I Love Love. And Chocolate.

I love Valentine’s day. I really do. I love love in general. I love seeing people start dating, get engaged, get married, or have kiddos. It’s beautiful to watch people experience love. I adore how we met stories, first kiss stories, and proposal stories. I love remembering Valentine’s day as a kid. My mom would cover the house in pink paper hearts with notes on them, draw hearts on the mirrors in dry erase marker, and one time we ate dinner on big red heart shaped plates. I loved it. I love love.

Have you ever looked at a person and you feel like a balloon is expanding in your chest? That warmth that spreads out from your smile, to your ears, then down your spine? I’m sure there’s names for these, but really it’s love, isn’t it? Love feels like something. It’s different for some people, but I think there are some universal signs. Why else would there be an entire day delegated for the exchange of chocolate and flowers? For me love feels like a hand holding mine, or a gentle kiss on my forehead; letters or voice messages, a quick text to tell me good morning. What does it feel like for you?

It’s fun to think about, love. The small things that put a smile on your face or make you giggle in pure happiness. The way a person’s smile brightens the room and how their voice sounds when it says your name. It doesn’t even need to be one person. I adore when I go home to my family after being gone a while and I can hear my sisters giggle as they run to hug me. Sitting at the table, smiling and taking the teasing of my brother. My family feels like love to me. My friends feel like love, when they stop me in the hall just to squeeze my hand or insist that we get coffee that weekend. Love is my people.

Love is scary too. In a new place, with new people, love can be scary because there is so much unknown territory. I don’t know these people or how to make them laugh or if they like hugs, I don’t know how to love them. And I don’t know if they’ll love me. Love is vulnerable, it’s putting yourself out there for other people. Love is scary. But it’s worth it, isn’t it? The fear of putting yourself out there is worth the acceptance you receive in relationship with others. Because we need love too.

It’s quite the conundrum sometimes. Love is scary, but we need and crave it. So, there is a decision to be made here. Do you fear love more than you need it? We aren’t made to fear, so, really, the decision is already made. However, you need to make the choice yourself as well. You need to decide to love love more than you fear love. Because loving out of fear isn’t love. Perfect love casts out fear. But love, oh love does wonders. Love brings the dead to life, gives song it’s sound, and colors the world. Love is as necessary as air, my friends. Love is love. And love is yours. And love is mine. Love is vulnerable. It’s scary. It’s important. Love is necessary. Love is here, love is now. Love is fearless. Wow. I love love.

 

My Worst Critic and Biggest Fan

Predictably, I forgot I had a blog. To catch you up, I’m still in Nashville and I’m still writing songs at the CMC (Contemporary Music Center). I have started a couple recording projects and I have spent only two or three nights in the CMC working until the wee hours of the morning. I wrote a sweet song with words compiled from people helping me through my anxiety attacks and then I wrote an angry ex-boyfriend song. I have song ideas coming out of my ears and the fingers on my left hand are losing feeling in the tips because of guitar calluses. I am currently prepping to perform in a live show later this week. I’m only slightly terrified this time.

Let’s get this out of the way first: I love performing. Once I’m singing I’m having so much fun, but nerves are a thing too. I’m singing a song carefully pieced together in my hands and someone might not like it. Someone could dislike the lyrics, my voice, or the way I hold the microphone. Luckily, this isn’t American Idol and I don’t have to worry about hearing Simon Cowell saying “it’s a no from me” in that disapproving tone. The critic I worry about the most is me.

I will always end up being harder on myself than others. Not only do I hold the highest expectations of myself but I also have the best view of my weaknesses. I am with myself 24/7, which seem like a silly thought, but sometimes it is hard. There are days that I just can’t handle how my brain talks to me or how I behave in certain situations. I can hear if I sang one note of a run after the chorus a little off. I can feel if I was moving awkwardly when I swayed during the last line of the third verse. I am my own worst critic.

But I am also my biggest fan. I can look into the mirror some days and absolutely adore what I see. I can dress how I know I feel most confident, I can spend the day in power stances and thinking positively. I have the ability to change how I’m feeling and thinking, though when I was younger I firmly insisted I couldn’t. It’s true, you can change how you feel. I have found that the key is giving validity to yourself and your feelings.

I can address my feeling of self doubt, let it exist for a minute or so, and then look at it more critically. Why am I doubting myself? Is it because I missed a note in that rehearsal of a song? Okay, I got it wrong once but I can do better next time. I won’t lie, it is so hard. There are days that giving the feelings validity is dangerous and I come too close to giving it control. But I am the human being with a brain and God-given gifts and free will, I am the one making the calls here. I am in control.

I may be my own worst critic, but I have the ability to conquer myself as well. I can prove myself wrong just as easily as I can prove others wrong. I can tear myself down or build myself up, it is all up to me. I can make decisions I know I will be proud of later or I can make choices I know I will regret later. It’s all up to me. It’s scary. But it’s worth it. I can fail at convincing myself to get out of bed on time, I can give myself the best pep talks before a performance. I can make or break my mind, because I am my worst critic and biggest fan.