Life Soundtrack: Summer 2015 Edition

Adventure Awaits

For my zero readers, I bring to you the sounds of Summer 2015! It’s been another round of changes: started at Sprinklr (February), moved to Tiburon (June), left Sprinklr (super tough choice), started an amazing opportunity at BMC Software (September). I think I’ve got this “get comfortable with being uncomfortable” thing locked down – looking forward to settling down a bit now. When listening to any of the songs below, picture yourself driving across the Golden Gate Bridge with the roof open and the sun shining. That is how beautiful my life feels today – took a long time to get here, and I am cherishing every minute. Even the ones stuck in traffic! Side note: Prius drivers are very aggressive in the Bay Area. I think they need to relax b/c clearly Gertrude (my hybrid) is better than theirs. Apologies in advance for the many ads, you know how slick YouTube is.

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In defense of eating alone…

bicycling_hillThis post is for the very sweet, very young hostess at Ventana Inn who could not hide her horror that not only was I eating alone on my birthday, I actually planned it that way. I get it…in my early 20s I would have judged me too. I’d have also demanded a birthday week, a big dinner (the table all servers throw a side eye at), and a night out dancing until the wee hours of the morn.

As an extrovert, I love talking to people, spending time with people, in fact strangers always come up to me to ask for directions. I’m that much of a people person. But eventually you realize that being content while alone is an earned luxury and you begin to crave those moments of solitude. In my overly articulate life, dining alone is the one time where silence is gloriously welcomed.

Trust me when I say that eating alone is a liberating experience. At first, it’s all sorts of awkward and you’ll have coping mechanisms like a book to read or checking all the social medias on your phone. But there comes a moment where you’re eating food so divine you truly just want to savor it. Or you get a glass of Cabernet so good, you just want to sit back and take your time drinking it while daydreaming. It’s in that moment you realize that your perceived awkwardness about eating alone is just that, a perception.

This was also a very significant birthday for me because 2014 was the year of huge life changes. I decided to move to the city I’m the happiest in, a move about five years in the making. It required plucking up some extreme courage to tell my employer that I was moving and commit to it, whether the job moved with me or not (it did). And plucking up some more courage by deciding to leave said job at the end of the year because the truth is I’d stopped learning. So this birthday is more significant than others because instead of 5 yr. planning my life to death, I’m trusting that the universe will unfold itself as it should be.

So sweet hostess, please don’t feel sorry for me. I planned this birthday exactly this way and as I raised my champagne to toast the ocean, the thought running through my head was “this is happiness”. And I truly meant it.

The Albums That Got Me Through 2014

I know some of you think I have the musical tastes of a 12 year old but aside from my deep, unabashed love of Michael Bolton and Britney Spears, I have managed to keep my actual musical inclinations under wraps. One of my resolutions this year is to be more of a regular blogger and thought it would be best to dive back in with a not-so-normal recap of 2014. I made some really big life changes this year and I owe most of my sanity to these albums so here you go…

I first heard “Not Giving In” on the Slacker Ultra station and my brain was all “hey this is your life” so I downloaded the album. You need to know that I am a staunch “buy just the song you like purchaser” so this is pretty big. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I listened to this album at work pretty much every day. You can listen to the album on YouTube or you know, just download it because I said so. The songs I hit repeat on the most: “Right Here“, “Powerless“, “Not Giving In“, “Baby“,  “Waiting All Night” and “Free“.

I first heard St. Paul & The Broken Bones on NPR and fell head over heels. This album instantly transports me to a a night sitting in a rocking chair on a wrap around porch, or a sultry Savannah night or a night with friends around a bonfire. When I played this album my team would laugh and call me an old soul. Pour some bourbon and give Half the City a listen, you won’t regret it. The songs I hit repeat on the most: “Don’t Mean a Thing”, “Call Me”, “Broken Bones & Pocket Change” and “Dixie Rothko” which was my absolute fave. I follow them on all the social medias and when they favorite my tweets about them I literally fist pump and shout yeah.

Another Slacker Ultra station find, I think Blame is what drew me to this album. This is a great one to get ready to and I’ve even talked a few people who are not fans of dance or EDM into downloading this album. Honestly, this album reminds me of my college years dancing the night away in Ybor City, Tampa especially at the Amphitheater. Did you know I worked there? Not many people believe me but it’s true, I was the Oxygen Bar girl and I sold the hell out of flavored air yo! But really, the Amp is what introduced me to EDM and introduced me to DJ’s like Tiesto, Paul Oakenfeld etc. Looking back, it’s so cool to realize that I was given a front seat to EDM in it’s infancy. Plus you know worked with Channing Tatum so there’s that. The songs I hit repeat on the most: “Faith“, “Love Now“, “Outside“, “It Was You“, “Burnin” and “Dollar Signs“.

Deana Carter is mostly known for “Strawberry Wine” off her Did I Shave My Legs for This? album. If you truly know me, you know that album was the soundtrack of my college life and I can belt out every song on that album with the best of Deana stans. I was introduced to her freshman year by my dear friend Becky who was from WV and can harmonize like an angel. I can’t tell you how many fun memories I have of all us getting ready to hit the town and listening to that album. Bryant, Keith and I had that album on repeat on our trip to Nashville and we rocked every. single. song. I had no idea Deana had even released an album until I randomly searched for her on iTunes and found Southern Way of Life. I downloaded it immediately if not sooner (obvi) and knew this was another winner. The best way to describe how this one makes me feel is wearing my favorite sweater and settling in to watch tv. It’s that warm, relaxing feeling that just wraps your soul in absolute comfort. I think Deana Carter is one of the best country song writers out there, she really writes from her heart and the words just speak to your soul. The songs I hit repeat on the most: “I’ll Save My Love For You“, “I Don’t Want To”, and “Waiting For You to Come Home”.

I heard Radioactive on some random station and downloaded the album not really intending to like it. But I was really surprised at how much this album came to mean to me. Even though it was released in 2012, this is the album in the background as I packed up my life in OH to move to San Francisco, especially “On Top of the World” which is also the song that I played as I drove into California from Arizona on the epic road trip. As with all major life changes, the decision to move to SF was a long one coming – 5 years to be exact – definitely a make it or break it move. I randomly picked a date to start the road trip (6/23) b/c I knew if I had a date in mind that I would commit to it. In the 2 weeks it took me to pack up my life there by selling every piece of furniture, donating everything else, packing up 2 suitcases, treasured books and other things, this was the album I listened to b/c it kept me focused. Everytime I listen to this album now, I can’t help but feel so grateful for music that got me through one of the biggest decisions of my life to claim my happiness. The songs I hit repeat on the most: “Tiptoe“, “On Top of the World“, “Amsterdam“, and “Fallen“.

Milo Greene was another unexpected find from NPR, kind of a younger Mumford & Sons but without all the banjos. This is a great album to work to, especially when trying to knock out a PPT deck or two. I managed to talk Bryant and Keith into attending their show at some dive bar. We got there and when the show started I was super confused as to why they weren’t playing the songs off this album. Turns out there was an opening band. Womp womp womp. Once they took the stage I knew all of the songs and bopped my head like everyone else. The songs I hit repeat on the most: “What’s the Matter“, “Don’t You Give Up On Me“, “Perfectly Aligned“, “1957“, and “Moddison“.

Last but not least, the most unexpected “hey I really like this” album from Taylor Swift no less. I was peer pressured into this album by many people who told me to just give it a chance. So I gave in and was really surprised. The obvious first song is Blank Space which is way overplayed but such a great video. I can’t tell you how surprised I am that I actually like this pop version of Tay-Tay and am definitely a fan of this album. I think people underestimate her but “Shake It Off” proves that she hears the criticism: “I’m dancing on my own…making up the moves as I go…and that’s what they don’t know“. Get it girl! The songs I hit repeat on the most: “I Wish You Would”, “Wildest Dreams” and “I Know Places”. That last one has cool reggae undertones, hope she plays that up when performing it live.

“Everyone is winging it, some just do it more confidently.”

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There was a great read in the NY Times about ‘What You Learn in Your 40s‘, and one of the takeaways was that “Everyone is winging it, some just do it more confidently.” This also reared its head in a conversation I had last night, a burgeoning new BFF (seriously, we are like sisters from another mother!) asked me how I always appeared so confident and put-together.

I was super surprised, because I was SURE everyone could see that I am terrified every. single. day. Turns out, I come across as a woman who has it together! I’ll pause for you to laugh. Maybe a  chuckle imbued with some mirth.

The truth is, I’m terrified every single day. I’m terrified the decisions I make for my operation will result in my vision not coming to fruition. I’m terrified that I’m giving the wrong career advice to my baby birds team. I’m terrified I’m not as smart as everyone appears to be on that conference call. I’m terrified every single day that I’m an impostor. I’m terrified that people don’t take me seriously because I work in social media. I’m terrified that the kids I taught in 3rd grade will forget that I told them they could be anything they want to be, *if* they put their mind to it. I’m terrified every single day, that I am not kind enough. That I’m not someone that people want to be around. That I put too much emphasis on superficial things. That I’m not helping the world enough. That I’m still the foster kid who moved from home to home with all of her possessions fitting into one black trash bag. And the list goes on and on…

I took a moment to let her question sink in. And one truth emerged. Every single morning I wake up, and put one foot in front of the other. When the pressure gets more intense, and believe me, the pressure increases every day, I put one foot in front of the other. When it feels like the water is boiling, and I’m the lobster, I put one foot in front of the other. When the pressures of my personal life gets to be too much, I put one foot in front of the other. When I feel like quitting, and want to break down in tears, I put one foot in front of the other. When I feel like I’m just not good enough, I put one foot in front of the other.

One of my favorite quotes (it’s even in my Hotmail signature!) is “The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart.” I said all of that to say, everyone is trying their best. Everyone has a struggle inside of them that they are trying to push through. Some people just make it look easier than others.