Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Path I Could Have Avoided

As I meander down this little path of healing I'm on right now, there is a voice inside my head that speaks. It tells me that I wouldn't have to be walking this path, if I had only listened.

This path isn't a surprise. I have people in my life, who love me, who saw it coming.... before I even knew the path was there, they saw it coming. And I was warned, cautioned, advised, whatever you want to call it -- out of love, out of concern for me.

But I set off on the path anyway, sure that I could handle it.

And so that voice, it says, "You could have avoided all of this if you had only taken the advice given to you in the first place."

The voice is probably right. I could have.

But I think that, in some ways, I needed to walk the path anyway. I needed to walk it out. I needed to learn the lessons for myself. I needed to change how I thought about myself, and I'm not sure that would have happened in the same way if I had never set out on it in the first place.

This time, heading out on this rocky part of the path was a conscious choice. I know why I'm on it because I chose it. And I'm not seeking out closure this time or the reasons.  I don't need them.

I know why I'm here. While it may not be what I would have chosen when I first started out, it's what I'm choosing now. And perhaps that's something I needed to come to on my own.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

I Care.

All this said about trying to become someone who cares less what people think...  I mean, it's good. Caring too much about what people who aren't even important to me think of me isn't a healthy thing. I want to learn to let that consume me less. And I feel like I'm making important strides toward that.

But the truth is that I'm never going to become someone who just doesn't care what anyone thinks about anything.

I'm always going to care. I'm always going to be the person that feels perhaps a little too much.  But honestly, I don't want to become not that person. It's a part of who I am, and it's not something I'm ashamed of being.

I'm always going to care... but I think that I can learn to care in a way that is healthier for me.


I think I'm going to let a friendship go. It's been rocky for awhile... unbalanced, not honest. I've always been the one to fix it.... the one to say I'm sorry and I'm willing to try again. I've always been the one that cares. But I don't think that's going to be me this time.

And that's not to say that I wouldn't be willing to try again... But I'm not going to chase it to fix it.

Probably, that will mean it's over.  And... I care.

Monday, March 23, 2015

LENT: A Musical Serenade

I slept in yesterday and needed to add a walk to my day if I was going to keep up with my biggest competitors on Fitbit. So, I threw on a jacket, plugged in my headphones, and set of with my beagle for a little jaunt in the almost-rain before I ran out of sunlight.

To tell the truth, I was feeling sort of plucky. Happy to be outside. Happy to be by myself. Happy to have my music with me.

So I started singing along as I walked.  At first, quietly.... but as I got more and more into it, I got less quiet. Encased in a world of Meghan Trainor, Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves, and a stray My Chemical Romance track, I was happily dancing along to my own beat, ignoring the cars that drove by and just enjoying myself.

Eventually, my walk took me back into neighborhoods.  With people.  With people outside. With people outside close enough to hear me.

At first, if I noticed anyone outside, I quieted down. I either stopped singing or brought my volume down really low -- until I noticed myself doing it.  I said to myself, "Hey! You're having a good time! What do you really care if someone hears you?"

So for the rest of the walk, I stopped quieting down. I just kept right on singing and bouncing, with a smile and a wave to whoever thought I was insane.

And I ended it happy. And also not arrested, so that was good.


I don't really know that I've tested this whole project well... Things like yesterday are good things and things that I'm happy to have pressed myself to do. I think that they are good exercises and that it's positive to push myself outside of my comfort zone.

At the same time, I know that it isn't these situations that are really my problem. It's not really the little "she's a little weird" looks that get to me... but the hatred that gets passed your way during the big things.

And in many ways, I've taken myself out of the big things. For several years, the big hurts have come from within a community that I have largely spent the past several weeks removing myself from.  Not entirely -- I still have friends within it that I would not want to let go.  But in many ways, I've removed myself from it... there are things that I just don't want to be involved with anymore, and I find that I don't care that much about the favor that we're all supposed to be currying.

But I think that's a good thing and a healthy thing... However, I feel that not putting myself in a position to hear the hateful things is not the same thing as not caring about the hateful things.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Letting Go of What "Is"

Letting go of what "is" isn't the hard part.

Chances are that when you get to a place that you're even thinking about letting go of something, it's what "is" that you want to get away from. That's not really what is holding you back.

It's the hope... and it's the dreams... and ... mostly, it's the hope of what could have been. Maybe it's the memory of what "was" and the hope that it could be the "is" again. Hope is powerful. It can suck you in for so long, that hope that keeps you strung along for moment upon moment.

But you eventually have to come to a place where you accept that you cannot force the "was" to become the "now." You can't will your hopes to become reality.

And you have to decide.

  • How long are you willing to swim through the status quo of what is? Especially if it's something that makes you unhappy.
  • What sacrifices of yourself are you willing to make in order to change it?
  • What will you lose in the process?
  • Is it even worth it?

Sometimes you have to stop focusing on the illusions of what could be or what could have been, and you have to take a good hard look at what is reality now.

And you choose based on that. When you strip away your illusions, your unhappy unreality is a lot easier to let go.

Friday, March 13, 2015

LENT: Taking Lent to Celtic Thunder

It was time to talk less, do more. It's all very good to talk about not caring what people think when you're busy and too hyper-scheduled to bother much with anything. It's talking about something that you don't have to actively practice.  It's easy to not care when there's nothing to care about. But what about when there is?

I had a very Celtic Thunder-centered past week. I started by going to a concert in my hometown and spending the weekend with my family. This was all very nice. CT doesn't come to Eugene very often and because of the crackpot way they pledge that show, there really isn't a huge base of overinvolved fans there. (Nobody get excited, I put myself in the same category.) So, it was honestly nice to go and simply enjoy the show without all the trappings of the fan community.  Relaxing and lovely.

The next event would be different and I knew it. I was going up to Canada with my best friend, for our much loved Abbotsford road trip.

For a long time, I have been involved with the show and its producer in a minor role. As such, for a long time, I have felt like I had to fill a certain role when I went to their shows. I felt like I had to represent. I felt like I had to make nice, and be bubbly and enthusiastic, and pretend with people who I knew were cruel to me behind my back. It was the one part of attending Celtic Thunder shows that I hated the most. It was fake and difficult and unproductive -- they were just going to go home and talk shit anyway.

This time, I decided I wasn't going to do that. I wasn't going to be rude. But, I wasn't going to pretend that people I didn't even like were my best friends and I was just so happy to see them.  Smile and wave is polite and I could do that honestly. But really, I was there to enjoy my favorite show with one of my absolute favoritest people in the world. I wasn't going to waste it with pretend smiles and uncomfortable small talk.

So I didn't. And it was kind of awesome. I just enjoyed myself... and enjoyed the companionship with my friend... without having to be someone that I didn't really want to be.


I recently read something on the internet that when you are learning to care less what people think of you, one way to do that is to actively put yourself in situations where you might feel a bit embarrassed. So...  later in the evening, when I was in a situation that I would ordinarily dial myself back on... when it was around people who I knew would have the tendency to be enthusiastic gossipers, I didn't dial it back.

On purpose.

And you know what?  That was okay too!  

I don't honestly know what those people thought... and that's okay with me.  I don't really care. The people that I care about love me... and I would suppose that this is what really matters.

So the lesson.

I spent a whole evening being who I wanted to be, around people that would ordinarily make me feel like I needed to be someone else. I did it unapologetically.

And I didn't die.

In fact....  I was a lot happier.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Thoughts on Celtic Thunder's "Very Best of" Tour, Spring 2015

Seven years ago, I flipped the channel and fell in love with five Irish and Scottish singers.

Seven years is a long time to follow a musical show around...  Lots of time to get bored and move on to something else Lots of time to realize you're a crazy person and you should probably do something about that--  and yet, seven years later, I find that I'm still a little bit in love.

I attended Celtic Thunder's "Very Best Of..." tour last night, and it was sort of like a surreal sort of time travel.  They sang so many songs that I remember with fondness and nostalgia from the early days of Celtic Thunder --

But the players are better.

The players are a lot better and a lot stronger. Apparently, a singer can grow a lot in seven years.

The ensemble numbers were really fantastic.  Most of them were signature "fun" pieces and were honestly just enjoyable and delightful.  The last couple years, it seems like CT has done a lot to amp up the acting side of the ensembles, and that's very apparent in the numbers in this tour. Seven Drunken Nights -- oh my heaven!, Place in the Choir, Galway Girl...

I smiled. I smiled a lot.  And laughed and clapped and just quite honestly enjoyed myself to the hilt.

Admittedly, Caledonia made me cry and seriously reconsider the choice to not wear waterproof mascara.

Keith Harkin was really good with Now We Are Free.   Now, I don't normally like that song very much, but I quite enjoyed it last night.  Really nice job.  It was so so lovely to have Damian McGinty, our own little Hollywood star, back in the fold for a tour. From braces and teenage awkwardness to the deeper voice of the young man he's become, it was a joy to be able watch him perform again in this setting. I've always loved his Home, and last night was no exception -- only now he's graduated from his signature two singing expressions to a more varied performance. I don't know how thrilled he is to be singing songs he did when he was 16 years old, but Breaking Up is Hard to Do was hilarious. Kudos.

Emmett O'Hanlon, our newcomer, has such a beautiful voice. It is a voice made for "wow" songs and I can't wait to hear future shows where he's singing songs picked for him. I really loved his rendition of Remember Me; he very much did it justice and I was well-pleased.  And belatedly, I  realized that I was so focused and interested in his performance in That's a Woman that I totally missed my favorite part of Ryan's lines!

Colm Keegan is... oh let's be honest... I have a wee crush on Colm. Goodlooking, sweet as pie, adorable to the max, and does things personally that warms my heart. But, I'm not a rose-colored glasses fan anymore either, so I will tell you that when Colm came to the show, there were two areas that I hoped he would grow in. I wanted him to show me more of the emotion in a song -- I want to feel the song, not just hear it -- and I hoped he'd grow into a little more vocal strength.  I was really pleased with him last night. Both things, yes yes yes.  I love Black Velvet Band, always have --  but ah, I was entranced with Katie. (Also, he was in my Meet & Greet and makes me so twitterpated.  Even if he can't spell.)

<<--- Neil Byrne... makes me happy. Like... just makes me happy. He is the smiley-est one of the bunch. It doesn't matter how many times you grin stupidly at him, he will nod and smile enthusiastically at you right back AND HE MAKES ME HAPPY. Truthfully, there was not enough Neil in this show and I wish we had more. But, I tell you what... Neil Byrne is comic genius. He is so funny...  SO FUNNY. Like Seven Drunken Nights?  I know that's an ensemble song, but Neil is so freaking funny that I don't even care about anyone else in it. It's all Neil and he makes me happy!!

Now Ryan Kelly...  This section is a re-write. I originally wrote this review after seeing the show one time, and I came away from that performance just the slightest bit disgruntled about Ryan. Ryan's my favorite, and I didn't really want to say that -- so I wrote around him. I have learned in the many years that I've been penning my own little responses to Celtic Thunder that it is insanely easy to use a lot of pretty words... but end up saying nothing of substance. It sounds nice and complimentary... and maybe no one even notices... but you know that you haven't really said anything.  You know that you've avoided saying what you really think. And that's what happened when I wrote about Ryan -- I've been meaning to rewrite this section for awhile with more honest thoughts... and so I finally am.

First, before the protective hounds come out... why did I feel disgruntled?  It took me a long six-hour drive home to figure that out. One of my closest friends had seen the show a few days before I did, and had pretty well gushed over Ryan's performance -- about how well he performed, about how much he had grown, about how it was the best he'd ever sounded. So with that in my head, I sat in my seat with very high expectations... and when the concert was over, I didn't feel the same way. Please don't mistake.. he was good! But I didn't come away with feeling like he was so much more awesome than the last time I'd seen him perform... and so I felt a little disappointed. It took me the drive home to realize that my friend was comparing him to the last time she had seen CT live (2 years ago) and I was comparing him to the last time I had seen CT live (3 months earlier).  Different comparison. And after finally figuring out the source of my disgruntlement, I was glad to have one more show to watch with more normal expectations.

Ryan was really good. It was like seeing Old School Ryan Kelly... but with a whole lot more confidence. He had great command of the stage, vocals never in question. And, for me, always enjoyable to watch. This tour is very heavy on the Dark Destroyer... he seems to permeate much of the show somehow.  And how you feel about that depends, in some ways, very much on how you feel about the Dark Destroyer.

I have a Love/Hate relationship with the Dark Destroyer. I was here for the beginning and was very taken in by him in the early days. That handsome leer is hard to resist, isn't it? And he's fun to watch... Ryan makes him fun to watch.  But at the same time... as my years as a fan have gone on, there is a knowledge under the surface that the Dark Destroyer is kind of an ass, a guy who thinks turning on the charm will make up for the fact that he's a self-absorbed jerk. 

I've realized of late, after seven years of being a devoted Ryan Kelly connoisseur, I really like Ryan best when he surprises me. Maybe that's a style I didn't know he could sing well... or a ballad that he brings a certain emotion to.  And maybe I like him best, even though it's his signature character, when he is something besides the Dark Destroyer. I like seeing Ryan stretch.

So I enjoyed watching the performances he gave very much... It was a sweet sort of nostalgia. I'm kind of upset with him right now... but hopefully that will fade and I can go back to simply looking forward to the next new CT product... and the opportunity to see him surprise me once again.

Of course, the one thing is that we were missing George Donaldson. The group of guys sang Life With You, which was fun and sweet and a fitting tribute.  It was more moments...  in an ensemble song, a line would go by and the thought would flash, "This is George's line...." and my heart would briefly twinge in sadness. And that is life and loss.

Oh, the drum battle in Raggle Taggle Gypsy was fantastic, by the way.  The new "I Can Play 47 Different Instruments" guy, whose name I didn't catch, is awesome!!

So that's my Best of Celtic Thunder tour take. May the Thunder roll on...

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

LENT: What's Really Going On?

I had some surgery (light, I'm fine) on Friday so I've been swimming in a slight painkiller-fog all weekend. I tried to dig into some books that I got at the library but found that my brain just couldn't focus for very long.

A lot of the books I got focused on people pleasing. It was the closest thing I could find to what I feel I'm looking for (or that's gotten to the library so far). As I perused the opening chapters of the first one, I began to think that maybe it isn't really people pleasing that's my problem.

I do think that people pleasing is INVOLVED... but I don't think it's the main problem. It's a side effect. A result. I end up people pleasing... but I'm just as much a deliberate People Pisser Off as I am a People Pleaser.  And I think that they're both rooted in caring too much what other people think.

That's where I feel I need to focus. Why do I let other people matter so much? Why do I let their beliefs (both about me and others) trump my own? I cognitively know and accept that not everyone is going to like everyone else, agree with everyone else, etc. Certainly, I know that I don't feel that way about everyone who's ever touched my life.

What is really going on when I can't let go of someone else's words? What is really going on when I alter my thoughts and my beliefs and my self to fit their needs and opinions?

I think that somewhere it's rooted in the beliefs and confidence (or lack thereof) I've had in myself.

Every Girl has her Breaking Point

"No matter how strong a girl is, 
she always has a breaking point."

I read that and I first think of breaking down... That we all have that point where we just can't do it anymore, and we break. We crumble into pieces to the floor and weep. We wonder how we got here, how we'll get out. We hole up, we self-protect, we mourn.

But there's another breaking point, too.

We get to the edge the same. And something snaps the same. But the result is different.

We find strength that we didn't know we had. We find resolve. We find self-respect and belief and power.

This isn't the kind of strength to keep going in the status quo. That's not the kind that I mean. This is the kind where you look inside and you realize that you are worth more. You can do more. You deserve more.

And you stop taking what you've been taking. You stand up. Maybe that means that you finally fight back... but maybe that means you simply stop accepting people into your life who don't believe that you're worth more, who don't believe that you can do more, and who don't believe that you deserve more.

You stop accepting "the best you can expect," because it simply is not true You know that it isn't. You know that there is more. And when you get to that breaking point, the lie of "the best you can expect" is simply not one that you are willing to believe anymore.

Stand up. Sometimes breaking is the best thing that can happen to you.
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