LAST DAY for #SMASHWORDS 10th Annual “Read An #Ebook Week”! Last Day! Many #sales and #discounts, some #free, through March 9, 2019! #ebookweek19

#SMASHWORDS is having its 10th Annual “Read An #Ebook Week” Last Day! 
March 3 – 9, 2019
Many #sales and #discounts, some #free, #ebookweek19
Get any ebook format you want on Smashwords!

2019 2. bench- Read an Ebook Week

The Story Behind “Read an Ebook Week” (RAEW): Read an Ebook Week was created by Canadian Smashwords author, Rita Toews. If you’re interested to learn the story behind her creation of Read an Ebook Week, read the 2010 interview with Rita over at The Huffington Post . Please note that the prior web address mentioned in the interview, www. ebookweek.com, is now controlled by a squatter and is not associated with this promotion, so please don’t link to or promote the old address.

The Smashwords’ RAEW page is: http://smashwords.com/ebookweek  or
https://www.smashwords.com/books/category/1/newest/1

The official Read an Ebook Week Facebook page, operated by Rita, is at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Read-an-E-Book-Week/193882590629749
Show your support for RAEW by “Liking” it on Facebook and sharing it.

2019 3. GetInto - Read an Ebook Week

All three published Volumes of the sci-fi/romance/multiverse/utopian/paranormal (psi) ebooks in The Spanners Series for adults/NA/YA are participating in this great sale! And, if you prefer or want also to have paperbacks, scroll to the end for the Amazon links to utilize Kindle Matchbook discounts to purchase those!

Volume I, This Changes Everything, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D.
Dr. Clara Ackerman Branon, 58, begins having secret visits from holographic representations of  beings from the Many Worlds Collective, a consortium of planet and star systems in the multiverse. When Earth is invited to join the consortium, the secret visits are made public. Now Earthers must adjust their beliefs and ideas about life, religion, culture, identity and everything they think and are. Clara is selected to be the liaison between Earth and the Many Worlds Collective and she chooses Esperanza Enlaces to be the Media Contact. They team up to provide information to stave off riots and uncertainty. The Many Worlds Collective holos train Clara and the Psi-Warriors for the Psi Wars with the rebelling Psi-Defiers, communicate effectively with many species on Earth and off-planet, eliminate ordinary, elected governments and political boundaries, convene a new group of Global Leaders, and deal with family’s and friends’ reactions.
In what multiple timelines of the ever-expanding multiverse do Clara and her long-time love, Epifanio Dang, get to be together and which leave Clara alone and lonely as the leader of Earth? This Changes Everything begins the 30-year story of Clara’s term as Earth’s first Chief Communicator, continuing in nine more Volumes of The Spanners Series. Are you ready for the changes?

TSS v1

Vol I is PERMA-FREE!
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/376197

Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D.
COUPON CODE for 25% off: WU58X

Intrigued by multiple timelines, aliens, psi skills, romance and planetary change? Clara and the alien “Band” are back in Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, The Spanners Series. Now as Chief Communicator, Clara leads the way for interspecies communication on- and off-planet. Fighting these changes are the Psi-Defiers, led by one of the oldest friends of the Chief of the Psi-Warriors, its reluctant leader, Rabbi Moran Ackerman. Stories from younger Spanners about the first five years of The Transition fill Volume II. How would you do with the changes?

TSS v2

Usually $3.99; “Read an Ebook Week” Promotional price: $2.99
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/424969
Enter the code prior to completing checkout.
COUPON CODE for Vol II, 25% off: WU58X

Volume III, This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change, The Spanners Series, by Sally Ember, Ed.D.
COUPON CODE for 50% off: VR39T

Clara, Moran, Espe, Epifanio and the alien Band of holos are back in This Is /Is Not The Way I Want Things to Change of The Spanners Series. Psi-Defiers launch increasingly violent protests during this five-year Transition, attempting to block Earth’s membership into the Many Worlds Collective. To join, Earth’s nations and borders must dissolve and Psi-Warriors must strengthen in their battle against the rebels.
Clara, continuing as Earth’s first Chief Communicator, also juggles family conflicts and danger while creating psi skills training Campuses to help Earth through the Psi-Wars. Clara timults alternate versions of their futures as the leaders’ duties and consciences force them each to make difficult choices across multiple timelines while continuing to train and fight.
Will the Psi-Warriors’ and other leaders’ increasing psi skills, interspecies collaborations and budding alien alliances be enough for Earth to make it through The Transition intact? If there is no clear path for Clara’s and Epifanio’s love, does she partner with Steve or go it alone?
What do you do with wanted/unwanted changes?

Spannersvolume3coverfinal

Usually $3.99; “Read an Ebook Week” Promotional price, Vol III: $2.00
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/588331
Enter the code prior to completing checkout.
COUPON CODE for 50% off: VR39T

Cover art and logo for The Spanners Series all by Aidana Willowraven: http://www.willowraven-illustration.blogspot.com/


2019 4 jeans - - Read an Ebook Week

BOOK TRAILERS for all three volumes, here:

Volume I, This Changes Everything
https://youtu.be/QJDEt1O8yQ8?list=PLPbfKicwk4dE_bsvzZO7X8-IIqqLY15uS
or
https://goo.gl/8OLVSr
AND
https://youtu.be/X_8ZFVY9BMg?list=PLPbfKicwk4dE_bsvzZO7X8-IIqqLY15uS
or
https://goo.gl/MvYFH3
AND
https://youtu.be/WL9lPK8IhRk?list=PLPbfKicwk4dE_bsvzZO7X8-IIqqLY15uS
or
https://goo.gl/APrn9P

Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever
https://youtu.be/WenvYeasiik?list=PLPbfKicwk4dE_bsvzZO7X8-IIqqLY15uS
or
https://goo.gl/ERqLHY

Volume III, This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change
https://youtu.be/uINdFH0XS18?list=PLPbfKicwk4dE_bsvzZO7X8-IIqqLY15uS
or
https://goo.gl/q9NGsg
AND

Find ALL books participating in the Smashwords’ Read An Ebook Week sale and stock up on your favorite genres, authors and titles OR scout out some new talent! https://www.smashwords.com/books/category/1/newest/1


3 paperbacks

PAPERBACK LOVERS:
Kindle MatchBook includes all three Volumes of The Spanners Series!
Buy any ebook format and get a discount
on the paperback of the same Volume (or vice-versa).

Amazon’s paperbacks’ links:
Vol I: http://www.amzn.com/B00HFELTG8
Vol II: http://www.amzn.com/B00KU5Q7KC
Vol III: http://www.amzn.com/B0177Z1KRM

Amazon’s ebooks’ pages:
Vol I: http://www.amzn.com/B00HFELTG8
Vol II: http://www.amzn.com/B00KU5Q7KC
Vol III: http://www.amzn.com/B0177Z1KRM


All published by Timult Books

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Grateful for Musicians, Singers, Musical Leaders who “keep on keeping on” in “The Movement(s)”

Grateful for Musicians/Singers/Leaders
who “keep on keeping on” in “The Movement(s)”


from http://www.lovethispic.com/image/150339/keep-on-keeping-on

I spent a wonderful (but kind of sad; see below) evening last week (Friday, May 4), at Emerson Unitarian Universalist Chapel in St. Charles, Missouri, USA, listening to the fabulous Roy Zimmerman sing, talk, and cleverly satirize many social, political, cultural and legal developments and issues from the last several decades.


Roy Zimmerman, ReZist show, performing in St. Charles, MO, 5/4/18

Roy Zimmerman is the most recent addition to my life’s intentional collection of dozens of extremely talented and special musicians, writers, filmmakers, poets, playwrights, other artists and performers and, of course, political/social leaders who continue to inspire, encourage and demonstrate commitment to whatever movements they believe most in. These often outspoken heroes and heroines also collaborate with and support others day after day, week after week, year after year, decades on decades.

Is there a category—a title—for such a role in our culture? I wish I knew what it is or could invent one. IDEAS HERE, please: http://www.sallyember.com/blog

I wanted to take a moment, here, to name the ones I can remember best who have personally inspired, entertained, encouraged and led me, and without whom I would certainly have given up feeling optimistic and collectively working for positive change a long time ago.

“Big Mike” Lainoff

—My first and most treasured inspiration is the recently-deceased and much-missed former director of the four JCCA (Jewish Community Center Association [of St. Louis]) summer camps I attended as a child and teen: Camp Council (a day camp), and residential Lake of the Ozark area camps, Camp Hawthorn, Red Bud Camp and their successor, Camp Sabra, Harold “Big Mike” Lainoff (I wrote about him prior to this). In addition to being a recreation manager/leader, Big Mike was a gifted guitar player/singer/songleader and storyteller who could captivate, involve and educate a mess hall or a campfire of over a hundred rowdy kids, teens and staff for long periods of time despite pouring rain, high humidity, blazing heat and roaring wind. Amazing.


“Big Mike” Lainoff, circa 1965, Camp Hawthorn, Kaiser, MO (Lake of the Ozarks)

When I first heard Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie‘s songs and stories, I thought they had stolen them from Big Mike (I was 7 when I met Big Mike…). Later, I realized it was the other way around. But, who cares? Big Mike brought Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Arlo Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Peter, Paul & Mary, Phil Ochs, John Lennon, Tom Paxton, Donovan, Jackson Browne, Tom Lehrer, Judy Collins, Odetta, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Joni Mitchell and many more USA civil rights’ and social activists’ songwriters’ lyrics and melodies directly to us—mostly Jewish kids, from the suburbs of St. Louis, in the 1960s—while we learned to swim, make campfires, pitch tents, hike, canoe, sail, waterski and so much more.

I grew to love these songs whose lyrics explained class differences, racial injustices, yearnings for peace and equality, deep and abiding love for each other and for a special person, recognitions of mistakes and ways to rectify them, inchoate longings for a better world and to be a better person. I learned the words and melodies and sang them to myself all year long, for decades. I still remember most of them: “Banks of Marble,” “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Respect,” “The Song is Love,” “Both Sides Now,” “Fountain of Sorrow,” “Changes,” “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” “Reel, Oh Reel,” “Oleanna,” “Ain’t Gonna Study War No More,” “Summertime,” “Leavin’ on a Jet Plane,” “If I Had a Hammer,” “We Shall Overcome,” “There But For Fortune,” “The Draft Dodger’s Rag,” “Imagine,” “One Tin Soldier,” “The Sounds of Silence,” “This Land Is Your Land,” “Universal Soldier,” “Big Yellow Taxi,” “Black and White,” “What Have They Done to the Rain?” “Oh, Freedom,” “Hair,” “The Power and the Glory,” “I Ain’t Marchin’ Any More,” “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy,” “Outside Of A Small Circle Of Friends,” “The Circle Game,” “Fixin’ to Die Rag,” “Turn! Turn! Turn!” “We Shall Not Be Moved,” “Four Strong Winds,” “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” “I Can’t Help But Wonder (Where I’m Bound),” “The Last Thing on My Mind,” “Ramblin’ Boy,” “Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream,” “Eve of Destruction,” “How Can I Keep From Singing?” “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” I can’t ever list them all.

Big Mike helped create and then raised my social consciousness, informing without indoctrination so that we became subliminally aware of social/political music and key movements: 1963 was the height of the Civil Rights Movement in the USA, and the middle- to late 1960s were the Vietnam War’s protests’ heydays.

I hadn’t yet heard of the Freedom Riders (which was going on every summer I was first at camp!), I was too young to march in anti-war protests (14 in 1968) even if I had known about them. I was old enough to understand “Jim Crow” segregation and discrimination laws in St. Louis, Missouri, and HATED them. Big Mike and other camp songleaders chose songs whose lyrics’ sentiments felt right to me. I needed to sing, to protest, to be wishing and working for everyone’s equality and freedom. I was excited that more people felt that way I did than I had ever known existed.

At the above-mentioned camps, joining and adding to Big Mike‘s contributions, were several talented musical counselors and staff: special shout-outs to the Kean brothers, Ron and the late Mike (“Nix”); the cook, Maxine; “Fitz“; “Howdy” (Howard Schwartz) and “Twinkle” (Laura Resnick), for international and Israeli folk dancing fun; and, so many more, for adding to the songs and artistic experiences.

Big Mike‘s stories and songs my nascent ideas about social justice, fairness, anti-racism, anti-war, collaborating for peace and practicing nonviolence were developed and nurtured first. Blessings on Big Mike and his inspirations as well as his heirs and successors, forever.

Some places and people are pivotal in our lives, right? These people formed the foundations for mine, preparinhg me for the ones who came later.


Further creating a foundation and launching me into adulthood was a group of people I met in several places in the late 1970s in New England. Many of these key people lived at/founded or attended events at Boston’s mid-1970s spin off of Project Place, the Another Place Conference Center in Greenville, New Hampshire, and its spin-off, Spring Hill, Massachusetts, were then and later became great leaders of artistic social and political movements, personal growth and community-building for me and many others. Here are the “stars,” below.

Robert Gass

—It was through Another Place that I got to go to Spring Hill and meet Robert Gass and The Wings of Song band. Briefly, I performed with and sang in the band’s chorus (I am listed as “Sallie Fleishmann [neither name spelled correctly] on their first album, Many Blessings, pressed in 1980). Singing with this chorus was my first experience of spiritual uplifting through song. It had happened without my understanding it through some camp songs; Robbie‘s songs were intentionally written and selected to raise up the singers and the listeners, the audience and the dancers. We were inspired, connecting, infused with desires to serve and to love.

Robbie and his wife, Judith Ansara (Epstein) and a few others, created the formats for the popular personal growth Opening the Heart workshops (which I attended with my then-partner in 1979) which morphed into their current work, Sacred Union. Robert (as he became known, later) still sings, makes albums and leads people to inner and outer growth (now living in Colorado). Judith is also a dancer and a poet.


Robert Gass, circa 1989

I still hum and sing some of Wings of Song‘s tunes/songs to myself, but I can’t find my favorite anywhere online or for sale. Sad.

“Not My Will, but Thine” is the first line of the chorus, but I don’t know what title the song actually has. Perhaps “Teach Me to Love,” or “Kindle my Heart’s Flame” (all in the lyrics)?

If you know where to find a recording of this song, please email me at sallyember AT yahoo DOT com

Medicine Story

—I also met Medicine Story (Manitonquat, Francis Story Talbot) at Another Place in 1978. He is an author and storyteller as well as Native American activist who also lived at Another Place. Story, with his then-wife, Emmy (Emilia) “Rainwalker” Ianniello and their first son, formed the nucleus of the second of my many communal households in New England. Story and Emmy introduced me and dozens of others to Native American sweat lodges (building, experiencing ceremonies in, learning about) and to living in wiki-ups (outdoor structures more sturdy than tents), as well as to praying and connecting with the earth and animals and many other sacred rituals, origin songs and songs/chants.

Add these sweat lodge experiences to my Finnish saunas in Rhode Island (1977-78) and the Dutch-esque saunas at Stepping Stone Farm in the 1980s. When I went camping with some friends in the 1980s and 1990s (before hypertension took me out of the game) who were offering sweat lodges, they wondered how a Jewish girl from St. Louis knew so much about how to build them, use them, be in them? Why was I so comfortable with nudity in high heat and various ceremonial rituals that involved sweating and chanting? I mentally thanked Emmy and Medicine Story.

We would go into the sweat lodge to settle conflicts, build teams, get inspiration, celebrate a birth or birthday, prepare for a marriage, strengthen commitments, purify, cleanse, dream, remember, honor, be grateful, grieve, pray, sing and chant. Some participants used mind-altering substances in small amounts before or during; I did not. Many would fast beforehand; it’s recommended not to go into a sweat lodge on a full stomach.

This photo, below, is of a sweat lodge that looks a lot like the ones we built.


image from and FMI: https://adventure.howstuffworks.com/sweat-lodge.htm

If you’ve never built, prepared and then been in a sweat lodge, it’s probably impossible to imagine how close relative strangers can get and the kind of bonding that occurs during such experiences: unmatched.

Story and his second wife, Ellika Lindén, a playwright, actor, director, and collaborator, created Circle Way and currently travel around the globe to raise awareness of earth-related preservation and community-building.


Medicine Story and Ellika Linden

Bill Whyte and Katie Schwerin

—Several other songleaders, ritual organizers and community activists lived at and were my friends from that era, including those who shared our first New Hampshire collective household with Story, Emmy and their first son. Katie Schwerin and Bill Whyte and Katie’s daughter joined our group to live in Sharon, NH, in 1978-79.

In addition to learning many songs and chants from each of them, I also credit them with showing me how to live collectively, since we shared a household for two more years after that in several SW NH locations. We were pregnant at the same time and had our two home births (Katie‘s second; Bill‘s first and my only) in one of those homes in 1979-80 in Stoddard, NH. Katie and Emmy, with Cindy Dunleavy, all lay midwives, then (Cindy still delivers babies), attended the homebirth of our son.

Katie, along with director an co-creator, Pamela Faith Lerman (also someone I met in 1978 at Another Place), with about eight other women and I were in a show in Peterborough, NH, in 1980 that included poetry, songs and dramatic scenes from many feminist artists and sources, a fundraiser for a women’s health center we were trying to start for the Monadnock region.

Katie and Bill also founded and, with two of their adult daughters, operate the family-friendly Badger Balm, a “B” (Benefit” Corporation, that “makes certified organic and all-natural body & skin care products including healing balms, natural sunscreens, skin moisturizers, muscle rubs, aromatherapy and other personal care products,” Bill Whyte and Katie Schwerin, who run the business with their award-winning two daughters, Emily Schwerin-Whyte and Rebecca Hamilton.


Badger Balm‘s 2016 founders, family and staff

Katie and Bill taught me a lot about organic food (gardening and cooking), herbal and natural healing, nutrition, raising children respectfully and living collectively, starting me on a life-long path in those areas, beginning in 1978. Bill also introduced me to creative visualization and “green” building via his company, Whyte Light Builders.

Additionally, Katie brought Waldorf education (Rudolf Steiner’s schools) and the Unitarian Universalist (UU) community into our family’s life. Because of her influence and connections, I was hired to accompany the Eurythmy movement program classes for one year, in 1987, at the newly created Monadnock Waldorf School in Keene, NH, where we then lived. The following year, our son attended the Monadnock Waldorf School from 3rd – 8th grades (1988-1994). I took over the Director of Religious Education (DRE) position at the Keene UU Church in 1988 from her when Katie left on maternity leave and then to go back to school for her master’s in Waldorf education, where I stayed until 1990, when I decided to return school to get my master’s and doctorate in education myself.

FUN FACTS:
1) The Monadnock Waldorf School‘s Eurythmy teacher then is the mother of ER and The Good Wife star, actor, Julianna Margulies;
2) Before he became my Buddhist teacher, Wyn Fischel (Lama Drimed)’s first wife, Susan, was a Eurythmy teacher;
3) Before I met him, Wyn taught woodworking at the other nearest Waldorf school, Pine Hill, in Wilton, NH.
4) For several dramatic productions, both I and my then-partner, Christopher Briggs Ember, helped with music, blocking, directing, make-up and other aspects of the plays for Monadnock Waldorf School.

It is not an exaggeration to say that my entire adult life would have been different (and much smaller and less satisfying) had I not had the great good fortune to become involved with the Schwerin-Whyte family. I am so grateful to know them. We all had so much hope, optimism, energy, faith…

Mario Cossa

Katie is also a performer whose interest in drama brought me to my long-time collaboration with Mario Cossa, playwright, actor, performer, dancer, singer, lyricist, songwriter, director, choreographer, and nonprofit manager who became a counselor and then psychodramatist.

Mario Cossa is yet another person I met at Another Place in 1978 whose contact with me altered my life’s trajectory profoundly and for the better.

Because of and often with Mario, I was able to earn money through part-time and full-time work in areas I loved and have many amazing experiences, including:

  • working in several youth-serving nonprofits;
  • co-writing and -directing, performing in, narrating/facilitating audience-interactive performances for and touring with several plays and dozens of improvisational scenes (the play I wrote, Crystal Dreams, won a prize that featured a performance of it at a professional public theatre, the Portsmouth Theatre-By-The-Sea, in 1984);


    Cast of Crystal Dreams, 1984

  • learning to tap dance;
  • learning some A.S.L. (American Sign Language) and using it in a few plays;
  • learning to and performing as a clown;
  • becoming involved in Co-Counseling International (CCI);
  • meeting Caroline Myss, who became a close friend of mine for many years;
  • practicing and learning more about conflict resolution and mediation;
  • improving my storytelling and writing;
  • expanding my repertoire for improvisational acting;
  • learning about and leading prevention/mitigation and education groups on topics ranging from substance/alcohol abuse/use, pregnancy postponement, HIV/AIDs, suicide, teen homelessness/running away, Tourette’s Syndrome, learning and behavioral disorders to family systems conflicts;
  • co-leading groups for kids, youth & adults/families that utilized expressive arts;
  • participating in collaborations with other organizations and individuals;
  • becoming more familiar with and meeting/working with interns and faculty at Antioch/New England Graduate School who were part of the Dance Movement Therapy profession (which my daughter-in-law graduated from in 2016, over twenty-five years after my first exposure to it);
  • taking groups of students to see live musical theatre productions in Boston and New York City for several years (we saw Rent, Big, Miss Saigon, and a murder mystery audience-interactive play whose name I can’t remember);
  • conducting ethnographic research on gender and sexual orientation social identities that became the basis of my dissertation for my doctorate degree;
  • co-writing, editing and figuring out how to get our nonfiction book about improvisational scenework for educational groups published, in 1996 (my first traditional publishing credit): Acting Out: The Workbook–A Guide To The Development and Presentation of Issue-Oriented, Audience-Interactive, Improvisational Theatre
  • editing and assisting with other pieces and books Mario wrote which also were published in the 1990s and 2000s;


    Acting Out book cover

  • learning to write grants (to solicit funding from individual donations and family foundations for as low as $50 to multi-million/multi-agency federal proposals);
  • developing/designing and implementing program evaluations;
  • preparing and managing budgets; and,
  • working in outreach/marketing for nonprofits (something I did for many years for several other nonprofits).

Mario founded and runs Motivational Arts Unlimited, based in Bali, Indonesia, and travels around the globe doing psychodrama and sociodrama trainings, educational programs and certifications.


Mario Cossa, circa 2008

More in each about the impact, feelings, uses, singing spiritually

Holly Near

Ellen Fleischmann, my singer/songwriter, conductor/pianist middle sister, introduced me to Holly Near in 1978. THANK YOU, again!

I had told my sister that I was bored and needed music because I worked as a packer for a wholesaler/warehouse that packaged and shipped herbs, spices and essential oils to specialty and health food shops all around the USA, Attar, in New Ipswich, New Hampshire. I spent 30 hours each week NOT using my college degree in elementary education, having been burned by several jobs and needing a break. All day, I hefted huge barrels, bags and bottles and wrestled their contents into smaller containers/bags, boxed, labeled and prepared the boxes for shipping. I was usually there alone since it was a “mom-and-pop” shop and they had a young child. So, very under-stimulated, I craved music. Ellen sent me tapes from her dorm room at Brown University to play on my boom box.

—Oh, Holly! What a revelation it was to hear Holly Near‘s amazing voice, lyrics and energy pouring into my otherwise silent space. She also sent me tapes of James Taylor, Carole King and a few others, but it was Holly I kept coming back to and memorizing. “It Could Have Been Me,” from A Live Album, 1974, inspired by the government-sanctioned murders of college students at Kent State University in Ohio during an anti-Vietnam War demonstration in 1970, made me cry, rage and want to continue to/return to ACT UP.

Her songs included sentiments about being bisexual and discovering her love for women for the first time in “Imagine my Surprise,” moved me because it spoke directly of my experiences. After my male partner and I had a child, her song “Started Out Fine,” made me laugh and cry. So many songs, so many inspirations, such great lyrics.

Holly‘s songs have supported and propelled movements, such as the “zipper” song (we can insert other lyrics in key places and keep singing): “We are a gentle, angry people, and we are singing, singing for our lives,” which became the AIDS’ activists’ anthem and the LGBT-rights’ marching song. I also memorized and sang, often:

We will have peace;
we will because we must;
we must because we cherish life, and believe or not, as daring as it may seem, it is not an empty dream, to walk in a powerful path;
either the first nor the last, on the Great Peace March:
Life is a great and mighty march.
Forever, for love and tor life, on the Great Peace March.

from “The Great Peace March,” by Holly Near

I listened to Holly for several more albums/years, but never got to see her live. UNTIL I found out that my good friend, the dearly missed Jaye Alper (her death anniversary/Yahrzeit was this past Tuesday, 5/8/18; gone 6 years; I miss her all the time), had a connection. Her mother, Jackie Alper, had been an original member of the singing group, The Weavers, which had included Ronnie Gilbert, Lee Hays, Fred Hellerman , and Pete Seeger (Jackie had left the group to stop touring when she became pregnant with Jaye and to help fight the HUAC (McCarthy-era “witch hunts”).


Jackie Alper, Ronnie Gilbert, Pete Seeger,
the remaining Weavers, reunited, circa 1998.

Jackie had stayed active in the social justice/women’s music scene, having her own radio show (“Mostly Folk” on WRPI) for decades, helping start and run the Old Songs Festival (see below) in the Albany area, and staying friends with “Aunt” Ronnie, as Jaye knew her.

In the 1990s, Jaye contacted Ronnie, since Ronnie was performing, making albums and touring with Holly, and they were coming to the Boston area (where Jaye then lived). Jaye brought me backstage to meet them. I stood, starstruck, as Jaye and Ronnie hugged and talked. Holly was standing in the doorway, smiling at me and eating spaghetti, which she offered (I declined).

Holly Near, 1970


Holly Near, 2017

Holly started Redwood Records in 1972, “to produce and promote music by ‘politically conscious artists from around the world.'” She has included so many political activists/musicians on her albums, tours, and concert stages over the decades, many of which I was lucky enough to attend.

I learned a lot more about or heard for the first time the musicians affiliated with dozens of worthy causes around the world, their songs and political/social movements in the USA and elsewhere, that I never would have, otherwise, through Holly and her musical colleagues, including:
—the late Pete Seeger,
Arlo Guthrie,
—the late Mercedes Sosa,
Bernice Johnson Reagon (of Sweet Honey in the Rock),
Bonnie Raitt,
Jackson Browne
Holly Near, Arlo Guthrie, Ronnie Gilbert and Pete Seeger performed as HARP to raise money for various causes,
Meg (Shambhavi) Christian,
Cris Williamson,
Linda Tillery,
Joan Baez,
—the late Phil Ochs,
Harry Belafonte,
Emma’s Revolution (which includes Pat Humphries), and
Inti-Illimani.

Beyond being a renowned and beloved singer songwriter, Holly is a former TV/film/Broadway star and ongoing political activist, still going strong at age 68. Holly Near has mentored dozens of others (see below) and continues to fill my life with inspiration and songs. THANK YOU!

In addition to introducing me directly to Holly Near, Jaye and Jackie Alper had invited me and my family to the Albany-area’s annual Old Songs Festival (officially, the Old Songs Festival of Traditional Music and Dance in Altamont, NY) where we got in free to help Jaye (as “Crystal,” the name she had gone by in the 1970s) sell iced tea and her famous baklava, chocolava and maplelava each June. The musicians there played music which has often been featured or discussed in Sing Out! magazine walked amongst and camped with us. We encountered, met, had lunches with and heard the late Utah Phillips, Sally Rogers, The Amidon Family, Arlo Guthrie, Pat Humphries, Cheryl Wheeler, John McCutcheon, Tom Chapin, and many more. Quite a scene, for a folk music lover like me!

Olivia Records

Beyond and including Holly Near, I met fans of “women’s music” through friends, lovers, colleagues and family members throughout the 1980s and 1990s, attending many concerts/performances and enjoying festivals outdoors when possible, which expanded my repertoire to include Margie Adam. “The Unicorn Song,” “We Shall Go Forth,” “We Are The Women We’ve Been Waiting For,” “Sweet Friend of Mine,’ and many excellent piano-accompanied songs became favorites I learned to sing and play on the piano (and lead in sing-alongs, sometimes).

After I moved to California in 2002, I went to many concerts and performances that featured Holly 9she lived about an hour from where I lived) and felt lucky to be able to see her perform and hear her speak so often. She was always on top of knowing what cause needed championing, available for fundraisers, awareness-raising shows and gatherings of all kinds. Holly always remembered me; in the smaller venues, she would smile and come over to say “hello” after her last encore. Before the spring of 2012 (when Jaye passed away), she had always asked about Jaye.

Both Jaye and Jackie had passed on before Pete Seeger (who left us in the winter of 2014), so I went to the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley to attend the tribute concert for Pete, which Ronnie, ill and using a cane, also performed in and which Holly was the emcee and main performer for; Holly and Ronnie had organized most of it. During intermission, Holly came over to me and we shared a few tears and a hug. What treasures these people are/were!

Cris Williamson, solo and with Meg Christian, Teresa Trull, Tret Fure, Barbara Higbie, Linda Tillery, Lucie Blue Tremblay, and many more great women musicians, brought me and my family the inspiring and beautiful, fun-to-sing songs from Cris‘ albums, The Changer and the Changed and the musical play, Lumiere, and other amazing songs, like “Waterfall,” “The Changer and The Changed,’ “The Rock Will Wear Away,” “Lullaby” (“Like a Ship in the Harbor”), and “Lean On Me (I Am Your Sister).”


Meg & Cris at Carnegie Hall, 1982, album cover

I learned so much about feminism, bisexuality, intersectionality, positive parenting, social activism, many types of love, community and collective efforts from these wonderful musicians.

—The talented brothers, the late Happy Traum and the late Artie Traum were some of the musicians I met when I worked at Camp Med-O-Lark in Washington, Maine, in the early 1980s, because of my enduring friendship with yet again a contact from Another Place from 1978, Zea Moore. In addition to getting me and my then-partner two wonderful summers with jobs at this camp (because her then-partner, Neal Goldberg, owned and directed it), Zea introduced me to Wiccan & Goddess Chants, Libana, and so much more of the newly emerging women’s spirituality music and rituals.

Civil Rights, Environmental/Social Activist Musicians & Storytellers

Thanks to these live music venues, without whom I would not have heard most of these singers live: The Folkway (Peterborough, NH), The Iron Horse (Northampton, MA), The Colonial Theatre and the Keene State College’s 1990s Coffeehouse (Keene, NH), The Common Ground (Brattleboro, VT), Temple Mountain Ski Area (Temple, NH, outdoor concerts in the not-snowy weather), Passim Coffeehouse (Cambridge, MA), Brighton Music Hall (Brighton, MA), The Freight & Salvage (Berkeley, CA), ACTING OUT’s 1990s coffeehouse series (Keene, NH), and many more.

PLUS, radio stations that play and support “Americana,” “Women’s Music,” “Folk Music,” and many other overlapping genres that play music to inspire and activate us all. Here are some: KPFA (“Across the Great Divide” and “American’s Back 40” are my favorites, there); KRCB (used to have many shows; now, not so many); other NPR affiliates, everywhere; KDHX; WRSI; college/university radio stations also often have shows/D.J.s that feature great music like this. Check our your local or online options.

SUPPORT LIVE MUSIC!
—If you haven’t heard Christine Lavin‘s story songs, parodies and other political music, please give her a listen!
Please also go find and listen to the songs of any of the amazing individual singer/songwriters/activitists who also sometimes play as the group that includes Lavin, 4 Bitchin’ Babes:


4 Bitchin’ Babes (Christine Lavin, Sally Fingerett, Megon McDonough, Julie Gold), 1993

Patty Larkin (“Not Bad for a Broad,” “Metal Drums”)
Megon McDonough (“Amazing Things,” “Wake Up And Dream”)
Sally Fingerett (“Home is Where the Heart Is,” “Here’s to the Women”)
Julie Gold (“From a Distance,” “America,” “The New World,” “Love is Love is Love,” “Goodnight, New York/Ellis Island”)
and others have comprised this fun, talented quartet.

Also, these musicians/singers/songwriters are great to find/remember:
Nanci Griffith (“Cold Hearts/Closed Minds,” “If These Old Walls Could Speak”),
Fred Small (who began his career as a lawyer and later became a Unitarian Universalist minister and climate change activist/leader; “Peace Is,” “Only Love,” “No More Vietnams,” “The Peace Dragon”),
Judy Small (unrelated to Fred, and a judge of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia who was previously an Australian entertainer, folk singer, songwriter, and guitarist. Known for her feminist, often patriotic, and political songs, usually following a traditional theme, she produced twelve albums) (“You Don’t Speak for Me,” “How Many Times?” “Montreal, December ’89 (What is it about men?”),
—the late Rosalie Sorrels (“I am a Union Woman,” “Always a Lady,” “The Baby Rocking Medley”),
—the late Stan Rogers (“The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” “The Mary Ellen Carter”),
RosenShontz, Bill Shontz and the late Gary Rosen (“Hugga Hugga,” “Share It!”)
Betsy Rose (“I Can’t Imagine Life Without … (Popcorn),” “For the Mothers,” “Welcome to the Circle,” and who shares others’ songs, such as, “Return Again,” “Sending You the Light”),
—the late Malvina Reynolds (“Little Boxes,” “It Isn’t Nice,” “Turn Around,” “What Have They Done to the Rain?” “Magic Penny”),
—the late Peggy Seeger (half-sister to Pete, full sister to Mike) (“I Want to be an Engineer”),
—the late Dave van Ronk,”The Mayor of MacDougal Street,” who re-arranged and covered many “traditional” and others’ songs so well,
Gould and Stearns (Stephen Stearns and Peter Gould),
Ani DiFranco, founder/owner of Righteous Babe record label, a la Redwood Records and Oliva Records,
Ruth Pelham, founder of “The Music Mobile,” which “brought singalongs, simple musical instrument construction, merriment and a message of hope to generations of youths at inner-city parks” in the Albany area for 39 years (“Look to the People,” “The Turning of the World,” “Under One Sky”),
Bill Staines (“The Roseville Fair,” “A Place in the Choir,” “Child of Mine,” “River”),
David Mallett (“The Garden Song,” “Open Doors and Windows,” Parallel Lives”),
The Roches–Maggie, Terre, and Suzzy Roche (“Dear Mr. Sellack,” “Another World”),
Eric Bogle (“The Band Played ‘Waltzing Matilda,'” “No Man’s Land/The Green Fields of France”),
Cosy Sheridan (“Quietly Led,” “The Losing Game,” “Sharp Objects”)
Catie Curtis (“People Look Around,” “Truth from Lies”),
Dar Williams (“When I Was A Boy,” “The Christians and the Pagans”),
Lucy Kaplansky (“This Morning I am Born Again,” “Reunion”),
Susan Werner (“Sunday Morning,” “Help Somebody,” “Heaven So Small,” “Did Trouble Me”),
Cry Cry Cry, = Dar Williams, Lucy Kaplansky and Richard Shindell, with many others accompanying/doing back-up vocals (“Arrowhead,” “Ascent” — Shindell; “I Know What Kind of Love This Is,” “Fall on Me”—Cry Cry Cry),
Molly Scott—not the politician! (“Centering Home,” “We Are All One Planet”),
Si Kahn (“Gone, Gonna Rise Again,” “Aragon Mill”),
Sarah Pirtle (“Earth, My Body” and more, here: http://sarahpirtle.com/hope-sings/index.htm)
Susan Osborne, Paul Winter, David Darling and the rest of the Paul Winter Consort,


image of Paul Winter Consort band, circa 1978, from http://www.paulwinter.com/the-consort/

and many others previously mentioned in this post or which you find while wandering around YouTube and the internet listening to these. These singers/musicians share songs that are inspiring, moving, intelligent, funny, thought-provoking and insightful as well as musically very fine.

—There are many ministers, singers and song leaders I met through the Unitarian Universalist (UU/UUA) Association’s events and fellowships/churches, starting with Rev. Rick Paine (co-founder of Spring Hill and co-creator of the Opening the Heart workshops, with Robert Gass, Judith Epstein and others) and Rev. Sydney Amara Morris (co-founder of Another Place, with Bill Whyte and Mark Sarkady). Later, I met and sang with Nick Page (who doesn’t love to sing “More Love”?), and so many others. In 2011, the UUA published a great compilation of their music, 50 YEARS OF UU MUSIC, available here: https://www.uua.org/ga/past/2011/worship/185029.shtml , which features “Let It Be a Dance”). Also, check here: https://www.uua.org/worship/music and here: http://www.recessionals.org/ and here: https://www.uua.org/worship/music/hymnals

—Have to mention the great storyteller, singer, performer, Jay O’Callahan, since his stories and songs kept us happy on long car trips across the country in the 1980s, and we got to see him perform live in Boston during that time.

A Cappella Women’s and Other Choruses Respecting Socially Conscious Diversity

—I sang with and joined several choirs that are part of the Threshold Choirs as founded and formatted by Kate Munger,who led two groups I was part of in California in the mid 2000s. If you know someone ill, dying, or giving birth, that is the time these singers will come when asked (if there is a choir near you): A Capella singing at its best.

—The A Cappella singing of the singers of Sweet Honey in the Rock inspired many women to start community women’s choruses, and I was lucky enough to belong to two: the /Brattleboro Women’s Chorus, founded and conducted by Becky Graber, and Keene, NH’s Animaterra Women’s Chorus, founded and conducted by Allison Aldrich Smith (but now also conducted by Becky since 2016, after Allison moved to Maine), in the 1990s.

I miss those groups a lot and have never found any like them since then that met close enough to other places I have lived. If you are looking for a women’s chorus like these, check out this site and see if you get fortunate enough to live near one!

The Sister Singers Network is an international, “cooperative web of feminist choruses and ensembles, composers, arrangers, and individual singers working together to support and enrich the women’s choral movement.”
http://www.sistersingers.net/index.shtml#.WvNEeKQvypo

The Threshold Choirs (see above) are a part of this network, but have a specific mission.

[NOTE: I found and temporarily joined Charis: The St. Louis Women’s Chorus here in St. Louis, MO, and it is all females (except for the conductor, which I found odd), but the style, the music, the format, the ambiance weren’t at all like the A Cappella choirs in New England that I’d loved, so I dropped out after a few months. Not for me. Many love it, though, so if you’re local, you should try it out!]


As I said at the beginning of this post, this is what I meant when I said that attending and listening to Roy Zimmerman‘s lyrics and being at that performance was somewhat sad, bittersweet, in this horribly disappointing, discouraging, horrifying period in our lives.

Our generation, and specifically, some of the people I knew and admired enough to mention in this and other posts, HAVE accomplished a lot. However, so much of what we fought for and won is threatened, unraveling, already destroyed beyond repair: it’s happening RIGHT NOW.

What else can do besides sing, listen to and make music? VOTE! ORGANIZE! MARCH! OBJECT! RESIST! Please?

I end with this, one of my favorites, written by Sally Rogers, who also gives us “What Can One Little Person Do?” “In the Name of All of Our Children,” and so many more great songs,

“Love Will Guide Us”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xWMnf9SYjo or

“4 Ways Music Can Enhance Your Writing”: Guest Blog Post by Dan Buri

4 Ways Music Can Enhance Your Writing

by Dan Buri

If you find your writing is becoming stale—and let’s face it, we all find our writing is stale from time to time—sit back and enjoy music. I mean that quite literally. Lean back in your writing chair, turn on a song you love, close your eyes, and enjoy the music.

Music has a way of seeping into the soul more viscerally than any other form of art. Let music inspire the words you are writing.

In my recent book, 40 Tips on Creative Writing, I provide an inspirational guide for writers aiming to write their first, second, or even twentieth book.

In any creative endeavor, we all have moments of keen inspiration and moments where our well of creativity seems all but dried up. I wrote the book because of reader requests to consolidate some of the tips and tricks I use to continue to find daily motivation in my writing.

Music is a tried-and-true way for me to find my motivation on days when I find it might be lacking. When I’m not listening to music I’ve purchased and downloaded on my devices, I gravitate toward a couple of different streaming services, including Pandora and Spotify. Here are 4 Ways Music Can Enhance Your Writing.

1. Music Taps Into Our Creative Mind-Wandering Mode.

In Daniel J. Levitin’s book, This is Your Brain on Music , he describes the brain as having two primary modes: (1) paying attention closely and (2) mind-wandering. It is believed that most creativity happens when we are in mind-wandering mode.

This shouldn’t be surprising. When do you usually stumble upon your best ideas? If you’re like me, it’s not when we are laser focused on a task, but instead, when we’re in thoughtful, unorganized contemplation. It’s during these times that our brains will connect two seemingly disparate things and a spark of creativity will occur to bridge them.

There are plenty of ways to get yourself into mind-wandering mode, but as Levitin says, “Music is one of the most exquisitely effective ways of allowing you to enter the mind-wandering mode.”

If you’re looking to inject a spark of creativity into your writing, listen to music you enjoy. You will find your mind entering a realm of creative ideas.

2. Music Increases Verbal Intelligence

In a 2011 study published by the Department of Psychology at York University, researchers found that 90% of children had a significant increase in verbal intelligence after only one month of music lessons. Sylvain Moreno proposed that there is a transfer effect that happens in our ability to understand language from music training, particularly for kids.

What writer wouldn’t like to have a better grasp of language? I know my writing could use a boost in writing and reading comprehension. The more I can increase my verbal intelligence, the better I’ll be as a writer to see the big picture and connect all the dots for my readers.

3. Music Lowers Stress

We now know that music helps to open up creative avenues in the mind, but it also lowers stress levels (just like spending time in nature does). Let’s face it: we writers find ourselves in a variety of stressful situations, like, a deadline is rapidly approaching, or we’re unable to find a journal or website to publish our latest article, or our book is not getting into the hands of readers. If it’s not one stressful encounter in our writing life, it’s another.

A large number of studies have found that listening to music that you enjoy will decrease levels of cortisol—the stress hormone—in the body. One 2002 study from the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that active participation in music produces a significant boost in the immune system.

Sing away, my friends!

4. Music Enhances Memory

I keep a lot of notes. In fact, my wife often gives me a hard time about the number of journals I have floating around the house at any given time. If I don’t write it down, I’ll forget it. I have to jot it down so I can refer back to it later. I now know, however, that my listening to music is helping me remember things as well.

Researchers have found that listening to pleasurable music activates areas of the brain implicated in emotion and reward. They discovered that there’s a correlation between listening to music and our ability to remember or memorize things.

Want to be a smarter writer? Want to increase your vocabulary? Listen to music!


Dan Buri (@DanBuri777 on Twitter) is a trusted resource for writers to gain insight into the difficult world of indie publishing. Dan is a founding member of the Independent Writers Guild, a worldwide organization of writers and publishing professionals dedicated to promoting the interest of indie writers by encouraging public interest in, and fostering an appreciation of, quality indie literature. His website (<a href="http://www.Nothinganygood.com&quot;http://www.Nothinganygood.com<) provides quality advice for all stages of the writing process, from the brainstorming and writing process, to becoming published, to marketing your writing and reaching readers.

Dan Buri’s latest book, 40 Tips on Creative Writing, is currently available in ebook and print formats. His first collection of short fiction, Pieces Like Pottery, which has been recognized on multiple Best-Seller lists, is an exploration of heartbreak and redemption.

His nonfiction works have been distributed online and in print, in publications including Pundit Press, Tree, Summit Avenue Review, American Discovery, and TC Huddle. He is an active IP attorney in the Pacific Northwest and lives in Oregon with his wife and two young children.


DAN BURI

LINKS
Dan Buri email: danburi777@gmail.com
Blog for Indie Writers: Nothing Any Good
Books: Pieces Like Pottery and Newly Released 40 Tips on Creative Writing
Twitter: DanBuri777
Goodreads: Dan Buri

#JoanBaez is a global treasure; talks about her newest and possibly last album, here

#JoanBaez is a global treasure; talks about her newest and possibly last album, here:

https://www.rollingstone.com/music/features/joan-baez-on-first-album-in-a-decade-retiring-from-the-road-w514872

The Mixed Bag of Lessons from My Father

Those of you who read my blog somewhat often know that I don’t usually share anything very personal from my past unless it’s positive. However, this year, due to timing and other factors, I am changing that with this post. If you’re not interested in hearing about my somewhat traumatic childhood or long-deceased father, skip this post! If you are, read on.

If you’d like to leave comments, you are welcomed to do so below this post, on my site: http://wp.me/p2bP0n-1HM [If you leave comments anywhere else that this post may appear (when it’s reblogged or cross-posted), I probably won’t see them very soon, if at all.]

The Mixed Bag of Lessons from My Father

My father died in 1991 at the age I am right now: almost 62. It seemed young even then, when I was only 37. Now, it’s appalling.
Here he is at about the age I was when he died:

Ira 1959
Ira Fleischmann, age 30

Dad died of a massive heart attack while playing doubles indoor tennis. He “was dead before he hit the ground,” according to the three doctors he was playing with at the time. They know this because he fell face forward and hit his forehead but never put out his hands to catch himself in the fall.

Because he had always been a coward about his health and avoided doctors, he died from what was actually a treatable condition (blocked arteries). We found out later that he had been having chest pains for months prior to that and hadn’t done anything about them.

My three siblings (ages 26 – 38 at that time), my dad’s third wife (age 48) and elderly parents (90 and 91), his sister (57) and others in our family and his friends were shocked at his early demise. Understandably, some of us who knew that he had avoided the doctor’s exam and that his death was likely postponable were also angry.

Know this:

FACT: 200,000
At least 200,000 deaths from heart disease and stroke each year are preventable.

FACT: 6 in 10
More than half of preventable heart disease and stroke deaths happen to people under age 65.
from http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/heartdisease-stroke/

We became even more frustrated with him when we found out what a mess he had left his financial affairs in and how much his third wife would have to do to clean it all up. Ironically, even though he had sold life and other insurance policies for most of his life, he had cashed in his latest life policy to get quick cash (he was always short on cash) and died without any insurance. He had not only had made no provisions for his demise, but left no Will, either.

We spend the first few days after his death in a haze of mourning but needing to make many decisions. We ended up arguing about basic stuff:
—should there be an autopsy?
—should he be buried (my observant Orthodox Jewish brother insisted on this) or cremated (the rest of us, including his wife, knew that this was what he had talked about wanting)?
—what to do with the chaos of his home office, files, obligations, etc.?
We worked most of it out, but found out some disturbing facts along the way.

We found hundreds of business cards with some other man’s name, which turned out to be our dad’s alias (a mash-up of his two deceased uncles’ first names). The false name of this business and a local address were on letterhead and there were a few other “clues.” We opened file drawers and a desk drawers and compared notes: our dad had had a secret, alter ego, including another “business” of some type, complete with a fake office nearby.

My sisters and I, in a whirlwind of semi-hysterical giddiness and grief, put on our trench coats (literally) and slunk around to peer into this office’s windows: practically empty. No one was there or appeared to have been recently, but his fake name was on the door. The desk and chair looked unused. Nothing else was in this small room: mail drop only. For what? We knew we’d never find out. This was 1991, before Al Gore gave us the full internet, before Google, etc., and we had no money to pay to investigate in ordinary ways, so the trail ended there.

fraud scrabble

It took almost a year for his wife to make sense of the rest, pay off his numerous debts, settle some lawsuits (he was the defendant or the plaintiff in several). Even though she didn’t have to, she decided to disburse from what was left to us, his three children. It wasn’t much, but we were grateful.

We found out a few years later that our dad had purchased some oil wells in Illinois in the 1970s (yes, there are some!), when we siblings each received a notice about being his beneficiaries: where did we want to have the checks sent? Yippee!? Again, not much, but something.

So much for his financial legacies.

What else did I get from my dad? It was definitely a mixed bag, just like his financial detritus.

Planning for Death
It is cruel and selfish to one’s descendents and mourners to leave one’s affairs unsettled. Since none of us knows when or how we will die and we all know that death and/or incapacitation can happen quite suddenly and unexpectedly, there is no excuse for leaving these things undone when one has children, spouses, property and/or businesses.

The deceased one’s lack of preparedness causes what is already difficult (grieving a sudden or unplanned-for death) to become complicated, making the grieving a longer and more arduous experience for all mourners. Unwinnable arguments, hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and vying for power, money, possessions, property and decision-making victories can take up the time we should be spending in simple grief and storytelling amongst us.

no Will
image from http://news.mdl.com.au
Dying Intestate (without a Will)= BAD

Lessons: Prepare for your death NOW
Because of the mess my dad’s disorganized death left, my son’s father and I responded. We both immediately signed up for a small life insurance policy and wrote our Wills when we got back home (our son was 10 at that time). I made sure I signed up to be an organ donor. We wrote our “Living Wills” so others would know our wishes should one of us become incapacitated and we each assigned a healthcare “Power of Attorney.” I have continually updated these documents and my list of whom to contact and what to do in the event of my death and for the disposal of my remains, any service to be held, etc.

Swimming
Our dad taught me and my brother (13 months older than I, so we did most early learning together) to swim when we were three and four, something I always loved from then on. I trained to and became a lifeguard and swimming instructor as an older teen and ran several waterfronts at summer camps as an adult, training lifeguards and teaching swimming myself. I was fortunate to have had intermediate and advanced swimming lessons every summer while a camper and I appreciated passing those skills on to other campers as I got older.

I developed a love of all places watery and being in the water from my dad. I had many years of jobs at summer camps because our parents sent us to them every summer—starting with the same camp, Camp Hawthorn, which I’ve written about on this blog—that he had attended as a child!

LESSONS: Water Love
I still swim many times per week, right here in St. Louis where I grew up, at the same Jewish Community Center where he taught us to swim (but a recently constructed pool replaced the old one). Because I’ve had many injuries to both legs and my back, swimming is my main exercise.

I have loved and swum in dozens of lakes, several oceans and probably a hundred pools around the world.

DSCF0013
I am lovin’ my sister, Ellen’s, backyard pool in California, 2013

Abuse and Strength
Our father was often an angry, impatient, intolerant, mean and frustrated person. He had been raised with physical and verbal punishment and passed those horrible habits onto my brother and me (mostly just us two oldest kids, because our younger sisters are very much younger). Our father beat up on us regularly, usually for no legitimate reason (most abusers operate that way), e.g., the TV was “too loud,” we weren’t moving quickly enough, we said something he didn’t like, we were tussling with each other too much, etc.

Our dad also yelled at us and our mother a lot and called us all terrible names. He was both physically and emotionally abusive for all my childhood years. When we got older, he focused on hitting my brother but pulling my very long hair. When he got violent and was looking for a target—any target—, I would tell my little sisters to lock themselves in our bathroom. I’d stand between him and that door, letting him pull my hair and slap me to distract him from going after them.

As soon as I got my driver’s license, I’d take them with me rather than leave them at home with him and my mom, who was very ill a lot of my high school years and not much help. They tagged along to visit my friends as we went to movies or listened to music. I took them to play rehearsals and other activities to avoid having them be at home with no one to protect or supervise them.

Luckily, Dad started having tennis matches (and affairs, we found out later), and was mostly out of the house a lot by the time we were in high school. After one extremely violent episode on the eve of my brother’s leaving for college, my mom finally threw him out. It was the beginning of my senior year.

My ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) score is very high, mostly due to my father. A high ACE score has been connected to causes of a myriad of other physical and mental health problems well into adult life, some of which I do have.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) impact
from http://www.npr.org

LESSONS: Lemons into lemonade
I developed tremendous courage, intolerance for abuse, the ability to stand up to anyone, any time. After growing up with and surviving an abusive parent, I would never be intimidated by anyone else.

I vowed never to be like him in those areas. I went out of my way to practice meditation, get counseling and incorporate anger management techniques. I also learned to use many “positive discipline” methods while raising my own son and being a teacher of young people. As a master teacher, I supervised and trained dozens of others and helped them learn the positive discipline techniques I had honed.

I am proud to say that I have never hit my child (who is now 36) or any other child. Furthermore, I intervened whenever I witnessed physical abuse or when I saw that hitting was imminent in public or private places. I do not call children or teens derisive names, nor do I put up with anyone else’s doing it.

I was on the board for a local child abuse prevention task force. I learned and then taught creative conflict resolution techniques and mediation. I also taught parenting classes, mentoring many teen, bio, adoptive, foster and step-parents to help them become more positive and to curtail / end any incipient habits of abuse.

I became an advocate for those being abused. For example, I intervened once when I witnessed several police assaulting a teen and then testified at his trial to get his (bogus) charges dropped. After they falsely arrested me to try to intimidate me out of making a formal complaint against them, I filed a lawsuit which I won. Those assaulting officers were reprimanded and fired. That police department then changed the ways they trained, supervised and managed officers in the field from then on.

Music
My mom and both her siblings and her mom, my dad’s sister and many others in our family were amateur musicians of sorts, mostly piano players or singers. My dad had “flunked out of” his piano lessons, according to him, but he had a great, operatic tenor and loved to sing.

I grew to hate opera because of my associations of his abuse with his favorite music, but I began to play the piano and sing along with many songs and loved music from a very young age. Our dad took us to the symphony a few times (I usually feel asleep, though).

Because of my dad’s commitment to music education, my and my siblings’ love of music was educated (but I still do not like opera, hip-hop, twangy country, bluegrass, free jazz or rap). He paid for my and my sisters’ piano and my brother’s drum lessons and arranged for us to have his own piano teacher to teach me and my sisters for our first years.

Mrs. Rosenblum was ancient, to my young eyes (probably in her 60s!), and a harsh task mistress, but classically trained and very skilled. I became a gifted sight reader due to her tutelage. I won piano competitions and played complicated pieces in her annual recitals, from ages 9 – 16. From ages 16 – 18, I learned theory and improvisation from a different teacher, the talented Herb Drury, who also had his own quartet (my dad also paid for that).

Because of my accomplishments and talent, I was selected to be the accompanist for rehearsals and the annual school musicals in 11th and 12th grades (a great honor). I also sang and accompanied in several of the school choirs as a teen and in/for many community and women’s choruses as an adult.

After I graduated college, I used the small amount of money left to me by my great-grandmother to buy my first piano, one I kept and moved over a dozen times to five different states. I took piano lessons for one year during my first year as a teacher, since I lived alone and had time to practice.

I enjoyed being a paid or volunteer accompanist, musical director, piano teacher and chorus member for most of my adult life. I also have written more than a few songs, am mid-stream in writing a musical (still festering my my files…), performed in and musically directed/accompanied several musicals and cabaret shows and continue to enjoy teaching (rarely) and playing piano.

Closeup of a child's hands playing the piano. Horizontally framed shot.
from http://www.huffingtonpost.com

LESSONS: Music rocks!
Music is a connector: more than a few of my lovers were musicians and/or singers and so is my son, who also composes. His father also plays several instruments and so do many of my friends and all three of my siblings. Music is a language: when I have trouble expressing or finding meaning in some extreme or complicated emotional states, music helps me understand my own and others’ experiences.

Playing piano, especially sight reading, uses both “sides” of my brain. Putting my fingers on a keyboard my son sent me and making music have helped me in my recovery from a Traumatic Brain Injury (from about two years ago).

When my sisters and I get together, we often sing. My son and I have had a lot of fun with “kitchen opera” (the only kind of opera I like), improvising lyrics and melodies as we cook or clean together.


My dad’s later years and my early adult life
Having worked for decades with youth and families, parents and professionals who work with youth in a variety of capacities, both educational and therapeutic, I know that my negative experiences are not even close to “the worst.” I have heard so many horror stories that it puts the difficulties of my life into a proportional perspective. Some of my childhood memories are actually quite positive.

Sally Dad Jon 1955
I, our dad and my brother, 1955, Clayton, MO

At this point, I do not deny the problems my father and his problems caused us, but I have grown to appreciate and be grateful for the good things he did provide. I am resilient and stronger due to a lot of help from other adults and friends. I have developed enormous empathy and compassion for others’ pain. I understand many of the conflicts that arise between parents and children of all ages.

For most of my college and early adult years, my dad and I were estranged to a large extent. I didn’t see him very often and we almost never talked on the phone. My sisters were little when he moved out (6 and 11), so they had the whole divorced parents-visitation-dad’s girlfriends things to contend with that my brother and I never had to do since we were already in college when our parents’ divorce came through.

Occasionally, Dad would send me a check for some odd amount (he liked to round off his checkbook running total to all zeros) with no note. Sometimes I’d rip that up, even though I needed the money. I was angry and hurt, unwilling to connect solely over money.

He remarried twice. The first time was when my brother was in medical school and I had just graduated college. He skipped my graduation, but he invited me and my brother to join him and his new wife, with our current dates, at a resort in New England (where my brother and I were both in college) later that summer. I didn’t want to go, but my brother said we had to. That experience was very weird. We played a lot of tennis and ate too much food; that’s about all I remember. The wife was unremarkable.

On the few occasions I did go to St. Louis during their brief marriage, I remember Dad’s being almost the same as when I had lived with him: he was frequently yelling at this woman’s three kids, calling them names, being horrible. I was disgusted.

At one tense dinner, the oldest (a girl) had left the table in tears due to his name-calling. I followed her into the hallway and stood next to her as she cried. When she was a bit calmer, I told her (from the vantage point of my ripe old age of 22 to her 11) that he was a horrible man and that he had been horrible to me and my brother, too. I then said that I’d stand up for her and that she should call me if he ever hit her or her brothers.

I don’t know what I would have done about his abuse of her and her brothers at that time (I didn’t know about child abuse hotlines, if there even were any in Missouri in 1977), but I do know that I would have appreciated it if ANYONE in my family or among my parents’ friends had ever offered any of us an acknowledgement of his abusiveness, any emotional affirmation of the trauma we were suffering, any kind of lifeline like that; no one ever had.

Luckily for those kids, my dad and their mom divorced soon after that visit.

My brother and his wife had their first child in 1979, a year before we had Merlyn, and then they had another one about a year and half later and two more in the next seven years. Our middle sister had her first child in late 1989. Both my sister-in-law and I took had privately taken Dad aside early on and told him, in no uncertain terms, that if he ever yelled at or laid a hand in anger on any of our children, he’d never see them again. He must have believed us, because he never lost his temper with any of the grandchildren.

Throughout the 1980s, my dad loved his 6 grandkids and enjoyed spending time with them. He happened to be visiting when my son was just learning to walk: Merlyn ran/fell into my dad’s arms as he took his first independent steps in August, 1981. Precious.

For his third marriage in 1986, he married a woman with three daughters around my sisters’ ages who was the same age as Merlyn’s dad. That was creepy, but we liked her all right. We later found out that this wife was an active alcoholic who almost immediately went into recovery soon after they got married.

Because of his wife’s personal recovery work, in the last few years of our dad’s life he had begun his own therapeutic journey. He went to some Al-Anon meetings, read some books relevant, talked with her and others.

During her senior year, my youngest sister, Lauri, went to live with them “to get to know our dad better.” Our mom had also remarried a few years prior to that and she didn’t much like her husband or being the only child at home (my middle sister was finished with college and living in California by then), so those were her other motivating factors. She reported during and after that year (1984) that Dad was starting to develop some insights into his own issues and kept his temper better around these teens (only two, Lauri and her youngest, were living at home): no hitting and very little yelling.

I participated in peer counseling (Re-evaluation Counseling, known as “RC,” and then Co-Counseling) from 1979 – 1986 and then had about ten years of regular therapy, starting in 1986. I also kept meditating, attended many other rituals and personal growth workshops and generally began to understand, heal and assimilate the consequences of my childhood’s traumas.

Due to both of our being involved in personal growth work and the mellowing effect of his having grandchildren, my dad and I were finally—very tentatively—having a more connected, positive relationship. This was helped by my living in New Hampshire and his still being in Missouri (distance and very few visits were key).

Dad at Stern wedding 1989
Ira Fleischmann, age 59, at my sister, Lauri’s, wedding, 1988

In the summer of 1990, we were visiting Dad and his wife (as well as my mom and her husband and other family) in St. Louis. My brother and his family still lived there (he had been doing his medical residency at a local hospital). At my dad’s condo’s complex was an outdoor pool. Merlyn and his cousins were frolicking with my brother and Merlyn’s dad in the pool while my dad and I relaxed in the shade on chaise lounges, drying off after our swim.

Suddenly, my dad looked up from the book he was reading on co-dependency and family problems to say, in a surprised and completely unironic tone: “Oh my God! I grew up in a dysfunctional family! Do you have any idea what that’s like?”

I was so shocked at his lack of awareness, I almost lost my breath. But, I could see that he was authentically having this insight for the first time. I didn’t want to discourage him.

Using my most neutral tone, I responded mildly: “I think I have some idea, Dad.”

He nodded and went back to his book. That was one of our last conversations.

In January, 1991, both of his parents, then in their early 90’s, were celebrating their birthdays. The entire extended family gathered in St. Louis to honor them. Unexpectedly, our dad died about 7 weeks after that reunion, so we were very glad that we had had that time all together.

Dad and Sarah at grandparents BD 1991
At the last family reunion, January, 1991. Counter-clockwise, from bottom left: our youngest sister, Lauri Stern; Ira Fleischmann with his youngest granddaughter, Ellen’s oldest, Sarah Miranda Kneeland; Dad’s sister, our Aunt Nancy Levin; her middle child, cousin Hillary Levin.

MacArthur [Foundation] Announces [a year-long series of] Performances, Discussion to Celebrate 35 Years of Iconic Fellowship Program”

MacArthur [Foundation] Announces [a year-long series of] Performances, Discussion to Celebrate 35 Years of Iconic Fellowship Program”
https://www.macfound.org/press/press-releases/macarthur-announces-performances-discussion-celebrate-35-years-iconic-fellowship-program/#sthash.wuDoFQcB.dpuf

AND

Events Calendar
https://www.macfound.org/events/fellows35/?all=1

The-MacArthur-Fellowship-Program logo

These events are happening mostly in Chicago and on the East Coast (Washington, D.C., New York City), but will be broadcast/put online as well. Awesome! And, “Most of the events will be open to the public for free or at low cost.”

I have always been fascinated by and love seeing who gets these grants each year. I adore the entire secrecy of the process (no one knows, supposedly, who does the selecting, no one can be nominated, and no one can self-nominate). So, one day, my friends and I imagine, someone gets this phone call or email saying: You have been selected as a MacArthur Foundation Fellow for a “Genius Grant”! What an amazing thing to happen!

The panel chooses such an excellent variety of creative, intelligent, talented and skilled individuals, also. Each year, we can learn about their Fellows and meet jugglers, dancers, scientists, writers, playwrights, poets, musicians, choreographers, youth workers and other educators, environmentalists and activists of other types and whoever strikes their fancy all honored in this way. Usually they choose about 20 people from all around the country. Not all are young, not all are older; not all are men or women; not all are Caucasian. Fabulous.

The MacArthur Fellowship[s], called “genius grants” by the media, recognize[s] exceptionally creative individuals with a track record of achievement and the potential for significant contributions in the future.

Fellows each receive a no-strings-attached stipend of $625,000, which comes with no stipulations or reporting requirements and allows recipients maximum freedom to follow their own creative visions. Since 1981, 942 people have been named MacArthur Fellows.

Fellows are selected through a rigorous process that has involved thousands of expert and anonymous nominators, evaluators, and selectors over the years.

The Foundation does not accept unsolicited nominations.

This year “is expected to include the following events as well as others to be announced later.

  • Public artist Rick Lowe will deliver a lecture on “Art in the Social Context” at Stanford University’s Haas Center for Public Service as part of the Mimi and Peter E. Haas Distinguished Visitor program (Stanford, CA, Feb. 4).
  • The College Art Association will host a discussion with photographer LaToya Ruby Frazier and public artist Rick Lowe as part of its 104th Annual Conference (Washington, DC, Feb. 5).
  • The Poetry Foundation will present the Chicago-based collective Every House Has a Door’s adaptation of a work by poet Jay Wright (Chicago, Feb. 20).
  • In conjunction with an exhibition of her work, the Whitney Museum of American Art will host a discussion with documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras (New York City, Feb.).
  • Sixth & I, a historic synagogue and cultural event space, will present a panel discussion on immigration featuring writers Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Aleksandar Hemon and Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council Cecilia Muñoz (Washington, DC, March 7).
  • New York’s 92nd Street Y will present a panel discussion featuring MacArthur Fellows (New York, March).
  • Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry will host MacArthur Fellows for events marking National Robotics Week, including Jr. Science Cafes, a public conversation, and robotics demonstrations (Chicago, April 2).
  • The National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution, in collaboration with the American Historical Association, will host a conference on “The Future of the African American Past,” featuring scholars, activists and historians, including several MacArthur Fellows (Washington, DC, May 19-21, 2016).
  • The Poetry Foundation will host a reading by poet and writer Alice Fulton (Chicago, May 24).
  • The Economic Club of Chicago will feature two conversation pairings with arts entrepreneur Claire Chase and music educator Aaron Dworkin as well as computational biologist John Novembre and historian Tara Zahra (Chicago, May 25).
  • Wingspread will host a public event featuring MacArthur Fellows working on issues of interest to the Johnson Foundation and the Racine community (Racine, Wisconsin, May).
  • The Chicago Humanities Festival will host a one-day series of programs highlighting the work of MacArthur Fellows (Chicago, May).
  • MacArthur Fellows will be featured in a plenary session at the annual convention of Americans for the Arts (Boston, June).
  • Orchestra conductor and MacArthur Fellow Marin Alsop is designing three free evenings of performances in conjunction with the Grant Park Music Festival that will showcase MacArthur Fellows working in music and science, including cellist Alisa Weilerstein, violinist Regina Carter, and composer Osvaldo Golijov (Chicago, July).
  • The Harris Theater will host a free, two-night dance performance series featuring curated works created by MacArthur Fellows, including Kyle Abraham, Merce Cunningham, Michelle Dorrance, Susan Marshall, Mark Morris, and Shen Wei (Chicago, Sept. 16 and 17 or 18).
  • The Chicago Humanities Festival will incorporate MacArthur Fellows into its regular annual programming (Chicago, Sept.).
  • The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts will host two free public performances by MacArthur Fellows through its Millennium Stage series (Washington, DC, Oct.).
  • Conservation biologist Claire Kremen will speak at as part of the Women in Science series at The Field Museum (Chicago, Nov. 2).
  • Also during the year-long anniversary MacArthur Fellows will field questions from the public in Reddit ask-me-anything sessions and appear on other digital platforms.

Attend! View! Learn! Appreciate! Enjoy!

More info about the Fellows Eligibility, Criteria and Selection Process, from their website:

Criteria:
“There are three criteria for selection of Fellows: exceptional creativity, promise for important future advances based on a track record of significant accomplishment, and potential for the fellowship to facilitate subsequent creative work.

“The MacArthur Fellows Program is intended to encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations. In keeping with this purpose, the Foundation awards fellowships directly to individuals rather than through institutions. Recipients may be writers, scientists, artists, social scientists, humanists, teachers, entrepreneurs, or those in other fields, with or without institutional affiliations. They may use their fellowship to advance their expertise, engage in bold new work, or, if they wish, to change fields or alter the direction of their careers.

“Although nominees are reviewed for their achievements, the fellowship is not a lifetime achievement award, but rather an investment in a person’s originality, insight, and potential. Indeed, the purpose of the MacArthur Fellows Program is to enable recipients to exercise their own creative instincts for the benefit of human society.

“The Foundation does not require or expect specific products or reports from MacArthur Fellows and does not evaluate recipients’ creativity during the term of the fellowship. The MacArthur Fellowship is a “no strings attached” award in support of people, not projects. Each fellowship comes with a stipend of $625,000 to the recipient, paid out in equal quarterly installments over five years.”

How Fellows are Chosen:
“Nominees are brought to the Program’s attention through a constantly changing pool of invited external nominators. The nominators are encouraged to nominate the most creative people they know within their field and beyond. They are chosen from as broad a range of fields and areas of interest as possible.

“Nominations are evaluated by an independent Selection Committee composed of about a dozen leaders in the arts, sciences, humanities professions, and for-profit and nonprofit communities. Each nomination is considered with respect to the program’s selection criteria, based on the nomination letter along with original works of the nominee and evaluations from other experts collected by the program staff.

“After a thorough, multi-step review, the Selection Committee makes its recommendations to the President and Board of Directors of the MacArthur Foundation. Announcement of the annual list is usually made in September. While there are no quotas or limits, typically 20 to 30 Fellows are selected each year. Since 1981, 942 people have been named MacArthur Fellows.

“Nominators, evaluators, and selectors all serve anonymously and their correspondence is kept confidential. This policy enables participants to provide their honest impressions independent of outside influence.

“The Fellows Program does not accept applications or unsolicited nominations.”

Eligibility:
“There are no restrictions on becoming a Fellow, except that nominees must be either residents or citizens of the United States, and must not hold elective office or advanced positions in government as defined by the statute.”

My Movie Review of “‘Ricki and the Flash’ – Meryl Streep is Terrific” on Blogcritics.org

My movie review of “‘Ricki and the Flash’ – Meryl Streep is Terrific,” on Blogcritics.org,
went live 8/27/15!

Summary : Excellent rock’n’roll cover band fronted by Meryl Streep and Rick Springfield in a touching family drama. 4 Stars!

Ricki_and_the_Flash_poster

SCROLL DOWN on this site (link below) to leave a comment!
http://blogcritics.org/movie-review-ricki-and-the-flash-meryl-streep-is-terrific/