The Couple That Dances Together . . .

I’ve never been much of a dancer, but I don’t blame myself entirely. I grew up in the dark ages of dancing, when club-goers danced without any hint of choreography, no or very little touching, and without even looking at each other. I never saw the point of it. They may as well have been dancing alone.

But even then, I thought dancing should be what the name implies – a dance, two people blending together to make something beautiful, exquisite, transcending the mundane and ordinary, a synchronized celebration of life and love. (And yes, I know how corny that sounds.)

I would imagine dancing together like this helps a marriage, too. After all, a marriage is a kind of dance. As Garth Brooks sang, “I could have missed the pain, but I’d have had to miss the dance.”

Another country song claims “life is a dance you learn as you go” – symbolically jumping into life rather than standing against the wall watching others enjoy themselves. Organized, mutual joy rather than disorganized narcissism.

It seems dancing reflects the age. Maybe the lack of synchronicity and dances with actual names – the Lindy Hop, Jitterbug, East Coast Swing and Jive for swing dancing, for instance, or the Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango, Rumba, Cha Cha and Jive for ballroom dancing (to name a few) – is one of the reasons marriages aren’t as strong in the modern world as they were during World War II, the heyday of swing and ballroom dance. Synchronicity died, people became separated, more into themselves than each other, and so did marriages.

There’s something especially beautiful about watching older folks like this dance. They may have lost the athleticism of their youth but, after all the storms that inevitably come during a marriage, and the ravages of time, they’re still up there doing it. Dancing together. They won.

And I Love You So

 

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(My daughter and I six years ago.)
And I love you so,
The people ask me how,
How I’ve lived till now
I tell them “I don’t know”I guess they understand
How lonely life has been
But life began again
The day you took my hand

And yes I know how lonely life can be
The shadows follow me
And the night won’t set me free
But I don’t let the evening get me down
Now that you’re around me

And you love me too
Your thoughts are just for me
You set my spirit free
I’m happy that you do

The book of life is brief
And once a page is read
All but love is dead
That is my belief

And yes I know how loveless life can be
The shadows follow me
And the night won’t set me free
But I don’t let the evening bring me down
Now that you’re around me

And I love you so
The people ask me how,
How I’ve lived till now
I tell them “I don’t know”

(Don McLean)

Chicken Soup for the Soul Podcast – How to Get a Literary Agent and Get Published.

Click the link below to hear Chicken Soup for the Soul publisher Amy Newmark’s podcast called:

THOUGHTFUL THURSDAY: The Quest for an Agent – How Two Writers Found Theirs and Got Published

 

 

 

What I learned in five years of blogging

Inspiring words for those hoping to have a successful blog. Not surprisingly, some of the wise advice is to write every day, enjoy yourself, expand your consciousness by varying your subjects, and don’t listen to negative people. Thanks, Cristian.

Cristian Mihai

Five years. Five years of daily blogging. Five years since I decided to never give up, no matter what. To keep writing, to keep blogging, to just keep at it for as long as it took.

And what a ride it has been. Around the world, indeed. 200 or so countries. Lots and lots of people, lots and lots of stories…

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Messin’ with Mark – God’s Sitcom. Episode 7 – The Shot Heard ‘Round the Playground, or How My Fear of Pilgrims Began

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Welcome to episode 7 of Messin’ with Mark, God’s sitcom!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this series, let me tell you how it started . . .

When I was very young, Jesus was walking around in His heavenly area up there when he saw his Dad looking down through the clouds, laughing His head off. Curious, he walked over and asked, “What’s up, Pop?”

“Oh, just pranking that Mark kid again,” He replied.

Again?” Jesus asked, “Why are You always picking on him?”

I don’t know. There’s just something about him,” God said. “I mean, look at his face right now.”

Jesus looked down and started to chuckle, then stopped Himself. “Okay, I admit it’s kind of funny, but this is wrong. I mean, You created him. With all due respect, what kind of an example are you setting for the angels? We’re supposed to love and protect humanity, not single one out from all the rest for humiliation.”

God thought for a moment, then looked at Jesus and said, “You’re right. I should stop.” They looked at each other seriously, then said, “Naaaaaaaahhh” and laughed some more.

Jesus suggested that he make a regular show of his pranks on me. They named it Messin’ with Mark. 

Remember Rodney Dangerfield’s bit about getting “no respect” from humans? It’s kind of like that, but on a cosmic level.

So, to today’s episode –

You’d think they’d limit their pranks to adults, but no! Those pranksters up there (God and Jesus) have been pulling this stuff on me since I was a kid. Here’s one of their earliest episodes. 

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I was in third grade and starting to get pretty good on the monkey bars. My friends and I liked to play a game all kids play called “Chicken” wherein one kid starts on one side and one on the other, then swing hand-over-hand toward each other and try to pull each other down with their legs. 

There is an inherent danger in this game that is obvious to any grown man, but as a boy, I was oblivious to such danger. Oh, I had heard about getting kicked in the fellas but I didn’t understand (until this day) how or why it hurt more than getting kicked anywhere else. 

Opponents for this game weren’t usually chosen, they were just whoever happened to get on the bars at the same time. My random (or maybe not) opponent that day was a little girl who dressed like and had the severe, no-nonsense face of a sadistic orphanage headmistress. She was terrifying in her black dress with black shoes, complete with square, silver pilgrim buckle. Her hair was pulled back so tight, she could hardly blink.

I almost backed out but changed my mind because my friends were watching and I would never live it down. Before I knew it, we were swinging toward each other. I smiled and made some sort of joke but her stern expression just became sterner. It was clear she was intent on destroying me. 

As we got close enough to leg wrestle, I opened my legs to wrap them around her, as custom dictates. She, however, seized the opportunity to send a kick right up the middle an NFL field goal kicker would envy. I can still remember with extreme clarity her skinny legs and the heavy shoes dangling limply until the last moment when one of those bird twigs suddenly came toward me with an athleticism and accuracy nobody could have predicted. The pilgrim buckle connected squarely with my prepubescent berries, and all at once I understood what all the fuss was about. I understood why there was no “hitting below the belt” in the boxing matches I watched with my dad. I didn’t have long to understand, though, because less than one second after she buried her pilgrim shoe where God split me, I was face-down in the sand wondering what just happened.

The bell rang ending recess and all the kids started running to class. Lizzie Borden’s granddaughter laughed and joined them. After the initial gasp of horror, my friends felt too sorry for me to even say anything or offer assistance. It was one of those “it’s best to leave him alone” moments. And alone I was, for fifteen minutes after the other kids returned to class. I heard my teacher come outside and yell my name. I rolled over, spit out some sand, and started to yell, then thought twice. I was hidden by the short wooden wall of the sand in the play area. I could stay there forever, or at least until the first snow of winter covered me up. 

After another thirty minutes or so, I got up, hobbled to the drinking fountain, washed the remaining sand out of my mouth and nostrils, and snuck back into class. To this day, I have a morbid fear of pilgrims, or more correctly, pilgrim shoes. Fortunately, you don’t see pilgrims or quakers around much anymore. However, I still hyperventilate and break into a cold sweat at my daughter’s annual elementary school Thanksgiving show.

 

New Publishing!

Please look for my story The American Team in this book, available in bookstores and online in late August. This is my 17th story in the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. As always, I’m very proud to be associated with a company that inspires millions around the world, but particularly this book because of how divided and angry so many Americans are these days, even violently angry. It’s not supposed to be this way. We’re supposed to be able to talk to each other without violence. I hope this book reminds us of that and all the other wonderful things we have in common as Americans, despite our differences of opinion. 

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