SEARCHING FOR THE LOST

True stories of searching for the lost: my keys, my diamond ring and my dearly departed son

We’ve all lost something at one time or another. Here are three vignettes of my searching for the lost.

My Keys – Searching for the Lost

Roughly three decades ago, I locked our door and left to drive to work. As my starting time was later, everyone else had already left for school or work. Sitting in the car, I reached for my purse stored keys. Probing more deeply, I scraped the bottom of each section and pocket. I came up empty handed. No house or car keys were to be found. Was it time to be searching for the lost?

What could I do? Unfortunately, we had not yet thought of a secret place for emergency keys. This was before cell phones. Our nearest neighbor lived a quarter mile down a gravel road. If I walked there, I didn’t know if they’d even be home. I rushed up to our house and tried all the doors to no avail. The only solution that came to me was to break into our own home!

Our “so called” front door was rarely used and had an old multi-paned wooden door. To this day, I do not remember what I used, but I found an object to break one of the small glass panes. Do you know how hard it is to purposely break glass? After multiple tries, I shattered the pane nearest to the inside door knob. Luckily, I could reach the slide locking mechanism on the outer door, turn the knob for the fortunately unlocked inner door and welcome myself into our home! I quickly found some extra keys and made it to work on time.

Arriving home at the end of the day, I tried to fathom where I could have left my keys. The night before I had gotten groceries. That was when I last remembered using them. Long story short, I found them in the freezer! You see, my hands were quite full when I unlocked the door, so I simply dropped my keys into one of the grocery bags. This particular bag only had frozen items, so the entire bag was placed in the freezer! Retracing my steps was what finally reconnected me to my passage to travel and shelter.

My Diamond Ring – Searching for the Lost

My second story of loss involves my diamond wedding ring. Some years after the key incident, I was getting ready for work. For some reason, my wedding ring was not with my other rings. Even though I was fully clothed, I felt naked not wearing that ring. I searched a bit and found nothing, so had to delay further exploration until later. Numerous times during the day, I felt my ring-less finger, pondering where in the world it could be. Could searching for the lost find my ring?

There is probably no one who could guess where I found my ring. Following another careful retracing of my steps, I found the symbol of the love of my life in the refrigerator! You see, the night before I had been preparing my lunch for work. One of the foods was baby carrots. I had taken off my rings to wash before packing my veggies. For some bizarre reason, my wedding ring slid onto the end of the storage bag’s wire twist tie just prior to placing it into the crisper drawer.

The temperature of my strange, inadvertent hiding places reminded me of a guessing game we would play when we were children. If someone was guessing a hiding place of something – a close guess would receive the response of ‘you are hot or warm’. If it was entirely off base, you were cold. At least my newest hiding niche, while still cool, was not frozen solid! It did strike me as slightly humorous that a wedding ring whose diamonds are measured in carats was commingling with the carrots.

Our Son – Searching for the Lost

Now to my third story, the loss of our dearly departed son. Of course, as important as my keys and ring were to find, nothing at all can compare to the loss of a loved one, particularly one’s own child. Losing a child is like a large chunk of one’s own potential breaking off, just as a massive peninsula suddenly (or gradually) eroding into the ocean. It was also as if my kite, which had been battered by the wind of our son’s horrendous illness, had all at once crashed into the ground. Losing a child is losing a link to the future. So many bereavement cards and messages spoke of loss. How could I cope with this loss? Could I retrace my steps through this as well?

In reviewing a very few themes of our son’s life, he was infatuated with mourning doves. Perhaps he considered their coo as soothing. Maybe he liked them because some of them nested around their home. I’ve wondered if he was attracted to mourning doves because they like to spend time with their mate.

Also, he absolutely loved music. One song that stands out to me is Pharrell Williams’ song, “Happy”. Even when our son wasn’t feeling the best, he would be sitting in his living room recliner and finding stereo tunes to play for others. He thrilled in playing “Happy” as his little daughter delighted in dancing to it. I felt joyous when I joined in, too.

Signs

After our son had passed the signs started coming. Could these signs help me in searching for the lost? One such time, I had just settled in our front room to contemplate the main topics list for my memoir. As soon as I began reviewing it, a mourning dove landed on a nearby ledge and cooed for a solid six minutes! I took that as confirmation of his approval. When his sister, his dad and I were on a vacation, a store we’d just entered began playing “Happy”. We felt he was with us, making our original foursome again! In regards to signs, awareness and timing are crucial elements.

Sometimes with my former students, I would have a saddened child approach me and reveal that they missed their mommy, daddy or a grandparent. Once in a while, it was simple separation anxiety and the other person would be at home or work while the child was at school. Other times it was because they’d passed. In either case, I would always point to their heart and tell them they were inside, because they loved them so. That generally seemed to satisfy their need.

This third story of loss after finding my keys in the freezer and my ring in the frig led me to listening to my own advice I gave my students. Our loved ones are truly never lost, they always reside in our hearts, the warmest place of all to find and treasure what you may have assumed was lost.

Your Thoughts Are Seeds

What do you plan to plant? Are you hoping to have a vegetable garden? Do you want a flower bed? What about some raspberries, rhubarb or strawberries? Don’t you need fruit trees? How about a lush, green lawn? Wouldn’t you like a large maple tree? Does your property need an evergreen windbreak?

Could these seeds carry a resemblance to the seeds of your thoughts?

Vegetables

Most of the produce in vegetable gardens are annuals. The seed must be planted each year. These seeds serve to nourish you and your loved ones throughout the year. Do your thoughts, which ultimately are connected to your words and actions, nourish your loved ones as well?

Flowers

Comparatively, flowers can be annuals or perennials. Annuals don’t necessarily need to have a permanent spot, whereas perennials do. Flowers inspire our sense of beauty. Do you instill a sense of beauty in others? Is this thought of beauty fluctuating and changing throughout the years as an annual, or is it more of a perennial fixture?

Fruits

Many fruits, whether in small plants or trees, are a component of a landscape which produces every year, once mature. Fresh, juicy fruits nurture our taste for the sweet. Do your thoughts give your loved ones a taste of the luscious, year after year?

Lawns

A lovely, green lawn is an invitation to enjoy the outdoors, to go play, to revel in the sunshine. Is this sense of play and fun within the vocabulary of your thoughts?

Trees

Trees, marvelous trees, such as large maple trees, take decades to reach their full size. These giants draw people to sit beneath, to lean against, to relax into their presence. Do your thoughts encourage this sitting, leaning, relaxing behavior from others?

Windbreaks

Finally, an evergreen windbreak takes a good number of years to be of service. Once the trees are large enough, they offer (excuse me) a “tree-mendous” amount of protection from the wind, as well as a wonderful shelter for wildlife. Do you present protective and sheltering thoughts to others?

Thoughts

Our thoughts are certainly seeds which lead to our actions. Emotions are generally tied to them. Many times the emotions bubble out. Other times, they can become buried, perhaps inadvertently planted. Here is a good article on repressed emotions along with how to cope: https://www.healthline.com/health/repressed-emotions#releasing-them.

Here is to your healthy thoughts, whether they be annual or perennial, may you blossom into your greatest potential!

P.S. I have one more seed to offer for today. If you’d like to plant more of my ideas, go to https://Linda-M-Wolfe.com/LMW-Free-Download/. Happy growing season!

Pain Blessings When It Hertz!

Well, believe me, I didn’t ever think I would say pain could be a blessing! The reason I say this is that I’ve never had the opportunity to test controlling pain on my body by using sound. (Fortunately, I don’t experience pain often.) Recently, I had the chance.

Initially, my pain level was around a 5 out of 10. I really dislike taking any medications for pain. Luckily, I remembered the frequency of 174 hertz is the one most known for achieving comfort from pain.

Here is the YouTube video I used.

I chose this particular one for its general overall tone, so there was no question that the frequency was evident rather than hidden in layers of notes. Laying on a yoga mat, within a minute, I became pain free and extremely relaxed! In half an hour, I decided to conclude my session. Afterwards, a little bit of pain returned with only a level of .5! Consequently, I was pleasantly surprised. I can also say, I was a bit sad.

What if sound therapy was used more often?

It made me sad to think that something so easy, quick and highly effective has been largely ignored. It seems challenging to find legitimate medical studies on sound healing. I would think it could have tremendous potential in the medical world. It would decrease or eliminate medication side effects. There could be immediate pain relief! I will say, however, that there are cautions with using sound. It is best to check with your medical professional to be certain you don’t have a condition in which healing tones would not be recommended.

Just think if sound therapy was provided in birthing suites! Natural childbirth without drugs is far better for mother and baby. This could be wonderful for more compassionate care, giving patients with many different aliments the option of remaining relaxed, but alert. It needs to be added, however, that if it was used in a medical facility, it would need to be played for a patient through ear buds. That way, the health care workers would not be adversely affected by becoming overly relaxed!

Studies on sound healing for pain

I did find a couple of studies worth mentioning. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4325896/ This particular one is regarding the effects of frequency sound stimulation on patients with fibromyalgia.

Here is another. This one is also sound based, but in addition, involves being hooked up to monitors to read brain waves. The study found positive results in reducing migraines. https://www.livescience.com/56121-brainwave-balancing-hirrem-migraines.html

Hopefully you don’t have any pain issues. However, if you do, this may be well worth your consideration!

In closing, this is part of a series of posts on sound healing. Here are the others thus far: Creativity 101 with 528 Hertz, HEALING AND BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS: 639 HERTZ, PAIN: KNOCK IT DOWN – 174 HZ and Tuning into Healing: Grief.

P.S. If you haven’t visited my page for a free download of the introduction to my as yet unpublished memoir, go to https://Linda-M-Wolfe.com/LMW-Free-Download/! Enjoy!

SPRING OF WISDOM

Contrast of Spring

Nature is a spring of wisdom! Ah, revel in this altogether lovely spring, the first new season of the year!

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant. ” Anne Bradstreet

“No matter how chaotic it is, wildflowers will still spring up in the middle of nowhere.” Sheryl Crow

After just having experienced a long year of the pandemic as well as our northern hemisphere winter, the contrasting promise of spring and flowers are especially welcome.

Laugh and Party – Spring of Wisdom!

“The world laughs in flowers.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!'” Robin Williams

I am certainly ready to laugh with the spring, frolic in nature and party. Are you?

Possibility of Kindness

“A kind word is like a spring day.” Russian Proverb

“I dwell in possibility.” Emily Dickinson

In like manner, just think of this possibility – what if each of us would spread kind words to many others, just as if fluffing a blanket of wildflowers over rolling hills? How beautiful it would be!

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_kindness_spreads_in_a_community

World of Imagination

“If you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for a moment.” Georgia O’Keeffe

“What a strange thing! to be alive beneath cherry blossoms.” Kobayashi Issa, Poems

Oh, the land of imagination is marvelous! Just pretend the colors of a single flower are dripping over you, as if this were your entire world! Or, fantasize existing in miniature beneath a fragrant cherry blossom enveloping you in wonder! Consequently, this imagining may just induce some nice, deep breathing!

Listen to Nature’s Spring of Wisdom

“A flower blossoms for its own joy.” Oscar Wilde

“Flowers don’t worry about how they’re going to bloom. They just open up and turn toward the light and that makes them beautiful.” Jim Carrey

Finally, we would be wise to listen to the wisdom of nature. Basically, do what YOU need to do to feel as if you are blossoming. Give it no worry, but feel into what you do. Does it bring you true joy? Are you turning to the light with no reason to hide? That is the beauty way, my friend, be beautiful!

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Music of the Spheres

Pythagoras

The music of the spheres has always intrigued me. Ever since I’ve heard that phrase, I have marveled at the possibility of actually hearing this music. Pythagoras, who loved mathematics and geometry, first coined the words. He inhabited the earth from ca. 570 to ca. 490 BCE.

There is geometry in the humming of the strings, there is music in the spacing of the spheres. Pythagoras

Holst

Much later in history, the English composer, Gustav Holst, (1874 – 1934) used his composer’s imagination to represent this concept musically with The Planets. There are seven movements to his orchestral suite. Pluto was not yet discovered at the time it was written. In this suite, Holst created a movement for all seven known planets except Earth. My favorite of these is Jupiter. Here is a flash mob orchestral rendition of it. This version gave me goosebumps!

Russo

Now, there is a brilliant modern day astrophysicist and musician, Matt Russo. At last, he can give us the treat of actually hearing the mathematical equivalent of the sounds stars and planets and even entire solar systems would make. He basically utilizes formulas and fractions representing orbits, brightness, temperature, etc. with music. Did you know some solar systems are in tune and others are not?

Finally, Matt Russo, who was featured in the previous You Tube, has created an amazingly interactive website. This site demonstrates some of his work in translating the stars and planets into music. It was inspired by a seeing-impaired girl. Translating the visual experience of seeing the sky into an auditory feast allowed her, at long last, an accessible way to examine this wonder! Enjoy playing the moons of Jupiter and see how much different it is than Holst’s Jupiter! Try strumming Saturn’s harp strings, which are more than likely the rings around her. Play the music of the Pleiades. If you like, you may even write your own music on this delightful site! Have fun!

https://www.system-sounds.com/our-musical-universe/

HOPE THROUGH CYCLES OF TIME

Hope in a New Day, Season, and Year

Sometimes the simple act of turning a new daily calendar page can be enough to inspire hope. Let the light of a new day shine optimism through any cracks of drear.

A fresh season, particularly spring, seems ripe with promise. The potential of starting a new garden grows fertile in my mind. Searching for the fresh color of early season blossoms and borning tufts of green grass thrills my soul.

This month marks a new year since our community initially shut down for the pandemic. It has undoubtedly been one of the most challenging years our world has endured. Not only have we dealt with the horrific loss of many lives, but we’ve also felt the sting of political and ideological division as well as inequality in a number of arenas. All was certainly enhanced by the pandemic and yet…

Starting Anew

We are moving beyond the first year of an unprecedented learning experience. We may have found our personal priorities, our limitations, our generosities. Even though we are moving forward into unknown territory, I have hope. After all, today is the promise of a new day, this month begins a beautiful season and we are blessed with a lovely unlived year before us.

Please enjoy a spring sonnet of mine as well as a favorite song by Cat Stevens.

March 13, 2017

The sprigs of grass poke forth from fallen snow
appear as two days growth unshaven face!
The resurrection plants see cold as foe,
may feel like naked ladies, minus lace!
All dressed in winter drab, a gold finch feeds.
One blue jay flicks its beak through snow to eat.
A second jay prefers dishonest deeds
by stealing dog food nuggets - what a treat!

Our cedar trees play host to lots more birds.
A bright red cardinal poses way up high.
A mourning dove was singing love - I heard!
The scores of fluffed up robins catch my eye.
Their berry picking flits from branch to branch
does make me want to join their spring time dance

First Publication Rights - Lyrical Iowa 2018

Here is a fun website https://www.futureme.org/ in which you may write yourself a letter sent to you at a future date which you will determine. Perhaps you could dream and create what these new cycles of time could become for you! Be sure to include a dose of hope in your message!

May these new cycles of time enlighten our progress toward our highest good!

GRIEF RELIEF

Grief is part of being human, whether it is being pummeled with the pandemic, blindsided by a diagnosis or stricken with the loss of a loved one (through death or divorce). Attempting to suppress our emotions can compound our issues, causing one to feel miserably and powerlessly imprisoned. As each person’s response to grief is very unique, consider these models as examples of how a person may (or may not) respond. A person may revisit a stage of grief as their moods fluctuate. It is critical to do what is right for you!

Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ Grief Model

First of all the pathfinder psychiatrist, Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, developed a list of characteristic responses to grief. She noted in working with the medical field that very little attention was being given to helping patients cope with grief. Her model, Five Stages of Grief, includes denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. She structured her theory in 1969. These five stages may happen in any order while it is completely normal to even skip over some. https://www.biography.com/scientist/elisabeth-kubler-ross

Other Grief Models

Following Dr. Kubler-Ross, there have been several other models created. The next one in 1993, the Six Rs of Mourning, was developed by Dr. Therese Rando. Dr. Lois Tonkins founded Growing Around Grief in 1996. Professor Margaret Strobe and Dr. Henk Schut designed the Duel Process Model of Grief in 1999. During the year 2002, R. A. Neimeyer and A. Anderson generated the Reconstruction of Meaning. The last of this group was in the year 2008 with the conception of Dr. J. William Worden’s Four Tasks of Grieving. As each of these models is different, you may find one that is more suitable for your specific situation. Because of these models, Western medical practices have become increasingly more personalized in acknowledging the impact of grief on the psyche of humans. Links to further information on each of these is available at the following site. https://www.funeralguide.net/blog/the-grieving-process

Dr. Daniel Amen

Dr. Daniel Amen is the celebrity brain imaging doctor you may have seen on television. His premise is if one changes one’s brain, one can change one’s life. As a double board certified psychiatrist, he is very cognizant of emotional health. In his practice, he works with the Kubler-Ross model. Dr. Amen had recently lost his father immediately before the following video was recorded. He offers four tips to move through the grief process.

Complicated Grief

Complicated grief is an actual medical descriptor. Seven percent of the bereaved are affected. The symptoms are a cluster of extreme grief symptoms which severely hamper daily living to the point of feeling paralyzed from moving forward. I have personally found a large portion of these people who frequent websites on the topic of grieving. The most tragic loss is that of one’s child. While I have not experienced complicated grief, I know the tragedy of losing a child. My heart hurts for all those bereaved who seem to have absolutely no hope to carry on their life. If this is you or someone you love, I strongly recommend reading this NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information) article. There are effective treatments available to regain one’s zest for life. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3384440/

Indigenous Cultures

Throughout history, many indigenous cultures from around the world have experienced a more expansive view of life. When their groups are undisturbed, their grief is healed through communal ceremonies including mourning, dancing, drumming, etc. They work with rather than against nature. Those who have been fortunate to remain with their elders for generations sense that everything in existence has life and energy. As a result, they feel a oneness with everything. Their intimate knowledge of reality, which their cultures have known for thousands of years, is now being confirmed by quantum physics!

Perhaps some of these grief easing practices could be adopted. Contemplate the oneness of all. We never lose anything or anyone. My post, Mobius Strip Mindset: The Illusion of Loss illustrates this concept. Dance to release your emotions. Notice how you feel when you make music with instruments or voice. Practice the tremendously healing activity of forest bathing. Sit while leaning against a large tree. Relax and imagine the roots of the tree carrying one’s heartaches deep into the ground. Let your tears water the soil. Allow the earth to take your burdens. Expel all the stale air from your lungs and inhale new cleansed oxygen. Breathe and repeat as necessary. Let the fresh air invigorate you. Contemplate the cycle of sharing as your expelled carbon dioxide gives the tree life while the tree releases oxygen for you!

Creative Practices

Drawing and writing are good recommendations. Expressing oneself is one very effective way to get one’s emotions out. It may be only for your own eyes, but it is well worth it.

Artistic, musical and written practices have brought me much comfort in my grieving. I am also quite grateful for the energy of nature which allows me to feel that there is much more to the world than what many may realize. May you find much comfort in your grieving journey. People care. There is help available. Please allow yourself to heal.

ARTS AND SOCIETY – I

Conversation with Dr. Kevin Shorner-Johnson

Today I’d love to share an Arts and Society conversation with a former colleague of mine. Dr. Shorner-Johnson joined the faculty at Pennsylvania’s Elizabethtown College in 2010. He is currently the Dean of the School of Arts and Humanities. He also leads a ground-breaking new Master’s program in music education and peacebuilding (www.etown.edu/musicmasters) and a professional development network at www.musicpeacebuilding.com. Prior to his time at Elizabethtown College, Dr. Shorner-Johnson taught high school, middle school, and elementary band in Greenfield, Iowa and Athens, Georgia.  

Linda: Welcome, Kevin! I enjoyed browsing through your website. It’s inspiring to see all the things you’ve been doing as well as the amazing people you’ve interviewed. 

Arts and Society Listening

Kevin: Yeah, it’s been a gift. I think I was starting out with this whole peacemaking, peacebuilding thing from our college’s heritage. Of course, nobody has actually written a textbook on this area. So I was like, I need to go out and start doing interviews to start capturing this information. So we’ve got it. It’s been a gift, it really has, you know next week, we’ll have an interview coming out with somebody who’s written this beautiful book on compassionate teaching and what does compassionate teaching mean?

Kevin: After that, there’s an interview coming out with a teacher in Greece, who’s doing work with refugee communities. Following that an African American songwriter who’s traveled the globe writing songs. She’s working on the great migration of African-American peoples in the United States from the south to the north and such, so it’s fun, fun work. This means now, a lot more listening, which I think is what I most enjoy about podcasting. 

Linda: Well, with music, you are listening. That’s a huge part of it. 

Kevin: Yeah, I think that’s part of all the arts at some point, you know? 

Linda: Oh, yes! 

Kevin: It just depends on whether you’re listening with your eyes or your body or your ears. It’s so different from art to art. 

United States Society

Linda: Are you able to get anything from the Des Moines Register online? Do you remember the editorial columnist, Rekha Basu? 

Kevin: The name sounds vaguely familiar, but I can’t place that. 

Linda: She had an article in the Register; I will see if I can get a copy to you in some manner. Ms. Basu interviewed a black woman, Nikki Hannah-Jones, who was from Waterloo, Iowa. The Pulitzer Prize for commentary was won by Ms. Hannah-Jones! Her writing began with the year 1619 in efforts to record the influence of African-Americans and other groups back into history. She also created a widely used, free curriculum for teachers to share in classrooms across our country. What made me sad, was that an Iowa House Representative sponsored a bill to financially penalize any schools using the curriculum. https://nikolehannahjones.com  

Kevin: Yeah, we’re in an age of defensiveness right now, I think. 

Beautiful Challenges

Linda: There are people who are trying to make things right and I’m glad you are part of that. 

Kevin: Yeah. The, hurt runs deep, I think for sure. I think people are wrestling. You know, I think there’s one way to go about the work, which is to be incredibly defensive about our really awful history of slavery. And then there’s another way to go about it, which is just to accept that it’s a beautiful challenge to make things right. I think that that’s where I’m at.

Kevin: Yeah, I think my own wrestling is that my family owned slaves in Northern Virginia. In fact, the slave quarters are still standing there in Manassas, Virginia, of our family. So, then my question was, you know, if I’ve benefited from the sale of our family’s farm property, I’m basically benefiting from black labor in many ways. So, I’ve been wrestling with what is my ethical responsibility to use that gift that’s been passed on to me in ways that are ethical and can change. I’m doing my own wrestling in that area as well. 

Linda: Well, I’m sure it could have been any of us. I don’t know, I honestly don’t know. 

Kevin: Yeah. 

Zimbabwean Society

Linda: In your podcasts, didn’t you interview someone from Africa? I can’t recall which country. It was basically about the proper response when one asks, “How are you?” 

Kevin: I am well if you are also. 

Linda: Yes. That sense of generosity is amazing in that culture! 

Kevin: Yeah, Zimbabwean culture? It’s incredible. The sense of mutuality is so critical. So, tell me about your blog that you’re working on, what’s the kind of work that you’re doing? 

This Blog with Arts and Society

Linda: Well, it kind of started out with ….did you know we lost our son?

Kevin: No, I don’t think I did. Sorry.

Linda: Thank-you. He drove himself to the hospital in the middle of the night right before my first day of school in 2009. It took til the middle of October before they brought up pancreatic cancer, because it’s really hard to identify. Through all that time, I was journaling. Also around that period, I had an open magazine that mentioned energy healing. So, I started learning energy healing. Talk about knowing that we are one! This work helped him a lot. He went through most of the traditional treatments that they offered, but he ended up passing in 2016.

Signs

Linda: We get so many signs from him. I have a friend to whom he comes through. Our son will smirk and show his sense of humor with her. His personality is just the same as when he was in the earthly realm. Around two and a half years ago, while my friend and I were chatting, he showed himself to her. I asked if he said anything about me writing any books? She told me, “Oh, my gosh, yes!” He showed her an image of my book that was already published before I even wrote it! Another thing he told her was, I would have a website.

Linda: Anyway, it’s basically a part of an author’s expectations to have a website. So it stemmed from that. I started my blog last April. My topics tend to be about arts and society, of course, as well as helping people with grief through the arts, and just the journey we’ve been through with our son. I eventually hope to have my book published. I’m currently looking for an agent and refining the book proposal for my manuscript, but that’s how my website started. One might say that losing a child was the seed of planting my blog. It has been a difficult challenge, however I’ve found through the process of cracking it open, joy has grown.

Kevin: Yeah. I can say bless you for your awareness of knowing that you needed to listen to those kind of spiritual signs. I think that that’s incredibly powerful.

Peace Building and Trees

Linda: Thank-you. When you talk about oneness in your interviews, as well as tree hugging, it made me think. Trees have energy, they’re alive. They energetically speak to me, but probably a lot of people may think I’m crazy if they heard that, but I understand what you wrote. 

Kevin: I totally understand that. Yeah, you know, it was in the artistic peacebuilding class with our students and my colleague, Jon Rudy, who’s a professional peace builder. He had the students go out and they had to hug a tree for 30 minutes. The students were like, what am I gonna do for 30 minutes? They thought that we were on something, that we were just crazy, we were high or something!

Kevin: However, they went out and then they came back. Their response was that was so meaningful! In fact, some of them wrote, it was the most impactful moment of the entire semester! Because they had to accept that they might be able to be in relationship with a tree. It’s just so powerful, I think, when you start to have that awareness. I’m very open to the technology of energy. The idea that there’s a sense of energy moving through the world. I can talk more about what’s led me to that here in a second, but I want to hear it. Yeah, it’s just it. It is. I think it’s just really powerful for students. 

Linda: So what led you to that? 

Kevin: That theology of energy? 

Linda: Yes, yes. 

Peace Education

Kevin: Yes, so here’s a couple starting points that I can do on that, you know, one is an easy starting point. My colleague, Jon Rudy, teaches peace education classes, for the Mindanao Peace Building Institute in the Philippines. He’s worked all over the world, including Afghanistan and is such an incredible person to be with. I got the chance to teach that class with him. https://www.mpiasia.net/  Jon was the one who introduced me to my first book on peacebuilding, which really took me down this whole journey. It’s a book by John Paul Lederach who worked at Eastern Mennonite University. He later worked at Notre Dame, but he’s just one of the founders who have this idea of peacebuilding. https://kroc.nd.edu/faculty-and-staff/john-paul-lederach/  

Positive and Negative Energy

Kevin: He also speaks a great deal about a sense of energy within peacebuilding. But with Jon, what’s a good example? You know, he’ll talk about positive and negative energy within situations as well as forces and being aware of that kind of energy. I think a lot of times, he uses that sense of energy to have people be aware of their bodies, to be aware of how they’re responding to the notion that maybe love is a form of energy. And, that maybe that’s a much deeper form.

Kevin: It’s one of his greatest comments, if, and when we were reflecting on the current politics of the United States, you know, we were reflecting on the amount of hate that is out there. His comment to me was, you know, hate is such a dead form of energy, it just doesn’t last very long. It can’t sustain itself, because it’s just, dead. It’s incredibly harmful. But it’s not a deeper form of energy. But yet, beneath that, there’s a reason why love is so powerful. It just keeps moving through time, was one of his comments, and I find that incredibly meaningful.  

Sound Clip

Kevin: Another one of his activities he did with students was that he had a sound clip he recorded while he was in Afghanistan. It was an audio recording, recorded in the middle of a gun battle that, I guess, some US troops were having with some Afghan soldiers at the time. He plays that clip on the loudspeakers, and you just hear bombs going off and shots whizzing by your ear and stuff like that. You watch the students as they listen to the recording and their body posture is contorting down into that safety mechanism. Right? He uses that as a way of saying there’s a lot of energy in this recording. It’s the kind of energy that makes us retract. Then, he says so what would be the kind of energy that might open up our bodies, that might open this up to each other?  

Love Versus Fear

Kevin: He has another story where he talks about driving in a car with some Afghan colleagues to a Buddhist site there in Afghanistan. I mean, he’s a very brave individual. You know, he’s just like, somebody might kill me today, but I’m gonna choose to go in a spirit of love, without fear. He contrasted that to some US soldiers. This is not to say anything negative of US soldiers, but just the context in which those people were put. They were in this heavily armed vehicle with guns surrounding. They’re scanning the environment the entire time looking for any assailant to come. He contrasted these two types of energy. He uses that to talk about what does fear do to us? So that’s one story.  

Linda: Oh, yeah, I went through that intense fear when our son was first diagnosed. I lost a lot of weight and hair. I couldn’t eat or sleep. It led to experiences as you describe. A lot of my reading has shown me that fear and love are opposites. When we’re feeling fear, our DNA contracts and when feeling love, it expands. When one does energy healing, that’s sending love to someone. So, it’s just exactly as you portrayed it. 

Arts and Society in Prison

Kevin: I think my more transformative story for me goes back to Aswad Pops. So with Aswad, when I was getting into the peacebuilding, I heard a sermon. It’s the beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount in the Christian tradition. 

Kevin: There’s a challenge in there when you were in prison, he visited me. It’s like, I don’t think I’ve ever visited somebody who’s in prison. What would that look like if I took that on? So I looked for lists of inmates who were looking for pen pal relationships. I reached out to Aswad who was on death row in California’s San Quentin Prison. We had a three or four year pen pal relationship back and forth. I’m saying in past tense, because unfortunately, last year, he took his life to suicide.

Kevin: But he had this deep theology of energy, like he believed that love was a deep presence in the world, and that with this energy of love, he could transcend the walls of his cell in San Quentin Prison.

His number one wish was that if he was to pass away that his ashes would feed a fruit tree.

Kevin: That would be a way of continuing energy. He had so many profound insights, as I look back at those letters about notions of energy. I wanted to write to him I think you’re almost Buddhist or Hindu here, because of the way in which I see such a beautiful construct of energy. And so I think of him a lot. We have a fruit tree in our backyard. That in many ways reminds us we planted it a little ways after Aswad passed. But I think he’s another person who I would call my teacher in that area. I found great meaning in his sense of energy. 

Linda: It was a gift to allow Aswad’s creative expression through those letters. It may have presented a measure of peace to him as a one-on-one example of how arts and society are intimately connected. These actions permitted him to plant seeds to grow and bloom in someone else’s mind.

Past in the Present

Kevin: Yeah, it’s really powerful. It’s so sustaining to know that the senses of energy can move through the world. I always want to hold on to the sense of awe and wonder in my theology. I look up at the stars sometimes at night, and I have to remember how insignificant I am in the world and just how vast is the universe in this place. Along with that, I think a theology of energy also gives me a great deal of all to think there are deeper senses of force or movement in the world.

Kevin: If we go back to Zimbabwean and African religious traditions, one of the things I find so powerful, and especially West African traditions is this idea of the past present. In African traditions, you often believe that the past is here in the present, so my grandmother who passed is still alive and still alive within me, or is still alive, maybe in some of the energy that I come into. Some of the African religious traditions are about remembering the names of the people who’ve passed, so that we keep their energy and their spirit alive in this world. I find that also to be incredibly meaningful. 

DNA

Linda: You do have some of their biology within the cells. So the energy can’t help but be with you. 

Kevin: So much of what we’re learning in science, especially, let’s just open up trauma. What we know about trauma now is that if my grandmother experienced a trauma, that that trauma actually encodes itself in DNA and is passed down. You know, I might still be experiencing that. Resmaa Menakem wrote a new book, My Grandmother’s Hands. He’s an African-American therapist, who lives in Minneapolis. He is dealing with the notion of racialized trauma and the fact that his grandmother’s hands picked cotton on plantation fields. He is still wrestling with the traumas of enslavement, even two generations passed because it gets encoded in DNA. Yeah, I’m in awe. https://www.resmaa.com  

The Arts and Society

Linda: Powerful! Knowing that kind of thing, how can the arts help us to move from those spaces? 

Kevin: So I’m happy to go on this energy theme, because I think I could do that the whole day! 

Linda: Absolutely, I think that is a superb concept to connect arts and society! 

Kevin: How can the arts help us with that? If I talk about music, in particular for an area to start with, that’s really my expertise in areas. Musics create a soundscape. They could bring tones and sounds into the world and sounds are fundamentally vibrations in the world. One of my really good colleagues at E-town College is an expert in Dharma tradition, so Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, to some extent. When he comes to guest lecture my class, he introduces the fundamental notion of Hinduism, which is that all the world was created by a single clap that puts the world into a vibration. That, from a Hindu perspective, everything that we experience in the world is a resonance of that original vibration. 

Linda: Ah, reflect on this resonance, the very root of everything, of music, of the arts and society!

Resonance Across Time – Arts and Society

Kevin: Also within the Hindu perspective, like karma, this idea that maybe if I do a good act today, it might have resonance across time that thirty years from now, that kindness might be given to someone else who will pass it on. That’s also this notion of the resonance of energy across time.

Kevin: I think that that Hindu perspective has a lot to add to offer to notions of music, the arts, peacemaking and peacebuilding because from a Hindu perspective, there’s two. There’s two types of music within South Indian music. One is devotional music and one is meditational music. The meditational music tries to get back to the central vibration, which is this essence of home. Central vibration is that life force in the world. I find a great deal of power in that because it recognizes the fact that vibration is a transformative reality in this world, and music can contribute to the setting of a particular tone of vibration.  

Universal Good – Arts and Society

Kevin: Then from that, I would also argue that we need to be really careful in the arts because I’ve argued a lot that we often just kind of throw a generalization out there that the arts are just universally good, and that everything that we do in the arts builds peace. However, in my work in peacebuilding, I can point to lots of instances where music was used for harm. You know, in Nazi Germany, they used Wagner operas as a way of codifying nationalism and believing the superiority of one race over another.

Kevin: In Iraq, we the United States, would oftentimes blast heavy metal music at detainees as a form of torture. In Azerbaijan, where I went, I did some studies on the use of Azerbaijani Mugham, which is this beautiful form of music, like one of my favorites in the world. It was, however, transformed as a tool of nationalism and patriotism to say, you know, we are sacred. This is beautiful, which sounds amazing, but then it was used as a springboard for the Azerbaijani Armenian War that just came to a close a few weeks ago. So true, then we need to be really aware of how we build soundscapes, and that our soundscapes are built from a sense of resonance and sense of love. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3DEyWWUwJI  

Kevin: This is also a great clip of Mugham: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dp8_KADCpMc&t=1216s 

Linda: I totally agree that we as artists must make a conscious effort to have the highest good of all in mind as we contemplate arts and society. Choice of music as well as our intent is so important.

Arts and Society: Soundscapes of Love, Joy, and Passion

Kevin: So then, my work has been, who are the people out there who are building these soundscapes of love and joy and passion? I can name off just a few really quick, so I’m looking at my list of interviewees, Sonya de los Santos. What a gift she is! She lives in New York City. She has this one song called “Allegria” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3IYKnwN0kA, which is the song of love and joy.

Kevin: She is introducing children’s music into the world in Spanish, with the notion of making sure that Spanish speaking children in the United States and maybe even Mexico feel like they have a voice to turn to for children’s music. She has that interpretation of  “This Land Is Your Land, This Land Is My Land” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdzI5sXxGXY , which she sings completely in Spanish. My kids love that song. It’s a sense of belonging and embracing. If you watch her videos, she is the essence of joy. That’s the kind of energy I get off of her music, that sense of joy. She’s one who I’d hold up. I did a podcast on yoga and that definitely has that Hindu American essence of vibration and self-care and returning yourself to some kind of vibrational center. https://www.soniadelossantosmusic.com  

Linda: Sonya de los Santos’ music is certainly delightful! I can just see an energetic group of youngsters, beaming ear to ear while singing with her, proving once again the ties between the arts and society!

Three R’s: Racism, Reparations, and Reconciliation

Kevin: I’m starting to do some podcasts on racism and reparations and reconciliation from our racist history in the United States. I feel like the people whom I’ve highlighted, I admire so much because they’re holding us to account for the things that we need to change. But, I also notice that they’re doing their work from a deep place of love, and a deep place of wanting to create more loving and broader communities.  

Kevin: Andrew Hart was a gentleman I interviewed who’s a theology professor over here at Messiah College. He’s looking at racism within the white Christian Church. But, he’s critiquing while staying in community. So, I think that his choice to remain in community while he critiques at the same time is done from a place of great love for the profession. https://drewgihart.com  

Kevin: I’ve interviewed Brandi Waller-Pace from Decolonizing Music Room, a lot of the same thing is that she and many others are radically changing the field of music education right now to call into question, like, we have so many songs in our repertoire that came from black minstrel shows. So we’re trying to identify what those songs are, and either better contextualize those songs to actually deliver the history on the songs or remove them from the repertoire because of the racist history that they have. They’re doing it from a place of love for wanting to make the profession better, and for wanting a richer music education that speaks to all children and not just the privileged few children in music curriculum. https://decolonizingthemusicroom.com/who-we-are  

Linda: Brandi Waller-Pace is an exemplary music teacher in promoting the needed connections between the arts and society.

Musical Vibration

Linda: When you brought up Nazi Germany, I have always wanted to ask someone who’s very educated in music, has the frequency of the note of “A” changed from 432 to 440 hertz? Perhaps one or the other is not as vibrationally healthy? How can this sense of being in tune impact arts and society?

Kevin: Yeah, I think this gives me a good segue. Over the last ten years, I have taught a course in world musics here at Etown College, which I have loved because it’s allowed me to explore so many musical traditions around the world. I think I’m opening that to say that there are many beautiful ways of thinking about vibration across the world. I feel like I’m opening up to new understandings of vibration across the world. You know, I think I used to believe that everything should be perfectly in tune for it to be a transformative vibration. But, if you look at the music in Indonesia and Bali, they make a gamelan ensemble. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHgdrzgtBik  

Gamelan Ensemble

Kevin: This is an ensemble of metal instruments like gongs and wooden instruments like xylophones that are put together in a group. They have a collectivist mindset, this idea that we should constantly live in community and everything should live in community. They actually make their instruments so that their instruments live in community with each other.

Kevin: To do that, they tune their instruments to be “slightly” out of tune with each other. We would say they’re out of tune, they would say that they’re in tune. Because one instrument maybe is at 440 hertz and one instrument is at 432 hertz, it creates these waves and sounds: wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, like that. When you hear it, they refer to it as a shimmering sound, and it does, it creates the shimmering sound. They refer to it as a beautiful part of the spirituality of their sound and their tone. That’s really opened me up to different understandings of maybe what sound is. They have this. 

Linda: I find it fascinating to hear that there are such differing ideas as to the definition of beauty! This gives me new respect for various styles of music. Arts and society can enhance one another.

Arts and Society in Community

Kevin: So in Bali, they’re working from a Hindu perspective of music making. They talk about appropriate time, place and circumstance Desa-Kala-Patra and this notion that vibration should be introduced into a particular sacred place at a particular sacred time for a particular sacred purpose. And that that can transform space and lives and relationships.

Kevin: In fact, for podcasts now, I have an interview with a scholar on Balinese music making. So that’s coming out in the future. But I find that fascinating and even if I had a gamelan ensemble here in town, and I was going to do a concert in Philadelphia, and because I can’t transport all the instruments at the same time, I would have to ask permission of the instruments to separate them for a period of two hours, because to separate them violates their sacred sense of togetherness and community and I have to ask permission to break that.  

Kevin: One of their major Life philosophies is suka duka, which means happy together, sad together, that we should experience these things together. So sorry, it’s a long-winded answer. But also, I say that because I think that we, European Westerners, maybe need to open ourselves up to new forms of sound and vibration. And I’m just starting to understand that through Hindu traditions, through Haitian traditions, African traditions, it’s there, there’s so many ways in there. So I think I say that with a great deal of awe in wonder for what’s out there. Oh, yeah. 

Linda: Goodness, your studies of world music certainly illustrate the bond between arts and society!

Arts and Society Interconnected

Linda: That reminds me of a book, Tyee’s Totem Pole, I used to read to my elementary students before we learned about totem poles. I was always impressed with the Native American traditions surrounding the salmon run. When the salmon would come, the people would again have plenty to eat, then hold a big feast shared with nearby tribes. But, what put me in awe was the acknowledging of the being of the salmon. They would say, thank-you, my salmon brothers! They were very respectful of nature and their sense of community was important. It seems that’s what you’re saying with asking the permission of the instruments. 

Kevin: Yeah, there’s so much to learn from indigenous notions of relationality. This idea that everything is interconnected in some ways. And I think that essence of vibration speaks really well to that notion of interconnectedness. I think we’re just starting to scratch the surface. I hope we can reclaim enough of this wisdom before it’s gone from indigenous traditions because we sure tried to do a good job of eradicating it as we colonized indigenous peoples around the world. There’s so much wisdom that needs to be listened to today as we encounter these huge problems like climate change and such. 

Working with Insiders

Linda: Yeah, it’s very ancient knowledge. I think to reclaim that wisdom is exactly what could help our world. Switching gears, just a little bit, I’d like to focus on Mary Cohen, the choir director for the Glen Dale Prison. We saw a special on IPTV. It showed her working with these people and it was so impressive. How did she refer to them – insiders? Insider. These formerly hopeless people just had a sense of purpose and a musician provided it! Talk about the relationship between arts and society! https://music.uiowa.edu/people/mary-cohen  

Kevin: Yeah, she’s one of my heroes! If you ever get a chance to read the book that was written about her work, it’s called Redemption Songs by Andy Douglas. https://www.andydouglas.net/redemption-songs/  It is such a moving, emotional book of the work and it’s so beautifully written. Andy Douglas is a creative nonfiction writer, so he writes with an artistic flair. It’s a gorgeous book, Redemption Songs. It’s just great.

Kevin: Yeah, I am in awe of the communities of artists who are out there. Working in contexts of incarceration, right now. There’s so much beautiful work being done in visual art. It gives it in systems in which we are taught to treat people who are incarcerated as if they’re less than human. The art seemed to stand against that and say, “These people have an ability to express themselves in a deep way.” I’m so in awe of the visual artists who are out there, the people like Mary Cohen, the person who I just interviewed, Martha Gonzalez, is also doing work in prisons, as well as some music from Mexico. It’s deep restorative work right now. https://ourstoriesourimpact.irle.ucla.edu/martha-gonzalez/  

Linda: You’ve provided great evidence that arts are the great humanizing element. Arts and society belong together!

Peacemaking Versus Peacebuilding

Linda: This is extremely necessary, especially in today’s world! These people working with peacebuilding, the arts and society are crucial. So do we start with one person at a time, or how big of a group do you think the arts can start impacting? 

Kevin: Yeah, so  this gives me a chance to talk about the reason why I’m using the word peacebuilding instead of peacemaking. Peacemaking was/is a beautiful term that we’ve used for a long time. However, the problem that I find in peacemaking is that there is the assumption that at some point, peace is made, that you reach this point. You say, ah, we got there, we did it, we made peace. There’s truth in this because peacemakers can be very gifted at creating peace treaties that solve violent conflict at some point.

Peace Treaties

Kevin: There is definitely a place for people who are skilled, Foreign Service Workers who work on these very complicated peace treaties. But there’s a couple problems there, though. One is that there’s this assumption that peace is made and that you eventually reached this place.  You can say, ah, finally, we’re here, we’ve got peace. The other problem with it, too, is that we’re just starting to really understand that a lot of times when peace treaties are reached, the oppression doesn’t stop. Oftentimes, peace treaties can deeply oppress a group of people. People have pointed out peace treaties have often oppressed the Palestinian peoples in the Israeli Palestinian conflict.

Kevin: So, in contrast to that, is this notion of peacebuilding. Peace, that the notion of building says that you’ll never actually reach that point where you finally can say, I’ve made peace. That constantly every day you wake up and you’re just asking yourself, to what extent can I build a little bit more peace in the world today? To what extent can I contribute a little bit more in the world today? So for some people, it sounds a bit hopeless. It was like so you’re saying that we’re never actually going to make peace? And I was like, we’re not, but at the same time, it gives a great deal of hope in this in the face of problems that seem unsolvable. So many of our problems are unsolvable.

A Spirit of Love and Humility

Kevin: But the best we can do is approach the problems with a spirit of love and humility. You know, that can I enter into this space today? That brings an essence of love into the space today, and that’s the essence of peacebuilding. I think it takes away some of our ego about I’m gonna do this and I’m gonna change this and I’m gonna solve this problem. I’ve stopped using that word, we solve problems and changed it to we enter into problems, and we work on them together.

Kevin: So to go back to your first question about how big a group to impact. Well, you know, peacebuilding can happen one-on-one, it can be a really talented music therapist, working with somebody who’s been traumatized and bringing a deep sense of love and humanity to that interaction, it can be as small as that. I think that helps us because that means that if that’s true, then anybody can be a peace builder.

A five year old child can be a peace builder.

Kevin: So, it really opens it up, which I think is a beautiful thing. I think I am this white male academic, and I don’t hold the corner on this field. In fact, I’m going to go out and I’m gonna find people who are doing this, they may not refer to themselves as peace builders, but I want to recognize that this is in their work. 

Linda: Thank-you, Kevin, it was wonderful renewing connections with you. I am grateful for your taking time to speak to me with your insightful wisdom of how the energy of the arts can impact all people! I do see as a writer and an artist that even practicing art individually can help create a sense of peace in our world. From my experience, I know when healers and meditators work together in concert, our efforts are not merely added together, but multiplied exponentially. I strongly suspect the same to be true for the arts. When with loving intent, we make melody, create beauty, or build peace together, our efforts gather into the ethers. These collective efforts surely spread with exponential power, touching the hearts of the world. Arts and society certainly have a relationship. The peacebuilding journey on which you’re started has such immense, promising potential. Peace be with you! 

WABI SABI WISDOM

Wabi sabi is the Japanese view of accepting and appreciating imperfection and impermanence. A clay pot would be aesthetically pleasing if the piece was irregular in some manner. Perhaps the roundness of the rim has a bit of a wobble. Maybe the glaze doesn’t have a consistent patina. It is loved as a one of a kind piece, unique in its nature. The art of kintsugi (golden joinery) in BROKEN is another example of this type of aesthetic.

In the home

A home can develop a sense of wabi sabi. Many years ago we refinished some of our hardwood maple floors. While removing the sticky black goo beneath the old kitchen tile from the surface of the beautiful wood, I gouged a chunk out of the floor with a chisel. Our son accidentally left a long scratch while moving the oven across the floor. These blemishes were too deep to be completely sanded down. Initially it was disturbing, but now, it brings back fond memories of our family working together in our home the four of us shared. It represented the process of life, all the more treasured as our son has since passed on to the other side.

Wabi sabi could also be when a young grandchild comes to visit, leaving precious fingerprints on the window. This grandmother could never remove them promptly. After all, these impermanent marks were part of a wonderful visit!

A knitted or crocheted scarf with a few irregular stitches could also be wabi sabi. It is a unique quality that could not be repeated, evidence that it was made by hand with love and intent.

Wabi Sabi Moment

One of the most perfectly imperfect wabi sabi moments I’ve ever encountered was during our son’s sixth grade band concert. A large audience was gathered in our high school gym. Following the whole group band numbers, some of the students shared their solos.

An ideal atmosphere for a solo is a very quiet room. This was anything but that.

Shortly after our son began his saxophone solo, a woman in the audience lost consciousness. He continued making music. Someone called emergency services. His song went on. Soon the loud town siren screamed outside. His melodies lingered. Eventually, a flood of paramedics checked the vital signs of the woman who had regained consciousness. His soothing sax persisted. The woman was carried out on a cot. His harmonies eventually reached the finale. We followed with applause. Our son had an apparent acceptance of the imperfection of this moment in time, however, he rose above it. His uncanny focus seemed to provide a calming effect to the entire scenario. It was the only solo I’ve heard performed with chaos as an accompaniment. It was certainly a one of a kind wabi sabi moment!

Healthy Resources!

This article compares perfectionism to healthy striving. Of course, wabi sabi would be the latter! https://cmhc.utexas.edu/perfectionism.html

Here the BBC details the perils of various psychological disorders brought on by perfectionism. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20180219-toxic-perfectionism-is-on-the-rise

May you cling to that which is imperfect – it is your healthiest option!

CREATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING

Do you have a problem? Any kind of a problem? I thought so! Is it difficult to get what you want? Thinking like an artist may be a solution to enabling you to do creative problem solving.

Problem Solving with Visual Art

Your problem solution could be found while you are working (or playing) with art. Imagine you are solving your issue as you set up a drawing. Make a viewfinder by cutting a small square from the middle of a piece of paper. This serves to narrow your focus. Move your horizon line higher or lower by gazing through your viewfinder. Consider a bird’s eye view. What about a worm’s eye view? Look at the issue from different angles. Try adjusting vanishing points where all your lines of perspective converge. One could even propose that whatever your problem may be could diminish into nothingness, as if disappearing into a vanishing point! As you may be a visual learner, this could help you to see another perspective.

If you are visually inclined, it could help to actually write, “I am satisfied with my solution.” In this case, time is irrelevant. Even if you have not yet experienced the answer to your problem, it serves to announce to your brain that it is receiving an assignment. Your subconscious brain will find a solution when you least expect it. You may even find the answer to your dilemma while dreaming or playing!

John Cleese confirms this with his wisdom, “Creativity is not the possession of some special talent. It’s about the willingness to play.

If you haven’t yet found your answer, let’s turn on your imagination a bit more. M.C. Escher, the expert draftsman of fanciful, impossible to build structures is a case in point. His work was admired by fellow artists as well as mathematicians. In Relativity https://moa.byu.edu/m-c-eschers-relativity/, he created an elaborately detailed interior scene in which it is difficult to determine which way is up! This illustration, Belvedere https://www.illusionsindex.org/i/belevedere, has a building which would confound any architect as it would be impossible to replicate in three dimensions. M.C. always expands my ideas for what is possible! Here is a research article showing brain scans of people who benefited not only from making art, but also by viewing it. https://www.mic.com/articles/106504/science-shows-that-art-is-having-fantastic-effects-on-our-brains-and-bodies

Music Problem Solving

Imagine pondering your problem as if you were a music composer. Find your musical instrument or voice and begin playing with random notes. What musical mood seems to appear? Experiment with various tempos. How will dynamics play into the piece? Not only does playing music help your brain, but listening to it does as well. This article explores the results of music, visual arts, movement based creative expression and expressive writing on the brain. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2804629/ .

You may be an auditory learner, so hearing could be your way of moving through a problem. Saying out loud, “I am satisfied with my solution, ” could help you. Remember, even though this is in present tense, time is not important. This is merely a device to announce an assignment to your brain.

Not only can music assist us with creative problem solving, but it can also have a profound effect on our moods by enhancing the atmosphere. Be sure to Treat Yourself to Ambience!

Arts Satisfaction

The arts provide different angles to problem solving, providing creative ways to think of solutions to everyday problems. Initially you may think there is no connection, but then a spark of an idea may occur while you are creating art which can inspire answers. The arts fire different parts of the brain compared to non-imaginative thinking. Part of it is the relaxation response that is induced. Just plain having fun and dabbling with the arts can help you in any kind of problem solving.

Perhaps Creativity 101 with 528 Hertz can turn on your creative problem solving!

Your satisfaction in problem solving and acceptance of an answer could be as simple as our son’s re-framing of a common problem for all of us. His bit of advice in a Christmas letter years ago stated, “If you had a smaller glass, it would be full.”

Here is a good old song to help your brain! Perhaps you may not “get what you want, but if you try sometime, you just might find, you’ll get what you need”!

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