Just a moment

seize-the-moment

I love both of my sons, and I’m extremely proud of each, but tonight I had a “moment” with my younger son. “Moments” are few and far between now that he is a teenager.

My son Michael is a very quirky child. For the first years of his life, he was MINE. His father was always busy doing church things or football things, not bad things, good things, but things. And Michael and I spent a lot of time together.

I won’t call him a Mama’s boy. I will confess he was a Pa’s boy because when I couldn’t be with him, he spent days at my parents’ house while I was teaching. My father was retired then. He was still working when Josh was a pre-schooler. Josh was Granny’s boy.

He and Pa worked in the shop out back where my dad turned up the radio and stored all the baseball and basketball equipment. Michael drew signs and posted them. He’d work for a dollar, the sign read. I don’t know what he thought he’d make in the shop, but it was his shop and Pa’s.  It took me a long, long time to go in that shop after I lost my father. It’s very, very special.

Michael never was an easy child. He was never a bad child, but he was a busy child. No, I never had him tested for a label, but he was always moving. Before he was born, he moved. After he was born, he wouldn’t sleep. I finally had to let him sleep with me just so I could get some sleep.

But even then, he was always moving. I slept in a big bed, and though I placed pillows as a barrier, Michael, as a tiny baby, rolled out of bed almost every night. I was alarmed the first dozen times, and finally I just threw him back in and caught what few winks I could get.

When I took him to have his picture made at Walmart, I made Josh come along too. Brothers, you know. The lady photographer gave  Michael, who was about two at the time, a ball to hold. As soon as she prepared to snap the shot, Michael threw the ball at her. It was funny at first. Not so much the next 15 times. Josh cried. I almost cried. I think the lady photographer cried. Not Michael. He was grinning with a gleam in his eye.

Michael also took to throwing his pacifier. His prime target? My father as he slept on the couch. Michael would stand in his playpen and aim for my dad and catch him—boom, between the eyes every time.

To my dad, Michael was his playmate. My dad bought him a Looney Tunes toy guitar, and he videotaped Michael singing nonsensical lyrics and dancing a jig while strumming the guitar. The video is still around somewhere. He bought Michael a toy microphone that amplified his voice. He played the French harp, and Michael danced and sang.

And boy did he dance—on the baseball field, on the soccer field, on the football field, on the basketball court. He had rhythm and knew how to use it. There is a rhythm to sports, you know. And because Michael was for years in the 1 percentile of his age group in terms of height and weight, he had to work extra hard to compete with his peers.

When he was four, he was so tiny that the monster players on the rec league basketball team were in shock when Michael sneaked under their noses and stole their ball. He hung on to it too like a Chihuahua verses a pitbull vying for a rawhide bone. And on the baseball field at the short stop position, Michael danced to a beat no one else could hear. He didn’t realize it himself, but my dad and I sat in the bleachers and laughed. Those were special times, watching Michael be Michael.

And Michael had this extremely odd fascination with numbers when he was a baby. He was very, very slow to talk and didn’t until he was well past two. I worried that he had a hearing problem, and one of his doctors suggested he might because his ear drum wasn’t vibrating as it should.

His first word was ball, but his first verbal game was Show Me the Number. Before he could talk he knew his numbers, so when we were out and about I kept him busy by asking him to find a certain number on the sales sign on clothing racks. Later, I made up simple algebraic equations for him to solve. He begged me over and over and over for another one. I thought it was a good sign, his interest in math. But, not so much now. Math became difficult for him. I always thought good math students were inclined to be the best musicians. I hoped he would love math. Not so much.

And I hoped the Bell—Hanson music gene had been passed down to him.

Although the Bell cousins don’t get together as often as we used to as children, we ALL have this music gene. All of us. I think we all have guitars. Some of us have pianos. And we write. And we draw and paint. That’s who we are. All of us. I used to think I had “the gift.” Now I realize I am not unique. We all have “the gift,” and others in my family are much better than I.

Josh and I took piano together when he was in elementary school, and later on he played trumpet in the junior high band. While in high school, he picked up the guitar and could play some decent chords. He makes films now. He’s still an artist and works with music and musicians. He has the music in him too.

Michael, however, has his own rhythm. I can feel it.

One day it hit me that he needed to at least TRY playing drums, so off to find a teacher we went.  Not surprisingly, he is decent teen drummer today. He is not the best. He is not the worst. He does not practice as he should.

But tonight Michael and I had “a moment.” After his regular drum lessons, Michael saw a keyboard, and being the monkey that he is, he had to touch it. Then he had to make noises on it. LOUD NOISES. And he had to make fun of some of the songs programmed on it. He laughed at the music, but I saw the look on his face. I understood it because I had that look once. He couldn’t NOT touch the keyboard.

Most people wouldn’t catch that look, but I saw the light bulb go off in his head. The connection had been made. The keyboard intrigued him, and it was déjà vu all over again, just like the times when he could be couldn’t stand still while playing short stop. He had to dance, this time in his mind, and his thoughts whirled with the possibilities of what a keyboard player could do in a band.

And although he is a conundrum, loving attention and hiding from it at the same time, the keyboard held a magnetic attraction for him.

And as soon as we walked in the door to our house, we sat down at my piano, and he attacked the keys in a middle-school “I don’t want to look dumb by accident so I’ll act stupid on purpose” fashion. But he settled long enough for me to show him how to play a simple C scale, how to make chords, how to improvise a song.

And within minutes he could name the notes, play several chords, and slip his thumb under his finger so that he could play all eight notes in the scale fluidly. And we sat there TOGETHER playing for a long time.

And he never complained. And he started composing his own melodies. And he smiled. And we laughed. And it felt like he was MY BOY again before he became my teenager.

The moment became “a special moment” because it made me think of Father’s Day 2011. On this day my dad asked me to play guitar while he played the French Harp. I played all the songs he remembered me playing when I was a little girl. A little Jimmie Rodgers and my signature “Under the Double Eagle,” which I have to play at every Bell shindig. There is music at every Bell shindig.

But that day, for my dad, we had “a moment.” It was our last Father’s Day.

It’s been a long time since I’ve shared “a moment” with anyone. It’s hard to get up each day. The chorus keeps repeating, and I can’t change verses despite how hard as I try.  Often I feel as though people I care about give up on me because I’ve given up on me.

But  tonight my “moment” with Michael gave me one more reason to turn the page to Thursday.

WORDS OF WISDOM
“I held a moment in my hand, brilliant as a star, fragile as a flower, a tiny sliver of one hour. I dripped it carelessly, Ah! I didn’t know, I held opportunity.”  ~  Hazel Lee

MUSIC NOTES
I can’t walk through life facing backwards / I have tried / I tried more than once to just make sure / And I was denied the future I’d been searching for / But I spun around and hurt no more / By living in the moment / Living my life / Easy and breezy / With peace in my mind / I got peace in my heart / Got peace in my soul / Wherever I’m going, I’m already home ~ Jason Mraz, “Living in the Moment”

LOOK AND SEE CYBER SERENDIPITEE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngNCfRgW6Vk

FINAL THOUGHT

Live-for-Each-Moment

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Confessions of a RomCom addict

FAIRY TALE

My name is Teresa, and I am a RomCom addict.

I can’t deny it. Given the opportunity to camp out in front of the TV for a night, I’ll choose a romantic comedy over an action movie anytime. Why? Because the romantic comedy is a concrete manifestation of who I want to be and how I want my life to be.

If we take a closer look at why we like certain genres of fiction, we can learn a little more about ourselves–and others. It’s kind of like taking a personality analysis, like the Briggs-Myers or Jung Typology.  But analyzing our movie choices allows us to SEE a picture of the parts of ourselves–and others. And, I do have an annoying, yet undeniable, habit of analyzing just about everyone I meet.

It comes with the occupation–teaching. It’s not that I face the enemy each day. It’s not that I am on a seek and destroy mission. But if I can get into the heads of the people I work with and figure out what makes them tick, then I can overcome the obstacles between us, nip problems in the bud, as Barney Fife would say. The objective is to work together, not in opposition. I also learn more about me and why I do what I do.

But I digress. My mission here is to confess my attraction to romantic comedies and to explain why I am drawn to them like a bug to a light.

SERENDIPITY

Basically, the most alluring element of romantic comedies is that they spotlight the yearning created when we find ourselves in one place while wanting to be somewhere else. Take the case the case of Jonathan Trager and Sara Thomas in the movie Serendipity, my all-time favorite movie and inspiration for this blog.

For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, Jonathan and Sara meet by accident and realize they are somehow cosmically connected. However, their meeting seems to headed for a dead end. They both belong somewhere else and to someone else. However, they challenge fate. Sara writes her name inside a book, and Jonathan writes his name on a $5 bill. They send these items “out into the Universe” to see if destiny brings them back together again.

And not to be a spoiler here, but obviously they do but not without plenty of obstacles.

Wouldn’t it be great to know if we want something badly enough it will happen, even if obstacles are involved? If we want something badly enough, we’re willing to take on a few obstacles. Right?

Everybody has dreams that don’t come true. Every little boy doesn’t grow up to be a professional football player, and every little girl doesn’t grow up to become Homecoming Queen. RomComs take care of that little detail. Every RomCom has the happy ending that real life doesn’t provide.

LEAP YEAR

Another reason why I like a good RomCom is because the main character is usually a quirky, yet likeable, female who is on mission. No matter how hard she tries to make a smooth journey, she always finds herself in an awkward predicament. Take for instance Anna Brady in Leap Year. Anna has been waiting forever for Jeremy, her cardiologist boyfriend, to propose. When he doesn’t, not even on Valentine’s Day, she decides to take matters into her own hands. When she hears of an Irish custom that guarantees marriage if a woman proposes to a man on February 29, Leap Day,  Anna travels to Dublin, Ireland, to propose to Jeremy, who’s there on a business trip.

Anna’s travel plans run awry when she can’t get where she wants to go due to inclement weather. Her plane lands in Wales, and she has to take a boat to Dingle, where she wanders into the only restaurant in town. She finds herself at the mercy of Declan, whom she pays to drive her to Dublin. Although Anna tries her best to maintain control of every detail in her life, nothing goes right. Complicated turns to comedic. She loses her Louis Vuitton luggage, breaks the heel of her expensive pumps, tries to herd a herd of cows, and feigns marriage to Declan so that he and she can secure the only remaining room at a quaint little inn.

The point is, when everything goes wrong, everything turns out right for Anna. Her mission to marry the wrong man fails, and she falls in love with the guy who drives her crazy. She lives through rejection. She acts like an “idjit.” She falls apart, but she gets everything she ever needed, even though at the time she doesn’t know what she really wants.

I think Declan sums it up best when he says to Anna, “Why don’t you stop trying to control everything in the known universe. It’s dinner. Have a little faith that it will all work out.”

I think we all have a desperate need for IT to work out,–whatever IT is. Oh, to have the comfort of knowing, yes, life will work out.

AUGUST RUSH

My third favorite movie is August Rush, though some people may identify it more as a Chick Flick than a RomCom. Whatever you call it, I like it. It’s a movie that ends with a rhapsody. And in case you aren’t into music theory, a rhapsody is “a musical composition of irregular form having an improvisatory character.” Is that what life is? A composition with irregularities and improvisations?

The premise goes like this. Lyla is an accomplished cellist. Louis is a guitarist and vocalist of The Connelly Brothers, an Irish rock band. Succumbing to their mutual attraction, they spend the night together, but then their lives are interrupted. They go their separate ways, and Lyla finds out she’s pregnant. Before giving birth, she is involved in an accident, and the baby comes early, only to whisked away by Lyla’s father, who puts him up for adoption. The boy, a.k.a Evan, ends up living in an orphanage the first eleven years of his life, but he has something spectacular about him. He can hear music EVERYWHERE.

Led by a spirit of “knowing he will find his parents,” he goes on search for them. He follows the music. A street busker finds him and exploits his talents for cash. Evan becomes August Rush. Again, driven by his passion, August follows the music and finds himself at Julliard, where the people take note of his savant abilities and nonconformist methods and enroll him as a student.

His work is so grand his work is chosen to be played by the Philharmonic at Central Park. Coincidentally, Lyla too will play there that same night, and Louis shows up as well.

Louis and Lyla follow the music and find Evan. The family is reunited.

This RomCom isn’t like the others. The lead character isn’t a quirky, female. But there is a happy ending. Love prevails.

And that is the real message behind RomCom–love prevails.

No matter how ridiculous life can be, love prevails.

No matter how many obstacles and hurts a person has to go through, love prevails.

No matter how confused the lead character may be about what she wants in life, love prevails.

Love prevails. And in the case of August Rush, music leads the way.

Come on now. How could I not fall for a good RomCom?

Real life, however, is not always a RomCom. Any given day, it could be a action-adventure or a thriller or even a horror story. Just turn on the news. There’s your proof.

As for me, I will continue to play the quirky, clutzy, sometimes overly optimistic, sometimes doomsday pessimistic, spastic female on a mission. And I will go where the music takes me and wait for love to prevail.

WORDS OF WISDOM
[Love} always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

MUSIC NOTES
I don’t wanna wait in vain for your love;  / I don’t wanna wait in vain for your love. / From the very first time I rest my eyes on you, girl, / My heart says follow t’rough. / But I know, now, that I’m way down on your line, / But the waitin’ feel is fine ~ Bob Marley from the movie Serendipity

Sweet dreams till sunbeams find you / Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you / But in your dreams whatever they be / Dream a little dream of me ~ Ella Fitzgerald from the movie Leap Year

Well, it’s a marvelous night for a moondance / With the stars up above in your eyes / A fantabulous night to make romance / Neath the cover of October skies ~ Van Morrison from the movie August Rush

LOOK AND SEE CYBER SERENDIPITEE
www.youtube.com/watch?v=mARCRguuCrk

FINAL THOUGHT

Happy-Ending-Quote-192x179

 

When I meet the sunrise

Coffee date with ME alone. No sweet stuff, just coffee, and no Fido's. Some day, some day. Soon!

Coffee date with ME alone. No sweet stuff, just coffee, and no Fido’s. Some day, some day. Soon!

I was up before dawn this morning because I had so much to do to prepare for my job today. I needed three bags of ice, so I hit the road to Walmart and treated myself to a mocha this morning. It was Homecoming Day at school. I knew I wouldn’t eat lunch today, so I rationalized the Weight Watcher points. (Oh, how I wish life were like Whose Line Is It, Anyway—“the points don’t matter.”)

Weight Watchers, thank you. Because of you, I did not give into the pizza, wings, burgers, shakes, nachos, ah nachos. Chips. Salsa. Chips and salsa–the BEST food in the world.

And so with my goal in mind, I arrived at work super early, ready to work. And even though I didn’t have a moment to rest, the short drive to my destinations, along with a hot beverage, made up for the rest of the day.

There is something special about a sunrise and a cup of coffee.

Being the Romantic I am, I have plenty to say about the other hours of a day.

Twilight is a favorite too. And midnight of course. On a clear night the stars enchant me, and I can spend an eternity thinking about eternity as I star gaze. When I see a shooting star, I make a wish. I always make a wish. I always believe they come true.

And the wee hours around three or four, the spooky hours, I like to write. When I’m on summer break, I don’t sleep at night. I stay up all hours so I can be alone and think my best thoughts. I finally fall asleep. Just before sunrise. And I sleep as long as I like.

When it’s a normal work day, however, when I have to cut through the path of resistance and battle the alarm clock to make my body move on a wee bit of sleep, I like to find myself in my car driving before the sun comes up. Like this morning.

As I headed toward Monteagle, I watched the sky turn orange as the sun peeked over the mountain. I felt as though the other drivers and I shared something special. I can’t quite verbalize it. But “it” was there—the peace, the calm, the beauty, the newness of a day.

Sunrise reminds me of a snowfall before anyone has had a chance to tread on the freshly spread blanket. It’s beautiful and pure and honest.

I guess that’s what I like about sunrise. For a moment, nothing has had the opportunity to spoil it.

Sunrise is temporal like our time on earth. Like those special moments that God gives us that only we can ponder in awe and gratitude. Ironically temporal also means secular, or the opposite of the spiritual. I disagree with this usage. Sunrise, to me, is quite spiritual.

Maybe that special feeling I get during a sunrise is because that is when I can feel God nearest, without the distractions of work, fear, anxiety, etc.

I don’t think I can write during a sunrise. I think I had better leave my writing to the wee hours or on Saturday afternoons in coffee shops where I can be a stranger.

And write I must. NaNoWriMo (National Write a Novel in a Month) is just around the corner—November. I told myself NEVER EVER would I do this again. NaNoWriMo just about killed me a couple of years ago. But the result made me a finalist in the ACFW Genesis contest.

So here I am again. And thanks to MTCW, I have been preparing for it. The plan for Saturday’s coffee shop date with myself? A mental trip to the setting of the new book. (I spent this evening watching a show on the History Channel, which serendipitously may have provided some background for my story. Who would have thought the Knights Templar and Prince Henry Sinclair would have found a place in my contemporary thriller. Oh, I know I’m not the first. But I may be the first to take the story in this direction.)

And here it is after one, in the morning. And I have to be up early. I will miss sunrise. Maybe I can find another special time in the day to find that spiritual place I’m looking for.

Oh, and the coffee date with myself. I hope I don’t get stood up.

TODAY’S CHALLENGE
Think about your special time of day? When is it? Why? If you don’t have one, why not choose one? When do you write? Why do you choose this particular time?

WORDS OF WISDOM
Be still, and know that I am God.
~ Psalm 46:10

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing….
~T.S. Eliot

MUSIC NOTES
I feel the love / I feel the love / I feel the love that’s really real
I feel the love / I feel the love / I feel the love that’s really real
I’m on sunshine baby oh
I’m on sunshine baby oh
I’m walking on sunshine wooah
~ Katrina and the Waves

LOOK AND SEE CYBER SERENDIPITEE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7pEg3KXNcs

FINAL THOUGHT

who-can-see-the-beauty-in-a-sunrise-or-sunset-without-feeling-the-awesomeness-of-it-in-their-heart-nature-quote

The Trouble with Cats

Stevie Cool Cat

I have a cat, or maybe he has me.

The problem with this cat is I don’t know what to do with him. I’m an animal lover. I used to own horses, and I have three dogs. But you see, the trouble with cats is that they aren’t like other animals.

You cannot control a cat.

Ever since we moved into the neighborhood, my family would not allow me to own a cat. But then one day this kitten showed up. And he sat on the tire of our big truck. I thought he was an angel in disguise.

Our neighborhood is full of dogs, big dogs–big, cat-eating dogs–and when this kitten showed up, I believed in my heart of hearts there had to be a reason.

I made him—pardon the expression—a cat house on my front porch, and I stuffed it with straw. I bought him a feeding dish and food and tried to make him really comfortable. And he stuck around.

Eventually, I invited him in, and for months we sat together in my sunroom, enjoying one another’s company. He was perfect, everything I had been looking for in a cat. Totally low maintenance. He had no litter box. He asked to go outside, and he asked to come back inside.

How cool is that?

But one day he didn’t come back. And I waited. And I waited. And I waited. I realized this cat was not my pet. This cat was my companion. I loved that cat, and my heart sunk when I couldn’t find him.

And then one day, for no reason, he showed back up. Good old Stevie Ray pawed at my backdoor, and I let him in.

I knew he would be back. I loved him.

And so he stuck around—for a while. But then he left again, this time for a long time. My family consoled me and hinted that I would probably never see him again, but I had a feeling I would. And I did.

Six months later.

This time when he came back, I had the vet look him over, catch him up on his vaccinations—and surgically take care of “things.”

And for the first time ever, Stevie Ray became a permanent resident in my house. I bought him a litter box, and I closed the door and issued the warning—no more roaming around.

But now I have regrets. I know a responsible pet own should take ownership of the animal and make sure it doesn’t produce litters that may suffer abuse, starvation, or neglect. I did that. But I also don’t want him bothering  the neighbors, but Stevie Ray isn’t like other animals. He isn’t a pet. He is Stevie Ray.

I feel so bad that I’ve taken away his freedom. Surely, you have heard of this old saying: If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you, it’s yours forever. If it doesn’t come back, it never was.

Well, I think that saying is stupid.

But I can’t stand to see Stevie cooped up. But if I let him out, the dogs might get him. The cars might hit him. The kids in the neighborhood might torment him. I love him. I want to protect him.

I sound like his mother. I have to remember I am just his human being.

Over the weekend, I went to see the closing production of The Trouble with Cats, a comedy directed by my childhood friend. I couldn’t miss it. And I’m so glad I went. The cast—and director—did a great job. It was hilarious. But now that the play has closed, I can give a spoiler alert.

I couldn’t find one cat in the play. Not one—or was there?

Cats are mysterious animals. They always do their own thing. They seem to know what we’re thinking, but they can and will deliberately do the opposite of our wishes should it so please them.

And so, here I am. I feel like Phoebe from friends singing “Smelly Cat.” Please, if you will, join in on the chorus.

What’s a cat companion to do?

Dogs are so much easier. They sit. They stay. They speak. Sometimes they beg. And the sweet ones like my Lacy, shake hands and give hugs, well as much as a dog can give a hug.

But what do I do about this cat, who, at this moment, is perched on the sofa beside me, meowing and kneading? I spoke too soon. Now he has moved to my computer. I think he’s reading my words. I wonder if he approves.

Stevie hates the confinement, not all the time, but sometimes, and sabotages the litter box and its surroundings. Otherwise he seems to be happy. And I’m happy. I love this cat. But Stevie is a gypsy, a traveler. Can I really keep him confined? I don’t think it should matter if I’m happy. I don’t own this cat. A human being can’t own a cat.

TODAY’S CHALLENGE
Do I open the door and let him roam, or do I keep him safe with me? Think artistically for a moment. If you had to be one or the other, which would you be—a cat or a dog? If you’re a cat, what’s your advice concerning your fellow feline? If you’re a dog, what’s your advice concerning the cat?

Or you can just be the human being you are and tell me– WHAT SHOULD I DO ABOUT THE CAT?

WORDS OF WISDOM
Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened. ~ Anatole France

LOOK AND SEE CYBER SERENDIPITEE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7jlGRq8xZ4

FINAL THOUGHTS

Music and cats