Friday, September 14, 2012

Late night thoughts...

Well, it's been a while since I've last blogged and I've been laying here WIDE awake. I can't fall asleep. I am not interested in a single one of the things I have recorded on the DVR. I don't feel like reading. I know I should be sleeping but I just can't. So here I am.

I'm still encouraged by the people I know and people I don't know who have reached out to me regarding my anxiety and depression. Think about it. There are millions of blogs out there and somehow, some way, these people from all over the country have found MINE. And read it. That's pretty spectacular. I've enjoyed connecting with new people and encouraging those who have the same struggles that I am facing. I've learned a lot since being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and depression. Some of it I have learned from hours of research online, some from doctors and some from other people. As an anxious person, the most tempting thing to do is to go online and read all the horror stories from people. Let me tell you..DO NOT DO THIS. Seriously. It's bad. After all, you are an individual and your life and your story are unique to you, right? The thing about anxiety and depression is that it isn't like going to the doctor and them telling you that you have the flu. Ok, take some Advil, drink a lot of fluids and get rest..in a week, you'll be back to new. You carry on your life and probably don't think twice about having the flu. Nope. It isn't like that at all. It's something that is a struggle every since day and quite frankly it can suck all the motivation out of you.

After being home since March and seeing a therapist once a week...and being on COUNTLESS medications which have caused me to have crazy side effects..I finally decided to put my foot down and say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. Something wasn't clicking for me. I was sick of my therapist. Each week it was the same thing..."Give it time...you'll eventually feel like yourself again...how was your week? Well, try to go out at least once a week and let me know how it goes..again, just give it time." Ummmmm???? Sorry, that did not help me. No offense to the therapist, I'm sure she's great for some people but it just wasn't connecting with me. I still felt awful and more hopeless than ever before. I had already decided that this was my life. One big failure. One big disappointment to my family. All my dreams..shattered. Then I started to think about all the people out there who must have gotten help SOMEHOW. I mean, it seems like everyone I know is on antidepressants and they seem to function and carry on a normal life without much disruption. Now, there are all different levels of anxiety and depression and I'm labeled on the very extreme end of both. Thankfully, I have a sweet friend in Nashville that experiences the same horrible thoughts and issues I do and she has been there to support me. We have bounced ideas off one another and she really encouraged me to dig deeper into research. In other words, I had to stop reading what other anxious people were saying because what works for them may not work for me.

Long story short, I prayed and prayed about it. I was willing to put in the work if God would just lead me in the direction that I needed to go to get help. I ended up talking to an anxiety disorder specialist at Harvard who told me that I was on the wrong treatment plan and needed to be doing cognitive behavioral therapy. The "talk" therapy I was doing was not going to help me overcome my fears. From there, I found a psychologist who specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy...AND he took my insurance. I was happy about this but then I thought about how long it takes to get in and see someone as a new patient. I called on Friday and they called me on Monday to tell me that they had a last minute cancellation and asked if I could come in that afternoon. YES. I was there.

It took about ten minutes for this psychologist to read me like the back of his hand. I had a feeling that he was going to challenge me and push me. Tough love. I think that's what I need. He gave me some homework assignments. I decided I was going to really push myself to do things that made me uncomfortable. So I did.

I saw him again a few days ago and am convinced at this point that I made the right choice by changing therapists and taking control of my problems.

I believe that this was all a direct answer to my prayers. If you only knew how many times I have prayed for God to take this pain away from me...but I was missing something very important. It is up to me to do the work. Nobody can fix me but myself. Yes, I can get help from professionals but if I don't do my part, there is no way I can ever fully recover. So, here I am two weeks into this new therapy and I've done more in the past two weeks than I have done in the past two months. I would say that is an improvement and I'm feeling a lot more hopeful.

So, what I'm saying to all you people who read my blog that are anxious or depressed is DON'T GIVE UP. Maybe you'll have to change doctors and/or therapist a few times, try different medications, push yourself, make yourself uncomfortable, make life changes that scare you...but DON'T GIVE UP. We all have different lives with different paths. Find what works for you and remember that there is a God who loves you and wants you to live the life that He has planned for you!

xoxo
C

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I wish I could rewind..

My anxiety has been unbearable to deal with the past few weeks. I started a new medication and all that's happened is more horrible side effects. It's so frustrating to have to wait weeks to see if it's going to work for you or not. You basically have to endure weeks of headaches, upset stomach, MORE anxiety, and the list goes on...just to see if this medication MAY work. So far, my whole year has been BLAH. I feel like I've hit a brick wall with my therapist and I'm so sick of putting my body through all the medication changes. I'm mentally and physically exhausted...and I don't even do anything! I try to force myself to get out but all it does it stress me out and make me more anxious. I don't even want to see or talk to any of my friends. The sad part is, I know there are so many people out there like me who feel as hopeless as I do.

I wish I could rewind a few years...maybe make some changes and avoid things/people/situations that have played a role in my condition. Maybe that wouldn't have made much of a difference at all. Maybe I would still be where I am not either way.

I know God has a plan for me and a purpose for me and my life. When I prayed to God that I wanted to help people, I never imagined that it would be through my own suffering. I will say though that I have a compassion for people that I never had before I went through my own trials. I truly feel other people's sadness as if it were my own. I used to be scared of homeless people on the streets that seemed "crazy"..now I realize that these are just hurt, scared and lonely people who aren't as blessed as I am...they can't seek help for their mental health because they don't have the resources. So no matter how bad I feel, I always try to remind myself that there are much worse things that I could be going through and I'm blessed to know that God loves me and that my family does too.

I'm trying to keep the faith but it's HARD at times like these....

Hope all my bloggers are doing better than I am!

xo
C

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

This is the last time I'm going to address this Chick-Fil-A situation...

Ok, I wasn't going to get into this but I have to. I realize that this may open a can of worms, get me unfollowed and unfriended but oh well. Those of you who know me know that I love the gay community. I have had gay friends for as long as I can remember and some of my closest friends are gay. They are wonderful people who I love dearly. Also, if you know me, you know that I'm also a Christian.

So..this whole Chick-Fil-A thing has really got me upset. Why? Because it is displaying the UGLIEST sides of both the gay community and the Christian community. As a Christian, I believe that my God loves EVERYONE and I am to do the same. It makes me sad that "Christians" would condemn or judge other people. We all sin, just differently. What I'm saying is don't throw bricks if you live in a glass house. How many of you Christians who are being so hateful and judgmental engage in premarital sex? Lie? Cheat? Steal? Put other things above God? It really gets you thinking, doesn't it? I'm including myself in this as well because I'm not perfect.

And the gay community...I understand that it isn't fair that you are denied certain rights because of your sexual orientation. As I've stated before, I don't think marriage is for everyone so it kind of sucks for those of us who want to stay single that we don't get the same rights as those who are married with children. I get it. At the same time, if you want tolerance, you have to respect others. I actually had someone suggest that I was homophobic because I'm going to continue to eat at Chick-Fil-A. I can't even take that seriously because those who know me, should know my heart. Also, having people dress in drag and protest in front of Chick-Fil-A is beyond ridiculous. Out of all my gay friends, I don't know of a single one of them who dresses in drag. This is only feeding into the stereotypical idea society has created of the gay community. This doesn't help you move forward.

Think of it this way...if we were to boycott every company that we didn't agree with, we wouldn't shop anywhere or buy anything. If we were to abandon every friend we had a difference with, we would be alone.

All I know is that it isn't my place to judge, it's my place to love others as God has loved me and I will continue to do so. We all have our own convictions and beliefs but if you are going to share them, do so respectfully. None of us are better than anyone else and we don't have the right to push our beliefs on anyone else or judge them.

So, go out there and love people. Commit a random act of kindness. Reach out to someone in need. If you truly want to make a difference in this big, scary, crazy world...spread LOVE.

That is all.

C

how I deal with my anxiety...

I think the past year of my life can be summed up in one word..STUCK. I have always had a plan for my life. I always had career goals and dreams. Unfortunately, life threw me a few curve balls and now I'm back home (somewhere I never thought I'd be) and I feel like I'm in a rut. It's really hard having your dreams crushed and having to start over. I get so frustrated daily with the fact that I deal with anxiety and depression. It keeps me from doing the things that I used to do and from being the person that I want to be. Every day seems to be a struggle. Yes, I do have days that are better than others. However, if you are like me and have a serious problem with anxiety...everything seems so hard. Getting out of bed, seeing your friends, going out, dating, meeting new people, being away from your "safe" people/places, working...it's just hard. Since my initial blog about my struggles, I've had a lot of people reach out to me. I must admit, it was scary for me to put my struggles out there for the world to see. I didn't know how people were going to react. I had no idea that so many people were dealing with the same thing that I was. I mean, I knew all the statistics about anxiety being the most common mental illness in the US..BUT, I had no idea how many people that I knew who struggled. I guess they hide it better than me or maybe they just function better than I do. I've had people ask me what helps me get through it so I decided to share. Keep in mind, not every strategy works for every person. You really have to try different things and find out what works best for you. That's the thing with anxiety and depression...each individual is different so they require different treatments.

First of all, if you're struggling..SEEK HELP. There is no shame in admitting you need professional help for this. I didn't want to ask for help because I felt embarrassed and ashamed. I thought that I should be able to control my anxiety but I couldn't. I let it go until I finally had a complete melt down. Don't wait for that to happen before seeking help. It's brave to face your problems head on...even when it seems like an impossible thing to do. Also, don't be afraid to take medication if it will help you. I was dead set on avoiding any kind of medication. Finally I realized that I NEEDED medication. This isn't the case for everyone but it is for me. A year later, I'm still trying to find my perfect "cocktail" suited to my needs but I can't imagine making any progress without it. Also, medication should not be your only form of help. Therapy and implementing the things you learn in therapy are essential. I'd also suggest getting a physical from a doctor that you trust. That way you can rule out any other medical conditions. For me, I worry about my health a lot because anxiety has given me physical problems that I thought could be something more serious. It will put your mind as ease if you worry about your health.

One thing that has been really important for me is to tap into my spiritual side. I spent a lot of time being mad and upset that God would let this happen to me. I didn't understand and I still don't...but now I look at things differently. Instead of asking why...I have come to accept that it is what it is. This is a part of my life and I have to learn how to manage it. Asking why isn't going to "cure" me or make me feel any better...it just further upsets me and prevents me from progressing. I've been a Christian for many years but when I was in college and living in Nashville, I kind of ignored this part of my life. In fact, I didn't take many things too seriously besides finding a job. That's all I cared about and all I focused on. Well, I learned my lesson the hard way. When we put things above God, we will pay the price. One way or another, God is going to get your attention and it may be a slap in the face to get you back to reality. I often wonder if I let all the glitz and glamour of the music industry become my idol instead of God and that is why I am in the place I'm at now. It's one thing to say you are a Christian but it is another to walk the walk. I'm far from perfect and I make mistakes and sin just like everyone else. However, I have found that starting and ending my day reading a daily devotional seems to really help me. Simply knowing that God has a plan for my life and that I am not alone comforts me.

Also, self help books and researching anxiety has helped a lot. If you can help yourself, stay away from reading the horror stories people post online about medications that they have taken. Most people will post what doesn't work for them and are less likely to post what has worked for them. Remember, everyone is different and everyone reacts differently to medication. What could be a miracle pill for one person could be a nightmare for another. You have to trust your doctor and realize that it takes a lot of trial and error to figure out what is going to work for you. I have the bad habit of looking into every side effect of every drug that I take. While it can be informative, if you struggle with anxiety it will only make you feel more anxious. I have read a LOT and I mean a LOT of books on anxiety. The best one that I've found has been From Panic to Power by Lucinda Bassett. In fact, I'm probably going to read it again very soon. I liked it because it wasn't one of those books that just tells you what anxiety is and how it feels to have it...if you suffer from anxiety you already know these things. Lucinda actually experienced it herself and regained control of her life. It's very encouraging and it was very relatable for me.

Meditation always seemed weird to me but it really does help. It takes practice but it's all about being able to control your breathing and learning to calm yourself down. I have found a lot of really good guided meditations online that have been extremely helpful. Sometimes I just need a minute to myself and to be able to clear my mind...it works for me.

Deep breathing is part of meditation and I love it. I can almost feel myself releasing tension when I practice my deep breathing exercises. Again, this takes practice and I recommend doing it even if you feel good. That way, you'll be prepared in case you have an anxiety attack and need to use this tool. If you only use it when you're anxious, it won't be easy.

Something that has been especially difficult for me is positive self talk. I've never been that positive when it came to myself so this has been hard to tackle...however, it is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY TO OVERCOME THE NEGATIVE THOUGHTS IN YOUR MIND AND TURN THEM INTO POSITIVE THOUGHTS. You can't live a positive life with a negative mind. If you took the time to write down every thought you had each day, you'd be amazed. Try to see yourself the way that others see you instead of how you see yourself. After all, if you were that bad you wouldn't have all these amazing friends who support you, right? I try to talk to myself like I would talk to my best friend if she was going through the same thing. You have to be kind to yourself.

Also, remember that recovery is like a ladder. Sometimes you'll go up three steps and then back one. There is no magic pill or cure for anxiety or depression. You will likely struggle with it your whole life, even if you do have some periods of time that are easier than others. I think once you accept that and realize it is going to be work to get to where you need to be, you'll be making your way up that ladder.

I know it's hard...trust me, I know. I've been trying to push myself lately to do things that don't feel safe to me and it hasn't particularly been comfortable for me...BUT..I know that I have to do it. I have to push forward. I can't stay this way forever. It's no way to live your life.

So, all my friends that are struggling out there...what helps you?

Hopefully this helps all the people who have messaged me!

Thanks for reading!

xo
C


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The "frenemy"...and why you shouldn't have them anymore!

I've always been a people pleaser and I've always wanted to be friends with everyone and just fit in. I'm not exactly sure where this desire came from or why I've always been this way, I just am. Although I've been through my own personal hell this past year, I've also learned a lot. A lot about myself...a lot about other people and the way we all interact. Now, if you're a guy, you may not be familiar with this term...however, if you're a chick you know this term ALL TOO WELL..the FRENEMY...the lovely combination of a friend and an enemy. If you're honest with yourself you can think of at least one person in your life that falls into this category. You know, the "friend" who loves to see you fail, always has to one up you, gives you backhanded compliments..but she's the first to write "happy birthday! love you girl!" on your Facebook page and you must have a least a dozen photos from last weekends adventures. My question is WHY?! 

Ladies, why do we do this to each other? Why do we allow people to treat us this way and yet still call them a friend? From as far back as I can remember, I have had these kind of girls in my life. I remember in high school hanging out with a group of girls that I didn't even like but worshiped at the same time. Does that make sense? No, not really to me either. The fact is, I just wanted their acceptance and I was as sweet as pie to them yet they always made me feel like I wasn't good enough. I just wanted to be liked and popular and I was willing to be walked all over to get that acceptance. Now, I'm not saying that ALL of my girlfriends in high school were like this. In fact, some of them I'm still very close with today and I consider them more like family than friends....BUT, the sad fact is that 95% of the girls I spent my time trying to impress are people that I would likely avoid at all costs if I saw them out today. Of course, we all attended each others birthday parties, group outings, ate lunch together..but when it came down to it...there was no real substance there. I couldn't be myself and honestly had no idea who I was at that point because I was trying to be so many things to fit others expectations of me. I thought these girls were my friends but really they were frenemies. They never encouraged me or made me feel good about myself. Your true friends should never make you feel that way. One instance that I will NEVER forget happened my senior year. At my high school, our class pageants were a BIG deal. I mean, EVERYONE entered them. A lot of time and money went into getting the best casual and formal wear for these events. I would never in a million years think of entering something like this on my own but all my "friends" were doing it and my mom wasn't going to let me off the hook. So, when I went to public school my sophomore year, I entered. I didn't take it too seriously and made it to the finals but didn't place. Same thing happened my junior year. I didn't take it personally and wasn't shocked that I never won. I thought all my friends were way prettier than me and that one of them would surely win...and they did both years. I will say that there were a lot of pretty girls in my class each year and the competition was always pretty fierce. I was actually so self conscious that I was embarrassed about entering because I thought everyone would wonder why I thought I had a chance. I was always really happy for the girls that won and told them congratulations. I didn't worry too much about it, I just knew that my mom enjoyed having me participate and it was something fun to do with my friends. 

Something happened my senior year though. I started to realize that I had only a few more months left in high school and then I'd be embarking on my own journey. Yes, some of my "friends" were going to the same college as me, but I'd be meeting a lot of other people. For some reason though, I decided that this year I was going to go out with a bang. I really wanted to win the class pageant and be Miss Senior. This year, I was going to actually go shopping for an amazing gown and pick out a classy casual wear outfit. I didn't have to hold myself back because I thought that the other girls were "more deserving" than I was. I even had people help me with my walk and my stage presentation. I didn't care who had a problem with it..I was in it to win it! Of course, the insecure part of me was scared to death that it would be a repeat of the past two years but I was confident in my preparation and my clothes. Well, guess what? I did end up winning and it was pretty awesome. However, it was short lived. The girls who were my "friends"...who had won or done better than me in previous years..the ones who I praised and congratulated in previous years...were AWFUL to me. Not a SINGLE one of them congratulated me and you could see it across their faces that they were just as shocked as I was. At that point, I realized that I never had to talk to any of them ever again after I walked across the stage and got my diploma. It was actually pretty freeing. I look back and regret all the wasted time and energy I spent trying to make these girls my friends. It just wasn't worth it.

When I went to college, I found a few self confidence that I had never had. I loved it. I met so many people who liked me for who I was and not who I was or wasn't in high school. I made friendships that were real and lasting. I felt secure and happy with myself.

However, when I went to Nashville, I went back to my old people pleasing ways. After all, I was all alone in a city and in an industry that I knew nothing about. Therefore, I became "friends" with a few girls who really were the true definition of a frenemy...but I put up with it because I wanted to fit in with a certain crowd. In fact, I was willing to put my self esteem and my value in the hands of these girls who truly were terrible people. I'd like to say that I figured it out fast and got the heck out of there, but I didn't. One relationship in particular was so toxic that I still get upset when I think about all the horrible things this person who claimed to be one of my "best friends" has said and done to me. Honestly, I put up with a lot of it because some of these people are truly crazy and I was afraid of what they would do if I were to stand up to them. Don't ever let anyone make you feel less than what you are...don't let people intimidate you. HURT PEOPLE, HURT PEOPLE.

My point in all of this is...you're an adult now and you don't have to be around people who don't lift you up. You don't need these hateful people filling your head with negative ideas....you don't have to put up with the frenemy anymore!!! There are plenty of people out there who will try to poison your mind with their unkind remarks and opinions of you...you don't need people who are supposed to be on your side, stabbing you in the back. You're better than that. Be kind to yourself. Be smart enough to recognize these people and get them out of your life. They are toxic. There are people out there who will love you for you and celebrate your successes with you. I'm blessed to have found that in my best friends Danelle, Ann Marie, Sara, Lauren & Amanda. There are girls out there who will encourage you to be the best version of yourself and will be there to help you get there. So, find those people and be the friend to them that you'd want them to be to you. 

Sisters...we gotta unite and encourage each other....tell the mean girls in your life to take a hike and surround yourself with friends who you want to be like....remember...birds of a feather flock together. If you don't believe that...you better look around and guess again.

Until next time,
-C

Friday, July 20, 2012

the pressure to get married and finding closure in past relationships...

I guess I'm not the typical Southern belle because I just don't believe in "THE ONE"...You know, the ONE that most typical girls are searching for from the time they are...about five?! Yep, that sounds about right. Sorry, I just don't buy into the hype. I thought I did a one point (you'll read about that later)...Now, I know what some of you are thinking..oh, she's bitter, heartbroken, blah blah blah. Hey, maybe I am..I'll admit, I've been burned but I've also never been one of those girls who were naming their kids in the fifth grade.

Let's go back a few years (ok..let's go back several years..ahhhh..) to high school where dating was cool and fun. I say this because when you're in high school, you don't care if this is someone you could spend FOREVER with...it's easy...oh, he's cute and I like hanging out with him, so we should date, right?! If it doesn't work out, you break up and probably end up dating one of their friends and they date yours..well, if you're from a small town like me it's likely to happen. No pressure and usually low drama (except for a few people in the past that I have dated that probably could have benefited from some time in a padded room...) moving along...you get what I'm saying..it's like as soon as girls enter college in the South all they think about is their MRS. DEGREE. It truly blows my mind. All they can think about is walking down the aisle instead of walking across the stage to get that diploma. Don't get me wrong, as you can see from my previous blog, I love weddings. Actually, I just love wedding dresses. Why?! Because I'm girly and I like big, poofy, beautiful, sparkly gowns. In fact, if I could have a wedding and not actually have to wake up the next morning with the realization that I was married..I would totally be into it!

Listen, I know a lot of my friends are reading this (the engaged ones, the married ones, the crazy ones that are desperately looking for ANYONE to marry them..you know who you are..) and y'all are thinking "oh, she just hasn't met the right person"...well, maybe you're right. Maybe you're not though. For as long as I can remember, I've never wanted to get married and I've never wanted to have kids. I don't know why, I just haven't. Some people think it's weird but I just think it's different from what MOST Southern girls want. I'm okay with that. Honestly, I just don't think marriage and kids are for everyone. I've always kind of had that feeling that the whole white picket fence lifestyle just isn't for me. I'm not hating on you if that's the life you live. I have a ton of friends who are happily married and engaged and I'm truly happy for them. I think if you meet someone who you feel you can truly commit yourself to and you know you love unconditionally, then go for it. The thing that I see more often though is that people are getting married because they feel like it's the "next step" or the "right thing to do"....oh please don't get me started on this...but, I already have so let's just dig right in!

I'm going to give you some very vague but very personal examples. I dated in high school and college. A lot. Not seriously though. I got bored with people and I never liked the idea of commitment....HOWEVER..there was ONE guy...no, not "THE ONE" but THE ONE for me at the time...that I dated in high school...we all have ONE. We call them different things...the first LOVE...the  ONE that got away...whatever. You know who this person is in your life and I know who it is in mine. This was a guy I dated off and on for several years. I don't know what it was about this particular person but no matter how many crappy things he did and no matter how many times he broke up with me (heck, sometimes I didn't even know that we were broken up, he'd just fall off the face of the earth)..I always took him back. I can't even tell you how many times I cried and begged for him back. Yes, this is embarrassing but hey, it's my blog and if you want honesty, I'm gonna give it to you. HOW PATHETIC IS THAT?! Girls, if you take one thing away from this blog, take this...NEVER BEG A MAN FOR HIS AFFECTION. Do NOT do it. Seriously, you'll look back in regret like I do now. Of course, back then I was more of a loose cannon and I was so overwhelmed by my puppy love that I was willing to be the crazy ex girlfriend who was determined to win him back. When I went to college, things changed. I realized there were a whole lot of guys out there to date and suddenly I wasn't as worried about him anymore. I think this was about the same time that he realized his options weren't as bountiful since he never left our home town. BUT..I blame the extremely long summer vacations and Christmas breaks plus boredom in your hometown that draws you back to certain people. That's exactly what always happened. I'd get back home from my college girl adventures and he'd be the first person I'd see. We'd spend the whole break together each time and it felt like nothing had changed between us. It had though...we were both going in different directions but we were comfortable around each other and knew we could count on each other to be there. Then I moved to Nashville and realized that there were even MORE people to date than ever before. This was fun for a little while but I eventually got bored and realized that quantity does not mean quality. Nashville is a tough city to find a good guy in..and looking back I was probably trying to meet guys in the wrong settings...ladies, you're most likely not going to meet someone you wanna take home to meet the parents at your favorite bar. You're just not.

Now, when you get lonely and you realize your dating options are starting to dwindle down, guess what you do? Yep, you go back to that ONE comfortable person in your life hoping that they are available. The problem with this is...well, there are a few but let's just start with 1) most of the time, they won't be available because y'all are both getting older..especially if this person stayed in your home town and is ready to settle down...2) you're never going to get over this person if you always have them in the back of your mind. You have no closure...you NEED closure..and it can be painful.

With that being said, I think I prevented my feelings for this person to put up a wall. I never really cared about anyone like I did about him. My friends would always ask me why..what was it about him? I couldn't even tell you. I had just convinced myself that for some reason, we were supposed to be together. Now, during these few years I was in college and moved to Nashville, I had my chance to have him back...and guess what?! I TURNED IT DOWN. I walked away. I thought "nah, I don't need him."....well...I felt that way until I found out he got engaged..and then got married....

I was tortured by this. Did I make the wrong decision? Did I pass up my chance of being with THE ONE?! Was I destined to be single because I was being stubborn?! Had I screwed up my chance with him because I had built up a wall and refused to be vulnerable?! All of these things were constantly going through my head...it was awful...seriously, a nightmare.

After over a year of these thoughts, I finally had the chance to get some closure and let me tell you it was the best thing I ever did for myself. I've had therapists and friends tell me...YOU HAVE TO GET CLOSURE..yet, nobody knew how I was supposed to do that. Some help that was! It was a simple conversation that helped me close that chapter in my life and move on.

My point in all this is I think a lot of people have those feelings of "lost love" and "the one that got away"...and I just don't buy into it now after experiencing what I did. I think people develop a certain comfort level with past loves and it fools them into thinking that you can never feel that way again. They never get the CLOSURE that they really need. For me, I had to have a conversation with this ex...for you, maybe it's just writing down all of your feelings or simply accepting the fact that the person is no longer in your life for a reason. Maybe you have questions that need to be answered or you just need a cold hard reality check that it's OVER.

With all that being said...I don't really believe in the ONE. I think it's possible to love and be in love with many people throughout your lifetime and that there is no such thing as "the one that got away" because if they were supposed to be in your life...they wouldn't have gotten away, right?!

Also, if there are any single ladies my age out there reading this..I urge you not to fall into the trap that society wants you to. ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE SOUTHERN. It seems like in the South the pressure to get married and have kids ASAP is even worse than anywhere else. Live your life. Go after your dreams. Don't get married because you've been dating your guy for a while and it seems like the next logical step. It shouldn't be about that..and whatever you do...don't PRESSURE a guy into proposing to you. I don't know about you, but when and if I ever get proposed to, I want it to be because someone can't imagine their life without me, not because I gave them an ultimatum. AND..don't buy into the fact that you can't be happy unless you are married and have kids. Like I said before, I don't think it's for everyone and I'm pretty convinced that it's not for me. Only you can decide what's right for you and who is right for you...

and when anyone asks me why I'm not married and why I don't have kids...I'll just reply why my new favorite phrase taken from a hilarious book I'm reading right now (WE'RE JUST NOT THERE YET..perfect title)....I'M JUST NOT THERE YET! (and don't know if I'll ever be..) If you wanna read this book, you can find it here! Also, check out their blog and follow them on twitter @literarycowboys! Shout out to Daryl and Seth for sending me this awesome book...if you want a good laugh about dating and the stupid things girls do (and there are lots of them...) you'll wanna check it out!

All my Southern guys and gals out there...what do y'all think?


xo
C


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Summerland 2012 Tour Review

Hey y'all! If you follow me on twitter (if you don't, then what are you waiting for?! ;) @MissCourtneyA) or we're friends on Facebook, you already know that I went to Charlotte on Sunday for the Summerland 2012 tour. First of all, if you don't know about this tour then you better start googling..or just finish reading this post. I'm a huge fan of 90s music (admit it, I know I'm not alone here..) so the fact that FIVE amazing bands got together to bring the best of the BEST when it comes to 90s rock is EVERYTHING! Do you know how refreshing it is to see bands play LIVE that actually sound as good, if not better, than their records?! It definitely revived my spirits to go to this show.

I missed Marcy Playground but heard they put on an amazing show..I hope I will catch them next time! I decided that catching up with my friend was more important than 'Sex and Candy'.... ;)

Lit played next and I wish they had a longer set. They were AMAZING. Note to reader: Jeremy Popoff is one of my dear friends and one of the people I think the most highly of in this entire world, so I'm always gonna be a bit biased ;) However, I dare anyone to listen to "My Own Worst Enemy" and NOT sing along. It's a big, huge, timeless SMASH. Everyone went wild when this song came on (including my mom..ha!) Their energy on stage is incredible and they really connect with their fans. I only wish they had been able to showcase more songs from their new album The View From the Bottom. When it comes to music, I will give it to you straight, regardless of how I feel personally about an artist/band...and this album is GREAT. Seriously, I haven't been able to stop listening to it and I'm so excited to tell you about it (if you don't already know..which you should because it's really THAT good)...Oh, I forgot to mention that it's produced by BUTCH WALKER! AH! Obsessed. It's really hard for me to pick a favorite because I truly think the entire album is solid...BUT, I will say that I find myself having "C'mon" and "You Tonight" stuck in my head. I am a complete sucker for a slow song though so I find myself having "She Don't Know" on repeat. Seriously, buy the album...go see 'em in concert..it's SO worth it. You can thank me later.

AJ & Jeremy about to go on stage


Lit about to hit the stage...pretty awesome hearing all those people freaking out when the music started.


Ryan & AJ ROCKING out.


Ryan & Jeremy


Mark McGrath (Sugar Ray lead singer) watching Lit play. 


Art (lead singer of Everclear) and Mark McGrath watching Lit perform.


After Lit finished, Gin Blossoms performed. YES, GIN BLOSSOMS! Me and mom were VERY excited about this..think about all of the awesome hits they've had...their songs have been the soundtrack of my youth (I know I'm getting old because when I asked my high school cousin if he knew any of their songs, he didn't, even after I played them! it's a dang shame!)..."Found Out About You", "Hey Jealousy", "Allison Road".....and the list goes on. Let me tell you, these are the most HUMBLE, talented, entertaining group of guys that you'll ever wanna meet. The lead singer, Robin, introduced himself to us and told me he liked my hair (even though to me it was flat as a pancake..you know us SOUTHERN GIRLS..the BIGGER the BETTER..ain't nothin' worse than your teasing comb failing you!)...LOVED their whole show...They sounded just as good, if not better, than their recordings which is a rare find these days. Robin kept the audience entertained and everyone knew every word to every song. It was fantastic.

Mom, Robin (lead singer of Gin Blossoms) and me. Listen, give me a break, it was humid and I got rained on. Please note, he told me he liked my hair much earlier in the night..you know, before I looked like a wet rat.



Well, here comes one of my favorite parts of the night SUGAR RAY...Lemme tell you, Mark McGrath is hot on TV and all but BLESS...in person, EVEN BETTER..ladies, seriously...Watching him on stage was incredible..one word for ya..STAR! I GET IT! He has amazing stage presence and exudes confidence...he was wearing white jeans and you could see his tattoos peeking out from under his t-shirt...oh la la..ok, I'm not trying to get 50 Shades of Grey on ya so I'll stop there! ha! I really wanted to meet him and Jeremy promised that he would introduce me (I don't know if I've mentioned this before but Jeremy is probably one of the most selfless, kind people on the planet...he always entertains my random requests for meeting people I'm a fan of)...I was pretty nervous though because I figured "dang..he's hot and he was so confident on stage...he is probably gonna suck.." I could not have been more WRONG. DEAD WRONG. Jeremy introduced me to him and he was so gracious, sweet, conversational and humble. He mentioned he had seen me on twitter (ha! I'm a tweetin' fool, y'all know that)...I loved talking to this guy...I could not get over how nice he was. LOVED HIM. Oh, I got so excited to tell y'all about how much I love Mark McGrath that I forgot to tell you Everclear closed the show. Best part...all the bands came out to play "Santa Monica" with them. VERY COOL. After the show, we hung out in the parking lot and on the bus....by that point we had met everyone...and I must say..everyone on that tour is ridiculously nice, humble and talented. Jeremy and the Lit guys are always so gracious to me and my mom. I'm so thankful for that because I always have fun and I know my mom loves going to see live music and getting the VIP treatment (who doesn't?!)..I'm so thankful and blessed that Jeremy treats me like gold. It's important to have people in your life who make you feel like you're important! Remember that :)

Mark McGrath, mom, me and Popoff


Me and my sweet friend Jeremy..LOVE HIM..I know he looks tough but he's got a heart of gold :)


Sugar Ray..so good!


Well, this show was the perfect occasion to wear my new skull ring ;)




All in all, AMAZING SHOW! I had so much fun and I highly suggest you go check 'em out when they hit a city near you! You can check out the rest of their tour dates here!

Oh, and although I had a lovely conversation with Mark....my mom ended up getting lucky..NOT ME. ha! 



Hope y'all enjoyed and will catch a show...don't forget to buy the new Lit album The View From the Bottom and tell me what you think :) 

xo-
C


Friday, July 13, 2012

Wedding dress obsessed...

I have recently become completely obsessed with wedding dresses. I blame Pinterest, Say Yes to the Dress, and Randy to the Rescue. Don't get me wrong, I'm not the typical Southern girl who has been planning her wedding since she was five. Heck no. I'm probably the furthest thing from it. In fact, I'm not even sure getting married is in the cards for me. However, I do like sparkly and beautiful dresses. This is actually the only real reason I went to prom. I loved going shopping for dresses.

At times it makes me feel a little crazy seeing as I haven't had a date in...umm..let's not go there..I don't wanna further embarrass myself. My question is, do any of you ladies do this? I find myself seeing dresses on these shows and then tracking them down on the internet. Of course, I have expensive taste. My favorite designers are Pnina Tornai (BLING BLING BLING) and Lazaro. I'm posting a few pictures of my favorites. And YES I do want to be a princess on my big day so you'll see a theme :) What do y'all think???








Thursday, July 12, 2012

finding your freedom in forgiveness...

This blog is especially hard for me to write. Why? Because it's something that I still struggle with. As a Christian, I believe in forgiveness. It's hard but God never promised us that it would be easy to do the right thing. When you invest in a relationship/friendship/job or whatever it may be, and you get burned, it's hard to move past. The longer you hold on to that resentment, the more hatred builds in your heart. Whenever I think about some of the people whose friendship I valued who have betrayed me, I still get worked up. A simple mention of their name can make me physically ill. If you're honest with yourself, you probably can name at least one person who makes you feel this way. When I think about some of my friendships that have gone south, I honestly can't even remember where some of them went wrong. Others are more recent and the wounds are still raw and painful to think about. I think forgiveness takes time and also acceptance that we probably made mistakes along to way as well. I know that I have been petty and did things that didn't always represent the person that I would like to be. I also know that sometimes I have allowed people to walk all over me and that was my fault. Going back to my previous post about setting boundaries, I taught people that it was acceptable to treat me poorly. So they did.

The question is, what can we do about it? How can we forgive these people and move on with our lives and be unaffected by them? I'm still a work in progress and I'm still trying to figure this out. Whenever I need inspiration or an answer lately, I've been less likely to look to friends for advice and more likely to look to the Bible. Let's face it, our friends love us and they are going to tell us we are perfect and it's always the other persons fault. If you want the absolute TRUTH though, you have got to get it from the WORD OF GOD. Period. So here is what God says about forgiveness:


Colossians 3:13 
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

To me, that is very powerful. Think of all the things you have done in your life, you know, the things you wouldn't ever want anyone to find out about. The things that make you embarrassed to even think about. We've all been there. We've all made mistakes. When we hold on to the things others have done to us, we are giving them the power. The power to control our feelings and emotions. You think you're really getting them good by holding on to this resentment but you're really making yourself a prisoner. In the end, it's not really worth it. I have a hard time making the first move towards forgiveness but it is absolutely essential. I'm humbled every day as I have found myself praying for the people who have hurt me instead of praying that they would "get what they deserved"....It's not easy and I don't automatically get fuzzy feelings about these people when I encounter them, but it is important for my spiritual and mental health. 

Here are some suggestions that may help you if you're struggling with this. First, seek God's WORD. Look up Bible verses that talk about forgiveness. You will be humbled. Trust me. I know this sounds kinda crazy but pray for them. Pray that they will be touched by God in a way that they are changed for the better. This is difficult to do and may seem impossible to you but it will help, promise. Another thing (and something I'm working on this week) is write a letter to someone who has really hurt you. Explain in detail what they did and why it hurt you. You'll probably get angry again, reliving the memories, and you may even find yourself crying. When you're done, tear it up, burn it, GET RID OF IT. I know it sounds weird but it actually does help. I've done it before and I'm going to keep doing it. The people in my life that are no longer in it were toxic for me so I see no need for reconciliation. I do want to move on with my life though and get rid of the bitterness I've clung to. 

Forgiveness doesn't mean that you allow yourself to be someone's door mat again. If anything, this will be the closure that you need FOR YOURSELF. It will also be a learning experience about being selective of the people that you want in your life. Remember, hurt people, hurt people. A lot of times it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with their own unhappiness. Be willing to admit your faults though and be humble enough to ask for forgiveness. 

I'd love to hear your comments on how you have forgiven people who have hurt you. As I said, I'm a work in progress and I can always use some help along the way :)

xo
-C

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wardrobe staples and my favorite places to shop online!

It's no secret that I'm a slave to fashion...and big, blonde hair. There are some things that I believe every woman should have in her closet to make it complete. 

A BLAZER (at least one, but by all means get one in every color if you'd like to!)


I'm a sucker for a blazer. I have one in every color. They are a MUST! I wouldn't suggest breaking the bank on a fun colored one though. You can find a good assortment of these at Forever 21 for $30 or less. A black blazer should be a splurge though. They are classic and you can wear them with practically anything. Dress them up or dress them down, they are perfect for almost any occasion. One of my favorite looks is a blazer, cropped boyfriend jeans (AG makes a spectacular pair called the ex-boyfriend cropped jean) and an awesome pair of wedges or cute flats. 

AN AWESOME PAIR OF BLACK HEELS (or two or three pairs...)


My favorite pair that I own are pictured above. They are Calvin Klein and fit PERFECTLY. They are also comfortable and easy to walk in. Want to know something even better? They are on sale at one of my favorite websites, 6PM.com for $59.99! You can find them here!

THE ALWAYS SEXY LITTLE BLACK DRESS (again, if you have more than one, even better!)



I love this BB Dakota dress because it's simple and it can be dressed up or dressed down depending on the way you accessorize it. It's also on sale right now for $59.99 on Zappos.com. You can find this dress here!

NUDE PUMPS (trust me, you'll be glad you have them!)

Let's face it, in a perfect world we would all be able to have closets filled with a pair of shoes for each outfit we owned. Although I have a pretty big collection (I got the shoe bug when I started working as a free lance stylist for Zappos...I'm addicted now!), I still find myself stuck sometimes trying to figure out what will match certain things. That's where these babies come in handy. Nude pumps are absolutely necessary. I now own several different styles and they are my go to shoe! I love this pair from Aldo. As you can tell, I love patent leather. Again, you can purchase these from Zappos.com by clicking here!

THE PERFECT PAIR OF JEANS


This is a tough one. It's pretty hard to find a great pair of jeans. This is one thing I will splurge on because jeans are a part of my every day life. I'm definitely curvy and it's hard for me to find jeans that I like and fit me well. True Religion is by far my favorite brand. The only thing that bothers me about True Religion is the fact that they sometimes go overboard on their pockets. I like my jeans to be more simple. I own the pair pictured above and LOVE them. The pockets aren't too flashy and I adore the dark wash. You can purchase these jeans here! Another favorite brand of mine is William Rast (I mean, can Justin Timberlake do anything that isn't perfection?! Doubt it..) The only thing I will say about that brand is that they tend to stretch out, so make sure you get a size smaller than you would normally wear. 

MY FAVORITE PLACES TO SHOP ONLINE

I love to find a good bargain. It excites me when I get something expensive for a reasonable price. I am also an online shopping addict! I find myself constantly browsing my favorite sites to see what they have that I haven't seen yet. Here are a few links to my favorite sites! 


Let me know what your essential wardrobe items are and where you like to shop online! 

Until next time...HAPPY SHOPPING!

xo 
-C



Let's talk OC Housewives & the Reunion...

Those of you who follow me on twitter or know me personally know that I LOVE me some reality TV..I am especially obsessed with the Housewives. I have watched every city and every season (except for Miami, but I mean, did ANYONE watch that?!) My favorite has always been and will always be the original, the OC Housewives. I never miss it. Ever. The only thing I look forward to more than a new episode is the highly anticipated reunion shows. They never disappoint me.

I will go ahead and admit to those of you who don't already know that I am a full-blown Gretchen fan. I've always liked her for some reason. I like her personality, I love the way she dresses and I think she's stunning. Her hair and makeup are always perfection and she keeps it real. She always carries herself with grace but she's not afraid to stand up for herself. I love it.

I'm also a fan of Tamra. There is something very likable about someone who isn't afraid to laugh at themselves. She's bold and she is unfiltered. LOVE. If she doesn't like you, you know it. She doesn't sugar coat anything and she never backs down. I've also enjoyed watching her relationship with Eddie grow, as I feel her marriage to Simon was holding her back from being her true self.

However, this has left me quite conflicted as Gretchen and Tamra have always hated each other (up until this season)....so I am SO happy that they are now friends and hope that they will continue to be! Team blonde ALL THE WAY! Well, except for VICKI...

Don't get me wrong, I respect Vicki because I think she's a brilliant business woman and she doesn't have to depend on a man for ANYTHING. On the flip side, it seems like she has had a temporary lapse of judgement with this new boyfriend. It seems that Brooks is taking advantage of her, which I think is just as bad as a woman taking advantage of a man. I kind of expected Vicki to pick up on this at some point, but it seems like she hasn't yet and they are still going strong. It says a lot when everyone around you is telling you that someone is no good for you..I mean, even her own daughter doesn't like him. Shouldn't that be enough for her to open her eyes and at least explore the idea that he's not all he is cracked up to be? Vicki has always been open about her "love tank" being empty...it's no surprise that Brooks comes on so strong...he is OVERCOMPENSATING for something. It's literally disgusting to me to hear him constantly gush and give her a card for every occasion (you know, important days...like Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays..haha, it's RIDICULOUS)...I think Tamra did the right thing by questioning Brooks and his motives...that's what friends are for. If Vicki doesn't see that she is going to be alone..or worse, stuck with Alexis!

Alexis drives me INSANE. I used to think she was gorgeous but her personality makes her so BLAH to me. I don't think she has been a great friend to Gretchen like she claims. Who calls out their friend across the dinner table about "work" that they may or may not have had done?! Um, who cares if Gretchen had her lips done and wears hair extensions? I know I don't. I think she looks fabulous and I'm all about plastic surgery if you can afford it and there is something about yourself that you want to fix. More power to ya, girlfriend! Alexis should really sit down and watch herself, listen to herself, see how she presents herself. The fact that she calls Heather pretentious is hilarious to me because if anyone is pretentious, it's Alexis! Oh, and the fact that she went on and on about the nose job for four episodes...GET OVER IT. I wish I could get my nose done and I don't see anything wrong with it. Plus, it's no big secret. It's like people who get boob jobs but get mad when you notice it. HELLO, hard to miss. It's all good if you have to have sinus surgery but own up to the fact that you probably would have had your nose done with or WITHOUT the "sinus" excuse.

At first I wasn't crazy about Heather but she has really grown on me. I enjoy her brutal honesty and the fact that she's not afraid of confrontation. I think what really made me decide that I liked her was the fact that she went off on Sarah about eating the bow off her cake. I found this episode to be hilarious. P.S. Sarah is crazy and claims she is a "cast member"....ummmmmm????

My favorite part of the reunion was probably when Alexis said "yes, and she's flying on the private jet!"....Heather, Gretchen and Tamra all throw their arms up and say "ohhhhhhhhhhhhh ohhhhhhhhhhhh the private jet!" HELLO...if that doesn't prove everything they have been saying about you all season, I don't know what does. It made me laugh and I am looking forward to part two of the reunion. I have a feeling things are going to get more heated!

So, who do y'all like? Who is your favorite Housewife and why?

Until next time!

-C


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

setting boundaries and sticking to them...

I must admit, setting boundaries is something I've never been very good at. In fact, I never even knew that I had a problem with this until last year. We've all been there, stuck in bad relationships/friendships with toxic people who suck the life out of you and drive you crazy. I just always thought it was the right thing to do to give people second chances (or third..or fourth...) and to accept people as they are. I still find this to be somewhat true. After all, I'm human and I make mistakes just like everyone else...I'm not perfect so I can't expect perfection from anyone else, right? However, without boundaries, we are willing to let people treat us however they wish and use us at their disposal. That is not what makes a healthy relationship.

Here is where the cold, hard truth comes into play..if you take away anything from this post, take away this...

WE TEACH PEOPLE HOW TO TREAT US!


That's a tough pill to swallow, isn't it? It has been for me at least. All my life I wanted to be liked by everyone. I'm a people pleaser and always have been (although this is something I'm working on changing). I never wanted to rock the boat or make anyone upset. Therefore, I didn't really have any boundaries. I might as well have had a sign around my neck that said "Take advantage of me! Walk all over me! I'm okay with it!"...sound familiar? I think a lot of people have this problem. They are the "nice" people. Then, one day they explode and everyone wonders what happened. You invest all of your time, love and energy into people who do not do the same for you. You find yourself surrounded by self centered people and shallow relationships. You can't be yourself or let your guard down because someone might not like what they see.

The thing is, we teach people how to treat us. When I heard this for the first time, it hit me like a ton of bricks. By accepting people's bad behavior and abuse of our relationship/friendship, I was actually encouraging it! They weren't the ones missing out, I was. I was missing out on true relationships where both parties are selfless and encouraging to one another. If y'all read my blog about my battle with anxiety and depression, I think a lot of those problems are tied into the fact that I never set boundaries.

You deserve healthy relationships. You deserve to be happy and have people around you that will be there for you no matter what, not just when they need something from you. I learned about this when I went to Onsite (also mentioned in my previous blog). If any of you are interested in learning more about Onsite, please check out their website here. You don't have to be anxious or depressed to go. You just have to be open to changing the things in your life that you don't like and be open to the experience. I will admit there were a lot of things that we did that I didn't understand until months after my stay there. There are several programs and the one I went to is called Living Centered. If you feel stuck, it's the perfect program for you. I'd love to go back (heck, I'd love to live there actually) and go to their other programs.

With all that being said, we show people what we are willing to put up with and tolerate. This doesn't mean, never forgive and stay mad at people. I'm a strong believer in forgiveness, as I have had to forgive people even when they weren't sorry. It's part of being a Christian and it's part of freeing yourself...after all, the people who have done you wrong probably aren't worried about you or your feelings or else they wouldn't treat you the way that they do. I believe in second chances but I also believe in standing your ground. When you start respecting yourself and being firm with your boundaries, you will earn the respect of those around you and will weed out the toxic people in your life. You may go from 100 friends to 5, but those 5 people will be the ones who truly know you and love you unconditionally. You will develop stronger relationships instead of superficial friendships that aren't built on much substance.

So, treat yourselves well and remember that you are worthy and deserving of a life that is full of people who appreciate you!

xo
C


What I think I wrong with the country music industry...

Let me start by saying that this is just my OPINION...we all have one and we're all entitled to express it. I've had the same conversation probably a hundred times with my friends in the business and although we sometimes differ on what we think the problem is...we all agree that there is an issue with the way things are happening on Music Row.

I'll go ahead and get to the bottom line here...

The problem with the country music industry today is that labels are investing in SHORT TERM, ONE HIT WONDER ARTISTS instead of creating SUPER STARS.


In a perfect world, the best songs would get cut, the best artists would get deals and the wonderful songwriters in Nashville would get recognized for their hard work and contributions to the industry. Unfortunately, this just isn't the case. Time and time again we are seeing mediocre (at best) artists getting record deals and terrible songs getting picked for records and as singles. I'm not going to name any names here but it seems like the only way to get a deal these days is if you're on TV, are related to someone prominent in the music industry or you're related to someone famous. We all know that group of artists and who falls into it. I'm not saying that everyone who comes from a TV show is included in this group. Let's face it, American Idol gave us Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson. I know I'm thankful that they have a place in the music business, aren't you? My playlists would miss them if they weren't there :)

However, I do think that there is a lot to be said for people who pay their dues and spend years crafting themselves as entertainers and songwriters. These people tend to appreciate it when they finally do make it because they've taken the road less traveled and have succeeded. I can't imagine the amazing feeling of satisfaction that they must feel when they finally do make it.

Like I said before, I don't personally have a problem with people who are on American Idol, Nashville Star and other shows in order to make it. It's a tough business and you have to take every opportunity that you can to get your shot. It's not easy and shows like that give you a chance to present yourself to a huge audience of potential fans. I think a lot of great talent has been discovered from these shows such as Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson and Miranda Lambert. All three happen to be some of my favorites. The flip side of that is that you get these mediocre people who land record deals because thirteen year old girls think they are cute and vote for them every week. This is something that I have a problem with.

I don't necessarily agree that if you win one of these competitions that you should be given a record deal. I think that the rules should be changed a little. Maybe offer the winners an opportunity to live in Nashville for a few months, take meetings, write songs and get advice from the best in the business. Think of all the winners of American Idol and how few have made it to stardom. At this point, a label has invested an insane amount of money for an artist that just doesn't have what it takes to make it.

Why aren't the people who have the power looking at what is right in front of their faces? HELLO...Nashville is full of amazing talent and people who deserve to have their shot. Sorry if these people don't have the financial backing or celebrity association..but is that what it's all about? It's not supposed to be. It's supposed to be about GREAT music and artists that make you feel something when they sing.

I miss the days where Garth Brooks, Wynonna, Patty Loveless, Reba and George Strait ruled the radio.  Labels, start investing in artists that can stand the test of time. Your roster should not be a revolving door, signing the actress who decided that "oh, singing country could be fun" or the washed up pop star who thinks country is their only chance of success. In case you haven't noticed, country music fans are loyal and they see through to people who aren't genuine. If you don't think fans are important take a look at Taylor Swift's career or go to CMA Fest one year.

WAKE UP, MUSIC ROW! We are in desperate need of super stars and until we get them...you're going to continue to lose money and have a BLAH roster of "talent"....what do y'all think?

xo
C





Monday, July 9, 2012

The Bachelorette and why I LOVE Emily...

Any of you who know me know that I enjoy nothing more than to watch reality TV. I become especially obsessed with someone I know is on it. Living in Nashville for several years has allowed me to meet a lot of people who ended up on reality TV. That's just how it is. It'd be the same if I had lived in NYC or LA.

With that being said, I know a lot of interesting characters. It allows me to laugh at the outlandish stories that publications such as US Weekly posts and also angers me when they talk about someone that I love. I'm a loyal friend and I take things personally. I don't like people trashing my friends.

I have a VERY soft spot in my heart for Emily and I'll explain why as well as shut up the people who have had bad things to say about her.

If you've been in college or a young professional, you probably have at some point had a roommate. These situations can be magical or a nightmare, they are hardly ever in between the two extremes. A few years ago I lived with someone who was...umm...not magical. I'm trying to be nice so I'll spare you all the horrible details of living with a psychopath. It got so bad that I broke my lease and got the heck outta there. It was the best thing for me to do and I thought that would be the end of it since we did not run in the same social circles. However, it was just the beginning of the trouble I had. "Coincidentally" (haha..you get my drift) right after I moved out, "someone" decided to make a fake Facebook profile using my picture and basically slandering me in any way possible.

I woke up to text messages, phone calls, emails, singing telegrams (not really, but you know the rumor mill and how fast things get around) from friends telling me to get on my computer immediately and check it out. I was horrified. I had never read such trash in my life. The things on this page were not a representation of me and what's worse is they took it upon themselves to write emails to my friends and send friend requests to EVERYONE I knew. I wanted to crawl in a hole and die. I cried and cried and cried. Why would anyone be so vicious and hurtful? I will never understand why people think it's okay to do things like that. I was too embarrassed to go out because I knew that everyone had seen it. To say I was humiliated would be an understatement. I knew those things weren't true but they still hurt.

Unfortunately at the time I couldn't just curl up on the couch and cry all day because I was in school and working part time at an upscale boutique. I looked like crap and felt even worse. The day after it happened, I was scheduled to work. This is where Emily comes in. I knew who she was socially and thought she was drop dead gorgeous but I had never met her officially. I offered to help her and thought she was really sweet and warm. A few minutes into helping her she said, "Are you Courtney Allen?"...I thought...OH NO...she has seen this profile..she has heard these terrible lies about me...EVERYONE has seen it...I hesitantly replied yes and she looked right at me and said, "I just want you to know that I don't know you but I know what happened to you. I've had people do the same thing to me so I know exactly what you're going through...I'm so sorry that you're having to go through this...I know people who know you and think you're great and can't believe that anyone would do this to you."

Can you say guardian angel? I totally believe that God used Emily to comfort me in a time where I was practically inconsolable. I don't believe in coincidences, I believe in God's guidance and BLESSINGS. That was all it took for me to love Emily. She was a complete stranger to me yet she reached out when she didn't have to. She could have just thought..oh that's the poor girl I saw on Facebook..but she didn't. She went out of her way to make me feel better and I will never forget that.

From that point on, Emily and I became fast friends. Her daughter is sassy and cute...basically a mini Emily. What you see is what you get with her. She really is THAT wonderful and she really does care THAT much. Those aren't crocodile tears you see on The Bachelorette. She is as genuine as they come. I'm pretty sure she is the most gorgeous person that I have ever encountered but she is also much more than that. She has a heart of gold and she is a good mother. It angers me when I see things online or in magazines trashing her. She is someone's mother. She is a woman who deserves a second chance at love...or a third..or however many times it takes to find the ONE. She has been through so much and doesn't deserve the backlash.

I have always loved watching The Bachelorette but I've especially enjoyed Emily's journey because I know that it is real. She just wants what everyone else wants and that is to be loved and have someone who loves her daughter..unconditionally. If anyone deserves it, it is her.

So for those of you who wonder if she is sincere or as great as she seems on TV...the answer is no, she's better.

Thanks for reading!

xo - C




Sunday, July 8, 2012

how I ended up in Nashville and my struggles to find my place in the music industry...

People often ask me how I ended up in Nashville and how I know so and so. I figured this may be something that people may find interesting to read and I like looking back on my fond memories of my time there. It didn't start off easy for me though. Nobody cares about you unless you know someone who knows someone. If you're related to someone famous or were on a reality show, you became "important" or "validated". This presented a problem for me because I was just a small town girl with big dreams and absolutely no connections.

I take that back, I did have a little bit of an advantage. I had met Jason Aldean's drummer, Rich Redmond, in South Carolina and he was the one who initially sparked my interest in Nashville and encouraged me to explore the idea of pursuing a career in the music industry. At the time, I was a sophomore at the University of South Carolina and really had no direction or career goals. I just went to college because that's what you do when you graduate from high school, right? I also got to know Trace Adkin's tour manager who was very kind and encouraging as well. He was honest though and told me all these things that I'm telling you now. It wasn't that he was discouraging me, it was more like he was telling me the truth about things and explained how hard it could be to catch a break. I'll always be thankful for that. Rich, on the other hand, is probably one of the most unstoppable people that I've ever met. He is one of those who thrives off rejection and when a door slams in his face, he will knock it down. I admire that about him. He has continued to stay positive and has secured himself in Nashville as one of the best drummers and now has a production company. He has found success producing the duo Thompson Square as well as continuing to tour with Jason Aldean...AND doing studio work. I swear, he's superman. I remained friends with Rich and Jeff and kept in touch with both of them.

At the time, I wasn't a country music fan. I didn't even know who Jason Aldean was. I just happened to get hauled along for a concert with my girlfriend and ended up meeting him and his band. After befriending these people, I decided I should probably start listening to their music. Jason's music wasn't the country music that I was used to. It was edgy and his band was fun. I couldn't take my eyes off them when they were on stage. I started to travel to shows when they were close and ended up truly becoming a fan of him. This led me to the discovery of other country music which I found I liked a lot, too. Months went by and I thought that maybe visiting Nashville wasn't such a bad idea. In my mind I envisioned people walking around with cowboy hats on and riding in tractors. I couldn't imagine what all the hype was about but I thought that Jason and his band were cool so there must be something intriguing about this place.

My girlfriend and I decided to go for NYE for a big concert and to just hang out and explore the city. Trace Adkins was playing a huge show with Jason Aldean and Brooks & Dunn. Although I was still learning current country music, I LOVED Brooks & Dunn because I listened to country in the 90s when artists like the Dixie Chicks, Shania, Wynonna, Lorrie Morgan and Trisha Yearwood were super stars. I loved that kind of country and I still do. We had awesome seats and loved the show. I noticed some people who had meet and greet passes. That seemed fun. How could I meet Brooks & Dunn? It'd be a fun story to tell when I got home. I decided to just follow a group of people backstage. Nobody stopped me and I did meet them. Yes, it was that easy. I think this gave me the boost of confidence that I would use later that night since I'd be using a fake ID for the first time (yikes, I do not suggest this to you underage folks...). Somehow, my horrible ID worked and I ended up getting into all the honky tonks. I got to meet new people and had a blast. Something inside of me told me that I just needed to be there.

I knew that I had to do an internship soon for school and since I majored in Sport and Entertainment industry, I thought maybe I could find a way to get to Nashville. I met with my advisor whose husband had lived in Nashville and she thought maybe he might know someone. Turns out, he did. Within a week, I was given the email address to Brad Kennard. He was the general manager of a publishing company. I didn't really know what that was but he seemed nice enough over email and told me to let him know next time I'd be in Nashville. Within ten minutes, he offered me the internship. Wow. I didn't think it'd be that easy. I was so nervous but Brad made me feel like an old friend. I instantly felt a connection with him and felt at ease.

That was that. I packed my bags and moved to Nashville. I thought it would be cool that I knew a few people but didn't take into account that the people I knew were ALWAYS on the road. That meant that they weren't available to really show me around or introduce me to people. I had better luck seeing them when I lived in South Carolina than I did in Nashville! I started my internship but felt very lonely. The first three weeks I didn't have furniture, TV, internet...ANYTHING. It was just me alone in my little apartment, sleeping on the floor on a pile of blankets. I wondered if I had made a big mistake. I remember crying myself to sleep almost every night for the first few weeks. However, I found that I excelled at my internship and found myself immersed in song catalogs of all the writers. Some of these songs were really great! By that time, I had educated myself on the current country artists and knew their styles. I started putting together ideas for Brad of songs that I thought would be a good fit for certain artists. I became friends with the writers and looked forward to seeing them every day. I used to dress up every day. Heels, full makeup and hair..the WORKS. Brad told me "you know..you don't have to dress up here, we're pretty laid back." Pretty soon my hair was always in a pony tail and flip flops were an essential...mostly because I had fallen down the stairs in my heels and completely embarrassed myself on several occasions at this point.

Not only did I learn a lot from Brad, but there were also several other publishers in the building that we shared. This meant, even more song catalogs, even more writers, and even more learning opportunities. People were always coming and going and I was always meeting new and interesting people. Everyone was so nice and welcoming. Among these writers, I had special friendships with Kris Bergsnes (I loved his catalog so much, still do! Why hasn't some huge country artist cut one of his songs and made it a single yet?! Y'all are missing out!), James Slater and Brett Eldredge. Brett was an up and coming writer/artist at the time (he is now signed to WB). I loved interacting with them and listening as they played new music. I especially loved seeing Brett every day because he would always sing and he can SING. On top of that, I grew very fond of the other two publishers, Pat Finch and Abbe Nameche. They had great personalities and weren't afraid to voice their opinions. I loved that. This was an environment that I grew and learned a lot in. This gave me the foundation for my beliefs about what makes a great song and what makes a star as opposed to a one hit wonder. I will always have the best memories when I think about my time there. It was probably the best time in my life.

I eventually just started going out, sometimes by myself, hoping to make friends. I was fearless at this point (I hope to eventually get to this point again), so I just went for it. If I saw someone I wanted to talk to, I just went up and talked to them. Brad and the writers were always kind and invited me places and introduced me to people as well. I went to a lot of showcases and immersed myself in the music.

I was 110% committed to my dream of being in the music industry so I transfered to MTSU and began their music business program. I learned a lot but I was really eager to get out. I felt like I was going backwards since I had already learned and experienced so much during my time as an intern. Plus, I hated school. I hated studying and I hated that it interfered with me going out and doing all the fun things I had become accustomed to. I also thought for SURE I would have a job as soon (if not before) I graduated. After all, I was a networking QUEEN. I was out every night and meeting everyone I could. I had good relationships with people who were really doing things in the industry. Brad, Abbe and Pat had been in the industry forever and were at the top of their game. They are the cream of the crop and that is not just my opinion, it's just the honest to God TRUTH. They are well respected in the music community and they are responsible for some major hits that got cut (ever heard 'Jesus Take the Wheel' or 'In My Daughter's Eyes'???)...yes, it's just the truth.

I graduated with hopes of getting my dream job and to continue living this fabulous life that I loved so much. That's when reality hit...and let me tell you..when it hits you, it hits hard..and when you aren't expecting it, you have no way of defending yourself or fighting back..you just gotta take it. During this time, the publishing company I interned at ended up switching directions and were focused on becoming a management company...the owners had already decided to hire people they were friends with...the other publishing company that Pat and Abbe worked for had been sold...this left Pat without a job. I was shocked. How could this happen to someone so prominent?! This also left me...without a job or any prospect of a job. Brad, Abbe and Pat sent my resume out and I did land a few interviews that I thought went well but all fell through. I felt discouraged. I wasn't going to give up though. I ended up working whatever odd jobs I could to try to make ends meet. I worked at a boutique, as a personal assistant, as a promotional model and brand ambassador..you name it, I did it. I have no idea how I managed to stay afloat for that long, but I did.

Eventually, I landed a job at a Christian music publishing company in sales. I knew nothing about Christian music but heck, I thought...I'm a Christian and I know sales and I know publishing so maybe this will work out. I didn't hate the job but I certainly didn't love it..I did love and still do love all the people who worked there. They all welcomed me and were eager to help me in any way that they could. My boss was hilarious and a lot of fun to be around. He was happy to have me there so I was happy to be there. I was thankful that I had found a job at all after all the months of searching. Plus, I thought this was just a stepping stone. However, I noticed that people around me were getting jobs that I would die for and they were people who didn't have the experience or the passion that I did. They just happened to babysit for someone or were related to someone...or some other superficial reason. I was sad and it wore me out. I started to lose hope. That's when all my problems started with my anxiety and depression. I just wasn't happy anymore. There is more to my problems than all that but it definitely was the straw that broke the camel's back.

With all that being said, within three  years, all three of my mentors (Brad, Abbe and Pat) had been out of a job and I thought if they couldn't make it, how could I? After I managed to function after all my "issues" I landed a job doing fan clubs and websites for some of country music's top artists. I was really excited even though the pay sucked. Misery hit an all time low at this point. The girl I worked with was terrible to me and they had unrealistic expectations from me. I had no training in web design and was supposed to be an assistant. It was supposed to be pretty easy and I was supposed to learn as I went along. On my first day I realized they decided to make me an assistant ACCOUNT MANAGER. What a mess. I was thrown into the lion's den and dreaded every day of that job. At this point, I realized my health would be in jeopardy if I stayed at that job any longer. I had no back up plan but I quit anyway. I figured God would provide and he did. I ended up getting a lot of good gigs as a promotional model and brand ambassador. I also was very blessed to work with Mark Block from the Block Agency who hooked me up with an awesome gig as a free lance stylist for Zappos.com. I spent four months there and LOVED it. Even though it was in Kentucky, I enjoyed the time away from my normal day to day routine and the people that I met there were wonderful. I was still seeking a job in the  music industry but I was also open to other possibilities at this point. I thought that being a stylist may be a good job for me since I enjoyed it so much and loved fashion. Things seemed like they were looking up. Unfortunately, my car accident put me back into that dark place and I was forced to move home to get the help I needed.

I know this is another long post but all the details are important to me and a lot of times people want to know what it was like to live in Nashville and how I managed to meet some of the people that I did and get to do the things that I did....so here it is. A little bit of luck, a lot of blessings, God placing the people in my life that He did and being in the right place at the right time.

Below are a few pictures. The first one is of me and Trace Adkins...LOVE HIM. Such a great guy, hilarious and very talented. The second is of me and Rich Redmond, who I mentioned earlier in the blog. This was after a show in Atlanta and NO we did not plan on matching ;) The last picture is from the firs time I met Jason Aldean. I'm really glad that he has finally received the recognition that he deserves as an artist and entertainer.