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New Life, New Perspective, What a Journey!

I think the last time I created a blog post was about 10 years ago. It seems like a life time ago. I was in a toxic relationship, working full time as a server, while taking a few weeks off here and there to tour. The gigs I managed to get paid me in tips, or a meager portion of the door, split with two or three other bands. I barely made enough money to pay for gas.

Since my last blog post, my personal life has improved exponentially, and my music career has evolved. I've gained and lost a band, gone on tour solo, and with my duo, Melody Pond. I feel like the quality of my music has improved too. I think my music has always been, and continues to parallel my life. When I was first starting out, I didn't know who I was, or what kind of music I wanted to make. I was all over the place in my personal life, in my thoughts, and in my music.

Life is much different now. I'm happily married to an amazing artist, and the kindest, most thoughtful man who has given me what I was starting to think I'd never have--- a family. My son, Lewis, was born in February and is now eight and a half months old, which is crazy. The whole thing is crazy--- growing a human inside of me, bringing him into the world, and watching him grow. It's surreal but so real at the same time.

I continued to gig until I was 39 weeks pregnant. I looked ridiculous up there on stage. I looked like I was about to pop, and was told that over and over, by everyone. My mom came with me for the last couple of weeks, just in case "my water broke on stage." I knew my body would change, and that it's physically taxing to carry a child, but I didn't know just how much more difficult it would be to perform. Having a tiny human grow inside of you pushes all of your organs around; for me, most noticeably my bladder, and my lungs! I couldn't hit the notes I normally could, and I was constantly out of breath, which made it very hard to sing. I had to sit while I performed, and had to play my guitar on the side of my belly. And then there was the kicking. Lewis kicked the guitar as I played, and at the end, it got painful!

But, even while pregnant, I was able to win one of the monthly Ozark Regional Songwriter Association's showcases. That was a neat experience because the crowd are the judges and you get your comment cards back at the end. One of the comments was, "I can't believe you could belt out those notes while pregnant!" It made me feel like my hard work paid off in a way. Winning that night put me in running to perform again and win the whole shebang for the year. The prize was a recording at Haxton Road Studios in Bentonville, which I so needed!

My duo, Melody Pond, started to gain recognition also. The other half of the duo, Emily Rowland, has been singing with me since the beginning. She recently started writing her own songs, which we've been performing together along with mine. We got picked up by Bike Rack Records, who paid for another single at Haxton. The single, Down to the River, is on the Bike Rack Records Volume 1 compilation album. We're hoping great things will happen for all artists involved. We also had the honor of performing the song I wrote for the Song of Arkansas Contest, "Here in Arkansas," on the main stage at the Inaugural Arkansas Country Music Awards this past year.

We're hoping to continue recording with Haxton, and are currently trying to come up with a way to fund it. If you have any suggestions, please let us now!

I've also been working with the I'll Fly Away Foundation teaching elementary school kids to write songs. I love working with kids, so it's right up my alley! It's been an enlightening experience that has helped me grow as a songwriter as well. I commute to and from McDonald County Missouri, and during that time driving in the car, I've written some of my best songs. I don't think I'd be the songwriter I am now without this experience. This is my fourth year being involved.

Another wonderful organization I've had the pleasure of working with is the House of Songs. Based out of Austin, they just started a House here in the Ozarks. They bring in songwriters from all over the world to perform and do a residency. During their stay, they participate in cowriting sessions with each other, and with local artists. It's like a songwriter foreign exchange program. I've written with folks from Iceland, Australia, and Pakistan! I'm scheduling a trip to Austin and do the same there. TBA

I'm blessed to have been able to take this journey. I've had to take a break from touring, and I've cut my gigging down a bit, just to be able to spend time with my son. Though I've had some amazing opportunities lately, the transition into family life has been pretty rough. I've had a full-night's sleep maybe twice since Lewis was born, and learning to balance all of the facets of my life has been a challenge! Bringing a new person into the family definitely has it's monetary expenses too. So, I'm hoping that something blossoms soon, into a more sustainable future. *All fingers and toes crossed.

Thanks for catching up with me. I hope to blog once a week. We'll see if I have the time!

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