Exploring and Encouraging a Healthy Life Marked with Joy

Archive for September, 2012

Sunday Morning Quote — 9/30/12

Happy Last Day of September 2012!

Here’s this morning’s quote:

(From Life Is Good: Simple Words from Jake and Rocket)


Earlier this evening I ventured to beautiful Forsyth Park here in Savannah to attend a bit of the week-long Savannah Jazz Festival.

Here are a few pics and commentary.

First, let me just try to explain that I was going for a HIP look, one where attendees channel Bob Denver from the old Dobie Gillis show and snap their fingers instead of applauding.


See?  We’re both kinda cool, right?

And here I am chit chatting with local WTOC meterologist and all-round good guy Pat Prokop.  He warned me that rain was a’coming.  And he was right.

And here I am when I walked to the front amphitheater between acts and waited patiently, wearing my lucky arrowhead, for that large man (in the upper left corner of the pic) to stop talking so I could address the crowd and let them know about important things, like how my blog could make them all even jazzier.

But he would NOT stop (on and on about generous sponsors and community spirit and love and coming together for shared experiences and the happiness of music and other silly talk that I just REFUSED to listen to because I had SO much to say).  Finally I had to take matters into my own hands and talk directly to the festive horde (reminiscient of other times when I took to the microphone, such as that Savannah Westin trouble I got into about a month ago.  Go to Happy Bringer #4 in the hyperlink if you don’t remember).

So I held out my hands and spoke to the throng (sort of like Jesus, I thought for a second, until it hit me that Jesus wanted to help them all while I wanted them all to help me.  But actually, in a way that’s rather similar, don’t you think, except for the direction of the intended action).

Let me tell you this:  Jazz people DO NOT pay much attention to you when, with ALL your heart, you try to encourage them with a short 10-15 minute lecture about the blogosphere and the simlilarities between the top musicians at the festival and my time as second chair trombonist in the Cherokee County High School Warrior Band.

So I just shook the dust off my feet (again, following Jesus’ instructions of what to do if people refuse to listen to you), sauntered straight back to my chair and quilt–a little huffy, I’ll admit–for more of friend Edward’s basil lemonade and a cold KFC chicken leg.

What a FUN fesitival this really lived up to be.  Incredible music and a great crowd.  Even with the rain.

I LOVE Savannah!

Five Friday Happy Bringers (9/28/12)

The last Friday in September!  And I’m happy about:

1.  This incredibly liberating truth: “It’s not really about how smart you are.  It’s about how ARE you smart?!  Let’s teach this joyful principle to our children (and ourselves).  For smartness comes in SO many forms and sizes and packages.

2.  Attending a workshop at SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design), Adobe Day at SCAD, all about using software with which I’m totally unfamiliar.  It stretched me, made me think beyond my typical comfort level of thinking (i.e., what size coffee should I get at Dunkin Donuts).  Here’s the blurb about the workshop:

Adobe  staff will demonstrate how you can unleash your creativity and deliver
engaging digital experiences through innovations in design, Web and
video development tools. Overhauled workflows allow students and
professors to get the most out of lab and classroom time. All SCAD
students are provided a free copy of the Creative Suite 6 Master Suite
and Lightroom through MySCAD. This event is free and open to all SCAD
students, professors and staff.

I left FLOORED by what can be done on the computer these days.

3.  Umbrellas.  Especially open ones.

4.  Ninjas

(Grandies Daniel and Gabriel)

5.  Knowing, really knowing, that the quality of my thinking moment by moment, and day by day determines the level of my happiness in those moments and days.

Have a Joyful Thinking weekend.

Has Anyone Told You?


Well, I’m telling you now!

Elephant Ears & Spiritual Readings

Is there a botanical specimen you’re just WILD about?  There certainly is for me!  It’s the Elephant Ear (Colocasia esculenta in plant taxonomy).  And not just because they make my big ears look smaller (though, of course, that’s part of it).  Elephant Ears also exude a mysterious mystical and magical quality.

Okay that sounded rather silly and new age-y.  So I’d better explain.  But when you hear the WHOLE story, DO NOT JUDGE ME!  Or at least do not judge me too harshly.  Deal?  (If no deal, you’re not allowed to read the rest of this post.)

Well, I have always simply adored the Elephant Ear family of luciously leafy plants.  But my REAL love affair with EE’s heated up last October when I trekked to New Orleans to make an academic presentation at the Popular Culture Association in the South annual conference.  Really, I’m telling the truth.  Okay, fine, here’s proof:  a blurb from the conference program:

Saturday 11.8 Pedagogy (Babylon) [DVD/Monitor]

Chair: Michael Moeder, Salisbury University

“A Presentation Software By Any Other Name: The Light and the Dark of Shakespearean Powerpoint Presentations in College English Classrooms” Mark King and David Janssen, Gordon College

“The Visual Essay: Thinking and Playing Outside the Paragraphs” Neal Saye, Georgia Southern University

“Teaching Students to Write for TV and Film: A Comprehensive Plan for the Undergraduate Dramatic Scripting Course” Michael Moeder

So maybe mine doesn’t sound quite as smart as the other two.  But I had lots of visuals, with continual streaming over two screens!  And handouts!  And samples of student work!  And I gave out colored construction paper and had everyone do little projects!  (My hypothesis is that a few bells and whistles, along with hands-on tinkering, can make up for intellectual depth.  And besides, it was Saturday morning, for heaven’s sake.)

The Elephant Ear connection is coming, I promise–just give me a minute or two.

When I got to the Hotel InterContinental on St. Charles to check in, I used the Winning Strategy a friend taught me years ago: ALWAYS ask if an upgrade is “possibly available.”  But BEFORE you ask, set the stage: say something either Pitiful with a Touch of Humor (“I’m SO glad to FINALLY get here to your BEAUTIFUL hotel. My flight was SO turbulent!  I prayed more in those two hours than I have in the past two decades!  But what a peaceful aura both in this gorgeous lobby AND coming from you!  Thank you so much!” or something excitedly exuberant, again with an attempt at a tad of humor (“New-Party-Orleans!  I’m HERE!  And you’re my INCREDIBLE host/hostess!  Can you show me around when you get off work?  THANK YOU for having me!  You RULE this city!).  Then smile like you’re high on beignets and plead for the upgrade.  IT WORKS.  SO VERY OFTEN.  Try it.

I did.  And Bam!  I was given a Club Level upgrade with full food and drink privileges and a nifty elevator key card that whisked me up to the exclusive Executive Floor.  (Another thing, always buy a thank you card and give it to your benefactor during your stay.  It’s good karma.)

Swinging from chandelier in “the club”:

So the second night in Nawlins, after Wandering around Bourbon Street and Wondering, both quietly to myself and out loud to my fellow conference attendee friends, “Do those people on that balcony KNOW they are sorta naked?” and “Why am I catching all these beads?  I have forty strands now”  and “That’s a real alligator that monkey is holding, isn’t it?!” I left the decibels and the adult circus, and meandered over, first to sweet Cafe Du Monde, and then to Jackson Square.

With powdered lips I walked the square’s perimeter, taking in the colorful display of late night street performers, vendors and musicians.

My watch yawned midnight, but my heart gave me the injunction: walk around the square again, and if I make “comfortable, knowing” eye contact with a spiritual reader, I will stop and, uh, be read or whatever.

I walked slowly, my footfalls methodical and audible.

Two-thirds around, I saw her.

A tiny, wisp of a woman from the islands wearing a bandana and clenching a shawl in the sticky October heat.  She sat at a card table.  Breaking eye contact first, I walked on, feeling silly.  So we made eye contact–but “comfortable and knowing”?  I don’t think so.  Looking back confirmed my foolishness.  Her gaze had dropped.  Nothing but a bird-like woman beginning to close up shop.

Until she turned her body toward me and smiled.  A caramel Mona Lisa.  An inviting mystery.

Thirty minutes later I walked away from Ms. Michelle with 1) a small elephant ear plant wrapped in wet paper towels and 2) ears resounding with what I had heard.

“You live near moving water, a river, an ocean, which is good.  Go embrace it often.  You need the movement of water.  You’re too rigid.”

Many other words and images left me, not shocked or awed by their relevancy and accuracy, but at peace with the connectedness of us all, the encouragement of strangers who are not strange after all.  Oneness.

“What do you want to ask?

I had two queries.  The first concerned the number four (my favorite number).  I loved her mathematics.  They confirmed what I knew–that all is well.

The second, as I took in the sight and smell of her small display of Mason-jarred summer leftover blossoms and greenery: “May I have that elephant ear?”  The green beauty had caught my eye from the start, small but holding its own, even without vibrant yellow or red.

“Of course.  It’s for you.  Take it.  Plant elephant ears, pick them.  Put them under your pillow.  They are health and good to you.”

Maybe I gave Michelle all the answers by coming to her, by asking questions.  Maybe I heard what I knew already.  Maybe I embraced the sugary night too tightly.  But I walked away buoyed by knowing.  Knowing that encouragement takes a myriad of forms.


Unexpectedly I saw Michelle the next day in the sunlight.  We hugged and smiled, amped up in the brightness, having taken care of deep talk the night before.

Later in that final day of my New Orleans stay, I stumbled across the Jean Lefitte National Historic Site and Preserve.

But what was REALLY cool is what I found there:

Water.  And Elephant Ears.  Across the street from the mighty Mississippi River.

Back home in Savannah, one day I strolled the campus of Armstrong Atlantic State University, and here’s what I found:

Huge Elephant ears.

Oh, I planted my own Elephant Ears.  This summer they grew beautifully:

(Excuse me for looking a bit like Captain Kangaroo in the above pic.  Google him, kids.)

Moral of story (at least for me):  Listen.


Where should I take my yacht tonight?


Sunday Quote #2 — 9/23/12

“Whatever I put my attention on grows stronger in my life.”

— Deepak Chopra

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