Waltz With Me My Love

Dance. Oh, how I have always loved dancing, don’t you? By myself as a child, or in the arms of a lover nothing is closer to heaven than lightly swirling around to music that makes my heart sing. Waltz, foxtrot, jitterbug, the monkey or rumba, it doesn’t matter to me.

Emerson Hart©and Tonic

Song and dance have been with us far back in recorded human history and has been an important part of celebratory rituals. It’s so true that dance is a way to find yourself and loose yourself at the same time.  

Unless, that is, your heart is dancing a clumsy two step in your chest. Dancing with your feet is one thing, but a dancing heart is another.  

Unfortunately, I was born with extra electrical pathways that under certain circumstances cause my heart to palpitate and loose sinus rhythm. These unwelcome ‘dances’ began in my twenties, but since my heart was otherwise basically healthy, I just had to tolerate this non-synchronized orchestra that lived in my chest. 

It became a way of life for me until in the 90’s a new procedure called  radio frequency ablation was developed to eliminate extra pathways in the heart. Tiny cathodes are run through the groin veins to ablate the dancing pathways. At the time it sounded scary to me, but each 12 hour episode of rhumba were scarier, so I opted to have the ablation.

Now, one thing they didn’t realize, or take into consideration then is that those electrical nerve pathways can grow back. So here I am once again saying goodbye to my heart’s unruly dance, one week into recovery from updated modern medical advances in electrophysiology and radio frequency ablation. 

My procedure lasted about three hours and I was released the next day. My doctor showed me a photograph of my heart with the ablation points and it looked like a pearl necklace all around my heart. He said when they thought they were through, adrenaline administered would show other electrically charged pathways. I was a dancing fool inside my chest!

So far, I am following the doctor’s orders and not lifting anything over 10 pounds or bending over and just taking things easy for a few weeks. He told me I might have increased dances in my chest, perhaps for as long as three months while my heart is healing, but already they are short little tap dances that do encourage me everything is healing just fine. 

The pinpoint scarred areas created by the cauterization, once healed, will block and interrupt those crazy dancing impulses by taking off their tap shoes and sending them into retirement.  

Trust me, the next dance I do I hope it will be with only my feet and with someone I love.  

©Copyright Sandra Hart 2017                            

All Rights Reserved

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It’s An Oscar Peterson Kind Of Day

The skies are dark and the tropical winds are blowing much stronger than usual, it’s that kind of day here on the beach. Anywhere else up north the winds and dark skies would be rather depressing, but here, for me, it’s an Oscar Peterson/Cole Porter kind of day. When I woke up to grey skies I welcomed the change in the sameness tropical living sometimes brings. 

After my early morning walk with Sophie, nothing better than starting my day with a cup of tea, biscotti, Oscar and sharing my thoughts out into the digital universe. 

For me, music has always been a barometer of our culture. Growing up in the forties and fifties, music was happy, soulful, lyrics clear and smooth, the beat consistent. Songs were about love, the good life and moving on. Listeners could tap their feet, shake their heads and groove to the beat in ‘slo-mo’ or shoulder shaking heat. Music felt good.

As a teen I would lie across my bed and dream to The Four Aces, Tony Bennet, Frank Sinatra and Cole Porter’s lyrics. The future and the world was out there for me, just waiting. Of that I was sure. It was a positive world I would be walking into. The music that surrounded me told me so.

My husband, having celebrated his ninth decade on this earth yesterday has taken me back into his reality of WWII evolving into peacetime prosperity and a more civil and dare I say simple, moral times.  

What has happened to us as a society? Up until the music of the nineties and from there what has happened to lyrics with decency and morality in some popular music tastes? I can still close my eyes and dream to some, but I feel I’m in a dying generation as far as music goes.  

As the music becomes corrupt and dies, so goes the culture, so goes the nation. I never thought life in 2016 would evolve into what it appears to be today. I don’t think I have to spell it out for you, you must see it, too. 

©Sandra Hart 2016. All Rights Reserved

Cole Porter: His numerous hit songs include “Night and Day”, “Begin the Beguine”, “I Get a Kick Out of You”, “Well, Did You Evah!”, “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”, “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” and “You’re the Top”. He also composed scores for films from the 1930s to the 1950s, including Born to Dance (1936), which featured the song “You’d Be So Easy to Love”; Rosalie (1937), which featured “In the Still of the Night”; High Society (1956), which included “True Love”; and Les Girls (1957).

Lotus Hands And Hip Shake

Lotus Hands And Hip Shake Therapy

Most mornings I am lotus hand, hip shaking, lift stepping and shoulder shaking my over-fifty self to energizing music. My new uninhibited idea of fun exercise in my freedom years is Bollywood dancing in the front row with no one watching but Sofi and my big Sony flat screen.   

I have to admit I was part of the 1970s fitness craze. I joined my first gym, bought the most flattering leotard that I could find and headed out with a fitness mat curled under my arm. I went faithfully to the aerobic classes for, well, maybe about six months. 

Three times a week I dragged myself to the gym trying to believe that I was a public exercise person who loves strange showers and locker rooms. That fantasy faded faster than my waistline. One morning I just stopped, firm thighs be damned. 

What happened to save me from a lifetime membership of hiding in the back row of power aerobics, trying to stay fit and healthy while looking at the perfect behinds of women with figures I would never be able to achieve?Jane Fonda  did, that’s who. All of a sudden I could put my body through all types of aerobic pain in the privacy of my own living room.  

Throughout the ensuing years I have run 5K’s, walked miles, jogged a little, and made sure I downsized to a townhouse with stairs when all of my sane contemporaries were going with single floor residences. All this effort because I know it is good for my aging body. But, nevertheless, in spite of trying to keep as fit my age allows, I have stayed away from gyms.

Between you and me, I rarely ever found exercising fun until I discovered I was able to combine my fascination with a movie genre and exercise – Bollywood films. Netflix and iTunes are my new ‘go to’ for Bollywood movies and Bollywood music videos

If you already haven’t checked them out, Bollywood films always include music with dancing that is an interesting fusion of Indian classical, Indian folk, jazz, hip hop, belly dance and others from around the world. 

These films are always ‘feel good for the soul’ entertainment. I love the energy and message they bring and there is a whole lot of shaking going on and calories burned in my South Beach living room to Bollywood music.  Life is good when you love it with passion. 

  

achchha lag raha hai. – feeling good
Pyar se Zindegi mel tha hi – Life is good when you love it with passion.


©Sandra Hart 2016. All rights reserved

To Be, Or Not To Be

I often talk about genetics here in my blog. I don’t know, but the older I get and as the years go by, I see my children growing up finding their spaces in life and now my grandchildren doing the same thing. It is really so evident to me that somewhere along the line we have inherited this either great or cursed creative gene that keeps us square pegs in a round hole.

My oldest is a flight attendant and while waiting between flights doodles beautiful designs on her notepad and can’t wait for her days off to create on her many online accounts.

Now the middle child is quite brilliant, works in the legal field, and is very creative like the rest of us. A great photographer, artist and sometimes journalist, she is also extremely adept at math, yet at times struggles with organization and budgets. What does that mean? Are both sides of her brain fighting for dominance when performing tasks? One side asks, “Should I buy it? Do I really need it?” While the other senses it is just too beautiful to resist. 

My youngest is a gifted singer, songwriter and performer who uses his talents as a storyteller through his musical lyrics and melodies. His left brain is screaming to let it alone! 

Well, what about that  creative brain of ours, the right brain?
The right brain is referred to as the analog brain. It controls three-dimensional sense, creativity, and artistic senses. 

 The left brain is referred to as the digital brain. It controls reading and writing, calculation, and logical thinking. 
I hate spreadsheets. They give  me a headache. In school I tried to stay away from as many math classes as I could.  While my middle daughter was taking advanced calculus, my other children agreed  a hundred percent  with me. Does that make us analog people and not her? 

What do you think? Is it possible to have a balance of both right and left brain without a dominance of one over another? Or is it a constant tug of war if you are born with a little bit of both. 

 

Okay, numbers are not my forte, but I still am very good keeping inline with what I want and what I can afford. But in truth,  my life has been saved many times because my left brain usually is strong enough to override the financial foolishness fueled by my artistic senses. But within that realm my left brain feels sorry for me and reasons a logical way to satisfy my artistic side. It knows.  Within its logic mechanisms it realizes  I would actually whither away without this part of me being fulfilled.  

So  I guess in the end both my left analytical and right creative brain are daily fighting the tantamount Shakespearean question, “To be, or not to be.”
  Today, that is what my Saturday life over fifty is thinking. Well, somewhat.
(Authors note: during the period of writing this blog today my toilet has developed a serious ghost flush every five minutes, the fire signal in our complex of town houses was set off in a loud screaming cadence sending my Lhasa Apsa, Sofi, running to her safe haven under my desk and my computer died. No part of my brain is willing to troubleshoot toilets and computers this lazy Saturday.)

Copyright Sandra Hart 2016©. All rights reserved

Growing Wings Of Their Own

( Author Note: As former Romper Room Teacher and Pittsburgh CBS affiliate anchor, my children began their lives with Romper Room and Mr. Rogers as their ‘normal’ family. We relocated with my late husband to New Jersey 43 years ago, but no escaping for them – their friends here in New Jersey always remembered me as the lady on Romper Room.)

Growing Wings Of Their Own
It has almost been 20 years since one of my children took his sisters out from under the ‘Romper Room Mom’ shadow they had been living with for most of their lifetime. A new dimension was added to our lives and nothing would ever be the same again.
In 1996 my Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey singer/songwriter son, Emerson Hart, and his band Tonic released their first album, Lemon Parade, which rocketed to multi-platinum status and garnered him awards, including the Billboard Award for the #1 most played song on rock radio.
What followed in the ensuing 19 years would be world tours, six Tonic albums, two Grammy Nominations, ASCAP Award, movie soundtracks, two successful solo albums and concerts in war zones entertaining our American troops – even being knocked off of his feet by a bomb blast while the band was staying at one of Sodom Hussein’s Palaces in Iraq.
Springsteen. Bon Jovi. Both New Jersey icons, were already firmly established within the 80’s Rock frenzy by the time Emerson and Tonic came along. But the ‘new kid’ on the block from New Jersey, the late ’90’s talent entry, came into the game like gangbusters when music tastes were were changing. Emerson was on the tail end of Rock’s biggest roll, but he and Tonic have survived.
So have his sisters. Each of them with their own quiet, or not so quiet victories growing up and out from under the ‘Romper Room Mom’ memories.
So a toast from parents to our children and their victories growing up and out from under our wings. A toast for 20 more quiet and maybe not so quiet years!

A Twenty Year Journey

  
In 1977 how does an eight year old boy living on the New Jersey shore emotionally survive his father’s mental illness and the news that his paranoid schizophrenic father has been murdered? How does he survive the fact that his body has never been found and there never would be any closure for him? How does he survive the fact that the same genetic predisposition might be his? Music.

  
Well, that little boy grew up to be the lead singer/ songwriter of one of the few multiplatinum, Billboard awarded and twice Grammy nominated rock bands of the 90’s to survive and thrive when most have gone into oblivion. No big PR firms, trashing of hotel rooms, or over-the-top pyrotechnic concerts; just plain great lyrics and music written and performed from his heart that have given him venues full of loyal fans for 20 years in both his solo and band’s career.

  

That band is Tonic and the musician/composer is Emerson Hart. Everyone has known his songs, but until his solo career, in spite of his success and awards in singing and writing for Tonic, movies and television, who recognized the name ‘Emerson Hart’? Although Tonic was a force in the music arena, it was not until 2004 after the release of his first solo album “Cigarettes and Gasoline” and his ability to talk about his father through his music and interviews did he start getting recognized for his songs everyone had been singing for years.
  
Along with Emerson’s songwriting success, his Tonic co-founder and lead guitarist, Jeff Russo, has scored several television shows, including the television show, Fargo. They are both musicians with something to say. 

As my son often reminds me, “It’s not always about fame”, but loving what you do and making great music. These musicians, both Emerson and Jeff, have relatable human interest back stories and I am not alone in thinking  that in this digital age Fair Pay for Fair Play must be demanded by music fans to keep all music alive. It is a real issue concerning the plight of the 90’s rock bands who were surging on the cliff of the changing musical tastes of 2000 and now trying to survive through the streaming age.

A Twenty Year Tour with new Tonic material and special re-release of 1997’s Lemon Parade with “If You Could Only See The Way She Loves Me” is planned for 2016. Still standing after all these years. 

If you are a fan of keeping great rock alive and want to celebrate this milestone year for Tonic, check out the links below.

Copyright Sandra Hart 2016. All Rights Reserved

http://www.pledgemusic.com/tonic

wmeclients.com/music/contemporary/Tonic Links:

1) 10/2015
Cryptic Rock interview: http://crypticrock.com/interview-emerson-hart-of-tonic/

2). 10/2015 – http://youtu.be/NHpyIsADUxs
3) – 2014 – In Schizophrenia’s Wake, a Son Laments the Father Who Might Have Been | Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (Formerly NARSAD): 
https://bbrfoundation.org/stories-of-recovery/in-schizophrenia%E2%80%99s-wake-a-son-laments-the-father-who-might-have-been
4) – 2010 – Przystanek Woodstock 

5) Kosovo – http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/tonic-to-become-first-band-to-perform-in-kosovo-additional-dates-to-take-them-across-europe-before-returning-to-america-73430172.html
 6) 1997 – Old Vic Chicago – https://www.facebook.com/tonicband/videos/10153481670454590/

Facebook- Are You Wasting My Life?

Next time you’re in a bad mood, resist the urge to try and cheer yourself up by checking Facebook. It likely won’t work, according to a recent study, reports Rebecca Hiscott, Editorial Fellow, HuffPost Business. 

The reason? Even more than other areas of the Internet, Facebook makes you feel like you’re wasting your life.

I spend a lot of time on Facebook due to the fact that I am host to three different Facebook pages; my professional page, my personal page, and one of my son’s Facebook professional fan pages.

I’ve been sitting here today waiting for a new furnace to be installed in the back of the house so I have a lot of time on my hands with nothing much productive going on except for the simmering vegetable soup on the stove. Which brings me to Facebook and all the time that I spend with my FB friends.

I started thinking about exactly what posts are in my newsfeed. What is the profile of my friends and their interests. Just exactly what shows up as I scroll my newsfeed every day? Are the posts in my newsfeed a mirror of me?

Well, a lot, a whole lot of my friends love animals. Dogs, cats, kittens and unusual friendships between domestic and wild life. Videos that have circulated forever of cute, crazy and rescued animals. Then there was that crazy dentist who killed Cecil, Zimbabwe’s beloved lion. A favorite. My friends, including me, couldn’t get enough of that dentist of death! A pox on him!
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My Facebook friends and I share envious pictures of food – where we ate it and what we were doing and who we were with while we were having a good time eating food and taking pictures of it, including not-always-so-flattering selfie’s with our friends while eating at that marvelous place. I kind of feel left out of the good times when I see these friends of mine celebrating while I am sitting at home wracking my brain for a blog idea, or alone with a pile of laundry looking at me. They may be right on that point if you never ever have anything going on in your own life.
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There are the political posts and gun issue posts. This is where my friends divide. I find a spectrum of diversity on both of those issues, each friend so sure their conclusions are right. I have always believed that friends and politics don’t mix, so it is only on a rare occasion that I stick my nose into any divisive issue, rather than to have it bitten off. I don’t think FB is a forum of persuasion. Just my opinion.

And music. I love music and many of my friends also find music to be an integral part of their lives and we share all kinds of music information on Facebook. I love these posts. 

Finally, there are the myriad of shared posts with affirmations about how much we love being mothers, daughters, sisters and friends. 
Someone said to me the other day that when she logs onto Facebook and sees all of these people socializing and having a good time it makes her feel lonely. So maybe the studies are right, but I doubt in the very near future that people are going to walk away from Facebook. 
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In the meantime, in my own personal non-scientific study I do find that my friends mirror who I am and what I’m interested in reading about; with the exception of politics and keeping my nose out of it.

Copyright Sandra Hart 2015©. All rights reserved.