What you can learn from a modern troubadour at the country club.

The guy in the hat in the picture above is singer-songwriter Mason Reed.  His voice is super cool – like Tom Waits and Jason Mraz made a singing baby with an awesome ‘stache and a hippie beard.   And the guy next to him is playing a mandolin.  Do you know how musically gifted you have to be to learn the mandolin?  Well, neither do I, but I was told it’s really hard and since I never mastered that damn recorder in fourth grade, I’m impressed.  I’m using this crummy, grainy shot to show you that these two very hip and talented young men spent last Friday night playing at the Las Posas Country Club (along with Nathan McEuen, another supremely talented and very hip dude).  In the background, you can see the shiny holiday decorations and the LPCC Crest on the wall behind them.  They were sooo good (and I highly recommend that you go check them out) but I actually posted this picture to make a point about divorce.  You knew the crazy divorce metaphor was coming, right?

I doubt that during all those long hours of song-writing, mandolin-practicing, “singing in the mirror with your hairbrush” time that these guys must have spent to get as good as they are, that they sat around and dreamed of the night they would get to play for, let’s just say, a “mature” audience at a suburban country club.  I suspect that, as their fingers calloused from the guitar strings, they dreamed of hearing their songs on the radio or playing to stadiums full of screaming fans.  But right now, they are playing the bar at a country club in a town where people come to die (aka retire).  Just some really talented musicians making a buck.  Life doesn’t always play out like our adolescent dreams.

I’m writing this as we enter the holiday season because a lot of divorced families are about to face holidays that don’t look at all like they imagined.  No one dreams of keeping one eye on the clock while the kids open presents so you make sure to get to your custody exchange location on time.  No one imagines that one day whether they get to see their kids dig into their stockings or not depends on whether it’s an “odd” or an “even” year.   But life doesn’t always turn out the way we thought it would and here we are, muddling through with what we have and who we are today.

I choose to believe that those musicians are still pretty happy to make a living playing in the ‘burbs instead of working jobs they hate.  I’m sure they could get part time work doing something else and only play at the “cool” venues, but if they insisted on maintaining the life their adolescent dreams told them they “should” have they would have missed out on Dolores*.  She was the 83 year old lady sitting in front of me that was smiling and dancing in her chair- you couldn’t have asked for a more appreciative audience member than Dolores blowing kisses at you.  There has to be some joy found in making adorable old ladies shimmy instead of doing a shift at Starbucks.

And just like those musicians playing in a venue they never thought they’d find themselves in, even if our holidays don’t quite fit the Norman Rockwell image of the perfect American family, maybe we can find the joy in the upside of life taking an unexpected turn.  Divorce might mean that instead of cramming the kids in the car to drive for hours to your in-laws, you get to spend the whole day in your pajamas, sipping champagne.   Maybe instead of faking cheer while you’re seething with anger inside on Christmas because you and your spouse got in a fight while putting bikes together at midnight, you get sole decision-making power to pay the extra $20 to buy it pre-assembled and get a good night’s rest.

Even if life didn’t quite turn out like we imagined, we have the opportunity to make a life we could have never imagined, because it exceeds our wildest dreams.  The secret happiness to a broken family is that we don’t have to do things the way they “should” be, because we can’t.  We have to make it all up as we go, acknowledging from experience that it won’t turn out quite like we planned but it might turn out better than we hoped.  Thankfully, we are only limited by our imagination, not the four corners of a Norman Rockwell painting.

Whether you are facing these holidays as a divorced family or not, I’d like to challenge you to question all the places where the “shoulds” creep in and make your holiday less than special.  I hope you’ll share with a comment below how you are creating the holidays of your dreams by allowing for imperfections.

*I completely made up Delores’ name and eye-balled her age because I didn’t want to interrupt the awesome time she was having. 😉


  1. I love This keri! i am always trying to remember not to get caught up in the fantasies and illusions of the holidays (or marriage.) i wish i had caught that band. joe would have joined on the spot.

    you have truly captured a moment in time and made it resonate with your followers. i think that is what happiness is all about. xxoo

    • We’ll let you know the next time they are playing. 🙂 And YES true happiness always comes from the real moments, doesn’t it? Thank you SO much for the kind words, it makes the late night typing away feel valued.

  2. This post is more fun to read if you have my “Unknown Favorites” Playlist playing on Spotify while you read it. 😉

  3. Esther Durán Lumm says:

    Keri, you have certainly given some good advice in this blog. So good in fact, that I’m going to send an email to our family so that if anyone is either separated, divorced or contemplating either of those, they can benefit from your thoughtful and meaningful words. Keep up the great work; we are so proud of you! Love you!

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