“When I first moved to Nashville, I was working very part time - making just enough money to pay rent and buy food & gas. I remember the feeling well of how relieved I would be to find a rumpled up $20 bill in the pocket of one of my jackets. Along with working part time, I was pursuing music full-time, and man, was this hard. It took me 3 years to realize that I had to stop living emotionally, and I believe that is the key to specifically balancing work and being an artist. When I was living purely by emotion, either my job suffered or my dream(s) suffered - now neither of them have to.”
I don't care if you have a supportive boyfriend, girlfriend, parent, stage Mom, 1 million fans, birds flying around your head like Cinderella, or any other human or animal posse surrounding you - if you can't cheer yourself on you won't even be able to hear the cheers from everybody else.
No matter what industry you're in, getting a pat on the back from your boss, partners, client, or fan feels great! But, at the end of the day if you can't motivate yourself and make yourself feel good the compliments will fade very quickly. When we don't have enough belief in ourselves we start doing / creating to settle our craving for compliments instead of doing / creating to our greatest potential regardless of who cares. We start walking on hot coals for these cheers and compliments from other people. We get nervous and we ultimately burn our feet (and probably grit our teeth, smile and keep walking.) We get stuck on a moving sidewalk going down an endless terminal instead of being on an elevator.
Lets be honest though, cheering yourself on all the time is exhausting and it's really not fair!! At least thats what I thought, until I figured out that being your own cheerleader is one of the greatest powers that we have. And if we channel it correctly, achieving short term goals begin to happen at a much steadier pace, which ultimately turns into accomplishing big long term goals.
So, first, how do we "be our own cheerleaders"? We have to decide that first and foremost we are going to be accountable to ourselves. Not to Social Media, not to Mom or Dad, and not to anyone that's knocked us down. Sure, you can take the "haters fuel" and use that, but it only lasts for a short period of time before the fire burns out leaving you cold in the snow. Being accountable to ourselves means we set goals for our own personal fulfillment, not for anyone else approval. We have to commit to ourselves. Whether that goal is to change the world or pass a class, we need to make a promise to ourselves that our goals and focus will be accomplished in order to grow ourselves - not for anyones approval or to get noticed. Once you can pep talk yourself into this mindset, you're on the team - you're the captain of (insert your name here)'s cheer team.
Now it's time to get into shape. For a long time I always whined and complained that I needed other peoples approval or "high five's" to make me happy. Insert pouty face. And yes, it is true that having solid people to lean on and encourage you is a major key in life, but with that being said, who closes your eyes at night and gets you out of bed each morning? You and only you.
How do you stay motivated as a cheerleader? You keep yourself inspired by making good habits. Set time aside to do things, listen to things, and read things that inspire you. A movie, a good book, music, a hike, a concert, etc. It is your job as the captain of the cheerleading squad to target the things that inspire and motivate you and make sure you plug them into your day. Yes, daily. It's also your job to check your levels, like your windshield wiper fluid or your phone battery percentage. If you're feeling sluggish, have writers block, or feel self conscious, take action! Plug in. Remove your cord from the smoking, sparking outlet before you burn up, and plug it into something meaningful. We have absolutely no excuse to let ourselves get electrocuted or get lit on fire. Be good to yourself. You have to be able to know what you need and when you need it - I've found that this just takes time in getting to know yourself better.
Once you've started to get a handle on knowing when to starting yelling LETS GO, LETS GO, L-E-T-S G-O it gets easier and easier to start jumping up and down for yourself. The more you practice this, the easier it will become and you will start to see a more steady pace in your self-confidence and happiness. You won't be as shakable and you'll stay focused on your goals instead of getting a crick in your neck from looking around for compliments.
Regardless of cheers from friends, family, fans, clients, etc. if we can't say YAY, GO ME, GO ME, I AM AWESOME, HERE I COME, we will never be truly happy, no matter what goal we crush.
Ps, I always thought it was "crink" not "crick". Mom? Dad? What? Yikes.
Some of you will laugh at this title because I am still only 24, but looking back to 7 years old - those are my early years. Music isn't my only love, but it was my first love. And, like most of you know, our first love never really goes away. At the little tiny age of 5 years I started kindergarten and that is where my love for music began to sprout (although I did not, I was 4'11 till I was a freshman in high school.) Upon entering kindergarten, I started music class. After my music teacher noticed a had an special interest in music, she asked my mom if she could keep me one day a week after school for an extra hour to teach me more. My mom said yes, and so I went. (My mom always jokes at this part of the story "She [the music teacher] asked me and I said yes, that just meant I could stay at work longer and I had no clue how to even clap to a beat.")
Music lessons turned into piano lessons, which turned into asking for a guitar and it all just snowballed from there. My dad started teaching me how to play guitar and how to write songs.
Let me set the scene for the next few paragraphs. Me, ages 8-13.
In my younger years, I was terrible at memorizing lyrics. More so, I didn't like practicing very much so I only memorized what I absolutely had to. This really came back to haunt me one evening at the 3rd grade school musical. My music teacher asked me to do an impromptu solo with another girl and for some unknown reason I said yes. I'm pretty sure I blacked out during the 3 minutes and 30 seconds because I didn't know a single word to the song and somehow people still clapped when it was over. I am so glad Facebook Live was not a thing back then. I also was caught by a teacher once who asked me "were you mouthing 'watermelon, watermelon' during one of the songs?" I said of course not and was mad about the false accusation, but earlier that day someone did in fact teach me the ' mouth watermelon trick if you don't know the lyrics' and I had really tried my best to make it work...
I still remember very clearly the worst performance I ever had. I was probably around 8 or 9 and I got asked to sing at a political fundraiser dinner. I happened to do a lot of these and the best part for me was always the delicious food. This particular night I made sure my plate was loaded up with this massive mound of Caesar salad. I scarfed it down minutes before it was time for me to sing "God Bless America" for a room full of people. From the moment I picked up the microphone I knew this performance was going south fast. Somewhere between Kermit the Frog and Clint Eastwood were my lovely vocals trying to bust out a steady tune. When "from the oceans / white with foam" came up, I was in trouble. Again, I think I blacked out and probably just started mouthing "watermelon, watermelon" with my eyes closed. Later, a kind man stopped me and said "you did fantastic!" and I just burst out laughing. To this day, I will absolutely NOT eat salad on show days - it scared me for life!
My second worst experience - I was probably 11 or 12. It was at the Evergreen State Fair and I had a 5 song slot on a side stage singing with karaoke tracks for $100 pay. I remember I was on my last song "RESPECT" by Aretha Franklin and the manager gave me this hand motion and look that said "wrap it up." I remember thinking to myself while I was belting out a version of Born to Fly, "wrap it up? Lady these are karaoke tracks, how in the WORLD do I wrap up a karaoke track!?" Well, I am a professional artist who wanted to do their job to it's full potential so I continued singing. I had about 16 bars left when she turned off the track. She didn't even do a fade out, I had to quite cold turkey. I did an impromptu long hold on the last note, trying to make it seamless. I took myself and my cowgirl boots home and I did not go back to the Evergreen State Fair.
Best performance I've ever had: Playing the Waldorf Astoria was truly one of the most memorable performances I have ever had. Back when I was 18 I became a national ambassador for Drug Free America. They kindly invited me to play their Winter Gala in New York City and flew my entire band and I in for the event. From the minute we arrived we were taken care of by the kindest people. The Waldorf was absolutely stunning. We had rehearsed so much to prepare for this show and we played our hearts out that night. I was with the greatest people, for a great cause, in a great place - it was unforgettable. (I will not include the story about the night I ended up accidentally taking the band to a restaurant that had a bill total of $1,200. I still owe my mother for that.)
Another very memorable performance I had was the honor of singing at The Ryman in honor of Tim Johnson. After his passing, all of his friends & fellow writers came together for a packed out night paying tribute to Tim's life and his music. The emotion was unreal. I can play back every single detail of that night like a movie.
I remember another event, I was probably 8 or 9, my mom and dad drove me all the way out to the middle of no where for some singing competition. Because the car ride was so long I hadn't done my hair before we left the house that morning. The only place we could find to stop was at the local book store. We snuck into the back bathroom, plugged in the curling iron and I started getting ready. I'd like to note here that my mom (thanks Liz) always made me wear lip liner like Kylie Jenner, Liz was way ahead of the times apparently, but I always protested with a whine and an eye roll. Once the horrible lip liner application was finished (and the bronzer that was put on with a decade old blush brush that felt like the coarse side of a dish-sponge) we went to grab the curling iron. Well, to our surprise, after we had plugged it in, we didn't realize we had sat it on a plastic table cover. The curling iron looked like it was being used to roast marshmallows, it was completely covered in white melted plastic. Needless to say, I did not win the competition and I am still convinced it was due to flat hair and hooker make up because I really sang "When will I be Loved" by Linda Ronstadt with all my heart.
I've had my name printed in papers as Heather multiple times, I've been quoted wrong, I've sung in front of people who didn't clap, in front of people who threw things at me, I've sung to 40,000 people crowds and I've sold out shows. It has been a wild, maddening, hilarious, frustrating, incredible journey - And these are only a few of the stories.
I have a few embarrassing stories too, I tried to sing the national anthem one day in the studio for 5 hours and never hit the high note once. I fell down in the airport once with my guitar. I've messed up countless speaking parts while on stage. I've had the front of my dress come unzipped, had jewelry go flying, and started a song in the wrong key with a full band. I used to play my guitar so hard that I'd get blood on my pick guard by the end of the night. And I went through a stage where I'd get different colored pieces of clip-in hair.
Looking back on my early years has made me realize something really important thought: Back then, I didn't give a f. Not in the way of "I don't care what people think" but in the way that I didn't NEED people to think of me a certain way. I didn't need anyones approval when I was younger. I just wrote my music and played my music and wore my outfits and did my thing. I didn't know what comparison was yet, or body image, or Likes on Instagram. I just played and performed and created with passion, without boundaries, without being jaded. It was beautiful. I really applaud my 14 years old self that did a wardrobe change for one song in a 2 hour set, because at 13 watching Gwen Stefani taught me that you can do that and that it matters.
I have been watching a lot of people go through break up's lately.
I don't know about you, but when I go through a break up I tend to question absolutely everything. Am I even worth anything? Was I not good enough? Did I just waste a bunch of my time? Is my guy-radar broken? Can I even trust myself? Why didn't I see this clearer? Was it all my fault? Can I even make decisions?
Why, why, why, why. I must be dumb.
All of these questions can be absolutely paralyzing and usually none of them are even actually true, but we are tortured by them anyway.
Healthy self-analysis is a very good thing and we can really thrive off of it. We owe it to ourselves to assess our relationships so we can move forward with new knowledge to grow with. But how do we keep ourselves from staying in the "wtf is wrong with me" stage for too long? Well, tell ourselves to stfu.
(Here's a link if you don't know what the means https://www.internetslang.com/STFU-meaning-definition.asp)
Sometimes self-analysis can go on far too long, after fruit sits out on the table it starts to go bad and all of the sudden you've got fruit flies. Gross. We don't want fruit flies, we want to eat the fruit in it's prime before it starts to rot. Gross.
Usually in the waves of a break up, we catch a very specific break. There's this moment when we collect ourselves and feel a surge of self-confidence and security. Most of the time that comes from hope in something greater that we see in the future (whether work opportunities, travel, etc) or finally feeling very confident the right choice was made. I compare this feeling to when you're at the gym and the perfect pump up song comes on - there's this surge in energy that makes you feel strong, happy, and ready to kick ass.
When we get to this point in our break up process, we need to ride that wave and we need to stay on it. Shortly after the confidence wave comes, without a doubt a sad wave shows up out of no where and tries to drown us - this is where we fight. And our weapon of choice? Truth.
9 times out of 10 the negative things we tell ourselves are false. You can apply that to body image, confidence, blame, shame, etc. I have found that when I am hit with a negative thought like, "can I even trust myself?", I follow that question up with a question, until I have an actual answer. When a question like "am I valued" is rolling around in your head, catch it that sucker and question it. Interrogate the mofo (I'll let you google that one yourself) until you have an actual truthful answer. In most cases we will end up with a positive answer that kills the lie & the negative thought. Don't let a negative thought just stay up there free to roam around every which corner of your mind. Grab it, question it, get a real answer...and then throw it in the trash.
Question your negative thoughts until you have a positive truth. Kill the fruit flies so they stop multiplying and invading your home. Your mind & body are your home. Take care of your home.
When your mind is calling you into question with negative lies, get the jury and put those negative thoughts behind bars, for life.
Change can be so difficult. Anything that uproots us from our normal routine and makes us feel uncomfortable can leave us physically tired, mentally drained, and emotionally unstable. Since the beginning of the year, my entire path has been all about change - I did name 2017 the year of "fearless courage" so perhaps I accidentally set myself up for it to be that way. There has been good change and there has been bad change, and through the up's and the down's, I've watched myself start to form some bad patterns & habits. It took about 6 months into this year for me to finally realize that I actually have the power to control how I want feel emotionally & physically despite my circumstances. Although it is not easy to pull yourself up and out of depression, stress, or exhaustion, I have found that having a consistent positive attitude depends much more on our habits than how we actually "think" we should "feel." Having this attitude has personally worked for me very well and I have been able to "trick" myself into being happy even through the most difficult changes by forming good happy habits. These are the top 5 things I started doing, despite anything happening to me or around me, that has allowed me to stay in a more consistent positive frame of mind.
1. Every day do something that makes you happy: There are two times each day where you can get the best read on how you're feeling emotionally - as soon as you wake up and as soon as you've finished work & all other tasks for the day. I have found that these two moments, when we've come down from distractions, are crucial in how we will view our day and forming habits around how we feel can be very beneficial. If either first thing in the morning or when I am off work (or both) I have a feeling of dissatisfaction I make myself do one thing (minimum) that I know will make me happy. My list is simple and ranges from reading a book at a coffee shop, to going for a run, to writing, to cooking a great dinner, to opening a bottle of wine. I know what make me feels happy & relaxed, so every time I feel that unsatisfied or sad feeling I follow it up with an action of doing something that will combat it, that'll make me feel just the opposite. And guess what? It totally works.
2. Reward yourself in your morning routine: Personally, when I am going through hard changes I want to sleep in and I could careless if I have any time in the morning to set up my day before it starts. I have gone through weeks and weeks of that this year so I started rewarding myself for getting out of bed early and taking "me" time. My reward? My favorite latte from my favorite coffee shop. You might be thinking wtf, thats silly! But because I am including something that I know will make me happy, even just for a few minutes, it really motivates me. There are so many different things that can work for different people, but for me personally, it's a coffee and knowing I get 1 hour at the coffee shop to read my favorite book before I head to work. I set myself up with a peaceful morning reward which helps so much in having a peaceful mind for the day.
3. Be social: When I have a lot going on in my head I become an introvert, mainly because I don't feel like I can hang out with anyone without looking distressed, I wear everything on my face. But I've come to find that fighting that is the healthiest thing I can do. When my weeks have been crazy and unbalanced I try to, at the very minimum, make sure I am social (even if I have to force myself to be) once or twice a week. Why is this so important? Because you never know how someone might encourage or inspire you, and it just might make you day, week, or month.
4. Make Lists: There has been many points this year where the first few things on my daily list have been as simple as "make bed", "make breakfast", "shower", "return emails." Why do these small normal things need to even go on a list?? Because even the small normal things can seem like extremely hard tasks sometimes. Lists have become my way of survival. The first reason is because even if there are 3 things on my list for the day, checking those 3 things off makes me feel accomplished which, in turn, makes me feel satisfied with myself = happy. The second reason is because having something to keep my mind on track is extremely helpful. When change is going on and I am overloaded with stress my brain doesn't work nearly as well. List are life.
5. Stay healthy: The more I emotionally eat, the worse I feel. I don't beat myself up about it though because who doesn't need to eat an entire medium Domino's pizza and a pint of Ben & Jerry's on a bad day once in awhile? But personally, if I am eating things every day that make my body perform poorly, on top of not getting any exercise, I feel 300x worse. And at that point I'm only causing my self to add unnecessary stress onto the pile. So even if I only have time for a 20 minute run, I just put it on the list and I just do it. How our body feels has so much to do with how our mind feels and if there's always junk getting put into one the other tends to feel pretty bad and suffer from it, too.
I'm going to sign off with a quote from one of my favorite speakers / authors.
Find your anchors and don't let your emotions tell your mind that you don't need them, because you do.
Right off the bat let me start this by being honest; life has been tossing me around lately. And if it weren't for encouragement from the people I love and random strangers that send me incredible words of support - it would probably be a few more weeks before I was able to be blogging again. So thank you all tremendously for encouraging and inspiring me.
In the past 2.5 months I have done a lot of traveling, performing, hiking, and adventuring. I went on tour with the Plain White T's and hung out with thousands of high school students every day for a week. After tour I was depressed for about a week straight. I was only home for a week though before it was time to leave again. This time I was headed for a much different adventure - hiking Havasu Falls. 42 miles in 3 days was brutal. To say the least, my big toenails are just now finally falling off. Havasu was what I imagine what the Garden of Eden must have looked liked. I plan on writing an extensive blog on this hike as I have had many inquiries about the details and planning of this trip. Stay tuned.
After getting back from Havasu it had been about 4 weeks straight of being out of my normal routine and this really threw me for a loop. After months and months of a fairly normal schedule, coming back down from these huge adventures kind of felt like being on the moon for awhile and then finally returning back to earth; you're excited but it's not as cool as being on another planet. hah! So getting back into the swing of things was like swimming against the waves. I was really depressed, my mind was exhausted and confused about how and where to refocus and I just really felt like I needed a month long beach vacation. But I didn't get one, so I pressed on.
I know this blog isn't extremely well written or detailed and it's kind of all over the place but isn't that like life? Yes. Sometimes it's smooth sailing and then sometimes it's just all over the place. It's fun, its boring, it's sad, it's happy, it's fruitful, it's dry, it's sunny, it's rainy. You're up, down, in, out, over there, over here, and somewhere else. Seasons of life change, but learning how to happily go with the flow of life without getting too terribly tossed around at sea is really the key and the greatest challenge. I can honestly say that I could have done a much better job in some areas of holding onto my anchors the past 2.5 months, but sometimes you just fall out of the boat. And then you finally get to shore, exhausted, but happy to finally be laying in the sunshine.
New blogs coming soon! Check out my Instagram and Facebook page for more daily posts / inspirations. I stared writing a lot on scripture lately so you can sign up by clicking here "Sign Up" and add your email under Spiritual Inspiration if you'd like those emailed directly to your inbox.
Love you all, and seriously THANK YOU for your words of encouragement!!
It's been almost exactly 90 days since I wrote "Where I'm Headed". If you've read it, you know that I started it by stating that this was the first time in 17 years that I would not be actively pursuing a music career. Well, come to find out, that plan didn't last long.
There has been a lot of things that I have been learning over the past 90 days. I've started a new fitness journey, I learned that I had distrust issues and how to heal them, I've traveled to Chattanooga, Phoenix, and Atlanta, I've had many new clients, I had a photoshoot, I've made new friendships, and among many other things, I've started a non-profit. All the while beautiful little details have been woven throughout all of these big new things. I've faced many challenges along the way, but have been steady to make sure to conquer each one as the come along the way.
I've learned that I can fully trust God with my finances, I can trust him in all decisions and when I am facing indecision, and that I can fearlessly take his hand when he calls me up to an opportunity. Where I see gates of steel, he sees a door. I've felt a lot over the past 90 days that God keeps leaving me these voicemails, and I can either choose to call him back right away, or wait to call him back some other time when it's more convenient to me or when I feel more ready. But in that, I've learned that I trust him so much that I don't want to miss out on the things he is calling me to do, even though they might seem hard, and maybe even...impossible.
There is a really long beautiful story about how Anchor Our Lives got it's name, so I will save that for a different day. Anchor Our Lives in the name of the non-profit I officially started in March. As some of you may know, back between the age of 17-20 I spoke and performed at high schools and also was a Young Life leader. Over the past 90 days, my fire for mentoring came back and started kicking hard. My desire to go back into schools and talk with students became so strong that it kept my head in the clouds during the day and my mind awake at night. My biggest question was "How?" and of course, the more I prayed, the clearer the answer became. I started writing this new program called Anchor Our Lives. Often times an anchor can be a symbol of something that holds us down, when really, an anchor is what keeps us from drifting away from ourselves. This program is about finding out what our anchors are and how important it is to have anchors in our lives. My new mission is to bring the Anchor Our Lives programs into high schools, middle schools, and other various youth programs. I am also paring my music and performance with it. To say that I am excited is a huge understatement! And the reaffirmations that I have been getting every time I start doubting are so overwhelming that I just know in my heart I can't look back now.
90 days ago, I was focusing on God, my relationships, hiking and my business. Those were my 4 things. Well, the list has grown tremendously! Doors have been opening that I thought would be cemented closed forever, along with brand new ones opening that I never could have imagined even existed. If we are supposed to be some where or doing something, God will get us there no matter what. Life will get us there. We will get there. That passion we have will always come back to us. It may be in a different shape or form, or in some way we never could have even dreamed of, which is so beautiful. That makes life so beautiful. The twist and turns, and learning how to grow though life, not just go through it.
If you're struggling with finding purpose or wondering if you should take a risk or a leap of faith, I really encourage you to start writing it all down. Make lists. Put it all on paper. Look at it. Know that nothing is impossible. What would you do if nothing was impossible? Write down everything you want to do in life, everything you'd do if you had three life times. What's important? What isn't? What can wait? What can't?
Jump. Leap. Fly.
There is so much I could say about all of the things that have happened in the past 90 days, I could write an entire post for each event. But what I wanted to do tonight is just encourage. There's no time like now, and courage goes a long way. We will never regret taking chances, we will only regret the ones we didn't take.
I also have a really huge announcement tomorrow that is still honestly blowing my mind that I even get to announce.
Life is such a journey! It's such a ride! I'm always trying to be the person on the rollercoaster that is throwing their hands in the air and having fun, even though sometimes I am the person with their hands clenched, eyes closed, saying curse words under their breath. hah! :)
Ps, The Anchor Our Lives website will be up soon. If you want to sign up for the newsletter, you can at www.anchorourlives.org
22 blurred into 23, drunk on heart ache and on whiskey. About a month after my 23rd birthday I knew I had to make one of two choices - continue to hang out with my 21-22 year old self, or, start paving the road to becoming an adult. The latter sounded like a better decision, so I went with that. A big chunk of 23 was spent in heart ache; from guys, from the music industry, and from being homesick. But about 5 months into being 23 I took an incredible hiking trip that completely changed my life. When I stepped off the plane back in Nashville, I knew I couldn't spend anymore time wanting to be happy, instead I needed to actually decide to start being happy. So I did. I made changes, I mapped out the girl I wanted to be and the life I wanted to strive for, I stood upon the highest mountain top I could find and jumped off fearlessly - I was so surprised when I found out that I did indeed have wings.
23 Things I learned (and re-learned) this year:
1 > Be a reliable friend. Don't cancel your plans for "better" plans, return your texts, reach out, go the extra mile to be kind in unexpected ways. Good friends are hard to find and they are so worth putting in the effort to hold onto.
2 > Be picky when you're dating. Make a list of the core things needed in a partner and do not waste any time on anyone who doesn't have those same core values. Don't overlook red flags out of desperation to fulfill the feeling of love.
3 > Explore the Earth. "The world is a book, and those who don't travel only read one page."
4 > Physical Strength. I will never forget that over a period of 12 weeks, I went from running 1 mile to running 13.1 - I am able if I am willing.
5 > Your parents start becoming your friends. There's an age where relationships with parents starts changing. When they call up for support, when it's our turn to help them after they've helped and supported us for years and years.
6 > Make hard business decisions. The right thing is usually never the easy thing.
7 > The importance of taking care of finances. Budget. Budget. Budget.
8 > Don't live unhappy. Period. Do whatever it takes to do something that makes you happy every single day.
9 > Be your own biggest champion. Get to know yourself, get to love yourself. Be excited for yourself.
10 > Try new things. All kinds. Anything you've ever even had the slight interest in. Cause, why not?
11 > Push through problems, don't try to step over them.
12 > Don't procrastinate about chores.
13 > Go do things alone. It's liberating, knowing I am perfectly ok doing things on my own.
14 > Only buy a single pint of ice cream at a time so a whole gallon doesn't taunt you in the freezer for weeks. Yes, it took me 23 years to learn this.
15 > Volunteer. It moves the heart and moves focus onto others.
16 > The high from social media is a fleeting feeling.
17 > Don't believe everything. Do research.
18 > Having an opinion and being kind go hand in hand.
19 > Eat healthy during the week and treat yourself on the weekends.
20 > Be in the moment. Take it all in. Every detail.
21 > Journal.
22 > Cheer on others.
23 > Take an hour every single morning to spend time setting up the day. In prayer, journaling, writing, etc. Doing this has changed my life.
I'm so excited to turn 24 tomorrow!!! I get to spend the day with my best friend doing all of my favorite things!
Honestly, I am just about to start this celebration early and get a Blizzard from DQ.
Cheers to getting older!
Most of you that are following this blog have been a part of my email list ever since I stuck a piece of paper on an old clipboard that sat on my merch table back in 2005 - we've been through a 12 year musical journey together.
This year will be the first in 17 years that I won't be actively pursuing a music career. Yes, believe it or not, I went into a recording studio for the first time when I was just 7 years old. Next week I am turning 24 and I couldn't be more excited for what is in store for not only 2017, but this entire next part of my journey.
Since making the decision to put music on the back burner last May, I've had a lot of positive and negative feed, followed by a lot of questions.
Obviously, the most frequently asked question is "why?" and honestly there is a part of me that gets rather excited to share the answer because I feel so blessed by the way my path has merged. So to start, I am going to give a concise answer to that question right now.
I finally realized that ultimately my purpose on this earth was to be happy about life. Most importantly being happy by embracing the fact that the only real and fulfilling success in my life was going to come by simply being God's daughter, and doing whatever He called me to do; whether music, web design, moving back home, staying in Nashville, or whatever. The time came where I became so confident in that, and in the fact that I knew God would lead me down the best and most perfect road I could be on, that I laid down my dream of music at His feet and said "Ok, here I am, I trust You with my life."
The moment I did that, I truly became free. As heartbreaking and confusing as it was to initially put down this dream, it didn't take long before God was giving me new dreams and abundant blessings - none of it could I have ever seen coming. I never imagine my life without pursing a music career, I never believed I could be anything else, or that I would except myself (or that anyone else would except me) without music. The good news is - I was wrong, so very wrong.
In the past few months, I have been spending a lot of time in prayer talking to God and asking Him questions, one of the bigs ones being, why did I have to give up music? One night at church during worship he gave me this thought "I [God] never told you that you had to stop loving music, I just asked you to trust me with it." Once I had that answer I felt complete freedom and peace. I felt so relieved that I didn't have to hold a grudge against music or decline doing things that were musically related (like writing, or performing), that wasn't it all - what I didn't have to do was be unhappy and feel an overwhelming pressure pressing down on my life that came with pursing music, it was almost like a daily grievance. One of my mentors said to me recently, "we weren't meant to wake up and grieve every day." I feel as if those words couldn't ring truer and like that really had been my life for years. Since God started giving me this peace, I have continued to ask Him to open doors for music if it is His will, or to keep the doors closed if it's not. And guess what? He has opened so many doors for my Web Design business that I can barely keep up with my work! How's that for a surprise? And for a direct answer! Knowing that I have been in prayer about the direction I should go just confirms that He is leading my path and I am exactly where He wants me to be. It is pretty incredible. My faith last May was just the size of a mustard seed, but that was all I needed to start this journey and now my faith has just continued to grow.
So where am I headed next?
I am so excited about the growth in my business, and even more excited to pour myself into new projects, my clients, and to take even greater leaps into the opportunities that arise. I have quite a bit of traveling lined up for this year, too, (including two possible out-of-country trips) that will entail a lot of backpacking and hiking. I hope to make it back home to the Pacific Northwest this summer as well. I miss Washington dearly, but for now I know that God is asking me to stay in Nashville and let my roots continue to grow here. For those of you who know me, this is extremely difficult, as I am so close with my family! But I know that when God wants me somewhere, He'll put me there, just like He put me here in Nashville.
I am really looking forward to sharing this new journey and I am hoping to also start sharing other peoples inspiring stories and journeys here on this blog as well.
To close, I just want to say this...go do that thing. Whatever thing popped into your mind and pressed on your heart when you were just reading the word "dream" in the above paragraphs. Go do that. It's there on your heart for a reason.
Much love and many prayers for you all,
Tonight, after 3.5 years, I finally figured out why I moved to Nashville. The answer - because God had beautiful relationships waiting for me here.
Tonight, as I sit here, for the first time, absolutely every single negative thing that has happened in my life has become positive, simply because I know that it all has lead me to this very moment.
Early today I posted this on Facebook: "It is so incredibly beautiful how God puts us on such detailed paths that perfectly collide with others, so that we then embark on beautiful friendships and relationships beyond the desires of what our hearts could have ever dreamed. And even if those relationships get broken, He can mend and sew them back together, so steadily, to where the seam can't even be noticed."
For such a long time I was living covered in camouflage. I tried so hard to force a permanent guard over my heart. I shoved down the woman I intended to be, to become the one who I thought the world expected. All dressed up in camouflage, ready to blend in. I do not know who I was doing this for, maybe it was to hide me from myself, maybe it was to hide from God. Regardless, He could still see me - and He was just waiting for me to take it off. So finally, one day, I did.
As soon as started to take off this disguise, I began losing the fear of being vulnerable, and that is when my life changed. God started placing the most precious people in my life. He started giving me new relationships and growing old ones. He started giving me the bravery to open up in conversations, just like He gave me the courage to start this blog, and He restored things I thought would forever be broken. It has been overwhelmingly incredible.
Camouflage feels so safe. No one will be able to see my pain, my past, my struggles. But why should we ever be alone in this? We shouldn't. And we don't have to be. It is so hard to take the camouflage off, because it gets so comfortable to be in - it just becomes a habit. A ritual.
At the end of the day, all we have are relationships. Not material things, not money. We only have each other; our breakthroughs, our cries, our laughter. When we strip off the disguise and overcome our fear of truly being seen, we can start to share with one another and our moments of weakness can be turned into somebody elses moment of strength. We can turn our struggles into to stories, stories that help, that make an impact and give a hand up.
Blending in feels so safe, but actually the safest place to be is in the arms of friends.
I haven't shared this with many people, but I'm going to share this tonight because it has made such a huge impact on my life. Shortly after my dear friend and producer Tim Johnson was diagnosed with cancer, I remember sitting in the airport with him on our way to NYC, he was very sick. We were talking about life when he said, "I would trade every Number One Hit I've ever had and all of my success for more time with my family and the ones I love."
He passed away a year later.
I will never forget this moment. Tim taught me a lot of things, but the value of relationships and how at the end of the day that is all we have, made more than a significant impact on my life. I will always carry that with me. Forever.
Connecting with the beautiful people around us in this world is the most satisfying and sweetest experience we can possible have. That is how it is intend to be, we were not created to be alone, hiding behind camouflage. We were created to hold each others hands and see the best in each other, even when we can't see it in ourselves.
Dear Lincoln Hill High School Students,
I heard you're about to head into Red Ribbon week, so first let me say this…
I am so proud of you.
Many of you do not know me, but back in 2012, I was honored to be apart of the first LHHS / SHS Red Ribbon week. I got to hang out with your fellow classmates and hear their stories. I wanted to write this letter to you all because, truly, I am so proud of you guys for making this such an important priority. As we get older, the pressure of drugs and alcohol doesn't necessarily get easier, but before we get there, we have the opportunity to build up the strength to get through those difficult times together. I believe that each and everyone of you (us) will come out on top of the struggles, despite the circumstances that may have happened in our lives.
For me, I didn't necessarily grow up doing drugs and alcohol, but I watched multiple loved ones die from causes by both of those things. So to those of you who've lost loved ones from drugs or alcohol, I mourn with you. It hurts, and the ache that we have to get them back is endless. For those of you who are trying to overcome addiction, I stand with you, and I applaud you. For those of you simply trying to overcome peer pressure, I am right beside you.
It takes courage to stand strong for something. It takes bravery to say no. Even at my age of 23, it is difficult. But, coming together as classmates and friends, to share our struggles and losses, will make it a whole lot easier to get through things together.
You don't know me, but I am so proud of each of you. LHHS will always have a big place in my heart. And just so you all know, you guys are making a huge impact on your families lives, your friends lives, and in the lives of your community. You've certainly made an impact on mine tonight as I am typing this.
I love you all, and I support LHHS with all of my heart.
To the staff, teachers, and faculty involved, I thank you; because I know it isn’t easy.
From the bottom of my heart, I hope you all have an absolutely amazing Red Ribbon Week!
It's been on my heart to write on this topic for awhile now, and honestly I've been fighting it because I needed to have a certain level of transparency to do it. But, I know that I am not the only person who has struggled with this, and it's such an important (but hard) thing to talk about. I also heard someone say that other night "our stories are not for us, they are for others." So here we go, I'm just going to start it off being completely real.
I have always found my self-worth in how guys view me. Period. It didn't matter if I liked the girl in the mirror starring back at me, it only mattered if others were pleased with her.
For me, this started at a very young age. Uncomfortable and unwanted male attention became normal for me. It was so normal that my mind was trained to think that was the only way to feel like I was worth anything. So from the time I was about 13 years old, until now at the age of 23, I've been carrying around this extremely flawed image of myself. And man, has it been painful. And honestly, I didn't even realize I was viewing myself like this until about 3 months ago.
Sometimes we can't help the things that have happened to us. There is so much that I wish I could have been protected from, but learning to let go and look forward releases the chains and brings freedom to the heart. Forgiving yourself is step one. Then finding the courage to forgive others - even if you feel like they are the ones that actually owe you an apology.
For such a long time, I would always find myself looking back at photos where I was wearing a huge happy smile on my face and in my mind I would think "Wow, that girl looks SO happy, I want to be her!" But I also knew that in those specific moments when the photos were taken, I was heart broken and struggling so badly. I looked happy, but I wasn't. I was hiding.
So, to fill the void I did my best to get attention. And not that I did it knowingly, it's just that's what my heart was used to. I didn't feel good enough, so I looked for someone to tell me that I was. Whether it was using social media, or partying, or even how I dressed. [I figured out that there is a difference between dressing to feel good about yourself, and dressing to feel good about how other people feel about you.] And I didn't even notice I was doing all of this until I realized that I was. I know that is a very redundant sentence but sometimes the most obvious is the hardest to see. It's easy to get used to feeling and living a certain way, and even though you absolutely know something is missing you have no clue where to start to fix it.
So here's what happened...
A couple of months ago I found myself laying on my bathroom floor crying my eyes out, because once again, I was going through a horrible break up with a guy I knew better than to be with from the very beginning. Another "I knew better" situation, but I had managed to make enough excuses up in my head to convince myself to except it. There is always that voice (for me, it's God), that tells you "No, this isn't right" but it's so easy to ignore, and I had always been so desperate to feel love (because I couldn't love myself and couldn't see how much God loves me) that I always ignored it every single time. I'd let guys tell me everything I wanted to hear, I'd lie to myself and tell myself that that was ok, and then I'd feel even worse about myself deep down. It was only a temporary fix. That night on the bathroom floor, it hit me - "I can't keep doing the same things and expect different results" As in, I can't keep attracting the same kind of guy and expect them to love me differently. Especially when I can't even love myself first. Here is where it got hard: I realized that my definition of what a guy loving me looks like was severely flawed. Severely. And it all stemmed from how I looked at myself. The pattern was simple; I didn't look at myself with any value except for what my body had to offer, which lead to only being with guys who felt that same way about me. To me, the action of "I love you" was being wanted. Every. Single. Time. Each time that I found myself in this situation, I'd know it, and I could feel it wasn't right. But I wouldn't do anything about it because in my mind, what else did I really have to offer anyway? At the time, I thought nothing. So this vicious cycle of bad love finally, finally, came to a halt on the floor of my bathroom one Monday night - I was SO exhausted from making such bad decisions for myself. I was just broken.
So. I made a new decision. To just stop. To resist trying to fill a void, because I knew that what I had been experiencing for so long is not what love is supposed to ever feel like. I let go of my past (HARD!) and decided I was going to move on and only make the best decisions for myself from here on out. I was SO tired of attracting the wrong kind of guys in my life, and I knew that learning to love myself first would completely change that, and that sparked excitement in my weary heart.
I started setting goals for myself in fitness, in my business, in my friendships, and ultimately I really started taking time to learn about the girl that I actually am, not the girl I've been letting guys define me as. At first, I was really overwhelmed with feeling like an idiot and a failure, but slow and surely I started seeing and loving myself in a true and deep way. I started re-training my thought process about myself, too. I didn't have to drink, I didn't have to dress provocatively to get noticed (I know this sounds corny, but it's a struggle!!), I didn't have to post on social media when I felt bad about myself, and I did NOT have to let guys talk to inappropriately to me. No. This girl did not have to see that as love anymore. And because I started seeing myself in this new light, I am changed. I am free. The smile on my face is REAL. I feel closer to God, closer to my family, closer to my friends - and it's actually so much easier to support my friends now because I am not living in a negative mind set about myself. It's hard to be happy for others if we're unhappy with ourselves. I finally know what true joy feels like.
I wanted to share all of this because I know that I'm not the only one who's had this struggle, and for anyone going through it right now, you will absolutely get on the other side of it. I promise.
Finding our value comes from within, we cannot find it through how other people view us. Love was never meant to be given for a price, and I will never again tell myself that it is.
Whoever you are reading this, embrace yourself. Literally give yourself a big bear hug. Because you are one beautiful soul and you deserve to be loved in the most full and authentic way.
Almost exactly a year ago, I was standing in line at Starbucks in the Nashville airport heading home to Washington for a visit. Since Starbucks was so busy, a Barista had already come up to me earlier in the line and asked me what my drink was. “Chai latte, please.” (For some reason I only drink these when I am flying.) When I got up to the register the barista said “That’ll be $3.50”. I handed her debit card #1. Declined. I handed her debit card #2. Declined. I handed her credit card #1. Declined. I handed her credit card #2 (this is not a joke)…Declined. After 5 minutes of trying all 4 (FOUR!!!) of my cards in humiliation, while holding up an entire line of people, the barista finally told me my drink was free. I left the drink on the bar in shame and called my Mom crying.
It was at that moment that I promised myself I would never, ever, get myself in that situation again. After one year, I have kept that promise. I have paid off almost $3,000 in debt, cut up my credit cards, and live on a cash budget.
I’m 23 years old and I feel like school never taught me a thing about how to manage money in the real world. I had to find things out the hard way, like that your parking ticket doubles if you don’t pay it. Forget to open your $10.13 dentist bill that came in the mail? Don’t worry, they’ll send the debt collector after you which will $#% up your credit. Don’t know what 25.5% APR is? You’re screwed! And the list goes on…
I wanted to share this little story because I know that I can’t possibly be the only one at this age who has done a straight up shitty job with their finances. I am absolutely no expert on money, but I have learned some really important things along the way so far that have helped me to get to where I am now (goodbye poor girl in line at Starbucks!)
The following is real-world knowledge told by a non-expert:
1. When you’re in debt, not all of your money is yours anymore.
I thought being “in debt” wasn’t a big deal, until I learned that you’re literally in debt to someone and you’re basically their slave until it’s paid off, which means when you get your paycheck you owe them a chunk of it! Wtf. And you’re like “Well duh Hannah, obviously, you’re an idiot” and yes, yes, I was but I hadn’t grasped the concept that until I freed myself from my debt, all of my money wasn’t mine. I had to give a piece of it up every single paycheck until I settled myself out of the money slavery that I had so willingly signed myself up for.
2. Get on a cash budget.
I had a Barbie cash register when I was little and I remember (conning) my family members into buying candy from me...after they bought it for me at the store. (Smart business skills perhaps? This made no sense.) But my family members were kind enough to support my candy store anyway. Every time they dropped a quarter into my hand I was SO excited to put it into my register!! Now, if they had handed me their debit card, I would have been like WTF? And right now you’re probably like, “WTF, what’s your point Han??” Every time I get cash out for the week, I am way more hesitant to spend it because I literally have my money in my hands. It makes giving it away SO much harder because I can see how much (how little HAH!) I have. My point being, using my debit and credit cards was easy… it’s just swipe, swipe, swipe, all damn day long because all I am doing is handing the person a card, but having my money in my hand and actually seeing where it’s going helps me make WAY better decisions about when, where, and how I spend my money. I don’t wanna let go of my dough.
3. Quit being a $#%&ing idiot.
It takes money to do things and to make memories, so eating at the Turnip Truck everyday for lunch is not necessary because wtf kind of memory is lunch. (Unless it’s with a hot guy or something.) Nor is it necessary to spend money buying everybody a round of drinks because you think you’re cool (eye roll to myself), or buying new bedding at target for $300 (da fuq?). I realized I was addicted to making spur-of-the-moment spending decisions. I also thought that buying things would make me feel better after I had a "bad day". I’d eat a whole pint of Ben & Jerry’s ($7 worth of calories WTF) and then go shopping. Like what??? Having a “bad day” is not sad, what’s sad is being in debt. Because when you grow up and decide “Hey, I’d really like to go on a trip this year” you go “Shit, I can’t do anything because I have so much debt rolled up in this new Target bedding that I am suffocating.”
Basically I learned The Three B’s (I just made this up):
1. Bite the Bullet (I made paying off my debt my NUMBER ONE priority NOT buying shit at Target)
2. Budget (I got out cash money at the start of every single week)
3. Behave (I quit being an idiot)
So, I am sorry again to all of my family members who I bought shitty Christmas presents for last year. And I am also sorry that this year you will get shit ones again, because I am still crawling out of my debt hole.
Cheers to Christmas 2017.
It is so much easier to see where you're headed while facing forward.
Why is it so hard to stop looking back at the past? In my life, it's almost always because there is something I want to change. Whether it's the way someone hurt me, my relationship choices, career moves, or simply missing out on something I knew that I should have done. Getting stuck dwelling on the past is so extremely easy to do.
I think that when we do this often, it becomes a habit, and we start to train our minds to continuously refer back to a certain time or incident. For example, trusting someone. Although we may have gotten hurt, we can't train ourselves to think that everyone who walks into our lives are not trust worthy. If we did that, we would miss out on so many relationships while simultaneously being anxious and afraid that that is actually true. The more we allow our past hurts to dictate what we do, the more they actually will. We wind up with the same continuous calculation but we plug in different things: A new opportunity + past experience baggage = stagnancy.
There are so many different scenarios for this in life. We can't always control what happens to us, but we can control how we are going to respond.
If we are always looking back into the past, we won't ever be able to get where we are headed because we are simply too distracted. Letting go of things is not easy, but it is possible.
Sometimes I talk about journaling, because I believe that writing things out helps clear our mind. I was having trouble letting go of somethings in the past recently so I wrote out a list of everything I was continuously looking back on. One column said "past hurts" the other column I wrote "solutions". When I tried to fill out the "solutions" side, I couldn't. The only solution was that I had to move on; there was nothing else that could fix anything that had happened to me. It was my turn to make my move.
Sometimes we are waiting for an apology. Sometimes we are waiting for another tragedy to come because that is what we are used to. There will always be rain just as certain as there will always be sunshine.
The freedom of letting go of the past will clear our hearts and our minds to look at what is ahead in our beautiful lives. It's our choice to let go and we can do it morning, noon, or night; 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We are waiting on nothing but ourselves to turn our heads back around and take a step forward.
"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." -Howard Thurman
This is beautiful. This quote absolutely hit home for me. Sometimes the hard part is first figuring out what makes us come alive, but we were all born with passions placed inside of us.
It is pretty freeing to know that the world just needs us to be us. It needs each of our individual passions. No matter how big or small! The world needs us to just be our unique selves and to be alive in what we are doing. Follow that dream, open that store, write that book, get a job there, be open, share our joy, share our hurt, do whatever makes us feel like we are being our complete selves, and that authenticity & passion will pour into the world. And someone will grow in the soil we watered, and then they will start pouring into the next person, and on and on and on. That is how change happens, that is how we all make an impact; by doing what makes us come alive so we can truly be alive.
I struggled with this the for the past 3 years. Music had been what made me come alive for a long time, and then all of the sudden it stopped and I 100% did not feel alive with what I was doing anymore. In fact, I felt the complete opposite. In turn, I didn't have anything to give, I wasn't taking care of myself, I wasn't being a good friend and the worst part is is that I thought I HAD to stay in that position because I thought music what was I "born" to do and people would be disappointed if I changed my course and maybe I would be disappointed in myself, too. When I realized I was in a bad place, I had to make a decision to start opening up and diving back into the places in my life that I had deserted (which wasn't easy!) and also find the other things that I have a passion for - like this blog for example, and running, and volunteering, and making time for my friends, and loving myself, and being supportive to other people. And with making that uncomfortable change of course (cause let's be honest, it felt like a total identity change), I finally feel like I am living again.
Being alive by what we are doing puts us in the best position to be our best selves. And when we are being our best selves, it allows us to be the best to others.
We are changing the world just by being us, just by doing what makes us feel alive.
Pretty cool, huh?
Initially I hated this quote because it's always hard to believe that we have to have to struggle. But it's true! We all have it and the reward is so much sweeter when we can look back and say "Omgsh I cannot believe I got through that!!"
After I read this I was trying to think of a time where this has really applied to my life. Three words: Moving to Nashville.
I was 19 years old when I packed up and moved from Washington to Nashville. My then boyfriend also moved with me, at the time neither of us knew that our time together would only last 3 more months. I arrived in Nashville on July 1st and some where in the middle of September I came home from church one afternoon to find a half empty house. Earlier in the morning the decision had been made to part ways but my heart wasn't ready for such an abrupt change.
I had been coming to Nashville since 2008, and though I knew a lot of people in the music industry I had no friends. So I found myself alone in a new city 2,600 miles away from everything I was familiar with. After finding a temporary roommate off of Craigslist, I packed up and went home to Washington from Thanksgiving all the way to February.
When I got back to Nashville in mid February, my mind was made up that I was going to move home in April as soon as my lease was up. Waiting for April was excruciating. It consisted of the loneliest nights I have ever experienced. I had never felt so alone or so sad, I longed to be home with my family - I felt like I was trapped.
Somewhere around mid March an angel showed up. My friend (the only one in Nashville at the time) asked me if I wanted to grab lunch and catch up. When we met up that day I told her that my time here in Nashville was coming to a close and I was ready to give it all up and move home. Her response was "You have too much left to give to leave already." This woman was my reminder that someone still believed in me. This is one of the reasons I believe it is so extremely important to encourage each other because you don't know when someone is on their last leg of hope.
With more words spoken, my friend had renewed my faith in my decision to move to Nashville and we actually moved in together and became roommates for the next 15 months. Since my decision to stay in Nashville, so much has happened. And honestly, the hard times out number the good by 1,000. It wasn't until about 6 months ago (2.5 years into living here!) that out of the struggle started to become the reward. I never knew that fighting through the pain would lead me to: irreplaceable friendships, meeting some of my biggest musical influences, finding my true self, finding greater faith, finding a church I felt at home in, having my own Web Design business, working in my community, living in an amazing condo with my dogs in the coolest part of town... I could go on and on. The rewards have been so much greater because of the struggle. Struggle sucks, but it is real. So keep struggling through the struggle, wherever you are, because the reward will be beautiful.
*The author of this quote, Wilma Rudolph became the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field during a single Olympic Games in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome.
The other day I walked into my usual coffee shop and left with a surprise. I had never got a coffee from this place with a note on the sleeve before! The question made me really think. What am I listening to? That could go so many ways. My head? My heart? My dreams? Drake? Rihanna?
But in all seriousness, what a great question! Maybe we are currently listening to fear, or shame, or self doubt, or other people's opinions. Or, maybe we are listening to our hearts and our hopes. We always have a choice whether to listen to the negative or positive voices. I think it's really important and so beneficial to stop and think, What am I listening to?
What are you listening to?
This is such a badass reminder so I had to share it with you! Courtesy of The Happiness Planner!
Side note: Has anyone bought The Happiness Planner!? I have been REALLY wanting to try it out!
Right now, this list for me is: 1. My web design business 2. Running & Rock Climbing 3. Blogging
What are these 3 for you?
This morning I woke up really grouchy. I fell out of bed, yelled at my dog, and I think I was rude to my Mom on the phone (sorry Mom). I was so annoyed with myself for being cranky for no reason and I really wanted to figure out a way to fix it. So I decide I needed to take a seat (after I got my cup of coffee in hand of course) and write out a quick list of what I am thankful for. This always sounds cliche' to do, but after I did it I couldn't stop smiling! After that I shook my head at myself and laughed for being such a grouchy idiot.
I left for my meeting shortly after and when I pulled into the parking at my meeting place, this is what I saw.
p.s Have you ever tried "the list"?