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.

_______

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.

LIFE IS A MARATHON

All the “kids” in my ukulele group, The CC Strummers, are living courageous and Technicolor lives, whether they (or we) know it. The truth is I could write a blog about every one of them. I could write a blog about YOU and I bet I’d be plenty inspired.

Well let me introduce you to Miss Isabelle.

She walks into our ukulele class and brings a swath of sunshine with her. This woman. Like two allowance-challenged teenagers, she and I commiserate about the latest colorful frock we snagged at The Goodwill. Just about everything she wears looks good on her.

Including her latest medal…

Isabelle ran in the L.A. Marathon this month. And Isabelle FINISHED the L.A. Marathon. Did I mention it was a thousand degrees that day. Okay I am exaggerating. It was in the 90’s. NOT marathon weather. People were falling over or at least stopping and staying “stopped.” Men and women who are much younger than Isabelle gave in and gave up.

Happy 80th Birthday Isabelle!

She was determined to finish the race. All 26.2 miles! It took her almost 9 hours. Yes she stopped and rested a few minutes here and there… After mile 17 she decided to walk instead of trot. She took her time and enjoyed the scenery.

Did I tell you that she has completed lots of marathons and has the hardware and ribbons to show for it? The class gave her a big round of applause.

I walk my “marathon” three times a week. That would be a mile and half or 25 minutes (whatever comes first) around my neighborhood. Then I sprint up four flights of stairs to our condo. I’m winded and pooped. A jock I am not. Never have been. And then I think of beautiful Isabelle and…I go back to sleep.

It’s treacherous waters, comparing ourselves with others, so I give myself a metaphorical pat on the back for just doing what I do. “Consistency” is good enough in my air space.

But Isabelle does more than run… She flies. She goes to places that I happily visit on the National Geographic Channel but know I will never see in person. Last year she and her tennis shoes explored Machu Picchu in Peru. A couple years back she made it to the base camp of Mt. Everest. 17,000 feet UP.

“Where do you go to the bathroom”? I ask her. Because I always ask that question. Because if I go anywhere, I need a bathroom that is fully furnished, functional and private with a toilet that flushes. End of story. Isabelle tells me she squats over a hole in the ground. She describes the scene with such equanimity that joy washes over her face.

I tried squatting over my toilet once, just for fun. Just to see if I could do it. I sure “felt it” in my thigh and calf muscles. And other places. “Wow, this is good exercise,” I groaned to myself, just before giving up.

Ah, exercise….

Which brings us back to running our own marathon–saying “yes” to a body that keeps us moving along the asphalt highways of our life. Thank you Isabelle for loving the scenery and for showing us what is possible. At any age!