Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Over the past few months and most recently over the past few days, people I love have lost friends and family. I am reminded how fragile we all are and of the need to tell the ones in my life how much they mean to me. And, I am aware that I have to celebrate each day I wake up healthy, can support myself and do the things that make me happy. Finally, I feel fortunate to have a garden/life filled with those flowers/beings I treasure, no matter how far away they live. (Take care of yourselves.) +++++ the magical magnolias stand naked in winter - their leafless branches raining forth with delicate ballerina pink blossoms each spring +++++
Monday, March 30, 2009
I remember many years ago seeing the billboard that read, WAR IS OVER, if you want it. John and Yoko had the right idea. If you want it. Powerful words. We can make business ethical. We can temper the love of money. We can do this if we want it. As we head into the G20 meeting this week in London, we are presented with an opportunity. An opportunity to take a step over the bridge, towards a more mature global economy. To propose real solutions. To put our differences aside and embrace the rest of what makes us the same. If we want. The first time I saw the billboard, my heart jumped. I felt a real excitement and encouragement in those words. Suffering is over. If we want it. Maybe we only have one real power now: the power of the consumer. Do you buy veggies and fruit locally and in season? If you do, then you are taking a step toward using your consumer power. Back in the '80s we gave up strawberries to support the Chavez boycott. Consumer power is powerful. Where you spend your money counts. There are socially responsible credit unions and credit cards whose investments support pro-active socially responsible programs and initiatives. Where you spend your money counts. If we want it, we can ask for cooperation, negotiation, shared responsibility, and responsibility taken. We can use our power, our vote, our money to push and pull, open and close. We can use this historic moment to begin to change. If we want it we can move in a different direction. If we want. And what to do about the ones who are out of touch? When their profits fall, they will listen. We have the power if we want it. A little patience, a little reading, a vote here, a letter to your congressman here, cash spent thoughtfully, locally, responsibly. Sacrifices, yes. Solutions, too. This I believe: we can change things. But we have to want to. We have to believe. Without that, we are nothing, in the middle of nowhere, fighting for nobody. We have to want to change. That is the first step. This too shall pass. The question is, will we learn anything? If we want to, we will.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
This week: Mary caught her tail on fire helping herself to soup heating on the stove; I finally convinced my Vet to neuter Martin (last year when I asked him to do it, he looked at me as though I was suggesting we castrate all males, human and animal, in the entire country. I am serious.); decided not to go to the States this year so will stay home and see Lucca in July and August; ate an American hamburger; saw my 16 year old student Valerie dance in a touring production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat (she was absolutely DAZZLING!!!); got a cold, and, said goodbye to my Trinity Exam teenagers.
People are often surprised that I do not often listen to music, being a musician and all... but the truth is, I find it very difficult to separate myself from certain lyrics or melodies and usually end up standing in front of my French doors looking out on the little piazza below sobbing through anyone from Bach to Joni Mitchell, Chet Baker to Jackson Browne, Ella Fitzgerald to Carly Simon, or as I did this morning-Stevie Nicks. Here are some lyrics from Landslide that rip me up- but in a good way, I swear. Oh, mirror in the sky, What is love? Can the child within my heart rise above? Can I sail thru the changing ocean tides, Can I handle the seasons of my life- Well, I've been afraid of changing 'cause I've built my life around you- But time makes you bolder, even Children get older and I'm getting older too...
Macbeth: To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, To the last syllable of recorded time; And all our yesterdays have lighted fools-The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player, That struts and frets his hour upon the stage, And then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing. Shakespeare --- Dear People, life is a breath, not a song, but a verse or refrain or bridge, a one syllable word, a walk-on part, a smile or tear. Today we set our clocks an hour ahead... another spring. Another day. Another moment. Grateful! Grateful! Grateful!
Saturday, March 28, 2009
The kids in my Trinity Exam course chose the following topics for their oral exam in April: the solar system, Greek heritage, soccer hooligans, the connection between metal and classical music, the difference between the punk music movement in the U.S. and the U.K., the monestary in Taize, France (where visitors are invited to live in silence for one week), the role of The Sea in poetry and literature, The Lord of the Rings and Tolkein's symbolism, Alice Cooper, life in an Italian village and finally, the choral music experience. They were charming and smart, articulate and endearing - with just the right amount of justifiable cynisism while still remaining innocently hopeful. I LOVE MY STUDENTS.
You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore. You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days. Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God. But let there be spaces in your togetherness, and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another, but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping, for only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, and the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow. Kahil Gibran
Your children are not your children.They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you, for life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth. The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. Let our bending in the archer's hand be for gladness; for even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable. Kahil Gibran
Thursday, March 26, 2009
It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad. C.S. Lewis
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
to stand in front of a pollack or a renoir, to drink in a mountain, to stand on top of a skyscraper, to walk through a city park, to take a dog for a walk, to smell a cat's tummy, to look into the eyes of someone who knows you, to feel the smile of someone you pass in the street, to drink a glass of water, to look down at a perfect café au lait, to bow before a sunset and be up early enough to see it rise, to take the hand of a child or gain the trust of a teenager, to hear a bird, to listen to vivaldi, to have a roof over your head and enough to eat in the fridge, to slice a lemon, to wash your face, to stand up on your own two feet, to work and believe that you have worked well, to pay with your own money, to open an umbrella on a rainy street, to fly over an ocean into a new time zone, to another continent in 9 hours, to open your mind, to offer an ear and to bend one, too, this is a little bit of perfection. a miracle. everyday a miracle.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Yes, we can remember we were at the party (before Wall Street crashed), too, so we have to take some responsibility (ok, maybe most of us weren't at the party, but we wanted to get in...)! Yes, we can use this as an opportunity to think about money differently. Yes, we can discover a simpler abundance. Yes, we can give President Obama a chance to work. Yes, we can revel in the history we are living. Yes, we can sit back and watch the show. Yes, we can survive. Yes, we can.
Years ago P.C. stood for, 'politically correct' but now it also means something else. I started my affair with my pc in 1999 when I moved to Europe. It became my link home; writing e-mails a cheaper way of connecting over the miles. And, it became my writing partner. I cannot write longhand anymore (not sure that is a good thing). Now, when my laptop slows down or burps, stumbles, swallows text or flickers, I feel panicky and find myself irritated and impatient at its audacity to make me wait a few more minutes to open a window, do a virus check or download a photo. Ten years ago I went to the library to do research, stopped and started a cassette tape over and over again in order to write down the lyrics to a song I was covering, picked up the phone to call a friend, waited for my photos to be printed at Wallgreens and only saw people in the flesh (as opposed to a on web cam). Now I have to STOP and think when I get mad at my pc. How spoiled I am. How. Spoiled. I. Am. Editing my boyfriend's university papers on our first little Mac, I always liked the smiling icon that appeared when you switched it on. But I was afraid of breaking it or not understanding it. There was no internet and it was too big and bulky to carry around. When I go to the States this summer I will take my pc with me like I always do. Write, connect, watch DVDs and continue to indulge my spoiled self. Is it pc to love a pc? I have no idea. What would Kant or Emerson have said about the pc? Would they have used one? Would they have been more prolific? Would Mozart have used music composition software if he could have? Would there have been a pc on stage in an Ibsen or Chekov play? (The setting of A Doll's House might have looked differently...a laptop sitting at the dining room table with Nora and her husband, WIFI and all... or Professor Serebryakov sending an e-mail to Uncle Vanya, Sonya, and Yelena asking them to come meet him in Act III?) The pc is a marvel. An instrument that connects and divides. If Mr. Rogers had addressed computers in his neighbourhood - Can you say, 'does not compute'? - he might have urged his viewers to explore technology only after going outside to explore their city block first... looking to balance youngsters' temptation of a cyber world with the more tactile and glorious one they actually inhabit. In any case, the computer changed my life and the laptop made it more convenient. And, here I sit on this blog.... gotta go-Got a gig. I've got an important appointment with Martin on the Walls for a stroll. Happy pc, everybody.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
My mom and dad have a sticker on their car: SAVE OUR PUBLIC LIBRARIES. My mom's been putting her name on the best seller waiting lists for more than 20 years and claims that checking out a book helps her finish it faster - to make the due date. But in lots of American cities the library has been abandoned for big bookstores, cinemas and video rental. Now it seems people are re-discovering the magic of their public library and that little card that holds the key to well, any place at all- any time at all. From Vonegut to King, e.e. cummings to Keats, from Mickey Mouse to Sartre... the library shelf is a treasure chest of the extraordinary and the ordinary, from chic-lit to the Bronté sisters and beyond -- AND IT'S FREE!!! There are DVDs and fashion magazines... public bathrooms, reading lamps(-warm in winter and cool in summer-) nowadays the library seems like a nice place to hang again. So if you find yourself in the neighbourhood of your local library, Check It Out!
Friday, March 13, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
I took a train on a track heading downtown so I didn't take the train heading uptown. The silver sliver took me to the life I am living now and the uptown train remains a mystery. But the downtown train became my ride. (Photo by Andrea Lupi.) If I had stayed at school I never would have worked at CWSS. If I had never worked at CWSS I never would have been offered a job in D.C.. If I had taken the job in D.C. I never would have had my music career. If I hadn't turned down the record contract I wouldn't have travelled overseas or fallen in love with Italy or taught literacy or ESL or taken my TEFL certification in San Francisco or lived in Europe, had a job I love, lived in Lucca, met my neighbours or Lynn and Marty...or exchanged apartments with Sara in the Village (and she may not have painted those STUPENDOUS Lucca Light canvases!). I have had lots of opportunities-chosen some-said no to others and there are no regrets. No regrets. Imagining what might have been is a dream and sometimes it's fun to sit and wonder. In the end, I am here and love what I am doing. And feel fortunate to have had tons of fun things to choose from. If we are the sum of our choices (and mistakes!) then I am conscious of every one of them! To all of you on the downtown train I say 'thank you for your company!' I am enjoying the scenery!
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
My dad told me not to spend money I do not have. My grandma told me to learn to play the piano so I could accompany myself. My old boyfriend said to be a happy cat, be in it but not of it , read Rousseau, The Decameron and Montaigne and that everything works out... and that getting the first sentence right is important. Rita told me to let go and read The Four Agreements. Lee Russel said 'name it and claim it' and to pay attention to my spelling. Dorene gave me Pathways. Jen said to celebrate myself. My voice teacher taught me to breathe and click. My sister told me that it isn't always about me and to hold the yoga position for a slow count of 30. My niece said that I should do what makes me happy. My brother told me that I would always be the kid in our family who totalled the Karmen Ghia and not to let that get to me. Gess told me to be myself. Veronica reminds me when I am putting on a show. Einat told me to call Sara. Sara told me to go to Le Gamin. Isabella told me to buy the shoes. Lynn told me 'not to be an ass' and to keep going and Marty told me to lose the baby voice. The Stones said, ...you can't always get what you want. You can't always get what you want. You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you just might find- you get what you need.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
i was sitting down thinking about what i've got and i realised that everything (everything) i ever really, truly wanted and needed, i got. i wanted to live in california. i wanted to sing. i wanted to fall in love. i wanted cats. i wanted to paint. i wanted to travel. i wanted to dance. i wanted to have a relationship with my parents and a handful of fabulous friends. i wanted to live in italy. i wanted to teach. i wanted to write. i wanted a dog that fits into a bag. i got what i needed. i set it up and it came. tell the universe what you want. BE SPECIFIC.* *i wanted to make a living as an artist and i wanted to earn just enough to survive and that is exactly what i earned: just enough to survive. (presently i am working on changing that one....) 'name it and claim it' p.s. i was fortunate enough to be born in a country that encourages dreamers and i had the advantages of a middle class upbringing. i was also a product of a movement that gave women a voice and a choice. it is important to note: i have always known exactly what i wanted and possibly more importantly, knew what i did not want. with all these advantages, i did not want to waste any time or any of my resources. hey, i made tons of mistakes along the way but have no regrets.
Small is beautiful.
The tiny house movement: the next little thing.
Teachable moments. Home sweet home. The nest matches the nestegg. New horizons. 9 billion people-One planet.
Go see it at:
Monday, March 9, 2009
One of Audrey Hepburn's favourite pieces of writing- Beauty Tips: For attractive lips, speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day. For poise, walk with the knowledge you'll never walk alone. People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; Never throw out anybody. Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you'll find one at the end of your arm. As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others. The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, but true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows, and the beauty of a woman with passing years only grows!
DO THE PUZZLE AND DISCOVER THE JOY. theflowermarketawordpuzzlelisteningtonprskypewithlovedones finishingatasksettingagoaleatingsomethingfreshdrinkingwater walkingthedogputtingyoureartoacat'sheartandhearingthepurr carnationsalongbathacleanhousearoofoveryourheaddancing stretchingamovieandpopcornamentalhealthdayoff aBIGhugyogasmilingagoodbooklaughing BIGdreamBIGloveBIGbreatheDEEP pullingoffthespentbloomsand tendingyourgarden
Sunday, March 8, 2009
This is my niece's mail box out in the middle of nowhere in Nebraska. She lives on a farm and the road in front of her house stretches for miles and miles. Sometimes I go to livesearch and look at my friends' and family's houses on satellite photos. It helps me to feel closer to them somehow. Modern technology is cool. But I am also happy to have lived during a time when people wrote letters. I still write to my parents once a month although now my mom is losing her memory and she doesn't always remember that I write. She says, 'I never knew getting old would be like this!' I love my mom. I think I'll sit down and write her a letter....
Judy Collins sang, 'who knows where the time goes, who know where the time, goes?' Last night they sprang forward in the USA. Here in Europe we'll do the same in a few weeks. I've been humming that song all morning. I don't care how long the days are or if it rains or the sun shines. I just feel darn lucky to be here. In any time, in any weather. One day I woke up and I was 40. Now I'm 50. I like getting older. Maurice Chevalier said he didn't mind aging when he considered the alternative. I don't know where the time goes. I know it goes fast. Have a beautiful Sunday wherever you are, whatever time it is.
When I met my student Francesca she was a family law attorney. On January 2nd of this year she officially renounced her profession to become what she always wanted to be, a jewellery designer and artisan. In Italy you cannot practice law and have another job. So, she left her work for her passion. I am wearing her earrings. She rocks.
I used to know a German teacher named Helga. When I asked her, 'Come stai?' , she would say, 'Ci siamo....allora?' 'HOW ARE YOU? WELL, I'M HERE....so...that's something!' That's all you need to know. I got up this morning. I am walking around. I am here. That's good news.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Close your eyes and see yourself there.... Rent the 1992 Mike Newel film Enchanted April. Italian villa overlooking a sparkling sea, terracotta vases overflowing with geraniums, four women, new friendship. I see you there.
'An artist is never poor.' Rediscover (or discover!) the 1987 Gabriel Axel film, Babette's Feast from the short story by Isak Dinesen. A luminous chef uses her gift to transform a dinner into "a kind of love affair" that "made no distinction between bodily appetite and spiritual appetite."
Friday, March 6, 2009
When you were really little if someone showed you an apple and told you it was an orange, you would have believed them. So, how can we be sure that what we learned when we were little is true or right or real? I asked my high school kids this question and they said, "we can't!!" When we turn something around and look at it in a different way we are challenging our perceptions. And stretching our minds. And walking through another door, in someone else's shoes. From the Louis Malle film, 'My Dinner With André'- ANDRE: 'I mean, if you don't have that electric blanket, and your apartment is cold, and you need to put on another blanket or go into the closet and pile up coats on top of the blanket you have, well then you know it's cold. And that sets up a link of things: you have compassion for the person, well, is the person next to you cold? Are there other people in the world who are cold? What a cold night! I like the cold, my God, I never realized, I don't want a blanket, it's fun being cold, I can snuggle up against you even more because it's cold! All sorts of things occur to you. Turn on that electric blanket and it's like taking a tranquilizer, it's like being lobotomized by watching television. I think you enter the dream world again. I mean, what does it do to us, Wally, living in an environment where something as massive as the seasons or winter or cold don't in any way affect us? I mean, we're animals after all. I mean, what does that mean? I think that means that instead of living under the sun and the moon and the sky and the stars we're living in a fantasy world of our own making.' How real and true are we living? Many of us, until recently, never thought of the real possibility of losing our jobs or our homes. But now we are thinking about that. Now we have more in common with people who struggle every day to eat, to drink clean water. Suddenly we are part of something bigger than us and things can go either way and we are more alive. Yes, it's scary. But it's also an opportunity to see things in a different way. To appreciate the things we have. To be grateful. And that's positive.
Your positive for the day: 'Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and dreams, try to love the questions themselves.' -Rainer Maria Rilke- Rilke took questions of heart and dreams and made them lovable. Hmmm, loving the quesitons. This could be fun. - into +