Monday, December 24, 2012

Simple Gifts

Many of the best gifts I've been given have been simple, inexpensive and often intangible things. I don't think that's any sort of a coincidence. Why else would "It's the thought that counts" be so prevalent a saying in our culture?

Last year, a few days before Christmas my friend, The Emperor, posted this on the internet.
        What negative item would you like to purge for the New Year?
      Post it below and I'll burn the list on the beach on New Year's Eve.

I gave him a short, simple but very sincere request. Something I had been trying to purge from my life for years. Some posted funny and glib requests but many posted requests to be released from the pain of emotions, hurt feelings, broken hearts and lives.

On New Year's Eve, as the new year approached, The Emperor posted this:
                              Preparing to burn the past.

Seeing the printed list of the requests made me happy because it would have been so easy to post for requests but not actually burn them. I sat 1700 miles away in anticipation- even I was surprised at how hopeful I felt knowing that someone cared enough for his friends (real and virtual, old and new) to make this symbolic gesture on our behalf.

As the sun set on 2011, The Emperor posted this:
I burned all we needed to leave behind at the edge of the world. Happy New Year, my friends.

I'm pleased to say that the thing I requested to be burned, thus purging it from my life, was a resounding success! Not only that, but it was replaced by something 1,000 times better.  I realize this seems like a post about the New Year but, to me, it's about a gift given unselfishly by a thoughtful, new friend. It's one of the best gifts I've ever been given and I thank The Emperor for his loving kindness to his friends. 

I hope this Christmas brings you blessings of love, peace and friendship which carry you into next year and throughout the entire year. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

It's Beginning to Feel a lot like Christmas!

Maybe it's the cold front that has moved in and lowered the temps, but I finally woke up this morning feeling  like it really is just about 2 weeks until Christmas. I've spent the last two weekends watching all of my favorite Christmas shows and movies in an effort to motivate me to get moving on procuring the load of gifts I'll need for my precious nieces and nephews, but there's nothing like cool, crisp air to tip the scale towards full on peace and goodwill!

To celebrate the festive mood I'm in, I'm going to share my Christmas Virtual Mix Tape (this make vol. 4, I believe). Enjoy!

(Most of these songs are chosen because they remind me of so many Christmases past and the feeling of family and togetherness Christmas always makes me feel.)

The Christmas Tree who Ran Away- When I was little, I would listen to this song over and over again on my little portable record player!

Christmas Song (Alvin and the Chipmunks)- I loved this whole album and can remember listening to it (and dozens of others) as we would decorate the tree and house for Christmas!

I'll be Home for Christmas (The Lennon Sisters)- I have always loved the Lennon Sisters...probably because my grandparents always watched the Lawrence Welk Show, but also because I've always loved to sing harmony! This song became even dearer to me when I was away at college and is tied up with so many memories from those wonderful years.

Blue Christmas (Elvis Presley)- It wouldn't be Christmas at our house without Elvis!

The 12 Days of Christmas (John Denver and the Muppets)- No holiday would be complete without the Muppets! We had this cassette and would listen to it in the car and all sing along!

Home for the Holidays (Perry Como)- Another favorite of the many Christmas albums we would listen to when I was a child, but this song became so much more meaningful when I was in college.

Adeste Fideles (Bing Crosby)- Probably my favorite traditional Christmas song. I can remember lying beneath the tree and looking up at the lights and listening to this. Perfect Christmas memory!

River (cover by Heart)-  It was a tough call which version to include in this blog as I really love the original, but because the Road Home album is so meaningful to me, I decided to use Heart's beautiful cover of this song. The holiday can be a sad time for so many and there are a few melancholy songs I love despite the dark tone of the lyrics....this is one.

The Fruitcake Song- For three of my years in college I had the privilege of being one of the singers asked to lead the Feast of the Boar's Head at our university. I didn't mind the extra rehearsals or dressing up in medieval garb. There was plenty of beautiful and meaningful music, but this song just reminds me of Christmas, good food, finals being over and winter break looming on the horizon. I'm sure somewhere in the archives of my alma mater is a recording of our group leading the Feast, but this will have to suffice in its stead.

For Unto Us a Child is Born (from Handel's Messiah)- Midway through the first part and at the end of the scene 3 is one of the most beautiful proclamations I've ever heard!

Do the Know it's Christmas (Band Aid)- Of course I had to have an 80s song in the just wouldn't have been right without one. In addition to taking me back to my junior high days when I was sooooo in love with Duran Duran, it makes me think of an awesome group of friends that took on this song as the finale for our Tunes for Tots toy drive several years ago. Anyway, enjoy all the mullets and baby faces in this video. Laugh at Sting singing "bitter sting of tears" and Bono taking a back seat to Simon LeBon. This video is awesome!

I hope you enjoyed my Holiday Virtual Mix Tape! Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Better Late than Never

Well, there's nothing like coming screeching in on 2 wheels, posting my annual missive the day before Thanksgiving about the things for which I am thankful. It has been a year full of change and there are many reasons to be full of thanks.

- I am thankful that 2012 was such a great year!
- I am thankful my move away from my beloved OKC has been such a rewarding experience.
- I am thankful my beloved OKC is close enough to visit often.
- I am thankful for my eternal optimism.
- I am thankful for my family (especially my nieces and nephews).
- I am thankful for the opportunity to get to spend more time with my nieces. They are incredible, young women who make me smile and laugh on a daily basis.
- I am thankful for a simple life.
- I am thankful to be a business owner.
- I am thankful for my TQ family. (many new people added to the list this year!)
- I am thankful for my best friends. They make my life entertaining.

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you're spending it the way I am.....surrounded by love!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Top of the World

Twenty days past the 10 year anniversary of one of the most excellent and spiritual concert experiences, I returned to the same theatre for another life-changing concert experience.

I finally got to see Patty Griffin live and have scratched a major item off my bucket list.

While this experience was every bit as spiritual as the Little Earthquakes show, it was so different. This was the first time in nearly 12 years that Patty has toured by herself; not with a band, not backing up any of her super-famous singing friends- just Patty, a piano and her guitars.

This was a dream come true for me and I got to share it with people I love and who totally understood how special this was going to be. I have loved Patty since a friend shared a track from Living with Ghosts with me. I was blown away by the beauty of the music and that was just the beginning. At that time I couldn't have imagined Flaming Red, 1000 Kisses, A Kiss in Time and then the heart-breaking beauty of Impossible Dream. I have a feeling that will always be my all-time favorite Patty album because of how deeply I feel every track.

There's no way listening to Patty sing from the 7th row could be disappointing. But, as with any artist who has a large catalog of songs from which to choose when planning a set list, not everyone will hear everything they want to hear. There were 3 songs I really wanted to hear live, but I knew I would be fine as long as she sang When it Don't Come Easy. Sadly, she didn't include it in her set list for the Sooner Theatre show, but it's okay. She wrote the song, put it out in the universe for me to enjoy for the rest of my life along with all of her other work. She even played a couple of songs from the upcoming 2013 album!

And, at the end of a very cold wait after the concert, I got to meet her! Absolutely a stellar night!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

What Every Contestant Should Understand about their Score

It's that time of year again for me......that time when the scores from nationals are being posted on the Talent Quest website and individual contestants are receiving the breakdown of their scores via email. Inevitably, contestants are upset when they see the breakdown of the scores and it's hard for me not to take it personally. Although I have never been a Talent Quest contestant, I really DO understand how important this is to all the contestants and I put ALL of my effort and energy into carefully tabulating and analyzing the scores to ensure that it is fair for all who are putting their extraordinary talents up on that stage.

Having tabulated at the local, regional and national level for 7 years, there are a couple of things I wish contestants could understand when looking at their scores. Since I don't have time to give a seminar at nationals about this, I decided to put these important points into a blog so everyone will better understand and hopefully won't be so hard on themselves and actually have a breakdown!

Important Facts:

#1: Comparing your scores to previous year's scores or between rounds is not a fair assessment of improvement or weakening of your skills

It would be a rare case that a contestant would have the same 3 judges from one year to the next in ALL rounds of competition so comparing this years scores to last years (or round one scores to round two; pop score to country) is a moot point.

#2: A low score from a judge doesn't mean that judge was unfair to you or didn't like you

Some judges just score low. That means they score EVERYone lower- not just you. When you get your score breakdown it's just your scores not the contestant before or after you, so you don't see the consistency that I look for when tabulating. In addition to putting in all the scores for every contestant, I chart out the scores to make sure that even if one judge is scoring low, all the scores move basically up and down in conjunction. This allows me to spot any abnormalities by sight. Below is sampling of scores I pulled from a regional contest about 5 years ago to give an example of how a lower scoring judge's scores "go with the flow".

Here are how the scores look when I enter them in the spreadsheet.

Once entered, I take the total scores for each contestant and graph them by judge on a line graph.
It's clear to see that even though there is variance between the judges, the scores basically move in tandem on the graph.

There are other ways I look at the scores as well, but I don't want to bore anyone with my love of analyzing statistics! Just keep these 2 things in mind when you get your scores in the coming days and weeks. Everyone did an amazing job at nationals! And although most of what I do is done behind the scenes, please rest assured that I am vigilant with these scores to ensure that each year is a fair competition!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

.....Showing Yourself Friendly?

To have friends, you must show yourself friendly.

I believe this with my whole heart and I do my best to uphold this tenant  in my life. But much like my issue with The Golden Rule, I have been struggling with why I should continue to be friendly to one who clearly ISN'T being friendly.

Frankly, I don't see the need at all.

Over the past 3 years my life has been reshaped and bears little resemblance to the life I had before those changes. During tough times, one learns who are genuine friends and sees more clearly those who are of the fair-weather variety. Those are the times it is difficult to know when one should continue to show friendliness and when one should look at the lack of friendliness which has (or hasn't in this case) been extended and decide to cut one's losses and simply walk away.
I have learned one very important lesson through all the changes and finally walking away from the Unavailables. I don't need any boomerangs in my life.

To the longtime friend who chose to show herself "friendly" by deleting and blocking me on Facebook without anything bad transpiring between us: I will consider this your way of telling me you no longer want to be friends. I wish you well and thank you for deleting me so I don't have to waste any more effort than this blog.

And that's all I have to say about that.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Computer Archives: The 21st Century Breakup Box

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" George Santayana

I spent a good portion of my weekend reading through archived emails, messages, IMs and texts from a few past boyfriends. Maybe I'm the only one who keeps correspondence anymore, but just because there are no hard-copy notes and letters these days doesn't mean there isn't a digital version of the stack of letters bound by a ribbon at the end of a relationship.

For the most part, I forget this correspondence is there, but it's good to know I can revisit these things if I ever feel the need. This past week, I've been pushed in the direction of my virtual breakup boxes and have blown the dust (some dustier than others) off the lids and started reading.

I won't lie. Much of it was torturous. But, it was also nice to see that there were plenty of good times worth remembering. And, although it shouldn't have been surprising to me, I was shocked to see such a distinct pattern to the flow of things with Pepe, Sugar D and Baby Boy. It's true that there are times one can't see the forest for the trees and the past 15 years have been dark times in the forbidden forest for me!

But, for as much torture as it was to read through the correspondence, it was equally liberating. Things have changed and I'm on a clear path. It's one that makes me happier than I've been in years and one that I prefer to keep mostly to myself because I'm selfish and I refuse to share it with anyone else. I've sealed the archives once again, but it's good to know they are there so I won't keep repeating the past.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Do Unto Others?

As a child, I was probably most impressionable at ages 4-6. I took everything my "elders" offered at face value and as truth. I wasn't jaded enough to understand about lies and manipulation, so I believed what was offered because they said it was truth. For the most part, I think I turned out as a well-adjusted, sane individual and many of the things I was taught when I was that age have proven very useful throughout my life.

Currently though, I'm at odds with The Golden Rule. You unto others as you would have them do unto you. I've tried my best to do this for the better part of four decades, but I'm wondering when the others will start treating me as I've treated them??? I know that isn't why one practices The Golden Rule, but I think it's fair to wonder when I'll get a return on my investment? Honestly, I know the answer: NEVER.

As a result of being so devoted to this tenet, I seem to attract those who have already frustrated the rest of the population into rescinding their friendship with them. Time and again, when I've been trampled on, I remember that lovely Golden Rule and I treat them the way I want to be treated. Well, NO MORE. Instead, when I am treated in a manner contrary to how I treat others, that person will be treated with the Inverse Golden Rule. I will assume that how they're treating me is how they would like to be treated. 

After all, I was told when I was 6 that turn about is fair play.