Category Archives: Anthems

An Anthem For Adulting

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Welcome to my twice-monthly feature about anthems, the songs that inspire us.  You can listen to the songs on my Spotify playlist, Carry A Watermelon Anthems. New Anthems will be posted here the 1st and 15th of each month (usually…this post is a day late because Summer Brain).

Please welcome Suzie Bichovsky to our playlist.  Suzie and I have been friends for over ten years.   I’m agonizing over how to describe her, so I’m going to say the first thing that came to mind: she is like a piece of baklava – layer upon layer of goodness, a little nutty, very sweet, and always comforting.

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“What we think, we become.” ~ Buddha

Music permeates and seeps into the mind, body, and soul. If we are what we eat, then we must also be what we hear. I use meditation music to get my day started and to get grounded.

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If meditation music slows me down, then my anthem speeds me up. When cleaning, paying bills, jotting quick writes, I turn to Express Yourself  by Diplo featuring Nicky da B. For real.

I was first drawn to this for its beat and a misheard lyric on my part. “Express yourself…release your goal.” (The real lyric is “Release the glow.”) A real lyric I love is “Put your back in it.” This is what I do. I use my voice to express myself and support others in doing so. I step fully into choices that make my goals a reality instead of dreams. I give my all to what I am committed to and passionate about.

When the words drop out and the musical frenzy kicks in, my inner hip hop goddess emerges. My dance moves are epic and private: I’m all head, shoulders, hand movements at the chest level, resting think face. That’s right- Resting. Think. Face. I zone out and get pumped.

I can take on the world!

Or…my to do list.

While it might be expected to have more moments of clarity when tuned into stillness, lively and vibrant beats often reveal inspiration to me.

“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.” ~ Deepak Chopra

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Suzie Bichovsky is a burnout prevention coach, an urban educator, and a professional development provider. She also likes cats. You can find Suzie online at suziebichovsky.com or follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

 

 

 

Don’t forget to follow Carry A Watermelon Anthems on Spotify for  a playlist of additional inspiring songs!

Anthem: Float The River, Forget The Paddles

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Welcome to my twice-monthly feature about anthems, the songs that inspire us.  You can listen to most of the songs on my Spotify playlist, Carry A Watermelon Anthems.  Today’s Anthem isn’t available on Spotify, so please enjoy it by clicking on the links below. New Anthems will be posted here the 1st and 15th of each month. 

Please welcome Kristin Weller to our playlist.  Kristin and I met over a decade ago through the Penn State Lehigh Valley Writing Project. We wrote together in a writing group and the rest is friendship history.  Her writing is full of grace, rhythm, and beautiful details. Enjoy!

 

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Photo: Flickr Commons

As a writer and a teacher, I often find myself stuck upstream without a paddle. The washer leaks all over the place, the telemarketers just can’t get enough, one of the dogs pukes on the carpet – again, and my work-in-progress lays open like a wound ignored. My mind spins and leaks just like my wonky washer. It is times like these when I call upon music to set me back to rights.

I had my first Brother encounter as Musikfest more than a decade ago. That first time, I entered the crowd that was building like a heatwave beneath a white tent. During soundcheck, one of the kilt-clad brothers grabbed his bagpipes and twiddled a partial reel. A pack of red-headed girls let out a riff of shrieks and whoops, a mic squealed. And when the concert really started, we were awash in a wall of sound – beefy bass beating, a vibrating blast from a didg, a halo of harmonic voices unifying.Their sound and artistic energy made a complete circuit with us, their undulating fans.

A few years later, Brother released River. It personifies the struggle with resistance we all encounter at one time or another when we choose to jump into our  passions. Its chorus begins:

When I’ve been asleep so long…so long/I woke up cold…and I… I woke up.

To me it means that even when things go wrong, it only takes a small act, to wake up — to reignite passion and possibility. The chorus concludes with:

If we’re a river, let it flow… and don’t climb out the window, when I’m at your door

which is  a love-note to the self to be brave when opportunity knocks, to trust-fall with intent into passion’s currents.

The paddles are not required.

Just, float.

And, I do.

Special Note: Since Brother is a self-publishing indie band, River is only available through their artist’s website. You can sample River and purchase it here.

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Kristin Weller is a  writer, poet, essayist, and English teacher in the Lehigh Valley area. She facilitates Write Nights,  a community-based writing group for adults which meets every first and third Monday at the Nazareth Center for the Arts from 7-9 PM.

 

Don’t forget to follow Carry A Watermelon Anthems on Spotify for  a playlist of additional inspiring songs!

An Anthem For Runners

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Welcome to my twice-monthly feature about anthems, the songs that inspire us.  You can listen to the songs on my Spotify playlist, Carry A Watermelon Anthems. New Anthems will be posted here the 1st and 15th of each month. 

Please welcome Kathy Clawson to our playlist. I met Kathy via one of my best friends, and I’m so glad she’s in my life.  Kathy is passionate, driven, determined, and  I can only dream of being as organized as her. Enjoy!

 

 

Mom.  Daughter.  Sister.  Friend.  IT Professional.  Athlete?!?  Let me try that last one again.  Athlete!!  Yes, athlete!

To put a finer point on it, I am a runner.  My running resume includes two ultra-marathons, seven marathons and many, many half marathons.  I’m Goofy and Dopey (lingo known by Disney runners).  Yet even with my hallway of racing bling, I still need to often remind myself that I am an athlete.  That’s where My Body by Young the Giant comes in.

My body tells me no

But I won’t quit

Cause I want more

Cause I want more

When I’m struggling to get out the door for the run, this rings in my head.  It reminds me that I’m powerful and strong.  I won’t quit and I absolutely do want more.  Even if the last time I ran was two weeks ago.

When I’m out on a run or in a race, this song never fails to get my feet moving faster.  It makes me pick my head up and put my shoulders back.  It makes me sprint to the end.  How can you not give it your all when… “It’s my road” and “It’s my war”?  No one else is going to run the miles for me.

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Kathy Clawson is a single mom by choice (no more waiting around for Mr. Right), an IT professional and spirited runner.

Don’t forget to follow Carry A Watermelon Anthems on Spotify to hear Kathy’s anthem and a playlist of additional inspiring songs!

An Anthem For Summer

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Welcome to my twice-monthly feature about anthems, the songs that inspire us.  You can listen to the songs on my Spotify playlist, Carry A Watermelon Anthems. New Anthems will be posted here the 1st and 15th of each month. 

It’s time to enjoy summer, relax, and have a good time.  With that in mind, I’m cutting  this post short and simply going to leave it to two wise philosophers from the 1990’s.

Drums, please:

 

Don’t forget to follow Carry A Watermelon Anthems on Spotify to hear this Anthem and a playlist of additional inspiring songs from other posts.

 

 

 

An Anthem For Teachers

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 Welcome to my twice-monthly feature about anthems, the songs that inspire us.  You can listen to the songs on my Spotify playlist, Carry A Watermelon Anthems. New Anthems will be posted here the 1st and 15th of each month. 

Well, this month it’s the 18th because I’m a teacher and it’s mid-June and it was time to…

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Now that all of my scores are in and for the first day in since September, I don’t have a looming deadline (writing or teaching), I can reflect.  I’ve been in the biz for about 17 years and so each year brings different life lessons, different joys, different sorrows, different relationships, different discoveries.

Some years, we expect this:

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Steel Force, Dorney  Park, Allentown, PA. I got stuck on the first hill once for 20 minutes. It was kinda fun.  We got free soda coupons at the end 🙂

 

And often get this:

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Find the article about this sculpture here.

Don’t misunderstand me – I wouldn’t change my experience for anything.  I work at an innovative, amazing school with some of the best people around.  But it was also a very hard year personally, so changing jobs is stressful enough, but add the mix of deaths of three people I love very much and two people I love very much having near-death experiences, it’s been a ride.

Also, I am the teacher who gets hugs and letters and drawings that say, “Thank you so much for pushing me, Ms. Harlen.  You can be hard because you really care about us.”

I wish they’d figured that out a little earlier this year…but the good news is I’ll teach the same students next year.  We’ve all learned from each other; I’m a better teacher and person because of what I’ve learned from them and my colleagues.

So fellow teachers, when you are feeling beat down by  by all the things, stay true to yourself and who you are.

That’s how I got by this year.

I am a teacher with a huge, generous heart, with clear expectations and big dreams for my students.  My general rules:

Be safe, be respectful, and try.

But sometimes, this is a lot for teenagers, especially those working through trauma.  The push-back can be immense, but I know that who I am makes me a damn good teacher.  So the words of a wise 21st century philosopher, “Baby, you were born this way!”  helped me stay the course.

HAPPY SUMMER! HIGH FIVE!

Don’t forget to follow Carry A Watermelon Anthems on Spotify to hear this Anthem and a playlist of additional inspiring songs from other posts.

An Anthem For Creativity

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 Welcome to my twice-monthly feature about anthems, the songs that inspire us.  You can listen to the songs on my Spotify playlist, Carry A Watermelon Anthems. New Anthems will be posted here the 1st and 15th of each month. 

Today, enjoy the anthem of Patricia Florio, author, a founder of The Jersey Shore Writers, and a friend who always makes me smile with her generous spirit.

I’m like most artists who need inspiration, pep talks, allowing the muse to get me out of bed, pushing me from my comfort zone. When I’m in that kind of funk, or too damn lazy to sit down at the computer and WRITE – surely, no one is going to do it for me — a song that seems to work is Tony Bennett singing the lyrics of Once Upon a Time . . . I don’t know why it works. I only know it does.

Once upon a time, a girl with moonlight in her eyes
Put her hand in mine and said she loved me so
But that was once upon a time, very long ago

Many times listening to this song I’m filled with words and music and tears flow down my cheeks. The lyrics and melody has become alive inside me, private and deeply personal.

Tony’s voice seems to soothes me, and I’m inspired to create a fantastic piece of writing, one artist encouraging another. It’s like every cell of my being is electrically charged. And once invigorated by this energy, I can lower the volume and keep it as my background song.

I have written some of my best scenes to these lyrics. Maybe one day this song will inspire someone else to listen.

Once upon a time, the world was sweeter than we knew
Everything was ours; how happy we were then
But, somehow, once upon a time never comes again.

 

IMG_1939Patricia Florio (in the white shirt) loves everything about the arts: theater, opera, film, music, creative writing, composing, painting, dancing and smiles on children’s faces. She is the author of two memoirs: My Two Mothers and Cucina Amelia, My Mother’s Favorite Recipes, and many published short stories All can be found on Amazon.com. She holds an MFA from Wilkes University. 

 

 

Don’t forget to follow Carry A Watermelon Anthems on Spotify to hear Pat’s anthem and a playlist of additional inspiring songs!

 


An Anthem For Love

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 Welcome to my twice-monthly feature about anthems, the songs that inspire us.  You can listen to the songs on my Spotify playlist, Carry A Watermelon Anthems. New Anthems will be posted here the 1st and 15th of each month. 

Today, enjoy the Anthem of my friend, former colleague, and one of the reason I love millennials, Vickie Bartkus.

525,600 minutes, 525,000 moments so dear…

I’ve heard the opening lines to my anthem more times than I can possibly count, but they still trigger goosebumps. This song is home for me, the same way a special quilt or mom’s home cooking is for others. I saw RENT on Broadway for the first time when I was 17 and it changed me. There is something so real, so raw, so unglamorous about that rock opera that spoke to me then and continues to speak to me almost twelve years later.

In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee; in inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife…

How do we measure our lives? Like most people, I know what it’s like to lose someone close to you. So I know we’re only given a few, measly years to share experiences, to build relationships, to blaze our trail. So what’s the ruler with which we measure our success?

I am lucky enough to have the kind of family and friends that love unconditionally, give of themselves often, and hold me up when I’m not strong enough to do so myself. On the days when I’ve struggled the most (and, Lord, have there been some of those), during the times when it’s been black and I could hardly see the light, my seasons of love gave me something to hold onto.

As I enter new phases of my life, I think I’ll keep following Jonathan Larson’s direction: “measure your life in love.” So far, it hasn’t failed me.

 

 

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Vickie Bartkus is  a daughter, a cousin, a niece, a friend, a teacher, and a self-proclaimed bibliophile. Her blood type may be Colombian (a joke her mom likes to make about her coffee addiction), but she’s  convinced her heart beats in time with my favorite songs. Follow her magnificent classroom mojo here.

 

Don’t forget to follow Carry A Watermelon Anthems on Spotify to hear Vickie’s anthem and a playlist of additional inspiring songs!