About aggedor3

I am a forty-eight year old actor, director, music director, composer, and poet, with interests in Music, Theatre, Poetry, History, Psychology, Myth, and Spirituality. I was born in Reading, PA, but currently reside in Fredericksburg, VA with my wife Nancy, son John Adams, and our assortment of cats. I have self-published two books of haiku and two children's books, the links for which are on my Amazon Author Page below, and I regularly write choral and hand bell music - sacred and secular - for the Unitarian Universalist fellowship where both myself and my wife are employed.

Christmas in July Haiku

I have to remain creative. This summer is so much about absorbing what’s out there, rather than creating anew. With all my primary summer creative projects cancelled, it’s a ‘caretaker’ summer, managing what is rather than making what isn’t. My haiku at least let me express daily a small measure of my feelings. So here are some more from the backlog. These are the last of 2019, before the plague, before the shutdown, before the world changed. I hope their simple messages give you joy or comfort, whatever you need most right now. I’ll be back again soon. Until then, stay safe, wash your hands, wear your mask, and make whatever lemonade you can from the lemons of your life.

Wishing you well,

Jason

12/29/19
5286
Let come what will come
And respond accordingly
As the night to day.

12/31/19
5288
How shall we proceed?
What shall we prioritize,
And what abandon?

1/5/20
5290
You must find your way
Back to a more powerful place
Where love can flourish.

1/6/20
5291
I know you’re nervous.
Trust that you’ve got what it takes
To be successful.

1/8/20
5293
We shall do our best,
And only we determine
What that best shall be.

IMG_2415

The family on an outing this summer.

1/9/20
5294
Gradually calm.
One breath at a time. In. Out.
Rest in the moment.

1/13/20
5295
What’s most important
Is that you never give up.
Small breaks are okay.

 

 

 

1/24/20
5296
Connect with old friends.
What a joy to catch up and
Fondly reminisce.

1/25/20
5297
All work and no play…?
All work and no play makes one…?
Can’t think now; must work.

1/26/20
5298
When will my life change?
Spun wheels for so long and now
Not getting younger.

1/27/20
5299
Who is this old man
Renting space in my body?
Aren’t I still twelve?

1/28/20
5300
Intimidation:
How easily it happens.
A loud voice conquers.

IMG_2445

A sloth at the Richmond Metro Zoo, the embodiment of the socially distanced Summer 2020

Some Calming Haiku

In case you need them, with everything going on in the world today, here are some, hopefully calming, or inspirational, or empowering haiku for you to de-stress with for two minutes. I wish you peace and safety.

Namaste,

Jason

12/5/19
5272
Do what must be done,
And start with the big things first.
Don’t save them for last.

12/6/19
5273
Do not let people
Determine your destiny
Without your consent.

12/7/19
5274
Learn to both control
And let go at the same time.
This is proper balance.

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Proper balance illustrated

12/8/19
5275
May today be grand;
May it be successful and
Inspirational.

12/11/19
5277
May today be calm.
May today be productive.
May today bring love.

 

 

 

12/16/19
5279
What a busy week!
Not even enough time to
Write a few haiku.

12/17/19
5280
Let me be the man
I know Pop tried to be and
My son thinks I am.

12/21/19
5282
How are you feeling?
Can you take time to relax,
To just be present?

IMG_2380

A lone Great Blue Heron fishing at York River State Park

 

A Helping of Haiku

Ah, Friday, the end of the week. I get to sit down and have a few minutes to myself to collect my thoughts and do what I want. It really is nice to have the time to sift through the backlog of haiku on my legal pad and transcribe them onto the computer. We all know the world’s a mess and we’re all basically in hiding or in search of toilet paper. So with that said, I really appreciate all of you who take the time to read my blog, both my haiku posts and the other stories or anecdotal posts I share. So here’s the latest installment all the way back from around Thanksgiving. Again, as I’ve said before, they feel like they could’ve been written this week. If you enjoy them, ‘like’ the post or drop me a note and let me know. And as always, stay safe, wash your hands and, (and I don’t believe I have to say this,) don’t ingest any detergent or cleansing agents this week. In the words of Sancho Panza, “Whether the stone hits the pitcher, or the pitcher hits the stone, it’ll be bad for the pitcher.” Be well.

Namaste,

Jason

11/17/19
5259
Grant me grace today.
In all things I say and do,
Embody Your grace.

11/18/19
5260
Help me to forgive;
Aspersions and transgressions,
Make them all as dust.

11/19/19
5261
What is a life worth?
Who gets to assess value?
God, me, committee?

11/20/19
5262
Help me through the day.
Help me to find the courage
To say “yes” to life.

11/21/19
5263
Your life is your life.
Make of it what you would make.
Design it your way.

IMG_2248 (2)

Someone likes the back deck

 

11/22/19
5264
Get it together!
Put your attention where it
Really needs to be.

11/24/19
5266
Can good come from bad?
Is it acceptable to
Praise the light cum dark?

 

 

 

11/25/19
5267
Good people fall down.
It’s our job to forgive them
And help them to stand.

11/29/19
5268
What are your ethics?
Can they be purchased for bread?
Are they set in stone?

12/2/19
5269
How sad it is that
Some people only thrive by
Tearing others down.

12/3/19
5270
A much needed rest
Is just around the corner.
You’ve almost made it.

12/4/19
5271
If you want to win
Keep your battle plan private
And your charm public.

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I love pink flowering dogwoods, don’t you?

A ‘Mary’ Ride with Polio

On April 12 I posted a quote from Franklin Delano Roosevelt to my Facebook account. For those that don’t know, Roosevelt, or FDR, died on April 12, 1945. I tend to honor his “death day” every year as he is personal hero. FDR, it was thought until recently where it’s become something of a debate, was stricken with polio or infantile paralysis in early mid-life and lived the remainder of his life in heavy braces or a wheelchair. What I did not know until this year (thanks Wikipedia) is that Jonas Salk’s treatment for polio was deemed ‘safe and effective’ on April 12, 1955, ten years to the day after FDR passed. At this moment, we live in a world of quarantine, where plague stalks the land, social distancing is the norm, and there is, to date, no certain cure or vaccine for the dreaded Coronavirus that floods our news day and haunts our nightmares. We also live in a world of misinformation, both accidental and intentional, where once thought of common sense practices like vaccinations are hotly contested, and everyone  seems to have a polarized opinion, whether well-informed or not. It makes me wonder what FDR would think of our current crisis. It makes me wonder whether he would have welcomed Salk’s vaccine or eyed it skeptically and dismissively. Sorry, just kidding. I have no doubt, given FDR’s documented struggle with his illness that he would have welcomed and preferred a cure, any cure to being wheelchair bound. Still, his struggle, inching toward a century old, feels like something from the murky past that we can’t touch. Polio is gone and feels almost mythic now doesn’t it? Except when I was growing up I witnessed its effects firsthand.

FDR in braces

FDR in braces

Her name was Mary, and she was one of my Nana’s bingo buddies. In the 1970s from around when I was six to ten years old, Mary, along with a motley assortment of other ‘golden girls’ would pull up in front of my house and whisk my grandmother and I away in a beat up Nova whose color can only be described as vomited forth avocado that someone mixed with glitter. The interior was maroon and torn, the backseat had no seatbelts (safety? Psshaw!), pick up was choppy, and the weight of the car sagged it toward the ground like an overburdened tank. In the back were variously me and my Nana, and Ethel, a woman who looked like her name sounds and who famously if absentmindedly ate plastic fork tines without realizing; and Alice, a red-haired raincloud whose language was loud and salty, and who vaguely resembled Heat Miser. Bertha, the kindly heart of the bunch rode shotgun, except when she drove the group in her own midnight blue Nova. I don’t know what was with the Novas back then; it was a thing. In the driver’s seat was Mary, a pistol of a woman who barely stood 5 feet tall. Mary’s legs were bowed way out and then turned back in on themselves, the result of the aforementioned polio. When she stood and walked she was bowlegged in the extreme and relied on a multi-footed black cane that made the macadam tremble when she lowered its boom. She was kindly, but her face bore the scars of a lifetime of struggling with affliction. At her age she sported what we used to call a ‘bread and butter’ perm. The total effect was one of a stooped, scowling, scrawny wishbone staggering quickly if determinedly towards you wearing a Q-tip on its head. As a driver, looking back she was no less terrifying. Her legs bent in as she sat, the side of one foot worked the brake, the side of the other worked the clutch, and she drove one-handed so she could pound the cane down to slam the accelerator into action. Every week, several nights a week in fact, we took our lives in our hands with her as we drove to bingo halls in Lebanon, Womelsdorf, Robesonia, and Myerstown, PA. We always arrived, though I confess I smashed my face more than a few times into the front seats in an effort to not fly through the windshield. It was the 1970s; that was considered a successful trip. Minor concussions were the price of flight.

It might sound like I’m making fun of Mary, but I promise I’m not. Quite the contrary. I look back on my time in that car, with those gals and my Nana as some of the most happiest of times. I think on Mary, especially of late, and all I see is admiration. This woman had lived a life of struggle and disfigurement, and she was unstoppable. She had lived to see her illness cured, thought eradicated, in those that came after her, but had to live with the knowledge that it had just been too late for her. To my knowledge Mary had married and been widowed, had worked in a factory and retired. She had done it all, and done it with polio; done it with grit, determination, and a cranky perseverance.  What a tough broad. When my Nana died in 1981 my excursions with the gals ended. No more bingo halls, no more Mary. There’s no question in my mind that she’s long dead; doing donuts in the New Jerusalem strip mall parking lot with St. Michael nervously smiling on.

I see people nowadays questioning the best available science. They thwart social-distancing, risk the lives of others with their erratic and self-serving behavior, and just rebelliously want to lead their “normal” public lives regardless of costs to themselves or others. I’m picking on no one in particular here; from ‘millennials’ on a Florida beach to picketers by a Michigan courthouse the mantra is always the same: I know better, I’ll do what I want, I don’t care who I hurt. Me is more important than we.

I wonder how some of these folks would react if they could see a lifetime’s lasting effects  from an illness for which there is (or was at the time) no cure play out on a loved one. Maybe they have, but missed the lesson. I wonder if they could learn to trust science and scientists, medicine and doctors, or would they still know better? I wish no one ill, but I can wish them wisdom. I had Mary. She was a good teacher. I count myself lucky.

Mary was a small, but significant part of my life. She is a window for me into a world long gone but one which could resurface if we don’t learn from the past. She was tough and unlimited. And she drove the country roads like Andretti after a few stiff ones.

I’m glad I knew her. I’m glad I could learn from her.

Thanks, Mary! On the ride of my lifetime, I’m glad you were in my pit crew.

Peace and Pennzoil,

Jason

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Not Mary’s car, but a good approximation, minus the sparkles

April in corona-time haiku

Hello All,

Here’s a second helping of haiku from the vault of the last few months. I will say that being home all the time does allow me to transcribe my haiku from the legal pads faster than when the world is running normally, whatever that means. On a personal note, I’m still kind of surprised that some of the haiku, that were written in this case in November of 2019, feel like they’re talking to today, right now. I don’t often get a chance to go back and read what I wrote “back then,” so it’s a bit of a discovery or rediscovery all around. I’ve left the dates in this time so you can see when they were written. And please note, there’s one piece of profanity. It happens. Sorry. Anyway, please while you read these, stay safe, stay in, and wash your hands. And as always, thanks for reading and if something strikes your fancy consider letting me know.

Peace and good health,

Jason

 11/2/19
5244
Nothing is certain;
Tomorrow you could die or
Get a tax refund.

11/3/19
5245
Sometimes you have to
Back off, cut your losses, and
Just not give a shit.

11/7/19
5249
Try to remain calm.
Take a deep breath and be still.
You can get through this.

11/8/19
5250
We have only now
To make our diff’rence; live, love,
Leave our legacy.

IMG_2226

Shadow says, “Practice social distancing,” even in a cabinet.

11/9/19
5251
Whatever happens
Keep it all in perspective
And just keep moving.

11/10/19
5252
Remember you have
A responsibility
To optimism.

11/12/19
5254
You just never know
When opportunity will
Decide to come knock.

11/14/19
5256
Grant me, O Lord, peace,
Health, wisdom, understanding,
Patience, discernment.

11/15/19
5257
Ruthlessly protect
All those that come to you for
Assistance and love.

IMG_2243 (2)

Just a boy out walking his cat on the beginning of the adventure of a lifetime.

I’m Still Here Haiku

Well, there’s no question it’s been more than a long time since I wrote anything on my blog. And even with that said, I’ll save writing about what I’ve been up to, my family, the Coronavirus, and all that stuff for another day. Truth is, with all this working from home I have a little more time to do stuff like this, so hopefully you have a moment to read these little guys. Full disclosure, these haiku were written back in October of 2019, but as I was reading over them to select which to include in my post, some of them appeared almost eerily prescient or at the very least far too .timely. Anyway, enjoy, thanks for reading and wash your hands. I wish you peace and good health.

Namaste,

Jason

5230
It’s hard to stay sane
In a world gone truly mad,
Where nothing’s normal.

5231
There will come a day
When the nations of the world
Unify in love.

5232
How shall we proceed,
In anger and bitterness
Or forgiveness?

5233
That which flourishes
Will diminish tomorrow
While we ride the waves.

5234
Que sera sera
Is such a Buddhist notion.
What will be will be.

IMG_2217

Here is our kitten, Ickasik, (Icky for short) demonstrating social distancing by taking up all available room on the bed.

5235
Don’t let them make you
Dream any size less than big.
Small is not enough.

5237
Don’t give up the ship!
Plug the leak and head for shore.
You’re unsinkable.

5238
Be magnanimous.
Kindness, forgiveness, and grace;
That’s what it’s about.

5239
Just once I’d like to
Be like my cat: no worries,
Sleeping in a sink.

5241
We have yet to fight,
Live, love, prosper, grow, transform
To our potential.

IMG_2220 (2)

Here is Quicktop assisting me in getting fresh air into the house and any germs out by falling asleep in the open window for five hours. He and his sister are very helpful.

Haiku for an uplift

Well, it’s been a week. (I seem to say that a lot.) And that means writing haiku to bolster my spirits. I’ve been working seven days a week (doesn’t everybody nowadays?), celebrated a wedding anniversary, marked the 89th birthday of my father who crossed over 19 years ago, and just tried all manner of strategies to keep my head above water. So here you go! If these little guys bring you any peace, comfort, or joy, I’ve done my job for another week. May you be calm and blessed.

Namaste,

Jason

5216
Let today be a
Peace, Love, Light, Healthy, Happy,
Groovy kind of day.

5217
Who you choose to be
Is entirely your call;
Not a group project.

5218
We become our thoughts;
Our thoughts become our actions;
Actions, character.

5220
I brake for flowers,
Good food, sunrises, rainbows,
Slow turtles, and cats.

5221
Dance the cosmic dance,
Making up the words and moves
As you go along.

72344224_10219120111608225_2865377767849984000_n

The Tao of Kittens

5222
There are some people,
No matter how hard you try,
You’ll just never please.

5223
Mother used to say,
“Some people just won’t like you.
You mustn’t sweat it.”

 

 

 

 

5226
Seek help if needed.
Don’t suffer in silence while
Putting up a front.

5227
Live today today.
Put yesterday behind you
And tomorrow off.

5228
Try to breathe today.
Don’t let the grind get to you.
Hold to your stillness.

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Scary Halloween faces

This Week in Haiku

I find that I’m writing again. One haiku a day; but one is better than none. There’s been a lot of stress in my life these last few weeks, and I know it comes out in my writing. But my focus is still primarily inspirational/motivational, even if sometimes the voice is pushing from a place of frustration. Either way, the weather is beautiful today, and it’s Monday, and the week is filled with possibilities. So enjoy, thanks for reading, and I wish you a stress-free, productive week.

Namaste,

Jason

Hopes and fears and dreams,
Endlessly intertwined, each
Craving attention.

Open your heart to
Reveal compassion bursting
Forth like a rocket.

For your sanity
There have to be days when you
Say “no” and mean “no.”

Always be prepared,
For people will let you down.
So just be ready.

You need to let go
Of the bullshit in your past
And focus on NOW.

 

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You can’t fix stupid.
You can’t motivate lazy.
You can’t turn back time.

Know that there are times
When the best thing you can do
Is just walk away.

I’ve always dreamt big,
But I now find small actions
Are the way to go.

 

 

There will always be
A new battle to win and
A new hill to climb.

I am not perfect.
I strive for perfection, but
I miss the mark often.

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John Adams wishes you all a Two Thumbs Up kinda day.

Don’t Dream. Do. A Sonnet for You

It’s been awhile since I wrote a sonnet. I’ve only written 20 or less in my whole life. But I do like the art form, and lately I’m trying to flex both my artistic and creative writing muscles, so here goes! I hope you enjoy it. If it is imperfect, its message, at least, is sincerely intended.

Peace,

Jason

 Don’t Dream. Do!
By Jason J. Michael

A dream is but a dream until you act.
The act of dreaming never made one true.
For dreaming’s but the start of “false to fact.”
A path that’s tracked, compact, from dream to do.

Too many, meek and mild, suppose to sit,
As if the sitting is the act itself,
And while away the hours in a fit,
While more constructive measures stay the shelf.

So please take heed, you need to hear me now:
A dream’s but the beginning of the quest.
Yes, dream, but steam ahead to “when and how,”
For dreams are naught but air till pressed to test.

And if this formula is followed through,
I can but hope for you your dreams come true.

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May your day be filled with beautiful flowers.

The “Best” Dad in the World

My son, John Adams, makes us art all the time. ALL. THE. TIME. He just turned six. We get pictures of trees, flowers, rocks, birds, us, him, our families. You get the idea. It’s all somewhere between beautiful, heartfelt scribble, what is it?, and “now what the hell do I do with this?” We put some on the fridge. We lay away a lot in a box. We get overrun and start the process over. It is quite simply one of the joyous-griefs of parenting.

Recently, I reached for my yellow legal pad and realized I had inserted two of his more current drawings between the pages. I’m certain I did it in a moment of unconscious decluttering desperation. This time I stopped and looked at the pictures. The first picture was a lopsided heart with the inscription, “You are the best dad ever.” The second picture is of him and me walking outside on a sunny day with the words “Dad” and “Beeny” variously strewn about the page. I call him Beanie Bug at home or Beanie for short.  I really looked at his work this time, what he wrote, how he meant it. And I felt loved. And sad. Beanie Art20001

I’m not the best dad. I love him. I care for him often. I am usually the first face he sees in the morning and the second to last face before bedtime. I feed him, clothe him, and shuttle him back and forth to school. And he is with me for almost all of my work commitments. But I do frustrate easily at his unceasing chatter, his imperious self-righteousness, his inability to do for himself, his laziness, his petulance. And I let him know it, often, and in no uncertain terms. “You’re six, long hair. Get a job!”

Beanie Art10001

And yet, he still loves me. I’m the best dad ever. At least, in his eyes, on that day, at that moment. And he drew me a picture to tell me so. I couldn’t love him more, and I am unworthy.

So to all the rest of you out there, in the spirit of Paying it Forward, if you are feeling down about yourself, feeling unworthy of love, here’s some affirmations from our family vernacular to you, to lift your spirits a bit; to remind you that you are worthy of love and affection, even when you’re not meeting your own standard.

You are:

The best piece of chicken…

The longest game of UNO…

The warmest, fuzziest blanket…

The funniest animal video on YouTube…

The last lick of a Tootsie Pop, right before the chewy center, when the candy and Tootsie Roll are blended in your mouth just right…

The bestest hug…

The mightiest superhero…

The softest fur on the friendliest cat…

The kindest face when I first open my eyes in the morning…

And, of course, you are:

Bacon

 

Love and Hugs from the “best” dad,

Jason

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Beanie and I at the Caledon Butterfly release