An Indian-American woman was crowned Miss America this fall. And her coronation led to a firestorm of angry, cruel venting on social media, the perfect platform for cowardly people to spew venom anonymously without repercussion.
A few points:
Here she is, Miss America.Read More
She says, “I began to imagine Disney’s perfect Princesses juxtaposed with real issues that were affecting women around me, such as illness, addiction and self-image issues.”
I love these — mostly because most of us compare our insides to everyone else’s outsides. We even look at Disney princesses (or princes) and compare ourselves, unfavorably of course.
Life is great, but it ain’t perfect.
And the sooner we realize that that’s true for everybody, airbrushed or not, princess or pauper, the sooner we’ll get on with loving our own lives, helping others, and appreciating the good.
Photo credit: Dina Goldstein, of course (though this photo is cropped so please go to her site to see her great work as it should be viewed).
This will likely make you happy, and you may even forget that the woman at the center of this operating room dance party is about to undergo a double mastectomy.
As a cancer survivor myself (19 years!), I love the idea of being proactive as you go into surgery, not waiting passively on a gurney while getting more and more nervous by the moment. Of course it probably helped that the patient is also an OB/GYN so I imagine she can bend the rules in the OR a bit. (She also knew the cast of characters who danced with her).
After watching, ask yourself what I’m asking:
As the saying goes, “Dance like nobody’s watching.” Or dance and let ‘em watch. Or, even better, dance and invite others to the flash mob.Read More
I can’t sing. Not reliably. Sometimes I have thought it was my imagination… but generally, down deep, I’ve been pretty sure this is right.
I love to sing, and I do it, but when I least expect it an awkward squeak or a loud note that doesn’t blend quite right with those around me comes out.
I was in the church choir back at First Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Georgia when I was young. And I bow down and kiss the feet of the choir director, Herb Archer, who never told me how bad I was. He let me love being there, part of something that felt special and important. Yes, Mr. Archer avoided outing me. Or perhaps giving birth to three children or having my hair turn grey changed me from a proficient singer to, well, sounding pretty bad.
A few months ago I was with a group of folks out in Seattle. We had been part of a nine-month cohort together in a class and had become close. On our last day, we sat around singing, with a few of the super-talented ones leading the way with vocals and guitars. Entranced by the moment and by the poignancy of our together ending, I whipped out my cellphone and hit “record,” capturing 14 minutes of our spontaneity and laughter.
The recording makes me happy. I’ve listened to it many times. But the truth is that I was tempted to delete it when I heard my own voice, my way-off-key voice. I stick out. Even my own ear can tell that something’s not blending, somebody’s not blending, and that somebody is ME.Read More
Most photographers capture life as it is, but Richard Renaldi shows us humanity as it could be.
Richard Renaldi is a photographer who puts together “total strangers who were meant to be together, if only for a moment.”
He poses them in pairs, groups or families with body language usually reserved for relationships of comfort and familiarity.
Of course it’s awkward at first for those who choose to participate, but many people react with surprise over how much comfort they feel by being connected with someone, how much they care for a stranger after holding the pose for a brief time.
Watch the video of Steve Hartman’s On the Road report for CBS and read more here. And find the Touching Strangers project further documented here.
What are the implications of this for even acting as if we care for someone (much less touching them, which does of course have its limitations)? Would we feel closer if we engaged in behaviors that we normally reserve for more established relationships, acting “as if?” Do feelings follow intentions?
Maybe we can start with hugging the people with whom we already have relationships. Or being open to exchanging a few words or a kind glance with strangers or — if we should happen to come upon Richard Renaldi in the street — being willing to pose with a stranger with expectation of feeling some kinship.
Risk leads to potential connection.
PHOTO CREDIT: Richard Renaldi (of course!)Read More
Many of you will have seen an article on the front page of the print edition of the New York Times this morning. Here is the online version of the story by Lydia Polgreen, Trading Privilege for Privation, Family Hits a Nation’s Nerve.
It’s about a young white family’s choice to spend a month in a shack living in solidarity with black South Africans, next door to their own part-time housekeeper. This “experiment in radical empathy” took them far from the relatively close, gated community that is their usual home in Pretoria, South Africa. To the horror of their own parents, they took along their children, 4 and 2. I loved this quote: “‘People might say it is irresponsible to bring children,’ Mr. Hewitt [the husband] said. ‘But I would rather say it is irresponsible to raise children in this country who can’t cross boundaries.’”
The article delineates the debate that is raging over whether this is a sensationalist stunt or a valuable exercise in empathy. I vote for the latter; how about you?
The couple, Ena and Julian Hewitt, admitted that their motives were to change themselves. How do any of us change except by cognitive dissonance or disruption? Inertia keeps us in our ruts, seeing the same people, thinking the same way… until something propels us out of those pathways into new possibilities. The Hewitts simply designed their own, not insignificant, disruption. Which is more than most of us willingly sign up for.Read More
Last night some friends and I were talking about how we all share images of ourselves on social media as if our lives were perfect. We curate impressions. We manage what we share.
When I recently posted a Facebook cover photo of myself on a swing, one friend commented, “You have such a fun life.” I wanted to rip the picture down. I felt disingenuous… because obviously I’d posted the picture to telegraph my fun quotient, my free spirit… but I was self-aware even on the swing when I saw my friend snap the photo. I realized I wanted to be seen that way. I had created a photo opp more than I had simply chosen to jump on the swing and go.
And I was caught when I saw the “You have such a fun life” comment. Because although I do have a fun life in many ways, and I definitely do have many/most elements of a very good life, and my problems are all First World problems (“Where should I go on vacation?” “Do I have time to run by Whole Foods?”)… well that’s not the whole picture. I’m often angsty, intense, or interpreting things wrong and spending too long in a people-pleasing zone. I’m often dragging around with menopausal symptoms. I’m often listening to broken records (lies) in my head telling me I’m not enough, I’m not good enough. And I don’t always feel fun.
So of course we manage what we share; I sure do. No one wants to be the poster child for a broken, messy life. No one wants to be the person who Instagrams a breakfast plate that tells the truth: that we had Eggo waffles for breakfast, Eggos with “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!” drizzled (or glopped) on top — and that we ate that in the car while yelling at our spouse.Read More
People thought there was no film in the camera so they usually humored the odd little man who showed up at every wedding in the town of Maryborough, Australia for nearly 50 years.
Wal Richards, an illiterate, mentally and physically disabled man, rode his bicycle to weddings and photographed them for decades, amassing 20,000 photographs that no one had ever seen until after his death in 1967. Here is a bit of his story (and be sure and see/hear the audio slide show).
The Maryborough-Midlands Historical Society has exhibited the photographs to the delight of the townspeople who had not taken Wal too seriously as he’d randomly showed up, uninvited, at weddings. But it turns out that in many cases his were the only photographic records of a particular wedding. They also serve to document a town’s marriages, relationships and social occasions as well as the fashion history of five decades.
Wal is the sort of man who would have been referred to, before it became (thankfully) politically incorrect to do so, as “the village idiot.” Our towns and cities still have such people, of course, whom we ignore, walk around, avoid, and even belittle. And we certainly don’t ascribe artistic gifts or merit to them, much less figure that they just may be providing a vital service.
Professional jobs, titles, status and prestige wow and awe us, when there are plenty of less-impressive-seeming people among us with incredible talent or simply critical jobs that really impact our lives.Read More
Ah! Over here!
Sloppily swimming in a sea of expectations, I find it difficult to access my true self in the world that surrounds me. The expectations begin to wash away my opinions, dreams and ideas while I start to accept other people’s beliefs as my own. Nevertheless, I still have enough resistance to want to escape the tides of torment and go into myself and release my true being free into this world. How must I sort this out? Who am I when I am waiting in the car before my first date? Who am I when I am alone during a thunderstorm with no electricity? I don’t remember!
And so I dance.
I do not go to group fitness classes at the local YMCA. I do not follow steps laid before me. I find an open space. Whether it be in a church basement, community music center room, hallway of a kindergarten school, open field in a park, lobby of a low-traffic theater or an actual dance improvisation class, I do what needs to be done and I dance there. Simply put, I move with or without music the way that I choose to move.
This freeform movement is known as dance improvisation, ecstatic dance or moving meditation; plenty of other titles are associated with it as well. Whatever the name, it is an important aspect of adult play. Generally speaking, this is a solo experience that allows a moving expression of what you are feeling in the moment. It’s about discovering your own way to dance letting your body be the inner guide and teacher. This can potentially help to release stuck patterns in the body, emotions, mind and spirit.
The applications are infinitely delicious and benefit every single person on Earth. Dramatics aside, examples range from senior citizens who have become lonely and long for youthfulness again to dancers that are looking for an escape from regiment. Due to the nature of its personal content, what one person will reap from freeform movement may be drastically different from that of another.
For me, dancing is a natural mode of abstract communication with myself AND others. While dancing, I feel completely free from pressures, judgments and commitments and am able to glide into my true self. Knowledge flows freely and is imported into my brain when I dance. I feel in control, guided by my soul, and I make decisions easily. I am released from the constant knot of anxiety and gifted with pure joy in the form of control, strength, direction, ambition, knowledge and confidence. This joy could be my connection with some sort of divine power. No matter your religious affiliation, I do find the spiritual aspect of the freeform movement quite significant. Dancing lets me access my own senses, let go of external distractions and then partake in powerful movements. This progression allows me to open up and define my strength and place in the outside world. Because human connection is a goal for me, I value that I am able to contribute to society in my special way and not the way of doctrine or cultural normality.
Creativity is the backbone of freeform movement. And contrary to popular belief, every single person has the ability to spark creativity in themselves. The myth that creativity and imagination are only for seven-year olds, writers, and art students is gooey old news. Rather, creativity is about making connections, accepting imperfection and moving forward. For example, I would not call myself a writer. This article won’t be the best one written and may be choppy to read. True. I did draw from different sources of inspiration. Yes. Someone probably already wrote about this topic. But, I was able to get my ideas down on paper thanks to the experience and information that I possess at this point in my life. And so. I can call this my article.
I imagine a way to access your own creativity through freeform movement is to:
1. Stop thinking (or start with step 2).
2. Start moving.
3. Something will happen.
Go ahead. You got this. Something will happen.
About our Guest-Poster:
From the time she was a little girl, JBonn has always been restless with the desire to create beauty by moving. Through her experience of learning what she loves and is passionate about, there has always been one main factor of helping people through movement.
Though not classically trained, JBonn has a background in dance and aerial arts (jazz, expressive, hip hop, lyrical, experimental, dance improvisation, aerial hammock, trapeze, pole) which helps her with her endeavors in body movement disciplines. Originally from Minot, North Dakota, she is a bit of a dancing nomad. From studying Dance Movement Psychotherapy in Scotland to performing as an aerialist at Sky Club in Portland, Oregon, JBonn has danced her way around the world. In the future, she would love to continue investigating movement, facilitating ecstatic dance events, performing, filming creative dance projects, traveling and exploring obscure expanses where she can dance.
Ah yes, that’s a James Taylor lyric. And I’m singing it with regret today.
A friend died five days ago. Suddenly.
And I’m wondering why I thought I’d always have another chance to hang out and have a picnic lunch as we always planned to.
And I’m thinking about how I took for granted that I’d be able to honk and wave and yell every time I drove by his workplace, a couple of blocks from my house, and then feel really happy because I’d seen him. I thought I could do that indefinitely.
And I’m realizing that I never took the time to stop and appreciate the way he always said “MY girrrrll” when he saw me. Sure, I liked it. Yes, I noticed. But what I didn’t do is bask in it, focus on the way it touched me, and make sure not to take it — or him — for granted.
I wish I’d showered my friend Cobbey with more love. Because now he’s gone.