The Greatest Thing You’ll Ever Learn is Just to Love and Be Loved in Return

The first tape I ever bought was Nat King Cole’s Greatest Hits. Natalie Cole had just released the song with her father called Unforgettable.  It was my favorite song at the moment.  I liked love songs back then. I liked old AMC movies about love. Especially the black and white movies like Roman Holiday or any of the kodachrome Elvis movies or anything with Cary Grant. I liked everything to do with love. I was a typical young girl full of heart and dreams. So, I went to the store when I was maybe 12 in 7th grade and I bought Nat King Cole’s tape.  I still can recall that day at the mall store.    

I learned every love song on that tape, laying on my bed with my Walkman and listening to the songs with my eyes closed and smiling.  His songs were so happy and promising and full of optimism. I played the tape over and over and over again.  I wore that tape out.  His voice was amazing.  The songs I loved the best were Walking My Baby Back Home and L-O-V-E.  A lot of people today reference Nat King Cole and probably don’t even realize it.  The phrase “to love and be loved” comes from a little known song from Nat King Cole called Nature Boy.  It actually goes like this…. “the greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”  This song is also in the movie, Moulin Rouge. 

There’s an urban legend story about Nat King Cole’s wife.  Some say it is true.  Some say it is not.  Here is the story, irregardless.  This woulda been in the year 1965:

“An African-American woman is stranded on an Alabama Highway in a rain storm. She flags down a motorist who turns out to be a white man who takes her to where she can get a cab. She’s in a big hurry, writes down his address, and leaves. A week later, there is a knock at the man’s door. It’s the delivery of a giant console color television with a note from the woman he had helped on the rainy highway. She thanks him and says that because of his kindness, she was able to make it to her dying husband’s bedside. It is signed Mrs. Nat King Cole.”

There are other firsts in my life for different types of music playing.  The first 8-track tape I ever remember hearing when I was a little girl in the 80s dancing at my grandma’s house with my cousins was the Beegees.  I remember dancing to Stayin’ Alive.  It was a very happy moment. I must have been four or five.

My mother had a record player and to this day it is in her attic.  We only had three records we would play over and over again.  They were Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Joan Jett’s I Love Rock and Roll, and then Olivia Newton John.  I can’t remember the specific album from Olivia Newton John but I remember her singing I Honestly Love You. My mother liked her a lot.

My first CD, well, that was Wrecks n Effect or maybe Guns n Roses Appetite for Destruction.  To this day, Sweet Child of Mine is still one of my favorites. 

Once streaming came on board, it was pretty easy to access all sorts of songs and I honestly can’t remember what were my first ones then.  But I remember the tape of Nat King Cole the most of all. 

How about you?  What are your fondest memories of music?  What was your first 8-track or your first tape or CD?  What songs meant the most to you as a kid? 


Virtually Kiss the Blarney Stone

St. Patrick’s Day is fast approaching! This is a wonderful holiday full of cheer and good tidings. I love the Irish blessings I see passed around every year on Facebook. Here is mine for you:

Since you are a writer, a poet, a blogger, an artist, a musician, or a dreamer perhaps….here are some pictures of the Blarney Castle for you. It is said that if you kiss a certain rock while hanging upside down at the top of the castle…you will be gifted with the finest eloquence the world has ever seen! Here’s to you and yours this wondrous St. Paddy’s Day. May you have love and laughter all the days of your lucky life.

I know I include music quite often in my blog…perhaps too much but I play this song often for my children in the car. It reminds me of an old Irish blessing. It was played for me on the day I graduated high school. This song has a special place in my heart from that day. I intend to play it for my son and daughter the day they graduate from high school too some day. Listen to it and have a wonderful St. Paddy’s Day!

E Pluribus Unum

This was the official motto of the original 13 colonies during the American Revolution. It was proposed in 1776 by three men to become the Great Seal motto. These men were Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. Later on, this saying would be replaced in the 1950s by the words, “In God we trust.” I’m not sure where the Latin phrase for “E Pluribus Unum” originated. It really reminds me of the phrase of the French Four Musketeers. That phrase was “All for one, one for all.”

E pluribus unum simply means “out of many, there is one.” It means we stand together as a union, in good times and bad, in sickness and in health, through tragedy and through celebration. We recognize our unique qualities and diversity yet also lean on our human bond as together we pursue life, liberty, and happiness. This is not a revolutionary idea. It is a motto for all friendships and relationships and it’s loyalty is the fundamental cornerstone of our foundations in life and as a nation.

We need to bring back this motto.

New Music Suggestions from Facebook Friends

This morning, I asked my Facebook friends to tell me their new favorite songs/albums/or singers. I told them I like a diverse mix of music. Kindly, about ten friends replied with these great suggestions. I’ve been spending this evening going through each suggestion as a mini concert at home. I’m delighted by the songs they shared. Quite a few are Christian songs, probably because it is Sunday. Here are some from the list:

  1. “Here with Me” (sung by Jason Upton).
  2. “Stones” (sung by Kim Walker Smith).
  3. The “We Like it Here” album by Snarky Puppy.
  4. “You Can’t Stop Me” (sung by Andy Mineo).
  5. Any songs by MercyMe.
  6. Any songs by Skillet.
  7. Songs by Hillsong United.
  8. “There was Jesus” (sung by Zach Williams and Dolly Parton).

They were all great. I liked the mix. This one was my personal favorite:

Remind Me

My daughter was born in Hampton Roads, Virginia. Her name is Ella. Another woman named Ella came from Hampton Roads. She was born April 25, 1917 in Newport News.

Ella Fitzgerald.

Just listening to her beautiful voice tonight…….reminds me…..brings me back to those days in lovely Virginia.

Here, listen:

Wishing you and yours a Happy New Year in 2021! May we all be reminded of the wonderful things in life this year.

The Pig Farmer Who Became Rich

I was born in 1978. In the early 80s, I remember being a little girl and going out to western Kansas to visit my uncle and his family on the farm. It was a small farm. I’m not sure what kind of farm it was. I think he might have been a pig farmer. A year or so later, we learned that my uncle had sold the farm. He had cashed in everything to start a business. He said it was a “water filtration business.” He called it the wave of the future.

I remember folks being a little doubtful about this new business idea. After all, it was the 1980s and everyone drank water out of the tap. We reasoned why would someone pay extra money for more expensive water when they could get it practically free out of the tap?

He started the business operation anyway. As the years went by, we would go to visit their family from time to time and I remember seeing his business offices and setup. He had these bizarre looking things he called “water coolers.” He would fill them with blue jugs of water he filtered. He sold them to area businesses for their employees to drink out of. I was a kid. I didn’t pay much more attention to the business other than that.

There were quite a few naysayers as the years progressed and people that thought his business would fail. He kept at it though, year after year, and the small business slowly grew. He added another side to the business of setting up water softeners in people’s homes too. I remember my mom and dad got one he installed. I remember the first shower I had with the softened water and realizing it made my hair so soft.

It was about 1990 when the first bottles of filtered water started showing up at the local convenient stores. I remember looking at them with my friends when I was a kid. We all said, “Nobody is going to buy that!” Why would you buy that when you can just drink out of the tap!”

Fast forward now to 2020 and practically everyone around the world drinks filtered water and the convenient stores are stocked high with filtered water bottles. And my uncle, the one that a lot of people doubted and said wouldn’t make it…….

Well, he’s the wealthiest man I know.

Morale of the story: If you got a vision or idea…don’t listen to the naysayers or doubters. Keep trying. Maybe you got an invention, or a business idea, or a piece of art, or music, or writing……maybe you got a film idea, etc. Keep trying.

Who knows…..your idea might change the world.

You might succeed or you might fall flat on your face and fail miserably. But, at least you were brave enough to dare. Brave enough to try. And there are a whole lot of people out there that cannot say they even tried. People who live with regrets.

Try. Just try.

The Little Things

If anything, the pandemic has taught you to enjoy the little things. The parks are closed. The theaters are closed. Amusement parks and various forms of entertainment either closed or very restricted. You can’t really travel much. It’s a pain to go to the grocery store now. You’d rather just stay home. Thank god for the internet, right? It is nice to still feel some human connection as you toodle away on your computer looking at endless hours of YouTube video tutorials or maybe watch Netflix movies…..or rather…. the previews to the movies.

Does anyone else do this? You decide to watch a Netflix movie but you can’t really decide for sure which one and you know Netflix films kinda have either a hit or miss ratio……so you scour over endless previews searching for just the right and perfect one. Then, after about fifteen to twenty minutes, you hopelessly give up and switch over to regular cable. You wonder if you are the only one who does this?

So, anyway, back on topic…..enjoy the little things lately. Things like buying a parakeet at the local pet store to keep you company and speculating over whether to call him Sugar Ray, Steve Miller, or your son decides on the name Paco which means in Spanish the word “free.” And, you think to yourself of the Lynrd Skynrd song “Freebird.” Yes, Paco it is. Paco it shall be. Welcome to the family, Paco.

You don’t go out much anymore. Besides, it would be smart to save your earnings…you never know what might happen coming up. The local high school football game gets cancelled cause you hear the other team has half their kids in quarantine for COVID. Then, there’s your co-worker and his wife from work. Their whole family is in lockdown quarantine for having COVID. You heard he had trouble breathing for three days and you worry about them.


You realize you’re damn lucky to still be here…….to spend your evenings listening to endless hours of Def Leppard or Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin on YouTube. You love to watch the animal videos too. Can’t get enough of the funny cute stuff on social media and the endless corny memes.

You’ve gotten used to the solitude on the weekends. You’re not only enjoying the solitude now….you are extremely grateful for just the opportunity to have it.

So, crack open your favorite drink….whatever it may be. Find some goofy pick a card tarot reading or perhaps a makeup tutorial on how to overline your lips so you too can look like them sexy models (at least at home….your 65 year old mother would still get upset with you if you posted a sexy selfie on social media. Some things never change even during a pandemic.)

Find something at home to make you smile, to make you laugh, to make you feel alive, to make you truly grateful for being here in this moment on this circling planet.

Damn you, COVID. Damn you for what you’ve done to so many heartbroken families. Damn you for your cruelty and brokenness.

But thank you too, COVID. Thank you for making us realize we need to hug and cherish our loved ones as much as possible in this brief time we have here. Thank you for making us finally appreciate all those little, little things.


I had to write a 2-3 page scene for a class. I wrote the following piece. It is around the beginning section of a LGBTQ romance/drama.

Skylar sat on the end of the factory truck loading dock at 10:00 am.  She had fifteen minutes to relax after two hours of welding.  She yawned and rubbed her slightly red eyes.  She had wanted to go back home an hour ago. It had been a long morning thus far already.  The minutes seemed to drag on till break.  She needed a little time alone. 

The railroad tracks across the way behind the high fence were empty.  She was relieved that no trains were going through at her break time.  They always made such a racket, blaring the train whistles and braking through town, screeching metal upon metal.  She picked a spot on the dock ledge where her feet could dangle and she could rest them a bit from working on the hard concrete floors. 

She wore faded blue jeans and a Lynrd Skynrd shirt with a cruddy hoodie jacket.  Her brunette hair was tucked under her dad’s beat up old Chevy hat with the netting on the back.  It was cold outside and the breeze hit her straight in the face.  She shivered. 

So, she reached back and put her hoodie up over her ball cap.  Then she dug into her right pocket pulling out a Marlboro Lights short pack.  In her left pocket, she searched for a lighter and came up with one.  She pulled it out and looked at it briefly.  It said Duck Dynasty.  It was one of her dad’s lighters she got off the counter earlier. 

She pulled a cigarette out and bent over away from the wind to light it.  She puffed once and exhaled long while glancing at the tracks again.  She looked over the empty gravel parking lot, the dumpsters to the left and to the right, the commercial district street, and the cruddy cars of the manufacturing plant across the way.  The metal overhang to the truck dock gave her a little shelter but she eyed the damn pigeons fluttering around in the lofty corner with suspicion. 

“Don’t poop on me, you jerks,” she said under her breath.   

She fiddled then with her music.  She popped the headphones out of the jack since no one was around, and turned up the volume on her phone.  She flipped through her playlist and settled on Al Green’s So Tire d of Being Alone and set it to play.  The melancholy melody flowed out from the phone and seemed to match the grey sky above.  She loved his voice, always had.  When she was younger, she would listen to Let’s Stay Together on repeat.  When she got a little older though she found this song more relatable.    

She took another drag on her cigarette and flicked the ash off the end towards the empty grate in front of her below.  The music lyrics filled the air around her.

I’m so tired of being alone

I’m so tired of on-my-own

Won’t you help me girl

Soon as you can

She was taking a few more draws from her cigarette and thinking to herself how she really needed to quit smoking again when the thick metal side door behind her opened loudly and closed.  She immediately turned down the volume on her music.  Then she looked back over her shoulder to whomever had come out of the side door.  It was the new gal from fabrication, one of the new hires from last week.  She was named Pam or something.  Great Skylar thought to herself and looked forward slightly rolling her eyes and pursing her lips.  She looked back at Pam over her shoulder.

“Hey” she said.  “Whatchu doin’?” 

She motioned for Pam to come over if she wanted but Skylar kinda hoped the girl would just go away.  She probably had ten more minutes to her break.  She sure as hell didn’t want to spend her free time with a newbie.  Skylar looked forward, took a drag a little self-consciously, and slowly exhaled this one with her cheeks puffed out. 

“I saw you came out here.”  Pam began.  “Can I join you?”  She asked hesitantly and unsure of herself.

Skylar felt a slight twinge of compassion and said, “Sure.” 

Pam came over to the ledge and sat some three or four feet away.  Skylar reached into her pocket and got the pack of cigarettes and offered Pam one.  She knew full well Pam would probably refuse.  And she was not surprised when Pam shook her head to say no.    

“No, thanks,” said the new girl. 

Pam got down on the ledge and let her feet dangle too like Skylar’s.  She watched Skylar sway them back and forth just a little and she did the same.  Pam looked around the dock and didn’t know exactly what to do next. 

They didn’t really speak much at first.  Eventually feeling awkward, Skylar picked up her phone and started scrolling through her Facebook feed.   

“Why do you smoke?” Pam asked curiously.

Skylar took a drag on the diminishing cigarette.  She looked at it and sorta shrugged. 

“I picked up smoking a few years ago.  At first, I just was looking to fit in at the factory.  But over time, well, hell, I guess I’m addicted now.”  And she shrugged and looked at Pam under the brim of her ball cap. 

“Yeah, it’s not good for you,” said Pam almost under her breath.

“Yeah, I know.”  Replied Skylar and smoked again slowly.  I don’t really care, she thought to herself.  

Just then, the train whistles began blowing loudly from far off to the right and soon the train was thundering loudly across the tracks in front of them.  They both looked in the direction of the incoming train.

Damn train Skylar thought. 

“It’s so loud,” said Pam. 

“Yeah, we’re right next to the track,” yelled Skylar over the noise.   “Sometimes the trains come rushing through here and sometimes they hit the brakes so hard it makes you wonder if the train’s gonna come through the factory or something.  They are noisy for sure but I kinda like ‘em too.  They remind me of an old Johnny Cash song.  You ever hear Folsom Prison Blues?

“Nah, never heard it,” said Pam. 

Skylar smiled at her under the bill of her hat.  “You should listen to it.  It’s a good song.  I like Johnny Cash.  Another good one is One Piece at a Time.  You’d like that one too.  Sunday Morning Coming Down or A Boy Named Sue……great songs.”

Skylar kept scrolling through her Facebook feed and Pam sat near her watching the disappearing train to the left screaming its whistle as it went.  Skylar came across a Facebook post that made her smile.  For some reason she decided to share it with Pam.  She reasoned it was probably because there was a lull in the conversation. 

“Check this out.  This little kid here,” and she pointed at the picture in the post of a young boy holding a cat.  “He’s got a cleft lip and one blue eye here.  See?  It reads that he doesn’t fit in at school.  I don’t’ know why…it don’t say.   So, for some reason, he goes to the humane society and here, look…..he finds this cat there with the exact same thing, a cleft lip and one blue eye and they adopt each other and become friends.  Huh,” she said shaking her head and smiling, “What’s the frickin’ coincidence of that?”

And Pam looked at the picture and smiled at it too.

“It’s like…meant to be or something.” Skylar continued and smiled.  

“Do you like Facebook?” Pam asked.

“Yeah, it’s cool…I guess” Skylar said.  “Something to pass the time….speaking of which, it’s time to get back.  We gotta go.”  She flicked the dead cigarette into the grate, tucked her phone and headphones into her pocket, and got up to go back inside.  Pam got up too. 

“I think we’re actually gonna be a little late.” Skylar said.  “My watch says 10:16.  Shit.”  She cursed.

So they hurried to the metal side door and back to the welding shop.  Everybody was in there already working so they got quietly back to work.