Everyday Conversations, From Live It Everyday

  • It's Always Better Live ... Don't You Think?

    Elvis 1

    Elvis 2

    Live music was infiltrated in my life in, like I’ve said, family gatherings and church, and through our neighbors, the Reeds. The Reeds had a big family and played Bluegrass music. Every family member played multiple instruments.  It was Bluegrass Festival every weekend at their house and that’s where I found my love of bluegrass music.

    Curt and Patsy, my mom and dad, sang some at church and loved going to Gospel Sings, Jubilees, and Song Fest as we called them in the South.  I had no choice in the matter for attending these “singings” and had to go, because Curt said so.

    I made the best of it and found a few things to help the time pass.  I didn’t like the most of the songs—some of the singers shouldn’t been singing anyway—and I could’ve made a better use of my time.  Sometimes these things seemed to last almost all night long.  To help pass the time, there were a few things you could do. You could eat. There was always food—those good Christian Southern women can flat out cook and they step it up even more on the desserts.  And, every now and then there’d be a peroxide blond whose daddy made her go, which of course helped pass the time much better.  Of course, there were some good groups that I actually liked but I never told my parents because it would’ve made it easier for them to keep making me go.

    Growing up, I was able to catch some great concerts, ACDC, Bob Segar, and Dylan to name a few.

    I’ve been fortunate to have been able to hit some of the best live music scenes in the country—Nashville, Memphis, Austin, New Orleans, and of course the bluegrass festivals in Kentucky.  I truly love these places bar hopping and catching great live music.

    With that said, this week’s playlist salutes great live performers, performances and live recordings. Leading us off the King, famous for his great performances (excluding when he ripped his jump suit).

    1. Elvis Presley – Suspicious Minds
    2. James Brown – Living In America, still feeling patriotic from Memorial Day
    3. Johnny Cash – Folsom Prison Blues
    4. Cheap Trick – I Want You To Want Me
    5. Nirvana – In The Pines – MTV Unplugged
    6. The Band – Anything from The Last Waltz
    7. The Quintet (Charlie Parker, Dizzie Gillespie, Charles Mingus, Bud Powell, Max Roach) - Jazz At Massey Hall
    8. Peter Frampton – Do You Feel Like We Do
    9. The Allman Brothers - 'Live at the Filmore East'
    10. Kiss – Kiss Alive

    Have a good weekend, Mike

  • A Rainbow In The Clouds: A Tribute To Maya Angelou

    Maya Angelou


    A great voice and inspiration in our generation has passed away. To hear that Maya Angelou had died at 86 yesterday was heartbreaking for me. Of course, I didn’t know Maya personally, which makes that statement sound rather silly, but I have met her. Two years ago, I was working for my campus newspaper, The Murray State News. When we got word that Maya Angelou was giving a speech as a part of our annual Presidential Lecture Series (which has brought in speakers like Spike Lee, Ben Stein, and Bill Nye (you know, the science guy)), I was ecstatic to get the opportunity to meet and interview her. Excitement soon led to unashamed nervousness as I realized I would get to not only be in the same room as the woman whose works I had poured over in high school, but that I would get to speak to her personally. Amazing. I did my research -- I examined interviews from Maya in her younger years; I looked for interviews from her more seasoned years. I watched the way she really spoke to her interviewers; I focused on her ability to impart wisdom.

    When the day came that I was to meet her, I was sick. No part of me wanted to go to work, to put my heels on, and pull out my recorder. It was a great opportunity, I knew, but there were other things to do. Lay in bed, actually, sounded the best at the time. But, I was working. It was my job. I ran across campus in my wedges which later rubbed blisters the size of quarters in my heels. Every time I wear those shoes, I think of that day, sprinting through the parking lot in a dress. I was warned that tardiness would not be acceptable (that's a bit of a problem for me). I waited outside the concourse that led to the room where she apparently was waiting. In the mean time, I met one of my very best friends, who I'm still incredibly close to today. Maya had interviews with the local newspapers, The Murray Ledger and Times, The Paducah Sun, they were all there and much more versed than me. I looked at my prepared questions, and began to tremble. This was a big deal. She was a big deal. She is a big deal.

    “What’s your name?” she asked me as I walked in the room where our student body president, our adviser, my soon to be best friend, a cameraman who I'm also close to, stood. My pen jiggled in my hand. I told her my name.

    “And you have questions for me, Ms. Russell?” What could I do but stammer yes?

    My first thought when I saw her was that she was much older than I had anticipated. She was on oxygen, and was continually on the cameraman to “put that thing away” when it strung up to her nose, intertwined in a long, gold necklace. She did so nicely, of course. The woman doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. Her eyes were masked by shaded lenses, but she looked at me as she spoke slowly and deliberately. Her hands were manicured and laid delicately across her brown dressed lap. She was in a wheelchair. She was 84 years old.

    Looking at my notebook, which fit perfectly in the palm of my left hand, I read my first question. I could hardly hear myself I was so nervous. But she began talking, and that made all the difference.

    She told us to be an inspiration, no matter what our age. The words she used? A rainbow in the clouds. She explained that our age didn’t matter. “Not enough adults tell you that you are the best we have,” she told me. “We need your courage; courage is the most important of all the virtues.” I scribbled, my hand still shaking. She was the kind of woman you wanted to drink coffee with. I wanted to absorb what she was saying, never forget it. What Maya Angelou said to me that day was insurmountable. What I remember, though, is the way she said my name every time she answered a question. Her answers were long and thoughtful and as she looked at me, spilling out words of reassurance, she said my name. And she told me, quite simply, to be a rainbow in someone else's clouds.

    Today, I am sad. Maya Angelou is gone. But, her words will be with us always. They have changed and shaped the nation and forever, I am grateful.


    Maya Quote

    “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive, and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor and some style.”

    “I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be bettertomorrow. I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life. I’ve learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life. I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. I’ve learned that everyday you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

    “Listen to yourself and in that quietude, you might hear the voice of God.”

    “You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody.”

    “I believe that each of us comes from the creator trailing wisps of glory.”

    “We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated."

    “Nothing can dim the light which signs from within.”


    Maya, you were quite a woman. And you will be dearly, dearly missed.


  • Family Events Are The Best Events

    You guys! So much exciting news!

    We've talked a little before about the charities that we work with. By now, you probably know that 11% of each sale goes to a charity that is in the same category of the design that was purchased. Homes For Our Troops was featured earlier this week (here and here) as we enter into the season of celebrating our great nation on the Fourth.

    Today, though, I have some exciting news. News that makes me want to jump up and down. Seriously, people. Get. Excited.

    Every year, Show Hope, an organization that benefits from our world peace designs (you can click at the bottom of the post!) host a Family Fest in honor of Steven Curtis and Mary Beth Chapman's (the president and vice president of the organization) daughter, Maria Sue, who passed a way a six years ago. And guess what? We're going! We're going and we encourage you all to head out to the day of fun planned in Nashville, Tennessee! Click here for all of the details and plans for fun!

    Here are the designs that support Show Hope!


    men // womenDSC_4283-KyserEdit
    men // women IMG_1435
    men // women

    Tweet us and let us know if you're there! We'd love to hear from you!

    Patiently awaiting Saturday, Haley

    Charity // Show Hope, Event // click here, Photos // David Wallace
  • For the Love of the Race

    Running teaches you a lot about yourself. The pounding of your feet on the road or the treadmill day after day, month after month makes you question why this was ever "fun."

    A couple weeks ago, I ran my second half marathon. I was hot and sweaty and by the end, I thought I was dying. I literally collapsed at the finish line. My knees hurt. My legs were throbbing.

    But I love it. Running is my thing.
    My training for this race was not consistent at all. Some weeks I ran 30 miles, other weeks, eh, maybe 10. It was my last semester of school, I was working at the campus newspaper, freelancing for a magazine, and spending time with my fiancée. I knew I had a strong enough running background that I could slack some on training and still finish the race.

    But, 13.1 miles is not easy.

    I ran for almost 2 and a half hours. My legs trudged along (sometimes very slowly). My thoughts scattered. And, once I crossed the finish line I stopped. Literally. My legs stopped, I bent down to grab my knees, which as this point were throbbing and begging for me to do anything else other than run, and I collapsed. There was no way I was getting up without assistant. With the help of a sorority sister and a race volunteer, I made my way over to the grass where I could finally sit down.

    Murray Half 3 (4-24-14)

    The race was finally over.

    The details?

    The first couple of miles were awesome. I was running on adrenaline and bunched in a group with other runners, all trying to find our pace. Spectators and spirit teams lined the sidewalks. It’s an awesome experience. People woke up at 6 a.m. to watch me and hundreds of others run. That’s pretty incredible.

    Murray Half 1 (4-24-14)via

    Once I hit the 4 mile mark, I finally settled into my race pace. I was running about a 9:50 mile and my goal was to beat last year’s time of 2:14.01. But, by the end of the race, my ideas changed.

    By mile 9, I was hurting. Everything in and on my body hurt. My arms were heavy, my legs felt like they were barely moving, and I was starving. Eating gu-chews were not cutting it. I wanted real food.

    By the time mile 12 came along, I knew the finish line was close. But, I also knew I would not be finishing under the time I wanted. My next goal? To finish in under 2:20 and to end the race strong.

    Murray Half 2 (4-24-14)

    The final stretch of the Murray Half Marathon is up hill. My lungs were burning, my legs hurt, and I couldn't suck in enough air. After 13 miles I could finally see the finish line. The last stretch of the race was filled with cheering spectators.

    The encouragement from the crowd is what helps me finish strong every time. I crossed the finish line, was handed a 13.1 finisher medal and a banana, and was greeted with congratulations from friends and strangers.

    My official time was 2:19.10

    After the race and the banana, I went back to my apartment, complained about climbing three flights of stairs to get to my door, halfway took a shower, and passed out for the next six hours.

    Half marathon #2 was a success.

    “I find significance in all kinds of small details when I run; I'm hyper aware of my surroundings, the sensations in my body, and the thoughts running through my mind. Everything is clearer, heightened. I might be more addicted to this clarity than I am to running itself.”

    Run happy, Meghann

  • Everything Memorial Day Is (And Everything It Isn't)

    Memorial Day.

    It's not a post on Facebook, a tweet, or a text. It's not a barbecue. It's not hamburgers on the grill, or picnics.

    Memorial Day is a day that honors those who have fought. Fought for our freedoms, fought for our country, our values, our lives. They are those who work so that we can. They are wounded. They are heroes. Heroes, that sometimes perish because of their faithfulness to our country and its people -- you and me.

    Today, we honor those who have fallen, defending the right to cookout, to post thankfulness on Facebook, and to have, for some, a day off of work.

    Half Staff

    As the tradition holds, we lower our flags half staff in honor of the brave men and women who have fallen protecting us. At noon, we will raise them, but we will never forget their sacrifice.

    Half Staff 2 For those of you who serve our country, thank you.

    The Live It Everyday team 

  • The Weekend Playlist: For The Heroes

    As a kid growing up in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, the old timers called it Decoration Day and seemed like they “decorated” the graves of all of their family and close friends that had gone on with flowers.

    Camp Nelson

    It was probably about the sixth grade when my favorite teacher, Mrs. Lafferty informed our class and me that it was Memorial Day and it was to honor men and women who died while serving their country.

    I guess folks just like calling it Decoration Day, what it was called after the Civil War when those from both Union and Confederate soldiers decorated their graves.  It still blows me away to think that 600,000 died in that war.  Later on, in 1966, President Johnson named it Memorial Day.  Still my earliest memories of the Memorial Day were putting flowers on the graves of family and friends.  Even though Memorial Day is to commemorate those who made the greatest sacrifice, many people use it to remember loved ones that have past and I think that’s OK.  Never forget and always remember the good things about those that have gone on.

    While we remember our family and friends it is extremely important that we take a few minutes to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice protecting our freedom.

    So to honor those I’ve added a quote to go along with this week’s playlist.

    “Posterity -- you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you make good use of it.”

    John Quincy Adams

    The spirit of this quote is captured in our patriotic t shirts George Washington’s Sword. We also give 11% of the sale of all of our patriotic apparel goes to Homes For Our Troops, an organization committed to building specially adapted homes for service members who have been severely injured in combat.  

    Without further ado, this week’s playlist for our fallen patriots.

    1. God Bless America -- Erving Berlin
    2. Star Spangled Banner -- Jimi Hendrix
    3. American Soldier -- Toby Keith
    4. Warrior -- Kid Rock
    5. Born In The USA -- Bruce Springsteen
    6. The Stars and Stripes Forever -- John Philip Sousa's
    7. America the Beautiful -- Katharine Lee Bates
    8. Remember the Heroes -- Sammy Hagar
    9. America -- Neil Diamond
    10. 10.  Born Free -- Kid Rock

    Have a great weekend, Mike

    Charity // “Homes For Our Troops, Apparel // women, men
  • Throwback Thursday: Live It Everyday's Birthday

    July 4th means a lot to us. One reason (of course) is the celebration of our nation. Another? Well, July 4, 2008 is when Mike, my dad and the Chief Cook and Bottle Washer (also the writer of the weekly playlist posts) came up with Live It Everyday. Just a teeny tiny idea.

    We were celebrating the Fourth with my uncle, my dad's brother, in Fort Knox where he was stationed. He'd just gotten home from a deployment and we were pumped out of our brains to hang with him and his family (after all, they bought the real sweet tea ... dad insists on diet). We're based out of Lexington, Kentucky, so Fort Knox is about an hour and a half, two hours away. We had a long (ish) trip in front of us and an impatient dad hanging out in the living room, waiting. He does that a lot. Our bad?

    Savannah Picture

    Brian, my uncle, is in the back behind his wife, Ashley and her daughter Emma, on the left. They're both active in the Army. Beside Brian is Liv and in front of her is Josh, Brian's son. Beside Liv is Adriane, my mom, Financial Guru for Live It Everyday, next to her, my dad (Chief Cook & Bottle Washer), then Summer, and me. This picture was taken in Savannah, where they're now at Fort Stewart, about two years ago.

    The night went gloriously. We ate, we laughed, we played. Our fireworks...well, we've had better years (we refuse to allow neighbors to upstage us anymore). But, it was an awesome day. On our way back, though, dad said a few things to us that really seemed to make a lot of sense: when we do something, he said, we need to do it everyday -- you know? Well, yeah. The girls and I played basketball growing up. My mom cheered through college and my dad, well, dad played about three sports at any given time and still has a flawless fadeaway jumper that is downright impossible to defend (I'm not bitter about that at all or anything). We were no strangers to playing everyday, whether we wanted to or not. Of course, we said. Doing it everyday is commitment. That's how you get good. (Unfortunately, no amount of commitment would make me enjoy playing post...but that's another story.)

    Soon after, we were drawing logos on the patio that we affectionally call the "Tiki Village" (for the standing candles, porch swing and good vibes it produces, of course). We had big dreams, dreams that are still very real to us today.

    Today, in honor of Throwback Thursday (sorry, Cara...I know you hate hashtags), I'm introducing you to my favorite design, one of the very first we ever came up with. We worked and reworked this one. You've seen me wear it when I went to Nashville last month, and no doubt you'll see me wear it again. I live for this shirt. Well, that might be a little much. But...anyway.

    Here's the first version, round one. We threw this in the "heck no" pile. Our focus groups, though, kept pulling it out. We were like, ummm, that's the trash pile. Little did I know they were pulling out one of my favorites.

    Throwback 2

    Here's the second version. I seriously cannot get enough of this design. The best part for me, too, is that 11% of the sale goes to Show Hope, one of the organizations with whom we work. I love them. They're an agency who works with orphans, addressing both their primary needs (food, clothing, etc.) and their need for a family. We have some unbelievably awesome things planned with Show Hope later (ten days to be exact.....). Seriously. You're gonna want to stay tuned for this one.

    IMG_1373 DSC_4236-KyserEdit

    Throwback Thursday is fun! I love looking back at how Live It Everyday has progressed, grown and changed. What about you guys? Do you have a favorite design?

    Happy Thursday!

    Apparel // womenmen

  • Withering Plant: The World Through A Humanitarian's Eyes

    Withering plant, c'est moi. It is a blessing to be the humanitarian always dreaming of traveling the world and progressing world peace but it comes at a price when I feel trapped in a dying society. Are ya' with me? All you international geeks who stalk the Washington Post and wish your friends knew where Syria is, whether Putin is the good or bad guy, and what the heck Palestine is. But let's face it, even us international geeks fear addressing the latter.

    C'est moi -- It is me.

    Withering Plant Graphic 1

    But that is what us passionate people long for. To be engaged in topics beyond the latest fingerprint-reading iPhone, which celebrity just went to jail, or juicy dating gossip. We are disinterested in the millennial trends of bubble necklaces, crop-tops, or the infamous: #selfie, #MCM, #WCW, #TBT, #SS, #Hashtag.

    #ShutUp #ICantEven #SorryImNotSorry

    Phew. I need a breather.

    This generation is withering away.

    I too am withering away because this culture drains me. How can I go about my days feeling inspired in a place that lacks perspective? Right now I am serving as a coordinator for a brand new charity called Childero. We are building a foundation that financially supports orphans in Uganda. Dero in the local language means light, so the organization's mash-up name signifies Child of Light.

    As we diligently build this organization, I often feel like a withering plant. I work two jobs throughout the week and I find myself drained of joy because being a waitress just isn't my dream job when I'm longing to be in Uganda with the kids. And working 40 hours a week on top of  my other commitments leaves me exhausted. Moreover, living in this society that focuses on making sure the memory is documented online before it is ever lived out in real life, I mean ... That is just stupid. I refuse to bond myself with such short failings in life.

    Q: So how do I replenish my joy? How do I maintain a respiratory inspiration?

    A: I look for people in need right here.

    I am a huge advocate that age, place, and resources mean nothing. Last week I taught the youth group students at my church. We discussed the idea of "missions" and service trips. I told them that you don't have to buy a $4,000 plane ticket to Africa to change the world. You don't have to be 35 years old to finally be qualified enough to make a difference. And surely you don't need an entire soccer program or soup kitchen full of resources to create the only way to a lasting impact.

    NO. It is here and now, as we are. You can make a difference for one person if you just look around you.

    I too fall short. One morning at the restaurant the entire staff was plagued by poor attitudes. No one had anything nice to say that day and the complaints were relentless. I usually feel immune to such attitudes but by the end of my shift I found myself guilty.

    My shift was nearly over but the manager sat one of my tables and I was forced to stay. I slumped myself over to the table half-heartedly greeting the elderly woman who sat alone. She mumbled something back to me with her head down and I about lost all of my patience because mumbling customers get under my skin. "I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" I yelled at her inside of my sound-proof imagination. She continued to look down and mumble to herself so I proceeded with my duties, "What would you like to drink?" I asked. She responded by murmuring something about needing alcohol and hinted towards serious alcoholic habits.

    My entire soul froze. My anger evaporated and I realized that this woman just needed someone to talk to.

    "Ma'am, are you okay? Is your day going all right?" I was completely invested in this woman. I peered past her eyes into her soul and made sure she knew I was here to listen.

    She began to tell me a story: Her life was a mess, she was depressed, her husband was a jerk, and she said, "I just want to leave this world." With that, I broke past any boundaries that my job, the booth, or being strangers posed and I pulled her into my arms. We embraced and she fumbled over her words. I just told her that her day was going to get better.

    I took her order and we continued about our business but before she left I encouraged her. She was truly grateful. The foxy lady even put on a fresh coat of lip gloss before heading out to face the world again.

    That one conversation may have prevented her from taking her life that night. The encounter gave both of us inspiration. An everyday conversation CAN change the world.

    We don't have to be world class humanitarians working overseas to make an impact. Inspiration cycles through willing people who go about their normal days seeking for opportunities to care for someone even on your worst of days.

    Withering Plant Graphic

    Who is that for you -- how can you Live It Everyday?

    The sluggish cashier at your favorite fast-food station?

    Your mom, who you maybe haven't said "I love you" to in a while?

    Your boss, who never has anyone to praise or encourage him/her?

    The grumpy old lady fumbling through her coin purse who may just need a word of kindness?

    Open your eyes. Look around you. We all feel like withering plants from time to time but I promise joy will replenish you the more that you seek to replenish others.

    Until next time, Cara Hope Starns

  • How Stories Like The Hoyt's Encourage Us

    Last week, I talked a little about my thoughts on the Boston Marathon. Now, I want to share a story that will leave you inspired.

    After 37 years of running together, Rick and Dick Hoyt have run their final marathon. If you don’t know who I’m talking about, drop what you're doing and Google them, look them up on YouTube, and learn their story. It will move you to tears.

    Team Hoyt (4-29-14)


    Here’s the quick version.

    “It’s going to be unbelievable, this is going to be our 32nd Boston Marathon,” Dick Hoyt told Runners World in a pre-Boston Marathon interview. “Last year, we did not go across the finish line, we were stopped at the 25-mile marker. But we will be out there, we will get across it this year, it’s going to be very emotional.”

    Seventy-three year old Dick has pushed his 51 year old son Rick who has cerebral palsy and is in a custom-made wheelchair, through more than 1,000 races.

    The inspirational duo had about a mile left to go during the historic 2013 Boston Marathon when the bombs exploded. The Hoyts were originally planning for last year’s Boston Marathon to be their last together. After the bombings, Dick said he knew he had to run again.

    It took Team Hoyt more than 7 hours to finish the race. Dick, a Veteran from the National Guard, has back problems and after more 1,000 races, he said it’s time to take a break.

    The most awesome thing? While Boston was the last race for the father-son duo, Dick said Rick will continue to compete, but someone else will be pushing him.

    What do you guys think? Have you heard about the Hoyts?

    Run happy, Megahnn

  • Why We Love May: Military Appreciation Month

    One of the things that I love about Everyday Conversations is just that, the conversations it inspires. The whole purpose for the team and contributors writing everyday is not only for you to get to know us, but for us to get to know you!

    With that said, my favorite part of May is easily the fact that it's military appreciation month. I mean, other than the fact that the April showers are gone and the May flowers are here. That's pretty hard to pass up. But, the military holds a special place in my heart. A lot of my family has been active in some branch or another, defending our country. I've prayed for homecomings and safety more times than I can count. So, a month dedicated to those who serve seems like a pretty good month to me, yes? Yes.

    I wanted to take advantage (the good kind, not the bad kind) of this month, though, and let you know of the organization that we work with to support our Patriots. For those of you who don't know, we are committed to giving at Live It Everyday. We believe that it is vital to give as we go and make a contribution above ourselves. Because of that, we give 11% of the money from each shirt to a charity or organization in that design's category. For our patriotic apparel, we give 11% of the income from that shirt before taxes to Homes For Our Troops, an organization committed "to build[ing] adapted homes for severely injured Veterans across the nation to enable them to rebuild their lives." Supported by people like Wynona Judd and Jacob Tamme, HFOT has an A rating on Charity Navigator, the site through which Live It Everyday finds the charities. If you're looking to support Homes For Our Troops, click here, or go on ahead and pick up a Patriotic tee for the Fourth (men, women). Your friends, well, they'll be almost as jealous as when you blow them out of the water with that fantastic firework display you've gone across the border for. Yay Fourth of July!

    HFOT Logo

    Stay tuned: next month, we've got some SUPER EXCITING things planned with HFOT. Keep watching Everyday Conversations, and as always, keep up with us on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates! We love to hear from you!

    See ya, Haley

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