Brandyn Blaze

Life Between The Scenes

Category: My Life Lately (page 1 of 6)

My Own Personal Fairy Tale

This past weekend marked 11 years that my husband and I have been together and our first anniversary as a married couple.

It’s hard to believe we’ve spent more than a decade together, and it’s even crazier to think about how much longer it’s been since our story really started. Today I thought I’d share our tale with you and celebrate our love for the whole world to see.

It all started 15 years ago in a record store.

I was a 15 year old girl with a serious rock-n-roll addiction. I was convinced that I’d grow up to be a record producer and had struck up a friendship with a man who owned a small studio. He offered to teach me how to run the equipment in exchange for helping out around the place and I jumped at the chance.

One day, we ran to the mall, I believe we were exchanging some speakers that didn’t work, and stopped off at the record store. I flipped through the CDs, hoping to find something cool to add to my collection as he talked with the owner.  I’ll never forget the second I looked up and spotted the cutest boy I had ever seen standing right across the room.

I remember being so nervous and trying not to stare, wishing I had the courage to go up and say hi. I also remember the utter delight and excitement that poured through me when I noticed him talking to my friend.

I kept to myself, and continued flipping through CDs until my friend told me it was time to go. As soon as we were back in his SUV, I asked who that kid was, unable to hide my crush on the boy. He laughed and told me his name and that I would be seeing a lot more of him, as he was going to be helping out around the studio as well.

Of course, I spent extra time getting ready on the day I knew he was going to start, determined to make a good impression. Before the end of the day we were talking music and by the end of the summer my crush had only grown stronger.

As the summer drew to a close, we found ourselves facing our last day working together. He was about to head to California to visit family, although at the time I thought he was going back permanently. As we rode in the back of the SUV as our boss drove us home, we slowly inched our hands closer together until our pinkies were touching. We both kind of smiled nervously at one another before we linked our hands together, holding on until we reached his house.

Before he left, I gave him one of the billion rubber bracelets I always wore, which I learned years down the line he had worn the entire time he was away.

I didn’t hear from him again until shortly after school had started. I saw him in the halls once and we caught up for a minute and I gave him my new number, but we never got in touch. Some time later I’d seen him again and we’d once again swapped numbers, and still didn’t contact each other.

Fast forward 4 years and you’ll see a 19 year old version of me coming back home for summer break following my first year of college.  We wound up finding each other on Myspace and messaging back and forth for awhile. I still had just as much of a crush on him as I’d had back then, and I was determined to get a date. Soon we’d made plans that quickly got cancelled, but I hadn’t given up hope. A few weeks later I found my opening.

After spending an entire summer following Poison around, a few friends and I had plans to go to a show in Cedar Rapids. The Gibbs Brothers Band, who had opened for Poison, were shooting a video there, which we had learned about while we were hanging around backstage at one of the shows. They were playing at a bar with a Poison tribute band called Posin’, which sealed the deal for me.  I was beyond excited, but when the day came everyone else had backed out.

I was determined to go anyway and started looking through my contacts, hoping to find someone who would be able to go with me last minute. I still remember the smile that crept onto my face as I landed on his phone number. After an afternoon of uncertainty, I finally had an answer. I picked him up in my beat-up ’89 Camry and away we went.

He likes to remind me that I nearly crashed on the way there as I took a turn too hard, and I like to remind him that I was incredibly nervous and a fairly new driver. He also likes to remind me that I did eventually smash my car in the parking lot before the show. At the time, it was mortifying, but as far as first date stories go, it definitely adds some flavor!

Before long I was sitting in his lap as we enjoyed the show, and eventually a gal we’d met convinced him to dance with me.  We had a blast that night, and by the time I dropped him off I was certain we’d started something. I remember sitting there nervously, anticipating a kiss, and being shocked when instead I got a hug and a request to call me later.

The rest, as they say, is history.

 

young couple, new love, beginning of our love story

We look so young!

 

Soon we had moved in together and six years later we had our amazing daughter. The following Christmas he asked me to marry him, catching me totally off guard as we stood in front of his entire family.

On the 10th anniversary of our first date, we finally tied the knot in a beautiful ceremony we wrote ourselves, using rings my husband made for us himself.  It was an amazing feeling to stand up in front of all our loved ones and celebrate our commitment to one another and honestly couldn’t have gone better. Cementing the fact that we want to spend our lives together was a wonderful way to tie up the decade.

 

wedding collage, my love story, combined wedding wiccan and traditional

 

 

Through the years we’ve certainly had our ups and downs. There’s been moments of bliss and times of strife. We’ve grown and changed along with each other and have chosen love in every step along the way, even when it wasn’t easy.

And at the end of the day, that’s what love is. It’s unconditional and strong. We’re there to support one another and cheer each other on. We weather the storms together and join each other in celebration when the skies are clear.

I am so incredibly blessed to have such an wonderful person by my side. This is one story I would never rewrite.

 

 

 

 

Something About Summer: Making Fun A Priority

Summer.

Sunshine, good friends, good food, laying out by the water. Is there a better season around?

Truth be told, I love all the seasons. I love the coziness of winter, the beautiful colors of fall, and the feeling of rejuvenation that spring brings. The rhythm of the Earth as it moves through these changes is an amazing thing.

But summer.

Summer makes me think of childhood. Of long days at the pool with my mom and grandma. Of that feeling of freedom when the last bell of the the school year would ring. It reminds me of lazy days and family vacations and time with friends. I remember feeling so grown-up the first year I was allowed to stay home by myself all day while my mother was at work.  The thrill of going to outdoor concerts nearly every weekend as a teenager.

This season holds many memories indeed.

It seems that once we get out in the real world, summer stops being as magical and becomes more about that sense of nostalgia. As an adult, you don’t get that summer break. You still have to work and do chores and run errands. The bills are still there. The responsibilities don’t disappear.

I was thinking about this as I was cooking dinner the other night. I felt a sense of guilt creep up as I realized my daughter hadn’t been outside all week. At first, I blamed it on my knee and the fact that it’s kept me from doing much. Then I blamed it on all the things I’ve had to do lately as I work on advancing my career: I mean, there’s just not enough time! Next, I blamed the exhaustion that unfortunately comes with adulthood.

I frowned as I accepted the fact that none of these things were truly to blame. The fact is, I hadn’t made it a priority. Instead of enjoying the weather and soaking in the sun before the season passes us by, I’ve stayed inside and focused on the long list of projects I’ve been working on.

Life has been out of balance.

Sure, I’ve been getting a lot done. The house has stayed as clean as it can with my limited mobility and a four-year old tornado disguised as an adorable little girl. I’ve written and scheduled several blog posts, created some nifty schedules, and engaged in quit a bit of networking. I’ve worked out outlines for books and completed many DIY projects. From the time I wake up to the time I go to bed, I’m working.

And you know what they say, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

 

And sometimes psycho. We don’t wind to wind up like ol’ Jack here.

 

To say I’ve been irritable and just generally cranky is probably a bit of an understatement. I’ve been the nagging, yelling mom I always said I’d never be. I’ve said, “maybe later” to a million requests, hoping they’d be forgotten so I can plow through the work load.

Not exactly where I want to be.

When I think back to my childhood, I realize there’s no reason I’m working myself to death. We may not get a summer break, but the balance kids strike between work and play is something we can carry with us.

As a young kid, I had school from 8 to 3, then had to do homework and a few chores around the house, and yet I still had plenty of time to relax and have fun. Even as a highschooler, I managed to juggle school, a part-time job, homework, and chores, without sacrificing time with friends, hobbies, or just some good old TV time. Somehow I managed to do this through college as well. I was good at squeezing the most out of my time.

So what’s different now?

For the life of me, I can’t think of a single reason why I can’t bring that balance back. Sure, I have a few more responsibilities now that I’m a mom, but in all actuality there’s not a lot of extra tasks. I’d have to cook and clean and pay bills and shop either way. Snuggles and stories and kissing boo-boos and playing games doesn’t really eat up a whole lot of time.  With my job, I could probably work 6 hours a day and be okay. I could even squeeze in a couple extra hours on weekend mornings if need be. There’s no reason I’m taking up every spare second of my day with work and ignoring my other needs. There’s no reason my loved ones are taking a backseat.

Remember when I talked about letting go of my schedule to create more balance? I need to take my own advice! Sure, I created more balance in my work life. I’m keeping all my projects on track and some of those projects do count as “me” time. I’m taking care of all the life or death matters without feeling too stressed about them since I’ve made the switch from schedules to routines. But I’m not quite there yet.

So now, I must make relaxation and time with my family more of a priority.

Taking a half hour break to play outside with my child isn’t going to cause my productivity to tank. Going to lunch with a friend or family member once or twice a week isn’t going to end my career. The house isn’t going to get any messier if I spend a Saturday afternoon at the lake.

I just have to utilize my work time wisely and stop frittering it away. No five minute Facebook breaks that turn into a half hour. No working with the TV on and alternating my attention between the program and the task at hand. No opening five different tabs and switching between projects every five minutes.

I’ve always been all about mindfulness, but somehow I haven’t been very successful at applying it to my work. It’s time to make that a priority as well.

You, lovely reader, are my witness. I will work harder to achieve a better balance. I will take advantage of this wonderful weather and not feel guilty about it. I will make more time for the people I care about the most.

And I will come back to write about it all and share the methods that made those things possible.

In the meantime, I would love to hear what methods work best for you. Do you have any time-saving tips that help you make the most of your days? Great routines that keep things running smoothly? Mindfulness techniques that keep you centered and calm? Whatever it is that works for you, tell me in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

Embracing Your Song: A Story Of Personal Growth

I have always been the kind of person that is easily embarrassed. I prefer to keep things to myself and have never been one to show off.

It seems weird to say that. After all, I regularly spill my guts out for strangers to read on the internet and have released 3 smutty romance novels to date. I’ve put a few videos on YouTube, and used to use Periscope pretty regularly (which is something I’ve recently gone back to). I get drunk and sing karaoke whenever I get the chance and I used to be in bands.

By all accounts, people could be forgiven for thinking I’m an outgoing person. However, the fact remains. I’m not a very open person in the real world. I tend to shy away from sharing my talents with others.

With this in mind, I would like to tell you about a very recent breakthrough in my personal life.

For years, I have refused to play guitar in front of anybody.

There was this very real fear that I wasn’t good enough. I know a lot of guitar players who are much better than me, and I just knew I was opening myself up to comparison and criticism. Knowing that I’m a sensitive person by nature, I didn’t want to put myself in a position to have my passion ridiculed to the point where I could no longer enjoy it.

 

fear quote, embrace your song, be you, small step towards happiness, playing in front of others, guitar

 

Now, the logical solution to that problem would have been to practice more and get better. Yet, fear once again dampened that impulse. I didn’t want people to hear me struggling to learn something new. I figured it would be offensive to force the soundwaves on others and I figured no one wanted to hear the same few songs over and over, day in and day out.

To combat this, I resolved to practice only when I was home alone. Occasionally after a few drinks I’d play in front of my best friend or my husband, but I mostly kept that to myself. I’m pretty sure people began to think I just kept my guitars around for decoration.

I always had these simple goals in my head. I dreamt of playing guitar and leading sing alongs around a campfire or in my backyard with all my friends and family. I dreamt of entering open mic nights and playing in little cafes. I dreamt of playing in my living room without fear.

Every now and then I’d go through spurts where I’d play more often and learn some new songs. I’d build up a little confidence and pack my guitar for family camping trips. This time, I’d play. Inevitably the guitar would stay in the car and I’d be hit with an intense wave of disappointment. I could never bring myself to shake off the fear that held me back.

After a while, I gained a little bit more confidence and decided to put a few videos up on Youtube. Let me tell ya, that was a hard thing to do! I was nervous about sharing that part of myself, especially knowing that I’m not exactly a virtuoso. Still, it was invigorating to put myself out there. Sure, they never got any shares or anything, but I didn’t get horrible comments telling me how bad they were either. That’s a win in my book.

 

embrace your song, small step towards happiness, fear, ralph waldo emerson, quote, quote about fear, playing in front of people, guitar

 

However, even with the little bit of confidence that such a leap brought, I couldn’t bring myself to play in front of people in real life.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I went to visit his parents. A couple friends of ours were there and they got out a guitar. I watched with envy as they played for one another and discussed techniques and influences. Both of them are far more talented than I, and I longed to be included.

After a while, one of them handed me the guitar. With shaking hands, I accepted the instrument and began playing a few songs I knew I couldn’t possibly mess up. That’s when my mother in law said something that shook me to my soul.

“You know, I’ve only ever heard you play 2 or 3 times in the 10 years I’ve known you.”

I looked at her like she’d grown three heads. I’d lived with her for a significant amount of time, surely she’d heard me more than that. She disagreed and pointed out that she’d seen me play more in my videos than she ever had in person.

Of course, I found myself slightly embarrassed at the comment and it got me thinking. Why had I hidden it away for so long? All these years  I had waiting for an appropriate time, when I could have created those situations for myself. I had let fear win and rob me of great memories.

A few weeks later, I found myself sitting on the dock at my in-law’s pond. A guitar was placed in my hands and I fulfilled a small dream of mine as I sat there and played through some of my favorite songs. My mother in law walked by and gave me this proud-mother smile, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

 

brandyn blaze, embrace your song, playing guitar on the dock, small steps towards happiness, journey, growth

I could spend my whole life playing by the water and watching my daughter swim.

 

 

It’s a small step for sure, but it’s a step that will lead me further in my personal journey.

I’ve spent a lot of time on this blog blathering on about following your heart and being your true self, and yet I was still denying a large part of my soul. While I have always believed that there’s no such thing as bad art, somehow deep down I thought that didn’t apply to me.

Clearly, I have more work to do in order to let go of all of the insecurities that have held me back. Fear does nothing but steal our joy and hold us back from truly living. In order to live authentically, we have to be willing to open up and be vulnerable. We have to do things that scare us a little bit and learn to quiet that voice that tells us we’re not good enough, that we’re not ready, that things could go wrong. We have to run headlong towards our goals and embrace where we are at every stage of our development with pride.

So embrace your song, take a small step towards happiness, and stop hiding away!

With that said, I have recorded a new video and put it up on Youtube to share with you all and to mark this moment in my journey. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it!

 

 

Linked up at: Thinking Out Loud, No Rules Weekend Blog Hop 

The Uncanny Similarities Between Kids and Pets

Every now and then I run across a post imploring pet parents to stop comparing dogs to babies. I usually give a small chuckle, roll my eyes, and scroll on. Inevitably, about four seconds after I see such a post, one of my four kids needs something from me. I put the phone down, rush off to solve whatever problem they have, and wonder why so many people have this view.

 

pet parents, similarities between kids and pets, comparing dogs to babies, i love all my kids the same

My four kids.

 

I mean, I get it. Being a parent to a small child is a lot of work. As far as I can tell, kids are a walking self-destruct button and keeping them safe requires constant vigilance. Once you have a child, your entire life is centered around teaching them to be acceptable humans and keeping them alive. Parenthood comes with a lot of responsibility, but it also brings an overwhelming amount of love.

The thing is…stay with me…so do pets.

Now, I know this is an unpopular opinion, but as someone with one human child and three furbabies, I don’t see much difference. This is particularly true if you’re kids are still toddlers.

 

pet parents, similarities between kids and pets, comparing dogs to babies

Pictured: A fur-less dog.

 

Similarities between kids and pets.

  • You spend a great deal of time keeping them from eating non-food items.
  • You spend even more time finding food they’ll willingly eat. This is especially true if your furbaby is a cat.
  • If you want to get away for any length of time, you need to find a sitter.
  • Play dates are necessary.
  • They both destroy your property.
  • Finding a form of correction that works is a pain in the you-know-what.
  • The unbelievable sense of pride you feel when you finally teach them to obey a simple command.
  • They can’t always tell you what’s wrong.
  • You can’t help but smile when they fall asleep in your arms.
  • Bathtime can be a nightmare and results in more water on the floor than in the tub.
  • You have to clean up after they have an accident on your floor. (Potty training, anyone?)

Still not convinced? Here’s the biggest similarity between kids and pets:

You’ll do anything to keep them safe and healthy.

If you’re like me, you love your furbabies just as much as you love your own child. Keeping them fed, healthy, and safe consumes a large portion of your mind.

This is something that struck me when we acquired the newest member of our family, an adorable kitten named Cleo.

When we got her, she was a 9 week old ball of fur. Like any other kitten, she was full of energy. For the first few days, we watched with joy as she batted around her toy mice, hopped from one piece of furniture to another, and attempted to scale the blinds. We’d let her “fight” our hands and giggle as she pounced towards wiggling fingers. She’d play hard for awhile, and then she’d crawl into our laps, purring away as she settled in for a nap. In short, she acted as we all expect a curious kitten to act.

 

pet parents, similarities between kids and pets, my kitty is the best kitty

Cleo the Strong. Her hobbies include climbing into boxes, begging for your food, and giving snarky looks to the camera.

 

Then, a few days later, she was struck with a mysterious illness.

At night, we put her in the bathroom to keep her safe and to ensure she has easy access to food, water, and her litter box without the oldest critters taking over. We had brought her into our family on a Sunday night, and the following Saturday I woke up and went to the bathroom to check out her. She was sleeping quietly on her pillow, as usual, so I gently picked her up and brought her with me to finish her nap on the couch. She curled up on my lap and continued snoozing, just life as normal.

A few hours later, she was still sleeping. I couldn’t get her to really wake up. When I did, we couldn’t get her to stand. She’d just kind of flop over and cry. The few times she did take a couple steps, she was very unsteady and seemed to be in pain. We couldn’t get her to eat or drink, and we were certain she wasn’t going to make it.

Upon Googling her symptoms, we found that nearly every possible medical issue in cats listed these concerns. We called around until we found a vet who was open on weekends. We ran down her symptoms and the doctor advised us to keep an eye on her, and pretty much said it could be anything.

I spent the next few days feeding her canned cat food, sometimes mixed with pumpkin and water, with a baby spoon. We gave her water with a baby bottle. We administered lots of snuggles. Each day she improved a little more, and finally she was back to normal.

My guess is, this mystery illness was malnourishment or dehydration. Possibly constipation. Now that she’s better, she can get her shots and everything, and hopefully we won’t have to deal with anymore scares!

Now, I tell you all this not only to show how much work can go into being a pet parent, but to give the next example some context.

To further illustrate the similarities between pets and kids, look no further than my willingness to put my own medical issues on the backburner to protect one of my babies.

A few days after Cleo started getting better, she started to jump off the couch. Since she’d been having trouble with coordination, I was sure she was going to get hurt and I lept from my seat to save her, landing on my injured knee. Of course, my husband reminded me to take care of myself, but like all mothers, I put my young above myself.

If that isn’t love and devotion, what is?

So, what is the difference between pets and kids?

The only real difference I can see is that kids talk back, pets don’t.

Well, now that I think about it, my furbabies can be pretty sassy in their own right. They definitely have their own way of talking back. So, let’s try this again.

The only difference is the amount of money you have to spend.

That’s not to say that pets don’t cost a lot of money. There’s vet bills, food, toys, and whatnot. But, kids come with the need for clothes that they outgrow as soon as you buy them, more expensive toys, more food, fees for activities, school supplies, college tuition… Let’s face it, kids are money pits.

In the end, the biggest difference is simply breed.

I may get some flack for saying this, but I love all the members of my family equally. So go ahead and compare your dogs to babies. I won’t judge.

 

Linked up at: No Rules Weekend Blog Hop

 

 

 

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