What a calm and renewing month you were, July. And you were also a blessing.
It’s a weird thing to come back home and remember, feel and reflect on everything you once had, were and still have and are when you’ve been away for some time.
On the first of July, I was mentally prepared for the emotional and physical chaos you would bring — because as a dear friend, the stars and the universe told me, this month was going to be heavy.
With #CancerSeason in full effect, July was a lot, and the mantra I had to tell myself everyday was to really take the time to take care and tend to my mind, body and soul. I may have tried to take on too many things, be pulled in many different directions, take on lots of opportunities as emotions ran high. As the latter half of the month brought us all a forced renewal and resurgence of past emotions, feelings and truths we may have pushed aside due to our busy lives, schedules and everyday obligations, I felt the need to especially be good to myself, my heart and desires this month.
I started it off filming and shooting a block party at SamJam Venice with my friend Cyril, where we spent a chill day out in the sun, exhausted and hot while he shamelessly fanboyed over Charlotte Lawrence with me (and we finally snagged that picture, ha) and I experienced one of my most chill times shooting a show (ha!). I had #RachelTheFoodVlogger moments come out as he encouraged more of the “influencer” in me, and it felt nice to genuinely enjoy a nice and normal summer’s day out.
Just a few days later, I woke up to a summer BBQ and pool party at my house for the Fourth of July (which my roommate threw on and #LolaRachel decided, “Why not?”), which helped me realize just how far I’ve come in one year. One year ago, I remember feeling incredibly lost and alone as I was just one week moved from the Bay to LA and I didn’t know who or where to spend my time. I shared good conversation with friends old and new, felt the love and embraced the belief others see in me, as simple conversations by a friend telling me he loves how genuine and candid my writing is, to the shows and times we’ve shared, to another showing me the ways of Hawaii and genuinely feeling and seeing my energy. These past months I’ve been beginning to feel that much more of a “home” for myself in Los Angeles — and that’s a feeling I’ve craved for for so long.
I packed my bags that weekend to return and drive home to the Bay to attend my friend #PageantPatricia’s 27th birthday in San Francisco, where she flew in the “love of her life” Daniel Park to play a live looping set, whom I haven’t seen or hung out with since three years ago at her Airbnb birthday right after college. I talked with old friends, updated them on how much has happened in my one year since moving to LA, and all the changes that have come about… (I also realized that I apparently have a “fangirl” at home, who apparently has known me from my UCI days and is very inspired by my work and cultural dance. Crazy! I feel the love.)
After a little mishap of broken car windows and my stuff getting stolen, my high from being home and reuniting with everyone quickly took a sour note and I felt as if I wanted to leave. “Home” wasn’t feeling like home anymore and I wanted to return to the normalcy and comfort of my life in Los Angeles — but, I also recognized leaving would be rash and impulsive and I needed to discipline myself to sit and be patient with these feelings and try to embrace being back in a place that doesn’t feel like home to me anymore. Ex: The “fish out of water” and #StuckInTheSuburbs feeling came up, as well as the anxiety of being home and having weekends spent doing “normal” things like eating out, driving into the city and enjoying local markets and fairs, rather than being “productive.”
It stressed the inner “workaholic” in me, which I also recognized means I needed to check myself, because work-life balance is so important and you cannot let your life and happiness be dictated by your work and the pursuit of your passions (also: when it’s in “pursuit” means you’re not living it and don’t have it now — so time to turn your thinking around from a feeling of “lack” to a feeling of gratitude and “fullness” for what you do have, for that will take you further). Life, love and a positive environment encourages and inspires you to do your best work, and to be your best self, and it was time to really meet and foster that.
As time waded on and I began to slowly situate myself back home (it’s an odd feeling coming from a place where you are constantly moving and hustling as your work, life and independence is everything, to come back to a life where nothing is moving or changing and you don’t know what to do with yourself), I took the time to actively tell myself to be calm and patient. “Treat yourself and be good to your mind, body and soul.” So I began to do little errands, get those few doctors appointments in, reunite with my beloved dentist as #DentistsPet, refill and refreshen my vision to see 20/20 and soak up that health insurance. I spent my time doing a little more of what I love with more visits to Guitar Center, which meant more time to practice, pick up new guitars and take a break from the midday summer heat to inspire myself with new music (it’s a wonder and a godsend how much playing with new guitars and sitting in the acoustic rooms can do for your musical soul). A quick in-store Instagram Live session also reminded me how much fun I have engaging with you all, and how you all are actually listening and paying attention after all these years, and some of you even recently. So thank you from the bottom of my heart. It means a lot. ❤
As my wallet took a big hit from the mishaps earlier this month, I was grateful to have had the opportunity to help on a shoot in Los Angeles one weekend; and although it was one long weekend and one I made a “work trip” out of (drive from the Bay to LA and back), it was an invaluable opportunity to gain insight into the real-life of a YouTube entrepreneur and #bosslady, seeing intimately in a room of just four to see how she works, schedules out her content, plans and thinks to produce new ideas and content, how she built her YouTube empire and business, tidbits on her “school of style” courses and the keys to success, and simply how to shoot it all and be real throughout!
I was getting signs everywhere. I have to add that after that one weekend — which I was a little physically exhausted and drained from the early call-times and long travel weekend — that I was unexpectedly blessed with a fortunate meet at a quick stop at Porto’s and a little hello. Not only do I feel like my eyes have been opened, but I feel this whole new side of me coming out as I have been growing and embracing the confident woman and artist in me. And I feel so much happier and sure of myself. More on that soon… Maybe!
Coming back home after that shoot with one last week to the month, I spent the week fitting in those last catchups and mini reunions to which my heart felt so so full. I finally feel I’ve adjusted a bit and gotten into a good groove of being home, that I was able to reunite and catchup with my best friend Leslie #Doris, where our conversations and consistent catching up ever since high school have always warmed my heart (#MakePortlandHappen please!). I also finally reunited and caught up with my best friend and musical partner / other half Ayana Giann #RachelAndGiann, and even though it’s been a whole year, our conversations and times may be so far and few but they are absolute quality and warmed my heart. It’s incredibly comforting to find and see that we still live in parallel, live very similarly and see the world in such similar ways when our worlds and surroundings don’t seem to quite get us. There’s no one else in this world who seems to understand how we live and how we view the world and live out our loves, our passions, our dreams and how we see our futures, and I’m so so glad to see and hear we are on the same page. So much love for you, G. ❤
It’s people and events like these that make me realize how much of a home I have up here, and how much harder it is to leave when my heart and soul remains in the people and places and feelings I have here.
Also Dojo, reuniting and catching up in our suburban hometown to shoot again was so nice — and nice to know that we both dealt with feelings of loss and displacement with your move to Portland and mine to Los Angeles. Reuniting and seeing common ground, how our hometowns change and not change at the same time… It’s comforting. Youdabest. And I’m always honored to shoot with you!
One of my biggest breakthroughs this month, I have to say, have been with my times with Sunny & the Black Pack. My heart is so big for you all, and I cannot quite put into words just how much I have learned, grown and realized just from being around you and enjoying our company. It’s crazy and true when I hashtagged #NotYourAverageFarmersMarketBand just a few years back, because you all are insanely talented, real, honest, genuine and authentic souls, creatives, artists, musicians and individuals…
I sometimes do not see how my life looks from the outside-looking-in, and getting your perspective, seeing me as an “entity” as someone you’d want to sign or work with means a lot. I can be extra hard on myself and not see my full potential, but you consistently see it, embrace it, pinpoint to me exactly what you see and why it works — and I’m beginning to recognize, acknowledge, embrace and believe it (which is by far the most important thing!!). Whether it’s the “influencer” in me, the “savvy” Instagrammer, the blogger-writer-artist-musician with great shots and photos and angles, or even the potential sponsorships and getting gritty about being consistent with my content… I feel like a lot of things are happening and brewing and it’s just a matter of me coming to terms with it, with myself, figuring out a game plan and running with it. (I always thought, once I knew what I wanted and had a clear way, I’d go all in! I’ve been feeling and testing things out for awhile.)
That last meet we had — which was by far incredibly emotional for all of us, I’m sure — felt so purely transformative. I feel as if you, Sunny, have a way of recognizing talent and seeing it in others. You are able to unlock it in people, help people see their potential, and really explain what you see to get moments of clarity to just click within. Whether it was me just picking up that guitar and playing random chord progressions, to which you say I “f**ked you all up,” just encouraged me because I know and realize I have songs and talent and a wide array of unique chords up my sleeve due to my history of playing. The fact I can create some really interesting and unique songs that no one’s heard before, or maybe isn’t played a lot, really woke something up in me. (Side note: I feel as if I’ve been playing by myself and behind a camera all my life that I never really get to see or hear how I am with other people or what others hear, as well as what kind of magic can happen, and that was a big moment. I can’t wait for more songs to be written!) Also, you having the girls freestyle over my chords and find melodies and scales within the voice, to fine-tune confidence and unlock new potentials was a purely artistic session that I took to heart! And also Jake, our conversation on moments where it’s rare to come across someone who is honest, genuine and means well, but is also open-minded and not egotistical (not letting your ego get in the way of learning, growing, and seeing where you can grow — trust, I have known people like that in my life and it is frustrating!) let me know how important it is to always surround yourself with good people, good energy and a good community — because yes, that is where the truth will flow and where we can all be our best, most liberated and inspired selves.
A collective of good minds and good thoughts produce damn good work.
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Inspired by these recent jams and songwriting sessions. I feel like I’m unlocking something. And coming closer to my truth. Y’all feel? Here’s a little impromptu diddy riding on this feeling. P.S. Apologies for the lo-fi sounding amp! 📻 #music #jamming #session #jamsession #songwritingsession #writing #guitar #electricguitar #pluggedin #guitarriff #progression #chordprogression #fender #fenderstratocaster #strat #girlguitarist #femaleguitarist #summerheat #endofjuly #rawrecording #offthecuff #rachelannc . @universityofrock #universityofrock @riffwars #riffwars @pickariff #pickariff @pickupjazz #pickupjazz @jamgoapp #jamgoapp @thesoundoftheday #thesoundoftheday @talented_musicians #talentedmusicians @guitarsdaily #guitarsdaily
I realize this post was a bit scatterbrained. This past month may have been a bit quiet on my end, but it was very much a much-needed “break” from the work world and things I felt I needed to take some time away from.
As I’ve been taking the time to be kinder and more honest to myself, a part of that was realizing what things in my life I felt were serving me and bringing good, positive energy, and what things may be draining and toxic for me.
Takeaways? Music. Embracing the artist in me once again, realizing just how alive and how much happier I am when I am playing music, and playing with other people who inspire me, more importantly. It’s all about good energy and spreading that, as you can only do so much alone… And also, being patient with my own material is a big thing, so I’ve been writing and fine-tuning and hope to get some solid stuff out.
Friends and family. It’s a wonder why my closest and most solid friendships are here in the Bay. We’ve grown up together; we see each other; we understand each other; we come from similar backgrounds in a world and crazy place where people may be so different and foreign to us. It’s grounding, it’s liberating and it’s comforting — and when I’m in a place that always bring me major discomfort and anxiety (sorry Los Angeles, I’m still learning to love you!), that comfort means the world. And much family time is comforting as always, since I’m never home to just eat away and laze out watching “The Bachelorette” endlessly. It feels so damn good to give myself a break once in a while.
Love. Oh love and the hopeless romantic in me. Self-love, self-care, and feeling totally and wholly in love with yourself (but not being a narcissist). I had a great conversation with the Black Pack gang on selfishness, and as average “selfishness” may come across as a bad thing, it is actually a good thing when you see it from the right perspective. To be selfish is to serve yourself, because ultimately, when you are serving yourself, you are serving others. How can you expect to love, to genuinely love and be open to others, if you are so focused on pleasing others, or pleasing yourself? If you can reach a genuine place of knowing and recognizing your worth, respecting what serves you good, who and what is good for you, then you are investing in your best self to those around you. (A bit of a long-winded explanation, I apologize…) But, I feel like I’ve gotten a lot more honest with myself and have learned to just 1) communicate needs and desires better, 2) don’t feel shame for feeling unhappy, because damnit you should express it, 3) always express yourself and your love and appreciation, and be open to showing affection, and 4) you are a woman and a sexual being and entity and embrace that part of you! Let yourself live and love and be free and be good to yourself. Love is love, you are a human, love yourself and love your body and treat yourself well.
That’s all I have to say.
I may not be where I want to be, but I’ve reached a place of calm acceptance and trust and faith in this journey — because dear God we all know the worrywart in me always feels like I need things to be constantly moving and growing and working! But that’s not life. Life is about embracing whatever the hell is going on and being your best self throughout it all. To take challenges and hardships head on and not lose your cool — because hell, that’s probably the hardest part about growing up! But, it gets a little easier when you’ve got some good friends and love in your life for yourself and others, and things that inspire you.
I may feel a bit lost and alone and strapped for cash at times, but I’ve got two homes and people and places I love. I’ve learned no one’s going to fix your life but you. Make change, take action, work if you need to to serve you and your passions and others… If I’ve learned anything, it’s to be who you needed to be when you were younger. My younger self would be proud of me for chasing these dreams (whatever they may be), because I’m only getting closer to my truth and people and loves and passions and growing into the fuller woman I am and meant to be. I only hope that will inspire my kids and future family and the family I’ve been able to reunite with so recently… because those are the things that matter in the end.
Once we can get out of our own heads, we can realize we are living for something so much more and bigger than ourselves.
We have our gifts and talents for a reason. Offer them up with love. Have no fear. Do not let the fear dictate your life. And embrace the uncertainty. No one teaches us how to live and offer up our gifts, but let us do so anyway. We’ll figure it out, am I right?
With love and honesty,
View my past video blogs below:
Young, Reckless and Loving It 6/2018
In A New Light 5/2018
You Give Me That Wicked Love 4/2018
Forever On The Road 2/2018
One Sky, Six Months 12/2017
Looking For You, Five Months In 11/2017
Quarter Month Crisis 10/2017
Third Month’s the Charm 9/2017
I Adjusted Month Two 8/2017
I Survived One Month 7/2017
One Week Out 6/2017