Tuesday, December 1, 2015

I'm Not Standing Up for Adele

Image result for adele hello

Someone bagged on Adele today. You know the English singer with the best selling single "Hello"? The Facebook post said this:
Does Adele have concerts? 
Do people go? What happens? 
How do people act at an Adele concert? 
Is it just a bunch of people standing in a crowd all trying to hit the high notes with tears streaming down their faces sending texts to their exes? 
I don't understand what you do at an Adele concert.

Someone responded to this post with the following (Edited for your reading pleasure):
Gurl, I feel you! I heard the song Hello recently and I was like OMG this girl needs a therapist. Get over it! Move on already. I don't see how anyone could like that pining crazy <expletive>"

I had to laugh at the first part. I bet people DO try to hit the high notes at Adele concerts. I bet they cry. I don't know if they text their exes, but some of her songs make a strong case for doing that, especially if you've had a few drinks. I understand that the person writing this is being sarcastic. (For goodness sakes I practically invented sarcasm! You know, like Al Gore invented the internet?) But when I read the follow up comment, I felt that went too far.
I am not going to stand up for Adele. But I am going to stand up for music that is regretful, sad and whiney.
Because I have written a lot of it.
And yes, sometimes songwriters DO need therapy. Sometimes music IS our therapy.
We are very sensitive.
We FEEEEELLLLLL things. We FEEL OTHER PEOPLE's THINGS. (Get your mind out of the gutter.) It's what makes us able to write a song in the first place. We are not afraid to bare our hearts for all to hear. We want you to feel what we are feeling. We want you to relate. To cry. To laugh. To soar. To ache. Even if it means you will think we are nut-job or a loner or a moody brooder.
I FEEL what Adele is singing about in the song Hello. If you haven't heard it. (Welcome back from under a rock!) Here are the lyrics from the chorus which basically sum up theme of the song:
Hello from the other side
I must have called a thousand times
To tell you I'm sorry for everything that I've done
But when I call you never seem to be home
Hello from the other side
At least I can say that I've tried

To tell you I'm sorry for breaking your heart
But it don't matter, it clearly doesn't tear you apart

The first time I heard this song I got the chills. First of all, Adele has an amazing voice. No, let me correct that. Adele has PIPES. She is the voice of a generation. A Whitney Houston. She hits notes that only dogs can hear and has so much soul, she'll probably get into heaven twice. Her voice is at its best in Hello and it blew me away. The second reason I got chills is because of the topic of the song. Regret. I can relate to the sentiment in this song. A long, long time ago I broke someone's heart and never got to apologize. I really, really, REALLY regret that. It's not that I tried calling and the person never picked up (that seems to be Adele's problem). It's just that I was told to go away and so I did that and then our lives took us to different places and now I have no idea where this person is. I have actually prayed that God would give me the chance to apologize, but I may never get that chance. So I can relate to Adele trying, wishing, wanting to say she is sorry to someone she knows she hurt and in the end realizing that that person has probably moved on. While not to the same degree, I can feel the sting of regret that Adele conveys in this song.
Yes, Adele, it probably is time to move on, but I FEEL you.
But I am really not defending Adele; I am defending the right of songwriters everywhere to write whine-y, depressing, regret filled songs. Write on sad song slingers! I feel you! Now back to the question: "What do people do at Adele concerts?"
Fancy that!
 A concert where you LISTEN to music. No slam-dancing, moshing, devil hand signs, or catching a broken guitar thrown out to you by a drunk bassist. (Not that there is anything wrong with going to a Chili Peppers concert. I love them.) But I also love concerts where the only thing you do is listen.
Image result for patty griffinI remember being at a Patty Griffin concert at an outdoor amphitheater. I sat in the cool summer air under the stars while she played her big brown Gibson guitar and sang in her gospel-tinged, melancholy voice about love, loneliness and loss. I didn't cry or text my ex. I just listened and admired her incredible ability to transport me right into the heart of her music, right into the vortex of emotion she conveyed so beautifully with each note, with each strum. I looked up at the stars and closed my eyes and took in the moment. Later in the concert during one of Patty's most moving songs about regret, (Listen to it here: Long Ride Home ) I noticed the handsome guy sitting across the aisle from me looked like he was in a trance. His glistening eyes were focused on Patty, and he sat perfectly still. I could hear the person behind me breathing.Yes, breathing. It was that quiet. Patty had us completely wrapped around her vocal chords, feeling every vibrato trill, mesmerized and moved. She did sing some happy songs, but for the most part, she just pulled at our heart strings and we let her.
So my point is that while it is true that Adele's song is depressing and you don't get to jump off the stage and have your friends catch you at one of her concerts, there is still value.  If you have to ask what you "do" at the concert, you have probably missed the point all together. She doesn't want you to DO anything. She wants you to listen.
And that is enough.

-Hope A. Horner, 2016
To hear some of my depressing songs, click here: Hope Horner's Music
I am also on iTunes and Amazon.

#hopehorner #adele #adelehello #pattygriffin

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Can You See Me?

"Can you hear me now? Is that better? Hello? Sorry if you can't hear me very well. I'm on my watch."

I heard those words yesterday at the Apple store. I was at the "timeout table" waiting for a cell phone repair appointment. The lady next to me was talking into her watch like Dick Tracy--shouting into the face and then holding it up to her ear. I wasn't quite sure if she was trying to hear or be heard. Probably both. Either way, it didn't appear to be going well. I chuckled when she said the words "I'm on my watch." Made me feel like I was propelled two hundred years into the future and had arrived here in my hover craft. OK, so maybe this is just the way things are in 2015 and I am behind the times--still blasting 80's music on SiriusXM, pretty proud of my iPhone 6+ but not really aware of all its space age features. Oh well. I am not sure I want to talk into my phone anyway. But that just probably sounds like "Sour grapes." Or should I say, "Bitter apples"? I wonder how long it will be before a watch comes out where we will be able to see the face of the person on the other end?
Bottom line this woman was trying to communicate. She was trying to be heard. Connect. Whether on a watch or an iPhone or in a face to face meeting, we are all trying to do the same thing.

I run with a team and at practice this morning one of my teammates made a comment about how troubled youth just want someone to "see them." I thought it was a beautiful way to express what I have learned over many years of working with high risk kids. I couldn't agree more. "They want you to see them" is a beautiful way of saying they want you to acknowledge them, talk to them like they matter and make them feel like they do
Isn't that true for all of us?
We all want to be seen. And when we're not, we want to be missed. It is why we get up in the morning--to see the people who see us. And by 'see', I mean much more than vision. I mean connection. We want someone to notice us in a way that matters--in a way that makes us feel like we belong, we are loved and this meeting, program, office, club, team, family or world wouldn't be the same without us.
If we have people who make us feel this way, or even one person who makes us feel this way--we are blessed. I try to be someone who 'sees' people - sees their value and points it out. It's easy to get busy, to get distracted, to take people for granted and not really see them. I pray that my vision sharpens so I can truly 'see' the people around me. Maybe I can't see them on a fancy watch yet, but I can see them.
Who will you see today?

-Hope A. Horner
Follow on Twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/hopenote

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Every Day in Every Way, I Get it Done!

Every day in every way
I get it done! I get it done!

I see a lot of people when I jog at 4:30 in the morning, more than you'd think would be up at that hour. We never stop and introduce ourselves--that would break our rhythm and be a bit scary, but I do name the ones who are up with me at that pre-dawn hour.

Hide in a Hood Man
Walk in Woman's Wig 
Overly Polite Girl
Old Man Jogger
No Smile Steve

There are a few more, but these are the ones I see regularly, so they have names--not their real names of course--I name them according to how they act or look in the morning. They probably have names for me too:
Girl with Pooping Dog (My Whippet, Cali, runs alongside me. That is when she's not pooping.)
Blink, Shine and Shuffle (I run in a reflective vest with a blinking light.)
Or maybe they just call me Slow Poke. That works.

The other morning, I ran past someone I hadn't seen before. It was dark and he was across the street so I couldn't get a good look at him, but I could definitely HEAR him. He was chanting as he ran:
Every day in every way, I get it done! I get it done!
He said this over and over and sounded like he meant it. He wasn't yelling like a drill Sargent, but he was loud enough to be heard across the street.
Every day in every way, I get it done! I get it done!

He emphasized the last I get it done by swinging his arms in front of him like a boxer. He was wearing a hooded gray sweatshirt with black sweatpants and sprung off his toes with each short stride as he ran downhill. He was definitely wide awake, on a mission, and didn't care who heard him. I smiled as he went by.

Every day in every way, I get it done! I get it done!

Yeah! Good for you, man! I thought. I wondered if he was trying to lose weight or kick an addiction. Maybe he had just found out he was pre-diabetic or had high blood pressure? Maybe he had just beat cancer? Or maybe his wife had simply said, "If you don't get up off your lazy..." No matter what his motivation, he was up and moving at what some would call an "ungodly hour" and he was reminding himself that he was getting it done.
I was running uphill, chest heaving and thighs burning and his words put a spring in my step. My dog strained at the leash behind me to follow after him, but I pulled her back on to the sidewalk and dragged her up the hill. At the top, we stopped and looked back. I could see his gray sweatshirt bobbing along, but I no longer hear him. I was pretty sure he was still chanting. I watched him disappear around a corner as I caught my breath and thought: Am I getting it done in every way?
Every day? 
I wasn't sure.
I wasn't sure I WANTED to get it done in EVERY way, EVERY day. That sounds exhausting. I would need a lot of Pepsi Max (spiked with cocaine) to be able to sustain that kind of "get it done" factor. Not even Red Bull gets it done every day in every way.

Years ago, one of my work teams had a slogan: "Git 'er done!" They printed out a sign with these words on it and posted it up in their office space as an official slogan. They stole the phrase from a sleeveless flannel wearing TV celebrity I am sure you are picturing at this point (or trying not to) and what it meant to them was "Make it happen! No excuses! Find a way!" I do like this sentiment even if I don't look good in sleeveless flannel. I have one of my own that has stuck with me my whole life: "Whatever It Takes." Same idea, but
I don't think I need to get it done in every way every day. I prefer--if it matters, get it done.
You've heard the old phrase, "You have time for what you make time for"? It's one of my favorites. How is it that we don't have time to mow the lawn but we always find time to golf? Why is it so hard to 'find time' to call Mom but somehow we have time to post on Facebook? Years ago, a friend told me you can tell a lot about what someone values by looking at their checkbook. Where do they spend their money? No one has a check book anymore except my Mom, so I think the new phrase should probably be: "You can tell a lot about someone by their credit card statement."
So maybe I don't get it done in EVERY way EVERY day, but what I DO get done--where I spend my time and money--shows what and who I value. Where is my time going? Who is it going to? I have to work, sleep and eat, but when I do get a free moment, how do I spend it?
Every day in every way, I make it count! I make it count! Maybe I will chant that on my run tomorrow. I want to make each day count for something bigger than the daily grind, or the morning run, the Netflix movie, or the dinner buffet. I want to spend time on what matters--help those who are in need. Say thanks to the people who have made a difference in my life. Pray.Write songs and stories that touch a nerve or inspire. I want the people I care about to know it, to feel it. I want to notice the people God places in my path and reach out in love. OK, maybe not at 4:30 in the morning, but you get the idea.

-Hope A. Horner
Follow Hope on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/HopeNote
Contact the author on hotmail at hopeh1122.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Now This is Living

"That's not something I would do."
This was my Dad's response.
"Well, I am glad you got that opportunity."
That was my Mom's, but she didn't sound glad.
What were they talking about?
Me jumping out of a plane.
Yup, I did it. Took the plunge.
And it was one of the BEST things I have ever done. Truly life changing. Exhilarating. Mind-blowing. And you can add about three dozen other California-surfer-girl adjectives like awesome, gnarly, cool, radical and well, crazy.

Before I jumped, I was in the waiting area at the airport, watching parachutes get folded by guys in red shirts while nervous jumpers walked in and out of the waiting room. They would head out to the plane with furrowed brows and tight fists and come back with huge smiles and windblown hair. The next person to jump was a man with dark hair and jeans.
"Number 6 or number 9? Pick one." His instructor asked him.
"What am I picking?" The man looked confused.
"The device that is going to save our lives." The instructor pointed to two parachutes leaning up against the wall.
"Oh! Ah, number 9." He said with a nervous laugh. The instructor picked up the number 9 parachute, which looked like a giant black backpack, and swung it over his shoulder.
I sat with my mouth open thinking about what he just said.
"The device that is going to save our lives."

Am I trying to kill myself?
Playing "Chicken" with death?
No, no, NO! That's not what I'm doing here, is it? I am just having fun! Trying something new! Checking off something on my bucket list! Certainly, I AM taking a risk, but risking my life? Really?
Yes. That is exactly what I am doing.
I didn't breathe for a minute.
No wonder I had to sign twenty pages of liability waivers when I came in! Most of them said things like, "You agree not to sue us if you die." I initialed and signed, signed and initialed, showed ID and signed again. I almost expected to have to sign in blood at one point, but luckily no finger pricking was involved.
No wonder my parents looked pale when I told them I was going to skydive.
No wonder a co-worker hugged me tearfully "just in case I don't come back."
No wonder I didn't tell my sister. The first time I was scheduled to jump (the date got postponed) she asked how much it cost and I told her I had found a deal on Groupon so it wasn't too bad. She gasped.
"You are doing a GROUPON skydive? Are you crazy? This better not be Pepe's Bargain Skydiving!" She was so horrified that I decided not to tell her when the date got rescheduled.
So I get it.
I WAS risking my life.
But then I thought about it.
Isn't that what we do every day just by living?
Do we not risk our lives just getting out of bed in the morning and driving to work?
Every time we walk along a busy road?
Ride a bike? Drive over a bridge? Fly in a plane?
Eat a donut? Drink alcohol?
Maybe "death" doesn't always race up toward us at 150 miles an hour like it did during my jump, but it is still approaching. Still a reality. Still imminent. We just don't think about it because we don't (usually) have a parachute on our back and nothing but air under our feet.
Part of the reason I didn't consider my jump a "dance with death" was because instructor was great. He put me at ease and made the whole experience fun with his casual demeanor, friendly banter and easy to understand instructions. I was glad he was strapped to my back even if it meant he was going to chuck me backwards out of a plane. I knew he was going to keep me safe. He was an experienced pro. Plus, I tipped him BIG and up front. My life was in his hands. This was not the time to be cheap.

Sure, I was risking my life, but that is not what I felt like I was doing. On the way up in the plane, I felt peaceful and blissful. During the jump, I felt like I was enjoying life (except for the first part where I was free-falling.That felt like well, free-falling.) Afterwards, I felt more alive than ever, so invigorated, so joyful. I swear I listened to "Walking on Sunshine" by Katrina the Waves over and over for days after my jump. I couldn't get the smile off my face. Couldn't stop talking about it. When I showed the video of my jump to a staff member at work he asked if the video had been "enhanced." I said no. It was just a go pro video my dive instructor had filmed with a small camera fastened to his wrist. I had it in my hands 15 minutes after my jump. There was no time for fancy editing even though for the amount of money I paid for it you would have thought George Lucas directed it. I asked why he thought the video had been enhanced. Because you are glowing in that video. You look like there is light coming from you.
I WAS glowing. I was full of light. Full of LIFE. I had just ridden up to 15,000+ feet, climbed out of a small plane and hurled myself into the blue. The wind yanked my hair, pulled back my face and ripped out an earring and all I could do was smile and yell "WooooHoooo! Yeah Baby!" like a crazy, drunk teenager at a Katy Perry concert. I wasn't afraid. I wasn't nervous. I had an instructor on my back who handled everything, including pulling the cord to send up our parachute--the device that saved our lives. I don't know the number of the parachute we used, he didn't ask me to choose one, he just picked one and put it on. I don't care what number it was. It worked. And I got to use it to float in the air for several minutes, steering with the wind over the farmlands of Camarillo, gazing out at the Pacific Ocean and sneaking a peek at Lake Casitas, shimmering like a diamond in the hills. I stared down at the onion farms and strawberry fields and watched the sunlight stream through the wispy cirrus clouds. I soared like a bird with the cool wind in my face, not a drop of spit left in my mouth, goggles around my neck, all the while thinking:
Now THIS is living.
Oh, and...

Where the heck are we going to land??

-Hope A. Horner, 2015

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