All I Want For Christmas

 It’s a perfect 68 degrees in Austin right now and my Christmas tree looks strangely out of place next to my T-shirt, open window and the palm tree outside of it.  After several years in Texas I guess a part of me is still not used to the holidays without snow or fully adapted to some of the changes in my life that seem to be more apparent with the season.  Still etched in my brainfamily-at-radio-christmas-1920s is the idea of a cold, white Christmas snuggled up by a fire, wearing ridiculously colored fuzzy socks and rolling my eyes at my family’s idiosyncrasies while we smile and laugh gaily over some festive drink like Bailey’s on the rocks or spiced wine.  I’m not really sure where the image in my head comes from as my holidays growing up were a vast array of different experiences, mostly not resembling that.

Some of them were lavish parties at my grandparents house involving a 12 foot table overflowing with food, over 200 people speaking blends of Turkish, Greek and English, roller skating and ping-pong in the basement and a drawer of silk nightgowns to choose from before sleepily tracing the wallpaper with my finger in “The Blue Room” as I drifted off to sleep.  Some of the holidays were spent with my immediate family exchanging glances with my sister in squirmy silence as Dad read bible passages and stated that, despite the mountain of beautifully wrapped boxes already under the tree, it may be ungodly for us to give gifts at Christmas.  Awkward.

FullSizeRender (7)I’ve spent holidays alone with my dog eating pastries and drinking wine, with strangers and in complete misery because I can’t handle one more football game, holidays with other peoples families when I wasn’t welcome with my own, holidays drunk in a bar because my boyfriend was “asleep” with a naked girl all over him and really the list goes on.  Yet every year the magic of the season washes over me and I feel excitement and hope bubbling up.  The Buddha next to my Christmas tree displays just how much I disregard convention and this year as the end of the season approached I found myself wishing for just a few things and hungry to create my own unorthodox traditions.  Instead of the fictitious picture I held in my head for so long of what Holidays should be, I allowed myself to open up to the possibilities of what they could be. 

This year I wished to be surrounded by people I love.  I wished to open just one gift without thought of what it would be, because after all the best part is unwrapping the present.  Lastly, I wished for some surprise happy event–a Christmas miracle.  Sure it’s cheesy, but cheese is delicious and when you look for the magic in life, it magically appears.  I’m taking my first trip home for Christmas in over 5 years which is sure to be an adventure and to this day being around my family is like a situation comedy that will no doubt provide some great stories!  I’mtwo-wine-glasses-christmas-fireplace-merry-christmas-hd-wallpaper looking forward to the chilly Northeast weather, to spoiling my niece and nephew that have grown like bamboo shoots, hugging my mama and bonding with my sister.  People I love?  Check.  Present?  Maybe.  Christmas miracle?  Stay tuned, there just may even be some Bailey’s on the rocks or spiced wine.

This Moment Is Your Life

work.3186256.2.flat,550x550,075,f.who-owns-those-boots-beneath-the-bed-where-my-old-boots-should-be-v-2-close-up-detailFor most my life I’ve been a bit of a loner.  Ok, more than a bit of one.  I was home-schooled and drifted in and out of friend circles never really feeling like I belonged, but as response and a survival mechanism I learned to adapt very quickly and became a sort of chameleon.  I’ve always had this feeling of “passing through” like some old cowboy in the wild west who hangs up his dusty boots for a night or two, falls in love with a parlor girl or town harlot, but then is called away on some bigger journey.

I’ve always felt a pull toward something greater.  Greater than what?  Greater than wherever I am right now.  It’s not that I’m discontent and in fact most people consider me one of the happiest people they know and I appreciate the simple things in life.  That said, I do not strive for the simple life in the sense of planting crops (which I have done) or making clothes from the cotton in my neighbors field that I bartered for milk from my goat that my five children then churned into butter and cheese to sell at the fair. 

19594My aspirations lie somewhere between the earth and the sky, gently suspended between possible and impossible and I suspect that I will always, no matter where I am in life, feel this pull for something greater, bigger and more.  I think this desire must reside in others because I see the movies that become popular and the music that floods the airwaves and all of it has the capacity to make one feel larger than life.  Yachts, black AMEX, private jets and all sorts of other material things have infiltrated music, but I think what people are really grasping onto is this sense of freedom, being limitless and true loss of inhibition.  Living for happiness as opposed to obligation and other peoples expectation–fun!  That’s why people are so in love with music and musicians, because the really amazing ones are doing it because they love it and others feel that love.  Everything is energy and permeates everything else so when someone is really showing love for something, you can’t help but feel it and respond. 

unnamedWe inherited a lot of damage and warped traditions from past generations but there comes a point where I realized the past doesn’t exist anymore.  As cliche as it might sound, right here, right now, is really all you have.  The past isn’t real.  The future doesn’t exist yet.  Right now, this table, the Champagne on my lips, the french fries with mustard on my tongue and the keys beneath my fingers, these are real.  The group of cute, nerdy foreign guys next to me, that’s real.  The exhausted waiter that is working overtime on Thanksgiving.  What do I do with this moment?  I milk it for all it’s worth.

It’s Thanksgiving, I love the holidays so much and I am so grateful for right now.  I’m not with my blood family, my evening didn’t go exactly as planned, but I just shared an authentic smile with the guy clearing my table, these fries are satisfying my inner fat kid on a level I can’t explain and somehow deep inside I’m overtaken with joy.  I’m still searching, still smiling and still soaking it all up. 

Perfection or Kismet

For a long time I felt that I was just too flawed to have a relationship.  I thought that I would figure myself out first and then after I had eradicated or repaired every last bit of damage and become wildly successful, then I would be ready and someone would magically enter my life at the exact right time and he would think “look how brilliantly flawless she is.”  Kismet.  Well a girl’s got needs so a few years ago after a casual interaction developed into more, I started to realize how exhausting it was to be flawless.  Trying to find ways to pee quieter or, god forbid go “number 2.” Trying to mentally preprogram not farting in my sleep before going to bed, making sure I was dressed just right for the occasion and that I had my “sexy panties” on, that my apartment was clean, that I woke up first in case my 4&1/2 pound Chihuahua had an accident or to use mouthwash in case he kissed me.  Making sure that I was clean shaven, that my Greek thighs hadn’t gotten out of control… someone shoot me now.  Just writing this paragraph is stressing me out.

I mean the level of neurosis was  overboard. Freud would tell me it’s childhood trauma, Christians would tell me I needed Jesus (lucky for me I “accepted” him when I was a kid.  Score, in the bag!) and Chelsea Handler would tell me I need Belvedere and a Xanax and while all of those were probably valid, I knew none of them would help me with the big problem I was facing–I was not perfect yet.  Like a turkey whose little white plastic temperature gauge hadn’t popped I wasn’t ready, but I didn’t seem to be getting any closer either.


I tried swearing off men, that didn’t work.  I tried dating casually, that didn’t work either and then, I fell in love.  It was beautiful and magical and we made out on bridges like the movies.  I knew I wasn’t perfect yet but when I was with him it felt like I was.  Like we were so perfect together that it made up for my imperfection.  Well life got in the way for Prince Charming and I, the fairytale poofed into thin air like Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage.  There I was again, trying to figure out what it was about me that needed to change and improve to be ready for love.  Was it because my pedicure was chipped?


Happy to come to the realization that was not the cause, I looked around and realized there were flawed people all around me in relationships.  Now most of them weren’t the type of relationships I wanted to be in and one person or both seemed to be dissatisfied with their current situation so that brought the next question; are we all just flawed people destined to be in unsatisfying, flawed relationships? 

No.  We are all perfect in our uniqueness and destined to be in the perfect relationships for us at the perfect time.  Every relationship I have had gave me exactly what I needed at the moment and either provided some type of contrast that clarified what I really wanted or granted me a hell of a story to put into my music.  I see how fortunate I am to be in my profession as it’s the only one I know of that turns heartbreak into *ching* and bling.  


Through my explorations in dating I realized I didn’t need Prince Charming like every chick flick taught me I did, but also that I wasn’t as bat shit crazy and mangled as I thought I was.  I was just a normal girl and this is life.  There is no waiting and preparing for love or success or destiny, this is it.  Part of the beauty of our experiences is that they don’t last and perfection is what’s happening around us right now.  My life is perfect.  I am perfect.  Everything I do or do not do is perfect for me and occurring in perfect time.  Does that mean I don’t occasionally worry about things?  That I always feel good about my body and that my stomach doesn’t still jump when I get a text from a certain someone?  Hell no, but it means realizing that there are no holes in me to fill.   Like I had lived the last 5 minutes of Pinocchio and become a real girl, I felt all the pressure slip away and said to myself “I think I’m ready now.”

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1, 2, 3…Tinder! or Mama Takes New Jersey

Despite her gorgeous hourglass figure, youthfulness and spritely face, my mother turned 60 this year.  After her divorce 2 years ago–which was actually a really great thing for everyone involved–she had settled into her own condo, a job and had transitioned from 30 some years of wife and mother to full blown independent woman.  Hooked on personal development podcasts and optimism, she had let herself be talked into joining Tinder by my sister and I.  “It’s like shopping,” I told her comparing it to her favorite pastime to ease the apprehension of online dating.  “You can just window shop and then if you like someone, you decide if you want to talk to them.”  After a few days of dramatization over every swipe and message,


she was chatting with several men and back in the game!

At my consistent urging that she “be a hussy” (which for someone who had only slept with one man ever might involve one french kiss by the end of the year) she extended the age range of prospects to include 40-somethings.


One afternoon I get a call from her that a man–let’s call him Maurice–who she had been talking with regularly on the phone, wants her drive to the Jersey Shore and spend the weekend with him at the beach for their very first rendezvous.  “I mean it’s 3 hours away and I’m tired.”  Her voice held an excitement I hadn’t heard in a long time as she waited for the verbal thumbs up I knew she had called me for.  While personally I probably wouldn’t have driven 3 hours without meeting someone first, I couldn’t deflate the hope that was alive in her once again.  With one word of affirmation from my lips she all but hung up on me “ok well I have to go pack and get on the road!”


I stood looking around the room for a moment and then dialed my sister.  “Um, I just told mom to drive 3 hours to stay with a guy she’s never met from Tinder…that’s ok right?  Like, she’ll be fine and everything?”  We both uneasily made our way toward feeling good about it and covered all the necessary precautions including a parental like call to speak with this Mandingo Maurice where he assured me she had her own room and was to be worshipped like royalty.

Degrees Of Royalty - Elly Carthy

A text from Mama came through, “he has the cutest accent and says ‘chow’ instead of goodbye!”  I laughed out loud in my apartment as I explained to her that ‘chow’ is the first word of an Asian dish 


and if she said it back to consider spelling it ‘Ciao.’


Well as it turned out the chemistry in person was not as sizzling as it was when being bounced off of multiple cell phone towers.  The second day she told him that the sparks weren’t there for her and a very disappointed Frenchmen was reluctantly friend-zoned.  She left early and got back in time to spend an evening happily alone in her condo.  As she filled me in on the details of how he tried to run her to death on the beach with no hydration, I laughed and filled with admiration for this courageous woman said “well, you can’t expect a home run on your first swing.”


Following My Whimsey

This year I coined a phrase that I love and whenever people ask me why I’m doing certain things I say “I’m following my whimsey!”  When asked why I’m dancing when there’s no dance floor, “I’m following my whimsey!”  When asked why my hair is red, “I’m following my whimsey!”  Why am I writing this blog?  I’m following my whimsey!

I’ve found that personal fulfillment is one of the most important things when it comes to being happy in life and if I’m happy, the whole world is happier and benefits.  When you are not happy you turn into one of these people.

office space

This week my whimsey said “there are some of my songs that will not be released unless my voice is the one representing them.”  It was like when Sylvester Stallone wrote Rocky and insisted that he star in it.


It doesn’t have to make sense to other people because sometimes I can’t explain why I feel certain things and it defies what seems logical, but ask any successful person and I bet they won’t say that they got to where they are by ignoring their impulses.

Be you the world will adjust

Following your whimsey is a lot like following The Siren.  It’s honoring that little voice within more than any that come from without.  It’s making the hard decisions and sometimes other people tell me I’m crazy.


So I just assume I’m the weirdest person in any room.


And when someone tells me I’m selfish for following my whimsey


because I know that it’s even more selfish for someone else to ask me to follow their whimsey.


Life should be beautiful 

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and fulfilling


and fun


whatever that looks like for each of us.


So never give up on hopes and dreams,

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be true to who you are 


and above all, always


You Are Scary

It’s always been easy for me to sing the praises of others.  I’ll be the first to tell you how beautiful my mother is, how talented my sister is and how one of my guy friends could charm the skin off a snake.  Presenting my own highlight reel on the other hand, has always seemed a little bit more difficult.  Growing up I didn’t see a lot of women I viewed as role models and so like many girls, I stepped onto the long and winding path of figuring out who to become.  I tried on a few different personas from shy friend, to emotionally damaged artist, to party girl in the small dresses.  Not very comfortable, those little dresses, and none of the aforementioned characters were my forte.  It’s funny how what you are meant to be is usually who you have been all along and sometimes other people see you more clearly than you see yourself.  So here are some of my favorite compliments from my friends that remind me of who I am–hopefully one of these will help remind you of who you are too!

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The Bat or Rebirth

For my birthday, one of my good friends gave me a tiny wooden bat.  That’s right, a bat.  We’re the type of friends where little things always seem to have some deeper meaning or broader implication and being my own particular brand of wacky, this was actually the perfect gift.  Some girls like jewelry or purses (don’t get me wrong I certainly  would not turn down a Louie Vuitton!) but I love originality and thought so the next afternoon I sat down in the daylight and without my vodka goggles on to take a better look.  It came with a little pamphlet describing how a bat symbolizes the idea of Shamanistic death.  I know what you might be thinking, sounding a little dark for a celebration eh?  The pamphlet explained that in Meso-American tribal legend, the bat involves shedding the past or old identity and stepping into your destiny.  Rebirth. 


I could definitely identify with that after my Guts and Gucci Episode!  For the last several weeks I felt like I had been swimming in deep waters and this structureless, reflective space was surfacing all sorts of emotions.  Some days I felt like I was on top of the world and I could see my aspirations for the future materializing effortlessly.  Some days I felt lost, like I couldn’t find my identity and a dark sea of ambiguity was swallowing me whole.  As I sat examining the detail in the carving of this little wooden bat I realized I wasn’t lost at sea, I was submerged in the embryonic fluid of rebirth.  Not like Keanu Reeves in that gnarly scene at the beginning of The Matrix



but like a beautiful and poetic water nymph from ancient Greek mythology.

water nympho


Well this recognition didn’t change the current flux and flow, but as the the days went on I began learning how to ride the waves instead of fight the tide.  I remembered Science 101 and heard the spirit of Isaac Newton whisper in my ear “what goes up, must come down.” Days I felt high I would take advantage of the opportunity for perspective, do work and just be grateful.  When I was low I trusted that clarity would come again soon and as I dissolved fear, I began exploring a whole new world in each new layer of myself.


I know that I have a habit of dismissing my emotions and as I embrace them more openly now it allows me to see both myself and others in a more compassionate light.  I know that my emotions are not something to ever be dismissed or degraded as “PMS” or “being dramatic” but that they are a sort of divine guidance.  A lot of people feel perspective when they look to the stars or observe the grandeur of the ocean, but that same auspicious wisdom can be grasped from deep within.  My emotions tell me where I am in proximity to where I need to be and they deserve to be respected, that’s why people are always saying “follow your gut!”  Or as I like to say

follow the siren 3.

I have always put a lot of pressure on myself and although it’s helped me accomplish a lot, it feels good to let some of that go.  I have become friends with the bat and this idea of rebirth, embracing the words of Lily Tomlin “If trying harder doesn’t work, try softer.”  

lily tomlinn

A woman I admire very much always says you can see something as a roadblock, or you can turn it on it’s side and make a stepping stone.  She says opposition creates a bridge from where you are to where you want to be and as far as I know there are only two things to do with a bridge; burn it, or cross it.

other side