Peace Town.

In February of 2017 I decided to make some really big changes in my life.

Basically I got sick to death of being broke, feeling unfulfilled and as though I had zero control over my own destiny.

After a couple of intense meditation sessions the crux of my problem become extremely apparent, which was:

—> ME <— 

Without even realising it, I had been shutting myself off from any and all abundance / opportunities the Universe may have wanted to send in my direction.

How did I do that?

Well, a few steps were involved.

  1. I built an impressive virtual ‘wall’ between me and all the good stuff
  2. Once I had finished the ‘wall’ construction I grabbed a bottle of spray paint and graffitied quaint little sayings like ‘I’m an artist and I’m supposed to struggle’ and ‘I don’t deserve to be successful’.
  3. I sat back and looked at these lines over and over again, day in day out.
  4. I wondered why on earth life wasn’t really working out for me the way I wanted it to.

Yes I know what you’re thinking as I’m thinking it too, bloody idiot.

Piece by piece I began deconstructing this wall (which wasn’t easy) and started working on shifting my way of thinking. To help me with this, I wrote out positive and uplifting affirmations about abundance on 4 small pieces of paper.  Some were quotes I’d seen, others just came to me during a meditation session.  I kept all of them with me and 4 times a day I’d say each affirmation 3 times each.

I did this for about 3 weeks solid and it was almost as if the dam burst and all that good stuff I mentioned earlier came flooding towards me.

The Universe was like ‘f-I-n-a-l-l-y!! It took you long enough to realise I’m trying to bloody well help you here!!’.

Not long after that – one of my fav people Rebecca Loebe asked me to play drums for her album launch party at the Saxon Pub.

This made me extremely happy 🙂

The night of the launch party I got to meet Jimmy LaFave who was in the audience and from hearing me with Becca asked if I would play drums on a new album he wanted to record (Peace Town).

Today, almost a year later, I was finally able to hold the finished product in my hands.  It was so cool to hear everything mixed together and relive all the fun from that studio session. It was a truly magical experience that I’ll never forget.  Grateful, humbled, proud and so much more.

(After Jimmy passed away I wrote this blog post)

So many cool things have happened in 2017 and so far 2018 is totally kicking ass.  Everyone is so incredibly kind to me and I appreciate each and every chance I get to make music with awesome people.

A ba-zillion thank yous Universe…I’m ready for the good stuff now 😉

 

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Urg! and Grr! with a smidgin of WFT just happened?

I had this week’s blog post all planned out, like a good-well organised nerdy person.

Then this happened.

I’m going to regale you with an event that took place only last Saturday. And, if you have a crappy job, or you’re unhappy with the way you’re being treated by someone – you, ESPECIALLY YOU need to read this.

So, grab yourself a hot or cold beverage and get comfy-cozy, as some utterly bizzare real life sh*t is about to go down.

Last Saturday I had a show playing drums at an Austin venue called The Townsend.  This awesome little place is situated in one of my fav streets (Congress Avenue) and after a spot of setting up and sound checking, the wife and I decided to try and find a nice restaurant to have dinner.

We did much Google-ing and decided upon an Italian joint only a few blocks down heading in the direction of the capital building.

We walked in, got seated and proceeded to look at the menu.

So far, all very normal.

Our very nice waitress took our orders.  I went with the safe option of a margherita pizza.  Laran also ordered a cheese pizza, but asked if mushrooms could be added along with extra cheese.

Still, very normal.  But this is where things started to get a tad weird.

Our sweet waitress came back to us after putting the order in and said ‘just to let you ladies know I asked the chef if he could add mushrooms to your pizza and he said no.  So if it arrives without mushrooms just know that I did ask, ok?’.

A chef that wont put mushrooms on a pizza? That’s a new one.

Anyways….not important.  We just laughed about it and carried on with our conversation.

About 20mins or so later our food arrived.

My pizza looked like a pizza. Hurrah.

Laran’s however looked like a LOT of tomato and about 5 blobs of miniature mozzarella.  Zero mushrooms.

Laran asked the waitress (we’ll called her ‘Jane’ for the purposes of this story) if she could get more cheese on the pizza as that wasn’t going to be enough (duh). Jane was very apologetic but looked scared as hell….and we were about to find out why.

We watched from the very front of the restaurant as Jane walked all the way to the back, where you can clearly see the chef and the big pizza oven.  We continued to watch as she timidly handed him the pizza and presumably told him our request.

A few seconds later he threw the plate back across the counter and proceeded to throw a barrage of insults and verbal abuse in her direction.  It was so loud that we could hear it clearly from where we were seated up front.

Having stood there and just taken all of this, Jane walked back towards us, trying so hard not to cry.  ‘I’m not having that guy talk to her like that.  It’s not acceptable’  Laran said, quite right too.  Once Jane got closer to us, Laran asked ‘what’s the chef called?’. Before Jane had even finished the final syllable of this dude’s name, Laran was marching confidently towards him.

One thing I know from being married to this lady for the past 4.5 years, is that most of the time she’s very kind and sweet.  BUT, you *really* don’t want to get on the wrong side of her.  That being said, in these type of situations where there’s a male chauvinist a-hole involved who has absolutely zero respect for the people around him, it is the most gratifying thing on earth.

In the moments watching my wife walk towards the chef’s workstation, my inner nerd was like:

Now, I’m not in any way suggesting that my wife is a slobbering green monster who hides out in the ocean somewhere – just that she’s basically a pretty blonde haired version of the Kraken, with boobs.

Anyway.

For the first few seconds of their encounter, the chef (let’s name him ‘Bob’ for the purposes of this tale) attempted to speak to Laran the same way as the waitress he’d screamed at earlier. I’m assuming he thought Laran was going to react in a similar fashion.  He soon realised that was a very big mistake.

I looked on with extreme satisfaction and pride as a blonde haired chick put this guy in his place in an extremely short amount of time, informing him of how unacceptable it was to speak to his waitstaff like that, never mind the whole lack of cheese and mushroom situation.  Very quickly his body language changed, he stopped yelling and stood there as if no-one had ever talked back to him before in his entire life.

Another work college came out and apologised for his behaviour.  He also told us our meals were on the house.

We tried to get back to our original plan of sitting somewhere quietly and having a meal before my show. That was a tad tricky. But as crappy as our experience was, poor Jane had to STAY there and work. I watched as she quietly and apologetically served people, trying SO hard not to fall apart and burst into tears.

I worked out how much our meal was and gave it to Jane as a tip.  I told her that money was for HER, no-one else.  I also wanted her to know that she deserved respect and shouldn’t have to put up with someone yelling at her over really small stuff.

She thanked us.  We all hugged it out.  As we headed out the door Jane also told us that after Laran had ‘spoken’ to Bob, another table had ordered mushrooms on their pizza and the chef had put them on there as requested.

Surprise, surprise.

Maybe he needed someone to bring him back to reality.  Or more likely he was terrified that Laran would walk over there and remove parts of his male anatomy if he didn’t add mushrooms or cheese to anyone’s order.

As we were walking back to The Townsend I felt a huge mixture of relief, gratitude and sadness.

Relief – that we were the ones that happened to and could deal with it in a firm but kind way.

Gratitude – that my life and my job as a musician is so wonderful and amazing.

Sadness – that there are people who HAVE to put up with that kind of crap, for what ever reason….and if you’re one of those people, listen up.

Before I was able to become a full time musician, I had countless awful, terrible and super stressful jobs.  More often than not, there was an arsehole on the team and 2 jobs in particular I was basically Jane.  I was the one getting yelled at (once by a chef) over really nothing at all.  I too had to keep it together and carry on serving people.  Putting on a happy face.  Trying not to burst into a flood of tears for all to see.

I want you to know 2 things.

  1. You DESERVE to be treated with respect. Period. The end. If you are like Jane, please do me a favour.  Walk away. I promise you life will get so much better when you start putting your energy into positive rather than negative people and situations. Believe me when I tell you that I know EXTREME poverty.  I know what it’s like to HAVE to work that horrible job or you can’t eat or pay bills.  But all the while you’re around that type of energy, the good stuff can’t get to you.  Leap and the net will appear.  I promise you it will appear.
  2. Everything will be ok in the end.  I endured so many awful jobs for a looooong time and I can tell you that my life right now is AMAZING.  I wake up EVERY SINGLE DAY doing what I love.  I get paid to play, record and teach MUSIC! You can do ANYTHING you set you mind to.  Don’t lose hope.  Don’t give negativity the attention and energy it doesn’t deserve.

When they go low we go high – Michelle Obama

Thanks as always for reading this far.  Sending lots of good and positive vibes to all the Janes out there.  You got this!! ❤

 

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“The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend” – Robertson Davies

My perception has been a little wonky just lately.

By ‘wonky’ I mean that I’ve been struggling to know the difference between the truth and what is merely my monkey mind being allowed to have a major rave-up inside my brain.

Unbeknown to probably a lot of people, the past few months I’ve been feeling as though I’m not good enough.

I’m Not. Good. Enough.

If one of my friends ever said those exact words to me about themselves, I’d pretend to bitch slap them about the face and neck, look them straight in the eye and tell them how utterly ridiculous they were being. I’d say with conviction that they are MORE than enough and they don’t need to change a damn thing.

Yet when it came to myself and my own emotions, I’ve not been that – kind? Positive? I don’t even know exactly the right word for it.  But for months I had this awful feeling plaguing me every moment of every day.  At one point it got so bad I seriously wondered if I should stop playing music altogether. Which is of course, utterly ridiculous.  Everyone knows that Music IS me.  Music is my happy place.  Without it, I can’t function.  We’ve been together now for the best part of 30 years….and for better or worse, music and I are in this thing together.

Thankfully I managed to ride through the storm, come out the other side and see things much more clearly, and in that moment of clarity I realised that I had in fact been acting like a total cotton-headed-ninny-muggins.

It took a series of random events for me to reach this conclusion – but I am very grateful that I saw the error of my ways, which began on my last trip to the UK.

I was visiting my parents and by chance came across my old Sony Handycam (remember those?) and a collection of mini8 video tapes.  They were all filled with me doing various musical antics…all of which made me cringe.

Thank God YouTube hadn’t been invented yet.

A mantra that I’ve been saying to myself over and over again is:

‘I used to be a better musician back then, my playing is no-where near as good as it was.  I had so much confidence.  I wasn’t afraid of anything!’ 

The Universe heard me, called bullshit and presented me with the this little collection of tapes.

It was quite the eye opener.

I sat curled up on the sofa, Handycam in hand, playing tape after tape of me trying to play various musical phrases that I now do with ease.  I wasn’t as picky with my playing back then as I am now, so there were a lot of things I missed which nowadays would’ve gotten past me.

But what struck me even more than my playing was my persona.

Basically, I didn’t have one.

I had completely forgotten how introverted and self conscious I used to be.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very introverted…and I’m totally ok with that.  But the difference between then and now is that I function as an active member of society every day.  I do everything I want or need to do and not much scares me. But at 19 my life outside of music absolutely sucked BIG time.  There were SO many things I simply *couldn’t* do.  I mumbled unintelligible words into incoherence sentences and lacked any kind of confidence what-so-ever.  I was like THE most awkward human being you’d ever seen and it oozed from my every pore. And the worst thing about my life back then was having a non-stop battle with pretty extreme anxiety, preventing me from doing so much.

How could I possibly think that 19-year-old Katie was happier than 37-year-old Katie?? I really like me, I love hanging out with me.  My life is awesome, and I would never ever want to go back to how I was at 19.  Nu-uh. No way.

I can’t believe I got it so wrong.  My perception was waaaayyy off.

That was reality check No.1.  Reality check No.2 happened more recently.

I’ve been working a lot on my Instagram profile.  My main goal was to add more creative content in the form of videos.  I set aside some time each day to watch other people’s posts, writing down ideas for what I should and shouldn’t include in mine.

I mostly watched drum videos and for those of you that don’t know – there are a ba-zillion videos on Instagram of people (predominantly dudes) doing the most super fancy and technically challenging fills / beats / rudiments / solos in an attempt to impress who ever happens to be watching.  This really doesn’t appeal to me.  At all.  Listening to someone do fancy shit in an attempt to make themselves look like what we would call back home ‘the dog’s bollocks’ just makes me feel yucky.

Don’t get me wrong, within the context of a musical piece – where it’s appropriate and beautifully executed, it’s wonderful.  But to throw up a camera somewhere and do random stuff that’s more about technical brilliance than being sincere and true to the artform just doesn’t float my boat.  I actually think it’s kind of lame.

But as lame as it may or may not be, it does get a ton of views…and likes.  People for what ever reason seem to really dig that stuff.

And so, with all that being said – rather than me saying to myself and the rest of the world – f*ck that, I’m going to be ME and do ma own thing…in my fragile and insecure state I attempted to change, for the absolute WORST reason possible.

To fit in.

To quote a much loved American-ism, what a total dumb-ass.

If you’ve heard me play drums, I’m not what you’d call a ‘drummy’ drummer.  I don’t throw in a lot of technical fills. I play what I feel is right for the musical situation I’m in and in fact spend more time figuring out what I’m *not* going to play. I gravitate towards emotive players who lay down beautifully executed grooves in a rock solid fashion.  People like Phil Gould, who was a huge inspiration to me growing up and I’m so proud to call my friend.

My reality check No.2 happened when Phil and I were chatting a little while back.

I was telling him with much enthusiasm about all these new books I’d bought which would help me with various skills such as limb independence, solo-ing and lots of other pretty useless technical crap I’d convinced myself I needed to learn.

He listened quietly as he always does. When I’d finished my lengthy list he softly asked:

‘…and, what do you need to learn all those skills for exactly?’.

‘To make me a better drummer’ I responded, convinced he’d be suitably impressed – which of course, he rightly wasn’t.

He went on to ask me ‘Do you want to be that type of player? Wouldn’t you prefer to perfect the technique you already have and execute grooves you already know with more accuracy? How is focussing on things like limb independence and solo-ing going to help you when recording your own songs or accompanying other people?’.

‘Well, I guess it isn’t’ I sheepishly replied.

He then asked me a question that changed everything.

‘Why did you want to play drums in the first place?’.

There it is.  The truth.  Reality.  Bringing me back to centre. I taught myself how to play drums because I’d written a bunch of tunes and needed a drummer for recording.  From then on I got hooked playing with other people and wanted to learn as much as I could.  It wasn’t about ME.  None of it was.  It was always 100% about THE MUSIC.  And the reason my brain is telling me that I was happier playing music when I was younger is because I didn’t spend my time creating videos for the internet because…there was no internet! I spent time practising, writing, learning, creating, being present.  The only time someone got to hear my skills was at a jam session or playing in a band with others – and we all enjoyed creating something really cool *together*.  There was no ego, no oooo! This video made X amount of likes or shares….we did it because we genuinely loved it.

And THAT element of music is what I’d forgotten.  My love for the art and putting that art before myself.  I’ve allowed my entire being to get overrun with self-deprecating thoughts from my apparently fragile ego.

Like I said.  Cotton-headed-ninny-muggins.

Thank you Universe for showing me the way and helping me see the light.  Through my crappy Handycam videos as an awkward teenager and a kind friend who always knows the right thing to say at the right time, I finally returned back to centre.

Ahhhhh. That’s better ❤

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Adventures in Norway.

If you read my previous blog, you’ll know that I had the most amazing experience exploring beautiful Eidfjord in Norway.

I honestly didn’t think it could get any better….and then there was Geiranger.

Holy. Crap.

The cruise ship left Eidfjord and traveled all through the night to get to Geiranger.  The following morning I woke up to find our vessel parked right slap-bang between a gaggle of HUGE snow capped fjords.

So…just to give you some idea of the view from my cabin window – you know those pictures they always use to advertise the ‘magical’ Norwegian fjords? They’re always on a perfectly still sunny day, with the clearest looking water you’ve ever seen in your life, capturing spectacular wildlife and waterfalls dotted here and there….

Well, it looked a bit like that. No, it looked EXACTLY like that….only way better.  It was like total eye candy for the soul….and it was REAL, totally real.  AND right outside my little window!

Once I saw what was out there I grabbed my camera and headed out to explore.

I didn’t have any kind of game plan. I just walked where ever felt right…which in that moment was a road off to the left that followed the water along a mild incline and up towards a steep hill.

Having lived in Austin, TX for the past 4.5 years my steep hill climbing skills are much weaker than they used to be when I lived in hilly Devon, England 😉 But luckily there were PLENTY of sights to ‘oooo’ and ‘ahhh’ at long before the rather scary looking incline.  I was stopping literally every 5 mins, convinced each time that I’d seen the best views to take photos of.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a truly magical experience that I’ll never forget ❤

Thank you so much Geiranger, you’re awesome – but I’m sure you already know it.

The next two locations on our journey were Alesund and Bregen.

I’m slightly ashamed to say I decided to have a ‘hang out on the cruise ship’ day in Alesund and I was prevented from seeing Bregen due to inclement weather.

It was raining, a lot.

Just a heads up for anyone who doesn’t already know – I’m originally from the UK…so my opinion of what a lot of rain is may well be very different from yours.

In Austin, TX if it rains people act like acid is falling from the sky and they’re going to die.  At the very least, they wont go anywhere.  Plans are changed, people refuse to go out.

If they adopted that approach in England, they literally wouldn’t go anywhere. Ever.  It rains more often than not.  And by ‘rains’ I don’t mean for like 10mins here and there – I mean HEAVY rain for sometimes weeks at a time.

So when the cruise ship said the rain was making it unsafe for people to venture out, I stuck my head out and thought…

‘Pah.  Really? I’ve taken my dog for a walk in worse than this’. 😉

But after standing there for a few moments watching the freezing cold sideways rain drench absolutely everything it came into contact with, the newly born Texan in me (who has gotten very used to almost 300 days of sunshine a year) thought….

‘ya know – getting wet and soggy isn’t actually that appealing, let’s go back inside and grab a drink or something’…

…to which of course the British part of me responded in total disgust with ‘Coward! You’re scared of a few drops of rain?! You can STILL have TONS of fun *even* in the pouring rain!!’.

Sorry Brit, it actually sucks being cold and wet….unless there’s a toasty fire, a cup of tea and a tray of chocolate digestives waiting for me….then it’s not so bad.

And due to the yucky weather we ended up leaving Bregen early as we were due to hit a nasty storm.  They announced to the whole ship that we’d be hitting 10ft high swells and if we had any anti-nausea medication now would be the perfect time to take it.

Oh great. Hold on tight peeps, we’re about to hit Hurl Central.

The captain said he thought the rough seas would only last a couple of hours.

A few hours turned into 8….and they were 8 very loooooong hours.

This is a short clip of how it all started – when it got really rough I couldn’t stay upright (in this video I struggled to hold the camera up we were rocking around so much!).

Thankfully by the following morning everything had calmed down and we could continue our journey back to Rotterdam in a much more civilised fashion 😉

And after a 48 hour boat ride, a 9 hour flight, followed by a 2 hour flight, finishing with a 45min car ride….I was back at home in lovely Austin. It felt like I’d been gone forever….it was only 14 days.

What a super cool experience that I’ll never forget.

Thank YOU as always for reading this far.  Can’t wait to see where life takes me next….

Oh! And I couldn’t finish this post without showing you an animal made out of towels.  Ari my amazing room cleaning dude made me a different animal every single day.

Yes, he was a legend and a genius.

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