Brandyn Blaze

Life Between The Scenes

Category: The Care And Feeding Of Creativity (page 1 of 5)

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 

Scrabble Writing Prompt and Short Story {Fun With Prompts}

 

If there’s two things I love, it’s writing prompts and a good game of Scrabble. Something about trying to fit words together brings a smile to my face like none other.

Of all my Scrabble opponents, my husband has to be my favorite. We’re pretty evenly matched with our vocabulary and, of course, he doesn’t mind if the only word I can make out of my tiles happens to be vulgar. So many of my treasured memories come from the nights where we just put on some music and pull out the Scrabble board.

So where do the writing prompts factor in?

Well, my husband and I have a tradition of jotting down all the words we play as the game goes on. Once the game is over, we take that list and each of us tries to write a story using all the Scrabble words.  It’s always so fun to see the different associations each of us form, and I love taking a moment to write something different from whatever project I’m working on.

For any of you writers who are looking for a challenge, I highly recommend this twist on a classic game! I think it would also work well as a fun family activity with children. You could even write the story together and pitch suggestions to one another. There are so many possibilities!

Today, I thought I’d share a list of words from a recent game and include a short piece of fiction I have written with this Scrabble writing prompt.

 

short story with scrabble words scrabble writing prompt

 

Scrabble Words:

Misty          Torn             Taint             Fat             Pleat

Trek             Hair              Hungry      Dijon         Old

Kiss              Shut             Raw             Queen       Self

Belt             Crawls         Neon           Vogue       Pricey

Belt             Evil                 Zip

 

The Short Story:

Her headlights cut through the misty darkness, lighting the way as she sped away. She could drive as fast as her little old car would allow, but she couldn’t outrace the memories. They clung to her heels, rubbing her raw. She wished she could zip that part of her mind closed. She didn’t have the strength to deal with it right now.

She wiped a tear away, cursing under her breath. She should have seen it coming. She should have sensed something off in his kiss. She shouldn’t be left to start over in the middle of the night.

With a heavy sigh, she cranked up the radio, hoping to drown out the thoughts that ran tired circles in her mind. A neon sign a few blocks ahead caught her eye, the call of the bottle promising comfort. If only momentarily.

She pulled into the lot, thankful to find it mostly empty. She didn’t have the strength for much socializing tonight. She just needed a good stiff drink. And maybe a nice, fat burger. When was the last time she’d eaten? She couldn’t remember, but she was definitely hungry now. That had to be a good sign. Soon she’d be rid of these evil little feelings.

She shut off the car, taking a moment to check her appearance in the rearview mirror before undoing her seat belt. She was far from looking like a beauty queen today, but at least her hair looked good. Her torn jacket certainly wasn’t in vogue, but she liked to think it added some character.

She chuckled softly as she climbed out of the car, smoothing the pleats in her skirt before hiking her purse up on her shoulder.  He’d always chided her self-depreciating banter, and it had lifted her spirits.

With a shake of her head, she pushed the thought away. Thinking about him was the last thing she needed to do.

She took a deep breath and began the short trek to the entrance of the bar. She needed to get him off of her mind before she lost it completely. There was a hotel up the road, she’d stop there next. Then she’d be back on the road. Maybe once she’d put enough distance between them it would all fade away.

She pushed through the doors and made her way to the bar, taking a seat towards the end. She examined the menu, suddenly wanting one of everything. She scanned the offerings quickly, thinking that this place was surprisingly pricey. She’d have to tighten up the purse strings tomorrow if she was going to make it very far.

The blonde woman behind the bar smiled warmly as she stepped in front of the customer, taking in the young woman with a mixture of curiosity and concern. The sad-looking  girl didn’t seem familiar and she wondered how she had stumbled upon this small town.

“Hi there, what can I do for ya?”

The younger girl looked up, pasting a smile on her face. “Is the grill still open?”

The bartender nodded. “For another hour,” she assured her.

She nodded. “I’ll take a bacon cheeseburger, fries on the side, and a bottle of Bud.”

The blonde took down the order. “Any sauce for your fries?”

The other girl screwed up her face. Normally she’d order ketchup for herself and dijon mustard for him. He’d always decline fries of his own, but would eat about half of hers. She shook her head. Would he always taint her thoughts?

“Just ketchup,” she replied, her voice strangled with emotion.

The bartender smiled once more. “Coming right up.”

 

***

 

I know, I know. It cuts off rather abruptly. Honestly, as I typed this up from the paper I’d scrawled it out on, I had to fight the urge to turn this into a 10 page piece. Unfortunately, longer bits like that don’t generally make for good blog posts. However, I just may expand on this in the future.

In the meantime, I would love to know what twists your family puts on traditional games! Tell me all about it in the comments below!

 

How Revamping A Dresser Changed My Outlook On Life

My basement and office are both full of random objects I’ve saved for future DIY projects. I tend to come up with ideas faster than I can complete them, and it’s turned into a bit of a hoarding situation. Lately, I’ve been motivated to complete as many of them as possible to free up space, especially since my husband and I have been kicking around the idea of moving out of state. I definitely don’t want to drag so much junk along with us!

Aside from the space saving benefits of finishing these projects, there is a sense of pride and accomplishment that comes from taking old junk and turning it into treasure. This is something I’m reminded of daily when I take clothes out a dresser I refurbished a couple summers ago.

Since I can never do anything without writing about it, I had posted the following piece on my old blog and I decided to share it with you today as it was originally posted on April 12, 2015.

***

Every now and then, I find myself battling envy as I’m confronted with photos of beautiful homes, expertly decorated with the latest trends. I look around my home and dream of the day when I can afford to choose the things I surround myself with. Nearly everything we own has been a curb find, thrift store bargain, or a hand-me-down. There is no “theme” to speak of in any room in our house and our worn-out furnishings serve as a constant reminder that we’re not quite there yet.

A few weeks ago, I was in one of these funks. For days all I could see was the negative. I was fixated on all the things that were wrong. All the dilapidated furniture, the leaky ceiling, the dryer that has to be run 3 times per load, the bills that are always stacking up…all of it was just eating away at me. I felt stuck. Trapped.

As I was wallowing in self-pity, I looked at my beat-up dresser and began to imagine what it would look like with a few modifications. Soon, the thought occurred to me to stop complaining and do something about it. We may not be able to buy new things, but we can certainly make the things we have better!

ugly white dresser, cheap refurbishing

 

I became fixated on this idea. Suddenly, the project took on a sense of urgency. The only thing that I needed to figure out was how much it would cost to get the necessary materials.

Luckily, I happened upon some adorable contact paper for a little less than $3 at Dollar General while I was picking up pull-ups for my daughter. I snatched it up immediately and began formulating my plan.

About a week later I picked up some blue spray paint and a small bottle of gray craft paint at Wal-Mart, bringing my project total to just under 10 dollars!

refurbishing a dresser cheap
I had Almost-Husband scrape off all the old, cracked wood veneer while I painted the knobs gray. While he was working on the top of the dresser, I spray painted the drawers. There was a little ridge around the drawers, so I taped that off before we sprayed it, then I painted it the same color as the knobs. Finally, we lined the drawers and top of the dresser with the contact paper.
Beautiful blue and gray dresser refurbish, diy project

 

It turned out even better than I had envisioned it! I finally have something in our home that I can be proud of!

So many good things came out of this simple project. I had a blast working alongside Almost-Husband while our daughter ran around the yard, and it was amazing to see one of my many ideas finally come to fruition. I had previously believed that I had no eye for design, but I managed to create something I love!

If I could take an eyesore like that and turn it into something beautiful, then I can do the same with anything in my life. Starting with all our run-down furniture! It may sound superficial at first, but I feel like surrounding ourselves with nice things will motivate us to keep working our way up. Each project we complete will serve as a reminder of what we are capable of and that if you put in the effort, you’ll see results.

Making do with what you have doesn’t have to mean settling!

 

Rethinking Your Schedule: Cut Stress and Find Your Path

I’m not sure if I’ve let you in on this before or not, but I love lists. Lists, schedules, file folders…I love to feel like I have everything together.

Lately, I’ve been trying the bullet journal thing, and I have to admit it’s made a huge difference. Keeping all my lists in one place and being able to combine my diary entries and daily planner has been a great move. However, this isn’t really what I want to talk about today. At least, not entirely.

Because of my love of a well-defined routine, I decided to set out my blog schedule for 15 months. The idea was to use the time between books to write a ton of posts and schedule them out, so that I wasn’t trying to juggle both parts of my writing life at once.

This worked well for awhile. At the beginning of the year, I wrote 15 or so posts and scheduled them out. I focused on my next book, and it ran like clockwork. Then I stopped writing posts to add to the queue. Now that my book is ready for release, I decided it was time to get out in front of the blog posts again.  Until I looked at my schedule.

A few of the ideas no longer felt like a good fit, and even more of them seemed too time consuming. I know I’ll get back to the “harder” ones once my brain has made the shift out of “book mode”, but it still highlights a very common struggle in my life: overestimating what I can do.

 

de-stress, get rid of stress, bullet journal, unclutter your mind, overestimate what you can do, relax

 

One of the things my bullet journal forced me to do was shorten my daily to-do lists. I have my progress trackers for long term goals: daily word count, exercise, guitar techniques I’m working on, and so on.  I also have longer lists of various projects I want to tackle and things I must do. This cuts down my daily to-do lists considerably, so that I can focus on two to four things I know need done.

Somehow, I stayed locked into my old blog plan, though, and it seemed to be causing me more grief than necessary.

Today, I was “supposed” to share a short story I’d been working on. Because I’ve been focusing on my impending book release, it obviously didn’t get finished. I still felt that I needed to put something out, so I started this post, hoping I would find something I wanted to say.

And I did.

After thinking about the stress my rigid schedule has caused, I decided to let go of it. Instead, I have a list of possible post ideas that I can pull from. I can still write them in bulk and schedule them out like I have been, but now there’s more room for new ideas. There is also more room to move things around as needed.

The other day, I posted on Facebook that despite the fact that nothing major had happened, I was feeling very blessed. Everything has been humming along rather smoothly lately and I am constantly amazed at how much love fills this house. I can’t help but think that this new shift in my prioritizing has had a big hand in that.

Instead of constantly thinking about all I have to do, I’m focusing on what I can do today. I’m giving myself permission to relax and to let go of the guilt I’ve always felt when I don’t check off every single item on my list. I do what I can and catch up the next day if I need to, which is a big change for me.

 

don't stress, relax, all i can do is all i can do, rethink your schedule

 

I’ve been putting a lot of emphasis on getting rid of stress and mental clutter lately, and I have to say, it feels great. I’ve also been trying to focus on using the inevitable stress we all feel to propel me into action, which is tough when you’ve always used it as a reason to avoid something.  Reminding myself that doing something now will cause less stress in the long run has really gone a long way.

And that’s the point I want to get at. Never stop looking for a better way. We weren’t meant to spend our lives stressed out to the max or pushing through things that bring us no joy. Sure, there are times we have to do things we don’t necessarily like (scrubbing toilets, anyone?), but we can always change our perception and focus on the payoff instead. And if there is no payoff? We can change our course.

 

less stress, relax, change your path, quote, thousand wrong roads

 

This journey has been incredibly eye-opening. Each and every day I am working towards building the life I had always dreamed of, and I know each one of you can do the same. The trick is to not get discouraged and keep trying new methods until you land on something that works. Don’t fret over what hasn’t worked, or things that have epically failed, just keep charging forward.

Two years ago, I would have told you my dream was to own my own home, to have a happy family, to write full-time, and have time for my music. Today, all of those things are a reality. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still some kinks to work out, and the steps towards those goals started many years before that, but we got here. Now it’s time to focus on the details to bring that picture into focus.

I wrote about dreams awhile back and how important it is to have a clear vision of what you want. I still believe that’s true. You need to know exactly where you want to go so that you can create a roadmap. However, sometimes the only way to figure out what you truly want is to start hacking away at the things you don’t want so that it can reveal itself. You also have to be prepared to take the scenic route and get lost a few times along the way.

Have you figured out where you want to go yet? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!

Older posts

© 2017 Brandyn Blaze

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑