Friday, December 26, 2014

Happy Kwanzaa! Day One: Umoja (Unity)

Today is the first day of Kwanzaa -- the stopgap that happens after Hanukkah and  Christmas, when everyone spent too much, ate too much, stayed out way too long or hung out way too late.  For some it's Boxing Day, which is just another boost that keeps the party going. It's the perfect moment to come together, probably because you're still with family, still on vacation, still away or at least in holiday mode.

I have to pause and reflect, to count my blessings, to say grace and to be grateful and to let my soul be glad, to let go of whatever I shouldn't be holding on to, to hold still and let all this music, all these ideas find their way out of me.  There is family and there are friends who are family and there are those we love and there are those who love us. Every day there is more love. God bless us, everyone.

Enjoy the classic sounds of Queen Latifah's U.N.I.T.Y. -- and for a classic post on the first day of Kwanzaa, click here

Monday, December 08, 2014

Sew What?

I'm so happy, I could spit sunshine.

I splurged today and bought a Singer Sew Essentials container -- a modern day sewing basket. It's got 165 pieces that fit together nicely in this nifty, snap together plastic satchel of a box, which basically means it's got everything I'll need to start sewing all over again.  And I mean everything. Bobbins. Seam rippers. Pins. A jillion yards of thread. Everything!  I'll keep my old sewing kit for the overspill.  It's cloth and a little dingy but perfectly useful. I just needed to cook with gasoline.

I can build on this -- one stitch at a time. I'll start by making small repairs on everyday things. A hem here, a pair of socks there, a missing button on this, and on and on.  Once I'm really comfortable, I'll yank out my sewing machine. I have to get proper sewing scissors, beautiful shears.  Sewing is fairly relaxing work that's hardly distracting once I get into the feel of it. It leaves my mind to wander and that's when ideas come to me.  Get that left side of the brain going and the right side of the brain is free to wander and explore.

This is a new beginning that's really me going back to the beginning.  What's new is what I used to do. I learned how to sew when I was a small child.  One summer, my Godmother/Aunt Doris enrolled my cousin Leslie and I in sewing classes at the Singer sewing shop in the local mall. I started by making simple things, like a-line skirts. My Aunt Doris gave me my own little sewing basket and looked over my shoulder from a great, grand distance -- she was an expert seamstress -- and by the end of the summer, I could make my own dresses.  By the time I finished college, I fell off.  I had a stint in the costume department of the theater wing that was fun but that came and went. Now that wearing vintage is essential, I'm pretty crafty -- and those sewing skills have come in pretty handy.

I'm already thinking about stuff I want to make, stuff I have to mend, stuff I want to take apart. Hopefully when I get dressed, I won't look like anyone else.  I'll look the way the music sounds.

The older I get, the closer I get to the kid I used to be. When I am old, I will be that girl all over again -- living in the Lowcountry, knitting and sewing and baking and cooking, floating on my back in the water and swimming for hours on end, running just for the feel of my legs spinning out from under me, reading and researching ideas and writing and thinking and making cool art and dreaming of living in New York City...

Monday, December 01, 2014

Joy, Unspeakable Joy

Interestingly, the theme for December's NaBloPoMo is joy, which -- unlike happiness -- is of the divine.  There is the work -- gigs that are work and auditions that feel like work and boxing that's nothing but work -- and all of the goals and priorities that swirl around me constantly, like determined fireflies. And there is all of this work that happens inside of the work -- voice lessons, guitar practice, writing a song down as it comes to me. Somewhere in there, joy remains a constant. It's an invisible string that runs all the way through the fabric of my inner world, somehow setting things right. When the filth of the world won't subside and I have every reason to be depressed and angry, joy lets me keep my spiritual equilibrium and I bounce like a bright red rubber ball.  Joy, unspeakable joy. For this, I am truly grateful.

There's a lot of things that make me happy but I can think of very few things that give me joy.  Music is definitely one of them. So is performance.

This is probably my favorite song in the entire history of ever. I think the whole world should hear it. 

Behind, every dark cloud
There's a silver lining
And after each rain storm
There's a bright new sky

When troubles grieve you
And friends deceive you
Oh don't worry
It will pass over by and by

When troubles pull your heart strings
Don't be discouraged
And even though pain and misery
Fill your eyes with tears

These troubles will soon pass
Yes, soon they will depart
Oh hallelulah,
They will pass over by and by

So remember

Weeping may endure for a night but
Joy, joy, joy, joy
Joy Joy will come
Joy, Joy
Joy, Joy
Joy, Joy

Weeping may endure for a night,but
Joy, joy, joy, joy
Joy Joy will come
Joy, Joy
Joy, Joy
Joy, Joy