Unlocking the lost parts of myself

Unlocking the lost parts of myself

I was not fully looking forward to our family trip to Sequoia and I almost didn’t go. There were personal reasons and then more topical reasons.

It had been about 15 years since the last time I had went. Prior to that we went almost every year when I was growing up. But a lot has changed in 15 or so years and I just didn’t think I had it in me to “rough it” in nature.

I use the term “rough it” loosely because we stay in cabins that have electricity and beds, we only camped once or twice, that I can remember. You do have to walk to a central shower and bathroom but it’s far from sleeping on the ground in a tent. My niece’s friend Sam likened it to, “glamping”, it’s not quiet that plush…but somewhere in-between.

Over the few days I was there though, it was like this dormant part of me woke up. “OH, I used to love nature. I used to love running around and exploring!” I had completely forgot that that part of me even existed. It was like I forgot about that girl completely, but the big beautiful trees and endless vistas brought her back to me.

I felt SO insignificant out there in the vast world of nature. I was SO small, tiny, miniscule! I can’t even verbalize how unimportant I felt. And it was amazing…because it was a reminder of how big the world is. And, though my problems and issues sometimes feel insurmountable they are even tinier then I am against the backdrop of nature. That’s such a comforting feeling.

Sometimes it feels like life is crashing around me. One crazy happening after another but the forest kind of just side steps the chaos. You see broken or burned trees scattered about the floor but it doesn’t stop everything around it from being beautiful.

Sequoia trees cannot begin to grow without fire. If the ground becomes overcrowded they can’t thrive. So they require something so destructive to live, enter fire. In our lives we say, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” but maybe the hard things in life are pushing us to thrive too.

We walked through Crystal Cave which was formed, in simple terms, by running dripping water. Water finding weaknesses in marble and working at it for millions of years formed an amazing cave. Sometimes we feel like the small steps we take don’t mean anything yet these tiny drops of water formed a massive, beautiful cavern.

The place I didn’t really much want to go back to, became a place I wasn’t ready to leave. I wanted to go on more trails, more hikes, soak in more of the forest. After the first day I stopped caring that my phone had absolutely no service. I was happy about it. It really forced me to disconnect and connect with mother nature and my old self again.

I leave you with a Shakespeare quote our tour guide at Crystal Cavern told us:

“And this our life, exempt from public haunt, 
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, 
Sermons in stones, and good in everything.”

Breaking up with my Clarisonic

Breaking up with my Clarisonic

A brief history of my skin: I had really bad skin in H.S. and even after. Once I got out of the bad relationship I was in (and stopped using MAC face makeup) my skin pretty much cleared in my mid 20’s. I hadn’t had any issues with my face since, until about 7-8 months ago. I also have eczema and take an allergy pill and moisturize my skin everyday in the shower.

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I DON’T KNOW JACK ABOUT SKINCARE. I used my Clarisonic once a day, used a moisturizer with SPF in the morning and some concealer here and there. That was my daily routine for about 5 years. The products really didn’t change and the Clarisonic was a constant.

I’m pretty sure at this point everyone knows what a Clarisonic is, but just incase you don’t… I loved mine and used it religiously 1x a day. One time it died right before I was going to Hawaii and I rushed to order another one because I couldn’t IMAGINE not having it on my vacation! I imagined a face full of zits on the beaches of Maui.

Late last year I was going through a lot of stress at work and home, then I moved and added MORE stress. Suddenly my relatively calm skin was like a war zone. These weren’t cute little whiteheads, these were massive, disgusting straight up ZITS. And I was HORRIFIED. I’m 35, not 14, wtf was going on with my face?!

I tried switching long time products like my SPF moisturizer…it got worse! I changed my makeup, my face wash, nothing helped. One time  I was in tears because my boyfriend and I were going to the gym and I had to pull my hair back and show my skin. I didn’t want to go to to the gym, I did, but I felt hideous and horrible. Same thing at work and I work with so many people that have flawless skin! (You notice it more when yours looks like shit.) I kept trying everything taking my nightly shower earlier, switching my laundry detergent, not drinking anything but water. Nothing really helped. It felt so hopeless, it’s like my own face had turned against me.

I brought this up to my co-worker Kate one day, because she had talked about being a skincare junkie. Then I mentioned that I had talked to Kate about skincare to my other co-worker in MN, Erin, and low and behold I apparently work with 2 major skincare mavens! And I had no idea!

We started our own private Slack convo and they divulged their routines and favorite products. When I told them my tiny routine they both said the same thing, ditch the Clarisonic .

*HORRIFIED GASP*

“But…but..I’ve used it for years and it’s been fine. That can’t be it, its just stress…probably right?”

*Sheepishly* Right?

“You are probably over-exfoliating…stop using it and see what happens” was their consensus.

I was so desperate…that I went out and bought $40 of products they recommended and…ditched the Clarisonic.

Low and behold guys, it got better, especially on my cheeks. It still is happening under my chin here and there, but everyone I talk to agrees that that area of your face IS hormonal and stress affected.

My routine is now:
Morning – Cosrx low ph cleanser, Origins spf moisturizer, Origins eye cream
Night: Cosrx low ph cleanser,  The Ordinary Squalane, Origins eye cream
If I do my makeup I put on The Ordinary Squalane as a primer

I am slowly going to try to switch the ELTA SPF and another (tbd) moisturizer for the Origins because I don’t love the tint it has. I am also going to introduce The Ordinary Niacinamide at night.

The Ordinary Marula oil is supposed to be amazing but I went for the Squalane first because I read that it was good for oily skin. And I’m proud to say that Erin and Kate have both tried the Squalane because of me.

BTW, don’t ask me to pronounce Squalane because I still don’t know how to say it.

I thought my skin was looking way better, but the proof is in the pudding. When i did my makeup the past 2 weekends I barely had to do ANY spot cover up. And my niece complimented my skin on Sunday which almost made me cry. Like, I had been so miserable for months and now I feel like it’s getting better. Still not perfect under the chin, but way way better on my actual face.

I still miss my Clarisonic though, and I don’t blame it for breaking me out. I asked Erin and Kate why it turned on me and they said it’s probably just the fact that skin changes with age…and my skin became more sensitive to it. Yay aging! (eyeroll)

I still don’t know crap about skincare. But I will say that if something similar happens to you it could be a product/tool that you have been using all along. Though, I think we all tend to blame new products in our ecosystem first. Don’t be afraid to question products and tools you’ve loved all along.

I will keep you updated here and there as I move along with my skincare journey. I don’t know if I’ll ever ben on Erin or Kate’s level of comprehensive skincare knowledge. But I just know I am SO thankful to them for helping me figure out at least some of my skin issues!

Participating in “The Disney Swap”

Participating in “The Disney Swap”

I follow a lot of Disney peeps on instagram. I don’t recall who, but someone posted that they were participating in “The Disney Swap”. The swap was closed at the time and they had just received their package. It looked interesting! So I added them on instagram and waited until the swap opened again. 

A few months ago, it finally opened. The ask you for your favorite Disney characters, colors and shirt sizes, plus other general info like your name, instagram handle, email address and mailing address. The swap only accepts so many people at a time, it was filled up within a few days. It took about a week after that to get assigned my partner.

The way it works is that you’re assigned to a person but they are assigned to someone else. So, the person you send a box to is not the one sending you a box. The boxes value has to be around $30 but you can fill it with whatever Disney goodies you think your partner will enjoy. The swap facilitators send you the form that the other person filled out and it gives you a pretty good idea of what that person might enjoy. You have a swap deadline, your package should be sent by that date. 

My swap experience was AMAZING. I had the sweetest partner that informed me they had ordered me some items from Japan so they might be shipping past the deadline. JAPAN?! Oh-em-gee, of course I didn’t mind if it was going to be past deadline! She kept me very informed and I was never worried that I was “forgotten”.

The date to send really snuck up on me, so around the deadline I emailed my own swap partner and told her I’d be sending a bit late as well. I had ordered her something and it came while I was at Walt Disney World. She was also very nice about it, she just received her package today in fact…I hope she liked it!

I loved everything my partner sent me, she totally “got me”. That is what is picture above, Mermaid Monday indeed!!

The only con about the swap is that there is always the possibility that the person sending to you won’t send anything. The swap facilitators say that they block people who do this. The person who sent me my package hadn’t received one from their partner. I feel so bad! She did such an amazing job and didn’t get anything from whomever her partner was. They do have “swap angels”. People that will send packages to those that didn’t receive one. But it is not guaranteed you will get a swap angel if you do not get a package.

I think it would be better if the swap was mutual. Meaning that you sent the person a box that sends you your box. I think this would add more accountability in sending. Though, I cannot speak to the percentage of people that didn’t receive boxes because I don’t know how many total participants there were. I would be pretty bummed out if I got burned though.

Would I recommend it? Yes of course, I had a wonderful experience! I believe most people are generally honest and you can’t let the bad ones keep you from trying something new. I think I would participate again if the swap partners were mutual. 

To check out the swap and try and get on board with the next one visit:
https://www.instagram.com/thedisneyswap/

How Taylor Swift has helped me through life for nearly a decade

How Taylor Swift has helped me through life for nearly a decade

A note about me: I was born loving music and lyrics. In 4th grade I sang, “Take a bow” by Madonna to my then beau to show him how his on again off again “love” was making me feel. Lyrics and music have and always will be important to me.  Taylor put it best..

“People haven’t always been there for me but music always has.” – Taylor Swift

My life story runs parallel with a living, breathing soundtrack. I could tell you my story better in songs then I could plain words. But I’m going to try and do it with both. This is the story of us, Taylor and I.

“Love Story”
I didn’t have my license yet because I was afraid to drive. I’d love to tell you I was a teenager, but I wasn’t. I was in my mid-20’s still terrified. I’d started my first full time job, which was night shift (12am – 8:30am). My father used to have to drive me to work and pick me up. He would listen to KIIS FM as he drove me. Whenever “Love Story” came on he would put it louder. Honestly, I didn’t pay attention the first few times. I was deep into Dilla and hip hop and this country sounding song was NOT in my wheelhouse.

But one night, I listened, I actually listened to words and I totally fell in love with it. The way Taylor wrapped you into that story..I could feel it. I was born and raised on Disney Princesses and fairy tales and this song just GOT ME.

“You belong with me”

I didn’t know who Taylor was before Love Story and I wasn’t quite hooked yet. I went on YouTube and watched the video for, “Love Story”. I was a cute and sweet, everything you’d expect. But then I clicked on the video for, “You belong with me”… I was never the same again.

In that 3 minutes and 49 seconds a swiftie was born. The shy dorky girl being ignored for the gorgeous one, wanting the guy you like to know you’re alive, being looked at as the friend BUT in the end, the dork won. He wanted her…he wanted her!! I literally watched it OVER AND OVER. This Taylor girl..she got me, she REALLY GOT ME.

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“Fearless”
I could literally almost tell you exactly what day I first saw, “You belong with me”. It was April 22nd 2010. Do you know WHY I know this fact? Because I said, “I have to see her live!” And I looked at Ticketmaster and I had JUST missed the Fearless tour at Staples Center by a week! I was crushed, heck, I’m still crushed about that. I missed her by a freakin’ week, are you kidding me?!

“Tim McGraw”
This was before streaming services, I went and bought the deluxe edition of, “Taylor Swift” and “Fearless” on iTunes. And let me tell you, Mrs. “I’m not a fan of country” knew (and still knows) every word. I also bought any song she made outside of her albums like, “Crazier” from the Hanna Montana Soundtrack. I couldn’t get enough of the emotion, the lyrics, oh the lyrics!! Country or not I didn’t care, she told stories that felt like MY stories. She got me and that’s not often a feeling I have.

I also watched every single video she had made, over and over again. “Picture to Burn”, “Change”, “Tear drops on my guitar”. And I had to learn everything about her, how she came up, her story. I could do a doctoral study on the history of Taylor Swift from memory. “Did you know she was one of the youngest song writers ever.” “Do you know she had a development deal with a major label and they didn’t want her to sing her own songs so she turned it down?” “Did you know Big Machine didn’t even really exist when she agreed to be signed to them?” Anyone who has ever dared to come at me with, “Taylor Swift has no talent” has been taken to SCHOOL. Miss me with that nonsense.

“Run”
The only George Strait song I know by heart is, “Run”. And that’s because Taylor covered it at a George Strait tribute and did a phenomenal job. I still get verclempse when I think about how she asked him for advice about performing in a stadium and he told her, “Just do it for about 25 years and it’ll feel real natural.” Oh how far my girl has come.

So anyway, back to “Run”. I went into a long distance relationship with someone that lived across the country. This song was the theme of that relationship, because in that moment all I wanted to do was run to him. I listened to “Run” literally over and over again just dreaming about going to him.

“Mine”
Later on in 2010 I did the impossible, I got my drivers license. I cannot express how scared I was (and still sometimes am..) to drive.  I did it because I couldn’t keep making my dad taxi me to  and from work, the guilt became worse then the fear. The ONLY thing I did love about driving at first was blasting my Taylor Swift music and singing at the top of my lungs driving to work at 4am. (I was on “day shift” at that point.)  That was in early September of 2010. At this very moment Taylor occupies 4/6 CD slots in my car.

“Mine” came out shortly after I got my car. I had missed the beginning of the other eras but for Speak Now I was ALL IN. I even remember, “Mine” leaked the day it was supposed to come out and I refused to listen to it until it was officially out. That video…I still love that video. *Puts hand in the shape of a heart* The bridge of that song, I want to cry just thinking about it! Even though the lyrics were based on an idealized relationship vs a real one, I don’t care! “Cause I remember how it felt sitting by the water / And everytime I look at you it’s like the first time”

The first time I ever drove on the highway alone I had, “Change” playing. Because conquering driving was a major wall that fell down for me. Yes there were times in my life I purposely made Taylor the soundtrack to certain moments.

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“Speak Now”
First came, “Mine” then the announcement of the “Speak now” album. I preordered it from Target, I was ready! Right before it came out another crazy thing happened. I went to Louisiana and finally met my boyfriend at the time. I remember on the plane listening to Taylor the entire way, particularly, “Love Story”. When I got off the plane I felt like Taylor running through the field. Have you figured out that I am a hopeless romantic and highly emotional being yet?

Right after I got home, the album came out. My Target pre-order actually didn’t come before the album released so then start the long standing history of me buying an album in both physical and digital copies because HELLO I wasn’t going to wait to hear it!!!

“Enchanted”
I was rightfully obsessed with Speak now. “Do you know Taylor doesn’t share the writing credits on this album with anyone?!” Guess what happened shortly after the album came out, a tour was announced. I was still SO SALTY about having missed Fearless, there was no way in hell I was missing the Speak Now world tour.

Except one small thing… no one else I knew was into Taylor Swift. Like, no one. Maybe they liked a song or two but they certainly weren’t going to pay to see her in concert. What was I to do? I guess I had to go see her alone.

The thought of traversing Staples Center alone terrified me. But seeing Taylor live was bigger then my fear. I just wanted to experience her live, alone or not.

August 24th 2011 I saw her and it was everything I wanted and more. By that time my long distance relationship was obliterated and I was onto different avenues but my love for all these songs was unaffected. And I cried…and cried and cried. I could care less that Justin Beiber was the special guest, Taylor was amazing and everything I was hoping for. That night was surely sparking. I only wish I had been with a group like a lot of girls there, so I could make cool costumes and share that joy with someone. 

And I have went on to see Taylor 3x alone, Ariana Grande 1x alone and Beyonce alone too. I have seen so much amazing talent because of my willingness to go by myself and Taylor opened that door for me.

 

“Dear John”
“I’m shining like fireworks over your sad little town”. Anyone who has ever seen the Speak Now DVD can envision those fireworks as they read that line. The relationship I was in crumbled and Taylor was with me every step of the way. Her lyrics nursed those wounds. Dear John was like an epic poem I could write to so many that had held my heart at one point or another. If you’ve been there, you get that song.

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“Safe and Sound”
My parents bought me a cat in the 4th grade, his name was Michelob. And I had him for 22 years. I lost him around the time that Taylor’s song for the Hunger Games soundtrack came out. My heart was and is still so broken over that loss and this song helped comfort me when literally NO ONE could understand. A cat is not a cat, this cat had been with me most of my life. “Just close your eyes/ The sun is going down / You’ll be alright / No one can hurt you now/ Come morning light you and I will be safe and sound” It was the first time I ever dealt with loss in my life, that song helped me through it.

“Begin Again”
2011 was the year that my current boyfriend and I started hanging out. My heart was still pretty fragile and we took things slow. Begin Again came out and once again Taylor was singing about my life. Here I was trying to trust and give my heart to someone new after it had been so crushed. But if Taylor could do it….

“Come in with the rain”
I had been obsessed with come in with the rain the moment I heard it. I need to stop saying that but, it’s the truth. It wasn’t a radio single but it was a Malinda’s car single for sure. But that guitar…

I had always wanted to play guitar. When I was in H.S. I wanted a guitar because I loved Michelle Branch (another singer songwriter). But I never got one…I just never did it. But hearing the guitar in, “Come in with the rain”,  “Superstar” and “Breathe” became my obsession. And it was shortly after I saw the Speak Now tour that I finally bought my first guitar. I always say, “Michelle made me want it, but Taylor made me do it”

 

“Treacherous”
The anticipation for the release of Red was insane. She was doing this thing where she was releasing a track a week and I could barely stand it. When the album came out I was blown away, HOW did Taylor get my life so well?

Literally there were nights when I followed my boyfriend home from a night out. I still hated driving but I’d drive to see him. “Two headlights shine through the sleepless night and I will follow you, follow you home” Also the Red album showed my then non-boyfriend just how much of a Swiftie I was.

I was at his house the morning the tickets for the Red Tour went on sale. Sweating and freaking out, because I just had to see Tay again. Once again I was going to see her alone but by then I was fine with it.

Treacherous was also the first FULL song I learned how to play on guitar. There was a girl on youTube that would do Taylor tutorials for the new Red songs the moment they were released. I went back later and learned songs from other albums, but “Red” showed me I could actually play.

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“State of Grace”
I always said that the opening of State of Grace makes me feel like I’m flying. It sounds like dizzying exciting love. It would be in my top 5 Swift songs for sure.

Depending on how long you’ve been a Swiftie you may remember Taylor Connect. The message boards on her website. I mean, of course I was on them! After the Red Tour tickets went on sale the did a lottery for Taylor Connect users to get pit tickets. I entered and I WAS SELECTED.

I was sitting in a booth at The Habit (a burger place in Cali) and I looked at my boyfriend and said, “I HAVE TO GO HOME AND BUY THIS TICKET!” Because I was convinced if I tried to buy it on the phone it would malfunction and I would lose this golden opportunity. Have you figured out that I’m a SPAZ yet?  My computer did not blow up and yes I got my Red Tour pit ticket for $150. You read that correctly, $150. Taylor has always been so good to her fans.

The day of the Red Tour I was A MESS. Pit is GA and I was convinced I was going to get stuck behind a massively tall person. I was there before the doors opened for Staples center and I RAN to the floor. I got a spot on the runway and did not move for hours. I didn’t eat, drink or go to the restroom I stood there and held my spot on her catwalk.

This is why the Red tour DVD not being released still makes me sad. Because that night WAS MAGIC. I have never been and probably will never be SO CLOSE to her. GUYS SHE IS REAL! She is amazing, she is everything you can imagine. Her opening song was State of Grace and I still know where she jumped down the stairs, some of her coreo and the way she walked, her fingers for “2 fire signs, 4 blue eyes” …the black hat she threw into the crowd. I remember it all…all..allll too well. That was August 19th, 2013, my life changed a lot shortly after that.

“The best day”
I cannot listen to, “The best day” I just wrote out that song title and tears started coming out. If you are not familiar with this song it’s a sweet song Taylor wrote to her mom on her Fearless album, hence, why it’s to painful for me to ever hear.

My mom had been fighting an illness for 10 years called aplastic anemia. Due to battling the illness and complications from the side effects of all the medicines she took my mom passed away on March 5th, 2014, a week before her birthday.

My mom knew I loved Taylor, when I got my guitar she told me, “What you’re going to be the next Taylor Swift?” Honestly in the moment I took it as sarcasm, but now I hold that comment so close to my heart.

When the Wonderstuck perfume came out my mom went to Macy’s and bought it for my birthday, she even got the patchwork gift with purchase bag for me. I wear my Wonderstruck perfume whenever I miss her.

Both my parents took me to Staples Center the first time I ever saw Taylor live. They dropped me off and picked me up. I remember jumping into the car with my Covergirl tour merch bag after the concert and excitedly telling them how amazing she’d been and how she was EVERYTHING I’d imagined.

I didn’t know it’d be the last of my birthday’s I’d spend with her. But for some reason I’d opted for an at home BBQ that year and asked her to make my favorite foods. My boyfriend bought me a guitar case for my birthday and I have a picture with her smiling as he surprised me with it. I went back to Safe and Sound, I was very, very lost.

“Superstar”
My sister didn’t know a lot of Taylor Swift. But she knew, “Superstar”. She knew why I loved that song…and so many others. My sister was my best friend, she was my only true best friend. But my sister couldn’t handle losing my mother.

My sister was born with a congenital heart defect and had health issue her entire life. But somehow, she still carved this AMAZING life full of adventure for herself. But just over 6 months after my mother died, I lost my sister too on October 1st, 2014. The day before my birthday. It was the 1-2 punch from hell.

My sisters musical love was Duran Duran but she TOTALLY understood my Taylor obsession, she got it because she was the same way with them. She didn’t like country at all but she’d always let me play Taylor in her car. I remember when the Red album came out and I played her, “All too well” she knew without saying who that song was for.

One of the last text messages I have from my sister was a picture she took in a Dr’s office waiting room. There was someone in there wearing a “Red’ rubber tour bracelet and she wanted to show me. My own Red tour bracelet took on a much deeper meaning after.that. She also bought me Taylor shirts for my birthday one year.

The night my sister passed away we went to a a karaoke bar near U of Penn. (My sister passed away in PGH and my dad and other 2 sisters were there.) One of the songs we sang that night was, “Highway don’t care”. Probably one of the few pure country songs I know, thanks to Taylor of course.

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My sister, mom and I watching The Little Mermaid

“1989”
I don’t remember anything making me very happy that year. There was so much loss and sadness in my life. To be honest with you, all of it hasn’t gone away. I’m not who I was in any way shape or form. I just cried a lot, went to work, came home laid in bed and cried.

I am not over exaggerating that the release of “Shake it off” was one of the first and only things that truly brought me a fragment of joy. That and went my boyfriend took me to Disneyland after a long dry spell for a belated birthday were the ONLY things that made me even temporarily happy.

1989 was one of the only lights in all that darkness. I’d even feel guilty when I’d smile or dance to it. It became my lifeline to joy because it took my mind, if even temporarily off the hurt I was trying to live through. If I ever did meet Taylor I’d tell her 1989 saved my spirit in my darkest time, just by being made…for giving me something to ease that unfathomable pain.

Blank Space”
The thing about loss is that it shows you how finite your life is. You don’t have endless time, so it began to push me to try and stretch myself despite the heartbreak. Even if it was driving to Manhattan Beach for a women’s symposium, running a 5k  or dying my hair red. I just started trying to stretch.

I’d always wanted to take vocal lessons but never did. I was born with a clef palette and have a speech impediment but as fate would have it (and as I mentioned) I LOVE singing. I always felt that vocal lessons were going to be a waste of money for someone with a voice like me. But at this stage of my life, despite all those internal demons saying, “Don’t do it!” I did it anyway.

I have never been more scared of anything in my life, and I wasn’t that great especially because of stage fright. But I kept going and going. The first song I attempted to learn was “Blank Space” then “Style” then “All too well”.

Blank Space was really when Taylor started to grab the image projected onto her by the media by the horns. It was the first glimpse we had at how she could use those bricks to make her castle. I pity anyone that ever dissed that song because they didn’t understand it’s satirical value. I was trying to take control of my own image too.

“Shake if off”
Mean girls aren’t just reserved for high school and they aren’t reserved to girls either. At work I was miserable because on top of the aforementioned loss the person I thought was my closest friend turned out to be a frenemy. Work felt like a battle ground for awhile and I would listen to Shake it off over and over again on the way to work AND at work to remind myself that haters were gonna hate, hate, hate and I didn’t have to play into it. Music really does give me strength and healing and courage and everything else.

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Wildest dreams”
Since the very first 1989 tour date in Tokyo I was waiting to see the Wildest Dreams/Enchanted mash up live. I saw it in a YouTube video and I started crying because it was so perfect. Two of my favorite songs delivered so amazingly.

Wildest Dreams was instantly my favorite songs on 1989. I learned it on guitar, I tried to learn to sing it in voice lessons. When the video came out I went to Disneyland wearing my Taylor shirt. Once again, she had captured that feeling of fleeting love so perfectly. I knew that feeling so well too. Maybe it was in the past, and I know it’s long gone but, that song just made it flood back.

I recorded the audio of the mashup on my phone at the concert and tried not to cry too hard when she did it. The 1989 tour was another bright light in my world that was still pretty dark. I always say death is like a film that forever alters the way you see life and even the beautiful moments are tinged with sadness for the people that can’t share them with you.

But the 1989 tour left me with more hope then I walked in with. Taylor doesn’t understand how healing her speeches are, how much she connects to the audience. I remember once in an interview they asked her what super power she’d want and she said, “A Healer”. I wanted to make a sign for the concert that said, “Taylor you ARE a healer!!!” But I doubt, even if she did see it, she’d understand that I was referencing some random interview she did.

“Out of the Woods”
There was only one bad thing about the 1989 tour. I was sitting on the floor and someone stole my light up bracelet before I got to my seat. And let me tell you as a swiftie I was LOOKING FORWARD to this bracelet! I literally felt like every person in that arena had a bracelet in Staples Center except me. I was really, really sad about it. I wished bad karma to whomever had stolen it off my seat. So that was August 25th, 2015.

Flash forward to the 2016 Grammy Awards. My boyfriend got invited because one of his friends worked on Kendrick Lamar’s record, “To Pimp a Butterfly”. I was so excited because Taylor was nominated for album of the year and they were going to be in the same building!!!

They walked the red carpet and he saw Joseph Kahn, I was so jealous. Then he said that as the filed into the auditorium there was a table…piled high with Taylor’s light up bracelets! Why? She was opening the Grammy’s with, “Out of the woods” and brought them for the Grammy audience. He grabbed about 5 and brought them for me. (Not to mention he was feet away from her as she won her Grammy and did her bad ass acceptance speech.)

I honestly still can’t believe my fortune. Especially with how I was still feeling,  I just needed that reminder that magic still existed in the world. I got my bracelets 5 fold and someone the universe had fully made up for me being sad about it at the concert. Taylor Swift is magic even when she’s not trying.

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“Welcome to New York”
Once again spurred by the need to reclaim my life I left my job that had made me miserable after 8 years. I found an amazing job at an NPR station. My first day of work I remember driving in morning traffic. This was a new experience for someone that used to drive to work at 4:30am, I was used to empty roads and this was chaos! (Chaos in the mind that someone doesn’t like to drive much.)

But, I put on “Welcome to New York” and it reminded me of the enormity of this great journey I was embarking on. It was all unknown and crazy, but a step in the right direction That is exactly what “Welcome to New York” embodies, starting something new, not knowing what to expect but you know you’re on the right path. Subsequent mornings “Welcome to New York” (and all of 1989 would lift my spirits as I sat in morning traffic AND at work when I was nervous at my new job.  I started that job on October 7, 2016.

“Look what you made me do”
We didn’t hear a ton from Taylor in early 2017. But I was still stanning for her and happy that she was getting a break from the relentless public eye. I’d rather her take all the time she needed for herself then keep pushing and being unhappy.  I have never been more proud of her then I was when she gave her court testimony. It was BAD ASS (no pun intended). And her Time Magazine cover with the other silence breakers was by far my favorite magazine cover/interview she’s ever done.

But when she came back with LWYMMD and RECLAIMED her narrative I was in awe. I hated being on socials seeing everyone talk crap before LWYMMD, about her. The stupid snake emojis would infuriate me. But Taylor doesn’t need my defense, Tay has got her own back and she took her image back and minted it! And once again, the song was on repeat and helping me get past my own hurdles. “But I got smarter, I got harder in the nick of time / Honey I rose up from the dead I do it all the time” 

I can’t say I’m as far along as Taylor, but I’m trying to be reborn again myself. Trying to adjust to the new normal in my life now, I’m really bad at change. Also I’m still not as confident as I’d like to be but watching how strong and happy she’s become gives me the strength to keep fighting for joy too. Not worrying about what other people think of me is my #1 goal in life. Even writing this my brain is saying, “People are going to think you’re crazy…” but I’m doing it anyway. 

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“New Years Day”
I had lived at home my entire life until January of this year. Another reason why Reputation just feels so right in this moment, because it’s Taylor really striking out and L-I-V-I-N-G. It’s not easy to leave the place you’ve always known, but with my mom gone things just weren’t the same anymore…I guess it was just time. So I spent this New Years Day at my new house with my boyfriend in Los Angeles. The first month it was hard, I kept thinking of the line from, “Never Grow up” where she says, “So here I am in my new apartment / In the big city, they just dropped me off / It’s so much colder then I thought it would be / So I tuck myself in and turn my light night on”.

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Cause one day I’ll be livin’ in a big ole city…

“Delicate”
The relationship I am in now is so different then any other one I’ve been in. For so many reasons, there’s a perfect Taylor song (or several) for every past person that’s ever had  my heart. But it’s always a good sign when the happy songs remind you of the person you’re with.  And if “Dear John” or “All too well” remind you of someone run as fast as you can! 

I’ve never been serious enough to live with a boyfriend before but I’ve never been with someone that really understood me for me. We’ve been together 6 years and I’ve never been happier or felt safer with someone. One of the first places we ever met up was a dive bar… I’m not kidding. 

Even though I think the Swift fandom wanted a sweet romance video for “Delicate” what she got was even more powerful. She’s happy cause she gets to be herself and this person she loves actually sees her for herself too. It took me years to actually fully show myself because I was so afraid of being hurt, do to what had happened in the past, delicate reminds me of those first few years when I was really starting to show myself. I’m still working on showing myself to the world however.

“Dress”
I know “Dress” is Taylor’s song but honestly it could be my song too. Because as I keep saying, Taylor writes my life.  “Flash back when you met me / Your buzz cut / And my hair bleached / Even in my worst light, you saw the best in me”

We didn’t meet under the best circumstances, I actually liked someone totally different. But we stood friends for a very long time. He saw me at my worst, my darkest, my dumbest, and yes he saw the best in me. And I really did wake up just in time, because if I hadn’t realized what was important in a partner I probably would have made different choices and missed out on him.

My favorite line on the song, nay, on the ALBUM is, “You left your mark on me, a golden tattoo”.

Because I not only think of him, but for some reason I think of my sister and my mom. I think of how much they influence my life and the lasting tattoo they will forever have on my heart. Love leaves its mark on you, and it is a golden tattoo which can never be erased..even long after someone is gone.

“End Game”
I am now a week away from watching the Reputation Stadium tour in Pasadena and once again I cannot wait. Concerts are my church it’s where my soul is healed where I feel like I belong, amongst all the others there that just get it. We scream, cry, sing and dance it is freedom and it is beautiful.

And for the first time in my Taylor history, I won’t be going to this concert alone. My niece got her ticket after me though…so I’ll still be sitting alone. But, I look forward for the opportunity to enjoy the pre and post concert glow with someone. And I will once again bawl my eyes out next to people I don’t know, happily. 


I often can’t really verbalize WHY I love Taylor so much when people ask me, and this is why. Because we have such an amazing long history together, she has meant SO MANY things to me over SO MANY years. I know I don’t know her, but she’s left her mark on me too. I will probably be a Swiftie for the rest of my life. She’s amazing and has helped me through my darkest times and helped me to express all the joy and love I’ve experienced too. If you actually stuck through to the end of this, I thank you for taking the time.

I will leave you with my second favorite Tay quote:

“If you’re lucky enough to be different, never change.” – Taylor Swift

Past vs. Present

I’ve had this blog almost a year now and it’s really been a struggle to pick a sold direction for it.  I think I finally figured out why. I spent hours trying to analyze why all of a sudden having a blog was SO difficult for me when before it was really easy.

I used to have a livejournal (but seriously who didn’t?). I wrote in it religiously for years!! Sometime’s I’d do multiple updates in a day, I posted everything I did, every single day. Every issue or problem I had, into the journal it went. But that was a long time ago…and I was a different person then. And therein lies the problem, I was trying to figure out how, as a so-called adult, I could just as easily lay my life out there for all to read again but also post fun stuff too.

Ok, at this moment, I am struggling to write this. I literally want to stop and delete everything, this is my current internal monologue:

“OMG they’re going to think I can’t share my feelings anymore cause I’m afraid now”

“People aren’t going to get this at all…you’re just confusing them, just stop, seriously”

“You’re making it sound like you’re never going to write about your life. That’s not true either! “

“Now they think you have voices in your head and you’re crazy, great, just GREAT”

So I apologize to the one person that might be reading this who is very confused. But, THIS IS WHAT I HAVE BEEN STRUGGLING WITH (as far as writing goes) for the past YEAR! This stupid, “All or nothing” mentality. Either you’re going to lay it all out there Malinda or you’re not going to write anything.

My mind tends to swing very negative. And a personal goal of mine right now is to really focus on joy and the things and people in my life that make me happy. And honestly that’s what I truly want to write about. But that internal voice also says:

“If you only write about things that bring you joy you’re being frivolous and fake”

“If you only write about good you’ll be pretending your life is perfect”

Perfection and I have a deep dark history, and I don’t want to meet perfection again, it’ll cut me down and make me miserable. 

So what is the point of this? What conclusion did I come up with?

I need to stop worrying about what anyone thinks!!!

I wrote that in red bold letters for myself more then anyone. But seriously, my God it’s exhausting to constantly be worried about how you’re being perceived by the freaking universe. THAT IS ONE OF MY BIGGEST ISSUES. Heck, it might BE my biggest issue.

If I want to keep some topics close to my chest and write the hell out of others, I will do that. If I do 20 posts about Disneyland and t-shirts and my latest funko binge, then good for me. And if I have a week where I’m depressed and missing my sister/mom/old life/anything else that makes me emo. I will do that too! 

Livejournal was literally my only escape and connection to other people outside of the abhorrent relationship I was in at the time. That’s why it was such a lifeline for me, because I felt like I couldn’t tell people IRL the horrible shit I was going through…so I told a bunch of strangers to get some form of support and compassion

1. I am in no way shape or form in anything that even resembles that now. 2. I actually have people IRL to talk to and seek comfort in even when times do get tough. So, it really makes sense that I can’t write the way I used to…because I’m not the person I used to be. 

So I’m just going to let the writing flow as it wants to. Because overall the thing I do know is that I miss writing so much! I’ve wanted to write so many times, but then the above dialogue would ensue. I was only able to break past it a few times here and there and actually get something down here.  

I still don’t have a crystal clear set direction as far as what I may post. I do a lot better when I don’t have creative boundaries. I really want to share the stuff that makes me happy and maybe even some of the things that make me sad. So that’s what I am going to do.

Do you know I just had the urge to just write, “I apologize this post has been all over the place..” NO, I don’t apologize. My brain is all over the place, so my dang post is too. Welcome to my blog!!

Big Magic

My mom passed away the week before her birthday, so, today is her birthday. It is never as bad as the day she passed away, but I’m still sad. It makes me wish I could still celebrate her birthday with her…the things you take for granted when you don’t know any better.

I’ve been feeling very disconnected and jaded. I couldn’t even finish books when I was devouring them before, because I was so indifferent. You just feel like you’ve heard the same thing 200 times. Especially with self help books… I couldn’t even finish one. I had 5 audible credits to use I and I kept returning every book I bought. Even if I started out liking it…eventually I just couldn’t stand it anymore.

One book had been nagging at me to hear it. Oddly enough it was a book I had already read when it first came out, “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert. Even with that book I was hard set on not buying it…because it obviously didn’t work the first time. (Say that in a sarcastic tone to mimic the voice in my mind.)

But, all week last week it persisted. So finally I was like, “FINE, you win brain…I’ll use a credit on the book I already read and OWN.” (It is currently in a box like half my shit…which is really annoying but that’s a tale for another time.)

So I listened, and instantly I remembered why I loved it so much the first time. It was just everything I needed to hear, again. Maybe even more so now. I’m not going to sit here and review the book point by point, what really matters is that it got me to write again. My last post was a product of reading that book, and realizing that my creative self is dying to get out. So, I promised myself I’d work on being creative more. Using that long dormant part of my brain.

A few things happened, including today. (I got recognized, twice, at work for my efforts.) That give me the sense that I am on the right path. So I’m going to follow that curiosity. I don’t really know what that means, because there are several creative things I love doing…but I just need to do something to feed my soul…it’s starving.

4 Years

(I wrote this yesterday, 3/6/18, I didn’t realize it didn’t post after I finished..)

Yesterday was 4 years since my mom died, it was also a Monday. Why does it matter that yesterday was a Monday? Because of office symbiosis and what happens on Monday.

“How was your weekend?”

“How are you doing? Anything new?”

These are innocuous and polite questions..but on a day like yesterday they feel painful. I am not close enough to my co-workers to tell them what the day is. Some, I actually am close enough to but then how will they respond? What can they say that will make it any better?

There’s something that Brene Brown talks about called, “Smash and Grab”, to paraphrase, it’s basically when simple conversation is happening and someone throws something super heavy in the mix to get attention. “I got a flat tire this weekend.” “Well, my dog died this weekend, so yeah.” Even though I wouldn’t personally phrase it like that…I would still feel like that was exactly what I was doing. “How are you?” “I’m sad because my mom passed away 4 years ago today.” It just doesn’t seem like the thing to throw on someone Monday morning.

So I didn’t say a word about it, to anyone all day long. It doesn’t have that I sub-consciously push it down into oblivion without even trying. I had fooled myself into thinking that I was handling the day very well, I was getting BETTER at it. Look at me laughing and smiling…I can do this.

You know when you’re hung over and you can feel your stomach is upset? The next day you’re no longer drunk but your stomach is still turning and you do everything to stop it…but eventually you have to barf your brains out in order to feel better? I do that with my emotions.

The second I came home and laid in bed…I could feel it creeping up. First it came out as anger. I picked a fight with my boyfriend cause he wouldn’t get off his phone. I walked out and slammed the door. Then I went into the other room, laid down in the dark and began to bawl my eyes out. Fetal positon, ugly crying uncontrollably.

Eventually he found me and realized that the issue went far deeper then his tech obsession. Even with him I didn’t want to remind him what day it was. What can he say to make it better? He remembered without me telling him though.

I have made huge strides in my life in the last 4 years, in some areas. But without a moment of pause I would rewind everything positive in my life to go back to my life 4 years and a few months ago. I would give it all up to have my mom and sister back. I would work a job I hate, live at home, all of it.

Death is a film that covers your entire life, forever. It’s the lens from which you see the world after you lose people you love. Or maybe, that’s just me. Even the most beautiful things in my life are covered in a thin, barely visible film of loss and regret. I just want a time machine, is that too much to ask?

But, I walk through the film coated world anyway. I keep trudging along trying to find myself, new or old. My spirit and heart still feel so severed and my joy always feels so slippery. I am so desperate to keep it, I tend to chase it away.

I’m sad and depressed at the moment. I’m glad I can at least say that here because I can hardly say that to anyone else. But, this is a hard moment…they come and go. I push myself towards joy as much as I can anyway. And overall I will say that I have way more good days then bad.

In a way, writing this is just another way to throw up. It’s not only getting this out…but just writing in general has been calling me. All my creative outlets call to me and I never answer. I have I lot of excuses why I don’t. I want to change that. Something in me says that’s the path to true healing…who knows.

But today, I am sad and heartbroken. I miss my mom so much…