Four years ago, I took a picture of Jason’s old shoes before throwing them away. I wanted to remember what they looked like because they represented so much to me. As disgusting as they were, I was a little sad to say goodbye. First, they show that my husband is so thrifty that he’ll wear his shoes until they’re completely falling apart and his wife insists on throwing them away. More than anything though, they represent hard work. He’s spent the past 20 years playing the heck out of guitars, fine tuning his gift. These shoes took him to school and band rehearsals and shows at first. But these shoes also worked for five years at Starbucks when we first moved to Nashville and were chasing hard after our dreams. Jason worked two or three jobs at a time while I finished my graphic design degree. After the barista days, these shoes spent many, many hours doing yard work and home renovations, building tons of sweat equity into our first two homes. He works harder than anyone I know taking care of his family, our home and his career. Jason Ahlbrandt, thank you for doing all that you do for us. I could not be any more proud of you. I’m so glad I get to be your one and only.
It was Jason’s first guitar almost 20 years ago, the one he learned to play on. It was a red burst color back then. The mid-60s Sekova guitar (like this one) originally belonged to his mom, believe it or not! His dad taught him as many chords as he knew and then Jason started weekly guitar lessons. He’s been obsessed with all things guitar ever since. By the time Jason was a guitar performance major in music school, he was the one teaching guitar lessons. He’s had a lot of different guitars through the years, always buying, selling and trading up. In a high school art class Jason painted the old Sekova blue but never reassembled it into working order.
I’ve always treasured the blue guitar but it took a lot of convincing before my guitar loving husband would allow me to display a non-functional guitar in our house. To me, the blue guitar represents dreams that come true—if you pour your whole heart into something, work hard and never give up, you CAN reach your loftiest goals!
Some bitter, cruel, and perhaps a few even well-meaning people through Jason’s adolescence attempted to crush his dream; to tell him he wasn’t good enough… or suggest how arrogant he must be to think he could actually be a professional guitar player… or to say “it didn’t work for me so it won’t work for you.”
Jason has a tender heart, an inherited work ethic and perfectionism (I blame his German roots), and a rare tenacity. He’s now playing professionally, traveling the world, making a good living doing what he loves. I hung the blue guitar in the playroom where our kids spend a lot of time because I want them to ask about it. I want to tell them over and over again about how hard their daddy worked and how much he loves what he does; I want them to know—to really know—that with enough passion and diligence they can achieve whatever they desire to achieve. Dreams do come true.