Emily Curtis


When the lights fade...

Mondays. I like em… Just came from singing at the Somerby assisted living community. These are just my thoughts on what I notice and feel when I’m there. 

It’s real, uncomfortably real, not glamorous. It’s powerful… changes my heart and perspective on life in regards to my goals for music and priorities. It takes the pressure off of the success and the goals that cause so much anxiety in me, every day. 

I look at the residents sitting in those chairs, many of them shadows of who they once were. They chased dreams, fell in love, felt heartbreak, doubted their careers, faced setbacks and failure. They celebrated life milestones, and were probably the envy of many. They may have made terrible mistakes. They accomplished amazing things, traveled to incredible places, and had colorful lives. Some battled unforgiveness, loss, trauma that they allowed to rob them of good things and beautiful relationships. Maybe some of them chased success more than their families and now wonder why their son or daughter doesn't come to visit more. Some got everything they ever wanted and dreamed of, yet still felt unsatisfied. Some had the pleasure of having amazing spouses and wake up still confused when their husband or wife of fifty plus years isn't there. They may have been incredible moms and dads, friends, influencers, or experts in their fields.

At one point, they were children, like the ones I get to teach every Tuesday morning. They dreamed about their futures while depending on their own moms and dads for everything and were surrounded by other kids like them also with unknown futures. 

Today, they stared at me, a young twenty-something with a guitar and an iPad, wearing a weird Hukana matata t-shirt. I sang for a tiny fraction of their day. Some were enamored, many smiled, some fell asleep, some didn’t understand, some were frustrated, bored, some danced and had the time of their lives, some were moved thinking back to being a twenty-something with all of their charms, beauty, dreams, and doubts.

Most of these residents deal with minds that are not functioning the way they’d like and wake up not knowing where they are, what year it is, and might even wake up thinking their adult children are still toddlers, getting up to check on them or fix them breakfast.

They do know, however,  the words to a few old church hymns and “You are My Sunshine” as their souls take over for the parts of their brains that don’t work like they used to, and I have the privilege of watching every single one sing along. I started doing this to serve, but now I do this also to be a student. I’ve learned more from playing to these men and women than I have from some of the most impressive musicians. Things that war for my attention or threaten my peace and break my heart lose their power over my joy. They matter, but on a different scale. 

So yes, the lights fade. The crowds of screaming fans go home, and they eventually grow up. The curtain closes and we’re still ourselves. As one of those residents, what would I be able to tell the twenty-something dreamer that comes in to sing for the shadow of Emily Curtis?

One of my favorite quotes is from Maya Angelou, it says, “People won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” 

Now, I always leave Somerby asking myself questions like, “Is the music I’m writing and performing making the person in the back of the crowded room or the empty bar feel as important and seen as the person in the temporary spotlight? Did I make that person want to keep on living in regret and destructive habits, or did I just say something that made him or her recognize the person they can be and already are?” If I can answer, “yes” when my curtain closes as a musician and human being then I believe I will have done the job I was called to do. #leaveamark




I want to be the one that pulls out a uniquely beautiful seat at the table of life and says, “This one was handcrafted just for you”…

We live in a culture and time where relevance is valued more than life itself. To be Better than… Untouchable. What a strange paradoxical quality to fight for. A glorified prison, when at the core we just want to be loved and adored by people who crave the same thing for themselves.

On the flip side, I get inspired seeing people slowly waking up and realizing that enriching the unique ground wherever we’re standing, cultivating the unique raw traits and strengths we already possess is a worthy investment of the most importance! That we get to throw off the suffocating scarcity mentality and breathe, finally understanding that the relevance we’ve been fighting for was there all along because no one can be the concoction of traits and desires that is you. 

So I don’t want to be untouchable. I want to see people as allies not threats to my identity. I want to grab the hand of the person behind and in front of me and say “Let’s go.” I don’t want to be the one who’s at the gate saying “You’re not worthy” and “I won’t share this table with you. The seats are far too few and far too valuable.” I want to be the one that pulls out a uniquely beautiful seat at the table of life and says, “This one was handcrafted just for you,” the seat that supports you in all the right places, formed to fit the shape of the best version of you. 

So let the untouchables enjoy their important seats. One day, when they get tired of being used by the  other “worthy” people around them who would do anything to kick that seat out from under them out of their own frantic ambition, they will still be welcome at this table… This table of misfits, beautifully broken, repaired, unmasked and made with care, yet securely seated in a seat that will never be taken from them. It is into that life that I believe Jesus calls us, every day. He won’t force us or hold us down, but you’ll wish you had been sitting at this table all along once you do take your seat. I’m happy to say that this seat it taken.

Pass the Chill Pills Please

I’m confused. I took a “personal day” today. Actually, I’m giving myself a day off, because being mostly self-employed it becomes a choice. Of course there is plenty I “should” be doing, which is causing me to feel a number of things: guilt, pressure, anxiety, discontentment, and heaviness, everything EXCEPT for restfulness. It has somehow been programmed into my brain that if I’m not doing something all the time then I must not be successful, or I’m somehow failing at life. It’s uncomfortable to take a day to rest. What is that about? 

Just sit and be present. Am I the only one who has a really hard time with that?? Time is valuable, but isn't it a good use of time to take at least one day or even half a day to realign ourselves and tune into whats going on inside our heads? Maybe I don’t want to check in on that. I don’t want to have to focus on where my thoughts are. When we’re forced to be alone with ourselves it can be like being stuck in an elevator with someone that makes you uncomfortable. It’s awkward. If you’re still reading this, congratulations, you must be feeling the same way. Otherwise, you probably would have clicked off the page a few lines back while hardcore judging me. In all seriousness, though, I’ve caught myself mindlessly scrolling through Instagram images and posts while watching Netflix today, and I don’t think, I know that something is wrong with that unfiltered picture. It actually bothers me to sit and watch a movie without also having my phone or computer in my hand. The only time it ever feels okay not to have something distracting my brain is when I’m completely burnt out and there’s no more energy left. 

Drama queen. I know… but assuming you may be feeling the same way, what can we do to remedy this millennial issue? 

I think we might have a misguided view of what rest looks like. For a lot of people, including me, it means being stuck to the couch or the bed with a computer glued to my lap and a phone in my hand. Just typing that sentence gave me anxiety. There is nothing restful about overstimulating our brains. Rest should be life giving not anxiety inducing! Another thing I’m noticing about myself is that I am addicted to that stuff and have straight up withdrawals when my “devices” aren’t at arms length. Funny thing is, I’m pretty sure I’ve never gotten done with a good half hour worth of highlight reel scrolling or a Netflix binge and said “Wow. I feel so alive and recharged!”. Actually, it’s usually the complete opposite response. 

Rest, good ole Merriam Webster defines it as: “a bodily state characterized by minimal functional and metabolic activities” (duh you know that); “peace of mind or spirit; free of anxieties”… Pause. Physically, I got this, but the “peace of mind or spirit” and “free from anxieties” part not so much. Perhaps, before we can even experience restfulness we need to make sure we know ourselves, specifically our hearts, and I’m really starting to think maybe the reason I can’t stand to take a day to rest without getting freaked out is most likely just that, a heart issue.

Heart checks, as I like to call them, are great for discerning, (such a churchy word). For me it means asking myself “what is/was my motivation behind doing this?” If it’s selfish, not life-giving, or not in someone’s best interest then maybe there’s something in my heart that needs to be checked on. 


It has somehow been programmed into my brain that if I’m not doing something all the time then I must not be successful...

"Guard your heart above all else. Everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23) When someone is guarding something it means they are paying attention to every little warning, red flag, and detail surrounding that person or thing. What does someone guard something precious from?  They guard from harmful people or things, from something or someone that would try to steal it, or from anything that could negatively affect whatever is being protected. What that means for us is that we should be on high alert when our actions aren't flowing right. It means we have let something influence us or take root in our hearts that should not be there. Basically, the guard was down and it slipped right past him. Now things are flowing out in our actions, our words, and our feelings and we can’t figure out what happened. 

What fills us controls us. When we have some kind of bodily malfunction or skin issue a lot of times we test our diets to see if something we are feeding it is causing the problem. When the problem goes away after someone takes away the gluten from their diet obviously they have solved the problem. Even though most of the stuff they love has gluten in it… To those individuals my heart really does go out to you (along with my love handles). The point is, our hearts are similar vessels.

How can we guard our hearts if we don't even know what we're guarding them from? We do a diet test. Start temporarily taking things out of your typical day-off routine to see if they are the culprit of your cray. For me, this probably means social media and Netflix. Maybe for some people its alcohol, shopping, or gaming. For others it might mean giving up fast food or even pumping the brakes on an out of control dating life. I don’t believe those things are bad, but as habits they are as we let them control our time. I probably don’t need to tell you that. I just felt the need to clarify.

However, you can’t take something out and be expected to just breeze through your day without being tempted to jump back into it. So this is when we replace it with something that we know without a shadow of a doubt makes us feel genuine peace or energizes us. This part is fun and should be positive! It could be a hobby like cooking, reading (depending on what you’re reading), journaling/blogging, family time, taking a yoga or spin class, a day at the park with the pup. In my case, it usually means spending time with God and hearing from Him through His word, prayer, taking care of my body, or going on coffee dates with the people He’s placed in my life that uplift and encourage me. 

So the next time you take a coveted “personal day”, take your chill pill, in whatever form that may be. Rest should be about taking a break from the things that suck the life out of you and replacing them with life!  


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"When the goal becomes being liked, no amount of approval ever feels like enough. When the goal becomes a bigger platform, no platform ever feels big enough"

Excerpt From: Jennie Allen. “Nothing to Prove.” iBooks. 

"I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that."

Galatians 2:20 MSG

I LOVE what I do. I love what music does for the soul, the way it breaks through language barriers, age barriers, disease barriers, and makes people move. However, the music industry itself is incredibly skilled at twisting and perverting what it was always created to do. Platforms... These Platforms, as Jennie Allen talks about in her book, (seriously go read it) that musicians crave and spend energy trying to reach are slippery. The goal shifts. It becomes a race to fame and "success". The goal to create something beautiful and touch hearts gets swallowed up by the world's standard of that illusive word. "Get noticed. Get signed. Get an army of adoring fans, Get recognition. Get the glory. Then you'll be happy", right? That voice is constantly blaring in our ears, and it is all too easy to get sucked into that mindset. 

I don't want my motivations for making music to become about that life. Don't get me wrong! That stuff is niceee. It can feel amazing, but that feeling, like all feelings, fades. It's forgotten in the midst of the pursuit of the next flashy career checkpoint. No award is ever good enough. No amount of Spotify streams is ever satisfying enough. No amount of screaming fans, digits behind a dollar sign, or number 1 hits will EVER be enough

Most of the time I feel like saying, "Enough is enough!" to that voice that will always try to distract my heart. It just comes with the job description, whether we like to admit that it's something we think about or not. It's also something I pray against every day for myself as well as the people and artists that I love. I believe the battle against it begins in knowing your identity. 

I am totally guilty of forgetting that who I am is not based on my music, or the brand/image I create for myself!! I could lose my ability to do this tomorrow. That's true for every career!

So I'll finish by saying this. I am not Emily Curtis, the singer. I will daily fight to remind myself of this. Brace yourself! I'm about to slap you with the Word. My identity is found in the love and undeserved grace of Jesus Christ, and the life that I live in Him through His victory over death on the cross. So if you do not know me, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Emily Curtis, imperfect and beautifully flawed daughter of the King, and I would love to introduce you to Him! 



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