Levelled Up!

September 17th of this year I turned 30.
A month ago (yesterday!) I celebrated with a day that I will never forget.

2

Turning thirty was an incredible milestone for me.
Most people from my generation that I’ve spoken to, who have either passed this marker of life or are creeping up to it quickly, express their lack of excitement for the same.

For me, it’s a joyous occasion.  One that I wasn’t even sure I would be here to see.
I’ve dealt with a lot of trauma and mental health issues over the course of my life thus far, and there were times that I fully expected to not reach this age.  Sometimes, the darkness just felt too heavy and it was more than I could bear.

I’m glad I got here.

Thirty is a beautiful privilege.  It’s afforded me opportunities, experiences, and relationships that I would have missed.  It’s provided me with wisdom, security, self-acceptance, and the knowledge that I am worth so much.  It’s proven to me that I have a purpose on this Earth.

Turning 30 was a momentous occasion, so it was only appropriate that the day of celebration reflect that.

I was so fortunate that I was able to have Leaving Thomas come and play for my closest family and friends.  It was a celebration for myself, but it was also a token of appreciation for those in my life who have stood by me, who have supported me, and who have guided me; a thank you, if you will.

use3

I also had the incredible honour of joining Annika and Bryton on stage to sing on of my favourite LT songs, “Wreckage”.  It was really fun to see all of the reactions to our little surprise!

Check out the video below, OR head over HERE to their YouTube channel (and have a gander at the rest of their content – they’re totally worth the visit)

use1use2use6

threeamigos3

I was also lucky enough to have my boyfriend capture the evening in photographs, but I won’t share those photos here to protect the privacy of my guests (aside from these with my BFF who couldn’t care less LOL)

❤ ❤ ❤

Forty Three

I’m just going to start this off by saying that I had the BEST NIGHT EVER last night.

Disclaimer: This post is going to be regarding Terri Clark’s Back to My Roots solo acoustic tour…what I thought, how I felt, what I experienced, what I wore – you know, basically everything there is in the hand basket.

tc3

Last night was a great night.  I (as mentioned above) attended Terri Clark’s Back to My Roots solo acoustic tour – and it was honestly everything I thought it would be, and more. 

My evening started off a little hectic. I was running late, rushing to get ready after work.  I had requested Meet and Greet passes, and was confirmed for them, so I was as stressed as a balloon in a vice that I wouldn’t get there in time.  I still had to travel to Calgary, find my way to the casino, AND find parking.  Luckily, we made it! *phew*

Meet and Greets are always so fun, yet I always feel like I mess them up just by being my socially awkward self.  THE PRESSURE.   

This time, I was determined as ever to have it go smoothly.  For the 20 minutes I had before I went into that little room, I went over and over and OVER what I was going to say in my head.  As I got nearer and nearer to the meeting point, I started sweating more profusely (thank God I remembered deodorant), though I was still (shakily) confident that our exchange would go as planned….until it didn’t. LOL *sigh* As I walked up to greet her, the ladies behind me caught her eye (they obviously knew one another) and her excitement (sweet as it was, bless her heart) TOTALLY threw me off my game; everything I had planned to say disappeared from my mind like someone had hit Control-A-Delete.  And, just as I’d feared, my socially awkward self came rearing forward to take control of the situation, and it ended in a pretty hilarious, yet cringe-worthy (on my end) exchange.

(Sorry, Ms Clark!)

tc5

PS – I wanted to tell you that your vest game is A++ lately, but you know, social anxiety…! 

tc4

PSS: How cute is my mom?!


After completely embarrassing myself once again, I was happy to go and find my seat so I could immerse myself in the music and forget all about how badly I need to work on my social cues.   I have to say, I’m pretty sure I ended up with one of the best seats in the house.  Front row, almost centre.  It don’t get better than that!

Now, I’ve been to a few of Terri Clark’s shows before, and they’re always a good time.  She’s an enormously talented entertainer, both in song and in story…however, this particular show seemed different – in a great way.  As it’s a solo acoustic tour, which means there’s no band and no fancy travelling along with her, it had an air of magic about it.  Maybe it’s just me, but I felt like last night we got to experience the truest Terri behind the Award-Winning persona. It was hard NOT to have fun right along with her; the joy she was experiencing just radiated off the stage and into the audience like a mist.  She, of course, sang her songs – as singers usually do (I was so happy to hear so many classics in the mix!), she made some beats (whilst we talked amongst ourselves), she had us all splitting a gut with her story telling (particularly in reference to those majestic Rocky Mountains), and I was both mesmerized and ready to spill out of my chair in laughter when she presented us with her John Anderson covers.  

She touched us all by including “Smile” in her set list once again.  Though she gracefully, and beautifully, sang her way through it, I can’t say the same for the rest of us.  I’m not sure there was a dry eye in the house…and I couldn’t help but have been brought back to when Ms. Clark played at the Westerner Days in Red Deer in 2012.  “Smile” was on the set list then, too, and I remember thinking, as she sang her heart out with tears streaming down her cheeks, “Now THAT is strength, grace and love.”  

tc2

The night seemed to just fly…had it gone on until the wee hours of the morning, I would not have had a care in the world – even though I still had to travel home and work the next day.  I didn’t get many photos, in part because I don’t want to be that annoying person who blocks the view with my phone the entire time, but also (and more importantly) I was just enjoying myself far too much, and remaining too firmly in the present to pay much mind to anything else other than what was unfolding in front of me.  

I’ve been fortunate enough to see many concerts in my time so far, and I know I’ve probably said it before, but real talk: this show truly, genuinely, was the greatest show I’ve ever attended.   It was raw, and it felt more like a giant get-together with your closest friends.  Terri is SO funny, so goofy, and charming as hell.  She’s a genuine soul, who delivers the whole authentic package, and who is so humble that I don’t even think her reflection acknowledges her fame.   When asked what the best part of being a celebrity was, her response was simply, “I’m a celebrity?” … I mean, COME ON.  If that doesn’t make you smile… 

I’ve been a fan of Terri Clark’s for as long as I can remember…and I’ll remain a fan of hers until I’m old and grey and can’t remember anything anymore. 

My advice to you is this:
if you love good, home-grown country, you need to snag yourself some tickets to this tour.
If you’re a TC fan already, then you’ll walk away an even bigger fan.
If you’re not, you definitely will be post show.

(and also, what is wrong with you?! How are you not already a fan?!)
tc1
(Rocking my new TC Logo Raglan Tee! EEEEEEEEEE…and puppy filter, because you know I’m obsessed)

Flashback Moment – I’ll never, ever, forget my very first M&G with Terri. I was 12, and I was obsessed with the colour green, as I recall.  I literally wore a green turtleneck, with lime green eyeshadow packed onto my lids like icing on a cake, and my khaki green nylon purse from Wal-Mart.  When I found out that I had to go in alone (my mom didn’t have a pass) I was so scared that I almost didn’t even go.  I remember as I walked into the room and up to shake Terri’s hand (she must have smelled my fear), she immediately opened up with the warmest of hello’s and complimented profusely my lovely purse from Wally World.  I was just this awkward little kid who didn’t know much what to say, but that experience has stayed with me all these years, and still puts a smile on my face 🙂 (Now if only I could find that old photo…)

Now, as promised, what I wore: 

(Please excuse the wrinkles in the backdrop.  I don’t have a steamer and I wasn’t expecting to use it so soon! I’m such a professional… haha!  But hey, I never promised or claimed to have my poop in a group.  Please don’t judge me.)

tc12tc6tc7tc9tc10tc11tc13tc14tc15

BTW: This Raglan Tee is available here if you want one 🙂 It’s SO COMFY. 

Thirty Seven

I’ve been MIA for a bit…and for good reason.

Thanks to my local country radio station, I spent last weekend at my FIRST EVER Big Valley Jamboree experience.  It was magical.  I can’t believe it was a week ago already. 

I’ve heard so many things about BVJ over the years, but I’ve never been able to get out there myself.  It really was the place to be if you’re anything like me, and have country music flowing through your veins instead of blood.

Seeing as how it was my first time to a music festival, I had no idea what to expect.  I had won a weekend pass with a campsite, so everything was basically taken care of for me (cue choir of angels singing)

We ended up not being able to actually camp, which was somewhat of a bummer, but instead just drove in and out each day.  Our campsite still got used (by us for daily parking, and by our neighbouring campers who also used it as an extra parking stall for guests – at our mentioning).

The festivities were totally worth all the travel, but MAN… I’m clearly a lot older than I think I am.  The back-and-forth commuting, coupled with all of the activities and excitement of each day totally wiped me out.  I slept for two solid days after the fact, and I seem to also have come down with a head cold type deal  – probably from the scorching heat one day that turned to almost winter temperatures the next. (Welcome to Alberta!)

22

This year’s line-up was pretty awesome (as seen above, compliments of my obligatory concert tee – which I had to snag as evidence since I was too busy enjoying my time there to remember to take many pictures lol oops!)

1

Our seats turned out to be pretty stellar.  We were right next to the sound booth, which meant there was no one to our right beside us (and plenty of space to get up and dance/wiggle around to see when people stood up).  We also had a giant screen RIGHT next to us that was a lot easier to see the show from when the temperature dropped and I slowly turned into an ice cube (aka unable to move, affixed to my chair).

10

Though we initially were so excited for all of the Main Stage acts, I tucked into the Songwriters’ Workshop on our first afternoon to escape the ferocious heat.  

Seriously.  It felt like it was 50 degrees.  My skin felt like it was on FIRE.  At least it was the one day I remembered to wear sunscreen…

This series changed everything for me.  I no longer felt rushed to see the acts on the Main Stage.  Instead, I hurried to get to this little white tent on time each day.  This itty bitty space with its cozy little stage totally blew me away.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with this (as I wasn’t), it’s basically a jam sesh with 4 different artists/groups each session, twice a day.  It’s them, their guitar (or other instrument), the mic and their superb talents. It’s raw, it’s genuine, it’s authentic.  It’s where the magic truly happens.

I was so blown away by the incredible gift that every person had.  It was mesmerizing to watch the artists feed off of each other, and join in to complement one another – like it had been planned and rehearsed that way all along.  BUT IT WASN’T.  I just.  No words. NO WORDS.  I wish you could have been there to experience it for yourself. 

9

Photo above from Saturday’s 3:30 pm show.
Pictured left to right: Will Hebbes, Beverley Mahood, Bobby Cameron, JJ Shiplett, Bobby Wills, Alee.

 

Small, intimate venues are what I really live for.  They are so much more personable, so much more relatable.  They make you truly feel like you’re a part of the melody, of the lyrics, of the show.

I did catch a few of the big cats on the Main Stage: Aaron Goodvin, Jo Dee Messina, Gary Allan, Sam Hunt, Blake Shelton and Carrie Underwood.  All of them were SO good.  I love artists who tell stories, and there were some pretty awesome, pretty hilarious ones that went around.

I know a lot of people don’t like it when an artist talks the same amount they sing.  I get it.  However, I also appreciate when a person is willing to open up a piece of themselves to share with others, complete strangers.  It’s brave, it’s admirable and I’d take 10 stories more if it meant I had to miss out on a couple more songs – any day. 

12

Carrie Underwood, via jumbo tron beside our seats (cameo: port-a-potty LOL)

11

As fun as everything on site was, I had a lot more fun picking out what I was going to wear each day.  Everyone knows that what you wear to a festival is almost as big a deal as the festival itself.

Day One

I was trying to whip out my best “country”… but it turned out a little more “outback” than I’d anticipated.

Note: I swapped boots in for the gladiator sandals that I originally wore (as they are cute but NOT practical for a day of walking…man, I had the worst blisters so I’m not recommending them lol).  I also ruined my white crop that I was wearing (*sad face*), so I subbed in this black one to save going nudie for the photos.  You’re welcome.

Top – H&M
Skirt – H&M (similar)
Boots – Dune London
Bandana – Dollar Store (WHAT)
Sunnies – Ricki’s
Hat – Zephyr 

15171416

Day Two

I was feeling a little more ‘dressy’ on the second day so I decided to spice things up a little with this cute dress and sheer kimono.  I (luckily) packed jeans and a tee just in case – it POURED rain almost the whole day and was so cold that I didn’t stay in my dress for very long at all.

Also, this was probably the first day in my entire life that I winged my liner on FLEEK. Appreciate. I was so happy I could have cried, but God forbid I cry that damn wing off!

Dress & Kimono – H&M (1 or 2 seasons ago)

64735

Day Three

By the last day, I was exhausted and not willing to put in a whole lot of effort, to be honest. I threw on a comfortable outfit, and out the door I went.  I don’t even think I brushed my hair until midway through the day (that’s how freaking tired I was…#WorthIt)

Cap – Nike
Jacket – H&M
Tank – DKNY

Pants – H&M
Shoes – Converse

Sunnies – Ricki’s

18201921

All in all, it was an awesome weekend, and a great first festival experience.  The views driving home didn’t bother too much either 🙂 I never get tired of those Big Alberta Skies.

2

Thirty

Numero treinta!  OLÉ!

9

I guess I’ve sort of started doing ‘concert/artist reviews’ with my Johnny Reid post, so here’s another!  Prepare for length; I have 3 artists to cover!

When I think of country music, I tend to think: home-grown, strong roots, authenticity.

I’ve been a country music fan my entire life.  Some of my favourite memories from my childhood are weekend mornings, waking up to the sound of country music blaring and my mom singing along (sometimes the vacuum cleaner added an extra essence to the melody).   I suppose you could say that country music runs through my veins.

Music – in general – is a very important part of my life and I love going to concerts, especially when they involve country artists.  I’ve met so many amazing people through country music (and developed some pretty awesome friendships), and yet, each time I meet someone new or experience a show for the first time – I’m always so surprised with how I feel.  I suppose maybe it has something to do with the way of the world these days, and how shocking it can be to still come across such wonderful, sincere people in it.

Last night was an amazing night (drunk stranger shenanigans aside).  You know, this year I’ve really pushed to make positivity my main mantra, and it’s been great!  But I’m not made of plastic and so there are still those bum days.  April is always a tough month for me, but this year in particular (in less than one week to be exact) will mark the 10 year anniversary of the loss of one of the most important people in my life.

The #CertifiedCountry tour could not have rolled through at a better time for me.  The line-up itself was like a golden triad: Gord Bamford, Joe Nichols, Beverley Mahood.  WHAT?!  I couldn’t miss it, and I’m SO glad I didn’t.

First to grace the stage was the lovely Beverley Mahood.   I’ve been a fan of Bev’s since I was an awkward 12 year old, belting out “I Want A Man” into my hairbrush  (Lace throwback, anyone?).  It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I had the absolute pleasure of meeting her.  Even though she hails from Ireland, when you think of a “Sweet Georgia Peach”, you think of Beverley.  She is sweet as pie.  She carries a genuine air about her; she has true authenticity to her character.  She’s the type of person that, when she speaks with you, makes you feel like the most important person in the room regardless of who you are.   One of the traits my grandfather passed on to me is being a good judge of character.  In plain English, when I meet good people – I know it.  Beverley is good people.  She’s also got incredible talent!  Check out her new single “New Religion“, which is SO good (and I’m so excited for her new album!!!)… or my all time favourite summer jam “Hope and Gasoline“. UGH. THAT MELODY.  Her music evokes emotion, and it’s brought me through a lot over the years of my life – especially the more recent years.  There are always those songs we hear that remind us of the good times and the bad/the happy and the sad…but there is one song in particular that helps to get me through those tougher than though days – “I Can’t Outrun You“.  I find it so comforting when I find a song I can relate to – right down to the core of it.  I often wonder if artists think about the lives they will touch when they write songs, or how meaningful their words will become to other people.

Next up was Joe Nichols.  It was like a mega flashback to my teen years.  His music was very popular in our household, so hearing it live really turned up the nostalgia.  I’ve never actually had the pleasure of seeing him in concert, but he’s so awesome!  He is such a down-to-earth performer, but at the same time is the guy that seems like a hella good time, you know?  Songs like “Brokenheartsville“, “The Impossible” and “She Only Smokes When She Drinks” were always in the background noise of my life.  Then of course, there’s the classics like “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Off” and “Yeah“.  If you’re unfamiliar with his other work, you KNOW you’ve heard these two hits.  I always find myself singing and bopping along to these when they’re on the radio.  I’m glad I finally got a chance to see Joe perform; listening to him sing brought back so many of the wonderful feelings and memories I had growing up.  It really was such a treat!  Thankful for moments like that 🙂

And last, but certainly not least, Gord Bamford.  Now, if I’m being completely honest here, I can’t say I was a huge fan previous to this show.  I mean, I’m familiar with his songs (I’m always singing along to them at work when they’re on the radio),  but I didn’t really take it much further than that until I purchased tickets to his show. Now?  Fan, through and through.  For me, sometimes it takes seeing an artist perform to really become a fan.  Something to do with matching personality to music, I suppose.  Gord Bamford is country.  When you think of a country song, you’re probably thinking of something he created.  You can really see his small town personality shine through everything he does.  I’ve heard a lot of great things about him within the ‘country music circle’ and I gotta say I’m more than impressed.  When I say that he is country, it’s because he has the values and the heart of gold to prove it.  There was a very touching moment when he invited his cousin onto the stage with him, and presented him with an autographed guitar for his birthday.  I’m pretty sure my eyes weren’t the only wet ones in the house.  Like a boss (and a true leader), he took up-and-coming artist Jesse Mast under his wing to mentor him and show him the ropes.  He speaks so lovingly about his family, and his pride for his children radiates out of his face like sunshine. He very sweetly took the time to sincerely thank us all for spending our hard earned money to see his show.  He also does so much for charity in support of youth across Canada and in our own backyard.  I can’t really think of a better role model to have out there for country music fans.  He embodies the entire package.   It truly is so inspiring that someone from a tiny place in Alberta can make such an impact! “When Your Lips Are So Close“, “Don’t Let Her Be Gone“, “Is It Friday Yet“, “Blame It On That Red Dress” – check these out.  Also, keep your ears peeled for “Breakfast Beer” and “Apples” – I’m sure these two are going to be big hits!

If you have a chance to check out these artists on the Certified Country tour, do it!  They all bring such a positive message with what they do, and that positivity is so infectious.  You’ll leave smiling and feeling like your faith in humanity is restored 🙂

20

I loooooooove lace, and especially pairing it with anything ‘country’.

Lace, fringe, leather.  That’s my #CountryChic !

Top: Ricki’s
Trousers: H&M
Blazer: Dynamite Clothing (similar)
Shoes: Ardene (I KNOW, RIGHT?!)

1245712151924

 

 

Twenty Four

I don’t know why I always seem to find myself blogging at midnight, but there I was last night – 12:01 a.m. – sitting at my computer uploading/editing photos.

No wonder my sleep schedule is so screwed up.
I decided it was best to just go to sleep and finish the post today.  Even though it IS the weekend, I still need sleep to function!

5

I just had the privilege to see Johnny Reid in concert.  If you’re not familiar with who he is, GET FAMILIAR.  He’s the country artist with so much soul that you feel yourself becoming a better person just by listening to him.

Side note: I’m not sure why people are always shocked when they find out I am a country music fan, but there it is…

4

Now…usually I will throw on my Justins and take my wardrobe colour advice from Mr. Cash, but I felt compelled to ‘spice things up’ for Mr. Reid.  I opted for a more Classic look – with my fringe close by as always.

(Okay, I left the hat at home, though that was a decision I carried immediate regret for.)

If you’ve never been to a Johnny Reid concert before, you need to add that one to your bucket list.  Whether you’ve heard of him or not, it’s a decision you will not regret.

2

I knew who Mr. Reid was.  I was familiar with his wee songs, but I only learned about the man when he lit up that stadium like the Sun.

Now, I’ve seen many an artist in my time.  Music is a huge part of my life, and I go to as many concerts and shows as I can.  Perhaps to just feel the rhythm match my own, or perhaps as Johnny said so eloquently himself – to experience something greater than myself.    Which I can honestly say I did when I entered those doors to his show.

8

I was NOT prepared.

Not prepared to laugh so hard because his humour is relatable and so on point.

Not prepared to feel so incredibly surrounded by love, and have it reach my very core.

Not prepared to sing, in such communion, with every other heart and soul beside me there that night.

Not prepared to cry so many tears, for being truly touched with the stories that he shared with us.   Stories that reminded us all that we have so much in common; that we all stood there as one.

 

10

I was just not prepared at all to feel so many incredible emotions in one night.  It was an amazing experience; it’s a night I will never forget.  I don’t think I can say I’ve ever been to an event that was so humbling.  You could FEEL his gratitude wash over the space, for every single person there, every time he thanked us all for spending our dollars to see him perform.  It was absolutely dollars well spent.  It is dollars I will spend again and again each time that he rolls through my city.

14

I left feeling inspired to pursue my dreams even harder.  To spread love to all around me.  To strive to love within myself just a little more each day.   To share my gifts with as many people as I can.  To do good, and to be good.  ❤

Today, I can more concretely say, Mr. Reid – you are definitely my cup of tea.