My oh my, it’s been a while hasn’t it?
It was a wild end to the year, with calming reflections and coming at peace with myself and the turbulence of my life. I feel within the past months and year, I’ve come to a place in my life where I’ve become more sure, confident and familiar with myself, my relationships, how much energy I put out and into the things I want and the people I care about.
These first few months into 2020 have been completely unexpected, exciting, exhilarating and inspiring. And the best part? I’m not even questioning it. I’m just rolling with it.
As you may have noticed, my monthly vlogs and blog posts have been on a bit of a “hiatus”. First, I was unsure if I wanted to keep compiling vlogs every month after having done so for 2+ straight years since I left my home in the Bay Area (24 vlogs, countless hours and songs and clips spent compiling on my janky old laptop?! Wow.). Second, I was living more of my life, focused in the present moment, caught in the wind and rush that… I just haven’t been able to sit back and process everything going on. I’ve been as present as ever, but with all the new changes, I wanted to get a good routine in for myself.
Coming into this new “phase” in my life and a new year, I wanted change. I wanted to focus on different things and projects that the vlogs may have felt unnecessary and time-consuming to that process.
But… I’ve been happy, peaceful and content for the most part.
In September (the last I ever really made a life update on here for you all), I had a big wake up call to trust my intuition and never let my social time with a friend put my guard down. My roommate and I were introduced to some lovely new friends, but we also got robbed that same night. We bonded with some of our best friends here in LA who have taken the liberty to be there for us (so much love for you Kirby and Alex). I was out of a car for two weeks. I took a day trip to Vegas to see Bruno Mars and eat and drink the finest with a dear friend. I also serendipitously joined Meg & Dia on their comeback tour for a week (which absolutely blew my mind; I mean, can my 12-year-old self wrap her head around such a rare, opportune and eye-opening moment?).
Seeing how a band throws on a tour, prepares the logistics, checks into venues, soundchecks, takes enough mental and physical breaks to perform, meet fans, sign albums and take photos, and also head back into the van the next day after packing up after a gig at 2am as you account for merchandising and sales…
What in the hell?! What an experience. And what an opportunity I will never forget.
In October, I saw many movies, went to many red carpet premieres (“Jexi” was awesome), spent time on various film and television sets as the best background actor for some very cool sitcoms, bonded with my friends in the Guild of Music Supervisors & Film here in Los Angeles over studio visits to where Adele recorded 21 and many open bars in Hollywood.
My good and very talented friend Timo and I also caught up over coffee, music and LA wanderings (ever since first meeting in 2017 when I was just new to LA and had been here for less than 6 months since doing a little magazine internship at Kore Asian Media) and developed such an insanely artistic photoshoot with my beloved guitar and the red hues of Chinatown.
Those photos have easily become my favorite photos ever taken of me to date — and I’m so inspired by them everyday. I feel those photos best capture my spirit, my wisdom, my belief and love for this thing called life, music and the guitar.
My November, December and holidays were pretty peaceful, I have to say.
For a good portion at the end of the year, a part of me became so overwhelmed by everything — the attention I was receiving, the numerous “creeps” entering my life and guys who think they know me through social media, and so many people just seeing me. The attempts to hang out with me became overwhelming. I was invited to so many events (which is funny to think how 2018 was spent me going to show after show by myself, solo, sometimes taking a friend, covering and interviewing artists and just consuming so much, rather than my newer desire to stay in, be with myself and create).
“Don’t give everyone the privilege to have access to you. You’re too special.”
I wanted to maintain a sense of privacy.
I’ve come to a place in my life where I feel at peace with who and what I am, where I’m at, and I don’t feel the need to share my story every day.
To limit content and stories to stuff that connects, that resonates, that matters and doesn’t waste people’s time (ha, mind the few memes or nature photos and self-help quotes from time to time), I’ve gotten a barrage of DMs and creeps and people going up to my roommate to talk to me that it all just became so much and so weird… I wanted to silence the noise on my private life and keep it to myself.
Over the holidays, my good music friends who have believed in me from the start as a doe-eyed 22-year-old naively hopeful musician who was too scared of herself and her potential, met with me for coffee.
“You walked into the room and I felt like you were just here. Present. You’re just living and being,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong, but I feel like a year ago you were kind of skinny and not eating. You didn’t seem happy or at peace. But I feel that from you now.”
I replied to him, “You know. I’m glad you say that. It’s funny to think how a year ago, I was really down and confused within myself. I was broke and had no job and loved running to get air from my room and the vitamin D and get my body moving.”
I continued, “I had nothing else to do. My emotions seemed to disable me, and I feel like I’m at a much healthier, happier place. And yes, I’ve been eating more, haha.”
At this point in my life, I feel I’ve come to an honest, hopeful and place of love where I’m just here.
Yes, I’ve started working as a barista/waitress again, and my income has been more than it ever has been before (my café tips are insane to my monthly paycheck). I feel like I’ve finally reached some sort of stability and routine with my work where I’m not having to worry about money or my livelihood everyday.
It’s given me some sort of freedom to let all that unnecessary stress and burdens go, and just focus on my work, love, life, self, relationships and passions.
Albeit, I can become a bit of a workaholic and never have a set routine, but I’ve been able to feed myself more regularly (lol) and have a place I can clock in, get out, interact with new people everyday — some who inspire the heck out of me, who are godsends or pleasant surprises. I’ve found that as music and writing are very solitary acts for me, spending time to get out for work and just be and come across all types of people gives me a sense of ease to fuel my solitary work.
January was met with an inspiring ease into the new year, with a gradual ease flowing into my workplace with consistent hours and pay, plus a weekend spent in Anaheim surrounded by the entire musician community at NAMM (spending times with new and old friends, meeting up with friends across to home in the Bay to the East Coast, Hawaii and beyond), geeking out over Nuno Bettencourt, and even hanging with him and Gavin DeGraw on a random night out in Hollywood as my good friend Alex brought my roommate Angela and I to our first hockey game.
I even spent some intimate nights with Mandy Moore as she threw on a four-week residency at the Bootleg Theater in Historic Filipinotown, to celebrate the release of her new album Silver Landings — her first album in ten years — with an intimate night in Los Angeles celebrating the Los Angeles music community, bringing on her cowriting Grammy-winning songwriters on her album, such as the women masterminds behind A Star Is Born and more.
It was also lovely to just spend nights out treating myself, gladly buying my own tickets and not having to work or do some other job. My good friend Alex was also such great company to fangirl over Mandy Moore (right in front of her face, front-row and center, the heck?! 🤯), and just catch up and see how we are after having continually gone through many moments and shows and concerts together.
Most recently, within the past month, I have done more than I ever have and stacked my schedule in a way that was completely exciting, unexpected, fitting but very worth it.
My good friend Kaitlyn and I had serendipitously met and ran into each other towards the end of last year (I was attending Dante Basco’s book signing with his family and friends, while she was writing to a deadline there, and had met at a time where I was at peace with myself, my life and self, and was itching to collaborate more; I’ve had an open schedule and availability to make more room for music, projects and content with others; and I also had become very sure of what I wanted and was itching to find those people I could work with; open heart, open mind ya?! 💛💫).
Come February, once my January escapades had come to a slow, we wanted to work on a cover video and song. My roommate wanted to direct a music video for us. We rehearsed and practiced on Valentine’s Day, and spent our time making music, reflecting on ourselves, our lives and our natures — and I honestly have loved reflecting on our personalities and habits, making sense of ourselves (and sometimes, it’s these moments and conversations with another that really force me to see myself and how I am compared to others). I have to say, I am always pleasantly surprised by myself, because since I spend so much time by myself and feel very much of a “happy loner” (lol) working on projects for myself and am a bit of a #homebody, I never quite see or get how others become so “enamored” or intrigued by me (friends’ words, not mine).
Throughout the past few years, we’ve had random meets where we would check in, and I was very much figuring myself out when I first moved to LA.
Two and a half years ago, I moved with a naive hope, as a girl who thought she knew what she wanted, but had to develop a sense of confidence, self-assuredness, and belief and faith in herself (which is not something you can quite just “get,” but have to let yourself grow through).
That had to come with the growing pains, learning to grow up, be an adult, survive in a new city all on her own, find new friends and a community, while learning to be creative, seek opportunities, and take care of her heart, mind, body and soul…
I have to say, I’m quite proud of myself. I think back to where I was a bit more than a year ago, and how I was in a place of complete darkness (“Through Thick and Thin”). I detailed that spinning spiral of a mental rollercoaster in that blog post, where my emotions had become so much — my heart was heavy, I wanted to do so many different things but was doing nothing at the same time, and was consistently going to shows and covering and doing press for other artists, that the artist in me who had a need to express felt suffocated.
Fast forward to today, just within the span of one month, we have recorded three songs, recorded two music videos with our friends who were willing and wanted to, have curated a set-list enough for an hour’s gig, and even did a last minute commercial audition (which was also my very first, ever, which surprisingly went so well for #nonactingrachel).
It’s all so exciting, but a part of me has realized the rational side of me always kicks in. “Don’t get too excited Rachel,” I say. “Don’t get too ahead of yourself.” “Let’s focus on one thing at a time.”
I listen to what my countless interviews with musicians and music managers have told me as a doe-eyed journalist throughout the years: “Know your strengths and weaknesses, and play your strengths up.” “Authenticity is everything.” “Just do it and put it out there.” “You already have an audience, so you’re much further along than a lot of us.”
My life as a journalist has given me so much perspective and an understanding of all sides of this industry, being an artist, the team behind the artist, the logistics that go behind, and, most especially, the marketing and reaching out and having a voice to connect…
To be honest, a part of me has known and believed in my potential for so long.
I’ve had enough life reassurances since I was 15; I’ve known the many compliments I have gotten on my talent, look and humility. I’m thankful and grateful for it all, but perhaps a part of me still struggles with completely and wholly believing in herself in really embracing the artist in me. I get in my own way. I fixate on being busy and doing so many other things, while constantly feeling the need to improve. I am confident in myself as a human being and person who knows how to take care of herself, be an independent and self-sufficient woman who has never quite needed someone else to rely on, yet is entirely empathetic and feels so strongly with the world (yet always lives in her own world, simultaneously).
Out in the light
Facing the wind
Got nothin’ to hide
Ready to begin
To begin, to begin again
It’s kind of crazy how fitting Mandy Moore’s Silver Landings seems to resonate with my life — and she seems to have resonated with me throughout my entire life, from a 12-year-old tween girl relating to heavily to Jamie Sullivan and A Walk To Remember, to finding herself again going through her own growing pains with Mandy Moore (ha). I feel like this song kind of fits where I am and where I’ve been — and it’s so exciting.
I feel a rebirth. I feel the coming of a new age. And as I close the door on my 26th year on the 9th and make another circle around the sun, I welcome 27 with open arms.
I thank you, always and always, for coming along, joining me on this ride, and being a part of my journey.
With love and honesty,