DANCING AT THE LOTUS

  

She heard the sounds of the piano stridently rising above the restaurant chatter and began to squirm in her seat. Whenever the music started it was hard to sit still. She looked at her parents busy with their menus, then over to her brother who was attempting to make a paper airplane from a cocktail napkin and slowly slid off her seat and ran toward the dance floor. 

 She loved music and the sound always made her want to move and swirl and swing around the floor with her arms open wide. She couldn’t help it. Something inside of her four-year old self just made her do it because it was fun and made her happier than hugging the cat or eating ice cream. Swinging and dancing and moving to the music until she was dizzy was out of her control. It was just what she loved to do on Sunday afternoons at The Lotus.

It was 1943 in Washington, D.C.. The Lotus restaurant was popular among military and government personnel during the war years. The Washington Daily News called it “a sort of a poor man’s Stork Club where the average Joe can put on a dog without pulling more than a five spot out of his billfold.” 

The restaurant occupied the top level of a two-story 1926 building and her little dancing legs looked forward to those stairs each week when her family lunched at The Lotus. It was not the food for which she had visions in her head, it was the music. Most of all it was the music that made her love those stairs.

In movies of the 1930s and 1940s, supper clubs were portrayed as places where big stars and popular bands such as Glenn Miller’s played, but far more common were the sort that hosted local musicians. Still, patrons dressed up and enjoyed a time out, dining and dancing, and maybe a floor show, without spending a fortune.

 Located in the capital, The Lotus got the best bands of the era and she got to dance out on that shiny floor with them all. Twirling in and out between the soldiers and their girls taking that last dance of leave, or when she was held in her daddy’s arms, the thrill was always there. Music was in her heart and she just had to move and be a part of the magic she felt.

This particular Sunday she had the dance floor for a few minutes all by herself and she swirled and dipped to the live music with her curls flying in the air and was just having the best of time before her father interrupted her short solo by leading her back to the table. It was also on this particular Sunday that her life could’ve gone in another direction. A talent scout from Hollywood just happened to be lunching at the Lotus that afternoon and thought that this little dancing girl should go to Hollywood for a screen test. After all Shirley Temple was a big star and he thought he saw something with the same star quality in this little curly haired girl who loved to dance. 

Her parents said politely to the Hollywood gentleman, “Thank you very much, but no.” They didn’t want their daughter to be in the movies. That was the end of that, as far as her parents were concerned, but certainly not the end of her love for music, or dancing, or just being herself. 

The author Virginia Woolf once said, “Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works.” 

 And so, my friends, that was my life during the war when I was four. And in the end, it turned out, I did it anyway. All by myself. My way. Written large.

Copyright Sandra Hart 2015. All rights reserved. 

  

Healthy Selfishness

Healthy Selfishness
Recently, I find myself less willing and sometimes overwhelmed with responsibilities to others that I always assumed was my duty. In the past that is the dynamic that I have put forth.
I thought I would share with you my thoughts from a different perspective about the new seeds that are springing fresh life into the old landscape of our attitudes and relationships. Selfishness has always been a negative word for me. It was only recently that the world received the good news that a degree of it is not only okay, but an important ingredient in living a full life and its presence-or lack of it-can make a difference in both the big and small issues in your life.

The true cost of self-denial is high. In failing to put our own needs first, we hope or assume others will give to us as we give to them. But they don’t always. And an unhealthy dynamic begins.
Many see healthy selfishness as a higher level of mental function that can help you reach your full potential. People who practice healthy selfishness have a zest for living, a joy that comes from savoring one’s accomplishments.
Healthy selfishness opens the door to a life of freedom-freedom from being ruled by the opinions and demands of others as well as freedom from the voices in your own mind, often left over from childhood.
Healthy selfishness involves accepting your weaknesses and imperfections without beating yourself up. It means nurturing yourself and loving yourself unconditionally.

Put yourself in control. Here are your options:
Small steps. (i.e.) Don’t offer your significant other the television remote right away when beginning an evening of television together.
Longer Strides. (i.e.) Don’t offer your significant other the television remote.
Life-changing leaps. (i.e.) Hide the remote in a safe place and then hold it securely in your hand and control it all evening.
Excerpt from Read Between My Lines by Sandra Hart Myartisansway Press 2007 copyright
(Sandra Hart is the former Ms. Sandra of the children’s television program Romper Room and is a working actress, award-winning author of Behind The Magic Mirror and Places Within My Heart and is a motivational speaker. She lives in New Jersey and South Beach with her husband and is “Nana” to four fantastic grandchildren.)

Copyright Sandra Hart  All Rights Reserved

A LOVE LETTER TO ALL MY DOO BEES

“Romper, Bomper, Stomper ……”
(Yesterday I went for my annual checkup with my primary physician. At the end of my visit he looked at me and smiled, “When you looked into that Magic Mirror and said my name, bet you didn’t know you were making your doctor happy!” Honestly he was right. At the time I had no idea the impact the TV show Romper Room would have on the 60’s and 70’s children. To add to this resurgence of Romper Room thought, last week on my Facebook feed there I was with 176, 602 thousand likes and growing by the minute. The Do You Remember site posted a picture of me while doing a Romper Room Show back in the 70’s. Don’t know where they got the picture, but that posting reminded me of an article I wrote several years ago for an Internet magazine that has been reprinted over 5 thousand times. Never realized there were so many Romper Room fans out there!)
A LOVE LETTER TO ALL MY DOO BEES
It seems as though in the last few years all those terribly terrific children who grew up with us on Romper Room are now ruling the world and moving and shaking in all-important circles of life.
Those who grew up in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s are today’s power brokers of influence. The are now the bankers, brokers, directors. writers, rock stars and CEO’s of corporations. But they all have the Big Question for me when I am lucky enough to meet one of them. “Why didn’t you say my name in your Magic Mirror?”
When the January 23, 1997 issue of Rolling Stone revealed to the world that my son, Emerson Hart, lead vocalist and songwriter of the band Tonic, had a mother who was the Romper Room lady, I could no longer hide in anonymity. I was dragged from underneath the rock I had been hiding since the 70’s. Since then I have been forced to account for my sins.
Some of these wonderful men and women I have met at my son’s concerts, either thank me, or admonish me for not saying their name in my Magic Mirror. When I explain to them that I tried my very best to name each and every one I could in the short time allotted at the end of the show to ‘see’ all of my Do Bees, but because of the volumes of mail I received each day, I couldn’t acknowledge as many as I would have liked, they pretend to understand, but they are still not satisfied. So if you are reading this and I didn’t say your name, please forgive me.
‘Romper Bomper, Stomper Boo. Tell me, tell me true. Magic Mirror, tell me today did all my friends have fun at play? I see Michelle and John and Bill and…oh, there you are. I’ve been looking for you all these years. I see YOU!”
Excerpt from Read Between My Lines by Sandra Hart ©  
(Sandra Hart is the former Ms. Sandra of the children’s television program Romper Room and is a working actress, award-winning author of “Behind The Magic Mirror” and “Places Within My Heart”and is a motivational speaker and blogger. She lives in New Jersey and South Beach with her husband and is “Nana” to four fantastic grandchildren.)

How To Make The Most Of Your Mothers Genes

Now that I am on the far side of over 50, most of my life is made up of memories and stuff. In the past few weeks after my return from Florida that’s exactly what I’ve been doing – going through stuff that is bringing back memories. If you’re my age you probably either already have done this, or plan to do this in the near future. I’m intending once and for all to let go of physical memories that I can’t carry with me any more. 

 If you’ve been through this please have empathy for me because you know that it’s not easy to get rid of material things that are evidence that you did have a life and lived it and it mattered… at least to you or your mother. Yes, I still even have the things that my mother saved about her life and about the lives of her children while we were growing up.  

I was at that point today where I was so frustrated that I just decided I was going to close my eyes and start dumping all ancient report cards, essays, letters with old stamps on them, birthday cards and pictures of people that I didn’t know when I came upon a small bundle of folded papers secured by a faded blue ribbon. 

What I found on those papers actually broke my heart. You see my mother was one of the most creative beings I have ever known yet, as a woman in the 30s and 40s she was a housewife, always ‘just’ a housewife. She was caretaker of all that she loved and secretly put her creative dreams in a box somewhere for her eyes only.  

Throughout her life Mother’s need for creativity came through her interior decorating in our home and as the years grew and she had more leisure time, she satisfied her creative genes by working on small oil paintings and crocheted so many quilts and scarves for us we didn’t know where to put them. 

That was my mother, or so I thought until I found her secret bundle of papers. I gently opened the yellowed papers and began to read. …”The Little Naked Tree”……as I read on I was finding beautiful stories in rhyme that she had written. They had her signature at the end and her return address beneath. It looked like Mother had possibly submitted these for publication, probably to one of the women’s magazines of the day. Or maybe she wanted to, but never got the courage to follow through with her dreams of being published and most of all, had kept her secret compositions from us.

So as her daughter, a published author and writer, I am giving my mother’s dream life. Here is one of her stories that I have copyright for in her name. This is for you Mother. Thank you for my creative genes.

THE LITTLE NAKED TREE

I am am a little naked tree 

People on their boat pass by 

And make fun of me. 

Here I stand with lovely green trees all around 

Tiny squirrels scamper on the ground.

There a lot of things they don’t know about me. 

I am a friend, companion, too, for a lot of animals that you see.

The fishhawk sits on the very top.

He makes makes a wish 

Then swoops down to catch a fish.

The mother squirrel has made a retreat.

 She stores her food so nice and neat.

 Down near my roots there are some holes.

 Snug and cozy for little moles.

Near the trunk there is a nest.

Mother Robin lays her eggs to rest 

And soon the eggs are hatched out.

Little robins flutter about.

So now you can see, 

Why did they make fun of me?

Just because I am different as can be?

You may have friends who are not like you 

But they may be very nice

And have purpose, too.

So always remember on life’s way 

Be very careful what you do and what you say 

Always be kind and nice to all you see.

They could be just like me

The little naked tree.

V. Atkinson© Sandra Hart© All Rights Reserved.