#MonthlyPlaylist: September 2017

I like to keep it short & sweet for these. Let’s just give a bit of background to my music choicesfor this month before i go on to something else – something a bit “deeper,” if you will.

Not all these songs are old. Some are new. as you can see, they vary from “strip club anthem turn it up!!” (“Rake It Up” by Yo Gotti feat. Nicki Minaj) to empowering, assertive songs (“Blow Your Mind” & “New Rules” by Dua Lipa, “Watch Me” by Jaden Smith, & “Congratulations” by Post Malone feat. Quavo). Others are more emotional – let’s put “Sleepover” by Hayley Kiyoko, “Not Mine,” by Miquela (in love with her Instagram), “Sativa” by Jhene Aiko & Swae Lee, “Don’t Take The Money” by Bleachers (co-written by Lorde – fun fact!) & “Saturn Song” by Beach House. 

Anyways. This month was about me getting into my groove. It was about me accepting that I can be assertive & cocky while also being emotional & vulnerable. It was about me loving women & feeling good about it. It was about me going on adventures with myself. It was about me staying up late & thinking hard about things – some serious, others not so much. 

I’m getting into my groove. I’m getting into my groove. I feel more at peace with myself than I have in over a year. Typing that is incredible. I can’t believe I am typing that. Yet here we are. Here I am. 

Okay – I’ve talked too much, but I wrote something little about how I’ve been feeling this past month. I don’t know –  I’m a bit awkward with my “poetry” still (working on it) but I think it will get my point across in a succinct yet emotional way. Enjoy.

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A photo I took while on a walk, listening to this playlist. I always like to use photos I took in that month for my “playlist cover art.” It reminds me in even more detail about how I felt & what I was doing that past month.

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Listen to the playlist here. I wish you all a peaceful beginning of October.

Love,

Sof ❤

It’s Been Two Years Now, & Things Are Different

Hi, it’s me.

I don’t have much to say here; there’s not anything that requires analyzing or detailed explanations, because it truly boils down to a few things.

The first surgical procedure I had was in May 2015. While in the OR, my mama called Make A Wish. She asked them what they could do for me. I woke up with no knowlege of her asking them.

I wonder why, sometimes – but others, I don’t. Make A Wish is associated primarily with kids with cancer. No doubt about it…pediatric cancer patients make up a huge portion of Make A Wish’s grants. But cancer is not the only illness someone may have to “get the Wish perks” – which, by the way, is a gross statement. It implies that someone’s physical suffering they’ve endured for years can be made up with a single “wish.”

I think that if my mama had asked me if I wanted to apply, I would’ve said “no, absolutely not.” I got diagnosed a few days after my procedure; everything went on hold & a lot of things happened at once. I was angry, sad, in denial – going through the first large grieving process of my life. I didn’t want to be associated with my illness. I was ashamed of it, & I was angry at it for taking away things that I wanted.

But – my mama did not ask me if I wanted to apply. She did the paperwork, got a doctor signature, & presented me with the open option: want it, or not? I thought for 12 hours; I really did!!!

I didn’t know how to feel about being “a wish kid.” Was I sick enough? Was I delicate enough? Isn’t this just for people who have terminal illnesses?

First of all: Make A Wish is not only for children/teens that have terminal illnesses; others can include Crohn’s Disease or any other progressive, degenerative or malignant condition currently placing the child’s life in jeopardy.” AKA: you’re eligible for getting a wish if you have any life-threatening condition & are between 2 12 – 18 years old.

At the time, I still was unsure as to whether I should accept. There was guilt, there was denial, there was fright. But for God’s sake, I wanted to meet a band who’d brought me joy & laughs when I was in hospital beds. I especially wanted to meet Harry Styles.

By mid-summer, I got a phone call that left me crying – I would go to a concert to see & meet them backstage.

What I experienced that day was a whole 24 hours of pure, unfiltered joy; excitement, nerves, & happiness.

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I stayed in the room with the boys for about 15 minutes. That was more than I’d ever thought I’d get – & I left clutching a piece of paper with a doodle on it, after gifting Harry a scrunchie.

Today’s the 2-year anniversary of the day I met One Direction (sounds like a YouTube storytime title). I am a very, very different person.

I’m skinnier, I have less hair, I feel like I’m being crushed sometimes. But I have the same smile, I have the same flashes of joy, & I am years wiser. I have grown to love & accept my sexuality. I’ve learned not to even blink when an IV needle is threaded. I go into surgery with no problem (I do come out crying). I’m more world-weary, I’m tired, I’m sad.

My illness took a lot from me the past year. It took some relationships, friendships, & dreams right out of my hands. I can no longer play violin professionally (see why here). That broke me. Many things have broken me the past two years. It is why I dance outside in the sunrise; it is why I stay up at night, wondering what will become of my future.

Like I said – things have been snatched from me these past two years. I was violently dropped on the floor of adulthood at age 17 when I was hospitalized then diagnosed. It’s influenced the way I behave, the way I act, the people I associate with, & a lot more.

People have told me pain gives you an old soul. Maybe so – maybe not. But something that’s kept me going these past few years is bringing my mind back to those photos in that special file on my computer. I see how happy I looked in the photos; I can sense how joyful I felt. Every time I remember that, I am reminded that life can be cruel, horrible, terrible…but there will be flashes of sunshine. Some will last a long while. Others will be brief. But the 24 hours I spent preparing for “my Make A Wish” & then actually experience it are hard to beat.

I felt joy, love, & acceptance from people I’d never met before; from people who hadn’t known I existed. These people were ones I looked up to, & they treated me with the utmost kindness & respect.

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Before I left the room, I asked for Harry to draw me a small tattoo. He did. I fought for about a year to get it, but I got it. It’s a positive reminder on my body that this was something that happened…to me!!!!!

Don’t get me wrong: I know I’m still sick. That wish did not cure me – no wish can cure anyone.

However…I felt the thing that I believe Make A Wish wants the children & teenagers to experience: happiness, no worries, & yes, pure joy for however long their wish lasts.

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I have a reminder on my body, but I have more vivid ones in my head. I don’t believe that I would be sat here writing this if I hadn’t had a wish – I don’t know what I’d be doing at all, actually.

That’s kind of my point, though: I know some of you came for the One Direction photos. They’re amazing photos & I love them. But it means a lot more than some posed photos – it means that I can experience horrible things & still have joy in my life – & that my life is worth living because of those fast, fleeting (or beautifully slow) moments of joy.

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So, thank you to those who’ve followed my journey these past few years. It is still very surreal to me. Thank you to everyone new who found me through chronic illness, photos on Instagram, or any other social media. I hope I’m able to provide you with some comfort by trying to reassure chronically ill people of their worth, especially young women. If people hadn’t initially reached out to me on social media because they found out I was a “Make A Wish Kid,” who’d met One Direction, I highly doubt I’d be speaking so openly about my illness. I felt like I had something I could give to people; something that would help people. It took a lot for me to step up, but again – in time, I was able to proudly say I’d met them through Make A Wish, after working hard & trying to accept the labels “chronically ill” & “disabled.” Thank you for listening to me & reaching out for support, or giving me support. I appreciate it so endlessly!

Thank you to One Direction! Thank you to Harry Styles. Thank you to Make A Wish – I needed what you so graciously offered me, & I am so glad I accepted it. It’s something that has a special space in my heart.

I’m just very glad to be sitting here writing this right now. Thank you, thank you, thank you. To all the sick people out there wondering if they deserve a wish, let me answer the question: Yes, you do. You deserve that times a million.

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A special thanks to my mama, who knew exactly what she was doing when she secretly called Make A Wish. It would not have happened at all, were it not for her phone calls & endless support. I love you.

Love,

Sof ❤

If you’d like to donate to Make A Wish, you should do so here! If you think you’re eligible, trot on over here.

Two Movies I’m Glad I Saw This Summer

~If you don’t like spoilers & haven’t watched Baby Driver or Dunkirk yet, this probably isn’t for you. Scroll on!!!~

I love movies! I am very picky about the movies I love. That’s why I was so surprised to see two really enjoyable movies (only one day apart) this summer. I usually skip out on theater hype, since, in my experience, it’s not really been worth it.

Baby Driver

The first movie I saw was Baby Driver. I went in without really knowing what to expect – I just knew it had Jamie Foxx & Ansel Elgort…& Kevin Spacey. I read a tiny bit on the concept of it & found it a bit eye-rolling: kid uses music to cope? Okayyyy…

But truly: it was done very well. Almost every shot in the movie is coordinated to the drop of a beat, the high note of a song; it’s almost like you’re watching a music video…except it’s an hour & a half. I mean this in the best way possible.

I also really enjoyed how Baby was just kind of doing his own thing, dancing to his own music & tunes. It’s something I’ve started doing (I mean dancing in the street or in the car, not doing criminal getaways) & have found that it’s an amazing positive stress reliever. I loved how perfectly the soundtrack coordinated with the mood & action of the movie. I love the soundtrack, period! Seriously: download it on Spotify; it’s a winner.

Overall, I think there was some potential character depth that could’ve been explored – but the visuals & coordination to music was what made this movie so unique & worth watching. Ansel’s cute!

(Lily James though…oohhf!)

Dunkirk

I am not one for war movies. I’m not one for Christopher Nolan movies, to be quite honest: I never got into The Dark Night, etc. But when Christopher Nolan pairs with some of Britain’s most renowned actors to recreate a battle from World War II…on location….IMAX 3D….Hans Zimmer on the score…& Harry Styles as a supporting act.

Would I have seen this movie if I knew Harry Styles wouldn’t be in it? Good question. He definitely made me seeing Dunkirk a priority – I was curious about how he’d perform & interact with the cast (I wasn’t let down!). I doubt I’d have seen it opening weekend if he weren’t in it…but who knows? There were several other actors – Kenneth Branaugh & Mark Rylance – that I really respect & enjoy watching. With the good reviews it’s been getting, I probably would’ve liked this one.

I really enjoy accurate detailed historical documentation of certain events; I think it’s how I get to learn & store a lot of things in my brain. I have to say this was a reenactment that felt very raw; very real. Of course, there are explosions – it’s a war movie – & of course, there’s drowning & bombing & running & all that. This is just done somewhat differently.

There’s a lot of helicopter shots of the beaches of Dunkirk; there’s also a lot of amazing footage taken in a fighter cockpit. Truly – seeing the cruising plane near the end of the movie, with the skyline tipping back & forth, beautiful soundtrack to support – it’s an emotional experience. The film relies heavily on these visuals to provoke emotion, in my opinion. I’m not complaining, don’t worry!

What did I enjoy about Harry Styles’ performance, you might ask? Well – I’m glad he had an acting debut with a part like this. Styles is absolutely not the epicenter of the film. We don’t get those sexy close-up shots paired with winks, sexual implications, or love interests. Styles is just playing Alex, a soldier, who wants to survive the situation that he’s been thrust into.

I’d go so far as to say Styles’ character was extremely unlikable – & to me, it is a testiment to Styles’ acting that I truly did dislike the character. It didn’t feel forced or overdone. It was done really well, in a convincing manner. & it’s hard to dislike Harry Styles – even when he’s not playing Harry Styles. I disliked Harry Styles in this situation.

I think Styles has some great potential that Nolan (& the casting director) clearly recognized. But there was no “Harry Styles” overload. I think he was treated the same as the other actors in that role type & it shows.

I think this was a great way for Styles to show off his acting chops without having to say (lines) too much. My mama described him the other day as a Renaissance man! I have to say that after seeing his performance, I might believe that.

Overall, however – Harry Styles aside – I truly enjoyed the movie. I’m glad I went to see it. Some of the plane footage reminds me of Roald Dahl’s chronicles of his time in the U.K. airforce – these books were read to me as a child so it was somewhat nostalgic to see this kind of activity displayed on screen, not paper. I think the visuals are incredible; the active is decent at worst; the setting is beautifully accurate: Nolan did most of the filming on the actual beaches of Dunkirk.

I’m wondering if this one will turn up at the Oscars. I’m hoping to see soundtrack nominated; I don’t think Best Picture or Actor(s) are really in the cards. I do think it’s an absolutely worthwhile movie to see. I learned a lot, got a close-up look, felt very emotional at times. It did all the things I want a movie to do…with some amazing actors stuck in there.

That’s all I’ve seen this month! Well, going out to see, anyway. I don’t watch many new films/movies at home, Moonlight being an exception. I tend to rewtach old things- so, I often am behind on the newer movie trend. Seeing two very enjoyable two movies in two days, however, reminded me to keep checking my Fandango. There’s always something great out there – & I want to be some part of it.

What’s next on my list? Not sure, but the film Detroit looks incredible.

What are the movies you’ve been loving this month? Old or new? Why? Let me know!

Love,

Sof ❤