Music

Me trying out a Fender Stratocaster at Guitar Center.

I woke up with Coldplay’s “In My Place” stuck in my head. Next I played “Dreams” by The Cranberries. Can I tell you how much music has saved the day? It fills a sonic void. Literally. More importantly, it always finds a way to enter the soul and mend the pieces that don’t make sense. Then it moves to the tongue and becomes a language of unification that transcends age, gender, cultural backgrounds.

I love the way that music just IS. It has been super therapeutic; these past few months, especially. 
I don’t know what it is, but 2020 has given me the audacity to dream harder. Not only do I dream harder, but I also go more fervently after what I want. I am re-claiming my destiny with a force that I can feel growing each day. A flame of resolve to get it done. A mindset that is a cranked-up version of my prior spontaneity. 


And I am grateful that God blessed me with a love of music. Where would I be without it? I remember one day during clinicals, a classmate of mine told my attending that I used to sing the national anthem for the school’s white coat ceremony. He then asked if I would like to sing for my colleagues in the break room of the hospital. 


Never one to back down from an opportunity to sing, I put down my clipboard and sang the first verse of Mariah Carey’s “Hero”. It felt odd amidst of the gray walls and beeping medical appliances that are native to the hospital setting. But after singing, I could feel some color creeping out from my mouth and flowing into the room in which we stood. It was HEALING, to say the least.
I miss singing in church and having people tell me that they had been in a rough place but my voice helped them have hope. And while it’s as easy as uploading a video online, it just doesn’t feel the same. The atmosphere, the echo of your voice hitting the walls of a church that was built over a century ago. Playing with volume and singing over sore throats during the winter.

I probably could sing before I could talk. And I went on to do choir, musicals, talent shows. I really miss singing Handel’s “The Messiah” and “O Holy Night” during Christmas concerts at school. Blending my soprano with the altos, tenors and basses. I always love a good harmony, even though I was always required to do melody or descant.


I want to re-capture that essence, so I am making it a point to not only let my voice be heard more, but also to come up with creative ways to do so during these times. I can’t wait to see what results from this! In addition, I picked up the acoustic guitar and thinking of electric all during this pandemic. My mind is on Jimmi Hendrix but my fingers are still catching up 😂 In due time!


I say this to say that if you have a passion that has been shelved, dust it off and rekindle that flame. Don’t worry about timing or having everything you think should be in place. You can’t start until you get started. All it takes is that first step of action. You never know who might need to hear it. Maybe it’s you. 

Something Amazing Out of the Abyss

Rittenhouse Square Park, Philadelphia, PA. Photo taken by Doctor Beauty using iPhone.

It appears we blinked and it was mid-November. Where did the time go? They say time flies when you’re having fun, but 2020 (for many) has been anything but. You know what 2020 primarily did for me (thus far)? It sent me into somewhat of a survival mode. Living below my means in many ways. Being okay with not having the things I previously called necessities, like fresh nails and eyebrows 24/7. It was more of a response to the circumstances at hand than a premeditated choice. The naileries and beauty supplies were closed for months. Everyone would see each other outside, men looking scruffier than usual, women with outgrown acrylic nails. But real recognized real. We each recognized “the struggle” in our eyes, even though we could not see the expressions of each other’s mouths past the mandatory masks. 

I became far more than self-sufficient or resourceful. I became adaptive to a degree unknown to myself. And I reached a point where my creativity became a gateway to what was previously impossible. I opened doors that were once closed and embarked on journey’s I had wanted to start years ago. Imagine me, at 29, thinking it made sense to start playing acoustic guitar? Or submitting my poem to a pediatric medical publication for the first time? I stepped outside of my comfort zone the way a shadow leaves our bodies in the sun. 

But I was not the only one who embraced this new call to self-reinvention. I noticed this attribute in so many, especially in the online community I became a part of during the pandemic. I was so impressed that I decided to give them a platform to voice their life journeys via my new interview series “Testimony Tuesdays”. It’s something I had planned on executing as a podcast years ago. In retrospect, it seems I have used my creativity to make something amazing out of the abyss that was a somewhat murky 2020.

So here I am, pretty much reflecting on a year that is not quite over but just about, typing through the odd sensation of the calluses I have developed over the past few weeks from practicing guitar. The road to 2021 does not appear to be around the corner, over the river and through the woods, or along some winding path. It feels as though it is just down the street but in an updated version of technicolor. And I think that is pretty exciting!

Waves

Star Island, Miami

This past Sunday, I took some much-needed alone time to go on a boat tour of the Miami islands. It was my second time; the first was back in 2017. I love being on the water with just my thoughts, the breeze, and of course the tour guide’s voice occasionally interrupting my train of thought.


I looked out at the mansions and the residents on their jet skis, the abyss extending out for miles, and took note of how carefree they were. Meanwhile I had a million things on my mind! Wondering where I’d be living for the next few years, thinking about my petty anger towards people who had wronged me but wouldn’t give a care in the world if I told them so. And how much I’d love to just RELAX without a care in the world like the people I was observing. That is my ultimate goal. To literally relax without a care in the world. Not worrying about getting up at 4:30 am to get somewhere on time, or so much about the consequences to my actions, just being free.


Of course there has to be a balance, but it’s nice to think about being on the extreme opposite end of the spectrum. And then I remembered something my reverend father said in church at the beginning of Lent. You can sacrifice everything tangible, but if your heart is not pure and light, and free of grudges, it will all be in vain. And I really had to check myself and ask if this was the case. What was I holding onto, out here in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean? And why? 


I have gotten better at resetting, and telling myself to let go every now and then. It is not a constant flow of release, but the flow is there nonetheless. It just feels better not holding on to preconceived notions or expectations so tightly, and going with the flow. Just like the waves of the ocean.


What are you holding onto from your past? What elements of your future are you preoccupied with? Whatever it is, just know that you can find a space in this world to release that energy in a constructive way. Volunteer at a center for those in need. Donate items you no longer use that could help the next person. Patronize your friends with small businesses. Or simply take a day to bask in it all. Recognizing these anchors and being honest with yourself is the first step in living a more relaxed and fulfilled life. Sending peace and love out there to all who need it! And don’t forget to love yourself, too.