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How Can I Keep From Singing?

My life is one beautiful song. In many (or all) of my posts, I will make references to songs and music. For people – – regardless of race, class, gender, religious affiliation, sexual orientation etc. – – music taps into and/or explains emotions that there are no words for. I have always connected with music because it serves as a channel for me to connect with others, including God and our countless angels and cherubs in heaven.

I sing. I cannot quit my full-time job, but I can carry a note. I love all genres of music. A short list of my favorite genres includes: classical, liturgical, contemporary Christian, the blues, classic rock, country….quite a span and some others in between.

When I was younger I sang anytime the opportunity arose. In addition to singing in gigs with garage bands and in musicals, I sang in any choir that would take me. In reality, they were asking me to join them. I do not brag and learned many years ago that humility is “easier and lighter” from parents (note how they snuck in a reference to Bible in without me knowing). The only reason that I included the fact that I was asked to join is to remind myself that I had talent and was confident enough to take chances.

I recently looked at my yearbooks and was reminded that I was one of the soloists at my high school graduation and did not even remember. I read the notes from teachers and friends – a constant theme emerged – keep singing! Although music was not my college major, I continued to sing with college choirs – at first for credit, and then I audited the classes. I just wanted to sing.

My grades didn’t suffer, so my parents encouraged me to keep singing as long as they did not have to pay for it!  I am an alto, which means I could reach, as my wise-ass sister says, “those ugly low notes.” As all altos do, I love songs with cool harmonies – if the song does not have a harmony I create one. Yes, I often identify with and make reference to the lyrics (aka words) of songs. I also love instrumentals – piano, violins and flutes are my favorite instruments. I realize it is too late to learn how to play these instruments – but I love listening.

My bucket list of people/bands that I would like to sing with: I love Celtic/Gaelic Music so I dream of singing with the Enya and/or with the “Celtic Women.” I also want to sing with Laura Story, Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton (based on news of divorce I assume not in same room:), Bonnie Raitte, Eric Clapton, Indigo Girls, James Taylor, Jackson Brown and Rory Cooney (I’ll leave that one up to you to figure out:).

Once I was blessed to have twin sons, they became the focus of my life. Everything I did was with them or for them. I still loved music. I sang to them when they were babies. Now I am blessed to sing with a beautiful and loving liturgical choir at St. Peter’s Church in Point Pleasant. My life is coming full circle. The old Sheila is back. “No storm can shake my in-most calm…How can I keep from singing?the

Do Not Be Not Afraid….

All people have feelings; even the tin man has a heart. When I was in rehab, I was scared. The realization of my illness was coming to a head. Being surrounded by older and significantly sicker people increased my anxiety. I was blessed to have a wonderful and FUNNY roommate.

Some of the other patients were not as nice and funny as my roommate. Frankly, they seemed miserable and comfortable in their misery.

Many people are uncomfortable being in the presence of sick and disabled people and ignore eye contact with them. I swore to myself that I would never do that. It takes more effort to be mean. The voice of my parents (now my guardian angels), come to me often. “Be kind,” and “we all bleed red” come to mind – everyone needs to be loved and to love.

Every time I saw sick, scared and unhappy patients I would make it a point to be friendly. Some patients would ignore me.  Sometimes I would even be treated rudely. One man was so unhappy he refused to participate in therapy. Once he even said that he just wants to die. The encouraging therapists never gave up and in no time at all, got him to stand on his own. I smiled at him when he got to his feet. The next time I saw him, he smiled and said hello to me:).

Blessings in Disguise

While I was in rehabilitation I looked at the supposed “social events” and swore that I would not be attending one of them. I immediately decided that there was no way that I was going to be playing bingo or participating in wheel-chair dancing. Little did I know that my very conniving therapist was going to find a way to coerce me to go; she knows I like music and is also an alto. “At least its music,” she said. So there I was clapping my hands and stamping my feet to various types of music. Some of my fellow wheel-chair dancers—some 30 years older than me—where rocking and rolling at a beat that I could not keep up with. At the end of our session, one of the members (the only gentleman who was every gal’s favorite), announced that he was leaving. He wished us all happiness and health – tears where flowing from my eyes.

Amazing Grace

The ninth child of parents that where plagued with alcoholism, I was blessed to be born. I not only survived, but, because of MY parents’ history, I was immediately brought home from the hospital by my parents: John and Catherine McAllister who named me Sheila Marie. The biological parents (note third person reference – maybe that will change in time) wanted to name me Grace, a pretty name but my parents wanted to name me Sheila Marie. Hence, I am Sheila Marie Mcallister, the fifth of six children and countless foster children in need of tender loving care.

I was telling my story to my physical therapist. He was so moved – he was adopted and doesn’t know why parents abandoned him and if he has siblings. I reminded him that he may not have been abandoned, that perhaps his parents sacrificed to do what was best for him.  Since then – I can’t stop but thank God because I have the best of both worlds. I was adopted by the most beautiful people who should have been sanctified – in their words, “everyone needs to be loved, and everyone needs to love.” So I was raised in a beautiful family – have brothers and sisters that I wouldn’t trade the world for. Now I relationships with my biological family – a big and loving gang!:). More blessings in disguise.

Grace is defined by Dr. Charlotte Tomaino as the gift of enabling power; sufficient for progress; conveyed by the Divine; and to and through humanity.

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound – that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I am found. I once was blind and see!”


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