Category Archives: grow

Don’t look back? Ehhh…

It’s often said to not look back. The future is ahead, not behind you. You can’t move forward if you obsess over the past. Etc. Etc.

For me? For me, looking back often propels me even better towards the future. Which is what this last week somehow ended up being all about. Even though it wasn’t the plan going into it.

Somewhere over Texas
Somewhere over Texas

I’m currently in my way back to Nashville after a, frankly, amazing week in Texas. I had traveled with the goal of seeing my neice graduate 8th grade, checking in on family affected by the storms, see my husband play a show in Oklahoma, and visit The Association of Former Students at Texas A&M. If I got some relaxation in there, awesome. I was definitely at, “I need a vacation” point simply due to recent financial stress.

I made it to my niece’s graduating. I mused over how it was 20 years (probably to the day) that I myself graduated 8th grade. One of my classmates is junior high principal, which was cool to see but also admittedly a little weird. (I am not old enough for that, am I!?)

Go Jeni!
Go Jeni!

How far my town has come since my 8th grade graduation! New schools. State championships. Classmates now in the roll of teachers. Sometimes I marvel at it all.

Sometimes it’s good to look back and see progress as its come along.

I then traveled the four hours to see my husband play in Oklahoma. Like, old times, it was me and my parents, off to see this guy with crazy talent, and a heart of gold… Who stole mine a long time ago.

I’m pretty sure when a girl is willing to travel over 4 hours to see you for just a few hours of your time, she finds you pretty special. And if her parents tag along, they approve.

I'm his biggest fan.
I’m his biggest fan.

The artist has changed (a few times) since the last time I saw him play in Oklahoma. This was a different casino. And of course we are married now. I’m also no longer dazzled by the “famous” side of the life. If anything I’m cynical about it all. But I still love going to see my husband do his thing, and it’s more about supporting him than anything else.

Of all of this, however, perhaps the most powerful look back to go forward came when I visited Aggieland on Monday.

I know to some it may sound crazy, but I NEED to visit College Station periodically. Graduating from Texas A&M is one of my greatest accomplishments in life. Those years shaped me more than sometimes even I realize.

Once an Aggie, always an Aggie.


But it’s going to the Association that meant the most. To discover people who I so greatly respect also respect me means so much. I left my meetings that day feeling like I did when I walked across that stage with my diploma:

I can do anything I set my mind to. I have been set up for success. I simply need to reach out and take it.

The trip ended with a visit to the Bonfire Memorial. I’ve gone a couple times before, but it never fails to quiet my soul all over again. As I read about each of the 12 amazing souls lost 15 years ago, I hear them whispering words of encouragement. You can do anything. Live your life to its fullest. Be not afraid.

So yes, I did look back for awhile, and all it did was push me towards my future. My seat back and tray table are up and locked, ready for landing. Let’s do this.

Big city, small town

The April NaBloPoMo theme is “Grow.” Fitting for Spring. Fitting for Easter. Fitting all the way around.

Ironically, I’ve lately been pondering the fact that the two places I call home have the exact opposite in “growing pains.” One just refuses to grow. The other is growing way too fast.

I fear for my hometown in Texas. It’s just slowly dying. Industry that was there closed or left. (There is still a little industry happening there, but its no where near enough to allow the town to grow.) I suppose its to make up the lost revenue that property taxes are ridiculous. When my parents tell me what they pay for utilities, it boggles my mind. It’s no wonder people aren’t moving in and they are instead moving away.

Battle of the Bell

My hometown has a great school with a definite focus and support on sports. The band was a state-known band, and it could be again if the right changes are made. I am most definitely proud to be a Cameron Yoeman.

My hometown, though, it just needs to be open to growth. It needs more than Mexican food and hamburgers. It needs to find a positive attitude and embrace anyone wishing to open something new. A friend recently (like in the last week) opened a music store in the town square. I have zero doubt some people rolled their eyes and said, “Well there’s no place for that HERE.”  And I challenge them to instead say, “Excellent! It’s the only music store in a 60 mile radius! Let’s back this and get people from surrounding towns to come HERE to shop!”

My hometown doesn’t need to be a bustling metropolis. I would frown at that happening myself! But I wish I would go back and say, “Wow when did that open!” instead of, “Oh man, when did they close and tear that building down?” I have a real fear that in years to come my hometown will be essentially a footnote in a history book.

Milam County Courthouse

But speaking of history, my beloved adopted home of Nashville, TN breaks my heart just as much as my hometown does, but for the exact opposite reason.

When I moved to Music City in 2006, I fell madly in love with history in general. The city oozed a pride in its past that is impossible to find in any metro city. I found myself digging into the past in the public library. (I especially found myself in a love affair with Printer’s Alley in the heart of Nashville.) It was a growing city on the path of progress and growth, but it still had many old buildings oozed simple Southern Charm.

CMA Fest 2010

However, in the last five years, I’ve seen beautiful old buildings torn down and bright, shiny, new buildings of steel and glass go up in its place. Southern charm came to be replaced with metro sleek. And no matter how much people scream and yell that they want the progress to slow down just a little bit, developers from California, Florida, New York, Chicago, Atlanta care none. They snatch up buildings, kick out the tennants (some that were successful businesses for 20 years!) and put up something new. Apartments and condos mostly. Locals can no longer afford to enjoy the city they live in… the city they nurtured into the amazing place it came to be. Or that it was.

Don’t get me wrong. Nashville NEEDS to grow. Much like my hometown, you have to ebb and flow and grow. Heck, I’m myself working to open something new in Nashville! I’d be a total hypocrite if I throw a fit about new things and then open something new myself. I am NOT saying we can’t grow. We HAVE to grow.

Music City Center

But not at the expense of our history. NOT at the expense of losing the charm and small-town-feel Nashville always boasted while being a city. We can’t become so expensive that the blue collar workers who listen to country radio can’t afford to come visit us. Come see the Ryman. Come drive down the Natchez. Come tour the Country Music Hall of Fame and take in an Opry show.

I fear we will soon be “Atlanta North” and I sometimes wonder if I’ll even care to be here when that happens… and in the same breath, if my hometown will even still exist then, too.

Grow. You have to grow lest you whither up and die. But don’t grow faster that your roots can hold you.

38/47: Downtown lights