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?

Flesh and Bone

I’m a bit late with today’s post because I was actually at a concert. Appropriate, right? So, here we are, day 3-ish of Living Wide’s Soundtrack for Successful Failure. How’s everyone feeling so far? I have to admit I am loving the challenge I’ve laid out for myself. Mostly because it has encouraged me to scour the thousands of songs that I personally own and the millions that I simply love to form the perfect playlist of encouragement.

As I said to friends, recently, music has really been speaking into my life of late. Not that it doesn’t always have a place, what I mean to say is I’ve been stumbling across some really great songs/albums/artists that are truly putting my life to beat and my heart to a melody.

One such band is The Killers, whose song “Flesh and Bone” kind of speaks for itself.

When I first heard The Killers many years ago, I thought they were good, but that was about it. Truthfully, I hadn’t given them much thought until I stumbled across them again a few weeks ago while building a playlist for my novel. Yes, I’m that nerdy. Anyway, I listened to their newest album “Battle Born” based on a recommendation, and I fell in love. Not just with a specific song—you’ll be introduced to three throughout the month—but with the whole album. It’s filled with songs of being challenged, tested, defeated and triumphant.

In the chorus, you’ll hear, “What are you afraid of, and what are you made of, flesh and bone.” A great reminder that we are all vulnerable AND strong, which can fortify us as much as it terrifies us. Gotta love the dichotomy.

Still looking for suggestions. Anyone have a Soundtrack suggestion? Make sure to leave a comment.

Sounds Good

Apologies, Living Wide faithful.  I know I’ve been absent these past few weeks, which reminds me, I need to update my bio because the reasons for my truancy are both very good.  First, I’m writing again!!  YAY!!  I have been trucking along on the manuscript for my second book, tentatively titled “Perfect.”

Wait, second book?  Where’s your first book?  I’m glad you asked about that.  See, my first book was a project I started in 2002, one year post-college.  It was a tale I returned to several times over the course of the years, and I was pretty happy with it until 2008 when I decided to rewrite all the parts that I had finished from a completely different point of view.  Why?  I don’t remember really, but it definitely set me back and led to four more years of starting and stopping.  I also can’t tell you why I couldn’t just get it together and finish the first draft, but after a while, I had to admit to myself that things weren’t working.  It had been nearly 10 years and still no book.  Late last year, I made the conscious decision to admit that I’d failed.  That my first book wasn’t the story I needed to write in this moment.

Accompanying that decision was a batch of my soul searching over the past couple of months, during which I realized something pretty important… I want to follow my dreams.  I know that’s something everyone says, but few actually do.  Well, I think you’ve realized by now, if I am anything, I am the follow-through-girl.  I’m also a little bit crazy and daring (hello, quitting my job).  So I decided to do the ultimate wakadoo thing and have faith in myself.  Faith that whether I would be published or not, whether people liked the story I had to tell or not, I was going to write a book.

I picked up one of the ideas I had filed away and started to play with it around October of last year.  And bam, I was writing again.  I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote, and then I stopped for grad school finals, and then I wrote again.  Oh, did I mention that’s the other reason?  Grad school?  Like I said I’m a little nutty… new job, grad school and writing my first/second novel all at the same time.  But I digress….  I finally found my story, and I promised myself, even if it kills me, I will finish it and someone, I don’t know who or how many, will get to read it.

Now that you know the why, let’s get to the fun part.  I’ve decided to challenge myself even more.  Again, what is she thinking?!?  I know, but roll with it would you?  So every day in the month of April I am going to post an inspirational song that is Living Wide-themed, and hopefully will encourage you all to follow your dreams too.  I’m calling it the Soundtrack for Successful Failure.  I will also accept submissions for songs that make you want to stop living small, break out of your box, and chase the horizon.  I can’t wait take this journey with you all!  Who’s bringing the snacks?

Love,
Me

Living Wide Fail

Regret snaked through me the minute I walked out the side stage door. I had blown it. Why didn’t I stay an extra 10 minutes to meet the man who had been in constant rotation on my iPod since 2004?

As I’ve shared before, I am a huge music fanatic. And of all the hundreds of artists I have on my electronic jukebox, Marc Broussard is my absolute favorite. I love him so much that I’ve seen him live nine times. Yet, there I was, at my ninth show, he was feet away signing autographs and taking pictures, and I didn’t wait for a turn. I could have. I could have shaken his hand and told him how much his music meant to me. I could have had an awesome photo to show my grandkids one day… see, I knew him when. I coulda’, shoulda’, woulda’, but I didn’t.

I blew it. I gave over to my thoughts of all the pressures in my life. That I had to be at work the next morning. That I’d been going since 5 a.m. That I felt like I was getting sick. I let all the things that crowd out my ability to live wide guide my decision, and I missed out.

In short, I failed. And I’ve been royally kicking myself for it ever since.

Inevitably, I was bound to fail at this living wide stuff. In Reboot, I detailed how living wide pretty much pushes against 30 plus years of conditioning. And, let’s be honest, not all of the present lessons or those peppering the remaining months of my journey were/are meant to be easy. I recognized that I made a mistake, and when that happens, there are always two questions I ask myself: what did I learn from this, and how can I avoid repeating the same mistake in future?

In this case, I learned not to let once in a lifetime opportunities be overshadowed or clouded by a to-do list. And, that the sacrifice of 10 minutes to capture a standout moment or memory is far too important. In essence, my living wide fail is a living wide learn. It just sucks that I don’t have the picture to show for it.

Holding Loose, Ain’t Letting Go

My first real journalism job was as an intern for a decently sized newspaper in northern Georgia. The staff was small, but they all shared the same passion, reporting the news of their community. One day, as I was transcribing some interviews, the lead photojournalist passed my desk. I had my Discman out and a stack of CDs sitting next to it (yes, I realize I’m dating myself here). At the top was a movie soundtrack, I don’t remember which one. As he breezed behind me, this somewhat grizzled shutterbug said, “You know, real life doesn’t come with a soundtrack.”

I was too green at the time to come up with a withering response like, “Oh yeah, well you dress funny.” I mean, how dare he question a 19-year-old’s taste in music when he wore the same black t-shirt to work… every day.  [Insert sarcasm here.] Instead, I simply smiled politely—I am southern after all—and thought, “Well my life does.”

And to this day, my life still does. I could name half a dozen songs right now that have been mile markers on my journey thus far, that every time I hear them, I can’t help but think of who I was in that moment. That’s what music is to me.

Recently, I was on a very long car trip. And as fortune, or good planning, would have it, I had an iPod full of music to keep me company. As I was driving along, a song I’ve heard dozens of times before came on – Matt Wertz’s “5:19.” When it cued, I couldn’t help but sing along – yes, I’m one of those people. It was then that a particular lyric struck me:

I’m holding loose, ain’t letting go.

That lyric bounced around in my brain for several days. What did it mean to hold loose, but not let go? Dreams occurred to me. When you walk the living wide life, dreams are very important. You have to have something to strive for, something to run toward. But God also occurred to me. When you’ve chosen to walk with God, you realize that free will isn’t a license to do absolutely anything you wish, it’s a choice. Every choice you make is between listening to your heart and letting God be your North Star, or being a slave to your desires. He holds loose, but never lets go.

In essence, He’s got you; you just have to take a page from His book. Hold your life loose, but don’t let go of what’s on your heart. Living wide is a very personal experience. God knows what you need and what you desire. He’s giving slack to that experience without ever letting go of the path He’s meant for you. To live wide, you have to take a page from His book… hold your dreams/goals loose but never let them go.

 

By the way, the half a dozen songs:

  • “Back to Life,” Soul II Soul, always reminds me of my two childhood best friends Kristi and Lisa
  • “End of the Road,” Boys II Men, was the jam when I went to the 8th grade dance with my first boyfriend
  • “(I’m Gonna Be) 500 Miles,” The Proclaimers, a reminder of my freshman year of high school, when flannel and Chuck Taylors were cool
  • “1979,” Smashing Pumpkins, was playing as I drove to my high school graduation, and is subsequently the year I was born
  • “I Want You Back,” N’Sync, was on constant repeat during Spring Break 1998
  • “Shake It Out,” Florence + The Machine, was also on repeat this past summer when I had to make a hard choice.