I’ve been on this quest to discover who I am for quite some time.

I think it started with my move to Germany. There I was in a brand new country with absolutely nobody who knew anything about me. That type of situation is just ripe for a new start, to begin again and truly start learning what makes up a person.

In that time, I learned that I can be bold when I need to be. When put into a situation when I really needed to start making friends and meeting people, I practically invited myself to this restaurant/bar-hopping event that led me to this wonderful group of people I’m still so lucky to get to call friends. Similarly, I had to navigate through train stations and countries that I had never been in before, knowing almost nobody. I was going to meet friends in both Paris and Switzerland, but much of my time in France was spent by myself. I learned that I can figure out solutions to almost any problem, which is an incredible feeling after thinking for years that I was just some hopeless waste of a person.

During that year, I also really started to cultivate my love for the written word. I started journaling almost daily and began to realize that when I actually tried, I had just enough natural talent to make an impact on others with my writing. I got several very encouraging emails from friends I hadn’t personally seen in years, and that support meant everything.

When I moved back to Texas, things were a little different. Looking through last year though, I’ve learned a few more things about myself. I’ve learned that I’m resilient. Being around people who actually knew about my marriage and who learned about all the actions that lead up to the divorce helped me see that I’m much stronger than I give myself credit. I can defeat those monsters and still have the ability to continue believing there is more for me out there.

I’ve also been a lot more emotional this past year than in the several years prior. I used to think of emotions, especially expressing them, as a sign of weakness. Even in the last twelve months, I’ve been so embarrassed when crying in front of someone. As a very wise friend told me once, after I apologized to him for losing it during a very difficult night and bawling my eyes out, that it was a real moment and I should never be ashamed of that. I was in tune with my emotions and trusted him enough to show how I was actually feeling. Learning my emotions has also made it possible for me to read other people’s emotions easier as well, which in turn allows me to help them through an uncomfortable situation or just to provide comfort.

So here I am, a bold, impactful, resilient, sensitive, and introspective person. I’m proud of those adjectives. They aren’t words I would have ever used to describe myself a few years ago, but I’m trying to be more confident, to be more invested in learning to appreciate who I am. People constantly preach “love yourself!”, which has always seemed like a selfish act, but I’m realizing that nothing can truly fall into place, nobody can really see the person that you are, if you aren’t willing to do that for yourself.

I typically don’t address any readers in my posts, because I like to think of this as a way to just get all of my thoughts out on a page, but if you are reading this, I encourage you to really sit down and practice this: get out a piece of paper, think through any hardships you’ve had in the past few years, act like they happened to somebody else, and choose words to describe that person after they’ve made it through to the other side. We often encourage others far much more than we encourage ourselves. Try to encourage yourself. It works wonders.

Israeli West Bank barrier - March 2014
Israeli West Bank barrier – March 2014

listening to: Tame Impala

Call to Arms

“All of us seem to have something to rebel against. For most of us, it’s the East Texas bubble that we grew up protected by for so long. It’s the conservative viewpoint that refuses to acknowledge the other side might have some answers as well. It’s our parents and striving to be nothing like them. We might have our failures, but they won’t be the same ones as theirs. We’ll accept our failures and attempt to learn from them. We’ll be open and honest and willing to share our sad experiences with each other instead of hiding them from the world in shame.

We’re learning that everybody makes mistakes for nobody is perfect. So we don’t strive for perfection. Better to celebrate our imperfections and enjoy how we can all be different but still enjoy the mad dance we’re all caught up in. We spin and twirl and we don’t know where we’ll end up, but it’s a beautiful experience while we’re all together.” -an excerpt from my Day 8 of Write Yourself Alive, an unedited stream of consciousness prompt

My mind works in an interesting way. I get really focused on one idea, but instead of just thinking about that specific topic, my thoughts wander all over the place and somehow tie everything else that pops into my head back to the original idea. This idea recently has been the emerging culture in Tyler, and how my generation, the collection of young creatives that are starting to band together, can help change and grow that culture.

There is so much talent I’m surrounded by every day. On top of the talent though, there’s a thirst for change. There’s a desire for creating inspiration. The issue is that we are still going unnoticed by many in the area we live in. We’ve got musicians, writers, inventors, entrepreneurs, creators of every kind, and it’s only a matter of time before we start making a real difference in our town. We live in an old town mostly run by old money and old ideals. I’m not saying we need a 180° turn from that, because we do need to take the time to learn from those generations, but our time is here. Opportunity is waiting for us to just reach out and grab it.

There’s a coincidence I find quite funny. My blog name, Knocked Out No Longer, came about from my divorce. Both my previous blog and my jewelry business had “K.O.” in the title because those were my initials at the time, and I always liked that they also stood for “knocked out”. When my marriage ended, it was if I was coming alive again- like there wasn’t the constant badgering and hurt causing me to live completely checked out from what was going on around me. Now, as I start writing more and more about the life I’m growing in this place I swore I would never return to, and as I see all of these people around me, I feel like this blog (or at least the title) is somewhat of a battle cry- a call to arms that our generation won’t be knocked out or knocked down any longer. It’s a way of standing up and making the older generations in the town notice us and appreciate what we have to offer and bring to the table.

So, I suppose this is mostly a call to those friends who support these ideals and want to see change happen. Yes, we make mistakes. Yes, we’re young. Yes, most of the people around Tyler don’t take us seriously yet. But we’re the generation that will create the change needed in this town. We can have a different outlook than our parents, our grandparents. We can take ideas and run with them. If we make mistakes, learn from them and continue. We’re resilient. We can do this.

MMK, Frankfurt, Germany - April 2014
MMK, Frankfurt, Germany – April 2014

listening to: Father John Misty, Portugal the Man

Underground Community

There’s an underground current rushing through Tyler, Texas right now. It’s a movement full of creativity and community, and it’s one that I wasn’t really expecting to experience.

The first time I lived here, I despised every second of it. I hated living in the south, and wasn’t a fan of how sheltered people seemed to be. Texas is a little world in and of itself, and many of the people I encountered didn’t care to expand their way of thinking. I moved as soon as possible for university in the funky little town of Fayetteville, Arkansas.

I adored Fayetteville after one visit. The weather was milder which made outdoor activities such as hiking and camping much more enjoyable. They have an amazing music scene, and local businesses are given a huge priority in the community. It was an exciting place to call home for a while.

Being back in Tyler has been an unexpected journey for me. I dreaded being surrounded by that small town atmosphere again. However, Tyler’s changed. There are so many people that I knew years and years ago that I keep running into that have joined this underground community. It’s a community built up of artists, musicians, and dreamers. It’s obvious that this culture is being built very intentionally, and that’s so exciting to me. I had a talk with a new friend yesterday who was talking about living in Tyler again, and he said that when he moved back to Tyler, he knew that if he wanted a good atmosphere to live in, he would have to part of the hard working group to create it.

It’s thrilling to be a part of a group of people who are creating a culture that they can be proud of living in. After all, we’re part of the generation that is ripe for initiating change.

“I like to surround myself with creative people. They love life in such a contagious way that can’t often be put into words” – Rachel Wolchin

East Gallery (Berlin Wall) - Berlin, Germany 2014
East Gallery (Berlin Wall) – Berlin, Germany 2014

listening to Bastille