I Sing, Therefore I Am

I once had a song that burrowed into my soul the moment it came on. You know those melodies that echo through the bones and lyrics that penetrate the heart, as though it was written for you? I have several songs that obtain such power, but this one in particular came on the other day and, in an instant, created an epiphany moment that’s been hard to reverse.

It was a love song, and at the risk of any judgements (admit it or not, we all judge each other by the type of music we listen to) I’ll refrain from disclosing its title. Yet, by the end, all its magic had vanished. Suddenly it was just another song on the radio. But why? I eagerly went to my Spotify playlist to pull it up and play it again. After the first verse it all made sense. I scrolled to other songs I once enjoyed as much and experienced the same feeling, or lack thereof. Eventually, I had to stop playing the music because I didn’t want to ruin everything. So many of the lyrics had similar meaning and it was a message I no longer agreed with.

In the past I’d ache for a man to need me because, in the past, I thought I needed a man. I picked men who shared that ideal, who’d lean on me the same way I yearned to lean on them. I didn’t realize that my taste in music paralleled this notion. Songs about being lost, feeling broken, and the only way these feelings of inadequacy would change is when two people completed each other populated my play list. Happiness, in the lyrics I was singing, was about couples who needed the other to feel right.

It was all wrong.

While I always second-guess writing about the romantic relationships of my life (no ring, no guarantee), my current boyfriend is the antithesis of the lyrics I once sang. Then again, so is the person I am today. He stands on his own, has a full life, and gives no indication that he needs to be fixed. As for me, I’ve turned any past struggle into strength and found unshakable happiness within myself. We are ourselves but we’ve become “extra bonuses” together. I attribute this dynamic directly to my unexpected distaste in the specific song I used to think so fondly about. The epiphany moment came about through the microcosm of a relationship but it opened a door to a much larger realization.

If “I think, therefore I am,” would Descartes agree with “I hear, therefore I am”? Music has the undeniable power to transform our emotions, otherwise music directors in Hollywood would be without a job and I wouldn’t be listening to cinematic background music as I write this column. But are we what we listen to? Do the lyrics of our lives dictate our actions and our state of mind?

Beyond love songs, my taste in music has evolved to words of empowerment and adventure. As I continue to grow as an individual, my soundtrack has changed, the message has changed. The people I associate with, my career path, my mental health, my physical health, they’re all positive. Could I have rewritten my own score? I certainly can’t pinpoint what changed first, my taste in music or my attitude. And although it might not be scientific proof, I’m willing to hear this one out.


This article first appeared in The Independent Newspaper. Read more about #EverythingEastEnd here

Disconnect to Reconnect

It’s not exactly breaking news that texting is harmful for relationships, both romantic and otherwise. In today’s technological era, it’s easier and socially safer to formulate a text message than to verbally express oneself. Frighteningly enough, I recently saw a TV news segment on high school students (and younger!) swiping through dating apps rather than approaching a crush in school. My jaw dropped.

Have our phones become such an addiction that we prefer to incessantly message each other than hear someone’s voice? Or, even scarier, talk in person?

I’m guilty of texting ideas or conversations when it would be quicker and more efficient to place a call. More so, I’m too impatient to wait until the next time I see someone to catch up. Why? Cell phones have provided instant gratification. Why wait to see your best friend or significant other to catch them up on what’s happened in your life when you could send a message? Yet, upon realizing how it’s affecting the next generation, I opted to do a social experiment with the top five people I communicate with most. Skip the texts, go straight to phone calls and in-person meets. I hoped our connection would not only strengthen but would cause us to actually miss one another.

The first few days felt like a detox. After years of adapting to express my every thought whenever I wanted, it was a conscious effort not to reach for communication countless times throughout the day. By the week’s end, I realized that what I deemed topical in the moment wasn’t worth discussing at all. In fact, after a day or so of mulling details over, certain moments were even boring. Sure, with my killer storytelling skills, I could’ve made any mundane moment sound like headline material, but in retrospect, most of it seemed trivial.

However, the bigger moments stood out and therefore lengthened the back and forth over the phone and in person. Suddenly, conversations weren’t one sided catch-ups but rather a two-way street of ideas and talking points. Because we weren’t rehashing all the minute details of our lives, we dove deeper into the things that were impactful. In turn, we got to know each other better.

Even greater, there was less room for miscommunication. We’ve taken for granted the difference tone of voice and facial expression has on a conversation, whether it be serious or lighthearted. By eliminating texting, there was no room for hidden messages or reading between the lines. When we cut out the instant gratification that texting provides, we were quicker to pick up the phone and plan to see each other in person. We saw true value in the simplicity of hearing one another’s voice, of laughing over a meal.

After three weeks of my texting experiment, I saw a difference in these five relationships. Our communication deepened. I also saw a difference in myself. It allowed me to focus on hobbies, my work, and those immediately around me in moments I might have otherwise reached for the phone. I wasn’t preoccupied worrying about responding to or awaiting a text; I was too focused on what was in front of me.

I’m proud to say I never took these things for granted, but it was nice to be reminded that I could cut off technology in this small way. I disconnected to connect and after feeling the difference, I’ll never go back (with these few at least).



This article first appeared in The Independent Newspaper. Read more about #EverythingEastEnd here

A New Lifestyle

Last year, I detailed a list of ways I would detoxify my life, both mentally and physically, in aims to jump-start a better future ahead. For one month, I spoke to someone I cared for on the phone on a daily basis, incorporated fictional reading into my routine, started practicing meditation, and gave up alcohol, in addition to other small notions.

The difference I noticed, over the course of a single month, is astonishing.

Today’s technological era removes personal communication from so much of what we do. By hearing the voice of someone with value in my life — listening to their stories rather than reading them — I went from a passive role in their lives to re-establishing an active connection. I built a bridge over what was otherwise an emotional gap. According to the American Psychological Association, “emotional health can lead to success in work, relationships . . . and attract others with their energy optimism.”

Reading on a semi-daily basis widened my vocabulary. As I read, I highlighted words I was unfamiliar with to look up their definitions. I found myself thinking sharper and suddenly using such words in my regular vernacular that I otherwise may not have known.

Meditating can be done anywhere at any time, and it’s certainly not just for yogis. I went to intro classes ranging from religious affiliations to scientific studies to better understand how to calm my mind, more-so my reactions, amid the daily stressors in my life. In a nutshell, I learned that all happiness comes from within. As this is an ongoing practice, the acknowledgement of seeking out what I didn’t know opened up my heart and mind to a healthier mental future ahead.

The biggest difference was giving up alcohol and actively seeking healthier foods to consume. In the time I stopped drinking, limited red meat intake to once a week and incorporated a cleaner way of eating, my body completely changed. In March, I awoke, naturally, at 9:30 AM. Today, my body is ready to go (after some coffee, of course) at 7 AM without an alarm. I used to suffer from insomnia most nights but now find myself sleeping a solid eight or so hours without disruption, making me an overall happier person. Appearance wise, my skin is clearer and all my workouts are providing faster results. It’s truly amazing.

I was in the San Francisco area during the concluding days of my detox, which I will still continue in moderation. To celebrate my personal accomplishments, I rented a bike from Blazing Saddles and challenged myself to a 20-mile ride over the Golden Gate Bridge, into the Marin Headlands, down to the Pacific Ocean and back. Up until that point, I had never biked so far or so steeply. One unexpected suntan later, I had successfully completed all of my goals with the biggest smile on my face.

Jump-starting a new lifestyle wasn’t easy. Overcoming daily struggles that were once my norm took self-discipline and constant reminding of the greater goal. But it was worth it, and it changed my life.


This article first appeared in The Independent Newspaper. Read more about #EverythingEastEnd here

I Love Me, Too

There was a time, when I was single, that February 14 would be a dreaded reminder of my relationship status. Social feed would flood with photos of couples locking it down as restaurants filled to the brim of duos locking lips. And there I was, eagerly swiping away on  apps to the point of almost burning a hole in my iPhone. Yes; yes; no; sure; why not; oh hell no; wtf?? My lack of a plus one defined me even as I dove to the bottom of the dating pool.

Eventually, after my dating anecdotes tipped the scale from amusing to downright horrifying, I embraced my individuality. Anything was better than the love game I was playing. I adopted the trend of celebrating Valentines Day with my girlfriends, rather than seeking a significant other. Galentines Day became far more fun than any romantic evening I could’ve had. Who needs candlelit dinners and sweet talking when you have brunch and cute waiters? I may have been unattached but I definitely wasn’t alone. In that, I successfully freed myself from the stigma of being single.

Once I found the love within myself the rest of my life fell into place, from stronger family ties to better career opportunities. Ironically, at the height of my ‘independent woman’ phase is when the right relationship discovered me. We met at a wedding where the only swiping that was done was the sharing of our dinner plates. That night I realized why nothing else worked out. All of my dating dead ends directed me towards the path that would make sense.

Nearly six months later and my, now, boyfriend is constantly proving his affections for me, beyond the dinner dates and boxes of chocolate. Oftentimes, I’m greeted with my favorite snack from Trader Joe’s, a home cooked meal, a new book to read, even a local beer which he brought back from a work trip. He sees every day together as a small opportunity to celebrate what I mean to him. I like to think, through my actions, he feels the same.

Ironically, in light of my new relationship status, I’ve decided to forgo participating in Valentines Day this year with my beau. Amid all the other gestures made on a weekly basis, something, I’ll admit, I’m not used to, pronouncing a sole day to celebrate what we mean to each other seems superfluous. I’ll save such high expectations for our anniversary.

Valentines Day has become a Validation Day of sorts. Many of us, myself included once upon a time, measure our emotional value every 14th of February. We go to the ends of the earth, and internet, in search of recognition that we are, indeed, desired. But isn’t the real love we need within ourselves? Self-love is what sets the standard for all other love that enter our lives.

So, this year and all years to follow, I’m switching up the traditional V-Day routine. In lieu of celebrating the love I receive, I’m acknowledging the love I’ve created all around me.

I love you, Valentines Day, but I love me, too.





Wait For It

It’s wedding season, which means there are likely a lot of single ladies and gents out there feeling the ‘something blue’s’ as other’s are saying their ‘I Do’s.’ Or, if you’re not exactly despondant, you’re probably hoping to sit at the (seemingly sparse) singles table to meet a potential spark of your own- guilty, party of one! Because, if we’re being completely honest with ourselves, as elated as we are for our friends starting the next chapter of their lives it can also be a sobering reminder of the empty pages in our own romance novel.

Somewhere between the gift registry and the open bar, we become so caught up daydreaming about Mr & Mrs Right that we forget to embrace our independence. So, if you’re sans a plus one, like myself, I have some advice: Wait for the relationship that’s right for you.

In a society plagued by the bigger, better deal wait for the person that makes you forget about your phone, who forgets about theirs, because being together is all that matters in that moment. Wait for when you don’t want to post on social media because your happiness doesn’t depend on who else witnesses it.

Don’t let technology become a smokescreen. Wait for someone that calls you because they miss the sound of your voice, who takes the time to wish you good morning and  goodnight because you’re on their mind.

Understand that you’re worth more than being disappointed. Wait for the person who plans dates and pulls through, who you can count on. Wait for someone that fights for the relationship and who aims to grow alongside you.

Don’t let the status of others influence your own. Wait for the partner that challenges you, who wants you to have the most out of life and will never let you settle. Wait for uncontrollable laughter and passionate sex, a best friend and your lover.

Wait for the day your heart finds a home in someone else.

Wait for the moment the fear of losing them is greater than the fear of being alone, because what’s worse than being single is being in the wrong relationship.

So, the next time you’re ‘saving the date’ don’t worry about finding a date of your own. Time is relative, embrace the wait.