2016 was the hardest year of my life. I watched my mother battle cancer, until April, when she lost that fight. I have always been an optimistic person, full of love with a knack for spreading positivity but when my mom passed away, I quickly fell into a depression, unlike anything I’d ever known. How does someone obsessed with sparkles and unicorns flip to the mindset that, if this is the new normal, then I don’t want to be here…
It all happened very suddenly. In year five as a freelance artist in Los Angeles, I found out my mom was sick. That day, I quit all of my jobs, packed a suitcase, said goodbye to my “ride-or-dies” and moved back to Kentucky, a place that I never imagined calling home again. Becoming my mom’s caretaker, day and night, was the most special thing I’ve ever done, right up to the moment that she passed away in my very arms. Pancreatic Cancer took her life in exactly 2 short months and when she passed, I felt like I had nothing. It’s safe to say that bad decisions and me immediately became besties and I spent early summer doing anything and everything I could to escape reality.
There is light at the end of this tunnel… I promise.
For 15 months this story has written itself, and to make a long one short, I’ve decided to break it into smaller pieces about how I’ve regained purpose through grief.
During this process, I’ve learned that it is never too late to do anything you set your mind to and it is my hope to inspire others to believe the same.
Without any further ado, here is my first blog post, the first of many.
I have always loved music. It moves through me and influences all aspects of my life. More recently I have relied on it to keep my head in a positive place – to inspire me to follow through, to stay in a healthy mindset and achieve my goals – like starting a jewelry business, focusing on natural healing and growing as an environmentalist.
Music is the kind of therapy that has changed my life for the better, and a steadfast message of a Brighter Future has inspired me more than any other.
MORE THAN MUSIC
I have been following Dominic Lalli and Jeremy Salken of Big Gigantic for the last seven years, not only because they are incredible musicians but because of the uplifting message and positive vibes that they continue to promote.
More so, since the release of their latest album, BRIGHTER FUTURE. At a time when I was constantly flipping between lost, numb, sad, and self-destructive – hearing some of their new tunes drop at Forecastle Festival 2016, struck more than just a nerve. Despite my unhealthy behaviors that summer, conscious points came during my experiences seeing live music.
Electric Forest brought several moments of enlightenment but it was seeing Big Gigantic in Louisville, Kentucky on November 9th that set off my magical music alarm clock, WAKE UP, LISA! YOUR BRIGHTER FUTURE IS RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU.
It said, keep living your free spirited, creative life with passion. Keep living consciously and “thinking hempy thoughts.”
I’d be lying if I said it’s been all sunshine and glitter since that day. I hit a lot of brick walls that took weeks to build back up, but one thing is for sure; from that day forward, when Big G was close, whether it be seeing them live or starting my day listening to their music, I was full of motivation and inspiration and felt comforted. I can’t put it into my own words how I make sense of it, so I’ll borrow some from a new friend of mine,
“Everyone can feel moved by a song or melody. Moved to tears without a word, a smile without seeing a thing, chills from head to toe without moving an inch of your body. We can express so many emotions through the language of music and I feel like it’s a neutral place in our world where people can come together and get on the same level emotionally no matter what their background is.” -Domonic Lalli
After the shows in Denver in December and St. Louis in March, I knew I had to meet these guys.
Just as all stars align, this Big Gigantic year came full circle.
This summer, I had the greatest pleasure of attending both weekends of Electric Forest Music Festival. Working with the sustainability program Weekend 1 (which you can read about on my awesome roommate’s blog ) and enjoying the Good Life Weekend 2, Big G made at least 7 different appearances throughout.
My festival sidekick, Sassy, a green inflatable saxophone, and I got to the front row for almost all of them.
It was Weekend 2’s Thursday night VIP set when Sassy’s magic twinkle lights and sequin ruffled skirt caught the eye of not only one member of the band but two. After I got a smile and a thumbs up, a sharpie marker appeared in my hand (THANK YOU ELECTRICOLOGY TEAM) and I hung over the rail and yelled WILL YOU SIGN MY SAXOPHONE?! The rest is history.
Meeting my favorite musicians in the world was a dream come true. Not only did I get their autographs, a big hug, and a few photos, but I got to tell them a little bit about how much their music means to me.
When I said thank you, Dom and Jeremy both looked at me and said “No, THANK YOU.”
Talk about a genuine class act.
Focusing on this idea of a brighter future has enabled me to write my own framework for learning to live without everything that my mother was to me. I could easily choose to stay in the dark, feeling sorry for myself, rebelling against reality OR shift this tragic event towards gratitude for the 28 years that I was blessed with the most incredible woman I’ll ever know. She brought me back to Kentucky for a reason, and I have faith that everything is happening exactly as it is meant to be.