Hope you all made it safely through this week – Friday came so soon for me after a busy week! I thought it might be fun to update you guys on some of the things I’ve been doing lately in Nashville.
Co-hosting the Country Music Is Love Concert Benefiting City of Hope:
Loved hosting another event with the lovely Kelly Sutton!
Dustin Lynch is a great live performer!
With Sarah and Justin aka Striking Matches aka two of the most talented people I’ve ever seen sing/play guitar.
With Brothers Osborne (John and TJ), Kelly and Taryn. They are about to blow up – you heard it here first!
Working hard or hardly working?
A surprise performance from Craig Campbell!
Kelly and I with Lauren and Lauren the brains and brawn behind Country Music Is Love.
One of the sweetest, most talented girls in Nashville, Miss Caroline Kole.
Watching Brother’s Osborne perform from backstage
Starting rehearsals for Dancing for Safe Haven with my talented partner Donald Stamper. You’ll be hearing more about the sassy cha cha we’re perfecting and how you can vote for us soon!: Celebrating my dear expectant friend Tessa at her baby shower:
We became friends first competing together at Miss Teen USA 2005, we also attended Belmont University together and have remained friends ever since. Love her!
Cute pic even though it appears as though I don’t have pants on…
Y’all know how much I love green juice and smoothies and lately I’ve been craving a switch up from my usual recipe. I added a few new ingredients to add to the nutritional benefit and even my roommate, who I think wants to vomit every time she sees me drinking something green, says she likes this! For 1 smoothie you’ll need:
1 cup water
Half a bag of organic spinach
1 cup organic frozen tropical fruit mix (love this one from Trader Joe’s!)
the juice of 1 lemon
1 TBSP chia seeds
1 inch chunk of fresh ginger
1 tsp core greensStart by pouring the water into your blender and add chia seeds and spinach next, add everything else on top and blend until smooth. (The vitamix will give you the best texture!) Enjoy! In case you aren’t familiar with chia seeds, here are a few of the benefits: and as mentioned in my raw brownies recipe, you know I’m obsessed with Core Greens To learn more about the benefits of lemon and ginger, check out my recipe for the immunity/weight loss shot! Start your week off with some goodness, Happy Monday!
Hey Kids! If you live in Nashville, be sure to get your tickets to the Country Music Is Love Concert benefiting City of Hope. I am co-hosting this year with Kelly Sutton (you may remember her from the CMA 360 show I did in November!) The show is usually sold out, so get your tickets here fast! I hosted the show last year and I can honestly say that it is my favorite benefit concert and the lineup continues to get better and better! Some of my favorite artists are performing this year, so excited… see you there?!
I guess you could say that I’m a consumer holiday’s dream girl when it comes to Valentine’s Day. I’ve always loved romance, chivalry, flowers, and chocolate, so it seems fitting that on Wanderlust and Glitter Dust’s first Valentine’s Day that I post the most true and epic love story I’ve ever read.
I remember exactly where I was when I first read the story of Layng and Linda – in a condo in Key West in the midst of several middle aged men that I only knew semi-well quietly reading an article from the New York Times. Suddenly I burst into tears, much to the bewilderment of everyone around me who asked, “are you ok…?!”
That moment was about 3 years ago and their story has stayed with me ever since, going back to reread it every so often. Layng’s son is a friend who was on the trip to Key West with me and I have been incessantly bugging him since then about meeting his parents. I called him the other day about the possibility of publishing the story and he suggested that his dad and I meet for a coffee, which I was ecstatic to do.
We met at Fido for what ended up being the most inspiring, animated, and stirring conversation I have probably ever had. Layng Martine Jr. has an inherent kindness and deep soulfulness about him that is apparent within about 5 seconds of meeting him. He also happens to be a new member of the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame (Some people you may know of have recorded his songs… Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Reba, and Trisha Yearwood to name only a few. Click here to read more about him and his accomplishments.) We talked about everything from our backgrounds, to our life goals, to what we think makes a romantic relationship really work and when we both had to leave I blurted out, “I just feel like this conversation isn’t over yet, can you meet again tomorrow?! I want to talk more before I publish this! Will you be my best friend?!” and because he has that inherent kindness, he was polite enough to oblige me.
Post 2nd meeting at Fido with my new best friend
When Layng talks about Linda it is with some of the deepest respect I’ve ever seen conveyed in a marriage. Even after all they have been through – and 48 years of marriage by the way – he thinks she hung the moon, he wants her opinion about everything, he is in awe of her accomplishments and her heart. “Brenna, it’s just amazing. She doesn’t want ANYTHING. She’s just happy.” Cue me trying not to tear up in Fido.
I know you’re probably ready to read the story already, right? Ok, without further adieu, as written by Layng Martine Jr. (it will be obvious why he’s won so many awards for writing!) and published in the New York Times in 2009, “In a Charmed Life, a Road Less Traveled”
“My wife and I were in a motel in Roanoke, Va., on our way home from three months at the Hershey Medical Center in Pennsylvania, where she had been convalescing after being crippled in a car accident. It was our first night away from the skill and comfort of the nurses we had come to depend on, and so far, so good.
Then we woke up and smelled something. It smelled like a bowel movement. I lifted up the sheets. It was a bowel movement, and it was in our bed.
We knew we had a lot to learn, but we had no idea how much.
Hearing the word paraplegic had made us focus on the big thing, the fact that Linda could no longer walk. Less anticipated were the smaller humiliations and inconveniences, like bowel movements in bed or on the way to a party, sores that came out of nowhere and took months or years to heal, and inaccessible restroom stalls that caused Linda to have to catheterize herself in the public area where people were washing their hands and talking.
And on it went, the list of indignities. She couldn’t watch “Good Morning America” if the remote fell off the bed when she reached for her glasses. She wet the seat on airplanes and in friends’ cars. She could no longer feel sexual intercourse (and the powerful muscle spasms in her legs threatened to crush anyone who tried).
But we’ve learned, and adapted. Now we know the places with good handicapped-access bathrooms (Starbucks), which airline makes things easiest (Southwest), which cities have smooth curb cuts (San Francisco), and which movie theaters don’t make us sit four feet from the screen.
Layng, Linda, and their 3 sons on the day she was released from the hospital after the accident.
Anyone who is in love is living a charmed life, especially if you’ve been in love for many years, through good times and bad. I have been crazy about Linda since the first time I saw her. We always felt we could handle any challenge because we were facing it together. This time we knew we had the will, but the demands were so exhausting, the changes so pervasive, that sometimes we wondered how we would cope.
This incredibly capable woman who loved to hike mountains, ride waves, and run marathons, who had cleared our sizable backyard of eight-foot-high brambles and helped me move all our furniture into three houses, suddenly couldn’t do any of those things, ever again.
Not long after getting home from the hospital, when we were having dinner by candlelight at our kitchen table, she burst into tears. “I don’t know if I can do this for the rest of my life,” she said.
All I could say was, “We’ll do it together.”
We began to think of what we could do to replace playing tennis, walking on the beach, working in the garden. Since Linda loves the ocean, a friend found a specially designed beach chair made of PVC tubing with wide inflated tires that allow it to be pushed across the sand. It’s yellow and white with a big red umbrella.
The first time I saw Linda sitting atop those tubes and under the red umbrella, I told her she looked like Ronald McDonald’s homecoming queen.
She laughed like crazy, then repeated it to everyone she knew.
A few summers later, one of our three sons suggested that he and I get on either side of the chair, slide Linda off, carry her into the ocean and drop her just beyond the waves so she could float calmly behind the crashing breakers.
At first we put her in a life preserver, but she tipped over and couldn’t right herself. So we took it off, and to our surprise she bobbed peacefully, looking once again like every other person lolling in the sea on a summer day.
You know those great old stores on Newbury Street in Boston with five or six steps up to each one? At first we could get up only about three of those a day. Now we can do every single store, one right after the other, all day long. My arms and my back are stronger — so are Linda’s — and there’s a rhythm to our teamwork that’s become second nature to us.
A recent photo of the lovebirds
We take many more drives now, preferably in our convertible, looking for pretty roads and funky hamburger places, especially ’50s-style drive-ins where they bring the food to our car. Before the car even moves an inch, though, Linda has to put on her seat belt, because even a semi-sudden stop at low speed will whap her face against the dashboard as if she’s a spring-loaded bobblehead. She has no stomach muscles. Her body works only from the chest up.
I remember the day we had to tell her that. She was in the I.C.U., tubes all over, machines and screens whirring and blinking, traces of dried blood in her gnarled hair. The doctor and I stood on either side of her bed.
“Linda,” he said, “this accident you were in was a rough one.”
“I can tell,” she said, her words warped by the breathing tube.
“At the moment your legs do not move.”
She looked at him. “Will they?”
“I doubt it.”
Her eyes shifted over to me. I squeezed her hand gently.
After the doctor left, tears filled her eyes. “It was all too perfect,” she said, “wasn’t it?”
And it did seem that way. It always had.
My first glimpse of her was through the screen door of her house; I’d gone there to see her brother. She was 21, and I was 22. She looked adorable in her orange dress, and I thought, “If that girl will have anything to do with me, that’s it.”
Young and in love… and ridiculously good looking!
We married soon after.
We settled in Nashville, where I was an aspiring songwriter. A decade later we were able to buy a summer house on a harbor in Rhode Island. That’s where we were going when the accident happened. We had been traveling in two cars when something went wrong with mine and we stopped in Knoxville at a repair shop. Linda was wearing a blue and white seersucker dress as she and our youngest son, Mac, who was 15, walked to her car. It was the last time I would ever see her walk. As they pulled away, she called out, “See you in a few hours!” and blew a kiss.
I blew one back.
We planned to meet up later at a motel in Allentown.
Have you ever come upon a traffic jam on the Interstate and looked for an exit to try your luck on the back roads? That’s what I did the night of Linda’s accident. I drove right by my family without even knowing it. I bet I wasn’t more than 100 feet away.
It was late. I was impatient. Traffic was stopped in both directions. Finally I managed to move to the shoulder and scoot along to an exit, where I found an empty frontage road running parallel to the highway.
Barely onto it, I saw a cluster of blinking blue lights in the distance. Wow, what happened? I wondered if Linda and Mac were already at the motel, or if they were also stuck in this jam. Then I thought: Could they be in that accident? But wait — of course not. They were way ahead.
A while later I stopped at a diner, where I found a pay phone and dialed the motel. When I asked for the Martine room, the desk clerk said, “There’s someone on the other line calling for Martine, too.”
“Someone from the hospital in Hershey.”
“Can you connect me?”
“No, but they gave me their number.”
I hung up and redialed, my face hot. The woman who answered identified herself as the hospital chaplain. She said my family had been in an accident.
“Are they all right?”
She put the doctor on, who told me that my son was O.K. My wife, however, was a different story.
I listened as he described her condition, then asked, “Can she think?”
“Yes. Her brain is fine.”
And that’s when I knew we could do it, long before I had any idea what “it” was.
Now, 15 years later, we do know.
We know that most people — strangers, anywhere — will knock themselves out to help us if we explain what we need. We know to say “Yes” to nearly everything because there is probably a way to do it. We know there is happiness available every day, most of it requiring more effort than money. And effort seems like a small price to pay for a day at the beach, a trip to New York or for dinner up eight steps to a friend’s home.
A few months after the accident, Linda started driving again. Her car has hand controls. She thinks nothing of driving to visit her father two hours away by herself. She has rolled three marathons — yes, a full 26-plus miles in a racing wheelchair.
And now, so long since that fateful night, looking across the dinner table at my wife, or seeing her across the room at a party, the hopeless crush I have on her is as wonderfully out of control as when I first saw her more than four decades ago through the screen door. I still get excited after work when I pull in the driveway and know that I’ll soon get to see the sexy, beautiful, very funny person I live with. And, later on, snuggle up to her in bed.
Layng’s favorite picture of them. He loves the look on her face in this photo.
We’ve rolled up and down the hills of Tuscany, squeezed into pubs in Ireland, explored narrow streets in Paris and Rome, gone to Red Sox games, had coffee in the sunshine in San Francisco, Portland, Chicago and Miami. And we’ve learned that alongside great loss we can still have a great life. We want it so badly, and we love it so much.
At sunset, as we sit on the deck of our house in Rhode Island in our side-by-side chairs — mine Adirondack-style, hers on wheels — we look across the water at Fishers Island and think we are as lucky as two people can be.
We don’t know what will happen tomorrow, or who will live how long. But we were young together. We struggled to make a life. We raised three great sons. We’ve each been the caregiver and the cared-for, and I suspect that we each have a little more of both in our future.
We are two, but we are one. And I love those numbers.”
Every time I reread this story, it feels like the first. Layng’s words touch my heart so so deeply and I always seem to take a new lesson from it. Talking to Layng, it is apparent that he and Linda just get what’s really important in life and I am so inspired by their love, loyalty, commitment, and respect for each other. I hope that on this Valentine’s Day, whether you are single or in a relationship, that you will also be inspired to love the way they do.
As I mentioned, Layng is an award winning songwriter and he sent me this excerpt from the speech he gave when he was inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame this past October:
“Now I will attempt to thank my incredible wife Linda.
We’ve been married these 48 years.
Linda has made me feel like a valuable and good person when I wasn’t sure I was either of those.
I have had the benefit of her wonderful judgement at all key moments.
She has loved me and kept her sense of humor through the darkest of times.
Early in our marriage I failed in a business…we lost what money we had, and eventually lost our house..had to decide if I would go back into the Madison Avenue world where I had been before, and not been happy, or shoot for our dreams and come to Nashville.
“Nashville”, Linda said, “no choice”.
We got here with a four week old baby Tucker, two and a half year old Layngo, and started over. Linda never batted an eyelash.
There were many nights when I was loading trucks out by the airport hoping one of my songs would be successful that I would stop in my tracks and think, “Hey, Wait a minute! How realistic is it in this life that you could have Linda AND a hit record?”
Often…it seemed asking too much.
So, Linda Martine, thank you. You ARE heaven on earth.”
Layng, Linda, and their boys, (from left) Tucker, Mac, and Layng on the night Layng was inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame.
It just wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without chocolate, but let’s get serious, I’m me and I’m going to share a healthy chocolate recipe with you guys. The recipe is for raw brownies. Yes, RAW and yes they are good! They have a new product in them that I’m obsessed with called Core Greens, so not only do you get chocolate, but you get tons of hidden healthy alkalizing green nutrients too. (It’s from the makers of the Core Health Pack that I religiously take twice a day.)
“Core Greens contains 14 RAW superfoods that are rich in enzymes and nutrients to alkalinize the body while providing cleansing and healing of our delicate internal eco-system. Each certified organic, RAW ingredient has been hand-selected for its alkalizing properties from the richest soils to maximize the highest nutrient content available.”
By Marisa Pelser, the Raw Trainer
3 cups raw walnuts
1 cup pitted dates
1 tablespoon raw honey
¼ cup cocoa powder (raw cacao powder is best)
4 teaspoons Core Greens
Combine all the ingredients in a high powered blender like a Vitamix. Pulse, blend and tamp/mix until all the ingredients are finely ground together. Press the mixture into an 8×8 dish and enjoy right away or refrigerate to harden slightly. This recipe makes 16 brownie squares.
I’m also excited to announce that Core Health Products will be represented at the Completing Your Health Puzzle Conference that yours truly will also be speaking at! I attended this conference last year and I can honestly say that it changed my entire life. I learned so many things and am forcing my parents to come up from Texas to hear the various speakers including Dr. Patrick Vickers who works with The Gerson Therapy, Chris Beats Cancer, and my very favorite Shan Stratton owner of Core Health Products and nutritionist to almost every MLB, NFL, and NBA team.