Monday, October 16, 2017

Music Monday is Back!: "What About Us?" P!nk

P!nk came on to the music scene a while ago.  In fact, she was voted "Best New Artist of the Year" by Billboard back in 2000.
And while I've always thought she has a great voice, I never bought any of her music and didn't listen to anything beyond what was played on the radio. I've seen some of her cool acrobatic performances on award shows, and although I was aware she was a good performer too, for some reason, she just wasn't on my radar of someone I needed to listen to.

Until I saw her on SNL this weekend promoting her latest CD "Beautiful Trauma". She sang two songs from it, "What About Us" and the title track, "Beautiful Trauma". She sang both with vocal perfection and I loved both songs. The first one called "What About Us", was definitely familiar, since it's already getting tons of radio play.  But seeing her sing it live and hearing that kind of vocal perfection made me decide I need to pay more attention to her.

I ended up downloading her CD, "Beautiful Trauma" and I like or love all of the songs, with the one exception being the obnoxious one she does with Eminem called "Revenge".  (I usually like him, now I love her, but that song is just very grating to me and I actually had delete it!)  I also went down the rabbit whole of YouTube videos watching and listening to P!nk.  I was pretty amazed. Especially with the acoustic performances.  Holy smokes, that girl has some pipes!!!  I love that her voice is beautifully strong and sounds both elegant and aggressive within one song, which I don't think many singers can pull off.

She appeared on Good Morning America this morning singing the same two songs she sang on SNL- which proved that whether it's early morning or late night- the girl has chops like nobody's business.
She's worth bringing back Music Monday for!

Here's her SNL performance of "What About Us".  Mind (and ear) blowing...
Happy Music Monday.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

To My 18 Year Old Self

This past weekend, I went to my high school reunion.  I graduated a l-o-n-g time ago, and I've got the picture to prove it.  Based on my hair, you can probably figure out the era. 
me, with my whole adult life ahead me
Our class prez sent out an email the day before the reunion asking us to think about what we might tell our 18 year old selves today... some little nugget of advice.  I guess she thought in case we needed an ice breaker that could be it.  But I didn't think much about it that day, and I didn't discuss it with anyone that night.

But I've been thinking about it the last few days. 

The funny thing is, I would be a lot more likely to take life advice now than I would have back then.  I thought I had it pretty well figured out then. Now, at least I'm aware that I don't really know anything.

When I went "off" to college, I really didn't go off anywhere.  I went to a college within a 45 minute drive from my parent's house.  I shared a dorm room with a girl that I didn't really know, but that was in highs school with me, so we decided it made sense to room together.  It didn't at all.  And once the second semester rolled around, I moved into a different building and had a new roommate.  My new roommate had a boyfriend, so she was barely ever in our room, day or night.  I had never had to share a room before, so this felt a lot more familiar and comfortable to me.

I chose my college major based on the movie "About Last Night". Demi Moore's character, Debbie,  was in advertising, which was barely even mentioned in the movie. But I liked her clothes and she seemed to have a pretty cool life.  So for a minute, I thought I was going into advertising.  But, just for a minute. As soon as I took a public speaking class, I was out of that major and decided on education instead.

So I'll stop right there and give my little 18 year old self two pieces of advice, so this doesn't become a book... because believe me, it could.  Just based on those previous two paragraphs I would tell her this:

1. GO OFF TO COLLEGE.  Seriously, far, far away.  Get uncomfortable.  Don't rely on your parents for lame stuff like laundry, and don't feel like you can just head back to your childhood room when you don't have cool plans for the weekend. This is your big chance to try living like an adult before you actually have to live totally independently, as an adult! And yeah, you're not great at sharing a small space on a daily basis.  That part, you actually got right!

2. Don't rush to deciding ANYTHING in life. Try a lot of different things before you even thinking about sticking with ONE. I always wanted to feel grown up, and in being in such a hurry to get there, I went about it in very immature ways.  I'm not sure I even feel like a grown up now.  I'm still working on thinking things through and knowing what I really want.

It's the human condition I guess, to seek comfort above all else.  At least for some people.  And for me, I know that to be true.  I just wish someone had told me to have a lot of new experiences during those first several years after high school.  I didn't expand my life as much as I could have, certainly- and it's a regret I have. I know it nurtured my tendency of always taking the path of least resistance. Not the worst thing ever, but if I could do it all over again, those would be just a couple of things I would have liked some encouragement around.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Where I'll Be THIS FRIDAY!

I'm so excited to be singing at Four Bullets Brewery in Richardson this Friday night (Oct. 6) from 6:30-8:30pm.

THIS is the brewery where I did Goat Yoga and wrote about it on my blog, here. More importantly though, it's just a cool spot, run by cool people, who serve great craft beer brewed on site.  When you're at Four Bullets, it feels like you're over at a friend's house. And for me, that's literal because although it isn't my friend's house, it IS their brewery! 

Join in the fun for their 5-9pm happy hour.

Four Bullets Brewery 
640 N Interurban St, Richardson, TX 75081

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

New Gig This Week!

It's been a long time since I've scheduled a new gig... a long time.  It has been so long that I didn't even know how to go about it.  So I asked around, got some suggestions of places to approach from a few friends, and just bit the bullet, so to speak.  I'm still biting it, and so far, I've gotten a few bites back.  Good bites!

My first new gig is tomorrow night at Urban Vines.

I'm super excited.  I've dug out some old songs of mine- and actually had to figure out what tuning they were in and how to play them as if someone else had written them!  I've also brought back some cover songs I hadn't played in a long time- Plus some new ones that I just learned. AND, I've polished up a few newer songs so they just might be ready for their first public appearance. It's been such a fun process getting myself ready and brushing up on things. 

Please pop over tomorrow night. The menu there looks great, and Thursday nights are half off on glasses of wine. And music, provided by me, is from 7-9pm!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Morrison Guitar Shop

For well over a year, I've intended to visit my friend's family owned guitar shop.  I can't believe it's taken me so long to go- but it has.  So this past weekend, I was determined to get over there and check it out.  As an added incentive, I wanted to see if they could sell one of my guitars for me.  I have 5, and although that certainly isn't a huge number, it's too many for me.  The one I decided to sell is a beautiful Alhambra classical guitar that stays in it's case, in my closet.  It's too nice of a guitar to just sit around, not getting any attention.

Friday night, I asked Fermin if he wanted to go with me the next day, and fortunately for me, he said yes.

When Saturday rolled around, I wasn't feeling great.  I had a headache (maybe due to the 2 glasses of wine I had the night before, because I so rarely drink and when I do, there is usually hell to pay even from the slightest amount!), my blood sugars kept falling, and I was just feeling meh.

Had I been going on my own, I probably would have put it off for another day.  But as soon as Fermin got home from the gym he said, "Let's go!"And so, we did.

We stopped and had nachos at a nearby restaurant and I pretty quickly started to feel a little better- because that's what nachos are for!

We went to the guitar shop- Morrison's Guitar Shop, and OH. MY. QUESO.
It was so beyond my expectations- and honestly, I had pretty high expectations!  The shop was beautiful, and it had a huge and impressive collection of acoustic guitars.  (They also had a lot of electric guitars, but that's not my thing, so I really can't speak to that.  But you can go check it out for yourself!) They have a stage and a nice sound system you can plug into. And so, when I was asked if I wanted to, OF COURSE I said yes!

I think we ended up staying there for about 2 hours.  And I think we could've stayed even longer if we didn't need to get home to feed Lucy and Ricky.  In this short little span of time, I fell in love!  With THIS:
Collings Acoustic Guitar- my new crush
That sweet little guitar has a small little body, and the volume and sound of a much larger guitar!  I think it was made for me.

But wait! I went there to SELL a guitar, not to buy one!

I did start thinking though, "Hey, if I sell my Alhambra, plus two of my Taylors (eventually!)- I could actually do this..."

Who knows. It's always good to have goals, right?  Maybe someday.  But for now, I know where this guitar lives.  And I might have to go visit her on a weekly basis just to say hi.

If you live anywhere near Rockwall, Texas- you really should check this place out!  Locally owned by the nicest people, WELL stocked with gorgeous guitars, and as a bonus- it cured my headache and stabilized my blood sugars for the rest of the day. I left there feeling a million times better than how I felt when I walked in.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Word MOM

Yesterday, I opened a drawer as I was putting away clothes.  In the bottom of that particular drawer, my fingers touched a small box that a few of my mom's jewelry is held in.  It had been years since I took that box out and looked through those things.  But for some reason, yesterday I decided to.

I have very few possessions that I still have that were once my mom's.  So when I took these things out and held them, I was very in touch with the knowing that her hands had held these same things that my hand were currently holding.  And in that moment, I missed her so much.  I realized how long it's been since I've seen her.  Or talked with her.  The words, "Oh...  mom" escaped my mouth.  And then I started fixating on that word, because I realized I hadn't said it in a long time.

That word, Mom.  It was likely the first word I spoke.  And one I used so often, for so many years of life.  Mom!  When I was scared.  Mom! When I needed help.  And in that moment, yesterday, I found myself saying it over and over and over, "Mom.. Mom.. Mom..Mom..."

And then all of the sudden I was thinking, "What a strange word.  It's a word that's just a calming sound.  Sort of like Ommmm.  Oh!  It sounds like a prayer or mediation!" 

So after I finished my little breakdown, I put the jewelry back in the box and shut that drawer.  But I kept thinking about Mom.  And that word, mom.

I bet that word came to be because it's just a natural, human sound that we make, almost automatically.  Hmmmm.  Ommmm.  Mmmmmm.  MOM! 

It's probably the first word I said.  It's certainly the word I miss saying.  And she's most definitely the person I most wish I could see again.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Meditation Practice

The idea of meditation certainly isn't new to me.  I've tried it before.  I took an 8 week course on different types of meditation years ago.  I read the book, Wherever You Go, There You Are- and yes, it sat unread on my bookshelf for years before I finally read it.  But I did get around to reading it eventually and it really spoke to me. I've read all sorts of articles and heard many mentions on all the benefits of meditation. 

But yet...

It's not anything I've ever been able to stick with for a long and consistent period of time.  I'm still very interested in it though, and I refuse to give up on it.

So, I decided to revisit the idea of making meditation a daily practice.  I mean, seriously, even 5 minutes a day can supposedly benefit our minds, and who doesn't have 5 minutes.  I DO! 

Since I last attempted to work meditation into my life, so many meditation apps for smart phones have become available.  There are many free, sort of introductory guided meditations available.  Once you're ready to commit to one specific app, you can pay a monthly fee that opens up all sorts of mediation archives to you.  I LOVE that.  For me, at least at this point, guided meditation is very helpful. 

I've practicing- nearly every day now- for the last several weeks.  I've used lots of those meditation apps, like Headspace, 10% Happier, Heart of the Matter, and Simple Habit- just to name a few.  I've also downloaded plenty of podcasts that focus on daily meditations like "Meditation Minis".  I find that I like those meditations to be pretty short- 15 minutes or less is about all I can currently handle currently.  Also, the guide's voice is important to me.  I tend to like a subtle Australian accent best, although that's certainly not mandatory.  I almost always sit in this one chair, in our formal dining room- which we otherwise use for nothing except the occasional piano playing- And I always, ALWAYS, hold this pillow in my lap.
My Meditation Pillow
I'm trying not to focus on any expectation with this go around of mediation practice. And I'm bothered if some days, I'm super fidgety and the 10-15 minutes feels more like an hour.  Some days it's really hard, and sometimes it's a bit easier.  But ultimately, I'm just sitting there.  Maybe there's magic going on inside my head, maybe not.  But as the pillow tells me, Yay! for me.  Yay! for doing it.  Yay! for showing up.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Asheville Finale

Fermin, Ricky and Lucy and I were in Asheville the whole month of June.
The Great Craggy Mountains in North Carolina
It was dreamy.  We thought we would soon be moving there.  I've been too sad and disappointed to finish up my series of blog posts about it lately because, well... Fermin got laid off from his job. So we're starting over at square one as far as moving there.  It can still happen, but as of now, we have no idea what's next.

And that sucks.

But I wanted to wrap this up and document these fond memories.  So here goes.

During two of the weekends we were there we had friends come to visit us.  Pretty amazing, really.  Our friends Kelly and Craig, and their daughter Abby came to visit one weekend, in the middle of the month.  They had airline issues and got in about a day late, and without luggage, but nothing could stop us from having a great time together!
Surrounded by our favorite people ❤️

In that short time together, we still had enough to eat some great meals, visit the Biltmore, dance and sing, laugh a ton, and even cry a little.
The majestic Biltmore Estate in Ashevile, NC
Kelly is one of my favorite people of all time, and she's always enthusiastically cheering us on about anything and everything.  She knew how exciting this possibility of moving to Asheville was, and she (along with Abby and Craig) came into town so we could all enjoy a great beginning together.
I LOVE this picture.  It captures the mood of the weekend perfectly.
Craig and I discovered our mutual love for Belinda Carlisle and did some impromptu karaoke in her honor.

Peace, Love, and Happiness
What a birthday!
Towards the very end of our time in Asheville, my friend Valerie drove down from the DC area with her sister, Debbie.  Valerie is another one of my all time favorite people.  Although we live far apart, I'm in better touch with her than most people in my life.  We text most days.  So we know the daily goings-on in each other's lives.  I was so excited when we started talking about me and Fermin going to Asheville.  Valerie said she and her sister had been wanting to make a road trip down to Asheville.  We decided this was the perfect time!  And it just worked out that they were coming right around my birthday.  The best gift I could have imagined!!

except THIS hat! THIS is the best bday gift I could imagine. and valerie MADE IT!!!

Valerie has a friend who lives in Asheville and we had already connected through her.  By the time Valerie came to town, Rebecca and I had already become fast friends.  So we all went out to dinner the night Valerie and Debbie got into town.  Valerie had made the reservations and told them we were celebrating a birthday.  It was so awesome to be surrounded by friends on my birthday.  I'll never forget that they were there for me, and that Valerie introduced me to all of them.  What a fun night! 
my happy birthday menu- from Posana in Asheville

Valerie, Me, Debbie, Rebecca, Bruce...and the squatter, Fermin

Valerie and Me ❤️
The next day Valerie, Debbie, Fermin and I went on a funny bus tour of the city.  We learned a little (like James Taylor was in a mental hospital there for a period, Zelda Fitzgerald died in a mental hospital there, and F. Scott lived there for a while... among  other interesting facts), and laughed a little. 
La Zoom bus tours are a great way to see the city of Asheville

We met up for drinks at the beautiful Grove Park Inn later that night with Bruce and Rebecca. What a beautiful spot- Maybe the most beautiful view of Asheville!
Debbie, Valerie, Me and Rebecca

We had it all in Asheville during our month there- daily hikes with our dogs, cool temperatures, beauty all around us, family and friends- old and new!  We've now hit a little bump in the road to getting there permanently, but although it may have slowed us down just a little, we'll get there eventually.  Seeing these pictures and remembering all that fun is great motivation to make it happen.

Thanks, Friends.  You certainly made it special for us. ❤️

Monday, August 7, 2017

Bitches. Also Known as Progressive Lenses.

A couple of years ago, I got my first prescription lenses in a pair of sunglasses.  Actually, I first got prescriptions in a pair I used just for driving at night. I have a slight astigmatism, and I guess because of that, I'm a little nearsighted.  I loved the way my prescription lenses cleared up all things blurry, and decided I wanted them in my sunglasses too.

I loved them right from the start.  But the sunglasses have gotten very scratched up over the years and I've become more and more careless with them. I knew I needed a fresh pair.

So, a few weeks ago, I went to the eye doctor to get an updated prescription.  Things hadn't changed much, but I decided this time, to get progressive lenses.  That way, I could wear my sunglasses and read a book when I'm sitting outside.  And, I thought, I wouldn't have to be putting them up on my head when I needed to look at my phone.  It seemed like a great idea.  Oh, and although I barely need reading glasses (I seriously do not need them!) they put a little bit of a correction in for reading too.  It seemed like I was going to love having knew glasses and having perfect vision!

I picked up my sunglasses yesterday, and so far:

the cause of my headache both yesterday and today
The sales lady at LensCrafters warned me that they might take some getting used to.  She told me she actually cried when she first got her progressives and was experiencing headaches and a lot of frustration trying to get used to them.  I thought, "Wow, this girl is awfully dramatic."  I figured for me, since neither my distance or my reading prescription is strong, it would be easy.

But I feel like I'm under water, or drunk, or hungover whenever I wear them.  My peripheral vision is all tainted, and honestly, nothings looks right. It's not like last time when I first got my prescription and I felt like I was seeing everything in high definition.  No!!!  These are nothing like that.

At least I'm not crying yet.  But I might get to that.  I'm giving these a chance though.  I've read that your brain and your eyes figure it out after a while.  I'm not totally sure I believe that, but I'll give it time.  Just time stamping it here that on day 2 with these progressive lenses, I think they are awful.

My Name Is Lucy Barton, and I Joined a BookClub

Several months ago, I saw a post on my Neighbor Next Door thing- actually I think I got an email- about a new book club forming by a lady in a neighboring neighborhood.  I said "YES!" I wanted to join, but was traveling and unable to attend the first several meetings.

But fortunately, I stayed on the email list.

This month, the book they read was My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Stout. I got it from the library a few weeks ago thinking that yes, I would probably read it and if I did, then I would probably go to the book club.
My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Stout
Just a couple of days ago, I got an email reminder about the book club.  So I read ...Lucy... over the last day and a half.  I just finished it up this afternoon.  And although it was okay, and I wasn't dying to talk about it, I was planning to go ahead to the book club.

Until about an hour beforehand.  I got a little nervous and nearly talked myself out of going.  I didn't know any of the women in this group.  And although I had read the book, maybe I didn't read it deeply enough to contribute to a discussion.

But I took a breath.  And I thought:  This is a book club.  I'm a book reader.  And I always wish I had people to talk books with. So I decided that I was going.

And I am SO glad I went. The book club consisted of about ten women.  I think I was the youngest one there.  (At least, I like to think I was.  I often think I'm the youngest tho, even when I'm not.  But one lady actually told me she was 70, so I know I was at least quite a bit younger than her!)  A couple of the ladies there were English/Reading teachers, so they were great about keeping the conversation about the book.  Although few of us gave the book a thumbs up, we all had things to say about it and it made for a great discussion.  It actually made me like the book even better because we discussed it.  Honestly, I hadn't even quite processed the question of "Did I like that book?" since I had only just finished reading it today.

my Lucy- who better to pose with My Name Is Lucy Barton
The basic premise of the story is that while Lucy Barton is in the hospital for some illness (we never know quite what it is), her estranged mother visits her.  It's narrated by Lucy, in a very stream-of-concious form.  She had a sad upbringing- from a poor family with parents that didn't express much love, and even bordered on abusive.  It's one of those stories that isn't told sequentially.  In fact, it's not even so much a story-  But I did like the way it was written, and it was thought provoking. It was short, and I read it in three sittings.  I think that is the best way to read this one- fast.  There are quite a few unanswered questions in the book, but I sorta liked that style.  Like I said- thought provoking.

And also, as I previously said, I liked it even better because I discussed it with these ladies in the book club.  Usually, I would read a book like this and just move on to the next. And I would probably soon forgot all about it. But this discussion forced me to think a little more critically about what I had just read.  Discussing the the book, and us having different opinions about the story and the characters, made me think about things I might have glossed over otherwise.  I think I understand what I read better, because for about 45 minutes, we talked all about it.


I feel so lucky that I stumbled upon this book club.  As I told Fermin as I walked in the door after coming home from the meeting, "That was a goldmine."  I can just tell, I'm going to love going to these meetings.

I am mediating, or whatever you call it, the next book club meeting.  I didn't volunteer for the job, but they asked me to do it.  I didn't really want to, because I don't feel confident I'll do a great job with it.  I warned them of my ADD ways and told them I was a little apprehensive, but the ladies who had wanted that role had already done it at previous meetings and they just wanted someone else to do it.  So, I got the job.  But I'm excited to step up to the challenge and keep the discussion going next month.

The book that was selected for August is Rising Strong by Brene Brown.  Coincidentally, I had downloaded that on Audible months ago based on a friend's recommendation, but have never gotten around to listening to it.  I also went ahead and placed a hold for a hard copy at the library as well, just in case I have trouble listening to the audio version- sometimes, I have trouble focusing when it's just audio.  So I'm all set.

I'm finally in a book club! Yay.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The End of an Era

The very first gig I ever played was at a restaurant called El Arroyo.  It was a little Mexican food joint, with a side patio.  They were infamous for their margaritas and for the raccoons that would come up from the creek, onto the patio, and act cute for chips and salsa.

It was located across the street from a hospital, and they had a happy hour that started around 3pm.  Somehow I had it on my radar that that might be a great place to approach to play music on a Friday evenings.  I made them a cheesy little cassette tape of me singing a few songs, and shockingly, I was offered the job.

It was so exciting, that first gig.  And so scary.  I almost drove away before I ever got in the door with my little amp and guitar that first night.  I wasn't all that well prepared, but with happy hour starting at 3pm, by the time I showed up around 6:00, everyone was ready for music and everyone was so nice.

The place was on it's last leg when I got that gig, and I think it went out of business after just a few months of me starting the "Live Music" on Friday nights.  But gosh, was it fun while it lasted.  And it was definitely a great place to work out the kinks of being new to performing in front of an audience.

It then went on to be an Italian restaurant- actually maybe even two different ones.

Today, I happened to have a doctor's appointment just across the street from that old place.  I noticed it was closed, along with all the other adjoining shops.  It looks as though the entire building will soon be plowed down, and replaced with something brand new.
This old building has seen it's day...
Clearly, it's time!

I got out to look at that patio one last time, before it's gone.  It's where it all started for me.  And I'm so grateful to that place.  The friendly people, the raccoons, and the margarita's... it was a very welcoming place for a nervous little musician just getting her feet wet.
the patio of my first gig, way back when
So many changes are happening in my life right now- the end of some things, and hopefully soon- the beginning of others.  It seems so poetic to have driven by this spot today.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

My Family In NC

I had never even heard of Asheville, NC until my Aunt Pat and Uncle Bill moved to nearby Flat Rock 22 years ago.  I'm not exactly sure when I first visited them, but it was within a few years after they had moved there once my uncle retired. I went once with Fermin, and we went another time with my mom and dad.

And things beyond my aunt and uncle continued to bring me back to the Asheville area.  While I was there for retreats and songwriting camps, I would drop in and see them a day or two while I was in their neck of the woods. They're great hosts, and they would always show me the most beautiful places and we'd have such a great time together.  It's really because of them that I know about Asheville, and that I love it so much.

So it's odd that when we went to Asheville this time around, I didn't give them any advance notice.  We were late in planning our exact dates we would be there, and I didn't want them to feel obligated to "entertain" us, because I know how they are!  It's sounds stupid and even a little shitty to me now that I went about it this way.

But when I did reach out to my uncle to tell them we were in town, he was so welcoming!  We immediately made plans to get together.  He told me that a few of my cousins would be in town during the month, and even some of their kids!  He also told me my cousin Becky and her husband Jim live there full time now.  (I knew they had a lake house nearby, but last I had heard it was just a vacation home for them.)  My Uncle Bill went out of his way to include us on their family fun.

We met them for dinner one night soon after my uncle and I first spoke. We all met up at this great place called BarTaco.  We sat out on the patio and had drinks and tacos.  How nice that they all came out for us, and they all offered to help us in any way they could, and answer any questions we had.
My family in NC!
We drove out to Flat Rock, where my aunt and uncle live, another afternoon soon after that.  I LOVE
where they live.  It's a golf course neighborhood called Kenmure, and it's probably the prettiest neighborhood I've even seen.  I love it so much.  My Aunt Pat has a green thumb and her yard has always been shockingly gorgeous, sort of like her own little Dallas Arboretum.  I wish I had taken a picture of it.  The only one I got of us that night was when we out for tapas in downtown Hendersonville.  It was so much fun.  My uncle always has great stories to share, and he's the best  storyteller.  So there's never a dull moment.
the downtown Hendersonville scene
We got to visit my cousin's farm, and a few weeks later, their lake house!  Yep, they have both!!  Somehow, I didn't get pictures of the farm- I think sometimes when I'm having so much fun, taking a picture slips my mind.  I did, however, get a picture when we went out to eat at a nearby restaurant called The Blind Squirrel.  As with pretty much every meal we ate, we ate outside.  That's something we could never endure in Dallas during the afternoon in June.  We got to take Lucy and Ricky since it was outdoor seating and everyone is so welcoming of dogs around there.
at The Blind Squirrel
Another day, we went to their lakehouse on Lake James. I didn't have a bathing suit for this trip, but I will most definitely have it with me next time. Here's a view from the dock. 
Lake James, NC
And here were are right before a storm came in.  I had my first hard cider- it was so delicious!
Look at all this family I got to be around! My aunt and uncle, my cousin, and another cousin's kids- that are all grown up now.  SO FUN.

We also got to see my cousin Jim one afternoon,who Fermin and I just adore!  We got to meet his girlfriend and hear all about the heart transplant he received last year.  It was incredible story they told us about all they went through before getting that strong heart he now has beating inside of him.  I'm so grateful that heart went to Jim- He's so deserving and appreciative of life.

North Carolina was full of gifts for us.  Having family there turned out to be an unexpected one that was at the top of the list. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Goat Yoga at Four Bullets Brewery

Goat Yoga @ Four Bullets
This past weekend, I went to Goat Yoga. I think it normally costs about $35, but I actually won my ticket to class.  It was held at Four Bullets Brewery- but no, I wasn't drinking beer and doing yoga and playing with goats.  It was only 10am!  It may sound sort of rowdy and crazy, but actually, it wasn't.

If you haven't heard about Goat Yoga before, it's basically what you're thinking.  You do yoga with goats.  Although you don't really do yoga poses together or anything like that. And you don't get your own goat partner, as I had hoped.

The class I took had about 35-40 people in it, and about 15 baby goats milling around the whole time. 
Goats, Goats, and more Goats!
I had read up a little on this whole Goat Yoga movement prior to going to the class and I wondered, "Why goats?" and didn't really get it.  Why not Chicken Yoga?  Or Kitty Yoga?  But now, I sorta feel like I get it.   
Goats Love Yoga
Goats are gentle, they don't make noise, they aren't fearful of humans, and there's a calm feeling they give off when you're around them.  However, there is also a lot of pooping and peeing.  But there were a couple of people on site that walked around cleaning up after them constantly.

Goats can definitely be lured by food, so there was food there to encouragement them to walk around so everyone in the class had interactions with the them.  My friend Theresa had a little cup of trail mix so she was quite popular.  We learned that they don't really care for pretzels.

"Gimme the Chex, please."
No one cares about pretzels.
I guess goats like jumping up on things, and some of us were lucky enough to have our backs jumped on.  They're lightweight and gentle so it's not painful at all to have a goat jump on your back.  Much better than a monkey. 
ommmmm. I've got a goat on my back!
I will admit, this moment made me slightly nervous, but mostly happy.
I've never been in a yoga class where time flew so fast!  The goats were so cute that every now and then I'd forget that, "hey! there's a yoga teacher here giving us instruction."  We were all pretty busy petting goats and getting cute pics with our cameras. 
We're all a little distracted.  But I was TRYING. ;)
As one girl said after class it was actually, "Playing with Baby Goats with a Side of Yoga". I wouldn't really say I got that much of yoga work out. But seriously, who cares?  Sometimes it's more about the the goats than the yoga!
My friend Theresa, with her new favorite yoga partner.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Walking Dogs

I'm still trying to recap our super fun month in Asheville, but it's taking some time.  Mainly because there's so much to say that I keep losing my focus.  But I'm working on it- because I want to preserve those precious memories for myself, here.

But today, I wanted to give a quick updated report on how Lucy and Ricky are doing now that they're back in boot camp.  I had written a post here about that monkey-like behaviors they expressed while on our trip, and how that was going to change.  We were going back to basics with dog training and we were going to fix this problem we had fallen into.

We've been doing fun, positive focus games- one puppy step at a time.  They're certainly not puppies anymore (although they still seem like it to me!).  They're actually so much easier to work with while we're "training" now that they're more mature.  This probably wouldn't be the case though if they hadn't had a lot of training as young dogs- so my hard work from back then paid off, even if we've lately gotten a little off track. But they focus easily, and they seem very eager to please.

Today, the four of us (Lucy, Ricky, Fermin and me) went for a walk.  First, Fermin and I took just Ricky.  Ricky is the most hyper when we take him out together somewhere.  I figured he needed the practice the most.  It was very low key.  So low key that after we walked about a mile and a half, Fermin asked if I wanted to swing back by the house and get Lucy.  So we did. This would be our first walk with the two of them together since our trip.

Fermin and Ricky continued walking past the house while I ran up and got Lucy.  They walked one direction and Lucy and I walked the other, and then we met up on the next block.  There was no crying, no howling, no pulling.  Just treats, treats and more treats dispensed by the dog walkers!  Our dogs are very food motivated, so they stayed very focused on that.  And once we all got together, everybody was calm.
hypnotized into good behavior by FOOD
After we all walked together for about a mile, Fermin and Ricky went home, and Lucy and I walked another mile or so.  And there was no drama.

I'm not saying they're perfect.  We still haven't had the distraction of seeing other dogs when all four of us are together.  But this is huge progress that the four of us could all walk together this morning, and even go opposite ways and walk on opposite sides of the street, without major drama.

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Beauty of Asheville

It's really beautiful everywhere you look when you're in Asheville.  And there are many small towns just outside of Asheville and they're ALL gorgeous.

It's one of the best places to enjoy the outdoors, for sure!  Although I know there are lots of hiking trails, I only found a handful this time around.   So we took some hikes, plus we walked around the lake near our house often, and I walked in a nearby town called Montreat a lot.  Montreat had nice paved sidewalks with lots of shady trees to keep things cool.

Here are just a few of the beautiful scenes from the outdoors in Asheville and it's surrounding towns.
Fermin and Lucy at the little lake by our house- Lake Tomahawk
Trees that go on forever
An overlook off the Blue Ridge Parkway
The golf course in our neighborhood. There are lots of gorgeous golf courses all around Asheville.
Lake James- from my cousin's dock.  So peaceful out there!
Fermin and his best hiking buddy, Lucy, on a hike in Montreat.
This was the view from the deck of a brewery we stopped in- the town of Chimney Rock.
I could go on and on.  But I think you get the idea.  Green trees and mountains in view from just about anywhere.  I think the best view in all of Asheville was probably from the Grove Park Inn. Or maybe the Biltmore.  Both were majestic!
Looking out from the Biltmore Estate
Fermin and me, from the Grove Park Inn, looking out onto Asheville
It was comfortably warm in the day- in the upper 70s/lower 80s, and then cooled off in the evenings.  Perfect!  And this was June!!! I got so spoiled by the weather, and by those views.  Coming back to Dallas in July has been a sad adjustment.  But I keep telling myself we'll be back there soon...