From the day we are born, music is in our lives. From the first lullaby we hear to the music in numerous mobiles, Fisher Price toys to children’s TV shows and songs we learn to sing in school, music is in our lives.
Whether or not we ever learn to sing or play an instrument, music is a part of us. It intertwines with our soul more and more with each passing year. Dick Clark said “Music is the soundtrack to life” and this couldn’t be more true. Certain songs can trigger a memory – you know exactly where you were on what date, at what time by just hearing the first few notes.
When you think about the power of music, it’s quite an overwhelming thing. It can trigger emotions, songs can make you cry, songs can make you laugh, songs can make you want to celebrate and party just as much as they can make you reflective or nostalgic – and they don’t even necessarily have to be songs with lyrics. An orchestral piece can be so majestic, it can make you feel something. Or a single instrument like a soulful violin, a moody saxophone, a jazzy piano, a rhythmic drum or a strumming guitar can transport you to certain places and times, like nothing else.
I don’t know if you’ve ever done this, but when walking through a store that has keyboards or any other instrument, even if you don’t know how to play, it’s very tempting to play a note or two. Music draws us in, no matter how or where… you can hear music faint in the background somewhere…someone’s radio or TV and automatically tune into what you’re hearing.
Music is something we enjoy while we’re working out or while we’re doing domestic chores and especially while we’re driving on the highway, it helps us pass the time. We can hum, whistle and sing tap an object or clank a glass and make our own music no matter where we are or what we are doing.
Have you ever felt tired or lacked motivation and suddenly felt a second wind of energy because of hearing music? If we understand its affect on us, we can appreciate it more when we hear it.
Music is also healing and therapeutic. It can help us relax, feel comfort, mediate and also motivate us to get well, helping us through physical therapy to recover from injury. How many times have you been in a horrible mood, but it’s been changed because of music?
The best music is the music which makes us feel connected and alive. It can change how we feel about life and ourselves in a positive way. It can connect us with others (all generations) who appreciate the same genres of music or certain artists… and it is the language that translates every culture.
Have you ever stopped to take in an Olympic ceremony? From the proud anthems of all countries, to the opening and closing ceremonies, music is there. Have you ever looked at a wedding or a funeral or a parade or recital? Music is there. We sometimes underestimate the power of music and take for granted how many different ways music is in our lives and how it can change one.
Perhaps we need to literally take note of how music can and will be something that documents history, creates a mystery, benchmarks a moment and moves us toward our own groove in life and through it.
In the words of artist Shannon, “Let the Music Play…”
Food. Grub. Chow. Eats. These are perhaps most universally devoured four letter words we have. And when we think about food – it’s a topic that everyone can contribute to. It’s something that can make you feel nostalgic about home, childhood and family. Food also provides the perfect platform for gatherings, parties and friends. It is something we use to celebrate life and it is also something we use to comfort in death.
Food is also something we tend to forget when we think about creating peace. A casserole or cookies can make peace in a neighborhood – calling a truce with a disgruntled neighbor or starting off on the right foot welcoming a new one. Pizza can bring together winning and losing sports teams. And a well-prepared feast can unite distant and dysfunctional families. A box of chocolates can mend a broken heart or make one go-a-flutter. And a sandwich split in two may make a new friend at elementary school with a kid who forgot his lunch.
When you look at world peace four big essentials come to mind: 1) A smile for everyone 2) Happy music 3) Laughter 4) Delicious food
Think about these four basics as the common denominator for peace. And then think about what these four things these have in common…. ONE mouth.
If the mouth was smiling, singing a song, laughing joyfully and eating food – there would be no time for argument, no time for shouting, yelling, saying other four letter words that are offensive, or talking about the other taboo four topics: religion, politics, war and money that seem to put everyone in a place that is not so peaceful.
Food happens to be the thing that feeds our soul, not just our hunger, when we choose to ‘break bread’ with others and celebrate the moments that food brings to the table.
For every moment in life, food is there. Even when there isn’t much food to be had, it can unite people together, sharing in what is there. If we took time to look at food as a tool for creating happiness rather than just something we shove in our mouths, I think we would see that our own plates would be stacked with an overwhelming abundance of beautiful moments to savor. Let’s eat up these words and apply them to our daily lives. Perhaps this recipe will be passed on and we can all feast on this kind of soul food.
They say that imitation (copying) is the sincerest form of flattery. I say it’s chicken, cowardly and unoriginal.
WHY is everyone so afraid to be different?! What’s so wrong with being different? I think being different is beyond being unique, it’s about being imaginative, strong, aware, having self-esteem to dare to be yourself, NOT like somebody else. Yet so many people try to be ‘the same.’
The world is full of a lot of sheep. How boring is that?!
Standing out and being different takes guts. It says “Hey, I am me – and you either like me or you don’t.” And either way, that’s okay. I think if more people took the time to celebrate themselves AS THEY ARE and there was more self-acceptance, the world would be a more beautiful place. The world would probably be filled with more love, peace, tolerance and understanding. There wouldn’t be anyone trying to ‘one-up’ … instead there would be mutual respect to live and let live and be and let be.
I also believe that being different has more perks than being like everyone else. And this is something that kids today should learn and understand. Instead of vying to have the same shoes as everyone else in class in order to be thought of as hip or cool, there should be more emphasis and focus on the person IN THE SHOES, and the path they are walking as themselves.
Afterall, we are all unique, there are no two people exactly alike (even twins)… we have our own personalities, our own quirks our own tastes, our own thoughts, and every experience we have is our own - so why the heck isn’t THAT celebrated instead?
If we spent more time celebrating our differences instead of tearing down what is different, the world would be a much better place.
Be different. Be unique. Be yourself. Because in my eyes, that’s the most beautiful thing you can be.
Today isn’t raining. But I saw some people walking with umbrellas. It’s not overly hot or sunny, so it wasn’t necessarily to give them shade. It is breezy, but not so much you’d want to protect yourself with an umbrella from the wind. I’m not exactly sure why these people were walking with umbrellas. But I had to ask myself if it was because they were putting it out to the Universe, that they were hoping for rain.
While we’re having quite the drought in California and we definitely could use some of the rain that the East Coast is getting, I know that I have heard more than once in the last several weeks, the desire to have a rainy day. We got close… we had a couple of marine-layer overcast days. But it didn’t rain.
I look at rain as a sign of good things to come, a cleansing of sorts not just for the psyche and spirit, but for the Earth as well. I have two significant stories in my life revolving around rain. Rain taught me some amazing things and it is because of rain, I have been blessed with a cloudburst of beautiful life lessons.
Flashback to El Nino….two significant things happened.
During El Nino 1997-1998 – rain hit pretty hard. And while I was more fortunate than most, I did have a lot of damage. I was also sick with Pneumonia, my mother was in a nursing home struggling with Alzheimer’s Disease and recovering from breast cancer, my father had passed, I had two friends who just died, work was slowing down and I had a leak in my kitchen. I sat there with a 103 degree fever in my pajamas with pots and pans all over my kitchen- catching streams, I couldn’t have been more miserable. My garage was attached to a back alley where the windows looked out to the West. When it wasn’t raining, I could see the sun conclude each day, as it would set in the L.A. smog. It was also in this back alley I became familiar with someone I affectionately called, “Vogue Man.”
Vogue Man would always wave “hello” and “goodbye” to me as I would enter or exit my garage in the back alley during all my comings and goings. Sometimes when he was feeling playful, he would jump out in the middle of the alley and leap on the hood of my car to scare me and laugh endlessly at my expense of horror.
One day, I saw Vogue Man at the grocery store. I said ‘hello.’ He stopped his shopping cart to acknowledge me. When I asked him how he was –he shyly smiled and quickly darted his cart away, never speaking, just smiling. I happened to get a quick glance at his cart – filled with Jack Daniels, a carton of cigarettes and a jumbo pink box of éclairs. From all indications, life must’ve been pretty bad… but was THIS how he got through life… it was his shopping cart, his party and he owned it.
I do not know Vogue Man’s real name. All I know is that he was elderly, lived alone and drove an old white truck. And every single day – he would indulge in his sinful habit of coming out in his baby blue polyester smoking pants, put his foot up on the front of his brick fence and ‘strike a pose’ as he lit a cigarette to take in his morning ‘smoke.’ This was a ritual…one where he had basked in the beginning or end of his day to just enjoy a peaceful moment while being outside.
Well, back to my rainy, crappy day sick and on my kitchen floor catching drips… I was watching the rain downpour. I felt sorry for my planter boxes. All my flowers were drowning. And as I got a little closer to take a peek at the flooded balconies, I looked further out the window. To my surprise… I got a life lesson amidst my day of misery.
In the alley, with the garage open, wind blowing and rain pounding – I saw Vogue Man. But he was NOT wearing his light blue polyester smoking pants! He was dancing outside, frolicking in the rain wearing brand new khaki Dockers. Vogue Man had new pants! He was happy, celebrating life, in his victorious way. He did not care that he was getting rained on. He was merely celebrating… ‘the moment.’ And this moment was his alone and no rain could take that away from him or his new pants.
I tapped on the window to get his attention. He looked up at me and smiled. I gave him a ‘thumbs up’ and smiled back and he returned the gesture and continued to dance and spin in the rain. This moment was a priceless gift and a life lesson. And I filed it away in my mind and heart.
The next week, I was glad to be healthy again and the leaks in my roof were temporarily patched. And they were ‘holding’ in the kitchen. Exhausted from all the drama, I was happy to have my first ‘good night’s sleep’ in a long time.
And just as my alarm went off… I felt a drip on my nose. I looked up… my bedroom ceiling was now leaking. Ah … fantastic, just what I needed.
Karen Carpenter put it best ‘rainy days and Mondays always get me down.’ Well this day happened to be a Monday AND El Nino was hitting, I had a new leak. And though I was being ‘spiritual’ thinking of Vogue Man’s lesson to ‘celebrate the moment’ – I was going to celebrate this as one more thing that didn’t kill me, but made me stronger. LOL
A couple of weeks prior to this rainy Monday – I had initiated correspondence with the head of a women’s business organization. It was part of the business ‘networking’ thing I was determined to do once I made a commitment to live in Los Angeles permanently. And I admit I was pretty persistent about it. This woman agreed to meet with me in person. And we had scheduled the meeting for this particular Monday and we were to meet for breakfast.
I was feeling sloth-like…(weeks of fatigue catching up with me) and even though I had a good night’s sleep, who could blame me for feeling like I did not want to get up out of bed, just to be in the middle of rush hour traffic to drive through flooded streets in this hardcore downpour of a rainstorm BEFORE breakfast?! Gads! Though, I was really, really wanting to meet this woman that I had spent time trying to network with.
But when I called to see if ‘the breakfast meeting was still on’ – to my shock, her words of strength, her attitude and demeanor were beyond what I was expecting her to say as she said “Oh it’s just a little rain – wear a raincoat, bring an umbrella – you have to eat anyway!”
So I dragged myself and put Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” voice in my head “Tumble out of bed and stumble to the kitchen, pour myself a cup of ambition and yawn and stretch and try to come to life – jump in the shower and the blood starts pumpin,’ out on the streets and traffic starts jumpin….”
And then I arrived at our breakfast destination dripping but smiling. I saw her and we both shook off the water like ducks and started to chat.
Immediately when I met her – I was glued to her energy. She was vibrant and very generous with her conversation and thoughts. It was a great meeting. But business got quickly pushed aside and the conversation got personal – the connection was very psychic and her offerings seemed to be from the Heavens. It was like she was ‘the messenger’ of something very important she had to tell me.
She shared a story about her life, which I will not share here – as that is personal. But she was struggling during a very difficult period in her life. Her life was very stressful, her world filled with chaos, drama and very emotionally taxing times. She said that every day she would run around harried and frantic, just trying to cope.
The gift came from a homeless woman who managed to scrounge up a soup can. The label was torn off of it. Earth’s great soil placed inside and propagation of a plant of some kind taking place. There was a very long, scraggly vine sans leaves, very long, windy, twisty – similar to a life’s journey. And on the very end of it a tiny flower with a yellow center and small, delicate white petals. No other blooms were in sight at all… just this one little, tiny bloom at the end of this homely, leafless vine. And with it came a note that said “If this little flower can make it, so can you!”
She shared this story with me. WOW – it was pure euphoria, epiphanies, revelations and a whole truckload full of feelings that were awakened inside me as I heard this story.
And the rainy season of El Nino made a huge difference in my life. One I’ll never forget. Between flower power over breakfast and Vogue Man dancing in the rain, I changed my outlook on life and haven’t turned back. So many things evolved from this.
This is what got me interested in plants once again….digging my hands in soil, being at one with the Earth and needing to do that to feel Zen in harried times. It inspired me to write my First Grade elementary school teacher and thank her for teaching me about propagation in the first grade. It inspired me to take a Hip Hop dance class at my gym and reinvigorate movement in my life and letting my body be an extension of my expression. And yes, even I must occasionally update my wardrobe rain or shine for my spirit.
These two events reminded me… that will is stronger than anything, and nurturing one’s own garden in life (even if completely drenched)… will encourage growth no matter how challenged the conditions.
In the words written by John Fogerty for Creedence Clearwater Revival… I want to know… “Have you ever seen the rain?”
Breathing. It’s essential for life on earth. People, animals and plants all need to breathe. Without the breath of life, there would be no life.
While the whole planet is focusing on a greener earth, eliminating air pollution and creating clearer air, no C02s…. it makes me question WHY we are still having to deal with pollution at all if everyone knows it’s bad for us. Is it laziness? Too much financial greed? It’s certainly not for the lack of research, technology, science…. All signs point to how horrible NOT having clean air can be. So why isn’t this already resolved?
Perhaps it is too confrontational. You know, like having a disease and not going to the doctor for fear of knowing what problems exist and not wanting to know what is going to happen. But the bottom-line is that we all know what is going to happen if we don’t have clean air to breathe.
This brings me to the idea that ‘clearing the air’ is like a giant elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about, much like ‘clearing the air’ for misunderstandings, misinformation, everyday issues that no one wants to face….with honesty in the face.
Whether it’s an old family argument, a friendship or relationship gone awry, a work situation that is dysfunctional and toxic… most people will spend more time complaining and griping about something than taking the time to ‘clear the air’ of the issue at hand. Is it fear for not wanting to step out of the comfort zone to discuss something? Is this emotional baggage? Again, is it laziness, the lack of communication skills/tools to resolve something? Is it denial?.... hoping something will ‘JUST GO AWAY?’
Frankly, I am exhausted of the ‘excuses’ people seem to come up with for WHY something isn’t being resolved, addressed or rectified. Life is far too short to sweep crap under the rug and hoping for resolution without taking the steps. And this goes for the environment and the air we breathe just as much as it does for dysfunctional communications/interactions with people in your life and not clearing the communication air of negativity between you.
The only way to breathe deeply and cleanly in life is to take responsibility for your actions (or lack of), your words, your feelings and DO SOMETHING to make positive changes. Whether it’s doing our part to do the green thing, or doing our part to resolve negative feelings, it’s a change we all need to make to improve the air around us and between us.