Namaste this Mindful Monday!
What a wonderful week of words and songs, celebrations and struggles it has been for me ~ how about you? How has the turning of your circle of zealous yesness been?! In keeping with last week’s post I must report that the Completion Queen did indeed reign over the Procrastination Princess in finishing the drama scripts on time (just barely!) and although the co-creation process was more blissful than not, I did lose more sleep than I wish. The weekend brought a grand experience at the National Annual Gathering of the Children’s Music Network held this year about 3 hours from me capped off by a church service at Inner Light Ministries and a long beach walk before heading home. So herein lies a few highlights of all this zealous yesness with a focus on words. ~ Warning ~ this is a wordy one! I feel like there’s at least 3 weeks worth here ~ or at least 2! So thank you for being here and for your willingness and yessness to read the words that matter to me this week …
In writing the drama scripts for the Jr High Drama Club last week, the word reconstructionists was the one that came to me to describe them and the production. I like the name Peacemakers, as it has been in the past and remains at the New Thought Families website but a new layer of truth surfaced that is better captured in the word, reconstructionists. Suffice it to say that the footsteps of Harriet Tubman and lesser known names like Elizabeth Cady Stanton & Claudette Colvin were often turbulent and not so peaceful though they were filled with the courage needed to help re-route our human journey. In looking up the term reconstruction, the meaning was a simple, ‘to re-construct something’ and it also is linked to a time in history in the founding of this country that coincides with many of the reconstructionist people the kids will portray in our production ~ 5 men and 22 women. When I looked up the meaning of the term, ‘reconstructionist‘ last week, I only saw a movement in Judaism, started in the early eighties. Today, I found a marvelous yearlong project blog entitled The Reconstructionists that celebrates women who have changed history ~ one wonderful woman honored each week ~ wow! Woohoo! From the Reconstructionists blog: ” … collaboration between illustrator Lisa Congdon and writer Maria Popova, is a yearlong celebration of remarkable women — beloved artists, writers, and scientists, as well as notable unsung heroes — who have changed the way we define ourselves as a culture and live our lives as individuals of any gender. … The project borrows its title from Anaïs Nin, one of the 52 female icons, who wrote of “woman’s role in the reconstruction of the world” in a poetic 1944 diary entry …” I will definitely be returning to this blog so I can celebrate all 52! Thank you Lisa & Maria!
My own Reconstructurist project was a labor of Love and lots of words (14,000++) likely to be trimmed (way) down by my young thespians and their high school mentors ~ the threading narration & 18 dramatic scenes & dialogue includes lots of quotes & a few speeches ~ Sojourner Truth, ML King, Jr and Malala … powerful words to ignite minds & hearts of all ages. One high school mentor admitted, “I know I should know these people but most of them, I don’t.” So through the words & actions of the reconstructionists, the kids will bring them alive on stage and (re)introduce them to the families that attend our Nov 21st performance ~ I’ll give you a mindful moment update each week …!
And the gathering of the Children’s Music Network ~ so many gems! Each year, CMN gives out a Magic Penny Award for folks in the community who have empowered children through their music and life. Magic Penny is a Malvina Reynolds song that sings, “Love is something if you give it away … you end up having more!” This year’s recipient was Tom Hunter who actually died in 2008 but his music & legacy are still singing strong today. Tom’s life and words have many ripple effects. Among them, a simple phrase of 2 words that remind us that everything we do counts ~ “It matters.” I can’t help but think of the song I wrote with 2nd-3rd graders that’s on the In Our Hands CD entitled, Every Little Thing. Tom Hunter would like that song. I know from being at his life celebration award ceremony. In Tom’s words, “I want my music to be grounded in the realities of what kids and teachers know. I want it to ‘ring true; as it helps people laugh, cry, remember, celebrate, and learn.” We all did just that during The Magic Penny. I didn’t know him personally though I remember him from past conferences. And during The Magic Penny, I realized he wrote, ‘Rock Me To Sleep’, a song I have sung & cried to many times. With this song and others, I have shared the heart of Tom Hunter as countless others have too. What an honor. And yes, I did cry when singing that song and indeed through much of the ceremony in being heart touched by Tom and by the whole of the community & gathering itself. These were tender moments that reminded me the cost of my isolation. I sometimes felt socially awkward though accepting of myself & accepted by others. I remembered the divinity of what it is to be in community just in the short 25 hours I was there. The gathering was filled with inspirational, funny, thought provoking moments as well as many great songs! Tom Hunter is also known for leaving with this phrase, “Keep it going“. The Children’s Music Network folks are doing exactly that ~ not just at the annual conference of course, but where it counts so much ~ in classrooms & concert halls across the country! Thank you good hearted CMN folk!
The Children’s Music Network Gathering Keynote Speakers were good friends and colleagues of Tom Hunter’s; Bev Bos & her son in law Michael Leeman spoke and sang beautifully to Creative Art, Music & Language. National speakers, educators, musicians, authors, and Michael is an illustrator, they also run Bev’s preschool where creativity reigns supreme! They were truly inspirational in their educational approach. Bev recommends that every child know 5 old folk songs that include her favorite, Red River Valley and You Are My Sunshine. I asked her about changing the words which she doesn’t agree with. I offered my take on making ‘You Are My Sunshine’ more of a positive affirmation which she dismissed with, “That song was written about a horse.” I found her attitude about this discordant with her educational approach. But within the folk process, there is a wide spectrum between traditionalists and reconstructionists …. Michael shared a wonderful story of a 3 year old asking him for the boat song near the close of the day. He couldn’t figure out which song at first but then when he sang ‘Sloop John B’ and got to the line “…Let me go home …”, he understood. Though I agree whole heartedly with Bev’s philosophy, “If it hasn’t been in the Hand… and the Body… it can’t be in the Brain!”, I also offer that words and music definitely have a way of getting in the body, certainly the heart and thereby the brain! I can’t help wonder about the Sloop John B lyrics preceding that line, “… Drinking all night, got into a fight, well I feel so broke up …” And while Bev Bos dismissed my version of ‘You Are My Sunshine”, I offer it here. Because words matter. I love you matters and you should know!
“You Are My Sunshine” ~ Traditional
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are grey
You never know, dear, how much I love you
Please don’t take my sunshine away
The other night, dear, as I lay sleeping
I dreamt I held you in my arms
When I awoke, dear, I was mistaken
So I hung my head, and I cried
“You Are My Sunshine” ~ With Edited Laurie Story Lyrics
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are grey
So you should know, dear, how much I love you
I love you every night and day
When you are playing, when you are sleeping,
when you are laughing, I love you
When you are crying, or scream, “Don’t want to!”
Well, of course, I still love you!
This is how I recorded it on the ChildSing CD, Spring Into Summer. Now, after this last phase of Jeremiah’s growing up and tempered by the cautions of single parents putting too much on their children, I would change the first line I had left alone from “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine” to “You are my sunshine, bright, lovely sunshine.” Simply because words matter. What we say and sing to our kids helps them shape their view of themselves and the world. They do listen on both conscious and unconscious levels.
I had another beautifully humbling experience involving retribution & restitution that could easily be the subject for a whole week’s blog but I will try to share it as a brief recap in the wake of the power of words. I was blessed to be in a small group sharing around grief & bereavement. One woman bravely shared some of her story and a song. I was compelled to comment about the spirit of her abusive father potentially being present in her experience. With all the ancestral energy clearing work I have been doing, this just came up so strong for me, I couldn’t seem to stop myself from offering this unsolicited input. In my sleep deprived state, I unconsciously used the word retribution in regards to his potential presence which was, at the least, confusing! But it wasn’t until hours later when I saw her, it hit me about the line I had crossed when she was vulnerably sharing her heart. I apologized and she brought up the word ‘retribution‘ which I hadn’t realized I had used. So I apologized further and assured her that I meant a spirit of atonement. Then, a few minutes later, I was singing a song and the word, ‘restitution‘ floated in which I relayed back to her and she seemed somewhat relieved as that made a whole lot more sense than ‘retribution‘. The whole incident came full circle the next morning when my appreciating the lessons of knowing how to hold space and how to speak and choose my words with deliberate purpose and caring intersected with this strong woman’s appreciation of my apology ~ in the end, it was the apology itself that was the gift to her as it was something she never got from her abusive father. Another powerful reminder of divine order and how words matter ~ “I’m sorry.” “It matters.”
There are many other nuggets I could share from the weekend but I realize this week’s post is getting ridiculously long. So before I sum up with one more, big, reconstructual, pictorial AHA, let’s look at our Mindful Meditation Invitation. Were you able to look at your zealous yesses in a circle last week? Did you look at what is in the center of your circle?! For this week, define your most zealous yes in just a few words that matter most to you. For me, I will meditate on how creativity repressed can suppress Love expressed!
Being in our fullness as Love expressed, offers us continual opportunities to say no and yes! When we embody a willingness to keep changing and growing, I see that as a zealousness for yesness. Remember, ‘ness’ means full of, so ‘yesness’ is being full of yes! I woke up this morning with yet another yesness to re-vision! I told you that this last week’s free Laurie StorEBook was Wild Wilda Witch? The book went through some good illustration changes though Wilda remained unchanged.
An old friend & CMN colleague reminded me that she didn’t do songs about witches except for Who Were The Witches? by friend & CMNer Bonnie Lockhart because Bonnie’s song speaks the truth about women as healers and midwives, etc. I’ve always had that thought about Wilda ~ come on, really Laurie Story, a witch with the pointy hat & a big nose? But perhaps even more so, I have been bothered because ‘Wild Wilda Witch’ has alliterative appeal but no word play or contextual connection to the word building fun of the song. Still, I’ve just let Wilda surface into the featured titles every October because after all, witches and Halloween, right? But words and word play and pictures ALL matter so further thanks to friends at RGB Stock …. and the rhyming substitute who came to call this morning …
What do you think??!! I’m feeling some zealousness and a definite yesness! Though of course, a certain attachment to my friend Wild Wilda who of course, can find another Laurie StorEBook along the way. And much as I love this stock photo of the water buffalo, there is a LaurieStory version of Bilbo Buffalo brewing … My 13 year old Jeremiah’s take, “I guess it works (smiling) creative as always!” Creativity, willingness, yesness, it all matters. Words matter! You matter! And your time matters so if you read this whole epic, an extra appreciative THANK YOU to YOU! Namaste, Love!