The All American Hitch-Hiker
e Everywhere I’ve been, even at home, I always seen hitch-hikers with “Veteran Traveling/Hitch-Hiking” cardboard signs attached to their back. While I was at Mount Rushmore waiting for the lighting ceremony to begin, I came across one of these people. I was alone while my friend Ian took a walk and decided to approach this particular man pictured above. His name is Chad Ford and his story made me overwhelmed with inspiration, so much so that I felt a strong need to share it with you.
Chad was in the army working as a chef which, qualified him to work as a chef or sous chef wherever he could find work. After he got out of the army he began working at a Casino is Las Vegas, where he is from, and was married with kids. Also, its important to state that during this time America was going through the economic downfall in 2008-2012 because it helps explain his hopping around of work. Any ways, that job eventually didn’t work out and he began in less qualified restaurants. The last restaurant he worked at shut down unexpectedly because the owner was secretly taking money from the cash register and gambling with it, and not too successfully. He showed up for work one day and there was a sign on the door that said “closed for good” (or something around those words). He was out of a job and tired of the world he was living in. He packed his bare essential needs into a backpack and just started walking.
He ended up in Texas for a few months working a construction job but decided to get up and go again. In the winters he stayed mainly south but found his was to the north a few times in the summer. He has literally walked across the country. He mentioned to me the he was in Michigan not too long ago once after I told him thats where I am from. Chad told me he was too afraid to fill up his water bottle in Michigan because of the current contaminated water issue that has been going on for years now. That really impacted me. I tried to defend my beautiful state by saying that its only in certain areas that the water is undrinkable but the truth is, he was completely in the right. How unfortunate is it that the civilians in the state with the one of the greatest amount of fresh water lakes IN THE WORLD cant drink fresh water at all. Anyways, He goes on to tell me his spiritual life saying he isn’t too spiritual but definitely listens to the universe around him. I asked him how he isn’t scared of sleeping in a tent every night and hitching a ride with random people and he said “Well the universe hasn’t done me wrong yet so I know it must be on my side” How cool is it that he has so much faith in the world and the things around him that he isn’t afraid to do things most people would be terrified to do.
Mount Rushmore was his last stop on his five year journey and he is currently headed to Sedona, Arizona where he feels the most at home. He told me about the vortex’s there and how calm at and at peace you feel as you encounter them. I hope to meet up with him again while I pass through Arizona and also to feel the sensation of a vortex myself. Sometime in the next year or so, Chad plans to make his way to Boulder, Colorado and begin a place for travelers, lost people, or anyone who is looking to take a break from real life and chill out for awhile. He plans to teach people about living off the land and to love yourself so survival becomes easier in case, god forbid, anything detrimental were to happen to the world in the upcoming future. He plans to call this place HOUSE which stands for Home of Universal Spiritual Energy. I feel so lucky to have been able to have such an amazing conversation with someone so different from myself or anyone I know. It just goes to show that no matter what a person looks like or acts like, they have a story. I would’ve never been able to hear Chads story if I didn’t approach him the way I did. I can’t wait to visit his “HOUSE” myself one day. I challenge anyone who reads this to have a conversation with a stranger. Anyone. Ask them what their favorite food is or complement their outfit. Any conversation started is a good one because you never know where it may lead.
For my 15th birthday, we celebrated by going on a camping trip in which I brought 2 of my closest friends. We left the day before my birthday and arrived just in time to enjoy our afternoon and evening. I had so much fun and was so happy my friends were there to celebrate with me. I not only wanted to make sure everything was perfect for me but also them. Every time we would eat, I made sure they were happy with what they got. Every activity we would partake in, I made sure it was what they wanted to do and were having fun. When we went to bed, I gave them the best spots in the tent and I took the very edge. I didn't even realize I was doing this until it caught up with me. I woke up from my sleep that morning at 4 am and felt like I couldn't breathe. I was crying un controllably for no reason. I didn't know how to act or how to calm down. I got out of the tent and sprinted to the beach until the sun came up. I made my way back to camp and though I was still on edge, I pulled myself together enough to look normal in front of any one I would encounter. I can remember every moment of this incident. How the cool foggy beach looked, how the cold sand and rock hurt my bare feet so bad but I just had to keep running, how my stomach felt like it was coming up my throat. I'll never forget it.
After this happened, I felt myself becoming more weak. Something so little, such as not liking the food I was eating , would throw me off the edge. I'm sure that everyone just thought I was being dramatic. I'm sure I was. But I truly couldn't help it and didn't want to. I always knew deep down that I had an anxiety problem which eventually did turn into a small case of depression but like a lot of people, I ignored it because mental health isn't something people necessarily take seriously.
At this point I decided to dive head first into music and take it seriously. I would play gigs every weekend and music festivals all the time in the summer. For the first time in a while I felt like myself. I felt so free. All I ever wanted to do was sing and play guitar. I even fell in love for the first time and I really didn't think life could get bad again. Until it did. For a teenager, breakups are HARD. I knew after just a few months I didn't want to be with my first boyfriend and everything from there started to go down hill. I was really so trapped. After about 2 years of playing gigs and these past 6 months of being with a boy I didn't want to be with, I realized I was pushing myself too hard. I cared way too much about what people wanted from me and not what I wanted for myself. Mainly because I didn't know what I wanted for myself. I was starting to not enjoy playing as much as I used to. I think the fact that music wasn't helping me any more was what made me the most sad out of everything. So gigs slowed down for a bit and I finally broke up with him. At this point I mainly felt numb and I didn't know what I wanted to do other then just lay in bed and watch youtube. So I did.
Eventually I decided to start hanging out with my friends again and involving myself the best I could in my school choir since it was going to be my senior year of high school. Once again, I feel in love. But this time so perfectly. Now I was happy, probably because I decided to act like a regular teenager but I didn't care I just finally found it. During this time I also made it to the blind auditions for the voice and I made even more friends. I didn't even care that I didn't get a chair turn or about any surrounding family problems that were going on because I knew I had a good back bone of people to support me.
It wasn't until last night ,on my fourth night of tour, when I began to feel that horrible anxiety and panic the way I did on my 15th birthday. It started to hit me on stage at my second show of the tour. My dad wasn't there to play with me. My mom wasn't there to watch. My boyfriend wasn't there to give me a hug after every set or to go home to after a long night of music. Everything was changing so quickly and I realized it as I was on stage (which is literally the worst because everyone will witness it if you make a scene). I was 10 hours away from home which made everything worse. I have a friend Ian on the road with me but its not like I can just put off of my problems onto him when we are just starting to get to know each other. All I could do was cry. I broke out in hives. I knew if I ate or drank anything I would just vomit. I couldn't breathe.
All I can wonder now is if I jumped the gun on this trip. Most kids my age make a gradual adjustment into adulthood by going off to college maybe and hour or two away. All I've talked about for months is how excited I am to travel , but I never thought I would feel this alone. I feel like I've ripped all the things that made me happy away for me. I guess now the only way to cope with this anxiety is to realize I'm the only person that will always be there for me. I have to stop doing things to please others and take time to please me. I want to enjoy this trip so incredibly bad and I hope I didn't get myself into a "right place, wrong time" situation. I am trying to become stronger but once again I can feel myself getting weaker. Am I being dramatic? Yes. But are my feeling valid? YES.
Here I am, sitting in bed, with my post anxiety melt down self, wishing I could stay home forever. Most kids my age (18) go off to college maybe an hour or two away from home having the ability to come home as they please on weekends. Am I crazy to want to leave my loved ones? Am I crazy to travel the country in a shitty van that could break down any moment? Am I crazy to leave with only $1,300 in my bank account? Am I crazy to leave everything that makes me comfortable?
These questions ponder my brain constantly but I think I have come to a simple answer to all of them. NO. Sure most kids will leave for college to "learn" but, I know that for me the only way to get a true education before indulging in the treacherous world of college is to indulge myself in the world. I need see what I would look up on google photos or come across on instagram with my own eyes. I need to put myself into uncomfortable situations so I can become more comfortable with myself and my strength. I need to learn how people across my own country and possibly other live their everyday lives. I need to see the wild and be the wild. I need to share my music with people. This is my passion.
Though I know that the long hours of driving will be grueling and I will miss my family like no other, I am ready. The journey to creating new friendships and experiences will conclude in stories that I can tell my children and their children about. John Lewis once wrote "If not us then who, If not now, then when?”. Instead of my anxiety ridden questions that usually fluster my head, I will now force these two questions into my brain as my worries start to pour in. When is a better time then now?
The Beginnings of Van Life
I cant believe I am finally doing it. I am really living my dream. I have always felt a strong passion for traveling and for the next year I am doing just that. My only problem is that I love home and I love my bed so much I needed to figure out how to bring my home on the road. I have watched hundreds of videos of people living in their vans and building them and for away I just though I could never do it but then, I decided to believe in myself and just do it. I looked for awhile until I found my 1998 for Econoline van that I will now call home.
Once the idea of Vanlife popped into my mind I knew I had to figure out a way to make money on the road. All the videos I have watched have said oh just be a free lance worker all you need is experience and a degree. The problem with that was is that my only experience with freelance work is working on my website and I don't have any sort of computer science degree or graphic design degree as I am only 17 (almost 18). So I thought I should start doing what I do best and book some gigs so I can play music all over the country and get paid! Of course I love music and want to share it with people but the main focus of these gigs is to get money. My main focus for the trip is to travel and see sights I have never seen and experience things I've never gone through.
Its scary to think that I am just going across the country so far away from the ones that I love but when is a better time then now. Most kids my age are getting ready to move into their dorm rooms and go through vigorous college courses and truly I wasn't ready for that. I am so excited to enter adulthood in such an extravagant way. This post is short but I just wanted to give a quick briefing before all the craziness starts.
All of the upcoming dates are on my website for this tour, check em out and share them. If you know people who are in any of these areas please let me know!!1
Knowing your worth
Prologue: This past week I have experienced so many new people and cultures in the big city of New York. It’s crazy how many people live in such a small part of the world. I didn’t realize I could experience such culture shock while staying in my country. Growing up and learning how to be an adult can be scary but when you are able to experience places like this on your own it is so much more magical.
The week started with the boys of Red Herring and I adventuring through a 10 hour car ride which, surprisingly, wasn’t too awful or smelly. We played three shows at Silvana of harlem, Shrine of harlem, and the Branded Saloon of brooklyn. Each show progressively got better as well as out time here in the city. We all grew to be closer friends… I realized that josh is up to do anything at anytime, Aaron loves to sleep, and max and I had to sleep in a twin pull out bed two nights in a row so I would officially declare us brother and sister now. By the time the trip was over it felt heartbreaking having to leave them. I thank them all so much, especially Rick, Dave, and Karen, for putting up with me because I know I can be quite a handful.
The boys left and I stayed in the city to stay with my great friend from The Voice, Maude. She has shown me the best New York experience that I don’t think I could have got from anyone else. The first night with her I experienced NYU life by hanging out with her friends who attended and dancing at the club (which I was so nervous about but turned out to be the time of my life). The next day we went to the MET and then to greenwich village which was so beautiful. Then the day after that we spent in chinatown having lunch with some random foreign exchange students we found, shopping in SoHo, then going to the highline. And lastly today, we went to the MoMA (which is where the point of this post actually comes in), biked through times square (NOT A GOOD IDEA) and now we are about to leave for a concert.
Actual story: SO... we were walking through beautiful Museum of Modern Art and had just finished walking through the Adrian Piper exhibit which includes a lot of black history and human worth pieces. At the end of the exhibit was three desks and each one had a quote above it which stated, “I will always be too expensive to buy”, “I Will Always mean what I say”, and “I Will Always Do What I Say I am Going To Do”. This intrigued Maude and I so we stopped and read the information explaining it at the desk and started taking to the receptionists. Pretty much this was a game set up by Piper to challenge yourself to stay true to one of those statements. The one that stood out to me the most was “I will always be too expensive to buy”. The first thing I thought was “Ah yes I can definitely stick to my word with this one. The times of people being bought is way over and I am so worth it” but THEN my thoughts went deeper. What if I were to be offered an amazing record deal where they “pay” me and put me into a multiple year contract. That would technically mean someone has bought me.
At this point I started second guessing myself and felt very guilty for signing this agreement but then I remembered being on The Voice. Though the Voice was such a good experience, I put myself on the line for these contracts and money which turned out to be so restricting. When I initially agreed to doing the show I didn’t understand what I was getting myself into and no, I don’t regret it, but maybe I would’ve thought harder about going through with it.
After thinking it through I felt much more confident with my decision to sign the contract. I now know that any contracts or money offered to me will never be better than being an independent artist. I never want anyone telling me how to look or how to play or just simply take away my artistry. I know some people would die for a contract like this but being an independent artist is so rewarding. When you are able to reach your goals by yourself it is the most magical feeling in the world. So I guess the moral of this story is: Know Your Worth. This statement can go for music but also life in general. It's so hard to know how much you are worth, especially as an artist who is just starting off. But If you think a big record deal is the right thing for you then go for it! Be so confident in yourself that you don’t have to second guess! But that being said you have to think about things like that, realize your worth in that situation. You are the only person that you need to live for so you mine as well make your time on earth unforgettable.
I am now on waiting to board my flight home and am feeling so grateful for the opportunities that I have experienced throughout this trip. Traveling (partially) alone is a very accomplishing feeling. That being said I haven’t home for a week and I really need to catch up on some homework and give my dogs and cute boyfriend a hug. Here are some pictures from the trip. ( the first picture is the contract rule that I signed and agreed to)
I’m feeling very sentimental.
I can’t wait to travel again soon.
The world is so cool.
You may think that the voice is just a TV show that people just walk up on stage and sing. I am here to tell you that it is NOT. The voice is much more.
It all started in early spring/early summer of 2017. (which also happened to be my junior year) I got an email from the voice saying that they would like me to skip the cattle call auditions and come straight to Philadelphia for Call back auditions. So my dad and I drove 8 hours to Philly the last week of my junior year. When we got to the Philly audition we sat in a room for hours in a recording studio that many famous hip hop/ RnB artists made huge hits. I was very struck being there. In the waiting room were a lot of other contestants which that I didn't realize at that I would be spending a month with.
So I made it past call backs and they flew us out to LA for 4 days for executive auditions. The hotel was fairly average and my dad and I mainly kept to ourselves except for the last day when I met Maude Latour, Britton Buchanan, and Eliza Black who were all minors along with myself. There were 3 groups of executives and we were apart of the first group which meant we weren't going to meet the other contestants unless we made it blinds. Luckily all 4 of us made it to blinds.
So in the first month of my senior year my dad and I flew back out to LA but this time we stayed for a month. The first day that we were there, Maude and I got super attached to each other and it stayed like that until the day we left. The first week was fairly boring and then we finally moved into the fun activities. There were a lot of meetings, singing work shops, voice lessons, wardrobe, staging and more. Myself and the rest of the minors had to go to a conference room on weekdays to attend school and there I met some awesome people (Brynn Cartelli, Alexa Cappelli, Sophia Dion, Mercedes Ferreria-Dias, Callie Young, Jaclyn Lovey, Teana Bostons, and Britton and Eliza were there too, ) we all became good friends and definitely created a clique full on minors.
We weren't allowed to leave the hotel so we would all go to jam rooms, swim, work out, watch movies together, or go across the street to eat along with occasional target run when we were allowed. But as the days in the hotel dragged on we stopped going to jam rooms, the pool became boring, the sun became to hot, and the work out room got really smelly. Everyday became very routine and I was close to going insane by the time we got home.
So blinds rolled around and continued for a week. Every night we were all called to a meeting in a big conference room and names would be called of the people who were going to be performing the next day. This process was the worst part because the anticipation was killing me and I'm sure everyone else. (they even took away our phones until we finished the audition.) But Luckily I was called the second day along with Maude and don't have much to complain about. But because the teams filled up so quick more then half of the contestants that were there didn't even get to do a blind audition. (They pretty much stayed at that hotel for a month for no reason)
The process of doing the Blind literally took all day, I mean we were there from 9 am until 11. (We were also able to be re united with my mom and sister who we haven't seen for a month,) It took so long because we had to do all the B roll shots for the show and interviews and we had to wait for the people before us to finish what they were doing. It was a really cheesy process and my family was really bad at it.
The actual audition itself wasn't as bad or nerve wrecking as I thought. In fact I almost felt as if I was in virtual reality because everything looked so fake. I got on stage and sang my song not even worry about the coaches because I was so invested in the piece. So I got no chair turns and when I finished my song the judges all turned toward me. To sum it all up they told me that they thought I was an older woman and if they would've known I was 17 they would've turned. They also told me I sounded like Janis Joplin and Kelly said I should start a band......hmm never thought of that lol. So I gave them all hugs and walked back to my family to see my sister crying telling me she was mad at my for not getting a chair turn and my mom and dad giving me a hug saying I did great. I was then sent to a psychologist in the back of the studio in some very strange office which was super weird and she asked if I was ok and I was like yeah girl Im good..... We were then put in a van and sent to another hotel with the rest of our belongings and the day after we flew home.
I will never regret my time at The Voice but I must say it was not for me. I am a musician that values music for what it is and I don't believe that it should ever be a competition. It sucked being away from home for a month because I missed out on so much. I don't have a senior photo in the year book, I don't have real classes except for choir because I had to take all online, I missed playing field hockey like I did for the past 3 years, and most of all I missed my band mates and boyfriend. I will never forget the friends I made and the things I experienced and if you are looking to do the voice I fully encourage it.
My audition was not aired, I'm not sure why, I will never see it, but I wouldnt trade this experience for anything.
If you want to see some video footage, checkout my youtube page : https://youtu.be/BlzihwENBjg
Jill Jack is such an amazing person and has helped guide me through a lot of my music career whether she knows it or not. I met her at 20 front street in Lake Orion when I opened for her the first time. She treats everybody like they are her closest friends and that was really comforting to my nerves before I went on. This show was her 12th annual birthday bash and i really couldn't believe that she asked me to open for her because this event is so significant. It was also really cool to meet her daughter, Emma. They are so similar its crazy. Along with meeting Emma, I also met her band members and they are all so awesome and nice. It was such an honor to open for her on her birthday bash and I couldn't have asked for a better night. Her new album is amazing, everyone should check it out.
Gigs can either be the best time of your life or the worst. The best gigs are why most musicians are musicians and make all the hard work worth it. Though most gigs are 3 to 4 hours long in some dingy bar where no one is there for music. Being so young, most people don't treat me with too much respect but I have also had some great hosts.
Recording music can be very fun but is also one of the hardest parts of being a musician. Every musician wants to make sure the music they put out is the music that they want their fans to hear and it may not seem like it would be but, it's very hard to record the kind of music you want to portray. I say this mainly because if your a great live band, it's nearly impossible to record the sound that you have on stage in the studio. I’ve found that the best way to record is to do it in a place where you're comfortable. I'm my case, my comfort zones are my basement and Red Herring’s bassist, Max’s studio.
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Rock and blues singer from Detroit, Mi