I’ve been freeeeeeeeaking out lately.  I’ve been feeling unsettled and uninspired and unEVERYTHINGYOUCANIMAGINE.

Someday I write about it all but at the moment it’s still sort of got to be kept under wraps.

When I was a kid, my mom spent a lot of time cross-stitching.  Every Christmas she’d make my brother and I a cross-stitched Christmas tree ornament with our name and the year on it.  She stitched elaborate pieces of art as wedding gifts and for her own walls.  At some point that hobby sort of faded into others, but I vividly remember her sitting in her chair, a blanket on her lap and a hoop and needle in her hands.  I tried it once or twice when I was a kid, but I would get frustrated and give up if I made a mistake, so it never really lasted.

Recently, though, I’ve discovered something similar that is really calming – hand stitching.


I started these guys a year ago, intending to have them done and hanging on a tree by Christmas.  I cut all the pieces and then just couldn’t decide on the best way to fasten them all together (glue? sewing on the sewing machine? hand stitching?) and so they just never got done.  I finally made a decision about a week ago, and I’ve been on a rampage ever since. Well – as much of a rampage as one can sustain while doing something as slow and methodical and stitching by hand.  But it’s been AMAZING.  It makes my brain quiet.  It makes my hands quiet.  It makes my heart quiet.  There hasn’t been a lot of quiet in my life lately (mostly my own doing, I admit) and something as simple as this has brought it all down a few notches.

I can see why my mom used to spend hours doing this stuff.

I think once these guys are done, I might start designing some non-licensed-character ornaments to sell on Etsy, or maybe make these as gifts. I’ve also been pinning the heck out of some embroidery tutorials.  It’s nice to have found something so simple that feels so right?  Does that sound cheesy? I know it does.  Don’t judge.

What’s calming you lately?

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Paying it Forward, Pt. 2

On Sunday an event invitation made its way to me on Facebook.

On Monday, for some reason I can’t even articulate, I decided to go back and read some of the archives at  They’re still there.

I like me then, even though I could be a little abrasive at times.

I have been hearing this sentiment a lot lately, but I miss the old blogging days.  Many people have commented on the way the communities have changed, and I have noticed that too.  Some people have commented that the internet is so much more public now, and I really hear that. I mean, it was always public, but it’s harder to go unnoticed these days, with grandmothers and their Facebook accounts.  But what I miss most was just my own openness; the time I had to myself to think and strive to be thoughtful and encouraging (I failed sometimes, but who doesn’t fail sometimes?).  I think something changed in me when I went self-hosted.  Even though I never really hid my identity on the other iterations of my blog, this space made me feel especially exposed.  Honestly, it still does, sometimes.

I really want to blog like the old days. I really want to look at the world and see the good and come back and tell you all about it. I want that desperately.

And I tell myself, someday.

But Monday, I had my past self.  I had my archives.  I had that good attitude and helping spirit shining forward to me from years ago, and I think if I hadn’t gone back to read my old blog on my lunch break, I would have missed the best opportunity I have had in a long while.

Did you read that link to my blog up there?  Let me give you another chance.  When I wrote this particular post, I was still living in Murfreesboro, working retail, finding solace from a job I hated in the wonderful people I got to work with.  A few months earlier, I had a little coffee shop show and almost everyone I worked with showed up (along with a few other friends, to boot). I felt loved and supported and like maybe, after nearly a year in Tennessee, I might finally belong here.  So when a friend and coworker told me about her senior art show, I made it a point to go, because I knew how great that felt.  And seeing the smile on her face when I showed up – priceless.  I don’t think about it much, but reading this post took me back.  I still see it clearly.

A few people commented on the post – I was still getting comments in those days, ha! – and the overall sentiment was yeah! awesome! keep doing stuff like that!  The first comment was Eric’s.

On Sunday an event invitation made its way to me on Facebook, from Eric.  He was going to be here, promoting his new book (seriously, how cool is that?). Grant was out of town, it was short notice to invite anyone else (I did try, but you know, short notice), so I was on the fence about attending.  But on Monday, I read that post, and I knew it wasn’t an option anymore.

I walked into the tiny little book store (one minute early and the first one there.  no one told me book readings don’t start on time) and cautiously stepped into the back room.  He was the only one there.  And he looked up.  And I said hello.  And that friend at her senior art show?  His face did the same thing.

I mean, I guess the point of all of this is – wow, our blogging community, all of these years later. These connections may very well last a lifetime.  Thank you guys from the bottom of my heart for being my friend.

And also – go out and support your fellow humans.  The high is so much better than any high you’ll find by trying to help yourself.



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Because Daydreaming Is the First Step

I’ve been considering a lot of “next steps” lately. I’m beginning to feel a bit like a kid with “Senioritis,” knowing there is an end (and a beginning) in sight, but not having the power to get there, not yet.

A lot of the issue with that “not yet” has been fear.  Of course. Fear of my own abilities, fear of change, fear of failure.  Fear fear fear. But I’m really tired of being afraid.  Truly. And the best way to make big changes is to take baby steps. My first baby step, today, was making this list:

  • If things changed tomorrow, this is how I would spend my day:
    • Get up at 7:00, when Grant leaves.
    • Make coffee
    • Check email and clean it the heck out
    • Blog
    • Vocal exercises
    • Organize existing songwriting ideas
    • Renew NSAI membership
    • Sing sing sing sing
    • Clean up after myself, because there’s time
    • Find a place to set up my mbox/microphone so it’s easily to plug in and record when writing
    • Write a little (just a little)
    • Be done with “work” when Grant walks in the door.
  • If things changed tomorrow, this is how I would spend the day after that:
    • Get up at 7:00, when Grant leaves.
    • Make coffee.
    • Check email.
    • Blog
    • Vocal exercises
    • Sing sing sing sing
    • Write a little (a little more than the day before)
    • Pick a song and send it in to NSAI for critique
    • Go through NSAI event calendar and make a plan to attend any events possible
    • Figure out how to ask my voice teacher for help. You know, beyond the singing help she’s already so awesome at providing.
    • Be done with “work” when Grant walks in the door.  Possible squeeze in a trip to the grocery store.
  • If things changed tomorrow, this is how I would spend the third day:
    • Get up at 7:00, when Grant leaves.
    • Make coffee.
    • Check email.
    • Blog.
    • Vocal exercises.
    • Sing sing sing sing.
    • Write a little (a little more than the day before0
    • Write emails. And Facebook messages. And tweets. And send one great song. To those people.  Those people I know.  There are a few of them. Those people who could help.
    • Keep writing.
    • Make a plan for recording a demo.


If things changed tomorrow, life would be terrifying.  Maybe it’s time for that.

But… not quite tomorrow.

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Towels Coming Out of My Ears and other Stream of Consciousness Nonsense

Right now I’m hanging out in bed with a glass of sangria and my ipad (except now I’m on Millie the Macbook for ease of blogging, but just a second ago – the ipad) feeling pretty proud of myself.  Grant and I got up fairly early this morning (for a weekend, anyway, but make no mistake. We let the sun get up before us), made coffee and breakfast, watched an episode of Voyager (Sci-Fi Saturday Mornings are my thing – like grown up Saturday Morning Cartoons – unless I get so unbelievably hooked on a show that my life turns into Sci-Fi Anytime until I make it to the end *ahem-Battlestar Galactica-ahem*) and then got to work.

Clean clothes which have been piled on chairs on Grant’s side of the room for months?  Folded and put away.  Extra hangers laying everywhere? Put away.  Piles of clothes in lumpy messes in the closet?  Looking like a retail shop again. And the best thing is – three closets (THREE! CLOSETS!) were all totally torn apart and put together again.  There is a pile as tall as me for donation and recycling sitting by our front door.

For. The. Win.

The biggest thing we decided to do when we committed to living here longer-term than we originally planned was go through everything (and I mean – again! – because we did this a little over a year ago when I moved in) and decide what could go and where it should go.  That second part is possibly the more important piece there, because we have had almost one entire closet FULL of towels for the last year.  Of course they all get used, because I hate laundry, but then we have baskets and baskets of towels everywhere and it takes three days just to wash all of them! (our washer/dryer – oh, we’re so thankful to have one at all up here – is itty bitty).  I’ve been meaning to get rid of AT LEAST half of them since the moment I set foot in this place, but the thing is – what do you do with towels? That is way too much stuff to just throw away, but surely Goodwill doesn’t take towels right?  Even the ones you’ve never used?

(side note: we did NOT register for towels for our wedding, and we only received one rogue pair of towels as a gift.  This was a pre-existing condition, mostly leftover from my college days wherein I accepted a whole boat-load (probably literally) of lost-and-found towels from the swimming pool where I worked, and also got towels and more towels and even more towels as graduation gifts. Grant had a similar hoarding problem, although his seemed to be specialized in the hand towel and washcloth segment of the terrycloth madness)

Well, google is my friend.  Animal shelters take towels! We now have two giant trash bags full of towels and I hope some puppy stays very dry because of them.

Anyway, we just really needed to make this place comfortable again and we are so well on our way.  We’ve made lots and lots of improvements over the last year – both aesthetically and functionally, and we have lots more to make (hello, I still do not know what to do with our bikes that we never even ride because HI three flights of stairs), but I really believe we can make two bedroom living work for us for a long time (talk to me again in a couple years when we (hopefully) have a kid running around. ack).

And that’s why I’m laying in bed relaxing.  Because the living room is a mess. :)

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So Good For Right Now

We have been working toward some really aggressive financial goals lately.  Super aggressive.  One of them, as of last month, is met (so long student loans, and good riddance!) and ever since I sent in that final payment, I have been scrambling in my brain and in spreadsheets at work when I should be focusing on, you know, work, trying to figure out where that money should go next.  We have two big goals:  pay off my car (I still hate that I had to give up my totally paid for Breeze named Baby, but Sidney the Honda is a nice girl too, albeit, you know, not paid for) and buy a house.

Well, at least, we did.

You know what?  Paying off huge debt feels great.  Knowing you had the means and capacity to pay it off early feels great.  But it is so totally soul crushing to then have to look and say, Oh My Gosh, there is more where that came from.

I can’t take it anymore.

So we did some soul searching, and we decided to QUIT SAVING FOR A HOUSE.

And by that, I mean, we are still saving the same amount of money we always have been and it will more than likely go toward a house someday but by God, I cannot focus on buying a house in a certain price range in a certain neighborhood by a certain date anymore.  We have more important things to worry about.  Like cleaning our closets out and riding our bikes once in awhile.

So part of that decision has been a renewed sense of making our condo truly ours, and for that, I’m really excited.  We’ve put in some simple work like putting some color on the walls and swapping out some furniture, and we have some more simple things like that on a list.  Our place is small (smallish – there are people out there working with much less than we have and they have my total respect) and I’m sure it will only feel smaller as life continues to twist and change, but we’ve committed.  This is where we live. This is where we’ll love.

And I love so much about it, and we have so many ideas, big and small, for making it feel like our grown-up, so-good-for-right-now home.

Who needs a big house full of empty rooms anyway?

Not us.

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Weekend Bliss

Weekends are lovely this time of year.

We spent most of Saturday cleaning up the place a bit. Then we laid out fancy (but easy-peasy!) snacks and shared an evening viewing of Les Miserables with my friend Paige.

It was Grant’s first time seeing the movie. None of us could resist making fun of Russell Crowe. That guy was not meant to sing.

Sunday we had lunch with Grant’s side of the family, and then popped over to visit our friends Jason and Chelsea. Jason officiated our wedding, and almost a year later we still hadn’t done much to thank him for accepting such a special place in our history. So, we surprised him with a gift he loved, and we sat in the back yard in the shade, and enjoyed a drink and each other’s company.

All in all, a lovely couple of days.

And hey, look at how these guys are doing.

Plus a couple more in the corner, now.

How was your weekened?

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Put My Heart Down

And because I want to remember this foreeeeeeeever:

sara evans tweet


She’s basically been liking any tweet where someone tells her the new album is awesome so it really probably doesn’t mean anything BUT I’M GOING TO PRETEND IT DOES. The end.

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Music Row

Did you know that if you google “Music Row” and view the images you actually get a bunch of pictures of downtown on Broadway? Not the same thing, my friends.  But I know why that happens – Music Row really doesn’t look that impressive.

There you go, country music fans.  It’s just a normal little street – well, a couple of normal little streets.

We’re going to see Nickel Creek (!!) at the Ryman this weekend, and hopefully continuing with springy activities like cleaning (sigh) and tending to our little #shoegarden and just enjoying the nice weather.

Happy Easter Weekend!  Hope you have a lovely one.

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5 Happy Things

I got to come home about an hour early today – no particular reason, except that I worked a lot last week and this past weekend, so when I looked at my calendar and it was free from 11 am on (oh, miracle of miracles) I decided to churn out some things I needed to get caught up on and then duck out early.

This is going to sound so cloyingly sweet, but ever since I walked in the door this afternoon I have just been met with so many things that make me HAPPY.  And in an effort to preserve them for posterity, I guess(?), I decided to list them.

Top 5 Favorite Happy Things of the Moment

    1. Windows wide open sunny breezy spring!
    2. Growing things. I’m not super awesome at it but this year’s little balcony garden experiment is going quite well, if you ask me.
    3. Homemade bread, one day old, toasted, with lots of real butter. This is my weakness.
    4. SINGING. I mean, of course, but really.  Even when a sneaky little virus shuts me down for a week and a half.
    5. Our home. It keeps changing ever so slowly.  I know this isn’t our forever home, but I know one day I’ll be very sad to see it go. At least we can take the awesomeness like this with us:

What’s making you happy this week?  Tell me!

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Wherein I Get Technical and Perhaps Discover My New Blogging Destiny

My least favorite thing about being a singer is that the slightest little tickle in your throat can completely shut down the thing you most love to do.

I don’t know whether to feel annoyed or grateful, because I’ve had a few of these tickley, swollen throat things this year without them ever turning into that full blown headache, swimmy, can’t get out of bed feeling.  No coughing! No gunk in my lungs!  On one hand, YAY immune system!  On the other hand, booooo now I have to LISTEN to the music instead of singing loudly over the top of it.

I was told all my life to “sing through it” and just exactly HOW I should be singing through it. More space. More air. Blah blah.  If you’re a singer you’ve heard these things before.  And it’s definitely a good idea to learn how to sing when you’re sick, because sometimes you don’t have a choice.  But the hardest lesson I ever learned was that when I DID have a choice, the choice I should make is SHUT UP.

That goes for speaking too.  Shhhhhhhhhh.

It all comes down to this:

  • Do you have a performance coming up?
  • How soon?
  • What can you do to prepare BESIDES singing?

If the answer to the first question is, “No,” then oh my gosh, shut your mouth and rest your voice.  Nothing good will come of forcing yourself to sing when you’re not well.

If the answer to the first question is, “Yes,” then we have to move on to the next pressing point.  How soon? There’s no good answer that works every time here.  It’s all a complicated equation involving how long you have until you perform and just how out of commission your voice has become.  If you HAVE to sing, it’s a good idea to go back to singing SMALL.  Go back to the very, very beginning of everything you’ve been taught.  Work on breath, relaxation, space, tone placement, and remind yourself with every sound that comes out of your mouth NOT TO PUSH IT.  You may very well sound exactly like you always do OUTSIDE of your head and you might not (and that’s not necessarily a bad thing – I had a choir teacher tell me once that I’d do well to have that chest cold at Festival time, because I sounded extra fantastic with it), but I guarantee that inside your head, things are messed up.  It’s like flying a plane through a snowstorm.  You trust your instruments, not your own senses.  So trust your training, not your hearing.  And for goodness sake, don’t hurt yourself.

If at all possible, though, you should still try to work as much vocal rest in as possible before your performance.  Voices heal more quickly when they can rest, and overworking them when you’re sick can just make them worse.  But you don’t want to let your mind wander, right?  You want to keep the focus and the momentum going!  Here are some things you can do:

  • Practice breathing! Standard breathing exercises, as well as practicing your breath (I think a steady “hiss” is the closest to actual singing when it comes to breath control) while reading the lyrics to your songs/pieces in your head keep the rest of your body in shape while your voice heals.
  • If you have tricky rhythms, find yourself some pots and pans and bang them out.  Or clap, that might be less annoying to your family and/or neighbors.
  • Read the lyrics to yourself over and over.  If you’re singing in a foreign language, practice your spoken pronunciation. For anything, classical, jazz, pop, – anything – speak the words out loud, if your voice can handle it.  The best sung musical phrases sound conversational, so, practice conversing.
  • Do some simple exercises – especially exercises that promote great posture!  These simple yoga poses are a great place to start.
  • “Sing” the songs in your head.  When I was a kid, I used to finger my piano lessons on my desk at school when I got bored.  I could hear the music in my head, and my fingers were learning some much needed muscle memory.  The more you hear your music in your head, the more confident you’ll be, whether you’ve actually been singing it out loud or not.

I totally did not start this blog post out as an instructional guide to whether or not you should sing when you have a cold, but there you have it.  I doubt you’re even with me anymore, unless you were in desperate need of random voice advice.  The point is, man, I’m just annoyed that I can’t (read: shouldn’t, and mostly am following my own advice MOSTLY) sing right now. It is my looooooove. It is my liiiiiiiiiiiiiife.  My throat tickles. Boo.

What are the hardest lessons you’ve had to learn about pursuing and living your passions?  Share them with me. Make me feel better.


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