The Life of the Party: A Movie Review

Mother and Daughter

The Life of the Party starring Melissa McCarthy was a little wild and even a tad risqué but enjoyable.  In the movie, Deanna (Melissa McCarthy) returns to college to finish out her last year some twenty years after leaving to get married.  Her husband abruptly asks for a divorce and she is blindsided.  But after brooding, she decides to join her daughter on the campus of her alma mater.

Her daughter Maddie (Molly Gordon) isn’t thrilled with the idea but after she gives her mom a makeover, Deanna begins to blend in and even becomes a valued part of the younger set.  Through a host of adventures such as partying, drinking, joining a sorority and even making out with a fraternity brother, she soon forgets her woes as she moves ahead to complete her Archaeology degree.

There were quite a few laughs and there were even some great scenes of revenge when Deanna encounters her ex-husband and his intended.  It was a good way to escape into another world and as I was driving home and reflecting on the movie, it dawned on me that there were quite a few similarities to my own life.

At the end of the film, I recalled that my mother and I had also attended college together.  She was a senior and I was a freshman.  I used to say, “Hi, Ma,” in the hallway.  And later, we taught on two of the same college campuses and marched as faculty together.

So, when Deanna and daughter were clothed in their graduation regalia, I was reminded of how fortunate I was to have had such an amazing experience.   During this month of honoring our mothers, I pause and recall the lines from a famous gospel song that say, “Precious memories.  Oh how they linger!”

Lynn M.                                                                                May 19, 2018

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In A Gilded Cage: A Book Review

Gilded Cage

Rhy Bowen’s In A Gilded Cage caught my eye on the library shelf because of the  woman’s fashionable dress on the cover.  I checked it out and after reading the first few lines, I knew that I was in for a treat.  It was written in first person and that immediately drew me in as I listened to what Molly Murphy had to share with me.

It takes place in New York in 1918 during the women’s suffrage movement and Molly’s tone was light and amusing.  I packed my bags and traveled back into this historical era when women were standing up for the right to vote.

Molly Murphy has her own small detective agency and she is asked to join her neighbors Sid and Gus on a walk in the Easter Parade.  But the Vassar graduates have a secret mission and they plan to wear banners for Women’s Right to Vote across their dresses.

Needless to say, this does not go over well with the police and all of the women are arrested.  Molly, though from Ireland, has the chance to meet many of the prominent women who all attended Vassar College.  Thus, she meets Fanny and Emily who both become the main focus of the story.

The women are surprised to know that Molly Murphy is indeed a detective and her affiliation with the police captain helps them get out of jail without spending a night.  Daniel is Molly’s intended and helps her on several occasions.

Both Fanny and Emily hire Molly Murphy for private reasons.  Fanny suspects her husband of cheating in a long-standing affair and Emily is not sure of her parentage and possible inheritance.  Her uncle is less than honest yet quite wealthy while she struggles to make ends meet while working for a pharmacist.

Then, the tide changes when three of the Vassar women die a similar and mysterious death.  It seems like  influenza but there are other odd symptoms like hair loss and vomiting.

Who wants these society women dead?  What are the ties that bind?  Why are they a threat?  As Molly tirelessly works to get to the heart of the matters, Emily is spared though Fanny is not as fortunate. They Molly and Daniel put their heads together and act as a dynamic duel. The shocking murderer is revealed.

As in life, there are many twists and turns along with false leads but as the saying goes, “There are no secrets in the Book of Life.”  Read In a Gilded Cage and be reminded that all that glitters is truly not gold!

Lynn M.                                                         May 12, 2018

Fresh May!

May-basin

Oh, the beauty of fresh May,
Smells of newness, we all say.

Ah! At last we surely know,
Warm spring breezes make us glow.

Endured winter’s frosty crust,
Now propelled forth with a thrust.

Into this calming, green May,
Planting smiles throughout the day!

Lynn M.                                                                            May 12, 2018

Soft Landings

cushionsHave you ever felt as if you were a juggler as you tried to manage all of the pins being shoved your way? If so, you understand why the jugglers don’t take their eyes off of the pins because one wrong move can cause the whole game to come crashing down!

Life is like that as you try to keep it together or keep on keeping on.  It is comparable to watching a dog jump through hoops or a skilled track and field sprinter clear those hurdles in a timely manner.

But if there is huge slip-up, it’s just like an opponent in a chess game calling out “Checkmate.” You then know that the game is over. There is no other recourse other than to simply start  over, if given the chance.

There is a children’s story called Anansi the Spider and Anansi was prone to trouble; yet, his six sons often saved him.  Each son used his unique gift to successfully rescue their father as the brothers worked as a team.

On one occasion, they had to save Anansi from a huge falcon. After Anansi was freed from the mouth of the bird, he fell towards the ground.  His youngest son, Cushion, then positioned himself so that his father landed on his back.  Cushion offered a buffer and and helped his father have a proverbial soft landing.

So, the next time that you find yourself in the middle of running a challenging race, remember that in the end, the most you can hope for is a smooth landing. Later, when you have time to reflect and let out a big sigh of relief, you can lean on the words of Shakespeare.  He wrote, “All’s well that ends well!”

Lynn M.                                                            May 5, 2018

Old Treasures!

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As we hurry through our lives at breakneck speeds, we often forget some of those simple pleasures that once brought us comfort.  We continually gather the new things and pile them on top of our already collected goods until we have tall totem poles of stuff.

We may eventually realize that we indeed have a plethora of gains and in a few moments of stillness, we might have a chance uncover some of those beloved items at the bottom of the barrel.  It’s comparable to cleaning out a drawer and rediscovering a favorite blouse or snugly pair of pajamas.

As clarity returns to us when we slow down, we begin to remember other things that once brought us joy.  It could be a classical radio station that we once found  rewarding, a gospel CD that has been tucked away or a radio talk show that we had forgotten during our frenetic paces.

Old books that we once enjoyed could catch our attention and we may revisit them.  Or we might pull out the paint brushes and therapeutically finish a poem that we started on a piece of stretched canvas.

After completing several high-paced projects, we take the time to draw back the heavy curtains of our personal stages and notice those things that we once cherished.  We hear ourselves say, “Oh yeah,” as we remember how much peace a sauna or pool brought us.

Or, we may decide to replace those old ballet shoes that we enjoyed wearing around the house for increased balance. It is the small things that bring us the most happiness if we only take the time to remember them.

We should shuffle around those possessions that we already own or jog our memories to recall what once brought us peace in the past.  When the cream has risen to the top along with our smiles, we can make a pointed effort to restock our treasure troves of joy!

Lynn M.                                                                                       April 28, 2018

Rest!

rest signs

Everything comes to a rest after being in motion.  Musicians learn to read the rest signs on musical scores.  Trains, cars and airplanes come to a stop to unload and reload passengers or perhaps they have come to the end of their destined routes.

Birds stop flying to eat, regather and get their directions.  They may need to confer with the leader who is flying the point and see the new plan.  But they still have to come down to the ground to have that communication.

Wise ones know that in order to make good choices, they must descend from the mountains of high activity.  Then, they can come to a low valley point and simply stop.  As they rest, they can reflect, reassess, analyze and decide on what needs to be done next.  They can then create a new blueprint or action plan.

When the mind, body and soul are in one accord and all of the right tools are in place, they can emerge from those resting places.  They are then fired up and ready to go on.  They may have had to put everything and everyone on hold but  now, they can have continued success.  Then they are recharged, replenished  and as all systems are set to go, they can assertively, dive in!

Lynn M.                                                                                 April 21, 2018

Root-Bound No More

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The other day I was teaching a unit on New Plants to a group of first graders.  I thought of the many parables and parallels about life that were tucked in this lesson.  It basically said that plants need air, water and space.

I thought about my own fascination with gardens.  Those of us with a green thumb know that it all starts with a tiny seed that is deeply planted in fertilized soil. Yet, if properly nurtured, those tiny seeds grow into rows and rows of bountiful beauty.

Just like the plants, we also need plenty of air.  One of the first recommendations of our physicians and metaphysicians is, “Get plenty of fresh air!”  A breath of fresh air not only fills our lungs but it changes our thoughts.  A brisk walk in the elements whether sun, rain or wind is a sure-fired method of solving a problem.  A mental light bulb will invariably pop on and new perspectives are likely to emerge during a walk.

We need light too and the sun usually brings a smile to most of our faces.  It is a welcome source that inspires us to enjoy daily living.  If we have been sitting in the dark for too long, we realize what we have been missing once we open the blinds and pull back the curtains.  That emitted light speedily brings us closer to better health.  We can see that the glass is truly more full than empty.

And lastly, we definitely need space.  When plants stop growing we pull them out of their old pots and see that they have become root-bound.  The roots are all crowded together and there is no room for them to stretch their proverbial new wings.  So, we get a larger pot and make room for the new growth.

We may feel the walls of constriction are closing in on us but it is usually a sign that it is time to move on up higher. Like the  plants, we have been unconsciously growing.  There is a saying that says, “Your growing is showing!”  So, as the process dictates, we must move on to airy, light-filled, spacious places as we drink from even fresher fountains!

Lynn M.                                                                                       April 14, 2018

Happy April!

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In April umbrellas go up,
As frequent rainstorms do erupt!

Flower buds push forward with force,
Leaning on the sun for its source.

It’s Poetry Month for thirty days,
Poems lift us from that humdrum haze.

Birds chirp and celebrate the earth,
Setting the tone for widespread mirth!

Lynn M.                                                                  April 8, 2018

Chappaquiddick: A Movie Review

Chappaquiddick_(film)

I am so glad that I didn’t listen to the one of the film critics who gave the new movie Chappaquiddick a “D.”  As in most cases in life, we have to experience things for ourselves and then make a judgment call.  So, I followed my first mind and went on to see this movie.

Most of the people in the audience looked like they were baby boomers like me and were probably there to revisit their feelings about this indelible incident.  The year of 1969 was a highly sensitive time in our country after several assassinations of political figures and it was at the height of an unpopular war.  So, to my recollection, emotions were already running at an all-time high on so many levels and fronts.

When this story involving Ted Kennedy emerged, many did not know what to think.  This new movie, Chappaquiddick, reopens old wounds and yet it is done tastefully and handled with an air of sensitivity.  He was, after all, the youngest of the famous brothers and people wanted to hear what he had to say and give him a fair shake.

The highly polished and believable cast includes Jason Clark as Ted Kennedy; Ed Helms as Cousin Joe Gargan and Bruce Dern as Patriarch Joseph P. Kennedy.  We are allowed to take a walk back down memory lane hoping to get greater insight into one of the bigger political mysteries. We will never fully know what happened on that unfortunate night in July of 1969 so we can only speculate.  We certainly should thank Director John Curran and writers Taylor Allen and Andrew Logan for doing a fine job of recreating a grave and dark time in our history.

What we do know is, for whatever reason, Ted Kennedy’s life was spared. He went on to live a full life – something that fate did not afford his tragic brothers.  Obviously, his mission was not complete in July of 1969 and he went on to become one of the longest serving US senators in American history. He was able to push through many legislative bills.

We are all flawed in some way and though it is easy to pass judgment, it is difficult to continually stay the course and forge ahead.  As someone in the movie said, “Only history will decide.” I personally think that he proved his father to be wrong.  He survived the hurt, the shame and the embarrassment as he went on to accomplish many great things!

Lynn M.                                                              April 7, 2018

Refreshing Newness!

new life

When I think of spring, I think of new beginnings.  The birds wake us up with early morning serenades as they sing celebratory lyrics.  They coax us to get out of bed and put on our happy feet and move to earth’s new rhythms.

Trees slowing blossom and the sun peeks from behind those hazy clouds.  We gently break into a smile as we realize that we have kissed by its rays from the heavens.  They bring us hope and as weary wanderers, we sigh knowing that everything is being born again.

We begin to feel inspired and we know that this is the perfect season to initiate that spring cleaning.  We create those ‘to do lists’ and strike off each completed task one at a time as we clean closets and fulfill those other long, anticipated chores. We throw out those items that are no longer needed or those things that simply weigh us down and hold us back.

We may put on some upbeat music as we synchronize our clearing away process with those indelible beats. A list of new, refreshing ideas may flow forth as we keep our hands moving and if we are wise, we will pause and write them down before we forget what they whispered to us.

Most importantly, we cleanse our minds of the old, decrepit ways of thinking and we flush away all that is no longer useful to us.  When painful, past scenes roll across the screens of our minds, we silently hit the delete button to erase or blot them out so that they never come up again.

We breathe and we consciously feel refreshed and renewed as we replace the old with the new.  We recall the words of Jesus, the Master Teacher who said, “You cannot pour new wine into old wine skins.” Thus, we are born again feeling brand new!

Lynn M.                                                           March 31, 2018