A Greater Purpose

When I perform, I do not consider that selfish, pompous, prideful, or anything like that. I’m not there for the applause. I’m not there for recognition. I’m certainly not there for the money (or lack thereof).

So why do I do this? Why do I put myself through the wringer every day? (Because, contrary to popular belief, it’s not easy being a music major.) Why does my heart burn and my chest ache to go out and make myself vulnerable in front of strangers and peers—even when my anxiety kicks in and I’m practically afraid of my own nose?

Because I know that I have a story to tell. No one else can tell this story because it is written on my heart alone. I have a mission to spread joy and love, comfort and consolation, truth and beauty in the only way that I know how. When I open my heart, fully and completely and unashamedly, its outlet is through music.

Am I ever afraid? Constantly. And sometimes, I let that fear shut me down to a point where I can’t share my story. Which is funny… because that’s all I’m really afraid of.

Honestly, I’m not afraid of judgement: I can’t control what you think, and I understand that judgement happens for all sorts of reasons. It cannot deflate my inherent worth or dignity as a human being—a child of God.

I’m not even afraid, exactly, of making mistakes. I’m okay with not being perfect as long as I know that I am growing and getting better every day.

I am afraid, though, of not being able to reach people. That I will make so many mistakes that my story is obscured or misinterpreted. That I will be distracted and not give my all. That the audience will just be in a bad mood or not be receptive.

For what is the purpose of music if there is no deeper meaning or passion?

I am often frustrated that people can only see what I am giving them in the present moment. They have no idea how hard I have worked on something or how devastated I can be when I don’t do well. They only ever see little snippets of the story.

And this is exactly why I must perform. I need to share my story—my gift—with as many people as possible, even if it’s not yet complete. If I sing one thousand concerts and act in one thousand shows, and ONE person’s life is changed (even if it’s just that they feel loved for a moment), it will all be worth it.

Every time I am vulnerable through music, I share one more, tiny piece of my story. That piece will never be the same from one night to the next. But every night, I will discover one more piece of my puzzle until even I begin to see something beautiful emerge from the shards.

The world may try to shoot me down, but I will never give up. If I ever stop making music, I will become a mere husk of who I once was. But I am strong. I am afraid, but my love is stronger than the fear. “Many waters cannot quench love, even though the floods drown it.”

So why do you do what you do? What burning mission drives you? Do you just work because you need money? Then what is your outlet for sharing your story with the world. We need to hear whatever it is that you have to say. We need you.

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Rhythm (or lack thereof) Seen as a Gift

Today, I’m going to make a big confession; this is a fact that has plagued my soul because I desperately wish it wasn’t true. Some of you may already know this, but many of you probably don’t.

… … …

Rhythm

What’s the first thing you think of when YOU see this picture?

 

… … …

I have no sense of rhythm.  

goldfish jumping out of the water

When it comes to rhythm, I’m just about as unintelligent as this goldfish

 

I’ve reached a point in my life where I’m able to admit that I actually might have a lovely singing voice (ad majorem Dei gloriam), I may even be able to admit that my sense of pitch is possibly slightly above average, but no matter how “loverly” my voice may be, I could never be successful as a vocalist because I can’t follow the beat. Most of the time, I’m pretty good at faking my way through pieces. I’ve been blessed with a beautifully strange memory, so my brain very quickly memorizes entrances, cut offs, when to move from one note to the next, and so on. It’s especially easy when I’m singing a’ capella: alone or in a choir. I’ve even gotten pretty good at memorizing an accompaniment so that I can sing along; however, if I ever have to sing with unfamiliar instruments or accompaniments, I struggle to figure out when to sing or even what note to sing. I’m like a little flounder in the deep, dark sea.

Yes, I’m that awkward person who can’t clap at the right time. If I am going to clap even semi-successfully, I have to stop singing so that I don’t lose my concentration.

Sea Turtle

I can FEEL the beat, but I can FOLLOW it

It’s strange because music is so much a part of me, I can feel when to move, when to wait, when to stop. To keep with the sea analogies, I’m like a turtle surfing the currents. Somehow, though, if you ask me to find the downbeat, I panic… and I sink.

Sometimes, I wonder if I’ll ever be able to learn rhythm, or if I’ll just be stuck like this forever. (Do any of you know how I can teach myself rhythm? Is it possible?)

I don’t want to go my whole life un-metered, but I have learned sort of recently how my lack of musical cadence can actually be a gift. First of all, it obviously helps keep me humble. Oddly enough, it also helps me to understand that some people really do love me.

All my life, I’ve been battling a poor self-image, low self-esteem, and an inability to believe that anybody could possibly love me. A couple of years ago, I was finally able to see that God loves me, but I still couldn’t really believe that any humans loved me. This past November, I was slightly enlightened.

I went to see my dear friend, Tajci Cameron, sing an Advent concert in Illinois. Actually, I ended up going to two concerts because

Lenten Concert in 2010

Lenten Concert in 2010

Matthew, her husband, convinced me to drive around three hours with them to the second concert in Danville. The car trip was quite nice; I drove with Tajci, and we talked about random, beautiful things like psychology, theater, books, and life.

Once she was on stage, she surprised me by telling the audience my story (which I may post on here at a later date), and asking me to sing with her. Of course, I was thrilled, and remarkably, I wasn’t nervous at all. Unfortunately for me, my thrill pretty quickly turned into humiliation because I couldn’t find the beat, and I kept hitting wrong notes, and I eventually forgot half of the words to the song. In the moment, it was pretty funny and exceptionally gawky, but at the end of it all, Tajci looked at me and said, “I love you,” in a tone that hit me right in the heart because it was so purely genuine. Naturally, it wasn’t the first time she, or anybody else, had said that to me, but it was the first time I believed it.

I spent the rest of the concert in tears of joy and relief, thanking God for my gift of inadequacy.

I would love to hear your stories of discovering love or blessings of inadequacy! I really don’t want this blog to be just about me; I’m trying to share inspiration and truth with everyone, so please feel free to contribute your thoughts and feelings. God bless you!

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Good Friday Meditation by Saint John Vianney

If we were required to die twice, we could jettison one death. But man dies once only, and upon his death depends his eternity. Where the tree falls, there shall it lie. If, at the hour of his death, someone is living in some bad habit, his poor soul will fall on the side of Hell. If, on the other hand, he is in the state of grace, it will take the road for heaven. Oh, happy road!….

Generally speaking, one dies as one has lived. That is one of the great truths which Holy Scripture and the Fathers repeat in many different places. If you live as good Christians, you will be sure to die as good Christians, but if you live badly, you will be sure to die a bad death. The prophet Isaias warns us that the impious man who thinks only of doing evil is in a woeful state, for he will be treated as he deserves. At death he will receive the reward for the work he has done. It is true, however, that sometimes, by a kind of miracle, one may begin badly and finish well, but that happens so rarely that, as St. Jerome puts it, death is generally the echo of life. You think that you will return then to God? No, you will perish in sin….

The Holy Ghost tells us that if we have a friend, we should do him some good before we die. Well, my dear brethren, could one have a better friend than one’s soul? Let us do all the good for it that we can, for at the moment when we would like to do our souls good, we shall be able to do no more!…. Life is short. If you defer changing your ways until the hour of your death, you are blind, for you do not know either the time or the place where you will die, perhaps without any assistance. Who knows if you will not go this night, covered in your sins, before the tribunal of Jesus Christ?…. Yes, my dear brethren, as life is, so is death. Do not hope for a miracle, which God but rarely performs. You are living in sin; very well, you will die in sin….

If we desire to die a good death, we must lead a Christian life. And the way for us to prepare for a good death is to model our deaths upon the death of Jesus Christ. Can the life of the good Christian be anything other than that of a man nailed to the Cross with Jesus Christ?

The Crucifixion

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Advantages of Taking a Gap Year

If you’re a senior in high school, and you’re struggling to figure out where you want to go to college, what you want to be your major, whether or not you want to live on campus, how the heck you’re going to pay for college, or anything like that, let me tell you that you have other options! You don’t HAVE to go to college right after you go to high school (or, in fact, ever).

This year (not exactly by my own choice, but definitely by God’s) I’m taking a gap year, and not going to college right away has actually been one of the best decisions of my life. I would definitely recommend it to everyone, but you can’t just take a break to sit on your couch like a bum; get a job, and move out of your house as soon as possible. Here are some of the advantages of taking a gap year:

1) You have one more year to gain maturity and settle the weight of adult responsibility firmly upon your shoulders.

2) You can spend more time thinking about what you actually WANT to do with your life without all the stress of senior year butting into your decision-making process.

3) (This one is the weirdest one) If you don’t go to college right away, you may actually begin to MISS learning, and thus, be able to more fully appreciate your classes and education at university.

studying

4) You get to take a step back from your family, your schooling, your regular activities, and just think, “Who am I? Who does God want me to be? How can I accomplish that?”

5) You might make fewer dumb mistakes. If you actually have to show up at work to get paid (so that you’re able to pay rent and feed yourself), you can’t stay up partying all night. Again. RESPONSIBILITY.

Of course, nobody HAS to take a gap year, but for some people, it can be immensely helpful.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed

by Isaac Watts

Alas and Did My Savior Bleed

Alas! and did my Savior bleed,
and did my Sovereign die!
Would he devote that sacred head
for sinners such as I?

Was it for crimes that I have done,
he groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! Grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!

Well might the sun in darkness hide,
and shut its glories in,
when God, the mighty maker, died
for his own creature’s sin.

Thus might I hide my blushing face
while his dear cross appears;
dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
and melt mine eyes to tears.

But drops of tears can ne’er repay
the debt of love I owe.
Here, Lord, I give myself away;
’tis all that I can do.

Leave a comment

Filed under Holy Week

Holy Week Challenges (Pros and Cons of Being a Nanny)

One of my commitments for Holy Week this year was to write a blog post every day until Easter, and I’m not exactly off to a good start. You see, I already have writer’s block. Actually, there are a lot of blog post ideas swirling around in my head, but they would all take too much time to write out because they’re not fully formed. Just imagine trying to draw a complete image of a lion when the lion is mostly hidden in the shadows; you could make up the portion you can’t see, but it would never been as good as the reality.

Today, I’ve decided to put together just a little list of some of the pros and cons of being a nanny. This post won’t have much of my usual (or so I like to think) depth, but maybe it will bring you some enjoyment. I will begin with the cons because I’d like to leave you with the positive side.

Mary Poppins

CONS:

1) No matter how much you love the kids or how much you sacrifice for them, they will never be yours. You may adore them. You may sacrifice all of your time and energy towards making them good, happy people. But you will never be their mom. One day, sooner or later (more likely sooner), you will not be their nanny any more. If you are the nanny of young children, they will quickly forget you and all that you did for them. You will never forget them, and you will miss them dearly because, even though you were never their mom, they were your children. 

2) There’s inevitably a bit of an awkwardness between you and the parents. You spend a LOT of time with the kids, but very little time with the parents (unless you’re like me and you’re constantly, accidentally over-staying your welcome); when you are with the parents, you pretty much only talk about what the kids did that day. They may even be just a little bit jealous of you because you see their kids more than they do. If you’re the nanny of a baby, you probably witness more of the “firsts” than mom and dad do.

3) “Parenting” is a whole lot harder because you have basically no control. Not only do you have to think through the Temper tantrumregular parenting stuff, “What’s best for my kid right now? What’s best for my kid long-term? What does my kid want?” you also have to think, “Are mom and dad okay with this? Is this what they would do? Is this a significant enough event that I should write it down for them?” and so on and so forth. You have to follow and enforce somebody else’s rules.

4) If you’re the nanny of multiple kids, you have to deal with parenting out of the regular order. What I mean by that is most people start out with one kid, they adjust to life with one kid, they have a second kid; they adjust to life with two kids, etc. As a nanny, you’re kind of thrown into the middle. Suddenly, you’re taking seven crazy kids to the grocery store when, just yesterday, you only had to take yourself shopping.

5) Unless you’re fortunate enough to be an au pair, you have to live two lives. One life as part of a crazy, beautiful family with kids and messes galore, and another life where you’re just a regular young adult, hanging out by yourself in your apartment. Those post-work hours, weekends, and holidays can be exceedingly lonely.

PROS:

1) You get all of the beautiful moments and memories without the sleep-deprivation!  You don’t have to deal with night-terrors, midnight diaper changes, throwing up in the bed, wetting the bed stuff… yet.

2) You get to learn what it’s like to be a parent without the life-time commitment. You learn different parenting tricks, you learn child psychology, you help solve problems, make new things, and experiment. Every thing you use as a nanny you can later use when you have your own kids.

3) You learn. A LOT. And not just about parenting. You learn to be punctual, to keep calm in the face of a crisis, to be assertive and authoritative, to live in the moment, and to LOVE. Every day you’re learning something new and wonderful.

4) You’re making a relationship that will last forever. Maybe the kids won’t remember that you were their nanny, but if you keep in contact with them, they will be your little friends forever.

scribbles5) Nannying helps you to see beauty where you never would have seen it before: “Wow, Nathan! That is a gorgeous… um… what is it exactly? Oh! That is a gorgeous dragon!” 🙂 Without the kids I nanny, I might never notice how adorable a tiny pebble can be, or how marvelous a blue sky is, or how amazing a tiny flower is, or how supreme a moment of silence can be!

1 Comment

Filed under Holy Week

Traffic Laws and Love

I have always been very conscientious about traffic laws, even as a kid. I never knew exactly WHY I wanted to drive the Car Crashspeed limit, make complete stops, actually slowing down at yellow lights, etc., other than the fact that I liked following rules, but lately, I’ve been doing some serious thinking, praying, and research in regards to this topic. I’ve narrowed my findings down to five “short” sections: Save Gas, Save Money, Save Your License, Save a Life, and Save a Soul. This may all sounds crazy, but bear with me.

Save Gas.

Save Gas: I have had many friends make excuses for speeding by saying that it’s more fuel efficient, but New York’s traffic safety website says otherwise, “You can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.24 per gallon for gas. See www.fueleconomy.gov for more on this.” Why drive over the speed limit if you’re only wasting your gas and gaining very little time? Another website says, While each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed (or range of speeds), gas mileage usually decreases rapidly at speeds above 50 mph. You can assume that each 5 mph you drive over 50 mph is like paying an additional $0.17 per gallon for gas.”

Waste not want not.

Save Money: If you are pulled over by a police officer for speeding, you could have to pay thousands of dollars in fines. You

Save Money.

may be saying, “What if I never get caught?” and to that, I reply, but what if…? There are times in life when those “what if?” statements really bog you down, but they CAN be helpful. Maybe that little statement is your conscience, desperately trying to get you to slow down. What if today is the day you get a ticket? Or you get into an accident?

Save your License: If you drive more than 40 mph above the speed limit, your license can, and WILL, get suspended. Most people don’t have a problem with driving THAT fast (because, come on people, that’s ridiculous), so I won’t harp on this point.

Save a LifeSave a Life: Think about this, every time you drive over the speed limit just because you’re running a few minutes late, it’s like saying, “I care more about arriving slightly less late than for your safety. Imagine yourself saying that to EVERY SINGLE PERSON YOU PASS when you’re speeding. The same can be said for breaking any number of traffic laws, including but not limited to, cutting people off, passing on the right, not making complete stops as stop signs, texting while driving, drinking and driving, running red and yellow lights, and not stopping at the correct stop line at a light.

Save a Soul: This section will be broken down into two categories: Help Save YOUR Soul, and Help Save OTHERS’ Souls. Here’s just a little bit of food for thought. First of all, the Catholic Church teaches that we should obey ALL civil laws UNLESS they contradict the laws of the Church. To break a civil law (no matter how small and seemingly insignificant), could be a venial sin. What does it take for something to be sinful? An act must be committed freely, with intention and full knowledge of its wrongness. Therefore, if you know that speeding is wrong, and yet you freely Good driving, Joe!choose to do it for no good reason, couldn’t that be considered sinful?

Don’t speed. Save your soul.

What about those times when someone is tailgating with impatience? Or shouts angry things to you? Or cuts you off? Amen, amen, I say to you, you are not controlled by the thoughts, feelings, and actions of others. Live the truth, and they will SEE the truth. When you feel awkward, humiliated, and intimidated by other people, PRAY FOR THEM. When someone cuts you off and it makes you really angry, pray for him; maybe he’s distracted because his mom just died. When someone is tailgating; pray for her; maybe she’s in labor, trying desperately to get to the hospital. Maybe they’re all just impatient. PRAY FOR THEM. Not only will prayer bring YOU patience, it may bring THEM patience. What if you convert the nation by actually following its laws? Be the change you wish to see in the world.

Don’t speed. Save the world.

Save Souls.

I would like to set a challenge for all of you who read my blog (including myself): this week, as an extra prayer for Holy Week, follow ALL of the traffic laws, even the most menial and tedious. If you don’t feel the positive changes in your attitude by Easter Sunday, call me a liar and revert to your old ways… or give it another try. Be patient. Be kind. BE LOVE.

Leave a comment

Filed under Holy Week

God Works in Mysterious Ways

Well, it’s definitely high time for an update; I would like to apologize and offer an explanation for my long absence.

Confusion and DepressionAs most of you know, I intended to enter a religious community in August, and basically the whole point of this blog was to express WHY I felt called so strongly to religious life. God, however, threw me for a loop. When I attended my pre-postulancy week in midsummer of 2014, I was asked to wait before entering. Initially, I was very confused and hurt by this decision (which is mostly why I have avoided writing); naturally, I, a self-centered human being, assumed I knew myself best. I beat myself up trying to figure out why I wasn’t ready, what I could have done better to show my Superiors who I really am, etc..

All the while, I was terribly afraid. What if I went to pre-postulancy week every year, and every year they asked me to wait? What if they decided I wasn’t called to this order and rejected me permanently? What if I could never see my Sister-friends again? How did I know this was God’s will for my life? Struggling and beaten down, I was forced to rapidly figure out what I was going to do with my life (or at least, a year). It was too late to apply for college without racking up a severe amount of tuition-induced-debt, I didn’t have a job or a car or even my driver’s license, but the Sisters had specifically requested that I move out of my parent’s house in order to gain independence and maturity.

In retrospect, I can see how stupid I was being. Did I not trust that God would take care of me? I so often worried about theTrust in Him future that I didn’t take the time to enjoy the present. When I found a perfect job as a nanny, I did not rejoice; I was only filled with more anxiety that I would randomly be fired, that I wasn’t really capable of fulfilling my duties, or that I wouldn’t be able to find an apartment with nice roommates, and so on and so forth. The first few months were really tough; I had no idea how to budget my money, deal with conflict, “raise” children, make new friends (I had lost practically ALL of my old friends to, what I like to call, the college-epidemic), or talk to adults as if I could possible consider myself almost equal to them.

His grace was abundant in my trial. Through my sufferings, I began to see His hand. I began to understand myself and my situation more clearly. My tears watered the soil at my feet, and His love kissed my little sprout with sunshine until I finally began to grow. Growth, like God, is mysterious: you feel the same for ages, but you eventually look in the mirror to notice that you’ve BLOSSOMED.

Now, I see the beauty of motherhood that I could never have seen if I had entered the convent right away. I love my job. I love my roommate, my church, my choir, my new friends, and my LIFE. I’m looking forward to attending college in the fall (I’m majoring in psychology and minoring in theater), but right now, I just want to enjoy this moment. I want to be in love with every embarrassing thing I say, every mistake I make, every pain and illness, every awkward moment… because THOSE are the times when I grow. A dormant seed may be safe, but it can never be as beautiful as even the most twisted of trees.

Please pray for me as I continue my year of trial OPPORTUNITY.

Still More Beautiful Than a Seed

2 Comments

Filed under My Vocation Story

Growth Does Not First Require Deficiency

Is a seed less complete than a bud? Is a bud less complete than a flower? Is one flower better than another just because it has grown taller or bigger? These would be silly things to think about flowers, yet I often find myself believing these lies when I relate the concepts to human growth. Is a baby less complete than an adult? Am I less beautiful when I still have the capacity for growth???

Water Lily

Let us all strive to live in this moment and to grow into who God wants us to be because growth should never be viewed as bad; growth is room for IMPROVEMENT, not a sign of deficiency. For example, just because you need to grow in love does not mean that you lack love. It is only a sign that you are called to something higher and ultimately more fulfilling. LOVE where you are now so much that you are challenged to GROW.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Finding in the Temple

Recently, I was meditating on the mystery of the finding in the temple, and I was having trouble personally relating to the story. I thought, “How can I find Jesus in a temple? I haven’t lost Him, and I wouldn’t find Him in a temple even if He was lost.” It is true that Jesus is never lost; He is with us always, but we can lose our connection with Him. How often do you go through the motions of a busy day and realize later that you didn’t think of Him at all? In those moments, we do have to find Him again.

When we lose sight of dear Jesus, we will probably not find Him in a literal temple, but take a moment to think about what a temple, in its essence, really is. A temple is a place, a physical building. It is a place for prayer, for reading the Scriptures, for making a sacrifice, and for gathering with our brothers and sisters. A temple is peaceful, quiet, and beautiful.

When I thought of all of the elements that make up a temple, I realized that we can find Jesus in each of these pieces. No, we can’t find Jesus in a literal temple in this day and age, but we can find Him in a sacred place, which is our Church. We find Him in prayer, in the Scriptures, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and in our brothers and sisters who are the Body of Christ. We find Him in our own temples, that is, we find Him within ourselves. We find Him in peace and silence and beauty.

Finding Jesus in the Temple

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized