Done In Love

Yesterday I proudly sat in the audience and watched my son and his fifth grade class present their special Black History Month Performance.  Each student had researched and learned about a different “trailblazer and difference maker.”  Each student had written a biography about this individual, and each student presented the biography to the audience, speaking as if the student was the distinguished person.  

My son learned about Dr. Daniel Hale Williams, a doctor who opened the first integrated hospital; a doctor who learned about, and implemented, sanitary treatment conditions in operating rooms; and the doctor who performed the first successful open heart surgery.

My favorite part of my son’s “I Am Dr. Daniel Hale Williams” speech was the quote at the end.  In addition to the general biography facts my son and his classmates had researched, each student had also learned a famous quote that was associated with their distinguished individual, a quote that speaks of the character and actions of this famous person.  

And this week, I’d like to share with my readers that quote.  It’s a quote that I think is a beautiful mantra for how to live one’s life.

“Anything is possible when it’s done in love and everything you can do should be done in love or it will fail.”  Dr. Daniel Hale Williams


A Hopeful Read

Almost Everything: Notes on Hope by Anne Lamott is “an exploration of hope and the place it holds in our lives.”  That phrase alone was enough to make me want to read this book.  And then in an act of serendipity, because I had never mentioned this book to her, a very good friend of mine gave me this book for Christmas. 

I just finished reading it a few days ago and would love to share with my readers some of my favorite passages.

“…life lasts so briefly, like free theater in the park – glorious and tedious; full of wonder and often hard to understand, but right before our very eyes, and capable of rousing us, awakening us to life, to the green and very real grass, the mess, the sky, the limbo.”

Almost everyone is screwed up, broken, clingy, scared, and yet designed for joy.”

Adults rarely have the imagination or energy of children, but we do have one another, and nature, and old black-and-white movies, and the ultimate secret weapon, books.  Books!  To fling myself into a book, to be carried away to another world while being at my most grounded, on my butt or in my bed or favorite chair, is literally how I have survived being here at all.”

Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”    (That one line makes up the entirety of chapter four).

Hate is such an ugly word.  How about loathe for the verb, abhorrence for the noun?  (I agree.  When I was a teacher, “hate” was not allowed to be spoken in my classroom).

So, writing.  What a bitch.”  (And this begins my favorite chapter of the book).

In my current less-young age, I’ve learned that almost more than anything, stories hold us together.  Stories teach us what is important about life, why we are here and how it is best to behave, and that inside us we have access to treasure, in memories and observations, in imagination.”


Life, Love, and Pop Songs

During some of my high school and college years, I worked in a flower shop.  Those years gave me a whole new way of looking at Valentine’s Day, or in shop lingo, “V. Day.”

V. Day meant at least twelve-hour shifts at minimum wage (at that time, $4.25/hour), tired feet, swollen fingers that were cut by thorns.  Valentine’s Day meant standing at the counter creating one arrangement after the other of one dozen long-stem red roses in a vase. 

Later on, after I left the flower shop, Valentine’s Day again became a day I could look forward to.  (Though from the beginning of our relationship, I asked my husband never to buy me red roses for Valentine’s Day).

Valentine’s Day is the day of love.  But, where do we learn about love?  From our parents?  The movies?  Books?  Our friends?  Probably a mix of all of those.

But also from music.  My husband and I don’t have one song that we consider “ours.”  We have multiple songs that each have a special meaning for us. 

A few years ago, one of my personal essays, “A Blue-Jeans Type of Marriage,” was included in a special anthology.  (The title for my essay was inspired by Neil Diamond’s “Forever in Blue Jeans.”)  Everything I Need to Know About Love I Learned From Pop Songs, edited by Laura Roberts, includes a variety of stories that, as said in the book’s introduction, are “all about love.  Love hard won, love lost, love unrequited, love that lasts, and love that’s just a fading dream.”

And now readers, it’s your turn.  Feel free to share any favorite love songs in the comments section.  

Wishing you all a Valentine’s Day filled with sweetness, feel-good tunes, and smiles!


I Agree For Sure

Oprah Winfrey’s What I Know For Sure is the latest book on my just-completed list.  This book had been on my to-read list because I was curious.  What did Oprah, with all her experiences and resources, know for sure?  Would it resonate for me?

Yes and no.  There are some universal truths in this book.  But there were also times I felt incredibly disconnected such as while reading of Oprah’s experiences when she was in Fiji or sitting on her porch outside her house in Maui.

But, this week, allow me to share a few of the parts that moved me.  And maybe you’ll find that they resonate with you as well.

Give me a great novel or memoir, some tea, and a cozy spot to curl up in, and I’m in heaven.  I love to live in another person’s thoughts; I marvel at the bonds I feel with people who come alive on the page, regardless of how different their circumstances might be from mine.  I not only feel I know these people, but I also recognize more of myself.  Insight, information, knowledge, inspiration, power: All that and more can come through a good book.”

You’re not the same woman you were a decade ago; if you’re lucky, you’re not the same woman you were last year.  The whole point of aging, as I see it, is change.  If we let them, our experiences can keep teaching us about ourselves.  I celebrate that.  Honor it.  Hold it in reverence.  And I’m grateful for every age I’m blessed to become.”

If you can get paid for doing what you love, every paycheck is a bonus.  Give yourself the bonus of a lifetime: Pursue your passion.  Discover what you love.  Then do it!

To this day, excellence is my intention.  To be excellent in giving.  In graciousness.  In effort.  In struggle and in strife.  For me, being excellent means always doing my personal best.”

Live so that at the end of each day, you can say, ‘I did my very best.’  That’s what it means to excel at the great work of living your best life.”