Wednesday, April 30, 2014


I am pleased to announce that Crescendo Chorus has won the prestigious Alice Parker Award. Two movements of a piece I wrote, along with composer Cheng-Chia Wu, were part of the winning repertoire. Hearing my words sung by a thirty person chorus was enough of an honor, but I am so happy to hear that the chorus has received recognition.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Always Right?

Do I always need to be right? I suppose if I were to answer honestly, yes. However I could say no, I am open to learn from others, to be humble and to grow in new and meaningful ways. But this is true if it is on my terms. I do like to be right. I like that feeling of superiority when I am proven right...see trickle down economics doesn't really work, we are all still floating around in poverty and the Earth is really round, not flat. There is a sort of rush that comes out of winning a good argument, especially if the little people come out on top. But what ends up happening is that I separate myself from others. I am not only refusing to speak to anyone in that other political party, but this person was mean to me and that person cut me off in traffic, so I need to ignore them too. 

Don't get me wrong, I have strong beliefs, and abandoning those beliefs would mean that I abandon certain populations in a time of need. I will remain staunchly vegan as I cannot condone the killing or abuse of animals. I will not support a political candidate that is racist, sexist, or neglects the voiceless in my community. I do not believe that we should be able to walk into Target with an oozie because of the second amendment and I will not stand by while our public education system is taken over by corporations that wish to stuff our children into slots. But I must live surrounded by people who condone the above, for a whatever reason. If I place my energy into judgement, I am perpetuating the problem. I am doing as they do. I am being mean, and I am trying to be right. So what does all of this mean? How can one balance advocacy and activism with humility and acceptance? I think it could become easier if I can let go of my constant need to be right? 

I need to take a look at the  feelings come up when I am wrong. Shame tops the list. I know it is hard to admit I am wrong, because I someplace deep within my twisted psyche I equate mistakes with inadequacy, that somehow if I am wrong I am damaged. This deep - seated belief has served me in the past; I have always strived to earn good grades in school, and I have made sure that I am meticulous in my work. But the "I am right" monster has outlived its purpose and has kept me from forming relationships with people who are different than I. This monster has kept me in a place of continuous judgement. 

"When I am right I make myself the hero of my own story." A wise man said this the other day. This I can relate to. I need to allow myself to be just another human, stumbling around on this planet we call Earth, making mistakes, and changing our minds, growing and changing, evolving. After all, who wants to admire a hero or heroine who looks reviles the other characters stumbling around the story? A hero can still go out and slay dragons, but hang out with those people who may support dragon advocacy. I am beginning to digress. How does one balance advocacy and humility? Any advice?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Spiritual Experimentation 101

I was pondering, as usual, wondering how I could balance turning my life over to God and taking concrete actions to create a life I love. What is my reality and what is it that I wish to happen in my life? Where does God's will fit into all? There are many spiritual paths, some  tell us to picture what we want in life and we will draw those experiences toward us. Some paths have a male God in the all powerful chair, arranging our lives to His suiting. Some speak of karma. How does one deal with the many theories and belief systems? I can read Mike Dooley, The Bible or a book on Twelve Step spirituality. I can visualize or pray. I do believe in a Higher Power and I know that when I allow that HP to guide me, things run smoother. But I also believe that life is what I make of it, if I am positive, I will draw in positive experiences. Judgment plays a role here, I know. 

I guess I am still in the experimentation phase. I know what I don't like, organized religions that preach hate, intolerance and a literal translation of the bible. But as for a clear spiritual path, mine is a bit overgrown. I believe that prayer and meditation work. I believe in a "God." I also believe that what I think or focus on is what I create in my life. Hodge Podge.
I heard someone say that when she follows God's will, life is easy, yet when she doesn't it feels as if there is a clear wall blocking the path. She still takes a sawzall out and attempts to continue, however the sawzall method always ends in disaster. Some people say that if it is God's will it will be easy, and if not, problems will arise. So what does all of this mean? What is the difference between my will and God's will? Was it God's will that prompted me to go to college and earn my Master's degree in teaching? I started out working toward an Associate's in Business, and then opportunities began to fall in my lap, the offer of a large scholarship here, an acceptance letter to a good college there, a part time job subbing here, and a little extra help with bills there.
Let's look at this scientifically, as sort of an experiment. In elementary school science class we are taught to follow the scientific method, to come up with a hypothesis, perform an experiment with controls, and form a conclusion. Maybe I can use this process for my questions concerning spirituality. 

Steps in the scientific process:
  • Ask a Question - What is my system of spirituality? Do I even need to have a system?
  • Do Background Research - Read what I can, come up with a list of beliefs and try to piece them together.
  • Construct a Hypothesis - A spiritual hypothesis?
  • Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment - Practice turning my will over and taking it back (I already do that.)
  • Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion - Not there yet.
  • Communicate Your Results
Maybe a hodge podge works, maybe I can turn my life over to God and then meditate. If I change my attitudes, concentrate on the positive, what harm may come? Maybe spiritual matters cannot be put into a neat little system. Only time will tell. After all, I started writing this post a little confused. I am still confused.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A Poetry Experience

March has passed. At the beginning of the month I set out to write a poem per day, for the entire month and I was successful. Some days the poems were short and sweet, but toward the end I looked forward to a few minutes with a stack of word cards and a challenge, to write a poem. Not only is my notebook a little heavier, but my soul is a little lighter. Writing each day makes a difference. I am forced out of the day to day mundane details, into a world where anything could happen. And it did. I was transported to chapels in the middle of the woods, fields filled with milkweed and goldenrod, and hotel rooms in foreign countries. For the short time I was writing, I became a writer. And that felt amazing.

It is now April, and Spring is attempting a takeover, with some success. It is National Poetry Month, so maybe, just maybe I can continue the challenge, continue to explore other worlds with words. Here is yesterday's poem, to finish this much needed experiment (experience).


Smell the rain,
sweet-scented clouds release
their torrent over hills -
misty vegetation - dandelion
greens. Milkweed pods
and goldenrod release
their fragrant centers.
A community of crickets
nestle into crevices -
And I -
fingers and toes
covered in mud begin
to dance down the aisle -
damp grass swaying in
the breeze -
in Earth's Chapel.