“Because I’m a very private person, I don’t generally like to draw attention to myself or my family, so it took some time to build up the confidence to share my story. And I only do so because many of my friends have suggested that my journey might serve as an inspiration for others. If that is the case, then I would tell it one million times. Never, ever give up on your dream.”

SEEDS OF A DREAM

My name is Regan Ziegler. I was born in Arkansas City, Kansas, the same small town where my parents, Rod Ziegler and Jann Hilyard, grew up, met and eventually married. When I was five years old we left Ark City for Derby, a suburb of Wichita, and four years later, moved to El Dorado, a town of 10,000 also adjacent to the Flint Hills.

In the Flint Hills, you won’t find the corn and wheat fields that people generally associate with Kansas. Instead, you’ll find course, mineral-rich soil fortified by the flint rock below the surface; sprawling cattle ranches; and an abundance of high protein grasses that make for excellent grazing. In my eyes, this stretch of land is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and it was here that the seeds of music were planted in my heart.

In fairness, it was Derby where my first original melody popped into my head, and it happened when I was seven, while lounging on the bed in our spare bedroom (one that was only “spare” because my brothers and I shared a bedroom). We didn’t have much back then, but somehow I acquired an old, used classical guitar. I’m not sure where it came from, but I do remember where it went. I only played it for a couple of weeks before finding it smashed to pieces, and figured the responsible party was either the tooth fairy or one of my brothers. Since then, I always wanted another guitar, and the fact that there wasn’t one in the house made me want to play even more. Until that happened, I got my music fix by listening to Wichita’s KEYN radio and my parents’ vinyl records.

By the 7th grade, I had completed confirmation classes at the First United Methodist Church, and was thrilled when my parents rewarded me with a used Epiphone acoustic guitar that they bought for $140 from the owners of The Music Emporium, Don and Mary Ann Coke. Fully intent on learning to play, I took to mowing the yard at home and picking weeds at the First National Bank where my Dad worked, and used my earnings to take lessons from one Ann Collins. To get to her, I would ride my bicycle over two miles, steering with one hand while carrying my jumbo-sized guitar at my side in the other. It wasn’t easy paying for my own lessons, but my parents figured correctly that it would really make me want to get my money’s worth.

Ann was an excellent teacher, but she quickly discovered that I had no interest in reading music and/or tablature; I told her that I just wanted to learn the fingerpicking style of playing that she did so well. When she said, “Regan, that’s not the way it works,” I remember saying politely that since I was paying for the lessons myself, I wanted to learn how to fingerpick before I ran out of money. So for one full year, until she moved out of town, that’s exactly what we did. It was around that same time that I decided to start a band.

SCHOOL OF MUSIC

In middle school, I became friends with a drummer named Doug Clark, and we started jamming the day after I had scraped up enough money to buy a used, Sears electric guitar that plugged into a cassette player for amplification. A year later, having worked to save even more money, I purchased a black Kramer Strat for $750 that I still record with to this day, albeit with updated electronics. It was then, in the seventh grade, that I wrote the music for a song called, “That’s Alright,” but it would take ten more years for the melodies and lyrics to emerge in my head.

By the time we entered the eighth grade, Doug and I had assembled a full band, and we would practice our favorite songs as often as possible. At lead vocals was Derek Beaman, a gutsy perfomer who would over the years become one of my very best and most supportive friends. To subsidize our cause, I worked hard and was eventually able to buy a P.A., another guitar, two guitar amps, and two cars to boot. My classmates didn’t believe that I earned all of those things on my own, but that didn’t matter much to me. What mattered was playing music.

Over time, our band was privileged to play numerous homecoming assemblies on our “world tour” of El Dorado, which back then felt like the pinnacle of success. But that would pretty much be the end of performing live for me. Although music would remain at the forefront of my mind, I headed to the University of Kansas to pursue a degree in accounting and business administration.

At KU, while many students’ minds were consumed by thoughts of basketball, mine was filled with emerging melodies. Memorable musical concepts arrived with increasing frequency, and sometimes morphed into complete songs. I played guitar almost everyday, but with no further interest in playing other people’s music. That was then, and this was the beginning of my quest to become an original artist.

INTO THE "REAL WORLD"

When I graduated from the University of Kansas, I immediately moved to Los Angeles, with the goal of getting a job as an accountant in order to fund my pursuit of music. After every interview, I learned that my potential employers didn’t view me as an accountant (which I took as a compliment), but I ended up getting a full-time job nonetheless. But just six months later, the company was shuttered by the I.R.S., and I was on the job hunt once again.

At some point, while enjoying a beer at The Baha Cantina in Marina del Ray, I met Vernon McCoy, a charismatic connector from Boston who somehow convinced me to get into buying and selling used computer networking equipment, which I ended up doing for two years while the market was ripe. But when someone invented something called the Internet, everything changed overnight, and it was soon clear that this business had run its course. So I decided to take the money I had saved and move back to Kansas (namely, Kansas City) with the goal of purchasing a rental property.

In short order, I found the perfect place. An old fraternity brother was renting a two-unit house built in 1914, and I bought it with a plan to renovate it, live on one level, and rent out the other. With as little as I knew about real estate, much less renovation, I did learn quickly that not a single contractor in Kansas City would show up for work. So it was me who tore down most of the walls; did most of the plumbing, wiring, and tiling; and anything else that was required to get my project to the finish line. When it was ready, I found my renter and used the property’s equity as collateral to buy another. Before long, I had a few rentals in my portfolio, and was able to live off the income. At last, I could buy some recording equipment and maybe even make the time to learn how to use it.

Four years later, having finished a number of renovations and having made some pretty awful recordings of some of the songs I had written, I decided to sell everything and finally move to Nashville to pursue my dream. Surely like many other musicians who migrated to Music City with the same plan, I didn’t know a soul, and had a wad of credit card debt that I couldn’t pay off until I sold one of my properties. It was time to get to work.

REJECTION NUMBER ONE

Once settled in Nashville, I interviewed for a number of accounting jobs, only to hear once again that I didn’t seem like the accounting type. And once again, I took it as a compliment. But I was also marketing myself as a contractor, and ended up picking up work renovating historic homes. While working on a project at the home of Holly Lamar, co-writer of Faith Hill’s smash hit “Breathe,” I decided to take a chance and asked if she would listen to a rough demo recording of a song which I had written six years prior. When she agreed, I was pretty darned excited, and more than hopeful that she might actually like it.

Unfortunately, Holly didn’t think much of it. She said it “wasn’t catchy” and “didn’t do anything” for her. I was devastated. I remember thinking, “Man, I moved to Nashville to hear this?” But when the sting of my first rejection wore off, I realized that maybe she was right – maybe my song wasn’t very good, or maybe it just needed some more work. Today, I have Holly to thank (at least in part) for pushing me down the important path of continuous improvement.

Around the same time, I traveled back to Kansas City to pour concrete countertops at my last remaining rental property, and one of my new Nashville friends, Chip Nietfeld, would come along to show me how it was done. Chip, who was also from Kansas, was a great musician, a solid singer/songwriter, and to my benefit, an outstanding general contractor. When we finished, everyone who saw that kitchen was completely blown away. So I took pictures, showed them to some of my customers back in Nashville, and just like that, I was officially in the countertop business. This would change the course of my life, some for the better but maybe more for the worse, since what followed would divert me once again from my musical dream.

AN UNFORTUNATE FALL

With my music again on the backburner, and recognizing a business opportunity, I decided to invest all my time and energy into re-inventing those countertops. This required me to delve into chemistry, something that I knew nothing about, but after over four years of trials and errors, I eventually developed a unique, highly improved composition that would render my creations far more durable and stain resistant than their concrete peers. I took them to market with the plan of setting up a few strategic display locations that would generate a steady stream of sales, and for the next several years, that would become my obsession. Fortunately, it did come to fruition, but I completely burned myself out in the process.

To restore my sanity, I bought some more equipment to re-record all my old songs, and some new ones as well. But just one week in, while on my first (and last) date with a girl who had been pretty persistent about going out, I fell and broke both my wrists. It wasn’t my most impressive moment, but it was one of my most difficult, given that doctors told me my left wrist would likely never be the same. I had to prepare for the possibility that I might never play the guitar again.

Upon hearing the news, my always selfless mother came from Kansas to help me out, and she stayed in Nashville for over a month. To pay the hospital bills, disheartening as it was, I found someone to purchase all the recording gear I had just bought. Not being able to play the guitar really got to me, but over time, as prayers flowed in from family and friends, my wrists ended up healing. Of course, at this juncture, I had pretty much given up on music; it just seemed that every time I tried to work on it, an uninvited obstacle would stop me in my tracks. To say I was frustrated would be an understatement – I was defeated. I left my family in Kansas to do one thing, and the realization that it might never happen weighed heavily on my heart.

For the next several years, I dove headfirst into building my company, Castone Counters (later called ReVelle Surfaces) into a successful business. One thing I have never lacked is the drive to make money, but back then it took precedence over everything else in my life, and I carried tremendous guilt for having never given enough time to my music. Sure, I had a solid business and a beautiful place to live, but I felt empty inside. All I did was work, sometimes staying on the road for two months straight without sleeping in my own bed or seeing any friends. That’s when fate would intervene and change the course of my life.

A SHIFT IN DESTINY

I’m not sure what led to it, but in 2013, I was experiencing hearing impairment, so I went to see a Nashville-based ENT. He told me that my Eustachian tubes were clogged, and that relief could be achieved by taking allergy medications and by fixing what he said was a mildly deviated septum. So on August 29th, completely unaware of the 1:250 odds that the surgeon might cut an artery or a nerve, I went through with the procedure. Twelve days after, I was bleeding profusely, and it was obvious that something wasn’t right. But the doctor, perhaps in denial or perhaps to limit his exposure to liability, insisted that it was normal, and encouraged me to preoccupy myself with work. So, with his blessing, I drove to Texas to take part in a business meeting.

Fast forward 24 hours, and I’m strapped to a gurney in a speeding ambulance in Dallas, with blood spewing out of my nose and into my lungs and stomach with every beat of my heart. While my reflexes had me coughing violently in an effort to expel the blood from my body, the emergency staff tried desperately to stop the bleeding by expanding my nasal passages with a medical balloon. Six hours later, at 3:00 am, the bleeding finally stopped, and I passed out.

When I awoke, I learned that the hospital had contacted my parents in Kansas, leading my mom to drive overnight to Dallas, and my dad to follow on a plane the morning of her arrival. Together, we were told that I needed an embolization surgery to stop the bleeding and give the severed artery a chance to heal. But because this hospital did not have a cardiac unit to assist with the procedure, they were unwilling to treat me further. In fact, they told me that because I was “a bleeder,” it was likely that no hospital in Dallas would admit me, for fear of liability if something went wrong. They suggested that my parents take me back to my original doctor and to leave immediately before the bleeding recurred. We were incensed, but had no option but to immediately return to Nashville.

We drove all night, but my parents had to stop several times to clean me up from the continued profuse bleeding. At 5am, we checked into a hotel west of Nashville, so that they could take a much-needed break. But my bleeding increased, so badly, in fact, that we had to get back into the car and head straight in to St. Thomas Hospital. By this time, I had been bleeding for nearly two weeks, and was immediately admitted to the emergency ward.

I remember awaiting the arrival of vivid flashbacks of life, love, family, and friends, but they never came. I also remember expecting the presence of God, or at least a sense of calm. But there was no white light; for me, there was only continued chaos accompanied by overwhelming feelings of regret for having never pursued my dream.

THE TIPPING POINT

After sitting upright on a hospital bed for four hours, struggling to cough up the blood that had filled my stomach and lungs, I was exhausted and fading fast. The emergency staff worked diligently to try and stop the bleeding, so they could anesthetize me for surgery to close the cut artery. My dad had already shut down emotionally, and I could hear my mom screaming and crying in the background. The doctors urged me to keep coughing, but I didn’t have the energy.

That’s when the code blue buzzer sounded, prompting two cardiac nurses to rush in to make a last ditch effort to save my life. Amid the struggle, the hospital chaplain also arrived, in the event a final blessing was requested.

“Stay with us, Regan! Keep coughing!” the nurses yelled.

I was trying, more than they knew, despite the fact that I had just heard the chaplain tell my parents that their son had only a few minutes left to live. I remember awaiting the arrival of vivid flashbacks of life, love, family, and friends; but they never came. Nor did the expected white light or overwhelming sense of calm. For me, there was only continued chaos accompanied by overwhelming feelings of regret for having never pursued my dream.

“You stupid bastard,” I thought to myself as my body clung to life. “You never did your music, and now you’re going to die.”

WHERE AM I?

Suddenly, I was lying in a wheat field, covered in blood, and two men were pinning me down, beating the hell out of me. One was sitting on my feet, punching me in the groin; the other was on my stomach, striking me repeatedly in the face. I punched back furiously, and connected with them multiple times, but they connected with me more. In whatever horrific realm I had landed, I was fighting a losing battle. I had no recollection of having any health issues or even being in a hospital; all I knew was that these guys were going to kill me, and I felt myself slipping away.

Simultaneously, in the physical realm, I passed out and fell off the left side of the bed, with the IV equipment in tow. My father helped the cardiac nurses lift my paper-white body off the floor, and they carried me around to the other side of the bed to get me horizontal once again. Everyone in the room thought I had passed away, and the nurses had given up. But I was alive, and I felt their hands on me as they laid me on the bed. When I opened my eyes, all I saw was a yellow wall, since my back was facing everyone else in the room. I figured that those guys in the field had brought me somewhere to finish me off, and I had to get away.

To to the shock of all, including my parents, I began to swing and kick violently and struck the head of one of the cardiac nurses, who responded by grabbing my shoulders firmly and flipping me around while yelling, “What the hell are you doing? We thought you died! Why are you trying to fight us?”

As it turned out, God had other plans for me that day. In a most extraordinary instant, the arterial bleeding miraculously stopped, making the option of emergency surgery a reality at last. Finally able to respond, I found the strength to keep on fighting. This was not my time.

As the cardiac nurses rushed me frenetically toward the O.R., my life hung delicately in the balance. Once on the operating table, the surgeon grabbed my hand, held it tight, and stated with conviction, “Regan, we’ve been waiting for you, and we know exactly what we need to do.” For the first time in weeks, I felt a sense of comfort.

When he then told me, “You need to say goodbye to your parents,” it was impossible to ignore the fact that I might never see them again. But I didn’t say goodbye. Instead, as I drifted into sedation, and as my parents kissed me on the forehead, I delivered what I hoped would not be my final words.

“Leave the light on for me, Mom and Dad,” I whispered. Then, silence.

PAIN, PAIN, GO AWAY

Five to six hours later, with my parents at my side, the doctor who performed the surgery entered the room, pumping his fists above his head like Rudy Ruettiger after making his famous tackle at Notre Dame. “We got the right artery!” he exclaimed. “And even if we didn’t – but I think we did – we know right where we need to go.” His words were music to our ears.

Three days later, I was discharged from Saint Thomas, despite the fact that I couldn’t get out of bed on my own. Because my immunity was critically compromised from the loss of blood and multiple transfusions, the doctors insisted I leave so I wouldn’t catch something. So my parents stayed with me at a nearby hotel for a few more days until I could get up on my own. After my Dad returned to Kansas, my Mom took me to the home of Billie Ann Smith, the mother of my dear friend Connie Smith, and then spent another week in Nashville nursing me back to health.

On day twelve, with Mom back in Kansas, and determined to get my life back to normal, I drove to Florida for a previously scheduled business meeting, but that turned out to be an error in judgment. I was still far too weak for that trip, and ended up leaving the meeting to spend three more days resting at a hotel. When I had enough strength to make the drive home, I headed back to Nashville.

Upon arrival, I gratefully accepted an invitation to stay at my friend Billy Langford’s guesthouse, but no sooner did I arrive than I began to experience some sort of odd, stinging, horrible pain on the left side of my face. It wouldn’t stop, no matter what I did, and I was overcome with fear. Fully clothed and filled with anxiety, I jumped into the shower, held my face in the steaming hot water to mitigate the pain, and exited only when the hot water was gone. The minute it was replenished, I jumped right back in, prayed for relief, and repeated this process until 2am.

Knowing that this was much more than a migraine, I somehow drove myself to Vanderbilt Hospital, only to have the pain fade as soon as the ER doctor arrived to examine me. The hospital staff thought I was a drug addict looking for a fix; I couldn’t believe it, but it was definitely the case. None of them had any idea what I had just been through.

At 7am, I returned to Billy Langford’s guesthouse, and the facial pain returned with a fury. Again, I spent the entire day and night standing in a hot shower, before Billy drove me back to Vanderbilt at 6am the following morning. On that visit, I was given repeated doses of morphine, but it did nothing for the pain. The doctors were now further convinced that I was lying about my condition, and they told Connie Smith (who had shown up shortly after me) that I was obviously a drug addict and they could not accept me as a patient. Even when the Vanderbilt E.N.T. confirmed my recent surgery, the staff insisted that I go to a pain management clinic.

THE SUICIDE DISEASE

With this new development, my mom flew in to Nashville one more time, and my dad followed. Together, they took me straight to the surgeon who performed the original procedure, and demanded that he speak with us. To our dismay, that doctor didn’t seem particularly empathetic about my condition, but he did take me next door to a neurologist, who said that my pain was the result of trauma to the trigeminal nerve system on the left side of my face. He gave me three different painkillers to take, and placed three more on deck.

When I read a pamphlet about my newly diagnosed trigeminal neuralgia (also known as “the suicide disease”), it sounded like a death sentence. Apparently, the pain I was experiencing was not, and probably never would be manageable. Since I had recently sold my townhome, Connie let my parents and I stay at her house, since she was going out of town. After a few days, my dad went back to Kansas for work, and my mom and I checked into yet another hotel for two more weeks to contemplate my future. During that time, we even visited an acupuncturist, who hugged me and cried apologetically because she was not able to help.

During this neurological nightmare, I never slept for more than two to three minutes at a time, and only about 15 minutes per day total. And because steaming hot water continued to offer temporary pain relief, I sat in the shower around the clock, day after day and night after night. I also popped pills, and plenty of them. Of course, within five to six days of starting each concoction, my body developed a resistance and rendered them ineffective. So they would be replaced with new ones. This went on and on, to the point where new painkillers were all I had, but for the incredible love and support provided by my mother, my father, and the three dear friends who voluntarily took me under their care.

As my mom had to return to Kansas tend to some business, she dropped me off at Connie’s house once again. That’s when I received an unexpected but welcome voicemail from my friend, Millie Taylor, who said that she had arranged an appointment for me the following morning with an upper cervical care physician named Dr. Shawn Hall. I was open to anything that might improve my quality of life, so that appointment couldn’t come quickly enough.

Dr. Hall performed a rather unusual, external treatment to the left side of my face, one that he said was intended to adjust my brain stem. It felt insignificant at first, but eventually caused incredible pain in my neck, which I took as confirmation that something was definitely working. Dr. Hall told me that with more time and continued visits, he was confident that I would experience a complete recovery. It was hard to believe, but my excitement grew when he revealed that he had dozens of trigeminal neuralgia patients in our region that were experiencing constant improvement.

THE FINAL INTERVENTION

Back at Connie’s, after spending the next two days and nights in the hot shower, I received another voicemail, this time from my neurologist, stating that should I become immune to my current dose of painkillers, that we will have exhausted all viable options. In short, there was nothing left that he could do for me. Because I knew that I had only two to three days before the meds would stop working, I began to pray more than ever before.

Tuesday night came along, and Connie was hosting a weekly Bible Study at her house, one that I attended whenever I was in town. When the group showed up, they encouraged me to come downstairs so they could pray for me, but I didn’t want to leave the hot shower. Fortunately, they didn’t give up on me, and just before the gathering ended, they asked me again to please come down. This time, I conceded, knowing that my faith was likely the only thing that might help me through these darkest hours.

I showed up with soaking wet hair, gripping my face with my hands. After asking me to sit in the center of the room, they encircled me and placed their hands on my body. Connie then led the group in prayer, which went on for ten extremely intense minutes. I’ll never forget the warm, comforting sensation that flowed through my body; it was like nothing I had ever felt before, and I could only equate it to receiving the healing power of God. All I remember after was Connie helping me back upstairs so I could rest. That was at 8pm.

At 6:30 Wednesday morning, still sleep deprived and still in awful pain, I lumbered from the shower that I had been living in for the last month. For the first time in days, I felt the urge to check my email, and noticed an urgent message from a venture capital partner who had invested in my company four years earlier. Apparently, because of my condition, from which he thought I would never recover, he said that he wanted out. At this point, I honestly didn’t think I had a great chance of living much longer anyway. And so ReVelle Surfaces, a company that I built with fifteen years of blood, sweat, and tears, was now likely finished.

One hour later, Connie sat next to me, read the email, and consoled me again with prayer. Today, I can never thank her enough; for what followed was nothing short of miraculous; an unexpected, but noticeable relief from pain that I did not think was possible. And by Friday afternoon, just as the last of my medications were wearing off, the pain completely disappeared. Just like that, I went from crying for thirty-one straight days to gaining a new perspective on life, and an absolute conviction that God was in control of my destiny.

BACK TO THE GRIND

Since that miraculous day, I still encounter an occasional spike of pain in my face, but I just laugh it off. I never took another painkiller, and I don’t plan on taking one ever again. When my business partner left, my CPA informed me that taking back full ownership of my company would create a significant tax burden, which meant that everything I had, including the proceeds from my recently sold townhome, would be going right to the government. But the notion of being broke didn’t phase me one bit; I was just happy to be alive.

Sadly, I had to let quite a few of my employees go, but I had just enough money from a customer deposit to try and bring my business back to life. I still had my shop, two hours away in Livingston, Tennessee, and because I saw no point in driving back and forth to Nashville (and couldn’t afford a rental or a hotel) sleeping on an old mattress in the bathroom seemed like a good idea. After all I had been through, this felt like a small sacrifice to make, particularly if it would help take care of my remaining employees and keep us in business.

At the shop, I set up more mousetraps than I can remember, and heard the furry little nuisances screaming when they got stuck on the pads. One night, as the temperature dropped outside, I actually woke to discover several of them in my bed, snuggling next to my body for heat. Safe to say, that was the last straw, so I moved back to Nashville and stayed in an extra bedroom that a friend offered for the next four months. I never slept continuously in Livingston again, but did visit once a week as the company continued to pick up steam.

Within four months, I restored my company to profitability, this time with no partner and no venture capital. In addition to our regional projects, we made countertops for an NFL coach’s Montana home, for the founder of Zillow’s residence in Seattle, and for several other high-profile clients from Houston to Miami. And eventually, someone offered to buy my company, which I was pretty jazzed about. But then the proverbial hammer came down.

PLAN REVEALED

Having ultimately decided to sell ReVelle Surfaces, and sixty days into negotiating the terms, I received an email from one of my suppliers, informing me that one of the twelve key components of my product had been declared chemically unstable and as a result, would no longer be available. Unfortunately, I knew that this ingredient was irreplaceable, and that its absence would compromise the integrity of my product. I hated to admit it, but that was the definitive end of my company, and I had no choice but to call off the sale. I left the disappointing news on the buyer’s voicemail, but he never returned my call.

The next day, I drove back to Livingston, took the last of my employees to lunch (some of whom had worked with me for 14 years) and told them with great sadness that we could no longer make the product. Over the next two months, I liquidated everything, shut down the shop, and dissolved the corporation. The last job ReVelle would fulfill was for yet another NFL coach in the Houston area.

Immediately after, with a new life plan in the works, I tirelessly renovated my house, sold it, and used some of the proceeds to buy some new recording equipment for the third time. I then moved into a small but acoustically sound room in the basement of a friend’s south Nashville home, which became an ideal place to hone my musical craft, teach myself Pro Tools, and record many of the tracks for my soon to be released songs.

With immense gratefulness, I am now singularly focused on completing and releasing my music. Obviously, I hope people will like my songs, and maybe even love them, but I’ll be content regardless. For what’s most important is forgiving myself for leaving my family in Kansas to chase a dream in Nashville, and then not doing it until now. I understand now that my dream of playing music for a living never died; it just got interrupted. And now I can’t wait to get it out of my system.

BACK WHERE I BELONG

In October of 2017, I joined two wonderful friends, Angel Cropper and Cindy Drafts, at a new church, where we listened to a small group of people share powerful testaments to their faith. As I listened, a personal yearning to know God became more profound than ever in my heart. And although it took a while to build up the confidence, just a few Sundays ago I shared my own story with these new friends with whom I now pray each week.

Today, as I sit and work in this basement studio, usually alone and still a little afraid, I feel closer than ever to achieving my dream. My journey has surely been challenging, but I am finally finding peace. I’m grateful that for fifteen years, I was able to employ others and allow them to better the lives of their families, even if it came at the expense of delaying my own dreams. But now it’s time to take care of me; no more getting knocked down, no more barriers, no more guilt, and no more regret.

If I’ve learned just one thing in this crazy life, it’s that you must never, ever give up on your dream, regardless of whether you get any breaks or strokes of good fortune. Naturally, I wonder what might have been, had I done what I’m now doing when I first arrived in Nashville. Maybe nothing. Maybe I would have been fortunate enough to work with some great songwriters. Maybe I would have had an actual career in music. But as is often said, hindsight is 20/20.

These days, I am looking forward only, with the knowledge that God is with me and that nothing can prevent me from reaching my destination. Fair to say, I’ve got all the incentive I need to get back where I belong.