Instead: Lyle Lovett Wins

I chose music over fitness tonight.

I drove to Downtown Joliet planning to run this evening. It was after 6. I was driving around looking for a spot to park, when I saw the marquee for The Rialto.

Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt!! Playing tonight, 7:30 p.m.

And decided I can run anytime– but this was not a concert to pass up. I had to try.

So I found parking and rushed to the theatre. At the window I asked if it was sold out– it wasn’t!

I was NOT dressed at all appropriately. Running pants and shoes, a hoodie over it. Bad hair! I wasn’t expecting anyone to see me running solo in the dark. Certainly no make-up. I felt a little ridiculous in the midst of all these threat-going people, mostly dressed up. It was definitely an older crowd— probably mostly ’40s and ’50s. Mostly couples.

I was able to get row M, which is a pretty great seat.

Sadly, I had left my hearing-aids at home. I missed out on a lot of the banter.

The shocking thing is that I knew nothing of Lyle besides that he is Julia Roberts’ ex-husband. I was psyched to see John Hiatt– I have one of his CD’s. I was hoping to hear “Have a Little Faith.”

And once they began, I was smitten by Lyle. They were great together– very comfortable and respectful of each other’s talents. They sang and played together a few times and also allowed each other to shine with solos. The audience was laughing often as Lyle mostly spoke and told stories.

John got better as the eve wore on, but there was not a single Lyle song I didn’t adore. Tragically, I have no idea what most them were that he played. I was able to look a few up on my phone by guessing at lyrics.

Lyle radiated this easy calmness. His songs were so much more inventive and varied, I couldn’t get over it!

The couple directly in front of me was having a wonderful date. She frequently put her arm around the back of his chair and stroked his hair. They leaned in together to whisper and laugh– they kissed a few times. Their shoulders were always touching. Several times, she leaned her head on his shoulder and relaxed. She swayed in her seat, seemingly an equal fan of both. I couldn’t see in the dark if they were married and wore rings– but they radiated the kind of love I imagine most couples would aspire towards. I wanted to ask them how long they’d been together. She had on a leather jacket and shoulder-length hair.

I hope one day I’m part of a couple so unable to hide their affection! It was sweet to behold.

Tonight was something special. Even from where i was sitting, I could see Lyle’s ears sticking out! He had a on suit.

They ended the show, and then re-emerged for an encore. I yelled my song request, along with others I heard.

Luckily, John Hiatt obliged! He did sing “Have a Little Faith,” but it was a  bit anti-climactic. I was just happy that I got to hear the song which motivated me to take a chance on tonight!

It felt so luxurious to be out on a Thursday night enjoying such a wonderful concert.

After that song, I left. It had started circa 7:40 and was nearly 10 and still going! I wanted to beat the crowd. In the lobby I stopped and bought one of Lyle’s CDS: “Release Me.” I played it in the car on the way home. I was a little bummed that more songs weren’t written by him, but all the songs are great regardless.

One thing is for sure! I’ll see Lyle again if I get a chance. And I’ll definitely be exploring his catalog.

What an incredible surprise. Thank you, Mr. Lovett.

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A Soul on Fire! Singing, Sushi and Running

This was a great week for me– I gotta tell you!

Yesterday morning on the way to work I was listening to Christian radio and heard the perfect song– “Soul on Fire,” by Third Day. Even better, the lyrics talk about RUNNING!

I felt like God was telling me, “Keep it up, kiddo!” That’s the song I’ll be thinking of as I run.

It was a bit chilly tonight but I put on a stocking cap and a hoodie and I was good to go.

I took two days off running this week, Thursday and Saturday, to give my feet a break. Eleise and I kept to our schedule of three runs, and tonight I did .96 by myself without stopping! I checked my phone at the end of the block and then kept going till I hit 1 mile! And then I walked a bit, and ran to finish my goal of 1.75 miles– I made it 1.81 by the time I got home.

I’m getting mindful of what I’m eating, as well. I had a good lunch with my Dad today after Mass, and later tonight I passed on cheesecake and coffee.

Wednesday night was our choir’s last rehearsal of the summer! I had such a good time and will miss them for the next few months! Our choir director, David, ran threw several songs so that I could get up to speed and they could review. Rehearsals are laid-back and equal parts fun and music education.

The best part of our rehearsals is always at the end, when we stand in a circle, hold hands, and pray for whomever we feel called to with our intentions, be it out loud or just in our hearts. I specifically asked if we could get all of us together after Mass today and take a few quick pictures of us looking all spiffy in our choir robes! This is also the last week we’re wearing them– they’ll be taken to get cleaned and we’ll resume them when it cools off. Although I’ll miss the pride of wearing one, I do admit it’ll be a nice reprieve in the coming heat!

The whole choir (those I’ve met, some are currently not singing right now) wasn’t quite there today, but we got most of the group who have regularly been at rehearsals since I joined. I asked a tall gentleman to take pictures of us and he did! He was kind enough to take several, and I found two I really liked. We are diverse, happy, and coming together to share our joy in the Lord! I was so proud to post it today on Facebook.

And as for the sushi, I declared last night Date Night for myself and my book and went out for sushi! Why not? I got a lot done this week! I wanted to celebrate. I put on a cute outfit, a bit of perfume, and brought a book with me. Between the meal and the words, I had a great time.

Today is just one of those days that I feel grateful, motivated, and healthy.

I’m ready for June!!

On Discipline

I’m getting a lot done lately, and I love the feeling of accomplishment.

Re-organizing and prioritizing.

I’m realizing that as much as I admire minimalists, I’ll never be one of them! Yes, I’m a sap.

A friend just pointed out to me that I’ve invested a lot in my books. Good point! I got rid of the ones I bought but accepted I would never read, or on topics I’ve already absorbed. Let someone else enjoy them. I have more space now. I kept my favorites, including some from childhood. Now I get to buy MORE! Mwahahaha!

I love it! I can’t believe I got rid of probably 85% of my movie collection. But CD’s are harder. They are attached to a time period in your life, memories and emotions. I’ve never used digital music. I have no files on my computer or songs on my iPhone. I am a decidedly old-fashioned lady when it comes to technology. I still love my cassette tapes. I even have a few vinyl records. I don’t listen to music often at home, but always blast it in my car. At home I enjoy silence or watching TV and movies.

Being single, I’ve learned to appreciate quiet. It doesn’t make me uncomfortable.

And I’ve made an executive decision to keep my writing. Some poems and things that aren’t relevant, I’ve shredded. But I have notes and papers I wrote in college. Old newspaper articles. Old school assignments, they are mostly in binders. They are a record of my life. They show how much I’ve grown. What I felt back then.

Those, I’m keeping.

But what I’ve learned through this purging is that when you dispose of useless things, you leave room for something better. Something ELSE that will bring you joy.

If it doesn’t bring you joy, why keep it? Pitch it.

As I de-clutter and purge, I’m feeling more relaxed in my own space.

Can’t complain.

After Mass: On Religion, Love, and the Gift of Faith

During Mass today, I realized what it’s about. Why I go.

Why we put up with all the idiosyncrasies of religion– the demands, the divisiveness.

We do it to be part of something bigger than ourselves. To share our lives in the midst of chaos and find a still point.

We do it to admit, “I need help. I can’t do do this alone.”

Admitting we need help is the hardest thing for most humans to do. We want to be self-reliant, we want to be okay, no matter what.

I love my church, because during peace, people walk around with open arms. They shake your hand, look you in the eye, smile.

My parents are local, and I enjoy seeing them. However, I don’t have siblings, and my family lives out of state. So I do feel lonely at times.

But in this church, I get hugs, just like I do with my family. And although there are still a lot of things I’m figuring out about my life, this church makes me feel anchored. Singing songs of praise makes me feel anchored. We spend the week busy, scrambling to get things done– we deserve to rest and just be thankful for what God has given us! To stand with others and testify that yes, we’re glad to be standing here, together. The services in my church usually run two hours– and I love that! At other churches, they are usually only 45 minutes to an hour, and everyone usually rushes right out after Holy Communion, and barely talks at all if they do stay. People in this church linger. A few times a month, they head into the parish hall for coffee. There’s no rush, they want to meet you, get to know you.

That makes me feel so happy. It’s just a simple church– and that’s why I like it. It’s not high-falutin’, it’s not about artifice.

It’s just about love, service, and appreciation.

Knowing that a family is depending on me to bring them Holy Communion anchors me.

I know that I can’t live my life alone, and that I’m never alone.

I’m learning that God is more than Bible verses and dogma. It’s more than prayer and Confession.

God is truly very basic.

God is a secure feeling of love.

God is a warmth in your heart that says, “Go ahead, you don’t have to be scared. I’m with you.”

God is the absolute confirmation that all you are, and all you haven’t been– is enough, because you’re doing the best you can.

And mostly, God is feeling so overwhelmed with that truth that all you want to do is share it with others.

And not by conversion– but by acceptance. By example. By trusting.

Be kind. Forgive. Help, with no expectations or conditions.

I feel God with me today. It’s an incredible lightness, to help us float through the storm.

We don’t need to know where we’re going or why– only that we’re on the right path.

The Free Speech of Andi : Comedy, Dreadlocks, and a Yurt

This blog is for a 22-year-old friend of mine with guts beyond her years.  Today, she’s leaving.  In the morning.

I’m excited for her– but also selfish, and sad that she’ll be gone.

Andi is about to embark on her own American Dream, which she’s been planning four years.  She quit her job and is going on the road with her friend, Michael, 21, and a Boxer named Jefferson. They’re leaving Illinois in her truck and heading South.

They don’t know where they’re going. They’re just going.

The first official destination is New Orleans. And beyond that, who knows?

She’s packing light. Some clothes, a cigarette rolling machine, guitar, sleeping bag, and a yurt. She procured a grill. She’s bringing a notebook, where she’ll jot down ideas for her comedy routines and song lyrics. She and Michael are going to drive and perform their way around America.

She’s got her blonde hair in braids, in the process of becoming dreadlocks. With her independent spirit, the confidence, and the hair, Andi has a bit of Ani DiFranco about her. And DiFranco would approve. The Feminist icon who started her own record label and eschewed mainstream industry approval chose her own destiny, just as Andi is doing now.

Andi has already taken some heady risks– she’s been an out lesbian since age 12. She embraces her identity with valor, including it in her comedy acts. At 22, she is more sure of who she is than many people are at 40.

I’m so full of admiration– and yes, a bit of envy. Andi is doing what all of want to do and most of us never will– she’s daring to travel and taking a risk. She’s driving her truck and going on the road, open to Kerouackian adventure.  She’s wearing her hair the way she wants, not the way society dictates.

And her smile just keeps getting bigger. This is actually the second blog I’ve posted inspired by her– the first was when she made me a wood-burning in the shape of a piece of loose leaf paper, with a quote about writing engraved. In gratitutude, I wrote  a TRIBUTE to my artist friends, and now it makes me happy to see that Andi is showing the same excitement for her OWN art that she showed for mine last fall.

I’ll never forget is watching her comedy set last Tuesday night. It was the same venue where I bombed last week– and much more crowded. She was the first comedy performer up, and no one was paying attention.  People were talking, no one stopped to listen.

But that didn’t stop Andi. Her stance was confident– shoulders back, legs astride. She started out strong, identifying herself as a lesbian and making jokes about it. People started to listen. Andi kept going, very at ease.  Last week when I hadn’t gotten the crowd after a few minutes, I blushed and stopped my set. Not Andi. She kept going– until the crowd quieted down, and got used to her presence. More people listened. Laughs began. Andi relaxed further, and began to really shine. Like a true performer, she wasn’t intimidated.

And she had some great jokes,  the laughs got bigger and more frequent. She was secure in her own talent– it was beautiful to watch. She’s the reason I tried stand-up at all– I went to watch her open mic, and she encouraged me to try. She subscribed to my blog right when she met me, about a year ago. She made me a wood-burned gift with a quote encouraging me to write.

Four times this week, I’ve gotten to hang out with Andi. Tuesday night, for an open mic where we both tried some stand-up comedy. Then for a few hours on 4th of July, I took her to my favorite local karaoke dive– a prerequisite before she leaves town. We went to Wal-Mart to buy her grill and do some last-minute shopping, and we hung out again for a few precious hours tonight before she had to finish packing.

I’ve had friends move away before, and a few more are planning to move within the next year. But I have to admit, I’m really going to miss this girl. She’s got a light about her, and has become one of my closest friends. I don’t think it’s hit me yet that she’s leaving– and that once she does, I don’t know when I’ll see her again. She may come back to Illinois to live, or only to visit. It could be years before I see her again.

She was part of my inspiration to delete facebook earlier this year. When I hesitated about following through, Andi encouraged me. She deleted hers in January, and hasn’t looked back. She doesn’t miss it, and plans to at least stay away for a full year. And even when I did return and sign back up, Andi didn’t judge me. She was supportive regardless.

She’s considering starting a blog to chronicle her travels on the road– which I hope she does.

In the past year, I’ve watched her grow up so much.  She’s an old soul, my indefatigable Gemini sister. She listens well, doesn’t judge, and cracks a joke when you most need it. She points out things of astonishing insight.

I gave her a rosary bracelet for protection on the road, and wrote down some quoted some song lyrics I thought were applicable, like a good luck charm. I couldn’t stop hugging the girl, and the tears happened.

I’m so incredibly proud of my brave friend, for re-defining her life on her terms. For daring. For doing.

Every time I do comedy, I’ll do it for Andi. If she’s not afraid to create her own American Dream on the road, I’m not afraid of a mic.

And the next time I see her, she’ll be a different woman– even more grown up, with even better stories. But for now, I await my first postcard, as she sets out for the life she wants– on the road.