I really need to blog more. I need to write more in general, honestly. Lately I have been working a lot (I have so many part-time jobs it’s crazy) and have been missing a creative outlet in my life. I feel like this is something that everyone potentially needs. Whether you take photos, write a blog, make YouTube videos, write songs, draw, paint, cook, make jewelry, or something else, it’s important to be creating something new. I think it legitimately helps your well-being and your mood. And not taking the time to create has been affecting me. I know I like writing, and I feel a pull to it, but often I don’t know what to write. So when inspiration strikes, I try my best to take advantage of it. So here I am.
A long time ago, I once started a blog post series about people in my life. I wrote about some of my best friends, my dad, my significant other, and even my dog. This post is perhaps a bit like one of those. See, sometimes in life I seem to just come across these certain people that somehow strike a chord with me. I get to know a bit about how they are, what they think, how they see life, and it just resonates with me. I end up feeling like they might just be someone who understands, someone who gets it. Someone who makes this crazy world make a little bit more sense because they seem to think how I think. And not only that, but most importantly… They seem to me to have it together, and that’s what makes them also rare. Sometimes they are celebrities. Sometimes they are people I meet personally (although I also have a tendency to go meet the celebrities in person eventually too!). The people I meet who seem to think like me – they become good friends, the people I talk to. The people I meet who seem to think like me and have it more together and know what they’re doing (even if they have their own struggles, which I’m sure they do – who doesn’t?), those people become the friends I look to as mentors, or at the very least as someone I look to to emulate or to help me make sense of things and try to find my way in life. Somehow, I also always seem to struggle to explain the role of these kind of people in my life, both to them or anyone else. Simply put, I admire them. Because I think they are great, I tend to want them to think I’m great too. I get intimidated and afraid that they won’t and I stay a bit distant. Or I risk it and end up feeling like I’m just being weird and clingy. Why is it that those we think the greatest of are always those that unintentionally bring out our feelings of inadequacy? But I digress. The point of my blog post today is to tell you about one of these people. Her name is Cari Ray.
I first met Cari Ray 13 years ago when I was a part of a program called Beyond Your Best. Beyond Your Best is a hard thing to explain. It was a training/life coaching workshop that consisted of three levels. Levels 1 and 2 were each a week long. Level 3 was 90 days long, and you went through it with other participants, small group coaches, and one overall group leader. When I was a participant in Level 3, Cari was my overall group leader. Because of this, I got to know her more as a leader or coach than as a friend at first. (Which is probably why she kind of still intimidates me sometimes!) She’s a really great leader, which is I think what impressed me most about her to begin with. You may not expect that when first meeting her in person. You’ve heard that “dynamite comes in small packages”, right? Well, that’s Cari. She’s not very big physically, but she’s got a lot of confidence and a big personality that can kind of take over a room (in a good way). It showed in her leadership style and shows now in what she does professionally. But I’ll get to that.
I spent 90 days with Cari as our group’s overall coach and then not too long after that when she led another group, I decided to ask if I could be a small group coach under her. Both were great experiences that I still refer back to. I remember listening to her both sitting in our group meetings as well as one-on-one with her and just thinking that what she had to say was both inspirational and made so much sense to me.
Fast forward a bit… That was 13 years ago, after all. Thanks to the magic of the internet and Facebook, I managed to somewhat stay in touch with Cari over those 13 years, even after moving first to Arizona and then Florida. See, her life has changed a bit too. She’s been a musician ever since I’ve known her, but now that’s kind of her full-time thing. She’s half of Cari Ray & The Shaky Legs and travels all over the country playing shows and entertaining audiences with Dionne (aka The Shaky Legs – she’s a drummer). I actually met Dionne before Cari, but that’s a whole other story about how small Indiana really is. They are really fun to see live. I’ve seen Cari perform alone when Dionne couldn’t be there, and although Cari’s the bigger personality, Dionne definitely adds a lot to the show.
Now, I have to add that when I say they travel full-time around the country playing shows, I mean just that. Their mostly permanent residence is a vehicle affectionately referred to as the “Cari Van”. In between shows, they can be found hiking, camping, fishing and enjoying nature. I love this! It’s just another thing I find inspiring – the ability to take something you love and are passionate about and intentionally make your life about it. Plus, as a result of it, I was able to reconnect again with Cari in person over the two years we were living in Florida, since she spent some time there playing shows. Now I’m just trying to get Cari Ray & The Shaky Legs out to California!
I feel really fortunate to have these kind of people like Cari in my life. Even when they may not understand it (or even really do think I’m weird and clingy!), they somehow help inspire me and keep me balanced. It’s good to know there are other people out there that “get it” in the same way as me and seem to think like I do that I can look to for inspiration and guidance at times.
I’ll end with this… Do yourself a favor and go see Cari Ray & The Shaky Legs when they’re in your area. Enjoy the show, and stick around to have a conversation with both of them later. You won’t regret it. And make sure to tell them I said hi!