SYW: On Art, Freedom, Money, & Gratitude

It’s a new week, and here are Melanie’s new (?) questions for Share Your World. I do feel as though I’ve answered some of these before, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing!

QUESTIONS

What are you most proud of in the last year?

The artwork I have done. I wish I could say that during the pandemic lock-down, I did artwork every day, but that would not be true. I meant to, but didn’t do it…

Even so, I have produced a number of drawings and watercolors during the past several months, as the rules loosened and we could form a small art group again. I even gave my niece one of my watercolors for her birthday! She had actually asked me to paint “something green and with a waterfall in it,” so that’s what I did.

As a result, I am accumulating a decent portfolio of my artwork. The pieces I am most proud of I will gladly display for viewing if an opportunity arises.

Besides these free-hand works, I did a lot of really nice coloring pages. Maybe that sounds silly, but there are coloring books for adults and I set myself high standards! I’ve had many of the books for several years, but didn’t do much with them until this past year. I used gel pens, colored pencils, watercolor pencils, or markers, depending on the picture.

If you see a puddle on the ground, do you walk around it or give in to the child within and splash about?

I walk around it, although right now the rain puddles are welcome because we really need rain! We need enough rain to make puddles impossible to avoid! We have been down 8 inches of rain this spring compared to last year, and normal would be 6 inches more than we’ve had. It finally rained last night and today the sprinklers are on!

Do you feel free? Why or why not?

I do benefit from the freedoms afforded to me as a U.S. citizen, good health, and enough money to live on and to travel. So I do consider myself to be “free.” However, we all have our burdens, which hamper our freedom because they tie us down in some way. It’s very liberating when a burden is lifted from my shoulders!

I also feel that the freedoms given to us in the Bill of Rights are not completely unlimited. My freedom ends where another person’s begins. It is not a “freedom” issue, for example, to disobey a mask mandate, just as one has to obey traffic laws, or suffer consequences. Part of living in a society that provides us with many benefits is being responsible to other people living in that society. They have the same freedoms the rest of us do. I don’t have a problem with accepting these responsibilities nor do I think I am not free as a result.

To be totally “free”, perhaps one would have to live alone with no one around to impose rules. I don’t want to live like that.

What life skills are rarely taught but are extremely useful?

Money management. My dad tried to teach us how to manage money, but he didn’t succeed very well with me – probably because I wasn’t listening! However, I did learn on my own how to make a budget and make sure I had enough income to pay my expenses. Even so, I wasted a lot of savings because I didn’t plan for the future.

I think there are a lot of young people who never had a class on money management. But what if they win the lottery or get hired to be on a major league sports team? Suddenly they have a lot of money, but not necessarily the skills to make sure they don’t lose it! Some lucky people take having money for granted, and they blow it all on get-richer schemes or lavish entertainment. Tales of riches-to-rags are as prevalent as tales of rags-to-riches! For most people, having enough money takes hard work and sacrifices.


GRATITUDE SECTION (always optional)

Please share some gratitude with everyone!   There are lots of reasons just now I think!

I am grateful for my legs. Although I have arthritis pain in my knees, my legs can still take me where I want to go.
I am grateful for my arms, which finally can be used to hug people again!
I am grateful for my hands, which are used to take photos or create nice pictures, and to write.
I am grateful for my eyes, which, although severely myopic, let me read books and see the world.
I am grateful for my brain, befuddled as it is. I have put it to great use in all the intellectual pursuits of my life. Since I am expressing gratitude, I will not list its shortcomings!
I am grateful for my ears, which can listen to music, such as one of my favorite songs performed by Cat Stevens…

SYW: A Depressed Dreamer Makes Someone Cry

Here are Melanie’s Share Your World Questions this week and my responses.

QUESTIONS

Would you rather be a super nice person and be depressed all your life, or be happy and a total *sshole?  (Credit goes to Cyranny for this question, aired on one of her “Cyranny’s Quickies” posts.)
I would like to rebel as some respondents have, and try to recombine these choices. But, having a loved one who suffers from depression and because I’m reading a book about the subject in order to understand it better (the cover of that book appears below), I do not see “depression” and “being nice” as a dichotomy. Yup, here I go, taking this questions perhaps WAY too seriously! But that’s what happens when I’m involved in something that is really a very complex question. So please forgive me for overthinking this seemingly binary choice!

I definitely would not want to be an a-hole in any condition and I doubt it would make me happy. Although I suppose there are plenty of happy people who are oblivious to the fact that they are cruel jerks – or they just don’t care. It wouldn’t be me, though. I have too strong a moral compass and always feel guilty when I treat someone badly.

That said, it is perfectly logical to be both nice and depressed. For one thing, very few people are depressed “all the time.” Depression comes and goes. When someone is in a deep depression, they often isolate themselves, cut themselves off from friends and family. People close to them see the warning signs and then may try to intervene.

When someone suffering from depression is NOT depressed, however, he or she seems like a completely different person! When they are not depressed, people who suffer from this mental illness are often quite nice people. Why, you may ask? It may seem like a contradiction, but actually it isn’t. Because there is such a contrast between the depressed and normal states, these people tend to appreciate life and other people more when they are feeling ‘normal’. They feel things acutely and tend to be very sensitive. They are often empathetic (that is, when they are not depressed). They know what it is like to suffer greatly, and know that during their normal state, they should enjoy life and accomplish as much as they can, because they also know that the darkness and isolation – the abyss – will return. The best time for them to seek help with their mental illness is when they are feeling good, because during depression, they can hardly get out of bed, much less do something constructive. When they are depressed and thus miss an event they looked forward to attending, they feel really bad about that, and know that most people at the event probably didn’t expect them to attend, but would have been pleasantly surprised if they had showed up. They live with a lot of guilt, but they usually take that out on themselves, not on other people. (It’s true that the suicide rates are much higher among depressives than non-depressives.) They do invariably hurt people, but usually unintentionally, so you can’t say they are fundamentally a-holes.

So if I had to choose, I would rather be nice and depressed. First of all, the depression doesn’t last forever, and nowadays there is plenty of help for depression, in the form of medications and therapy. New drugs are constantly being put on the market that improve on earlier ones, because medical understanding of depression constantly improves. If one medication doesn’t work, there are others, and different combinations, to try.

Believe me, I don’t desire to be depressed! I wouldn’t wish that on anybody! But as you have posed an either/or choice, this is my reasoning for choosing depression and being nice.

Have you ever made someone cry?
Of course – even though I’m nice and not an a-hole, I am not perfect! I’m sure I’ve made my son cry, but I can’t remember the last time that was.

Are you a dreamer or a go-getter?
I’m a dreamer and unfortunately, not a go-getter. It would be better to act on my dreams, and to some extent I have, but I am not one of those assertive, in-your-face types.

If you were in a band, what instrument would you play?
Probably the piano, because it’s the only instrument I have ever learned to play. But instruments don’t have to be external – I consider my voice an instrument, and so I would be the singer. I sing much better than I play the piano anyway.


GRATITUDE SECTION

Do you feel gratitude is necessary? 
Yes, or rather I feel it SHOULD be necessary. Everyone should feel gratitude about the good things in life, or the people who have touched them. It is necessary for ME, anyway, to feel gratitude. I try to stop and count my blessings or appreciate my life in some way every day.

I greatly appreciate the following song and am grateful that John Lennon gave us his talents until his tragic death in 1980.

Pharaohs’ Golden Parade

Last Saturday, April 3, 2021, Egypt celebrated in a big way the transferring of 22 mummies from the old Museum of Egyptian Antiquities to the new museum, The National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, located in Fustat (part of Old Cairo), which was the first capital of Islamic Egypt. Egypt’s president and other dignitaries were witness to the Pharaohs’ Golden Parade which included an extravaganza of music, dance, and light show to celebrate the event. Some of the performances were projected on a screen behind the orchestra and chorus, because they had been pre-recorded at three important sites of ancient Egypt: the plateau of Giza (which is the site of the three large, most famous pyramids, constructed in the 25th century BCE, as well as The Sphinx); Saqqara (site of the step pyramid of Djoser, a first dynasty pharaoh – a few centuries older than the pyramids of Giza); and Deir al-Bahri (site of the beautiful temple of female pharaoh Hatshepsut).

The event began at 6:30 pm local time in Tahrir Square, recently renovated for the event, including the erection of a broken obelisk built by King Ramses II in the middle of the square, surrounded by four ram-headed sphinxes brought from Karnak Temple in Luxor.

The mummies of pharaohs and a few well-known queens were transported in specially made vehicles meant to resemble the boats on which pharaohs (who were considered gods) traveled to the afterlife.

The entire event can be viewed on YouTube and it is quite spectacular. Watching it, I was struck by the look of pride on the faces of the Egyptian children, who started the program, and of the Egyptian president (once he took off his mask).

I am including here a video of The Hymn of Isis, sung by Egyptian soprano Amira Selim, backed by a choir and orchestra, which was part of the program. I like this particular video because the words being sung in the ancient Egyptian language are displayed, followed by their English translation. The words are taken from inscriptions on a temple to the goddess Isis, from the Greco-Roman period. More information can be found at Wikipedia: Pharaohs’ Golden Parade.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear of this event, because when we were in Egypt 2 years ago, we were told that the new museum probably would take another 10 years to complete! We drove past the building, which was pointed out to us. Now I have another reason to revisit Egypt!

Song Lyric Sunday

Jim Adams’ Song Lyric Sunday this week asks for submissions containing one of the words Blossom/Cherry/Flowers in honor of the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C.

Here is an “oldie but goodie” by Canadian band Skylark from 1972: Wildflower. As I was listening to it, it became familiar to me in the refrain “She’s a lady/she’s a child” and “she’s a free and gentle flower.” I remember liking the song but didn’t remember much more than that part of the refrain. It’s one of those songs that gets in my head but is frustrating because I can’t remember the rest of the song!

She’s faced the hardest times you could imagine
And many times her eyes fought back the tears
And when her youthful world was about to fall in
Each time her slender shoulders bore the weight of all her fears
And a sorrow no one hears
Still rings in midnight silence in her ears

Let her cry, for she’s a lady (She’s a lady)
Let her dream, for she’s a child (Child)
Let the rain fall down upon her
She’s a free and gentle flower growing wild

And if by chance I should hold her (If by chance that I should hold her)
Let me hold her for a time (Let me hold her for a time)
But if allowed just one possession
I would pick her from the garden to be mine (I would pick her from the garden to be mine)

Mm-mm-mm, mm-mm
Be careful how you touch her, for she’ll awaken
And sleep’s the only freedom that she knows
And when you walk into her eyes, you won’t believe
The way she’s always payin’ for a debt she never owes
And a silent wind still blows
That only she can hear, and so she goes

Let her cry, for she’s a lady
Let her dream, for she’s a child
Let the rain fall down upon her
She’s a free and gentle flower growing wild

Let her cry, for she’s a lady (She’s a lady)
Let her dream, for she’s a child
Let the rain fall down upon her
She’s a free and gentle flower growing wild
She’s a flower growing wild
She’s free

History of the song Wildflower
Wildflower was written by Doug Edwards and David Richardson in 1972. Edwards was a member of the Canadian band Skylark, which first recorded the song. Since then, it has been covered many times and recently has been sampled in several hip hop songs. Edwards composed the song after reading Richard’s poem.

Capitol Records signed the band and Wildflower was included in their first album, named simply Skylark. Donny Gerrard was the vocalist for the song, which was also released as a single, but was not successful at first. It was played on a single radio station in Windsor, Ontario, CKLW. Capitol then decided to release it in neighboring Detroit as a regional release, where it became a huge soul hit before crossing over to the pop charts nationally. Wildflower spent 21 weeks on the Billboard pop chart and became very popular in Canada also, where it reached number 10 on the RPM Top Singles chart. Total sales of the single exceeded one million copies, so it was included on Skylark’s second album as well. In the end, it was the only Skylark song that made the pop charts in the United States. Its peak position in 1973 was 65 on Australia’s pop charts, 23 on the Dutch Top 40, 10 on Canada’s RPM Top Singles and number 1 on RPM Adult Contemporary chart.

Several R&B groups and singers have covered Wildflower, including Color Me Badd, Hank Crawford, Johnny Mathis, Lisa Fischer, Gary Morris, New Birth, The O’Jays and Silk. New Birth’s version added a more instrumentally complex introduction and other enhancements, and became a hit in its own right, making the R&B singles chart’s top 20 in 1974.

Source: WIkipedia, Wildflower (Skylark song)

Meaning of the song Wildflower
Wildflower is about the struggles and emotions of young womanhood. The central character in the song is a young woman who has survived very difficult times, much harder than a woman of her age should have to bear. “Wildflower” alludes to the person being able to grow through her struggle without help. She has been alone and can hardly hold back tears because no one knows or cares about her pain.

The solution is for her to have a chance to let out her emotions and pursue her dreams without any fear. “Letting the rain fall down upon her” means showering her with love and affection. The singer expresses how precious she is, and if she gives him the chance, he will try to make her his. Her emotions are delicate and the writer warns others to be careful how they treat her. She needs to be free for awhile.

The problems she has suffered were not caused by her; she is a loving and caring person who is affected by other people’s problems, and wants to help solve them.

The writer of the poem, David Richardson, says he was inspired by a nurse he was dating. He found her on the brink of tears one night, because two of her patients that she had become close to had died that day. He listened to her as she let out all her pain.

Ultimately, the song focuses on the strength with which this woman faces her problems. It also urges people to be sensitive of the needs of others and to give them a shoulder to lean on in hard times.

Source: “Wildflower” by Skylark

An Easter Hallelujah

This video has gone viral because it is so beautifully written and performed by two Canadian sisters, Cassandra Star (aged 10) and Callahan (aged 19) Armstrong. It uses the melody of Leonard Cohen’s famous song “Hallelujah” with words written by Kelly Mooney that tell the Easter story. The sisters originally recorded it as a gift for their grandparents as their grandmother battles illness and the family is separated for the holiday. Their grandmother is a religious person and has been unable to go to church since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Listen and watch – the lyrics are printed on the screen as they sing.

Source: CBC News Canada

SYW: Bugs, Inspiration, & More

I’m starting off the new week with Melanie’s Share Your World.

SYWHandpaintedPL

QUESTIONS: 

If not now, then when?
This is the story of my life: Procrastination!

Can you describe your life in a six-word sentence?
No, I don’t think I can.

Do you remember that thing people used to say, about how you swallow eight spiders a year while you sleep? It’s not true, but do you think you’ve ever swallowed any? What bug do you think you’ve eaten the most of by accident?
Yuck! I hope none! Although I probably have inadvertently swallowed a gnat, since there always seems to be one around me.

I have eaten bugs, but it was intentional, sort of. In Oaxaca, Mexico, I was dared to eat chopped up fried grasshoppers that had been served as a complimentary appetizer at a restaurant! I did take a very small bite, and lived to tell the tale, although I don’t remember how it tasted. I don’t want to ever do it again! But the people I was with cheated me – they said if I tried it first, they would all then try it. But they didn’t. How gullible am I???

What’s the best approach to resolving conflict?
Calmly.

Where do you find inspiration?
By inspiration, do you mean inspiration to do something creative? Or do you mean spiritual satisfaction? If to do something creative, then I say in nature mainly. But sometimes something just comes to me and I have the urge to be creative – like certain books make me want to write. But for spiritual satisfaction, I am inspired by singing, mainly as part of an ensemble like a choir. Appropo here is a song that I have posted before, but it is definitely worth repeating: (Lyrics below)

“How Can I Keep From Singing?”

My life goes on in endless song
Above earth’s lamentation
I hear the real, though far-off hymn
That hails a new creation

Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear its music ringing
It sounds an echo in my soul
How can I keep from singing?

While though the tempest loudly roars
I hear the truth, it liveth
And though the darkness ’round me close
Songs in the night it giveth

No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that rock I’m clinging
Since love is Lord of heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?


When tyrants tremble in their fear
And hear their death knell ringing
When friends rejoice both far and near
How can I keep from singing?

In prison cell and dungeon vile
Our thoughts to them are winging
When friends by shame are undefiled
How can I keep from singing?

Love Me Do!

What would life be without friends? So my love on Feb. 26 for Paula’s month of lurve goes to…

Feb. 26: I love…friends! I have friends pretty much all over the U.S. and in Brazil because I have lived in several different places and in my high school there were students from all over. I have come to think of some of you as my blogger friends, reading your posts and commenting, and you doing the same! But I am dedicating the collage below to good friends, even though we have seen little or nothing of each other during this pandemic! All the more reason to appreciate them!

I also love the Beatles!

Month of LoveLoveLove, #14-15

Continuing with things I love for Paula’s February Love challenge, here are my days 14 and 15.

Feb. 14: I love…Dale. Valentine’s Day is a special day for me, because it is my husband’s birthday! I married my valentine 25 years ago, and we’ve been together for almost 30 years total! For our 25th anniversary (last November) we had planned to take a round trip cruise from the Caribbean to the Amazon, but of course it was cancelled due to Covid. We will go in 2022 instead. Years ago, I bit Dale with my travel bug and now he loves it as much as I do!

He can be very sentimental at times, much more so than I. He loves joking with puns, but he has used some of them so many times that other family members have to tell him to stop! Dale is a former high school history teacher in the inner city of Chicago, and retired after 33 years. Since then, he’s had more time for his favorite pursuit – golf! In the winter – especially this pandemic winter – he gets bored!

Imitating a stone statue behind us, in Scharding, Austria, 2019
A bite to eat after touring the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam
We had a fantastic suite in our hotel in Amsterdam in 2018. Dale is checking Facebook, as usual!
Being the only Jewish person on a Christian trip to Israel in January 2019, Dale proudly posed in front of the Golden Menorah in Jerusalem.
We took pictures of other couples, and they took photos of us while waiting for the Sound and Light Show to start at the Abu Simbel temples in Egypt, Jan. 2019.

Dale turned 77 yesterday, and a few unexpected health problems have arisen lately. Still, we hope to enjoy as many more years together as we can!

Feb. 15: I love…animals. I have already written about my love for cats, but we took a safari in Tanzania in 2018 that was the most unique and memorable trip of my life so far! During this pandemic, we are homebound, but we are lucky to live on a beautiful campus with two small lakes. Every spring and summer, I enjoy watching the swans, ducks, and other fowl that visit our lakes. I’ve also made friends with a couple of the dogs who I see on my walks (when the weather’s warm enough!).