Transforming performing

Every day I put a fake smile on my face. I’m probably not fooling anyone.

I sometimes wonder if it’s the reason my children like to perform. When I hear them play or sing something changes in me. I smile, a real smile. They know where they can find the real me, the happy me.

It was always a dream of mine I am living through them.

I wanted to play and sing too. I wrote music then. I wrote the lyrics, played a simple tune on the piano, and sang along. It angered my dad. He told me to stop that banging on the piano and caterwauling. So I stopped forever.

I wasn’t allowed to make mistakes, you see. I was expected to be perfect the first time I tried something or not to try at all. I was an embarrassment if I was not perfect. Even my choir teacher told me that I sucked the first time I ran through a song for solo and ensemble. I wasn’t allowed to go. I wasn’t good enough.

The first time I ever sang a solo in front of people I was so terrified my voice choked out a little croak. I didn’t know then that it was normal to have stage fright. I thought I was horrible. No one ever encouraged me.

For a very long time, I gave up the dream. I didn’t audition for jazz choir or even choir in college although I wanted to more than anything. Music was a stifled passion. I was convinced I sucked which is so sad to me right now.

Watching my children perform opens the door to true joy. They are what I could’ve been. For awhile, I’m able to put the fake smile aside. My eyes shine and my heart smiles at them with everything I have. Their performing is transforming to me.

It is never too late to rekindle a dream.

Fortune cookie wisdom #10

Be prepared for a sudden, needed, and happy change in plans.

Wow, this one is nice!

I’m not sure when I received this fortune cookie, but I can tell you that this year has definitely been a year full of surprises and change…

In January, we sold our business but stayed on as employees. In February, we checked our first continent (outside of our own) off the bucket list. In two weeks, we will be moving into a new house.

A year ago today I would’ve never guessed that any of these things would be happening.

Last night I booked a trip to Las Vegas. This was unexpected a week ago. I’m very excited because I’ve never been to Nevada before. Plus my daughter Angel was selected as one of the best college singers in the US to compete there on a national level. This is a very big step forward in her future music career. We will have the opportunity to listen to the best singers in the United States compete and famous singers perform.

Pity the poor middle school choir students that I hear perform for solo and ensemble. I will never be the same.

Hopefully we will have time to check out some shows and spend some time poolside. I really don’t care about going to the casinos. I doubt my daughter could get in anyway. She is still a teenager.

I’ll be sure to share my best pictures and adventures in Sin City. But don’t expect it to be like The Hangover.

Snowstorm slacker and other partly cloudy stories

Today was supposed to be the day that we were going to get a monster snowstorm. The whole state of Wisconsin was supposed to shut down. Everyone wants a white Christmas, but no one wants to cancel plans, or at least admit that they want to. Instead a few inches are going to trickle in over the next two days. Here comes snowstorm slacker…How flaky!

I wish I could be paid a lot of money for being completely inaccurate. I hope the weather forecasters are wrong about the 15 to 30 below wind chills Christmas morning too!

I thought I would have to cancel my plans for tonight. I have a karaoke date at a dive bar with an older man.

Now before you start to judge, let me explain. I have a thing for older men…like way older men. I have developed friendships with men that are in their 80’s. I am particular with my older men…they have to be flirty, funny, eccentric, and smart. This year my older friend lost his wife of over 60 years. This will be his first Christmas without her. He shares our family passion of singing…maybe this would make his day a little brighter on the darkest day of the year.

Yesterday I called my older friend from work to see if our date was still on. He asked me if I bought him a Christmas gift yet. Then he said, “Honey, why don’t you come down to the bar right now and I’ll buy you a drink?” He makes me laugh. I spend more time with him than with my own dad.

Family, it is a difficult time of year for that…family…strained relationships, obligated gatherings, all creating more stress over the busiest time of year…with the expectation of hearts filled with peace and joy.

I think I am finally at peace with our Christmas plans. My mom wanted to get together at my house at noon on Christmas Eve, but I wanted to get together later in the day instead. Paul, Angel, and I will be singing at the late night service. It is much more than I want to squeeze into one day.

If I have everyone at my house at noon then I would have to plan two meals that day, clean up before and after, and all of the dishes…then have enough energy to deal with family and be ready to sing. Thankfully, Angel has to work Christmas Eve until 4 PM and I DIDN’T WANT TO CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS WITHOUT HER. Plus I didn’t want everyone to eat and ditch before church.

So, my brother Mark and his wife won’t be able to attend. I haven’t seen or talked to them since July anyway. They never come to my family’s events or even send a card…so…oh well. My uncle Rick is having a family party the day before anyway. We will see them then. Uncle Rick is too nice. Everyone is telling him what to do for his party, but no one wants to do the work of having the party.

I think that if you are hosting the party then you should have full control. You pick the time. You pick the menu. You get my drift. I don’t think Uncle Rick wants that though. He seems more content to have people tell him what to do than I am.

Things have been going well. Angel is home from college. It is so wonderful. I get home from work and the laundry is folded and the dishes are done. She asks if she can help with anything else. In the evenings she just wants to visit and talk. She is my only kid that makes me feel like I did something right as a mom.

Other than that, I have been trying to keep up with my exercise routine. I called my cousin last week and told him I would like to run a trail marathon with him next summer. I like to run twice a week and have one day a week where I do something other than running to work out. Last night, Paul and I went cross county skiing the first time this season. I have to tell you that I am not really good at sports. Trust me. Although I run marathons and do Half Irons and stuff like that, I am the world’s biggest klutz. I watched others glide by skating on skis while I managed to fall in the flat area. I have zero sense of balance. I would fail yoga 101. I keep trying though. I’m going to need all the balance I can get as I age.

I probably won’t have much time to talk until after Christmas. It already has been a busy week with Christmas parties and programs galore.

And so far we got zero inches of snow from snowstorm slacker..

Merry Christmas!!

Notes on music

Things went well this past weekend with my daughter Angel’s singing competition. She made it to the semi-finals. Although she didn’t make it to the final round, she was satisfied with her performance. Being satisfied with her performance was big. She is like her mother and tends to cut herself down if she makes mistakes. Plus earlier in the week she told me that she wasn’t doing it. She had tonsillitis and was not able to practice much.

We didn’t run into any of her previous stalkers on campus which was a plus. The biggest problem she encountered was on her way there. Her map wasn’t working on her phone and she got lost. I had to find her on my phone’s map and give her directions from where I thought she was which was no easy task in the dark in a strange town.

I checked into the hotel a long time before she arrived. I checked in at the same time as her singing professor whom I greeted in a very friendly manner. He didn’t recognize me and I was hoping that he didn’t think I was a lady of the night.

 

We ended up eating supper after 9 PM. It was great watching Angel perform. I think the visit will tide her over until she comes home at Thanksgiving. This is the longest she has been away from home and she was starting to feel homesick.

Then Paul and I returned back to the same college yesterday with Alex for a campus tour. His girlfriend also attended the tour. Alex and Baylee have been dating for almost a year and a half. They have been talking about going to the same college. We think that if they go to the same school they might get married someday.. Time will tell. I thought that Angel and Mitch would marry, but they broke up this year.

Alex wants to go to school for saxophone performance or possibly jazz studies. My oldest two children want to or are going to school for music performance and don’t want to be educators.. There will always be a spot open for them in my basement.. Although very talented, the likelihood of them both having a successful career as performers is slim. I always like it when people ask me what their backup plan is…My basement, that is their backup plan.

I remember when I bought Alex his saxophone. I bought the instrument used for half the price of a new one. New saxophones are pricey and I didn’t want it to end up collecting dust on the shelf after high school ended.

I went to a stranger’s house to purchase the instrument. She kept all of the receipts. She told me that her son lost interest in band. A few months after I purchased the instrument for my son, her son committed suicide. It was a strange feeling. Was the selling of his instrument a warning sign that he was losing interest in his hobbies? It was very sad. My son asked me afterwards if I bought the instrument from the boy that died. I did not lie.

I was afraid that my son would find playing the instrument distasteful after that, but he brought the instrument to life. Many years later, my son wants to take this instrument with him far into his future. I want the previous owners to know that this instrument that once belonged to their only son did not end up on a shelf somewhere. But maybe through it a small piece of his life is carrying on…

 

What lies behind closed doors

What lies behind the door for us? Do we ever truly know? I thought about these things while going with my son today on his first college tour.

I think that as we near the completion of high school, we are faced with a lot of choices…paths…doors perhaps..Some of the doors seem obvious to open..They might have our name written all over it. Other doors are there, but we think some of those doors are locked because we have been told that they are so we never try to open them.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to listen to some of the best college level vocalists in our state. A few were so talented they almost brought ME to tears. As I was watching my daughter and other singers perform, I could no longer tell what the judges of the competition were looking for. I couldn’t find any fault with the performers…maybe a few little mistakes were made that I noticed from some of the freshman.

At college level, they are so far beyond the middle school and high school solo and ensemble level. In high school, and middle school especially, I could hear every missed beat and note that was slightly off. Back in those days, my daughter asked me for singing advice. I have had no professional singing training, just raw talent. Now I ask my daughter for singing advice. I can no longer tell when she makes a mistake. It was like listening to a language that I no longer recognize as my own.

Then I realized with regret that the singing path door was always there for me to choose. I was just told that the door was locked, so I never tried opening it.

When I was a child, I always loved water. I begged to take swimming lessons beyond the few months of basic lessons. But I got piano lessons instead and hated it because I didn’t have a passion for it. This year I competed in my first Half Ironman. I really struggled with the swimming because of my basic skill level. It was frustrating for me to try hard but not be able to compete against someone who has been swimming 30 years longer than I have at a proficient or experienced level.

Maybe if I was allowed to take lessons when I was young…I have this strong desire to be the first person to cross the finish line. I wanted to be the person that qualified for the Boston marathon on my first marathon. I long for it, but it will never be. I wish I was satisfied being the small percentage of the population that completed a marathon. I have to fight against the urge to berate myself for not being that great. Perhaps I opened the door too late.

Some doors are there all along, but we never open them. Some doors remain hidden in plain sight. Some doors we open and squeeze into before they are locked. Some doors simply no matter how hard we try to open them will remain locked.

Then there was a beautiful ornate door that once was hidden behind the roses and thorns. It was the writing door. I should have seen it all along…there were many years of scribbles in journals. There was a book written in grade school about a house full of troubled girls that were saved, torn up and thrown away.. There was this girl that wanted to share the story of her life..

That door has been opened and can no longer be kept shut.

 

Cloudy with a chance of stalking

I will be leaving shortly. As you are reading this, I am probably on the road. I will be driving 2 hours to meet up with my daughter Angel who will also be driving 2 hours to meet me. Tomorrow she has a vocal competition at the midway point’s college.

We weren’t even sure she would be competing. She was sick with a fever off and on the last couple of weeks. She has been to the doctor 3 times in the past month and is currently getting over tonsillitis…which isn’t the best for a singer. In the meantime, my husband will be staying at home taking care of the business and kids.

On Friday, Paul is taking our son and his girlfriend to meet up with the family of the people whose cabin they had a party at this past summer. Quick recap, the daughter offered her family cabin for an underage drinking party, ended up getting busted by her parents, didn’t go but told the others to go without her. Twenty kids showed up and trashed the place. They want to talk to our son because we were one of the few parents that made their kid apologize and offered to help pay for damages. I have a bad feeling that the meeting is not going to go very well.

Meanwhile, I will be out of town with Angel. We will be at the college of her ex-boyfriend Mitch. This is problematic. A few years back, Angel befriended a guy named Jeremy while she was on a school music department trip. Angel liked the guy as a friend and Jeremy liked her more than that. At the time, Mitch and Angel were dating.

Jeremy started stalking Angel. He hacked into Mitch’s facebook account. He sent her threatening messages from random numbers on her phone…one of them said that he would rape her. Then Jeremy punched Mitch on the campus we will be visiting this weekend.

Wait, there is more…After Mitch and Angel broke up, Angel confided in me that she thought that Mitch could have been posing as Jeremy all along. Either way, it doesn’t matter…they both go to the college we will be at tomorrow. Chances are we might run into one of them and things could get dicey. We have no idea who the guilty party is…that makes it really hard to know what could happen.

I am going to the college to support my daughter and also as a bodyguard so to say. I don’t think that either guy would be willing to give her grief in front of her mother. In my mind, I think I could take them on. A karate chop to certain body parts. Hiyyyaaahhh! Realistically, an athletic woman in her 40’s probably doesn’t stand a chance fighting a couch potato 20 year old male. But it would be very entertaining.

I am happy to have some time to spend alone with Angel. I haven’t seen her for a month. She hasn’t been home since August and is starting to feel homesick for the first time. It is hard to be sick away from home without a mother to give you chicken noodle soup. Not to mention not having a doctor and having no clue what to even do.

AAAAGGHHHH!!

Then after all this is all said and done, I will be turning around and heading back to the same college campus for a college tour with my son next week…

Will the insanity ever end?????

No fires

I worked late Thursday night until 8 PM. If I worked late, I would be able to keep to my running schedule which hasn’t been broken since the stomach flu of May of 2016. It is more important than writing.

Friday morning I ran 12 miles. It was the best run in ages. I didn’t feel any pain or exhaustion. I felt energetic and happy. Things were going good until I realized that I was missing a key ingredient in the dip I was making for the afternoon staff party. I had to make an unexpected trip to the store on the busiest grocery shopping day of the year.

The parking lot to the store was a zoo. Traffic was backed up for a mile away. Not many parking lots spaces were to be had and there weren’t many carts either. Angel was called into work at the store on that day and I was happy to see her busy working while I was there.

We closed the office early on Friday and scheduled an office wide website training and beer sampling party upon the suggestion of our sales guy James. James said that the party was going to be the highlight of his holiday weekend. He is a divorced man and his only son was spending the weekend with his in-laws. I felt bad for him.

We learned a lot about the technical side of our website and it was determined that I was going to help start a blog.

Then Christmas Eve came before I knew it. I realized I had been so busy at work that I forgot to drink out of my special holiday mug this year. I didn’t even wrap gifts until later in the day.

Angel and I sang a duet at church that evening. We were also part of the choir. It was a strange evening. Someone smelled smoke and thought they saw smoke coming out of the church building right before the choir processed in. We discussed briefly how flammable our choir robes are.

Angel and I decided to sing our duet without the security of having the music in front of us. We were nervous as we looked out at the hundreds of people in attendance. Angel was freaking out that she would forget the words. We made a couple of errors. I had to look at all of the people looking at me while I sang. It was nerve wracking. If I had the music, I could stare at that instead of at the eyes on me.

During the service, the other soloist forgot his words. The pastor started the sermon without reading the gospel. Then he lingered for a long time in his robe over the lit candles. We remembered our discussion on how flammable the robes are. The choir was ready to jump on him to put out the flames or interrupt the service to have the pastor move only to find out later that the candles were fake.

We awoke the following morning to a white Christmas. Later in the day, it started to sleet and then rain. I was worried about my son on the road. He made it home safe.

For awhile, Paul was hurt that I didn’t get him a Christmas gift. I felt bad that he felt bad. It was a big misunderstanding. I thought that he said that we should buy ourselves our own gifts. So I bought myself a wet suit on clearance. That probably sounds bad. I bought myself something, but got him nothing. He did buy some ice fishing stuff that I have no clue about.

Arabella, Paul, and I had a relaxing Christmas day together. I stayed in my pajamas all day.

I’m sorry this post wasn’t as exciting as I intended it to be. The church didn’t end up starting on fire. Everything ended up turning out great in the end.

I want to say thanks again for your presence, if you stuck with me this far. Having this blog is a wonderful gift. I am so happy that you are following along on this journey of mine..

 

My attempt to join a band

A couple of months ago, I ran into some acquaintances at a store whom I will call Ricky and Sherri. Since I have known Ricky, he has been in a band. He is ruggedly handsome in a rock and roll way with long stringy dark blonde hair. He dresses mainly in worn jeans and leather with rock shirts. I would describe his wife Sherri as a free spirit. I wouldn’t describe her as beautiful, but as unique. She always did different things with her hair like put pink streaks in it. She was happy and carefree.

I ran into Sherri first at the store. She told me that the band her husband was in might be breaking up. She said that he was thinking about starting a new band. When Ricky came over, I told him that if he needed a female singer in his new band to keep me in mind. I figured, why not? I like his style of music, plus I still have being a singer in a band on my bucket list. After I said this, Ricky stopped making eye contact. He mumbled something that sounded like sure, but seemed to be distracted. I mentioned something about his strange behavior to my husband when I got home.

Now I am going to rewind back in time a few more years, back to when I first met Ricky and Sherri. For a brief period of time, we were in the same social group that was lead by a relative of Sherri by the name of Roxanne. We were invited into the group because we had the mutual friends of Jerry and Anna. Roxanne was beautiful, educated, and very wild.

We started hanging around with this group right around the time that my oldest child was old enough to babysit. It was the first taste of freedom that I probably ever felt. This is pretty sad, but I never went to one single college party. I totally missed the college party scene altogether. I always had to be perfect and responsible. 

Not anymore!

Paul and I started going to the parties that Roxanne threw. She threw big theme parties where everyone dressed in character. One year she had a pirate party, etc.. Ricky played guitar in their band. I loved the music! They would party all night. Eventually, the cops would come because of noise complaints. But they had an in with the local police, so the parties were never shut down. All the neighbors were invited, but not everyone went. People camped out in tents and campers. The parties attracted the well educated and even a few local celebrities. 

It was like playing with fire with this group. If you got too close, you were likely to get burned.  

The parties always involved very heavy drinking. If you were seen without a drink in your hand, you were given one. Roxanne even had a stripper pole at her house! She arranged girls trips to places including New Orleans during Mardi Gras.. I thought that a lot of things they did were exciting, but risky and dangerous. 

Their lifestyle seemed attractive at first. I can’t stand being friends with someone that I find boring, but this group was taking it to the opposite extreme. I found their behavior to be shocking. I like fun and excitement as much as the next person, but I find it in different ways. I like running marathons, sailing on the open water, and mastering tricky jigsaw puzzles (OK, that one is boring!!). They found fun by drinking to the point that they forgot everything that happened the night before. That is not my kind of fun! They seemed to find value in shocking people. They made me feel boring.  

I saw happily married couples making out with other people. Fights broke out. I watched the group edge closer and closer to the fire from a distance. Some of them got burned. Then some of the marriages started breaking up. Jerry and Anna broke up. Since Jerry was our friend, we were no longer a part of this group because Anna was staying. No hard feelings. For awhile I did miss the excitement of this group that I never fully belonged to.

Back to a couple of months ago, I considered for a moment whether I wanted to play with fire again by getting involved with Ricky’s band. I figured it was a long shot anyway. Then a couple of weeks after meeting with Ricky and Sherri in the store, their 20 plus year marriage fell apart. Ricky ran off with a band groupie. That explained his odd behavior! I should really unfriend Ricky on facebook, but once again I am drawn in by the fire……the gossip, the fights, the shock value.  

Well, there goes my attempt to join a band. I guess I will just stick to community theater! There is never any drama there (**eye roll**)! More on that tomorrow…

Acting like everything is alright 

I am sorry things did not go according to your plan. When you asked me why God did this to you, I didn’t know what to say. I wanted to fix things for you. I wanted to make you happy again. Instead I just listened. I asked when you would rather know, now or later. Maybe God has a better plan that we just can’t see right now.

You said that you were a great actress. You went to play practice with a smile on your face. Then you came home and cried. The odds weren’t in your favor this time. Out of the hundreds of talented kids that auditioned, you weren’t in the handful of those selected for the musical theater program at the college you will be attending. You cried even more when your brother told you that they didn’t know what they were missing. 

The truth is that your musical theater talents are lopsided. You are a phenomenal singer, great actress, and below average dancer. Even though you have the shape of a dancer, your body fails you. I am so sorry that you seem to have my lack of gracefulness. 

I was the little girl that they laughed at during the dance recital because I danced to a different beat then everyone else. I was the scrawny little kid that was always picked last on the team. I was the little girl that had to do extra credit to pass gym class. I had to write about sports because I couldn’t do them. While other kids could do flips and splits, I remained rigid, tight, and inflexible. Why do you think I am a runner? It requires grit, the only thing I have.

There is one gift that I am happy to have passed on to you, your voice. When you sing, people feel the emotions you are singing about. A happy song puts everyone in a good mood. A sad song can change the audiences laughter to tears in a few sweeping moments. When you auditioned for the vocal performance program, they complimented you on your voice and told you that they wanted you. I know that you will find a home there. 

I know it is hard right now. You have been eating, drinking, and sleeping musicals for so long. I am impressed with your optimism despite a few minor road blocks. 

It does not mean that you can never audition for musicals in the big cities. This is your journey now and I am excited to see where it takes you.

Competing events

Today all of my kids competed. I felt just as nervous as if I was competing.

Not only were all three of my kids competing in solo and ensemble, but my youngest daughter Arabella had an additional altogether different competition at a different school. This week I attended the mandatory parent meeting for Arabella’s competition. The leader told the group that anyone with a failing grade would not be able to compete. It was at this point that I leaned over to my daughter’s coach (one of my best friends) and said good thing they weren’t talking about my child. They were talking about my daughter! WTH??  I raced home to find out that she was failing choir (really, choir???!?) because she didn’t turn in an assignment when she was out of school getting her braces on. So I never did sign up that night to help out.

A couple days later I received a nasty call because I never signed up to volunteer at the event. The leader wanted me to help with concessions between 10 and 11. I said no. Between my kids, they were signed up for 11 S&E events. I was not even going to be able to be there for Arabella’s competition because my other two kids were competing at similar times. Paul was going to go. I was not going to drop seeing my kids events because someone was stupid enough to double schedule this event with S&E. She told me that if I didn’t help out that they were not going to do this in the future. I reiterated that I was not going to help from 10 to 11, mentioned all the times I did my fair share, and offered to help clean up after the award ceremony.

Then later this week right before S&E, Arabella told me that she broke her instrument. Ok, sure. What next? It was already crazy enough having to be at two different places at the same time!

Last night I set my alarm for 5:40 AM to get up in time for the show. I have never been so thankful for waking up early on a Saturday morning before. Especially since I accidently set the alarm for 5:40 PM. That could have been disasterous!

Arabella performed her two pieces first so she could leave for her other competition. Her band duet was horrible. Apparently her friend was playing french horn out of a trumpet book and the instruments were in 2 different keys. So it sounded like they were playing two different clashing songs. They took a 2nd on their class C. She also took a 2nd on her choir piece. Not too bad for as bad as the band piece sounded. Alex took a 2nd on his band piece as well.

As usual, Angelique stole the show. All 8 of her choir pieces made it to state. I can usually tell it’s good if the worst comment the judges make is on where to take breaths. She better be good since she wants to go into vocal performance as a career! Last year all of her pieces made it to state. She took all firsts at state and received an exemplary award. One of the best things a judge said was that her happy attitude was contagious.

Then I made it back to Arabella’s competition just in time for the award ceremony. Her team did not make it to state this year. Oh well, they had fun anyway. Then I stayed after to clean up. I came home tonight pretty exhausted. Almost like I ran a marathon. Lol.   

All in all, the day ended on a good note.