Miranda Lambert on Her 'Wild Ride' to Love: 'Without the Hard Stuff I Wouldn't Be Where I Am'

·4 min read

Miranda Lambert is finally content on her pursuit of happiness.

After years of highs and lows, the country superstar has found steady footing both personally and professionally.

"Finding happiness and being at peace with yourself, it's a long journey, but I've really gotten to a great place," Lambert, 38, says in this week's PEOPLE cover story. "My manager's been good about asking me to 'sit in my life.' Country music is a huge part of my life, but it's not fully who I am."

Miranda Lambert on Finding Love After ‘Wild Ride’: ‘Without the Hard  Stuff I Wouldn’t Be Where I Am’
Miranda Lambert on Finding Love After ‘Wild Ride’: ‘Without the Hard Stuff I Wouldn’t Be Where I Am’

Jeff Lipsky Miranda Lambert

RELATED: Miranda Lambert Reveals Mom Beverly Is Healthy After Breast Cancer Journey: 'She's Unstoppable'

Work-wise, Lambert is at the top of her game — and one of the busiest people in Nashville. As an artist, she's in her creative prime, having released four records in three years, including Palomino, her recent ninth solo album. Meanwhile, she's gearing up to kick off her Velvet Rodeo residency in Las Vegas this fall. Then there's the nonmusical empire she's built since she launched to fame nearly 20 years ago on the singing competition Nashville Star: a restaurant (Casa Rosa in downtown Nashville), a fashion label (Idyllwind, available at Boot Barn) and a charity (her MuttNation Foundation advocates pet adoption). Next, she'll debut Wanda June Home, a home-goods line at Walmart that's inspired by her mom and grandma.

For more on PEOPLE's cover story with Miranda Lambert, listen below to our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day.

But these days, the Grammy winner is prioritizing time off, too — and she's ready for a vacation.

"It's really about balance of life and work for me right now," she says. "I've been touring for 20 years, and I've been everywhere and seen nothing — just a lot of parking lots. I'm trying to use my downtime to really experience life. I always get the boring months off, and I'm like, 'Can I just have a sunshiny month off?' So the first of July, I'm out of here, and I'm taking my Airstream."

Miranda Lambert on Finding Love After ‘Wild Ride’: ‘Without the Hard  Stuff I Wouldn’t Be Where I Am’
Miranda Lambert on Finding Love After ‘Wild Ride’: ‘Without the Hard Stuff I Wouldn’t Be Where I Am’

Miranda Lambert on the cover of PEOPLE

RELATED: Miranda Lambert Says the Last Few Years Taught Her She Can Write Sad Songs While She's Happy

Also along for the ride: her husband Brendan McLoughlin, 30, a retired NYPD officer whom she wed in January 2019 after a whirlwind, three-month romance. With McLoughlin, Lambert has found the stability she's long craved — and that may have felt out of reach during the tumultuous years following her 2015 divorce from Blake Shelton, as her subsequent romances drew criticism on social media and made her a tabloid target.

Watch the full episode of People Cover Story: Miranda Lambert below or on the PeopleTV app.

Lambert says she began to reevaluate her life eight years ago.

"When I turned 30, I started to take life in a new direction and really start to understand myself a little better," she says. "And going through hard things obviously makes you get to know yourself better. When you get broken down pretty good, you look at the mirror and you go, 'I have to spend some time with me, learn who I am and what I want.' I got to a really good place with myself. Then I met my husband."

Miranda Lambert on Finding Love After ‘Wild Ride’: ‘Without the Hard  Stuff I Wouldn’t Be Where I Am’
Miranda Lambert on Finding Love After ‘Wild Ride’: ‘Without the Hard Stuff I Wouldn’t Be Where I Am’

Jeff Lipsky Miranda Lambert

Today, Lambert is happier than ever. Just ask her mom!

"One look at her tells that story," Beverly June Lambert says. "She is comfortable and confident, and it shows. Brendan is a good example of a partner. He walks beside her, not beneath or above her. Navigating a new marriage, a pandemic, touring, career changes, family health crises, etc. isn't easy. But there they are just killin' it."

Miranda Lambert on Finding Love After ‘Wild Ride’: ‘Without the Hard  Stuff I Wouldn’t Be Where I Am’
Miranda Lambert on Finding Love After ‘Wild Ride’: ‘Without the Hard Stuff I Wouldn’t Be Where I Am’

Jeff Lipsky Brendan McLoughlin and Miranda Lambert

When they're not on the road, Lambert and McLoughlin spend time between her Nashville-area farm (which their six horses, five dogs, two cats, two goats, two miniature horses and a handful of chickens also call home) and New York, where McLoughlin has a 3-year-old son from a past relationship.

"I want to be open about how happy we are," Lambert says. "I just don't give two s---s about people's opinion of me, my marriage, my music or anything else. I just care that I'm being me. He jumped right into this lifestyle — there's a learning curve taking a New Yorker straight to the woods — but it was a big laugh. It's nice to have a partner in that, someone by your side that supports you, loves you and believes in you. He loves me for me. It's a really cool thing to have in my life, at this point in my life."

Miranda Lambert on Finding Love After ‘Wild Ride’: ‘Without the Hard  Stuff I Wouldn’t Be Where I Am’
Miranda Lambert on Finding Love After ‘Wild Ride’: ‘Without the Hard Stuff I Wouldn’t Be Where I Am’

Jeff Lipsky Brendan McLoughlin and Miranda Lambert

Despite the public growing pains she experienced, Lambert has no regrets, though she would have some words of wisdom for her younger self just starting out in Nashville: "It's going to be a wild ride, hon. Take the reins, and hold on tight."

Adds Lambert: "Without the hard stuff — the chaos, the crazy schedule, the heartbreak, the falling in love, the falling out of love — I wouldn't be who I am. I'm thankful for the lessons, even though they hurt at the time."

For more on Miranda Lambert, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Friday.

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