Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Choral and Voice Departments

In choirs my whole life (high school before this point) there was always something between singers where some people were "in" and others were "out". I have been trying to wrap my head around it. I used to blame myself for doing something off-putting or maybe isolating myself somehow from others for why I just didn't click with the "in" group of singers, or for even simply having a hard time getting to know other singers on a personal level at all. Maybe there is some kind of blind, immature rivalry there, but as you get older, I realized that there is a mental block of an impression that people get of others who appear more talented than them. The insecure feel jealous. Even I have.
But today I was struck with something someone said to me, comparing two choirs (as if that was beneficial or necessary for anyone). Members of Concert choir *are* talented, many even farther ahead in their vocal growth than those in ATC. But being someone who knows some of them at least more than a complete outsider, I know that they work their asses off to be that way and they deserve the recognition of being in a prestigious choir. Everyone is at their own place vocally and that shouldn't be thought of in terms of "who is better right now", but in terms of "where can we get to" and "where have we been". Concert Choir should be a motivation and an inspiration to those of us who aren't there yet with our voice. There's no sense to compare apples to oranges. Everyone sucked at something at some point in their life.
As someone who has dipped my foot in the waters of a musical education and vocal training, I realized that I have a hard time not being in the most advanced choir, because I know I am capable of it, but I spread myself too thin and as a result, end up not pushing myself as far as I really could and want to musically. But today, I also realized that I am going to be a scientist, and while many of these amazing people may go on to perform in fantastic operas, I get to go out into the middle of nowhere and do field work. These are both beautiful things and everyone has their own journey. It's uplifting to give yourself a break and stop comparing yourself to those around you. I may have a harder time getting to know the other singers because I am simply not at the music building as much as students who are majoring in music. But, this is okay. If friendships are meant to happen, they will happen. Worrying about your self-worth or the process behind making friendships only delays the process of them actually happening.  I love music and I admire these students so much. I always want to get to know them better, and wonder what it would be like to be in their shoes, but we are all students and busy as heck. If someone doesn't always say hi to you, that doesn't mean anything about you. 90% of the time, people are in their own heads, and focused on their own tasks.
I wrote this for myself but I hope other people can gain some appreciation from it as well. It was a really important topic for me because I have always felt very split between the two departments and felt like I had to cling on to the music department.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

I haven't attended church since Fall 2017

I have been procrastinating on writing this post. Because the words seem so important and I don't know which ones to use.

It's not all about sex

If you have read any of my other posts, you know that I have been struggling with religious interpretations of sexuality and where my sexuality falls within my relationship to God. Well, that's not the only nor the main reason.

I guess I have kinda been a closet-agnostic for the last few months. This process started about a year ago, when I met a person who challenged me to view the world differently. I want to be sure to say, he didn't change me, nor did I change for him. I have consistently been on a journey to find my inner-voice and what feels right for me and what I believe in. He helped me to do that because he challenged my ways of thinking. "What I often see no religious person be willing to consider is the idea that maybe there isn't a God." was one of his lines. "What if there isn't a God." Well, what if? 
At first, contemplating this is very hard because religion has posed as a shelter for me and for many people, I think. Religion gives you answers and comfort to life's hardest questions. "What happens after you die". But one thing that I think is a self-evident truth which religion always tried to define, but exists regardless of this construct/definition is this:
There is a universal goodness in creation. 
Creation is a very religious word, ironically. It's a very confusing process to navigate the world of religiousness and make your way to a world that isn't. 
But what I mean is, there is an inherent, evoluntionarily-derived goodness in all of nature. In people, animals, plants, etc. Maybe this is debatable! But with the peace that being out in nature gives me, or the peace of seeing a wild animal do its thing, this is what I believe.

It has become empowering to find myself in a place where I am okay with death and life whether there is a God or not, an afterlife or not. And the reason is because it is all such a gift. Good and bad, life is a beautiful experience that I value and treasure and want to make the most of. Even more-so, I am happy for all the other living things on Earth, that we get to share this experience together.

The philosophy that it is more valuable to go about life with the notion that "I just don't really know, and that's okay."

I read a Mark Manson book, "The subtle art of not giving a fuck". It's a revoluntionary, life-changing, good read. I highly recommend it to everyone. His book touches on many valuable life-lessons, but one of his best take-aways was this. This is something I want to hold with me forever. Humbling yourself is beneficial in all areas of life (and among many different religions).

Love shouldn't be Exclusive, nor Forgiveness and Don't get me started on Shame

To begin, the first reason I stopped going to church was that it wasn't making me any better. It wasn't benefiting me. I am already a perfectionist, and it was telling me that I am always sinning, or always doing something wrong, and if I don't "Repent", God might not love me anymore or SOMETHING. It depends on who you ask. (which also feels discrediting). So, I was coming home and feeling confused, and lost and miserable. Because, I don't fit in with religious communities, because I don't understand a lot of the reasons behind teachings, or some of the teachings themselves, and because Priests never gave me the answers I needed or wanted when I asked them questions about certain things. I used to try so hard to "please God" or do everything the "right way". It made no sense for me for people or the church to condemn things that were actually normal and healthy and expect everyone to confess them in confession or something. Example: masturbation. Not to mention the ridiculous amount of people who commit these sexual sins and don't care, don't try to change, feel the need to change or even don't confess them as sins during confession. It's hypocritical and I couldn't go that way. It was too much drama. 
I was always feeling big highs and big lows. It wasn't grounding and I didn't feel good about myself. Not to mention, what felt right to me in my heart wasn't okay in the church teachings, "apparently".

I keep stopping mid-post to do other things or even just look out the window

I hate talking about this. It doesn't feel fun for me. I have yet to come to terms with leaving a religion, something that has been so important and central to my life growing up. Not to mention, such a beautiful religion full of many beautiful traditions and stuff. This weekend is our Easter. Eastern Orthodox Easter or Pascha. I probably won't go to church. I haven't been to church in a long time because I don't really fit in at any of the churches here and I don't have time to drive back down to Bothell to go to church with my family. It makes me sad in many ways, but I also feel stronger and empowered. I feel like I have learned a lot about love and people and how you can be beautiful and whole even if you aren't the most religious or don't believe in God at all. 

I think a lot of this stems from my need to go off and do my own thing and find myself in my own way on my own time; to grow up


I want love to be all-encompassing, all-inclusive and for all humans, animals, plants, fungi, archaea and bacteria.  Not just for the perfect religious people to magically make it to heaven

I know this post feels super unprofessional. Maybe I will talk more on it later. The truth is, I don't like publicly writing. It's hard. I don't think to do it, and when I know I should, I have to force myself. 



Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Last Night's Dreams

Last night, I had a dream that someone in my family bought be birds. At first I thought there was just one bird. And it was a colorful bird and it was flying around the house and singing. I befriended this bird and it followed me around and spent time with me. It became a close friend almost like a spirit animal and understood me in a way that most other people couldn't. Then the day came to an end and I needed to bring him back to his cage.. So we went back to his cage and I opened the door and let him in.
With joy I stayed by the cage a while longer; I remember it was a tall thin cylindrical/hexagonal/something cage and there were strange things in it. Like a portal or something, it felt weird and gave off a weird energy. At first I looked for my bird that I had just released to his "habitat" and I couldn't see him. I remember craning my neck to look around the cage from different sides as if I needed to look around obstacles to find the bird. At first I couldn't find him, but then I did.
All of a sudden another bird flew from one side to another (as if it was a large enough cage--it wasn't but somehow it did) past my view in a cage, and as my eyes followed him, another bird came out and was flying around. Colors and colors and feathers. Suddenly, birds popped out of everywhere and there were so many of them. All colorful. The cage was crowded. There was no way they could all fit there. Where did they all come from? They were different sizes and different shapes, and I remember then feeling deeply sad.
There was no room for them to fly or live. This was no life. But they were "pet" birds, and couldn't be released into the wild where I was, so I thought. I must find homes for each of these birds. They deserve a real life and not one trapped in an over-crowded cage. My mind was going through lists of friends or people who I could gift a bird, but none of it seemed to fit. Nothing was okay. Suddenly I was overwhelmed by the emotions of helping all these birds to live a satisfying and fulfilling, good, free life. I felt deeply sad and it was unjust.

Before that, same night, I had a dream that I was rock climbing at the gym. But this time, I was going with a new friend who had never gone before. I was upset because my normal climbing buddy (Tony) was not able to be there for whatever reason. He had more important things to do like ski or climb mountains or something with someone else who was not me. I remember demonstrating a route to a friend. We were going to go top-roping, but she wasn't belay certified like I was, so she couldn't belay me. I climbed up onto the wall just to test out the route she was going to do and show her what she could try or how it might work. All of a sudden, I found myself at the top of the wall and I was stuck. They holds I had climbed onto were small and difficult to maneuver. I looked behind me, expecting a belay down and that's when I realized that I wasn't attached to a rope or harness because my climbing partner Tony wasn't there for me anymore. So, carefully, with my life on the line, I focused my willpower and found myself steadying on some challenging holds in order to safely down-climb to the bottom. I remember losing balance momentarily in one of my limbs and having to swing with all my strength on some of the others instead. I was high up enough to break my back and legs and have serious problems. But I steadied myself and climbed down successfully. I remember feeling betrayed, and sad. That this wouldn't have happened if my friend was there, and I felt impatient with the whole situation with trying to teach a friend something that to me you just learn automatically by trying and doing it. Impatient.

A third dream, one that I recall was near the bird one, involved me running into the mother of one of my ex boyfriends. This was the last dream I had last night. I went upstairs to a floral shop. One of the birds was up there flying. Perhaps the original first bird that was my friend. He was like a fairy; sparkling and colorful as he flied.
Anyway, I remember seeing her, and saying. Hello. I was happy to see her. Despite how fucked up she made her life and how toxic her family was, she was someone I once knew and I didn't really care about all that shit. I care about people deep inside themselves. So, I said, "I thought I should come say hi." And I don't remember anything else much. Just the bird, and some floral decorations and glass pots with perfumey stuff in them. It was like her shop or something and she was tidying up. Despite my kindness, I felt the same unease that I always felt around her in real life. Like she was lying to herself and everyone and how could you trust someone like that. It was all about how things appeared on the outside and not how they actually were on the inside to her. Then, I thought about my ex. I have a sinking feeling in my stomach as I recall this. I wonder how he is doing now in life. What he is doing. I imagined him having tattoos now for some reason. Who knows where he is. But it's probably much less exciting. I left him as a boy who didn't have his license, lived at home and walked to the local community college. Last I heard he was fucking an older woman. I remember thinking, he always loved fucking more than he loved the people themselves. Remembering him makes me sad. Not because I miss him or anything about my past, heck no, but because there was so much hurt, and trash and garbage that I always felt within him and his family. Sure they did it to themselves, and they never chose to get out of it. but it felt disgusting to even be around. It felt sad and horrible. I don't know why or how, but I have always been so sensitive to bad things. Negative energy perhaps. I hope things are better than they seem and that they are getting better for them. They cut me completely out of my life when I broke up with him, but that was for my benefit and their loss.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Who am I? The Return..

Hey there. It's been a while. Life has done a lot of shifting around, and I think I am finally back on my two feet again emotionally (for the most part). This year, and my time at college really, has been an enormous amount of growth and struggle to let myself really be brave and grow and stretch and trust myself. Over the last few days, I have begun to realize that my crazy mixed up childhood wasn't my fault (many of us have those crazy childhood stories). I am realizing for the first time, that I have been holding on to a lot of burden and baggage from my family that isn't mine to bear, and it has been weighing me down, impossibly, into the ground and creating underlying and debilitating anxiety and stress for me. I have a lot of fears in addition to all this that I have to overcome if I am going to make the most out of my time here on Earth, in life, and grow, become, and experience life the way that will be the most fulfilling, nourishing, healing and happy for me.

Among my many burdens, fear of strangers, perfectionism, and a lack of faith in myself or that things in life will work out in the end, I have managed for the first time to feel that I have started to find my footing. In some ways, I got sick of being afraid of things, and when I got a taste of freedom, loving myself and experiencing life as a big web of possibilities and experiences and memories to be had, I decided that focusing on that possibility made me feel so much stronger, more powerful and actually happy. I changed my major to Environmental Science, and right now I am beginning a year of catching up on Prerequisites for that major so that by next Fall, I should be able to join the major. There's a lot of stuff going on in life, but I have learned that focusing on the present is the only way to really accomplish anything. I would much rather relax and let life do its thing than try to force things, control things, or even worse, worry about all the things that could go wrong if  this or that or the other thing. It's a nightmare and it leads me down paths of despair and sadness. Not fun, and not worth it if I can manage to not do it. So much burden has been lifted from me with this mindset.

One of the main, and challenging things I have had to deal with and figure out is where I stand with my religion.. In many ways, I got sick of how in religion, things have to fit certain categories or be a certain way in order to "work" or "find salvation". I believe very strongly in the spirit and mystery of God and Christ, but the construct of religion itself, I think is very broken, as people are broken and there are aspects of the church that I find myself disagreeing with; mainly the shaming of sexuality outside of the confines of marriage. It has been so important for me to understand everything that I believe in the faith and agree with it. Cognitive dissonance made me go crazy when I fell in love with a young man who wasn't religious, probably never will be, and has no reason to be. I listen to his story with so much love and understanding, and I let it make me think about my beliefs and how they fit together. I decided that I don't like the idea of a God who is selective about who he sends his grace to. I love this guy. I know he is a beautiful person and I see God in him in many ways even though he doesn't believe in God. I want to believe in a God who would be willing to save him (send him to Heaven) for the good things he has done and does even if he lives his life in a completely non-religous way. His non-religious way, I believe is one of the most loving ways I have ever seen someone chose to believe and act. He doesn't need anything in order to do good for others. He doesn't need the idea that a God will reward him for it. He would rather just do good to do good. He has had so many encounters with religious people which have been negative and not God-like or loving so it is reasonable and understanding why he chooses to not follow a main religion.

Another reason why I have found myself disagreeing with the church is on sexuality. I had a lot of conflict when I was in a relationship with this person because I wanted to do the "right" thing so badly for my religion and in my church, for God, but my heart was telling me that a sexual relationship with this person was completely out of love and respect in a way that I had never experienced. It gave me hope for the world and my future. It also made me realize that I didn't agree with the rigid ideas of sexuality that the church teaches because it was somehow implying that God (or love) could only be between people in their sexual relationships in the confines of marriage.

Marriage is a flawed idea; has become a flawed thing; because people idolize marriage when the relationship is the part that matters. The stages between dating and marriage and things like that have too big a line in religion that I think hinders the process and makes it unhealthy. I do believe in sexual compatibility. That's not to say that sexuality can not be learned together as a couple. I think that is something that will always be a learning process for any couple. However, being comfortable with your own sexuality, I think is something that is important for anyone in order to learn how to truly love yourself and understand how high your standards should be and how deserving of respect you are.
Shame or guilt are not things that I believe should be in the realm of sexuality unless people are harming each other with it by cheating, manipulating, harassing or pressuring.  This is an important distinction for what I believe constitutes a loving relationship and a non-loving one. It is also really important to not put sexuality on a pedestal because it is important to be able to focus on other, more important things in life, and other, more important things in your relationship. Sex should never be used to build connection where there isn't one because I believe that is something that can be harmful to your soul, but consensual, healthy sexual relationships, I think are maybe even important in learning what love is and how to love in life, especially when it involves masturbation.

Religious differences, aside, I love this person very much. He has been a shining light in my life and has taught me so so much about love and how to grow up, love myself, be positive and shed the weight of the past and the burdens of others.

He and I have been just friends for the last few months. The longer the months go by, the more I feel like I am growing up and realizing just how much I care about and appreciate this young man for everything he is. We do have our differences, and sometimes it feels like there's no way we could be truly right for each other if we ever got back together again because those differences feel so vast, and yet, we keep each other around, we take care of each other. We are companions in the truest sense that I have ever felt before. We are friends. And friendship is the strongest, truest kind of love.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Dear Love

Calm always seems to find you when you let yourself time for contemplative prayer. I know you feel like an outsider when it comes to church communities. You are a special snowflake, but the truth is, everyone is, especially those who are true to themselves, and you don't have to be any different than your true self to fit into a church community or find yourself truly an Orthodox Christian.

You are taking on some really huge life hurdles and tasks right now, but you are doing them out of love. You are brave and strong. I believe in you. Remember to not doubt your abilities and your worthiness to find true love. You have found a beautiful gift of a treasure in your life right now. Do what you can to make it blossom but if it is time for it's petals to fall, do not despair. Turn to God because he has a plan for you.

I know you live in a world full of people who are of different faiths and religions. It can be confusing and hard to find your way, but don't turn to others to find yourself and what you believe. Look inward, instead. Your new goals are so huge, they feel impossible, but you have love on your side. You may learn something huge and new about yourself, and you may grow so immensely with your partner.

Take the time to breathe. Take in each moment. Remember that you are enough, that your breath is enough, and you have enough. God has given you enough and he will continue to give you enough as long as you put your trust and hope in Him.

When you are feeling skeptical, desperate, impatient or sad, turn to the Lord and ask for his help. He wants us to turn to Him because he wants to give us the peace we seek. He will work things out and help to soften your heart. The way to peace is to let go of control and fear and let it find its way to you.

When you feel that hope for the future is feeble and impossible, pray and call upon St. Xenia to pray for you. She will ask God to intercede for you and your future that you will have your needs of a partner provided to you.

Be patient, love, because God has true love and peace planned for you. When your faith dwindles, let yourself sit and meditate on the Holy Spirit and the reason you always continue to believe, even when you aren't sure of life or yourself. Let that reason ground you and grow.

Christ is Risen!