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Grieving A Tough Year - Abbi Walker

The Importance Of Grieving A Tough Year

 

2016 was an absolute beast y’all. I don’t know why, I don’t understand all of how, but this last 12 months on this little spinning blue ball did a real number on me, and so many that I love. This last year held more loss, heartache, and tragedy than I have known in my entire life, and the struggle to hope in the face of such difficulties has been a true battle of the soul.

 

Our first and most natural response to such hardship is to slam the door shut on this hell of a year and sprint forward- trying to put as much distance between us and these experiences… hoping we can deal with the memories better than the actual experiences. But, if there’s anything I have learned this last year, it’s that you cannot over-value true, personal grief. It is perhaps the most powerful emotional process of the human experience, and you cannot control, nor rush it. The work of processing what has happened and is happening in your heart, mind, and body can test everything you are made of. It is intimately challenging and can cause you to feel deeply vulnerable, but it is monumentally important. If God went to all of the trouble to walk you through it, He must have had some very important things to speak to us.

 

You want to hear something funny? I started 2016 believing that this was my year- this was the year that I was going full force, all-in, and I even started a Video Blog called “Confessions Of A Dreamer”. I recorded ONE episode. The introduction. Hah! That’s it!  As soon as I put that out there, life took off- the first half of my year was spent on the road playing major stages all over Texas, buying my first home with my husband, and moving back to San Antonio. I thought this was really it- we were finally going to get all of our ducks in a row and take over the world.

 

But, In June, (6 months into 2016) two of the biggest things in my life came crashing down, and I never saw it coming.

Just about 2 months after we moved into our new home, in our hometown, with our new giant backyard-  we found out our beloved pup, Bella, got suddenly terribly sick with cancer and would not make it through the summer. I was beside myself. No matter where I was, how far I had to drive, how small the crowd was, Bella was always there- with a happy tail, kisses, and a snuggle. She was “home” to me, she was my kid. I always assumed she would help me learn how to be a mom to our first baby- but she left us long before that could happen. Ryan and I were beyond shocked- she was the most energetic, happy, healthy pup for all of her almost 8 years until this. She lived 10 weeks to the day that we found out she had cancer. It spread to her lungs and we had to do the hardest thing of all- we had to put her to sleep. We have died a thousand deaths in our hearts- it was just the worst. The ache, the hurt, and the grief started the day we learned she was sick- and still hasn’t ended.

 

In addition, this all began around the time I started to realize that the particular division of the music industry/genre I had invested the last 3 years in trying to win over, impress, and give me a chance - was never going to happen. It was basically caving in on itself already- a good old boys club, with no room or support for female artists. Sure, they’ll let us in the room- but the ceiling was so low for us, it was miserable. I had felt it for some time- but when one of the longest standing radio charts shut down, I couldn’t deny it any longer. This was not my future. I was downright MAD. I was mad that I couldn’t change it. I was mad that I had to accept it. I was mad that I knew it meant I had to do what I always knew I had to do but had been avoiding at all costs because it was going to be SO hard- go my own way. No systems, no path to follow- just going for it on my own. My heart was already exhausted and the thought of such an uphill battle made me weep.

 

I felt like the house was crumbling down on top of me, and I was in so much pain and disbelief that I could not move. So many times through my grieving process I would say to Ryan- “I feel like I am just hemorrhaging out. The hurt is so deep that I can’t do anything to stop it, I am just bleeding out and I can’t move.” If you know me, you know that I NEVER accept laying down to die as an option- but I honestly could not find any fight in me. For perhaps the first time in my life, I was truly beat. My heart was broken, my mind was mad, and my body was exhausted. I was about the farthest thing from a “Dreamer” or “Believer” that you could find.

 

I stumbled my way through the summer and ached and bled my way through the fall. I desperately clung for life to the truth that my God is for me, and that He does not waste my sorrows. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4) was a verse I would just repeat out loud and cry through. Praying that somehow He would meet me here in my broken heart, scattered dreams, and disillusioned mind. I don’t know all of why He took Bella from me, or why He let me invest 3 years in what feels like a wasted process, but I am beginning to see tiny sparkles of truth- diamonds, that have been the result of this fire.

 

This was my first full-on adult experience with grief, and good Lord- it is a force to be reckoned with. I was so completely ignorant on the topic that I had to google and read about grief and emotions these last 6 months, just to try to survive the daily crashes of emotions going on inside of me.

 

One of the most powerful things that I read was this: When properly felt and processed, grief leaves us with a greater capacity to love and to feel- not a smaller one. I wept over that truth more nights than I could count- I owed it to my sweet furry friend to love bigger and better because of her in my life.

 

I’m sure if you’re not an animal person this may sound all extremely ridiculous- she was just a dog, there are bigger things going on in the world than a pet, etc. Those are true- I know it. But losing my dog affected me in the deepest way- a way only God Himself knew could affect me, and it is a BIG deal in my life.

 

But here’s the point- this is about what has deeply affected YOU, the losses you have experienced. They are meant to be a BIG DEAL in your life, so let’s quit downplaying them. They’ll make themselves known one way or another. Often times we experience our feelings of loss in a more pronounced way over less important things than over the actual bigger ones that upset us!

 

For example- you learn your significant other has been cheating on you and you have to end the relationship. Surprisingly to yourself, you are rather calm and collected about ending it. You may even think, “Man, I am handling this pretty well! I really am better off for losing that guy!”

 

Then one random day, someone cuts you off in traffic and you absolutely lose.your.mind. All of a sudden, all of the feelings of being taken for granted, run over, not appreciated, and rejected come flooding over you and you are firing ALL of it, full force, at some spaced out teenage girl in the car in front of you who had nothing to do with your cheating boyfriend.

 

The funny thing is - your emotions don’t care that the spaced out teenage girl is not what really upset you this much- they are on a mission to be expressed, and so here they come, ready or not. And then you are left looking like a certifiable crazy person- panting from all of your screaming, baffled at how mad that made you, and asking yourself, “Now where did THAT come from?”

 

There is no way around it. You cannot ignore it, you cannot rush it, and you are fool to ever mock it. Grief is a big deal, because loss is a big deal.

 

Loss, death, hurt, rejection, tragedy- these are tremendously powerful points in our lives. We can try to run from them, or we can take a deep breath and walk through them now. They don’t go anywhere if we run from them- we will have to walk through them at some point. No matter which direction you run, you’ll be sucked back to that place like a magnet over and over again until you look it in the eye and feel your loss, walk through your grief. It will haunt you ruthlessly until you do. Why? Because it’s a big deal. Because some of the most precious things we will ever know on this earth as humans come out of grief and loss.

 

Loss hits all of us differently, and in many different ways. I have come to really believe that if we allow it (loss) to, through the process of grief, it will take us on an incredible journey and leave us with more, instead of leaving us with less.

 

So here is my challenge. Let us not race into 2017 having not fully grieved our losses, our pains, and our deaths in 2016. They are not wasted. They are not a mistake. They are designed for our good. What often looks like the meanness of God is more often His mercy at work in our lives- we just can’t see it yet.

 

It was God’s mercy that let things come crashing down in my idea of what my dream and career were to look like. He refused to let me continue to labor towards something that was not His absolute best. He protected me from my own stubborn will to not give up- and made it not an option. He removed the opportunity. It was His MERCY.


 

The Importance Of Grieving a Tough Year

 

Alright- so we’ve established that this grieving thing is extremely important, now let’s talk about HOW to do this. It’s rather simple, but will take your best courage. So chin up darlin’- you won’t be sorry.

 

Start with setting aside and protecting some time to reflect on this last year. Really walk through it, and feel it. I’d give yourself at least an hour, but depending on your year- you may need more or less.

 

As you reflect through all of the experiences of 2016, fully celebrate the joys, but when you find points of pain, regret, death, and loss take the time to do the following.

 

  1. Take the time to re-live it, feel it, and grieve it. You may be emotional, you may not- but be intentional about letting yourself go there.

 

  1. Acknowledge and respect the work you put in, honor the love you invested, cherish the things you have learned, and grieve what you have lost. Cry, yell, think…. and then when it comes time, release it. Release the loss- set down your pain, shake off your resentment, and pick up and cling to the love, the good things.

 

  1. Although you may not want to, and it may feel dishonest at first, but thank God for these tough experiences. Thank Him that He cares enough to walk you through them! Thank Him for the Promise that He never wastes your sorrows, that He knows every tear you've cried, and that He never left you alone. He’s not looking back in this with you for the first time- He has been there every step of the way. Be specific- especially with the hardest ones.

 

  1. This may sound funny- but it’s a very powerful step. Ask Jesus to BLESS, with all that is above and beyond, to BLESS the fruit of these painful experiences in your life. Pray that it will bear much, much incredible fruit in your life. Again, be specific, especially with the hardest experiences.

 

  1. Remember- God’s heart in this process is that we come out with a greater capacity to love and feel, NOT to close ourselves off from life! Ask Him to do that- to use this to make more room in your heart, in your life!

 

  1. Ask Him to heal any fractures from these experiences- parts of you or of your life that you have cut off, or separated from yourself. Ask Him to make you WHOLE- all parts of you.


 

Finally my friends, hold precious and dear these experience, these pains, these challenges, for it means you have LIVED.









 

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Confessions of A High Strung Woman

Confessions of A High Strung Woman

Lord have mercy. Try as I might, I have been “high strung” every day that I have been upon this earth. I simply care… really care… about EVERYTHING. Now, that can be a great thing, but it can also wear you out, as well as those around you, and get you into some trouble. I grew up as a Pastor’s daughter, and no one loves to throw around the “gentle and quiet spirit” Bible verses about real Godly women quite like the Baptists do. I heard that verse more than I ever wanted to… and it always seemed so condemning, so shaming for someone wired like me- confirming that even God Himself thought I was too much! Mercy, that’ll mess you up… that’ll mess you up real good.

Anyways- after a lot of good therapy and more than a few “Come to Jesus meetings” with the REAL Jesus- you know the One who created me in my Mother’s womb and knows every part of me, I have finally embraced my “High Strung Spiritedness”.Yes, it’s true, many people, especially the “churchies”, as I call them, are much more comfortable when I’m trying to force myself into the box of what they see as a “gentle and quiet spirit”, but the way I see it, they can just take that to the Good Lord Himself. He’s the one that gave me a wild heart, a passionate soul, and I believe He intends to use it to reflect some parts of Him that this world must need to see, by being 100%, genuine ME.

That being said - there are some things I have had to work on, and some skills I have had to learn in order to handle a long life filled with “high-strung-ed-ness”. It’s taken me a long time to figure some of this out, so if you’re a fellow high strung person, especially a lady, read on for a few things that you might find helpful. :) 

The first resource I found was actually several meditation podcasts. Lawd have mercy, yes- MEDITATIONS! Now, if you grew up in the church house like I did, your upbringing probably taught you to think that meditations were only done by the crazy monkey in The Lion King. It was just New Age nonsense straight from the Devil himself….. FALSE. 

I gotta tell you, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this meditation podcast. You can lay down, put a pillow over your eyes, and throw your headphones in as someone in a calm, soothing voice talks you through slowing your mind down, relaxing your body, and releasing fear and worry. I am not overselling this when I say- it changed my life, and I cannot over-recommend it. Becoming intentional about managing our emotions in a healthy way is some real work, especially for those of us who “feel” a great deal about everything, BUT it is SO good and so good for you. Heck, anyone who lives with you will be glad you’re doing it. It seems to improve everyone’s quality of life! ;) 

  • One of the best things I learned, is that it IS our responsibility to deal with what goes on inside of us, and we are held accountable for how we take it out on those OUTSIDE of us! We must be as diligent to work out our insides to be healthy, just as much as our outsides. 

These two meditation podcasts are my favorite:

The one by STIN https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/my-meditation-station/id123885923?mt=2

And Secondly http://www.themeditationpodcast.com/ which can also be found on iTunes by searching “The Meditation Podcast” 

  • Here’s an example of how relevant these little suckers are. Right before Christmas, Stin released a podcast specifically for preparing for seeing FAMILY over the Holidays. I mean- COME ON! How helpful is that? Seriously. There’s not a person I know who doesn’t get stressed out at the thought of family and the Holidays. This is some GOOOOOD stuff. Now, if you’re all perfectly balanced and never get worked up, stressed, fearful, or overwhelmed, this probably isn’t for you. Let’s be honest, I probably don’t want to talk to you either, but if you’re a hot mess express like me, then take heed friends. This is some gooooooooood stuff. 

My friends and family laughed at me when I first told them about it. Those people are now all subscribers to these podcasts. That, in my home, is what we call a BOOM.TOWN. 

insert Spiritual Note Here: Crazy thing about these so called “New Age” meditations, is that Jesus often meets me there. He is the one I can see and hear from when I am finally still and quiet enough to open my heart and mind! Fear not good church people! God is not mocked, lost, or defeated in this practice of emotional health! You often find Him in the most unexpected places… :) 

Another helpful thing is a new skill I have had to learn called HAVING BOUNDARIES. Good grief, if there’s one thing the South and the Bible Belt produce are over-worked, tired, run down women who think one must always be sweet and sacrificial… in order to “always” be sweet and serving, one can ever say “NO”. NEVAAAAH Dahlin. NEVAAAH.

Crazy thing is, that is guaranteed to produce obligated, resentful, and uninspired women…. You want a room full of those? Nope. That makes me nervous just to think about it. Better yet, you want one of those as a wife? I can tell you from personal experience, it ain’t pretty. I have been that wife. Poor Ryan- God bless him. Thank the Lord Almighty for the Boundaries books by Townsend! It has been such an incredible help in a very challenging journey for this people pleasing eldest preachers daughter! In one of the chapters in “Boundaries In Marriage”, I heard the verse of “Give with a cheerful heart”, taught in the most ENLIGHTENING way…

Instead of the dutiful message of “you better be happy when you give this!!!! or else!” that I had heard all those years in church, Townsend teaches this revolutionary simple principle…. 

If you can’t give with a cheerful heart, then do not give. 

For if you do, you are giving with strings tied to it, and it is not a gift indeed. Worse yet, if you give and will resent it later…. HERE’S THE CRAZY PART… it is not the fault of the person to whom you gave to or may have even asked you to give, it is actually on YOU! For it is our responsibility to guard our hearts, and if we give when we cannot give freely, happy in our hearts, then we alone are to blame for our resentment!!!! Holy Moly. 

That rocked my little church-going, VBS singing, pew sitting, obligatory missionary giving world. You mean, I am responsible to make sure and give only when I can give freely??? Oy. 

Now, I’m sure you’re asking yourself this… BUT WHAT ABOUT WHEN THEY ASK ME???? What about when the ladies ministry coordinator tells me that they desperately need someone to cook for the women’s retreat, and she believes God has called ME to do it? Alright now. Ya’ll take a deep breath, it’s about to get real. Here’s what you do. You do NOT immediately tell her yes. You take some time, look at your life and your current responsibilities, your family, and gauge how much you HONESTLY have to give, can give, and WANT to give. If you can’t give freely and without resentment, or even more you just don’t want to, you tell that sweet church lady, “Thank you so much for asking me to help, but I simply cannot do it. I am praying and trusting that the Lord will provide exactly what you need for this retreat.” And sistas- He is MORE than able to provide without manipulating anyone to do things out of guilt. He can create mountains out of NOTHING. He can handle the Women’s Retreat 2014 just fine. We just better give Him room to do so, and quit muddling it up with our compulsion to never say no. :) 

Finally, I have learned that there is unmatched worth for a high strung person, in a good, hard workout, and I believe it has to involve resistance training. I don’t mean a little walk around the block- I mean sweating like you mean it, like you need it. Because you DO need it. Before you go all crazy on me- here’s what I mean- NOT working out to lose weight, but working out to clear your mind and find your sanity. Working out is something no one can do for you, it’s not something you can buy, and it is something that you do for YOU. It’s inherently self serving and self healing. It is absolutely essential for a high strung woman in my opinion. I do not function well without it- my husband and family can vouch for this. 

Now I have always been somewhat of a runner, eh, reaaaalllyyyy more of a “jogger”. A couple of years ago I was extremely stressed, unhappy, and had gotten pretty chubby (if we’re honest here- stress will do that to a girl). I complained to my doctor that I ran/walked at least 10 miles a week (because of my crazy dog that would tear my house apart without it) and I still wasn’t feeling good or dropping the extra weight… After a few questions, she told me I HAD to incorporate resistance/weight training, that there was no way around it.

Well, that pissed me off-  I was already bulkier than I wanted to be, and I didn’t feel like having to work out that much harder… I mean, what woman wants to bulk up like some linebacker? I’m a ladaaaaay for crying out loud! Shouldn’t I just do jazzercise or something? (I can’t even help it- I am dying laughing as I type that…)

Well, I finally got so fed up that I broke down and bought the Chalean program from BeachBody.com . It is an at home resistance training DVD set that was supposed to take me through 90 days of getting LEAN. I bought a set of 5lb and 10lb weights and prepared myself- at least my body would be firm, even if it was going to be big. I might become the size of a female football player, but nothing was going to jiggle. ;) 

But as I kept with it, the craziest thing happened- I didn’t bulk up, and I didn’t turn into a man oozing with testosterone. I had to work hard, and I sweat A LOT. But I felt AMAZING, and I grew to LOVE the work and how I felt after it. More than I had ever experienced with “runners highs” and such- resistance training made me strong, got me out of my “I’m a victim of my own life mindset”, got me lean, and most of all- I FELT great mentally!!!!! I didn’t do the entire program in 90 days, I did the first two DVD’s for about a YEAR before I was ready to move into the hardest one… I paused the DVD when I couldn’t go on right away, I drank a bunch of water when I needed to, caught my breath, hell- I am sure I had more than one snack in the middle of those workouts too! 

The point is- if you’ve got a lot going on, you HAVE to have some place to work it out, and not just mentally, emotionally, or spiritually… Sweat does great things for the body and the soul. 

There are MANY other things that can be helpful for the high strung woman, but these three have made a major difference in my lie. I hope they’ll be helpful in some way.

It would be a great tragedy, if rather than learning how to care well for ourselves as passionate, high strung women, we choose to numb ourselves , become lost in obligation and perfectionism, or God forbid, let our emotions get out of health and hand, and wound those around us. 

A high strung woman who does not care well for herself, and refuses to see herself as responsible to manage what God has given her often explodes by showing too much “strength” in inappropriate places, and wounding many. If we want to get honest, she’s often seen as a “bitch”. I don’t mean to offend with that word, but that’s the best definition I can think of in terms of what the world sees. 

Just as any thing, any gift can be distorted and misused, so can strength in any man or woman. To whom much is given, much is required. 

If you’re a high strung woman, I pray you will begin to see your temperment as a gift, a wonderful thing that must be properly cared for and looked after, so that it may shine in all of the glory it was intended for. Shame no longer has a place here, nor condemnation. Be all of who God has called you to be- and be faithful to care well for what He has given you! 

Honest As I Can Be.

Abbi

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The Glories and Challenges of Being A Strong Woman- 3 Women Who Are Doing Big Things In A Brave Way

The Glories and Challenges of Being A Strong Woman- 3 Women Who Are Doing Big Things In A Brave Way

The last two weeks I have grinned more than once at random points in the day, thinking about the amazing women that I am so humbled and honored to call my friends- my dear, brave friends. These women are doing BIG things- stepping beyond their fears, breaking social expectations and norms, and going for their dreams… even better yet, they are each striving to live out their very clear CALLINGS, and it just makes me so damn proud, I can’t help but SMILE! Let me introduce you to just a few of them… 

 

 

 

One of my dearest is starting a cutting edge, brand new leadership program and organization that intensely and beautifully focuses on WOMEN- giving this generation of women and the ones to come, access to some of the best teaching, skills development, and thinking that will change our world, but best of all, it is delivered by one of the most amazing women that I know. She can teach and share because she is LIVING it out, every day. What a rare and precious thing she is, and what an even more rare and precious thing it is that she would be so compelled by her Maker to share and invest in the women of her own generation, the scariest of all scary things- HER PEERS. I have to tell you, one of the greatest parts of getting to walk through this process with her is seeing, first hand, the deep and precious work she and the Lord are doing inside her own heart and mind, to be able to step out, fearlessly, and inspire courage and bravery in women today! She is growing, stepping outside the box, being bigger than her fears, and literally going bigger than any that have gone before her in her family and community. She is building this out, working her tail off, WHILE still being a high school teacher! She’s a badass, and I am so proud of her!!!! More on her later- but be sure to look up Allison Lyles and Thriving Personal and Professional Development, and in the meantime, pray the Lord would guide, direct, bless, and protect this fierce hearted warrior for women!!! (The website will go live in December- but I will post more on this then!) 

 

 

 

One of my other dear friends is married to a very successful, very established sports executive, and in the world in which we live, many would say she’s “got it made”. She could literally just “go to lunch” for the rest of her life, if she chose to. But she hasn’t, because she has something that burns inside of her, and I’ve watched it marinate and come to life in a really special way in the last year. She has one of the most beautiful spirits, personalities, and creative minds that I have ever seen. I adore her, and I cannot tell you what a brave thing I believe it is for her to start a brand new company, work long hard hours, all to empower women and help them feel beautiful! She is also the mother of two adorable children- and she is an excellent wife and mother to her family! She has sort of taken me in, as her “little sister”, in many ways, and I am ever so grateful for her love and support and encouragement. The one and only, Mrs. Kathy Donovan has started 5th House Intimates- a private luxury lingerie store that focuses on helping women feel beautiful and reconnect with themselves as women. It is done in a beautiful, amazing way- and I am so insanely proud of her stepping out in a world where many women would choose not to engage the world, because they simply didn’t have to. But she knows she has something very beautiful and important to offer the world of women in her message and method, and she is daring greatly to get out there and share her gifts! They have JUST celebrated their grand opening-  ladies, please go check out her amazing online store athttp://shopfifthhouse.com/

 

 

 

Another of my most precious friends is the proud first time momma of an adorable 6 month old chunk of a boy. I have had the honor of getting to spend a lot of time with them lately, and Ya’ll. I’ve never seen anything like it. She mothers him with such JOY. JOY! In a world where you always seem to see mothers overwhelmed, stressed out, and yelling at their kids to “just shut up” in Wal-Mart, it is something absolutely BEAUTIFUL. I know that things can get stressy, and every woman can reach her end- but watching sweet Becca Hall be Guston’s mama has been good for my soul. She was MADE for this, and it is so obvious that God has called this woman to raise a young man who will one day make a great impact on his world, because she is a woman of excellence. I am so proud of her and so honored that she loves and supports me, even though we could literally not lead more different lives on a day to day basis. I love her to death and I am so grateful to call her my friend! God has given her so many talents and abilities, and right now she is the best darn mom a kid could ask for, and it is AMAZING to see. 

Each of these amazing women daily face the glories and challenges of being a strong woman- owning their strengths, beauties, giftings, and flaws moment by moment… trying to discern the balance of being strong and a woman. It’s not an easy task by any means- if you go too strong, the world sees you as a cold hearted witch, and if you are too soft, they see you as weak, as a victim. 

I have never been more aware of the glories and challenges of being a strong woman, than at this season in my life. I gotta tell ya, when you’re out there, chasing your dreams, working your tail end off for something you believe in, as a woman- it can get Western real fast. In my particular world, the music/entertainment industry, right now it is a BOYS CLUB. Texas Country, Nashville Country- it doesn’t matter, the men reign supreme on the radio, in concerts, and in sales! Sometimes I just want to put on a white suit like Christina Aguilera did at the Grammy’s and bust out in “It’s a Man’s World”… 

 

The crazy thing is, every show that I play, I see the women’s faces light up when they are addressed in the audience, when they are sung to, when they are sung about in an empowering way… Not just addressed as “hot little things” in some bad honky tonk song. Lord have mercy, does that get my blood boiling…. 

Ladies, we are hungry for a COMMUNITY. A community where we can love on and celebrate each other no matter where we are in life- single, married, childless, 5 kids, rich, poor, tired, well rested… Whatever. But it takes EFFORT. Our default seems to be to attack anything that’s different from us, and tell the few women that we do approve of to do the same… and that’s just ridiculous.

That’s what I love about these 3 women, they come from COMPLETELY different places than I do, and I adore each of them!!! One is a hard working single high school teacher and rocking towards her dream of influencing women in leadership and development, one is a mom of two and starting a very non-traditional business to empower women through a really, really intimidating topic for many women (as we all don’t look like Victoria’s Secret Models), and one is a fierce-hearted first time mom with a tenacity for excellence and truth, and a gifting to mother in a way that I don’t know that I’ve ever seen. They are all extremely different from each other as well, but each are working towards, and in the arena fighting for, the same thing- to contribute to the world around them, to offer their giftings and talents and skills to GIVE to the women and loved ones in their lives. 

So I’ll leave you with this- when you encounter a woman today in a very different place than you, just make eye contact with them and smile. It’s a very easy place to start, and you have no idea what it might mean to another female soul. My dearest friends, the women who have changed my life in HUGE ways, have actually never been women who were just like me- my age, my marital status, my zipcode, my tax bracket, my high school or college…. But they made me a better woman, because they were NOT exactly like me, and they taught me how to see the world, how to see other women, outside of my own limited perspective. Step out of your box today friends… there is an amazingly precious and rich life of friendship that awaits you, if you will open your heart, mind, and even prejudices. 

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The Original "Boss Ladies".

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The Original "Boss Ladies".

A year ago I was hurting, struggling to find community in the crazy world of Dallas. Felt like such a black sheep in this city for my dream of music. Finally, God had ME, heaven forbid, reach out to some amazing women that Allison and I knew, humble myself and ask them if they’d like to get together and read #DaringGreatly. Community did not come find me- I had to take steps to Cultivate it. TODAY, These are my girls- my beloved “Boss Ladies”, and I am ever so eternally grateful for them. We are all very different, but we are all going for our dreams, stepping into the arena, and daring greatly. If you want to do big things, face your fears, and give ‘em hell when the world says you can’t do it, you’re gonna need your posse. Not people criticizing you from their couch, but proven, true friends who are daily getting their tail ends kicked chasing their own dreams and fighting to be better, healthier, and show the world what God has put in their hearts every single day. If you don’t have people in your life like that, it’s time to get some. Step out. Quit waiting for the world, or worse yet, the church, to serve you. #brenebrown

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Daring Greatly sometimes means you just flat out get beat. And I hate losing.

Daring Greatly sometimes means you just flat out get beat. And I hate losing.

It has been almost 3 weeks since the North Texas State Finals at Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth for the Texaco Country Showdown, and I thought it was important to highlight not just the “rah-rahs” of the “Go Get ‘Em-Yeaaaah!!!” in a life aimed at daring greatly, but also the inevitable losses and failures that you experience more frequently in your life as a direct result of doing and trying MORE. 

I went into that competition at Billy Bob’s confident that I was in the right place, I was ready, and believing that God was going to honor my efforts to “dare greatly”, even though I hate competitions and things of this nature. Now, I’m not saying that He did not honor my efforts, or that that was not where I was supposed to be, but in the end, it did NOT in fact, result in the glorious victory I was hoping for. :) Hah! Now, I am extremely proud of the performance Ryan and I were able to give, simply because I did not throw up on the audience or wet my pants out of sheer fear and nervousness, but we also managed to have a good time and sounded pretty darn good if I do say so myself. 

We came in second place, and a very talented woman and her husband took first place to advance on to the regional finals in New Mexico. They were wonderful and they are extremely gifted- but that didn’t make me fell any better about losing. I am a rather competitive person, and although it doesn’t come up a lot in every day life (or so I think), I have unfortunately been known to lose my cool while playing a heated tennis match with my husband, and flat out throw my racket into the fence. I know- it is not pretty, and I am not proud of this. But I’m trying to be honest here.

Losing is bad enough, but then the old tapes started playing in my head again that had convinced me to sit on the bench of life for 30 years… “You should’ve known… Why would you put yourself out there like this? You just lost in front of EVERYONE!!! ….. If you were better you would’ve won…. Things like this are so subjective, you were a fool to think you could use them to help your career in any way… You were too much for the judges- they like pretty female songs, not ones with attitude!” Blah blah blah… And I have to tell you, those voices won out in my head for a good 3 days. The whole IDEA of daring greatlysounds awesome to those with passion… 

"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes up short again and again,

because there is no effort without error and shortcoming, but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause;

who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly…” T.R. 

Yes- that sounds fantastic, and passionate, and the kind of things that legacies are built on… but that whole striving valiantly, erring, coming up short again and again…. Let me tell ya, It can sting your soul like a giant yellow jacket sting on your upper lip, zings like you would not believe, the first few times. Sweet Mercy. Your face swells up, you have a hard time talking, and you’re embarrassed for people to see your wound! 

It’s not that I thought erring and falling short wasn’t an option, but it’s amazing how convincing those old gremlin voices and tapes are when you’re still smarting from a sting to your psyche. Gratefully, I have some of the most incredible women that walk this planet, that I get to call my friends. My phone was immediately filled with true, loving, and faith filled text messages that reminded me that I have nothing to be ashamed of, that they see and applaud my courage, and they are cheering me on to be the very best that I can be… all the while, knowing that they too have smacked their faces in the mud a time or two. These women get to speak into my life, because they are IN the arena with me- fighting their own battles and fighting for me when I need them, and vice versa.

Lesson I learned early on- Never let someone sitting on the couch criticize and discourage your efforts. The women that rally me on and I them are there because we have earned that place in each other’s lives, and you must fight to protect your heart when the battle raging is fierce and deeply internal. But you must also fight to be known and to share with the right people… I believe it is a lifelong pursuit of health. 

So, as I tried to gather my shame, frustration, and pure irritation at losing so publicly, I began a page in my journal that simply said… “THINGS I CAN LEARN FROM THIS”…. It took me a while, but it is now filled with insight, some wisdom, and truth that I simply would not have had, had I sat on the bench and not competed. In fact, I felt like there was so much I learned that I could use it and do much better, that I re-entered the Texaco Country Showdown in South Texas, and just won a local division in Uvalde yesterday. I’m headed BACK to state finals, for Central Texas this time, on September 28th in Burnet, Texas. :) I may not win at this level, but I did really want a chance to apply what I had learned in the first round!!! 

I drew a lot of encouragement and strength from this truth that truly successful and healthy people EXPECT difficulties, hardships, and challenges.. if it was easy, everyone would do it. 

So here’s to the stings, bruises, heartbreaks, cuts, disappointments and broken bones of fighting in that arena, as well as those precious, brave ones we love who are in the arena with us. Life is too short to stay knocked down- dare greatly, give ‘em hell, and know when to give up for the day and just have a margarita. :) 

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My Biggest Fear: Singing Competitions

Welp. Big Girl Pants Round 2- My Biggest Fear: Singing Competitions.

Sweet Mercy. Today is the North State Finals for the Texaco Country Showdown at Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth, which is, mind you, the LARGEST honky tonk in the world…. I can’t help but laugh, it’s just so funny! 

My life has taken a pretty big change when you go from playing First Baptist Church Lawn, Texas to the world’s biggest honky tonk AT 10:30 on a Friday night!!! Bahahah! But I know it’s exactly where I am supposed to be and wouldn’t change a thing. 

The last 6 weeks have been a special kind of crazy and wonderful, and God is ever so faithful. A few months ago, I was kicking around the idea of entering a couple of country artist singing contests to try and get some more exposure, and of course, learn as much as I could about this new genre I’m in. I had pretty much made up my mind that I wouldn’t do it- because, you see, I HATE, and I mean LOATHE singing contests, and competitions. I can’t watch the auditions for American Idol and sometimes even the Voice because it makes me so nervous and uncomfortable. Contests, especially when it comes to subjective topics like art, music, and “talent” are just that- subjective to EACH person. Wonderful music, art, and songwriting existed long before there was a televised panel of judges telling us what to like and what to spurn. Many would say that art was much better back then- but this is the age we live in, and as an artist trying to break into a very tough industry, you simply have to face them and know they are a reality in your career today. But I don’t like them, remember? 

I suppose my real dislike for competitions, audition opportunities, or contests is that you must subject yourself as a competitor, to an environment where you can be declared a “loser” OR, the ONE winner with such public finality. My little codependent heart skips a beat and I throw up a little in my mouth at the thought of that. I have always opted to fly under the radar in my career, terrified of being so labeled, so dismissed as an artist, and even as a person. Sure, the possibility exists in the universe that I could win, but let’s be honest. This lady prepares herself for the absolute WORST and lives accordingly. It’s a sad way to live, and good grief, if God Almighty hasn’t been working on me about it! 

Alright, enter my sweet friend Jennifer Moran from Friendswood, Texas. Ya’ll- this sister has a kind of disposition and heart that can get ANYTHING done, and somehow makes you believe you can do the same. She has been a huge supporter of my music and one afternoon I got a text from her asking if I’d considered the Texaco Country Showdown, and that I should really go for it. I hemmed and hawed my way via text through explaining I thought I probably wouldn’t, that it was probably a waste of time… And then, JMo (as we call her) proceeded to “preach” to me via text, about stepping out, faith, not being afraid to fail, go out trying, believing God for big things… I had been totally called out for trying to continue to “hide” and fly under the radar, by a woman with faith that could move mountains. Suffice it to say, she (and God) won, and I entered the Texaco Country Showdown. 

The day came for the local level of competition, and to be sure, I had to do a lot of work in my heart…. But that morning, I wrote this in my journal, and it has been a truth I have come back to many, many times since then- including TODAY.

 

 

 

 

When we got to the showcase, a miracle happened…. I’m not kidding. As the contest started and went on, I sat there with a giant smile on my face during every performance, GRINNING so big because there were so many great performers and I was just so honored to get to be a part of the contest, that it overflowed into my face and I couldnt’ stop it. (They probably thought I was high or something!) That’s right, I actually ENJOYED the contest- if that’s not the Lord working in my heart, I don’t know what is. I didn’t care about winning or losing, I was just so grateful to get to be there with the other artists! 

Well low and behold, I won the local division and I am headed to the next round of competition- TODAY. The next round of this contest, the North State Finals will pull from all of North Texas and their local winners. There are a lot of perks to winning this thing if you can- you get to go to the Regional competition in October, you win $1000, and you’re one step closer to the chance to play the Ryman in Nashville, TN and compete for $100,000. 

But- for me, today is simply about being courageous, because that is what I am learning to value most. Success can never be found by creating a life of protecting yourself from failure- that’s actually the best way to guarantee you don’t ever succeed at or win anything. I don’t want to be that kind of person that hides and only lives to reduce risk… That’s sad and really lame. No way to live. 

Rather, success, in my book these days, is going after it with courage and a full heart, DARING GREATLY - and even if I fail, face plant in the mud, or win last place, I will do so while trying my tail off- and I believe that makes me a badass. :)  That’s enough for me, and is something I can be proud of. No more flying under the radar, from shame and fear.

Lookout world. I just might be the greatest public disaster you’ve ever seen, but you’re gonna know who I am, and that I’m gonna die trying to chase these dreams God has put in my heart. So make some room- there’s a wild eyed Texas woman with big dreams on the loose. 

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Straight Fell On My Face Today In Public. Ate Dirt. But Felt Like A Champ.

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Straight Fell On My Face Today In Public. Ate Dirt. But Felt Like A Champ.

Straight Fell On My Face Today In Public. Ate Dirt. But Felt Like A Champ.

Today, I ate some serious dirt. 

It is springtime in Texas, and today was a great day for a run with my wild, wonderful, terrible pup. It was cloudy, breezy, and it felt amazing outside. It had been a while since I had a good, long run, so I strapped on her harness, double tied my running shoes and we set out for our 3.5 mile loop. About halfway in, just as I was hitting my stride, we had just crossed a busy street into a neighborhood, and Bella (the terrible pup) locked in on some birds up ahead. She dug in her heels and flew towards them- dragging me behind her. Things escalated quickly as I wasn’t watching my feet and trying to regain control of my wild huntress dog…. while running to keep up with her, I caught the lip of a broken part of the sidewalk that sent me flying into the air and headed towards the concrete. 

It was like I was in slow motion- I took at least 5 giant steps trying to regain control, but I was at such a speed and such a trajectory, that I fell HARD. I mean- it looked like I was trying to dive for home base. I belly slid half on the sidewalk and half in the grass- spraying leaves up around my face, like I was a kid on a slip and slide. It’s been a while since I’ve had a scraped up elbow and rocks in my hand- but this lady went down hard, and the pain was all too familiar. Stunned at what had just happened, I slowly got up, checked out out my wounds, tried to dust myself off, and finally gave Bella a “Seriously dog- are you trying to kill me?”.  She just wiggled and wagged her happy tail. 

 

 

As we started back down the sidewalk, I immediately thought a few things that sort of surprised me. The first was, “Well I don’t get hurt like this when I sit on the couch. Hah! At least these were wounds of effort!” The second was, “At least I fell while RUNNING- not walking!!!” That was a good feeling. Although I have tripped many a time just while walking, it felt somewhat satisfying to know that I at least fell while running. I felt it made me a little tougher - even though I had just eaten serious dirt, and had been a sidewalk freak show by one of the busiest streets in my neighborhood. 

 

 

 

 I caught my breath, had a little laugh, and started jogging again. As I looked at my bloody hand, I couldn’t help but think of one of my all time favorite quotes from Teddy Roosevelt. 

 

 

 

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.  - Theodore Roosevelt

 

 

 

There are a million things that we are all scared to do, many times because we are terrified of failing and being humiliated by that failure. We can hear the voices of those around us that will say “What were you thinking?” or “Just who do you think you are?” Gosh- if those are the voices of our friends in our heads- we need NEW friends. Those kind of people are not real friends- they do not love you well and urge you to try, live, or to DARE GREATLY. But often, this is who we choose to listen to: the critic who sits on the couch, NOT seeking out fellow arena fighters who have blood on their clothes, dirt on their faces, and who can offer some actual encouragement WITH the authority to give any advice. If you find yourself afraid to step out because of what others will say- it might be time to reevaluate your inner circle of friends. If you want to be brave and take risks- surround yourself with brave people. Courage is contagious, just like fear is! 

 

 

 

In business, there is a lot of talk of “failing forward fast”. For most of us, the idea of failure is associated with great shame, embarrassment, and is something we have been taught to avoid like the Black Plague. But the real TRUTH is that failure is NECESSARY for success. You cannot have one without the other!  Failure creates real life experiences- experiences that offer lessons, lessons that provide true understanding and knowledge,  Knowledge is POWER.!!!!You cannot have growth, success, and even power if you will not risk failure to LEARN. If you want to learn and succeed faster, then you must up your tolerance for failure and GET OUT THERE! I can remember a day when this concept really hit me and I looked at my best friend and said “Okay- so if we really want to do this… If we really want to do these things in a big way, then we should be getting our behinds kicked every day, right? KICKED. And we should celebrate getting our behinds kicked- because that means we are DOING, We are LIVING, and we are that much closer to really succeeding in these big dreams!!!”  

 

 

 

I lived a great deal of my life not daring greatly, but trying to “stay clean”- thinking that was what God wanted from me this side of heaven. That the goal was to live this life as pure, and as “cleanly” as possible- to get to heaven with the least blemishes, the least amount of sin possible. I remember saying that to my mentor and one of my dearest friends, Lida Smith, a few years ago. Lida smiled at me, laughed under her breath, and said "That’s funny. I always thought the goal of this life was to experience the most Grace." 

 

 

 

Being an independent artist, just like being an entrepreneur, is not for the faint of heart. Fighting to have a voice amongst major labels, billions of dollars of marketing support, and an entire industry of people dedicated to make one artist a”success” can honestly send this fearful heart into panic and hiding many days. But what I know is that to live a life on the couch makes me cranky, miserable, and a terrible wife and person. I was made for the battle, I am made better by the battle, and I cannot achieve my dreams without the battle. I will get in that arena and fight with all that I am, and I will cling to the promise that “Greater Is HE That is IN me, than he that is in the world! “

Great lives of faith, creativity, love, and inspiration are not lived from sitting on a couch, or hiding behind a computer screen. They are forged in the arena- with sweat on our brows, and fire in our hearts! Let us fail hard and let us fail fast my dear friends- that we might learn and live and dare greatly…. There is only one way to greatness, and there are NO short cuts! 

FOR SOME KICK-BUTT MUSIC FOR MY LADIES CHECK OUTwww.reverbnation.com/abbiwalker for “I’m Grown”!!!! :)

"It is a scary thing to chase your dream, and many will throw dirt at you from their ruts, but let it never deter nor sway you. Steady on." 

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The Story Behind "I'm Grown", & The Case for Healthy, Strong Women

I, Sara Abigail Walker Petkoff, have loved music for as long as I can possibly remember. It stirs something deep inside of me that nothing else does. Music makes me feel fully alive, deeply Spiritual, and as if God Himself is in the room. Apparently, even in the womb, my mom said that when the music would get started at church, I would start doing somersaults. I just can’t help it.

As a little girl, I didn’t carry around a baby doll and play “mommy” with my sister and friends. Instead,  I always had a whisk clenched in my chubby little hand that was my “microphone” so I could play “singer”. 

I realize this makes me “abnormal” at best, compared to other women, especially at my age, but I’m afraid it is just who I am. Even as a young child, I loved to sing my heart out and re-write songs according to my toddler’s artistic interpretation. (I did a mean cover and re-write of “Away In The Manger” on the stairs of my Mimi’s house while she accompanied me from the piano as a 3 year old. We have it on tape unfortunately- Hah!)

The dream of singing my heart out and connecting with people in song has haunted me my entire life- always seeming out of reach, and reserved for those with jaw dropping talent. However, after a great deal of emotional, spiritual, and personal work, today, TODAY I am ready to walk out the gift God has given me both in dream and talent. 

I finally know who I am, what I want to say, and how I want to say it. 

Look- I am a strong, sassy, Southern-Loving, and strong-willed woman who has some things to say! You can take them or leave them,  but we are going to have some fun while I say them! Hah!

My new music is a celebration of real women - who are neither feminists, nor victims. It is a humorous exclamation of women who have a mind of their own, love hard, and who are able to enjoy life by being able to laugh at themselves. 

 

NOW, FOR THE STORY BEHIND THE SONG I'M GROWN:

"I’m Grown" was actually written well over 3 whole years ago. Craziness. But, I had a hard time getting people on board with it for some reason. :)  It was honestly written out of general frustration with the world’s notion of love, as the radio was filled with starry-eyed, knight-in-shining-armor-demanding, "come save me from my disappointment of men" tunes by various female artists. Now, I’m sorry, but - No.Ma’am. Though they are sweet songs for young girls, they are not the anthems of true women, and I was tired of hearing the whining that followed after no one was able to save them. 

I sort of fantasized about what my conversation would be with the kind of “loves” that these girls kept singing about and I started laughing and writing. As if the male star from one of T-Swift’s music videos got lost in my world and he was frantically trying to save me….Poor kid, he just didn’t know I did NOT want nor need saving. Because, my dear friends, I’ve worked hard my whole life to be able to say- “I’m Grown”. You can read the conversation in my head via my lyrics here…

I’m not one for fairytales. I’m not some princess who’s in need of being rescued. I’m not some damsel in distress, and all your fussing now is causing me such stress.

Baby won’t you stop trying to rescue me, I’m fine on my own. I didn’t ask you to come save me, I can handle it, I’m grown. Well I know it makes you feel so strong to find someone who needs your love. Well move on, well move on, well move on… I didn’t call for no hero.

I don’t mean to hurt your pride. I just get tired of all these boys who try to fly. They scoop you up, then they drop you down. Not strong enough, tumble to the ground. I worked so hard to be this strong, try to save me, then you’ve got me wrong! 

Baby won’t you stop trying to rescue me, I’m fine on my own. I didn’t ask you to come save me, I can handle it, I’m grown. Well I know it makes you feel so strong to find someone who needs your love. Well move on, well move on, well move on… I didn’t call for no hero.

Baby won’t you stop, baby won’t you stop, baby won’t you stop trying to rescue me (repeat).

I just wanna, I just wanna love you.

I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna owe you.

YOU CAN SEE/HEAR THE VIDEO HERE——- https://vimeo.com/56615539

Now- hear me out. I am not a man - hater, nor am I a “women don’t need men” kind of crazy. I AM however a passionate propionate of women owning their lives, and spending their days working hard to be better, get more emotionally healthy, and living a life they are proud of and satisfied by without a man. THEN when a man comes into your life, he doesn’t “complete you” because you aren’t whole, he is a blessing to you and something you treasure, rather than cling to for life. This is a much more honorable and fulfilling pursuit than daydreaming of a shirtless Channing Tatum riding up on a horse to save you from your debt, unhealth, and disappointment in life. 

If you want a good man, then ladies, work your tail off at being someone that would be compatible with a person so great. You can’t “earn” a husband, but you can certainly scare good men away by constantly throwing them your “rescue me” life rafts, foolishly thinking a healthy relationship can be borne out of desperation. 

Obviously this whole song was written “tongue in cheek”, and I hope you all are able to understand the humor and heart behind it. I was raised by one of the strongest men on this earth, and instead of teaching me to be dependent on him and helpless, he worked hard to teach my sister and I how to be strong. I am eternally grateful to him for it.  I learned how to start a fire by myself, shoot a gun, play classical piano, mow the lawn, play dress up, and bake cookies ALL in my childhood. That doesn’t make me a feminist, it makes me strong, proud, and healthy, and in my opinion, that’s something to write a damn good song about.  :) 

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I won 2nd Place at the TRCOA Singer/Songwriter Contest and Here's What All Went Down....

I won 2nd Place at the TRCOA Singer/Songwriter Contest and Here's What All Went Down....

Glory Be! (As my old family friend Charlsie would say)

One week ago tonight, I played a showcase in Austin, Texas for The Recording Conservatory of Austin’s Singer/Songwriter contest. It was an amazing opportunity, but I have to be honest- I am SOOOO glad it is OVAH!!! Mercy! It was my first live show in almost 4 years!!!! So, I was naturally very composed and confident. Bahahahah. I was a nervous, sweaty mess. What else would you expect?

I went into the showcase in 4th place, with the least number of votes, but, I also had just enough votes to get to play live for some pretty legit judges and compete for final places and prizes. Since I had the lowest numbers, I got to play first. I was the the “opener”, if you will, and I was glad about it. I figured there would be less of a crowd, but as it turned out, I had one of the biggest collective crowds of the night!

HIGHLIGHT RUNDOWN

  • I got a chance to play ALL of my new original material- the songs from my new EP, and thereby, gave Austin, America a little Sassafras and Soul! ;) 
  • I wasn’t sure how they would take it, but they seemed to enjoy it. In fact at one point, when I mentioned how nervous and shaky I was between songs, a twangy male voice from the audience yelled "You’re doin just fine baby! Doin just FINE!" Thank you Jesus for that encouragement, it made me laugh and I needed it! Heck, Ryan needed it!
  • My oh-so-gracious husband, who is normally a super corporate VP, agreed to play guitar for me. I knew he was a little nervous, but was beside myself with laughter when I looked over and saw him (who hasn’t had a drink in FOREVER) taking a shot of whiskey right before we went on! Poor kid, I drug him into this, but that was HILARIOUS.
  • I promptly announced once I took the stage that I was extremely nervous, that this was my first show in a very long time, and that I planned on ignoring them most of the time! Instead, I was going to pretend Ryan and I were just running through songs at home on our couch, but I hoped they enjoyed them. We all laughed and we started into Southern Soul….
  • SETLIST: Southern Soul, Crazy Train, Run,Run,Baby,Baby, I’m Grown, and Wilderness.
  • After the set, I had a chance to meet privately with the 3 grammy nominated judges for some feedback on my songs and performance who included:
  • CJ Eiriksson - a Grammy nominated Music Producer, Engineer and Mixer. His extensive discography includes albums by U2, Matchbox Twenty, Jack’s Mannequin, The Rocket Summer, Phish, LIVE, Incubus, Hoobastank, and many more.
    Matt Noveskey - bassist for established alternative rock act Blue October, also a record producer involved in artist development and management. Matt has helped guide the early careers of songwriters and musicians that have gone on to get signed to both major and indie record labels.
    Dwight Baker - a Grammy nominated Music Producer,Engineer,Mixer and studio owner. Dwight as a writer for Sony/ATV wrote cuts for Kelly Clarkson, David Archuleta, American Bang, Alpha Rev, and many more. As a producer and engineer he has worked with artists like Brandi Carlile, Blue October, and Alpha Rev.
  • They were extremely encouraging about the showcase, all agreed that the general direction of “Country” would be a good place for me to land (confirmation), and that “my pitch was ridiculous”. As a vocalist, that’s one of the highest compliments you can get. :)
  • I ENDED UP WINNING 2ND PLACE! :) Yaaaay! The extremely talented Alyse Black took first, and it was an honor to get to meet her. We are hoping to do a show together in ATX soon. 

FINALLY- I was able to start some pretty cool conversations with one of the judges, and Lord willing, will be getting to work with him in some capacity this next year.

It was a great experience and I would not have gotten a chance to do it if not for YOU ALL!!!! From the bottom of my heart, thank you to every single person who voted, shared, told others to vote, and was loving and supportive!!!! THANK YOU!!! I have a video update I will add in just a minute, but, again from the bottom of my heart- thank you!

This is a brand new season for me. A time when I have to put on big girl pants and face my fears. Ya’lls support and encouragement has meant the world to me! So, lookout world, this sassy southern lady is about to get her start!!!! :)

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May I introduce you to my biggest Musical Crush of all time... The Cadillac Black.

May I introduce you to my biggest Musical Crush of all time... The Cadillac Black.

My Dear Southern Loving Friends.

About two months ago I was introduced, via my brother-in-law, to a southern rock band that has rocked my sweet little southern world. They are 3 long-haired, rocking hillbillies out of Nashville called "The Cadillac Black".

Their music is a sweet kick in the mouth with the perfect mix of rock, southern soul, and 100% SWAG.

I don’t even know how it happened, but from the very first note of the first song “I’m Southern” - it was like musical cocaine in my veins. This girl was hooked- like a fat kid on cake. The rocker in me came flying out of the closet, and she has refused to go back in. I guess that would explain my recent obsession with black leather jackets and neon clothing….

Something broke loose in this crazy southern girl’s heart when I heard this music! Look.Out.Ya’ll. I might not ever be the same.

I was beyond pumped when I heard they were coming to the North Texas Fair in Denton, and so I gleefully drug a couple of friends out to see them with me. Now, how do I say this, without over-doing it…..

They.were.GLORIOUS. For real.

I was so excited to be there that I was giddy, and my girl Allison kept laughing at me, said she’d never seen me like this. They opened up for the Josh Abbott Band, and the crowd was mostly UNT college students. In my opinion they were far from appropriately appreciated by this young crowd, so I just sang along extra loud, casting condescending “Ugh. you college students don’t even know how great these guys are” snarky kind of looks out of the corners of my eyes as I danced along. (Also funny because I don’t dance.) I was on Cloud 9 when we drove the full hour back to Dallas that night!

A few weeks later, I found out they were playing the next day in Denton again, and this time Ryan got to come. Ya’ll. These guys are AMAZING live- just 3 guys- electric lead, steel guitar (played in a way I hadn’t heard before), and a drummer - that sound like one of the biggest rock bands you’ve ever heard!!! If Ryan didn’t have to be the financially responsible adult in our marriage, he would trade in his sport coat for long hair and a guitar with that band in a hot minute!!! That’s part of why I love him.

Now, for most of my life, I have prided myself on not being one of those annoying “groupies”- those starry eyed, shamelessly-giggly girls when a rockstar or celebrity is around. But I’m afraid that arrogant streak came to a crashing, embarrassing halt on the that night.

Holy Moses.

I lost my MIND when Ryan and I had the chance to visit with them after their set. Seriously ya’ll, I was such.a.nerd. So awkward, so nervous, so NOT cool. I just kept thinking how much cooler they were than me and I just didn’t want to say anything to reveal my absolute dorkdom. Ryan, however, chatted it up and was their best friend before we left. Of course. The man can make anyone his buddy as long as there’s good music and beer in the mix. He gave me all kinds of hell on the way home for being such a groupie, and I let him. It was true, and I actually didn’t care at all. Please note: part of my added awkwardness was my daydreaming while talking with them- As I am prepping to cut and release a new EP in the Southern Soul stylings, I just kept daydreaming about writing with them, having them play on my record, and one day touring with them. So we can all go ahead and start lighting some candles and praying for THAT. Hah!

Anyways, they are GREAT guys, have a great sense of humor, immensely talented, and they will be HUGE before it’s all over. I intend to do my part to make that happen. :) 

Here’s the bottom line: If you like southern rock, Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top, or just good music- go check them out RIGHT NOW!!! Heck, just buy the record. I did, and I CAN’T STOP PLAYING IT. LOUD.

Their official website is - www.thecadillacblack.com

You can find their title track “I’m Southern” here…..http://soundcloud.com/thecadillacblack/im-southern

And you can buy the whole record here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/the-cadillac-black/id470285298

Their first radio single is “Get Your Buzz On”- so listen for it on country radio!

Let me just close with this- if you’re someone who appreciates the Southern Way and attitude, you’ll really dig their style, AND their lryics… I’ll leave you with the the chorus from their title track…. and a video at the end that will make you laugh.

"I’m Southern and it ain’t my fault. My daddy came from Louisiana, I like the hot sauce. Southern and it ain’t my fault. Yeah this is how we roll, baby this is how we walk…."

WATCH THIS. It will make you laugh.

http://youtu.be/UK8LtGAEvaU

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