Happiness is letting go of what you assume your life is supposed to be like right now and sincerely appreciating it for everything that it is.
Angel Chernoff (partial quote)
I remember grappling with this the year my husband, Eric, had his appendix burst and hospitalized for 2 weeks; losing 25 pounds in 13 days. Driving him to the hospital with one hand so the other hand could hold his head up as he kept passing out.
Then one month later, getting hit by a truck while on his bicycle and forever ruining his foot, even after surgery.
All this only one year, almost to the day, after our wedding on January 8, 2011.
I thought….this isn’t right. This ISNT the way it was supposed to be. We were supposed to have a happy, fun-filled, easy going, get-to-know-each-other first few years. The hard stuff was supposed to come later. Much. Much. Later.
What is that old Yiddish proverb? We plan, God laughs?
Well, this isn’t a post so you can pity me. Or Eric. It’s a reflection on how God turned all things to our good. He didn’t make it easy for us. He let us walk the hard path. He let those things happen for his own understanding and asked us to be patient and to trust and to keep praying and to stay faithful. It wasn’t easy and it still isn’t easy.
→ Eric still has pains in his stomach from the scar tissue of all the drains put in and taken out.
→ Eric still has to stretch his foot in the shower every morning so he can walk without much of a limp; So he can chase his little boy or walk his dogs.
→ Eric is here and he is healthy.
So I am thankful. It took me a long time to let go of what could have been, what should have been. But who am I to say what should have been?
I’m not saying someone dying of cancer should be happy their life turned out the way it did. I’m not going to pretend I know how any one of your lives is right now or how to be happy within it. But for me? Happiness is letting go of what I thought our lives should’ve been and seeing it for what it has become.
Through the lows and through the highs, it has been the ride of a lifetime with so so so many hardships. But Eric and I are closer than I ever thought possible. God and I are closer than I ever thought possible. And for that? I will always be thankful.
FIVE Things I would tell myself to the pre-Nashville “Me”
1 -Get yourself connected immediately; Job, church, classes, book club, sports, etc. But try to pick one or two and get heavily involved
You will thank me! When you connect yourself to something, you feel a purpose. You also meet new people and start to make friends. You start to feel like you belong here. You breathe the air they breathe now. Get to know it. Get to know them. It can be unbelievably isolating otherwise!
2 – DATE NIGHTS (even if you’re not seeing someone. even if you’re unmarried. even if you can’t find a babysitter)
Try and go on a date night once a week if you can manage or afford it. If you can go at least two times a month, that will be so helpful. If you’re not married, take yourself out! Take a friend out! If you’re a single mom, this is hard, but try? to take your kiddo out. Either way, this ties into #3…
3 – Explore the city on a weekly basis
I cannot stress this enough. GET. TO. KNOW. YOUR. NEW. HOME. Use this as a date night adventure each week. Do it alone if your mate cannot join you. Take your kiddo(s), both human and furry alike. I will touch on this more in an upcoming blog about being a Nashville Mom but regardless if you have kids or not, this is crucial to feeling connected here.
That is what Nashville is all about – being connected. Both professionally and personally.
4 – Become involved in each others’ lives
This one seems like a no-brainer, right? Well it’s more complicated than you think. When they talk about gear, LISTEN. When they want to go to a show, even if it’s in a grungy place, if it’s important to them and you can do it (i.e you’re feeling well either mentally or physically or both), then please do yourselves a favor and go! Same goes for them. They need to go to that charity event. They need to go to your book signing. Whatever you invite them to, they need to try and go as well. This will greatly increase how connected you both feel!
5 – Don’t let them hit the ground running when you move. Well…not exactly
To me, this one is one of the most important ones of all. When you move here, you’re coming with a purpose. As a musician, you have to get connected.
- You have to pick up any and every gig you can.
- You have to attend any and every show, writers round, dinner invite, etc that you can attend.
→ It’s so very easy to move here, as a wife / husband / significant other of a musician, and say GO GET ‘EM! But you HAVE to set boundaries for yourselves! You have to create a plan of how much time will be spent doing that and also managing the other four above.
→ There’s nothing wrong with incorporating all of the above! If he (or she) is eager to just go go go when you move here (which they will be) then decide together to go to that show and make it a date night which needs to include something NOT career related.
→ Whether you’re married or not, when you move to Nashville with a musician, you become a Nashville Wife or Husband. You are married to the city if your partner is serious about a career here. And that needs to become a good thing! It took me a long time to understand it here, but I get it. And I love it.
If you ever need help with this, please comment below, share my blog, or write me a message. I’ll be glad to talk to anyone who is struggling or just needs to vent.
Love to you all!
Small things of today: That moment when you get a notification in German that someone liked or commented on your post and you have to open up Google’s translator in order to read it! MAN I love it!
Good luck with your hopes and dreams! – Brian Regan
I had the opportunity to go back to my hometown in Missouri this past weekend to visit family (hence the lack of posting. I know you missed me.)
Talking to all my friends and family got me thinking of things that add to our existence. I decided to put a twist to them.
This is purely satirical and not what I actually feel,
especially #8 as I, myself, am an introvert.
[But it sure was funny to write.]
- Don’t Date. The opposite sex is evil, pure evil. Dating is a void; it robs you of brain matter.
- Don’t get a job that enhances your creativity and desires. Those kind of jobs only bring you emptiness and feelings of inadequacy. Set the bar low.
- SPEND. ALL. YOUR. MONEY. NOW. Only fools waste their time saving money. It’s much simpler to just blow it all and hope you make more tomorrow.
- Go to college. Or Don’t. It’s not really your decision if you get “that job” anyways.
- Desire a purposeless life. Then you don’t have to blog about it in your 30’s
- Skip your 20’s. Those 10 years only exist to remind yourself of how much of a moron you were. Don’t be a moron. We’re over it.
- Binge-watch Netflix. Their life is more interesting anyways.
- Be an introvert. Don’t go out in public. People think you hate them (I mean, you screen their calls) and so no one likes you anyways (or so you believe.) All they want is to be around you. All you want is for them to disappear. No people = no drama. If you’re an extrovert? I’m sorry. Good luck with that.
- Don’t Inspire; Conspire. Worry about no one else. You are the top of the food chain now. You must survive. The status of your Facebook likes & Snapchat updates depend on it.
- Don’t read blogs. Better yet, don’t read period. Knowledge isn’t power. Knowledge is an open gate to endless suffering.
NOTE: for those that would like to read a fantastic article on introverts (my favorite one to date), click here
When my husband, Eric, and I moved to Nashville, it was clear why I was here:
→ To support the rising Nashville musician I knew he was going to become.
→ To finish school & get a job (as a stenographer, aka court reporter).
→ Take care of our two huskies
→ Make our house into a home
→ And to someday have a baby or two.
Then everything changed.
I was miserable.
Working towards a degree I truly hated. Lonely as I had no friends, no family, and my husband was working his tail off; out of town two days a week and in Nashville all the rest, making waves and changing tides.
Not to mention I was in a new land, unfamiliar with it’s heartbeat.
I was tired of being miserable. So I did it – I quit school. I started working at an animal shelter which quickly led me to become the Assistant Director, overseeing the animals being adopted.
I was ecstatic!
This was my dream job. Heck, some nights Eric had to call me and ask if I was ever coming home! I sure was walking on my own shadow.
Then in October of 2015, we made the decision to try for our current little boy and within a few weeks, we found out we were pregnant.
(well that escalated quickly)
My new little man was born in June of 2016. I had every intention of going back to work but one day, I off-handedly said something to Eric about staying at home and he surprised the daylights out of me!
“If you think we can afford it, I think you should do it.”
I. was. SHOCKED.
I thought it wasn’t possible…
I thought it would stress him out too much…
I thought there was no way my dream of not having to work could ever come true…
And it just did!
I was such a happy momma. I still am.
But there came a point (and I couldn’t exactly tell you when) but I felt like I was wasting my time.
Can you imagine how that must feel?
Can you imagine what it was like to admit it?
…that having a baby and feeling like staying at home, taking care of this sweet child and taking care of the house was a waste of time? Was a waste of existence?
That I was taking up space in this world of movers and shakers?
Looking at it from an outsider’s point of view, that has to be the saddest thing I’ve heard. Someone responsible for raising an innocent, someone responsible for making sure this child becomes someone respectful, kind, loving, and a warrior in a land of chaos, that someone should never feel like they are wasting their time. They shouldn’t feel like they have no purpose.
So why did I?
I was no longer walking on my own shadow. Actually, I don’t think I was even standing on it. My husband was amplifying his and at some point, I snuck behind him, lined myself up and matched my shadow to his. (All without ever having realized it happened.)
Well, he is bigger than me (lol), his life is broader than mine, so my shadow disappeared in his. I disappeared.
The reality? You only get one shadow.
→ But what is the point of that?
→ What does that mean?
→ And what is a shadow?
Well, It’s not just a dark area or shape produced by someone or something, standing in front of light. It’s also an action; to follow or observe closely or sometimes in secret. We say people live in other people’s shadow. Usually referring to the fact someone isn’t as great or powerful or worthy as someone else and so anything you do is just blocked out by the “greater person’s” shadow, the mark they “leave behind”.
People want to be seen, to not be hidden inside of someone else’s work. They want to be seen and to cast their own shadow.
Your shadow tells the world who you are and where you’ve been. So what was clear was that I would get nowhere living and hiding inside a shadow that was not my own.
Like Angela Cartwright said, “My shadow in my art is one way I trace who I was and where I have been. My shadow and I have been on a journey for quite a while now!”
So while you can stand IN someone’s shadow, you cannot stand ON their shadow. Nor would you want to. We need to find ourselves. We need to BE ourselves.
To start finding myself, my purpose and what life I’m supposed to be living, I need to remember to stand and walk on my own shadow and no one else’s. It’s a reminder of who I was and where I have been. It moves and grows and changes with me. So while I may be lost, my shadow is lost with me. And together, as many times before, we will find where we are next to travel.
Beware lest you lose the substance by grasping at the shadow – Aesop
Photo Cred: xperimentiv.wordpress.com
“Happiness is an inside job.” – unknown
For the past few days, I’ve been wandering; walking into familiar rooms and not understanding where I was. I was lost. I mean, sure, I know who I am…
– mother –
– musician’s wife –
– daughter –
– sister –
– friend –
But knowing that isn’t enough for me. I want to be a mother and do more. I want to be my husband’s wife and do more. (etc.)
I. WANT. TO. BE. MORE.
As I walked into my son’s room, picked him up out of his crib, I sighed the most peaceful sigh. It was a breath of freedom. I should have done this months ago. Is it perfect? (lol)… NO. Will it be the answer I’m seeking? I sure wish. But again, NO.
and so today? I began my journey. We began our journey.
I hope you sigh peacefully tonight.