Originally Posted in Our Community of Humanity at Inner Child Magazine
Playing Back A Colorful Life With Lots of Moving Pieces
Last week I participated in a Playback Theatre workshop or playshop as we called it. Penny Clayton from the Centre for Playback Theatre taught this amazingly rich beautiful class in Seattle about five hours drive from my home in Spokane, Washington.
One of the values of Playback Theatre is to create a space where everyone feels respected and listened to as they tell their story. Like an ideal world, the class was a microcosm of people who were similar and different in many ways from me. I listened to them. I watched them and I told my story, too.
Sometimes, I listened and then retold the story or played it back using only fabric. Telling the story I had heard through the colors I chose, by the way I moved the fabric through the air, by the shape I created with gauzy ribbons of color. I learned that a piece of fabric can be imbued with life and become a character, an emotion or theme in the story. Once the fabric takes on a role, it must be treated with the respect due the storyteller, that person brave enough to share a part of themselves with a room full of strangers or sometimes even harder a room full of friends or colleagues.
Sometimes, I listened as I eyed the musician's table replete with still instruments for me to select and bring to life. There were so many different ones to use to illustrate with robust sounds the emotions contained in the words of the teller's story. You can try this now. Think of an experience. What instrument would you use to tell the story if all you could use was one instrument—not your words, not your body, and not your facial expressions? What would be the beat that told your story if you could only use a drum or tambourine? I recently heard the Spokane Symphony play Peter and the Wolf, a musical story by Sergei Prokofiev, where each character—Peter, the duck, the wolf, the birds and other animals are all portrayed with a specific instrument. When that character is in the story their instrument is played. The story of how the characters interact and weave in and out of the story becomes a lively and expressive symphony of sound. I listened one evening in the park surrounded by my Spokane community.
Sometimes in the class I listened for the over arching theme. What was the teller really saying? What was the moment in the story when everything changed—the royal moment? What title would I give this story, if asked? I tried to find the strongest feeling that the teller felt as they spoke to me or as they gently gave their story over into my hands? What did I feel as I heard the story? How had the experience touched the teller and those around him?
With only my body and mouth, what sound and movement could I make that in a short moment brings to life the retelling of the teller's story? What had I seen in her body or hands as she told the story? What could I give back to her that would say, "I hear you. I understand or am trying to understand you."
I listened for a pair of emotions? Did the teller express sadness and joy—both parts of the same experience? Were they nervous and excited to be launching on a new venture? How did they feel about the dogs at the house where they were staying? I listened for those mixed emotions with which we face life. It is not always a smooth and easy ride, but it is also not all an uphill battle. I am reminded of the quote attributed to Plato, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." But it is not always a hard battle. Sometimes there are moments of exquisite joy and love and abundance. Most often there is some of both.
I listened to the sounds my fellow actors made. I watched out of the corner of my eyes the movements they choose to retell the story, to convey what they heard as we shared the stage. And I thought about what I could add so the teller of the tale would know they were heard and respected. Did they feel respected simply for living life, sharing an experience, taking a moment to look inward at what their life means to them and what it means in a global context? In the back of my mind I thought about when and how we would end the retelling of this story. How would the sounds and movements end? What would the fluid sculpture look like as we, each of the actors, came together on the stage? I wondered, "would the teller see beauty in the sculpture that our bodies made at the end? Would they see their story and some greater meaning of the experience from a new perspective? I tried to find my way, my part of the whole story.
In the polarity walk, I moved and made a sound, that organically rose from me in response to the exercise as I walked across the room. I also listened and watched as the other person—my friend and colleague—walked towards me in a way that rose organically from them. Often times funny, sometimes tragically we walked towards each other, making a sound and moving forward. At that meeting point where we came into contact with each other, where we came into relationship with each other, I took on their way of walking. We each took on the sounds that rose from the other and shed our own movements and sounds. We finished walking across the room in the other's shoes, in their way, trying to feel what they feel, showing how well we listened and saw them.
I hope that everyone in the room felt as seen and heard as I did for we are all part of a community now. The community that grew out of listening and respecting is now our community and part of a larger Playback Theatre community and global environment.
Originally Posted in Our Community of Humanity at Inner Child Magazine
Attachment Disorders and What Do I Need?
Every month, pick up each thing in your house. Hold it. Feel it. Notice the texture, the color, the softness and ask yourself, "Does this bring me JOY?" This is an adapted exercise from Suze Orman, a well known financial advisor and TV personality. Paying attention to what we are attached to can be good for the wallet and for the heart.
In the process of moving last year, I thought a lot about stuff. What to move? What to take? Where to put it between here and there? Where there should be? What I can live without? What do I need to live? What is important?
The last year has been an interesting journey in the relationship to my stuff and attachment to physical location. My dad says, "never pack more than you can carry yourself for a mile."
June 2013 started with a flight from West Hartford, CT to Seattle, Washington. What did I need to take for a nine week bicycle journey across the country? What could I take on the plane? Fortunately, I took Southwest so I was allowed two free bags—two big duffel bags. My bicycle flew by itself on Bike Flights and was waiting when I arrived in Seattle.
Did I have too much stuff for a bicycle ride across the country? Yes. Did I have everything I needed? No. I found it impossible to plan for every need. I could have bicycled 3000 miles with only three cycling jerseys instead of four but I really could have used an extra pair of comfortable biking shorts. I could have used a soft pillow instead of a pillow case stuffed with clothes. Experience teaches us how to pack and what we really need to navigate life. Sometimes that experience comes in handy because we repeat a part of the journey or walk a similar path. Sometimes we just have the experience and can share it, so others on a similar journey can pack better. On what parts of your journey have you learned something worth sharing? How are you sharing your wisdom?
The most surprising thing I learned is that I can, if needed, run my life from my iPhone, including write blog posts, post pictures on LiveMapp and Pinterest, create Facebook and Google Plus posts, make LinkedIn business connections, do radio interviews about life on the road, have conversations with friends back home, email clients, catching up on world news, and do internet searches for information about the coming weather and places of interest along the way. I can do it all without a computer or any other electronic device. I just need my phone.
Everything I needed for camping at night could fit in one large duffel and everything I needed for daytime clothing and electronics could fit in another duffel. Of course, I counted on access to laundry a couple of times a week and a wall outlet for charging my phone every day. A bicycle trip is a study in what do you really need? What are the connection you really need in your life? What is important beyond the stuff? You learn a lot spending nine weeks on a bicycle with time to think, to plan, to challenge yourself to do something great, and most of all to breathe in all the joy of life. I had to make sure I had enough to keep warm and enough layers to take off to stay cool, rain gear, back up batteries—it is challenging to plan for all the different situations that arise in life.
A few months after bicycling from Seattle to Washington, DC and then returning home to West Hartford, CT, I decided to leave the East coast and I set out on another journey. Deciding what to put in my car for the drive out to my parent's place in Utah was challenging. The rest of my stuff would go into a POD—a big box. I didn't know how long it would wait for me to decide where I would land so I had to figure out what would I really need to live my life for the next few months.
And like much of life, at least my life, the time my stuff sat in the POD was much longer than I expected. I didn't predict my trajectory very well. I didn't have quite enough experience to know that I would spend five months at my parent's place in Utah with only what I drove across in my Honda Accord.
Were there things I wished I had put in the car for easy access? Yes. Did I do okay without buying much to replace stuff in the storage container? Yes. Did I look forward, once I decided, to holding, arranging and playing with my stuff in Spokane, Washington, where I am landed? Yes, hopefully for a long, long time. But I have learned what I really need and what I can do fine without. I understand my needs better. I have grown in my ability to navigate the journey.
The Root of Tantrums
"When we hear the other person's feelings and needs, we recognize our common humanity," says Marshall Rosenberg, developer of Non-Violent Communication. He goes on to say, "At the root of every tantrum and power struggle are unmet needs."
What do you really need?
Music, The Carrier of Intention in 49 Jewish Prayers Project Notes
If you are one of the Authors, Musicians, Cantors, Rabbis, Poets, or Singers involved in the project - Thank you. This is a very special project for Ann White and Kimberly Burnham at The Creating Calm Network Publishing Group and the editors, Elizabeth Goldstein and Kimberly Burnham.
There is a saying that, "A rising tide lifts all boats." In the case of Music, The Carrier of Intention in 49 Jewish Prayers, an anthology launch lifts all spirits and moves your ideas out into the world. This book is about sharing your experiences so that people can live happier, more connected fulfilled lives because of what each of us shares.
Each of the fifty or so participants (musicians, cantors, rabbis, singers, poets, writers) in this project have been asked to choose a piece of Jewish music, liturgy or Torah passage to focus on as they tell their story of intention and music. The following five questions are guiding the writing process.
1) What is your intention while singing during Jewish services? What do you intend with your song? What does the singing draw you towards?
2) "Music is the carrier of intention, so the intention and focus of the person leading liturgical music is vital to the well-being of the congregation." Do you agree or disagree with this statement? What are your thoughts on this idea?
3) "The intention and focus of the individual listening to and participating in a Jewish prayer service, influences not only their own well-being but that of everyone else around them because the music connects us." Do you agree or disagree with this statement? What are your thoughts on this idea?
4) Is there a piece of prayer, praise or gratitude expressed in music that particularly touches you? Why?
5) Would you like to share a story about the power of music in your spiritual, mental or physical life?
The questions are meant as guidelines to express the way the music touches you and impacts your life and that of your community.
Music, The Carrier of Intention in 49 Jewish Prayers Co-editors, Rabbi Elizabeth W. Goldstein and Kimberly Burnham share the pages of this Jewish music anthology with 40 other authors including: Shefa Gold, Kimberly Burnham, Ann J White, Elizabeth W. Goldstein, Serene Victor, Natalie Young, Sheila Pearl, Susan Colin, Judy Caplan Ginsburgh, Joy Katzen-Guthrie, Rosalie Boxt, Beth Hamon, Shawn Israel Zevit, Robbi Sherwin, Jeff Gold, Hannah Seidel, Marci Vitkus, Rebekah Giangreco, Lisa Doob, Shira Wolosky, Sheldon Low, Saul Kaye, P. Faith Hayflich, Victoria Carmona, Brian Yosef Schachter-Brooks, Dahlia Topolosky, Mindy Sandler, Jack Kessler, Eric Komar, Rami Shapiro, Shira Kline, George Henschel, Diane J. Schmidt, Ruth Anne Faust, Aaron H. Tornberg, Arnie Davidson, Rebecca Schwartz, Shelly Aronson, Steve Dropkin, Ter Lieberstein, and Michael Gurian.
Not Taking Advantage of Your Amazon Author's page?
Kimberly Burnham helps authors get their books out into the world more broadly by improving their free Amazon Author's page and book pages, posting a book review on her blog and on her LinkedIn Pulse blog (over 12,000 followers) Promotion packages start at $50. Contact her at NerveWhisperer@gmail.com. See her Amazon Author's Page.
See her list of publications including her latest book of brain health meditations, Awakenings: Peace Dictionary, Language and the Mind, a Daily Brain Health Program.
Designed to enhance memory, creativity, and inner peace, Awakenings: Peace,Dictionary, Language and the Mind, a Daily Brain Health Program is available free of charge as a Kindle eBook on February 14-15, 2019. [Click Here].
Please share and write a review on Amazon.
I am looking for guest blog opportunities and a position as poet-in-residence. My current project is writing dictionary poems using words in different languages for the English word "peace." You can read some of my poems on Poemhunter .
As poet-in-residence I would write poems on different words in different languages and broadcast them throughout the social media blogosphere. Each poem would link back to your site where the word or language appeared.
I would expect some sort of stipend and a six month to one year placement. Please contact me for details if your organization is interested in having a poet-in-residence to help get your message out. Nervewhisperer@gmial.com
Buy the print or eBook, review Awakenings then contact Kimberly for a free 20 minute brain health consultation. Email or Phone
(Regular rates $120 per hour or 10 sessions for $650.)