Nocturnal Wool Gathering

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Dear Children,

I had a dream about you last night. I could hear your little voices, symphonies of laughter over sounds of powerful splashing waves hitting the sand. The sounds. The smell of salt air. My nocturnal wool gathering was so real. Everything in my senses was taking me back to a time and place of youth and happiness.

I could see the glistening Atlantic that had come to create safe little pools for you to splash and laugh and build sand castles in, lasting only until the next wave filled the sandy pocket with new beginnings. Come and go, swish, swish. Come and go to the sea again. I was living it so clearly…..

Until the light of morning came and washed away the happiness of when little wet hands caressed my face, peanut butter smiles and little toes filled with sticky sand filled my days at the beach. Life beyond my slumber cracked open the door to let those sunshine moments of our past, those butterfly moments; let them fly away into the sunrise.

I know they say good mothering is letting go – teaching our birds to spread their wings and fly away from the nest, strong and independent enough to build nests of their own. But I miss life with you, I do.

I miss the clutter of clothes in all the wrong places, rock music at decibels that shook windows, Tonka cars turned into hammers and music makers creating new scars and dents on anything and everything that meant something to me, stepping over teen bodies with new faces and sleeping forms. Strangers in our house on Saturday mornings. I miss it all. I just want you to know that.

My journey began before you came.

I didn’t know part of the way you were to walk with me.

I traveled unknowingly seeking roads along the way looking for that perfect life an Eden where we could stay.

Sometimes the way was unclear.

We often journeyed in darkness misguided by my ignorance complicated by my innocence.

I have taken you places you may have never been had destiny not chosen you to travel along with me.

Your journey will take its own course, and as was meant to be

I will continue along my paths guided by my choices yet unknown to me.

Take my hand and bid farewell our paths to cross now and then.

Each journey’s day I feel blessed it was meant to be, part of the way you were to walk with me.

Love,

Mother



Copyright Sandra Hart 2014. All rights reserved.

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DOLLY PARTON-HATS OFF TO YOU!

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If there’s any woman in the music business that I really admire, not only for her talent, but for all of her accomplishments, you may be surprised at my answer. It’s Dolly Parton. When you see Dolly, the book cover that you’re looking at is not really what you get.

This year she is celebrating 50 years in the music business. She is smart beyond brilliant, an excellent musician and lyricist and savvy businesswoman. Dolly has it all rolled up under her big curly wig. With Dolly, if you think she’s a Tennessee back woods woman you better think again. In her industry she is a force to be reckoned with. That’s for sure.

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Dolly has sold more than 100 million records and written more than 3,000 songs, has 17 Grammys and has been inducted into the country music Hall of Fame and as icing, she received the Kennedy Center honors in 2008. Not bad for a Southern country girl I would say.

And if that accomplishment is not enough for one entertainer, in 1986 Dolly became co-owner of a theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee that was renamed Dollywood. It has doubled in size since she bought it. She also has an interest in a waterpark and dinner theaters in three different states.

Please bare with me, we don’t stop there. She’s co-owner of Sand Dollar Productions which produced Father of the Bride, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Common Threads: Stories from Quilts and a documentary about AIDS that won an Academy Award.

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My having been in the entertainment field on a less important level most of my life, a truly testosterone dominated industry, getting respect is a hard earned task. In the latest issue of The Hollywood Reporter, the advice that she gave for women going into any business, I just love. It kicked me upstairs.

She said, “If you really believe in what you’ve got to say, or got to offer, what your talent is – and if you believe, that gives you strength. In my early days I would go in and I was always over made with my boobs sticking out, my clothes too tight, and so I really looked like easy prey to a lot of guys – just looked easy, period. But I would go in, and if they were not paying close attention to what I was saying, I always said, ” I look like a woman, but I think like a man, and you better pay attention, or I’ll have your money and I’ll be gone.”

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When asked by the interviewer if she was familiar with Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In she asked what it was. When told Lean In is a book, her reply was just as simple and honest as can be.

“I’ve leaned over. I’ve leaned forward. I don’t know what “leaned in” is. Lean in to God.”

That is pure Dolly. You have to love and respect that woman.

Sitting here at my computer and writing on a daily basis, I realize it’s women like Dolly Parton who have always felt free to be who they are and comfortable in their own skin – they are the women who have paved the way for the rest of us creative types to say it like it is. The freedom to be ourselves. The final truth is, the older I get, the easier it is to be the real me.

Hats off to you Dolly Parton and thanks!

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This nine to five girl hard at work.

Copyright Sandra Hart 2014. All rights reserved.

WOMEN LIVING IN A TOXIC WASTELAND

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Photo by Rena Effendi/Institute

This morning, I read a powerful article from the London Tribune written by Holly Morris in 2012 about a group of women over fifty who took charge of their lives. It left me thinking about my life and the choices that I’ve made and how relatively easy those choices have been. None of them have involved life or death decisions.

In spite of the danger warnings by the government these women from Chernobyl in the Ukraine decided that living in government housing in the cities was depressing and more stressful than going back home to probably the most toxic place on earth to be surrounded by their friends and things that make them happy.

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They came home to the land they love and have banded together ever since in a community that shares food, fellowship, joys and sorrows.

Unlike these brave women, it has taken a lot of living for me to let go of the fear that used to control my life when I was younger.

Fear of failure, fear of change, and fear of making mistakes is quite paralyzing and inhibiting. The quicker we are able to drain the power from that word the better off we will be.

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Please take a minute to click on the following link and read the story of these very courageous women of Chernobyl

I hope you will be inspired, whether or not you agree with their decision. http://bit.ly/1wa9hT7

Copyright Sandra Hart 2014

MY TEN YEAR JOURNEY FOR CLOSURE

I will not mourn although my heart is torn, Oh love forever lost! I will not mourn. Heinrich Heine

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Places Within My Heart: My Journey Along The River Of Life

LUXOR, EGYPT 1984

In spite of the large fans circulating far above our heads on the ceiling, the lobby in our hotel at Luxor was only a few degrees cooler than the desert heat outside. As I looked around I would not have been surprised to see Humphrey Bogart sitting at the bar, with the polished mahogany piano and yellow ivories in the corner of the room twanging out soulful tunes. It was something right out of a movie set.

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I was brought back to reality by the the sound of a melodic English accent calling “Ma’am, please Ma’am.” I turned to see a tall Nubian porter dressed in a galabiyya. His long sinewy body moved gracefully toward us and his face was long, thin and etched with life.

“Bags, Ma’am. How many?”

Before I could reply, his strong arms scooped up our baggage.

“Follow me, nice room, end of hall, just right for you, Ma’am.”

His head turned back our way and he flashed a leathery grin as he darted away with us double-stepping to keep up with his long-legged strides. He led us down the long dark hallway and stopped just right off the corridor to a massive door marked with the brass number ‘8’.

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The unlocked door swung open to reveal a large open space with floor-to-ceiling windows on the far side. Tall green louvers opened on either side letting in the hot morning sun. A double bed and chair on the right, and to the left a doorway that led to a smaller room that was to serve as my son’s space while we were here.

The high ceiling had the familiar fans like those in the lobby and were slowly moving the stale air about the room. I tilted my face upwards to catch the slight swirling of air when my eyes caught something dark on the ceiling. I slid my sunglasses down to the edge of my nose to get a clearer view, “What are…..”

My son craned his neck upward.

“They’re moving up there alright! Wow! What are they?” Emerson said.

“Not to worry Ma’am.They are harmless-they will not bother you,” said the Nubian.

“Just little lizards up there,” he said as he motioned upward toward the ceiling. “They’re not looking to eat you,” he added with a slight chuckle. “Less bugs to eat on you, they have big appetite.”

I wasn’t too sure I believed him but his cool manner was somewhat convincing.

Emerson went to check out his quarters and I walked to the tall window near the bed. The view was rather surreal. Lush grass grew on the ground below and in the center I could see a small pool half filled with dirty water, algae clinging to the edges where the water met the cracked sides of the cement pond. Neglect and the desert heat had obviously taken it’s toll on this tiny oasis in the unkept gardens.

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I imagined that in it’s prime the gardens must have been meticulously manicured with every detail taken care of by a host of gardeners, I envisioned lovely ladies with umbrellas and big hats, fluttering fans and flowing white linens floating around the grounds on the arms of their distinguished English gentleman.

I can’t remember how long I had been standing there, but suddenly, a veil of sadness began to envelop me. My body shivered and an invisible hand lightly whisked across my shoulder. An overwhelming feeling of loneliness reached down into the deepest pocket of my soul. The years of un-cried tears welled, spilling past my lashes, streaming down my cheeks. A river coursing uncontrollably from my eyes.

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Who would’ve thought my life would be this. As a child I had such innocent and positive dreams for what I thought was my true destiny. Who would’ve guessed it wouldn’t be like in the movies I yearned to be in long ago. And in that room in Luxor, Egypt, a place far away from my home, far away from my roots, my life and memories I had repressed for too many painful years came flooding to the surface.

I had my plan and God had His. My plan for my life had been cast aside. It didn’t matter. For the first time in years, I knew I would be okay. I could heal. Finally, I understood and accepted. Finally, I could forgive God. And I could cry.

Author’s Note: The preceding is an excerpt from my memoir/journal I kept during a trip I made to Cairo, Egypt and then down the Nile. This journey had the unexpected result in my healing from the trauma of my husband’s illness and murder years prior.

Available: Print, Kindle, Nook Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Copyright Sandra Hart 2002-2014

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Making Sense Of Your Life.

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The other day I was standing in the kitchen waiting for my Keurig to spit out that first morning cup of coffee, mulling over why I write a blog when I have so many other projects on my plate. I have been taking several online courses about social media and blogging, so I guess that’s why it’s kind of in the forefront of my thoughts right now.

I woke up with a panic knot in my stomach thinking, wow, time is flying too fast, I still have so many things I want to do. The reality of my mortal clock ticking kind of scared me. Inside my head I’ve never felt my age and I’ve always continued to work in some creative form. But I never ever thought of an expiration deadline before. I’ve never ever thought of myself as getting older by the minute. In reality, physically, I guess I am, but mentally I still have the same kind of whirling dervish ideas I had when I was first building my life and career. The fact that I do have a ‘Sell By’ date that is getting closer and closer, I never gave more than a passing thought about it. Until yesterday.

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It seems that the older I get the stronger the fire within me grows to do something more with my life, when it should be the reverse. It’s kind of an ironic joke on some of us to still have a raging furnace inside; to want to live life to the fullest and not just sit around as a woman over 50 trying to make sense of her life. Are any of you feeling that way, or am I just out of step with the rest of my readers?

I want to ride the wave. This new Internet social networking evolution and ways that we can reach out to one another is so exciting to me. When I see all of these young entrepreneurs, especially young women with families, who are able to build wonderful careers while sitting at home without leaving their nest. How super that would’ve been for those of us who were raising our children in the 60s and 70s. To be able to do something fulfilling like that and still be at home with our children. In that respect, this is a wonderful age for women entrepreneurs. For them, if they know how to use social marketing and tools that are available to them with a click of a mouse or iPhone finger, there is nothing to stop them from being successful.

IMG_0329.JPGGeorgia O’Keefe

Oh, I know you say, look, there were artists Grandma Moses, Georgia O’Keefe and presently actresses Maggie Smith, Helen Mirren, Joan Plowright. They are well over fifty and still going strong. You can probably think of others. And now look at Betty White who is still going in her 90’s. True. But what is the percentage of those who are still given the opportunity to be creative and working at that age. Not very high. But they are there, doing what they love to do. Why not us?

Well, I guess it all comes down to the fact that as a writer, by putting my thoughts out into the universe, I have been able to get this off my chest. Maybe I will be, along with you, some of the lucky ones who can keep going on doing whatever it is they love to do for a long, long time.

It’s good to be young and fearless, sure, but I honestly don’t want to go backwards in time. I’m more comfortable in my skin and am loving where I am right now. So as long as I can remember what I did yesterday, I promise to be grateful. I think I’ll continue to give it a go for as long as I can.

I wrote something in my memoir, Behind The Magic Mirror, that I would like to share with you and that I think is quite appropriate for this post:

In 1972 I interviewed the great violinist Rubenoff. Will Rogers had been a good friend of his and as a token of their friendship Will gave Rubenoff a watch engraved with thoughts he shared with me. The core thinking of what was engraved on the watch is that we go around but once in this life and we had better enjoy every minute of it while we can, because we don’t have the knowledge to know when our time here is over.

A memo to me to keep my fire burning until the last ember.

Copyright Sandra Hart 2014. All rights reserved.

IMG_0330.JPGGrandma Moses

Bedtime Stories

 

Her white hair was pulled so tightly away from her face and knotted on top of her head, stretching her wrinkled skin so that it morphed her face into something scary. Her high collared black dress disappeared into the colorless quilted cover that fell to the floor from her throne – the fourposter bed on which she lay against a mound of pillows. I stood there looking up at my grandmother, not moving. I was afraid. She looked like the witch I had seen in Snow White. This is the only memory of my father’s mother that I have stored. I’m not sure where those impressions are kept and what neurons are fired in my brain, but that is all I have saved. That one experience, that one moment in time, the snapshot saved of my father’s mother when I was four.

Maybe in reality she was not at all what I remember, but somehow a child’s eyes can be clairvoyant, more often than not. Stories I have heard since about my grandma fortify that perhaps I was able to see things as a four year old more clearly than the adults around me realized.

Seventy years later, my scary grandmother lives on through me in several ways. I have inherited the gene for her white hair and I also have her bed. My life has unfolded, year after year, while sleeping in the comfort of that big cherry fourposter. I have nursed three children, cried myself to sleep when I lost a husband, then my parents, and throughout many nights have kept my grandchildren safe from their ‘boogeyman dreams’ in my scary Grandma’s bed. And from the comfort of that old bed I have been blessed to have been awakened slowly by 15,330 beautiful Eastern sunrises popping over the New Jersey Shore hills.

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My ancestors supposedly bought the German bed made of Kirscholz when they traveled from England to America. Large slats with high posts secured by substantial wooden screws hold the bed together, the horse hair mattress laid across the slats, provided them and the generations to follow, comfort fit for a king.*

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I was told by my father that William Tecumseh Sherman, a relative of my great, great grandmother Sherman has slept in my bed. Whether this is true or not, I have no proof, but my father, a southerner, always called it “The Burning Bed,” referring to Sherman’s march through Atlanta. I have a suspicion that is why the valuable bed that my Ohio mother loved, in his eyes, was not so valuable to him and therefore, his Yankee daughter was more than welcome to it.

So I guess what it all comes down to is the eye of the beholder. My scary grandmother through the eyes of a four-year-old, maybe wasn’t so, so scary after all, but just very ill, and the ‘Burning Bed’ through the eyes of a southern gentleman was really just a beautiful work of German craftsmanship. In most things in life, it comes down to one’s interpretation. Our brain gathers the information, maps it, and then we interpret it in our own way because of prior impressions.

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My son will get the poster bed this summer and it will begin a new life with another generation. Yankee based since 1949, she will travel to Nashville to live in a bedroom in a lovely plantation house in Confederate country. She will be loved and well taken care of. I think that will suit her just fine. General Sherman may roll over in his grave, but that is another story for another time.

* Horse hair mattresses priced in six figures last for years and years and are now owned by mainly royalty and billionaires.

Copyright 2014 Sandra Hart. All rights reserved.

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