Saturday, March 30, 2013

Memories of Easters Past

Easters from the past - moments captured in time as we stand in our Sunday best.  How the years have flown since I was the little girl with the cute hat and big smile.  Now, I enjoy my grandchildren, not always on Easter, but close enough.


Easter Memories - The Neas Family at Castle Island 1963



 Easter with my brothers - 1963


My Mom and Girls - Easter 1984



Cold and windy Easter week with grandchildren 2012

May the grace of this season of renewal and rebirth wrap you in hope and joy.  Namasté!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Capable of Becoming Good: Guest Post by Gloria Loring

When I was a little girl and TV was still in black and white, my mother was addicted to Days of Our Lives, a soap-opera, which aired on one of the network channels. As a young mother and flower child transplanted to an Air Force base on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, I longed for something to help me feel at home.  One afternoon, as my two-year old slept, I flipped through the channels to find Days still going strong!  Many of the characters were still there, but I noticed this newbie, Liz Chandler, played by actress, Gloria Loring.  The first thing that grabbed me was Gloria's sparkling, impish eyes, and then she sang!  I was hooked. I watched Days off and on for many years, but Liz was always my favorite female character.

A few weeks ago, I got my Women on Writing newsletter.  As I read that they were hosting a blog tour for Gloria Loring, I wonder if this was THE Gloria Loring from Days. To my delight, I learned that indeed, this was one and the same Gloria Loring.  My delight increased when it was confirmed that I would be hosting her on my blog for the tour.

Interestingly, as I read her book, I learned that Gloria's life mirrored mine in many ways. What a coincidence that as I finish seminary and begin a new chapter in my life, one of my favorite actresses not only writes a book about coincidences, but is also a guest on my blog!  Needless to say, I am greatly honored.

So, please welcome one of my favorite actresses as well as singer/songwriter - Gloria Loring!


 Capable of Becoming Good

Years ago I read Pierre Teilhard De Chardin’s words, “Not everything is immediately good, but everything is capable of becoming good.” At first I found his idea surprising, yet time and experience have affirmed his wisdom.

My son Brennan’s diagnosis with diabetes was my heart’s greatest grief and my life’s greatest gift. My love for him led me to write books for people with diabetes, raise $1 million for research, and form my own record label. If not for Brennan’s diagnosis, I would never have become an author, fundraiser, and entrepreneur.

When I was on Days, I recorded “Friends and Lovers “ with Carl Anderson. Because of Days’ ten million fans, I was certain the song would find a record label. Every major company turned it down. During the time we worked to find a home for it, I sang the song on Days repeatedly and it became a fan favorite. When it was finally released a year later, it went straight to the top of the charts. What seemed like a bad thing (the long wait) became a good thing.

Now I look at my life through the lens of Chardin’s words. When an event challenges me, I turn my attention as quickly as possible to the idea that good may come of it. I detail how to do this in my new book, noting that when a coincidence (a coinciding of meaningful events) comes our way, you can:
  • Determine if it has a message for you. Does it peak your interest, nag at you?
  • Discover if there are additional clues. Is there a pattern? Have several people or events brought this to your attention?
  • Define the message. What is it asking of you? More patience, forgiveness, kindness, love? What is it guiding you toward? Is there something it is asking you to do? If so...
  • Do it!! See what happens, and watch for the good that may come. 
I have learned that everything can serve a beneficial purpose... that everything is capable of becoming good.
 

 *******
 
The former “Liz Chandler” on Days of Our Lives, Gloria Loring is a singer, songwriter, actress and author. Her new book, Coincidence Is God’s Way of Remaining Anonymous, offers evidence that coincidence can be used for our good. 
Gloria can be found at: www.glorialoring.comwwwfacebook.com/GloriaLoring, www.twitter.com/GloriaLoring

Thank you, Gloria for sharing yourself with us today.  Namaste!
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Monday, March 18, 2013

My Worst Best Friend - Author, Julie Cavacco

I am so excited to share a recent interview with Julie Cavacco, author of a new children's book, "My Worst Best Friend."  She is a Children's Librarian (12 yrs) and former substitute (15 yrs). Julie has become dedicated to getting the right book into a student's hands. She says, "There is so much self esteem wrapped up into when and how we start reading. I have seen the natural, and not necessarily bad, competition of first graders talking about how they can read Harry Potter. The delayed reader can't join in on that conversation, and eventually, they notice the difference, which effects self esteem and eventually classroom behavior." 

Julie's own two kids, now adults, were not early dedicated readers, but, she says, they had the skills. "I've seen them, as teenagers, ignore electronics with all the bells and whistles in favor of a good book. Now, they can join in on conversations, because reading has bolstered their vocabularies.
 
"We, as a population, tend to respect the well read. I want everyone to have that respect and self respect."


Hi, Julie!  So happy to have you as a guest on the blog today.  Words from the Heart, as you may know, was started because I wanted to show the power of words - how they can heal, bring hope and connect us to each other.  So, when I learned about your book for children, “My Worst Best Friend,” I couldn’t help but want to ask you how it all started.  Why did you decide to write this particular story?

I started this project twelve years ago because a ten-year old boy came into my library, who wanted a book on zombies. He was with his tutor. Normally, I never see a delayed reader at that age without an adult dragging them in. Delayed reading ten-year old boys don't think of books and reading as a good thing. It's hard work for them. The only thing I had for him that he could read was designed for younger kids. So, I decided that I would write him some stories about a boy, who liked zombies. I wrote eight of them that he used that for his summer reading. He turned a corner soon after, which encouraged me, immensely.


I finally talked my graphic designer husband into helping me put them together. As the big publishers limit their scope, along with the help of computers, authors can find different paths to publish their books. But, of course, I hope to get it to a publisher to take it to a much wider audience.

Can you describe for our readers what a “delayed reader” is? 

I think of the delayed reader as a student, who is reading below grade level. Sometimes, it's a result of vision impairment, attention issues or limited early exposure to reading.

Why did you focus your book to this population of students?

I chose to focus on  ten-year old boys, who were delayed readers because, in my experience, what they are interested in tends to be what will appeal to most everyone. My goal is to give them a book that they can discuss with their peers, that their peers will want to read. I want them to have a chance to have that experience, sharing books with others. Kids tend to compare what they read and delayed readers don't always have that opportunity to share.

Describe the hero of your book and tells us a little bit about why do you think children will like him?

The "hero" Andy, in the book is the narrator's worst best friend. The narrator is a careful, thoughtful, worried kid. Andy is a bit of a devil. He isn't always nice and he'll trick the narrator for entertainment. We can connect with the friendship, either through the trickster or the worrier.

Do you do readings?  If so, where and when?

I am beginning to put together author visits for schools. My main goal is to get them into classrooms, where they tend to have silent reading periods each day. And, that's where I think they'll make the most impact. Since we self published the books, we don't have an endless supply, so I'm hesitant to do book readings for bookstores. If a larger publisher ever picks them up then that could change.

What advice do you have for children who are learning to read and write?
 
I think the best way to get ahead in reading is to look at widely circulated lists for early literacy that you can find on the Internet. These lists have words like - and, or, the, - which are helpful to learn before entering kindergarten. There are no pictures to easily connect them with. They just have to be memorized.

Is there something I haven’t asked you that you would like to share with the readers?

One extra thing I think we all can do to connect with kids and support the value of reading is to ask them what they have read. Ask them for recommendations and then get the book from the library. A children's book is wonderful to read before bed because adults may actually be able to finish it before they fall asleep.

Thank you so much, Julie, for sharing your book and your thoughts on childhood literacy. What a wonderful contribution you have made to helping ALL children enjoy reading!

Namasté! 

Friday, March 8, 2013

International Women's Day

 Women's International League USA - 1922
National Photo Company [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons  

Greetings, Women of the World! Today is our day!
 
Well, at least that is what it says on the calendar. So, in celebration of women everywhere, I thought I would share some poems, mine and others, on women.

This first poem was written several years ago in praise of a dear friend, who loves in such a way that everyone feels as if they are her best friend.

HANNAH’S VALENTINE

Everyday is Valentine’s
For those within her world.
Like her colonial red door
with it’s heart shape window -
Shining,
Her heart is open -
Always.
Inside her kitchen’s
Filled with warmth
And recipes to nourish -
Body and soul -
A pinch of love,
A dash of joy,
Heaping cups of hugs!

Everyday is Valentine’s -
Hannah makes it so!
 
©1991 LMRN

This poem, my mother read to me as a little girl. The poet captures the life of many women in such a few lines.

FIRST FIG
    by Edna St. Vincent Millay
 
My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light!

In this poem, I remember my mother and grandmother. My Mom died four years ago - I miss her very much. I never knew my grandmother; she died when my Mom was just a teen. Yet, through my Mom's stories, I came to know here as we all come to know amazing women from the past.

GRANDMA
 
Grandma was short like Mommy
with blue-black hair
cut pixie style
and wild green eyes
that you could never forget
because they twinkled so!
She laughed a lot -
told funny stories from old Ireland -
Mommy would laugh, too,
as she told me
the crazy things they did…

Funny, she left this world
long before I came - but,
Mommy’s words
paint a Grandma
to hold
deep within my heart.

 ©1983 LMRN

Finally, I want to share with you a poem from one of my favorite poets, Dr. Maya Angelou.  You will have to visit another site to read the poem, but it is worth the effort.  When I first read, Still I Rise, I cried.  I wanted to hand this poem to every woman I knew.  I wanted to paste it to every billboard, telephone pole and read it on every radio/TV show.  (Read STILL I RISE)

Namasté!
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Monday, March 4, 2013

Dance Like There's Nobody Watching

“You've gotta dance like there's nobody watching,
Love like you'll never be hurt,
Sing like there's nobody listening,
And live like it's heaven on earth.
(And speak from the heart to be heard.)”
― William W. Purkey


These words by author and educator, William Purkey, have sat on my wall for years.  Of late, whether because I am closing in on my sixtieth birthday or what, I am not sure, but I have been taking these words to heart.

"You've gotta dance like there's nobody watching," says to me - don't worry about what others will think, enjoy life!  Run in the rain with the children; splash in the puddles.  Make snow angels.  Yell, "Yeah, Creator!" 

"Love like you'll never be hurt," is the only way to love in my estimation.  I have shared many times that my old heart looks like a patchwork quilt, but I wouldn't change a thing. I love the story of how the Japanese treasure their pottery.  When a favorite piece gets a crack, they take it to a repair shop where the
specialist mends the crack with gold filling. What was once a broken bowl or cup becomes even more precious when it is repaired.  Our hearts are like this - yes, they break, but they become more precious when we heal and love again.

"Sing like nobody's listening," for me, this is a reminder to make a "joyful noise."  When we sing, our brain is triggered to produce endorphins - the happy hormone.  The more you sing, the happier you feel!  I sing in the car as I drive to work.  Sometimes I am belting out hit songs from musicals, sometimes rock songs from my teen years and sometimes old classics.  Lately, I find that I do this without thinking, especially when I am most stressed.  Guess what?  By the time I get to where I am going, I don't feel stressed!

"Live like it is Heaven on Earth." This is a cup-half-full/half empty statement.  When we live like Heaven is on Earth, we treat the Earth with respect; we love our neighbors as our selves and we see the Divine in all things.  When we don't do this, life gets very gloomy, very fast!

"And speak from the heart to be heard." This last bit, often doesn't get added when people share this poem, but I think it is one of the most important lines.  When we speak from the heart - using Words from the Heart - we are heard in a way that doesn't happen when we speak from our minds.  Speaking from the heart comes from deep within. The words carry with them a gentleness and a compassion that cannot be found in facts and figures.

So, as the days begin to gradually get longer and warmer, I plan on dancing around my garden, singing songs of love and joy, remembering that my heart is stronger than many might think and Heaven is here on Earth!  All I need to do is look at my loved ones to know this is true!

May these words from my heart bring you joy, lighten your step and easy your burdens.

Namasté!
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