It’s is a wonderful world, indeed. When I first heard Sam Cooke croon,
Don’t know much about history
Don’t know much biology
Don’t know much about a science book
Don’t know much about the French I took
I was watching Animal House with John Belushi and laughing as only a teenager can. I’ve grown up, it’s been almost 40 years since I watched Animal House. I was in high school and dreaming of college, and I didn’t know much about history, or the French I took. I knew everything, or thought I did.
It was the start of my junior year in high school and it was the year which changed my life. Seriously, no kidding.
Fast forward and I am much older, more experienced, and I still don’t know much about history and every day I am reminded of how much I still don’t know, and yet I still yearn to learn more and grow each day – to make every day count.
Yesterday was American Independence Day. It’s the day Americans, like me, take to celebrate our freedom and independence. Many gather to barbecue and watch fireworks, still others, like me and my family, travel to be with family. We are by the lake, where we have celebrated the Fourth of July as a family for as long as I can recall.
Our family tradition began in after B and I married in ‘91, and with exception of a handful of years, I’ve been here on the Fourth ever since. At first, we celebrated with B’s parents and her sisters and their families. Then they moved away and they weren’t able to be here for the holiday and it was just our family and B’s parents. Then life intervened and her dad passed away in June of ‘14, then her mom followed in late ’15. Now it is us and we continue to get travel north and enjoy the lake with our friends we’ve grown to know along the lake.
It’s been several months since I wrote a Tuesday’s Tune post. But, I’ve got a song in my head, thanks to some obstacles that popped up yesterday morning.
Yesterday was Monday and like most Monday’s I wasn’t looking forward to getting out of bed and embracing the new week. It had snowed most of Saturday afternoon and Sunday and the cars and roads were coated with snow. AND it was cold.
Sometimes you’re the windshield
Sometimes you’re the bug
As I always do, I get up early. Yesterday I rose around 4:30. And as usual I checked my e-mail while the coffee brewed and discovered the WIFI was down, so I re-booted the system, twice. The re-boot didn’t work. Then, I realized we had a service technician coming to change and upgrade our service and the internet and cable must have been turned off. Yep, the television signal was dead, too. Thirty minutes wasted spent trying to solve the problem. But, the coffee was good.
Sometimes it all comes together baby
Sometimes you’re just a fool in love
Today, I am honored to have Patricia from jansenschmidt: Blogging From the Edge of Eternity guest post here at Making the Days Count dot org. I am not certain when I first ‘met’ Patricia, but I’ve been reading her blog ever since. I’ve followed her from northern California to Vicksburg, Mississippi where she moonlights with her husband at the historic Baer House and blogs at jansenschmidt BLOGGING FROM THE EDGE OF ETERNITY. Where imagination abounds, nothing is impossible. Indeed, nothing is impossible, it’s gonna be a great day. Thank you Jansen/Patricia. I’ll let her tell the rest of the story.
First of all, thank you Clay for inviting me to be part of your Tuesday’s Tune project. I am honored to be included, as I am a fan of your blog, primarily for its positive message.
You asked me to write about a song that gives meaning to me for making each day count. I chose “You Raise Me Up,” by the group Celtic Women because I feel certain it must have been written for me to remind me that, even though I lost my mom in 2008, she is still here, still supporting me and still encouraging me. She raises me up to more than I can be. Her absence reminds me to make each day count.
I never thought myself to be much like my mother, but I’m everything I am today because of how she raised me. So often I feel her presence pushing me on. I never would have said that my mother was particularly encouraging when I was a kid, yet I feel courageous today. I feel strong and empowered and beautiful because she instilled in me good values and the desire to do what’s right. As the song says: “I am strong because I am on her shoulders.”
I especially like this version of the song, because there’s a piano solo (I play because my mom played) and fireworks (one of my favorite things).
Again, thank you for this opportunity to share my special song. I hope it inspires everyone who reads this blog to never lose sight of the little things or take for granted the things that matter and, most especially, to make each day count.
I believe in the power of music. Once upon a time, when I listened to music I’d open the album, read the liner notes and pour over the words searching for meaning in the lyrics while singing along. Now, I listen to what sounds good, what has a good beat, and I don’t worry about the words, though sometimes I listen carefully or think I know the words.
When the British alternative rock band Coldplay announced they were coming to Chicago, B decided she wanted to go. I had heard a few of their songs and seen their Super Bowl 50 half-time show. With O by my side, I bought the tickets in February right after the Super Bowl. I put the event on the calendar and got back to the business of life.
Oh, and I downloaded a couple of their albums – Head Full of Dreams, their latest and Mylo Xyloto.
One song, “Up&Up,” became a quick favorite. I’d play and listen, and replay. I liked the song – it fit middle-aged music criteria – it sounded good, had a good beat, and it had an added bonus – I could hear the chorus and it spoke to me.
we’re going to get it get it together right now going to get it get it together somehow going to get it get it together and flower oh oh oh oh oh oh we’re going to get it get it together I know going to get it get it together and flow going to get it get it together and go up and up and up
“Up&Up” landed in my life just when I needed it. The past couple of years have been a tough stretch for our family. We’ve experienced several losses and we haven’t completely come to grips with it all. The weekend after I bought the tickets, we drove to B’s hometown and began packing and sorting furniture and household goods in her parent’s home to be split between she and her older sister. It was a tough weekend.
I believe in Making the Days Count, and I believe in the power of music. And I believe in the beauty of nature and so much more. I’ve been working on my essay and reading a few more essays from the book, in between chapters of Hamilton and other things.
I drove home from the lake Saturday afternoon my mind filled with thoughts.
Sunday morning, I sat on the deck reading the paper and planning my day. I skimmed messages and noticed my friend, Carl, had posted a song to Facebook and Instagram.
I listened to the song and replied to Carl’s prompt, ‘we’ve got to find a way.’ On Facebook, I replied, “Indeed, change begins with you and me, we must be the change we want to see in the world. I am going to do a good turn and pay it forward. Peace.” My replies were personal, about where I was at the moment. A few hours later, I understood there were more ways to listen to the song, to hear the words, and this morning I find myself seated at my desk scribbling a post together.
March 31. Today would have been my father-in-law’s 90th birthday. I remember celebrating his 70th and his 80th birthdays and several in between. We miss him.
We’re on spring vacation in the Keys. The Keys are a special place, it’s place he and his daughter introduced to me in 2002. B has fond memories of her time in the Keys – visiting with her folks. I had never been to Florida, outside of Miami International, until that trip. I fell in love with the Keys and we’ve been back several times – 2004, 2007, 2013, and this year. Each time I come here, I think of him and grandma and enjoy the sun.
The first time we came, they met us at the airport – it was B, W, and me. B was pregnant with O at the time, so I suppose you could say that O came along, too. Continue reading picture book→
Today’s Tuesday’s Tune post is a guest blogger – Eli Pacheco from Coach Daddy: fatherhood, futbol, and food. The blogging world is amazing. I ‘met’ Eli several years ago and have been following him ever since. Last year, I realized we were travelling in parallel universes – he in the Carolinas and me in the Midwest. We both have children -he has three and I have two – and the oldest is a senior in high school and both are competitive athletes – making the two of us sideline supporters. We are both very proud of our kids and it shows in our blogging. I am excited to have Eli here at Making the Days Count – because we are both making our way through life Making the Days Count.
When you make the days count – what does it look like?
I envision life brimming with abundance and adventure. Family, wall-to-wall. All-out experiences that shun fear and trepidation. We make the days count in so many ways – so much positive, so much forward-leaning. It’s where joy bumps into bliss and amusement builds to euphoria.
It took a text message from a dear friend today to remind me that Billy Joel’s River of Dreams held a significant spot on my life’s playlist. She’d just heard it, right after leaving Five Guys Burgers. If that isn’t a sign from above, I’m really not sure what goes on in heaven.
In the middle of the night I go walking in my sleep From the mountains of faith To the river so deep
Today’s post is a guest post from Margaret, a blogger friend of mine from England. She blogs at From Pyrenees to Pennines. I first began reading Margaret’s blog several years ago when she and her husband lived in southwestern France. They moved home to England and I love reading of her exploits. I don’t recall how I found her, but I did, and I am ever grateful for the sunshine and joy that reading provides. There is nothing like an English Christmas, nothing. Thank you Margaret, keep Making the Days Count.
“He who sings scares away his woes.” ― Miguel de Cervantes
There’s a programme on British radio called ‘Desert Island Discs’, which has been running regularly since 1942. Just about everyone fancies being on it, and if you’ve made a name for yourself as an actor, a politician, an academic, a musician, a journalist, a physician, a TV personality, a sportsperson …. whatever, really, you may just get your chance. For 40 minutes, the ‘castaway’ for the week has to imagine themselves washed up on a desert island, with only 8 gramophone records (how quaint that sounds) of their choice, one luxury with no practical use, and one book, together with the Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare. On air, they have the chance to talk about themselves, and more importantly, and just as revealingly, the opportunity to choose the 8 pieces of music that may have to last them for the rest of their lives.
What would I choose? The list I occasionally idly compose in my head varies wildly, according to my mood. But what I observe is that it’s always dominated by the human voice. My list always includes some of the great sacred masses by the likes of Bach, Haydn and Mozart. There’ll be some traditional music, maybe from Africa or India, and some ‘blasts from the past’ of my teenage years in the 1960s. The voices range from the pure clear notes of children, through elegant, warm and melodious female voices, to resonant deeper male tones. It’s hard to think of a single musical instrument with such range or versatility.
And washed upon my desert island, aside from listening to my recordings, what else would I be doing? Well, singing for sure. I don’t have the sort of voice that anyone would want to have in a top-flight choir….. or any choir, really. I read music only very insecurely. Yet you won’t find me missing from our weekly choir practice unless I really, really can’t get there.
We’re engaged from the first moment we arrive. We pat our faces and our bodies awake, stamping our feet rhythmically, or giving each other impromptu massages. We practice rounds and play musical games with notes from the highest to the lowest to get our voices mobilised. And we sing. We sing in canon, we sing in parts. We learn that sometimes the hardest thing to do is to sing well in unison: there’s nowhere to hide.
Nicky’s in charge of us, and I can’t think what kind of title to give her. She enthuses us; she won’t accept less than our best; she generates an atmosphere in which we all trust one another – our false notes will be forgiven and we’ll even be persuaded to be the sole singer of a line or two of song. She’s the one who finds pieces none of us knows, from Africa to Finland, to lesser-known Gospel songs. She’s the one who hunts out unfamiliar pieces from the English repertoire. And this is the one I’ll share with you today. It’s Christmas song, but a secular one, sung at table at Queen’s College, Oxford. Here’s ‘The Boar’s Head Carol’
During that hour or so on Thursday evening, we forget our woes and day-to-day worries. We open our throats, and joyfully, we sing. American philosopher William James summed it up perfectly:
‘I don’t sing because I’m happy, I’m happy because I sing’.
It’s Christmas time. The season is upon us. Christmas will be here in sixteen days. I’ve survived Black Friday – I didn’t shop, or even leave the house.
I was four years old the first time the Charlie Brown Christmas first aired. It was 1965. We were living in Houston. We be there one more Christmas and then, we’d move to Sugar Land where I would grow up. My mom still lives in the house I call home, even though I haven’t lived there for close to thirty years.
This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the first showing of A Charlie Brown Christmas. The network produced a special 50th anniversary special and then replayed the cartoon. I watched it, again.
A Charlie Brown Christmas is an animated television special based on the comic strip Peanuts, by Charles M. Schulz. Produced by Lee Mendelson and directed by Bill Melendez, the program made its debut on CBS on December 9, 1965. In the special, lead character Charlie Brown finds himself depressed despite the onset of the cheerful holiday season. Lucy suggests he direct a school Christmas play, but he is both ignored and mocked by his peers. The story touches on the over-commercialization and secularism of Christmas, and serves to remind viewers of the true meaning of Christmas. (Wikipedia)
Rewind, I can imagine us, my brothers and I, sitting on the couch watching the Christmas special in our jammies. For us, it was in black and white; we wouldn’t get our first color television until 1971. I don’t have a specific memory of watching it, I just know we watched it. Sitting on the couch.
My kids have watched it, too.
A lot has changed since then. I can watch A Charlie Brown Christmas anytime I want – regardless of the season. And, much has stayed the same, A Charlie Brown Christmas was, in a way, a protest show about the commercialization of Christmas.
It bothers me that the Christmas season seemingly begins earlier every year. But, I don’t let it get me down.
A few years ago, I purchased the music from the show and loaded it on my iPhone. I play it as often as I can. I plug in my speakers in my classroom and play it before school starts and sometimes in class when my students are working, no one tires of the tunes. The music is calming and peaceful and it reminds me of the importance of the season.
I remember driving home to Ohio once – I don’t recall when. But, the backseat was in an uproar. My two backseat passengers couldn’t seem to get along, the dog was whining and barking, there was heavy traffic on the road and I popped in the CD. Presto, chango. We listened, whistled softly hummed, and thought of the gift of Christmas.
We won’t be driving to Ohio this Christmas. I am not sure what our plans are, but it will be Christmas. But, wherever we go we will remember the meaning of Christmas.