2018 may have been the best year ever. Heck, on New Year’s Day 2018 we were playing on the beach in Newport Beach and saw a pod of dolphins swim past! I played some great shows solo and with my band, Star Belle, went on tour with two of my closest friends Emily White and Katie Dahl, Emily Dunbar and I released our first Bluestem Psalter collection of Liturgical Americana, went on a roadtrip with my family through St. Louis, Nashville, Arkansas then Kerrville, played the New Folk contest, stayed for the song school, laughed and laughed with my fellow New Folkers, drove there and back to New York City, went to the Netherlands and Germany with my son, Sammy, and played some of the BEST SHOWS OF MY LIFE SO FAR, was invited to join Catalyst 19 to discover my Next Best Self, joined up with a Life Coaching class that has blown my mind, quit my job and committed to full-time music.

That’s not too shabby and I’m probably leaving some stuff out that I can’t remember.

That was a pretty kickass year. All the while betwixt and between that cool stuff, I was falling into potholes and forgetting how to climb out, sinking in worry and self-doubt and making life harder than it should be. I did amazing life-changing things then turned around and forgot all about them and felt sorry for myself that this thing called music just “wasn’t working.”

Because I HEART STRUGGLE.

Can I make it harder? Then I will. Can I turn fun into a bummer? You betcha. Can I worry my way into convincing myself I suck? Oh, I’m so good at that.

And knowing is half the battle, you guys. It totally is.

Turns out, 2019 is going to be the best year ever. No question. THE BEST YEAR EVER. But, Hope, you say, “You saw a pod of dolphins swimming in the ocean last year on Jan.1. You cannot possibly repeat that kind of nature-y fireworks in 2019.”

Maybe. I wonder who the dolphins told after they saw me playing catch on the beach last year. Did they tell the sea lions who told the fisherman who told the airline hostess who told the pilot who had a stopover in Lincoln who told the barkeep at The Zoo Bar, who told my friend, Mike who then told the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders to come to my house and surprise me on January 1, 2019? Maybe. May. Be.

All I know is that my mom would never buy that spray detangler stuff my other 2nd grade friends had their moms spray in their hair to make brushing endurable which is why, to this day, I rarely if ever brush my hair.

If there were an over-the-counter struggle detangler that, with a few spritzes helped release the death grip I have on struggle, then I’d totally buy all of it. Before that day comes when I find it hiding in plain sight in a CVS, I’m going to practice saying YES to myself more and taking the power away from struggle bit by bit.

Tomorrow I’m driving 8 hours to go see Cory Branan play a set in Chicago. Because he’s one my most favorite songwriters these days and, to me, he is fearless and strong and angry and humble and thoughtful and vulnerable all at the same time. It’s inspiring. It makes me want to write better and try to do what he does but from my point of view.

A roadtrip to a show is crazy, but it’s just what I need to let go of struggle and embrace the freedom of the right now and the joy that’s out there for the taking. Just like putting out the good china on a Tuesday, making homemade invitations for an upcoming house concert, applying makeup and earrings even when I’m working from home, creating a workspace I love because I’m worth it. All that shit. Goodbye struggle, in whatever form you take. I might stay home and never see a dolphin or a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader for the entire 2019, but that won’t take away from its greatness. I’m going to be taking care of myself and being kind to myself.

And that’s why it’ll be the best year ever. I hope you are gearing up for the same. Peace.

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