Peace Be Still!

waterfall   As  educators, we always seek ways to create and maintain peaceful environments. Most conflicts among the children seem to come after lunch or recess. They often return to the classroom with some levels of angst after having had a rift with someone.

We make efforts to promote peace through sharing circles, conflict-resolution talks, soft music, deep- breathing exercises and a host of other activities. Yet, like the children, we adults also search for ways to get a grip and calm down.

After being showered with endless news clips and news bites, our heartbeats unknowingly accelerate at higher rates. If we are not careful about our intake of the negative, we border on high levels of anxiety with heightened heart palpitations.

At some point, we must take control as we strive to do with the youngsters. We can push the mute or off button and totally disconnect from the merry-go-round. After we have come to our senses, we should ask ourselves these questions. “What does this information have to do with me? Will it affect my daily existence?’

If we are honest, we will realize that it really has nothing to do with us. Though it may seem both addictive and entertaining, we come to see that we have been in a hubbub over nothing quite like Shakespeare’s play title,, Much Ado About Nothing.”

So, we must practice what we preach to the children. We, too must calm down, take deep breaths, or retreat if necessary. B.J. Hoff’s poem A Quiet Heart is a great way to help us locate our peace, once we become still.

A Quiet Heart
Make the most
Of quiet hours;

Let your heart
Be calm and still…

Believe this day
Will bring a gift

   To lift your spirit…
And it will.

Lynn M.                                                                                               January 18, 2020

2020 Vision!

downloadRemember the phrase, “finding your bearings?” One would probably have to fall into a certain age bracket to have heard it.  Yet, it is a perfect saying to ponder at the beginning of 2020.

We may have realized that we have gotten off track, so to speak.  The elders often used the phrase, “coming to yourself.”  They meant that we had not been working from our own true base.  We may have become caught up in someone else’s agenda.

Or perhaps, the busyness of life just found us side-tracked  Our trains have, proverbially, jumped off the track.  Our affairs are out of alignment with the natural order of things and out of kilter.  Though things seem to have gone awry, we are still here.  That means that we have a chance to get it right.

I recently heard that January has the highest rate for filings for divorce.  Many of us have had time to look back over the holidays and made a host of New Year’s resolutions.

It is now 2020 and we hope to see life with a perfect 20-20 vision.  We begin with a fresher start while discarding the fallout and debris as we leave toxic people behind.  “When you cut toxic people out of your environment it becomes a lot easier to breathe” (#Say Quotable).  We can become more prepared to take on the next task.

Maturity helps us realize that it is not all about us nor the gaudy, the tinsel nor the shiny things.  It is more about how we can be of service to others.  Dr. King reminded us that, “Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.”

We are free to forge ahead with clearer heads, minds and souls. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. once posed the question, “What’s in your hand?”  He was asking us what we have to give to others?  How can we make a difference?  It is time for us to roll up our sleeves and get busy working with those who will most certainly appreciate our efforts!

Lynn M.                                             January 11, 2020

Little Women: A Movie Review

220px-Little_Women_(2019_film)The new movie version of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women moves with great rapidity. It makes me think of Hemingway’s title, A Moveable Feast. It serves up scrumptious bites and small morsels from this well-known plot in a circuitous fashion.

If the viewer does not know the plot with some level of detail, he or she may have a hard time following at times. The new director (Great Gerwig) uses flashbacks but not in a linear way and it will take some time to reflect and see the whole scheme of things.

For those who know and love the Civil War Era story of the March family, it is a treat as one enjoys the creativity used in telling this age-old tale. The beautiful period dresses and clothes, the use of the actual Orchard House in Concord, Massachusetts, the low candle-lit rooms, the snowy scenes and the beach adventures all add to the beauty of times gone by.

The rivalry between the sisters, the death of a sibling and the absent soldier father help to display Jo March as the guts and backbone of this family of women. Her scribblings sustain her as she gets ideas from the theatrics that the wardrobed girls act out in the attic.

Jo is central to the story and though she does not get the trip abroad nor the boy next door, she gets so much more. She becomes a published writer and truly exemplifies Alcott’s legendary life. Filmmakers are still using her words over 150  years later.

In truth, Alcott did write for eight hours at a time and when one hand was tired, she wrote with the other hand. The movie showed her changing hands and it got many other facts right. It did not, however, show the sister’s art drawn on the walls of the home but then, one would have to take a trip to Concord to see it.  Also, the family often experienced poverty and despair due to the father’s progressive beliefs which made him ride against the tide. Alcott was the breadwinner for many years through her writing.  One would have to delve deeper and do some more research to know her real plight.

This new version of Little Women takes a lot of risks, but the fine acting helps to pull it into its final stop. Notables like Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Laura Dern, Chris Cooper,  Meryl Streep along with several newcomers all assist as this story is told from an independent woman’s point of view. It closes with Jo March holding her newly pressed book in her arms after negotiating her royalties with her publisher. And that is fair enough!

Lynn M.                                                                         January 7, 2020

Celebrate 2020!

Dreamcatcher 31

Wow! It’s a brand, new decade,
Puts a lot on all folks’ plate.

We have much to live up to,
Many dreams are overdue.

Also, a sparkling New Year
Has burst forth with a big cheer.

As some hearty dreams come true,
Dreamcatchers block the bad, blue.

Add good and delete the wrong.
Sound the trumpet. Sing a song!

Lynn M.                                               January 5, 2020

Bombshell: A Movie Review

Fireworks

It took me a while before I could weigh in on the movie Bombshell. I needed several days to let what I had seen and heard sink in, fester and digest. The movie focuses on three high-profiled anchorwomen at a major news station. They each harbor horrific secrets about how they climbed the corporate ladder and one has the wherewithal to breakaway and file a lawsuit.

The pace of Bombshell is fast with rapid movement, so it takes the viewer a while to truly realize the depth of what is going on in these women’s lives. Two of the women are mothers and the breadwinners for their families. It is up to them to keep up their current lifestyles.

These women are forced to dress in sensuous, short dresses so that the viewers can see their legs. They are never allowed to wear pants on the stage sets. They may be called from their work desks at any given time of the day to go and service some troll in upper management. One even had a private elevator for the women to be transported into his office.

The movie is tastefully done, and we are shielded from the actual acts that these women had to perform to keep their jobs. This could neither be about the need of the libido nor some regular sexual desire during a regular workday. It was about the abuse of power and a way denigrate vulnerable women who had few options.

It is interesting how these men that have been called out during the Me Too Movement hold their heads down in shame. What could provoke such heinous acts toward women? Was there a hatred for the mother figures in their lives? Is there some type of Oedipus complex operating in their psyches? Would they want some corporate powerhouse to do the same things to the college-educated women in their families who were trying to build a career?

These questions are endless but as the saying goes, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (Lord John Dalberg-Acton). Again, people hang their heads in disgrace when their hideous deeds are unearthed. And I say people because in one instance from the movie, one of the women was being sexually abused by the head honcho upstairs and by a female coworker after late nights of heavy drinking.

I cannot think of any sane, well-balanced person that needs sex throughout the workday. It is simply a way to deny these women the right to feel whole and in control of their own lives and bodies. Bombshell was about women, but chances are there are some stories brewing about what some men have had to do to keep their incomes as well. How sad!

The major actors were outstanding and obviously Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie, John Lithgow and Kate McKinnon made their roles quite believable. They gave me insight into a disturbing world and the movie Bombshell still has me thinking!

Lynn M.

December 31, 2019

Peeking Back!

Rear view mirrorAs we get ready to roll into not only a new year but a new decade, it would behoove us to take a quick peek over our shoulders and see what we have accomplished. We too readily recall our shortcomings, but we need to lean in and look at what indeed went right in our worlds.

What do we have on our accomplishments list that was not there on January 1st of 2019? What projects did we complete? Which unplanned events did we add to our repertoire? What new skills did we pick up along the way?

Did we add any new friends to our list? Did we decide to let some older acquaintances go like the dust in the wind? Did we gain new items and throw out the old, tired ones? Did we continually add onto the baggage or did we scale back to live in a thinner, more breathable space?

Those are a few of the questions we can ask ourselves and if we are really feeling brave, we should take a quick look at the last ten years. Where were we when 2000 came bristling in? How many major life changes have we made since then? How many times have we changed residences, cities or jobs?

How many dear ones have we said goodbye to over that time span? Who have we embraced and welcomed into our lives? How have they helped us? How have they hindered us? How many people have we helped or hindered during our past ten-year journey?

It is a great time to be here to witness the beginning of the second decade of the new millennium. So, now we get a chance to not only put the events of the past year into perspective, but we can widen our lens and gaze over the past decade.

When 2000 was ushered in, we were all scared of the term Y2K. We were terrified that our computers would not transfer data and we were afraid of a host of other frightening predictions. None of it happened. We flowed seamlessly in 2000 without a hiccup.

So, as we ease into 2020, though things may seem unsettling on so many fronts, we should learn to plan less, breathe more and live in the moment as we ring in 2020 and a new decade!

Lynn M.                                                                       December 28, 2019

In Hushed Tones!

In hushed tones we wait
For the arrival of the Newborn Babe.
Who will bring light, Hope and peace to a world
Teetering on the brink of despair.

Three wise men

In hushed tones, we see
The Three Wise Men’s Silhouettes pass through
The night and follow the
Guiding Star’s direction.

In hushed tones, we see
Them presenting their gifts and
Placing them around the Babe’s manger.

In hushed tones we sing
Alleluia or Ava Maria and
Songs of reverence as we
Acknowledge that there is
An assurance of spiritual leadership.

In hushed tones, we sigh and wait
For the Christ within each of us
To awaken as we cleave to All that is possible.

Hush now and listen.

More Musings- pix

Printed inside of this new collection:   More Musings: Blogs & Tweets.

Lynn M.                                                                    December 21, 2019

A Nat King Cole Christmas Musical!

quote-smile-and-maybe-tomorrow-you-ll-see-that-life-is-still-worth-while-if-you-just-smile-nat-king-cole-86-33-34When I heard that a musical was being staged about Nat King Cole on a local news station, it immediately piqued my interest. I went on the theatre website and saw that it was ending the next day, so I decided to drive there and get a ticket for the next day. Then, I looked at the time and said, “Hey, why not catch the matinee for today?”

Thus, I ventured out to get into the holiday spirit by purchasing a ticket for An Unforgettable Nat King Cole Christmas. If you know anything about the north side of Chicago parking, you know that this took a bit of hope. I was about to give up after driving around for a while when, “Voila.” There sat a vacant parking spot with my name invisibly written on it.

I claimed it and went in to purchase a ticket and decided to stay and see it today rather than drive the distance on the next day. I had never been to this Mercury Theater before which houses the Venus Cabaret Theatre but I knew a lot of about Nat King Cole.  So, I was all in.

As a baby boomer, I remember his tv show which I believe was only 15 minutes long, but he was there. We all know his famous Christmas Song about roasting chestnuts on an open fire and some of us know more of his songs. I bought one of his CD’s in my latter years because I knew that it was gold. I let him serenade me once on a Peter Pan Bus ride as I traveled to visit Amherst, Massachusetts from Boston.

Evan Tyrone Martin, the lead singer at this event, graciously reminded us that listening to any of Nat King Cole’s songs make you forget about your troubles and woes. As his silky, smooth voice crooned out many of Nat King Cole’s songs, he added snippets of Cole’s life in between the songs.

The Venus Cabaret Theatre is a small intimate setting that held about 20 or so people. It was like being in someone’s living room and he and his five-piece band were so refined, professional and entertaining. Jo Ann Daugherty was the pianist and I noticed that the musicians looked over at her for their cues and later read that she was also the director.  They were  dressed in suits and ties and it was clear that these  musicians took their craft seriously. Andy Pratt was on guitar; Joshua Ramos on bass; Rajiv Halim played both saxophone and flute and Ryan Bennett was on drums and percussion.

The play list was long and full and like Evan Tyrone Martin guaranteed, I forgot all my concerns and troubles for that couple of hours. He belted out songs like Silent Night, Get (Your Kicks on) Route 66 and  I’ll be Home for Christmas. When he sang Smile, there were few dry eyes in the room. It is such a universal song as we all reminisce during this time of the year.

He sang Unforgettable, The Christmas Song, The Greatest Love; Straighten Up and Fly Right; If I Had to Choose; The Only Thing I See is You; When I Fall in Love, I Love You (for Sentimental Reasons) and Mona Lisa. Oh, I could go on and on, but this beautiful, festive occasion spearheaded my holiday mood.

Evan Tyrone Martin sang at least 14 of Nat King Cole’s songs and he even sang one in Spanish. I am so thankful that I did not give up on parking. All I could do for Evan Tyrone Martin as I left the theater was throw him a series of kisses to express my gratitude! He smiled and laughed.  What a grand delight!

Lynn M.                                                                                December 14, 2019

Balms of Peace!

blue doveAs things seem to spiral out of control,
We go deep within to find our role.

In assuaging the waves of turbulence,
Talking down others to help them make sense.

Of what appears to be rifts without reason,
Against the grain of this holy season.

Help others to find their centers of calm,
Speak gentle, soothing tones to heal with balm.

Those powerful kernels of central peace,
Brought forth will make all upset simply cease!

Lynn M.                                                                      December 7, 2019

When We Collide

220px-Queen_&_Slim_poster

Whenever you leave a movie cinema or play and you do not want to hear a sound, you know that you have just witnessed some great art form. You want to stay in the moment and continue thinking about what you just saw, heard and felt and you don’t want a song from the radio or a show on the television to interfere with your continual engagement.

I was hesitant to see Queen and Slim when I heard that they were a black couple on the lam after one of them shot a police officer. I felt that it would more than likely not end well but when I read that the Screenwriter (Lena Waithe) was educated at one of our local middle schools, graduated from the city’s only high school and graduated from Columbia College in Chicago’s Loop, I took a deep breath and dove in.

This movie still has me thinking because though it is a story that we all know too well, it is so much more. It is a journey into the hearts, minds and souls of two young people who were out on a first date in Cleveland when things went terribly wrong. They had just had a meal together and as he, Slim (Daniel Kaluuya) was driving, he swerved after trying to get his cell phone from her. It was a light moment until they were pulled over.

After following all the commands of the police officer, things further escalated when Queen, (Jodie Turner-Smith) an attorney, got out of the car to ask for a warrant while her date was being frisked. The police office shot her in the leg for questioning his authority and Slim reacted by taking his gun and shooting him.

Thus, the story begins. Queen decides that she wants to go to her Uncle Earl (Bokeem Woodbine) who lives all the way down in New Orleans. Slim simply wants to call his family but she feels that the phone call would be fatal for them both.

A scenic road trip with all genres of music playing in the background ensues and they first run out of gas in Kentucky. A sheriff picks them up and they eventually lock him in the trunk of their car and take his pick-up truck. They spare his life because they were not intentional killers but accidental killers.

They travel the American south, witnessing everyday life like people picking cotton, children out playing on skateboards late at night, people dancing in a honky-tonk or juke joint and they finally make love on a side road in a car. They start talking and baring their souls to each other and their bond strengthens.

By this time, their pictures are on every front page of the newspapers and there is a big price on their heads. On the other hand, their ordeal sparks protest by those who are compassionate with their plight. They make it to New Orleans and the uncle can only help to a degree. From there, their plan is to go to Georgia, eventually Florida and then to Cuba. A Georgian couple and a young a police officer both assist them at one point. In the interim, Queen finds her mother’s grave and makes peace with her. Slim slips and calls his father to tell him that he loves him.

You hold your breath as they continue their journey and when they get to Florida, they meet their Judas. They go to meet the plane when law enforcement shows up in full force. They continue to hold hands and she is shot in the heart. He bends down and picks up his Queen and raises her to a high status. They all fire on him and when he falls, they end with one on top of the other. It is powerful. And then, we see the he black, gold-grill wearing, marijuana smoking, trailer park sycophant counting his cash from his simony actions.

Queen and Slim is being compared to Bonnie and Clyde, but they do not continually kill anyone. They were just two young people who got caught up in bad situation. The music is great. The plot is well-oiled with no rusty hinges and the acting is memorable. Though the ending is sad, the journey is divine!

Lynn M.                                                                       November 30, 2019