“Tell Me What You Pay Attention To and I Will Tell You Who You Are.”-Jose Ortega y Gasset

This morning, the singing of the birds beckoned me to rise from my bed and start the day on a positive note. As I rose, I thought about the interview I saw last week on Oprah’s OWN station with Oprah interviewing the writer, Sue Monk Kidd. In 2002, I read Kidd’s, “The Secret Life of Bees” and loved it…didn’t love the books that came after. Recently, I read her latest book, “The Invention of Wings,” which I really enjoyed, but not as much as “…Bees.” Anyway, I thought of what Sue Monk Kidd said in the interview…to paraphrase, she said, “We become what we pay attention to.” I’ve been thinking about that since I heard it and trying to be more positive in life…instead of focusing on minor aches and pains or inventing “what if” scenarios for things that may never happen. I’m focusing on what I am grateful and thankful for. The singing of the birds inspired a quick haiku this morning:


I heard singing birds
Calling my name to join them
So I rose and did.

And now, just as I finished printing the haiku, my wonderful husband just put on“Looking into You: A Tribute To Jackson Browne” CD with Don Henley and Blind Pilot singing, “These Days,” yes, so thankful. “Well, I’ll keep on moving, things are bound to be improving, these days.” (Jackson Browne)

We become what we pay attention to…yes…music always helps…we just listened to Roseanne Cash’s newest album on vinyl, “The River and the Thread” and we give it a thumbs up, especially “Etta’s Song,” which I can listen to over and over again. It’s a beautifully produced album, just the pureness of Roseanne’s clear voice and the clarity of the instruments and her wonderful musician husband/arranger John Leventhal. We are also looking forward to listening to our newly acquired, “Quiet About It: Tribute to Jesse Winchester,” which we’ll listen to later. This cd was released in 2012. It was so very sad to learn of Jesse’s death. He was a beautiful songwriter and had such a lovely presence on stage.
My readers…I have been checking in to see what’s going on in your blogs and am enjoying all that I read. I hope to return more vigorously to my blog. I am thinking of using a new WordPress theme and perhaps when my son returns from India for a vacation in June, we’ll work on it together. He is finishing his first year of teaching in India and has one more year to go. From there who knows where he’ll go, but he’ll go. Just this morning, when we saw each other on Skype, he said he has amazing parents and he is who he is because of his upbringing. Music to my ears. As a parent, you do what you do and hope something sinks in and you don’t expect any thank yous or accolades, but my son is always giving us applause…this from a kid who didn’t like reading or writing and went to school to socialize. It’s heartwarming hearing his hopes, dreams and the absolute confidence he has in himself. He said he and his girlfriend have a 5-year plan…it’s great that they are doing all of this traveling now before children and mortgages, don’t you think? My daughter is doing well in NYC; my mom is hanging in there and for over 90 she’s doing great! My hubby recently retired, but is continuing to work at his present job 2.5 days per week…there are still bills to be paid and improvements on the home to be made and then he’ll fully retire. It’s so wonderful we live in the same town where he works. Now that the nice weather is here, I am doing my daily walks in the park and paying attention to everything I see there. I want to become what I pay attention to. Ah…now Jimmy Lafave is singing Jackson Browne’s “For Everyman,”
“Everybody’s just waiting to hear from the one
Who can give them the answers
And lead them back to that place in the warmth of the sun
Where sweet childhood still dances
Who’ll come along
And hold out that strong and gentle father’s hand?”-Jackson Browne

I remember Linda Loman telling her sons, “Attention Must Be Paid,” and I never forgot that line from Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller. Willy mattered to Linda and wanted him to matter to their boys as well despite Willy’s shortcomings. If we become what we pay attention to, perhaps we have to look further into someone to see their goodness and pay attention to that instead of all of the “what ifs,” and “what coulda beens.”

NOTE:  I had a lot of trouble printing this posting the way I usually do!!!!  I usually take my word doc and copy and paste it using the “comic sans” font and it usually looks very nice and the hyperlinks work out well, too. Well today, the print looks so plain when I paste it and none of my hyperlinks came out…I had to insert them on the blog itself. If you understand what happened, please advise…Thanks!!!!!

 

 

Takin’ A Break

“Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for.  Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.”-Maya Angelou

Haven’t posted in a few days…busy taking care of Mom…busy worrying about Mom…being a caretaker is just all-consuming. We’re just at the end of February and more snow is predicted, so, I worry about getting mom to a much-needed and important doctor appt and dental appt next week. If I could just take one day at a time and not project or go into my “What if…” scenarios!!!!!   Way back in 1970, Simon and Garfunkel’s album, Bridge Over Troubled Water was certified gold. Every song on that album is a gem! To think that I was 17 years old then, 61 now…it’s amazing how the years fly!!!!  

It Doesn’t Make Sense

           

Richard Ford, American novelist (“Canada”), was born today in Mississippi in 1944. He could’ve been talking about yesterday’s verdict in another southern state known for inequality in their treatment of African American male victims, when he once wrote, “I have a theory… that someplace at the heart of most compelling stories is something that doesn’t make sense.” My husband was born today, in 1950, in Tallahassee, Florida, but was raised in the Harlem neighborhood of NYC. When he was 12, his mom shipped him down to Florida to live with relatives for minor offenses in NY, such as skipping school. A little Caucasian girl with her mom pointed at him and said, “Mommy there’s a N____,” which offended, angered and hurt him…the next day his dog was found dead outside the front door…murdered. He was shipped back up to NYC…went to school every single day…got his BFA and MFA. My husband will never return to Florida. He’s retiring and we will continue to live in the Northeast since he loves the changing of the seasons and we also never want to be far from our children. I am the mother of an African American male and I worried about him as a teenager and young man from the moment he left the house until he returned. As many of you know, he’s living and teaching in southern India for 2 years. He mentioned that he may go visit New Delhi and I warned him that there have been incidents in New Delhi of Africans being attacked and I told him not to go. Will he listen to me?  Who knows? It’s a scary world. We raise our children and prepare them the best we know how in navigating their world and hope for the best. Jordan Davis in Florida was America’s son, America’s child and he was murdered, “…for something that doesn’t make sense.” How the jury couldn’t convict the defendant for first degree murder is incomprehensible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“How Are Things In Glocca Morra?”-Burton Lane and E.Y. Harburg

       

“When I got finished, Gershwin paid me the ultimate compliment. He said, ‘Boy, even I couldn’t do that.”-Burton Lane

Composer and lyricist, Burton Lane was born today in NYC in 1912 and he is responsible for so many beautiful songs and lyrics that may have faded, so I’m here to remind all of us! How are Things in Glocca Morra is from his play, Finian’s Rainbow, which was also a movie in 1968.  Lane also wrote one other play, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, (also made into a film in 1970) which singer Robert Goulet sang so beautifully. My dad was a big fan of Robert Goulet and he would sing that song in particular and whistle it so well. A personal favorite song of mine is from “Finian’s Rainbow,” titled: Look to the Rainbow. Burton Lane’s songs have been performed by hundreds of artists and are just as beautiful today in 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

“Write What You Know.”-Mark Twain

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”-William Wordsworth

You’ll notice that yesterday and today, I’ve just wanted to write simple poems…poems that come instantly, nothing profound. As a child, I wrote all the time; teachers loved displaying my poetry on the hallway and classroom bulletin boards; in school newsletters. Once my dad gave the Trinity Church in lower Manhattan my Laura Nyro-inspired poem, “Save the Children” and they printed it in their newsletter. (Laura’s great song, “Save the Country” had the line, “Save the Children.”) Today, before I rised, I just looked at my husband sleeping and I smiled. He’s just the nicest person I know and for over 30 years, he’s been my anchor in the most positive of ways!!!!

I wanted to just get up and write

Something meaningful; something deep

Instead I think of your eyes and how they pierce into me

I think of your gentleness and how it guides this family

I think of your steadfastness calming my nerves

I think of you…always you.

 

 

 

 

 

The Light Has Not Gone Out

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

85 years ago today in Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born. His light and his humanity continue to glow. Dr. King greatly influenced how I developed lesson plans; how I provided a safe learning environment for my students and their families; what I taught and how I taught it. Dr. King’s picture always hung in my son’s room and he took it to college with him and to his apartment in the city when he moved out and began teaching in Harlem. He regularly referred to a book he had with Dr. King’s speeches for inspiration.  Dr. King was someone we talked about in our home. I hope that his words and actions and the love he had for humanity never dim and never go out. We need them more than ever.

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday Tidbits

   

“Show rooms keep closing behind me, but I just keep moving,”-Jack Jones

I’ve been a little lazy these past few days…no excuses…just pure laziness and haven’t felt like “moving” in terms of postings. Don’t you ever feel that way?  I’ve been doing my chores and stuff like that, but just didn’t feel like writing anything. Well, today I saw that where my son lives in Tamil Nadu in India, there was a huge annual harvest celebration called Pongal, which also is like our New Year’s with “out with the old, in with the new” and our Thanksgiving celebrations.” Pongal is directly associated with the annual cycle of seasons. It not only marks the reaping of the harvest, but also the withdrawal of the southeast monsoons in southern India. As the cycle of season rings out the old and ushers in the new, so is the advent of Pongal connected with cleaning up the old, burning down rubbish, and welcoming in new crops.”- Subhamoy Das 

Another tidbit of news…the other day my friend emailed me that Chennai (the large city of Tamil Nadu) was on the NY Times list of Top 52 Places to Go in 2014!!!!!   My husband and I are not travelers. I did all of that as a much younger woman before we ever met each other.

Yet another tidbit from my life: Years ago, when I started out teaching in Brooklyn, I was placed in what was considered a “troubled” school in a depressed area of Sunset Park. The school was situated in 2 buildings where one was designated as the “Annex” and the upper elementary students in Grades 5 and 6 were in that building. This was a huge bilingual education school with a large Spanish-speaking student body. I was hired as a Cluster teacher where I went from class to class teaching Science. Now I was not a Science major nor did I have an affinity for Science. I was an Elementary School teacher and I loved music. So…after doing a Science lesson, I would teach the kids a song and they loved it. After a few months there, I did get a teaching position, but was bumped. My first few years of teaching were like that…I was excessed quite a few times, bumped from school to school until I acquired a bit of seniority. It made me flexible and adaptable. Just today, I heard from one of those teachers I had become friendly with all those years ago and perhaps we’ll stay in touch. Can’t wait to share with her our life’s experiences.

American singer, Jack Jones was born today in 1938, Happy 76th BD, Jack!  As a young girl, I just thought he was so cute. As a music lover, I so enjoyed everything he crooned. He’s still performing and moves on from venue to venue all over the world. “Mel Torme once deemed Jones “the greatest ‘pure’ singer in the world”.Steve Murray, Cabaret Sources, Jan., 2012

So, since we’re still in the promises of 2014, perhaps we can all discard any of the old and annoying things that get in our way, clutter our mind and prevent us from enjoying the simple things in life and usher in new ways of dealing with stress and problems. I don’t know…life is day to day. The Pongal Festival in India also celebrates a noted Tamil Nadu poet, Tiruvalluvar who said, “It is compassion, the most gracious of virtues, Which moves the world.” Perhaps our humanity, our compassion will see its way thru all of the muck that continues to weave in and out of the greater picture of our lives.