“Feed the body food and drink, it will survive today. Feed the soul art and music, it will live forever.” – Julie Andrews
On a trip back east last Thanksgiving, prior to this stay at home pandemic, we watched the movie “The Sound of Music” with our two grandkids. It brought back fond memories of doing the same thing 30 years ago with our daughters but not so fond memories of trying to explain to them in a non-frightening way why the Nazis wanted to eliminate us Jewish people. We also watched Mary Poppins, which was by comparison a big relief. We actually wore out the VCR tapes with these two films.
The star of both movies, Julie Andrews (born 1935), has now been acting for six decades. She appeared in several Broadway musicals during her career until she lost her singing voice after a bungled surgery. At that time she said, “Singing has been a cherished gift, and my inability to sing has been a devastating blow.” Eventually she did go on to become an author and published her memoir as well as a several children’s books. She once said about her success, “I really feel very blessed, and I don’t forget it, either; there’s an awful lot of wonderful talent in this world, and I just seem to be in the right place at the right time.” Our life is so much more fulfilling when we are filled with appreciation.
Most Beautiful One (MBO) and I both had similar challenges. MBO returned to college in her thirties to get her degree and then began her dream job as an elementary school teacher. When the fatigue from her multiple sclerosis (MS) made it impossible in 1997 for her to continue as a full-time school teacher, she was really crushed. But, she made a strong determination to turn this challenge into an opportunity.
Her positive attitude makes me think about this song from The Sound of Music:
I have confidence in sunshine
I have confidence in rain
I have confidence that spring will come again
Besides which you see I have confidence in me
Andrews also said, “Leave every place you go, everything you touch, a little better for your having been there.” I love this quote. As long as I don’t put too much pressure on myself when I go somewhere and remember to at least leave things no worse than I found them.
Thanks to her principal, MBO was able to become a part-time reading and writing specialist with a minimal loss in salary. When we moved across the country to an island in Washington State in 2004, she started a tutoring business and has since helped over 50 students – some for several years.
As for me, I taught myself how to type at a young age because I never learned how to correctly hold a pencil. My grip makes my fingers ache. Several years ago I developed painful arthritis in my hands which is really frustrating for a writer. I tried dictation programs but my brain and imagination were too deeply attached to my fingers. This was also around the time I wanted to return to playing the piano and clarinet which I also could no longer do. My younger daughter suggested I take up the harmonica which was a brilliant idea. And my physical therapist helped me learn how to minimize my brain’s reaction to the pain in my hands which, along with Velcro finger braces, allows me to write an hour or two a day.
Andrews reflected, “Leave every place you go, everything you touch, a little better for your having been there.” I love this quote. As long as I don’t put too much pressure on myself when I go somewhere and remember to leave things at least no worse than I found them.
Following her own advice, Andrews is involved with Alzheimer’s disease, gender equality, health, homelessness, LGBTQ+ issues, and veteran support. In response to her concern about the impact of children being forced to be at home during the pandemic, Andrews and her daughter recently started a podcast, Julie’s Library, where Andrews reads children’s books.
About the pandemic, Andrews said, “I feel a very big similarity to the feelings one had then [as a child in World War II] to the feelings one has now. Then, I was very concerned and worried and frightened and anxious, and one didn’t know where the next wave [of bombers] would come.” She continued: “But one thing I did recognize as a child was the amount of bonding that happened in England because of the war, and I feel the same feelings in America here at this moment.”
I agree with her and suspect that in the future our children will feel the same way about these difficult times they are facing.
Thanks for reading and stay safe out there!
Next week: A Great Mender & the Coronavirus
Other titles by Mike during Covid-19:
Most Lucky One & the Coronavirus
Lily Tomlin & the Coronavirus
Herbie Hancock & the Coronavirus
Leo Tolstoy & the Coronavirus
Most Beautiful One & the Coronavirus
Grandma Moses & the Coronavirus
Leonardo da Vinci & the Coronavirus
Lean on Bill Withers and Defeat the Coronavirus
Gandhi, King, Ikeda & the Coronavirus
Tagore and the Coronavirus
Annie Leibovitz and the Coronavirus
Ansel Adams and the Coronavirus
Louise Penny and the Coronavirus
Harry Manx and the Coronavirus
Keb’ Mo’ and the Coronavirus
Davy Jones and the Coronavirus
Prince Hamlet and the Coronavirus
Helen Keller and the Coronavirus
Pema Chodron and the Coronavirus
ABOUT MIKE LISAGOR – Mike Lisagor plays harmonica and sings in Good Karma Blues. He has written hundreds of magazine articles and blogs on a variety of business and Buddhist related topics. He is the author of “Romancing the Buddha,” which he adapted into a successful one-man show that he performed at Bainbridge Performing Arts and in Los Angeles and Washington D.C. His nature photographs have appeared in the Boston Globe, Bainbridge Island Magazine, Living Buddhism as well as in several local galleries. His latest graphic art project, “Reimagined Nature”, is in the lobby of New Motion Physical Therapy.