Sunday, January 28, 2018

Social Media - It's Beauty and Ugliness

I began writing a post earlier today that I felt was going to serve a purpose in making a point that needed made.  As you can see, this is not that post.  No, that post was to vague.  It was written so as to not offend but state my case.  Maybe I should have kept it.  And, I may regret not keeping it.  No big deal.  Sometimes, those types of blogs aren't what needs to be said.  Nope, no words in those types of blogs will do any justice to the thoughts running through my head.  So this post is what you are stuck with.  Here is my single warning to you though - you will be offended.  You will get mad at me for saying what I have to say.  You will deem me a fool for saying these things.  You might also find even more faults in my words than you already have in previous posts.  I'm okay with that.  I'm not even gonna be surprised if you find me among the worst individuals you know.  Just know that I'm still gonna love you for being you; consider you among my many friends; know that you are just like me - a perfect picture of imperfection.

Social media can be a great tool.  You can stay abreast of the current news topics of the day.  Events you'd like to attend are blasted all over the place keeping you in the loop for social gatherings.  I learn of concerts in the area I'd like to go to.  Social media allows us to maintain contact with friends across the country.  It is a beautiful use of a tool with the simple strike of a few keys or swipes up and down on our phones.  It is how most of us feel as if we aren't being left out of life events of family.  It is beautiful indeed.  BUT!

Social media is also where people find the strength to be someone they are not.  It is the best place to misinterpret another's beliefs/words/observations/etc.  It has become the best place to get offended/insulted/chastised/etc.  More over, it has also become the best place for christians to show the world how hypocritical/hateful/self righteous we can be.  Don't believe me?  Go scroll through you Facebook/Twitter feeds.  Go to your favorite bands Facebook page and see what kind of responses they get to some of their opinions.  And as you read through these feeds I guarantee you will get offended, you will get your feelings hurt and you will find yourself falling into the trap of saying something you will regret later.

Many times I have been the recipient of tongue lashings from people based on a post that they felt didn't line up with their beliefs.  I've shared political opinions that have rubbed some the wrong way.  I've been accused of being hateful simply because I've disagreed with an individuals ideology.  I've been fine with those disagreements, mostly because the differences of opinion has been civil and respectful.  BUT!

I'm finding there is nothing more pulverizing in a social media post that a post intended for humor that is immediately taken the wrong way.  I've personally misinterpreted someones musings as seriousness.  I've responded incorrectly to their thoughts.  I've not put myself in their shoes to understand what they were seeing/thinking/feeling.  A rush to judgement was made.  I felt they were insensitive to the masses.  When in reality it wasn't what they posted that was the problem, it was me.  I was the one having a bad day.  It was me who took offense too easily.  It was me who couldn't find humor as they could.  It was I that forgot to take the plank out of my own eye and was all to willing to point out the error of that individuals words.  Oops!

Last night the roles were reversed.  I was finding humor in the simplicity of life.  A simple observation of my surroundings that were meant to provide others a chuckle and enjoy life and the humor we as humans can provide.  I shared my thoughts of my perceived humor in the surroundings I was in and all based on those around me.  It was my attempt to not take life so seriously.  My bad!!!

I was soon bombarded by thoughts and perceived assumptions of my motives.  None of those responding to the post were near me.  Everyone responding knew I was laughing loudly for all to hear.  They knew I was mocking an elderly man in front of everyone in the restaurant I was in.  They knew I had malice in my blood and I humiliated the gentleman.  Nobody saw that I complimented the employee or that I admitted a fault I have.  They all assumed there was circumstances beyond the gentleman's control that I wasn't aware of thus hurting this persons feelings.  Everyone ignored the fact I didn't use any names.  Everyone ignored my intents and knew I was sharing what I did for pure self gratification.  I was accused of being a horrible representation of Christ; of how I should know better than to mock those with lesser capabilities than I.

To those that assumed the worst, couldn't understand my observation with the intended humor, believed in the worst of me and showed their disbelief in me...Thank you.  Thank you for making sure I knew I was human.  If it weren't for you I would never have known that life is more serious than I thought.  Shame on me for seeing humor where humor should not have been considered.  How I need to consider what potential ailments people may have before I chuckle at mere words.  I didn't know that complementing a great job by people would be overshadowed by my self centered need of being a bully.

Here's the problem though.  Your responses to me are all based on assumption.  You've used your understanding of being like Christ as a reprimand.  Your understanding of scripture has allowed you to twist God's word into your own method of shaming others.  You've used your perfection as a standard for all to live and shoved it in my face when I don't meet that expectation.  You have provided solid evidence that life should be void of levity and enjoying the simple moments of simple humor should never be shared.

I guess you've never had a good chuckle at the innocence of a child near you.  I suppose you and your spouse have never shared a good belly laugh at the words you just can't get out because of hiccups.  You probably never watch YouTube videos of the epic fails people have while on their skateboards.  You certainly haven't laughed at your co-worker jump when they realize you snuck up on them.  It is obvious you think through every little aspect of your actions; your words are always well thought out before one leaves your mouth or hits print on social media.  Silly me for not knowing that.  BUT...

All of the above isn't the saddest part of everything isn't my words.  It isn't even the fact that people responded.  Nope, not even close.  It's the fact the christians were condemning christians.  They are casting stones without knowing the whole story.  They were quick to point out the ignorance of a situation they knew nothing about.  Done for an opportunity to prove superiority and their own perfections.  All for the world to see.  All for those that already despise christians to have that disdain supported without any effort on their part.  The love that Christ says others will know we are christians certainly wasn't shown.  For them it was further confirmation that christians suck and that they will never live up to the standards christians set for the world to live by.

We are people, prone to screw up.  As christians we tend to forget the simple things in life can be appreciated in innocence without over analyzing everything.  Forgotten is how short life is and how much fun passes us by because we are too busy shooting for perfection that can never be attained.  I truly believe Christ sat around with the disciples having fun impersonating Peter and his rigidity.  When Christ had Peter walk on water, I pretty sure the other disciples laughed when his faith failed and he began to sink.  Sure there was a lesson, but what isn't accounted for is what happened afterwards when it was just Christ and the disciples around the camp fire that night.  And if Christ and the disciples could enjoy the simple things in life, why can't we?

Is it pride?  Is it a fear of accepting our own imperfections?  Are we so caught up in today societal need for political correctness that we are over sensitive to something that doesn't exist?  I don't have these answers nor do I know if there is an answer.  What I do know is that an answer may not exist.  I know that those who pointed out my errors have forgotten that like them, I am human as well.  I will never live up the their expectation of perfection just as they will never live up to any perceived expectations other have of them.  If I've been placed on a pedestal (self appointed or by others), expect failure.  If you find yourself on a pedestal, I hope you anticipate your own failure.

I expect these observations to offend many.  I fully expect those that read this will point out how wrong I am in my moment of honest reflection.  I am certain I'll continue being called a bully; insensitive; heartless; etc.  Go ahead, accuse me of that and more.  And while you continue calling me names I'll continue doing what I do to show love to those needing love.  Go ahead and look for my imperfections; I'll continue giving of myself.

For all the assumptions made about me and my insensitive actions; it's what isn't seen that really matters (as it does for you as well).  It's me volunteering time to kids; giving tickets to concerts to those who are trying with all they have to keep their grandchildren out of jail; showing compassion to a patient that has just learned they have cancer; helping someone reach something off the top shelf at the grocery store; praying with friends when they call asking for their nerves to be calmed.  I'll continue doing things in private without expectation of a thanks/recognition.

So thank you for your harsh words.  They have made me a better person.  Hopefully they will make you a better person as well.  And as for that pedestal you apparently put me on, I won't apologize for falling off.  I don't want to be up there.  I want to be on the same plane as you, as the homeless, as the janitor at your church.  If you want me up there, don't worry, Demon Hunter has a great song explaining that I will fail.  Lastly, know that despite the harsh words, I still love you as a friend; a person that adds value to my life.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Friendship Confession

Friendships make life beautiful.  They fill our lives with laughter, tears and celebrations.  From the mere acquaintance to the lifelong friend we are continually gaining and parting with friends.  Some friendships are for a short season; gone after someone moves.  Other friends stick with you despite the miles; family vacations include visits with these individuals and it's as if time never passed and the stories and laughter pick up where they left off the last time you saw each other.  Still other friendships are everyday; nightly drinks, phone calls, weekly dinners are all a part of this family bond you hold.  Each relationship is special in its own right.  We wouldn't be who we are today without those friendships.  If you are reading this it might be because we call each other friend or acquaintance.  Regardless, you are a part of my life, and I a part of yours.

But, I must confess something.  It's kind of a twofold confession.  It's something I've known but attempted to push it aside.  However, over the last few months I have come to the point where I must change a few things.  All good changes.  Maybe not comfortable changes and certainly not expected for some.  Changes though that must be made.

See, I love friendships.  I love talking to people and building that relationship. I meet some fascinating people in my job. I don't mind talking to strangers and getting to know that individual.  I'm fascinated by peoples stories.  I enjoy the process of getting to know people and them knowing me.  But, once I know you and have a relationship with you, I kinda become a horrible friend.

Allow me to clarify terrible friend status. I am a good friend; when sitting with people, when talking to them on the phone or over a cup of coffee.  I'll give you the shirt off my back if that is what you need.  If you call needing a listening ear, I've got two of them and will lend them anytime you have burdens or triumphs you desire to share.  I've got a home that I'll share to help keep you warm; food and water to give if you need a meal; whatever I have I will gladly share.  If you are a person of faith, I'll pray with and for you on a moments notice.  Yes, these qualities prove I'm a fairly good friend.  However, there is another side of any friendship that I'm not good at.

I suck at calling you to see how life is going.  I'm horrible about just stopping by to make sure you're still breathing.  Your name may run through my complicated mind for days on end, but I'll fail in discovering why.  You may be the silent type rarely asking for anything and I'll allow months to pass by before I see you and inquire about your daily goings on.  You may be going through divorce, a family illness or job uncertainty and unless you call me and tell me...I'm kind of a big jerk.

This discovery isn't new. I've confessed it before to a friend.  I'll say it again in the future.  But, the pain of admitting it while on vacation kinda got to me.  God finally convinced me I have to improve.  I have to be intentional in any communication with friends.  You shouldn't have to be the one reaching out for someone to listen to you, cry with you, laugh with, etc.  I have to be better.  I will be better.

Please, accept my apology for being a horrible friend.  If there is anything I work on this year, it is to be a better person in my relationships.  Continue calling/texting/messaging me, but I want to reciprocate those check ins.

Now, off to be the better friend I want to be.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

God Never Gives Us More...Yes He Does

Happy New Year everyone.  I could easily write about the bringing in of 2018, the resolutions, the anticipation of something new and what fresh start lies ahead.  But that would be cliche of me.  You would probably just read a paragraph or two and chalk up this blog to another dreamer wishing everyone prosperity; reality stares all of us in the face knowing that some of us will fail at our resolutions, struggle with finances and face the loss of a loved one.

Over the last year my family has faced the loss of loved ones; the celebration of graduation; health scares; deteriorating health; job challenges; the list could go on, but you certainly understand.  You've been there too.  You might have faced worse or even better.  I pray that 2017 was everything you hoped it would be and 2018 holds as much greatness for you as you anticipate.

Now, here is where I hit you with some reality and some thought provoking.  What is your first thought when hardships hit?  What about tragedy?  How about the loss of a loved one when you expect it due to health?  Every situation probably comes with its own set of emotions.  I know that my state of mind is fairly broad when it comes to these situations.  At the end of 2016 that emotion was heartbreak after the first thought of, "Damn."  In 2014, when tragedy hit my hometown I was overcome with fear and confusion followed by that same word, "Damn."  In 2011 there was fear and a sense of helplessness.  Last year saw two family members with health scares.  Both times I was calm.  I knew age was and is catching up to those I love.  None of these instances were easy; the emotions were valid no matter which end of the spectrum I found myself on.

When you discuss those emotions with your circle of family and friends, what words of support do they provide?  I hope they cry with you.  I hope they hug you.  I pray they don't turn and run (which I do know happens).  But, there is one line that I hear all the time that I want to focus on.  It is a line that seems true when said and is meant in comfort.  However, I can find no confirmation of its validity.  I say this knowing I might be run out of churches and lose friends or considered to be losing my faith.  Before that happens, hear me out.  The line, "God will never give you more than you can handle."  I find this line cheap, insincere and unscriptural. 

Go ahead, tell me I've lost my faith.  Question what scripture I've been reading.  Then, show me where is scripture it tells us God gives us just enough to bend but not break.  If you can show me, then I'll accept that phrase at face value.  Rest assured though you will fail. 

Case studies for my belief in the falsehood of the statement.  1) Job: He lost his family; his wealth; his home; his friends told him God hated him and then left him; his health deteriorated; he was a shadow of himself.  I am sold on the fact he had a hard time handling this hardship.  2) Moses: He wandered the land for a few years (40 to be close to exact).  He lead a nations people after arguing with God.  3) John: Imprisoned; sent to Patmos to live as an exile; given dreams he never asked for (at least as I believe).  All three men loved by God.  I don't think they thought they could handle what was dealt to them.  All of them probably questioned what was happening.  I wouldn't find it hard to imagine them doubting God's presence or his love of them.  I also think they all wanted to have their Bruce Almighty moment - you know, the one in the beginning when he yells at God, "Smite me or mighty smiter!"  But, with all these instances, I don't see once where God allowed the trials to be easy.

What I do believe is that God allows for our hardships to be just that.  They are hard.  They should make you question things.  I believe it's okay to even give God that big ole fist and say, "What the hell are you doing?!?!?"  That belief is based on the fact that without that, we aren't learning how to trust him.  He wants us to cast our cares on him.  He wants us to talk to him about our feelings.  He wants us to get frustrated with our plights.  Most importantly, he desires us to get out of our own way and allow him to handle what we can't.  Why?  Because, we're not God.  We can't part a sea.  We can't walk on water.  We can't cause walls to fall with our own strength.  We just aren't that big. 

So please, show me where the Bible says God won't give us more than we can handle.  If you find that, then you'll also find where God wants us to do things on our own without him.  You'll see where he makes us little gods ourselves; and where Lucifer wasn't kicked out of Heaven.

When 2018 begins to give you a few lemons, go ahead, ask God to give you lemonade.  When you start seeing a loved ones health fade, know that God will comfort you.  If cancer begins to take over your body go ahead and wonder why; ask God, "What the hell are you doing?"  Get mad!  But, never feel as if you have to go at life alone.  God allows more than you can handle, simply so you can learn to lean on him more.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Nose Knows

Who knew that a simple book from many of our childhoods would be stuck in my mind currently.  A book about a nose, or many noses.  Whatever the case, I have a Dr. Seuss Brigh & Early book stuck in my head, written by Al Perkins.  It's about a nose.  The beauty of a nose, and how awesome these things between our eyes are.

Well, one problem.  My nose isn't so friendly to me.  I haven't been blessed with the ability to smell a rose, a pie or chicken a la' king.  More over, mine sniffles (a lot) and tends to get burned.  I've lived with it.  Allergy misery, red color pain from the sun, and the deviated septum from the many times I've blown said nose, had the chronic sinusitus and whatever else causes such fun.

Why do I write about this?  Because I've entered the realm of the nose job people.  Except my nose job wasn't done to improve looks (Brittney Spears/Ashton Kutcher) or change appearance (Bruce Jenner).  Mine was done so I could smell the rose, pie and chicke a la' king.  It was done so I didn't have constant sniffles.  Mine was done to fix the deviated septum.  But, my nose job hurts just like the above celebrities does.  I still can't breath just yet, and my nose is swollen.  But, I have hope that I'll be able to smell again, as well as breath a little easier.

All in all, I have hope this surgery goes as well for me as it has gone for Britt Britt, with out the smaller shapely part of her nose job.

Oh, and enjoy this fun little nose song.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Agony of a Musician, Manager and Promoter

Where were you on October 1st, 2017 at about 10pm PST?  Most of us were probably in bed, especially those on the east coast.  The evening news had all but wrapped up for most of the country with the left coast news about ready to hit the airwaves, if not already on.  Me, I was in bed.  The quiet confines of my house in a relatively quiet little city.  My phone chimed with a news alert.  Not typically inclined to go down the rabbit hole of news at this time of night, I quickly looked at the headline and nearly put down my phone.  Then another news notification.  I again, looked at the headline.  My interest was piqued.  I went and read a story.  I then hopped over to Twitter to see what was being said.  No sooner did I see one post, there was another...and another...and another...with videos.  In my moments of trying to go to sleep I was lying there, shocked by the videos and twitter posts.  I was watching and reading of another moment in my life I will never forget where I was.  I was going to bed the night the lives of thousands at a concert in Las Vegas had changed forever.  A music festival was now the sight of terror, filled with horror and mass chaos.  Wow!  I had now words.

I woke this morning immediately checking my phone for the latest news.  More videos, more stories and more questions.  I got to work, opened my computer, and watched the news for just a few minutes.  The words to describe what I saw and heard are many, and yet not enough.  My shock and disbelief turned to anger.  I was enraged that someone could be so heartless.  Angry that a single person held so much hate in their hearts.  I found myself in a pretty bad spot.  The spot between shock and anger with hints of hate.  That wasn't me.  So I turned my thoughts to the artists, the stagehands, the roadies, first responders and officers.  That is me.  I'm a member of this industry.  My wife is a first responder.  My son has dreams to play baseball and do music.  My daughter has dreams to be a photographer, which she hopes places her at these types of events.  In short, this is my family now and in the future!  Now how do I respond?

What are my friends who perform nightly thinking now?  Every single night they get on stage, entertain people, sing their hearts out for those in attendance and then stay well after they're off stage talking to anyone wanting an autograph/picture/t-shirt.  These are the nicest people you'll ever meet.  They sacrifice family time phone calls, dinners and sleep just to make someones day special.  But what will they do?  Will they stay late?  Will they be afraid to step on stage?

I'm a promoter with promoter friends.  They do this all the time.  They open the doors to venues so people can attend a concert with their favorite artists.  From before set up to well after the bands load up and move on the the next show, your promoter works nonstop to make sure those in attendance are safe, relaxed and having fun.  They work to ensure the artists are well hydrated, fed and filled with coffee/energy drink/water, and relaxed so they can entertain every one that walks through the door that night.  This great group of folks will walk the facility to make sure doors are closed that should be, artist only areas are roped off as needed, security is in place, merch people are ready to sell, and so on.  Every last detail falls on their shoulders and not a single thing goes on without their permission.  There will be glitches on the night of the show, unhappy people attending a concert their favorite artist had to back out of at the last minute, people mad because there was not enough pop at the concession stand or something; but these folks - promoters know that with a little compassion, understanding and quick thinking, the unhappy and disappointed will soon be thankful for attending the event.  Your promoter is a friend to all.  But do they move on to the next concert?  Could the concert they promote be the next Las Vegas?

Over the years I've worked with some great managers.  They work for the artist and the best interest of the team.  They attend weddings, graduations, a child's 1st birthday party, album release parties and more.  When bands first start out and can't pay a manager, these people will still work because they want to see the reward they know their band/artist will get with performing for fans.  Large or small, they don't care about the popularity or pay (though the pay can be wonderful), they too get excited to see the fans singing along at concerts even though they may be at home while the concert is hundreds of miles away.  They know the heartbreak their artists go through when away from home, how hard it is to miss a child's birthday, an anniversary date or the daughters first softball game.  But, they also get to experience the sound of relief/ecitement from their artist when family homes are spared during a tornado, their mom beats breast cancer and their sibling gets married.  But do they assure their artist the summer festival tour will be safe?  That the arena will have adequate security?  More importantly, how do they prepare their artist to safely leave a stage when something goes wrong?

I certainly don't have the answers to the questions I've asked.  My heart hurts for those who lost loved ones.  I know people that live in Las Vegas that are asking these very questions and more.  I am pretty sure I knew someone that knew someone in attendance Sunday night.  A friend from years gone by was suppose to be working the concert but circumstances kept him home.  My heart is in pain for the survivors.  I asked my wife, if in attendance, would she have been running back into harms way to save others.  I knew the answer, but I had to hear it from her.  "Yes!"  And I was thankful to hear that from her.  But at the same time, it scares me.  Scares me to know that at any given moment, that here in Cheyenne, a concert that my friends and I are promoting or attending could be the next spot this happens.  I could be on vacation attending a festival, just like those in Las Vegas, and I could be helping my wife help others escape terror.  But fear is not something I will let win.

My family, friends and partners in the music industry can't see fear as winning.  If I can be a person of hope for them, then I'm ready.  As Paul wrote in Philippians 3 regarding him having no confidence in the flesh, I too strive to have confidence in Christ instead of flesh.  Then, in Philippians 4 he tells us to rejoice!  Wait a second!  I can't rejoice in this terror.  True, I'm not, but I am rejoicing in seeing neighbor helping neighbor.  I rejoice that stranger has helped stranger, celebrity musicians pulling people to safety, a school teacher helping the elderly and so on.  That is something that no race, creed or affiliation can deny - people helping people.  I'm choosing to not be anxious about this.  I'm choosing to follow Paul's plea in Philippians 4:8 and dwell on the pure, noble, lovely and admirable.  I know it won't be easy.  I know that Las Vegas will change the way the music industry practices many things.  But...

Fear, you suck.  Terror, you're horrible.  Cowards, you have no place in this world.  As I type this, the tears are running.  In my world, my partners and I choose to tell these three things, "Screw you!"  We will continue to offer hope to a lost world.  We will continue to support our friends as they travel across the world sharing hope.  We will provide a place for artists to come, turn up the volume and rock our world.  Why?  Because, that's what we are called to do.  That's what the scared child in all of us is begging us to do.  It's what the world needs us to do.  It's what God has asked us to do.  It may cost us a ton, including everything (again, more words from Paul), but I know I'm not alone in this.  Thankfully, I have a pretty large music industry family that has my back all while I have theirs.

From me, and on behalf of my friends and family in the industry, I bid fear, terror, regret and anxiousness a fond farewell.  We are better because of these last few days.  We are stronger because of you.  And most importantly, we know you will never win because we know the God who is kicking you square in the teeth and taking your name.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Foods You Love and The Work You Do

Your childhood is formed in your surroundings.  You don't know what the big city lights hold when living in a rural area.  Nor do you know the great independence county living holds when you grow up in the burbs of a large metropolis.  Once in a while you get to experience a little of the other on family vacations.  Those excursions are awesome!  Lifetime memories.  Then, you reach your teen years, gain some freedom and can determine which surrounding you desire.  Great times are made with friends and family.  Soon, you're ready to venture out on your own full time.  City life suits you so you stay near your suburb home you grew up in.  Maybe you are just sick of the small town feel and you have to experience the bright lights of a city that rarely sleeps.  Of course, if you're like me, the big city is fun, but you want to escape to open spaces.  You need room so you head for the hills and find the least populated city you can think of, even if it is the state you grew up.  Some familiarity but away from it all.  I get it, and I don't blame anyone for choosing your home surroundings once adulthood sets in.  But, this post isn't about physical surroundings of growing up.  Rather, it is what you grow up consuming for nourishment.  No, it's not a normal food discussion either.  So, buckle up for the adventure of the food you may love and how it just might become something you will soon become nauseous at the thought of consuming it.

I grew up in a small town north of Seattle.  That town was famous for farms and strawberries.  We celebrated the greatness of strawberries by eating them nearly year round.  But the best ones were always fresh from the fields just south and north of town.  It seemed all of my friends had a summer job picking strawberries once they graduated elementary school (5th grade there).  Outside of not having a few extra bucks, I'm kinda thankful I never held that job.  Not that I didn't like work, especially since I usually did random yard work for my moms boss.  It's because I also had a job come up at home that seemed as if it lasted months.  It was a job that I'm thankful for, where my brother and I learned a lot of life skills.  However, it is safe to say that neither of us have the appreciation of the fruits of this particular job provided.  And because of living in a town painted in strawberries, and learning the intricacies of all things apples, I have stories to tell and certain foods that cause trembling upon the thought of consuming.

Let's begin with the plantation I spent my high school days living on.  Yes, just north of Seattle and in what was almost the exact middle of town, there was a plantation.  It wasn't a big one, but there were a lot of apple trees.  And a lot of pear trees.  Crab apple trees were in the mix too.  The first year we lived there we soon learned those trees produced...a lot.  I don't know that the local Safeway store could keep up with our stock.  We couldn't give enough of these delicious gems away.  Bags upon bags of each lined our kitchen.  That isn't including what was lost on the ground.  What we couldn't give away, we used. Everything we ate consisted of pears or apples.  Fried, raw, chopped, stirred in, smashed and more.  Main dish, side dish or desert, breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack.  There was no wrong way or bad time to consume an apple or pear.  My parents (mainly my dad) went as far as to go get an apple press to aid in making applesauce.  We had pancakes with chopped apples topped with applesauce.  There were fried and candied pears to top the ice cream.  Apple crisp, applesauce on port chops and just about any combination you could think of.  We even made applesauce to give to friends.  If we weren't giving it to them, we had them over to help us consume the stuff.  Even after I moved out of the house, I had to deal with apples (the house I moved to had just as many apples that I was dumb enough to take to my parents if I didn't sell them or give them away).

Fast forward to strawberries and the annual Strawberry Festival.  An annual week long event that we attended parts of.  Go Kart rides/races, a parade, carnival, bed races and more.  The festival was punctuated by strawberry shortcake.  Growing up I loved everything the festival held.  Then I volunteered for a few years as an adult.  It was great learning how to organize a small portion of the festival.  I made great friends for that part of my life.  I was able to share that time with family, and even saw my brother and father get involved.  It was awesome!  Then, in the middle of another dreary and drizzly Seattle day, I decided to help the Festival Strawberry Shortcake booth.  I gladly accepted a free shortcake to help promote the food we were celebrating.  Then I had another bowl of goodness...and another...and another...By the time 11am rolled around (about 3 hours after the 1st bowl of shortcake) I had consumed at least 6 bowls of fresh strawberry shortcake.  That was Friday.  I can't confirm I had more that afternoon.  I don't remember much about Saturday (except the lightning, canceling the parade, and telling someone that standing under a metal water tower would not help protect them in a lightning storm), but I'm pretty sure I did have more shortcake.

What does all this nonsense  mean?  Why am I writing about it?  Will it make a difference for you and your life?  Outside of a few chuckles, it probably won't impact you much at all.  This may be more therapeutic than anything.  BUT, it's also to give you a little background into my life.

I know how to harvest apples (and "accidentally" miss the bag to hit your dad on the head).  I've learned to eat what is available, even if it is just slightly different than the meal before.  I know how to make different things from one simple fruit.  Yes, a simple apple can teach you all that and more if you give it a chance.  It can also teach you how to come together as a family, how to be generous, be a good host, and most importantly, how to make the most of every situation.  Better stated - it gave me the ultimate knowledge that I have to choose my attitude.  Yup, a simple apple taught me all that.

The strawberry gave me just as much knowledge.  It taught me how to help friends and strangers.  It gave me limited organizational skills (I'm still learning this).  I learned how to make sure electric cords weren't strung through puddles, how to keep people safe at all times, notice the small things affecting my surroundings and to appreciate a free meal (or seven) even when it is the same as the last.  I saw families be a family for one week a year.  I saw how to run a festival and how to work with the masses to make something special.  It provided great life lessons.  Yes, a small red fruit gave me a lifetime of memories and lessons, just different enough to add to all I learned from an apple.

I may loathe applesauce now.  I may shudder at the thought of eating strawberry shortcake.  I may never volunteer to taste your beautiful looking and probably great apple or strawberry pie, but I will admire your work.  Sure, a fresh apple is great, but I have to dip it in caramel sauce in order to get it down without choking it down.  Yes, I'll have some strawberry shortcake, but it will only be once a year, twice if you're lucky.  If I have to have toast with strawberry jam, rest assured I asked for something else first.  I'll still eat apple crisp, but I hope there is some vanilla ice cream to top it with.  I love these great fruits.  I just have a hard time looking at them without bringing up some wonderful and sometimes dark memories.

As I discussed this very thing with my brother, these are some very dark roads for me.  But, I can't be who I am without these roads in life.  I am appreciative of what these two (three if you add the pears) fruits taught me.  I kinda miss not having those apple trees to help my two children learn what I've learned.  Okay, I really don't miss the trees or mass amounts of applesauce, but I do miss everything that went into the products of that small plantation I called home for many year.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Mirror Imaging in Music

Music is an integral part of my life.  Yes, I'm sure I've said it before, so that line might sound like a broken record.  Yet, I think it important to confirm.  From a pure entertainment standpoint to a part of my professional life, music is something I don't think I'll ever escape from its clutches.  Not that I currently want to, nor foresee me wanting to, but just in case the desire arises, it just isn't going to happen.

Music was an escape for me while I was growing up.  I would sit in my room blaring music loud enough to drive my parents crazy.  Despite the loud obnoxious sound emanating from my stereo, my parents would only encourage me to turn down the sound.  Never were there discouraging words towards my music.  In fact, they encouraged me to discover my likes, my passions, my dislikes and even somehow supported my "rebellion" through the music.  My brother wrote about being an outcast in his youth group, mostly because of music.  Sadly, I think I set that musical outcast precedence due to my musical tastes that gave me the "rebellious" label.  I listened to Stryper, Petra, Bloodgood and the even harder stuff.  I listened to P.I.D., Gospel Gangstaz and E.T.W, as well as other rap groups of early Christian Hip/Hop movement.  It was this rebellion in music that has put me where I am today.

I'm deeply involved in various music ventures.  I'm a part of a group of rag tag guys and gals that promote concerts in Cheyenne.  Yeah, even here, with this group of great individuals, my rebellious musical tastes show since we promote non typical Christian music.  I'm a manager/booking agent.  I freelance write, and soon I'll be co-hosting a podcast.  Music is a part of me.  More than all of the above, I'm also excited to see what my son creates in his musical endeavors.  Yes, even he is writing music, produced a video and enjoys just singing along with his Pandora stations.  

Lastly, my daughter enjoys listening to music.  Her musical tastes aren't large, but she is my rocker chick.  She'll go with me to any concert, anywhere, on any given moments notice.  

Music is becoming a reflection of not just myself, but also my family.  We continually seek something fresh, something new, something that we can enjoy and seek the much needed escape it can be.  My Facebook page cover photo states, "Music is my drug cause it heals my scars."  That statement is so true.  I find healing, comfort and yes, even God in the music I select (it doesn't have to be Christian music for me to see God).

Today, I have found that refreshing music.  Something new, something fresh.  It was what I needed.  I find that this finding is reflective of what I need as a person, and we as people often seek.  New, refreshing and entertaining.  We want a renewal when work becomes too burdensome.  Some of us seek new on a daily basis, a quest for adrenaline.  All of us want to be entertained to help us forget the hardships of the day.  So, what I thought was just a simple refreshing new album also provided a chance to refresh and reflect on how my music desires and tastes are actually a reflection of life as a whole.