Category Archives: music

Parts Truly Unknown

On Friday morning, I get a text at 6 a.m. from my friend Angela informing me that Anthony Bourdain committed suicide.  She knew how much I liked him and knew this would be hard for me to hear. My husband was on his way out for work as I read out the text to him.  He said, “I know. I didn’t want to wake you up with that news.” But he knew, it wouldn’t matter how it came, the news was not good.

The rest of the day and now, I still feel a sense of sadness as I know I am not the only one. The media has continually been interviewing his friends, showing past Parts Unknown (his show on CNN), and my social media is covered with his face.  Mainly, because I follow many chefs. I have a big interest in the culinary scene due to Bourdain.

After a pilgrimage to Italy in 2006 which came with much anxiety because of fear of travel, my craving for food and travel grew.  At that time, to my knowledge, there were not many travel shows other than Rick Steves and Samantha Brown.  Much to my delight, the Travel Channel gave us No Reservations where I first became acquainted with Bourdain’s witty culinary ways.  It right away captured for me an escape from my life in concrete Phoenix suburbia, track house living.

The trip to Italy placed a sense of adventure in me that I knew had to be somewhat contained. Let me preface here, my life is greatly blessed.  To date, my husband and I have traveled abroad two more times after our first Italy trip (London, Paris, Italy again). We travel within the States quite often.  However, I long for travel in the sense that I would like to discover it like Bourdain captured it.  Places not necessarily on the tourist map.

On Sunday’s, I would look forward to his latest episode.  Where was he now? Thailand. Croatia. Turkey. Sicily.  His demeanor was also a familiar connection to me.  He had a bad boy, rebellious nature. Reminded me of my youthful past and the group of friends I hung around with. His taste in music too was much like mine. A like of rock n roll and classics.  His wit also had me laughing as I was amused by how no matter whom he had in his show, he never changed himself to interact with them.  He had them laughing. Giving me a sense that no matter what part of the world you are in, we are all the same.

Once his show went from the Travel Network to CNN, I stayed with it.  I adapted a viewer relationship via his program.  This means about 12 years of fan watching.  And with social media, there became another connection.  It gave the fan a closer connection to his person who we all believed had the best job in the world. Travel and eat the best food. What could be better? He was the one who introduced me to taking pictures of food and share my experience of it.

He was also very vocal on Twitter about social issues.  One in particular had to with the Mexican immigrant and how interwoven their culinary skills are wrapped in America’s fabric.  Always pointing out that if we were to walk into any kitchen across the U.S., you would for sure find Mexicans working the kitchen, citizen or not.

Bourdain was not a believer.  Often on his show, he would give a tidbit on how he couldn’t rationalize believing in a higher power.  I don’t recall him ever pointing out one god over another or Jesus in particular, but he was clear he didn’t believe in any of it. Even when his close friend Eric Rippert was on his show speaking about Buddhism, you could see Bourdain wasn’t fully embracing.  Despite him not having faith, I never heard him bash anyone for believing.  But I know, it would strike him if he felt a religion was, in his view, destroying a people or nation.

So why do I dedicate a blog to him?

Bourdain’s suicide not only shook me, but it had my mind going.  I thought of my cousin Gil who committed suicide in 2010.  Thought of my Godmother who was married to him, his two sons, his family. All of us who went through that day with them. The feeling of life spiraling out of control. The big black hard depth of despair.  The confusion. The pain.

Here we all saw this man Bourdain on TV just about every week or on social media, seeming to live the life we all wanted. Celebration. Laughter. Good food and beautiful environments. But it wasn’t all true. I mean, did he have that?  Yes, I do believe he did. But he also had demons that wouldn’t let him go.

In his early life, he became addicted to heroin.  He spoke about the struggles of it and also shared how he was ‘recovered’, yet always conveying, recovery is day to day. Each day, he worked at it as many recovered addicts do.  I understand this well.  My Dad was a recovered addict. Difference was, my Dad found Jesus and lived his life with freedom from it.

However, from current family who is an addict, heroin is the worst of all drugs you could ever become addicted to.  This is one that has effects for the rest of your life. Now, that’s what I have heard scientifically, but I place all in God and know that if Jesus was in their life, it would be different. And you know, I’m no expert and I don’t want to go into heroin effects, mental illness, when is it not mental illness and we call it a demon, or lack of faith issues.  I don’t have expertise to discuss.

But what I do want to write about is the soul and how our faith responds to someone who has taken their life.

Because Bourdain was a self confessed non believer, my thought process on his passing made me think about the soul like I haven’t encountered before.  Some of his fans were leaving comments on Twitter or Instagram, saying things like “hope you have peace now in heaven or hell wherever you are’, or ‘give them hell’, etc.  I thought what darkness!

In my prayer time and reflection about Gil came forth. Thinking about his time of death and what we as a family learned. Although, Gil did believe in Jesus and was Catholic, family was confused on whether his soul went to heaven. And what I found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church forever changed my outlook.

Suicide

2280 Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him. It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for his honor and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of.

2281 Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God.

2282 If suicide is committed with the intention of setting an example, especially to the young, it also takes on the gravity of scandal. Voluntary co-operation in suicide is contrary to the moral law.

Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.

2283 We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.

Bourdain stood up for the marginalized. He brought to light topics of the poor, no one else was touching in this form of media. He used his celebrity to bring witness, life that the world sees as dejected because they don’t live like we live.  But in reality showed more riches in their cooking or family members.   In a sense, we saw the Beatitude come to life “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”.  And he used that compassion, which I believe was placed in him by God. Even though, he never claim that. And it wasn’t always about the poor, but sharing stories of those living with wars around them.

In God’s mercy, we leave his soul and others who have taken their lives in such despair.  For we really do not know. I for one need to be aware to check on another.  From the one who we think has it all together to the one who looks like they are crumbling.

My food pics and travel will forever have root in Anthony Bourdain. For these I leave…

*******

Help us Lord to be more aware. Help us with courage to speak to those who do not show their belief in you Jesus, so that we may direct them to your love and mercy.  For we know as St. Peter says “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Heaven is not out there only in the sky, but can by the grace of God, can be attained in the heart with true joy.  In how Your peace can allow them to breathe again. +++

Our Lady Queen of Angels – Newport Beach, California

My husband and I like to visit Orange County California often when we can.  We enjoy the beach weather and relaxation the ocean provides.

Of course when we are visiting, during a weekend getaway, we attend Mass.

Here are pics of Our Lady Queen of Angels.

This is an affluent area.  When I first arrived I was blown away by the marble touches.  The wooden planked ceiling and arch is exquisite.  With a sun roof right above the main altar.  Even on days where the marine layer is thick, this still brings in bright light.  Great effect!!

The choir made me feel as though I had bought tickets to an opera.  Their vocals were heart touching.

Overall, every time we visit this parish, the pews are always full.  Always happy to visit this lovely church when were in town. If you are ever in Newport Beach, come see it.

Twist of Age

Recently a popular music artist by the name of Chris Cornell passed away. Apparent suicide.  The news was heartbreaking.  He was such a great talent to have killed himself at age 52 seems completely confusing.

Because of his passing, a slur of memories have come to mind not only from me, but also friends who during the 1980s, 90s were listening to  music like his that came out of Seattle. Grunge rock they called it!

Friends and I were used to playing music by Chris Cornell. In our cars, at home, at social events and even live shows that we would attend. We had friends who were in bands who played covers of the artists we liked.

It was rebellious.  It was loud. Went with what we were feeling at the time.

Somewhere around 1996, my music choices began to change.  In my mind I was thinking that whatever my interests were at a time that correlated to a past, I no longer wanted to hold onto.  So with a move out of the city to a bigger city, I left it.

For many years, even after my Lupus diagnosis, I kept myself from listening to music from that time. Until around 2011, when I turned 40.  I began adding the songs of  my past to my Spotify playlists.  Now I listen to it almost everyday along with other classic rock songs.

But yesterday’s tragedy of Chris Cornell’s passing got me thinking. Where are those artists today in their spiritual walk? I thought of it because I thought how awful if they also choose to take their own lives and not ever know their value that only comes from Jesus.

It also made me wonder who in the groups of friends I hung out with, whom I no longer have contact with, found Jesus.  I think of how wrong my life could’ve gone if I didn’t listen to those invisible texts in the sky from our Lord guiding me to follow Him.  Those decisions where I could have taken a road away from him but decided to one step it towards His light.

Now when I listen to music from the past, I listen to it differently.  All my gratitude where I’m at now in my life goes to Jesus in rescuing me out of darkness.

I wish these artists who unfortunately decided to take their lives were able to know the love of Jesus and could’ve written songs with the love they received from Him in their hearts.  But we will never know. So when I hear the music and their God given talent, I appreciate them on a different level.  Such mental suffering they were dealing with.   Thank God He is merciful and only He knows what happens to them at time of death.

Catechism of the Catholic Church – 2283 We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives

So this post, goes to those who are struggling with love and validation in their lives.  To allow themselves to open up and share what they’re struggling with. To seek help and think of those who will suffer without them and how very important they are to their family and friends.  Life is precious.  Whatever it is you think you know about life, will be answered better if you give it to Jesus.

Rest in peace Chris Cornell +++

 

Two for Tuesday

Two songs right now in the Christian music hemisphere that get to me.  Honestly speaking, I don’t listen to popular Christian music much.  I tend to listen to traditional hymns when I want to “go there”. But these two songs really move me.  Take a listen!

Audrey Assad – This song and video relates to me so much!!

Audrey Assad – New Every Morning

Travis Greene – This song helps me to be reminded.

Travis Greene – Intentional

 

Music makes the whole world go around

After a week of dealing with a lupus flare, I recalled my hospital stay in 2008 and my long track back to better health during the time I recovered from CDiff .

I did much walking. I would step out of the house and just walk!  I had anxiety issues so going for a walk would help. And while I walked I would play my iTunes or play music at home throughout the day.

I’ve always been passionate for the artists I listen to and have always received joy from their songs to this day.  I can hit repeat and never get bored.

When I was little, my parents would often have weekend parties. They would play music from Santana, Mexican music artists, and some popular artists of the 1970s and early 80s.  I used to love to dance to this music and so I grew a love for music early on.

Then MTV happened.  My attachment to music got stronger.  And for whatever reason, I became a rebel in my own mind on who I chose to listen to.  I ended up choosing to listen to groups that were about some form of leather and spikes. It made me feel tough and almost like showing those around me I’m going against the grain. Yes, I was bad to the bone….. Ha!

My mom bought me a stereo for Christmas one year. She never complained to me, but I wonder now if she regretted it. I would turn the speaker out the bedroom window so that my friends and I could listen to music while playing in the front yard.  Not caring or even wondering if the neighbors were disturbed by it.  I also had a beat box. Again, going around the neighborhood carrying it, playing the music loud. Sometimes with roller skates on.

Throughout the stages of my life, I have had some sort of theme music to go with it. But now as I’m older, I find myself wanting to only hear the oldies but goodies. It takes me to a time and place that seemed innocent. Tank tops, shorts, ice cream man, trips to the store with my Dad, road trips to California, summer time at the beach, riding my bike through the desert trails, and slow Sunday mornings.

The music stirs a comfort in my heart that satisfies an emotion. I can’t hug my Dad but if I hear a song, I remember him. I can’t go back to family gatherings but feel the joy when a song reminds me of them.

My husband often laughs or is surprised by my knowledge of music. When we are on our drives to meet family and an old song comes on, I begin to sing. He’s surprised I even know the song.

I love music that touches the soul.

During my recovery, I remember playing Chicago – Strongchicagoer Everyday. Over and over. It felt like a revival for me. I would sing and dance in our office listening to it. I was by myself all day so I had no worry of looking foolish.  And in my heart, I knew during the dance I would give thanks to God for helping me progress.

So when you’re having a rough day, if you can find some time to just sit outside, put your earbuds in, and listen to some old favorites to reach that place, I know it will bring you some peace.  Give yourself some time to enjoy.

Here are a few videos of my recent cravings:

Todd Rundgren – Hello It’s Me

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLeCB7Kn-VE

Van Morrison – Into the Mystic

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEvsDuJYEnI

Stevie Wonder – As

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWhMyOs0pCQ

St Cecilia – Patrom Saint of Musicians, Pray for us! Pray that whatever needs healing good music helps us get there!+++

Music! Can’t live without it!

Yes I’ve always had a love for music.   Those close to me know my taste in music and are always shocked what I want to share with them.  It’s actually pretty funny!!

My attention to music began around 5th grade.  I was taken by “Saturday Night Fever”, “Grease”, and all the musical films.  I even took up the clarinet for two years in elementary.  I loved my clarinet.  I loved going to the music store to buy reeds. Wow, I was a musician!

Fifth grade included the popular 80’s music of the time. Duran Duran, Howard Jones, Madonna, U2, INXS, Frankie goes to Hollywood, English Beat, WHAM….This was also the same time MTV broke out! Video watching was my past time. You not only got to see your favorites sing, their fashion, but learn dance moves too.  My room was covered with Duran Duran.  Unfortunately, I never did get to see them in concert but it didn’t stop me from being loyal.

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But as with stages in my life, when my Mom and Dad began their decline to divorce, my music became dark.  I was also influenced.  So at the turn of 6th and 7th grade, I started listening to heavy metal. I remember buying a Motley Crue t-shirt at a swap meet and being proud to wear it.  A rebel I thought I was! I started distancing myself a bit from certain friends and found myself with new ones. The t-shirt I wore had a pentagram on it.  I had no idea what it was. Just thinking it was a design. I can’t remember how I found out later or someone told me.  My mom didn’t take it from me either so in my mind I guess I thought it’s ok then! Not sure she knew what it was.

My interest in music stayed this way all through high school.

I had cassettes of The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Who, RATT, Skid Row, Pantera, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Ozzy Osbourne, Metallica, Megadeth,…I’m sure there was more heavy metal bands I had but I can’t remember! I also attended just about every concert that would come into town. It was like a badge of honor to collect ticket stubs. Yes I still have them.

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The influence of this music was also due to the type of boyfriend I had in High School.  Unfortunately, at a time where I really needed parental/spiritual guidance, I found myself being very needy of someone’s attention at no matter the cost.

I had much freedom from the music I purchased, clothes I wore, concerts I attended, people who I associated with, time, etc.

Around my senior year, by the help of some very kind friends, I did very well my senior year in order to place myself in good college entry courses.  My maturity brought a bit of change in music too. I was interested in Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Beastie Boys, to name a few.

In 1993 is when I met my husband to be.  He couldn’t have been more different than what I was “accustomed to”.  We had mutual friends and that’s how we met. He came from a disciplined family, attended Catholic school, and graduated from university. We often went to dance clubs with family and friends. We enjoyed our fun with the sound of Heavy D, Boyz II Men, and whoever else was being played in the clubs. Can’t say it stuck with me but I did enjoy dancing! To this day, we still are an odd music bunch!

I had a short affair with country music. I still am a fan of George Strait, Tim McGraw, and Faith Hill. And of course, Johnny Cash.

After a pilgrimage to Italy in 2006, an awareness to global music was found.  I right away found interest in European artists who sang mainly in their native tongue. I found that I could get a radio feed from here and listen music from anywhere .  With the help of iTunes, I started downloading artists such as Pino Daniele, Jamiroquai, Negramaro, Jovanotti, Laura Pausini, to name a few. It made me feel connected to other parts of the world.

In finding spiritual music, I found  chant music to the most reverent when I want to go to that prayerful place.  My playlists include Cysterian Monks, Poor Clares, and Gregorian. I am not a fan of Christian popular music that is too loud or blaring.  If you want to me to think about my relationship with Jesus it shouldn’t be like the pop music over the radio.  That’s just my opinion.

If you listen, there are many artist who give glory to God. U2 is one of my favorites!

Music will always be a way out for me to an emotional place!

St Cecilia, pray for us! +++