I am thankful

I have been thinking about my next blog post for days, and those thoughts have been all over the board. Mostly, I’ve thought a lot about the events I watched unfold in Ferguson, and then about the events going on around the country. My heart and head have been heavy with those thoughts and feelings.

Yesterday, I was up early and headed to a photoshoot. A photoshoot in Printer’s Alley, and once again my heart was left feeling very heavy. I know my days down in that Alley that I love so much are numbered.

Printer's Alley Demo Plus

I got up today — Thanksgiving day — feeling very tired. I’m weary from being so busy. I’m weary from so many emotions lately.

So tonight, I am sitting in my house on my couch all alone.  How depressing on Thanksgiving, right? It’s not, actually. Because in this quiet and time to myself, I have taken stock of my life. And now I sit here and instead, my heart and soul are peaceful. They are thankful.

We all have a choice to focus on negative versus positive. We have a CHOICE. And I choose to be positive.

I am thankful…

… to have work to do. I am home instead of in Texas with my family because I have work this weekend. My husband is in Arkansas, because he has work to do. We are thankful to have work, even if it takes us away from each other and others on this holiday.

… for opportunities ahead. As the bar closing is coming up, I could focus on my sadness that my job as a bartender is ending as well. Instead, I’m focused on the hope and excitement of opportunities ahead. Dreams I have been dreaming are about to be chased full speed. It’s scary. It’s exciting.

… to have a roof over my head. Not just any roof, but my roof. One we own. Well, okay, we aren’t just renting we are buying. We have made our first mortgage payment already, and it just made the whole thing even more real. I had the option to go and spend this day with friends. I even made cookies yesterday to take to dinner. But I got up today and I was TIRED. And deep down, I wanted to enjoy my home, because, frankly, I won’t been here much the next month because it will be SO busy.

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… for food to eat. My husband and I had our “Thanksgiving” dinner last night when I made a pot roast and all the sides. We sat at our kitchen table, and looked around us. We have a refrigerator and pantry full of food. I packed my husband a big care package of goodies for his trip this weekend. I am thankful I COULD do that. So many wonder where their next meal will come from. I wonder what I’m going to make. I am thankful.

… for my husband, who is my best friend and partner in all things. He loves me for all I am, including my faults. He says they’re cute. Whatever. But he keeps me sane. He drive me crazy. I love him with all of my heart, and I am forever grateful for the crazy events in life that brought us together. I’m thankful for the life we’ve built and continue to build. Meant to be? No doubt in my mind that we were meant to find each other. And I am thankful that we did.

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… for my many families.

I couldn’t find a better way to say it. My family is an amazing family. So full of love and support for each other. I regularly marvel at how lucky I am to have such an amazing support system in my family. Thanks to them, I feel like I can never fail, but even if I do they’d be there to pick me back up, dust me off and put me right back in the game. As a bonus,  I have so many friends who are like family, and I love them dearly. My life is brighter thanks to them. How can you not feel thankful when you’re surrounded by so much love and so many positive souls?

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… for emergency personnel. I am thankful for police and fire fighters. I am thankful for state troopers and sheriff departments. They put their lives on the line every single day to protect complete strangers. I am thankful for EMTs, doctors and nurses who get up every day not knowing what they’re going to encounter when they walk into work. I am thankful that they are ALL on the job and are there to call on in a moment of need.

… for freedom and the men and women who ensure we have it. Our military faces things I couldn’t even begin to imagine. I think I can handle a lot, but I will be the first to say I am not cut out for the military. I am so thankful to those who can and who are willing to serve.

… to live in a democratic society (even when I might not agree with the direction we go in). I may often think our freedoms are being endangered as more and more laws are written, deciding what we can or can’t do. But I am so thankful I live in a country where I can vote and have my voice heard on how I feel about those laws and changes.

… I am thankful for my education. I love being an Aggie, and I am thankful I got to attend that amazing university. Almost every day I find myself drawing from my years at A&M. It shaped me more than anyone knows. I am watching our game, and I can’t say I don’t care if we win or not (because I do) but for me the emotions I feel right now aren’t about football. Instead I am simply reminded that a big part of my heart will forever be in Aggieland. And for that I am thankful.

Association of Former Students

… for my health. For all my sinus issues, dental issues, headaches, backaches, etc. I am overall a healthy person. Same for my husband. And there’s not a day that goes by that I am not thankful that we are overall healthy.

… for love.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13: 4 – 13

… for God’s many gifts to us. From beautiful sunsets to birds in the sky.  For his unconditional love and forgiveness. For giving me a conscience and teaching me that pretty much all problems can ultimately be righted by applying the Golden Rule. For the times he’s told me “no” because its always been either “not right now” or “there’s something better on its way.”

I may be home alone on Thanksgiving, but my heart is so full. I am full of so much peace and joy…

God bless you all, and I know that I am thankful for YOU as well.

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Magical moments

Nashville

I really do love Nashville. And that love is precisely why I’ve shaken my fist at the changes coming to the city at such a fast pace. It’s a magical city, and it has been for years. It’s a city of dreamers. It’s a city where dreams come true. (It’s a city where dreams get squashed, too, I know.)

The magic of the city is not the lights. It’s not the neon. It’s not big skyscrapers. It’s not a prime-time drama. The magic is in its heart. The magic is in the moments that can occur on any given night, in any given location. The magic is in its history and those moments that have previously occurred and that make up the groundwork of the city.

The last week has been one big series of magical moments for me. Moments that have kept me from blogging lately! Many of the moments I’ll have to touch on at a later time, as they are tied to the closing of the bar.

My birthday was last week. I’m not a person who makes a huge deal out of their birthday. I had amazing birthdays growing up, and I have many cherished birthday memories.

This year, a concert just happened to land on my birthday. I bought tickets for me and my husband, and I told some friends about the show. Before I knew it, a group of almost 30 friends were all coming along! My husband said, “Look at all these people here for your birthday.” I responded, “Pffft. Whatever. They’re here for the show. It just happened to land on my birthday.”

Steve Wariner at Acme Feed & Seed

It was amazing, though. The music was… just… you can keep your lights, video boards, lasers and pyrotechnics. Give me a fantastic songwriters, with a smooth voice and who is certified as one of the very best guitar players. Its about the song and the music. It’s a magical moment.

And let’s face it, to be with so many dear friends on my birthday? Even if they WERE there for the concert, it felt good to see every single one of them.

Then, to get to say hello to the artist and get a, “Happy Birthday!” from them? This. This is what I mean by the magical moments that happen in Nashville.

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When my birthday came to an end, I didn’t feel a year older. I felt very, very lucky and thankful. It was a magical night… hopefully leading into an equally magical year ahead.

The first of many good-byes

Rascal Flatts at Fiddle & Steel

Back in July, I did a blog post about Printer’s Alley and what it’s meant to me over the last eight years. I also spoke of how it was in danger of being lost to a new hotel. We hoped they’d let the bar I call a second home stay and build around us.

What I have failed to write about since then (or I have but never finished any of them) is the fact that the fight was lost to “progress.” The bar is being booted out, and the hotel is gutting the building.

What many fail to realize is that that bar is like home to hundreds. For many, the “Fiddle Family” is the only family they really know. I compared our fight to the farmer trying to keep his homestead in the face of a new Wal-Mart. It’s his home. It’s his life. But progress and big money care not. They see only the bottom line. Ironically, I do understand that point of view, even if I don’t agree with it at all.

As word has gotten out, many of our regulars have made their way back… heartbroken. Many angry. All in disbelief on how this can happen.

Fiddle & Steel Guitar Bar is “The Home of Rascal Flatts.” I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve had to explain that to tourists. They were the Tuesday night house band at the Fiddle when they were discovered.

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When word came out the Fiddle & Steel may have to close its doors. Then the fact that it would be. The question we heard (and asked!) time and time again was, “What do the Flatts boys think?”

Last Thursday, thanks to Sirius XM Radio, Rascal Flatts did one last show on the stage at the Fiddle.  In the days leading up to the show, we fielded calls for tickets and the disappointed disapproval when we told callers it was all in Sirius XM’s hands. We learned NBC’s Today Show would be in attendance, and suddenly we realized our little home away from home bar was going to be on the national news.

“How exciting for you!” someone said when they found out I’d be working at the bar the night of the show. I think I pretty much just gave them a LOOK in response.

It was going to be busy. It was going to be… a hassle. Media. Security. Music fans. All good things, but also all things that I wasn’t particularly looking forward to as the event neared.

2014-11-06 17.02.51The night arrived. We got there and started setting up as best we could between media interviews. I overheard parts of an interview with the Flatts boys and Sirius radio, and I found myself smiling as they shared memories of their days as just a band at the bar.

It was around that time that the bittersweet nature of the night really hit me. So good to see them taking a moment to give pause and nod towards their past. It was sad that they were doing it because we would soon be closing.

As doors opened and fans entered, we went into work mode. Everyone was polite and friendly. My apprehension faded towards the fans in attendance. I was enjoying myself!

The band took the stage, and we were actually able to watch most of it. A ripple went through the crowd. Steven Tyler had showed up to see the show as well! I was floored. The night was quickly becoming nothing short of magical.

The show? Amazing. I’ve seen Rascal Flatts twice before. My first time to see them was (I think) my 23rd birthday when they were on a CMT tour. It was a huge show, and I remember they had a moment where they paid homage to Printer’s Alley and talked about the Fiddle & Steel. That night, I had no clue I’d some day work in that bar myself.

Fast forward to 2010, and the band came back to the bar for a radio show. It was great and I remember leaving more impressed with them than ever before. Then on Thursday, they once again impressed me. Big arena shows are exciting, but its easy to lose the heart of the artist or group. Give me a small setting any day.

They owned that stage Thursday. And for a moment, just a moment, you got a glimpse at the band pre-fame, even taking a request from bar owner, Alison.

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As the night drew to an end, and we started cleaning up to go home, I walked around feeling very thankful I got to be there. All my apprehension leading to the night felt silly, as it ended up being one of the most memorable nights I’ve ever had at the bar.

The next day, I laid in bed with my mind racing, trying to comprehend how I felt about the previous night. I knew many would feel like Rascal Flatts came and did the show for the publicity for themselves, and perhaps they did. But they also have helped us out by getting the word out that we would be closing. Our business has increased dramatically, and for that we are thankful.

But past that, when I watched the Today Show report yesterday, they brought me to tears. This show Thursday night was the first of many good-byes at the bar. They spoke about the rich history in the Alley, and it just suddenly brought it all home to me emotionally.

I’ve stayed so busy with things surrounding the bar closing that I figured it wouldn’t hit me until we closed the door for good. But instead, the band’s return for “one last show” finally brought it home for me. It’s really going to be over. So much history that will probably fade once the hotel comes into the Alley. And so much more history that will never get a chance to be written. It’s heartbreaking.

The wife of a touring musician tells it like she sees it…

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