THIS MORNING SOMETHING WONDERFUL HAPPENED TO ME

My relationship with time has always been a little wobbly but since the pandemic, wobbles have turned into free-falls and bumpy rides through the land of “what is time anyway?”

This is my way of saying I don’t remember when “that morning” happened. Was it spring, summer, fall, winter? I don’t know. But it’s easy to flash back to the moment.

There he is, one of our CC Strummers, a big teddy bear of a guy, gripping a giant coffee in one hand and his ukulele in the other. You can’t miss his mischievous Cheshire Cat smile because it kind of lights up the room.

Then he speaks.

“Cali, something wonderful happened to me this morning.”   Pause…pause…pause…   He leaves me dangling over the edge of this conversational cliff as I mentally scroll through the possibilities here.

“Okay, okay…so what happened?” I finally ask.

“I WOKE UP!”

Well I hear this and burst into laughter, like snorting kind of laughter. (I thought he was going to say he got laid…)

This Morning Something Wonderful Happened To Me (I Woke Up) with Cali, Michael, Lyn, Debbie, Toni, Sheila-Sheila, Ethan, Tom, Nancy, Nomi, Doug, Chris, Lin and Marilyn. Click this picture to watch the video.

Please tell me how do we miss “the obvious?” That of course…we woke up this morning. But it doesn’t take long for my ha-ha-ha to level out and kerplop into the mortality thing.That IF we have the good fortune to wake up one more day, the rest is gravy. That we are renters in this apartment building of life and sooner or later we have to turn in the key.  So being here NOW is a pretty big deal.

These little flashes of whooo-whooo happen once in a while and I try to capture them for keepsies. When I was a kid growing up in Washington D.C. I loved to catch lighting bugs and slide them into an empty mayonnaise jar. My father used a screwdriver to poke air holes in the cap so they could breathe. The next morning I woke up. The bugs did not.

It’s taken a long time for that lesson to sink in. Once a flesh and blood moment of “aha” is snared in a net of words, well…poof.  It loses it’s electrical charge.  I still scribble in my journal anyway because I can’t help myself. But in this case, I decided to write that waking up thing into a song so I would remember.  Really remember.   And that’s how “This Morning Something Wonderful Happened to Me (I Woke Up)” came about.

When I started performing my song at gigs I noticed something very interesting. Other people had the same reaction that I did when I first heard the words. They laughed, like “oh yeah…right…” And then they didn’t.

But now they sing along. Every time. With joy!  Who can ask for more?

It’s the yin and yang of life, made visible. A little darkness in light; a little light in darkness. “And maybe all is well, even when it is not.” (Yep, I wrote that into the song).

With the help of Michael Kohan, The CC Strummers’ video-creator, editor-extraordinaire, the bass player too and several CC Strummers who cheerfully played in the sand box with us, we have come up with a marvelous visual expression of this deeply felt observation. CLICK HERE to watch and please share it with your peeps!

Here today, gone tomorrow! Whoop it up folks!

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This Morning Something Wonderful Happened To Me (I Woke Up)
is from my ukulele CD, Smile, Smile, Smile.
Ask Alexa to play it for you or check out Amazon and Apple Music.

BRAND NEW DAY

“Remember, we all stumble, every one of us. That’s why it’s a comfort to go hand in hand.” Emily Kimbrough, author and broadcaster (1899-1989)

I am not familiar with Emily nor her work, but I sure like this quote and maybe you noticed she lived a really long life. Heads up to my introvert, extrovert and whatever-vert friends.  Even during these “don’t touch me, don’t breathe on me” times, our pals, our friends, our tribes, the online faces in little Zoom boxes, we are throwing lifelines to each other.

We are “walking each other home.” (Ram Dass)

I’m one lucky lady because I am living the creative life. Got the music thing happening and like my daddy, I love to write. It’s a party in my brain when the two go matchy-matchy.

Three years ago, I was working with a couple ukulele students on gospel tunes. I love songs with thumping rhythm that rolls in my belly.  But I’m not a “religious” person so for my daily dose of inspiration, I look to you, the beloved community*. Numberless hands and hearts, known and unknown, help me through each day, like invisible rings of warm.

And it hit me. Why don’t I try to write one of those rollicking hand-clapping songs but what will I talk about? Well of course, the beloved community. Just like that, the melody and words poured out. This rarely happens in my songwriting life, where the creative process is more like pro-wrestling than “a spell.” But with Brand New Day, the beloved community waved its magic wand.

I started playing the song at my gigs. Folks clapped and sang along on the easy-peasy chorus: “Oh hallelujah! Oh hallelujah! Oh hallelujah! It’s a brand new day.”

Then I did a ukulele arrangement for The CC Strummers. They loved it too and we performed the song at Fiesta La Ballona, which is Culver City’s equivalent to a county fair. Some people in the audience gave us a standing ovation and yelled “more…more…more.” As a songwriter, it just doesn’t get any better than that.

Flash forward to here and now.

“May you live in interesting times.” Apparently this is an English expression that is based on an old Chinese curse. We are painfully aware of all the awful that is happening in the world.  How easy it is to miss the little flower growing through a crack in the sidewalk.  Or through a seemingly impenetrable wall that separates us?

A friend once told me that life is a mystery to be lived, not solved. So I look to the beloved community to sustain me. We are going through this together, like sentries, quietly and not-so-quietly, witnessing our shared humanity.  The joys, the sorrows.  The whole mess of it.

My ukulele group, The CC Strummers, has morphed into a global ohana online. I am gobsmacked and filled with gratitude that we have the technology to support this kind of work and that we have each other. This is where I have landed—at the intersection of music, technology and all that “it takes a village” stuff.

The CC Strummers’ tech master, Michael Kohan, has taken on this project—to turn Brand New Day into a marvelous Zoom mosaic. A musical partnership. Several of our players made their own videos and sing along on that catchy chorus. I hope you will sing along too. Watch the bouncing ball!


CLICK HERE to watch Brand New Day!


Thank you Michael for your extraordinary work! And thank you to our ohana who appear and sing on this video: Ellen B, Carole E, Lyn G, Nancy H, Bobbie H, Marilyn H, Lorri K, Sherry K, Michael K (editor and bass), Ethan K, Tom K, Donna N, Joyce P, Nomi R, Robert R, Bob S, Bonnie S, Lin Van G and Mollie W.

If this song is new to you and you’d like to learn it and/or share it with your peeps, Brand New Day is available as sheet music.

I’m going to sound like one of those late night infomercials… “For $5, yes only $5, the sheet music is yours AND there’s more! I will throw in the ukulele arrangement too. Whoo-Hoo!” If you are interested please CLICK HERE for more information.

Thank you for showing up, for yourself and others. Thank you for fighting the good fight, whatever that is, and for helping to make this brand new day a place we all want to share.

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If you would like to Zoom with The CC Strummers on Monday afternoons and Thursday mornings please CLICK HERE to check out my Zoom classes. Thank you!


*The Beloved Community is a term that was first coined in the early 20th Century by the philosopher Josiah Royce and later popularized by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

CLICK HERE to watch The CC Strummers perform Brand New Day at Fiesta La Ballona.