Some of My Favorite Things

Albert Einstein and wife Mileva Maric

“People who lack the clarity, courage, or determination to follow their own dreams will often find ways to discourage yours. Live your truth and don’t EVER stop!” ~ Steve Maraboli

“There was a definite process by which one made people into friends; it involved talking to them and listening to them for hours at a time.” ~ Rebecca West

I have never written a blog post enumerating some of my favorite things even though there have been times when I’ve written reviews of books and movies I liked. Today I want to share some things I like, from television shows, to podcasts, to my new morning ritual. I hope you enjoy.

First favorite thing: I have a new pre-writing ritual. It’s this week’s assignment from Art & Soul Reloaded. I’ve never had a set ritual before sitting down to write, so coming up with something to summon the muses has been fun. I tend to over think these little assignments Pam Grout gives us every week. This time I decided not to do that and just choose some things to do that satisfy me right now. I can always refresh my ritual later.

I have two current favorite songs that I listen to often. The first is “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. He has a series of one hour YouTube videos made at different times of the day in different locations. He sings the song and dances to it the first time through and then each successive time through different people dance to his sound track. I’m not a good dancer, but I do dance to this song. It’s a good way to get my blood flowing in the morning and to remind myself that I can choose to be happy no matter what is going on. For me it’s better to write from a happy place rather than from self-torture.

The second song I love is “Evermore” from Beauty and the Beast. The composer wrote it especially for this new live action version of the movie. The Beast sings it after realizing that he has fallen in love with Belle as she is riding away to save her father from Gaston. In the song he sings, “Now I know she’ll never leave me, even as she fades from view, she will still inspire me, be a part of everything I do …” That touches me so deeply because we do need each other more than we realize. And those we love are still inspiring and supporting us even if they’re gone. So, as I sit down to write, I remember that I’m not writing alone. My ideas come from everything that has happened to me, and all the love I’ve shared. That gives me the courage to try to put into words the feelings and ideas that rattle around in my head.

Second favorite thing: I’ve never been a fan of listening to podcasts on a regular basis. My husband has several that he listens to on his way to and from work. I prefer silence when I’m driving, but a few months ago one of my Goodreads friends suggested I try Anne Bogel’s “What Do I Read Next” podcast and her blog, Modern Mrs. Darcy. After listening to an episode, I was hooked. Anne talks to regular everyday readers, who as it turns out, aren’t ordinary at all. Like the woman who owns, CW Pencil Enterprise – Purveyors of Superior Graphite. Who would have thought that someone could maintain a thriving business selling pencils, and all the accouterments that go with them? Even though this woman was a guest because of the books she loves, we got to hear enough of her story that I want to travel to New York just to visit her store. (Don’t despair, if you can’t travel to New York, she does have an online store.) Or another guest owns a bookstore devoted entirely to books about food. She sells a good number of cookbooks, naturally, but she also carries novels that center around food, or books about celebrations involving food. She even hosts book and food related events in her store. These are creative, interesting women I never would have known about if not for Anne Bogel’s podcast. I love it when people follow their passion and the universe rises up to meet them.

My third favorite thing is the television station NATGEO. When I was younger I was a television addict. I’d sit down with the TV Guide and plan out what I was going to watch during the coming week. In recent years, Barry and I have paired down our television watching and looked for unusual and informative shows rather than the same old sitcoms, or scripted dramas. Earlier this year NATGEO ran their first scripted series, Genius directed by Ron Howard. This first season was about Albert Einstein. It was fascinating. I didn’t know much about Einstein’s early life, his struggles to get his ideas published, his turbulent first marriage, or how he and his second wife eventually emigrated to the United States. It was riveting television, and I learned a great deal about physics in the process. The next season of Genius is going to be about Pablo Picasso. I’m looking forward to that one.

Another series on NATGEO I love is The Story of … with Morgan Freeman. Last year’s series was The Story of God, this season it’s The Story of Us. Morgan Freeman is on a mission, with both series, to help us understand each other better. I have found each episode compelling and even life changing, as he travels around the world asking questions and meeting people with extraordinary stories to tell. I hope you’ll check out both of these shows.

I have other favorites which I may share in future podcasts but until then, have a great weekend.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate your likes and comments.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2017

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel. It’s available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, and print-on-demand at Amazon and other fine book sellers. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Movies As Art – The Creative Life

“I always felt like a book is a friend that does what no friend can do; stay quiet when you wanna think.” Charlotte O’Neil, played by Virginia Madson, in The Magic of Belle Isle.

“Most times real life doesn’t measure up to what’s in our heads, but every now and then it comes pretty close.” Monte Wildhorn, played by Morgan Freeman in The Magic of Belle Isle.

Turquoise Water

I love movies where a lost person finds his or her way because they meet a person, or a family who help them see their life in a new way. Maybe I like those kind of movies, because as a child my parents took in people who needed looking after. When I was five, or maybe six, my parents took in an elderly gentleman from our church who was in that situation. He wasn’t senile, but he did need regular meals and companionship, until his children, who lived far away, could decide how to best take care of him. I remember that time as a wonderful rich sojourn. He was kind to my younger brother and me. He told us stories and bought us ice cream. He became a part of our family.

In a way, The Magic of Belle Isle, 2012, directed by Rob Reiner, is very much like that. It’s summer, and Virginia Madsen, who plays Charlotte has brought her three daughters to the small town of Belle Isle Village to live year round. She and her husband are getting a divorce. Morgan Freeman, who plays Monte, a washed up writer and alcoholic, comes to live next door.

Monte hopes to drink the summer away, but little by little he’s drawn into the life of the town and particularly the family next door. He begins to heal from the death of his wife, and he begins to write again.

That in itself would make for a great movie, but what sets this one apart is the dialogue. It’s elevated somehow. The characters sound like regular everyday people in one way, but in another way they construct their sentences to make them sound like poetry. Or maybe it’s more like music. Which is interesting, because music does play a big part in the movie. Charlotte plays her piano nightly, and in Monte’s mind, she’s talking to him through her music. For his part he talks to her through the children’s stories he writes for her youngest daughter. It’s a love story between Charlotte and Monte, but it’s also a love story between Monte and his life.

Finn, the second daughter, asks Monte to be her writing mentor. That helps Monte remember that imagination is, as he tells her, “…The most powerful force ever made available to human kind.” And what is an artist without their muse, and their work? They’re like Monte at the beginning of the movie, a broken down shell of a person who has closed up his imagination.

One of the reasons I love this movie, is because I could relate to Monte’s desire to shut off his feelings. I’m a very sensitive person, and sometimes when bad things happen, the flood of emotions are almost too much. At those times I’m tempted to shut down, and indulge in binge watching TV, or eating, or any number of other, acceptable addictions. Then a movie like this comes along, and I’m reminded that the cure for a wounded heart is to create something beautiful out of the pain.

I highly recommend The Magic of Belle Isle to anyone who has felt overwhelmed by life. I imagine that would be all of us living on this planet.

Butterfly Close up

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2014