Overcoming the Obstacle of Self

I made up a word the other day. I call it “de-nichefy.” Classy, I know. What it means is to stop over-categorizing something down to a tiny description that limits the possibilities of said “thing.” In other words, stop limiting. As an entrepreneur and a creative type all rolled into one confused package, I often find myself facing the challenges of owning a business with thoughts like, “I’m not made like that;” or “I’m not good at doing things like that.” By saying these things, I’m categorizing myself down to a tiny niche that limits me from possibilities I could otherwise achieve if I would just apply myself.

I’m a firm believer in the capitalistic ideal that anyone can do anything they set their mind to. We are limitless human beings – that’s how God made us. The only thing that stops us is ourselves. And often it comes in the form of not believing in what we are capable of – nichefying ourselves.

So my encouraging word for the day is to de-nichefy yourself. Believe that you can do anything you set your mind to. You may not like it. You may not be prone to achieve it perfectly the first time. Who cares? Try it anyway. When you fail, try it again in a new way. If you want something, why let perceived inability stop you? I don’t believe in inability. I only believe in “in-application.” You only fail at things you refuse to try.

Go. Be free. De-nichefy and see what happens. Overcome the obstacle of self…

The Artist and the Suit

So I was reading an article on Yahoo! today about the punk movement and how it has become so corporatized that it’s no longer punk. It’s quite true and I’ve been saying that for a long time now. But it’s kind of the same thing with rock music, country music, Gospel music, and on and on. Really pop is the only one staying true to its roots: make music to make money… PS: you can read the article here.

I think about this a lot. Whenever something underground gains any momentum, someone in a suit sees it as an opportunity to capitalize. Take vampires for example. There was a time when the vampire craze was limited to a selective pool of undergrounders (I just made up a word) who dedicated their souls to Anne Rice and attended vampire parties in the basements of L.A. Now, thanks to the sissy vampires of Stephenie Meyer and the wonder of capitalism, you can’t shake a stick without hitting some sort of vampire paraphernalia: a TV show, a movie, a t-shirt, a lunch box…
Having worked in the corporate world, I know a thing or two about how these people think. It’s called the bottom line. And as long as the pockets of the big wigs are lined, they don’t care what they’re pushing next. The art of the original concept disappears, replaced with generic, run-of-the-mill cut-outs. To quote Christian Bale in Little Women: “Mediocre copies of another man’s genius.”
And it begs a question. Where does this leave us, the artists, who just want to get our art out to the world? Where do we strike the happy medium? It’s the age old battle between the “man” and the rest of us. As an independent artist, I find myself in a conundrum of being both the punk and the suit. The artist and the man. The dollars and the sense. It’s a fine line to walk… If I do what my husband always tells me and “stick it to the man,” I’ll be sticking it to myself…
But personally, I enjoy the challenge. I like having to figure out how to maneuver both sides of the battle. And I like the idea of paving a path that’s rarely been walked, for the very reason that it’s both difficult and at times, a conflict of interests.
Thus is the challenge of living in America, land of the free and home of the capitalist. And seeing as how I am a full believer in capitalism, I suppose my greatest challenge and my greatest achievement will be to reconcile the capitalism I love with the artist I will always be…
Metaphor: A Follow-Up

We talk a lot about faith. We throw around the phrase, “just have faith that it will all work out” (or some variation) haphazardly and frequently. We tell ourselves consistently that there’s a bigger plan and we’ve just got to trust it.

And all of that is well and good. All of that is true. But what it doesn’t answer is the “how.” What does that look like? How does faith look when it is being carried out? Is it waiting? Watching? Hoping? I think it can be, but I don’t think that’s all it is. I believe faith is most evident in movement. I believe our task is to carry out our faith by doing. Moving forward. Trying. Planning. Executing. Making mistakes and learning from them.

If we sat around waiting all day for an absolution, we would never find it. I believe this is because we learn from our actions, good or bad. If God truly is omniscient, He’s never surprised by our decisions. He already knew what we would do and when. If you take that a step further, I believe it is safe to say that we can’t disappoint God. He is well aware of every decision that ever has or will be made. How could we catch him off guard?

I think it’s easier for our finite minds to explain the nature of God by saying, “Oh, I messed up today. God’s gonna be really mad,” than it is to try to understand what His nature really is. I’m not implying that there is no sin or that everything we do is right. I’m simply saying that if God is the all-knowing god we say He is, then He can’t be taken by surprise when we make decisions, good or bad.

And if He can’t be taken by surprise, then He can’t be disappointed. And if He can’t be disappointed then we can trust, 100%, that we can move forward under His protection and provision. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t be afraid to step out on a limb. Living in fear of messing up is the opposite of faith. And if you live in that fear, you’re saying that God did not know you were going to make this mistake, He can’t fix it, and maybe He doesn’t want to.

That’s no way to live. And there’s not an ounce of faith in that.

Go ahead. Move forward. Try things. Ask questions and don’t be afraid to fall flat on your face. God knew you would. And He’s ready to help you up when you ask.

Sometimes I feel like I’m walking a high wire. Perched between what could be and what already is, I walk precariously the fine line in hopes I that I don’t misstep and fall flat on my face. I get going pretty good sometimes and think I’ve got it under control. But I always forget to factor in the wind…

The wind can be the whim of a friend, the economy, the attitude I have on a given day. And when it comes, it always shakes me to the core.

So I do some soul searching and realize that I shouldn’t be bothered by the wind, let alone the precarious high wire, if I’m truly walking in faith.

And then when I realize I’m not truly walking in faith, I have to stop and ask why. And that’s where I am today.

Some days I wake up knowing exactly who I am and what I want. Some days I wake up and the wind hits me. When it does, I get scared and wonder if I’m on the right path. Could I be doing something differently? What mistakes am I making? Why aren’t things going the way I’d planned for them to go?

Then, subtely and surely, I am reminded that it was never mine to figure out. It was never my fate to decide. I gave it up a long time ago.

And it’s this place exactly – the one place I always think that I never want to be – that is the one place God wants me to be: in complete, total, dependant and blind faith. Admittedly, it’s scary. No one likes giving up control. I especially, being the “get it done” kind of gal I am, have a hard time relinquishing the death grip I have on control. But I know, only due to deep personal experience, that it’s much better to just let go. As cliche as this is, God really does know what he’s doing… I just keep thinking he’s going to fill me in on his grand scheme for the universe.

Guess I’ll have to get over that one…

What goes up, we tear down

I’ve been thinking a lot about Michael Jackson lately. Some say it’s because I’m a victim of the media frenzy going on right now, but honestly I don’t watch TV very much. So aside from watching the recap of his funeral last night when I got home, I’ve experienced very little media on the subject. But the idea of his story is a constant stream of consciousness manifesting itself in various forms from my mind.

Today it’s a blog.
I cannot help but think about the life and legacy of Michael Jackson with a twinge of sorrow. He started off as the wonder-boy front man for a little group called the Jackson 5 in the 60s and rose to wear the crown as King of Pop. But it’s the story in between that fascinates and, sadly, disturbs me. No, not because he was the “Wacko Jacko” the media so kindly named him, but because of the sad truth that for all intents and purposes, I believe Michael was a victim. First a victim of what was probably and abusive home, next a victim of what was undoubtedly an abusive experience we call “celebrity.”
I’ve noticed that as a whole, our society tends to root for the underdog, building them up with the hopes that they will take off to superstardom. We love shows like American Idol because we think it’s a home-grown kid on the big stage taking their once-in-a-lifetime shot at fame. But somewhere between the climb to the top and the pinnacle of their career, our group-think shifts and we decide our underdog is no longer worthy of our adoration, affection, or well-wishes. We thus begin our slippery slope to tear them down back to what we’ve decided is “normal.”
I’ve seen it over and over again. In recent years it’s been with the likes of Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton. But in the past it’s been people like Elvis, the Beatles (more markedly John Lennon), and sadly, Michael Jackson.
Admittedly, he was an odd duck… Addicted to plastic surgery, dangling his son over a balcony, naming his ranch after a make-believe land from Peter Pan. But who wouldn’t be odd when they started pursuing a career at the age of 5? Who wouldn’t be odd if he didn’t get the opportunity to play with other children because he was required to practice for hours each day? Who wouldn’t be odd if at the age of 11 he had a record deal and was forced into his professional career before even hitting puberty? These are things that most of us will never and can never understand. The spotlight is an endearing lure, but a bittersweet relationship. On one hand you have fame and fortune, on the other the relentless expectation to look perfect, act perfect, say all the right things, and live up to everyone’s impossible expectations.
And if you want to get started on the argument that Michael was a child molester, I will say this and only this: he was acquitted. There was a reason he was acquitted and it was because the evidence did not exist. In fact, all of the evidence pointed to the contrary.
And yet so many of us fell into the trap of group-think. We decided collectively that Michael was indeed “Wacko Jacko.” We never stopped to think that he was, perhaps, a human with real emotions, desires, dreams, thoughts, feelings. No, in our world, celebrity is not human, it is our toy with which we play until we are tired and move on to the next new thing.
But over the past couple of weeks, in light of the news that our King of Pop is now gone, I have started to ponder this anomaly we call “celebrity.” Why do we build up to tear down? And why is it that now that he’s gone, we’re all suddenly big fans again? Frankly I’m disgusted with myself for ever having concluded that he was not worth my respect. Granted. He was not perfect – that is not what I’m saying. But there is no denying that he was a genius of his trade, a lover of humanity and believer in the simple idea that the world could really be a better place. What’s not to respect about that?
Perhaps, aside from his music, his trends, his dancing, his humanitarian efforts, Michael had one final legacy to leave with us: to remember that the oddities of “celebrity” are moreso of our own making than of theirs. And that if we, collectively, can set aside our preconceived notions if only for a moment, we might just see that we are all human, we are all the world under the same sun, and at the end of the day it is what we do, not who we say we are, that leaves the greatest impact on the world.
Removes all my doubts…

My friends, if ever I find myself doubting the existence of God, I
need only to visit the mountains and my faith is renewed. And the
mountain in this particular picture is of special significance since I
have been visiting it since I was born.

And I am excited to say that this weekend I will stand at the foot of
this mountain, awe in my heart at it's majesty, and revel in the
wonder of my Creator.

I promise to share more pics as I take them so that you too may
indulge I the splendor.

Until Colorado,
The Captain