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.

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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

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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.

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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)

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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!!!

 

We Made It to Portland!!

We made it! 33 total hours driven over three days through just about every type of weather, from clear, sunny skies to snowy and foggy mountains. We hit gas stations, rest stops, fast food, and crashed a couple of hotels to end up in balmy Portland....which is soon to turn rainy we hear. :o) Here's the rundown:

Day 1: South Bend to Chicago to Omaha

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Sunday morning I led worship at Clay Church in South Bend, Indiana. My friend Lindsey spent the morning on airplanes to Chicago where I picked her up after her bag was flown on a different flight and finally made its way to her. We drove to the western side of Omaha, crossing the Nebraska border before stopping for the night.

Day 2: Omaha to Wyoming to Layton, Utah

The long driving day! It rained most of the day and when I took the wheel in Wyoming, the rain turned to snow and the temperature dropped to the low 30s. The fog added to the awesomeness and I drove white knuckled until dinnertime when the fog lifted, the rain stopped, and we had a beautiful view of the Wyoming mountains with fields of antelope along the way. Then it started raining again as we passed into Utah. We drove 84 West until I couldn't see the lines in the road anymore...and then we stayed in a beautiful Comfort Inn with friendly staff and a hot tub....amazing!

Day 3: Layton to Portland

We woke up to sunshine in Layton...still thankful. We pushed the last 11 hours of the trip as the landscape changed from Utah rocks to the rivers and mountains of Oregon. We pulled into Portland antsy, hangry, and ready to settle. Dinner at Chipotle led us to running into our first familiar face at General Conference, Steven. 

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Our evening was spent catching up with my longtime friends Sheri and Rob. Baby Seneca was already asleep so we swapped our road stories for their latest news and talked about the old camp days. I am grateful for friends like these, that welcome us in and love on us.

What's Next

We are spending the next couple of days at General Conference here in Portland, the international gathering of the United Methodist Church which happens every 4 years. We are here to see, to hear, to pray and to bear witness. Lord, in your mercy.

And So It Begins

The past couple of weeks have been such a whirlwind of details....prepping for worship at Restoration while I'm gone, coordinating places to stay and play on the road, learning how to screen print (which will definitely have its own post!), that when I got to this past Tuesday night.....I realized I hadn't even pulled out my suitcase yet. :o) It feels grand to be on the road again....well, it didn't feel all that grand yesterday morning when I had to pack the car in the rain, and then drive through Western Maryland with foggy mountains. I pulled my guitar, uke, and bag out of the car and into the Landry's house only moments before a crazy thunderstorm hit that took out a tree across the street. I rolled around on the floor with Zechariah before he headed off to bed and had a little while with Candace and Matt to catch up before our adult bedtime.

 

The midwest looks as I remembered; flat and wide open, the sky and fields endless until they meet on the horizon. Luckily the sun came out in Ohio and I found myself saying more than once, "Ohio is beautiful"....Perspective, am I right?? There's a first time for everything!!!

So on to the next few days of house concerting and catching up with friends before making the big and somewhat quick trek to the Northwest. We are in a different era of life now, the text messages of well wishes I received the last couple of days remind me that I have a beautiful community that is more than willing to let me wander a bit, I can't wait to bring them back a few new stories.

Vertigo

April 15, 2016

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!

The 2016 White House Easter Egg Roll

My sister Becky has entered the White House Easter Egg Roll lottery for the past seven years in hopes of taking my nephew Nate with no luck. I entered this year to give them another chance....and won. #firsttimesacharm

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So yesterday we drove into DC, had a brief moment of nail biting driving to find a parking garage, and landed in line at the recommended 45 minutes prior to our scheduled session. If you have seen any of the cynical posts about the Egg Roll, you'll read that the event isn't even worth it due to the endless lines and short time on the White House lawn.

But this is the WHITE HOUSE EASTER EGG ROLL. A free pass to hang out with 35,000 other kids and parents on the south lawn with the Washington Monument in one backdrop and the White House in another. A presidential tradition in its 138th year. Of course there are lines. But we decided our adventure was in the experience itself and left our expectations wide open for the day. And we found everyone around us to also be excited and we instantly made friends with a family from California who flew in the day before and were doing the typical DC touristy things.

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The best advice we heard: Don't try to do everything. Pick a couple of activities (of which there are many, many options from the egg rolling, characters to take pictures with, cooking demos, sports, crafts, music, etc.) and then add as time allows. We took the advice of another blogger and saved the Egg Roll till the end as the line tends to start out really long and shortens as the session goes on.

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We boiled our expectations down to simply: Take a picture with the storm troopers and Darth Vader... because priorities.

 

After that we listened to Robin Roberts read "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie", made a glider craft, listened to music, and lastly rolled an egg. Then we were shuffled out through a gauntlet of free, healthy samples... (We secretly hoped the hard boiled eggs on sticks were actually cake pops :o) before Nate received a commemorative egg and we landed back out on the street with several thousand of our now closet friends feeling disoriented, but content with arms full of yogurt, zollidrops, juice pouches, and egg shaped sidewalk chalk.

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We spent last night looking over the social media posts from the day and laughing about ALL the celebrities we didn't see. You know, like Beyonce in asee through top, the cast of Blackish, Christian Bale, Michelle Obama, Shaq, etc. We could hear Idina Menzel sing Let it Go while we stood in line right outside the entrance, but by the time we got to the music stage she wished everyone a Happy Easter and walked off... :o( When we were line for the Egg Roll, Becky caught a glimpse of Obama as he walked out one door of the White House and back through another....Nate and I were too slow to catch on. Then another man of similar stature, build, and skin tone came out of the White House and everyone around us went crazy.....until they realized that the man was not the President. :o) I affectionately like to think of him as the Obama Decoy.

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We did see one of the Real Housewives of Atlanta in line for the Egg Roll behind us...so there's that.

:o)

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Plans for a May House Concert Tour!

This is new! I'm so EXCITED to announce that I am planning my first house concert tour since moving to Reston, VA over a year ago. My friend Lindsey has already agreed to jump in the car and we plan on going where the wind takes us...... or where YOU my friends open up your living rooms! No place is off limits. If I can drive there...it's a possibility! We're planning for the month of May, and are hoping to make it all the way to Oregon and Washington...Pacific Northwest here we come! Would you be willing to host a house concert? Do you have a living room and 20 friends to invite over for an evening of music and stories? Send me an email at amy@amycoxmusic.com and start a conversation to talk about what a night in your community could look like. There's no upfront cost to you as a host and I can promise you there is nothing I love or endorse more than these evenings in a cozy, relaxed environment of a home like yours.

I have some new material to share along with stories that are beautiful, heart wrenching, and at times humorous and awkward.  From the time I spent in Arizona in 2014 to my most recent adventures of speed dating and making friends...there is quite a plethora of stories to pull from. :o) Thank you for being a part of this community that supports me and this musical/artistic pursuit of expressing all that God has done and is doing through our stories. As an independent artist, I can do what I do because of you. So from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!

Want to know more about house concerts? Check out this blog post I recently updated or email me with any questions at amy@amycoxmusic.com. Can't wait to talk with you.

Bronchitis and a House Concert

"I'm going to take your blood pressure again. It looks a little high." I laughed, coughed, and told her it was because I was so nervous.....since I never go to the doctor. But my first ever case of bronchitis landed me in the after hours clinic last Tuesday night as I finally. admitted. I was sick. After waiting more than an hour on that crinkly, disposable paper covered, only slightly comfortable table, I walked out of there with antibiotics, my first ever inhaler, and some drowsy cough suppressants.

Sleep that night was beautiful.

I am over being sick. It seems my first year back in the public schools has given my body a plethora of germs and illnesses to choose from. Not sure how I made it to year 32 without a case of flem filled bronchial lungs, but surely this was unnecessary. Or maybe I just thought if I actually got a flu shot for once.....maybe, just maybe.....it would give me superhero power to fight ALL illness. EVERYwhere.

AND my house concert Friday night loomed above my coughing lungs.  I quickly put pinterest and google into action and read up on what to do in an emergency vocal situation. And then I did all the things. All of them I could get my hands on. Like:

Drink GALLONS of water.....so much so that you wonder if it's what water boarding feels like (irrational I know). Order all sorts of fun things off of Amazon that can arrive same day....like Alkalol for sinus rinses, essential oils for essential oil type of things, a portable steamer to inhale essential oils, vicks to rub on soles of feet, and tiger balm to ease throat muscles. Sleep with a humidifier. Take the occasional shower to remind yourself that you are human and might run into the amazon delivery guy as you check your mailbox one more time. Alternate the gallons of water with tea, juices, vitamin drinks and other appealing liquids. And no talking. Which is infinitely hard when your cat is staring you down all day wondering why you haven't said a word to him.

And somehow I defied the odds and was sing ready by Friday night.....for the most part. :o) And to the group that gathered in a cozy living room on the other side of town, it was a beautiful night of community, stories, and songs. I am grateful for the continued opportunity to share what God has done and is doing.... and to throw a little Bob Ford in the mix.

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