Truce.

Truce.

It’s 8:15AM on a Wednesday.

I’m sitting at the kitchen table, right beside our big front window with an iced coffee, our little boring street serving as the perfect morning backdrop for some writing.  Straight ahead of me, our three dogs are sleeping on the couch.  I keep a watchful eye on them, one in particular.

I know that I should write now because in less than 12 hours, our lives will more than likely be completely changed.  And if/when it comes, I won’t be able to write the story I want to share right now, in this moment, because my grief will take over and tell a much sadder story.  But as of right now, I’ve got three girls snoring on the couch, coffee, and more composure than I had yesterday, so here we go…

Let me tell you about a beautifully complex relationship I have.  Some may refer to it as a “love-hate” relationship…I’d always call it a “love-I don’t particularly like you” thing.   Regardless, it’s been our shtick for the last 2 and a half years and we’ve grown more than used to it.  Never has a dynamic made me more grateful or more annoyed, I think, ever.

The “tug-of-war” between me & a 10 and a half year old English Bulldog that hung the moon and the stars for the man who promised me forever.

Let me tell you about a girl named Stella.

Stella has been with my fiancé since Day 1.  He got her with an awful ex-girlfriend down in Florida.  (I’m not bitter, she’s just awful.)  When they broke up, Jon pleaded for the dog.  So the ex said she’d only give him 100% custody of Stella if she could take every single piece of furniture in the condo they shared with her, forks and the toilet paper roll included.  Jon agreed.  He then proceeded to sleep on the floor, in a dog bed beside Stella, for God knows how many days until finally his friends told him he was being pathetic and drove him to a mattress store for a bed.

From there on out, it was Jon and Stella.  The very best of friends.  He took her absolutely everywhere with him, off the leash, the ultimate sidekick.  He never stopped dotting on her or talking about her in those few and far between times that she wasn’t right beside him.  His friends knew, he family knew…this was his ride-or-die.  When another major relationship came and went, leaving him down, his biggest comfort/support was Stella.  There was always Stella.  

When Jon got talked into moving back to Michigan 4 years ago to help his family with his father’s business, Stella set off for the adventure with him.  A move from Florida to Michigan was a very tough adjustment, as you can imagine.  But living solo in a rental home less than a mile from his family’s shop didn’t seem quite as depressing when he was coming home to Stella.  When his old friends all had new lives and Jon didn’t feel like he quite fit in, he still had Stella.  When he went on one bad Friday night date after another with a random Tinder girl, he got to come home to Stella.

That’s where I come in…

Like all great love stories, Jon and I met on Tinder.

He’d been living back in Michigan for over a year when we first met.  I had been back in Michigan less than 2 weeks.  (Clearly, I waste no time.)

I remember our first few dates, him talking about Stella and showing me photos.  I relocated from Nashville with my 2 doggie daughters, Deliah and Delaney, so I found it adorable that here was a single guy that was so good to his dog.  Around our 5th or 6th date, I took him up on his invitation to cook me dinner and went over to his house for the very first time.

The first time I met Stella kinda felt like walking into a batting cage and having the pitching machine malfunction.  Let’s just say, she required a lot of attention, ha.  The moment I sat down, she was pushing slobbery toys into my lap, growling like a ferocious alley dog, not letting Jon come near me without standing or sitting in between us.  He cooked her fillet to eat before he completed our meal of salmon.  When sitting on the couch, he sat on the inside corner, putting his arm around me.  Stella, who was sitting up as straight as possible on the couch directly beside me, faced us and made me feel like “personal space” was not her thing.  While she was being pet with the same arm that Jon had around me, I started to develop motion sickness and requested to trade places the second half of the movie.  Romantic, I know.  It was right around this time that I started to put it together…this dog was not going to lay down without a fight.

A few dates later, I would soon realize that if I thought my problem was just a possessive dog, I was mistaken.  My problem was also an obsessive dog owner… yes, you read that right.  There is such a thing as loving your dog a little too much.

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Full disclosure, a girl he had gone out with a few times before me had actually used Stella as the excuse when saying she couldn’t see him anymore.  So I mean, the connection is real…as is witnessing it, ha.  And truth be told, I had many conversations with my family and close friends early on, when I was describing how over-the-top amazing this new guy I’ve been seeing was but…that I really didn’t think it was going to work out…because of his dog.

If I knew anything, it’s that one must never feel they have to choose between someone and their dog.  If you didn’t like my Deliah or Delaney, you were out, plain & simple.  (I’ve honestly broken up with dudes that yelled at/seemed annoyed by my dogs.). So I was cautious.  I waited another handful of dates to bring up my concerns.  When I did, he thought I was joking.  What, a guy who loves his dog too much?  There could be worse things, you know.

Yes, there could be worse things.

Like breaking up over a dog.

He soon understood that compromises had to be made in order to have both a happy girlfriend and a dog.  Thankfully he found me worth it.  And I tried SO hard those first 6 months to be patient.  The hardest sacrifice was kicking Stella out of the bed.  You know how when you sleep beside a little kid and it’s like they are the hands of a clock…somehow they do an entire body rotation throughout the night, kicking you in the face, vagina, and everywhere else?  Well, imagine if that kid was also snoring and blowing farts in it’s sleep.  Now imagine if you were sleeping next to two of them.

So yes, I was adamant about the dog-less bed.

As time went on, I’d like to tell you that Stella and I forged an inseparable bond.  But not quite.  When I moved my two dogs into the house, it took some adjusting.  She didn’t want to eat for me.  Or go for walks with me.  Only for her Daddy.  She was like an emotional ninja.  She knew how to play it.  Correction, she still knows how to play it.

I’d always laugh when I’d describe it to people, “We have a very stepmom/stepchild thing going on here.  I love you but I don’t get you so let your father deal with it.”

When discussing our wedding coming up this October, I joked and said, “We should have the bridal march play and send Stella down the aisle in a veil.  Everyone would lose their shit.”  They would because EVERYONE that knows Jon would get it.

But unfortunately for all of us, the reality of that is very slim.

Stella fell ill on Saturday afternoon and was rushed to the emergency vet.  After almost 2 full days in an oxygen chamber, being pumped with fluids and antibiotics, we were told that she would not recover.  The fluid they found in the x-ray on Saturday had spread by the next day and they feared it was heart disease.  She has an intestinal blockage that requires surgery, however, with this fluid around her heart, she wouldn’t survive the surgery.

Monday was one of the hardest days I can recall in recent memory.  Death seemed swift and unforgiving and we weren’t prepared for any of it.  The vet advised putting her down rather than putting her through the surgery.

How could this be?  We just had her at the lake less than a week ago.  She was playing with her sisters in the yard the day before.  Jon takes her to the vet every few months for nothing more than to hear, once again, what an outstandingly healthy dog she is for her age.  We feed her the best foods, she’s on heart worm medication.  How is this even possible?

The vet told us the surgery would cost $3,000.  We’d already paid over that to stabilize her at the emergency vet over the weekend.  No one ever wants to feel like they’re putting a price-tag on their child, but the mere thought of going broke and having her die on an operating table was something I knew we couldn’t live with.

So we brought her home Monday afternoon.

It is now 11:04am.  

I tried to take a breather from crying and head to a kickboxing class.  However, I kept having to run back into the house, forgetting one more thing before I pulled out of the driveway.  So now I’ll just stay here.

I beckoned Stella off the couch (where she’s been in a napping coma all morning) to come outside.  She immediately jumped off on her own, walked to the back door, and found the nearest stick in the backyard and started chewing.  It has now been almost an hour later and we are still outside.  Tugging on the new toy I bought her a couple days ago.  Soaking up sunshine on the little deck Jon built the other week while I was in Nashville.

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The hardest thing about all of this is that some hours, she seems like she always has… a playful, toy possessive, give me all the belly rubs girl.  Other times, we feel like we have to check to make sure she’s breathing.

The emotional rollercoaster of this is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.

We take her to the vet this afternoon for one final x-ray and both of us have accepted what we might have to do by the end of the day.

I will say this though…no matter if this is her last day with us or whether we have more, it is a blessing.  The despair we felt Monday morning after the vet told us our options compared to what I feel in this current moment are night and day.  Even if it was only a few extra days, it was more time than we thought we had a few days ago and I am so incredibly thankful.

My heart truly has expanded in it’s brokenness throughout all this.

I have always loved Jon.  I will always love Jon.  Forever does not scare me in the least.  But in the last few days, I’ve physically felt this love deepen.

What once was obnoxious is now gut-wrenchingly special.  I know he’s absorbing every slobbery kiss, butt wiggle, belly rub, every compliment she gets to hear him tell her.  He keeps reiterating how this dog saved him from the lowest of lows.  I already know this, but I listen and nod anyway.   I can relate.  If I didn’t have my Deliah and Delaney when I plummeted to rock bottom time and time again years ago, I don’t know what I would have done.  There was something about being able to cry to my dogs, having them in the room with me when the loneliness felt unbearable.  But there was a difference between Jon and I.  I’ve always had close family and friends rally around me, I’ve always a shoulder to cry on, whether I took it or not is another story.  But there were times in Jon’s life where he truly only had Stella to get him through.  And thankfully, she did just that.

I am forever indebted to this 65 pound, wrinkly faced, fart machine of a dog.

As sure as Jon gave her a wonderful life, she ensured that I had the best place to land when I finally found it.  His love is as close to unconditional as I’ve known (from someone outside of my family, of course) and I know that is because of Stella.

In a weirdly poetic way, I feel like Stella and I have come to the ultimate understanding.

A truce.

I acknowledge that she made him the loving human he is.  That she brought him out of the darkest times in order to not just survive it, but be better for it.  To be ready and waiting and willing for my crazy ass to walk in and change everything.

And she understands that Jon doesn’t need her to be the only thing that gets him through anymore.  He has me so he’ll never be alone again.  He’s in good hands.

Jon and I have both suffered some major losses and some very close calls in our short time together, but I have no doubt that this will be one of the toughest things we’ll ever go through.  And for the first time, maybe ever, I understand what it’s like to truly hold someone up and love them through it.  To deeply hurt for someone else.  To be a rock.  To be a true partner.

So I guess we can add that to the list of what Stella Robocop Drouillard has done.

She made a wife out of me.  

Truce, you “angel from Heaven”.

I love you, Stella.

xoxoxo

The luckiest Stepmom ever

 

THE LATEST:  9:30PM

We went to a different vet around 3:45PM, where we sat in a small, claustrophobic room for over 2 hours.  The anxiety was excruciating, waiting in a 4 x 4 room for what we’d prepared ourselves for…the worst news.

The vet told us that the mass had moved, but still had not passed.  That because Stella was still drinking/eating and not getting sick, clearly things were moving around the obstruction, so that was not her primary problem.  The problem is her heart.  With a thorough physical exam but without an “official” cardiologist diagnosis, our vet seems certain that Stella has AFib.

When she recommended a cardiologist to work with to possibly prolong Stella’s life another 6 months or so, we both declined.  No one, including Stella, needs to go through more tests and procedures and medical bills.  When the vet saw us start to cry in our conflict over putting an outwardly healthy-looking/acting dog down…she took it to heart.  She offered to prescribe Stella some heart medication, despite not being a cardiologist, that may or may not help, but regardless, won’t do anything to hurt Stella’s condition.

We were speechless, overcome with gratitude.

She told us, “If you told me she wasn’t eating & drinking.  That she wasn’t able to move around or seemed in pain, I’d tell you different.  But she’s tugging ropes and wagging her tail at me right now.  I wouldn’t feel right about putting this dog down either.  She’s tough.  She doesn’t want to die yet.”

And just like that…we got more time.

Might not be much more than a week or two, but it’s more.  And we’ll take it.

Thank you for your prayers and your support.

And yes, our truce still stands 😉

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The beauty and total weird-ness of “engaged”

So for those of you that are late to the party… I’m engaged.

Yes, I know.

Start praying to your God because the apocalypse is near.  Ha.

But really.

Thirty-one days ago, I said “Yes” to a guy who kneeled down beside our bed with a big diamond ring.  While I sat there, makeup-less and sporting bulldog pajama pants, completely stunned.  It was without a doubt, the easiest “Yes” I’ve ever given in my life.  Granted, I would’ve much preferred to look stunningly beautiful in some lavish treehouse where stardust was sprinkling from the sky…but hey… it was still sweet.  And caught me completely off guard.  Quite the feat.

And the beauty of it was, I never had even a moment’s hesitation.

Yes.

This is it.

This is my human.  I found him.  And even better…

My human WANTS to be tied with my crazy ass for the rest of his life…like, he thinks HE’S hit the jackpot with ME.  Clearly, he’s insane.  Lucky for me.

And it’s been a blissful month.  Strange, in some regards.  And definitely, a huge reminder to myself (and those around me) that I am rather far removed from the typical girl’s frame of mind with being “engaged”.

First of all, please let me preface this with… I AM SO HAPPY WITH THIS MAN!  He is the only person I could ever say/think/feel ‘forever’ about.  He’s the weirdest, most generous, down for an adventure dude I’ve ever known and he makes me better without ever asking it of me.  I literally cannot believe that someone knows all my bullshit…my hot mess of a past…this “wrecking ball to the self-esteem” dream I continue to chase…the balance in my checking account currently…my obsession with my larger than life family…supporting that I live in another state 50% of the time…the reality that I’ll never love his dog half as much as he does…my inability to apologize most of the time…(you catch my drift)…and yet…

He will stand before anyone and everyone and promise me the best and the rest of his life.

Holy shit, ya’ll.

Just typing that (and the 3 glasses of wine I’ve had) is making me tear up majorly at the moment.  I never thought I’d see the day that I’d get engaged.  And to be completely honest with you, I was more than okay with that.  Because a ring on my finger was never a part of “the dream” (just ask any guy I’ve ever dated/family/friends).  I never envisioned what a wedding would look like.  (Or owning a house.  Or having children.  Or basically, anything that a normal adult would see for their lives.)  Simply put, that was never in my “check” boxes.

So to be wearing a ring of my finger for the last 31 days, and to have not lost/misplaced it yet, is truly wild.  That being said…

Being engaged is fucking weird.

People congratulate me constantly…for what?  I mean, I too am happy that I have this guy and that I’m no longer wasting time getting wasted with douchebags.  Because those that know my story know that it ain’t been the prettiest.  I’ve been through some real shit.

But to congratulate me feels odd…like I accomplished something super impressive…the impressive part was finally allowing someone deserving into my world and loving him back.  The ring is just a beautiful bonus.  But even still…

I’m only part way to the finish line by Pinterest’s standards.  

Because apparently there’s this whole wedding thing to plan/obsess/lose my shit over.

And the unavoidable “so you’re going to have children?” conversation.

Let me say this.

I can’t not roll my eyes at the word “fiancé”.  Nor do I care about a date, a dress, a venue, color schemes, the selection of the wedding party, keeping my nails well-manicured to show off my ring, picking out baby names, or anything else that isn’t about one thing and one thing only…

Me & him.  Him & I.

The ones doing forever.

So yes,  I did wait almost a week before I announced my engagement on social media.  Yes, we still haven’t changed our Facebook relationship status.  Yes, you will have to ask to see my ring because I won’t think to flaunt it for everyone I see.  Yes, it’s true, we don’t have a date or a plan yet and we are totally okay with that.  And yes, if him and I were only thinking of ourselves, we would’ve eloped yesterday.

And yes…the moment I realized I didn’t care about the attention or validation like I thought I was supposed to was when I knew…

This shit is real, this is right…

This is cemetery plots side by side.

Bring it on, baby.

And a whole-hearted “THANK YOU” to the followers of this journey…sweet Lord, we’ve seen it all and I love you for loving me through it ❤

 

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everything in the middle of nowhere.

everything in the middle of nowhere.

It’s a weird thing.

I have literally thought to myself and/or said out loud to others, “I really feel like blogging” and yet… nothing.  For quite awhile now.

That is always a huge indicator for me.  I write when I have something that needs to be said.  When the desire to write my heart, read it back, and allow myself to process is more overwhelming than anything going on externally.  And sometimes, there’s just too much that needs to be said.  So, instead of flushing them out and tackling these topics one by one, I stay silent.  The chaos stays internal.  The blog stays unwritten.

I’m currently 3 songs written, 2 hours of Golden Girls watched, and a bottle of wine consumed today so… here we go.

I left Detroit on April 22nd.  That means, it’s been a whole 30 days since I’ve seen my dogs, my family, my porch swing, and my bed.  It has been 20 days since I have seen my boyfriend.  This probably seems extreme to a lot of you.  To some of you musician/gypsy spirit types, this seems relatively normal.  I rest somewhere between the two. 

I make sacrifices all the way around, some days seeming more worthwhile than others.  The documentary that initially prompted my split location finally wrapped filming 5 weeks ago, so now the “I have to be in Michigan for this” is up.  Clearly, life is much different than it was 18 months ago when I made the decision to give up my ever-dramatic, forever busy, at times volatile, full-time living (and distracting myself from) “the dream” in Nashville.

I now live in an “old lady bungalow” in the suburbs with the greatest man I’ve ever known and all of our doggie children.  I have a baby niece and nephew that I’m completely obsessed with.  I have a Granny that turns 90 years old in August and lives 5 miles away from the rest of my family.  I have an Aunt that probably doesn’t “need” me, but regardless, I feel called to be there for since the loss of my Godfather.  I have a few friends (new and old) that truly “get me” and I’m grateful.  The desire to create music and share it with Detroit remains strong.  I’m “one of them” and I yearn to contribute in a way I haven’t just yet.

However, Nashville brought me up.  It’s brought out the very best and the very worst in me.  I’m now at a place where I can recognize where I was and who I’ll never be again, no matter how alluring it may seem at times.  I am not that girl anymore, praise God.  And I’m SO thankful that I can have that realization NOW and not on my 2nd stint in rehab or with a couple kids under my belt.  Nashville, for all it’s hardships, is also where so much of my light is…it’s where I’m the most creative, the most productive, the most inspired.  Re-working my boundaries and my social circle has been a lot, but I’ve already seen the benefits.  I’m still working on eliminating the fog of self-defeating and self-sabotaging thoughts that held me down for so long, but I know the vision is getting clearer everyday.  I’m not the same Rachel I was 18 months ago and the Rachel in Nashville today genuinely reflects that.

And yet, all this time and traveling that has taken place since I left my little domestic haven on Baker Avenue in Michigan weeks ago… somehow, my lines have been blurred, scribbled, and stomped on repeatedly.  Two trips to Florida and 2 weeks in Nashville later, my sense of “peace” has been relatively non-existent for a month now.  There’s definitely a few people I could blame for this, but what’s the point?  It’s only partially their fault.  Because at the end of the day, I could’ve handled their poor behavior and these toxic situations differently.  And I’m disappointed that I didn’t.  In a couple of these scenarios, I thought keeping neutral and “cool” would be for the best, for myself and the others traveling with me.  It wasn’t.  So I ended up feeling like a doormat and allowing a few people that I love to feel the same.  Another scenario weighing heavy on my heart tonight is where I completely unloaded EVERYTHING, without ever coming up for air.  And regardless if those things were on my heart, I’m disappointed that I allowed those buttons to be pushed so severely.

It’s all left me feeling exhausted.

So yesterday morning, slightly hungover (and definitely sleep-deprived from what is now considered a rare, “girls night” out downtown), I picked up my (nearly) 90 year old Granny from Nashville International Airport at 8:30AM.  I immediately took her to the Cracker Barrel where I tried to nurse us both back to life with biscuits and a pot of coffee.  I then proceeded to drive 90 minutes to her hometown of Hohenwald, TN, where I’d be dropping her off for a few days with her youngest (and last-surviving) brother, my Great Uncle Johnny and his wife, Aunt Lillie Mae.  As tired as I was, I enjoyed the scenic drive with my ‘side-kick’.  I hung on every story that my Granny’s hoarse voice tried to tell me of anything and everything.

When we arrived, I stayed most of the day with zero distraction.  You see, Hohenwald is a “No Service” zone for Sprint.  Not “Extended”, not 1 bar if you stand at the end of the drive…no, it’s “No Service” for at least 20 minutes in every direction.  It stormed pretty hard for a majority of the afternoon, so that aided in my long visit.  A few times, I just sat out on the porch and listened to this beautifully vast country-side get pummeled by rain.  When it cleared up hours later (and I’d eaten about 10 pounds worth of good ol’ country cooking), I hit the road alone back to Nashville.

I was thankful for the solo drive.  I typically use that time to explore, get a little lost, make a dead-stop in the middle of the street just to take a photo, admire all the farms/random country stores/abandoned houses/gas stations, and know that GPS isn’t going to work 95% of the time.  And this time was no different.  I definitely got lost without my navigation working.

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It’s funny how that happens…

We rarely allow ourselves to get lost.

We rarely give ourselves permission or allow time for exploration.

I’m forever grateful for my drives to and from Hohenwald, even if it’s just for that.

Honestly, it’s a spiritual experience.  I soak it all in.  The scenery is always mystifying to me.  My heart is literally pulled in.  It was probably on my 3rd stop in the middle of the road to snap a photo that I realized that THIS WAS EXACTLY WHAT I NEEDED.  The peace I SO craved with these Florida beaches, a “vacation” from the dogs and my family life was so completely and utterly unfulfilling for a reason.

Nothingness.  No phone service.  No social media.  No making plans.  No time-crunch.  No traveling with others.  No worrying what others would be thinking or doing or texting.  No passive-aggressive bullshit.  Just shutting the fuck up and taking it in.  And it happened.  The peace was unreal.  And then, in the midst of trying to figure out which direction I was effin going down on some back country road, there was this….

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And I thanked God at least a dozen times.

And then I drove directly to Kingston Springs, completely bypassing Nashville and the “night out” I had originally planned to have.   I went to bed at 10PM and for the first time in forever, I SLEPT IN…until 11AM at that, my first night of more than 5 hours of sleep in weeks.

Turns out, you can really work some shit out in the middle of nowhere.

I don’t know, maybe getting lost is the best way to find your way.

 

-RW

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Burden or light.

www.RachelWilliamsOnline.com

I don’t know when it happened exactly.  I just know it happened.

It wasn’t overnight.  It wasn’t one catastrophic event.  It wasn’t someone’s words that lingered.  It wasn’t one specific loss that did me in.

So I guess it was an endless series of things…life…that didn’t seem all that noticeable at the time but “out of nowhere”, somehow, it all culminated into a big ball of everything.  Defeat.  Exhaustion.  Emptiness.  Fear.

I lost faith in myself.

I lost trust in not just a dream, but in my purpose. 

No one understands the weight and the weightlessness of someone’s dream except the one dreaming it.  They can try to explain it to you, the highs and lows…You can nod your head and say, “I get it” but we both know you’re lying.  Because someone’s vision for their life is theirs and theirs alone.  The words will always fall flat to the most hopeful of dreams and ambitions.  My story will not resonate in your soul like it resonates in mine.  That is fact.  And each of us can choose to see that as a burden or as a light.  In my life, I’ve switched back and forth on how I view mine.  And as of lately, it’s been on the heavier side.

And as I sit here on this office couch in Kingston Springs, Tennessee, the reality of my situation is sinking me into these couch cushions more than my big ass.

I cannot ignore it.

I cannot turn off the voice inside.

There is no fire extinguisher to put out whatever is trying to burn brighter inside of me.  I’ve looked for one.  Whether it was in a bar, or in a bed, or holding new nieces and nephews and trying to convince myself that “This wouldn’t be so bad”…  It didn’t work.

So, I have a choice.

We all have a choice.

Burden or light.

Somewhere along the way, a lot of us quit dreaming.  It became too hard.  Too unattainable.  Or, you gave up on yourself before you even started.  Or, you turned 40 and you deemed yourself “too old”.  The world, your family, your significant other told you there was no security in it and you believed them.  Whether it was a teacher who once wanted to move to Hollywood or a plumber who dreamed of being a writer all through high school.  You went another way because you were unsure.  And it’s not to say you don’t live a happy life now.  Your life is valid and important.  We need the teachers, the bartenders, the taxi drivers, the construction workers, and so on to survive.  But maybe you had other aspirations once upon a time.  And maybe, just maybe, it’s okay for you to still have them today…even if it’s not what’s bringing in your paycheck.

Being in Nashville the last few days has been a very eye-opening experience.  Living here 50/50 is good for me. I’m starting to see it differently, literally and figuratively.  I’m having different conversations.  And even the conversations that might be the same, I’m choosing to take away different information from them.  And the thought that keeps nailing me in the back of the head is this… the dreamer’s dream is as big or small as they make it.  It’s as heavy or as light as you want it to be.

I don’t know who/when/where it says that you can’t pursue whatever it is you want to.  Or that there’s an expiration date/age for going after something with all your heart.  Or that you can only choose “one thing” and stick with it until you get rich or you die of a broken heart and a shriveled liver.  Really?  Those are my only options?  I call bullshit.

This weekend I was humbled by a few conversations with good friends.

I have confessed my insecurities and my crippling self-doubt about finally releasing my new music and stepping into the “artist” role again.  I have teared up admitting that I’m afraid to pick up the phone or shoot the email to ask for help because I feel like no one cares anymore.  It took too long.  I’ve paralyzed myself by attaching everything to this big vision of how I thought it should be…all the ducks that needed to be in a row…that now that it’s taken longer than it was supposed to, I’m somehow inadequate.  My fear became too all-consuming for me to commit and pull the trigger.

Their response to my bleeding heart confessions…?

Do it.  Write it.  Sing it.  And they will come.  The time is now. 

How uncomplicated & undramatic is that?!  After this long & drawn out internal war I’ve been waging in my head that has drained me completely…THAT is the solution?!

Yup.

1st conversation:  One of my dear friends is a photographer here in Nashville.  An incredible photographer at that.  She called me up and treated me to breakfast because she wanted to ask for my help.  At 32 years old, she wants to start writing songs.  Can’t sing, can’t play any instruments, but wanted to follow this creative path because it called to her.  She’s not looking for it to produce a hit song or a publishing deal…she just wants to write.  I was so blown away by this concept that when she asked if I’d help her, I answered with a resounding, “Fuck yes.”  So the next day, she came out, I helped piece together one of her tunes and she was over the moon.  She’s still on such a high from absorbing information I’d shared with her about song structure and the business that she can’t stop writing…or singing my praises.  And it’s just like, holy shit… how brave that she doesn’t know what she’s doing yet but she’s just doing it anyway.  I used to be her.  And if she can be her and not feel afraid to dream new dreams, then what the hell is my excuse…?

2nd conversation:  Friend of mine has been in town over a decade, singing and writing his ass off.  He networks like no one I’ve ever seen.  His hair, his clothes, his voice…all loud and proud and he gives off the vibe that he gives zero fucks what anyone has to say about it.  Sitting down for coffee with him yesterday, he caught me up on his journey.  After over a decade in this town, playing & hosting writer’s rounds and performing showcases as a solo artist, he decided to change it up and form a band to play downtown Broadway every Friday night, after never playing/aspiring to play downtown before.  And not just “play on Broadway”, but audition, rehearse, and put together a BOMB ASS SHOW that no one else is doing downtown and that people are flipping out over.  He posts videos of rehearsals, etc. unapologetically and people are loving it…he’s exposing his talent in a way he hadn’t before and it’s awesome.  Why?  Because he felt like it.  Oh, and he also started his own clothing/styling thaaang and he’s KILLING IT.  So who’s to say that “the dream” has to follow X, Y, Z to be recognized and appreciated…?!

3rd conversation:  Yesterday I attempted a Sunday Funday, brunch and all, and it didn’t go quite as I had imagined.  By 3pm, my friends had other plans to tend to so I was left with a full belly, a couple of vodka sodas in me, and nowhere to be.  As I was driving back to the house and passing through Music Row, a friend/my favorite co-writer called me up and asked what I was up to.  I immediately spit out, “Meet me at the office.  Now.  We are writing a song on a Sunday Funday.”  So we did.  I’d had this song idea in my head for a few days and I guess I felt it hit too close to home to sit down and flush out by myself.  I needed backup.  Her and I are good about doing that for each other, ha.  During our write/therapy session we started talking about how things in Nashville have changed so much in all the years we’ve been here.  We talked about the hustle.  We talked about the lack of the hustle as compared to some of these ‘newbies’.  We talked about the new crop of writers and artists coming here and how they are making things happen and how it’s easy to feel forgotten if you let yourself go there.  She works harder than anyone I know.  She’s working the graveyard shift at a “real job” so that she can try to pay her bills, takes a short nap during the day, and then wakes up and writes songs/goes to shows before she has to go work again with a few hours of sleep under her belt.  I don’t know dedication like that, I really don’t.  But she does it.  And when I watch her win CMA Song of the Year in the future, everyone in this town is going to celebrate the girl behind that dedication.  I told her, “What if we moved forward acting like we’re fresh off the boat too.  What if the stars in our eyes still existed, we just let life cloud them over.”  And then we wrote a really good song.

It’s not a prerequisite to have a tortured heart or be a pessimist to chase dreams.  We choose that on our own.  And how we beat ourselves up is farrrr worse than what anyone out there has ever said/thought about us.  So I hope we can get over it.  Because the alternative is to stop chasing.  And I don’t know about you, but I’m quite positive that I have no other skill sets and I’m miserable doing anything else soooo…this is it.  It’s time I start acting like it again.

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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