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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Running and Hallelujahs!!!!


This morning was orchestra rehearsal for our Palm Sunday Service at 7th...

It's always challenging to sing in allergy season...
and for some reason, my body felt extra tired today!

So, on the way home, I had this overwhelming urge to RUN...
I've been a runner all my life.
In fact... I like to run... I'm pretty natural at it...
and, I know its good for me...
so I often wonder why I put off doing it... like it's a chore...

But, today, running was calling me out of the house...
out of my blasé routine...
 onto the road...

 I could not wait to get outside and RUN!

However,

I have been lazy for the past few months, so I am a wee bit out of shape!

Amazingly... something really cool happened...

There were three HALLELUJAHS  out on the trail today... THREE!!!

The FIRST  Hallelujah came in the form of a driver 
who flagged me (out of shape runner) down
 just over the Richie overpass... 

This lady was dressed all nicely... 
with a look of desperation on her face, she asked, 
"Could you tell me how to get to Hewitt 1st Baptist?"  
Delighted to have a chance (a.k.a... an excuse) 
to catch my breath, 
I was happy to oblige her!

The SECOND Hallelujah came a little while into the run... 
when yet another lady pulled over and flagged me down... 
"I'm looking for Woodway Lutheran, do you now how to get there?"

I could NOT believe it... 
in ALL my seventeen years of running in this neighborhood... 
I have NEVER had ANYONE flag me down
 to ask me for directions.... 
(Though I have had people attempt to RUN me DOWN... 
oh... well... I'll save that for another blogpost!)

So I ran along... taking in the beauty of the bluebonnets...





Breathing the allergens in the air... (uh-oh)

Enjoying the sun, shining down on me!

Taking a mental note that even my bum knee was cooperating...
 it was just heavenly out there!

As I approached the top of the hill beside Woodway 1st Baptist, 
I felt the cool northern breeze caress my  body... 
I spread my arms wide as if I were an eagle 
gliding through the sky...  all the while... 
running... running... running...

A little further down I trekked the Richie Road stretch.  
I'm always amazed by the quiet sounds of nature... 

 I hugged the luxurious shade from the tall, overgrown brush... 
it felt glorious to my skin!

Running... running... running home...

That's when my THIRD Hallelujah happened!  

I'm not kidding!

I climbed what I call my neighborhood's tiny "Heartbreak Hill"! 
And, just when I thought I could not bear another step, 
 another driver stopped to ask me, "Where is Woodway 1st Baptist?"
  Heaving heavily, I gave her directions, all the while
secretly thinking how marvelous to have a reason to break the pace 
and catch my breath, if only for just a few seconds!


I figured that probably today the Good Lord knew 
that I was totally out of shape...

so perhaps He placed these fabulous people in my path 
to help me out just a little!

On a side note... DLW is the true runner in our family, 
and there are lots of stories...
but I'll save that for another blogpost!

Soul Singing and Running and...

Hallelujahs!

A good way to lift the spirit and cleanse the soul!

La - Ti - Do!

Jeanne









Friday, March 30, 2012

The SUNSHINE SKYWAY... A Bridge Over Time

Today is a good day to think about the gulf coast...

Why? You ask? 

Simply because it makes me happy to do so!

One of my earliest memories is driving to the beach... and driving over the
Sunshine Skyway!

The Sunshine Skyway is a tall expansive bridge that rests over the gulf waters
entering into Tampa Bay! 
The old Skyway Bridge was long and expansive and when...
you got to the top... 
there was a steep, steep incline and decline... 
and at the top there was a grated-grill floor,
and folks could look through to the ocean below. 
Tires made a grating sound... really loud... as they drove across the top... 
and cars shook with a little buzz... 
which was exhilarating and scary much like a theme park ride!  

This picture does not even express the height of this bridge!



My family went over the Skyway every year as we headed to the beach for vacation. 
When I was a teenager, I actually drove across this bridge many times on the way to the beach... 
a little nervous... in my tiny grey Volkswagen... it was scary to say the least... 
heart thumping loudly... hands clenched to the steering wheel... 
breathing a little shallow... what a moment!

But, the old bridge is no longer there.

A long, long time ago, in 1980, my beloved gulf coast (just off the island of Anna Maria)
 experienced a terrible accident.

The Sunshine Skyway was struck by a large vessel
and the double-lane southbound side dramatically fell into the ocean.
Many cars and a bus went into the bay...35 people lost their lives
with only one remaining survivor.

I remember that day very well. 
It is etched in my memory.
Tragic.

Here is a picture of the old bridge with a portion of the middle missing.



Eventually, the bridge was replaced by a new Sunshine Skyway 
and a stretch of the old one was developed into fishing piers that are vastly used today.

Here is a pic of the bridge today!
It's just as tall, but not as steep... yet, it has a certain grandeur 
just sitting there above that vast sea!


Isn't it beautiful!!!?

Whenever I head to the beach, I always feel a little nostalgia as I approach the
Sunshine Skyway.  

Memories of fishing just off the bridge with my dad and other relatives.... 
picnics on the bay just off the bridge... 
getting a shell stuck in my foot while searching for sand dollars in the bay...
(I still can sort of feel that raw spot on my foot!)

I vividly remember the music that was popular then...
of course, I was carrying around a transistor radio listening to the pop songs of the 60's...70's...
"It's My Party" - "The Leader of the Pack" 
"The Dock of the Bay"

Music has always been a life link from my past to my now...

The Beautiful Sunshine Skyway gives expansive views of Anna Maria Island.
It's a great feeling to climb that bridge and take in the 
beauty of the island from afar!




Here is the Skyway at night... really cool, huh?!!



I love Florida.
I love the Gulf Coast.
I love these momentous milestone memories!

La - Ti - Do!

Jeanne

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Texas Bluebonnets and Allergies!!

Two weeks ago, as I was driving home from work, I realized there were bluebonnets everywhere and pear trees were blooming and honeysuckle blossoms were opening up and the large ferns in our front yard were sprouting...

Color... many colors...everywhere!!

Mostly green and lots of blue - bluebonnets!
Did we even have a winter?

Then I realized that I had already started on my allergy medication routine a month earlier than usual. So, of course, we are in full blown spring...
This year of 2012... spring began early... at the end of February!

Well that is all good for me, because I love spring!
I get a good feeling when all is fresh and new - when nature calls me outdoors for beneficial exercise and soul-lifting runs and taking in the beauty of it all!

Bluebonnets are here!
More beautiful this year than EVER before!
This year they seem more purple than blue... 
and are very abundant...
they are a unique TEXAS BRAND! 
When you think of Texas, you think bluebonnets, 
cowboy boots, and wide open spaces!



Aren't they gorgeous this year?!!!

Allergies are here, too!

This is not good, because they cut into my singing... makes it more work than fun...
in fact, last night at choir, I was struggling to even resonate or breathe well!

And, my first client yesterday had to endure a full blown allergy attack... poor young lady...
I feel sorry that she had to endure all the sneezing, wheezing... just pitiful!
I was grabbing zyrtec and singulair out of my desk... pronto!!

But, all will be better when I get on my medication routine for a couple of months..
I do NOT like medicine, but in allergy season... I am thankful for these pharmaceuticals...
for me...it is SURVIVAL!

I guess all good things come with some loss... like bluebonnets and allergies...
it's part of the giving up process of life...
change brings both excitement and trepidation.. even our most awesome moments usually create some sort of challenge....

For me, Spring brings beauty, sunshine, exercise, bluebonnets, an uplifted spirit...
and..... allergies!!  That's the way this world spins!

I'm okay with that.

Soul  - Singing my way into Spring!

La - Ti - Do!

Jeanne

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Go Ahead... Sit Down... Share Your Talent... BE DISCOVERED!!

As we were walking through the Minnesota Airport 
on Saturday morning...
we saw this piano just sitting there!

Begging for someone to sit down and play it...

And there was a sign on the piano 
that read...

GO AHEAD... SIT DOWN
SHARE YOUR TALENT
BE DISCOVERED



So, of course, with a little prompting by DLW
I did just that... 

SAT DOWN and PLAYED 
and SANG...
(yes, right smack there in the middle of the airport...)

I shared a weakly improvised version of
AMAZING GRACE!

Isn't it great that someone decided this piano should be
available for all the Soul Singers
of the world...
that they might freely spread musical overtones
across this vast airport...

It was a nice little surprise...

It was a spontaneous, impromptu moment...

This Soul Singer loves those kind of moments!

La - Ti - Do!

Jeanne

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Human Voice - A Musical Expression of The Hurting Soul

It was an eventful weekend in Minnesota!

We had a few days in beautiful Minnesota and precious time with my sweet daughter, Laurie and her hubby, John.

We saw her pre-opening performance of Phantom Of The Opera (in the Musical Theatre Dept.) on Saturday night and La Voix Humaine (a one-woman opera) on Sunday for her graduate voice recital.

Wow! Two musical - theatrical events in one weekend makes for a fabulous trip!!

In both Phantom and The Human Voice the main characters experience lost love (abandonment)  and deal with debilitating emotional pain.

La Voix Humaine (The Human Voice) is the story is of a woman who is at the end of a five year long love relationship. It is ending and her only and last connection with her lover is via telephone. As the woman falls deeper and deeper into despair, she clings to the telephone for every opportunity to talk to her lover. She is distraught for most of the show, however she readily pretends to him that she is okay. As the telephone conversation progresses, the woman slowly disintegrates into suicidal behavior. In the end, her depression robs her of life.



This show is a classic example of a character with extreme Borderline Personality combined with Major Depression. The dysregulation of mood that is expressed in this difficult and intense work by lyricist, Jacques Cocteau, and composer,  Francis Poulenc, is something that affects many depressed individuals.

In 2010, a non-profit called Therapy Center Stage Productions was formed, and now this organization is attempting to "bring the spotlight to mental health" via music and theatrical concert venues.  This project came from an idea that my colleague and I shared. We were looking for a way to use our musical training to raise money and awareness for mental health.

Therapy Center Stage was asked to collaborate with Lauren's operatic performance to bring awareness and to make sure people know that help is available for people who suffer from depression and dysregulation of mood.  TCS was proud to provide green bracelets promoting the words "Embrace Life" with www.therapycenterstage.org on the band.  We also distributed some literature to encourage mental health!

Lauren wanted to raise funds at this event to promote mental health awareness and educational programs. She collaborated with other organizations in Mankato who sponsored advertising and buttons for the opera.

This awesome volunteer made sure people got 
buttons and bracelets...
pamphlets and resources for counseling in the the area...
information about  the women's center...
important literature about how to overcome depression...
and 
he collected donations 
for
Therapy Center Stage!

He also wore some really cool RED glasses!



Dr. Kim Julian, Laurie's voice professor!
A happy moment!


This adorable lady is 87 years old!
She is a major supporter of the arts in Minnesota...
She shared a deep passion for bringing hope and awareness to those in need...
She and Lauren were instant friends...
This lady raised her children and then went back to school after she was 50...
earning a Master Degree in Musical Theatre
AND
A Master Degree in Vocal Performance (Music)!!
(Lauren is completing those same two degrees in May)

John prepared a neat reception after the recital...



It was an all out family moment...

Cutting cheeses, slicing ham, preparing tea...
cookies, cookies... lots of cookies!!

Christine (and baby to be!!), Kathy, Laurie, John, Me, and DLW
after the concert - all smiles!


Then we went to dinner
and laughed and talked and had a blast
with friends and family!
(This is Lauren's friend, Kim. I'm sorry that I did not get Emma in this pic!)

A musical weekend with singing and family and performances
and mental health awareness
and laughter and a little sleet and rain and sunshine, too!

And... Phantom Of The Opera music dancing around in my head...
That was a spectacular performance, too!!
Really strong choruses and strong acting and whoa... the huge sets!
Love that show!

Love my girl... and her beau...
La - Ti - Do!

Jeanne


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Isn't This EXCITING!! - Thanks, Katy




Her four adult grandchildren stood at the front of the church, with guitar in hand, and sang a tender lullaby-like ballad… it was memorized… and sung with the familiarity of a song entrenched deep within their psyche… I felt a tear come to my eye, as DLW leaned over and whispered in my ear…
“I imagine those kids have wonderful memories of their grandmother singing that song with them before she put them to bed at night.” 

It’s dawned on me more than a few times, how appropriate it was that Katy lived on a street named “Lark”.  Music was so a part of her world. I often wondered if she and her beloved husband, George, (whom was also adored) picked that house because it was on Lark, or perhaps they moved there first and then named it themselves!

Katy named lots of things, like Day Spring Baptist Church… an endearing church which she, George, and a few friends birthed a couple of decades ago. Katy named several books that she authored and published… Katy named the songs that she wrote… Katy named the Baylor Blessing…

But, to me, the most important thing Katy helped name was my daughter, Kelsey. Her granddaughter was named Kelsey, and at the time, I had not heard of a girl being named Kelsey… thanks to Katy introducing me to stories about her granddaughter, I fell in love with that name. I really thought at the time that it was such an unusual and beautiful name and I still do!

Katy loved a good romance story. She was a romanticist all the way! In many ways, her entire life was a good love story… one she shared with everyone who might cross her path!

She kept books, photo albums, journals, symbols of life, such as, a friend-signed table cloth in which later she stitched the names by her own hand, an alter in her living room, an often-lit candle on the dining room table, a “postcard” Christmas card each and every year…with a picture and a personalized hand written love note, and a generously offered up cup of tea and scone for anyone who walked through her front door!

All of us reminisced about having scones and tea at her table, while she told lavish stories of old, and imagined exciting things to come, philosophized about life, and encouraged us on to make our own dreams come true.

Katy Jennings Stokes
You can see the delight in this smile of Katy's...
...pictured here with her "Blue Goose"!
She would bring this smile to DLW's dental office
and they all loved her there, too!

Singing it the choir at 7th with Katy was one of the highlights of my years... and sitting in Katy and George's sunday school class at 7th is where I, along with so many other young couples (it was a big class), discovered God, life, parenting, good memories and life-long friendship! 

Yesterday's celebration of Katy was the culmination of a “lady” well-lived.  It was tribute of courage. It was a directive of hope for all of us to live in the present… to squeak out every little morsel of this life we’ve been given… to cherish our beautiful earth and to take in it’s gifts…to walk down paths hitherto un-trod… to smell flowers, climb trees, intimate with creatures of all kinds... share smiles, and create a sense of wonder in all things!

Katy had an undeniable relationship with her maker and all His gifts to us. As I signed our names in the book before her memorial, I felt Katy smiling down on me and saying, “Ohhh… I’m so glad you two are here!”  A tear of joy came to my eye…

Katy’s last words on this earth sum up the essence of her well-lived days, as she burst out with this joyful mantra...

“Isn’t this exciting?!!!” she declared! 

Wow… what a wonderful exclamation to Katy's earthen journey… as she pilgrimaged into her heavenly beginning!

La – Ti – Do!

Jeanne

Friday, March 23, 2012

Music and Children... Joyful Beginnings!



For some of us... music is in our blood!


Sometimes, when I want to start my day off just right......  I watch and listen to this video.


It's a little boy named Jonathan, in his PJ's, conducting Beethoven's 4th! This is worth taking a couple of minutes and watching to the end... so precious!


Notice how Jonathan expresses the subtle nuances of this great work with his tiny hands!  And his sweeping arm movements... and his anticipation of beat!


What I love most is that this "little"... at age three... appreciates the powerful joy of symphonic music! 


It makes me smile when he yells... 
"Here comes it..." and "This is FUN!"
... and when he wipes his tiny nose and doesn't miss a beat! So cute!


He gets so excited about this music, he can hardly contain himself!



And, at the end when he falls to the floor, cascading in joyful laughter, I am moved to tears every time!


Thanks, Jonathan... nothing like a little Beethoven to start the day!


Through the years, I have loved working with the Children's Symphony Concert which is sponsored and produced by the Waco Symphony Council and Baylor University Orchestra. Each year, approximately 6,000 children pile into Waco Hall (three concerts total) to hear the orchestra play! It's been going on 
for 60 + years now! Many adults my age remember attending this concert as an elementary student.


Teaching children the value of music is, in my bias, the essence of giving them a gift for life... keeping the arts alive forever... and giving children a grounding to their soul when life gets hard. What a gift!


Mozart was the great child prodigy of all time. His father taught him music from his toddlerhood. He was gifted, for sure, but what if his dad had not exposed him to his life love? He (and we) might have missed out on the great compositions that he left to us.




Mozart was born in 1756.... 200 years before my birth... yet, his music is still greatly popular today!
I especially love his opera works... so funny and yet, so fun for the artists who love coloratura!



I love to hear Cecelia Bartoli sing one of my favorite arias, "Come Scoglio" from Cosi Fan Tutte by Mozart!




We know that Mozart was probably manic... obvious from the fact that he is considered the most prolific composer, yet he only lived to be 36 years old! I always say "Mozart burned out early, because he lived so fast and worked non-stop!"




He was giving concerts and composing music at age six. He studied with the great music theorist and composer, Bach, at age eight. He lived a crazy existence and died too early. It makes me wonder if Mozart had lived to a ripe old age, what more he might have accomplished!


When it's all said and done... his legacy all began when he was just a little child and we have reaped the benefits of his love for music as they were passed down to us!


Grateful for the children!
Grateful for the music!


La - Ti - Do!


Jeanne 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Gigantic and Tremendous Musical Events!



I would like to share one of my favorite artists
 with you guys!

His name is Alfie Boe...

 Hear this tenor voice singing "Bring Him Home"...
from Les Miserables 
Careful... you may release some tears...

Be sure to listen to the very end... 
and watch the reaction of the audience - 
these people 'get it!'



I love that moment at the end when all the
people cannot stop applauding!

 I enjoy opera...

It's fun and challenging to sing 
and I most appreciate when it's done well.

And... I *heart* Broadway...
I love a good broadway show... 
as music, dance, and acting, together culminate into one gigantic, tremendous, musical theatre event!

Actually, just about anything that involves live theatre (with great singing and dancing)... 
will totally captivate me!

Alfie is a British cross-over performer. He sings and performs both operatic roles and broadway show tunes.

(And, lately... there are gobs of cross-over artists...
many of the stars of 42nd street are making their television debuts this spring!)

It's a Broadway meets Hollywood kind of phenomenon!

My favorite, Alfie... is pioneering the way...
he's a shining example of one who can use excellent singing technique to perform both genres well!

Notice the incredible power in his voice as he sings... "What Have I Done?" from Les Miserables...




I always admire great singing.
When paired with great acting, it's even better!

I usually listen to master singers 
while I am getting ready in the morning... 
taking a bubble bath...
or
cleaning my closet...
It's a great way to start the day!

At least for a Soul-Singer!

La - Ti - Do!

Jeanne



Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Ironing Out Our Wrinkles

I have always liked to iron.

I know this is weird, but, somehow I find it kind of 
therapeutic to the soul!

This must date back to my early childhood...

When I was a little girl, I spent countless hours in my grandparent's cleaners, (mom worked there) 
playing with hundreds of buttons... 
stacking little pieces of wool fabric...
smelling the mineral spirits...
hearing and watching the steam rise from the presses... 
these things are all vividly and wonderfully 
imprinted on my brain.

So, that is why I think my time spent ironing 
is something I enjoy.
In fact, I have often said that 
I could make ironing my life work
and be perfectly happy!

I am a really good ironer... I even know some cool tricks that I learned from my mother about how to press unique and delicate fabrics without destroying them.

Bessie and Ernest Camp ran the  cleaners 
back in the 1940's and 50's in Mulberry, Florida. 
It was on the main street through town. 

They were well loved in that community.

My dad can tell you incredible stories from the days when he was a teenager and ran the laundry crews.  I think a lot of amazing parenting and grand-parenting took place 
in that steam-filled shop.


Here is a picture of my grandmother holding, I think my sister, Joan... with my Aunt Jenny smiling from behind.   
They are standing in Camp's Cleaners!


And, as a little girl, I also had nannies during
the day, who kept us and kept house.
And, I can remember lying under the ironing board
watching soap operas as they
ironed our clothes (probably while my mom
was working at the shop taking care of 
dry cleaning for other people)!

There was something about that shop.
It was a wonderful place for me.

Some things I still love:

Pressing fabrics...
Seeing, feeling, hearing steam rise...
Watching wrinkles smooth and disappear...

Maybe that's why I am a therapist... spending my days trying to help people 'iron out' the wrinkles of their lives!

Maybe that's why I love to press fabric...
Reminder of ironing out the wrinkles in my own life!

Thanks for reading my blog!

La - Ti - Do!

Jeanne


Monday, March 19, 2012

Sing - It - Out - Loud

It's Monday again....

Somehow I never feel that rested after the weekend...

Probably because I spent too much time watching March Madness rooting on the Baylor Men's and Women's Basketball teams and pulling for the Big 12 in all games (except Mizzou...sorry Jerry!)

Mizzou beat Baylor Men three times this season and smashed them in the final of the Big 12 Tournament, so I was glad for them to be out of the competition.

Life is a competition, of sorts. Monday is definitely a challenge for me!
Somehow every day is a challenge within to rise above pettiness, loneliness, and stress that comes my way.

It seems that on Monday mornings we are 'back in the saddle' of daily routine - meeting ourselves coming and going - trying to face the busy day ahead.

So here is a little quote to start the day!


It says it all...

Happy Monday, folks!

Whatever happens today... grab hold of a piano, be happy, and sing it out loud!

La - Ti - Do!

Jeanne

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Fabulous Sugar Cookie Fruit Tart


This was a fun day!

My daughter's life long friend, 
Melissa,
had a baby girl!
 
Her mom, Joy, is my good friend...
and is the baby's grand!

 I went to a "sip and see" 
for this little one.

She was
 a little baby doll...
so adorable
and bright eyed...
and she never even cried one time!

It was fun hanging out with ladies
some whom I've known for
twenty - five years or more...
Catching up on their grown children
and realizing that we are 
all in that phase of life where
our kiddos are grown
living their lives, getting married,
having babies...

The food was exceptional...
Especially this little fruit tart...
It is so colorful and pretty!


I couldn't figure out why it was so tasty.
Then I got the recipe...
I promise you will LOVE this treat!

Sugar Cookie Fruit Tarts

Sugar Cookie Dough (slice and bake)
Roll into balls (1" wide)
Place into a greased small muffin pan
Bake according to instructions on cookie package
Dip dowel in sugar and press each cookie down
(this makes the little tart crust)
Let cool and take them out of the pan
Put strawberries (chopped) and blueberries
inside each tart

(this is the little dowel - Pampered Chef)

Thanks, Joy!

It was a JOY-FUL day!

Babies and friends 
Berries and Cookie Dough!

More memories made in the life of
a soul singer!

I hope you try the tarts! 
You will love them!

La - Ti - Do!

Jeanne