Monthly Archives: August 2012

My Top 5 Inspirations

I’ve been spending a few hours now trying to figure out what to write in my blog today, but it seems as though nothing I write comes out the way I want. On the contrary, everything takes on such a negative tone! I’ve decided that I am going to give in to my currently negative tendencies and see where they take me.

The truth is, the past few days have not been the greatest for me. Several directions that I have been wanting to go with my life have suddenly been closed off to me. I understand that everyone runs into these closed doors at some point, but that doesn’t make it any easier. About the best I can do is look for something that will inspire and motivate me to keep dreaming and searching for that open door.

Inspiration can come from many sources. However, my main sources are as follows:

  1. Other people
  2. The Internet
  3. Books
  4. Movies
  5. The Texas Tenors

Now, the first four are pretty self-explanatory. Still, I would like to give you an example of each.

Other People. Obviously, other people from Neil Armstrong to people I know that have battled and won against cancer can be very inspiring. For instance, there is a girl I work with that is going through a very difficult time right now. I’m not going to go into any details about it, but she has spent the last week in the hospital with a family member. If I were in her situation, I don’t know how I would still be able to get up in the morning. Yet, when I visited her on Saturday, she was still holding her chin up and cracking jokes. Amazing! I want to be that kind of person.

The Internet.  Facebook. YouTube. Google. There’s so many stories, pictures, etc. out there, that you can find just about anything. For instance, I came across the following video on YouTube:

Books. One of my favorite authors is Jodi Picoult. All of her books have an underlying, inspirational purpose. I recently read her book entitled House Rules. This book was about a single mother of two children. One of the children (Jacob) happened to have Asperger’s Syndrome. As if it wasn’t difficult enough to raise them by herself with very little support (monetarily or otherwise), Jacob became a primary suspect of murdering one of the few people he looked up to and could communicate with. Her struggle and perseverance remind me that no matter how bad it seems, there is always hope. It also reminds me that there is always going to be someone out there that is in a worse situation, so I know that I can make it through.

Movies. This is especially true for Disney movies. For some reason, there’s nothing like a classical Disney movie to get you moving. One of my favorites is Mulan. This is the story of a girl who was a disgrace to her family, but in the end, she ended up saving her entire country after going to war in place of her father. I love this clip from the movie:

The best part of this clip, however, is the music. Music in general is very inspirational for me, especially when the lyrics really seem to hit home. Which brings me to my last source of inspiration.

The Texas Tenors. This group has accomplished the impossible by rising through the ranks of America’s Got Talent to become the great success they are today. Of course, that success didn’t happen overnight, and there have been and always will be obstacles in their way.

One such obstacle is the negativity of others. There happens to be a critic named Michael Ross that has been against them ever since AGT. I don’t know why, and I can’t figure out why he won’t put an end to his ignorant (and yearly) remarks about The Texas Tenors. He hasn’t (most likely) seen them since they were on America’s Got Talent. Even though they were amazing on the show, they have improved by leaps and bounds since then. Their current status can’t even possibly be compared to when they were on AGT. Why even bother, three years later, to keep bringing them up?

I believe the answer is because he gets a rise out of fans of The Texas Tenors. Last year, there was a large group of us that responded to his remarks by “telling him off”. We told him why he was wrong, that The Texas Tenors were fantastic, and that he needed to find someone else to pick on. Well, a year later, he picked on The Texas Tenors again. Just like last year, an army of fans responded to him, giving him exactly what he wants: attention. It seems as though we are starting a vicious yearly cycle. Yes, I am well aware that by posting this blog, I’m giving him even more power, but I’m willing to make the sacrifice.

Personally, I see any attack against The Texas Tenors as an attack against me because I believe in them so strongly. They are one of the best things that has ever happened to me, and they will always inspire me to strive to be a better person and unlock that hidden opportunity.

Even though I have felt down all weekend, I am finally starting to look up again. Why? For one thing, I just got done watching The Texas Tenors’ DVD. Where else can I hear my favorite songs and see my favorite trio perform? Tonight, however, two songs really hit me. These have always been my favorite songs of theirs, but they hold special meanings for me right now: “The Climb” and “You Should Dream”.

“The Climb” is very relevant to my current situation. Just listening to them sing it makes me want to break down and cry because it hits exactly on how I feel.

Every step I’m taking
Every move I make feels
Lost with no direction
My faith is shaking
But I gotta keep trying
Gotta keep my head held high

Every step I’m taking
Every move I make feels
Lost with no direction
My faith is shaking
But I gotta keep trying
Gotta keep my head held high

Then there is “You Should Dream”. That is such a powerful song. I don’t know if I have the words exactly right, but I know they are at least close:

Tell me who hasn’t felt lost when you’re not where you thought you ought to be

Tell me who hasn’t felt discouraged by their reality

Tell me who hasn’t walked a thousand miles just to find they’ve gone the wrong way

Tell me who hasn’t thought tomorrow was just another day

But I’m telling you

The tide is gonna turn

The doors will open when you finally learn

You should dream

Let the voice inside you sing

You should dream

Let your wishes take wing

Close your eyes, feel your heart’s desire

hold on tight and set the world on fire

Be the living reason for all to see

You should dream

Need I say more than that? I know that, even though things seem hopeless right now, there is an end around the corner. I just need to hold my head high, keep dreaming, and keep searching for the better future that I know is ahead.

Now it is your turn. What inspires you?

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Posted by on August 27, 2012 in Music


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Original versions of songs are always the best, right?

Today marked the last day of the Iowa State Fair. Unfortunately, I was unable to make it to the fair at all this year. In fact, this is about the first time in several years that I wasn’t able to go. It’s not as though the fair really interests me. I don’t particularly care for all of the greasy, fried food that everyone else likes.

The horse stables and tractors hold no interest for me.

Neither do the exhibits and butter cow.

The only part of the fair I would actually like to go to is Midway (with all of its rides), but it is also really expensive as far as I’m concerned.

However, this year, there was another aspect to the fair that I was extremely interested in going to: the Rascal Flatts concert at the Grandstand that was scheduled for tonight.

Rascal Flatts, courtesy of

Rascal Flatts is easily one of my favorite bands. They have decent voices, their music is good, and their song lyrics really hit me. I’ve listened to their CDs so often that I know all of their songs by memory.

Fortunately, one of my best friends, who also happens to be named Sarah, loves Rascal Flatts as well. That is how we ended up driving to Bettendorf, IA last year to see a Rascal Flatts concert.

My friend Sarah and me

The concert was wonderful, despite the fact that it was extremely loud, we had awful seats, and we were surrounded by dancing drunks. I would have loved to have had the opportunity to see them perform again at the fair. It just didn’t happen.

At the Rascal Flatts concert

Instead, I get the pleasure of hearing my favorite Rascal Flatts song (“Bless the Broken Road”) performed quite often by one of my favorite singers: Marcus Collins of The Texas Tenors. Even though I absolutely love the Rascal Flatts version of the song, I love the Marcus Collins version ten times more. Is that normal? Typically, the original version is always the best. Not in this case though! Now, whenever I hear another version of “Bless the Broken Road”, my mind automatically changes the voice so it is hearing Marcus singing. Don’t ask me how that works. It just does!

I’m not going to say that Marcus Collins is better than Rascal Flatts, especially when Rascal Flatts is such a well-known and loved group. Instead, I’m going to let YOU decide. Listen to the following videos of Marcus and Rascal Flatts singing “Bless the Broken Road”, and let me know what you think!

My vote is for Marcus. Who do you think sings it better?


Posted by on August 20, 2012 in Music


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Well, it’s finally the weekend. As I look forward to the upcoming week, I also find myself looking back. It seems as though there have been a plethora of postings on Facebook lately with inspirational quotes and sayings meant to keep people looking toward the future and living in the present. For instance, I find myself dwelling on one such posting made by a friend of mine:

“Learn to appreciate what you have before time makes you appreciate what you had.” ~Anonymous

Today, I have spent a lot of time reminiscing about my high school marching band days. This could be due to the fact that I keep hearing people talk about marching band camp and looking forward to the upcoming season. Or it could be partially due to the picture I came across on Facebook that combines two of my interests: kittens and the Phantom of the Opera.

You see, during my sophomore year of high school, my high school marching band (The Pella Marching Dutch) performed Phantom of the Opera. Our performance, in my severely biased opinion, was nothing short of outstanding. I’ve always been extremely proud of my marching band days, but this performance takes the cake. For those of you that are interested, you can view our performance here:

My favorite part of the entire performance is right at the end (around the 8:00 mark in the video). Our band worked tirelessly to perfect that part, and we never quite got it right. Until that performance, when it was near perfect. It also happened to be the last competition for my band director as he decided to retire that year. Talk about amazing! It gives me goosebumps every time I watch it!

Ever since, I have been completely obsessed with Phantom of the Opera music. It definitely ranks up there in my all-time favorite music list. Aside from owning the CD (which my college roommate and I spent several roadtrips listening to–even meowing along with the songs at one point!) and movie, I’ve even been to several live performances of it, including one at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London.

Her Majesty’s Theatre during the day

A close-up

At night

Imagine my delight when I got to Planet Hollywood in October 2009 and heard Marcus Collins and Barbara Padilla sing “All I Ask of You” as a duet! Can you think of anything better? I can’t!

Marcus and Barbara, courtesy of

I had flown out to Vegas with my mom and Aunt Lynda, and my cousin Jeremiah came from Arizona to meet us there. It was Halloween, so we got the pleasure of seeing some people dressed up in very strange costumes…

People walking into our hotel

At the actual performance, we were fortunate enough to be seated at the tables up front. There were three runners jutting out from the stage: one on the left and right, and one in the center. I was sitting just to the left of the center one, so that when Marcus came out on it, I had to turn backward in my seat. I could have reached out and touched him if I wanted to! Could it possibly get any better than that?

The answer is: yes. Three years ago, I never could have imagined that I would eventually get to the point that I could call The Texas Tenors my friends. In fact, I never expected I would see them again. How ironic is it that the first (and last) time I see the show America’s Got Talent, I fall in love with a group that becomes such a major part of my life? Just imagine if I hadn’t happened to tune into the show at that point! Would I have ever discovered them? Who knows?!

I also could never have imagined that I would hear my new favorite group sing a song that brings back as many memories as “Music of the Night”. Those of you that watched the video I posted earlier know that my favorite part at the end was during “Music of the Night”, so that song definitely carries some heavy emotions with it for me. Therefore, it came as no surprise when I practically bawled the first time I heard The Texas Tenors’ arrangement. It was absolutely beautiful–much better than any of the other performances I’d ever heard!!!

A friend of mine (who also is a Tenor fan) texted me recently talking about how things have changed for her so much in the past year, and she can attribute her better state of mind partially to The Texas Tenors. I can’t even begin to explain how or why, but I know that is a true statement for many of their fans, including me. They say in their show that they are “on the ride of their life”. They are enjoying every moment and excited to see what the future has in store for them. I am determined to appreciate them for as long as they are around (which will hopefully be a very long time), and no matter what, I will always be grateful for the experiences I have had as a fan of The Texas Tenors.


Posted by on August 19, 2012 in Music


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Billboards, Rack Cards, and Anticipation

I’m starting to get really excited for The Texas Tenors’ return to Branson. The anticipation keeps building up, from the excited exchanges of the other fans to seeing pictures of the new billboards posted on Facebook.

Courtesy of Cheryl Stauffer

Courtesy of Cheryl Stauffer

Perhaps the most exciting part for me, however, is the thought of introducing more people to The Texas Tenors. Getting people to their shows seems to be the hard part. Once they get to it, they can’t help but enjoy the music (and the view). Fortunately, my mom and I have been doing some recruiting of our own recently.

Yesterday, my mom went to the Iowa State Fair (go to for more information) with a lady from our church and a friend of hers. There’s nothing like a 1,350 pound pig and any kind of food on a stick (double bacon corn dog or fried butter on a stick anyone?) you could possibly imagine to persuade people to go to Branson with you. Never mind the fact that my mom is very persuasive when it comes to The Texas Tenors. Needless to say, they are both planning on driving down to Branson with us on September 14th for the weekend. Having never even heard of The Texas Tenors before, they are so anxious to see the singers my mom can’t stop talking about. I am almost certain that after that weekend, they will want to keep going back for more concerts.

Horses at Iowa State Fair courtesy of Beth Van Elsen

Courtesy of Beth Van Elsen

“Tenor Fever” (or the sudden desire to keep going to concerts of The Texas Tenors) seems to be highly contagious. For instance, Kathy, a fan from Des Moines, had only been to a few of their concerts before seeing them in May. Then, in May, she went to two concerts in two days, and she would have gone to a third if she hadn’t had to go home. Since then, she’s gone to 3 or 4 additional concerts and has plans for quite a few more in the near future. Believe me, she’s not the only one!

For my own part, I did some heavy promoting while I was at work today. I was cleaning out one of the exam rooms when I heard a client in the waiting room talking to the receptionist about her upcoming trip to Branson on September 9. When asked how long she would be in Branson, she said 4 or 5 days. Since The Texas Tenors are back starting September 12, I became determined to try to get her to go to their show.

Once I finished cleaning the room, I brought her in. While I was taking her dog’s vital signs, I casually chatted with her about Branson. When I found out she’d never been to a show there before and still didn’t have any clue which shows she was going to, I automatically suggested The Texas Tenors. I don’t think she had ever heard of them before, but she sure has now! I decided to send her with some information about them. Go figure, this was about the only time that I didn’t have one of their rack cards in my purse. I settled for writing all of the information on a blank piece of paper and handing it to her on her way out the door with her promise to check into it.

Those of you that know me also know that I am extremely quiet and shy. I would NEVER do something that bold under normal circumstances. In fact, I’m still surprised that I actually did that! I don’t know what it is about The Texas Tenors, but they bring out a side of me that doesn’t come out any other time. Whenever I’m around them or their fans, I’m confident, outgoing, and excited. I’m not afraid to go up to complete strangers and talk to them, whereas normally I’m scared to death about even picking up the phone!

I think the reason that I’m a completely different person is because I believe in them. I’ve always loved music, but I’ve never been so taken with a group like I am now. I just wish that I could transfer that confidence to the rest of my life.

Those of you that are fans of The Texas Tenors, what kinds of things have you done to promote them to others? How have they changed your life?

Those of you that haven’t seen them before, now’s the time to plan a trip to Branson! You can call the Starlite Theatre ( at 417-337-9333 to purchase tickets today. Or check out the full concert schedule at!

By the way, the rack cards that I mentioned not having in my purse? Maybe I should borrow some from this person!


Posted by on August 16, 2012 in Music, Travel


The Bumps in the Road

I mentioned in my last post that I was thankful for all of the friendships that I have made thanks to The Texas Tenors. It is true that we have become one big family. I always have fun when I am with other Tenor fans, even when there is no Tenor concert for us to attend.

This is how I came to be in Keokuk, IA this past weekend with Judy, Dave, Jeanette, Sabra, and my mom–other fans. You see, there are absolutely no Tenor concerts nearby (unless we want to drive to New York) during the whole month of August. As a result, we are all suffering from major withdrawal. The group of us had so much fun together a few weeks ago when we drove to North Carolina that we decided to get together in August to have some fun without a Tenor concert. I suppose you could consider it our therapy session too.

Originally, we were planning on meeting in Keokuk next Saturday, August 18. Judy and Dave are from St. Louis, MO, Jeanette from Bettendorf, IA, Sabra from Cedar Rapids, IA, and my mom and I from Newton, IA. Keokuk is basically in the middle for all of us. However, Friday morning, I stopped at the Newton clinic on my way to the Bondurant clinic to see if I could take off next Friday. Instead, I discovered that I would without a doubt be working on the 18th. Saddened and crushed, I called my mom with the news that we wouldn’t be able to go to Keokuk with our friends. At that point, I came up with a brilliant idea and immediately called Judy and Jeanette. By the time I got to work 20 minutes later, we had set up a plan to meet in Keokuk that day instead.

After getting off work an hour early, I rushed home, packed in about 10 minutes, and then we took off. What does it say for us when 5 different people can spontaneously decide to go on a trip for the weekend like that? We must need more exciting lives!!!

All of us got to Keokuk at about the same time and decided to have dinner at Pizza Hut. Not exactly unique, but it worked. The worst part was trying to cram everyone in my car to drive to the restaurant. I drive a Chevy Impala which, even though it is considered a sedan, does not have the roomiest backseat. Thank goodness I was driving and didn’t have to squeeze back there. Instead, I had to move my seat forward until I was practically driving with my elbows! I’m not sure which option was really the best. After leaving my pizza box on the dashboard of my car to bake for the next day, we went back to the hotel and talked until we fell asleep.

The fun part of the weekend came on Saturday after we all met in the breakfast area of the hotel in the morning.

We got a surprise phone call from Sabra saying that she was on her way home to Cedar Rapids from Branson, and she wanted to stop in to see us. It was so good to see her! After chatting some more (we Tenor fans really know how to chat!), we finally decided to find something to eat. Sabra wanted to continue driving home, so we said goodbye and headed to the Hawkeye Restaurant. We couldn’t figure out if we were eating linner or lupper. What do you think sounds better? My vote is lupper, but Jeanette seems to think that sounds like leper. Hmm…

We were apparently too wild for that restaurant. It was so quiet in there, and all we wanted to do was laugh. It didn’t help that one of the first items we saw on the menu was a propane tank! I’m still not sure what that really was.

After that, we once again crammed into my car to go for a drive. There really isn’t all that much to see in Keokuk, so we ended up crossing the river into Illinois and heading to the town of Nauvoo. To me, that sounds more like a planet from Star Wars than a town in Illinois, but it certainly proved to be an interesting place to stop. It turns out that Nauvoo is a historic community that offers a temple for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (aka Mormons). Visit to find out more about this community!

We drove around the town for awhile until Judy decided she wanted to stop at the bakery. Just as we pulled up, parked, and piled out, we noticed that there was a group of people coming out of the tiny building munching on cookies (or half-cookies, according to Judy). Then we realized it was a tour of what used to be a bakery, not an operational bakery. While contemplating cramming back into the car, a lady in a long dress with beads around her neck came up to us and asked what we were doing. Awkwardly, we said we were trying to decide that and walked down the sidewalk a bit.

The bakery, courtesy of

Then Dave realized that he left his window all the way down in the locked car, so he and my mom went back to guard the car. Jeanette, Judy, and I continued on past the little outhouses to the Family Living Center. We peered in the window and were scared by another lady in a dress standing right there. Laughing hysterically, we started back up the path to the car. Of course, we had to stop and pet the fuzzy plants right next to the path first! I’m not kidding, they really were fuzzy. Imagine seeing three adult women standing on the sidewalk, leaning over, and petting the plants. How odd! I hope they weren’t poisonous…

The adventure picked up with us driving back to Keokuk without any bakery goods. I realized that the bumpy streets of Nauvoo and the curves between Nauvoo and Keokuk made the ride very uncomfortable for those in the backseat. The evil Sarah came out then as I started speeding up around the curves and searching for the roads with the most potholes.

This got even better when we opted to tour the National Cemetery–one of the few things to do in Keokuk. My mom is a huge Civil War buff, and the cemetery is a Union cemetery. However, what she really wanted to see was the Confederate statue that she learned was there. The cemetery has quite an interesting history behind it. Go to to learn more.

Judy, Jeanette, and Dave can attest to the fact that the roads in that cemetery were the bumpiest yet, and they got the pleasure of experiencing them over and over and over again. After about the fourth time around, we found a different direction to go where I wasn’t slamming the brakes on for squirrels crossing my path. We finally found our statue.

Courtesy of Jeanette Allison-Glaser

Finally satisfied, we went back to the hotel. At this point, we prepared for our 8:00 concert of The Texas Tenors. Actually, we were just watching their concert DVD on Jeanette’s laptop, but it’s close enough. Just don’t tell Marcus–I’m pretty sure we had him worried for a minute when we said we were excited for the concert. He said it must be The Texas Tenors tribute band that’s now touring. Can you believe they were just as good as the real Texas Tenors?

The rest of the night was spent playing the hilarious board game Imaginiff. If you’ve never played it, definitely check it out sometime ( We were all laughing so hard we were in tears at times. I think this game is going to become a must anytime we get together in the future. Here are some of the things we discovered while playing this game:

  • If Jeanette were an insect, she would be a louse (actually a firefly, but I really wanted to pick that one)
  • If Judy were a wheel, she would be a hamster wheel because she kept going around in circles in Nashville on her trip to North Carolina to see The Texas Tenors a few weeks ago.
  • When Helen has an impatient driver behind her, she likes to wink and lick the window (we had to call and tell her that one).
  • If Mom were a parcel, she would say “This Side Up”.
  • Mom is also the item in the vending machine that is still stuck.
  • I am a shrub.
  • And much more!

To make a long story short (even though I literally just wrote a novel), we had a blast this last weekend. I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard in a long time (or at least since we went to North Carolina). We’ve decided that whenever we have a month in the future with no concerts, we will have to add Keokuk to our schedule. It definitely broke up the monotony of Tenorless weeks. Plus, it was so good to see some of my newest (and best) friends. Only 4 more weeks until the concert in Godfrey, IL!!!


Posted by on August 14, 2012 in Music, Travel


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Hello world!

It’s Monday. Like everyone else in the world, I hate Mondays. This week, however, the reason isn’t because I had to go back to work today. In fact, I had the day off! Instead, this Monday marks the end of a fun and exciting (but Tenorless) weekend.

For those of you that don’t know, I am a huge fan of the music group The Texas Tenors. To date, I have seen 38 of their concerts and traveled over 30,800 miles to see them all around the country. Right about now, you are probably thinking I’m more obsessed than anything. The truth is, The Texas Tenors and their fans have become such a huge part of my life that I don’t know what I would do without them! How does someone become so involved with a music group? Honestly, I have no idea. It just happened. My mom and I became engrossed in the tv show America’s Got Talent in 2009 (the only season we have ever watched). It just so happened that this was the season The Texas Tenors were on. We fell in love with them after hearing John Hagen belt out his long note during “Mountain Music”. It became obvious that these were three talented cowboys.

We gave them our support for the entire season, and after they took 4th place, they went out to Las Vegas to perform for America’s Got Talent Live at Planet Hollywood. Thinking it would be our only opportunity to see them, we flew out to Las Vegas over Halloween. Their portion of the show was spectacular, but meeting them afterwards was the best part. That is when I discovered John used to teach at Wartburg College, which is where I was a junior at that time. It was an instant connection.

Me with the sign from the show.

After we fell in love in Las Vegas, we didn’t hesitate to drive to Valparaiso, Indiana, a few months later to see them perform for a Christmas concert. We’ve been going to concerts ever since!

At this point, The Texas Tenors are more than three singing cowboys onstage. They are my friends. John Hagen, Marcus Collins, and JC Fisher are three of the greatest guys you could ever hope to meet. I cherish every minute I have with them and am always looking forward to the next. They genuinely care about every single fan, and they make a conscious effort to get to know everyone.

One of my favorite parts of following The Texas Tenors is that they have some of the best fans ever. Last October, my mom and I partnered up with Cheryl Stauffer to plan a fan event in Branson. Ever since, their biggest fans have bonded. We go to concerts together, eat together, and laugh together. We even get to hang out with the Tenors together!

A group of fans with Marcus and John at Andy’s Custard.

The Texas Tenors and their fans have been such an inspiration for me. Their music is wonderful. I’m thoroughly convinced that they could sing “I’m a Little Teapot” and make it sound good. However, they are more than the music. They have such passion and emotion that they put into their songs. Their songs tug at your heartstrings no matter how many times you hear them. Their original song, “You Should Dream”, by Dana Lamb, has motivated me to think the unthinkable, believe in myself, and attempt to “set the world on fire”. My goal is to promote their message and make sure people everywhere have the opportunity to know the group that is so near and dear to my heart: The Texas Tenors. If you haven’t already, be sure to check them out on Facebook or their website ( You won’t be disappointed!

After a concert in Grand Junction, CO, with the guys.


Posted by on August 13, 2012 in Music


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