Summer Anthems!

Summer Anthems

My husband recently downloaded a neat, new play list on my iPod that I listen to on my early morning walks or while I work in my yard.  Each song seems to remind me of some of the fun adventures we’ve enjoyed with friends and family this summer.  It got me thinking–if your summer had a theme song…..what would it be?

Summer Anthems!

“Summertime is always the best of what might be!”  Charles Bowden

The Songs Of Summer!

Summer seems to embody all the simple pleasures of life that we love so much, and like a great song…..we find as it nears its end, we want to play it all over again on a shuffle repeat!  Summer anthems don’t necessarily need to be about summer; I just like ones that inspire our carefree, adventurous spirits!

Musical note ear buds.

“Like a lyric to a favorite song, you stay with me all day long.  And when I get to the end, I wanna hear it again!”  Toby Mac

Here are a few of the songs that describe my summer…..

◊ Vegetable CarJoshua Radin (Listen here.)

Summer Anthems!

This song summons up my love of visiting all the quaint farmer’s markets around my hometown; one of my very favorite summer past times!

Utah Farmer's Markets.

“She drives a vegetable car.  Diesel Mercedes, green two door, Lisa Loeb glasses…..I do wish that you’d ask me to ride along.”

Lyrics “Vegetable Car” by Joshua Radin

◊ Ramblin’ Man:  The Allman Brothers Band (Listen here.)

Adventures await... www.mytributejournal.com

I think we all love to travel and see new places during the summer.  The classic song “Ramblin’ Man” by the Allman Brothers Band, speaks to the carefree spirit in all of us.  My son seems to have been born with an extra dose of wanderlust, and we have enjoyed some amazing journeys with him!  Luckily, his wife and little boy are always up for some fun adventures with him too!

Summer adventrues.

“Lord I was born a ramblin’ man, trying to make a living and doing the best I can.  And when it’s time for leavin’, I hope you’ll understand…..that I was born a ramblin’ man.”

 Lyrics “Ramblin’ Man” by The Allman Brothers Band

◊  A Summer Song:  Chad and Jeremy (Listen here.)

Summer ahead sign.

I’m dating myself a bit with this iconic summer song–but if there ever was a summer anthem for the magical summers of my youth…this song is it!  Now I get the pleasure of enjoying wonderful summer days with a little bit different perspective as I experience so many of them through the curious and fanciful eyes of my grandchildren!

Summer adventures.

“Trees swaying in the summer breeze, showing off their sliver leaves as we walked by.  Soft kisses on a summer’s day, laughing all our cares away…..just you and I.”

Lyrics “A Summer Song” by Chad and Jeremy

◊  Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days Of Summer:   Nat King Cole (Listen here.)

Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer.

It’s a bit ironic that I remember my mom often singing this song under her breath as she had me help her do yard work and other chores during the summer months when I was growing up.  She’d just wink when I’d asked why we weren’t actually being lazy!  It took becoming a parent with a home and family of my own to fully realize that just like any other time of year, it’s important to find a good balance between work and play.  Truth be told, I don’t think there’s ever a shortage of some lazy, hazy and indeed crazy days during the summer!

Those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer…..you’ll wish that summer could always be here!”

Lyrics Those Crazy Hazy Lazy Days of Summer” by Nat King Cole

◊ Saturday In The Park:  Chicago (Listen here.)

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This song is the ultimate summer party song by one of my all-time favorite groups.  Being able to watch my two older granddaughters play their violins at fun musical concerts in so many beautiful parks, just adds to my love of this summer anthem!

Summer concert in the park.

“Saturday in the park, where every day’s the fourth of July.  People talking, really smiling; a man playing guitar and singing for us all…..and I’ve been waiting such a long time for today.”

Lyrics “Saturday In The Park” by Chicago 

◊  A Little More Summertime:  Jason Aldean (Listen here.)

Endless Summer sign.

Every season seems to create its own nostalgia as it starts to wind down, but I always seem to lament every year about the end of summer coming too fast.  My sensible hubby is quick to remind me that too much of a good thing makes it so it’s not as special.  Still, at summer’s end, I can’t help but wish that there were just a few more weeks left…then I remember everything I love about the other neat times of the year and the great songs I associate with them!

A little more summertime!

“If the sun would have just hung up in that sky just a little bit longer; if the blue waves could’ve stayed at our feet on the beach instead of going out with the tide…..if only I had a little more summertime.”

Lyrics “A Little More Summertime” by Jason Aldean

It’s hard to believe that there’s only about a month of summer left–I hope it’s spectacular for everyone and full of all the wonderful things that make the best memories…and that they linger through the winter months to come!

Summertime!

“One must maintain a little bit of summer…..even in the middle of winter!”  Henry David Thoreau

I’d love to know if there’s a particular song that reminds you of happy summer days whenever you hear it?

 –Mary

American Patriotism: Getting Back To The Basics!

American Patriotism: Getting Back To The Basics!

There’s nothing I love more than seeing flags waving in a summer breeze, military personnel, both past and present, being honored, parades and family gatherings.

American Patriotism: Getting Back To The Basics!

“Patriotism is not a short and frenzied outburst of emotion, but a tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.”  Adlai Stevenson

As patriotic, American citizens, we have a deep and abiding love for this great country.  We know America isn’t perfect–but we love it all the same.  How then, can we live every day in such a way that shows our gratitude for the freedoms we enjoy and contribute to our nation’s success?

Everyday Patriotism!

Real patriotism doesn’t mean we have to wait for a holiday or a special event to show our pride in America; it doesn’t require a red, white and blue dress code or fireworks.  Patriotism, in its truest form, should be discernible in our everyday actions…by the way we speak and in the things we do!

  • Study America’s History!

Learning about American history and what made us the strong, independent country that we are should be an ongoing venture.  I was lucky enough to have parents who discussed historical and current events at the dinner table and more often than not, they talked about political leaders with respect, even if they didn’t necessarily agree with their viewpoints.

There are so many amazing books dedicated to celebrating the American spirit and crucial turning points in our world’s history; read them together as a family.  (See some of my favorite picks here.)   My daughter recently introduced me to a new innovative book series by Lauren Tarshis called “I Survived” –about historical stories that are told through the eyes of boys and girls who lived to share their tales.  My two older granddaughter’s were quick to tell me how much they love these books.

I Survived book series

My husband and I recently watched a television program where a young girl shared the history behind the Gettysburg Address  by Abraham Lincoln, then she recited it in its entirety–watching her do this, inspired us to learn it too.  Doing things like this can’t help but make the rich history of the United States become more meaningful!

Gettysburg address by Abraham Lincoln.

Also, if you want to keep up to date with a brief overview of daily news headlines without all the usual political spin, I like the iPhone App Skimm.

  • Support Your Community!

Our local communities are obviously the most real and important part of America to us as average citizens, so it makes sense that getting involved in our hometowns and neighborhoods is a good place to start when trying to find ways to be active and contributing members of society.  At the very least, we can work to earn a good living to support our families, maintain our homes, and raise responsible children who recognize the many privileges that they are afforded by the cooperative efforts of the their city’s elected leaders and concerned local residents.

I always treasure the opportunity I have to engage in the voting process; attending caucus meetings gives you the opportunity to advocate, lobby and learn more about the candidates up for election and helps you make better decisions on the issues you feel will best support the overall well-being of your community.  In addition to elected officials, showing respect for police officers, firemen and others who put their lives at risk for the sake of their communities is something we should all be happy and willing to do.

Voting is a patriotic privilege.

“My vote is my voice…and the voice of all those who struggled before me so that I may have my voice.”  Lydia C. Obasi

I also found that volunteering and helping out at the schools my children attended was a good way to not only help their teachers, but stay informed about the curriculum being taught and how my husband and I could add to their learning experience.

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  • Work Hard, Serve Others!

Whenever my father would share stories about his parents, he always spoke about them and their tremendous work ethic with the highest regard.  As young immigrants from Norway, they had the utmost appreciation for a land that allowed them the freedoms to establish a family farm and business during the great depression of the 1930’s.  Despite their own meager circumstance at times, they were always quick to lend a helping hand to others in need and offered food and jobs when needed.

Early pioneer farm life.

“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but we can work to change a small portion of events, and the total of all those acts will be written in the history of that generation.”   Robert Kennedy

My parents also worked hard to provide a wonderful life for our family, while making sure that each of their children had a good education and were self-reliant.  It’s rewarding for me and my husband, as well, to see our hard work pay off as our son and two daughter’s work to achieve their goals and dreams in this great land of opportunity.

  • Above All…Be Kind!

American patriotism, at its best, is understanding that we are a melting pot, so to speak, of many ideas, cultures and concepts…let’s celebrate them by being kind.  Kindness is an expression of caring…even the smallest act or deed done for another person can make a life-changing difference.  The ripple effect of kindness is unity despite diversity, and a genuine desire to share what we have with others while being grateful for the opportunities we have to learn from one another.

When my husband and I first saw the video below about Preston Sharp, a young boy aptly known as “A Pied Piper Of Patriotism” –it reminded us once again, of just how far reaching a simple act of kindness can truly be:             

I hope our American patriotism may be seen as a chance for us to show kindness!

American Patriotism: Getting Back To The Basics!

“True independence and freedom can only exist in doing what’s right.”  Brigham Young

May we each live so that we are always a blessing to America!

Please share how you would describe true American patriotism.

 –Mary 

Leather Chair Reading! Fun And Thoughtful Summer Books!

Leather Chair Reading!  Fun And Thoughtful Summer Books!

As you scan the big, wide, wonderful world of the internet, it won’t take you long to realize that summer book lists are a dime a dozen.  That being said, I’m a huge proponent of checking out anything that gets us interested in taking a break from social media to actually opening up what we each consider a good “read-worthy” book.  Here’s a few I’ve read lately that I know will have you glad you took the time to curl up in a comfy, secluded corner somewhere to get lost in the entertaining wonders of the written word!

Leather Chair Reading! International Children's Book Day! www.mytributejournal.com

 “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need!”  Tribute Journal

Tribute Journal’s Summer Book List!

Short: by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Short: by Holly Goldberg Sloan

“Unexpected things happen when you are young that change you…or maybe a better way to say this is, unexpected things happen when you are young that shape you.”  Holly Goldberg Sloan

This fun novel was a recent pick for a book club I attend…and boy, did I ever love every entertaining, laugh out-loud moment it provided!  This delightful book was inspired by the author’s own experiences of being the shortest girl in her class throughout her elementary grade school years, as well as her adventures of playing a Munchkin in summer theater production of “The Wizard Of Oz”.

The endearing story of “Short” is told through the matter-of-fact, pre-teen eyes of Julia Marks.  Discouraged about her lack of stature and grieving the loss of her beloved dog, Ramon, Julia isn’t looking forward to her summer.  To make matters worse, her mother signs her and her younger brother up to audition for a semi-professional community theater production of the “Wizard Of Oz” …and what does she get cast as?  That’s right, a munchkin!  During the course of the nearly daily rehearsals, Julia is introduced to the world of theater and the quirky cast of characters who make a lasting impact on her young life.

I grew a lot this summer.  Not on the outside, but on the inside.  And that’s the only place where growing really matters.

Julia Marks in “Short” by Holly Goldberg Sloan   

Aside from the ever charming character of Julia, I loved Julia’s neighbor, Mrs. Chang, a former prima ballerina, who Julia has no trouble convincing to become involved in the theater production as costume designer extraordinaire; she is a kick and even though she’s well into her 70’s, she eventually talks the eccentric director of the play into letting her and Julia be some of the flying monkeys who are strapped into make-shift harnesses as they fly across the stage in what becomes a highlight of the play.  Another subtle, yet wonderful relationship development that takes place in this book, is the new-found respect Julia finds for the tireless efforts of her mother as she starts to realize how much her mom just wants what’s best for her family…any mother can certainly relate to that plot line!!

I smile at mom and tell her something I’ve wanted to say all summer.  “Thanks, mom.  Thanks for making me try out for this play.”  I think I might have made being a mother totally worthwhile for her.  I will never forget the look on her face…mom has tears in her eyes and she’s smiling.  It’s an amazing look.  I have to remember how powerful it can be to say thank you.  Especially to the people you live with.  They probably least expect it.

As an adult, I dearly loved this book, and my two older granddaughters are also enjoying it as we read it together this summer.

The Rent Collector: by Camron Wright

Rent Collector quotes.

“Just when we think we have our own stories figured out, heroes arise in the most unexpected places.”  Camron Wright 

My husband gave me this beautifully written book as a gift this past Christmas.  My sister-in-law, who is an avid reader, suggested it as a “must read” when he inquired about a good book he could give me…and indeed “The Rent Collector” is  a mesmerizing book to read!

Typically, when an amazing story is discovered in a wonderful book and gains public acclaim, it might eventually be made into a movie.  In the case of “The Rent Collector” –it was a documentary film made by the author’s son while he attended film school, that inspired Camron Wright to make the characters come to life on the written page.  (You can read more about the documentary film here.)   

Sang Ly in the book The Rent Collector.

(Sang Ly with her husband and son via “River of Victory”)

The story is set in Cambodia just after the decline of the communist Khmer Rouge regime.  The two main characters, Sang Ly and her husband Ki Lim, live in Stung Meanchey, the largest municipal waste dump in Cambodia.  Day to day life is hard enough when you have to make a living scavenging through the trash for recyclable, without the extra worry for their chronically ill child, Nisay, and the added expense of the medicines that don’t seem to be working.  Although this story line may sound grim, the author’s eloquent message throughout the book is one of hope, determination and redemption.  Sang Li’s quest to save her son’s life takes an unusual turn when she finds out that the ill-tempered woman, Sopeap Sin, who collects their rent, has a secret that could eventually help Sang Li save her son.

As stated on the cover of this book:

The Rent Collector powerfully illustrates how anyone can quite literally “rise from the ashes” so to speak, in the most unlikely of places.

I read about an interview Mr. Wright gave when “The Rent Collector” was first published, where he states that hope is sort of an innate thing that we should all hold on to in our hearts…

Things get terrible and things get bad, but we always look to better times; I think that is how we should always live no matter our circumstances.

I guarantee that this book will have a powerful impact on how you view your own life and how you choose to resolve the challenges you face.

Choices That Change Lives: by Hal Urban

Choices That Change Lives by Hal Urban

“Our lives are the direct result of our choices, and the most important choices we make become our character traits…the ones that lead to fulfillment and peace of mind.”  Hal Urban 

This book is a follow-up to Hal Urban’s best seller and one of my very favorite books, “Life’s Greatest Lessons: 20 Things That Matter Most”.  (You can read my journal entry on that book here.)  Hal Urban’s books are so joyful to read; he has the rare ability to entertain and enlighten without getting preachy.  As a former high school teacher, college professor, and single father who raised three sons, his stories are insightful and the wisdom he’s gained through his own process of self-evolvement can’t help but inspire you to more fully develop your capacity to live a rich and rewarding life.  I keep both these books handy so I can use them as a ready reference for those times when I find myself in need of a little extra “food for the soul” –so to speak!

Hal Urban quote: We live by choice, not by chance."

In the introduction of this book,  Mr. Urban recalls that all too often in his travels, he found that people were intrigued with the concept that he’d mentioned in his previous book…

I recall vividly that while on a media tour for my book, “Life’s Greatest Lessons: 20 Things That Matter Most” –all every radio or TV host wanted to talk about was the chapter on making choices…you would have thought that I’d made some startling discovery that was going to dramatically change millions of lives.  But the truth is, choices have been around for as long as mankind.  It’s truly amazing how many people are either unaware, or forget, that they’re making choices all the time–little ones that are fairly unimportant, and big ones that can change our lives for good or for bad.  This book is about some of those big choices.

When I first read this book, I just picked out the chapters with the characteristics and choices I thought I needed to work on the most–I mean who doesn’t need to take a good close look at being more humble, patient, kind and courageous…right?  However, when I picked up the book again and reread it from front to back, it dawned on me that so many choices we make in life are interrelated and applied simultaneously as we strive to live our best lives.

The advice given at the end of the book is one of the key reasons why I love Hal Urban’s observations and astute insights into everyday life.  He says:

While reading this book, you may be thinking the same thing I was thinking while writing it.  What person could possibly practice all these qualities and virtues every day?  I thought of two who probably did–Albert Schweitzer and Mother Teresa.  The world doesn’t produce a lot of people like these two Nobel Peace Prize winners, but it does produce a lot of regular people like you and me who want to grow, who want to be the best persons we can be, and who want to lead lives of joy.

I hope you are all having the best summer, full of all the things you love–I also hope it includes a good book or two!  My cute dad, who always seemed to have a book in his hand, loved this quote…Ralph Waldo Emerson quote on reading.With this thought in mind, I’d love to know of any good books you’ve read lately or are reading now that have made an impact on your life.

–Here’s to happy summer days and good reading!  Mary