2015 was quite the year. It was a year that will be burned in my memory as a year of tragedy and growth, self-evolution and heartache, a year that pushed and tested me, and the year that has prepped me for what's to come.
I am so so excited about 2016. I've been writing like crazy this year with over 30 songs in the bucket and I can't wait to start releasing some new music in the new year. It's been a massive year of growth for me musically and patience is something I have been forced to learn. I'm forever grateful for the people in my life who constantly push me and teach me that quality and time is the only way to go. I have poured my heart out over these songs and definitely feel a mix of excitement and terror to release such personal material, but it's honest, true, and I couldn't be happier with where my life is headed. So here it is, not in any particular order, the Top 10 Things I Learned in 2015!
10. Follow your dreams because life's too short to waste it on something that doesn't make you happy.
I've been a performer my entire life. I've sung in competitions since I was 6 years old, danced and sang in plays and musicals all throughout my school years, had a short lived stint with Word Records in Nashville right out of high school, appeared on American Idol, and have sung at more places and with more bands than I can count. But somewhere along the way I felt like I needed to do the "right" thing and get a "real" job. So I went to college after my record deal didn't work out, got my business degree and jumped into corporate. I'm grateful for my time as a marketer because it taught me so many things that have helped me in my own pursuits as an Independent Artist. But when you're not doing what you're meant to do, no amount of money or accolades can fill the giant gap in your soul that exists because you're not following your own path. I was miserable, depressed, and worthless in the end to my bosses because I wasn't happy with what I was doing with my life. It wasn't me, it was what I thought I was "suppose" to do. Fuck that! BE YOU! Live your life because guess what....it really does bring you happiness (see #7).
9. There will always be people who try to bring you down.
Whether it's high school, corporate america, or the middle aged douche bag that hates you because you remind him of his ex-girlfriend so he decides to try and sabotage you...you can't change how people view you. This has been a major lesson that I've learned and am still trying to soak in. All you can be is who you are, be kind, and the rest will fall to the waste side. Not everyone likes my voice or the fact that I'm about as shy and introverted as they come. I struggle in big crowds or to make small talk because I fumble over myself like a bumbling idiot. You can't win them all and the more I learn to let that go and be comfortable in my own skin, the happier and less stressful my life has become. So here's to 2016 and caring less about the negative things in my life!
8. Singing is hard.
This year has been REALLY hard on me vocally. I love to sing but there have been moments I wanted to just give it all up out of sheer frustration at how many vocal problems I've had over the last few years. Living in Texas and basically being allergic to the outside doesn't help when you have to perform 4-5 nights out of the week. I've been in-and-out of doctor's offices every other month, had scopes put up my nose and down my throat, been told I had nodules then didn't, had 4 sinus infections over the last 6 months, tonsillitis, laryngitis...you get the point. I've literally freaked myself out so much that I can't even sing by myself without fear of pulling or straining something in my throat. I'm constantly tense and have lost so much flexibility because I've mind fucked myself into believing I can't sing as good anymore. So last night in pure frustration I just started singing around the house, in the shower, at the top of my lungs, like I was a kid all over again. And I was happy to find out that I can actually still sing. Once I relaxed, got out of my own head and just enjoyed singing for the pure love of it, my voice started coming back. So here's to a new year, a new allergy regimen, and staying out of my own damn head!!
7. Being yourself actually works.
This has been one of the biggest life lessons I've had to learn and it's only taken me 33 years to get there. So often we follow the path someone else sets out for us. Whether it's a parent, a spouse, or our own damn selves, we can get so bogged down in expectation that we forget what we really want. Becoming me and being my true self has come at some pretty heavy costs and sacrifice (see #1) but it's a hard journey that I couldn't be happier to be on. Every moment of my life has brought me to this point so I don't regret anything, but now I can finally say that I'm living a life that's true to me. I'm following my passion, I'm making a good living as a singer, I'm writing and releasing my own music, and I'm meeting some pretty amazing people along the way. The road to really being you may not be the easiest but I believe with all my heart that it's the most fulfilling way to live.
6. There is life after 30.
Ageism in the music industry, especially for women, is something that's been on my mind ever since I turned 30. When you're in your 20's you feel invincible. You feel like you have the world at your feet and all the time to figure life out. Well, I lived my life, performed and entertained, got married, went to college, left music for a small time because I was too scared and insecure, tried out corporate, and before I knew it I was in my 30's. Now I'm wiser and more aware of myself than ever before. But now I'm suppose to quit? I'm too old for the industry? Washed up? Not sexy enough? I don't by it. I'm not doing this to get signed or be the most famous pop star on the planet. I sing and write because I have to. Because if I didn't I would be a miserable human being and my soul wouldn't be fed. Music is my outlet and an opportunity to share my guts with anyone who's interested.
Lady Gaga said it perfectly:
“My birthday is in March, so these are the last moments of my 20s. I already mourned that in a way, and now I’m really excited about showing girls, and even men, what it can mean to be a woman in her 30s. Why is it that we’re disposing of people once they pass that mark? It’s suddenly, ‘You’re an old woman.’ I’m not fucking old. I’m more sexual and powerful and intelligent and on my shit than I’ve ever been. I’ve come a long way through a lot of heartache and pain, but none of it made me damaged goods. It made me a fighter. I want to show women they don’t need to try to keep up with the 19-year-olds and the 21-year-olds in order to have a hit. Women in music, they feel like they need to fucking sell everything to be a star. It’s so sad. I want to explode as I go into my 30s."
5. Mexican food is still my favorite.
Dallas has some pretty amazing food and I have a hard time imagining living anywhere else just for the sheer fact that no place else has Tex-Mex, and people, I'm obsessed with Tex-Mex. So of course I had to give some love to my favorite cuisine and some of my favorite Mexican Food restaurants that I frequented this year!
4. Whiskey is delicious.
Vodka and I have decided to end our 12 year long love affair. I can still enjoy a tasty, vodka infused cocktail but my pallet has discovered the joy of whiskey. And yes, I have definitely jumped on board the Old Fashioned train. Here are a few places that serve my favorite Old Fashioned!
3. Work and collaborate with people better than you.
I've been writing songs since I was 12 years old but somewhere down the road I became really insecure about my abilities as a songwriter. So much so that I stopped doing it. I was convinced that I was just put on this earth to sing and leave the songwriting to someone else. Unfortunately, that wasn't very satisfying to me when I wanted to create something that's truly authentic and speaks to what's going on in my life.
Co-writing has been the best thing for me over the last few years. I started co-writing with Josh Goode and Bradley Prakope in 2012 and it completely changed how I viewed songwriting. Over the last year I've had the pleasure of working with Jay Stolar, Cari Cole, and Kristen Reilly. All of them are insanely talented artists and people that I greatly admire. They've taught me so much about songwriting and have pushed me to to be a better overall artist. When you work with people who are better than you, you have the opportunity to take your weaknesses and turn them into something you never thought possible. It's been a crazy journey and now I'm completely obsessed!! Over 30+ songs down and so many more to go!!
2. Fitness is actually a good thing.
I've never been an athletic person and working out was like pulling teeth for me. Running is the only thing I've clung to and even that became a chore. In June I played a private party at the opening of an Orangetheory Fitness here in Dallas and was really intrigued. After talking to the owners and learning more about the classes I decided to take a class and have been hooked ever since. I'm in the best shape of my life and continue to grow stronger. AND, I actually love the classes. Now if I can just put the chips down I might actually reach my fitness goals!
1. Divorce sucks.
The last few years have been difficult but nothing could prepare me for how hard this year has been. Divorce is awful. It's draining, emotional, defeating, leaves you feeling helpless, ashamed, depressed, etc etc. It's life changing. It was something I never expected to happen. I lost the person I thought I would be with forever. My home. My dogs. It's something I wish on nobody and has been the hardest thing I've ever gone through in my life. The pain is still there and it's something I work through every day, but my music, family and friends get me through it and I'm looking forward to a new year and a better me. Pain can bring great art and massive growth if you let it. So here's to growth, great art, and a positive look ahead!
I'm excited to be on this journey and to everyone who loves and supports me and my music, I can't say thank you enough. I wish you the happiest 2016 and can't wait to share so much more with you in the next year!!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
Photo Credit: Mark Goode