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literary criticism listens to cognitive science and talks back too

Register by Sunday, March 8 to guarantee your spot! Chris is the executive director of the Lancaster-based Center for Community Peacemaking and has practiced Playback Theatre and other interactive arts for more than ten years. Our identities are made up of lots of aspects: age, race, gender, sex, class, and on and on. Who will be there? Sarah is a consultant, trainer and activist. She is a lead facilitator for the Whites Confronting Racism series at Training for Change and an artist-in-residence with the Pennsylvania Council of the Arts.

We strive to make this retreat affordable for everyone and appreciate your honest self-assessment of how much you can afford. Includes food, cozy lodging and dynamic leadership in a newly rebuilt lodge in wooded Pennsylvania. Sleeping accommodations are in two bunk rooms. How to get there? Members of River Crossing can pick you up at bus stations in Gettysburg or York or train stations in Lancaster or Harrisburg. How to register? Space is limited so register asap! Contact the registrar, colleen jubileearts. Jeremy Kiskaddin as the musician in the Healing York performance series River Crossing Playback Theatre in Columbia, PA is seeking a playful multi-instrumental musician to join our community theatre ensemble.

In Playback theatre performances, audience members share thoughts, feelings, memories and autobiographical accounts, then watch as a team of actors and musicians transform these experiences into improvised theatre pieces. Musician candidates must be skilled in improvisation, sensitive to tone and story, and should have a passion for community healing through performing arts.

Being able to step into small acting roles a plus! Contact shelly rivercrossingplayback. Because then I began to wake up to the idea that manhood, as passed on to me by my father, my scoutmaster, my gym instructor, my army sergeant, that vision of manhood was a blueprint for self-destruction and a lie, and that was a burden that I was no longer able to carry. Where are the men? This essay began with a practical and timely question. The Playback Theatre company I founded in South Central Pennsylvania seven years ago is now finally thriving and growing with nine committed core members.

But apart from the musician and me, the rest were women. Without a comprehensive survey, the majority of volunteer Playback Theatre troupes I know in North America seem to share this challenge. Seriously funny? Photo credit: Remi Crist. The recent death of one of the funniest Americans of our time, Robin Williams, spurred me to release these words into the wild.

Try and pay closer attention to common places in your life, such as home, work, the grocery store, or a local park. Spend more time thinking about and watching your local environment in order to find something that inspires you. Try out these fun ways to make your daily routine more engaging and inspiring: [3] Walk around your house and try to find 5 to 10 items that you forgot about.

Re-engage with them and remember the story of how they came to be in your possession. Take a new route to work. If you normally drive or take public transit, try riding a bike or walking. Instead, try listening to the conversations of the people around you. These stories may help to promote new and creative thoughts. Change your creative environment. If you normally do your creative work from an office or studio, try changing your environment to help inspire you in a variety of ways.

You may find inspiration from the scenery, scents, and sounds that surround you in an unfamiliar space. For example, instead of writing at home, work in a coffee shop or library to mix up the scenery. Alternatively, if you typically work inside, try relocating to an outdoor environment, like a park or garden. Engage with nature to get inspired and spark your imagination.

Walking through nature and observing animals, plants, stars, and clouds has been a source of inspiration for many artists throughout history. Spend some time outdoors each day learning how plants and animals live. It is easy to find inspiration in the natural beauty of the world. You can also try travelling to different parts of the world to experience unique landscapes.

Similarly, if you are a writer, bring a notebook and write down some of the feelings and words that come to mind while you are consumed by the natural world. You can also take photographs of images that you find interesting or inspiring, like a huge old tree or a dew-covered spiderweb. That way, you can return to the image later, when you are ready to do some creative work and need some ideas.

Go for a walk to overcome creative blocks. Sometimes people have creative blocks because they are struggling to find new ideas. If this happens to you, get up and go for a walk. Let yourself relax and allow your mind to wander as you move. You are more likely to have an epiphany while you are away from your workspace and actively walking around. When it comes to stirring the creative juices, the act of walking matters more than the environment itself.

Even walking on a treadmill while facing a blank wall can help jumpstart your creativity! Method 3. Socialize with people to get new ideas and perspectives. A great way to find a muse or inspiration is by socializing with a variety of people. Surround yourself with several personality types in your daily life and observe how each of them respond to both normal and unique situations.

These observations can help to inspire creative stories. For example, think of a time when your friend did something that was hilarious or interesting. Can you find inspiration in these stories? You may find inspiration in stories about people overcoming adversity. You could also find inspiration in stories of hardship and loss. Seek out other creative people who share your passion. Often people will find a muse in other creative people who inspire them by creating art. For example, if you are a musician, you may get inspired by other musicians who are creating new and unique sounds and music.

Ask them where they get their artistic inspiration and how they create art on a daily basis. Why would they allow it to live?

The Passionate Muse: Exploring Emotion in Stories

Life is hard. Learn to live with what you got. Work to thrive in the perfection of your imperfection. I have. Even when brats picked me clean. You can too. No excuses. There will be a time when people will want what you produce for their own selfish purposes. Stand strong. Brace for any condition. Bloom when the weather feels right to do so again. Understand that most who cross your path are temporary. Growth emerges from beauty or ugliness. Under your radar, I will prosper — despite what you believe. Happiness ebbs and flows.

Muse & the Marketplace Full Schedule

Life happens. Bad situations arise. In turn, you will bear cynical fruit. Revel in sorrow a bit. Not too long, though. If I can, you can. Mock the ugly in me? Swallow that bitter crabapple. Me or you? How do the odds appear now? Thanks to Google Maps I know that crabapple teacher is indeed, still alive. Perhaps this tree got the best of me. Maybe today, based on how the world has changed, it stays safe and thrives behind a barrier. Guarded from jerks. In a popular Netflix movie, Sandra Bullock and two children are focused to escape an ominous force that motivates observers to commit suicide.

Victims stare into nothing, hear voices of deceased loved ones, perhaps experience their greatest fears, their pupils get weird and then BOOM. Suddenly, poor bastards are jumping in front of cars, stabbing themselves in the neck with scissors. Blindfolds are a necessity.

Art of Emotion, Storytelling & Heart

Birds can detect when this invisible death mist is rolling in. They go into a frenzy. The heart of the film is a blindfolded crew of Bullock and two children who must travel a treacherous river to safe haven. Ironically, a home for the blind located downstream. Our three protagonists have the ragged clothes on their backs and death-grip on a box with a strap. The box has holes.

Inside the box? You got it. A couple of birds. Inside your body is the best primal warning system on the planet. So, How do we trust our guts more often? I was involved with a person who exhibited signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Most important, I wanted to figure out who I was and why I fell so hard for someone with this alleged condition. The gut nudged me on numerous occasions to get the hell away. However, my thoughts, mostly my heart, promptly suffocated the birds; I carelessly discounted my Gut Box.

I was in denial. I thought it would get better. It got worse. Only rivaled by a negative experience with a former employer, this was the worst association of my lifetime so far. I have nobody to blame but the person who stares at me in the mirror. I know people immersed in repeated instances, entrenched patterns with those who are unhealthy for them. Now when my Gut Box flutters, I listen. I am conditioned to conclude, depart, and never look back. It took pain to awaken my respect for the Gut Box. Never be afraid to walk away or at the least, fully explore what your inner voice is telling you.

Your gut is a survival tool. The best early-warning system you got. Ignore it at your own risk. In reality, ignoring the Gut Box may cause death, too. Your inner warning system deserves attention. Stop the attempts to rationalize or squelch the voice. As children, we observed people through clear lens. As adults, our lens are smeared and warped by life experiences and biased perceptions.

The more proficient you become at verbal and physical cues, the stronger a gut sense will become, too. Be an observer. Work out your core Gut Box. Stand outside life and look in a bit. Sit in a coffee shop or any populated public place with pen and paper and notice how those around you behave. Can you pick up on verbal and physical cues?

Anything you can do to sharpen observation skills will help to work out your core Gut Box. No questions asked. Sure, you will mess up a couple of times. The collateral danger is worth long-term health and sanity. Ironically, a well-toned Gut Box can make you seem psychic. A Gut Box will allow you to engage with the world and not cut yourself off based on negative episodes of the past, thus making you increasingly socially adaptable!

So, watch Bird Box. Personally, I thought it was meh. No big deal. Too many holes in the script, but enjoyable. Every moment, every encounter- happiness, suffering, loss — treated as a welcomed visitor. Embrace the stranger or friend forever at the door. Amor Fati — the zealous acceptance for all that crosses our path. To fight Amor Fati is to burn inside. Wedged within the hot space between where we wish things were in place of gratitude for how things are, festers a debilitating friction.

Ironically, to fight, to wish things were different, is to fall victim to despondency and self-pity. I admit Amor Fati is a great challenge. Like when a car starts to veer into another lane. A spark goes off in the brain, you take corrective action. My continued challenge in will be Amor Fati that loveable scamp. What will you do to accept it into your life?

Get it? Do it. Yea, I know. Pain in the ass. At least I thought. Then at night before sleep I started to document 3 things I was thankful for. Some of it was stupid shit like not spilling coffee on my shirt which tends to happen often. Just the opposite. I had a health scare a couple of years ago based on an aberrant blood chemistry. For an hour I was frightened. I became detective Columbo to understand what I may be ahead for me and the latest medical diagnostics available to determine whether I really had something to worry about.

Long story short, I found a prominent specialist who believed in the advanced medical testing I suggested and although expensive I was able to avoid an unnecessary and highly inaccurate , biopsy procedure. Trust me. I have 0 expectations of anybody I know, anyone I encounter, every engagement.

Truly zero. And with that process comes zero disappointment. It was like my mind subconsciously established a test, set some bar that others needed to pass or jump for me to feel happy. This revelation has sparked encouragement to seek the good or at least pleasant, in each encounter and engage the present moment. Sound strange? Yes, a bit. However, it keeps me grounded as I realize nothing is permanent. The healthier my savings account, the warmer my embrace of Amor Fati. Perhaps having cash to deal with adversities makes it easier to buffer financial fragility and remain calm enough to think a situation through.

Two years sounds even better. I visualize tossing wood into a fire. I see a stone hearth, raging flames. The core of a log connects with a color I feel at the peak emotion of an event: Blue for heavenly, amber for warm, red for anger, yellow for apathy. Good or bad, what fate provides and including us , inevitably turn to ash and forgotten. Each flame is beautiful. Each flame is different. Each flame dies. Within glowing ambers, it is all the same. In this unity and calm of an ending smolders Amor Fati. Well, some do. Unfortunately, trees are so rare, I usually do a double take when I see one.

Halt in my tracks just to gawk. Nostalgia neurons burn cobwebs, fire hot in my brain. Christmas trees stir childhood curiosity and just a touch of joy. Since Christmas ornaments only witness daylight once a year, the memories they keep, the stories they tell remain fresh and raw for what feels like an eternity. Home life in my youth was turbulent. There were consistent, life-shattering surprises. Security was not on the reality list. However, there were a few things in my life back then I could always depend and one was the variety of trees proudly showcased in business plate-glass and urban apartment windows that made up a tiny happy segment of my world.

I became an observer. A Christmas tree aficionado. Ornaments that adorned real pine, plastic, and even aluminum where the tips stealth-sliced your fingers. Shiny baubles seemingly proud to reflect and bend colored twinkles. Lights that that stick around, never to be extinguished In my mind. The beauty refuses to burn away.

Stories behind these trees and their artifacts were all too real. You see, those trees, along with the stuff straining branches, represented a shiny bright in time, now passed past. Wandering excited through the west side of Avenue U, a lower-middle class strip, hodge-podge of small business and family-run establishments in the Gravesend section of Brooklyn, NY on the Friday after Thanksgiving, is a fond memory of childhood.

When I think about the 4 city- block walk to the avenue, my eyes would dart frantically from one house and apartment window to the next, searching for a featured tree. In my mind, every window framed a story. Testaments to love, tradition and household stability. I mean what could go wrong when you had a Christmas tree in the house? In my imagination, these sentinels guarded against bad things. During the year I hated that place. My mother would drag me in to purchase Easter shoes every year.

However, Sal had one of the finest trees in the neighborhood; it was one of the few times I could walk into his establishment withhold a feeling of foreboding and fear for my sole. He walked to me and started to tell me the story behind the tree. Never forget the stories behind your tree. Those stories represent who you are; they stir a feeling you felt long ago. Old ornaments breathe new life into the good things from your past that are forgotten the rest of the year. Your tree is alive all year. Even when stored away, even when you skip years of extracting it from a cardboard tomb, the memories never die.

Nor should they. They are you. Who you were, who you are, who you always will be. Not enough trees, not enough memories, All selfie, no story. No tree in the heart, no element of humanity. Can you remember it today? Can you keep it tucked away and put it up when you need to feel love, warmth and security? I try. I fail. I try again. I stop trying.

I regroup. On occasion, I win, I learn, I grow. I am no longer impressed by decadence. The effort turns me on. Jordan B. The dirty stuff learned through toil and experience means everything. One word leads to six, then ten. Then a page. As my friend Randy Lemmon garden-expert extraordinaire says:.

However, you best know the weeds and kill them quick. That damn flower. I take notice how light accentuates grooves in the pedals at low sun; I can observe, sort out without mental drift, how and why it has a reason to exist so I can enjoy it, others can, too! I ask questions to the 25 trees at the homestead.

Depending the direction they sway, answers are revealed. And yes, they sway when queried. Or just a stop. Here are the 11 things I know. You have your personal doctrine. I have mine. Doctrines serve best those who create not criticize them. Share yours. Their intentions are untrue. They seek to use, inflict damage upon others. They follow a script that serves only them. I say let the universe deal with these types. Or worse. Get stuck in a life you hate. Learn to weather the shocks, enjoy the awe. Love and hate is fire and ice.


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Both burn. Both can motivate. Both can kill. Be the best at both. Leave your mark on others. Burn them or freeze them. Nothing in between. Adults manifest mind-garbage. Over time, a multiplying, rotting dump of negative experiences must be bulldozed aside with each new person met. Ultimately, the debris is piled so high and deep, you can no longer bulldoze it. The flow of love, the give-and-take of understanding, empathy, suffocates and dies among the rubble. Technology, especially social media has the ability to accelerate the build-up of garbage in the dump.

All throughout elementary school, high school and college I had to sit in the front row. I have no idea why. I believed my focus on the lessons would be better. I considered all who sat in the back as slackers and losers. Nobody taught me that. It was just my perception. Boy, was I wrong. Sit in the front, die from myopia.

Sit in the back, see the big picture. Feel less pressure. Yea, I sit close to or in the back.

Sitting up front is too narrow a perspective for me now. Want to feel small? Focus on the sky. Twice a day, 25 seconds. Far from it. Humility realigns focus on how to be a better iteration of a human. It allows you to give yourself a free pass, shake who you were at another time.

Any other time. Who you are now means everything. Dust People. My term for the darkest breed of narcissists. Those who use others for career advancement, sex and social status. They do nothing but lie and blame to divert from their true motivations. All the while, they create the ultimate relationship escape plan. They always have prospective new lovers suckers , waiting in the shadows.

The Rifleman was a hit television series from the late s through the early s. The saga of a proud father who alone raises his only son Mark McCain. In the brown-dirt land of New Mexico Territory the parameters of law are newly forged. Boundaries between life and death are easily blurred and crossed with devastating consequences. Micah Torrance, known equally for his sordid past and change of heart due to personal tragedy, had friends in high places like Granville Henderson Oury, a well-known American politician, lawyer, judge for the New Mexico Territory and fierce soldier who managed to survive the Crabb Massacre of where Americans were killed after an eight-day battle with Mexican forces.

Micah and Granville fought side-by-side through several bloody skirmishes. Dust could be feared as it was associated with drought and drought portends ruin. The abrasive nature of dirt and dust had the ability to rot clothes, rip bare skin, which made it important for cowboys to dress and protect accordingly. Scarves, heavy canvas, denim and tartan long-sleeved shirts.

The irony is Micah is a reluctant lawman; he possesses little faith in humanity and grapples with why he should bother to protect it. Perhaps they remind Micah of his own son and grandson slain by vengeful Apaches. After a six-month drought, the abandoned Emerson Ranch, three miles north of Northfork, appears dead and hopeless to Lucas McCain. He bends his lanky frame at the knees to observe a single flower that grows from the dust.

The dry powder he picks up to rub between his fingers disappears easily into the heat. Micah is behind him. Purposely silent until the quiet was 10 minutes too long. The dust. The dust is in your head, Lucas. Turn this into something. Get out of your head and into the toil. Nothing stays the same. The rain will come. Your head will clear.

Your thoughts will clear, Lucas Boy.


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  • The earth will show you what it can do. For you and Mark. The dark is no bother to me. Dust people you cannot change. You must detect and walk. Recognize every person you meet is not the best or the worst. Just something in-between. We are marginal at best, mired in the comfort of status quo. The best and the worst of people have lots of energy to share. I also find it fascinating what keeps them mired in middle.

    Is it security, fear, complacency, low T? Enough said. You can figure this one out on your own. Whatever we fight internal or external, we are drawn to or own a piece of it. One party needs to drop the weapons. Bad experiences are unwrapped gifts that provide lessons only when opened. In this society, at this time, your spirit is in constant jeopardy. I marveled how he lived. Perpetual discomfort in his own skin, especially when the topic turned to human hardships, death or separation from people he had embraced once or a thousand times.

    He was touched easier than most people. But mostly, scribbles on wrinkled college-ruled. I possess a few of those scribbles. He took in those he cared for. All the way in. No one who touched him was ever gone. They continued to tap him on the shoulder, sometimes a bit too much. Souls gone but never gone, faded to an image of a re-lived last goodbye or emerged as hard reverence. The tortured or hurt ones. He was heartbroken and haunted over deaths of youth. They were his losses. In a way, J. Back and forth in the dirt like an anxious child with an agitated hitch in his step, or nervous tic.

    Forming nervous heel arcs in the dirt. Perhaps it was the Tennessee high-octane that gave me the courage to pull the past into this moment, dig into the scars of heartbreaking tragedy. As I watched him ponder, perhaps relive that moment, I asked a question that popped into my head. It was a question that popped into my head because it was supposed to, I guess. Little did I know at the time how important the thought of 10 seconds was going to be. And asking the question. Over the following decade I was to lose everybody I cherished.

    The crisp of air that kisses sharp on the cheeks. Tiny blades of pain and comfort that are rarely never forgotten because it coupled with a first kiss. But when I asked JC, when I asked him what he believed his last 10 seconds would be like, what would he say?

    Ten times. Loved ones. They surround me but never wall me in. They encourage embrace.

    || Transform the Mess into the Message ||

    Write them. Feel them. One second. Slow it down. Turn it into 10 minutes, 10 hours, 10 days. Then know you have more time than 10 seconds. So, 10 seconds is a title. A thought. Headline candy. Nobody is talking anything coherent 10 blood-beats before life energy is released to the universe. And now you must think those words and hope they carry to a place they may hear them and hold you.

    The financial services sales forces as mass storytellers, have morphed once noble, efficient constructs into treacherous fairy tales. Tenured financial concepts which define the core of advice in the brokerage industry go relatively unchallenged. Investors, due to lack of experience about such matters, have a difficult time challenging the status quo or ask the right questions.

    The industry just needs to isolate and showcase a cycle where the old confines worked, push that specific period of time into the present and extrapolate the positive, perpetually into the future. Brokerage firm margins are embattled by the profit-draining effects of lower-for-longer interest rates. An egregious stretch of the truth emboldens the heavily-protected sanctuary of diversification. It rolls sweet off the tongue. It represents warmth of a blanket fresh out of the dryer, the scent of fresh-baked cinnamon rolls.

    Today, diversification as pitched by your broker, is a wolf dressed as Red Riding Hood. Many financial professionals have fooled themselves regarding its effectiveness. The outdated definition of diversification requires a tune up. The word gets thrown around like a remedy for everything which ails a portfolio. After all, what is free on Wall Street?

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    Investors who let their guard down, buy in to the myth of free lunches on Wall Street, ostensibly find their money on the menu.