My Sandpaper Year

Photo from  Emilian Robert Vicol via Flickr.

Photo from Emilian Robert Vicol via Flickr.

Reflecting on 2014, I imagine any number of the thoughts that have crossed my mind are likely the same ones that have occurred to other people about the last 12 months of life. I could have done a little more of this and a little less of that. I could have been a better friend/sister/daughter [fill in your superlative here]. Nostalgia always tends to abound this time of year.

As I reviewed the chronicle of my own experience, however, I realized something pretty profound. This was one of my sandpaper years.

My what now?

I know it’s an odd term, but let me explain. Everyone, whether they realize it or not, has years that shape them more than most. Years where some things about who you are as a person are buffed smooth, and other rougher spots you didn’t even realize existed, get exposed. It’s a year where not a lot seems easy, and you feel mostly like Sisyphus, continuously rolling a boulder uphill just to watch it slide down the other side and have to do it all over again. In short, a sandpaper year.

Photo from  Beth Scupham via Flickr.

Photo from Beth Scupham
via Flickr.

If I’m being honest, I’ve actually had a couple of back-to-back sandpaper years. Self-inflicted, unfortunately. Without getting too detailed, let’s just say I made an awful lot of big decisions that should have been better thought and prayed through, and I didn’t do much of either. I panicked when faced with my future and thought I knew what was best for myself, but lack of counsel proved otherwise, and, well, there you go.

And for the sake of continued honesty, I didn’t do a whole lot of living wide during that time either. Sure there were glimmers here and there, but mostly I defaulted. I cocooned in and braced myself for the hard knocks as much as I could, much like a boxer backed into a corner, just trying to survive the round.

But, here’s what’s important; I learned something.

I realized I am far stronger than I ever thought possible. More often than not, I was the only support system propping me up and that made me push forward. I also realized, being a strong individual isn’t nearly as strong as the supportive bond of connection and friendship. A person is never truly an island, and those that believe so are fooling themselves. And, I came to the conclusion that truly knowing what you want, in life, in your career, in love, in general, should never be denied. Why? Because you will always seek it. Conscious, unconscious, you will always seek it, and be dissatisfied and completely and utterly restless until you finally chase after it.

So here I am, crossing over the threshold of another new year and wondering what to do. One thing’s for sure, my priority list is much different than it ever has been, and that is going to make for an interesting 12-month adventure.

Happy 2015, everyone! After a few lost years, I have resolved to get back to living wide. How about you?

For the First Time

Matt Wertz crossed my path a few years ago. I knew that a friend was attending his concert, and always eager to learn more about new music, I looked him up. I liked his style. He was good, I had to admit, but it wasn’t until his most recent album “Weights & Wings” that I truly appreciated his songwriting.

His song, “For the First Time” is very special to me.

I first hear this song when I was contemplating starting a blog. I’d been thinking about the vision I had regarding my life for a long time, and then the turning point happened.

His lyric, “For the first time, I finally realized, I’m what’s in the way,” really struck me. I came to the hard conclusion that I was what was in my own way. In terms of being happy, of moving on, of living wide, I was what was in my way.

I think in a lot of ways, we all get in our own way. We let obstacles seem too big. We let dreams seem to unattainable. We believe there are limits. But really, aren’t those limits all in our own heads? Aren’t we really what is in the way?

So, riddle me this, how can you get out of your own way in terms of living wide?

The Long Way Around

I grew up in a small southern town. Most of my friends still live close to where we grew up, and though I applaud their decisions, sticking close to home was never for me.

Because of my dad’s job, I lived the first decade of my life as a bit of a gypsy. We moved cities five times before I was six, if that gives you any indication. But we finally landed in a small Georgia town for most of my formative years. It taught me a lot. A lot about what I wanted and what I didn’t from my life

In many ways, the Dixie Chicks really speak to me because of my life experiences. I got a great, tight-knit foundation with growing up in the South, but I also couldn’t, and shouldn’t deny my wanderlust. “Taking the Long Way,” really speaks to my living wide journey. It shows deep, solid roots, but an appreciation for wanting a little more. To explore the horizon without apology.

Guess that’s my lot in life.

The Rising

Tonight’s second post is one of my favorite songs from The Boss, Bruce Springsteen. I remember him saying he wrote “The Rising” as an anthem to latch onto after the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center. He wanted it to be an inspiration, a juxtaposition between what life was like before, during, and what it should feel like after such a horrible event.

“The Rising” is classic Springsteen. It’s simple instrumentation, it’s hard-driving rock rhythm and it’s inspirational lyrics. A commentary on pain and how there is always a way to rise up from it. To be better for it. And to love harder because of it.

I’ve often said, living wide is in the lessons you’re given and what you make of them. I often take to heart Springsteen’s reminder to see the opportunity through the hardship. Quite simply, it makes you better.

Gotta Be More

He is one of my favorite artists of all time, yet not many people know who is, which is a shame. If you dig modern blues, or funk-infused southern rock, and you don’t know Marc Broussard, where have you been?

To show how much I love Mr. Broussard, I have been to nine of his shows since 2004. Every time he plays anywhere remotely close to me, I simply have to go see him. “Gotta Be More” is from his first EP “Momentary Setback.” Most people know him for “Home,” which is also a great song, but “Gotta Be More” speaks more to the living wide philosophy.

I first discovered Marc when I was walking around a book/music store randomly in 2004. I was in a job that took up most of my life—I’m not kidding, I was working 26 weekends a year—I was worn out, tired and needed a distraction. So on one of my rare, free Saturday nights, I took myself to a movie and walked around this book/music store after. Marc’s first full-length album “Carencro” was playing over the sound system, and I just had to know who he was.

I bought the album that night, and any and all music he has produced has been on constant rotation in my house and car ever since.

I hope y’all are enjoying the Living Wide Soundtrack for Successful Failure thus far. Remember, if you have a song suggestion, I’m open. Make sure to leave the name and why you love it in the comments section below or on Facebook at any time.