You’re gonna see me in a new light.
This past May felt like one big celebration — but it was also one big month of realizing how much I have to be grateful for, and how I’m feeling a much more honest, real and straightforward version of myself coming out.
When I think of my younger self, I remember how I was always a little hard on myself. I expect a lot; I work a lot; I dream and hold standards high and expect good to come when you put good out there. As I’ve moved out on my own and have been living independently for myself for (almost) a whole year, I’ve come to face new struggles and challenges — and I’ve also come to realize the power of attitude, your own confidence, and also how we all just need to lighten up a little bit (ha!).
This past month made me a hell of a whole lot of happy (…if I have to be annoyingly frank and honest). I’m not one to flaunt my happiness and good feelings and deflect and ward off all negative energies and spirits just because I want to say I’m happy, but I can honestly say that I smiled a lot and shared intimate, uplifting, empowering and eye-opening conversations and laughs that made me cry and grin from cheek to cheek — and if that’s not a sign of feeling okay with where I’m at, then I don’t know what will (#mirrorreflections)!
There was a time when I put so much value on my work. I always needed to be working and writing, attending something and having somewhere to go because it was almost like I needed some sort of validation from my work. When my everyday life was uneventful and days got lonely and I wondered who I could rely on, turn to, have a normal conversation with or even spend extra time with, I turned to my work (deemed my passions, dreams and loves) to fill some sort of empty. But, we all know how unhealthy that is.
The fact one would dive so much into your work signifies an internal struggle of pushing away and avoiding the problems you don’t want to face in your life…
…which is why I’ve made the conscious effort to create more positive, healthy and lasting relationships in my life. At the end of the day, we have to realize that we are all living for something else greater beside ourselves. When you begin to make your work and dreams more of your everyday life than your reality (your personal relationships, circles and things that make you feel most alive), there’s something going on inside.
And I’ve always believed when you feel good about your life, the work you’re doing and the people you’re around — regardless of whether you are where you want to be with your work or career — that energy and those people are the things that will continue to push you, motivate you and allow yourself to bring your best work and self out into the universe. (Do the work inside first, before you can expect the universe to reciprocate.)
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Now, this month felt like I was running from event to event to late night and show weekend after weekend. Invites to different events ran wild as May marked Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (APAHM). It was a huge celebration for the entire industry I’ve dedicated my time, work and career into in the past year (and perhaps decade of my life); and not only did the nostalgia get real, but I’ve realized just how far I’ve come in such little time.
Film friends were attending several nights of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF) who extended their invite to broke little me — and in turn I was blessed with good screenings and conversation, treated to an endless Ulam Sunday night afterparty where I filled my inner “poor college student” belly with endless Filipino food, drinks and desserts in an outdoor patio surrounded by friends from the community from all walks of my life (during my college days, from the Fil-Am Creative network, and even old and new ones I’ve made just from being a part of this community — what a small world).
“It’s all about showing up. The fact that you are all here makes a difference,” co-director Evelyn Obamos said during Ruby Ibarra’s world premiere of Nothing On Us: Pinays Rising, which screened at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco (which I so graciously was able to attend, and even hitch a ride up north, and even dine with the Ibarra folks themselves, all because of this family I’ve found within the community).
In the past month, I’ve also decided to wean back on covering more concerts and shows, simply because I began to feel they were taking time away from my true desires to create and connect (it takes a lot to be honest with yourself, and I feel it’s time to make those shifts). It’s all about being a little more selective, and making more time for yourself.
- I attended the closing night gala for LAAPFF and watched the M.I.A. documentary, which hit home during a moment she recorded herself on-camera on tour with her friends and felt she had “something more to say” and was meant for more than documenting others’ lives.
- The next day, I was invited out to return to my stomping grounds at UC Irvine to attend PACN with my rondalla family, courtesy of Danny at the Bren, and it took me back to the years I spent cultivating that talent and producing that entire show throughout my college years.
- After those late nights, I covered Identity LA that Saturday for Blurred Culture, which was a beast of an event but also one big, heartwarming and unexpected reunion with the Asian American community in Los Angeles.
- I shared a conversation with Dia Frampton as she told me, “Oh my god you’re so grown up. You’re a woman now!”, which took me right back to #TheMegAndDiaStory and my decade of growing up with them (and goes to show how much an impact one can have on you as a little girl).
- I reconnected with Fil-Am Creative (FAC) folk and coworkers from Kore Asian Media (such a small world); I also linked up with Ruby Ibarra again as we talked about our homes in the East Bay, my Kariktan Dance Company family in her video for “Us” and her new roommate, who also happens to be my older “brother” (ha).
- I had a moment of disbelief seeing and witnessing Mike Shinoda perform so up-close, which was such a humbling and special moment that I barely had the time or headspace to fully realize and take in. The fact that so many people would’ve died to be in my shoes to have that opportunity was a huge realization of where I’ve found myself to be at this point in my life (and how powerful music is as the antidote to your suffering, grief, and negativity).
Running into the Aussies and Ross Butler again was an unexpected treat (your comments, DMs and friends shipping #RossAndRachelForever have been going full force ever since December, and always puts one big smile on my face).
But beside the big events and moments, I have to say it was a lot of the little in-between moments that helped.
(P.S. I will never stop fangirling the hell out of Ross Butler and Lilan Bowden.)
Sometimes, seeing friends goof off and having laughs that make you cry to enjoy a simple night out is enough to make you smile; and I’ve been falling more and more in love with improv at the Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) theater in Los Angeles. Seeing Lilan Bowden so many times before she headed back to Utah to film was such a treat (I also did not realize how insanely talented she is at improv, after seeing a couple of different shows and performers). The easy-going and light-hearted spirit of improv is extremely refreshing, and when it comes to Lilan, I think I see so much of myself in her. To be a firsthand witness of her natural push, love and desire for her art is so inspiring as she is a flawless reminder of doing you and being unapologetically yourself, but having fun throughout all the uncertainty and hurdles life throws at you.
But it is also the little moments shared, like that random road trip with my “Lolo” and meeting a random wanderer/lone soul on the way who never ceases to make us laugh; or #GasStationHippies (because I forgot what “trailer trash” is) and that time my friend and I walked in on a Cal Tech party and I shamelessly drank kombucha all day and night from the handsome kombucha server (ty to those tickets won from a fellow Filipina friend’s giveaway for the Eat Drink Vegan festival, which was a fun, lighthearted time to enjoy the gloomy sun and a day out to celebrate our broke selves at a free event #RachelTheFoodVlogger). Oh, and I cannot forget my friend fangirling over “Darby.”
The more and more I do, the more I feel that this is all temporary and realize this is all a part of my own story unraveling…
When it comes to my real desires, passions, creativity and voice, one big thing I’ve learned is that I have people behind me, but I also have to get behind myself, first.
I’ve spent more time valuing conversations with my creative friends, in terms of acknowledging what’s good and real for yourself in people, work and where you choose to spend your energy. I have to and should be patient with myself and my journey to be truly ready to write and create and share my own music and material (vulnerability is a big thing). As you cannot force anything out of yourself (and you cannot force another to care, as well), it’s best to allow yourself to grow. Listen to yourself; reflect on what’s good and bad for you, what kinds of people and energy add to you or drain you. Allow yourself to fall in love with things and out of love with others, communicate with different people and individuals, open yourself up to new ideas and places. Expand your mind. Inspire your heart. Turn away from those who dishonor you. And let others in. I believe it is only then — when you feel confident enough in your life, heart, mind, body and soul (and not in terms of where you “want” to be, but rather a place of peace and acceptance) — when the rest will follow.
Simply put: I feel like I’m coming to a place of knowing where I’m at, knowing what I want and actively asking for it. It’s about manifesting and asking the universe for what you want, turning away from what you don’t want in your life, and being gracious for it all. Make light of some things but take the things that do matter to heart. I believe I am still in a period of transition as I’m still finding my groove, community and people, but I’ve the patience to believe that it’ll take that time (and those two years to finally feel “okay,” just as Lilan and about every other individual I’ve met in LA has told me).
I’m getting somewhere. And I feel it. Might as well make the most of it.
Hope you enjoy this little feel-good clip of the month (because as John Mayer sings: “You’re gonna see me in a new light”).
With love and honesty,
View my past video blogs below:
You Give Me That Wicked Love
Forever On The Road
One Sky, Six Months
Looking For You, Five Months In
Quarter Month Crisis
Third Month’s the Charm
I Adjusted Month Two
I Survived One Month