Exit, Stage Left!

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It’s still January and we are continually setting down the new frameworks that we intend to follow for the new year.  We have promised ourselves to release the old things and people who no longer benefit us.  Parting with material things is difficult enough but parting ways with people we have known is even harder.

Just like a worn-out pair of shoes, those relationships are no longer comfortable and in fact they may simply hurt.  If we keep wearing them, we will find ourselves winching from the pain; so, we eventually must let them go before we do more damage to our feet.

Last Sunday, Carol Burnett, the comedienne, received a special Golden Globe for the many years that she brought so much laughter to her viewers.  She closed her weekly show with a song that said, “I’m So Glad We Had This Time Together.” Then she would pull on one of her earlobes as if to seal the deal.  We can use her lyrics as we give thanks for those that we have once known.

As we clean out our lives, we can remember the hours of deep conversations and moments of hearty laughter that we have shared. Surely, we have been enriched from the encounters and for that we should be grateful.  Our fellowshipping may have stretched out over several years or it may have been short and sweet. Yet, we know when it is time to move on.

Children are weaned from their mothers so that they can advance to the next stage of growth and we adults must do the same thing.  If we try to hold on to that which we’ve outgrown, pain is guaranteed.  So, we unfurl our grasp and grip on people, open up our hands  and simply let go as we watch the parting shadows exit stage left.

There may a tear in the corner of our eyes but if we are honestly in touch with our real feelings, we will slowly smile.  In time, precious memories will flow to the top like marshmallows on a cup of hot chocolate and all the bitterness will remain at the bottom!

Lynn M.                                                                                               January 12, 2019

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Yeah!

thg9giwc1iWhen newly laundered clothes come out of the dryer, they normally have a fresh and crisp smell.  They make us feel like going on as we graciously crease and fold them.  We can compare this New Year of 2019 to a clean wash because we have the chance to take a deep breath and start over.

New resolutions have either been written or spoken as we vow to do better in a variety of areas.  We can only hope that we can live up to these self-imposed challenges as we strive to grow and go forth.

Just like the dried clothes, we have folded the situations of the past year into neat, little piles and tucked them away.  We have greater insights as we see that some things blessed us; some confounded us and some even spooked us.  Yet, we continue and keep on keeping on.

We may have had to hum Gladys Knight & The Pips’ song, I’ve Got to Use My Imagination for encouragement.   They sang:

“I’ve really got to use my imagination,

To think of good reasons

To keep on keeping on

Got to make the best of a bad situation….”

We realize that we have pulled on a lot of resources to get us to New Year’s Eve night when we witnessed the ball drop as the world rung in the New Year.

Those sources may have included things like the reading of spiritual literature and good books, writing our innermost thoughts on a regular basis or listening to calming music.  Or maybe it was our relaxing during yoga classes and poses, dancing during Zumba classes, taking long walks by the waterfront or communicating with loved ones either in person or on social media.

Our silent helpers may have been seen and several may not have been visible to us.  But, their well-wishes were heartily felt as we triumphed and closed out the old year.

So, in 2019, we start by counting our abundant blessings for there have been many.  If any obstacles or hurdles present themselves on our path, we can view them as a bunch of bowling pins.  They are there waiting for us in formation.

We simply pick up the right bowling ball, position our thumb at the perfect angle, take a careful aim and heave the ball towards them.  And, we just might hear our cheering section scream, “Yeah for you!”

Lynn M.                                                      January 5, 2019

Tick Marks!

Over this holiday season, I have had the opportunity to revisit several movies and take another look at why they remain special to me. Each reminded me of where I was living and what I was doing when I saw them for the first time.  Some things change yet some remain the same!

I saw The Graduate again. It came out during my freshman year of college. I loved it this time around as much as I did way back then. The lyrics to Simon and Garfunkel’s song The Sound of Silence came rolling back to me as if time stood still.  Dustin Hoffman’s dilemmas and moves obviously etched scenarios in my mind.  I was there inside his mental space with him.  Since that time, I was able to make it to the UC Berkeley campus and I later owned a convertible Spider similar to his Alfa Romeo Spider in the movie.

Then, I saw Claudine again with Diahann Carroll and James Earl Jones. It was a big hit at the time because though she was a domestic with six kids, she fell in love with a garbage collector.  He almost abandoned her and her children because he realized he did not make enough to feed them.  It takes a hard look at the traps of the welfare system but ultimately love won! The music written by Curtis Mayfield and sung by Gladys Knight and The Pips kept everyone going On and On.  I was teaching high school at the time and oh, the memories from that era came rushing back in!

Seeing Agnes of God baffled me as much this time around as it did when me and a couple of my co-workers from a community college saw it for the first time.  I remember that day because we did a movie marathon and saw two movies on the same day.  Jane Fonda fashionably chain-smoked as she tried to figure out who impregnated a young nun that murdered her newborn. I thought of how unattractive smoking is today and how it is now prohibited in most public places.

Both she and the talented Anne Bancroft acted superbly in this drama and this time around, I was able to connect a few more of the dots.  Plus, I did a little more research to see what drove the playwright to write the play.  He based it on a true story of a nun in Upstate New York; but, it was less of a mystery because that nun had spent time outside of the convent for a conference.

Over time, we grow.  Society rules change.  I have changed.  Several of my perspectives  and points of view have also changed.  If I stood against a measuring stick and compared where I was then to where I am now, I would have to reach up really high to strike off my new tick marks of growth!

Lynn M.                                                                                               December 29, 2018

 

Shush!

It’s that time of year when we find quiet moments to commune with Our Creator during this busy season.  We look forward to those down times so that we can make sense of things and more clearly realize our divine purposes.

As in any rhapsody, we find pauses and moments of rest.  We become still and stop our senseless strivings after ripping and running to and fro in our efforts to get it all done.

Our older, wiser selves teach us to slow our paces and think before we act or speak.  We are grateful that we have been brought to this point in time and we understand that it only happened through His grace and mercy.

We began to assess our actions over these past twelve months. We may be able to count and see how many persons we have either helped along the way or hindered through  our careless actions or vain babblings.  Then, we can start to make the case for ourselves as we vow to do better in the coming year.

Hopefully, our characters have grown, and we see that we certainly are not where we were in our thinking, let’s say this time last year.  Yes, we have indeed evolved, and our viewpoints are not the same. Yeah!

We are not as puffed up over our possessions because we have truly come to see that all is quite temporary and fleeting.  Looking at the daily news reminds us of how quickly those things can be gone in a poof!  We now know that our things do not define us because our spirits of resiliency may be tested at any given time.

We do not wait for a guardian of the silence like a librarian to shush us when we are too noisy.  We voluntarily quiet ourselves, settle down, turn off the chatter boxes and listen.  If we are fortunate, we will be led to take those new and right steps specifically designed for us!

“The Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth be silent before Him.”  Habakkuk 2:20

Lynn M.                                                                        December 22, 2018

 

Good ’til the Last Drop!

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I had to read The Octopus by Frank Norris in college but at the time, I was too young and immature to appreciate Norris’ writing talent and I had no interest in the story itself.  But I just finished The Pit: The Story of Chicago and I was mesmerized by his ability to paint such clear images through his choice of words and of course, the locale of Chicago kept me on the edge of my seat.

The Pit takes place in the early 1900’s and it is set in the heart of Chicago.  I could see every step that Curtis Jadwin and Laura Dearborn took before and after they married.  They settled off North Avenue close to the Conservatory in Lincoln Park.  She often spent her lonely evenings riding her horse over to the park where she listened to the waves of Lake Michigan for consolation.

Her husband was a financial guru, known as the Unknown Bull who privately controlled the stock market.  Wheat was king at the time.  He worked at the Board of Trade Center which is located at the south end of LaSalle.  Coincidently, my first job in the Loop was steps away so it was easy to envision him going in and out of the building.

The only things that seemed different about places such as The Palmer House or the rumbling of the elevated train was the time and era.  The men and women dressed differently and were still traveling by horse and buggy, but the Chicago streets are the same and the gamut of human emotions that the characters felt remain unchanged.

This story, the second of a trilogy, shows how people get so caught up in the game of winning that they lose sight of what is truly important in life.  Jadwin controls the stock market and has already amassed millions but cannot let go of the fervor of the chase.

The Jadwins’ mansion is humongous, and they do not even remember all of the rooms in their home.  Laura has many gowns, yet she does not have anywhere to wear them all. They have a summer home at Lake Geneva but eventually, they do not have time to get there because Jadwin needs to stay on top of the game of speculating the wheat prices.  It gets to the point where he stays in a downtown hotel and does not always go home to Laura.

Invariably, it all begins to come crashing down after Jadwin’s identity is exposed and his dear friend kills himself. Jadwin finally loses all his wealth.  As things spiral out of control, Laura seriously considers having an affair with an artist-friend who always loved her.

Jadwin physically and mentally breaks down and after a near-death experience, he vows to start anew. The beautiful, self-centered Laura stops focusing on her own personal needs and nurses her husband back to health.  The Pit closes with him and Laura leaving Chicago and heading out west to start a new business venture.  They have just a little more than the clothes on their backs, but they have finally realized that the greatest of these is love.

Lynn M.                                                                                December 15, 2018

Gently, Close the Door!

let it goIt’s that time of the year when we will soon be singing “Auld Lang Syne.” We take a quick look back on what we have done well and what can be improved upon during this year.  As we leave the old behind, we should gently close the door.

We should bend down and pick up the gems that gleam from each situation and encounter and put them in our keeper’s basket.  Then we must sweep that unwanted and unneeded and simply stamp them as discards.  We can then let out a deep sigh of relief and privately think, “Glad that is over!”

We don’t have to be angry for the hard experiences because as we grow in grace and wisdom, we come to understand that every man or person is our teacher.  We look for the lessons and though some are painful, we realize that it is not personal.  Usually unkind people are unkind to many others as well. It is how they roll.  We simply were put in their paths to garner something to help us grow in some way.

Through it all, hopefully our character has been positively altered in some form or fashion.  Perhaps, we have become more mindful of how we impact others and vow to have more positive interactions with those new persons that we will be meeting in the future.

There are always lessons to be learned and as we advance as a more spiritually-attuned person, we become less rattled by the abrasive actions of others.  We begin to give situations the proverbial light touch and try to keep our emotions more in check.

Wherever we find ourselves at this year’s end, we should tally our data and be honest about our gains.  As we gently close the door on the past, we can give it a wave and “keep on stepping.”  The world is waiting for our new and enhanced selves to dig in and share our gifts!

Lynn M.                                                                     December 9, 2018

December Bells!

 

Oh, the bells are ringing everywhere,
For those donations that we must share.

The frosty mornings waking us up,
Having us reach for that chocolate cup.

Roasting thoughts warn us of frigid air,
As we shop for those for whom we care.

Christmas cheers and smiles spread all around,
Holiday music adds to the sound

The season is here upon us all,
We etch out the new and have a ball!

Lynn M.                                                                             December 8, 2018

Green Book: A Movie Review

However inaccurate this account of the life of Dr. Don Shirley may be, I found  the movie Green Book to be a treasure.  I clapped at the end of the film along with a few others in the audience.  I have seen countless movies that I immediately forgot shortly after I left the theater.  This will not be the case here.51X9EKw6CwL._SX383_BO1,204,203,200_

This well-developed story establishes the unlikely bond that was formed between a classical pianist and his chauffeur.  They spend a couple of months on the road as Shirley plays concerts throughout the South.  He had to rely on the use of The Negro Travelers’ Green Book which directed African-American travelers to safe lodgings during the 50’s and 60’s.

Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) is highly-polished and he lives between two worlds, not quite fitting into either one.  Tony Vallelonga  (Viggo Mortensen),who sorely needs a job, is hired as his chauffeur and they have enough time to bridge their differences. They survive an arrest, some acts of violence and the never-ending threats of the racial divide in the American South.

They embark on their sojourn from New York City and drive south making stops for concerts in places such as Pittsburgh, Louisville, Memphis, Tupelo, Jackson, New Orleans and finally in Birmingham.  Each city brings both highs and lows as the culture shock continues to deepen as they go further south.

Octavia Spencer is the Executive Producer of Green Book and I think that she did a fine job.  Shirley’s family claims that it is filled with lies. It may be flawed, but hopefully they will realize that this is a new exposure to many people about the life of Dr. Don Shirley.  I had never heard of him.

After seeing this movie, I did plenty of research on him, looked at his images and even listened to some of his soothing piano pieces.  So, I would say that the movie Green Book offers a green light for viewers to take note of Shirley’ life and his many accomplishments. There will definitely be Oscar buzzes surrounding these two superb actors who portrayed two men from totally different walks of life!

Lynn M.                                                      December 1, 2018

Mountains and Valleys

After long periods of high activity, if we are fortunate, we can slowly descend the mountain.  We reverse our steps and back down to level ground.   We are grateful that we were not thrust from the mountaintop as we were moving at such a dizzying pace.

Upon divine completion of some given task, we stop.  We realize that the phase is over, so we slow down.  We begin to reflect, celebrate our successes and jot down what we can do better the next time around.

We realize that it is time for refreshing our spirits and renewing our souls.  We go into healthy repose and lay still in the valley situated between the two mountains.  In tranquil stretches of time, we find refuge and quiet breathing spaces.

Clarity of mind and purpose return to us as we keep our distances from the fray and those unnecessary distractions.  We know that in our service to humanity, we have helped others and we have in turn helped ourselves.  Our purses are indeed fatter, and our knowledge has increased along the way because we understand that we learn something new every day.

So, we breathe.  We take breaks and we clear our heads.  We eat, sleep and prepare for our next venture.  We silently begin to sharpen our tools and shine our shoes for we know that in just a short while, we will be commissioned again.

 It will soon be time to scale another mountain so in the interim, we lie still in the valley between the mountains.  We snore, smile and eventually look up and see how high the next mountain appears to be and we say to ourselves, “Oh boy!”  Then, we inaudibly beseech on our angel helpers for strength, put on our armors of faith and await the call!

Lynn M.                                                                                   November 24, 2018

Work in Progress!

blocksSometimes in our lives, we are put to task to build something without a clear blueprint.  Yet, our diligence still makes us roll up our sleeves and dig in.  As we roll one stone in front of the other, we create the outline of the structure.

Though the end product is invisible, we lean on the All-knowing Substance to guide us as we work on.  The hustle and bustle of the movement of busy hands and feet may look chaotic to some, but there is usually a method to the madness.    Amelia Earhart said, “Never interrupt someone doing what you said couldn’t be done.” It is better to be a curious yet silent observer when there is a work in progress.

Active participants on the construction project should be  wise and  dutiful soldiers that follow the commands of those running the show.  Whether the roles are major or minor, all are essential to the whole.

Tempers may flare, angry words may be exchanged and bricks may fall in the heat of the battle but the intent to succeed is solid like a rock.  The smoke from the chiseling hammers may cause a temporary fog and sweat may pour from the brow.

But the light at the end of the tunnel will come into visibility.  And as Shaun Alexander says, “I think there will be more smiles when the smoke clears!”

Lynn M.                                                                                                November 17, 2018