I can send a bridge up in smoke...

I have very often stated that music is the soundtrack of my life. I will be driving along a road somewhere and a song will come on the radio that takes me back to another place and time and the memories become so vivid I could swear I am standing in the moment when that song became forever etched in my memory, and became a part of who I am. Early in life, Smoky Mountain Rain by Ronnie Milsap played on my cassette deck on the nights that I would bury my head under the covers, hoping that man would not find another reason to hurt me before he passed out drunk. As I grew older, I can recall very distinctly my grandmother telling me very sternly not to sing that song when I belted out "Heaven's just a sin away" (The Kendall's) in her kitchen. Her famous spaghetti was cooking on the stove and she pulled a switch off the window ledge over the sink. I never sang that song again, but never forgot that moment.

As a teenager who was a rebel without a clue, music continued to stamp it's mark on my life. One night in the summer of 1986, "Holding back the years" (Simply Red) was stuck in my head as I tried to go to sleep. As I saw the video in my head with the group walking through a cemetery, I went to the bathroom and got sick. A sleepless night turned into morning. My mother, with tears in her eyes, explained to me how a close childhood friend of mine had passed away the night before. Everytime I here that song today, I think of Dennis, how he would now be my Uncle (long family story).

In 1996 I lost my natural father very suddenly. All of us Slusher's piled into a 3 vehicle caravan and headed to St. Louis to say good bye to a man I barely new. We had always had a very distant relationship, and I felt guilty that I wasn't as devastated as my Uncles, Aunts, and Grandparents. But about halfway there, over the speakers of that Chevy conversion van, Mike and the Mechanics "The Living Years" had me bawling like a baby. That song still evokes so much emotion in me because I didn't know him and there is so much I wish I would have asked or said to him.

I could go on like this for hours, really. Songs like Garth Brooks Shameless, Bad Good Bye by Clint Black and Winona Judd, and Smile by Uncle Kracker all are very powerful to me and tell the story of where I have been and what I have learned.

Early last year I sat and listened to Loser by Three Doors Down with a 12 pack of Miller Lite and a bottle of percocet, trying to talk myself out of making a really stupid decision. It was a very dark time in my life, and everyday was a battle just to get up. Confused about my health and career and life, those thoughts snuck into my head and would not let go. I remember very specifically thinking this song is really about me. I thank God today it wasn't. Recently I heard a song that truly does define me. One that puts a bow on where I am now, and far surpasses all of those other songs that have meant so much to me, It is the theme song to the story of my life. The title of this blog is one of the lyrics.

A lot has changed in the last year. I am such a different person than I was then, when my whole life consisted of chasing my tail, chasing shadows, and running all the time. Now, everything is much more stable. I would rather have a night in with my boys than a night out at the bar. I am blessed to have a strong woman beside me, who loves me for who I am and never ceases to amaze me. A wonderful new job that challenges me and where I feel appreciated and that the best is yet to come. A relationship with my sister that, after all the rocky times, is as strong as it ever has been. A father who tells me he is proud of the man he sees in front of him today. And a life changing opportunity ahead of me, along with my adopted brother Ralph. It's a good time to be me.

Through all of it, the doubts, the depression, the women, the failures and terrible mistakes, I kept looking for a light at the end of the tunnel. Now that same light shines brightly upon me, and as I hear Tim McGraw's "Better than I used to be" it's like standing atop a mountain and using the words to look back down the path. It hits home, brings me to tears, puts a smile on my face, and let's me know that tomorrow is going to be better than today, even though today has been pretty damn good.

It has been awhile since I blogged. there is a lot going on and a lot in my head yet so hopefully the next one is just around the corner. Until then, I hope you listen to this song and it reminds you of me. 

Have a great day everyone...................



"Better Than I Used To Be"

I know how to hold a grudge
I can send a bridge up in smoke
And I can't count the people I've let down, the hearts I've broke
You ain't gotta dig too deep
If you wanna find some dirt on me
I'm learning who you've been
Ain't who you've got to be
It's gonna be an uphill climb
Aww honey I won't lie

I ain't no angel
I still got a few more dances with the devil
I’m cleaning up my act little by little
I’m getting there
I can finally stand the man in the mirror I see
I ain’t as good as I’m gonna get
But I’m better than I used to be

I’ve pinned a lot of demons to the ground
I’ve got a few old habits left
But there’s still one or two I might need you to help me get
Standing in the rain so long has left me with a little rust
But put some faith in me
And someday you’ll see
There’s a diamond under all this dust

I ain't no angel
I still got a few more dances with the devil
I’m cleaning up my act little by little
I’m getting there
I can finally stand the man in the mirror I see
I ain’t as good as I’m gonna get
But I’m better than I used to be

I ain't no angel
I still got a few more dances with the devil
But I’m cleaning up my act little by little
I’m getting there
I can finally stand the man in the mirror I see
I ain’t as good as I’m gonna get
But I’m better than I used to be


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