Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Second Violin

Ever since I was a little girl, music has spoken to me. I have always understood it and enjoyed both simple melodies and complex compositions.

So, naturally, when an analogy is made from a musical example I understand the concept better. That is why I've been thinking about the "second violin" lately.

When the orchestra is ready to perform, the first violinist steps out onto the stage to great applause and takes his seat with the rest of the musicians. Unless there is a special soloist nobody else in the orchestra gets that kind of attention. (Well, except maybe the conductor.)

When most people think about dream jobs in the symphony, they think about the first violinist (or whatever instrument). Nobody dreams about being second violin.

Why is that? Probably because in our society, we want that special attention. We want to walk out onto the stage alone to roaring applause. We want to be the best and be known for it.

Now, there's nothing wrong with being the best at whatever it is you do, but may I make the suggestion that second violin is just as important or maybe *gasp* more important?

Let me explain.

The first violin always gets the melody, or main theme. The second violin usually gets the harmony or supporting theme. Alone, the first violin playing the melody is absolutely beautiful. He executes his melody with precision and skill. When joined by the second violin playing the harmony, a whole new sound is born. The way in which the notes work together is beautiful, regardless of the tune. New feelings are born as they play together in harmony.

So, no matter how good the first violin is, he often sounds better when joined by a second violin complementing his melody.

The wonderful thing about this analogy is that it works with almost everything we do.

The foreman looks better when his workers help him get the job done.
The chef can make amazing creations when his sous chef is working just as hard along side him.
The CEO can accomplish more when he has a great secretary.
The pastor is more efficient when the elders are helping him care for the congregation's needs.
The family is happier when husband and wife work together in harmony.

I know there's more to it than that, but I've been thinking about how much better our world would be if we all weren't competing for that one, first violin position. Not everyone needs to be "top dog". Sure, sometimes the second violin is a thankless job. He doesn't get the applause or the bigger pay check, but he's just as important. The orchestra wouldn't be the same with out him.

Sometimes I feel like some people think less of me because I've chosen to live my life differently than most people. I didn't go to college, I don't have a fancy career, and I'm still not sure what I want to be when I "grow up". I like to hope that I'm playing a beautiful second violin to the people around me though. My tune may not be the melody, but it helps the orchestra, as a whole, sound more full.

Just this week I've been thanked several times for little things that I did. I wasn't looking for attention or special applause. I just wanted to help someone else be better at what they were doing. It made me feel loved and appreciated. It meant more to me than I ever thought it would.

I would like to suggest that you think about the second violins around you and remember to appreciate them for the beautiful harmony they add to our lives.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Kenneth Robert Bailey Jr. 11/30/1957-6/7/2013

The Oregonian wanted an insane amount of money to publish an obituary. Several of my friends have asked that I post it online. This is the only place I can think of that would reach the masses. Thanks again to everyone who has supported my family and I in the last week. I cannot convey enough gratitude to you all! We are completely overwhelmed!


Bailey Jr., Kenneth Robert 55 Nov. 30, 1957 June 07, 2013

Kenneth Robert Bailey Junior passed away on Friday June 7th, 2013 at Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland OR, surrounded by his loving wife, 5 children, mother, pastor, mother-, daughter-, and son-in law. He was the third of six children, born in Kennewick, WA to Kenneth Sr. and Marian Bailey, receiving his name due to his close physical resemblance to his father. After spending a year in Kennewick, then another in Klamath Falls, OR the family followed employment opportunities for Ken Sr’s construction career and settled permanently in Portland OR. Ken attended Bilquist Elementary, Kraxberger Junior High and graduated from Clackamas High School in 1976. He became a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and met his soul mate, Mary Hamlin, in 1979 marrying her 7 months later in April 1980. Over 33 years of marriage, they faithfully raised 5 children, spending 9 years in the Seattle area from 1982 and moving back to Portland, desiring to be close to family, in 1991. Ken spent many years in the manufacturing industry, working in galvanized ducting, then as a machine adjuster for an envelope manufacturer as well as a 4-year hiatus in the then-young computer industry where he had the opportunity to fix the computer of a young CEO, Bill Gates. Prior to his passing he worked for the American Red Cross in hospital services where he was the first recipient of the “I Radiate Pure Awesome” award. Ken was an avid cyclist and formidable racer in his younger years, securing first place in the 1981 Piece of Cake Road Race. He also enjoyed back-packing and hiking, camping, astronomy, dragon boat racing and was the family barista and professional gravy maker. He is survived by loving wife Mary Bailey, his daughters Jessica Banister, Abby and Dianna and sons Kevin and Isaac, mother-in-law Louise Hamada, sister-in-law Laurie Howell & family, as well as parents Kenneth Sr and Marian Bailey and  5 siblings Allen, Duane, Kathryn, Ron and Patty Bigelow in addition to 9 grand-children and dozens of nieces, nephews, extended family and friends. The family would like to extend special thanks to the NTICU nurses Brigid and Carla of Legacy Emanuel Hospital as well as pastors Jeff Seavey and Bruce Ray. A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday June 15th, 2pm at Living Water Community Church in Vancouver, WA. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Living Water Community Church or Juanita Community Church of Kirkland, WA.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Where We Go From "Here"

About 18 months ago my son, Daniel was diagnosed with Asperger's (a social disorder on the Autism Spectrum) as well as Sensory Integration Disorder (a sensory disorder where all his senses are heightened). The process of diagnosis in the medical field was overwhelming and then when school started, we had to go through it all over again. I guess the school district has to do it's own diagnosis in order to offer the right services.

At first I was irritated about that, until I realized how in-depth their diagnosis process is. There was a team of 8 people taking a special interest in my child over a number of months. They had interviews with him, they played with him, observed him and even interviewed his teachers and me.

In the end, the school diagnosed him with High-Functioning Autism. Which is a little bit different than Asperger's, but it still falls on the "Spectrum".

After all that diagnosing, I asked myself and the docs/specialists, "Now what?"

The doctor and the Autsim Specialist at the school both suggested that the first thing I do is read as much about it as I can. Normally I love to read, but some of the literature on Autism is bone dry. However I did find a couple diamonds in the ruff.

My personal favorite is a book called "Look Me In The Eye" by John Elder Robinson. He writes about what it's like to grow up with Asperger's. Not only is it entertaining (he was a very mischievous boy), but it gives me an insight into life as Daniel sees it. It's interesting to read about a social situation from the Autistic perspective. He approaches everything (and I do mean EVERYTHING) with a very logical mindset. Even when it came to picking a mate. Little nuances such as sarcasm and humor are completely lost on him. Things that we find funny, he doesn't understand, but he will laugh at things that aren't funny at all to us. 

The thing that I have most appreciated about his perspective is his explanation of his logic. Once he explains it, it makes perfect sense and there's nothing rude in his intentions. His writing has helped me along to understanding Daniel.

Mr. Robinson wrote a chapter about what calms him that was particularly eye-opening. People with an ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) often can't stop moving. Whether it's tapping, flapping, waving, shaking, bouncing or shimmying they are almost always moving. They don't always know they're doing it and they can't always control it. Especially when they're excited. He talks about how calming it is when his wife "pets" him. He said that she will just rub his arm, leg, back or hand and he can stop the fidgeting right away.

I discovered this about Daniel a few months ago too. He was being really distracting during church (as usual) and I was desperate to find a way to make him sit still. I had him sit on my lap and I started scratching his back. Immediately he stopped any movement. I was amazed! I stopped scratching and right away he started moving again. It was like a little switch! Now he sits on my lap nearly every Sunday morning. (He's getting a little big though...)

I also recently joined a parent support group through the school district. I wasn't really sure how it was going to help, but I found that it was like a breath of fresh air to sit in a room and talk about behavioral communication with other parents who know what I'm going through. I can't wait until our next meeting.

My little sunbathing beauty!

Living with an ASD isn't very fun sometimes, and I've had to drastically change my parenting techniques with Daniel. He's an amazing little boy though and it's fun to watch him grow and develop in his own special way. His teachers are very helpful in coming up with new ways to teach him what he needs to learn and I'm very thankful for their insight. I have found people very accommodating everywhere he's gone. I only hope I can stay one step ahead of him!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

We left the castle bright and early for our long drive into Dublin. We had a flight to catch, but we also had a few last minute shopping stops we had to make. We parked the car and took a bus into the city so I didn’t have to drive with all the crazy city drivers. We got our shopping done in record time and had a quick lunch before heading back to return our rental car.
A common sight while driving in Ireland.

When we got to the rental car place, we had to repack again because of our newly acquired items, but packing is in my blood so it was pretty easy to make everything fit and weigh what it was supposed to. The dude who drove the shuttle back  to the airport was nutty! We hung on for dear life and thanked the Lord we arrived in one piece.

After checking in, we had one last domestic pint of Guinness before our plane took off. No celebrity sightings this time, but the flight was comfortable and smooth.

We arrived in London in good time and didn’t have to go through immigration so we were swimming in time! We dropped our stuff at the hotel and went into the city for some grub.

We remembered the amazing fish and chips we’d had at a pub right on the Westminster Bridge so we hit that for one last fish and chips meal. After dinner we caught the tube up to Trafalger Square and walked down the Mall with all the lamps lit. Around Buckingham Palace and a short jaunt through Hyde Park later, we were ready to head back to the hotel.

I’m sitting in a crowded terminal at Heathrow International Airport waiting for our delayed flight. It’s hard to not be annoyed because I’m looking forward to getting home. Since our flight was delayed here, we might not make the flight from Vancouver to Portland, but I’m staying optimistic. We’ll probably have to run, but I’m hoping we make it.

This trip has been amazing and we’re already thinking about bringing the boys back someday. There is so much we didn’t see and we think another trip is in order! First thing’s first though… let’s get home!

Rope Bridge and The Walled City

We woke up early(ish) the next morning to get a running start on our day. Our first stop was the Rope Bridge that we’d missed out on the day before. We arrived to freezing temps and strong winds, but that didn’t detour us from walking across a very wobbly rope bridge that was suspended over a several hundred foot drop to the rolling sea below! I thought it was thrilling! If we didn’t have to wait in line so long and if we didn’t have other things on our agenda that day I’d have stayed there a long time and just gone back and forth over the bridge.

Alas, we had to hike back to the car and bust it to the town of Derry (or Londonderry as the non-locals call it). Our stay at the castle came with a tour of the only completely walled city in Ireland. Our tour guide was very charming and entertaining. The tour was well done and we learned even more about the political unrest in the country. It’s amazing that there’s still a huge division between the Catholics and the protestants in the country. I don’t really get that whole thing, but then I guess old grudges really do run deep.
The wall around Derry.
We headed back to the castle for our fancy dinner and we were not disappointed! We each had chicken, something we’d not eaten in over two weeks! It was stuffed and wrapped in bacon and dipped in gravy. What’s not to like, right? We got a bottle of wine and dessert included in our dinner too. I think the funniest part of dinner was the appetizer (also included). I ordered their beef chili. Now, you’d think that beef chili would come in a bowl… not so much. They brought me a plate with tortilla chips, covered in chili and other nacho toppings. It was good, a little strange, but good. Apparently they don’t have a very large representation of Mexican people… the salsa that topped my plate of “nachos” was Pace.

I took my Bailey’s cheesecake to go because I was so full and we rolled ourselves up to our room and made an effort to repack our stuff before our departure from Ireland the next day.

Donegal Castle and the Giants Causeway

The Sandhouse Hotel is a pretty nice place to be. The breakfast is pretty nice because we sit in a dining room that overlooks the beach. They serve you on fancy china too. My fruit bowl was on a pedestal!

After our first breakfast here we went to the Donegal Castle. The coolest thing about that castle was the “bathroom”. It was a fairly large room with a wooden bench along one wall. The bench had a butt-sized hole in it. They said there was a shoot that went to a hole underground. It made both of us laugh… the first indoor plumbing!!

We spent most of the rest of the day relaxing. It was sort of a nasty day anyhow and we didn’t really feel like going out on the beach and getting wet and cold. It was nice to just hang out. We spend a good chunk of our afternoon sitting in front of our window watching a surfing class. We couldn’t believe that these crazy people would put on a wetsuit that went from head to toe and try and surf in the rain in freezing cold water. It was also very fun to watch them wipe out!

We woke early the next morning and left for Northern Ireland. We had a couple of things we wanted to do before we checked into our castle.

Our first stop was the Bushmills Distillery. I’m not really a fan of whiskey, but the tour was very interesting. Apparently Bushmills is the oldest licensed distillery in the world! They are also the only distillery in Ireland that does the entire process on the premises. I was happy that we skipped the Jameson Distillery in Dublin in favor of this one. As we went through the bottling rooms, she explained that they bottle Jameson’s whiskey for them! The barrels they use for some of their whiskey come from the US. They use second hand barrels from Kentucky because it gives their whiskey a unique character.

Of course, the tour came with a free drink. Even though I don’t care for whiskey, I have to admit that it was very nice. We opted for a taste of the 12 year, triple distilled, single malt whiskey. You can only find that at their distillery, they don’t sell it anywhere else in the world.

After the distillery tour we drove a few minutes to the Giants Causeway. It was a nasty day and since we were at the beach it was also very windy. You can imagine the lovely sideways rain we experienced. That part was a little disappointing, but we made the best of it. I took lots of pictures and I hope to frame a couple of them.

We wanted to go to the rope bridge too, but they were closing so we just headed to the castle.

Dungiven Castle was the big finale to our trip. I have to admit that I was a little bit underwhelmed. The outside of the castle was cool, but once we got inside we realized it had been completely rebuilt. It was still nice though. High ceilings, tapestries, suits of armor and candelabras  made the modern surroundings seem a little more old world. It was also a little bit frustrating that even though we were the only guests staying there, they put us in their smallest room.

Despite being in cramped quarters, we enjoyed our stay. It was nice to have a shower that actually had good water pressure… something we’d been lacking since entering Ireland. The bed was also the softest bed I’ve ever slept in! I’m still not completely sure it was worth what we paid, but it was comfortable.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Leaving Glocca Morra and Heading North

Monday was our last night at Glocca Morra. So Tuesday morning we packed our bags, ate another lovely breakfast and said our good­bye’s to our wonderful host, Michael.

We had a LONG drive up through western Ireland to get to our next hotel. We stopped along the way in the city of Galway. We were overwhelmed by traffic as we entered the city so we parked and walked through the streets. Galway was a lot like Dublin… very Americanized, but you still can find a unique Irish shop here and there. We decided we needed another CD to listen to since we’d been listening to the same one for days. The music shop was fun to explore and I got chatted up by an older gentleman I could barely understand. At least he was friendly.

After eating seafood for over a week, I told Eric I wanted some good old pizza. We found a Papa John’s in the city square that was just opening for lunch. We enjoyed our nice American chicken BBQ pizza with a couple of Cokes!

When we were finished with lunch we decided we’d had enough of the city of Galway. We found our way out of town and headed north to The Sandhouse Hotel.

The Sandhouse hotel was built in the 1960’s and is located just south of Donegal. It’s built to look like a luxury hotel from the early 1900’s and it’s just oozing character! Since it’s located right on the beach, it attracts vacationing locals. Our room is huge and features a lovely four-poster bed and a sitting area that overlooks the ocean.

After we checked in, we found a laundry place and a grocery store. We ate dinner in our room and went for a COLD walk on the beach. We warmed up with a couple of pints of Guinness in the sitting area downstairs before turning in early. Vacation is all about rest right? ; )