Monday, January 27, 2014

Simple Lessons

Recently I picked up a copy of Robert Fulghum’s “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.”  I had heard of the book but never read it.  To my big surprise, I really enjoyed to humor and wisdom as well as the stories.  Mr. Fulghum recounts many personal experiences in his tales that warmed my heart because they were descriptions of authentic human beings, real life accounts of neighbors, friends and family.  I never met Mr. Fulghum personally but through his writings I got to know something about him, an honest man who loves his country, his family and home-life.

The way he describes the lessons learned in Kindergarten, I feel like many people today may have skipped Kindergarten or have just plainly forgotten the early lessons.  Here are the rules, if you never read the book:

“These are the things I learned (in Kindergarten):

1. Share everything.

2. Play fair.

3. Don't hit people.

4. Put things back where you found them.


6. Don't take things that aren't yours.

7. Say you're SORRY when you HURT somebody.

8. Wash your hands before you eat.

9. Flush.

10. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

11. Live a balanced life - learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work everyday some.

12. Take a nap every afternoon.

13. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.

14. Be aware of wonder.  Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.

15. Goldfish and hamster and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.

16. And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first work you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.”

“Everything you need to know is in there somewhere.
The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation.
Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.

Take any of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or your government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm.
Think what a better world it would be if all - the whole world - had cookies and milk about three o'clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap.
Or if all governments had a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.
And it is still true, no matter how old you are - when you go out into the world, it is best
to hold hands and stick together.”
~ Robert Fulghum,  All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten
For me the reading has been very refreshing, getting me out of the cold winter mood and reminding me that there is always new life and fresh ideas when we see them through the eyes of a child.

Thank you, Mr. Fulghum, for providing a medium for me to remind me, that when we look at the world through children’s eyes, it suddenly becomes exciting and adventurous again.

Monday, January 20, 2014

How to Beat the Winter Blues

A couple of days ago I found myself in a really bad mood; the snow and the cold were getting to me.  I have lived here in Southern Ohio for the past 18 years and have never experienced a winter like this.  Snowfall after snowfall and the cold, how does -3 degrees Fahrenheit sound? 

As I took a review over my situation, I realized that there was nothing I could do about this status quo.  Couldn’t even blame it on Global Warming (or is it Global Cooling now?).

I understand that there is a medical condition for “Winter Blues” called Seasonal Affective Disorder.

So, what is one to do to overcome the Winter Blues?

I got my gratitude list out again and couldn’t help to feel better right away.

I have a warm house, good food and a wonderful family to share it with.  We are connected through TV, the internet and telephone and can talk to anyone, anywhere in the world and let our imagination run wild to be transferred to a lovely place with sunshine and warmth.

Now, if that doesn’t beat the Winter Blues?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Who was Helen Lyndon Goff?

Helen Lyndon Goff was a young girl, growing up in the outback of Australia who later transformed herself into an imaginative and legendary writer who created the stories around the famous character of “Mary Poppins.”  She moved later on to London and as P.L. Travers, she wrote several works even though only one ended up in the Disney film and the musical of Mary Poppins.

Pamela Lyndon Travers’ story is portrayed in the recent movie “Saving Mr. Banks.”

The movie goes back into Helen’s childhood in Queensland where she grows up as the oldest of three sisters.  Her dad is a banker but falls short of his services to his job since he drinks a lot.  Helen adores him, and he adores her but she is confused when she discovers her Dad’s drinking habits.  He supports her imagination and encourages her to believe in herself.

In the meantime we are taken into her later life as a writer.  She lives in London and has written several stories about Mary Poppins, a nanny who flies in with the wind of the East.  She is described as being "practically perfect in every way."  She is also very stern but at the same time loving and nurturing.  She also has magical abilities, as she can transport herself and objects to other places and talk to the animals.

Walt Disney has been pursuing P.L. Travers for 20 years to give up the rights to the story for him to create a movie.

As the story goes, Mrs. Travers travels to Los Angeles to meet with Walt Disney and his team of script writers and music composers to once again convince Mrs. Travers to sign off the rights to the movie.  She agrees somewhat under very demanding conditions which puts the whole Disney studio under tremendous pressure.

“That’s what we do, we storytellers. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope, again and again and again.”
~ Walt Disney

Why is the movie called “Saving Mr. Banks?”

In the Mary Poppins books, Mr. Banks is the patriarch of the family who is so obsessed with his working life that he doesn't have much time for his children. Travers believed that Mary Poppins came to the Banks family to save Mr. Banks from his unfulfilled life and to make him realize that family was his real priority. Travers' father was a bank manager who died when he was in his 40s of alcohol-related diseases. Travers, in turn, wished she could have saved her father from his own demons.

Walt is right about that, when he persuades the cranky author to loosen up by assuring her that their collaboration will make her work, and her long-lost father, immortal. 

“Supercallifragilisticexpialidocious! Mary Poppins was right, it’s extraordinary! It does make you feel better! Hee hee hee hee!”
~ George W. Banks

Who is Mary Poppins?

Mary Poppins is a fictional character who reminded the author of her great aunt Ellie who came to their home, after her father had passed away.  She is a very no-nonsense person whose favorite words were: "Spit spot into bed!"

Great Aunt Ellie also carried a carpet bag, and she would often instruct children in etiquette and other niceties. Mary Poppins has many other interesting things up her sleeves.  

“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun, and - SNAP - the job's a game!”
~ Mary Poppins
The Disney Magic

If you have seen the movie “Mary Poppins” you will agree that the Disney team truly created magic with its cartoon characters, the catching tunes of the songs interwoven into the story of the Banks family.

“Saving Mr. Banks” is storytelling at its best where filmmaking is classic and engaging the viewer into healing family trauma.

Thanks to Walt Disney’s persuasion Mrs. Travers not only solves her financial troubles but also heals some of her own wounds in relationship with her dad (Mr. Banks).

One blogger, Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., in her review of the movie went as far as calling the account a story of redemption and hope.
Other reference sites:

I truly enjoyed watching “Saving Mr. Banks.”  I am very partial to movies in historical fiction. To me, it was worth 2 hours in the theater.




Monday, January 6, 2014

Happy Epiphany Day!

Some sources say that the real birthday of Jesus was January 6th, others say that it was the day when Jesus Christ was first revealed to the world as a human being by the Magi.  It is interesting that the Twelve days of Christmas were counted from January 6th backwards to the day after Christmas.  We are all familiar with the popular Christmas song: The Twelve Days of Christmas.

It is even more astounding how many different traditions and folklore are connected to January 6th.  The dark season in the Western Hemisphere has so many Pagan traditions.   They were so influential that the early Christian Church leaders matched their celebrations according to some of the Pagan customs. 

Because of superstition, the dark nights were believed that souls and spirits were roaming through the homes, and so it became practice to smoke out the home on the last night before January 6th.

In fact there are so many pagan rituals intertwined in our Christmas celebration which originally had nothing to do with Christ’s birth like the tree and sending out greeting cards.

Now some regions like New Orleans celebrate the feast of Epiphany with the King’s Cake (often a baby Jesus or other trinket maybe hidden in the yeasty dough), marking a door lintel with the Magi’s blessing, and elaborating worship with lighted candles.  That seems a dignified celebration to end the Christmas season. 

As I said before, it is not completely clear if the celebration of Epiphany commemorates the arrival of the magi to find baby Jesus or it is rather the occasion of his baptism when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Man Jesus, and proclaimed: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased." Matthew 3:17

One thing is for sure is that the original Christians didn’t celebrate either day right away.  It is not sure when the traditions started but it was somewhere around the 4th Century.
Epiphany is also used as an expression of intuitive understanding or a flash of insight. 

I am just really amazed that God and the unseen world make so much effort to make themselves known to us humans, bringing messages, revelations and even the Messiah into our world.  Even though, we are so thick-headed, ignorant, and resistant that it took God 6,000 years (not literal, rather Biblical) to disclose His true purpose (his-story) to us. 

May we all have an epiphanic experience to connect once again to our creator and his dedication and faithfulness to us.  It can only be a true parents’ heart to have that kind of perseverance, endurance and determination to put up with our obliviousness and worldliness.