[Self Discovery] Spring Clean Your Scene

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Buds are blossoming, birds are chirping, the sun illuminates a larger portion of the day, the cats are lapping up sun showers while I’m able to leave the windows open at night and gallivant around in a tank top and shorts during the day.  That’s right, it’s absolutely irrefutable, Spring has sprung with all of her glory in Southern California and I can’t help but sing her praises. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been inundated with a variety of Spring weather – from the smoggy gloom, to the idle threat of April Showers and full blown sunshine.  As of 4/20 – the Sun, Mercury and Mars were a firmly planted hat trick on Taurus, which will be joined by the beautiful Lyrid meteor shower borne from the cosmic debris of the Thatcher Comet, while Venus twinkles in full force with the waxing crescent moon residing in the background in a subdued sliver.

Sure, Spring Cleaning is a great blanket term for getting your pad back into social shape after a winter of hibernation but I’ll be the first to let you know that Spring Cleaning is for much more than just your house! Spring provides the perfect backdrop for cleaning our internal, emotional and spiritual selves as well. As we’ve shifted away from the Spring Equinox, commonly referred to by it’s traditional Pagan name Ostara, this past month has been a perfect time for personal self reflection and beginning passionate projects; solidifying your romantic relationships and laying the solid foundation for your imminent future.

Since Taurus is ruled by Venus, which we’ve all come to know as the Goddess of Love thanks to classical mythology, Taurus is a perfect time to focus on creating stability in your life, through the pursuit of your personal gifts as well as solidifying intelligent interpersonal relationships relationships.  From your office and your closet, to your arts and crafts supplies and social circle – there’s certainly no time like the present, and trust me when I say you’ll feel better when you know that yours isn’t being wasted.

Take a deep breath and repeat with me: I am the best version of me because I’m the only version of me; my life is richer because I passionately pursue my own dreams instead of chasing the tails of others. I stand taller, because I can raise myself up.  Now, that said – Winter is always an interesting season for me socially because I spend 75% of my time in happy hibernation with my feline friends and the other 15% figuring out how to get out of social requirements and 10% actually out on the town enjoying myself.  And during my downtime? Well, I’m trying to get my mental ducks in a row so when I re-emerge in the Spring, kind of like a swan from an ugly duckling – I’m primed and poised to take full control of my personal life. In the process, I’m pruning the underbrush from my life and making way for flourishing flowers at the top. our closet, your bedroom, your apartment, and your social life all deserve some passionate purging. So, let’s start externally and then let’s refocus this internally, on ourselves and our own personal well being.

Your Pad

I don’t know about you guys, but over the last seven years in Los Angeles – I’ve packed, moved, unpacked, rearranged, reorganized and readjusted my surroundings more than I’d care to admit. In that same amount of time, I’ve amassed countless items from around Southern California – including furniture frivolously left by friends moving across the country, a stack of movies from Disney that I never watch and a closet that somehow manages to grow exponentially in size every season.  To counteract, take good notice of what you use and what items typically just fall to the wayside or become clutter.  If you follow the guidelines ‘a thing for every place, and a place for everything’ – over time your physical imprint will shrink, but the worth of your collection will grow.

Your Closet

This gets it’s own section because let’s face it, after a certain point in life – you’re not going to be shrinking. I’m not saying you’re about to expand, in an eat this-drink that ‘Alice in Wonderland’-esque dystopia; but take a good hard look at your closet and it’s time to trim the fashion fat. Step one, which sounds a little funny – get as far into your closet as you can without doing laundry, and then examine the clothes still hanging.  My reasoning? The more often I don my favorite duds, the more frequently they end in a pile on the floor instead of planted within my closet – leaving the residual to browse through, like an inverse goodwill.  Now, the tedious part – one by one, go through each item and figure out what it is that you’re not into! Are you over bearing your belly? Time to remove the shirts that shimmy about your mid-drift.  Taking a plunge into leggings and tights? Maybe you should rethink your collection of pants.  Living in a new eco-climate?  Toss out some scarves and make way for bikinis!  And remember, the more stuff you eliminate from your closet….the better excuse you have to fill it with things you like!

Your Social Circle

The way I like to clean, goes from the outside in. First comes a comfortable abode, next is a clutter free closet – and last but certainly not least, a simple social circle with all the frills, minus all the drama.  I have a predictable social habit; sometimes a beautiful one – other times, it seems to give me both head and heartache.  I love people who are unapologetically themselves, coming at you like a freight train of honest emotion at 100 MPH.  But over time, it seems I’ve amassed a small quantity of nonquality individuals in my life. They’re the people that you feel reserved around, you find you’re double and triple checking your words instead of relaxing your inhibitions. I wouldn’t call them toxic, but I’ll go as far as saying you have people to invest your energy in.  Learn to trim the friendship fat and set boundaries in your life, you’ll find your friendships and relationships will become passionately more pleasurable and richer than you could even imagine.

[The Audiofiles] Embracing Individuality within the Dance Music Community

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Still on a wonderful life buzz after Coachella, and as much as I want to delve into a festival recap and expound upon the amazing time I had last weekend, I need to take care of something else first.  The more I look into articles that should dive and swim into the wonderful shenanigans, magic and music over the weekend – the more I uncover unnecessary snark and all around rudeness. For as many articles exist chronicling last weekends adventures, I’ve found just as many bashing the daring, individual fashion choices of the weekend and it quite literally makes me sick (except for that one guy….which is a different discussion all together). When “reputable” places like Billboard and Telegraph decide to not just openly discuss and demean people who are having a time and beating to their own drum, but make it a public display for the world to add their negative commentary to, you really have to rethink who runs them, what their goals are as an outlet and if we should even care what they have to say. Not to discount the fact that we as Southern Californians truly live in a mecca of manifestation; our sense of fashion is perpetually on display to be eaten up like hotcakes by the remainder of the country.  But, the simple fact of the matter is that the dance music scene was borne out of people looking for a place to freely express themselves, to openly be and become the people that we want to be. Whether that means we don fairy wings, a psychedelic top, matching onesies or obscure makeup shouldn’t bother the next person because it’s a symbol of our bold push towards individuality. And at the end of the day, it’s the dance music circuit; the pulsing rhythm replicating our heart beat, the crowd pulsing together to make us feel like we’re part of some giant, living, loving breathing organism – because we are.  The EDM community has the power to quite literally save lives – so why are we giving people shit for living theirs the way they want? Our entire life, we’ve been shoved into cookie cutter boxes and labels and have pushed back, sometimes passively and other times through this wonderful community that we’ve passionately pursued.  The majority of us have been bullied in some way shape or form, so the fact that an outsider feels the need to encroach and express disdain over the creative expressions of humanity over the weekend simply doesn’t get the point of our scene.  For three days and nights, I witnessed nothing but smiling faces and beautiful people – embracing each other and the music in kind. I wish I could’ve hugged each and every one of them; for being bold, for being unique, for being beautiful – for their unequivocal, undeniable, honest and beautiful displays of humanity. We choose to create the reality we live in; and as writers, doubly so. If you don’t have anything nice to say, maybe shut your mouth and find a new profession.

Photos by Daniel Leist Photography | Full Album Here

Cross Published on The DJ List

[Self Discovery] Turning Dreams into Active Realities

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You can dream a little dream or you can live a little dream
I’d rather live it, cause dreamers always chase but never get it. – Aesop Rock 

For the last few years, this blog has provided me with a sense of catharsis, an outlet to pour my soul into and collect my emotions, a sieve to understand which of my feelings were accurate and which managed to run away with themselves, and a home for my ramblings, writings, tirades and sonically salacious adventures.  Let me clue you in on my biggest secret, when I was picked up by The DJ List I absolutely had no idea what or where I’d end up when it had all been said and done – but what I saw was a golden opportunity to dive headfirst into the music industry, somewhere I’ve wanted to be my entire life.  In my time in Los Angeles, EDM has become a safety net, a friend, a savior and a shoulder to lean on; our community is thousands strong, all beautifully beating to their own drummer yet in sync with each other.

We’re the misfits, the nerds, the band geeks, the outcasts – but we’ve managed to come together to unite under an electric sky with a beautiful cause. With one hand firmly in the cookie jar, and the other penning out articles left and right – I truly found my writing niche and within two years I’ve penned almost 300 press releases, original articles, album reviews, artist interviews and have gone from a relative nobody on the team to an integral part of the Senior Staff and the Director of Social Media. From Shambhala Music Festival in Canada to California’s own Lightning in a Bottle, Sea of Dreams up in San Francisco to the Gem and Jam Festival in Arizona and Global Dance Festival in Colorado – I’ve had a birds eye view on the latest and greatest, upcoming talent and disbanded groups; andfor a while – I’ve honestly felt like it was time for a shift.  Not only have I poured my heart and soul into bytes and bass on The DJ List, but I’ve managed to maintain my day job as a Retail Space Analyst for the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank thanks to a flexible schedule and an overactive brain.

Usually when birthdays roll around, there’s a sense of either accomplishment or admonishment of how the past year played out, and this past year when I turned 30 I took a good hard second to examine my life and really figure out what I wanted from it, and where I could see myself in 5 years.  It wouldn’t take a clairvoyant to see what future I wanted for myself – a full immersion into the dance music industry, a forum for my writing and a community of passionate peers that encourage growth and individuality. My entire life, my parents implored that you should have a job you love and a job that pays the bills – and if you’re dedicated, passionate and hard working, they can often be one in the same. So, I’m thrilled excited to announce that I’ve taken a part time position as a Publicity Associate and Number Ninja for The Confluence! If you’ve never heard of them, you’ll probably know their clients – they run campaigns for Lightning in a Bottle, The Do LaB, Envision Festival, Symbiosis Events, GoPro, The New York Times, and SO much more! 

I couldn’t have done this without having an incredible support system, including my wonderful fiance for inspiring me, pushing me and loving me for who I am; theThe DJ List for helping me blaze this path.  To my family and friends hank you for inspiring me with your creativity and passion for life and to everyone that lets me digitally dump my life into my blog and loves me for it – thank you; this is all because of the courage and daily inspiration you all have given me and  I couldn’t have done this without you all.  I don’t know how much time I’ll have to update my blog, especially the way I’ve been lately but prepare for a whole new set of adventures down the rabbit hole with your favorite Bouncy Kitty as I navigate my new life as a Publicity Associate for one of the hottest companies around.

Five years ago, I was attending my first Coachella – and this year, I’ll be returning but in a completely different capacity: working with The Confluence at The Do LaB stage of the festival!  It was one of the most magical experiences of my life and I cannot wait to share. Stay tuned! 

  

[The Audiofiles] Desert Hearts: There’s a Message in the Music

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Photography by Daniel Leist

Last Thursday night, we congregated in hushed tones – packing, plotting, scheming over what the weekend would bring. Not to say that my friends and I are novices to music festivals – quite the opposite in fact –  but it’d been a good minute since we’d all had a ‘first’ in the music scene.  Friday morning we woke up to delicious threats of coffee and impending adventure just around the corner.  After loading up our cars to the brim with the bare necessities, we were off down the rabbit hole on an adventure for the books; reverse skydiving into a whimsical, wonderful world where the unexpected was probable and the possible was unlike anything you’d ever experienced. Scrolling through the lineup for Desert Hearts, we collectively knew about a third of the musical acts…between the seven of us.  This was our inaugural Desert Hearts experience and we all knew we’d be in for a special treat. What started two and a half years ago as an intimate renegade gathering in the Mojave Desert has transformed into band of brothers and sisters over 2000 strong.  For the 6th installment of Desert Hearts, we traversed inland to ten acres of sacred space belonging to the Los Coyotes Band of Indians; it’s the largest reservation in San Diego County, boasting a healing, vibrant landscape.

By all standards, this isn’t your normal 3 Day Music Festival – featuring not just one love and one vibe, but one stage for a wild romp through nuanced variations of House, Disco and Techno all weekend long.  Hosted by an equally eclectic, talented and mindful group, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that they’ve spurred a community based artistic platform appropriately called Desert Arts while simply giving away all their music – singles, albums and sets – for free on Soundcloud just for the sake of sharing their passions with the world. They’re a philanthropic, warm heart-ed, collaborative, conscious and creative entourage and it’s reflected within the community that they’ve cultivated.

After two hours in the car, laughing, musing, and daydreaming about our first Desert Hearts experience we valiantly arrived at the check-in point, blaring the last heavy bass drop we thought we’d hear for the next three days. Greeted by the Green Team, we were welcomed with warm smiles and a set of trash bags so we could keep the grounds as wonderful as we’d found them, Within minutes, we’d conquered the campground and picked the perfect camping spot – surrounded by equal sun showers and shade during the day, and ample starlight melded mystery at night.  Gallivanting towards the stage, we noticed ‘Desert Hearts’ necklaces glistening in the sunlight and immediately mused that we all wanted one; within seconds of stepping foot onto the dance floor, a beautiful soul named Purps pranced our way with a sparkle in her eye and giving in her heart. ‘Welcome to Desert Hearts!’ she smiled, ‘This is for you!’ What a wonderful, gesture – as if we’d manifested this ourselves. Immediately, we found our groove and held it for a transformative, magical, inventive, musical 72 hours while playing, prancing, hugging, dancing, giggling and shining in the Spring air.

Sultry sets, plush with body bumping, soul thumping Tech House from Jamie Schwabl and Tara Brooks of LA’s own Wülfpack kicked the night off right while hoopers, poi perfectionists, fire dancers and creative artists of all types scattered throughout the forest.  Up next was hands down, one of the most phenomenal  back to back sets I’ve borne witness to.  Philipp Jung of M.A.N.D.Y. and Audiofly expertly crafted a phenomenal Tech House set as the rare and highly acclaimed supergroup ‘M.A.N.F.L.Y.’  You could watch them put their minds together, determining the collective fate of the dance floor with excitement and glee. Evening manifested into morning, and a beautiful Blond:ish sunrise set. Though the temperatures got down to as low as 40 a night – we found that if you stayed on the dance floor and shook your groove thing, you could stay warm all night by heating up the dance floor with your stellar moves.

Waking up Saturday morning surrounded by a lush landscape, the cacophony of nature purring over a four to the floor bassline, completely disconnected from all forms of technology was the epitome of bliss.  Looking around, I was proud to be a member of this new tribe – a warm welcoming group of idiosyncratic individuals, donning duds from eons past into the further future; cummerbunds, galactic glitter shorts, top hats, bunny suits, glowing cat tails, bubble guns, flow toys and more shimmed around me – and that’s just from our campsite.  All it took was a day, and our ethos felt preserved, like a time capsule or a pressed flower. Adjusting to our beautiful new reality, we bounded down the trails in search of friends and mimosas, melody and merrymaking and found ourselves in the art tent, enraptured by the work of Jef Logan.

As we collapsed over each other while giggling in time with the music, Marbs casually strolled through the room with a hop in his step, a glimmer in his eye and his parents by his side. Sauntering to a sitting position, we gleefully exclaimed to his mother how amazing the festival was and that the beauty, art, creativity and kinship they were witnessing were possible because of their influence before resuming our cuddle puddle, once again lost in the shadow play and sunlight.  Starting our walk back to the campsite to prepare for the evenings festivities, Danny and I were stopped in my tracks by someone asking for a favor; we weren’t sure what we could offer, but decided to play along anyways. After handing over a copy of Shel Silverstein’s ‘Where the Sidewalk Ends‘ we were immediately whisked ten feet away to a stage where we were the main attraction for dozens of eager beavers, ready to lap up our linguistic talents.  “We’ve picked a poem for you! Would you mind reading? We’re ready!” Before my brain had a second to flirt with declining, I’d started in, with Danny chiming in on the next line.  Back and forth, we wove through the stanza in an impromptu slam poetry performance that reinvigorated my soul and humored my funny bone.

Reassembling back at the campsite, we kicked off Saturday evening with a hike into a gorgeous, open field.  For a few moments, we forgot there was even a festival in the background – less the dull roar of music in the distance. Quietly, we marinated in the beauty of the moment, our minds wandering outward to the cotton candy sunset cascading through the sky and inward, firmly grasping the concepts of community, friendship and love on a new, unified wavelength.  Shaking our way back to the stage, freak flags flew vivaciously from each and every direction as the freedom of individual self expression sprang to new heights, where inner children, superheroes, gods and goddesses emanated from each and every one of us. With one stage, one vibe and one rhythm – we’d metamorphosed into one giant, living, breathing, heartfelt, creative, magical, giving, dancing organism with the stage as our collective heartbeat.

The tunes Saturday night were a Desert Heart’s family affair, eloquently flowing between Deep Jesus, Marbs, Porkchop, Mikey Lion and Lee Reynolds from 6 at night til 4 in the morning. One of the many beautiful things about Desert Hearts is there’s no distinction made between performers, artists, musicians, production, staff, crew, festies and fanatics – there aren’t VIP passes or VIP booths, because w’re all DHP – Desert Hearts People. What that meant, was anyone and everyone was allowed to roam as they pleased across, around and through the campground; leading the most cavalier of folk to snag their five minutes of fame behind the DJ booth with their crew. Lost in a groove to a gorgeous rendition of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Dreams’, we danced the way we felt while bubbles and glitter cascaded around us. I didn’t make it to Atish, but my friends that did let me know how much I missed out.

By Sunday, we’d perfected the Desert Heart Bob – or the DHB for short – while salaciously serendipitous meetings of friends and strangers alike pulled on our heartstrings. Hilarious, funny and pun riddled totems floated throughout the festival with as much character as the individuals porting them.  There were festival go-ers from all walks of life, with one foot firmly planted in the convoluted reality of a 9 to 5 working job, while the other tapped in time to it’s unique, effervescent rhythm.  Desert Hearts is proof that if you build it, they will come; and if you play it, they’ll dance. The music on Sunday was on point, and heavier on the bass.  The night before, we discovered a full banana costume next to us on the floor – it wasn’t til Sunday’s shenanigans with Monkey Safari and the crowd going completely bananas that it all made sense.  Going into the evening, I’d reiterated over and over that we couldn’t miss Wobs; and did he ever hold up his end of that bargain. From the giant zebra flying through the crowd, to hilarious cardboard cameras with his name on them – his stage presence spoke volumes and the crowd celebrated in kind.

As we packed up our campsite Monday morning, we couldn’t help but reminisce on a beautiful weekend past and a bold new future to take the reigns on.  With the mentality of radical self reliance, we collectively decided that since we hadn’t exactly paid attention to which was the trash and which was the recycling – we’d lend some hands to the Green Team to sort through them; after all, it wasn’t on them that we didn’t remember, but I guarantee we all will next time!  To reward ourselves, we took one last stroll onto the dance floor and closed out the festival the only way one should – with the Desert Hearts DJs taking the reigns as a family, in an epic back to back set that I’m thrilled I got to witness. Hands down, one of the most beautiful Monday afternoons I’ve ever had.

Rousing ourselves away from the dance floor, we became lost once again in the moment – a 72 hour moment that seemed to linger like a perfume, tangled in the wind.  For 3 days, 72 hours, 4320 minutes, 359,200 seconds – glitter was a color, hugs were currency, laughter was lyrical, smiles became medicine and we truly were one. We came to Desert Hearts with beautiful intentions and without expectation and we left with our heads in the clouds and our feet still on the dance floor.  We laughed, danced and cried tears of joy; we were shaken to our core by how awe inspiring this world is and shown time and time again that it’s up to us to not only leave it better, but leave it beautiful.

We are all Desert Hearts, and there’s a message in our music. 

A HUGE thank you to the Green Team for promoting sustainability and ensuring we left the venue better than we found it; the Los Coyotes Tribe and Tribal Police for allowing us to gather and celebrate on their land; the Dance Safe Team for promoting intelligent partying; Symbiotic Creations and Alternative Lighting Solutions for a stunning stage presentation; Shangri-Lawless and Pile Palace for the great conversation and overflowing cuddle puddles; Harmonic Light for the unreal, unedited, mind blowing long exposure pictures; the Fire Performers and Dancers for a stunning display of grace and beauty;  the Desert Arts Foundation for the  enchanting and talented artists and art scattered throughout the festival; The DJ List for entrusting us to tell the world about our astounding experiences and Daniel Leist for being the best photographer, best friend, partner in crime and love a girl could ask for; the beautiful community that gathered together for four days and three nights under the stars with one heartbeat under one sound and last but certainly not least: Mikey Lion, Lee Reynolds, Marbs, Porkchop, Deep Jesus and the rest of the wonderful Desert Hearts family for an astounding event that inspires creativity and consciousness, individual evolution and communal revolution.

Make sure you stay in touch with Desert Hearts for the dirt on their next festival:

WebsiteFacebook | Soundcloud | Twitter | Instagram

For the rest of the Album – Head to our Facebook Page and Daniel Leist Photography

“I’m not strange, weird, off, nor crazy, my reality is just different from yours.”

[The Caturday Corner] Spring Coat Care for Cats

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Over the past few years I’ve more than cemented a name for myself as the Cat Lady of my social circle (and, my social media circles as well) but for an excellent reason – I own two (three now that my fiancee and I live together), take care of the four cats in my apartment and have spent a good amount of time volunteering at cat shelters and on the board for LA’s own Kitty Bungalow. Plus there’s the whole thing where I kind of act like a cat, but let’s save that story for another time ;) Now that Spring has sprung, I’ve noticed – as you invariably will –  that so has the pet fur around your pad; especially if you have black clothing, dark carpets or richly colored sofas and seats. With a shift in the weather, comes a shift in the actual coats your cats wear .

Until recently, I thought my older cat Sake had hairballs because he’d been going to town on himself; now that I’m using the Furminator brush on Stella and Daisy, our other two cats, I realize that they’re the actual cuplrits!  Low and behold, the big bristled brush that I’d been using on Sake’s medium coat simply wasn’t cutting it for short haired kittens. Depending on what breed of cat you own, or rather – the breed of cat that owns you – you could very well have your work cut out for you.  Long haired (furred?) cat breeds need to be brushed every three days, if not every other day; short haired and medium haired cats should be brushed at least once a week.For cats of all shapes, sizes and fur lengths – I completely recommend The FurMinator – not only is it a fantastic comb that literally gets all of the loose fur, but it’s a deshedder, too; and great for warmer weather! Plus, wouldn’t you like to wear a color other than ‘cat fur’ this season?

[The Audiofiles] Funky Beats for a Funky Mood

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 Originally, when I was getting ready for today’s post I had nothing but House, Techno, Love and Desert Hearts on the mind; if you’re not familiar with the group, trust me when I say over the next few years you’ll be hearing this name more and more frequently.  A band of merry music makers and rump shakers from in and around San Diego, the Desert Hearts tribe is more than just a community of conscious music lovers – they embrace the yearning, creative fire that burns inside all of us and manifest it into a whirlwind of a weekend.  From Friday morning through Monday morning, I’ll be grooving and moving to 72 straight hours of House Music.  If you think of EDC like a race, and Lightning in a Bottle was a marathon – ths might just take the title of Hippie Olympics in my book (sorry, LIB – it was good while it lasted!).  Plus, don’t get me started on the time, energy, love and passion it takes to last a week in the Desert for Burning Man – especially since I’ve yet to experience my own Playa Magic!

But, apparently – life had other plans for me. In the last 24 hours, I’ve dealt with and processed more emotions than I care to know about or share.  It should’t seem so convoluted that the world can turn on top of itself in the same amount of time it takes to breathe, blink and iterate a heartbeat – but at the end of the day, it still is.  I’m aware that we can only conquer or emotions if we make a conscious choice to control them, and doubly so that the people in our lives can give us expectation hangovers.   On a personal level, I absolutely am enthralled by people who are passionately, unequivocally, unapologetically themselves – almost to a fault.  I love the humanity it in, however flawed it potentially could be.  But somehow, all of a sudden – because I’ve never installed rules, guidelines or boundaries – it all backfires. You know, those fast friends where you invariably said some familial form of ‘I Love You’ much too soon without getting to actually know them; the people that you accept at 110%, but then refuse to give more than 25%.You don’t adopt a dog expecting it to meow, and you certainly don’t acquire friendships for the flippant sake of social guise.  The friends that I keep close to my soul are the ones that love me for the person I’ve become and constantly challenge me to be the best version of myself.  At moments of stagnation, of static movement – we’re not just standing still but we’re moving backwards; especially in a world where we have to run so fast just to stay in place.

‘When words fail, music speaks’ so I’m going to shut up and let these songs take it from here.  My heart hangs heavy, but my eyes are hopefully and my mind is open.