Thanksgiving and Expansion: Thoughts on Brandi Carlile and the Oregon Symphony

brandi carlile

In Spring 2013, I had a stroke of luck when I landed front row seats to Brandi Carlile and the Oregon Symphony show. After looking forward to it for months, the day arrived last week.

My party and I arrived and were seated, and as the show started, and I felt the music in my body, I started to feel my heart opening.

Brandi Carlile is my favorite singer/songwriter. Her music, lyrics, and her philanthropist's heart, as well as her tendency to wear vests and "shit-kickers," all make me a huge fan. (Check out her non profit, the LookingOut Foundation, here).

As a classically trained violinist who always dreamed of playing in a band, the rich sounds of the symphony performing Brandi's songs felt like two of my favorite worlds colliding.

As the concert went on, I literally felt the expansion in my chest. I watched and listened in wonder and awe. The older bald man who played the string bass so enthusiastically. The conductor who was so clearly a Brandi fan. The way Brandi loved how they pulled off the song "100" so well with the orchestra that afterwards she did a spin on stage and threw her guitar pick in the air.

It all was magic. I realized in those moments that my creativity started flowing. I was experiencing not only heart expansion, but new and creative ideas, as well as a feeling of HOME in my own heart and soul. It felt priceless. Pure joy.

These are the moments that make my life worth living.

The experience of this show made up for so many moments that were hard in my life, or lonely, or not exactly what I wanted. The richness of it all was so life-affirming.

And yet I noticed that even with all the joy and happiness I felt, I also started doing what Brené Brown calls "foreboding joy." "Foreboding joy" is the experience of being in a moment where you are so happy and content and joyful that you stop enjoying it because you know it can't or won't last. This is why Brown says joy is the hardest emotion we experience. It requires vulnerability. But Lord, is it ever worth it.

I started worrying and feeling sad that this moment of pure joy wouldn't last. Until I identified I was foreboding my joy and reminded myself that I can create these moments, or moments like them, in my life more often. They don't have to happen only once every few years.  I realized I want to make a list of things that expand my heart and tap into my creativity more often.

I want to create the opportunity for joy in my life more frequently.

Granted, I can't go to a Brandi Carlile/Oregon Symphony show every weekend (oh, how I wish I could!). But, I do have an album of her playing with the Seattle Symphony at Benaroya Hall that I can listen to any time I want. I can play my violin. I can snuggle with my love and my dogs. I can write poetry, I can drive in the country. I can listen to inspiring people speak.

Life is about the moments that remind us who we are at our core.

The moments when we transcend our troubles, our anxiety, our fear, and venture to the place where we find our truest and highest self.

Who are you at your core? Where are you or what are you doing when you start noticing expansion in your heart, and the feeling of HOME inside your body, no matter where you are?

What are things you can create every day to experience more joy in your life? What are the events or trips or concerts that you want to plan and look forward to?

Joy is what makes my life worth living. Joy is at the center of my loving moments. Gratitude is what gets us there.

Today is a wonderful reminder that practicing gratitude can change your life.

I know it's beginning to change mine. Choosing joy. And in those moments when you can't find the joy, find something you can be grateful for.

Practicing gratitude is the gateway to joy.

Happy Thanksgiving. And many thanks to Brandi Carlile and the Oregon Symphony for the life-affirming, joy-filled experience of your recent show.

xo

Niki

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