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 

Elizabeth’s Story

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

Copyright©Sandra Hart

All Rights reserved

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

The Father Who Might Have Been

(The following is a reprint of an article written about my son and I by Brain And Behavior Research Foundation May 27, 2014.)

Holidays are sometimes very hard for those with depression and other forms of mental illness, so I wanted to share our story again to give hope to families who are in chaos due to mental illness to give them hope that research and cures are our biggest priority. We care about you.

In Schizophrenia’s Wake, a Son Laments the Father Who Might Have Been

IMG_0693.JPG
Sandra and Emerson Hart, Professional Actress from “Romper Room” and Grammy-Nominated Singer/Songwriter, Lead Singer of Tonic
Sandra and Emerson Hart

Emerson Hart is a singer-songwriter. In the 1990s, he co-founded the Grammy-nominated rock band Tonic and, as the lead singer, has written hit songs for the band’s multi-platinum albums. Emerson credits his mother, Sandra Hart, an actress and writer, for his love of language and performing, and his late father, Jennings, a singer in his youth, for handing down his musical talent. But Jennings also bequeathed to his son a darker legacy.

The most salient fact of Emerson Hart’s life from earliest childhood, one he kept hidden for years, was his father’s mental illness. Untreated and only belatedly diagnosed as schizophrenia, it manifested itself in abuse and rages that cast a shadow of unrelenting terror over the family, which included Sandra’s two small daughters from an earlier marriage. A decade ago, Emerson began confronting the family “secret” with the release of his first solo album.

IMG_0694-0.JPG
Emerson Hart, singer/songwriter

“I love kids and I wanted to be a father,” he says, “but I felt that if I continued to keep that stuff inside, it would poison my relationship with a child.” (He now has a daughter, Lucienne, age six.) Since he has gone public, many fans tell him, often in tears, that his story is theirs. This is a main reason he and his mother so strongly support the work of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation—there should be a way to diagnose and treat these illnesses before havoc is wreaked.

The story began in 1968 when “Miss Sandra,” then the Baltimore-area hostess of the children’s television show “Romper Room,” found “the perfect husband.” Jennings, she says, “was handsome and charming, had his own business, lots of friends and a beautiful Irish tenor voice.” He also, she was to learn, had great skill at hiding the symptoms of his illness.

IMG_0695.JPG

After Emerson’s birth in 1969, Sandra struggled to keep the family functioning. Then came a night when goaded by inner voices that told him she was unfaithful, Jennings, brandishing a screwdriver, lunged at her. She was somehow able to knock him off balance long enough to grab the children and flee. Arrested and hospitalized, Jennings was finally diagnosed and treated, but as soon as he was released and returned home, he stopped his medications and the violence resumed.

Unable to help him and increasingly concerned for her family’s well-being, Sandra divorced Jennings in 1977. Then, she says, the stalking began. “He stalked and threatened me constantly. I was certain he would kill me.” Instead, in a stranger-than-fiction twist, Jennings was killed, or so it is presumed. In 1980 he vanished without a trace, believed murdered by a jealous husband.

Sandra Hart – “Behind the Magic Mirror”For Sandra, Jennings’ death brought relief, but closure came slowly. Although she married again, happily, and resumed a career as a television and film actress, it took her decades to exorcise the past. She did, finally, by writing about it in the book “Behind the Magic Mirror.” (photo above) (Romper Room fans will recognize the allusion to the show’s “magic mirror.”)

For Emerson, the death brought nightmares. “To this day,” he says, “when I’m under great stress, my father will appear in my sleep, sometimes alive, sometimes dead, smoking a cigarette and staring at me.” Because of the unresolved circumstances of the death, Emerson long feared his father might return. Another “hammer over my head,” as he calls it, was the worry that he would inherit his father’s illness.

Ultimately, however, his deepest feeling is sadness. “If my father had had the right diagnosis and medication early on, if treatment had been possible, with all the good qualities he had going, I know he would have been an awesome father.”

IMG_0695.JPG.

Read Between My Lines

It’s an inspiring hang with Sandra Hart, former Romper Room teacher, touching on a number of subjects. Heart-felt and funny and often whimsical Sandra shares her personal, profound thoughts that will make you chuckle or give you thought about your own life. A thoughtful collection of essays that is a perfect read by your bedside or in daily doses. Available in Kindle or printed copy at amazon.com
http://tinyurl.com/n9u7mw
LikePicture 1