Tag Archives: Ray Stevens

Thought-Collage Thursday // Everything is Beautiful

*Everything is beautiful in its own way
Like the starry summer night or a snow-covered winters day

nate dirks quote beauty

If beauty just fades away, are all attempts to rectify it just hopeless endeavors?

I am like, 5-minutes from this particular age I cannot believe I am approaching. Soon I’ll be closer to my 60s than my 40s and when the heck did that happen?

So, I look at my split ends and these lines that just appear like the crackled sands in the Arizona desert around my eyes. My teeth are shifting and my current face shape has morphed into a form completely foreign to me. My metabolism, once so responsive to my outlandish demands, has betrayed me thoroughly.

If I could figure out how to do this aging thing gracefully, I would. But what the heck does that even mean? Does it mean just to go with the flow? I’ve always been too obstinate for that, yet I have never  had the desire to focus al lot of time on my looks or to spend copious amounts of each day fixing all things falling – and I sure don’t have the energy to start now!

But of course I want to be considered beautiful. I mean…Sometime. Before I die.

I would love to have that exotic gorgeousness of a Sophia Loren, or the classic sophistication of a Helen Mirren or a grace-filled quality like Blythe Danner – a beauty that just gets better with age. Granted, they started out very beautiful, but unlike so many women who seem to be chasing youth with plumpers, fillers, surgeon’s knives and soft-focus, there are these certain women, in spite of all the signs of their age, who are only more warmly burnished, more lovely, a beauty radiating from somewhere deep inside. Yeah – that! Please!

I’ve always heard that beauty fades. And that is that. And in our culture, youth = beauty, generally speaking. And now I am careening recklessly in a whole new direction. So what does it mean? Is all lost?

marie stopes quote on pinterest

In a book club, we’re reading Staci Eldredge, Becoming Myself – Embracing God’s Dream of You

Is it any wonder, as I ponder the seemingly unavoidable fading, I keep coming across beauty quotes on Pinterest and thoughts about it in books I am reading?


Staci Eldredge tells the story of a day she had her hair done and it was a good hair day.  She looked in the mirror and knew she looked pretty. Then she put on a “nicer” pair of jeans for a meeting she had coming up, a red top and some earrings. She says in the book it wasn’t her usual look, but she loved it. She was feeling it. Her friend stopped by and told her, “You are inhabiting your beauty!”

She realized that she had worn the jeans before, she’d worn that top, she’d worn the earrings, but something in her spirit had relaxed and she was embracing herself, her own loveliness. She was inhabiting her beauty.

I like that because it really speaks of everything God believes about us – that we are created in His beautiful image. Our part is just to inhabit, embrace our beauty.

Quote found in Becoming Myself: “Since love grows within you, so beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul.” – St. Augustine

In another chapter, she speaks of her type-A, driven mom, who, at 71 discovered how to inhabit her beauty though being ravaged by cancer. “Beauty will come,” Staci encourages us! Her mom began to loosen control and became softer and gentler. Staci says that through it, as her mom actually thanked God for the unexpected diagnosis, calling it the most “awesome, rewarding, and glorious time God has ever given me,” in her mom’s final months, the beauty that was always there began to come forth in her.

What? you mean it’s just hiding in here somewhere?!?  :)

“The Grand Canyon has been carved by water over years beyond counting into one of the most beautiful displays of nature in the world. My face, too, is being etched. My soul is being carved. Forces are at work sculpting me – my life, my views and my beliefs – honing and shaping and changing me. The process is sometimes painful and sometimes unnoticed, but the effect? Oh for the grace to see the effect as beautiful. To be able to see our lives, our bodies, our faces, our souls sculpted by time, our choices and the hand of our relentless, fierce and loving God as beautiful displays.”  -Staci Eldredge, Becoming Myself – Embracing God’s Dream of You

roald dahl quote on pinterestRoald Dahl quote


Diane Keaton book:  Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty


I recently picked up a couple of books by film actress Diane Keaton. She is just fantastic! I love her talent and the subtle, quirky details she brings to the characters she plays. She also directs and produces and SINGS (best part of the recent And So it Goes) and lots of other things.

Stormie says that she and I are Diane Keaton and Mandy Moore in Because I said So, which I think is TOTALLY inaccurate, since I would never traipse about in spiked heels whilst carrying one of my cakes. But I digress.

I didn’t know Diane could write, but she can! And I LOVED these thoughts:

“These old-as-dirt days have one advantage: I’ve learned to see beauty where I never saw it before. But only because my expectations are more realistic. My favorite part of my body is my eyes…because of what they can see. When I was in my twenties and thirties, I wanted my appearance to be more interesting than the beauty that surrounded me. It was a fool’s folly.

On my fifteenth birthday my dad told me I was becoming   pretty young lady. My mom said I had a pretty smile. One of my teacher’s complimented me on my pretty new dress. I was old enough to understand that pretty was a poor cousin to beautiful. Pretty was the stuff of being friendly but not being friends. Pretty was the right dress…Pretty was Sandra Dee, easy and light. Pretty fades. Beautiful was Natalie Wood, deep like the ocean…Beautiful makes you come back for more. It makes you ask questions. It’s vast, unknowable and magnificent. That’s part of its power.

…there is no beauty without pain. Beauty flourishes on sorrow. It’s enriched by the knowledge that life is fleeting, sometimes cruel, and often ends without resolution. That’s what makes beauty deep.”

So, I’ve concluded – I don’t think beauty does fade.

Following my vast  ;)  research on beauty:

Beauty doesn’t fade. Beauty deepens. The first glimpse of a small green tomato on a vine thrills, but doesn’t compare to the complex, intoxicating flavor of the deep red glory of the fruit toward its end. That depth cannot be purchased at the grocery store. Or in a bottle.

Beauty doesn’t fade. Pretty fades.

Pretty gets dull, becomes passé, begins to sag and will fall to the ground despite the use of expensive fixatives.

But beauty, the real stuff of it – the part that began inside anyway and is waiting for the right moment to explode to the surface, dazzling and bright, knocking the wind from bystanders, that beauty – it deepens in time. It seeps into the broken places of our hearts and minds and covers scar tissue and heals our soul and calms our spirit and strengthens our bones.

Once it has erupted in magnificence, even after it has splashed on bystanders and returned like the ocean tide to its giver, there will be no lack. Because it will settle deeply.

Beauty doesn’t fade. It deepens. And if the sorrows of life that etch and wound and change us end up revealing the treasure within, then there is actually hope!

*And everybody’s beautiful in their own way.
Under God’s heaven, the world’s gonna find the way.

 *Lyrics: Everything is Beautiful by Ray Stevens (Ray Stevens and Jake Hess both won Grammy Awards singing it)

Music on a Monday // 1974 was a very good year

Yes, a very good year, indeed!

Pinned Image

I have a spreadsheet in the music file on my desktop called “Best Songs.”  I have listed hundreds of songs and the artists’ who sang them, the songs that collectively make up the melody of my life, tracking every possible emotion and moment in time.  Each song represents an era or strong memory.  Some are great, really noteworthy songs and some weren’t that special to anyone else, but they make me happy and stir up a wonderful concoction of highly-desirable happy-neurotransmitters for my brain.

Pinned Image

Everytime I randomly recall a portion of a song I have ever fancied, I throw it on the list.  And when I put the title there, despite the fact that I can’t tell you what I had for breakfast yesterday, I can remember where I was, what I was doing and who else was there when I heard it playing on the radio so many years ago.  Going over the list a few months back, I realized that there were an inordinate amount of songs from 1974, when I was 14 and attending Harding Junior High in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

1974, ahhh the 70s…

Who can know the mind of a fourteen year old girl?  She is silly and coming alive.  She is crushing and seriously in love with love.  She is forward-looking for the amazingly gorgeous hunk who will arrive and sweep her off her feet and they will dance to the romantic hits of the early 70s ~ forever.  *smile

Oh, my.  Yes, 1974 was a very romantic and good year for all that.  “You Make Me Feel Brand New” by the Stylistics (my FAV group at the time) was at the top of my own personal hits list.  And John Denver singing “Sunshine on My Shoulders” or “Annie’s Song” (You fill up my senses like night in a forest, like the mountains in springtime, like a walk in the rain…” swoooooon) just got me looking for some one to sing like that to me.  And wasn’t Olivia Newton-John just communicating what my silly-little-heart wanted to pour out to some unknown lover “I honestly…{wait for it}…love you“?  Oh yes, she was!

But 1974 also had some way light-hearted songs that are etched into my memory, like “My Girl Bill,” by Jim Stafford, considered pretty hilarious at the time, I think now would not get any play at, as politically incorrect as it may come across.  Of course, “Seasons in the Sun,” so melodramatically captured our emotional fancies.  And Ray Stevens was even able to turn the streaking fad into a hit single with “The Streak.”  Songs like that preserve history with humor.

Pinned Image

All in all, 1974 was a full-on chorus of melodies and lyrics that really have become “golden” if you’re talking oldies.

I made my list of my top, favorite LOVE-these-1974-songs, and there were about 50.  So, I was forced to edit myself to try to get the list to 20…or 25…and really truly rank them and am listing only my REALLY-SUPER-TOP-FAVORITE-1974 SONGS.  And oh, they just keep jumping past the count-barrier…Numbers 1-7 are probably in order of my TOP favorites, but the rest, just LOVE them all!!!  I have created a YouTube Playlist (for my own fun) that you may feel free to enjoy.  :)  And how could you not?  Enjoy it, I mean. Sooooooooo good!!!

1.  You Make Me Feel Brand New, The Stylistics

They sing “God bless you” in this song, which, preacher’s daughter that I was, gave it extra cachet with me.

2.  Hello, It’s Me, Todd Rundgren

Hello, Todd!  Riding the bus home after school…hoping that guy would call me…This song makes so many of my playlists, it’s ridiculous.  Love.

3.  Best Thing that Ever Happened to me, Gladys Knight and the Pips

This song is just high-quality classic.  I sang it to Dave just after our first anniversary.  He didn’t even know it before then.  Can you imagine?  Not knowing every Gladys-song???  He appreciates it now.

4.  Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me, Elton John

I wasn’t supposed to be listening to “secular music” but I convinced my mom this was based on the scripture “Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath” and so she supported me listening to it as she drove me here and there.  And she used it as a teaching moment, the opportunity to present a devotional about never going to bed angry.  Oh, mamala, :)

Didn’t this song get even better when he sang it with George Michael in the 90s?  Just a good song.

5.  I Will Always Love You, Dolly Parton

Until Whitney Houston took this song to super-hit status for the film, Bodyguard, in 1992, it was not known quite as widely.  However, I like to think I know a good song when I hear it and I loved this song in 1974 even though I was certainly too young to even understand the full-on passion of it.  The song itself has always-always-always been one of my all-time favorites, and as for Dolly – I like it best of all her work.

5.  Sunshine on My Shoulders, John Denver  —  Annie’s Song, John Denver

Yes, I am cheating.  There are 2.  “Sunshine” was the theme for a movie which was a 1000-level *sniffer based on the true story of a dying mom leaving cassette recorded messages for her baby girl since she wouldn’t be there to raise her.  “If I had a day I could to give you…”  Ah, gentle and sweet!  As for “Annie’s Song,” she was John Denver’s wife, and I have never understood how she could FILL all his senses and then he could divorce her?  But really-check out the words and imagine being in the mountains of Colorado which is what he depicted, and beau-ti-ful!

6.  You’re Having My Baby, Paul Anka  —  One Man Woman/One Woman Man

And I am cheating again.  Two songs for the continually prolific singer/songwriter, Paul Anka, who’d actually started charting hits as far back as when my mom was a teenager.   He hit a whole new audience in the early 70s and his songs were just so singable.  Duets.  I love duets.  I want to sing with all the great people.  Maybe Paul Anka will come to town and call me from the audience to sing with him?  I am ready Paul, for both of these songs!  The show, Glee, covered “You’re Having My Baby” a couple years back.  Slightly less “innocent” version.

7.  I Honestly Love You, Olivia Newton-John  —  If You Love Me, Let me Know, Olivia Newton-John

Omygosh, I cannot be trusted.  Here I am trying to shorten the list and now I have given Olivia Newton-John two songs on my list.  Well, some of these people were just hitting their stride that year, obviously.  My hands are tied.

8.  Seasons in the Sun, Terry Jacks

A dying friend is traumatic for a young, teen girl.  Add that the song was French. Bon!  Tres bon!

9.  Rock and Roll Heaven, The Righteous Brothers

“Helluva” band in said rock-n-roll heaven.  My parents would not have been happy.  But these guys sang with such great passion.

10.  Takin’ Care of Business, Bachman-Turner Overdrive

Driving to youth camp, windows down.  Fun to sing and easy to dance to.  Which I was not allowed to do. Haha.

11.  Billy, Don’t be a Hero, Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods

Two words: Bill Roby.  I was fourteen and crushing on the class president like crazy  (he wore size 13 shoes, mine were size 6 and only went to his instep…I know this for we compared them) and a song with his name?  Come on!  Doesn’t matter how lightweight it may have been, it HAS to make my list.

12.  Rock and Roll Baby, The Stylistics

Such a Stylistics fan!  I wanted to have one (a rock-n-roll baby)  and I got him: Rocky!

13.  Then Came You, Dionne Warwick and the Spinners

I really loved early 70s soul music, or rhythm and blues.  Yet Dionne was a classy pop singer.  The  mix makes this song easy and fun to sing along. Happy day.

14.  Good-bye Yellow Brick Road, Elton John

Debating the meaning of lyrics ws a fun thing in the 70s.  I am not at all sure what they meant, but you can’t plant me in your penthouse, doggone it!  Don’t even try.

15.  Sweet Home Alabama, Lynyrd Skynyrd

The Harding Keys even performed this.  They were the dancing-singing early 70s version of Glee Club.  They wore white and chartreuse and were probably just opposite of Lynyrd Skynyrd.  But this song is just so much fun to sing.  I taught it to my kids blasting it on the very good and loud limo stereo in the early 90s.  I am now singing it with my grandkids.  Because it is a song that gets better with age.

16.  Honey Honey, Abba

The lyrics make me blush now, sure.  But then, it was just fun.  “I feel like I wanna sing when you do your thing…”

17.  Angie Baby, Helen Reddy

Oh, how mysterious.

18.  Bennie and the Jets, Elton John

Elton was just prolific!  I remember the girls locker room after PE, all of us sining away getting ready for the next class.

19.  A Love Song, Anne Murray

My dad actually introduced me to Anne Murray, and she, like Karen Carpenter before her, sang in my range. One of the greatest voices ever.

20.  Please Come to Boston, Dave Loggins

Passionate pleading.  Please-please-please come here!  This minute!!!

21.  I Love, Tom T. Hall

I wasn’t really able to admit to liking anything country at that time (how uncool it might seem), but this song crossed over, so it was sort of OK.  I love it way more today than then, because now I have experienced some life and he is really right about all the things there are to love. And I love country.  So, there.

22.  Come Monday, Jimmy Buffet

Spring.  Slight breeze…I recall an outdoor art class painting project and this song.

23.  Cat’s in the Cradle, Harry Chapin

The singer-songwriter, thought-provoker-type was waning to a degree (following the folk songs that had shaped social thought in the late 60s), but this one was too powerful to ignore.

24.  The Streak, Ray Stevens

People just got naked and ran through public places and events.  Scandulous!  Ray Stevens gave us an historical and humorous song to remember it by.

25.  Until You Come back to Me (that’s what I’m gonna do), Aretha Franklin

Aretha!  Come on – “Though you don’t call me anymore, I sit and wait in vain…” because every 14-year-old girl was waiting the THE call!  :)

26.  Midnight at the Oasis, Maria Muldaur

I didn’t know what it meant, but it sounded a little naughty.  But you know, Cactus is our friend.  {???}

There.  I have tempered all I can possibly temper.  And if you count accurately, there may or may not be 29  (30?) songs in actuality…

OH, WAIT!!!  I just realized I failed to include Sundown by Gordon Lightfoot //  Rock Me Gently, Andy Kim  //  The Air that I Breathe by The Hollies // or The Night Chicago Died, Paper Lace (which my own kids love).  Oh, forget it.  1974 was just an incredible year for music that moved me. 

Here is the playlist, you can listen to it all. or pick and choose.

Dang it!  How can I not add “I’ll Have to Say I Love You in a Song,” Jim Croce?  And I was not allowed to like Mac Davis’ “One #### of a Woman,” but I actually sort of did/do.  :)

Notably: at least 4 songs from my Telephone-Songs Playlist were from 1974, which may or may not have been a telephone high-usage year for me.

Oh, yes:

Pinned Image

 True story.  Which ones do you love with me???