YOU CANNOT BE REPLACED

If you have followed my blog you already know how I feel about chance meetings. There are no chance meetings and every encounter we come across has to take us another step forward.

Stepping out of his truck, his red hair cut in a crew and a big broad smile he greeted me and Sophie in the cul-de-sac. He was part of the team that had come to refurbish the trim on my house.

Sophie was in her usual ‘this- is -my- territory-protect-everybody’ mode. He quickly understood and bent down to Sophie’s level and said “I’m here. I’m a friend…you’re so sweet,” and he caressed her behind her ears. Sophie was immediately his. I liked him right away, too. His name was Billy. Billy Egan.

The boss and he immediately plugged in all of their equipment to the outlets and a big music box with an iPod attached to it began playing music that I love, soft rock. Sofi and I went back to the deck and I continued with my next writing assignment.

During a break just before lunch I mentioned to Billy how much I loved his music. He smiled and seemed pleased. He only does this kind of work now and then he said because he has a source of income from speaking. Speaking? My reporter/writer ears went up. And that’s when he shared his story with me.

In a nutshell: Billy was an AP student and a varsity athlete but he was also addicted to cocaine which led to pills and eventually heroin. As his addiction grew his life changed, the downward spiral costing him his friends, his family and eventually his freedom.

He was kicked out of two colleges and after a stay in rehab and nine months clean he used again and overdosed. He ended up in jail and was left with the choice; prison or Drug Court.

Through hard work, sober houses and the structure provided by the Drug Court program Billy is coming up on five years clean from his addiction. He just finished his semester at Rutgers with a 3.8 GPA and is on the Dean’s list and is pursuing a career teaching teenagers and urban environments or alternative high schools.

I found out Billy is a member of the You Can NOT Be Replaced team and speaks to help those with addiction. He is taking the negative years of his life and turning them into a positive by giving back. Sound like familiar Karma?

Just like my son and I have been doing for mental illness awareness through Brain and Behavior Research Foundation. And my son through his other charities-each of us trying to give back in our own way. Taking what life has dealt us and making something positive of those life circumstances.

The You can NOT be replaced team does a concert and awareness fundraiser each spring in Nashville on the Vanderbilt campus and I am going to try and make a concert marriage here.

Nothing feels better than giving back, or the excitement of life throwing you a morsel of ‘no chance meetings.’

http://bit.ly/YCNBRvideo

http://www.YOUCANNOTBEREPLACED.com

Sandra Hart Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

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CRATE PAPER HEAVEN

It's prom time again and oh how times have changed! Between the prom gowns and the events, today's proms are a world away from those in the late 1950s.

Our gowns were something out of Gone With The Wind, with crinolines and tight waists. The fuller the skirt, the prettier we felt.

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Most of us were able to find a beautiful gown and crinolines that the local merchants had stocked especially for our proms, or sometimes, if we really got lucky, we could talk our parents into driving to Pittsburgh to go shopping at Kaufman's or Horne's Department Stores.

Our proms were held – OMG – in our gymnasium. No big bucks to rent a fancy catering hall-we did it ourselves. Themes like Krystal Kingdom and Isle of Dreams and we would jitterbug and romantically slow dance to local bands like Bobby Vinton.

My junior prom had a Paradise Island theme, a crate paper dream with palm trees and all of the things that a teenager would think of finding on a tropical Island minus Sandra Dee, Annette and Frankie.

The probability that most of us in the late 1950s living in a small blue collar steel town had never really been to a tropical island, except perhaps in the movies or our dreams, was almost certain. And that the local merchants would be solicited each year to let us borrow their window dressings was also almost certain. Without support of our business community our high school paradise could never have happened. Basically, our whole town was involved in our big night.

Our dates didn't rent chauffeured limos, but borrowed the family car and gave it a lot of teenage testosterone elbow grease to be sure that it was polished to a high shine.

And fathers gave strict warnings when handing over the car keys to their sons, and daughter's fathers gave strict warnings to be sure that his prize was brought home safely and at a decent hour unless they were allowed to go to the "After Glow", a place where we could go after the prom where our parents felt we would be safe.

We didn't stress about renting fancy limousines, asking our parents to come up with hundreds of dollars so that our prom venue would outdo all others and so that we could have the best designer short sexy dress. We were so happy to have what we had.

All we dreamed about was a date for the prom, a beautiful dress and a gym decked out to the max by our classmates. We were not a materialistic generation. We had aspirations, but knew we had to earn our future. That was the 50's generation, my time, and in my opinion, looking back, and although we probably didn't think twice about it then, those really were the best of times.

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Sandra Hart Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

STEEL TOWN ON BROADWAY

( In the process of trying to downsize, it seems as though I am reliving my past all over again. Moments in time, events that I had honestly forgotten about. Will this mean anything to anyone but me?)

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November 17,1994

It was a chilly day. The fall wind was whipping down the famous street as we all gathered in the square of Times Square, in the center on Broadway in New York City. We were all ages, all had our stories to tell, but all 206 of us had something in common. We were actors. We appeared on Broadway. We were from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, all of us.

Christopher Rawson the drama critic at the Pittsburgh Post Gazette at the time, either hatched this brainchild on his own, or was given the assignment by the editor of the Gazette. In any event it was quite a task getting all 206 of us actors at the same place at the same time. And for each of us, it would be a once in a lifetime event. I even wore a red beret trying to stand out in a crowd of 206 actors. That was a laugh because the paper printed it in black and white.

I was 107 in the photo standing next to Lynda Jamison, who started her cabaret career in her forties with the encouragement from the likes of Margaret Whiting and Julie Wilson.

I left the Pittsburgh area in 1972, so it was a long time since I had gone through the tunnel and into the City of Three Rivers and the Golden Triangle. Most of my fellow actors that day had rooted in Manhattan where they could ply their craft but their hearts were still back in their hometown-Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.

So a smidgen of The Steel City was standing for a still shot in the heart of Broadway, far away from where they began their journey in a business that is always not so kind to transplants with a dream. Our Pittsburgh town made it happen

(The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reran this story in 2004 )

Copyright 2014 Sandra Hart. All rights reserved.

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Twelve Notes

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Just think about it. We only have 12 notes in music. Only 12. We rearrange them constantly, add octaves, sharps, flats, various rhythms and then put them in a box with a label.

The personal combinations and cultural adaptations are endless. Don’t you sometimes wish we could take all of those notes with their variations we have labeled as classical, jazz, rock, folk, rap, country and other boxes and make them as one? Let’s just embrace it all as what it is — MUSIC. Just one box holding all the variations of those 12 notes. Twelve notes that for centuries has united us through the love of them.

As a lifetime lover of those12 notes in all forms, it is an overwhelming thought to me that in this universe, generation after generation has produced talented composers that can create new tapestries with them, over and over again.

Those 12 notes continue to remain a common language through which nations and cultures can speak and understand one another. I firmly believe if the music ever stops, so will we.

Sandra Hart copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

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Listen to Beauty In Disrepair on iTunes
https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/beauty-in-disrepair/id807270885