The homily for Ash Wednesday’s service revolved around the beginning of Lent and how Catholics should approach the next 40 days. Like many others, up until that moment, I was pondering what to “give up” for Lent. Granted, I would’ve learned to be more appreciative of whatever I gave up come end of Lent. However, Fr. Jim had another plan for me. He said perhaps instead of taking the easy road and giving up something like sweets, give up something that really could have a more profound effect like one of the 7 sins: greed, lust, gluttony, envy (to name a few). As I drove the short 3 minute stretch from the church to where I park for work, I thought about his homily. The sin that seemed to strike a chord with me the most is envy. Too often I will find myself wishing I had more in my life-this could be material things or even a relationship. Lent is a perfect time for me to step back and simply be grateful for what I do have instead of wasting any time on what I wish I had. No good comes from being envious of other people, relationships, etc… Why not count myself lucky for having people around me who can set an example for me? I would much rather focus on the good. Life’s too short for anything else. I have been so fortunate to be blessed with not only a great family but wonderfully genuine friends and co-workers. They make coming to work not only fun but make me feel like I can get through the day because of them. I have faith that everything will work out….one day, I will no longer get that funny little feeling of jealousy or envy when it comes to relationships. My time will come and even if it doesn’t, I won’t let envy blind my ability to embrace any opportunities that come along.
I was reminded this week that just when we think we’ve gotten past the big hurdle, the battle begins again. We feel defeated and frustrated…like we’re not making any headway or progress. While easier said than done, we need to trust ourselves by holding our head high and keep forging ahead. There will be people who will try to create roadblocks for us but we must persevere.
As I write this, it’s Sunday night. I am ending the weekend on a proud note. For the past 3 weeks, my weekends have been full of choices that were based on fun, what was convenient for me and what I wanted to do. Today, I made room for a choice based on one other factor: what I should be doing. I was out running errands and got done about 4:15. I had two options-go home and maybe do something productive….or kill some time before 5:00 mass. I chose the latter and am glad I did. The season of Lent starts this Wednesday. I shouldn’t need a reason to get back into attending mass again but certainly doesn’t hurt. In addition, a person close to me is having surgery tomorrow. Giving up one hour to spend some time with God was a way of showing him how grateful I am that I know he’ll watch over her tomorrow.
The second reason I am proud of myself is because I worked out tonight for the first time in months. I felt really good while I was exercising. I can’t help but laugh now as my shoulders are already sore and I will be slow going up the stairs tomorrow. But…that’s not the point. I stopped procrastinating and finally followed through. I hope this is the start of another good bit of change for me. Giving up two hours of my time to make myself healthier in more ways than physical is well worth it to me.
I don’t know about you but whenever I need a boost to my mood or a jolt of energy, I turn to music. No matter what, I’m never let down. Whenever I need to clean, before I reach for the vacuum, I make sure my iPod is turned on and ready to go. Like so many, I was saddened to hear about the death of Whitney Houston. She had such an amazing voice…so unmistakable. In the wake of this tragedy, there is a positive: we will always have her music.
For me, when I hear certain songs, I’m immediately taken back to a certain place, with a childhood crush, in our suburban on a family trip…or in my own car singing without a care in the world of who can see me. As a tribute to Whitney, and to all artists out there, I have listed some of my favorite songs and the memory I have of them:
- Everything I Do, I Do It For You, Bryan Adams: what I informally dubbed “our song” as it was the song my childhood crush and I danced to in junior high what feels like a lifetime ago…
- Roll On, Alabama: played religiously every time we drove from San Antonio to Chicago (or practically every road trip we took as a family…my Dad was a saint for being patient with us as we would barely pull out of the driveway when me or my sister would ask, “Dad, can you put this tape in?” Yes…I said tape…that small thing you held in your hand…had two holes in it and you could manually rewind. Good times.
- Could I Have This Dance, Anne Murray: my Mom introduced me to her music-great voice and I just love the words in the song…hopeless romantic, yes, afraid so.
- You Raise Me Up, Josh Groban: Inspirational….Tear-Jerking…great voice…enough said.
- Hold On, Wilson Phillips: birthday parties at the skating rink….more recently though, scene from Bridesmaids….love, love that movie!
- I Won’t Let Go, Rascal Flatts: made me cry while playing at my nephew’s 8th grade graduation
- The Cowboy Rides Away, George Strait: always plays this last for his encore…seen him in concert few times….never gets old…and boy, does he age well!
- Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue, Toby Keith: gives me goose bumps every time I hear it…makes me proud to be an American!
- If That’s What It Takes, Celine Dion: my sister surprised me with trip to Vegas a few years ago and we saw Celine in concert…she sang this in French…absolutely beautiful…even if I couldn’t understand all of it.
- The Dance, Garth Brooks: great song about enjoying the little things in life
- Save the Last Dance For Me, Michael Buble: no memory other than every time I hear this, I can’t help but turn up the song and sing along…and oh that voice! I know it was in some movie I’ve seen but blank on which one.
- The Town I Loved So Well, Phil Coulter: Irish singer whom my parents love…this songs makes my family think of a town we all love-Lake Geneva, Wisconsin where we used to vacation twice a year.
- Old Time Rock ‘n Roll, Bob Sieger: wedding receptions come to mind…such a fun song for dancing
- You’ve Got a Friend, Carole King: such a classic…and makes me grateful for my friends
- Happy Xmas (War is Over), Celine Dion: I start playing this shortly after Thanksgiving-great words but really, it’s Celine…what’s not to love!
- Believe, Josh Groban: from the movie The Polar Express….reminds me of Christmas…I watch this movie every year too.
- I Gotta Feeling, Black Eyed Peas: another perk to working at OU, got to see this concert for free since I volunteered to work the concert….they performed before another of my favorites, U2 hit the stage….fun, fun night and memory!
- Hello World, Lady Antebellum: great song with very moving video…each time I watch, can’t help but stop what I’m doing…looking forward to seeing them live with a girlfriend in April.
- For Good, Kristen Chenoweth: great song…she sung it live on the tribute to Oprah
And last, but not least…
20. Greatest Love of All, Whitney Houston: no specific memory but great song that makes me reflect on being proud of the person I’ve become.
These are just a few of my favorite songs. I love that when people hear songs, they have their own unique memory. Maybe a song makes them cry, laugh, shake their head and think I can’t believe I did that….whatever thoughts run through your head, they’re all thanks to music. Simple, yet powerful.