What is mine…

Yards.  Lawns.

People take such pride in them, right?  Mowing, watering, landscaping, gardening.  Personally, I never got into it.  However, I do remember how I enjoyed using my push lawn mower in my first rental house. **See photo below for proof** I was about 21 years old, renting a one bedroom, 500 square foot house on a dead end street in East Nashville.  Mowing my lawn was my way of saying to the world, “Look at me, I’m grown up.  I’m independent.”  Never mind the fact that I was broke, watching the only 4 DVDs I owned on a little 15 inch TV (that had an attached VCR) from childhood.  But hot damn, I mowed my lawn.  That is…until my brand new lawn mower got stolen out of my backyard shed one weekend I was out of town.  How East Nashville…  I never loved mowing the lawn like that again.

It’s funny how seemingly insignificant little memories like that pop up and completely relate to your present-day life.   How, you ask?

Because, in this exact moment, I am not taking ownership of my yard.  Nope.  I’m not tending to it, watching it, taking responsibility for it 90% of the time.  You know what I AM doing?  Obsessing about everyone else’s yard…who should be allowed on it and who shouldn’t be, where they need to water it, how to make it prettier.  All the while, my yard goes to shit.  But hey, at least I’m being a good neighbor, right?

Hopefully at this point, you’re getting my analogy.  If you’re not, maybe you should stop smoking so much weed.  Ha.

Boundaries are a real and essential thing.  A thing that I’m forcing myself to acknowledge, understand, and set firmly for myself, regardless of my past.  Because if we’re being honest here, my boundaries have been about as sturdy as a house burning to the ground.  Oddly enough, I never knew the problem was as severe as it was until the last few months…

The moment I sat still long enough, I felt it.  The weight.  Like a 12 pound dumbbell, just hanging out on my chest.  I can still breathe, I can still function, but fuck… it’s starting to irritate me and upset me in a way that I can no longer talk myself out of it.  And anyone that knows me knows that I can definitely talk myself into or out of anything, ha.  So now we have an issue that has to be addressed or else, I might end up on a episode of “Dateline”.

Factors into this new “boundary awareness”:

  • Being only a 50 minute drive from your family instead of the 8 hours of distance you’ve had for the last 10 years
  • Moving in with my boyfriend
  • Constantly travelling back and forth between Nashville and Michigan every few weeks
  • Trying to remain friends with people I was close to when I was a hot mess
  • Having physical and emotional space to re-evaluate some of the people I surround myself with, and  yet I still manage to get stressed out
  • Adopting a puppy that has NO SENSE of personal space…nope, none.

If I could tell you the countless hours I’ve spent worrying/discussing/trying to find a solution for someone else’s health/finances/terrible exes they keep going back to/drug use/lack of sleep/car situation/relationship with their parents/retirement/toxic friends they hang around/Tinder hook ups and so on…you’d roll up a joint for me. And then hand me some Ambien.

I always justified it as one of the following, “But it’s family…She has nobody else to talk to…I’m the only positive influence he has…If I don’t help, no one else will…She looks up to me…He could have a heart attack if I don’t intervene…If it were me, I’d need someone to help me like this…Oh, she’d do the same for me…” and a million other reasons.

But the truth is…

I’m tired.  People WILL live without me trying to solve their problems.  People WILL figure it out one way or another.  People WILL let me down and not come through for me like I have for them.  I too will live.  Friends/family should not expect me to carry their burdens nor should I so willingly volunteer to do so. 

I’m literally reading a book right now called “Boundaries”.  Real life.  A therapist I went to see a few times, roughly 7 years ago, recommended it to me.  I was grieving from a rather devastating break up (6 months later) so when he made this recommendation, I drove to Borders (yes, we still had one of those then) and purchased the book.  I read the first chapter and then never thought about it again.  Shortly after, I got back together with the ex that pummeled my heart, resulting in me ceasing my sessions with said therapist.  If that isn’t a prime example of boundary misuse, I don’t know what is.  The more I read, the more I talk about it, the more I realize that my boundaries have been blurred my entire life.

That stops.  Effective immediately.

I have a yard.  It has a wooden fence all around it, with a little front gate.  The bad shit needs to be kicked out of my yard.  The good stuff stays for me to tend to, inside my fence.  The gate serves to close & lock on toxic people /situations/ways of thinking that don’t show respect to my yard and my fence.  The gate will only open for love.

I need to own my yard again.  

I need to learn to be the neighbor that smiles and waves and tries to keep her dogs from shitting in your yard.  And even if/when they do, I will still not come over to your yard.  Boundaries, y’all  🙂228361_6078485580_2108_n1









The ultimate “swipe right”

Around this time last year, I was asked out on date by a dude on Tinder, who’s caption read, “It’s getting cold outside.  Looking for a girlfriend for the winter.”  True story.

A girl with my dating track record really had nothing to lose.

I had JUST relocated to Michigan for a few months to work on a music project.  I had no social life outside of my family.  I’d just ended an 8 month turbulent relationship.  Detroit was frozen over and there weren’t enough bulky sweaters or Ugg boots to keep me warm.  I was the perfect candidate for Tinder.

I arrived 40 minutes late to my first date with Jon.
He was just relieved I showed up and that I wasn’t a dude.

It was a pleasant night, especially considering I had low expectations.  Tinder does that to you.  Well, no, dating does that to you,  ha.  We had dinner and drinks and walked to a local vodka distillery in the freezing cold.  When the night was over, there was a hug goodnight and we drove to our separate homes.

When he followed up the next day to make plans for a 2nd date, I won’t lie, I hesitated.  The whole “seeing someone” thing did not appeal to me.  Been there, done that, caught on fire one too many times.  I’m good…I’m only looking for attention.

I know I’m too much.  I’m loud and unfiltered, exceptionally weird as shit AND I work in music.  I like to bare my midriff and bar hop any day of the week.  I casually “date” and own (laugh at) every single dramatic/scandalous/entertaining story that comes with that.  I’m independent, I don’t know how to communicate through any vessel other than sarcasm and I’m too tired to give a shit about guys anymore.  The few guys I ever actually called a boyfriend ultimately ended up royally mind-@#*!ing me and inspiring my entire songwriting catalog.

And yet, there I was in November of 2015…600 miles away from those disasters.  Those stories.  Those bars, that scene, those exes.  I’m older now, it’s starting to feel less cute.  I’m also in a completely different part of the country now.  So what was going to be my excuse?   Did I want the path of destruction to run north and south…Or did I want to do it differently…Am I really not going to go out with this guy a few more times because of who I’ve been 600 miles south?  I was off the hamster wheel.  I was in Michigan.  No hamsters live through Michigan winters.

I’m not going to say I gave Jon a chance.  Because in all honesty, it wasn’t HIM that I was doubting at all.  It was me.  So I will say that from our 2nd date on…I gave MYSELF a chance.  I gave myself a chance to prove false whatever self-defeating thoughts I’d be carrying around in my head and in my heart that I couldn’t be/didn’t want to be “the relationship type”.  

And it truly was a process.
It’s a process to unlearn all the self-sabotaging thoughts/feelings/behaviors.  You can’t silence that inner voice as quickly as you’d like to.  We’d be out to dinner and he’d compliment me, only for me to roll my eyes or make a stupid face and say, “Yeah, ok.”  I’d say that happened for the first 3-4 months, easily.  And every time he’d say, “I’m just going to keep saying it until you start to believe it.”  Seriously, what is wrong with this guy?  He’d do thoughtful gestures like put gas in my car or surprise me with flowers or buy/ship me a Tempur Pedic pillow when I was out of town, and at least half the time I’d say, “Why’d you do that?  You don’t have to do that.”  Like, he was trying too hard or something.  Or even worse, he just doesn’t reeeeallllly know me yet.  Because once he does, this shit will stop.  We’ll both be swiping again soon enough.  Luckily, none of that was true.

Aside from the nice dinners or the thoughtful gifts or the sweet compliments, I was in awe of his patience more than anything.  And I still am.  I know I’m not easy.  I’m still learning.

Jon set the stage for me to look at myself in a way I never had before.  Kind of like “Pretty Woman” only minus the getting paid for sex part.  He gave me an opportunity to be a woman truly worth pursuing…the way my mom, my dad, my grandma always hoped a man would win me over.  And let’s be honest here, they’d all just about given up hope, ha.  I don’t blame them though.  They knew what I’d put myself through in the past.  He showed me that it’s okay to want these things.  It’s okay to think of myself as worthy and deserving of a mountain-moving love.

All the things I used to deem cheesy or unrealistic about being in a relationship were deemed so because I’d never felt it before.  I thought I didn’t want it because I didn’t know it.  So I never hoped for it, I never held out for it, I never asked for it.  I talked myself out of it long before any guy would end up disappointing me.

And Jon just gave his all.  Without question.  And continues to do so.

Not only did he expose me to new way to love…but he exposed me to his larger-than-life (borderline creepy) obsession with his bulldog, Stella, his ridiculous ‘if Danny Tanner were trying to seduce you’ dance moves, his grumpy old man opinions on everything from music to politics, he closet full of nothing more than plaid shirts and blue hoodies, his sappy and sensitive feelings when he’s had more than 3 IPAs, his super intense foot rubs,  his awkward story/joke delivery, and a million other things that I whole-heartedly love.

Who would have thought that after a decade of dating in Music City, I’d wind up with a car dealer in Michigan… Not I, that’s for sure.  But somehow, somewhere our stories blended perfectly.  And shit, we just stood side by side for last 365 days creating a new one.

I’ll drink to that.



What a difference a year can make.

What a difference a year can make.

Or 89 years, at that.

Yesterday we celebrated my Granny’s 89th birthday.  I want us all to take a moment here… EIGHTY-NINE YEARS OLD!  Taylor Swift was born in 1989.  My grandmother was born in 1927.  Like, whaaaaaa?!

This woman still lives alone in the house that she bought with my Grandpa over 50 year ago. She leased and drives a brand new Buick.  She looks like a damn beauty queen and won’t be seen in public unless she gets her hair done.  I squeeze her butt and give her hugs and kisses when we’re out and about constantly, only for her to say “Now Rachel, people are gonna think you’re a lesbian.” 

Everything about this woman literally takes my breath away.  Even if she’s cranky or not feeling good, or she’s critiquing my driving with every mile we’re in the car together… I’d take her on her worst day than most people on their best day.  I truly am in awe of every minute I get to spend with her.  And I mean that with every fiber of my being.

I’ve made a point to attend almost every birthday of hers since I moved to Nashville 10 years ago.  I put more weight on August 31st than Thanksgiving.  People always say, “Cherish your family… Don’t take the ones you love for granted… Let the people around you know how much you appreciate them.”  I have never demonstrated these thoughts/words/actions more evidently than with my Retha Mae.  IMG_2932

Which leads me to the title of this entry.

Granny’s birthday was symbolic.  Not only because she has blessed this earth for 89 years, but also, because it is an anniversary (of sorts) for me.

Last year, at this time, I made a decision. 

A decision that would root me more in Detroit rather than Nashville.  I’d still split the time 50/50 between the two cities, it’s just that my Tempur-Pedic bed would reside in MI for a time.  I’d be working on a film project in Detroit, and yet still keeping my session work/writing appointments/writer’s rounds in Nashville just as active as before.

A couple of very dear friends of mine had offered their moving truck and their assistance last year, around springtime.  However, that “move” wasn’t to be scheduled until later in the fall of 2015. 

On August 29, 2015, I was sitting in on a show at the legendary Bluebird Café.  I was asked to sing a couple songs, so I did, all while hearing my phone vibrate on the floor beneath  my chair.  When I was done singing, I checked my phone, only to see several messages informing me that my friends were still able to help me move, but it’d have to be THE VERY NEXT DAY, or else they’d be out of commission for awhile.

I immediately called my “boyfriend” at the time (*cringe*), and freaked out.  I had nothing ready to go, nothing was packed.  Instead of heading home and getting to work, I decided to sit in a bar across from the Bluebird and numb myself with vodka sodas.  The next morning, we woke up at 6am and started making piles… KEEP/GOODWILL/THROW AWAY/SELL ON CRAIGSLIST.  A couple friends came over to help later in the morning and there was just no time to second-guess, to have anxiety, to back out.  By 2pm, the moving truck was there and 10 years of my life were in piles.  ***You can see the Instagram video I uploaded of the move here https://www.instagram.com/p/6_DrCzBibT/ 

We loaded up my stuff AND my car (yes, the moving truck was big enough to fit my vehicle inside of it too!) and immediately hit the road.  We drove all day and night…me, my boyfriend at the time, and my friend from OH with the truck.  We spent the night at my friend’s house in Ohio, just 90 minutes shy of Detroit.  The next morning, we quickly made the drive into Michigan, unloaded things into my parent’s garage and basement.  There was no real plan.  I couldn’t leave leave Nashville for another couple of months, so I just needed to put my stuff somewhere.  And when the opportunity to move a lot of your big belongings comes along, you jump.  Or else, you pay out the ass for a U-Haul and try to do all this shit on your own at a later time.  Uh, no thanks. 

And wouldn’t you know, the day this craziness occurred just happened to be my Grandma’s 88th birthday.

I hadn’t planned on being there.  It was a complete coincidence.  You see, I couldn’t get the time off of work (I was waitressing on the side) and I didn’t have the money to make the trip up, so I had chalked it up that for the first time in years, I’d miss Granny’s birthday.

Apparently not.

I got to hug her, sing Happy Birthday to her and my sister (Lindsey’s birthday is the day before Granny’s, on the 3oth), and hang out a couple hours.  After that, we backed my car off the moving truck, my ex and I got into the car, and we drove back down to Nashville that same day.  (He was re-enlisting in the Air Force at 9am the next morning, and those things…well, you can’t reschedule.  Ha.)  On the drive back to Nashville, I was informed by the sports bar that I’d been working at for quite some time, that my services were no longer needed.  No one believed that a moving truck showed up with practically no warning and despite my desperation to call co-workers and my boss to cover my shift, no one did.  So I was fired. 

So to recap:  In a matter of 48 hours I… was told a moving truck would be there the very next day, packed up 10 years of my life in 8 hours, drove 550 miles to Detroit, unloaded my stuff, celebrated my Granny & sister’s birthday, drove 550 miles back to Nashville, and got fired from my job.

And here I am… A year later.

I look back on the madness of a year ago, and I actually laugh.  It was ridiculous and frankly, quite unbelievable.  The stories I have, the shit I put myself through, the hamster wheel that never stopped, the guys I insisted on (and yet was in denial of) wasting my time on…

God knew what He was doing.  As frantic as it all sounds, I never doubted that the Universe did what it did to bring me here.  I can’t believe how much happier I am.  How much more hopeful I am.  How much more motivated and passionate I am about life, my family, love, and of course, music…

I could go on and on and on about all the differences and gifts and awakenings the last 12 months has given me, but this blog entry is long enough.  We will get to it.

Right now, I’m about to pack up the car and drive from Detroit to Oneida, NY with my boyfriend/the best love in the world/not the guy from a year ago, where one of my very best friends is getting married this weekend.  She was my roomie/sidekick for years in Nashville and her story is a lot like mine.  But again, we’ll get to that in another blog soon.

Much love to you all.

Thanks so much for reading.

And hey, call your Grandparents.  They miss you.