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Lisa A. Kramer: Woman Wielding Words

Welcome to my creative space, where I believe words have power, we can change the world by sharing stories, imagination is valuable, and that my voice will not be silenced. I hope you will join me here, by reading my blog and books, joining me in workshops, contributing guest posts, and maybe even making a comment or two or more. Everyone is welcome! I look forward to hearing your stories.

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Tag: youth

Dreaming Through Young Eyes

By Lisa KramerSeptember 14, 20136

I turned to the man sitting next to me, who had asked me a question that sounded like “mind if I interview you?”

It was John Stewart.

“Um, sure . . . ” I stammered, “but could I ask you a few questions as well?”

I look down and realize I am dressed in pajamas: a big nightshirt and shorts.

“I’ll be right back,” I think I say, suddenly self-conscious about my young body, but really the scene shifts and I’m in my dorm room–or something like a dorm room. But someone has moved my things all around. It looks like I’ve gotten a new roommate in a single room, but I don’t know who it is because I’m never there. I’m always too busy working on something important.  I feel anger build inside me. How dare they intrude and touch my stuff? Just because I’m never there . . . just because I’ve been living a different life outside of the room for years and years . . . doesn’t mean they have the right to move my things.

I wander over to reorganize;  picking up memorabilia from times long gone, from my college days, from Japan, from moments in between then and now.

Somehow I am simultaneously a young college student and a woman on the downward slide toward 50.

But I dream through the eyes of that younger woman.

I have dreams like this all the time. Well, not about Jon Stewart but I think his presence in my dream is significant if pretty random. I mean dreams where I am somehow back in high school or college, and yet looking on as my more mature self. In those dreams, I am that younger version of myself. In those dreams, everything is still possible. In those dreams I might do something worthy of being interviewed by Jon Stewart, or I might pursue a path that makes me someone who can conduct the interview with Jon Stewart myself–someone who pursued one of my early career dreams (that of being a journalist) and had made my way to the top.

Dream of a Younger Me

Dream of a Younger Me

These dreams fascinate me. I suppose one way to interpret them is that I am dreaming about regrets–about a life not lived, or choices not made. But I don’t think so. I think that these dreams are a reminder of possibility–because while I am the younger version of myself in them, I am simultaneously the person who exists now. My dreams fluctuate from moments that happened in the past to moments in the present, with strange juxtapositions of everything in between. They are not memory dreams, nor are they present time dreams, they are life dreams–images of a complex life lived in a convoluted way.

I admit, I always wake from these dreams feeling discombobulated. (I love that word! I don’t get to use it often enough). The dreams make me doubt my present, and reflect on the “woulda, coulda, shoulda” moments that I try so hard to banish from my vocabulary and my thoughts.

Snapshot_2013914

by Shel Silverstein

At the same time, though, they fascinate me. I rarely–I realized this morning–dream about the NOW through the eyes of the present.. When my dreams make any sense at all, my present self isn’t taking the lead. Yes, my dreams may be influenced by current events and circumstances in my life–but I rarely participate or watch them only through the eyes of the present me. It’s as if the only version of myself that is allowed into dreams, is the younger self who had the biggest dreams.

Or maybe its a reminder that the person I am now is made up of all versions of myself–past, present, and future.

When you dream, which version of you appears in your dreams?

***
See the results of a dream come true. 

 

 

Artists vs. Zombies

By Lisa KramerJune 23, 20110

“Feed me brains!”

Zombie Sam from terror4fun.com

The Zombie Leader lumbers towards an unsuspecting group of people who blithely go about their business reading, writing and creating. The Zombie Leader’s intent to devour their energy and independent wills does not seem to faze them, until he makes his way to each one devouring brains and creating more zombies.

The Zombie leader does not discriminate when it comes to brains, but he especially enjoys feasting on young minds because of their potential to absorb energy and ideas at an overwhelming rate. Catch them young, he thinks, and they will never learn, grow, or threaten my Zombie Kingdom. Of course, he doesn’t really think this with as much insight as that. Really, his thought process is limited to “Brains!” but inside he knows that destroying a thinking, creative populace is what has made him strong and will make him more powerful.

Caught by this creature’s never-ending lust for domination and power, the young people turn into zombies quickly because they have yet to learn how to defend themselves from his overwhelming control.  As his army of brainless drudges grows, the Zombie King gains power over even those who have the skills to protect themselves and others from him. Why? Because these creative people often get so absorbed in their individual projects that they don’t sense his putrid, decaying presence until it is too late.

The more creative energy one zombie can devour, the higher in the ranks of the zombie world he/she rises. And with that strength comes more power and control over the ever-growing army of mindless drones and crucial elements of society which would help the diminishing group of rebels continue to fight the good fight.

But here’s the secret that they don’t understand (if they understood anything, which is a challenge when your brains are in someone else’s stomach):

Zombies cannot exist without artists!

Yes folks. Artists created zombies . We drew them, designed them, wrote stories about them. And while we focused on creating them, they grew stronger and more powerful. They grew to resent us, and their thoughts began to focus on our destruction. They exist because we gave them life,which suggests that we have the power to destroy them.

But I don’t think destruction is the answer. No! As artists our power comes from creation, not destruction. So, if we want to defeat the zombies and protect the creative minds of young and old alike, we must use the power of our art itself. We must wield our pens, brandish our paint brushes, strengthen our words, mix our colors, build our connections, sing our songs, pronounce our monologues, grow our gardens, dance our dances, create our puppets, share our knowledge, and dream our dreams.

The zombies will try every trick they can–including destroying the foundations of equality and justice. They will attempt to suck the brains out of anyone, especially a leader, who leans towards valuing something other than power and money.

But in the end they will lose because artists never die–we live behind our words, our pictures, our songs, our sculptures, our ideas, and the power of our dreams. We are even capable of turning zombies back into fully functioning humans, or, at the very least rainbows. All it takes is a sprinkle of fairy dust and a lot of hard work.

Artists can rule the world!

Bullying . . . It’s Not Just for Kids

By Lisa KramerJune 4, 20110
Bullying on IRFE in March 5, 2007, the first c...

Image via Wikipedia

We live in a land of Bullies.

No, I’m not just talking about the bullying of the school years that has become such a prominent story in the news. That bullying, I believe, is a result of the world we live in. The bullying of the teen years becomes more horrific because of the additional challenges of a changing body. It is amazing anyone survives.

But, that bullying or the feelings that come from it don’t disappear in adulthood. It’s not like we achieve a miracle age where nothing can bother us anymore. Think about it. Have you ever looked in the mirror (both literal and figurative) and disliked what you saw? Perhaps you see fat, or age, or gray hair. Perhaps you see insecurity, unhappiness, failure. Perhaps you see loneliness or defeat.

Whatever you see, you are not looking through the eyes of reality. No, you are looking through eyes of insecurity–of all the fears, doubts, and discouragement you have witnessed throughout the years.

Those are the feelings that come from bullying.

I still carry in me the shy, insecure girl of my youth. I still carry within me the lonely girl who felt on the fringe of all groups, and never really felt like she had friends. I still carry the girl who never felt like she was quite good enough.

Of course, I recognize my accomplishments. I know that I have had successes in my life. But all it takes is one snub, or one feeling that I’m not invited to sit at the cool kids table, and that little girl comes out again.

But remember, those snubs are from adults, not children.

I just spent the last half hour watching anti-bullying videos created by high school students of a friend of mine. Students created these videos for an anti-bullying campaign/contest. If you would like to view them and/or vote here’s the link to the Facebook Page. And it is those videos that made me realize that we never grow out of bullying or feeling bullied. We just learn to internalize it, and hope that the behavior remains inside.

But it doesn’t.

So what can we do? We can work on being kinder to each other and setting a good example. We can remember how it felt when we were younger, and use those memories to create a better world. We can tune out the voices of the bullies and embrace who we are faults and all.

We can look in the mirror and accept ourselves.

Bullying is not just for kids, but neither is prevention.

Here’s another thought about bullying that everyone should read from The Life of Jamie.

ItGetsBetterBroadway’s Channel: We Need More Voices

By Lisa KramerOctober 21, 20100

 

Rainbow flag flapping in the wind with blue sk...

Image via Wikipedia

 

I needed to hear this song today.  YouTube – ItGetsBetterBroadway’s Channel.

I know it is for GLBT youths, but isn’t the message really for everyone? I believe that a lot of the hate, the bullying, the abuse, etc. comes from fear. Fear that somehow, if that person is different than “I” can’t be happy. People put others down because they are insecure in their own lives.

Yes, some of it comes from ignorance, but mostly it comes from fear. So this song is about everyone. If you live and trust in yourself and life, it gets better.

It is too bad that more people can’t see that.

While I appreciate these artists for doing this, and those who step up to give their own testimonials, I see a problem. Theater is always perceived as gay. I am in theater, I love theater, but here is a reality about theater: people who don’t get it, or don’t really understand it assume that anyone who participates is either promiscuous or gay. We all know that is a stereotype, but it is a well-known one.

So, kudos to these artists for doing this, but now let’s get some athletes, action/adventure stars, or more politicians to stand up proudly and share their stories that say “It Get Better!”

Until there is no reason to hide anymore, how can we honestly tell young people it gets better?

The Culture of Bullying

By Lisa KramerOctober 14, 20100

 

Bullying on IRFE as of March 5, 2007 (the firs...

Image via Wikipedia

 

Bullying!

The word echoes through the air these days.  Every day you hear a new story or of a new death. For me, recently, each day brings a new awareness about the  pervasiveness of this issue.

I want to do something about it.

This week I conducted a workshop at a nearby high school on Performance Art. While Performance Art is not exactly my favorite type of theater, I think it is an interesting thing to introduce to high school students as it provides them an outlet to explore issues using art, theater, music, and other things to express themselves. I introduce the techniques by using a piece of literature or poetry (for this workshop I used “Ozymandias”). I also brought an extra poem to help out, this time one on bullying that I found on a WordPress blog http://bullypoems.wordpress.com/ (thank you to that blog writer).

The students were then given an assignment to create their own piece of performance art, with the only restrictions being that they respect each other and respect school rules. The results were interesting, with topics ranging from family relationships to feeling stressed about choices they needed to make in life. The majority of them, however, were about bullying.

Now, maybe that was a reaction to the poem I read them, but I think it goes deeper than that. In our discussions afterwards most of the students acknowledged that there is bullying at their school. Some of them hesitantly acknowledged to being victims.

More disturbing to me, however, were the number of people who acknowledged being witnesses to bullying, but who simply walked away.

Coincidentally, last night I was asked to adjudicate a performance at another area high school. The play they put on was Bang Bang Your Dead! by William Mastrosimone which explores the issue of bullying from the perspective of a boy who shoots 7 people (5 students and his parents). Not a light evening of theater, that’s for sure. There were two talk-backs after the performance, one for the audience and one between the adjudicators and the cast. Both were revealing.

The first showed that the parents and community are aware of the problem but feeling at a loss as to what can be done.

The second revealed what the kids had learned from this process. Many of them researched and became aware of the amount of bullying that exists in the world, and in their more immediate world. BUT, and this is a disturbing but, their understanding and new knowledge did not promote action. They shared a story that, after a school viewing of the show, some freshman started teasing and throwing food at the lead (the person who played the killer). Rather than saying something, he walked away!

How do we fix this? I know it is scary to confront bullies. I recognize that sometimes it is easier to hide our eyes and pretend we don’t see what is in front of us. But that way lies Columbine. That way lies 9/11. That way lies the Holocaust.

Now, I’m sure somebody will object to me connecting bullying with 9/11 or with the Holocaust, but what is bullying if not a form of intolerance? It is about someone showing power over weakness, or trying to pretend to have power by making others feel weak. In a way, bullying is human nature, in the sense of survival of the fittest. The strong win and the weak are destroyed. Bullying is not something that occurs just between children in school, it is just that in some ways adult bullying is more subtle. That doesn’t make it any less dangerous however.

If bullying is human nature, does that mean there is no hope of change? It has become crucial for us, as a society, to break free of this negative quality of human nature. We need to learn to respect and value diversity, otherwise there will never be an end to violence, hatred, death (by violence) and bullying.

I hope we can do it.

With more people like this hero, Joel Burns tells gay teens “it gets better”, we can.

Another important link about this: http://newsroom.blogs.cnn.com/2010/10/15/it-will-get-better/

And in a few short words, this person hits the nail on the head http://broadsideblog.wordpress.com/2010/09/30/they-taped-their-roommate-and-outed-him-on-the-internet-now-hes-dead/