I define success in the ability to allow myself to feel, to hurt, to cry, and to remember that everything is going to be ok.  I define success in my ability to see and receive the blessings that God gave me because I did the work it took to release something I was holding on to.  So while I may not be as ecstatic as I was last week, I am still very proud of my successes.  

How do you define success?

Merging

I cannot express to you how difficult it is to keep up a blog on a weekly basis. I don't know what I got myself into.... But it's a commitment I plan to see all the way through. 

Here's what I've come to realize.  Each week, as I sit down to write my blog, I am forced to evaluate exactly how I've been feeling that week and then articulate it in words.  I don't know how many of you can say you do that on a consistent basis, but for me, this is new.  

This week, took some time to figure out.  I was FOCUSED.  I mean, the most focused I've ever been.  I put a plan together for myself and I followed through with that plan just to see how it worked for me.  AND IT WORKED WELL! 

It's funny, because I don't think many of you actually KNOW what I do lol.  I don't talk about it, and it's always funny when people tell me what they think I do for a living.  So today, I'll fill you in.  

Many of you know that I had a job in education, that's what my degrees are in, however, I left education in March and started working for a start-up company.  It's a cool concept, we help nonprofits receive donations from regular everyday individuals.  Those individuals then receive discounts from local businesses for their donations to the nonprofits.  Everyone wins!

When I say start-up tho, I mean, I'm the only person in Brooklyn working for this company.  Which means, I make executive decisions about what should be done for the company's success EVERY DAY.  Believe me, when I started the job, I had no idea that was going to be my task, but I truly believe that God does everything for a reason, so I accepted this challenge gracefully! 

When I say challenge, I mean CHALLENGE.  So now, not only am I trying to manage my own career as an artist, now the success of an entire start-up is dependent on my efforts and my decisions.  At first, it was really overwhelming, and I honestly wasn't sure how well I would do, but THIS WEEK, I had an incredible breakthrough.  Right now, my job is to get people to sign up for our service.  I made three sales this week, and have made at least one sale every week for the past four weeks.  That wasn't the breakthrough. The breakthrough was the feeling I had about my job. 

For the first time in my life, I see how the job I'm doing for money relates to my career as a musician! To be building two companies from the ground up, and seeing the effects of what happens when one company is in a different phase of development than my music career.  I see how this company being a few phases above mine, allows me to see what will happen when I have a product that's ready to be sold! I have NEVER had that in my life.  

Work and music have always been two completely separate entities.  Neither of which have I ever been able to transfer skills between.  SURE, I used what I learned from my students to interpret things, and often I was inspired by them, but the skills I had as a teacher did not compliment my music career.  Nor did working as a counselor.  But running a business directly correlates as I'm learning to run my own business as Geminelle the artist.  

So I've reached a level of extreme confidence in the path that I'm on, and for that I am grateful.  

It's funny. You tell yourself, you're not cut out for something and suddenly you're excelling at it.  I guess that's why it's important to try new things, and to not step on your own toes before you've allowed yourself to walk into a new situation.  

In all honesty, having a company in my hands scared the hell out of me.  I remember thinking about all the what ifs, none of which were, "what if I do well, what if I succeed".  

Somewhere in that fear, I had convinced myself I was going to fail, and was already contemplating my escape plan to the next job.  But I prayed about it, I thought realllllly hard about it, and I started to piece together parts that made sense from all of the "business" experience I had.  Suddenly, the pieces started coming together.  And FAST.  

Life takes courage.  People fear the unknown but everything is unknown.  There are no guarantees in this life, so sometimes you just have to be bold and go for it.  I'm finding my way, for sure.... And it's taking every ounce of courage I have in me.  

 

An Artist's Struggle

I'm late in delivering this piece to all of you because I really had to process what I was about to say before I said it.  

Let me start this by saying, I thank God DAILY that he gifted me with Music as a source of expression.  I believe it is one of the most powerful means of communication because it is something that all people can experience and appreciate.

This past week, after my spiel on faith, I realized I had a was not as faithful as I thought... 

Money got tight, as usual, and I started working more vigorously to make more money to add to my sense of security.  I was not worried about whether money was going to come, I was certain that it will, that wasn't the issue.  The issue was that I had a desire to make more money so that I could feel more secure.  

Let me count the ways I was trippin' for y'all.  

1.  MONEY DOES NOT EQUAL SECURITY

I know for a lot of us, we feel more secure when we have a cushion of money to fall back on.  When we have a steady paying job, a guaranteed source of income, and a substantial savings.  Up until last week I felt like I needed it! For those just in case moments, for the "what ifs", and the "ah shits...." I think our societal structure is set up that way, and I understand why I and many others find security in money (this piece of paper that holds no real physical value).  We are taught to seek it, attain it, and spend it to attain things.  It pays for food, and shelter, and clothing, all of which are necessities for our survival.  I get it, but a person that is insecure without money will be insecure with money.  A person that is insecure without things will be insecure with things.  A person that is insecure without relationships with be insecure with them.  Our security comes from within.  

2.  I was living in the "What Ifs" of the future rather than taking it one day at a time:

When I think about this momentary relapse I had, where I was frantically seeking ways to make money, I think to myself, "What do I need this extra money for?".  I have a habit of putting aside rent money at the beginning of each month.  I think it's a damn good habit.. I pay my bills when they're due, and consistently add to a savings for investments.  

This month, there were some set backs, nothing major, but my investment money took a hit, and I was left with only rent.  It made me nervous.  I felt like I wouldn't be able to invest in myself, my career, the enhancement of my music, any of that.  My creative-self felt neglected, forgotten, and last in priority, even though my spiritual-self wanted to prioritize the creativity within.  An imbalance formulated, and my security was gone.  I had spent too much time trying to move forward rather than acknowledging that IN THAT VERY MOMENT, I had everything I needed.  

3. I let my lack of security keep me from creating:

This is where I screwed up THEE most.  It took a very encouraging and tough love moment from my man to truly understand why having my security in money was an issue.  He asked me, "what is this money for", I said, "so that I have some cushion", he said "what's the cushion for", I said, "so that I can get back to creating".  WHOA.  

Here I was going to let this invaluable piece of paper stop me from doing what God sent me here to do. Who do I think, I am, letting the worship of money come between me and my God-given birth right? If God is the supreme creator and we are all made in his image then we must continue to create.  

Do what you need to do (make money) to do what you want to do (create).  THIS RIGHT HERE is the root of my issue, entirely.  And I know MANY OTHER ARTISTS face the same struggle! It is difficult to create when you have to worry about paying rent, bills, and maintaining and managing your artist-self.  Art takes TIME.  And if you haven't yet made it to the point where your art is sustaining you, then you're balancing your artist time with the work that supports you... Which is me right now.  It's a balance that is devastatingly difficult at times.  

Even so, it's a balance I'm figuring out.  And I can only figure it out one day at a time.  And it's only a struggle if I allow it to be! 

So until I can say I can sustain myself off of my work with music, I will just have to work harder and smarter.  And that I'm ok with.... 

I already have big plans for the next 90 days.  I can't wait to see how much I evolve by the end of it... 

Faith is the Common Denominator

I've been feeling really spiritually sound lately so I thought I'd share that with you all.  

It's been an interesting month. 

My month started with news of the loss of my good friend.  Perhaps one of the most unexpected deaths of my life thus far.  I suppose death is mostly unexpected, but you never think you'll receive news of losing a friend who is the same age as you.  Not when you're 27.  And not when that person was a healthy and happy individual.  It wakes you up.  

All month, there have been obstacles thrown in my way, mostly financial. Unlike most instances where money is an issues, I've been in this place of sincere peace about my current financial situation.... I don't wonder anymore if and when I'll have enough money.  I don't question if things are going to be alright... I know they are. Instead I take each day at a time.  That's the only thing I can do. 

I think the only reality of this life is that we are not in control of anything.  And at any moment, everything we have, everything we've worked for, can be snatched up from underneath us and we could be left with nothing.  For whatever reason that doesn't scare me... It calms me... It let's me know that everything is temporary.  The good, the bad, the uncertainty... Is temporary. 

I'm so motivated by that.  If every instant, every moment, every experience is fleeting, than the only thing we can do is take that instant, moment, and experience for what it is.  And make the best out of it.  

I think we let our expectations get in the way of allowing ourselves to enjoy this life thoroughly.  I see it all the time.  We have expectations of our relationships, our careers, our passions... We want things to work and move a certain way, and then when they don't, we become disappointed at the outcome.  

As of lately, I haven't been walking into anything with any expectations.  Sure, I still have things I want to achieve, that doesn't change.  But rather than putting expectations into something, I just put in the work.  I know God will meet me where I need to be... The crazy thing is, because I don't have a particular expectation now, things have been exceeding what I would have normally expected lol.  It's funny... 

Life is soooooo short... We have to live with the attitude that all things will work out, or they won't, or we'll be so caught up in the idea of them "not working" that we'll fail to enjoy the positives in each situation we encounter. 

You are the ruler of your own universe, your brain, your emotions, your actions.  Other than that, you don't control shit, so don't try to.  Life will throw you curveballs, tests, all kinds of obstacles... You can focus your energy on that, or you can choose to focus your energy on all of the wins. The progress you're making as a person, the closer you're getting to achieving your goals... How much less fearless you are than yesterday.. How much more experienced you are.  How much more comfortable you're becoming with yourself... These are all of the beautiful things God gives us to celebrate our lives... But all in all, it requires faith.  Faith in yourself, and faith in your God.  

There was a time where I thought controlling my own universe meant I was in control of everything.  I know better now. It means that I control how I perceive my universe.. My odds of succeeding at that are so much higher than anything else... So I breathe.  I spend the first few moments of the morning in silence.  I pray, I write... And then I start my day.  This routine is what reminds me to stay balanced.  That, I can never give up on.  And when things "go wrong" I remind myself that I'm on purpose, which means everything else that happens is on purpose too.  So how can I be mad at that? 

Meet me at the Crossroads...

Lately I've been feeling inadequate. I learned that after a sleepless night, an argument with my man that I blew way out of proportion, a 5am run to nowhere and an hour long walk back to my apartment while the city slept, and I finally had a second to think. I am insecure right now, and I'm not quite sure why, and I don't know how to fix it.   

People keep saying to blame retrograde. A part of me really wants to bu

Long Week

Listen.  Imma be 100% real with y'all.  I had a ROUGH ass week.  I lost a homie. I've never lost a homie before..  

Yesterday I got drunk for the first time in a really long time. I hated it. Looking back, I see how this entire week I intoxicated myself to not have to think about it. I was trying to numb the sadness. I see how ridiculous that is now. I guess we all mourn differently.  

One thing that keeps me going is how full of a life my friend lived... It's motivating as hell. All week I've been working on my music.. I'm excited to be back doing something I love. Soooooo this week I'll be releasing a beat project that I recorded during this time that I took to reflect and process the death of my friend. I think he would have wanted that. Look out for "In The Loop" this week.