Friday, September 28, 2012

Turning 60--September, Steven Curtis Chapman Concert

Here I go, cheating again!

My special event for September actually happened on August 30th. Oh well, I am not in charge of a musician’s schedule!

Steven Curtis Chapman in concert
at Kuss Auditorium in Springfield.
I love music; I love Jesus and I love Christian music. Good Christian music. The most important thing in any genre is the message, not the method; but I want to listen to quality.

After growing up in the traditional vein of hymns and sacred music, at some point in my life I wanted to have more applicable music in my home and in my car during the week. This is what I wanted my mind and the minds of my children to be filled with daily. This wasn’t necessarily what I felt needed to be sung in church on Sunday mornings, but it was the stuff of everyday life.

I was attracted to several different artists; some more so than others, as in any thing. I don’t know who first introduced me to Steven Curtis Chapman, but I liked his music. I could sing with this stuff, and I did do one of those memorable pieces on “talent night” at church—Lord of the Jungle. I hope everyone has forgotten that one.

I bought many of his albums and played them over and over. They are on the iPod and iPad today. They are relavent to everyday life. His web site calls it Christian Rock, but I always felt there was an acoustical element, making it more “folk.” (That’s what I told my husband anyway!) The songs appeal to old and young. He wrote and recorded I Will Be Here, a standard at many weddings; my daughter’s being among them.

I had seen him at UD during December 1996. I had a 13-year-old who liked his music, and I was about 5 weeks out from sinus reconstruction surgery. Although I LOVED this music, I thought my head was going to explode. It was a wonderful evening with friends, youth and adults alike, and a fond memory for always.

When I saw he was coming to Springfield, his wife’s hometown, I knew I wanted to be there. I have been listening to this guy for a LONG time! So hubby bought me the tickets for my birthday.

SCC has always looked much younger than he was, so much that you wanted to hate him but could not. He is 9 years younger than I. Last time I saw him, he was 34 and looked like he was finally in his twenties. This time, he’s looking his age. His family has been through tragedy (you can google this) and it shows.

My poor husband had to see the rockin’ side of me, and I am not sure what he thought of that. When SCC brought out the banjo for Heaven in the Real World, I wasn’t sure what arrangement we were going with. It was new, but it was interesting! By the second half, we were “saddling up our horses, we had a trail to blaze” singing The Great Adventure. Yes, he sang I Will Be Here; even Jerry knew that one.

We sang worship pieces that I knew from praise team and other sources and ended up with Dive. It was a blend of high-energy, yet resolving to the seriousness of faith and importance of the place God has in our lives. It was worship.

This was special. I don’t do concerts all the time and I don’t do Christian concerts all the time. I hadn’t seen Steven Curtis Chapman in years, and there’s really only one more Christian artist definitely on my bucket list.

Michael W. Smith.

All songs are copyrighted Steven Curtis Chapman.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Letters To My Teenage Self

This blog was inspired by my nephew's wife, who also blogs. Her friend asked her blogging friends to write letters to themselves as teenagers. I was so impressed by what Stacie wrote; although she took a completely different approach to this, from another generation, that I wanted to attempt this also.

Dear 13-year-old Denise,

You are in the 8th grade. It is 1966. Last year you were a good student and were in the highest academic homeroom. You decided you did not want to be a nerd, and you let your grades slip. This year you are in a good class with a good teacher, but not in the group you were in last year. However, you are learning to get along with those who are not in the highest academic group, and gaining skills that you will need later in life.

You had a boyfriend in the 7th grade, and he broke up with you at the end of 7th grade. He will become a good man and you will be friendly with him all of your life, especially when the two of you are sitting in a car he is trying to sell you, and you are 8 ½ months pregnant, you feel like you need a crane to get in the car, and you can laugh about it!

But for now, you grieve this loss of relationship and the status it brought. You take up with his best friend (who also became a good man until his untimely death at age 25.) What do ya think you are doin’? It makes no sense, it isn’t right, but you want a boyfriend at any cost; and there is a part of you that wants to make someone “jealous,” as if that ever worked.

Your home life is stable and you make decent grades. You have good girlfriends and you babysit for extra money. You sew your own clothes. Your needs are met.

I wish I could tell you that you really have it made; that you have good friends and are well thought of, and you don't need a boyfriend all the time.

Dear 14-year-old Denise,

You make freshman cheerleading! Woohoo! There is status involved with that! You like it, you are with friends and you have an amazing football AND basketball team to cheer for. The football team you cheer for will be unbeaten and un-scored upon! The basketball team will win a regional tournament.

As a freshman, I didn't
smile much with these
braces. They were
awful at first!
You have a boyfriend who is an amazing running back for the football team. It is the perfect situation and you are thrilled. Then, you get braces; and he has the gall to tell you that you aren’t pretty anymore and he is not interested in this plethora of metal! No one thinks to tell you that he is acting immature and to move on. It hurt so badly. You don’t have another boyfriend until the end of the school year.

I did enjoy cheerleading.
This is my freshman uniform.
You get your ONLY D from the Algebra teacher, who in today’s world, would not be teaching because of his profanity and the way he treated students. But you earn that D, and you don’t know what the heck is going on in Algebra! You sit out several weeks of basketball cheerleading until you can actually prove to the cheerleading advisor that your grades are improving. She is very lenient with you. You don’t have to sit out the entire 6 weeks.

At the end of the year, you make JV basketball cheerleading and the Concert choir for high school; so you are set for the new school year.

Dear 15-year-old Denise,

This is the most challenging year of your life. You are able to date this year and you have several boyfriends who are meaningful to you, in different ways. You expand your world to include new people, as the two junior high schools combined to become one of the largest schools in the area.

In January, you meet a young man that changes your world. He is older and your relationship lasts only two and ½ months, but it is pivotal. He gets into trouble and in many peoples’ minds, you are guilty by association. He has the good sense not to drag you into his mess and he breaks up, but you are devastated. Several friends rally around you; but this is not easy. He leaves for the US Army and in the fall would ship out to Viet Nam.
The summer between sophomore
and junior years. Sitting on the porch.

You will never know why, really, but you do NOT make cheerleading for the following year. You know it is not about your ability, but you never know whether it was because you have that “guilt by association” thing, or there were other political-type things happening behind the scenes. This also devastated you.

But, you make the A Cappella choir and you have that to look forward to for the following year, as you always loved to sing!

At the end of this challenging year, I wish I could tell you that it will be alright. The pain will subside and you will move on to other relationships. Time will pass and people grow up and they have regrets too, but it all works out.

Dear 16-year-old Denise,

You are forever grateful for those friends, male and female, that gather around you and help to keep your mind off a certain person who is in boot camp this summer. This does not go away quickly. It is a fun summer and the school year starts out well, minus the cheerleading activities that you had the year before. Actually, you don’t miss making the banners for the hallways at all; but you miss cheering.

Christmas of my junior year
The teacher that I would
eventually marry
In November, you meet a young man that you thought you would marry. This hit you fast, and your relationship is so embraced by your families that it just melds. Actually, there is more drama than there should have been; but you both are immature.

{At the same time, your future husband, at the ripe old age of twenty-two, begins teaching in your high school. You have a yearbook, but that’s all you know about this guy. Meanwhile, he is teaching some of your classmates.}

Overall, this year goes well—there was a breakup and a reuniting and by the end of the year, he is graduating high school and you become “pre-engaged.”  In May your Grandpa dies and you are sad, but he had lived until 79. The summer is filled with dreams as you turn 17.

Dear 17-year-old Denise,

My high school graduation.
Your senior year is a challenge. Starting out “normal” as you plan for marriage in a couple of years; things change rapidly as the boyfriend breaks up with you immediately after homecoming. You are devastated again! (Although you are angry at first, you have had a wonderful relationship with him for most of your life.) While he moves on, you don’t know what to do next! You date some guys and have good relationships, but there was no one else for a long time. You don’t let anyone get close to you.

While you have activities, church youth group, choir and editing the school newspaper, you sink into a depression. After the New Year, your parents get professional help for you, and that seems to be helping; when your counselor is killed in a terrible traffic accident.  You decide not to pursue another counseling relationship. Your parents are the only ones who understand what is going on in your life. You have friends, but you keep them at a distance.  When everyone else parties on the night of graduation, you are home alone.

The summer between high school and college is fun. There is a crowd who runs around together, realizing that all too soon it will break up and everyone will go their own ways. You work, and you enroll in four classes of the college you plan to attend. This helps the transition to college.

I wish I could tell you to enjoy life more and not be in such a hurry to finish college, but you would not listen. You wanted this part of life to be over so you could move on to another chapter.

Dear 18-year-old Denise,

You attend the local university and life pretty much goes on as before. Although you meet some new people, you gravitate toward those that went to high school with you—at first. During the spring of your freshman year, you pledge a sorority, which opens up new opportunities to meet people that would become a part of your life—your sorority sisters, their friends and families, and others of the Greek organizations on campus. You date casually, but there is never a serious relationship.

At the end of your first year of college, you lose your grandmother. She was younger than her husband had been, and this is more of a loss for you.

I wish I could tell you that it's OK to miss your Grandma. 

Dear 19-year-old Denise,

Your second and middle year of college (because you finished in three years) you become a person that is less what you had been, and more of what you are becoming. This is a mental, emotional and philanthropic transformation. You serve—whether it is with the sorority, or in your academic involvement as a social worker. You attend your church, although there wasn’t a “college group” at church, you help with Bible school and church functions.

This is the first time it is more about others and less about you. It is a time of realization that you knew what you wanted to do, and might be doing it alone. You eventually earned your BA, but not your Mrs.

I wish I could tell you that you could have been more patient, listened to God more, and found His will for your life instead of just plugging away until the next thing.

You never felt complete; and indeed, you were not. That did not happen until you were twenty five years old and you accepted Jesus as your Savior. But you were developing strength for the things that would happen to you in the next few years, and for the rest of your life.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Women in the Wild

When we took our trip to Alaska, we also went into Canada into the Yukon Territory. What I am going to share will not be footnoted, as it comes from multiple sources such as our tour guides.Any of this can be googled and can be expanded upon. My thoughts and responses are my own!

The "Gay Ninties" in the 1800s were not so gay. There was a deep economic depression in the United States, and when gold was discovered in the Yukon Territory in 1896, thousands of men thought "This is my chance!" and like all men, they wanted a good life for their families and a future for their children. They didn't know what they were getting into! They had NO IDEA of the harshness of the northern climate!

There is some disagreement of who actually discovered the gold, and for my discussion we really don't care; the point is there was a "Rush" and it was way more than they bargained for. Some women went too! I simply can't imagine.

This is the most recognizable photo
of the prospectors climbing the
Chilkoot Pass. Some version of
it is displayed in every hotel.
The big steam ships took passengers from Seattle to Dyea or Skagway, Alaska, and from there the prospectors took one of two routes north. One was called the (Dyea) Chilkoot Pass and it was shorter, but brutally steeper. The other was the (Skagway) White Horse Pass, longer, but "gentler" in terms of incline. (There was nothing gentle about any of it!)

We took the White Horse Pass Railroad so we were able to get a firsthand view of the original path. The first prospectors brought horses burdened down with supplies, and the horses....died. This was called Dead Horse Valley or Creek or whatever. Horses were not made to endure this type of journey. However, it was mandated by the Canadian government that all prospectors bring a year's supply of their needs which amounted to one ton. So they began using mules.

I took this picture of the White Horse
Pass Trail. The shadow is in the way;
but can you see the yellow-green
pathway along the side of the
mountain above it?
If they made it up one of these passes, they had to then BUILD BOATS to carry their goods downstream on the Yukon River to the Klondike River. There were horrible rapids on this river and many boats were torn assunder and lives lost. It was then decreed that each vessel must have a real "captain" steering the boat.

Dawson City, Yukon was where most of the gold was found. Actually by the time these thousands of men (and some women) reached the "mother lode," it was gone--at least in the sense of the technology that they had at the time. Keep in mind, they are STILL MINING GOLD there! It's just different today; and no one is losing their lives over these methods. But in the late 1800s, they did not have the means to reach the gold.

What struck me, as a woman, was the absolute lonliness of, well, really both genders as they found themselves in these wilds! Now, I don't have to get graphic; but indeed some of the women helped the men not to be so lonely. I heard the term "mining the miners" more than a few times. But, that's not what impressed me the most. ALL the women had to band together to keep themselves from experiencing the natural isolation they would have in this situation. Bottom line, it didn't matter what you did for a "living." Everyone was in survival mode! You just HAD to be friends, or you had no one.

Our "women friends" are important to us today, it's a major part of our lives. Most of us just NEED it! But we are never really isolated: we have all these methods of connecting, and if we want to be alone, we can choose that too. But we have nothing to compare with what these women experienced as they followed their men, followed a dream, or whatever their motivation was! There are some books written about these subjects. "Women of the Klondike," "Children of the Klondike," and "I Married the Klondike."

I believe I will have to buy some e-books this winter......

Saturday, September 8, 2012

My Fitness Journey: When You Feel Like Crap!

How do you "keep on keepin' on" when you feel like crap?


Forget the "Just One More" for awhile, and just do something!

On our vacation, I caught a mean upper respiratory infection from some fellow traveler on our motor coach. God love 'em, they paid all this money for this trip and they were going to go, hacking all the way, infecting all the other persons on the tour. We started out with about 3, and I thought they had chronic conditions; so I was not worried about "catching" something.

By the end of the 10 days, about 8-10 of the 45 people on our bus were going at it. Would I be spared?
Please God.....

For reasons I will never know, I was not spared. I probably caught it because I was worn out from the trip. On the way home, I started hacking on the airplanes; we had three flights and heaven only knows how many people on those three planes were infected by ME!

We got home on Friday, I saw the nurse practioner on Monday. She started me on an antibiotic immediately before we were using the "B" word or worse, the "P" word. It never got that bad.

The first week, I just concentrated on healing. I went to work and came home. Jerry had popped for a concert (more on that in another blog) and I was able to get myself up for that with a nice long nap in the afternoon.

I didn't even THINK about the gym!

Although normally, I don't exercise on Sundays, by Sunday I felt like I could go ride the recumbent cycles. How bad could that be? Plug in my earplugs and listen to my music.

Monday was Labor Day and I put in a full workout, lifting weights,and then cycling for 30 minutes at target heart rate. Tuesday I had a light day and Wednesday worked harder. Thursday again was light, and I worked hard Friday and THEN went to the grocery. By Friday night I was pooped.

Friday night/Saturday morning I started feeling pretty crappy. Oh no, and this was the day I was going to add Bootcamp. There was no freaking way. I didn't even want to move. But I knew I needed to get this going again; even if I need another course of antibiotics! I need to keep moving!

So I went and worked that one machine for my abdomen, as we are now approaching "crunch" (pun intended) time for getting into a mother-of-the-groom dress. I can get it on; but I would like the pictures to portray less of an abdomen on my person. Then I "leisurely" rode the bike. This means I didn't care about my heart rate. I just moved.

Weight-wise, I have stagnated. I am the same place I was before our trip and I am pleased with that, but it's time, in my mind anyway, to start seeing the scale moving again. I know, and I am repeating myself, when I say I keep doing what I am doing and it will happen eventually; but I am impatient.

And I feel like crap!

So I will keep going, even if it means "leisurely" riding the bike. I could take a nice walk in the neighborhood; but I walked so much on our trip I don't want to talk about walks in the neighborhood, or anyplace else for that matter. What's going on the next couple of days? Church, a meeting with the florist, a community meeting, choir practice, work, and who knows what will happen unexpectedly, but I will

Until I feel better.

Then we can talk again about "Just One More."

Sunday, September 2, 2012

My Fitness Journey: Maintaining on Vacation

I WIN! I absolutely WIN!

I weighed the same when I got home as I did the day before leaving on my trip to Alaska!

How did I do it? Darned if I know. But I did have some plans and thoughts.

An old fashioned breakfast.
This was a big meal!
1. I planned to use the Fitness Center on the cruise. I went down there and immediately they tried to sell me all kinds of things I didn't need. Just give me the treadmill or bicycle! So, I decided that since the ship was 900 feet long and my room was on the very end and the dining room was on the other end, that was at least 5400 feet a day just to go eat. That's a mile a day and that doesn't count the other walking!

2. I ate in the dining room most of the time. We usually ate a noon meal at the buffet, and I watched what I ate there; but eating in the dining room is definitely portion control. I liked that. I didn't keep track of what I ate, but I knew it was reasonable. The meals in the dining room were not huge.

3. There is something to be said for hauling a backpack around almost everywhere I went. After a few days, I lightened my load. I was carrying things around I didn't need to carry. On the other hand, I usually was also carrying an outer garment of some kind. We had FABULOUS weather!

4. After the cruise we began our land tour. Indeed, we spent much of the time on a bus or train, but we still had plenty of walking to do. One night my ankles were swollen as they were when I was pregnant! This was not a sedentary tour.

5. I watched what I ate. I know what to do and what not to do.

6. We didn't always eat three meals a day. We didn't always eat what you think you are going to eat at any given time. This is vacation, right? Yeah. No breakfast, and a home-baked rasberry tart mid-morning at a rest stop? Works for me!

One key factor is remembering that since I have been exercising, that my body is naturally burning up more calories. I am thankful for that. I walked and carried a load, but I did not really do what we think of as exercise. We weren't at any motel long enough to find a fitness center!

The first day back I did go to the gym and do some weight-lifting; just for the strength aspect of it. I also came home from the trip with an upper respiratory infection and that keeps me from wanting to eat. I don't feel well, but I guess it couldn't have come at a better time!

It is now time to get back on the wagon, and lose some more weight between now and mid-October. Then, I will probably maintain until after the holidays and the wedding. I will consider that victory also.

P.S. This URI really hit me (is that something that changes as we age?) and about all I could do was work and come home and collapse. I got a Z-pack and that affects my appetite, but I DID eat. I had cravings for weird things. I did not keep track except mentally, and I did not gain this week. It is now one week later and I am on the mend. It is time to get back into the swing of things!