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Between the Covers: Nashville Behind the Strings

With me being heavy in the editing on the 2nd draft of the sequel to Behind the Strings, I thought today’s post could be a fun tribute. If you haven’t read it yet, Behind the Strings takes place in the vibrant city of Nashville, TN and it’s country music scene. It’s a story not only about love, but forgiveness, learning to let your guard down and trusting your heart to find your way to true happiness. All of course while navigating life in the spotlight.

Today I’ll be taking you on an exciting trip around Nashville to some of the places that inspired scenes within my novel. Keep scrolling to join in on the fun and don’t forget to leave a comment when you’re done! I’d love to hear your favorite spot.

Happy Touring!

Bongo Java- Belmont Boulevard

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Celia Westbrook is a pretty darn good music blogger for the popular Nashville blog Behind the Strings. When she’s not in the office she spends a lot of her time writing at Soulful Grinds Coffee House where you’ll see autographed pictures of many of Nashville’s most famous artists. The inspiration for Soulful Grinds comes from Nashville’s oldest coffee company, Bongo Java in the Belmont Boulevard area of Nashville.

 

 

 

 

 

Winners and Losers Bars – Division St. 

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Lots of country music talent play here on their way to the top, so it’s no wonder this was my inspiration for Shotguns bar in my novel. The place where Logan used to strum his six string before he signed a major record deal and the place where Celia first meets Jesse and his band Jackson’s Soul. It also was only the beginning of a night Celia can barely remember and later finds it was filled with surprises.

 

 

 

 

12 South Area- Nashville

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Who wouldn’t want to enjoy a beer on the 12 South Taproom patio on a warm, sunny day in music city? This patio is one of the places Celia struggles with a secret she is keeping from Logan throughout the novel… I can’t wait for all you lovely newbie readers to learn what that secret is :)

 

 

 

 

I Dream of Weenie – East Nashville

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Celia and Logan come from the small town of Hamden, TN where the only place to feed late night cravings after a night out was Frank’s hot dog stand. It only made sense when they reunited after 5 years that they would reminisce over old memories by finding a similar one in Nashville. I Dream of Weenie’s was the perfect inspiration for this scene. But, while you’re munching on your beef, turkey or tofu dog, watch out for Hunter Jennings. He’s a sly one and is always ready and waiting for the next story in the good old country music world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Patterson House- Division St.

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Although it’s not on the rooftop of a hotel, I loved the idea of the mellow and intimate atmosphere The Patterson House offers and used it for the lounge scene for one of Celia’s first dates. And of course, since I love a good cocktail, who wouldn’t want to choose this place where they are all hand crafted to perfection. Celia is really gonna need one of these cocktails when her date is interrupted with a phone call from the last person that needs to be calling her in that moment.

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Find the beauty in your body

Why is it that when we look in the mirror we are quick to point out all of our flaws, but when looking at others we see their perfections. We point out what we envy. Could you imagine how different we would feel if we looked at ourselves the way we looked at others. If when we looked in the mirror, what we saw was enough. Today, we live in a world where perfection is plastered all around us. From magazines and movies to Instagram. It’s so easy to judge ourselves. To want to look a certain way.

You’ve heard it before. Life’s highlight reel. That is what social media is all about. Sometimes you’ll come across those who talk about real life challenges, but for the most part you see the best part of us all. The world can be such a negative place that sometimes it’s nice to get lost scrolling through edited photos of perfection, but we cannot get so lost that we forget, there are so many layers underneath that posted photo.

Everyone feels pain. Everyone is going through a hard time. Everyone looks in the mirror and wishes they could change something about themselves. Everyone, but what if you stopped. What if you stopped judging your body, but instead thanked it. This was a recent exercise given to me and let me tell you, it’s been extremely difficult, but it’s amazing how my outlook has changed.

What if you started too? Thanking your body for what it has done for you. For what it does for you every day. For how it continues to support you no matter how many times you’ve beat it down. What if you looked at your flaws as blessings. If every day we envied what was given to us. If we looked at our legs as muscles, strong enough to carry us throughout our daily activities. If we were grateful for our arms that are capable of getting us dressed in the morning, feeding us daily meals and driving us places. If we saw our wrinkles as “laugh lines,” a symbol of our happiness.

Here’s what I have thanked my body for so far:

  • for having enough energy to roll out of bed at 6am to take my highly energetic dog for a walk before work
  • for carrying me through my mid-day runs in the Nashville summer heat
  • for not stopping on those runs when my mind is screaming that it’s had enough
  • for being able to sit for long periods of time while I edit my novel late into the night

You put your body through a lot on a regular basis, yet it never gives up on you. So, why give up on it? Instead of focusing on what you wish your body looked like, start thanking it for all it’s been through with you. The more you begin to understand just how amazing your body is, looking in the mirror will give you less anxiety and a bit more pride.

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Turning your “what if” into “but, if…”

I went running the other day, and for me that is the time I do most of my reflecting. I reflect on the week ahead, upcoming plans and sometimes I find myself falling into the trap of reflecting about the past. I pass judgement on my life and the decisions I’ve made that has brought me where I am. I feel as if life is always a work in progress, but there are times I find myself wondering, “well, what if?” 

In particular, the acting bug has been sneaking up on me lately. For those who don’t know me too well, I’ve wanted to be an actress since I was maybe 8 years old. I’ve been able to do some pretty cool things when it comes to the film industry. I’ve spent some time on the set of Nashville, done extra work on movies and music videos and appeared in student films. I’ve never fully committed to trying to “break into” the industry because truthfully it’s scary. Leaving the comfort of what people say is a “stable” work environment for the unknown is terrifying, but still I wonder, “what if?”

What if I chose to go to college in California? At the very least, what if I was brave enought move to California after college. Where would I be now? Would I be a working actor? Would I be a regular on a national tv show? Would you find me on the red carpet or gracing the big screen? What if?

Yup, those are the types of things I reflect on while running, but let me tell you something. Reflecting on the past, on all of your “what ifs” will do nothing, but drive you crazy. You cannot change the past. The choices you have made cannot be undone, so when I catch myself falling into the “what if” trap, I immediately turn it around to say “but, if.”

“What if I chose to go to California for college?” …. turns into …. “but, if I went to California for college, I never would’ve met my college bestie who has not only been my rock through the hard times, but is my travel buddy on all of our magnificent adventures.”

“What if I chose to move to California after college?” …turns into… “but, if I moved to California after college, I most likely would not have ended up living in Charlotte during the time I did to meet some of the best people ever. To create some of the most amazing memories that are near and dear to my heart.”

Yes, maybe in California, I would’ve made other memories and created a whole different kind of life, but that’s the point. It would’ve been different. The point of turning your “what ifs” into “but, ifs” is to change your negative thinking into something positive. How we feel about our life depends on how we look at it. In order to be happy with the now, we have to let go of yesterday. The thought process is pretty logical. If you put a car in reverse where do you go? Backwards. You change gears and suddenly you change direction.

By simply changing the way you look at something, you change your mindset and your brain suddenly changes from the belief that your life was missing out on something, to being fulfilled by all the wonderful things it has.

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Make Room in Your Heart

“We hold on to people longer than we should because we can’t let go of the idea of ‘what could be.’ What we fail to understand is that if they wanted the same they’d be holding on too. If they walk away, let them go. Make room in your heart for the one willing to fight just as hard as you are.” 

~Courtney Giardina~

Gosh, I look back at those times I spent chasing someone and wonder why? Why did I waste my time, energy and tears on someone who doesn’t feel I’m worth the effort? We fight so hard to hold on to what is comfortable and what is familiar to us because the unknown is scary. Yes, maybe not knowing what comes next is scary, but how terrifying is it to be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t value you? Who doesn’t treat you with respect? Who doesn’t love you through the good and bad days?

If you’re reading this today and it sounds all too familiar… stop. Let go of what you think you want and make room in your heart for what you deserve. Don’t ever settle on anything in life because you’re afraid. Fear will hold you captive in all of the places you don’t belong. Once you find the courage to leap, not caring where you land, that is when you will find the right place and the right person, in the right moment and end up exactly where you are supposed to be.

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Hold on a little longer

Be the type of person who holds on a little longer than they should.

Always try one more time.

Never walk away from anything you believe in without a fight.

Sometimes that means you might get hurt a little more often, but that’s okay because in the end,

when it’s time to let go, you can do so with no regrets and no reason to ever look back.

 Be who you are. Give everything you have to give.

That type of heart will draw the right people into your life and when they arrive, you will know it.

They are your people. Your forever tribe. They will accept you for everything you are.

Never be ashamed to love hard, forgive quickly and trust slowly.

It’s what make you, you and that is beautiful <3

 

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Throwing Expectations Out the Window

“Instead of following the rules, she started rewriting them. Banishing all expectations and living life on her own terms.”

Always find ways to feed your passion. Never let the light dim. Forget excuses. Ignore expectations. There is always a way to do what you love. When life is pulling you in all directions, stop for a moment and ask yourself, “what do I want?” Be sure to listen. Everyone has an opinion of what your life should be like, but the only opinion that matters is your own. You  are born with a passion inside of you for a reason. It is not meant to be surpressed, but flourised. You are in the driver seat. Steer yourself in the right direction and if you ever get off track, turn around, go back and try again.

Y O U R     L I F E    .    Y O U R     T E R M S

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The Runner Inside Me

Getting back into shape is hard. Not only doing you have to focus on not beating yourself up for all the time you spent getting out of shape, but you have to stay motivated enough to keep up the routine that is going to get you back into shape. Finding motivation in the middle of a Nashville summer probably wasn’t the best idea, but I have been pushing myself. Even though the humid air tries to swallow me whole, I try to push through. I don’t go far, I maybe run 20 minutes a day because my calves are burning so bad I can’t stand it. My feet ache, my knees hurt, my breath is heavy and my mind is telling me it’s had enough. Sweat is covering my eyes and the breeze that I felt within my first few strides has since subsided.

I take a deep breath in and then let it out, praying each time my foot hits the pavement the cramp in my side will go away. With every song that plays I wait for the voice through my headphones to tell me I’ve at least run a mile, but when I unlock my phone I’m barely at a half. “I can’t do this,” I tell myself, “not today.” But, I keep going, I don’t stop. The runner inside me is not giving up. The runner inside me will not settle. She knows better. She knows my body is strong enough to finish. She will not let my mind, my self doubt or my insecurities win.

The more I focus on my breathing and my stride, the quieter the voice of doubt becomes. I coast off every now and then to sing a few of the lyrics playing on my iTunes, but my calves are screaming. It comes in waves. I push through it until it subsides and embrace the peace until it hits again.

The sun is beating directly down on me and I can feel the stillness of the air much more than before. I’m starting to get dizzy and the ponytail on my head is becoming heavy. I feel the sweat seeping out from under the brim of my hat.

You’re almost there.”

I can hear her loud and clear. She’s pushing me with every bit of strength she has left. With each bead of sweat that is now pouring off of me, she cheers me on. She will not let me disappoint myself. She knows how badly I want this. It’s only one mile. That’s what I’m fighting for. Far less than what I used to run, but that’s where I am. I can’t be mad about it, I have to fight for it. That voice in my head, she’s my best friend and my worst enemy. She is the runner inside me.

That one mile isn’t as easy as it used to be, but it’s all I have to hold on to right now. Every time I step out on that open road I fight the battle between heart and mind. What do I want more? To give up or get ahead. So I fight for it long enough to make it.

I did it. She did it. We did it. I can’t thank her enough on days like this. She pushes me harder, she keeps me going, she won’t let me give up. She has faith in me when I don’t have faith in myself. She is there exactly at the moments I need her the most and because of her I have been able to accomplish goals I never thought possible. All because she believed in me. It took me awhile to find her, but I’m so happy I did. She is the runner inside me.

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Frozen Blueberry Yogurt Bites

I used to make these all the time when I lived back in Charlotte. I don’t think I’ve made them even once since I’ve been in Nashville, but I did this week and I have a feeling I’ll be making them on the regular now. These frozen blueberry yogurt bites were so easy to make. I desparately needed an alternative to the M&Ms I’ve been eating while binge watching Gilmore Girls and these hit the spot.

The key to these are the makeshift pastry bag I used for the yogurt. I loaded a plastic ziplock bag with yogurt and cut a small slit at the corner. Then I squeezed out a dime size amount across tin foil and placed a blueberry in the middle. After that, into the freezer they went and about two hours later they were the perfect consistency to eat. I used greek yogurt because it’s thicker. Vanilla so it had a hint of sweetness.

Go ahead, try it! They are so good!