Tag Archives: love

Give Yourself a Break…Election 2016

Greetings Friends,

I wanted to write you all a quick letter because I have something to say that I feel might help one or a few of you. I tend to stay away from politics. As you know it’s a very hot topic right now and it stirs passion and high emotions for a lot of us.  That being said…

Scrolling through my Facebook page today I see a lot of people who are angry, sad, confused and scared. Not everyone feels this way, certainly, and that’s okay. Everyone is entitled to their own choice. I am comforted by the words of Barack Obama as he speaks of tolerance and acceptance and unity. He is so eloquent and I will miss him come January. I hope he will continue to lead with dignity and hope.

Here is what I want to tell you. Are you paying attention?

You need to disengage for awhile.  Look away.

I spent a long time this morning pouring through Facebook reading article after article about the election. I was consumed and couldn’t think of anything else. I couldn’t even focus on the work I was supposed to be doing.

I’m not saying you can’t feel sad or angry. You sure can, but you need to take a break. Pull yourself away from the computer or the TV just for a short time. 30 minutes. Go outside, look at the sun. Watch a bird fly. Take your dog for a walk.

I decided to listen to some music. I picked a song that reminded me how much I love music and how much I love my husband. Then I got to thinking about how much I love my family. No election can take those things away from me.  While listening and writing this to you, I feel like a person again. I’m breathing.  I’m celebrating creativity and love.  My heart is full and I am grateful.

Please, take a break today.

Sending my love to all of you…pass it on.

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Is This Cup Half Empty? (Dedicated to Ray North)

I’ve been struggling with a thought lately. Here’s my question: Am I living life to the fullest? What does that even mean? I hear people talk about it all the time, but who actually does it? I asked some of my friends and family what they thought.

I have a friend at work. Yeah, can you believe that? His name is Joe. He is a writer. Not only is he a genuinely nice person, but he makes me laugh every day. He’s one of those people that just makes the day better. You can give Joe the most boring topic and he will think of something clever to write about it. He self-published a children’s book, They Don’t Make Books About Uncles and he’s working on a play that I know will be successful…he’s just that kind of guy. Although I’ve only known Joe for a short time, I very much admire him and I know that he has changed my life for the better. He has inspired and encouraged me to write and create and try. That being said, I asked Joe what it means to live life to the fullest. We have the same job and it’s not always glamorous. Yes, we write and create, but there are rules and guidelines to follow and it can get monotonous and frustrating. It’s not always easy to be a creative type in the corporate world. Joe told me that it’s hard to live every moment to the fullest, but it’s what you make of the good things that happen. He said we have to fully enjoy the successes and the happy times. I happen to know that Joe’s family and friends are very important to him and he works to cultivate those relationships. Immerse yourself in the great moments and don’t worry about the small, mundane stuff. Maybe work is just what you have to do to get to the next great moment. I think Joe is on to something. He seems like a happy person to me.

Jeanne and Joe

I also discussed this topic with Steve. You all remember Steve; he’s my husband. You may remember him from such blogs as…you get it. I asked, “Steve, are you living life to the fullest?” He said, “Well, I sure am busy.” That’s not what I meant and I’m sure he knew that. Steve’s passion is music and sound. I believe that when he’s playing music or recording, he is doing what he loves most. In those moments, he is living life to the fullest. In our discussion, we talked about how it may be hard to live life to the fullest when you have to worry about bills and money. One cannot simply travel and take time out to write a novel or produce an album. How can a person be happy when he is hungry or homeless? Well, that’s an interesting thought. Is it only rich people who can really take advantage of a full life?

Jeanne and Steve

I have been listening to a book by Elizabeth Gilbert called Big Magic. In this book, Gilbert talks about living a creative life. It’s a choice one makes to pursue their creative endeavors in a responsible and mature way. She explains that creating is free. It’s for the rich and the poor. She mentions that if only the rich could create, the world would surely be a boring place. She cautions her listeners/readers to never make the artistic craft a burden. Work at it because you love it. Don’t do it to impress other people or even make a living. Do it for yourself; to make you happy. She describes a different way of thinking about being creative and talks about her path as a writer and novelist. She wrote Eat, Pray, Love for herself to work through her own life issues. It just happened to resound with millions of readers. (If you’re a creative type, I would highly recommend listening to or reading “Big Magic.”)

While I’m tossing all of these ideas around in my head, something sad happened. One of my brother’s best friends from high school, Ray North has been battling cancer for awhile. After a brave fight, Ray passed away on November 10th. My brother flew to Texas where Ray was getting treatment to be with him and to ultimately say goodbye. I hadn’t seen Ray since I was in high school. We went to the same school, but my brother and Ray graduated the year before I started. Basically, I knew Ray through Paul. Since I always thought my brother was pretty cool, I knew that Ray was cool, too. He was really cute, he could sing, he was in marching band and he had this killer smile. Oh, and he wasn’t rude to me, his friend’s stupid kid sister. Paul recently talked about when he walked into his new high school as a sophomore, he was very nervous. Ray was one of the first people to talk to Paul and made him feel welcome, including Paul in the “cool crowd.” That’s pretty powerful stuff. That’s a gift you never forget about.

At Ray’s wake and funeral I learned even more about him. He has a lovely family. A beautiful wife and four happy kids. Paul and his friend Eric, (also one of Ray’s good friends from high school,) made a slideshow about Ray. In every picture Ray’s smile shone. There were pictures of Ray goofing around with his family growing up and then enjoying happy moments with his wife and kids. I am not kidding, at Ray’s funeral, the church was packed. Not one empty seat. And it was a pretty big church. I was astounded at all of the lives Ray had touched at church, at work, through Scouting, or just within the community. Everyone in that huge room loved Ray. He wasn’t the type of guy you sorta liked. You could only love Ray. One quote from the homily stuck with me. It’s a quote from Lord Baden Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts.

“No one can pass through life, any more than he can pass through a bit of country, without leaving tracks behind, and those tracks may often be helpful to those coming after him in finding their way.”

Every person who spoke was touched by Ray. Ray enriched the lives of others just by being himself. He created a happy life for himself and for those around him. He wasn’t rich and he wasn’t famous, but without a doubt, he lived life to the fullest.

I’m not sure what got me thinking about living life to the fullest, but God or the cosmos, or whatever you believe in, brought me an example when I needed one. So, I’ll take a dash of Joe, a pinch of Steve, a generous portion of Elizabeth Gilbert and mix it all up with Ray to fashion my own life from now on. It’s probably not something I will be good at every day, but at least I have some wise and trustworthy guides to lead the way. I wish I could tell you exactly what it means to live life to the fullest, but I’m not still not entirely sure what it means. I think it’s a different story for all of us. It’s about finding contentment and creativity inside of yourself, loving everyone as hard as you can and ultimately leaving behind a legacy of infectious joy. Also, if you have a killer smile, that could really help.

Ray

Trend Report: Bananas

Today I Googled “what is trending now.” I’m trying to “see what the kids are into,” and “learn more about social media and the computer internet machines.” Guess what I found? It’s pretty sad, are you sure you want to know? Okay, I’ll tell you, but you have been warned. First, is the weather. “Be careful out there, everybody!” was the headline. A bit insensitive? Maybe. In case you didn’t know, there is catastrophic flooding happening in South Carolina. People are without drinking water and electricity and most importantly, homes. I even heard that cemeteries were flooding and caskets were floating through the streets. I feel for the people of South Carolina. I can’t even imagine what that’s like. Losing everything and being displaced, or worse yet, being trapped somewhere for days without the basics most of us take for granted.

Oh, wait. What’s this? Cosmopolitan calls the Kardashians “America’s First Family.” Wow, neat. That’s story number 2, for those of you paying attention. Catastrophe for real people…new title for the Kardashians. Hmmm…well, I suppose congratulations are in order. Great job, Girls!

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Things were getting a little heavy there, weren’t they? Whew! I’m so glad we got past that hump in the day. Does anyone else see a problem here? I’ve heard so many people complain about Kim Kardashian and Caitlyn Jenner and Donald Trump. Seems like a person can’t get away from hearing about them. For the record, I don’t have a problem with Kim or Caitlyn, but I don’t seek them out and I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of either. Why do we hear/read/see so much about these people? Because we keep reading it. We keep clicking on articles and videos to see what screwy thing Trump said today. We keep asking for it, so we keep getting it. Am I telling you to ignore politics? No, of course not. Did you know there are other candidates running for president? If you want him to go away, stop giving him your attention.

There’s a good lesson here, right? Ever heard the saying, “Garbage in, garbage out?” Well, I think this is true. If you keep absorbing all of the hate and stupidity that’s out there, that’s what your life will be. Constant anger and annoyance and trivialities. Let’s look at the bigger picture and focus on what’s really important. Our brothers and sisters suffering in South Carolina. Kids being shot at school. Those are things we should be trying to change. Let’s open a constructive and collaborative dialogue about those topics.

Another lesson to keep in mind: “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” (Thanks Paul McCartney!) If we all cleared our heads of all the mindless drivel we encounter, just think of the all the room we’ll have in our heads and hearts to create great things. It’s astounding when you think about it.

Kim, Caitlyn, Don…best of luck to you. I’m out.

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Keep Your Pants On, It’s Going to be Alright!

One of the first things people ask when you get married is, “when are you going to have kids?” And then as time goes on people ask, “Why don’t you have any kids?” I’ve read several blogs about single or married women who don’t have kids. They come across as proud or belligerent about not having kids. Like they are taking some stance against society or something. I’m here to tell you that it’s okay to not have children. Yep, it’s really okay. You may have guessed that I don’t have kids. I won’t bore you with the reasons why, but it’s not a decision I made lightly. Having a kid is a huge responsibility. It seems that many people aren’t up for the task. Leaving small children in a hot car or abusing them so badly that they are not able to function with other people ever again. It’s sad. You don’t have to be smart or rich or responsible to have one baby or ten babies.

That being said, I’d like to talk about love. If you’re a non-mom, you’ll be able to relate to this statement. “You just can’t understand what it’s like to love unless you have your own child.” Yes, people have said it to me and I’ve read it countless times. “You wouldn’t understand, you don’t have kids.” That’s another good one. People don’t necessarily mean any harm when they say this, they just aren’t thinking past their own lives. What I am proposing is that a person without children, including me, is more than capable of experiencing real and profound love. I’m talking about love that you feel deep within your core. Feelings that twist your stomach and fill your soul with buzzing currents of electricity. Oh, you want examples? Don’t worry, I’ve come prepared. Brace yourself for three tales of profound love.

My first story is about my brother Paul. Paul and I lived together in our 20s. I think we lived together for about 7 years. We lived in an awful place that wasn’t very safe. We didn’t have heat in the winter or AC in the summer. Oh, I forgot to mention the bathroom ceiling caved in and water just poured out of it for years. I’m not exaggerating here. Our landlord, John Not-Coola was a very awkward man who had no sense of humor and not a compassionate bone in his body. And he smelled funny. Anyway, we finally got our “shit” together and moved to a better place. Soon after, Paul got a great job…in South Carolina. What? So, we prepared for Paul to move away. Far away. We got a small group together and drove Paul to South Carolina in two cars. It’s about a 13-hour drive. We had fun getting Paul’s new apartment together, but then it was time for me to go home. Everyone else went down to the car and it was just me and Paul. My eyes filled with tears and I told Paul I was really sad to leave him there. He said he knew and we would be okay. It broke my heart to walk away, and it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Luckily, we spent a lot of time on the phone and still had a blast together. That was before Facebook and all that, so we still talked to people on the phone back then, kids. I still missed him every day. My best friend. A few years later, Paul moved back home. Yay! I’m sure it’s because he couldn’t stand to be without me. I’m pretty special, you know.

Grab a tissue, here’s the next one. You may remember from a previous post that I had major surgery about 5 years ago. I won’t gross you out with the details, because it is, in fact, pretty gross. I was scared out of my mind. I was pretty convinced that I was going to die. Spoiler alert: I made it. Anyway, Steve drove me to the hospital bright and early that day. He made sure to have some fun songs playing in the car to lighten the mood. My Mom met us at the hospital and I was soon led away to the “back” to prepare. Before I walked away, I handed Steve the ring he bought me and asked him to hang on to it. After waiting around for a torturous amount of time, it was finally time to be wheeled back into surgery. My Mom said something comforting to me about Jesus, which was nice, while the tears were just pouring out of my eyes…again. I thought that would be the last time I saw my Mom or Steve. I remember someone, (I later found out it was my doctor) saying that my turtle tattoo was really cute. “Count backwards from 99.” I thought, “99, 98…” and then I was waking up from surgery. Oh my gosh, I made it! The epidural didn’t take, so I was in a lot of pain. They wouldn’t release me to a hospital room until the pain subsided a bit. About two hours later, I was moved to a room. I was told my Mom and boyfriend were on their way up to see me. I didn’t realize they had actually been waiting for a total of about 8 hours. My Mom walked in the room first and I was so happy to see her! Steve walked in behind her and the tears started again. I was overwhelmed with relief and love. “I’m so happy to see you,” I said. He gave me a big smile and I saw his eyes fill up, too. That feeling was intense. It was happy, sad and almost too much to bear. I will never forget that moment and exactly what it felt like.IMG_0278

One more story to share with you. Of course it’s about my Mom. Several years ago, as I was going through a divorce, my Mom was going through cancer treatment. Mom wasn’t too thrilled with me at the time. Divorce is a sensitive topic in our family. It seems like more and more people are dealing with cancer lately, so maybe many of you can relate or have similar stories. I can still remember my Mom telling me over the phone that she had cancer. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. My Mom can’t have cancer, that doesn’t make sense. First came surgery to remove the tumor. It was outpatient and she was pretty much fine. We even laughed together that day. At that time, she still looked like herself. She didn’t look sick at all. What really makes you sick is the chemo. That’s when your skin turns grey and your face is bloated and you lose your hair. Seeing my Mom look like that was heart-breaking. Definitely an image that is burned into my mind forever. You’re not supposed to drive yourself to chemo, so I drove my Mom. They would take her into a room where other people were receiving chemo, too. It took a couple of hours, so I would usually get some rest, as her appointments were early in the morning and I worked nights. Then I would pick her up afterwards. She would be okay and we’d go get some lunch. There was one time in particular I’d like to tell you about when she wasn’t okay. I dropped Mom off and went home to nap. I got a call to come back because Mom was really upset. I got there as fast as I could and found my poor Mom pale as a ghost and crying hysterically. She was in a little room by herself off of the main room. I remember the windows were up high and I could see the sun and some purple flowers someone had planted near a tree. I held my Mom’s hand and she told me a doctor told her what her chances for a full recovery would be. My stomach lurched as I waited for the number: 70%. I guess some doctors feel that full disclosure is a good idea, but maybe you wait until someone isn’t hooked up to poisonous chemicals and feeling as low as possible. Mom was already scared, but that just pushed her over the edge into terrified. I told her 70% seemed pretty good to me as we all have a 50/50 chance of making it through today. You just never know what life can bring on any given day. Plus, it’s just a number, not a representation of who she actually is. I told her I loved her and she wasn’t alone. A nice nurse brought her some crackers and juice and Mom calmed down. She told me she was glad I was there and that ignited my heart. As I mentioned, things were a little tense between us at the time, so hearing my Mom say that meant so much to me. “I’m glad I’m here too.” I think of this moment often as it was almost like time stopped during that 30 minute exchange. We were two women helping each other through a horrible moment with real love and compassion. It’s a memory I hold dear. After chemo and radiation, my Mom has been cancer-free. That’s a gift I never take for granted.IMG_0004

What I’m trying to say here is that we shouldn’t tell others what they can or cannot understand. Just because a woman or man doesn’t have kids doesn’t mean they don’t “get it.” Certainly, people with kids have a very different life experience that is filled with love, happiness, anger, chaos, total satisfaction and heavy disappointment. Oh, wait…that sounds like my life, too. And everyone else’s life. Bottom line: we’re all on this planet together and we are all capable of giving and receiving love no matter what sort of packaging it presents itself. A brother, a boyfriend, a Mom, a cat, a baby, an aunt or uncle…it’s all love and it can all be impactful and profound. And there aren’t any diapers to change, nor spaghetti in your hair.

10 Songs That Changed My Life

When I meet someone new I always ask them what kind of music they like. It shocks and troubles me when a person says, “I don’t know, I don’t really listen to music.” WHAT?? That two-second answer forces me to reevaluate this potential friendship. How does a person even get through their life without listening to music?? That just makes me sad. I have spent countless hours listening to music and discussing music. I suppose being a singer in a band forces one to talk about music, but so many friendships and memories have been made through music. I can’t imagine my life without it. Not even for a second.

One of my friends encouraged me to write a music blog as I’m always talking about my band or music in general. Ok, not “always”, but regularly. That got me thinking. What can I write about music? There are only a zillion topics to choose from. I decided to keep it simple and offer a list of 10 songs that have changed my life. You’d think this would be an easy task, but I must correct you there. Sure, it’s really easy to think of songs I love that are meaningful, but they may not have changed my life. Hmmm…this requires some thought. After much debate, here is my list. I hope you find it interesting and insightful. Perhaps it will encourage you to make your own list enabling you to revisit some important milestones in your life. I’d love to hear your list, too. Don’t be shy about sharing. Here goes!

These aren’t necessarily in any particular order.

1. “More Than A Feeling” by Boston. When CDs first became available, I didn’t have any. I was still marveling over the dual cassette option on my boombox. You mean I can make my own mixes and record songs off the radio? That’s so cool! My older brother Paul was a rabid music fan. I think he has listened to just about everything that’s out there at least once. Of course he had CDs. These were the early days when he only had 10 or 20. I’m sure he owns thousands of discs at this point. One of the first CDs my brother owned was the debut album from Boston. “More Than A Feeling” was track 1. I carefully placed a bookmark in my brother’s CD pile so I could put Boston back in the right place. Of course he would notice it was moved; he had a little sister. Can you hear the acoustic guitar fading in? I can. Tom Scholz wrote the song and played all of those harmonic guitars. And then Brad Delp came in with first a quiet pleasant-sounding voice to explode into those super-high notes that are nearly impossible to duplicate. My mind was blown. After spending my girlhood listening to The Muppets and Strawberry Shortcake, I finally heard real rock ‘n roll. I was never the same again. There’s a whole album after that song, too! “More Than A Feeling” taught me what rock ‘n roll sounded like. It’s an album I’ve never gotten tired of hearing and my brother never knew I frequently “borrowed” his CD. (Well, he does now.) He eventually made me a cassette copy, God bless him. I’m sure it wasn’t to be nice, but to keep me away from his stuff.

2. “Leave It” by Yes. I remember watching the world premiere of the video of this song on MTV. I thought Yes was a new 80’s band and “Owner of a Lonely Heart” was their first hit. Oh, the fun of being an ignorant kid. Being a girl who loved singing, “Leave It” was a jaw-dropping song in my book. Listen to all those harmonies! I didn’t know much about recording back then, so I assumed everyone sang the song all together at one time. One take. You practice until you get it right, right? Over the years I have tried to learn everyone’s part in case they need me to fill in. What a fun piece to learn! I listened to it over and over. “90125” is still one of my favorite albums. When I started hanging around with my husband, I told him I loved that song hoping he wouldn’t think I was a dork. He produced a surround sound version of the album with a version of “Leave It” featuring vocals only. Wow! That is one of the coolest things I’ve ever heard. This song taught me about harmonizing and that singing with a group can be a rewarding challenge. How could I not be a singer after hearing that gem?

3. “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette. I know, I know…quit groaning. It’s not what you think. I know this is the 90’s anthem for girl power and the ultimate break-up song, but that’s not why it changed my life. When this song came out, I wasn’t particularly sad or depressed, but I really liked Alanis’s sound. She could sing quiet and pretty and then melodically yell some biting lyrics. That was pretty cool. Not a lot of chicks were doing that at that time. I seem to remember a lot of Shania Twain going around at that time. She has a beautiful voice, but not very rock ‘n roll. In my early 20’s I started hanging out at karaoke bars. You see, I loved to sing and wanted to try singing in front of people. Drunk people are pretty forgiving audiences. So, I decided to try, “You Oughta Know.” Why not? I had sung it in my bedroom a hundred times. Guess what? I totally rocked it out. My choir/musical theater training was doing me some good. When I finished hollering my song at a room full of strangers, they actually clapped. As I shyly walked back to my seat, people were stopping me to tell me how great I sounded. To quote Keanu Reeves, “Wo.” I loved the attention and I loved knowing that I had the power to do something great. Although I could never sing this song in front of my Mom, I did record it for my very first demo. (I changed the bad word so my Mom could listen to it.) So, Alanis Morissette in all of her anger and bitterness kindly ushered me into the spotlight. That was really nice of her.

4. “It’s Too Late” by Carole King. When I was in my 20’s a tribute to “Tapestry” was produced. Amy Grant sang “It’s Too Late” and I loved it. I loved her voice on the song and the arrangement was smooth. I don’t mean to dis the original as I enjoy that, too. I used to scour the newspapers for audition notices. This was a bit before the internet was a go-to resource. There was a local church putting on a big production. I guess they had been producing this show every year for several years. Not really knowing what it was, I went to audition. I sang, “White Christmas” for about ten people. They asked me to sing a Christmas song. I was selected to be a part of the show. I would be performing at the main attraction which was a live band. There would be a group of about 8 of us who would all perform a song. The rest of us would sing background vocals. The rest of the group already knew each other and I was the outsider. Being a church production, most of the folks were pretty nice to me. I chose “It’s Too Late” to sing for my solo song. We practiced for several weeks and then the big day arrived. This would be the first time that I would sing as myself, not as a theatrical character, with a band in front of a large group of people, including my family. After a few songs, it was my turn to perform. As I was introduced, I walked up to the microphone and looked out among the 100+ people in the room. Once I got going, it was great! What a rush! When the song was over, everyone clapped and yelled and no one threw rotten vegetables. “It’s Too Late” will always hold a very special place in my heart.

5. “Paper Airplane” by Willy Porter. This may be a song that you’ve never heard. That’s okay. I hadn’t heard the song or even heard of Willy Porter until I met my husband. The beginning of our relationship was well, interesting. It was really an uphill climb to be together, but I was willing to fight for it. Apparently he was too. In my quest to show my amorous feelings I did what any normal girl would do and made him a mix CD. Everybody does that, right? I wasn’t sure how he was going to take it, but he made me one in return. Is there anything better than receiving a mix tape/CD from someone else? Most of the songs on his first CD to me were just songs he liked and wanted to share. No real hidden meanings, although I really tried to look for them. As I was getting worried that perhaps my feelings were unreciprocated, “Paper Airplane” played. This song was written and performed by Willy Porter who, in my opinion, is a very underrated musician. His guitar playing is intricate and masterful while his sweet voice could quiet an entire auditorium. You should listen to it for yourself. It’s the live version. There’s a line in the song that goes, “People say I’ve lost my footing, they should look into your eyes.” When that song ended, I knew Steve “like liked me” and my heart swelled. Aww…

6. “Wild Sex in the Working Class” by Oingo Boingo. Oddly enough, this song reminds me of my brother. Alright, alright, before you start gagging, it’s not like that. When I was a kid I looked up to my big brother. I wanted to do what he did, like what he liked and be wherever he thought was a cool place to be. We actually lived together in our 20’s/30’s and really got to know each other as adults. It’s a time I treasure. My brother is not an emotional person, I’m the emotional one. (No kidding??!!) After many years of an estranged relationship with our Dad, he told us that he was moving to California. He did not make arrangements to say good-bye to us, so we went to see him. My Dad bought us dinner and that was it. I said good-bye and walked to the door. I let my brother have his own moment as they have always been closer. Paul came to meet me totally upset. He did not get the farewell that he had hoped for. Their parting was rather cold, actually. I have never seen my brother that upset. Ever. We got into the car and drove away and that’s when “Wild Sex” came on the radio. It’s weird how sometimes the perfect song comes on the radio precisely when you need to hear it. Paul is a huge Oingo Boingo fan, so we turned up the song, rolled the windows down and rocked out. We drove away from the past and into the future with our heads held high and smiles on our faces. It was a side of my brother I had never seen before and I feel like it was a major event in our lives that only we could understand. It was a moving moment, for sure.

7. “Sweet Emotion” by Aersomith. Ok, stay with me. I know this song seems strange, but it will make sense momentarily. I can’t really say that I like this song and I wouldn’t say I’m an Aerosmith fan. I used to be a singer in a local Chicago band called Ruckus. This was actually the first band I was in. I learned a lot with those guys and we had some great times together. I was the last singer to come in after a long line of talented men and women, so the band’s song list was pretty set. Of course they let me choose a few songs of my own. Singing with Ruckus was a wonderful opportunity that I will always be grateful for. They believed in me and made me a member of their family. That being said, I was looking for another band to work with where we would perform more modern songs. I was planning to be in two bands at the same time. I started looking at ads on craigslist to find a band looking for a singer. I came across an ad that looked interesting and set up an audition. Over the phone, I agreed on audition songs with some guy named, Karl. He didn’t sound too creepy so I decided to meet him. I drove about an hour from my house to a stranger’s house to audition. To be honest, I didn’t really care if they liked me or not, because I was already in a band. I met the guys and we got set up in the “band room.” The first song we performed together was…wait for it…”Sweet Emotion.” I was stunned and pleased at how good these guys were. After a few more songs, they offered me the job. So many little details had to come together to get me to that audition to meet my future husband. If you have time someday I’ll tell you the whole story. It’s nearly magical. (As a point of interest, that audition was recorded and I can be heard laughing and joking with Steve, my husband. Pretty cool to have that.)

8. “The Longest Time” by Billy Joel. Anyone who has known me for more than 10 minutes knows that Billy Joel is my all-time favorite musician. I have never wavered in my choice, even through New Kids on the Block, Madonna and N’Sync. When I was a little kid I suppose I knew who Billy Joel was because my Mom or Dad probably listened to him a bit. When I was about 9 years old, again I was watching MTV and saw the video for, “The Longest Time.” It was entertaining enough for a kid to watch, but the part that I loved was at the end of the video when Mark Goodman or Nina Blackwood told me that Billy Joel sang all of the parts himself. What??!! For some reason, I thought that was the coolest thing ever. I had never heard of someone recording multiple vocal tracks. I didn’t think that was allowed. I assumed that Billy Joel had figured this out himself and was creating something brand new. I had to hear everything else this man sang. My Mom was joining Columbia House, if you remember that old mail-order music service, and she allowed my brother and me to choose a cassette or two. Here was my big chance to really dig into some Billy Joel. I picked “Innocent Man” and “Cold Spring Harbor.” I loved all of it. Kinda weird for a little kid, but I didn’t know that. I own every album on cassette and CD and I probably know those songs better than Billy does. His songbook has been the accompanying soundtrack to my life. Certain songs remind me of a time in my life or a certain event. I’m sure most people feel that way about an artist. When I visited New York, I carried around “Nylon Curtain” just in case I ran into Billy. I was hoping he would sign my CD. I never ran into him. I’m not even sure what I’d say to him, as he’s probably heard it all before. I hope I get the opportunity to meet him someday. “The Longest Time” is not my favorite song by Billy Joel, but it always reminds me of how I came to love his music. I’m still impressed that he did all of the vocals. In older brother style, Paul later told me that all artists do that, so that was nothing special. Way to poop on the magic, Paul. That’s okay; I still think it’s cool.

9. “Then” by Brad Paisley. Okay, it’s gonna get mushy here, so if that sort of stuff offends you, please proceed to number 10. If you’re still with me, I thank you. I’m not a country girl in the least bit. I can appreciate the country music world is full of talented musicians and songwriters, but it’s just not a style I can get with. My husband, then boyfriend, has a much higher tolerance for country. If there’s cool guitar playing, he’ll listen. Somehow he came across a special with Brad Paisley and heard the song “Then.” I was scheduled to have major surgery a few years ago, before we were married, and I was pretty scared. In fact, it was the scariest event in my life. I wasn’t sure if Steve was worried or concerned, as he is very good at keeping his feelings in-check. The night before my surgery, Steve told me that he wanted me to hear this great song he had heard. He plays a lot of cool songs for me, so I wasn’t expecting anything like “Then.” I was pleasantly surprised to hear Braid Paisley perform the song, followed by Steve telling me that’s how he feels about me. Basically, during the song Brad talks about meeting his wife. It’s kind of a timeline of their relationship. Paisley talks about events and ends each verse with, “I thought I loved you then,” meaning that he keeps loving her more and more as the years go by. This song was the first dance at our wedding a year after that surgery. It was the only country song played all night. I asked Steve to fade out the guitar solo, so we wouldn’t be dancing so long. As a guitar player, he found that idea to be rather disgusting. Being a non-dancer, he now regrets having to awkwardly sway back and forth during that long guitar solo. (I danced around him.) In any case, I still get choked up when I hear that song and it reminds me of how much Steve loves me. It’s a song that is near and dear to my heart.

10. “Wonderwall by Oasis. This is a tricky one. Although I do really like the Oasis version, it’s really my band’s (Puddin’ Head) version that’s special to me. This one is pretty simple. When the band first started playing this song, I always sang it with Steve in mind. “There are many things that I would like to say to you, but I don’t know how,” and “Maybe you’re gonna be the one that saves me” are lines that are important to me. We eventually recorded this song and Steve and I had a great time recording it together. When we eventually got married a couple years later, I walked down the aisle to Puddin’ Head’s version of “Wonderwall.” It was a pretty cool experience to be hearing my own voice singing to me at my wedding. You can probably guess that this song changed my life, for it was the start of my wedding and married life. It’s still a song I love to sing and it’s even more special now.

Thanks for sticking with this blog. It did get rather long, didn’t it? I invite you to think about the songs that changed your life. I’ll bet you’ll remember happy and life-changing moments that will inspire you to listen to those songs again with fresh ears. I’ll bet you’ve changed and learned a lot since you first heard those songs. Are you a better person? Are you a different person? I’d like to think that I am both. Music and songs are experiences that are so individual, but universal as well. Have you ever been to a concert where the entire crowd was singing along? It’s pretty powerful. Why not get that CD Walkman out of the closet and drop in your favorite CD? Put on your headphones, close your eyes and really listen. What do you hear?

I Do…or Something. Wait, What?

monkey wedding

When I was a kid, no one knew what divorce was.  Well, some people did.  My parents did, in fact.  I was rather oblivious to the concept that I am now well aware of.  I promised myself that when I got married, it would be forever.  One time.  Guess what happened?  Yep, divorce.  Half of my marriages have ended in divorce.  That sounds horrible, but I’ve only been married twice.  Why is it so hard to stay together?  What is everyone’s problem?  Geez!  I know what my problems were, but I’m not sure what everyone else is going through.  Before I was divorced I assumed those divorced people were stupid.  They did a dumb thing and blindly married someone they didn’t even love!  Ok, I was wrong.  Sometimes the journey of life takes twists, and we don’t have the proper footwear.

                I met my first husband in high school.  I was 15, he was 18.  Was it love at first sight? Not really. He was the first boy who paid attention to me. Oh, and he made me laugh.  A lot.  I watched him stress about getting into college while I was blissfully enjoying my sophomore year of high school.  It never occurred to me that he would go away.  But go away, he did.  Oh boy, his departure was the stuff Lifetime movies are made of.  Hugging, crying, carrying on…I was a wreck for weeks.  My boyfriend was off to college…for 11 years!  Well, of course we saw each other every few months and for Christmas and sometimes Spring Break.  As his life was going in the right direction, mine was going in the wrong direction.  I was pretty convinced when I was 19 that I was going to marry this guy, so I just had to wait it out. I got through high school and stumbled my way through a couple years of college.

                One day I got tired of being alone and found a jerk of a boy to hang around with.  I broke up with my long-time guy to have someone local.  Luckily, he treated me like garbage and I got out of that situation in a few months. That’s another story for another day.  My long-time beau and I remained friends and when he came home to visit, it was like we were still a couple.  When things got financially horrifying for me, my guy would sometimes come to the rescue as I sobbed to him over a pay phone. (Yep, they still had those then.) He would order me a pizza from another state and send me a little cash to tide me over.

                When he would come home, usually for a weekend or week, it was like a vacation.  We were constantly out eating at nice restaurants, going to concerts and shopping.  Life was wonderful when he was around, but then he would leave again.  After a few years of dating other people, some more serious and meaningful than others, we decided to officially get back together.  Three of his graduations later, he was a doctor and I was a college drop out.  Great news! He’s coming home for good!

                It was exciting at first to set up a new place to live in together and get to know each other again.  We knew a marriage was coming, but it was really up to him when.  The big day arrived and we were engaged. He came up with a nice idea to propose and presented me with a beautiful ring. First red flag, we just got engaged moments ago, yet we have nothing to talk about for the rest of dinner.  Hmmm…interesting. Never mind.

 Planning a wedding can be really fun, especially when you’re not worried about money. I busied myself picking flowers and tablecloths and sampling foods. Our wedding day happened during a massive snow storm. Like planes sliding off the runway storm.  After the ceremony and right as we were arriving to the reception, we got into a big fight.  He said something exceptionally stupid to me after he told our limo driver to drop us off a block away from the reception in a blizzard.  I told him to never speak to me that way again and blah, blah, blah…Not a good start.

                Ok, we’re married now! This is gonna be great, right?  Not so much.  He had a good job and I stayed home all day.  All I had to do was make dinner.  After awhile, I didn’t even do that anymore.  I was so bored and I had no direction or motivation.  He would leave early to get to work and come home in the evening only to ignore me.  He would sit and read the newspaper, (yeah, a newspaper!) and then fall asleep.  Every single night.  Paper. Sleep.  I would wake him up to tell him to go to bed.  I was miserable.  I told my husband that I wanted something more.  I wanted to talk with him and go out and explore the world.  I told him that when I would watch romantic movies I felt sad that I didn’t have a love like that.  He was quick to tell me that the romantic love depicted in movies just wasn’t real.  I was crazy to think that every day would be wonderful.  It would be nice if any day was wonderful, though. Yeah, he really said crazy.

                Well, as you can imagine, things went sour. We tried marriage counseling, but I was already checked out.  I think he was trying, but it was too late.  I’d like to add that he is a very good man and a very nice person.  I did love him for a long time.  I still miss him, but I couldn’t settle.  I didn’t need him to rescue me anymore and maybe that made him less appealing to me.

It’s interesting how fate works sometimes.  As my marriage was falling apart in an ugly fashion, I met the man of my dreams.  Being a little older and a little wiser, I entered into this marriage with my eyes open.  It just feels different and better.  Of course not every single day is filled with romance, but  a lot of days are.  I’m not interested in anyone else.  No one has turned my head at all.  I’m not sure who has a perfect relationship, but this one’s pretty good and it’s certainly worth working on.

                Why am I telling you all of this?  Well, I was wondering why some people stay together and why some people part ways.  Sometimes when I’m thinking of a new idea to write about, I’ll take a poll on Facebook.  I asked, “What is a tool to a successful marriage?” I was surprised that I received many replies. Here’s the funny thing: most people, I’d say about 90% of people replied with, “Communication.” Ok, that’s not funny by itself, but what was funny is that most people replied without taking the time to read what anyone else had written.  We all think communication is important, but maybe we don’t know how to do it.  A big part of communication is listening.  Another big part is paying attention.  I think part of the reason my first marriage failed is that I wasn’t communicating well with myself.  I wasn’t paying attention to the signs at all.  I had major doubts a week before my wedding, but ignored them.  I wasn’t happy with how our life was proceeding, but I ignored it.  I didn’t allow myself to be heard and my first husband wasn’t offering any information either, until it was too late.

                Maybe you’ve heard it said that in order to be in love with someone else, you have to first love yourself.  Part of loving yourself is listening to your own thoughts and acknowledging them.  When appropriate, why not share those thoughts with your loved one?  I tell my husband all the time that we’re a team and we’re in this life together. That means good times and bad times.  We have also established that neither one of us is a mind-reader. I still feel butterflies in my stomach when I know I’m going to see him.  He’s the first person I think of when I wake up and the last person I think of before I go to sleep.  When I watch those romantic movies now, my eyes are full of tears because I know exactly how they feel.  Who knows, maybe someone will make a movie about me.  I’m sure they’d get Kate Winslet to play me.