10 x 10

I just finished a spring 10x10 challenge on Instagram. It originated with Lee of Style Bee in was in collaboration with Caroline from Unfancy.

Basically you pick ten items of clothing from your wardrobe and wear/style/create outfits from them for ten days.

So without further ado, here’s 10 things I learned from wearing 10 items for 10 days.

  1. I generally like my clothing. I’m pretty proud of this fact. It’s honestly taken a lot of work and patience to get to this place. Of course there’s always items I would love to add to my collection, but overall, I did have a feeling of contentedness.

  2. My shoe game needs work. I don’t really pay a lot of attention to shoes, but seeing how worn out and basic my shoes are made me want to spice it up a little bit.

  3. Scarves and hair can be a great accessories. This is especially useful because I’m not great at accessorizing.

  4. It’s nice to wear “real” clothing and not just loungewear or yoga pants all day. I spend most of my time at home so it’s easy to fall into this trap. Of course there’s nothing wrong with yoga pants, but dressing up a little for yourself is a good confidence boost.

  5. Boring is subjective. The first couple of days I was afraid to post my photos in fear that people would see how boring I dress. But guess what? Nobody cares how boring or not boring you dress, and to some people those outfits weren’t boring at all. Just dress how you want to dress.

  6. My clothing is more versatile then I gave it credit for. I had this jumpsuit that I’d worn for awhile but I was selling it short. I thought it as a one trick pony. But through some reimagining I came up with a few different looks from a pretty basic palette.

  7. It’s ok to think about what I wear. Again I had insecurities of appearing vain or indulgent by talking about what I was wearing each day, but what we wear is important. It effects how we feel, it effects the people who made our clothing, it effects our environment. All of those are good reasons to care.

  8. How I see myself is not necessarily how others see me. This kind of goes along with the whole “boring” narrative I mentioned earlier. Clothes that I might be tired of can be something new to somebody else. I might think a certain shape is unflattering on my body, but others might not agree...or even care.

  9. I’m a terrible poser. Every time Joe would take my outfit photo there were so many awkward moments... Especially with my hands... what do you do with your hands?

  10. There’s a community of likeminded woman out there who are so kind and positive. Honestly, this was the best part of the challenge. It was so nice to see complete strangers complimenting and encouraging one another. It restored my faith in humanity.

So, yes, I would definitely do it again, and thank you to everybody who was so sweet during these 10 days.

Posted on April 20, 2017 .

An Ode to Pants

Most of my life is spent in pants.

I have a bit of an obsession with them. I’m always on the lookout for the perfect pair. When given a choice between a dress or pants most of the time I choose pants. Pants pants pants.


The first 10-12 years of my life I spent exclusively wearing skirts and dresses. I was an active child with a healthy imagination and a love of animals so this meant climbing trees, riding horses, attempting cartwheels, wrestling, playing with my dogs, running from imaginary monsters… all in a skirt.

While you can do most of these things perfectly fine in a skirt, there are some things you shouldn’t do in one (in my humble opinion).

So the day I was free to choose pants as my attire was liberating. Even now putting on a pair of pants feels akin to shouting freedom and starting a revolt. I feel set free from constraint and equal to whatever task I have at hand. Here’s a list of things you can do in pants:

anything. everything. all the things.

So here’s to pants/trousers/slacks/jeans/leggings whatever you call them, and whatever you wear to get the job of life done.

Thank you pants for being the great equalizer.
We all put them on the same way after all.

Posted on March 28, 2017 .

Love

The summer before my senior year my Grandma was diagnosed with a form of stomach cancer. She was given 3 months to live. 

It’s hard to fully describe her. She radiated love and light. She had a laugh that shook her whole body. She gave the fiercest hugs, and always had a table overflowing with food for her guests. In a word, she was vibrant. 

She and my Pappy had just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. 

When Grandma got sick the world seemed to stop turning. I hated seeing her sick. But even when she felt her worse, she always made sure Pappy fixed us a snack when we came to visit. She was taking care of us. He was taking care of her.  

One day towards the end, I was sitting in their kitchen eating pretzels and cheese. She was in a hospital bed in the living room. Pappy was by her side. He sat there, gently holding her hand. He lightly touched her face. I can still see her eyes gazing into his. Pain, fear, love and joy mingled together.  

 For a minute I didn’t see my Grandma and Pappy. I saw two people who had built a life together for 50 years.  The power of their love in that moment has stayed with me through the years.  It was beyond me but enveloped me at the same time. And even though she is no longer with us, their love is a still a force in my life today.  

Happy Valentine’s Day. 

Posted on February 14, 2017 .

amateur

Joe recently started learning the cello. He says he likes the feeling of being really bad at something, of being a beginner.

I hate that feeling. I hate the word amateur. I despise the word potential. 

“You have so much potential”.

 I think people mean it as a compliment but I read it as, “you have so much further to go.” 

I know I have things to improve upon, I just would rather not let you know that I’m a beginner.

My dream is to come out of the gate already winning. This dream hasn’t made it into my reality.

I’m a slow starter, second guessing my every move. If there’s something new I want to try I’ll spend months dissecting the possibilities. I declare my failure before I’ve even begun. I project my current inability onto my future ability.

Last year I took a class to help with learning some software I needed to know for recording music. I was terrified that I would be alone in a room full of guys who were born with the knowledge I was chasing. 

Obviously this scenario wasn’t true. I wasn’t the only girl, and it turns out men don’t possess special ability due to their gender. It was freeing to put my muscles to the test and grow. I realized I was more capable than I’d previously imagined. 

So many times I’ve wanted to ask questions but haven’t because I didn’t want to embarrass myself. So instead of chasing the truth, I lived in my ignorance. 

 For the next season in my life I want to get comfortable with being bad at stuff. I want to embrace the fact that I don’t have the answers, and welcome the puzzle pieces that I find so overwhelming. Maybe one day I won’t be overwhelmed. Maybe one day I won’t raise my hand in question, but with an answer. Until then, I’m an amateur.

Posted on January 16, 2017 .

The Sun Will Rise

I stayed up late last night. Waiting for a miracle that never came. I don’t usually share anything of a political nature online but hey, this election broke all the rules so I’m entitled to break a few myself right?

I woke up today in despair. I was ashamed, angry, and in disbelief.

I still cannot quite wrap my mind around the fact that many people whom I love dearly voted for a man who, from my perspective is dangerous and evil. 

I am angry at evangelical conservative christians who once again told us that they would rather align with the powerful, than the needy. These are not the teachings of the Jesus I follow. 

I’m afraid for the many diverse minority faces we have in this country, one of whom is my husband. 

As a woman I am beyond disgusted knowing that sexism is very much still alive in our culture evidenced by the millions of white men that didn’t care that they were voting for a sexual predator.

I know many of you will vehemently disagree with me, and I understand. This is a complex situation with many facets to it. But I do believe we need to be allowed to voice our grief. As much as Trump supporters have a right to be excited right now, I also have a right to mourn. So today I grieve. But we will wake up tomorrow and try again. I have seen much love today, and I know there is love still to be found. 

I felt moved to share this song with the many people who are hurting and scared today. I wrote it years ago, but I think it might be more applicable today than it was before.

Posted on November 9, 2016 .

The Train

I have a new relationship in my life. It’s with something that’s loud, makes appearances at all hours of the day, and has no regard for my life and wishes. It’s not a great relationship. Mostly because it’s with a train...or trains.

This summer we moved to a lovely neighborhood that is central to so many of our favorite spots in Nashville. Our house is tiny, but cute and we have a huge backyard that Mowgli has enjoyed greatly.

The problem? The train rolls right by our house 5-6 (a million) times a day.
Not a big deal. Unless you’re trying to record music and need absolute silence.

The combination of the train + my wobbly emotional state + recording has not = happiness.

I end days in tears and frustration because I can’t get anything done, or as much done as I would like.

So, I decided I was going to stop making music.
OR, under Joe’s suggestion, I could find a quieter space to record.

I decided on the latter. This week I found an amazing spot that is affordable and more importantly soundproof. I’m so excited to be able to create music in peace and quiet.

I write all this because I’ve always assumed that when things are hard, or when they don’t come easily for me, that I should quit. If the train interrupts a take it means I shouldn’t be a musician right?

I know this is lunacy, but it is how I’ve functioned for most of my life. Hence my “wobbly” emotional state.

But thank God, between a conversation with Vera (one of my amazing sister’s) last week and devouring “The War of Art” I’ve realized the fallacy in my logic.

Guess what? Life is hard. Guess what? The train WILL roll by. I can’t control that. But loud trains don’t make me less of a musician anymore than a fight with your spouse makes you less married. It just is.

So I’m leaving this here as a reminder. Resistance can take many forms. It can be a train, or my weird brain, but that’s all it is, resistance. And it can be overcome. 

Posted on October 21, 2016 .

4 Steps to Better Tea

Despite being a barista for a good 5 years, I really prefer tea to coffee. I feel that tea brings an elegance to my life, whereas coffee brings a frantic energy.  In any case, I made a simple tutorial on how to make a great cup of tea for those of you who enjoy the beverage. This of course is not an exhaustive list, just a few things I’ve learned through the years. Bottoms up!

Posted on October 12, 2016 .

Perfect

I’ve always hated the term “perfectionist” because of the stigma attached to it. Nevertheless, perfectionism has played a part in my life for years.

As a child I would spend hours outside picking up sticks from our yard. Not just big sticks, we’re talking tiny tiny sticks. It got so bad at some point that my mom set a time limit for me so I wouldn’t be out for hours a day picking up sticks. Perfectionism + OCD = the perfect marriage.

I always assumed chasing after perfection was a good trait. Shouldn’t we want our lives to be more perfect? Isn’t there a right way to do things? It’s only recently that I’ve seen the harm that this attitude has done in my life.

I am hesitant to share a song, an essay, a thought, unless it is as close to perfect as I can get it. Perfectionism doesn’t drive me to excellence all the time. Sometimes it paralyzes me.

My computer holds a plethora of half written songs, finished songs that I can’t bare to share, and blog posts I’m too insecure to publish. This self editing can be exhausting.

I mentioned this quote off handedly to Joe the other day (from Pride and Prejudice of course)

“We are each of an unsocial, taciturn disposition, unwilling to speak, unless we expect to say something that will amaze the whole room, and be handed down to posterity with all the éclat of a proverb.”

Bingo! That’s it. If I’m going to share a song it better bring the house down. If I’m going to articulate an opinion it better change everybody else’s mind.

But sometimes you have to write terrible songs to get to the good ones. Sometimes you have to make a mistake to learn a lesson. Sometimes you have to hear yourself say something out loud to realize how ridiculous you sound.

I don’t want my life to be a collection of “perfect” things on display that I can never take down and put to use.

So, here’s to all the perfectionists in the world. It’s ok to come out to play. 

Posted on September 27, 2016 .

How To Write a Song

Wake up. Write to do list. Always put “write a song” on your list. Goal setting is important and it’s nice to feel a twinge of guilt at the end of the day if you can’t check off this one in particular.

Decide to put off writing until after you eat breakfast, go for a run, take a shower, pay your credit card bill, read your favorite blog, watch that viral video that everyone keeps pestering you to watch, take the enneagram test, get lost on the enneagram site for hours diagnosing every person in your life, eat lunch, wash dishes, throw in a load of laundry, take your dog for a walk, go to the bathroom. After this you’ll feel primed to start your best work.

Grab your instrument of choice and just sit close to it for an hour or two. Think of it as tummy time. It’s important to feel safe and comfortable together before you create your magnificent art.

Sitting in this state is bound to make you sleepy so it’s ok to take a quick two hour nap, that way you’ll be rested for when your muse hits you. Upon waking up make sure to eat a little snack for fuel, run an errand, tweeze your eyebrows, fold your laundry, journal, call your mom... The art of procrastination is vast and beautiful.

It’s almost dinner time so you have two options. You can either utilize these fifteen minutes to start writing, or instead you can decide to go back to school, start another career, or become a full-time dog walker. Either way you’ll feel great while you eat your dinner and watch four episodes of Stranger Things. Now it’s late and it’s time for bed. You’re exhausted. Avoiding work is indeed work. Get ready for bed, write your to do list for tomorrow and remember to put “write a song” on the list!

Just as you’re about to fall asleep you get a melody idea. Try to brush it off. If it persists you’ll have no choice but to get out of bed and go write a song. It’s probably midnight at this point and you feel good. Maybe tomorrow you’ll wake up and realize the song was a complete waste of time. That’s ok. You wrote a song. And it only took all day. 

Posted on September 15, 2016 .

Podcasts!

I turned the radio on in my car the other day. This was such a rarity that I initially forgot which button to push, which was slightly embarrassing.

All that to say, I pretty much live by Spotify premium and the podcast app. Gone are the days of scanning a station to try to find something halfway decent to listen to. I think this makes my life happier, it also means I don’t have a grasp on any pop music acts anymore. That’s fine by me.

Out of respect for the many podcast I listen to, I thought I’d share my 5 favorites. This will be easy since I basically listen to 5-7 regularly.

In no particular order then:

-This American Life
This was the podcast that basically got me addicted to podcasts. Interesting, moving, funny and who doesn’t have a little crush on Ira Glass?

-Death, Sex, & Money
The title is scary but this podcast deals with issues that a lot of us experience, but don’t talk about. As a bonus, Anna Sales’ voice is so calming, I want her to record a bedtime story audio book.

-Beautiful Stories From Anonymous People
It’s bit of a tedious name for a podcast, but I find it highly entertaining. Chris Gethard, the host, is kind, sarcastic, and has a way of drawing people out of the shell towards sharing intimate details about their life.

-Serial
Of course. I wasn’t the biggest fan of season 2, but season 1 is still one of my all time favorite podcast experiences. And I’ll never be able to think about Mail Chimp the same way again.

-Revisionist History
This is a new listen for me. It basically does what it says on the box, revisiting historical events or issues and shedding new light on them. I initially was skeptical but Malcolm Gladwell has proven me wrong. I’d listen to “The Lady Vanishes” first. It will get your blood boiling.

There are of course others but these are the cream of the crop. Do you listen to any cool podcasts? I’d love to hear suggestions. Have a great day! 

Posted on August 23, 2016 .

Nostalgic

In July my sister and I packed up her car and made the 11 hour drive home to Pennsylvania. We managed to survive via copious amounts of espresso and audio books. (We read this one and this one. Both were great fyi)

I attempted to document this trip as well as I could, but picking up my phone to capture moments doesn’t come as naturally to me as it does to Joe.

I did manage to put together a few moments and with help from Joe, I edited it as a little memento of my time visiting family. I also decided to write a musical piece to accompany it. I call the song I wrote “nostalgic” because that’s exactly how I felt the entire time I was home.

When you’ve moved from your hometown and have lived away for many years, returning can be strange and wonderful. Some things don’t change. Some things change without you realizing. Watching my nephew blow out his 2 year birthday candles was new. The queen anne’s lace that runs wild in the fields behind my house was old. Both were beautiful. Both made me nostalgic.

Here’s my little video from my trip. Hope you are having a wonderful summer.

 

-Vanita

Posted on August 16, 2016 .

Feeling My Age

I have been held hostage for 10 years by the dream of an 18 year old girl. It was a good dream and it led me down some interesting paths.

Following those paths allowed me to meet Joe, move to Nashville, get to make music with some cool people, and get to sing in a few cool places. But for reasons I could never quite understand, it never manifested itself into technicolor reality.

I’ve waited in lines at iconic Nashville spots, hoping to be “discovered.” I’ve played for an audience of two people (one of which was Joe) hoping to get to “meet the right people.”

I have been told platitude after platitude. “All it takes is one song.”
“You just have to keep working.”

“If you want it bad enough it will come true.”

These are all good and encouraging words that never took full root in my heart.

After a while, I told myself I needed to continue pursuing this dream because I didn’t want to disappoint the people who were cheering me on in my life.

In reality, I didn’t want to disappoint myself. Although, it was too late, I already had. No matter how many unique and fun experiences I was able to have, I still felt unfulfilled and listless.

Every time someone I knew had a success, jealousy would creep into my veins. I wasn’t becoming a more whole person in this fantasy. I was crumbling.

About two years ago I started realizing this dream of mine...wasn’t sustainable. But I was trapped. I was held to a code of honor that an 18 year old built.

Anytime I thought of a different course to take, she pulled me back. She was a phantom tyrant, holding me to truths I no longer believed.

So, I started cutting one chord at a time. Imagining my life differently, remembering deep and old yearnings I had set aside to obey my captor. I am embarrassed to say it took two years of painfully breaking free to finally feel my age.

Because this is the truth.
I am not 18 anymore. Thank God.
I am not as naive as I used to be. Thank God.

I am evolving as a person. I have tried and failed to imagine my life without writing music. This is it for me, until another dictator takes it’s place.

The difference is, I’m learning how to govern my ambition to suit my needs and passions, instead of bending myself to it’s will.

I wish I were a faster learner. I wish I could turn on a dime. Instead I have to trudge in the trenches one shovelful of dirt at a time.

Don’t be afraid to change your mind...or to simply change. It’s not fair to force yourself to live by rules that were fashioned when you had less knowledge. There will always be rulers trying to dictate your actions. But sometimes the tyrant you need to revolt against...is yourself. 

Posted on August 11, 2016 .