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WISE WORDS: Country Superstar Mary Chapin Carpenter On The 'Ongoing Lesson Of Loss'

5 Grammys to her name, but still happiest in the Mountains.

14/02/2017 15:14 | Updated 18 February 2017

For the latest in our WISE WORDS interview series - where stars from a whole range of fields share the important life lessons they’ve learned along the way - we’re posing some of the big questions to American country superstar MARY CHAPIN CARPENTER.

Mary Chapin has won five Grammy Awards and is the only artist to have won four consecutive Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance, which she received from 1992 to 1995. 

With sales of more than 12 million records, she was inducted into Nashville’s Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2012. She recently visited the UK where she performed old favourites as well as new tracks from her latest album, ‘The Things That We Are Made Of’, Mary Chapin sat down to share life lessons with HuffPostUK... 

What do you do to switch off?
I walk around my farm. In the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. That’s all I need. It’s all there.

How do you deal with any negativity that comes your way?
I try to breathe through it. I try to remember what I’ve learned from yoga, and from mindfulness. If I let it get to me, I’m sunk, so I try to breathe through it. It doesn’t entirely erase it, but it reminds me of something I heard a long time ago… Think of it as the five-year rule - if something comes your way, if you know it’s not going to matter in five years, let it go. 

When and where are you at your happiest?
At my farm. With my dogs and cats. 

Mary Chapin Carpenter
Mary Chapin Carpenter has five Grammy Awards to her name, but says she's still learning

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
That five-year rule is pretty helpful.

What has been the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn?
How to accept loss in life - and it’s not a singular lesson, it’s ongoing - to accept that loss is a part of life. It can apply to losing people, dreams unrealised, disappointing yourself, it’s a broad thing.

What would you like to be able to tell your 13-year-old self?
Relax. In the future, there will be a person whose name is Donald Trump. Do not be afraid.

What are the three things at the top of your to-do list?
Try to survive the tour by getting enough sleep; try not to drink so much coffee; stop looking at my phone so much. 

What do you think happens when we die?
I know what I wish, that we go to a peaceful place free of pain and suffering and we are not alone. 

When or where you have felt in the presence of something bigger than ourselves?
I stood in line for eight hours two Christmases ago for the carol service at Kings College, Cambridge. I was in touch with my mother while I was waiting - we were texting the whole time. It was the 500th anniversary of the chapel, and I wept through the entire service. It was life altering, I was so moved. I wouldn’t describe myself as religious, I worship in the church of nature, but I felt the power of the music, and it made me feel like I was part of the family of man. Unforgettable.

What is the quality you most value in your relationships?
Honesty.

What keeps you grounded?
My dogs, my cats, my responsibilities. And the people who work with me, my colleagues – all wonderful hardworking people. We couldn’t do it without each other. 

What was the most recent act of kindness you received?
Recently, I was at the big (women’s rights) march in DC, and there were over half a million people in this space, but there wasn’t a harsh word, not an elbow coming your way, not a frown. It was a sense of being part of something much larger, with both women and men there too, and everyone was there to support everyone. It was one communal act of kindness.

Mary Chapin Carpenter’s latest album ‘The Things That We Are Made Of’ is available now. Click here for info.  

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