Friday, September 24, 2010

My baby girl is filled with music. Quite literally, it permeates every cell of her being. Shakira beams with melody. And her sunshine is very contagious.

Last night Corbin and I traveled to her first Symphony Orchestra Concert at Colorado State University. The Symphony Orchestra is very impressive, with many graduate performance-artist students participating. Truly breathtaking was the Brahms' Second Symphony, the Elgar's Concerto for Cello (performed brilliantly by soloist Barbara Thiem, world renowned cellist, and Shakira's professor), and piece by American composer Samuel Barber. Shakira expressed her feelings to me in a note before the performance, "Prepare to be amazed...this music moves me to tears, that is how incredible it is."

And amazed I was. And moved to tears...let me share why. As I sat observing the beauty of the group, the pure, lovely sound of the instruments melding together into the perfection intended by the composers, my Shakira still stood out. I watched the gorgeous posture she demonstrates as she wraps her body around her instrument. She is in love! And the peace and tranquility of her facial features as she experiences the piece are a joy to behold. I was taken back...

Back to the fifth and sixth grade, when the passion began. She was a pleasure to watch at the tender ages of 10 and 11! Unknown to Shakira, her tongue moved, outside of her mouth, in time with her bow! Her concentration was so deep. Everyone observing smiled at Shakira, her wonderful new skills, and her tongue! This was when we knew that our daughter was not just a kid wanting to play an instrument, but a true musician in the making. We never reminded her to practice. When returning home from school, she would immediately begin playing, for hours on end. Her skills quickly grew. And our home was filled with "The Crawdad Song" played sometimes at lightning speed.

The love continued into middle school, when many of her fellow orchestra students decided they liked soccer better, or drama, or just boys. Her desire and determination to play her cello only grew. And she played her heart out in the orchestras of two different high schools, and with the Colorado Youth Symphony Orchestra. She spent countless hours in private lessons, with teachers she loved and ones she just endured. And she continued to practice every day for hours, playing composers like Bach and Vivaldi.

For many years, my home has been filled with my daughter's music. There was a night last year, when Corbin and I were making dinner, that we both just stopped and listened to the magnificent Bach Prelude Shakira was playing. We were basking in the exquisiteness that surrounded us, filled with gratitude for this gift of a child that was ours. Now as she is away, our home is very quiet, and perhaps it is the lack of Shakira and her cello that cause us to feel so lonely. I realize, however, that she is doing EXACTLY what she should be doing and is exactly in the right place.

Last night I marvelled as my fabulous daughter played her heart out. I marvel that she has so amazingly developed this beautiful gift that has been given her. I marvel that she wants to share her love of music as an educator, and is well on her way to doing that. I marvel at the beauty that is Shakira and her cello. I am crazy, crazy, crazy-thankful.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Thankful on Sept. 15, 2010

"I always felt like I was Charlie Brown, and you were the little red-haired girl," he said as (through his pointy-down eyelashes) he searched the eyes of his dear, long-time friend, hoping for something more than friendship in her heart and spirit. Needless to say, she melted, and he won her affection for all time.

And thus began this marvelous love story...on September 15, 1988, the day before I left to go to college 13 hours away. It is a love deeply based in friendship. It is a love that has endured many challenges and hardships. It is a love that has seen incredible joy and sunshine. It is a love that prevails all. It is a love that is passionate and treasured.

We were married two years later, on September 15, 1990 on the Johnson's front lawn. We both couldn't wait to just get on with our life together. And what a life it has been.

We once had a wonderful bishop who offered council to the members of our ward from the pulpit. He said, "Husbands and wives, I look out and see you sitting as families on benches, husband, child, child, child, wife. But husbands and wives should be sitting next to each other, with the children all around." Now, one may wonder why I would bring up such a silly story. Well, this talk by Bishop Shelley set the stage for our entire marriage. Corbin and I are the union. We cling to each other and try to never let anything between us, including our children. "Poor Iver and Shakira," you may say. But the truth is quite the contrary! Iver and Shakira feel very loved and adored, they also feel incredible gratitude for the love that created them, and they hope for the same! There is nothing more important and precious to me than my beautiful husband. He is truly my everything.

So thankful for this amazing man and the love we share. Crazy-thankful.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Thankful on Sept. 14, 2010

Do you see those insane beans growing in the left corner of my garden?! I have to tell you. Beans give me a little thrill. And mine are just coming on...

I have a history with beans. A painful one, in fact. You see, it was my parent's quest in life to make my childhood miserable in the summertime. Their's wasn't quite a was a monstrous plot of torture. Every morning, for hours on end (keep in mind that is time measured by an 11 year old), I was required to weed. And this I did as all of my neighborhood friends looked through the holes in our wooden fence and felt sorry for me. Once a week, an entire afternoon and evening was spent sitting indian-style on a sheet in the living room, by the side of a gigantic mountain of beans, snapping, snapping, snapping. I hated those beans. And while my friends were enjoying lasagna, pizza, hamburgers every night for dinner, I had to endure beans, potatoes, zucchini, cucumbers and corn. All from the garden. I was quite a wretched soul.

Fast forward to forty. This year I decided it was time to make peace with gardening and Corbin and I went about creating lovely little plots and bringing in rich soil and compost to enrich our city dirt. I lovingly made little trellises for my pole beans and gently patted the seeds into the ground. I watered and wed those seeds, along with our cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, watermelon, peanuts, peppers and herbs. Before I know it, my beans were like rocket ships, shooting to the sky! I could hardly believe it. Everything grew quickly, and we were enjoying the fruits of our labors within several short weeks.

Each time my dad has visited this summer, he heads out to the garden. He looks around and shakes his head, obviously amazed that this beauty and bounty could come from his loathsome child. He is proud of me! It's quite awesome! And I realize that he is not just proud of my mad skills in the garden, but of the person he and my mother helped me to become.

And now the beans are coming on. The vines have grown as high as the fence, even have begun to climb our neighbor's tree! Yesterday Corbin picked a couple of handfuls, and I snapped them then made one of those dishes I disdained so much from childhood, beans and potatoes. It was heaven.

So thankful for my garden in the ghetto. And for parents who cultivated kids alongside their vegetables? Crazy-thankful.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Thankful on Sept. 13, 2010

So thankful for passionate love!! And thankful for Johnny Cash who so fabulously describes it:

"Love, is a burning thing,
And it makes a fiery ring.
Bound by wild desire,
I fell into a ring of fire.

The taste of love is sweet,
When hearts like ours meet.
I fell for you like a child.
Oh, but the fire went wild!

I fell into a burning ring of fire.
I went down, down, down and the flames went higher!
And it burns, burns, burns the ring of fire.
The ring of fire."

This week, Corbin and I celebrate our love and life together. There are so many associated blessings...but today I'm thankful for the passion. It has been a hot twenty-two years, but still the flames are going higher! Passion is our specialty, and yes, you should be jealous!

We began our celebration this weekend, at Glenwood Hot Springs. Hot springs are our favorite little get-away (we usually prefer A LOT less people and naked, at our secluded little spot in Buena Vista, but when the universe only allows you a one day vacation, you take what you can get!). We blasted Johnny all the way home, singing at the top of our lungs.

What can I say? Some like it hot. Crazy-thankful.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Thankful on Sept. 10, 2010

Thankful today for the memories that cause me to smile through the tears of missing my children...

I think of my four-year-old little dirt-magnet Shakira, cruising the rocky driveway on her bicycle with Dave, the kindergarten chicken, holding tight to the handlebars. Beautiful, dirty Shakira, with the sun shining through her white curls, has always had that light-shimmering smile that brings me so much joy.

When Iver was a toddler, thrilled and obsessed with dinosaurs, he very often roamed the earth in velociraptor stance. Tiptoes, some bizarre, two-fingered hand position and loud, warped growl-sounds permeated my days. It all became quite humorous the day he, in said stance, bit his Grandma J. on the butt. Iver's twisted humor began at birth, and has always brought me joy.

Thankful that 22 years ago, Corbin looked at me with such gentleness and love, through those fabulous pointy-down eyelashes of his. He still looks at me that way. And his older, softened features continue to thrill me after all of this time. Crazy-thankful.

Thankful on Sept. 9, 2010

Today I am thankful that Iver is well and happy and making the most of his detour through Moses Lake. I laid awake most of Monday night, thinking of him, worrying for him, convinced (as I am very prone to do to myself) that something was wrong. It was a great relief on Tuesday morning, when I happened to be on the computer at the same time as him (and able to have a brief email-back-and-forth chat) and he said, "Thanks for praying for me. I'm doing good! It's rainy here and gray, and it's easy to be thinking about Mexico...maybe that's why you were worried." He's OK, and I'm very grateful.

I am also thankful that Shakira survived her first college flipping-over-the-handlebars bike crash without being hurt beyond just sore. Whew. Also glad I didn't know about it until the evening, as the psychotic mommy in me would have immediately driven to Ft. Collins upon hearing the news.

And Corbin has this wonderful stubbly beard going on right now...with little bits of silver catching the light. So sexy. So thankful.