I had an amazing summer. St. Louis, Nashville, Arkansas, Kerrville, New York City, Chicago, Amsterdam and Germany. I sang my songs, people bought my record, I drove miles and miles with my boys in the passenger seat. We listened to everything in the FM dial and then we played our favorite songs and listened to podcasts to pass the hours. 

I knew I had it good. I knew I was having adventures way above my paygrade. A woman like me shouldn't get to have a summer like that. But I did.

 Kerrville Folk Festival 2018

Kerrville Folk Festival 2018

 New York City, Central Park July 2018

New York City, Central Park July 2018

 A Canal in Amsterdam July 2018

A Canal in Amsterdam July 2018

And so as not to get carried away or get too comfortable I gave myself a job. I told myself that all these days, all these places and experiences were to help me consider one big question:

"What does my next best self look like?"

I brought a journal. I wrote it in faithfully and reflected on the people I was meeting, the places I was seeing, the feelings I had and the discoveries I was making in hopes of discerning clues and footsteps that would get me where I need to go. That place just around the corner that I can't see yet.

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This is what my current self looks like. Not great, not terrible, just self.  She just got off work, she just went for groceries, she's thinking about what to cook for dinner. She washed the floors at work, her own house needs some attention. She's worried about how much screen time the kids are getting, how much housework there is to do, how many thank you notes she hasn't written, loads of laundry she hasn't done, how beauty standards are really messing with her head and is getting comfortable in your own aging, flabby skin a sign of power or a sign of weakness? I guess it depends on the day.

So I wrote about it all. I wrote about the gigs, the camping, the fun, the laughter, the service, the connections and the beauty of this terrible, wonderful world and I looked for signs and notions to help me along.

 Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, Germany

Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, Germany

 Verden, Germany

Verden, Germany

 Verden concert July 30, 2018

Verden concert July 30, 2018

There must be a reason that a girl like me gets a summer like this and it must tell me something about the kind of work I need to do next.

But here I am. Afraid of all of it. Afraid to embrace what I was given, afraid to entertain the notion of something better, afraid to question whether it's OK to let four more years float by while waiting tables and washing clothes.

Seriously, you guys. My next best self is hiding under a blanket somewhere and my current self isn't doing a darn thing about it. 

But here's what I know. I've been in this state before. I'll get out of it again, for sure. I don't like being here where I feel powerless and fearful, but I do know there's this other side of me that can show up and do crazy, interesting, brave things. 

I think she's planning on making an appearance this evening somewhere near Elkhorn, NE. She looks more like my next best self than I do at the moment and maybe that's the clue I need to notice. There's a tug of war that goes on within us all between our better and weaker selves. Our sinners and our saints. We've just got to find out how to give more power to the new creation and less to the old Adam that died years and years ago, but who's ghost still thinks its got a shot at taking over for good.

That picture of that lady in this post? That's me. Best and worst and everything in between all at the same time. She clocks out smelling like french fries and then she writes about it like she's got a right to, then goes sings it in front of stranger. I should be like that girl.That girl hopes you see her doing crazy things and that you feel like you've got permission to become the next best you. Love, Hope

 

 

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