More than a feeling. 33 to go…

I’ve been really homesick recently so I’ve been spending some time reminiscing. Some of my favorite memories of high school are of me and my parents laughing in the kitchen and singing along to the oldies jams that would come on my “Newsies” Pandora station. Journey, Billy Joel, Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams, Rick Springfield and more. One song in particular stands out to me, my mom always loved the song “More Than A Feeling” by Boston. I just remember her dancing around and singing loudly and it always makes me smile.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about feelings this week. I’ve been realizing that feelings, like most things, pass. I had a really hard week, and today I feel great. It’s odd how much things change in such short periods of time. And for people like me it’s really hard not to just ride on the highs and lows that come with each day. You see, I feel things. Hard. I don’t half heartedly feel things, I feel everything with every part of me. When I’m in love, the whole world is the most beautiful place. When I’m depressed, the sun is never coming back. I understand that this isn’t the healthiest way to live and that a lot of life is lived in the in-betweens, this is just how it is for me.

But this dopamine high I’m riding on at the moment will fade. It will be overshadowed by the darkness of winter and the stress of finals. And as we get further into November I find that I’m clinging to the bits of sunshine and the happy moments I can find in between the rainy days. I hate being at the mercy of my emotions. Feeling like I physically cannot get out of bed because there’s no happiness left to keep going on. Crying alone late into the nights and not being able to explain why I’m so damn tired. I know that all of these feelings pass in their time, but until they do I am manipulated by their every whim.

I find myself looking for something that will not pass, and I’ve begun to find it in little things. The love of the people closest to me, the way green tea makes me feel, my love of butt-jokes, or the warmth of sweaters. I’m also starting to understand that there are some things that do not pass. Hope, Joy, Peace. These promise not to fade as time goes on, they’re less a feeling and more of a mindset.

I’m starting to see a change in my life. I can see things differently. I’d like to write a little bit more about this later, but I’m feeling a change even in my brain chemistry. So I’m trying to get in the mindset of Joy and Peace. I don’t really know how to do that, but I think it comes with just looking at the world with a more positive outlook. So we’ll see.

Love you!

Abby

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I know exactly who I am. 35 to go…

A little over a month ago I went to visit my wonderful boyfriend and see one of my favorite comedians, Mike Birbiglia.

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A lady on the street took this in front of the theater we saw Mike Birbiglia in. It’s entirely too adorable not to share. 

We had a really amazing time, and if you’re super interested in our weekend you can read about it here but what I want to talk about is my drive there.

It was a six hour drive from my school to the campsite we were staying at and a good stretch of that was through the frozen wasteland that is Canada where there is no internet and no GPS signal so I found myself listening to the same couple of albums in a row. Naturally, there was lots of Pat the Bunny, FIDLAR, Lana Del Rey, and Ben Rector but there was one thing that really stuck out to me. My roommate and best friend Grace has been making me listen to all sorts of new things and one thing I’ve loved is Marina and the Diamonds. Her album Electra Heart is kind of killer and I’ve probably listened to it a hundred times. Well I was listening to her other album, The Family Jewels, and a couple of things really stuck out to me.

Most of this album is really good, there are some weird bits, but I like it lots. (Tracks 1, 3, 5, 7, 11, and 13 are my favorites.)

I listened to the first song, “Are You Satisfied?” sixteen times on the way there. I’m not kidding. Sixteen. The words just echoed and bounced around in my head for weeks afterwards.

Are you satisfied with an average life?
Do I need to lie to make my way in life?
Are you satisfied with an easy ride?
Once you cross the line, will you be satisfied?

I’ve sort of always believed that no one is satisfied with an average life, (more on that here) but having those words sung to me over and over I realized how much I’m not OK with an average life. Sure, everyone wants to be remembered and immortalized once they’re gone but I want to be noticed while I’m still living. I want people to see the things I’m doing, the places I’m going, the things I’m writing, the words I’m speaking, and see that my life is different. I’ve always wanted to be unique. One thing that frustrates me endlessly is when people say things like “Oh my gosh! You’re exactly like my friend so-and-so.” Public Service Announcement: No one wants to hear that. Tell me that I remind you of someone you know, or that you think I would really get along with your friend, or that we have similar traits, don’t tell me that I’m not enough of a unique person to stand on my own. I understand that I can’t stand out in the mind of every single person I come across, but I don’t want to be forgettable and comparable. I want to make beautiful things and change the people around me for the better.

“Oh No!” has quickly become my new all-time-favorite song. Every time in comes on in my car or while I’m walking around on campus I have to seriously fight the urge to start dancing like a maniac. I lost count of how many times I listened to this song on my trip but it was an ungodly number of times.

I know exactly what I want and who I want to be
I know exactly why I walk and talk like a machine
I’m now becoming my own self-fulfilled prophecy

I’ve been singing these words over and over again for weeks on end and I have no intentions of stopping any time soon. These words have meant so much more to me than I could possibly say. I’ve realized recently that this is the best version of me that has ever existed and I’m really proud of that. I’ve worked really hard to shape myself into the person I am. In a conversation with Grace this week I said “this is the skinniest I’ve ever been in my life,” and it wasn’t until much later that I realized how true that was and how happy that made me. This is the thinnest I’ve ever been, and it’s also the healthiest I’ve ever been. This is the most proud I’ve ever been of my body. This is the most proud I’ve ever been of the person I am. I’m proud of the choices I’m making and the person I’m becoming. I’ve realized that not everyone is going to approve of the person I’ve chosen to be, and I’ve realized that I don’t care. I feel like I’ve stopped trying to please people with my choices, my clothing, my taste in music, the way I talk, the things I write, and the way I am. I’m done trying to fit myself into boxes to make other people happy. I know exactly who I am and who I want to be.

So I’m going to keep dancing to those words and invite you to join me. Dance along to knowing who you are and who you want to be, or dance along to not knowing and trying to figure it out as you go.  We are our own self-fulfilled prophecies. We decide who we are.

Love you!

Abby

Pat The Bunny. 37 to go…

I’ve really struggled with depression for several years and one of the main ways I have chosen to self-medicate is through music. I’ve spent a lot of time pumping happy, lovey-dovey music into my head to avoid the darkness that creeps around the corners of my mind and preys on me when I’m weakest. My friends at school would make fun of my taste in “white-bread” music that all sounds the same, and I didn’t have it in me to tell them that it was the only thing I had to help me hide from my demons.

Well things have changed. I’ve changed. I’ve started to deal with my depression openly and honestly, and I think it’s come with being physically healthier, being more honest with the people close to me, and acknowledging that there is a problem. I’ll write a little bit more about this in detail later this month, but I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I don’t have to numb my mind with sappy music.

Living with Grace and Mike means that I have listened to a lot of new and interesting things. From K-Pop, to Wu Tang Clan there is almost always music playing in our house. Recently, we’ve been listening to a lot of Pat The Bunny and it’s kind of been changing my life. I’ll warn you straight up, his music is not super family friendly. It’s abrasive and angry and honest. It’s also full of hope. You should definitely take a listen to it though, it’s sort of been changing my life.

A couple of weeks ago I drove with my dear friends Grace, Evan, and Brandon to see Pat The Bunny at a tiny stone church in Vermont.

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The show was absolutely amazing. I cried. A lot. I got to shake Pat’s hand and in that moment I couldn’t put the words together to tell him about how his music was changing my life. There was a moment when everyone in the room starts singing along to “We Are All Compost in Training” and everyone screams along THE WORLD NEEDS MORE SPINACH, NOT MORE MOTHERF****** LIKE ME and I just sort of lost it. How true is it? The world doesn’t need more people like me, the world needs more spinach.

A lot of his lines are funny, and Grace and I sing them loudly while driving.

Seat belts are for people with time to die, hell, I don’t even have time to sleep.

And then some are so incredibly relatable.

Nothing’s free but time when you’re so damn poor.

And there are some that make me cry every single time.

Your heart is a muscle the size of your fist so keep on loving, keep on fighting, and hold on for your life.

These are words I’ve been listening to over and over again, reminding me that there is hope and that choosing to numb my mind in any way is not the way to deal with the pain I may feel. It’s been serving as a reminder that I’m going to make it out in the end. It’s been showing me the importance of being socially informed and speaking up. It’s given me something to laugh at and sing along to and a way to say a lot of the things I’ve been feeling.

So maybe this isn’t your style and maybe you don’t connect with Pat’s music at all, but it’s a 35 minute album that’s worth listening to in depth at least once.

Love you!

Abby

Making room. 44 to go…

Have you ever read something at 1:42 am that changes your life?

“This year taught me that my loneliness has more to do with myself than anyone else. The loneliest I will ever be is when I don’t have the strength to love myself.”
-Marianna Paige

I’m sitting here crying over a boy because I’m frustrated and confused and hurt and oh so unsure when I scroll past this on my Tumblr feed. It might as well have been a giant finger pointing at me, a giant neon sign screaming at me:

YOU HAVE NOT HAD THE STRENGTH TO LOVE YOURSELF AND THIS ISN’T YOUR FAULT

I’ve been really low, like, really low. I’ve been depressed, unmotivated, and confused. Honestly, I’ve let feeling like this convince me that there was something wrong with me. That I have some incurable illness, or that I’m some freak, or that I’m just weak and therefore less than others. But I’m starting to get it. I haven’t had the strength to love myself. Honestly, I’ve had the strength to do very little for a long time. I’ve been trying to find things to fill this deep lonely hole in my chest: my friends, this boy, a banjo, work, my siblings, Game of Thrones, late nights, my parents and so many other things. I haven’t given myself space to love myself.

I can’t keep living like this. I feel like I’m dying. I need to breathe again.

So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to stop listening to happy music and start listening to good music. I’m going to read a book. I’m going to sleep. I’m going to get out of bed before noon. I’m going to cook. I’m going to pray. I’m going to go to church and listen. I’m not going to wear makeup. I’m going to go to the beach and listen to the waves. I’m going to cry if I need to. I’m going to laugh. I’m going to talk to my mom. I’m going to go to the doctor. I’m going to play my banjo. I’m going to clean my room. I’m going to journal a lot.

This song is healing me right now. “Life is not the mountaintops, it’s the walking in between.”

I took a couple of days off of work this week to go on a mini vacation and sort my life out. I’m going to be selfish this week. Maybe I won’t love myself this week, but I’ll make room to try.

How do you get your strength back? You rest and then you take it one step at a time.

Love you!

Abby

The middle of the afternoon. 46 to go…

I always find myself alone late at night wishing I wasn’t so alone. My days are full of activity and people and laughter and fun but the sun goes down and I begin to feel empty and alone.

I guess I’ve always felt like this. I remember being 5 years old and dreading bed time because I didn’t want to be alone.

I’m just such a night person, I could (and often do) stay up until ungodly hours and then sleep til noon and feel like I’ve had a productive and meaningful day. I feel most alive when the stars are up, I feel like there is so much potential and freedom and space at night. Have you ever driven somewhere at 4am? There’s not a single other person on the road. You can drive for miles and miles without seeing anyone. You’re totally alone, you rule the world.

At school we would always make the joke “oh it’s only midnight, it’s practically the middle of the afternoon!” Unless you’re like me you have no idea how accurate that is. My day is just starting at midnight. I write at midnight, I read at midnight, I think, clean, sing, compose, dance, decide at midnight. It’s the time that I feel the most alert and ready to take on the world.

At school I was never alone at night. Between watching movies into the wee hours of the morning with my best friends and having a roommate, I could count on never being alone during my favorite hours of the day. It’s so  hard to be home where my family goes to bed by 10pm and my friends have jobs and responsibilities in the mornings. I’m often left alone at night with Tumblr and my fuzzy socks and something about this can be really destructive.

You see, I start to get really sad late at night. I start to feel this deep loneliness aching in my bones, the need for human contact clawing at my insides, a dark sadness settling in my veins. I physically feel it. And the more I feel like this the more I find myself reblogging depressing pictures, writing angsty poetry, and listening to sad music.

I’ve been listening to this song over and over again and I think it’s breaking my heart.

Pretty girl with the butterscotch hair
Your eyes and the sunshine smile you wear
I can see how you make his soul glow

Have you ever heard anything so beautiful? I want to be that girl with the butterscotch hair. I want it more than words can say and more than makes sense.

It’s like my thoughts have time to catch up to me, maybe I always feel like this but I just manage to run away from these thoughts during the days and it’s only when I slow down that I remember how I feel.

Maybe it’s just been one too many late nights alone, but the hard days are getting harder. I’m finding it harder and harder to keep my head up on the bad days. I honestly feel like I’m dying on the inside some days, like I’ve run out of the will to keep going. I keep telling myself that I’m OK and that the sun will come up and that there will be people around who I know love me but it’s like I can’t pull myself out of these slumps. I have no idea how to deal with this besides just continuing to run away from these feelings. I need hugs and help and I don’t know how to ask for either.

Abby

The Likes of Us. 47 to go…

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”
– John Green

Have you ever listened to music like this? Music that has the potential to heal souls and fix the world?  I’ll admit that I’m one of those horrible people who discovers music I like and just listens to it over and over again until I know every single world. I can’t think about anything else. I bathe myself in the words and the chords and the rhythm until it feels like a part of my own skin. I can’t bare to listen to anything else for weeks on end.

original-time_traveler_cover_squareYou can download this album for free from Noisetrade.

If you follow me on Tumblr or Twitter, (which you definitely should be) then you know I have been listening to this album on repeat for 10 days straight. According to my iTunes, I’ve listened to this album 36 times through (it’ll be 37 by the time I finish writing this.) Which means I’ve listened to this album between 3 and 4 times a day, which is up to four hours a day. I would listen to it more if there were more hours in the day. I like all of it. From the fun and upbeat songs to the slow and beautiful ones, I just love it.

This album is changing my life and I can’t even explain how or why. It’s like it’s fixing my heart. I don’t know, I can’t even make sense of how it makes me feel.

The song “Indian Summer” is probably my favorite because I just love the words.

I’m looking for the girl with Sunshine in her soul. 

Something about that speaks to me in a way I don’t understand. I want to be described like that. I want someone to look at me and look for the words to describe me and only be able to say “it’s like… it’s like she has Sunshine in her soul. Sunshine with a capital S.” Maybe this has something to do with my love affair with not only physical Sunshine, but also the idea of Sunshine. I think it really does have to do with The Girl I Want To Be, which I’ve written a lot about. I have this idea of who I want to be, and I’m getting closer and closer every day, but this song just embodies this beautiful, Sunshine-y, peaceful kind of girl I want to be. I don’t know. It just speaks to me.

I also love “Hurricane” probably for the same reasons. As a self-proclaimed tree-hugger, the language it uses just speaks to me.

when you grab my hand
I can’t move no I can’t think
you course through my veins
like a flood in the streams
you waken me up
like a bolt of lightning
how can you love me
so fierce and so sweet

And then the chorus is just so strikingly beautiful.

in the drought of my soul
oh i’m losing control
oh how you know how to kiss like the rain
you stole my heart like a hurricane

I could listen to those words over and over again. “Oh how you know how to kiss like the rain.” Isn’t that just stunning? I want someone to talk about my like this. I want it so badly. I want to be a storm, so fierce and so sweet, who moves gracefully while still being a whirlwind. Does that make any sense?

I feel like this album is full of the love songs I wish were written for me (that sounds really sad, but I promise it isn’t.) It just makes me feel happy and loved on the inside. Maybe I’m just filling my desire for summer-lovin’ (had me a blast) with this album, and I think that’s OK. This is not to say that I’m discontent, I’m so very happy and I just feel like this has done nothing but help water the peace and joy that’s planted in my heart. Does that make sense? I don’t know.

Sorry if none of this made sense. I just am loving this right now and it’s making me feel a lot of things (mostly good things) and I wanted to share it with you. I can’t make much sense of how I feel right now, both about this and just about my life in general, but I knew I needed to share this. It’s the sort of thing that haunts me until I share it with everyone. I just have a lot of feelings about a lot of things and this album is helping me to make sense of it all. I don’t know. I just don’t know. I want this to make sense, and I’m not sure it does. Oh well, I’ve made less sense over less important things.

Mission of the Day- Listen to this album the whole way through and then tell me what you think? Does anything speak to you? What’s your favorite song?

Question of the Day- What have you been listening to this summer? Do you have any suggestions for other things for me to listen to?

Love you!

Abby

One perfect day. 51 to go…

If every day were as beautiful as today was I would die from over exposure to beauty and love.

I went to church with my two dear friends David and Meg. The sun was shining, the breeze smelled like summer, the trees were blooming, the birds were singing. All was beautiful. The worship at church was beautiful and uplifting and encouraging. They showed a beautiful video about mothers for Mother’s Day which made me incredibly homesick, but also deeply thankful for my beautiful and kind and wonderful mother. After church we decided to go to the lilac festival which is happening this week.

We parked at Meg’s house and walked a good ways to the lilac festival. We all held hands and walked in stride and marveled at the beauty of our little corner of the world and laughed together. Walking around the festival there were so many beautiful people in happy little dresses and gorgeous long skirts and Meg and I couldn’t help but point out all of the stunning people we walked past. There was so much to see and so many people so we just explored a little bit before our hungry stomachs got the better of us and we had to stop and eat. We sat down on a grassy hill and listened to this incredible group called Driftwood. The female vocalist had this slow and sultry voice that just drew me in. We listened to them for a while and watched all of the people around us. There were all of these wonderful people in long skirts who were dancing and just thoroughly enjoying the music.

Driftwood finished up and while we were waiting for the next group to come on my mom called me. I’ve been missing her so much and it was so good to just talk even for a little bit and laugh about all of the silly things that have been going on. Good heavens, I love her.

Between the two groups David, Meg, and I just laid in the grass and enjoyed the sun and then David said “just sitting in the sun with two of my best friends. This is great.” I just stopped and looked at both of them and was filled with so much happiness. It’s not every day that someone tells you that you’re one of their best friends, and it’s not every day that you realize that they’re yours. I’ve spent almost the entire weekend with my lovely friend Katie (who took my side bar picture, aint she great?) and David and more and more I’ve been realizing that they’re some of my best friends and that I love them both so much. I’ve been so blessed by Meg and her kind heart and encouraging attitude. Sitting there made me realize that she’s been the big sister I’ve never had and I was so grateful. More and more I’ve just been looking at my friends here and thinking that I don’t know what I’ll do without them for three months. They’ve come to be such big parts of my life over the past couple months. Grace, Kelly, Mike, David, Katie, Meg and so many more. I just love them all so much.

The second group that got up to play was The Adam Ezra Group who were also fantastic. They sang all of these great songs about beautiful women who live in the mountains and don’t wear shoes. My kind of people! Then in the middle of one of the songs the lead vocalist started improvising and I honestly can’t remember all of what he said, but it was beautiful. It was all about the Sunshine and good friends and happy music and love and joy and peace. He said the most beautiful thing: “I don’t know what I did to deserve this perfect day.”  I was overwhelmed with how incredibly happy I felt. I just sat there hugging Meg and thanking God for the friends he’s given me and for the Sunshine he’s placed in my life. I was reminded of all the ways in which God has provided good things for me this semester.

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David, Meg and me at the lilac festival. Not gonna lie, we’re kind of adorable.

Today has been a little vacation from the four week funk I’ve been living in. Maybe I’ll feel horrible tomorrow, but days like today serve to remind me that the sun still shines even if I can’t see it. It gives me hope that this funk will end and things will be good again. For just today, everything was perfect.

Love you!!

Abby

PS- I used the word beauty/beautiful 11 times in this post. There are just no other words for how great everything is and for how much I love my friends. Everything is just so beautiful! (Make that 12)