Re-Engage with Your City!

This weekend will be our 13th weekend living in Nashville.

We haven't been home all 13 weekends (we've only been home for five of them) and I don't normally go around counting the weekend anniversaries of how long we have lived in a place, I promise, but something about it feels exciting.

Ryan and I spent the bulk of our growing up lives in the same towns. He grew up in Weatherford, Texas. I grew up in Duncanville, Texas. Then, we spent the first ten years of our marriage living in Dallas, Texas. And we love Texas, we love our hometowns and we love the life we created for ourselves as a couple in the city of Cowboys, Mavericks, margarita drinkers and Tex-Mex lovers.

But something about being in the same place for long periods of time stifles your ability to see the place for what it really is.

Somewhere along the way you get into a comfortable routine. You discover your favorite- or most convenient- restaurants. You find a group of friends, a favorite coffee shop, a church, a good local pub, a park that your kiddos dig, and your movie theatre of choice. Season that with a few annual events you attend each year, like the State Fair, a city-wide food festival and some Christmas events and you are set.

Set to get into a rut, that is!

Ryan and I lived in Dallas for so long that we stopped discovering Dallas.

In fact, we spent so much time excited to discover and explore other cities we traveled to, that we became experts on... Seattle. Santa Monica. New York. Chicago. St.Louis. Boston. We fell in love with their food, their art galleries, their beaches, music and eclectic city-wide events. And while I could tell you about some of the unique experiences you could have in Dallas- much of it would be hearsay. Because for the most part, I indulged in unique experiences in other cities and then bemoaned my own as lacking.

Was Dallas lacking? Or was I safe in my bubble of friends, neighbors, church and suburb? Was Dallas lacking or were we just lazy? During our last two years in Dallas we realized... drumroll please... we had simply been lazy and dreadfully unadventerous!

We spent our last year in Dallas going to these amazing events and places with Annie and then looking at each other saying, "What the heck have we been doing the past 8 years?!? This place is awesome!"

When we grow accustomed to 'our side of the city' and rely on our 'tested and proven favorites' we lose our sense of adventure and miss out on the amazing things our cities have to offer. (Oh, this is so Benjamin Franklin of me. Promoting the shared sense of community and civic goodness of local city events. He would be so proud. And I am officially a Ben Franklin dork and creepster.)

So when we moved to Nashville, we decided we would not make the same mistake again. And we are learning that the most exciting part of starting-from-scratch is the possibility of discovery and adventure. We are embracing everything this city has to offer- or at least giving it a fair shot!

As such- we find ourselves looking forward to each weekend wondering what we will discover. We won't always spend every single weekend going and doing (that would leave us exhausted and broke) but at least during this season, we are exploring our way through this city and enjoying every second of it. Last weekend was the zoo- with the most incredible children's playground I have ever seen. A rooftop restaurant for our anniversary. The free East Nashville Tomato Art Festival and a free city-wide, big band dance at the park! It was the most delightful event, with the most eclectic hodge-podge group of people ever. Over a thousand people dancing under paper lanterns and stars? For free?

It's funny. I meet people who have moved here or have lived here their entire adult lives and I get so excited to talk to them about the amazing things this city has to offer and the usual response is, "Oh- I've heard that is amazing." And I get it. I get living in the same place for a long time and forgetting what's right in front of your nose. I get being in a rut. I spent a long time there.

But I just want to shake them and say, "Go explore your city!"

So now that I have poured out all my city-love dorkiness, I ask you, what are your plans this weekend? Are you trying anything new? Why not! As in, why not try something you've "always heard is great." Go hike that trail, try that restaurant, visit the city library or eat the world-famous cinnamon rolls made by the old ladies that you've always heard about in your small downtown. Take your kids to a different park, shop in a different grocery store. Get on a subway line going the opposite direction of normal! Re-engage with your city! Take an adventure!

and if you do...

Leave a comment and let me know what you discovered!

The Becoming


5:49 a.m.

I am wide awake.

Keenly aware of the fact that I feel lost. Like driftwood. Churned up by the storms and spit out in a different county, mangled, in a river I’ve never known.

Truth is, it all hit at once.

I’ve walked through seasons of change, seasons of feeling lost before- but they were never so real or so deep as they are now.

5:55 a.m.

I am contemplating who I am. And how does that make any sense? And what am I to do with that? And who do I want to be? Not what do I want to do with my life- though it seems summing it up with a simple answer like that would make this process a lot easier- so not that. But who do I want to be? Who was I made to be? And do I have to be that? Or can I just kind of be that?  And who was that person anyways? I mean... the person I was made to be? Am I that person? Or a version of her? What’s left of her? Or is she being completely reinvented?

[I should insert here that I do not have multiple personalities. You know. Just in case you were starting to get concerned.]

These are the things you think you have figured out. You think you know yourself. And I suppose there are loads of well meaning people in the world who live simple lives never contemplating this stuff, never doing anything risky enough to feel lost, never sitting on the couch at 6:01 a.m. staring their demons in the face. But I am not that person.

I am a nearly 31 year old artist, wife and mom who feels like driftwood. Churned up by the storms and spit out in a different county, mangled, in a river I’ve never known.

Being all mangledy-bangledy is a good thing. At least that’s what preachers always say. Storms grow you up. Get rid of all the bad stuff in you. Refine you with their fire and hurricane-in-the-sky powers. You come out refined. And shinier. And stronger. And I agree, this can happen. But what of the in between time? Where you’re mangledy-bangledy.

Sometimes we skip that part. Instead, the image I often get is this: I walk into a trying season in my life as “Jenny” and I come out shortly there after on the other side as a smokin’ hot “Jenny 4.0” who has, somehow, become infinitely more beautiful, happy, mature, rich, and demon-free.

The In-Between

But what of the transformation period? Surely it does not simply occur because the season of hardship is behind you. So poof! Hardships have made you a more rich person.

It's messier than that. It’s a longer journey than the just enduring part. It’s the becoming part that leaves you stranded on the couch, morning after morning, 6:30 a.m. feeling keenly aware that you are in the in between. Not the girl I started out as- nor the better version- but somewhere in between. Trying to find my way home.

So that’s where I have been. Some of you have asked. And that‘s the only answer I can give.

I am in the in between. We are in the in between.

Not in a storm, but not the new shinier 4.0 version of myself either. Just somewhere in between... becoming. And the becoming process sucks. I don’t like change. And I don’t like living in the unknown. And I don’t like feeling so unsettled. Seems like by now I should have it all figured out. But I don’t.

And the truth is- I think that is exactly where I am supposed to be right now. Living in the unknown. The driftwood that’s been spit out three counties over- trying to get my bearings and wondering- what next?

With that being said...

I am working on a new album and writing songs that I’ve always wanted to write. Saying things I’ve always wanted to say. Writing with writers who are challenging me to go places I’ve never gone before with my music.

Ryan is no longer traveling with me. And that is the biggest of changes. He has taken a 8-5 job in Dallas that he loves- he was ready for something new- and yet he still believes in what I do and wants me to follow where it leads. Still, after 11 years of making music together and living side by side, 24 hours a day, traveling the world, there is a loneliness in doing what we have done together for so long, by myself.

We are trying to figure out what that looks like for Addison Road and what that means for our family. For now it means performing on weekends- taking Annie with me sometimes- or leaving her with her grandparents for the weekend so Ryan can recover from the work week. Sometimes Ryan will be with me, but mostly, he is getting used to his new world too- and apparently you working-world-folk live for the weekends. I don’t think Ryan or I had any concept of a “weekend” until the last five months.

We are realizing, that for most of the working world, scheduling a “date” night becomes one of the only ways to ensure that you have any amount of quality time together. Who knew? Who knew that weekends were for laundry, going to the park, and fixing things around the house? Who knew that cooking dinner every single night would almost make  eating undesirable? Who knew that getting your clothes starched at the cleaners- every week- could cost so much money (Did I mention that before Ryan took this new job, we didn’t even own an iron or ironing board? We have refused to buy a real board. We got a small fold up board that does absolutely no good. Still, it feels less domesticated and that makes us feel better about owning our very own iron.) Who knew that being a stay at home mom during the weeks would require so much energy, patience, wisdom, and mental stability- which I am severely lacking in?!?

These are the sorts of things you face in the in-between. In the becoming something new. One day you are ready to take on the new world. The next day you are begging for the old world. The next you are simply convinced that you were never convinced of anything in the world to begin with. It is a season marked by the unknown. Curiosity abounds. Excitement fights to shine through. Fear and self-doubt dominate. The kind of self-doubt that hits you over the head at the beginning of puberty, leaving you rattled and insecure and lost and overwhelmed with the possibilities of giving birth to a new person. A new version. If nothing else, the in between seasons are great reminders to hold life lightly. Hang on too tight- to your own version- and you are bound to be heartbroken.

Because there will, inevitably, always be a season of becoming.   

Aisle 7 and the Evil Spaghetti

My biggest break down during this season of in-between living was on Aisle 7 at Kroger.

I sat there staring at spaghetti. Some horrible 1980‘s Phil Collins song came on. I stared at the spaghetti longer. Harder. What do I cook for dinner? What do people cook for dinner? I had no idea. Being on tour for two years straight, I hadn’t cooked for my family. Not only had I not cooked, 99% of the time, I didn’t even have a choice over what I would eat. I showed up at a venue and the food was there. Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. I didn’t do any of it. I had no idea what to cook for dinner. I didn’t even know where to begin. The spaghetti started calling me names. And before I knew it, all the spaghetti boxes were talking, hovering over me, telling me that I had failed- as a mom, a wife, a musician, a cook- you name it and the spaghetti was screaming it at me.

And right there, on Aisle 7, between noodles and tomato sauce I began to sob and grieve the becoming. The in between.

Like driftwood. Churned up by the storms and spit out in a different county, mangled, in a river I’d never known. I was in the eye of the storm.

God love the old lady who said, “Sweetie are you ok?”

“I just don’t even know what to cook for dinner. I don’t even know what to buy,” I said through sobs- massive sobs- on Aisle 7.

“Well, sweetie, you should just do take-out. Leave the buggy right here. Go get in your car. And do take-out. You do not need to cook a thing tonight. You just leave this buggy right here. It will take care of itself.”

“Ok. Ok. You’re right. Pizza will work won’t it? I just. I just don’t even know what to put on the noodles. You know? I just can’t believe this,” I left the basket in a daze, sobbing, shoulders shaking, Phil Collins singing something about love in the background.

Poor lady.

Sometimes you just need the permission to be broken down. To not know what to cook. To leave the buggy, full of perishables, right in the middle of Aisle 7. She was there to give me permission. Permission to be afraid. Permission to cry. Permission to feel lost. Permission to go home- let it fall like rain onto my pillow- and then rise, ready to start over again. And you do start over again. I am starting over again.

Inevitably, the hope and excitement of the unknown shines through the clouds. And eventually, the clouds roll away all together.


So this is me. This is Ryan and I. This is us. We have weathered storms- and found ourselves in a season of complete change. To put a bow on it for you and wrap it up nicely would be to deny that we are walking through the much needed- albeit much dreaded season- of becoming. So I can’t do that. No cliche’ quotes or scripture verses about not worrying or about faith in God’s plan or the future... though it is there, the faith. It is there. But the truth is, we are still living in the uncertainty- and I hate it. I am working through my lostness, and no amount of faith takes away the fear and loneliness that accompanies drifting down a river, trying to find your way home... to your new home. Becoming something different and refined along the way.

A bit of holy fear and loneliness during the becoming is good for my soul- whether I like it or not.

This isn’t about Addison Road. I really believe the songs we are writing for the next Addison Road album are the best we’ve ever written. This isn’t about Ryan and his desire for a new career.  This is bigger than a job. Bigger than paychecks or talents and skills.

This is about going from storms- to mangledy bangledy- to coming out on the other side, bottom of the river- looking different than ever before.

This is the in between season. Of growing into my skin. Of redefining. Of growing up. Of becoming.

*Thank you to Paul Allen for encouraging me to write this blog. To Karen Briseno for enduring with me during the silent in-between. And for the rest of you who still come here to share life with me.*

On Domestication...

Dear Becky... Thank you for inquiring as to my whereabouts!

I am living in a strange and foreign land.

I have a real live toilet (not a nasty tour-bus toilet). My daughter has a semi-schedule. And I have slept in my own bed more in the last three months than I have in two years straight. In this strange land, I have friends that I actually share meals with, and I am realizing this is a lot more sweet than sharing text messages. In this land, I cook my own meals; there is no maid to make the bed and clean the bathroom while I'm away for the afternoon. I clean baseboards, teach my daughter how to spell her name, and I touch chicken guts more times during a week than anyone should ever have to do.

In this land of suburbia, I am learning a new normal. And when my heart aches to get on an airplane or I worry about losing my frequent flyer status; I crave to sleep in a Hilton bed or I miss being on stage telling my stories and singing my heart out; I remember, this will not always be my normal. This is just normal for now.

And for now, I am trying to fall head-0ver-heels into this new phase of life because it is a gift to be here. To be now. To be all that I can be for my daughter and my husband. For so long, I have given so much of myself to so many people that it seems foreign to pour all of that into a small circle of people. But God is showing me, in a multitude of ways, the beauty of sewing seeds into my family during this time in our lives.

I admit, I have days where I fight it. Days where I want to crawl back into my tour-bus bunk bed and get back to the life I was once living. But then I see Annie look at a bug. Nose to nose with a little bug. And her eyes light up and she says, "Oh my goodness! Buggy is sleeping!"

I don't have the heart to tell her that buggy is as dead as a doornail.

Right now I am taking the time and space to pour myself into her, Ryan, my family, my friends, and my church. Oh yeah, and myself. Having the gift of  being still, present, and available to the ones I love the most is amazing. So I am trying to fight my own selfishness; and I am embracing domesticity. For a little while, I will put my own dreams on hold while I teach my daughter and watch her explore the world. And in a little while- when she wanders the hall of her kindergarten- and I find myself back to singing, writing, and traveling- I will wonder how she grew up so fast and I will ache for these days once more.

I have missed writing and missed my sweet blog family that has joined me here on my journey the last few years. Now that we have established a "new normal" I will get back to writing out the stories that make this life great. And I hope you will join me once again...

Here are some pictures of my journey into domesticity.

This kid is only smiling because she is not the one who is actually cooking.

In the land of domesticity, I made my first ever chicken. I had to pull its stomach guts out and that was disgusting.

The end product was beautiful. And, in my attempt to be a real Marth Stewart, I took the carcass and made my own chicken stock. Wow. I never thoought I would utter those words.

My favorite cooking attempt has been a series of homemade muffins. I like watching Annie press her face to the oven to watch them "grow."

There is the "sleeping" buggy. No, she is not eating it. But she likes to get nose to nose with buggies and talk to them.

Some things are changing. In fact, some days I feel like my whole world is changing. But if you find yourself in the midst of change like me, remember, some things never change.

Like my love for taking pictures of clouds.

Clouds. They are always moving and reshaping. But ultimately, they do not change. They always exist. Always have. Always will. Sometimes they just look different. Sometimes they take on a new normal. Sometimes we take on a new normal.

Here's to living IN the new normal...