It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Review

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Have you ever felt a happy glow of joy in your soul? Perhaps a kiss or a special moment caused that glow of joy in your soul to occur. A giant glow of joy in my soul descended upon my soul during and at the conclusion of It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, a true story of a troubled man who was able to heal with the help of the wondrous Mister Rodgers whom he was asked to interview on a story about heroes. It’s hauntingly beautiful the way Fred Rodgers teachers Lloyd to cope with his feelings, and I believe we all need someone in our lives to help us in this way. Watching this film caused time to stop for me. I was transported into a new world of both joy and pain, and I learned how joy helps conquer pain and how grief is a natural yet difficult part of life. Fred Rodgers swims, prays, writes letters, in order to cope with death, divorce, and war- because “it gets dark” as Lloyd says. The task of learning how to cope with pain and strife and turn our life into the best possible thing it could be is the lesson of this film. “Sometimes, just sometimes we get to change a broken world with our words.” That is what Lloyd states and is also able to do with his words as he is assigned an article on heroes and Mister Rodgers is chosen. We witness the life of Lloyd and the life of Mister Rodgers unfold and become interwoven until it creates this warm quilt of love.

Are you happy is a good question that this movie poses and both men spend the movie on a journey to seek happiness in a sometimes cruel, cold world. “Oh God, Lloyd please don’t ruin my childhood,” Lloyd’s wife says when referring to the piece he is writing about heroes, and he writes something that charms the entire nation and touches hearts. During the interview, Mister Rodgers says “When I focus into in that camera I try to speak to a single child at a time and focus on their needs”. One of the needs is met when Mister Rodgers says “Do you know what that means to forgive? It means to release a person from the anger we feel. Sometimes it’s the hardest to forgive someone we love.” Mister Rodgers is leading a lesson on forgiveness, one we could all learn from. Fred Rodgers tells Lloyd and the audience this to try in an effort to reach into Lloyd’s pain and attempt to help him heal. The interview continues with: “What brought you back to the show?” Lloyd asks mister Rodgers. “I realized that there was still so much to talk about,” Mister Rodgers says, and follows that up by saying. “If we could through television programs and all other programs show that everyone is precious” It gets personal when he says to Lloyd after breaking down the walls he put up, “I’m sure if she saw you today the person you became, she would be so proud.” Fred is talking to Lloyd about his deceased mother.

“A hospital is where you go when your body is hurt, but where do you go when your feelings are hurt?” is a question posed by Mister Rodgers. I think the answer to that poignant question is Turning Point, and I would also add that’s where you go when your mind hurts, because I know mine does sometimes. The scene where Lloyd’s father Jerry is in his apartment and Lloyd is frozen in anger broke my heart after Lloyd’s dad said “I may never come back here” Lloyd’s father begins trying to ask for forgiveness, but then he collapses and everything goes in slow motion. Lloyd and his wife are staying with Lloyd’s dying father. It’s the silent calm sadness that washes over me and I watch Lloyd staring off and thinking about all the things in his life – past, present, and future all at once while he feeds the newborn child he has. “I like you as you are, exactly as you are. Exactly and precisely as you are no doubt or question,” is the most beautiful soothing lullaby I have ever heard, as Lloyd sings to Gavin.

Then the theme of forgiveness comes full circle as Lloyd’s father asked Lloyd to forgive him for leaving him and his sister and his mother was dying. The theater grew silent and I gasped. And then I heard those beautiful three words that a human can say to another and caused that glow of their soul – I love you. Lloyd’s article about Mister Rodgers, his interaction with him changed his trajectory in life. Then Mister Rodgers visits Lloyd and his dying father and that when tears began rolling down my cheek, because for that moment in that theater on that screen my faith in humanity was restored. Thank you, Tom Hanks, for recreation of a beloved character and absolutely made in a beautiful day in the neighborhood for all who experience and will experience this film. “Fame is a four-letter word like tape or face. It’s what you do with it that matters” – Tom Hanks and Mister Rodgers never let fame get to their heads and that is absolutely incredible feat to accomplish, to be humble and when given a platform to speak to make sure that you reach the most vulnerable people, children. I also learned that “death is sometimes we fear but it is human and anything human is manageable”, is something Fred Rodgers shares. Lloyd talks about himself as being a part of a group of broken people. “I don’t think you are broken – you are a man of conviction a man who knows what is wrong and what is right and know that your father helped shape those convictions and helped shape who you are” is what he says, allowing Lloyd a deeper connection and some much needed closure. As Mister Rodgers drives off, Lloyd does the sign language for friends that he was taught and as Mister Rodgers drives away, he drives straight into my heart as he truly embodies what it means to be a hero, true to the article that Lloyd wrote. “If you think of him as a saint that his way of being is unattainable”- Joan Rodgers says of her husband. In a way Mister Rodgers was a saint, but he was human and was capable of deep love and understanding which he spread through the world through his television show, and the joy he brought to so many was captured brilliantly in this film. Thank you for this precious gift you have given the world. As Mister Rodgers said “it’s such a good feeling to be alive” and this movie gave me an incredible rush of feeling alive.

A new success, a new hope is near

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In April I became a college graduate

It was truly a challenge

But I never once quit

No matter the challenge I never gave up

Of course there were times where I had enough

And sometimes I wouldn’t even know why

I would shut down, break down and cry

But all the fears

From all those years

Melted away

As I made my way

Across the stage

And as I grabbed my diploma

I turned the page

Wild success

I wore my new dress

Because I have backed down

I knew that with my illness

There was a greater fight

I worked tirelessly every day and every night

I kept a schedule and I slept

I achieved my goal of my greatness goal which was a degree

Now the job struggle is real

Sometimes I think I cannot deal

But I recall all the things I did to get here

And I now a new success, a new hope is near

If I work hard, prayer harder, and think smarter

I will have a new chapter appear

I didn’t work so hard just to quit

I am a woman of sharp wit

So I will buckle down and no matter what happens now

I vow that I will

Keep on going and more still

When I fail and fall I will get back up

Dust myself off, ice the bruises

Because Maria Pondo never loses

While fighting the good fight

And while doing that my heart will ignite!

Is it human nature to desire more?

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Silent early Sunday mornings

I sit all alone and I ponder

Sipping warm coffee

My mind begins to wonder

I’m drawn back to my dream

All though I only recall fragments

I know in it your face did gleam

I wonder about football

I wonder about war

I think about the game and who will score

I think about devastation of fire and ice destroying our nation

I would if I can take it anymore

My mind racing with these thoughts

I hope it slows but it will not

I ponder death and immortality

I ponder what it will be like when I have a family

What will my husband be like

Will he be the man of my dreams

Will he be kind and understanding

And loving and respectful

And a good father?

Will my children grow up happy and healthy?

Will I be a good mother?

Think about a garden

Think about a place

Where I’m not crying with tears burning up my face

About movies and romance

About whether or not I have a chance

Of a happy ending of my own

I wonder about God

About a job

About an apartment

About life after college

And when it will go my way

I should be grateful with what I have today

But is it human nature to desire something greater

To think about what you might want later

I am happy but I’m not content

I feel like I’ve spent

Too much time

And I want to spend the present and future

In a way that I’ll gain

All the dreams created by my sometimes awesome brain

Only human

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I feel horrible pain

I feel close to insane

It’s harming my brain

I weep

My heart leaps

I fall and bleed but

I often succeed

I smile and nod

I wonder about God

I run 5 miles

That makes me smile

I sometimes hike

I ride my bike until I take flight

I unite friends

The fun never gets ends

I eat

I wash my entire body what a feat

I think I dream

I feel pain physically and emotionally

I’m only human

Could you love this young woman

Who you seem to think

Is invincible

But really

Hurts like everyone else

Because I’m only human

Despite what you think

Eventually we all sink

To the level that we are

That we are meant to be

I may be strong and capable of wonder

Realize this please

And then we can both be at ease

That I’m only human

And off into the twilight we walked…

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Shielded from great harm

You were more than the alarm

That carried my through thick, choking smoke

You lifted me out and you nearly perished

Trying to rescue my soul

From the flames

Some would declare you insane

But no matter how big the flames got

I know I have a love that simply can’t be bought

I knew you loved me a lot

But I never knew you loved me this much

As our bodies touch

Your strong arms envelope me in a warm embrace

I think the world I know can face

Because when my world was on fire

You protected me from it

That’s something I will never get

I will never understand your sacrifice

And how anything I give back could suffice

I will never quite see

Why you protected me

When you have everything to lose

And nothing to gain

I try but I can’t refrain

From sobbing desperate tears

Because my greatest fears

Have disappeared

And what remains is you

You took me from harm’s way

And it’s in your gentle, firm arms that I want to stay

Can it be this way forever?

Where we are stronger together

Where our love is strong and true

Where you say I don’t have to repay you

You say I already did

I’m thinking you just kid

You look at me with serious eyes

And to my surprise you say

It’s all the little things you do, Maria that go such a long way

You remember the nights that I cooked dinner

You remember how I said you didn’t have to be thinner, that I loved you just the way you are

You recall when I saved you the last piece of pecan pie

You say so many reasons why

You say I bought you a special book

And everywhere you went you took it

You said have a look

And sure I enough what did I see

But a rare copy of The Great Gatsby

He continued to name all thing I did and and as he began to reminisce

I decided and stole the perfect, passionate kiss

He only grinned longingly

And off into the twilight we walked

Him and me

You are all that I have

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I have shaky, scared hands

On shaky, questionable ground

Where can you be found?

I find the notion of finding you haunting me

I find the task daunting, can’t you see

I don’t know where

And although I stare

I don’t know who you are

So I foolishly wish upon a Star

Because it’s so clear now

That you are all that I have

Billowing Smoke, Christmas Clues

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Billowing smoke protrudes

Casting thick clouds

Light glows through the incense

During Christmas mass

Overtaking my lungs

I rush out into frigid air

Rush back inside to hear the homily

Cloud of gray

Spreading down through the pews

Splitting the light

Enchanting Christmas clues

Clues me in to triumphant beauty

A precious thing I choose not to lose