Breaking: You CAN Learn From TV

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“Commercial again?!” I shouted at my television. “What did she do!?” I nearly flung my bowl of soup on the ceiling I was so excited. My fiancé, surprised at my out-of-character reaction, laughed and sat aback widening his eyes so as to say, “Daaaaamn girl!” I collected myself, my soup and what was left of my sanity, and returned to my Monday night post-work couch lounging.

What can I say, I love The Biggest Loser. I was pretty late to the game, which is great because now I have season after season of ready to watch reality just waiting for me to hit play on my Hulu Plus. Yes, there are plenty of ways that we can pick it apart, in that weight loss doesn’t happen for normal people in a vacuum like that, perhaps let them call their kids once in a while, whatever. Overall I like the mega-show.

What I like about it is learning about a very serious condition and seeing real results of progress. How these individuals became morbidly obese range from abuse, depression, and eating disorders, but are often combinations of those and more. I like seeing them get better and work through their issues.

I also like how they know what their goal is and work their asses off to get to it. They certainly would love to win the “quarterrrr of a miiiiiillion dollars” as Allison Sweeny says so Days-of-Our-Lives dramatically. But the real goal is to get better and lose weight. To get healthy. Many of them have serious life threatening conditions, or one is right around the corner, and in this show Jello, Jenny-O Turkey, and the other pretty crappy sponsors are actually putting their money into a decent cause.

For the contestants, it’s plain and obvious they need help. They need to make a change with regard to their physical wellbeing in order to live healthier lives and avoid a premature death.

What about the rest of us? Shifting from physical wellbeing to psychological or emotional, how can we measure how well we are doing? Almost fortunately, when your body is sick and overweight, you can see it and so can everyone else. It’s clear what you need to do.

But when it comes to our inside-our-brain lives, when do we know that we need help? That we need to make a change to get back on track to live healthier, happier lives? Where is the stress-o-meter that clearly conveys to you and the world, “Woah there, Skip. It’s time to take a vacation and calm the fuck down for a week.”

Unfortunately we are left to our own abilities of discernment. What sucks about that is we are likely the worst judges at figuring out when enough is enough and we need to take a little break and work on ourselves. While I certainly mean this in a professional sense, I mean it in just about every other emotional & psychological sense as well.

It’s very challenging in our current American environment to listen to what your psyche is telling you it needs. It’s a busy world out there. Messages about work hard, play hard swirl around us; put in your 40+ hour week, then you deserve to party your weekend away because you deserve to have fun!  Or, I think my favorite one I read recently is, “Don’t listen to your heart, listen to God.” Really? Don’t listen to the inner cries of your soul? There’s no possible way THAT could be listening to God?

All around us there are reasons, easy escapes, even religious commands to silence your inner voice and run to the distractions that circle us. And it is those very distractions that could perhaps be strangling the passions and loves that we left long ago when we let our dreams die and went to college instead.

I was listening to a radio show yesterday as I was, albeit begrudgingly, driving to work on an early Monday morning. It was all about self-employment, my favorite topic, and the host quoted Jon Acuff. It went something like, “Finding your dream job is less about discovering what you love, but about recovering a love you forgot.”

How nice that it rhymes. But he’s right! In the daily grind, the struggle we all have to toil the earth, it is less about the quest of finding that brand new talent that you never imagined you were great at. Rather, it’s that little thing that you loved to do as a kid, ran to in order to survive high school, or did in your free time when the baby was asleep. And when we ignore those things that truly make us happy in the name of being normal, a working professional, or a social butterfly, we can be hurting ourselves and not even know it.

We don’t really know when our psyche is sick, but we know when we are sick and tired. We don’t know which day we will crack, but we see it on the news all the time as we read stories of people who finally do. Every single day is critical in my opinion, every breath we take is precious. Why do we allow ourselves to ignore our inner selves and the real desires we have to fully live?

I tell you, the people who lose 200+ pounds really seem to understand the value of a full life. They can SEE how their lives have been transformed once they start making decisions to be their best selves. I think we need to have the same urgency to get and stay healthy. Our goal may not be a fat stack of cash sponsored by Extra Sugar Free gum, but living the life you were meant to live seems seems like as good a prize as any.

Why We Should Eat Elephants

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In moving forward in any large, giant endeavor, I’d say the hardest thing to do is avoid becoming overwhelmed. I mean, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. But sometimes you take a step back and look at that elephant in dismay and realize…that fucker is huge!

I took a step back a week ago and saw 3 elephants in front of me. My dream of becoming a self-employed writer, paying off student loans/saving to buy a house, and planning a wedding/getting married. Those 3 monsters are sitting in front of me, and I’ve decided to eat them all at the same time. Taking a look at all of them, I was left debilitated and overwhelmed. What do you do when you feel like you have taken on too much?

I go online shopping. And that’s the worst, as it effectively makes sure that none of those things make any progress. But it wasn’t my fault! It was the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, who can get work done when that is going on?! And football season is coming, I had to stock up on some gear!

Ok fine, I lose. I’ve wasted a week and didn’t do anything productive because I got scared and overwhelmed, which is frankly embarrassing. But there’s nothing to be scared of, I’m the one that decided to do these things. Plus they are all super awesome, why would I hold myself back? Well no more, I’m hungry and I’m going to eat these elephants. It’s a weird analogy especially because I’m a vegetarian, but it works for me alright?

Dumb analogies aside, I can put a stamp on today and be proud of it. I sat down and wrote something. Which is a practice I, WE, need to do everyday. Just a little progress every single day and we will make our goals happen, and our dreams realities.

I’ll be back to take another bite tomorrow.

5 Reasons You Love ‘Murica

ImageIt’s hard to pick a favorite holiday, but the Fourth of July is certainly on the top of my list. Who doesn’t love grilled corn, flowing BBQ sauce, pool parties and blowing shit up. It’s a glorious day to celebrate and reflect on how rad it really is to be an American.

So in respect to Old Glory, I bid this list of why we fucking love it here so very much.

#5 We Invented Hot Dogs

Throw it in a boiling pot of beer, slather it in cream cheese, douse it in ketchup. Whatever you want to do, the hot dog is as American as hot dogs. Sure, the Germans may have been the first to come up with a phallic shaped meat product, but sausage has nothing on the hot dog. The hot dog is the hero of easy dinners and a savior after a long night pub-crawling.

Not only that, but the hot dog cares about your environment. A mash up of left over pork flesh, the hot dog is the ultimate way to utilize otherwise inedible pig. So really, it’s an environmental super hero, making sure that we don’t waste any part of that little fat animal. Forget the Prius, if you want to make an eco-friendly American statement, eat a hot dog.

#4 We Made the Red Keg Cup An International Symbol of Fun

I have been stopped many times whilst holding a keg cup by someone unfortunate to not have been born in the USA, and they say, “Wow, you all really do drink out of those red cups.” The first time I was told this, I asked them to elaborate. “Well that’s what’s in all the American movies. All the kids drink out of those cups.”

That’s right. Us kids really do drink out of red keg cups. And what better instrument to play flip cup? Beer pong? Quarters? You’re welcome world.

#3 It Really Is Sexy Everywhere You Go

I have not been to all 50 States, because dammit, that’s a lot of states. But of all that I’ve been to, they have been fucking amazing. New York? California? Florida? Washington? Hawaii?! Come on. We really don’t need to leave our borders to get all that you could ever want. I’d immigrate illegally too if I didn’t start here.

#2 Every Holiday Is For Eating

Our title of fattest nation in the world is not a thing we take lightly. We work hard for that. When we are thankful, we eat an entire turkey. When Jesus gets up from death, we eat so much chocolate that we make animal shapes out of it to legitimize the feast. 4th of July? We BBQ, but it doesn’t stop there. We have giant hot dog eating contests, wherein contestants have eaten up to 69 hot dogs in one sitting. I may be a vegetarian, but I can salute such dedication to America’s favorite pastime – eating.

#1 Dubya gave us “’Murica”

Ah, our 43rd President. Author of such phrases as “I didn’t grow up in the ocean.” Or “Thank you, your Holiness. Awesome speech.” Or “I can press when there needs to be pressed; I can hold hands when there needs to be — hold hands.”

With the economy healing and one of his wars ended, you can’t really be thaaaat mad at him anymore. But if you are, here’s one of my personal favorites to make you feel better.

But best of all, he didn’t call us America. He called us “’Murica.” And that, America, is something to be grateful for today on ‘Murica’s birthday.

The Secret to Lifting your Mood No Matter What

Kasia and I getting our sing on

It’s been a stressful few weeks.  Work has been crazy busy. I’m stressed about my first ever marathon on Sunday and praying I don’t do anything like trip and fall off the 163 bridge. I’ve also decided to put my whole self out there and truly live my dreams –  but with that comes the risk of failure…a stressful assertion indeed. Then you can add the average life stresses like sibling quarrels, bills and landlords. Frankly, I’m tired.

So I was driving to work yesterday and I was trying to decide what to listen to. I’ve lately been listening to a lot of talk radio and inspirational speakers. I have a pretty solid rotation of NPR, Dave Ramsey and Tony Robbins going, who normally cheer me right up. But that morning I was all….”Sh. Stop talking.”  I just wasn’t in the mood.

Fussy and a bit annoyed to be driving to work anyway, I plugged in my iPhone and started scrolling through the music. I drive a piece of shit car, so I use a cassette tape adapter that plugs in my MP3…that being said the sound quality is about as good as tin foil being stuck in your ears.

But I came across some music I hadn’t listened to for a while. I hit play, turned it up and to my surprise the little speakers-that-could actually reached the decibel level I was looking for without sounding like the aforementioned tin foil ear. And that’s when my inner Tina Turner let the air around me have it.

It was just the song I needed to hear – semi-pointless, included electric guitars, some yelling, a bit powerful, and gave me the platform to simply belt it. Loudly as I drove 75 mph on the 5, I sang:

“I’m tired, so tired.

I’m tired of having sex (So tired)

I’m spread, so thin

I don’t know who I am…

 

I’m beat, beet red,

ashamed of what I said (What I said)

I’m sorry, here I go

I know I’m a sinner

but I can’t say no (Say no)”

(Weezer, Pinkerton, 1996)

I’m not tired of sex, but I was tired that day, that’s for sure. I made the choices to be where I am and I’m not sorry, but I need to vary my outlets for releasing the pressure once in a while. And turning up a song I listened to in high school brought me back to those formative years of reckless freedom, unsure where I would wind up or what I would do. That whole Pinkerton album can do this.

So what I am saying to you is – sing! It is the one trick that I always forget about, but once I rediscover it, my world is healed.  I am by no means a great vocalist, but I do come equipped with a voice. And that’s why the best place for me to sing with all my soul is in the car. There is nothing like it in the world to turn up the volume, and give that song everything you have.

Now there is a risk…people might see you. I think that is one of the benefits! Don’t be afraid to be that person. First of all, being concerned with what strangers who zoom by on the freeway think of you is a problem, and overcoming it can bring a new sense of freedom. Self expression doesn’t need to happen in a vacuum.

I’m not the only one who believes in singing. In fact, there are real health benefits to it. Some of these include boosting immunity, alleviating stress, lung benefits and breathing easier. Fantastic, right?!

There is a caveat – you can’t just sing with your throat. You have to, in order to get these benefits of release I’m talking about, sing with everything you have so that the air comes from your belly. Your diaphragm should be moving up and down as you take in and release air. Open your mouth wide and enunciate.  There’s likely no other time in the day that your lungs will fill with so much air as taking in those deep breaths and releasing those exhales. That’s why smoking and yoga have been found to calm people – it’s not the carcinogens or the downward facing dog, but it’s breathing deeply. Singing provides the same benefit, and is in my opinion, more fun.

So friends, I challenge you today. Sing! You may have already arrived at your destination for the day, but you will likely be traveling somewhere else at some point today or this weekend. Find time to sing in your car. Turn on a song you haven’t heard for a while but you know all the lyrics to and makes you feel good. It certainly picked up my week, and gave me the momentum I needed that day. And today is an easy day to get your sing on, it’s Friday, so here’s the perfect song to get you started.

Memorial Day, Luxembourg and Saluting Am’urca

20130524-002627.jpg3-day weekend. Can you feel it? We have made it America! Memorial Day is this weekend and that means summer is HERE. Plus, we have 3 whole days to do whatever we want.

What are you going to do this Memorial Day weekend? Out of towning, hiking, beach-bumming, hot dog eating, kite flying, sweater knitting? Who cares, do whatever you want, it’s a 3-day weekend.

How about some memorializing while your face is stuffed with potato salad? Maybe even a eugoogily? If you don’t get that Zoolander reference then you’ve made Ben Stiller cry. And we don’t like seeing Ben Stiller cry, so make sure you watch Zoolander at some point in these 3 days of freedom.

Admittedly, I was half joking about the utter excitement of the 3-day weekend filled with kite flying hot dogs. I love a 3-day weekend as much as anyone, but I think the hype around Memorial Day weekend is a bit out-of-control and has rolled a smidge off track. The big chain stores always have some kind of Memorial Day sale, and we all plan parties on Sundays because for once we don’t have to worry about work on Monday. You can spend that Monday nursing a hangover instead if you want to.

But if JCPenny didn’t tell you on the weekend sale commercial, the purpose of Memorial Day is to remember those who served in the United States Armed Forces. Specifically it is for those who died while in service. So why is it when I Google “Memorial Day,” the top 5 searches retrieved regard rooftop pool parties, vacation planning, and local to-dos such as farmer’s markets, more drunken parties, and giant store specials?

That’s kinda fucked up.

I don’t personally know anyone who died in battle, as in, I’ve shaken their hand and heard them say, “how do you do,” only later to learn of their death in combat. I have a great uncle who died in Pearl Harbor (1941). Unfortunately I never had the chance to meet him, so that’s as close as I get.

So for me on Memorial Day, I have to dig a little deeper to get to the memorializing. I do think about my uncle and wonder what exactly happened…according to my Dad he was a pilot and was shot down in air, but I don’t even know if American planes were up yet since it was an ambush? Maybe he reacted quickly. Or maybe he was going for a swim with a Hawaiian cutie, but the family didn’t like that story so they put him in a plane. Nonetheless, the details are hazy and I instead reflect on his bravery for even being there.

The biggest memory I now return to for Memorial Day, however, is when I was in Europe a couple years ago and went to Luxembourg. There is a large military cemetery there where General Patton is buried, aptly named Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial. Visiting that memorial was one of the most moving experiences of my life, and the second time that I’ve cried in a military cemetery, the first being my father’s funeral.

We had toured a few different sites of World War II, but this was something different. The soil was given to us from the Luxembourgers and is officially a plot of American land. So naturally we joked on the lines at the gate, one foot on either side, “Now I’m in Europe! Now I’m in the US! Europe! US!”

But reading about the war plan, how Hitler really did fucking take over Europe, and how desperate the situation was, gave me goose-bumps for the duration of my time there. Walking around from grave stone to monument to grave stone, you could literally feel the powerful strength these soldiers had as they gave their lives to thwart the forces of evil.

And that’s what Memorial Day is about. We all like to try and somehow relate to ourselves, our families and puff up our own pride with what we have done. But Memorial Day has absolutely nothing to do with us who aren’t dead from fighting in a war. It has everything to do with those whose lives were cut short, whether they believed in the cause or not, and paid the ultimate price to fight for our country.

Memorial Day is important America. Even if you are anti-war, guns, or think that we could just have a conversation with our enemies and things would be alright, sometimes fighting is necessary. WWII is a perfect reminder of that. In 1944, concentration camps were ramping up to be an even more effective form of genocide, as that was when they installed organized gas chambers and ovens to fucking incinerate human beings on a massive scale. That was when the Battle of the Bulge occurred and one of the biggest turning points of the war. On the very soil I stood, 5,000+ American soldiers remains are buried there, most of whom died in that important battle.

What would have happened if General Patton and his army didn’t march in and kick some ass? I don’t even want to play that game. The game I will play is one of gratitude and solemnly consider the circumstances under which they fought. And with that, thank you to God for our military. Thank you to our Vets – I am so happy you are still here with us. Thank you to the men and women who died in battle, who starved, froze, were shot or stabbed to death fighting for my country. I wouldn’t have the life I have without you, and I am absolutely grateful for your service.

Thank you. I salute you. RIP.

I’m a Barista, But I Want To Be a Ninja

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This weekend I found myself in several situations where I didn’t know every single person in the room/backyard/boat.  As is normative social decorum, I engaged in get-to-know-you small talk.

“Where are you from?”

“Seattle.”

“Oh, I hear it’s nice there. I’ve never been.”  (No one in California has been to Seattle.)

“Yeah, it rains a lot, but the music’s great.”

There is also…

“Where did you go to school?”

“UW and SDSU.”

“What’s UW?”

“The University of Washington.”

“Oh…well SDSU! Go Aztecs!”

Seriously California. There are other states up north you know. Stupid…surf…culture…anyway, those are two conversations I am always having. The third is of course:

“What do you do?”

“I work at a start-up internet company.”

“Oh cool! What is it?”

“We do online reputation management. We’ve only been around for 2 years, and no you haven’t heard of us.”

“How exciting! What do you do there?”

“I do training and development. But it’s a start-up, so I do a lot more than that.”

I think I’ve narrowed it down pretty well and I try to keep it to that. My job is pretty challenging to explain, and I don’t like to go on and on about it, because then I’m the girl talking a lot about herself, and that’s just weird in the small talk get-to-know-you convos.  However, people seem to find what I do interesting.

Does that mean I’ve “made it?” When I first got the job offer a month after I graduated, I was stoked. I’ve been there for a year now and I must say, it is rewarding.  Working at a small company has a lot of great perks, but there is one thing that makes it just like every single job I’ve ever had – I’m working for someone else’s dream.

I was in Trader Joe’s two weeks ago and the ringer-upper guy asked me what I do.  I told him the standard, “I work at a start-up internet company,” answer, and surprisingly he responded, “Oh wow! Your own?”

Sadly I admitted, “No.”

That really got me thinking. Joe there, not knowing one thing about me, had enough faith in me to think that I could possibly be an entrepreneur. That I am so dedicated to my ideas and have enough drive and determination to get an idea off of the ground and start my own company.

After that experience, I’ve really been thinking about this whole, “what do you do,” thing.  I’ve always been the type to resist being put in the box of my profession.  When I worked as a barista for a billion years in every coffee shop in the greater Seattle region, I never really thought of that as my “identity.” I mean sure, I kind of liked it. I was in my teens and early 20’s and it was around the time The Barista was sort of a cool thing to be. So me and my tattoos, dark-rimmed glasses and poetry books would make coffee and use big words to prove I that I was doing this gig just to get through college. “Nope, just making coffee, this is not who I am…but yes you can compliment how well I can make a latte.”

Damn a latte sounds good right now…

Anyway, now that I really think about it, I have never taken a job I would have been ashamed to tell other people about. I worked at a TV station, casting agency, newspaper, university, you can pretty much name any sort of profession that doesn’t happen under a bridge and I’ve done it. And while I genuinely liked each of those jobs to some extent, every single time I always had this bit of a divider like, “This is just what I DO, but it’s not who I AM.” I figured work life would always be that way.

Then I stumbled upon a thought.  When you meet any of your friends who are really doing what they want to do, they are excitedly proud to tell you that what they do is who they are.

“I’m a musician.”

“I’m a photographer.”

“I’m a firefighter.”

“I’m a basketball player.” (OK fine, none of my friends are basketball players)

“I’m a lawyer.”

“I’m an author.”

That last one has a little sting to it, because that’s the one that I want. While I have a pretty rad job, it’s not what I dreamed I would be doing as baby Joni. I was the kid who learned how to read well before any of my peers, and quickly began writing the second I found a sharpened pencil. All throughout school my teachers told me about my “gift,” and I shrugged it off hoping the other kids didn’t hear how big of a nerd I was.

“Ssshhhh!!” I thought, as I tried to drown that talent with cooler ones like sports or music. Those decisions to seek flashier, more lucrative professions, and not be the writer my 2nd grade teacher saw, brought me here. My belief that writing was a silly hobby, and work was adult career life, is to blame. And now when someone asks me what I do, my answer is still not quite what I’m looking for. Jon Acuff, a young writer who is starting to see some success, brings up a good point:

“We end up thinking that we can really have two different versions of ourselves, ‘work me’ and ‘life me.’ …When you think about it, the ‘it’s just a job’ belief is crazy. Imagine telling a friend, ‘I have to go somewhere five days a week, dedicate the majority of my waking hours to it, let it control my vacation and travel plans…but I don’t consider it part of my life.” (Acuff, 2011, p. 230-231)

By the way, this excerpt is from a book called Quitter and I do not recommend brining this book to work, and then getting caught by your boss reading it…that was not a fun week.

Anyway, he is right. We are one, whole person. And I think that this is the big career crisis that my generation faces. We are blessed more than any other generation to have the means to see beyond the “if I don’t work my family will starve to death or wind up eating rocks,” crisis that has plagued most of human existence.  We are the most coddled generation, whose parents have the ability to help us if we fall.  We have always been encouraged to chase our dreams, never give up, and be all you can be.

And I think that’s why so many of us are so bummed out by our jobs. I think I can safely say that most of my friends live for the weekend, and I can’t really exclude myself from that conversation.  As much as I enjoy my work sometimes, I hate Mondays and love Fridays.

The problem with that is, I clearly have a problem with work if I’m saddened by the very thought of 5 whole days of it ahead of me.  Or am thrilled with the thought of 2 whole days that I don’t have to go there.

So that leads me to believe that I in fact haven’t made it yet. Mom told me to be what I wanted to be, and I’m not being it yet, and that bums me out every Monday. When Trader Joe asks me what I do, I want to answer confidently, “I’m an author.”  He will then answer, “Oh! What do you write?” And so on and so forth.

How cool would that be?!?!

For now, I have a pretty good answer. But there’s still a “but” in it. “I work at a startup company in training and development, but I want to be an author.” I’ll bet there’s a lot of you out there that have the same predicament.

So play a game with me. How would you fill in those blanks?  “I’m a ______, but I want to be a ________.”  I have a feeling getting to the second blank is a reality you can make happen.  What are you doing to get there?

As for me, I’m reading like a crazy person, working hard at a job I like (notice, not love), and planning for the next step by saving skrilla and writing early in the morning and late at night. I’m doing it because the opportunity is there if I want it, if I’m willing to fight for it. No one is going to hand me a book deal just because I think I have talent. I’m not going to be walking in the park one day and a man in a beret will shout from across the courtyard, “Hey you! Hey you there! You are clearly a beautiful writer and belong on the New York Times Bestseller list! Come with me and I will make you a star!”  But if that does happen I’ll let you know which park.

We are a generation that has been encouraged to dream, and we easily get depressed when we feel we haven’t “made it” to remarkable fame, wealth, whatever it is that you want. But the opportunity for artists of all kinds is available. Tradesmen/women can get into a technical college when they are willing to do the work. Entrepreneurs have a chance to make that purse-for-cats idea a reality if they try.

The only thing separating us from that, sometimes, is our dichotomous “work me” and “life me” identity crisis.  We tell ourselves that our “life me” can never be our “work me,” so sometimes it can be hard to make the blanks of who we really want to be happen.

But I encourage you to try.  I mean, I really want to see a cat carrying a purse one day, so I’m hoping you’ll go ahead and step it up to make that happen.

Switching Gears by Taking Back What’s Rightfully Ours – Monday

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I don’t know about the rest of you, but no matter what is going on in my world, it is the biggest challenge of my week to peel myself out of bed on Monday morning. It’s not that I hate my job, because I don’t, there’s just something about switching gears from life unplannned, to a scheduled regimen of when to be in the office, when to take lunch, when to go home, etc.

Regimens are easy once we are in them – it’s just getting them started. Think about how easy it is to go to the gym when you are used to going, but when you haven’t for a while, getting to that first workout is the hardest task on earth.

And every single week, the majority of the American labor force makes this gear shift every week from weekend to work week. To help me with my gear shifts, I’ve been testing what exactly makes me happy on the weekends and trying to apply those things as much as possible to the work weeks – especially to Mondays. Dammit I don’t want to have a case of the Mondays every single week for the rest of my working life, and I’m on a mission for all of us.

Considering this mission, I was putting on my makeup this morning composing an ode to my beloved coffee, when this song came on my Spotify station. The lyrics that struck me so hard that I literally poked my eye with my mascara wand were the following:

“I stand here in front of you today all because of an idea
I could be who I wanted if I could see my potential
And I know that one day I’mma be him…
See, I observed Escher
I love Basquiat
I watched Keith Haring
You see I studied art
The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint
The greats were great cause they paint a lot
I will not be a statistic, just let me be
No child left behind, that’s the American scheme
I make my living off of words
And do what I love for work
And got around 980 on my SATs
Take that system
What did you expect
Generation of kids choosing love over a desk
Put those hours in and look at what you get
Nothing that you can hold but everything that it is…

Cause the moment is now, can’t get it back from the grave
Part of the show
It all fades away
Lights go to black
Band leaves the stage
You wanted an encore but there’s no encore today
Cause the moment is now
Can’t get it back from the grave”

I put the majority of the lyrics here because I think it’s more powerful in context, but these words keep ringing in my head this morning,

“The greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint
The greats were great cause they paint a lot.”

Macklemore studied art. And he is 100% right to study those who have succeeded in something that you want to do. I have zero desire to become a rapper, and if you know what I look like and how awkward my general mannerisms are, you’d really find that hilarious. But I think observing and learning from what he has accomplished could help me in my craft(s). Which is easy for me to do, given that he too is a Seattle native and I love to see fellow Seattlites succeed.

In doing so, I’ve noticed a pattern in his music. He has his demons and he works every day to fight against them. I do too – they are different but they are there, fighting with everything they have to stop me from composing. To stop me from believing. To throw me on my back every time my dream starts to get a little momentum.

And what I love about Macklemore is he is a fierce fighter who is winning his battle, and inspires me to be more. Give more, write more, fight more.

He is pushing forward, and encourages me to as well. His regimen is ongoing, it doesn’t start or end on Monday. For me, the battle of Monday and the switching of gears is one of my demons, when it really doesn’t have to be. I shouldn’t switch gears at all! I don’t have to take the weekdays off to live my dreams. Succumb to the monotony of an office working world. Sure, I could easily feel like a number, a drone, a desk jockey – but I’m not. I’m creative, artistic and passionate, and while I drive to work on Monday mornings just like millions of other Americans, there’s something different about me. Because even in my Mondays, I search for inspiration to compose art, and keep my heart open to my dream.

And I think you can too. I think we all have that inner person who taps out during the work week, who really should never have to sit out at all. That true being that we really want to be. Whose talents, if realized, could propel us to joy and success we can’t even imagine.

So for this Monday, I put on my prettiest dress, even bothered to curl my hair, because this isn’t just any Monday. Today is the beginning of something big. I know this because I’m going to make it happen. Great painters became great because they paint a lot. And I will become great because I write a lot. Even, and especially, on Monday.