Tonight I had to cancel a show that I had been preparing for — that I had pretty much revolved my whole life outside of work around — for the past two months.

For some reason — or reasons — this show meant the world to me. It held all of my passion and drive captive. It felt like I was taking the biggest leap to the moon because, for once, I was actually excited about performing in front of people. After so many years — a whole lifetime — of stage fright, I was excited.

And what I finally realized just last night, the biggest thing of all, is that it represented a moment where — before even stepping on stage, before I might receive any praise from anyone else — I completely believed that I would do an incredible job by my own standards. It was that self-validation, that I know I’m still in the process of working on, that I felt I was realizing.

I was working with two other singers on this show, as well as an event organizer who is a musician in his own right and had brought us together. He supported us, promoted us, put us on a pedestal. He was on the ball, so wonderfully communicative, making sure we were on the right track towards putting on a great night. He motivated me with our messages and conversations. He believed in us.

Him and I talked about our similar approach to putting on a show like this — that, while there was passion and fun involved, it was work. You put in the work and you get back so much more. And it wasn’t even about me hoping that “more” meant more performing opportunities. Whatever it led to might not even have to do with music.

But it was the lesson I have learned throughout my whole life, in which things have not been handed to me, that great opportunities that come along can and do lead to things that change your whole life around for the better, that change your perspectives for the better, that connect you to people who by virtue of knowing them make you better … if you put in the work.

So, I put in the work. I canceled plans when I felt even remotely exhausted because I didn’t want to get sick. Or I refused to make plans and explained that I need to stay home because I wanted to practice or rest. I drank almost nothing in the past month to preserve my voice. I studied my music, practiced my guitar playing.

But at the same time, I found myself going through continuous stress. Some of it related to the show. Some of it related to life. And I just kept telling myself that I needed to self-care. I needed to write about it. I needed to rest more. I needed to make healthy choices. I needed to meditate. I needed to let go of the frustration, bitterness, resentment and be accepting, adapting and compassionate.

I told myself that there were much bigger problems in life — like people getting their houses bombed in other countries — and that I had been through way worse in life, so I was going to be just fine.

And then, I got sick. And I have no issue saying that it was no fault of my own. But, wow, it was demoralizing. It was a slap in the face. It was a message from some asshole in the wings that it didn’t matter how hard I had tried, I was doomed to always get sick.

And yet, still, I told myself I had to stay positive. Because stressing would not help me get better, it would make me worse. And people would frown at me and wag their fingers if I didn’t do everything possible to be well for the show. And why was this such a big deal anyway? It. Was. Just. A. Show. Even if I couldn’t sing in it, I would be fine. Life would most definitely go on.

But I wasn’t fine. I was stressed. I was mad. I was disappointed.

It’s so ironic in a way, because while I have no real need to perform — like the kind of need I have to be in nature or to write music — I felt that my contribution to others in performing was to give them permission to feel.

I was willing to lay all of my emotions — pain, sadness, sensuality, despair, anger, hope — out on the table and through doing that, to let people know that it’s okay to feel these things.

I have always believed that one of the greatest, and most common, travesties in life is that people don’t let themselves feel. They bottle things up. They feel ashamed or scared of showing their emotions.

And here I was — after all that — not allowing myself to just feel. Why? Because I needed to be strong, be the “bigger person”, be there for others going through worse, be a “better me”.

I have cried non-stop the last two days. For so many reasons that go well beyond the unravelling of the show. As I was reminded today, in the past year I have checked off so many boxes on the Life Stressors list. And through it all, I don’t really know how much I have let myself truly grieve and accept that — while I’m stronger now — these things have still made their deep impact on me.

Crying has been exhausting. But it has been needed after so many self-denials to cry. Of course, I will pick myself up. I will do what I need to do to not spiral to a dangerous low. But in the meantime, I will cut myself some fricking slack and just let myself feel like the human being that I am.

~ Janice <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

The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done

**This post was Freshly Pressed! Thanks to WordPress and to everyone who read, liked, and commented! Much love!

This epic adventure of our four young heroes begins on a gloomy, overcast morning.
The fifth of their band had fallen from the ranks.
Even Charlie, the Australian Shepherd, was to deny them his companionship on the long journey ahead.

Alas, the four heroes would march forth, a united army,
Into what was foretold to be days of thunderous storms and merciless showers.

Survival comes at a price, weighing heavily on their backs.
Our heroes enter the dark forests of Killarney,
Like knights forging into the abyss of battle.
How will they persevere for nine days when the first hour begs for relief?

The constant, piercing pain in their shoulders was unprepared for;
Every footstep on the uneven, rocky path becomes akin to lifting lead.
Did our heroes expect too much?
Delude themselves into believing that they were worthy of winning this war?

There is a momentary reprieve in the sojourn
As our band of ravenous travellers stop to refuel.
Chief’s succulent veal roast is devoured like The Last Supper.
A mountain of fluffy white rice nurses the mind’s wounds back to health.

Merry as elves, stomachs content with the feast,
Our heroes take up their pilgrimage once more.
Yet, what is said to take one hour extends into two for our weary crew.
Then, the first of them is hit.

Big J’s knee, giving way to the unforgiving terrain, waves the white flag.
Agony stretched across her face,
She attempts bravery in the midst of falling arrows,
Her comrades patch her up and again, they roar on.

Finally, as the merciful mirage appears to the worn desert travellers,
The sign to their first night’s home beckons.
After a few wrong turns and balancing perilously on narrow ridges,
Our exhausted heroes stumble into an oasis.

The fight is not over; it has only begun.
They know the worst awaits them in the mountains,
Like the sleeping dragon that will surely awake when neared.
Will our heroes survive and slay the beast?

Stay tuned …

What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done (physically and/or mentally)? Why was it the “hardest thing”?

* * *

What’s up?! Okay, for those of you who are like, What has happened to Cafe and why is she talking like Shakespeare??? I thought that writing about my hiking trip adventures in the style of this week’s Writing Challenge by The Daily Post would be so much fun! I really did feel like this was an epic tale and seriously the hardest thing I’ve ever done, at least physically (but mentally, it was up there too!)

So I hope you enjoyed it and if you want to hear about the rest of the trip in this epic prose (hehe), holla in the comment box!

– Cafe <3

Is Blogging a Waste of Time?

In the past few days, three things happened that made me question: Am I wasting my time blogging?

1. I read an article by the Blog Tyrant titled “Why Blogging is a Waste of Your Time.”

2. One of my newest visitors, Whitt, left a very thought-provoking comment on being addicted to blogging after reading about my self-imposed 4-day social media ban.

3. I came across the Freshly Pressed post “Revenge of the Ping” by cheerful.egg about the weapons of mass distraction that we need to learn how to say “NO!” to.

Were the greater powers that be staging an intervention?

Just say no.

Why would blogging be a waste of time?

Most people would say it’s because it takes away from doing other things — meaning other, more productive things.

To me, blogging is productive in many ways and really fulfills a creative need that I can’t always get elsewhere. But sometimes I’m not entirely sure if I’m starting to cross the line again.

It’s a good thing to check-in with yourself on this from time to time. And if you do feel like you might be wasting a lot of time on blogging, here’s some ideas on how you might be able to keep up your blog without sacrificing all of your precious time:

1. Post on the bus. I’ve spent many a bus and subway ride typing up blog post drafts in my Blackberry notes (if I wasn’t doing that, I’d be passed out in my seat).

Email myself the note, copy and paste into WordPress, and with some minor edits, I have a new blog post ready to go and don’t have to spend time creating a whole new work of art right there on the spot.

This goes for any other time you might be sitting around waiting by yourself — like for a doctor’s appointment, or for that significant other who is always late.

2. Post less often. Some people like to post something once a day, sometimes multiple times a day. If you have time for it and that’s what you want to do, do it. But if you’re finding that it’s taking up way too much of your time, schedule a post for every two, three or even four days.

There’s a plus side to this too. There’s a better chance that more of your readers will get to read each blog post you put out there. As much as I love my blogroll, there’s no way I can keep up anymore with reading every post that each person writes, especially if they post every day.

3. Get a guest blogger. I don’t recommend doing it all the time, because at the end of the day your followers are following YOU and want to read what YOU have to say. But if you know someone who has something interesting to say about the topics you tend to blog about and are willing to keep up with replying to comments, it can provide a nice little break for you.

4. Simplify some of your posts. Take a photo of something interesting and just write one paragraph about it. Sometimes people would rather just look at intriguing images than take the time to read a lot of text.

I’ll try to take my own advice on this and not to say so much all the time … after this post ;)

5. Do something just to blog about it. I know it sounds kind of weird, but go out and do something that you might not normally do just for the sake of blogging about it. If you can’t pry yourself away from writing up a next post, at least make it a point to get out there and experience something new, interesting and/or exciting that you can tell all your readers about.

Make blogging the motivation to do “real” stuff, rather than let it hinder you from experiencing those things. This way, you won’t feel guilty about wasting your time and you’ll probably have a kick-ass post to blog about!

– Cafe <3

Do you feel like blogging is taking up too much of your time? What are your tips for balancing your blog life with real life?

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