Monday, October 27, 2008

Red Hot Rockin' Mama -- Do It!

Yesterday was performance day. I was surprised that I didn’t feel as nervous as I expected. In fact, I didn’t feel particularly nervous until taking my seat on the stage. At that point, a few little flutters of nerves blew through me, but it was much more comfortable than I had expected. So, I got through the live performance in front of an audience and I felt good about it, but the real accomplishment of the weekend was not the showcase performance, but the act of actually signing up, attending, learning, struggling, overcoming and doing it at all. Thank goodness for the community of dozens of supportive women. John Bingham, one of my favorite running writers, says, “The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” That’s true in so many areas of our lives and it was brought home to me this weekend. The Ladies Rock Camp was an enriching, enlightening, enjoyable experience. But the fact that I signed up and persevered throughout it is what gives me the greatest sense of accomplishment; the performance was just the icing on that cake – not necessarily the best icing I’ve ever tasted, but sweet nonetheless.

For information on Ladies Rock Camp or Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls, go to

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Red Hot Rockin' Mama? Yikes!

Yesterday I was pumped. Yesterday I felt successful. Yesterday I was dreaming of the wonderful performance my band and I would give on Sunday. Today? Today, I sucked! After a two-hour class on drum instruction, I had to go for a walk because I was so frustrated by my lack of ability. I couldn’t get my hands and feet to do what my mind wanted. This afternoon, my band mates and I had a great “quiet” practice where we worked on our song lyrics and the basic sound of the song. We then had a “loud” practice where we got to play. We worked and worked, but still I could not get back what I’d had yesterday. Then, we had a rehearsal where we had to get up in front of the other camp attendees and play our song. We were awful!! We stopped in the middle of the first verse and didn’t even finish our song. I would have liked to have walked out right then and there. We were, without a doubt, the worst band! But then we went back for another hour of “loud” practice and two things happened: first, one of the instructors took pity on us and came to our practice room and helped us out – a lot; then, second, I found the beat! I’d watched the drummer of the band that entertained us at lunch and I tried mimicking her movements and, suddenly, there it was – the beat! I had been ready to come home and post a blog saying that the venue had been changed to Seattle so that no one would show up, but once I got the beat, everything fell into place. We won’t be the best band tomorrow, but I’m sure we won’t be the worst. I’m amazed that, at fifty, I could tackle this, suffer frustration and humiliation, and still find my way to success. I’m pumped! I’m rockin’! And I can’t wait to get on the stage again tomorrow! This is really stepping out for me and it feels terrific!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Red Hot Rockin' Mama? Yes!!

A few weeks ago I wrote about my upcoming Ladies Rock Camp weekend. Well, this is the weekend. Today was the first of three days of Rock Camp. I played the drums – I can actually play a drum sequence! Someone even asked me if I’ve taken lessons. As I wrote a few weeks ago, I was really starting to regret signing up for this experience, but I also knew that if I went I’d come out of it with a true feeling of accomplishment. So, I pushed myself today. I pushed myself to meet people; I pushed myself to “fit in” in a very diverse group; and, best of all, I pushed myself to perform! When they asked for volunteers to make up a demonstration band, I raised my hand and went on stage, in the capacity of a musician, for the first time in my life. I wasn’t very good; I was actually quite hesitant about making any noise on my drums, but I got up on stage in front of a room full of strangers and performed. Wow! It felt almost as good as finishing the half-marathon last weekend. Actually, I expect Sunday’s more formal performance to equal or exceed the half-marathon high. Speaking of Sunday’s performance, I wasn’t sure I was going to give anyone the details, but here goes: for anyone interested, the Ladies Rock Camp Showcase is this Sunday, October 26th from 3:00 to 5:00 at Satyricon (located at 125 NW 6th in Portland). There is a $5 or $10 charge to enter (I assume that’s $5 for children and $10 for adults); the entrance fee is a benefit for the Rock ‘N’ Roll Camp for Girls. Rock on!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

As Good As It Gets?

This morning my future daughter-in-law and I ran/walked a half-marathon. It was her first half-marathon, so she had a personal best; I’ve done several and this was not my personal best (2nd best, I think, but I was hoping for better). I have problems with my knees and, as in the past, they gave out before the race was over. I’ve had to stop running at six miles, eight miles and, today, at seven miles. I don’t quit the event; I just start walking…fast. I’d love to be able to run the entire way; I love the way running feels, but my knees just don’t seem to go along with my plans. I’ve tried to improve my knees with physical therapy, exercise and stretching, but long distances, specifically on pavement, just don’t work for me. I went into the race today knowing that I might have to again switch from running to walking and I felt okay about that. I felt bad about holding back my running partner, but I was okay with not being able to run the entire way. Since I love running, I’ll just keep going at it and, if and when necessary, I’ll switch to walking. I could easily walk the entire distance, but then I’d miss the thrill of running, even if I’m not able to do it for the entire race. Would I like to run the entire distance? You bet! But, if only running part way and walking the rest is all I can do; if that’s as good as it gets, well, that’s okay too.

Darn Crows!

One evening last week I went out to dinner with a group of friends. Before leaving the house, I went upstairs to my room to brush my teeth and freshen up my make-up. I dabbed on a little under eye cover-up and brushed some powder over my face to hide any shine. As it sometimes does, my make-up brush left a few stray hairs on my face; I picked one off from my forehead and tried to brush one away from beside my right eye. I brushed at it a couple of times, but couldn’t get it to budge. Thinking that this little hair was just stuck to my face, I went to the magnifying mirror to pluck it away only to find that it wasn’t a stray brush hair at all, it was a line, a.k.a. a wrinkle, one toe of a crow’s foot. If only we could just brush the winkles away like a stray piece of hair. I looked in the mirror and laughed at myself. What else could I do?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Red Hot Rockin' Mama?

If you read the sidebar, “About Me”, you know that one of my dreams in life has been to play the drums. When I was a child, there was never money for that sort of dream and, I admit, I never again voiced my dream until a few years ago. Once I mentioned the idea, my husband, being the wonderful person he is, gave me a drum set for Christmas. It’s a really pretty set – red, of course. It’s set up in an alcove of our upstairs hallway. My plan for each of the last several years has been to learn to play those drums – that hasn’t happened. Then, last year I read in O, The Oprah Magazine about a Ladies’ Rock Camp. This camp, offered two or three times a year, is a fundraiser for the Girls’ Rock Camps that are offered in the summer. And the best part is that the camp is located right here in Portland, Oregon. They claim that no experience is necessary, so, naturally, I signed up.

I initially found out about the class and began the enrollment process over a year ago. I had hoped that before attending I would actually gain some experience on the drums either through lessons or self-teaching videos. While I’m happy with my progress toward my goal of writing regularly this year, I have not done anything toward my goal of learning to play the drums. Now, the camp is two weeks away and I’m beginning to feel a bit nervous. Last week I confided to a friend that I’m really not very good at taking risks of this sort. I do a lot of things well, so I tend to stick with the areas in which I know I can excel. Now I’m set to go to a three-day camp with women from all over the country; many of whom are accomplished and/or professional musicians. On the first day of camp we have to connect with others and form a band and then on the last day of the camp we have to give an actual, public performance! What was I thinking?

I initially felt this same kind of nervousness about participating in walking and running events. I’ve overcome that fear by reminding myself of the exuberance I feel at the end of a race, regardless of how far back in the pack I finish. I have given serious consideration to canceling my participation in this camp, but I keep reminding myself that it’s just like walking or running an event. I’m not there to impress anyone else; I’m there to fulfill a dream of my own. I’d like to be able to say, “So what if I bomb on stage?” but, the reality is, I don’t want to bomb. I want to do well. Right now, however, the challenge isn’t getting up on stage; the challenge is getting myself to go to camp that first day. Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Slacker Mom

Our middle son graduated from high school a year-and-a-half ago. He stayed home that fall, working and attending the local community college. By spring, he knew he needed to move on and out, so he moved to Tacoma to work while waiting to start school at a four-year university there this fall. It was time for him to try his wings and we were happy that he was finally ready. He lived on his own for five months and then moved into the dorms at school. I had known when school was starting, but I hadn’t realized that the dorms opened up a week in advance for incoming freshman and transfer students so I was surprised when he sent a text picture of his room and then called to say that he had moved in and met his roommate. He jokingly told me that he and his roommate were the only new students without parents helping them move in. I hadn’t even known he was planning to move then. He ended that conversation with a laugh, saying that he and his roommate had decided that it was probably better that their parents weren’t there since, were we there, they would probably just want us to leave. How well I remember helping our oldest son move into school the first time. I tried to help him unpack boxes and make his bed. He finally looked at me and said, “Mom, you can go now. I can do this myself.” Then, child number two comes along and I’m not even there when he moves to college for the first time. Let me just say, as an aside, that I would have been, had I known. However, I hadn’t known and I felt like a slacker mom.

That was almost two months ago. Since then, we’ve been up to see our son’s dorm and he’s been home a couple of times. He’s home this weekend and, when he arrived, he went out to the garage to look for something. He came back in carrying a zip-front sweatshirt that I didn’t recognize. He said to me in a somewhat-joking tone, “Mom, I know you’ve had a lot going on, but do you remember when I called after I was here last and said I’d left a sweatshirt that belonged to someone else and asked you to send it to me? And, I don’t want to make you feel bad, but do you remember how you said you’d send it and you’d include a care package for me?” Yikes! Somewhere in the depths of my brain little bells were going off. I vaguely remembered this conversation, but I also realized that, since I didn’t write myself a sticky note about it, the entire conversation went to the recesses of my mind, taken over undoubtedly by some other more immediate, read “local”, need. It’s true that life’s been a little busy around here lately, but added to that is the fact that this son moved out so easily. He was ready to go, he had his plan formulated before approaching us, he stays in touch, but I think he’s enjoyed his new freedoms and independence. It’s been easy to just let him be without too much worrying. That does not, however, excuse my error in forgetting to send his package. I would LOVE to send him a care package; that’s such a new-kid-at-school kind of thing to do. I hugged my son and apologized profusely. He just chuckled at me. I said, “I can’t believe I forgot about that! I’m just a slacker mom!” At that he gave me his million-dollar smile and said, quite sarcastically, “Yeah Mom, that’s what people think when they think of you – slacker mom.” One smile, one sweetly sarcastic sentence and this slacker mom felt loved and appreciated.