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— Joey

Wrapping Up 2015

Here we are. We're about to enter the second year of the second half of this decade, the 2010s... aka...2016. Is it just me, or do these numbers still sound weirder and weirder?  Do you realize that means the kids that were born in 2000 will be graduating high school in just a few short years?  Weird...

But as we move forward, closing the year with 3 prominent holidays back to back (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's), we all begin to think about next year. Or maybe you don't. I know I've kind of always had a mental hurdle regarding the part of the calendar that is upon us.  The calendar never felt like a circle to me; December was just so far from January, you know? It felt so far away... But as I start to grasp how untrue that is, realizing my 23rd birthday is just barely over a month away, I'm mentally preparing more and more for 2016. I'd even venture to say I'm ready.

Before I get to what's ahead, I want to reflect a bit on 2015.  My favorite way to do this is through pictures. I start at the beginning and go through every photo that I've deemed worthy of keeping on my iCloud library and start to reminisce.  As I do this, I start to realize how fast the year really went by... Just about a year ago, I was standing on the main stage in the heart Times Square, a few hours from midnight, just feet from Idina Menzel performing "Let it Go."  

Ok, so, maybe that wasn't quite in 2015... but it was pretty close.  I had the awesome privilege of being in the Passion Choir again, and as always, it was an unforgettable experience.  I finally got to be a seat filler at the GRAMMY® Awards, where I was lucky enough to have a permanent seat for about 2/3 of the show, in the 13th row of the floor section..... of the GRAMMYS!!!! I sat right behind Pentatonix and Paris Hilton, and when I would walk through the aisles, I would pass by artists like Pharrell, Katy Perry, and so many more. But the real surprise of the evening was when I ran into Louie Giglio in the lobby of the Staples Center just after the show ended.  If you don't recognize the name, you need to Google him, but the short of it is that he is the one who started the Passion conferences many years ago. It was crazy running into him because just over a week earlier, I was singing in the choir for the 2015 Passion Conference in Houston.  I got to talk to Louie and his wife Shelley for a bit about music and ministry (who even shared a funny story from one of the past GRAMMY® Award shows they attended, a funny story that involved Louie and Paris Hilton... haha, don't worry, it's innocent).  I say all this to say that of all of the celebrities I've met in the last several years, artists like Sam Smith or Lady Antebellum, while awesome artists, they haven't had a meaningful impact on my life in the way Louie and Shelley Giglio have through their ministry.

From there, a lot of it starts to run together.  Throughout the year, I got to be a part of some incredible recording sessions all around the country, from Los Angeles, to Nashville, and of course, some right here in Dallas.  I worked on music probably more than I ever have before, traveled more than I ever have before, and got to do more things than I ever thought I would do in a year.

I won't go into too much more detail of the past year, but I'll just say that it was great.  Almost 90,000 miles flown over the course of 60 flights took me to new places, both in the world and in my career.   The most recent trip I took was to Memphis, Tennessee, where I got to hang out with my friend Johnny Stimson, who just wrapped up his tour with Tori Kelly.  I got to talk with Tori for a little bit, and I have to say, she was just as amazing as I've heard she is.  She was so encouraging and just an all around great person to spend time with, even if it was just for a few minutes.  It was really a highlight of my year. Oh, and I can't forget New Zealand... and Chile... and Ireland...

But as the memories from 2015 start to distance themselves even further with the upcoming calendar page-turn, I'm looking to the future.  I'm so excited for 2016.  Without giving too much away, I'm taking on more than I ever have in the next year. I'm really excited to make this next step in my music career that has been a long time coming.  With some of these things, there are a lot of unknowns.  I know I've written about this before, but unknowns scare us as humans, especially in today's world.  I don't know how much I agree with the saying, "With great risk comes great reward"; I think it's partially true, though you probably would need to add several other words to make it a more trustworthy statement.  

One thing I've learned though, is that there is a risk you start to feel comfortable with, not because it was ever a risk to begin with, but because you are starting to get to a place where you're able to clear up the doubt, disbelief, and misinformation that crowded your vision.  Sure, some of it might be there still, but I'd be willing to bet that the reason why most people that are starting out their journey to pursue their dreams, choose not to take a "risk" because they're not aware enough yet.

I may just be sounding crazy at this point. But let me phrase it another way.  The more glimpses I get of success, the more I see how the "risks" in my life weren't really risks at all.  They were things that I knew I should do / pursue, but they were clouded with uncertainty, making me view them as a risk.  The more you start to see that you are on the right path, the more those negative words start to mean less, and the more your vision becomes clearer.  What's also clear, is how far I have yet to go, but in a great way.  Seeing what skills and tools I lack becomes less intimidating to me now; it's almost exciting in a weird way. It means I get to pursue something that I don't fully understand yet, and I get to learn more and more, and that pursuit is really cool.

I'm really excited to share with you my next step, but I can't do that for a little while longer.

Until then, it's been a great 2015. Here's to an even better 2016!






Libraries Forever!

When was the last time you went to the library to find and check out a book? You know, for the reason libraries kind of exist?  I will admit to you, I went through my entire college career only checking out three books.  I checked out those three books, all at the same time, because I was required to do so, not because that was the most efficient way for me to dig up information.

Still, I spent a lot of time in the library.  I spent time there printing papers, studying with friends, and consuming lots and lots of coffee.  The library was a place to go for me if I wanted to be somewhere quiet, if I needed to get work done. You know, I like the ideas of a place like that: a place where it's not frowned upon if you choose not to buy a cup of expensive coffee, a place where you're not forced to use your headphones to drown out the noise of a couple arguing, of a meeting that doesn't concern you, or even the sound of music they force upon you.

Libraries are obsolete. I think we all know that, but the ones who would argue against that might not want to let go of them for reasons of nostalgia. I can't read everyone's mind, of course, but I feel like if we're really being honest with ourselves, they're just not needed in their current form.  Now, I'm not saying that we should get rid of them altogether, or by any means get rid of books, but I do think they are in a major need of a refresh.

The original duty to serve as a hub of information has transferred to the internet. Like it or not, it's the truth. But the value of books is still something that should be treasured. I love books. I try to read at least one book per month, but I always do this using my Kindle.  Most people aren't aware of this, but you can actually check out digital library books and read them on your Kindle, iPad, tablet, etc.! It's great! The selection is still lacking, but it's still quite incredible that I can enter my local library card number in their online library website, and I can have a book delivered to my kindle in under a minute. So, I am in fact, using my taxpayer-funded that I haven't physically been to in more than 5 years? It's pretty crazy to think about that. And from many people to whom I've spoken, this is an increasingly popular practice.  To me, this means something needs to change.

Here's my vision. Libraries could be transformed to be less focused on the plethora of books they currently carry, and more focused on being an inviting, public space where people can go to think, create, read, etc.  When I say transformed, I mean they need a serious makeover. Fewer harsh fluorescent lights, no outdated carpet, and some comfortable chairs would be a good start. They could work with local coffee shops to serve coffee to visitors in a more open environment.  Books can still be there, of course, but I'd bet a large majority of the books in a public library don't even get picked up in a years' time. Stock the more popular and useful books, but migrate the rest to a digital system. Libraries could even have kindles people could borrow to read these selections. I don't want to see libraries disappear, but as with many government services, lots could be done to improve them and make them useful for so many more people.

That's enough political commentary for one blog post... :)  My original inspiration for this post was actually thinking about music libraries. It's kind of crazy to think that I can theoretically carry my music library forward with me into my late 20s, 30s, and beyond. I could be 50 years old one day and have every song I've ever liked in a massive music library.  How cool will it be to look back on day and see what playlists you were listening to back in college?

In the same way, my book collection can continue to grow as I do, and I will always be able to see what books I've read. All of my notes and highlights I've made on my Kindle will be with me for as long as I have an Amazon account (which will probably be forever, if they continue the way they've been going). I'm not one to re-read books, but I like the idea of having my book consumption history available to me to reflect upon later in life.  Now that we all of our own personal libraries, I think it's time we fix the communal ones.