Isn't it lovely how much warmer the days are getting? If you live in the Midwest, particular the Ohio River Valley area, you might've noticed a slight change in the weather. If anything, you may have seen a few more people than usual out for an evening walk--it's wonderful how something as simple as warmer weather can truly be a mood-lifter.
I'm trying to find my way out of the Monday slump this morning as I watch the sunshine outside. Last night I had not one but two consecutive dreams about napping--I'm sure that puts my Monday in perspective for you.
The more work you pour into something you love, the more your project develops--and if you're passionate about something, one small step feels like a considerable milestone that persuades you to work even harder.
In the past few weeks I've experienced quite a bit of the above process: the give and take of dreaming up a dream. However, this weekend was a very memorable one...
For the fifth year in a row, I made the trip to Dayton, Ohio to play the Shoes4theShoeless annual Father/Daughter Soiree.
Shoes4theShoeless is an incredible grassroots organization that gives thousands of children in need new shoes and socks for their ever-growing feet. It's a lovely non-profit, and if you have a few minutes to browse their website and read up on their story, it will truly brighten your afternoon.
It's definitely an experience to play at a Father/Daughter dance---it's the only time of year in which I pull out all the chart-topper stops: Ed Sheeran, Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift, Shawn Mendes, and Grace Vanderwaal. *Note: if those names are unfamiliar with you, take a minute to ask a 10-13 year old what kind of music they're into*
Moreover, it's a stunning experience to listen to a room full of girls singing back every word of each song at the top of their lungs.
It has been such a privilege to be a part of this event for the past five years. Playing a singular event for that long puts a plethora of things in perspective....
Five years ago I was getting ready to release my second EP, "Someone Else's Eyes", a sort of folk-pop, feel-good collection of tunes.
Five years ago I was still in college, ecstatic about the opportunity to play a show in my hometown (as I still jump on any chance to play in Dayton these days).
Many things have changed and developed in the sense of my music, and this particular audience has witnessed that change first-hand. Thankfully, they've been nothing but ecstatic!
How often do you sit down to have a real conversation with someone?
It's difficult to put your experience in your perspective until you process it with someone else. Many have a hard time making true connections with our friends, family, and even strangers. Personally, I have to constantly keep myself in check; making sure to be intentional with my time, focused on checking in with my friends, and taking that extra minute with a new acquaintance to have a meaningful conversation.
Let me be frank: I am an introvert.
I thrive for one-on-one conversation, filled with insight, encouragement, and transparency, often fueled by a warm cup of coffee (baked goods are an added bonus).
I believe that it takes time to get to know someone, but that the time invested is well worth the effort. Everyone you meet has a fascinating autobiography, that you won't get to read unless it's shared through conversation.
At the dance I played this weekend, I got a matter of seconds to talk to a room full of people--some I have known for nearly five years through small exchanges in passing-by and for a few, many afternoons filled with conversation.
Do you have a collection of people you've known for years, but barely speak to?
Let me reiterate, I am introvert.
Base conversations, small talk, and surface level friendships are frustrating to me--I understand the purpose of them, but oftentimes, I find them difficult to carry out.
I am constantly struggling to find new ways to connect in a meaningful way and in a short amount of time--oftentimes within the few seconds I get to thank someone for supporting my music or in the brief minutes I have to meet someone during a live show.
What makes that small portion of a lifetime meaningful?
Merely taking the time to connect.
Here are a few goals I've conjured up over the past week....
Connect in your own way, on your own time.
This creates an organic, true interaction.
It may not even be a face to face conversation--if you find that you're partial to writing words, an e-mail may suffice to be more meaningful.
Make intentional, meaningful connections.
If there is a collection of people in your life that matter, be intentional about making them feel like the relationship you have is essential.
Take the extra few minutes to re-read the message you're about to send, or set time aside every week to make phone calls. I've found that preparing myself for an interaction results in a much purposeful, valuable time to cherish.
Take the challenge of uncovering new and fresh ways to grow in your relationships, especially with that intimate circle of close family and friends.
Don't just "keep in touch", stay in tune to what those around you are going through on a day-to-day basis. We draw so much of our insight from experience, but it becomes all the more meaningful when shared.