Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Joy of Sharing Music

The GhettoPod is gone.  And I didn't even get to say goodbye.

I hope that the person who removed it from my unlocked car under the cover of darkness enjoys the music that I so lovingly uploaded in 2005.  I also hope they come to appreciate the one-minute battery time that will not allow new music to be added because it won't hold a charge long enough.  

But, really... One of the greatest compliments someone can pay me is to listen to my favorite music and at least pretend like they enjoy it as well.  I think you get to know a lot about a person by listening to their music.  

So maybe the new owner of the GhettoPod will call the phone number engraved on the back (it's mine) and want to talk about "Ash's Top 40."  Maybe they would critique my choice of a newer Willie Nelson song, "You Remain" as opposed to one of his old classics.  Or they might question how Eminem's "Lose Yourself" AND Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's (you know... The Big Hawaiian guy) version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" can co-exist on one playlist.  And I would love to explain to him or her the thought process of how Trans-Siberian Orchestra's "Christmas Eve Sarajevo" made the cut for my Top 40 all time favorite songs.

Side note: I've talked to many people about the "Top 40 Challenge."  The origin of this challenge comes from my college roommate, Missy.  Missy is someone who has regularly expanded my musical horizons over the past decade.  She has sent me multiple mixes including many artists who ultimately made the Top 40 cut.  So the challenge is to determine your Top 40 songs of all time, with no repeating artists.  I found it to be a really good way of finding what the "essence" of my musical interests were.  I started by going through my iTunes library and creating a playlist.  I would say that getting to 100 was no problem.  But then you have to cut down to the one song from the artist that you love more than any other.  And then, inevitably, you must cut out some artists.  At that point I felt like I was betraying old friends.  So my advice to anyone who is willing to take on the challenge would be to make a "B-side" playlist and dump all the songs that didn't make the cut there.  This will help you sleep better at night.  And... here is the best part of the Challenge... You share your playlist with me and I share my playlist with you!  How cool is that?  To date, I believe I have playlists from my best friend from high school Kristen, my cousin Colson, my old roommate Beth, a student from this year's senior class Will, a random guy I met in the Atlanta airport and shared a rental car with on the way to Charleston who I have discovered is my musical soulmate Lee, and Missy's friend Pete...whom I've never met but maybe started the Top 40 challenge.  Interestingly, I never got a playlist from Missy!  Something about losing all of her music off of a crashed computer...or something.  Anywho...if you make your Top 40... Please share!

But I digress.   

Back to the fact that I have now shared my entire music collection (including the songs from my college years I collected and told you about a few blog posts ago) with a perfect stranger.  Maybe this person will put their mind at ease from their recent poor choices by relaxing to the playlist entitled "Bubble Bath."  Or maybe they will find the playlists entitled "Carpoolin'" and "Cartunes" are perfect for their daily commute to work.  And they might wonder what all the playlists entitled "Class of... " '05, '06, '07, '08, '09, '10, '11, '12, '13 all are for.  (It's a teacher's cost-effective solution to graduation presents and a crafty way to broaden the musical horizons of the often limited musical library of an 18-year-old.)  Or they might wonder what path the Wild West Adventure took from the playlist called "Wild West Adventure." least I didn't have to share the 2 pairs of Maui Jim sunglasses (1 pair that was less than 24 hours old), the Osprey backpack, Marmot down jacket or garage door opener with my new music-sharing friend.  All they wanted was a 2nd Generation iPod.  (see image below...hence the name "GhettoPod.")

Which got me to thinking... "Don't store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there you heart will be also."  Matthew 6: 19-21

In the next year, I won't be shocked if some of what I carry on my back will be taken from me.  I've been intentional about not packing anything that would draw attention to myself or that if it were taken could not be replaced.  I'm sure if and when that day comes, I'll be a little bummed and it will probably pose an inconvenience of some sort...but maybe it will help someone else more than it will help me. 

And I chuckle knowing that the first artist that shows up on the GhettoPod is Amy Grant's "A Christmas Album" ... only the best Christmas album of all time.  Maybe my new friend will "come to Jesus" and want to return the GhettoPod to my car tonight.  But the odds are against it so I probably won't leave my car unlocked tonight.  

Monday, July 15, 2013

Goal #2: An Open Heart and a Teachable Spirit

P.S.  Goal #1 was "Wherever you are, be all there."

I am really attempting to be purposeful during this sabbatical.  In an effort to be purposeful, I've created some goals.  I actually dislike the "G" word... "Goal".  I absolutely have dreams and things I desire to achieve but I feel like if I call them goals, and I don't meet them, then I've failed.  But for our purposes here... I'll refer to them as "goals."  And I have 4 of them... for now. But I'll get to the other two in later posts. 

So I want to have an open heart.  I want to be open to new experiences, cultures, ways of living, modes of thinking...  And I want to have a teachable spirit.  I want to be receptive to the lessons that I have to learn. 

There have been times in my life I feel like I have heard the same "lesson" many times over the course of a few days, weeks or months. You know...the kind of situation where the same topic keeps coming up over and over again.  I believe this is one way The Lord speaks to us.  I hear the same lesson in conversation with friends, family and acquaintances, it comes up in the books, articles or scripture that I read and I hear it from sermons at church.  In years past, I remember these lessons being about love, grace and living life now.  One particularly memorable lesson in college was this idea that we all have a "terminal illness"... meaning we are all going to die, and we don't know when, so you better live life now.  In my life as a Christian, John 10:10 sums this all up for me: "I (Jesus) have come that you might have life and have it to the full."  

And now, I find myself learning another lesson.  

In June, I was sitting around a campfire near Vail with my friends Leah, Annette and Kim.  Kim said something that struck a nerve.  She said, "Comparison is the thief of all joy."  It turns out this quote is attributed to Teddy Roosevelt.  And it is so true.  Think about it.  You finally get with the times and you buy an iPhone 4 and you LOVE it... only to discover the iPhone 5 came out a week later.  You get all dressed up with your new super cute Target outfit and you are looking GOOD... only to discover that your friends are rocking some designer style.  You have a 4 month old nephew and he is the MOST adorable baby in the world... only to discover there is a cuter baby.  Oh wait.  That's impossible.  

Anyway... You smelling what I'm stepping in?

So, I liked this quote.  And I found I was able to use it to encourage others in various conversations over the last month. 

And then I heard a form of it at church on Sunday.  As a side was awesome.  I went to a church where a friend from my high school years is now the associate pastor.  It's super cool to see what The Lord is doing at Bradley Epworth Church and how this body of believers love The Lord and each other.  A woman from the congregation was sharing a condensed version of what she had shared at a women's retreat.  Her message was on " the marks of a mature believer."  Let's just say that I ran out of room on my bulletin taking notes. 

One of the first things that she spoke was "Be who God called you to be."  She was referencing Ephesians 4... "Live a life worthy of the calling you have received."  I wrote down all of her other main points about hindrances to spiritual maturity and measures of maturity.  But then she said that in regards to using comparisons: don't do it.  

And then I began to reflect...  Maybe this word is for me.  What's The Lord trying to say to me?  How do I compare myself it others?

If I compare myself to others out of my insecurities...I think my biggest battle has been in comparing my beauty to others.  For many different reasons, it's a bigger struggle when I'm here in the Midwest than it is in the mountains.  But I am reminded that I am "fearfully and wonderfully made" and that I should be who God made me to be... because I'm the best me there is.  So I am going to walk fully in that.  

If I compare myself to others out of pride... I struggle with thinking that I have all the answers.  A friend and I jokingly say that everyone should just ask us how things should be done because we're pretty sure we have it all figured out..."jokingly."  I also say that I should be a "consultant."  I could tell people what to do and make money doing it?  Awesome!  But, again, I'm reminded from Ephesians 4 that I should be "completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love."  I have work to do there.  

Lesson learned...or rather... I'm learning this lesson.  I'm sure I'll need more reminders in the days to come.  But I'll be looking for more lessons to receive with an open heart and teachable spirit.  I'll keep you posted on how that works out.  

Monday, July 8, 2013

Technology Bootcamp

I'm a tech-dork.

Really, I'm more like a data-entry guru.  I like to take things that seem to be disorganized, digitize them and put them into neat little data folders of some sort. 

Example: In my college years... circa 2000...this idea of mp3's began to surface. At the same time, this program called Napster was designed to share these mp3's, oh so generously.  I had heard of some questionable ethics surrounding Napster, and so my conscience suggested I not use it.  So I used Audiogalaxy instead. (No one was talking about that program and the "evils" of sharing so I felt slightly better about using it.  It did the same thing as Napster... It just wasn't as popular.)  I got good at using Audiogalaxy.  Really good.  And then I organized all my new music into neat little folders.   Then, being the generous person I am, decided to share all my music with the rest of the student body on our intranet.  Let's just say, on more than one occasion when I introduced myself to people on campus I heard, "Oh, YOU'RE Ashley Weaver who shares your music with everyone."  Needless to say, I eventually got a true conscience and haven't illegally downloaded music since 2003, which also coincided with the time that I began to get a regular paycheck. 

But I digress.  

I like organizing data.... partially because I'm slightly OCD and partially because I find there is an end to the project and it feels like I've accomplished something.  I think this is why I have enjoyed my job keeping the books at High Mountain Taxi in Vail the last 3 years.  

So one of my projects this week has been to digitize my recipes. Awhile back I took pictures of all of the appealing recipes from my Bon Appetit magazines.  I then discovered Evernote Food as a snazzy way to organize these recipes, search for new ones, document your restaurant experiences AND catalog menus that I've created.  This could be what a small slice of heaven might look like for me:  food and organization combined into one app.  Awesome!  

But a bigger project for me has been teaching my mom how to effectively use her own technology.  My mom has taken an interest in technology.  Bless her.  At times, she just seems to struggle with grasping some of the particulars of the interwebs and the functions of her various technological devices.  And being that I am the tech-dork that I am AND a teacher, shortly after I arrive home for any amount of time she has a list of technological issues that she wants me to solve for her.  We have spent countless hours on these issues.  Sometimes my patience last longer than others.  A few days ago I expressed my lack of patience by sharing with her a Seinfeld favorite "Serenity Now!" montage.  Please enjoy....

This past week we started what my mom has named "Technology Bootcamp."  At another point of frustration, I told her the Bootcamp instructor was about to go AWOL.  But, I somehow made it through those moments.  Serenity now!

Today, I finally had the break through that maybe Technology Bootcamp needed to consider a low-tech solution to explaining how the technology universe functions in my mom's world. This is what I came up with.

Here are my students who are captivated by this intriguing lesson. 

I'm pretty sure that Hudson will know more about technology than both of us in a few short years.  But at least I can take a little credit for giving him a little start.  

I do have to give my parents credit for teaching me a little tech fact this week though.  My dad brought home the term P.I.C.N.I.C.  "Problem In Chair, Not In Computer."  Needless to say, that term has been flying around this place a lot recently.  They may regret ever teaching me that one.  

And my last thought on teaching technology is this: my mom claims that she is rather advanced technologically compared to many of her friends.  Oh my.  Bless us all.

**UPDATE:  I just posted this entry. My mom says "I'm not signed up for your blog."  We both laughed at the thought of her figuring this one out... ***

Monday, July 1, 2013

"Wherever you are, be all there"

I've been telling people that one of my goals throughout the next year is to live out a quote I heard somewhere along the way, "Wherever you are, be all there."   When I went to look up the source of the quote for the sake of this blog post, I found it was attributed to missionary Jim Elliot.  (If you don't  know the story of Jim Elliot, Google it.  And then read the book "Through Gates of Splendor" written by his widow, Eisabeth Elliot.  You will be blown away...) I also found that the full quote actually says: "Wherever you are, be all there.  Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God."

I love this.

But it does not come naturally for me.  In fact, I have lived many years (mostly in high school) only anticipating things that were to come in an effort to get through each day and week by just looking forward to what was next.  (As an aside, I pretty much hated high school and was probably slightly depressed through much of it...never feeling like I truly "belonged".  And then I went on to teach high school for 10 years. And loved it!  Go figure...)

So in the year to come, I decided it was important to have some guiding principles, and being "all there" is one of them.  And I started to live this way a couple months ago.  As the school year ended and people began to hear of my future plans, I heard a lot of "Are you so excited?"  Of course my response was "Yes!"  But I was also excited to be "all there" and take advantage of all my favorite things in the valley that I'd miss for the next year:  lunch with friends at Eat! Drink!, dinner dates at Sato, workouts at my new found obsession of Pure Barre, hikes to the Homestead water tower, worship at Calvary Chapel, chai and bran muffins on my patio, fellowship with the Bible Study Beauties, book club conversations (a record breaking 2 meetings in 3 weeks!) with the Booksies, graduation festivities for the amazing EVHS Class of 2013, a haircut from the infamous Norman...ok, now I'm stretching it...  Whatever opportunity I had.  I wanted to be "all there."

Then I was "all there" for the amazing 6 nights/7 days in the wilderness with our Young Life girls.  And the 1,050 mile drive from Edwards to Peoria... I decided to embrace it and be "all there" as I had the opportunity to be alone for the first time in a week and rock out to a 15 hour music marathon.

When I told people my first stop on "the journey" was Peoria, Illionis, I often got an eye brows raised, sarcastic: "Oh! Wow!"  But I am "all here" for the next 2 months and I'm excited about it.  And the first week gave me much to be excited about...

I rolled into town an hour before the much anticipated "Wines and Polo on the Prairie" benefit for Easter Seals. I was "all there" as I had the opportunity to connect with family and catch up with friends at an awesome event.

Watching polo with cousin Annie, Grandpa and Grandma Weaver and my dad holding Hudson

I am loving being "all there" as I hang out with my little "Huddy Buddy" my brother, Zack, and sister in law, Carolyn's 4 month old son.  I get to spend Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays with him throughout the summer.  He is definitely a MAJOR reason for my extended stay in Peoria.  I mean, seriously, how can you resist this sweet face?

Huddy Bobby contemplating life

Wednesday night, I was blessed to be "all there" as I ventured to Bloomington with my cousin Annie and her husband Mark to rock climb at a climbing gym converted from some old silos.  I loved the climbing, but loved the company just as much. 

Climbing with Mark and Annie Bell at Upper Limits

Thursday evening was the first gathering for a summer Bible Study with some of the women in my family.  I was so grateful to have the privilege to be "all there" as we shared our hearts and learned more about joy and humility as we study the book of Philippians. 

I was "all there" for an amazing weekend in Chicago.  It started with taking the train from Princeton to Chicago's Union Station... arriving in the midst of the Blackhawks Stanley Cup victory celebrations on Friday.  I was blessed to spend the night with my college roommate Missy, her husband, Todd and their 2 month old precious boy, Chase.  

Missy and Baby Chase

The weekend continued with meeting up with my brother, Luke and his girlfriend, Rachel, in town from Dallas for the festivities.  I was "all there" for a sweet conversation with Luke and meeting the lovely Rachel for the first time. I'm looking forward to more time with these two later this summer!  

Rachel, Luke, Me and Sarah - Rachel's sister at Moe's Cantina

And then it was time to celebrate the youngest Weaver cousin, Travis, as he turned 21.  About 20 members of the Weaver clan descended upon the Windy City for the event.  We started with drinks at the Wit, then dinner at Carnivale and finally some good laughs at The Second City.  Thank you, Uncle Chuck and Aunt Laurie, for helping to make an amazing memory for our family!  This was another event I was excited to be "all there" for!

The Birthday Boy, Travis, arrives at the Wit

Aunt Laurie and Uncle Chuck enjoying the festivities

Zack, Carolyn, Rachel, Luke, Me, Dad and Mom at Carnivale
The next morning, it was good to have our family together (minus Hudson) for breakfast overlooking the city.  Thank you to the Frye Family for opening your amazing Chicago place to us!  It was a great time for us to be "all there."  

Bottom line... it's been an amazing first week home.  I don't necessarily anticipate nor desire having such busy weeks the rest of the summer.  But it has been a great way to kick off a summer in Peoria!

And regardless... Activity or rest, rain or shine, joy or sorrow, work or play... "Wherever I am, I'll be all there."