22. Checkpoint.

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Last week, I officially reached the age of 22 and reached a dreaded point of no return. (If you think that’s dramatic, just wait until you read the next couple of lines.)

A couple years back, with my best friend, we set a time limit for our goals/dreams, stating that by the time we reached 22, we should be at least x% there (with x not being 100, because that would have been unrealistic). More like a “best before” date where, if our goals were not met, our ability to achieve said dreams would just expire and we would simply die. Yes, die. Implode. Explode. Cease to exist, somehow. I know, a bit dramatic… But we were desperate for something to look forward to and the idea that in such a very near future we would be somewhat closer to our dreams, it was just that and more!

Now, it was a very reasonable goal that I set: to, at least, have the start of something on the way and at best, already be a little bit further. Rather vague, I’ll give you that, but that’s just how my plan-making works! Ha ha Anyways. Although it was reachable goals, providing us with a specific point in time to look at and work hard towards, it still had this ominous undertone basically implying that life would end if we didn’t even get to those mediocre levels before then. So, now that I think of it, that was probably responsible for a percentage of the pressure on my shoulders as I desperately tried to build up skills and make reality shift my way.

As I am typing this, you can tell that I am alive and have, indeed, reached the goal. In fact, I have exceeded my expectations! Which is quite a fucking relief because, if you know me, you know how deeply and intensely I care about things and especially the life thing, and I cannot imagine (i.e. I can exactly imagine) what would have happened had I not fallen into the place I am right now.

Looking back, you know, it’s always been a rollercoaster. There’s some v low lows, some lesser lows and some higher lows, yet through it all, I’ve always been going up, even as I spiraled down. And with this past year being what it was, my birthday felt like a checkpoint. Not just a new chapter, leaving the rest behind that thin new page, but a completely new book waiting to be filled. Now, I don’t know how many books have previously been put on the shelf, I can’t look, the amount of dust would make my asthma go ballistic. Right now, all I’m overwhelmed with is all the blank pages, all the fresh spaces and all the possibilities. The past is still here, realer than ever, but it’s old news.

My last four birthdays had each been a different shade of blue which left me feeling very apprehensive for this one and also, the bar wasn’t very high. I was hoping for the simplest of days possible. I wished for it to be just a regular Friday where I would do stuff in the morning, practice in the afternoon and go to the open mics in the evening. And, I’m happy to say it was just that: not extra but not fucking dark either. People were nice to me, I got cake, heard my mom’s voice and all went well. Unbelievable! Ha ha

I think I did cry at some point but I don’t remember now. I was, in fact, rather miserable all day long but that’s actually just the way it is. I turn into Eeyore on my birthday, each year. Don’t ask why, I’d just shrug and say I don’t know, although I do know (but the list is so long already and it keeps growing). But, yeah, despite the heaviness of it all, it was a decent birthday and the best I’ve had in a while (oh boy). And it’s nice now that the bar is so low because it can only mean that all the next ones will be better!

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To come back to the whole time limit drama, I think 18 year-old me would have been proud, to be honest. Back then, I couldn’t hold a tune, play a scale, write a song, travel alone for the sake of me, had never sang on a stage and was, to put it simply, a disastrous trainwreck with none of my issues under “control” (if acknowledged at all). All I had was a dream and hopes dangerously tied to a blinding despair.

Somehow, I survived all of these years through the storm and even the darkest of days where I had almost completely given up all. I guess I must have been sinking upwards, because the deeper I get, the brighter it keeps getting. *confused frown*

Point is, I have achieved so much in all of this short time!

Sure, the first three years and nine months showed rather slow progress, loads of regression actually, and painful growth.. It was a slow motion journey, dragging my weary bones all the way to where I am now. But the last three months of this journey were packed with progress, light, love, hope, confidence and my reborn fire. I swear, during these four years (could these be the content of the book I was mentioning earlier? would make sense!), the most progress I made was in July, August and September this year, all the way to today when I am writing this in my cosy bedroom.

I am not very sure how, but I managed to cram all the hard work that should have been slowly spread out over those years in three months. It was crazy how it all happened. But I’m glad it did now because I didn’t die. And I am living my best days, blooming a little more every minute into the person that I was made to be and connecting with all types of beautiful souls.

So, yeah… I am 22 now. Things are indeed on the way (and even maybe a little bit further than that). I am alive and well. Fire is burning real hard, I have all the fear and light to fuel it. My progress has been saved and from this point on, it’s only hmmm…. Sideways! It’s only sideways we go! (screw “up”)

This post is nothing like I wanted it to be, but you know what? I don’t give a asdfghjkl because, as it turns out, I am more focused on working hard right now and welcoming all that’s to come to care about what was and has been. Like I said, checkpoint has been passed, progress has been saved, my past isn’t going anywhere. As a matter of fact, it’s not going anywhere without me and, like my trustworthy sidekick it’ll always be right over my shoulder when I look back. So, no worries, you know I will be writing letters to my past again. can’tletgo

Nothing like a checkpoint to give you just enough confidence and fearlessness to run through the rest of a level like the mad man that you are.

Until next post, keep running! ❤

P.S.: I almost forgot, but last Thursday was Nostrum’s birthday! Our first year together!!! 🙂

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Vulnerability & free pints

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I wrote two songs on Wednesday and boy, am I proud of them. They really managed to bring out some deep feelings/fears/hopes, and I think that’s mostly because they’ve been sitting drafts for six months now. I hope to be able to share them with you in the near future 😉

Sometimes, certain ideas/thoughts need to marinate before they can bloom into anything shareable, I must let them steep in flavors before I can cook them. And there’s just no other way, I can try and push them, but it won’t happen unless their heart is ready to beat.

These two did their time and even though I knew I would finish them this week, I was still surprised when it happened.

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Last week, I could hear them call out to me. Like ghosts, haunting me, in every corner of my mind, I’d hear their echoes, I’d see their colors, I’d feel them taking shape under my skin, boiling in my blood. And so when I sat down on Wednesday, they simply poured right out of me. I was overwhelmed as I looked at the small crumpled piece of paper that barely managed to hold these two freshly reopened wounds. But above everything, I was beyond excited to share them.

So, on Friday night, I was eager to play them live for the first time to a small crowd at the Haven open mic. Although my throat was very dry (despite my religiously drinking my mandarin peel infusion, but I’ll blame it on my nervousness) and breath support was barely happening, my performance was fine. Exceptionally emotional. My voice was struggling to get out there and stay on track, but I had these emotions coming pouring out of me that I almost cried on the second song. And it hit me that the wounds had never closed.

That second song I performed is called A different ending and is about dreadful separations, losing friends, love… But it’s not just hopelessness, there’s also a painful hopefulness deeply tied to the despair.

It took all these months for the song to tell me what it was aching for me to sing. At first I thought it was going to be simple, but then, when I was finishing it, writing those last lines, I found out that it was actually a song about my lost friend(s). And so much more. But, when I recorded it raw to give my close friends a listen, I was fine. So I did not expect me to break down while performing it. And boy, was that foolish of me.

There were sparks as I sang it but I guess I didn’t get it yet. When I performed it that night, I almost choked on my own heart as it was imploding with emotions. And as I was holding back the tears and keeping on singing, I realized I wasn’t over it. I mean, me, getting over something? Ha, ha! I knew I wasn’t but I thought, maybe, just maybe the pain had left, at least… And, as I have always preached, sharing the art is what truly gives life to it. A different ending came to life in the Haven, left the room silent and made the cracks on my heart glow again.

Anyways. I don’t really want to linger on and on on this. What I really wanted to write about is this vulnerability that I’ve been feeling very intensely lately! Which, I’d like to emphasize, is not a bad thing at all.

It’s no surprise if I tell you that going up on a stage, to do anything at all, can be a nerve-wracking experience. Although, usually, once you start, it gets better as you realize instant death under the audience’s gaze was only a spooky pipe dream. And even if you’re not super comfortable you realize you can survive it and if you’ve been blessed with bad eyesight (like the me) you might not even see the people in the room, and maybe for a split second you’ll tell yourself you could definitely do that again. It ain’t that bad. You might not like it, but at least you’ll know that it’ll take more than a room full of blurry people to take you down.

The real vulnerability I’m pointing my finger at right now though, is the one that comes with climbing on that stage with all your guts exposed and a screen on your chest. With my many (lolzor) years of theater in high-school/university, I’ve met people for whom a show is just that, a show, you know a persona, it’s all pretend. But I’ve never been that way. I like things to feel real, to be real and so I’ve always made a point to be honest in all I do. Well, at least in my art.

The closest experience I’ve ever had to what happened on Friday was during my last year of high school, when I played Ophelia from Hamlet, and went full-blown tragedy. That shit was intense when I played it for my final exam, I could feel all the feelings burning right through me. And all of it was real. We were the same person every time I would get up on a stage to play my scene and with time, we grew closer and closer. And the thing is that, with songs, it’s even worse..

Being on a stage already puts you in a vulnerable position, we got that. However, when you bring with you your very own songs, which you wrote with whatever came out first, tears, blood or whatever fueled your riffs, it’s even greater than simple vulnerability could describe it. Because these songs are made of you, it’s not just your vision of something else, it’s literally you (& more). And having to play these, especially when they reach as deep as A Different Ending and Find Me do, is…. Something else.

It is some type of bittersweet terror, I’d say. I put my all in these songs, not just energy and time, but also heart and I’m pretty sure parts of my soul end up in everything I make as well. They reached really deep into me (and I am learning, wishing, to go even deeper). And as much as I was dying to share them so I could breathe life into them and feel them fully, there was also this fear.

The last time I had to play a freshly written song live was with This Isn’t Me back in summer. But I didn’t apprehend it as much because this song, although being made of raw feelings of then, was not as deep. This time, though, I knew it would be different because these two new songs are actually me plucking my heart’s strings and the sounds it makes are hauntingly sincere. And, I swear, standing up in front of eight or twenty people, pouring your very heart out, takes more strength than you could imagine.

I would very much like to keep going because I still have loads of thoughts to share, but I have to cut this “short” now since I’d like to spend some time on my guitar (and theory books aaaaah) and if time allows it, maybe paint a thing or two. So, I will just add one more thing and then I will release your eyes.

All of Friday evening, apart from the emerging sadness after my performance, I was thinking about the reason why. Because I’ve felt many different things these past few weeks and sometimes I got discouraged and sincerely asked myself, what on earth is the point of all of this? And as I sat down and listened to these beautiful souls sharing their songs, I looked around me and within, and I just knew. That’s what we do.

We feel things intensely. We see things differently. And we morph them into bridges from reality to surreality or mirrors in which each can find their own truths and never be wrong. We turn ramblings of our souls into songs and nothing can compare to the cries of your heart echoing in someone else’s and feeling a whole room breathe to the beat of your pain & joy.

I refuse to let anyone, not even myself, ever try to convince me that art is pointless and life is meaningless. Because art fuels souls and the light each of us tiny stars emit keeps the Universe alive. And if it wasn’t for all of these passionate specks of dust, then there would be nothing.  You try and imagine a world without music, without colors or love. It’s everywhere and cannot be erased.

And that is why we were all in that room on Friday night. And that is why I kept on singing when I doubted. And it is why I won’t ever stop. 

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At the Brù on Monday

Summer blew me away..

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First of all, I know it’s a little late to be doing this, but, believe me, I tried! The truth is that summer did in fact get the best of me… Those two months have got to be the longest summer I’ve ever survived. I am not just talking about the soul-melting sunshine but also my super duper long days with the kids being off school. Loads of things happened, in & out, and now’s the time for me to look back and see the bigger picture! But I’ll make this really short cos I just wanna move on tbh

 

To be completely honest, the best thing that happened to me this summer was meeting my dear friend Maria!

She took me on all those cool adventures and we shared some beautiful moments together, from the simple walks in the park to the mesmerizing cliffs of Moher and the Blarney castle. Seeing her face every Monday night in the Brù bar’s small crowd, listening to me pour my heart out while struggling on the guitar, was the best feeling. She brought me light, strength, confidence, smiles and actual good memories! And now, it’s been six days since she’s gone back to Italy and I miss her so much. ❤ It’s hard to adjust to not having her around anymore…

Then, of course, the real big thing that happened this summer– no. The greatest thing that I made happen, was the 11 live performances and all the good things that came from them!

I tried my best to go as many open mics as I could. Sadly, I didn’t make it to every. single. one. of them! Which was really my goal for the summer. But my pushing myself a little too hard in a social life that I had never been used to was not a good idea, and my anxiety made sure to rise up just to slap me in the face & back into a chill place. I had to take a full week off music and social stuff so I could take a few steps back, let go of the pressure and remember the reasons why.

The real magic thing with the open mics is that by just being in the right place I was doing the right thing. That’s literally the one thing I’ve always been doing wrong my whole life, never going to the place. And so, even on the first night I went, things happened. And the more I went, the more doors unlocked. I’m not just talking about me getting better at everything and more confident; although that is a thing as well! I’m talking about the people!

I’m having more and more people come up to me after a performance to tell me how they really enjoyed my songs, following me on social medias or simply coming back to hear me again. And this is all surreal, you know? The best part actually is to have those really cool talented musicians telling me how good they think I am and some even wanting to work together. The feedback has just been so positive and encouraging. I’m shook.

And that’s really been the main things of this summer. There’s been more but now that I look back I realize that they weren’t as important as they felt in the moment. And then, there’s been crazy stuff as well which I might share later on or maybe in a song some day haha

So, summer’s been long and draining. Lack of free time + 7/11 right-handed performances almost got the best of me; I’m lucky I didn’t fully lose my mind! Ha ha And it’s brought so much light and so much good!

Now, I’m  very excited about all that’s to come. I’ve met a new musician last week at the Brù, Billy. He’s an awesome guitarist and we’re working on stuff together now, and soon, we’ll blow your brains away. Gently. Look forward to it, this might be the start of something bigger!

And there we go! A short enough post to remember this past summer and now we can finally keep moving on. My brain is buzzing with ideas and I can barely contain myself. I’d say this is all going pretty okay for me! Can’t wait to share the new songs!

Until next post, remember that sometimes, it’s as simple as it gets: show up, and things will happen! ❤

Dry Mouth (Original Song)

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Here’s a song I wrote a couple of weeks ago about not being able to write songs:

My voice had some trouble coming out (you should have heard me warming up… a disaster! hehe) and my fingers had forgotten how to dance, but in my opinion, this is still pretty decent. Especially with the huge lack of practice + unhealthy amount of caffeine in my body!

I will be recording a better video next week, but for now that’ll be it! I’ve just been dying to share it, and after those long four days of break, I was bursting to share it.

The ending still needs some work. Which, of course, you can’t really tell since I mess it up in this video, haha! But overall, I think this is a really good song. I love the melody and how the chorus picks up.

I think it accurately describes my frustration and this longing… I just want to create but, sometimes it just won’t happen, and it kills me because this is how I breathe. And like I have mentioned, I do have loads of song ideas, drafts and things to say; but it won’t come out.

And I think it is funny how this song literally dropped out of my mouth while I was crying about not being able to finish the others. It’s almost the exact same story as when I wrote Dead Pen a couple of years back!

Round in circles…

Anyways, I don’t have time to chat right now! I must work on my Italian now and then finish working on special presents for E!

Here are the words that did come out:

It’s not that I don’t have anything to say
It’s just that my words have left me
It’s not that my heart isn’t broken
It’s just that my mouth is dry

I’ve been waiting for so long
For the words to fall right out
But my guts refuse to bleed
So I’ll just have to wait here

I hear my voice but I don’t know who she is
I write down words but they mean nothing to me
I stab my own heart but the blood it won’t come out
It’s just like my soul is dry

I’ve been waiting for so long
For my hands to dance freely
My fingers refuse to bleed
So I’ll just have to wait…

I’ll wait forever if I have to
It’s nothing without me, I’m nothing without this
I’ll wait…
I just don’t wanna fade..

I’ve been waiting for so long
For my voice to burst right out
But my heart it just won’t show
So I’ll just have to wait.

“Don’t beat the dreams out of you”

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There’s so much I want to do, big things I want to achieve and I do realize that the only way to get there is to work and work hard. And you know what they say, with great dreams come great… frustration. Yes.

I’ve been prey to frustration for a while now so I’ve learned to work through it and I’ve got my ways to cope with it and overcome it. But these first three months have brought me a big wave which I wasn’t expecting, me being a hopeful cookie at the start of this new year, and it got me down a bit. And so, I’m writing this post as a reminder…

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I always hear people telling me “I’m being hard on myself” and I’m always like “uhh, no?…” I see where they’re coming from, and from their perspective, sure, it kinda seems like it. But from my perspective, I could use some more self-discipline! It’s just because I’m setting the bar high and I can’t be satisfied until I reach it (SPOILER: hasn’t happened yet) and go beyond.

I’ve got big goals, big dreams. And the frustration comes from the fact that, in all the bigness of ‘my life as I intend it to be‘, I am so small. I’m barely getting started and I’m only taking baby steps. Even my big steps end up feeling like baby steps when I look back. And that’s frustrating because I can’t seem to move as fast as I would like to.

That is not a good thing because I usually end up turning that frustration into a stick to beat myself with. Well, that sounds weird!.. But what I mean is that I end up getting mad at myself, or just intensely disappointed whenever I feel like I didn’t work hard enough on everything. Which is pretty much everyday lately.

And that also leads me to feeling unworthy of things like a movie or a little snooze in the morning. Because of the whole work/reward thing, you know? My brain is very good deed-treat orientated. You gotta deserve your fun, you know what I mean? As much as I think that’s the way to go, that is not okay and I’m working on getting back the right balance of discipline and necessary down time.

Anyway.

The thing is that, I’m trying. And I am working. Maybe not as much as I’d like, because I can get lazy or distracted, I run out of time, of energy, etc. (Or I get sick or it snows all of the sudden and we’re all locked in the house. Ah, life and its many surprises. I’m still not over it… >w<) But I am working. So I gotta stop saying and thinking “I didn’t do anything at all this week” because I did. And I have proof.

I have an “action tracker” in my bujo which is basically here to track what I do. There are many things in here like some skills I’m trying to develop (left-handedness or Italian for example), habits I’m trying to EX-TER-MI-NATE (like snoozing or endlessly scrolling down my social media feeds) or vastly decrease (my chocolate and dairy intake… 😦 for the sake of my voice!), or things that I know I gotta do to keep healthy (working out and socializing HAHAHAHAHA). And, of course, I track my investment in my big pillars. They’re the ones right at the top of the page. Guitar, music theory, voice, sight reading and art.

Side note: I also track my interactions with my family. Just to point out how terrible a sister/daughter I am. Lolzor

And so, last night I was just about to beat myself up once more until I opened my tracker and looked at it as I was filling it for the day. Yesterday, I knew that I was wasting my time, just fooling around and did not work on the things I had planned seriously enough. But when I looked at my tracker, it made me realized, I did something. And I’ve been doing things, even when I feel like I didn’t do anything. Because, I have such high standards and such violent dreams that I’ve started to see whatever is under a certain amount of work as NOTHING.

And that, my friends, is some big fucking bullshit and it has to be stopped.

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I posted this picture of my tracker on my Instagram last night as my thoughts merged into yet another reminder to celebrate every victory. I’m pretty sure I’ve written a post about that already (HERE).

No matter how small a victory might seem, it’s still a victory and, in fact, it’s always bigger than you imagine. Baby steps are still steps. At least you’re trying, and at least you’re moving, even if slower than you’d like. It’s still progress. And that is something. Because some people only spend their life dreaming and wishing. And you, even if you’re not the Usain Bolt of dreamers-achievers, are moving closer to those goals of yours by the hour.

Back in December, I had a quote right next to my tracker to remind me that success is indeed found in the act. It might not have felt like much but my tracker shows I’ve actually been doing something. It wasn’t much but it sure wasn’t nothing either. The quote is from one of Robin Clonts’ painting videos when she speaks about the book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Monson and how it helped her. I think you should watch that video by the way, because it touches the subjects of perfectionism and failure and has really nice advice in it!!

Use action as [your] motivator. And find success in the simple act of creating.

It gets hard sometimes. I know. It can get really dark too and frustrating. And sometimes you might even feel like giving up, no matter how much the thing you’re working for matters to you. But I’m here to tell you, don’t put so much pressure on yourself or you’ll get burned. You’re only human. Sometimes it’s hard to find enough energy to work as hard as your hope-filled mind dreams of. Sometimes emotions take over or life gets in the way. You can’t always be 200%. Don’t expect all your days to be filled with intense work and so much sweat you’d drown in it. Because they won’t. And they don’t have to be.

Progress is a process. And it’s fine sometimes, especially when you’re still at the start of your journey, to go slow and take small steps. I know it’s hard and frustrating, we all want to be super good at it already. But it doesn’t work like that. The key is perseverance. Keep at it. And don’t let go. Some days will be more productive than others. Just don’t lose hope and don’t lose sight of that bright horizon. Keep swimming towards it.

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It’s more than okay to have high standards (and only people with low standards will tell you otherwise… like, no, don’t aim too high because I don’t so why should you? Screw that and aim over the moon if that’s high enough for you.). But don’t beat yourself up too much. A little kick in the ass goes a long way. But you’re still human and you can’t expect yourself to keep working on something if it only brings more struggle and negativity in your life. Know that it’s okay to rest and okay to take a break. And remember to celebrate every step because, big or small, they are all part of the journey that leads you to wherever that is you wanna be.

Don’t lose hope and remember what you’re fighting for and why you’re fighting for it. Don’t lose sight of the goal but don’t lose sight of the flame inside either. The second worse thing you can do, the first being giving up, is let your journey to turning your dreams into reality become a hassle and a must-do, have-to, self-torture one. It is not easy but make sure it is still enjoyable. Because you’re doing it out of passion not obligation.

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“Keep your feet in the clouds”

Self-discipline is required. But don’t beat the dreams out of you. Make sure you have a healthy relationship with yourself and your work. Keep your body healthy, keep your mind sane enough and then do as much as you can but don’t drain your own spirit. Don’t let frustration take the good away from you.

This post is more for me than for anyone else. Really just speaking to myself. But I’m sure some of you needed to read that anyway. If you did, don’t thank me, thank yourself. And feel free to share your frustration in the comments (nobody will read them anyways hahahah jk).

Until next post, embrace the baby steps! ❤

P.S.: here’s my Facebook profile picture from when I was 16 with the quote that accompanied it (followed by a “Until my fingers bleed <3” haha cute

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“Get frustrated, cry… Then pick it back up and prove to yourself that you can do it anyway!” – Lzzy Hale

Nostrum is 3 months old!

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…And, sadly, this is how she spent the day:

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I woke up with some tension in my right arm this morning and rather than being bold and pushing through the soreness, I made the responsible choice of not touching the guitar at all today. Which was terrible and rendered me under-productive on this merry day! I wish we could’ve had some nice jam time together to celebrate our three months together, but it was for the best…

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Spending my day with the brace on my right wrist brought back some memories of 2016 with Glitch and so much bullshit. I remembered the struggle and I tried my best to be brave through it, and patient. I had my muscle relaxing oil, my special cream, my ice patch and my snuggly Emily around to care for me. Although it did get me very frustrated now and then, I frowned a lot but did not cry, and I had a lovely day with the kids.

I’m not gonna lie, it is super hard to try and force my brain to use mostly my left hand in these situations. Although I have been lately incorporating more and more left-hand activities in my daily life in order to actually become ambidextrous (and avoid any more days like these due to overworking my right hand/arm)… It does not make it easier. Because there is the factor of constraint involved and that makes it harder on me. But anywhoooo, I made it through the day, huh?!

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Mid hide&seek selfie

I still got to work a bit on a DIY cardboard shelf I’m making to gain space in my tiny bedroom(yes, I’ll post about it later on haha). And, after I’m done with this post, I’m going to to do some online Italian/music theory exercises (that won’t involve my right hand) or maybe even do some more left-handed writing if my eyes aren’t too tired. I played some cool games this evening with the kids and we had a very smooth transition to bedtime and they’re sound asleep now. It is my second night babysitting in a row but I’m not complaining; we love each other and it’s always a good time!

Today was a bit of a bummer because I’m dying for hard work right now and there’s always something, and I end up working way less than I intend to! But I should definitely celebrate all my progress and most importantly, celebrate having the exact guitar that I wanted by my side in this moment. She’s a beauty & she’s mine!

It’s hard to believe that she is here with me but, once again, this is fact not fiction and g*d does it feel so good! We’re making progress, step by step, we’ll get there! And I’m happy I have her because, even on days where I don’t play at all, Nostrum keeps me company and just like a good friend, even in the silence, my heart she tends. It’s weird but it’s real.

Happy birthday my dear Nostrum! And here’s to more existence together! ❤

(I’m super tired now, might as well just post this and hop into bed, rest that arm some more! I’ll get work done tomorrow!)