How to Become a Better Writer, Friend, and Person

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– Get up early, go sit down and write
– Journal without editing yourself
– Find seeds of great ideas in the piles of subconscious ones you’ve just laid out for yourself
– Repeat until it no longer feels like a chore, but a part of your day you anticipate with excitement
– Continue ad infinitum

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– Make time for people that matter to you
– Send a note to let them know you’re thinking about them what big or little life events pop up (“Good luck on that interview!”, “Hope you fly safe!”, “That recipe you gave me is le bomb.”, etc.)
– Show support when good things happen to them, and even more support when the bad sneaks in
– Refuse to let distance be an obstacle. There are a million ways to stay connected nowadays. If Facebook isn’t cutting it for you, agree to start writing each other postcards. No one gets real mail anymore – just think of what a treat it would be to get something worthwhile in the mailbox.
– Continue ad infinitum

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– Stop comparing, stop complaining, stop selling yourself short
-Continue ad infinitum

Image Sources (before editing): Human Writes Performance, Geneva, Jesse757, GuiseppePortale

Who Knew Seneca Was So Zen?

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“I am always surprised to see some people demanding the time of others and meeting a most obliging response. Both sides have in view the reason for which the time is asked and neither regards the time itself—as if nothing is being asked for and nothing given. They are trifling with life’s most precious commodity, being deceived because it is an intangible thing, not open to inspection and therefore reckoned very cheap—in fact, almost without any value. People are delighted to accept pensions and gratuities, for which they hire out their labor or their support or their services. But nobody works out the value of time: men use it lavishly as if it cost nothing. But if death threatens these same people, you will see them praying to their doctors; if they are in fear of capital punishment, you will see them prepared to spend their all to stay alive. So inconsistent are they in their feelings. But if each of us could have the tally of his future years set before him, as we can of our past years, how alarmed would be those who saw only a few years ahead, and how carefully would they use them! And yet it is easy to organize an amount, however small, which is assured; we have to be more careful in preserving what will cease at an unknown point.

No one will bring back the years; no one will restore you to yourself. Life will follow the path it began to take and will neither reverse nor check its course. It will cause no commotion to remind you of its swiftness, but glide on quietly. It will not lengthen itself for a king’s command or a people’s favor. As it started out on its first day, so it will run on, nowhere pausing or turning aside. What will be the outcome? You have been preoccupied while life hastens on. Meanwhile death will arrive, and you have no choice in making yourself available for that.

Can anything be more idiotic than certain people who boast of their foresight? They keep themselves officiously preoccupied in order to improve their lives; they spend their lives in organizing their lives. They direct their purposes with an eye to a distant future. But putting things off is the biggest waste of life: it snatches away each day as it comes, and denies us the present by promising the future. The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today. You are arranging what lies in Fortune’s control, and abandoning what lies in yours. What are you looking at? To what goal are you straining? The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately. Listen to the cry of our greatest poet, who as though inspired with divine utterance sings salutary verses: “Life’s finest day for wretched mortals here/Is always first to flee.” “Why do you linger?” he means. “Why are you idle? If you don’t grasp it first, it flees.” And even if you do grasp it, it will still flee. So you must match time’s swiftness with your speed in using it, and you must drink quickly as though from a rapid stream that will not always flow.”

Known for being a titular Roman figure around 55AD, these thoughts come from his essay “On the Shortness of Life.” Ready, set, grasp the present – for all it’s worth.

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Art of the Iceberg

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We often take things at face value. It’s easy to, we’re human. But about what happens under the surface?

Life is 90% about process, 10% about that surface result.

Those people who have that “perfect life” – fulfilling relationships, work, creative endeavors – didn’t happen upon success by luck alone. They had to live through the process. The ups and downs, struggles and heartbreaks that the world wasn’t privy to at the time. They put in the time and held themselves to high standards. Nothing less would suffice.

Just take a look at the architecture of these natural curiosities – the beauty of the underwater base alone is enough to give pause.

So next time you’re wondering how to change what the surface of your life looks like, realize it may be time to take a plunge and explore what it looks like beneath the edge. Build upon whatever small strength you find until you have a foundation that will allow for those once-lofty dreams of success to come with ease.

And like nature itself, there will be things that challenge your personal ‘berg – forces that threaten what you worked hard to build. Hungry warm waters crave the coolness of ice. Seek out smoother currents.

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Try to Remember, and If You Remember, Then Follow

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Each new path, each new adventure. Don’t forget to follow next time you hear the call.

Image Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

Clever Arts Marketing from Around The World: Speaking to an Audience Instead of Talking Down to One

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hertztheatre_manholeHertz Theatre. Decidedly underground.

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critique(This one reminds me a bit of Season 2 of Slings and Arrows)

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teatar-exit-summer-nightsTheatre Exit Summer Nights bus stop posters can be completely seen only during the night.

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Image Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

World’s A Stage: Spotlight on Belarus

Theater was made to push the boundaries, but what happens when your country wants to maintain those artificial limits? One theatre group in Belarus has made a commitment from allowing their home to silence their (powerful) voices.

Belarus Free Theatre is an underground theatre group that operates primarily in secret, holding unofficial rehearsals and free performances in small private apartments, cafes, or wooded areas. Seen as theatrical vigilantes at constant risk of persecution, they constantly change their venues and have no specific theatrical home. Members of the theatre have been attacked by the police and held for their participation in the Belarus Free Theatre activities. The stage director and other associates were fired from their jobs at state-run theatres for their involvement in the movement.

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Being Harold Pinter at the mid-April 2007 conference Artist and Citizen: 50 Years of Performing Pinter, in England

The group was established in March 2005 by human rights activist, playwright and journalist, Nikolai Khalezin, and Natalia Koliada, a theatre producer and Khalezin’s wife. The group’s mission was to resist the overwhelming pressure and censorship of Belarus’ president, Alexander Lukashenka.

As the only modern theatre force in the country, the government is challenged by Belarus Free Theatre’s commitment to performing uncensored works. All other theatre is state-run, allowing the country to dictate the programming, resulting in a stale version of theatre which cannot appropriately discuss all aspects of contemporary life. The guerilla theatre group pushes for its creative freedom daily, risking their own security for the promise of truth in art.

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Belarus Free Theatre in the short play by Jean-Pierre Thibaudat, one of the 12 featured in ‘Eurepica. Challenge.’

On 22 August 2007, during the Free Theatre’s première of Edward Bond’s theatrical piece Eleven Vests, Belarusian special forces stormed a performance in a private apartment in Minsk, and arrested actors, directors, and audience members. The founder, Khalezin, has now unfortunately become accustomed to these surprises, stating that the police would regularly burst into performances with machine guns in order to demonstrate power. At this point he does not fear for himself, but does notice that it is taking its toll on those who have never been arrested before. He’s afraid that these brave audience members won’t come back. Regardless of the pressure, the show resumed the next day in one of the private houses outside of Minsk. Police took video of the event from the forest.

The next few years were moderately less tumultuous but on December 19, 2010, fifty thousand citizens took to the streets to protest what they believed to be the rigged election of Alexander Lukashenko. More than a thousand of those were beaten and arrested, including Artistic Director Natalia Koliada, along with other artistic figures.  At the Belarus Embassy in London, Ian McKellen and a number of leaders from the artistic community protested the arrests, bringing international attention to the issue. Natalia Koliada was released, while Nikolai Khalezin went into hiding, where he remains.

The turmoil  has been worth it for those in the ensemble, almost all of whom have served time behind bars. Notable playwrights (Tom Stoppard, Harold Pinter, Václav Havel, and Arthur Kopit) have supported the Free Theatre, with Pinter himself  so impressed by their biographical work [Being Harold Pinter] that he gave the troupe rights to perform any of his plays for free. 


Image Sources: 1, 2

Everything is Connected

Discovered this weekend that this soundtrack makes for the best driving music on long trips around the city. The end credits specifically. Take a listen and let your day transform into something extraordinary.

Travelogues: Cross-Country Traveling Through Good Ol’ Americana

As part of preparations for See Rock City and Other Destinations, a musical travelogue about people’s stories at various American destinations, we’re talking to real folks about their travel experiences around the U.S. Giving people a taste of others’ authentic, fun, and hard-to-believe stories one interview at a time.

Today, we’re talking to Lisa about her exploration from Alabama up to the frozen north via car.

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What inspired your cross country travels? How did you select the destinations you knew you had to see?

The cross country trip (Alabama to Montana) came up due to my former fiance being reassigned to Montana for his next 3 years in the Air Force. The destinations kind of just happened, depending on how tired we were, what time it was and how the weather was (we were driving in December with a cat and dog).

What was your favorite stop of the expedition? Why did this one stand out for you?

My favorite destinations were: Mount Rushmore, mostly because it’s amazing and we had fun there. We took goofy pictures. The second would be Sturgis, South Dakota. The people there were so amazingly kind and helpful. One woman even offered us a room in her home and gave my ex his food for free since he is in the service.

Most ridiculous thing that happened on your trip?

Here’s the ridiculousness: we got to Missouri and got stuck in an ice storm. We sat in one spot on the highway for three hours (seriously. We watched all of Green Zone on his Droid).

Was there any point on the trip when you had to rethink your original plan? 

Needless to say, sitting that long, you get antsy and eventually…you “gotta go”. Since there was ice all over and we were literally in the middle of the highway-cum-parking-lot, there wasn’t anywhere to go. My ex wound up using a Vitamin Water bottle and I used the dog’s water bowl! You do what you gotta do on the road!

If you would pick three words to describe the trip, what would they be?

Eye-opening, fun and unforgettable!

What do you do when hit with a case of wanderlust?

I start looking at magazines, blogs and other websites when wanderlust hits.

Where’s next on your travel itinerary?

Next trip is a road trip a few hours away for a half marathon I’m running, then the “big trip” is volunteering at Yosemite for 5 days in September!

All photos courtesy of Lisa. Thanks!

The Automatic Existence or Something Less Ordinary?

Life is only as monotonous as we want it to be. Feeling like you need a bit of a shake-up? Start with another one of the fantastic illustrated quotes from Gavin of ZenPencilsfindtheothers

“America” Means Different Things to Different People

“I always liked the idea that America is a big facade. We are all insects crawling across on the shiny hood of a Cadillac. We’re all looking at the wrapping. But we won’t tear the wrapping to see what lies beneath.”
-Tom Waits

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Image Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Travelogues: The Charm and Craziness of Coney Island

As part of preparations for See Rock City and Other Destinations, a musical travelogue about people’s stories at various American destinations, we’re talking to real folks about their travel experiences around the U.S. Giving people a taste of others’ authentic, fun, and hard-to-believe stories one interview at a time.

Today, we’re talking to nouveau-Brooklynite Abigail’s visits to the age-old wonderland of Coney Island.

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I’m Abigail. I’m a graduate student in creative writing and book publicist, and I moved from Wisconsin to Brooklyn in 2009 after taking a two-month trip around the country on Greyhound buses. I love travel and languages, and I studied in Spain and Japan as an undergrad. So far, the highlight of my travels has probably been learning how to ride an elephant in Chiang Mai, Thailand, then lying on the ground as it walked over me.

What inspired your move from Wisconsin to Brooklyn?

Brooklyn felt like where I needed to be. To quote Calvin & Hobbes, “They say the secret of success is being at the right place at the right time. But since you never know when the right time is going to be, I figure the trick is to find the right place, and wait around.”

 What was your first experience with Coney Island?

My first trip to Coney Island was with a few close friends who had all moved to the city after graduation. I loved seeing the glimpses of olden-day carnival Coney Island, and the experience of walking along the boardwalk eating a corn dog from Nathan’s. We spent the day taking turns lying on the beach and braving the water, which was still freezing because it was so early in the summer.

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 How did your trips there change over time? 

I think it’s more accurate to say that the feeling I get from visiting Coney Island and putting my feet in the ocean has stayed constant — even though the past few years of my life have involved a lot of flux. Since I’m from the Midwest, I wasn’t used to living close to an ocean — and in most of New York City, it’s strangely easy to forget how close you are to the water. I recently moved further south into Brooklyn to Bath Beach — just a few subway stops away from Coney Island — so I’m hoping I’ll begin to feel even more like it’s “mine” now that I can get there in less than 15 minutes on a bus or train.

 Strangest thing you ever saw at Coney?

I’m not sure if I could pick just one. Every year, Coney Island hosts the Mermaid Parade, which typically involves a lot of glitter and naked people. So, basically like liberal arts college. I’m kidding. There are so many amazing costumes: mermaids with octopus pasties, transformers, giant birds, circus performers on unicycles. I recommend Google-imaging “Mermaid Parade” if you’re not at work.

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Off-season photos of Coney look like a deserted wonderworld. Have you ever visited when no other tourists were around?

I have! I remember one unseasonably warm day in early March a few years back, and I decided it would be fun to go out to Coney Island by myself and take a walk along the beach, and maybe go for a swim. I got there and immediately realized that I had totally misjudged how cold it would be with the wind, but because I didn’t want to feel like I’d made the trip for nothing, I sat on the beach and read, even though it was freezing. There were maybe two other people on the beach, and it felt almost post-apocalyptic.

Do you think America will always have nostalgia for its beachside communities (Coney, Atlantic City, etc.)?

America loves nostalgia. I don’t think it’s necessarily specific for beach communities, though I think there is something special about places that simultaneously encompass two different worlds (one for the people that live there, and one for the tourists). The coast is also a place where fun and danger can easily meet, so maybe there’s a glamour factor in that, too.

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How does Coney Island play into the modern day notion of New York? (Escapism, a much needed retreat, danger zone, etc.)

I think it’s a place where there’s tremendous tension between the old and the new. This is true for a lot of New York, but it seems especially palpable on Coney Island.

Any other fascinating finds in NY that you would recommend folks visit if they’re near the city?

My favorite thing to recommend to visitors is the Staten Island Ferry. It’s free, you get to be on a boat, and you get a great view of the Statue of Liberty. My biggest recommendation, though, is to spend some time people-watching. New York has the best people-watching in the world.

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All photos courtesy of Abigail. Thanks!

Join Along for the Road Trip

“Americans have always been eager for travel, that being how they got to the New World in the first place.”
– Otto Friedrich

Thrilled to be working on See Rock City and Other Destinations, a musical travelogue that tells the stories of folks across the U. S. of A. This show is made up of a set of short vignettes, small American plays that attempt to answer the questions of what are we seeking and what holds us back from realizing the things we want. It’s told through story songs and feels akin to a particularly good episode of This American Life on NPR.

Today we’ve started our Meet Rock City series to allow folks to meet the cast and wanted to share the fun with all y’all.

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These folks are an incredibly talented bunch that are telling these honest stories in some inspiring ways. And while the show keeps up the pace with its humor, the takeaway seems to make us question our basic anxieties or fears – of connecting, of missing out, of seeking, of believing or no longer being able to believe.

Welcome to the journey. Glad to have you along for the ride.

The Easiest Way to Make a Million, Fall in Love and Enjoy Your Life

Sick of hearing about get rich quick schemes and the next best things? So is everyone. But there is something that will work, without a doubt, every time. It’s a path that’s not for everyone – in that it requires a bit of courage, gumption and willingness to learn, adapt and grow on the regular. But if that hasn’t scared you off, you may be ready to hear exactly how you can get what you want out of life.

Ready, Set…?

How to:

(click to reveal)live, life, wonder, splendor, wander, joy, love, awesome, giant, kites, beachBody, Yoga, Strength, Growth, Perfect, Health, Tipskids, volunteer, school, Africa, developmentmillion, dollars, money, growth, earning, potential, rich, gainworld, travel, voyage, traveler, backpack, go, action, wanderlust, insatiable, thirst, need, globalpaint, art, create, artist, creativity, expression, emotion, speak, truthlove, soulmate, connection, relationship, friendship, understanding, unconditional, amour, souls, truth

It all has to start somewhere.

Image Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7