A dear friend made an observation about me in passing today; when I go to my “resting face” (while idly walking around or not doing anything specific), it is a noticeable smile. As she said this, I became more aware and very satisfied with the fact that I do something like this naturally, and that someone close to me noticed it. I guess that truly the jist of me, myself, is the extent to which I value and cherish the happiness of myself and those around me. Personality-wise, I am a puzzle like anyone else, made up of quirks, traits, habits, and a history that has shaped my actions and outlook; however, I believe every aspect of my life comes back to the fact that everything I choose for myself ultimately bring me happiness and joy.
Many things in my life make me smile, but there are a few pieces in the puzzle that are more meaningful than others. First of all, I am extremely proud of my heritage and background; I am Irish Catholic (3rd generation on my dad’s side!) and I grew up in a fantastic town in South Jersey, outside of Philadelphia. From before I was born, my dad was involved in a String Band which was part of the Philadelphia Mummers Association. I recently learned that from him coming home and singing “mum songs” to me from when I was an infant, it got me hooked on music from the very start. I have always regarded New Year’s Day as my favorite holiday (because of the Mummers Parade), but now it holds an entirely new meaning. And, ironically enough, one of the reasons my dad joined the mummers was to go to take his father (who I call “Poppy”) to Ireland! Twenty-two years and three trips later, he was prepared to take his family to Ireland to show his children their roots. This past summer, I was humbled and overjoyed to be able to visit my Grandmother’s cousins and see the land that my Great-Grandfather came from almost a century ago. Unfortunately, my “Poppy” passed away this past April. He was one of my role models in life and in music: his cousins called him the “Irish tenor” as he would always be on the mic at parties and reunions! Although it was upsetting not being able to share my experiences with him, I felt his spirit with me in Ireland and especially now when I perform.
Through my Poppy’s “music genes,” the environment I was brought up in and some excellent music teachers in my Elementary school career, I was able to find a passion and my ultimate purpose in life at a very young age. Upon graduating the fifth grade, I told my music teacher, my parents, and myself that I also wanted to be a music teacher when I grew up. I used the next 6 years of my primary schooling to take advantage of every single musical opportunity that was given to me: from auditioning for select choirs, to turning pages for accompanists, to even taking up the tuba! My open minded and determined nature made it so that I enjoyed rising to the occasion of any challenge that music presented me. Through all of these challenges and the variety of experiences, I was able not only to reaffirm my passion but was also to make irreplacable friends and memories that will last me a lifetime. Now, being closer each day to a profession in teaching, I am becoming more and more excited to be able to share my experiences with my students and to help them create memories of their own!
In retrospect on the longevity of my “ultimate life goal,” I have realized that very many things in my life are consistent. Some consistencies include my favorite food, (macaroni and cheese), favorite movie, (“The Wedding Singer”,) favorite baseball team (The Phillies-although I went through a brief Yankees phase of which I do not like to speak) and, most importantly, my best friends. I always strive to make new friends everywhere I go, but I have been fortunate to have the same four girls stick through it all for the past fifteen years. I met each of them at different walks of life, but all very early on. They each have contributed so many aspects to my personality and my outlook that have truly helped me grow into the person I am today. Although we have all had our little tiffs throughout the years (15 years of friendship is no joke), we are always there for each other at the end of the day. The thought of being at different colleges has scared us at first, but it has only made our friendship stronger: when we all get together, it seems as if no time has passed!
The most unforgiving aspect of my personality, and the one that shows the most when one truly gets to know me, is my positive attitude. Having an open mind, being an idealist and enjoying the happiness that even the smallest things in life can bring all contribute to my general outlook on life. I have encountered some people that find flaws in my “system”, and who do not undestand how somebody can be that happy all the time. I do accept that bad things happen in life, and I try not to dwell on them because I don’t always understand why they happen. However, I do know that in almost all situations you can find some kind of a loop hole, or a silver lining. It also helps that I’m constantly playing music to keep my mood up-watching certain songs or performances (like Beyoncé’s halftime performance at the 2013 Superbowl) motivate me and get me in a mood like nothing else can!