Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Summertime and Salvador Dali

It's been a couple of weeks since I've written.

I blame the searing summer heat, the culprit that has sapped my energy, so that the bare minimum is all I care to do. Work, cook dinner, pay bills, vegetate for an hour of Big Bang Theory and Fraiser, then to bed.

Pathetic, I know.

90 degree days with 80% humidity have a way of enervating any drive one may have had in winter and early spring. All projects and goals cease and the will to live wanes considerably.

That's just how it is here in Florida. And then the unthinkable happens.....the A/C blows, fails.

(skat Beethoven's fifth symphony).

The next few days waiting for the repair man and replacement unit turn into a couple of weeks. Hence, the soggiest, dripping days you've ever dreaded.

Think of melting wax,  only it's your body losing it's shape, like the candles you take out at Christmas that have been stored in the hot attic or garage all year.  Condensation seeps into your eyelids. Life is slow motion, lethargic, liquefied.

Melting Clock - Salvador Dali
Even inanimate items in the house have transformed. Linen curtains hang heavy, weighted by added moisture in the air. The cotton voile sheers sag. Kitchen towels droop. The tile floors, though clean are tacky.

Everything looks and feels like a Salvador Dali painting.

It's no wonder he has a museum on the west coast of this  steamy state in St Petersburg.

"Nobody in Thailand has air conditioning," says my 22 year old son who spent two months in that exotic country last summer. "This is a way of life for them. They sweat day and night."

The Persistence of Memory - Salvador Dali

My daughter spent a month in the Yucatan

where air conditioning is rare and they sleep in

hammocks for better air  c i r c u l a t i o n.

I was seriously thinking of how I could rig one up in my bedroom. The outside temperature isn't so bad at night, except our patios are screenless and mosquitoes lurk in plague numbers and predatory force.

 A few portable a/c units save us.

Needless to say, I look forward to the installation of our long awaited mechanical climate modifier.

Then things may resume their proper shape and life may get back to a state of normalcy.

I doubt I'll be able to say the same for Dali's paintings...

But that's as it should be.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Peace Offering of Cold Tangerines

One of these days I'm going to discern what one should post for world-wide consumption and what should be left in the journal on the night stand.

The last post should have been left in my journal. My tirade was more suitable for the ears of God rather than the eyes of my dear readers.

I apologize.

In an effort to remove the lingering gloom and lighten the atmosphere, I turn to relate to you the relaxing past weekend shared with my husband.  About an hour's drive north there is a sprawling resort in Hutchinson Island. Spanning the width of the intracoastal shore and the Atlantic ocean,  lie bike paths, tennis courts, golf courses and several types of vacation residences. We stayed at the hotel proper, poolside.

Poolside is where I started the weekend with a new book. Well, it's not exactly new, since my daughter gave it to me 7 months ago for my birthday. But it was the perfect place, bare feet stretched out on the chaise lounge, straw hat shading the Florida mid-summer sun, to pick up the book and read.

Reading it was the perfect mood modifier, almost anti-depressant-like (though I wouldn't know) and had a most transforming effect on my month-long contrary state. (Previous post presented as proof). But that all changed with the first chapter called "On Waiting" from this book that is truly as refreshing as its title:

Cold Tangerines, by Shauna Niequist.

Cold Tangerines is the book I give you sort of as a peace offering and antidote to my last wrist-slitting post. Your mood will  be miraculously elevated and your demeanor altered as you take in each word.

Word after word, page after page I read. At the pool, at the beach, and in the king size bed that was THE most comfortable bed I've ever slept in (with more down pillows than is surely legal), other than my sister's bed in San Diego, California. I found myself content with the 'now and here.'

Here's an excerpt about expectations for that 'one monumental thing' we all so erroneously look for; that big break that will morph life into whatever fantasy we feel we're entitled to. And in doing so, we miss the mundane moments that hold the true magnificence of life. Enjoy this excerpt:

Today is your big moment. Moments, really. The life you've been waiting for is happening all around you. The scene unfolding right outside your window is worth more than the most beautiful painting, and the crackers and peanut butter you're having for lunch on the coffee table are as profound, in their own way, as the Last Supper. This is it. This is life in all its glory, swirling and unfolding around us, disguised as pedantic, pedestrian non-events. But pull off the mask and you will find your life waiting to be made, chosen, woven, crafted. 

Your life, right now, today, is exploding with energy and power and detail and dimension, better than the best movie you have ever seen. You and your family and your friends and your house and your dinner table and your garage have all the makings of a life of epic proportions, a story for the ages. Because they all are. Every life is.

You have stories worth telling, memories worth remembering, dreams worth working toward, a body worth feeding, a soul worth tending, and beyond that, the God of the universe dwells within you, the true culmination of super and natural 
You are more than dust and bones.
You are spirit and power and image of God.
And you have been given Today.



Some of my readings were abruptly ended. Dodging the severe storms that can cut a beach day short, we managed to have a wonderful time. Did I mention the purpose was a retreat that was part of a class called 'The Alpha" course? So, there was rest both for body and spirit, all in a short two days.

The weekend closed with a hammock snooze as warm sprinkles turned into the usual afternoon thunderstorms. It was time to take the one hour trip home anyway.

Saturated with sun and and drunk on briny beach air, we floated home on the freeway in a daze of relaxation.

Please accept my offering and take a juice-running-down-your-chin bite of  Cold Tangerines yourself and check out the author here:


I hope her thoughts that sweetened my weekend get-away will also perk up your mid-July

ordinary day!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Singing is a Young Woman's Sport

Mostly the young are wanted.

Money and training will be poured into them. Because they have a life ahead of them? Because they have potential? Because they are pretty? We all should be concerned with training up and mentoring the next generation. Absolutely.

But I wonder if the other 3 generations feel a connection when they sing/speak/present?  While they shouldn't despise the young, can they relate?

Unashamedly contradicting myself, I will say I love Taylor Swift. And if I think back far enough, I get what she's so cleverly saying about her seventeen year old world.

I had a chance to arrange for Yamaha Music Education system when I was 24. Then I moved away to search from songwriting dreams in LA. I left that job. Though the office is gone now, I wonder if I made the right decision. Would they hire me now in midlife to do the same?

Age has a way of automatically dismissing you from the 'Rich and Famous' club (locally speaking in this case) and admitting you into the ranks of the "Poor and Obscure."

In my 40's I lead worship and a band. My young-ish round face qualified me. But then they wanted a John Mayer type on a guitar instead of a mature woman on a keyboard. Can't blame them. I learned that experience doesn't count for as much as youth and a certain look for a target market.

Lately, I am laying down and accepting this hard fact that Singing is a Young Woman's Sport.

 But I fought for a good 5 years, despite re-auditions and dismissals of education and position. Though I  directed dozens of choirs, I was relegated to the choir next to the hobbyist singers. The directors, whose ages were that of my children sent me form refusal letters to play keyboard despite a piano performance degree. But my own piano students were up there playing instead.

Sometimes a resume can be too long. It works against you. And it's better to leave off the dates of all your previous employment. You don't want them doing the math.

But when I was still fighting it, I said things like:

Excuse me



I am not ready to vacate my platform spot permanently for a pimply faced fifteen year old who knows about as much about life relationally, financially, parentally as a squirrel.

Experience has to count for something!  A creased face alone should not take one off the roster!

If you are in the middle of life, feeling squeezed out, overlooked, dismissed, overqualified and underutilized,

say it LOUD with me:

I'M        NOT         DONE       YET!!!! 


Then we'd best get doing what it is we do, before we cannot do it anymore. Someone will listen, appreciate and find something of worth. 

And maybe a few of us can change the hard fact that "Singing Is a Young Woman's Sport"


She used to rock and roll 
With the best of them on stage
Then she got invisible 
When she hit middle age
I think I cried when I read the report
Singin is a young woman's sport

The calendar turns
You're doomed to be out of date
Don't try to be cool
It'll seal your sad fate
It doesn't matter what talent and training you could afford
You'll find that 
Singin is a young woman's sport

 Mick Jagger, James Taylor, Madonna and Carole King
People like that if they wanna can still stand up and sing
But all the licks and riffs and chops, they don't mean a thing
You'll wake up one mornin a day late and a stinkin' dollar short
And find that singing is a young woman's sport

It doesn't matter 
If you're singin for the Lord
Singin' is a young woman's sport

Lyrics - Copyright A. Shaw 2013

Monday, July 8, 2013

God's Best Kept Secret

Photo credit - http://wideawakechristian.blogspot.com/2013/07/hells-best-kept-secret.html

While we were waiting to catch the wave,
We were submerged by the currents of self-doubt
We were overcome by the struggles of life
We were distracted by meaningless past-times

Mediocrity loomed like a black stratus layer. A funnel pushing its way to earth to destroy what little we possess in the way of courage, talent and drive.

The undertow of self criticism almost
drowned out dreams and ambitions

But in the void, God is refining; molding, shaping, creating us into a person fit for His calling. We should not mistake the pressure for punishment, but embrace it as a perfecting force. Accept it as the mighty Potter's hand stretching, squishing, squeezing, spinning into a vessel for His glory, a common clay pot containing glittering treasure. We need to not just accept it, but fight for it. Fight for nothing less than to carry His glory.

What if the only way for Him to reveal the depths of His heart was through the forging of painful trials? It seems worth it to Him to allow or even inflict agonizing circumstances if that was the only way of planting the knowledge of His character deep in the soil of our being so that we sweat only Him.

For you, we, those of us hidden in the obscure corners of both the real and virtual world are God's Best Kept Secret.

You Are God's Best Kept Secret!

The Lord raises up the lowly, binds the broken, exalts the humble. For we are His, soon to be, if not already revealed as his lovely children. Our identity is in Christ. In Christ alone. Identity is not just knowing who we are but whose we are. And we are His.

It is difficult to make a man miserable while he feels worthy of himself and claims kindred to the great God who made him - Abraham Lincoln, 1862

Friday, July 5, 2013

2 Tips on Telling Your Story

It's baseball season.  Most of us watch from the bleachers in the comfort of Dodger dogs, popcorn and cold water bottles.

Sadly, the majority of us approach life the same way. We watch from afar, comfortable on our no-risk recliners. Watching the stories of others - movies, insipid sit-coms and dreadful reality shows of rich people we could care less about.  (Really! I was an Orange County housewife from Newport Beach and I look at those scalpel lifted, botox plumped, saline busting bodies and it seems like they're more from Mars than California)!!

We can either sit on the sidelines or step up to the plate.

At some point it's high time to do the latter.

Enough of watching everyone else, hearing everyone else and cheering everyone else.

We want to see your swing. We want to see you hit the ball!!!

So, how do you tell your story?

1.   Get up

    Then give it all you've got and


    2.  SWING......!!!

    You may hit a home run, or just make it to 1st base. You may pop fly or bunt. You may simply run around the bases. Either way, you're destined to advance in the line-up!

    With a little room for creativity your story may come out as a poem, prose or a song, painting, play or sculpture. Yours will not be just another bland autobiography. But a meaningful memoir.

    Let me say it once more, with feeling:  https://soundcloud.com/a-marbury-shaw

    Everybody Has a Story To Tell

    Everybody has a story to tell
    An epic tale
    That inspires, compels
    Everybody, Everybody has a story to tell

    Everybody has a message to share
    Full of courage and hope
    As our souls we bare
    Everybody, Everybody has a message to share

    Let the words fly
    Don't hold it in
    Tell your beginning, your middle and end
    Lift up your voice
    Come out of your shell
    Cause everybody has a story, A Story to tell

    Doot doo doo doo, Doot doo doo doo
    A beautiful Love Story
    Doot  doo doo doo, Doot doo doo doo
    And He gets all the glory

    Everybody has a story to tell
    You’re an open book
    Tears and laughter-filled
    Everybody, Everybody has a story to tell

    Everybody has a novel to write
    That will show our God
    In His power and might
    Everybody, Everybody has a novel to write

    Stand up and take the microphone and
    Declare what you and you alone can
    In the middle of our mending
    We go on, cause we read the ending.


    Copyright 2013 A. Shaw

    Tuesday, July 2, 2013

    How to Feel 10 Again - Summer Flashbacks

    Last month, Memorial Day kicked off the summer and the family decided to head to the beach with the rest of the inland masses to have fun in the surf, a cook out and football toss in the sand. Such were our plans until...

    dad suggested we stay home and run through the sprinklers just like we used to as kids growing up in suburban California.

    The idea sounded better and better as we were delayed and realized that mid-day beach parking would be a deluxe nightmare resulting in cranky kids and parents.

    Running through the sprinklers was novel, yet retro idea, dredged up as I said from childhood stomping grounds in Orange County.

    Hot, dry days left us begging for a plunge into cool water. We didn't have a pool. City kids may wait for a released hydrant. But we babes of suburbia found the sprinkler wand and turned on all the spigots. No automatic timers in those days for our middle class, brown spotted, weed dotted back yards.

    The most fun was the individual sprinkler oscillating type that went back and forth like the orbit of the moon stopping at the horizon and returning.

    Jump                                         ge  the wave of drops.  P 
                                it.           od                                              u
              through                D                                                        s
                                                                                                          h  your neighbor friend into the

    movable rain shower till they shriek from shocking cold against the oven blasting heat of July.

    But better yet, if we were lucky enough to have one, which would have been the neighbors, not us, we would roll out the

    SLIP AND SLIDE!!!!  

    Our front and back yards were plenty big to accommodate the long ribbon of yellow plastic that held heart racing excitement as bathing-suited bodies skimmed faster than light over its slippery surface.

    Line up, then run like the wind, with a horizontal dive, skim into the shimmery goldenrod sliver of fun!!!

    So we did that on Memorial day instead of heading to the beach.

    Out with the lawn chairs, iced tea for the moms, uncles and grandma's as they watch under the shade of the tree.

     Once the hose was attached to the rubbery slick tape, sending a sprinkle of water along the edge, the teenagers started first. Then the toddlers followed suit, techniques little rough at first. The 5 year old soon learned that he had to extend his legs to get any mileage, knees straight, not tucked in.

    But wait! 

    Middle -aged mama or not, I could not hold myself back.

    So  I got off my lounge chair, put on my bathing suit and dived in, too.

    Then we formed a body tunnel over the slide, while young uncles with a 1-2-3, pitched the 2 year old through the tunnel!!! We couldn't have laughed any harder, giggling like school kids, grandpa hubby and I while the little boys shot under our tummies through our human channel.

     Who cared about the disapproving looks of the neighbor, mother of sensible girls, who never considered doing anything that might have a hint of danger in it? A mother of 4 sons, I have learned that it isn't any fun unless there's a decent dose of danger served up in the play.

    (Did I tell you about our annual Fourth of July dueling roman candle wars? That's right, (goggles on) the boys aimed the California candles and shoot horizontally, facing off on the long side yard. The projectile ball doesn't sting much. It's beyond exhilarating to watch and there's a huge natural high and thrill to be in the battle line).

    Back at the slip 'n slide follies, at one point I ran from the side yard to the back to turn a hose on. As I rounded the corner of the house, hand reaching for the hose spigot, I had the most vivid flashback and sense of deja vu!  I was transported 3000 miles and 45 years back to my California bedroom town and


     I felt like I was ten again.

    It was the same exact sensation!! I literally saw myself as the pug nosed, round faced tom-boy I was, playing under the mid-summer sky with my neighbors.

    My mother used to say as she got older that she didn't really feel her old age. She felt every age she'd ever been at different times. Each was the conglomerate of them all. Rather than leaving time past, it stayed with her and each year could be conjured up by certain thoughts and memories. Now she was 17. Next she was 29. She was quintessentially every age.

    That ten year old feeling of carefree days and water games was as vibrant as the summer sun on my bare shoulders in my puffy, elastic-waisted sun suit. Like the wave of excitement when you're about to douse someone with a water balloon before they bomb you. Ten again for a brief moment.

    I recommend it to everyone.

    Do something you did as a kid and, I promise, you will re-live the very butterflies -in-your-stomach delirious joy that you did decades ago.

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