Life’s Playlist….. Fly by Celine Dion

Today’s assignment for the Jeff Goins, 500 Words for 31 Days Challenge is to write a confession.

I don’t feel like writing a confession.  I don’t fee like writing 500 words.  I feel helpless, confused and angry that once again, kids went to school yesterday and they didn’t come home to their parents at the end of the day.

What is wrong with our society?

Life’s Playlist… One Voice performed by The Georgia Boys Choir

When my pen touches the paper, the magic that happens is beyond my wildest dreams.

The figures that I have created for over fifty years have made me famous beyond my imagination and allowed me to bring the simplistic voice of a child to the world’s forefront.

It is hard for me to believe that a simple idea so many years ago would become something that the world identifies with.  From a simple newspaper feature, my cartoons have become television shows, movies, stuffed animals, books, characters in theme parks, on every street Halloween night and even traveling ice shows.  These characters that formed in my mind and came to life on paper have allowed me to express a viewpoint to the world.

I’m no great artist, I know that, but what I am is a man who is able to express an opinion through the eyes of a clumsy young boy who relates more to his dog than he does his friends.

This boy, his dog and group of misfit friends have given me wealth and fame, but more than that, they have taught me the joys of a simple message, a message that is quoted and shared by parents with their children and children with their children; they have allowed me to share my views with a world that more often than not just needs a little joy with their morning paper.

When my characters were given a voice and color was added to their world, they came to life and now just the sound of a childlike voice takes my fans to a place where everything is made possible in just a few frames of newsprint.

I started sharing my drawn family with the world in 1950, it was a much simpler time then and as the world has changed, my kids have stayed the same.

Although they are now fifty years old, they haven’t aged a day, they are still the same rotund group of feitsy, nerdy, hard to understand, shy, lyrical, gullible characters they were the day they debuted to the world.

If I had known the world was going to fall in love with them, I may have changed some things, but as I look back on it now, I know they are perfect in all their imperfections.

I love these kids like they are my own family, because if I am truthful, they have become members of my family.  Like those who take time to visit with them every day, you can find members of your own family and situations from your own life in the lives of these kids who visit you.

Lucy, Linus, Schroeder, Pig-Pen, Sally, Peppermint Patty, Woodstock, Snoopy and Charlie Brown have become cultural icons because of their single focus of bringing good to the world.

On this date in 2000, the last original “Peanuts” comic appeared in your newspapers bringing to an end the stories of these kids who made my life so special.  That last original comic, was brought to you the day after I passed away at the age of 77.

I am Charles M. Schulz and I am the cartoonist who brought you Peanuts.  I am also the “voice” of today’s Jeff Goins, 500 Word Challenge your author chose to use in his assignment “write in someone else’s voice.”

 

 

Life’s Playlist…. That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be by Carly Simon

I have been slack on my writing assignments over the weekend, but I am back today and ready to go.  The assignment for Day 14 of the Jeff Goins – 500 Word Challenge is…. write about food.

Well there couldn’t be a better subject for me, anyone who knows me knows I LOVE food.  I love planning meals, love shopping for it, love cooking it and especially love eating it.  If I could find someone to do the clean-up that would be perfection!

The challenge is narrowing down what to write.  I could expand on a recipe, share something I enjoy, or praise a favorite restaurant.  HMMM.

I think I will just go with my ultimate meal.  If I were to compile the perfect meal, from anywhere, cooked by anyone what would it be.  No worries about calories, nutrition or any “rules,” just what I want for my ultimate meal.  (Fair warning, this won’t be for the faint of heart!)

A Southern Feast.

Any meal of consequence would have to include my mother’s homemade biscuits.  Growing up we had biscuits every night for supper and when she cooked breakfast we would have them then too.  Mama couldn’t give her recipe because she always said she just knew what to put in.  I know they had Martha White Self-Rising Flour, Buttermilk, Butter and I think Crisco.  (Could be wrong about the Crisco.)  She cut each biscuit with an old Vienna-Sausage can and placed them on the pan she used just for cooking biscuits.

My ultimate meal would include Fried Chicken, cooked by my daddy and also Cubed Steak cooked by my mama.

There would probably be some Country Ham just to complete the perfect meal trifecta.

Using the old grease from the Cubed Steak there would be gravy for saturating the biscuits.

A huge bowl of fried okra would be the cornerstone of the vegetables.  Also on the vegetable list Black-eyed Peas, Silver Queen Corn on the Cob and Green Bean Casserole.

There would be deviled eggs and potato salad with mayonnaise and mustard, sweet pickles, onion, eggs and salt and pepper.

There would be “Ken’s Pink Salad.”  A simple congealed salad that my mama named after me because I love it so much.  Jello, Cottage Cheese, Cool-Whip and Pineapple chunks all mixed together and chilled in the refrigerator until it has just the perfect consistency.

No meal would be complete without lots of Sweet Tea and maybe some pineapple juice just to add a little tropical twist.

After the perfect meal, an array of perfect desserts would fill the table.  Homemade Banana Pudding with meringue, tart lemon pie and my grandmother’s cream cheese pound cake.

As delicious as that meal could be, what would make it all the more special would be sharing it with those who prepared it just one more time.  Those days have now passed, but I know that those I love will have it prepared for me when we see each other again in heaven.

A delicious meal that is served better with those you love and the memories they create as time moves on.

Life’s Playlist… Hero by Mariah Carey

Day 6 of the 500 Word Challenge by Jeff Goins….. tell someone else’s story.

She watched her 11-year-old son, riddled with cancer, die a painful and grueling death.

I fist met her when a news report was featured on the local news channel in West Palm Beach, FL where I was living at the time.

Her child had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  The most brutal of all cancers, for a child to get the diagnosis was quite rare.

The news report told the story of a fund-raiser for the child that had been scheduled at his school.  Due to regulations, my friend had been informed two days before the event, that it would have to be cancelled.

The news unsettled me,  how this event had to be cancelled over stupid regulations added insult to injury for this family that had already seen far too many bad turns in their lives.

At the time, I was the Marketing Director for a local retail/entertainment center.  The story haunted me through the night and the next morning when I arrived at work, somehow I was able to locate the mom’s phone number and contacted her.

Within an hour she was in my office and we were planning the logistics to move the event to our center.

We hit it off right away, through the tragedy that she was enduring, we became friends.

The event came and went at our center, but our friendship sustained over time.  We kept in touch and she would give updates about her son’s condition.

About a year after our meeting, my friend’s son lost his battle with the disease.  He passed away in their family home.  His little body suffered and by the time he passed he was constantly in pain with his family suffering every moment with him.

During those painful months, my friend rode every roller-coaster of emotion imaginable never leaving her child’s side.  Since his passing she feels guilt, sorrow and a broken heart that will never mend.

Not long after her child’s death, my friend opened a retail store in the tiny town I served as a City Commissioner for.  The thrift and consignment store was opened as a charity to assist families of children suffering with cancer.

My friend had found a new mission, one that would honor her son and allow her to give back in ways that would help sustain other families dealing with the same issues she had endured.

From opening day through the years the store has been opened successes have been difficult to measure.  Financially, the store has never operated to its anticipated dream, located in the small run down shopping center of a neighborhood that was fraught with crime, drugs and prostitution, it was difficult to make a go of the mission my friend envisioned.

Featuring a wonderful selection of furniture, clothes, antiques and accessories, the store should have been a success, unfortunately the neighborhood blocked that possibility.

My friend always kept her head-up and worked towards her mission.  Through her constant grief, her vision to honor her son never wavered.

A couple of weeks ago my friend announced the store will be closing.  Her continued battle to make the store meet her vision would come to an end.

The store will close, but I know my friend….. her vision and commitment to families who are going through the unfathomable days she went through will not.

My friend is a warrior and she is guided daily by an angel that helps her put one foot in front of the other.  The store may be closing, but my friends broken-heart will go on, she will persevere, she has already done more than she will ever know and her journey continues, through pain she will continue to heal and help others in her child’s name.

 

Life’s Playlist… The Power of the Dream by Celine Dion

For me, today is day 5 of the Jeff Goins 500 Word Challenge.  A program for writers and those of us writer-wannabes to get in the habit of writing every day.  Write a minimum of 500 words each day for 31 days straight.

Today the challenge is:  describe a day in my life I will never forget.  Without sounding cliché, there are too many to choose from, however being one who enjoys a good challenge I will go with this one.

Not necessarily the greatest day in my life or one that changed the trajectory of my life, but certainly one I will never forget.

Friday, July 19, 1996.

On this date in history, the Centennial Summer Olympic Games began in Atlanta.  I lived in Atlanta at the time, moving there in 1986.

For seven years, the city had been working in overdrive to welcome the world to our town.  The city had been made-over and was glistening with new buildings, sporting facilities and the hoopla that surrounds the largest world-wide sporting event.

Going into the Games, I was working for a Special Events company as Creative Director and we worked directly with several corporate clients to coordinate their housing, transportation, ticketing and company events.

I was assigned to a company that has since gone out of business, CIBA-Vision.

During the final days leading up to the Games, the excitement in Georgia was palpable.  The Olympic Torch Relay was making its way through the State and a few days before the Opening Ceremony I was able to travel to my hometown to watch it pass through.

On that late summer evening, my entire community had gathered to watch some of our hometown heroes carry the torch, and as they passed we stood draped in red, white and blue cheering them on, the excitement of the Games had invaded my little Appalachian community and we were overjoyed.

The next day I reported to CIBA Village.  A new apartment complex on the outskirts of Atlanta that was close to the Equestrian Park where the horse competitions would take place.

My team and I readied the apartments for over a thousand guests who would visit over the next 18 days.

Two days before the Games began, a group of ten to twelve of us stood along the street outside our apartment village and watched as the torch made another pass.  Those moments of seeing the Olympic Flame pass within feet of me stirred my soul and gave me a feeling of pride in my community and nation that is difficult to put into words.

Finally, the day of the Opening Ceremonies was upon us.  All the years of planning and execution were now in full swing, the Centennial Olympic Games were about to open in my adopted town, Atlanta, GA.

On the night the ceremonies took place, we hosted several hundred people in a quaint pavilion not far from our complex.

Dinner and decorations and large screen televisions had been brought in for everyone to enjoy the festivities.

From the moment the Opening Ceremonies began the spectacle of the night was enthralling.   Dance routines and aerobatics and Georgia celebrities welcomed the World to our homes.   It was a magical night that still fills me with pride to this day.

One of the great mysteries of the Opening Ceremony was who would be the final torch-bearer to light the Olympic cauldron.

Many names were speculated, but only a very few people knew for sure who it would be.

As Evander Holyfield made his way into the stadium carrying the torch a loud road was heard, not only in the stadium, but in our small pavilion located miles from the official gathering.

Holyfield would have been a perfect choice, a Georgian, Olympian and worldwide sporting champion.  However, Evander Holyfield was met on the field by Janet Evans, an American Olympic hero in swimming, it would be amazing to have a woman light the torch.

As Janet Evans made her way towards the cauldron it appeared that she had been bestowed the honor, but then it happened.

Out of the darkness a lone figure appeared, frail but mighty.  The Greatest of All Time, Muhammad Ali walked out to greet Evans and receive the flame and the adulation of thousands in the stands and watching on television who cheered his presence.

I still remember hearing NBC’s announcer, Dick Enberg joyfully shout into his microphone, “Oh my, it’s the Greatest!” and with that, Ali turned and pressed the flame to a bal that passed through the night sky and into the cauldron,  the flame was lit.  Set aglow by the greatest athlete of all-time, a legend in sports and an American treasure.

Over the next weeks, Atlanta and the World celebrated the excellence of athletes from around the world.  There was drama, grace and unfortunately a terrorist attack the forever marred the wonder of those days in Atlanta.

As amazing as the Games of Atlanta were, that one night, when the excitement of the world focused on a flame set aglow by Muhammad Ali will live within me forever.