Tuesday, March 16, 2010

"Call Gloria!"

Have you ever done something far outside your comfort zone? Something just to prove to yourself you are juicy and alive and way more courageous than you think?

Well, I am out here on the skinny branches right now. I am “starring” (along with a number of other “stars”) in a theater production It is the 13th annual Choc Follies. Choc meaning Childrens Hospital of Orange County. This year’s musical is “The Wizard of OC.” as the narrator and a participant in 8 musical numbers (yes, that means singing and dancing while freaking out!). Check out the fan page on FaceBook.

This adventure began about six months ago when Ted and I were watching Dancing with the Stars. I declared, “My only regret in life is that I haven't done a lot more dancing! I think I’ve missed a whole lot of fun!”

Not long after that a friend told me she had just had an amazing experience with a psychic medium. I was so intrigued and curious that I made an appointment. Yes, it was amazing, and I won’t go into all of it here, but the really interesting result was that my late husband Paul kept repeating, and insisting that this woman tell me “Call Gloria!”

“I don’t even know anyone named Gloria!” I told her. Later, I asked myself over and over Who is Gloria and why should I call her?

A few days later while sitting at my computer my eyes fell on a little post-it note with my handwriting of a phone number and the name Gloria Zigner. Oh, I realized, that’s the woman I met a while ago who is the society editor for Orange Coast Magazine. Now, why would Paul be urging me to call her? Gloria and I had spoken briefly and casually mentioned having lunch together so she had left a message on my phone. I'd put the note on my computer as a reminder, yet had forgotten to make the call.

When Gloria answered, she said, “Let’s meet for lunch. I want to talk you into being in the Choc Follies!” I learned Gloria had founded the Follies, a yearly musical production which has raised nearly $5 million for our world renowned Children’s Hospital. Gloria's beautiful face and bright red hair is a clue she has a past in Show Biz. She invented this spectacular event out of her passion for musicals.

“If you can walk, you can dance!” she declared. Her contagious enthusiasm and promise of fun did indeed convince me to jump in.

So, because of this very magical, mystical story, here I am, dancing and singing my little heart out. My devoted pal Deb has joined me, and the talents of the director, the dance director and the choreographer wow us. The script is hilarious and I get to deliver some great lines. Deb has bought tap shoes and hired a tap tutor to get her up to speed.

Opening night is only two weeks away now. Yikes! I am bouncing around my office to our practice CD training my feet to remember the steps and moves to Ease on Down the Road, the du-wap melody of It’s In His Kiss (the shoop-shoop song), and dance steps I actually remember from the 60s (the Pony, the Mashed Potato, the Watusi), the gorgeous Barbara Streisand hit Ordinary Miracles. (Dare you not to cry when you hear our exuberant harmonies in that last one.)

One of our most rousing songs is A Brand New Day! What a great reminder that every day offers an opportunity to reinvent ourselves and tell a completely new story, to try something wild, and silly, and at times, terrifying.

Say a little prayer for me, please. And, if you are going to be in Orange County, between April 1 and 3, please show up. Showing up is everything! You know I’m going to, and I bet Paul will be watching.

Sorry, no recipes this week. I’m waaaaaaaay to busy to cook!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Welcome morning!

What sparks you? What lifts your spirits and makes your mood soar?

For me, it is a certain kind of poetry I call ecstatic poetry.

Poets (mystical poets especially) love to light us up! As proof, I found an email message in my inbox this morning from Daniel Ladinsky, translator of the Hafiz poem That Sweet Moon Language in my previous blog, saying

"Thank you for sharing my work with others."

How Daniel found my blog so quickly I have no idea! I am deeply honored to share his exquisite translations.

This morning, lines of Anne Sexton's celebratory poem, Welcome Morning, run through my memory before I even open my eyes:

There is joy

in all:

in the hair I brush each morning, . . .

in the chapel of eggs I cook

each morning

in the outcry from the kettle

that heats my coffee

each morning . . .

Through Anne’s reverent eyes I meet my morning routine as ritual.

All this is God,

right here in my pea-green house

each morning . . .

and I mean

though often forget,

to give thanks,

to faint down by the kitchen table

in a prayer of rejoicing

as the holy birds at the kitchen window

peck into their marriage of seeds.

How can we hear such contagious joy without pouring meaning into our daily routines, stirring up poetry of our own?

So while I think of it,

let me paint a thank-you on my palm

for this God, this laughter of the morning,

lest it go unspoken.

With her warning in mind, my personal poetry would sound something like this . . .

There is beauty all over my bed

this morning.

In the bristle of Ted’s brow on my lips

this morning

In gentle rain on the roof

this morning

In soft cat kisses on my cheek as Maya kneads a memory

of her mother into my pillow

this morning,

In the bubbling of my [Coach's] oatmeal

this morning

in the hummingbirds around their feeder

seeking an early Spring

this morning.

Heaven on earth in my beloved hillside home

this morning

In having one more day to love my life.

I forget to be anywhere but now

offering heartful praise

for bountiful waves of bliss

this morning.

In reciting our own appreciation, our lives, and our morning breakfast cups, overflow with gratitude. We transform the ordinary into the extraordinary.

Anne Sexton’s poem ends:

The joy that isn't shared I've heard,

dies young.

So--I’d love to know—how does your morning sound?

P.S. May I share another delicious discovery? It is the new brand of Coach's Oatmeal, available in large bags at Costco. It truly tastes like the Scottish brand you need to simmer forever, but takes only five minutes.