Weaving Webs with Words

Conservation of a tapestry in the workshops of...

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The other day Hilary posted “Dream Weaver” using the metaphor of a tapestry to explain the journey of life:

“The journey into the past revealed a depth of memory, a rich tapestry of experience and opportunity for growth.”

This post resonated with me, as I have often used words like tapestry or weaving to explain concepts important to me,  even (I think) in some of the early posts on this blog. As a matter of fact, I quote here from the dusty tome of my dissertation that I have not looked at in years:

I prefer to think of culture as “a tapestry,” a metaphor given to me by carol North of Metro Theater Company. A tapestry contains interlocking lines of color that allow each strand to strengthen the beauty of the whole in order to work together to create the final image. At the same time, however, the creator of the tapestry can make choices for each individual strand that make one color seem to dominate. It is important to understand both the whole and the individual strands. In terms of our society, I think that we must ask what the whole represents: is it the dominant culture (white, male, heterosexual, able-bodied, middle-aged, upper-middle class, Anglo-Saxon, Christian) which has had control for so long, or is it some other entity that cannot survive without each individual strand? Each strand is different, made up of tiny fibers that give that strand its strength and color–just as each person is different, able to affiliate him/herself with multiple cultures based on personal choice, personal beliefs, and financial standing, as well as physical attributes. Yet, while individuals might affiliate themselves with one group, society still has some power in defining who we are and what roles we play in the overall tapestry, just as the creator of the tapestry assigns the roles played by the individual strands.”

[Side note: it was really strange to copy something that I don't even remember writing anymore. I do know that I originally had written a poem about tapestry that I wanted to include, but I don't know what happened to it. I really wrote that?]

I have explored the idea of lives interconnecting through invisible webs in numerous post. Click on the topic “Connections” on my side bar you will find posts celebrating friends, posts about the stories that connect us all, posts about the connections I’ve made in the past that still touch me in the present, posts about webs and tapestries and connecting the dots.

The theme keeps recurring, that our stories and our lives all intersect and connect in numerous ways to create the whole.

Even my fiction seems to reflect the theme of interconnected stories. The Moon Calls women together to share their stories and embrace their strengths. The Storyteller invites people around the fire to teach about tolerance and difference through stories. Her words merge in the air to create Pictures in the Flames. Wise Mother shares the gift of magic with a young apprentice, inviting her into the world of story telling and other magic.

The phrase Simultaneous Stories, keeps appearing in my notes and Morning Pages as well as my blog posts. I recently splurged on a little specialty notebook, in the hopes that perhaps keeping my ideas with me would help me focus and create.

The very first page contains the following list:

"Both shoeless in the sand"; kicked out for coming out; Simultaneous stories happen all the time. An hour in the day . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This interest in telling simultaneous stories isn’t recent. When I first applied to my doctoral program I wrote how I wanted to create a theatre piece that crossed cultural boundaries by being performed with people from a variety of nationalities utilizing multiple languages. I wanted that to be part of my dissertation, but was somehow talked out of it by an advisor who, at the time, believed that dissertations should follow a more traditional research method. Of course, just after I graduated applied research became the more popular mode of dissertation writing in my field, so I guess I was just ahead of my time (or perhaps I opened the doors for other people to walk through). Sigh!

Perhaps my struggle to find the story that I want to write comes from trying to focus on one story. Maybe the project I need to work on is one that brings together many stories, some of my own, some of yours, some of the people I have yet to meet.  In some ways my decision to go to Slovakia reflects my desire to collect stories and be open to the unknown.

I still don’t have a clear picture of what form this collection might be. Perhaps it is a book, with a collection of stories from some of my favorite bloggers intertwined with my own. Perhaps it is a stage play, where the stories of people get told through words, through movement, through puppets, through dance. Or maybe I really do need to learn how to weave, to create a visual tapestry of stories and connections and the words that link us all.

Detail of Woodpecker tapestry designed by Will...

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All I know for sure is that I have been weaving a web of interconnected stories all my life, and now I need to find a way to share.

Life is About Learning: Celebrating Fabulous Friends III

I know a lot of intelligent people. Since I’ve spent most of my life connected in some way with academia, I have often been surrounded by people who blow me away with the way their minds work.

But this morning I had a little revelation, life is not about what you know but about continuing to learn.

While I’ve met a lot of intelligent people who can wax poetic about everything under the sun, many of them don’t interest me. I find myself zoning out when it becomes obvious that the person I am talking to is more concerned with showing off his/her knowledge and sounding intelligent than contributing to a conversation and being open to learning something new.

In the end, the people who remain part of life, the people who I count as friends are the ones who see the world as a place to learn something new every day, and then share that knowledge with others as they seek more learning. So today, as the third part of my (hopefully ongoing) series that I call “Celebrating Fabulous Friends” I would like to celebrate some of the learner/teachers I’ve met in my life.  (For the first two installments read Celebrating Fabulous Friends and Night Marchers in the Bathroom.)

Nancy Lum, World Adventurer

Nancy is in the middle, with myself, my sister Deb, and her friend Karen celebrating my wedding.

Nancy and I met in Japan. She was there teaching for the JET program, and I was teaching for a private Language School. While I’m sure we met when she first got there, we didn’t become close until my last year in Japan, when I discovered an amazing person who had a passion for learning all she could about the world. Our friendship has lasted, with Nancy visiting me whenever she can in all of my various locations. She came to my wedding in Hawaii, while friends who I had known longer were unwilling to make the trip. While she wasn’t part of the wedding party, officially, she stepped up and helped in ways that made her truly the maid of honor.

Nancy returned from Japan to her home in Canada for a short time to get a masters in ESL. She then went back to our home in Okayama and has been there ever since. She takes every opportunity to travel and see the world, learning as much as she can about the places she visits and sharing her knowledge through the eyes of her camera. She and I keep fantasizing about traveling together on some wonderful adventure, but it hasn’t happened (yet). Maybe I should see if she wants to come to Slovakia. ;)

Anyway, I include Nancy in my list of Fabulous Friends because she cares and shares and is always learning more. When she visits, she wants to go out and explore the world. The last time I saw her, when she visited me in Durango, CO, she was distracted by news that her sister was in the hospital, but even then she carried her camera and shared adventures with me and my family. I am so honored to count this wonderful, intelligent, creative, learner among my friends.

Jackie Haltom, Inspirational Artist

Figuring out the hands for a piece of art.

I’ve known Jackie for only a year. We met when Sarah started taking art lessons in Independence.  We probably socialized for the first time last Halloween as we took Sarah out trick-or-treating with Jackie’s girls and other kids in the neighborhood.  However, a relationship that started slowly blossomed into a friendship of mutual support and encouragement. Jackie helped me discover the courage to express myself in a new artistic way, and the results are in the header of this blog. Jackie also took on the challenge with me of learning how to share our love of art and creativity with a different population, as you can read about in “Appropriate Age Appropriateness.” Without Jackie, I would not have had the courage to try to self-publish (although that project is still slowly moving forward). Jackie inspires me because she is continually learning, admitting what she doesn’t know, searching for more knowledge, and challenging the status quo. She lives and breathes art and recognizes how important the arts are to our culture–so she strives to share that passion with others by encouraging them to find their inner artists. Jackie helped me through a complex transition in my life, and I am grateful she has become my friend.

Jackie inspired another fabulous friend, Heather of Little Red Henry (link in my blog roll) to paint this wonderful creation.

There you have it, a couple of other examples of the incredible people you can meet throughout your life if you are simply open to learning about the world around you.

What have you learned today? Who have you met that you would like to celebrate?

Here's a beautiful piece by Jackie.


Leaping into Possibility

Yesterday I was presented with an opportunity.


This is not an employment opportunity, as a matter of fact it is an expensive opportunity.

But it is an important opportunity nonetheless.

op·por·tu·ni·ty http://sp.dictionary.com/dictstatic/d/g/speaker.swf [op-er-too-ni-tee, -tyoo-] noun, plural -ties.

1.an appropriate or favorable time or occasion.
2. a situation or condition favorable for attainment of a goal.
3. a good position, chance, or prospect, as for advancement or success. (dictionary.com)

Rambling Thoughts

When I first saw this adventure posted on my Facebook page, my thoughts went like this:
“Wow! I want to do that! I should post it in case any of my friends are interested. Hmm, I’d really like to do that, but I don’t have a job so how can I justify it? But, I’ve given up opportunities before . . . so maybe its time I take a chance. No, I can’t do it.”
Soon after this little internal discussion, I got a personal message from the artistic director asking me to join them on this adventure. See, a few years ago I had been invited by Dramatic Adventure Theatre to participate in their program called ActionEcuador, where they spend time in several areas of Ecuador serving the community, teaching theater and exploring how the arts can help with social change. All things that  I am truly passionate about. They then spend a week creating theater pieces to be performed in New York later in the summer. Nathan and I were all set to do this wonderful program, bringing Sarah with us, when the world came crashing down around us and our futures became unsure. Needless to say, we had to let the opportunity pass.
That wasn’t the first international theater opportunity that I had to turn down because of changing circumstances and financial issues. A few years earlier, just before we moved to Colorado, I had been scheduled to participate in a mid-summer program for 10 days in Russia learning about theater and arts education in schools. That fell through when we had to move that summer.
My most recent lost opportunity involved an application to create theater in Pakistan, but I’m sure you can guess why that one fell through.
This time, however, my war with myself took on new meaning. True, financially it isn’t the best time for me to take this adventure, since I am underemployed and we are living in an expensive state. But, in term of where I am in my life, and my pursuit of reinventing myself and trying to create the career of my dreams, this is the perfect time. In terms of when the trip happens, its the perfect time, as I don’t begin teaching the one class I have until January 17th and my brother is available to help Nathan with parenting duties.
So what was stopping me? Two things.

Guilt and Fear!!!!

The issue of guilt: How could I possibly justify the expense when I am not bringing in very much in terms of income, and it means some of the things we planned as a family will have to be postponed?  But in reality, as soon as I mentioned the possibility to Nathan, his response was:

“I really want you to do this, so let us sit down and figure out the finances and what needs to be done to make it happen.”

And when I talked to Sarah about it her response was “I’ll be sad” until I explained it was only for a couple of weeks when she changed it to “You should go.”
So really, guilt was just an excuse. The more terrifying thing holding me back was, indeed, my perpetual stumbling block
But what exactly am I afraid of? Because when I think clearly, there’s nothing to fear:
  • I love the people who run this program, and although we’ve only spent a short time together in person I feel like we were meant to meet. In fact, I could easily have included both Jesse and Mary K in my post celebrating fabulous friends.
  • I’m not afraid of travel, and I love to see new cultures. Well, I get nervous travelling, especially flying, but ultimately once I’m there all is good.
  • The trip is pretty much planned for me, all I have to figure out is my flight there and back (and any extra visits to other places, which I probably won’t do anyway because of finances.)
So, what exactly am I afraid of?
The answer came out in my Morning Pages this morning, as I tried to work through my thoughts and emotions surrounding this possibility. Although Morning Pages are meant to be private, I shared them with Nathan and I now share a portion with you, so that you understand what’s going on in my head:
“I’m afraid of opportunity, because I’m afraid that I will waste the opportunity. If I don’t try, I can’t fail. But then again, isn’t not trying simply another type of failure? . . . this trip gives me the chance to see theatre in action, which is the type of theatre that I value. It is about the power of the arts to change lives. If I don’t do it, if I can’t make it happen, then I’m still all talk and no action. So going is the right thing to do. Or am I making excuses to do what I want? Am I being selfish? . . . Where should I look for guidance? My instincts are all out of whack, or at least I’ve lost the ability to trust my own instincts anymore. I don’t know how to follow my gut.  ”
Before I completed the morning pages, I read them to Nathan and asked what he thought I should do. Here was my response to his answer:
“Tears just poured down my face as he encouraged me to just go for it. Just do it. Live in the now and not worry about whether or not I achieve anything big or important. So I guess the answer is before me. Sarah even says I should do it.  Looks like I’m heading to Slovakia. I wonder what happens next.”
After that outpouring on the page, I got up and filled out the application. Then, of course, the doubts started creeping in again. But, in a miraculous way, signs from this wonderful blogging community keep cropping up to reinforce that I’m doing the right thing:
  • First I saw this lovely post called “What I Missed Today” on Gifts of the Journey, which shares what can happen if you don’t take the opportunities the world provides.
  • Next, I saw this post by a blogger that I’ve only recently become acquainted with, who is pursuing her graduate degree in theater and is going to be facilitating a workshop using Theater of the Oppressed techniques in Occupy Boston. A simple reminder of the power of theater to help create a better world.
  • And, just a few moments ago, this post celebrating the life of Dorothy Heathcote, reminded me of why I pursued a PhD in theater for youth in the first place. My dream was to create theater that explored cultural difference and promoted cultural understanding; a dream of mine that has been buried if not forgotten.

So friends, it looks like 2011 will end with me stepping onto a plane toward possibility, and 2012 will begin with a creative journey into unknown destinations. Look for me to blog about it.

A”maze”ing Words and Surprising Discoveries

Meandering Through a Muddle of Words

We spent yesterday wandering through a corn maze made in the shape of Noah Webster.

The challenge (in order to win a free small pumpkin) was to make your way through the maze finding the words in a giant word search, letter by letter.  Amazingly enough we managed to make it through without having to call 911. ;)

Perhaps the fact that you are given a flag with a number before you enter the maze makes people less stupid. Then again, the competition became intense, which was a little strange, since there really wasn't any competition.

In the center of the maze (aka Webster’s face) was a second game where you had to select the correct definition of some words, and they weren’t easy.

This was the perfect maze for Sarah who has recently taken to looking up words in the dictionary and writing down their definitions, FOR FUN. Yes, friends, she is indeed my daughter, as I would underline (in light pencil) any words I didn’t know in any books I read and make a list throughout my childhood.  The maze combined her new love of words with her never-ending search for adventure.

While the sun stayed behind the clouds for most of the day, it was still a nice day to be in the maze, compared to our adventure in a maze last year in Kansas, which included heat, bugs and two pre-teenage girls who decided that they needed to run through the maze. Of course, this late in the season the maze is a little worse for wear, with brown stalks and downed stalks, as well as evidence of Hurricane Irene who took her own journey through the maze.

As we wandered through the maze, my mind rambled from nothing to word meanings to the meaning of life with lots of side trips along the way.

Disorientation

As we journeyed through the maze, I learned that I have absolutely no sense of direction, while Sarah and Nathan seem to have an innate instinct for making their way through mazes.

The amazing maze explorers know the way.

Another clue!

"Let's see. Where to next? Follow me."

Of course, upon this realization, since I always want to improve, I tried to hone my instincts and improve my navigation ability. My instincts started to kick in, and I eventually figured out a pattern that I could follow. However this inevitably led to the . . .

Brabble of the Babes

You see, Sarah and I tend to be a lot alike. This means that, on occasion, we get on each other’s nerves. Perhaps due to my lack of sleep over the past several days while I was dealing with my personal  emotional roller coaster, or the fact that within 5 minutes of entering the maze Sarah nearly brained me with the flag, my ability to communicate with my daughter seemed to disintegrate rapidly as we made our way from letter to letter. What sounded to me like, “please don’t walk with the flag pointing forward” or “don’t swing the flag around, you might hit someone” must have sounded to her like “STOP TRYING TO KILL EVERYONE WITH THAT FLAG!!”

Sometimes, despite my love of words, I have problems communicating.

As my legs started getting more and more tired, my words became sharper, until I reverted to the inner 6-year-old that often makes appearances when the tension between us gets stronger and decided to stop talking.

Words only work if you use them.

I'm not sure which of us needed a time out more.

Revelations of the Camera Obscura

Eventually we worked through our issues (aka, I stopped talking and we continued on) and found all the letters and words. We exited the maze in glory to select our pumpkin. Then, of course, Sarah wanted to explore a little. We wandered over to the petting zoo, where adorable goats and other animals demanded food which we did not provide. Then Sarah saw an odd structure that looked like a little play house. In reality, however, it was a Camera Obscura and it was really cool.

Through the Camera Obscura

Camera Obscura Landscape

Camera Obscura Farm

Camera Obscura animals

Somehow, looking at the world from a different perspective made me realize that I need to change my own perspective more often, in order to find some incredible things.

So what did I learn by changing my perspective? That there may not be enough words to describe the complexity of my love for my life (even at its most confused and chaotic) and especially for my family.

Sometime words just aren’t enough.

Dancing a jig on a bail of hay, you can't say it better than this.

Night Marchers in the Bathroom Help Me Discover Another Fabulous Friend

When New Friends Meet

“Oh my God, Lisa! You have to get in here!”

The cry came from the bathroom of my apartment in Hawaii. It was a strange cry coming from a relatively new friend, also named Lisa, who was taking a shower at my place when a day of getting to know each other better became one long string of adventures.

The next thing I know, she bursts out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel, gorgeous red hair streaming water. “I’m serious Lisa, you’ve got to hear this.”

I hesitantly follow her back into the bathroom where the shower is still running.  ”What is it?’ I ask. Everything seemed the same as when I had taken my shower just a short time earlier.

“Shh! Listen, can you hear that drumming?” I listened carefully, and suddenly tuned in on what sounded like distant rhythmic drumming. It wasn’t water in the pipes. It wasn’t a drummer practicing a set. It was the very distant drums of ritual.

“What is that?” I asked.

“It’s the Night Marchers.”

“The what?”

“The Night Marchers. And I think we are lucky that we were taking showers, because it probably saved our lives.”

“What?”

A true friendship formed as she explained the legend; a friendship that started when Nathan introduced me to one of his best high school friends and has lasted through the years as she became a truly fabulous woman, mother, and citizen of this earth.

 

This story reveals how my fascination with the supernatural opened the door to another amazing person in my life who I wish to celebrate.

The Legend of the Night Marchers

The Night Marchers are

ghostly apparitions of a band of beings who move with purpose to the beat of primitive pounding drums. Some say they are armed spirit warriors en route to or from battle, toting archaic weaponry and clothed in decorated helmets and cloaks. Other accounts tell of high-ranking alii (ruler) spirits being guided to places of high importance or to welcome new warriors to join in battle. (http://www.to-hawaii.com/legends/night-marchers.php)

In Hawaiian legend, to look upon the Night Marchers and meet them in the eye means death, as the Marchers take them with you on their lonely march. However, you can save yourself from this fate by averting your eyes and crouching down. Or, according to Lisa on that particular day, “they won’t take you if you are naked.”

Good thing, isn’t it, since they seemed to be moving through my shower?

Lasting Friendship Formed

I’m not 100% sure of this, but I think our meeting with the Night Marcher’s came on, perhaps, the second day of our friendship. Nathan and Lisa had been best friends in high school. When she came back to the island for a visit after Nathan and I started dating, he introduced us, and within minutes it was like we had known each other forever.   Nathan was not with us on the day of the Night Marchers, I believe we had decided we just needed to get to know each other better and have a girls’ day. It became one of those days where you plan on doing one thing, and then you add on another, and another, until all of a sudden you’ve had a complete day full of adventures. I don’t remember all the details of that day (although I do recall a cop trying to pull us over for an out-of-date sticker or something, and Lisa managing to talk us out of it because her dad was a policeman and the cop recognized her–I was impressed).

I don’t know if the spooky beginnings cemented our relationship or what, but I have been honored to know Lisa these many years, and to count her among my closest (although long-distant) friends. Lisa is one of those amazing women that fights for what she believes in, and especially for justice, equality, and the rights of children. She used to work for Teach for America, then went on to pursue journalism, where she eloquently wrote about education. She then moved onto working for the public education system. Throughout it all, she has provided a passionate pursuit for change and the importance of an educational system that truly succeeds. She hasn’t always had it easy, as she became the victim of politics (as often happens to good people). But, despite the struggles, she always keeps a positive attitude and a caring heart. When I last spent time with her (she’s the one who took me for my first pedicure) she was trying to alleviate tensions between an offended rabbi and some people who unintentionally insulted him through naiveté. (I’m not sure the end result, I’ll have to find out).

Her husband, Matt, is also an incredible person, advocating for and supporting first-generation college students to help them succeed. Together they represent a truly caring, intelligent couple that wants nothing more than to live a life full of love, and share that love with others.

Lisa and Matt

Lisa and I are more than just friends. In many ways we are sisters, and I am so lucky for that. I was there when her now husband Matt proposed to her. While I wasn’t there when she gave birth to her first child a few months before I gave birth to mine, those two girls have since met and immediately became fast friends. In many ways, I think the spirit world has intervened to make souls come together who were destined to meet.

Instant friends, sisters at heart.

It just goes to show you that eerie things might happen, but perhaps messages from beyond are messages intended to help, not to harm. I’m sure Lisa and I would have been friends anyway, but it didn’t hurt to get a little nudge from the Night Marchers. (By the way, I only heard them one more time in that bathroom, and I listened for them all the time).

Monsters in the Closet and Other Scary Stuff

“I can’t sleep with the closet door open.”

I made this statement on one of the rare occasions when the entire Kramer family was gathered together. My mother looked at me as if I was completely insane and said, “Really? You’re kidding!”

“No, I’m not. I’m afraid of monsters in the closet. I know they aren’t really there, but I can’t help being afraid.”

My mother continued to scoff.

Much to my surprise my older sister (Deb) who you haven’t met often, and my older brother (Steve) who you have, jumped to my defense.

“I know exactly why she’s afraid,” Deb said. “It was because of Grandma’s house.”

“Yeah,” Steve agreed. “The door with the glass doorknob.”

My mom looked at us all strangely. “What are you talking about?”

So we explained.

When my grandparents were alive we would go visit them in Belmar, New Jersey. My grandparents passed away within a few months of each other when I was about 6 years old, so my memories of them are limited. My sister is 5 years older than me, so she probably has clearer memories, but we rarely talk about them. Perhaps we should.

When we visited my grandparents the kids all stayed in one room. A small double bed filled one side of the room, and a cot lay opposite for the third little body. We alternated who would sleep in the double and who would sleep in the cot. You might think we all wanted the cot, but you would be wrong. Why?

Because the cot was right next to the scariest door in the world. The one with the glittery, diamond-shaped door knob.

 

I’m not sure where the door led. I always thought it led to the attic (shudder) but someone told me it was just a closet. When it was my turn, I would lie in that cot, the door knob inches from my non-sleeping eyes convinced that at any moment the door knob would turn from unseen hands and open to suck me into a terrifying nightmare.

We were all afraid of the door knob.

“Why didn’t you say something?” Mom asked. “Grandma would have done something.”

“We were kids, Mom,” My sister answered.

But I think it was deeper than that, I think we didn’t say anything because nobody would have believed us anyway. We would have received the same reaction then as we did on this day, nearly 40 years later.

I am convinced that my grandparent’s house had its ghosts, even if they were simply the ghosts of our imagination. I am also convinced that, if I have ever really been visited by ghosts, the visitations have come from my grandparents, my nana (Dad’s mother) and possibly a man we called Cousin Lou who may or may not actually be my relative. All I remember about him is the giant red teddy bear with the flowered belly that he gave me after winning it from the fair.

When did they visit? I will try to remember some of the occasions that add to my belief in the power of spirit, as I discussed yesterday.

  • When Nana passed away, a bird got into my brother’s tiny bedroom somehow. My mom claims the window was open, but I remember it being closed. Even if it was open, this had never happened before. Birds, in Jewish folklore, can represent a “winged soul.” This particular bird was extremely important as it got into the room a few minutes before we got the phone call saying Nana had just passed away. I will always believe Nana came to say good-bye.
  • I used to have a recurring dream that took place at my grandparents house. Sometimes we would go down into the basement of the house (a basement that I really don’t have a memory of). Usually my grandparents aren’t there, at least not visibly, but I hear their voices talking to me and telling me something. I might just pass these off as dreams except for something I learned much later in life, Deb and Steve both used to have similar dreams.
  • In a similar way, Cousin Lou often visited me in dreams of my Nana’s house, although not as often.
  • There is one day that I know all my ancestors were with me in spirit; the day I became a Bat Mitzvah. I remember the day starting out cloudy, threatening rain. This upset me, as I wanted a beautiful day. But, by the time the Friday evening ceremony rolled around, the sun shone in glorious April beauty. A gift from my loved ones. When I stood on the Bima to read my haftorah, my stomach jiggled with a million butterflies. There was a certain part of the complex Hebrew text that always sounded like something else to me. I can’t remember exactly what, but it was something like “we love you” or another comforting phrase like that. It was early on in my chanting, and as soon as I hit the phrase my heart filled with warmth and I knew that the people who would have most celebrated that day (my grandparents were Orthodox Jews) were there with me, with glowing golden smiles on their faces. My Mom said she saw me smile then. I continued with a strong voice, and was even invited back to repeat the haftorah the following year.

Of course, this could all have been the workings of a very imaginative child, but who knows? Most bumps and creaks in the night can be easily explained away, but once in a while you experience a mystery that adds to the awesome complexities of life.

So forgive me if I close my closet door before I go to sleep. You never know when something unexpected might come out.

Don’t Wait . . . Create

I had an epiphany in the middle of the night last week.

It was not a religious epiphany or something that can save the world. I awoke from a dream with a feeling of peace and a moment of clarity.

A clear view of the bend in the river from a bridge in Vermont.

I finally understood what has been holding me down from truly pursuing my dream to reinvent myself and create my ideal career. After several days of deepening depression and frustration, I broke through to an understanding of what is wrong and how to begin fixing it.

It shouldn’t surprise anybody when I say that the thing holding me back the most is

I am not talking about fear of the unknown, because my life has really been a series of unknowns. What I seem to fear is following a non-traditional path.

To put it more simply, while I keep saying I want to create my own career that doesn’t fit the mold, I still am using traditional methods to find work, praying each day that I will discover a job description that matches my dream job. I am still looking for a position that someone else creates and I fill.

But, in my moment of epiphany, a phrase sang out loudly in my head:

Don’t Wait . . . Create! I think this will be my motto for my new company, a company of one that I am giving birth to as I type each word.  I know what I have to do now, and I am beginning to plan. I am still scared, because I am wandering into a completely unknown world, where I have a lot to learn. I don’t really know how to start my own business. But, if there is one thing I do know, I always learn what I need to know to achieve what needs to be done. So I cannot let my fear stop me.

What are the next steps? I’m slowly trying to figure that out, and I even wrote a Hub about it (not a brilliant Hub, but at least I wrote something).

I know that one of the first steps I need to take is to really clarify what services I want to offer. I plan to market myself as a Teaching Artist, Theater Artist, Creative Thinker and Writing Consultant who offers individualized programming to meet the needs of my clients. I’m going to provide examples of things that I can do, such as:

  • Work with students of all ages to create a performance on specific themes
  • Use drama techniques in non-theater classrooms to enhance learning of specific subjects.
  • Work with adults with special needs to encourage creativity and enhance interpersonal relations, as well as build confidence.
  • Work with individual groups to find new ways of approaching problems such as bullying or effective ways of communicating.
  • Use creative techniques to enhance writing and encourage students of different skill levels to find their individual voices.

Whew! Those are off the top of my head. Do they work? Do they sound good? Would you hire me?

Here’s where you, my blogging friends come in. I need help! In so many different ways. I think I’m losing my mind. ;)

Don’t worry, I’m not asking for money, I just want advice and input. So, if you have any suggestions about how to achieve this momentous goal, please speak up, or even e-mail me.

I also have a fun challenge. I want to make myself an LLC but I don’t want it to be Lisa Kramer, LLC. I want a name for this company, and a logo. Right now the name I am playing with is “Eclectic Approaches” but I am open to any suggestions from this fabulous blogging community that has such a way with words.

Epiphanies come when you least expect them. Last week I was struggling through the dark wood, unable to see past my depression and my fears.That evening, I had hit rock bottom, hiding from my family in my bedroom and curling up in a defeated ball of emotions, followed later by a complete outburst of tears, anger, frustration, loneliness and fear. But the explosion opened the way for messages I needed to hear. I cannot describe the dream or the image that spoke with such clarity. I couldn’t even remember it when it happened. All I now is that right now I feel like I am on a good path.

I wonder where the path leads?

Photo by Sarah KramerLee

The Meaning of Freedom

Someone posted this image and quote on Facebook, and my heart sang. Thinking about the word freedom then led to my feeble attempt at poetry below.

"The moment you can visualize being free from the things that hold you back, you have indeed begun to set yourself free."---Unknown: Sculpture by: Zenos Frudakis "Freedom"

Freedom from . . .
Or freedom to . . .
Which is it that I seek?

Freedom with . . .
Or freedom for . . .
The word has such mystique.

I yearn inside to find the way
and place where I feel free.
Yet sometimes I still fear the wind
will pull support from me.

Freedom to sing
Freedom to laugh
Freedom to dance or dream.

Freedom to write
Freedom to play
Freedom to eat ice cream. :)

Freedom to live by my own rules
and follow the goals I make.

Freedom from worries about money and work
it’s my life that is at stake.

Freedom with . . .
Or freedom for . . .
The answer yet unknown.

Freedom from . . .
Or freedom to . . .
Does freedom have a home?

The Highs and Lows of Blogging

I have a disturbing confession to make. It appears that I write better when I am high.

Only kidding. You didn't really think I meant that, did you?

:D

Seriously, I’ve been struggling with a lot of back pain lately, and since I can’t get to the doctor or the chiropractor until our health insurance kicks in, I resorted to taking some of my leftover prescription medicine from the last time my back hurt this much. The combination of a muscle relaxant and a pain-killer leaves me in a fuzzy state of being that can only be described as la-la land.

It was in this state that I decided to write my post from yesterday, exploring the etiquette of blogging. I have had more comments and compliments on that post than on any other post I have ever written.

Of course, the delicious high of feeling like I wrote something worthy led to an immediate case of writer’s block from the complete and utter fear that I would fall flat on my face in my next attempt to write a post.

I avoided writing one all day (well avoided writing on WordPress, I did actually write something for my Hub) spending time answering comments and editing the book I am still hoping to self publish, while ordering things to help me with one job and making a feeble attempt at further job hunting.  (Feeble because I am not sure what my next step should be).

Through all of this my back was a dull ache and I avoided medicating, until about an hour ago when a spasm left me toddling for a supportive cane and some of my helpful pills. Now, back in the land of fuzzy brain, I felt inspired to make an attempt at another post.

Knowing of course that what goes up must come down, and that my moment of brilliance has passed.

Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.