Tuesday, 30 November 2010


It’s been a while since I’ve put my thoughts on this site because I’ve been going through transition, maybe more than one and sometimes simultaneously. Without using a Webster’s Dictionary which I don’t have at this time, transition is the process of moving from one “place to another” or one state of being to another state of being. Transition can be internal and external, and we experience it often, even when we’re not aware. The elementary word or synonym for transition is “change”, but I didn’t want to talk elementary dear Watson. J

While walking home from the train station recently one evening, I noticed that the sidewalk was covered with wet leaves and I had to walk carefully so as not to slip and fall. Yet I took the time to glance upward at the trees to see that many of them had only NOT dropped their leaves, but some of the leaves were still green, and to top it all off, it had begun to snow. As I continued my journey homeward I came out of the forest of leaves onto dry and cleaner sidewalks, so I looked up and saw that the surrounding trees were bare. After the trees had dropped all their leaves the street cleaners came and cleared them away. And this thought came to me: “transition can sometimes be messy.”

I want to say we all “love” change, but that’s just not so. First of all it depends on what is being changed – are we being promoted or demoted? Are we receiving a raise or a salary cut? Are we mourning the death of a loved one or celebrating the birth of a new one? Did we just pay off our house note or has our home been repossessed? You see what I mean about change? We don’t all love change and we don’t love all changes. LOL! And I don’t think we’re supposed to, but because going through transition is unavoidable as a living, breathing, human being, we must decide that we will learn to go and grow with the flow, and that we will bend and not break when strong, and sometimes adverse winds blow.

Maybe another way to say it is we all want the positive end result of a period of transition, but the process itself, the getting there, the voyage, the transformation, etc. we would rather do without. Are we there yet? But it is in the voyage that we get to see things we would never see, about ourselves, about others, about our environment, etc. There is education in transition if we are willing, and attentive students. As I walked through those leaves I had the thought which came through a conversation I had with an American brother a few weeks ago. I thought to myself “be careful not only how you walk, but WHERE you walk. Try to walk only on the flat leaves and not the high ones or bumpy ones because you don’t know what’s underneath them.” Oooh yuck!!

My brother-friend quoted a ridiculous but true statistic of people in France who go to the doctor because they slip and fall on dog chips which owners fail to remove out of the way. This thought just made me cringe not only because of the fractures and broken bones and possible concussions, but those who landed in the poop and not just slipped and fell because of it. What a gruesome thought I know, but for those people it is a reality and has taken them through changes they did not plan. Can you imagine someone’s life being totally changed because of an unnecessary fall and maybe they are a dancer, or skater, or an athlete? Or even an elderly person who was doing just fine and then to have their last years of life turned completely upside down? Their frame of mind, how they deal with adversities will determine how they move from that poopy situation. I know, not all change is negative and thank God so let’s move on from here to a cleaner spot. J

I have found that it’s not enough to know I must change, but I must have a new frame of reference, otherwise transitioning will not only be like a boat without a compass, but a captain asking the question “where are we going anyway?” How can a house be built without a blueprint, or anything else for that matter? How can I go from here to there when I don’t know where “there” is? And once I get “there” what will I do? Am I prepared? Change just for the sake of change is just as bad as remaining stagnant. Movement without direction can be just as bad as no movement at all. Transitions can be messy, but they should have some direction.

Even in this blog message I don’t feel like I’m transitioning very well from one thought to the other because sometimes life is like that. Transitions aren’t always smooth and they don’t always make sense to our audiences, let alone to ourselves, the ones going through it. LOL!! Anyhoooo, but we keep on living and keep on learning and it is in the living and learning that we see and hear what we need to see and hear to make the necessary changes in our lives. Maybe I’m speaking elementary after all and you’ve graduated from this level, but I find that no matter how many years of school I’ve completed, I still had to use my basic ABC’s to create words and sentences. J

So what have I learned through all the transitions I’ve experienced in this year alone? And there have been so many, especially internally. First of all, successful transitions for me came because I wanted to change, because I knew I needed to change something somewhere in my life. This knowledge gave me the fuel and engine I needed to press through the challenges and negatives I experienced, but wasn’t warned about, as I traversed through the process of changing. We ask the question sometimes, “how bad do you want it?” There is something I want very much, but Holy Spirit has revealed to me I must change inside – mindsets, beliefs, defense mechanisms, etc. No matter how rocky the transition it is always successful when it brings us to the “other side”. Second, even though many times it felt like I was stuck, someone would remind me that I was just “passing through”, like going through a tunnel. It may be long and narrow and dark, but you cannot stay in there. You must keep moving until you exit the other end. Transition is like a tunnel – a thru-way. J But sometimes we feel like we’re stuck because it seems to take so long, or we experience the discomfort of a narrow bottle neck and we cannot squeeze through – forward or backward. Hmmm, transition can be an uncomfortable place, and I believe it is designed to be that way so we will keep moving and won’t build houses and such, on a thru-way. Third, I had a hope deep inside of a “different life”, something new, something I’ve never done, but only dreamed of doing. This “dream” would also feed my engine for moving forward with the internal transitioning of my soul for the external changes that could only be performed by the “new” me. Transition can be a place of hope and new vision, even in the dark. Fourth, no matter how transition comes or how it starts, on purpose or by “accident”, it is always for a reason. The challenge is to find out what the reason is and how to change to rise to the occasion. Hmmmm again, transition can be challenging, but challenges are the spice and spices of life. J I like cinnamon best myself.

I know that on the other side of this night is another day which holds events I’m prepared for, and incidents I won’t expect to encounter. All I can pray is for the joy, peace, serenity, tranquility and wisdom of how to deal with the unexpected challenges of life which may direct my life into another necessary transition. I pray for the temerity and dexterity to bend and not break, to bounce back stronger and still with a heart of love for myself and for others. I pray that my faith won’t fail me and that I won’t give up just because I cannot see my way, or I have no idea which way to take. I pray that I will have the patience to wait for the still small voice of the Lord to guide me and say “walk this way”. I pray that I will come through trusting God more than when I first entered the tunnel. I pray that I will lay me down and sleep in peace for I know my soul God doth keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. Transition can be heavenly.


Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Bridge Groom

I was writing in my journal as I usually do J and because my train of thought was interrupted for a millisecond I ran my eyes back over sentences I had previously written. By doing so I ran across a word I’d never before seen or written and it was “Bridge Groom”. Hmmm, I thought, what a “new” concept. “What in the world was I writing about?” is the question I can see in the wheels of thoughts turning in your head with excitement and wonder. (Beweave me, it pays to proofread your stuff!!) And somehow you knew I would not leave you floundering in suspense too long. Anyhooo, I was writing about a famous man who was a religious activist much like Martin Luther King Jr. and others like him. You know the ones who are ministers and preachers, but as they cry out against injustice they become political too, by default. And as a matter of fact this man, let’s call him JB for short, and to protect the "innocent" :->, said about himself “I’m not the Star of the show. I’m just His Ed McMahon”. Heeeeeeere’s JOHNNY!!!

His public career lasted a good one to two years and then he was incarcerated because somebody in authority ignored the “freedom of speech” clause in the declaration of independence. My mind was really on other things, but he came into my thoughts because he said “I’m not the Bridge Groom, just His friend.” Oh forgive me, I meant to say "Bride Groom." As I thought about this statement I realized that this man wasn’t trying to take the bride away from his friend. He was doing what a “best man” does: makes sure there is plenty of wine and that it is on time, and the reception hall is booked and paid for in advance. The best man also makes sure all the groomsmen have their outfits and that they arrive on time for the wedding rehearsal and dinner, and the wedding of course. He also is the liaison between the bride and groom by way of the maid and matron of honor, during the bride’s “hideaway” time from the groom. Depending on the wealth of the families coming together, there may be other things the best man is responsible for too, but most of all to attend or tend (comme tu veut) to the groom – making sure he’s dressed well, has the ring for the bride, making sure he’s on time and helping with his parents as well so he doesn’t have to worry about them. You get the picture. A true best man doesn’t just come along for the ride, party and glory. He is a servant to the Bridge, I mean the Bride Groom. Sorry about that continual typo. Just seems to keep popping up on my keyboard like that.

This JB really did his job well and too well for he was executed shortly after incarceration, and without a trial, public or private. Now that’s just not American, at least not in our times, even though we know that our American history is full of stories just like this one. Our current freedoms and laws were won and established on the backs and lives of many JBs: those who spoke out for justice and righteousness, those who died to their own egos and put before themselves Someone else “greater” than themselves; those who sacrificed their lives for the betterment of the many and the few, and never received their “reward” while breathing on this side of a tombstone.

Yet about this particular JB, Jesus the Christ said “there is no other person greater in the past - among those born of women" (up until that time), greater than JB – John the Baptist” (the baptizer). Luke 28:7 (Amplified) And we know Who IS the greatest after JB. So no matter how great people are, think they are, or others think they are, we might as well just stop trying because Jesus said that JB set the standard for greatness. His best man. Why? Well I think it’s due to several things, but this one sticks out to me the most: JB didn’t try to be the Bride Groom. He didn’t try to be the center of attention or the top dog. He didn’t try to usurp the affections of the Bride away from the Bride Groom, Who is Jesus the Christ. Hmmmm. He did the foot work for the groom.

Think about it for a minute. You’re about to be married. You’ve announced your engagement and you’ve asked your best friend to be your best man (or maid/matron of honor). But as time goes on, your friend begins spending more time with your fiancé than normal. Calling her/him, visiting, sending cards, text messages, flowers and candy, but not from you. Hmmmm something ain’t right in Beverly Hills. Then your fiancé begins acting differently with you. He/she becomes more distant and aloof, has nothing to talk about like before, or is always talking about your best friend and not you. Hmmmm. Something ain’t right in Tokyo either.

You see, John the Baptist, aka JB understood not only his place, but how important to his best friend (and cousin by the way) was the Bride. He knew he was only a Bridge for he introduced His best friend to the one He was going to marry! He never got between them. He just kept talking to them about each other, building them up in each other’s eyes and affections. He knew how in love with the Bride his cousin was BEFORE they ever met and he was determined to help them come together. The bride’s name is THE CHURCH. J Not a bunch of buildings or organizations trying to raise money for human empires, but the living, breathing organism of people – you and me, we who have received Jesus the Christ into our lives as our Savior and who have in turn given our lives to Him as love-slaves. Mary adored Him so much (in a pure way) that she washed His dirty, dusty feet with her tears, perfume and hair. Come on!! There’s got to be something special about this Man that makes you want to do that. The apostle John loved him so much, closer than his own brothers that he dared to recline on his lap (and risked being called gay by our generation) for he didn’t want to miss a heartbeat or the words coming from his mouth. That was some powerful love between men that had nothing to do with sex. It was all true spiritual love that saw beyond the flesh into the heart of God for something powerful on the earth for people – the ones He loved and continues to love today. You and me.

Jesus in the flesh was a man’s man – the epitome of manhood with his identity intact, no gender confusion issues here. Jesus in the flesh was also the perfect gentleman for every woman, no matter her background. He never embarrassed, abused or rejected them in public or in private, even though other men did. He was not afraid of private conferences with women and keeping their reputations unsoiled. As a matter of fact He was into restoring their bad reputations. Wow, what woman wouldn’t want to fall in love with a man who has spent time with Jesus and allowed Him to transform his personality to be like that? Or what man wouldn’t want a woman who has been touched and transformed by the character of Jesus the Christ and helped her be healed of her other men and “mommy and daddy issues”?

Now what I see is that His Bride is preparing for the wedding, but she’s not quite ready. Her “dress” has “stains and wrinkles” and needs to go to the “cleaners”. Also, there are many others vying for her attention, trying to take her away from the Bride Groom. They don’t want her to be ready for Him, yet they’re not in love with her, not really. They don’t want to love and care for her, they just want to use her for their own purposes - money, gifts, talents, anointing etc. The problem is they cannot see this in themselves for they think they’re doing the Bride Groom a favor. But they’re not. They’re modern day Pharisees, Sadducees and Lawyers, Priests and such with their own agendas and unresolved “mommy and daddy” and other issues going on, and they’re using their talents, time, positions, money and other resources to draw the Bride unto themselves. They think they’re pointing the Bride to her Beloved just because they use His name in their songs, sermons, and church names, but when it comes down to it, when you spend time with the Bride – the people – you see how far away from their Lover they’ve been drawn, enticed and lied to.

True leaders in THE CHURCH who are true best friends of the Bride Groom, no matter how gifted, or rich, or pretty, handsome, charismatic etc. you/we are, will not try to take the Bride away from the Bride Groom. We will not use our songs and dance, our programs and educations, titles and positions, etc. to lure her away from the One Who died for her. You are the church. I am the church. WE are the church! We are not the Savior, we’re just sisters and brothers and we need to understand our place and the GIFT of responsibility with which we’ve been entrusted to point each other to the Bride Groom. We are the BridGe Groom. J When people cross over, what and who will they meet on the other side?

“Like a bridge over troubled waters, I will lay me down.”


Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Home Is Where the Heart Is

Several years ago renowned psychologist and author Dr. James Dobson wrote a book titled “Turn Your Heart Towards Home”. I believe I quoted it correctly. If I can recall well, in the book he admonishes parents, and really people in general to return to what is most important in life, and that is family. He demonstrates through scripture, science, and his years as a counselor, husband and parent that the home is not only the foundation of the family, but of society, and when neglected the entire world suffers and manifests this neglect, one person at a time, but simultaneously.

I’ve been blessed to be born into a very large family and to have cousins galore, some I have yet to meet, but who have contacted me through Facebook. Wow! J I also have yet to be blessed to have a family of my own, something that is very important to me and the desire for which nearly consumed me several years ago. Raising children is not easy. It’s not supposed to be. Neither is being a parent or a child, but we’ve been given the blessing, responsibility and power, desire and drive to propagate the human race through families and within this phenomenon is the nature of God to raise families. It is the most natural and supernatural thing to do.

I started reading the Bible when I was in the third or fourth grade and in Sunday School, Vacation Bible Schools, Youth Conferences and more we participated in Bible Bowls and many other contests to test our growing knowledge of God through the Bible. Because no one wanted to be on the losing team, the anticipation of these large gatherings and contests motivated us to read and memorize scriptures and to conduct contests not just in our local churches, but also sometimes at home. We also played other games like “Clue”, “Uno”, “Go to The Head of The Class”, “Monopoly”, “Dominoes”, “Triominoes” and “Quadrominoes”, “Checkers”. And then my Uncle Lindsey taught me to play “Chess”. That’s when I thought I was smarter than all the other kids my age because I had learned to play (I did not say win yet) the hardest game man has ever devised. LOL!! But anyhooo, one of those Bible verses says “Whatsoever a man (or woman) thinks in his heart, so is he.”

Very interesting, for as a young person I did not understand Bible lingo, but I read it anyway and I tried to make it work in my life to the best of my young ability. I did not know that the heart had a mind and could think. Anyhoooo again, times playing those games around the table with my brothers and parents and other family members were special because we all had our own minds and desires. There were so many of us that it was rare to get us all together at the same time, so when it did happen, I for one did not want it to end. But all good things must eventually come to an end. I just wish that were not so. We also played baseball, kickball, “Red Light, Green Light, One Two Three”, “Simon Says” (and sometimes he didn’t say anything worth hearing or doing), “Jack Rocks”, wrestling, and football in the house when THEY (not me) were not supposed to. ;-) When you think about it, in their own way each game and activity brought us face to face with each other, and sometimes we laughed, other times we were angry and fighting and crying tears over who was right or wrong, or who got injured. But we were still family, and we always came back home.

These are the things going through my heart now during this season of my life. What are the thoughts running through your heart now? What memories, desires, wishes, dreams, goals? Who continues to “live” inside your heart affecting your sleep, habits, decisions, choices, and peace? Not only is home where the heart is, but our heart is home to something(s), and someone(s). J And because they are there, consciously and subconsciously they’re playing a big part in everything we do. This is why it is important for us to know the thoughts of our hearts. What’s happening in that part of ourselves. Who is “living” there. Hmmmm.

Back in the the 70’s (that’s as far back as I can remember. LOL!!) I recall a groovin’ song we loved called “Papa Was a Rolling Stone”. And the hook said: “Papa was a rolling stone, wherever he laid his hat was his home.” Now I cannot speak for the adults in my life at that time nor my siblings and cousins who also enjoyed this song, but I recall trying to understand the lyrics which has taken me a long time to do. But anyhooo, I tried to envision a man as a rolling stone. LOL! I was too young to understand what that meant, but now I do, and I see that wherever this “Papa” took off his hat became the place where he “laid” his head and wherever he laid his head became his home, for however long he could exist at that place. In a sense, he was never "Homeless". Now if my interpretation is off or wrong, you can respond below with the correct one or your version of it, but right now this is mine.

You knew that I was eventually going to get analytical about this so here goes. The purpose of a hat is to make you look chic, classy, sexy maybe. Okay, that’s the definition of vanity. LOL! Hats are designed to keep our heads warm in the winter and to shade our eyes from the sunshine in the summer, and they also have logos and designs which describe our beliefs, our teams, parts of our personalities, etc. In other words, a hat can reveal our thoughts. J They are good conversational pieces which can reveal much about a person once you engage him or her in conversation, just about the hat. People do this with dogs and cats, hair styles, clothing, and don’t forget SHOES!! Now you’re walking on my side of the street.

God told the Israelites in the Old Testament (and then again in the New Testament) to be careful what they “put before their eyes” and to be careful what they “listened to with their ears” because these are the gateways to the soul and the heart – the spirit of a person. The things we hear and see affect and shape what we will think, say and do whether we mean to do these things or not. The heart is like a sponge and it can absorb anything, so we must protect it. Now I’m not talking about the physical heart, even though we must protect that too (and it also absorbs whatever we take into our bodies), but the spiritual heart where our affections, love, our desires and will reside. Pain and pleasure shape and affect the condition of our hearts and we must learn how to deal with them adequately so they do not drive and control us.

What’s a girl (and a guy) to do? Well, the best Person for me to consult when I don’t know something is the Lord Himself, and through the pen of King Solomon in Proverbs 4:23 we are told “Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life.” (Amplified) Well, even though I’ve been reading this for many years, I did not always do what it said because I either didn’t remember it, or I just didn’t know it, or I just wanted to see and hear what I wanted to see and hear, just like everybody else. So I continued to watch scary movies like “Carrie”, “Halloween” I,II, III, etc., “Amityville Horror”, “Exorcist”, “The Omen”, and more. I would sneak and watch them as a child when the adults were watching them, when we children should be asleep. I would stand outside the door and peep around the doorjamb as they watched “Rosemary’s Baby”. Ooooh!!! Then I would have horrible dreams at night and wake up crying or screaming, all because I did not guard my heart by guarding my eyes and ears. These images would haunt me throughout the day too for they had made an impression in my mind. I did not learn how to chase them from my mind for many years, but in the interim I would read novels by Barbara Cartland and Harlequin Romance. For a while these stories would intercept the scary movie images, but still they were not “true” or real for me, just a nicer fantasy.

Philippians 4:8 (Amplified) says, “For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and is winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them].” So now I know what to do with the thoughts of my heart because I know who lives there. My heart, Christ’s home. It is not always easy to keep out thoughts that don’t fit the above descriptions, but it does mean we have help in guarding our hearts so we can be healthy, wealthy and wise, spirit, soul and body.


Tuesday, 24 August 2010


Music has been a part of my life since . . . wow, since my brothers and I were tiny tots (no comments from the chocolate factory) banging pots and pans on the living room floor in our parents’ apartment in Queens, New York to the powerful tunes of James Cleveland, The Hawkins Family, Shirley Caesar, Dorothy Norwood, Mahalia Jackson, Jesse Dixon, The Caravans, and several other gospel music pioneers I respect and appreciate today. My mom was, and still is, a smart cookie dealing with six stair-stepping children (1-1.5 years apart). She figured out how to create peace and harmony in that small apartment and maintain her sanity as she prepared meals and bottles for the Bulls’ cattle call. J Play music!! And it worked every time. The pots and pans she didn’t need for food preparation she converted to drums with spoons, and we had a ball. Singing, dancing and banging to gospel music. Those were the days.

I don’t know if she realized that the message was getting into our little souls at that time, but it did for me, for I have strong memories of “Oh Happy Day” and other songs by the Hawkins Family playing on the record player. I remember the strong booming voice of the Reverend James Cleveland so well because my dad would sing some of his songs with the church choirs he directed around New York and Virginia. Yes, those were the days.

When we moved to our first and only family house in Virginia, mom stopped us from banging her pots and pans, but the music never stopped playing. Most days of the week you could find me in the living room singing in front of the mirror with a cordless microphone (we used hairbrushes in those days) singing and directing those groups and choirs like I personally knew them. (You could not convince me otherwise.) ;-) As we progressed through elementary, junior and high schools, four of us pursued musical instruments desiring to make music like what we were hearing, along with new tunes from television shows and movies, and then other artists and music genres. My primary instrument became the trumpet, and piano lessons began a few years after that. Each day I had to spend one hour practicing each instrument, learning and memorizing techniques and songs, homework for school and even for church. Most of the time I enjoyed it immensely, especially when the sounds I made began to make sense. LOL!!

Then the four us began playing together and our favorite song was “Oh When the Saints Go Marching In.” My grandmother would stand and dance and sing to that every time. It was her most requested song by The Exotic Four. That was our name given to us by a pastor’s wife who also enjoyed hearing us play. Mom eventually began shopping for outfits so we would look exotic too, matching shirts and slacks for the guys, and for me the leader, the nice flowing dresses I loved so much. And oh yes the high heeled shoes. Thanks Mom and Grandma Frances! ;-)

I had to use my little bit of knowledge to “write” songs – the notes – so we could play together. At first we tended to play the melodies together, but our education and experiences in school bands filled us with the desire to become creative. To play in sync and against the beat. To improvise and do jazz solos. J Yes, to and with church music, and it was fun!! Then I ran against a snag. I had to write for trombone which was in the bass clef, but I played and wrote in the treble. For a long minute I couldn’t understand why my brother was out of harmony with us and we argued and cried and became angry, until one day in school I looked at the sheet music of one of the trombone players, and saw notes that I played with the left hand on the piano. Ding!! The light came on. That day I apologized to my brother, went to the piano and together we began to write his parts in the bass clef. Now we were able to not only play the melodies together in the same key, we were able to write the harmonies we could hear and desired to play. Yes!!! Those were the days.

We realized that playing the same notes in the same key was okay and sometimes appropriate, but that’s not harmony. That’s unison. We also knew that each of us could play the first part, the main part from time to time. But that’s not harmony either. That’s the melody. Oh, but when we climbed every mountain and forged every stream, we reached harmonic heights we had never dreamed!! J We were playing different notes but in what is called a “chord” and when they blended well we would be smiling to each other through our mouthpieces. Now that’s harmony. Even when one of us broke off and played the lead around the chorus part, or when another one would play the verse – the solo, the rest of us would play supportive parts and behind the leader. That’s harmony too. Yessss. And finally when you can feel the music in your muscles and bones to the point that it brings tears to your eyes, I could tell you what it’s like on an intimate level, but for now I will just say, it is almost like heaven. ;-) Thank you Mr. Landis and Mr. “UB”. Broadneaux.

And those wonderful days in the marching band and stage band in junior and high schools, the competitions, the trips, the uniforms, the field shows, the freezing cold nights in parades, the ice on our mouthpieces and the squeaky clarinets because they couldn’t keep their reeds moist and warm. LOL!! Those were the days, of harmony. I’m so grateful for those days for they helped me develop not only my ear for good music, but for relationships as well.

You see, there was a song we sang in elementary school that said “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony. . .” and for a while it became the jingle for Coca Cola commercials. This song means more than just the actual singing with our voices. The song is a message reaching down into our hearts and souls with the message of “can’t we all just get along?” J But what does that look like, or in musical terms, sound like?

Well, for some it means that everyone in the group, club, church, family, team, etc. are saying the same thing and no one is saying anything differently, even if in their hearts they believe something else. They will not “say it” for that would mean they are singing a “different note” than everyone else and they would “stand out” and bring attention to themselves. That would mean they might shed light on the situation that there is more than one way to skin a cat, dead or alive. LOL!! Sorry cat lovers. That’s just one of those handy clichés. But really, that’s just unison and sometimes unison is necessary and desirable and it can pack a powerful punch at the right time in a song, and it also can be a great and subtle element of surprise before breaking out into harmonic chords. But let me not get ahead of myself. I sometimes want to hear music and lyrics played and sung in unison, but not all day long, and not the entire song through. This eventually becomes boring and it can be like everyone sitting on the same side of a boat. You get the picture.

For others harmony is one person doing all the talking and everyone else just agreeing, even when they don’t agree. Aha, yep, yes, mmmm. But when they go home they complain about the person doing all the talking. Sometimes the person in the lead seat might change, but the scenario is still the same: one person is doing all the talking and making the decisions and is the only one who gets heard. This is not harmony folks; this is what we call “singing or playing the lead”. In some cases, it’s just a plain old solo. Period. No one else’s opinion matters and no other voices are heard.

And then in some situations there is the one voice which represents all the voices. In corporations we call this a “consensus”. Everyone has spoken and has given their vote and opinion and has chosen a voice, or maybe two voices to sing together the same notes/song. They deliver the purpose, desires, plans etc. of the group and everyone is okay with that. We call this the “melody”. Everyone can sing the melody, but not everyone can do it well, but it’s the part of the song that stays in your mind. The most important part, the hook, the lines and music which carry the main message of the song. J This is how you know you’ve written a good (or bad) song – when the melody stays with even a little child, or it’s easy enough for them to remember not just the movements of the instruments, but the lyrics as well. Like MJ’s “You know I’m bad! . . . Who’s bad?” LOL!!

But unison, solo and lead, nor melody, are harmony. Not by themselves. Something else is needed. Something else needs to be done. I call it “humility”. In order to create harmony someone must be willing to take the lowest place of all. We would call that “bass”. Oh baby, that sounds like Larry Graham to my ears. Bass is the foundation and when you have a good bassist you can do almost anything with a song. You cannot build a house without the bass – the foundation. At least you shouldn’t try to live in one that lacks a foundation. J Many times in groups we lack the bass and we get by well, but when a good one comes along, that’s when we realize the missing ingredient from mom’s fried chicken. J

Then there’s the baritone. Now for some people this is the same as the bass, but if it were, it would be called . . . “bass”. LOL!! See, in school I learned that the bass instruments were the tubas and bass drums, tympanis, and such, but the baritones were the . . . baritones. Baritones are brass instruments with the bells facing the sky. They create a sound higher than basses and lower than tenors. They are “that-in-between-sound” that yes, we don’t try to create because it takes a special ear and heart to make it happen vocally. And yes, they are close to the bottom too and many times they’re the forgotten ones in a choir. They don’t seem to “fit in” anywhere, oh but when you create a part for them, and yes they stand out, it’s the most awesome sound you ever want to hear. Those are the Teddy Pendergrast’s of the world. J

“Well we’re moving on up!!” to the tenors. Now we’re in the middle of the house, but for many the tenors are the bottom. So one has to be humble for this position too because whether you’re in the middle or the bottom, many times you get overlooked in this position. Think of the middle child in a family, or the person who is the glue that keeps everyone and everything together. (But tenors become the top voices when you have a choir of tenors, baritones and basses. Interesting and wonderful sound too.) They have a quiet loudness without which nothing would get done, or stay together. They’re the ones who speak up last when all others are yelling and no one can agree on anything. When they finally speak up everyone shuts up and listens, eyes are opened and the stalemate is broken. Tenors can make or break your harmony, so you want to keep them happy. LOL! When you hear trombones and tenor saxophones, think tenor. Think Sam Cook and Luther Vandross. Ooo-ooh!!

But tenors are not the only ones in the middle. At times, when you have only soprano, alto and tenor voices, altos become the glue that keeps everyone together. Yet they have a higher sound than tenors at all times. I’ve heard altos given parts lower than the tenors and depending on the inversion of the voices and the type of song, the key and brightness, it can be great. But most of the time, altos lose their power and brilliance when they are placed below the tenors. Just like in relationships. When we are forced to be something we are not, to perform like a fork when we’re a spoon, to be water and wash the dishes when in actuality we are corn syrup – ick!! What sticky situations get created, and we wonder why we run into problems and cannot see the light of day, or there is no progress because we’re ‘stuck’. The sound is just not good. A good French horn or Flugal Horn tastes like good warm gravy – yeah alto. Think Marvin Gaye or Brian McKnight for a male alto or Chaka Khan for a female, just to name a few of my favorites. ;-)

Now we’re the fiddler on the roof with the sopranos!! This is where I like to fly, but I don’t want to live in the sky, not yet. Most of the time sopranos carry the melody and maybe sing the same parts or chords as the baritones. When they are good, soft, strong and ouch! they are the icing on your cake! I can toot my own horn, preferably a trumpet, at least once. The mistake we make with sopranos is that we think because they’re on top, they’re always right, but this just is not the case. In relationships, the person who speaks the loudest or the longest or with the biggest words the definitions of which they lack knowledge doesn’t necessarily know everything there is to know about the situation. They are not always the one most qualified to speak for, or to everyone. Sometimes the sopranos need to pipe down because they don’t have the melody. Sometimes the sopranos do sing a supportive role/part. Sometimes the sopranos are supposed to sing their part an octave lower. This means “humility”. J Sopranos are not always the stars. Sorry, get over it. LOL!! ;-) but if you cannot hear them, you're singing too loudly.

When we’re trying to create harmony, each person/part must consider everyone else more important than him or herself. Just think if we all are willing to open the door for each other rather than insisting on being the first one to go through . . . hmmm. Or when all the tall people insist on letting the short people be in front so everyone can be seen and have a good view for the photo session. . . . hmmmm. Or when men are real men ALL the time and not just when they feel like it and they treat women and children like the more “softer” beings that they are even if they don’t know them. . . . Ooooh, I like that one. Your manhood would fly through the roof and you would receive more love than you can handle. J (Can we call those “love handles”?) I do believe this, for a nice, gentle manly man can change the atmosphere in any room better than a Giovanni suit, Stacey Addams shoes, and Polo cologne. Or when we women finally realize we don't have to compete with each other or with men to be our real selves and to excel in our crafts, and neither do we have to act like men to be respected, because we've learned to love and respect ourselves. Harmony. It begins within, for whatever is going on inside of us we will act out and manifest outside of ourselves. Our internal world becomes our external reality.

In 2008 I wrote a song called “My Name is Melody” and I’ve let some friends hear it. After many weeks they were still humming it, so I knew then “it’s a hit”. We hope to release it next spring, but in the meantime I will write a song called “We are Harmony”, or something like that. LOL!! And if I ever have children in this life, I will name them Melody and Harmony. I need both to make good music and to keep that good feeling flowing from me, to you. “Sing. Sing a song. Sing it loud, Sing it strong . . .”