Nostalgia in Melody

Good Morning! I hope you’ve been having a pleasant weekend, thus far, wherever you might be reading from. Over the past several days, I contemplated whether or not I should write a post regarding a movie I recently discovered and saw and after having listened to numerous songs from the soundtrack, I figured I’d be foolish not to share about it.

With that being said, several evenings ago, I was mindlessly perusing through the movie section on Netflix when a title captured my attention: Begin Again. It is a movie from 2014, starring Keira Knightley, one of my favorite actresses, Mark Ruffalo (also a favorite actor of mine), in addition to one of my favorite musicians, Adam Levine. After seeing the title, I recalled when it first arrived in theaters three years ago. I’d been interested in seeing it, given the cast, as well as the music in the film, but never got around to it. I’d forgotten about it once it arrived on DVD, but when I saw it appear on Netflix, I decided to take the leap and see what it was all about. If I remember correctly, I don’t believe the reviews of the film were all that positive, though from what I’ve often found, a lot of reviews often don’t end up matching my opinion and perspectives. We all have different tastes and experiences which color our perspectives and ultimately our thoughts on films.

Begin Again                     Begin Again photo

The film started off rather slow, if I’m being completely frank. It was about a half hour into it, when I had to make the decision of whether or not to let it run for slightly longer, or switch it off. I opted to continue and looking back, I’m so very grateful I persisted and gave it a chance. To this very moment, I am STILL thinking about and listening to the music from the film. In particular, one song entitled, “Lost Stars,” truly stood out to me, not only for the melody, but for the words, the words that are as meaningful as they are true, filled with poetic beauty and similes. What’s even more appealing and interesting about it is that both Adam Levine and Keira Knightley recorded their own versions of it – both of which are beautiful in their own right and it’s refreshing to have the opportunity and ability to hear it sung by both a male and female voice, given their differences in tone. The passion in the song is one that is incomparable to many songs I’ve heard today.

Begin Again movie 2

Hearing “Lost Stars” in the movie led me back to a time in my teens, a time when I often sat holed up in my room, with my first-ever laptop in my bed, or sitting on the floor with the CD player listening to many of the same songs over and over again. Hearing those songs comforted me, inspired me and often touched sentiments in me I couldn’t place into words back then. Often times as an adult, I forget how powerful music can be, not only for its melody, but for it’s words. It’s easy for me to become easily distracted by the stresses and worries within my life, not realizing the ability of music to calm and soothe me, if I allow it to. Whether it is singing along, or simply listening, music has a way of leading me back to a place where I can truly believe anything is possible through effort, desire and drive.

Celebrity Sightings In New York City - July 3, 2012

If you get a chance, listen to “Lost Stars” by Adam Levine and/or Keira Knightley from Begin Again, the movie. Or, take an 1hr 45 minutes (roughly) to take in the film, itself. Perhaps it will inspire you as much as it did for me.

Music Quotes

Scenes from a 17th September

Lately, it seems I’ve been more nostalgic than usual. Most of my nostalgia, I feel, probably stems my desire to make some imperative, much-needed changes within my life. I’ve always been a firm believer in the notion: if you’re unhappy with your present life and feel as though it isn’t “you,” then it is worth it to pursue change. Of course, while I’ve been a believer in this sentiment, it isn’t always the easiest to actually implement or attempt this change. Often times, when attempting change, or trying something different, I’ve become sidetracked, discouraged, or traveled down the path to procrastination. The more I age, the more I realize how important it is to take chances, no matter how frightful they may seem. These fears though, as I’ve come to know, are often fears we’ve created in our minds, building up these changes to unrealistic levels, creating negative outcomes in our minds that would probably never happen. There is so much I aspire to in life, so many ideas, creations and concepts I’d love to work on, so many people and families I’d love to help and yet, my fears have always prevented me from doing it. My own preconceived notions about my abilities, or lack thereof, and chastising myself for not being in the place or in the life I thought I would be as I approach my 28th year has led me to where I am today.

That being said, last night as I watched the latest Hallmark Channel movie on TV (yes, I’ll admit to it, but this movie actually proved to be one of the better ones of the bunch!), it prompted a prolonged nostalgia within me for reasons I can’t really understand, myself. So allow me to reflect a bit, without delving too much into the meanings between the words:

It was September 20, 2005, I was 17, and I still remember what I wore that day, a navy, fitted t-shirt, with white lace adorning the collar, fitted jeans and heeled sandals; my unofficial “beginning of senior year of high school uniform,” for the preceding weeks. I can still remember the way the clothes felt on my body as I slid them over my shrinking body, feeling the fabric skimming over my hip bones and the way the tag on my t-shirt rested on bones of my neck. When I look back, I can still feel myself slamming the backseat car door in the parking garage, angry and afraid, unsure if I wanted to scream or cry, wanting both all the same. The scene is still as clear as day; not a cloud lined the sky, the air was pristine, a temperate breeze filled the town of Princeton, NJ. When the parking lot’s elevator door opened, I marched my way into the building in front of me, unaware it would be home for the time being. Both my parents trailed in the background, as I desperately ran from them. They hurried to catch up, but my feet continued to carry me faster.

The next several hours were a hazy blur; papers being signed, questions asked, numbers recorded, heads nodding, tears shed, and my anger mounting. The numbness lingered through my body that first day and night. Words escaped me and my thoughts were scattered that first afternoon, outside on the lawn with the others, all of our respective blankets adorning the first floor lawn. As I lay on my blanket, I closed my eyes and hoped that when they opened, my life would be my own again.”

“Sometimes, it takes sadness to know happiness, noise to appreciate silence, and absence to value presence.”

A “Forever” Broken

Happy Holidays! It’s been awhile since I last posted, but I hope your holiday season has been a pleasant and enjoyable one, thus far. These past couple weeks have left me feeling nostalgic, given the arrival of old friends in the area for the holidays and past memories and sentiments starting to surface. From the latter portion of my middle school years through high school, I had a solid and defined group of best friends. It was always the 5 of us, with several of our other friends occasionally mixed in. It felt good to be apart of a close knit gathering of friends, people I could turn to in both the pleasant times and the less-fortunate occurrences, or so I thought at the time.

The holiday season for my friends and I always culminated at one of our house’s, where we would trade gifts and laughter, watching our favorite movies and eating all of “our” snacks (typically the much-loved Goldfish crackers, Oreo’s, Doritos, and a bunch of other packaged goods). Prior to our holiday gathering, my mom and I would scour the mall for what seemed like hours, trying to select the “perfect” gift for each of my friends without emptying our wallets. It was an annual shopping event I almost enjoyed as much as the actual holiday gathering. Often when we finished shopping, I would count down the minutes until I could finally present my friends with their gifts and cards, eager to show them how much they meant to me. To be honest, back then, I operated under the impression that we would all be best friends forever. I envisioned rooming with one of my friends in college, having wonderful adventures and escapades traveling through Europe and beyond. I believed all would work out and we would have a life filled with nothing but fun and excitement. Back then, it all seemed so simple and like a puzzle that could be easily solved with little difficulty.

My senior year of high school, or truly, the end of junior year, my friendships started to fall apart. Broken down by stress and my own self-defeating thoughts, my priorities and focus started to change. The same friends who I shared so many laughs, parties, and adventures with, began to fade from my life. Sometimes, it’s embarrassing for me to admit, given it’s been over 10 years at this point, but their absence still hurts. Given the outpouring of social media today, (in particular, Facebook), I will occasionally spot photos of them (the few who are still friends), planning their bridal showers and weddings, seeing their adult lives mold together. It’s hard to not search for myself in some of those photos, as I can easily step into my basement and retrieve scrapbooks created for me by two of those friends, showcasing all of our smiling faces huddled together. On occasion, I’ll even see one of my former friends in the area, in a store, and they will avert their eyes, pretending like we are two random souls simply shopping in the same store and maybe in a sense, that is what we are now. It’s often hard for me to reconnect to the teenager I once was, or truly believe it was me. Cognitively, I know it was me, but given all the life experiences since adolescence, it’s hard to establish that emotive connection to my former self.

Friendship Quote

In reading this, one might wonder, well, if I truly feel such sadness and remorse about these former friendships, then why not reach out? The simple answer is, I have. There have been through the years, many unsuccessful attempts via Facebook – messages that have been read, but ignored, and perhaps there is a reason for it. If they have moved on, then it is their prerogative to remain silent.  That being said, we all make choices for whatever reasons we do. Sometimes, we make decisions/choices for self-protection, wanting to shield ourselves from future emotional and/or physical pain. Other times, we make choices or decisions because we truly feel it is what is best for us in that moment.

Given how much has changed in my life these past 10 years, it’s often difficult for me to even believe these friendships even existed and weren’t figments of my imagination. Though, I know, it is only steps to my basement where those scrapbooks sit, crafted for me by those very friends, holding all the memories and moments I once held so close to my heart. It is a part of my past and though it can be hard to reflect back on it, I’m still glad it happened.

A Quotable Thursday

Good morning! I realize the title of my post is not a very creative one, but if anything, I feel it does accurately describe what the contents of this post will end up becoming. Anyone who knows me or reads this blog, is aware that quotes are one of my favorite things to read, share and post. They offer me not only perspective, but the utmost source of contemplation, inspiration and often serve as a muse for writing. Lately, I’ve seen a large outpouring of quotes I really have taken to on Twitter. Therefore, I thought I might share some of them, thinking they might be of interest to others, or at least provide some introspect as we begin to ease into the end of a long week. Before I do that, I’d just like to mention that if you haven’t already heard, today just so happens to be National Cheesecake Day!

Memory Quote   Cherry Cheesecake

I’ll be first to admit, cheesecake is a definite favorite of mine. I’ve never considered myself to be all that fond of chocolate cake, though of course, it has its moments, but for me, cheesecake is the ultimate dessert and one I’ve highly-regarded since childhood, though I don’t eat it all that often. That said, some of my fondest memories are of sharing a slice of cheesecake with my dad at a local diner and also, at the famed NYC spot, Lindy’s. My dad and I shared a similar fondness for cheesecake, anything cherry flavored (sodas, Twizzlers, etc), so looking back on this helps bring back a bit of childhood happiness (how appropriate, since today is a Throwback Thursday, anyway, right?!)

Memories Quote

Without further adieu, here are some quotes currently on my radar; I hope you enjoy them as much as I have:

  • “Be yourself, because and original is worth more than a copy.”
  • “It is better to learn late, than never.”
  • “Happiness is the secret to all beauty. There is no beauty without happiness.”
  • “Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you, because greatest secrets are often hidden in the most unlikely places.”
  • “If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.”
  • “Nothing haunts us like the things we don’t say.”
  • “Nothing can be loved or hated until it is understood.”
  • “By having something to look forward to, you bring happiness into your life well before the event takes place.”
  • “Never regret something that once made you smile.”
  • “To send a letter is to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.”
  • “The first step in healing is realizing there’s a wound.”
  • “Don’t waste time waiting for inspiration. Begin and inspiration will find you.”
  • “When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves.”
  • “Certain things capture your eye, but pursue only those that capture the heart.”
  • “Sometimes, it’s not the people who change, it’s the mask that falls off.”

Always believe

Choices and their Consequences

About a month or two ago, while perusing several websites, including one of my favorites for books, Goodreads, I stumbled across an author whose two books called to me. Her third book, slated to be released this month, in July, was also one that had particular appeal to me, so I immediately requested all three from my local library. After reading the first two, already-released books, Taylor Jenkins Reid, the author of the books I am referring to, quickly became one of my favorite, go-to authors. Her writing is simple yet poignant, with words and stories I can easily relate to. The books have a certain flow to them, one where I can start reading, and then look at the clock next to me and realize an hour has passed. Her stories have the ability to take hold of deeply-etched emotions with me, bringing back feelings of the past and allowing me to deal and process with those sentiments I neglected years ago.

Taylor Jenkins Reid 1     Taylor Jenkins Reid 2

Needless to say, when I learned of the title of her newest, third novel, “Maybe in Another Life,” the memories of my past came flooding to me. I often spend chunks of the day wondering what my life would have been like if I had made another choice in various situations, or if I hadn’t made a choice at all, or if I had simply spoken up verbally, rather than through bodily actions. Throughout my life, I regrettably made a lot of rash decisions seeking instant gratification or to numb myself from the situation at hand, without considering future consequences. I suppose a part of that was being young, not realizing how the actions of the present time could prove to impact me in future years to come. Often as a teenager, it’s difficult to really understand the impact of our actions. I’ll be first admit I was self-centered in much of my adolescence, often believing it was a catastrophe if I had no weekend plans, or if I wasn’t invited out with friends. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that decisions made as a 17-year-old still feel hauntingly poignant in my life, now as a 27-year-old.

Taylor Jenkins Reid New

That being said, the title, Maybe in Another Life, has lead me to contemplate and wonder, some of the many “what-if’s,” in my life, so rather than have them running rampant in my often frenzied mind, I figured I would share them and ask those of you who might reading, how you might finish this sentence, “Maybe in another life, I would have…” The other day, the author herself, Taylor Jenkins Reid, posed this question on Twitter to her followers and it stayed with me, triggering an outpouring of memories and contemplations.

My senior year photo from 2006.

My senior year photo from 2006; sharing a time when a lot of the choices I made at that time proves to still impact me, very much so, today.

“Maybe in Another Life,”….

  • I would have been a magazine editor/journalist, working in the city, interviewing different types of people, writing articles, researching, and discovering my voice as a writer.
  • I would have a great group of friends who love me for who I am, no matter my quirks, who bring out the best me, who I would meet on the weekends for a lingering brunch of excellent food and conversation and share laughs about the latest TV shows, guys we’re dating, and other events.
  • I would have been in a loving relationship with a man who makes me feel loved, cared for and appreciated. He would love me for who I am, no matter the blemishes, imperfect aspects of my personality and body and would celebrate me for the person I am and who I’ve become. He would comfort me when sad, share in my laughs and tears, and hold my hand every night as we feel asleep together. With him, there would be no self-conscious feeling, no wondering if he likes or truly loves me, no games, but only simple, wholesome love.
  • I would have been married and a mom to children; children who would grow up to be loving, well-adjusted individuals.
  • I would have been more trusting and confident in my body, respecting myself and realizing I am not my body, but a woman with thoughts, feelings, dreams and goals who tries her hardest to be supportive and encouraging to others.
  • I would have a father in my life who loves and respects me and acknowledges/validates my feelings, who doesn’t make me feel ashamed of myself or ashamed of my body. He would offer me advice and provide me with encouragement and love.
  • I would travel extensively throughout the world, seeing different cultures, learning different languages and allowing myself to relish in the beauty of the various architecture and lands.
  • I would be able to eat and enjoy anything and everything I wanted, realizing that food is something to be enjoyed and celebrated, not pushed away or manipulated. I would enjoy plentiful meals with friends and family, cooking all the recipes I’d love to and able to share in the love that is that of homemade meals.
  • Most importantly though, maybe in another life, I would be confident enough to take the risks I think about taking and allow myself to feel pain and disappointment that might come with these risks, but realize failure isn’t final and that each new day is another chance to make a change and to even start all over again. Maybe in another life, I would have the courage to start over and live the past 10 years the way I thought I always would. Maybe in another life, I would realize it really isn’t too late, because every moment alive I’m given affords me with a chance for change and a chance for happiness.

Start Over Quote

So, now that I’ve told you some of my “maybe in another life” responses, I’d love to hear what some of yours are, if you’re willing to share, which I hope you will be. Thanks for taking the time to listen today.

Bark Around the World

Good morning! I hope your week has been a pleasant one and that your weekend will be filled with fun, sunshine and relaxation! Originally, I had intended to compose this very post yesterday, after first reading the to-be mentioned article, but honestly felt too overwhelmed with emotion to do so. I figured this morning would be best, after I gave myself a chance to digest all I read.

If you’re a social media follower (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc) of news organizations/TV stations, such as ABC News, or a follower of various magazines, such as Health or others, then it’s very likely you’ve already seen, read, or heard about the heart wrenching story of New York City resident, Thomas Neil Rodriguez and the trip around the world he recently took with his terminally-ill, 15-year-old mixed-breed dog, Poh and his fiance.

Poh 2

Together since Rodriguez adopted him in December 1999, Rodriguez described Poh in an interview with ABC News (via http://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/york-man-takes-dying-dog-bucket-list-adventure/story?id=31338158) as, ”

“My life is kind of hectic,” Rodriguez said. “I’m always traveling, but Poh is my home, my child. I think this resonated with a lot of dog owners. They wish they could do stuff like this with their dog and spend these moments, but sometimes life gets in the way.”

“I am super blessed that I have actually gotten to do this,” he added. “People think I take care of Poh, but Poh takes care of me.”

Back in March, the 12,000 mile journey throughout the United States commenced and was documented on an Instagram account he created to show others of their experiences. Several of the photos were shared on the aforementioned ABC News article and one in particular brought tears to my eyes. Though the story in general left me in tears for a good portion of the day, the photo of Poh in a wagon, with the San Francisco Golden Gate bridge as backdrop, touched a part of me that hasn’t been that moved since my own dog, Oliver had a recent host of health issues. What I felt when looking at the photo and simply reading through the article is something that is truly difficult and near impossible to place into words.

Poh

In thinking about it, I suppose what really got to me, is the notion of me being a dog owner since a couple days before my 14th birthday. As a child, I begged and begged my parents for a dog, always finding comfort and solace in them. Beginning from when I was 9 years old, I was enthralled with dogs. Towards the end of May, as a 9-year-old, my sister and I took comfort and comradeship with the dog belonging to the family who lived behind us. Our grandmother had recently passed away after an intense, 6-month battle with Leukemia and being able to play with Darby, the friendly Golden Retriever in our backyard, was the best therapy that could have ever been offered to me. He stayed by my side, licking my hand, taking delight in my playful nature. He offered a distraction from the sadness and loneliness I felt.

From that moment on, I desperately longed for a dog and for my 14th birthday, my wishes were finally answered. Seeing an ad for Bichon Frise puppies in the newspaper, my mom took my sister and I one Sunday afternoon to choose the puppy we wanted and having tied a blue bandana around him, Oliver was chosen. It’s hard for me to remember what life was like without Oliver. Of course, it’s not to say life has been easy with him, because it hasn’t. It has been a challenge, both physically and emotionally. Throughout the years, we’ve watched him battle through infections, surgeries, surgical errors, and a host of other issues, but his resilience has always shone through. Throughout all of it, no matter the obstacles thrown his way, he’s always risen above, maintaining his strength, sometimes sobbing, but still making it through, his tail wagging each day, greeting me when I walk through the door.

Oliver tongue

Though sometimes I can become frustrated with him, he is my family. It’s hard for me to imagine my house empty, without him. So perhaps this is why reading about Rodriguez’s journey with Poh hit home. Reading about their adventures together, seeing the passion and joy they experienced, is something I long for with Oliver. Looking back on old pictures of Oliver, it’s hard for me to remember when he used to move about easily, sitting perched on top of the sofa, eagerly running up and down the steps. Being 13-years-old now, it is challenging for him to move around, as the arthritis often reduces his mobility. My life with him consists of patience and understanding. It’s all I can do to repay him for his patience with me, seeing me cry as I experienced the many disappointments in life. Though I am often distracted by my own personal struggles, Oliver always seems to look at me with a certain sense of pride and understanding and he is forgiving.

Oliver in his shirt

If nothing else, Oliver teaches me what it means to be resilient, forgiving and understanding. He offers me companionship and like Rodriguez and Poh, for the past 13-years, he’s been my consistent home.

Make a Wish

Today is my 27th birthday. For some reason, my own birthday always seems to make me a bit nostalgic and melancholy. Of course, I appreciate any happy birthday wish, card, gift, or sentiment provided to me, but I can’t help but feel undeserving. I suppose that this year is a bit different than other years. My 27th year marks exactly 10 years since my life dramatically changed. As a result of the choices I made at age 17, my life took a different path/route, losing friends (or at least people who I thought were my friends), and experiencing a tumultuous senior year of high school and four years of college, thereafter.

That aside, these past ten years have been nothing short of eventful, some positive, some not so much. In spite of it all, I will be forever thankful for my family, my sister and mom, who have always stuck by me, believing me when I failed to believe in myself, providing me with the strength, momentum and encouragement to continue forging my way through life. No matter what I might look like, no matter the choices I made or failed to make, they still make me feel as though I am deserving of the many opportunities life can provide. They inspire me each day and teach me what resilience and perseverance is. Though today might be my birthday, the two people who really deserve to be recognized today are my sister and mom, it is because of their love, strength and support that I will blow out those candles today and look towards another year of life.

To me, birthdays are a chance for new beginnings.

Birthday Cake