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Monday, November 16, 2015

You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one...


"In a gentle way, you can shake the world." - Mahatma Gandhi
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I’ve been introspective, emotional and a deep thinker since I was young. It’s difficult to not be affected by sadness I see in the world. I’ve been told that I care “too much” and it's hard for me to let go. I constantly hear, “You can’t save the world.” My mom has been telling me my whole life, “Kare, sometimes you just have to let it go.” (many of those being times when she has to remind me that I can’t bring home EVERY animal I find on the street and yes, I know she has a point, but it's a very hard thing for me to accept, you guys). 

I will admit, I need to learn how to be better at letting some things go, especially things I cannot change or control. I'm learning to understand that God has a plan and I can’t fix people or situations overnight, as much as I often wish I could. 
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I was walking on some of my favorite trails yesterday, talking to God, talking to myself, contemplating life, and I was thinking about kindness, how I use my time and how I can have a more positive impact on the world.

I was talking to God about how I feel helpless and lost in certain situations in my life. I asked him, do the things I try to do even matter? Does trying to open my heart and give kindness to someone or trust someone even matter? Because it sucks when it backfires or when I get let down or disappointed. Wouldn't it just be easier if I didn't care so much? Can I really change the world? 

God has this way of boldly hitting me with answers when I ask him questions. I sort of feel like it’s payback for all the years that he put answers to my questions and my prayers right in front of me and I refused to acknowledge them and then complained that he never gave me any answers or help. Now, just to be sure I get his messages, he'll put them right in front of me in the most fantastically blunt way. 

I looked up the trail a little ways and saw this young girl, her little brother and their dad sitting on a bench with plastic pails on the ground in front of them. I kind of just watched them for a couple seconds in their special moment together. As I walked by the little girl looked up at me with the brightest brown eyes, waved her hand enthusiastically and said, “Hi!” 

“Hello!” I responded, thinking that would be the end of our exchange. 

“Whatcha doing?” She asked. 

“Oh just walking, it’s such a pretty day.” I answered.

“Oh. Wanna know what we’re doing?” She asked. 

By that point I had stopped walking and I was standing on the trail in front of them.

“Sure,” I answered. Her dad gave me a smile. 

“Well," she said, "we are collecting leaves and acorns to make fall crafts! See!” She tilted her bucket of acorns toward me.

“Holy smokes! That sounds so cool! What are you gonna make?” 

“We’re gonna put sparkles on the acorns and make ornaments and hang them and we’re gonna make the leaves light up!" 

Her dad interjected, “We’re going to put the leaves and lights inside vases and make some cool decorations, huh?” 

“Yes!” She said, it’s going to be so fun!” Her little brother’s face lit up at the mention of "fun."

“Well, that sounds so neat you guys. I hope you have so much fun!” 

By this point another couple who had been walking by with their dog also stopped so the little boy could pet the dog, and were inadvertently in on the conversation about the sparkly acorns.

“Do you want one?” She asked me. “We could make you one if you want one.” Her dad smiled again. “We're going to give lots of them away to people." 

"Oh you are?" I asked. 

"Yeah. I like leaves a lot and I want to make them for people who don’t have anything like that and then I could give them one of these and then it will make them happy.” 

This is that part where I always imagine God leaning back, looking at me with a smirk on his face asking, ‘Is that enough? Do you need some more clarification on your questions, orrrr?” 

[Yup, I got it, God. Thanks.] 

I knelt down in front of her and I said, “I think that is the nicest thing I’ve ever heard of someone doing. You are going to make so many people smile with your kindness. They are going to see all the sparkles and be so happy!”

“I know!” She said, agreeing with the brightest smile on her face. “I can’t wait! I like making people happy!” I gave her a high five and told her I hoped they all had the best time and stood back up to go. Her dad mouthed, “Thank you,” and smiled. 

As I walked away I couldn’t help but smile and I was immediately inspired to do something nice for someone.

Little things matter. 

That little girl just inspired kindness in me and the other couple who stopped with the idea of sparkly acorns and leaves. How could any gesture of kindness, no matter how big, not matter? 

Holding the door open for someone, smiling at someone, giving up your seat to a person on the bus, looking up from your phone and saying hello to someone as they walk by, being patient with the mom in front of you at the grocery store with three kids crawling all over the cart who just needs an extra minute to find her wallet, it all matters. 

We are self-involved people following our own agendas. All of us. It's the world we live in and we go days without thinking about how anything we are do affects someone else's well-being. Think about how much generosity and consideration would be floating around this world if we all took a couple minutes out of each day to help someone. It really can be as simple as smiling and saying hello to a stranger. I think we get so used to seeing tragedy and heartbreak and hearing gossip and bad news that we forget the power of one smile or one kind gesture. One small act of love can change someone’s entire day. That’s huge! Every time you do something kind for someone it sparks kindness in them and others around who witness it. Those moments of kindness stay with people and inspire them to be kinder the next time they are in a situation where they can help someone.

No, I can’t save the world...not in one day. 

But I CAN save the world over time. 

I can. 
You can. 

We can save the world in tiny bits each day by being forces for good. When you think about it, what does putting negativity out into the world actually achieve? Five seconds of satisfaction when you hit the ‘post’ button on Facebook sharing how much your job sucks, or how much you hate your ex for being a cheater or how pissed you are at the people who live below you who’s baby never stops crying. What does that accomplish?

Nothing.
It accomplishes nothing.

Nothing except maybe a few worthless minutes of self gratification and drawing attention to a situation in a negative light. 

It doesn’t solve the real problem. 

It doesn’t make your job suck any less, or your ex any less of a cheater or your neighbor’s baby any less loud. 

The real problem is that we are constantly bombarded by garbage and negativity, and then we deal with it by sharing more garbage and negativity. We get so neck deep in our own issues that we can’t spare even a couple minutes to try to understand a situation before we complain about it. We're so busy wading through the garbage that we miss opportunities to do something decent for someone else. We miss the things that are good, the things that are right in front of us. 

Let’s change it. 

What if you made it a point to do one kind thing everyday. You don’t have to paint sparkles on acorns and make them into ornaments for strangers. It can be as simple as making eye contact with someone and smiling, writing someone a letter, calling a family member or a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, apologizing first, complimenting a good parent on the great job they're doing raising their kids, offering understanding to a situation that’s hard to understand, asking someone if they need a hand, holding the door for someone, buying a homeless person lunch, donating clothing or toys or food to the homeless shelter in your area, adopting a pet, deciding not to buy a certain product because it is not ethically produced, commenting something positive and uplifting or funny on your social media rather then something negative. 

You can do whatever is within your means, but do something

There are hundreds of simple ways we can help people. Many of these things can be done in the time it takes to scroll through your Instagram or Facebook feed, really. We just have to do it. 

Imagine the cycle of love and understanding we can create if we put kindness and positivity into the world everyday, if we think about our words and whether or not they are helpful or hurtful before we spit them out and if we spend a little bit more time each day being aware of what is happening around us. 

Because acts of kindness and love breed kindness and love in others. 

Imagine how our perspectives can change if we ask someone how they're doing and actually listen to their answer. How much can our lives change if we spend more time being grateful for the blessings we already have and less time thinking about what we don’t have? 

Let's spend more time outside. Let's use some of the seconds of our days to look at the sky, breath and actually think about how amazing the world is. Our lives can drastically change if we practice this sort of behavior.

You actually have the power to change the world. I mean, we all have that power, literally at our fingertips. That's incredible! We simply have to make a choice to use the power we have in a positive way. 

It doesn’t mean you have to be a sunshiny, sparkly beacon of positivity and light every single day. That’s unrealistic. We are human. We aren't perfect and sometimes we are just going to have a bad day. There are cruel things in this world and it's hard to spin every bad situation into something positive.

But in every situation, even the ones we can't control, the one thing we have complete control over is how we react and how we choose to deal with it.

We always have a choice to choose compassion and positivity. We can choose to refrain from spreading negativity and being mean even when that feels like the easiest route. Instead of spending 10 minutes writing a mean Facebook post complaining about your co-worker, we can choose to you send them a note asking if they want to get coffee. We can choose to try understanding their situation before we pass judgement on what type of person they are. Maybe they're going through a rough time at home. Maybe they have a learning disorder and they are doing their very best. Maybe they do suck and they aren’t ready to change, but what a relief for you, a lesson in being kind for them and an inspiring step it would be to take the higher road. 

Don’t we all want to live in a kinder, more understanding, more thoughtful and loving world? We can change the world for the better in small, significant ways. We just have to choose to do it and choose to believe that our kindness WILL matter.

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I used to get so mad a God for giving me a soft heart because it means I get my feelings hurt a lot. I get let down and disappointed and I feel the weight of the world often. It’s heavy and it’s hard to not get sucked into how bad things seem or how much things hurt. I’m not perfect. I get low and I find myself in dark places. I let anxiety and stress get the best of me. I get sad and I get angry. I make bad decisions. I say things I regret. It’s difficult for me to let go, even when I know I should. I lose sleep. I fall into the rabbit hole of negativity and worry and sometimes it takes its toll. But no matter how heavy it gets, the power of love always pulls me out and saves me. Always. 

I've learned to thank God more often for the people and situations (even the hard stuff) he continues to put in my life, because everyone I meet and every situation I find myself in teaches me something if I pay attention and allow myself to learn from it. More and more I learn that love always wins in the end, no matter what. I know I was given this heart for a reason and I guess it'd be a real shame if I never shared it with anyone. It took me a while to find this perspective and I forget it sometimes when I'm sad, but I have to try to live in a way where I choose to see light through the darkness.

Because I’d rather save the world in bits and pieces than not at all. 

...and if I can sprinkle some sparkly acorns around in the process, why not. :) 

Thanks for reading, guys. 

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Nothin’ but love. 



xo - Kari 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

It's officially fall y'all...

It is officially fall y'all, my favorite season of all y'all! :)

I am loving the cool weather, autumn sunsets, pretty colors and pumpkin EVERYTHING. I'm taking a little bit of time off from playing shows right now (just until February), but I got to play some real fun ones to wrap up summer and start off fall. Here are some of the highlights.

Cheff Center - Augusta, MI 
September 11. 2015


We had a BLAST playing this show, but maybe the biggest highlight was discovering that tiny plastic forks will stick and stay in Brian's lumberjack beard. Fascinating. 
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Rosa Parks Circle - Grand Rapids, MI     
September 17. 2015

Ryd and I had a supa dupa time playing acoustic tunes in downtown Grand Rapids for the Relax at Rosa Concert Series. We ended up getting the most beautiful September day. It was fun trying out some new tunes. Thanks to everyone who came out hang out and say hello. Good to see so many familiar faces too. :) 




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The Intersection - Grand Rapids, MI
September 19. 2015

We had two shows on September 19. The first was the Wine and Swine Benefit for United Way at The Intersection. Chris and I played an acoustic set. I wore my new bright red pants. Needed a little extra pizzaz for a two-show day. :)  


Tomato pants.
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Dogwood Center for the Performing Arts - Fremont, MI 
September 19. 2015

The Dogwood Center for the Performing Arts will always be one of my favorite, favorite venues to play. This was the second time I've gotten to play here and it was wonderful. The staff and crew are always incredibly accommodating to us and the folks who come are the most wonderful and attentive audience. Thanks for letting us play this stage again and thanks for giving me and the guys an awesome night y'all. I was feelin' the love. <3  

Soundcheck. 


"Kari, why do you take so many pictures?!"


Almost showtime. Laxin' 


Always a little neat to see your face on a billboard screen. :)



Thanks guys! We had an awesome night too! 

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Liberation of Michigan Festival - Monroe, MI 
September 27. 2015

Got to head back to Monroe, MI to play this new first year festival. It was the most BEAUTIFUL day with a fun and attentive crowd. What more can you really ask for? Thanks for having me Monroe! I love playing this city! :)


Pretty day to play outside. 
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The Eddy Festival during Art Prize
Grand Rapids, MI - October 2. 2015

The guys and I got to be a part of the first ever Eddy Festival in Grand Rapids during Art Prize. We had a blast with all the folks who came out to the show. It was FREEZING cold and I was stoked to see people come out to sing songs with us anyway! Seriously, y'all are absolute rockstars for hanging out in the wind and rain. Thank you. I really hope this festival comes back even bigger and better next year, and I hope I get to be a part of it again. I think it has some serious potential to be a cool way to make music more a part of the Art Prize festivities. Thank you for having us PorterHouse Productions! 



Soundcheck...check. Such a beautiful venue!


Backstage funnies. 


Balancing Brian's head...we're idiots.



I love these crazy mates of mine a lot, a lot. 


Mark and his crew did an excellent job running the stage and sound for this event. Top notch guys. Hope we can work with y'all again in the future! 


I love her. I say this all the time, but I sincerely have no idea what I would do in life without this girl. She is the absolute BEST tour manager I could ask for, but an even better friend. I love you, Jaimes!



Pre-show good luck kisses from my favorite, the beautiful Ms. Britta from B-93 Country Radio


 The stage lighting was pretty radical. 



Rock Out.




You guys looked good out there. :)


Stellar shot of me, Ryd, and Jake jammin' - taken by my super talented friend, David Keller! - Keller Media Productions


The more pictures I see like this one, the more I realize how much I need to wrangle in my use of "finger guns" on stage...like, so many finger guns going off when I play. All the time. 


These shots by Tori Thomas are awesome! 



Sincerely, Gone. Bah Felicia!



So many people singing along to, "Me and a Bottle of Wine" and my other original songs. You guys make me smile, a lot. Thank you for that. :)


Kristen Leigh Smith nabbed some cool shots as well! Thanks for posting these girl! xo


Oh you know, just signing my "Keep Calm and Kari On" koozies at the merchandise table and free-drawing beavers...the ush. Epic art skills, I know. :P


Haha! Nice to see you all again! Thanks for coming to this show! :)

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ArtPrize shows - Grand Rapids, MI
October 3 / October 4. 2015

I also got to play a couple solo acoustic shows while I was back home in Michigan. I got to meet some sweet folks and play out the song I entered into the ArtPrize contest this year, "Better Than Today." It's fun getting to play these types of shows. I get to play songs that I don't always get to play out at the bigger, full band shows. Thanks to everyone who came out to listen. Grand Rapids has such an incredible and supportive listening community. I'm lucky I founded my band in this city. I wouldn't have it any other way and I'll always be so happy to call Grand Rapids home base.

By the way, I made "Better Than Today" avaible on iTunes. You can find it by clicking this link! > https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/better-than-today-single/id1046129665

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Exciting things ahead y'all! As I said earlier,  I'm taking a little break from playing shows until the end of February. Buuuuut, that's only because I'm writing a ton of new music, planning tours for winter, spring and this summer...AND RECORDING my brand new album in Nashville THIS January. 

Guys...guys, I'm so dang stoked! I'll give y'all some more details about the new album soon, but I can tell you that I have never been this excited to create a record before in my life! I can't wait to get this music and this project in your hands. Thank you for the continued support, encouragement and love. You guys truly are reason this train keeps moving and I appreciate it every. single. day... more than you'll ever know. <3


Nothin' but love. 



xo - Kari 







Monday, September 7, 2015

Blaring Charlie Daniels, yelling, turn it up...

Hey cats and kittens!

So then it was September. Really?! Not that I am mad about it (I love fall SO much), but I can't actually believe it.

Anywho! It's true. It's September and summer 2015 is finito! I got to end summer with a bang though, Saturday, August 29, at the first ever Ionia Country Jam opening for Mr. Trace Adkins. It rained pretty much the entire day, but it was still a blast and a wonderful little reminder of how totally awesome country music fans are. Y'all just ROCKED right through the rain with us. It's funny how in the beginning of the day I was trying to stay all dry and keep my hair and makeup looking cute, but after getting out on stage and seeing y'all just ready to go no matter what, I totally stopped caring about that and just wanted to have a great time with you...hence the forthcoming photos you're about to see where my hair and makeup is maaaaaaybe not the best. Ha! At some point, nature always wins. :)

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Ionia Country Jam - August 29. 2015
Ionia, Michigan



Sometimes when you have a lot of downtime before your soundcheck, so you play football with your bandmates and friends.


Thank y'all for hanging in there through all the rain and rockin' with us. Country music fans are  THEBOMB.COM


The Ionia Country Jam was extra awesome because not only was it a super rad show, the whole event benefitted the Wounded Warrior Project and Michigan Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Monument. It's the greatest when we can all come together to enjoy music AND make a difference. 

<3 Love Scotty back there just smiling away. ;) 


The very talented, Susan Mora joined us for this show and it was an absolute pleasure to play with her again. She is so wonderfully talented! 


Love, is a burnin' thing and it makes a fiery ring... 


Life is good when I get to play music with these talented people. 


This is Jodi and she had my back all day. Thanks for the awesome security detail and fun chats, Jodi! Tell your daughter I said hello and to keep on sangin'! 


These two people are fantastic. I don't know how y'all aren't so totally sick of seeing me play since you have been to A MILLION shows, but I'm so glad you're not. Love seeing you sing along to every song out in that crowd and love that I have gotten to know you both over the last few years. Thank you for the support and encouragement you always give me. Love y'all! 


It was nice to meet you girls! Thanks for coming over to say hello after the show! :)


The same goes for you, Sherry...thank you for all the ways you have supported me for so many years! I love how excited you still get when I start one of my songs that is a favorite of yours and then you sing every lyric. It means so much more than you'll ever know! I can't wait to get "Know What You Know" and 'Nothin' That a Shot Won't Fix" recorded for you! :)


Hey girl haaaaaay! Thank you for coming over to say hello after the show AND for your fantastic crowd participation! You are awesome! :)


Hey, Katie! It was nice to meet you! :)


Got to see my ol' pal, Liam "the Leprechaun" Lynch. It was so nice to chat with you again! 


Thanks for coming over to chat after my show, guys! :)


Trace...doin' the dang thing. His performance was awesome. My dad is such a huge fan. It was so fun getting to tell him that I was opening for, Trace Adkins and then get to have him come to the show and see us both perform. He stayed out WAY past his bedtime, but told me it was totally worth it. ;) Thank you for having us, Trace Adkins! Absolute pleasure to share a stage with you! 


Goodnight , folks

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This show was such a great way to end an awesome Summer of shows I will not forget. I'm super pumped for Fall, you guys, and not just because Fall is my favorite season but because it means that I am going to start recording my new album soon! I have never been more excited to record a body of work in my life. Thank you all for giving me some awesome memories and a lot of love to carry into this next season. I loooooove y'all so much more than you will ever know. 


Nothin' but love



xo - Kari