about a guy named loonis

Aside

As the credits were rolling on one of my children’s DVDs today, I began laughing so hard that the kids followed me down the hall asking, “Mommy!  What’s funny?”

Loonis McGlohon.  That’s what.loonis2CD

In junior high, my one-of-a-kind, they-don’t-make-’em-like-that-anymore principal gave the most glowing introduction I can remember for a performing artist at our annual Fine Arts Festival.  My principal was passionate about the arts, and he was passionate about the difference between artists and entertainers, too.  As a young pianist, I was riveted — especially when he slammed Elvis.  Old school, y’all.

He told us all about Mr. McGlohon’s accomplishments as a jazz pianist and composer and how he was a gem belonging to the state of North Carolina.  I did a good 30 minutes of research tonight, and yeah – he was awesome.  Played with Tommy Dorsey and Frank Sinatra and lots of greats most of us have never heard of.  You know, I don’t even think Mr. McGlohon was at the festival that year, but I think he and my principal were buds or something, so we got to hear a speech about why he had to cancel.

Anyway, here I am 20 years later, and who has composed the original music for “It’s Potty Time”?  Yup.  And if you’re a Dave Letterman fan, you might already know this one:

How great is it to know that someone successful enough to have a really, really beautiful theater named after them would be willing to write songs to tell my son how to pee?!  I laughed really hard at first, because of course, the whole video long I’m wondering:  Who had to write this?!  Were they not cracking up the entire time?! And whyyyy are they so catchy?  So yeah, the irony of a celebrated composer sitting in that [potty] chair really made me grin.

Without a drop of sarcasm I tell you: I am even more a fan of Loonis than ever before.  Thanks, Loonis.  You rocked.  And may your works have great impact on my children.

you may say i’m a dreamer…

Some of you may have read posts from my New Normal series back in the Fall.  If so, you’ll understand how I could be so motivated and end up doing very little.  About a week and a half ago, I had probably the worst day I’ve had with fibromyalgia.  It took 4-5 days to get past that flare, but that was complicated by a sinus infection and a stomach thing.  I’m not sure if it was a stomach bug or if it was side effects of 2 doses of a fibro drug that I took.

All that to say that one doctor has now given me a fibro diagnosis.  In the meantime, I have bloodwork, a skin punch biopsy, an MRI, and a glucose tolerance test scheduled to continue to look for causes of neuropathy in my feet. (And now I think in my arms?)  We did an EMG in January because of the feet thing, and again I was told, “Looks normal!”  Yeah.emgThis being-motivated-but-not-able on many days is problematic for me.  I’m a daydreamer and a worrier, so having lots of time on a couch obviously doesn’t help me balance my imagination with action.  Here is my imagination when I’m not on the couch:

We got a fantastic new sporting goods store in my little town.  Walking the aisles, I know I’m going to go hiking and rollerblading and probably start cycling.

I take my daughter to get a library card.  Standing at the check-out desk, I see myself writing lesson plans here on Thursdays.  Too bad I can’t bring coffee.  I’m also going to check out really cool books that impress the librarians with my excellent choices.

Tsh Oxenrider shares tips on book writing, and oh, man!  I need to set some deadlines for myself on that devotional for teachers.

The Children’s Council meets at my house.  I’m going to revamp this Children’s Church thing, and it is going to be the best.  So much more Jesus-centered, and the kids will beg to go on Sundays.

I wake up.  Today’s the day that I will have clean surfaces and buy the perfect living room floor lamp that only costs $30.

Derek Webb tweets about his wife’s new album.  Why do I not know all their music?  I will fit in a songwriting session on Thursday, too — right after I vacuum the studio lobby for the dance teacher.

We discuss Chapter 2 of The Case for Faith in Sunday School.  Next week, I will have caught up on the reading and bring in more research on related scriptures and give a presentation on sponsoring a child through Compassion International.

Pinterest shows me a baby sweater soaked in sweetness.  I’m getting out that yarn tonight and learning to knit for my niece due in March.  No, I’m not.  I’m calling Tracy to help me finish this baby quilt that my grandmother started.  I stopped working on it a year ago.

You come to my house (theoretically) and tell me about your new project.  I am so interested.  I want to help you with that.

I just found this picture of myself at my sister’s wedding rehearsal last month.  The hands say, “I am a bridesmaid.  I hold flowers.”  The eyes say, “Where are my children?”presentnotpresentIs there such a thing as Life ADD? If so, I have it.  Can this woman learn to be more present where she is?  Can she choose to set aside some things in order to actually obtain others?  If so, I’m going to try it.

I’m setting some very specific goals to be completed by the end of this school year and share them with two women who I know will check in on my progress.  I have to make the most of the days that I am able and be content to purposefully rest (physically and mentally!) on the days that I’m not.  Here’s to less mental wandering and less subsequent guilt over shoulda-woulda-coulda.

yogurt on a fork and sundry inspirations

image

You see that?  That is what you do when you get home with yogurt for your baby and realize that the expiration date is 12 hours away.  You stick a [plastic baby] fork in it [and then put it in the freezer.]  It’s done, baby.

tea party

And you see that?  That’s what happens when you’re unshakably determined not to bring the Disney princess tea cart back in the house that’s sitting on the back porch in the yard sale pile and a very imaginative 6 year old girl feels that her tea party would be much improved if it were mobile.  You stick some casters in a cardboard box and call it a day.  (Then you call yourself stubborn for not getting the doggone tea cart off the back porch.)

I’ve been thinking a lot about creativity lately (and apparently so have a lot of others… check out The Nester’s post.)  It’s deeply satisfying to have a creative moment, because creating is part of who we are as humans.  We’re made in likeness of The Creator.  Humans even get to be part of creating… humans.  Isn’t that crazy?!  Anyway.  Crazy.

I sense a series coming on here about creativity, so I’m not going to spill all my bloggy beans in one post. Today I only want to take you inside one amazing, frozen moment in my classroom about two months ago.

I had a class of five boys.  (Remember? I teach at an alternative high school.  Small class size rocks.)  We spent about 20 minutes on most days working on drumming skills using congas.

Congas

Photo by vxla on Flickr

Ah, yes.  Those things.

Never having taught at this school, I was a bit nervous to introduce this portion of our instrumental class.  I certainly did not want to tick off my hallmates or downstairs neighbors with incessant, loud, really bad drumming.  I checked with my peers.  Sure, they all said. That won’t be a problem.  I have planning during that block anyway.  I even heard a few Great!  I think some of those guys will really respond to the drums.  “So they’re interested in emotional rehabilitation through drumming, too!” I naively thought.  (I might want to be a music therapist when I grow up, by the way.)

About a month in to our daily drumming sessions, one of the staff met me in the hallway and said, “I noticed your guys finally changed up the rhythm.  That’s cool.”

I wish I’d taken that course in undergrad called Backhanded Compliments 101, because I think she just dished one out.

Since I’m not sure if you’re a music educator, I won’t bore you with the methods I used or the particular objectives I had in mind.  What’s important is that the guys were responsible for listening for empty space and filling it in with their own creation.  Some of them weren’t really comfortable with that.  For a long time, we ended up gravitating toward the same tempo with the same, slightly syncopated base rhythm.  No matter how we started off, someone pulled us to that comfortable place.

And then one day, someone got tired of the comfortable place.

During one exercise, I tell kids to listen (duh,) loop (repeat a simple idea over and over,) and lay out (occasionally just stop playing.)  This student, whom we’ll call James, just stopped playing.  I thought he was quitting for the day, because that was his general mode of operation. Our boredom with the rhythm morphed into a tiny tension as we wondered if there would be yet another showdown between Mrs. Lutz and James.

It turns out that he was actually following my suggestion and laying out so that he could listen, because he dropped the most pleasing, unexpected little chain of sounds in the middle of that musical space.  It felt like watching somebody cleanly jump in between the double dutch ropes after 25 kids had gotten smacked with them.  We straightened in our chairs and shifted the congas on our feet.  (Conga stands? We don’t need no stinkin’ stands.)  Our eyes went to his hands, and naturally, those students less comfortable bringing new ideas to the table were glad to try out his.  They couldn’t help but be drawn down the new path, because James gave it energy and commitment when he offered up his new idea.  Pretty soon, he had us pushing the tempo. Once we felt the new groove, other kids had new ideas that now seemed so obvious, even though they’d felt dry for ideas for almost a month.

This moment isn’t just about drumming or music or high school boys in an alternative school.

  • Sometimes boredom is the mother of creativity.
  • The listen-loop-lay out idea is wisdom in action.
  • It’s normal to feel a little anxiety right before the change happens.
  • Bad ideas will fail, but sometimes so will good ideas offered without commitment and energy.
  • One new idea often leads to another.

And you know that yogurt popsicle I showed you?  That turned into my favorite ten minutes of the following day.  All three of my kids and I sat on the kitchen floor and and laughed and ate together. I will definitely be doing that again, if ever I find myself with yogurt on the brink of being unsafe to consume.  And that mobile tea party?  She played with it for at least 8 minutes.  I don’t care, because it just felt good to try something new.