Shifting

Didn’t take long
A few minutes
Maybe five
My face turned
Toward the sun
Soaking up its
Light and warmth
Shifting my
Response
To this day
Cold air was
Not a deterrent
Favorite blue sweater
And soft grey slippers
Made certain of that
Back inside
Warm and cozy
Still wearing my
Favorite blue sweater
I continue to feel
The sun on my face
Though no longer
Standing in the
Path of its rays-
Didn’t take long
A few minutes
Maybe five

My friend, Marina, keeps telling me to get outside and soak up some Vitamin D. Today, I finally decided to listen! 😉
Sunshine On My Shoulders~~Kelley Morris, piano

Measuring Life

We try and try to
Measure our lives
Days, weeks, months, years
The number of seasons
We travel can never
Accurately measure
Our existence
What matters most
Is often invisible
Harder to quantify-
The full impact realized,
After physical days
Have long passed
If only our hearts
Could be weighed
An appraisal revealing
The constant flow
Of life-giving air
Transformed into
Actions of love-
Actions of love
Breathing
Life-giving air-
Leaving the heart full
But never heavy
Always overflowing
Impossible to measure

I suppose there is something about being in quarantine that makes me think more about time. Particularly being quarantined as a new year begins. But it is ok. As my Mom recently said, “Looking forward to better days!” 🙂 ❤

Time in a Bottle ~ Kelley Morris, piano

Breathing Life

I hear it first in my memory
Although the words escape me
The tune is clear
One note leading to the next
And the next and on and on
A flawless string of sounds
Floating thru the air
Seamless as a priceless
String of pearls
Made perfectly complete as
The notes in my head move
From my thoughts thru
My eyes, my ears
Traveling the path to
My tired, aching fingers
Breathing life back into
These tired, weary bones

Childhood Memories Kelley Morris, piano

Part of the Harmony

I have not spent enough time at my piano in recent weeks. So this week, I decided to remedy that. With it being Christmas time, what to play was an easy choice.

As I played through several old Christmas hymns, the word balance kept coming to mind. No matter the context, there are always notes, voices, instruments, rhythms that need to be heard above the rest. And quite often, that spotlight is shared, giving others a chance to be heard.

Even though one voice might not be the momentary focus, it remains essential to the music. Where would that melody be without harmony? Or that jazz riff without the brushes of the drum floating behind it?

When I sat down to play this morning, I began by playing the hymns as written. Though tempting, I did not add any embellishments. My goal was to play so that the melody rang out clearly, while the harmony provided support.

After reading the music as written, I went back and added new rhythms, patterns, harmonies while keeping the melody clear. Both versions required the same thing-balance.

I have said this before, but the only time my brain is calm is while I am playing the piano. Somehow, it provides an inner balance. There is that word again. Outside voices are quieted. Worries of the day temporarily disappear.

Music reminds me that I do not need to raise my voice above the crowds. Although I may have something important to say, unless it is balanced with love for those in hearing range, I should probably remain part of the harmony.

Harmony-that is my prayer for this Christmas. For there to be less shouting and more listening. That we may experience joy amid our sadness. And hope that outweighs our fears. Merry Christmas!

Please enjoy a few Christmas carols! ❤ Kelley Morris, piano

What Child is This?
I Heard the Bells on Christmas Dat
Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Lingering

Impossible to count
The many notes
Played in places
Near and far
On pianos, grand
And ordinary
Yet, in certain
Circumstances
Melodies hang
In the air of
My memories
As if sounding
For the first time…
I remember sitting
At a familiar piano
My hands playing
Precious hymns
Honoring a life-
My Grandma’s-
The music of both
Joy and sorrow
Where each note
Carries its own tear
Easing the grief
While lingering
In the heart

Some faces are no longer present, but their presence remains strong. Such is true of my Grandma Mahar. I smile, remembering the many Christmas Eves spent at her house. And while this poem is not about Christmas, I hope it brings honor to her memory.

Missed My Turn

Have you ever been headed somewhere and driven right past your intended destination? It is a funny feeling. I have done it many times. On my way to work early in the morning, lost in my own thoughts, a little sleepy, and…oops! Just missed my turn.

I had this experience last week on my way to the grocery store. Even deciding which of two possible stores to go to was a challenge. During this pandemic, I use the grocery pickup as much as possible. This day, however, there were no available times.

So, after much back and forth, I chose the store closest to our house. Even though store two is a little better, I am more familiar with the first store. I headed out with a list in hand.

Music is usually playing in my car, even if I am not going far. My choices are predictable. James Taylor is always an option. The Hamilton soundtrack, Need to Breathe, or the Vince Guaraldi Trio is also current favorites.

For some reason, I chose an Apple created list called “Kelley’s Station” for this short drive. I was curious. What songs did they think I would want to hear? The first several songs were old favorites. I smiled and sang along.

Then one popped up on the screen that I did not recognize. I read the title-Best Song Ever by One Direction. Hmmm…it did sound familiar, but not a regular on any of my playlists.

When the music began to play, there was an instant connection. I could see myself standing at the edge of a dance floor. Smiling, I watched my son, Robert, and his wife, Erin, dancing with all of their friends. They were having the best time laughing, singing, dancing, and celebrating!

As the Best Song Ever continued to play, I continued to remember their wedding day. Such a perfect mix of beauty and fun!

In that few moments of reminiscing, I drove right past store number one! Thankfully, the second store was only a few blocks further. At least I was able to listen to the rest of the song! Truthfully, I was kind of glad that I missed my turn. 😉

Uncommon

Snow is not a common occurrence in Oklahoma. The expectation brings a collective holding of breath. Adults become like little children, waking up all hours of the night to see if the snow is falling.

Today is one of those uncommon days. I was awake several times during the night. At first, all was still and quiet. Doubts began to creep in…the forecast was probably wrong anyway. And then I heard something hitting the roof.

A quick look outside brought disappointment…only rain. According to the forecast, it should be changing to snow in another hour or so. I would hold my breath a little longer.

Finally, the transformation from rain to heavy snow began! It didn’t take long for the grass to turn completely white. Snow-tipped evergreens now graced the backyard. And the snowfall looked like it would last forever.

What is it about snow? It has the power to transform the faded colors of winter into a magical wonderland. Snow makes me feel like a child again-at least in my heart. But most of all, it is a reminder that when all feels bleak, the uncommon gives hope.

In the Bleak Midwinter Kelley Morris, piano

Transformation

Moonlight shines on
Snow-covered grass
Afternoon clouds
Long dissolved
Giving stars their
Chance to shine
Pulsing through
The darkness
Feathered birds-
Cheerful melodies
Now quieted-
Nestle peacefully
Inside their nests
While the fox
Ventures out to
Gather food for pups
Sleeping in the den
I am tired, but
The moon shines
Snow is calling-
Do I snuggle in
Like the birds
Or venture out
Like the fox?
Wisdom says
Sleep can wait
Give witness to
The transformation

Musical Legos

I can’t think of too many birthdays or Christmases for our children that did not include Legos of some kind. There were superheroes, Star Wars, dragons, even the Friends coffee house for Rachel last year. Some of the more intricate sets remain on display.  

I remember watching in amazement as they tore through the instruction booklets. It seemed like building times grew shorter as complexity grew harder. Pieces were sorted according to numbered bags, carefully following each step. A sense of accomplishment once each piece was in its place.

Several months ago, I read a story about a new Lego creation-a baby grand piano. The creator’s wife is a pianist, influencing his idea. Amazingly, this piano was to have working parts, gears, Bluetooth-somehow allowing it to actually play music. Even the piano bench would be adjustable-every pianist’s dream!

Casually I mentioned how cool it would be to have that set. Of course, the actual process of building it didn’t enter my mind. I was, however, fascinated with the final outcome.

Yesterday, we had an early birthday celebration for me and our oldest son, Robert. We share a birthday. Our family loves us so well. We each received thoughtful gifts pertaining in some way to our interests.

But I bet you cannot guess what gift I received from my husband. Yep! That grand piano Lego set! I felt like a little kid on Christmas morning. ❤

As I type, my dining room table is covered with bags of tiny pieces-twenty bags. Wait, now there are nineteen bags. With a little help and supervision, I put together the first two bags last night.  😉

This project will challenge my patience and fine motor skills. It will help me explore other areas of creativity, different from my usual. It will be good for my brain. But most of all, it will be good for my heart. Reminding me how much I am loved and that everything really does come full circle-even Legos.

Rock-a-Bye-Baby

My parents rocked me when I was a baby. They sang lullabies, read stories. Made sure I was cared for. I grew up around babies-younger cousins and my brother. I rocked, fed, sang, and played with them. The example had been set for me. When I had my own children, I knew what to do, or at least, where to begin.

Not everyone has that experience. And some that do become so bombarded with the struggles of this life, they forget what is vital. When this happens, the next generation suffers.

Little brains and bodies don’t develop as they should. Gaps are created in connecting, learning, functioning. I see the results of these holes in growth every day. Improvement is possible, but it takes time and focused intention.

And then there are those days…brief moments of light shine through.  A smile, a hug, a lightbulb turning on.  The reason may not always be clear, but the result is cherished.  I wrote the following poem after one of those days. 

Holding on to the hope for more like it in the future. ❤

TOOTHY GRIN

The first time
I saw you
My only thought-
Do you ever smile?
Not even a hint
In your distant
Young eyes
And then one day
A toothy grin
Shone through
Your tough shell
Brief and unsure
But sweetly present
Reminding me
That you are
A child in need of
Reasons to smile
Hoping another
Reason will find
You again soon
Turning that
Toothy grin into
A beaming smile-
Lasting and confident

Beautiful Mix

This afternoon the sun was shining! It has rained steadily for the last four days. My mood instantly changed as soon as I walked outside after school.

On my drive home, I decided to listen to one of the “created for you” playlists on iTunes. No surprise, the very first song was by James Taylor-Angels of Fenway. As you might guess, it is a song about baseball, life, family, never giving up. The melody is happy, the music energetic.  

How is it then that two simple phrases from this song instantly caused me to choke back tears? Again, the song is about baseball! Yet, here I was, driving down the highway, about to cry.

What were those phrases?

Grandma watched from her hospital bed.

It doesn’t feel like a long time ago.

Now, I don’t recall ever discussing baseball with my Grandma Mahar. But I did spend a lot of time with her growing up. She and my Grandpa lived next door.  

Grandma did not have much formal education. She took care of her parents. She also married young and raised nine children. But Grandma loved to read! It seemed like she could discuss anything. Her set of Encyclopedia Britannica was the Google of my childhood. And the bookshelves in her laundry room were always full.

Today, when I heard that first line, an image popped into my head. 

It was my Grandma sitting up in her own hospital bed. She had suffered a stroke. But on this occasion, her bed had been rolled out into a waiting area. And she was surrounded by her kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids.

It’s funny how some details are forgotten. I’m not exactly sure what occasion we were celebrating. But I know we were celebrating Grandma. ❤

The second line gave me a different thought. So many years have passed. Oh, how I would love to have one more visit. So many questions I would ask. So many things I would write down.  

My heart is grateful for the memories of my Grandma. And thankful for the beautiful mix of words and music that brought them to the forefront of my mind today while driving home in the warm sunshine.