My sophomore year of college, I bought birthday tickets for a friend to go see the show where I first saw Barcelona play. I had previously upheld this silly rule where I wouldn’t ever look up/research the bands on a show who I didn’t know because I was more interested in their live performances anyway (snob, 19 y.o., whatever) and wanted to just be surprised. The first band I broke that “rule” with was Barcelona. I looked up their website and saw a bunch of tour vlogs that I started watching. These guys were funny, endearing, good looking, the music was great, and by time I finally saw them on that tour, I was already hooked. As the year progressed, I slowly got all my friends hooked too. It was one of my musical missions to tell everyone about this awesome band I found.
The year that I met Barcelona was also the year I decided that working in music was my end-goal. Many people thought that work should be on stage, sharing my own talent, but the high of being recognized for my voice was never as good for me as it is for so many musicians I know. I wanted to help those who I admired be heard. C. Sheily Entertainment was born from this want, and while I was in Colorado Springs studying to become a writer, I was using my free time to build press kits and book musicians for shows. C. Sheily Entertainment then became C. Sheily Promotions. Why try to force bars to book my musicians when I could plan shows and put who I wanted on the bill? So that’s what I did.
After a year or two of realizing that being labeled the “promoter” kinda sucks, and that nobody could pronounce or spell the business name (my middle name), I wanted yet another change. With the help of my amazing business partner, a friend who I met during my freshman orientation in Boulder, and our awesome helper at the time, we became C/Note Public Relations. It took me a while to understand the nature of what it was that I loved most about Barcelona - telling everyone else about them! Suddenly, being a publicist made sense. I want to tell you about the people who are working their asses off and doing it in style, and I want you to tell your friends and fans, and I want it to spread like a virus, a virus for good instead of bullshit.
On June 8th, I sat across from a friend who experienced Barcelona with me back all those years ago for the first time, and next to my current business partner. There we were, discussing how we could team up for the next adventure. Sweet relief moved it’s way into the marrow of my bones knowing that I had something to look forward to with such beautiful people.
Things came full circle in the most beautiful way that same day as I sat, in awe, watching Barcelona play Red Rocks for the first time with The Fray. It’s been almost 6 years since that first show, and so much has happened. It’s been a journey for them, much of it made possible through the belief of their fans and their very hard work. As my friend said, “I think I’m a little more excited to see Barcelona than The Fray.” It was a sentiment I shared. Not only was that a sentiment I shared, but in that moment of triumph for the band and for their loyal Coloradan fans, I realized that, over time, I had let a lot of the bullshit I wanted to cut out seep into the core of what I was trying to create. I had let music break my heart, lead me to dark alleyways, keep me up all night, and it became an addiction to feel needed and involved.
An example that springs to mind is from a movie. I love the movie Almost Famous, as most people who love music do, and I spent years fancying myself as a band-aid when really I’m a William. I was the kid, starting young with no idea what the hell I was doing, just smart enough to figure it out fast, jumping on the band wagon - literally - with no idea where we were headed. Once it all slowed down, I realized, like William, what Lester Bangs was trying to tell me all along. I had stopped caring about what was cool, who could get me into what show, and all those perks. Maybe people in the music industry create relationships, if they’re lucky, but often there is not much substantial behind it. Maybe you’ll find enough success to get paid, get the recognition, etc., but the reality is that for every one of me, there were 100 others trying to do the same stuff from which participating in exhausted me.
What I have left now is a lot of great stories. And some of the best include Barcelona, and my friends, and the year I decided to start breaking my own rules and the path that followed. In the last 6 years, I’ve become an artist. I’ve discovered how much I love working with children and encouraging their dreams. I’ve become an activist. I’m learning that political correctness rarely gets things accomplished. I’m also learning that I enjoy listening to an entrepreneur talk about their own journey almost as much as I like discovering a new smooth tune. I get bored when I’m in a place where I can’t participate in a serious conversation, and though my peers mock my seriousness, I’m starting to find those who appreciate it as well. I crave substance beyond the art because (I’m not sure if you’ve figured it out yet) the art imitates life because the art comes from the artist and his or her experience. I thought I wanted to impact lives with art, but I want to impact art by changing lives.
And so it is. Why I love Barcelona so much. Somehow, these fellas from Seattle manage to continue to be on my soundtrack no matter how things change. And as I embark upon the next great frontier in the ever-evolving phoenix cycle, my loyalty stays strong.
What is your next step? Check out Barcelona’s performance on Audiotree. You won’t regret it.
Since graduating college at 22, and being a networking bee, I’ve come across this interesting phenomenon. Many of the people I encounter at a professional, and often personal, level assume that I’m in my 30s. Now, I can only assume myself that it is because so many of them are also in their 30s and just think everyone else is too, but with this assumption comes a frustrating realization. I can’t really explain where I’m coming from out of the context of my age – fairly recent graduate who sometimes contemplates going back to school, lived with family up until a few months back, so excited to have a newer car with air conditioning, never really having had a relationship, etc. etc. Things that are often results of having less life experience can be attributed to my age as much as my choices and upbringing.
But what happens when you tell a 30-something who is relating to you on a professional and sometimes personal level that you’re actually 24? Well, sometimes they find it hilarious and fascinating. Then sometimes you’re suddenly seeing a lot about “people under 25” or a lot of “oh, when I was YOUR age” type language in your interactions. Someone who was previously respectful and really warm suddenly has a lot of very interesting age-biased opinions and observations to make that are not so warm.
A friend said, “Well how would you feel if a 16 year old could relate to you, and meet you where you are, and you thought they were older but found out they were just 16?” That’s a great question. I suppose I would be slightly threatened, maybe a little skeptical or unsure of them, but mostly it just depends on the situation. I’ve been told multiple times this year that, on average, you hit full cognitive maturity at 25. In fact, I saw an entire argument about the age of consent being raised to 25 because otherwise you’re (scientifically, speaking) asking someone who doesn’t have the full capacity to make mature decisions to make a choice about sex. Obviously there is many a flaw in this logic, but the point remains the same – What is mature? What is ready? What is capable?
If a 16 year old is rising to the occasion of being mature, ready, and capable for scenarios that I’m also tackling in my 24 year old life, well… okay then! Everyone has a different path. But the truth lies in how secure you are in yourself. When a 30 something can realize I’m not 30, and treat me with equal respect as they did, I see an opportunity to learn from one another. Will I be as mature or have as much experience? Probably not. No matter how old I seem, I’m still missing 5+ years of experience that you have in life, the greatest teacher. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t be an ally or even a mentee. That also doesn’t mean that I will automatically respect you if I can’t see evidence of your own maturity.
As Anais Nin beautifully states, “We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.”
Basically, we’re all growing up together.
I spent the day heartbroken. Struggling to find strength while wiping my eyes on my way into work, and choking back tears all day until I found myself alone in my car again at 4:30 pm. “Sadness” isn’t the word that comes to me when I think about Dr. Maya Angelou’s passing. No, I felt reflective.
What came rushing back to me was standing in the library at Sabin Middle School in front of my 7th grade English class and reciting “Phenomenal Woman” as the boy I adored heckled me because we were in a fight. One of the most attractive and kind jock boys loudly expressed his disapproval at my crush’s behavior (he’d made it clear in the past that he thought I was beautiful), and I found strength in my words and finished the poem with conviction.
Then my memory rushed back to the moment when my mom knew she was pregnant with my sister. My sister Maya. She saw Dr. Angelou’s son speaking about his mother on Oprah as she held the pregnancy test in her hands. I was already 12, and had no idea just how my life was about to change forever.
My memory rushed to me sitting alone in my apartment, my last year of college, and hearing her say the words, “Love liberates” and “I am a human, nothing human can be alien to me.” I sat for hours throughout that year and the next trying to fashion a design that would allow me to put her words permanently on my body, not realizing that they sprang to mind in almost every difficult situation I encountered as a fledgling adult. These words were already tattooed in my mind, on my heart – they were part of my soul.
A woman I never met helped me grow into who I am today. She helped so many grow, and love, and appreciate this life. Dr. Angelou was like a dream or an idea. Enough spark to keep me going, though intangible. And the day, months ago, when I realized I would probably never meet her in person, I remembered hearing her say:
"I am grateful to have been loved and to be loved now and to be able to love, because that liberates. Love liberates. It doesn’t just hold—that’s ego. Love liberates. It doesn’t bind. Love says, ‘I love you. I love you if you’re in China. I love you if you’re across town. I love you if you’re in Harlem. I love you. I would like to be near you. I’d like to have your arms around me. I’d like to hear your voice in my ear. But that’s not possible now, so I love you. Go.’”
Dr. Angelou, thank you for liberating us with your love. Thank you for saving me time and again with your words, and spirit. Thank you for lending your name to the best person I know.
I would love to have met you. I would love to hear your voice from across a table, and even touch your hand. But that’s not possible now. I love you and wish you a peaceful rest. Go.
I’m Ready to Be Heartbroken
Here I am, again, watching P.S. I Love You, and getting inspired by this story of loss and finding yourself. Though I haven’t experienced loss like the main character, Holly, I am realizing how easy it is to get stuck in the day to day and forget what a 19 year old me knew – it is my job to create.
During the opening credits, a song plays called “Hey Lloyd, I’m Ready to Be Heartbroken.” The lyrics to this song resonate with me on a level that I think many an artist, entrepreneur, and perpetual soul-seeker can understand. I’m ready to be heartbroken. I’m READY to be HEARTBROKEN.
The heartbreak doesn’t need to be about romantic love, but a break-up with my own view of what the world “should” look like. The song says, “Hey Lloyd, I’m ready to be heartbroken. ‘Cause I can’t see further than my own nose at this moment…” I’m ready to be heartbroken by the fact that maybe the career I thought I would have working with people who I thought I could relate to isn’t the best path for me. I’m ready to be heartbroken by the fact that I’ve looked for love in all the wrong places and have come out at a deficit.
I’m ready to be heartbroken by my grandmother’s dementia and my grandpa’s pain watching his wife slowly forget the life they worked so tirelessly to create. I’m ready to be heartbroken by realizing that I’m surrounded by people who think more of me than I’ve ever thought of myself and there are times when I just can’t see them.
The heartbreak can take so many forms. Disappointment, disillusionment, change, insight, growth. It is defined as, “filled with great sadness,” and sadness is defined as, “affected with or expressive of grief or unhappiness.” Well, I’m ready to be unhappy enough to make the changes I need to make, love the people I need love, do the work I need to do, and let go of all the “should-ing” on myself I’ve done while comparing myself to others.
Like Holly says in the movie, “…This is my one and only life. And it’s a great and terrible and short and endless thing, and none of us come out of it alive…” So let’s go break stuff in the name of creating something new – rules, traditions, and, yes, even our own hearts.
Watch “Hey Lloyd” Here!
They say it, and I know the truth of it now,
You can’t be a hero in your own home town.
They know my lows and my highs,
But they don’t even out.
They’ve seen my best and my worst,
And ponder both but with doubt.
Half awake, half asleep,
They don’t see what I see.
I am forced to go inward,
Forced to face the true me.
I am not one thing or another,
But many a thing.
I am faded but in color,
Worth the effort of restoring.
Under questions hides the vibrancy,
That answers won’t satisfy.
I question the vibrancy,
And who stole it from my eyes.
The only thing without a doubt,
As the shadows are cast by clouds,
Is that it can be washed away,
The fear of being great.
So, the title may seem misleading. I can be guilty of a lot of annoying 20-something behaviors. There are some, however, that I genuinely cannot wait to see people get over. Yes, our 20s are a time to explore and find ourselves, but really it’s a time to transition from being teenagers with few adult responsibilities or concerns, to full fledged human beings with lives of our own choosing. No wonder we run around like chickens with our heads cut off half of the time.
As someone who was pretty much raised as an only child for 13 years of my life, I’ve gone through a few major life adjustments and wake-up calls throughout the years. Being in my 20s is one of them. But as I learn more about myself and my wants, and observe the struggles of other 20-somethings around me, I want to point out a few things that we’ll hopefully retire from by time we’re leaving our 20s behind.
1. The Dramatic Declaration, or “Dramclation,” if you will
Have you seen those posts on Facebook that say, “Go ahead and delete me if you must!” after someone posts about their political, religious, or general opinion about something, knowing it might not be popular with some friends? Well, I have seen this one too many times. All I have to say is, “okay, I’ll delete you for being such a drama king/queen.” I can be pretty damn dramatic, but the fact of the matter is that if you were to respectfully state your opinion instead of looking for a fight, because it gives you some weird thrill, most would respectfully debate the issue with you or give their honest opinion. All I can think is that you don’t really want someone’s honest opinion, you just want people to hear you and tell you you’re right. You’d rather your friend count go down than to actually back up a point with factual evidence. Or you’d rather start a fight than have a peaceful discourse.
NEWS FLASH — Hearing other views and opinions is good. Learning diplomacy is good. Confrontation for the purpose of learning can be good. So stop with the “Dramclation” and just state something simply, even if you are challenged.
2. Using the excuses like, “Sorry, I’m so hung over,” or “Sorry, I fell asleep” to shirk responsibilities
While I was waiting at the airport for you to pick me up like you said you would, you were busy slumbering away after a night of getting so wasted that you forgot my plane came in today. Also, you have no gas money because you spent it on alcohol. First of all, this hasn’t actually happened to me, but I’ve had many similar circumstances occur. Second, who are you again? My friend? Sure. My irresponsible friend who I conveniently forget to tell my mother about because, as open minded as she is, she’ll inevitably tell me that I need much better friends than you, and leave me feeling like I’m settling for whatever I can get in the one department where I thought I was excelling. Can you say buzz kill? I feel like we’re trained in college to expect our friends to be hot messes, so we don’t complain. But what happens when we’re in the real world with real life things happening? What happens when you miss a job interview? What happens when we’re married? When we become parents? You left your kid at daycare because you fell asleep? I know this happens, and I’m probably bringing bad karma to myself for even mentioning it, but come on.
NEWS FLASH — Sure, we’re not there yet, well some are, but in my primary group, we may not be there yet, but we’re not as far as we’d like to think. So maybe it’s time to set your alarm clock to ring more than once, and to cut off the drinks by midnight when you have something important to do the next day.
3. Avoiding Tough Conversations
I’ll admit, I get off on talking to people who will have an honest to goodness uncomfortable conversation with me about something of importance. I pissed you off and you told me? Hallelujah! You actually listened and took it in stride when you pissed me off and I told you? It’s a damn miracle! We’re so sensitive about criticism, being uncomfortable, or having to think critically, that we avoid the connection that comes from talking it out altogether. We want to talk AT one another instead of TO one another. Hear me, but I can’t hear you.
NEWS FLASH — Other people exist and have things to say that may hurt you or make you feel like you’re doing something wrong. And you may be doing something wrong. They may be doing something wrong. But you’ll never learn if you hide from the conversation. You’re risking relationships, opportunities, and your own development by shying away from that one talk that could make or break a situation. Ball up!
4. The Dance with the Gender of Interest
Whichever gender you’re attracted to, stop being a plaything for that gender. Sexual liberation is an excuse for most people to be completely careless with their bodies, and thus, with their quality of being. The “dance” isn’t even just sex. The “dance” is interaction in general. I know so many ridiculously talented, wonderful women who become completely idiotic when dealing with men — myself, included. Same goes for men. What about women makes you such a horrible person all of a sudden? What about your penis makes it necessary to lead women on and treat them poorly? And what about his penis makes it necessary to allow yourself to be led on and treated poorly as a woman? Similarly (and can apply to all orientations), women, what are you doing to men who find you interesting and want to be your friend? Are you assuming they like you and being weird about it? Men, do you think that every woman who is kind to you will fall in love with you?
NEWS FLASH — That section has a lot of questions, because we really need to ask ourselves what it is we’re looking for in male/female relationships. So few work out as just being friends, so what exactly are we getting from the gender of interest in our lives, and what do we want to get? I’ll be honest, this one still plagues me. But it’s something to think about.
5. Asking for Advice and Doing the Opposite
We’re not teenagers anymore. If someone you trust gives you an honest opinion, why is your first instinct to rebel? Because you know they’re right, probably. Your mom, best friend, aunt, cousin, boss, mentor, lover… People who know you will tell it like it is, and you ignore it while you run the other way screaming YOLO.
NEWS FLASH — Making the same mistakes that others have made is why history repeats itself. We’re wired to think our outcome will be different. And sometimes it is. But in reality, we’re really just too fearful of what we know instinctually to be true because it goes against what we want. What do we want? To feel alive. To feel free. So we make the mistakes ourselves because learning the hard way keeps us from getting bored. The thing is, some things aren’t worth learning the hard way. Some, we need to learn the hard way to grow. But most… well, it’s better to embrace some tradition.
So as we go on our travels, finishing out our decade of agonizing growing pains, I will tell you what I tell myself from my favorite kid’s movie “Meet The Robinsons” (yes, kid’s movie, the irony doesn’t escape me)…
Keep. Moving. Forward.
*Note: I wrote this in a private moment of emotional turmoil after hours of reminiscing for the sake of updating information about my successes in my career endeavors. I didn’t intend to post it, but the friend I refer to is such a muse, that I couldn’t help but notice how my feelings about this particular relationship are so easily expressed through words compared to so many others.*
If you could look at me with the same amusement in your eyes that you did before this mess, I would leave it all alone. But you are not amused. You are not anything in regards to me, and the realization of that weighs heavily on my heart. I don’t seek to hear you say “I love you” one more time, or even to experience the depths of connection that once existed, but I want only the laughter and comfort that came from just sitting side by side.
I miss you, Friend.
With tears that refuse to fall, they’re so stubborn, I miss you.
With fondness for the memories that float through my mind, I miss you.
With complete disregard to the pain we selfishly inflicted upon one another, I miss you.
More than anything, I wish you well. I wish you the strength to be everything you’ve always dreamed of and the courage to open your heart, even to fools. We’re all fools, especially when it comes to love. I wish you the strength to feel the affection that comes from suffering us fools. And I hope one day that you can ask me about myself, and truly care to know the answer, even if my hand is in someone else’s hand.
Thank you for seeing in me what I so often cannot see in myself.
Until we meet again,