Friday, September 30, 2011

Unapologetically Me

Hi friends,

It's me. Dina. Some of you enjoy me just as I am. Some of you like parts of me. Some of you, I mystify. Some of you, I confuse. Maybe some of you only like me part of the time, when it's convenient for you (I am pretty confident I have some of you in my life...but I still love you for you) Some of you are mad that I just wrote that...

I have been thinking a lot lately and truth be told, I found out some things about myself. Some of them too personal to share here, but some of them aren't. During lunch with a friend recently, she called me out about something...and she was entirely right. What's that thing? Well, it's complicated, but without going into too much detail, it is the fact that I purposely and voluntarily leave myself out of situations. It's sort of part of my all-or-nothing personality. I don't remember a time when I would settle for just-a-little-bit. All. Or. Nothing. Always.

For a minute (well, for numerous  minutes, really...) I backpedaled a little. I thought 'what if she's right? what if I should take a look at myself'...but don't worry friends, that didn't last too long. What this conversation taught me was this: I am who I am. I am working towards who I was created to be. I like myself just as I am - quirks and all. I secretly (not-so-much now...) like that I am stubborn, thick headed, all-or-nothing, in your face as much as I can be, demanding, 'you're wrong just because I said you were,' competitive to no end, and that I march to the beat of my own drummer. It's funny -  I recently said to another friend - I may march to the beat of my own drummer, but never out of synch with everyone else.

If I am going to be honest, I like these quirks about me that have negative connotations. The negatives give me character and charm, sort of like a cool scar with an even cooler story. They don't harm anyone (except me, usually...). The fact of the matter is that I LIKE these things about me.

While there are plenty of positive things that I could say about myself, I choose to say that I find the  negative things about me to be positive things. Together these traits make me, ME. I shouldn't feel that I need to be apologetic for being me. I'm done feeling that way. I spent much to much of my younger years trying to figure that out. I am unapologetically me. I am finally strong enough, mature enough, and most importantly kind enough to myself to acknowledge that.

So, ... I thank my friend for lunch that day. I thank her for prompting me to check myself. I thank her for calling me out and I thank her for giving me the opportunity to realize and rediscover that I LIKE that I am the way I am. I thank her for letting me be ME, unapologetically me. I thank all my other friends and family - my TRUE and LOYAL friends and family - for letting me be unapologetically me. I appreciate you all more than you know.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

WARNING: Its a Long One. Grab a Cup o' Joe...

Hi friends. It's been awhile again. This post has been brewing in my heart for quite some time... as a warning, it may be lengthy and it may contain errors because my intention is to write and post - no re-reading, no spell checks. This post is an unapologetic stream of consciousness. Ready? Let's go ♥

Music has always been a HUGE part of my life. From Linda Ronstadt to James Taylor; Dan Fogelberg to Carly Simon; OH and who could forget Frank Sinatra (my personal fav!)? Saturday nights were filled with no TV, just dance parties and plenty of laughs. I would often go to bed with the music blaring, no end in sight. It was these days that set the stage for my lifelong passion.

I remember sitting in my room at our old apartment (73 Frasier Street to be exact. I remember Mom DRILLING the address into my head just-in-case), with my 45's and a record player. Jamming out to whatever I had. I remember getting a pocket rocker, and having Manic Monday and Walk Like an Egyptian - thinking I was a legit rock star.  I remember a D.A.R.E solo I sang at a school concert even though I was sick because I could NEVER let my backup take that spot (I swear, I'm not competitive...LOL!).

Music is a part of my DNA. My grandfather is a master piano technician - translating feelings into sounds so complex, yet so simple. His long, capable fingers understanding the keys like a mother understands her baby's cry. His emotions resound through the strike and tap of every key. His sadness drips with every note now that his reason to play is in the arms of angels. ♥

I always felt... capable... when whatever it was involved music. If it was an instrument, I could probably figure out how to play it. The only one that always escaped me was the piano. Oh how I love it, but oh how I just can't seem to get my heart and my hands to work together. I played trumpet in the high school band when I was in middle school. I held 'first seat' every year of middle school and some of high school (before my trumpet got stolen...). Playing music came effortlessly for me.

Although instruments were easy, it was truly my voice that was my instrument of choice. I am unsure why I did not pursue it as much as I did the trumpet - something that frustrates me today. I can recall one very trying day in the music room when I was in middle school (or perhaps a Freshman in high school). If I am honest, this would probably be the day I shied away from singing in front of anyone. We were 'warming up' and our choir teacher had us sing do-re-mi. For some reason, she had asked me to start it. So I did. Do, re, mi, fa, so la... and when I got to ti it was pretty high...and I don't remember what happened next, but I know it involved lots of chuckles and whispers around the room. It seems so insignificant now, but back then...well... let's just say it was damaging. From that point on, my heart ached to sing but I denied it - thinking those snickering girls were right. THEY knew what they were talking about. THEY were all in drama and THEY were all in the special chorale they must know, right? Well...looking back, I see it as a pure reflection of their own insecurity. I see my heartache. I see the shutting down of my passion. I let the embers go out.

Fast forward.

In the past few years, there have been multiple times when I've said that I felt like I had a simmering pot, and I was doing what I could to stoke the fire so it could overflow...but all the wood seemed wet. Always. I never really knew why I felt this way. I had all my needs fulfilled. I had the majority of my (reasonable) wants fulfilled. I had no reason for this restlessness. This is an important part of the story, but I have to change gears for a second.

In April, I turned 30. I was excited to enter the 'age of establishment' as I affectionately dubbed it. I will never forget that a few months before this, there was a football game on. It was halftime so I checked Facebook...and my heart nearly flew out of my chest. It was then that a dream of mine was going to be fulfilled... It was Audrey Assad. The weekend of my birthday. In MAINE. If you know me at all, you know I am completely and totally and utterly and entirely in awe of her and her gift. Instantly, I knew I'd be there.

Fast forward to April. My dear, dear, friend and I take an overnight road trip to Charleston, Maine to see her. I am SO excited and SO nervous. We have an amazing time. I am not sure we stopped talking the whole way up. We got checked in at the hotel, got showered and all gussied up, and we headed out. When I tell you I was hyper-excited, I'm putting it mildly. I felt that at any given moment, I would explode.

We get to the church the event was being held at. There are a million cars. We walk in and there are a million people. There is NO assigned seating so we wander until we find decent seats - in the FRONT but off to the side. Excellent choice because this is the side she comes in from and leaves from so I got to see her a few times. She gets up there, she sings "Sparrow" and I am entranced. Something now begins to dry out the wood next to the fire. The night was filled with praise and worship and all things holy. At one point, I turned to my friend and whispered that it was my hearts desire to do what they are doing. I whispered because it came from the whispers of my heart. I whispered because I didn't DARE think it could be true. I whispered because I didn't want anyone else to hear...I whispered. The wood was dry and someone just put a few logs on to rekindle the flame.

On the way out, I got to MEET her. Yes - as in talk to her, she signed something for me, I let her know how amazing she is and how she inspires me. Our hearts connected, even if for a brief moment, and she added wood to my fire and a strong wind fanned the flame. My pot was SO close to overflowing. In one of my favorite Psalms, the psalmist says "you make the winds your messenger." In this perfect, anointed moment, He did.

Between then and now, so much has been revealed to me. My pot is officially overflowing. I am unashamed at the mess it is leaving. As a matter of fact, I am grateful for the mess.

I see singing as a gateway. I swear at times I could touch the hem of His garment. When I sing, it is a private, lovely, hopeful, heartfelt cry to my God. I sing to Him, I sing for Him. My ultimate goal is to get those who sing along with me to understand that feeling. The feeling of 'suspension' (as I call it) between Earth and the heavens. The feeling of holy surrender as my melody, the words, and my heart collide at the foot of the cross. The feeling of hope and promise that the very last note leaves me with...that even though it is quiet around us,  my soul is not. Even though the music has stopped, it resounds in heaven's throne room as a tribute to the God I love and worship. Come with me, sometime. Come with me and experience the humbleness, fullness, boldness, hope, joy, peace, and comfort that true worship brings.

Love and Light