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 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.


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.


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. 


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 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!


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”!

Art, Grief and Life

Art and grief can have many parallels, each influenced by one’s own life. A randomly viewed photo of smoke innocently shaped this writing. Within the picture, some found an image of a horse, others a cat, while other people imagined many other things.

This is not at all like the https://www.illusionsindex.org/i/young-woman-or-old-woman illustration asking if you see the old or the young lady. I am speaking of something much more nuanced.

Art and Life

I was taken back to classroom art discussions, particularly of nonobjective art. Imagine showing a group of elementary students an image of one of Jackson Pollock’s famous nonrepresentational dribble and drip paintings https://www.jackson-pollock.org/autumn-rhythm.jsp. Asking a class, “What do you see?” is akin to turning on a faucet full force. One must crank the flow back to allow one drop, one comment at a time.

With an artwork such as this, a class of twenty children could easily generate twenty unique responses. Following that, many would be inspired by the insight of their peers to discover two or three more if time allowed. Good imaginative ideas always spawn new ones!

For me to tell a child, “No, you can’t possibly see that!” would be wrong and simply rude. Do you think I could predict how each student would connect and react to the art? Not at all. You see, all of this is dependent upon their individual life experiences.

Grief and Life

Now, let’s look at grief through the lens of my life. There is grief and then there is child loss grief. By the time any of us have lived a number of years, there will be an increasing number of loved ones to grieve. That’s life (and death). Like most people, I’ve lost generations above me as well as some from the same age grouping. I grieve them all. Then, we lost our son. For many bereaved parents, child loss grief is a beast by another name. For me, child loss grief has been tremendously more intense and prolonged. One helpful tip is to ERASE GRIEF Using Visual Art of the Masters. Studying art can help to process one’s emotions.

In my past experience of grieving anyone but our child, my response has tended to be shorter and calmer. Then I would eventually arrive to a time in which I could fondly reminisce the good times we had together. I lovingly think of them off and on as time passes.

Grief of Illness

For me, our son’s pancreatic cancer, of course, induced my grieving. Then for a while, things began to turn around. We were blessed with the hope of his treatments, with my learning energy healing, and with the birth of his daughter. It was nearly seven years from his diagnosis to his passing.

Child Loss Grief

Now, child loss grief aligns to one’s own life experiences, as well as to those of one’s child. I’ve had such a mixture of emotions with our son’s loss. It is so easy for me to dream, “Oh, what if he was still here?” However, that is nearly always coupled with my relief that he is no longer suffering. He left us with a granddaughter as well as a daughter-in-law. For that, I am grateful. Then, sometimes I have a lament, “That’s not fair, no one should ever lose the fruit of their womb.”

Our deep conversations, our belly laughs, our paddle boat rides on our pond are all something for which I still long. Watching him and his dad being barnyard mechanics is something I miss. I forever treasure the memories of our son and his sister mimicking movie vignettes. Then, I have the joy of receiving signs from beyond. Sometimes OUR VISITOR is a creature from nature. At other times we may receive MIRACLES AND DUETS: Visits from Beyond in our dreams. The tears, yes, the tears. My eyes don’t leak every day. However, there is never a day that he is not on my mind, too many times to count. As you can see, losing a child, a person out of the order of the “normal” time to leave our earthly body, can be more challenging.

Art, grief and life are connected

Just like the Pollock painting student analysis, no one else can guess what any of your grief experiences will be. One time, I had someone predict that I would be over my child loss grief in a year. An acquaintance of a grief group member told her she should be over her child’s loss in a mere four months! I do think people mean well but merely do not understand. Until anyone takes a ride on a bereaved parent’s torrent of tears, they truly do not know. Some people may get relief by alternative methods such as Tuning into Healing: Grief. This type of energy healing with a single frequency can be quite effective.

Grief is universal, our responses are not.

Our response is a reflection of our own life, as well as our relationship shared with the loved one. Grief mirrors back that time period, however short or long, to the survivor.

Art, grief and life are intimately connected. We are each as different as our own fingerprints. As grief is not made in a factory, grief for anyone does not fit into a mold. Your grieving time schedule and elements thereof are yours alone. Feel your grief or child loss grief. It is a normal and natural process we must experience to move through it. Please seek help if you feel you need help processing it. My heart is with you!

Transformation During Quarantine

I just found this letter our kalanchoe left us. It describes our houseplant’s remarkable transformation in discovering her inner beauty through the solitude of quarantine. Enjoy!

Dear Human,

Allow me to tell you the story of my near demise as well as my transformation to beauty. First of all, I am a succulent plant whose name is pronounced “kal-un-KOH-ee”. Madagascar is my native land. Early one summer, an illness caused my near fatality. My people referred to me as sickly. Yes, I suppose I had been dropping leaves and losing stems, but I couldn’t help it. Then came the unsightly white blotches.

“Well, Kally,” my caretakers gently informed me, “we really think we should move you out to the shed for a while. We can’t have you contaminating our other plants.”

Oh no, the dread shed. I’d never existed in solitude, away from a climate controlled people dwelling. Would the shed bring intolerable conditions to my droopy branches? How could I survive out there? With a strong sense of foreboding, I felt I’d never be the same.

Granted, I was a fraction of my former days. In my prime, my large pot burst with glorious blooms of yellow, orange and red. My people were awed with my elegance! But now? Well, I hadn’t produced a bud in who knows how long.

Well, I thought to myself, I may as well get used to a new location. After all, I have no feet growing from the base of my roots. My people certainly did not want their other plants to catch my white blotches.

Out out damn spot!

I was lonely in the quiet shed. This solitude made me feel deserted. Then, I began meeting them.

In my new location was a west facing window with plenty of afternoon sun. Sometimes the farm cat came up on the bench with me to sun himself. The sun beams were lovely in that space. Did you know that cats can make this funny sound when they’re happy? I rather like the company of Cat. In fact, he told me a secret. He revealed to me that I would never again be the same. Was this cause for concern? Was transformation truly possible?

Then, there were what My People call insects. These creatures would crawl all over me. My goodness, it tickled so much, it made me laugh!

One fortunate day, I met little Tree Frog. He could crawl and hop anywhere he liked. In fact, sometimes he would even stick to the wall! How amazing to have such stick-to-itiveness!

The nights were fascinating. Once in a while, the moon lit the dark skies. On occasion we would see these bright, joyful swooshes through the darkness. Cat named them Shooting Stars. Sometimes during the sleeping hours we would awaken to a loud chirping insect. Cat informed me it was Cricket and that she chirped simply because she couldn’t sleep. That feline loved pouncing upon crickets almost as much as he enjoyed batting my poor straggly stems!

One day, I heard a new sound, rather like a fast fluttering. The sound maker was darting to and fro so quickly, it was sometimes hard to spot. Smart old Cat announced that I’d just met Hummingbird. This flying master made a rather unique and contented sound.

I was getting to enjoy being closer to the rhythms of nature. My stems were strengthening and boasting shiny green growth.

Home again, transformation, tra-la-la!

By fall, My People reclaimed me to the house, but alas, I was still separated from the other plants. I had to be in the basement!

Okay, I do admit it. I truly was not perfect. My stems were getting a bit leggy. But, seriously, who does not love a long legged lady? At least I was in the finished part of the basement on a window ledge with a bit of indirect sun. Maybe I could grow to like it.

It was a ground level window. Once in a while rabbits would hop up to peek at me! Deer and turkeys sometimes idled by. Even though I couldn’t hear the critters talk to me, this interesting visual interaction was better than upstairs.

One and a half years after residing in the shed, my pot was filling with large, beefy stems. Then, My People noticed my new buds! They were ecstatic! Maybe it was best that I had tried to find a way to cope with my circumstances.

I initially felt quite neglected when I was quarantined from the house to the shed, but I’m here to tell you that my own intuition, as well as Cat’s, was right. I was never the same after that.

The new me!

Even though you may find this hard to believe, here is what happened during my transformation. I noticed that when something tickled me like the insects, I learned to laugh. I received the ability to purr like Cat when I was happy. When chilly, I moved into the warmth like Cat, but just not as quickly. In a contented state, I hummed like Hummingbird. When I wanted to grow healthy, I stuck to my purpose like Tree Frog sticks to the wall. If I couldn’t sleep, I would chirp like Cricket. When I was exploding with energy, I joyfully glowed like Shooting Star.

Now granted, you may not be able to quite see or hear all these fabulous traits I learned and developed during my solitude in quarantine. That’s okay, My People can’t either. You see, my new abilities are beyond the range of the sight and hearing of most humans. You may choose to “be-leaf” it or not.

However, My People, and now you, can see the evidence of this wondrous transformation via the energy shooting up my stems. My People call them flowers.

Your plant friend,

Kally Kalanchoe

Word Consciousness

My word, words are powerful! Our daily lives are bombarded with words: internet, books, newspapers, billboards, food packaging, television. Authors study the selection of just the right words to draw readers to a title. Advertisers choose the latest buzzwords to attract customers to their product. Internet gurus have fine honed which specific words are guaranteed to pull an audience to their site. Practicing word consciousness is a wise choice.

This story about words has to do with my seemingly ordinary trip to the grocery store. You ask how could that be? Well, I’ll tell you. I have this sing-along-to-the-radio habit, especially when driving solo. Our car has a handy little steering wheel button for eyes-on-the-road changing of stations. I just keep flipping through until I find a good one. I’m certain I sang a number of different songs on this short trip, but one was notable. It was “I Hope You Dance”. Why don’t you listen to the lyrics so you can guess why this was significant that day?


It wasn’t seeing “mountains in the distance” as we live in the Midwest. No, it didn’t make me “dance” while in the grocery aisles or while carrying sacks into our home.

The word consciousness was this

When I unloaded groceries from the car, I looped as many bag handles over my arms as was comfortable. I took the sidewalk up to our back door to unlock it. This gave me access to our entry. Then there is another door between the entry and the kitchen. That door is a simple, solid wood interior door with no lock. However, that day, it would not budge! No matter how I twisted the knob, that door would not let me into the kitchen. I had to go down a set of stairs, through another door and up another flight of steps before I could unload my purchases in the kitchen. Then, I retraced this route once or twice more.

Suddenly, the words to that song hit me, “Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens”! Do I think if I hadn’t sung the song, the door still would have malfunctioned? Probably. However, the synchronistic timing of an old door lock giving up and me singing these lyrics does border on the mysterious.

I’ve had numerous times when I’ve seen the power of words is much more than most realize. For that reason, if there are any song lyrics that are lacking in positivity, I make one of two choices. I either change the station or make up new words if the tune speaks to me.

My philosophy also applies to ordinary writing and speaking. It is usually behind my thoughts on striving for optimism and inspiration. Perhaps our words could affect our lives. I do know a positive slant can certainly increase synchronicity. It is sort of like a wink from the Universe! Using word consciousness appears to be wise. It, at the very least, is a calming practice.

As you journey through life, “I hope you dance.” Whether it is opportunities or literal doors, “whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens” for you!


Our country has suffered a severe setback in civility. As a result, it created a social, cultural, and political divide. It feels as if a breach has occurred, equaling the distance from the Atlantic to the Pacific. In a similar vein, it seems as if Lady Liberty’s torch dimmed and the crack within the Liberty Bell lengthened. Because of this, it feels necessary that we rebuild our former civil society. Where did we go astray? As a visual arts teacher, I would propose that the shrinking arts offerings are partially to blame. The arts could be a model for reclaiming mutual respect and rebuilding a civil society.

I’ve noticed a distinct decline in arts classes at preschool through college levels. Much of this has been in the past one to two decades. Testing mania as well as economic factors are some of the reasons. However, my purpose is not to delve into these factors. Instead, I’d like to focus upon possible solutions the arts could provide.

How can we effectively stem and bridge this growing divide within our country’s populace? Let’s consider research findings. The focus was upon arts infused schools. I’d like to concentrate upon three positive qualities of note. One was an increase of creative problem solving abilities. A second was improving critical thinking skills. The third one was a decrease in disciplinary violations. The arts obviously empowered these students and enhanced the school atmosphere. These changes would certainly be crucial in a building a civil society. https://www.onlinecolleges.net/10-salient-studies-on-the-arts-in-education/ A peaceable and creative society is upgraded by the arts. Perhaps a hearty embrace of the arts could offer a much needed oasis of help for our country as well.

Here I’ve included three examples. Each demonstrates the transformational power of the arts.

Arts – Music and Dance – Cooperation

The first is a flash mob performing a selection from the Sound of Music. They are located in Antwerp, Belgium in Central Station. Notice the spectators spontaneously clapping. I am struck by how contagious their smiles become! The jolt of joy of this perhaps unexpected performance is palpable! Dance demonstrates that it is possible for groups to work together without stepping on others’ toes!


Arts – Listen to the Lyrics – Joining

My second example is Pink Floyd’s song, “Us and Them”. This piece has always acknowledged an inclusion of the other. Because of joining us to them with “and”, it embraces unity. We would do well in today’s world to move beyond divisive “us OR them” feelings. Holding the feeling of “us AND them” in our hearts is healthier. Additionally, the lyrics infer the futility of battle. However, music shows us it is okay if we don’t all sing the same note. When each group sings their own notes, it is possible for us and them to find harmony by working together!


Visual Arts – Unity Versus Separation

Lastly, here is a beautifully intriguing, twenty-six foot tall metal sculpture. It is located in the republic of Georgia. This monumental display so aptly depicts the uniqueness of each person. Amazingly, it also allows a merging of the two. This is exactly how I perceive the operation of a healthy democracy in action via the arts. We should be able to maintain individuality (without harming the liberties of others). In addition, we should be willing to engage as a congenial whole. Visual arts are quite adept at demonstrating complex concepts such as this.

In conclusion, the arts are one of the most effective ways to achieve group cooperation and cohesiveness while still maintaining the spirit of the individual. It is my hope to create a series on the topic of rebuilding a civil society. With the arts, we can all benefit!

Creativity 101 with 528 Hertz

Many people may think that creativity must involve the arts. It certainly does come to play in visual arts, music, dance, theater and literature. Creativity, however, is much broader.

Remember, there are culinary arts, healing arts, and industrial arts. Have you considered science, mathematics and economics?

Do you have a problem to solve?

For instance, maybe you have some intriguing items you want to use in a different way. Next, can you rearrange, reconfigure or redefine these objects? Perhaps you have a shortage of certain supplies, parts or ingredients. Maybe you have a scarcity of cash. How can you stretch it or use it differently? Perhaps you have plenty of virtually any type of resource. How can you use it for the most good? Who could you help?

Creativity can be doing virtually anything in a new and different way.

Call up your imagination and dream a solution. Would you like some help?

The solution

Lastly, I invite you to check out this You Tube video with 528 Hertz. This particular clip is particularly good at activating one’s creative nature. As an added bonus, this one is also said to be the frequency of the heart which affects love, miracles and DNA repair! As with any complementary or alternative healing practice, it is recommended that one consult a medical professional to assure it is a safe practice for you. Additionally, no medical claims are made. This is a meditative experience in which a seated or reclining position is recommended. If you would feel light headed following the session, rest in place until it passes.

If you enjoyed this frequency, here is another popular post. KNOCK DOWN PAIN – 174 HZ

Remember Nikola Tesla, If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.

Be creative!

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