Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Top 5 Tuesday!

I'm back from Talent Quest Nationals and almost recovered, but not enough to blog like I want so I'm going to start a running theme for Tuesdays........a Top 5!

I'd love it hear what your top 5 answers are......and while you're at it, invite your other blog friends to drop by and participate!

Top 5 songs you could put on "repeat" and never get tired of:

1. The Way I Am by Ingrid Michaelson
2. Beautiful Day by U2
3. Hide and Seek by Imogen Heap
4. Northern Star by Alice Peacock (well, any song by Alice would work here!)
5. A Case of You by Joni Mitchell

I could list more, but today, at this moment, these are my Top 5 picks!

Tell me yours!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Talent Quest- Mid-Week Update

Things are going really well! I haven't had to use my Happy List at all this week and I really don't anticipate having to use it at all this week. I'm really happy that I seem to be mellowing with age (like a cheese?!?) and it certainly makes life much more enjoyable!

I'm sorry my posts have been sporadic and short the past two weeks, but sometimes life just starts rolling and builds up too much steam and by the end of the day there's no time left for blogging.

Here's a performance by one of my favorites who participates every year. He's got a great voice and a really big heart.

Enjoy Raydog's performance of Don't Stop Believing

Monday, September 22, 2008

Let the Music Play!

Well......I made it to Laughlin, NV and have made it through the registration and orientation for Talent Quest Nationals 2009! We've got another great group of singers from all over the globe. We have several singers from New Zealand, six from Canada, one from Russia and another from Guam!

The contest grows every year and, if I do say myself, continues to improve. So far we're just over halfway through the first round of competition in the female categories. By the time my head hits the pillow tonight, I will have heard 120 singers!

Although I have no desire to be a performer, music plays such a big role in my life. I can tie a song to all the great moments in my life and many a song can take me back to the glory days of high school and college in an instant! I'm a sucker for good lyrics and if you add a killer bridge to a song, I'm in heaven! Even the worst of the singers in any competition have my adimiration for getting on the stage and doing what they feel in their heart.

You can pour your soul out singing
a song you believe in
that tomorrow they’ll forget you ever sang
Sing it anyway,
sing it anyway

I sing,
I dream,
I love,

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Starlight Manifesto

I've mentioned it before and I'm sure I'll mention it a million more times in future blogs, but my mother is probably the wisest person I know. She peppered my upbringing with so many great lesson which have stayed with me and helped me in every aspect of my life.

Destiny has not led me down a path that included children of my own (although my life has been richly blessed with 9 nephews, 3 nieces and 2 godchildren) but that hasn't kept me from using the lessons my mother taught me and passing them along to others.

Not everything I pass along to friends is directly from my mother, but all things in my own life philosphy were directly shaped by her love and wisdom. One of the things I share most often is what I call the Starlight Manifesto. On the surface, it seems a very nebulous kind of advice, but over the years I've learned it applies to every aspect of my life and by using as a type of "mantra" has helped me to keep an even keel and avoid some bad life choices.

I feel the manifsto is self-explanitory, so this post won't be very long. I leave you with the words I've repeated to myself and friends more time than I can count. It's short and easy to commit to memory......take some time to think about it after you finish reading this post, but I'd love to hear your thoughts. If you have your own type of maifesto, I'd love to hear about it!

The Starlight Mainfesto:
It is what it is-
We are what we are-
I can only be myself.

Monday, September 15, 2008

What the Heck is Talent Quest?!?

The birthday festivities really messed up my blogging schedule, but I think I should be back on track!

So....Talent Quest. Just what is it?!? Talent Quest is a national karaoke and singing competition.

As I've mentioned before, my friends and I love karaoke. Actually, we love to sing and karaoke is just a natural fit if one loves to sing and doesn't have a spare band lying around. But for my friends and me, karaoke has been the catalyst for so many things in our lives over the past 7 to 8 years. There have been births, marriages, national successes and even deaths among our dear karaoke family and life would not be the same without it in my life.

Six years ago (or maybe it was seven......how many was it Jess?) My friend Jessica entered a local karaoke contest for a chance to win a trip to the national contest and a shot at the national title. That single act started a progression of events that brought many new experiences and friends into our lives.

Jessica ended up going to nationals the next 3 years and showed everyone else what a susperstar we always knew she was! She won the National Female Country award in 2004! During her 3 years of national competition she started working for Kim who owned a local karaoke store and who also organized and ran the local and regional qualifing contests for Talent Quest. When Kim was looking for judges, Jessica suggested me.

I started judging at the local contests in 2003 and one thing has led to another and I'm now the Regional Director for Talent Quest. It's a volunteer gig, but it's so excitind to be around people who love to sing and enjoy a good competition. Nationals take place every fall (usually in September) in Laughlin, NV at the Tropicana Express. It'll be eight days packed with lots of work, millions of questions (I'll be wokring the information table for most of the competition) and TONS of music! But don't be fooled......I love every minute of it!

Jessica had to retire from competing because her in-laws are now part owners of the competition, but I keep holding on to the hope that she'll decided to come on-board and help in the future (although I totally understand why she hasn't done it yet).

If you love to sing and want to know more about Talent Quest or would like to find a TQ contest in your area, visit the Talent Quest website and check it out. I'll be at nationals all next week, but I should be able to blog everyday while I'm there....I can't wait!!!!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

My Top 5-ers!

For about a year I've been part of an e-mail group. We call ourselves the Top 5 Friends because that's what we e-mail about. When we first started the group, you never knew what would be waiting in your inbox in the morning when arriving at work but it would always be fun and insightful. Here are some examples of some of our past top 5 topics. (feel free to list your top 5 picks for any of these in your comment post! Oh! Maybe I should pick a day of the week to dedicate to a Top 5 interactive blog post!)

  • Top 5 Songs you'd put on the soundtrack of your life.

  • Top 5 Things to do/place to do when the ice storm leaves you with out power.

  • Top 5 songs you hate but always find yourself singing when they play on the radio.

  • Top 5 favorite lines from songs

  • Top 5 favorite childhood memories

So, you get the idea. We used to have a Top 5 everyday, but we've gotten a little out of the habit so I was surprised to see a Top 5 e-mail pop up in my inbox yesterday. It was sent by my best friend, Jessica, and here's what it said:

"So today marks the beginning of Heather's 2008 Birthday Blitz. I thought it would be appropro to dedicate today's top five to her.
Here (in no particular order) are five songs that will always be irrevocably tied to Heather in my brain. These are the songs I can not hear without thinking of her"

It was so touching......and I'm not really sure why other than the fact that it's nice to have a group of friends like my Top 5 group. As always, the responses were fun and insightful and particularly appropriate since we would be going out for karaoke that evening.

I've been doing a pretty good job blogging everyday, but last night, there just wasn't time to fit a blog into my day, but we had a great time last night and I can't think of any other way I'd rather kick off my Birthday Extravaganza!

Here are some pictures.....there maybe some video I can post later!

Headed out to sing!
My best friend, Jessica!
Chrissy and DeAnna

Renea and me!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Looking Forward!

Wow! Today has been so busy and the birthday festivities haven't even begun!

I'm really going to try and post everyday this week, but the posts might be very late-night/early-morning posts.

I should have pictures of karaoke fun and antics with my friends, an update on the fine/warrant situation, tales of food and fun from the fair AND........

......pictures form the sold-out American Idol concert in Tulsa!!! That's right, I'm going to see David Cook and the others! I'm not a huge AI fan, but I could just eat that David with a spoon. I've already made plans to pack my spoon just in case I get close enough to make it a reality.

Coming up in the next week or so, I'll be talking about Talent Quest (and explaining it for those who haven't heard of it yet) and talking about the Starlight Manifesto!

I'm so excited about all the b-day fun that's about to begin!

Monday, September 8, 2008

How Did I End Up Here?!?

In my family, birthday's are special, family events. As a young child, birthday celebrations were a time for my grandparents, parents and sibilings to celebrate with food and gifts. I attended the birthday parties of lots of school friends, but it never occured to me to invite outsiders to my birthday celebration. I imagine if we had asked to invite friends, my parents would have had no problem with it, but none of us ever needed that.....family was always enough!

Birthday celebrations always happened on the day of your birthday....even if it was during the week and on a school night. The family would gather for a special meal (menu chosen by the birthday girl or boy) and presents which would be followed closely by cake and ice cream.

This is a picture of me on my 6th birthday...please notice how happy I am about the Captain and Tennielle album I've just unwrapped! That's my Misser Sisser beside me......like I said, we were never apart. That's also my Grandma Cook's hand and my Grandpa Cook's legs. [I'll save the discussion of my unique sense of fashion for another blog.....]

Every year I would choose the same meal for my birthday dinner. Barbequed weiners, mashed potatoes and green beans. Just 2 weeks ago my mom made this meal for me when I was there for Labor Day weekend because I wouldn't be back to visit again before my birthday......yummy!

The family birthday dinner tradition hasn't changed in my almost 37 years of life.......so, it's hard to believe that for the past six years my birthday has turned into this:

The first time I had a weekend full of events for my birthday, it was a joke. I had gotten tired of trying to work with everyone's schedule, so I planned where I would be throughout my birthday weekend and printed a "Schedule of Events" on the back of my birthday invitations. People could join me any time throughout the weekend, whenever their schedule permitted.

It was such a hassle-free way to accommodate as many friend's schedules as possible and was so successful I've been doing it ever since. I often wonder what would happen if I went back to just one night out for my birthday.....but I doubt I'll be finding out anytime soon.

So many of my friends are like family to me, I guess it's not such a stretch from how I celebrate my birthday when I'm with family to how I celebrate when I'm with friends.......it just lasts a bit longer!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Waiting for the Fall

I'm still a bit tender over yesterday's bad news (you can read about it in the post below), but as I learned from reading Anne of Green Gables, "Each day is fresh with no mistakes in it". Being the eternal optimist, I'm pressing on. And, even if I can't find a silver lining, in the situation, I am clinging to the wisdom of my mother. The situation is what is is......throwing a fit or wallowing in self-pity won't change the situation, so I must move on.........

...starting here!

Fall in Oklahoma is sometimes a state of mind more than season. I mean, the weather doesn't necessarily start to cool off in a timely fashion around here. It's not uncommon to be wearing short sleeves at Thanksgiving, or a winter coat at a September football game. Even when it seems as if fall (all two weeks of it) has arrived for good, the Oklahoma heat will find a way to creep back in, at least once, before beating it's final retreat. Will Rogers said it best when he said, "If you don't like the weather, stick around". Truer words were never spoken about the Oklahoma climate and it's one of the things I love most about this state. But, even through the hot, humid days, it's starting to feel like fall!

College and high school football has started and the state fair starts on Thursday. We'll likely have several more weeks of some fairly hot days before I'll make a move to turn my air conditioner off, but I can tell it's getting nearer and I have that excited tingle in the pit of my stomach.

Here's a little poem I wrote many, many years ago that makes me think of fall.

The leaves have such an ideal life
attached to some strong tree.
If I could choose another life,
a leaf is what I'd be.
The leaf just hangs on day and night
and flutters in the wind,
Until one day it is ordained
he must fall to the ground
And his end.

Each day is fresh with no mistakes in it! Thank God for the brand new day!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Two Steps Forward, Three Steps Back

I spent the day with my friend, Jessica and her two wonderful kids. We didn't do anything special, but that is never necessary. We like hanging out. We did it a lot before the kids came along and we've done it a lot since they were born. Any day spent with them is always a good day to me.

BUT.....when I got home this evening and checked my mailbox, there was BAD, I mean BAD news.

Sometimes I'm my own worst enemy.......not because of any weird neuroses I have from things in my childhood that scarred me, but just because I don't use my head sometimes. It's maddening!!!

So, here's what happened. A month ago I made and illegal lane change and was pulled over. That's when, to my surprise, it was revealed to me that my license was suspended. Before you think I'm horrible, you can read about it here.

Needless to say, I was supposed to go to court on September 4th for the illegal lane change and the totally unwarranted-not-my-fault suspended license. Guess what?!?

I forgot.

When I opened my mail, there was a letter informing me that a warrant has been placed for my arrest (this is NOT a bench warrant). To clear the warrant, I have to pay $856.00.

What is my problem?!? I don't know if I would have had to pay that much had I remembered to show up on the 4th but it makes me even more angry at myself for not having shown up because I work across the street from the court house!

It's a good thing I don't have children......I can't even take care of myself.

The letter states I'm allowed to go before an arraignment court and ask for more time to pay [I have 15 days before they suspend my license (again, and this time with just cause)]. I'm just worried if they won't make an arrangement I'll have to go to jail from the arraignment court. Again, what is my problem?!?

Guess I'd better start organizing my possessions for a big-ass, money-raising, keep-Heather-out-of-jail, garage sale.

I suck and I want to cry because it's no one's fault but my own. Grown-up, schmown-up!

Friday, September 5, 2008

It's Time to Get Serious and Make a Committment

I've been blogging for 2 years, but only recently made the switch to blogger. I enjoyed a nice following of my blog on myspace and I would be lying if I said I didn't miss the readers who haven't or won't make the effort to click the links I've provided to this blog. I don't know if I'll ever gain back the readership (I hope I'm not making up words....) but I'm so glad my friend, Jessica, over at Fustian encouraged me to make the switch.

I've read blogs for years, but when I moved to blogger, I was plunged headlong into the world of blogging. It started with links to other blogs on blogger and then carried over into blogs found on the nebulous world wide web or recommendations from other friends who read blogs, etc......

I found The Pioneer Woman's blog through a suggestion from a friend and it's no exaggeration when I say I've become obsessed with reading through all of her archives and exploring the entire site! I've spent no less than 20 hours this week just reading and soaking it all in....it's such an entertaining, thought-provoking, beautiful blog I can't help myself! I've got a link to the blog at the right, so you should check it out....after you finish reading this.

Ree, the Pioneer woman herself, is raising 4 children on a working ranch and blogs every day. She post photos, recipes, poems, sound clips of some amazing burps and Ethel Merman impersonations. Along with all that, she often gives photography tips and always gives step-by-step instructions, with photos, of the recipes she shares. Oh...and I haven't even mentioned the photo naming contests (with prizes ranging from point and shoot digital cameras to $600 gift cards to Amazon.com and lots of things in between)! There's something for everyone on her site.

As a result of having spent so much time getting acquainted with the Pioneer Woman, I've become inspired. If she can blog everyday while taking care of her family, helping run a ranch , taking pictures and home-schooling her children, I'm clearly wasting my time.

I'm not sure if I'll have enough to say to post something everyday, but I'm certainly going to try.

It's time for me to get serious and make a commitment to this blog. I'm excited to see where it takes me!

Thanks for your outstanding and addictive blog, Ree!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Sisters, sisters; there were never such devoted sisters!

My sister Melissa (or my Misser Sisser) is one of my best friends. I came into her life before she was two. I was definitely a surprise to everyone, but lots of good things in life aren't planned.

My mother is very wise (probably the wisest person I know) and she had a plan for keeping her children from being jealous of new additions to the family. When Melissa was born, she told my oldest sister, Julie, "This is your baby, too. You will help me take care of her and protect her and love her." When I was born, my mother told Melissa the same thing about me and when my little brother came along, I finally had a baby of my own. I don't know if we would have been jealous of one another if my mother hadn't done this, but I do think we wouldn't be as close as we are.

Since Melissa and I were just a year apart we did almost everything together. I've never been without her and she has no memory of the year of her life before I was born. For years we shared a room (14 years to be exact) and shared clothes, toys, jewelry and anything else you can imagine. All of my fond childhood memories are inextricably intertwined with hers and we were never apart for more than 2 weeks until she left for college (I ended up at the same university the following year). I think I understand a tiny bit how twins must feel.

Our personalities are very different and our lives have taken totally different paths, but our closeness remains the same. She is the loving mother to 4 of my precious nieces and nephews and it has been so much fun to watch them grow. Her two oldest are girls and they are also just a year apart. I can't count the times she and I have sat together and watched her girls doing the same things we did as children.....it was like reliving our childhood! We've had many a laugh remembering things we thought were long forgotten.

I was so excited about spending the holiday weekend back in my hometown, I couldn't wait 'til I arrived Friday evening, so I called my sister that morning from my office. When she saw my number on her phone display she answered, "Oooooooh! I love you and can't wait until you get here!" As I told my friend, Jessica, that's so much nicer than hello! Even nicer than that, though, is knowing there is someone in the world who knows all of my faults (because she's seen them firsthand) and will always greet me like that when I call. I do the same for her and I know she finds comfort in our sister friendship because we never have to explain things to each other.....we just know. I cannot imagine my life without her!