The Song That Broke Your Heart

You all know what I’m talking about. For whatever reason, there’s that one song in your daily arsenal that, for lack of a better phrase, kicks your ass. Whether it’s the direct message being spelled out lyrically, your own interpretation of the lyrics, or maybe it’s a place those lyrics bring you to. For whatever reason it may be, this song entirely breaks you down.

How did you get to this headspace? Why are you reflecting on songs that break your heart, Taylor?

Music is a weird thing. It brings people from different backgrounds, different walks of life, different stressors together. It can explain a feeling when words fail to accurately depict one’s emotional stance. Then there’s the aspect of the whole music thing that can take you out of your current situation and bring you to a different mental state; a different place; a better time.

Right now, for me, that song is “Kansas City”. I’d tell you what it’s about, but I’ll do one better and let you figure it out on your own by listening above (oh, and you’re welcome in advance).

This song was released 3 days after I got back from the perfect birthday trip to the beautifully humbling mountains of Colorado. For me, there’s something about the mountains. This wasn’t my first time there, either. I grew up going to Lake Tahoe and Colorado later on in life, and have always enjoyed my time there, but there was something different about this trip.

It’s not just the fact that we didn’t run into any bumps; the people of the town we stayed in were warm, welcoming and accommodating. The weather was perfect for skiing; we got 4 inches of fresh powder as a birthday gift to yours truly. I mean, yeah, of course I had a great time, and anyone is sad to leave vacation.

But this was more than just a vacation. It was more than just a good time. It brought back a feeling I haven’t possessed in over a year; one of freedom and pure joy. One of purpose and light. I felt rejuvenated and understood.

Since being back, I’ve felt none of those things, but I’ve surely felt pain and anxiety with their absence. I’ve felt lost, unmotivated; overall lacking something that I clearly need to do more than merely exist in the world day in and day out.

Let’s not forget about “Kansas City” and it’s role, here. As I mentioned, this song dropped 3 days after getting back from Colorado. The 2 days leading up to this release, I didn’t talk to many people. I went to work, plugged in headphones and got after it. Then Friday came. The Mowglis, in my honest and sincere opinion, are incapable of making a bad song. They just can’t do it.

That Friday, I got in my car to head to work, opened Spotify and immediately searched “Kansas City”. There’s no better time to listen to new music than on your morning commute, just trust me on this one. Colin, a member of the band, had been hyping of the song for weeks, tweeting about what it meant to him, how emotional he got playing it live at shows. Knowing that, I knew this was going to be a little different from the typical Mowgs I’m used to.

The song plays on, and my connection with it grows as each second passes. Then the pre-chorus hit, and it hit hard.

“Been in a new town, got the same issues to work through. Turns out when you move, you just take it all with you”

Did going to the mountains validate my desire to move out there someday in the near future? Yeah, of course. That’s something that’s kept me going every day. So when I heard these lines, my first reaction was ok, Taylor, whatever you’re struggling with now; it’s not going to magically go away because you’re in the mountains. It’s still going to be there underneath the surface. Then I thought about it more, and there’s nothing I feel I’m trying to run away from; there’s no obstacle directly in my way that I feel moving cities and states would resolve, even temporarily.

Throughout the day, the words in the pre-chorus echoed in my head. The problem is I didn’t have time to really delve into the thought behind it. I had a job to do, and if it wasn’t the weekend, there was no time for fun. No time for conversation. No reason to smile. No point in doing anything besides working and sleeping.

That’s when I realized, “OK. This is more than the typical post-vacation slump”.  What was it, then? To be honest, I still haven’t quite figured that out, but I’m trying to. Writing this out, up to this point, was step one. I’ve realized a lot throughout the course of the day today, mainly being that without a sense of purpose, without something driving you to utilize your skillset in it’s most viable way possible; you’ve got nothing. The fire goes out.

Is it solely up to me to relight that fire? I’m going to take a stand here and say no, but hear me out. Do I think we are, as individuals, in control of our lives and our own emotions? For sake of rounding up, we’ll say yes, sure. You have the choice to think positively or negatively in the eyes of a storm. For sure. But, as a people, as a workforce, I think we’ve got to do better. People don’t exist to neglect one another. Society has to change. We need to welcome leadership advice from unexpected sources, we need to scope out the positive qualities others bring to the table, and utilize their minds and perspectives to create things that haven’t yet been created; whatever that may be.

Does this mean I think you should base your happiness on another human being? Nope. If that’s what you’ve gotten out of this thus far, I’m either wildly misspoken, or you may want to reread through a different lens.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the purposes behind jobs, and my views are mixed. They’re necessary to give you a sense of purpose and the ability to survive in a more pleasant way. But on the other hand, I don’t agree with the idea of working just to work. I’m a firm believer that there’s a job out there for everyone that they can pursue with passion on a daily basis. That your talents, your expertise can be used for the good of a company, and the good of your mental wellbeing and soul.

I think that jobs have the ability to redefine a person’s point of view on various subject matters depending on how they’re perceived at their place of work, and if they feel they’re able to, without scrutiny or backfire,  perform the duties they were brought on board to do. I think false advertisement when it comes to job duties sets a business up for high turnover rates.

People get on millennials for not accepting the work place norms of the past, but I don’t see that as something problematic. I see it as a necessity. If you refuse to adapt to the ways of those rising up in the world socially and economically, you’re going to find yourself pushed out of business due to a competitor actually caring about culture, purpose, leadership and drive.

To tie that tangent all together, every aspect of your life affects your headspace, which in turn affects your ability to be a productive and fulfilled member of society. The mountains reminded me there is purpose out there, you just might have to look for it in unforeseeable places. Right now, I can’t see it. I haven’t figured out what my soul found in the mountains, but when i do, I’m sure I’ll be that much closer to finding that sense of purpose again.

The Sound of Music

The sound of music will never get old.
The battling between drums and vocals, the cohesion between guitar chords and the banging of a tambourine in between; these are the things that I’ll never take for granted.
Because of music, we’ve all been in love, had our hearts broken to then be pieced back together bit by bit.
Because of music, we’re able to share the feelings we can’t put into words.
We’re able to communicate in ways which the english, and all other languages, fail us.
Because of music, there’s no such thing as borders and boundaries.
There’s no such thing as the inability to communicate.
Because of music, we have human connection, and if that’s something you take for granted or fail to see, then you need more music in your life.
You need to open yourself up to the journey it can take you on.
You need to let go of all dispositions, tape on some headphones and put your Spotify/Pandora/Itunes/Soundcloud on shuffle.
Be one with the music, forget where you are, and go where it takes you.

Right now, let it take—and meditate—you.

 

Say Yes to What’s Real

and what’s real is Chance The Rapper.
Now, don’t get discouraged because you’re not a rap or hip-hop fan.
That has yet to deter anyone I know from liking Chance.
Why? Because he’s real, that’s why.
He doesn’t rap about the club, or women in a degrading way.
He raps about his life, his struggles, his successes.
He raps about the real world, and I for one recognize, and salute, him for that.

I don’t regularly watch Saturday Night Live, but I’m subscribed to their YouTube channel. Although I admit that YouTube hasn’t shown me everything the minute it happens, I’m happy that today it showed me this video by the one and only Chance The Rapper.
Why am I particularly happy it was this song on this day by this artist?
That’s simple—I’ve been listening to him, and this song (on repeat . . . No seriously)all morning.

His movements on stage are his own, his lyrics are his mind and soul.
He is who he is, and I for one love him, as an artist, for doing so.

Because You Deserve It

Sometimes there are collaborations that don’t work out.
Sometimes there are collaborations that get radio play.
Then sometimes, there are collaborations that happen on the MTV VMAs Stage that are truly of epic and raw proportions.

This performance was one of them, and it was a nice glimpse back in time to the MTV of my youth; the one that actually played music.

I think by now everyone knows how I feel about Twenty One Pilots, so without further adieu, here’s Twenty One Pilots and A$AP Rocky circa 2015. If this doesn’t inspire you on round one of run through I challenge you to come back later today and watch it again, then let me know what you think!

Our Brains are sick, but that’s OK

People—it’s time to get real.
Life is hard, and no one can deny that; no one would dare to try.
But having a hard time and struggling with mental health are not one in the same.One is not valid while the other is a made up, imaginary cry for attention.

It’s time to talk mental health. It’s time to talk mental health diseases and diagnoses, and it’s time to do it in a way that’s not . . . Taboo. Controversial. Fake.

I have no issue owning up to my own struggles with mental health. I’ve talked about it on here more times than I care to count, and there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s me sorting out and explaining to myself that this is OK. This isn’t a thing to be ashamed of, and it’s definitely not a thing to run from. I am not the only one who struggles with and suffers from a mental health disorder. I am not the only one who’s ever had crippling anxiety and the inability to see the world without a haze similar to the after effects of a bomb explosion. I know that, and that’s what’s helped me accept that I needed help. That there wasn’t anything I could do anymore. I was out of resources. I had misused everything I possibly could as a solution, and I needed to get a real one. I needed to figure out why I couldn’t go to my best friend’s party that was for me because I couldn’t get out of bed. I was aware that this wasn’t OK. That I wasn’t OK, and I felt comfortable asking my parents for their support as I sought out the professional help of a psychologist. I have supportive parents who accept me and understand that this isn’t a flaw, this isn’t something that defines me. Not everyone is in the same situation with the same resources. Not everyone can speak so openly about their mental woes due to the fear of being too taboo; of making people feel uncomfortable and awkward. However, that’s not the direction of this piece.

This might be heavy on my mind because it’s been exactly one year since my first therapy session. The therapy session that I initiated by my own will. One that I realized needed to happen through the power of music. Twenty One Pilots got me through from the high to the lowest of low, then straight to the therapist to unravel the mess I had made in my head. If you’re not familiar with Twenty One Pilots and how they could possibly relate to mental health, here’s this:

“Fear might be the death of me, fear leads to anxiety—don’t know what’s inside me.” 

Alright, now that we’re all on the same page here . . . let’s get onto the intended direction of my train of thought.

Here I am, one year after making the first step to a necessary change and road to acceptance, sitting on the floor in my bedroom with Twenty One Pilots on shuffle via Spotify. I can’t help but reflect on the past year, where I was, and where I am now. The line quoted above showcasing Tyler Joseph’s struggle with his own mental health (anxiety), is now less of my journey than it was a year ago. Then, ‘The Judge’ started playing, and I wasn’t really listening fully (in part because I was thinking out what I wanted to start this series with) until I heard:

“I’m a pro at imperfections, and I’m best friends with my doubt.”

Instantaneously I realized this is the part of my journey and road to acceptance that I’m at. I’ve accepted that yes, this is my reality, this is real, and I’m ok with myself looking internally. However, I feel lesser of a person to those closest in my life. I feel either overprotected and microscopically watched, or misunderstood, therefore excessively apologetic. Why is it that I, the defender of un-taboo-ifying (there’s a word for this, but you get what I mean) mental health, feel the need to apologize to those I spend my time with for having moments of suffering out of nowhere?

Mental illnesses, disorders, diseases, whatever you choose to call them—they’re nothing to be afraid of. They’re something a large amount of the population deal with daily. So what’s with the stigma around it? Why do we, or maybe just myself, feel the need to apologize to others when an attack comes on, or panic and anxiety take over and restlessness with a side of severe sass? I don’t know, but I know that it shouldn’t, and I know that we need to talk about it more. We need to talk about it now.

 

And Then There Were Sunsets

No but really…The sun nearly killed this shoot for me, and if it had been about 6 months ago, I would’ve had no idea how to maneuver around this roadblock of disappointment and shattered dreams that some people like to call, “the sun”. However, being the highly adaptive (and too internet savvy) person that I am, I’ve vaguely figured out the various settings to toggle with and am now aware that different lenses require different settings because…light.

Anyways, I’m grateful to be given the opportunity to do what I love (aka see live music) and combine it with my passion for photographing live events and people as they are.

Most recently I was given the opportunity to shoot Migrant Kids at a new live music series put on monthly by Shake Shack. Even though that tricky Son of a…sun…made it’s (unrelenting) debut,  I think the results were admirable.

Check the pho-tos out here, and check out Migrant Kids here (es fo’ free!).

If you’re interested in getting your head rocked by some dope live music and even doper milkshakes, head on out to Shake Shack @ The Domain on October 4th for the last show of the season!

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