I was pulling out of a rest area near Knoxville on a Monday, the second day of my drive back to Nashville from Richmond, VA for the Christmas holidays. It had been a good break - about 20 minutes sitting under the trees, writing down the song that had been forming in my head during the drive. It was a cold but beautiful day – and that brisk air has a way of opening your eyes! As I walked Sierra back to the car, we were inspired by a father and son playing Frisbee, so I retrieved Sierra’s from the car, and we showed them how a Frisbee team really works – much to their amusement!
As I began to pull away, I was struck by how many people were traveling with their dogs. The first was a little Jack Russell that gleefully chased his owner on a skateboard down a conveniently downhill sidewalk. The second was a huge Saint Bernard being walked by little girl tinier than it was, along with Mom. The third dog I noticed was still in a car, waiting patiently for her escape. THAT, I knew, was Sita.
How I knew that dog was “Sita” is beyond peculiar - so peculiar that I pulled over to the side of the rest area exit. I recognized the station wagon, and the Vermont license plates. Then I saw the lady standing at the back of the car – in her 60s with kind eyes, hair in a ball cap, and dressed for days of driving. I recognized her, but I did not know her, or even her name. But I knew Sita’s name, and she knew Sierra’s.
On Sunday, the day before, I stopped in a rest area near Roanoke, VA. That rest area was not quite as accommodating as today’s, and I had to keep Sierra on a short leash while maneuvering through people and other dogs. While walking her, I noticed a beautiful retriever with a striking copper color. I called up to her owner to tell her how beautiful her dog was, and she invited me to bring Sierra up to play. We stood there talking while Sierra and Sita played for a few minutes, and she told me that she was on her way to Arizona to a large gem / jewelry convention, where she would buy stock that she resells to retailers during the year. I told her that I was a musician, and that I was returning to Nashville that night after spending the holidays and playing some shows in Virginia. We talked for a few moments about the weather – and how she was ready to escape the cold in Vermont, and I wished her luck with that! We then parted ways, and I saw her pass me on the interstate a few moments after we both pulled out of the rest area.
I really thought nothing of it, as I continued my drive. But the further down the road I got, the more I realized I would probably not make it back to Nashville that night. The sinus pressure was one thing – but what was really getting me was missing the last 3 days’ doses of my low blood pressure medicine. I somehow only took 1 week’s supply on my 10-day trip to Virginia, and when I don’t take it, I fall asleep – or pass out – very easily. Fortunately, I had a friend near Knoxville that put me up for the night.
I woke up Monday, refreshed and ready for the second part of my trip. I decided that since I only had about 3 ½ more hours to go, I would really take my time and enjoy the day. So I drove leisurely, taking in the beautiful mountains in East Tennessee. A song had been buzzing around in my head, and when the batteries in my hand-held recorder had died, I had to stop. Since I was stopping, I decided to go ahead and write down the words that I had already, then play Frisbee with Sierra for a while. It was then that I got back in the car, pulled away, and saw Sita.
When I first saw Sita, the Vermont license plate, and the lady from yesterday - I have to be honest – the first thought that flashed through my mind was, “is this lady following me?” I pulled my car over to the side of the rest area exit. I walked up to her, and the look on her face indicated that she was probably wondering the same thing that I instinctively had! I greeted her, and she must have moved quickly past any apprehension she may have had, because she reached out to hug me. We talked for a moment about how uncanny it was to run into each other – on two different days! I mean, it’s possible that 2 travelers run into each other on the same day in 2 rest areas, but for both travelers to stop in completely different places – I had gone 20 miles off the interstate to where I stayed – was just plain odd. She invited Sierra to come play with Sita, but I told her that we had been there for a while, and were just leaving. I gave her one of my new CDs, and told her that now she would have something to listen to on her long trip to Arizona! She looked at the album “Gypsy of Love” and chuckled, saying that she had been called a gypsy a time or two!
I pulled away from this second rest area, shaking my head in disbelief. I didn’t know why or how this connection had happened, but I felt that it must have happened for a reason! As I drove down I-40, I realized that I didn’t even know her name. It really didn’t matter, I just couldn’t stop thinking about how random the situation had been. I sent a text to a friend, saying “you are NOT going to believe what just happened!” Then, of course, I spent the next 20 minutes on the phone telling the story.
Since I was taking my time, I made a stop at Starbucks for some coffee, and one at Chick-Fil-A for lunch. I had finally gotten back up to speed when I realized that my gas light was on, and I wondered why I hadn’t seen that when I was off the highway getting food and coffee? Regardless, I began looking for the next exit with a gas station. I bypassed one exit, because it didn’t have the type of station I was looking for. I noticed a Shell at the next exit, so I pulled off the highway, and into the gas station. I filled up, then as I was hanging the nozzle back on the pump, time stood still for a moment as I watched that station wagon with Vermont plates pull into the Shell station.
She didn’t even see me – just pulled up to a pump, got out, and headed for the door. I started walking towards her, and as I did, I called to her, “this is just getting a little uncanny!” She stopped still, turned, and looked at me with disbelief in her eyes. And it WAS uncanny… to run into a total stranger 3 times in a row, over 2 different days, when we both obviously had our own agenda was beyond uncanny… We let Sierra and Sita play in the huge field beside the gas station, and we talked for about 20 minutes. I finally learned her name – her mother named her Velvet, after the girl in the horse movie National Velvet. We talked about what seemed most important at the time – our beliefs in things spiritual and things “meant to be”. We both tried to look for the purpose, although the “purpose” in things like this is not always evident. Her initial observation was that the connection could be music, since she knows many songwriters and musicians. OR, she said that more likely, Someone was looking out for her on this long road trip. At 63, she shared, the yearly buying trips were seeming longer and harder to drive.
Whatever the purpose – we know there was one, and that’s all that really matters. Velvet and Sita followed me back to Nashville, treated me to a wonderful dinner, and we shared stories and sang songs like we were old friends. She and Sita stayed in my guest bedroom that night, and sneaked out in the morning without even waking me (bless her heart… ; )
Today is Thursday – January 1, 2009 – a new day in a new year, and so I’ve had a couple of days to reflect on this situation. Was there any great lesson to be learned in any of this? Any earth-shattering revelation? That’s for each one of us to decide, but for me, the lesson was a refresher course in having faith – not fear - in people. In opening your eyes and seeing what is right in front of you. In being available to be used by God to help someone in need – or even just offering a hand in hospitality or friendship.
On this day, I resolve to keep my eyes open – not because it’s a New Year – but because it is a wonderful, exciting life with SO very much to offer!
My best to you, and all the love, happiness and blessings to you and yours in 2009.
CD RELEASE Party for "Gypsy of Love"!
Date: Friday, March 20, 2009
Time: 7:00pm - 9:00pm
Location: The Camel (1621 W Broad Street, Richmond, VA)
Thank you so much for your patience with this! Because of my original venue closing, the show has been moved to The Camel, a great Richmond music venue. The show will be a bit earlier than I intended, but the show will go on - which is the important part! : )
The Camel is on West Broad near the intersection of Broad and Boulevard. There is street parking or you may park in the Lowe's parking lot across the street. They have GREAT food, a full bar and is a non-smoking venue. Doors open at 7pm and the music will start around 7:30. The show will be over by 9pm. There will be a $5 cover at the door. Thanks so much, as always, for your support!
What a week! Monday through Wednesday nights were spent in Lula, Mississippi playing shows at a casino, Thursday I was heading back to Nashville to spend one night in my own bed, Friday night was spent packing for my trip to Virginia and driving through the night to get here, and I just got off a stage in New Kent, VA after playing a very successful Relay for Life event for the American Cancer Society… So in answer to the many questions I’ve heard lately like “where are you?”, “what have you been doing?”, and “why haven’t we heard anything from you?” – that may be your answer! The last few months have been very, very busy – I have been playing more regularly in Nashville now, and I have also been on the road quite a bit. But I am so glad to be back in my home state of Virginia!
MERCHANDISE / T-SHIRTS
The first run of t-shirts are almost all gone! There are a few Ladies’ long-sleeved tees and Men’s white short-sleeved tees left, but I have a whole new inventory! There are new Ladies’ tank tops and tees, and I got feedback from the guys that you preferred darker shirts – so I have new Men’s tees in Black, Navy, and Gray. If you’re interested in purchasing a t-shirt, they are available for sale at all shows, or email me if you’d like to order one to be shipped to you. I also am now able to accept credit cards.
I apologize for the delay in sharing my schedule for my trip, but here it is! Besides the show tonight, I will also be playing every night Tuesday through Sunday of next week! I have some new venues this time – including the Bull & Bear Club downtown, and Bar Louie in the Short Pump area, so I hope you’ll come out and help me make a good showing!
Just wanted to let you all know a few things about the show tonight... if you're planning on coming to the Bull & Bear Club, I'll be playing from 7 - 10pm. The dress code is business casual, so no jeans, t-shirts, hats, etc. but you do NOT need to wear a suit or tie. Polo and button-up shirts for guys are fine. PARKING - there is free parking after 5:45pm in the parking deck under the James Center Building on Canal Street. FOOD - the food is WONDERFUL and the kitchen is open until 10pm.
Thank you SO MUCH to the MANY people who came out to Market Cafe last night for the show. It was great to see familiar faces, and some I hadn't seen in quite a while!! It was a bit eventful, being in 100 degree heat and in the direct sunlight... I made it through 3 and a half (yes - a half) songs before having to exit the stage to avoid an on-stage fainting spell... After drinking several bottles of water, having my sister fan me and put ice cubes all over my (somehow blistered) arms, and my 2-year old niece feeding my ice cubes (pretty hilarious itself!), I finally was able to go back on stage. I got through another half of a song before looking up to see that same sister down on the ground... Not a good feeling when you're on stage! Thanks to everyone who has shown concern - she did go in to be checked out and was diagnosed with the same low blood pressure problem that I have, and she is fine. You all were so supportive, and I appreciate it so much! Hope to see you tonight!
The last 6 months have brought so many opportunities - I hardly know where to begin… Unbelievably, next month marks the 3rd anniversary of my moving to Nashville! Although I tend to be hard on myself, it’s actually rewarding to look back at some of the things I’ve accomplished over the last year. In 2009, I have already played twice as many dates as I played in all of 2008! August will only add to that number – my busiest month yet!
When I moved to Nashville, I was encouraged by some – and discouraged by others – that it takes a LONG time to get a start in this town! I’ve heard Nashville called “the 10-year town” because of how long it can take to make significant progress here. Without patience and tenacity, it’s so easy to become discouraged or quit! It’s hard to understand why it takes so long, given the opportunities here in Nashville, but you are surrounded by other musicians who are trying to make it, and it’s a hard town to make money in, partially because of the competition! A lot of musicians end up traveling and playing shows in other towns, especially their home town, as I’ve done. Despite the difficulty, I – like most other musicians – stay because of the amazing opportunities for musicians here. I am surrounded by other musicians and writers that understand and share my way of life and my passion. There are so many opportunities to meet and interact with musicians and writers on various levels of success – from the beginner to those who have achieved international success. There are a number of resources to support and further my career. And there is ALWAYS somewhere to go to hear good live music!
"GYPSY OF LOVE" AVAILABLE ON ITUNES I have been anxiously awaiting the digital distribution of my latest album – “Gypsy of Love” – and it is here! It is now also available at CD Baby! Both of my previous albums, “Kari” and “go with you” are also available on iTunes and CD Baby.
UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY - 8/20 at GAP When I saw the “free submission” email from SonicBids, host of my EPK (electronic press kit), about performing at a live acoustic event hosted by GAP, I submitted my press kit – not because I thought I’d be selected, but because it seemed like an interesting idea and the submission was free! Receiving the “SELECTED” message today was really exciting for me – not just because I get free jeans (although I like that part too… ;) but because it’s such a unique opportunity – being part of the largest simultaneous live acoustic music event ever! On August 20, 2009, every GAP store in the U.S. and Canada will host an exclusive, live acoustic music night to celebrate Gap’s 40 years of heritage in jeans and music. This event is open to the public, so come on out! Event will be held at the GAP store in Patrick Henry Mall in Newport News, VA.
NEW SUMMER MERCHANDISE If you haven’t seen the summer merchandise, it's here and available for sale at all live shows! The first round of merch was so successful that it’s back – with more colors and styles for ladies and men! We are working to get merch available online, and hope to see that soon!
LOVE MY SPONSORS I truly appreciate the contributions of my sponsors, especially Mary Kay Director Marti Hall, who so generously provides all of my makeup and cosmetics! The products she provides make traveling SO much easier, and they give me options for my “stage look”, which is slightly different from the everyday look. :) Check out her website and please consider using her for your Mary Kay needs – and tell her I sent you!
A few nights ago, I was reading through one of my journals and found the entry I have typed out below. When this was written, I had been living in Nashville for 5 months.
January 15, 2007 at 3:34am
I realized tonight that I am finally in a place in my life where I can realize things about myself. It’s this process of peeling layers back until I can figure out what’s really going on. Peel back the layers of stability, comfort, and complacency. That’s where it gets tough – pulling back the layers of expectations, approval, criticism. Even then, more layers come up, many that I didn’t even know were there.
I frequently have people ask me how I've "made it" in Nashville, "made it" as a musician, or they've just made general comments or compliments about my persistence in this career, and I thought I'd share this with all of you.
After working at Capital One for 5 years, I was obviously devastated when I was laid off in 2005. I was offered the option to stay with the company in a different job and still have pay, benefits, and overall stability, but it was too late for that. The immediate blow of sitting in that room and being told that I no longer had a job overwhelmed my need for stability and sent my mind into territory it had never seen before. In trying to figure out what I would need to survive, I unexpectedly began to discover what I didn’t need. These were the layers I began to peel back.
Although stability is something I thrive on, I had to have it taken away to truly find myself. Being unemployed and suddenly having the career world “as my oyster” made me realize I could do whatever I wanted – not just what paid the most and had the best benefits. It’s healthy to have a routine, but I realized then that changing it makes you grow – especially when you the changes are out of your control! Losing the financial stability was also hard, but it was amazing to learn how much I could live without. I learned to be more resourceful when I lost that bi-weekly direct deposit - working for myself meant I was directly and solely responsible for any level of success or failure. There was no hourly rate, no salary, no limits to what I could do other than my own energy, ability, drive, and determination.
The layers of comfort and complacency were hard to pull back! I sold my beloved big diesel truck and bought a smaller car. I went from owning a nice house in the suburbs to renting a room in an apartment in downtown Nashville in close proximity to constant sirens. I went from having a steady paycheck and benefits to making 4 figures and living without health insurance. I moved 600 miles away from where almost all my family and friends were to a city where I knew absolutely no one. I left a boyfriend, my dog, and everything else that didn’t fit in a 5x8 trailer (the other two 15-foot UHaul trucks didn't come until much later!) and had no idea what my new circumstances would be. It was terrifying. I was tripped up by the unexpected – extensive injuries and losses from a car accident 2 months later, a housing market that kept me from selling my house, learning that seeing only the good in people can be dangerous. I never lived out of my car or went hungry, but it was SO important to stretch myself mentally and emotionally – not because I had no other options, but because it let me discover myself in a different way. I had to get rid of the tangible “stuff” that I was accustomed to having and learn who I was and how to be happy based solely on those intangible things we all can have regardless of how much we make – self-worth, personal relationships, beliefs, goals, hopes, and dreams.
I have always had high expectations of myself and that can definitely be a good thing, but I had to take a closer look at my expectations of myself to see if they were realistic, attainable, and healthy. Even more, it was important to figure out which expectations were my own, and which had been imposed on me by others, whether deliberately or subconsciously. At the end of the day, I am personally responsible for my happiness and success, so I had to discern and eliminate any expectations that weren’t my own.
The approval and criticism layers were elusive, because it’s easy to ignore your need for approval or fear of criticism until you make the move that draws them out. Peeling back those layers was so hard for me because I am a people-pleaser, often to a fault. There are plenty of critics of my chosen career, especially since I have the education and experience to do what they see as “so much more”. Some skeptics have changed their criticism to approval, and although proving my ability to succeed is satisfying, I had to learn that I don’t need the approval any more than I needed the criticism. Criticism hurts and approval is rewarding when they come from someone whose opinion matters, but it’s your response – even if it means not responding - that matters.
I’ve found other “layers” along the way, and I’m sure there are many more, but underneath them all is KARI – who I am, and what makes me happy, healthy, and fulfilled. Learning to understand, appreciate, and nurture who I am at that profound level drives my success in this business – or in any other.