Thursday, November 27, 2008

It's Thursday ... It Must Be Thanksgiving

Despite the fact that holiday lights are twinkling in the shopping center parking lot and our neighborhood holiday junkie has filled their yard with snowmen, santas, and all manner of festive decorations, it is not yet Christmas time!

I've said it before and I'll say it again ... after we eat the trick or treat candy and before we break out the stockings and the red and green M&Ms, there's a little holiday that needs some recognition.

In the scheme of things, it's not a big holiday. It's not a world wide presence It's a simple American holiday that is about more than football and eating ourselves into turkey oblivion. It's a day set aside to give thanks ... as did those pilgrims years ago for the blessings received.

All those years ago, the English settlers gave thanks for the natives that befriended them and the harvest of crops after a disasterous winter.

While I don't have a harvest of crops, I do have some awesome friends and a harvest of blessings for which I would like to take this day, before the parades begin, the cooking commences, and the football gets kicked, or thrown, or tackled or something like that.

Blessing of Family -
I give thanks each day for the family I was lucky enough to be born into. The saying goes that you can't pick your family and this is true. Therefore it is a blessing to have parents who unconditionally love me, listen to me, giving guidance yet allowing me to make my final decisions for good or for ill. It is a blessing to have a brother who may be far away in distance but is close in time of need, to care and challenge and remind me always I am not alone in this world. It is a blessing to have nieces who are growing beautiful and independent, reminders of our youth of yesterday and our hope for tomorrow. Family is truly important, and I am so incredibly grateful for mine. This year we cannot all be together physically, and while this is a momentary sorrow, I know that there are many who have lost family members over this year. Therefore I take my blessing that we shall celebrate this holiday together in our hearts and look forward to the time we may be together physically again.

Blessings of Girlies -
I give thanks each day for the three girlies who daily bring joy and love to my heart and light to my life. Each one unique and each one so special that words simply fail.

Blessings of Friends -
I give thanks each day for the friends in my life, both new and old ... both far and near. The remainder of the family saying states that you can pick your friends. I'm not always sure who has picked who, however I can state wholeheartedly that I have been truly blessed with an abundance of friends that are supportive, comforting, crazy, and joyous. I give thanks for each and every individual one.

Blessing of Freedom -
I give thanks each day for the freedom I enjoy in this grand country of ours. From the President who leads us to the troops who defend us to local law enforcement officials who protect us, I am blessed to live in this country where opportunity has been and is still available for those who seek it, where I am afforded the right to worship as I choose and voice my opinions in agreement or disagreement without fear of retaliation. It's not perfect but it's mine and I am thankful for the freedom to live in it.

Blessing of Health & Home -
I give thanks each day for the roof over my head. I give thanks for an employer that provides the opportunity earn the living that pays for the roof, as well as the amenities that go with it - such as electricity, water ... internet connection. *grins* I give thanks for the health I have and the doctor that is there when I'm not feeling quite right.

Blessing of Being Me -
I give thanks each day for the opportunity to place my feet upon the floor, look into the mirror, greet the day and simply be me. For the opportunity to enjoy my tea in the morning, to cuddle my nursery babies, to be able to sit and write seriously or nonsensical, to relax and read, to travel or stay home, to simply be me - whether laughing or crying.

And ... since it's Thursday ...
I give thanks for the television show that is unique in that through it I have found friends and with them created an imaginary Sanitarium that brings discussion and laughter, sparking a passion for writing, and learned that though the world may be huge, when given something in common it doesn't matter whether you live in the same city or on separate continents to be able to strike up a conversation that leads to more than just television. I give thanks for the creative team of writers, directors, actors, and crew that bring us the show Supernatural.

Blessings come. They are there whenever and where ever we need or want them - big or small - if we simply take the time to see them. On this day that is set aside, between the candy and the glitter, to give thanks ... I challenge you to look around and see the blessings in your life.

And give thanks for them.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Just A Guy and A Guitar

Concert ... musical performance ... can be vocal or instrumental or both.

Over the years I have attended numerous concerts, walking away from them carrying the music I had heard in my head and my heart. Most of them were vocal/instrumental, many of them were church related, some of them more memorable than others.

It's weird, but, when asked the question,"who have you seen in concert?", my mind tends to respond immediately with concerts I have seen in a large forum - such as the Reunion Arena in Dallas. There was a period of time where I seemed to constantly be a part of the vast crowd - listening, watching and dancing as the music of various groups and individuals seemed to pump it's way into my bloodstream, as the rhythm seemed to take over the beat of my heart and the words would wrap around my mind and have me singing along.

The groups varied - everything from Neil Diamond & Barry Manilow to Tears for Fears t0 Journey & Foreigner. Each performance was spectacular with the lighting and the orchestration. There were laser light shows and back up singers, big screens for close ups of the band and, in the case of Journey, one spectacularly beautiful dark cherry red grand piano that I can still picture in my mind with crystal clarity. Everything was huge and, even today, hearing one of the songs can bring back to my mind the feeling of sitting/standing in the dark listening to it live and in person.

Still ... although the concerts of John Cougar Mellencamp or Powerstation may first come to mind when asked the question ... I have to say they are not my favorites.

Nope. As much as I love the back up musicians and singers, the lightshows, the dancers, and all the extras that make these concerts so huge, it is the intimate settings of listening ... simply listening to the musician and his instrument ... that are the "favorite" concert moments I look back on.

Listening live and in person seems to allow the music to take such a greater hold than if it is simply heard over the radio. There's something much more personal when music is heard live, when you are able to sit and watch the musician play - fingers rippling across the piano or strumming through the chords on a guitar. Watching the face of the singer as the song they are giving voice seems to come from somewhere deep inside them.

I grew up with a musician. Some of my favorite memories of my little brother is sitting in the den, listening to him play the piano and sing. The music would float through our house, filling the silent corners, accompanying us in our daily tasks. Sometimes he would be alone and other times he would be joined by a couple of friends, but always would his voice flow over and through me, even as I pretended to be the cool, uninvolved older sister just reading a book on the couch.

Although I really don't care for country music, per se, I have seen some really good concerts by country artists, both small and large, yet none of them truly captured me quite the same as the music of a young man who I loved for a time *mumblemumble* years ago. During our time together, I had the opportunity to see him perform on stage many times, yet the music was always best when it was played during the dark of the night ... when it was just us two and we would sit, knee to knee on the floor and he would play the guitar and sing. The music would light his face and come from his soul and fill my heart.

I recently was priviledged to attend two concerts by two very unique musicians in one weekend.

They weren't held in huge arenas with thousands of fans.

There wasn't any lightshow or back-up bands or singers.

There was simply a stage with a mike for a singer and his guitar placed in front of an appreciative audience.

Each man gave a performance which was filled with energy and heart. Each song told a story - whether in the lyrics on their own, or by the face and voice of the individual artist singing. The guitars were extensions of their bodies, their fingers at times caressing and other times beating the strings but always making the notes blend together with an artistry that was intriguing and enticing to watch.

Captivated, I sat on the edge of my seat. The lyrics and medleys singing inside my soul. Each concert so unique and different from the other and yet the same in that they were simply a musician ... playing his guitar and singing.

When the talent is real and the music is good ... lightshows and back-up may be awesome - but they are soooo incredibly not necessary. Just ask anyone who have attended concerts by either Steve Carlson or Jason Manns.

A concert with just a guy and his guitar, doing what they love to do ... sing the music they love.