reasons to play an instrument

 Music is to the ears what food is to the belly. Without the songs and their singers, who would I be? I struggle to even find an image in my head of a life without the instruments that line the hallway leading me home. It is here, in these strings, where I found my own reasons to love and live in this world of sun and shadow. In this banjo, there is a mountaintop. In this guitar, there is a garden. I could have lived an entire life without ever knowing how an instrument would sound when it met my hands, but now I know, and music has given me more reasons to celebrate than a prairie spring's homecoming.

It's never too late to become a music-maker, so I've decided to comprise a list for any of you who are looking for a reason to pick up an instrument and play. Let me know your reasons in the comments!

Reasons to play an instrument:
  • It brings you happiness.
  • Music is a field guide for navigating through life's deepest trenches. You can play your way through a bad mood or an aching heart.
  • It is a healthy coping mechanism.
  • You rarely live with boredom when you have an instrument to play.
  • In the land of music-making, time is never wasted because you're always on your way somewhere.
  • Your instrument can be your built in best friend. The chords will be with you at your worst, they will listen to you, they will calm you down and lift your sights to the sky when you need it most.
  • You can bring your instrument to parties or gatherings and entertain friends.
  • Your 'Fear Of Missing Out' dies on the vine whenever you decide to make music. If I had to say no to an event due to illness or other reasons, I can always pick up my banjo or guitar and watch the feeling of guilt wash away.
  • You'll make new friends by attending open mics and shows. There is something special about meeting other music-makers. Even if you have nothing else in common, music can be your bond and many life-long friendships are born this way.
  • Music does not discriminate. Whoever you are, wherever you may be, there is an instrument just waiting to be played by you.
  • Music is both a science and an art. This means you're truly exercising your brain while making the world a better place for you to live in. Playing can improve your memory, your coordination, and your ability to solve problems.
  • It is easier than it looks. Yes, it requires patience and you'll end up with blisters, but when you learn your first chord, soon after, you'll learn your second chord, then you'll go onto your third, and suddenly you'll have a song to play. I often hear people say "you're so lucky to play an instrument, I wish I did, I just never had the time." or "I own a guitar but I'd need lessons." Stop it. Being able to play will not happen overnight, very few things in life worth having arrive within one stretch of sunrise, but life is far too short to keep yourself from something you may love.
  • Music gives you a reason to wake up in the morning. I have had sad days where I rise after a night of sleep and all I want to do is stay in bed. I keep my banjo near my bedside and every time I see it, I feel like a big sunbeam just kissed my face.
Happy music-making!


always trust your cape

The woods are calling me like the sound of silence after a siren, or breakfast after a night of sleep. I dread staying in but the seasonal sniffle has entered through the front door of my home leaving me with body aches and an endless desire to lie flat in the bathtub. I want to run to the place where pine trees meet the stars and sit in the slowness that rests in every forest, but I must stay here and bathe here until I begin to feel better. I know when the clouds do part and the sun replaces the warmth of this fever, I will belong to springtime.

When you fall ill, there are very few things you can do. One of them is to rest in your bed while the day finds you paddling a lifeboat to shore. You keep taking in water with every cough but being a living and breathing thing — you keep fighting until you overcome the waves and find yourself on land again. As you begin, the land looks far away as if you're looking at it through a snow globe. Your arms get tired. Your heart thumps like a drum. You're so quick to forget why you desperately need the land for living. Surviving requires ambition and ambition can knock your knees blue before it sets you free. This is the way life has always been, but the fight can be magnified ten times the size whenever sickness comes creeping into your life. Sickness like heartache or failure brings with it lessons.

This one tells me that an ordinary day should never be called boring. I spend many of my days like a bare bed sheet, still and quiet even though my heart is that of a river, traveling and seeking what is unknown. I write of the forest, but I don't visit it whenever I want to. I speak of the wildfire that shows in my eyes if only somebody would look, but I wait for them to. I vow to rest today because my body tells me I will feel worse if I don't, so I listen.

Sometimes, I stop listening. How could that be? Even when the clouds part and I reach the shore where life meets metaphor, I should listen. In my listening, I will remember how troubled a day can be when one falls ill, how tiring the constant paddling for tomorrow can be, and how sweet the taste of reaching the fruits of your ambition are. If I am to belong in this world, I should make it a world for me by visiting the woods when they call, being less timid in sharing my stories or songs, and giving myself the freedom to realize how beautiful an ordinary day can be.

 outfit details: modcloth dress, mum's shoes & cape, carter's hat

keep on singing

 I learned to sing in the fields where raspberries grow and coyotes outrun cars. It is there where I learned to bandage my wounds and defeat those who tried to outrun me. I stood in a choir for years and it felt less like a place for singing birds and more like a place for sleeping crickets. I am not writing to say there is anything wrong with singing in a choir, but there is also nothing wrong with singing where the prairie meets the coulee or in the shower or to the baby who sleeps at your breast. Somewhere along the trail, for many of us, we meet at the crossroads of a society that tells us to quit singing and try our best to fit into a different box. If we were birds, sparrows would be asked for a chickadee's song and in doing so, the song of the sparrow would be thrown into the canyon. If we were trees, the evergreen would be asked for the oak's bark and in doing so, there would be no trees to fill the mountainside.

I believe singing should be an everyday activity - much like cooking your breakfast or reading a book, it exists to retrieve the sleeping parts inside of us all and to turn those parts into a wide-eyed life. If you took away my mother dancing as she vacuumed the house or silenced her from singing to her babies, I would have been born into a much smaller world. I am here and I am who I am because of her always letting the music within her come out. She sang and danced like the sun was always golden and the fields were made of music.

So, today as the clouds white as cotton float by and the hours of the day bring me closer to a beginning or an end, I will sing at least once. I will sing, not because I am being told to or because I have a song for others, but because it makes my heart grow in size. Whether the music within me is that of a magpie, a sparrow or the sweet-sounding chickadee, I will keep on singing.
outfit details: ankit headphones, thrifted shoes, oasap dress, crown & glory floral headband

this kind of adventure

I am sitting in the dimmest light from an old lamp while two dogs bark at the neighborhood squirrel. I have been endlessly busy adding check marks to calendar days and when I finally have a free moment, I'd rather be bubble-bath bound than anywhere else. I can say to you today that I am happy, food tastes good, smiling at my own thoughts, glad to be myself kind-of-happy. There was a long time in my youth when I felt like the sun was moving cattle, but now, I am spending my hours surrounded by music and daylight is welcomed like a kiss from the one who shares my bed.

If you asked me a year ago if I would ever taste this kind of adventure, the one which finds me singing to a sold-out crowd, I would have told you no matter how many eyelashes fall or candles get blown out, a dream is a dream is a dream is a dream. On Friday, I was the opening act for C's album release. As I sang, it felt like a hand was holding my hand and wings were being gently sewn into my bones. I had a moment - one of those you can only understand as you are experiencing it and I lost the everyday belief of being landlocked. It seemed to me that even if I had to cry enough salty tears to fill a sea in the past, it was worth it because it lead me here.

I don't know what tomorrow brings or how many moments in a lifetime will make me feel a happiness such as this, but I'll be relishing in the joy like I do when summer comes to grow sprouts into flowers. I will think about my luck during every bath and morning coffee. I will let this happiness drift through the floorboards and onto every table. It was a mighty February which brought me into a beautiful March. 

Alive and well? Yes I am.

outfit details: eddie bauer blouse, the bay lace boots