The Gift Of Caring

 It was the kind of evening when the wind found every opening in my heavy winter wrappings. There was no escaping the chill that went through my bones as I sat on the deck of the Queen Elizabeth as it sailed down the Hudson River toward the Atlantic and the beginning of our 109 day world cruise.

With my beret pulled down over my ears and scarf wrapped around my neck as high as possible, I leaned against the railing facing the winds watching he magnificent New York City skyline, swimming by so slowly.

Weeks before my friends Lou and Cathy who live in the Village vowed they would add to our send-off by signaling to us from the end of the Christopher Street Pier as we sailed by. 

It seemed a great idea at the time, until our sailing was delayed into the darkness and severe winter weather was moving in. So much for a sendoff, I disappointedly thought. Lou would be working and Cathy would be alone.

As we moved along, suddenly I saw a flicker…a blinking beam of bright light coming from the Christopher Pier. Once, twice, three times. She had come. She had come in the darkness and waited in the cold to wish us a bon voyage as she had promised. Cathy’s life was all about the gift of caring. I will always miss you my dear friend.

Copyright Sandra Hart©2007. From Read Between My Lines: What Was I Thinking.           All Rights Reserved 

Jump In With Both Feet


Image by Owen Buggy

Richard Branson, CEO AND FOUNDER of Virgin Group recently posted in a blog: 
“Dreaming is one of humanity’s greatest gifts. It champions aspiration, spurs innovation, leads to change and propels us forward. In a world without dreams, there would be no adventure, no moon landing, no female CEOs, no civil rights. What a half-lived and tragic existence we would have. We should all dream big, and encourage others to do so, too.”

This perspective has been my mantra since I was a teen creating a ‘dream-memory’ board in my bedroom tacking up pictures of things I wanted to happen in my life. Even then I realized that these life events would not just appear like magic. I knew I would have to work hard toward my goals, but those pictures gave me a structure to my dreams and gave me focus. 

My life has had some valleys that I didn’t ask for, side roads that were big detours and extra high mountains I was forced to climb, but those major dreams I had as a teen in her bedroom, mostly came true in varying degrees.   

I have always encouraged my children to follow their dreams, think out of the box and when everyone tells you it can’t be done – prove them wrong by swimming against the tide and DO IT! 

Those are the dreams that come true! When no one believes in your ideas, you believe in yourself and have the last laugh through your success. Nothing stops one’s dreams in their tracks like the power of fear and needing outside approval. If you don’t really believe in your dreams, they will evaporate in all the hot air around you.

 My having lived almost eight decades, I can assure you that if you still have unrequited dreams, it is never too late to make them come true. Jump in will both feet and make them happen. The last laugh will be yours and the naysayers will be left with, “Gee, I should have done that!” Too bad. Their loss. You beat them to it!

Copyright©Sandra Hart 2017

All Rights Reserved.

Elizabeth’s Story

Each encounter we have in our lives creates the fabric from which we are made. 

Copyright©Sandra Hart

All Rights reserved

PESTO’S UBER TALE

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On Monday after his morning walk our sweet rescued Pesto became paralyzed in an instant. After our vet recommended a neurologist within an hour he was headed to the MRI and resulting disc surgery.

During all this drama our car was in the shop so I had to rely on the car service Uber to get us back and forth the veterinary office.

The trip we made to pick up Pesto after his operation, Uber sent us a very interesting Egyptian driver, an accountant by trade, who had been in this country about two years. He met online and married a woman living in Miami from Honduras.

Before coming to America he said he never could understand how Americans could feel so strongly about their dogs. In Egypt dogs wander the streets and they are never incorporated into the family unit, but he added that his wife has a little Yorky and he has fallen in love with her. She greets him with all of her wiggles as soon as he opens the door and makes him feel loved. It has taken this experience with the little dog to change his whole life’s mindset about the relationship between animals and human beings. He said that indeed they do have souls and they can love. An admitted revelation he never would’ve experienced had he not come to America.

To me this has been a learning experience, or lesson in cultural understanding, that if we could take this on to a bigger picture and walk in each other shoes, then maybe, we could understand one another much better. The curious custom of loving a pet and regarding them as a part of the family could only be understood by him until he experienced it.

As we arrived home my husband told Ahmed how much Pesto’s treatment cost. He threw up his hands in dismay. “Do you know in Egypt I could get married, have a big wedding and buy a house equal to that!”

Pesto do you really know how lucky you are to live in America ?!

Copyright Sandra Hart 2015. All rights reserved.

Can Music Make You Smarter

For The Love Of Music

As hard as I tried to control them, involuntary tears welled in my eyes in the darkness of the theater. I couldn’t escape from the emotions the music was stirring within me. I closed my eyes and let the music take over my soul. What a night.

The other evening I attended Klezmer Concert that fed my hunger for music and released any stresses that had occurred during the day. It was joyful, plaintive and everything that music does to me, all rolled up together to take me to a better place, if only for 90 minutes. But I know I am not alone in my love of music in all forms.

The influence of music on society can be clearly seen from modern history. Music helped Thomas Jefferson write the Declaration of Independence. When he could not figure out the right wording for a certain part, he would play his violin to help him. The music helped him get the words from his brain onto the paper.

A little known fact about Einstein is that when he was young he did extremely poor in school. His grade school teachers told his parents to take him out of school because he was "too stupid to learn" and it would be a waste of resources for the school to invest time and energy in his education. The school suggested that his parents get Albert an easy, manual labor job as soon as they could.

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His mother didn’t think that Albert was “stupid”. Instead of following the school’s advice, Albert’s parents bought him a violin. Albert became good at the violin. Music was the key that helped Albert Einstein become one of the smartest men who has ever lived. Einstein himself says that the reason he was so smart is because he played the violin. A friend of Einstein, G.J. Withrow, said that the way Einstein figured out his problems and equations was by improvising on the violin.

In general, responses to music are able to be observed, not always through tears filled with emotion like mine last night. It has been proven that music influences humans both in good and bad ways. These effects are instant and long lasting.

Music is thought to link all of the emotional, spiritual, and physical elements of the universe. Music can also be used to change a person’s mood, and has been found to cause like physical responses in many people simultaneously. I have seen both at great music halls and during my son’s rock concerts. Different responses surely, but definitely reaction to what they were hearing.

One cannot deny the power of music. High school students who study music have higher grade point averages that those who don’t. These students also develop faster physically. Student listening skills are also improved through music education. The top three schools in America all place a great emphasis on music and the arts.

Hungary, Japan, and the Netherlands, the top three academic countries in the world, all place a great emphasis on music education and participation in music.

The top engineers from Silicon Valley are all musicians.

In the end we have to leave it to Napoleon to understand the enormous power of music. He summed it up by saying, “Give me control over he who shapes the music of a nation, and I care not who makes the laws” .

Faces Of Miami

I love the series Humans of New York where the photographer takes a candid photo and then interviews the person behind the image. Their stores are absolutely fascinating. How many of our own stories with humans have we missed on a daily basis by having our faces stuck in our iPhones.)

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My Humans Of Miami Story

I was alone except for the tired restaurant worker still dressed in his work clothes sitting at the end of the bench with his head in his hands.

I pulled my straw hat down a little further to keep the hot noonday sun burning through the waving palm fronds off my face. I was waiting for the South Beach jitney to take me up to Lincoln Road where I planned to do some last minute Christmas shopping.

Suddenly this tiny little woman who had hurriedly crossed the street stood looking as though she wasn’t too sure where she wanted to sit, but then quickly plopped down beside me.

“Have you been waiting long?” she asked.

“No, but you know the jitney. It sometimes takes awhile for it to get here,” I replied.

She seemed very sweet, casually dressed, beyond middle-aged with her graying dark hair pulled back in a bun and small frizzy curls in front of her ears were let loose to fly a bit in the air. She looked like she could be someone’s sweet grandmother, I thought she probably was and was taking the bus back to Miami.

“Are you visiting?” I asked.

“No. I live here. My parents immigrated from Cuba when I was three years old. They were trying to escape the Castro regime. So I have lived in the states most of my life. Not always in Florida, because I went to New York to go to college. Then after college I moved to an apartment with some friends in the village and started working in the music business. Then after that we moved to Williamsburg and until I retired, I was involved with a large company that did a lot of the organizing for shows on Broadway. When I retired I moved back down here to Florida to be next to my son. Now I’m a chef for one of the private yachts in the marina here. The owner has a gluten sensitivity so it’s a challenge for me to try to create recipes without any ingredients that have gluten. But I’ve become pretty good at being able to do Cuban dishes and other dishes by substituting gluten-free products into those menus.”

We continued our conversation on the bus until she arrived at her stop. We exchanged business cards and she went on her way. She was such a fascinating woman. I was so wrong and have to claim stupidity in my initial narrow first judgement and impression of her. What I would have missed, not speaking with her! She was a well-educated, smart entrepreneurial woman.

The moral of my encounter is two pronged. Never judge a book by it’s cover and never miss a fascinating encounter by connecting with a fellow human, even if it is at the bus stop. What an interesting human story I would have missed had I not kept my iPhone in my purse.

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