A letter to 15-year-old me, Prompt by The Daily Post on WordPress

I stumbled on a fun little writing prompt, for the original check it out at: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/good-tidings/

But here it is also:

“Present-day you meets 10-years-ago you for coffee. Share with your younger self the most challenging thing, the most rewarding thing, and the most fun thing they have to look forward to.”

Now, for some context, it’s important that you know I’m 25 now, so this letter goes out to 15 year-old me, who lived in Colorado Springs and was still getting to know my now step-dad. On my 14th birthday, we had left my dad and moved to Austin for a few months before moving to Colorado. I think, for now, that’s all I’ll say to the reader directly. Enjoy.

Dear Self,

Life has been crazy for you. You’ve moved between three states in a year, gone from low desert to high desert, from Phoenix to Austin to Colorado Springs. But there’s hope for you man, and you’ll make it through.

The biggest challenge you’ll face will be your desire to feel liked and the confidence issue that comes with that. For at least the next ten years, you’ll be haunted by that, and it’ll get gradually worse over those years. You will, in fact, find a girlfriend at some point, but your romantic relationships will be haunted by your lack of self-confidence which comes from your overwhelming desire to be liked. This won’t just be an internal struggle, and it won’t just affect you. After you’ve entered military service, which you’ll only do a single cycle of, you’ll get married. But your lack of confidence will be the main thing that costs you that, and it’ll be the most painful thing that happens to you for at least the next decade. Your heart will break, in a way that can’t be described with words. All of the problems you face, that included, will be founded in that desire to be liked by others. It’s something you’ll only come to start actually addressing in the winter after you’ve turned 25.

However, there will be some positives and they’ll overshadow that struggle by far. The most rewarding thing you’ll do is become a writer. You’ll start in two years, with poems in looseleaf notebook paper which you’ll staple together and call “books.” You’ll keep these forever, and they will form the foundation of all your writing. You will in-fact enroll in college, but I won’t tell you where because the surprising wonder of the place would be diminished, but it’ll be worth waiting for. Still, when you get there, you’ll bounce around between majors a little bit before finding English, and then suddenly you’ll try journalism, and the rewards will be endless. You’ll put yourself on the map immediately by somehow getting an interview with some football coach who will end up having a stadium named after him, and by the dumb luck that you do that, your boss will immediately take note. After that you’ll struggle but slowly improve. The most rewarding part about it will be that you’ll be allowed to go find people and learn their stories and tell their stories for all the world to hear. Your work will earn you some criticism, but it’ll earn you a huge amount of praise, not just from others but from yourself. That’ll be what keeps you going. 🙂

The most fun thing though is something you have no idea you’re destined to do yet, and that’s dance! You won’t be great at it, at least not for 11 more years, but you’ll enjoy it! You’ll get a better workout than you ever thought possible, you’ll work with better teachers and better people than you realize are possible. You’ll spin and jump and move with such incessant ease and enjoyment that you’ll have wish you started earlier. You’ll be completely different from anyone you know, and it’ll make you feel good! You’ll be the goofball who laughs at himself, gives high-fives and comes in seemingly with more energy than should be possible at those hours, but you’ll leave class exhausted and yet craving more. It’ll be a greater rush than anything you do, which is crazy because in the next 10 years, you’ll do some pretty freaking fun stuff that makes your heart beat really really fast. But none of it will compare to the feeling you’ll have when you leave dance class. Songs you hadn’t heard before will take on new meanings as they become associated your head with certain movements: from 16-count bicycles to the song played during cool-down in Jazz 1. All of it will be good! When you hear hear the song for the former, you’ll get fired up because you know you’re about to work. When you hear the song for the latter you’ll get giddy and excited because you’ll know after every class, and forevermore when you hear that song, that you earned your right to be there and you definitely belong right there withe everyone else.

Lastly, that childlike joy you have now, that excited thrill you have at life: I’ve got some great news about that. It’s never going away. You’ll keep it, hell you’ll take pride in it! It’ll be what defines you at your very heart, and it’ll make you different from most of those you know. It’ll also draw you to some really cool people. So get excited.

Dear self, I truly wish I was you. I wish life had a rewind button that I could go back and play over and over and over again from the start, even if I had to forget when I’d seen before, just so I could go through it all again. God is good, brother. Hang in there. I’ll see you in ten years. 🙂

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The Newbie Chronicles: (Part 1)

I don’t know how many of you are blessed enough to have a wonderful Manduka Pro-Lite Yoga mat like I do, but if you do, you’d know they are amazing.

However, I made a newbie mistake before going to Orange Sky Yoga today involving mine.

As I got ready to leave for Intro To Mysore this morning, I realized that I forgot to clean my mat yesterday. So, with about 10 minutes before class, and five minutes before leaving, I sprayed it down and gave it a good scrub. I used the typical Manduka cleaning solution (I paid $100 for the mat, I’m going to use what I know is safe on it) and wiped it down. In my haste to get out the door (just ‘on time’ is not early enough for me), I picked up my Yogitoes towel and then decided not to pack it, thinking I’d have no problem today since my mat was all good and clean and should be dry enough.

I SHOULDN’T have had a problem…but I really, really did, as I was about to find out.

The beginning steps of the Ashtanga primary series include holding Downward Facing Dog for sequences of five breaths at a time. For those of you who’ve never been in a Yoga class and done it, that’s a bloody long time. But, do you know what makes it seem even longer? Doing it on a sheet of ice.

That’s the best description possible for my mat during my practice this morning. Wonderful, beautiful, and as slick as a sheet of  ice immediately after the Zamboni has gone over it between periods at a hockey game. In hindsight, I find this ironic since it’s even bright blue like the ice in a goalie’s crease at a game. Also ironic is that I would end up watching hockey (albeit inline) all day after slipping on a mat that felt like ice in the morning.

I wasn’t embarrassed exactly as I slipped around, desperately trying to keep control of my breathing, while simultaneously trying to summon core muscles I’ve never worked out in my life to help keep my hands in place. I was just hopeful someone would laugh for me, because I definitely wasn’t capable at the time. I really missed Jessa at that moment. I kept visualizing her saying that amazing quote from a couple of weeks ago at Yoga in the park: “Smile! It makes it suck less.” But I was even beyond that, lol. It was so bad that in frustration I got up and borrowed one of the studio’s blankets. Even then I kept slipping, either due to the mat or my own muscle fatigue at that point….surely the former ;).

But dodge-ramit, at least my mat was clean…goodness gracious.

So, note to self, and newbie Yogi lesson 1 and possibly 2 are as follows:

1. Only clean your mat right before class if you somehow think you’re more of a ninja than you’re Yoga teacher and can do downward go with no hands. Also, if you somehow think you ARE more of a Yoga ninja than your teacher, you’re probably dumb, so even still, don’t do it.

2. If are going to a studio in which you know there are people who’ve got towels of their own, it’s probably okay to bring yours. You probably won’t look as stuck-up as you think you would, and you’ll probably be glad you brought it.

#Life Decisions

You want to know fear? You want to know scary? No, you want to know terrifying? Here’s one for you: get to age 24, and realize you have no bloody idea what you want to do with your life.

As I begin my second semester of my technically freshman year here at K-State, I find myself in quite the conundrum. Do I stay on my current course as a journalism/English dual major, do I switch outright to music education (to become a choir teacher), or do I do a little bit of both?

Last semester, fall 2013, was of little help in the matter. I began considering changing to music ed in October. At the time, I took about a month to decide, and I thought at the time that I had decided was to stick with the current path. I’d become a journalist. I’d do my thing writing for a living, live somewhere on a small but comfortable salary, and be what some called “overworked and underpaid” at the expense of living a life in which I legitimately called myself a ‘writer’. I mean what more prestigious term is there? For someone like me, it seems like it’s always been a natural desire. “If you would not be forgotten after you are dead and rotten, either write something worth reading or do something worth the writing.” Isn’t that what the great Ben Franklin once said, after all?

But I apparently wasn’t satisfied with my choice, because come early December, with final exams approaching rapidly, I found myself wondering what I wanted to do again. I sought assistance and advice, as I tend to, from a number of helpful sources. Graduate students in the choir department, at least one current music teacher not teaching at college level, my current choir directors (both, as they are a husband and wife that are co-directors) and my parents as well. I sought the advice of my closest friends. My wonderful friend Alyssa, my good friend Erica, both of whom I’ve known for at least five years, and my dear friend Allison who lives down in Austin. But as I asked, in this second set of query, about the profession, I was given varying advice. Ultimately, that previously alluded to question “What do you want to do?” was asked by most of them. This put the ball squarely in my own court. To make a basic sports metaphor; it was as if I had been one basketball player against a team of five. After initially being given the ball and told to score while all five played defense, I had tried to chuck it to them, with the hope that they’d play offense for a minute and give me time to relax and react while I figured out how I would take all of them on at once. But they had, in a sense but without any kind of ill intention, passed the ball back to me as if to say “sorry, decision time is now, so deal with it, and let’s see what you’ve got.”

So alas, I made a decision for how I was going to progress forward with my life. I chose to decide to audition in late spring to get into the music program. I thought, up until today, that I’d want to go the choir director route. I thought that I had settled on that, that I would be content and excited to set up and coordinate shows and make audience members go home and think “wow, a choir concert shouldn’t have been that neat, but they did some cool stuff, and that was AWESOME.” I thought I’d be happy to help revolutionize how people thought of the idea of choir music. Not as something exclusively for the high class or for the parents, but as something rather that everyone could enjoy. Something that sent you home feeling like you’d watched an episode of “Glee” or something except that you’d feel more personally attached to it. That was, that is, my vision for choir music in the future, and I have a stubborn belief that I’m just creative enough and defiant enough to pull it off while still paying proper respect to the old traditions of society.

So why am I still so unsure? Shouldn’t there be some sort of…relief when I’ve reached the decision I’m meant to? Shouldn’t there be some kind of moment of divine awareness in which I realize I’ve found it? Like one of those light bulb going off, “eureka!” type moments? Shouldn’t it be like that moment that you find the one lover you’re meant to spend the rest of your life with, where you “just know” as so many married couples I’ve talked to have said?

This year brings on lots of change to my life, and I’ve made steps to give my heart and mind room to think. I’m taking it off from dating and only watching live sporting events on TV. I’m reading more and trying to rebuild my mind into something that’s to be reckoned with. Part of the reason for all this is because I want to figure out how to handle it when people question my motives and my motive’s motives (yes I that was intentionally written that way), particularly when I randomly compliment them, and particularly in the case of women. So it sounds funny, but I guess I have to question my own motivations here, and I have to ask and invite you all, all like four of you who regularly read me and anyone else who is bold enough to complete this, to do the same and give me some feedback.

I found an editorial internship listing at Apple this morning on their website. Of the list of “requirements” on the list, I had all but one of them (and there were like nine). But it isn’t that alone which caused me to think my current writer/editor course is most likely the right one; it was the fact that I saw it and was excited enough to click on it in the first place. How fun would that be? Write/edit for Apple? Heck, I use their products pretty much exclusively for my entertainment and technology anyways. My military experience in Linux based operating systems makes me feel, perhaps arrogantly, like I could do something in that line of work, even if I admittedly hated it when I did it. But Apple! What a cool company! What a creative place, with so many opportunities to play around and dabble and make a mark in something that people use on a daily basis. What about public relations, an intro class of which I’m taking this semester (spring of ’14)? Wouldn’t that be great!?

But what motives do I have here? What do I really want? Do I really consider the change to music education as a field of study because I’m addicted to exactly that; change? Do I want something that has a combination of writing and music? Something that lets me write maybe about music, like a job writing music reviews? Do I want to do something I’m good at but have lots of room to grow in (both writing and music of which fit that card but mainly music does in terms of room for growth)?

If there’s any lessons I learned this semester,  it was these:

1) I don’t like where journalism in general is going. Broadcast irritates me, especially with it’s whole format of having two anchors do some “bantering” and having a generally silly/happy sports guy and having a weather man. That format, and that it’s so common (my Mass Comm in Society class pointed it out) bugs me and leaves me turned almost totally away from journalism writing as a profession because it seems there just isn’t any room for real creativity in the field. No room for me to “make my mark” there, and I’m never happy when I don’t feel I can play around creatively. Not being able to be creative or to occasionally throw out the rules in favor of innovation and/or outside the box ideas is what helps me differentiate a “job” from a possible “career”. So journalism as a full on major and/or lone field of study is officially out. That part I have right at least.

2) I love reading! Anything I can get my hands on. I often found myself reading other writers stuff that had been submitted to the copy editors and the desk editors because I saw the headline and was curious. With the computer system we run on for story submission, and my editors will probably be annoyed at me for this if they read it, I often read stories after they are submitted but before they get to print. Years ago, when my friend and unofficially adopted big sister Rena would write papers, I often asked for and was allowed to read and edit them. And while I never got to ask her how she did on them, and while I don’t think I ever did a particularly perfect job editing them since I didn’t know how to do any real editing at the time, I did enjoy the process. I enjoyed making suggestions. I enjoyed that I could do so without feeling superior in any way to her, in that role, and I enjoyed going through and reading it, even though her essays were seldom, if ever, written about anything I had a personal interest in informationally. The combination of that desire to read, and that desire to help teach others (part of what draws me toward music education) could just as easily be used in an editing role. I may seek out editing opportunities in K-State’s English department this semester to see if that was just an illusion or if there is an undiscovered passion in me for that type of thing.

And 3) That I’m desperately afraid of the day when I won’t be able to afford choir any place in my weekly life. This, and how interesting and kind of out there Music majors are, attracts me to some sort of long term study in music ( I speak about them having known both many music majors now and having known many when I first started as a music ed major at K-State in fall of 2008). Dr. Yu, one of the co-directors here in the choral program at the university, gave me advice I could easily see myself taking. She said that unless it’s something I really want to do, she wouldn’t go with Music Ed as part of a double major because it’s the equivalent of two degrees in itself. She recommended, if I wanted to do any degree as a a dual major, to do a B.A. in music, which would allow me to do something not teaching related. Maybe something along the lines of sound production, for instance. I could do a B.A. in music and a second major in English, with a journalism minor (the minor of which I’ll be just two courses from after this spring semester). Either way, the point is, I know I need to keep music in my life, and I know an audition (either for Music Ed or for Music) is probably coming in April or May. So I need to read more this semester, both music reviews and fiction, and I need to practice musically daily. That is of course, unless I decide from reading more that I just like reading to much to do anything but English and creative writing and editing for a living. But I think, I hope, that music is involved somehow.

Which set of degrees I’ll choose remains to be seen. I don’t know how I’ll feel once I’ve discovered what I want. For that matter, I don’t know if I’ll feel anything unique at all, or if I’ll always have this feeling of “maybe I could have” to haunt me and I’ll just have to learn to deal with it. The only thing I know is that I don’t know anything…besides that I don’t want major in journalism, but just minor in it. Other than that, I want y’alls input. And I don’t need answers, because I know and want this decision to be completely mine, but I need stimulation dear readers. I want thought provocation. I want hard, soft, blunt, brutal, kind, mean questions. I know one of you can ask the right one that will help me discover the right answer in the next four months while I make my decision. My prayer, humble and honest, is that you will.

I’m open to suggestions, and all manner of opinions.

 

At over 2100 words, this is possibly the longest post I’ve ever written. So I give you big time kudos and exceptional thanks for reading through it… 🙂

 

P.s. The title references an amazing video I saw. Check it out 🙂