Vertigo

The first time I felt dizzy, I kind of thought I was dying. Roughly two weeks ago, I was listening to a group of third graders practice their upcoming presentation when I leaned to the side as a wave of dizziness hit. I immediately stood up and walked the length of the classroom alternating my thoughts between fictional scenarios in which I was about to have a stroke or heart attack and how would these children handle that??? I finally settled on the fact that a family history of diabetes had finally caught up to me and surely this was just a drop in blood sugar.  With an overactive imagination, none of these situations "ended well", so I sat back down, ate some cookies I had with me, and tried to breathe normally..... The dramatics continued when I got home that evening as I started cleaning the apartment...purely under the thought that if my body was going to be found in a few days, nobody was going to find dirty clothes on the floor of my bathroom too.

Fast forward a week and the dizziness continued to come and go. I booked my long overdue wellness appointments (adulting is hard!) for a few days out and tried to keep track of the symptoms. Then in a normal Monday morning meeting, I couldn't seem to focus between the voices, the lights, my thoughts... the dizziness felt worse and I ended up at the doctor's that very afternoon. The doctor ordered blood work to rule out a list of other factors and diagnosed me with vertigo....which feels like a fancy word to say I feel dizzy and will continue to feel dizzy until this sorcery leaves my body. Something about tiny stones or "crystals" that are lodged in the ear canal that cause the imbalance? She handed me a paper with "exercises" that consist of tilting your head in different directions and I earned 3 Disney Princess stickers for being a good blood giver.... it's the little things friends.

 

Anyways, now there is way less panic in the midst of the dizziness since I know I'm not actively dying, but I still feel like I'm walking on a moving cruise ship....which is pretty much the WORST since I. hate. cruises. And since prior to my doctor's visit, I somewhat logically assumed it was a blood sugar problem, I had been exercising almost every day.....which only heightens the effects of vertigo. #thestruggleisreal

Today I'm on the road to Pennsylvania, back to the beautiful town of Selinsgrove (where I played last fall) to share music with youth gathering at Susquehanna University on Saturday. And I found a friend to tag along....the vertigo has been improving all week, but I would much rather be safe than have to pull over to rest at one of those abandoned gas stations on the backroads of PA!

Johnson Space Center

Let's just say for the record that I hope I never have to leave planet Earth. Ever. I don't even really like getting in planes that somehow magically leave the ground and hurtle us through the air. And don't even get me started on elevators.... But I am fascinated by all things space travel. And I can remember watching Apollo 13 for the first time, as Tom Hanks and whoever the other two actors were, fought to get back to Earth with limited resources and things going wrong around every corner. The famous line, "Houston, we have a problem." is ingrained in the ethos of my movie trivia memory.

 

So when we drove through Houston, we stopped by the Johnson Space Center. We caught one of the last trams of the day (and ended up in row 13!!!) that takes you all over the grounds, walks you into several buildings (like where the astronauts train on replica space equipment and they are building robots....isn't this how those sci fi robot takeover movies start?), and gives a ton of information on NASA's past and what the future of space travel holds... Mars by 2035????

I was most excited to see the original mission control center from the 1960's. When mission control was eventually moved downstairs, all the original equipment was found and placed back within the room, preserving a unique perspective on time and technology. There are few times where life offers us a chance to "time travel" and staring into those 1960's monitors.....whew. They didn't have computers or even the use of electronic calculators and we launched people off of our safe, gravity sourced for a reason planet into space!!

 

The tour lasted about an hour and a half leaving us a brief 20 minutes to look around the rest of the museum. There were a ton of kid friendly activities including an Angry Birds Outer Space area, but we made sure to tour the replica plane and space shuttle located outside. Mad props to the pilots confident enough to fly this thing!!

 

And of course, we made time to touch a piece of the moon. Very, very smooth. Since ya know, thousands of other people have touched it before us. We picked up postcards just as the museum was closing and made our way out of town to sleep in San Antonio and make a fresh start at the Alamo!!

A Tucson Welcome

"If you hear something on the roof, it's most likely the bobcat that lives next door," Dottie said during a conversation explaining the various wildlife that lived around the house, "It's pretty wild out here." When the neighbors let me into the house on Saturday afternoon, they advised me to use the back entrance due to the javelina (rodents that look like pigs) that often roam the front yard.

And so I find myself in a little desert sanctuary in the form of my friend Dottie's house, with incredible views of the mountains and large front windows that frame 12 ft tall cactus plants and wandering quail, birds, rabbits, and the occasional chipmunk. We're still in the town of Tucson, but conveniently tucked up on a hill next to a riverbed that has kept this neighborhood on the wild side. I adore it.

My last trip to Tucson happened so incredibly fast, five days of jam packed exposure to border issues. We sat in courtroomsa medical examiner's office,and met with the sheriff's department. We met Francisco and Rosa who were living in Sanctuary in different churches, and drove down to Nogales to see the border. We watched documentaries and took a trip with Humane Borders to refill water stations in the desert. And we shared music with Pastors, joined in worship with St Francis in the Foothills UMC, and met Pablo, a local singer-songwriter...we were fully immersed.

 

But this trip is different. There's more time to pause, be still and fully see the beauty of the desert. As I jumped in the pool last night and watched the sun set over the distant mountains, I felt a peace about the schedule of this week, being a bit slower and focused on reconnecting with the relationships made two years ago.

I'm not sure how blogging this week will go, there's still adventures to share from last week's road trip across the country, and upcoming posts may come a bit out of order. Today is all about prepping to spend the day tomorrow out in the desert with the Samaritans. Still need to get a hat! Tomorrow's trip will be focused on placing crosses out where people have died. I'm hoping to get some footage to use with Desert Bones (main goal of this week!). Wednesday afternoon I'll head down to Nogales to spend the night with Maritza and her family and to cross the border into Nogales Sonora. And then Friday night I'll be playing a concert with St Francis in the Foothills UMC... a beautiful chance to combine everything God has been doing these past couple of years!

Then mom flies in on Saturday and we head for the Grand Canyon on our way to Colorado Springs to play a house concert before heading back to my sweet friends in Indiana for a few days.... Tucson or Bust continues on!!!

Debauchery in New Orleans

New Orleans. The place where debauchery comes out to play. Or at least that's the adjective three people used within a 24 hour period of time when I mentioned we were headed there. But let's face it, it's a fun word to say. Unlike the word moist...no one likes moist. This trip is two parts get me to Arizona and one part check off Dad's bucket list. Today's item: take a picture on Bourbon Street. So from Alabama we drove down through Mississippi and into Louisiana. My friend Joe recommended that we stop by the Cafe du Monde for a beignet and a coffee which despite not knowing what a beignet is, sounded amazing and cultured and all things I long to be.

 

And come to find out here's what a beignet is: FUNNEL CAKE DISGUISED AS A DOUGHNUT!!!! It's a fried doughnut covered in a thick layer of powered sugar. And that my friends is a life changer. Throw in some cafe au lait, or as my dad ordered "coffee with cream" (#facepalm #dadgoals), and you have a recipe of delicious. Add in the New Orleans humidity and the crazy hodgepodge of people....and there are no more words.

 

So coffee was the first stop, then we headed to explore Bourbon Street and made sure to take Dad's picture by the street sign:

 

Then we wandered between shops, art galleries, and taking in the eclectic and overstimulating sights and sounds of New Orleans. In every direction was a new character, a bar with live music...it was stimulation overload and we were only there in the late afternoon!! At one point, I heard a clunk behind me and looked down to find a strand of purple beads on the ground. I considered it my gift from New Orleans and slipped them on...no debauchery necessary this trip!

 

 

We spent some time walking along the riverfront watching the various boats, people, streetcars, and trains pass by. We found the Monument to the Immigrant in honor of all those who came through New Orleans. Turns out, my Great Aunt Marion's family came through New Orleans. It was a reminder that each of us has an immigrant story....and there is so much more to mine than I even know.

 

We headed out of town as the sun set beautifully over the buildings...on to Houston for some space and time travel.

When My Dad Wore His House Slippers On the Road

The hardest part of any long cross country trip I take on is the physical act of leaving.... packing everything in the car, finishing up last minute to dos, calming a super anxious cat who this time literally threw up on the clean sheets as I was changing them.....it all becomes a bit much. But then we're on the road and hurtling ourselves into the journey and slowly I breathe and relax and settle in for the drive.... I love it ever so much.

Our first goal was to get out of Virginia....we made it within 10 miles of the Tennessee state line. :o) And about 45 minutes before we stopped for the night, Dad was gassing up the car when the automatic shut off valve on the pump failed and gas came spilling out of the car and all. over. his. shoes. The guy a pump over saw it happen and yelled in support as Dad yanked the nozzle out to shut the gas off. The smell was overpowering as we drove off and we tried various combinations of open windows as we drove to help alleviate the fumes.

The next morning: to allow his shoes more time to air out, Dad slipped into his alternate footwear: his house slippers. And that my friends is when he made the brilliant discovery that his slippers were indeed very comfy to travel in.... even commenting that he may make it a regular habit to drive in them. #dadgoals

 

Monday as we drove through Tennessee, Dad requested that we take a quick detour to see just how much Gatlinburg has built up since his honeymoon 40 years ago. Six hours later we were back on the road. :o) We forgot to factor in Columbus Day traffic, but the slow movement allowed us to really take in and appreciate the scenery of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. There is literally half a titanic by the side of the road. Ridiculous, but my heart will go on.....

 

We made it down to Birmingham to crash for the night already scheming for a New Orleans adventure the next day.....where I only got one string of beads....

Here We Go Again!

Back in May, I found myself in Portland, OR in the middle of my Portland or Bust House Concert Tour. I ran into my old friend Dottie (by "ran into" she sat in the seat directly in front of me in a large conference hall of thousands), and a dream began to take root that I could go back to Arizona, release "Desert Bones" into the great wilds of the desert, and wander across the country once more. Then I came home, caught up on sleep, jumped back into Restoration and....yeah. A couple of weeks ago at the Global Leadership Summit, T.D. Jakes said, "Your dreams should be bigger than what you yourself can do."..... His words resonated deeply, more deeply than I care to admit, because the truth is I am often overwhelmed with what God might call me into that requires more than what I myself can do. So much of what comes next is going to take other people....PEOPLE I HAVEN'T EVEN MET YET to come alongside and be part of the story. It makes me feel nervous, slightly nauseous, at moments terrified, and absolutely excited that I might be part of something bigger than I can imagine.

 

So this post is a bit of a declaration. Just like two years ago when I wrote this blog post When You Have More Questions Than Answers. I'm not sure what's coming next or how it is going to look. Which feels amazingly similar to that previous trip across the country...But I do know this: I am going to record Desert Bones (listen to the rough demo here), I am going to shoot video in the desert, I am going to reconnect with friends I met two years ago and make new ones, and I am going to leave myself open to where the Spirit is leading. We'll give this trip some new epic name, write it on the back of the car, and screen print snazzy new t-shirts. I'll load up my car to drive several thousand miles and my dad and I will take on the entire. state. of Texas (driving that is). And hopefully I'll find some living rooms to play in along the way.

I'm looking at leaving VA somewhere around Oct 9/10 and driving down through Tennessee, hitting Arkansas and Oklahoma before we drive across Texas. I'd like to see a bit of El Paso, expand my border experience beyond just Arizona and San Diego....Then hit Arizona for a week or so from Oct 16th-23rd and then begin the drive home up through Colorado, across Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, stopping in Indiana (can't skip you all!) and then finally getting back to VA around Halloween. If you are somewhere along the route or know someone who might be interested in hosting a house concert or have a guest room that a couple of weary travelers could crash in, let's talk.

Thanks for being along for the ride friends. Hope to see you on the road!

That's a Wrap on Portland or Bust

Today I finally head home. And only a day behind schedule! New Guy got a little bit louder as the trip went on and when we made it back to Fort Wayne, I checked in with my favorite mechanic of all time, Jerry. Which really means I went over to his house and only after catching up with the family, looking at the RV they borrowed for a camping trip, petting the cat, and talking with five year old Mara, did we look at the car. We set out for a test drive and it took 20 seconds for Jerry to say, "This is bad. Real bad." And he promptly dropped me off at my host home and took New Guy away. Since the wheel bearings have been replaced and the car is fixed, I choose not to ask too many questions into the "badness". And really, I earned an extra day with one of my favorite families. We took a trip to Costco for samples, played music (what we call "band practice") and read countless elmo books.

I am so grateful for this chance to be on the road. It has been challenging, inspiring, beautiful, and good. I've felt more effects of vertigo than I'd like to admit, but even in those moments, I threw back some advil and water and kept pressing in. I'm excited to share more about the trip this week... we spent so much time driving that it was hard to sit still long enough to blog, especially when writing would mean far less sleep.

This past Monday, I spent a good portion of the day praying for God to transition my heart back into Reston. I am a wanderer in my core and I tend to fight against the feeling of roots. But all it took was the original plan falling through, my car in need of repair and touching base with a couple of people back home to shift gears. I'm ready to be on the road headed East, to catch up with Restoration and friends and be back at the museum and in the schools. I'm praying about next steps, how recording a new album could happen...and well, the world is before us. I'll be seeing you soon Reston, get ready!!

Portland

Portland Our time in Portland was mostly spent at the convention center, but in our spare moments we made it our goal to drive the various bridges that cross the river. Achieved. :o) We grabbed lunches and dinners with the various friends and delegates who were also in Portland and spent our nights in the lovely attic space of my longtime friends Sheri and Rob. We also made some time in the mornings to meet Seneca, their three month old, who is beautiful, sweet, and already incredibly independent. And loved the ukulele.

Our last night in town, Lindsey and I went with the Virginia delegates to dinner. We offered a ride to a certain Tom Berlin and Pete Moon, who were quite amused to ride in the official #PortlandorBustTour vehicle and I had the best coaches to successfully parallel park outside the restaurant. It was a full team effort. Thanks dads.

 

Dinner was great and my plate was full of mac and cheese sprinkled with bacon. :o) As the checks came, I felt compelled to give a pause to the evening. I looked around the table and said, “If I grabbed my guitar, would you all like a song?” We asked the manager if they would allow it and we had ourselves a little impromptu concert. Which was fitting since I never could find an official music gig in the Portland limits for my Portland or Bust Tour. :o)

 

We took a bit of time on Friday to make our latest “Weekly Wednesday Video”, not on a Wednesday, but in choir robes we bought from conference for $3 a piece. Fancy! Then we ate lunch at a pho place in downtown Portland that had vermicelli and spring rolls!!! It was like Super Pho (my fav Herndon restaurant) but supercharged with a million Portland flavors. Then we drove out to the coast because……Pacific Ocean!!! We went to Cannon Beach and then a little further down to Seaside before eventually landing in Olympia, Washington to spend the night. On to Seattle!!!