Does anyone else feel like 2017 came outta nowhere?
Yesterday I spent almost 9 hours on the road by myself and had a good long while to reflect on the past year. When I actually start putting all the pieces together, it's easy to understand why 2016 feels a little bit like a blur.
2016 was crazy busy and chock-full of the wonderful, the weird and the why.
I know a lot of people were more than ready to boot 2016 out the door and lock it behind them as quickly as possible and if I'm being completely honest, there are parts of me that were ready for that too. When I think about the sadness of world events that happened this year...mass shootings, a division between police and people, continued wars around the world, terror attacks, the Flint water crisis, witnessing fear and hate as we discussed whether or not we'd be a country that would welcome refugees, saw laws passed that discriminated against people and we became more politically divided than ever before.
This isn't a blog-post about how much 2016 sucked, by the way. Because although 2016 was full of, "wait...what?" moments, it was pretty great in a lot of ways too. When I stop to really think about it, I owe a lot to 2016 and I have A LOT to be thankful for.
I'm a writer. I write everything down. It's how I process life. So, I decided to make a list of 26 (because 26 is my lucky number) wonderful things I am thankful for and things I experienced in 2016. If you're feeling a little disheartened about the last year and you're having trouble seeing the good in life, I'd suggest you try this and start with seeing the good in your own life. It's a fantastic way to remind yourself how lucky and blessed you truly are and it allowed me to look at 2016 in a more hopeful light.
This list is in no particular order.
My 26 Best Of 2016:
1. I'm healthy.
2. I have a solid handful of phenomenal friends who love and support me more than I deserve and who don't take it personally when I'm on the road for months and don't get to see them.
3. I have the best and most encouraging family in the universe who love me unconditionally and support my goals and dreams year after year.
4. I became an Aunt and realized it's basically the greatest thing ever.
5. I fell in love with a wonderful person and I finally understand what all the fuss is about. ;)
6. I learned A LOT about myself in 2016 and I let go of negative baggage I'd been needing to say goodbye to for awhile. It's a constant work in progress, but 2016 really saw the start of learning self-acceptance, dealing with demons and learning how to be OK with not being OK sometimes.
7. I recorded and released my first full-length album, "Little Games" and I truly could not be prouder of this record.
8. Speaking of "Little Games," I got to reach a goal and record my album in Nashville, TN at Sound Emporium Studios with an insanely talented producer (CharlieHorse Productions) and team. What? I still have a hard time coming to terms with that one.
9. I'm going on year seven of being a full-time musician. I'm able to tour, write songs and make music for a living. That blows me away and I am thankful every single day.
10. I booked and went on two cross-country tours in 2016 and got to share my music with people all over this country. On those tours I got to visit new places almost every day and see some of the most stunning places on the map. Pretty dope.
11. I was able to work with an incredible video production company (Chop & Hue) and released a music video for the first single off "Little Games" ...a song that is extremely special to me called, "Sweetheart."
12. Speaking of "Sweetheart," I got to travel to my hometown of Clare, MI to make the music video at the high school I graduated from, with the best group of talented and sweet students and I felt the support of my hometown community more than I ever have before. The way Clare, MI came together to help make this music video a successful project will hold a very special place in my heart forever. I'm so proud to have grown up in that community and so thankful for my hometown.
13. Oh yeah, I entered "Sweetheart" into the ArtPrize competition in Grand Rapids, MI and won the country/folk music category. Such a cool thing!
14. I am blessed to make music with the best and most talented bandmates I could ask for. They are some of the best people I know.
15. I played 141 shows this year in 19 different states, got to play some venues I've wanted to play forever and got to hear my songs on several different radio stations, some of which have my music in regular rotation on their station (so rad).
16. I have the best fan family I could ask for. Hands down. It floors me that there exists people in this world who support my music and career relentlessly, encourage me daily to keep writing songs, playing shows and making new music and who have stood right beside me year after year as I grow as an artist. My fan family gives me more support than I think I'll ever come to grips with and are better to me than I will ever deserve in this life. (nothin' but love, you guys. thank you.).
17. Justin and I got to tour the upstairs at Gruhn Guitars in Nashville and play some guitars that are worth more than literally everything I own. It was terrifyingly AWESOME.
18. I personally experienced and witnessed a lot of giving this year to organizations like Mel Trotter, Mackenzie's Animal Shelter, Donate Life, Special Olympics and the Flint water crisis.
19. I MET ONE OF MY HEROES, GARTH BROOKS AND I GOT TO HAVE A CONVERSATION WITH HIM AND TRISHA YEARWOOD (and I didn't even cry until I got back to my car afterward).
20. My faith in God grew stronger and I am learning every day how to trust in his plan for my life.
21. The Cubs won the world series (on my birthday) while we were on tour and we cheered and celebrated with strangers in Washington.
22. Although there was sorrow in 2016, it was comforting and strengthening to witness people reach out to help and support one another in times of crisis and sadness.
23. Pokemon GO happened and it's actually a fun game that gets people out and about interacting with one another and exercising. (p.s - I caught SO MANY Pokemon while touring. It was radical.)
24. I got a standing ovation after my show opening for Scotty McCreery, playing songs from "Little Games" for the first time live, for an almost sold-out crowd at The Kalamazoo State Theater...and I cried when I got off stage because of it.
25. I went golfing for the first time, drank sake for the first time, got hit by a giant wave from the Pacific ocean for the first time, saw Jason Isbell live for the first time, played a show on a bridge for the first time, held a parrot for the first time, ate Torcy's Tacos for the first time, got a latte named after me at my hometown coffee shop for the first time and got my music on Pandora Radio for the first time.
26. I wake up every day with a roof over my head, wherever that may be. :) I am free to choose my religion, where I want to live and what I want to do for a living. I get to wake up every day knowing that there are people in this world who care about my well-being and want to see me succeed. Most importantly, I have a God who shows up in my life again and again and keeps allowing me to live a life I am passionate about. That's amazing to me.
The best part about this list is that there are probably more wonderful things that I forgot to add.
I don't know what 2017 has in store, but I know that I am looking forward to the adventures ahead and I will continue to live with a grateful heart, focus on the good, do my best to be a light for those who need it and try to do as much good as I can.
I trust that God's plan is a good one and I believe that my best days are still ahead.
We are stronger and more power than we know. If you want to see change happen in 2017, be that change. Go out and make it happen. Attend your city council meetings, start an organization that supports and fights for something you care about, put yourself out there and try something new. Each day is only going to be as good as you make it and if you work for it and believe that this year will be your best year, it will be. It's all about prospective. It's all about how YOU choose to see the world and how YOU choose to react to it.
Choose to see the good in the world.
If you can't see the good, be the good.
The best is yet to come. This is my mantra going into every new year and every year it holds true.
nothin' but love y'all.
xo - Kari