Wednesday, December 31, 2014

" and a deep blue sky.."

The New Year arrived
 in utter simplicity-
 and a deep blue sky.
               -Kobayashi Issa

Friday, December 26, 2014

"Enjoy where you are.."

"Happiness, not in another place but this place...not for another hour, but this hour.” Walt Whitman

     Researchers and social scientists repeat over and over like haunting song lyrics every 365 days that New Years resolutions don't work. So enough already. Instead of trying to lose weight, give up chocolate or promise to pay down debt  this year, how about trying something realistic that you'll actually enjoy.  Here are five simple ways to feel happier in 2015.

*Get more rest.*  If you've ever forced yourself to stay awake for 24 hours you begin to understand why sleep deprivation is considered a form of torture. Our bodies need sleep to recharge both mentally and physically.  Can't go to sleep earlier? Try catching a quick nap during the day. Believe it or not sleep researchers report sleep greatly affects our sensitivity to negative emotions. During one experiment  using a facial recognition task, researchers studied how sensitive participants were to positive and negative feelings. Those who worked through the afternoon without taking a nap became more sensitive to negative emotions like fear and anger. 

*Do one thing at a time.*  Sounds deceptively simple but amazingly most human beings fail to master the art of  performing one single activity well.  Want less stress and worry in your life? Live each moment. Now is now, not the past or future.  Put down the smart phone, turn off the TV, close the laptop; not only pay attention to WHAT you are doing but WHY  you are doing it. As you slow down you will find yourself savoring each bite of food, each songs melody, each photograph you admire,  each word from a loved one, each sunset you've ignored. (And you know you have.)

*Go Outside*  Want to feel better fast? Exercise has always been one of the most effective ways to boost your mood. Exercise can help you relax, increase your brain power, and even improve your body image, even if you don't lose any weight.  Something as simple as a ten minute walk can make you happier and healthier. Studies also show that pet owners who regularly walk their dogs are less prone to heart issues and depression.

*Practice Gratitude*   Gratitude is a keen awareness that no matter our circumstances we have something or someone to be thankful. At our lowest or weakest moments we may depend upon our gift of gratitude to realign our perspective with what is truly important in our lives.  Keep a gratitude journal, perform random acts of kindness, volunteer, give to charity. Place more focus on what you have and less on what you don't.

*Take Charge*  Remember this always, you deserve happiness. Happiness is a birthright. Happiness is a choice. But don't ever expect other people, places, objects or things to make you happy. In order to take charge you have to let go of waiting. Let go of finding Mr. or Miss Right,  the perfect job, the next house, the next child or having enough money. You and you alone are responsible for your own happiness today, tomorrow and in the coming year. 

   With love and peace - Happy New Year !

Saturday, December 20, 2014

"Although its been said many times, many ways...."

"If Higbee thinks I'm working one minute past 9:00, he can kiss my foot. Ho ho ho."

     How well do you know your holiday movies?  Take the following quiz and find out. Name the character and the film or show. The answers are below. But no peeking! Do you want to be on Santa's Naughty List?...again!

1.-"I just don't understand Christmas, I guess. I like getting presents and sending Christmas cards and decorating trees and all that, but I'm still not happy. I always end up feeling depressed. "

2.- "Only I didn't say "fudge." I said THE word, the big one, the Queen-Mother Of Dirty Words, the "F-dash-dash-dash" word! "

3.- "We're kicking off our fun old fashion family Christmas by heading out into the country in the old front-wheel drive sleigh to embrace the frosty majesty of the winter landscape and select that most important of Christmas symbols."

4.-"You smell like beef and cheese, you don't smell like Santa."

5.- "Oh, Christmas isn't just a day, it's a frame of mind... and that's what's been changing. That's why I'm glad I'm here, maybe I can do something about it."

6.- "Then there would be millions of disappointed children around the world. You see, children hold the spirit of Christmas within their hearts. You don't wanna be responsible for killing the spirit of Christmas, now would you... Santa?"


7.-"Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?"

8.-"I must stop this *whole* thing! Why, for fifty-three years I've put up with it now. I must stop Christmas from coming... but how?"

9.- "Oh, Vermont should be beautiful this time of the year, with all that snow."

10.- "It's a poor excuse for picking a man's pocket every December the 25th. But as I seem to be the only man who knows that... take the day off. "

11. "I hope you aren't expecting a lot from Santa. A federal offense probably puts you on the naughty list this year. "

12.- "You know, I think this Christmas thing is not as tricky as it seems! But why should they have all the fun? It should belong to anyone! Not anyone, in fact, but me! Why, I could make a Christmas tree! And there's not a reason I can find, I couldn't have a Christmastime! I bet I could improve it, too! And that's exactly what I'll do! "

Answer Key:  1.)Charlie Brown-"A Charlie Brown Christmas 
2.) Ralphie Parker-"A Christmas Story"  3.)Clark Griswold- "Christmas Vacation"  4.) Buddy the Elf-"ELF"  5).-Kris Kringle-"Miracle on 34th Street  6.) Bernard-"The Santa Clause" 7.)Clarence-"It's a Wonderful Life"  8.) The Grinch-"How the  Grinch Stole Christmas  9.) Judy Haynes-"White Christmas"  10.) Ebeneezer Scrooge-"The Muppet Christmas Carol"  11.) David Martin-"Holiday in Handcuffs"  12.) Jack Skellington - "The Nightmare Before Christmas"

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

"All endings bring new beginnings."

“Now, for my younger viewers out there, a book is something we used to have before the internet. It’s sort of a blog for people with attention spans.”
― Stephen Colbert

             The Colbert Report's first episode aired  October 17th 2005 on Comedy Central. Following an amazing ten year run  the show will end this Thursday, December 18th 2014.  As an offshoot of Jon Stewart's The Daily Show, The Colbert Report is a cerebral parody where an audience gets "blown away by the USA" as Colbert pays homage to the self-important, unquestioning hardcore patriotism of "The O'Reilly Factor" or the Rush Limbaugh's and Glenn Becks of the world. Colbert's on air persona "steers the great ship of NEWS through the channels of TRUTH."  Colbert coined the 2006 Merriam-Webster "Word of the Year" "truthiness"   which means- "truth that comes from the gut, not books." or "the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true."

       As a satirical newscaster Colbert was able to bring a humorous perspective to the problems facing our nation and shed light on  difficult issues around the globe. His brilliant segments with political figures, authors, actors and musicians introduced us to our own dormant level of intellectual aptitude. Stephen Colbert and his exceptional team of writers  for the The Colbert Report have earned numerous Emmy's, Peabody Awards and even a Grammy.  As a lover of comedy, it's been a rare and special experience to be part of a devoted legion of fans known as the "Colbert Nation".  There will be an irreplaceable void in our late night skies.
   Many Colbert fans including me, admit one of our all time favorite interviews was part of Grim Colberty Tales, a two part series with late children's author Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are, Chicken Soup with Rice).  During the entertaining  witty exchange Sendak is being refreshingly honest and true to himself. The link below will take you to the Comedy Central website where you can watch and share all of The Colbert Report's greatest moments.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

"But I have promises to keep."

"He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow."

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening 

                                                            by  Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sounds the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

"We have to explore the world within us."

“Imagination is the source of every form of human achievement. And it's the one thing that I believe we are systematically jeopardizing in the way we educate our children and ourselves.”
― Ken Robinson

         Sir Kenneth Robinson is one of the most recognized international advisors on education. The innovative English author and speaker has inspired school systems, teachers, art programs, governments, and non-profit organizations worldwide which include the Royal Shakespeare Company, Sir Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, the Royal Ballet, the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, the European Commission, UNESCO, the Council of Europe, the J Paul Getty Trust and the Education Commission of the States. Robinson was Professor of Arts Education from 1989 - 2001  at the University of Warwick.UK. He was knighted in 2003 for his service to the arts.
        Always at the forefront of education, Robinson has stated, "If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original." Creativity is more than the arts, it encompasses every thing we do. Creativity is a disciplined process that requires skill, knowledge, and control. But along with the process comes the ability to allow ourselves to make mistakes. Our mistakes make us far more than break us.

 "The challenges we currently face are without precedent. More people live on this planet now than at any other time in history. The world's population has doubled in the past 30 years. We're facing an increasing strain on the world's natural resources. Technology is advancing at a headlong rate of speed. It's transforming how people work, think, and connect. It's transforming our cultural values." Robinson stated in an interview with ASCD ( Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development)

     In the thought provoking video above entitled "How are You Intelligent?", we receive a beautiful glimpse of how our perception of imagination, intelligence and creativity need to radically evolve in order to ensure our survival. 

Photo credits:
Fredrik Lonnqvist
Nicky Kelvin

Sunday, December 7, 2014

"A note of inspiration."

"It occurred to me by intuition, and music was the driving force behind that intuition. My discovery was the result of musical perception." (When asked about his theory of relativity)—Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955) Theoretical physicist 

      A popular story circulating right now is the discovery of a digitized collection of Albert Einstein's essays and correspondences. One specific letter unveiled by astrobiologist, David Grinspoon was composed in November of 1911, addressed to chemist and two-time Nobel-Laureate, Marie Curie. Einstein's intent was to reassure Curie she was indeed a brilliant scientist, imploring her to ignore the ignorant comments of tiresome trolls who Einstein refers to as "reptiles". His encouraging words applied far beyond professional life. Marie Curie was being persecuted for having an affair with a student of her deceased husband Pierre, named Paul Langevin, who was estranged from his wife at the time. Due to the anti-Semitism of the day, Curie was doubly shunned for her associations.
     Einstein was a champion for the disenfranchised and the inspiration for thousands of scientists worldwide including the originator of quantum theory, Max Planck and theoretical physicist, David Bohm. He was the catalyst for millions of researchers and students around the world. So who was the muse for one of the greatest minds in human history? Einstein found his greatest motivation came from listening to and playing music. Genius to genius. His greatest inspiration--Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
     Einstein once revealed that while Beethoven created his music, Mozart's  "was so pure that it seemed to have been ever-present in the universe, waiting to be discovered by the master."   As in physics, it was noted Einstein believed beyond observations and theory lived the music of the pulsating cosmos, "pre-established harmony" enchanting us with the most stunning symmetries. Or simply put, Mozart seemed to pluck his music from the air as if plucking a heavenly harp that belonged to him all along. Learning to play violin at age 5, Einsteins affinity with Mozart began at the age of 13 and continued throughout his adulthood, even inspiring him through some of his darkest hours struggling at a patent office, enduring a difficult marriage and  his constant money troubles. So much more than physicist, Einstein was fully engaged in politics, an eccentric ahead of his time who supported women's rights and lobbied for equality. Einstein understood the beauty of E=MC2 as much as the beauty of harmony and melody. Music has a power to unite and inspire the most remarkable insights. His deep love for music was essential to his own perception of his life's journey.
   " Life without playing music is inconceivable for me,” he once said, “I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music… I get most joy in life out of music.”


Thursday, December 4, 2014

" Take my hand."

“In order to do anything about the suffering of the world we must have the strength to face it without turning away.”
― Sharon Salzberg,
A Heart as Wide as the World: Stories on the Path of Lovingkindness

          Empathy isn't New Age, feel good philosophy designed by pacifists or created by socially conscious "tree huggers".  Empathy isn't singing Kumbaya around a campfire or some sissified solution for anger management issues. Empathy requires more strength and courage than many of us will ever know yet is essential for our own survival. It seems we are in great deficit right now. The ability to understand and share the feelings of another human being allows us to resolve critical conflicts locally and internationally. Empathy isn't pity or condescending because when you practice empathy you are equal to another, not superior.

    Contemporary cognitive researchers often differentiate between two types of empathy: “Affective empathy”  or the sensations we feel in response to others’ emotions. These feelings can include mirroring what another person is feeling, or detecting when people are stressed, fearful or anxious. “Cognitive empathy,”  or “perspective taking,”  is our ability to understand or identify other peoples’ emotions. This also includes non-verbal clues such as identifying facial expressions and body movements. Studies suggest that people with autism spectrum disorders have a harder time expressing empathy. Scientist's have proven that animals have the ability to empathize with each other and humans. Sociopaths and narcissists on the other hand have almost no ability or desire to feel another persons emotions.

      Why is empathy so important? Think about this. Putting yourself in the "other person's shoes" or "seeing things through someone else's eyes." is the force that instills trust in our relationships. Have you ever loved someone so much you wanted to be able to experience every emotion they were feeling? You want their happiness and security as much as you want your own. The true measure of our empathy is how we treat human beings and especially animals who have no "use" or benefit to us. Considering the thoughts and feelings of others allows us to make intelligent and informed choices. Empathy is a difficult skill to exercise because it requires us to take a good hard honest look at our motives and closely examine our selfish behaviors. How do we recognize pain in others? How do we identify suffering? What is the root cause of their suffering? We have to imagine ourselves in the same situation. We have to be open and curious about the perceptions, thoughts and ideas of others. We have to ask questions. We need to know history, the stories of hope, fear, passion and dreams. Most importantly we have to listen without our own judgments. With awareness comes the motivation to take positive action. Actions that will heal lives rather than destroy them.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

" Know Your Rights "

"All human beings, whatever their cultural or historical background, suffer when they are intimidated, imprisoned or tortured . . . . We must, therefore, insist on a global consensus, not only on the need to respect human rights worldwide, but also on the definition of these rights . . . for it is the inherent nature of all human beings to yearn for freedom, equality and dignity, and they have an equal right to achieve that."    Tenzin Gyatso - 14th Dalai Lama

         Imagine for a moment. If someone came up to you on the street asking for your definition of  "human rights", how would you respond? We may think we know when our rights have been violated but what rights are protected by law? It appears to be a deceptively easy question. What exactly are our "human rights"? Human rights are basic rights and freedoms that all people are entitled to regardless of nationality, sex, race, religion, national or ethnic origin, language, or other status. Human rights include political  and civil rights, the right to life, liberty and the freedom of expression. Human rights include social, economic and cultural rights. The right to participate in culture, the right to food, the right to education and the right to work are all included in the definition  of human rights. Human rights are protected and upheld by national and international laws and treaties.

  The universality of human dignity is the cornerstone of international human rights law. At first emphasized in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights in 1948, the principal of universal human rights has been restated in a number of international human rights resolutions conventions, and declarations.  For example, The 1993 Vienna World Conference on Human Rights, reiterated that it is the duty of States(countries) to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems. But how do we make these statements a reality for billions of men, women and children  worldwide who continue to suffer horrible atrocities each day? How do we turn words into reality? It is imperative that we understand our human rights in order to protect ourselves and protect the rights of human beings all around the globe. 

     December 10th has been designated Human Rights Day commemorating the day in 1948 when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights clarifies 30 basic human rights:  

Article 1.

  • All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2.

  • Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
  • Article 3.

    • Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person

 Please continue Articles  4-30  here:

Friday, November 28, 2014

"Watching the clouds float across the sky."

"Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time."--John Lubbock

     "Listening is a skill we are in danger of losing in a world of digital distraction and information overload." writes Seth S. Horowitz, PhD. a neuroscientist whose work in comparative and human hearing, balance and sleep research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and NASA. We need solitude.
     In a world of wonderful high tech advances and instant communication, no one appears to be effectively hearing or listening to each other at all. Have we forgotten how to listen? Effective listening requires attention. Listening requires our focus on the speaker. When we are incapable of focusing our attention on one task our minds turn to our self-to me, me, me- again. We are only listening to the mental dialogue in our heads. "What should I make for dinner?" "I hope traffic's not bad on the way home." "Is there a good movie on television tonight?" "Did I check my email this afternoon?" Our inner chatter is endless and prevents us from placing our full attention on the person speaking. Our thoughts are like clouds. Imagine each thought cloud that appears in your mind while you are having a conversation. Learn to recognize and acknowledge your thought clouds, let them float past and shift your attention back to the speaker.
    Solitude not only allows us a brief respite from the noise and demands of daily existence, it allows us the opportunity to focus our attention on listening to our inner voice. One thing constant stimulation and multi-tasking is taking away from the current generation is the ability to focus. Being present is an important component of focus. How many times have we taken a cell phone photo of an event we are supposed to be enjoying in the moment? Are we listening to our friends excited comments about a concert or just typing highlights of a conversation on social media? Or as psychiatrist and author M. Scott Peck stated,  
   "You cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time." 
 When we practice our ability to concentrate on any task, we develop the ability to focus on hearing what others are saying. Solitude allows us to begin with listening to ourselves.

Monday, November 24, 2014

"We have a choice."

“We must never forget that it is through our actions, words, and thoughts that we have a choice.” ~Sogyal Rinpoche 

Rain, hail, snow and ice:
All are different,
But when they fall
They become the same water
As the valley stream

- Ikkyu

Friday, November 21, 2014

"To the waters and the wild."

"Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand."
W.B. Yeats, The Collected Poems

   Unleash the ravenous movie lover inside by devouring a feast of delightful December dishes. 

Opening December 12th, critically acclaimed director Ridley Scott's epic Exodus:Gods and Kings features the incredible Christian Bale, Ben Kingsley, Joel Edgerton and Aaron Paul. The sweeping biblical adventure retelling the story of Moses freeing Egyptian slaves will satisfy any visual effects appetite. 

     Opening December 17th, The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies. Inspired by the brilliant mind of J.R.R. Tolkien, renowned director Peter Jackson brings us the final installment of the thrilling drama fantasy based on the Hobbit. The highly anticipated film finds us on the edge of our seats as the fate of Middle Earth is determined once and for all. The impeccable cast features screen legend Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman and Oscar winner, Cate Blanchette.

     Top off your holiday festivities with the scrumptious classic escapades of Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel reassembled by director Rob Marshall. The legendary Meryl Streep (see video feature above) plays a mischievous witch who conjures up twisted tales for Into the Woods. Teaching important life lessons to characters of popular children's books makes for enthralling and enlightening entertainment especially with an all star cast featuring Chris Pine, Emily Blunt and the seemingly ageless, Johnny Depp. Produced in part by Lucamar Productions, Marc Platt Productions and Walt Disney Studios, the PG rated film debuts in theaters  December 25th.

      A few more films to add to your December movie wish list:

Top Five featuring comedians Chris Rock & Kevin Hart opens on the 12th

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb with Ben Stiller and Robin Williams
Annie  opening the 19th

The Interview starring Seth Rogen and James Franco
Unbroken  directed by Angelina Jolie opens December 25th

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

"Listening is love."

"Listening  to someone closely is one of the most valuable gifts we can give to another human being."-David Isay, founder of StoryCorps

     TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design ) began as high impact conferences quickly transforming into an innovative nonprofit devoting the past 30 years to education, imagination and inspiration.  TED's mission: to simply spread ideas. With 18 minute video presentations in over 100 languages, no topic is off limits. Each year TED awards a one-million dollar prize to a person or organization that exemplifies a visionary view of our ever evolving world. The incentive is used to further support the global impact of their project wish.

      The 2015 TED PRIZE was awarded to David Isay as founder of StoryCorps.  Since its inception  ten years ago, StoryCorps creative force, Isay understood the great historical significance of sharing his own fathers unique journey.  StoryCorps has flourished into a passionate record of  seemingly ordinary people relating incredible narratives. Featured stories, pod casts, books, dvd's and animated shorts are available on their website. Discover how you and your loved ones can share your story here.  /

Friday, November 14, 2014

"An echo asking a shadow to dance."

"Lovers find secret places inside this violent world
  where they make transactions with beauty." -Rumi

          Xu Lizhi  submitted job applications to the Central Book Mall in Shenzhen,, a city in China's Guangdong Province. His love of literature lead him to dream of one day being a librarian. Unfortunately, he wasn't qualified for the position. He was also turned down for an assignment as librarian at Foxconn's internal library for employees. Despite his disappointment he continued to work for Foxconn, the company synonymous with a tragic mass of employee suicides between January and November of 2010. The deaths immediately drew media attention due to the number of contracts with American manufacturers such as Apple, HP and Dell. Following investigations by twenty Chinese universities it was determined that Foxconn was essentially a labor camp. Shortly after the studies, Foxconn increased  factory employee wages, asked  employees to sign "suicide pledges" and even installed special netting outside the building to catch free falling workers jumping to their deaths. Workers were forced to sign a legally binding document stating their families wouldn't sue the company if the employee self- injured or committed suicide. Xu Lizhi, an avid writer of essays, commentaries and poetry endured the soul numbing factory drudgery as long as he could. Hoping to sustain his desire to be creative, in his brief two-year tenure as a production line worker at Foxconn, Xu published more than 30 articles for their in-house magazine Foxconn People.
     On the 30 th of September 2014, at the age of twenty-four he took his own life. Following his death, his friends submitted his poetry to a Shenzhen newspaper. His poems have recently surfaced in newspapers worldwide as well as in online articles garnering much deserved praise for their vivid depiction of the spirit crushing, meaningless labor mercilessly imposed upon workers trying to survive.

     Poet E.E. Cummings once penned, "Unbeing dead isn't being alive." Where were the psychologists, counselors and health care advocates at Foxconn? Who was standing up for the workers?  Human beings were not meant to perform as emotionless, unthinking, unfeeling machines. There are billions of people in the world who are forced into labor or slave camp conditions due to one thing and one thing only- greed. Do the multi-million dollar corporations who so callously profit from slowly stealing a workers humanity have one ounce of empathy? We need to question. We need to find answers.We need to speak out for those who may be too afraid to speak or for those who can only speak to us with the words they leave behind.

 Below is a poem written December 2011, by Xu Lizhi,  "The Last Graveyard"

Even the machine is nodding off
Sealed workshops store diseased iron
Wages concealed behind curtains
Like the love that young workers bury at the bottom of their hearts
With no time for expression, emotion crumbles into dust
They have stomachs forged of iron
Full of thick acid, sulfuric and nitric
Industry captures their tears before they have the chance to fall
Time flows by, their heads lost in fog
Output weighs down their age, pain works overtime day and night
In their lives, dizziness before their time is latent
The jig forces the skin to peel
And while it's at it, plates on a layer of aluminum alloy
Some still endure, while others are taken by illness
I am dozing between them, guarding
The last graveyard of our youth.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

"Not one word."

"clouds very high look
not one word helped them get up there”
― Ikkyu, Crow with No Mouth

REAL  by Lisa More

Each minute cell holds cosmic soul

Our fragile frame of fragmented stars

explodes on dusty brain, DNA debris

a blueprint of the universe

buried deep in the nucleus of being

We carouse distant galaxies

revolve about illusion sun.

Illumined sparks as comets

glaze midnight skies.

Asleep, we are space travelers

with passports to the moon

dreaming reality.

Friday, November 7, 2014

"Our gratitude for their sacrifice."

"A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself. “
—Joseph Campbell

       Tuesday, November 11th our country will honor Armed Forces veterans past and present.
 Please take a moment to share your gratitude with those who bravely protected our nations citizens and those who continue to sacrifice on our behalf. 

Three Nonprofit Veterans Organizations You Need to Know.

The War Writer's Campaign is focused on the therapeutic release and benefits of storytelling. Ryan Weemer, a former Marine who earned a Purple Heart during the Battle of Fallujah, helped found the group after earning his degree in psychology and working as an education counselor at IAVA.(Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America)Writing has always been considered a catharsis as it serves as part of a deep healing process. Many veterans with post-traumatic stress and other psychological disorders are able to express their pain for the first time by sharing their stories which will provide a form of advocacy for improved future veterans services.
The mission right now is to promote social change surrounding veterans’ issues through written awareness,” Mr. Weemer said. (New York Other service organizations, government and especially family members are able to truly learn and empathize with the experience of veterans by reading their work. That is the power of therapy through communication
The Mission Continues is a nonprofit organization based in St. Louis, Missouri and founded by author and former Navy SEAL, Eric Greitens.The Mission Continues challenges military veterans to begin to serve and lead in their own communities across America by awarding community service fellowships to post 9/11 veterans. Once again they are challenged and empowered to transform their own lives by serving others and directly impacting their communities. Many veterans struggle to find the same purpose at home as they found in the military. Many veterans seek accomplishing a meaningful goal, camaraderie, security and discipline of a structured environment. The Mission Continues does not offer charity rather it challenges returning service members to utilize their hard earned skills and leadership to continue serving our country. Through service, veterans find renewed strength and purpose while building stronger communities. Their mission is fueled by a deeply respected philosophy that our veterans are assets whose leadership is needed now more than ever right here at home.
Launched May 10, 2012, the Got Your 6 campaign demonstrates a measurable impact through their work by bringing together veterans and civilians in America. Got Your is a collective initiative that unites the entertainment industry with veteran-oriented nonprofit organizations and federal government stakeholders.Got Your 6 is starting and changing the conversation in the US to ensure that veterans and military families are perceived as leaders and civic assets returning home to re energize our own communities. The initiative hopes to accomplish these goals through an awareness building campaign, along side an activation strategy focused on six pillars of veteran reintegration: jobs, education, housing, health, family, leadership.Got Your 6 in military terms means that someone is watching out, protecting you from harm. They got your back. They got your 6. Check out even more great information on their website.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

"What you see is what you see."

“Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.”
― George Bernard Shaw

     Why do we need art? What purpose does it serve? Is it obvious? Is it complicated?
 Is the purpose of art to make us feel something deep inside?  Should we gain insight into our own humanity? Is it is way of connecting to something greater than ourselves?  "What is art for?" is a question that all cultures and nations speculate.  World renowned theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein wrote in his contemplative volume "Living Philosophies", 

 " The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead —his eyes are closed." 

   Art exists in many forms because it is a primal behavior. We are born to create whether it be music, dance, haiku or inventing the Chia-Pet. We all have artistic instincts. We all have artistic talent. We need art to express who we are. We use art to tell our stories. We need art to heal ourselves and others. Art inspires us to look at the world from a different perspective. It keeps us searching. Art is unrestricted imagination. It is without labels. It allows us to uncover and discover. Art is fearless.

   Not always beautiful, art can be used to express beauty depending on our aesthetic. A gorgeous sunset, the ocean, the swirl of colorful autumn leaves, the curve of a lovers lips-all natures magnificent masterpieces. Art is a voice, a movement, the sound of a lyrical poem.  Art is our eyes wide open.    


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

"An echo from another time."

"Trick or Treat. Smell my feet. Give me something good to eat."

    My earliest  trick-or-treat memory was when my Mom dressed me up as mini- Santa Claus including makeshift beard stretched from cotton balls and a big jelly belly of rolled up winter scarves. In full action mode, pillowcase slung over my back, we were off on an incredible spooky adventure.  With my two sisters in tow, we trekked through our neighborhood and beyond for miles gathering our massive bounty of sweet treat treasures. Upon returning home we dumped our goody bags out on the green shag carpet. Admiring its luscious beauty we wanted to roll around in our candy as if we were the greedy Three Little Pigs in a luxurious mud bath. Our own personal pots of child's gold. Eyes wide as the moon, we stared salivating over the mouth watering deliciousness of every variety of chocolate bar, Sweet Tarts, Smarties, Pixie Sticks, Necco Wafers, caramels, candy necklaces, wax bottles of  drinkable goo and the occasional box of raisins or homemade cookie. No rocks.

     The day after Halloween, stuffing my face with candy, I manically rode my tricycle on our front porch for thirty minutes like the little boy from The Shining, "Redrum! Redrum!"  My energy level measured  Breaking Bad,"meth addict" on the uncontrollable kid scale. This was soon followed by collapsing into a long sugar induced slumber while watching Sesame Street. C-is for cookie, C- is for coma. Candy wrappers littered our living room like the  driveway of a  Dixie trailer park. Next thing I remember, I slowly woke up with sticky orange drool running down my chin. My stomach felt like it was gut checked by Mike Tyson and I had a Tootsie Roll lollipop suspended in my ponytail.

        So once a year let your mischievous monsters and ghostly goblins imagine they inherited Willy Wonka's factory and let it rain M&M's and Skittles. The memories are sure to haunt them forever.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

" You cannot take away hope."

“It takes great courage to open one's heart and mind to the tremendous injustice and suffering in our world.” ― Vincent A. Gallagher, author

      Premiering November 14th, Rosewater is based on the best-selling memoir "Then They Came for Me: A Family's Story of Love, Captivity, and Survival  by Maziar Bahari.   Screenwriter, comedian, actor, producer and host of "The Daily Show"  Jon Stewart makes his directorial debut. Rosewater follows the Tehran-born Bahari, (Gael García Bernal) a broadcast journalist with Canadian citizenship through months of terrifying injustice. 

     Bahari returned to Iran in June of 2009 to interview Mir-Hossein Mousavi, who was the rival of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  As Mousavi's supporters began to protest Ahmadinejad's victory hours before ballots were counted or polls closed, Bahari endangered his own life to send footage of intense rioting to the BBC. Soon after, Bahari was arrested by police, and placed under interrogation by an unidentified man who called himself "Rosewater". For the next 118 days, Bahari was imprisoned and systematically tortured. Following an international plea led by Bahari's wife, igniting media outrage in the West, Iranian authorities finally released Bahari on $300,000 bail with an understanding he would spy for their country.

 Rosewater is an unflinching first-hand account of tyranny, oppression and disturbing abuse of political power. It is a story for all times, all nations, all people standing up for their rights everywhere in the world. Released by Open Road Films OddLot Entertainment,  Rosewater features Kim Bodnia, Halah Bilginer, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Golshifteh Farahani, Dimitri Leonidas, Claire Foy, Nasser Faris, Miles Jupp.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

"Begin the hours of this day slow."

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,

 gifRobert Frost (from A Boy’s Will, 1915)

O hushed October morning mild,

Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;

Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,

Should waste them all.

The crows above the forest call;

Tomorrow they may form and go.

O hushed October morning mild,

Begin the hours of this day slow.

Make the day seem to us less brief.

Hearts not averse to being beguiled,

Beguile us in the way you know.

Release one leaf at break of day;

At noon release another leaf;

One from our trees, one far away.

Retard the sun with gentle mist;

Enchant the land with amethyst.

Slow, slow!

For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,

Whose leaves already are burnt with frost

Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—

For the grapes’ sake along the wall.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

"Shadows of a thousand years."

"Shadows of a thousand years rise again unseen,
Voices whisper in the trees, "Tonight is Halloween!"
~Dexter Kozen

     What makes a song scary? With Halloween fast approaching, the appropriate music has the power to set ghoulish moods for ghostly celebrations or frightening  tricks-or-treater's from the front porch. But what elements of a composition make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end or send a shiver down your spine?   Researcher Daniel Blumstein, professor and chair of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California (Los Angeles ) may have an answer. Blumstein is an expert in animal distress calls or in scientific terms "nonlinear chaotic noise.”  He began exploring the link between nonlinear noise and scary music in a 2010 study of film soundtracks discovering horror scores significantly amp up the creep with blood curdling shock waves. Animal screeches, screams, crying babies, a haunting dissonant piano chord all trigger biologically ingrained responses in human beings. Since music is a huge part of our existence and permeates almost everything we do it seems natural that we associate certain sounds with terrifying moments of suspense. Recall any horror or paranormal movie that gripped your imagination, had you covering your eyes or squirming in your seat. You can shield your view but you can't get the sound out of your head. Sounds move us faster than our visual  perception. Your sense of hearing is never really turned off.  So what scary songs are on your bewitching Halloween soundtrack?  Here are a few to consider.

       My all time favorite creepy composition was created by legendary British band Bauhaus. Considered the fathers of Goth rock music, Bauhaus composed an eerie tribute to late Hungarian actor Bela Lugosi (Dracula). The song "Bela Lugosi is Dead" has been featured in horror films  The Hunger, and 2009's The Collector.

      The Thirst by Wymond Miles
      Dracula by Gorillaz 
      Halloween by The Misfits
      Red Right Hand by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
      Down by the Water by PJ Harvey
      Dark Legacy by  Midnight Syndicate
      The Prestige Movie Soundtrack
      & this hauntingly beautiful classic track from the Exorcist- Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield

Enjoy making your own spooky soundtrack.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

"The emptiness inside holds whatever you want."

"Of this poetry
  I'm left with the
  emptiness of an endless
- Giuseppe Ungaretti

      Director, Alejandro G. Iñárritu's black comedy, Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) was shot in what magically appears to be one long continuous take in only thirty days costing a mere 16 million dollars to produce. Ironically, the same glorified show business types the movie mocks have eagerly turned up their thumbs faster than Arthur Fonzarelli attracts hot chicks  Critics have been raving about the depth of Birdman's superb writing, performances and especially Iñárritu's visionary scope as a director. Emmanuel Lubezki, who won an Oscar for cinematography (Gravity )adds effortless edgy beauty to every scene. Birdman was brilliantly scripted by Iñárritu with  Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr.and Armando Bo.

     Starring, the remarkable Michael Keaton as the brooding former superhero Riggan Thomson, Birdman also features an incredible cast including Edward Norton, Zach Galafianakis, Naomi Watts, Amy Ryan and Emma Stone. The Fox Searchlight film premiers October 17th in limited release.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

"Things are meant to change."

“And all the lives we ever lived and all the lives to be are full of trees
and changing leaves.”
― Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse

 Demo #5       by Lisa More

Afternoon blue fades, horizon pales

Grey skies clutch the clouds in autumn rain

His eyes strike like lightening, thunder rages

dwell within the shelter of embrace

raindrops lash upon lips

in ghostly dance the rising mist forms

beads of crystal lingering on warm skin

diving deeper, gasping for breath

his eyes drown me under surging waves

flooded by his fury, grasping at tides

in the sweetest sinking of my surrender.

Friday, October 10, 2014

"When the world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful."

"When the world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful."- Malala Yousafzai


"Education is education. We should learn everything and then choose which path to follow. Education is neither Eastern nor Western, it is human."- Malala Yousafzai