Martin Luther King Day 1/20/2020

Over the Holidays, I started binge-watching West Wing on Netflix…well, to be honest, I should say RE-binge watching. I actually own the fancy boxed set so have seen every episode many, many times…just not for a while. (We currently don’t have a single DVD player in the whole house.)

I started it again in early December as a distraction from some personal drama, but I quickly realized how much I have needed this kind of political antithesis for quite a while now.

Trump Escapades Inundation should be a category in the DSM-5 under the PTSD diagnosis heading…

My only real connection to POTUS is that I truly empathize with his hair issues, my own having thinned dramatically enough that I have to experiment with all manner of the “comb-over”.

Watching the brilliant portrayal of how life in the West Wing, and in our country, could and should be has been just as inspirational this time through as all the others.

I am a die-hard Aaron Sorkin fan and have absolutely loved everything he’s done; all the movies, and TV shows, especially Sports Night, the Newsroom, and the way too short Studio 60. We need a ton of sentimentality and idealism these days just to counteract some of the other stuff that’s happening. And Sorkin is the master!

The last episode I watched had the following quote in it.

“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral. Returning violence with violence only multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of start.”  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

And then I remembered a couple of days ago I saw the episode where Aimee Mann singing James Taylor’s wonderful song, “Shed a Little Light”.

So in honor of MLK day, and to do my part, for just a few moments, to distract from all the…well, you know, I found 3 versions of this beautiful song.

The first, just the song so you can concentrate on the lyrics (printed right below).

Next, a really moving cover by The Maccabeats and Naturally 7  that James Taylor himself really liked!

And last, another wonderful, uplifting version by James and friends.

If you can sit through all three versions, you’ll be singing right along by the end, and maybe even a little inspired to Keep on Trucking no matter what unbelievable thing you-know-who does tomorrow.

1st version…

“Shed A Little Light”

Let us turn our thoughts today to Martin Luther King
and recognize that there are ties between us, all men and women living on the Earth.
Ties of hope and love, sister and brotherhood, that we are bound together
in our desire to see the world become a place in which our children can grow free and strong.
We are bound together by the task that stands before us and the road that lies ahead.
We are bound and we are bound.

There is a feeling like the clenching of a fist
There is a hunger in the center of the chest
There is a passage through the darkness and the mist
And though the body sleeps the heart will never rest

Shed a little light, oh Lord, so that we can see, just a little light, oh Lord.
Wanna stand it on up, stand it on up, oh Lord,
wanna walk it on down, shed a little light, oh Lord.

Can’t get no light from the dollar bill, don’t give me no light from a TV screen.
When I open my eyes I wanna drink my fill from the well on the hill,
do you know what I mean?

Shed a little light, oh Lord, so that we can see, just a little light, oh Lord.
Wanna stand it on up, stand it on up, oh Lord,
wanna walk it on down, shed a little light, oh Lord.

There is a feeling like the clenching of a fist, there is a hunger in the center of the chest.
There is a passage through the darkness and the mist
and though the body sleeps the heart will never rest.

Oh, Let us turn our thoughts today to Martin Luther King
and recognize that there are ties between us.

All men and women living on the Earth, ties of hope and love, sister and brotherhood.
2nd version, James’s favorite cover…

 

 

3rd version, sing along. I dare you!

 

Thank you Dr. King, for being one of my most important teachers…

 

Tuesday Photo Challenge-Peace 11/26/19

Inspired by

I feel so lucky all of a sudden because my mind is reeling with all the places where I have felt true peace. Most of them, I have no photos for…like the beaches in the Southern Lau group of the Fiji Islands…beaches so deserted I had absolutely no problem believing mine were the very first human footprints in that sand…ever.

Or a baby sleeping on my chest. Or cat or dog or….

Or the aftermath of beautiful love-making. (Yes, I said it…and definitely no photos of that.)

In my everyday life, one of my favorite places to get calmed and grounded in peace is the porch swing at our Mountain Retreat. It’s not just the view, though it does look out over a beautiful, peaceful valley.

IMG_7518

There is simply something magical in the energy right there, in that spot.

porch swing
The swing, with the huge addition to the house being built all around it.

We have all taken naps there. It’s just that peaceful.

BUT here’s what this challenge really brought up for me. A week from now, on December 8th, almost 39 years ago, we lost John Lennon.

It was a heartbreaking day for me but there was a gift in it I have been grateful for again and again all these years.

I remember the moment I found out so clearly. I was stuck on a bridge in typically frustrating commuter traffic…stop…go…stop…go, when I noticed that every one of my pre-set radio stations was playing a John Lennon song. Uh oh.

I knew what that probably meant. Sure enough, I heard the official announcement when I switched to NPR (National Public Radio).

I burst into tears.

You know how when you are driving, especially slowly, you catch movements in the cars right around you. We were stopped and something in the car just on my left caught my peripheral vision. I turned to look, my make-up running tears streaming, and found a young man half my age, looking right back at me. He was also crying. We locked eyes for an intimate eternity, and there is no doubt in my mind, we were sharing the same devastating moment. It was confirmed when we both rolled down our windows and realized we were listening to the same song on our car radios. Imagine.

It was almost as if our intense connection spread because around us, there was a small cluster of about 8 cars that did not move for several minutes, even though the traffic ahead had opened up. No one behind us even honked.

I don’t know how to describe this but other windows must have been rolled down too because through the air, floated snippets of Instant Karma, Imagine, and Whatever Gets You Through the Night from pumped up radio volumes all around us.

A strangely and powerfully peaceful moment…

For years, I have shared this story as an illustration of the truest form of human intimacy. An example of how we can be completely connected with anyone, including total strangers…no judgment, no bias, no words even necessary. We can connect with almost anyone through shared pain or shared joy. It’s the same experience we have when we make eye contact with someone else who is also watching a baby, or kitten playing, or a Mama duck herding her ducklings across a road. There is complete peace in those moments, sadness or delight….because for a moment, we know that we are all in this together.

Just imagine finding enough ways to co-experience this level of harmony…that we might actually save ourselves……….

Tuesday Photo Challenge – Peace

A Photo a Week Challenge: Timing (again) 8/3/19

Maybe you had to be there to understand the whole Timing part…

A few days ago, in the late afternoon, I walked through my darkening Group Therapy room. I was headed for the door into the main part of  my house, and was stopped in my tracks by a stunning image.

There was one narrow beam of sunlight, still left in the day, and it was streaming through the row trees that border the west side of my property. This spotlight shot through my window, perfectly aimed at a crystal elephant that sits on the window sill (a precious gift from my grandson).

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The combination sent a laser-like rainbow clear across the room! It was huge and landed on the only section of West-facing, uncovered, white wall.

I knew I wanted to snap a photo of the results but, honestly, by the time I got back from the sprint to get my phone, it was already fading…and fast!

I got these shots…and then it was gone!!!

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Good enough photos I suppose. But it triggered in me the idea for a photo card, which I have made for years, and give as gifts.

I set my alarm for graduated sundown times, for the next three days, and waited for that perfectly timed beam to recreated the rainbow wall-art, so I could create my imagined photo.

But it never happened…not even close and no amount of staging, shifting, twisting and turning of my crystal elephant brought that big color spectrum result from a few days earlier. One of the days, I even ran across to my neighbor’s house, whose kitchen I know gets a ton of late afternoon sun. Me and my elephant, racing the sunset, frantically searching for the right timing and position.

No luck!

But I’ll tell you what I was after so you can picture it yourself. And who knows, maybe you’ll come upon a perfectly timed rainbow someday and can capture my illusive photo.

It’s an image that would be good for everyone!  (In my opinion.)

Here it is: Imagine the hand shadow in the photo below, imposed across that rainbow. I can think of so many uses for a greeting card like that, especially for some of the struggling, newly “out” young people I work with these days…

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https://nadiamerrillphotography.wordpress.com/2019/08/01/a-photo-a-week-challenge-timing-is-everything/

Hopeful, uplifting songs for today, July 4th, 2019

My favorite patriotic song! Dedicated to Julius and Luca!
I Am a Patriot
And the river opens for the righteous
And the river opens for the righteous
And the river opens for the righteous
And the river opens for the righteous
And the river opens for the righteous
Someday
I was walking with my brother
and he wondered what’s on my mind
I said, What I believe in my soul
ain’t what I see with my eyes
And we can’t turn our backs this time
I am a patriot and I love my country
Because my country is all I know
I want to be with my family
people who understand me
I’ve got nowhere else to go
And the river opens for the righteous
And the river opens for the righteous
And the river opens for the righteous
Someday
And I was talking with my sister
she looked so fine
I said, Baby, what’s on your mind
She said, I want to run like the lion
released from the cages
Released from the rages
burning in my heart tonight, yeah
And I ain’t no Communist and I ain’t no Capitalist
And I ain’t no Socialist and I ain’t no Imperialist
And I ain’t no Democrat so I ain’t no Republican
I only know one party and it is freedom
I am, I am, I am
I am a patriot and I love my country
Because my county is all I know
And the river opens for the righteous
And the river opens for the righteous
And the river opens for the righteous
Someday
And the river opens for the righteous
And the river opens for the righteous
And the river opens for the righteous
And the river opens for the righteous
I want to run like the lion
Released from the cages
Released from the rages
I said what I believe in my soul
Ain’t what I see with my eyes
Someday
Someday
Someday
Someday
Someday
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Steven Van Zandt
I Am a Patriot lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, BMG Rights Management
And this one too! New to me
Americans
Hold on, don’t fight your war alone
Halo around you, don’t have to face it on your own
We will win this fight
Let all souls be brave
We’ll find a way to heaven
We’ll find a way
War is old, so is sex
Let’s play God, you go next
Heads go up, men go down
Try my luck, stand my ground
Die in church, live in jail
Say her name, twice in hell
Uncle Sam kissed a man
Jim Crow Jesus rose again
I like my woman in the kitchen
I teach my children superstitions
I keep my two guns on my blue nightstand
A pretty young thang, she can wash my clothes
But she’ll never ever wear my pants
I pledge allegiance to the flag
Learned the words from my mom and dad
Cross my heart and I hope to die
With a big old piece of American pie
Love me baby, love me for who I am
Fallen angels singing, “clap your hands”
Don’t try to take my country, I will defend my land
I’m not crazy, baby, naw
I’m American
I’m American
I’m American
I’m American
Seventy-nine cent to your dollar
All that bullshit from white-collars
You see my color before my vision
Sometimes I wonder if you would fly
Would it help you make a better decision?
I pledge allegiance to the flag
Learned the words from my mom and dad
Cross my heart and I hope to die
With a big old piece of American pie
Just love me baby, love me for who I am
Fallen angels singing, “clap your hands”
Don’t try to take my country, I will defend my land
I’m not crazy, baby, naw
I’m American
I’m American
I’m American
I’m American
Let me help you in here
Until women can get equal pay for equal work
This is not my America
Until same gender loving people can be who they are
This is not my America
Until black people can come home from a police stop
Without being shot in the head
This is not my America
Until poor whites can get a shot at being successful
This is not my America
I can’t hear nobody talkin’ to me
Just love me baby, love me for who I am
Fallen angels singing, “clap your hands”
Don’t try to take my country, I will defend my land
I’m not crazy, baby, naw
I’m American (love me baby)
I’m American (love me for who I am)
Until Latinos and Latinas don’t have to run from walls
This is not my America
But I tell you today that the devil is a liar
Because it’s gon’ be my America before it’s all over
Please sign your name on the dotted line
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Charles D. II Joseph / Janelle Monae Robinson / Jon Webb / Kellis Earl Jr. Parker / Nathaniel III Irvin
Americans lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

SongLyricSunday 3/17/19

 

“You’re watching the official music video for Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – “Teach Your Children” written by Graham Nash. Originally released on the 1970 CSNY studio album “Deja Vu”, “Teach Your Children” is featured on a 2018 Graham Nash career retrospective entitled “Over The Years…” Get a copy here https://rh-ino.co/overtheyears The video is a collaboration between Graham Nash and celebrated filmmaker and animator Jeff Scher. The imagery frames the youth-led liberal activism of 2018 against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement and Peace demonstrations of the 1960’s, providing a powerful visual aid to Graham Nash’s relevant-as-ever appeal to teach not only our children but also our parents well. “I wrote Teach Your Children because we have much to teach them. Conversely, I believe we as parents have much to learn from them as well. I think that Jeff Scher did a wonderful job of animating my lyrics and positioning the song in a contemporary setting.” – Graham Nash (2018)”

Teach Your Children

Lyrics

You who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by
And so become yourself
Because the past is just a good-bye.
Teach your children well,
Their father’s hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks, the one you’ll know by.
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry,
So just look at them and sigh
And know they love you.
And you, of tender years,
Can’t know the fears that your elders grew by,
And so please help them with your youth,
They seek the truth before they can die.
Teach your parents well,
Their children’s hell will slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picks, the one you’ll know by.
Don’t you ever ask them why, if they told you, you will cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.
Songwriters: Graham Nash
Teach Your Children lyrics © Spirit Music Group

https://jimadamsauthordotcom.wordpress.com/2019/03/16/spring-break/