Twas the Nigh of Christmas & All Through the House

My family and I celebrate Christmas on the Eve of Christmas. Christmas Day for me is to sleep over half the day (since I work overnights with my current job that actually pays for the bills), snack on appetizer type foods, and surf the channels for a movie marathon and spend it as a single mother of two dogs, fighting over the garbage can, yet again.

But a change up this early evening. Turning off the TV and insert Celine Dion into my ears with a mix of her new album, Christmas songs and top hits.  Surely a warm feeling with one of the best singing voices, ever to exist. Thank you, Quebec for allowing her to express her dreams to the world and not keep her isolated. Now if only my favorite actor would follow suit. (laughing). Just kidding. Mind you, I am also inducing myself to another coffee high at this moment.

For Christmas, the most spoiled out of the group other than my nephews is my mother and step-dad, but seeing the joy and laughter on their faces are all priceless. I feel they also are old enough to know better and keep grounded when we give them exactly what they want for Christmas. But for the rest of us, the second generation, we keep the gifts small as possible, or we try, so we can teach the nephews that Christmas isn’t just about presents.  I have learned over the years that gifts are nice, but family time is a grander event during this time of year. It’s getting easier for me after years of shutting them out due to my personal struggles in the past. Hell, we are having another family night on Thursday for our favorite past-time meal, taco pizza! (laughing).

What’s even more heart-warming than Celine Dion, are the actions my immediate family shows by supporting my dreams of writing, cooking, and I am sure if they could, traveling, by the few gifts I do receive. This year was writing tools/inspirational books & my mother busted her behind with homemade seasonings and olive oils, as she built a new kitchen shelf for me, and also included three new cookbooks.

 I only had to read the first chapter of Jack Canfield’s Chicken Soup For The Soul: Inspiration for Writers, to get motivated for this blog. I am here, “working”, for my readers (smiling). It was the story of Celine Dion’s ghost writer for her biography and it was just touching. Yes, I will continue reading it after I work on my blog again. Revealing my novel projects, with a sneak peak of Psychological Demons later this week, as I re-add, yet, another page on my blog site.

I feel it’s coming together beautifully. Just need to carry a notepad, writing utensil, and one of my writing tools, inspirational books, with at all times. As I continue to write, my audience continues to grow. As I open myself up to other artistic measures, again, my audience grows. I joke about being the “Jane of Trades” through my photography, music, & writing, but haven’t mastered any of them yet. Or have I? Just waiting on the “write” (right) person to discover me. Only time will tell after my dues are paid, figuratively.

As I work towards my stories, photography, & poetry, I hope I give you the inspiration to work on your passions, instead of slaving yourself for the government (disguise-able discovery with my current private Philosophical thoughts). I also hope for those who celebrate Christmas and also for those who don’t to find peace within their hearts and in their loved ones. Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanza, and overall, Happy Holidays and please, PLEASE, have a safe and Happy New Year.

As for me, I shall get “crunk” (an urban slang for drunk and crazy, for you non-urban and non-Lil’ Jon folks) off of Welch’s Sparkling Grape Juice this year. A repeat of last year (smiles).

Until Next Time…

Detours In Life. See Them As A Blessing, Not A Struggle.

Early morning thoughts with a cup of chai tea on the left of me. As Christmas is coming to a close, I can’t help but flashback to the days in Iraq. 50-60s degree Fahrenheit during the day and dropping down to the 30s at night. Snow was substituted by rain, which would produce a large amount of mud.

Now that brings me back to my life’s purpose. Spending nine years in the U.S. Armed Forces was a mix of opportunities and struggles, but coming out on top is the only way I can close that chapter. I meant that based on mentality levels, not necessary emotional or physical levels. Of those nine years, I haven’t done the bare minimum for my original dreams. It was like a construction zone off of I-90 in the summertime down in Chicago. A hot mess of a detour. But I have looked at this in  a new light, recently.

The friends in my life are split when it comes to age, nowadays. Either they are older than me, like 8yrs+, or they are basically fresh into adulthood, mainly my artists friends are. They are working and trying to get somewhere, but too caught up in the game of life at the moment. So I watch from a distance, as I work on my own thing with my writing & photography, but if they ever need me or my advice, I am here with open arms, because we aren’t only a team, but a family.

Of course I spice my artistry up by putting music into the equation from time to time, but that’s not my main focus right now. Telling stories through poetry, prose, or novels, that are far from the norms of Hollywood, is where I am right now. Hopefully, maybe switch them into movies to tell my stories one day. If it wasn’t for my experience with the Armed Forces or deployment, I probably would still be kind of lost in the career aspect of things. It has helped me grow though and for that I am grateful!

Yes, I could probably be further in my music career today if I stuck to my writing and guitar lessons as a teenager, but I really didn’t have my heart into it at the point and time. So what is the use? With this squiggly line of a climb up the latter of success, I can mix and match more stories and express more thoughts through my own heart. I needed the education of the World, not just in little ole’ Wisconsin, so being able to step out of the comfort box and see the opportunity of the World through my own eyes and not being blind-sided by the media, is a blessing. Understanding other diversities, religions, and cultural environments, is a blessing.

I’ll be 28 in June. Some will debate about how young I still am just by the number displayed in this blog, but with the life I have gone through already, I don’t feel “young”, but yet, I don’t feel necessary old all the time either. I feel mainly as I am just being me and my time will come when it’s due. With the education, failures of past attempts of other careers, the supporters having my back, and the growth through life, I know I got this. It just takes time, persistent, & strong-willed, in the heart. Even with life struggles, as you get older, life gets better. Remember this small fact and the world will fall into your hands.

This advice doesn’t just fall in the path I chose. It also falls into any obstacle that comes with life, whether it’s family, career switch, or whatever! Find the strength within you to surpass it and follow your heart. I am not saying to drop everything and start over, but take the knowledge you developed in your years and feed it to the projects you want to succeed in life with. You be surprised on how many people are waiting to hear your stories and probably will be able to relate to them. Don’t live in fear.Hell, you may save somebody someday just by being you.

I am aching for 2014, because I know things will just keep getting better with filtering out the past, organizing and embracing the present, and planning for the the future. Ideas are already brewing up in this skull at the moment.

Until Next Time…

Prioritizing Projects In A Chaotic Life

“Chaos Fire” Courtesy of Dbzheir

Lately, life has just been of chaos. Or so I feel. Part of the problem is the lack of prioritizing my projects, events, & the people in my life. The chaos also brings major anxiety and impatience. Organization is of necessity at the moment. Anyone else feel the same problems sometimes?

The last scenic photo session I have done was possibly about three months ago. As much as I would love to keep working, I put my novel projects aside due to the lack of research. My poetry is my priority at the moment. I need to focus that image, instead of trying to do everything at once. Soon, school will once again be of priority, as well as being a photographer again for a clothing line.

It’s a challenge when your “to do” list is a mile long, with photo shoots, novels, memoirs, poetry, photography, school, and recently I released a Hip-Hop song, called “Rise Above”, and will start to produce music as well. I have this edge to want to do everything! I just can’t be satisfied with just one direction towards my dreams (laughing). Again, anyone else in the art field with the same problem?

It’s frustrating, but at the same time, I don’t get tired of doing the same things over and over again. A calendar/planner and starting to use my calendar on my phone is a must, but it seems so clustered when all these social networks events all synced into the calendar. I never been too tech savvy. Even with progress, I try to find ways to keep me old school in a sense, but if I want to get where I am going with life, I guess the way to go is to sacrifice myself a bit more (laughing).

I also notice the more I write in my blog, the more audience I draw into my world from all walks of life. I just wish I had something worthy to write on a day-to-day basis. But I don’t (laughing). Once school starts though, I’ll be taking “Philosophy of the Arts” as a class, so that will be a extremely exquisite topic to post about on this blog.

 I was thinking of posting some of my poetry and proses back up with some of the fan fictions I have still on this blog site, but I think the other sites my poetry reside on are a bit more legitimate, but is it possible to continue to publish more here and there at the same time? What’s the “rule” for self-publishing poetry or stories?

This is not the only information I lack with my future goals. Research needs to be bumped up on the priority list. I learned that with a conversation I had with a dear friend and a mentor of mine when it comes to writing and publishing. I suggest if you are lacking in anything when it comes to information, promotions, etc. You should educate yourself the tricks and trade. It’s different on all walks of life of where you want to be anyways. With music, you need to learn or relearn the techniques of your voice, singing, etc. With performing as a whole, if choreography is involved, practice, practice, practice! If it’s reciting poetry, find how to deliver that message. It’s like taking a speech class. You need a solid structure, a solid message, and out comes a solid confidence. Also practicing needs to mandatory. When it comes to writing, grammar, publications, & if you really want to make the story come alive, research, especially the location of the story. Unless you are writing a fantasy, then go to town with your imagination like Chronicles of Narnia. Whatever it is, EDUCATE & PRIORITIZE YOUR GOALS! The more the organization, the less the stress and tension, and the more understanding of the steps needed to be taken. Don’t be like me at the moment (laughing).

Until Next Time…

My TOP TEN Favorite Holiday Jams

I am one who celebrates Christmas. Even though I didn’t necessary grew up with Christ or church in majority of my life. Whether you consider this season as just a Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or any other holiday that may fall in this very time of year, it should be a time of peace and love. Even though winter is NOT my favorite season, I do find joy during this time of year with the overdose of Christmas cookies, hot cocoa, soup, and especially holiday music. It makes up for the pain of the cold. Ever since my return from my tour in Iraq, I have started appreciating snow more, but not the cold. I don’t complain of course, because if I did fully hate the season, it would make more sense to just move somewhere warmer for me. There is just a beauty with the privilege to see nature change seasons though. That’s probably why I have stayed as long as I have in this well-known territory of cheese.

I should be Christmas shopping and looking for my favorite holiday cookie recipe, but I took a seat to share some of my favorite holiday tunes to get in the Merry fever! I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. I sometimes even find myself jamming to these songs in July! Ha! I even put a playlist together on my YouTube channel for those who want to listen to them non-stop or in a different order. I know the title says TOP TEN, but I added two extra bonus videos for you all to enjoy, because I am sneaky like that.

1. God Bless This Child – Shania Twain

2. Happy X-Mas (War Is Over) – The Sing Off’s Season 3 Cast

3. Holiday In Your Heart – Crystal Gage

4. Angels Among Us – Alabama

5. Drummer Boy – Justin Beiber f/ Busta Rhymes

6. Where Are You Christmas – Faith Hill

7. O’ Holy Night – Celine Dion

8. Let There Be Peace On Earth – Vince Gill f/ Jenny Gill

9. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays – *NSYNC

10. Christmas Cookies – George Strait

Bonus: Home – Black Shelton f/ Michael Buble
(Christmas Edition)

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, God(s) Bless… 

& Until Next Time….

My TOP TEN Albums of the Year

It’s coming to the end of the year of 2013. So, as an individual obsessed with music, I thought it was my right to give you a closer look at my favorite tastes in music by displaying my top five albums that either was released in late 2012 or in 2013 and lingered around all year round until this cold December day.

I am a musical inclined fan/supporter who tries to not limit her access to music to the mainstream segments when it comes to music. So tirelessly, I search YouTube videos and watch a number of music shows whether it’s The Voice, The Sing Off, or a number of Awards shows to try and keep up with all works of all genres in the music industry.  

Also, may I share, I have Spotify for an app. The benefits in my eyes is I can make my own playlists, because for me, it’s a challenge sometimes to find a whole album that I can listen to, without skipping tracks. If I find an album or a mixtape that fits this description, that’s when I purchase it from Best Buy, Amazon, or any other location it’s available. 

Let’s get it started: 
Top TEN Albums of 2013
     1.       Marshall Mathers LP2 – Eminem
The rap God is back! You can’t deny the legacy. Being released in November, he came out with a more in depth and relevant album, like as, his Recovery album. Haters are going to say he got soft, but I feel his songs and his lyrics show not only has he grown and matured in music, but he also has grown in life through his experience. My top track on this album is, “Headlights” f/ Nate Ruess.

2.       Sway – Blue October
One of two artists I go to with my ears wide open (other than Eminem) when I start building anger and resentment in my heart for those who did me wrong. Also, another artist who has shown through their music how they have grown. My top track on this album is, “Angels in Everything.”

      3.      Crazy World – Boys Like Girls
Boys Like Girls haven’t has much publicity like most of the artists I am revealing on my top ten albums list, but this album is amazing through and through. If you like Pop/Rock, this album is a fun album. It is a mix of inspirational music and love songs. The two themes I am sappy for in the music world. My top track on this album is, “Stuck In The Middle.”

4.       Bad Intentions – Dappy
You either heard him or you haven’t. Dappy is a UK-based rapper that delivers something different and stronger than a lot of the American rappers do. That’s just my opinion. Dappy, in his very own way, reminds me of Drake. He can sing, he can rap, and he isn’t afraid to drop his filter. Dappy also tells his stories and struggles through his music. My goal in life. Dappy is also one of the main reasons I have been reaching out to other artists from other countries. Why limit yourself with boundaries. Makes things boring. His song, “Bad Intentions” is my top track on this album.
      5.       Tuskegee – Lionel Richie
Lionel was one of the first artists with his song, “All Night Long” that I started karaoke with. Country is my second favorite genre behind Hip-Hop of course. This collaboration album with the top country artists in the music industry will speak for itself. Lionel surely still has it going for him! “You Are” f/ Blake Shelton is my top track for this album.

 6.    The Heist – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
How can I NOT put the album that is the most relevant to my very own life on my top ten albums list? I would also agree Macklemore is starting to get over played a bit, and that’s why he’s #6 and not higher. Also, that’s where the choice to stick to the mainstream radios, or be your own radio DJ comes in. The great thing about having Spotify and I Tunes is I control the radio play and the mix. My top track on this album is, “Neon Cathedral.”
      7.       Spark Seeker – Matisyahu
Not only do I not segregate other nations music, I will not segregate another religion’s artist. American Jewish Reggae artist, Matisyahu, has always been a genius and been true to his music. I also support his personal movement to not just bend for other religions, and expressing himself to be more spiritual and not strict to his own religion. That’s a sign of an open heart. My top track on this album is, “Live like a Warrior.”
8.       Strange Clouds – B.o.B
B.o.B isn’t afraid to step out of the stereotype of Hip-Hop. He gives people a voice from a new perspective of society and through his music; he shows that not all hip-hop artists are limited to the street life. He shows his education, lifestyle, and personal thoughts through his music. My top track on this album is, “Just a Sign” f/ Playboy Tre.
      9.       #3 – The Script
The Script, originally from Ireland, is one of my top pop/rock bands right now. I think the album #3 is a brilliant album with the mix of lyrics and instrumentals itself. This album also reveals a lot of songs that relate to my #OneLove mission as well. My top song on this album is, “No Words.”
10.   Get Your Heart On! – Simple Plan 
Simple Plan, originally from Quebec, Canada, is one of my all-time favorite punk rock bands. I go to their music when I am feeling lonely. I got this CD shortly before I got the news of one of my closest friends, Jon, passing away from battling terminal cancer, for one-two years, right before Christmas last year. I still shed a tear from time to time when I hear my top track on this album, “Gone Too Soon.”
Until next time….