Living in Love

“The surest way to find God is not to seek Him in time of need, but rather by opening to love. You know, the Apostle John said that. He said: ‘God is love, and anyone who lives in love is living with God and God is living in him.’ “

Reverend John Powell
Loyola University

Met with my dear friend, Margaret, and we had lunch at Cafe Josie, one of my favorite Austin spots. Margaret has been traveling and teaching for many years now, and has decided to end her overseas jaunts and be a force here at home for awhile. It is always exciting to hear about London or India or wherever she has been. Margaret has a very cute nose and sparkling eyes. And interesting jewelry! And whenever I get to sit with Margaret for awhile, I feel at peace because I’m with another woman who is sharing her passion and so we can laugh and cry and rib each other while supporting one another’s visions and hopes. They say it is lonely at the top, but I think that is only true if you have been forgetting the joy of friendship/family on the way “up”. Now that I think about it, instead of trying to get to “the top of the heap”, I guess I’ve always thought of success as spreading OUT and ALONGSIDE … Maybe there needs to be a new phrase. I don’t have a quick idea of what that new phrase could be. I’ll have to put some thought into it. Hmm.

Tuesday night, there was a meeting here at my house with a host of incredible folks. We are in the process of creating a children’s television show, and this, too, has grown out and alongside with a team that has been built through time and patience.

Got up early to catch a flight to Houston, where I was picked up by the effervescent Kelly. She drove me about thirty minutes out to Chapelwood, a school for children that had more play areas than I have ever seen one school have…all nestled within a giant Methodist church. I sang for 350 children, age 3 months to 6 years. We had a ball! And, afterwards, Kelly was thoughtful to have put together a luncheon, so I hung out with the teachers and staff, all women!, and we had a lovely time chatting and laughing. Dancer for the day: Tamara, who hopped right up on the stage and looked like an angel, boogieing all in white pants and top and even white flip flops with giant white cloth flowers between the toes!

Hopped in the car, drove back across town to the airport, just in time! They were calling my name at the gate as boarding was DONE! Ay yi yi!
Whew. Sat down for some shut eye on the flight back to Austin.

Got a call Wednesday night with a request to come and sing for my friend, Veronique, the next morning for a “Today Show” segment, could I come? “We know it’s last minute but it would mean a lot to Veronique (as a surprise)”, they said, so I juggled some things immediately, excited to go see my friend and celebrate her surprise!

Veronique is a woman I have known for, at least, twelve years. We have braved many storms together. From money to men, we’ve supported one another through some tough times. And Veronique had the toughest: she had a double mastectomy about five years ago, and the pain was grueling. We were all shocked when the news was announced because Veronique is one of those women who is all muscle and farm-tan skin
and long hair and bright, shocking blue eyes. She looks like the picture of strength and excellent health. She built her farmhouse. She rode horses. She always spoke out and forcefully. A woman who is happening! I don’t think anyone was more surprised, of course, than Veronique when the news of the cancer came back to her. After the surgery and much, much pain and depression, a little horse came into her world: Toby. And from Toby sprang an idea…Veronique started saving miniature horses, or “minis”, and began taking the horses to rehab, retirement centers and schools to help nurture people. The “Today Show” came down and filmed a piece on her about three years back, and then brought the horses and Veronique up to New York for a segment. It was an exciting time!

So, today, many years later, the tv crew was finishing up a follow up segment they had been working on for three days…and they were planning on surprising Veronique with a visit from Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, who would be bestowing a “Queen for a Day” award upon her! And V’s friends wanted me to come and sing her a song….so, packed up, I headed out to Niederwald, about thirty minutes outside Austin, knowing I had to be back in Austin and pick up Kristin by 10 am to drive the opposite direction, Round Rock, to sing at Dell at 11:30. I had been assured the night before I’d be done by 9:30 so I could head back to Austin….AH… You can just see where this is headed, can’t you?

First, I got lost out in Niederwald, but found my way, finally, to the farm….I hadn’t been out in two years or so…

Got to the farm and was immediately informed the producers didn’t want me to sing because they thought I was showing up for publicity only. (Ok, that hurt, and confused me, since I’d been asked to come out! but I said ok, no problem, I still wanted to give Veronique a hug and a hello
and sing just to her since I had just driven all the way out…)

Found Veronique, who was in a lot of pain, inside her house, with about thirty of her friends/volunteers waiting outside, knowing the Duchess was coming…..and hugged V and consoled her, tears on her cheeks. I could see she was overwhelmed from having the cameras at her home for three days, and she was tired. But she wanted me to come out and get on camera to say sweet things about her children, who I love very much but don’t get to see often, and I was trying to redirect her and say, “No, no, I want to just sit here, quietly with you, sing you a comfort song…” cuz I could see the sound guy from “Today” looking at me and I was trying to not get anyone upset or go against anyone’s wishes without letting Veronique know what all was happening… but next thing I know, Veronique and I are outside in the pen, my heels in mucky poop (ha ha! that’s what I get for dressing for Dell and visiting a farm same morning!) and she is telling everyone I am her dear friend and calling the cameras over and begging me to sing her a song and I am thinking I was just told by a SECOND person affiliated with the show that the producer had NOT wanted me to sing and I was in a quandry because a) I wanted to sing for Veronique b) I was asked to sing for Veronique c) I was here with Veronique and so I sang. Cuddled up next to V on a feeding trough, little horses nudging my arms and legs with V’s tears streaming down her face, all her friends standing around in love and support, and it was so emotional and I was trying not to concentrate on anything but staying balanced on the trough and giving V all the love I could, my voice cracking, trying not to get emotional myself.

Now it was 10:00 a.m., and I kissed V and some friends and ran down the muddy road to my car, where I then sat, quietly, as the Duchess of York passed by outside my car window, leading two minis on leads up the winding path to Veronique’s farm. I was smiling so big. What an amazing gift for Veronique! All the while, I was excitedly relating via cell phone what the Duchess was wearing to Kristin. (I had called to explain why I was now late in picking her up.)

The Duchess’ hair was coppery red, and she was TINY, maybe 5′ 4. She had on black striped tights and a copper raincoat to match her hair, and she was being followed, slowly and at length away, by a giant black limo van, so as the camera crew passed by with Lady Ferguson behind my parked van, I finally was able to start up, back up and head down the road to the paved road which led, many, many miles later, back onto the highway and on to Kristin.

We reached Dell at 11:10, and I would like to thank Annabelle, who hired me, for being so calm and supportive! That show was so much fun…we played in the food court to lots of hungry Dell employees, and Kristin even did an intervention on one gentleman who had his laptop open the whole show. She asked him to relax and shut the dang thing! So he did, and everyone in the lunchroom cheered! Hooray! Also met a great woman named Dawnrita (I hope I got that right) and we talked about WISE, a group of Dell women that I’m looking forward to meeting, who, taking a full circle back to the top of the page, know and love Margaret, who has worked with them all for many years.

Next: left Dell, and I’d like to thank the sky for holding back the rain so we could get to the van!, and took Kristin home, then on to Tequila Mockingbird to drop in on Marty with a hug (and a super conversation on politics), and then down the street to KUT where I taped a radio program for Teresa Ferguson called “Playing Favorites”, in which I got to play DJ for an hour, introducing and spinning songs of my choice. I’ll let you know when that is going to air.

Got up at 5 am and flew to Dallas to perform at “Ray of Sunshine”, an event/fashion show for kids with cancer, and the kids get to be in the fashion show, escorted down the runway by celebrities. These kids are so brave and present, and they had a long day and never complained.
There were makeup/hair stylists to get all the kids looking extra special, and they were dressed to the nines wearing clothes that are bought just for the event!, and there were clowns back stage making wacky balloon hats for everyone, keeping the kids entertained while we waited for the program to start. Imagine, these kids show up around 7 or 8 am, and the event didn’t even start until noon! But there was yummy food and tables and chairs, so folks could sit and relax, too. Let’s see, who was there….um, I don’t know this show, but a lot of adults were excited that the producers of “Prison Break” were there; Emmitt Smith and Roger Staubach and Troy Aichman (sorry if I have those names misspelled!) and Miss Texas and lots of tv/radio personalities and Stephen Baldwin. I escorted a really awesome teenager named Orpha, and by magic, we matched in our attire…a sort of layered t-shirt, skinny pant and high-heeled clogs look. I sat and talked with Orpha and another very nice young lady, and we waited…and waited…whoo, it was a long time coming! I realized, before we went out, that the runway was l-o-n-n-g, and we needed a plan, so I asked Orpha what she thought about carrying some heart shaped balloons out on the runway, and throwing them out to the audience. She like that, so I went over to the clowns, and they made us these cool sticks with five heart shaped balloons each. So, Orpha and I smiled the length of our walk, dropping red and white love along the way. Then, at the finale, I came out and sang “Always a Saint” and then “I Wish You Well” with all the children gathered around me, singing along. It was a love filled way to end the musical aspect of my week. So, thank you to Rhonda for inviting me to be a part of Ray of Sunshine.

Ok. That was my last couple of days! They won’t all be so action packed, this week just happened to be. And the best part is that everyone who has been sick here at home is well, and the days of spring are here, and the rain has turned Austin into a green wonderland, birds all a -twitter and the scent of young grass and heavy Mountain Laurel in the air.

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