"We're all just fragile threads, but what a tapestry we make." – Jerry Ellis

Archive for the ‘Hair Nation’ Category

God’s Got My Playlist

I’m not one for New Year’s Resolutions, but I love starting a new year.  The first few weeks of the year are filled with anticipation for getting a fresh start in life.  It’s like a brand-new notebook with blank pages to fill.  I love getting a new calendar and getting all my colored gel pens out and planning out my dreams for the year.  Things left unaccomplished the year before can be revisited; a new year always holds such promise for good things to come. 

Last summer, I had made plans to run a half marathon in the fall.  The MO Cowbell Race is the first half marathon I ever ran, and it’s held close to home.  For me training in the summer is a challenge because Missouri summers are hot and humid.  I started training in June, a few weeks before our summer vacation, and disappointingly, did not continue once we got back.  I was filled with good intentions and equally reasonable excuses—it was hot, I was too busy, I was lonely running by myself on long runs—crowned by my favorite, this year was just not my year for running.  My long runs on Sundays had been replaced with attending worship service with Mom in the nursing home with my dad.  I could not rise to the challenge of training because I convinced myself the timing was all wrong.

Fall came and went, and I put running aside.  A friend of mine texted me in early November asking if I had planned to do any spring half marathons.  She had just signed up to do the full marathon and hoped we could encourage and hold one another accountable.  I wanted to say yes, but I couldn’t bring myself to commit to it.  The holidays were on the horizon and I didn’t want to agree to something I couldn’t keep up with again. The fear of failure stymied me.  What if the timing wasn’t right in 2019 either?

Fast forward to the fresh page of January on the 2019 calendar.  After eating (and drinking) way too many calories over Christmas and New Year’s, the notes and pages of dreams and promises I was making for myself glared at me almost as harshly as the bathroom scale.  I missed my Saturday morning run that I’d planned because the bed felt much better than lacing up my shoes and hitting the pavement.  It turned out to be a beautiful day, a rare 60-degree January day, and I spent it lazing around the house curled up with my thoughts and my notebook.  But instead of finding joy in my journaling and planning, the realization hit me that life happens whether you plan for it or not.  I can doodle my ideas in one hundred different colors, but that is all they are, ideas.  I was full of ideas, but unless I took action, they remained there on the pages on a notebook.  If I stumbled on this notebook in two years, would I be proud of what I did with those dreams?  Or would they serve as a reminder of when I thought the time was just not right?  What if there was no perfect time, and I just needed to suck it up and start doing instead of dreaming?  If I waited until I was ready I would never get started.

Determination brewed out of disappointment in myself, and Saturday night I laid out my running clothes, set my alarm and selected my “Getting Started Again” one-off workout on my running app.  My plan was to keep it simple—take my tried and true running route I always run when I’m trying to just get in the miles and not think too much.  But I couldn’t let it be too routine.  I didn’t want to fall too much into a routine I abandoned before.  My answer was a brand-new running playlist.

There are songs I always put on my running playlists, but I wanted to have some new ones to freshen it up a little.  In addition to my tried and true song additions, I added a few just because I liked the title, and hey, if Spotify thought it was a song I’d like, they were probably right.  This was a new season of training and I wanted to shake it up a bit.  My taste in music tends to run the gamut, so I never know if I’m going to hear cheesy pop, inspirational, classic rock or alt metal next during my run.  I went to sleep pleased with my plan and my newly-found motivation.

When I got up Sunday morning, I followed through with my plan and got myself out the door.  It was another gorgeous day for a run, and I started my slow trek up the street thinking that this would be the start to many weekend runs over the next few months.  My workout plan guidance barked out the walk/run intervals I’d set up the night before.  They weren’t overly ambitious, but I needed to feel like I could start at this place near the bottom and feel encouraged when I improved.  The first running interval, my lungs burned, and my knee wanted to protest, but I kept it up until the walk interval kicked in and saved me.     

My playlist was spot-on, too.  I was rounding the corner, starting on the third running interval, when one of the songs came on that I picked based on the title without ever hearing it before.  If I hadn’t been trying to keep up my pace, I probably would have stopped dead in my tracks, but I plodded on, listening in awe to the lyrics.  On a playlist with songs one would be more likely to find on Hair Nation or Ozzy’s Boneyard than Joy FM Christian radio, one of a handful of inspirational songs came on. It was called “Get Your Hopes Up” by Josh Baldwin.  I’d never heard the song or the artist before, and had added it on a whim.  The song lyrics began:

 Get Your Hopes Up*

I see the sun waking up in the morning

Reviving dreams

I feel the wind on my back with promise

Reminding me

There’s a garment of praise for heaviness

There’s a new song burning inside my chest

I’m living in the goodness that He brings.

Those words were exactly what I needed to hear.  I wanted to know that I wasn’t in it alone and that it was okay to aspire to things within times of uncertainty in my abilities and circumstances.  I wasn’t too old for new beginnings, and I wasn’t out of line to dream outside the box. I wanted validation, and a simple, randomly shuffled song on my playlist during a run was where I found it that day.  It went deeper than just the running, it was a rare moment that filled me with peace about where I was in my life in that very moment.  It’s only when doodles and thoughts on notebook pages become action that life happens, in spite of loved ones on Hospice, kids leaving home and getting older.

I have twelve weeks to get ready for this half marathon. This time I signed up to train with a running group on Saturday mornings so I can’t talk myself out of those long runs on the weekend.  Because I’m terrified of getting left behind somewhere unfamiliar on a group run, I know I’ll be working on keeping my pace up, too.  Nothing like a little peer pressure for motivation to not slack off. 

Oh, and a good playlist.  I have an awesome, eclectic playlist to keep me going that seems to have been divinely shuffled.  Everyone needs one of those.

*written by Josh Baldwin, Bobby Strand, Nate Moore, Tony Brown

© 2016 Bethel Music Publishing (ASCAP) / Bethel Worship Publishing (BMI) / Mouth of the River Music (BMI) (admin by Bethel Worship Publishing) / Tony Brown Music Designee (BMI) (admin by Bethel Worship Publishing). 

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B-Sides and Angry White Man Music

Joe and the Boys back in the day...

Joe and the Boys back in the day…

Last week Tyler and his friend stopped by the house for a bit around lunchtime. Before they left, he told me that they had been listening to CDs that I’d made on the computer that they’d found in Darrell’s old car that Tyler drives. Apparently his friend was surprised that the music on the CDs was mine. Tyler said, “Yeah, we call my mom’s music Angry White Man Music”. I had to laugh because he actually said it with a little bit of pride. Personally, I can be a little self-conscious about my taste in music because it doesn’t seem very cultured or Mom-like.

For example, not too long ago we were at a get together at our friend’s house and the subject turned to music and old 80s bands, which I love to talk about. I can’t even remember exactly what or who we were discussing, but it was probably along the lines of what bands some musicians had bounced around between and what they were up to now. After a while I looked around and realized that all the women were gathered in the kitchen, while I was in the living room with all the guys. I’m guessing women who are sports enthusiasts experience that kind of thing a lot, but I felt like I’d breached some kind of social etiquette even though they’re all good friends of ours and they love me anyway.

Back in my high school days, when everyone else loved Madonna and Michael Jackson, I was listening to Dokken, Triumph, Whitesnake and hair bands. It was just weird to people that a girl would prefer heavy metal—at least at my high school. (Clarification: what was called heavy metal in the 80s was not speed or death metal like it references more today. I think now it’s classified as “hard rock” and some even labeled—gasp—classic rock). I tried to like the pop stuff, and some I did listen to, but it wasn’t my go-to genre. I think a lot of girls did like the type of music I did, but a lot of them were the groupie types that just liked the bad boy images of the bands. I was not a groupie—I truly liked the music and loved learning the stories of the bands. Although I’ll admit I secretly thought someday I’d meet Joe Elliott from Def Leppard and sweep him off his feet. Good thing that didn’t happen.

Looking back, I think it had a lot to do with my attitude and personality in high school. I didn’t fit into any of the particular “groups” in high school, but I had friends in each of them. I was an Honor Roll student, but I wasn’t intellectual enough to fit in with the Brains. I certainly wasn’t in with the Jocks or Popular Crowd. I wasn’t a Rebel, but I was friends with a lot of kids who were considered a part of that group, even though they really weren’t once you knew them. (Just typing these labels makes me laugh a little—and think of The Breakfast Club.) To me, my taste in music only solidified my identity in that I didn’t really have to like everything that all the kids my age did. Oooh, what a rebel I was!

Before high school, I remember listening to entire albums and always liking the other songs, the B-sides, more than the hits. The B-side of one of my Blondie 45s back in third grade was a song called Suzy and Jeffrey, which I listened to much more than Rapture. And when we got our 8-track tape player in the living room, you were kind of forced to listen to the whole album, or at least how it got divided up into four quarters. If the song you liked was the second song on Track 2, you could push the button to cycle back to Track 2, but you most likely had to listen to the song before it if it wasn’t the first one on the track. And what a shame it was when a song got cut up into two separate tracks!

Today, I have to explain to my kids what a B-side on a 45 was. They know CDs of course, but they mostly download all their music on their phones or iPods. Consequently, I think they miss out on a lot of great tunes because they mostly only download the songs they hear on the radio, and not the entire album. If I were a recording artist that would make me a little sad, because songs that are considered commercial successes by the record companies aren’t always a musicians’ most favorite, heartfelt work. While I’m sure they cry all the way to the bank, it would be discouraging to me to know that my personal masterpiece is buried on an album where only a few people bother to listen to it.

Almost 30 years and three kids later, my favorite satellite radio station is Hair Nation. But I’ve branched out a lot since then—if you look at my iPod you’ll find everything from Alan Jackson singing church hymns to Avenged Sevenfold. Still probably a little light on the pop, but now when I hear those pop songs from the 80s that I got so sick of back then I love them, because they bring back great memories. And they’re much better than I remember.

Nowadays, I like a lot of what’s considered alternative rock bands, like Rise Against and the Offspring. I love to listen to my “Angry White Man Music” when I’m running or working out for obvious reasons. And I confess I’m the Mom who has to be careful what’s playing with the kids in the car. I don’t want one of their friends to report to their parents the lyrics of Panic at the Disco’s I Write Sins Not Tragedies after I take them to Girl Scout camp! I have found some great Christian bands like Kutless, Thousand Foot Krutch and Skillet so I can get the rock sound with more uplifting lyrics at least. Still, when the time comes for me to hit the Retirement Home, I hope they play Breaking Benjamin at the parties instead of Justin Bieber. I’m sure I’ll be in good company, right?

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