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.

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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.

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

My Once and Future Passion?

I don’t think any of us really know where it is we’re going to wind up in life, but it’s certainly not where we think we will. When I was 18 I was sure I would be working on Broadway by the age of 25. Then I graduated. And again and again and again. Got married, had a child, moved several times, started various jobs, and…you get the idea. I never got to Broadway. At least not yet.

My relationship with Broadway has been a love/hate one over the years. When I was performing more, had more money to see shows, felt in some way connected to the NY theatre scene, I’ve taken more of an interest in its “doings.’ When I felt dispirited, broke, sick, or just plain didn’t like what I was finding, I would put my interest unconsciously away, just forgetting that it even existed for years at a time.

In 2014, after graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University with my Theatre MFA, I was full of excitement and hope about my prospects in the business. It didn’t last long. The job market wasn’t great (is it ever for the arts?) and I didn’t find my place in academia (again, at least not yet). I lost interest in Theatre, perhaps due to its lack of immediate interest in me, put my scripts and cast albums away, and turned my attention to my son, my family, my stable church gig, and the education of my students. Through all that time, I’ve felt incomplete somehow, but it somehow seemed in my best interest to turn my attention elsewhere. Cue the last few weeks…

Flower Drum Song

The 1961 movie of Flower Drum Song

For the last few weeks I’ve had a renewed interest in my old love, Broadway, especially musical theatre. I don’t know why it came on. It just did. It started with me deciding to watch Flower Drum Song, the last of the big Rodgers and Hammerstein successes that I was mostly unfamiliar with. That led me to listen to both its cast albums, and then turn my attention to the other lesser known scores of R and H: Allegro, Pipe Dream, and Me and Juliet. I’m currently reading the script for Pipe Dream and I’m sure the other two aren’t far behind. They’re in the pipe line so to speak.

As of this writing, Spotify has become my best friend. I’ve listened to cast albums that I’d never heard before from Brigadoon, The King and I, Pipe Dream, The Mystery of Edwin Drood. And I’ve turned my attention further back to the operettas that were never part of my education, but should have been: Babes in Toyland, The Student Prince, and The Desert Song. I’m learning a lot, and hearing a lot I’d never heard before. It’s frankly, thrilling.

Pipe Dream

City Center Encores sings Pipe Dream

I don’t know what brought it on. I don’t know where it’s going or where it will end. But for this moment, this “brief, shining moment” (now I have to listen to Camelot) it’s nice to be in a mental place where I can appreciate the music I once and always loved; the music of my childhood; the music my father and I especially shared. It’s like hearing from an old friend you’ve been mad at but can’t remember why.

Now please excuse me, I’ve got listening to do.

Musically Yours,

Jason

Brigadoon

Kelli O’Hara as Fiona in Brigadoon

Well, It’s Been Awhile Haiku – March 2019

For some reason I just needed to get these out today. I wrote many of these weeks and/or months ago, but they are no less relevant today. Life has been crazy, busy, tempestuous, frustrating, and (time permitting) joyous. A more thorough update/investigation of me and my family is warranted, (or at least a 4 page summary), but today these haiku will have to stand as testament to my mood. I hope they bring you comfort, inspiration, resilience, and motivation. Yeah, I’m working on it too.

Peace to you all.

Until next time,

Jason

Carefree and reckless;
How alive one must feel when
Running with scissors.

It’s all too easy
To repay low with low, but
High requires work.

Don’t give in to fear.
Real or manufactured, both
Should be met with love.

Some people lack both
Common sense and decency.
They are our crosses.

Who can you count on
To be there when it matters,
When it’s not easy?

 

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Nancy and I on a very cold camping trip in Prince William State Forest

Science and wisdom
Await our return from the
Lowlands of the Lie.

When someone hurts you,
Focus on healing yourself,
Not taking revenge.

Hare or tortoise? Choose.
Each offers advantages.
Me? I’m a tortoise.

 

 

 

Roll with the punches.
Take what life gives you gladly.
No, it’s not easy.

Let’s work together,
Build our ‘more perfect union’
On peace, love, and facts.

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Shadow says, “May you find time for this today.” And food. Lotsa food.

New Year, New Haiku (2019 Edition)

Dear Reader,

Happy New Year, 2019. It has been over 5 months since I connected with you. So much in my, and my family’s life, has changed. We live in a new house; we’re closer to our work; I have started a new job with the Stafford Regional Choral Society; Nancy is two chapter revisions away from defending her dissertation; John Adams is in Kindergarten; and there are many smaller, subtler changes and adjustments that have altered our lives since last writing. We are still packing and unpacking. We are still finding our footing in a new home. There has been less than a little time to be creative with the move, and then  into the holidays. But I am still here; we are still here. And I am still dedicated to my blog and my writing. So with that said, please enjoy these new haiku, written over the last few days; the first new writing I’ve done in awhile, and certainly the first writing I’ve done in 2019. Until, next time, thanks for reading, thanks for noticing me, and thanks for being a part of my life, online or other, in 2019.

Blessings, Bounty, and Bacon,

Jason

The New Year’s begun.
Will it bring big surprises,
Or more of the same?

We are our actions.
Inaction is an action,
A choice of no choice.

Character matters.
Your actions and words matter.
Children are watching.

Model behavior
You wish to come back to you,
For it will return.

We have adopted
A white lump of fat some say
Used to be a cat.

Shadow set to spin

The road up is hard.
The road down all too easy.
Which road are you on?

No resolution
Can survive January
Without discipline.

I love New Year’s Day:
We resolve, renewed, hopeful;
Tabula rasa.

A cool blast of change
Blows with a wintry crispness
Across our country.

 

Pray for each other.
Listen to each other.
Love one another.

The family on Christmas Eve, 2018

Last New Haiku in an Old Home

Well, here we are: less than ten days away from moving into a new home we are blessed to have been offered, but the sadness and nostalgia of the moment is competing with the excitement, challenge, and exhaustion of a major move; even one just across town to convenient Fredericksburg. Our little 9-room idyllic rancher in King George, VA has been mine and Nancy’s home for eight years. It was our first home together. While in it we became engaged, married, pregnant with John Adams, gave birth and raised him for almost five years. I received my MFA. She all but completed her doctorate. We adopted our beloved cats, Duke, Ceyde, and Shadow. We leave our hearts behind with Ivan, Scoutie, Kisaki, The Nix, and many, many fish. We have borne illnesses and celebrated Openings and successes. We have as many memories as the clutter that we seek to escape. Who knows what comes next. Hopefully, we are trading the good for the great, the inconvenient for the convenient, the isolation for community. Only time will tell. So much to do before and after the move. We are so truly excited. Well, excited and scared. Anyway, enjoy the haiku, draw strength or insight from them if you find them worthy, and we’ll talk soon.

Namaste and may your life be one of exciting change,

Jason

 

 4776
Most differences
Can disappear with the words,
“But I accept you.”

4777
Be reliable.
Be someone they can count on
Even when they’re not.

4779
Animals know us;
They perceive our fears and moods
In ways we can’t hide.

4780
Attention expands
Those things which we put it on.
Where is your focus?

4781
Meditate daily
On your unique perfection.
You’re like no other.

 

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First Forsythia of Spring

4782
In adversity
The most gorgeous flowers bloom.
Seek out mud puddles.

4783
I am perfect health.
I am perfect abundance.
I am perfect love.

4784
Why are you waiting?
With each passing year you age!
Take those risks right now.

 

4785
There’s only one way,
And that is the way forward.
There’s no going back.

4786
Seek the difference
Between opinion and fact,
Between spin and truth.

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Our home in King George, VA (2010-2018)

Haiku – Late May Musings – All is Perfect

The school year’s ending. Life is crazy busy as we all gear up for summer. Change is in the air. Pause and appreciate the accomplishments of the last few months, and of your place in the universal whole. Take a moment to glance through my haiku below, and remind yourself that you are perfect. All is as it should be. And as changes arise they too are part of the ever-evolving and expanding perfection of the universe. And remember…breathe.

Namaste,

Jason

 4763
Within or without,
The Source of All surrounds us.
We’re part of the Whole.

4764
There is only now.
Whatever you do with now
Defines the next now.

4765
Rejoice and be glad,
For God made you as you are,
Perfect and unique.

4766
Christians, Muslims, Jews,
Buddhists, Hindus, Confucians,
Taoists, Pagans, Love.

4767
I have a strong heart;
It beats in empathy for
Myself and others.

 

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Caledon riverscape

4769
When we help others
We reveal our best nature.
Service is godly.

4771
The mind’s eye sees all.
Though words can deceive the world,
Souls know only truth.

4773
Grasp infinity
With your warm, mortal tendrils,
Yearning to know both.

 

 

4774
Unclutter your soul.
Discard the broken pieces
Of the half-lived life.

4775
Love that which loves not.
Love that which knows only fear.
These are our burdens.

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“I can do anything!”

I’m Not a Pollyanna (I just play one on social media)

From time to time I get accused – usually lightly and by dear friends – of being a Pollyanna, i.e. in this case, a person who somewhat vacuously only sees the good in people and not the bad; a person removed from the news of the world, ignorant of the struggles of those around me; determined to believe that it will all work out for the best and as it should. My social media presence perhaps reflects this. I rarely ever post political comments, critiques, or articles, and I always make an attempt at posting in the realm of the positive: news and pics of my family, our adventures together, stories about John Adams’s latest verbal revelations, and lots and lots of positive quotes from varied sources. It is who I am, who I would like to be, and how I would like to be perceived. Some astute person once criticized Facebook for being everyone’s “highlight reel” and to some extent I must own that. I do try to showcase the best my family has to offer: the best pictures, stories, etc., and to minimize our woes. I don’t share personal failures, blurry or unflattering pics (like some family members), illnesses, and, generally speaking, personal or national, public misfortunes. I have my reasons for this and I’m happy to share those reasons with you. I’m glad you asked.

  1. For me, Facebook, Instagram, my blog, my twitter account, are records of my personal history. When I access them I want to see my smiling son, my beautiful wife, myself in periods of joy, quotes by great minds better than mine own that remind me of the value and purpose of living one’s best life. I want to read humorous stories I’d forgotten, personal and not, and, frankly, I want to be uplifted by accessing the record of my past. If that sounds selfish, well so be it. They’re my social media accounts, and I choose to record and read the ‘happy past’ not the ‘tragic present.’
  2. I have many people – friends and family – that are on all sides of the political spectrum. I love them all, not always equally and not at the same time, but I do nonetheless. 100% of the time I became friends with someone before knowing their politics, and at the end of the debate I would prefer to attempt to maintain a friendship across a political or social divide than just give up, unfriend, offend, or defend my rightness in any given situation. I am of course right in all my political opinions. Aren’t you? Of course you think you are. Wayne Dyer, my spiritual mentor, stated “Given the choice between being right and being kind, be kind.” So I have made my choice. I can be privately right, but publicly kind. And in case you think that’s easy, it’s not. It’s damn hard. But it might just preserve a friendship, keep a mind open to new ideas, and keep the dialogue going. And that’s worth more than righteousness.
  3. I also see many friends and family who post on the news of the day and get drawn in to needless arguments on social media that serve no purpose, change no minds, harm the integrity of all engaged, and ultimately contribute to a culture of hyper-partisan ugliness that seems to be the driver of the day. Rarely do I see people talking the high ground. Michelle Obama’s quote, “When they go low, we go high,” goes unheeded and falls largely on deaf, angry ears. Whether it’s twitter rants, Facebook wars, unseemly marcher signs, or what have you, few people want to model, most want to attack, and the big loser to our society is the children who see the adults behaving like toddlers and conclude that ‘when I grow up, I want to be just like that.’
  4. There is so much ugliness in the world, when people visit my sites/platforms etc. I want them to be able to take a break from it. To see smiling faces, great inspirational quotes, a dancing cow or two, and lots of love for the world. An oft referred to quote by me is Einstein’s, “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.” When people visit my sites I want the universe to be friendly, to be kind, to be receptive, and forgiving. I know where they’ve been and it’s anything but.

So that’s it. Believe me, I see the ugliness, the fear, the concern, the corruption, the manipulation, the greed, the ignorance, the evil. I’m concerned for my wife, my child, for all our children’s safeties and futures; for the stranger who needs a leg up, the adult who can’t afford healthcare, the environment, public education, PBS, animal welfare, the National Park Service, the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, the minimum wage, women’s rights, income inequality, gerrymandering, and the list goes on.

I see it all. I feel it all. I just choose to not make Facebook my private daily battleground or all my views public. In the days before social media, we were taught never discuss religion or politics. Now we discuss nothing else. Perhaps we could use a little old world wisdom and Aristotelian moderation now and then.

I don’t promise to never express a partisan opinion. But generally speaking, I’d rather lift up than tear down; elevate than agitate; raise up not run down.

We need more love in the world, and I’m just trying to do my part.

I hope this finds you well.

Namaste,

Jason

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Why I get up each day.

Late March Haiku/Such a Long Week!

This week was a long, LONG week! On Friday, Nancy and I drove to her parents home outside of Philly and had dinner. On Saturday, Nancy and I went to our 15th consecutive Philadelphia Flower Show to celebrate our First Date Anniversary.

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Me and a Flower Show cow

On Sunday, I drove to Stafford, VA to conduct a three-hour rehearsal for the choir of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. On Monday, I went to the First Dress Rehearsal for Hunchback. On Tuesday, I had unsuccessful blood work done, taught lessons, and went to the Final Dress Rehearsal of Hunchback. (Hunchback opened successfully on Weds at the Riverside Center for the Performing Arts in Fredericksburg and I’m very proud of all the choir’s hard work and our involvement in the production, but I wasn’t in attendance.) On Weds., I had successful blood work done, a doctor’s appointment, taught piano, and conducted two handbell rehearsals. On Thursday, I taught voice and took our cat, Duke, for enema surgery to remove the impacted feces from his swollen colon. On Friday, Nancy and I went to Black Panther. On Saturday, I received the lab results from the blood draw, which were fine, but a stressful wait, and then I drove to the West Virginia border to perform in a murder mystery with Murder Mysteries Will Travel. Sunday morning, my Adult Choir performed two pieces and then Nancy and I drove to Baltimore to have dinner with my in-laws and collect my wayward, vacationing son.We drove home Sunday night and I pretty much collapsed.

It’s Monday and I’m exhausted. But if I could do all that, surely you can do anything.

Enjoy the haiku and hopefully I’ll essay again soon.

Namaste,

Jason

4720
No life is perfect.
Handling the imperfections
Defines character.

4721
You have the power.
You can make a difference.
You can change the world.

4722
Wake up each morning
Determined to make the world
A little better.

4723
Being a success
Starts with a good attitude.
This is no secret.

4724
Make a difference.
I can’t tell you what or how.
That’s yours to decide.

4725
How can you deny
The interconnectedness
Of all existence?

4727
Time’s always fleeting.
So many untraveled roads.
Make quick, wise choices.

4728
Live in gratitude.
Whatever you possess you
Could always have less.

4729
In every way
Take responsibility
For your life and health.

4730
Just hold your head high,
Forgive them their trespasses,
And keep on smiling.

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Rows of spring flowers – my favorites – at the Flower Show