The more I try to make plans, the more they change.

Some will say, “it’s God’s will” that something did or didn’t happen; others say, “Things happen for a reason.”

I’m not sure how much God cared about my singing competition, but I’m sure he was there to keep me safe through Hurricane Matthew.

This past Friday was the first week of my six-week SML Idol singing competition at Heath’s Waterfront Grill in Huddleston.

Friday was a big mess from oversleeping, trying to find new tires, getting my car aligned, figuring out who all was coming with me, how we were all getting there, which way to go, when to leave, and… am I making you stressed yet? I sure was.

First we get in the car, and it ends up not being a car load of friends like I had hoped for, but instead it was just my boyfriend, my friend, Shelby Thomas, who is also a county resident in the competition, and myself.

My sister drove separately, and we started off with her following me, but then I ended following her when she chose to go a different route.

Never again will I do that.

She took me down Climax Road, and those of you who follow Tim Smith with Climax Moonshine may know what road I’m referring to, but for everyone else, heed my warning and never take that road.

It was the scariest road I have ever been on in my life.

Keep in mind — in addition to the curvy, long road that seemed to go on for 15 minutes or more — it was also rainy weather conditions with limbs, leaves and trees in the roadway.

You could say I was more than happy when I arrived in Huddleston.

As Shelby and I got settled in, the more nervous we became. She sung an original, and I sung Reba McEntire’s “I’m a survivor.”

I thought I did pretty well, even though my nerves caused me to mess up a little.

There were three judges, and they score each contestant anywhere up to a total score of 15. Each judge gave me a total score of 8, which was considered “average.”

It’s kind of disheartening for someone to confirm what you have felt all along, that your voice is average, mediocre.

What’s even more disheartening was to find out on Sunday that I am at the bottom of the pack with the lowest score totaling 21, and mine being 24.

But, that’s okay. It was all supposed to be just fun anyways. I will sing again next week, and see if I get to continue in this competition.

For now, let’s get back to this whole making plans thing.

Despite flood warnings, standing water, sink holes and everyone saying how dangerous it was outside, I was determined to enjoy myself this past weekend.

Saturday, I made it to my boyfriend’s where he cooked me a delicious steak dinner followed by a cinnamon pull-apart cake, and then he took me to Main Street Cafe for karaoke.

Once again, my friends were supposed to join us.

None would, mostly because of work or the storm.

But, everything worked out perfectly.

I sang my heart out all night and even tried my hand at some songs that I never had sung in front of people before in my life.

I made new friends and danced for the first time in a while.

Sometimes, I have to learn to loosen my grip on my planning-making wired brain and just roll with the punches.

Sometimes it turns out to be even more enjoyable than you ever could have imagined.

Ashley Hodge reports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at

Ashley Hodge is the editor for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at