Fresh Face...

It's crazy how a person can transform in just a month when you take certain barriers away. 

Today is the 31st, the last day of my "no-makeup fast".  I had the intention to give my face the space to breathe and had hopes of curing my acne once and for all.... My face definitely had the chance to breathe, and my acne did calm down, but not as I had hoped or expected.  I guess this is just another lesson in patience.  

On a forever positive note, I learned much more about myself than I had anticipated.  For one, I'm a lot more self-conscious than I allow myself to believe.  In the first couple of weeks without make-up, I felt uncomfortable going out places because I wasn't "dolled up".  I avoided clubs and bars, parties, overall social gatherings where I felt like I'd be seen in the public eye "looking a mess".  

It made me ask myself, "Who am I doing this for? Why do I feel so strongly the need to be 'made up'?" 

Society has placed a lot of pressure on women to look a certain way, dress a certain way, and represent femininity in a certain way. 

For a big portion of my adolescence, people asked me if I was gay because I rarely wore make up, and would dress comfortably in "boys clothes".  That was just how I felt the most comfortable.  And honestly, I always thought I was a pretty girl.  

In high school, I started really digging into make-up. I became really good at doing my own make-up, mostly because of hula shows, and music performances, and for awhile, it was fun for me... it was art.... Later it started to become a crutch.  I didn't like the way my face looked without it... So I started waking up extra early to apply foundation, eye liner, blush, mascara, and gloss so that I could be the "prettier" version of myself.  

Even in my lazier days, when I would just put on eye liner and mascara, and fill in my eye brows, I couldn't go anywhere without it.  Not to work, not to school, a bare face was my house face. 

This article isn't in any way to shame women who wear make up, but I encourage you to ask yourself, "who are you doing it for".  There was a time when I was applying make up because I liked it, enjoyed the craft of painting a face... later, I did it because of how I looked to other's.  That's when I did it for the wrong reasons, in my opinion.  

This month was so liberating.  To wake up, clean my face, get dressed, and start my day.... To rub my eyes without smearing make up, to sweat and not worry about what I now looked like or if the make up was running. To go places and not care what I looked like... To regain the comfort I had in my own skin, once before.  To care for my face naturally.  

Another thing I appreciated about this month... All the unwanted "cat-calling" faded.. People who wanted to talk to me, they didn't treat me like a piece of meat... They sought after the core of me, my spirit, who I was... And when they did, they found out I had a boyfriend, wasn't interest, but still had good qualities about me that made for good conversation, and could potentially lead to business relationships later in life.. It was refreshing.  For that ALONE, I would quit wearing make-up forever. 

When I first wrote my "No Make-Up Today" post, a lot of people offered to help me with my acne issues, so that I could still wear make-up.  At first it was about that, but when I realized how uncomfortable I was without make-up, I realized it had to be something much bigger than that.  To limit myself from having fun and going out because I wasn't all made up, that's insane.  To feel uncomfortable walking into this world with my God-given face, that's crazy.. I'm regaining comfort of self, and that's what matters, physically and spiritually..

Now, I'm focused on health above appearance. I'm focused on comfort of self, over appearance.  I don't give a shit about appearance beyond what I think looks good to me.  And if I can't look at myself in the mirror and think, man, I am beautiful, then there's more work to be done internally... But for now, I feel pretty damn fly. 

I keep thinking, "hmmmm maybe tomorrow, I'll put some make-up on to compare how I feel about it now", we'll see.  Until then, I think my face will continue this vacation.

 

 

California World

I can admit now, after nearly a year of living in New York, I've been hating on it.  It's so easy to do.  New York is heart-wrenchingly annoying, year round.  There is always something to complain about, and people take every opportunity to do just that, complain.  It's really overwhelming at first, gradually you become numb to it.  

Coming back from San Diego this time around, I left a lot more motivated than before.  I see, now, how tools I'm gaining here in New York are beneficial to the people in my hometown.  A lot of them are subtle, but effective... Similarly, the way my people are growing in San Diego, grounds me.  It reminds me of my roots.  Both are necessary.  There is a balance between them.

When you find a place where your spirit can comfortably grow at a rapid pace, it's exhilarating.  Whether you've fallen in love, or found God, the adrenaline is far too dope to pass up, and we linger in that space as long as we can.  Sometimes failing to move forward because of it.  

I love California with all my heart, but after a certain point, I was just comfortable there.  I never felt like I was trying hard enough, and felt like my character hadn't grown much either because of it.  I started to feel naïve, and though I wanted to consider myself, "worldly", I hadn't been enough places or seen enough things to truly own that term.  

I didn't understand the severity of my bubble.  

I think this can be said of the way many hometowns feel to people... Nearly suffocating, yet so liberating at the same time. I'm specifically speaking to my experience growing up in Cali.  

I feel like I was most impacted by my perception of what other's thought about me based on appearance alone.  California can be very "Hollywood" when it comes to the aesthetic people are drawn to.  California, is without doubt, home to a lot of beautiful people, many of them entertainers.  As we are all products of our environment, I'm currently unlearning what that has meant for me.  

For the majority of my young artist adulthood, I had made myself to be what other's have told me to be, to sing and dance on cue wearing whatever it is they wanted of me and being told what would and would not make me successful.  

Brainwashed. 

Now as a person who is coming into her own confidence, I can see how that frame of thinking is ineffective.  To constantly worry about pleasing others for your success... 

I've recently undergone a lot of physical changes. I cut my hair super short, stopped wearing make-up, and started dressing more comfortably for myself.  In doing so, I began to realize how little my appearance actually mattered to me.  Sure, I still want to be cute, but I want to be comfortable so that I can radiate the confidence that makes me feel cute.  

I started to think about what "beautiful" really looked like, felt like to me... I soon realized that I didn't really know.  My perceptions of beauty have been controlled by other's perceptions.  What media thinks is beautiful, what the popular boys are attracted to, what the successful people look like. 

Living in New York, I've found it's quite different.  The weather conditions, hot or cold, humble you down to human.  There's no time to be cute... No 6-inch heels, or pounds of make-up, and the people who are aiming to be cute, often look ridiculously uncomfortable and sweaty... 

I see people differently now.  I don't look at them for their appearance, I look at them for their spirit... I try to see past the aesthetics, and I hope people see past them when they look at me too... It helps me to understand them better.  After all, looks can be deceiving.  

This month, without make-up, has been so revealing to me! At first, I didn't feel like going anywhere in the public eye, no bars, or night-time events, or anything that would force me to fit in with everyone else who was uncomfortably dressed.  I didn't want to dress-up too much, because I felt like my face wouldn't match my outfit.  On the flip-side, my face feels so free and through this fast, I've grown to love it as is much more than I ever have before and can comfortably say, I feel so beautiful. 

Up until this point in my life, I haven't looked in the mirror without some sort of critique for myself.  Those critiques became the voice of my consciousness, often making it uncomfortable to navigate in every day life.  

For the first time in my life, I don't give a damn what people think about me, how I look to others, or what opinions people have about the moves that I make and because of that, I'm more confident as a person and in my womanhood.  This journey is about allowing God to come into my life and having acceptance for myself through that.. 

New York, if nothing else, has taught me that.  And that's enough! 

 

 

Put Ya Money Where Ya....

I've been thinking a lot about money lately, and how where we spend our money really does define what we value.  Let's be real for a second, I'm broke right now. So I'm really aware of what it is that I'm spending my money on.  For instance, I will spend more money on a quality/healthy meal than I will some new clothes, or a pair of comfortable, durable shoes before I look for something cute and flimsy. And yes, I realize how old that makes me sound, but it's true... And I'm still cute :)

It's just, I don't have a lot of extra to spend, so I'm forced to choose how I spend more wisely. I make investments now, and think about what is most essential before I go spending frivolously.   

My homegirl, Sasha, just posted this video, "Learn the Secret Key to Afford Traveling", and it really got me thinking about what it is that I value.  

As I'm getting older, I realize that mobility is my biggest concern.  Living across country from my family, I'm constantly worried about whether or not I'll be able to make it home for special occasions or even in case of emergency.  When I look at my bank account right now, I can't say that I could! 

Let me stop right now and say, I am extremely thankful for my friends and family who provided me the financial ability to get home this month. After my emotional breakdown about being homesick, they moved mountains.... Not everyone has that type of support system, and without the excess money, it helps to have a surplus of love and support! 

This opportunity to go home gave me some insight into something I think my circle is starting to realize... Life is too short not to spend time with the people you love.  

I think about how the majority of my family "reunions" have all been during funerals.... when someone is always missing, and how quickly people will buy a plane ticket for someone's home-going, but while we're all still living we postpone our visits over and over.  It saddens me. 

Living in New York has taught me exactly how much financial stability equates to freedom, but more importantly, it's taught me about what I value by what I choose to spend my money on.  I think about my next move, my next desire, my next investment all before purchasing something for the now, and consider what is most important, what will give me the most bang for my buck.... Most often, I choose experiences over anything else.  After all, those are the things that add to my quality of life.. 

So as I write to you from my childhood room in San Diego, I remain thankful for the opportunity to be home, be mobile, and to be able to continue to work and earn money for my next move... That too is a blessing I must acknowledge... I'm thankful to be able to spend Mother's Day with my family, and my niece's birthday with her, to surprise her before her party started... To see my newly-wed sisters and share in their happiness with them.  To spend quality time with my best-friends... To be inspired by my city.  To breathe fresh air again! 

I have so much to be thankful for, and the deeper I get into understanding my values, the more I see God blessing me to keep those close. 

Love, health, art, community. Freedom. Life. 

No Make-Up Today...

A lot of you that follow me, whether via this blog or on social media, have probably noticed that I do a lot of things to challenge myself.  Fast from meat, or a 90 day fitness challenge, or no social media for a month.  Most recently I did a 30 day fast from cheese, which was extremely difficult but very very necessary.  

I always love the results that come from these challenges.  They're always so revealing.  For example, when I fasted from meat, I realized how much I really love vegetarian meals and how little I actually needed meat to feel full... I started to realize when it was that I really enjoyed meat and when I didn't.  I loved the way my body felt, and how energized I was, and it was a really great experience learning new recipes that I have since forgotten. Sigh.  

My 90-day fitness challenge taught me that I HATE repetition.  I didn't like waking up at the same time to go to the same place to do the same workouts.  What I loved about the challenge was how my body adjusted to these workouts... So even though I complained, I did get some pretty amazing results.  

The cheese fast that I just did showed me how habitually I eat cheese.  It's actually kind of ridiculous.  I eat cheese strictly out of habit and not out of desire, I have now made that adjustment.  

So with that most recent fast finishing, I started to think about what other ways I can challenge myself and hence improve myself... I realize for myself, I consider myself pretty physically strong and fit, so I don't work out consistently, which as I'm growing older is starting to catch up with me.  So I decided I would commit to 31 days of activity.  Every day in May.  That challenge didn't seem like it was enough of a challenge for me, so I started to think deeper. 

I looked at myself in the mirror.  I mean all of me.  I examined my face, my hair, my body, and looked at what was really going on.  I've always had pretty bad acne, well, post high school at least, and I've tried just about everything to make the acne go away.  Like yo-yo diets, the acne always comes back... I realized the one thing I haven't changed since high school is how frequently I wear make-up.  And I really don't wear a lot of make-up on a regular day.  I fill in my eyebrows and I wear a bronzer or blush, and that's the extent of it.  But I think my face really just needs a break! 

I've gone natural with a lot of things, natural hair products, natural soaps, and I can feel and see a difference in my body, yet I still wear make-up with ingredients I can't even pronounce... No wonder I still have acne! 

I didn't think that it would, but the thought of not wearing make-up scared me! I immediately thought about how other people would view me, or how my skin would look in pictures or how I would look next to my beautiful friends... If I could compete or stand out or be beautiful without it.  I thought, "would people think I'm gay, I mean, my hair is short and I dress like a tomboy a lot", and "how old will people think I am" and then I got disgusted with how caught I was in other people's opinions of how I looked! Who gives a damn?! 

We live in a generation of people who are constantly criticizing the next person in order to avoid their own issues with self... I can't let those criticisms get to me... 

I've always been in the spotlight, and that has taught me how to make my face presentable for the camera, for the stage, for the club, for a fancy dinner, a wedding, the whole nine.  But I have no idea how to care for my face in the same way! My God-given, perfectly crafted face. That's a shame.  

As much as this challenge scares me, I know that I will come out a better person because of it.  It's just another step in embracing myself and unlearning societal norms of what it means to be a woman. 

Penultima

Life has been a serious whirlwind.  I'm assuming this is what evolution must feel like.  It's insane.  Since my last blog, things have changed tremendously, as things do in 4 months time.  I'm grateful to say that I am no longer "unhappy" as I was when I last updated you all.  

First let me just say, I'm thankful that you've continued to rock with me even in my absence. 

March 27th was my last day working my 9-5 job.  I took a part-time job that provided me just shy of rent and decided that that was my way out.  As you've probably gathered by now, I take these types of leaps often.  I do it because I truly believe that when you leap, and follow your intuitive calling, God provides a net that will catch you.  "Leap, and the net will appear". 

I had these hopes of jumping directly into my new role with ease, focusing my energy on music, She Is Soul, and supporting my man with his business, TunnelVision.  God of course ALWAYS has different plans.  

It's been just shy of a month since I left my position now, I went into this transition fasting to have clarity of mind, and in that stumbled into the whirlwind of evolution I was talking about!

Before I left my job, I had it all figured out.  I mapped out my entire week for weeks in advance.  I knew what I would do at every hour to maximize my time and maximize my energy and hustle. What I didn't expect was the amount of time it would take me to process this transition.  In my first week, I slept damn near all day, everyday.  My dreams, traumatic scenarios from my previous job, they kept me up at night, causing me to sleep during the day (I had to ask people if it was possible for me to have PTSD lol). I had trouble adjusting to my new job even with the hours being cut in half, I still had trouble completing my hours! I didn't accomplish anything else that I had set out to accomplish.  

I was hard on myself at first, then I realized that transitions that are as big as this take time to settle into.  

I honestly thought I would be much happier, I mean, I left the job that I felt was bringing me down.  I should be happier, right? At the end of the day it was deeper than that.  I still didn't have everything I felt I needed, and I left a really secure position for a part-time job with no guarantee that hours would increase right before tax season (clearly I owed money lol).  To top it all off, in my new found free-time, I really missed my family and friends from San Diego and became incredibly homesick.  I fell into the darkest hole I've fallen into in a LONG TIME.  

I think that moving to New York in a way hardened my heart.  The constant connection I had in San Diego, I don't get here.  In fact, it's hard to catch up with anyone! On top of that, the commute to and from work, working half the day, on the train the other half, and hustling in between, I found it hard to worry about anything but staying focused.  Now, I had time to process all of the things that I was missing that I didn't think about when I left my hometown of 26 years. (Crazy that it took me this long to realize).  

I titled this piece "Penultima" because it reminds me of my favorite childhood long-jump coach, Coach Steele.  He would always say, "You gotta get DOWN to get UP!".  Obviously a coaching strategy for what would become the greatest long jumpers in California, but also a beautiful metaphor for this transition I've been in.  

It took an EMOTIONAL BREAKDOWN for me to realize that things could only get better from here! And WOW, have they!! I literally keep turning around to blessing after blessing and I'm humbled and soooooo thankful for the lows that have only become highs literally within a week's time. 

As a human being, I sometimes neglect my feelings in order to get by, but as an artist, one created in His image, I have to remember to FEEL.  It's what helps me evoke feelings in others! 

God breaks us down so that we have to depend on Him for support.  I never allow myself to be weak until I can't handle it anymore.  I don't surrender the way that I should.  So God will put test after test in my way until I do.  I still have so much to learn.  But I TRUST.  I have no reason not to.  God knows better than I.  

Restless...

I've been extremely quiet lately. 

I've been trying to figure out why. 

At first, I thought I was scared to write.  Scared of what might come out, what test God was going to give me next, scared of all the tasks he would ask of me. 

But, honestly, I'm far beyond that point in my growth.  I embrace the tests, the challenges, the tasks because I know that His assignments are divine training in order to receive greater gifts.  I haven't been afraid of His voice for awhile.  I welcome it.  So that couldn't be the case. 

If it isn't fear, than what is it?

Why do I avoid picking up that pen?

My significant other, bless him, he's been asking me all day if I'm ok, and what's on my mind.  I honestly had nothing to say. Finally I said, "I'm not happy with where I'm at in life.  I'm also tired of complaining about it."

In many ways, I hope this is my final complaint...

Lemme just say this... I'm fully aware that I am extremely blessed! And I want to note that 2014 has been one of the best years of my life.  I am also aware that there is a lot of other shit going on in the world that make my issues far less significant. These things I'm aware of, which is why I feel so strongly about the next few things I'm going to say...

When I consider everything that's happening in the world, I'm so quickly directed to what I'm doing about it.  When I'm honest with myself about where my energy is going, the truth is that the majority of it goes toward a 9-5 that I frankly don't give a damn about. 

I feel restless because I know how implemental I can be in making change in a world that so desperately needs it, but instead I'm sitting behind a desk collecting data to save an organization that needs to be reset anyway.  It's disheartening. 

I hate admitting that I'm unhappy because I feel like I shouldn't have any reason to be, but I am, and for right now, I can't help it. 

Everyday, I think about ways to get out of my current situation. 

My efforts have felt futile. 

And it drives me crazy because I know I should at least be thinking about something more, but I'm constantly preoccupied by something that is not aligned with my purpose and I feel so stuck. 

I keep praying for a way out, and I know my God will provide.  So I'll be patient. 

Until then, I'll continue to focus my energy on the things that are within my control. 

Abundance. Faith. Stillness. Prayer. Meditation. Patience. Gratitude. Love.

I'll be alright in no time. 

Interconnected?

I’m coming up on a month of having fasted from social media.  Apparently I’m not as popular as I thought I was.. It’s kinda sad.

My phone is quiet all day unless I initiate a conversation with someone.  I would almost even consider myself lonely.  I sometimes find myself clicking through my phone looking for something to do, someone to interact with, and thinking of something witty and interesting to share with.... well, I guess myself.

Somehow, the comfort of immediate access to a person’s photo book, sporadic thoughts, and reposts of the things they like and/or find interesting make us feel connected to them -- until you see that person on the street and they hardly recognize you..

 

Truth is, a lot of us are “lonely”

We think we’re connecting with people but often we’re not. We tend to only know the things about people that they allow us to assume with the images and words they put out

I’m not all anti-social media, don’t get me wrong.  It definitely has a lot of benefits! I’ve connected with some great people and have randomly made friendships with others whom I’d met because of a good hash tag and similar interests..

It’s a great tool, but in my absence from it, I’ve become blatantly aware of how much we abuse this tool.  We keep it from doing the thing it was initially intended for. Connecting.

I sometimes have to redirect conversations now - saying things like, “let me take your number instead”

I find myself explaining why I don’t have social media - the concept is so foreign to our generation..

As an artist I understand the need for social media and how it expands my brand and allows people access to my craft, but aside from that, it just seems like a good way to distract us from what we are actually trying to achieve, a genuine connection with people with whom we would like to know better.

I have to work extra hard to connect with others now - make the initial point of contact - and in a brand new city where I’m starting over to make friends, its a bit awkward to reach out to someone I hardly know - it’s like dating without sex as a potential incentive...

But I can see how not having social media allows me to come into these new relationships with no preconceived notion of who that person is! No images to create my own personal assessment of how “cool” that person is.  No choice quotes that “define their character”, no knowledge of them aside from what they choose to share with me in person… It’s as if the rose tinted frames have been removed.  And without the constant reminder of my existence, I have truly learned who my real friends are.  Who cares far beyond my posts and statuses.  It's allowed me to separate the acquaintances from the friends and the potential business partners. That may seem negative, but it is allowing me to simplify my life.. I almost don't want to go back..

But realistically, I know what social media is doing for my brand.

So I guess I’ll go back.. Sigh..

It’ll be nice to be reintegrated into the world, I suppose.  I have been so beautifully out of the loop.. For now, I’ll continue to enjoy the last of this journey and use it as it was intended… to truly connect and focus..

The Premiere of Stoop 55

I am so impressed by the people that are within my close circle, it's amazing how talented everyone is.

Seeing this video manifest into what it is has been so amazing!

Stephen Small-Warner and Gavin Webb, thank you so much for putting in your time and effort to inspire the world through your artistry and the art of others! You two are awesome.

This interview was shot at such an interesting time in my life and for me to be able to see that first hand, I think that's a privilege most don't ever experience.

Without further adieu.... Stoop 55!

Stoop 55

Dear Dad,

In a world where good fathers are hard to come by, you did your best to lead without an example of your own.

Sacrificed every bit of time you had to keep our family safe and warm and fed.

So many times I've complained about the dad that you weren't without ever acknowledging the man that you are.

The man that taught me how to be an independent woman, who showered me with love every chance you got even it was in between work or sleep, the man that made sure I knew my worth in a world where so many have assumed they already knew it.

It's a blessing to have you!

 

I look at the woman that I am today and I am astonished at all of the things I've learned from you.

I am proud to wear your last name as my own. You are loved and respected by so many, and as long as I can I will fulfill the beautiful legacy that you've begun.

I thank you for your support and for giving me everything you felt like a father should give their daughter.

As I except my Queendom, I look up to the man who made it all possible.  My first King, my father, my friend, and one heck of a man.

I love you, Dad!

Wake up, Gem.

I've been terrible, I know..  I haven't said a word in a couple of months.. It's not that I haven't been experiencing anything, in fact I would say it's the direct opposite of that.  I've been experiencing so much, I don't even know where to start in discussing it.  Bear with me as I unpack and unfold the many boxes I've had locked in the attic of my mind.  It should be an interesting journey.

This resonates with me, so I'll speak to it.  I've been seeing myself in a different light lately.  In fact, I'm not the same person I used to be.  So now the new me looks at the old me and pities the person that lives there.  So broken, she didn't even realize it.

I had this friend once, perhaps one of the most beautiful souls I've ever met.  She taught me love in a way I had never seen in a person.  In fear, and in selfishness, I hurt her in a way that has been unforgivable on my end.  I made her feel as if she didn't matter in my life, that is far from the truth.  At her feet, I learned that neglect is the highest form of punishment for me, not to have a chance to speak out or to be heard... to apologize, sincerely.  I lost my mind.  And because I felt she wouldn't listen, I got loud.  Bore my soul on the internet.  How immature.. I figured if she wouldn't listen to me directly, perhaps she'd hear me crying out if I screamed loud enough in the distance.  Ask me how that worked out... Not well at all.  The entire time, I felt myself backsliding, slipping further and further away and just allowing myself to slide.

This part of my life SUCKS, but had it never happened I would probably continue on hurting people in the same manner.  I learned to think before I act.. And to lead with love.  I know now that love is humble.  Accepts the space that souls need to heal, which includes listening to my own soul.  Sometimes stepping away is all that's needed.  I made things worse for myself.  I felt it then, and know it now.

Progress is one of the most beautiful options that God gives us.  Yes, I said option.  I do believe it's a choice.  There's something unsettling about comfort.  That sounds like an oxymoron, but I couldn't see myself lying oblivious to the beautiful obstacles that God often gives us..  For me, anyway.  What do we learn when the road has already been paved for us?  It takes making mistakes to truly be able to see what needs to be corrected, perseverance to know what triumph feels like, and a few scars and bruises to remind you of the battles you've won.

Do I wear my scars with pride?  Heck no, not always.  But I am trying.  And I am confident enough to stare the old me in the face and tell her that she no longer has a hold of me.  She doesn't taint my thoughts the way she used to, or taunt me with the comfort of her arms.  Now it's just a matter of exposing her so that she doesn't fester and rule from the darkness of my embarrassment.

It is so easy not to die at the hands of yourself.  Morbid as it may seem, you have to kill the memories that hold you back.  Yesterday is so insignificant.  Hurt people, hurt people.  It's a relentless cycle.  Sometimes we're so hurt we can't even feel it anymore.  Wounded and numb for the sake of surviving.  Neuro-system shifts into autopilot.  In my final plummet, I woke up.  From now on, I'll navigate out of the storms in manual.

Time

Earlier today, I was stopped by a young man as I was entering the subway.. He asked me if I knew anyone looking for a job, confidently I said "no", although I'm currently "unemployed" myself. He asked again, what about yourself? And proceeded to offer me a job, as a telemarketer. He went on about how it was easy money, sit at a desk and answer calls all day.. I said, "that's not the type of job I'm looking for". He was appalled, saying, well are you looking for a job or no?!

It made me realize how little the idea of easy anything appeals to me anymore.

Recently I had my morals challenged by the temptation of instant gratification, the piece of resistance that has the biggest hold on me. I've often put off making a change because I knew I could try again tomorrow. "Just this one time" mentality. The same mentality that has caused me to sacrifice myself and the feelings of the people that I love on numerous occasions.. Friends, significant others, people who look up to me, acquaintances. What's worse is I hardly felt remorse in those moments. Selfishly, I did what I felt like would get me ahead in a game of strategy that I was playing against myself. No one ever wins.

I'm proud to say I'm not the girl that I was anymore, the challenge of temptation is greeted by thorough conversation in my head before a quick "screw it".. I contemplate and weigh the options, and I will say, I'm making much wiser decisions now.

I will say that I am fortunate enough to have some amazing people in my life with whom I've been able to process these truths. Not many people can say that. Family, friends, loved ones. No judgment, just an open ear and if need be a shoulder and a hug, which is often needed.

Time has a funny way of molding you, if you allow it to. Indeed that's the only way things have ever changed, over time.

Although, "unemployed", what I do with my time is so much more valuable than anything money can buy.. We work to attain freedom, but I already have freedom building my career as an artist and educator. Focusing my time on what I want to accomplish, which leaves little room for error in my opinion, so my focus has to be on the right things, which often means making good moral decisions so that I'm not haunted by the consequences of my bad choices. I think imma be alright, after all.

Someone once told me that making the right decision in the midst of small moral dilemmas is how one strengthens their character to make the right decisions when faced with much larger dilemmas. That same person also told me that a step to the side when you're trying to pursue your purpose could be the reason why you never fully fulfill your purpose. In this time I have too much to lose and so much to gain than to be distracted by instant gratification. I am trying to shape a character that'll last... Longevity..

Float On

Yesterday, I was blessed with the opportunity to perform on a stage pretty much as long as I wanted. The spot was located in a great place and the people left the stage to me and left me a tip jar to use as well. So generous. The day was successful for me. I equated the amount of money I made in 2 hours to the same amount I would have made in a day working for Concorde, which in many ways validated my "worth" as an artist to me. It let me know that I have a chance at surviving on the road. So yesterday was a big day for me.

I have this pattern of being completely worn out the day after a performance. So today was a rough day. Daylight savings threw me off, last night I drank just a tad too much, and the day seemed to drag against everything I was telling myself I needed to accomplish.

I woke up late, or according to the new Spring clock, by the time I was ready to get up, I was beyond starving. Sluggish, because that's what alcohol does to the human body, and without breakfast groceries (and I'm spoiled to wanting to breakfast FIRST). Anyway, after nourishing my body, I immediately felt sick and tired all over again. Against everything my hustling nature told me, my body needed rest. Of course I felt guilty because this physical pain had to be self inflicted. I must have wasted half the day just trying to recover.

As the sun started to settle into the New Orleans horizon, I started thinking to myself it was far too late for me to be on the streets at this point (these streets are dangerous for traveling young woman). Assessing the level of my physical strength I knew even if I needed at any point to fight for my life it would be too much of an effort so I decided to look into something a little more mellow for the evening.

This moment allowed me to recall a conversation I had had with my brother just a few weeks ago regarding this entire adventure. We talked about audience. In my humblest ego, I remember telling him I feel destined to reach a large audience. He said something along the lines of, we think bigger of ourselves than what God intends of us, sometimes our audience isn't as large as we think.. I think part of me was offended, the other half of me understood that an audience of one is sometimes all you need to reach that day.

 

So here I am, now, at one of the coolest coffee shops I've ever been to sharing my talent with a bunch of people who are also sharing themselves. Although it took me half the day to get up and go, I wouldn't have made it to this open mic under any other circumstance. I've hung out with locals, talked to travelers and heard so many amazing stories about the "journey" that life has to offer.

Although the street scene would have been the more "lucrative" route, it takes a lot out of an artist to try and capture an audience, draw them in, keep them, and hope they leave with something you've said (or leave a tip).

While yesterday was a successful day, financially, it did take a lot out of me to be that vulnerable in front of so many. Today I was refueled by a ton of vulnerable artist working at being better artist, giving themselves to me equally as much as I had given myself to them.

Sometimes you have to listen to your body as much as you listen to your heart and mind. Although I'll never know what would have happened had I gone somewhere else today, I do not doubt that this is what I needed.

My grandmother had a bunch of sayings that my parents and aunt and uncles would often pass on to us. The one that I recall most vividly is, as long as you have a full tank of gas, you'll never be lost. I figure as long as I'm breathing, I'll never be lost.

Our paths are still being defined, even those moments that seem like set backs give us opportunity to BeGreat>.

Never lost

Consolidating

Four bags and a week and a half into my trip I realized I have too much stuff. The inconvenience of being a musician with equipment and having to travel for a month with it all.... someone please spare me. Honestly, it hasn't been that difficult because I've had access to transportation and there have been moments where someone is able to help me carry my load, I thank God for that, but I also see the need to take proactive measures to spare my body from harm.

Leaving Austin, I carried my estimated to be 60 lbs load about half a mile from my hostel to the bus stop. Man, talk about breaking a sweat even though it was 30 degrees. I promise you, no amount of exercise can match what it means to actually be living and traveling by backpack, big ass backpack at that.

I've been settled into New Orleans for about a week now, feel like this is a good place for me to get grounded so I decided to stay here the longest. It's been great because I have access to a house, vehicle, wifi, and laundry. I hardly feel like a hippy. Having to survive off of ebt, it's been nice to have a kitchen, it forces me to eat right rather than eat out. And the culture is so rich here that I feel comforted and welcomed by nearly everyone I've met, makes for easy going conversation and a lot of learning.

Anyway, because I've been here for a week I had an opportunity to repack my bags and try to reorganize everything. When I first set out on this trip, I packed the "bare essentials", or so I thought, but as the load began weighing on my shoulders I had to figure out how to best minimize all that I was carrying. After recalling watching my father pack and looking up some pretty cool YouTube videos, I found a solution that worked for me and consolidated my bags from four to three. And although I have most of the same stuff, the weight distribution makes it so much easier to carry everything. What a relief!

What is cool and significant about consolidating was that I began to realize how little relevance some items had. Something I thought I'd depend on for the month but hadn't used in a week, I overestimated the value of that product. Not being surrounded by irrelevance makes you realize what is actually relevant to you.

Life is similar to that. We hold on to baggage. Sometimes physical, sometimes emotional. I'm learning in this journey that I cannot hold on to too much baggage or the weight will be unbearable, it'll slow me down and keep me from progressing properly.. To truly be minimalist must also mean to roam through life with a clear head and heart and maintain a body that's not going to fall apart anytime soon. That's necessary, and people often overlook that. And going back to weight distribution, have you ever stopped to assess how well you're balancing your baggage. Are you holding on to things that have no relevance? I know I am.. So as I pack and repack, I also focus and refocus. In every moment I look at the mindset before I act. I've never done that before. This is a big change for me. I am consolidating my life, physically and emotionally, and truly becoming the minimalist I set out to become.

At the end of the day, minimalist to me has meant, God first, me second, and then the rest of the world. I feel good about my decisions, protected by God's grace, and encouraged by the gifts he's given me.

D Madness Project!

What an experience it was being able to perform with D Madness, he's a legend in Austin! If you ask anyone about D Madness, the first thing they'll say is, "you don't know D Madness?" and continue to tell you a story about something crazy they've seen him do. I literally stuck around Austin an extra day just to experience the hype first hand, and man was it worth it! First of all, I've never known anyone to play keys and drums at the same time. Although the keys were all loops, which he creates and records the night before each performance, he's able to manage a multitude of tasks and never misses a beat! On top of that, dude's a beat boxing beast!! I'm talking dj scratching, congo drumming, Bobby McFarrin beast lol. I'm so glad I was able to experience him live.

What I loved most about D Madness was his incredible humility! As if he was surprised the entire town was raving about him! It was pretty sweet.

Some of the little things that also made me happy about the performance... I was called on stage at 1:13 in the morning (my numerical birthday and lucky number), no surprise, and my new friend, CJ who actually assisted in showing me an AMAZING time in Austin asked me to sing about "shadows".. Little did he know I had a whole song on the subject matter! Piece of cake! All in all, Austin just showed me a lot of great energy! The city is so filled with musicians that everyone understands the desire to share their work on stage, and so they encourage you to do so. It was truly beautiful to be engulfed in a culture so full of art and music! I will DEFINITELY be coming back to Austin :)

Be sure to check out D Madness, trust me, you'll enjoy it!

Operation L I V E

In October 2011, I met this woman in New York on a ferry to Staten Island.  She told me her story of how she found God and lives everyday following His direction for her.  Quit a lucrative job working in the financial district, lost her house in Staten Island and now lives on the streets taking each day, one day at a time.  During our conversation, God spoke to her, in that moment, God told her to tell me that I would follow the path that he had laid out for me when I became an adult, she said, give it two years.  That moment replays in my head often.  She said, "your purpose will become clear to you, and I'm sure you'll make the right decision".

I probably spent all of 2013 waiting for a sign, waiting for the moment that would stand out to me so clearly that I knew exactly what I should do.  December 10, 2013, I was laid off from a job that was weighing on my soul, making me calloused, and extremely toxic.  Though I loved my position as an instructor, the atmosphere was so negative, it was hard to see the positives.  I remember threatening to quit weeks before I was laid off, but decided that I would stick around.  What a great relief to find out I was being cut, rather than being a quitter.

With plans in the works to move up to New York, jumping into another full time job didn't seem smart, or practical, or even feasible at the moment.  After being bogged down by such a toxic work environment, I was honestly scathed by the idea of working right away.  THAT was my sign.  The sense of freedom, the way that my mind opened up allowing me to imagine the next steps, all by the way of music, nothing was more clear.  The thing that makes me most certain that I am properly following my direction is how much it scares me... Stepping out, one giant leap of faith to pursue a career in which very few succeed.  On the road with little resources, no itinerary, just a bunch of ideas and built up anxiety knowing that there is something greater out there for me and I MUST find it...

Earlier today, I recalled the conversation I had on the ferry.  The part that stands out most to me was the extreme faith that this woman exuded.  She said, "I follow God's path for me every day in full surrender because every day, He provides for me exactly what I need for that day, nothing more, nothing less, bringing me in contact with the people He wants me to speak to, like you".  I have faith that God will do the same for me.  If He brings you to it, He'll also bring you through it.

So here I go, setting out on a trip unlike any I've ever experienced.  One giant leap, one that I'm not only ready for, but extremely excited aboutI look forward to sharing these experiences with you in detail, pictures, videos, and blogs.