Thursday, February 28, 2013

Thursday Tales: At the Spinning Wheel



"You move too fast," she muttered under her breath.

I sat on the doorstep with a cup of tea and watched her spin.  "Hmm?"

"You move too fast. Life, you think you have to chase after it.  That if you ever stop moving, it will go on without you and you'll miss some great thing that it has to offer.  But you're wrong. You miss it when you never stop.  Life will come to you. When you're always chasing after it, you miss all that lies around you."

"Nana..."

She waved a hand to cut me off. "Life is in here." She tapped her heart. "In the people you love. In the people who love you. Quit moving." She grunted and nodded, pleased with the speech.

And she kept spinning.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Saying I Love You

"We don't all say 'I care' the same way."

This is probably the simplest and most important thing I've ever learned, and has been the most helpful to me in understanding people that I care about who are different than I am.

You know the way you say "I love you."  Whether that's in saying it, or doing nice things for someone, or making time for someone in your day...  you have a unique way that you feel the most passionate about communicating your affection for someone. We want them to know, right? We want our friends and our loved ones to know how much we care about them and so we communicate that love in the way that makes the most sense to us.

But... what if they don't communicate the same way back?  What if you say "you mean the world to me" and all they can muster up is "Thanks"?  Does that necessarily mean that they don't care about you, too?  I've learned that the answer to that question can often be "No." Maybe they're just someone who has a really hard time opening their mouth and saying "You mean the world to me, too."...  but doing something nice for you is right up their alley.

If we spend all our time waiting for them to respond in the same way we offered our affection, sometimes we miss the equally heartfelt ways in which they are trying to say "I care about you, too." We mistake a differently-expressed love for indifference... and that is just about the saddest thing in the world. To miss that is tragic.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Broken is where...

Broken hurts.
It is full of rocks and nails and glass where you can hardly move without your wounds being reopened by something, bringing all the pain back up to the surface where it breaks you again and again.

But broken is also where the healing begins. 
Broken is where you strip away everything that you thought you were, where you find out who you really are.
Broken is where you find out what's really important to you, what you truly need and what you really want.
Broken is where you learn about strength and courage, forgiveness and compassion.

Broken is where you begin again.
Broken is where you become a new you.
And sometimes you find that the broken place was really a healing place.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Celtic Thunder "Mythology" Deluxe DVD Review

In 2008, Celtic Thunder released their debut DVD to audiences via PBS. Filmed at the Helix in Dublin, Ireland, it was two hours of beautiful music, performed by talented good-looking Irishmen (and one Scotsman), and welcomed with open arms. Five years later, two of the original members have gone on to their own careers with three more vocalists stepping into the group. To usher in a new age of Celtic Thunder, producer Sharon Browne and musical director Dave Munro threw out almost all of their previous material and went back to the drawing board to create a brand-new musical creation in their new DVD, Mythology.

Returning to Dublin's Helix, the set for Mythology is in the shape of a beautiful Celtic cross with ancient stones as background. It sets the tone for an evening of strong music, taking the listener into the heart of Celtic roots, that is some of the best that they've ever done, certainly rivalling their original show and perhaps even topping it. Of particular delight is the abandonment of inserting shots of the audience every other ten seconds. The cinematography stays on the singer or ensemble throughout entire songs, which is so much more enjoyable!

There are so many good songs and so many good performances in Mythology that it is truly difficult to pick the stand-outs.

The Great


As always, Celtic Thunder excels in the energy of their group numbers. The Rocky Road to Dublin is a huge draw and my favorite, a fast-paced song with great cadences and lots of movement, keeping the eye constantly entertained. Turning Away and My Land are both full company songs with fantastic harmonies. Turning Away is a powerful track with much going on, while My Land delivers a softer ending than usually found in a Celtic Thunder show, but is a beautifully harmonic track that transitions you gently out of the show with a tear in your eye. The quartet of George Donaldson, Neil Byrne, Emmet Cahill, and Colm Keegan present in two different numbers. Star of the County Down is a really cute number, showcasing both Neil's comedic timing (which is excellent) and Emmet's romantic charm. In contrast, She Moved Through the Fair is a beautiful arrangement with haunting harmonies that will leave the listener breathless.


Neil Byrne's sweet romantic side comes to the forefront in his version of Carolina Rua. It's an easygoing melody that matches Neil's style nicely. Another standout is his Rock n Roll Kids duet with Ryan. These two sound really beautiful together with a gorgeous blend. On his own, Ryan Kelly performs a tender version of Carrickfergus, full of moving feeling and a reminder that there is far more to him than the Dark Destroyer. Coming as a bit of surprise, Ryan channels his inner rocker in his cover of the Horslips' Dearg Doom. Easily one of my favorites in the whole show, it is completely entertaining to watch and very cool!






Newcomer Colm Keegan, with the blue-est eyes you've ever seen, accompanies himself on piano in the lovely Katie. It's a sweet song whose melody sticks with me throughout the day. He has his own duet with Keith in a terrific cover of Simon and Garfunkel's Sound of Silence. Keith Harkin shines himself in his performance of A Man of Constant Sorrow. Appealing to any bluegrass fan, the song is a lot of fun and features half of the Celtic Thunder Band as well. Emmet Cahill, with the warmest most buttery voice, sings a truly beautiful Always There. 




The Good


George Donaldson sings the lovely ballad, Scarlet Ribbons for Her Hair. As a parent, it is touching and heartwarming to see songs in which he at least appears to be singing to his own daughter, always a favorite. Neil croons a lovely Summer in Dublin. This is staged well and hints of the dramatic possibilities inherent in Neil's talents that I hope are further explored as the show develops down the road. Emmet has such a lovely voice, and his Isle of Innisfree is beautiful. The Celtic Thunder Band presents in two instrumentals: Lonesome Boatman Into Reels and the very entertaining Hoedown, complete with lovely dancers!


The Ones I Didn't Care For



George is probably the soloist that suffers the most on this DVD, simply due to not the greatest song choice. George can be really powerful and so much fun, but with a mere duo of ballads and a song he's already performed before in the past, I was a little disappointed. Life With You is a good song, I've always enjoyed watching him perform it, and he does it well...  but I wanted something more.

Ryan, Keith, Neil, and Emmet collect to sing....  The Boys are Back in Town. Yes, you heard that right. It's just...  Emmet is honestly one of my favorites in the show, and I love his voice so much.  But rock star, he really isn't. If they try to do a KISS song next, I swear I'm leaving.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Finding the Boundaries


I hear all the time about the importance of setting boundaries in relationships. I know this to be good and wise advice, especially for me. I have the terrible tendency of letting people whip me around to do and be what they want. It's easy to blame other people for that, but it's maybe more on me than it is on them.  After all, I'm the one allowing it, right?

I've been thinking over the last several months about the importance of those boundaries... how you decide what they are, how you balance them with others' boundaries, and how you even go about communicating them. It's not like a sports game where you sit down before you become friends with someone and go over the ground rules.  "This is your dance space, this is my dance space."  This is the foul line, this is the penalty, this is the goal of the game. We don't do that, and it's weird to even think about it.

I don't really know the answers to these questions, but I know that finding and understanding them is an important component to developing healthy friendships. I know that it involves a healthy dose of self-respect and understanding what is okay for someone to expect from me and what is not. I know it involves learning the difference between someone needing me and someone using me. And I know it involves me being strong enough to occasionally stand up and say, "Nope, too far... this isn't okay."

So, I guess that's where I am.  Not having everything down... but searching.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thursday Tales: The Gates



I stood at the gates and peered in.  Dark and foggy, the path stretched on into the morning. But, there was nothing that would tell me what would lay down it.

An archway stood above me, its stone marble both smooth and yet cracked with age.  The words carved into it were simple and straightforward.

"Come. Your way is here."

Was that a message to me? Or was it simply what it said to everyone who passed this way? An invitation to peace or peril? I didn't know.

But I looked behind me along the path that had brought me here, its twists and turns already overgrown with brambles. I knew that I could never go back. I knew that going back was closed.

Here, as in all life, I suppose...  here, the only way was forward and to face what waited down the road with what courage I could find.  So I stood tall, shook my hair back from my face, and approached the gates. I stepped into the story of what was yet unwritten.

Just inside, a small fox approached me. I watched him with trepidation, ready to swing the nearest stick at him if he attacked.  But, he simply sat in the middle of the path, nodded his head at me, and said simply, "You came. Thank you."

And so the story began.



Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Letting Go That Which is Heavy

Things in life can be hard to carry along with us all the time. They lie heavy on our hearts. They drag behind us, a restraining yoke that makes moving forward seem so difficult.

And even though we know that they are heavy, they remain things that we have such a tough time setting down. We know that if we just stopped and set them down, if we stopped and took the yoke from around our necks, then we would be able to move on in our lives into much better things.

Yet still we don't. There are all kinds of reasons and excuses for that, and each of us have a different one that seems ultra-important. And maybe they are.

You should set them down. We should set them down. Don't we all know that? But, I guess sometimes they're un-set-down-able... and if you can't set them down yet, the next best thing is to find someone who is willing to walk along with you, and help you carry that which weighs down your heart, until you can.

Maybe that's what life is about... helping each other carry what we can't on our own.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Time We Can't Get Back

Time. It's something we can't get back once it's passed by.

We lose it through inattention and laziness. Through grudges and forgiveness we can't allow ourselves to extend. Through stubbornness and hurt and anger.

And we can't ever get it back. It's gone.  That time... it's gone.

So we have to be intentional. We have to choose how we're going to spend it, how we want to spend it. We have to decide what's important to us, to our loved ones, to our friends. We have to make the choices, and sometimes do the hard things, so that we don't lose any more of that time to the past.

Because once it's gone, it's gone, and there's no reclaiming it.

But the time that's yet before us... this time, we get to decide. We get to decide what's important, who's important. We get to decide what makes up that time.

Just remember to choose that time wisely... spend it on things that, when we look back in 10, 20 years, we'll say "I'm glad I spent the time on that. I'm glad I didn't waste it."


Monday, February 18, 2013

I miss you

So I miss you. I can admit that.

I miss the friends that we were and the camaraderie we shared. I miss how we used to have each other's backs and protect each other's hearts. I miss that. I miss you.

But, a lot's happened. Valleys and gulfs between us, pushing each other away. Terrible words said.

It's not even just that. We're different people now, and the things that made us friends before... maybe we just don't have those things anymore. I've changed in some ways, you've changed in other ways... and neither of those ways are bad things, but they put us in places where probably friends are not something we'll be again.

I guess that's okay. I'm okay with that. Our lives are what they are, we are who we are. And I think it's okay to move on in our lives, but still occasionally think of the ones who were a part of our pasts. You are a part of me, a part of who I am now. So today, I will think of you, and hope good things for you, and yes.. I will miss you.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Thursday Tales: This is Valentine's Day

This is Valentine's Day.  Or 4 am during the night that follows it. Right now, I should be upstairs, wrapped in his arms and cradled against his chest.

But I'm not.

I'm on a bench across the street from our apartment. A suitcase rests beside me on the ground. I'm waiting for a cab that still hasn't come. I'd call again, but I don't really want to go.

It's raining.  I'm still wearing the dress I bought for tonight, for our night out. The night we never even made it to before we started fighting.  And fighting. And fighting.

I don't even feel the rain now.

It's Valentine's Day. It wasn't supposed to end this way.

A light flicks on in our bedroom and I can see his form wander from our room to the kitchen. I can't see him now but I imagine him opening the refrigerator, pouring himself a drink, and padding back to our bed.  He stops in the living room and glances out the window.

I don't think he sees me.

I'm wrong.

The door to our building opens and he jogs across the street in pajamas and slippers. I don't stand up.

"What are you doing out here?" he asks me.

"No one came," I answer simply.

He shifts from one foot to the other, uncomfortable. "Do you want me to call again?"

I shake my head. "No. No, I'm fine here."

"You're soaking wet," he begins to argue with me.

But I just shake my head again. "It doesn't matter."

"You're crazy," he mutters.

I just shrug and look at the ground with a frown. "I know.  I'm sorry."

He pulls me to my feet and wipes the water away from my lips with the pad of his thumb. "Don't be," he whispers. "I love your crazy."

And he kisses me.

And he picks up my suitcase. And he picks up me. And we go back inside. And I sleep in our bed, cuddled against his chest.

And the cab never comes.

And this is Valentine's Day.



Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Rules of Reading


I have always been a voracious reader of fiction. And when I read, I leave this place and enter the world of wherever the author has taken me. I love this about reading. As my mother and sisters are also voracious readers, this was never something I ever questioned when I was growing up. Everyone knows the rules about reading.

If someone is reading, you leave them alone.  

If you choose not to leave them alone and they completely ignore your existence, they aren't being rude. They don't actually even know you're there, so you're not allowed to be offended.

If you choose not to leave them alone and they ignore you and then you get mad and start yelling at them, they are perfectly within their rights to throw a book (though not the one they're reading) at your head. This is not a punishable offense. You were asking for it.

I just assumed everyone knew these rules. But not so.

My husband does not come from a family of voracious readers, so it was baffling to me when we first married and he kept talking to me while I was clearly absorbed in a BOOK.  With words in it!  And then he would get irritated when I wouldn't pay attention to what he was saying.

Hello!  Reading?  Book? Why are you even talking to me?

15 years later, we have come to an understanding... which has basically boiled down to If the wife is reading, leave the room quietly.  Or not quietly. She probably won't even notice.

Which works just fine for me.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Room Enough For Us All

A few weeks ago, I read a Facebook interchange that began with someone expressing frustration over people who have such a heart for the plight of animals, and yet probably couldn't be bothered to help a fellow person. This quickly degenerated into a debate over whether it was better to help animals or people, and that if you were someone who'd rather help a dog than give your money (or whatever) to the homeless, then you were bad and outside of God's plan for humanity.  And there were others that pretty much felt the same way for people who hung out on the opposite fence.

Here's the thing.

I have two beautiful wonderful twin daughters. Identical twins who couldn't be more different if they tried. I have a daughter who cries every time we pass a homeless person and begs me to let her give them money, food, gloves, anything. She has been this way since she was a little girl. She has always had this heart.

Her twin has a similar heart... but it bleeds for dogs. Her heart is broken in two if we ever pass a LOST DOG sign or if she hears a story of a dog who sacrificed himself for its owner or about an animal that was mistreated. If her daddy would let her, she would adopt every dog in a 300 mile radius.  She, too, has been this way since she was a little girl. She has always had this in her heart.

I fervently believe that both of these passions were placed in their hearts by a God who cares and by a God who understands that we are all different. By a God who understands that this world is complex, and it is full of complex problems.. and that, to solve them, we need a variety of vastly different people with vastly different gifts and talents and passions.

And so... when faced with a controversy over who is a better person... the person who has a heart for people or the person who has a heart for the animals, I say that it's both. There is room enough in this world for people who have a passion for people, and for animals, and for the environment. There is room enough in this world for people who have a heart for abuse, and for hunger, and for slavery. There is room enough in this world for people who have passions for all kinds of different things. One is not better than the other.

There is room enough in this world for us all, and indeed, I believe that God designed the world this way, and it's why He instills us each with different hearts and talents and interests and passions. He knew He would need us all to touch the hearts of all the creations that He loves.

So, when you're tempted to criticize someone else because they don't have a passion for the same thing that you do, remember that. Remember that we're all needed. Remember that, if we were all the same and if we all had the same passion for the same one thing, then so many more things would be broken in our world. We need us all. We need us all to follow the heart that we were born with. And we needn't feel guilty because it's not the same as someone else's heart.

A unique world requires a variety of unique people to bring love to every corner of it.  Be unique. Let the passions that stir your heart... stir it. And, in the end, it will be a much more beautiful place.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Thursday Tales: At Your Feet





How did you make it past my defenses? I really thought that I had built them too high for anyone to climb over. That I was impenetrable.

and yet here I am, lying at your feet.

I feel tricked, misled, taken advantage of. I trusted you, but this brokenness is all you have left me with.

just broken

And I don't know where to go from here. I don't know how to heal the damage you caused. I don't know if I can learn to trust again.  Not just you... but anyone. How can I trust anyone when my judgment has proved to be so poor?

What I want is to be reborn and to build walls even higher. If you could scale them, someone else could, too.  But... higher is just a bigger challenge for the next one, isn't it? And it may be higher, but I've learned that, no matter the height, the walls are never unscalable. There will always be someone, with enough motivation or desire or, yes, capacity for cruelty, who can top them. And then where are we left?

And so, I am lying here on what remains of our battlefield and pondering... where do I go from here? Is there such a thing as enough protection to stop this from ever happening again?

Or am I simply left forever, lying at your feet, craving something that I don't have a name for.. but only a desperate longing for something else.


Monday, February 4, 2013

Good In This World

Samwise Gamgee had it right. He was never billed as the quickest mind, but with maybe the biggest heart, he had it right.

Hard things come at us from every direction, it seems.  Heartache, pain, sorrow. Dashed dreams, cruel people, unexpected hardships. The weight of it all, sometimes, can be so crushing, suffocating. How can you breathe when that's what there is?

But, in the hearts of men, there lies something more than heartache, pain, and sorrow. There is joy and there is love. There is kindness and there is peace. There is friendship and there is the capacity to dream again. There is healing. There is just simply more.

And so, a simple hobbit was right.

There is good in this world. And it is worth fighting for.


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