Day 31 of 31 Days of Summer Lovin’ 2016: Enjoy!

Thank you to everyone who participated in the 31 Days of Summer Lovin’ Challenge for 2016. It has been a pleasure seeing all of your written and photographic responses to each prompt. The challenge has brought me new friends and new inspirations.

If you enjoyed this challenge and are looking for an August Challenge, head on over to Susannah Conway’s homepage and learn about her August Love 2016 challenge, which starts tomorrow.  She is one of my favorite writers, and I look up to her very much.

I apologize for my lack of participation in this challenge  over the past 3 days. My Internet modem is not functioning, and I’m conserving data on my phone until the next billing cycle. 

However, I have been enjoying life with less technology. It’s more authentic and real. I like to think that my modem crapped out so that I could experience real life, rather than seeing what appears to be real life through a technological device, even if that “real life” is me, just sitting here, writing in solitude.

Come tomorrow, when a technician is scheduled to fix our connectivity issues, I vow to remember that real life is what is important, and that I can get by without wasting so much time scrolling through Facebook or Instagram. 

I hope you continue to follow SoulSEAker, because I look forward to documenting my “mission from the universe” in August, as I will be embarking on a pilgrimage to Dublin. Stay tuned my friend!

Thank you again for following me. I am thankful for you, because YOU are helping me find my voice. 

Have a splendid day, and ENJOY it my friend!

Day 28 of 31 Days of Summer Lovin’ 2016: Baseball

Last week, I went to my third New York Yankees game at Yankee Stadium. They played the San Francisco Giants and lost 2-1 in 12 innings.

The New York Yankees is my favorite MLB team, but I’m not a rival-hating crazy fan. Growing up in New Jersey, the Yankees and the Mets were always on television, and I tended to gravitate towards watching the Yankees. I do remember watching the Mets in the 1986 world series against the Red Sox, and I can clearly picture Game 7 in my mind’s eye. My grandma also liked the Mets and I remember watching games with her.

One of my biggest regrets was never going to Yankee Stadium to see Tino, Jeter, Pettite, Rivera, Posada, Williams, and the rest from that championship era play in action. I did see them all last year at the Yankees home game on August 22 when Posada was honored.

Saturday marked two years in a row I went with my friends M & D to see a Yankees home game, and we agreed this will be a yearly tradition, no matter what.  Perhaps next year we will go to Old Timers’ Day, one of my bucket list items. I’d also love to attend a game in Fenway, at Citi Field, and in Toronto someday. Maybe I’d like to hit every stadium…that might be something to think about!

Anyway, Saturday’s game was hot, but we got used to the heat rather quickly. And we were the smart ones…our cheapo 400-level seats were in the shade under an overhang the entire time, plus we enjoyed a breeze during the whole game. My highlights: getting to see Aroldis Chapman pitch (since he was traded two days later), watching Didi score, seeing Brett Gardner (my favorite), and the grounds crew’s performance to “YMCA.” It was Military Appreciation Day, and there were about 20 young people who took their oath for the US Army right on the field.

The awesome-ist moment: I stumbled upon the last two June “Pins of the Month” in the stadium, which had my favorite character ever on it…Boba Fett!   Can you believe it?!?!? I didn’t even know about this pin before I saw it, and they were honestly the last 2 in the stadium (bought them both, one for my collection and one to wear). I also purchased the Chewbacca July “Pin of the Month” for my collection.

A simple game, a simple day, leaving me with a stronger friendship and wonderful memories.  It doesn’t get any better than that!

I can’t wait to return in August with my two nephews for their first Yankees game….on Star Wars Night! May the force be with the Yankees! I can’t wait to see which Star Wars character will adorn August’s pin of the month!

 

The Signs of a New Direction, Perhaps?

Author’s note: If you know me, you are aware that I’ve been experiencing a year full of “signs from the universe,” so to speak, which is leading me on a pilgrimage to Ireland in August. Today’s post is the latest in the web of signs guiding me to “sea“k my soul; these opened up an entirely new path on that web. Everything is mysteriously connected, and someday I intend to share the whole story. For now, please enjoy this small anecdote from my journey so far…

I started researching my family history yesterday at the local library, mostly because I am interested in learning more about my dad’s father’s heritage. We think there’s Irish somewhere in that lineage. Since I am headed to Dublin, Ireland, next month, I thought I’d see if I could find any ties to locations or to family that might be there. So far, that search has amounted to nothing.

Zilch.

The day, though, did not leave me disappointed.

Rather, it left me invigorated, and perhaps even a little spooked (in a good way).

My dad’s mother, Tillie, was one of 8 children. I thought her parents immigrated together from Russia. I also recall hearing they came from Austria, and they might have come to the USA separately. Various family legends speak of her two older siblings being born here, no…the oldest was born in Austria…no, the two were born abroad, and so on.

Nobody really knows the true story.  I regret never asking any of my grandparents about their heritage when they were still here. (Advice: If you have that chance, do it today before it’s too late).

Yesterday turned out to be an amazing day, as the truth started to reveal itself.

While using the local library’s Ancestry.com account, I search my paternal grandmother’s name and found a record from the 1920 census listing the people in her family. I knew the names of her brothers and sisters (Sam, Helen, Emilie, Michael, Sophie, Vladimir, Alice-she wasn’t born yet for the 1920 census) and that their last name was Gibey, but I never knew the names of her father or mother.

Well, I learned that her parents’ names were Joseph Gyby and Eva (Bybel) Gyby.  Both were born in Galicia.

Galicia?

Where is that? I never heard of it, or at least I don’t recall hearing of it before yesterday (July 25, 2016).

Turns out Galicia is a region in Central Eastern Europe that is between Poland and Ukraine. It was absorbed into Poland (Western Galicia) and Ukraine (Eastern Galicia) during the first half of the 1900’s.

Both Joseph and Eva spoke Russian, according to the 1920 census, and both were 37 years old. That meant they were born sometime in 1883-1884.

They apparently came to the USA separately, Joseph in 1909 and Eva in 1898. The 1920 census states that both Joseph and Eva were naturalized as citizens in 1919, and the spelling of their last name changed to Gibey somewhere along the line.

Just when things were getting good, I ran out of time and had to leave the library.

I have had this eastern European heritage inside me that I never realized, including roots from a country/region that no longer exists! Pretty exciting!

Fast forward to about 6:30 pm.

I picked up a book I am in the middle of reading but didn’t read for a few days. It was a gift from a former student who said it was the best book he ever read: The Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. (Sidebar: When a former student gives me a book, you can bet that I will read it.)

I read about 15 pages, took a break, then started reading Chapter 5, Section 8 on page 139:

“In 1889, Louis and Regina Borgenicht boarded an ocean liner in Hamburg bound for America. Louis was from Galicia, in what was then Poland.”

I stopped in my tracks right there.

Galicia? Again?

Why did I happen to read that particular page on the same day I found out I have ties to this mysterious location named Galicia, that I had never heard of before?

I believe the universe had a hand in this huge “coincidence,”; it’s too uncanny, like so many of the other signs I’ve been experiencing this year.

I put the book down and just sat there, shaking my head in disbelief and in awe.

That was the perfect spot to stop reading for the night, as my brain was getting tired and I didn’t want to uncover a whole new path of discovery while I was fatigued.

But it doesn’t end there…

About thirty minutes later, the Yankees versus Houston Astros game started at Minute Maid Field in Houston.

In the bottom of the first inning, the first Astros player in the lineup was George Springer, who hit a home run on the first pitch he saw from Michael Pineda. I did a double take as I watched the replay: behind him, on the electronic sign behind home plate, the following ad was on screen (and was for the rest of the inning): EVA AIR.

While Springer and subsequent Astros players were at bat, the AIR part was conspicuously covered up, and all that was visible most of the time was EVA.

EVA.

My great grandmother’s name that I never knew before yesterday.

Shivers and tingles and reassurance and pure awesomeness sent from the Universe.

All along, I thought I’d easily uncover a tie to Ireland, but I was mistaken.  While I still might unearth an Irish connection, I am now aware of a new and different path. I am observing and documenting everything, and as Seamus Heaney put it, I will be “digging” to uncover and learn all that I can.

Galicia. Eva.

I can’t wait to go back to the library to see what else I can dig up.

PS: Malcolm Gladwell threw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium on Friday, July 22, 2016. It was Malcolm Gladwell night. Never really heard of him before my student gave me The Outliers, but I am now an avid follower of Mr. Gladwell.

IMG_4065
The Gyby/Gibey Family in 1927: Top: Tillie (my grandmother-also known as Matilda, Tekla), Helen, Sam, Eva (my great-grandmother, maiden name Bybel), Emilie (also known as Millie), Sophie (also known as Cleo). Bottom: Michael, Alice, Joseph (great-grandfather), Vladimir (also known as Laddie/William/Bill). Ironically enough, the name Gibey/Gyby died as none of the males had a son.

 

Day 25 of 31 Days of Summer Lovin’ 2016: Games

P20150113_025Yesterday, I played a lot of games with my nephews H and I. Pictured here is “Paw Patrol.” I always pretend that I don’t know how to play it so they will show me. We are rebels and will make up our own rules about halfway through the game. I lost yesterday.

We also played billiards with their little billiards table (future sharks for sure), Connect Four, and The Lollipop Game, a.k.a. Candy Land. Our other favorite games are matching games and Hungry Hungry Hippos. We also like coloring, playing with cars and anything Star Wars.

Day 20 of 31 Days of Summer Lovin’ 2016: Shell

One of my favorite writers/authors is journalist Bob Greene. During the summer, some of my favorite books make their way into my reading rotation, four of which are by Greene.

One of his books is When We Get To Surf City: A Journey Through America In Pursuit of Rock and Roll, Friendship and Dreams. In a nutshell, the book chronicles his time spent touring with the legendary Jan and Dean and Surf City All Stars during a few summers.

Greene perfectly encapsulated both the idea of holding on to each little piece of summer and the importance of living our life’s best moments. From pages 313-314:

Once someone told me that we should regard the best moments in our lives as pebbles in a jar. The assumption should be that the pebbles are finite – even if we can’t count them by looking into the jar, we should assume that one day they will run out. We should withdraw them with care, one by one, never doing it by rote or distractedly. If we withdraw them too rapidly, we are being greedy, and will hasten the day when they are gone; if we hoard them, if we are miserly in keeping them in the jar, then we will rob ourselves of the experiences the good things should give us.

So it is with summers. If all of life were summer, then our world would have no texture, no context. Summer would not taste the way it does if we thought it would last forever. There’s no perfect way to remove the pebbles, no foolproof timetable. The closest we can come to perfection is to know just how precious those pebbles are, and to value each one.

I know that Jan [Berry] did. More than anyone I think I have ever known, he never took a single one of those pebbles for granted. He withdrew each one of them from life’s jar with gratitude, and with love.

The plane lifted off. Savor every day, every summer night. (Greene, Bob. When We Get To Surf City: A Journey Through America in Pursuit of Rock and Roll, Friendship and Dreams. New York: St. Marten’s Press, 1998.)

When I want to really remember a moment, I will take a seashell or rock from where I am, write the date on it with a Sharpie when I get home, and put it in my seashell memory jar.  In addition to taking the pebbles out and using them, like Greene describes, I also add memories to my jar.

This is My Shell Jar, Full of Memories and Experiences

In my jar are dated treasures from walks with my nephew, a rock from Stonehenge, some pebbles from Ireland, a few shells from Florida and our own beaches, and more. Each one holds a special place in my heart.

I am eternally grateful for the shells and pebbles I have spent, the memories I have collected, and the shells and pebbles left in my jar.

My wish to you is that YOU savor every day and every summer night.  Use a shell, spend a pebble, then replace it with a memory.

Author’s note: This was originally posted in August of 2015. I updated it today, 7/20/16. 

Day 19 of 31 Days of Summer Lovin’ 2016: Music

Four words: RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS

Two more: NEW ALBUM

And two more: THE GETAWAY

The Red Hot Chili Peppers is another band whose music provides a running soundtrack for my life.

Similar to The Cure, each of the RHCP albums has a certain feel to it, a certain vibe, different from the others.

Such is the case with their latest album, The Getaway.

I have two more words to describe The Getaway:

FRIGGIN’ FANTASTIC!!!!

Anthony Keidis, Flea, Chad Smith, and Josh Klinghoffer have created a phenomenal piece of work, and they sound better than they ever have.

I was in a local store when I heard the single “Dark Necessities” for the first time. I literally stopped in my tracks as the song drew me in. “What is that?” I wondered, immediately mesmerized by Keidis’ voice, Flea’s bass riff, Klinghoffer’s guitar, and Smith’s beat.

I bought The Getaway first thing in the morning on June 17, 2016, the day it was released.

The album is a bit different than what you might expect from RHCP. It’s true music, funky and hard and flowing and enlightening, each song with a true meaning, most importantly, performed and sung by true musicians.

During the summer, I usually have a “summer songs” playlist on shuffle for three months, but not this year. The Getaway is on constant rotation, and most likely will be for the remainder of summer.

I’ve listened to it so much I know almost every word to every song. If it were a cassette, I’d need another copy because I would have worn it out already.

The Getaway is what I needed. No pun intended.

Someone asked me what my favorite song was from The Getaway.

All of them.

Literally ALL of them, because each song radiates a different feeling, and together, they complement each other.

I feel like a blathering idiot…I love the album so much, but I cannot explain why.  Clearly, I should not pursue a career as a music reviewer.

Each song speaks to my soul, inspires me, makes me feel human and non-apologetic for being that human.

The Getaway is the spark that is igniting my own creativity, as the songs have been a catalyst for my own writing.

When the RHCP performed with Bruno Mars at the Superbowl Halftime Show in 2014, I loved it. However, society pretty much wrote them off as being washed up has-beens.

If you were a part of that society, step up to the challenge and give The Getaway a listen.  Then please tell me which song spoke to you the most after you admit that you love the album too.

Do yourself a favor. Get The Getaway. Let it be the escape you need, like it is for me.

Artists inspiring other artists.

Thank you, Red Hot Chili Peppers, for speaking to this fellow soldier in this battlefield of life (from This Ticonderoga).

For a more intelligently written review, please visit Galoot’s Loot’s blog here.