The Comeback Story: Chapter 5

The Comeback Story: Chapter 5

I woke up from those years changed. Trauma changes you, no doubt. I went to a new therapist who specializes in trauma. The plan was to see her for about six months while we processed all the residual terror from the previous two years. Slowly but surely, the storms calmed and then one day the sky was clear. Terrible things weren't happening on the regular. I could take deep breaths again. My "your kid is going to die" triggers got less sensitive and less frequent. We somehow miraculously paid off the medical bills.

The new therapist was interesting. I wasn't sure about her at first, though she came highly recommended. Because so much of the things we went through in those crazy years was centered around our family, we ended up talking about motherhood a lot.

I feel like I need to be very clear here: Beatrice and Hollis and their miraculous entries into my life were the biggest dreams come true I've ever known. I am so grateful to be their mom, and to watch them become. The kids bring me a kind of joy that defies ample language to describe it (and continues to!). Women who have a typical path to pregnancy and childbirth sometimes don't really get this aspect, but the sheer fact that my children EXIST, that they are alive and mine still leaves me breathless after six years. When you are given a gift for which you had, after years of heartbreak, surrendered all hope of ever receiving, your perspective can't help but be transformed. I truly revel in their here-ness, their very presence still feels surreal. I love my kids with a fierce fire.

And maybe that's why I was so caught off guard when my transition into motherhood found me spinning. Parenting is not for the faint of heart. And I've learned it's okay for it to be both beautiful and brutal. I can be overjoyed and overwhelmed by it at the same time, and often am. No one tells you how hard parenting is. If they did, the earth might not be populated. Seriously.

The Comeback Story: Chapter 4

The Comeback Story: Chapter 4

You know how in the middle movie of a trilogy things really, really suck for the good guys? Think about "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" or "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back". In the middle chapters of those epics the story feels like an endless dark battle, and you're not sure what will become of them. That's how the years 2014 to 2016 felt for us.

When Beatrice turned one, we began to try for a second baby. We both felt strongly about wanting another, and a sibling for Beatrice. My fertility doctor suggested we try the old fashioned way for three months. In some cases, conceiving and carrying a child to term can act like a reproductive reset button for previously infertile women. Due to my age, however, she cautioned us to come back in for a consultation if we weren't pregnant after those few months. Come to find out, my body didn't come with a reset button like that. Upon discussion, the doctor recommended we try the same protocol through which I had conceived Beatrice: injections and IUI (Intrauterine insemination). In my heart, I felt sure it would work again. Four failed treatments later, with every unsuccessful cycle my devastation grew and my hope diminished. I could write whole chapters about this, and one day I might, but suffice it to say, infertility is excruciatingly heartbreaking to endure. The price a woman pays is unjustly high, emotionally, mentally, and physically.

The Comeback Story: Chapter 3

The Comeback Story: Chapter 3

I have a confession. Self-care is hard for me in everyday life. Is it hard for you, too?

When I was touring and performing pre-kids, I found self-care on the road to be a serious challenge, one which mostly escaped me.

Self-care as the mom of tiny humans is not really a thing. Although the idea sure sounds nice, sells a lot of books and unused yoga memberships, and produces heavy traffic for HuffPost articles written by people who obviously have never had children.

Self-care while on the road with a tiny human is a UNICORN. The only exception to this: Beyonce. And let's take a minute to accept the things we cannot change as in none of us will ever get to be Beyonce.

Truth be told, Beatrice wasn't the only miserable one on that first and only tour. I was wholly and utterly exhausted. Like all new moms. At least the honest ones. When I realized we weren't going to be able to make a go of it as a traveling family band, it was a perplexing cocktail of relief chased with fear of what that meant for me as an artist and an individual. I felt guilty over being glad to be home. In hindsight, I see how I was learning about my limitations. And let's be clear: I don't love my limitations but I'm at least enough of a grown up to acknowledge that my limitations and my expectations have got to learn how to co-exist and play nice with each other. And maybe if I have managed to be that level of grown up, one day I could advance to the age where self-care was actually possible. As Anne Lamott writes, "Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including YOU."

The Comeback Story: Chapter 2

The Comeback Story: Chapter 2

I didn't have a plan. My therapist tried to convince me I didn't need one, that there are always parts of the tapestry we can't see before we take a step. This is the same therapist who encouraged me to take the "or's" out of my sentences and replace them with "and's" i.e... I can be a mother OR musician vs. mother AND musician. I became better friends with the unknown. I watched on social media as other musician friends became mamas. Surely if they could make it work, so could I? It turns out social media is excellent at showing us other people's highlight reels and hiding their brutal realities. (And never forget dear ones, comparison is the thief of joy.)

Before I had my kids, there was a revelation that had never fully dawned on me: Every. Child. Is. Different. I mean, I'm no idiot, but the extent to which not knowing what kind of kid you're going to have can interfere with expectations and the making of plans really can't be understated. It wasn't until I met my children and loved them in their glorious differences that I truly understood: Making big plans for what your life will be like after you have a baby is a ridiculous concept. Because you don't even know the kid yet. And news flash: That kid and their temperament might not agree with your big plans.

The Comeback Story: Chapter 1

The Comeback Story: Chapter 1

At age 10, I knew I wanted to be a singer and songwriter when I grew up. That dream took its share of beatings along the way and heaps of courage in a thousand moments, both big and small; it took focus and sacrifice; and it took on a number of forms before I moved to Nashville at 20 and started getting serious about writing songs. There was one other dream I had as a little girl: To be a mother. This dream eluded me for so long, and took everything I had to give to make it happen.

Finding success as a female recording artist comes with ready made obstacles. There's the sex appeal prerequisite, of course. And for goodness sake, make sure you don't age. I have spent more hours of my life stressing over what to wear on stage or in a photo shoot then I'd like to admit. Add to this the uphill battle realities of women artists being offered far less slots by venues, festivals, and radio play. For the most part over the course of my career, I have taken these obstacles in stride, and allowed them to make me stronger and more sure of my dreams and goals. But nothing, no single thing has challenged my musical dream more than becoming a mother.

To My Daughter on the Eve of Kindergarten

To My Daughter on the Eve of Kindergarten

We met your teacher. We explored your classroom. You looked for your cubby, checked out the books, did a few puzzles to make sure you haven't lost your edge since Pre-K. Together we found the cafeteria, the music room, and the all-important potty.

Your eyes filled with wonder as you discovered your school has its Very. Own. Library. Just for kids. Without prompting, you asked the librarian, "Would you please show me where to find the books that are appropriate for my age and reading level?"

This time the librarian's eyes grew big with surprise as she listened to you. In reply she asked, "How old are you?"

"Five," you offered a reply with both words and fingers. "And three-quarters."

The 5th of July

The 5th of July

I’ve never been one for superstitions, except when it came to the 5th of July. Two months shy of my eighth birthday, a bank called Penn Square would forever etch its name in the pages of my family’s history. Our lives would never be the same. Maybe you’re not familiar with Penn Square. Feel free to Google it. If you’re from Oklahoma and above a certain age, maybe your family was changed forever, too. We spent our summers on a lake in Northeastern Oklahoma. That July 5th morning, we awoke in a post firework haze, loaded onto the boat to go swim, ski, and play. I’ve never asked my Dad if he knew what was coming. 

Radical Kindness

Radical Kindness

#TruthBooking: I cannot even fathom how it has felt to live as an American person of color or a person of Jewish faith this weekend, much more in this lifetime. I will never know what it feels like to watch hate-filled people freely marching in the streets of this nation- and to know without question that hate is directed at me. I grieve deeply considering the trauma one must experience as those images and realities wash over and sink into the psyches of the people being targeted with that hatred. If I'm honest, I know there are ways in which I have been complicit in my comfortable bubble and have benefitted from a system that champions the privilege that comes with the pigment of my skin and the place I choose to worship. Something has to change and tonight I know starts with me...

Trust. Breathe. Joy: Thoughts on the Live Recording Shows

Trust. Breathe. Joy: Thoughts on the Live Recording Shows

#Truthbooking: I didn’t expect to take so long formulating my thoughts. That really caught me off guard. For someone who processes most readily via words, either spoken or pen-to-page, to be rendered speechless is a fairly rare occurrence. Three weeks ago tonight I took to my favorite of stages for the first of two live-recording shows. I was so nervous that first night. Taking visible deep breaths, trying to regulate my heart beat, to come down into my body and settle in to my shoes, into my story.

My childhood voice teacher and mentor often spoke to me about turning my nervous energy into excitement. Little did I know, his words ring in my head all these decades later, he’s still teaching me to reframe my emotions and harness them for good use:

“You’ve got this, K.C. Breathe. Trust yourself. Trust the work you’ve put in and then let yourself go. Stay loose. Trust what will happen when you open your mouth. You’ve done the work. Now do your thing.” I found myself reciting his words in my head that first night. Calming myself. It’s fascinating how we go back to the beginning without even trying. How while we’re in a defining moment we go back to the moments that first showed us the way, first formed us.

Raw. Vulnerable. True. Here.

Raw. Vulnerable. True. Here.

 I did something truly terrifying yesterday. I walked into a photo session with zero make-up on, sat down, and proceeded to let Kriea Arie capture me, the real me. My last artist photo shoot was in 2011, and I had my first baby in 2012. My promo photos needed significantly more than a refresher, but I've been paralyzed by fear. The post-baby me isn't sexy, thin, or remotely put together. The stress from the past few years has left me feeling aged and frazzled, not current or cool or pretty. Most days I feel successful if I get to shower, wear something besides my go to mom wear, and my hair isn't in a messy bun.

Despite all this external insecurity, there's a revolution going on in my insides. In my personal life, I am standing in my story and claiming it more than ever before. I feel things shifting, for the good, and I can hear my brave, truest self rising in song. In my most triumphant moments, I know I belong here, that I matter, and that it's okay for me to take up space. These tiny glimpses are big, big shifts for me...