~ Gen X Musings ~

It’s time again for the 100TPC (One Hundred Thousand Poets For Change) over at the BeZine, and all over the world. It’s a chance for artists, musicians, poets, peace-keepers, activists, and anyone else who desires lasting change in the world to speak out about issues affecting all of us. I invite you to join us in a celebration of the spirit of resistance, as we try to make the world a better place.  🙂

~ © CLR 2017 ~

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The seeing place…

This month’s BeZine is all about Theater. Come on over and have a look!

It’s dim, but not quite too dark to see where you’re going. Small bulbs cast just enough light to barely distinguish faces and furniture. The smells of cut lumber, wood oil and paint mingle with makeup and sometimes musty costumes, coming together in a heady miasma of nervous sweat and dreams of success. The dull rumble of the audience murmurs from the other side of the thick, velvet curtain. It immediately electrifies the air with expectations. The cast take their places, everything is set and the bulbs in back suddenly go out. The curtain opens, the lights and sounds come up, the watchers hush and…the show begins!

***

I come by my love of the stage honestly; my mom’s creativity and extensive acting experience in her college troupe of players translated to prize-winning Halloween costumes for me and my brother when we were kids. By the time I was twelve, we had been to see several local productions of shows like Annie, A Christmas Carol and The Music Man. In high school, I became stage manager for the drama club and even had a bit part in The Miracle Worker. I painted numerous sets, gel backgrounds for the lights and found a niche in the camaraderie of the actors and the long nights of set building and rehearsals, the productions and cast parties (and the inevitable “after”-cast-party parties!). The lessons I learned then have been carried with me throughout my life and helped shape me into a better person.

To an outsider, someone who has never experienced or been a part of the theater world, there might be a lack of understanding of why it’s important.  It’s a sad, unfortunate truth that when education budgets get tight, the Arts (including theater) programs are the first to be cut. So here are just a few reasons why theater in particular should be saved and considered vital to educational curricula everywhere:

* Theater courses build self-confidence. I’d hazard a guess and say that most people don’t like public speaking. They get jitters, get nervous, have panic or anxiety attacks because they’re afraid they will mess up and people will laugh or judge. However, it becomes a lot easier when you can take on a persona, or be “someone else” up in front of people, who won’t recognize you because of costumes, makeup or a different voice.  It helps to take the pressure off, because if you mess up as a “character”, well, it’s not really you, is it? So it doesn’t matter as much. When you’ve succeeded “in character” once, it gets easier to do it again the next time. Success builds on itself, and so does self-confidence. Kids who are exposed to drama classes early in life learn to believe in their abilities (even when they’re nervous or anxious) and this can mean they become adult leaders in the boardroom, or the main presenter in the marketing meeting.

* Theater improves memory, speech and listening skills. Students of the dramatic arts are taught several, key things that they need in order to do well on stage. Of course memory gets exercised by repeatedly learning lines and movements, or keeping track of various props in different scenes. Whether it’s breathing techniques to steady nerves, voice projection to speak from the diaphragm or listening closely for a certain sound, a “cue” (spoken or otherwise), these are all things that students routinely practice to become good at the craft. It also means that they can use these skills off-stage and in other real-life situations.

* Theater challenges imagination and creativity, promotes quick-thinking. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen actors flub or drop lines! The best of them immediately improvised and somehow made it to the next cue without missing a beat. The worst of them froze until another cast member covered for them somehow (via speech or actions) and got them back on track. There are definitely times in drama class and on stage when you have to be able to think on your feet, and I’m sure there are dozens of real-life areas where this ability comes in handy.

* Theater fosters teamwork. In the end, it encourages everyone to work together as a team. From the director and cast all the way down to the stage hands, the set and design team, the lighting and sound crews, everyone has a part to play. On opening night, the production becomes this beautiful, polished creation born of the efforts of everyone involved. It becomes a shining example of the power of teamwork, and we all know how important that is in life.

From the Greeks all the way through today, it’s obvious that theater is indeed “the seeing place”. What you “see” in it depends on the lens with which you view it, and whether or not you’ve ever been exposed to it in life or developed an opinion about it. Sure, we can continue to cut drama courses from education, but why would anyone choose to? A life well-lived is about so much more than business, money or S.T.E.M. subjects. Those give us solidarity in society and enrich our minds. The Arts, including Theater, nourish our hearts and souls. And that, is just as important.

Posted in Art, Arts and Humanities, Creativity, Education, Food For Thought, Inspiration, Life, The Arts, Theater, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

~ Our Albatross is Greed, But We’re Not Sunk Yet ~

June’s theme at the BeZine is “Environmental Justice/Climate Change: Farming and Access to Water”.  It’s a good time to think about water as we are easing into summer here in North America. I know there are many, like me, who wonder if this summer will continue the trend of breaking record heat indexes, or how bad the drought will be this year?

It’s easy to take fresh water for granted when you have unlimited access to it. It’s easy not to think about people thousands of miles away who walk as much as six hours or 5 miles a day, just for clean water. Out of sight, out of mind, perhaps? What we take for granted here in the West, millions of others struggle every day to reach.

I could write a book about all the things which contribute and are causing the shortages of fresh water in the world, or how these shortages are leading to more wars and will continue to get worse as the climate changes. But I decided to write a poem instead, and borrowed a technique from another writer whom I greatly admire, Michael Dickel. I’ve inserted links inside the poem with the hopes that you’ll follow them and learn more about the water crisis that imperils the planet. Maybe it will motivate you to look at fresh, clean water with a different perspective, and even inspire you to take action(s). As always, thanks for taking the time to read.  🙂

*********

Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink…”
Prophetic words, which won’t be heard?
We’re already pushing at the brink.

We give our water to corporations,
So that we can buy it back again!
Poisoned taps, like third-world nations,
But here, in towns like Flint, Michigan.

Runoff pollution kills rivers and streams,
Water tables poisoned by mining and fracking,
Droughts and hurricanes, climate extremes,
Children die each day, from clean water’s lacking.

Sands slip through Humanity’s hourglasses,
But the future’s not fully carved in stone.
Technology may save Man’s collective, dumb asses,
Or buy us more time to correct what we’ve done.

Check out clean water that comes in a book!
Or an edible, bio-degradable sphere.
A billboard makes water from air — take a look!
A sieve that makes seawater drinkable! *Cheer!*
 
One man is walking 3,200 miles,
Another invented these portable stations.
Can you imagine the millions of smiles,
Saved, by clean water for all the world’s nations?

It starts and ends with each one of us,
Individual actions have ripple effects.
Water is life: without it, we’re dust.
Water is life. And all life connects.

~ © 2017 CLR

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To tell you the truth…

Honesty and Transparency are the themes for this month’s BeZine. I started to write about these things in relation to the current political administration in the United States and quickly realized that it was turning into a (badly-written, full of sarcastic anger) book. So instead, I’d like to ask you to consider something different, but just as important.

Image borrowed from lovethispic.com

Someone once told me, “Friends keep you honest. Good friends keep you honest with yourself.” Not only do I believe this, but I am blessed to have good enough friends who will do exactly that.  Because we’re all adept at self-deception, we all need outside perspectives that will help keep us true to who we really are. This is a good thing, because honesty and transparency are crucial for trust; it’s critical that we be able to trust ourselves in order to live our best, most fulfilling lives possible.

How do I know how to trust myself? You may ask. The answers are there, and complicated, and they may not be what you want to hear, but self-honesty isn’t always easy. In fact, I’d say it’s probably harder than being honest with other people, because we all tend to be our own worst enemies – Ego is ever present and will do any number of shady things to protect itself (and you, in the process).

The over-simplified, short answers are that there are a few things you can do to start on the journey to being more honest with yourself:

* Pay closer attention to your emotions, your thoughts and your behaviors. By becoming aware of those times when your emotions, thoughts and behaviors don’t seem to match who you believe yourself to be, you’re honing your ability to be self-aware. This takes practice, so don’t get discouraged.

* Understand that it’s a journey, not a destination, and that it’s likely to be painful. There’s a good reason that the phrase “The truth hurts” has become such a cliché. Also realize that the rewards are worth it! There is nothing quite so empowering as knowing that you’re comfortable in your own skin, living the life you were meant to…as a direct result of doing the hard work of taking stock of your personal inventory (some of you may even recognize this as the 4th step in any 12-step program: “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”)

* Don’t be afraid to seek therapy or professional help with personal issues that may be holding you back. Unresolved issues and baggage will stick around as long as you allow them, and will hinder your attempts to practice self-honesty. It takes guts to admit you’re not perfect and that you may need help to unravel layers of inner knots.

Dr. Cortney S. Warren is a well known psychologist who has explored this subject in depth. Her website, choosehonesty.com has some good insights into becoming more honest and transparent with yourself. Here is a quick article of hers that was published in Psychology Today that gives a brief explanation of how to get started. And below is a very good TedX Talk video of hers that goes into more detail.

One of the most important things to remember about honesty with oneself is that it’s a continual process. We have the choice each day to honor our true selves or put on a mask. We can defer to who and what we think others want or expect us to be, or we can try to be self confident, honest and live our lives the way we think and feel we should.  I’m not advocating selfishness, but rather, self-awareness. Learn to trust yourself and be honest about who you are. It’s one of the essentials for living a complete, enriched and fulfilling life. And if you find yourself unsure about what that means and don’t already have one or two, get some good friends who are willing to keep you honest with yourself.  😉

Image borrowed from Pinterest.com, Dalai Lama quotes

Posted in Awareness, Food For Thought, Friendship, Honesty, Life | 2 Comments

Some Scientific Snippets

I’ve loved science as long as I can remember. When other little girls my age were collecting Barbie dolls, I was helping my brother find and label bugs for his bug collection.  My first science fair project in 4th grade was a very simple Skinner Box maze that utilized my two pet mice, Ebony and Ivory.  So when I saw that the theme for the BeZine this month was “Science in culture, politics and religion” I was overjoyed at the idea of being able to contribute something about one of my favorite subjects.

To be fair, the theme itself seemed a bit daunting. I mean, that’s a huge amount of stuff to choose from! I was overwhelmed.  So, I decided that I would choose something that science has influenced in each of the three categories and share a video for each one.

Image borrowed from Reddit.com

Science plays an important role in most global cultures, but in some places it has proven to be exceptionally innovative. We tend to take scientific advances in the medical field for granted here in the western world, but there are still many places that lack basic medicines, and particularly lack any kind of specialty medicine field. In Brazil, for example, they don’t have a working skin bank and don’t have a lot of resources to treat burn victims. Because of an unmet need, doctors have looked to Science to provide a way to help, by using what they do have available:

Moving on to science in politics, I’m going to use our own culture here in the United States as a prime example. The current administration is full of ties to the fossil fuels industries, climate change deniers and anti-environmentalists. The politics dictate policy and that’s very bad news for Science.  With cuts proposed to vital agencies like the E.P.A. and N.O.A.A., the removal of climate change information from the White House website, and the silencing of federal scientists with gag orders, is it any wonder that scientists both here and abroad see this as the opening salvos of a war on Science?

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Luckily, as one of my favorite scientists, Neil deGrasse Tyson says, “That’s the good thing about science. It’s true, whether or not you believe in it. That’s why it works.” Now, that doesn’t necessarily translate to power in politics, but don’t despair, because there are still people out there who care enough about science to make sure it doesn’t disappear in a short-sighted, ignorant, political purge. Here are two of my favorite men discussing how it’s more important now than ever to enlighten those who don’t believe in science and what the changing planet is trying to tell us.

While we’re doing some heavy mental lifting, let’s examine science in relation to religion. So many people think that science and religion are polar opposites that have nothing in common. I’ve heard people say that they both rely upon faith, although one is faith in things seen and the other is faith in things unseen – factual, tangible evidence vs. circumstantial and communal/personal/anecdotal evidence. There are so many arguments for each side…that I would like to challenge you to stop. Just stop. Put aside what you know or think you know about science and religion, and for just a few minutes, consider a completely different viewpoint. What if…why not have BOTH?  Wild, right? Crazy, I know.

I invite you to open your mind and watch the following TedX Talk. It’s only about 18 minutes long. That’s really not long in the big scheme of things. As for me, I believe it’s entirely possible to have both science and religion (although I personally regard it as more of a spirituality than ‘organized religion’). The point is that they don’t have to conflict, it doesn’t have to be an either/or stalemate.  There is another way.

In closing, I’d just like to say thanks for reading and I hope that I’ve given you a few things to consider.  🙂 And last but not least,

Image from Tumblr- Inspire

 

Posted in Ecology, Environment, Food For Thought, Future, Life, Nature, Past Present and Future, Politics, Science, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Your Attention, please…

“There is not a single instance in history where hate has brought joy to human beings. Hate destroys those who hold it in their minds and bodies. If humanity released all hate, fear, and resentment, then no dictator could ever rise, and we would have peace on earth. Peace on earth can occur only through peace within each of us.” ~ Rhonda Byrne, The Secret Daily Teachings

There’s a saying, “Energy Flows Where Attention Goes”, that has been attributed to several different sources. Regardless of who initially said it, I believe it to be true. Not only is it true, I also think it’s crucial as a way of “Overcoming Hate”, which is this month’s BeZine theme.

In order to “overcome” anything, it must first be understood, and broken down into the parts which make it up as a whole.  When you think about the word “hate”, what comes to mind? Do you picture the opposite of love? Do you picture anger, or fear in disguise? What makes up this powerful emotion to which we humans so often cling? Why do we allow it so much power to influence and run (and ruin) our lives?

From a certain perspective, hate may be defined as “Judgement directing Anger”.  There is a good, more in-depth post about this at one of the blogs I follow, here. In addition to judgement directing anger, I also believe that fear is a strong component of hate. Whether it’s fear of “Different” or “Other” (someone who is “not me” or “not like me”) or fear for survival, fear of someone taking away what I have, having more than me, being better than me, etc.. To truly overcome hate, we must be willing to overcome (and face) our fears.

Just as there are almost infinite shades of grey between black and white, there are many nuances of hate. I found a chart from here which shows some of the most widely accepted types, but there are different variations and combinations of all of them.  Do any of your personal “hates” seem to fall into any of these categories?

Oh, I know there are people who will say, “But I don’t hate. None of those fit me. I try very hard not to hate anybody or anything.” While that may be true, hate is such a base emotion that I find it hard to believe anyone who says they “never” hate. Trying hard not to hate is a noble effort, and a good first step. Self-awareness is always a good thing, even when it’s painful.

But then I would ask, what are you doing to decrease the hate in the world? Using the self awareness you have worked for, to be mindful and not spread any kind of hate can be a lot tougher. Especially in today’s technological society, where memes, tweets, and all manner of social media stories spread like wildfire…often without being fact-checked, without the user consciously thinking about what kind of ripple effects and consequences sharing that particular story, meme, tweet, etc. will have.

There is a big difference between passion and hate, and it seems like lately, people tend to confuse the two. I understand being passionate about something, willing to stand up and fight for your beliefs. So when does it cross the line to hate? When it harms other people? When it harms your own well-being? The measurement is probably different for everyone, and only you can make that call.

Where is your energy going? If you are focused on the negative, then all of your energy and attention is only making that negativity stronger. “But what about all these other people who are spreading hate and misinformation, how do I change their minds?” you might ask. I could answer with something like “only love can conquer hate”, and while I do think that’s true, it doesn’t quite address the reality of the extent and amount of hate that we face every, single day. The thing is, you can’t control anyone other than yourself. So you concentrate on YOU.

“Never waste energy on talking to a closed door with a person ready to fight behind it. First work on releasing the fight, then opening the door, and then finally finding any middle ground for reason. Then a dialogue can start.” ~ Casey Kochmer, Personal Tao

Where is your energy going? To what are you giving your attention? Is your focus only serving to spread and invigorate hate or are you helping to overcome it?

Posted in Awareness, Food For Thought, Frustration, Inspiration, Peace, Philosophical Ponderings, Social Media, Zen | 2 Comments

~ Scraggly Dandelion in a Concrete Crack ~

This month’s theme at the BeZine is all about resistance. The community of artists and poets, seers and doers have come together to show our resistance to all of the madness and badness pervading our country lately. Not just with the craziness of the recent election cycle (although that is prominent) but the unrest, hate and intolerance that seems to be spreading around the world. We must RESIST adding to the darkness. Below is my humble offering to this month’s issue. I hope it makes you think. And I hope you check out the rest of the ‘Zine for some extraordinary examples of creative resistance!

Image from Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike License Source author: Kleuske

Image from Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike License Source author: Kleuske

It begins, with one brave enough to appear.
One idea, one voice in an asphalt void.
Oligarchs try to crush all dissension with fear.
Undaunted, the idea will not be destroyed,
Shares roots with others; reassures, “I’m still here.”

One soft heartbeat, then two, then ten.
It becomes a thrumming pulse of multitudes.
Hundreds turn to thousands, to millions and then
It can’t be paved over with false platitudes.
Like defiant dandelions, reaffirm, “We’re still here.”

While those in power, on their golden thrones,
Bloated and squinty-eyed from swallowing so much hate,
Full of flatulent, hot air and pompous-pride groans,
Fail to recognize that their hour groweth late.
The masses are gathering; reassert, “No more fear!”

History paints rebels and martyrs the same:
Trading their lives for belief in their causes.
The greater the oppression, the brighter the flame
Of kindled resistance in lieu of such losses.
The full bloom of awakening, “We won’t disappear!”

To the tyrants, the haters, the xenophobes, too,
The racists, misogynists, who spew toxic bile:
No matter your claims for your self-righteous views,
You must understand: our resistance is fertile.
Love conquers hate, and it will always persevere.

~ © CLR 2017

Posted in Awareness, Flowers, Future, Love, Poetry, Politics, Resistance | Leave a comment