Oh My Hair!

Great Falls is a windy city.  When the wind is not blowing, one is liable to tip over from not having that constant head wind holding them up straight.  Last summer was one of the worst fire seasons in the state of Montana.  During the span of two months, the wind barely blew.  It was hot, smokey, and most of us had to stay indoors most of the summer.  I have never missed wind as much as I did during the summer of 2017.

We do not live very far from an oil refinery.  Most days it smells like sulfur, oil, and all kinds of offensive things.  Thanks to the wind, the smell does not carry over to our neighborhood most days.  The wastewater treatment plant is a little further than the refinery but on days when the wind doesn’t blow and they are cleaning up some extra nasty waste, the smell makes its way over.  Eww.

d928fafd2a2872bc10e918623c9a3ae5
Lipglossip

When I was young, I used to complain about the wind because it messed up my hair.  Thank goodness for Aqua Net.  I used loads of it.  We went on a picnic the other day and with each bite of food I took, I about ate a mouthful of hair too.  It’s easy to complain about wind but most of the time I think about what it does for us.

Wind is a clean source of power, it cleans the air and makes the sky look bluer, it helps ships to sail, gives birds a break as they fly in place, flies kites, allows us to paraglide and surf, makes leaves rustle on trees, and helps us to cool off after a hot, summer day.

The-Shipping-Industry-Could-Re-evaluate-the-Benefits-of-Wind-Power-2
Softpedia News

I don’t use Aqua Net anymore but I am also older and I accept that a perfect hair day is a rarity.  I am thankful for tumbleweeds blowing across the prairie in the wind, hair in my face as we drive down the highway, and swaying trees so long as we do not blow away to Oz like Dorothy and Toto.  Next time my hairstyle is ruined by the wind or I end up with dirt it my eye I will think about the positive side of wind.

Wizard-of-Oz-tornado
AMERICAblog

 

 

 

All In!

Several years ago, my husband started playing Texas Hold ‘Em.  We played poker in the past but it was always Five Card Draw and we gambled with pinto beans or pennies.  He started watching the WSOP and playing small wager cash games.  He would come home and talk about some of the hands and most of it went over my head.

When poker was on television and I happened to be sitting on the couch with a book in front of me, I would occasionally look up to see who Dave was talking about.  In 2011 Pius Heinz was the WSOP Main Event winner.  I started paying attention to the players that year because I enjoyed seeing Ben Lamb stare at the other players in the hands.

World Series of Poker
The Denver Post

Christian had no interest in poker whatsoever but for some reason, he liked the way Pius Heinz dressed.  One day, he even put on one of his hoodies and imitated him.  That is the closest Christian ever came to being interested in poker.  When Dave and Drew started talking about poker hands, Christian would always say “Mom, Dad and Drew are being boring again.”

Dave has been fortunate enough to play in some of the smaller events during the WSOP.  Over the years, I have learned about several of the players.  When Dave told me he played a hand with Antonio Esfandiari I was very excited for him.  In 2016, Dave made it to day two of his event and had his picture taken with Fedor Holz.  I was thrilled for him, especially since I had watched Fedor play against Phil Helmuth on television recently.  I remember watching this because Phil was becoming aggravated and started repeating that he was “on a rampage.”  Fedor told Phil he reminded him of an angry Bob Ross.  If you are familiar with Phil Helmuth’s reputation of being a Poker Brat, you would find a lot of humor in it also.

IMG_1562
Dave with Fedor Holz, who happened to win over $18 million that summer

As much as I have tried to distance myself from poker, I have been learning to play at home.  Since I am starting to understand the rules of Hold ‘Em and some of the strategies, I watched some of the Super High Roller Bowl, a $300,000 entry tournament, with Dave and enjoyed it.  Dave asked me if I was ready to play in one of the monthly tournaments he plays in, and I replied “No way.”  I do not understand the rules and strategies enough to feel comfortable playing in organized events.  I would rather start by playing in cash games with friends and family.

Dave dreams of playing in the WSOP Main Event one day and I really do hope it becomes true.  Even if it doesn’t, not many of us can say that we met Ray Romano while playing at a cash game at the Venetian or that we played hands with poker champions.  I will continue learning and hopefully one day I will play in a tournament of my own.

IMG_0724

 

Could Have Been Me

Today’s song of the day is Could Have Been Me by The Struts.  When I listened to the lyrics, I wanted to jump up and shout the lyrics along with the song.

Don’t wanna live as an untold story
Rather go out in a blaze of glory
I can’t hear you, I don’t fear you
I’ll live now cause the bad die last
Dodging bullets with your broken past
I can’t hear you, I don’t fear you now

Wrapped in your regret
What a waste of blood and sweat
Oh oh oh

I wanna taste love and pain
Wanna feel pride and shame
I don’t wanna take my time
Don’t wanna waste one line
I wanna live better days
Never look back and say
Could have been me
It could have been me
Yeah

Don’t wanna live as an unsung melody
I’d rather listen to the silence telling me
I can’t hear you, I won’t fear you
Don’t wanna wake up on Monday morning
The thought of work’s getting my skin crawling
I can’t fear you, I don’t hear you now

We all have songs that speak to our hearts.  This particular song has since the first time I heard it.  I think that three of the worst phrases along with “I can’t” are phrases that include the words coulda, woulda and shoulda.  I use these words far more than I ought to and I want to say them less.  If I live to be an old woman, I want to look back and know that I lived the best days I could in service and love.  I hope to be able to look back and know that I changed the world in some way, even by encouraging and uplifting others.

We all have a song in our hearts and many of us are afraid to live out the melodies that God places in us.  Fear can only keep us from living with purpose and without regret if we allow it to.  Our pasts cannot keep us from having an excellent finish.  When we refuse to allow fear and mistakes of our past to keep us from pursuing our dreams and showing up each and every day as our best selves, then we will not have to say “It could have been me.”

images-3
WordPress.com

Goodbye Summer

Fall is by far my favorite season.  It brings golden leaves, bluer skies, and cool breezes.  After a summer dominated by smoke and fire, it was a great relief to see two days of rain and cooler temperatures.  I looked out the window and noticed something different along with seeing a blue sky – the trees were swaying.  It took me a while to realize that we barely had any wind since the heat and drought set in late June.  The wind usually blows so much that we practically fall over when it doesn’t, so welcome back wind!  I will try not to complain when you blow my hair all over the place!

With summer coming to a close and fall approaching fast, I wanted to share the highlights of my summer in photos.  I went for a visit to Lewistown in June and enjoyed taking Mom to dinner at the local Mexican restaurant.  I enjoyed several walks with my family, before the smoke rolled in, on the River’s Edge Trail.  My husband and I celebrated our 25th anniversary by taking a trip to San Jose and San Francisco.  We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge on foot and it was exhilarating.  Finally, in August I was thrilled to see Drew in a tuxedo for the first time for my niece’s wedding.

I admit that the smokey skies made their way into my spirit.  I forgot that the smallest of gifts are the most important:  a mourning dove perched outside of the dining room window, the chatter of chickadees on my way back to the office, golden spots of sun on the floor, ceramic pigs strategically placed around my house by my neighbor for me to find, time with my husband on the couch watching Suits, and a smile from a coworker.

IMG_2036

I came across the quote in the picture above during one of my morning meditation sessions.  When we live in our heads, our lives can pass by unnoticed.  We miss the bird placed on a branch in the perfect place for us to look up and see him.  We miss the cloud in the sky shaped like a heart or the uplifting lyrics of a song.  It’s better to let our fearful thoughts pass by like clouds in the sky than to end up underneath them for months, even years.  Remember the cartoons when a character had a raining cloud over his head wherever he went?  That is exactly what it is like to live in our heads.  This is something I am guilty of and I have realized that life is far too precious to go by unnoticed for even a moment.

Next month will be three years since Christian passed away.  The turning leaves take me back to the months before his passing and it can be very painful – like it just happened.  As the day approaches I want to see the world as I would want Christian to see it – a miracle in process, given to us by a God who loves us.

 

My Lenten Journey

As a child, I remember the purple banners hanging up in the church in the weeks before Easter and people giving up bad habits for Lent.  I would watch Jesus of Nazareth every year without fully comprehending what was unfolding on the screen.  I squirmed as Jesus was whipped and nailed to the cross.  As I became older, I had a difficult time with the violence and stopped watching movies based on His crucifixion.  Today, my devotionals have led me to the crucifixion in God’s Word and what it means in my life.  Admittedly, I become emotional when I read of His grief leading up to His arrest, the flogging and how the soldiers cast lots over His garments.  It took the loss of my oldest son to fully comprehend the impact of the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord on our lives today.

Easter
Ghana Business News

Jesus died so we could live.  He took the guilt and sin of the world upon His shoulders because He loved us deeply and so we can enjoy eternal life with Him after we die.  Until recently, I didn’t fully know the power and significance of His resurrection because I have been stuck on the crucifixion – not only His but my own.  I have focused on the negative, on my mistakes and my past.  I have resisted healing from my loss out of fear of forgetting Christian – the sound of his voice, his strength, kindness and how he made me laugh.

lewistown-day-fair_1438
Christian at the Lewistown Fair

I began my Lenten journey with a booklet with a dragonfly on the front.  It stated Be Ye Transformed on the front.  I have learned that Lent isn’t just a waiting period from Ash Wednesday to Easter.  It is a period of metamorphosis – of letting go of negativity and false beliefs so we can receive the Truth and fully come to know the love of God.

“Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4)

IMG_2011

When we went to the cemetery to visit our boy today, it was sunny and we could hear western meadowlarks in the distance.  A chickadee, which happened to be one of Christian’s favorite birds, landed in the tree next to us and sang a bit.  As the sun warmed my face, I thought of Christian in heaven, with his favorite animals by his side, sitting in a mountain meadow surrounded by mountains surpassing any of ours in beauty and size.  I didn’t shed any tears until a woman drove up to visit a grave across from ours.  The age of the young man buried there isn’t far off from Christians.  I cried as I watched her approach the headstone and kneel in front of it.  “I know” I thought as we drove away, leaving her some privacy.

One of my favorite scriptures is John 10:10, when Jesus said “I came that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  What does it mean to have a full life?  It means greeting each day with gratitude and ending our “I AM” with powerful, positive words.  It means fully accepting and enjoying ourselves, opening our hearts to God’s abundance and never giving up.

New Roads Ahead

th-2

As 2016 came to a close, I made a choice to let go of the past and keep my sights on what lies ahead.  I decided to do my best to only look back if I needed to smile or laugh.  I always love the prospect of a new beginning, a fresh start to the new year.  I have never been one to make New Year’s resolutions; however, I believe in the power of intention and adopting new and empowering beliefs.

When we make a resolution for the new year or a new intention, what if we were to begin by believing that we are enough just as we are, that we are loved more than we could ever imagine or that we are worthy of the best things in life?

Rather than focus on the pain and difficulty of 2016, I want to take the lessons learned as well as the joyful memories.  I have learned the importance of gratitude, acceptance and compassion.  With each passing day without my son, I realize more and more how precious life is – a gift to be cherished and enjoyed.

The other morning, I came across the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi.  I decided that the words of this prayer would mirror my New Year’s resolution.

francis-of-assisi_lr-2-900This prayer is an antidote to depression because it helps us to look outside of ourselves and in doing so, we may realize that our problems are not as monumental as they seem.  It also reminds us that by serving and loving others, we become God’s hands and feet.

Thank you for reading my blog in 2016.  I hope to post more frequently and most of all I hope to bring a ray of sunshine to someone’s day.  I hope you had a wonderful New Years and wish you a prosperous 2017!

A Journey in Vinyl

I grew up in the age of vinyl.  My parents had 8 tracks and a player but I went straight for the vinyl.  I had my own little record player in my room.  I enjoyed listening to my Disney collection, Sesame Street Christmas, and 20 Power Hits albums.  My favorite songs off of the 20 Power Hits were Knock Three Times by Tony Orlando and Green Eyed Lady by Sugarloaf.  On my parent’s player downstairs, I listened to Creedence Clearwater Revival, Elton John and Wayne Newton.  I developed a crush on Wayne, as I listened to him and stared at his album cover.  This was before Bon Jovi came into the picture.

20091209111822-untitled-9091209
8-track-shack.com

I remember the first cassette I bought – Look What the Cat Dragged In by Poison.  I was fascinated because the cassette was clear.  My all time favorite cassette was Def Leppard’s Hysteria.  That was the first album I ever bought the day it came out.  I also bought it on vinyl and I still own it.  By the time CD’s entered the picture, I didn’t own a record player and honestly didn’t think much about vinyl.  They were never in the stores and the only time I ever saw them was at my parent’s house.  The first time my boys saw my parent’s records, they came upstairs exclaiming “Look Mom!  Giant CD’s!”

A few years ago, my husband bought me a Music Hall record player for Christmas.  He also surprised me with a few new vinyls to start out with.  I was ecstatic!

img_1108

A few weeks ago, a friend of my husband revealed that he had a large collection of vinyl and he wouldn’t mind lending me a few at a time to listen to.  He had worked in a record store when he was young and since vinyl could be bought for less than $5 during that time, he ended up with quite a collection.  These past few weeks have been a musical journey through time.

I will never forget listening to David Bowie’s Young Americans.  David Bowie’s voice filled every room in my house.  Among the albums I have been blessed to hear so far are The Fox by Elton John, Dire Straits, Face Value by Phil Collins, Flat as a Pancake by Head East, Loggins and Messina, Dr. Hook, Foghat, Foreigner, and my favorite so far – Donald Fagen’s The Nightfly.  He told me Donald Fagen was a huge part of Steely Dan but I didn’t recognize any of the songs.  As soon as the needle dropped, I was almost out of my seat as I.G.Y. started playing.  If you are scatching your head and wondering what song that is, I almost bet if you start playing it on You Tube or Spotify you’ll say “I have heard that song!”  I loved that album so much that I bought a used copy of it from Amazon.

maxresdefault
youtube.com

Nothing compares to the sound of vinyl.  There is a rawness and a richness that I don’t hear when I play songs from my iTunes library.  Sadly, new vinyl is expensive – some albums costing over $30, however it is more worth the cost when they come with a free digital download.

Even if vinyl is not available, it is well worth it to join other people on their musical journeys as they grew up.  You may be surprised to hear a song you loved growing up!