Mamma Mia Afternoon

new-york-08-0092

Nice picture, huh? Yes, I know it’s a bit fuzzy and that Joan Ella is partially cut off, but I like it because it symbolizes the fruition of several months of planning to go to the Big Apple. We were standing under the marquee of Mamma Mia where we had just picked up our tickets for the evening’s performance,  tickets that Joan Ella had ordered weeks in advance. Wanting to capture the moment, I snagged a passerby and asked her to take our picture. An elderly lady who looked ultra trustworthy, she began to slowly back up more and more as she tried to bring us into focus, and Judy had just commented that it looked like the sweet looking photographer was about to disappear with my camera. That’s why we were all sort of half-smiling.

All of us turned the big 60 this past year, and as we reflected on the rapidity of how of lives were speeding along, we decided to DO IT, to go to New York City during the Christmas season sans our husbands. That way we could do what “girls” like to do:  shop and sightsee and go to plays that the men folk in our lives might not enjoy.  I should mention that all of us went to high school together and had managed to keep in touch throughout the decades, some of us more so than others. What made the trip and our time together even more meaningful and fun is that we all knew each other’s “back stories,” a term I read about in Southern Living that refers to a person’s history.  And what a shared history we have! But then, that’s a story for another day.

This morning, I just wanted to comment on the fact that we didn’t just TALK about “one of these days;” we DID IT. Joan Ella, planner and organizer extraordinaire, put the trip together for us…even getting our airline and theatre tickets. She also arranged for a limo to pick us up and take us to the hotel once we had landed at LaGuardia. All we had to do was show up at Judy’s house at 7:30 a.m. to pack the car and head out for Charlotte.

But I digress. After settling into our tiny rooms, we headed out to the Winter Garden Theatre to pick up our tickets, and along the way we were surely the epitome of tourists who were agog at the sights and sounds of this incredible city. Energy all around us, we fell right into the beat as the exuberance of the atmosphere infected us. So many people…such diversity…such BIGNESS of everything. 

Although this might seem incredulous, before dressing for our evening at the theatre we ate at the Olive Garden. Yep, we did. We came all the way from SC to dine at one of the most ubiquitous restaurants in the United States. But hey, we like pasta and soup and salad, so why not? Besides, this particular Olive Garden is different from any other that I’ve ever visited in that it overlooks Broadway. As we munched on our breadsticks, we saw life teeming in the streets and enjoyed watching the lit-up numbers from the stock exchange circle around the building across the street. Oh, and I LOVE the M & M billboard, and I was able to watch it reflected in the window. We enjoyed our pre-theatre experience so much that we came back for a post-theatre dessert, a decadent black tie mousse.

The production of Mamma Mia was one that I’ll never forget. The immense talent of all of the performers was/is astounding. Just to make sure that I don’t forget any of it, I quickly downloaded the soundtrack onto my iPod and now I get to listen to “Voulez-Vous” and all of the other numbers any time I want to. Seeing the diversity of people in the theatre was a treat too. It was so cool (?) to think of how so many different types of people had all come together at this special season of the year to enjoy a night on Broadway.

There’s plenty more I can and will write about. For now, what I’d like for any readers out there to realize that this is no dress rehearsal. This is life, real life, and it’s very brief. If there’s something you want to do or say or be, what you are waiting for? If not now, then when???? Yesterday, Judy, Jeanita, Patty, Joan Ella, and Jayne were little girls learning to read with Dick and Jane books. Today we’re grandmothers.

Here’s a quote from The Music Man that President Monson recently used in a conference address: “You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you’ve collected a lot of empty yesterdays.”  President Monson continued, “There is no tomorrow to remember if we don’t do something today.” I feel assured that the grandmothers in the picture will have a lot of yesterdays to remember. What about you?

Yes to Peace in 2009

No 2009 resolutions for this gal. It’s always seemed a little contrived to come up with a list of things on January 1st that you “resolve” to do.  That’s such a strong word, a serious one. Still, with 52 weeks of possibilities before me, it seems fitting to think of something to do, to improve upon, to experience.

 A columnist in SC’s The State said that she planned to evolve rather than resolve, and I like that way of thinking. It’s rather optimistic to think that one is always in the process of becoming who or what she’s meant to be. We’re never really “done,” at least not while in this earthly life, and hence we can evolve into being kinder, more tolerant, more loving, more accomplished people.  I think it was Abraham Maslow who spoke of us as being human becomings rather than human beings because we’re always in the “becoming” state (or should be).

Another thought I have is to come up with a word to serve as a mantra throughout the year, a word that connotes how I want to act, think, and speak. My friend Connie and I discussed this a week or so ago, and I’m leaning towards peace: peace in my heart, in my home, in my work environment, in all my relationships (especially the most intimate ones), and on Earth. It’s not something I’d just like to have if it works out but rather something that I’m willing to work for. Last year my word was “yes,” yes to life, to love, to opportunity, to differences, to experiences, to Jayne.  I included “to Jayne” because I see numerous women saying yes to everyone else and no to themselves.

So peace it is. Peace is my word for 2009 as I continue saying “yes” to those experiences that will help me evolve into being whatever my genetic endowment and environment allow. That includes being the best MarlaJayne I can be…not the best Susan, Serena, Angela, Mary, or Lauren. Just the best Me.

Two Extraordinary Men

Hands down, Kathleen Parker is my favorite columnist…and no, not because she’s a woman but because she has the uncanny ability to say just what I’m thinking in a much better, more eloquent manner. You’ll see why in a moment.

 

At the end of election week, I find myself still thinking of John McCain and what a courageous, tough man of integrity he is. Don’t experience and sacrifice count for something?? Then I think of our president-elect, and as I said in an earlier post, I can clearly see that he has many sterling attributes and that perhaps he is the better person for unifying such a diverse group of people. My heart is sore for McCain, but my spirit is hopeful for Obama and his mission.

 

What does this have to do with Kathleen Parker? In her words: “We arrived at this historic moment through the sacrifices (and blood) of those who preceded us. Barack Obama’s ascendancy is testament to the audacity of the American dream—as well as to the enormous suffering of men such as John McCain.” And then she continues, “Two men of extraordinary talent clashed not in the battlefield of strap-on bombs , but in the civilized arena of ideas.”

 

See. I told you I couldn’t have said it better (or as well).

Our New President

I’ll admit it; I voted for John McCain. I like the guy and everything he stands for. What’s not to like and respect about a man who as a young P.O.W. turned down the opportunity to go home after his captors learned of his identity? To him, it seemed wrong and downright unethical to desert his fellow countrymen who were also being held as prisoners. That’s the kind of man I want in my foxhole, don’t you? Then there are the decades of experience in the Senate in which he was being honed and seasoned to be the leader of the free world. With our country at war, the economy in shambles, the healthcare system in a deplorable shape, I reasoned that his leadership skills were just what the nation needed.

 

However, America has spoken, and over half  feel that Barack Obama is the man for the job. There are several attributes that I admire about him, among them his cool demeanor, his keen intellect, and his evident ability to inspire faith and hope in those who are ready for change. It scares me a bit that he seemed to come out of nowhere and to have SO MUCH MONEY AND POWER compared to others with a longer, steadier track record. And yet, the voters have spoken.

 

Here’s another thought I had as I watched Obama’s family on election night. There they were: a father, a mother, and the children…a nuclear family in an age when the increasingly popular standard seems to be anything but. Perhaps he’ll be just the role model that young men need to encourage them to “step up to the plate” and accept the responsibilities of parenthood. Perhaps Michelle will somehow inspire young women to marry and then have children. No, I’m not bashing single parents. I am saying, however, that anyone reading this who doesn’t think there is some degree of “mother hunger” and “father hunger” hasn’t listened to the children, teens, and yes, even the adults of the U.S.A.

 

McCain valiantly fought the good fight and was gracious and gentlemanly in his election night speech. Perhaps Sarah Palin hurt his cause. Perhaps it was the economy. Maybe it was the legacy of the Clinton/Bush years. Then again, maybe it’s just that he represents the “old school,” and his fellow Americans are desperate for change.

 

Does the president-elect have what it takes to heal the nation’s wounds and forge “unity among diversity?” I hope so. He has my support and my prayers. From the advice he’s being badgered with from his supporters and well-wishers, he’s going to need all of our prayers. I once read that Billy Graham said he supported whoever was president at the time because of his fervent belief that whoever the man was, he was God’s choice for us at that time in history. Sure hope he’s right