Let's Start With Music

Music is a universal language that speaks to the soul. It only takes a good rhythm to get people smiling (inside/out), nodding, or swaying to the beat.

Music not only speaks to the soul, but I believe it opens up the soul and seeps into our spirit, attitude, and feelings.

Multiple studies have shown a correlation between music and your well-being. Music was a major part of my #CaliforniWakening trip to California. I wanted to make sure my spirit and my mind were filled with peace, positivity, and things that are good.

Mission accomplished.
246 songs later, and my "CaliforniWakening" Spotify playlist was complete.*
17 hours and 12 minutes of bliss.

It didn't feel like a lot when I had to start skipping songs each time I restarted my Spotify app in the car, but I am still pleased with my musical selections. Check it out on shuffle if you want to chill, reflect, go for a drive, or simply need a reason to smile.

The variety of genres should give you some options to tune to (hopefully) without being dissappointed. Here are my top 10 picks from the playlist (via YouTube) you should check out.
  1. Shake It Out | Florence and the Machine - This song got me in the mood for dancing and moving around every time (and I played it at least 20 times on my 12-day trip). What a reminder to let go of the past! "It's hard to dance with the devil on your back, so shake it out!"
  2. Weekends | Urban Cone - Another great dance tune that makes it feel like the sun is shining brighter. Everyday feels like the weekend when you're on vacation. "Can you feel it? I can feel it!"
  3. The Beauty in the Ugly I Jason Mraz - Who are you and who do you want to be? I want to be true to me. Jason is my #1 favorite artist/musician, so no doubt he would make this list. But this song is from the show "Ugly Betty" and speaks volumes about not losing you by "leaving normal just to satisfy demand."
  4. Flaws | Bastille - Discovering the beauty in the ugly means looking at flaws as a beautiful part of the Me puzzle. I'm okay with wearing my flaws on my sleeves. It makes me human and they don't need to be counted...just recognized as step one in self-awareness. "There’s a hole in my soul, I can’t fill it"...but I know who can.
  5. Akeda | Matisyahu - Self-discovery is only part of the equation. I realized that unless you know the Creator, it's impossible to truly know yourself. This journey has been traveled with Matisyahu by my side, since I won tickets to his Philadelphia concert in December 2014. The beginning of me starts with Love. God is Love, and I am His. His daughter, His friend, His lover, His servant, His vessel to move and speak life on the Earth. Now I realize it begins with [these] words. Even if perfection is not expected or required, it feels like my flaws are hauntingly "telling the same story," and holding me back from fulfilling all I am called to be. The way Abraham trusted..."Teach me to love."
  6. Love Invincible | Michael Franti - *This order is connecting better than I thought it would!* The thing about love is that there can never be too much. :) I am addicted to love and the idea of what it can do. "When we feel impossible, show us what is possible. Teach us love invincible."
  7. Brokenness Aside | All Sons & Daughters - What stops us from loving to the max? I think it's us. "Will your grace run out if I let you down? Cause all I know is how to run... "If it's not one thing, it's another." My thoughts exactly. I want to love invincible. I recognize my flaws keep me from feeling enough sometimes...but I know there's a Savior that takes my flaws, my brokenness, and my imperfections to make them beautiful. The beauty in the ugly is that there is so more happening with "the ugly" than our eyes can see. And the process of gaining self-awareness, humility, and meekness makes the ugly brokenness become a beautiful masterpiece that screams, "But don't forget, my child, I love you."
  8. Born Again | Josh Garrels - I realized I'm a runner. Acknowledging my insides has never been a priority, but has always created a fight or FLIGHT reaction when I couldn't explain it. That's part of my flaws. Being 'born again' is all about receiving an internal change that is an available gift of freedom for anyone who wants to accept it. Featured in an article in this month's edition of Relevant magazine, Josh seems to have been in a similar place that I am in—where I realize some "deep areas" of my life simply need to be flushed out...and not something to run from. "It took me a while, but my time has come to be born again...I am ready to feel the power of change."
  9. Wonder (Spontaneous) | Bethel - I feel some type of way listening to their live music. I can feel that Spirit wanting to change and stir things up in {my} spirit. It's so beautiful to feel. It's almost like I can touch the wondrous beauty of this God. This Savior that loves and wants me just as I am...flaws and all. I NEVER want to "lose that wonder."
  10. Now I Know | Stephen Marley - This came on the car stereo in LA and one line made me think, I need to add this. "What used to be unbreakable, thought this bond would never break. But nothing's permanent in life, all except for change." I have a tattoo that I designed stating the same thought...Nothing but change (and the God trinity -) lasts forever, but all things must come to an end. "Now I know."

These songs not only came up multiple times, but they spoke to me. I am in a place where I understand that I am loved for eternity, yet now I am reflecting and searching for something good to give back to the world.

After my #CaliforniWakening adventures, I recognize it starts with my words. "Words connect us to our destiny. Speak life." (And in this case - Hear/Sing Life! via DC Metro Church). This playlist was perfect, and I hope you enjoy!

*Note: You may need to create a free Spotify account to play the playlist from your computer or Premium for on-the-go!

Things are going to change.

I love writing. It's a part of who I am. Even as a child, I would prefer to write out my thoughts and feelings in a letter, poem, song, and eventually blogs. I realized that writing is more than a hobby—even if it feels like work sometimes—it's a gift.

The thing about gifts is that they should be shared and never abused. Gifts should feel good to do.

Things are going to change.
Rather than focusing on my super eventful, non-parent approved adventures, I want to share #wisewords that may actually help you or someone you know. More life lessons.

For one: never have expectations. But what you can expect is honesty and authenticity – not that it ever lacked. You can still expect stories, but only when relevant. You can expect a variety of topics from travel and budgets to good food, music, friendships, relationships, spirituality, and just good ol' words of wisdom. All from the prospective of a young professional.

I expect to have better frequency in posts  hopefully you'll see 2-4 /month for now. I'll start the next as a tie-in to my #Californiwakening trip. It certainly was awakening and revealing...I guess that's what a lot of alone/God time will do!

Snapshot: See You in OrLaCoO!

I'm really excited about my trips. This has been a wonderful year so far, and I'm looking forward to what the universe has for me in the future. I started playing the Ukulele and planted vegetables in a garden! This is not where I thought that I would be one year ago. I'm so glad God's plans are often better than our dreams.

I am currently on a plane to Orlando, Florida for work. I'll be spending the next 6 days with the oranges and sun. This may end up being a semi-uneventful trip, but seeing my best friend down south will make it even better.

I'll be in California in a little over a week to attend the DigiMarCon conference in Santa Monica. Before the conference,  I will spend a few days with my other best friend/former roommate that moved to LA last summer!

After the conference, I will travel up the coast - stopping in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, Santa Cruz, Ben Lomond, and ultimately San Francisco (then back to catch my flight in LA!).

Stay tuned for many more adventures to come...

Q: What are you looking forward to the most?
A: Feeling the love all around me. From you to nature and everything I will have the opportunity to interact with. I want every moment to be divine.

Show Me A Good Time

Why do we gravitate toward doing things we think we should do rather than the things we want to do? How does it become challenging and difficult to do things we once loved so much? Is it a loss of interest? Is it OK to be idle and comfortable--or is that being lazy? Is it time that seems like a constraint or like something that will always be there?

Priorities play a big factor; as does will and desire. I am a firm believer in "if you want to do or get something enough, there is nothing that will stop you from making it happen." Time is added to the schedule, preparations are made, and you get it [done].

I'm not sure if it's post-college life, but I haven't been as dedicated to making time for some things I feel like I should do. I also want to feel bad -- and even mentioning this may mean some guilt is in there, but I enjoy not being [pro]/active. Then I wonder if it's because I'm using up so much energy toward other places that aren't necessarily nourishing for the time spent.

Time is money; and time is life. Each moment that we use and each moment that we "waste" is time that could have been spent on something else. What's the best thing today and tomorrow?

There is also power in comfort and only doing just enough. When the right boundaries aren't in place, it's also possible to lose your reality and fall into someone else's. It's interesting how we get caught up in the every day and move based on an agenda that's not completely predicted by us so easily. Do you ever feel comfortable in living and doing just enough? 

...then, Vegas.
I really expected falling in love with the city, but I wasn't. I couldn't. The moment I walked off the plane, pokies (aka slot machines) greeted me and I knew that I would be in for a treat. I assumed being in the city of sin would mean more temptation...but it was not the storyline I plotted in my mind. Everything about Vegas is what I expected, but I was different.
I felt different. I felt out of my element--as if I didn't belong there. I stayed at the beautiful Caesars Palace (which you may recognize from the Hangover movie) and enjoyed everything about it, excluding the prices and indoor smoking policies (although both apply to all of Vegas). I took some extra time to really settle in and take it all in after I checked into the room.

As I love to do in every new city, I headed outside and took a walk down the strip. The streets were exactly what I expected and filled with all types of crazy! There were interesting characters--some I recognized from comics and some just odd. People freely enjoyed their open beverages in the streets without any hassle or public damage. Passes for night clubs, concerts, show girls, and "show" girls were hot along the strip, but most of the promoters I saw were not. Most valuable thing I am taking back from visiting the city? There are lots of jobs for everyone!

Oh! That was January 2014. :) I made it out to Vegas a second round in January 2015 and had the opportunity to work with a great videographer that had been there for a while. He shared more insight to thw city and it helped change my view for the better. 

Not how do you do, what do you do.

Why do we gravitate toward doing things we want to do rather than the things we think we should do? How does it become challenging and difficult to do things we once loved so much and gave so much importance to? Is it a loss of interest? Is it due to life's many distractions—the Internet, relationships, work? Is it just part of growing up? Do people grow out of the things they love...their once upon a time passion or dreams? Is it even OK to be idle and comfortable--or is that being lazy and a borderline parasite (laziness has a scale)? Is it time that seems like a constraint or like something that will always be there, and so there is no need to rush?

My favorite character, Paul (formerly Saul) says, "For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice" in Romans 7:19 (NKJV). I know I am not the only one who struggles or has struggled with having the desire to get something done, but not actually doing it...or doing the opposite/nothing.

Priorities play a big factor; as does will and desire. I am a firm believer in "if you want to do or get something enough, there is nothing that will stop you from making it happen." Time is added to your schedule, preparations are made, you think every step or at least the first, and you get it [done].

I'm not sure if it's post-college life and the thrills of working, but I haven't been as dedicated to making time for some things I feel like I should do. I want to feel bad -- and even mentioning this may mean some guilt is in there, but I enjoy not being [pro]/active. I wonder if it's because much of my energy is projected toward other places that aren't necessarily nourishing (mind, body, and soul) for the time spent.

Time is money; and time is life. Each moment that we use and each moment that we "waste" is time that could have been spent on something else. What is the best thing to do right now for today and tomorrow?

So now I'm just thinking about what to do each day, every moment, every opportunity to live... How to be better. It is 2015.

Did I ever say 'hello'?


Disclaimer: This was not my first time to New York and I've been several times. But this is the first time I went to NY independently of age and with no agenda. It was phenomenal. Check out pics from my 2014 transition, from DC to Philly to NYC.

Being alive is not enough.

Stop. Sit still. Watch. Listen. Be aware of your surroundings. Take note.

Where is your mind in every situation? Are you present or, like me, thinking of the possibilities?

The last year or two has not been the same. I would write, but not post. My travels and adventures have taken me to many places that I want to share…but I have not. I am the only one to blame for not focusing on what matters most - who I am and where I am going.

Can you believe I am still trying to pick up the pieces from when I left Australia? My mind must have surely been frazzled to the maxx! It's been 3 years now, but I am still on the road to recovery. I am still so very grateful that I am where I am today…so happy to be alive and well.

However, being alive is not enough anymore. I want to live. I need to breathe! I long to feel again.

I've had the opportunity to reflect in the last few months. And I've honestly avoided this in the last 2 years and focused more on making memories disappear or go dormant until I'm ready to write them out (book date TBD).

A key theme since the commencement of 2015? The past is over. It cannot move with you unless you bring it. There are enough troubles for today…and tomorrow!

I just feel like I'm in a different place - which is most definitely a good thing. I just need to figure out where to go from here. My heart is in a difficult place.

At least I know, I'm physically in Las Vegas.

More to come...and memories to share.

Matthew 6:34 (NKJV) - "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

~*all things new*~

It was all yellow.

I can't believe it's 2014 and I have unpublished blogs. I start writing, but can never complete the thought. It's as if I get to a point where my mind decides it doesn't want to feed me more words, more wit, more thoughts to put down.

It's 2014, and I'm looking to change that. I'm looking to change several things in my life. It's time to make things happen and not just think about the fact that it needs to be done or that I want it to be done. No more being idle. No more watching and waiting.

My turn to rise up!

2013 was pleasant and filled with travels for me and my beloved. Over the summer, we joined 12 others for an adventure in a strange house in the woods with no internet.

Only two (2) hours outside of D.C. is a house unlike any other that I've seen. I never thought I would come across a place like Brewhouse Mountain Eco-Inn in York Haven, PA.

It was in July when a group of youthful, free souls joined together for some fun over the hot summer weekend. It was magnificently detailed and clearly someone's treasure.

Brewhouse Wall of Beer Cans - view from upstairs hallway
Image by Neha Gautam
We arrived on a dark and stormy night (literally lol), but our curiosity loomed. With 12 others eagerly prepared to explore our new haus for the weekend, it was just us and the woods away from the rest of the world.

There were figurines and odd statues from the mid-1900s and more importantly, the walls were lined up with containers of beer in all sizes–kegs and cans–from the past century (possibly more).

Figurines - Elvis Presley, vintage Budweiser can, and Jesus
Image by Neha Gautam

Each room had its own theme based on the cans in the room; there was the Pacific, Germany, America, and Africa and EurAsia. Every element of the house and every single room was unique and well organized/planned. I slept in the bright and beautiful Scandinavian/Swedish Room.

Brewhouse Wall of Beer Cans
Image by Neha Gautam

We had fun; partied in the game room with strobe lights; drink skippy; went hiking; and made it a weekend to remember. I would do it all over...perhaps in a new house with the same people... just for different stories.


Fast forward to November with the autumn season slipping away, and the adventure continued in Pennsylvania to Philly.

It was my second time to Philly–if 1 unplanned overnight for American Idol auditions at 16 counts (itinerary was pretty strict)–and I was pretty excited. My boyfriend and I made it a trip right before the Thanksgiving holiday.

I was eager to explore the streets of brotherly love and see what one of America's favorite cities had to offer. It was also another opportunity to have a mini-road trip and see some friends.

We walked around the city from South Street through Old city, until we were in Southwest Philly overlooking a view of Camden. Beautiful sight.
The city, that is. The streets were filled with expressions of art, theatres, and busy people. We made it to Isaiah Zagar's art museum, Philadelphia Magic Gardens; and a magical place it is. The museum is a collection of amazing mosaic art all placed together in a crazy, poetic way—on the walls, floors, portraits, chairs, and random streets throughout the city—if it's there, it has been Zagar'd. There is so much to see that it is impossible to catch everything. Our friend and Philadelphia resident says it's her favorite place to go and she discovers something new every time. The best part about the art there is that it is constantly changing and new exhibits are being added.

I believe it.
Photo courtesy of J.G.
Of course, we tried a recommended cheesesteak at Jim's Steaks on 4th and South Street. Splendid and delicious, it was! Perfect way to start the day before heading back to DC.

Philly–I liked it. I felt the love. I felt good vibes all around. I would do it again and maybe again. It's nice to go into a new city or a new place in general. It feels good to start fresh .

Welcome, 2014.
, I'm ready.

Next stop: Las Vegas, Nevada