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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Hallie In the House!

Hey everybody! I've got a pretty cool surprise for you. My baby sister and drummer of Queens Over Kings, Hallie, has taken some time out of her Spring Break to say hello and tell you a little bit about herself! Check out her message below and I'll see you next week:

Hallie thumbs up
Hello Persons of the Universe,

I'm Hallie - sounds like 'Cali.' I am the drummer for Queens Over Kings, but I'm mostly known for my fashion style. My outfits are the same as what everyone else wears, like skinny jeans and t-shirts, except with a lot of designs and lots of pink. My style brings out my uniqueness, which helps me shine when I'm in the back playing the drums.

Fashion allows people to see how special we are as a band too. Everyone dresses in their own way but we take the time to pick things that go together. I think everyone's fashion sense in the band is good, but Jerald is my favorite. He dresses in easy outfits so he can jump around when he's playing the guitar. I can tell he's excited about something.

That something is probably the band. We are going to L.A. and I am super, duper, uber excited to go! You guys should feel the same way because you can be part of the story by helping us get there. I just know you do NOT want to feel left out of something amazing happening. You guys are probably on our website right now donating. If you are, you're an awesome person. If you're not, well, then :( sad face to you. I'm sorry if that hurts your feelings. You can still be helpful by sharing! I would still be happy because we'd be closer to our goal thanks to you!

That's all I have to say. Goodbye Peoples of the Galaxy.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Back To the Beginning of Queens Over Kings

Hold on folks because we are going back to the beginning of Queens Over Kings including a terrible video, blurry picture, and teeny, tiny versions of all of us! Okay so maybe it's not that far back. I mean, it was only five years ago. But still, when one takes into account how we've changed our perspective on QOK there is quite the developing story here, reminiscent of a rolling snowball. The concept just keeps getting bigger, and admittedly sometimes out of control. It's definitely not always rainbows and sunshine around here. But that's a post for another time. Instead I want to talk about how the band came to be and why it's worth knowing.
Relay for Life stage

There are some important layers to how everything came together, such as Jerald falling in love with the guitar and Hallie asking for a drum set and having people like Kevin who believed in us. There would be no Queens Over Kings without these, and other, small pieces of the puzzle. Kevin would be further responsible for one of the defining moments of the band: our debut, if you will, performing Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" to ten people on high school track field for a local Relay for Life event. Please don't be a hater when you watch this video LOL.

The day was a hot and humid one like any other Northern Virginia summer day. We had unpacked everything in the Suburban for the one song. "Don't Stop Believing" had been the perfect choice since the song is such a classic and it allowed each of us to have a part. The funny thing is we don't like playing that song anymore and yet we owe everything to it. Being on stage for those brief three or four minutes lit a small spark in us. The potential for music to be something we actually do clicked and from there everything sprouted. After this performance we created a dedicated practice space. For the next few years we spent the Summer casually playing around the area, opening for Jamie Grace and RDGLDGRN. Then this year we brought it all together. We started working towards making this a real deal. Three months down with many more to come. I'm excited, and curious, to see how it progresses.

So long story short one day I'm a substitute teacher in Ogden, Utah and the next I'm back home in the Washington, DC area as an aspiring musician. The decision to move was by no means an easy one, however even amidst the uncertainty I can say it will be worth the stress. My dreams have value. As I look at my life I think it is so terribly ordinary. I'd go so far as to say that I've accomplished very little, if anything at all. I struggle with terrible self-perception. What's more is I enjoy WAY too many things to choose only one to define me (though I wish with all my heart that I could). This makes recognition of how I contribute to those around me difficult to recognize and understand.

Everything the Light Touches exists to celebrate and share my small successes so that I may learn to overcome that feeling as well as appreciate myself a little better. I know I am not alone in the desire to feel my presence makes a difference. This is to be a place of encouragement and recognition of the steps that add up to the ultimate goal, whatever you choose it to be. I choose to be in a band, to be a wife, to be a blogger, to be a believer in God, and, like I said earlier, plenty more. As an example, being in a band with my siblings keeps me going, it gives me purpose; it allows me to feel useful, creative, and special. That's what goals and dreaming is all about. Your expectations and passions make you unique. Follow through on them because no one else will. If you have something you have always wanted to try I must tell you to go and do it! And if you're looking for a boost sign up for the ETLT email list or follow along with me online using the links below. Good luck!

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

3 Things I'll Do Differently On Our Next Road Trip

Three Things I'll Do Differently On Our Next Road Trip

I am not intimidated by the road trip. I have had many an opportunity to jump in the car headed to somewhere: Maryland to New York & Canada, Virginia to Disney World, Idaho to Los Angeles, Idaho to Washington, Utah to Washington, family reunions in Yellowstone and Utah. I consider most of my trips good travel memories. However, there is one trip that stands out as a sort of failure to me.

Spencer and I had the ridiculously cool experience of packing up everything into our '98 Camry and hitting the open road from Utah to Virginia. Sounds perfect right? A young married couple and their trusty pup tour the good old USA. We should have stopped to see and do all the things. And I should have enough visual proof the trip to fill at least 3 scrapbooks. Yeah, that's not what happened. It was my first time on such a classic road trip - I have never felt more American than I did when we drove over the Mississippi River - and no one will ever know it actually happened!

This post could go on about the excitement of crossing each state line, the big beautiful blue sky. You have a right to bask in the nostalgia that is the cross country road trip. Unfortunately that's not what I have to offer because I have nothing to show for it. What I do have are my regrets. Thinking about that trip summons a sharp lump in my throat, stuck in the thought of the so-far-from-perfect road trip. I may have a travel complex now.

I have to validate that trip now. I have to represent myself as a seasoned traveler. I have to make traveling one of my "things." But I don't really want to. You might consider it. If you do I suggest taking time to make sure it fits your interests and lifestyle.

What I really want to do is plan ahead so I'm not caught feeling sorry for myself again. There are 3 things that I hope to remember to do next time, because there WILL be a next time...

On Your Next Road Trip Remember To...

1. Take More Pictures!
cross country road trip with pets
Not taking pictures is the number one thing I regret the most. That's why I put it first. The only pictures I have are of a restaurant we ate at in Kansas, which I can't find, and this one of Muggle sleeping on our big pile of stuff in the backseat.

Spencer was not into hanging out at many touristy things, such as presidential libraries (we passed 3!) or searching out "Triple D joints," so there wouldn't have been a ton of attractions to take pictures of. Still, our trip would have been interesting enough if we had taken pictures of what we did do. I could have documented state signs, funny license plates, jamming out to my music playlists, and the gorgeous landscape. Phone cameras these days are freaking amazing. You could take some serious portraiture. It was such a waste for me to not try. Now that I have a DSLR I'm trying to put it to good use.

2. Read Reviews, But Also Trust Your Instincts
Originally I tried to plan this trip from point to point. I loved using Roadtrippers for our trip to LA and I was eager to do it again, especially since it was Spencer's birthday and I wanted to stop at something awesome. I researched each possible stop and read review after review to get a feel for what they offered. Online reviews can be pretty important. Often they have some very valuable information. It's always good to make informed decisions.

At the same time, though, you need to trust your own judgement because you might miss out on something wonderful. There was a prairie dog zoo right off the highway that we had planned to see, but some of the reviews said it wasn't well taken care of. Even though we wanted to see the little guys SO BAD we decided to keep driving based on the reviews. Now I think that's Spencer's biggest regret of the trip. I always wonder if maybe the owners had seen the reviews and changed the way they ran the place. You just never know.

3. Allow Yourself More Downtime
Spencer (and I) was so set on getting to Virginia quickly that we didn't sleep well and spent our breaks at rest stops and in restaurant parking lots. So not only did we not spend any time at interesting places, we didn't spend much time outside of the car at all. If we had taken breaks more often and at neat attractions the trip would have been even more enjoyable.

The weather was beautiful on our entire trip so we definitely could have at least hung out at some parks. I also would suggest not being afraid to add an extra day - unnecessary deadlines lead to unnecessary stress, hence the lack of sleep. If you use your time wisely there won't be any reason to worry. It could be you'll get there when you get there.

Thanks to Spencer's schedule we made it safely to Virginia in extremely good time. The car didn't die on the way, despite it's being incapable of making it out of the driveway three days before we left, so that was awesome. Muggle made it in one piece too. For our next trip we have a friends wedding coming up back in Ogden. It's crazy that we'll be going there so soon after leaving. Don't worry we'll be flying, which is a whole different story. Maybe someday I'll consider travel a more desirable pastime. What about you? Join the ETLT email list to participate in the Make Leisure Sweeter hobby workshop to see what works for you. Try travel, writing, drawing, or something else you've always wanted for one month and see if it makes the cut.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Current Favorites Playlist

I am a big fan of music: I listen to it, I sing it, I hope to make some sort of career out of it. This is all to the point where I have moved across the country with my husband and puppy to live in my parents' house with eleven other members of my family to be in the band Queens Over Kings. That's dedication (and faith) man. Since focusing on the band my siblings and I are looking forward to writing more of our own songs together. Part of that is defining each of our influences and figuring out how they work together to create the sound that is Queens Over Kings. It's been interesting to see the five of us create something that highlights our blended style.

The musical influences we have come from many different places. For me it's mostly the music my parents listened to when I was growing up. Our parents have always enjoyed multiple generations of music. On any given Sunday morning we're hanging out to Earth, Wind, and Fire, George Michael, Disney Classics, ABBA, Adele, or even Handel and Bach. I have memories of walking around the house aimlessly singing Madonna's Bedtime Stories album or riding in the car to school with the local "oldies" station playing jams from the '60s and '70s. With this type of exposure, and of course our personal tastes, each member of the band has developed a very distinct musical style. And it can vary greatly. Lately I've been enjoying James Taylor radio. I always come back to the subtle singer/songwriter. But today's hits make it on my mixes too, especially if they have a bit of old school energy. So here are a few songs that I am loving right now.

Special shout out to my friend Taylor Berrett who's album Great Falls has officially hit stores! I'm loving his song Those Days which heads the playlist. Have you heard the album? What kind of music do you listen to? I'd love to know. Find me online with the icons below and follow my Music Only Twitter account for a glimpse at what I'm listening to on the daily.

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Kristyn here. I'm really good at Googling, dreaming, and thinking outside the box. Someday I'm going to save all the puppies and perform on a Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade float.

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