FRIENDINTORY

We listen to other people a lot.  It's funny how we can have such a strong opinion about something and than, after one conversation, begin to doubt ourselves.  This is not always a bad thing . .  if you are surrounded by people who share your integrity, faith, and morality.  What messes us up is when the people who are close to us, poison our souls with their misguided opinions and ideas.   We don't talk much about guarding our heart in this world we live in.  We even hear people say that everyone has a RIGHT to their opinion or ideas.  While that may be true, we need to be careful WHO'S opinions and ideas we are letting into our souls.

Not everyone who is close to you has the right to speak into your life.   Choosing the right friends is important.  And recognizing the wrong friends is also important.  Every once in a while it's good to take a "FRIENDINTORY".  Check out who you have on your "Favorites list" in that phone and ask yourself some honest questions:

 Is this someone I admire and respect ?  Do they have my back when things are a mess?  Is this a genuine friend or a user?  Can I trust them?  Do we share the same moral fiber?  Is this friendship making me better or weaker?

                            WHO we are listening too has a huge impact on our destiny.

So many people mess up there lives all because they started hanging out with the wrong people.  Finding REAL friends isn't easy but worth the effort. And don't forget to put yourself under the same microscope.  We tend to attract what we put out there. If you want to have genuine people around you, than be a genuine person yourself.  The right friends can make us or break us.  It just depends on who we choose to let in . .  and who we keep out.

                              " Do not be misled.  Bad company corrupts good character"

 "Though one can be overpowered, two can defend themselves.  And a cord of three strands is     not quickly broken"

 

 

UNDER THE BLING

After watching the Grammy's this year, I've been thinking a lot about my own music lately and why I keep at it.  I have devoted so much of my life, time, money, energy, and effort to this musical path and I love it - I wouldn't change a thing.  I know music is what I am supposed to be doing.

Loving it is certainly enough to keep me going, but I also want it to mean something to other people, to inspire them, and to contribute something to this world we live in.

Over the past few years, so many people have asked me " what do you think about The Voice or American Idol?"  Seems that the entire world wants to now be in the music business.  Certainly everyone has their right to dream and pursue whatever they wish.  I guess the question I have is this; If you knew right now that this dream would never make you rich or famous, would you still pursue it? 

As studio technology advances and we can now polish, fix, and even re-pitch bad singing like never before, it has opened the door for pretty much anyone to be "in the music business".   It is quite uncomfortable to be in an industry that everyone has such strong opinions about yet little credentials to warrant these opinions.  So, I avoid these types of discussions for the most part!  Again, everyone has the right to like what they like.  Art and music, after all, are subjective.  One problem with this is that we seem to have lost perspective on what quality music or art actually is.  The scale has become so greasy, there is no standard, no "true north".

As artists, our society has certainly tainted the path of success for us.  It is much more about being popular, likeable, beautiful, how much you "chat" on line, how many "likes" you have on Face book and Twitter, and so on.  It is NOT about the quality of the actual music you are creating.  Celebrity is part of every culture, but lets be honest; it has little to do with great art.

Certainly none of us can change the idiosyncrasies of our culture. And yes, I try to build my fan base on social media as much as any artist.    And I am not being critical of technology or flashy live shows, costumes or production.  That is all fun stuff and it's great to be creative with it.  But when it's all said and done, I want to be great at what I do.  When people listen to my songs or see me live, I hope they see something real.  At the end of the day, technology can't write a great song or create a passionate vocal performance.  This is up to me.  I need to be devoted to being skilled at what I do: practicing, studying, and growing as a musician.  This process should never stop, it should continue on thru my life.  Because no matter how much "BLING" gets added in the production process, the art needs to be their standing strong underneath it all.  Regardless if it makes me rich or famous, I will keep doing it. It is who I am, not something I am trying to be.

So I guess the point is this: wherever your dreams or talents take you, be the best you can be at it.  Do what you love and be who YOU are . . . don't chase a certain career because you think it will bring you fame and fortune. Create something with your life that is worth remembering.  Contribute something to our world.  We humans are one big family after all.  Pull your weight with those unique talents of yours. This is the best path we can take.  It is the path to TRUE success.  Discover what YOU were created for.  If you can find and embrace it, everything else will fall into place . . including the success you are dreaming of.  

SKIN DEEP

I have always been a bit of a perfectionist.  For those of you who share my disease, you know this is quite the cross to bear.  You tend to over-do, over-work, over-say, over- everything.  You also tend to be fiercely competitive.  I'm all for a little healthy competition.  But in this age of selfies, shoulder rubbing photos, and locational brag moments, we have made competing and comparing the new American pass time.  At the end of the day, after all the celebrity snap-chats, 30-year old millionaires, fairy tale endings, and perfect images that dominate our online existence, most of us hugely fall short.   Even more, we have recklessly adopted these unrealistic ideals as a culture, ideals that NO ONE could live up to. . . even on their best day.

 And here is just a little sample of what these "ideals" have caused.  Over 25 million people in the US alone suffer from an eating disorder.  A little over 50% of people with eating disorders also suffer from severe depression.  We are creating a culture that makes most of us feel terrible about ourselves, and terrible about our lives.  It's tragic.   We have become our own worst enemy.

I have gone thru my own moments of self- doubt, wishing I was more this and less that.  But the truth is, there is only so much we can change about ourselves. Who decided that it so important we are all the same?  Who created this invisible bar that most of us inevitably fall short of?   

Some of the things we like least about ourselves can sometimes be a blessing in disguise.  Instead of trying to change everything, what if we appreciated our differences? You are more amazing than you know.  And the person you are inside, that soul of yours?  That's your most valuable asset.  And what's awesome is that YOU get to choose what kind of soul you have.  And the beautiful souls?  They always shine thru the brightest.  It can make a mediocre person look amazing, just like an ugly soul can make a "beautiful person" unbelievably ugly.  Be beautiful this week.  Quit letting other people decide what's "ideal".  Just be you . .  messy, imperfect, unique, one-of-a-kind, beautiful . . YOU.

" You knit me together in my mothers womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made

BITTERSWEET

I'd like to think I am a forgiving person, but truth be told,  there is always some sort of "situation" that sort of "comes up" . . showing me there are definitely some things I am"not quite over".   I think sometimes we underestimate the affect holding a grudge might have on us.  In a recent interview with a top cardiologist from the mayo clinic, the doctor being interviewed stated that in a recent study the clinic had done, they actually found that people who had truly forgiven those who had hurt them actually LIVED LONGER and were in better cardiovascular health. Wow.

We do all these crazy things to stay healthy these days from juicing, to herbal remedies, to extreme workout plans ( which I myself am guilty ).  Who knew forgiveness should be on the list next to Kale?

One thing I have learned in my own journey, is what forgiveness is NOT.  Forgiveness is NOT about ignoring something hurtful.  It is NOT saying that what happened was ok. It is choosing to let it go. Not for the sake of the person who hurt you, but for YOUR sake.  It is for YOUR benefit, simple as that.   Bitterness is a cancer. It spreads itself thru our soul.  It can also wreck our GOOD relationships, as it tends to punish the innocent, instead of the guilty.

This year, let bygones be bygones . .  for real.  Set yourself free.  Just forgive.

                        " Above all love each other, because love covers a multitude a sins"

 

 

PICK YOUR FIGHT

I have a natural instinct to fight for things.  Whether it's social injustice, fair treatment, getting paid for a job, or defending someone I love, I have no problem digging in and holding my ground for a good cause.

While this might be a seemingly noble quality, it is also exhausting.  Those of you out there who share this personality trait know exactly what I am talking about.  Life is FULL of problems and "good causes" that cross our path on a daily basis.  How do you navigate the endless sea of problems without wearing yourself out in the process?  It's not easy to decide.  But it's something I am getting better at.

Not every battle we face is worth fighting.  And some, quite frankly, can't be won anyways.  They just wear us out.

And the problem with fighting EVERY SINGLE THING that comes along, is that when a really worthwhile problem hits us, we have no energy left to deal with it.

It takes wisdom to decide which battles are worth fighting.  We need to pick our fights, and not let our fights pick us.

It comes down to this:  Understanding your priorities. 

This is what I have learned at least, in my spiritual journey. I have discovered that God actually does give us some wisdom on this.  When it comes to defending the innocent or doing what is right, battles involving character and integrity . .  these battles are usually worth hanging in for.  But many times we wear ourselves out fighting for things that are not so noble, coming from our own issues with pride or insecurity; like fighting to "be right" in an argument, fighting for a relationship even when we know it's toxic for us, or fighting to get ahead at the expense of  hurting other people. THESE types of battles are best fought with a white flag and an exit strategy.  They DO NOT create the life we were meant to live or the character God wants us to have.

If you are worn out today, I challenge you to reflect on what you are spending your energy fighting for.  Is it truly worth it? Is it the right kind of battle?  Is it making you into the person you were created to be?  We can't win every war in life.  All we can do is make sure we save our energy for the ones that matter. Choose well so you can win THOSE battles. 

10 GOOD THINGS I'VE LEARNED IN HARD TIMES

1) I am stronger than I think.

2) This won't kill me, even though it feels like it might.

3) Look around.  THESE are my real friends. Note to self.

4) Prayer is not pathetic; it is essential and actually works.

5) There are many people going through something even WORSE right now - resist the urge to complain.

6) Getting my mind off myself and helping someone else is the best therapy.

7) True Wisdom can only be learned through facing difficulty.  I will come out of this a wiser person, better prepared for the future.

8) This won't last forever.  Hard times DO end.

9) I will develop a compassionate heart. The kindness I need in this moment - is the kindness I will give away. Because I know how much it means now.

10) I am not alone.  God really is with me. No matter what.