September 2018

Cooler days of fall are upon us,
It’s back to basics. No time for fuss.

Time for the kids to go back to school.
Where they should practice the Golden Rule.

As they all learn to read, write and count,
The hierarchy of skills do mount.

September- a reality check.
Labor, work and use all hands on deck!

Lynn M.                                                                                                       September leaves                                                                                           September 15, 2018

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Through the Clouds

cloudsMany spiritual lessons remind us that the sun is always shining underneath or behind the clouds.  It is a comfortable thought but when we are feeling gloomy or have limited inspiration, we may find this hard to believe.

Yet, when things lighten up and we feel better, we are more able to say, “Hmm, there is some truth in that statement.”  Once we are feeling more jubilant, we can see that hindsight is indeed 20-20.  We say, “Oh, I was simply traveling through the fog.”

We can then congratulate ourselves for keeping it moving though the destination was not visible to us at the time.  We can comfort ourselves and even give ourselves a loving hug because we kept on going forward and did not get stuck in the middle of the tunnel.

It’s comparable to the takeoff of an airplane.  As the plane makes its ascent, we passengers cannot see anything but surrounding clouds on both sides of the plane. But the pilot already knows the altitude that he or she plans to reach before leveling off.

As we passengers hold in our breaths, it finally happens.  The plane rises above the clouds and the beautiful sun and clear skies are sitting right there.  It is as if they were saying, “Welcome to better times. We were right here waiting for you and cheering you on.  You just had to get through the clouds!

Lynn M.                                                             September 8, 2018

Our Best!

best I always think of September and the autumn months in general, as a time for new beginnings. Of course, it is time for students and teachers on all levels to return to the classroom.  Most students do not realize that teachers and faculty members feel anxious too.  They also get butterflies in their stomachs and experience high levels of anxiety the night before meeting their new students.

They worry and wonder things like, “Can I do it?  Will this turn out to be a successful year?  Will my students be cooperative?  Will they be challenging?  Or will they become a unit and forge full steam ahead?”  I saw a news clip that talked about the stress that students feel before returning to school.  But guess what?  So do the parents and the teachers.

All are hopeful for a good outcome for all involved. So, yes, we teachers are prepared for the children’s occasional  meltdowns and they do come with speed and continuity during that first week of school.  We are armed with plenty of boxes of tissues and hugs to soothe the waters.

But the hidden truth is that we educators have our private parties of uncertainty as well.   The famed Erma Bombeck said in essence, “Now that I have it all together, I forgot where I put it.”  After we have unpacked the boxes, taken down the chairs, thrown out the old furniture and taped down the new name tags, we may feel a sense of readiness.

But then, it dawns on us that we have not prepared what we will teach.  So, we sit down and plan lessons and try to fill up the lapses in time and space to create order and discipline.  Then, we may think that we are ready, but them oops, we still forgot something that is major in this venture.

We think and ask, “What about these new personalities that are about to enter our clean, neat and organized space?  Who are they?”  That is when we may sing like Aretha Franklin and “Say a Little Prayer.” Or, we may take Julie Andrews’ lead from The Sound of Music as she blessed the Captain’s children by name to call out each one’s goodness.

Then, we silently bless each little person now in our charge and hope that after our time together, they will leave us as a more knowledgeable and whole person.  As I said to a fellow educator, “We can only give them the best of us.”

Lynn M.                   September 1, 2018

Rockin’ the Heavens: To Aretha

Re-Re
Re-Re just entered that pearly gate,
Left us behind like childhood bait.

Trying to figure out who was that?
Sassy, feisty. She left no lines flat.

Here we are pulling up every song,
Wishing she had stayed a tad more long.

Strange. We feel like we know our icons,
Like we’ve partied with them on their lawns.

Their breaths and their cells, we think we own,
But we learn that they are here on loan.

She’s now been welcomed in heaven’s arms,
Belting out tunes. Turning on the charms!

Lynn M.                     August 18, 2018

Fellowship

fellowship image

Having fellowship with a confidant or friend helps to wash away the hurt feelings and creates a vacuum.  Then that new space that can be filled with the cool breath of greater understanding.

Once those dark feelings and emotions have been shared with a dear friend, the heaviness begins to dissipate. There is more room for light to pour in because it takes the sunlight of truth to nurture our growth.

Being energized, there is a lightness that frees us to graciously advance forward.  We feel strengthened and more able to cope with our missions in life.

We step livelier as we hoist up our crosses and stand firmly to face our battles. And yes, these are our personal battles that no one can fight for us.

Friends and well-wishers can, however, assist us by listening and acting as sounding boards as we wheedle through the stuff, as Alice Walker calls it.

Once we have refilled our cups, we can take a warrior’s poise and get ready to slay the Goliaths that try to block our paths.

The cobwebs of our minds have been swept down and now the daylight of clarity shines in every corner.  We continue on and fill up our gratitude pages as we thankfully progress on our journeys.

We see ourselves as overcomers because those grand fellowships serve as mirrors. Our reflections are silently singing that, “Every little thing is going to be alright.”

”Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” Philippians 2:2

Lynn M.             August 11, 2018

The Forgotten Road

Forgotten Road

Maya Angelou wrote a book called, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now.  Well in The Forgotten Road (Richard Paul Evans), Charles James takes a long unexpected journey.  He is a highly successful businessman who is presumed to have died in a plane crash.  But as fate would have it, he did not board the flight because he ran back to get his bag.

Yet, when he decides to attend his memorial service in disguise, he sees that the place is basically empty.   He realizes that it is the perfect time to use this opportunity to take a long walk. He sets out on the old Route 66 and his goal is to end up in California where he hopes to make amends with his former wife, Monica.

Each town teaches him something about the American landscape but more importantly, he has time to take a look within himself.  He has a backpack full of cash because he is a multimillionaire so supply is no problem for him. He meets many interesting everyday people along the way and some leave greater imprints than others.

One woman saves his life by giving him a ride in a dangerous area.  He rewards her richly.  Another man makes him take a deeper look into his spiritual beliefs when he shares his near-death experience.  Charles is left plenty of time to ponder his life more deeply and each encounter further pounds into his psyche.

Probably, the most memorable character is Eddie, a Mexican migrant worker.  Charles is forced to live and work as a migrant worker after he was is robbed by a motorcycle gang.  His soul is opened while living that life for a week.  He sees how the workers have to take whatever they are given because they are undocumented and have no other recourse.

Ultimately he is forced to look at his father’s life towards whom he still harbored a strong resentment. His father, also a migrant worker, was harsh and treated Charles as he had been treated by his father.   Charles soon realizes that those circumstances helped to shape him into becoming a financial success.

Now, if he would add a dose of humility, kindness and love, he could work towards becoming a whole person. He breaks down and calls his assistant, Amanda because he is out of cash.  After she is slowly convinced that it is indeed him, she shows up at his hotel.  She tells him that he  has changed.  She notices a greater calm and peace.

At the end of the book, Charles has only made it halfway across the country. Readers will have to wait for the sequel to see what happens when he gets to California.  He fully intends to complete his walk which will end up at Monica’s doorstep at the end of Route 66!

 

Lynn M.                                                            August 4, 2018

Are You Rich or Poor?

peace

What does it mean to be rich?  By most standards, being rich means that a person has an abundance of things like houses, cars, boats, planes and access to loads of cash.  Yet, as recently seen in the media, an abundance of things do not necessarily bring those lasting treasures such as joy, contentment and peace.

Some have traveled the world over yet they still have a continual need to keep grasping at the straws. They still want more like an insolent child who screams to get his or her way. They continue to spend their assets and use their resources to get or do more, failing to realize that oftentimes, less truly is more.

Paul wrote about Christ and said, “though he was rich, yet for your sakes, he became poor, that ye through his poverty might become rich.” (II Corinthians 8:9)  And how did he become rich in his poverty?  The poor often have an increased wisdom and understanding.  They know what it feels like to be in pain so in turn they are able to share compassion with others.

The poor have walked in meekness and humility after they realized that they could not force change. They have learned to wait until the tide changes, as it surely will.  During their wait, they have grown in patience.  Like an astute farmer, they have become attuned to nature and its timings.

Yes, the poor are well-seasoned in long-suffering yet unconsciously they have become richer as their inner peace expands beyond measure.  In a quiet, yet watchful grace, the poor become witnesses to the passing of the material things as they cling to their faith and a more spiritual assuredness.

Ultimately, hope floats to the top and sure enough others reach out to them. They want to garner a few moments in the presence of the poor to feel their richness of spirit though it is often a mystique.  The humble poor are often well-loved because they have successfully found those real treasures of life blanketed around their inner joy!

Lynn M.                                                                                    July 28, 2018

Sparks Fly!

My first encounter with the whole concept of mail-order brides was when I saw Glenn Close and Christopher Walken in the movie Sarah, Plain and Tall.  I didn’t know about this piece of Amercan history. I later picked up the book by Patricia MacLachlan to get an added perspective from the original writer.

Just think of the risks taken by both the man ordering the bride and the brave woman who traveled during the stagecoach days to meet a total stranger.  In this piece, they both agreed to keep their vows and often life in the West was so challenging that they rarely had time to really get to know each other.

Remembering the gruffness of Christopher Walken, one would wonder if love was ever a part of the deal.  Gwen Close was busy learning the harshness of the Western plains and raising his children.  What a life!  Yet when Close was almost lost in a storm, I believe he realized how much he valued and treasured her presence.

Recently, I visited my local library and picked up a book called Beneath the Prairie Moon by Kim Vogel Sawyer.  I was drawn to its cover and did not realize that it was about mail-order brides until I started reading the book.

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It is 1888 in Spiveyville, Kansas.  Over sixteen men have paid a fee for a mail-order bride and are waiting for their arrival from Newton, Massachusetts.  However, when they go to meet the stagecoach, only two women get out.  They are the owner, Helena Bingham and her assistant, Abigail Grant.

The men are shocked and dismayed and even more so when they discover the plans of these Eastern women.  The men must take a variety of classes in etiquette so that they will know how to treat a lady. Of course, they are outraged, but with the Sherriff’s protection of the women, the prairie men soon comply and go along.

Needless to say, there are a few bumps in the road and the women’s stay is unexpectedly lengthened.  The women have to put their airs and hoity-toity ways on the back burner as they are forced to dig in and find ways to survive prairie life.

The men soften some too and the classes get underway, until the unthinkable happens.  Helena Bingham, the owner of the matchmaking business, disappears. Everyone puts their aside their warring ways and aid in the search for her.

Will Helena Bingham be found alive?  Will the men complete their classes on etiquette?  And most importantly, will their brides that they have paid for arrive from the East? Get this book and watch the sparks fly up and see where they land!

Lynn M.                                                                            July 21, 2018

Regaining Balance!

Last week, I wrote a piece on Whitney Houston after seeing the new documentary about her private life.  This week, I focus on her dearly beloved cousin, Dionne Warwick who has been serenading us for the past several decades.

I went on You Tube last night and listened to the hauntingly beautiful theme from the movie Valley of the Dolls.  It had been playing in my head and when I found it, I was pleasantly reminded that it had been sung by Dionne Warwick in 1968.

The movie had a strong impact on those of my generation and the lives of these three women still speaks volumes today.  It reveals what happens when each of them get caught up in the game as they look for success and love along the way.

Some get the material gains but lose their souls while stampeding on others as they race to the top (Patty Duke).  Some are overwhelmed and crushed by life’s circumstances because it all proves to be simply too much (Sharon Tate).  And some are fortunate enough to walk away though battered and bruised by the storms of life (Barbara Parkins).

When feeling like you are continually waking up in a scene from the movie Groundhog Day, listen to this theme song.  Those feelings are timeless and there are ways of getting off of the merry-go round and regaining your balance and equilibrium.

Push play and listen to Dionne Warwick do what she can do like no other singer!

 

Lynn M.                                                           July 14, 2018

 

 

 

An Artist’s Sacrifice: Whitney Houston

Whintey 18

I just saw the new documentary on Whitney Houston simply called Whitney.  At times I cried inside as I soaked up the new footage from her life.  It was done through participatory interviews of those who knew her best such as her mother Cissy Houston, her two brothers, hairstylist, aunt, personal assistants and various record producers.  It focuses more on who she was before she became a star and who she was when the world was not looking.

Nippy, as she was affectionately known, was a young girl from the inner city of Newark, New Jersey.  Her mother was often on the road singing backup for icons such as Elvis Presley and Aretha Franklin. Dionne Warwick was her aunt so she had a tall order placed on her shoulders from birth.

The  movie begins with the interviewer speaking to Cissy Houston from a church pew where Whitney got her start. She stated that she taught Nippy to sing from her head, heart and gut.  Well, it worked. She and her brothers hated to see their mother hit the road and they were left behind to stay with other families.  Sometimes they were in good hands and sometimes they were not, as life goes.

This movie shares a well-tucked away secret about Whitney and her good friend Robyn. They met as young teens and became the best of friends and moved in together when Whitney was 18.  Their relationship was questionable and quite unacceptable for the image that others wanted Whitney to portray as a rising star.

Whitney was discovered and though Robyn stayed in her employ, her presence caused the disapproval of her family and her new handlers.  Yet, they were so close that Robyn was the only one who could get Nippy to behave and take off her shoes of rebellion.

Thus, the divided soul began to widen as Nippy had to become Whitney Houston who was this young, innocent fresh talent that was entering upon the world stage.  Nippy, the inner city girl with sass had to be silenced along her inner city jargon.  The new Whitney wore long gowns of grace and elegance and her love for Robyn had to be snuffed out as well.

Then, enters bad boy Bobby Brown on stage left.  As others said in the film, Bobby Brown was more like her than the world realized.  He was also an inner city kid and reminded her of her brothers.  He got to know the real Nippy and he made her laugh. With him, she could please the world and be married to a man with a family on the horizon.

The movie shows footage from her wedding day with Bobby Brown  He was crying because he probably could not believe that he had landed one of the world’s greatest talents.  But what I will not forget is how Robyn looked in her eyes while she was in her wedding gown.  It was as if she was saying, “Okay if this is what you want to do, I wish you the best.”

It was said that Bobby and Robyn would actually fight and vie for Nippy’s attention.  Bobby vowed to kill Robyn and bury her in his backyard.  Hence, the heart and chasm of  Nippy’s heart widened and the drugs poured in to numb the pain of trying to live up to others’ expectations.  Robyn finally left Whitney’s employ around 2000 and it was shortly afterwards when Whitney was seen looking skeletal in 2001.

We know what toil the world tours, the interviews and  the abusive marriage took on her.  But the pressure to maintain this image of someone who was so unlike the real Nippy proved to be too much.   If you look at any of Whitney’s interviews, you can hear the real Nippy from the inner city trying to break free.

There is one really memorable scene where Whitney is having a monologue with herself saying that Nippy cannot find Whitney or that Whitney can find Nippy.  It made me think of  the book called Divided Soul about Marvin GayeI thought of all of the artists who have changed their names and taken on some false persona to satisfy someone else’s  creation.  Think about Marilyn Monroe who was once Norma Jean.

As in all falsity,  it all comes crashing down and those who loved these stars while they were riding high quickly turn and become their worst critics. During this movie, it was revealed that Whitney would go and visit Michael Jackson when she was feeling overwhelmed.  They would sit for hours and not say a word because it was a wordless understanding of the demands of being a megastar.

I looked at her last interview with Oprah after seeing the movie and she said that on some days, she just wanted to put on some jeans and be herself.  But the world would have none of that. Some even referred to her as a national treasure as though she was not an individual with personal dreams and dilemmas.

This documentary delves into the inside of a woman’s soul who fought the good fight as she graciously shared her gift with the world.  Her mother told her in this film that “God had laid His hands on her.”  She gave what she had and I am thankful for Kevin McDonald’s approach to her life.  We know of her accomplishments, but this film shows all that Nippy sacrificed to belt out those iron-clad lungs that gave us all goosebumps.

Push play and listen to one of Whitney’s last songs as she cleaves to her faith and sings I Look to You!

 

 

Lynn M.                                                                            July 7, 2018