“Down Home” – Jimmie Allen

One morning this Spring I was out for a walk and I was exploring the “new” of country music. I found a few artists that I enjoyed, but I had a much harder time with the sound. I guess that I just have a type. Shocking. Just when I wasn’t looking, in walked Jimmie. Hello, cowboy.

Our introduction was inevitable because of this single. Whatever listening devices are active in my life would have matched up country and missing Dadddy right to this song. Eventually. If I’m here for the new country, I am here for Jimmie. He has enough ‘today’ to have a new sound but the dance-ability and shoot to the heart lyrics that a 90’s girl loves.

I didn’t believe that it was true. People told me it would happen. And it did. The second year is not easier, but it is certainly less raw. As a whole. But there are really sad, mad, missing kind of days. Like the day that I heard this song for the first time on a tender sunrise morning. I cried. And cried some more. But then I listened again and again. And now, I just love it. And sometimes, I still get teary. Like maybe right now…

I’ve probably listened to it 30 times in the last few weeks as I have worked on this project. Here’s my view of Dad in this song …making new friends, a pond full of fish, holding nothing but the best kind of hope – shining a light up there with that big ol’ smile. Thanks for this, Jimmie. Most of the details don’t quite fit, yet they do. (Side note…Dad, Mom is now making fake food and I keep plants alive. These are important new aspects to our world.) This song is such an accurate picture of lighter grief. And I’m so thankful for it. That’s another part of excavation. We don’t just excavate the hard. We also excavate our happy and the joy and the party if we seem to be missing those in our heavy. Excavation is for all things.

Now, that doesn’t mean that there are not still really hard days. Even great days are heavier with grief on board. The morning of National Signing Day, I dropped my kiddo off for a flight and we celebrated the official end to a part of the journey that Dad did not get to see through to the end. He was one of her greatest cheerleader, and has been a part of this process in many ways. As I pulled away from the airport, for the first time in months, I started to dial his number.

He’s still on my favorites list. I can’t quite hit delete. And on that morning, I just wanted to hear him jovially answer the phone – no hello, no good morning – “How’s my butterfly?” Dad would have loved the monarch jokes. And I smile and cry as I type. The memories today are so fun. I love that we can tell stories and laugh today. I love that the searing pain is dulling and I get to smile more. Time is a gift. Even when I hate it. Thank you, Jimmie for helping me with the words and melody.

“Comin’ Back” – Citizen Cope

If there has ever been a moment in life when you grab your keys, slam the door, walk out of the house and need the perfect song to help you clear your head, today is the day. Excavation is a bitch. If you weren’t tired enough from the digging, the raw-ness of finding the mummified scraps of lost hope and buried dreams can wear on even the strongest badass. And for lovers of bass, it’s time that you meet my new friend, Citizen Cope. Don’t listen to this on a bad speaker. Don’t.

I have rage songs. The ones that just meet my energy and prepare for my fist to swing at the air if my target is missing. But this is different – a determined, righteous, lip pursing, head bobbing soul stiller. This song is a very, very accurate image of the most internal metamorphosis this year. There are songs (and people and places) that transform the fighter to the rhythm seeker. It’s songs like this that have carried me.

Pain is so weird. It hides in colons and joints and even skin. It manifests as migraines and knife life pain in trapped scar tissue. I’ve spent four decades marching right past the warning signs in my body and have gone directly for protect mode. I fought. For everything. If you spend your life as a fighter, the day that your body wants to quit fighting and start dancing is one of the scariest parts of excavation. Learning to sit with all of the discomfort has allowed me to find a new groove. A very intentional choice to listen to things like my arms. I know…so woo woo.

A few weeks ago, I was PISSED. It was an Eminem kind of angry. For days, I carried the weight of the main event wrestling match that I wanted to headline in the name of resolution. When I tell you that I could literally feel my anger in my arms and hands, there is no exaggeration. Bizarre. And totally cool…for those of us that have never experienced the awareness of this connection.

I hate when I walk into a therapy session fully loaded. There is no way I can tell all the stories and process the chaos in 50 minutes. Because of this, my therapist has taught me that the stories are less important than the way my body is hearing and feeling and triggered by the stories. In our 3rd year of working together, I have finally begun to trust this theory. Because I come from a world where if you don’t know all the details…all the gory ones…you are lying to yourself and others. I find myself in a debate about my own gut level honesty on the daily.

This is a defining shift. Big time. Life changing.

A lack of “complete” and “total” honesty has always been one of my big fears. One that I believed could disrupt my faith, my life, my relationships. But there is a very clear difference between dragging someone through your story for the sake of morbid oversharing, and the honest ability to reflect and learn from an experience – without exposing the private moments. Here’s my reasoning…someone who really wants growth and new discoveries, from the moments of pain, is not afraid of the mess. But they also get that it has very little to do with the minutia.

I’ve learned that my therapist will stop my narrative mid-story if I’m bogged in the details. She will tell me that’s she doesn’t need to know. And I look at her every single time like, ‘Isn’t that the point?!?’

Take, for instance, the recent need to punch someone. We started processing the impact of the anger on my week and the details of how I got so angry were less important. Actually, the details are life. They happened three weeks ago and will happen again tomorrow and next year. The players may be different. The impacted old wound might change. But ultimately, it’s the same endgame.

The big pain and big joy are life. It’s how I know I’m not dead.

But…then it’s shifted. In a very “Comin’ Back” kind of way, I literally screamed at the Zoom camera therapy session. Because the angst in my gut was the same. My furry was so justified. I was ready to tell my intended target just how much I needed them to get right. Now. But this was different. I didn’t want to yell, and I didn’t want to cry. I wanted to dance. I wanted Alexa to turn on Citizen Cope (and a few others you have not heard yet) and let my arms move in a way that was not a punch. And the magic of the dance? It was without rules. When you fight, the rules require a defeat. When you dance, embracing the rhythm of the music as it stirs your insides is the victory.

So as you read these words, know that I’m dancing with a love for this bass line that I can’t explain. I didn’t have to fight to let it go. I’ve learned that I can get most of my wiggles out with a good rhythm. And should I still need to fight, I’ll be well rested. 2023 is going to include as much dancing as my body wants. I’m already dreaming about the disco ball that will be in my house in the next year. Watch. I’m comin’ back.

“In the Blood” – John Mayer

Family is a big word for me. On the surface, this song is about the one that is connected by DNA. But I want to be clear from the beginning that the genealogy tree is not the whole of this moment of excavation. Most of this lesson started in a study of labels. I will always uniquely protect the people with whom I share a name, a genetic make-up and an a life commitment. These people will always be family. They get passes and forgiveness in ways that seem uncharacteristic of someone wired with my level of intolerance. They are…the blood. But that’s just a very small part of family for me. Family is the term I use for the whole of my invited humans, and the season of excavation has been a hard season for family ties.

Family (for me) is about holding space.

Family (for me) is about staying when others chose to walk away.

Family (for me) is trusting me with me.

One of the greatest pains of excavating is facing the reality that so many of my relationships (ones that I deeply valued…family) were defined by my answer to one question.

“But you are still good with Jesus, right?”

I’ve watched this mental dance on the faces of people that I adore. Ones that have been on the Protected & Defended family list. People that I know love me. Even in all of the mess. It is so logical that a passionate person like me would surround themself with other passionate people. People, that by wiring, cannot just let this one go. I love you all. And I know that it goes against everything in you to just let me be ambiguous. Because to not care is to not love well. I get it.

This particular seesaw (side note… that’s one of my new tattoos this year – an off balance seesaw on my sternum) has been a hard one for me. I’ve been forced to process the non-existent balancing act of this question. Because two very different things can be true at the same time – in most circumstances. But in some worlds, the reality of one belief negates the ability for a balance. The only option in this situation is an either/or. And in my new world order, this is no longer an option. I need room for generous questions. All of them. There is a weird beauty in the awareness. I can see why people who have loved me like family can no longer let this one hang without a defined answer. And it changes everything. Unlike anything I have ever experienced. Trust me on this one.

So what happens when the roots of so many of your family connections have changed? I mentioned that family is a big word. One that I have learned is big enough for my past, present and whatever image of family I have in 2 or 10 years. One that has grown and changed and morphed and settled and been unearthed again. And the more I really drill down to the truth, it just keeps coming back to one thing.

I choose you today.

That’s the part of family that I’m still in for. With no certainty – and all of the chaos. Who has chosen me and who have I chosen? Today. That’s family.

P.S. John Mayer came into my life during the pandemic and I’ll never be the same. Religion.

“Danger Zone” – Kenny Loggins

I was a 6th grader when Tom and the boys first played beach volleyball on the big screen. That really explains so much of my next few years. Of all of the movies I watched in my coming of age years, there were few that felt as dangerous as Top Gun. Kelly McGillis and Meg Ryan were badasses. Give me Iceman…any.freaking.day. Anthony Edwards stole my heart as Goose and made me a loyal Mark Green fan forever. And I tolerated Maverick. (I’m sorry…he has just never been my thing. I’m going to call that discernment at the wise old age of 11.)

I knew it was coming. How could you live in America in the spring of 2022 and not know? Oh, Maverick. So I did what all good moms do, I took the kids. To say that I loved the movie is an understatement. I cried too many times to count. But what I’ve come to realize in the months that have passed is that watching that movie on the big screen, with all the genius throwbacks to the original, took me back to a place that I need more of.

If it has been a minute since you heard this song, stop. Seriously. Listen. And when I say listen, I mean from your motorcycle riding, aviator glasses wearing, permed hair loving soul. As this song was reintroduced to my insides, the excavation had a new cellar to explore. What was this untamed need to risk? To risk in ways that I knew could hurt me? To risk things that I have always been told we’re irresponsible? To have less caution and more questions. My insides needed to risk being wrong for the sake of the adventure.

The world that I have lived in has never invited untamed risk. Especially if said risk could produce a harmful outcome or cause my heart to hurt. Excavation has taught me that risk is the magic. When my heart flutters and my hands get a little shaky, I listen now. I spent many years turning that feeling off in the name of holiness. If you have seen the musical the Book of Mormon, I could literally “Turn it Off.” Along with anything that I decided could lead my thoughts or actions astray. And excavation has brought me to a new world.

Kenny. Damn. Loggins.

I’ve literally pointed my fighter jet toward things that my insides (even as I type these words) have long since covered in caution tape and a flight response. I’ve done it all because I wanted to feel. FEEL. Even if that meant that the feeling I was about to examine was hurt or pain or even heartbreak. And I’ve had them all. I’ve sat with some of the most unwanted discomfort because I made choices to risk this year. I have stretched into new friendships, new experiences and new roles. And in that process I’ve risked too much sometimes. AND THAT IS OK!

What a freeing moment it is to move from a life of intentional avoidance to one of non-judgmental curiosity. Even in the danger zones.

I didn’t know the storyline of Maverick when we went to the theatre. I didn’t know that Goose would live on. I knew that Val was not quite Ice, but I was not prepared for how many of the details that made that risk taking beauty of a silver screen classic come to life would be recreated. It was a reminder of my excavation today. There is more to discover. There are more stories to tell. And even though things feel really dangerous and risky, there is some beach football in the future. No need to cry about the volleyball. It lives on. Thanks, Miles.

“Heads Carolina, Tails California” – Jo Dee Messina

Excavation. This is week two. After 7 days of self-love melody, we enter a week focused on digging out the old. A season that I really never wanted. If you decide its time to excavate, be ready for the dust. It’s coming. Even all the good work of self-love would prove to be just the cornerstone. There was still incredible clean up involved in trying to find my remains. I knew they were in there somewhere and it was time to find them.

In March, I took my youngest to the west coast to visit colleges. We flew into LAX and our adventures took us from San Diego to Santa Barbara. As we planned the trip, I was having a hard time with something and I could not figure out what the wiggle was inside me. As I got honest, I was a regretful. There are things that I always thought about and yet never did. And while I know to some degree that is true for all of us, I have watched two capable and strong women launch from our home and their dreams are as big as the sky. Sometimes I think we have failed in teaching limits because they know no bounds. The world will give them plenty of limits – I just enjoy letting them dream.

That pang of missing out reminded me of some longing wants. I have always wanted to drive a convertible in California. I am a loyal and forever fan of 90210. The OG. Not the trash they called a remix. I’m here for a white 1992 Kelly Taylor convertible. Actually, that’s a lie. I want Dylan’s convertible. And Dylan. I mean, teenage dreams.

I had a chance to spend 5 days behind the wheel. There was nothing more exciting than the lady at LAX telling me, “choose any of these…” My 16 year-old self went straight for the black Mustang. I did. With all the bad girl fun of that car. And I drove it like I meant it all over Southern California.

A few days before the trip, I made a playlist. I have one for everything. And there is no telling what’s on the one about you. I mean…

California. I have some songs about you. The playlist is called “California Love” and I listen to it on the days where I need to escape. Katy sings a banger. Snoop and Dre sing me into LA every time I fly in. TRHCP have one with which that I have shared a moment or two. I don’t ever skip the Eagles. I even include The Mama’s & The Papa’s. I have only been there a handful of times, but there is something about all that is Cali that just lets me not care. As we drove up the coast, I turned on my playlist an the child allowed her mom all of the bass.

But there was one song that caught the fun factor in the car that day. Oh, Jo Dee. You can transport me out of my sticky negative spiderwebs in ways that make my little free spirit 20 year old self come screaming for the wildest of festival fun. I want all the freedom of making my own road. And there is no more important commitment in excavation than pushing for the full experience with all of your passion.

In the same way I let my hair blow in that convertible, excavation has taken a commitment to not taking myself too seriously. It has required me to push through even when it all felt too much. On the days when the struggle to find the RIGHT road has felt too hard, I just follow Jo Dee’s advice. Flip a coin. Because Carolina? California? Both make an adventure come to life. And when you find yourself in the weighty work of the deep dig, you need the songs that allow you to dream and escape.

This is me living my dream of driving a convertible on the PCH.
And a ride through Crenshaw.

“You’ve Got A Friend” – James Taylor

The story of this one is good. But you must know that this is the one. The one that Lucas could not listen to. My love for James Taylor was in full display from the very first day we met. So no matter what he says about my music choices, he knew this was part of the package. For the story…

One of the hardest things to make sense of in my life today is when the things that I have always been told would fit one way actually feel most natural to me in others paths. Be it in music or exercise or relationships or even emotions. I’ve always had a list of the ones that I needed to actively avoid “dwelling” on. When I started peeling back the layers of that discomfort, I found reminders through my life of times that “normal” for many didn’t work for me. And that included this song.

I was one of the first of my friends to marry. I had not been to many weddings, but I had seen enough to watch the whole first dance, father/daughter, mom/son…all the dances. I didn’t want it. I begrudgingly did the first dance. Which really amounted to me being awkward and Lucas still hating to dance. But, we danced. We did not dance to James Taylor.

My dad and I, however, were big fans of the storytelling music man. I went with Dad to see James Taylor in concert in the summer of 1994 when I worked for him. He was entertaining clients and I thought it was the most sophisticated and fancy fun. I can literally see the outfit I wore that night. One of our favorites was this song. In the discussion of first dances, Dad and I laughed about our inability to listen to the sappy songs, but IF we were to dance to a song, it would have been this one. And I smile every time I hear it.

The message of the song is the lesson of the year. How many 22 year old women would want to dance to a song about friendship with their dad? Me. Because, especially in that season, my dad was the most dependable friend I had. In the best way possible, because I had great friends. But the security of Dad’s friendship meant something different. In that season of my life, I needed that dependability. This song is a gentle reminder that I have always found what I needed in non-traditional places. The welcome acceptance of this has freed me to look for hope and creativity and love and even friendship in new places. Places that perhaps have not been given a label that seems to fit, but will fit just perfectly for me.

That’s what James has for me with his 70’s swoon.

Lean into the things your insides cry for, even if it means relabeling the expectation. And don’t be surprised if when you are listening, you hear a familiar acoustic guitar to soothe your soul.

Lucas, you are missing out, my friend.

“Hideaway” – Brett Eldredge

Here we go again. I swear. It’s not all country. Promise. Really.

If you focused your growth on learning to love your own skin, there is only one natural thing to do for someone that cannot hover in the middle. Of anything. I love the extremes. Here we go…let me be ALONE! And this song is the perfect picture of the want to hide. To run to the safe people and places that have told me again and again that all of me is welcome.

Two months ago, I was having a morning walk and the big feelings surfaced. The ‘not enough’- kind of feelings. And while I was doing something I really enjoyed, the moment that it hit me, I just wanted to run. With no context, I sent the link to this song. That was all it took. The song told the story of my feelings. And the text back was: Yes.

This is what I need more of in my life.

If you have been privileged enough to send a song and be understood, you get this. The assurance that whatever I am feeling in this song is ok. And in that moment, the recipient knew that I just wanted to be alone. Alone with those that I don’t have to explain the things to. Alone with my fretful and confusing insides. Alone with my own thoughts because I am not scared of them today. What a wild ride learning to love yourself can be. Just letting “humanness” hover and not be expelled is an new disciple.

I can remember a time when a mention of silent retreat or a yoga class or even a labyrinth could send my terrified insides into a spiral. Every single one. Today, a silent retreat sounds heavenly. 2 days with my own self? I’m totally in. Restorative yoga with a 20 min guided meditation? SIGN. ME. UP. And on the days when I really want to hide, I turn on songs like this and I allow my heart to runaway. To whatever safe land that it has discovered in the hard work of allowing people to know the real me. That gift is precious. So very, very precious. The wisdom of the quiet is my greatest joy tonight.

If you hear about my solo wandering, do not be alarmed. If you get a text that says, “Let’s go,” there is a good chance that you are being absconded on a self-exploration mission. Or a weekend at the lake…or on the beach…or, anywhere.

“I Drink Wine” – Adele

With all of the fun that the rediscovery of country has brought to my life, I am not 21. And the past few years have FELT nothing like college. 2022 has sounded much more like a good, rich, hard, wanting, hurting Adele ballad. The tones have felt big. Heavy. Right. But, oh, so hard. This self-love week cannot be fully sung without a big one. One that holds the reflection and truth. Adele, you are the grown-up badass. And you have taught me to be ok with not having it figured out.

“I hope I learn to get over myself. Stop trying to be somebody else. So we can love each other for free. Everybody wants something, you just want me.”

There are many of her songs that could hold this spot. I actually had to choose from 3 and the lyrics to this chorus sealed the deal. That’s the kind of big grief that it takes to grieve a life defining relationship. And that’s the most accurate label for my relationship with the divine. Humans are a completely different song.

This is where I might just surprise one or two of you. Adele is the answer to my forest fire. You remember the girl on fire? She is cool as shit. But she also has a tendency to be a out of control. Her flames are a bit wild when she throws the passion of a fight song on the hurt. This year has gifted me the ability to be Adele and Blue October. Most days its a crap shoot as to which one wants to come out to play, but it’s my choice. The best part of the growth is that the only thing that goes into that decision is what I need. On that day. Because tomorrow will be different. Hell, an hour from now will be different, let’s be honest.

Adele, can I just write a love note to you? OK, thanks…

Thanks for giving me the grown up words that speak truth and don’t back down from the hard. Thanks for not having it together and at the very same time, SO TOGETHER. Thank you for reminding me that you can’t fight fire with fire. Your songs tell me everyday that the only way through some of the hurt is soft and tender. And that’s good. You are still a boss, especially when you cry.

While Adele has been massaging the callous off my heart, my therapist has reminded me about safe circles. And my inner-inner-most circle is so small. Every time I think I have made peace with the changing responsibilities of a centered life, I begin to panic that I have made that circle too small. And then I am reminded. The only person I need in my inner circle is me. The others that are present are there because I trust them. Trust is hard when you have new legs. Ones that have been rebuilt because your joints have deteriorated. Ones that have not held weight. You’ve seen them on a baby animal. A giraffe or deer. They wobble. They don’t know quite how to use the muscles. That’s me and Adele-feels. But I’m over here with knocky knees and very strong reflexes. So it’s probably a good thing that I test market my soft in safe circles. Like other rage-ers. They seem to tolerate me and my need to move from tears to punching in .03 seconds. These undercover softies are my people.

I’m looking at you, LSO…

This picture will always remind me of one of my most wobbly leg days this year. I took it to remember. Along with every picture in this series.

“Be My Baby Tonight” – John Michael Montgomery

When I sent the playlist for this project to Lucas, he listened to the entirety of the 29 songs with no context and this was his first comment: “There was one song that I had to skip. I just couldn’t listen to it.” I was sure this was the one. It is the epitome of 90’s country and when I tell you we danced to Shania Twain at our wedding, that is one of the greatest gifts of our very complicated relationship negotiations. But, I was wrong. So, just know there’s more musical fun to come.

The year was 1994. John Michael Montgomery was the hottest thing on the country scene. I can sing way too many of those gems, even still today. Oh, the brain cells that I have dedicated to song lyrics. I’m so sorry art history. You never stood a chance. Instead, I embraced all things JMM and the Grundy County auction. Sold.

A wonderful thing happened to me in the Fall of 1994. For the first time in my life I felt like I found my people. I can remember sitting on the floor with friends that September and I just had a coming home. I was 19. I was loving life, and this song reminds me of it. You see, back in the day, we were creative musical geniuses when it came to selling our Greek organizations. Could you, would you, ain’t you gonna be a KD tonight? Yep. And, I got to sing it. Absolute genius.

If you knew me from the Fall of 1994 – Spring of 1996, you had a window into a really rare sighting. When I look back on my seasons of growth, I have always condemned this season. For so many reasons, I threw the baby out with the bathwater when it came to making peace with the then. And then this song magically appeared to jump out of my speaker this Fall and it made sense.

This song is the fun factor. It’s the perfect example of a time when I didn’t take myself so seriously. It was also the only time in my life prior to 2020 that I was not in church every week. College was the best. And it wasn’t just the freedom and tomfoolery. It was an opportunity to think for myself. It was knowing that I messed up and not hating myself for it. It was deeply connecting with people about the things that mattered and the things that didn’t matter at all. Most people go to college to get an education. My education was in independence and it was so important.

If you know the story of the following 25 years…the scaffolding of my life was religion. It gave me the tools that I needed to keep the project of my life moving. Especially when that pesky humanity got in the way. But on this side of the construction zone, I have embraced the warmth of a non-judgmental scavenger hunt for the moments not celebrated. And college was one of those. Because, lets be honest about all the changes in me and the world – being a Baylor grad is not always popular. Especially in my heart. But my memories of some of the greatest moments of really saying “what if” came in the wonder and joy of that season. I laughed. And did a lot of other things. But, I love those memories. This year, I have drawn on the wisdom of that season that I have often ignored in adulthood.

I have some great ideas about returning to my care-free self. And some of my best dreaming has already produced more in body ink and “HELL YES” moments than my 1996 self would have known what to do with. I kinda thrive on surprising her these days. So, I’m just gonna be over here dreaming about what it takes to be a rhinestone Romeo, and I’m totally here for it. Let me know, JMM.

“Girl on Fire” – Cameron Marlowe

Much to the chagrin of the other humans in my immediate family, this song is far from the last off the country charts. But what you must know is that my relationship with country is…complicated.

There was nothing that I loved more than country music in 1991. The sounds of Clint Black and Clay Walker will always make my innocent girl heart so happy. But there is something that happened as the artist changed and the sound became 2012 country. It wasn’t the same. Don’t get me wrong, I was still going to the rodeo, but something changed and I found other sounds.

Funny stuff, I don’t recall my parents listening to country. Country came into my life when my zeal for all things holy came to full bloom. Apparently, the unwritten rule of the southern moral measuring stick in the 90s said that Christian and country could co-exist. Don’t even get me started on “Fancy” and booze and “Earl” and boots under beds, but I digress. I loved Jesus, so I was cool with country. Until I found three genres: hip hop, singer songwriter and whatever the guy I wanted to hang around with was listening to. And ohhhh, was there more music out there.

Because of my immediate association to the past, prior to this year, I listened to 90’s country and a few other songs with a nice country bass line about 3 times a year. Just enough to annoy the alt-heads in my family. But something happened this year. I started listening to country again. It started with old songs. The ones that I could remember laughing and crying to. Then I found newer artists. The ones that had good stories and better rasp. You will hear a few of my new faves on this list, and this is one of them.

Back to that “Girl on Fire

This is a great opportunity to point out that if you read into the words of these songs, you are going to miss the mark. Take for instance this song. I was not the girl on fire. Ever. I did not have a boy wanting to chase the girl on fire. But this year, I listened to this song and with no connection to the melody or lyric, I wanted more country.

I’d wanted to remember the times when the biggest decision was whether I was upset about 93Q “turning country” or if I was going to admit that I owned explicit CDs. I wanted to hug the girl that threw away her cassette tapes because she thought they gave her impure thoughts. I wanted to remind the girl that has always LOVED country dancing that you can dance even if everyone arounds you hates it. You get to choose.

What I think I have discovered (please, I’m less sure than ever) is that the people that you want in your corner secretly know the words and tap their feet to YOUR country songs even when they hate the sound. It’s weird how love works. It warps the things that you want to protect. And maybe that’s what the girl on fire is all about. She knows who she is and that’s what creates her fire. I’d like to think that the darkness of the past few years has just been preparation for the bonfire that is about be lit in my life. Because, truth be told, I’ve got some fire starting to make up for. So I’ve been dreaming. And allowing the meld of the new and the old to help me envision a world where it all comes together. This is the kind of reconnection I’m looking for today. One where I can explore the forgotten, honor the truth of what is and dream a beautiful rainbow musical dream for tomorrow that includes Melissa and Tanya and Snoop.