All posts by dixonl2014

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

Advertisements

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.

3c867903-0fdf-3b35-a351-4757b14d69d9

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

 

 

 

Rock On!

keep-calm-and-rock-on-5694When you are ready to make a change towards something more positive, you have to get your feet moving and become like the little penguin, Happy Feet. Take small steps and rehearse the verse “Precept upon precept; line upon line; here a little, there a little” (Isaiah 28:13).

Snails may move slowly but they are thorough and effective. They keep it going like the tortoise in Aesop’s The Tortoise and the Hare. Those who run at an amped-up pace like the hare usually deplete themselves.

They are too exhausted to be around for those important things. They may have seen a lot of things as they moved at a breakneck speed, but did they truly experience them? Was every moment truly savored or were they wondering, “What’s next?”

Slow down and smell the roses but keep moving both gently and succinctly. There are ways to let the universe know that you are ready for something new.  Try moving a few pieces of furniture or fixtures around in your home and create a bit of feng shui.

It has been said that the movement of 27 items immediately brings new energy, new auras and new points of view.  Wayne Dyer stated, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

While living in this society that demands instant gratification, it is crucial to take the time to become quiet. Listen to that still small voice.  As you become aware of new things, jot them down. Stay open and formulate new plans of action.  Then, glide forward effortlessly like a sailboat on a sunny day and rock on!

Lynn M.                                                          June 30, 2018

 

In the Stillness!

breahe When life is shaking you up and down like a salt or pepper shaker, just stop. Go inside to the center of your power like the eye of a hurricane while things on the outer are being tossed in circles.

Give thanks that you are a witness and not a victim.  If you are able to see or observe it from a distance, then you have a chance to walk away from the shuffle.  Yes, it may cause some discomfort but change is like that because as the adage goes, “No pain, no gain.”

Realize that you are being shaken from your foundation and the old beliefs and thoughts that no longer serve you must go. They have no place in the new and evolving you that is growing and stretching.  New and beautiful islands are formed from unsettling and scary volcano eruptions because Mother Nature knows what she is doing.  Similarly, the oyster’s inner agitation produces that priceless pearl.

So, in the midst of mighty change whether on the world stage or within your own soul, first find a safe space.  Create a breathing room, a reflective spot or a scenic corner where you can find solace for a short time while the outer things continually spin around and around.

Let the storms of life pass over as you become still.  Breathe deeply.  Become centered and take time to remember who you are when nobody is looking or demanding your attention. Reflect on times gone by as you acknowledge and bless them.  It took every nuance and event to shape who you are today. Now, pause.  Salute the new and wonder-filled you that is determined to push right on through!

Lynn M.                                                                                         June 23, 2018

Staying in the Know!

Spanish in 100 DaysEach summer, I take on a project that is new, eclectic and memorable.  Summers are very special to those of us who live in the chilly Midwest.  We have to make the most of this all too brief season.  Outside of getting out to soak up some sun, it’s a great time to learn something new! 

This year I have chosen to learn or shall I say become proficient in speaking Spanish.  Educators that cannot speak Spanish are beginning to feel the effects as our school districts make way for its new little ducklings.  That would be the Spanish-speaking children who in turn need bilingual educators.

In an effort to stay on the cutting edge, I have enrolled in a Spanish class again.  A few years back, I took a two-day workshop called Spanish for Educators. Thank goodness, I kept my detailed notes and teaching tools.  I also pulled out my Spanish-English Dictionary along with a book called Spanish in 100 Days that I had packed away.  I am pooling my former efforts along with the new teaching program because it is truly time to take this venture seriously.

I took French at many different points in my life, but I still cannot converse in French. C’est dommage.  But now as I am writing and learning Spanish words, voila!  It all makes sense because I understand feminine and masculine nouns, pronouns and articles from my years of studying French.

As in life, each experience prepares us for the next thing coming down the pike.  Both are Romantic languages.  Yet, I feel a little guilty when I sound out an s as I pronounce Spanish words because in French, that is a huge no-no!

During this uninterrupted stretch in my life, I plan to hunker down and focus.  When I see my young Spanish-speaking students in the fall, I will be able to say more than hola or adois.  Hopefully, I will feel confident enough to use what I have learned and try to converse with them.  Oh, the joys of staying the know!

Lynn M.                                                           June 16, 2018

Our Souls at Night: Book to Film

Our Souls at night-bookIsn’t nice when a writer leaves a screenwriter some material that he or she can mold and make come to life?  Well, the late Kent Haruf did just that when he wrote Our Souls at Night.  I happened to pick it up from the New Books Shelf at the public library.

The plot is unique where a widow knocks on her neighbor’s door who is a widower and asks him to do something quite unusual.  She, Addie Moore, asks him to come over and spend the nights with her. She admits that the nights are the hardest for her and she simply wants to talk.

Louis Waters, a former high school teacher, is taken aback and quietly contemplates her offer.  They both have been alone for years and ultimately each feels that there is little to lose. So, on the next night, he travels through the alley with his pajamas and a toothbrush in a paperback. He knocks on her back door and thus, the story unfolds.

In the small town where they live, tongues start wagging but they are in their seventies and they are quite oblivious to what others think about their actions. They proceed and share many intimate details of their lives.

She talks about the tragic loss of her young daughter who was hit by a car.  Both her husband and son basically shut down and their marriage suffered along with the loss of any intimacy.  He, on the other hand, had an affair with a school teacher which almost ruined his marriage and did indeed destroy the other woman’s marriage.

Both Addie and Louis continue their new routine and at one point, they decide to make a public showing.  As others gawk, they walk down a main street arm in arm.  Just as they are reveling in their new-found friendship, the unthinkable happens.

Addie’s son calls and says that his wife has abandoned the family and that his finances are in shambles.  He asks her to take in her seven-year old grandson Jamie for the summer. This leaves Louis wondering how and if he will fit into the new scenario.

Fortunately, Jamie is in need of a lot of comfort, so the three of them have a number of experiences that help them bond.  He accepts and gets used to Louis coming over at night; they play catch ball; they go on a hike in the mountains and Louis gets him a dog as a reassuring companion.

And then, crash.  Gene, Addie’s son comes to her house outraged that she is allowing Louis to stay over around his son and things get pretty salty.  It was a prime example of how some people cannot run their own lives, but they still feel the need to control others.

As I was reading the book, I met a woman who saw the cover and told me that Our Souls at Night had been made into a movie.  To my astonishment, not only was it a movie, it starred Jane Fonda and Robert Redford.  Who knew?  I was excited and knew that I had to compare the two after finishing the book.

Souls-movie

Afterwards, I was able to see a blurred version of the 2017 movie on You Tube which I observed closely. The script pretty much followed the book with a few exceptions.  In the book, Louis used a family of mice to entertain little Jamie but the movie chose an electric train set instead.  Also, the movie added a scene which included Louis’ adult daughter Holly.  And most importantly, it minimized the son’s aversion to their union and this made for a much lighter ending.

When I finished the book, I was a bit disturbed because Addie was so vulnerable and was being victimized by her controlling son.  He made her leave her house after she experienced a fall.  She was subjected to him and his yelling wife who had returned home.  Addie had to sneak and call Louis to talk and it made me think of Romeo and Juliet’s tragic ending.

However, the movie’s ending was more tolerable and it left me feeling hopeful.  Yes, she did move in with her son and grandson after having a fall, but in the movie, the wife did not return home. It seemed like a more peaceful living arrangement for the three of them.  And yes, she does call Louis but she does not sneak and it signals a happy continuation of their relationship.

Thank goodness for great writers and thank goodness for optimistic screenwriters who know the importance of leaving their viewers with a good feeling!

Lynn M.                                                         June 9, 2018