Category Archives: Sj’s Musings

DVD cover of the Italian film "Life is Beautiful"

Life IS Beautiful


Last night I re-watched the award-winning Italian film “Life is Beautiful.”

This time I didn’t weep uncontrollably.

Yes, it’s still sad, but whatever in me it triggered has moved on.

And this morning while reflecting on that tragic but powerful tale, it came to me:

Life can be like that.

We can choose HOW we focus on experiences.

As a victim.

Or as in a game.

With a playful attitude.

Or not.

The horror is still present,

but the change of focus

allows Grace to arrive.

God’s Grace.

A Grace which gives us a Strength




Wishing you ALL a Happy Thanksgiving as you too reflect on how Grace

has played a role in YOUR life.


✫ Mahalo Ke Akua 

Are You Self Conscious?

When a person is self-conscious, they’re anything BUT Self conscious, i.e. Self aware.

This just came to me while reading the introduction to Elliott Erwitt’s book of photography, “To The Dogs.”

He writes: “It’s not really that dogs are never self-conscious. In fact, a cruel person, or a photographer, can easily embarrass them. But they are usually unaffected because of something like innocence, or lack of worldly experience. Perhaps that’s why they seem to have such a natural bond with children. Maybe they still have some fundamental values that haven’t been corrupted by society.”

And maybe those dogs who ARE self-conscious (when being embarrassed by a cruel person) are actually being self aware, or at least aware of a human self who is unaware.

Wherever this musing leads, it’s dogs who are the real leaders for they continuously model how to love unconditionally.

Haven’t seen Erwitt’s book of photography? Ask a dog. Chances are she or he has a copy.


My First Football Game . . . just recovered : )

My First Football Game

by Susan Hylton

(written circa 1975)

     Shall I tell you about the very first football game I ever saw? Of course I didn’t see it very well because Harry couldn’t afford very good seats. In fact, the seats we got were so far back we found it better to sit on a very sturdy branch that grew over the edge of the stadium . . . and even this was crowded. I was constantly moving over to make room for others up there:  six crows and three red-headed woodpeckers.

I must admit that Harry did everything possible for my comfort. We had popcorn, peanuts, hot dogs, ice cream bars. Best of all, Harry promised to pay me back the very next day . . .

Harry taught me the idea of the game. A man has to carry the football from one end of the field to the other. Isn’t that a perfectly silly thing to make a game out off? . . . But there they were . . . full-grown men running, falling, kicking all over the place just to have the ball for a few seconds . . . Why, they could have saved their money so each player had one.

My biggest confusion came when I tried to tell our team from the enemy team. Harry said that our team was the one with the football. But pretty soon the other team had the ball, and I was confused again.

One time I looked down and there was a player carrying a brass drum instead of a football. I asked Harry about it and he said it was the half. Well, it certainly looked like a whole drum to me . . . then it was the musicians’ turn to play. Of course they didn’t play football . . . they played music . . . I guess someone had kicked the football over the fence because all the players were gone quite a while looking for it. But pretty soon they found it, and the players came whooping back again.

Harry explained to me about the men with striped shirts. They seemed to be afraid of the football and just stood off to one side and played their own little game – whistle blowing. Every time a player fell down with the ball, these funny little men blew their whistles like mad and made crazy little motions with their arms. Harry said it was all part of the game.

I finally got the game figured out. I think it goes this way. Each player has a number on his back. If player number 67 catches the ball, his team scores 67 points; while if player number 88 catches the ball, his team scores 88 points. Somehow this doesn’t seem fair to players with little numbers like 13 and 15, does it? . . . It was an exciting game all the way. The final score was five thousand, nine hundred and thirty-five to zero.



Added some punctuation for clarity but the occasional . . . was part of the original.

recovered by sjhl 5/21/17 : )

A day in the life . . .

. . . of a substitute teacher.

What happened?

Watch and find out. <3

Sj TV: Sj from the Heart

My HEART has recently been waving its tiny little hand

and prompting me to speak from it.

So I have . . .

If your heart has a matching antenna, cool. It’s party time as hearts speak to hearts.

If not, cool. This channel ain’t for you.


I just now got it.

Yes, I just now got it that . . .


I am the most important person in my life.

I am the most important person in my life.

I am the most important person in my life.


I got that for the first time today.

As in REALLY got it.


Down to my core, got it.

To my toes, got it.

In my throat.


And fingers that are now typing, got it.


I am the most important person in my life.


Not that old lady who needs help crossing the street.

Or my Mom who has trouble walking now.

Or some other person who’s frantically crying out for help.



It’s me.

Only I

Get to be the most important person in my life.




I thought I knew that before.


And maybe I did on some level.


But today I hopped on the express elevator to the moon.

And from here it’s very, very, clear

that I’m the







Pedrata airport with skillet

You’re Only Ever Where You’re Meant to Be

Think about it. If you were meant to be somewhere else, you’d be there.

And yet we stress and stress about getting through traffic, rushing to get somewhere, and we miss the point that we’re already there – where we’re meant to be.

Today Pedrata and I got to the airport nice and early so we could begin our return journey home (thanks Mark for the ride!).

There was quite a long wait as the clerk tried to figure out why they wouldn’t let her ticket my last leg of the flight. After a few phone calls, she found out that the other carrier had slightly altered the departure time of the flight.

“Okay, no big deal.” I thought, “That’s why we come to the airport so early.”

Then we waited to board our flight. After a bit, I realized that there wasn’t the standard action. As in the standard, people with small children, business class, blah, blah blah . . . “Okay, what’s up?” I thought.

Waited in line and the nice guy named Alan assured me that I’d make my connection.

“Okay, Alan, I’m going to trust you on this” (knowing that it’ll all work out as it’s meant to).

After another half hour went by, and I only had an hour between flights at my next destination, I once again approached the booth.

“I think I’ll be booking you on that other flight route,” he said as he called the others to come up to the gate.

“Got it. Thanks Alan.”

And as the plane was being boarded, he called me over to another booth. Another phone call was made. My bag was taken off the plane. And Pedrata and I just watched it all thinking to ourselves, “Wherever we’re meant to be is where we are.”

Click, click, click. I heard the new tickets being issued.

“Okay, I’ll see you in about 2 hours,” Alan said.

“Okay. Hey, any chance I can get a voucher for a coffee?” (realizing that the 2 hour nap I had planned wasn’t going to happen.)

“Sure,” he replied, “I’d be glad to. Just give me a minute.”

So we rested our dawgs and set down our heavy pack that is carrying a rather LARGE cast iron skillet that my mother graciously gave me when I happened to mention sometime that I think I’d actually like to use one. It cracked me up how she remembered that (I didn’t remember telling her that), but then will forget other things that can seem so important to me.

No matter. If she’s meant to remember anything, she will.

. . .

Fast forward to being on the first plane of three.

I’m chatting it up with a woman sitting beside me . . . and lo and behold, it ends up that she knew my Dad. LOVED my Dad.

“I LOVED your Dad,” she gushed. “And my husband too; he really misses him. Your Dad used to help my granddaughter with tennis tips.”

Yup, sounds like my Dad.

Thanks Dad for that little shout out and hello.

Thanks for reminding me how you’re always keeping an eye on me. Ever present in my life.

I love you too Dad.

Boy, do I ever love YOU!


: )

✫ Sj out ✫

School with Nora

“What’s been happening?” you ask.

Or not. But in my little head that’s what I hear.

“What’s been happening, Sj? You’ve been in Spain three weeks now. You told us that it was a mind-+&^%$#k moving into another language. You sent us a short video of street music, but that’s it! Are you still alive? Still engaged? Still learning?”


“Kay, but what’s been happening?”

Loads. Bunches. Heaps. Muchas. All KINDS of things!

But what I’m finding is that what I most enjoy is simply being.

Being in Spain.

Being in Europe.

Being on this planet.

A walk to school is an adventure.

Turn here? Or there? Haven’t been on this street yet.

I stop. I look up. I love the architecture. The little balconies. The high windows. The clothes hanging on the accordian-like clothes lines which protrude from the base of random windows. The donging of cathedral bells. I love the city gardens. The green tomatoes I pass as I go down about 5,000 stairs when leaving the villa I’m fortunate enough to be living in while I’m here (in San Sebastián).

I love the random hazelnut in my muesli that I’m currently eating.

I love the view from this extraordinary top floor flat. That I can say hey to Jesus across the way. That I can watch storm clouds gather. See sailboats on the horizon. Barges. Rain upon the window panes. And lots and lots of green all around the mostly terra-cotta roofs to my right (which faces another hill where there are amazing hiking trails).

Yes, it sometimes makes it hard to get things done when all I want to do is stop and be silent. Observe. Feel. Smell.

But I’ve come to realize that that is what we’re really here to do. To be. To experience. To feel.

Sure, we have to do those odd things like go to school, get a job, and then work to earn money to feed and clothe ourselves.




The BEING, I feel, is the absolute most important thing.

The awareness of who we are.

That each and every one of us is a walking miracle.

A walking act of grace in the shape of skin and bones.

Each and every one of us.

So . . . Sj, what’s been happening in Spain? you ask.



Mountainous piles of everything.

Next time I’ll fill you in with some particulars.

But for now, enjoy wherever you are. Feel the air on your skin. Notice your breath.

Ain’t it delicious?


✫ Sj out ✫

p.s. Muchas gracias Silvia por los photos!


She caught my eye. 

Last week Saturday

around 2 p.m., after wandering around Lyon and ending up in Croix Rousse (one of two collines in Lyon, the one where people work btw), I realized I was hungry. Just then I saw a pizza joint and decided to check it out.

Below you can see what I ordered.

What I ate.

What I enjoyed completely. : )

I sat next to the window at a high two-top where I happily chomped on my pizza while observing the world outside.

That’s when she caught my eye.

Sitting alone. Also watching. Observing. Looking like a force of nature itself. Confident. Comfortable. Curious.

Three awesome Cs of uniqueness.

A woman with a presence.

In our world, youth and vitality is most often idolized. The absence of wrinkles. The presence of chic clothing. An air of not caring. And yet, in my experience, that very persona revolves around caring so very much what others think. Caring so very much that their very presence mirrors everyone else.

But here she sat with her hat and fluorescent sun glasses, looking like she didn’t have a care in the world. And looking like no one else. Uniquely herself.

When I left the restaurant, I started to walk past where she sat when something inside me called me to stop. To turn around. Approach her. And say hello.

In much less time than it takes to spill ones coffee and then clean it up, I was sitting with her at her table having a lively conversation.

Was she confident? Curious? Comfortable?

She seemed to be. She certainly wanted to know all about me and why I was in Lyon.

Each one of us is so very important. To ourselves. To our families. To our friends. But mostly, to the world.

Because each of us creates a ripple in the world. Whether we realize it or not. Whether we want to or not. We do.

Last week Saturday, Josephine sent a ripple my way. A tap on my heart to stop and say hello. To listen. To simply be present with someone who an hour before I didn’t even know existed.

Josephine et Sj

She reminded me of the protagonist in The Elegance of the Hedgehog (L’élégance du hérisson) by Muriel Barbary. Someone who’s enigmatic. Not at all as they appear. Someone who is completely oneself.

And yet, isn’t that who each of us really is? At our core? Uniquely ourself?

I think the answer to these rhetorical questions is a resounding, “Yes.”

And so for perhaps the millionth time, I feel the need to throw out the call to BE YOURself. In whatever way feels right to you. For no one but you can possibly know how it feels to be you.

So please, wear it proudly, that skin of yours. And if not for YOU, then for the rest of the world.

We need you.

Exactly as you are.

✫ Sj ✫

Every single person

is important.




That means


That means


That means

the person

who flipped you off.

That means

the person

who last gave you a hug.







How are YOU

going to show the next person you meet

how important he or she is?

How are YOU going to let them know you care?

I want to know.

I want to see.

I want to hear

how this call to open our eyes

and hearts ripples across the world.

Because each kind word,

each smile starts with


Be the light that you ARE in the world.

It’s time to shine so brightly

that darkness has no choice

but to disappear.