New Year’s Eve Reflections in the Red Chair

2015_Highlights

With 2015 drawing to a close, I put up a post on Facebook about my top four highlights of the year: joining the Song Talk Radio team, becoming a member of Cavaleiro Farm, going on my first solo camping trips, and singing at my first gig.

It has truly been a year of exploration, creativity and pursuing my passions. And the momentum is only growing as the New Year approaches.

What I didn’t mention though were some of the lowlights. For one, enduring some pretty stressful months at a job that I had gone into with my usual passion and gusto, but that ended up draining my spirit with its bureaucracy and politics.

I ended up getting laid off in the spring. There wasn’t enough funds to continue with the position, I was told. Fair enough — but all of the events leading up to the news and the way it went down made for a pretty demoralizing moment.

I was sent home — cardboard box full of stuff in hand — and retired to my couch, emotionally drained at the end of a (not so thrilling) rollercoaster ride.

Fortunately, it didn’t take long to conclude that the lay-off wasn’t even a blessing in disguise. It was simply a blessing. I had been miserable and losing hope that I could make the difference I wanted to in the organization — yet I was planning to stick it out until I could figure out what the heck to do with myself.

The lay-off was a kick in the ass that said: Go forth and figure it out NOW.

Life is truly too short to be spending it in limbo.

There was another, much bigger, event of upheaval in my life. It meant losing someone so important to me. And it also felt as though I’d now be returning back to a situation of instability that I had spent a lot of time in the past crawling out of.

There’s really no “but” to the first part — sometimes we just need to take the time to be sad and both grieve and honour our losses.

But to the latter, we also have to give ourselves more credit and believe that we can manage to be stronger than we’ve shown ourselves to be previously. To think otherwise is to concede that we haven’t picked out the important lessons we’ve needed to learn from all of our past trials and tribulations.

Life is truly too short to not be learning how we can do things better.

Within a year, there will be the good and the bad. What I’ve gathered is that there is so much that is out of our control, but what we can choose is to respond to what’s thrown at us with honesty. Honesty to ourselves and to others.

Sometimes that means growing a pair. Sometimes that means letting down your pride. Sometimes that means not looking so far ahead into the future and just asking ourselves what is the truth for me right now?

With only a few minutes left to go until 2016 is ushered in, I want to just focus on the “right now” — which finds me sitting in a quiet, empty house in this comfy, red sofa chair, glass of wine on one side of me, guitar on the other, reflecting and writing.

In a way, this snapshot of my evening represents what’s honest for me right now and this notion of “honesty in the present” is the only intention I’m setting going into the New Year. Everything else will follow.

Wherever you are in the world, whatever you may be doing, I wish you and yours a very wonderful New Year.

~ Cafe (a.k.a. Janice) <3

Taking Down Stage Fright: My First Show

I played my first show a couple of weekends ago. It feels pretty surreal now that it ever happened.

Even the next morning I wasn’t sure that it had. Probably because I went from singing on a stage to a crowd of people in a bar to sitting alone in my cubicle staring at some graphs.

But happen it did. It all started out with me attending my first ever open mic at a place called Free Times Cafe. I don’t want to sing professionally and I don’t care much about performing. BUT I hated the idea of having stage fright.

I’ve had stage fright all my life, since I was a little kid when I would cry if I was being forced to sing in front of people.

When I was a teenager I was taking classical voice lessons and actually dreamed of becoming an opera singer. But I would enter into these singing competitions and when I’d perform, I would get so nervous that I’d forget all the words and something that was NOT my voice would come out of my mouth. It was pretty brutal.

I got back into singing many years later, but this time just for fun. I was taking lessons at my friend’s music school and every year they put on a recital. I still got the uncontrollable shakes the couple of times I sang on stage. And that bothered me.

People who aren’t sure if they’re going to get killed stepping outside of their house on any given day in a war-torn country have something real to fear.

Stage fright? Well, I believe stage fright is an irrational fear stemming from the insecurity you have that people may think you suck after hearing you perform.

I actually think many of the things we’re afraid of doing in life come from caring too much about what other people think. And so we hold back. We don’t pursue the things that would bring us great enjoyment or a more fulfilling life.

And so, when I was asked by the Free Times’ open mic host to come back for their Best of the Open Stage show, I said yes because I knew it was time to really kick stage fright in its big butt.

I practiced really hard for the next couple of months to prepare. I went to a couple more open mics to get practice singing in front of people. I almost planned to go sing out on the street — I figured if I could do that, I was golden!

But I got sick a couple weeks before the show (of course). I tried not to panic and focused on getting better. The night of the show, I was still battling something and was barely keeping myself together. But the audience was so incredibly amazing and all I wanted to do was lay out everything on that stage so I could walk away knowing I did my absolute best.

It turned out to be a great night and I was mostly just ecstatic to have so many of my favourite people in the same room, showing so much love and support.

Would I do it again? Yes, I would. I truly believe that conquering fear in one area of your life will just make you less fearful in other areas of your life.

And as with most things, practice makes perfect — so, the more you practice pushing fear away and just going for it, the easier it becomes to ALWAYS push fear away when it’s trying to steal the spotlight.

What’s been one of your life-long fears that you’ve either conquered or would like to conquer?

~ Cafe <3

Time or Money?

time or money question_marcandangel blog

Lately, life’s been hectic, I’ve grown quite un-fond of computer screens, and … well, I’ve had a bit of blogger’s block to top it all off.

But I feel like it’s during these times when the days just seem to be passing by in a tired blur that we have to refocus and re-spark our love for life! So as I was scrolling through some inspirational questions for this post, my eye landed on this one: Time or money?

I feel like most people’s gut reaction would be to say: “Time!”

I know that for me, it is. That’s because I have spent much of my life without time — and when I say “time”, I mean time outside of work and school. It was only a few months ago that my life finally consisted of having just one full-time job. That’s it. No school. No second or third part-time job. Free evenings. Free weekends.

I just didn’t know what to do with myself.

Well, I quickly figured it out. After the first Saturday of sitting on the couch staring at the TV and asking myself if there was some work that I should be doing, I smacked myself across the face and yelled: “There is no work to do! Enjoy your free time!” (I think this conversation was happening in my head).

Once it had sunk in, I started going all out. I could pick up some hobbies! Singing! Playing guitar! Writing! I had time for it all! I could visit my friends and family more often! I could sit on the couch on Sunday and watch football for the entire day! 

I could also just *gasp* do nothing!I

My God, this was what I had been missing out on all these years. This was how other people were living.

Now, that may sound like the conclusion of the story, but alas, it is not. During this time of activity and exuberance, I had still thought about getting a part-time job to be able to pay off my student loan faster and save more for the future. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it after having gotten a taste of the good life.

But while I by no means consider myself to be a greedy, materialistic person, I do recognize that there are certain things that could add to the quality of my life right now that do require money over time.

So, I don’t know. Maybe the question isn’t so easy to answer. Maybe now is (still) the time to put in that extra work in order for me to feel more settled and secure a little ways down the road. And to also be able to continue going on trips around the world and drinking fine scotch guilt-free! Those things make me happy too ;)

Take a few minutes to ask yourself: Time or money? 

Write a post about it, share it in the comment box below, or just keep it to yourself ;)

– Cafe <3

Photo Credit: Question 15

First Comes Love: Or Does It?

Love, health, happiness, money, fame.

Maybe it isn’t as simple as it seems. But it seems pretty simple to me.

Love: I feel that for most people, finding that person who they want to spend the rest of their life with is ultimately what we work towards.

Of course we don’t want life to only be about that — we want to have our own personal achievements, maybe travel the world, excel in our careers. But it seems to be human nature that much of what we do — from making an effort in how we look to finding a “good” job — are ultimately to make us more “attractive” to potential life mates. Am I sounding like an evolutionary psychologist yet?

But — and I don’t know if it’s me just being a softie at heart — I don’t know that it’s just for us to find a partner who we can make babies with to carry on our lineage *it’s the circle of liiiiife!* …

Okay, seriously. I really believe that for most people, we want to feel that love and passion that you can’t just find in a friend. I remember that even throughout all those years where I was a total man-hater *ahem* I still found myself always writing in my journal about how I wish there was “that guy” out there. Blegh, so corny. But true.

Of course, love can also be referring to the love from family and friends. I don’t see how anything can beat being surrounded by people you love and who love you. If love is not at the top of your list, I need an explanation!!

Health: I feel like this could be a hard one to put at the top of the list over love unless you’ve experienced what it’s like to not have good health. Doesn’t matter if you have all the money in the world — if you have to be confined to your bed or hooked up on tubes, or are constantly feeling unwell, how do you enjoy life?

I’m sure there are people who find ways, but I’m going to guess that they have some serious support and love behind them, which brings me back to my first point ;)

Happiness: Where does happiness come from? The true feeling of happiness that I’ve experienced has mostly come from love, which is why this is not right at the top.

But happiness does also come from having peace of mind, good mental health, a strong sense of self, and so on — things that come from inside the individual rather than from another person.

If I think about it like that — happiness as good mental health, it’s actually hard for me to decide which to put first, happiness or health (which I think of as physical health), because mental health is all-important to me. Hmm, maybe not so simple?

Money: I do understand how money can make life easier and I’d be naive to say that it’s not important at all. Money lets me have amazing experiences around the world and go out to relax on weekends. I love those things!!

But I would never trade money for love, health or happiness and I know that you could be rich but still totally unhappy and feeling like you didn’t have enough! Blegh.

Fame: This was easy to put at the bottom since I don’t think I’d like the famous lifestyle. I’m actually a pretty private person — despite the things I share on this blog — and there are certain things I like to keep to myself!

– Cafe <3

Take a few minutes to ask yourself: In order of importance how would you rank: happiness, money, love, health, fame? 

Write a post about it, share it in the comment box below, or just keep it to yourself ;)

Photo Credits: Question 2Love, Health, Happiness, Money, Fame

Back From Hibernation. Hello World!

Wassuuuuup! Cafe in da house! I feel like I’ve been teleported back into life as we know it. It was seriously a very strange four days away from anything social media, email, and especially the blogosphere!

As most of you know, I had taken it upon myself to swear a vow of abstinence from WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, BBM, YouTube, and even emails for four days. It had just seriously felt like my life had come under the control of the Crackberry and I had to do something drastic about it.

SO. Are you ready to go through my four-day hibernation journey with me? Alright, here we go! …

______________________
Day 1 — Monday

Day 1 really started on Sunday evening when I sent off my final updates and messages and then laid the Crackberry to rest. I actually felt relief. I felt this weight off my shoulders. I literally had a big smile on my face. I watched TV for the rest of the evening, not worrying about having to hear the incessant *pinging* throughout. I knew I had made the right decision to do this crazy thing I had decided to do.

Monday rolled around. One of my rules was that if I wanted to write about anything (that was not work-related), it would have to be handwritten in a notebook. This was just another way to get me away from my laptop. Out came the journal I had written four pages in since I bought it months ago. The writing began …

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