Dear String Bass

The bass, no matter what kind of music you are playing, it just enhances the sound and makes everything sound more beautiful and full. When the bass stops, the bottom kind of drops out of everything.

Charlie Haden

Dear String Bass,

You weren’t my first love;
that was the piano,
but you quickly became
my forever love.

I met you in the 9th grade
as a blind date because I was expecting the cello –
the instrument I had requested.
I was destined for another;
I was destined for you.

As a shy teenager, you made me stand out.
It was scary at first, but as I supported you on my leg,
you supported me In ways beyond my imagination.

You helped me grow as a musician,
as a person, as myself.

We spent so many hours together
practicing in the basement of the music wing.
I would play my scales and pieces
over and over until there were calluses on my fingers,
and my arm tired of pulling the bow across the strings.

I wanted to be good, but you called me to be better.
I became section leader, and
you gave me the courage to audtion for All-City Orchestra,
You came with me to The Academy of Music, and
as the curtain went up and
I played those first notes with the string ensemble
you calmed my nerves with the familiar feel
of your strong strings and your melodious deep voice.
I can remember it like it was yesterday.

You came with me to college as I started my studies
to become a music teacher.
Then we ventured into the world of parish music ministry.
We played for Sunday Mass, wedding, funerals,
and other special occasions.

We had a good run.

You gave me over 30 years
of your steadfast presence and so many musical memories.
Then it became harder for me to make you sing.
Arthritis and other ailments made it difficult –
difficult to stand and support you –
difficult to hold down your thick strings –
difficult to carry you from place to place.

But that’s OK.
I’m ready to let you go.
I want you to know that I will always be grateful
for the world you opened up to me –
for teaching me to love Bach, & Hayden
Handel & Mozart.

Maybe it’s time for me to really let you go –
to free you from your place next to the piano –
to pass you to the next musician
who can give life to your voice once more.

Love you always,
Rita

This poem was inspired by “Dear Basketball” by Kobe Bryant. I was reminded of his poem while participating in the 5-Day Poetry Challenge on ethicalela.com

Lost & Found

Mostly it is loss which teaches us about the worth of things.

HPLYRIKZ.com
#SOL20

What I Have Lost
I have lost that “normal” feeling.
The feeling of having just a few
aches and pains.

I have lost my ability
to walk long distances,
to stand in one place,
energy, and
a clear thinking brain.

I have lost the ability
to plan trips that require
walking….because
my legs and hips
may not hold up.

I have lost these
to fibromyalgia
and spinal stenosis –
ailments no one can see.

Yet,
I am hopeful
that I will find them
again one day.

That,
little by little,
baby steps,
exercising my body & mind
selfcare & prayer
will bring me back
my joy.

This post was inspired by of the 5-Day Poetry Challenge on ethicalela.com

A Conversation

Be Somebody who makes everybody feel like somebody.

HPLYRIKZ.com

I will never forget you
Sister Roseathea.
You opened my ears
to the world of music.
Those lunch time
glee club rehearsals
prevented me from
feeling alone in
the schoolyard.

I watched you
as you created a
school show
in our little auditorium
with cut-out decorations
and cute little props.
You allowed us to
wear pantsuits in 8th grade
a BIG deal in 1972.

You taught us to sing
“Joy to the World”
and not the Christmas carol version either.
I couldn’t believe
a nun could be so cool.
You knew how how to
draw us in
to honor our young
teenage selves.

You gave us an
opportunity to shine.
You inspired me
to become a music teacher.
I felt like you were
passing the torch,
and in turn
I created shows for my students
giving them a chance to shine.

11:11

Remember when you see 11:11 you are in the presence of peace.

Willowsoul.com

My mom passed away on 9/20/18.  As the first anniversary of her passing approached, I began seeing 11:11 on my cell phone, the cable box, and my clock radio.  I was missing my mom terribly, and the first anniversary seemed to make me more emotional than I was when she passed.

I don’t know what made me start searching the Internet about the meaning of seeing 11:11, but  I did. I have never put much stock in astrology or numerology, but I figured it couldn’t hurt.  There were so many different possibilities to explain why I was seeing 11:11, from it being an opportunity portal, that everything is a result of my thoughts and feelings, I am on a path to awakening, or that I am supposed to make a wish. 

[On a side note – I was clueless about the 11:11 wish and how many people actually make them.  That is until I started my search, then one day I won a signed copy of The 11:11 Wish by Kim Tomsic by entering a Twitter contest.  More about this later.]

The meaning that hit home for me though was the one that said a deceased loved one was sending me a message.  Now that was something I knew could be true. You see my mother’s birthday was 11/11/27. Whenever anyone asked her when her birthday was, she would rattle off the rhyme with a smile.  

11:11 has a new twist.  Now when I see those numbers appear, I take it as a sign that my mom is with me, letting me know that things will be OK, and reminding me that I am strong enough to handle whatever life is flinging my way. She was always so positive and peaceful no matter what she was facing, never complaining, never forgetting to celebrate each day.  She was my biggest cheerleader and confidante. And although there is a running family joke about who was her “favorite,” we all know in our hearts that she loved each of us just the way we each needed to be loved and was proud of the adults we had become and lives we made for ourselves.We don’t need a number to tell us that.

So today, on what would have been her 92nd birthday, I am sad that she is not here physically, but I will celebrate knowing that she is always close to my heart and still guiding me and cheering me on. 

[I won a copy of the book when I retweeted the tweet and told the author 11:11 was my mom’s birthday.  Thanks Kim!]

The Christmas Jars

Giving is not just about making a donation. It is about making a difference.

Kathy Calvin – CEO & President of the United Nations Foundation

Last night I went to see The Christmas Jars movie with six  members of my book club, The Chapter Chicks. I don’t usually go to the movies on a school night, but this was a “one night only” event. We read  Christmas Jars by Jason Wright many years ago. If you are not familiar with the story, “Christmas Jars shares the story of Hope Jensen, an aspiring journalist who uncovers the remarkable secret behind a holiday phenomenon: money-filled glass jars anonymously given to people in need.”

While the plot has the potential of being a Hallmark movie, (Those of you who are regular readers know how much I love those!) the twist is that although the novel is fiction, the Christmas Jars are fact.  Author Jason Wright did this exact thing with his family in 2004 when they started collecting coins in a jar and anonymously gave it to a family in need at Christmas. His experience was the force behind the novel. It was published in 2005 and became a worldwide phenomenon.  People who read the book began collecting coins (and cash) and delivering it anonymously to a family in need at Christmas.

The Chapter Chicks have done this almost every year since we first read the book. We collect our change at home, turn it into paper money then anonymously place our cash in an envelope, so no one knows how much anyone else is giving.  We place the cash in a jar and decorate it with a bow. The jar goes in a gift bag along with a copy of the book. Then one of us gets “tasked” with delivering the jar to our chosen family under cover of darkness, or in the early morning hours before most people are awake, or in even brazenly in the middle of the day.  We ring the bell and run. (Well we use to run – now we need to give ourselves a little more time to make a getaway.) I can’t explain the feeling of sheer joy we all feel when the mission is completed.

Over the years we Chicks have all had our ups and downs, job losses, health issues, floods, fires, deaths, weddings, and births of grandchildren, and we are all in different places financially, yet it doesn’t matter if you place $10 or $100 in the envelope.  The feeling of giving to someone else in need is so satisfying. It makes you take a look at life from a different perspective. You begin to look at your world and see the wonderful gifts you have been given instead of the challenges you face, the goodness in people instead of the evil in society, the power of small gestures instead of the seduction of commercialism.   

If you haven’t read the book, I highly suggest it.  If you have read the book, I hope this a reminder that it is never too late to start a Christmas Jar of your own and make a difference in the life of another.  This is not a religious movement; it is a kindness movement, so if you don’t celebrate Christmas perhaps you can start a “Holiday Jar”, or a “Kindness Jar” or a “Generosity Jar.”  No matter what you decide, don’t miss the opportunity to make a difference in the life of someone else.

Making New Friends

Wherever there are beginners and experts, old and young, there is some kind of learning going on, some kind of teaching. We are all pupils and we are all teachers.

Gilbert Highet

I am the NJHS adviser at my school.  Last year our chapter began cultivating a relationship with residents living in a local assisted living facility. Today was our first monthly visit, and it never ceases to make my heart sing.  The students made paper pumpkins decorated for Autumn (not Halloween – that way the residents can keep them up until Thanksgiving).

The 8th graders broke into three groups and went to three different areas of the facility armed with Halloween picture books, trivia, and jokes.  I went with six students to an area where about 10 seniors were awaiting their arrival. I had to break the ice a little for the students and help them feel comfortable, but once they got going they were great.  They opened with The Night Before Halloween, which garnered chuckles from the “crowd.” In between trivia, which the seniors were very good at, and jokes, which were groaners, the students had conversations with the women and men. The kids asked the seniors what Halloween was like when they were kids, what they wore as costumes etc.  In turn, the seniors asked the kids what sports they played and what they were studying in school. Each were geniunely interested in the stories of the other. We ended the session with a few rounds of Fisher Price basketball. You can’t believe how competitive those ladies were!

As we walked out to awaiting parents, students were all talking about their ideas for the next visits – charades, rhythm instruments, and more seasonal picture books.  The kids and I set out to perform a service, but I think we were the true benefactors. Looking forward to next month!

Deer on the Move

The morning had dawned clear and cold, with a crispness that hinted at the end of summer.

George R. R. Martin

When the calendar flips to August, the days of summer are numbered – literally and figuratively.  Now as we are in the last week of the month, the signs of “Back to School” are really ramping up. Summer camps have ended, ads for school supplies are more plentiful both on TV and in print, and there is talk of getting those last beach days in over the Labor Day weekend.

When you live in Southeastern Pennsylvania you need to keep your eyes peeled for another sign that autumn will soon be upon us – deer on the move.  I took this picture of some young deer taking in the sights of a local neighborhood one recent August afternoon.  There was one male and two females scampering down the sidewalk and up into a driveway and backyard.  One little lady must have been camera shy because she hid behind that large tree. 

Seeing the deer, reminds me that my mostly unscheduled days are coming to an end. While others may be sad and lamenting the end of summer, I am feeling renewed. I am looking forward to setting off on an academic adventure with my new students, cool days and even cooler nights, sweatshirts and scarecrows.

I am so lucky to live in an area where I get to experience the changing climate of all four seasons. When I see the deer on the move, I know we are moving closer to my favorite season of the year – autumn.