My Peaceful, Easy Feeling

Monday afternoon I saw the news that Glenn Frey, the founder of The Eagles, died. People all over are paying their respects online, telling story after story of his gift touching their hearts.

What a connection I had with his brilliant music. I’m among the mourners.

Just about a week ago, my family of five was driving from Denver to Phoenix to watch Clemson play Alabama in the National Championships.

Although I was in an F150 and not a flatbed Ford, when we passed through Winslow, Arizona I sang one of my favorite lines from that song. And sang loud.

Winslow Arizona Take It Easy

My singing is part why I’m convinced my husband stayed awake on that 13+ hour both ways family road trip. He may politely beg to differ. My love for music [and car singing] is no surprise though for those who know me best.

I even pulled up Take It Easy on Youtube from my phone for my entire family to hear. After playing [and the two adults in the car singing] the song, I explained to my kids who The Eagles are. They willingly obliged with listening ears. I think it went right over their heads.

I didn’t explain it all, though – who The Eagles are to me. I have a feeling one day I will.

Aside from remembering their song Heartache Tonight as a little kid, I was introduced to the band during my Freshman year in high school. Circa 1989. We went to the mountains of North Carolina to Windy Gap for our Young Life camp.

Seven Bridges Road was one of the songs we sang. That and All I Want is You by U2. I remember thinking it was so cool that we had a little rock-n-roll in our worship time + that God and music were pulled together in such a beautiful way. And whoever these people were, I wanted to hear more.

I also listened to The Eagles’ songs on my walkman in the backseat of my parents car on the way to my basketball games. Every week. I realize The Eagles may not be some people’s pump up music on game day, but they sure were mine.

Speaking of cars, do you remember your first one? Mine was a Mazda 626. Powder blue. Four speed. Nothing automatic about it. Not the transmission, not the door locks, not the windows.

It was a car my Dad had bought from his older brother to give my older sister, which was then handed down to me when she left for college.

I always had hoped my Dad would buy a car from his older brother but had a different one in mind. My cousin Angela drove a cherry red Honda prelude. With a sunroof. And personalized license plates.

I remember the first time I saw those plates [I’ve always had an eye for detail] was Christmas Day at my Grandma Long’s house. The coolest of cars displaying “APL” on the tags was parked street-side as we drove up Sunset Drive.

As a girl who loves a monogram, this spoke volumes to me. My cousin also wore monogrammed sweaters. I was in awe.

However, I was sincerely grateful when it was my turn to have a car no matter what kind it was, and I loved that I could drive a stick. At the time, my parents thought it was important we girls know how.

My Dad had me practice in the parking lot of his business which had a slight incline. If you didn’t get it right, you ended up in the middle of the four-lane highway which was Main Street in Mauldin, South Carolina. I learned real fast.

Just before I finished my senior year of high school, my parents surprised me with a white Mazda RX-7, also a stick shift. We were at the old Greenville Mall after church to eat one Sunday afternoon.

My Dad kept getting up, going in and out and I wondered what was going on. When we walked outside and I saw the giant orange bow, it clicked.

I squealed, jumped up and down, and leaped separately into my parents arms like a little kid.

PeacefulEasyFeelingCar

My Mom gave me a gift that day in May 1993 just as memorable as the new car. Two cassette tapes of the Eagles…Their Greatest Hits and Eagles Greatest Hits, Vol. 2.

I left that afternoon and went straight to pick up my best friend and give her a ride around town. Then I picked up my boyfriend and we did the same. Then I drove by myself.

I put 100 miles on my car that day and was gone for almost 3 hours. All listening to The Eagles with the windows down and sunroof open.

Such a happy day in my memory bank of teenage life. That car + that music represented freedom to me.

I had a chance to see them in concert when I was 20. I bought tickets. They came to Clemson in June 1996 to perform in Death Valley the summer between my junior and senior year in college.

Boy was I looking forward to seeing them live! Except there was another big adventure waiting for me that summer. For that reason, I didn’t see the show.

I accepted a summer job at a mountain resort in Grand Lake, Colorado. Across the country, two time zones away from everything I ever knew.

And yet a whole new kind of experience that would eventually bring me out west after graduating from Clemson.

I remember interviewing on the phone. After a lengthy conversation, the owner asked me why he should hire me.

With my 20-year old confidence in need of a little refinement, since in my mind I had already answered all his questions, I said “I’m a hard worker. And I don’t do anything half-as*…I mean half-way, sir.”

Once he stopped laughing, he said “You’re hired! We’ll see you in June.”

And although I didn’t want to miss out on that concert, I’m really glad I didn’t miss out on that summer, and on Colorado.

Whenever I hear The Eagles on the radio I always stop to listen to the station. I used to have their piano book and loved playing Lyin’ Eyes, Best of My Love, and the powerful chords in Take It to the Limit.

I see Amazon still carries it and have added it to the business book in my shopping cart from earlier today. I’m ready to be reacquainted.

I never did see them live in concert. I’ll now play my own to an audience of one.

So as the surprising news of Glenn Frey’s passing was sinking in, a flood of memories came back. A few minutes later tears formed in my eyes.

I can be stoic, which has been of great benefit at times in my life. At other times, I wonder why I’m the one who can cry at what seems like unusual situations.

I’m learning to embrace that instead of fight against it. What a relief! Know why?

God knows what He’s doing when He wires us. After all, I’m made in His image + He created me this way for a purpose.

Plus, I’ve seen a couple of awesome quotes on Pinterest about us sensitive types. Me being a lover of language, I get excited over a powerful stringing of words 🙂

Dreamer Doer Seeker

After praying for Mr. Frey’s family and bandmates, mine turned to prayers of gratitude for his gift and his sharing of that gift.

I have a friend who’s recently challenged me to look at when strong emotion strikes. Notice when change surfaces and stop to think why instead of brushing it off.

I did that today.

I knew that some of my unexpected tears accumulating in my eyes were grateful ones. Tears for his sharing of an innate gift of music with others, which gave me freedom at a time in my life when I so desperately wanted it. Music that made me feel calm when my world sometimes felt like shaky ground.

I’m taken back to the 17-year old girl that day in May 1993, and what was occurring in her life then and in the not so distant future ahead.

And what I would give as a grown woman today to wrap my arms around her. Hold her face in my hands and look her in the eyes. Speak truth into her heart.

Those were the other half of the tears that filled my eyes and, for a moment, the ones who fell free down my cheek.

But you know what made them all dry beautifully? Knowing now that God had His arms wrapped around me. The whole time!

There are days I would give most anything to see the stars from the southern sky. The moonlight and moss in the trees.

Yet I also know the view of seeing those same stars even closer from a gorgeous Rocky Mountain sky.

My Mom remembers me calling her that summer almost 20 years ago. Gushing over how beautiful looking at the stars could be. I’d never seen anything like it.

No matter where I’m seeing the stars, there is indeed a taste of time sweetened honey. Because as a 40-year old woman I can see that He has been there every step of the way, on whichever bridge or road I traveled.

He has loved me like a baby
Like some lonesome child
He has loved me in a tame way
And He has loved me wild

And that is the best kind of peaceful, easy feeling there is.

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Welcome Home

Welcome Home, Doll

The engine roars as our plane makes its final descent…my eyes are closed…”Thank you, Jesus, for a safe flight.” My air travels always begin with a prayer my nearly-92 year old Grandmother prayed over me when I had moved to Denver 17 years ago.

I had come back for a Clemson game, and it was time for me to return to Colorado. She hugged and kissed me goodbye as I was leaving for the airport, and she prayed for “the pilot to have steady hands and a clear mind”.

Ever since, I pray her words when the plane takes off. Every.single.time. I admit I sometimes add on to that for all our luggage to make it on the plane, especially on connecting flights. Upon landing, a prayer of thanksgiving is given, grateful that we’ve arrived safely.

Grandma Long

Visiting Grandma Long

The wheels on the jet that day were just about to touch down. I could feel the bump bump bump with anticipation. My older two children threw their hands up in the air like we’re on a roller coaster and squeal “wheeee!”.

Thank goodness they know how to buckle their seat belts tight as I was using my arm to hold back my youngest, who was excited to now have his very own seat and insisted on copying his brother and sister’s every move. They’ve all been counting the days until we were there. It’s always a highlight of our Summer. We were all smiling!

All of a sudden I hear “Welcome home, doll.” I could hear his voice. Those were always the first words my Dad would greet me with at the airport when I’d fly back to South Carolina. Always.

It’s still so strange for me to land at GSP and not see him. I still tear up, expecting him to be there. The last picture I have with him is at the airport when I flew back to Colorado after our family beach trip in July 2012. He died 6 weeks later.

Me and Dad last pic

Our last picture…me & Dad

This was my third time back since his passing. Every time, it’s like the bandaids are ripped right off again. I can’t help but cry. I do believe since I live so far away and am removed from the day to day of being “right in” where he was, that my grief hasn’t been totally dealt with.

On the one hand, it hasn’t even been two years. On the other, it feels like forever. Thankful for plenty of smiles to help dry those tears in remembering all the special times my husband, kids, and I have had there, and will continue to make when we visit.

Despite sadness welling up inside because Dad wouldn’t be there, I was filled with joy in anticipation of seeing my younger sister, her family, and my Mom there to greet us that day. Time spent with them is always treasured and full of fun, and I was so excited to soak them in along with the rest of my family we’d be visiting!

Mom and kids airport.jpg

My Mom, my children & my nephew upon our arrival

Now I realize people either loathe or appreciate humidity. Personally I’m a fan as one instantly looks at least 5 years younger when enveloped in it, plus we all save room in the suitcase with no need to pack lotion. My sweet husband is the opposite and feels suffocated by it, bless his heart!

In all sincerity, one of my favorite moments each time I deplane at GSP is when I feel the humidity literally smack me in the face. I absolutely love it. It means I’m home.

What do you treasure most about where you’re originally from?

A Missed James Taylor Concert = A Blog Is Born!

Concert tickets. Something that seems so trivial, yet something important to me. Music has always resonated with me across a variety of genres. Emotion. Memories. Energy.

One of my all time favorite artists…James Taylor…is playing not 5 miles away from my house right now. A part of me wants to throw caution to the wind and drive to Red Rocks Amphitheater to try and hear him sing even if only from the parking lot. Those lyrics…those songs…they have been a constant in my life for over two decades.

I started listening to the original “JT” in high school. He, the Eagles, and Stevie Nicks were my favorites. I remember my Mom gifting me two Eagles tapes the day my parents gave me an early high school graduation present, a white Mazda RX7. I played those over and over and just drove. Freedom!

At Clemson, I used to take naps during the day (more often than I should) and at night fall asleep to James Taylor’s Greatest Hits. My roommates will even tell you hearing his songs reminds them of me. Those soothing sounds helped lull me away to a place where I felt safe. Asleep. College was some of the most memorable years of my life in both wonderful and horrible ways. I would always rest easy though, listening to his music.

Bid Day

ADPi Bid Day, Clemson 1993

My Mom took me to his concert 20 years ago. She knew then the importance of music to me. I’ve since worn out a tape and two CD’s of the same album. Music relates.

After moving to Colorado, when I would get so homesick for South Carolina, those songs would bring tears to my eyes. Although the tears would fall, I couldn’t turn it off. I’ve taught myself lots of music by ear on the piano…long after the years of lessons as a young girl passed. Sometimes I just play it to hear the notes when I’m by myself. Although I have the Greatest Hits piano book, when I play I most often tickle the keys by memory. Music soothes.

I remember one of my dearest college friends dancing with her Dad on her wedding day to Fire and Rain. She told me he had always sang that to her through the years. I smiled with misty eyes watching them so beautifully glide across the floor and imagined her as a child dancing on her daddy’s toes, much like I did with my Dad when I was young. In that moment that’s probably how he saw her, too. Every time I hear that song, I think of their amazing relationship. Music inspires.

When I married, our guests received CD’s filled with our favorite songs as wedding favors. He was one of the first on my list of songs as well as on our wedding highlight video. Music delights. 

Wedding CD

Wedding Favor CD, April 2002

When our babies were born, I always played music in their rooms to help them drift off to sleep. Beautiful lullabies, hymns, sometimes even Baby Elvis, and of course, James Taylor. I especially loved rocking them and singing Sweet Baby James, You’ve Got A Friend, and Carolina In My Mind. As they grew, I danced with them around the family room to How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You). Music connects.

Imagine my excitement when ringtones arrived! My Mom and younger sister were affectionally given Boogie Shoes. So appropriate and vibrant for them. They have a zest for life! I smiled every time they called. My Dad and my older sister rang Carolina in My Mind. Equally appropriate and welcoming for them. They remind me of an oak tree, so strong and steady! I smiled every time they called. Now when I hear the song, I often cry. My Dad passed away a year and a half ago. I had to take the ringtone off as when my sister called, there were times for an instant I thought it was him. It used to be a sobbing, can’t control it, ugly cry. Now it’s more of a healing one. Music speaks.

Every night after prayers and high-low points, I sing to my children. They have their two favorites. One night my little girl asked “Mama one more?” and I turned to James Taylor. Although my a capella voice sounds nothing like that of a recording artist, to my children it is peaceful and calming. I love that they ask me to sing and to them, it’s comforting. That night I sang Carolina In My Mind. She started to cry. I asked why, and she said it reminded her of my Dad. In our minds, Carolina is family. It’s my heritage, my roots. It’s my children’s second home. We cried together, talking about life, death, family, and memories. We held each other. Me and my 7 year old. Music heals.

So tonight, I will sit on my back deck and hope to hear a little sound. Although with his soft tones, I am not expecting it to reach my ears from even those few miles away. That’s okay, because I have the true music inside. I can hear it whenever I choose…

Litchfield Beach, July 2011

Litchfield Beach, July 2011

I am grateful the Good Lord blessed us with musical ability, some more than others 😉 Whether praising Him, softly singing bedtime songs to my children, or just driving and hearing “my music” now on the easy listening channel while rockin’ out in a minivan, I am amazed at how something can so deeply move me.

What speaks to you? Please do share in the comments.