My Instrumental Love

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   It’s been nearly 15 years ago from the first time I had decided to pick up a lonely acoustic guitar that had been abandoned at my house by an old friend. I think it was just meant to be. I was alone, bored, and saddened by a heartbreak. And there it was, propped up against the living room wall, blanketed with stickers, as if it had been left there just for me. I picked it up, did a practice strum, not having any idea what I was doing. I then continued to pick the strings, listening for any recognizable sounds. That day, I played a song on that lonely guitar, “Heard it Through the Grapevine”. I was stricken with joy and pride. The more I played, the less lonely we were, me and that old guitar. It was definitely the beginning of a long term, beautiful relationship.

   Through the years, when I was happy in a relationship and no longer alone, my poor guitar would take a back seat to the music I felt in my heart. We had one of those on/off relationships for several years. It wasn’t until about 8 years ago, I decided that if our relationship was going to blossom into something greater, like any relationship, we would have to spend more time together. I continued to play my rhythms, sing while it hummed, cry over it, hold it in my arms and just listen. Most of the songs I played were lame to be honest. The slow sad kind of music that not many want to listen to. I hadn’t yet found my sound. Which was so frustrating considering all the years that we’d been together. 

   Flash forward a few years to a heart broken, world spiraling out of control, and my guitar had become my only peace. It was the only thing that I could count on being there, listening, not judging, and never leaving my side. I allowed my guitar to heal me as I had healed it several times. I buried myself in music. Playing tunes that I never imagined I would ever be able to play, and yet there I was, playing some of my favorite songs. They sounded a little amateur, I’ll give it that. But that certainly didn’t take away from the pride and peace that swelled within me.

   You see, most of the songs I play are my own written originals. I have forgotten more songs that I’ve written over the years than I can even count. That is also because I continue to write new songs, and decide to scrap the ones that I don’t really like. My style was always rhythmic strumming, which had always limited my tunes to that style of song play. About eight months ago, I decided to expand my versatility with the guitar. I sat down and began to practice fingerpicking. The sounds that come from a fingerpicked guitar are astounding and somewhat haunting, and definitely my favorite style of guitar. My guitar heroes were always people such as Jim Croce, Jewel and other masters of guitar. To my surprise, I’m relatively good at it. It does help that I had so many years of becoming familiar with it before even venturing into that style. It always seemed to be an unattainable talent.  “I can’t play like that,” I would always say when I heard a great fingerpicking tune. Just last night, I sat down with the tablature of one of my favorite tunes, “Butterflies” by Sia Furler. This was not my first attempt to play this song. Years ago, I had tried and failed miserably. I will admit that the drive to play some of these awesome melodies were a significant part of my motivation to teach myself how to fingerpick. As I sat there, beginning to pluck, I told myself, “You can play this.” To my great pleasure, I did. Now it’s nowhere perfect, but with any new thing that you learn, practice makes better. 

   I chose the guitar, but there are so many options that people have. Find something, stick with it, practice and you will grow with it. Having something that you are great at is an amazing feeling, unlike any other feeling that you will experience throughout life. I don’t play to get famous, and it amazes me that people think I’m talented. It just came to be and now it just is. I truly practiced for years, and sounded terrible for a lot of them. This is just a small glimpse into that relationship, and I hope everyone has an opportunity to express themselves with their love, their passion, their joy. The guitar is mine, what’s yours?

The Bridge Between Youth and Elder

Age Difference

Should this be the time of my life? Am I entering the years of my prime? These are the questions I find myself asking as I sit surrounded by people of all ages. It is a surreal realism when I can feel the age difference and then reflect to my own previous state of being back from my younger adult days.

Okay, so I’m not that old yet. Just pushing thirty, but being surrounded by fresh new adults is a reality check. I am on the 9th hole while they are on about the 4th. I can only imagine what it is like for the older generation living on the 16th or 18th hole. The ripe folks who have been through what I’m currently going through times a few and have seen or been through what I can only read about. I can’t express the amount of profound respect I have for my elders. Perhaps it was learned from the way that I was raised or just the great ability to empathize with different people. Probably both. My parents reminded me at every given opportunity to respect my elders. Also, I know that I will be and currently am an elder to some people. I would definitely appreciate that same respect from the younger generations.

Now don’t think for a second that I don’t hold a great respect for the younger generation(s) of adults by any means. I know that some are awesome and every person is different. Plus, I think some that I have met are super sweet. I have been amazed at how open-minded and friendly younger people are with me. I think it is in their nature, also the way our society has changed, and perhaps even the respect that they carry for their elders. I know that for younger people, it is so hard to receive respect because many older people are like, “You are so young and haven’t lived yet. Just wait until you’re older.” And yes, just wait until you’re older is a valid statement that can only be proven by age. But to assume that a younger person hasn’t lived or been through anything in their lives is an ignorant assumption. In fact, I sometimes wonder how some older people have not either learned or taught themselves compassion or empathy.

Throughout my years, I have noticed that the older I get, the more I reflect on the past, the present and sometimes, mainly for the sake of wanting to better myself, the future. I believe that it grants insight which allows me to better communicate or empathize with people of all ages. Right now, I’m on the bridge between ages, still moving slowly forward as we all are headed to the other side. I try to remember each person that has had any impact on my being as well as anyone I may have impacted, positively or negatively. Each person is unique and special in their own way. In every person that I meet, there is something great about them.

And You Smoke Cigarettes Why…..?

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Over the past fifteen plus years, I have been an avid cigarette smoker. My brand, Marlboro Menthol Lights. Over the past few years hearing about all of the health warnings, I have tried numerous ways of trying to quit smoking, all without success. Well, I am proud to be a new happy user of the E-Vape (e-cig). Within the past couple of months, I have seen a couple of my friends using these devices. This is by far my favorite cigarette alternative that I have found yet.

I do currently own the Blu E-Cigarettes, but I have found that the flavor in the cartomizers dwindle quite fast and suddenly I find myself craving cigarettes. Not to mention that for 1 pack of 5 cartridges cost about $15 and last about 3-5 days depending on how much you smoke. I would usually smoke about a pack a day which equals about 1-2 cartridges. So this wasn’t killing my cravings nor cutting the cost down by much.

If I were to recommend something cheap to start but about the same cost to continue, would be greensmoke (GS). Greensmoke offers a “trade in” program to where you can go to their website, http://www.greensmoke.com, click on “trade in”, and follow the instructions, and they will send you an e-cig with 2 cartridges and a charger for absolutely free and no cost for shipping. To qualify for this trade in program, you must already own a competitor electronic cigarette kit. I did this myself, and enjoyed their e-cig. It did work. But much like the Blu, a cartridge may last for about a day, perhaps a little longer than the Blu. If you haven’t tried an e-cig or you have one but want to try a new one, try greensmoke. They are really good, but somewhat costly.

Shortly, after I had tried GS, my sister had purchased me an E-Vape Ego CE4 E-Cig on Ebay. It is the less costly of the new E-Vape systems. It cost about $20 which included the 1100 mAh rechargeable battery, the usb charger, and the clearomizer tank (where the E-Juice goes). Just within the past week, it has been a money saver and a great cigarette substitute. I have found that there are a lot of local businesses now offering E-Juice and E-Vape accessories. A 10ml bottle is about $6 which lasts about a week. A 30ml bottle is about $15 which should last about 3 times as long (depends on the nicotine amount and how much you use it.).  You are able to get the E-Juice containing different amounts of nicotine, ranging from 24 mg to no nicotine and lots in between. Not to mention some places offer over 100 different flavors, and you can create your own. They will also let you test the different flavors and nicotine amounts to see what best fits you.

Now yes, I understand that a lot of smokers are wondering about what kind of long term effects these electronic cigarettes could present, but because they have only been around for a few years, there isn’t any research that shows what those effects could be. I, myself, figure that it can’t be any worse than knowingly inhaling traditional cigarette smoke that is scientifically proven to cause all kinds of cancer and other health problems. There are thousands of chemicals and lots of carcinogens in regular tobacco smoke, yet the one ingredient that e-cigs contain that may be dangerous is nicotine. I think it is clear that this is a much safer alternative. E-Cigs can be used as a smoking cessation, but that isn’t what they are advertised for. You can use them as such by cutting down the amount of nicotine each time you buy more E-Juice until you get down to the juice containing no nicotine. After smoking an e-cig for about a week, you will feel the difference. I have no doubt. I have been smoking e-cigs on and off for several years now, and everytime I quit the real deal, I can significantly see and feel the difference, especially when I sing or exercise.

Do the research if you are curious. E-cigs may cause cancer, but we all know presently that real cigarettes do cause cancer. These E-Vape E-Cigs are the wave of the future. Completely customizable just like your cell phone or ipad. And a much better alternative. If you have any questions, please let me know. I will continue doing research on this. Thanks and good luck to you and your quitting smoking!

For the Ladies (Inexpensive Makeup)

For too long I didn’t buy makeup or wear it due to the extreme high cost and all of the different varieties and brands. Who knows what’s good quality? Recently, I was shopping in Walmart and came across this very small makeup section titled E.L.F., which stands for eyes, lips and face. I was amazed at how inexpensive these items were. They ranged from $1 to 3$ from what I saw. At first, I was very skeptical about the actual quality of these products. Needless to say, I thought, “Why the hell not? It’s all so affordable.” Thank goodness I did because now I am a believer, an E.L.F. believer that is. The concealer and eye highlighter works perfect.  The liquid eyeshadow I wouldn’t recommend but I have only tried one color.  The liquid eyeliner has blown me away. I have only bought three different kinds of liquid eyeliner, one being E.L.F., one being Maybelline and one being some off brand. Well, the E.L.F. looks, lasts, and applies better than any of the three. It has a fine point brush and the liner lasts without flaking. I consider this to be completely amazing since it only costs 1$. Yes, that’s right ladies, 1$! Amazing right? The concealer works great too which costs $3. I have numerous E.L.F. brand makeup brushes because they all cost 1$ each! Crazy right! Target has the greatest selection of E.L.F. products that I have seen thus far, but I have only seen this brand also in Walmart. Walmart gets bought out too quick though from what I’m assuming. Because Target has a magnificent selection of E.L.F. makeup and brushes. If you haven’t yet, please do check it out. I highly doubt that you will be disappointed. I am so glad that I found this brand of makeup products. Inexpensive and good quality makeup, can’t beat that!

Dreams and nightmares

Dreams

As a youngster, I had numerous terrifying nightmares. Some strangely occurred while I was awake. About 25 years ago, I remember waking in the dead of night to a loud, violent banging at the front door. I stared intently from my bed, paralysed with fear, waiting to see a face emerge into the porch light through the window on the front door. Nothing ever appeared. My mother said that she didn’t hear anything (which I thought was impossible considering the trailer was vibrating), and that I must had been dreaming. I remember being wide awake and gazing at that window with that undeniable beating on the door. I was in such fear that I didn’t say or do anything. I didn’t want whatever it was outside to know that we were there. Just a couple of years ago, my older sister told me that our step-father had explained to her that there was a beast that lived in our woods that wanted in and to never let it in. Apparently, she didn’t know about the loud banging on the front door so many years ago and thought that my experience confirmed the existence of that beast. Needless to say, I don’t know if she was just messing with me or not, but I know what I experienced.

There were several instances where I would wake from a sound sleep, only to be trapped in what seemed to be a nightmare. I would call out to my eldest sister and she would either tell me to go back to sleep, or she wouldn’t wake at all. The nightmarish hells continued into adolescence. I remember dreaming, and being well aware of the fact that I was dreaming, only to wake into a strange lifelike nightmare. Once when I forced myself out of a not so bad dream, I awoke to see an invisible entity crawling into my bed and laying next to me. I knew it was there from the indentions that had appeared on my bed sheets. It laid next to me and whispered into my ear. Too many times, I would try to force myself out of a nightmare, only to wake up in my bed, in my room, everything in it’s place, only to realize a few seconds later that I was still dreaming. It wasn’t so much the waking into a false reality, it was that at that point, I knew it was becoming a nightmare. The heaviness in my chest, the anxiety, sometimes I felt as though something was trying to pull me out of my body and through the walls. These dreams were so haunting that I feared sleep.

Twice in my life, I have dreamt of a pet dying. The first time, I was about 9. I had a horrible dream that my dog had died. The only problem was that my parents had given her away about a month before. I awoke crying and told my mother about the bad dream. A few minutes later, my dog’s new owners pulled into our driveway and my mother approached them while I sat inside and watched through the living room window. I knew why they were there because I had dreamt about it just moments before. I watched their lips move and instantly fell back into tears. Still, people think it was just a coincidence, but I have found that very hard to believe. The second instance was back in 2007. In this dream, my cat had died. I awoke from that dream at about 3 a.m. and my cat was sleeping peacefully next to me, so I knew he was okay. I awoke the next morning and got ready for the day. I was on my way to work and had an uneasy feeling about that dream. When I arrived at work, my co-worker mentioned a car accident that had taken place in the middle of the night which claimed the life of the passenger. The news release did not mention the names of the two people involved, so I was unaware at the time that I knew them both rather well. It wasn’t until my mother called me a few minutes later and told me the bad news. I broke into tears and couldn’t believe it. Only twice in my life have I dreamt of a pet dying, and both times they have been synced with a death in reality. I try not to read into things like that because I am a skeptic and a very logical person, but I find it unlikely to be coincidental.

It has been a few years since these lifelike dreams have haunted me. I have found that the only way to keep them at bay, is to pray to God to help me have good dreams. I know it sounds silly, but it has truly helped me. My daughter is now two and has had two night terrors. Night terrors are different from your typical nightmares. Night terrors occur when someone is in between R.E.M. sleep and deep sleep. People with night terrors are usually unaware that they are having them. Though they appear to be wide awake and stricken with intense fear and pain, they aren’t. They are in a very deep sleep, which makes it very hard and dangerous to try to wake them. The only thing you can do, is to wait it out. I don’t know if I had night terrors as a child, but it appears to run in our family as her cousin has had them as well. Nothing is worse to a parent than to watch helplessly as their child trembles with fear and screams in terror. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I am glad that she doesn’t remember them though. That is a relief.

I don’t know for sure if dreams mean anything or if they are just subjects of our subconscious, or if we truly are connected to the world and others more than what we are obviously aware.  It’s certainly interesting to me.

Right and Wrong

I’m trying to understand why as humans, we judge and react the way that we do.  It’s truly strange how a person can do good & be good for so long, but when they make a mistake or a short spiral of mistakes, that is what they are judged on.  There is that saying, “You can not right a wrong”.  So how is it that you can so easily wrong a right?  This truly begs the question, “What is wrong and what is right”?  This leads me to think that it is based on what you believe.  Just like fact can be proven, and an opinion is just someone’s judgement.  So in a way, the answer to that question, “What is wrong and what is right”, is just asking what your personal opinion is.  The fact can be found by seeing how it affects others.  The fact is that you’ve either made someone happy and/or sad.  No matter how right something may seem to someone, the fact that someone else has been affected by their words or actions in a negative way, makes it notably wrong to the affected person.  For those who are not directly affected and who know that side or reasoning behind it, makes it seem okay to them.  The lines are so blurred, it’s very hard to know the difference.  Especially when sometimes you can be so easily clouded by your own perspective and experiences.  This thought has encouraged me to see that it is all gray.  There truly is no black and white.  This leads me to an entire whirlwind of thoughts about how we are judged after life, if we are judged at all.  Let’s face it, we are all judged and we all judge based on our own beliefs and personal experiences and of those closely woven into our lives.  So how does one, a said being, judge each of us if they are able to see all of our actions and words from all of the different perspectives in life? Hm, that’s a damned good question.

Coin Toss!

The way in which I see people is sort of the way I see a coin.  There are two different sides.  One side is face up and the other is face down.  For some people, they are a coin in a constant spin.  Not showing face up or face down but both. Or a mixture of the two. Perception is the key.

It is much like seeing a stranger from a far and thinking of how perfect they are, oblivious of their skeletons.  Blind to all of the flaws and imperfections of their being.  Holding such high expectations and standards can cause bewilderment.  The true nature of people are finally unveiled to reveal the dark truth inside of  human beings, leaving one in jaw dropping disappointment.

Acceptance is usually practiced in the early stages of relationships (friendly or intimate).  But as time persists and the ugly slowly spills out of ourselves, judgement tends to follow.  Eventually, you become blind to the goodness inside of people and only see the inadequate actions.  Some people are so blinded by the flawed behavior of others that they become engulfed with rage and disgust.  They no longer see the perfections that their ignorance allowed them to see in the first place.

In retrospect, we are all defective. It is the unknowing of one’s identity to expect perfection which in turn is obliterated by reality.  If only we could all just accept each other for the very imperfect creatures that we are.  There would surely be a lot less detest in this world. 🙂