Tuesday, May 31, 2016

I'm a Cam fan

With Cam and my sister Lilly in Tinley Park, Ill.
A few months ago I won tickets from the radio station to see Dierks Bentley in Chicago. I've been a Dierks fan for years, so I was ecstatic to go. He had a few openers listed online, but the one that caught my eye was Cam. I had heard her songs "Burning House" and "Mayday" on the radio, and I liked them both. So I decided to purchase the album to get concert-ready.

I had no idea what I was in for. 

Cam's album, "Untamed," is the whole package for female country lovers. Her songs touch on a variety of relatable topics: love, love lost, revenge and more. And while deep tracks like "Burning House" are powerhouses of the album, the album never loses steam because of fun tracks like "Country Ain't Never Been Pretty" sprinkled throughout.

My sister and I stuck around after the show and were fortunate enough to meet Cam. We've met a few upcoming country artists before, yet there was something very genuine about Cam. She took the time to speak with every person who waited in line, she signed autographs, took photos, and even embraced in hugs.

During her set, she made a funny, sarcastic comment about how male musicians don't seem to get enough love. As someone who tries to listen to country radio, (but usually gets frustrated after an hour of nothing but male voices,) I thought she was spot on.

I think Cam is the real deal in new country music, and I think her music has the ability to last. She may be the real, true, breath of fresh air that country music needs right now. I'm a Cam fan.


Sunday, May 29, 2016

Taking the long way

This isn't the first time I've realized that I'm not perfect.

But it is the first time I've realized that sometimes imperfections can be exactly what you need.

When I first started college almost six years ago, I was set on one thing: Journalism. I did everything I could to be the best at it; whether I was freelancing for the local paper or working as editor of my college paper, I wasn't about to be stopped. 

But when the time came to do it in the "real world," I flaked. My anxiety, which had only occasionally flared up in my life prior, took over almost every waking minute of my day. I despised the work, the environment and everything about it. I liked what I was doing, but I didn't like doing it.

It's hard to explain.

So when I left that "dream" job, saddled with a fairly sizeable amount of student debt and regret, I felt stuck. Here I'd be paying off a monthly loan for the next 8 years, a monthly reminder of my biggest failure in my life. 

Or was it?

I thought that job was the only thing I was capable of doing. I thought it was the only thing I'd ever do.

It took almost a year, but I realized that those skills - writing, interviewing, learning - that I perfected while I racked up debt were still with me. Why shouldn't I put that time and effort into something worthwhile?

A couple months ago I started a personal project titled "A Twist in History: The Jacob Haish Story." Jacob Haish is an ancestor of mine and one of the original inventors of barbed wire, the invention that fenced the West. I was set out to tell my local community about the man behind the wire. I didn't expect much at first because it was so new.

But I couldn't have imagined such a warm reception. Members of the community have really stepped up to support it.

I was writing a freelance story for a newspaper yesterday when I kept running into members of the community who have helped me with, or had heard about the project. I received congratulations, words of advice, and even scoops on more. Someone told me that it seems like since I left my last job, I seem really in control of my life and that I'm doing the things that I want to do. That I seem happy. She also said that I have the skills needed for this job, a job that needs to be done, which is telling the story of this person that history sometimes forgets.

It was so eye-opening.

I've had my dark patches, and in the last year or so, I've been working hard to see the light. Sometimes it feels like I'm taking the long way, but I'm starting to become truly grateful for the lessons I've learned along the way.

It may have not been the picture-perfect journey, but it's perfect for me.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Dropping the "B" word

The other night was just like any other night. My husband and I were making dinner together, side-by-side, as we do. But today felt different. It was one of those nights when everything seems to have a warm glow to it; everyone is in a good mood and it's one of those moments when you realize you're exactly where you need to be.

I glanced over to make sure he wasn't holding anything sharp before I decided to speak. I took a breath, and then let it out.
Photo by Kelly Bauer
"I want to have a baby."

I'm glad I checked the contents of his hands, because he nearly knocked the garlic salt shaker right off the counter. His head spun to look at me. I was already facing him and waiting for his reaction.

In case you didn't know, my husband and I have been on the fence about wanting to have children since we got engaged. We had a lot of hesitation about it; he was unsure because he has never met his own father and he's worried about being a good one to his own child. I was unsure because I always thought I had to choose between my passion - writing - and having children. But recently, I realized that having children wasn't something that happens instead of something else -- it's something beyond that. It's something different and it's something even bigger.

I explained to my husband about how I've been thinking about kids for weeks. I told him that although I'm not ready yet (we want to purchase a house first,) I do know that I want to eventually have children. That's the first step, right?

Once the initial shock from my announcement wore off, he nodded and seemed to understand. And the more I explained my reasoning for wanting to have children, the more he expressed his want to have children, too. Although neither of us have flat-out admitted that we want children, in this moment it was like we knew what we wanted all along.

I told him that I'd been thinking about the one thing that's most important to me in the whole world. I asked him what was most important to him. Then, almost in unison we agreed: Family.

We are family people. Although we come from different lives, different family backgrounds, we've become our own family since we moved in together. And we are ridiculously close with my parents and sister. So why wouldn't we want to keep that going, with even more family of our own?

The more we talked about it, the more excited we became. We could be good parents, we realized. Or at least, we would try to be the very best. Why? We're hardworking, loving people. And those are the traits we'd want to pass on to our children. It just makes sense. And our passions, our lives, that we were so worried about losing? We know those will never be lost.

We are nowhere near ready to have those kids yet (sorry, mom and dad!) We need a little more time and money. We'll get there. But now we know that it's something we want to do, and it's something we look forward to. We are two people in love with each other, our lives and our family, and that's something we want to share and hold on to forever.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

For my Momma

My husband and I spent all of yesterday with momma to celebrate Mother's Day. We spent most of the day just talking, and the topic kept coming back to children: her children at the school were she works, my sister and I as children, and the possibility of my husband and I ever having children.

My mom was a stay-at-home mom. I said it's hard to imagine being able to afford staying at home with my future children. She said it's not easy, and because of it, we never had the best clothes or nicest things. 

That shocked me, because that's not how I remember my childhood at all.

"Why do you think you had to pay for your own car? College?" She said.

Sure, working and saving to pay for things was difficult, and I'm sure I was annoying about it at first, but I also learned the importance of hard work. If I wanted something, I'd have to work for it. Because of those lessons, I've never expected anything from anyone a single day of my life.

I remember having the most loving childhood imaginable. I felt lucky that my mom was at home taking care of us, and a lot of times she acted as both mom and dad, because my dad is a truck driver. I felt lucky to have her around because she went above and beyond the call of duty: she was room mom. She went on field trips. She helped run my Girl Scout troop. She was so involved in my life that I never took time to notice the clothes on my back. 

Her love carried us. And it still does to this day.

Every mom has a different job, every mom takes a different approach. I'm not here to say one is better than another, but I know that every mother shapes their child in their own unique way.

My mom? She taught me family over everything else. She taught me to be independent, smart, and encouraged me to try harder, be better. She even taught me to be a little hard-headed and stubborn, but that's come in handy more than most people would ever realize.

I love my mom; she's perfect just the way she is. I couldn't ask for a better mother.

Happy Mother's Day, momma. I love you so much.