Wednesday, September 10, 2014

"Hiking Hoodoos!"


Hiking Hoodoos!


Up until last week, I didn't know what a Hoodoo was -- nor did I imagined I would be hiking the hoodoos in Bryce Canyon!

Hoodoos - Bryce Canyon (photo by Kathie Gautille)

Look like chess pieces to me,
 but they are actually
Hoodoos in Bryce Canyon

(photo by Kathie Gautille)
From a distance these incredibly odd rock formations look like chess pieces. 

I have come to learn that a pinnacle left standing by the forces of erosion is a "hoodoo"! Hiking the Hoodoos in Bryce Canyon was awe-inspiring. It was a bit nerve-racking too! These beautiful, yet bizarre rock spires or "hoodoos" -- well let me just say it went against my sense of physics that the rock that sat upon a narrow body of rock wouldn't just tumble down and crush us. But they didn't--and they were magnificent! Our pictures and video really don't do them justice! 

My husband and I took a week's vacation to Utah and Arizona to hike and communion with nature at the national treasures of the canyons...from Zion, Bryce to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and several smaller parks in between. 

Pictured in this blog entry is Bryce Canyon.
My favorite National Park, but I must say...and I loved all of them...all for different reasons!


The top of Wall Street Trail
...our reward was Thor's Hammer! 

(photo by Kathie Gautille)

Natural Bridge - Bryce Canyon
(photo by Kathie Gautille)

While at Bryce I met my first "Dark Ranger"!  Bryce Canyon is one of the darkest places in the country to view stars.  Three times a week throughout the summer and into the fall Bryce Canyon's "Dark Rangers" celebrate the beautiful night sky by hosting an hour multi-media presentation in the lodge.  Following the presentation everyone drives out to the visitors center area and the Dark Rangers have 5-7 large telescopes set up outside positioned to enjoy the starry night sky! Each telescope was fixed on a different aspect of the night sky!  I don't think I have ever seen so many stars in my life!  And seeing the moon surface and the Milky Way up close added to the enjoyment of true stargazing! 


I didn't take this picture--credit goes to Alex Cherney from Australia.
But this IS what we saw--an incredible starry night!
Joe at the top of Fairyland Loop (photo by Kathie Gautille)

One of the more rigorous trails we hiked was Wall Street.

In the middle -- between these walls of stone 

grew this 
tree! 
(photo by Kathie Gautille)

Joe was the videographer 




We stopped long enough to really enjoy nature -- from the flowers and canyons (photo by Kathie Gautille)



(photo by Kathie Gautille)

...to the deer, pronghorn, chipmunks, squirrels, and mountain goats!
(photo by Kathie Gautille)


There was no Wi-Fi in the canyons, but I promise we found a better connection! 
Throughout our trip, Joe and I often had to stop and ask ourselves...when people see this incredible beauty...how can anyone not believe in God?

Me on top of Fairyland Loop
(photo by Kathie Gautille)



"The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament proclaims the works of His hands."  ~ Psalm 19


I Lasso the breathtaking beauty of 
God's handiwork!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Defying Gravity Gave Me a New Perspective!


I recently went from watching my two grandsons (now 3 years old and a 1 year old) - to visiting my 84 year old dad.




Both experiences gave me pause to consider the fact that I may possibly have 20-30+ years ahead of me in this season of my life.  

I observed that it requires patience and stamina to care for toddlers. 
It requires patience and stamina as one grows older.  Getting old robs one's body of strength and  sharpness.  
This first hand account gave me a stronger resolve to keep in shape.

I also realized that I am at a point in my life where I am discerning my next project, or job, or volunteer opportunity.  I have been seriously wrestling with a few ideas and possible business opportunities -- some of which are coming into better focus for me. But, truthfully, it's kind of scary to completely change course from what you are comfortable with or work you have done most of your adult life and start over.  
I know myself very well.
I know how hard I work.
I know my personal work ethic can be all consuming.  
I know how much I love personal growth and development.
I know a business takes funding.
I know a business takes time and energy.
I also know how much I love being available for my family. 

While going through all of these gyrations back and forth in my little head a friend of mine told me I needed to read Jon Acuff's book:  START. Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average, Do What Matters.  
Well I first got the Kindle version of this book, but found the Kindle version difficult to highlight. ;)  


So I bought the hardback book--and I am so glad I did.  START. has helped crystalize what's going on in my head.  Mr. Acuff mentions in his book that when we reach the point of making decisions some of us "cue the fog machine" to muddy the decision making "and pretend there's a fog of complexity in the way."  I believe this is where I am.  So, I began struggling with finding the off switch to the fog machine.  

Then a few days ago I was listening to the musical WICKED when I was working out -- okay, I know, strange music to motive you to exercise.  Stick with me, I promise to connect the dots!  Honestly when the song, Defying Gravity was playing, it was as if I was hearing the song for the first time.  I bet I have sung along with that song a million times, but I am not sure I have ever really listened to lyrics of the song.  This time I heard it loud and clear..."It's time to trust my instincts, close my eyes and leap."  


I know people my age are just beginning to think of or starting to look forward to retiring or slowing down--but if I live another 1, 5, 10, 20+ years, is that what I want?  

I also know many people my age are going back to school or starting new careers...they turned their fog machine off and made a decision to go after a dream.

I really envy my son, Adam.  Talk about going after a dream!  Adam has known since he was a sophomore in high school that he wanted to play the trumpet professionally.  

Adam Gautille performing


Adam is a member of Back Bay Brass in Boston
Back Bay Brass, one of Boston's premier chamber music ensembles, 
delivers exciting and virtuosic performances throughout the Greater Boston area.
(Okay, I know, a shameless plug)

He has been playing since he was in 3rd grade and has been following his passion ever since--from college undergrad to grad school, competitions, auditions.  But he did it with his eyes wide open. We explained the competitiveness of the industry, the challenges of making it in the music business.  We also equipped him with great mentors.  Adam sought out great professors to study under, musicians to take lessons from, as well as became astute at networking, and playing as much as possible--lots and lots of "gigging".  

Not to mention the fact that he is an incredible musician and person!  No fog machine for Adam. For him it's the strong desire and belief in himself and his God-given talent that keeps him moving forward. It is his strong work ethic and persistence that will help him grab the brass ring. And HE WILL grab the brass ring!  I can really learn something from Adam's big dream and his tenacity & persistence!  Don't give up on your dream!


As for me and my next venture?  

Well, I am not as afraid any more.  I am blessed to have a deep and profound faith in Christ as a Catholic, so I do fully rely on God.  Also, if I am going to gamble on something...why not gamble on myself, close my eyes and leap?!

I Lasso the courage to defy gravity!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I Wouldn't be Spoiled if Someone would Spank Grandma!


As a Nonna I really made a concerted effort to have the necessary items needed to have our daughter and her little family at our home for an overnight or extended stay.

Over the past three years I have purchased diapers, a stroller, pack and play, bouncy seat, jumpers, high chair, car seats.  I bought some of the items for a great deal off of Craig's List, and some items I bought new, but Joe and I did this so when the kids came to visit, they wouldn't have to shlep so much stuff--hopefully making it easier to visit more often!

But I also love to be able to jump in my Ford Explorer and head down I-35 with my iPod music blasting in the car by myself...listening to the music I want to listen to--for a peaceful 3 hour drive to our daughter's home to help out, see the family, play with the boys.

Our daughter and son in-law recently sold their first home and bought a new home. Moving yourself with two little ones and no family to help is stressful.  So when I received the text message one evening that said, "Can you come down and help me with the move"  and I asked when, her reply was "ASAP"--I was in the car the next morning headed south to help.

My reward for trek was being greeted by Sara and Keegan in the driveway of their new home.  Keegan squealed when I rolled down my window and heard my voice.  He then lunged out of Sara's arms into mine to give me an opened-mouth, slobbery baby kiss!  This is what grandma's call, "PURE JOY"--to have my almost 1 year old grandson recognize me with this sweet expression of love!




I am pretty sure all grandparents fall into "can't spank grandparents" category when it comes to spoiling their grand-babies...I am no exception.




 Whether it is getting "cozy" and watching a new Thomas and Friends video together...




...or building a fort/tunnel and eat lunch in it...







 ...or stay up late with Papa to watch Polar Express...



...or go to the mall to pay a ridiculous amount for a 10 minute ride on the Red Caboose... 



...or purchase another train to add to Landon's enormous train collection



...we do it out of love!  

I Lasso spending time with my grandsons...and love every single minute of it!


Sunday, April 20, 2014

God Gave Me You for the Ups and Downs!



April 27th is my 29th wedding anniversary to my husband Joe.

Marriage is not always easy. 


Marriage is not always exciting.


In fact there are days in our 29 years together that I have wondered,


"What in the world am I doing with this man?"


There are even more days in our 29 years together that I have wondered,


"What does he see in ME to love me so much?"


This video (see link below photos) is dedicated to my husband!

I Lasso through our ups and downs that God gave me you!  
I Lasso loving Joe!


Friday, March 14, 2014

Happy Birthday to my daughter Sara and Happy Birthday to my Daddy! Love you both! Love the memories!

The song to the video is a song that was popular when Sara was born.  I remember trying to get a colicky baby (Sara Kathryn) to stop crying by rocking her while dancing to this song!

Sara. I hope you enjoy the memories!  Love you more! 


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Thursday, October 3, 2013

"A Teacher Affects Eternity; He Can Never Tell Where His Influence Stops." -Henry Adams


Here's to You 

Here's to Me, 

Here's to Alpha Xi!










I just returned from a magnificent weekend in Clarion, PA!  Fall in the Northeast not only consists of lovely cool days, and clear skies, but no one can deny the beauty of the backdrop, the scenery that surrounds us in the Pennsylvania hills and the gradation of color each tree leaf takes on as it is kissed by the sun.


I don't know how I can put into words the overwhelming feeling of love I have for each of these women--women, up until a year ago I had not seen in decades...yet from the moment one squeal of joy is sounded by greeting one another...and the memories pour out throughout the weekend, I realize...part of this overwhelming love comes from the fact that these are the women I truly really grew up with...discovering myself, my gifts, my flaws, and each of us having a great deal of respect for one another.




I discovered three years ago that my sorority sisters had been gathering the week before homecoming for about 20 years!  It happened that a sorority sister took a composite picture and ran through maiden names on Facebook...that's where I discovered the reunion.

You can say what you will about social media...I personally love Dave Ramsey's perspective on social media..."Don't compare your everyday life to someone else's highlight reel."  This is true for all aspects of life...you just see more of it on Facebook, Instagram...keep everything in perspective.  But it was through social media that I found the women from college, who helped shape me into the person I am today!




Many of my sorority sisters are educators.  I had planned to be an teacher when I was a freshman in college, but changed my major 4 times--but graduated in 4 years!  Teachers are my heroes.


I want to repost a blog I wrong back in February of 2011.  After hearing the working and retired teachers discuss the challenges they face today, I want them to know they make a difference!

So Alpha Xi Delta sisters--I wrote this initial blog after celebrating a mentor and teacher of my husband's when he celebrated a significant birthday.  While this was for him in Feb. 2011, this is for you...you make a difference...just as you made a difference in my life over 30 years ago.  I am a better person for having known you in my 20s...and I am incredibly blessed to know you now!

I Lasso Alpha Xi's who are teachers
I Lasso those Alpha Xi's who are in other careers...with love!

~

"A Teacher Affects Eternity; He can never tell where his influence stops."  ~  Henry Adams


Have you ever had a teacher, a mentor, a person who had an impact on your life--helped form you into the person your are today?


One of my favorite books is Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom.
Like Morrie, there are teachers who do more than teach a subject...in this book, Morrie is dying, yet continues to be the teacher...he taught life lessons to one particular student.  There is a quote in the book that has stayed with me, especially during the 12 years I served as a Board of Trustee for Coppell Independent School District.
The quote came from Henry Adams,
"A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops".  Teachers are truly my heroes!  The most profound illustration of Henry Adam's quote I can really speak to did not happen to me, but rather it happened to my husband Joe and our son, Adam.


Joe grew up in a suburb of Buffalo, New York...Williamsville!  In third grade he started to play the trumpet.  As he moved through the school system there was a middle school/high school band director who changed Joe forever.  His name--Frank Del Russo or Mr. D.  He was a task master...he pushed and pushed his band students to strive to always do their very best.  He insisted on doing everything the right way--always.  He didn't just expect this from his students, but Mr. D expected it from himself.  Mr. D also loved these students.  His love and compassion spilled over into every interaction he had with his band, color guard students.  


As I mentioned, Joe played trumpet.  So fast forward twenty some years...Joe always kept his trumpet out, because Mr. D told him if the trumpet is in the case, he would be less likely to take the time to get it out to just play.  By now, Joe and I were married with three elementary aged children.  One evening, Joe came to the dinner table in a bad mood.  After we said grace over our food, he stared at each of our children one-by-one and asked the question in a very serious tone, "Who put the DING in my trumpet bell?"  There was silence.  Then from the left side of the dinner table our only son Adam, a little third grader at the time, spoke up in tears..."Daddy, I just want to play the trumpet!  I am sorry I dinged your horn!"


It was at that very moment that Mr. D's love, and influence on Joe back in 1960's-- reached into the future and touched our son.  Our son graduated from Baylor as a trumpet performance major and is (prayerfully) headed to grad school for trumpet performance in the fall.






In October of this past year, Joe and I had the pleasure of hearing one of his band-mates, Carol Wincenc, perform at Bass Hall, in Fort Worth,Texas.  Carol Wincenc, a former student of Mr. D's has since become one of the most respected flute players, having appeared as a soloist with the world’s finest orchestras--and a Juilliard professor.  After the concert we met up with Carol.  As Joe and Carol were reminiscent of their days in "Bill's-ville" Joe happened to mentioned to her that in February Mr. D will be 80 years old.  She exclaimed, "We must do something for him!"





So at that moment, Joe the pilot became Joe the event planner!  
I love technology...because, between emails and Facebook...one email or connection to a few former middle school/high school band students led to others spreading the word of Joe organizing a luncheon in honor of Mr. D's 80th Birthday.  With the help of Mr. D's beautiful wife Claudia--Joe had a co-conspirator to pull off this event. 




Eagle House, Williamsville, NY

Well, last week, February 12th, 50 former students of Mr. D's gathered from all over the USA to the Eagle House in Williamsville, New York, to pay the highest honor a teacher can receive...students from the class of 1966, 1967, 1968 and one from 1969 came together to show Mr. D that his love, example of persistence, drive for excellence touched each of their lives.


Throughout the private room of this local watering hole, blue and white crape paper -- Williamsville school colors draped the room. Large photos of the former band students, a young band director covered the walls.  And what were once vinyl record albums of a young group of middle school/high school musicians were digitally loaded onto an iPod for background music for this festive event.


Mr. Frank Del Russo


Mr. D
The moment arrived.  Joe, who has always kept in touch with Mr. D, called him two weeks prior to mention that he had a Southwest Airlines overnight in Buffalo and wondered if he could take Frank to lunch.  Frank mentioned to him, "You know that's my birthday?"  Joe said, "No, I thought your birthday was on President's Day?"  Well, Mr. D told him, "No, my birthday falls on Lincoln's birthday...but I would love to see you and have lunch".  

So with the stage set...the crowd gathered, the band music playing...and...











The beloved band director from over four decades ago got the surprise of his life!


Joe, Frank, John, Suzi





Dan Teplesky, Denny Brown, Roy and Linda Larson
Claudia, Frank and their children, Kathie & Joe Gautille

One by one each student shared a personal memory of what Mr. D meant to them. The reoccurring theme of many whom shared was that Mr. D gave each of them love, confidence, compassion, persistence and the pursuit of excellence--and in turn they were able to pay it forward...pass it on to other students, family, friends.  Something else was shared, Mr. D gave a great deal of credit to the teacher/mentor of his--Herb Ludwig, who he credited for teaching him how to be the best possible teacher he could be...once again, a teacher affecting eternity.


Carol Wincenc, the one who proposed the idea to honor Frank unfortunately had to be in California for a master class and was unable to attend the surprise luncheon...but by phone she had 50 flutist play Happy Birthday to Frank.  


He received one other call, from Holland, yes...the Netherlands...one of his students, April Eaton Brolsma made sure she called during the luncheon!


Not surprising that Frank married a lovely English Literature teacher, who has also touched the future.


Kathie, Joe, Claudia and Frank


Not many people get to see how they are lifting others, making a difference...I am so happy that this group of students made the effort to trek across the country to tell a wonderful 80 year old man that he made a difference in their lives.


A movie I have always loved...and actually was one of the reasons I thought I wanted to be a teacher (but I will save that story for another day) is To Sir with Love.  "Sir" took a tough group of students in London and taught them life lessons.  While Sir was initially despised for his tough disciplined approach to teaching...the video, the song at the end of the movie explains that Sir also touched eternity!  


I dedicate this entry to Frank, Claudia, our daughter Sara (3rd grade teacher), our son Adam (who teaches private trumpet lessons) and ALL of the educators that went into the profession to make a difference in the lives of their students!

.

I Lasso the love of teachers who are making difference
especially
Frank Del Russo!