To say I’m sentimental would be a massive understatement. I’m a writer, I hoard the details. Especially the small stuff!
Such as the way a sunset breaks so perfectly into the clouds, like a yolk in slow motion escaping it’s shell. I stand there wondering to myself if it hurts to be torn into with so much beauty, and then I also think to myself….”..isn’t it worth it?” My friend and I just stand in awe, arms and hearts wide open, high above the hills.
In an average day, I photograph about 50 or so moments just like these. It can be something small, like the steam rising from a fresh cup of coffee at 7am, or rain drops clinging to flower petals without waiver. Each drop transparent and perfectly still, as if they are merely an extension of blooming.
I even try to capture the sunlight on my face or legs, but I can never quite capture the warmth or the serenity of that exact moment. I have no intention of appearing vain. I simply crave the opportunity to capture as many of life’s moments as possible.
I believe that moments shared like these make their memory even more powerful. It’s the same as sharing a story, it means more when someone else understands it. When we say something out loud, it makes it all the more real to us. This can also be the most difficult thing to actually do, because if no one ever says it out loud, it’s not real. Right?
That’s the illusion of silence, the empty magic of denial so many of us bury ourselves in day after day. Regardless, when the day is over and the curtains close, the loudest truths are the ones we never acknowledge because they end up controlling us like puppets on a string.
We photograph things I believe to enhance the experience. Memories of experiences are such powerful triggers that they can change a life forever, especially the ones we never want to be reminded of, the bad ones don’t need any souvenirs. They leave their own scars, both unforgettable and transforming.
Terribly inconvenient isn’t it?
If your mind is that powerful in memory, just imagine the data storage that must exist within your heart. The way we make people feel on a daily basis is constantly being uploaded. Your voice, your smile, attitude and actions can create a life changing moment.
This year for me has been a great deal about confidence. Learning to love myself for myself, and that includes ALL of the parts.
They say if you want to know where your heart is, look where your mind wanders when you lay your head down to sleep. These are the things that matter. I’m not talking about the initial anxiety of ” did we lock the door?” Or ” … busy day tomorrow, let me spend an hour counting the list “, but those moments right before you go to sleep. The thoughts that bring you peace, or the thoughts that weigh you down until you surrender. Both are significant.
As these thoughts wave upon you, do try to let the beauty of everything, every moment, break into you perfectly. Cry if you need to. Laugh at the same time. Learn to forgive, even if you’ll never forget. Learn to be honest with yourself, even out loud, especially when it’s an inappropriate truth!
These are just a few things I’m learning to do more of, and I have to admit it’s not all sunsets and rose petals. Sometimes it’s a storm of daggers without any shield, and that’s ok. We can survive the war within ourselves as long as we aren’t the enemy. As long as we wake up and fight, as long as we don’t back down from life. There’s beauty in all of it.
How often do you talk to strangers, or people you see every single day but have no idea who they are?
They travel among us! Elevators, trains, sidewalks, lines at the fair, the grocery store… and yet we almost never have an actual conversation with one another. Sure, there’s the occasional “Good Morning” and my personal favorite, the over enthusiastic “How are you!”. Once upon a time, an actual question, now a 2 second greeting with no actual intention of inquiring as to how you are.
Go ahead, I dare you just once to tell someone how you REALLY are at 7:54am in the elevator as they reach for their cell… You: “I spilled coffee on myself already, but at least I’m not late! Although… I just realized this is a diaper bag I’m carrying and not my purse or briefcase… how are you!” Them: ……………… *shock*
“How Are You” is now a commonly used phrase simply meant to acknowledge your presence as another human being who seems to also have a pulse, with hidden rules of the following limited responses:
- Ignore them (with the exception of a nod)
- “Great!” – In the event you really are feeling great! That worked out well.
- “Good” – automated response ingrained in us by social etiquette; you are good, I am good, we are always good no matter what! Don’t you dare be less than good.
- “I am well, how are you…” *insert half grin*(again, no intention of an actual inquiry here and that person probably won’t respond before they exit your presence moments later…
- “Outstanding!” (For my military peeps) Sometimes I like to use this one just to stir things up a bit. It catches people off guard because it’s way too loud and enthusiastic and almost always makes their eyes pop as if to say “Whoa! Calm down!”
The point is we don’t even know HOW to talk to each other. We know how to Facebook, text all of our problems and feelings, some of us even blog! I know, it’s ridiculous.
What language is this? How can we do a better job to connect with each other when social media is our most common form of communication?
This was on my mind a lot this week with all of the things going on in Houston after the hurricane and flooding. People were doing this strange thing where they reached out to strangers in need. Communicating through volunteerism, monetary donations, compassion, kindness, team efforts. I was impressed, and inspired.
I started thinking about starting a letter project of some sort… and then I discovered that several of these projects already exist!
One that really captured my heart is the “To Love Ourselves” letter project. This particular project is women writing letters to other women of all ages that provide support and encouragement. The way it works is that someone who knows a woman that could use a little extra love and support submits a request for her. The person requesting the letters are asked to tell a little bit about what’s happening to their loved one, what they love most about the person and a few details about their personality. In turn, that request becomes an “Open Request”, and their registered writers or members can send that woman a letter from anywhere in the world.
The letters are addressed to the project directly first for a little proofreading. They actually send the letters to the recipient so it’s anonymous and doesn’t risk that individuals identity. It is a good deed, and it’s well organized.
Yesterday, I sent off my first letter. It was strange at first to hand write something, even stranger to be looking for stamps. What are those?! I usually only have a use for these around the holidays! Still, it felt great! To know that I have the opportunity to brighten someone’s day, to connect with another human being and hopefully let them know they aren’t alone. It’s one of the reasons I continue this blog.
The letter project encourages you to post a picture of your letters and tag them on instagram or other social media to increase awareness, but don’t show the recipients name or crop it out. Here is my first of many:
I would like to start a group that works directly with this project. If you are interested, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you know my digits, use them! This could be a great excuse for us to all gather around the table once in a while and start a real conversation, the kind that travels the world. The kind that inspires and encourages people who need it. The kind that maybe even despite all odds, makes the world a better place.
If it’s not your thing, that’s okay. This might be a little touchy feely for my fellas, but do the world a favor and pick up your phone and call someone tonight. They will probably ask if everything is okay about 20 times, because we rarely call each other anymore, but I think it should be the next retro-trend! Bring it on back like bell bottom jeans or guys with long hair and guitars… (ok, maybe not the bell bottoms!) Although, I hear suede is SO IN right now!
Whatever works for you, try to find your way back to the lost art of conversation, connection and leave a small shadow of hope in someone’s life. Don’t wait to get started, this life is a shorter trip than you think.
More Letter Projects you might be interested in:
Over 2 million people live in the city of Houston, TX recently affected by Hurricane Harvey. My parents grew up here and I still have a lot of beloved family and friends there. Luckily, everyone I know is making it ok. Thousands are not.
Don’t ignore the opportunity to help just because it doesn’t directly affect you. Here’s a great article from The New York Times on how you can help.
You can donate money to go fund me’s page or The American Red Cross. Links are attached in the article. You can also donate blood, supplies and food if you are near the area and want to help. Don’t have any money or items to spare? You can donate blood in any state to help future disasters. Find a donation center near you:
If you aren’t a fan of Red Cross and are hesitant about the Go fund me donations, call United Way Helpline at 211 and find out how you can help them. If you have a boat and can get there call 713-881-3100 to find out how you can help with rescues and evacuations. You can also make donations to help displaced animals at http://www.spca.org/give.
The Texas Diaper Bank is accepting Diaper and wipe donations that can be mailed to:5415 Bandera Rd. Suite 504 San Antonio, TX. 78238.
Donate cash or supplies to charity organizations in your area who may have a way of delivering the supplies out of state. The opportunities are everywhere!
Remember, it may not be your home and you may not know anyone there, but it’s moments like these that make up who we are as a country. Don’t just sit back and watch the news, get involved.
I’ve got SO much to be happy about today!!! Insert Sunshine and Rainbows here please!
For starters, I’m sure you’ve noticed the blog has received a little bit of a makeover and it’s very own real estate on the world wide web! You can now visit my blog via WordPress as usual, or simply by visiting: livingoutloudagain.com. This is the part where I remind you to save it to your favorites or hell, go ahead and make it your home page!
Just kidding about the home page, that would be borderline stalkerish of you. Let’s make a pact right here and now to never reach that level of friendship. Agreed? Fantastic!
When I first started this blog several years ago, it was just a blank canvas to store a few pieces of my mind and soul. The blog was intended for self healing and sharing my story with others, as well as keeping me focused on my goals and bucket list. Living Out Loud has definitely served that purpose! Oh, the miles we have traveled together… THANK YOU!!!
Lately, I’ve felt myself fading back into the shadows again. I haven’t been writing very much (Yeah.. you noticed). I can admit that I’ve been falling in and out of depression, and it is a real life struggle for me. I am under construction, aren’t we all? I’ve had some health issues arise that I’ve been working on as well, and I’ve gained about 30 lbs that I use to beat myself up with every single day. I’m not saying I let it define me, I don’t. But, I still want to lose the damn 30 lbs! Today, if you count water weight… I’m down 6.1 lbs since the first of August. YAY!!! That’s my second happy. Woot! Woot!
Living Out Loud Again is taking on a new look and a new sense of purpose, this is obviously my first happy. With the world in the shit storm that it is these days, everyone could use a little more happiness, inspiration and good news. This is also an extension of the original blog. We are still going to work on Bucket List goals and opportunities, rest assured! We are also going to open up and focus on things I feel could inspire, heal and challenge people. We’ll look at some things I’m doing in the world that I think make it a better place and things I’m doing within myself to enhance my inner space too.
In summary, it’s a bit of starting back over with the girl in the mirror, and turning her into the girl living out loud AGAIN.
I think you’re going to like it. I also want to hear more from you. Let me know what you’d like to see more of, what’s on your mind, what’s fueling your heart these days?
For me, I know it. I’ve got to write more. I get so caught up in everything being important all day long that I lose sight of the blog and other personal goals. Even now, I was exhausted 2 hours ago, but I wanted to get the site up and running and get an update out before the weekend. As I’m yawning into the sofa, I’ve made it happen!
My third happy is I had a good convo with my mom today! My fourth happy is I finished paying for my SHRM SCP certification classes in the fall, so I can finally get that under my professional belt! I don’t take the test until December so I haven’t passed it yet, but trust me, you’ll be the first to know!
My fifth happy is that I’ve been in a healthy romantic relationship for over a year and a half. You guys… he actually has a job, a car and his own place. I’m just going to drop the mic right there.
I hope tomorrow is your Friday and you are excited about that, and if it’s not, I hope you know the rest of us are just that much closer to Monday! Either way, I hope you are well.
We seek it out, barter our values and trade the hours of our existence for mere fragments of it. Just like a magician trades a quick bit of magic for your eyes to widen, your heart to race and have you coming back for more, paying hundreds of dollars just to unknowingly find yourself surrendering to the illusion and calling it art, as if it were a choice. The same way we pay taxes and call it freedom.
Power is the drug most abused by government, religious organizations and by humanity of all races. Everyone wants to believe in it. Everyone wants to believe they have some kind of control over their lives and the world we reside in. Otherwise, we’re all just equally lost, trying to do the best that we can. How terrible THAT would be to admit as a people…
WHAT YEAR IS IT? I’m totally serious, because we’ve got grown ass adults running around with ‘nazi’ flags, shouting about white supremacy, throwing bottles of urine at police officers, murdering people, and all for what? The sake of power? White power, black power, anti-fascist power. Everybody wants it and it should be theirs because this is THEIR country.
When you wake up and just decide that people are going to have to die, that the world is going to have to suffer, that you are better than your equal (and we are ALL equals) for the sake of trying to gain power, you are then at your most powerless moment in life. Recognize that as a fact. There is absolutely nothing more weak than a person that would violently and consciously set out to attack another human being based on their opinion, race, religion, or a poster board they are carrying. There will be no exchange of power between ANY of these groups because you are all fighting the wrong war.
If you want to change the world, go home and love your family. Donate your time and efforts to anti-hate organizations that are actually doing things outside of protests. In order to see good you have to DO GOOD. Let them march, and while they are distracted be the difference that the world craves. Better yet, use the opportunity to evolve where hate has not.
“Look at the tyranny of party — at what is called party allegiance, party loyalty — a snare invented by designing men for selfish purposes — and which turns voters into chattles, slaves, rabbits, and all the while their masters, and they themselves are shouting rubbish about liberty, independence, freedom of opinion, freedom of speech, honestly unconscious of the fantastic contradiction; and forgetting or ignoring that their fathers and the churches shouted the same blasphemies a generation earlier when they were closing their doors against the hunted slave, beating his handful of humane defenders with Bible texts and billies, and pocketing the insults and licking the shoes of his Southern master.”
– “The Character of Man,” inserted in autobiographical dictation 23 January 1906. Published in Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1 (University of California Press, 2010)
Dear Mr. Chris Cornell,
I made a list once of things I would miss in this world should I no longer choose to be in it. It’s 2.5 pages long. You are on the first page.
No, I never met you. I never even saw you perform live. I wish I could have seen that. I wish I could have witnessed your voice light up a crowd more than anything right now. My heart is heavy.
Some people might only know you as “the guy from Soundgarden”. I know you all the way back to 1990. I know you as the friend and roommate of legend Andy Wood and the birth of the band Mother Love Bone. I know that after he died from a heroin overdose, you created the band “Temple of the Dog” as a tribute to carry on what Mother Love Bone started.
You sir, are one of the founding fathers of an era in music history called “Grunge”. Music that wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Music with lyrics that helped millions of people acknowledge and deal with depression, mental illness, addiction, anxiety and the very real demon of suicide. You wrote about things everyone feels, but no one talks about.
Outshined- “I’m looking California and feeling Minnesota”
Black Hole Sun- “In my eyes, indisposed, in disguises, no one knows”;
Seasons-“And I’m lost behind, the words I’ll never find”.
You also wrote a song called “Hunger Strike” that has built the foundation of my love for music. With this song alone, you saved my life. You brought into my heart the voice of Eddie Vedder, like fireworks in the most beautiful duet I’ve ever heard.
I may not have met you, but you have sat with me in the dark when I couldn’t bare the light. You have comforted me, inspired me, celebrated with me, traveled years and miles with me in the front dash of every car I have owned. You have shared pieces of your soul with the world and in doing so, brought us closer together with music.
In closing Mr. Cornell, you are not to me another musician who took his own life. You are one of the people who have saved mine. You are family. You are a legend. You are loved, and you are sorely missed beyond belief by all of us.
About a year ago today, I was on my way to Miami to catch Pearl Jam at the start of their 2016 tour.
This would be the first PJ concert for one of my best friends, and when we finally made it to Tampa, it would also be my sisters first PJ experience. Both concerts were epic as always, and both of these girls now have a much better understanding of my passion (obsession) for the band.
If you want to see someone having a religious experience, meet me in the GA section of any PJ show! 🙌🏻🙌🏻
Everyone is always asking me…”what were you doing on a pool table at 7?” My brother used to hang out at this pool hall with all his friends and I would tag along. Whether he wanted me to or not. I wasn’t fond of staying home for a variety of reasons. It was a different time and a one street town no ones ever heard of in Mississippi. Don’t worry, I wasn’t drinking beer, only smoking cigs. 🤘🏻
From the moment Eddie started singing in Hunger Strike, my heart skipped a few beats. His voice sounded familiar to me. What was more, it was unlike anything else I had ever heard in this world. This was it. This was my favorite song of all time! This was the band that would get me through the life I was born to live. The good, the bad, the unspeakable.
If you’ve never heard Hunger Strike, you owe it to yourself:
Eddie Vedder has the ability to sing with a passion that is completely transferable. It’s the kind of music you can feel, not just in your feet, but deep down in the knitty gritty parts of your soul. The parts of you no one else sees. Just look at this man still kicking ass…
Mike McCready has the ability to play guitar as if he were speaking a universal language. If you’ve never seen him perform live, search you tube for any solo performance and I promise that your life will never be the same! Also if you think you know everything about guitar, you know nothing until you’ve seen this man at work.
Jeff Ament makes bass his bitch. He’s been there since the beginning. He’s loyal to the music, the band and everything he believes in. He’s a beautiful musician and an even better person.
Stone Gossard does it all, literally. There’s no other way to describe it.
Matt Cameron isn’t the original drummer for Pearl Jam, but in a way he’s been there since the beginning too with Temple of the Dog, before he was the drummer for Soundgarden. So he grew up in the same family, so to speak.
Today Pearl Jam and above mentioned musical heroes will be inducted into the Rock and Roll hall of fame, and I couldn’t be prouder or more happy for their success.
It’s like growing up reading a comic book and suddenly that comic book is now real life. A less nerdier comparison might be the way some of you feel about football when your team wins the Super Bowl. I have not yet had that feeling about football, but I’ve witnesssed it and the comparison is pretty solid.
Hopefully you at least know who Pearl Jam is, or after reading this, you now want to!
Feel free to share with me your favorite band and when you first heard them as well. My love for music does extend past Pearl Jam I swear, but today, it’s all about them.
Congratulations Pearl Jam, you deserve this and everything else on the wishlist.
It is a terribly tragic thing; the way a person can become so familiar with abuse throughout a lifetime, that even long after the escape, they fall so quickly back into the darkness at their very own leaping, as if their heart had never been dancing in the light before.
Yet, how beautiful it is to be lifted up everyday by people who know you better than you know yourself. People who see you fall and help you get back up. How wonderful it is, to have someone call you out on your own shit. To remind you of your worth with an inside joke, a smile, a kiss, a text, a rose 🌹. Whatever it is, these people are your tribe.
I guess some of us really do get that lucky. If you are that lucky, thank your tribe and help them back up too.
If you find yourself back in the darkness and you have not found your luck yet, may I take a moment to call you out on your own shit, and remind you how hard you have fought every single day before this one. How your track record of bad days is actually pretty fucking stellar and the fact that you keep forgetting that is the only thing making today even more exhausting.
You aren’t perfect and you don’t need to be. Stop trying to look and act like the rest of the world. For in your imperfections, you are MORE than perfect. You are a work of art, and this life is your very own canvas. A limited edition, by yours truly.
While you may not be able to leave this museum you find yourself bounded to by life’s etching, you sure as hell can paint it any color that you’d like! You can even break down a wall every once in a while and let in a little bit of light.
After all, you do own the place.
When I was a married woman, my life seemed to fit into this perfectly wrapped box. It was a package deal. All inclusive. The corners of that box were dented and rough along the edges, but the contents never changed. I knew exactly what was expected of me, day after day.
The list: Get married ✔️, Finish college ✔️, Establish a career ✔️, settle down somewhere ✔️, buy a house (negative), have kids (negative).
That didn’t all work out exactly as described in the package I purchased. After all, I was just 19 and the whole package was only $50, limo included. “What did you expect..”they say. “It’s Vegas!” Biggest gamble and lesson of my life by far. However, I can honestly say I’ve never been more grateful for such a disappointment.
No, the white picket fence dream was never mine. It was never meant for me, and that’s ok. I know that now. I’ve known that for a while.
Today, I have the best friends you could ask for, a beautiful, warm home to live in, a car that still runs efficiently after 10 years, 2 college degrees ( and the loans to prove it). I’m even blessed somehow with an amazing man who treats me like some form of an endangered species! ❤
I have a great career, one that I’m proud of and one that I could actually retire from. Yes, it’s exhausting but that’s because I actually care about what I do. I’ve traveled some, I’ve grown some. In all calculated aspects, I am pretty damn happy! Anyone who knows me at all knows that I have fought like hell to get here. Everything I have, I have built for myself, from myself.
So why do I feel so lost here by myself? Where am I going? Am I there yet…?
That’s the funny thing about once you get everything you THOUGHT you ever wanted. You are all packed up in the car and you’re just sitting behind the steering wheel with absolutely no other destination. You didn’t actually plan to get this far! You just thought having all of the parts would make the journey complete.
” If I could just get this one job….”
” If I can just ace this last class…”
” If I could just find a place that feels like home…”
” If I made just a little more money…”
” If I found the perfect guy..”
Where the hell am I going and will I even know when I finally get there? These are the questions I ponder. These are the things I don’t say out loud. These are my first world problems. Is everything perfect in my life? Not even close! But then again, that’s what makes it mine.
Truthfully, it’s not really about where you end up is it? It’s more about the journey itself. Who we meet, who we become, what we learn along the way, the way we DO better once we KNOW better.
I don’t know where I’m going, but I’m enjoying the sound of things not meant for me lost in the wind. I’m pleased with my present company, and excited for wherever we end up. I’m actually happily incomplete.
So the next time you think to yourself; ” If I could just lose weight…” ” If I could just have a baby..” ” If I could just do more… be more..”. Imagine you have it. You have all of it. Now what?
None of it will make you anymore complete because most things we think that we need are only souvenirs, or small pieces to the big never ending map of life. Some pieces are huge! Friends, family, heartache, love, loss; everything else,we could live without and end up on the same journey, just a little less distracted by all the What Ifs…
Remember that one time…when you thought your whole life was over?
We’ve all been there at different chapters in our life. Maybe your heart was broken once, or maybe you actually did the breaking. Maybe you lost a business, a friendship or a dream. Maybe the object of what you actually lost was something in yourself you thought you’d never get back, no matter how hard you tried. You felt absolutely hopeless, alone and utterly defeated. Maybe you are in that chapter right now and it’s just the absolute fucking worst. The sweatpants, the messy hair, the emptiness, the interventions … wait, was that just my story?
Nevermind the minor details of what it looks like. The point is that life is messy. All of it! The ups, the downs; all of it is one big, beautiful mess that will break your heart six ways to Sunday. (#silverliningsplaybook)
If you are in that part right now, if this is your chapter and you are drowning deep under the weight of it all, take a deep breath. Place your hand over your heart. Breathe. You feel that?
Turns out, you are still alive! Yes, you might have fell apart for a long minute, but you’ve got this.
There were several blogs on how juice cleanses can save your colon and your life, post divorce struggles with dating (mainly for people who have kids), beauty advice, unrealistic nutrition blogs, save your shitty marriage articles, build the perfect version of yourself because you are the problem blogs, etc. There was no one out there saying :” Hey, I just fucked everything up. I’m completely alone. I have wasted my whole life and I do not have any idea how to start over.” Because we don’t say things like that out loud as a society.
Well, welcome to the club and to a new year into my little portal of the world, Living Out Loud, because “Keepin it Real” was taken.
Seriously, I don’t have any easy answers or a list of herbs you can buy to change your life, but my hope is to help you realize you have all of the answers already within yourself.
Last year, instead of making a resolution I would break, I picked a word to reflect my goals for that year. That word was “Present”. To be actively present in life and each moment of it. Pretty sure I smashed that goal! 🙌🏻 As a result, my bucket list achievements were surprising even to myself. (See previous post from the fall for that update.)
This idea of choosing a word instead of a resolution came from another blogger who referenced the “One Word”project. See the link below for info. and help selecting YOUR own word. http://myoneword.org/pick-your-word/
This is a great place to start if you are at a crossroads in life or just need a focal point.
My word for 2017 has taken some careful time to select. I feel that the word I have chosen is an extension of being present and it’s exactly what I need to focus on this year. To stop beating myself up about those few extra pounds, or not being able to be everything to everyone all of the time. Turns out, I am not Nutella. I am pretty damn amazing though, so my word for 2017 is “Confidence”.
The confidence to know that I am enough and I have always been enough in everything. That’s quite the challenge for me given all of my past experiences. The confidence to say thank you when people say “You’re beautiful!”, instead of remembering everyone who made me feel less than. To accept my success, grace and kindness instead of hiding so often behind the sarcasm and self loathing that has become all too familiar. This is a pretty real struggle for me.
Whatever your struggle is, my hope is that by focusing on my own confidence I can also inspire something beautiful in you. Whether it’s a half smile, a distraction from a bad day, or actually helping you find your own confidence, I’m ecstatic for the opportunity!
With that said, if no one has told you lately. You are enough and I am so glad you are here.
Stay tuned ….